|Sts. Peter, Dionysios, Andrew, Paul, Christina, Herakelios, Paulinos, Venedimos (Feast Day - May 18)|
These eight athletes of Christ were all martyred during the reign of Emperor Decius (249-251), though not all are associated with one another, yet they received martyric crowns on the same day.
Saint Peter was from Lampsacus, and being brought before the governor Optimines he was ordered to offer sacrifice to Aphrodite. Being unpersuaded, he confessed Christ. For this reason, the pagans broke his body by the application of chains, wood and a wheel designed for torture. Due to all these torments, the holy Peter surrendered his soul and received the unfading crown of the contest from God.
Paul and Andrew were from Mesopotamia, and were soldiers under Commander Daknon. When they were dispatched to Athens, they arrested and incarcerated two confessing Christians, Dionysios and Christina. Among them also was a man named Nikomakos, who apostatized and went to the pagan temple and offered a sacrifice. This caused him to fall into a frenzy and die, after 16 year old Christina, upon hearing his renunciation of Christ, said: "You cursed and lost man! Here instead of one hour suffering you obtained for yourself eternal and ineffable torment!" The governor heard these words and gave Christina over to Paul and Andrew. When Paul and Andrew gazed upon the beautiful virgin Christina, who was then of marriageable age, they encouraged her to share in shameful conduct with them, but she rejected their solicitations. Instead of allowing them to do violence to her, she converted them through her wise exhortations to believe in Christ, and so they became bound to Christ rather their lust, and this led to their arrest. Whereupon, the two soldiers, together with Dionysios, were dragged to the place of their execution and stoned to death, and the holy virgin Christina had her head struck off.
Saints Herakleios, Paulinos and Venedimos were from Athens. Having preached the Gospel, they incited many pagans to turn away from the foolishness and deception of idolatry. For this they were arrested and brought before the magistrate. The tyrant ordered that they be tested with many punishments. After being tossed in a lit furnace and emerging from it unharmed by the power of God, they were finally beheaded and received the crowns of martyrdom.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
The eight-numbered common athletes through martyrdom let us praise with hymns, Paulinos, Dionysios and Peter, Andrew and Venedimos, the godly-minded Paul, glorious Herakleion, and the divine Christina, for they ever intercede for the world to Christ our God.