14 February 2019
The REAL Saint Valentines!
The Hieromartyr Bishop Valentine and his three disciples, Proculus, Ephebus and Apollonius, and the righteous Abundius lived during the third century. Saint Valentine was a bishop in Umbria (now Italy), in the city of Interamna. He received from God the gift of healing various maladies.
At this time three pagan youths, Proculus, Ephebus and Apollonius, came from Athens to Rome to study.They found a tutor named Craton, and lived in his home. Craton’s son Cherimon fell grievously ill, and his spine was so contorted that his head was bent down to his knees. Craton asked Bishop Valentine to help his sick son.
The holy bishop went into the sick child’s room and prayed fervently all night. When day came, the happy parents saw their son had been healed. They believed in Christ and were baptized with all their household.
Craton’s students, Proculus, Ephebus and Apollonius were also baptized and became devoted disciples of Saint Valentine. The bishop’s fame quickly spread, and many were converted to Christ. Among them was the city prefect’s son, Abundius, who openly confessed himself a Christian. This was a bold thing to do, since paganism prevailed in the world, and Christianity was persecuted.
The wrath of the prefect and other city leaders fell upon Bishop Valentine, the teacher of the youths. They demanded that he renounce Christ and worship the idols.
After much torture they threw him into prison, where his followers visited him. Learning of this, the prefect gave orders to take Valentine out of the prison and behead him. Saint Valentine’s students Proculus, Ephebus, and Apollonius took the body of their teacher and carried it to the city of Interamnum, where they buried it.
Both believers and pagans were drawn to them, and they converted many idolaters to the true Faith. When the authorities heard about this, they arrested the youths and threw them in prison. Fearing that people might break the sufferers out of prison, the executioners beheaded them by night.
Abundius, learning that his friends had been locked in prison, hastened to see them, but found that they had already been executed. He buried their bodies near the grave of holy Bishop Valentine.
During the reign of the emperor Claudius II (268-270), Saint Marinus together with his wife Martha and their sons Audifax and Habakkuk journeyed from Persia to Rome, to pray at the graves of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. During this time fierce persecutions and executions befell the Roman Church. Saint Marinus and his wife and sons helped Christians locked up in the prisons, and also requested the bodies of executed martyrs. At one of these jails they met a prisoner named Cyrenus and they helped him, since he had endured many torments for faith in Christ.
The persecution spread, and even more Christians were arrested. During this time 260 Christians, among whom was the tribune Vlastus, had been sent under the court sentence to dig ground along the Salerian Way, and were executed by archers. When they learned about this vicious murder, Marinus, his family, and the presbyter John went by night and took the bodies of the martyrs to be buried in the catacombs. They returned later to the prison where Saint Cyrenus was incarcerated, but did not find him. He had been executed the day before and his body was thrown into the Tiber River. Doing their holy duty, Saints Marinus and Martha and their sons took the body of the holy martyr from the river and committed it to the earth. The holy workers were among Christians, who continued secretly to perform the divine services under the leadership of the holy Bishop Callistus, and hid them from their pursuers.
In consummation of their great charitable deeds the holy family was deemed worthy to glorify the Lord by martyrdom. The pagans beheaded the courageous confessor Valentinus the Presbyter, and the imperial gardener Asterius who had been converted by him, and the holy ascetics from Persia were arrested and given over to torture. By order of the emperor, Saints Marinus, Audifax and Habakkuk were beheaded in the year 269, and Saint Martha was drowned in a river.
The relics of the holy saints are in Rome at the Church of Saint John the Hut-Dweller, and the relics of Saint Valentinus are in the Church of the holy Martyr Paraskeva.
Saint Valentine of Moesia in Bulgaria
The Martyrs Valentine and Pasikrates came from the city of Durostorum, Silistria (now Bulgaria) and were soldiers under the governor Absolanus. Pasikrates was twenty-two years old, and Valentine was thirty.
When a persecution against Christians began, Saints Pasikrates and Valentine openly confessed their faith in Christ. At the trial Pasikrates spit at the idol of Apollo, and refused to offer sacrifice.
The brother of Saint Pasikrates wept and urged him merely to appear to offer sacrifice to the idols. The martyr placed his hand on the sacrifice in the fire and said, “The body is mortal and burns in the fire, the soul, however, is immortal and is not harmed by these torments.” Saint Valentine also showed his readiness to suffer for Christ.
When they led the martyrs to execution, the mother of Saint Pasikrates followed them and exhorted her son not to fear death for Christ. Both martyrs were tortured and then beheaded in 288.
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