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Holy New Martyr Zacharias feast day 20 January
The Holy New Martyr Zachariah was from the Peloponnesos in Greece. He renounced Christ to become a Moslem, then went to ancient Patras and worked there as a furrier. He had a book, The Salvation of Sinners, which he often read. The book moved him to repentance, and he wept bitterly for the great evil he had done.
Saint Zachariah met a certain Elder and told him of his sin. After praying and fasting for twenty days, he returned to the Elder and confessed all the sins he had committed during his life. When he asked the Elder’s blessing to seek martyrdom, the holy man tried to discourage him. He warned that he might not be killed swiftly, but only after much torture. He also pointed out the danger that Zachariah would betray Christ a second time under the torments he would endure. The saint, aflame with zeal for martyrdom, said he was prepared to suffer myriad punishments for the sake of Christ.
The Elder read the prayers of absolution and chrismated the saint (as is done when apostates from the Faith are received back into the Church), then administered the Holy Mysteries to him. Then he blessed Zachariah to go back to the Moslems and declare his faith in Christ. On his way, the saint asked forgiveness from each Christian he met.
The holy martyr went to the judge’s house and said that he had been deceived when he accepted their religion, but now he had come to his senses and returned to Christ. Saint Zachariah was thrown into prison, where he was beaten three times a day.
Finally, the saint died by being stretched out on a rack. Christians asked for his body so they might bury it, but the Moslems refused. They said, “He is neither one of you, nor one of us, for he denied both religions. Therefore, he is unworthy of burial.” His body was dragged through the streets and thrown into a dry well, landing on its knees in an upright position. Christians saw a radiant light over the well the next night, and hastened to venerate the saint. The Turks filled the well with dirt and debris to prevent such gatherings in the future.
By shedding his blood, the holy New Martyr Zachariah washed away the sin of his denial of Christ and received an unfading crown of glory in the year 1782.