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SS. ELIAS, JEREMY, ISAIAS, SAMUEL, AND DANIEL WITH OTHER HOLY MARTYRS AT CÆSAREA, IN PALESTINE.
From Eusebius’s relation of the martyrs of Palestine, at the end of the eighth book of his history, c. 11, 12, p. 346, Ed. Vales.
A. D. 309.
In the year 309, the emperors Galerius Maximianus and Maximinus continuing the persecution begun by Dioclesian, these five pious Egyptians went to visit the confessors condemned to the mines in Cilicia, and on their return were stopped by the guards of the gates of Cæsarea, in Palestine, as they were entering the town. They readily declared themselves Christians, together with the motive of their journey; upon which they were apprehended. The day following they were brought before Firmilian, the governor of Palestine, together with St. Pamphilus and others. The judge, before he began his interrogatory, ordered the five Egyptians so be laid on the rack, as was his custom. After they had long suffered all manner of tortures, he addressed himself to him who seemed to be their chief, and asked him his name and his country. They had changed their names, which, perhaps, before their conversion, were those of some heathen gods, as was customary in Egypt. The martyr answered, according to the names they had given themselves, that he was called Elias, and his companions, Jeremy, Isaias, Samuel, and Daniel. Firmilian then asked their country; he answered, Jerusalem, meaning the heavenly Jerusalem, the true country of all Christians. The judge inquired in what part of the world that was, and ordered him to be tormented with fresh cruelty. All this while the executioners continued to tear his body with stripes, while his hands were bound behind him, and his feet squeezed in the woodstocks, called the Nervus. The judge, at last, tired with tormenting them, condemned all five to be beheaded, which was immediately executed.
Porphyrius, a youth who was a servant of St. Pamphilus, hearing the sentence pronounced, cried out, that at least the honor of burial ought not to be refused them. Firmilian, provoked at this boldness, ordered him to be apprehended; and finding that he confessed himself a Christian, and refused to sacrifice, ordered his sides to be torn so cruelly, that his very bones and bowels were exposed to view. He underwent all this without a sigh or tear, or so much as making the least complaint. The tyrant, not to be overcome by so heroic a constancy, gave orders for a great fire to be kindled, with a vacant space to be left in the midst of it, for the martyr to be laid in, when taken off the rack. This was accordingly done, and he lay there a considerable time, surrounded by the flames, singing the praises of God, and invoking the name of Jesus; till at length, quite broiled by the fire, he consummated a slow, but glorious martyrdom.
Seleucus, an eye-witness of this victory, was heard by the soldiers applauding the martyr’s resolution; and being brought before the governor, he, without more ado, ordered his head to be struck off.