In 1274 Michael VIII Paleologos entered into union with the Pope of Rome, in the hope that an alliance would strengthen his empire from the encroaching presence of the Bulgars and the Serbs. The union was not popularly received and the Emperor threatened to enforce the treaty by force if necessary, issuing a 1278 edict to that affect.
The monks of Mount Athos were solidly opposed to the union and sent a letter to the Emperor enumerating the heresies of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. They urged the Emperor to put aside the union, reject heresy and return to Orthodoxy.
Employing Latin crusaders from Romania, Turks and Tartars, Michael sent an army to Athos to enforce the union. The army attacked and killed monks in many of the Slavic monasteries. When Abbot Thomas of Zographou learned of the impending attack by inspiration, he told the population that those who wished to save themselves should flee, and that those who whished for martyrdom should stay in the monastery. The twenty-six men who remained and locked themselves in the monastery tower were: Abbot Thomas, monks Barsanuphius, Cyril, Michaeas, Cosmas, Hilarion, James, Job, Cyprian, Sabbas, James, Martinian, Cosmas, Sergius, Minas, Joasaph, Ioannicius, Paul, Anthony, Euthymius, Dometian Parthenius and four laymen.
When Michael’s Latin army reached Zographu they set fire to the tower. The holy martyrs sang hymns to the Mother of God while the tower burned, and gave their souls to God on October 10th, 1282.