Exodus 18; Psalm 59; Proverbs 12:11·15; Mark 10:32·52
3 John 1:1-15 Luke 19:29-40, 22:7-39
"Theophylact was from the east; his native city is unknown. In Constantinople he became a close friend of Tarasius, who afterwards became Patriarch of Constantinople (see Feb. 25). Theophylact was made Bishop of Nicomedia. After the death of Saint Tarasius, his successor Nicephorus (see June 2) called together a number of Bishops to help him in fighting the iconoclasm of Emperor Leo the Armenian, who reigned from 813 to 820. Among them was Euthymius, Bishop of Sardis (celebrated Dec. 26), who had attended the holy Seventh Ecumenical Council in 787 — he was exiled three times for the sake of the holy icons, and for defying the Emperor Theophilus' command to renounce the veneration of the icons, was scourged from head to foot until his whole body was one great wound, from which he died eight days later, about the year 830; Joseph of Thessalonica (see July 14); Michael of Synnada (see May 23); Emilian, Bishop of Cyzicus (see Aug. 8); and Saint Theophylact, who boldly rebuked Leo to his face, telling him that because he despised the long-suffering of God, utter destruction was about to overtake him, and there would be none to deliver him. For this, Theophylact was exiled to the fortress of Strobilus in Karia of Asia Minor, where after 30 years of imprisonment and hardship, he gave up his holy soul about the year 845. Leo the Armenian, according to the Saint's prophecy, was slain in church on the eve of our Lord's Nativity, in 820." (Great Horologion)
Exodus 17; Psalm 58; Proverbs 12:6·10; Mark 10:1·31
These seven holy Bishops give a vivid picture of the dangers endured by those who traveled to proclaim the Gospel of Christ in the early centuries of the Church. All seven were sent as missionary bishops to Cherson on the Black Sea, and all seven died there as Martyrs. Hermon, Bishop of Jerusalem, first sent Ephraim and Basileus; Basileus raised the son of the prince of Cherson to life, after which many believed and were baptized. The unbelievers, though, bound him by the feet and dragged him through the streets until he died. Ephraim was beheaded when he refused to make sacrifice to the idols. Eugenios, Agathodoros, and Elpidios were then sent by the Bishop of Jerusalem; they were beaten to death with rods and stones. Aetherius was sent during the reign of Constantine the Great, and was able to govern the Church in freedom and peace, and to build a church in Cherson. Capito, the last to be sent, brought the Gospel to the fierce Scythians. To prove the power of his God, they asked him to go into a burning furnace, saying that if he was not consumed, they would believe. Putting all his trust in God, the holy Bishop vested himself, made the sign of the Cross, and entered the furnace. He stood in the flames, fervently praying, for an hour, and came out untouched. The spectators cried out 'There is one God, the great and powerful God of the Christians, who keeps His servant safe in the burning furnace!', and all those in the town and the surrounding countryside were baptized. This miracle was spoken of at the Council of Nicea (325). Later, Scythian unbelievers captured Capito and drowned him in the River Dnieper. The Prologue says that Aetherios ended his life in peace; the Great Horologion, that he was drowned. All these holy missionaries labored around the beginning of the fourth century.
Exodus 16; Psalm 57; Proverbs 12:1·5; Mark 9:30·50
They were taken captive when Amorion in Phrygia fell to the Muslims in 838, during the reign of Emperor Theophilus. Many of them were officers, and because of their status and reputation, their captors, rather than kill them, attempted to convert them to Islam. The forty-two were kept in a miserable dungeon in Syria, where they were alternately promised the highest honors and privileges if they would convert and threatened with the most horrible consequences if they refused. This continued for seven full years, but none would deny his faith in Christ. Finally, unable to shake their faith, their captors beheaded them all in 845.
2 John 1:1-13 Mark 15:22-25, 33-41