Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

The Faith of a Clown

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On the birthday of the Emperor Julian, the apostate, a great feast was held in his honour, and all sorts of performers, and actors and clowns were invited to perform before him.

A certain clown named Barphorus and renowned for his skill decided to put on one of the greatest performance before the emperor. In it he was going to imitate the Christians and mock the way they perform the church sacraments. He knew that the emperor hated Christians and no doubt this would amuse him and the crowd.

So he decided to start with the first sacrament, which was the sacrament of baptism and he ordered that a great bath be filled with water. He then mockingly pretended to be a priest and using his hand drew the sign of the cross on the water saying in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

As the people laughed, Barphorus saw a great light in the water on the shape of a cross, and he quickly dived into the water shouting, "I am a Christian, I am a Christian!!". He dunked himself three times, and the emperor and the people began laughing even more for they had not seen the vision he had seen.

He then emerged from the water saying, "I am a Christian", at first the emperor found it amusing and the people found it funny, but they soon realised that the Clown was not joking but was quite serious.

The emperor was enraged by this and tried persuading him to give up the Christian faith he had embraced but a few moments earlier, but the faith of the Clown was unshaken and so the emperor ordered he be executed.

Saint Barphorus was beheaded and received the Crown of Martyrdom and his feast day is celebrated on 18th Thoout (and his story may also be found in the Synaxarion under 18 Thoout) one day after the Feast of the Cross.

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