The Warriors

It's no secret that from the earliest days of the Church Christians from all walks of life have served their nation or empire in a military role.  Seeing that so many of my friends and loved ones have also served in the armed forces, I thought I could make a page that focuses on the Church's soldiers down through the ages as a source of inspiration and encouragement.

Of course the most immortalized of all warriors (though pre-Christian) was King David, who not only fought the battles but wrote about them in a most inspiring way.  The prophetic mysteries he uttered and the beautiful weapons he gave us to engage the enemy within are without compare. 

King David's exploits and writings bring a whole new dimension to the famous Saints I've listed below, some of whom paid the ultimate price to serve God and their countries.  Many of them were court-martialed and put to death for refusing to worship idols, kill innocents or do other evils that they were commanded to do by their superiors.

I've found that the Church has collected these stories and others from the very earliest times.  These collections have been carefully guarded and passed down to us.  They don't carry as much weight as Holy Scripture of course, but I feel that they often get completely ignored because they aren't in the Bible.  It saddens me that these stories aren't given a chance to spur us on and inspire us, so that is another reason I've made this page.

I have listed these warriors in chronological order as best I could by the year they died.  The date at the beginning of each entry is the date the Church designates to remember them.
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St. Longinus the Centurion (early 1st century)

(October 16) The soldier that was in charge of crucifying our Lord became a Christian and is known as St. Longinus.  Here is his story from the October 16 entry of the Prologue.

The divine Matthew the Evangelist, in describing the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, says: Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God (Matthew 27:54).

That centurion was this blessed Longinus, who with two other of his soldiers came to believe in Jesus, the Son of God. Longinus was chief of the soldiers who were present at the Crucifixion of the Lord on Golgotha,... [Read More]
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THE HOLY MARTYR LEONTIUS (73 A.D.)

(June 18) Leontius was a Roman commander in Tripoli in Phoenicia during the reign of Emperor Vespasian. He was born in Hellas [Greece] "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 their 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 Theodulus. Hypatius and Theodulus then went ahead of the other soldiers to... [Read More]
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 THE HOLY MARTYR HERMIAS (166 A.D.)

(May 31) Hermias grew old as an imperial soldier and in his old age suffered for Christ the King. Since the evil judge tried in vain to dissuade him from the Faith of Christ and counseling him to offer sacrifices to the idols, the judge then gave orders that his teeth be knocked out with a stone and the skin peeled from his face with a knife. After that they threw him into a fiery furnace but, by the Grace of God, he was saved and stood up. Following that, by order of the judge he drank a bitter poison which was given to him by a magician, but the poison did him no harm.

Witnessing this, the magician was so amazed that he openly confessed Christ for which he was immediately beheaded. Afterwards, they gouged out both of Hermias' eyes but he did not grieve... [Read More]
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THE HOLY PRIESTLY-MARTYR NICON (249 A.D.)
 
(March 23) Nicon was born in Naples of a pagan father and Christian mother. Nicon was a Roman officer in Naples and was not baptized, even though his mother tutored him secretly from his father in the Faith of Christ.

Once, when Nicon was sent into battle with his troops, his mother counseled him to make the sign of the cross and to call upon Christ for help if any misfortune would befall him. And, indeed, while in battle, Nicon's troops were completely surrounded; and, toward the end of the battle, Nicon made the sign of the cross in his heart and cried out to Christ. Immediately, he was filled with unusual strength and pursued his enemies. Some he slew and others he forced to flee. Returning to his home, Nicon continuously cried out in amazement, "Great is the Christian God."

Since he had made his mother happy with the news of his victory with the help of the Cross of Christ, he secretly sailed to Asia... [Read More]
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THE SEVEN HOLY YOUTHS OF EPHESUS 
( 250 A.D. and then again in 450 A.D!!!)


(August 4) There was a great persecution of Christians during the reign of Decius. The emperor himself came to Ephesus and there arranged a boisterous and noisy celebration in honor of the lifeless idols as well as a terrible slaughter of Christians. Seven young men, soldiers, refrained from the impure offering of sacrifices and they earnestly prayed to the one God to save the Christian people. They were the sons of the most influential elders of Ephesus and their names were Maximilian, Jamblichus, Martin [Martinian], John, Dionysius, Exacustodianus, and Antonin [Antoninus].

When they were accused before the emperor, they retreated to a hill outside Ephesus called Celion and there they hid in a cave. When the emperor learned of this, he commanded that the cave be sealed off. However, God according to His far-reaching Providence caused a miraculous and long-lasting sleep to fall upon the young men.  [Read more...]
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Holy Martyrs Nearchus and Polyeuctus (259 A.D.)

(January 9) The prologue entry has the story of the Holy Martyrs Nearchus and Polyeuctus who were both Roman soldiers in Armenia.  They stood up for what was right and paid for it with their lives:

The Armenian city of Melitene was drenched with the blood of Christians as was the entire country of Armenia. The first blood shed for Christ in this city was that of Saint Polyeuctus in the year 259 A.D. during the reign of Valerian.

In this city [Melitene] were two friends: both Nearchus and Polyeuctus were officers, Nearchus baptized and Polyeuctus unbaptized. When the command of the emperor was sent out concerning the persecution of the Christians, Nearchus prepared for death; but... [Read More]
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Holy Martyr Sebastian (287 A.D.)
(December 18)  This glorious saint was born in Italy and brought up in the city of Milan. While still young, he dedicated himself to military service. Being educated, handsome and courageous, he received the favor of Emperor Diocletian, who appointed him captain of his imperial guard.

Secretly he confessed the Christian Faith and prayed to the Living God. As an honorable, just and merciful man, Sebastian was greatly beloved by his soldiers. Whenever he could, he saved Christians from torture and death,... [Read More]


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 Holy Great Martyr Theodore the Tyro (300 A.D.)
(February 17)  Saint Theodore, the fourth century martyr, is one of the most famous soldier-saints of the East. He was from Amasia of Pontus. When he entered the army, the persecution of Christians began under the Emperor Maximian (286-305). Theodore was called “tyro,” from the Latin tiro meaning “recruit” because he was newly enlisted.
When it was reported that he was a Christian, he boldly confessed Christ. The ruler, hoping that he would repent, gave him time to consider the matter more completely and then give answer... [Read More]

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Great Martyr George (303 A.D.)

(April 23) One of the most famous and celebrated of all Christian soldiers is of course St. George.  From the Prologue entry on April 23 we find the following:

This glorious and victorious saint was born in Cappadocia the son of wealthy and virtuous parents. His father suffered for Christ and his mother then moved to Palestine. When George grew up, he entered the military, where in his twentieth year, attained the rank of a Tribune and as such was in the service of the Emperor Diocletian.

When Diocletian began the terrible persecution against Christians, George came before him and courageously confessed that he is a Christian. The emperor had him thrown into prison and ordered that his feet be placed in a stockade of wooden hobbles and that... [Read More]
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Holy Great Martyr Saint Procopius (303 A.D.)

(July 8) Procopius was born in Jerusalem of a father who was a Christian and a mother who was a pagan. At first, his name was Neanias. Following the death of his father, the mother raised her son completely in the spirit of Roman idolatry. When Neanias matured, Emperor Diocletian saw him and, at once, took a liking to him and brought him to his palace for military service. When this nefarious emperor began to persecute Christians, he ordered Neanias to go to Alexandria with a garrison of soldiers and there to exterminate the Christians. But, on the road, something happened to Neanias similar to that which happened to Saul [Paul].

In the third hour of the night there was a strong earthquake and, at that moment, the Lord appeared to him and a voice was heard: "Neanias, where are you going and against whom are you rising up?" In great fear, Neanias asked: "Who are You Lord? I am unable to recognize You." At that moment, a glowing cross as if of crystal appeared in the air ... [Read More]
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THE HOLY MARTYR MAURICE AND THE SEVENTY SOLDIERS WITH HIM (305 A.D.)
(February 22)  During the reign of Emperor Maximian there was a great persecution of Christians. In the Syrian town of Apamsea, Maurice was superior of the local army. The pagans reported him to the emperor as being a Christian and a sower of the Christian Faith among the soldiers.

The emperor himself came and conducted an investigation. Along with Maurice seventy Christian soldiers were also brought before the emperor among whom was Photinus, the son of Maurice. Neither the emperor’s flattery nor threats could sway these heroes.

To the threats of the emperor, they replied: “O Emperor, there is no fear... [Read More]
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THE HOLY GREAT MARTYR THEODORE STRATELATES (319 A.D)

(February 8) There are martyrdoms more precious than precious. The preciousness of martyrdom depends upon the greatness of the good which a Christian abandons and in lieu of that, accepts suffering; and still, it depends upon the greatness of the suffering which he endures for Christ’s sake.

St. Theodore, a Roman commander in the army of Emperor Licinius and mayor of the town of Heraclea,... [Read More]

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VENERABLE PETER THE ATHONITE (734 A.D.)

(June 12) Peter was a Greek by birth and a soldier by profession. Once, in battle against the Arabs, Peter was captured, bound by chains and cast into prison. Peter remained imprisoned a long time in the town of Samara on the Euphrates river and he constantly prayed that God free him from prison and take him to some wilderness where he would dedicate himself completely to a life of prayerful asceticism. St. Simeon, the Receiver of God, with St. Nicholas appeared to him in prison, touched his iron chains with his staff and they melted like wax and Peter suddenly found himself in a field outside the town. He immediately set out for Rome where he was tonsured a monk by the pope himself at the tomb of St. Peter.

After this he again departed by boat for the east. The All-Holy Birth-giver of God along with St. Nicholas appeared to him in a dream and the Birth-giver of God said to St. Nicholas that she designated Mt. Athos for a life of asceticism for Peter. Up to this time, Peter had never heard of the Holy Mt. Athos... [Read More]
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Last edit:  1/12/2014

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