On this day we commemorate the martyrdom of St. Peter I, the 17th Pope of Alexandria and the "Seal of the Martyrs". His father Theodosius was the Archpriest in Alexandria and his mother's name was Sophia. They were God-fearing people and they had no children.

On the fifth day of the Coptic month of Abib, the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, his mother went to church where she saw other mothers carrying their children. She was exceedingly sorrowful for herself and she wept. She besought our Lord Jesus Christ with many tears to grant her a son. That night, the Saints Peter and Paul appeared to her and told her that the Lord had accepted her prayers and that He would give her a son, whom she would call Peter. They also commanded her to go to the Patriarch, who would bless her.

When she woke up, she told her husband about what she saw and he was exceedingly glad. Then she went to the father the Patriarch and told him about the vision she saw and asked him to bless her and he prayed over her.

Shortly after that, she gave birth to this saint and called him Peter. When he was seven years old, his parents gave him to Pope Theonas, as was done with Samuel the Prophet and he became as a son to him. When Peter grew up, the Patriarch enroled him in the Theological School where he received his education and excelled in preaching and counselling. He then ordained him as a deacon, and shortly after that as a priest. Peter relieved the Pope of many Church administrative duties.

Before he passed away, Pope Theonas recommended that Abba Peter be his successor. When Abba Peter was enthroned Pope, the Church was enlightened by his teachings.

It happened in the City of Antioch, that a man of high authority had yielded to Diocletian the Emperor and returned to paganism. The man had two sons and their mother was not able to have them baptized there. She took them to Alexandria. On her way there, the sea was troubled by a violent storm and she was afraid that her two sons would drown and die without being baptized. She dipped them in the sea water three times saying, "In the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit". Then she cut her breast and with her blood she made the sign of the Holy Cross over their foreheads. Eventually, the troubled sea calmed down and she arrived safely in Alexandria with her sons.

On the same day, she brought them to be baptized and whenever the Patriarch, tried to baptize them, the water would solidify as stone. This happened three times. When he questioned her, she informed him of what had happened to her at sea. He marvelled and praised God saying: "That is what the Church proclaims, that it is one baptism".

Also in the days of this Pope, Arius the heretic appeared and St. Peter advised him several times to turn away from his wicked thoughts, but he would not. So he excommunicated him and prevented him from the fellowship of the Church. Arius contacted Emperor Maximianus the infidel, and reported to him that Peter, the Patriarch of Alexandria, incited the people not to worship the idols. The Emperor was outraged and he sent messengers with orders to cut off his head.

When they arrived in Alexandria, they attacked the people and destroyed most of the cities around Alexandria. They robbed all their valuables, their women and children. In total, about 840 thousand of them were killed, some with the sword, some by starvation and others by imprisonment. Then they returned to Alexandria and captured the Patriarch and imprisoned him.

When the people heard of their shepherd's arrest, they gathered in front of the prison door and wanted to free him by force. The officer in charge of his slaying was worried that the general peace would be disrupted, so he postponed the execution till the next day.

When the saint saw what had happened, he wanted to deliver himself to death for his people without causing any disturbances or troubles. He sent for his people, comforted them and asked them to adhere to the true faith.

When Arius, the infidel, learned that St. Peter was about to be martyred, leaving him under the band of excommunication, he sought absolution. The father refused and told them that the Lord Jesus had appeared to him that night in a vision, wearing a torn robe. St. Peter asked Him, "My Lord, who rent Your robe?" The Lord replied, "Arius has rent My robe, because he separated Me from My Father. Beware of accepting him".

After this, St. Peter summoned the Emperor's messenger in secret and advised him to dig a hole in the prison's wall on the side where there were no Christians. The officer was amazed at the bravery of the father and he did as he commanded him. He took him out of prison secretly and brought him outside the city, to the place of the sepulchre of St. Mark the Evangelist.

There he knelt down and beseeched God saying: "Lord, let the shedding of my blood mark the end of the worship of idols and be the end of the shedding of the blood of Christians". A voice came from heaven and was heard by a saintly virgin who was near the place. It said: "Amen, let it be as you requested".

When he finished his prayer, the swordsman advanced and cut off his holy head. The body remained in its place until the people went out hurriedly from the city to the place where he was martyred, because they did not know what had happened. They took the holy body and dressed it in the pontifical clothes and seated him on the seat of St. Mark which he refused to sit on during his Papacy. He used to say that he saw the power of God sitting on that Chair and therefore he did not dare sit on it.

Then they placed his body with the bodies of the saints. He occupied the throne of St. Mark for eleven years.

On this day also we commemorate the martyrdom of St. Clement, Pope of Rome. This saint was born in Rome to a father from a noble family whose name was Fostinus. He was a member of the Senate. His father educated and taught him Greek literature.

When St. Peter, the Apostle, came to Rome and Clement heard about his preaching, he called him to appear before him and they discussed many things together. The Apostle explained to him the falsehood of idol worship and proved to him the Divinity of the Lord Jesus, in Whose name they preached and performed miracles. Clement believed at St. Peter's hands, was baptized by him, and followed him from that day onward.

Clement wrote the life of the Apostles and what happened to them at the hands of the kings and rulers. He preached in several cities and many believed at his hands. He was the one to whom the Apostles gave their Canon Books. He became the Pope of Rome in the latter part of the first century A.D. He preached there and many were converted to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus by him.

The Emperor Trajan heard of him and ordered him to be seized and commanded him to worship the idols and deny the Lord Jesus, but St. Clement would not obey. The Emperor feared torturing him before the people and before his own family, so he exiled him to a certain city and wrote a message to its Governor telling him to torture Clement then kill him. The Governor tied his neck to an anchor and cast him into the sea. The saint delivered his pure soul and received the crown of martyrdom in the year 100 A.D.

One year after his martyrdom, the sea water receded off his body and he appeared in the bottom of the sea as though he was alive. Many decided to take him away from that place. They brought a marble coffin and laid him in it and when they wanted to take his body away from the sea, they were unable even to move it. They knew that he did not wish to be moved, so they left him and departed.

On the day of his feast each year, the sea water would recede and the visitors would go there and be blessed by him.

Amongst the many miracles written about him is this: One year visitors went to visit and to be blessed by him and when they left they forgot a little boy who was behind the coffin of the Saint. This happened according to God's will, in order to reveal His love. When the boy's parents remembered their son, they went back to the sea, but they found the water was back and that it had covered the casket. They thought that their son must be dead and devoured by the beasts of the sea. They wept over him and commemorated him as was the custom.

The next year, when the sea waters receded, the people went there, as was their custom, and were amazed to find the boy alive. The boy explained to them that the Saint fed him and guarded him from the beasts of the sea. They praised God in His saints.

The Monk Patapios was born at Thebes into a pious Christian family. Reaching the age of maturity, he had but scorn for the vanities of the world and so went off into the Egyptian wilderness. He became known for his ascetic deeds after the passing of many years. When people began to come to him for advice, he instead wished to dwell in silence. He went eventually to Constantinople, where he obtained a cell at the city wall, near the Blakhernae church. But here also he quickly became known. The sick began to throng about, and he having been vouchsafed the gift of healing, began to help all the needy.

The Monk Kirill of Chelmogorsk, Enlightener of the Chudian People, was born at the city of Beloozero [White-Lake]. He took vows at the monastery of the Monk Antonii the Roman, where for 6 years he passed through various obediences. Then, after a three year wandering through the wilderness, he settled in a wild region of Kargopol'sk. And here, by a command from on high, he chose for his constant abode Mount Chelma. Many of the afflicted from among the Chud people came to check out the Monk Kirill, whose luminant ascetic life and kindly preachings moved many to an acceptance of holy Baptism. Towards the end of his life, the Monk Kirill established a monastery and church in honour of the Theophany [Bogoyavlenie] of the Lord. The monk dwelt upon Mount Chelma for 52 years and died at the advanced age of 82.

The Holy Disciples from the 70: Sosthenes, Apollos, Cephas, Tykhikos, Epaphrodites, Caesarius, Onysiphoros -- were chosen and sent by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself for preaching; they were chosen some while after the choosing of the 12 Apostles (Lk 10:1-24).

The Disciple Sosthenes before accepting Christianity was head of the Jewish synagogue at Corinth. During the time of a riot against the Apostle Paul, he too suffered a beating. He was converted by Paul to faith in Christ and afterwards became bishop at Colophon.

Apollos was a native of Alexandria and was a man of excellent erudition. The chief place of his service was at Corinth. He toiled there for a long time and converted many to faith in Christ. Towards the end of his life he preached on Crete and was bishop of Caesarea.

The Disciple Cephas was bishop at Colophon.

The Disciple Tykhikos, a native of Asia Minor, was a student and companion of the holy Apostle Paul. At the time of the first imprisonment of Paul, he delivered the Epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians. He replaced the Disciple Sosthenes on the cathedra-chair at Colophon.

The Disciple Epaphrodites -- one of the closest assistants and companions of the Apostle Paul -- was bishop of the Thracian city of Adriaca.

The Disciple Caesarius preached at and was bishop of Dirracheia -- a district in middle Greece.

All of these disciples expired peacefully to the Lord (a second commemoration is under 30 March). The Church remembers with them also the Disciple Onysiphoros (commemorated 7 September).

Martyred 62 Clergy and 300 LaymenThis occurred during the time of the emperor Zenon (474-491). The ruler of the Vandal kingdom in North Africa, Guneric, came under the influence of heretic Arian bishops and started up a fierce persecution against the Orthodox. When believers had gathered at one of the churches and secretly celebrated Divine Liturgy, barbarian soldiers burst into the church. Part of the worshippers fled, but 300 men -- those most firm in the true faith -- voluntarily gave themselves over to torture and were beheaded. Of the 62 clergy, two were burnt, and tongues were cut out from the rest. But by a miraculous Divine power they continued to preach and to oppose the Arian false-teachings.

The Holy Martyress Anthysa, wife of a Roman official, was baptised by Sainted Ambrose of Mediolanum (Milan). She recoiled from the offer of the city-governor's wife Sunilda to accept Arian baptism, and so was committed to the fire.