The Seven Holy Martyred Youths of Ephesus (the “Seven Sleepers”)
August 4 and October 22
The Holy Seven Sleepers of Ephesus are possibly one of the most interesting in all of Orthodoxy! During the Christian persecutions, these seven soldiers were stripped of their military rank for confessing their faith and which they suffered tortures. As their final torture, they were sealed in a cave, in other words, buried alive, and on the seal was the names of these soldiers and the events of their lives. Two whole centuries passed before someone was excavating in that very spot where they came across the seal with the name and lives of the seven youths. When he opened the seal, he found them as if waking from a gentle sleep. When one of the young soldiers went to the city to buy bread, his coins still had the Roman emperor’s face on them, which had now been replaced by Christian symbols. He was astonished to see crosses everywhere and the name of Christ spoken freely. He was taken to the bishop who confirmed that these holy youths had in fact been miraculously put to sleep by God for 200 years in order to prove the doctrine of the general resurrection of soul and body. In August we celebrate the awakening of the seven youths while in October we celebrate the event where they went back to sleep, this time until the general resurrection.
Ἦχος γ’. Θείας πίστεως.
Θείω Πνεύματι, ἀφθαρτισθέντες, πολυχρόνιον, ἤνυσαν ὕπνον, οἱ ἐν Ἐφέσῳ ἐπτάριθμοι Μάρτυρες, καὶ ἀναστάντες πιστοὺς ἐβεβαίωσαν, τὴν τῶν ἀνθρώπων κοινὴν ἐξανάστασιν ὅθεν ἅπαντες, συμφώνως τούτους τιμήσωμεν, δοξάζοντες Χριστὸν τὸν πολυέλεον.
Ἦχος δ’. Ὁ ὑψωθεὶς ἐν τῷ Σταυρῷ.
Οἱ τὰ τοῦ κόσμου ὡς φθαρτὰ παριδόντες, καὶ τὰς ἀφθάρτους δωρεὰς εἰληφότες, διαφθορᾶς διέμειναν θανόντες παρεκτός· ὅθεν ἐξανίστανται, μετὰ πλείονας χρόνους, ἅπασαν ἐνθάψαντες, δυσμενῶν ἀπιστίαν· οὓς ἐν αἰνέσει σήμερον πιστοί, ἀνευφημοῦντες, Χριστὸν ἀνυμνήσωμεν.
Δόγμα ἀκυροῦται νεκροποιόν· οἱ γὰρ θεῖοι Παῖδες, ἀναστάντες ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, ἐδήλωσαν πᾶσι, τὴν μέλλουσαν γενέσθαι, ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ὥρᾳ, βροτῶν ἀνάστασιν.
Those who renounced the perishing comforts of this world, / Preferring the eternal things of Heaven, / Were incorrupt after death and rose from the dead / And buried the snares of the devils! / O Faithful, let us then honor them, singing a hymn of praise to Christ!