Lives of all saints commemorated on March 9


1st Sunday of Great Lent: Sunday of Orthodoxy

Originally, the Prophets Moses, Aaron, and Samuel were commemorated on this Sunday. The Alleluia verses appointed for today’s Liturgy reflect this older usage.

Today we commemorate the “Triumph of Orthodoxy,” the restoration of the holy icons in the reign of the holy Empress Theodora (February 11).


40 Holy Martyrs of Sebaste

In the year 313 St Constantine the Great issued an edict granting Christians religious freedom, and officially recognizing Christianity as equal with paganism under the law. But his co-ruler Licinius was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight Constantine, he decided to remove Christians from his army, fearing mutiny.

One of the military commanders of that time in the Armenian city of Sebaste was Agricola, a zealous champion of idolatry. Under his command was a company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles. When these Christian soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison. The soldiers occupied themselves with prayer and psalmody, and during the night they heard a voice saying, “Persevere until the end, then you shall be saved.”

On the following morning, the soldiers were again taken to Agricola. This time the pagan tried flattery. He began to praise their valor, their youth and strength, and once more he urged them to renounce Christ and thereby win themselves the respect and favor of their emperor.

Seven days later, the renowned judge Licius arrived at Sebaste and put the soldiers on trial. The saints steadfastly answered, “Take not only our military insignia, but also our lives, since nothing is more precious to us than Christ God.” Licius then ordered his servants to stone the holy martyrs. But the stones missed the saints and returned to strike those who had thrown them. One stone thrown by Licius hit Agricola in the face, smashing his teeth. The torturers realized that the saints were guarded by some invisible power. In prison, the soldiers spent the night in prayer and again they heard the voice of the Lord comforting them: “He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live (John 11:25). Be brave and fear not, for you shall obtain imperishable crowns.”

On the following day the judge repeated the interrogation in front of the torturer, but the soldiers remained unyielding.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. They lined up the holy soldiers, threw them into a lake near the city, and set a guard to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath-house was set up on the shore. During the first hour of the night, when the cold had become unbearable, one of the soldiers made a dash for the bath-house, but no sooner had he stepped over the threshold, than he fell down dead.

During the third hour of the night, the Lord sent consolation to the martyrs. Suddenly there was light, the ice melted away, and the water in the lake became warm. All the guards were asleep, except for Aglaius, who was keeping watch. Looking at the lake he saw that a radiant crown had appeared over the head of each martyr. Aglaius counted thirty-nine crowns and realized that the soldier who fled had lost his crown.

Aggias then woke up the other guards, took off his uniform and said to them, “I too am a Christian,” and he joined the martyrs. Standing in the water he prayed, “Lord God, I believe in You, in Whom these soldiers believe. Add me to their number, and make me worthy to suffer with Your servants.” Then a fortieth crown appeared over his head.

In the morning, the torturers saw with surprise that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aggias was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Cyrion (or Quirio) of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Cyrion was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola ordered that they be shackled and thrown into prison. Cyrion, the oldest soldier said, “The emperor has not given you the right to put shackles upon us.” Agricola was ashamed, and ordered that the soldiers be taken back to prison without shackles.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Candidus of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Candidus was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Domnus of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Domnus was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Hesychius of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Hesychius was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Heraclius of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Heraclius was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Smaragdus of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Smaragdus was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Eunocius (Or Eunicus) of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Eunocius (Eunicus) was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Valens of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Valens was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Vivianus of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Vivianus (Vicratius) was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Claudius of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Claudius was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Priscus of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Priscus was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Theodulus of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Theodulus was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Eutychius of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Eutychius was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr John of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint John was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Xanthius of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Xanthius was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Helianus of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Helianus was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Sisinius of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Sisinius was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Aggias of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Aggias was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Aetius of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Aetius was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Flavius of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Flavius was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Acacius of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Acacius was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Ecdicius of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Ecdicius was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Lysimachus of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Lysimacus was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Alexander of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Alexander was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Elias of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Elias was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Gorgonius of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Gorgonius was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Theophilus of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Theophilus was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Dometian of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Dometian was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Gaius of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

The Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste: in the year 313 St Constantine the Great issued an edict granting Christians religious freedom, and officially recognizing Christianity as equal with paganism under the law. But his co-ruler Licinius was a pagan, and in his part of the Empire he decided to annihilate Christianity, which had become widespread. Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine and, fearing mutiny, he decided to remove Christians from his army.

One of the military commanders of that time in the Armenian city of Sebaste was Agricola, a zealous champion of idolatry. Under his command was a company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles. All of them were Christians. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison. The soldiers occupied themselves with prayer and psalmody, and during the night they heard a voice saying, “Persevere until the end, then you shall be saved.”

On the following morning, the soldiers were again taken to Agricola. This time the pagan tried flattery. He began to praise their valor, their youth and strength, and once more he urged them to renounce Christ and thereby win themselves the respect and favor of their emperor. Hearing their refusal, Agricola gave orders to shackle the soldiers. But the eldest of them, Kyrion, said, “The emperor has not given you the right to put shackles upon us.” Agricola was ashamed, and ordered that the soldiers be taken back to prison without shackles.

Seven days later, the renowned judge Licius arrived at Sebaste and put the soldiers on trial. The saints steadfastly answered, “Take not only our military insignia, but also our lives, since nothing is more precious to us than Christ God.” Licius then ordered his servants to stone the holy martyrs. But the stones missed the saints and returned to strike those who had thrown them. One stone thrown by Licius hit Agricola in the face, smashing his teeth. The torturers realized that the saints were guarded by some invisible power. In prison, the soldiers spent the night in prayer and again they heard the voice of the Lord comforting them: “He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live (John 11:25). Be brave and fear not, for you shall obtain imperishable crowns.”

On the following day the judge repeated the interrogation in front of the torturer, but the soldiers remained unyielding.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. They lined up the holy soldiers, threw them into a lake near the city, and set a guard to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath-house was set up on the shore. During the first hour of the night, when the cold had become unbearable, one of the soldiers made a dash for the bath-house, but no sooner had he stepped over the threshold, than he fell down dead.

During the third hour of the night, the Lord sent consolation to the martyrs. Suddenly there was light, the ice melted away, and the water in the lake became warm. All the guards were asleep, except for Aglaius, who was keeping watch. Looking at the lake he saw that a radiant crown had appeared over the head of each martyr. Aglaius counted thirty-nine crowns and realized that the soldier who fled had lost his crown.

Aggias then woke up the other guards, took off his uniform and said to them, “I too am a Christian,” and he joined the martyrs. Standing in the water he prayed, “Lord God, I believe in You, in Whom these soldiers believe. Add me to their number, and make me worthy to suffer with Your servants.” Then a fortieth crown appeared over his head.

In the morning, the torturers saw with surprise that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aggias was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and they then threw the charred bones into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Leontius of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Leontius was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Athanasius of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Athanasius was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Cyril of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Cyril was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Sacerdon of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Sacerdon was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Nicholas of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Nicholas was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Valerius of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Valerian was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Philoctimon of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Philoctimon was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Severian of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Severian was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Chudion of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Chudion was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Aglaius of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Aglaius was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath-house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

Suddenly there was light, the ice melted away, and the water in the lake became warm. All the guards were asleep, except for Aglaius, who was keeping watch. Looking at the lake he saw that a radiant crown had appeared over the head of each martyr. Aglaius counted thirty-nine crowns and realized that the soldier who fled had lost his crown.

Aggias then woke up the other guards, took off his uniform and said to them, “I too am a Christian,” and he joined the martyrs. Standing in the water he prayed, “Lord God, I believe in You, in Whom these soldiers believe. Add me to their number, and make me worthy to suffer with Your servants.” Then a fortieth crown appeared over his head.

In the morning, the torturers saw with surprise that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution The mother of Meliton, the youngest of the soldiers, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and then the charred bones were thrown into the water so that Christians would not gather them up.


Martyr Meliton of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Saint Meliton was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Martyr Urpasianus of Nicomedia

The Holy Martyr Urpasianus 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 worship the pagan gods, but the strong held out until the very end.

The dignitary Urpasianus threw down his cloak and belt 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 that was given to me.” Maximian gave orders to tie Urpasianus to a tree and whip him with thongs.

Later, they bound the saint to an iron grate, and they built a fire beneath him. St Urpasianus endured the intolerable suffering with incessant prayer. The glorious martyr was burned alive, and his ashes thrown into the sea.


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.


Righteous Tarasius of Liconium

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Icon of the Mother of God “The Word was made Flesh”

The Albazin Icon of the Mother of God “the Word made Flesh” is of great religious significance in the Amur River region. It received its name from the Russian fortress of Albazin (now the village of Albazino) along the Amur river, founded in the year 1650 by the famous Russian frontier ataman Hierotheus Khabarov on the site of a settlement of the Daurian prince Albaza.

The hue and cry over the Amur Albazinsk fortress became an object of enmity for the Chinese emperor and his generals, who then already dreamed of expanding their influence over all of Russian Siberia.

On the eve of the Feast of the Annunciation, on March 24, 1652, the first military clash of the Russians with the Chinese occurred at the Amur. Through the prayers of the Most Holy Theotokos the pagans were scattered and fled to their own territory. This victory seemed like a portent for the Russians. But the struggle had only just begun. Many sons of Holy Russia died in the struggle for the Amur, and for the triumph of Orthodoxy in the Far East.

In June of 1658 an Albazin military detachment, 270 Cossacks under the leadership of Onuphrius Stepanov, fell into an ambush and in a heroic fight they were completely annihilated by the Chinese.

The enemy burned Albazin, overran Russian lands, and carried off the local population into China. They wanted to turn the fertile cultivated area back into wilderness.

During these difficult years the Most Holy Theotokos showed signs of Her mercy to the land of Amur. In 1665, when Russians returned and rebuilt Albazin, together with a priest there came to the Amur the Elder Hermogenes from the Kirensk Holy Trinity monastery. He carried with him a wonderworking icon of the Mother of God “the Word made Flesh”, called the Albazinsk Icon since that time. In 1671 the holy Elder built a small monastery on the boundary mark of the Brusyan Stone (one and a half kilometers from Albazin near the Amur), where the holy icon was later kept.

Albazin was built up. At two churches in the city, the Ascension of the Lord and St Nicholas the Wonderworker, Albazin priests offered the Bloodless Sacrifice. Not far from the city (along the Amur) another monastery was built, the Spassky. The fertile soil produced bread for Eastern Siberia. The local populace adapted itself to Russian Orthodox culture, peacefully entering into the multi-national Russian state, and found Russian protection from the plundering raids of Chinese feudal war-lords.

At Moscow they did not forget the needs of the far-away Amur frontier. They strengthened military defenses and improved regional government. In 1682 the Albazin Military-Provincial Government was formed. They concerned themselves about the spiritual nourishment of the Amur region peoples. A local Council of the Russian Church in 1681 adopted a resolution to send “archimandrites, igumens, or priests, both learned and good, to enlighten unbelievers with the law of Christ.” The Daurian and Tungusian peoples as a whole accepted Holy Baptism. Of great significance was the conversion of the Daurian prince Hantimur (renamed Peter) and his eldest son Katana (renamed Paul) to Orthodoxy.

The servants of the Chinese emperor planned for a new attack. After several unsuccessful forays, on July 10, 1685, they marched against Albazin with an army of 15,000 and encircled the fortress. In it were 450 Russian soldiers and three cannon. The first assault was repulsed. The Chinese then from all sides piled up firewood and kindling against the wooden walls of the fortress and set it on fire. Further resistance proved impossible. With its military standards and holy things, among which was the wonderworking Albazin Icon, the soldiers abandoned the fortress.

The Mother of God did not withhold Her intercession from Her chosen city. Scouts soon reported that the Chinese suddenly began to withdraw from Albazin, ignoring the Chinese emperor’s command to destroy the crops in the Russian fields. The miraculous intervention of the Heavenly Protectress not only drove the enemy from Russian territories, but also preserved the grain which sustained the city for the winter months. On August 20, 1685 Russians were in Albazin again.

A year went by, and the fortress was again besieged by Chinese. There began a five-month defense of Albazin, which occupies a most honored place in Russian military history. Three times, in July, in September, and in October, the forces of the Chinese emperor made an assault on the wooden fortifications. A hail of fiery arrows and red-hot cannon balls fell on the town. Neither the city nor its defenders could be seen in the smoke and fire. And all three times, the Mother of God defended the inhabitants of Albazin from their fierce enemy.

Until December 1686, when the Chinese lifted the siege of Albazin, of the city’s 826 defenders only 150 men remained alive.

These forces were inadequate to continue the war against the Chinese emperor. In August 1690 the last of the Cossacks departed from Albazin under the leadership of Basil Smirenikov. Neither the fortress, nor its holy things, fell into the hands of the enemy. The fortifications were razed and leveled by the Cossacks, and the Albazin Icon of the Mother of God was taken to Sretensk, a city on the river Shilka, which flows into the Amur.

But even after the destruction of Albazin, God destined its inhabitants to do another service for the good of the Church. By divine Providence the end of the military campaign contributed to the increase of the influence of the grace of Orthodoxy among the peoples of the Far East. During the years of war, a company of about a hundred Russian cossacks and peasants from Albazin and its environs were taken captive and sent to Peking.

The Chinese emperor even gave orders to give one of the Buddhist temples in the Chinese capital for an Orthodox church dedicated to Sophia, the Wisdom of God. In 1695 Metropolitan Ignatius of Tobolsk sent an antimension, chrism, service books, and church vessels to the Sophia church. In a letter to the captive priest Maximus, “the Preacher of the Holy Gospel to the Chinese Empire,” Metropolitan Ignatius wrote: “Be not troubled, nor troubled in soul for yourself and the captives with you, for who is able to oppose the will of God? Your captivity is not without purpose for the Chinese people, so that you may reveal to them the light of Christ’s Orthodox Faith.”

The preaching of the Gospel in the Chinese Empire soon bore fruit and resulted in the first baptisms of Chinese. The Russian Church zealously looked after the new flock. In 1715 the Metropolitan of Tobolsk, St Philotheus “the Apostle to Siberia” (+ May 31, 1727), wrote a letter to the Peking clergy and the faithful living under the Peking Spiritual Mission, who continued with the Christian work of enlightening pagans.

The years went by, and the new epoch brought the Russian deliverance of the Amur. On August 1, 1850, the Procession of the Precious Wood of the Life-Giving Cross, Captain G. I. Nevelsky raised up the Russian Andreev flag at the mouth of the Amur River and founded the city of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur. Through the efforts of the Governor-General of Eastern Siberia, N. N. Muraviev-Amursky (+ 1881), and St Innocent, Archbishop of Kamchatka (March 31), and through the spiritual nourishment which obtained in the Amur and coastal regions, in several years the left bank of the Amur was built up with Russian cities, villages and Cossack settlements.

Each year brought important advances in the development of the liberated territory, its Christian enlightenment and welfare. In the year 1857 on the bank of the Amur fifteen way-stations and settlements were established (the Albazin on the site of the old fortress and the Innokentiev, named in honor of St Innocent). In a single year, 1858, there were more than thirty settlements, among which were three cities: Khabarovsk, Blagoveschensk and Sophiisk.

On May 9, 1858, on the Feast of St Nicholas, N. N. Muraviev-Amursky and Archbishop Innocent of Kamchatka arrived in the Cossack post at Ust’-Zeisk. St Innocent was there to dedicate a temple in honor of the Annunciation of the Mother of God (Blagoveschenie, in Slavonic), the first building in the new city. Because of the name of the temple, the city was also called Blagoveschensk, in memory of the first victory over the Chinese on the Feast of the Annunciation in 1652, and in memory of the Annunciation church at Irkutsk, in which St Innocent began his own priestly service. It was also a sign that “from that place proceeded the blessed news of the reintegration of the Amur region territory under Russian sovereignty.” New settlers on the way to the Amur, journeying through Sretensk, fervently offered up their prayers to the Holy Protectress of the Amur region before her Wonderworking Albazin Icon. Their prayers were heard: the Aigunsk (1858) and Peking (1860) treaties decisively secured the left bank of the Amur and coastal regions for Russia.

In 1868 the Bishop of Kamchatka, Benjamin Blagonravov, the successor to St Innocent, transferred the holy icon from Sretensk to Blagoveschensk, thereby returning the famous holy icon to the Amur territory. In 1885, a new period began in the veneration of the Albazin Icon of the Mother of God and is associated with the name of the Kamchatka bishop Gurias, who established an annual commemoration on March 9 and a weekly Akathist.

In the summer of 1900, during the “Boxer Rebellion” in China, the waves of insurrection reached all the way to the Russian border. Chinese troops suddenly appeared on the banks of the Amur before Blagoveschensk. For nineteen days the enemy stood before the undefended city, raining artillery fire down upon it, and menacing the Russian bank with invasion.

The shallows of the Amur afforded passage to the adversary. In the Annunciation church services were celebrated continuously, and Akathists were read before the Wonderworking Albazin Icon. The Protection of the Mother of God was again extended over the city, just as it had been in earlier times. Not daring to cross the Amur, the enemy departed from Blagoveschensk. According to the accounts of the Chinese themselves, they often saw a Radiant Woman over the bank of the Amur, inspiring them with fear and rendering their missiles ineffective.

For more than 300 years the Wonderworking Albazin Icon of the Mother of God watched over the Amur frontier of Russia. Orthodox people venerate it not only as Protectress of Russian soldiers, but also as a Patroness of mothers. Believers pray for mothers before the icon during their pregnancy and during childbirth, “so that the Mother of God might bestow the gift of abundant health from the Albazin Icon’s inexhaustible well-spring of holiness.”

This icon depicts Christ as a child standing in a mandorla before His Mother’s breast.