June 22, 2017

Holy Martyrs Zenon and Zenas of Philadelphia

Sts. Zenon and Zenas (Feast Day - June 22)


The fellow-contestant servant with the fellow-contestant master,
Both as servants of God were beheaded.

Zenon was a Roman officer during the reign of Emperor Maximian (286-305) in the Arabian town of Philadelphia (now Amman in Jordan) and Zenas was his servant. Being a pious and zealous Christian, Zenon desired to be martyred for Christ. For this reason he distributed all of his belongings to the poor and liberated all of his servants. When Zenon heard that the governor Maximos loved the idols very much, he presented himself before him, followed by his servant Zenas. Zenas was a prudent and good-intentioned servant, and he did not want to be separated from his master Zenon.

Standing before the governor, Zenon rebuked him, because he was occupying himself with the vain worship of lifeless idols. For this the governor ordered that he immediately be flogged. After the Saint had been flogged, he kicked at the sacrificial altar, and it fell. For this the Saint was suspended and mercilessly flogged. Then salt and vinegar were rubbed into his wounds. After this torture, Zenon was cast into prison and his legs were put in stocks that were tightened to the fourth peg.

During this time Zenas visited his master Zenon and begged him that he not allow him to go away as he did with his other servants. When the governor learned of this, he ordered that Zenas be imprisoned together with his master. And when both together were brought before the governor and questioned, they both refused to deny Christ, for which they were harshly flogged.

Separately Saint Zenon was burned on his chest and heart with burning spits. Then they were both suspended from their armpits, while a heavy rock was tied to their legs. After this they were cast into a pit of fire, and the flame of the fire was doused with oil by the pagans. Because in an unusual manner they were kept unharmed by the grace of God, they were beheaded, and in this way the blessed ones received the crown of martyrdom. Their holy relics were later interred in the Church of Saint George in Cyparisson, situated partly in the northern portion of Babylonia and partly in Assyria.

The Church of Saints Zenon and Zenas in Anadiou, Cyprus

In the Turkish Cypriot village of Anadiou (in the district of Paphos) which seems to have been Greek and Christian before it became turkified due to its inhabitants' conversion to Islam during the Ottoman Period, there used to be a church dedicated to the Holy Martyrs Zenon and Zenas. When the Turkish Cypriots left their village in 1974 and moved to the north side of Cyprus, Anadiou was inhabited by Greek Cypriot refugees who came from the north after the Turkish invasion of that same year. Recently a new church dedicated to these two Saints was built on the site of the old one which was destroyed centuries ago.