2ND WEDNESDAY AFTER PENTECOST
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, OLIVE OIL
Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata, Zenon the Martyr & his servant Zenas of Philadelphia, Anastasia the Serbian, Alban the Protomartyr of Britain
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE ROMANS 4:13-25
Brethren, the promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants — not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations” — in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, “So shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “reckoned to him as righteousness.” But the words, “it was reckoned to him, ” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
The Lord said, "Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord, ' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'
Hieromartyr Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata
The Hieromartyr Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata, stood firmly for the Orthodox Confession of Faith proclaimed at the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea in the year 325. For this he underwent persecution by the Arians, being repeatedly deprived of his see and banished. The emperor Constantius (337-361), patron of the Arians, learned that Saint Eusebius kept a conciliar decree regarding the election of the Orthodox Archbishop Meletius to the See of Antioch. He commanded him to give up the decree. The saint boldly refused to do as ordered. The enraged emperor sent a message that if he did not give up the decree, then his right hand would be cut off. Saint Eusebius stretched out both hands to the emissary saying, “Cut them off, but I will not give up the Decree of the Council, which denounces the wickedness and iniquity of the Arians.” The emperor Constantius marveled at the audacity of the bishop, but did not harm him.
During the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363), even more difficult times ensued, and an open persecution against Christians began. Saint Eusebius, having concealed his identity, went about in the garb of a soldier across the whole of Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine, urging Christians to the Orthodox Faith. He established priests and deacons in desolated churches, and he consecrated bishops who renounced the Arian heresy. After Julian the Apostate’s death, he was succeeded by the pious emperor Jovian (363-364), during whose reign the persecutions stopped. Returning from exile, Saint Meletius (February 12) convened a local Council at Antioch in the year 379 on the advice of Saint Eusebius. Twenty-seven bishops participated, and it reaffirmed the Orthodox teaching of the First Ecumenical Council. The Arians signed the conciliar definition, fearing the steadfast defenders of Orthodoxy, the holy hierarchs Meletius, Eusebius and Pelagios, who had great influence with the emperor. After the death of Jovian the Arian Valentinian (364-378) came to power.
The Orthodox were again subjected to persecution. Saint Meletius was banished to Armenia, Saint Pelagius to Arabia, and Saint Eusebius was condemned to exile in Thrace. Having received the imperial decree, Saint Eusebius left Samosata by night so as to prevent tumult among the people that esteemed him. Having learned of of the bishop’s departure, believers followed after him and with tears entreated him to return. The saint refused the entreaty of those who had come, saying that he had to obey the authorities. The saint urged his flock to hold firm to Orthodoxy, blessed them and set off to the place of exile. The Arian Eunomios became Bishop of Samosata, but the people did not accept the heretic. The Orthodox would not go to the church and avoided meeting with him. The heretical Arian perceived that it was impossible to attract the independent flock to him.
The emperor Gracian (375-383) came upon the throne, and all the Orthodox hierarchs banished under the Arians were brought back from exile. Saint Eusebius also returned to Samosata and continued with the task of building up the Church. Together with Saint Meletius he supplied Orthodox hierarchs and clergy to Arian places. In the year 380 he arrived in the Arian city of Dolikhina to establish the Orthodox bishop Marinus there. An Arian woman threw a roof tile at the holy bishop’s head. As he lay dying, he asked her for wine and requested those around not to do her any harm. The body of Saint Eusebius was taken to Samosata and was buried by his flock. The saint’s nephew, Antiochus, succeeded him and the Samosata Church continued to confess the Orthodox Faith, firmly spread through the efforts of the holy Hieromartyr Eusebius.
Martyrs Zeno and his servant, Zenas, of Philadelphia
The Holy Martyrs Zeno and Zenas lived in the Arabian city of Philadelphia, and led a pious life. Saint Zeno possessed a large fortune, but he distributed his substance to the poor and manumitted slaves. Together with his devoted servant Zenas, he went to the governor and urged him to give up idolatry and accept Christ. They were tied to pillars, struck with iron hooks, and their wounds were rubbed with vinegar and salt.
Their sides and chests were scorched with fire, they were thrown in a pit, and boiling oil was poured over the sufferers. The saints endured all the tortures with forbearance and by the power of God they remained alive. Finally, the martyrs were beheaded with a sword (+ 304).
Martyrs Galacteon, Juliana, and Saturninus, of Constantinople
Saint Galacteon was drowned in the sea for confessing faith in Christ. Saint Juliana was burned together with her son Saturninus because they were Christians.
Saint Alban, Protomartyr of Britain
Saint Alban (or Albanus), the protomartyr of Britain, was a Roman citizen who lived at Verulamium (modern Saint Albans), a few miles northwest of London, during a time of persecution. Nothing is known about his family or his occupation.
The chief magistrate of the city had orders to arrest all Christian clergy. One of them, a priest named Amphibalus, fled to Alban’s home in order to hide from the soldiers who wished to kill him. Alban was impressed by the priest’s constant prayer and vigil, and so he questioned Amphibalus about his beliefs. As a result, Alban came to believe in Christ and asked to be baptized.
Eventually, Amphibalus was forced to move on, and Alban changed clothes with him so that he could get away. The soldiers heard there was a priest hiding in Alban’s house, so they came to search it. Seeing Alban dressed in the priest’s clothes, they arrested him and brought him before the judge.
The magistrate was offering sacrifice to idols when Saint Alban appeared before him. After questioning him, he discovered how Alban and the priest had switched clothes. Furious because Alban had allowed a fugitive to escape, the magistrate threatened him with death unless he returned to paganism and revealed where Amphibalus had gone. Saint Alban replied, “I am also a Christian, and I worship the true God.”
After having the saint beaten and tortured, the magistrate threatened him with execution. Saint Alban rejoiced and glorified God. The magistrate ordered the soldiers to take Saint Alban to the Holmhurst Hill to be beheaded. When they came to the river Ver, they saw that the bridge was crowded with people who had come to witness Alban’s martyrdom. Since they could not proceed because of the multitude of people, Saint Alban prayed and made the Sign of the Cross over the river. At once, the waters parted so that they were able to cross over to the other side.
The executioner was so astonished by the miracle that he threw down his sword and refused to behead the saint. He was arrested, and another man was found to behead them both. There is a tradition that Saint Alban became thirsty while climbing the hill and asked for water. A small spring gushed forth near the top of the hill, and he was able to drink from it. Pilgrims used to come and drink from Saint Alban’s well, but it is now dry.
The date of Saint Alban’s martyrdom is uncertain, but it is believed that it took place during the reign of Decius (ca. 251) or Valerian (ca. 257). The eighteenth century Turin manuscript (which may be based on a fifth century source) suggests that Saint Alban may have been executed as early as 209, when the emperor Septimus Severus and his two sons were in Britain. The name of the executioner who was converted has not been preserved. The priest Amphibalus was ultimately caught and put to death at a place called Redbourn, four miles from Verulamium.
When people began to cry out against the magistrate, he put an end to the persecution. In later years a cathedral was built on the site of the martyrdom, and the relics of Saint Alban, the priest Amphibalus, and perhaps even the executioner were enshrined within. Saint Bede (May 27) tells us that miracles frequently took place at Saint Alban’s tomb. When the Danes invaded England in 860, the relics were removed for safekeeping, then later returned.
A new chapel and shrine were built for the relics in the early fourteenth century. Two hundred years later, during the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, the marble shrine was destroyed. Much later, the fragments of the shrine were reassembled on its former site. What happened to the relics is uncertain, but it is probable that they were either destroyed or buried in an unmarked spot.
Although Saint Alban is sometimes depicted in military garb, there is no evidence that he was a soldier. After all, he was living in a private home when he was arrested, and not in a barracks. There is a medieval painting in the south aisle beside the Choir in the Abbey which depicts Saint Alban with red hair. A medieval seal, now in the Durham Cathedral Chapter Library, shows him with a thick beard. He is stocky, with a high, round and balding forehead, and a cloak covers his left side and right shoulder.
Hieromartyr Nikḗtas of Remesiana
No information on the life of this saint is available at this time.
Martyr Nikḗtas the Dacian
No information on the life of this saint is available at this time.
Saint Gregory, Metropolitan of Wallachia
Saint Gregory (Dascalu) was Metropolitan of Wallachia.
St Gregory was glorified by the Romanian Orthodox Church in 2005, and is commemorated on June 22.