St. Epistime with her husband, Galacteon, at Emesa
Commemorated on November 5
Epistime was a beautiful and illustrious girl whose marriage was arranged by the father of her future betrothed, Galacteon. By the will of God, the wedding was postponed for a time. Visiting his future bride, Galacteon gradually revealed his faith to her. He converted her to Christ and secretly baptized her himself.
In addition to Epistime, he also baptized one of her servants, Eutolmius. The newly-illumined decided to devote themselves to the monastic life. Leaving the city, they hid on Mt. Publion, where there were two monasteries, one for men and the other for women. The new monastics had to take with them all their necessities since the inhabitants of both monasteries were old and infirm.
For several years, the monastics struggled in work, fasting, and prayer. Later, Epistime had a vision in her sleep where she and Galacteon stood in a wondrous palace before a radiant King, and the King bestowed golden crowns on them. This vision prefigured their impending martyrdom.
Pagans became aware of the existence of the monasteries, and soldiers were sent to apprehend the inhabitants. The monks and the nuns hid in the hills surrounding the monasteries. However, Galacteon had no desire to flee and remained in his cell, reading the Holy Scriptures. When Epistime saw that the soldiers were leading Galacteon away in chains, she begged the Abbess to permit her to go with him, since she wished to accept torture for Christ together with her husband and teacher. The Abbess tearfully gave Epistime her blessing.
The saints endured terrible torments while supplicating and glorifying Christ. Their hands and legs were cut off, their tongues were cut out, and they were beheaded. Epistime’s former servant, Eutolmius, who had become her brother in Christ and fellow ascetic in monastic struggles, secretly buried the bodies of the holy martyrs. He later wrote an account of their virtuous lives and their glorious martyrdom, for his contemporaries and for posterity.
Troparion (Tone 4) –
Your holy martyrs, O Lord,
Through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God.
For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries,
And shattered the powerless boldness of demons.
Through their intercessions, save our souls!
Kontakion (Tone 2) –
You are numbered among the hosts of martyrs
for you were illustrious in mighty contests.
Galácteon, together with Epistémis,
your faithful wife and companion in struggle,
unceasingly intercede to the one God for us all.
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)