45 Holy Martyrs at Nicopolis in Armenia

The Forty-five Martyrs of the Armenian City of Nicopolis suffered during the reign of the emperor Licinius (311-324), then a coregent with Constantine the Great. Licinius, the ruler of the Eastern Empire, fiercely persecuted Christians and issued an edict to put to death any Christian who would not return to paganism. When the persecutions began at Nicopolis, more than forty of the persecuted of Christ decided to appear voluntarily before their persecutors, to confess openly their faith in the Son of God and accept martyrdom. The holy confessors were headed by Leontius, Mauricius, Daniel, Anthony and Alexander, and were distinguished by their virtuous life. The procurator of the Armenian district, Licius, before whom the holy confessors presented themselves, was amazed at the directness and bravery of those who voluntarily doomed themselves to torture and death. He tried to persuade them to renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, but the saints remained steadfast. They refuted all the arguments of the governor, pointing out to him all the falseness of faith in the vile and vice-filled pagan gods, leading those that worship them to ruin. The procurator gave orders to beat the confessors about the face with stones, and then shackle and imprison them.

In prison the saints rejoiced and sang the Psalms of David. St Leontius inspired and encouraged the brethren, preparing them to accept new tortures for the true Faith, and telling them of the bravery of all those formerly that had suffered for Christ. In the morning, after repeated refusals to offer sacrifice to the idols, the saints were again given over to torture. St Leontius, seeing the intense suffering of the martyrs and worrying that some of them might falter and lose faith, prayed to God that there might be a quick end of the matter for all.

When the holy martyrs sang Psalms at midnight, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to them, and the prison blazed with light. The angel declared to the martyrs that their contest was near its end, and their names already were inscribed in Heaven. Two of the prison guards, Meneus and Virilad, saw what was happening and believed in Christ. On the following morning, the governor decided to put the martyrs of Christ to death. After beastly tortures they burned them in a fire, and threw their bones in a river. Pious people found the relics, gathered them up and saved them. Later on, when freedom had been bestown to the Church of Christ, a church was built on this spot in the name of the holy 45 Martyrs.