Yesterday was the feast of the 40 Holy Martyrs, sometimes knows as the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste. These martyrs numbered 40 Roman soldiers who converted to the Christian faith in the 4th Century when persecution of Christians was still widespread. In response, the 40 were exposed naked in the dead of winter and set on a frozen-over pond in the nearby town of Sebaste. One the shore was placed a warm bath for any who would renounce the faith. The 40 stood strong for hours until one the group and went for the warm water. Jumping in the warm water, his body went into shock and he died on the spot. This sight, coupled with a heavenly vision of the 39 being crowned with heavenly gifts brought one of the watchmen on the shore to immediate conversion and he stripped himself of his garments and joined the 39 on the ice, bringing the number back to 40. After many hours, the men were taken and burned, most of them still being alive, and their ashes tossed into a river. They have been honored since the late 4th Century and continue to be a witness to faith in the midst of so many trials, as well as the power that witnessing to faith has in bringing others to know Christ Jesus. With this in mind, we pray for our Half-Way Prayer this week the words spoken by the martyrs themselves:
The Prayer of the 40 Holy Martyrs
You can have our armor and even our bodies,but our hearts’ allegiance belongs to Jesus Christ.