CHARALAMBOS D. VASILOPOULOS
THE SEVEN HOLY YOUTHS
Their memory is celebrated on the 4th August
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The Seven Holy Youths of Ephesus lived in the era of the great persecutions. After they had distributed their wealth to the poor, they hid in a cave, where they prayed to the Lord to take them with Him, so that they would not see the atrocious tortures. But God, through their assumption allowed the dissolution of an awful heresy that had appeared in the time of the reign of Theodosius the Younger. That is because He resurrected the Seven Holy Youths after 194 years, thus assuring clergy and people, heretics and not, present and future that the Lord lives, our God Who has the power over the living and the dead.
THE SEVEN HOLY YOUTHS
In the cave for 194 years.
The Seven Holy Youths, Maximilian, Exacustodianus, Jamblicus, Martinian, Dionysius, Antoninus and Constantine, lived during the reign of Decius, in 252 AD. These blessed Youths distributed all their wealth to the poor and went into a cave and hid themselves. After praying to God to redeem them from the restrains of the body, so that they would not be surrendered to the ruler Decius, they delivered their souls to God. When the ruler Decius came back to Ephesus, he asked for them to come and offer a sacrifice to the idols. But when he found out that they had died in the cave, he commanded to block its entrance. 194 years passed, until the 38th year of Theodosius the Younger’s reign. i.e. in 446.
During this time, a new heresy appeared which claimed that there was no resurrection of the dead. Ruler Theodosius was very seriously concerned about what he was supposed to do, since a lot of Bishops were misled by it, which in turn resulted in losing peace in Church. So, he put on a sack cloth, sat on the ground and mourned, praying to God to reveal the way to dissolve this heresy to him. The Lord did not ignore his tears but paid attention to his prayer and – look how.
They were resurrected as if they had only fallen asleep.
At that time, the owner of that mountain, where the cave of the Holy Seven Youths was, wanted to build an enclosure for his flock. Removing the stones from the cave in order to build the enclosure, its entrance was unblocked and by God’s command the Holy Seven Youths, who were in it dead, awakened and started talking to each other, as if they had fallen asleep the previous day, and miraculously neither their bodies nor their clothes had been deteriorated by the natural wear and the moisture of the cave.
They thought that Decius was alive.
When they woke up, they remembered that Decius was looking for them in order to torture them. So, they were discussing this issue. Maximilian said to the others: “If we, my brothers, get arrested by Decius, let us stand bravely and not betray our faith. You, brother Jamblicus, go and buy bread, but buy even more since yesterday afternoon you bought a little and thus we slept feeling hungry. In addition try to find out what Decius thinks about us.
Jamblicus in the bakery.
So, Jamblicus went to Ephesus, saw the sign of the Holy Cross in the city and was puzzled. Seeing the sign of the Holy Cross in other parts of the city, noticing that the houses had changed and the people were different, he thought that he was having a vision or he was in ecstasy. He got to the bakery, bought the bread and as he was getting ready to go back to the cave, he saw the bakers showing each other the coins and turning their glance at him and saying that he must have found a treasure since the coins he paid with had on them the picture of the former ruler Decius.
Jamblicus begs them not to deliver him to Decius.
When Jamblicus heard that, he got frightened and from fear he could not speak, because he thought he had been recongnised and was going to be delivered to the ruler Decius. So, he begged them saying: “I beg you my lords, take the money and your bread but let me go”. The bakers said to him: “Show us the treasure you found and give us a share of whatever you discovered as well, otherwise we will kill you.”
In front of the proconsul.
When they saw the Holy Youth standing morose, they put a chain round his neck and took him to the agora. Then they took him by force to the proconsul in Ephesus in order to be questioned. When the proconsul saw him, he asked him: “Tell us, my young man, how did you find the treasure, how much is there and where is it?” Jamblicus answered them that he had never found anything, and that the coins that he gave had been taken from his parents. He also added: “What is has happened to me, I do not understand.”
The proconsul asked him again which city he was from. The Holy Youth answered: “This is the city I come from, if this is Ephesus.” The proconsul went on asking him: “Who are your parents? Let them come in front of us and when the truth is revealed then we, ourselves, shall believe you.” Jamblicus replied: “Such and such is my father, such and such is my grandfather, such and such are my relatives.”
The proconsul does not believe him.
Then the proconsul said to him: “The names you told us do not exist, are unknown and differ from the ones that are currently used today. So, we cannot trust you.” So, Jamblicus said:” If you cannot believe that I am telling you the truth, I do not know what else to say.” The proconsul replied to him:” You are disrespectful, your coin shows from its inscription that it was issued two hundred years or more ago, during the era of the ruler Decius and you are much younger and you are trying to deceive us.“
Jamblicus asks them to tell him about Decius.
Then Jamblicus, after falling at the feet of the people who were there, pleaded them saying: “I beg you my lords to tell me where ruler Decius, who came to this city, is.” They answered to him: “There is no Decius in our era, since he ruled many years ago.” Jamblicus told them: “This is the reason why you doubt my lords. Follow me to the cave and from all the things you are going to see you will be assured about what I am saying, because I know that we left because of Decius and that yesterday when I came to buy bread I saw him coming into this city.” This is what the Holy Youth said. The Bishop in Ephesus, whose name was Marinos said to the proconsul: “I think that there is something miraculous going on in this case. Let us all follow him!”
They reached the cave.
So, the proconsul, the Bishop and a lot of other people followed him and when they reached the cave, Jamblicus went into the cave first and then the Bishop who saw on the right side of the cave entrance a box sealed with two seals. This box was put there by the Christians named Roufinos and Theodor, who were sent by Decius, together with others, to block the cave entrance. They, themselves, first wrote about the Holy Youths’ lives and carved the Saints’ names on sheets of lead plates. When all the men of rank and the proconsul gathered, they unsealed the box, in which the sheets of lead were found, and they were all stunned, when they read the writing on them.
They found the Holy Youths.
When they got deeper into the cave and found the 7 Holy Youths they fell at the Saints’ feet.
Then, they sat and asked them a lot of things. The Saints narrated first their lives and then the ruler Decius’ crimes. So, they all admired and glorified the God’s wondrousness.
The king goes to the cave.
Then, the proconsul together with the Bishop sent a report to King Theodosius describing all the events to him. When the king received the letters, he was overjoyed by the news and immediately came to Ephesus. When he entered the cave, he fell to the ground and with his tears he washed the feet of the Seven Holy Youths. He was delighted and his soul was pleased, because the Lord had not ignored his prayers but He had showed the resurrection of the dead in this obvious way.
The end of the Saints.
While the king, the bishops and a lot of the noblemen were talking with the Saints, the Saints began to feel a bit sleepy and in this way they delivered their holy souls into God’s hands.
The Saints wish they were buried in the cave.
Then, the king gave precious vestments, gold and silver and ordered seven cases to be made in order to put the relics of the Saints. But during that very night the Saints appeared to the king in vision and said to him: “Oh king leave us in this cave in which we were resurrected.”When at the assembly of the Bishops and the noblemen, the king placed the relics of the Saints into the ground of the cave, as the Saints, Themselves, had revealed in the vision to the king.
The issue concerning the heresy was solved.
Then, the king made a joyous celebration, offering great hospitality to the poor in Ephesus and gladdening all the people, hosting them bountifully and royally. He released from the prison all the Bishops who had been imprisoned for preaching the resurrection of the dead. Then, a common celebration took place, with everyone glorifying and blessing our Lord Jesus Christ.
I hounor the chorus of the Seven, in number, of Martyrs, that showed the world the resurrection of the dead. On the fourth (August), the seven awakened from the dead, deceased again.
God’s Providence is something incredible and it is very difficult for us humans to understand. With how much love and care God makes providence for the salvation of humans, is something inconceivable for us simple Christians.
With His supreme wisdom He acts at the appropriate time and makes providence for our salvation, provided that we also want it and ask it from Him in our prayers, as it happened in the case of Theodosius. The Lord heard Theodosius’ prayers and saw his tears. In consequence, He resurrected the seven Holy Youths after 194 years of sleep in order to save the king and the people from this disgusting and satanic – driven heresy. Thus, we found out in what a wondrous way this terrible heresy was dissolved. How His Grace acted. That is why we must not get desperate. When the appropriate time comes, which only God knows, His Grace will act and help us always for the benefit of our soul.
Having been made imperishable By The Holy Spirit, having slept a sleep of long duration, the seven, in number, Martyrs of Ephesus; and being resurrected they assured the faithful of men’s common resurrection; so let us all unanimously hounor them, glorifying Christ the Very -merciful.
The One Who made wondrous Your Saints on the earth, before Your second and awesome Coming, through the strange awakening of the Youths, Christ, You showed the resurrection to the ones who ignored it, by having shown imperishable clothes and bodies and convinced the king who shouted; indeed there is the resurrection of the dead.
The Ones who gave up the things of the world as perishable, and the imperishable gifts they received, though dead they remained incorrupt; so having been awakened after a great number of years, they buried every unfaithfulness of the unfavourable; today the faithful applaud them, praising Christ.
A dogma is overturned when it is subdued; the Holy Youths, resurrected from the dead, declared to everyone about the future resurrection of mortals, yet to happen, in the final hour.
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