Orthodox Church in America (icon from here)
Commemorated on September 27
Saint Callistratus was a native of Carthage. An ancestor of Saint Callistratus, Neochorus, has served under the emperor Tiberius in Palestine, under the command of Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea, and was a witness to the suffering on the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, His voluntary death and glorious Resurrection.
The saint’s father was a Christian, and he raised his son in faith and piety. Also like his father, Saint Callistratus became a soldier and excelled among his pagan military comrades by his good conduct and gentle disposition.
At night when everyone slept, he usually stayed up at prayer. Once, a soldier sleeping nearby heard Saint Callistratus invoking the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he reported this to the military commander, who in turn summoned Callistratus, interrogated him and wanted to make him offer sacrifice to idols. The saint resolutely refused to do this, so the military commander ordered that the saint be beaten. Then, covered with wounds, the saint was dragged over sharp stones. The beating and the torments did not sway the firm will and brave endurance of the sufferer.
The saint was sewn up in a leather sack and drowned in the sea. By God’s mercy, however, the sack struck a sharp rock and was torn open. Saint Callistratus came to dry land unharmed, carried by dolphins. Viewing such a miracle, forty-nine soldiers came to believe in Christ. Then the military commander threw Saint Callistratus and the believing soldiers into prison. Before this, all of them were subjected to innumerable floggings.
The martyrdom of St Callistratus & 49 Martyrs (icon from Menologion of Basil II, from here)
In jail Saint Callistatus continued to preach the Word of God to the soldiers and he bolstered their spirits for martyrdom. Summoned again before the military commander, the sufferers firmly confessed their faith in Christ, after which they were bound hand and foot and thrown into a dam. But there their bonds broke, and with bright faces the holy martyrs stood in the water, rejoicing in their Baptism, which coincided with the act of martyrdom.
Beautiful bright crowns appeared over their heads, and all heard a voice: “Be brave, Callistratus, with your company, and come rest in the eternal habitations.” At the same time, the earth shuddered and an idol standing nearby fell down and smashed. Seeing this, another 135 soldiers also believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. The military commander, fearing a mutiny in the army, did not put them on trial, but again imprisoned Saint Callistratus with the others, where they fervently prayed and gave thanks to the Creator for giving them power to endure such sufferings.
At night the martyrs were cut to pieces with swords by order of the military commander. Their holy relics were buried by the 135 soldiers who remained alive. Later, a church was built on the spot of their sufferings, as Saint Callistatus had foretold.
About st Callistratus, from the article The Jesus Prayer: A Blood-bond
I just started reading “On the Prayer of Jesus” by St. Ignatius Brianchaninov. I got hooked on the work of this 19th century bishop after reading “The Arena” during Great Lent. Aside from his wise instruction to monastics which are applicable to us in the regular world, Brianchaninov frequently referred back to several African fathers including Macarius, Moses the Black, and Pachomius. (...)
No sooner than I hit the second chapter of the book than this Russian schooled me on a spiritual history that African American Christians have not been exposed to and need to know. A Roman soldier who was a native of Carthage, Neokorus served in Jerusalem during the same time as the passion and resurrection of Christ. After hearing the Gospel, he was baptized and shared his faith with is family. Among those who accepted Christianity was his grandson, Callistratus, who would also serve in the Roman army. His pagan colleagues noted how he refused to worship idols but spied on him as he prayed repeating the name of the Lord Jesus. For this, he was martyred.
Of course, this story is not in the Bible. Therefore, Western Christians of all races would not have known it nor would consider it very important. This is a shame. The Jesus Prayer is one of the most beloved prayers of the Orthodox faith. It is the means in which monastics and non-monastics fulfill St. Paul’s call for believers to pray without ceasing. There are few words in this simple sentence. It is based on the Lord’s parable of the Pharisee and the Publican to show how humble repentance justifies a man more than a clerical office and obeying laws. And here is a story of an African who continually prayed on the name of the Lord and refusing the name of any other god and dying for his faith. Such a story should fit into any black American church. (...)
Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 3
In contest you were strengthened by the Holy Spirit, Martyr Callistratus, / and were glorious in casting down the Enemy. / You offered a noble army of athletes / as sweet-smelling incense to Christ. / With them pray for us who praise you with hymns.
Kontakion — Tone 4
Podoben: “Today You have shown forth...” / Like stars you have shone upon the world / shedding the light of your contests and miracles upon all who cry to you: / “Rejoice, Martyr Callistratus and fellow company of martyrs.”
Please, see also
The Ancient Christianity (Orthodox Church) in Tunisia & Saint Julia of Carthage
How “White” is the Orthodox Church?
Orthodox Tunisia (tag)
Ancient Christian faith (Orthodox Church) in Africa
The Last Christians of North-West Africa
St Cyprian of Carthage, the leading bishop of the Church of Africa during the mid-third century
The Scillitan Martyrs of Numidia, the Protomartyrs of Africa
The Saints Forty Africans Martyrs of the Orthodox Church
About the African Martyrs Perpetua, Felicity, Saturus, Saturnius, Revocatus and Secundulus
Hieromartyr Theodore, the Bishop of Cyrene in Libya, the holy women martyrs Cyprilla, Lucia and Aroa, and all who had accepted Baptism from the holy bishop
Moses the Ethiopian, the Black Saint & Teacher (& other Ethiopian saints in the Orthodox Church)
The Orthodox Church in Morocco
Tuareg people & Orthodox Christianity - Orthodox Church
The Calendar of Carthage, an ancient Orthodox Christian document from Tunisia
OBSERVING THE FEAST DAYS OF THE AFRICAN SAINTS