FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Seven Holy Youths of Ephesus
Τῶν Ἁγίων ἑπτά παίδων τῶν ἐν Ἐφέσῳ.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans 14:6-9
BRETHREN, he who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. He also who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; while he who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord, and gives thanks to God. None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
Πρὸς ῾Ρωμαίους 14:6-9
Ἀδελφοί, ὁ φρονῶν τὴν ἡμέραν, κυρίῳ φρονεῖ· καὶ ὁ μὴ φρονῶν τὴν ἡμέραν, κυρίῳ οὐ φρονεῖ. Καὶ ὁ ἐσθίων κυρίῳ ἐσθίει, εὐχαριστεῖ γὰρ τῷ θεῷ· καὶ ὁ μὴ ἐσθίων κυρίῳ οὐκ ἐσθίει, καὶ εὐχαριστεῖ τῷ θεῷ. Οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἑαυτῷ ζῇ, καὶ οὐδεὶς ἑαυτῷ ἀποθνῄσκει. Ἐάν τε γὰρ ζῶμεν, τῷ κυρίῳ ζῶμεν· ἐάν τε ἀποθνῄσκωμεν, τῷ κυρίῳ ἀποθνῄσκομεν· ἐάν τε οὖν ζῶμεν, ἐάν τε ἀποθνῄσκωμεν, τοῦ κυρίου ἐσμέν. Εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ Χριστὸς καὶ ἀπέθανεν καὶ ἀνέστη καὶ ἔζησεν, ἵνα καὶ νεκρῶν καὶ ζώντων κυριεύσῃ.
The Reading is from Matthew 15:32-39
At that time, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way." And the disciples said to him, "Where are we to get bread enough in the desert to feed so great a crowd?" And Jesus said to them, "How many loaves have you?" They said, "Seven, and a few small fish." And commanding the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.
Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 15.32-39
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, προσκαλεσάμενος ῾Ο᾿Ιησοῦς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ εἶπε· σπλαγχνίζομαι ἐπὶ τὸν ὄχλον, ὅτι ἤδη ἡμέραι τρεῖς προσμένουσί μοι καὶ οὐκ ἔχουσι τί φάγωσι· καὶ ἀπολῦσαι αὐτοὺς νήστεις οὐ θέλω, μήποτε ἐκλυθῶσιν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ.καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ· πόθεν ἡμῖν ἐν ἐρημίᾳ ἄρτοι τοσοῦτοι ὥστε χορτάσαι ὄχλον τοσοῦτον;καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· πόσους ἄρτους ἔχετε; οἱ δὲ εἶπον· ἑπτά, καὶ ὀλίγα ἰχθύδια.καὶ ἐκέλευσε τοῖς ὄχλοις ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν.καὶ λαβὼν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς ἰχθύας, εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασε καὶ ἔδωκε τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ, οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις.καὶ ἔφαγον πάντες καὶ ἐχορτάσθησαν, καὶ ἦραν τὸ περισσεῦον τῶν κλασμάτων ἑπτὰ σπυρίδας πλήρεις·οἱ δὲ ἐσθίοντες ἦσαν τετρακισχίλιοι ἄνδρες χωρὶς γυναικῶν καὶ παιδίων.καὶ ἀπολύσας τοὺς ὄχλους ἀνέβη εἰς τὸ πλοῖον καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς τὰ ὅρια Μαγδαλά.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων ἑπτὰ Παίδων τῶν ἐν Ἐφέσῳ, Μαξιμιλιανοῦ, Ἑκουστωδιανοῦ, Ἰαμβλίχου, Μαρτινιανοῦ, Διονυσίου, Ἰωάννου καὶ Κωνσταντίνου.
Τὸν ἑπτάριθμον τιμῶ χορὸν Μαρτύρων,
Δείξαντα Ἀνάστασιν νεκρῶν τῷ κόσμῳ
Τῇ δὲ τετάρτῃ νεκροέγερτοι ξύνθανον ἑπτά.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῆς ἀνακομιδῆς τῶν λειψάνων τῆς ὁσίας μητρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ Μάρτυρος Εὐδοκίας.
Ὀσμὴ! τὶ τοῦτο; Σῶμα τῆς Εὐδοκίας,
Ἀθλητικῶν ἀπόζον ἥκει χαρίτων.
Πότνια Εὐδοκίη, νεκρὰ ἤχθη ἀμφὶ τετάρτην.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Μάρτυς Θαθουήλ, ἐν μηλέᾳ κρεμασθεὶς τελειοῦται.
Θνῇσκε κρεμασθείς, Θαθουήλ, ἐν μηλέᾳ,
Ὡς ἂν τρυγήσῃς τῆς Ἐδὲμ μῆλα ξένα.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῆς Ἁγίας Μάρτυρος Ἴας καὶ τῶν σὺν αὐτῇ.
Ὀσμὴν ἴων ἔπνευσεν ἡ Μάρτυς Ἴα,
Ἐρυθροβαφῶν αἱμάτων ἀτμοπνόων.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
The Seven Youths hid themselves in a certain cave near Ephesus in the year 250, to escape the persecution of Decius. By divine grace, a sleep came upon them and they slept for 184 years, until the reign of Saint Theodosius the Younger, when the doctrine of the resurrection was being assailed by heretics. They then awoke, that is, were resurrected, confirming in the sight of all the bodily resurrection; and again after a short time, by divine command, they reposed in the Lord in the year 434.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Οι Μάρτυρές σου, Κύριε, εν τή αθλήσει αυτών, στεφάνους εκομίσαντο τής αφθαρσίας, εκ σού τού Θεού ημών, σχόντες γάρ τήν ισχύν σου, τούς τυράννους καθείλον, έθραυσαν καί δαιμόνων, τά ανίσχυρα θράση. Αυτών ταίς ικεσίαις, Χριστέ ο Θεός, σώσον τάς ψυχάς ημών.
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Οί τά τού κόσμου ως φθαρτά παριδόντες, καί τάς αφθάρτους δωρεάς ειληφότες, διαφθοράς διέμειναν θανόντες παρεκτός, όθεν εξανίστανται, μετά πλείονας χρόνους, άπασαν ενθάψαντες, δυσμενών απιστίαν, ούς εν αινέσει σήμερον πιστοί, ανευφημούντες, Χριστόν ανυμνήσωμεν.
They that scorned all things in the world as corrupted and found the gifts that nothing ever corrupteth, behold, they died, and yet corruption touched them not. Wherefore after many years once again they all rose up, burying all unbelief of malicious revilers. Ye faithful, let us laud the seven youths with hymns of praise on this day, while extolling Christ.
Πολλά πράγματα στην Αγία Γραφή και την Ιστορία της Εκκλησίας φαίνονται απίστευτα· τόσο είν' ασυνήθιστα και πρωτάκουστα. Ο πιστός όμως άνθρωπος ξεκινάει από τη σκέψη πως τίποτα δεν είναι αδύνατο στον Θεό για το συμφέρον των ανθρώπων. Γιατί έτσι πρέπει να πιστεύουμε, πως ο Θεός δηλαδή δεν θαυματουργεί στην τύχη, μα όταν πρόκειται να ωφεληθούν οι άνθρωποι. Η αγάπη του Θεού προς τον άνθρωπο κινεί την παντοδυναμία του σε θαυματουργία. Αν πρόκειται λοιπόν να ωφεληθή ο άνθρωπος, τίποτα δεν είναι αδύνατο στον Θεό· είναι τόσο εύκολα σ'αυτόν τα έργα, όσο στους ανθρώπους ο λόγος. Κι ακόμη περισσότερο· ούτε βάζει ο άνθρωπος στο λογισμό του τι μπορεί να κάμη ο Θεός. Έτσι απίστευτο μας φαίνεται το θαύμα των επτά παίδων στην Έφεσο, που κοιμήθηκαν και ξύπνησαν έπειτα από εκατόν ενενηντατέσσερα χρόνια, και γιορτάζομε σήμερα την μνήμη τους. "Πάντα δυνατά παρά τω Θεώ έστι".
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Ἑπτὰ Παῖδες ἐν Ἐφέσῳ Μαξιμιλιανός, Ἐξακουστοδιανός, Ἰαμβιλίχος, Μαρτινιανός, Διονύσιος, Ἀντωνῖνος (κατ᾿ ἄλλους Ἰωάννης) καὶ Κωνσταντῖνος
Στὰ μέσα τοῦ 3ου αἰῶνα μ.Χ., ὅταν ὁ αὐτοκράτωρ Δέκιος ἄναψε τὸ καμίνι τῶν διωγμῶν καὶ χωρὶς καμιὰ διάκριση βασάνιζε καὶ σκότωνε νέους καὶ γέρους, τότε καὶ ἑπτὰ παῖδες, Μαξιμιλιανός, Ἐξακουστοδιανός, Ἰαμβιλίχος, Μαρτινιανός, Διονύσιος, Ἀντωνῖνος καὶ Κωνσταντῖνος, γιὰ νὰ μὴν ἀρνηθοῦν τὴν πίστη τους, ἀφοῦ διαμοίρασαν τὰ ὑπάρχοντά τους στοὺς φτωχούς, ἔφυγαν ἀπὸ τὴν πόλη καὶ κρύφτηκαν σὲ κάποια σπηλιά, μέχρι νὰ πάψει ὁ διωγμός. Ἐπειδή, ὅμως, ὁ κίνδυνος ὁλοένα καὶ πλησίαζε στὴν κρυψῶνα τους, προσευχήθηκαν ὅλη τὴν νύκτα νὰ πάρει ὁ Θεὸς τὶς ψυχές τους, χωρὶς νὰ πέσουν στὰ χέρια τοῦ Δεκίου. Ὁ Θεὸς ἄκουσε τὴν δέησή τους, καὶ τὸ πρωὶ κοιμήθηκαν χωρὶς νὰ ξυπνήσουν. Μετὰ 194 χρόνια, ἐπὶ Θεοδοσίου τοῦ Μικροῦ, στὴν Ἔφεσο κάποια αἵρεση διακήρυττε ὅτι δὲν ὑπάρχει ἀνάσταση νεκρῶν. Ἐκείνη, λοιπόν, τὴν ἐποχή, κάποιο παιδὶ στὴν ἀγορὰ τῆς Ἐφέσου ψώνισε ψωμὶ μὲ τὸ νόμισμα τῆς ἐποχῆς τοῦ Δεκίου. Αὐτὸ προκάλεσε ἔκπληξη. Πῆραν, λοιπὸν τὸ παιδὶ καὶ τὸ ἀνέκριναν. Κατόπιν, πῆγαν στὴ σπηλιὰ καὶ βρῆκαν ζωντανὰ καὶ τὰ ὑπόλοιπα παιδιά. Τότε ὅλοι κατάλαβαν ὅτι εἶναι θαῦμα Θεοῦ, γιὰ νὰ ἀποδειχθεῖ ὅτι «ἀνάστασιν μέλλειν ἔσεσθαι νεκρῶν, δικαίων τε καὶ ἀδίκων». Δηλαδή, ὅτι μέλλει νὰ γίνει ἀνάσταση νεκρῶν, καὶ τῶν δικαίων καὶ τῶν ἀδίκων.
Ἡ Ὁσία Εὐδοκία καὶ ἡ ἀνακομιδὴ τῶν λειψάνων της
Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὰ μέρη τῆς Ἀνατολῆς. Σὲ μία ὅμως ἐκστρατεία τους οἱ Πέρσες αἰχμαλώτισαν καὶ αὐτὴν καὶ τὴν μετέφεραν στὴν Περσία. Ἐκεῖ ὑποχρεώθηκε νὰ ὑπηρετεῖ τὴν οἰκογένεια ἑνὸς ἀξιωματικοῦ. Ἡ ζωὴ αὐτὴ δὲν δυσαρέστησε τὴν Εὐδοκία. Πίστευε ὅτι παντοῦ, ὅπου κι ἂν τύχουμε, μποροῦμε νὰ ἔχουμε μεγάλη ἀποστολὴ ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἔργου τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ τῆς ὠφελείας τοῦ πλησίον μας. Ἔτσι, εὐπειθής, πρόθυμη καὶ διακριτικὴ καθὼς ἦταν, ἀλλὰ καὶ μὲ πολλὴ φρόνηση καὶ λεπτότητα, κατάφερε αὐτὴ ἡ αἰχμάλωτη νὰ αἰχμαλωτίσει τοὺς κυρίους της. Τὴν ἀγάπησαν ὅλοι καὶ ἔγιναν χριστιανοί. Κατόπιν, μὲ πυρῆνα τὸ σπίτι τοῦ ἀξιωματικοῦ, κατάφεραν νὰ ἐκχριστιανίσουν πολλὲς Περσίδες καὶ Πέρσες. Τὰ γεγονότα ὅμως αὐτὰ ἔφτασαν στ᾿ αὐτιὰ τῶν ἀρχόντων, ποὺ ἐξοργισμένοι συνέλαβαν τὴν Εὐδοκία καὶ τὴν μαστίγωσαν ἀλύπητα. Ἔτσι πληγωμένη τὴν ἔριξαν στὴ φυλακή. Ἀλλὰ μετὰ δυὸ μῆνες τὴν ἔβγαλαν, ἔσχισαν τὶς σάρκες της μὲ ἀκανθωτὰ ραβδιά, τρύπησαν τὸ σῶμα της μὲ μυτερὰ καλάμια καὶ κατόπιν ἕσφιξαν τόσο τὸ σῶμα της μὲ σχοινιά, ὥστε πολλὰ κόκκαλά της ἔσπασαν. Ἀλλ᾿ ἐπειδὴ ἡ Εὐδοκία μὲ γενναῖο φρόνημα ἐξακολουθοῦσε νὰ ὁμολογεῖ τὸν Χριστό, τὴν ἀποκεφάλισαν, γιὰ νά λάβει ἔτσι τὸ ἀμάραντο στεφάνι τοῦ μαρτυρίου. Ὁ Σ. Εὐστρατιάδης ὅμως, ἔχει ἄλλη ἄποψη γιὰ τὸ Συναξάρι αὐτὸ καὶ λέει τὰ ἑξῆς: «Ἐν τῷ Συναξαριστῇ τοῦ Νικοδήμου γίνεται σύγχυσις τῆς ἀνακομιδῆς τῶν λειψάνων τῆς μάρτυρος ταύτης, τῆς ἑορταζόμενης τὴν 1η Μαρτίου, πρὸς ἄλλην ὁμώνυμον μάρτυρα τῆς 4ης Αὐγούστου, ὅτι περὶ τῆς ἀνωτέρω πρώην πόρνης καὶ εἶτα ὁσιομάρτυρος Εὐδοκίας ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀνακομιδῆς, μαρτυρεῖ ὁ ἀρχαῖος Παρισινὸς Κῶδιξ 13, ὅστις ἐν φ. 356α περὶ τῆς ἑορτῆς τῶν ἐν Ἐφέσῳ ἑπτὰ παίδων καὶ τῆς ἀνωτέρω μάρτυρος Εὐδοκίας ταῦτα σημειοῖ: Ἴστεον ὅτι τινὰ τῶν Τυπικῶν κατὰ ταύτην τὴν ἡμέραν (ἤγουν τὴν 4ην Αὐγούστου) ἑορτάζουσι τοὺς ἁγίους τούτους (ἑπτὰ παίδας)· ἕτερα δὲ κατὰ τὴν β´ ἡμέραν τοῦ μηνός· κατὰ δὲ ταύτην τὴν ἁγίαν ὁσιομάρτυρα Εὐδοκίαν, ἣς ἀκολουθία ψάλλεται τὴν α´ τοῦ Μαρτίου μηνός, εἶγε ἐστὶν αὕτη καὶ οὐχ ἑτέρα· ἐπεὶ ἡ τῆς μάρτυρος ἀκολουθία ταύτην εἶναι παρίστησιν ἡμεῖς δὲ τῷ πλείονι τῶν ψήφων νικώμενοι, ἐνταῦθα τοὺς ἁγίους ἑπτὰ παίδας τεθείκαμεν ἐναπομένει δὲ εἰς τὴν διάκρισιν». Πράγματι δὲ ἡ εἰς τὴν ἁγίαν Εὐδοκίαν ἀκολουθία τῆς ἀνακομιδῆς τῶν λειψάνων, ἡ σωζόμενη εἰς τοὺς Λαυριωτικοὺς Κώδικας Δ 17 φ. 31 καὶ Δ 14 καὶ εἰς τὸν Παρισινὸν 1575 φ. 186α τοῦ Θεοφάνους ποίημα, ἀναφέρεται εἰς τὴν πρώην πόρνην Εὐδοκίαν (της 1ης Μαρτίου) καὶ οὐχὶ εἰς τὴν ἀνωτέρω τῆς 4ης Αὐγούστου, ἣς τὴν μνήμην καὶ τὴν ἀνακομιδὴν συγχρόνως ἀναγράφει ὁ Νικόδημος. Φρονῶ, ὅτι ἡ Εὐδοκία αὐτὴ τοῦ Νικόδημου εἶναι φανταστικὸν πρόσωπον, ἐκλαμβανόμενη ἀντὶ τῆς μάρτυρος Ἴας, τὴν ὁποίαν πολλοὶ Συναξαρισταὶ κατὰ τὴν ἡμέραν ταύτην σημειοῦσιν, ἥτις ἔχει καὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ἀπαραλλάκτως ὑπόμνημα· φαίνεται ὅτι ὁ ἀντιγραφεὺς τὸ ὄνομα Ἴα ἐθεώρησε ἀκέφαλον καὶ συνεπλήρωσε αὐτὸ διὰ τῆς προσθήκης τῶν πέντε πρώτων γραμμάτων Εὐδοκ. Ἢ τὸ καὶ πιθανότερον ἐπειδὴ κατὰ τὴν ἡμέραν ταύτην μνεία γίνεται τοῦ ὀνόματος τῆς Εὐδοκίας διὰ τὴν ἀνακομιδὴν αὐτῆς, καὶ μνεία τῆς μάρτυρος Ἴας, τὸ συναξάριον τῆς τελευταίας ταύτης ἀπεδόθη ἐκ συγχύσεως εἰς τὴν Εὐδοκίαν καὶ οὕτω προῆλθε νέα μάρτυς ἀνύπαρκτος Εὐδοκία· διότι δὲν ἐξηγεῖται ἄλλως τὸ κοινὸν Συναξάριον τῆς Ἴας τῶν Συναξαριστῶν καὶ τῆς Εὐδοκίας τοῦ Νικόδημου. (Πρβλ. Συναξαριστὴν Delehaye, σ. 868, 38 καὶ Νικόδημου, σ. 235-236, Ἀπριλίου 4).
Holy Seven Youths (the "Seven Sleepers") of Ephesus (250 & 5th c.)
During a persecution of Christians under the Emperor Decius, these seven Christian youths hid themselves in a cave outside Ephesus. When they were discovered, their persecutors sealed them in the cave to die; but God instead sent them a miraculous, life-preserving sleep. There they rested for about two hundred years. In the time of the Emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450), a heresy that denied the bodily Resurrection of the dead began to trouble the people. The Emperor prayed God to reveal the truth to the people. At this time, some shepherds removed the stones blocking the cave in order to build a sheep-pen. They discovered the seven youths, who awoke in full health and told their miraculous story. The miracle was told throughout the empire, and the Emperor himself came to Ephesus and spoke with the youths. A week later, they again fell asleep, this time in death.
New Hieromartyr Cosmas of Aitolia (1779)
See his main commemoration, August 24
Repose of Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh (2003) (July 22 OC)
The Seven Youths of Ephesus: Maximilian, Iamblichus, Martinian, John, Dionysius, Eksacustodianus (Constantine) and Antoninus, lived in the III Century. Saint Maximilian was the son of the Ephesus city administrator, and the other six youths -- were sons of other illustrious Ephesus citizens. The youths were friends from childhood, and all were together in military service. When the emperor Decius (249-251) arrived in Ephesus, he commanded all the citizenry to appear for offering sacrifice to the pagan gods; torture and death by execution awaited the recalcitrant. By denunciation from those currying the emperor's favour, the seven youths of Ephesus were summoned to reply to the charges. Standing before the emperor, the seven youths confessed their faith in Christ. Their illustrious military decorations -- the military sashes -- were quickly taken from them. Decius however set them at liberty, hoping, that they would change their minds while he was away on military campaign. The youths fled from the city and hid in a cave on Mount Okhlonos, where they passed the time at prayer, preparing for the deed of martyrdom. The very youngest of them -- Saint Iamblichus, having clothed himself in beggar's attire, went into the city and bought bread. In one of these journeys into the city he heard, that the emperor had returned and sought them, so as to bring them to trial. Saint Maximilian exhorted his companions to come out of the cave and bravely appear at trial. Having learned where the lads were hidden, the emperor gave orders to seal the entrance of the cave with stones, so that the lads would perish in it from hunger and thirst. Two of the dignitaries, coming before the walled-up entrance to the cave, were secret christians. Wanting to preserve the memory of the saints, they set in among the stones a sealed container, in which were located two tin sheaves. On them were inscribed the names of the seven youths and the details of their suffering and death.
But the Lord brought upon the youths a miraculous sleep, continuing almost two centuries. During this while the persecutions against Christians had ceased, although during the reign of the holy nobleborn emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450) there had appeared heretics who rejected the belief in the Resurrection of the Dead at the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some of them said: "How can there be a resurrection of the dead, when there would be neither soul, nor body, since they are disintegrated?" Others affirmed: "Only the souls alone would have a restoration, since it would be impossible for bodies to arise and live after a thousand years, when even the dust from them would not remain". The Lord therefore revealed the mystery of the awaited Resurrection of the Dead and of the Future Life also through His seven youths.
The master of that region of land, on which Mount Okhlonos was situated, discovered the stone construction, and his workers opened up the entrance to the cave. The Lord had kept alive the youths, and they as it were awoke from their habitual sleep, not suspecting, that almost 200 years had elapsed. Their bodies and clothing were completely undecayed. Preparing to accept torture, the youths entrusted to Saint Iamblichus yet once again to buy bread for them in the city to keep up their strength. Going towards the city, the youth was astonished, seeing the holy cross on the gates. And hearing the freely uttered Name of Jesus Christ, he began to doubt that he was approaching his own city. Praying for the bread, the youth gave the merchant money with the image of the emperor Decius on it, and he was detained, as one possibly concealing an horde of old money. They took Saint Iamblichus to the city administrator, who at this time happened to be the bishop of Ephesus. Hearing the bewildering answers of the youth, the bishop perceived, that God was revealing through him some sort of mystery, and set out himself with other people to the cave. At the entrance to the cave the bishop took out the sealed container and opened it. He read upon the tin sheaves the names of the seven youths and the details of the sealing-up of the cave on the orders of the emperor Decius. Going into the cave and seeing the youths alive, everyone rejoiced and perceived that the Lord, through their awakening from long sleep, was disclosing to the Church the mystery of the Resurrection of the Dead. Soon the emperor himself arrived in Ephesus and conversed with the youths in the cave. Then the holy youths in view of everyone lay down their heads upon the ground and again fell asleep, this time until the General Resurrection. The emperor wanted to place each of the youths into a jeweled coffin, but appearing to him in a dream, the holy youths said, that their bodies were to be left in the cave upon the ground. In the XII Century the Russian pilgrim the hegumen Daniel saw in the cave these holy remains of the seven youths.
A second commemoration of the seven youths is celebrated on 22 October. (By one tradition, which entered into the Russian Prologue [of Saints Lives], the youths a second time fell asleep on this day; according to the notes of the Greek Menaion of 1870, they fell asleep first on 4 August, and woke up on 22 October. The holy youths are mentioned also in the service of the Church New Year -- 1 September).
The Holy Nun-Martyress Eudokia was an illustrious Roman, living in the IV Century. The army of the Persian emperor Sapor took her into captivity amidst 9,000 Christians. Being in captivity, the saint preached among the Persian women and converted many of them to Christianity. For this she was subjected to lengthy and fierce tortures and then beheaded (+ c. 362-264).
The Holy Martyr Eleutherius served as the cubicularius (bed-chamberlain) at the court of the emperor Maximian Hercules (284-305). When he accepted Christianity, he then settled on a country estate, and built a church at his home. One of the servants reported to the emperor, that Eleutherius had become a Christian. The emperor ordered the saint to offer pagan sacrifice. The saint refused and for this he was beheaded. The relics of Saint Eleutherius were situated at Constantinople, and afterwards transferred to Italy, in the city of Theato.
The Equal-to-the-Apostles Priest-Martyr Kosma, in the world Constantine, was a native of Aetolia. He studied at first under the guidance of the archdeacon Ananios Dervitian, and afterwards continued his education on Holy Mount Athos, at the Batopedia school of such reknown for the time teachers as Nicholas Tsartsulis (from Mezova) and Evgenii Bulgaris (afterwards in the years 1775-1779 the archbishop of Ekaterinoslav and the Chersonessus).
Remaining on Athos at the Philotheia monastery to persevere at spiritual labours, he took vows there into the monastic order with the name Kosma, and later was ordained priestmonk. The yearning to guide upon the way of salvation and strengthen the faith of his brother-Christians impelled Saint Kosma to seek the blessing of his spiritual fathers and go to Constantinople. There he mastered the art of eloquent-speaking and, having received the written permission of Patriarch Seraphim II (and later from his successor Sophronias) to preach the Holy Gospel, he began to proclaim it at first in the churches of Constantinople and the surrounding villages, then in the Danubian principalities, in Thessalonika, in Berrheia, in Macedonia, Chimara, Akarnania, Aetolia, on the islands of Saint Maura, Kephalonia and other places. His preaching, filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, -- plain, tranquil and gentle, brought Christians great spiritual benefit. Just as for His holy Apostles, the Lord Himself assisted him and affirmed his words with signs and miracles. Preaching in Albania, in those distant area of it, where Christian piety was almost lost amidst the rough and coarse people entrenched in sin, Saint Kosma led them with the Word of God to sincere repentance and improvement.
Under his guidance church schools were opened in the villages. The rich offered their means for the betterment of the churches, for the purchase of Holy Books (which the saint distributed to the literate), veils (which he gave women, admonishing them to come with veiled heads), rosaries and crosses (which he distributed to the common folk). Since the churches could not accommodate everyone wanting to hear the wise preacher, Saint Kosma with an assemblage of priests made the vigil in the fields, and in city-squares, where thousands of people prayed for the living and for the dead and were edified by his preaching. And everywhere, where Saint Kosma halted and preached, the grateful listeners erected a large wooden cross, which remained thereafter in memory of this.
The apostolic service of Saint Kosma was brought to a close by a martyr's death in the year 1779. At 65 years of age, he was seized by the Turks and strangled. His body was thrown into a river and after three days was found by a priest Mark and given burial near the village of Kalikontasa at the Ardebuzia monastery of the Entrance into the Temple of the MostHoly Mother of God. Afterwards part of his relics were transferred for blessing at various places.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE SEVEN HOLY YOUTHS OF EPHESUS
There was a great persecution of Christians during the reign of Decius. The emperor himself came to Ephesus and there arranged a boisterous and noisy celebration in honor of the lifeless idols as well as a terrible slaughter of Christians. Seven young men, soldiers, refrained from the impure offering of sacrifices and they earnestly prayed to the one God to save the Christian people. They were the sons of the most influential elders of Ephesus and their names were Maximilian, Jamblichus, Martin [Martinian], John, Dionysius, Exacustodianus, and Antonin [Antoninus]. When they were accused before the emperor, they retreated to a hill outside Ephesus called Celion and there they hid in a cave. When the emperor learned of this, he commanded that the cave be sealed off. However, God according to His far-reaching Providence caused a miraculous and long-lasting sleep to fall upon the young men. The imperial courtiers, Theodore and Rufinus, secret Christians, built in that wall a copper sarcophagus with lead plaques on which were written the names of these young men and their martyr's death during the reign of Emperor Decius. More than two hundred years then passed. During the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450 A.D.), there was a great dispute about the resurrection. There were some that doubted the resurrection. Emperor Theodosius was in great sorrow as a result of this dispute among the faithful and prayed to God that He, in some way, would reveal the truth to men. At that time of turmoil in the Church some sheepherders of Adolius, who owned the hill Celion began to build folds for the sheep and removed stone after stone from that cave. The youths then awakened from their sleep young and healthy, the same as when they fell asleep. The news of this miracle was spread abroad on all sides so that even Theodosius himself came with a great entourage and with delight conversed with the youths. After a week, they again fell into the sleep of death to await the general resurrection. Emperor Theodosius wanted to place their bodies in gold sarcophagi but they appeared to him in a dream and told him to leave them in the earth as they were laid out.
2. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR COSMAS, "EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES"
Cosmas was born in Aitolia in the village of Megadendron (Large Tree). As a young man he went to Mount Athos where he was tonsured a monk in the monastery Philotheus. However, driven by a constant desire to preach the Holy Gospel to the people, Cosmas went to Constantinople where he implored the blessing of Patriarch Seraphim II. He visited the regions of the Danube preaching the Good News but remained mostly in Albania where he suffered at the hands of Kurt Pasha whom the Jews incited against Cosmas. The Turks strangled Cosmas and his body was tossed into the river in the year 1779 A.D. His miracle-working relics repose in the village of Kalikontasi in the church of the Holy Theotokos not far from the town of Berat. Cosmas suffered for his Lord in the sixty-fifth year of his life.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE SEVEN HOLY YOUTHS OF EPHESUS
When the last rays of the sun turned the west bloody red,
Seven Youths, to God prayed,
That, on the morrow again find themselves alive and healthy,
Before Emperor Decius, brought forth to torture
And lay down to sleep a long dream a deep dream,
Time walked by a wide step
One morning, from the east, the sun dawned
And the Seven from their deep sleep awakened.
And Jamblichus the youngest, to Ephesus hurried
To see, to hear, about everything he inquired
Does Decius, even them, seek to slaughter
And bread to buy for the Seven of them.
But behold, what kind of miracle: this is not the gate!
And even the town is totally different!
Everywhere, beautiful churches, domes, crosses,
Jamblichus asks himself: are those not dreams?
Nowhere a familiar face, nowhere kinsmen,
There are no persecutions; there are no martyrs.
Tell me brethren, the name of this town,
And tell me the name of the emperor, who now reigns?
Thus Jamblichus inquires. The people, at him, look,
And about him, everyone judges differently.
This town is Ephesus, now and before,
In Christ, reigns Emperor Theodosius
This Antipater [The Consul] heard and [Martin] the graying bishop,
The entire town was perplexed,
Everyone, to the cave hurries.
And saw the miracle, glorified God,
And the resurrected servants of Christ the Resurrected One.
"Ask and it shall be given to you," said the Lord (St. Matthew 7:7). As parents give to their children all that the children ask and all that is for their benefit, so does God, the Lover of Mankind, give to men all that men ask of God and what serves to their salvation. As a monk on Mt. Athos, Cosmas asked two things of God: to preach the Gospel to the people and to suffer as a martyr for the Faith. For an Athonite monk, who is bound by vows to his monastery, these two desires seem unattainable and unrealistic. But to God, everything is possible. God perfectly fulfilled both desires of Cosmas. The joy of Cosmas was indescribable when he received the blessing of the patriarch that he could leave Mt. Athos and go among the people to preach the Good News. Cosmas had one more similar moment of joy and, that was when the servants of the Turkish Pasha informed him that, according to the command of the Pasha, he must die.
Full of joy, the saint sank to his knees, gave thanks to God that He fulfilled even this desire and gave up his body to death and his soul to the Living God.
To contemplate the miraculous announcement of the birth of Samson (Judges 13):
1. How an angel of God appeared to Manoah and his barren wife and announced that his wife will give birth to a son, who will deliver the people from slavery;
2. How for this, Manoah offered a sacrifice to God and an angel, in the flame of the sacrifice, ascended to heaven;
3. How even a barren woman can give birth when God wills it.
About the sickness of apostasy
"The whole head is sick and the whole heart faint" (Isaiah1:5).
Brethren, God, the God of Sabaoth, is the source of health. Go out to the heights of God, you whose heads are troubled by superfluous works and still more by superfluous concerns and be imbued with health which comes from God, only from God. A sick head those are the leaders and the elders of the people and a faint heart- those are the people. The prophet presents an entire people as one body and shows how even with the body of a people, the same thing happens as with body of a man, i.e., when one organ of the body is sick, then only that organ is sick, but from the sickness of this one organ, the entire body feels faint. So it was with the people of Israel: the head was sick and from a sick head, the heart is faint. The leaders and the elders of Israel abandoned the law of God and followed their senses as their guides. Their sensual mind, tarnished, overly tarnished from the various worldly influences, they took as their direction for a correct life instead of the law of God. They fell into the hopeless darkness of idolatrous errors. And from the insanity of the head, the heart was faint. It is more difficult for the heart to separate from God than it is for the head, it is more difficult for a people to separate from God than their elders, but when the head remains sick for a long time, than the heart is faint and yields. From corrupt leaders, even a people finally stray from the path.
This is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the true prophet. Indeed, a true vision, both for then and for now, for the people of Israel and for the people of today. Brethren, look at the people whom you know best and you alone judge, is the head sick and is the heart faint? O Lord, true and just, enlighten the head of every people with Your light and strengthen with Your might the heart of every people, so that our enemies will not rejoice and say that You have abandoned us.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.