They were all Christians from Persia and suffered during the reign of King Sapor in the year 355. The first three were servants at the court of this same king but secretly served Christ their Lord. When they were accused and brought to trial before the king, he asked them where they came from. To this they replied: “Our fatherland and our life is the Most-holy Trinity, one in Essence and undivided, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, One God.” The king subjected them to cruel tortures but they endured all heroically, with psalmody and prayer on their lips. During the time of their torture and imprisonment angels of God appeared to them many times, and one time the Lord Christ Himself appeared to them as a man “with a face radiant as the sun.” When one of the torturers, Aphthonius, beheld a miracle, when boiling lead did no harm to the martyrs, he believed in Christ and cried out: “Great is the Christian God!” For this, he was immediately beheaded, and many others saw and believed. Then the king ordered that Acyndinus, Pegasius and Anempodistus be sewn into animal skins and cast into the sea. But St. Aphthonius appeared from the other world with three shining angels, and led the holy martyrs to dry land and set them free. Elpidephorus was one of the king’s nobles. When he revealed that he was a Christian and denounced the king for his slaughter of innocent Christians, the king condemned him to death and Elpidephorus was beheaded along with seven thousand other Christians. Then those first three martyrs [Acyndinus, Pegasius and Anempodistus] were finally thrown into a burning furnace along with twenty-eight soldiers and the king’s mother, since they also believed in Christ-and thus, in the flames, they gave up their righteous souls into the hands of the Lord. (Prologue of Ohrid)
“Blessed is the man…” is sung.
At Psalm 140
In Tone 4
10. We never cease to adore Your life-giving Cross, O Christ our God,
And we glorify Your resurrection on the third day.
For You, Almighty One, have thereby restored the corrupted nature of all
and reopened the way to heaven,
since You alone are gracious and You love mankind.
9. O Saviour, You have absolved the penalty of disobedience,
committed through the tree of Eden,
by willingly being nailed to the tree of the Cross.
As Almighty God, You descended into Hades
and broke asunder the bonds of death.
We, therefore, venerate Your resurrection from the dead,
and joyfully cry out to You:
Almighty Lord, glory to You!
8. O Lord, You have battered down the gates of Hades,
and by Your death You have dissolved the realm of death.
You have freed mankind from corruption,
bestowing life, incorruption, and Your great mercy upon the world.
7. Come, all you people,
let us sing the praises of our Saviour’s resurrection on the third day.
For we have, thereby, been delivered from the invincible bonds of Hades,
and we have received incorruption, together with eternal life.
Therefore, we cry out to You
after Your crucifixion, burial, and resurrection:
Save us by Your resurrection, for You love mankind.
6. O Saviour, with the angels we sing the praises of Your resurrection on the third day.
For the very ends of the universe have, thereby, been enlightened,
and we have been saved from the deceit of the enemy.
Therefore, we cry out to You,
Almighty Saviour, Giver of Life, and Lover of Mankind:
Save us by Your resurrection.
5. O Christ our God, You have demolished the brazen gates of Hades.
You have broken asunder the bonds of death,
and lifted up the fallen human race.
Therefore, we cry out with one accord:
O Lord, Who arose from the dead, glory to You!
4. O Lord, Your birth from the Father is timeless and eternal;
Your incarnation from the Virgin is beyond the understanding of all,
and beyond the expression of our words.
Your descent into Hades and victory over Death
caused Satan and his angels to tremble with fear.
Your resurrection on the third day
brought to mankind incorruption and great mercy.
In Tone 4
3. Let us hymn the company of the five martyrs:
The wise Acindynus
with Pegasus and Elpidephorus,
Aphtonius and Anempodistus!
They are valiant athletes and fervent protectors.
They pour forth abundant grace and unfailing hope,
granting them freely to the faithful!
2. Neither hunger, nor tribulation,
neither life nor death,
nor boiling cauldrons nor the depths of the earth,
nor even the mouths of wild beasts
could separate your brave deeds of patient endurance from the love of Christ!
You continually directed your gaze towards Him:
Desiring Him alone, you vanquished the enemy!
1. As you delight in sweetness and are filled with light,
inheriting eternal life, divinely wise ones,
deliver those who pray to you and honour your place of martyrdom
from misfortunes, bondage and imprisonment!
For you have boldness before God and great mercy
as true imitators and followers of Christ!
In Tone 6, Glory…
Today the martyrs’ choir of fivefold splendour
illumines the faithful like a constellation of stars!
It summons all to mystical joy!
Today the servants of the spiritual Sun
lead all to righteousness:
They destroyed the traditions of the Persians
who adored the material sun and worshipped fire!
They filled to overflowing the cup of their suffering;
they have been crowned with their blood shed for the sake of Christ!
They call us, lovers of piety, saying:
Come, feast as you behold our sufferings:
Look upon our crowns and honours!
For Christ has truly said:
He who endures to the end is saved!
Come, share our crowns and take us as intercessors before the Lord!
In Tone 4, Now…
O Mother of God, because of You David the Prophet
became an ancestor of God;
he foretold and sang a joyous hymn of praise
and cried out to Him who worked wonders in you:
“The Queen stood at your right hand.”
God revealed you as a life-giving mother,
when He chose to be incarnate of you without a father.
He renewed in man His image which the passions had corrupted.
He found the lost sheep in the mountains, carried it on His shoulders,
offered it to the Father, generously numbered it among the powers of heaven,
and saved the whole world, since He is Christ of great and rich mercy.
In Tone 4
In being lifted upon the Cross, O Lord,
You abolished the curse which we had inherited from our ancestors.
By going down into Hades,
You freed from eternal captivity those imprisoned there,
and granted incorruption to the human race.
We, therefore, praise Your life-giving and redeeming resurrection.
The Lord reigns, He is clothed in majesty. Robed is the Lord, and girt about with strength.
By hanging on the Cross, O Almighty One,
You shook the whole creation to its foundations.
When You Yourself were laid in the grave,
You raised to life those who had been lying in the graves,
and You granted life and incorruption to mankind.
We, therefore, praise and glorify Your resurrection on the third day.
For He has made the world firm, which shall not be moved.
O Christ, the lawless people showed their ingratitude to You, their Benefactor,
by delivering You to Pilate who condemned you to be crucified.
But You willingly suffered death and burial;
and, as God, You rose by Your own power on the third day,
granting us everlasting life and great mercy.
Holiness befits Your house, O Lord, for length of days.
The women, shedding bitter tears, came to see You in Your tomb;
and not finding Your body, they lamented, saying:
O Saviour and King of All, how were You stolen?
What place holds Your life-bearing body?
An angel answered them, saying:
Do not weep, but go and proclaim that the Lord is risen,
filling our hearts with joy;
for He alone is most compassionate.
O most pure Virgin, hear the petitions of your servants.
Remove the burdens which oppress us,
and deliver us from our sorrows;
for you are the only firm and constant support on whom we rely.
O Mother of God, never permit us who call upon you
to be overwhelmed by our cares.
Hasten to fulfil the supplications of all who, in faith, cry out to you:
Rejoice, O Lady, helper of all mankind,
the joy, the refuge, and the salvation of our souls.
In Tone 4
When the disciples of the Lord learned from the angel* the glorious news of the resurrection* and cast off the ancestral condemnation,* they proudly told the apostles:* “Death has been plundered!* Christ our God is risen,*granting to the world great mercy.”
In Tone 2, Glory…
Victorious martyrs of the Lord,* blessed is the earth that received your blood!* Holy are the heavenly places that opened to your souls!* You vanquished the enemy in battle, proclaiming Christ with courage!* Intercede with Him for He is good,** that He may save our souls!
O Mother of God, the mysteries which surround you are exceedingly glorious,* and beyond the power of understanding.* For you retained the seal of purity,* and your virginity remained inviolate;* yet you are acknowledged, without doubt,* to be the Mother who gave birth to the true God.* We beg you, therefore, to entreat Him to save our souls.
Troparia and Kontakia
Troparion, Tone 4: When the disciples of the Lord learned from the angel* the glorious news of the resurrection* and cast off the ancestral condemnation,* they proudly told the apostles:* “Death has been plundered!* Christ our God is risen,* granting to the world great mercy.”
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Kontakion, Tone 4: My Saviour and Deliverer from the grave* as God raised out of bondage the children of the earth* and shattered the gates of Hades;* and as Master, He rose on the third day.
Now and for ever and ever. Amen.
Theotokion, Tone 4: By your birth, O immaculate one,* Joachim and Anna were freed from the reproach of childlessness,* and Adam and Eve* from the corruption of death.* And your people, redeemed from the guilt of their sins,* celebrate as they cry out to you:* “The barren one gives birth to the Mother of God* and nourisher of our life.”
Prokeimenon, Tone 4
How great are Your works, O Lord* You have made all things in wisdom.
verse: Bless the Lord, O my soul: O Lord my God, You are exceedingly great. (Psalm 103:24,1)
Alleluia, Tone 4
verse: Poise yourself and advance in triumph and reign in the cause of truth, and meekness, and justice.
verse: You have loved justice and hated iniquity. (Psalm 44:5,8)
Praise the Lord from the heavens;* praise Him in the highest.* Alleluia, alleluia,* alleluia. (Psalm 148:1)