49 Martyrs with Callistratus

These holy martyrs suffered at Carthage with St Callistratus at the beginning of the fourth century.

St Callistratus was miraculously saved after his tormentors had tied him up in a sack and cast him into the sea. By God’s mercy, however, the sack struck a sharp rock and was torn open. St Callistratus came to dry land unharmed, carried by dolphins. Viewing such a miracle, forty-nine soldiers came to believe in Christ. Then the military commander threw St Callistratus and the believing soldiers into prison. Before this, all of them were subjected to innumerable floggings.

In jail St Callistatus continued to preach the Word of God to the soldiers and he bolstered their spirits for martyrdom. Summoned again before the military commander, the sufferers firmly confessed their faith in Christ, after which they were bound hand and foot and thrown into a dam. But there their bonds broke, and with bright faces the holy martyrs stood in the water, rejoicing in their Baptism, which coincided with the act of martyrdom.

Beautiful bright crowns appeared over their heads, and all heard a voice: “Be brave, Callistratus, with your company, and come rest in the eternal habitations.” At the same time, the earth shuddered and an idol standing nearby fell down and smashed. Seeing this, another 135 soldiers also believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. The military commander, fearing a mutiny in the army, did not put them on trial, but again imprisoned St Callistratus with the others, where they fervently prayed and gave thanks to the Creator for giving them power to endure such sufferings.

At night the martyrs were cut to pieces with swords by order of the military commander. Their holy relics were buried by the 135 soldiers who remained alive. Later, a church was built on the spot of their sufferings, as St Callistatus had foretold.