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Martyr Savvas Stratelates “the General” of Rome, and 70 soldiers with him (24 April)

Saint Savva Stratelates came from a Gothic tribe. For his bravery he attained the high rank of military commander or “stratelates,” and he served under the Roman emperor Aurelian (270-275).

From his youth, Savva was a Christian and he fervently followed the commands of Christ. He helped the needy, and visited Christians in prison. Because of his pure and virtuous life the saint received from the Lord the gift of wonderworking, healing the sick and casting out demons in the name of Christ.

When the emperor learned that Saint Savva was a Christian, he demanded that he apostasize. The martyr threw down his military belt and declared that he would not forsake his faith. They beat him, burned him with torches, and threw him into a cauldron with tar, but the martyr remained unharmed.

Looking on at his torments, seventy soldiers came to believe in Christ. They were beheaded by the sword. Saint Savva was thrown in prison. At midnight, while he was praying, Christ appeared to the martyr and shone on him the light of His Glory. The Savior bade him not to fear, but to stand firm. Encouraged, the Martyr Savva underwent new torture in the morning, and was drowned in a river in 272.

This glorious Sabbas lived in Rome during the reign of Emperor Aurelian and held the rank of general. By ancestry, he was of a Gothic tribe. He often visited Christians in prison and assisted them from his own estate. Because of his great purity and fasting, God gave him authority over unclean spirits. When Sabbas was accused of being a Christian, he courageously stood before the emperor, threw down his military belt, and openly confessed Christ the Lord. Sabbas was tortured in various ways: he was flogged, scrapped with iron claws, and burned with candles.

He did not succumb to these deadly tortures but appeared alive and healthy. His military companions, seeing that God was obviously helping him, embraced the Christian Faith, and seventy of them were immediately beheaded by order of the emperor. Christ the Lord Himself appeared in a great light to St. Sabbas in prison and encouraged His martyr. After that, Sabbas was condemned to death by drowning. He was thrown into a deep river, where he gave up his soul to God in the year 272 A.D. His soul went to the Lord, to Whom he had remained faithful through many tortures.

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