Hieromartyr Polychronius the Bishop of Babylon

The Hieromartyr Polychronius, Bishop of Babylon; the presbyters Parmenius, Helimenas, and Chrysotelus; the deacons Luke and Mocius; the holy Persian Martyrs Abdon and Sennen; and the holy martyrs Olympius and Maximus suffered during the third century under the emperor Decius (249-251).

When Decius conquered Babylon, he found many Christians there and he began a persecution against them. He arrested St Polychronius, Bishop of Babylon, the three priests Parmenius, Helimenas, Chrysotelus, and two deacons, Luke and Mocius. They were brought before the emperor, who commanded them to offer sacrifice to idols. St Polychronius boldly replied, “We offer ourselves in sacrifice to our Lord Jesus Christ, but we shall never worship idols made by human hands.”

The enraged Decius had the confessors thrown into prison. When they were brought out for a second interrogation, St Polychronius remained silent. Decius said, “Your leader is voiceless.” St Parmenius replied, “The holy bishop is not without a voice, but he does not wish to defile his pure lips and ‘cast pearls before swine’” (Mt. 7:6). In a rage Decius commanded that St Parmenius’ tongue be cut out. In spite of this, Parmenius spoke clearly to St Polychronius, saying, “Pray for me, Father, for I behold the Holy Spirit upon you.”

By order of Decius the holy Bishop Polychronius was struck in the mouth with stones, and he gave up his spirit. They left his body lying in front of the temple of Saturn. Two Persian princes, Abdon and Sennen, who were secret Christians, came at night and buried the body of the holy martyr by the city walls.

Decius left for the city of Kordula, and ordered that the three presbyters and two deacons be taken along. At Kordula he again demanded that the martyrs offer sacrifice to idols. St Parmenius, despite his missing tongue, loudly and firmly refused.

Believing that St Parmenius was able speak through some sort of magic power, Decius increased the tortures and ordered that the confessors be burned with fire. Then a Voice was heard from Heaven, “Come to Me, ye humble of heart.” Decius believed that this was also the work of magic, and he ordered the priests and deacons beheaded with an axe.

The Persian princes Abdon and Sennen took the bodies of the martyrs by night and buried them in their own village near Kordula.This was reported to Decius.The princes were arrested and brought before the emperor, who commanded that the holy princes be locked up in prison. The saints rejoiced and glorified God.

On the same day two other Persians, Olympius and Maximus, were brought before Decius and charged with being Christians. The holy martyrs were fiercely tortured and beheaded for their bold confession of faith in Christ. For five days their bodies lay unburied, but on the sixth day Christians secretly buried them at night.

Decius returned to Rome with Abdon and Sennen in chains. He told the saints to offer sacrifice to the gods, promising them freedom and honors. The holy martyrs answered, “We offer ourselves in sacrifice to our God Jesus Christ, therefore offer your sacrifice to your own gods.” Decius sentenced them to be eaten by wild beasts. They set two lions upon them, and later on four bears, which would not touch the holy martyrs, but instead lay at their feet. Then they ran Abdon and Sennen through with swords. Their bodies lay for three days before an idol to frighten Christians. By night a secret Christian named Cyrenius took the bodies of the martyrs and buried them in his own home.

The holy Martyrs Abdon and Sennen suffered in the year 251. Their relics are preserved in the church of St Mark at Rome.