Venetian School
The Hieromartyr Athenogenes, Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia, receiving the Martyrs Crown

Inscribed with the title S Athenogenes EP[iscopus] in Sebasto

Black chalk, pen and brown ink, and grey wash, within an inscribed border in pen and ink

132 x 84 mm. (5 x 3 in.)

Athenogenes lived in a monastery near the town with ten of his disciples. In the time of Diocletian, a fierce persecutor of Christians called Philomarchus came to Sebaste. He arrested and killed many of the Christians in the town. When he saw Athenogenes and his disciples, he told the elder to sacrifice to idols, and so they should not perish as had the other Christians. Athenogenes replied: ‘O Torturer, those whom you describe as having perished have not perished, but are in heaven and make merry with the angels!’ There was a touching moment when a deer, which had been hand-fed by the compassionate Athenogenes, ran up to him, and, seeing him in such straits, shed tears. Wild animals of the hills had more pity on the martyrs than did the pagans! After harsh torture, during which an angel of God comforted them, they were all beheaded, first the priests and fellow-workers of Athenogenes and then Athenogenes himself, in 311.

I am grateful to Dr Paul Taylor has kindly identified the saint and the passage.