Saint Galaktion and Episteme of Emesa

During the third century, the parents of Galaktion, Kletophon and Leukippe were an established Greek couple who lived in the city Emesa found in Syria. They desired a child, and for many years they would give large amounts of gold to the pagan priests and nothing came of this.

The Roman empire was under the rule Decius. In Syria at this time was governed by Romans and the official in charge was named Secundus. He was hateful toward Christians and persecuted them in merciless ways. He often performed the tortures publicly so all who were Christian would fear their life and retreat from their faithful stance. Secunsdus ordered all his men to seek out anyone who was assumed Christian, and they did not require much evidence. Regardless of these threatening tactics, Christians would still openly reveal their faith in order to be persecuted and die for the Glory of Christ.

An elderly monastic named Onuphrius wore the guise of a beggar and traveled to homes seeking out food or drink. However, his real intention was to get the chance to preach the word of God to the pagans whose souls were suffering deception.

One day he came upon the home of Kletophon and Leukippe. There he found Episteme and she gladly gave to him some money and food. He sensed she was filled with sadness and he asked her what was upsetting her.  She expressed to him her desire to have children and the misfortune she was suffering due to nothing working. At this time, Onuphrius began telling her for the One True God, Jesus Christ. He said to her that the reason she could not have a child was God’s protection. Because she was a pagan worshipping the idols, and to bring a child into this would be like to offer the child to the demons. to He expressed how Christ never rejected our prayers and if we reached to him with faith, he would answer us. From this day, she was lifted and hope began to grow within her. She was then baptized and accepted the faith. Sometime shortly after, she was gifted with a dream that revealed to her she would give birth to a son, who would them be a true followed our Our Lord.

Leukippe did not reveal this miracle to her husband initially until the time of their son’s birth. After Galaktion was born, Leukippe told Kletophon of the dream and the miracle that had occurred. After she urged him to be convert, and he too was baptized.

Both of the parents stood strongly by the Christian faith and raised him well also providing an excellent schooling. With his education and intelligence, Galaktion could have had a noble job, but instead desired the monastic way of life so he could remain in peace and under a state of prayer.

By the age of 20 his mother had passed and his father intervened before he could lead a strict ascetic life.  however, seeking that he marries. So he found a beautiful and wealthy girl named Episteme and she was a pagan. Galaktion was reserved from this idea and he hesitated, as he did not wish to fight against the will of God. As they were betrothed, Galaktion visited Episteme and secretly told her of his faith. She was willing and learned more of what Christianity truly was. With time, she agreed to convert and Galaktion baptized her.

In addition to Episteme he baptized also one of her servants, Eutolmius.

Episteme was given a beautiful dream 8 days after she was baptized where she and saw the glory given to those who remain pure and dedicate their lives unto Christ.

And even though Galaktion and Episteme were married, this dream inspired Galaktion and Episteme to remain virgins, and live their lives together serving Christ. They gave all of their possession to the poor, and rid themselves of Earthly comforts.

They all three left their comforts and traveled to Mount Punlion, near Mount Sinai, where two hidden monasteries were kept. One was for women and one for men, so they went their separate ways. Episteme went to a women’s monastery with 4 other nuns, including the Gerondissa. Galaktion went to the men’s monastery with 12 other monastics.

Galaktion very quickly progressed in his spiritual life as he dedicated many hours to prayer, including night vigils and strictly fasted.

For three years they worked very hard on keeping the grounds in order alongside their ceaseless prayer and strict fasting.

With time, the Emperor became very hateful of the monastic in the mountain, and as the pagans discovered the secret monasteries an army was sent to destroy the land and seize all who were there. Episteme had another dream where her and Gelation stood in a heavenly place and a king crowned them with golden wreaths. This represented their forthcoming martyrdom. She knew that God wanted this for her and Galaktion.

Before the soldier arrived, the monastics were prepared and fled the monasteries, hiding in the hillsides.

Galaktion was the only one who stayed behind, saying he did not fear a death for the glory of Christ. When Episteme saw from afar the guards seize Galaktion from his sell and carry him out, she pleaded with her Gerontissa to go with him. As he was her teacher and fiancé, she wanted to die for Christ’s sake alongside him. Her Gerontissa gave her a blessing and she too exposed herself to the soldiers.

They soldiers were ordered to torture these two martyrs, and they hammered bamboo under their fingernails.  After suffering several other torments, they still praised God and gave all Glory unto Him. The officials then cut off their legs, arms and tongues. Following he ended their lives with a beheading, from which they gave their souls unto the lord. Galaktion was 30 and Episteme was 16 years of age. We remember them as having a “white marriage” as they remained pure their entire lives.

The former servant Eutolmius, who had joined Galaktion in the men’s monastery, secretly returned the place they were executed and buried their bodies properly.

It is from his writings that we have an account of their lives and the glory they brought unto Christ.