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September 23, 2017

Synaxarion of the Holy Martyrs Andrew, John, Peter and Anthony of Syracuse

Sts. Andrew, John, Peter and Anthony the Martyrs (Feast Day - September 23)


To Andrew.

While the Word was stabbed once with a spear,
Andrew bore the stabs of two spears.

To John.

By the delusion of the enemy you were slaughtered and buried John,
Thus slaughtering the enemy together with delusion.

To Peter and Anthony.

Anthony and Peter were as firm as rocks,
Remaining steadfast even when their members were cut off.

When Emperor Basil the Macedonian ruled the Romans in the year 867, all of Africa was under the authority of the Hagarenes, and ruled by the savage and vicious Abrahim. After going to battle against the people of Syracuse, which is a metropolis on the island of Sicily, he took as prisoner John, together with his two sons, Peter and Anthony, who were young in age. The young boys were given over to a Hagarene teacher, in order to learn the necessary letters. When the youths arrived at a manly age, and had exceeded others in mind and virtue, the tyrant admired them for their superiority, so he made Anthony a genikon* and Peter he made a sakellarion.** Secretly, however, they were Christians, though out in the open they feigned to belong to the religion of the Hagarenes.*** This they were not able to keep secret till the end, therefore when Abrahim learned of this, he became enraged and had the legs of the Saints bound in stocks, and they were beaten with thorny rods.

Therefore the blessed Anthony received four hundred wounds on his legs, and while he was being wounded by these, he gave thanks to God. After this he was placed on a donkey and tied to the saddle with ropes, then he was paraded throughout the city. Peter was stripped naked, and beaten with rods on his stomach and back. Then he and his brother Anthony were cast into prison. The tyrant then removed them from prison, and had them thrashed with wood harshly from the their hands to their shoulders. He also had their fingers and palms thrashed. Then their thighs and feet were thrashed, so that their bare bones were as tender as flesh, and their flesh became as clay. And they became so bloodied, that it was as if they were of one mixture.

The tyrant then called for a coppersmith, from whom he ordered to make fiery tongs, and with this (O the hardness of his soul, which exceeded even that of the wild beasts!) he was to castrate them, and then place their testicles in their mouths. In this way the brave athletes of the Lord became perfected with this very painful torture, and they received the crowns of martyrdom. The inhuman tyrant then brought before him their father John, and turning the neck of the renowned one with his left hand, he shoved his own knife into his throat. In this way the body of the thrice-blessed one was put over that of his children just like fish, and he delivered his holy soul into the hands of God. Then the profane one had a fire lit up, and he burned the bodies of the Martyrs.

The blessed Andrew was an old man in age, and he stood before the defiled Abrahim. Having boldly confessed his faith in Christ, first he was placed in prison. He remained there for many years, till he was dried up from hunger and thirst and all the other hardships of imprisonment. Lastly, since there was no way that he would get him to deny piety, what did the ferocious beast do? He got up on a horse, and taking a spear he placed the Saint in front of him. Then running with the horse, he struck the Martyr in the chest with a spear. When he heard the Saint cry out from his heart with a voice of thanksgiving to God, the blood-sucker turned around towards his backside, and struck the Martyr with another spear in his back. Because the two spears passed through his innards, the brave struggler fell to the ground. Then he was beheaded, and he delivered his holy soul into the hands of God, and ascended victoriously into the heavens.


* A "genikon" was in charge of the general financial ministry, and was responsible for general taxation and revenue, and also served as a court for financial cases.

** A sakellarios was an official entrusted with administrative and financial duties.

*** The Hagarenes were Muslims.