The Holy Martyr Agatha.
This glorious virgin and martyr for Christ was born in the Sicilian town of Palermo of noble and prosperous parents. When the Emperor Decius launched a persecution of Christians, St Agatha was arrested and brought to judgement before Quintian the judge. He saw Agatha's beauty and desired her for his wife. When he suggested this to her, she replied that she was the bride of Christ and could not be faithless to her Betrothed. The judge condemned her to cruel torture: Agatha was flogged, mocked, bound to a tree and beaten till the blood flowed. After that, the judge again urged her to deny Christ and so escape further torture, to which Christ's bride replied: 'These tortures are of great help to me. As wheat cannot come to the granary until it is cleansed of its chaff, so my soul cannot enter Paradise unless my body has first been broken by torture.' Then the torturer ordered that her breasts be cut off and then she be thrown into prison. The holy Apostle Peter appeared to her in the prison and restored her to physical wholeness and health. She was once again taken out for torture and again cast back into prison, where she gave her soul to God in the town of Catania in the year 25After her death, her torturer Quintian set out to appropriate her lands, but on the way the horses became maddened under him and his soldiers. They were savaged on the face, thrown onto the ground and trampled to death. Thus God's punishment came swiftly upon him for his ferocious crime against St Agatha.
The Holy Martyr Theodula.
She suffered for Christ in the time of Diocletian, the impious Roman Emperor. During her tortures, Theodula brought one of her torturers, Helladius, to his senses and to the Christian faith. When Helladius openly confessed his faith in Christ, he was beheaded. Theodula showed great courage at her trial, for which the judge considered her witless. To this, she retorted: 'It is you who are witless, for you forget the one true God and bow down to lifeless stones.' The judge put her to cruel torture, which Theodula endured with heroism, making her torturers marvel and bringing them to Christ. Among these were two eminent citizens, Macarius and Evagrius. With these two and many others, Theodula was thrown into a red-hot furnace, where they all finished this life with honour and were made worthy of the Kingdom of Christ.
St Polyeuctus, Patriarch of Constantinople.
For his great mind, his zeal for the Faith and his power of oratory, he was called a second Chrysostom. The Russian Princess Olga came to Constantinople in the time of Patriarch Polyeuctus and the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, and was baptised there in 957. The Patriarch baptised her, and the Emperor stood godfather. St Polyeuctus prophesied: 'Blessed art thou among Russian women, for thou hast desired the light and cast away darkness; the sons of Russia will bless thee to the last generation.' From being a simple monk, Polyeuctus was raised to the Patriarchate in 946, and remained on the patriarchal throne until his death in 970.