The Martyr Anastasii

The Martyr Anastasii, a Bulgarian, was born in 1774 in the Strumnitsk diocese, in the village of Radovicha. His parents gave him over to military studies. When the youth was 20 years old, he happened to be with his teacher in Soluneia (Thessalonika). The master wanted to sell some Turkish clothes without paying the customary dutyy-tax. He told his student to dress himself as a Turk and go into the city. The collectors of the duty-tax (haraje) stopped him and demanded the written receipt (teskere) of duty-tax payment. The youth answered that he was a Turk. Thereupon the collectors demanded him to recite the salutation with the Mahometan prayer. The youth became confused and quiet. They ordered him off to the commander, who in interrogating the martyr offered him to become Turkish. The youth refused, and they led him away to the chief tax-collector.

The official tried at first to flatter, then to threaten the martyr, who owned up to his civil guilt, but would not agree to betray his holy faith. The tax-collector made this known to the mufti, who in turn answered: “Thou hast in one hand the sword, in the other the law; use what thou wishest”. He knew, that by law the tax-collector ought to take the duty-tax from the youth, but then by judgement of the mufti he would not be a follower of Mahomet, armed with a sword. And having received such an answer, the commander of the haraje sent the youth to the local mullah together with five Turks, who were obliged to testify that the Christian had blasphemed the Mahometan faith. To the accusations of blasphemy against Mahomet by these witnesses, the youth honestly answered that he did not blaspheme him, but he would allow having shown disrespect to Mahometan customs. They subjected him to torture and condemned him to hanging. Along the way they continued to urge the martyr to renounce his faith, but bleeding and exhausted, he fell upon the wayside and died on 29 August 1794.
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