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April 2, 2015

Saints Amphianos & Aedesios the Martyrs of Lycia

Sts. Amphianos and Aedesios the Brothers (Feast Day - April 2)

The two blessed brothers Amphianos and Aedesios were from the Lycian city of Pagae, and were the sons of a very wealthy family. They lived during the reign of Maximianus (286-305).

The innocent lamb, Amphianos, not quite twenty years old, had spent considerable time in Beirut, for the sake of secular education. While studying, he was enlightened by the Spirit of God and renounced the delusion of paganism. The blessed lad, furthermore, remained uncorrupted by youthful passions and young companions, and clung to virtue. He lived soberly and discreetly. After he finished his studies in Beirut, he decided to return home.

In Lycia, his father held the first seat of honor. However, Amphianos discovered that he could not dwell among pagan parents and kinsfolk, for they were set against his living as a Christian. Therefore, he secretly betook himself to the city of Caesarea.

It was in Caesarea that he was further instructed by the priest Pamphilos (commemorated the 16th of February and the 5th of November) in the sacred Scriptures and asceticism. When the second wave of persecutions against the Christians took place under Maximinus, it was already the third year of the persecution, and his first edict was published commanding all the people to offer sacrifice. Heralds were sent to summon the people, and names were called out from a role.

The young Amphianos then rushed up to Urbanos, then the governor of Palestine, while he was offering his libations. He fearlessly seized the governor's right hand and prevented him from sacrificing. By divine inspiration, he began to exhort Urbanos not to forsake the one true God and to leave off sacrificing to idols and demons. Now many that had heard his words and witnessed his rare courage repented and embraced the Faith. As one might expect, the governor and they that were with him tore at the blameless youth. Yet, he courageously endured the rain of blows afflicted upon him, and he was then remanded to prison.

For one whole day, both his feet were stretched in the stocks. The following day, he was scheduled to appear before the judge. They attempted to force Amphianos to recant, but he displayed all constancy under terrible torture. They tore at his sides many times, to the very bones and bowels. He received so many blows to his face and neck that he was unrecognizable from the severe swelling of the body tissue. As he was still unyielding, the torturers were commanded to wrap linen cloths, soaked in oil, about his feet, and then to ignite them. Indescribable was the agony he experienced, for the fire consumed the flesh and penetrated to the bones, so that blood and lymph oozed out and dripped like wax. Still unsubdued, his superhuman steadfastness was incomprehensible to them.

He was then cast into prison again. When he was brought before the judge for a third time, though already half-dead, he made the same confession of faith, whereupon they decided to commit the prisoner to the depths of the sea.

As soon as his martyric body was consigned to the fathomless depths, an uncommon disturbance agitated the sea all along the shoreline, so much so that the city shook. Then, all of a sudden, the sea dispensed the relics of the young martyr before the gates of the city. Thus did God glorify His athlete.

But let us now talk about his brother Aedesios. He was more highly educated than Amphianos in philosophic studies. He, too, had made many confessions and suffered protracted tortures in fetters. Shortly after his brother's martyric end, he was sentenced to a copper mine in Palestine. Notwithstanding, he always conducted himself in a God-pleasing manner.

In time, he found himself in Alexandria of Egypt, where he witnessed the judge trying the Christians. The judge, Hierocles, was offensive beyond all bounds and insulted the holy men in diverse ways. He consigned modest women and even nuns to procurers for shameless treatment.

This all proved insufferable to the holy Aedesios. Therefore, he resolved to boldly go forward. Both by words and deed (Aedesios struck the judge), the athlete of Christ decisively overwhelmed the judge with shame and disgrace. For this, he was subjected to many forms of torture and, like his brother Amphianos, he was cast into the sea and received the unfading crown of martyrdom.

A service to the holy brothers, Amphianos and Aedesios, was composed by Joseph the Hymnographer (Parisian Codex 341, no. 219a).

From The Lives of the Saints of the Holy Land and Sinai Desert (Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, CO 1990) pp. 221-222.