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E06936: The Greek Martyrdom of the *Forty-five martyrs of Nikopolis (martyrs in Armenia under Licinius, S01778) recounts the death of a group of Christians, led by the nobles Leontios, Maurikios, and Daniel, in Nikopolis of Armenia under Licinius. The text alludes to the cult of their relics, refers to a miraculous spring of water on the site of their martyrdom, and contains references to the martyrdoms of *Euphemia (martyr of Chalcedon, S00017), *Kapitolina (martyr of Caesarea, S02510), *Ioulitta (martyr of Caesarea, S00416) and *Potamiaina (martyr of Alexandria, S00945). Written in Nicopolis, in the 5th or 6th century.

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posted on 2018-10-18, 00:00 authored by erizos
The Martyrdom of the Forty Five Martyrs of Nicopolis in Armenia (BHG 1216)


1. The emperor Licinius issues a decree (which is quoted) demanding Christians to sacrifice to the gods. Those who sacrifice are to be honoured, those who refuse to are to be killed and their property confiscated.

2-5. The decree is publicly displayed in Nicopolis of Armenia, alongside instruments of torture, and the commander (dux) of the legions of Armenia, Lysias, arrives in the city. Three notables named Leontios, Maurikios and Daniel, followed by another forty men from the city and the surrounding countryside, present themselves and confess to being Christians. Leontios replies to Lysias’ accusation that they worship a crucified man, explaining the Christian faith and discrediting the pagan gods whom he denounces as immoral and deceitful demons.

6-9. Lysias has them tortured by hitting their faces with stones, and has them fettered and imprisoned in the northern tower of the city, outside which a spring of water flows. He orders the two Egyptian gaolers, Menaias and Belerades, not to give them any food or water. The martyrs pray to God together. Leontios exhorts them to keep their faith, motivating them through the examples of apostles who died as martyrs and adducing the female martyrs *Euphemia of Chalcedon (S00017), Kapitoulina/Capitolina of Caesarea (S02510), and Ioulitta (probably of Caesarea, S00416).

10-11. Leontios also recounts the story of *Potamiaina (martyr of Alexandria, S00945), which he heard from a holy man who had heard it from *Antony (the Great, monk of Egypt, S00098). Potamiena was a Christian maidservant in Alexandria. When she refused to sleep with her master, he denounced her as a Christian, and asked the governor to force her sleep with him or condemn her. Since she refused to change her mind, she was martyred in a cauldron of pitch. Based on this story, Leontios encourages his fellows and promises that, after their martyrdom, their souls will rejoice in God, while their relics will be sent out and honoured in the entire world. As it is summer, the martyrs suffer from thirst, until a pious woman, named Basiane, smuggles water for them, hiding jugs of water under her mantle while visiting them.

12-15. At night, Satan appears to Lysias in the form of Asclepius, and incites him to torture and kill the martyrs, to burn them and scatter their bones and ashes into the river Lykos. Lysias takes his seat at the tribunal, 150 paces outside the town and summons the martyrs. He exhorts them to sacrifice with promises and threats, but they anathematise him, and Leontios gives another speech against the gods.

16-17. Lysias has them ripped with iron claws for several hours, and puts them back in jail without food or water. During this time, the dux stays in the house of the city councillor Herodes, an undercover Christian pretending to be a pagan. Herodes’ secretary, Philinos, is a friend of Leontios. The latter, fearing that some of his companions might lapse, asks Philinos to urge Herodes to convince Lysias to have them killed next day, which he does. Then, Basiane, the woman who used to bring them water, fails to visit them, and Leontios reprimands her in Armenian. Finally, she manages to smuggle some water through the window, and the saints give her their blessing. In exchange for her help, her offspring will serve as priests.

18-20. That night, while the saints are praying, an angel appears and announces to them that their names are written in the Book of Life. The two guards, Meneas and Belerades, seeing the light and hearing the voice of the angel, convert and join the saints. Lysias sentences them all to death.

21-24. The saints are mutilated, with their limbs being chopped off by axes. One of the martyrs, Aniketos, makes jokes out of their amputated body parts, while another martyr, Sisinnios, suffering under the heat and thirst, crawls towards a rock nearby and prays for water. A fountain miraculously erupts from the burning stone and, Sisinnios gives up a final prayer of thanksgiving, which ends with following requests:

Καταξίωσόν με καὶ τοὺς ἡγιασμένους ἀδελφούς μου τελειωθῆναι τῇ σῇ χάριτι, καὶ ἐλπίδι· καὶ ὥσπερ ἠνώθημεν ταῖς ψυχαῖς ἀδιστάκτως, ἐνωθῶμεν καὶ τοῖς ὀστέοις· καὶ τῶν χρείαν ἐχόντων τῆς σῆς βοηθείας, καὶ παρακαλούντων σε δι᾽ ἡμῶν ταχέως ἐπάκουσον, Κύριε, ἐν ἑκάστῃ ἀνάγκῃ καὶ χρείᾳ· κᾂν ἐν πενίᾳ τις ὑπάρχει, κᾂν ἐν χηρίᾳ καὶ ὀρφανίᾳ, κᾂν ἐν ὑποδημίᾳ, κᾂν ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ σώματος καὶ ψυχῆς, καὶ ἐν χρέεσιν, καὶ συκοφαντίαις, κᾂν ἐν πικρᾷ δουλείᾳ, κᾂν ἐν φθορᾷ ἀνθρώπων ἢ ζώων, κᾂν ἐν θαλάσσῃ χειμαζόμενός τις εἴη, κᾂν ἐν ἄλλῃ περιστάσει προσαχθῇ, συ, βασιλεῦ, δι᾽ ἡμῶν παράκλησιν ταχὺ ἐπάκουσον, ἵνα γνῶσιν πάντες οἱ κατὰ τὴν οἰκουμένην, ὅτι πολὺ ἠγάπησας ἡμᾶς, καὶ ἀκούεις ἡμῶν· καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ τοῦτο γενέσθω εἰς ἴασιν ἐν παντὶ παθει· σῇ γὰρ ἐπικλήσει ἐξόμβρισεν, καὶ παλαιὸν θαῦμα ἀνεκαινίσθη εἰς δόξαν Πατρὸς, καὶ Υἱοῦ, καὶ ἁγίου Πνεύματος, ἔπαινον δὲ καὶ μνείαν τῶν Μαρτύρων σου τῶν πέντε καὶ τεσσαράκοντα.

‘Grant that I and my sanctified brethren may reach our end in your grace and hope. And as we have been united in our souls unreserved, let us also be united in our bones. And those who are in need of your help and beseech you through us, hear them, oh Lord, quickly in their need and shortage: whether one is in poverty, whether in widowhood or as orphans, whether in migration, whether in illness of body and soul, and in debts, and in calumny, whether in bitter slavery, whether in destruction of men or animals, whether one is in peril in the sea, and whether they encounter any other kind of difficulty; may you, oh King, through us grant fast consolation to their supplication, so that everyone around the world may know that you have loved us much and hear us. And let this water be a means of healing for all suffering, for it gushed forth by your invocation, and an old wonder became new to the glory of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and to the praise and memory of the Forty Five Martyrs.’

24. The soldiers light a massive pyre in a village near the city, and collect the martyrs to have them burned. They find that one of them is missing, but Sisinnios reveals himself and is given up to the fire with the rest. The martyrs die on 10 July. The soldiers take their remains and throw them from a bridge into the river Lycus, six miles away from the city.

25. The river preserves their bones united in one place and intact, and the Christians gather them, together with earth sanctified by them. Under Constantine, they take them to the city and store them in oratories.

Text: AASS Iulii
Summary and translation: Efthymios Rizos, Giovanni Hermanin de Reichenfeld.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Forty-five martyrs of Nikopolis, martyrs in Armenia under Licinius : S01778 Euphemia, martyr of Chalcedon : S00017 Ioulitta/Julitta, martyr of Kaisareia in Cappadocia : S00416 Kapitolina and Eroteis, martyrs of Caesarea in Cappadocia : S02510 Pot

Saint Name in Source

Λεόντιος, Μαυρίκιος, Δανιήλ, Μενέας, Μεναίας, Βηληράδης, Ἀνίκητος, Σισίννιος Εὐφημία Ἰουλίττα Καπιτουλίνα Ποταμιήνα Ἀντώνιος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Nicopolis Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle at martyrdom and death Miracles causing conversion Healing diseases and disabilities Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Material support (supply of food, water, drink, money) Healing diseases and disabilities Miraculous behaviour of relics/images Miraculous protection - of people and their property

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Pagans Aristocrats Torturers/Executioners Slaves/ servants

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - bones and teeth Bodily relic - corporeal ashes/dust Contact relic - dust/sand/earth


For the manuscript tradition, see: For the edition, see Bibliography.


Text: Acta Sanctorum, Iul. III, 37-47 (3rd ed. 36-45). Migne, J.P., Patrologia Graeca 115 (Paris, 1899), 324-345.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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