360th Feast of Sant'Efisio

Sunday May 01, 2016

Saint Efisio's life

As far as we know, Efisio was born in Elia Capitolina, a Roman colony in Jerusalem in 250 A.D. His father, Cristoforo, was Christian but when he died, Efisio was educated to the paganism by his mother Alessandra, who had aristo- cratic origins. Alessandra introduced his son to the court of Antioch to the emperor Diocletian, who took him under his protection. Efisio joined the Praetorians and became an officer, so he was sent to Italy to participate to the campaign of extermination of Christians, considered enemies of the Country and of the Roman Law. At this moment, the young officer experienced an episode that changed his life: while he was marching towards Naples (or Brindisi) leading his unit, he was suddenly unhorsed by a flash.

Then a voice told him: "I am Christ, the one who you persecute". Moreover, on his hand a cross was impressed. After this wonderful event, Efisio was converted to the Christian religion and was baptized in Gaeta. Then he moved to Sardinia to oppose the Iliesi, rebels living in the interior of the region: first, he worked in Tharros and then at the military headquarters in Nora. Despite the edicts against the Christians issued by Diocletian, Efisio started spreading the Gospel publicly and a group of followers gathered round him. Not only: he wrote to the emperor trying to convince him to abandon the false gods and to convert himself to the new religion. For this reason, he was called in Cagliari at the governor Julio who ordered him to fall into line. Efisio refused to abjure the Christian religion, which obliged the governor to arrest him and to imprison him in a cell obtained from a cave, exactly where today there is the Church in the quarter of Stampace. Here, he was whipped, beaten, his flesh was stripped off and he was burnt with burning embers. However, neither his mother nor the tortures convinced him to give up. The new governor Flavian ordered that Efisio was burnt alive as an example for all the Christians, but the flames of the fire poured out the executioners. Therefore, Flavian sentenced that Efisio was beheaded in a place far from the city to avoid revolts in favour of the martyr. He was executed on the beach of Nora on the 15 January 286 (or, according to other sources, 303).

It is said that before being killed, Efisio said this prayer: "Lord, I beg you to protect the city of Cagliari from the invasion of enemies. Please make that the people of Sardinia abandon the worship of gods, reject the tricks of the devil and acknowledge You, Jesus Christ Our Lord as Only and True God. Make that all the sick people who will pray where I am buried can recover their health and make that any- one who is in danger in the sea or threatened by the invaders or restless for hunger or thirst, after invoking me, Your servant, can be brought to safety".

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