Skip to comments.The Feast of the Forty Martyrs
Posted on 03/10/2015 3:18:08 PM PDT by NYer
|A 10-century ivory relief icon of the Forty Martyrs, made in Constantinople, now in the Bodemuseum in Berlin. (Image from wikipedia.)|
The Breviary of St Pius V represents the martyrs praying as their sufferings began, “Forty we have entered into the stadium, let us receive forty crowns, o Lord, lest even one be lacking from this number. This number is held in honor. You adorned it with a fast of forty days; through it the divine Law entered into the world. Elijah, seeking God, obtained the vision of Him by a fast of forty days.” This is a very ancient motif, by which the fast of forty days observed in the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah) is associated with that observed in the Gospel in Christ. For this reason, on the first Sunday of Lent the Church reads the story of Christ’s fast, and on the second, the Gospel of the Transfiguration, at which the Moses and Elijah appear as witnesses to the divinity of Christ.
One of their number, however, did abandon the company and enter the hot bath; in some accounts it is said that he died immediately from the shock. In the meantime, one of their guards had a vision of Angels descending upon the martyrs, bearing thirty-nine crowns; he was inspired by this to become a Christian, take the place of the one who had left, and so fulfill the mystical number of forty. Seeing the martyrs’ constancy, those who were in charge of their execution decided to finish them off by breaking their legs, as was done to the thieves crucified alongside the Lord. Only one of them did not die from this, a young man named Melito, but he was mortally wounded and could not live. His own mother then carried him to the place where the rest of them were taken to be cremated, walking behind the wagon; during the journey he died in her arms, and was laid by her on the pyre among the bodies of his comrades.
Their ashes were scattered to prevent the veneration of their relics, but the Christians were able to recover some of them. St Basil the Great tells of the presence of the relics at Caesarea; his brother, St Gregory of Nyssa, says that their parents, Ss Basil the Elder and Emmelia, were buried in a church at a place called Annesis, which they themselves had built, and for which they had obtained some relics of the Forty. Portions of them were later taken to Constantinople and elsewhere, and devotion to them was brought to the West by St Gaudentius of Brescia, who received a part of the relics from St Basil’s nieces while passing through Caesarea on his way to Jerusalem.
Great old song by Tom Green-
What a fascinating story. Especially the witness who took the place of the man who left.
Troparion (Tone 1)
Together let us honor the holy company united by faith,
Those noble warriors of the Master of all.
They were divinely enlisted for Christ,
And passed through fire and water.
Then they entered into refreshment praying for those who cry:
Glory to him who has strengthened you!
Glory to him who has crowned you!
Glory to him who has made you wonderful, O holy Forty Martyrs!
Kontakion (Tone 6)
You abandoned all earthly armies,
Cleaving to the heavenly Master, O Forty Martyrs of the Lord.
Having passed through fire and water, O Blessed Ones,
You have fittingly received heavenly glory and many crowns.
In Orthodoxy, their Feast is celebrated March 9.
I don’t use the word “fascinating” often, but this story is fascinating. It is well worth going to your link http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2015/03/the-feast-of-forty-martyrs.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheNewLiturgicalMovement+%28New+Liturgical+Movement%29#.VP-JGk0tF9B and reading all of it. Thank you.
Beautiful prayer. March 9 is their feast day on the Maronite calendar, as well.
Wow! That was really something! I feel sorry for the fellow who didn’t make it. It’s amazing, though, the courage and stamina God has given the martyrs throughout the centuries...
Note: this topic is from 3/10/2015. Thanks NYer.
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