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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Apostles Jason and Sosipater of the Seventy, and their companions

    The Disciple Jason hailed from Tarsus (Asia Minor). He was the first Christian in the city.  The Disciple Sosipater was a native of Achaeia. They both became disciples of the Apostle Paul, who even called them his "kinsmen" (Rom. 16: 21). Saint Jason was made bishop in his native city of Tarsus, and Saint Sosipater -- in Iconium. They set out to the West preaching the Gospel, and in the year 63 they reached the island of Kerkyra (Korfu) in the Ionian Sea near Greece.

    There they built a church in the name of the First-Martyr Stephen and they baptised many. The governor of the island learned about this and locked them up in prison, where they saw seven thieves: Satornius, Iakyscholus, Faustian, Jannuarius, Marsalius, Euphrasius and Mammius. The disciples converted them to Christ. For their confession of Christ the seven prisoners died as martyrs in a cauldron of molten tar, wax and sulfur.

    The prison guard, having beheld their act of martyrdom, declared himself a Christian. For this they cut off his left hand, then both feet and finally his head. The governor ordered the disciples Jason and Sosipater to be whipped and again locked up in prison.

    When the daughter of the governor, the maiden Kerkyra, learned how the martyrs would suffer for Christ, she declared herself a Christian and gave away all her finery to the poor. The infuriated governor attempted to persuade his daughter into a renunciation of Christ, but Saint Kerkyra stood firm against both persuasions and against threats. Then the enraged father devised a terrible punishment for his daughter: he gave orders to situate her in a separate prison-cell and bring in to her the robber and murderer Murinus, so that he would defile the betrothed of Christ.

    But when the robber approached the door of the prison-cell, a bear pounced upon him. Saint Kerkyra heard the noise and in the Name of Christ she drove off the beast, and then by her prayer she healed the wounds of Murinus. After this Saint Kerkyra enlightened him with the faith of Christ, and Saint Murinus declared himself a Christian and thereupon was executed.

    The governor gave orders to burn down the prison, but the holy virgin remained alive. Then by order of her enraged father, she was suspended upon a tree, choked with bitter smoke and executed with arrows. After her death, the governor decided to execute all the Christians on the island of Kerkyra. The Martyrs Zinon, Eusebios, Neonos and Vitalius, having been enlightened by the Disciples Jason and Sosipater, were burnt.

    The inhabitants of Kerkyra, escaping from the persecution, crossed over to an adjoining island. The governor set sail with a detachment of soldiers, but was swallowed up by the waves. The governor succeeding him gave orders to throw the Disciples Jason and Sosipater into a cauldron of boiling tar, but when he beheld them unharmed, with tears he cried out: "O God of Jason and Sosipater, have mercy on me!"

    Having been set free, the disciples baptised the governor and gave him the name Sebastian. With his help the Disciples Jason and Sosipater built several churches on the island and, living there until old age, by their fervent preaching increased the flock of Christ.

© 1997 by translator Fr. S. Janos