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1. The Holy Martyrs Thyrsus, Leucius and Callinicus.

Saints Thyrsus and Leucius were eminent citizens of Bithynian Caesarea; the latter being baptised and the former still a catechumen. Callinicus, however, was a pagan priest who offered sacrifice to idols. When Cumbricius, heir to the Emperor Decius, began to torture and murder the Christians, the intrepid Leucius stood before him and reproached him: 'Why have you begun to make war on your own soul, Cumbricius?' The enraged judge ordered that he be flogged and tortured, and then beheaded with the sword. In terrible torment, Leucius went to his execution as joyfully as if he were going to a wedding. When he beheld Leucius's courageous death, blessed Thyrsus was inflamed with divine zeal and, like Leucius, went before the judge and rebuked him for his crimes and his lack of belief in the one, true God. He was therefore beaten and cast into prison. He was healed of his wounds by the invisible hand of God, which also opened the prison doors and led him forth. Thyrsus went at once to Phileas, the Bishop of Caesarea, to be baptised by him. After his baptism, he was again seized and tortured, but he endured all the torments as if in a dream and not in reality. Many idols fell down through the power of his prayer. When he saw this, Callinicus, a pagan priest, was converted to the Christian faith, so both he and Thyrsus were condemned to death. Callinicus was beheaded with the sword, and Thyrsus was placed in a wooden coffin to be sawn asunder, but God's power prevented this and the saw could not penetrate the wood. Then Thyrsus arose from the coffin, praying and thanking God for his sufferings, and he peacefully gave his soul into the Lord's hands. At the end of the fourth century, the Emperor Flavian built a church to St Thyrsus near Constantinople, and placed his holy relics in it. The saint appeared in a vision to the Empress Pulcheria, and suggested that she bury the relics of the Forty Martyrs beside his own.

2. The Holy Martyrs Philemon, Apollonius, Arrian and others.

During the reign of Diocletian, Arrian, a judge in Egypt, cruelly persecuted the Christians there. He seized Apollonius and threatened him with torture. Apollonius became afraid of the tortures, and bribed an unknown musician, Philemon, a pagan, to offer sacrifice to the idols in his place, dressed in his clothes. When Philemon went before the idols, the light of the Christian faith suddenly shone in his heart, and he made the sign of the Cross. He then went out of the temple and began to shout: 'I am a Christian, a servant of Christ the living God!' Hearing this, the judge laughed, thinking that Philemon was mocking the Christians. Later, Philemon was subjected to fearful tortures, during which rain fell from heaven to baptise him. Finally, both Philemon and Apollonius were beheaded by Arrian the judge. Then Arrian himself became a Christian, because his blind eye was healed in a miraculous way at Philemon's grave. He was condemned to death by the Emperor, and perished together with four soldiers who had likewise declared themselves to be Christians.

From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK