20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia

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Miniature from the Menologion of Basil II honoring the Martyrs of Nicomedia

The 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia refers to victims of persecution of Christians in Nicomedia, Bithynia (modern Izmit, Turkey) by the Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian in the early 4th century AD.

According to various martyrologies and menologion, the persecution included the burning of a church that held numerous Christians on Christmas Day.

This event took place when the emperor Maximian (284-305) returned with victory over Ethiopians in 304 AD. It happened after they had refused to sacrifice to idols during Christmas Mass in order to thank gods for the victory he had got.[1] Later Maximian and his soldiers entered the church and told the Christians they could escape punishment if they renounced Christ. The Christian priest Glycerius answered that the Christians would never "renounce their faith, even under the threat of torture". Maximian ordered him to be burned to death. Those who had not not been burned in the church were captured and tortured to death. The bishop Anthimos who had succeeded to escape burning in the church was captured and beheaded. The Roman Martyrology reports four groups of martyrs from that time.

The number 20,000 may be apocryphal.[2] However, the martyrs of Nicomedia continue to be honored with feast days:[2] they are commemorated on 28 December in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and by the Byzantine Catholic and Latin Rite Catholic Churches.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia Retrieved on 3 Feb 2018
  2. ^ a b Michael J. Walsh (30 July 2007). A New Dictionary of Saints: East and West. Liturgical Press. p. 401. ISBN 978-0-8146-3186-7. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  3. ^ "The 20,000 Holy Martyrs of Nicomedia". St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church. Retrieved 23 August 2012.

Orthodox Church in America, 28 December

External links[edit]

  • Encyclopedia of Saints, Second Edition (2014). Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor; 2nd ed. edition (July 2, 2014), ISBN 1612787169