Hieromartyr Artemon, presbyter of Laodicea in Syria (303)
At the time of Diocletian’s persecutions, he was a very old man, having served as a reader for sixteen years, then a deacon for twenty-eight years, and finally as a priest for thirty years, for a total of seventy-four years. The pagan judge put him in the Temple of Aesculapius, where large snakes were kept and worshiped as gods. Though the judge meant for Artemon to be attacked by the snakes, the holy priest immobilized them with the sign of the Cross, brought them out of the temple and, in front of the pagan priests, breathed on the snakes, which died instantly. The chief priest, Vitalis, fell to his knees and cried ‘Great is the Christian God!’ Artemon baptised him along with several of his friends.
The unrepentant judge then condemned Artemon to be thrown into burning pitch, but the judge himself was thrown off his horse into the pitch and died. After this, Artemon went free for a time and spent his time teaching the Faith to his people (“accompanied always by two tame deer,” says St Nikolia Velimirovic!). But he was arrested again and beheaded in the year 303.
St Martin the Confessor, pope of Rome (655)
“Martin became Pope on July 5th, 649, at the time of a furious quarrel between the Orthodox and the Monothelite heretics. Constans the Second, Heraclius’ grandson, was on the throne at the time, and Paul was Patriarch of Constantinople. To restore peace in the Church, the Emperor himself wrote a dogmatic decree, the Typos, which leaned heavily towards heresy. Pope Martin summoned a Council of 105 bishops, at which the Emperor’s statement was condemned. At the same time, the Pope wrote a letter to Patriarch Paul, begging him to uphold the purity of the Orthodox faith and to counsel the Emperor to reject the theories of the heretics. This letter infuriated both the Patriarch and the Emperor. The Emperor sent one of his generals, Olympius, to take the Pope to Constantinople in bonds. The general did not dare to bind the Pope with his own hands, but instructed one of his soldiers to kill him with the sword in church. But, when the soldier entered the church with his sword concealed, he was instantly blinded. So, by the providence of God, Martin escaped death. At that time, the Saracens fell upon Sicily, and Olympius went off there, where he died. Then, by the intrigues of the heretic Patriarch Paul, the Emperor sent a second general, Theodore, to bind and take the Pope on the charge that he, the Pope, was in collusion with the Saracens and that he did not reverence the most holy Mother of God. [!!] When the general arrived in Rome and read the accusation against the Pope, he replied that it was a libel; that he had no contact of any sort with the Saracens, the opponents of Christianity, ‘and whoever does not confess the most holy Mother of God and do her reverence, let him be damned in this age and in that which is to come.’ But this did not affect the general’s decision. The Pope was bound and taken to Constantinople, where he lay long in prison in great sickness, tortured by both anxiety and hunger, until he was finally sentenced to exile in Cherson, where he lived for two years before his death. He gave his soul into the hands of the Lord, for whom he had suffered so greatly, in 655. The evil Patriarch, Paul,died two years before him and, when the Emperor visited him on his deathbed, he smote his head against the wall, confessing with tears that he had greatly sinned against Pope Martin and asking the Emperor to set Martin free.’ (Prologue)
In some menaia he is commemorated on April 14.