The 12 Martyred Saints – Pamphilos the Presbyter, Valentus (Ualentos) the Deacon, Paul, Porphyrios, Seleucios, Theodoulos, Julian, Samuel, Ilias, Daniel, Jeremiah and Isaiah
Commemorated on February 16
The 12 Martyred
Saints – Pamphilos the Presbyter, Valentus (Ualentos) the Deacon, Paul,
Porphyrios, Seleucios, Theodoulos, Julian, Samuel, Ilias, Daniel, Jeremiah and
Isaiah suffered during the time of a persecution against christians,
initiated by the emperor Diocletian in the years 308-309 at Caesarea in
Palestine. The holy martyr Pamphilos, a native of the city of Berit (Beirut),
received his education at Alexandria, after which he was made presbyter at
Caesarea. He laboured much over the collation and correction of copyist errors
in texts of the New Testament. The corrected texts of Saint Pamphilos were copied
out and distributed to those wanting them. In such form many pagans were
converted to Christ through them. His works and concerned matters at Caesarea
were gathered up into the extensive library of spiritual books available for
the enlightening of christians. Blessed Jerome (IV – beginning V Century)
deeply respected Saint Pamphilos and considered himself fortuneate to have
located and come into possession of several of his manuscripts. Actively
assisting Saint Pamphilos in proclaiming the faith in Christ were Saint
Valentus, deacon of the church at Eleia – a man bent over with age and
well-versed in the Holy Scriptures, and Saint Paul, ardent in faith and love
for Christ the Saviour. All three were imprisoned for 2 years by the governor
of Palestinian Caesarea, Urban. During the rule of his successor Firmilian, 130
christians were sentenced in Egypt and sent off to Cilicia (Asia Minor) to work
in the gold mines. Five young brothers accompanied them there to the place of
exile. On the return journey to Egypt they were detained at Caesarea and thrown
into prison for confessing Christ. They brought the youths for judgement to
Firmilian, together with those imprisoned earlier – Saints Pamphilos, Valentus
and Paul. Having been named with names of Old Testament prophets – Ilias,
Jeremiah, Isaiah, Samuel and Daniel – the youths answered the question of
their fatherland by saying, that they were citizens of Jerusalem, meaning by
this the heavenly Jerusalem. Firmilian knew nothing about a such-named city,
since on the site of Jerusalem – razed to the ground by the emperor Titus in
the year 70 – had been constructed a new city by the emperor Adrian (117-138),
which at the time was named Eleia-Adrian. Firmilian tortured the youths for a
long time. He sought to learn the location of the unknown city, and he sought
to persuade the youths to apostacise. But nothing was accomplished, and the
governor gave them over for beheading by the sword together with Pamphilos,
Valentus and Paul.
Before this occurred, a servant of presbyter Pamphilos was given to suffer – this was the 18 year old youth Porphyrios, meek and humble. He had heard the sentence of death for the condemned martyrs, and asked the governor's permission to bury the bodies after execution. For this he was sentenced to death and given over to burning on a bon-fire.
A witness of this execution – the pious christian Seleucios, a former soldier – in saluting the deeds of the sufferers, went up to Pamphilos before execution and told him about the martyr's end of Saint Porphyrios. He was seized upon by soldiers and, on orders from Firmilian, was beheaded by the sword together with the condemned.
One of the governor's servants, Thoedoulos, a man of venerable age and secretly a christian, greeted the martyrs being led to execution, gave them a kiss and asked them to pray for him. He was taken by soldiers for questioning to Firmilian, on whose orders he was crucified on a cross.
The youth Julian, a native of Cappadocia who had come to Caesarea, caught view of the bodies of the saints which had been thrown to wild beasts without burial. Julian went down on his knees and venerated the bodies of the sufferers. Soldiers standing by at the wall seized hold of him and took him to the governor, who condemned him to burning. The bodies of all 12 martyrs stayed without burial for 4 days. Neither beasts nor birds would touch them. Embarrassed by this situation, the pagans permitted christians to take the bodies of the martyrs and bury them.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.