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Martyrs Leontius, Hypatius, and Theodulus at Tripoli in Syria (18 June)

The Holy Martyrs Leontius, Hypatius, and Theodulus were Roman soldiers. The holy Martyr Leontius, a Greek by origin, served as a military-chief in the imperial army in the Phoenician city of Tripoli during the reign of Vespasian (70-79). Leontius was distinguished for his bravery and good sense, and the people of Tripoli held him in deep respect because of his virtue.

The emperor appointed the Roman senator Adrian as governor of the Phoenician district, with full powers to hunt out Christians, and in case of their refusal to offer sacrifice to the Roman gods, to give them over to torture and death. And on his way to Phoenicia Adrian received a report that Saint Leontius had turned many away from worshipping the pagan gods. The governor sent the tribune Hypatius with a detachment of soldiers to Tripoli so as to find and arrest the Christian Leontius. Along the way the tribune Hypatius fell seriously ill, and being near death, he saw in a dream an angel, which said: “If you wish to be healed, you and your soldiers should say three times: ‘God of Leontius, help me.’”

Opening his eyes Hypatius beheld the angel and said: “I was sent to arrest Leontius, how is it that I should appeal to his God?” At this moment the angel became invisible. Hypatius told his dream to the soldiers, among whom was his friend Theodulus, and all of them together asked for help from the God Whom Saint Leontius confessed. Hypatius was immediately healed to the great joy of his soldiers, but only Theodulus sat aside, pondering the miracle. His soul was filled with love for God, and he told Hypatius to proceed twice as quickly to the city in search of Saint Leontius.

Upon their arrival in the city, a stranger met them and invited them to his house, where he lavishly hosted the travellers. Learning that their hospitable host was Saint Leontius, they fell on their knees and asked him to enlighten them with faith in the True God. They were baptized here, and when Saint Leontius prayed over them calling on the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, a luminous cloud overshadowed the newly-baptized and poured forth rain. The remaining soldiers in search of their commander arrived in Tripoli, where the governor Adrian had also arrived. Learning what had happened, he ordered Saints Leontius, Hypatius, and Theodulus to be brought to him. After threatening them with torture and death, he demanded that they renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the Roman gods.

All the martyrs firmly confessed their faith in Christ. Saint Hypatius was put under a column and raked with iron claws, and Saint Theodulus was mercilessly beaten with rods. Seeing the steadfastness of the saints, they beheaded them. And after torture, they sent Saint Leontius to prison. In the morning he came before the governor. Adrian tried to entice the holy martyr with honors and rewards, and accomplishing nothing, he gave him over to new tortures. The holy martyr was suspended head downwards from a pillar with a heavy stone about his neck, but nothing could make him renounce Christ. The governor gave orders to beat the sufferer with rods until he died. They then threw the body of the holy Martyr Leontius outside the city, but Christians reverently gave it burial near Tripoli. The death of the holy martyrs occurred between 70-79.

The accusation against Saint Leontius, and his sufferings and death are recorded on tin tablets prepared by the court scribe [commentarisius]. These tablets were placed at the grave of the holy martyr.

This Martyr was from Greece. Being of great bodily stature and strength, he was an illustrious soldier in the Roman legions who had won many victories, and was known for his prudence and sobriety of mind. When it was learned that he gave grain to the poor from the imperial stores, and was moreover a Christian, Hadrian the Governor of Phoenicia sent Hypatius, a tribune, and Theodulus, a soldier, to arrest him. Saint Leontius converted them on the way to Tripolis in Phoenicia, where Hypatius and Theodulus were tormented and beheaded by Hadrian for their confession of Christ. Then Hadrian with many flatteries and many torments strove to turn Leontius from Christ. All his attempts failing, he had Leontius put to such tortures that he died in the midst of them, under Vespasian in the year 73.

Leontius was a Roman commander in Tripoli in Phoenicia during the reign of Emperor Vespasian. He was born in Hellas [Greece]and was “of great physical stature, powerful, strong and brave in battles.” Hadrian, the imperial deputy, sent a military detachment to arrest Leontius, for Hadrian was a fierce adversary and persecutor of Christians. Hypatius, the senior officer of this detachment, became ill enroute with a bitter fever, because of which the detachment had to slow down its march. One night an angel of God appeared to Hypatius and said to him: “If you want to be well, cry out three times toward heaven with all your soldiers: ‘O God of Leontius, help me!'”

Hypatius informed his companions of his vision and all in unison cried out as the angel instructed, and immediately Hypatius became well. This miracle astonished all, but especially a certain Theodulus. Hypatius and Theodulus then went ahead of the other soldiers to seek Commander Leontius. Leontius received them graciously and served them. When he expounded his faith in Christ to them, their hearts burned with love for Christ, and at that moment a bright cloud descended upon Hypatius and Theodulus and dew fell upon them from the cloud. It was the Holy Spirit of God Himself baptizing these converted souls, and at that moment St. Leontius spoke these words: “In the name of the All-holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” The evil Hadrian, learning that Hypatius and Theodulus had become Christians, ordered that they be scourged without mercy and then beheaded with an axe. Thus reposed these two spiritual children of Leontius.

Then Hadrian decreed cruel tortures for Leontius, but Leontius remained unwavering in his holy faith. His entire body was covered with wounds, but he diligently prayed that God not abandon him. In the midst of the cruelest torments, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, encouraging and comforting him. Finally the torturers knocked the martyr Leontius to the ground and beat him until he gave up his soul to God. The sufferings of St. Leontius was personally witnessed by a certain Notarius, who recorded all that he saw on lead tablets and placed them in the martyr’s grave. St. Leontius suffered honorably in the year 73 A.D.

Apolytikion of Martyr Leontius & Companions

Fourth Tone

Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Kontakion of Martyr Leontius & Companions

Third Tone

Thou didst wholly put to shame the tyrants’ wicked opinions and didst mightily rebuke the Greeks’ ungodly religion; with the doctrines of true rev’rence, thou madest shine forth godly knowledge for all men, O wise Leontius, thou most godly-minded Martyr; wherefore with longing we keep thy mem’ry today.

Source: oca.org / goarch.org / westserbdio.org