August 17 – Myron; Mamas; Carloman

Myron of Cyzicus (c. 250) was a priest in Achaia. One Christmas he was celebrating the divine liturgy with his flock when the ICE—sorry, Roman army—busted down the door and started to drag the people away. “Wait!” cried Myron. “Take me and let my people go, you heartless creeps.” The soldiers, used to taking orders (and a little stung by being called heartless creeps, for they were merely doing their jobs and arguments about justice and freedom of religion were above their pay grade), did just that.

After a short but pleasant trip to the governor’s palace, Myron was beaten with rods, and tossed into a burning fiery furnace (which scorched 150 men standing nearby) (no word on whether the BFF was shaped like a bull). He was then ordered to worship idols, but this Myron was unwilling to do, so the governor (whose name was Antipater (“against the father”)) ordered that (CHILDREN LOOK AWAY) thongs of flesh be excised from his skin. Myron picked one of them up and threw it into the governor’s face, which is why Antipater is called thongface to this very day. (Of course I kid. He’s called “Antipater.”) He ordered that Myron be beaten a bit more, then tossed to the wild beasts (as opposed to wildebeests, of which there were all too few in third-century Achaia). When the beasts sniffed and walked away, Antipater flew into a rage and killed himself. The soldiers then hauled Myron to Cyzicus, about 300 miles ENE from Achaia (why? you may well ask) and beheaded him.

Mamas of Caesarea (ca. 260–ca. 275) was a young shepherd in Cappadocia. He longed to be a preacher, but, being hindered by his profession, could only preach to the sheep and other beasties that gathered around him in the fields. So he did just that. We don’t know if the beasties were converted to Christianity or accepted baptism (the latter seems unlikely) but that didn’t faze our hero (actually the former seems unlikely too). He expounded the Gospel to them, and they listened meekly. Like sheep, even.

One regular member of the audience was a lion, who grew so fond of Mamas that he became his constant companion and protector. When Mamas was called before the authorities during the persecutions of Aurelian, the lion went with him, although this didn’t stop Mamas from being martyred. He was a mere fifteen years old. For reasons that don’t bear going into (because I don’t know them), his relics were translated to Langres, France, in the eighth century. He is especially venerated in Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal, and a town in Île-de-France is named after him.

Carloman (707–755), today’s bonus saint, was born to become king of Austrasia, so he did (waiting patiently until papa died, of course). His younger brother Pepin the Short (I can’t imagine he liked being called that) became king of next-door Neustria. Carloman’s nephew (Pepinito’s son) was Carloman I, king of the Franks, which presumably makes our Carloman Carloman the Zeroth. Where was I? Carloman was a conflicted king, ruthlessly consolidating the power of his family, but also supporting the church and especially the missionary work of (St.) Boniface (“bony face,” or perhaps “pleasant face”—my Latin is rusty).

Late in life he either abdicated and pilgrimaged to Rome, or pilgrimaged to Rome and was kept there on order of Pepin the Diminutive. However it was, he was tonsured a monk by the Pope (Zachary the Onlyth), and retired to the Monastery of Monte Cassino, where among other things he served as a shepherd (thus tracing King David’s footsteps in reverse, albeit many hundreds of miles away). Somehow he died in Vienne, France, but why he went there our sources do not say. His son Drogo was usurped by Pepin the Pint-Sized, which I only mention for the gratuitous Tolkien reference.