St Philopateer Mercorius
Claim to fame: His parents were Christians and they called him Philopateer (which means “Lover of the Father”). When he grew, he enlisted in the army during the days of Emperor Decius, the pagan. The Lord gave Philopateer the strength and the courage, for which he earned the satisfaction of his superiors. They called him Mercurius and he grew very close to the Emperor. When the berbers rose up against Rome, Decius went out to fight them, but when he saw how many they were, he became terrified. St. Mercurius assured him saying, “Do not be afraid, because God will destroy our enemies and will bring us victory.” When he left the Emperor, an angel appeared to him in the shape of a human being, dressed in white apparel. The angel gave him a sword saying, “When you overcome your enemies, remember the Lord your God.” When Emperor Decius conquered his enemies and Mercurius came back victorious, the angel appeared to him and reminded him of what he told him previously, that is, to remember the Lord his God. However, Decius and his soldiers with him, wanted to offer up incense to his idols. St Mercuruis did not. The Emperor reprimanded him for refusing to come and offer incense to the idols. The Saint cast his girdle and his military attire down before the Emperor and said to him, “I do not worship anyone except my Lord and my God Jesus Christ.” The Emperor became angry and ordered him to be beaten with whips and stalks. When the Emperor saw how the people of the city and the soldiers were attached to St. Mercurius, the Emperor feared that they might revolt. So instead, he bound him in iron fetters and sent him to Caesarea where they cut off his head.
Quote: “Do not to be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more they can do. But I will show you of whom to be afraid; of him who after he has killed has the power to throw into hell.” (Luke 12:4-5)
Fun fact: St Basil once prayed before an icon on which Mercurius was portrayed as a soldier carrying a spear. He asked God not to permit the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) to return from his war against the Persians and resume his oppression of Christians. The image of the holy Great Martyr Mercurius depicted on the icon became invisible, only to reappear later with a bloodied spear. Julian the Apostate, on his Persian campaign, was mortally wounded by the spear of an unknown soldier.