Martyr Polyeuctus of Melitene, in Armenia; St. Eustratius the Wonderworker; St. Peter the Bishop of Sebaste, in Armenia

Saint Polyeuctus was the first martyr in the Armenian city of Meletine. He was a soldier under the emperor Decius (249-251) and he later suffered for Christ under the emperor Valerian (253-259). The saint was friend also of Nearchos, a fellow-soldier and firm Christian, but Polyeuctus, though he led a virtuous life, remained a pagan.

When the persecution against Christians began, Nearchos said to Polyeuctus, “Friend, we shall soon be separated, for they will take me to torture, and you alas, will renounce your friendship with me.” Polyeuctus told him that he had seen Christ in a dream, Who took his soiled military cloak from him and dressed him in a radiant garment. “Now,” he said, “I am prepared to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Enflamed with zeal, Saint Polyeuctus went to the city square, and tore up the edict of Decius which required everyone to worship idols. A few moments later, he met a procession carrying twelve idols through the streets of the city. He dashed the idols to the ground and trampled them underfoot.

His father-in-law, the magistrate Felix, who was responsible for enforcing the imperial edict, was horrified at what Saint Polyeuctus had done and declared that he had to die for this. “Go, bid farewell to your wife and children,” said Felix.

Paulina came and tearfully entreated her husband to renounce Christ. His father-in-law Felix also wept, but Saint Polyeuctus remained steadfast in his resolve to suffer for Christ.

With joy he bent his head beneath the sword of the executioner and was baptized in his own blood. Soon, when the Church of Christ in the reign of Saint Constantine had triumphed throughout all the Roman Empire, a church was built at Meletine in honor of the holy Martyr Polyeuctus.

Many miracles were worked through the intercession of Saint Polyeuctus. In this very church the parents of Saint Euthymius the Great (January 20) prayed fervently for a son. The birth of this great luminary of Orthodoxy in the year 376 occurred through the help of the holy Martyr Polyeuctus.

Saint Polyeuctus was also venerated by Saint Acacius, Bishop of Meletine (March 31), a participant in the Third Ecumenical Council, and a great proponent of Orthodoxy. In the East, and also in the West, the holy Martyr Polyeuctus is venerated as a patron saint of vows and treaty agreements.

The Polyeucte Overture of French composer Paul Dukas is only one of many pieces of classical music inspired by the saints. It premiered in January of 1892. French dramatist Pierre Corneille has also written a play, Polyeucte (1642), based on the martyr’s life.

Saint Eustratius came from the city of Tarsus. At twenty years of age he secretly left his parents’ home and settled in the Abgar monastery (on Olympos in Asia Minor). There he lived a strict ascetic life, eating only bread and water, and spending his nights at prayer. After a certain while he was chosen as igumen of the monastery.

During the reign of the Iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820), Saint Eustratius hid from pursuit by roaming the hills and the wilds. After the death of the emperor he returned to the monastery. Prayer was always on his lips, and he constantly repeated the words: “Lord, have mercy!”

Before his death he gave instructions to the monks not to be attracted towards earthly blessings, and constantly to think about the future life. Signing himself with the Sign of the Cross, he said, “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit” and he died in peace at age 95.

Saint Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, was a brother of Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory of Nyssa (January 1 and January 10). His older sister, Saint Macrina (July 19) played a large role in his upbringing.

Saint Basil the Great ordained Saint Peter as presbyter, and later he was made Bishop of Sebaste (in Armenia). Saint Peter was present at the Second Ecumenical Council in the year 381, convened at Constantinople against the heresy of Macedonius.

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