August 4

There was a great persecution of Christians during the reign of Decius. The emperor himself went to Ephesus, and there arranged a boisterous and noisy celebration in honor of the lifeless idols – as well as a terrible slaughter of Christians. Seven young men, soldiers, refrained from the impure offering of sacrifices. They earnestly prayed to the one God to save the Christian people. They were the sons of the most influential elders of Ephesus. Their names were Maximilian, Jamblicus, Martinian, John, Dionysius, Exacustodianus and Antonius. When they were accused before the emperor, they retreated to a hill outside of Ephesus called Celion, and there they hid in a cave. When the emperor learned of this, he commanded that the cave be walled shut. Yet, God – according to His far-reaching providence – caused a miraculous and long-lasting sleep to fall upon the young men. The imperial courtiers Theodore and Rufinus (themselves secret Christians) built a small copper box into the wall. It contained lead plaques on which were written the names of these young men, and which recorded their martyric deaths during the reign of Emperor Decius. More than two hundred years passed. During the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450), there was a great dispute about the resurrection of the dead, and there were some who doubted in it. Emperor Theodosius was in great sorrow as a result of this dispute among the faithful, and prayed to God that He, in some way, would reveal the truth to men. Then some shepherds of Adolius, who owned the hill Celion, were building folds for their sheep, using stones from the cave. They removed stone after stone. Suddenly, the youths awoke from their sleep, as youthful and healthy as on the day they fell asleep. The news of this miracle was spread abroad in every direction, so that Theodosius himself came with a great entourage and conversed with the youths, to his delight. After a week, they again fell into the deep repose from which they had awakened, to await the General Resurrection. Emperor Theodosius wanted to place their bodies in gold caskets; but they appeared to him in a dream, and told him to leave them in the earth as they had been laid there.

Source: St. Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue of Ohrid – Volume Two.


They that scorned all things in the world as corrupted and found the gifts that nothing ever corrupteth, behold, they died, and yet corruption touched them not. Wherefore after many years once again they all rose up, burying all unbelief of malicious revilers. Ye faithful, let us laud the seven youths with hymns of praise on this day, while extolling Christ.