The Forty-five Martyrs of the Armenian City of Nicopolis suffered during the reign of the emperor Licinius (311-324 AD), then a coregent with Constantine the Great. Licinius fiercely persecuted Christians and in his Eastern half of the Empire he issued an edict to put to death anyone who would not consent to return to paganism. When the persecutions began at Nicopolis, more than forty of the persecuted of Christ decided to appear voluntarily before their persecutors, to confess openly their faith in the Son of God and accept martyrdom. The holy confessors were headed by Leontius, Mauricius, Daniel, Anthony, and Alexander, and were distinguished by their virtuous life.
The procurator of the Armenian district, Licius, before whom the holy confessors presented themselves, was amazed at the directness and bravery of those who voluntarily doomed themselves to torture and death. He tried to persuade them to renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, but the saints remained steadfast They refuted all the arguments of the governor, pointing out to him all the falseness of faith in the vile and vice-filled pagan gods, leading those that worship them to ruin. The procurator gave orders to beat the confessors about the face with stones, and then shackle and imprison them.
In prison the saints rejoiced and sang the Psalms of David. St Leontius inspired and encouraged the brethren, preparing them to accept new tortures for the true Faith, and telling them of the bravery of all those formerly that had suffered for Christ In the morning, after repeated refusals to offer sacrifice to the idols, the saints were again given over to torture. St Leontius, seeing the intense suffering of the martyrs and worrying that some of them might falter and lose faith, prayed to God that there might be a quick end of the matter for all.
When the holy martyrs sang Psalms at midnight, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to them, and the prison blazed with light. The angel declared to the martyrs that their contest was near its end, and their names already were inscribed in Heaven. Two of the prison guards, Meneus and Virilades, saw what was happening and believed in Christ On the following morning, the governor decided to put the martyrs of Christ to death. After beastly tortures, they burned them in a fire, and threw their bones in a river. Pious people found the relics, gathered them up, and saved them. Later on, when freedom had been given to the Church of Christ, a church was built on this spot in the name of the holy 45 Martyrs.
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 (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)
For love of Christ our God, you endured many torments valiantly, destroying polytheistic idolatry, O Martyrs of Nikopolis; and by Christ’s mighty power, you destroyed all the error of wicked godlessness. Teach us with faith and boldness to cry aloud: Alleluia.
Deposition of the Precious Robe of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Moscow
After the Crucifixion of our Lord, His most precious robe was obtained by lot by a certain Elioz, a Georgian soldier who took part in the execution. He in turn brought it to Georgia where it remained until that land was overrun by the Persians. Shah Abbas, seeking to establish good relations with Tsar Michael Feodorovich, sent the Robe to Moscow as a gift for the Tsar and Patriarch Philaret. This took place in March of 1625, and was appointed to be celebrated on this day in July.
Apolytikion of Robe of Christ in Moscow in the Fourth Tone
On this day let us the faithful run to the divine and healing robe of our Saviour and God, Who was pleased to wear our flesh and pour out His holy Blood on the Cross, whereby He hath redeemed us from slavery to the enemy. Wherefore, we thankfully cry to Him: By Thy precious robe save and defend Orthodox Christians, and bishops, and cities, and all men everywhere, and save our souls, for Thou art the Friend of man.
Kontakion of Robe of Christ in Moscow in the Fourth Tone
Thou hast bestowed upon all men, O Master, Thy precious robe as a divine treasure, as a garment of incorruption, healing, and salvation, for thereby wast Thou pleased to clothe the holy and life-giving flesh of Thine Incarnation. Receiving this relic with faith, we joyfully celebrate this glorious occasion, and praising Thee with fear and love as our Benefactor, we cry to Thee, O Christ: In Thy great mercy, keep Orthodox Christians and their pastors and all Thy people in peace.
Righteous Father Anthony of the Kiev Caves
Saint Anthony, who was born in the province of Chernigov, was tonsured in the Monastery of Esphigmenou on the Holy Mountain, Athos, from whence he was sent by his abbot to Kiev to plant the monastic life in 1013, two years before the death of Saint Vladimir, Great Prince of Kiev. Dwelling at first as a hermit, the Saint gradually drew to himself others wishing to emulate his way of life. When the number of the brethren grew, a wooden church in honour of the Dormition of the Theotokos was built, thus laying the foundation of what was to become the renowned Kiev Caves Lavra. Refusing the abbotship, Saint Anthony entrusted this to his disciples, first to the blessed Barlaam, then to Saint Theodosius (See May 3), and his whole life struggled as a cave-dwelling hermit. He reposed in peace in 1073 at the age of ninety.
Apolytikion of Anthony of the Kiev Caves in the Fourth Tone
Having left the turmoil of the world, thou didst follow Christ according to the Gospel by renouncing the world; and having lived a life equal to the Angels, thou didst attain to the quiet haven of Holy Mount Athos. Thence, with the blessing of the fathers, thou camest to the mountain of Kiev, and living there an arduous life, thou didst illumine thy fatherland. And showing a multitude of monastics the path that leadeth to the Heavenly Kingdom, thou didst bring them to Christ. Pray to Him, O Saint Anthony, that He save our souls.
Kontakion of Anthony of the Kiev Caves in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Surrendering thyself to God Whom thou didst love from thy youth above all, O Saint, thou didst lovingly follow Him with thy whole soul. And counting the material things of the world as a vanity, thou didst make a cave in the earth, where thou didst fight the good fight against the wiles of the invisible enemy, and like a brilliant sun thou didst illumine all the ends of the earth. Thence thou didst pass rejoicing to the heavenly palaces. And now as thou standest with the Angels before the Master’s throne, remember us who honour thy memory, that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, O Anthony our Father.
We Also Celebrate Today:
Our Holy Father Gregory, Bishop of Assa
10,000 Fathers martyred in Egypt
Apollonios the Martyr
Parthenios and Eumenios of Koudoumas