Today's Saints (March 10): 40 Holy Martyrs
In 320 A.D. and during the reign of Emperor Licinius, forty Roman soldiers stationed at a garrison in Sebaste, Armenia, were singled out and persecuted for their Christian faith.
The governor of Sebaste tried persuasion and various means of torture to get them to apostatize, by demanding that they offer sacrifices to idols. Refusing to do so, they were stripped and forced to stand on a frozen pond all night, while warm baths and a fire were posted on the bank to tempt them.
The soldiers prayed to God that they would not give in, and so remain forty strong - symbolizing the forty days of fasting by Christ, Moses and Elijah. One of the soldiers gave in to the temptation; however, a soldier standing watch over them took his place, making them again forty in number.
They all finally died from this torture.
During our earthly trials, may these men be our example for remaining steadfast in Christ. "The righteous cry and the Lord heareth them: and delivereth them out of all their troubles." (The day's introit, page E 35, The People's Anglican Missal).
Books Worth Considering
The Treasury of Saints and Martyrs
Fox's Book of Martyrs
Their Blood Cries Out
Reason Is Beguiled: On the Mystery of Martyrdom and of Total Self Gift
By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the Twentieth Century
Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church