Ante-nicene fathers



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His disciples, all fishermen, all poor, all weak,

All men of little note, became illustrious through His faith.

One fisherman, whose “village” too was a home of fishermen,7

He made chief over the twelve, yea head of the house.8

One a tentmaker, who aforetime was a persecutor,

He seized upon, and made him a chosen vessel for the faith.


Shamuna and Guria came from villages that were not wealthy,

And lo! in a great city became they lords;

And its chief men, its judges also, stand before their doors,

And they solicit their charity to satisfy their wants.

From their confession of the faith of the Son of God

These blessed men acquired. riches beyond compute.

Poor did He Himself become, and the poor made He rich;

And lo! enriched is the whole creation through His poverty.


The chosen martyrs did battle against error,

And in the confession of the Son of God stood they firm like valiant men.

They went in and confessed Him before the judge with look undaunted,9

That He too might confess them, even as they confessed Him, before His Father.

There arose against them the war of pagans like a tempest;

But the cross was their helmsman, and steered them on.

They were required to sacrifice to lifeless images,

But they departed not from their confession of the Son of God.

The wind of idolatry blew in their faces,

But they themselves were as rocks piled up against the hurricane.

Like a swift whirlwind, error snatched at them;

But, forasmuch as they were sheltered by the crucifixion, it hurt them not.

The Evil One set on all his dogs to bark, that they might bite them;

But, forasmuch as they had the cross for a staff, they put them all to flight.


But who is sufficient to tell of their contests,

Or their sufferings, or the rending asunder of their limbs?

Or who can paint the picture of their coronation,10

How they went up from the contest covered with glory?


To judgment they went in, but of the judge they took no account;

Nor were they anxious what they should say when questioned.

The judge menaced them, and multiplied his words of threatening;

And recounted tortures and all kinds of inflictions, that he might terrify them.

He spake great words,11 that by fright and intimidation,

By menaces too, he might incline them to sacrifice.

Yet the combatants despised the menaces, and the intimidations,

And the sentence of judgment, and all bodily deaths;

And they prepared themselves for insult and stripes, and for blows,

And for provocation, and to be dragged along, and to be burnt;

For imprisonment also, and for bonds, and for all evil things,

And for all tortures, and for all sufferings, rejoicing all the while.

They were not alarmed nor affrighted, nor dismayed,

Nor did the sharpness of the tortures bend them to sacrifice.

Their body they despised, and as dung upon the ground accounted they it:

For they knew that, the more it was beaten, the more would its beauty increase;

And, the more the judge increased his menaces to alarm them,

The more did they show their contempt of him, having no fear of his threats.

He kept telling them what tortures he had prepared for them;

And they continued telling him about Gehenna which was reserved for him.


By those things which he told them he tried to frighten them to sacrifice;

And they spoke to him about the fearful judgment yonder.

Truth is wiser than wise words,

And very hateful, however much it may be adorned, is falsehood.

Shamuna and Guria went on speaking truth,

While the judge continued to utter falsehood.

And therefore were they not afraid of his threatening,

Because all his menaces against the truth were accounted by them as empty sound.12


The intercourse of the world they despised, they contemned and scorned, yea they abandoned;

And to return to it they had no wish, or to enter it again.

From the place of judgment they set their faces to depart

To that meeting-place for them all, the life of the new world.

They cared neither for possessions nor for houses,

Nor for the advantages of this world, so full of evil.

In the world of light was their heart bound captive with God,

And to “that” country did they set their face to depart;


And they looked to the sword, to come and be a bridge

To let them pass over to God, for whom they were longing.

This world they accounted as a little tent,

But that yonder as a city full of beauties;

And they were in haste by the sword to depart hence

To the land of light, which is full of blessing for those who are worthy of it.


The judge commanded to hang them up by their arms,

And without mercy did they stretch them out in bitter agony.

A demon’s fury breathed rage into the heart of the judge,

And embittered him against the stedfast ones, inciting him to crush them;

And between the height and the depth he stretched them out to afflict them:

And they were a marvel to both sides, when they saw how much they endured.

At the old men’s frame heaven and earth marvelled,



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