Hieromartyr Damascene the New

The Hieromartyr Damascene the New was born in the village of Gabrovo of the Trnovo diocese in Bulgaria. He left his home as a young man and went to the Hilandar monastery on Mount Athos. Over time, he was ordained deacon and priest, fulfilling various obediences in the monastery. Later he was chosen as the igumen.

Saint Damascene often journeyed to various places on monastery business. One day Father Damascene was sent to Svishtov [Svištov, in Serbian], Bulgaria to collect rent from a Moslem on some property owned by the monastery. To avoid paying the debt, the man sent a Moslem woman to the room where the saint was staying. Then he and others broke in and accused Father Damascene of impropriety. If he was found guilty, he could be put to death.

The kadi (judge) did not believe that Father Damascene was guilty of the charges, but since the other Moslems had given false testimony against him, the judge had to find him guilty. Before taking him to be executed, he was given the choice of being put to death, or of saving his life by converting to Islam. The saint replied, “I was born a Christian, and I shall die a Christian; for to deny Christ is to forfeit eternal life. It would be madness if I agreed to preserve this temporary life in exchange for eternal perdition. I am sorry for you if you do not understand this.”

Seeing that nothing would induce the saint to deny Christ and accept their religion, the Moslems brought him to the place of execution. Saint Damascene asked for some time to pray, and his request was granted. After completing his prayers he made the Sign of the Cross and told them that he was ready. The holy New Martyr Damascene was hanged at Svishtov on January 16, 1771, and received an incorruptible crown of glory from Christ.

The wrath of God was not slow in overtaking the evil-doers, however. After they put the saint to death they got into a boat to cross the Danube River, and the boat capsized in a storm, drowning them.