Commemorated on November 5
The Holy Martyrs
Galaktion and Epistimia: A rich and distinguished couple named Klitophon
and Leukippia lived in the city of Phoenician Emesa, and for a long time they
were childless. The spouses gave over much gold to the pagan priests, but still
they remained childless.
The city of Emesa in
the III Century was governed by a Syrian named Secundus, put there by the Roman
Caesars. He was a merciless and zealous persecutor of Christians, and to
intimidate them he gave orders to display out on the streets the instruments of
refined torture. The slightest suspicion of belonging to "the sect of the
Galileian" (as thus Christians were called by the pagans), sufficed to get
a man arrested and handed over for torture. In spite of this, many Christians
voluntarily gave themselves over into the hands of the executioners, in their
desire to suffer for Christ.
A certain old man, by
the name of Onuphrios, concealing beneathe his beggar's rags his monastic and
priestly dignity, walked from house to house in Emesa, begging alms. Everywhere
where he saw the possibility to turn people away from the pagan error, there he
preached about Christ. One time he came to the magnificent house of Leukippia.
In accepting alms from her he sensed, that the woman was in sorrow, and he
asked what was the cause of this sadness. She told the elder about her familial
misfortune. In consoling her, Onuphrios began to tell her about the One True
God, about His almightiness and mercy, and that He always grants the prayer of
those turning to Him with faith. Hope filled the soul of Leukippia. She
believed and accepted Holy Baptism. Soon after this in a dream it was revealed
to her, that she would give birth to a son, who would be a true follower of
Christ. At first Leukippia concealed from her husband her delight, but after
the infant was born, she revealed the secret to her husband and persuaded him
likewise to be baptised.
They named the baby
Galaktion. His parents raised him in the Christian faith and provided him a
fine education. He could make for himself an illustrious career, but Galaktion
sought rather for an immaculate and monastic life – in solitude and prayer.
When Galaktion turned
age 24, his father resolved to marry him off and they found him a bride, a
beautiful and illustrious girl by the name of Epistimia. The son did not oppose
the will of his father; however, through the will of God, the nuptials were for
a certain while postponed. Visiting often with his betrothed, Galaktion
gradually revealed about his faith to her, and he converted her to Christ and
he himself secretly baptised her. Together with Epistimia he baptised also one
of her servants, Eutolmios. The newly-illumined decided, on the initiative of
Galaktion, to devote themselves to a monastic life. Quitting the city, they hid
themselves away on Mount Publion, where there were two monasteries, one for men
and the other for women. The new monastics had to take with them all the
necessities for physical toil, since the inhabitants of both monasteries were
both old and infirm. For several years the monastics asceticised at work,
fasting and prayer. But one time Epistimia had a vision in her sleep: Galaktion
and she stood in a wondrous palace before the Resplendent King, and the King
bestowed on them golden crowns. This was a presentiment of their impending
The existence of the
monasteries became known to the pagans, and a military detachment was sent off
to apprehend their inhabitants. But the monks and the nuns succeeded in hiding
themselves away in the hills. Galaktion however had no desire to flee and so he
remained in his cell, reading Holy Scripture. When Epistimia saw that the soldiers
were leading away Galaktion in chains, she began to implore the hegumeness to
permit her to go also, since she wanted to accept torture for Christ together
with her fiancee-teacher. The hegumeness with tears blessed Epistimia to do so.
The saints endured
terrible torments, whilst supplicating and glorifying Christ. By order of the
judge they were quartered asunder.
Eutolmios, the former
servant of Epistimia, and who had become her brother in Christ and co-ascetic
in monastic deeds, secretly gave reverent burial to the bodies of the holy
martyrs. He later wrote in eulogy of their lives, for both his contemporaries and
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.