Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Commemoration of the Holy Martyrs Killed by the Bulgarians During the Reign of Nikephoros the Emperor

Holy Martyrs Killed by the Bulgarians (Feast Day - July 23);
Khan Krum feasts while a servant brings the skull of Nikephoros I
fashioned into a drinking cup.


Verses

Righteous men were tortured in various ways,
Men who were killed in various ways.

Emperor Nikephoros, who is called the Patrician and in general Logothetis, in the ninth year of his reign, which was the year 811 after Christ, left Constantinople to do battle against the Bulgarians, with his entire army, having with him his son Staurakios, and his son-in-law Michael. Gathering in a battle with the Bulgarians, they defeated them as a nation, and raised up a notable banner. Proud of this victory, as one who is thoughtless, he sat in luxury, abiding among food and drink, careless of imperial things; such carelessness caused the Bulgarians to gain courage.

One night the Bulgarians suddenly fell upon the Roman army, capturing the emperor alive with the entire senate, and many ways to kill were devised, completely without compassion, not even for the emperor. The ruler of the Bulgarians, whose name was Krum, had him put to death. And as many Christian soldiers that were struck dead, they immediately died. All those who were not struck to death, fled to forested places and ponds. Those who were captured alive, were punished with various tortures in order to deny Christ and believe in the religion of the pagans.

Because the Bulgarians were urging them to deny Christ, the Christians strongly resisted, saying: "We prefer to die, rather than deny piety." For this they were put to death in terrible ways with various deaths. Some of them were beheaded by the sword, others were suspended, others were pierced with bitter arrows, and others were condemned to die in prison by hunger and thirst. In this way they met their end, and the blessed ones received the unfading crown of the contest.


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