Martyrs Hermylus and Stratonicus; St. James the Bishop of Nisibis

1. The Holy Martyrs Hermylus and Stratonicus, Slavs by origin, lived at the beginning of the fourth century during a persecution against Christians by the emperor Licinius (311-324). Saint Hermylus served as deacon in the city of Singidunum (Belgrade). Condemned by Licinius to imprisonment, he was long and cruelly tortured for Christ, but he remained unyielding.

Hermylus mocked the pagan gods, calling them deaf, dumb, and blind idols. In anger Licinius ordered more severe torments for him, saying that he could avoid them if he would offer sacrifice. The holy martyr predicted that Licinius would suffer terrible wounds himself because he worshiped idols instead of the Creator. His words came true, for Licinius was killed in 324.

After three days Hermylus was brought before the tribunal again and asked whether he would avoid more torture by offering sacrifice. The saint replied that he would offer worship and sacrifice only to the true God.

Saint Hermylus prayed that the Lord would give him strength to endure his torments and triumph over the pagans. A voice was heard saying, “Hermylus, you will be delivered from your suffering in three days, and will receive a great reward.” The torturers fell to the ground in fear, and took the saint back to prison.

Saint Stratonicus was one of the prison guards and a secret Christian. Seeing the agonizing torments of his friend, he was unable to keep from weeping, and he revealed that he was a Christian. They also subjected him to punishment.

After the torture, they put both martyrs into a net and threw them into the Danube. On the third day, the bodies of the saints were found by Christians on the bank of the river and buried near Singidunum. Their venerable heads were in the Church of Hagia Sophia, where the Russian pilgrim Anthony saw them in the year 1200.

2. Saint James, Bishop of Nisibis, was the son of prince Gefal (Armenia) and received a fine upbringing. From the time of his youth he loved solitude, and for a long time he lived in the mountains around about the city of Niziba (on the border of the Persian and Roman Empires), where he carried out strict ascetic exploits: he lived under the open sky, fed himself with tree fruits and greens, and dressed himself in goat-skins. The monk passed all this time in prayerful conversations with God.

During a persecution by the emperor Maximian (284-305)he was glorified by a courageous confession of faith. Because of his strict and pious life the inhabitants of Nisibis chose him as their bishop (no later than the year 314). Saint James was glorified by his ardent zeal for the Orthodox Faith, by great miracles and by the gift of clairvoyance. By his prayers Nisibis was saved from an invasion by Sapor, the emperor of Persia.

Saint James, among the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, was one of the prominent defenders of the Orthodox Faith. A wise and educated pastor, he constructed a public school at Nisibis, in which he himself was an instructor. He made a strong impression on the hearts of his listeners by the high morality of his life.

Saint Gregory, bishop of great Armenia, turned to him with a request to write about the faith, and the Nisibis pastor sent to him by way of reply a detailed Discourse (18 Chapters): about the faith, about love, fasting, prayer, spiritual warfare, the resurrection of the dead, the duties of pastors, about circumcision against the Jews, about the choice of foods, about Christ as the Son of God, and so on. His composition distinguishes itself by its persuasive clear exposition and warmth.

Saint James died peacefully in about the year 350.

Tr by oca.org

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