There was a great persecution of Christians during the reign of Decius. The emperor himself came to Ephesus and there arranged a boisterous and noisy celebration in honor of the lifeless idols as well as a terrible slaughter of Christians. Seven young men, soldiers, refrained from the impure offering of sacrifices and they earnestly prayed to the one God to save the Christian people. They were the sons of the most influential elders of Ephesus and their names were Maximilian, Jamblichus, Martin [Martinian], John, Dionysius, Exacustodianus, and Antonin [Antoninus]. When they were accused before the emperor, they retreated to a hill outside Ephesus called Celion and there they hid in a cave. When the emperor learned of this, he commanded that the cave be sealed off. However, God according to His far-reaching Providence caused a miraculous and long-lasting sleep to fall upon the young men. The imperial courtiers, Theodore and Rufinus, secret Christians, built in that wall a copper sarcophagus with lead plaques on which were written the names of these young men and their martyr’s death during the reign of Emperor Decius. More than two hundred years then passed. During the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450 A.D.), there was a great dispute about the resurrection. There were some that doubted the resurrection. Emperor Theodosius was in great sorrow as a result of this dispute among the faithful and prayed to God that He, in some way, would reveal the truth to men. At that time of turmoil in the Church some sheepherders of Adolius, who owned the hill Celion began to build folds for the sheep and removed stone after stone from that cave. The youths then awakened from their sleep young and healthy, the same as when they fell asleep. The news of this miracle was spread abroad on all sides so that even Theodosius himself came with a great entourage and with delight conversed with the youths. After a week, they again fell into the sleep of death to await the general resurrection. Emperor Theodosius wanted to place their bodies in gold sarcophagi but they appeared to him in a dream and told him to leave them in the earth as they were laid out. (Prologue of Ohrid)
“Blessed is the man…” is sung.
At Psalm 140
In Tone 2
10. Come, let us adore God the Word,
Who was born of the Father before all ages,
and was incarnate of the Virgin Mary;
for of His own free will He suffered the Cross
and submitted Himself to burial,
and arose from the dead to save me, a sinful one.
9. Christ our Saviour cancelled the decree that was written against us,
by nailing it to the Cross;
and He abolished the dominion of Death.
Let us glorify His Resurrection on the third day.
8. Let us, together with the archangels, sing of Christ’s resurrection;
for He is the Redeemer and Saviour of our souls.
He will come again in awesome glory and mighty power
to judge the world which He has fashioned.
7. Although You died and were buried,
the angel yet declared You as Master.
He said to the women: Come and see where the Lord was placed;
for He is risen as He foretold,
because He is almighty.
Therefore, we worship You, the only Immortal One,
and we beseech You to have mercy on us, O Giver of Life.
6. O Christ, You have abolished the curse of the tree by Your Cross;
You have destroyed the power of Death by Your burial,
and You enlightened the human race by Your Resurrection.
Therefore, we cry out to You:
O God and Benefactor, glory to You!
5. O Lord, the gates of death opened before You in fear,
and the gatekeepers of Hades were filled with dread at the sight of You.
You smashed the gates of brass and crushed the posts of iron.
Then You burst our chains asunder,
and led us out from the darkness, away from the shadow of death.
4. Let us all come and prostrate ourselves in the house of the Lord,
singing this hymn of salvation:
O Christ, You were crucified on the tree and rose from the dead;
and You now abide in the bosom of the Father.
Please cleanse us of our sins.
In Tone 1
3. Come, let us ever sing hymns to the memory of the seven honoured youths;
the brilliant seven-branched lampstand.
Let us cry out to Christ Who has crowned them:
By their prayers, Lord and Deliverer, bring peace to our life!
2. The seven godly youths died according to nature.
Yet they rose up at once as though from sleep
in a manner transcending nature indeed
for they had slept in the cave as dead for three hundred and seventy two years!
1. Now let us honour John and Martinian,
Anthony and Dionysius
with the godly Iamblicus and Maximilian,
for they pray on our behalf.
Together with them let us praise with devotion
the wise Exacustodian.
In Tone 2, Glory… Now…
O Virgin, the shadow of the Law passed away
with the realization of grace.
For as the bush had burned without being consumed,
so you gave birth while a virgin
and you remained a virgin.
Instead of the pillar of fire there rose the Sun of Justice.
Instead of Moses, Christ God came forth,
the Saviour of our souls.
In Tone 2
Your Resurrection, O Christ our Saviour,
has enlightened the whole universe;
and, through it, You call back to Yourself all Creation.
Almighty God, glory to You!
The Lord reigns, He is clothed in majesty. Robed is the Lord, and girt about with strength.
By the wood of Your Cross, O Saviour,
You have abolished the curse of the tree;
by Your burial You have destroyed the power of death;
and by Your Resurrection You enlightened the human race.
We, therefore, cry out to You:
O Christ our God, Giver of Life, glory to You!
For He has made the world firm, which shall not be moved.
O Christ, when You were nailed to the Cross,
the distorted nature of creation was made manifest.
The soldiers showed their inhumanity by piercing Your side with a lance,
and the people showed their ignorance of Your power
by asking that Your tomb be sealed.
But, in Your mercy, You accepted burial
and then arose on the third day.
O Lord, glory to You!
Holiness befits Your house, O Lord, for length of days.
O Christ, Giver of Life,
You freely endured the Passion for the sake of mortals.
In Your power You descended into Hades;
and snatching, as from a mighty monster, the souls of those who awaited Your coming,
You placed them in Paradise.
Therefore, show Your great mercy to us who glorify Your Resurrection,
and cleanse our souls.
We now behold a new wonder,
greater than the wonders of old.
For who has ever known a mother to bear a child without the help of man?
Who has known a mother to hold in her arms the Source of all Creation?
It was God’s own will to be born in this manner;
and you, O most pure Virgin, carried Him as an infant in your arms.
Because of this, you can approach God with the boldness of a mother.
Therefore, we venerate you, and ask you to always beseech Him
to have mercy on us and save our souls.
In Tone 2
When You went down to death, O Life Immortal,* You struck Hades dead with the blazing light of Your divinity.* When You raised the dead from the nether world,* all the powers of heaven cried out:* “O Giver of Life, Christ our God, glory be to You!”
In Tone 1, Glory…
Be swayed by the pains that the saints have suffered for You, O Lord,* and heal all our pains,* O Lover of mankind, for this we pray.
O Holy Tabernacle, when Gabriel called out to you:* Rejoice, O Virgin, full of grace,* the Lord of All became incarnate of you,* as the righteous David had foretold.* In bearing your Creator, you have shown yourself to surpass the vastness of the heavens.* We, therefore, cry out: Glory to Him Who dwelt in you!* Glory to Him Who came forth from you!* Glory to Him Who has set us free* through your life-giving birth!
Troparia and Kontakia
Troparion, Tone 2: When You went down to death, O Life Immortal,* You struck Hades dead with the blazing light of Your divinity.* When You raised the dead from the nether world,* all the powers of heaven cried out:* “O Giver of Life, Christ our God, glory be to You!”
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Kontakion, Tone 2: You rose from the tomb, O almighty Saviour;* and Hades, seeing this wonder, was stricken with fear; and the dead arose.* Creation saw and rejoices with You, and Adam exults.* And the world, my Saviour, sings Your praises for ever.
Now and for ever and ever. Amen.
Theotokion, Tone 2: The tomb and death could not hold the Mother of God,* unceasing in her intercession and an unfailing hope of patronage,* for as the Mother of Life she was transferred to life* by Him Who had dwelt in her ever-virgin womb.
Prokeimenon, Tone 2
The Lord is my strength and my song of praise, and He has become my salvation.
verse: The Lord has indeed chastised me, but He has not delivered me to death. (Psalm 117:14,18)
1 Corinthians 9:2-12
Alleluia, Tone 2
verse: The Lord will hear you in the day of tribulation; the name of the God of Jacob will shield you.
verse: Lord, grant victory to the king and hear us in the day that we shall call upon You. (Psalm 19:2,10)
Praise the Lord from the heavens;* praise Him in the highest.* Alleluia, alleluia,* alleluia. (Psalm 148:1)