St. Mamas of Caesarea

St. Mamas (also spelled Mammes, Mammas, and Mammet) was martyred when he was only 15 years old. But his short life was riddled with miracles and bold acts of faith, though the specifics vary a bit in the different regions that venerate him.


Lifetime: ~259 to ~275
Region: Cappadocia (modern Turkey)
Patronages: Nursing babies; Broken bones; Hernias
Iconograpy: Lion; Lamb; Red cloak
Feast Day: August 17 (Western); September 2 (Eastern)

Mamas was born in prison. His parents (who are also both canonized saints) were Christian, and were arrested for their faith while his mother was pregnant with him. Shortly after his birth, both his parents were killed, leaving him an orphan. He was then adopted by a rich Christian widow, who raised Mamas in the faith of his parents.

Mamas was educated and took well to his studies, achieving far beyond his years. Even as a youth, Mamas converted many to his faith through personal example and discussions. 

When the governor learned of all the people who were converting to the still illegal religion, he had Mamas arrested. But because of his heritage, the governor sent Mamas to the emperor instead to be dealt with. The Roman emperor tried to get Mamas to recant his faith and become pagan, at first kindly, but then with increasing hostility. Mamas refused, and the tortures escalated. He tried to drown young Mamas, but an angel rescued him, encouraging him to live high on a mountain top for his safety.

Mamas did so, building a small church at the top of the mountain so he could continue in his prayers, fasting, and worship. He began to attract many wild animals, who came to hear Mamas read from the gospel. He drank the milk of wild goats and deer to provide for himself. And when he found he had more than he needed, he made cheeses out of the milk and brought it down the mountain to feed to the poor in his former village.

Eventually, his fame spread again, and the governor again sent soldiers to arrest Mamas. They travelled up the mountain where they met Mamas, though they did not recognize him. He invited the soldiers into his simple home and gave them each some milk to drink. Then he told them who he was. Because of his honesty, the soldiers agreed to go down the mountain and let Mamas meet them there. According to some stories, the soldiers were instead coming to arrest Mamas for not paying taxes.

Mamas held up his end of the deal. He arrived at the rendezvous -- riding on the back of a lion! According to some stories, it was a lion he had befriended when the emperor tried to feed him to hungry lions. In another version, the soldiers had been attacking a lamb, which Mamas saved before returning to the soldiers on the lion's back. In any case, Mamas was again tortured for his faith, and continued to honor it despite the many cruel injuries heaped on him.

Finally, when the tortures no longer worked, one of the pagan priests who had been trying to convert him became frustrated. He threw a trident into Mamas' stomach, a wound that would be fatal, though it would take hours to kill him.

The mortally wounded Mamas escaped and found a cave outside of town and died there. He was only 15 when he was martyred. When some other Christians found him, they buried him in that cave. 

St. Mamas Troparion

Your holy martyr Mamas, O Lord,

Through his suffering has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God.

For having Your strength, he laid low low his adversaries,

And shattered the powerless boldness of demons.

Through his intercessions, save our souls! 

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