Saint Babylas: The Iconography

In Antioch St. Babilas, Bishop. During the persecution of Decius he continued to glorify God even after many tortures. At the end of his glorious life he was fettered in chains of iron and buried in them. Three youngsters whom he had instructed in the faith of Christ are also reported to have suffered with him: Urban, Prilidian, and Epolonius. – Roman Martyrology for January 24

In the third century St. Babilas was a bishop of Antioch. According to his legends, he refused to allow the emperor to enter his church on account of the latter's reprehensible deeds. The emperor is identified sometimes as Decius (ruled 249-51), sometimes as Numerianus (283-84), sometimes as a prefect with the name Numerianus. Different accounts give different specifics about his misdeeds, but all agree that they were despicable. As in most accounts of martyrdom, Babilas gets to dispute at length with the emperor before he is finally tortured and beheaded. Martyred with him were three boys whom he had been instructing in the faith: Urbanus, Prilidianus, and Epolonius.

Although there is no traditional attribute to identify this saint, he is usually pictured as a bishop accompanied by the three boys.

Prepared in 2014 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University, revised 2015-08-24.

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1687 Statue of St. Babilas, known locally as San Babil, in the Cathedral of St. Mary, Pamplona, Spain.


The death of St. Babylas: Illumination in a manuscript of the Menologion of Basil II, Constantinople, 10th century. See the description page for details.

DATES

  • Feast day: January 24

BIOGRAPHY

Photograph taken at the Pamplona Cathedral by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

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