Commemorated on December 28
Holy 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia: At
the beginning of the IV Century the emperor Maximian (284-305) gave orders to
destroy Christian churches, to burn Divine-service books, and to deprive all
Christians of rights and offices of citizenship. At this time the bishop of the
city of Nicomedia was Saint Cyril, who by his preaching and life contributed to
the spread of the Christian faith, such that many of the dignitaries of the
emperor were themselves secretly Christian.
the Nicomedia court of the emperor lived the pagan-priestess, Domna. In the
absence of Maximian she read through the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles
of the Apostle Paul. Her heart burned with the desire to become acquainted with
the Christian teaching. With the help of some young Christian, Domna went
secretly to the bishop, Cyril, in the company of a faithful servant, the eunuch
Indysos. Saint Cyril catechised them, and afterwards both received holy
Baptism. Domna began to help the poor: she distributed her valuables with the
assistance of Indysos, and she distributed also food from the imperial kitchen.
Having learned about the unusual manner of life of Domna and Indysos, the head
of the eunuchs – who was in charge of the imperial table, locked up both of
them to exhaust them with hunger, but they received support from an Angel and
did not suffer. In order to no longer live amidst the pagans, Saint Domna
feigned insanity. Then she and Indysos managed to leave the court, and she went
to the women's monastery of the hegumeness Agathia. The hegumeness quickly
dressed her in men's clothing, cut her hair and sent her off from the monastery.
this time the emperor happened to return and gave orders to seek out everywhere
for the former pagan-priestess Domna. The soldiers dispatched for this purpose
found the monastery and destroyed it. The sisters were thrown into prison,
subjected to torture and abuse, but not one of them suffered violation. Sent
off to an house of iniquity, Saint Theophila with the help of an Angel of the
Lord there also preserved her virginity: the Angel removed her from the
this time the emperor set up in the city square an offering of sacrifice to the
pagan gods. When they began sprinkling the crowd with the blood of the
sacrificial animals, Christians started to leave the square. Seeing this, the
emperor became enraged, but he did not give vent to his anger, since suddenly
the earth quaked. A certain while later Maximian having located the church
entered it and demanded a renunciation of Christ from all; for refusal he
promised to burn the church and kill its Christians. The Christian presbyter
Glykerios answered him, that Christians never renounce their faith, even under
the threat of torture. Hiding his anger, the emperor exited the church, and
after a certain while commanded the presbyter Glykerios be arrested for trial.
The executioners tortured the martyr, who ceased not to pray and to call on the
Name of the Lord. Not being able to wring a renunciation of Christ out of Saint
Glykerios, Maximian ordered him to be burned to death.
the feastday of the Nativity of Christ in the year 302, when about 20,000
Christians had assembled at the Nicomedia cathedral church, the emperor sent
into the church an herald – who proclaimed the emperor's command to exit the
church and offer sacrifice to idols; otherwise, he threatened to burn the
church together with those praying in it. But all those present refused to
worship idols. While the tormentors prepared to set fire to the church, Bishop
Anthymos (Comm. 3 September; a related account is under this day), having
completed Divine-services, baptised all the catechumens and communed all with
the Holy Mysteries. All 20,000 of those praying died in the fire. Among them
were the hegumeness Agathia and Saint Theophila who had been saved by a miracle
from the den of iniquity. Bishop Anthymos however managed to escape the fire.
reckoned that he had finished off all the Christians of Nicomedia. But he soon
learned that there were many more, and that they all as before would confess
their faith and were prepared to die for Christ. The emperor pondered over how
to deal with them. By his command they arrested the regimental-commander Zinon,
who openly before the people was criticising the emperor for impiety and
cruelty. Zinon was fiercely beaten and finally beheaded. They locked up in
prison the eunuch Indysos, formerly a priest to idols, for his refusal to
participate in a pagan feastday.
all this, Saint Domna concealed herself within a cave and nourished herself
eating plants. The persecution against Christians continued. In the locale
elsewhere, in Italy, there were thrown into prison Dorotheus, Mardonius,
Migdonius the Deacon and some dignitaries. Bishop Anthymos encouraged them,
sending epistles to them. One of the messengers, the deacon Theophilos, was
captured. Interrogating him about the bishop, they subjected him to torture,
but the holy martyr endured all the tortures, revealing nothing. Then together
with him they executed those, whom the bishop had addressed in his letter.
Saint Domna returned to the city, she cried for a long time at the burnt-out
ruins, regretting that she was not found worthy to die with her sisters. Then
she went along the sea shore. At that moment fishermen pulled out of the water
with their nets the bodies of the martyrs Indysos, Gorgonios and Peter. Saint
Domna was still dressed in men's clothing, and she helped the fishermen to draw
in their nets. They left her the bodies of the martyrs. With reverence she
looked after the holy remains; in particular, she was gladdened that she saw
the body of her spiritual friend – the Martyr Indysos. After the burial, she
did not depart these graves so dear to her heart, but daily made incensing
before them. When the emperor was told about an unknown youth who paid respects
at the graves of executed Christians, he gave orders to behead the youth.
Together with Domna was executed also the Martyr Euthymios.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.