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1. The Holy Martyrs Carpus and Papylus.

Carpus was Bishop of Thyateira and Papylus was a deacon. They were born in Pergamum, where they finally suffered for the Christian faith at the hands of the wicked governor, Valerius, in Decius' reign. Valerius bound them behind horses and dragged them off to Sardis, where he put them to harsh torture; but an angel of God appeared to them, healed them of their wounds and strengthened them. Carpus's servant, Agathodorus, followed his master with great sorrow until he also was taken for torture. After that, Valerius again bound them behind horses and dragged them from Sardis to Pergamum. When holy Carpus was tied to a tree and so terribly flogged that his whole body was laid open and his blood streamed down onto the ground, he smiled in the midst of these tortures. When they asked him why he smiled, the holy martyr replied that he saw the heavens open and the Lord sitting on his throne, surrounded by cherubim and seraphim. At the time of Papylus's martyrdom, this holy martyr healed a man, blind in one eye, by his prayers. Many, seeing this, came to believe in Christ the Lord. Thrown before wild beasts, the martyrs remained unhurt. When they were thrown into a fiery furnace, Agathonica, Papylus' sister, saw this and leapt into the flames. But the flames did not burn them. Finally, they were all beheaded with the sword in 251. Thus, after great spiritual endeavour, they received the wreath of glory in the Kingdom of Christ.

2. The Hieromartyr Benjamin the Deacon.

This soldier of Christ was a Persian, and, zealously preaching the Gospel, brought many pagans, both Persians and Greeks, to the Christian faith. He suffered in the time of the Persian King Yezdegeherd, in about 412. When he was thrown into prison, one of the king's nobles pleaded for him to the king. The king was willing to let him go free, on condition that he kept silent and spoke no more to the people about Christ. To this, Benjamin replied: 'I cannot possibly do that. Those who hide the talent they have received will be given over to greater suffering', and he continued to spread the Christian faith. The king then ordered that thorns be driven under his nails, and had him tortured until he gave his soul into God's hands.

3. The Holy Martyr Zlata of Meglin.

Born in the village of Slatina in the Meglin region, of poor peasants who had three other daughters, St Zlata was a meek and devout girl, wise with Christ's wisdom and golden ('zlata' means 'gold') not only in name but also in her God-fearing heart. When Zlata went out one day to get water, some shameless Turks seized her and carried her off to their house. When one of them urged her to embrace Islam and become his wife, Zlata answered fearlessly: 'I believe in Christ, and know Him alone as my bridegroom; I shall never deny Him even if you put me to a thousand tortures and cut me into pieces.' Her parents and sisters then arrived, and said to her: 'O our daughter, have mercy on yourself and us. Deny Christ publicly, that we can all be happy. Christ is merciful; He will forgive your sin, committed under the pressure of life.' Her poor parents and kinsfolk wept bitterly. But Zlata's heroic soul would not be overcome by devilish seduction. She replied to her parents: 'When you urge me to deny Christ, the true God, you are no longer parents or sisters to me; I have the Lord Jesus Christ as father, the Mother of God as mother and, for brothers and sisters, the saints.' Then the Turks threw her into prison, where she lay for three months, and they took her out every day and flogged her until her blood flowed onto the ground. Finally, they hanged her upside-down and made a fire to choke her to death with the smoke. But God was with Zlata, and gave her strength in her suffering. At the very end, they hanged her from the tree and cut her into pieces. Thus this martyrmaiden gave her soul into God's hands, and entered into the realm of Paradise, in 1796. Pieces of her relics were by the Christians to their homes, that they might bring a blessing to them.


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