May 17: Orthodox saints

Disciple Andronicus from the 70, and Saint Junia [June] (I)

Martyred Soldiers Solokhon, Pamphamyros and Pamphalon (+284-305)

Sainted Stephen, Patriarch of Constantinople (+893)

The Holy Disciple from the 70 Andronicus and his helper in apostolic works, Saint Junia [June], were relatives of the holy Apostle Paul. They laboured much, preaching the Gospel to pagans, about which the Apostle Paul makes mention in his Epistle to the Romans: "Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsfolk and prisoners with me, acknowledged amongst the Apostles and having still before me believed in Christ" (Rom 16:7). Saint Andronicus was ordained bishop of Pannonia, but the preaching took Saint Junia and him also to other lands, far from the boundaries of his diocese. By the efforts of Saints Andronicus and Junia the Church of Christ was strengthened, pagans were converted to the knowledge of God, many pagan temples ceased functioning, and in their place were erected Christian churches. From the service in honour of these saints it is known, that they suffered martyrdom for the Name of Christ.

In the V Century, during the reign of the emperors Arcadius and Honorius, their holy relics were uncovered on the outskirts of Constantinople together with the relics of other martyrs "at the Eugenius gate" (commemorated 22 February).

It was revealed to the pious cleric Nicholas Kalligraphos that among these 17 martyrs were also the relics of the holy Disciple Andronicus. Afterwards on this spot was built a magnificent church.

The Holy Martyrs Solokhon, Pamphamyros and Pamphalon: The holy Martyr Solokhon, a native Egyptian, suffered for Christ during the reign of the emperor Maximian (284-305). The holy Martyrs Pamphamyros and Pamphalon also at the same time accepted death for Christ together with him. All of them served in the imperial armies in the regiment of the tribune Campanus. During the time of persecution against Christians by the emperors Maximian and Diocletian, Campanus with his soldiers was sent to the city of Chalcedon. All the soldiers of his regiment were required to offer sacrifice in an idolous pagan temple there. The three soldiers -- Saints Solokhon, Pamphamyros and Pamphalon -- refused to offer sacrifice to idols explaining that they worship only the True God, the Lord Jesus Christ. On the orders of Campanus they subjected them to terrible tortures, during the time of which the holy Martyrs Pamphamyros and Pamphalon died. Saint Solokhon survived the torture and remained alive, glorifying Christ. The torturer in great anger gave orders to open the mouth of Saint Solokhon and pour in it by force the idol-worship blood. But Saint Solokhon so strongly clenched his teeth, that they were not able to open them even with iron, the sword bent, and the saint broke his bonds and stood before the torturer, continuing to glorify Christ. There was a voice from the heavens to Saint Solokhon, encouraging him to endure to the end. At the command of the torturer they subjected the saint to a merciless beating, after which they dragged the bruised man over sharp stones, demanding a renunciation of Christ, but the holy martyr remained steadfast. Then it was commanded to hang him up by one hand, and to his leg tie an heavy weight. In such a position Saint Solokhon hung for about three hours. When finally however they cut the ropes, then to the surprise of everyone Saint Solokhon stood up straight on his feet, like an healthy man. Crazed with anger, Campanus seized a writing-reed and with force thrust it deeply into the ear of the holy martyr. The sufferer fell down, and Campanus and the soldiers departed, having cast him aside. Christians carried the martyr to the house of a certain pious widow and placed him on a cot. The saint partook of food and conversed with the Christians, exhorting them to stand firmly for the faith, and then having prayed and lifted up his eyes to heaven, he gave up his soul to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sainted Stephen, Patriarch of Constantinople, was the younger son of the emperor Basil the Macedonian and was a brother by birth of the emperor Leo the Wise. He received the priestly dignity under the Patriarch Photios. When Patriarch Photios was compelled in the year 886 to resign the patriarchal throne, Saint Stephen was elevated to the Constantinople cathedra-chair. The saint vigilantly stood watch over his spiritual flock, he was merciful and interceded for the defenseless, he concerned himself about widows and orphans, and distinguished himself by extreme temperance. He died peacefully in the year 893 and was buried in the Sikellian monastery.