Orthodox America

  Lives of Saints for Young People - Martyr Tryphon

February 1

Saint Tryphon In the village of Lampsacus in Phrygia, what today is central Turkey, there lived a shepherd boy by the name of Tryphon. His parents were poor but they were devout Christians and raised their son to be rich in virtue.  It was the boy's responsibility to look after some geese near a lake, and this gave him time to spend alone with God in prayer.  Seeing his devotion, his humility and simplicity of heart, the Lord granted him the gift of healing both people and animals.

When the region around Lampsacus was infested by a plague of insects that began to devour all the crops, the holy Tryphon, seeing the people in despair, raised his hands up to the Lord and prayed Him to send His angel to destroy the insects.  At the same time the Saint bound them with an oath, commanding them to leave the area and depart to an uninhabited place. He thereby saved the people from famine.

The Roman emperor at that time, Gordion (238-244), was in despair over his daughter, who was tormented by an evil spirit, such that she had become quite out of her mind.  Doctors could do nothing to help her.  The demon itself made known that only Tryphon had the power to drive it out.  A number of Tryphons were summoned but they were no more successful than the doctors.  Finally, someone told the Emperor of the young shepherd from Phrygia, and Tryphon, then seventeen years old, was brought to Rome where he prayed over the Emperor's daughter and forced the evil spirit to come out of her. The grateful Emperor lavished all sorts of rich gifts upon the youth, which Tryphon happily distributed among the poor before returning to Lampsacus and his geese.

Gordion's successor, Decius, was a cruel tyrant who unleashed a fierce persecution of Christians. His governor in Phyrigia was no less hateful towards the Christians, and this Akylinos gloated over the capture of the renowned Tryphon.  When he refused the governor's order to sacrifice to the pagan idols, Tryphon was subjected to all kinds of torture: he was hung on a tree and flogged, he was dragged behind a horse over the frozen earth, flaming candles scorched his flesh.  But the young martyr did not yield, rejoicing to suffer for Jesus Christ.  Finally, the order came that he be beheaded.  Brought to the place of execution, the Saint turned to the east, towards the Holy Land where our Lord Jesus Christ lived, suffered, resurrected from the dead and ascended to heaven.  He prayed that the Lord take his soul, and before the sword came down, his soul, bearing a martyr's crown, was on its way to paradise.  He departed this life on 1 February, 250.

Three hundred years later, the Emperor Justinian constructed a chapel in honor of the young martyr, and his successor, Justin, dedicated a large monastery to his holy memory.

In Russia, the holy Martyr Tryphon is regarded as the heavenly patron of birds.  One day the falconer in the service of the hot-tempered Tsar Ivan the Terrible carelessly let escape the royal falcon.  He was afraid that the Tsar would punish him cruelly, and he prayed to his patron saint, the Martyr Tryphon.  In a vision, the Saint appeared to the falconer and indicated to him the whereabouts of the lost bird.  In gratitude for having saved him from the Tsar's wrath, the falconer financed the building of a church in Moscow, dedicated to St. Tryphon.  In Russian icons, the holy Martyr Tryphon is frequently depicted holding a falcon.

Compiled from Lives of St. Tryphon in Pravoslavnaya Zhizn #2, 1957 by Nun Barbara; the Menology of St. Dimitri of Rostov, Orthodox Saints by Fr. George Poulos; and The Prologue of Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich.