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Posts Tagged ‘Martyrs’

On 3 June 1886, thirty-two young men, pages of the court of King Mwanga of Buganda, were burned to death at Namugongo for their refusal to renounce Christianity. In the following months many other Christians throughout the country died by spear or fire for their faith.

These martyrdoms totally changed the dynamic of Christian growth in Uganda. Introduced by a handful of Anglican and Roman missionaries after 1877, the Christian faith had been preached only to the immediate members of the court, by order of King Mutesa. His successor, Mwanga, became increasingly angry as he realized that the first converts put loyalty to Christ above the traditional loyalty to the king. Martyrdoms began in 1885. Mwanga first forbade anyone to go near a Christian mission on pain of death, but finding himself unable to cool the ardor of the converts, resolved to wipe out Christianity.

The Namugongo martyrdoms produced a result entirely opposite to Mwanga’s intentions. The example of these martyrs, who walked to their deaths singing hymns and praying for their enemies, so inspired many of the bystanders that they began to seek instruction from the remaining Christians. Within a few years the original handful of converts had multiplied many times and spread far beyond the court. The martyrs had left the indelible impression that Christianity was truly African, not simply a white man’s religion. Most of the missionary work was carried out by Africans rather than by white missionaries, and Christianity spread steadily. Uganda now has the largest percentage of professed Christians of any nation in Africa.

Several years ago I heard an African clergyman, born of pagan parents, tell of his conversion. He said:

One afternoon I was bicycling along a road and met a young man about my own age bicycling in the opposite direction. He promptly turned about and began to ride beside me and to talk. He spoke with great enthusiasm about Jesus, whom I had never heard of before, and how He had destroyed the power of death and evil by dying and rising again, and how He was God become man to reconcile man with God. I heard what my companion had to say, and before we parted I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Now, the young man who preached the Good News of Jesus Christ to me that afternoon had himself heard of Jesus for the first time that morning.

Renewed persecution of Christians in the 1970’s by the military dictatorship of Idi Amin proved the vitality of the example of the Namugongo martyrs. Among the thousands of new martyrs, both Anglican and Roman, was Janani Luwum, Archbishop of the (Anglican) Church of Uganda.

Prayer

O God, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant that we who remember before you the blessed martyrs of Uganda, may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, to whom they gave obedience, even unto death, and by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Saint George was a soldier and martyr who died around 303. He died in Palestine at Lydda also known as Diospolis. Soldier under the Roman Emperor Diocletian. It was known that the Roman Emperor persecuted and killed many Christians.

One day Saint George approached the Emperor. He spoke against the Emperor and his persecution of his Christian brothers. The Emperor had George imprisoned, severely tortured in every imaginable way, and eventually put to death.

Over time St. George became a patron to many soldiers. In 1098 during the first crusade. As Christian soldiers from Europe started the siege on Antioch. They called upon St. George and St. Demetrius. The latter was a deacon (of Sirmium in Serbia) and “Soldier for Christ”. He was martyred under Maximian. This brought great courage and heroic behavior to the soldiers. They were successful in their siege, and gaining back the city for Christ.

Richard I of England (The Lion Heart) placed his whole army under the protection of St. George. Richard the Lion Heart and his men fought bravely for 2 years in the Holy Land (1191-1192). Back in England Legend and fame surrounded him. Richard the First popularity continued long after his death. Actually still to this day he is honored. In 1284 his flag (red cross on a white field) became the official national flag of England. It is commonly known as the St. George’s Cross. Also can be found on the Episcopal Church of Americas flag.

For centuries on St. George was the model to rally soldiers in England. In 1415 Henry V Called upon St. George and spoke about him to rally the troops before the battle of Agincourt. Saying “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, or close the wall up with our English dead!”.

St. George is a symbol to many of a man who stood valiantly unto death. As a Soldier for Christ. When the enemy is at the gate I pray that we to could be as brave as Blessed George. To stand for righteousness no matter the cost. Taking our crowns of Glory in the life to come.

Saint George is the patron Saint of England, of soldiers, and of the Boy Scouts, as well as of Venice, Genoa, Portugal, and Catalonia. He is also remembered with enthusiasm in many parts of the East Orthodox Church.

Prayer
Almighty God, who gave to your servant George boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

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Almighty God, who called our holy martyr George to bear before men the banner of the cross, and to serve you even unto death: Grant that, following his fortitude, we may be strong in the Christian warfare, and with him attain the crown of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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It was the year 320. Constantine was Emperor in the West. The Roman persecution of Christians had ended. A new area in the world was emerging, and Christianity was taking a prominent place in society.

Licinius who was the Emperor in the East. Married Constantia the sister of Constantine. This union forged an alliance between the two great leaders. In this alliance Constantine pressured Licinius to legalize Christianity, and to put a end to the persecutions.

Licinius broke this alliance and persecution towards Christians was re birthed. His decree reached the far corners of his kingdom. When persecution came to Sebaste in Armenia (now Sivas in Turkey) 40 solders in the Thundering Legion were apprehended. After beatings or torture the 40 stood strong.

Enraged the persecutors stripped them of their clothing and pushed them to the middle of a frozen lake. Blankets, fires, and baths were prepared on the shore to help temp the 40 to renounce their faith, and come to the shore. Some say that some of the soldiers mothers were there begging their sons to renounce their faith.

One weak soldier headed to the shore, and was received and comforted. With a interesting turn of events a soldier keeping watch was moved stripped his cloths and joined the 39 in the center of the lake.

By morning everyone was either dead or close to it from harsh winter exposure. Tradition tells us that those who were still alive died from the end of a spear. It is believed that some eye witness accounts and the final words of many of these brave men were recorded, and are still preserved in archives.

What a strong testament to the faith of the 39. Not only did they stand to the point of death for their beliefs. Their witness encouraged a young soldier to strip himself of his old life. Naked he crossed that frozen lake like a new Christian purified by the waters of baptism he was made one of the 40.

I see us as the young soldier. We look at our history, and the lives of the saints. We align ourselves to Jesus by the testament of their life, struggles, and for many their martyrdom. Hoping someday to be part of the great number of saints who unitedly praise the Lord God most high.

Prayer

O Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs of Sebaste triumphed over suffering and were faithful even unto death: Grant us, who now remember them with thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world, that we may receive with them the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Today we celebrate The Departure of St. Poemen the Confessor.

St. Poemen was a servant of the Living Lord before and during the reign of Constantine. He was from the village of Bani-Khaseeb of the district of El-Ashmonen. St. Poemen was a man known for his honesty and righteousness.

Early on in his life he was a steward to a rich man and his wife. They loved him and trusted him greatly. As life progressed he become frustrated with the vanity and materialistic world he was apart of. St. Poemen resigned from his job and departed to live the monastic life.

After his asceticism (training) he felt the call to serve the Lord in a land called Ansena. This was a area of great martyrdom. St. Poemen gratefully accepted this call to the red crown of death, and joined forces with the Christians in Ansena.

St. Poemen was tortured severely. He was beaten, and smashed under a large stone wheel. Finally some of his limbs were cut or pulled off. During all of this the Lord strengthened him. It is said that his body was restored.

While St. Poeman was in prison Constantine the righteous became the Emperor. All who were imprisoned for their faith and devotion for Jesus son of God were released from their bondage.

In the prison Jesus came to St. Poeman. He told him to make known to all Christians in prison that the Lord counted them with the martyrs. They were to be called the confessors.

After prison St Poeman resided in a monetary outside of El-Ashmonen. He was given the healing. Sometime later the Empress of Rome became sick with a terminal illness. Word of St. Poeman’s ability to heal the sick traveled and the Empress came to him.

When St. Poeman was asked to meet with her he had no interest. He said “What have I to do with the kings of the earth.” The other brothers pleaded with him, and he finally consented to meet with her. When she saw him she immediately bowed down at his feet. She was anointed and instantly healed by the power of St. Poeman’s prayer.

Prayer
Lord, You invite all who are burdened to come to You. Allow your healing hand to heal me. Touch my soul with Your compassion for others. Touch my heart with Your courage and infinite love for all. Touch my mind with Your wisdom, that my mouth may always proclaim Your praise. Teach me to reach out to You in my need, and help me to lead others to You by my example. Most loving Heart of Jesus, bring me health in body and spirit that I may serve You with all my strength. Touch gently this life which You have created, I ask this St. Poeman the Confessor to intercede on my behalf, and I pray in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit now and forever amen.

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On this day we commemorate the martyrdom of Saints Cosmas and Damian, their brothers Anthimus, Londius and Abrabius and their mother Theodata. Their mother feared God, was hospitable to strangers, compassionate and merciful. She became a widow while her children were still young.

She raised and taught them the fear of God and the love of righteousness. Cosmas and Damian studied medicine and they treated the sick free of charge. As for their brothers they went to the desert and became monks.

When Diocletian renounced the faith and commanded the worship of idols he was told that Cosmas and Damian were preaching in the name of Christ, and they urged others not to worship idols. He ordered them to be brought to the Governor of the city, who tortured them severely by beating and with fire. Then he asked them the whereabouts of their brothers. Upon finding out, he brought them and their mother and ordered them to raise incense before the idols, but they refused.

He ordered them to be tortured by squeezing them between drums. When they experienced no harm, he cast them into a burning furnace for three days and three nights. Then he placed them on red-hot iron beds. Through all this, however they remained unharmed, as the Lord raised them up whole, revealing His glory and the honor of His saints.

When the Governor became weary of torturing them he sent them to the Emperor who also tortured them. Their mother constantly encouraged and comforted them. The Emperor rebuked her, but she admonished him for his cruelty and for worshipping idols. He ordered her that head be cut off and she received the crown of martyrdom.

Her body remained on the ground and no one dared to bury it. St. Cosmas screamed at those present saying: “Men of this city, is there any merciful person among you who will cover the body of this poor old widow and bury her?” Straightaway, Victor, the son of Romanus came forward, took the body, placed it in a shroud, and buried it.

When the Emperor heard what Victor had done, he ordered him be exiled to the land of Egypt. There he received the crown of martyrdom. The next day, the Emperor ordered the heads of saints Cosmas, Damian and their brothers be cut off and then they received the crowns of life in the kingdom of heaven.

At the end of the era of persecution many churches were built in the name of these saints and God made manifest many signs and wonders therein.

Taken from the saints of the day

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