The holy, glorious and right-victorious Forty Martyrs of Sebaste are a group of Roman soldiers who became martyrs for their Christian faith in 320. Ss. Cyrion (Quirio), Candidus, Domnus, Hesychius, Heraclius, Smaragdus, Eunoicus, Valens, Vivianus, Claudius, Priscus, Theodulus, Eutychius, John, Santhias, Helianus, Sisinius, Angius, Aetius, Flavius, Acacius, Ecdicius, Lysimachus, Alexander, Elias, Gorgonius, Theophilus, Dometian, Gaius, Leontius, Athanasius, Cyril, Sacerdon, Nicholas, Valerius, Philoctimon, Severian, Chudion, Aglaius, and Meliton.
St. Constantine the Great issued an edict in the year 313, granting Christians religious freedom, and officially recognizing Christianity as equal with paganism under the law. But Licinius, his co-ruler and a pagan, continued to persecute the Christians of the East. He also purged Christians from his own army, fearing mutiny.
According to St. Basil, forty soldiers who had openly confessed themselves Christians were condemned by the prefect to be exposed naked upon a frozen pond near Sebaste on a bitterly cold night, that they mightfreeze to death. Among the confessors, one yielded and, leaving his companions, sought the warm baths near the lake which had been prepared for any who might prove inconstant. One of the guards set to keep watch over the martyrs beheld a supernatural brilliancy overshadowing them and at once proclaimed himself a Christian, threw off his garments, and placed himself beside the thirty-nine soldiers of Christ. Thus the number of forty remained complete. At daybreak, the stiffened bodies of the confessors, which still showed signs of life, were burned and the charred bones were cast into a river so that Christians would not gather them up.
Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St. Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop, together with several clergy, gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.