Holy Martyrs and Confessors Gurias, Samonas and Abibus, of Edessa

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15/28 November

During the persecution of Christians in the reigns of Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (305-311) two friends, Gurias and Samonas, Christians and preachers of the Word of God, were captured in the City of Edessa. For this they were subjected to terrible tortures: they were beaten, hung by the arms with heavy weights tied to their legs, and put in a cramped dungeon. The martyrs endured everything steadfastly with this prayer to the Lord, which was recorded by an eyewitness to their tortures: "O Lord my God, contrary to Thy will not a sparrow can fall captive in a snare! Thou didst enlarge David's heart in affliction; Thou didst show the prophet Daniel to be mightier than the lions; Thou didst enable the children of Abraham to prevail over their tormentor and the flames of the furnace; Thou, O Lord, seest the weakness of our nature; Thou seest the persecution which hath been brought upon us. Our foe seeketh to snatch us, the creation of Thy right hand, away from Thee, and to deprive us of the glory which is in Thee; but do Thou, looking upon us with Thy merciful eye, preserve in us the guiding light of Thy commandments. Direct our steps by Thy light, and deem us worthy to enjoy Thy kingdom, for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages." (299-306). During the night the martyrs were taken outside the city and were beheaded (†299-306). Christians buried their holy remains.

Many years later, the last pagan emperor, Licinius (311-324), began persecuting Christians. The emperor ordered the arrest of Abibus, a deacon of the church of Edessa, for his zealous spreading of the True Faith. Abibus, not wanting any other Christians to suffer during the search for him, presented himself to his executioners. The saint confessed his faith in Christ and was condemned to be burned to death. The martyr entered the fire himself and praying, gave up his spirit to the Lord († 322). When the flames were extinguished the mother and relatives of the saint found his body undamaged. They buried the martyr next to Saints Gurias and Samonas. Following the deaths of the saints many who called upon their intercession with faith and love were granted miracles. Once, a certain Goth soldier sent to serve in Edessa took as his wife a pious young maiden named Euthymia. Earlier he had sworn to her mother Sophia before the tomb of the Martyrs Gurias, Samonas, and Abibus, that he would do no evil to his wife, would never offend her, but would love and respect her. After completing his service in Edessa he took Euthymia with him back to his homeland. Later it became apparent that he had deceived her: he had a wife at home, and Euthytmia became her servant. Euthymia had to endure many insults and humiliations. When she gave birth to a son the jealous Goth woman poisoned him. Euthymia turned in prayer to the holy martyrs Gurias, Samonas, and Abibus the witnesses to the oath of the deceiver, and the Lord delivered Euthymia from her suffering and miraculously translated her to Edessa, where she met with her mother. Some time later, the Goth perjurer was again sent to serve in Edessa. After he was exposed by Sophia, the whole city learned of his evil deeds, and by decree of the governor he was executed.

In the Akathist Hymn glorifying the three Holy Martyrs, the Holy Church addresses them with the words: "Rejoice, Gurias, Samonas, and Abibus, heavenly protectors of honorable marriage."

According to a popular belief founded on Tradition, Sts. Gurias, Samonas, and Abibus, as well as Sts. Peter and Fevronia, are regarded as protectors of marriage and peaceful life between the spouses. Therefore we can appeal to these saints in prayer in times of the family squabbles and sorrows brought on by disagreements between husband and wife.

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