Commemorated on November 3rd
Sts Acepsimas the Bishop, Joseph the Presbyter, and Aeithalas the Deacon, Martyrs of Persia
Martyrs Acepsimas the Bishop, Joseph the Presbyter and Haiphal the Deacon of Persia were leaders of the Christian Church in the Persian city of Naesson. His flock devotedly loved their hierarch for his ascetic life and tireless pastoral work. The emperor Sapor ordered his men to seek out and kill Christian clergy. St. Acepsimas also was arrested, even though he was already an 80 year-old man. They Acepsimas him to the city of Arbela, where he came before the judge Ardarkh, a pagan priest of the sun god. The holy Elder refused to offer sacrifice to the Persian gods. For this, he was fiercely beaten and thrown into prison, where on the following day the 70-year-old Presbyter Joseph and Deacon Aeithalas were severely beaten and thrown into jail with him. For three years, the Saints were held in confinement, and suffered from hunger and thirst.
Emperor Sapor came to the temple of the god of fire, located not far from Arbela, and wanted to look at the three holy martyrs. Exhausted and covered with festering wounds, the saints were brought before the emperor. When he asked them to worship the pagan gods they firmly refused, confessing their faith in Christ instead. The holy Bishop was beheaded, but the Presbyter and Deacon were taken into the city to be stoned.
The execution of Presbyter Joseph was prolonged for several hours. A guard was placed near the place of execution, so that Christians would not take the body of the holy martyr. On the fourth night, a strong windstorm raged near the city, lightning killed the guard, the wind tossed stones about, and the body of St. Joseph disappeared.
Deacon Aeithalas was taken to the village of Patrias, where he was stoned. Christians secretly buried his body. A tree grew on the saint's grave, and its fruit brought healings.
Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)
Your Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for You received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from You, our immortal God. For since they possessed Your strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' powerless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since You are merciful.
Kontakion (Second Tone)
The Mysteries of Christ you venerably celebrated, becoming a sacrifice that He received; for the cup of Christ you drank in glory, O wise Acepsimas, with thy fellow athletes, O Saint, and ceaselessly pray Christ for all of us.