3.10.1 At the same time, the Iberians and the Lazi in Pontus also received the word of God, but they had not yet believed in it. A woman who was held captive with them was responsible for this great blessing. She amazed them all by pursuing a preeminent lifestyle through self-control and other good deeds.

3.10.2 When they asked about the motivation for her strict asceticism, the holy woman simply said, “It is because of Christ, the Son of God.” This response did not bring anyone to reverent faith, though. They only marveled at the woman and took note of many things as they observed her unusual lifestyle.

3.10.3 Now it was their custom to go around to all the locals and get help from all parts whenever an infant fell ill. So it happened that a certain woman came to the captive as she went around to everyone.

3.10.4 She said to the woman standing at the door with her child, “I myself will not be able to help the child, but I know that Christ, whom I have mentioned to you so often, is able both to raise the dead and to grant healing to the incurable.” The boy’s mother pleaded with the captive. Moved with compassion for the supplicant, she wrapped the child in her blanket, prayed to God, and gave him back to his mother in good health.

3.10.5 News of this event spread to many and reached even the queen, who was bedridden with a very serious illness. She had been ill for some time, and by then the severe sickness which had overtaken her was incurable. So she resolved to send servants to ask the captive to come to her, but with fear and caution she refused to go to the queen because she was aware of the instability which results from worldly fame.

3.10.6 Now when the queen learned that she refused to come, the queen ordered that she be carried on her bed to the prisoner. The blessed captive was abashed at the queen’s humility and wrapped her in her blanket in the same way. Then she knelt, prayed to God with her customary vow to Christ, and sent the joyous queen home in good health. She was walking on her own feet, a new and strange sight to the locals, and professing the grace of Christ as she had learned from the captive woman. As she went, she clearly proclaimed, “Glory be to you, O Christ, Lord of this captive. Grace and all honor are yours as Savior of us who are found worthy to believe in you.”

3.10.7 The queen also reported everything to her husband. This prompted him to reward the captive with money as fitting compensation for the good deed done to his wife.

3.10.8 But the queen said to him, “This captive, O king, does not want money, nor does she save up gold. It would be enough of a gift to her that we only believe that Christ is the Son of God Most High. Since her whole life consists of fasting and self-control, treasures of gold and silver are useless to her. I have put this pious woman to the test. I tell you the truth, my king. Now if you meditate on my healing, let us repay the woman in an unusual way by accepting her Christ for worship.” PB

3.10.9 The king, meanwhile, was more reluctant. Although his wife often urged him, he delayed and refused her request with promises. He would say that he hoped an opportune time would present itself for him in this matter. This happened according to the foreknowledge of God, “who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” [1 Timothy 2:4].

3.10.10 For it so happened that he was separated from his companions while hunting in a thick, dense forest. In broad daylight, night unexpectedly fell. At midday, deep darkness suddenly spread throughout the whole forest where the king was. Since his companions happened to be scattered here and there to hunt, the king was seized with great fear because he could hardly imagine how to escape this assault.

3.10.11 But since all his companions were enduring the same constraint (although eager to come to him, the darkness held each of them fast in whatever place it had overtaken him and did not allow them to move forward towards each other’s outcries), the king at that time remembered his wife and the captive who had healed her from an incurable state and cried out, “O Christ, Lord of the captive, help me in my present circumstances so that I may escape the constraint laid upon me, for I have sure proof of your divine power in my wife.” As soon as he finished his prayer, the darkness receded, and daylight shone brighter than before over the whole forest where they had been stuck.

3.10.12 They came home in perfect health and quickly found that the king was ordering the captive to come to him at once. He promised to no longer worship any other god except Jesus Christ, whom the woman worshipped.

3.10.13 Then the captive woman went and became the king’s teacher, presenting to him the whole rule of faith. The joyful king was not ashamed to learn the religion from a humble woman. On the contrary, he took pride in her and had her brought to the middle of the crowd, where the king spoke openly about her: “By the grace of Christ, the king of all, my wife escaped death through this woman’s prayer.” He tried to persuade his subjects, if they wished to be saved, to be of the same mind, commit themselves to the worship of Christ, and despise idols.

3.10.14 When he learned from the holy woman that they had to build churches for the worship of Christ, he eagerly began this task at once. Builders had already put up the walls of the building, but pillars had yet to be set up in the center of the building to separate the men and women who would gather. It was at this point that God wanted to implant in the king and all his subjects a firm conviction concerning the gospel of his Son Jesus Christ, which the captive woman preached. So he caused the third pillar, set up in the middle but still crooked, not to be completely upright like the other two. The craftsmen tried their best, but they only split and shredded their ropes with all their cranes and quickly fled lest they get caught on the ground under the pillar and perish. The pillar was hanging crooked in the air, and none of them could think of any solution, as the craftsmen usually did.

3.10.15 The captive heard about this and was terrified that the people would turn back to idols. She came to the place at sunset, knelt before God until morning, and raised up the pillar through her prayer—not standing on its pedestal, but floating upright about one cubit above it. God arranged that the captive would not go home until the people arrived so that they might know her faith in the true God she preached.

3.10.16 So they came early in the morning with the king and were utterly amazed when they saw the huge pillar floating upright. Then, with the captive clearly visible to everyone because of what had happened, as she got up from prayer, the pillar was suddenly lowered with the utmost precision, as if craftsmen were fitting it to its pedestal. Much more than any pillar before or after it, this one appeared stable.

3.10.17 Thereupon, the rest of the people gathered and together professed the faith of the king, worshipping Christ—such was the exhortation of the captive, as a holy woman. She feared that the simple people, seduced by inherited superstition, they might transfer to her their devotion to Christ, or rather, acquire an opinion of her which would hinder piety.

3.10.18 Therefore, she invited them to join in her prayer as she fitted the floating pillar into place, thereby eclipsing their opinion of her and emphasizing that the power of Christ the Savior transcends all who piously worship him in deeds beyond human power.

3.10.19 After the completion of the church building, the captive suggested that the king and queen send emissaries to the companion of piety, the God-loving Emperor Constantine, to ask him to send a member of the clergy to consecrate the church. When the ambassadors sent by the king and the Iberian people reached Constantinople, they told Emperor Constantine about the faith in Christ which had become stronger there and asked that he provide them with a bishop to consecrate and direct their churches.

3.10.20 The pious, Christ-loving Emperor Constantine received them kindly. Full of joy in the Lord, he granted their request. He charged Alexander, bishop of Constantinople, to appoint a bishop for the Iberians, for he understood that it was God’s will to subject foreigners to him.

3.10.21 The trustworthy Baccurius, a reverent and distinguished man from the royal family of the Iberians, taught us of these things. He was a Roman provincial commander who led a campaign in the mountains of Palestine against the barbarous Saracens and skillfully won the victory over them.

3.10.22 But let us return to the history at hand. Emperor Constantine, so zealous for Christianity and burning with an apostolic love of Christ, was again building churches city by city, including one near the tree called Mamre, where Abraham entertained the angels, as the Holy Scriptures declare.

3.10.23 For when the all-excellent, God-loving Emperor Constantine learned that under that tree there was an altar on which pagan sacrifices were offered, he wrote a letter reproaching Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, for countenancing such loathsome activity and gave orders to tear down the altar and build a church of the living God near the tree.

3.10.24 Moreover, when he learned that the people of Heliopolis in Phoenicia were leading ungodly lives and engaging in shameful conduct, he put an end to their shameful lifestyle with holy law, built a church in the same city, arranged for the ordination of a bishop, and gave orders that along with the bishop a holy clergy should be ordained in the church. Thus he moderated the abuses of the inhabitants of Heliopolis. In addition, he chose Christians who exemplified a holy lifestyle as political officials in the city and all the surrounding area. He threatened the inhabitants with death if they would not renounce their former shameful conduct and their worship of loathsome idols forthwith.

3.10.25 He also demolished the temple of Aphrodite in Aphaca, removed the unspeakable abominations, drove out the demoniac prophet in Cilicia, and gave the order to raze the temple in which he lurked to the ground.

3.10.26 The faithful Emperor Constantine performed such good deeds all over the world. In this church history I want to offer yet another proof of the God-loving Emperor Constantine’s faith in the God of all. So great was his longing and zeal for Christ that, while preparing for an invasion of Persia on behalf of the Christians there, he had a tent of artful fine linen made to act as a church, as Moses had done in the wilderness. He had them carry it along on the way so that in desolate areas he might have a place of prayer where he could send up his prayers to God.

3.10.27 At that time, however, he did not execute the campaign against Persia as he had planned because he was concerned about the peace of God’s churches. But their king (that of the Persians, I mean), who looked after the pupils of piety under him, learned that they were persecuted by ungodly people there and that their king (namely, Sabor), a slave to error, himself devised all kinds of schemes against them. So he wrote to Constantine, calling him to piety and demanding that pious Christians enjoy respect.1 The letter itself will clearly show the zeal of the Christ-loving emperor:2


Next Chapter – 3.11 Emperor Constantine’s Letter to Sapor, King of the Persians, concerning God’s providence for his people

Previous Chapter – 3.9 Frumentius and Edesius and those in the middle of India

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Created by RR 6-13-22

  1. The anonymous compiler seems to have created a self-contradictory account by inventing a pro-Christian Persian king in addition to the hostile Shapur II (here called Sabor).
  2. The following letter is also preserved in Theodoret 1.25.1-11.

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