The Holy Great Martyr Euphemia
Saint Euphemia, the all-praised, was the daughter of Christians, the senator Philophronos and Theodosia. She suffered for Christ in about the year 304 in the city of Chalcedon, located on the banks of the Bosphorus opposite Constantinople.
The Chalcedon governor Priscus circulated an order to all the inhabitants of Chalcedon and its surroundings to appear at a pagan feast for worship and to offer sacrifice to an idol of Ares (Mars), threatening grave torments for whomever failed to appear. During the time of this impious feast 49 Christians had hidden away at one house, where they secretly made Divine-services to the True God. The young maiden Euphemia was also among those praying there. Soon the hide-out of the Christians was discovered, and they were brought before Priscus to answer for themselves. Over the course of 19 days the martyrs were subjected to various tortures and torments, but none of them wavered in their faith nor consented to offer sacrifice to the idol. The governor, beside himself with rage and not knowing still any further means of forcing the Christians into renunciation, sent them for trial to the emperor Diocletian, but he separated from them the youngest — the maiden Euphemia, hoping that she, alone by herself, would not hold out.
Saint Euphemia, separated from her brethren in faith, fervently prayed the Lord Jesus Christ, that He Himself would strengthen her in the impending ordeal. Priscus at first urged the saint to recant, promising her earthly blessings, but then he gave the order to torture her. The martyress was tied to a wheel with sharp knives, which in turning cut at the body. The saint prayed loudly. And here it happened, that the wheel stopped by itself and would not move even with all the efforts of the executioners. An Angel of the Lord, having come down from Heaven, removed Euphemia from the wheel and healed her of her wounds, and with gladness the saint gave thanks unto the Lord.
Not perceiving the miracle that had occurred, the torturer ordered the soldiers Victor and Sosthenes to take the saint to a red-hot oven. But the soldiers, seeing amidst the flames two fearsome Angels, refused to carry out the order of the governor and became themselves believers in the God, Whom Euphemia worshipped. Boldly proclaiming that they too were Christians, Victor and Sosthenes bravely went to suffering. They were given over for devouring by wild beasts. During the time of execution they cried out for mercy to God, that the Lord should receive them into the Heavenly Kingdom. An heavenly Voice answered their cries, and they expired unto life eternal. The beasts however did not even touch their bodies.
Saint Euphemia, cast by other soldiers into the fire, remained unharmed. And with the help of God she emerged unharmed after many another torture and torment. Ascribing this to sorcery, the governor gave orders to dig out a new pit, and filling it with knives he had it covered over with ground and grass, so that the martyress would not know about the preparation for her execution; but here also Saint Euphemia remained safe, easily passing over the pit. Finally, they sentenced her to be devoured by wild beasts at the circus. Before execution the saint began to implore, that the Lord deem her worthy to die a violent death. But none of the beasts, set loose at her in the arena, attacked her. Finally, one of the she-bears struck her a small wound on the leg, from which came blood, and the holy GreatMartyr Euphemia instantly died. During this time there occurred an earthquake, and both the guards and the spectators ran in terror, so that the parents of the saint were able to take up her body and reverently bury it not far from Chalcedon.
A majestic church was afterwards erected over the grave of the GreatMartyr Euphemia. At this temple took place the sessions of the Fourth OEcumenical Council in the year 451, during the time of which in miraculous manner the holy GreatMartyress Euphemia confirmed the Orthodox confession, and setting limits to the Monophysite heresy, the details of which are related under the day of the commemoration of this miracle, 11 July.
With the taking of Chalcedon by the Persians in the year 617, the relics of the holy GreatMartyress Euphemia were transferred to Constantinople (in about the year 620). During the period of the Iconoclast heresy the reliquary with the relics of Saint Euphemia appears to have been thrown into the sea. Pious sailors pulled them out. They were afterwards taken to the Island of Lemnos, and in the year 796 they were returned to Constantinople.
Note: The name Euphemia translates as “well praised”, or “all praise worthy”. Truly is this valiant athlete of Christ worthy of her name.