Science of the Saints, 28-XI-2018 (15 Nov.), Holy Martyrs of Edessa Guria, Shamuna, and Habib the Deacon


The Holy Martyrs and Confessors Guria, Shamuna, and Habib: During the time of persecution against Christians under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (305-311), two friends were arrested in the city of Edessa, the Christians Guria and Shamuna, preachers of the Word of God. 

At the demand to offer sacrifice to the gods the saints answered with a decisive refusal and confessed their faith in Christ. For this they were subjected to cruel tortures: they beat them, hung them up by their hands, tied heavy weights to their feet, and cast them into a stifling prison. The martyrs endured everything with firmness and a prayer to the Lord, which one of the witnesses to the martyrs wrote down: “O Lord my God, without Whose will not a single sparrow falleth into the snare. Thou it was, Who wast diffused in the heart of David in sorrow, Who proved the Prophet David stronger than lions, and granted for a child of Abraham to be victor over torture and flames. Now also Thou knowest, O Lord, the infirmity of our nature, Thou beholdest the struggle set afront us. For the enemy striveth to tear away from Thee the work of Thy right hand and to deprive us from the essence of Thine Glory. But do Thou, with Thine compassionate eye watching over us, preserve in us the inextinguishable light of Thy Commandments. By Thy light guide our steps, and grant us to delight in Thy bliss, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages.” By night they took the martyrs out beyond the city and beheaded them (+299-306). Christians buried their holy bodies.

After some years the last pagan emperor Licinius (311-324) began a persecution against Christians. A deacon of the Edessa Church by the name of Habib, whom the emperor ordered to be arrested for his zealous spreading of the true faith, presented himself before the executioners, since he did not want other Christians to suffer because of the search for him. The saint confessed his faith in Christ and was sentenced to burning. The martyr went willingly into the fire and with prayer gave up his soul to the Lord (+322). When the fire went out, the mother and kinsmen of the saint found his body unharmed. They buried the martyr next to Saints Guria and Shamuna.

After the death of the saints, numerous miracles were wrought by them for those who with faith and love entreated their help. Thus, one time a certain Gothic soldier, sent for service at Edessa, took as his spouse the pious maiden Euphymia. Before this he vowed to her mother Sophia at the graves of the Martyrs Guria, Shamuna, and Habib, that he would do his spouse no harm, and would never insult her, but would always love and cherish her. At the completion of his service in Edessa, he took Euphymia with him back to his native land. Afterwards it turned out, that he had deceived her: in his native land he already had a wife, and Euphymia became her slave. Euphymia had to suffer much abuse and humiliation. When she gave birth to a son, the jealous Goth woman then poisoned him. Euphymia turned with prayer to the holy Martyrs Guria, Shamuna, and Habib – witnesses to the oath of the deceiver – and the Lord delivered Euphymia from her suffering and miraculously returned her to Edessa, where she was welcomed by her mother. After a certain while the Gothic oath-breaker was again sent for service to Edessa. All the city learned about his misdeeds after his denunciation by Sophia, and by order of the governor of the city the Goth was executed.

Glorifying the holy martyrs in an akathist, Holy Church addresses them: “Hail, Guria, Shamuna, and Habib, Heavenly Patrons of honourable marriage”.

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