Holy Great Martyr Euphemia was the daughter of Christians, the senator Philophronos and Theodosia. She suffered for Christ 304 AD in the city of Chalcedon, on the banks of the Bosphorus opposite Constantinople.
Chalcedon governor Priscus circulated an order to all the inhabitants of Chalcedon and its surroundings to appear at a pagan festival to worship and offer sacrifice to an idol of Ares, threatening grave torments for anyone who failed to appear. During this impious festival, 49 Christians including the young maiden Euphemia were hidden in one house, where they secretly attended services to the True God.
The Christians was soon discovered and brought before Priscus to answer for themselves. For nineteen days, the martyrs were subjected to various tortures and torments, but none of them wavered in their faith or consented to offer sacrifice to the idol. The governor was in rage and not knowing any other way of forcing the Christians to abandon their faith, sent them for trial to the emperor Diocletian. He kept the youngest, the virgin Euphemia, hoping that she would not remain strong if she were all alone. St Euphemia, separated from her brethren in faith, fervently prayed the Lord Jesus Christ, that He strengthen her in her impending ordeal. Priscus at first urged the saint to recant, promising her earthly blessings, but then he gave the order to torture her.
The martyr was tied to a wheel with sharp knives, which cut her body. She prayed aloud, and as it happened, the wheel stopped by itself and would not move even with all the efforts of the executioners. An angel of the Lord, came down from Heaven, removed Euphemia from the wheel, and healed her of her wounds. The Saint gave thanks to the Lord with gladness. Not perceiving the miracle that had happened, the torturer ordered the soldiers Victor and Sosthenes to take the Saint to a red-hot oven. However, the soldiers, seeing two fearsome angels in the midst of the flames, refused to carry out the order of the governor and became believers in the God Whom Euphemia worshipped. Boldly proclaiming that they too were Christians, Victor and Sosthenes bravely went to suffering. They were sent to be eaten by wild beasts. During their execution, they cried out for mercy to God, asking that the Lord would receive them into the Heavenly Kingdom. A heavenly Voice answered their cries, and they entered into eternal life. The beasts, however, did not even touch their bodies.
St Euphemia, cast into the fire by other soldiers, remained unharmed. With God’s help, she emerged unharmed after many other tortures and torments. Ascribing this to sorcery, the governor gave orders to dig out a new pit, and filling it with knives; he had it covered over with earth and grass, so that the martyr would not notice the preparation for her execution. Here also St Euphemia remained safe, easily passing over the pit. Finally, they sentenced her to be devoured by wild beasts at the circus. Before execution, the Saint began to implore that the Lord deem her worthy to die a violent death. However, none of the beasts, set loose at her in the arena, attacked her. Finally, one of the she-bears gave her a small wound on the leg, from which came blood, and immediately the holy Great Martyr Euphemia died. During this time, there was an earthquake, and both the guards and the spectators ran in terror, so that the parents of the Saint were able to take up her body and reverently bury it not far from Chalcedon.
Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)
O Lord Jesus, to You Your lamb cries with a great voice, “O my Bridegroom, I love You; and seeking You, I now contest, and with Your baptism am crucified and buried. I suffer for Your sake, that I may reign with You; for Your sake I die, that I may live in You, accept me offered out of longing to You as a spotless sacrifice”. Lord, save our souls through her intercessions, since You are great in mercy.
Kontakion (Fourth Tone)
You strived valiantly in your sacred contest; and even after death, you make us holy with streams of healing, O all-famed Euphemia. For this cause, we venerate your most holy dormition and with faith we stand before your all-venerable relics, that we be freed from illness of the soul and also draw forth the grace of your miracles.
The All-Praised Olga, Equal-to-the-Apostles, Princess of Kiev
Saint Olga, renowned for her wisdom and sobriety, in her youth became the wife of Igor, Great Prince of Kiev, who ruled during the tenth century. After her husband’s death, she herself ruled capably, and was finally moved to accept the Faith of Christ. She traveled to Constantinople to receive Holy Baptism. The Emperor, seeing her outward beauty and inward greatness, asked her to marry him. She said she could not do this before she was baptized; she furthermore asked him to be her Godfather at the font, which he agreed to do. After she was baptized (receiving the name of Helen), the Emperor repeated his proposal of marriage. She answered that now he was her father, through holy Baptism, and that not even among the heathen was it heard of a man marrying his daughter. Gracefully accepting to be outwitted by her, he sent her back to her land with priests and sacred texts and holy icons. Although her son Svyatoslav remained a pagan, she planted the seed of faith in her grandson Vladimir (see July 15). She reposed in peace in 969.
Apolytikion of Olga, Equal to the Apostles in the First Tone
Giving thy mind wings with the knowledge of God, thou didst soar beyond visible creatures, seeking the God and Creator of all things; and having found Him, thou didst receive rebirth by baptism. Since thou dost enjoy the Tree of Life, thou remainest incorrupt for all eternity, O ever-glorious Olga.
Kontakion of Olga, Equal to the Apostles in the Fourth Tone
Let us offer praise to God, our Benefactor, Who hath greatly glorified divinely-wise and ven’rable and sacred Olga, that by her prayers He grant our souls the forgiveness of trespasses.
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Nektarios the New Martyr
Nicodemos the New Martyr of Mt. Athos