Hieromartyr Theopemptus the Bishop of Nicomedia; Martyr Theonas; Venerable Syncletica of Alexandria (Eve of the Theophany of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Strict Fast)

1. The fourth day of the Forefeast of Theophany falls on January 5. If January 5th falls on a weekday, the following order is observed:

Vespers on the evening of the 4th, then Matins. The First Hour is not read after Matins.

On the 5th we read the Royal Hours, followed by Vespers and the Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great.

If the Eve of Theophany falls on Saturday:

The Royal Hours are read on Friday, but there is no Liturgy. Vespers on the evening of the 4th, followed by Matins. The Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is celebrated on Saturday morning.

If the Eve of Theophany falls on a Sunday:

The Royal Hours are read on Friday, but there is no Liturgy. Vigil is served on Saturday evening, and the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is celebrated on Sunday.

There are thirteen readings at Vespers on the Eve of Theophany, and the entrace is made with the Gospel. There is fasting today, whatever day of the week it may be.

 

2. The Holy Martyrs Theopemptus and Theonas suffered in Nicomedia in the year 303. Saint Theopemptus was bishop in Nicomedia in the time of Diocletian (284-305). Speaking out against idolatry, he defended the faith in Christ. Because of this, he became one of the first victims of the Diocletian persecution.

The saint refused to obey the emperor’s order to worship an idol of Apollo. Saint Theopemptus was thrown into a red-hot furnace, but by the power of God he remained alive. The emperor came to the furnace by night with a detachment of soldiers, and there he saw the saint alive and praying to God. Ascribing the miracle to magic, Diocletian thought to exhaust Saint Theopemptus by depriving him of food and drink for twenty-two days, but the martyr was preserved by the will of God.

The emperor brought the famous sorcerer Theonas to overcome Bishop Theopemptus’ supposed magical power. Theonas prepared a poison for Saint Theopemptus, put it into a little cake, and offered it to him to eat. The poison did no harm at all to Saint Theopemptus. Then Theonas tried an even stronger poison on the martyr. Seeing that Saint Theopemptus remained unharmed, he came to believe in Christ. They threw him into prison together with the holy bishop, who taught and baptized him, giving him the name Synesios (which means “full of understanding”).

At dawn Diocletian summoned Saint Theopemptus, and again tried to turn him to pagan impiety. Seeing that the bishop remained firm in his faith, he subjected him to many grievous tortures, after which the saint was beheaded. The holy martyr Theonas refused to offer sacrifice to idols, so he was buried alive in a deep ditch. This occurred at Nicomedia in the year 303.

3. Saint Syncletica was a native of Alexandria, the daughter of rich parents. She was very beautiful, but from a young age she thought only about things pleasing to God. Loving the purity of virginity, she refused to marry anyone, and spent all her time in fasting and prayer.

After the death of her parents, she distributed her inheritance to the poor. She left the city together with her younger sister, and lived in a crypt for the rest of her life.

News of her ascetic deeds quickly spread throughout the vicinity, and many devout women and girls came to live under her guidance. During the course of her ascetic life the saint zealously instructed the sisters by word and by deed.

In her eightieth year she was struck by an intense and grievous illness. The nun bore her ordeal with true Christian endurance, and the time of her death was revealed to her in a vision. After giving final instructions to her nuns, she surrendered her soul to God around the year 350.

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