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Saints Isidore and Myrope the Great Martyrs of Chios (May 14)

Filed in Saints by on May 14, 2013 0 Comments • views: 2611

The Holy Martyr Isidore lived during the III Century on the Island of Chios, and was a native of Alexandria. During the first year of rule of the emperor Decius (249-251) there was issued an edict to make a census of all those capable to serve in the armies of the Roman empire. Saint Isidore, tall and strong of body, was drafted into the regiment of the military-commander Numerius. Saint Isidore was a Christian, he led a life of temperance and abstinence, he was chaste and he shunned all the pagan customs. Another imperial edict then commanded, that all the soldiers were to worship the Roman pagan gods and to offer them sacrifice. Not to obey the edict carried the penalty of torture and death. The centurion reported to the military-commander Numerius, that Isidore was a Christian. At the interrogation before Numerius Saint Isidore without flinching confessed his faith in Christ the Saviour and refused to offer sacrifice to idols. Numerius urged the saint not to expose himself to tortures and to obey the will of the emperor, but Saint Isidore answered, that he would obey only the will of the eternal God, Christ the Saviour, and never would he renounce Him. The saint was handed over to torture. During the time of torments he praised Christ God and denounced the pagan idols.

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When the Saint’s father learned that St. Isidore was a confessed Christian, he journeyed to Chios to convince him to deny his faith. He succeded in convincing Numerius to deliver St. Isidore into his custody, and proceeded to try to convert him. The Saint, however, entreated his father to open the eyes of his soul and behold the truth [of Christ]. His father was uncompromising, and could not accept that his son believed in the Crucified Nazarene and refused to accept his ancestral religion of idols. He condemned him and delivered him to the admiral Numerius, entreating him to expedite the death sentence of his son. Numerius therefore tied him to a horse that dragged him over rocks.

The military-commander gave orders to cut out the tongue of the saint, but even after this the saint continued distinctly to give glory to Christ. Numerius in fright fell to the ground and himself lost the gift of speech. Getting up with the help of soldiers, by means of gestures he demanded a small board and on it wrote an order — to cut off the head of Saint Isidore. Saint Isidore welcomed his death sentence with joy and said: “I glorify Thee, O my Master, that by Thy mercy Thou hast accepted me in Thine Heavenly Habitation!” The death of the martyr occurred in the year 251.

After execution his body was cast out without burial, but another saint, the secret Christian Ammonios, took up his body and committed it to earth [along with St. Myrope; see below]. Later on Ammonios himself accepted a martyr’s death in the city of Kyzikos.

The remains of the early Christian Basilica of Saint Isidore

The remains of the early Christian Basilica of Saint Isidore

St. Myrope was born in Ephesus of Christian parents. [Her name is derived from the fact that she would visit the grave of the Holy Martyr St. Hermione in Ephesus, and distribute the myrrh flowing therefrom to heal the sick] After the death of her father, she moved with her mother to the island of Chios, where she suffered for Christ. The suffering of this holy virgin took place soon after the suffering and death of the glorious Martyr Isidore the soldier (May 14). When the torturers had beheaded Isidore, the courageous Myrope secretly took his body, censed it, and honorably buried it in a special place. The villainous prince Numerian heard that the martyr’s body had been stolen and wanted to kill the guards. Learning that innocent men would suffer for her good deed, blessed Myrope appeared before the authorities and acknowledged that she had taken the martyr’s body and buried it. By order of the prince, the entire body of Christ’s holy virgin was severely whipped, and finally she was cast into prison covered with wounds. But the Lord did not leave His martyr comfortless. At midnight a heavenly light illumined the prison, and many angels, with St. Isidore in their midst, appeared to her. “Peace be to you, Myrope,” St. Isidore said to her. “Your prayer has reached God, and soon you will be with us and will receive the wreath prepared for you.” The holy martyr rejoiced and at that moment surrendered her soul to her God. A sweet fragrance issued from her body, filling the entire prison. One of the guards, seeing all of this and sensing the fragrance, believed in Christ, was baptized, and soon received a martyr’s death. St. Myrope took up her habitation in eternity in the year 251.

Saint Myrope

Saint Myrope

Her body was interred beside Isidore’s, and a chapel erected over the graves. Saint Marcian built another in the fifth century. In 1525, the relics of Isidore and Myrope were moved by the Venetians to the Church of Saint Mark in Venice. Some of the relics of Saint Isidore were returned to Chios from Venice in 1967.

The tomb of Saint Isidore, where Saint Myrope was also buried, in Chios.

The tomb of Saint Isidore, where Saint Myrope was also buried, in Chios.

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