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The 40 martyrs of Capadokia

These Cappadocian heroes were officers in the Roman Army, under the leadership of a pagan Lycias. They refused to participate in offering sacrifices to the pagan idols along with their colleagues in Sibstia, in Armenia. And when the governor Agricula questioned them, they confessed that they were Christians. He then ordered them to sacrifice to the pagan gods, promising them high promotions in the army, and threatening them if they do not, that they will be stripped off their Roman Army badges. They answered the governor: “Between serving in the Roman Army and serving Our God Jesus Christ, we’ll happily give up the service under the Roman flag.” Upon that, the governor had them thrown in the prison, and while they were gathering in prayer, the Lord appeared to them and encouraged them to persevere until the end, so that they win the crowns of martyrdom He prepared for them.

The following day, the governor had another attempt trying to convince them to change their minds, but when he could not, he threw them back in the jail. Then, their leader Lycias came trying to get them to worship the pagan gods, and when he touched how firm they are in their faith in Christ, he threatened to fire them from the army. And when one of them, Ktidios answered him: “You might have power to fire us from the Roman Army, but you cannot influence our love for Christ;” which made Lycias angry and ordered them to be stoned on their faces, but they stones were being turned back on the hitters.

Upon that the governor ordered them to be thrown in an icy lake. And they were encouraging each other saying: “we go into the waters 40 people, and 40 martyrs we go to heaven.” However, one of them could not take the severe cold, and run out to the baths, where he fell down dead. This saddened the other 39, who persevered encouraging each others and praying. And suddenly a miraculous light appeared in heaven and angels were seen bringing down some 39 crowns for the martyrs. Upon that scene a solider who was present there, was moved by the God’s grace, and shouted out: “I am Christian”, then jumped into the freezing waters, and gained the crown of martyrdom; which was lost by the poor coward one. Hence the martyrs were again 40 as they desired to be. Their martyrdom was in March 9th 320.

The Eastern Church takes pride in these holy martyrs, and offers them an ideal to follow for her children, especially the young ones, encouraging them to be faithful to Christ’s teaching and persevere until the end in his service, sacrificing for his sake every earthly glory. May their prayers be with us. Amen.