May 31 2020 - May 18 2020
Martyrs Theodotos of Ancyra and Seven Virgins: Alexandra, Tecusa, Claudia, Thaina, Euphrasia, Matrona and Julia (+ 303); Martyrs: Peter Dionysios, Andrew, Paul and Christina (+ 249-251); Herakleios, Pablinos and Benedimos; Simeon, Isaac and Bakhtis (IV); David and Tarichan (+ 693) (Gruz.); Euphrasia (III - IV); Julian; Leo; Theodota (+ 303-304); Priestmartyr Theodore, Bishop of Rome. Saint Anastaso. Monk Martinian.
The Holy Martyr Theodotos and the Holy Seven Virgins – Tecusa, Thaina, Claudia, Matrona, Julia, Alexandra and Euphrasia, lived during the 2nd half of the III Century in the city of Ancyra, Galatia district, and died as martyrs for Christ at the beginning of the IV Century. Saint Theodotos was “an inn-keeper”, had his own inn and was married. Then already he had attained to high spiritual accomplishment: he maintained prudence and purity, cultivated temperance in himself, subjugated the flesh to the spirit, and became practised in fasting and prayer. By his conversations he brought Jews and pagans to the Christian faith, and sinners – to repentance and improvement. Saint Theodotos received the gift of healing from the Lord and he treated the sick by placing his hands on them.
During the time of the persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), there was appointed as governor in the city of Ancyra – Theoteknes, known for his cruelty. Many Christians fled from the city, having forsaken their homes and property. Theoteknes made a proclamation to all Christians that they were under obligation to offer sacrifice to idols, and in the event of refusal they were to be given over to torture and death. Pagans delivered Christians over to torture, and then divided up their property.
A famine befell the country. During these grim days, Saint Theodotos gave shelter in his inn to Christians left homeless. he fed them, hid away those being pursued, and from his supplies gave to devastated churches everything necessary for making the Divine Liturgy. He fearlessly went into the prisons, rendering help to the innocently condemned – encouraging them to be faithful to Christ the Saviour to the very end. Theodotos did not fear to bury the remains of holy martyrs, either carrying them off secretly or ransoming them from the soldiers for money. When the Christian churches at Ancyra were destroyed and closed, Divine Liturgy began to be celebrated in his inn. Perceiving that the deed of martyrdom awaited him too, Saint Theodotos in conversation with the priest Phrontonos predicted, that in a short while they would bring to him the relics of martyrs, at a place chosen by both of them. In surety of his words, Saint Theodotos gave his ring to the priest.
During this while seven holy virgins had accepted death for Christ, of whom the eldest – Saint Tecusa – was an aunt of Saint Theodotos. The holy virgins – Tecusa, Thaina, Claudia, Matrona, Julia, Alexandra and Euphrasia – from their youth had dedicated themselves to God, and lived in constant prayer, fasting, temperance and good deeds. All of them had attained to an elderly age. Brought to trial as Christians, the holy virgins in front of Theoteknes bravely confessed their faith in Christ and were given over to torture, but remained steadfast. The governor thereupon gave them over to shameless youths for desecration. The holy virgins prayed intensely, asking help from God. Saint Tecusa fell down at the feet of a youth, and taking back her head-veil she showed him her greyed hair. The youths became startled, started weeping and ran off. The governor then ordered, that the saints take part in “the ablution of the idols”, which was done by pagan priests, but again the holy virgins refused. For this they were sentenced to death. An heavy stone was tied to the legs of each, and all seven of the holy virgins was drowned in a lake. On the following night Saint Tecusa appeared in a dream to Saint Theodotos, asking him to take up her body and give it Christian burial. Saint Theodotos, taking with him his friend Polychronios and several other Christians, set off to the lake. It was dark, and a burning torch led the way. Amidst them in front of the guard, posted by the pagans at the shore of the lake, appeared the holy martyr Sosander. The frightened guard ran off in terror. The wind drove the water towards the other side of the lake. The Christians took up the bodies of the holy martyresses and carried them to church, from whence they were given over to burial. Learning about the theft of the bodies of the holy martyresses, the governor went into a rage and gave orders to strike at all Christians and give them over to torture. Polychronios also was seized. Not able to endure the torture, he informed on Saint Theodotos, as the perpetrator of the theft of the bodies. Saint Theodotos began to prepare to die for Christ; having come up together with all the Christians zealous in prayer, he made bequest of his body to the priest Phrontonos, to whom earlier he had given his ring. The saint came before the judge. They showed him various instruments of torture and instead of them they promised him honours and riches, if he recanted from Christ. Saint Theodotos glorified the Lord Jesus Christ, and confessed his faith in Him. In anger the pagans gave the saint over to constant torture, but the power of God sustained the holy martyr. He remained alive and was cast into prison. On the following morning the governor again gave orders to torture the saint, but he soon perceived, that it was impossible to break his courage. He then gave orders to behead the martyr. The execution was done, but sensing that a storm was approaching, the soldiers set fire to the body of the martyr. And soldiers, sitting in a tent, remained to guard the body. At this point the priest Phrontonos appeared from a nearby way, leading a donkey with a load of wine from his vineyard. The donkey suddenly fell down near the place where lay the body of Saint Theodotos. The soldiers helped get the donkey back up and they told Phrontonos that they were guarding the body of the executed Christian Theodotos. The priest perceived, that the Lord had intentionally sent him hither. He placed the holy remains on the donkey and took them to the place, indicated by Saint Theodotos for his burial, and with honour he committed them to the earth. Afterwards he built up a church on this spot. Saint Theodotos accepted death for Christ on 7 June 303 or 304, and his memory is commemorated on 18 May, on the day of death of the holy virgins.
The account of the life and martyr’s act of Saint Theodotos and the suffering of the holy virgins was compiled by the contemporary and companion of Saint Theodotos, and an eye-witness of his death – Nilos, living in the city of Ancyra during the period of persecution of Christians under the emperor Diocletian.
The Holy Martyrs Peter, Dionysios, Andrew, Paul, Christina suffered under emperor Decius (249-251). The first of them, the youth Peter, suffered in the city of Lampsaka (Hellispontum). Brought to trial before the governor Optimines, he bravely confessed his faith in Christ. They tried to force the youth to recant from the Lord and worship the idol-goddess Venus, but the martyr refused to do their bidding, and declared for everyone to hear, that a Christian would not bow to the idol of a lecherous woman. Saint Peter was subjected to fierce tortures, but he courageously endured the tortures, giving thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ for having bestowed upon him His all-powerful help, and he was then beheaded. Also at this time there were brought to trial Dionysios, Nicomakhos and two soldiers, transferred from Mesopotamia, and also Andrew and Paul. They all confessed their faith in Christ and refused to offer sacrifice to idols, for which reason they were given over to torture. To the great sorrow of all the Christians Nicomakhos did not hold out and he apostacised from the Lord Jesus Christ; he went into the pagan temple and offered sacrifice. He immediately fell down in a terrible frenzy and died among the frightened torturers. The renunciation of Nicomakhos was heard by the 16 year old girl Christina, standing in the crowd, who shouted: “Thou cursed and lost man! Here instead of only one hour thou hast obtained for thyself eternal and ineffable torment!” The governor heard these words. He gave orders to seize the holy virgin and, learning from her that she was a Christian, he gave her over to shameless profligates. At the house, where they had taken the holy virgin, there appeared an Angel. Frightened by his terrible visage, the youths with tears began to beg forgiveness of the holy virgin and besought her to pray for them, so that the Lord’s chastisement might not befall them.
On the following morning, Saints Dionysios, Andrew and Paul were again brought before the governor. For confessing faith in Christ they were given over to the throng of pagans for rending asunder. They bound the saints by the feet, dragged them to the place of execution and there stoned them to death. During the time of execution, Saint Christina came running up so as to die together with the martyrs, but by order of the governor she was beheaded.
The Holy Martyrs Herakleios, Pablinos and Benedimos suffered for Christ in the city of Athens. They preached there to the pagans about Christ and urged them to abandon the worship of insensate idols. The chosen of God were brought to trial together with their followers, who had discerned the true path. After many torments they were thrown into a fiery oven, in which they offered up their souls to God.
The Holy Martyrs Simeon, Isaac and Bakhtis were Christians and lived during the III Century in Persia under the emperor Sapor, a fierce persecutor of Christians. They tried to force the saints to recant from Christ and be converted to the grim faith of fire-worship. But they refused and answered the pagans: “We will not recant from the Creator of all and we will not worship fire nor the sun”. They cruelly tortured the holy martyrs, then threw them into prison, where they were not given food for seven days. Finally, they beheaded the martyrs.
The Holy Martyrs David and Tarichan, Gruzians (Georgians) by descent, were brothers by birth. They accepted a martyr’s death in 693 from the Persian governor Abdul for refusing to become moslems.
The Holy Martyress Euphrasia was a native of the city of Nicea. She accepted death for Christ at the time of the emperors Diocletian and Maximian – at the end of the III or beginning IV Century. Subjected to many tortures, the martyress was drowned in the sea.
The Holy Martyress Theodota together with seven other martyresses was drowned in a lake near the city of Ancyra in the year 303 or 304.
© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos