Saint Andrew Stratelates

A magnetic commander.

Saint Andrew Stratelates

Andrew Stratelates, or Andrew the Commander, was a popular third-century Roman soldier facing an invading Persian army that was bigger and better prepared. To rally his troops, he revealed that his great fighting skills came from his belief in God, and he offered to convert his entire force. When Andrew returned home victorious, he was leader to a new Christian band.

This did not exactly guarantee a warm welcome, however. First, the pagan governor rewarded Andrew with a large bronze couch… except that when it was given to him, it had just been pulled it out of an oven, so it burned him when he sat down. Then he was sent to jail.

Before long, though, the emperor, hearing that the great soldier’s legend was growing, ordered Andrew set free. To preserve their reputations, his adversaries plotted, they should kill him more secretly. Sensing this, Andrew fled town, attracting a force of admiring fighters as he ran.

His group had swelled greatly by the time they found themselves cornered in the straits of the Taurus Mountains, in modern-day Çukurova, Turkey. There, two opposing mountainsides gradually come together until they drop, suddenly, into a tight and impassable canyon with a roaring river below.

As Roman assassins closed in, Andrew told his soldiers that this time they shouldn’t fight. Some 2,583 martyrs surrendered peacefully that day, lambs to an unrelenting slaughter.