Saint Themistocles, 21 December

Τὰς ἐκ σιδηρῶν ὀξέων ἥλων ξέσεις,
Ὥς τις σιδηροῦς καρτερεῖς Θεμιστόκλεις.
Saint Themistocles is one of the lesser known saints of the Orthodox Church. He lived during the 3rd century AD. in the region of Myra in Lycia, in Asia Minor, which today is called Kale and is located on the southern coast of Turkey. At that time, Lycia was part of the Roman Empire. Themistocles lived at the time when Diocletian was on the imperial throne. He was in charge of the eastern part of the empire while Maximian was in charge of the western part. Diocletian during the period 284-303 AD. and after establishing the so-called Tetrarchy, he started a persecution against the Christians. Saint Themistocles was one of the many martyrs of this period.

During the persecution, Saint Dioskouros was pursued by Asclepius, ruler of Lycia. But he found refuge in Saint Themistocles, a local shepherd, who hid and protected him. When the soldiers found Saint Themistocles they asked him if he knew anything about Dioscuro. He told them to let him go and not to take him to the judge because he would kill him, and that they were both Christians.

So they arrested him and handed him over to Asclepius who ordered him to be tortured. He was horribly tortured. They stretched his limbs and whipped him in the abdomen so much that his internal organs were visible. They combed his body with iron combs after hanging him on a tree. At this point he declared to Asclepius that Christ also saved the world from sin on such a tree. Asclepius finally ordered his execution. He crawled on nails that had been placed in the ground and thus died. His memory is commemorated on December 21.

Τὴν ἐποχὴ ἐκείνη ὁ Ἀσκληπιός, ὁ ἄρχοντας τῆς Λυκίας, ξεκίνησε διωγμὸ κατὰ τῶν χριστιανῶν καὶ ὁ στόχος του ἦταν νὰ συλλάβει τὸν Ἅγιο μάρτυρα Διοσκουρίδη. Ὁ Διοσκουρίδης ὅμως κατέφυγε στὸ ὄρος ὅπου ἔβοσκε ὁ Θεμιστοκλῆς τὰ πρόβατά του. Οἱ ἄνθρωποι τοῦ ἄρχοντα κίνησαν καὶ αὐτοὶ πρὸς τὸ ὄρος ὅπου καὶ συνάντησαν τὸν Θεμιστοκλῆ. Ὅταν ἐρωτήθηκε γιὰ τὴν πίστη του δὲν δίστασε οὔτε στιγμὴ νὰ ὁμολογήσει τὸν ἕναν καὶ μοναδικὸ Θεό. Οἱ στρατιῶτες ἀκούγοντας τὴν ὁμολογία αὐτὴ τῆς πίστης του, τὸν συνέλαβαν καὶ τὸν ὁδήγησαν στὸν ἄρχοντα Ἀσκληπιό. Παρ’ ὅλες τὶς ἀπειλὲς ποὺ δέχθηκε ὁ Ἅγιος ἔμεινε ἀκλόνητος στὴν πίστη του. Αὐτὸ ἐξόργισε τὸν Ἀσκληπιὸ καὶ διέταξε τὸν βασανισμό του.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Θεμιστοκλῆς παρέδωσε τὸ πνεῦμά του πάνω στὸ μαρτύριο.

Ήχος γ΄. Θείας πίστεως.
Ύμνοις στέψωμεν Θεμιστοκλέα, μέγαν μάρτυρα, της Εκκλησίας, αληθείας του Χριστού τον εκφάντορα·  Χριστομαρτύρων ευώδες κειμήλιον, και των πιστών θεοδώ- ρητον καύχημα, Μάρτυς ένδοξε, Χριστόν τον Θεόν ικέτευε, σωθήναι εκ κινδύνων τας ψυχάς ημών.

Ήχος γ΄. Επεφάνη σήμερον.
Του Χριστού τον Μάρτυρα Θεμιστοκλέα, ευσεβώς τιμήσωμεν, ως Εκκλησίας φρυκτωρόν, και των Μαρτύρων το κλέισμα, πιστών δε πάντων, ως πρέσβυν προς Κύριον.

Τον Θεμιστοκλέα πανευλαβώς, τιμήσωμεν ύμνοις, τον τυθέντα υπέρ Χριστού, το της Εκκλησίας, αγλάισμα και κλέος, και των μαρτύρων δόξαν, και μέγα πρότυπον.