Thursday, February 21, 2019 UTC

MARCH 9: COMMEMORATION OF THE 40 MARTYRS OF SEBASTE & COMMEMORATION OF THE MIRACLE OF THE GREAT MARTYR THEODORE

40%20Martyrs%20of%20Sebaste_1834_h480MARCH 9: CONFESSIONS – 3:00 PM, DIVINE LITURGY – 4:00 PM.

The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste or the Holy Forty were a group of Roman soldiers in the Legio XII Fulminata (Armed with Lightning) whose martyrdom in 320 for their Christian faith is recounted. They were killed near the city of Sebaste (present-day Sivas in Turkey) and were victims of the persecutions of Licinius, who persecuted the Christians of the East. The 40 soldiers confessed themselves Christians & were condemned to be exposed upon a frozen pond on a bitterly cold night so they might freeze to death. They were asked to renounce their Christianity of which one did and was freed.  One of the guards set to keep watch over the martyrs beheld a supernatural brilliancy overshadowing them and at once proclaimed himself a Christian, threw off his garments, and joined them.  Thus 40 Martyrs remained. At daybreak, the stiffened bodies of the confessors, were burned and the ashes cast into a river. Christians, however, collected the remains, and the relics were distributed throughout many cities. Veneration of the Forty Martyrs became widespread and numerous churches were erected in their honor.

We also commemorate on this day the Miracle of the Great Martyr Theodore and the boiled wheat. Fifty years after the death of Saint Theodore, the emperor Julian who was non-religious, ordered all food in the marketplace to be sprinkled with the blood offered to idols. He did this to outrage the Christians during the first week of Great Lent. Saint Theodore appeared in a dream to Archbishop Eudoxius, informing him to tell all Christians not to buy anything at the marketplaces, but rather to eat cooked wheat with honey (kolyva). This event is commemorated each year on the first Saturday of the Great Fast.