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September 5, 2017

Holy Martyrs Medimnos, Urban, Theodore with Eighty Priests and Deacons Burnt in a Ship by Order of Emperor Valens (+ 370)

Sts. Medimnos, Urban, Theodore and 80 Prists and Deacons (Feast Day - September 5)


To Medimnos.
Entering the water and fire singing psalms,
Medimnos said, "I arrive refreshed."

To Urban and Theodore.
Urban together with the great Theodore,
Accomplish the contest with Medimnos.

To the Eighty Priests and Deacons.
Eight times ten of the consecrated,
Go to the fire and water strong and steadfast.

By Sozomen

Ecclesiastical History (Bk. 6, Ch. 14)

The Arians, as is customary with the prosperous, because more insolent, persecuted unmercifully all Christians whose religious sentiments were opposed to their own. These Christians being exposed to bodily injuries, and betrayed to magistrates and prisons, and finding themselves moreover gradually impoverished by the frequent fines, were at length compelled to appeal for redress to the emperor. Although exceedingly angry, the emperor did not openly manifest any wrath, but secretly commanded the prefect to seize and slay the whole deputation. But the prefect, being apprehensive that a whole popular insurrection would be excited if he were to put so many good and religious men to death without any of the forms of justice, pretended that they were to be sent into exile, and under this pretext compelled them to embark on board a ship, to which they assented with the most perfect resignation. When they had sailed to about the center of the bay, which was called Astacius, the sailors, according to the orders they had received, set fire to the vessel and leaped into the tender. A wind arising, the ship was blown along to Dacibiza, a place on the sea-coast of Bithynia; but no sooner had it neared the shore, than it was utterly consumed with all the men on board.

By Socrates

Ecclesiastical History (Bk. 4, Ch. 16)

Certain pious men of the clerical order, eighty in number, among whom Urban, Theodore, and Medimnos were the leaders, proceeded to Nicomedia, and there presented to the emperor [Valens] a supplicatory petition, informing him and complaining of the ill-usage to which they had been subjected [by the Arians]. The emperor was filled with wrath; but dissembled his displeasure in their presence, and gave Modestus the prefect a secret order to apprehend these persons, and put them to death. The manner in which they were destroyed being unusual, deserves to be recorded. The prefect fearing that he should excite the populace to a seditious movement against himself, if he attempted the public execution of so many, pretended to send the men away into exile. Accordingly as they received the intelligence of their destiny with great firmness of mind the prefect ordered that they should be embarked as if to be conveyed to their several places of banishment, having meanwhile enjoined on the sailors to set the vessel on fire, as soon as they reached the mid sea, that their victims being so destroyed, might even be deprived of burial. This injunction was obeyed; for when they arrived at the middle of the Astacian Gulf, the crew set fire to the ship, and then took refuge in a small barque which followed them, and so escaped. Meanwhile it came to pass that a strong easterly wind blew, and the burning ship was roughly driven but moved faster and was preserved until it reached a port named Dacidizus, where it was utterly consumed together with the men who were shut up in it. Many have asserted that this impious deed was not suffered to go unpunished: for there immediately after arose so great a famine throughout all Phrygia, that a large proportion of the inhabitants were obliged to abandon their country for a time, and betake themselves some to Constantinople and some to other provinces. For Constantinople, notwithstanding the vast population it supplies, yet always abounds with the necessaries of life, all manner of provisions being imported into it by sea from various regions; and the Euxine which lies near it, furnishes it with wheat to any extent it may require.

By Gregory the Theologian

Oration 25: "In Praise of Heron the Philosopher"

The fierce persecution had barely ended - Persia found in our favor and executed the guilty party, thereby avenging the blood of many with the blood of a single individual* - when its disgraceful successor begins.** Under the impious mask of protecting Christians it proceeds to harass the true Christians and becomes more trying than the one before insofar as, formerly, the struggle for martyrdom brought with it recognition and glory, whereas now the suffering actually meets with indifference, at least among the biased critics of the ordeals May I relate a single incident from that time that will bring a tear to the assembly, perhaps even to the most hard-bitten and dispassionate person himself? There are many who can confirm my tale since, in fact, the story of these tragic events reached many; and I believe future ages as well with treasure the account of what happened.

A ship puts out to sea having on board an elder of the Church, one who was risking his life not at all for some base purpose but his faith, and on a vessel with the object not to provide him with safe passage but rather to do away with him. He was a pious man and gladly went on board. But fire was his fellow-passenger, and his persecutor is gleeful at the novelty of the torment. Oh, what a tragic sight! The ship leaves port. There is a crowd of spectators on the shore, some cheering, others weeping. How can I describe so great an event in a few words? The fire catches; ship and its burden go up in smoke together; fire and water join forces, opposites combining to make up the torment of a godly man, two elements divide up his one body; and a strange column of fire rises above the sea. By chance someone approached it, thinking it harmless and benign, but as he approached, he found an incredible and pathetic sight: a voyage without a pilot, a shipwreck without a storm; and the elder was now ashes, or rather, not even ashes, for he had been scattered upon the waters. And his priestly office did not even avail to secure him at least a more dignified demise, or if not demise, at any rate burial, which even the impious claim as their due. Such was the launching of the impious one; such the end of the pious one; and nowhere does the fire from above nor the one that punishes burn brighter than such a beacon.


* Julian the Apostate (361-363) died in the course of his Persian campaign.

** The narrative continues to the Arian Emperor Valens (364-378), omitting the short reign of Jovian (363-364).