« Fortunatus (18), bp Forty Martyrs, The Fravitta, bp. of Constantinople »

Forty Martyrs, The

Forty Martyrs, The. Three groups occur as such:—

(1) Forty soldiers, who suffered under Licinius, 320, at Sebaste in Armenia. A list of their names is given in the martyrology of Ado under March 11. [See SEBASTE, FORTY MARTYRS OF, in D. C. A.] They were young, brave, and noted for their services. The emperor having ordained that the military police of the cities should offer sacrifices, the governor called upon these forty to comply. They refused, and withstood both bribes and threats. Thereupon a new punishment was devised. They were immersed for a whole night in a frozen pond, a hot bath being placed within sight for any who might choose to avail themselves of it, their doing so, however, being the sign of apostasy. The trial was too great for one. He left the pond and flung himself into the bath, but as soon as he touched the hot water he died. The number of forty was not, however, broken. The sentinel who watched the bath saw in a vision angels descend and distribute rewards to all in the pond. The guard at once stripped off his clothing and took the vacant place in the pond. Next morning they were all flung into fires. There was one Melito, younger and more vigorous than the rest, whose resolution they thought they might shake. His mother, however, who was present, herself placed him in the executioner's cart, saying: "Go, my son, finish this happy voyage with thy comrades, that thou mayst not be the last presented to God." Their relics were carefully preserved and carried to various cities, where many churches 372were built in their honour. The mother Emmelia, and the sister Macrina, of St. Basil obtained some for their monastery near the village of Annesi in Pontus, where already a church had been built in their honour (Greg. Nys. Vit. S. Macyin.). Sozomen (H. E. ix. 2) tells a strange story about another set of their relics. In addition to the authorities quoted, consult Pitra, Analect. Sacr. t. i. p. 599, in Spicil. Solesmense. Their popularity throughout the entire East has ever been very great (cf. Dr. Zirecek, Geschichte der Bulgaren). In Burton's Unexplored Syria, App. ii., a church in their honour is noted at Huns, near Damascus; cf. also Melchior de Vogüé, Les Églises de la terre sainte, p. 367.

(2) Another set of Forty Martyrs in Persia, 375. is commemorated on May 20 (Assemani, Mart. Orient. i. 141). Among them were the bishops Abdas and Ebed-Jesu. Ceillier, iii. 82, 336; Bas. Menol.

(3) Under Dec. 24 Forty Virgin Martyrs under Decius at Antioch in Syria are noted in Mart. Hieron., Adon., Usuard.

[G.T.S.]

« Fortunatus (18), bp Forty Martyrs, The Fravitta, bp. of Constantinople »
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