Thursday, December 24, 2015

St Ahmed the Calligrapher

Upon hearing the name Ahmed, one would say that this is not a Christian name. Nonetheless, the Orthodox Church has St Ahmed, a Turk, as a Saint of the Church. The holy New Martyr Ahmed was born in the 17th century to a Muslim family in Constantinople, the capital of the then Ottoman Empire. In accordance with Ottoman law, due to the fact that he did not have a wife, he had a slave instead. In his case he had a Russian woman. Additionally, he had an old Russian woman slave living with them too. Both the women were very pious.

On feast days the old Russian woman would go to Church. She would bring back with her the antidoron, blessed bread given at the end of the service, giving it to the younger woman. She would also bring with her Holy Water. Every time this occurred and Ahmed was close by, he would smell a beautiful and indescribable fragrance coming out of her mouth. He would ask her what she was eating to make her mouth smell so fragrant. Not realising what was happening, the slave would say that she was not eating anything. Nevertheless, he persisted in asking. Eventually she told him that she was eating the bread which had been blessed by the priests. She also explained the life, death, resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that miracles still take place.
When Ahmed heard this, he was filled with longing to see the Orthodox Church and how the Orthodox received this blessed bread. Therefore, he summoned a priest and told him to prepare a secret place for him, so that he could go when the Patriarch was serving the Liturgy. When the appointed day arrived, dressed as an Orthodox, he went to the Patriarchate and followed the Divine Liturgy. While he was in church, he saw the Patriarch shining with light and lifted off the floor, as he came out of the alter and through the holy doors to bless the people. As he blessed, rays of light came from his fingertips, but though the rays fell on the heads of all the Orthodox, they did not fall on Ahmed’s head. This happened a couple of times, and each time Ahmed saw the same thing. Therefore, Ahmed became Orthodox. He remained a secret Orthodox for some time, concealing his new name; that is why we do not know his Christian name.
One day Ahmed and certain noblemen were eating together. After the meal they sat talking and smoking, as is the Muslim custom. In the course of the conversation they began to discuss what the greatest thing in the world is. Each one gave his opinion on this topic. One said that the greatest thing in the world was for a man to have wisdom. The other stated that a woman is the greatest thing in the world, whilst the last one that good food is by far, the most delightful thing in the world.
When Ahmed’s turn came, filled with holy zeal, he cried out that the greatest thing of all was the Faith of the Orthodox. Confessing his Christian belief, he boldly censured the falseness and deception of the Muslims. When the others heard of this, they were shocked. Followed by rage, they dragged Ahmed to a judge, so that he could be sentenced to death. He was beheaded and became a Martyr of the Orthodox Church on 3rd May 1682. His memory is commemorated on the 24thDecember.

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