August 5, 2015

Holy Martyr Eusignios the Soldier of Antioch


The friend of Christ Eusignios was beheaded,
Decapitated while crying out, Christ I revere.
On the fifth the head of Eusignios was mingled with dust.

The Holy Martyr Eusignios was born at Antioch in 252 A.D. Over the course of sixty years he served as a soldier and general in the Roman armies of the emperors Diocletian, Maximian Hercules, Constantius Chlorus, Constantine the Great and his sons. He was present at the martyrdom of Saint Basiliscus (March 3 and May 22) and is said to have seen angels and Christ Himself who took Basiliscus up to heaven. When he was general under Constantine the Great, he was also an eye-witness to the sign of the cross in the sky. Eusignios retired in his old age from military service and returned to Antioch. There he spent his time in prayer, fasting, and good works.

And thus he lived until the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363), who yearned for a return to paganism. While living in Antioch in the time of Julian the Apostate, two men with a dispute asked Eusignios to judge between them. This was a way they settled disputes in his time. He judged rightly to the one who was right, and the one at fault became enranged. This man went to the Emperor and denounced Eusignius as a Christian. Eusignios stood trial as a Christian before the emperor Julian in the year 362. He fearlessly accused the emperor of apostasy from Christ, and reproached him with the example of his relative, Constantine the Great, describing in detail how he himself had been an eyewitness to the appearance in the sky of the sign of the Cross.

Julian did not spare the quite old Eusignios, then 110 years old, but rather ordered him beheaded. Then Eusignios, full of joy, said: "Thank you, King. Death respected me in the battlefield, in order to now find me and strike me for the sake of Christ. Such an end is worthy of a Christian soldier, and I glorify the Most High that it pleased Him to preserve me for such an end."

In this way Eusignios received the honorable death of martyrdom by decapitation in 362 A.D.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
As to a man of godly mind and Martyr for true piety, today the Church doth give honour and glory to the supremely wise Eusignios; and his all-hallowed contests doth she praise, as she ever crieth out: By his prayers, preserve Thy lowly servants, O Thou Who art greatly merciful.