The Holy Martyrs Eustratius, Auxentius, Eugene, Mardarius, and Orestes suffered for Christ under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) at Sebaste, in Armenia.
Among the first Christians imprisoned and undergoing torture at that time was Auxentius, a presbyter of the Arabian Church. One of those who witnessed the steadfastness of the Christians was the noble military commander Eustratius, the city prefect of Satalios, and archivist of the province. He was secretly a Christian, and when he openly confessed his faith, he was subjected to torture. They beat him, and put iron sandals studded with sharp nails on his feet, then forced him to march to the city of Arabrak.
Witnessing the arrival of Eustratius in Arabrak, one of the common people, Mardarius, confessed that he was also a Christian like Eustratius. He was arrested and cast into prison. Holes were drilled in his ankles, and ropes were passed through them. He was suspended upside down, then heated nails were hammered into his body. He died a short time later. To him is attributed the prayer “O Master Lord God, Father Almighty...” (which is read at the end of the Third Hour service).
As for Eugene, they ripped out his tongue, cut off his hands and feet, and then beheaded him with a sword. Auxentius was also arrested and beheaded. The young soldier Orestes confessed himself a Christian and stood trial for this “crime.” He was sentenced to be stretched out upon a red-hot iron bed, and became frightened when he approached it. Encouraged by Eustratius, he made the Sign of the Cross and got onto the heated bed, where he surrendered his soul to God.
Eustratius was sentenced to be burned alive on December 13. As he was being led to his death, he prayed aloud, “I magnify You exceedingly, O Lord, for You have regarded my lowliness...” This prayer is still read at the Saturday Midnight Office.
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!