Martyr James of Constantinople

The Martyrs Julian, Marcian, John, James, Alexius, Demetrius, Photius, Peter, Leontius, Maria the Patrician, the Protospatharios (“Sword-Captain”) Gregory and Others suffered for holy icons in the year 730 under the Iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian (717-741). The emperor deposed the holy Patriarch Germanus (715-730) from the patriarchal throne and sent him off to prison, raising up onto the patriarchal throne the iconoclast Athanasius (730-753).

By decree of the emperor, all icons were to be confiscated from homes and churches and then destroyed. At Constantinople from the time of the holy Emperor Constantine the Great (324-337) there was over the so-called “Copper Gates” a wonderworking icon of the Savior, made of copper.

The emperor and heretical Patriarch Anastasius gave orders to seize this icon. The gathered crowd became outraged at this sacrilege. In the crowd was the Patrician Maria, a woman of illustrious family, who with many others rushed to the ladder and pulled it from the wall to keep the soldier from touching the icon. The ladder came down, and the soldier standing on it fell to his death. This occurred on January 19, 730. The Protospatherios (“Sword-Captain”) Gregory and the nun St Theodosia (May 29) also took part in the defense of the icon.

Learning of this, the emperor executed a multitude of the faithful, the names of whom are known only to the Lord. The Protospatherios Gregory also received a martyr’s death. Some of the Orthodox are known, however: Julian, Marcian, John, James, Alexius, Demetrius, Leontius, Photius and Peter, who were locked up in prison and kept there for about eight months, each day receiving 500 blows. In these torments they remained alive by the power of Christ and bravely endured their sufferings.

By order of the emperor they were burned with a red-hot iron and their heads cut off. St Maria the Patrician, who had not been locked up in prison, learning about the executions, voluntarily accepted a martyr’s death. The bodies of the martyrs were buried in a coastal area near the church of the holy Martyr Theodore, and were discovered incorrupt 139 years later.