St. John the Baptist Parish, A Parish of the Russian Orthodox Church, Canberra, Australia

12 / 25 October

The Holy Martyrs Tarachus, Probus and Andronicus

Tarachus was born in Syrian Claudiopolis, Probus in Pamphylian Side and Andronicus was the son of an eminent citizen of Ephesus. They were all three martyred together by the proconsul, Hymerius Maximus, in the time of the Emperor Diocletian (284-305). Tarachus was sixty-five years old when he was martyred. When the proconsul asked him three times for his name, he answered all three times: 'I am a Christian.' They were first beaten with rods, then, all bloody and wounded, thrown into prison. After that, they were brought out again for further torture. When the proconsul urged Probus to deny Christ, promising him honours from the Emperor and his own friendship, holy Probus replied: 'I neither desire imperial honours nor seek your friendship.' When he put St Andronicus to even greater physical torture, Christ's young martyr replied: 'My body is before you; do with it what you will.' After long-drawn-out torture in various places, these three holy martyrs were thrown into the theatre before the wild beasts. Before them, others were torn to pieces by the animals in this same theatre, but the beasts would not touch the saints; both the bear and the ferocious lioness fawned around them. Seeing this, many people believed in Christ the Lord and cried out against the proconsul. Wild with anger, and more ferocious than the beasts, the proconsul ordered soldiers to go in and cut Christ's soldiers to pieces, and their bodies lay mingled with the bodies of the others who had been slain. Three Christians: Macarius, Felix and Verianus, who witnessed the slaughter of the holy martyrs, came that night to take their bodies. All the bodies being mixed up and the night being very dark, they, in uncertainty about how to distinguish the martyrs' bodies, prayed to God, and three lights suddenly appeared above the bodies of the saints. They then took them and gave them burial. St Martin, Bishop of Tours.

St. Edwin, king and martyr (584-633), king of Northumbria.

A prince of the dynasty of Deira, whose territory was in the Yorkshire area, he was obliged to spend many of his early years in exile in Wales and East Anglia from Ethelfrith, king of Northumbria, of the rival tribe of Bernicia in the Northumberland area. Early in life he married Cwenburg of Mercia by whom he had two sons. In 616. with the help of Redwald. king of East Anglia, his host in exile who had steadfastly refused to betray him, Edwin defeated and killed Ethelfrith at the battle of the river Idle and so became king of Northumbria. Cwenburg had presumably died and Edwin sought to marry St. Ethelburga, a Christian princess from Kent. His embassy met with an initial rebuff because he was not a Christian, but the marriage was eventually agreed on condition that Ethelburga would be free to practise her own religion and that Edwin would seriously consider joining it. St. Paulinus was consecrated bishop and sent to York c.625 as the queen's chaplain; but with a view to the spread of Christianity in the North. As in Kent, there was an interval of some years before the king decided to become a Christian. Edwin was a thoughtful and melancholy man and not inclined to hurry important decisions; he naturally wished to take his followers with him when, and, if he decided to change his religion. Three events led up to his conversion: an unsuccessful assassination attempt by West Saxons; the pagan high priest, Coifi, deciding to abandon his old religion; and a reminder by St. Paulinus of a mysterious experience Edwin had undergone when in exile some years before. Edwin was baptised at Easter 627, after the birth of a daughter. Many thanes and others. in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, followed his example. Edwin continued the expansionist policies of his predecessor, extending his territory to the north at the expense of the Picts, to the west at the expense of the Cumbrians and the Welsh, from whom he captured Anglesey and Man; he also absorbed the British enclave of Elmet (near Leeds) into his kingdom. He became the first Northumbrian to be overlord of the southern kingdoms as well as the first Christian king of Northumbria. But the king whom he could not conquer, Penda of Mercia, eventually conquered and killed him. This was at the battle of Hatfield Chase in 633. Aided by the Christian Welsh king Cadwallon, Penda decisively defeated the Northumbrians: the massacres and disorders which followed were ended only by the accession of St. Oswald the following year. Like St. Oswald, St. Edwin was regarded by his people as a tribal hero as well as a model Christian king. His following was centred on York where the church he had built contained his head, and on Whitby, which had a shrine of his body. which was discovered by revelation and brought there from Hatfield Chase. The abbey of Whitby. ruled in turn by St. Edwin's daughter St. Enfleda and granddaughter St. Elfleda, was a burial-place for the royal house of Deira and the home of the writer of the first biography of St. Gregory the Great. Unfortunately its early liturgical books like those of other centres in Northumbria were lost, so there is no early calendar evidence for Edwin's feast. There was, however, at least one ancient church dedication and. centuries later, his recognition was approved by Gregory Xlll implicitly through his being included among the English Martyrs in the famous wall-paintings at the English College, Rome. St. Wilfrid, archbishop of York (709) - the son of a thegn of Northumbria had been educated at Lindisfarne.

On the same day: Our Holy Father Cosmas of Maium

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