February 29 2020 - February 16 2020

Martyrs Pamphilos the Presbyter, Valentus (Ualentos) the Deacon, Paul, Porphyrios, Seleucios, Theodoulos, Julian, Samuel, Ilias, Daniel, Jeremiah, Isaiah (+ c. 307-309). Martyrs of Persia at Martyropolis (IV). Monk Maruph, Bishop of Mesopotamia (+ 422). Monk Flavian, ArchBishop of Antioch (+ 404). Saint Nikon.

Cyprus Icon of the Mother of God.

The 12 Martyred Saints – Pamphilos the Presbyter, Valentus (Ualentos) the Deacon, Paul, Porphyrios, Seleucios, Theodoulos, Julian, Samuel, Ilias, Daniel, Jeremiah and Isaiah suffered during the time of a persecution against christians, initiated by the emperor Diocletian in the years 308-309 at Caesarea in Palestine. The holy martyr Pamphilos, a native of the city of Berit (Beirut), received his education at Alexandria, after which he was made presbyter at Caesarea. He laboured much over the collation and correction of copyist errors in texts of the New Testament. The corrected texts of Saint Pamphilos were copied out and distributed to those wanting them. In such form many pagans were converted to Christ through them. His works and concerned matters at Caesarea were gathered up into the extensive library of spiritual books available for the enlightening of christians. Blessed Jerome (IV – beginning V Century) deeply respected Saint Pamphilos and considered himself fortuneate to have located and come into possession of several of his manuscripts. Actively assisting Saint Pamphilos in proclaiming the faith in Christ were Saint Valentus, deacon of the church at Eleia – a man bent over with age and well-versed in the Holy Scriptures, and Saint Paul, ardent in faith and love for Christ the Saviour. All three were imprisoned for 2 years by the governor of Palestinian Caesarea, Urban. During the rule of his successor Firmilian, 130 christians were sentenced in Egypt and sent off to Cilicia (Asia Minor) to work in the gold mines. Five young brothers accompanied them there to the place of exile. On the return journey to Egypt they were detained at Caesarea and thrown into prison for confessing Christ. They brought the youths for judgement to Firmilian, together with those imprisoned earlier – Saints Pamphilos, Valentus and Paul. Having been named with names of Old Testament prophets – Ilias, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Samuel and Daniel – the youths answered the question of their fatherland by saying, that they were citizens of Jerusalem, meaning by this the heavenly Jerusalem. Firmilian knew nothing about a such-named city, since on the site of Jerusalem – razed to the ground by the emperor Titus in the year 70 – had been constructed a new city by the emperor Adrian (117-138), which at the time was named Eleia-Adrian. Firmilian tortured the youths for a long time. He sought to learn the location of the unknown city, and he sought to persuade the youths to apostacise. But nothing was accomplished, and the governor gave them over for beheading by the sword together with Pamphilos, Valentus and Paul.

Before this occurred, a servant of presbyter Pamphilos was given to suffer – this was the 18 year old youth Porphyrios, meek and humble. He had heard the sentence of death for the condemned martyrs, and asked the governor’s permission to bury the bodies after execution. For this he was sentenced to death and given over to burning on a bon-fire.

A witness of this execution – the pious christian Seleucios, a former soldier – in saluting the deeds of the sufferers, went up to Pamphilos before execution and told him about the martyr’s end of Saint Porphyrios. He was seized upon by soldiers and, on orders from Firmilian, was beheaded by the sword together with the condemned.

One of the governor’s servants, Thoedoulos, a man of venerable age and secretly a christian, greeted the martyrs being led to execution, gave them a kiss and asked them to pray for him. He was taken by soldiers for questioning to Firmilian, on whose orders he was crucified on a cross.

The youth Julian, a native of Cappadocia who had come to Caesarea, caught view of the bodies of the saints which had been thrown to wild beasts without burial. Julian went down on his knees and venerated the bodies of the sufferers. Soldiers standing by at the wall seized hold of him and took him to the governor, who condemned him to burning. The bodies of all 12 martyrs stayed without burial for 4 days. Neither beasts nor birds would touch them. Embarrassed by this situation, the pagans permitted christians to take the bodies of the martyrs and bury them.

The Monk Maruph was bishop of a city founded by him, Tigrit (Greek – Martyropolis), – a border city between the Byzantine empire and Persia. He was famed for his knowledge and his piety, he wrote about the martyrs, and he suffered for his faith in Christ under the Persian emperor Sapor. He also left behind other works in the Syrian language, among which the most famous are: “Commentary on the Gospel”, “Verses of Maruph”, “Liturgy of Maruph” and “The 73 Canons of the OEcumenical Council at Nicea” (325) with an account of the acts of the Council.

In the year 381 Saint Maruph participated in the II OEcumenical Council at Constantinople – convened against the heresy of Macedonius, and in the year 383 – at the local Antioch Council against the Messalians.

During the years 403-404 Saint Maruph set off to Constantinople to plead with the emperor Arkadius to protect Persian christians. He was twice sent by the emperor Theodosius the Younger to the shah Izdegerd to secure the peace between the empire and Persia.

In the year 414 Saint Maruph, having done his duty as envoy to the court of Izdegerd, persuaded the shah to a favourable disposition towards christians, and he assisted greatly in the freedom of confession of the true faith in Persia. He rebuilt christian churches razed during the persecution by the Persian shah Sapor. He also located relics of saints that had suffered martyrdom and transferred them to Martyropolis (Tigrit). He died there in about the year 422. The relics of Saint Maruph were later transferred to Egypt and placed in a skete monastery of the Mother of God.

Saint Flavian, Archbishop of Antioch (381-404), was a contemporary of Sainted John Chrysostom (+ 407). It is known of him, that he attempted by the power of gentle persuasion to obtain from the emperor Theodosius (379-395) a pardon for the citizens of Antioch, who had angered the emperor by destroying his statue. The end of the monk was peaceful and without illness. His commemoration is also on 27 September.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos