September 16, 2016

Synaxarion of Saint Euphemia the Great Martyr, with the Holy Martyrs Victor and Sosthenes

On the sixteenth of this month [September], we commemorate the Holy Great Martyr and All-Praised Euphemia.


Slain by a bear’s fangs for the sake of God,
With praises Euphemia you should be crowned.
On the sixteenth Euphemia was slaughtered by a bear.

Saint Euphemia lived during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305). Her parents were brilliant in wealth and glory, and exceptional in their piety towards Christ, therefore it was from them that she learned the Christian faith. Wherefore the blessed one completely longed for Christ, and Him only did she care for. Because Priscus, who had become proconsul of Asia Minor by Diocletian, gave the order for everyone in Chalcedon to make a sacrifice to Aries, the false god whom they honored, for this reason all the faithful Christians went into hiding. Therefore this Saint Euphemia followed and hid with forty-nine other Christians, among whom she shined with her virtues like a bright star.

Having been discovered, however, along with the other Christians, they stood before the proconsul. Through Saint Euphemia who knew much a defense was given, and this greatly enraged him. Therefore they were beaten and faced various punishments daily, over the course of twenty days.

After twenty-days they were removed from prison, and assured the proconsul that they would remain firm and unmoved in their faith. For this they were struck in their faces with rough leather. Then, with the other Saints, she was thrown in prison, with the aim of the proconsul of sending them to Diocletian. Only Saint Euphemia stood before him, since the proconsul saw that she was above all flattery, so he crushed the members of her body with iron wheels, and they were disjointed. The Martyr, as soon as she called upon God for help - O the wonder! - was released from the wheels and found to be healthy.

Then a furnace was prepared with pitch and material and branches, so that the flames were forty-five feet high. As the Saint was about to be cast into the furnace, the attendants Victor and Sosthenes saw an Angel of the Lord scattering here and there the flames of the furnace. This terrified them and they believed in Christ. The Saint taught them perfectly the faith, and encouraged them to face martyrdom for Christ. When other attendants put the Saint in the furnace, immediately the furnace consumed those attendants, while the Saint was refreshed with a breeze.

The Saint was then cast into prison, while the attendants Victor and Sosthenes stood before the proconsul, and after boldly confessing Christ, they were sent to the wild beasts. After being killed by them, the blessed ones received a martyric end. Meanwhile the Saint faced a new torment, from which she emerged unharmed, therefore she was cast into a pit full of water and beasts. Then she was placed in another pit with small skewers covered with dirt, and before she was removed from this torture, others fell in and were harmed. After this they sawed at the Saint, and burned her members with fire and flaming rods. Lastly she was perfected by martyrdom, after only being wounded with the bite of a bear, and her martyrdom was complete. Her holy relic was taken by her parents, and buried with love and honor, not far from Chalcedon.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
In love thy contest was radiant and thou didst run to the fragrance of Christ. O virtuous Virgin-Martyr, thou hast entered the bridal chamber and dost send healing into the world. Save those who cry to thee: Rejoice, O holy Euphemia.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Thou didst win thy martyr's contest, and dost now sanctify us with streams of miracles, O holy Euphemia. We honour thy repose and stand before thy relics, to be delivered from our souls' diseases, and obtain the grace of miracles.

The Holy Great Martyr Euphemia

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

All-blessed Euphemia, the holy virgin,
Offered herself to God as a sacrificial lamb.
She neither gasped, nor sighed, nor sorrowed,
But gave warm thanks to God for her tortures.

Angels appeared to her in the flame,
And extinguished the embers with cool heavenly dew.
Oh, such is our Faith-invincible!
Oh, such is the love for God-unquenchable!

Euphemia, wise virgin, virgin of Christ,
Christ the Lord gave you the Kingdom for your suffering.
You have boldness before the Mother of God and Christ our God,
And help Their work by your holy prayers.

O Euphemia, pray for all sinners,
And convert them, O saintly one, to repentance.