St. Leonides Bishop of Athens icon

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Orthodox icon of Saint Leonides or Leonidas, Bishop of Athens.

Commemorated April 15th.

Saint Leonides or Leonidas was the Bishop of Athens and a martyr of the church. He  was martyred in the year 250. 

He lived in the third century and was martyred along with seven other women (Harissa, Nike, Galini, Callida, Nunechia, Vasilissa, Theodora).

Originally from the area of Troizina, he operated in the area of Epidaurus. He developed a close spiritual bond with seven women, a bond that we do not know exactly when it began, however, some evidence that exists testifies to this sacred relationship. In 1833 the then vicar of the community, priest Nikolaos Natsoulis, built a church in honor and glory of Saint Leonides.

In Athens there is an early Christian church (crypt) in the name of Agios Leonides behind the pillars of Olympian Zeus.

Martyrdom and the finding of the relics.

On Great Saturday of the year 250, Saint Leonides and his escort of seven women were taken to Corinth, to the ruler Anthypatus Venustos. He asks them to deny their faith in order to be saved. But no one accepted to convert.

Thus they were sentenced to death. Saint Leonides was hanged after first being tortured. Then his body, together with the seven women, was driven into the sea. There, after tying them with stones, they threw them into the seabed, one day before Easter. Christians of Epidaurus, who watched from a distance the dramatic moments of the Saint and the seven Holy women, gathered the dead bodies and buried them.

In 1916, after continuous dreams, pious residents of Epidaurus, searched and found "hidden treasure" under the foundations of the ruins of the holy church of the Most Holy Theotokos. When they finally dug at the indicated spot, they found a holy icon of the Virgin Mary and then at a depth of 70 centimeters, they found seven skeletons that turned out to be women. At the same time, a stone slab was presented which after being moved revealed a male skeleton which testified that this man had suffered strangulation while a fragrance was emerging from the grave.