The Holy Martyrs Terence (Terentius), Africanus, Maximus, Pompeius (Pompilius) And Thirty-Six Others With Them They all suffered for Christ and were crowned with wreaths of glory during the reign of Emperor Decius. By order of the emperor, the governor of Africa announced to the people that everyone had to offer sacrifices to the idols. Those who resisted, the governor threatened with cruel tortures. Upon hearing about these threats, many fell away from the Faith and worshipped the idols. However, these forty remained unwavering in their faith and were subjected to torture. St. Terence encouraged his companions, saying: “Brothers, let us be on guard that we do not deny Christ our God, lest He deny us before His Heavenly Father and the holy angels.” The governor divided them into two groups. Thirty- six of them, after being flogged and having their skin scraped and salt poured into their open wounds, were all beheaded. The first four were cast into prison with heavy iron chains around their necks, hands and feet. An angel of God appeared in the prison and touched the chains of the shackled men, and the chains fell off. After that, the angel prepared a bountiful table for them and fed them. Once again, they were brought out and tortured, and again they were imprisoned. Then the governor ordered the soothsayers to gather as many poisonous, loathsome creatures as possible, such as snakes and scorpions, and to lock them up in the same cell with the martyrs. The loathsome creatures did not touch the God-pleasers, but rather lay huddled in the corner, where they remained for three days. On the third day, when the door of the cell was opened, the repulsive creatures rushed out and bit the soothsayers. Finally, the governor pronounced the death penalty upon the four martyrs. When they were brought out to be beheaded, they joyfully chanted psalms and praised God, Who had vouchsafed them a martyr’s death. They suffered honorably in the year 250 A.D., and were found worthy of the Kingdom.
The Six Thousand Martyrs In Georgia In the desert of St. David of Garesja in Georgia, there were twelve monasteries, in which many monks lived the ascetic life for centuries. In 1615 A.D., the king of Persia, Shah Abbas I, attacked Georgia, devasted it and beheaded many Christians. Once, while hunting early in the morning on the Feast of the Resurrection, Shah Abbas noticed many lights in the mountains. They were the monks from the twelve monasteries, in procession around the Church of the Resurrection with lighted tapers in hand. When the Shah discovered that they were monks, he asked in amazement: “Has not all of Georgia been given over to the sword?” He then ordered his solders to immediately behead all the monks. At that moment, an angel of God appeared to Abbot Arsenius and informed him of their impending death. Arsenius informed his brethren. They all received the All-pure Mysteries (Communion) and prepared themselves for death. Suddenly, the assailants arrived and cut to pieces first the abbot, who was the first to come out, and then the rest. They all suffered honorably and were crowned with incorruptible wreaths in the year 1615 A.D. Thus ended the history of these famous monasteries, which, for more than a thousand years, had served as the spiritual hearth of enlightenment for the Georgians. Only two of the monasteries exist today: St. David and St. John the Forerunner. The Georgian King Archil gathered the relics of the monks and honorably interred them. Even today, these relics emit a sweet-smelling myrrh (oil) and heal the sick.
Hymn Of Praise The Six Thousand Martyrs Of Georgia Six thousand God-pleasers Rejoicing in the glorious Resurrection; Six thousand human hearts, A whole flock of innocent lambs! With tapers they processed around the church, Singing sweet hymns to the Resurrection, Until a terrible wolf, from the midnight darkness, Attacked together with his hungry pack, To slaughter the innocent lambs. Yet these were not lambs, but shepherds Of the suffering Georgian race: Saints and enlighteners, All monks, wonderful ascetics. Arsenius foresaw death for all, And spoke thus to the monks: “Brethren of mine, sons of Georgia, The hour has come to drink of the cup, The sweet cup of suffering for Christ. Behold, the wolves rush through the mountains. Faster, brethren, let us rush to All-pure Communion, And then to a baptism of blood! Repent for yourselves and for the people, And direct all your thoughts to God. Forgive those who have done you wrong: For us the gates of Paradise are opening– Let every brother forgive his brother. Christ is Risen–that we may resurrect. We are faithful to Him unto death!”
Reflection When a man detaches his mind from earth and opens it toward God with the desire to please Him, then God reveals His will in various ways. St. Peter of Damascus writes: “If a man has a full intention to please God, then God teaches him His will either through thoughts, through some other person, or through Holy Scripture.” Such a man becomes attentive and keen, and awaits God’s promptings from within and from without. For him, chance ceases to exist. The whole world becomes as a ten-stringed harp, which does not give out a single sound without the finger of God.
Contemplation Contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:
- How He appeared to two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus, and they did not recognize Him;
- How the hearts of these two disciples burned within them when He spoke to them, and how they recognized Him only when He blessed and broke bread for them;
- How the Lord suddenly disappeared before their eyes.
Homily on living hope “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Brethren, who has dead hope and who has living hope? He who hopes in dead things has a dead hope. He who hopes in the Living God has a living hope. Further, he who hopes in himself and in other people has a dead hope. He who hopes in the Living God has a living hope. Further, he who hopes in luck and well-being in this brief earthly existence, and who does not extend his hope beyond the grave has a dead hope. He who hopes in the resurrection and eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven has a living hope. Truly, a living hope is better than a dead hope; as life is better than death; as light is better than darkness; as health is better than sickness; as understanding is better than ignorance. But Who brought and showed man that living hope–Who and how? The Apostle Peter gives an answer to that question: Our Lord Jesus Christ, by His Resurrection from the dead. No one else but the Lord Jesus Christ and by nothing else than His Resurrection from the dead. By His Resurrection, the Lord gave wings to the pathetic hopes of man and extended those hopes beyond the grave, showing man the goal and purpose and fruit beyond the grave. All of this is confirmed not by a credulous man, but by an apostle who wavered for a long while in his faith and who denied Christ three times. That is why St. Peter’s testimony of the resurrected Lord and the significance of His Resurrection is inexpressibly priceless for us. O resurrected Lord, Thou Victor over death, uproot from us dead hope, and plant a living hope in us through the prayers of St. Peter, Thy great apostle. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.