The Holy Forty-two Martyrs from Ammoria

March 6

They were all commanders of the Byzantine Emperor Theophilus. When the Emperor Theophilus lost the battle against the Saracens at the city of Ammoria, the Saracens captured the city and enslaved many Christians. Among them were these commanders. The remaining Christians were either killed or sold into slavery. The commanders were thrown into prison, where they remained for seven years. Many times the Moslem leaders came to them. They counseled and advised the commanders to embrace the Islamic faith, but the commanders refused to listen. When the Saracens spoke to the commanders, saying, “Mohammed is the true prophet and not Christ,” the commanders asked them: “If there were two men debating about a field and the one said, ‘This field is mine,’ and the other, ‘It is not, it is mine,’ and one of them had many witnesses nearby saying it is his field, and the other had no witnesses, but only himself — whose field would you say it was?” The Saracens answered: “Indeed, it is his who had many witnesses!” “You have judged correctly,” the commanders answered. “That is the way it is with Christ and Mohammed. Christ has many witnesses: the Prophets of old, from Moses to John the Forerunner, whom you also recognize and who witness to and about Him, whereas Mohammed witnesses to himself that he is a prophet and hasn’t a single witness.” The Saracens were ashamed and again they tried to defend their faith in this manner: “Our faith is better than the Christian Faith, as is proved by this: God gave us the victory over you and gave us the best land in the world and a kingdom much greater than Christianity.” To this the commanders replied: “If that were so, then the idolatry of Egyptians, Babylonians, Hellenes, Romans, and the fire-worship of the Persians would be the true faith, for at one time all of these people conquered the others and ruled over them. It is evident that your victory, power and wealth do not prove the truth of your faith. We know that God, at times, gives victory to Christians and, at other times, allows torture and suffering so as to correct them and bring them to repentance and purification of their sins.” After seven years they were beheaded, in the year 845. Their bodies were then thrown into the Euphrates River, but they floated to the other shore, where they were gathered and honorably buried by Christians.

Source: St. Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue of Ohrid – Volume One.

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