Science of the Saints, 6 March, The Holy Forty-two Martyrs of Ammoria

The Holy Forty-two Martyrs of Ammoria: Constantine, Aetius, Theophilus, Theodore, Melissenus, Callistus, Basoes and the others with them.

During the time of a war between the Graeco-Byzantine emperor Theophilus (829-842) and the Saracens, the Saracens managed to besiege the city of Ammoria (in Galicia in Asia Minor). As a result of treason on the part of the military commander Baditses, Ammoria fell, and forty‑two of its military defenders were taken captive and sent off to Syria.

Over the course of seven years of exhaustive imprisonment they tried in vain to persuade the captives to renounce the Christian faith and accept Mussulmanism. The captives stubbornly resisted all the seductive offers and bravely held out against the terrible threats. After many torments that failed to break the spirit of the Christian soldiers, they condemned them to death, in the hope of shaking the steadfastness of the saints before the actual execution. They said to the Soldier Theodore: “We know that thou, having forsaken the priestly dignity, didst become a soldier and shed blood. Thou canst not hope upon Christ, so accept Mahomet,” But the martyr with conviction replied: “I will not renounce Christ, and moreover, in that I left the priestly duty, the bloodshed was necessary.”

The condemned calmly and without fear walked up to the executioners. They beheaded them, and threw their bodies into the River Euphrates. In the service to them, these holy passion bearers are glorified as: the “All-Blest” Theodore, the “Unconquered” Callistus, the “Valiant” Constantine, the “Wondrous” Theophilus and Basroes the “Most‑Strong.”

And indeed the betrayer Baditses did not escape his shameful lot: the enemy knew that it is impossible to trust a traitor, and they killed him.

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