The Forty Martyrs of Sebastia
The holy forty martyrs of the city of Sebastia were martyred. Emperor Constantine the great had appointed his friend Lecius ruler for the east and commanded him to treat the Christians well.
When he arrived to his headquarter, he ordered his subordinate to worship the idols but they refused and cursed his idols.
That night some of the soldiers and their children, from the city of Sebastia, made an agreement among themselves to go to the governor confessing their faith.
While they were sleeping the angel of the Lord appeared to them, strengthened them and comforted their hearts.
In the morning they stood before the Governor and confessed their faith in the Lord Christ, he threatened them but they were not afraid.
He commanded his men to stone them, but the stones came back upon those who stoned them. He ordered to throw them in a nearby lake, which was icy. Their organs were severed because of the excessive cold.
One of them whose strength >was weakened, went out of the icy water and entered the bath house nearby the lake. The heat in the bath house melted the ice that was on him but he died quickly, and lost his reward .One of the guards saw angels descending from the heaven and in their hands crowns, they placed them over the heads of the thirty nine martyrs and remained one crown in the hand of the angel.
The guard went down into the lake shouting
"I am Christian . . .I am Christian ."
He took the crown that was in the hand of the angel and was counted among the martyrs .258Among the martyrs, were young men, whose mothers encouraged and strengthened them .
Because they remained in the lake for a long time and they did not die, the Governor wished to break their legs, but the Lord took their souls and reposed them .
He ordered to burn their bodies and to cast them after that into the sea.
As they were carrying them out of the lake, they found a young man alive, so they left him. His mother took him and tried to throw him on the wagon withies mates but they put him off the wagon again for he was still alive.
His mother took him and he died in her bosom so she put him back on the wagon. They took them outside the city and cast them into the fire which did not harm them, then they castled them into the river.
On the Third Day Those holy martyrs appeared to the Bishop of Sebastia in a vision and told him:
" Go to the river and take our bodies."
He went with the priests, deacons and the people to the river and found the bodies. They carried the bodies with great honor and placed them in a beautiful shrine, and their strife was heard in all the countries.
His prayers are with us and Glory is to our God forever.