Science of the Saints, 18 June, The Holy Martyrs Leontius, Ipatius, and Theodolus

The holy Martyrs Leontius, Ipatius, and Theodolus were Roman soldiers. The holy Martyr Leontius, a Greek by origin, during the reign of Vespasian (70-79) served as a military-chief in the imperial army in the Phoenician city of Tripoli. The Christian Leontius was distinguished for his bravery and good sense, and the people of Tripoli held him in deep regard for his virtue.

The emperor appointed the Roman senator Adrian as governor of the Phoenician district, with full powers to hunt out Christians, and in case of their refusal to offer sacrifice to the Roman gods, to give them over to torture and death. And on his way to Phoenicia, Adrian received a report that Saint Leontius had turned many away from worshipping the pagan gods. The governor sent the tribune Ipatius with a detachment of soldiers to Tripoli, so as to find and arrest the Christian Leontius. Along the way the tribune Ipatius fell seriously ill, and being near death, he saw in a dream an Angel, which said: “If thou wishest to be healed, invoke thrice with thine soldiers: ‘God of Leontius, help me.'” Opening his eyes, Ipatius beheld the Angel and said: “I was sent to arrest Leontius, how is it that I should appeal to his God?” At this moment the Angel became invisible. Ipatius told about his dream to the soldiers, among whose number was also his friend Theodolus, and all of them together thrice called on the help of the God, Whose Name it was that Saint Leontius confessed. Ipatius was immediately healed to the great joy of his soldiers, but only Theodolus sat aside, pondering the miracle. His soul was filled with love for God, and he told Ipatius to proceed twice as quickly to the city in search of Saint Leontius.

Upon their arrival in the city, a stranger met them and invited them to his house, where he lavishly hosted the travellers. Learning that their hospitable host was Saint Leontius, they fell on their knees and asked him to enlighten them with faith in the True God. They were baptised here, and when Saint Leontius pronounced over them the prayer calling on the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, a luminous cloud overshadowed the newly-baptised and shed a graced rain. The remaining soldiers in search of their commander arrived in Tripoli, where also had arrived the governor Adrian. Learning about what had happened, he gave orders to bring him Saints Leontius, Ipatius, and Theodolus, and having threatened them with torture and death, he demanded that they renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the Roman gods. All the martyrs firmly confessed their faith in Christ. Saint Ipatius was put under a column and struck at with iron claws, and Saint Theodolus was mercilessly beaten with rods. Seeing the steadfastness of the saints, they beheaded these two. And after torture, they sent Saint Leontius off to prison. In the morning he came before the governor. Adrian tried to entice the holy martyr with honours and rewards, and accomplishing nothing, he gave him over to new tortures: the holy martyr was suspended head downwards from a pillar with an heavy stone about his neck, but nothing was able to make him renounce Christ. The governor gave orders to beat at the sufferer with rods until such time as he died. They then threw the body of the holy Martyr Leontius out beyond the city, but Christians reverently gave it burial near Tripoli. The death of the holy martyrs occurred in about the years 70-79.

The accusation against Saint Leontius, and his sufferings and death are recorded on tin tablets prepared by the court scribe (commentarisius). These tablets were placed at the grave of the holy martyr.

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