THE PRIEST-MARTYR THEOPEMPOS AND THEONAS

January 5

From the Prologue

When Diocletian began his persecution of the Christians, Theopempos, Bishop of Nicomedia, was among the first to suffer martyrdom for Christ. Theopempos was brought before the emperor who threatened him with punishment of death if he did not deny Christ.

To that threat, the courageous bishop responded to the emperor: "It stands written, `Do not be afraid of those who kill the body' (St. Luke 12:4), `but cannot kill the soul' (St. Matthew 10:28). O Emperor, you have authority over my body; do with it what pleases you."

Theopempos was severely beaten, suffered from hunger and tortured in various ways. Finally, the emperor summoned a certain magician, Theonas by name, to outwit this godly man through magic. Theonas dissolved the most potent poison in water and gave it to Theopempos to drink. Theopempos traced the sign of the cross over the glass and drank the poison.

Theonas, upon seeing that the poison had no effect on Theopempos, turned to the emperor and shouted, " I, too, am a Christian and bow down before the Crucified One." Both were sentenced to death in the year 298 A.D.; Theopempos was beheaded and Theonas was buried alive. They honorably suffered and became citizens of the Kingdom of Christ.





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