The martyr Syra lived during the sixth century in Persia and was the daughter of an illustrious pagan priest of the fire-worshippers (i.e. Zoroastrians) from Karkh-Seleucia in Elimiade (Abizarde). Syrau2019s father, fearing the influence of Christianity on his daughter, sent her to the city of Tharsis after the death of her mother to be educated as a pagan priestess. Syra became a priestess at the heathen temple of fire, and occupied herself with honorable activity.
But once, after speaking with some Christian beggars, Syra believed in Christ the Savior and began to live as a Christian. She began to learn prayers and Psalms, to fast and to read Christian books. Syra once fell ill. She was not able to find a remedy for her sickness, so she went to the Christian church and asked the priest only to give her some of the ashes from the church, hoping to receive healing from them. The priest, knowing Syra to be a servitor of idols, refused her request.
Syra was not angered, recognizing her own unworthiness, but with faith she touched the robe of the priest, as the woman with the issue of blood once touched the robe of the Savior (Mt. 9: 20-22). She immediately received healing and she returned home healed. Syra's family began to suspect that she wanted to accept Christianity, and they asked Syra's stepmother to persuade her to abandon this intention. The stepmother, pretending that she herself was a secret Christian, talked sweetly with Syra, telling her to keep her faith secret. She also told Syra to continue to serve the fire outwardly, so she would not fall away from Christ altogether by being subjected to torture.
Syra began to hesitate about accepting Baptism, but when she saw a vision in her sleep about the desolate fate which befell her mother after her death, and about the luminous abodes foreordained for Christians, she made up her mind and went to the bishop, asking him to baptize her. The bishop declined to fulfill her request, fearing to give the pagan priests a reason for persecuting Christians. Besides this, he thought that Syra, fearing her fatheru2019s wrath, would deny Christ. The bishop advised her first to openly confess her faith in the Savior before her kinsfolk.
Once during the morning sacrifice, St Syra was stoking the priestly fire worshipped by the Persians as their god, and overturning the sacrifice she proclaimed loudly: I am a Christian and reject false gods and I believe in the True God! The father beat his daughter until he became exhausted, and then threw her in prison. With tears and entreaties he urged her to return to her former faith, but Syra was unyielding. The father then denounced her to the pagan high priest, and afterwards to the governor and to the emperor Chozroes the Elder. They tortured the holy maiden for a long time in prison, but the Lord strengthened her, and she stood firmly on her faith in Christ.
After she bribed the prison guard, St Syra went to the bishop and received Baptism. The Lord granted St Syra the gift of wonderworking. When the Persians gave the martyr over for the leering of impious men, they began to jeer at the saint, saying: What's the fable told about you, that the chains fall from your neck, hands and legs by themselves? Let us see now how the chains fall off! St Syra prayed in the depths of her heart to the Savior, and immediately the chains fell from her. And this was not the only time. Succumbing to her tortures, St Syra fell deathly ill. She began to entreat the Lord that He not permit her to die from the illness, but rather to grant her a martyr's crown.
The Lord heard her and granted healing. Seeing the martyr healed, the prison guard and jail warden went to dishonor the holy maiden, but the Lord struck one with illness and the other one was struck dead. The martyr was condemned to be stranded. They conducted the execution with refined cruelty. After a while they left go of the rope, asking the saint whether she wanted to change her mind and remain among the living. But the martyr, barely alive, refused and requested the execution be done quickly. The body of the saint was thrown to dogs to be devoured, but they would not touch it. Christians then buried the body of St Syra.
Reference: Orthodox Antiochian Church
Orthodox icon of Saint Sebastian Martyr of Rome.
Commemorated December 18th.
The Holy Martyr Sebastian was a valued soldier having the position of head of the imperial guards. He was a secret Christian, not out of fear, but so that he could provide help to the brethren in a time of persecution. The noble Christian brothers Marcellinus and Mark had been locked up in prison, and at first they firmly confessed the true Faith. But under the influence of the tearful entreaties of their pagan parents (Tranquillinus and Marcia), and also their own wives and children, they began to waver in their intent to suffer for Christ.
So St Sebastian persuaded the brothers to go through with their act of martyrdom. He healed Zoe, the wife of the jailer Nicostratus, had lost her ability to speak six years previousl. Then all who saw the miracle also came to believe in the Savior of the world. Nicostratus removed the chains from Marcellinus and Mark and offered to hide them, but the brothers refused. Then Claudius informed Nicostratus that the Roman eparch Arestius Chromatus wanted to know why the prisoners were gathered at his house.
Nicostratus told Claudius about the healing of his wife, and Claudius brought his own sick sons, Symphorian and Felix to St Sebastian. In the evening the priest Polycarp baptized Tranquillinus with his relatives and friends, and Nicostratus and all his family, Claudius and his sons, and also sixteen condemned prisoners.
The newly-baptized numbered 64 in all. Nicostratus was called to account before the eparch Chromatus and told him how St Sebastian had converted them to Christianity and healed many from sickness. The words of Nicostratus persuaded the eparch. He summoned St Sebastian and the presbyter Polycarp, and was enlightened by them, and became a believer in Christ. Nicostratus and Chromatus, his son Tiburtius and all his household accepted holy Baptism.
The number of the newly-enlightened increased to 1400. Upon becoming a Christian, Chromatus resigned his office of eparch. Tiburtius, the son of Chromatus, desired to accept martyrdom and he remained in Rome with St Sebastian. Of those remaining, St Gaius ordained Tranquillinus as a presbyter, and his sons Marcellinus and Mark were ordained deacons. Nicostratus, his wife Zoe and brother Castorius, and Claudius, his son Symphorian and brother Victorinus also remained in Rome. They gathered for divine services at the court of the emperor together with a secret Christian named Castulus, but soon the time came for them to suffer for the Faith.
The pagans arrested St Zoe first, praying at the grave of the Apostle Peter. At the trial she bravely confessed her faith in Christ. She died, hung by her hair. The priest Tranquillinus was the next to suffer: pagans pelted him with stones at the grave of the holy Apostle Peter, and his body was also thrown into the Tiber. Sts Nicostratus, Castorius, Claudius, Victorinus and Symphorian were seized at the riverbank, when they were searching for the bodies of the martyrs. They were led to the eparch, and the saints refused his command to offer sacrifice to idols. They tied stones to the necks of the martyrs and then drowned them in the sea. The false Christian Torquatus betrayed St Tiburtius.
When the saint refused to sacrifice to the idols, the judge ordered Tiburtius to walk barefoot on red-hot coals, but the Lord preserved him. Tiburtius walked through the burning coals without feeling the heat. The torturers then beheaded St Tiburtius, and his body was buried by unknown Christians. Torquatus also betrayed the holy Deacons Marcellinus and Mark, and St Castulus (March 26). After torture, they threw Castulus into a pit and buried him alive, but Marcellinus and Mark had their feet nailed to the same tree stump.
They stood all night in prayer, and in the morning they were stabbed with spears. St Sebastian was the last one to be tortured. The emperor Diocletian personally interrogated him, and seeing the determination of the holy martyr, he ordered him taken out of the city, tied to a tree and shot with arrows. Irene, the wife of St Castulus, went at night in order to bury St Sebastian, but found him alive and took him to her home.
St Sebastian soon recovered from his wounds. Christians urged him to leave Rome, but he refused. Coming near a pagan temple, the saint saw the emperors approaching and he publicly denounced them for their impiety. Diocletian ordered the holy martyr to be taken to the Circus Maximus to be executed.
They clubbed St Sebastian to death, and cast his body into the sewer. The holy martyr appeared to a pious woman named Lucina in a vision, and told her to take his body and bury it in the catacombs. This she did with the help of her slaves. Today his basilica stands on the site of his tomb.
Synaxis of All the Saints icon (1)
Orthodox icon of Synaxis of All the Saints.
Comemmorated Sunday after Pentecost.
The Sunday following Pentecost is dedicated to All Saints, both those who are known to us, and those who are known only to God. This feast may have originated at an early date, perhaps as a celebration of all martyrs, then it was broadened to include all men and women who had borne witness to Christ by their virtuous lives, even if they did not shed their blood for Him. The feast of All Saints achieved great prominence in the ninth century, in the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise (886-911).
His wife, the Holy Empress Theophano (December 16) lived in the world, but was not attached to worldly things. She was a great benefactor to the poor, and was generous to the monasteries. She was a true mother to her subjects, caring for widows and orphans, and consoling the sorrowful. Even before the death of St Theophano in 893 or 894, her husband started to build a church, intending to dedicate it to Theophano, but she forbade him to do so.
It was this emperor who decreed that the Sunday after Pentecost be dedicated to All Saints. Believing that his wife was one of the righteous, he knew that she would also be honored whenever the Feast of All Saints was celebrated.
Synaxis of All the Saints icon (2)
Orthodox icon of the Synaxis of All Saints (2). Contemporary icon.
Synaxis of All the Saints of America icon
Orthodox icon of the Synaxis of All the Saints of North America.
Commemorated July 7th.
The Saints on the left are: Saint Herman, Saint Raphael of Brooklyn, Saint Peter the Aleoutian, Saint Nicholas and Saint John Maximovitch The Saints on the right are: Saint Innocent, Saint Tikhon, Saint Juvenaly and Saint John.
Synaxis of All the Saints of Mount Sinai icon.
Orthodox icon of the Synaxis, council of all the Saints of Mount Sinai.
Commemorated on the Bright Wednesday.
Synaxis of the all the Holy Unmercenaries icon.
Orthodox icon of all the Unmercemeries Saints of the Orthodox Church.
The Holy Unmerceneries Saints are: - Saints Kosmas and Damian of Asia Minor (Commemorated November 1st) - Saints Kosmas and Damian of Rome (Commemorated July 1st) - Saints Kosmas, Leondios, Anthimos and Eutropios of Arabia (Commemorated October 17th) - Saints Cyrus or Kyros and John (Commemorated January 31st) - Saint Tryphon (Commemorated February 1st) - Saint Julianos (Commemorated Febryary 6th) - Saint Mikios (Commemorated May 11th) - Saint Thallaleos (Commemorated May 20th) - Saint Sampson the Innkeeper (Commemorated June 27th) - Saint Ermolaos (Commemorated July 27th) - Saint Panteleimon the Great Martyr (Commemorated July 27th) - Saints Anikitos and Photios (Commemorated August 12th) - Saint Diomedis (Commemorated August 16th)