Ante-nicene fathers



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She the mother of the martyr, and was blithe because of him.

“Shamuna the Second” may we call this blessed one:

Since, had seven been burned instead of one, she had been well content.

One she had, and she gave him to be food for the fire;

And, even as that one, if she had had seven, she had given them all.

He was cast into the fire, and the blaze kindled around him;

And his mother looked on, and grieved not at his burning.

Another eye, which gazeth upon the things unseen,

Was in her soul, and by reason of this she exulted when he was being burned.

On the gems of light which are in martyrs’ crowns she looked,

And on the glory which is laid up for them after their sufferings;

And on the promised blessings which they inherit yonder through their afflictions,

And on the Son of God who clothes their limbs with light;

And on the manifold beauties of that kingdom which shall not be dissolved,

And on the ample door which is opened for them to enter in to God.

On these did the martyr’s mother look when he was being burned,

And she rejoiced, she exalted, and in white did she go forth with him.

She looked upon him while the fire consumed his frame,

And, forasmuch as his crown was very noble, she grieved not.
The sweet root was thrown into the fire, upon the coals;

And it turned to incense, and cleansed the air from pollution.

With the fumes of sacrifice had the air been polluted,

And by the burning of this martyr was it cleansed.

The firmament was fetid with the exhalations from24 the altars;

And there rose up the sweet perfume of the martyr, and it grew sweet thereby.

And the sacrifices ceased, and there was peace in the assemblies;

And the sword was blunted, that it should no more lay waste the friends of Christ.


With Sharbil it began, with Habib it ended, in our land;

And from that time25 even until now not one has it shin, since he was burned.

Constantine, chief of conquerors, took the empire,

And the cross has trampled on the diadem of the emperor, and is set upon his head.

Broken is the lofty horn of idolatry,

And from the burning of the martyr even until now not one has it pierced.

His smoke arose, and it became incense to the Godhead;

And by it was the air purged which was tainted by paganism,

And by his burning was the whole land cleansed:

Blessed be he that gave him a crown, and glory, and a good name!


Here endeth the Homily on Habib the martyr, composed by Mar Jacob.

A Homily on Guria and Shamuna

Composed by Mar Jacob.

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Shamuna and Guria, martyrs who made themselves illustrious in their afflictions,

Have in love required of me to tell of their illustrious deeds.

To champions of the faith the doctrine calleth me,

That I should go and behold their contests and their crowns.

Children of the right hand, who have done battle against the left,

Have called me this day to recite the marvellous tale of their conflicts:—


Simple old men, who entered into the fight like heroes,

And nobly distinguished themselves in the strife of blood:

Those who were the salt of our land, and it was sweetened thereby,

And its savour was restored, which had become insipid through unbelief:

Candlesticks of gold, which were full of the oil of the crucifixion,

By which was lighted up all our region, which had turned to darkness:

Two lamps, of which, when all the winds were blowing

Of every kind of error, the lights were not put out;


Good labourers, who from the spring of day laboured

In the blessed vineyard of the house of God right duteously:

Bulwarks of our land, who became to us as it were a defence

Against all spoilers in all the wars that surrounded us:

Havens of peace, a place also of retreat for all that were distressed,

And a resting-place for the head of every one that was in need of succour:

Two precious pearls, which were

An ornament for the bride of my lord Abgar, the Aramaean’s son.


Teachers they were who practised their teaching in blood,

And whose faith was known by their sufferings.

On their bodies they wrote the story of the Son of God

With the marks of combs and scourges which thickly covered them.

They showed their love, not by words of the mouth alone,

But by tortures and by the rending of their limbs asunder.

For the love of the Son of God they gave up their bodies:

Since it beseemeth the lover that for his love he should give up himself.

Fire and sword proved their love, how true it was;

And more beautiful than silver tried in a furnace of earth were their necks.


They looked on God, and, because they saw His exalted beauties,

Therefore did they look with contempt upon their sufferings for His sake.

The Sun of righteousness had arisen in their hearts;

And they were enlightened by it, and with His light chased they away the darkness.

At the idols of vanity, which error had brought in, they laughed,

Instinct with the faith of the Son of God which is full of light.

The love of the Lord was as a fire in their hearts;

Nor could all the brambles of idolatry stand before it.

Fixed was their love on God unchangeably:1

And therefore did they look with scorn upon the sword,2 all athirst as it was for blood.


With guilelesshess and yet with wisdom stood they in the judgment-hall,

As they had been commanded by the Teacher of that which is true.

Despising as they did kindred and family, guileless were they;

Forasmuch, also, as possessions and wealth were held in no account by them.





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