Aetherius of Cherson

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Hieromartyr Aetherius of Cherson was one of seven bishops of the fourth century, known collectively as the Hieromartyrs of Cherson, who carried the Gospel of Christ into the northwest area of the Black Sea. Of the seven, all but Aetherius were martyred while pursuing their missionary activities. Aetherius is commemorated with the other six bishops on March 7.

During the first decade of the fourth century a bishop's see was established at Cherson, a trading settlement on the Crimean peninsula. Missionary activity in the Black Sea was encouraged by Hermon, the Bishop of Jerusalem who sent many bishops to preach the Gospel in the various lands of the Black Sea during the decade to preach Christ's Gospel.

After the deaths of Bishops Eugene, Elpidius, and Agathodorus, Bp. Aetherius was sent during the reign of emperor St. Constantine the Great to continue the work of the earlier missionary bishops. Arriving at Cherson, Aetherius at first also encountered hostility from the pagans. However, the emperor Constantine would not tolerate acts of violence against the missionary. The emperor also had issued a decree permitting the Christians of Cherson to have church services without hindrance. Under imperial protection, St. Aetherius was able to have a church built in the city where he was able to peacefully serve his flock.

St. Aetherius fell ill and died on a journey back to Constantinople to thank the emperor for protecting the Christians. St. Aetherius was the only member of the seven hierarchs of Cherson to not meet an martyr's death.


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