He was archbishop of Antioch at the time of the wicked Emperor Numerian. Once the Emperor came to Antioch and attempted to enter a church where Babylas was serving. Coming to the door, the Archbishop forbade the Emperor, as a pagan and a shedder of innocent blood, to enter the house where the True God was worshipped. Retreating in humiliation, the Emperor determined to take his revenge. Shortly after he had Babylas imprisoned along with several Christian children. Babylas was made to watch the beheading of each of the children. Having given them encouragement he submitted himself to beheading. At his own request he was buried in the chains with which he had been bound.
After the establishment of Christianity in the Roman Empire, the Emperor Gallus had a church built in honor of Babylas near the site of a temple to Apollos at Daphne, outside Antioch. (This was where, according to pagan legend, the maiden Daphne had been turned into a tree to escape the lust of Apollos). When Julian the Apostate came to Antioch in 362 to consult a famous oracle there, he found that the oracle had been deprived of its power by the presence of a Christian church nearby.
He ordered the relics of St Babylas to be dug up and removed from the Church. As soon as this had been done a thunderbolt destroyed the shrine of Apollo, which Julian did not dare to rebuild. Saint John Chrysostom, then Archbishop of Antioch, preached a sermon on these events within a generation after their occurrence.