Child-Martyr Gabriel of Zabludov

2 October 12
Child-Martyr Gabiel

Child-Martyr Gabiel

April 20

The holy youth Martyr Gabriel was born in 1684 in the village of Zverka, Zabludov diocese, to apious peasant couple, Peter and Anastasia Govdel. He was baptized in the Dormition church of the Zabludov monastery and received the name Gabriel in honor of the Archangel.

Besides the meekness and guilelessness normally found in children, the young Gabriel was marked by characteristics uncommon to his age. He had, for example, a reflective nature and a mature perception of the action of Divine Providence in people’s lives. It is not surprising that he inclined more towards prayer and solitude than towards the amusements which occupied his peers.

In 1690 tragedy visited the GovdeI family. One day the unsuspecting mother, leaving the six-year old Gabriel alone in the house, took some food to his father who was out plowing the fields. While she was gone a local tenant came to the house. Taking advantage of the parents’ absence and the child’s trusting nature, he kidnapped the boy.

Gabriel was taken secretly to the town of Bialystok and given over to sadistic torture. His side was pierced and a special instrument was inserted which gradually drained his blood. After nine days of such treatment the boy died. Desiring to conceal such a vile deed, the murderer secretly took the body and threw it onto the edge of a field near some woods in the vicinity of the boy’s home village.

The holy Feast of Pascha approached. Hungry dogs began gathering around the lifeless body, predatory birds circled overhead. Miraculously the body remained untouched. Not only did the dogs refrain from devouring it, they even guarded it against the birds.

The body of the young martyr was eventually discovered and taken to Zabludov. An investigation brought to light the particulars of the crime which was duly entered in the town records. With the participation of many local inhabitants, deeply shaken by the committed atrocity, the body of the martyr Gabriel was laid to rest near the cemetery church. There it remained for close to thirty years.

Early in the 18th century, the whole territory surrounding Bialystok was seized by an epidemic. Thousands fell victim to the disease and crowded the cemeteries. Many children from the neighborhood of Zvevka and Zabludov were buried near the grave of the child-martyr Gabriel whom many revered on account of his innocent suffering and martyric death. Many sensed an abundance of grace present at his grave,

Once, during a burial, some grave diggers inadvertently came up against Gabriel’ s coffin. When it was opened witnesses were astonished to see that after the passage of so many years, the child’s body was incorrupt. News of the miracle spread with lightening speed among the faithful, strengthening and increasing veneration for the holy child. His relics were reverently transferred to the village church in Zverkov and placed in a special crypt below the church.

In 1794 a fire destroyed the church but, miraculously, the relics were spared. Only a portion of one hand was partially burned and this, undoubtedly, in accordance with God’s Providence for the sake of strengthening faith and piety among the Orthodox people, for when the holy relics were subsequently transferred to the Zabludov monastery, the injured hand was supernaturally restored; it was found to be newly covered with skin.

The living memory of the child-martyr, the honor accorded him, and the desire to promote his veneration inspired the building of a church on the site of his grave. On the day of Holy Pascha 1894, took place the festive consecration of the church. Sadly, only eight years later this church also burned. But on this occasion likewise there occurred a miracle. Although the church was completely destroyed, the icon of its heavenly patron, child-martyr Gabriel, was preserved unharmed.

For many years St. Gabriel’s relics lay in the Zabludov monastery. External circumstances, however, forced upon the area a tense situation which was heightened by the ill will of some of its heterodox inhabitants. For the sake of security the relics were transferred to the Holy Trinity Monastery in Slutsky–which explains how St. Gabriel came to be called “Slutsky,” a fact which clouds the true origin of this Zabludov saint. From Slutsky the holy relics were eventually transferred to the city of Minsk and then to Grodno where they exist at the present time.

But the believers of the Polish Orthodox Churchhave faith that in God’s good time the holy relics of the child-martyr Gabriel will be returned to his homeland, to the place of his birth, where his memory is reverently preserved in prayer even to this day.

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Blessed Andrew the Fool-For-Christ at Constantinople

1 October 12
Blessed Andrew the Fool-For-Christ at Constantinople

Commemorated on October 2

Blessed Andrew, Fool-for-Christ, was a Slav and lived in the tenth century at Constantinople. From his early years, he loved God’s Church and the Holy Scriptures. Once during a dream, the saint beheld a vision of two armies. In the one were men in radiant garb, in the other, black and fiercesome devils. An angel of God, who held wondrous crowns, said to Andrew, that these crowns were not adornments from the earthly world, but rather a celestial treasure, with which the Lord rewards His warriors, victorious over the dark hordes. “Proceed with this good deed,” the angel said to Andrew. “Be a fool for My sake and you will receive much in the day of My Kingdom.”

The saint perceived that it was the Lord Himself summoning him to this deed. From that time Andrew began to go about the streets in rags, as though his mind had become muddled. For many years the saint endured mockery and insults. With indifference he underwent beatings, hunger and thirst, cold and heat, begging alms and giving them away to the poor. For his great forebearance and humility the saint received from the Lord the gift of prophecy and wisdom, saving many from spiritual perils, and he unmasked the impiety of many.

While praying at the Blachernae church, St Andrew beheld the Most Holy Mother of God, holding her veil over those praying under her Protection (October 1). Blessed Andrew died in the year 936.


The Port Arthur Icon of the Mother of God

18 September 12

Commemorated 18 September

Image of the Triumph of Our Lady of Port Arthur

It is not given to us to perceive what is awaiting the Church ahead. Woes and persecutions often accompany the life of a Christian. But the miraculous reappearance of the icon of the most Holy Theotokos proves her gracious Intercession for all Orthodox Christians. This will give us courage and selflessness in bearing our own cross.

-Archbishop Veniamin of Vladivostok and Primorye

In December 1903 an aged sailor who was one of the last defenders of Sevastopol during the Crimean War came to the city of Kiev to pray before the holy relics of the Lavra of the Caves.

One night some strange noise woke the old man up and he saw the Theotokos with angels around her, among them the Archangel Michael and the Archangel Gabriel. The Theotokos was standing upon two discarded and broken swords on the shore of a bay, with her back turned to the water. She was holding a white aer with blue fringe, upon which was an Image of the Savior, “Not-Made-By-Hands.” Angels in the clouds of blinding light were holding a crown above her head and the Lord of Sabaoth was sitting still higher on the throne of glory, encircled with the blinding radiance.

The old man was moved and experienced the uttermost awe, but the Theotokos comforted him and said, “Russia will soon be involved in a very difficult war on the shores of a far sea; many a woe is awaiting her. Paint an icon showing my appearance as it is now and send the icon to Port Arthur. If the icon is in that city, Orthodoxy will triumph over paganism and Russian warriors will attain my help, my patronage, and their victory.” The blinding light filled his room and the vision disappeared.

Port Arthur was a city named for a captain of the English vessel Algerino, founded in Manchuria in 1858 on the site of a former Chinese settlement, Lao Shun. Forty years later China leased this city (along with its nearby territories) to Russia because of the Japanese threat. Thus Russia became the intercessor and defender of the Far East territories. In 1902 the St. Nicholas Orthodox garrison church was built there.

This appearance was the first revelation of this kind in 20th century Russia. The 20th century has been called the time of the Russian Golgotha but also the Age of the Glory and Triumph of the Most Holy Theotokos, for in it the Theotokos manifested many miracles, signs, and revelations. The Most Pure One is ever present where her Son is being crucified. Therefore she did not forsake Russia’s Cross in that mournful time.

In Kiev they took heed of the old sailor’s story, and but two months after the appearance of the Theotokos it was spoken about all over Russia. In the beginning of 1904 the Russo-Japanese war broke out with the attack of Japanese torpedo boats on the Russian ships of the port of Incheon, Korea.

Russians remembered the behest of the Theotokos and began to raise money. Ten-thousand people donated, giving kopeck by kopeck, and the icon was executed exactingly according to the description of the old sailor. It was blessed during Holy Week and sent to St. Petersburg, being entrusted to the care of Admiral Verkhovsky. The people of Kiev expressed their hope that the admiral would make every possible effort, losing no opportunity to deliver the icon safely and as quickly as possible to the fortress of Port Arthur.

The icon was in the admiral’s house by Pascha, but he did not hasten to send it to the Far East. For several days his home was like an artist’s salon. Generals, senators, and representatives of the local authorities dropped by to have a look at the icon. Metropolitan Antony of St. Petersburg also paid a visit and reminded the admiral that the icon was rightly to have been delivered to Port Arthur and that he should have made haste to fulfill the will of Our Lady.

On March 31st the commander of the Russian Navy, Stepan Makarov, perished not far from Port Arthur. During those days the Emperor Nicholas II wrote in his journal, “All the day long I could not come to myself because of this heartbreaking woe. Let God’s will abide in everything, but we shall ask for His mercy towards us who are sinful.”

Historical Background

The Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 was fought on account of competing claims to dominion in north-eastern China and Korea. In February of 1904 Japan initiated war by attacking Port Arthur, the defense of which lasted into the beginning of 1905. The Japanese defeated the Russian Army in the general battle at Moukden, and the Russian Navy at the Korean Gulf (Susima Island).

When the War ended, Japan’s military resources were running short but Russia was only beginning her military actions. Nevertheless, the Portsmouth Peace Treaty left Port Arthur and half of Sakhalin island to Japan, brought Korea under Japanese influence, and completely liquidated the Russian Pacific Navy.

An American historian Dennett wrote in 1925:

Now very few suppose that Japan was deprived of the fruits of its forthcoming victories by concluding the Portsmouth peace treaty. The contrary opinion predominates: Japan had already been exhausted by the end of May and only that very treaty saved it from complete defeat in its collision with Russia.

Admiral Verkhovsky apparently did not see the tragedy of Makarov’s death as sufficent cause to deliver the icon the Triumph of the Theotokos. Thus it continued to be a decorative element of his apartment.

Admiral Nikolai Skryidlov was appointed to the position of the perished Makarov. When he was preparing to set out for the battlefield of Port Arthur, the Dowager Empress Maria (mother of Nicholas II) decided to take responsibility for the icon. After a short moleben the icon was delivered to the carriage-wagon of Admiral Skryidlov. He promised personally to bring the icon right to the cathedral of Port Arthur.

But the admiral’s train did not go immediately to the Far East, as he himself was busy straightening out home and family affairs. In the end of April of 1904 Port Arthur was besieged and as a result Skryidlov came to Vladivostok instead of Port Arthur.

One of his contemporaries commented in a written account of what came to pass, “The miraculous icon the Triumph of the Theotokos was temporarily placed in the Cathedral of Vladivostok on August 2, 1904.” This indicates that it was not placed in the Church for public veneration until ninety days after Admiral Skryidlov’s arrival. He, busied with concerns, simply forgot the icon. It was after a decree of Empress Maria that the icon was finally taken from the admiral’s house to the Dormition Cathedral.

An eyewitness wrote:

Kneeling people in tears and with deep faith were praying before the icon. Those from the navy and the infantry, from soldiers to the admiral and general fell down before the icon and were asking in their zealous prayers for the consolation, encouragement, and intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Bishop Evsevy of Vladivostok spoke these words August 6th before serving the first moleben before this miraculously revealed icon:

Though the icon has not reached Port Arthur, let not the heart of the old sailor who was made worthy of this vision nor the hearts of those who raised money for the icon be troubled. The Lord is All-merciful and Almighty, and though the icon of His Most Pure Mother is in Vladivostok she is able to help the warriors of Port Arthur, and all Russian warriors. Let us, citizens of Vladivostok, leap for joy to have such a holy thing.

But almost everyone felt that something wrong had been done. The publishing house of the Orthodox News and the military authorities received scores of letters daily. This one summarizes the people’s opinions:

As the icon has not come to the point of its final destination, it cannot give the grace-filled help and protection of the Theotokos. Now it is high time we asked for heavenly intercession, and if this help was promised upon the fulfillment of certain conditions, we ought not to have left things halfway done. Let every way of delivering the icon be attempted, however hazardous; this being the will of the Theotokos, Her icon is sure to get to Port Arthur. Even if it does not happen we will submit our will to the Theotokos, and there will be no reproach in our souls for our inattention to what the Heavenly Queen has told us through the old sailor.

A group of young Orthodox officers tried several times but failed to deliver copies of the icon to Port Arthur. In the Dormition Cathedral molebens before the icon did not cease, an eyewitness wrote that there were as many crying and praying people as ever and one could hear the oft repeated question: why did they not send the icon to Port Arthur after all? Why was there no person who out of sheer love for the Motherland could take on a perilous but noble quest of delivering the icon of the Theotokos?

It was then that the person appeared who could attempt such a noble deed: a retired officer, Nikolai Fyodorov. He was in his fifties and suffered from rheumatism and stomach disease, and surely never thought of any daring feats living as he did far from the Far East in Gatchina (near St. Petersburg). But then he came across the newspaper article expressing the view that nobody could fulfill the mission of taking the icon to its destination.

So Nikolai Fyodorov told his wife about his taking a risky journey to the Far East and immediately made for the city of Kronstadt to ask the blessing of the great pastor of the Russian land, St. John of Kronstadt. Later he recounted that during his travel many little miracles occurred and all the difficult problems were somehow easily solved. He said that it was not surprising, as he had St. John’s blessing.

On October 7th Nikolai arrived in Vladivostok. On the same day Admiral Skryidlov received from Copenhagen a telegram from the Dowager Empress, which said that he should let Mr. Fyodorov take further care of the icon.

Delivering the icon by land was out of question so Nikolai decided to take it first to the city of Shanghai, China. The Norwegian steamer Eric was to take the icon on November 22nd. The Diocese News wrote that during the entire time before the appointed date Fyodorov fasted, made confession, and took Holy Communion.

The steamer left and the believers waited hopefully for some news, but it did not come; Port Arthur fell on December 20th.

At last on January 11th a letter came to Vladivostok in which Fyodorov said that there had been no sail wind for some time and he had had to stop at Chifu. At that time four torpedo boats returned from Port Arthur with the most grievous news. Port Arthur had given up. But the ways of God are unknown, and so it was not God’s will for Fyodorov to reach the city.

The head of Russian Orthodox mission in Korea Archimandrite Pavel said:

Glory to God that there was a man in Russia who manifested the Christian courage and faith that we lack. Alas! The history of the icon of the Triumph of the Theotokos was a test for our faith, and the fact of its having been painted in Kiev is as unusual as the lesson which Port Arthur taught us.

Having entered the 21st century we should not forget the will of the Most Pure One revealed to us one-hundred years ago. It was not fulfilled because some military officials lacked belief in her intercession. All of this left a sorrowful memory and a wound in the Russian heart. St. John of Kronstadt used to say that Russia failed because of negligence towards the holy icon.

Let us think: is it not because Russian people have left their religious unity and forsaken the ancient holy things and testaments of their forefathers that woes and disasters now torment Russia? The Lord bestowed upon our nation the role of a keeper and protector of holy things. These holy things are the religious and moral foundations for establishing one’s personal, family, and social life so as to draw away the evil and give an ample space for the good.

-Metropolitan John of St. Petersburg

Nikolai Fyodorov had to give the icon to his military commanders. Afterwards it returned to Vladivostok in May 1905, having been in the itinerant church of the commander-in-chief.

Following the revolution of 1917 the Dormition Cathedral was closed and then demolished. The icon of Port Arthur was lost in the whirl of tragic events that fell on Russia in the 20th century. There was much conjecture as to where the icon might be. Then the Lord was pleased to reveal yet another of His miracles.

Though many attempted to erase the memories of the past, a command of the Theotokos cannot be rescinded. On February 18th, 1998 pilgrims from Vladivostok came across the icon of Port Arthur in an antique shop in Jerusalem!

On May 6th, 1998 the Port Arthur icon of the “Triumph of the Theotokos” returned to Vladivostok. The joyful believers welcomed it with a Cross Procession and triumphant bell ringing. Now the original icon is in the chapel of the Vladivostok diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church.

On Pascha of 2003 the doors of a new church in honor of this icon opened in Vladivostok. The church began holding services during the year of the 100th anniversary of the appearance of the Theotokos. There then emerged a public movement called “Blessing the Far East.” Soon an exact copy of the icon was produced, and this copy was carried in a seaside Cross Procession along the coast of the Primorye Region.

In 2004 a second Cross Procession took place. A ship, the Pallada, delivered the icon to the city of Port Arthur (now Lushun, China). The Blessing the Far East organization, the church dedicated to the Port Arthur Icon, and the Far Eastern State Technical Fisheries University carried out this memorable event. The project was headed by Fr. Roman, the dean of the church dedicated to the Port Arthur Icon, as well as Dmitry Astapenko, the director of Russian club in Dalian, China. They, with the captain and crew of the Pallada, celebrated a triumphant service in the Russian cemetery of Port Arthur with prayers of penitence for those who had doubted the will of the Theotokos. Thus the Russian warriors who perished there received the icon after one-hundred years of waiting.

Another copy of this icon from St. Petersburg had visited the cemetery one year earlier on May 9, 2003. This copy was made the same year and traveled all over Russia, the Far East, Serbia, the Caucasus, and the Ukraine.

In January 2004 two guests from America, Dan Kendall and Gale Armstrong, of St. John Orthodox Community in Alaska, visited the Church of the Port Arthur Icon in Vladivostok. They became acquainted with the history of the icon. A copy, with inscriptions in English, was given to them after the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Nativity. Thus began the triumphant glorification of the icon all over North America.

In September 2006, the St. Innocent Orthodox Missionary Society of Toronto delivered a miracle-working copy of the icon to Canada that had been executed in the Archangel Michael Russian Icon Art Salon exclusively for the Orthodox Christians of North America. The director of the Blessing the Far East organization, Yuri Korsakov, and the chairman of Russian St. Innocent Society, Arkady Mukhin, supported this missionary project. The Bishop of Anchorage, Sitka, and Alaska was the first to welcome the icon on its way to Canada in his blessed land spiritually related to Russia. Then the akathist for the icon was translated into English in St. John’s Cathedral (Eagle River, Alaska). The Port Arthur Icon of the Triumph of the Theotokos began its triumphant tour across North America. Today this miracle-working copy has found its permanent home in Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, New York.

I am absolutely certain that during my journey I both physically and spiritually felt the Grace of God proceeding from the icon.

-Nikolai Fyodorov


Saint Sophia and Her Three Children Faith, Hope, and Love

17 September 12
Saint Sophia and Her Three Children Faith, Hope, and Love

Saint Sophia and Her Three Children Faith, Hope, and Love

Commemorated on September 17

The Holy Martyrs Saint Sophia and her Daughters Faith, Hope and Love were born in Italy. Their mother was a pious Christian widow who named her daughters for the three Christian virtues. Faith was twelve, Hope was ten, and Love was nine. St Sophia raised them in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. St Sophia and her daughters did not hide their faith in Christ, but openly confessed it before everyone.

An official named Antiochus denounced them to the emperor Hadrian (117-138), who ordered that they be brought to Rome. Realizing that they would be taken before the emperor, the holy virgins prayed fervently to the Lord Jesus Christ, asking that He give them the strength not to fear torture and death. When the holy virgins and their mother came before the emperor, everyone present was amazed at their composure. They looked as though they had been brought to some happy festival, rather than to torture. Summoning each of the sisters in turn, Hadrian urged them to offer sacrifice to the goddess Artemis. The young girls remained unyielding.

Then the emperor ordered them to be tortured. They burned the holy virgins over an iron grating, then threw them into a red-hot oven, and finally into a cauldron with boiling tar, but the Lord preserved them.

The youngest child, Love, was tied to a wheel and they beat her with rods until her body was covered all over with bloody welts. After undergoing unspeakable torments, the holy virgins glorified their Heavenly Bridegroom and remained steadfast in the Faith.

They subjected St Sophia to another grievous torture: the mother was forced to watch the suffering of her daughters. She displayed adamant courage, and urged her daughters to endure their torments for the sake of the Heavenly Bridegroom. All three maidens were beheaded, and joyfully bent their necks beneath the sword.

In order to intensify St Sophia’s inner suffering, the emperor permitted her to take the bodies of her daughters. She placed their remains in coffins and loaded them on a wagon. She drove beyond the city limits and reverently buried them on a high hill. St Sophia sat there by the graves of her daughters for three days, and finally she gave up her soul to the Lord. Even though she did not suffer for Christ in the flesh, she was not deprived of a martyr’s crown. Instead, she suffered in her heart. Believers buried her body there beside her daughters.

The relics of the holy martyrs have rested at El’zasa, in the church of Esho since the year 777.


Saint Edith of Wilton (+984)

16 September 12
Saint Edith of Wilton (+984)

Saint Edith of Wilton (+984)

Today we honor holy Saint Edith, an English nun of Wilton, a daughter of the 10th century King Edgar of England, born at Kemsing, Kent, in 961.

Saint Edith was the “product” of rape: the illegitimate daughter of King Edgar by Wilfrida, a woman of noble birth whom King Edgar carried off forcibly from the nunnery at Wilton Abbey. He took her to his manor house at Kemsing, where Edith was born. (Edg

ar later repented publicly.) As soon as Wilfrida could escape, she returned t
o her nunnery, taking the child Edith with her.

Little Edith was educated by the nuns of Wilton Abbey, where her mother had become abbess. In the following years Edith herself became known for her love for Jesus, her self-denial in fasting and prayer, and her Godly example. In 979, Edith dreamt that she lost her right eye and believed it was a warning of the death of her half-brother King Edward the Martyr , who in fact was murdered at that very time.

Edith was offered the crown of England by some, but she refused it. Edith built a church at Wilton. Dunstan was invited to the dedication and wept much during liturgy. Being asked the reason, he said it was because Edith would die in three weeks. And so she died on September 15th, 984, at the age of 23. Edith was greatly celebrated for her learning and her sanctity, and miracles were reported after her death.

In time, St Edith became an important national patron: twenty-one churches in England were named after her, and Wilton Abbey itself was typically described as ‘the house and church of St Edith of Wilton’ or as the ‘monastery of St Mary and St Edith of Wilton’.

Through the prayer of Saint Edith, O Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us!


Martyr Ludmilla, Grandmother of St Wenceslaus

15 September 12

Also commemorated on 16 September:

Martyr Ludmilla the grandmother of St Wenceslaus the Prince of the Czechs

Martyr Ludmilla the grandmother of St Wenceslaus the Prince of the Czechs

The Holy Martyr Ludmilla, a Czech (Bohemian) princess, was married to the Czech prince Borivoy. Both spouses received holy Baptism from St Methodius, Archbishop of Moravia and Enlightener of the Slavs (Comm. 11 May).

As Christians, they showed concerned for the enlightening of their subjects with the light of the true Faith, they built churches and invited priests to celebrate the divine services. Prince Borivoy died early at age 36. St Ludmilla, as a widow, led an austere, pious life and continued to be concerned for the Church during the reign of her son Bratislav, which lasted for 33 years.

Bratislav was married to Dragomira, with whom he had a son, Vyacheslav. After the death of Bratislav, eighteen-year-old Vyacheslav came on the throne. Taking advantage of the inexperience and youth of her son, Dragomira began to introduce pagan manners and customs in the country.

St Ludmilla, of course, opposed this. Dragomira came to hate her mother-in-law and tried to destroy her. When St Ludmilla moved away to the city of Techin, Dragomira sent two boyars in secret to murder her. St Ludmilla was praying at the time, and the two assassins entered the house and carried out Dragomira’s orders.

The relics of the holy Martyr Ludmilla was buried in Techin in the city wall. Numerous healings occurred at her grave. Prince Vyacheslav transferred the body of St Ludmilla to the city of Prague and placed it in the church of St George.


Saint EUPHEMIA the Great Martyr and All-Praised

15 September 12

Commemorated on 16 September

(NB: This saint is very special to me. We were going to give this saint’s name to Talia as a middle name. If we adopt a little girl in the future this will be her name, first or middle.)

Saint Euphemia the Great Maryr and All-Praised

Saint Euphemia the Great Maryr and All-Praised

The Holy Great Martyr Euphemia the All-Praised was the daughter of Christians, the senator Philophronos and Theodosia. She suffered for Christ in the year 304 in the city of Chalcedon, on the banks of the Bosphorus opposite Constantinople.

The Chalcedon governor Priscus circulated an order to all the inhabitants of Chalcedon and its surroundings to appear at a pagan festival to worship and offer sacrifice to an idol of Ares, threatening grave torments for anyone who failed to appear. During this impious festival, 49 Christians were hidden in one house, where they secretly attended services to the True God.

The young maiden Euphemia was also among those praying there. Soon the hiding place of the Christians was discovered, and they were brought before Priscus to answer for themselves. For nineteen days the martyrs were subjected to various tortures and torments, but none of them wavered in their faith nor consented to offer sacrifice to the idol. The governor, beside himself with rage and not knowing any other way of forcing the Christians to abandon their faith, sent them for trial to the emperor Diocletian. He kept the youngest, the virgin Euphemia, hoping that she would not remain strong if she were all alone.

St Euphemia, separated from her brethren in faith, fervently prayed the Lord Jesus Christ, that He strengthen her in her impending ordeal. Priscus at first urged the saint to recant, promising her earthly blessings, but then he gave the order to torture her.

The martyr was tied to a wheel with sharp knives, which cut her body. The saint prayed aloud, and as it happened, the wheel stopped by itself and would not move even with all the efforts of the executioners. An angel of the Lord, came down from Heaven, removed Euphemia from the wheel and healed her of her wounds. The saint gave thanks unto the Lord with gladness.

Not perceiving the miracle that had occurred, the torturer ordered the soldiers Victor and Sosthenes to take the saint to a red-hot oven. But the soldiers, seeing two fearsome angels in the midst of the flames, refused to carry out the order of the governor and became believers in the God Whom Euphemia worshipped. Boldly proclaiming that they too were Christians, Victor and Sosthenes bravely went to suffering. They were sent to be eaten by wild beasts. During their execution, they cried out for mercy to God, asking that the Lord would receive them into the Heavenly Kingdom. A heavenly Voice answered their cries, and they entered into eternal life. The beasts, however, did not even touch their bodies.

St Euphemia, castinto the fire by other soldiers, remained unharmed. With the help of God she emerged unharmed after many other tortures and torments. Ascribing this to sorcery, the governor gave orders to dig out a new pit, and filling it with knives, he had it covered over with earth and grass, so that the martyr would not notice the preparation for her execution.

Here also St Euphemia remained safe, easily passing over the pit. Finally, they sentenced her to be devoured by wild beasts at the circus. Before execution the saint began to implore that the Lord deem her worthy to die a violent death. But none of the beasts, set loose at her in the arena, attacked her. Finally, one of the she-bears gave her a small wound on the leg, from which came blood, and immediately the holy Great Martyr Euphemia died. During this time there was an earthquake, and both the guards and the spectators ran in terror, so that the parents of the saint were able to take up her body and reverently bury it not far from Chalcedon.

A majestic church was afterwards built over the grave of the Great Martyr Euphemia. At this temple the sessions of the Fourth Ecumenical Council took place in the year 451. At that time, the holy Great Martyr Euphemia confirmed the Orthodox confession in a miraculous manner, and exposed the Monophysite heresy. Details of this miracle are related under July 11.

With the taking of Chalcedon by the Persians in the year 617, the relics of the holy Great Martyr Euphemia were transferred to Constantinople (in about the year 620). During the Iconoclast heresy, the reliquary with the relics of St Euphemia appears to have been thrown into the sea. Pious sailors recovered them. They were afterwards taken to the Island of Lemnos, and in the year 796 they were returned to Constantinople.

Troparion – Tone 4

Your lamb Euphemia calls out to You, O Jesus, in a loud voice:
“I love You, my Bridegroom, and in seeking You I endure suffering.
In baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in You,
and I died so that I might live with You.
Accept me as a pure sacrifice,
for I have offered myself in love.”
Through her prayers save our souls, since You are merciful!

Kontakion – Tone 4

You completed your struggle well, all-praised Euphemia;
even after death, you pour out healing on us for our sanctification.
We stand beside your venerable relics
to honor your holy falling asleep,
that in faith we may be delivered from the weaknesses of our nature
and to obtain the grace of your miracles.