THE THIRD MONTH
IN THE NAME
OF THE FATHER AND THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT,
On this day fifty nuns, who were pure and holy virgins, together
with their mother Sofia, became martyrs.
These pure and holy women came from widely separated cities and
districts, and they were gathered together by divine and spiritual love,
and the desire to assume the garb of the ascetic life, which is the garb
of the angels. They dwelt in
one of the houses for virgins, which were in the city of Roha (Edessa),
and they had as superior the holy Abbess Sofia who was filled with every
kind of grace and with wisdom. And
she trained them so perfectly in the duties and exercises of the spiritual
life that they became like angels upon earth, and they fasted and prayed
continually, and read the histories of the spiritual fighting of the
monks. Among them were some who had dwelt in the nunnery for seven
years. And some of them were novices.
The infidel Emperor Julian passed by their house in the city of
Roha (Edessa) on his way to make war on Sapor, the son of Sapor, the King
of Persia, for he had heard that Sapor was coming to make war upon him.
And Julian having gone against him and come back, he went to that
nunnery wherein the virgins lived, and he asked [an officer] what the
building was. And [the
officer] said unto him, “This is a nunnery.” and Julian commanded his
soldiers to go into that nunnery, and to kill everyone in it, and to carry
off all the goods which were therein.
And the soldiers of the infidel emperor went into the nunnery, and
they beat the virgins with whips and cut off their heads with swords, and
they plundered everything which was there.
And because of this thing the Lord took vengeance upon him with the
vengeance of His wrath, that is to say, Saint Mercurius the martyr speared
him with his spear whilst he was engaged in fighting, and he cast him from
his horse, and killed him. And
Julian died an evil death, and he departed to the Sheol which is forever.
And these holy virgins went into everlasting joy, and inherited the
kingdom of heaven. Salutation
to the virgins whose blood Mercurius avenged.
And on this day also a General Council of the Saints took place
in the days of Victor, Archbishop of the city of Rome, and in the days of
Demetrius, Archbishop of the city of Alexandria. Now the cause for the assembling of this Council was this:
Christian people were baptized on the festival of baptism, on the
twenty-first day of the month Ter (Jan. - Feb.), and from the following
day they fasted until the twenty-second day of the month Yakatit (Feb. -
March), that is to say, for forty days, and then they ate.
And after thirty days they began, on the twenty-third day of
Magabit (March - April), and kept the Octave of the Passion of our Lord
Jesus Christ, and the festival of His Resurrection, for the Crucifixion of
our Lord took place on the twenty-ninth day of Magabit.
After Demetrius, Archbishop of the city of Alexandria, had been
enthroned, God illumined the heart of a certain artisan, who knew not how
to read or to write, with Divine grace, and he learned all the Laws of the
Church, and he knew them by heart, and he interpreted them.
Then by the Holy Spirit he compiled a table for reckoning the
Epact, wherefrom men might know [the days of] the Fast, and the
Resurrection; and he wrote in the Coptic and Greek (Rom) tongues.
Then he made a copy of this table of Epact and sent it to Victor,
Archbishop of the city of Rome, he read it and found it good and rejoiced
therein exceedingly. And he
sent and gathered together a large assembly containing fourteen bishops of
his diocese, and many learned priests, and he read to them the calculation
of the Epact, and they found it very good, and they rejoiced in it, and
accepted it, and they wrote many copies of it and sent them into all
countries. And the Holy Fast
and the Festival of Easter have been regulated by that circulation from
that day to this. And they
departed to their countries praising the Father and the Son and the Holy
Ghost, to Whom be glory and honor. Salutation
to Demetrius and to the priests who made haste to assemble in order to
make rules for times for keeping Lent and Easter.
On this day Paul and his three companions became martyrs.
be to God Who is glorified in His Saints.