The Sunday of the Holy Cross is the Third Sunday of Great Lent, also called Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross. On this Sunday, services includes a special veneration of the Cross, which prepares the faithful for the commemoration of the Crucifixion during Holy Week and the holy Resurrection.
Hieromartyr Basil of Ancyra – Hieromartyr Basil was a presbyter in Ancyra, Galatia. Fighting against the Arian heresy, he urged his flock to cling firmly to Orthodoxy. Because of this Saint Basil was deposed from his priestly rank by a local Arian council, but a Council of 230 bishops in Palestine reinstated him.
Saint Basil openly continued to preach and denounce the Arians. Therefore, he became the victim of persecution and was subjected to punishment as a man dangerous to the state. Two apostates, Elpidios and Pegasios, were ordered to turn Saint Basil from Orthodoxy. The saint remained unshakable, and was again subjected to tortures.
When the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) arrived in the city of Ancyra, Saint Basil bravely confessed Christ before him at the trial, and denounced the emperor for his apostasy. Julian ordered that strips of skin be cut from the saint’s back. Saint Basil endured the gruesome torture with great patience.
When they began to beat his shoulders and stomach with red-hot rods, he fell down upon the ground from the torments and cried out, “O Christ, my Light! O Jesus, my Hope! Quiet Haven from the stormy sea. I thank You, O Lord God of my fathers, that You have snatched my soul from the pit of Hell and preserved Your Name in me unstained! Let me finish my life a victor and inherit eternal life according to the promise You gave my fathers. Now accept my soul in peace, plying steadfast in this confession! For You are merciful and great is Your mercy, You Who live and sojourn throughout all the ages. Amen.”
Having made such prayer, and lacerated all over by the red-hot rods, the saint fell into a sweet slumber, giving up his soul into the hands of God. The Hieromartyr Basil died June 29, 362. His commemoration was transferred to March 22 because of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.
This saint should not be confused with Saint Basil of Ancyra (January 1), a layman.
Martyr Drosis the Daughter of the Emperor Trajan – The Holy Martyr Drosis, together with Five Virgin-Martyrs Agalida, Apollinaria, Daria, Mamthusa and Thais: Saint Drosis was daughter of the emperor Trajan (98-117), a fierce persecutor of Christians. In the year 99 he revived an earlier law which forbade secret gatherings and was indirectly aimed against Christians. In the year 104 he issued a special law against Christians.
Beginning in that year, the persecutions continued until the end of his reign. During this time the bodies of martyred Christians often remained unburied in order to intimidate others. Five Christian virgins: Aglaida, Apolliniaria, Daria, Mamthusa and Thais, took upon themselves the task of burying such Christians.
They secretly gathered up the bodies of martyrs, anointed them with spices, wrapped them in shrouds and buried them. When she learned of this, Drosis, a secret Christian but not yet baptized, asked the holy virgins to take her with them when they went to bury Christians.
On the advice of the court dignitary Adrian, a guard was set over those who had been killed, to arrest anyone who tried to bury them. On the very first night, Saint Drosis and the five virgins were caught. Learning that one of the captives was his own daughter, Trajan gave orders to hold her separately, in the hope that she would change her mind.
The remaining holy virgins were sentenced to burning in a furnace for melting copper. They bravely accepted execution and were granted crowns of martyrdom. The copper, mingled with the ashes of the martyrs, was used to make tripods for a new bath of Trajan.
But as long as these tripods stood in the bath-house, no man was able to enter it. Anyone crossing the threshold fell down dead. When the pagan priests realized why this happened, they advised that the tripods be removed.
Adrian told the emperor to melt the tripods and to make five statues of naked virgins, in the likeness of the Martyrs. Then he said that these statues should be placed before the entrance to the imperial bath. Trajan agreed.
When the statues were set up, the emperor saw in a dream five pure lambs pastured in Paradise, and the Shepherd who said to him, “O most wanton and wicked Caesar! Those whose images you placed there to be mocked have been taken away from you and brought here by the Good and Merciful Pastor. In time your daughter, the pure lamb Drosis, shall also be here.”
When he awoke, Trajan flew into a rage and ordered two huge furnaces to be heated. At the ovens an imperial edict was posted: “You who worship the Crucified, save yourselves many agonies, and spare us also from these labors. Offer sacrifice to the gods. If you do not wish to do this, however, then let each of you voluntarily cast himself into this furnace.” Many Christians willingly went to martyrdom.
When she heard of this, Saint Drosis also decided to endure martyrdom for Christ. In her prison she offered prayers asking the Lord to release her. God heard her prayer, amd the guards fell asleep. Saint Drosis went off to the ovens, but began to wonder: “How can I go to God without a wedding garment (i.e., without being baptized), for I am impure. But, O King of Kings, Lord Jesus Christ, for Your sake I give up my imperial position, so that I may be the lowliest handmaiden in Your Kingdom. Baptize me Yourself with your Holy Spirit.”
After praying in this manner, Saint Drosis anointed herself with myrrh [chrism], which she had taken along with her, and immersing herself in water three times, she said: “the servant of God Drosis is baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
For seven days the saint hid, spending her time in fasting and prayer. Christians found her and learned from her everything that occurred. On the eighth day, the holy Martyr Drosis went to the red-hot ovens and cast herself into the fire.
Tr by oca.org