Martyr Episteme and her husband at Emesa

The Martyrs Episteme and her husband Galaction at Emesa.

When Galaction turned twenty-four, his father resolved to marry him off and they found a beautiful and illustrious girl by the name of Episteme. The son did not oppose the will of his father, but by the will of God, the wedding was postponed for a time. Visiting his betrothed, Galaction gradually revealed his faith to her. Eventually, he converted her to Christ and he secretly baptized her himself.

Besides Episteme he baptized also one of her servants, Eutolmius. The newly-illumined decided to devote themselves to the monastic life. Leaving the city, they hid themselves away on Mount Publion, where there were two monasteries, one for men and the other for women. The new monastics had to take with them all the necessities for physical toil, since the inhabitants of both monasteries were both old and infirm.

Once, Episteme had a vision in her sleep: she and Galaction stood in a wondrous palace before a radiant King, and the King bestowed golden crowns on them. This prefigured their impending martyrdom.

The pagans became aware of the existence of the monasteries, and a detachment of soldiers was sent to apprehend their inhabitants. But the monks and the nuns succeeded in hiding themselves in the hills. Galaction, however, had no desire to flee and so he remained in his cell, reading Holy Scripture. When Episteme saw that the soldiers were leading Galaction away in chains, she began to implore the Abbess to permit her to go also, since she wanted to accept torture for Christ together with her fiancé and teacher. The Abbess tearfully blessed Episteme to do so.

The saints endured terrible torments, while supplicating and glorifying Christ. Their hands and legs were cut off, their tongues were cut out, and then they were beheaded.

Episteme’s former servant Eutolmius, who had become her brother in Christ and fellow ascetic in monastic struggles, secretly buried the bodies of the holy martyrs. He later wrote an account of their virtuous life and their glorious martyrdom, for his contemporaries and for posterity.