Saint Polyeuktos
Martyrdom of St. Stephen the Archdeacon
Martyrdom of St. Lawindianus

Saint Polyeuktos

On this day we celebrate the memory of holy martyr Polyeuktos.

St. Polyeuktos lived during the reign of Emperors Decius and Vallerian in 255. He knew well the art of warfare and used to live in the Armenian city of Melitine. He was the first to suffer martyrdom in this city. An impious law was pronounced that ordered Christians to deny Christ. Whoever was not convinced ought to be punished with death. Because of this law the athlete of Christ Polyeuktos, without losing his nerve at all, preached Christ openly and with his great courage and valour he smashed the idols which the Greeks respected.

Although his father-in-law advised him to deny Christ and his wife was crying and lamenting for him, he persevered and neither was he convinced by his father-in-law's advice nor did he sympathise with his wife's wailing. Instead, he kept his promises and what he had agreed with his friend Nearkhos, who was afraid and suspected that he would deny the faith of Christ. So, he stayed firm and would not be moved from the confession of faith. Because of this he died by the sword and rose to heavens.

Martyrdom of St. Stephen the Archdeacon

On this day, we commemorate the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the Archdeacon and the first Christian martyr (Protomartyr).

St. Luke testified about him in the Book of Acts saying, "And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people" (Acts 6:8). "The Jews stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. They also set up false witnesses who said, "This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us. And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel"

(Acts 6:12-15).

Then the high priest said, "Are these things so?" And Stephen answered with a convincing speech and told them the history from Abraham to Moses. Abraham got out of Haran, had Isaac and circumcised him. Isaac had Jacob and Jacob had Joseph and his brother, who sold him to Egypt. Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. St. Stephen continued to tell them all the events until the building of the temple.

Stephen concluded by saying, "You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it" (Acts 7:51-53).

When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" (Acts 7:54-56).

Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7:57-60).

Martyrdom of St. Lawindianus (Leontius)

On this day also, we commemorate the martyrdom of St. Lawindianus (Leontius). He was from Syria at the time of the infidel Emperor Maximianus, who heard about the saint and his worship of Christ. He sent for him to appear in his court and tried to entice him with money to leave the worship of Christ and to worship idols. The saint mocked the Emperor's words and despised his gifts, belittling his threats of tortures.

The emperor, exceedingly enraged, ordered him to be hung on a hobby-horse and his body to be pressed and pinned, then to be cast in a boiling oil bath. Through it all, the saint was persevering, and Christ strengthened him and healed him.

When the emperor was weary of inflicting pain upon him, he ordered Lawindianus to be beheaded, and the saint was rewarded with a crown of martyrdom. Many miracles appeared through his body. The word went out about him in all Syria, and several churches and monasteries were built in his name.

Glory be to God forever. Amen.