March 24, 2018

Holy Martyrs Stephen and Peter of Kazan (+ 1552)

Sts. Stephen and Peter of Kazan (Feast Day - March 24)

The Holy Martyr Stephen of Kazan was a Tatar Muslim. For more than twenty years, he suffered from a weakness of the legs. After the capture of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible in 1552, he believed in Christ through Archpriest Timothy and received healing. The Saint was baptized by Archpriest Timothy of the Moscow Cathedral, who had brought a letter from Metropolitan Macarius to the Russian army. After the Russian army withdrew from Kazan, Stephen confessed his faith in Christ and the Tatars accused him of apostasy. Less than a month after his baptism, the Tatars chopped the martyr Stephen into pieces, scattered his body and plundered his house, because he remained faithful to Christ. His martyrdom took place on March 24, 1552.

Another former Tartar baptized into the Orthodox Church was named Peter. After the Russian army left Kazan, the inhabitants dragged Peter from his home by force, and addressed him by his former Muslim name, hoping that he would deny Christ. But to all flattery and persuasion Saint Peter answered, “My father and mother is God Who is glorified in Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If you believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, then you are my family. I was named Peter in holy Baptism, and I will not answer to the name by which you address me.” Seeing that he would remain steadfast in the faith of Christ, his family had him tortured. He endured fierce torments, but he did not cease to confess the name of Christ, saying, “I am a Christian.” The holy martyr was buried in Kazan on the site where the Church of the Resurrection of Christ later stood, at the Zhitny-Grain marketplace.