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January 9, 2011

Holy Martyr Polyeuktos of Melitene in Armenia

St. Polyeuktos (or Polyefktos or Polyeuctus) the Martyr (Feast Day - January 9)


Polyeuktos suffered beheading O Word,
Through his many prayers having the grace of your suffering.
On the ninth Polyeuktos we send to you many prayers.

Saint Polyeuktos was the first martyr in the Armenian city of Meletine. He was a soldier under the emperor Decius (249-251) and he later suffered for Christ under the emperor Valerian (253-259). The Saint was friend also of Nearchos, a fellow-soldier and firm Christian, but Polyeuktos, though he led a virtuous life, remained a pagan.

When the persecution against Christians began, Nearchos said to Polyeuktos, "Friend, we shall soon be separated, for they will take me to torture, and you alas, will renounce your friendship with me." Polyeuktos told him that he had seen Christ in a dream, Who took his soiled military cloak from him and dressed him in a radiant garment. "Now," he said, "I am prepared to serve the Lord Jesus Christ."

Inflamed with zeal, Polyeuktos went to the city square, and tore up the edict of Decius which required everyone to worship idols. A few moments later, he met a procession carrying twelve idols through the streets of the city. He dashed the idols to the ground and trampled them underfoot.

His father-in-law, the magistrate Felix, who was responsible for enforcing the imperial edict, was horrified at what Polyeuktos had done and declared that he had to die for this. "Go, bid farewell to your wife and children," said Felix. Paulina came and tearfully entreated her husband to renounce Christ. His father-in-law Felix also wept, but Polyeuktos remained steadfast in his resolve to suffer for Christ.

With joy he bent his head beneath the sword of the executioner and was baptized in his own blood. Soon, when the Church of Christ in the reign of Constantine the Great had triumphed throughout all the Roman Empire, a church was built at Meletine in honor of the holy Martyr Polyeuktos. Many miracles were worked through the intercession of Saint Polyeuktos. In this very church the parents of Saintt Euthymius the Great (January 20) prayed fervently for a son. The birth of this great luminary of Orthodoxy in the year 376 occurred through the help of the holy Martyr Polyeuktos.

Saintt Polyeuktos was also venerated by Saintt Akakios, Bishop of Meletine (March 31), a participant in the Third Ecumenical Synod, and a great proponent of Orthodoxy. In the East, and also in the West, the holy Martyr Polyeuctus is venerated as a patron saint of vows and treaty agreements.

The Polyeucte Overture of French composer Paul Dukas is only one of many pieces of classical music inspired by the saints. It premiered in January of 1892. French dramatist Pierre Corneille has also written a play, Polyeucte (1642), based on the Martyr's life.



By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Nearchos and Polyeuktos, soldiers of Caesar,
Became soldiers of the Heavenly King,
One baptized with water, the other by his blood,
The second surpassed the other and became the first.
Oh, blessed be this competition,
This heroic rushing to Christ's' kingdom!
Polyeuktos rejected all by which the earth spoils
Everything, as a wind that comes; as the wind, passes,
And for these urgent sufferings, purchased the everlasting kingdom;
This trade, for him, turned out radiant:
For eternal life, let the grass be mowed!
For transitory suffering, eternal glory!
Pray for us, O soldier of Christ,
That, not one of your souls perish!

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyr Polyeuktos, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Another Apolytikion in the First Tone
The light of godliness shines on thee from heaven, and thou didst become a noble soldier of Christ. When thou wast beheaded thou wast numbered with the choirs of martyrs, with whom, O noble Polyeuktos, ever pray for those who cry: Glory to Him Who has strengthened thee; glory to Him Who has crowned thee; glory to Him Who through thee works healings for all.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
When the Saviour bowed His head within the Jordan, there He crushed the dragons' heads; as for His trophy-bearing Saint, when Polyeuktos's head was cut off, he put to shame the deceiver and wily foe.