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Orthodox Christians celebrate Forty Holy Martyrs of Sebaste

11:01 | 22.03.2024 Category: Social

Chisinau, 22 March /MOLDPRES/ -The old-style Orthodox Christians today celebrate the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. They were all soldiers of the Roman army during a time when the Christian faith was deemed as harmful for the good work of the society and who were executed for having chosen Christianity.     

The success of the Roman Empire’s army was closely connected with the help which the gods were giving to soldiers and the assistance was intermediated by sacrifices. In the beginning of the 4th century AD, the military unit which had the task to defend the eastern border of the Empire had its camp in the Armenian fortified town Sebaste.

The unit’s commander, Agricola, organized collective sacrifices, which his underlings were to bring to gods, in order to beseech their protection. Forty soldiers refused to obey the pagan tradition, justifying their attitude by the Christian faith. They were threatened and judged for insubordination. The soldiers’ answer was that, as for the faith, they were subordinating to another King and it would have been an offence to Him to bring sacrifices to gods.  

The 40 soldiers were sunk in a lake with very cold water, hoping that the cold might prompt them change their minds. The forty soldiers resisted the cold, by holding each other in their arms. A tradition of small boiled cracknels glued together, which symbolize those forty martyrs, comes from here.    

Although the soldiers resisted the cold, they were, nevertheless, martyred by burning on stake, on 9 March 320. The small cracknels which are cooked on this day also symbolize those 40 nimbi which got down from the Heaven on the heads of the Forty Martyrs, before they died.   

The Church says that the Holy Forty Martyrs convey also another message: namely that the bravery, courage represent spiritual powers which are measured by capacity of sacrifice.  

Also today, the Christians mark the Sunday of Holy Cross, recorded on the third Sunday of the Lent, before the Easter. On this Sunday, the religious services include a special honouring of the Cross, which prepares the believers for the memory of the Crucifixion during the Week of Passions and for the Resurrection of the Lord.   


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