January 14, 2016

Thirty-Eight Holy Fathers Massacred at Mount Sinai

38 Holy Fathers Massacred at Mount Sinai (Feast Day - January 14)


Swords exacted many murders,
Ill-treating men who loved virtue.
On the fourteenth the Abbas were slain with the sword.

Long before Emperor Justinian built the great Monastery on the slopes of Mount Sinai in 527 like a desert fortress to protect the monastic fathers from dangerous marauders, many ascetics were scattered throughout the wilderness in their longing to attain union with God by abandoning all things temporal and vain for a life of prayer and beloved asceticism.

During the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305), when Peter was Patriarch of Alexandria (300–311), many of these venerable fathers were slain, who lived in quietude in the wilderness of Sinai. This was because one of the Saracen chiefs died near the church where these holy fathers would gather for the Divine Liturgy. Therefore they vented their rage and massacred Doulas, the superior of the community, and all the fathers who lived in the cells there. Others took refuge in a fortress and tower for their protection. When night came an immense flame shot up from the summit of Mount Sinai by divine Providence, making the whole mountain appear like a pillar of fire and smoke which rose into the heavens. When the barbarians saw this, they became panic-stricken and fled.

In all the number of monks massacred were thirty-eight, displaying various wounds to their bodies. Some were completely beheaded, one had his head severed hanging on his chest, another had his head slumped on his back, attached only by strips of skin, while the body of one was cut in half. Among these only two were still found alive, Savvas and Isaiah, though they died shortly after they buried the slaughtered holy fathers and related the event.

Years later another slaughter took place at Mount Sinai during the reign of Theodosius the Great (379-395). Certain barbarians known as Blemmyans, who lived like wild animals in the desert between Egypt and the Red Sea, slew the holy ascetics pitilessly and stole their meager provisions. Saint Nilus of Sinai (Nov. 12) was among these holy fathers with his son Saint Theodoulos (Jan. 14). Nilus managed to escape the slaughter and eventually recorded the events in writing, while Theodoulos was captured and sold to a Bishop nearby, who released him and allowed both father and son to return to Mount Sinai where they lived as ascetics till their repose.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
O God of our Fathers, ever dealing with us according to Thy gentleness: take not Thy mercy from us, but by their entreaties guide our life in peace.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
As a holy chosen chorus of the Word, the Abbas of Sinai and Raithu, angelically prevailed as a sacred gathering, the sweat of their asceticism secretly mingling with the shower of their blood in a vessel of grace, spiritual set out for us, from which we revel, they do we bless.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Ye fled from the world's confusion and wild turbulence, and passed over to a state of great tranquility, crowned with blood of martyrdom and the pains of valiant ascetic deeds. Hence, ye dwell together with all the Martyrs and Venerable Fathers in the heights.