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June 28, 2018

Holy Martyr Basil and the Seventy Martyrs of Scythopolis

Ancient Amphitheater of Scythopolis

Verses

To the Seventy Martyrs.
You had ten times seven disciples Savior,
You have the same amount of athletes by the sword.

Almost nothing is known of these Holy Martyrs. Basil was either the leader of the Seventy or one of the Seventy and probably a native of Scythopolis. They were martyred by the sword, probably by beheading, in Scythopolis (mod. Beit Shean; Baishan in Syriac) of Palestine. Basil is separately commemorated on July 5th, the day of his martyrdom, while the Seventy are all together celebrated on June 28th. Interestingly, Saint Prokopios of Scythopolis was martyred in Caesarea on July 7, 303, according to Eusebius, and he was the first martyr of Diocletian's persecution there; perhaps there is an association.

A martyrium was built in Scythopolis dedicated to the Holy Martyr Basil. Cyril of Scythopolis informs us in the Life of Euthymios that one of the first disciples of Saint Euthymios was one named Kyrion (Cyrion), who was "a priest of the chapel of the Holy Martyr Basil at Scythopolis." Archdeacon Theodosios, who wrote about the sacred sites of the Holy Land in the early sixth century, visited this chapel which he described as a martyrium erected at the place where Basil suffered martyrdom. In 594 a church dedicated to the Holy Martyr Basil was built in Rihab, Jordan, the ruins of which still exist.