December 13: Martyrs Eustratius, Auxentius, Eugene, Mardarius, and Orestes, at Sebaste (284-305); Venerable Ares, monk in the Egyptian desert; Venerable Arsenius the Ascetic of Mt. Latros (ca.8th-10th c.); Martyr Antiochus of Sulcis, under Emperor Hadrian (ca.110); Virgin-Martyr Lucy of Syracuse (Lucia) (304); Saint Columba of Terryglass and Holy Island on Lough Derg, Ireland (549) (see also December 12); Saint Judoc (Judocus, Judganoc, Josse), a Priest, brother of King Judicäel of Brittany, became a hermit in Villiers-Saint-Josse (Ponthieu) (ca.668); Saint Aubert, Bishop of Cambrai-Arras in France, founded monasteries including Saint Vaast Abbey in Arras (669); Saint Odilia of Alsace (Otilia, Othilia) (ca.720); Saint Edburga of Minster-in-Thanet, a disciple of St Mildred, whom she probably succeeded as Abbess of Minster-in-Thanet in 716 (751); Saint Tassio, Duke of Bavaria and a great monastic benefactor, became a monk at Jumièges Abbey, reposed at Lorsch Abbey (ca.794); Saints Einhildis and Roswinda, nuns at Hohenburg Abbey in Alsace in France with St Ottilia (8th c.); Saint Wilfrid (Wiffred), a monk and Abbot of the Monastery of St Victor in Marseilles, France (1021); Venerable Arcadius of Novy Torg, Monk of Novotorzhok, disciple of St. Ephrem (1077); Saints Neophytos, Ignatius, Procopius and Neilos, founders of the Holy Monastery of Machaira, Cyprus (1145, 1172); Saint Mardarius, Recluse of the Kiev Caves (13th c.); Hieromartyr Gabriel I of Pec, Archbishop of Serbia (1659); Saint Dositheus, Metropolitan of Moldavia (Romania) (1693); Venerable Nicodemus of Romania; Repose of Venerable Herman of Alaska, Wonder-worker of All America (1836) (see also December 12 - Service sung; and August 9 - feast day); New Hieromartyr Alexander, Priest, and Martyr John (1920); New Hieromartyr Vladimir Lozina-Lozinsky, Protopresbyter of St. Petersburg (1937); New Hieromartyrs Alexander and Jacob, Priests (1937); New Hieromartyr Nicholas (Amasisky), Priest of Alma-Ata (1938); New Hieromartyrs Emilian and Basil, Priests (1941); Other Commemorations: Synaxis of the First Martyrs of the American land: Hieromartyr Juvenaly (1796) and Peter the Aleut (ca.1815) (see also September 24 - Synaxis of All Saints of Alaska); Repose of Schemamonk Panteleimon “the Resurrected,” of Glinsk Hermitage (1895); Repose of Blessed Maximus of Ustiug (1906); Repose of Bishop Theodore, Wonderworker of Trolov Convent in Kiev (1924); Repose of Hieromonk Joel of Valaam (1937).
The Holy Martyrs Eustratius, Auxentius, Eugene, Mardarius, and Orestes
The Holy Martyrs Eustratius, Auxentius, Eugene, Mardarius, and Orestes (the Five Companions) suffered for Christ under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) at Sebaste, in Armenia.
Among the first Christians imprisoned and undergoing torture at that time was St Auxentius, a presbyter of the Arabian Church. One of those who witnessed the steadfastness of the Christians was the noble military commander St Eustratius, the city prefect of Satalios, and archivist of the province. He was secretly a Christian, and when he openly confessed his faith, he was subjected to torture. They beat him, and put iron sandals studded with sharp nails on his feet, then forced him to march to the city of Arabrak.
Witnessing the arrival of St Eustratius in Arabrak, one of the common people, St Mardarius, confessed that he was also a Christian like St Eustratius. He was arrested and cast into prison. Holes were drilled in his ankles, and ropes were passed them. He was suspended upside down, then heated nails were hammered into his body. He died a short time later. To him is attributed the prayer “O Master Lord God, Father Almighty ...” (which is read at the end of the Third Hour).
As for St Eugene, they ripped out his tongue, they cut off his hands and feet, and then they beheaded him with a sword. St Auxentius was also arrested and beheaded. The young soldier St Orestes confessed himself a Christian and stood trial for this “crime.” He was sentenced to be stretched out upon a red-hot iron bed, and became frightened when he approached it. Encouraged by St Eustratius, he made the Sign of the Cross and got onto the heated bed, where he surrendered his soul to God.
St Eustratius was sentenced to be burned alive on December 13. As he was being led to his death, he prayed aloud (“I magnify Thee exceedingly, O Lord, for Thou hast regarded my lowliness...”). This prayer is still read at the Saturday Midnight Office.