Abdas of Susa
Abdas, (also Abda, Abdias, and Audas) was bishop of Susa in Iran (Socrates of Constantinople also calls him "bishop of Persia"). He was born in fourth-century Chaldor to a Zoroastrian mother. The latter educated him in good virtues, which made him loved by everyone.
After Abda has gained an excellent education and grown up in virtuous life, he was ordained a priest, and built up in his hometown a monastery and a school, which he took personal care of and which grew to have around 60 teachers, as some say. Abda baptized for Jesus many lambs in Chaldor, and brought others to the true faith, which caused the magi to arrest him. In his prison, Abda endured humiliations, hunger and pain, persevering in his faith in Jesus, until his miraculous release.
During the persecution that was led by Shapur II against the Christians, a tree-cross grew up from the ground and caused numerous miracles. This tree brought many people around it, where they built a monastery, which Abda later joined and used as a base to preach the Gospel of Life. Abda became a bishop over Kaskhar (Susa), and many people followed in his footsteps, becoming disciples of him.
Engaged in a dispute with the local magi in AD 420, he was accused of burning down one of their temples, a pyramid of Ahura Mazda. King Yazdegerd ordered the bishop to restore and repair the building at his own expense, upon Abdas' refusal the King ordered the destruction of the churches. These events soured the relationship between the Christian church and the Persian government which had previously been good, and caused a wave of persecution against the Christians in Persia. Other than he is supposed to have helped Maruthas in driving out a demon from Yezdegerd's, nothing else certain is known of him. Tradition adds to this that he was one of the first martyred in the persecution (he was clubbed to death), and for this he is considered a saint. His companions in the killings included the priests Hashu and Isaac, the secretary Ephrem, the hypodeacon Papa, the laymen Daduk and Durdan, and Papa, a brother of Abda himself. His feast day is 5 September or 16 May in the Roman Catholic Church, and March 31 in the Syrian church.
- Maronite Heritage, http://www.maronite-heritage.com/LNE.php?page=16May
- De Lacy O'Leary; The Syriac Church and Fathers (2002)
- Smith, William & Wace, Henry (editors); A dictionary of Christian biography, literature, sects and doctrine, "Abda", (1877). (96MB PDF)
- Theodoret, Ecclesiastical history, Blomfield Jackson (translator) (1892)
- Holweck, F. G., "A Biographical Dictionary of the Saints". St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co., 1924.