Martyr Emilian of Silistria in Bulgaria

The Holy Martyr Emilian, who was a Slav, suffered for Christ during the reign of Emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Julian wanted to restore the cult of the pagan gods throughout the Roman Empire, and he issued an edict, according to which all Christians who failed to honor the pagan gods would be subject to death.

St Emilian lived in the Thracian city of Dorostolum on the banks of the River Dunaj (Danube).The imperial edict was read in the city square, but the people of Dorostolum declared that there were no Christians in the city.

St Emilian was a slave of a cruel and fanatical idolater, and was a secret Christian. Some sources state that he was the son of a local officer named Sabbatianus. When the father learned that Emilian believed in Christ, he was so enraged that he insulted him with vulgar words and had him whipped. He pointed out that he could expect even worse things to happen to him if he remained a Christian.

Instead of being intimidated by these threats, St Emilian’s faith in Christ was strengthened. The next day he went into a pagan temple and smashed the statues with a hammer.

An angry crowd started to beat a certain Christian, who was passing by. St Emilian then shouted out loudly that they should not harm that innocent man, since he himself was the one who had damaged the pagan temple.

The saint was seized and brought to Capitolinus the governor for judgment. In spite of further threats, St Emilian would not deny Christ. “He is my Lord, and I will never deny Him,” the martyr exclaimed. The governor ordered that St Emilian be beaten mercilessly, and then to be burned alive. He did not perish when he was thrown into the fire, but instead the flames consumed many of the pagans who were standing about. When the fire had gone out, St Emilian lay down upon the dying embers, and gave up his soul to the Lord. The wife of the pagan ruler was also a secret Christian, and she gathered up the saint’s relics and buried them. Afterward, a church dedicated to the holy Martyr Emilian was built at Constantinople, where his relics were transferred.