On this day is the commemoration of the departure of the three young men the Saints: Hananiah (Ananias), Azariah (Azarias) and Mishael (Misael). These Saints were the sons of Jehoiakim king of Judah. They were exiled by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon. When Nebuchadnezzar chose some of the exiled young men to be in his service. These young men and Daniel, their cousin, among those who were chosen. Ashpenaz the master of the eunuchs gave them other names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah : Shadrach; to Mishael : Meshach; and to Azariah : Abed-Nego.
These young men purposed in their heart that they would not defile themselves with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore they requested of the chief of the eunuchs that they might not defile themselves. The chief of the eunuchs said to them, "I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king." They said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over them: "Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our countenances be examined before you, and the countenances of the young men who eat the portion of the king's delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants." So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days. And at the end of ten days their countenance appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king's delicacies. As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. When the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm, and he appointed them governors on all the provinces of Babylon. (Daniel 1:8-20)
When the king made an image of gold, and the three Hebrew young men did not worship it, those envious of them, accused them before the king that they did not worship the image. The king brought them and asked them about that and they confessed that they only worship the true God. He commanded them to be casted in a burning fiery furnace. The Lord sent His angel, who protected them and made the fire as a cool dew although it burnt the men that threw them in the fiery furnace. When the king saw that, he believed in their God and promoted them in the province of Babylon.
On the tenth day of Bashans, while they were praying, and kneeling down, they gave up the spirit at the hand of the Lord. A great earthquake occurred. The king was terrified, and inquired from Daniel about what had happened, who told him that the three Hebrew young men had died. The king came to the place and mourned them. He ordered that three beds made of ebony be made, and their bodies be wrapped in silk, and then placed on the beds. He also ordered a bed made of gold for himself, so that when he died, they would place him on it among them.
Pope Theophilos, the 23rd. Patriarch, built a church after their names and wanted to relocate their bodies to it. He delegated St. John the short and sent him to Babylon. When he arrived to the place where they were buried, he heard a voice saying: "The Lord has ordained that our bodies remain in this place, but because of your labor of love, when you return, say to the Patriarch to fill the oil lamps with oil on the night of the consecration of the church, and the power of God will be revealed." When he returned, and told the Pope, he did as he was commanded, and the oil lamps (Kandeels) lighted up. They glorified God, and completed the consecration after the names of these Saints.
May their prayers be with us and glory be to God forever. Amen.
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