December 17, 2020 - Kiahk 8, 1737
Martyrdom of the Saints: Esi and His Sister Thecla
On this day also was the martyrdom of St. Esi and his sister Thecla. They were from the city of Abu-Sair, west of El-Ashmunein. St. Esi was a very rich man. He gave the money which he earned from the shearing of his sheep to the needy. When Esi knew that his friend Paul, whom he visited often for trading, was seriously ill in the city of Alexandria, he went to visit him and remained with him until he recovered from his illness. They both agreed to visit the saints who were in prison because of the persecution. Some of the saints in prison prophesied that they would receive the crown of martyrdom. That was during the time when St. Victor, the son of Romanus (Ebn-Romanus) came to Alexandria. When Esi and Paul knew of his good strife and of his renouncing of the world, they wished to follow his example. Esi went to the Governor and confessed the Lord Christ. The Governor ordered him to be tortured with the most severe kinds of torture such as making him take off his clothes, binding and squeezing him, then placing burning torches on his sides. They also ordered him to be cast on the ground and beaten with whips, and to dismember parts of his body. Through it all he was patient, and the Angel of the Lord strengthened him and healed his wounds. Paul, his friend, was crying and praying along with his servants for Esi's sake. The Angel of the Lord appeared to his sister Thecla and ordered her to go to her brother. She went to the seashore and embarked on one of the ships. Therein, the Virgin, the Mother of God, and Elizabeth, her kinswoman, appeared to her and comforted her because of her brother. Elizabeth told her, I have a son; they beheaded him unjustly, and St. Mary told her, I have a Son whom they crucified with envy. Thecla did not recognize them at that time. When she met her brother, they agreed together and went to the Governor confessing the Lord Christ. He tortured them severely on the squeezing wheel (Hinbazeen), burned them with fire, nailed them, and flayed the skin of their heads. But the Lord healed, strengthened, and comforted them. When the Governor became weary of torturing them, he handed them to his son, the Governor of the city of Antione (Ansena) in Upper Egypt. When they had sailed for a short while, the wind died down so the boat stopped. The Governor ordered the heads of Esi and Thecla, his sister, to be cut off and cast into the weeds and the wild plants on the banks. They did so and thus they received the crown of martyrdom. The Lord commanded a priest called Abba Ori (Ari) from Shatanouf to go and take their holy bodies. As for Paul, Esi's friend, and Ablanius, the son of Thecla, they were martyred later on. May Their intercession be with us. Amen.