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March 22nd (IV - 4)

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of Priest Martyr Basil, Matryress Drosida and Matryress Kalliniki

PriestMartyr Basil, Presbyter of Ancyra (+ c. 362-363). Martyress Drosida, Daughter of Emperor Trajan, and with her the Virgin-Martyrs: Aglaida, Apollinaria, Daria, Mamthusa, Taisia (+ c. 104-117). Martyr Mamant of Lungisia. Monk Isaac of Dalmatia (IV). Martyresses Callinica and Basilissa (+ c. 252). Martyr Basil of Mangazeia (+ 1602).

The PriestMartyr Basil was a presbyter in Galatian Ancyra. During the time of the widespread Arian heresy he summoned his flock to hold on firmly to Orthodoxy. For this Saint Basil was deprived of the priestly dignity by a local Arian council, but at a Palestine Council of 230 bishops he was restored to the dignity of presbyter. Saint Basil openly continued his preaching, denouncing the Arians, and for this he became the victim of persecution and was subjected to beating as a man allegedly dangerous to the state. Two apostates -- Elpidios and Pegasios -- were appointed for breaking away Saint Basil from Orthodoxy. But the saint remained unshakable and for this was again subjected to tortures. When the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) arrived in the city of Ancyra, Saint Basil afront him at the trial bravely confessed Christ, and denounced the emperor for his apostasy. Julian gave orders to cut a strip of skin from the back of the saint. But the holy Presbyter Basil undauntedly endured the gruesome torture.

When they began to burn and tear at the shoulders and stomach with red-hot rods, he fell down upon the ground from the torments and loudly prayed: "O Christ, my Light! O Jesus, my Hope! Quiet Haven for the pounding by waves. I give Thee thanks, O Lord God of my fathers, in that Thou hast snatched my soul from the pit of hell and preserved Thy Name in me unstained! Let me finish my life a victor and inherit rest eternal according to the promise, given my fathers by Thee, Great High-Priest Jesus Christ, our Lord! Now in peace accept my soul, plying steadfast in this confession! For Thou art merciful and great is Thine mercy, Thou Who dost live and sojourn throughout all the ages, amen".

Having made suchlike prayer, and lacerated all over by the red-hot rods, the saint as it were fell into a sweet slumber, giving up his soul into the hands of God. The PriestMartyr Basil died 29 June 362. On account of the feastday of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, his memory was transferred to 22 March.

The Holy Martyress Drosida, together with Five Virgin-Martyrs Agalida, Apollinaria, Daria, Mamthusa and Taisia: Saint Drosida was daughter of the emperor Trajan (98-117), a fierce persecutor of Christians. In the year 99 he re-activated an earlier existing law which forbade secret gatherings and was indirectly aimed against Christians, and in the year 104 he issued a special law against Christians. Beginning with this year, the persecutions continued until the end of his reign. During this time the bodies of killed Christians often remained unburied for the purpose of scaring others. Five Christian virgins: Aglaida, Apolliniaria, Daria, Mamthusa and Taisia, took upon themselves the task of burying such Christians. They secretly gathered up the bodies of martyrs, anointed them with aromatics, wrapped them in shroud-cloths and buried them. Having learned of this, the imperial Drosida, secretly a Christian but not yet having accepted Baptism, asked the holy virgins to take her with them, when they would go to make burial of Christians.

On the advice of the fiancee of Saint Drosida, the court dignitary Adrian, a guard was set nearby those killed, to arrest those who would bury them. And on the very first night Saint Drosida and the five virgins were caught. Having learned that among the captives was his own daughter, Trajan gave orders to hold her separately, in the hope that she would change her mind. The remaining holy virgins were sentenced to burning in a copper-foundry furnace. They bravely accepted execution and were vouchsafed martyrs crowns. From the copper, mingled with the ashes of the martyresses, were molded tripods for a new bath of Trajan. But as long as these tripods stood in the bath-house, no man was able to enter there: anyone crossing the threshold fell down dead. When the pagan priests perceived from whence this happened, they gave advice to remove the tripods.

Then Adrian suggested to the emperor to remelt the tripods and to make from them five statues of naked virgins, resembling the executed martyresses, and for mockery and jeering to place these statues in front of the entrance to the imperial bath. Trajan agreed. When the statues were set up, the emperor saw in a dream five pure lambs pastured in paradise, and the shepherd which did say to him: "O most wanton and wicked Caesar! Those, the depictions of whom thou intended to set up for mockery, the Good and Merciful Pastor hath snatched away from thee and settled here, whither in time shalt also be the pure lamb Drosida, thine daughter". Having awakened, the wanton Trajan went into a rage and gave orders to fire up two huge furnaces and to fire them up daily. At the ovens was put up an imperial edict: "Men of the Galileian, ye worshipping the Crucified, deliver yourselves from a great many agonies, and us also from these labours: offer sacrifice to the gods. If ye however wish not to do this, then let each of you voluntarily, by whatever manner he wanteth, cast himself into this furnace". Many Christians voluntarily went to martyrdom.

Having learned of this, Saint Drosida decided likewise to accept a martyr's death for Christ. In her imprisonment she offered up prayers that the Lord would help her exit from the prison. And God heard her prayer: the guards fell asleep. Set free, Saint Drosida went off towards the ovens, but began to ponder within herself: "How can I go to God, not having upon myself the wedding garb (i.e. not having been baptised), since I am impure. But, O King of kings Lord Jesus Christ, on account of Thee I do forsake my imperial position, so that Thou might vouchsafe me to be the very least doormaid in Thine kingdom. Do Thou Thyself baptise me with Thine Holy Spirit". Having thus prayed, Saint Drosida anointed herself with myrh (chrism), which she had taken along with her, and thrice submerging herself in water, pronounced: "the servant of God Drosida is baptised in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". For seven days the saint hid herself, devoted to fasting and prayer. During this time Christians found her and learned from her the account of everything that occurred. And on the eighth day the holy Martyress Drosida went to the red-hot ovens and cast herself into the fire.

The Monk Isaac of Dalmatia: the account about him is located under 30 May (+ 30 May 383).

The Holy Martyresses Callinica and Basilissa were beheaded by the sword at Rome in the year 252.

Righteous Basil of Mangazeia died on 4 April 1602. His feastday of 22 March celebrates his name in common with the PriestMartyr Basil, Presbyter of Ancyra. The account about Righteous Basil of Mangazeia is located under 10 May -- on the day of transfer of his holy relics from Mangazeia to Turukhan.

© 1998 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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