Sep 16, 2021
Today the holy Orthodox Church commemorates the Great Martyr-Saints Euphemia and Ludmila!
The Holy Great Martyr Euphemia (Ευφημία) was the daughter of Christian parents, the senator Philophronos and his wife Theodosia. She suffered for Christ in the year 304 in the city of Chalcedon, on the Bosphorus opposite Constantinople, the Queen of Cities.
Priscus, the Proconsul of Chalcedon, issued a decree which required all the inhabitants of Chalcedon and the surrounding area to attend a pagan festival, in order to worship and offer sacrifice to the idol of Ares. He threatened grave torments for anyone who failed to appear. During this impious festival, 49 Christians were hidden in one house, where they worshiped the true God in secret. The young virgin Euphemia was among those who prayed there.
The Christians were soon discovered, terribly tortured, but would not give up their faith. This enraged Priscus and and sent to the emperor Diocletian to press them to denounce Christ, but kept Euphemia behind, believing that she would renounce Christ if separated from her companions.
Saint Euphēmia fervently prayed that the Lord Jesus Christ would strengthen her for her impending ordeal. Priscus urged the Saint to offer sacrifice to the idol, promising her many rewards. When she refused, he ordered that she be tortured.
Protected by God, the various, horrible tortures inflicted upon St Euphemia did not harm her. Finally, she was brought to an arena to be devoured by wild beasts. One she-bear wounded her foot, which bled slightly, and the Holy Great Martyr Euphemia died right away. As her soul departed, there was an earthquake. The city was shaken, the walls fell down, and the pagan temples crumbled. As Saint Euphemia lay dead in the sand, the guards and spectators fled in terror, so that the Saint's parents were able to take her body and bury it near Chalcedon.
The Holy and Great Martyr Euphemia performed many miracles even after her death. Her incorrupt body is in the Patriarchal Church of Saint George at the Phanar in Constantinople. Portions of her relics are to be found in Kykkos Monastery on Cyprus, and in the Saint Alexander Nevsky Lavra at Saint Petersburg.
The Holy Martyr Ludmila, a Czech (Bohemian) princess, was married to the Czech prince Borivoy. Both spouses received holy Baptism from Saint Methodius, Archbishop of Moravia and Enlightener of the Slavs.
As Christians, they showed concern for the enlightening of their subjects with the light of the true Faith. They built churches and invited priests to celebrate the divine services. Prince Borivoy died early at age 36. Saint Ludmila, as a widow, led an austere, pious life and continued to be concerned for the Church during the reign of her son Bratislav, which lasted for 33 years.
Bratislav was married to Dragomira, with whom he had a son, Wenceslaus (Vyacheslav). After the death of Bratislav, eighteen-year-old Wenceslaus came on the throne. Taking advantage of the inexperience and youth of her son, Dragomira began to introduce pagan manners and customs in the country.
Saint Ludmila, of course, opposed this. Dragomira came to hate her mother-in-law and tried to destroy her. When Saint Ludmila moved away to the city of Techin, Dragomira sent two boyars in secret to murder her. Saint Ludmila was praying at the time, and the two assassins entered the house and carried out Dragomira’s orders.
The relics of the holy Martyr Ludmila were buried in Techin in the city wall. Numerous healings occurred at her grave. Prince Vyacheslav transferred the body of Saint Ludmila to the city of Prague and placed it in the church of Saint George.
May saints Euphemia and Ludmila pray to Christ our God for us! Happy nameday for those celebrating today.
Sources adapted from oca.org.