Today we celebrate the forty martyrs of Sebaste, witnesses to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
In the year 320, 40 young men (likely around 20 years old) were executed for refusing to sacrifice to idols and to obey the Emperor’s command. These young men had been conscripted to serve in the army in present day Armenia. When it came time for them to sacrifice to idols, they refused. According to one version, there were originally 39 Christians who refused to obey this order, and upon seeing their bravery, a fortieth man, who was a pagan, threw down his weapons and his military belt (a capital offense, for its disrespect to the profession) and declared that he was to die with the Christians. They were martyred by being thrown naked in a lake.
The Troparion for the feast day
Together let us honor the holy company united by faith,
Those noble warriors of the Master of all.
They were divinely enlisted for Christ,
And passed through fire and water.
Then they entered into refreshment praying for those who cry:
Glory to him who has strengthened you!
Glory to him who has crowned you!
Glory to him who has made you wonderful, O holy Forty Martyrs!