The PriestMartyr Anthymos, Bishop of Nicomedia, and the Martyrs with him suffered during the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284-305). The persecution of Christians became particularly intense after the occurrence of a conflagration at the imperial court at Nicomedia. The pagans accused the Christians of setting the fire and reacted against them with terrible ferocity. Thus, in Nicomedia alone, on the day of the Nativity of Christ, at a church as many as twenty thousand Christians were burned. But this monstrous inhumanity did not frighten off the Christians: they firmly confessed their faith and accepted a martyr's death for Christ. And thus during this period of
sufferings died Saints Dorotheus, Mardonius, Migdonius, Peter, Indysos and Gorgonios. One of them was beheaded by the sword, others perished -- by burning, or being covered over in the ground or by drowning in the sea. Zinon, a soldier, for his bold denunciation of the emperor Maximian was stoned, and then beheaded. Then also perished at the hands of the pagans the holy Virgin-Martyr Domna -- a former pagan-priestess, and also Saint Euthymios, because of their concern that the bodies of the holy martyrs should be buried. Bishop Anthymos, who headed the Nicomedia Church, at the request of his flock concealed himself in a village not far from Nicomedia. From there he sent missives to the Christians, urging them to cleave firmly to the holy faith and not to fear tortures. One of his letters, dispatched with the Deacon Theophilos, was intercepted and given over to the emperor Maximian. Theophilos was subjected to interrogation and died under torture, without revealing to his torturers the whereabouts of Bishop Anthymos. But after a certain while Maximian managed to learn where Saint Anthymos was situated, and he sent a detachment of soldiers after him. The bishop himself met up with them along the way. The soldiers did not recognise the identity of the saint. He invited them to join him and provided them a meal, after which he revealed that he was the one that they were searching for. The soldiers did not know what to do in this instance; indeed, they wanted to leave him be and tell the emperor that they had not found him. Bishop Anthymos was not one to tolerate a lie, and so he would not consent to this. The soldiers themselves came to believe in Christ and accepted holy Baptism. But amidst all this, the saint nonetheless demanded them to carry out the orders of the emperor. When Bishop Anthymos was brought before the emperor, the emperor gave orders that the instruments of execution be brought out and placed before him. "Dost thou think, emperor, to frighten me with these tolls of execution?" -- asked the saint. -- "No indeed, thou canst not frighten one that doth wish to die for Christ! Execution is frightening only for the cowardly of soul, for whom the present life is most precious". The emperor then directed that the saint be fiercely tortured and beheaded by the sword. Bishop Anthymos to his last gasp with joy glorified God, for Whom he had been vouchsafed to suffer (+ 302; another account of the Nicomedia Martyrs is located under 28 December).