(The Twenty-Third Day of the Blessed Month of Abib)
I. The Martyrdom of St. Longinus the Soldier:
On this day, St. Longinus the Soldier, was martyred. He was Greek by nationality, from one of the countries of Cappadocia. When Tiberius Caesar reigned, and appointed Pilate governor of the land of Judah, Longinus was one of the soldiers that accompanied him.
When the time arrived that Our Lord wished to save the creation, Longinus was one of the soldiers that were in charge of crucifying the Lord of Glory. It happened that after the Lord had delivered up His soul, Longinus pierced His side with a spear, and blood and water flowed from His Side. Longinus marvelled exceedingly when he saw this, and his amazement increased when he saw that the sun became dark, the curtain of the Temple was rent, the rocks were split, and that the dead rose up from the tombs. He believed and realized all the miracles which Our Lord performed from His Birth to His Crucifixion. When the righteous Joseph took the body of the Savior, shrouded Him, and laid it in the sepulcher, this Saint was standing there with the guards when they sealed the tomb.
When Our Lord rose from the sealed tomb, Longinus was perplexed, and he asked God to explain to him this mystery. Our Lord sent to him the Apostle Peter, who told him everything which had been prophesied concerning the Redeemer. He believed, abandoned the military service, went back to his country, and preached the Name of Christ.
When Pilate heard about this, he wrote to Tiberius about him, who ordered his head cut off, and thus he received the crown of martyrdom.
May his prayers be with us, Amen.
II. The Martyrdom of St. Marina, of Antioch:
On this day also, is the commemoration of the martyrdom of the blessed St. Marina, who overcame the Devil. She was one of the daughters of the nobles of Antioch. Her parents were pagan. When her mother died, her father sent her to a nanny to raise her, who was a Christian. She taught Marina the Faith of Christ. When Marina reached the age of fifteen years, her father died. One day she heard her nurse talking about the biography of the martyrs and what glory they receive in the Kingdom of Heaven. She longed to become a martyr in the Name of the Lord Christ. One day St. Marina went out of her house with her maiden servants, and on her way she passed by Lopharius Ebrotus, the governor, who admired her much when he saw her. He ordered her brought to him. When the soldiers came to her, she told them that she was Christian. In turn, when they told the governor this, he was distressed for he liked her, and he had her brought to him by force. He offered her the worship of the idols and asked her to forsake God, but she refused. Then he asked her, "What is your name? and from where are you?" She told him, "I am Christian. I believe in the Lord Christ, and my name is Marina." He tried to persuade her by many promises and promised to marry her, but she did not heed him. When she cursed and insulted him, he ordered her body scraped with iron combs, then rubbed with vinegar, salt and lime, which they did. Nevertheless, she endured with patience. They cast her in prison, thinking that she was about to die. Immediately the angel of the Lord came, and healed all her wounds. While she was standing up praying, and her hands were extended in the form of a cross, a huge and terrifying serpent came forth. When she saw it she was frightened and her whole body trembled. The serpent swallowed her up, and her soul almost departed from her. She made the sign of the cross and prayed while she was in the belly of the serpent. It split open and fell on the ground dead. St. Marina went out unharmed.
The next morning, the governor ordered her brought to him. When he saw that she was well, he marvelled much, and told her, "Marina, your sorcery has become evident today, so listen to me.Worship the gods and much good would be for you, and I will give you all that I have promised you." She looked to him and to the dumb idols with contempt and said, "I worship the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the God of heavens and earth, and whatever you wish to do with me, do, for I will not heed you." The governor ordered her hanged on the wheel, the squeezing wheel, and squeezed very tightly. They did so, then cast her in prison. The angel of the Lord came to her, and healed her. Then the Devil appeared to her and said, "O Marina, if you obey the governor that would be for your good for he is merciless, and he wishes to erase your name from the face of the earth." She realized that he was the Devil. Straightway she caught the hair of his head, and she took an iron rod and started to beat him, saying, "Stop it O Satan." Then she bound him with the sign of the cross, not to depart from before her until he told her all about what he does to the human race. When she pressed him, he told her, "I am the one who makes adultery, stealing, blasphemy, and earthly desires, good and desirable to the human. And if I do not overcome him, I steer sleep and laziness against him, so he will not pray and ask for the forgiveness of his sins." The Saint straightway expelled him.
When the governor saw her he marvelled much, then he ordered to uncover her body, and to fill a large cauldron with melted lead, and to immerse her in it. When they did so, she asked the Lord to make this a baptism for her. The Lord sent his angel in the form of a dove. She immersed while saying, "In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God Amen." A voice from heaven called her and said, "O Marina you have been baptized in the baptismal water." She rejoiced exceedingly, and those who were present heard what had happened to the saint. Many of them believed, and the governor ordered to cut off their necks, and afterwards ordered to cut off St. Marina's holy head. The executioner took her and went outside the city, then told her, "My lady Marina, I see the angel of the Lord and with him a crown of bright light." She said, "I ask you to tarry on me until I have prayed." She extended her arms and prayed fervently, then told the executioner, "Do what you have been ordered to do." She bowed her neck to the executioner who told her, "I could not do so." The saint told him, "If you do not do so, you would not have a share in the Kingdom of God." When he heard what she said, he took the sword and cut her neck off then he cut his neck also while he was saying, "I believe in the God of St. Marina." He fell down beside her and he received the crown of martyrdom in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Lord had manifested from her body many signs and healing miracles. Her body is presently located in the church of the Lady the Virgin Mary in Haret El-Roum.
May her prayers and intercession be with us and Glory be to God forever. Amen.