Saints Carpus, Papylus (and Agathonice/Agathonike, and Agathodorus), 13 April (and 13 October in some Jurisdictions)

Saints SS. Carpus, Papylus (and Agathonice/Agathonike, and Agathodorus), 13 April (13 October)

Martyrs of Pergamum, in Asia Minor, in 170, victims of a persecution by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. In the longer "Acts" (Accounts) (see below) Carpus is said to be a bishop (of Gordion in Phrygia region of Turkey, and also Gordion was the King Midas' city), Papylus a deacon, and Agathonice the latter’s sister. The shorter " Acts" (see below) sinply state they are Christians.

The longer "Acts" of their martyrdom at the hands of the proconsul Optimus has survived and is full of heroic and stirring words of defiant faith. Carpus: “The gods are unfeeling; deprive them our your veneration and they will be defiled by dogs and crows. I have never before sacrificed to images which have no feeling or understanding”. Papylus: “I have many children, in virtue of the faith of the Christians; spiritual children in every province and city. I feel no pain because I have someone to comfort me; one whom you do not see suffers within me”. Agathonice: “If I am worthy I desire to follow the footsteps of my teachers. My children have God, who watches over them”.

They were sentenced to be tortured with clawing instruments and then burnt alive for refusing to worship the "gods".

Another account relates: The Martyrs Carpus, Papylus, Agathodorus and Agathonike, at Pergamun, suffered during a time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Decius in the third century. The governor of the district where the saints lived became aware that Carpus and Papylus did not celebrate the pagan festivals. He gave orders to arrest the transgressors and first to try to persuade them of the veracity of the Roman pagan religion. The saints replied that it would be improper to worship false gods. The judge then ordered them to be bound and led through the city in iron chains, and then to be tied to horses and dragged to the nearby city of Sardis. Agathodorus and Agathonike voluntarily followed after Carpus and Papylus. In Sardis they choked Agathonike to death with ox sinews, and beheaded Carpus, Papylus and Agathodorus. During life St. Papylus was known for his gift of treating the sick; after his martyr's death, he invariably gives healing to all who pray to him with faith.

A detailed account of the martyrdoms of Carpus, Papylus, and Agathonice is extant in numerous mss., and has been published more than once. It has, however, long been recognized as spurious and entirely untrustworthy. But in 1881 Aubč published in the Revue Archavalogique (Dec., p. 348 sq.) a shorter form of the Acts of these martyrs, which he had discovered in a Greek ms. in the Paris Library. There is no reason to doubt that these Acts are genuine and, in the main, quite trustworthy. The longer Acts assign the death of these martyrs to the reign of Decius, and they have always been regarded as suffering during that persecution. Aubč, in publishing his newly discovered document, still accepted the old date; but Zahn, upon the basis of the document which he had also seen, remarked in his Tatian's Diatessaron (p. 279) that Eusebius was correct in assigning these martyrdoms to the reign of Marcus Aurelius, and Lightfoot (I. p. 625) stated his belief that they are to be assigned either to that reign or to the reign of Septimius Severus. In 1888 Harnack (Texte und Unters. III. 4) published a new edition of the Acts from the same ms. which Aubč had used, accompanying the text with valuable notes and with a careful discussion of the age of the document. He has proved beyond all doubt that these martyrs were put to death during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, and that the shorter document which we have contains a genuine account related by an eye-witness. These are evidently the Acts which Eusebius had before him. In the spurious account Carpus is called a bishop, and Papylus a deacon. But in the shorter account they are simply Christians, and Papylus informs the judge that he is a citizen of Thyatira.

+