The holy martyr Meletius Stratelates (the Commander) and his companions, the martyrs Stephen, John, Serapion the Egyptian, Callinicus the Sorcerer; the women Marciana, Palladia, Sosanna; the infants Kyriakos and Christian; the twelve tribunes and a multitude of soldiers, contested for the faith during the reign of Antoninus Pius (138-161). Their memory is celebrated on May 24.
The holy martyr Meletius was a military commander in Galatia, Asia Minor during the reign of the Roman Emperor Antoninus. He was a Christian who prayed fervently for the Lord to enlighten the unbelievers and put an end to the pagan error. Terrified by this prayer and the resulting loss of their power, the demons inhabiting the pagan temples and idols took the form of frenzied dogs which attacked the Christian inhabitants of the district.
Saint Meletius and the soldiers under his command rid the region of the wild dogs and destroyed the pagan temples. They preached the Christian faith and ministered to the people of the region. Meletius was arrested and brought to trial before the governor Maximian. Refusing to offer sacrifice to the idols, Meletius was tortured and died after being hung on a tree, thus confessing his faith in Christ. The tribunes of his regiment, the holy martyrs Stephen and John were tortured and then beheaded for their confession of Christ as the true God.
The holy martyrs Theodore and Faustus were burned along with many others. Among the women and children who suffered are the holy martyrs Marciana, Susanna, Palladia - the wives of Stephen, John and Serapion, and the infants Kyriakos and Christian. The infants Kyriakos and Christian were asked by the torturers, “who is greater between Zeus and Jesus Christ?” They responded, “Christ” and were beheaded. Their executioners, conscious of their crime are said to have died instantly. The names of some of the soldiers, and of the twelve tribunes are known: the holy martyrs Faustus, Festus, Marcellus, Theodore, Meletius, Sergius, Marcellinus, Felix, Photinus, Theodoriscus, Mercurius and Didymus.
The holy martyr Serapion was born in Egypt. He had come to Galatia and had been set as a guard over the martyrs. He witnessed the martyrdom of Saint Meletius and his companions. Seeing the bravery with which those who believed in Christ died for Him, Saint Serapion also believed, for which he was imprisoned and later beheaded together with Callinicus the former sorcerer who also believed after his incantations had no effect over the Christians.
The remaining soldiers of the regiment, also declaring themselves Christians, were beheaded by the sword, together with their wives and children. One thousand, two hundred eighteen men perished.
- Your holy martyr Meletius and his companions, O Lord,
- through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God.
- For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries,
- and shattered the powerless boldness of demons.
- Through their intercessions, save our souls!