Martyr Asclepiades of Smyrna

St Asclepiades suffered with the hieromartyrs Pionius and Limnus, and the holy martyrs Sabina, Macedonia during the persecution of Christians in the reign of Decius (249-251). They suffered at Smyrna, a mercantile city on the eastern shores of the Aegean Sea. The Church in Smyrna was founded by the holy Apostle John the Theologian (May 8 and September 26), and was made glorious by its martyrs and confessors.

St Pionius knew that he and his companions would be arrested on February 23, the anniversary of St Polycarp’s martyrdom, and a feastday for the Christians of Smyrna. The day before they were arrested, St Pionius entertained Asclepiades and Sabina in his house. Taking three lengths of woven chains, St Pionius placed them around his neck, and around the necks of the other two. He did this to show that they were all determined to be led off to prison rather than eat food sacrificed to idols.

The holy confessors were indeed arrested on February 23. After a brief interrogation they were dragged off by Polemon the verger in order to sacrifice to the idols and eat forbidden foods. They were brought to the forum, where a great crowd had gathered.

Polemon the verger attempted to persuade Pionius to obey the law and offer sacrifice to the idols.

“If only I could persuade you to become Christians,” Pionius replied.

The men laughed at him, saying that he did not have the power to do that, because they knew they would be burned alive if they converted.

St Pionius said, “It is far worse to burn after death.”

St Sabina laughed when she heard this. Then Polemon threatened to put her in a brothel, but she said she believed that God would protect her.

Sts Sabina and Asclepiades were questioned, and they said they were Christians who worshiped Jesus Christ. Then they were thrown into jail.

The holy martyrs were brought to the marketplace, and were urged to offer sacrifice. When they refused, they were taken back to prison. On the way, they were beaten and mocked by the crowd. Someone said to St Sabina, “Why couldn’t you have died in your own city?”

St Sabina retorted, “What is my native city?”

Terentius, who was in charge of the gladiatorial games, said to Asclepiades, “After you are condemned, I shall ask that you compete in the games given by my son.”

“That does not scare me,” he said.

The Life of St Pionius does not mention how St Asclepiades died.