Afterfeast of the Theophany. Martyr Polyeuctus of Melitene in Armenia (259). Hieromartyr Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia (1570). Prophet Shemaiah (Samaia, Semeias—3 Kings 12:22—10th c. B.C.). St. Peter, Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia (4th c.). St. Eustratius the Wonderworker (9th c.).
Saint Polyeuctus was the first martyr in the Armenian city of Meletine. He was a soldier under the emperor Decius (249-251) and he later suffered for Christ under the emperor Valerian (253-259). The saint was friend also of Nearchos, a fellow-soldier and firm Christian, but Polyeuctus, though he led a virtuous life, remained a pagan.
When the persecution against Christians began, Nearchos said to Polyeuctus, “Friend, we shall soon be separated, for they will take me to torture, and you alas, will renounce your friendship with me.” Polyeuctus told him that he had seen Christ in a dream, Who took his soiled military cloak from him and dressed him in a radiant garment. “Now,” he said, “I am prepared to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Enflamed with zeal, Saint Polyeuctus went to the city square, and tore up the edict of Decius which required everyone to worship idols. A few moments later, he met a procession carrying twelve idols through the streets of the city. He dashed the idols to the ground and trampled them underfoot.
His father-in-law, the magistrate Felix, who was responsible for enforcing the imperial edict, was horrified at what Saint Polyeuctus had done and declared that he had to die for this. “Go, bid farewell to your wife and children,” said Felix. Paulina came and tearfully entreated her husband to renounce Christ. His father-in-law Felix also wept, but Saint Polyeuctus remained steadfast in his resolve to suffer for Christ.
With joy he bent his head beneath the sword of the executioner and was baptized in his own blood. Soon, when the Church of Christ in the reign of Saint Constantine had triumphed throughout all the Roman Empire, a church was built at Meletine in honor of the holy Martyr Polyeuctus. Many miracles were worked through the intercession of Saint Polyeuctus. In this very church the parents of Saint Euthymius the Great (January 20) prayed fervently for a son. The birth of this great luminary of Orthodoxy in the year 376 occurred through the help of the holy Martyr Polyeuctus.
Saint Polyeuctus was also venerated by Saint Acacius, Bishop of Meletine (March 31), a participant in the Third Ecumenical Council, and a great proponent of Orthodoxy. In the East, and also in the West, the holy Martyr Polyeuctus is venerated as a patron saint of vows and treaty agreements.
The Polyeucte Overture of French composer Paul Dukas is only one of many pieces of classical music inspired by the saints. It premiered in January of 1892. French dramatist Pierre Corneille has also written a play, Polyeucte (1642), based on the martyr’s life.
TROPARIA AND KONTAKIA
Troparion of the Theophany, tone 1
When You, O Lord were baptized in the Jordan The worship of the Trinity was made manifest For the voice of the Father bore witness to You And called You His beloved Son. And the Spirit, in the form of a dove, Confirmed the truthfulness of His word. O Christ, our God, You have revealed Yourself And have enlightened the world, glory to You!
Troparion of the saint, tone 4
Your holy martyr Polyeuctus, O Lord, through his suffering has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God. For having Your strength, he laid low his adversaries, and shattered the powerless boldness of demons. Through his intercessions, save our souls!
Kontakion of the saint, tone 4
When the Savior bowed his head in the Jordan, the heads of the dragons were crushed; when Polyeuctus was beheaded, the deceiver was put to shame.
Kontakion of the Theophany, tone 4
Today You have shown forth to the world, O Lord, and the light of Your countenance has been marked on us. Knowing You, we sing Your praises. You have come and revealed Yourself, O unapproachable Light.
2 Timothy 4:9-22 (Epistle)
- Be diligent to come to me quickly;
- for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica – Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia.
- Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.
- And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.
- Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come – and the books, especially the parchments.
- Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works.
- You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words.
- At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.
- But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
- And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
- Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.
- Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick.
- Do your utmost to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, as well as Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brethren.
- The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.
Luke 20:1-8 (Gospel)
- Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him
- and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?”
- But He answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me:
- The baptism of John – was it from heaven or from men?”
- And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’
- But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”
- So they answered that they did not know where it was from.
- And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”