The Neomartyr St. Aggelis the Physician, in the early nineteenth century, was a physician from New Ephesus in Asia Minor who was admired and respected as a compassionate healer to those who were ill, yet he displayed some personal eccentricities. It was these eccentricities that led to his martyrdom.
Aggelis was originally from Argos. He was a devout Christian and became practicing a physician in New Ephesus in Turkey. In his path toward perfection, he experienced many unusual struggles due to his unconventional nature. On one occasion he actually challenged an atheist Frenchman to a duel when the Frenchman began slandering him during a discussion on the Christian Faith. Aggelis went to his spiritual father for confession and to receive a blessing for the upcoming contest. His confessor urged him to withdraw from the duel, but due to Aggelis’ persistence he felt compelled to give Aggelis his blessing. Aggelis spent all night in prayer and, after receiving communion, proceeded to the designated dueling site. At the last moment the Frenchman lost his nerve and fled the scene.
From that moment the eccentric tendencies of Aggelis became hard for people to comprehend. He gave up his profession as a physician and withdrew to his home. He stopped speaking to people with the exception of two close friends, one of whom he confided that his path in life would be one of martyrdom.
On the Lazarus Saturday in 1813, Aggelis, without explanation, announced he would become a muslim. By his attitude and expressions towards the muslim Turks it was obvious that he would easily return to Orthodox Christianity. After living on the island of Chios for six months, Aggelis shaved his beard and went to the local customs office. The customs workers asked him what was the purpose of such an act, only to receive an answer, “while I was a Turk I had my beard. Now that I am once again a Christian, I am shaved.” The authorities naturally attempted to have Aggelis reconsider his change of faith. When he did not he was incarcerated and tortured.
Failing to convince Aggelis to denounce his Christianity, the Turkish authorities took him to a place called “Small Mountain” (Βουνάκι) and beheaded him on December 3, 1813. His body was thrown into the sea at a depth of 25 leagues. Despite the efforts of the faithful to recover the Saint’s relics, they were never found.
- Religious and Ethical Encyclopedia (Θρησκευτική και Ηθική Εγκυκλοπαίδεια), Volume 1,166-167