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Babylas, Saint

Successor of Zebinus as Bishop of Antioch, martyred during Decian persecution (d. 250)

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Babylas, Bishop and Martyr.—He was the successor of Zebinus as Bishop of Antioch in the reign of the Emperor Gordianus (238-244), being the twelfth bishop of this Oriental metropolis. During the Decian persecution (250) he made an unwavering confession of faith and was thrown into prison where he died from his sufferings. He was, therefore, venerated as a martyr. St. John Chrysostom and the “Acts of the Martyrs” relate further concerning him, that Babylas once refused an emperor, on account of his wrongdoing, permission to enter the church and had ordered him to take his place among the penitents. Chrysostom does not give the name of the emperor; the Acts mention Numerianus. It is more probably Philip the Arabian (244-249) of whom Eusebius (Hist. eccl., VI, xxxiv) reports that a bishop would not let him enter the gathering of Christians at the Easter vigil. The burial-place of St. Babylas became very celebrated. The Caesar Gallus built a new church in honor of the holy martyr at Daphne, a suburb of Antioch, and the bones of the saint were transferred to it. When after this Julian the Apostate consulted the oracle of Apollo at the temple to this god which was near by, he received no answer because of the proximity of the saint. He, therefore, had the sarcophagus of the martyr taken back to its original place of burial. In the Middle Ages the bones of Babylas were carried to Cremona. The Latin Chirch keeps his feast on January 24, the Greek Church on September 4.


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