Three Sister Martyrs
Listen to the Daily Reading for April 16, 2016, 5th Saturday of Lent: The Akathist Hymn
St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 9:1-7
BRETHREN, the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties; but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people.
The Gospel according to Luke 1:39-49, 56
In those days, Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.
Agape, Chionia, and Irene, the Holy Martyrs
When the Emperor Diocletian was at Aquileia, he learned that these Saints were Christians, and had them brought before him. Because they would not deny Christ, he had them imprisoned, and when he went into Macedonia, he committed them to Dulcitius the Prefect, who, however, lost his understanding and became incapable of doing them any harm. Diocletian then gave Count Sisinius charge over them. He had Saints Agape and Chionia burned; he ordered that Saint Irene be put in a brothel, but by the providence of God this was not accomplished, and she was shot with an arrow. These holy sisters suffered martyrdom in Thessalonica in the year 295.
Apolytikion of Virgin Martyrs Agape, Chionia, & Irene
Since Thou hast given us the miracles of Thy holy Martyrs as an invincible battlement, by their entreaties scatter the counsels of the heathen, O Christ our God, and strengthen the faith of Orthodox Christians, since Thou alone art good and the Friend of man.
Kontakion of Virgin Martyrs Agape, Chionia, & Irene
O Most fair Chionia, divine Irene, and Agape, ye are mirrors glittering with spotless virginal brightness; and ye shine like unto lightning upon the whole Church with the splendour of your contest as valiant Martyrs; and ye drive away the darkness of pain and sickness as brilliant gems of Christ God.
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