Hormizd the Martyr

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Hormizd, the Persian Martyr is a Catholic saint of the fifth century (c. 420). Theodoret, in his Historia Ecclesiastica presents the history of the life and the martyrdom of Hormizd, the Persian (c. 420).[1][2] The 1583 version of the Roman Martyrology included the name of St. Hormizd, the martyr, fixing his feast on the 8th of August.[3] Since then he has been revered as a saint in the Catholic Church. An English version of the Roman Martyrology was published in 1907, entering the name of the saint as "In Persia, St. Hormisdas, a martyr," under 8 August.[4][5] Whether, the Christians of St. Thomas accepted it or not, the Synod of Diamper strategically substituted the Rabban Hormizd with the name of Hormizd, the martyr in 1599 in order to assure that the Christians "are saved" from every Nestorian influence.[6] However, as a turn of history, Rabban Hormizd himself is presently a saint of the Chaldean Catholic Church.[7]

Hormizd, the Martyr
Bornc. 470
Venerated inCatholic Church
Major shrineSt. Hormiz Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Angamaly
FeastAugust 08[8][9]


The persecution of Christians was carried on by the Persian emperor Bahram V and Hormizd was one of the most illustrious victims of his tyranny and malice. Hormisdas being the chief nobility among the Persians, son to the governor of a province (Marzban), and of the race of the Achemenides retained his faith in Christ in the midst of the strong provocations that he experienced from the emperor.[10]

Early life[edit]

Hormizd lived in a time where the Persian kings systematically persecuted Christians . According to Theodoret, it was not easy to express in words how the Christians were put to death. Nevertheless, these cruelties did not discourage the Christians from retaining their faith. Hormizd grew up in such a context in which he inculcated a spirit of martyrdom.[11] According to Christelle Jullien, some martyrdoms during the reign of Bahram V, are known from literary traditions, "like that of Hormozd, Šahin, Persian notables, and Benjamin the deacon, whose story was reported by Theodoret (Eccl. Hist. V.39, 12-24; cf. Michael the Syrian, Chronicle VIII, 4, 15; 17) also preserved in an Armenian document (BHO 7; Peeters, 1909, pp. 399-415."[12]

His martydom for Christian faith[edit]

The positions of high status were lost to Hormisdas/Hormizd because of his strict allegiance to Christianity. His responsibilities were taken away from him and he was given a job of taking care of the camels of royal force. After a long time of humiliation he was called by the emperor who asked him to give up his faith by offering him new favours. Hormizd not only refused them but also reacted by tearing off his new dress offered by the king.[13]

Hormizd the Persian as Catholic saint[edit]

Once he expressed his unbreakable faith in Christ, he was taken to face more challenges. Once martyred, his name was officially accepted by the Roman Martyrology, published in 1583 in Rome and the Persian was revered as a Catholic saint.[14][15][16]

The Synod of Diamper and Hormizd[edit]

Hormizd became the patron of one of the Oriental churches in India, namely St. Hormiz which belonged to the Syro-Malabar Church at Angamaly in Kerala. The relationship could easily be understood in connection with the 16th century Padroado mission in Malabar, where the missionaries tried to conform the rites and liturgy of the ancient Christians of St. Thomas with the Latin rite. After the promulgation of the canons of the Synod of Diamper, Rabban Hormizd, a seventh century saint of the Church of East Syria, was no more the patron of the St. Hormizd Church, the once Cathedral of the late Archbishop Abraham of Angamaly. The Synod of Diamper prohibited the Christians from commemorating the feast of Rabban Hormizd, since Hormizd was considered a Nestorian heretic by Latin missionaries. According to the new regulations, the Synod commanded as planned by Archbishop Aleixo de Menezes that the Christians celebrate the feast of St. Hormizd, the Martyr (according to the Roman Martyrology published from Rome in 1583), a Persian Catholic saint who lived in the fifth century, suppressing the memory of Rabban Hormizd. The Feast was fixed on the 8th of August according to the Canon 10 of the Session 2 of the Synod of Diamper.[17]


  1. ^ Theodoret, “Historia Ecclesiastica: St. Hormisdas, a Persian martyr.” b. 5, c. 39.
  2. ^ http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/martyrs-christian
  3. ^ Roman Martyrology, Saint Homizd Persian and Martyr, Aug 08, 1583.
  4. ^ The Roman Martyrology published by Order of Gregory XIII Revised by the authority of Urban VIII, and Clement X, Afterwards, in the year 1749, Augmented and Corrected by Benedict XIV (Baltimore: John Murphy Company,) Revised Edition 1916, p. 237.
  5. ^ http://www.saintsbooks.net/books/The%20Roman%20Martyrology%20(1914).pdf
  6. ^ "Whereas the church of Angamale, called the Archbishop's, was built by Mar Abraham, and dedicated to Hormisda the Abbot [Rabban], commonly called St. Hormusio, who was a Nestorian heretic, and a great ring leader of that sect, and for that reason was abhorred by all catholics, who are called Romans, as is reported in his life writ in the Syrian tongue, and which was ordained to be burnt by the most illustrious Metropolitan, upon the account of the manifold heresies and blasphemies contained therein, and the many false miracles said to be wrought by him, in conformation of the Nestorian sect: therefore the Synod does in virtue of obedience, and upon pain of excommunication, to be ipso facto incurred, prohibit the observation of the two festivities that have been dedicated to his memory, the one upon the first of September, the other ...commanding the above-named church to be dedicated to St. Hormisda the martyr who was also a Persian, and whose festivity is celebrated upon the 8th of August upon which day the feast of the said church shall be observed; and on the Retablo they are to make the picture, wherein the martyrdom of the said saint shall be drawn to the best advantage, that so the people may learn to what saint the said church is dedicated, and all the prayers and devotion that used to be performed upon the festivities of the heretic Hormusio, may be directed to this glorious saint Hormisda. Synod of DiamperSession III, decree X, Zacharia, Scaria. Randu Prajīna Gadhyakrithikal=Two Ancient Prose Works. Changanacherry: The Sandesanilayam Press, 1976, 183
  7. ^ http://www.kaldaya.net/2007/4_DailyNews_April2007/Apr19_07_E1_FrNoel_MEMOREL_RABBANHORMIZD.html
  8. ^ Roman Martyrology, Saint Homizd Persian and Martyr, Aug 08, 1583
  9. ^ http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=5856
  10. ^ Wigram W.A. An Introduction to the History of the Assyrian Church. Giorgias Press, LLC, 2004, 118.
  11. ^ Theodoret, Historia Ecclesiastica. b. 5, c. 39.
  12. ^ http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/martyrs-christian.
  13. ^ Butler Alban, Charles Butler, The Lives of the Primitive Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints: Compiled from Original Monuments and Other Authentic Records, Volume 8, ed 3, la Biblioteca Pubblica di New York, J. Moir, 1799, p. 134.
  14. ^ http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=5856
  15. ^ La vie des saints : pour tous les jours de l'année,Tirée des meilleurs & des plus fidelles Auteurs. tomo 3. Paris: Ghez Charles Robustel 1714, 311-314.
  16. ^ Theodoret, “Historia Ecclesiastica: St. Hormisdas, a Persian martyr.” b. 5, c. 39.
  17. ^ "The removal of Patrons and some Historical reflexions/പടിയിറങ്ങുന്ന പ്രതിഷ്ഠകളും ചില ചരിത്രവിചാരങ്ങളും," Sathyadeepam Weekly, 88 (March 25, 2015): 5, 16.