Thursday 27 July 1989

The Seven Sleepers


July 27 marks one of the Church's oldest yet least remembered festivals: the feast day of Saints Maximian, Malchur, Martinian, Dionysius, John, Serapion and Constantine, collectively referred to as 'The Seven Sleepers'.

The legend is that when Emperor Decius had his own statue erected in Ephesus in 250 AD it was decreed that all citizens should prostrate themselves before it on pain of death.

These seven young Christians refused and fled to Mount Coelius, where they hid in a cave and went to sleep. When the Emperor heard about this, he was so furious, he ordered the cave to be blocked up.

Then in 447 AD as a man was digging into the mountainside, he fell into the cave, waking up the seven. One of them went down into Ephesus to buy food. When he attempted to do this, using coins over 200 years old, the authorities realised that on that day a miracle had taken place.

By Peter M. Smith, in our local parish magazine, Focus.