Science of the Saints, 21 April, The Holy Hieromartyr Januarius and his Companions

The Hieromartyr Januarius the Bishop, and with him the Holy Martyr-Deacons Proculus, Sossius, and Faustus, Desiderius the Reader, Eutychius, and Acution accepted a martyr’s death for Christ about the year 305 during the time of the persecution by the emperor Diocletian (284-305).

They arrested Saint Januarius and led him to trial to Timothy, the governor of Campagna (central Italy). For his firm confession of Christian faith, they threw the saint into a red hot furnace. But like the Babylonian youths, he came out from there unharmed. Then by order of Timothy they stretched him out on a bench and beat at him with iron rods so much that they lay bare the bone.

Among the gathered crowd were the holy deacon Faustus and the reader Desiderius, who wept at the sight of the suffering of their bishop. The pagans surmised that they were Christians, and threw them together into prison with the Hieromartyr Januarius, in the city of Puteolum. At this prison were situated two deacons locked up earlier for confessing Christ, Saints Sossius and Proculus, and two laymen, Saints Eutychius and Acution.

On the following morning they led out all the martyrs into the circus to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch them. Timothy declared that the miracle occurred from sorcery by the Christians, but with this however he became blinded and cried out for help. The gentle Hieromartyr Januarius made prayer for his healing, and Timothy recovered his sight. The blindness of soul however did not depart the torturer and with a still greater rage accusing the Christians of sorcery, he gave orders to cut off the heads of the martyrs at the walls of the city (+305).

Christians from surrounding cities took up the bodies of the holy martyrs for burial, and those of each city took along one, so as to have an intercessor before God. The inhabitants of Neapolis (Naples) took for themselves the body of the Hieromartyr Januarius. Together with the body they gathered up from the earth his dried blood. When they set the vessel with this blood upon the relics of the holy martyr, having been put on the church of the city of Neapolis, the blood liquified and became warm, as though only just shed. Many miracles proceeded from the relics of the Hieromartyr Januarius. During the time of the eruption of Vesuvius, when the inhabitants of the city prayed to the Hieromartyr Jannuarius, the lava stopped, not reaching the city. A pious woman placed an icon with the image of the hieromartyr upon her dead son, and he arose.

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