Holy Martyr Andrew, the Commander and his 2,593 Fellow Martyred Soldiers

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Andrew was an officer, a tribune, in the Roman army during the reign of Emperor Maximian. He was a Syrian by birth and served in Syria. When the Persians menaced the Roman Empire with there military, Andrew was entrusted with the army to battle against the enemy. During this occasion, Andrew was promoted as a commander – Stratelates. Secretly a Christian, even though he was not baptized, Andrew trusted in the living God and, of the many soldiers, he chose only the best and entered into battle. He said to his soldiers before the battle that if they would call upon the help of the one, true God, Christ the Lord, their enemies will scatter as dust before them. Truly, all the soldiers filled with enthusiasm at Andrew and his faith invoked Christ for assistance and made an assault. The Persian army was utterly destroyed. When the victorious Andrew returned to Antioch some, who were envious, accused Andrew of being a Christian and the imperial deputy summoned him to court. Andrew openly confessed his unwavering faith in Christ. After bitter tortures, the deputy threw Andrew into prison and wrote to the emperor in Rome. Knowing Andrew’s respect among the people and in the army, the emperor ordered the deputy to free Andrew to freedom and to seek another opportunity and another reason (not his faith) and then to kill him. Through God’s revelation, Andrew learned of the emperor’s command and, taking with him his faithful soldiers, 2593 in number, departed with them to Tarsus in Cilicia and there, all were baptized by Bishop Peter. Persecuted even there by the imperial authorities, Andrew with his detachment withdrew farther into the Armenian mountain Tavros. Here, in a ravine while they were at prayer, the Roman army caught up with them and all to the last one were beheaded. Not one of them even wanted to defend themselves but all were desirous of a martyr’s death for Christ. On this spot, where a stream of the martyr’s blood flowed, a spring of healing water erupted which cured many from every disease. Bishop Peter came secretly with his people and, on the same spot, honorably buried the bodies of the martyrs. Dying honorably, they were all crowned with the wreath of glory and took up habitation in the Kingdom of Christ our Lord.

Feast Day: August 19

Apolytikion – Tone 5
You renounced the glory of earthly rank and inherited the kingdom of heaven; you adorned your incorruptible crown as with beautiful stones. You led an army of martyrs to Christ, and with the angels in the never-fading light you found Christ the never-setting sun. Together with those who suffered with you, holy general Andrew, ever pray to Him that He may save our souls.

Kontakion – Tone 4
Standing before the Lord in prayer like a star near the sun, you were filled with ineffable joy beholding your desire: the treasure of the kingdom. You sing without ceasing to the immortal King together with the angels throughout the ages. With them, general Andrew, unceasingly pray for us all.

by Saint Nikolai Velimirovich

The Prologue from Ohrid