The Forty Holy Martyrs of Sebaste
These were all soldiers in the Roman army, but believed firmly in the Lord Jesus. When a persecution arose in the time of Licinius, they were all taken for trial before the commander, who threatened to strip them of their military status. To this one of them, St Candidus, replied: "Do not take only our military status, but also our bodies; nothing is dearer or of greater honour to us than Christ our God." Then the commander ordered his servants to stone the holy martyrs to death. But when the servants threw the stones at the Christians, the stones turned back and fell on them themselves, causing them grievous injuries. One stone fell on the commander"s face and smashed his teeth. The torturers, in bestial fury, bound the holy martyrs and threw them into a lake, setting a watch all round it to prevent any of them escaping. There was a terrible frost, and the lake froze around the bodies of the martyrs. To make the torture worse, the torturers built and lit baths by the lake, in the sight of the freezing sufferers, with the idea that one of them might deny Christ and acknowledge the idols of Rome. In fact, one of them did abjure, came out of the water and went into the baths. But lo, during the night a strange light appeared from heaven, which heated the water in the lake and the bodies of the martyrs, and with that light there descended from heaven thirty-nine wreaths for their heads. One of the sentries on the shore saw this, confessed the name of Christ and went into the lake to be worthy of the fortieth wreath in place of the traitor. And the fortieth wreath was seen to descend upon him. The next day, the whole town was amazed to see the martyrs still alive. Then the wicked judges commanded that their legs be broken and their bodies thrown into the water, so that the Christians should not be able to find them. On the third day the martyrs appeared to the local bishop, Peter, and told him to search beneath the water and bring out their relics. The bishop went out on a dark night with his clergy, and saw where the martyrs" relics were glowing in the water. Every bone that had been broken off from their bodies rose to the surface and burned there like a candle. They gathered them, and gave them burial, and the souls of these martyrs went to Him who was martyred for us all and rose with glory, the Lord Jesus. They suffered with honour and were crowned with unfading glory in 320.
Our Holy Father Philoromus the Confessor
He lived in asceticism in Galatia in the fourth century. It is said of him that he was so perfected in all the virtues that he was more like an angel than a man. He was especially praised for his patience. He was persecuted by the Emperor Julian the Apostate and suffered greatly for Christ, but, after the death of that wicked persecutor of Christ, he lived in peace and was of help to many, entering into rest at the age of eighty.
The brother of St Gregory the Theologian, who died in 369, St Caesarius was a theological writer. Among other things, he gave a painstaking answer to the question: How long did Adam and Eve spend in Paradise before the Fall? Some had put that time at six hours, some at twenty-four hours and some at three days. St Caesarius"s estimate was that they were there for forty days. Because of that, he says, the Lord Christ fasted for forty days in the wilderness, and was for that length of time tempted of the devil. For, while the old Adam was not able to withstand the devil"s temptation in the abundance of Paradise, the New Adam withstood him as a true knight in hunger and thirst in the wilderness.
Martyr Urpasianus of Nicomedia
The Holy Martyr Urpasian suffered in the city of Nicomedia. The emperor Maximian Gallerius (305-311) cruelly persecuted christians serving in his army and at his court. Some of the timid of soul began to waver and began to worship the pagan gods, but the strong of soul held out firmly until the very end. Thus too, the dignitary Urpasian threw down his cloak and sash at the feet of the ruler and said: "Henceforth – I am a warrior of the Heavenly King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Take back the insignia given me". Maximian gave orders to tie Urpasian to a tree and whip him with ox thongs. Later on they bound the saint to the lattice top of an iron grate, and beneathe they built a fire. Saint Urpasian with incessant prayer endured the intolerable suffering. The glorious martyr was burned alive, and his ashes thrown into the sea. His tormentors were astonished that they had been unable to break his spirit.
St Caesarius, brother of St Gregory the Theologian
Saint Caesarius lived for a long time at the court of the emperor Constantius (337-361), and was his friend and chief court physician. In the year 368 he miraculously remained alive during an earthquake and was dug out from under the rubble. The saint saw how the Lord watches over His servants, and how not one hair falls from the head of a man without His will. St Caesarius left the world and devoted himself completely to the service of God.
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