Saints of the Day – Jonas, Barachisius and Companions

Pictorial Lives of the Saints image for Saint Jonas, Barachisius and Their Companions, MartyrsArticle

(also known as Jonah and Berikjesu)

Died December 24, 327.

In the 18th year of his reign, the Sassanian King Shapur II began a vicious persecution against the Christians in Persia. He cast many into prison, and two brothers of the city of Beth-Asa decided, in spite of the danger, to visit and comfort them in their last hours of torment and death.

The two men were arrested for this, and brought to trial. We are lucky that the eyewitness accounts of their martyrdom with nine other Christians survive. The judge told them they must venerate the King of Persia and also the sun, the moon, fire and water. They answered him that only a fool would worship a mortal man rather than the immortal king of heaven.

At the advice of the Magians, the brothers were separated, and Barachisius was cast into a very narrow close dungeon. Jonas was detained. When he still refused to sacrifice to the elements, the tortures began. While he was beaten with clubs and having a stake under his navel, he managed yet to praise God. Next he was set in a frozen pond, and left to die.

After Shapur has a nap and dinner, he called for Barichisius and cruelly told him his brother had sacrificed. The martyr said it was impossible, and spoke so powerfully about the Holy Trinity that all were astonished. The authorities declared that future interrogations should be held under the wrap of night lest many be converted to Christianity. Nevertheless, Barichisius was also tortured. Red-hot iron plates and hammers were placed under each arm, and he was told: “If you shake off either of these, by the king’s fortune, you deny Christ.” He meekly replied: “I fear not your fire; nor shall I throw off your instruments of torture. I beg you to try without delay all your torments on me. He who is engaged in combat for God is full of courage.” So, they invented new torments: Melted lead was dropped into his nostrils and eyes, then he was thrown into a cell where he was hung by one foot.

They found Jonas still alive the next morning and attempted to undermine his faith, too, by saying his brother had renounced Christ. The martyr, interrupting them, answered: “I know that long ago he renounced the devil and his angels.” The Magians urged: “Take care lest you perish, abandoned both by God and man.” Jonas replied: “If you are really wise, as you boast, judge if it be not better to sow the corn than to keep it hoarded up. Our life is a seed sown to rise again in the world to come, when it will be renewed by Christ in immortal light.” The Magians said, “Your books have drawn many aside.” Jonas answered: “They have indeed drawn many from worldly pleasures. When a servant of Christ is in his sufferings inebriated with love from the passion of his Lord, he forgets the transitory state of this short life, its riches, estates, gold, and honors; regulars of kings and princes, lords and noblemen, where all eternity is at stake, he desires nothing but the sight of the only true King, whose empire is everlasting, and whose power reaches to all ages.”

Thereafter, the two saints were barbarously put to death. After hideous tortures (including the severing of his fingers, toes, tongue, and scalp; burning in boiling pitch), Jonah’s mangled body was placed in a wine-press, and the saint was crushed to death. Even when he was dead, they continued. His body was sawed into pieces and thrown into a dry cistern, which was guarded to prevent other Christians from stealing the relics.

Barichisius was treated with equal brutality. Hundreds of reeds were cut into sharp splinters and inserted into his flesh. Then Barichisius was rolled along the ground, so that the long splinters pierced him deeply. As he endured the hideous pain, the judge called out that he could still save himself. Barachisius replied, “God, the maker of this body, will restore it; and he will judge you and your king.” And so he joined his brother in death when burning pitch was poured down his throat

Upon the news of their death, Abtusciatus, an old friend, came and purchased their bodies for five hundred drachmas and three silk garments, binding himself also by oath never to divulge the sale. The acts are closed by these words: “This book was written from the mouths of witnesses, and contains the acts of the saints, Jonas, Barachisius, and others, martyrs of Christ, who by his succor fought, triumphed, and were crowned, in whose prayers we beg place may be found, by Esaias, son of Adabus of Arzun, in Armenia, of the troop of royal horse-men, who was present at their interrogatories and tortures, and who wrote the history of their conflicts.” These authentic acts were originally written in Chaldaic (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Husenbeth).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 28 May 2020. Web. 18 January 2022. <>