Saint Lydia of Thyatira. Holy Martyr Thallelaius

Saint Lydia of Thyatira. Holy Martyr Thallelaius


Saint Lydia of Thyatira (Lydia of Philippi), Equal-to-the-Apostles (mentioned in Acts 16:14-15), (1st c.); Martyrs Thalelaeus the Unmercenary (Thallelaios), at Anazarbus in Cilicia, and his companions martyrs Alexander and Asterius (284); Martyr Asclas of the Thebaid, Egypt (287); Sts. Zabulon and Susanna, of Cappadocia and Jerusalem (parents of St. Nina (Nino), enlightener of Georgia), (4th c.); Saint Mark the Hermit (Marcus Eremita) (5th c.); Saint Dodo, disciple of Saint David of Georgia (David Gareja monastery complex) (609) (see also May 17); Holy Martyrs of Mamilla, Jerusalem (614); Saint Thalassius the Myrrh-gusher, of Libya (648); Saints John, Joseph and Nicetas, monks of Nea Moni on Chios (ca.1050); Saint Plautilla the Roman, martyr, (67); Hieromartyr Baudelius, missionary in France and northern Spain, martyred in Nîmes (2nd or 3rd c.); Virgin-martyr Basilla (304); Saint Hilary (Hilarius, Hilaire), Bishop of Toulouse in France (360); Saint Anastasius, Bishop of Brescia in Lombardy, in Italy (610); Saint Austregisilus (Aoustrille, Outrille), Bishop of Bourges and Confessor (624); Saint Theodore of Pavia, Bishop of Pavia (778); Saint Ethelbert (Albert, Albright), King of East Anglia in England, martyr (794) (see also May 29); Saint Daumantas of Pskov (Timothy, Dovmont-Timothy), prince of Pskov (1299)]; Saint Stephen, Abbot of Piperi in Serbia (1697); New Martyrs of Moscow (1922): Hieromartyr Macarius - priest-monk, Hieromartyrs Alexander (Zaozersky) and Basil (Sokolov) - Protopresbyters, Hieromartyr Christopher (Nadezhdin) - priest, Martyr Sergius (Tikhomirov); Venerable New Martyr Olympiada (Verbetska), Igumenia of Kozelschansk women's monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God (1938); Other Commemorations: Translation of the holy relics (1087) of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker (343); Uncovering of the relics (1431) of Saint Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow, Wonderworker of All Russia (1378); Repose of Schema-monk Cyriacus of Valaam (1798).

The Martyrs Thallelaeus, Alexander and Asterius lived during the reign of Numerian (283-284). The prefect of the city of Aegea sent soldiers to seek out Christians. They brought to him Thallelaeus, an eighteen-year-old blond-haired youth. To the prefect's questions St Thallelaeus replied, "I am a Christian, a native of Lebanon. My father, Beruchius, was a military commander, and my mother was named Romylia. My brother is a subdeacon. I, however, am studying medicine under the physician Macarius. During a former persecution against Christians in Lebanon, I was brought before the prefect Tiberius, and barely escaped execution. But now that I stand before this court, do with me as you will. I wish to die for Christ my Savior and my God, and hope to endure all torments with His help."

The enraged prefect ordered the two torturers Alexander and Asterius to bore through the knees of the martyr, pass a rope through the bone, and suspend him head downwards. But the executioners, by God's design, bored into a block of wood, which they hung up in place of the martyr. When the prefect saw that they had deceived him, he then ordered that Alexander and Asterius be whipped. They also confessed themselves Christians and glorified God. The prefect immediately gave orders to cut off their heads. Twice he attempted to carry out the execution, and to bore through the saint's knees, but the grace of God prevented him. Then he commanded that St Thallelaeus be drowned.

The returning servants reported to the prefect that they had carried out the execution, but just as they finished their report, St Thallelaeus appeared in white raiment. For a long time everyone was numbed with terror, but finally the prefect said, "Behold, this sorcerer has bewitched even the sea."

Then one of his advisers, the magician Urbician, told the prefect to have the martyr thrown to the wild beasts. But neither the vicious bear, not the hungry lion and lioness, would touch the saint, all meekly lay down at his feet. Seeing this happen, the people began to shout, "Great is the God of the Christians. O God of Thallelaeus, have mercy on us!"

The crowd seized Urbician and threw him to the beasts, which did not hesitate to tear the magician apart. Finally, the prefect gave orders to kill the holy martyr with a sword. They led Christ's martyr to the place of execution, called Aegea, where he prayed to God and bent his neck beneath the sword. This occurred in the year 284.

The relics of the holy martyr Thallelaeus are in the church of St Agathonicus of Constantinople and have performed many miracles. St Thallelaeus treated the sick without payment. For this reason, the Church calls him an Unmercenary Physician. He is invoked in prayers for the sick in the Mystery of Holy Unction, and during the Blessing of Waters.

Lydia of Thyatira

Lydia of Thyatira

As recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, Lydia of Thyatira was the Apostle Paul’s first convert to Christianity in Europe. Her conversion came after hearing Paul’s words in Philippi proclaiming the Gospel of Christ during his second mission journey. She is remembered on March 27 and June 25.

As described in the Acts, Lydia was a “seller of purple”, a person who traded in purple dyes and fabrics for which the city of Thyatira was noted. Purple goods were part of a high value industry and were used by emperors, high government officials, and priests of the pagan religions.

Tradition relates that she and her husband may have been involved in this business. At some point Lydia and her household moved from Asia Minor to the city of Philippi in Macedonia. The reasons she moved may have been business related as Philippi was a Roman colony on the major east-west trade route, the Egnation Highway, between Rome and Asia. Also, she may have been a Jewish convert who no longer could worship in the custom of the Thyatirans.

The words of The Acts quoted below describe Lydia’s meeting with the Apostle Paul on his second missionary journey about the year 50. Paul and his companions started their journey visiting the established churches in western Asia Minor when he answered a vision in which he saw a man dressed in a Macedonian manner calling upon him to “Come over to Macedonia and help us.“

Paul’s custom was to find local synagogues in which he would preach. But, apparently the Jewish population in Philippi was not sufficient to allow holding Sabbath Services for the Jewish men. Thus, Paul’s party walked out of the city following the Gangites River (now called the Angista River) when they came upon a group of women praying in the manner of Jews, along flowing water. After greeting the women, Paul and his companions sat down and shared the good news of Christ’s salvation with them. Lydia, among the women, had listened attentively and took the message to heart. She and her family were then baptized in the Gangites River along which they had been praying. Thus, Lydia became the first person in Europe to become a follower of Christ.

As Acts notes, Paul and his companions were well received by Lydia as they stay at her house after their release from the Philippi prison. Surely, during their imprisonment, Lydia and those who assembled in her home spent the night in prayer for the release of Paul and Silas, making her home the first Christian Church in Europe. When Paul departed from Philippi he left Luke behind to preach the Gospel and to establish firmly the church in Philippi, using as its core Lydia, the jailer, and their households.

Paul speaks fondly, in his letter to the Philippians, of the brethren who were members of the church of Philippi, calling them ”…my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown…”. (Philippians 4:1)