Commemorated on July 8th
Great Martyr Prokopios
Theodosia, the fanatical pagan mother of Prokopios, who loathed Christians, did all in her power to raise her son a pagan, and she was successful. In his youth, Prokopios was a typical pagan. Yet, God had other plans for this young man. His daily contact with Christians, from whom he heard many astonishingly beautiful things about Christ and His Holy Apostles, slowly interested him in the faith he up to then had despised. He began to see that the Christians, though lacking beautiful temples embellished with statues and decorous splendour, possessed another kind of beauty not to be found in any other religion or philosophical system. They possessed the truth, indeed, the ultimate truth about God, man, salvation, and eternal life.
With the passing of time, he was baptised to live ever after as a very devout Christian. Thus, by the grace of Almighty God, a former typical pagan had now been transformed to an ideal Christian. In fact, this is how Eusebios, a noted church historian and contemporary of Prokopios, described the saint and his martyrdom.
"He was a man so filled with divine grace that he had devoted himself to chastity and the practice of all virtues. He had reduced his body until he had given it, so speak, the appearance of a corpse, but his soul drew from the word of God so great a vigour that the body itself was refreshed by it".
Studying on the Divine Word so filled his being that he remained absorbed in it day and night without fatigue. Filled with goodness and gentleness, regarding himself as the least of men, he edified everyone by his discourses. The Word of God was his sole study, and he had but little knowledge of profane science, Born at Aelia (the pagan name of Jerusalem), he had taken up his residence at Scythopolis to Caesarea.
He had scarcely passed the city gates when he was conducted into the presence of the governor, and even before he had had a taste of chains or prison walls, he was urged by the judge, Flavian, to sacrifice to the gods. But he, in a loud voice, proclaimed that there were not several gods, but one alone, the creator and author of all things.
This answer made a vivid impression on the judge. Finding nothing to say in reply, he tried to persuade Prokopios, at least, to sacrifice to the emperors. This martyr of God spurned his entreaties. 'Listen," he said, 'it is not good to have several masters; let there be one chief, one king"'. At these words, as though he had uttered insults against the emperors, the judge ordered him to be executed.
They cut off his head, and he passed happily to eternal life on the eighth day in the month of July. This was the first martyrdom that took place in Caesarea. And so a beautiful soul, that for years served as an ideal example of Christian virtue, through a tragic death, inherited the Kingdom of God's elect in 303 AD.
Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)
Your Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for You received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from You, our immortal God. For since he possessed You strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' powerless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since You are merciful.
Kontakion (Second Tone)
Devoutly aflame with godly zeal for Christ your Lord, and armed with the strength and power of the precious Cross, you cast down headlong thy foes' exalted pride, O Procopios, exalting Christ's holy Church, advancing in faith and shedding light on us.