It is celebrated on March 9 every year.
And these forty Saints were soldiers in the most elite battalion of Licinius’ army. When he launched a persecution against the Christians, the forty Saints are immediately arrested by the prefect Agricola (in Sebastia). At first he praises them and promises them emoluments and offices, only to deny their faith. Then one of the forty, Candide, replies: “We thank you for the praises of our prowess. But Christ, in whom we believe, teaches us that to every lord we must offer him what belongs to him.
And therefore to the king we offer military obedience. But if, while following the Gospel, we do not harm the state, but rather benefit it by our service, why do you question us about the faith that forms such characters and leads to such works?’ Agricolas realized that he could not impose himself on them in a calm way and ordered them to be tortured. So, on a freezing winter night, they are thrown into the cold waters of a lake. The torture was horrible. Bodies began to bruise. But they encouraged one another, saying: “Winter is harsh, but heaven is sweet. Let us endure a little, and in one night we shall win all eternity.”
While the torture was going on, only one became emaciated and came out of the lake. But he was replaced by the guard (Aglaios), who saw the wreaths above their heads. He confessed Christ, entered the lake and together with the 39 he also takes the crown of martyrdom, after they were taken out of the lake half-dead in the morning and their branches were crushed. The martyr’s relics were found by the Christians on a cliff, where they had been gathered according to divine providence and reverently buried.
In the Beneficent it is stated that while the Holy Forty Martyrs were in the stage of the sport, having remained all night in the frozen lake, and as they were dragged to the shore to crush their limbs, the mother of a Martyr remained there suffering with them, seeing her child who was younger in age than all, lest, because of her young age and love of life, she should become timid and be found unworthy of the honor and rank of the soldiers of Christ. So she stood there and stretched out her hands to her child saying: “My sweet child, wait a little while and you will become a child of the Heavenly Father. Don’t be afraid of suffering. Behold, Christ appears as your helper. Nothing will be bitter from now on, nothing painful you will answer. All that came to pass, because you overcame all that with your bravery. Joy after them, comfort, cheerfulness. All this you will taste, because you will be close to Christ and you will represent Him and for me who gave birth to you”.
The remains of the Saints were found by a divine apparition, in the year 438 AD, by the empress Pulcheria (see February 17) hidden in the church of Agios Thyrsos, behind the pulpit, in the tomb of the deaconess Euseveia in two silver cases, which according to the testament of Piety, had been deposited in her tomb at her head. Then Pulcheria built a temple outside the walls of the Troadesians.
The Testament of the Holy Forty Martyrs is considered important from a historical point of view by newer researchers, which aims to prevent the dispersion of their holy relics among Christians, which was common in the East during those times.
The parents of Basil the Great (see here), who possessed “dust” and pieces of the holy relics of the Holy Forty Martyrs, erected the first temple in the East in honor of the Saints, where they were buried, on their estate in Pontus.
A temple dedicated to the Holy Forty Martyrs existed in the Middle area of Constantinople, which had been erected by Emperor Tiberius I (579 – 582 AD) and completed by Emperor Maurice (582 – 602 AD). The temple was decorated by Andronikos Komnenos (1183 – 1185 AD). In this temple, on the day of commemoration of the Holy Martyrs, the emperors worked. Other temples existed:
a) in the palace, and which celebrated on August 27,
b) on the island of Plati, or Platia,
c) in the monastery of Chora,
d) in the Middle of Syria.
Their Synaxis was held at their most holy Martyrdom near the Bronze Tetrapylos.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the Holy Forty Martyrs are patrons of I. M. Xiropotamos on Mount Athos, whose Catholic is honored in their memory.
According to the Paris Codes of 1575 and 1476, their names were: Kyrion, Candidus (or Claudius), Domnas, Eutychios (or Eutychis), Severianos, Cyril, Theodolos, Vivianos, Aggias, Hesychios, Eunoikos, Melito, Iliadis (or Ilias), Alexander, Sacedon (or Sakerdon), Walis, Priscus, Chudion, Heraclius, Ecdicius, (or Eudicius), John, Philoctemon, Flavius, Xanthius, (or Xanthias), Valerius, Nicholas, Athanasius, Theophilus, Lysimachus, Gaius, Claudius, Emerald, Sisinius, Leontius, Aetius, Acacius, Dometianus (or Dometius), two Gorgonians, Julius