St. Jacob Mapasco (Yacoub M’fasquo) Martyr – Nov 27 I St James, the Mutilated (Intercisus)
St James, the mutilated (Intercisus), (Yacoub M’fasquo/Jacob), was a Persian, born in the Royal City of Beit-Lapeta, in an illustrious, noble family. His family had embraced Christianity and he married a devout Christian. He was the closest and most honoured friend of king Guharon and his son Yazdegerd I, king of Persia (399-420). The king had great appreciation for Yacoub, thus he became the king’s favourite, who overwhelmed him with favours. He got attached to the court of the king of Persia, he rose to the first honors, and enjoyed the highest consideration
On knowing that he was a Christian, the king tried to dissuade him from following his belief by tempting him with gifts. Yacoub yielded to the king’s wishes and turned away from the true God, to please the king and his court. His mother and his wife learned with grief about his apostasy and sent him a letter. They said, “We have heard that the favour of a terrestrial king and the love of perishable resources of this century, have made you abandon the Eternal God”. They advised him not to give up the true faith in Christ and Christianity. He returned to his senses and went into his tent, where he found a Bible. Reading it, gradually divine light entered him and enlightened his soul and the grace of God touched his heart. In a twingling if an eye he changed into another man. His paralyzed immobilised soul, as if called back from the tomb by a powerful voice, suddenly awoke: the feeling of remorse became unbearable, he felt as if his insides were being ripped apart. There upon, he repented and returned to the Christian belief.
Yazdegerd I who was ill with some disease was informed about his change of heart and the new king, his son Bahram V, questioned him about it. He informed the king, “Our Saviour has promised a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God” (Jn. 16: 2). Your feeling, that you respect your god is itself a folly.
The king was furious listening to him and ordered his ministers to decide a punishment for him. This was the verdict, “He should not be killed suddenly. First his fingers, toes, then his hands, legs and hip should be severed. He should be beheaded after being dismembered thus.” Many believers were grieved to hear this verdict. They prayed, “Oh God the mighty, strengthen him, this servant of yours to escape from this trial with success.”
Yacoub requested some time for prayer before the callous punishment was implemented. He knelt down turning towards the East and prayed, “Oh God, please listen to this weak servant. Strengthen me at this moment . . . Bless me to be a friend and comforter to those who love you and receive persecution in Your Name.”
The executioners chopped off his fingers and toes. When he had lost his 10 fingers, his 10 toes, his two hands, his two feet and his two arms he was close to exhaustion. Now the torturers were proceeding with the legs. They started cutting his right leg at the level of his knee joint. Here James seemed to have felt an extreme pain; he cried out and invoked the Lord: “Lord Jesus Christ, save me, deliver me, I’m suffering the pains of death
He kept on praying even while enduring severe pain. “I will praise God till my last breath.” Finally, he was decapitated, in AD 421. A Saint, whose body was dismembered at every joint of limbs. Fingers, toes, palms, ankles, elbows ……. to a total of 289 pieces, that was collected by the believers from his bodily remains. His body remained in the open air. Christians came close giving a considerable sum of money to the guards asking them to take away a part of the holy relics, but in vain. The faithful acted as if they left the place but in fact hid nearby waiting for nightfall to set in to be able to gather at least a part of the relics. Around the ninth hour of the evening, the guards having left, the believers took his bodily remains that they found in 289 pieces. Believers carried off his body parts and entombed it by reciting Psalm 51. Several miracles happened in the life of those who collected the body parts and their families too.
Martyr St. Jacob Mapasco’s memory is celebrated on 27 November. A Martyr who had his body cut into pieces, He could not bear to see him suffer such excruciating torture, yet he never renounced his faith. Instead, every piece cut from his body, became an offering to the Living God, and won the crown of martyrdom.