Hieromartyr Athenogenes and his Ten Disciples suffered for Christ during the persecution of Christians in the city of Sebastea in Cappadocia. The governor Philomachos arranged a large festival in honor of the pagan gods and called upon the citizens of Sebastea to offer sacrifice to the idols. Most of the inhabitants of Sebastea were Christians, and refused to participate in the impious celebration. Soldiers were ordered to kill those who resisted, and so many Christians received a martyr’s crown.
It came to the governor’s attention that Christianity was spreading because of the grace-filled preaching of Bishop Athenogenes. Soldiers were ordered to find the Elder and arrest him. Bishop Athenogenes and ten of his disciples lived in a small monastery not far from the city. The soldiers did not find the bishop there, so they arrested his disciples. The governor ordered that they be bound with chains and thrown into prison.
Saint Athenogenes was arrested when he came to Sebastea to inform the judge that those who had been jailed were innocent. While in prison, Saint Athenogenes encouraged his spiritual children for their impending struggle. Led forth to trial, all the holy martyrs confessed themselves Christians and refused to offer sacrifice to idols.
After undergoing fierce tortures, the disciples of the holy bishop were beheaded. After the execution of the disciples, the executioners were ordered to torture the bishop. Strengthened by the Lord, Saint Athenogenes underwent the tortures with dignity. His only request was that he be executed in the monastery.
Taken to his own monastery, the saint gave thanks to God, and he rejoiced in the sufferings that he had undergone for Him. Saint Athenogenes asked that the Lord would forgive the sins of all those who would remember both him and his disciples.
The Lord granted the saint to hear His Voice before death, announcing the promise given to the penitent thief: “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” The hieromartyr willingly bent his neck beneath the sword.
This Saint was from Sebastia of Cappadocia and , according to the Synaxaristes, became Bishop of Pidachthoa. He and ten of his disciples were tortured and beheaded by the Governor of Philomarchus in the times of Diocletian. There is a second Martyr Athenogenes commemorated today, mentioned by Saint Basil in Chapter 29 of his treatise “On the Holy Spirit”; it is said that as this Athenogenes approached the fire, wherein he was to die a martyric death, he chanted the hymn O Joyous Light in praise of the Holy Trinity (see also Mar. 11).
Apolytikion of Hieromartyr Athenogenes
As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God, thou foundest discipline to be a means of ascent to divine vision. Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, thou didst also contest for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr Athenogenes. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.
Source: oca.org / goarch.org