July 16

From the Prologue

Athenogenes lived in a monastery near the town of Sebaste with ten of his disciples. During the reign of Diocletian, Philomarchus, a cruel persecutor of Christians, came to Sebaste. He arrested and murdered many Christians in the town. When he saw Athenogenes and his disciples, he told the elder to offer a sacrifice to the idols so as not to be slain as were the other Christians. Athenogenes replied to him: "O persecutor, those whom you mention as being slain are not slain (dead) but rather are in the heavens and rejoice with the angels." It was a touching sight to see a female deer, whom the merciful Athenogenes fed with his own hand, run up to him and seeing him in misery began to shed tears. Even the wild beasts of the mountain had greater pity toward the martyrs of Christ than the heathens! After cruel tortures, during which an angel of God comforted the martyrs, they were all beheaded; at first the priests and all co-laborers of Athenogenes and after that, Athenogenes himself. All were received into the heavenly fatherland in the year 311 A.D.

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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas