The Forty-Five Holy Martyrs: Leontius, Maurice, Alexander, Sisinius and the rest
In the time of the wicked Emperor Licinius, who ruled over the eastern half of the Byzantine Empire, there was a great persecution of Christians. In Armenian Nicopolis, Leontius came before the imperial governor, Lysius, together with several of his friends, and told him that he was a Christian. "And where is your Christ?", asked Lysius. "Was he not crucified and did he not die?" To this, St Leontius replied: "If you know that our Christ died, know that He also rose from the dead and ascended into heaven." After much harassment for their faith, Lysius had them whipped and thrown into prison, where they were given neither food nor drink. A noble Christian woman, Viassiana, brought them water and gave it to them through the window of the prison, and an angel of God appeared to them there, to comfort and encourage them. When their trial was held, two of their warders came before Lysius as Christian converts, and many others, numbering forty-five in all. The judge condemned them all to death, ordering that their arms and legs be hacked off and that they then be thrown into the flames. This vicious punishment was carried out, and the souls of the holy martyrs flew off to their Lord, to eternal life. They suffered with honour and inherited the Kingdom in the year 319.
Our Holy Father Antony of the Kiev Caves
The renewer and father of monasticism in Russia, he was born in a little place called Lubetch, near Chernigov. He left his home while still a boy and went to the Holy Mountain, where he became a monk and lived in asceticism at Esphigmenou. In response to a vision, the abbot sent him to Russia, to found the monastic life there. He chose a cave near Kiev. When a group of men desiring the monastic life settled round him, he installed Theodosius as their abbot and himself remained in his cave in silence. By the grace of God, the monastery grew and became the mother of Russian monasticism. Antony endured much evil from men and from demons, but he overcame all by his meekness. He had a great gift of discernment, and was able to heal the sick. He went to the Lord in 1073 at the age of ninety, leaving his spiritual nursery, which would, through the ages, yield good fruit for the Orthodox peoples of Russia.
The Translation of the Precious Vesture of our Lord Jesus Christ
At the time of our Lord's suffering for the human race, there was to be found in the ranks of the Roman army in Jerusalem a Georgian, Elias, from the town of Mtskhet. His mother had heard of Christ, and believed in Him in her heart. Sending her son into the army in Palestine, she exhorted him to do nothing against Christ. When the Lord was nailed to the Cross, the sound of the hammering on Golgotha came to the cars of Elias"s mother in Mtskhet. Hearing this sound, she cried out: "Woe is me that I did not die before this hour, that death might deliver me from this terrible sound!" And, thus saying, she fell dead. Elias was at that time underneath the Cross, and, with the other soldiers, was casting lots for Christ"s vesture. The vesture fell to him, and he took it to Mtskhet, making a gift of it to his sister Sidonia. She, hearing of the Lord"s death and learning that her brother had a hand in the shedding of innocent blood, fell dead with the Lord"s vesture in her hands, in such a way that no-one could take it from her and they were constrained to bury it with her. A cedar grew up over her grave, from which flowed a healing myrrh. In time, the cedar fell and the place was forgotten. St Nina found it by the aid of a pillar of fire on that spot, in response to her prayers. King Mirian, when he had been baptised, built a church there to the Holy Apostles. In 1625, Shah Abbas took this vesture and sent it to Moscow as a gift to Prince Michael Feodorovich and Patriarch Philaret. The vesture was then placed in the Cathedral of the Dormition in Moscow.
Martyrs Uianor (Vianor) and Siluanos (Sylvanus) of Pisidia (4th c.)
Saint Uianor came from the Psidia district in Asia Minor. As a confessor of Christianity they brought him to the governor of the city of Isauria in Likaoneia, who demanded that Saint Uianor renounce Christ. The saint stood steadfast in the true faith, in spite of the refined tortures. A man by the name of Siluanos beheld the suffering of the martyr. The endurance and bravery of Saint Uianor inspired the faith of Christ in Siluanos, and he openly declared this. They therewith cut out his tongue and then cut off his head. Saint Uianor after long torturing likewise was beheaded. The date of the suffering of the holy Martyrs Uianor and Siluanos is not precisely known; it is presumed, that they died under the Roman emperor Diocletian (284-305).
Martyr Apollonius of Sardis (3rd c.)
The Holy Martyr Apollonias came from the city of Sardes, located in Lydia (Asia Minor). He declared himself a Christian and was arrested. When they demanded that he swear an oath on the name of the emperor, he refused, saying that it was improper to swear on the name of a mortal man. They tortured Saint Apollonias for a long time and then crucified him on a cross. This occurred at Iconium either under the emperor Decius (249-251) or the emperor Valerian (253-259).
10,000 Fathers of the desert and caves
10,000 Fathers of the desert and caves of Scetis martyred by the impious Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria (398)
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