Saint Martin the Confessor, Pope of Rome
Martin became pope on July 5, 649 A.D., at the time of the furious debates between the Orthodox and the Monothelete heretics, who adhered to the belief in a single will in Christ. Reigning at that time was Constans II, the grandson of Heraclius. The Patriarch of Constantinople was Paul. In order to establish peace in the Church, the emperor complied a booklet, entitled Type (Typos) which was very favorable to the heretics. Pope Martin convoked a Council of one-hundred five bishops (in the Church of the Holy Savior in the Lateran Palace in October) which condemned this pamphlet of the emperor. At the same time, the pope wrote a letter to Patriarch Paul imploring him to adhere to the purity of the Orthodox Faith and to counsel the emperor to renounce this heretical sophistry. This letter angered both the emperor and the patriarch. The emperor dispatched Olympius, one of his commanders, to Rome to bring the pope to Constantinople in bonds. The commander did not dare to bind the pope but bribed a soldier to slay him in church with a sword. When the soldier entered the church with the concealed sword, he was instantly blinded. Thus, by the Providence of God, Martin escaped death. At that time, the Saracens attacked Sicily and Olympius was ordered to Sicily and there he died. Then, according to the intrigue of the heretical Patriarch Paul, the emperor dispatched Theodore, another commander, to bind the pope and to bring him to Constantinople under the accusation that he, Pope Martin, was in collaboration with the Saracens and does not honor the All-Pure Mother of God. When the commander arrived in Rome and read the accusation against him, Pope Martin responded that: "This was slanderous and that he has no association with the Saracens, the adversaries of Christianity. As regards the All-Pure Mother of God; if one does not honor her and does not confess her and does not reverence her, let him be cursed in this world and in the next." However, this did not alter the decision of the commander. Pope Martin was bound and brought to Constantinople where he lay for a long time in prison, painfully ill, suffering from anxiety and hunger, until finally, he was sentenced to exile to Cherson. Pope Martin lived for two years in exile and died in the year 655 A.D., offering his soul to the Lord, for Whom he suffered much. Two years prior to Pope Martin's death, the repentant Paul died. When the emperor visited him before his death, Paul turned his head toward the wall and wept, confessing that he had greatly sinned against Pope Martin and begged the emperor to release him.
Holy Martyrs Anthony, John and Eustace (Eustathius)
All three were pagans and, at first, were fire worshippers. All of them were servants in the palace of the Lithuanian Prince Olgard in Vilna. They were formerly called: KRUGLETZ, KUMETZ AND NEZILO. All three were baptized by Nestor, the priest. All three were hanged, one after the other on the same oak tree in the year 1347 A.D. Christians cut down the tree and erected a church in honor of the Holy Trinity. The revered relics of these martyrs were then placed in this church and a holy altar table was carved from the stump of the oak tree. Their relics repose in Vilna.
Holy Martyr Ardalion, the Actor
At first Ardalion was an actor-comedian. For the sake of entertaining the people, he eagerly played the role of a martyr for the Faith deriding Christians in every possible manner. When a persecution surfaced during the reign of Emperor Maximian, his spirit completely changed. In front of the crowd, he cried out in a loud voice that he is a Christian and that he was not jesting. For this, Ardalion was condemned, suffered for Christ and died tied to a red hot framework of rods thus portraying a true and honorable role of a martyr.