Commemorations for Toba 30
1. The Martyrdom of Saints Pistis, Helpis, Agape, and Their Mother, Sophia.
On this day, the holy and blessed virgins, Pistis, Helpis, Agape, and their mother, Sophia, were martyred. St. Sophia was from a rich and noble family in Antioch. When she had these three girls, she called them Pistis, which means faith, Helpis, which means hope, and Agape, which means love.
When they grew up, she went with them to Rome to teach them the worship of God and His fear. Emperor Hadrianus (Hadrian), the infidel, heard about them and he summoned them before him. Their mother preached to them, and encouraged them to be steadfast in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, saying to them, "Let not your determination grow faint or weak, and let not the glory of the world entice you, lest you lose the eternal glory. Be patient and persevere until you meet your Bridegroom, the Christ, with Whom you will enter into the everlasting joy." The oldest sister was 12 years old, the second was 10 years old and the youngest was 9 years old.
When they came before the Emperor, he asked the oldest to worship the idols, promising her that he would marry her to one of the great men in his kingdom, and that he would bestow on her many delights and pleasures, but she refused. He ordered her to be beaten with hammers, mutilating her breasts, and to place her in a cauldron of boiling water over the fire. The Lord was with her, saved her, and He granted her strength and peace, and everyone was astonished and glorified God. Then the Emperor commanded that she be beheaded.
Then they brought the second daughter before the Emperor. He also beat her severely and also placed her in the boiling water, then they brought her out and beheaded her. With the youngest daughter, her mother feared that she would weaken, so she encouraged and strengthened her. When the Emperor ordered her placed in the pressing wheel (Hinbazin), she cried to Christ, and He sent His angel who broke it.
The Emperor then ordered her to be thrown into the fire. She prayed and made the sign of the cross on her face. Then she threw herself in it. All those who were present saw three men in white robes surrounding her, and the fiery furnace was as cold as the dew. They marvelled, and many believed in the Lord Christ, and they were all beheaded.
The Emperor ordered afterwards that her sides be pierced with hot rods, but the Lord strengthened her and she did not feel the pain. Finally, she was beheaded. Their mother carried their bodies outside the city, sat and wept, and asked them to ask the Lord Christ to take her soul also. The Lord granted her wish and her spirit went immediately to her Creator. Some believers came and carried the bodies and buried them with great honors.
Emperor Hadrian was struck with small pox in his eyes, and he became blind. The worms grew in his body and he died a dreadful death, and God avenged the death of these saintly virgins.
Their prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.