March 6 (old calendar) / March 19 (new)
The 42 Martyrs of Ammoria in Phrygia, including: Constantine, Aetitus, Theophilus, Theodore, Melissenus, Callistus, Basoës and others (ca. 845). The Uncovering of the Precious Cross and the Precious Nails by Empress St. Helen (Elena) in Jerusalem (326). Monk Martyrs Conon and his son, Conon, of Iconium (270-275). Ven. Arcadius of Cyprus (4th c.).
The 42 Martyrs of Ammoria
The Holy 42 Martyrs of Ammoria: Constantine, Aetius (Aetitus), Theophilus, Theodore, Melissenus, Callistus, Basoes and the others with them. During a war between the Byzantine Emperor Theophilus (829-842) and the Saracens, the Saracens managed to besiege the city of Ammoria (in Galicia in Asia Minor). As a result of treason on the part of the military commander Baditses, Ammoria fell, and forty-two of its generals were taken captive and sent off to Syria.
During the seven years of their imprisonment, their captors tried in vain to persuade them to renounce Christianity and accept Islam. The captives stubbornly resisted all their seductive offers and bravely held out against terrible threats. After many torments that failed to break the spirit of the Christian soldiers, they condemned them to death, hoping to shake the determination of the saints before executing them. The martyrs remained steadfast, saying that the Old Testament Prophets bore witness to Christ, while Mohammed called himself a prophet without any other witnesses to support his claim.
One of the captives, Theodore, had renounced the priestly office to become a general. His captors taunted him, “We know that you forsook the priestly office, became a soldier and shed blood in battle. You can have no hope in Christ, Whom you abandoned voluntarily, so accept Mohammed.” But the martyr replied, “You do not speak truthfully when you say that I abandoned Christ. Moreover, I left the priesthood because of my own unworthiness. Therefore, I must shed my blood for the sake of Christ, so that He might forgive the sins that I have committed against Him.”
The executioners took each one separately and led him off to be beheaded, then threw the bodies into the River Euphrates. In the service to them, these holy passion-bearers are glorified as: the “All-Blessed” Theodore, the “Unconquered” Callistus, the “Valliant” Constantine, the “Wondrous” Theophilus and “the Most Strong” Basoes.
The betrayer Baditses did not escape his shameful fate. The enemy knew that it is impossible to trust a traitor, and so they killed him.
Troparion of the saints, tone 4
Your forty-two holy martyrs, O Lord, / through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God. / For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries, / and shattered the powerless boldness of demons. / Through their intercessions, save our souls!
Kontakion of the saints, tone 4
Forty-two holy martyrs of Ammoria, / you contended for the sake of Christ on earth; / you were revealed as crown-bearing martyrs, / and have been received into the life of the joy of heaven. / Since you overthrew all the wiles of the enemy / by your sufferings and the blood of your wounds, / you continually send down from on high remission of sins to those who praise you.
Isaiah 5:7-16 (6th Hour)
- For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are His pleasant plant. He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; for righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.
- Woe to those who join house to house; they add field to field, till there is no place where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land!
- In my hearing the Lord of hosts said, “Truly, many houses shall be desolate, great and beautiful ones, without inhabitant.
- For ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and a homer of seed shall yield one ephah.”
- Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may follow intoxicating drink; who continue until night, till wine inflames them!
- The harp and the strings, the tambourine and flute, and wine are in their feasts; but they do not regard the work of the Lord, nor consider the operation of His hands.
- Therefore my people have gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge; their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
- Therefore Sheol has enlarged itself and opened its mouth beyond measure; their glory and their multitude and their pomp, and he who is jubilant, shall descend into it.
- People shall be brought down, each man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled.
- But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God who is holy shall be hallowed in righteousness.
Genesis 4:8-15 (Vespers, 1st reading)
- Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
- Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
- And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.
- So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.
- When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.”
- And Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear!
- Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.”
- And the Lord said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.
Proverbs 5:1-15 (Vespers, 2nd reading)
- My son, pay attention to my wisdom; lend your ear to my understanding,
- that you may preserve discretion, and your lips may keep knowledge.
- For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil;
- but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.
- Her feet go down to death, her steps lay hold of hell.
- Lest you ponder her path of life – her ways are unstable; you do not know them.
- Therefore hear me now, my children, and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
- Remove your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house,
- lest you give your honor to others, and your years to the cruel one;
- lest aliens be filled with your wealth, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner;
- and you mourn at last, when your flesh and your body are consumed,
- and say: “How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised correction!”
- I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me!
- I was on the verge of total ruin, in the midst of the assembly and congregation.”
- Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well.