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The Holy Martyrs Thyrsus, Leucius, and Callinicus of Asia Minor, and Philemon, Apollonius, and Arian of Alexandria

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December 14

Reading:

Of these, the Martyrs who were from Asia Minor contested for piety's sake during the reign of Decius, in 250. Saint Leucius, seeing the slaughter of the Christians, reproached the Governor Cumbricius, for which he was hung up, harrowed mercilessly on his sides, then beheaded. For boldly professing himself a Christian and rebuking the Governor for worshipping stocks and stones as gods, Saint Thyrsus, after many horrible tortures, was sentenced to be sawn asunder, but the saw would not cut, and became so heavy in the executioners' hands that they could not move it; Saint Thyrsus then gave up his spirit, at Apollonia in the Hellespont. Saint Callinicus a priest of the idols, was converted through the martyrdom and miracles of Saint Thyrsus, and was beheaded.

During the reign of Diocletian (284-305), the Governor of Antinoe in the Thebaid of Upper Egypt was Arian, a fierce persecutor who had sent many Christians to a violent death, among them Saints Timothy and Maura (see May 3) and Saint Sabine (Mar. 16). When he had imprisoned Christians for their confession of faith, one of them, named Apollonius, a reader of the Church, lost his courage at the sight of the instruments of torture, and thought how he might escape torments without denying Christ. He gave money to Philemon a flute-player and a pagan, that he might put on Apollonius' clothes and offer sacrifice before Arian, so that all would think Apollonius to have done the Governor's will, and he might be released. Philemon agreed to this, but when the time came to offer sacrifice, enlightened by divine grace, he declared himself a Christian instead. He and Apollonius, who also confessed Christ when the fraud was exposed, were both beheaded. Before beheading them, Arian had commanded that they be shot with arrows, but while they remained unharmed, Arian himself was wounded by one of the arrows; Saint Philemon foretold that after his martyrdom, Arian would be healed at his tomb. When this came to pass, Arian, the persecutor who had slain so many servants of Christ, himself believed in Christ and was baptized with four of his bodyguards. Diocletian heard of this and had Arian and his body-guards brought to him. For their confession of Christ, they were cast into the sea, and received the crown of life everlasting.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone

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

As we gather on this day, let us all honour with divine and sacred songs the luminaries of the Church as we extol them with hymns of praise as trophy-bearers and Martyrs of Christ our God.