Lives of Saints - The Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebastia Christianity - Books
And if thy hand cause thee to stumble, cut it off: it is good for thee to enter into life maimed, rather than having thy two hands to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire.                where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.                And if thy foot cause thee to stumble, cut it off: it is good for thee to enter into life halt, rather than having thy two feet to be cast into hell.                where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.                And if thine eye cause thee to stumble, cast it out: it is good for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell;                where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.               
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The Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebastia
   

In the year 313 AD, St Constantine the Great signed a law decreeing freedom of religious faith. His co-ruler, Emperor Licinius seconded this law; however, in the provinces subject to him, the persecution of the Christians continued as before.

In the year 320 AD, these holy Martyrs, who came from various lands, were all soldiers under the same general, who tried to force them to bring a sacrifice to the idols, which they refused to do. Taken into custody for their faith in Christ, and at first interrogated by cruel means, they were then stripped of their clothing and cast onto the frozen lake which is at Sebastia of Pontus, at a time when the harsh and freezing weather was at its worst. This torment was made moire difficult for them, since a warm vapour-bath was placed on the shore of the lake to tempt them to leave the freezing water.

They endured the whole night naked in such circumstances, encouraging one another to be patient and singing holy hymns to God until the end. He that guarded them, named Aglaius, who was commanded to receive any of them that might deny Christ, had a vision in which he saw heavenly powers distributing crowns to all of the Martyrs, except one. The one who abandoned the contest hurried into the bath, but as soon as the warm air touched his body he died. Seeing this, Aglaius professed himself a Christian and joined the Martyrs on the lake, and the number of forty remained complete. In the morning, when they were almost dead from the cold the torturers broke the martyrs' shins with mallets and cast them into fire, after which their remains were thrown into the river. Three days later, the torturers came to Bishop Peter of Sebastia and recounted their deeds. Bishop Peter gathered the bones of the martyrs and buried them with honour.

Thus they finished the good course of martyrdom in 320, and their names are: Acacius, Aetius, Aglaius, Alexander, Angus, Athanasius, Candidus, Chudion, Claudius, Cyril, Cyrion, Dometian, Domnus, Ecdicius, Elias, Eunoicus, Eutyches, Eutychius, Flavius, Gaius, Gorgonius, Helianus, Herachus, Hesychius, John, Lysimachus, Meliton, Nicholas, Philoctemon, Priscus, Sacerdon, Severian, Sisinius, Smaragdus, Theodulus, Theophilus, VaIens, Valerius, Vivianus, and Xanthias.

Dismissal Hymn. First Tone
We plead to You for the sake of the sufferings of Your Saints which endured for You, O Lord, and heal all our pains, we pray, O Friend of man.

Kontakion. Plagal of Second Tone
Having left every military array of the world, you cleaved to the Master Who is in the Heavens, O Forty Prize-winners of the Lord; for having passed through fire and water, O blessed ones, you rightly received glory from Heaven and a multitude of crowns.

Source: http://www.orthodoxchristian.info

The Forty Martyrs of Sebastia

In the year 313, the emperor Constantine the Great signed a law decreeing freedom of religious faith. His co-ruler, emperor Licinius seconded this law, but the persecution of Christians continued as before in the provinces subject to him. Around the year 320, a unit of Roman troops was stationed in the town of Sebastia, in Armenia. Within that troop were forty Christian soldiers who were from Cappadocia by birth (presently Turkey). The commander in chief compelled them to bring a sacrifice to the idols, which they refused to do.

The soldiers were arrested and, while bound, led to the lake near the town of Sebastia. It was winter and night was approaching. The stripped soldiers were forced into the ice-covered lake. A terrible frost fettered the limbs of the saints and they began to freeze. This torment was made more difficult for them by a warm steam-bath, which was placed on the shore of the lake for their temptation. Anyone could save his life by informing the warden that he had rejected Christ; he could then enter the bath and be warmed. All night the soldiers valiantly bore the ferocious frost, encouraging each other and singing holy hymns to God.

At dawn one of the soldiers could no longer endure the suffering. He came out of the lake and hurried into the steam-bath. But as soon as the warm air touched his body he dropped dead. Soon after this happened, the warden Aglaius saw that an unearthly light shone above the remaining martyrs. He was so shaken by this miracle that he divested himself and joined the 39 martyrs.

Upon arriving at a later time, the torturers saw that the Christian soldiers were not only not frozen, but seemed to have thawed. Using mallets, the torturers broke their shins and threw them into a fire, after which the charred bones of the martyrs were thrown into the river.

Three days later, the torturers came to Peter, the Sebastian bishop, and recounted their deeds. Bishop Peter gathered the bones of the martyrs and buried them with honor. The names of the martyrs were saved: Cyrion, Candidus, Domnus, Hesychius, Heraclius, Smaragdus, Eunoicus, Valens, Vivianus, Claudius, Priscus, Theodulus, Euthychius, John, Xanpheas, Helianus, Sisinius, Angius, Aetius, Flavius, Acacius, Ecdetius, Lysimachus, Alexander, Ilias, Gorgonius, Theophilus, Domitian, Gaius, Leontius, Aphanasius, Cyril, Sacherdon, Nicholas, Valerius, Philoctimon, Severian, Chudion, Meliton and Aglaius.

The memorial for the forty martyrs is numbered among the great feast days. On the day of their memory the strictness of Great Lent is lifted and the liturgy is conducted before the Pre-sanctified Gifts.

Source: http://www.fatheralexander.org

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