A curious Martyrology entry

I missed posting this yesterday.

There was a very interesting entry in the Martyrologium Romanum for 27 July.

1.  Commemoratio sanctorum septem Dormientium Ephesi, qui, ut narratur, martyrio consummato, in pace quiescunt, diem resurrectionis expectantes.


I’ll let you dig into this.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Fr. Pius, OP says:

    How could you not know of the Seven Holy Sleepers of Ephesus? [You have made an assumption. – Fr. Z] The real ‘Rip van Winkles’. I found an icon of them once.

  2. The legend of the Seven Sleepers is found here: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05496a.htm

    Is this the current or old Martyrology?

  3. Fr. Augustine: 2004MartRom

  4. Deusdonat says:

    Why are these men commemorated in “martyrio consummato” when they weren’t actually martyred?

    Also, it’s amazing, but did you know this story is also plagierised in the Qur’an of all places??? It is actually a pathetic attempt to reconcile the various stories which were told from the Greek and Syriac versions. Meaning, Mohammed the paedophile didn’t know which story was the correct version (i.e. if there were seven, four or 10 martyrs nor the exact number of years they were in the cave). So, like the story of the crucifixion, Mohammed not so cleverly leaves it up to God, saying essentially, “it’s not worth arguing about, since God knows the actual facts here.” Which is odd, since were he REALLY a prophet, surely God would have given him this little tidbit of info so he could settle the matter for us non-prophets.

    Anyway, Mo-mo has the AUDACITY to add to this story, saying regardless of the number of years or actual martyrs, they all came out saying that God put them there to proclaim that God has no son and that was the reason they were preserved in the caves. So, this is of course a complete bastardisation of the story.

  5. Kimberly says:

    I love the Golden Legend (Legenda Aurea) version of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus…truly poetic! It is also interesting to note that Germany celebrates June 27th as Seven Sleepers Day (Siebenschläfertag). Legend has it, that if it rains on that day, it will be a rainy summer.

  6. Interesting, and thanks. I am not surprised they are in the new marytrology. I also note that it says nothing about them waking up a century or so later, as in the ancient legend, but rather says merely “martyrio consummato, in pace quiescunt, diem resurrectionis expectantes.”

    Thanks for pointing out their inclusion in the current edition.

  7. Deusdonat says:

    Kimberly – I LOVE the Golden Legend! It’s GREAT isn’t it??? And the story abotu Mohammedanism and Mohammed founding his religion is right on the money. The sad fact is that even though these facts were known as far back as St John Damascene in the 8th century (and popularised by the Golden Legend centuries later) no one in public circles would dare to repeat them for frear of sounding politically incorrect or “anti-Muslim”. But facts are facts.

  8. Deusdonat says:

    Fr Augustine – that’s what is confusing me. If they didn’t reawaken and are in fact martyrs, then how did they die, since the above merely refers to them as sleeping? Canary syndrome?

  9. Joe says:

    I presume the Martyrology says nothing about them waking up a century or more later, as in the later legends, because a) the mMrtyrololgy is not a hagiography and b) the later legends are a bit oonfused about just how long the Youths slept. One document says it was 180 years, but the Emperors named don’t match the dates. The Bollandists have been helping prepare the entries for the Martyrology and they would help Rome decide what information is essential for the Martyrology, which is, as I said, not the same as a hagiography or legendum. The Bollandists are good at avoiding unnecessary historical statements that might be difficult to sustain.

    They are considered martyrs because while they were hiding in the cave, the local governor, in a fit of anti-Christian zeal, had rocks piled up against the mouth of the cave so that they would suffocate. Instead they were given a 180-years-long sleep. After they awoke (feeling remarkably hungry according to one version) they preached the physical Resurrection of Christ, proving its apostolic origins, and then resposed in the Lord, or died. So the martyrdom prepared by the original Emperor was completed, and the Youth received their crowns.

    If anyone is interested in comparing versions, they should find a copy of the Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca which lists the different variations of lives of the Saints, with references of publication where available.

  10. Joe says:

    ps they are patrons of insomniacs.

  11. Deusdonat says:

    Joe – great explanation. Thanks!

  12. Joe says:

    you’re welcome. I’ve been an insomniac at some points of my life! By the way, the major version of the 7 Sleepers has them waking during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius II, who died in 450. Archeologists have found indications of a shrine to the Youths, in the area of Ephesus, dating from 455, so well within the life span of eye witnesses.

  13. Joe says:

    one last ps. My information comes from Greek lives, not Latin lives, so there might be discrepancies with the Golden Legend. The Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina would have the Latin lives.

  14. Joshua says:

    Their legacy, of course, is alive and well in the Church: consider many bishops and their actions (or lack thereof). And of course there are the Dormitionist Fathers

  15. Rellis says:

    Any speculation on connections between this and the Assumption of the BVM at Ephesus? The east does, after all, refer to the Assumption as the “Dormition.”

    Maybe the place was speculated on after the development of the doctrine, and the parallel to the Seven Sleepers seemed right.

  16. Kradcliffe says:

    Deusdonat, is your language regarding Mohammed really necessary? I mean, calling him “the pedophile” and “Mo-mo?” This blog is widely read and may be read by someone who is not yet a Catholic. I don’t see how saying things like that does anybody any good at all.

  17. Hermann says:

    O.k., lest we offend: Let’s change “pedophile” to “he really, REALLY loved little girls”. Nothing wrong with that, is there? And he was not a fanatic; he just liked people to be of his opinion, because he was a friend of people and did not like to have to cut their throats for being in the wrong …

  18. Joe says:

    Joshua, the link to the Dormitionist Fathers was amusing, I suppose, in an Onion sort of way, but now I don’t know if I can trust Psallite Sapienter. Readers of this blog might be more interested in the Acoemeti or Sleepless Monks, the monasteries of which had perpetual liturgy.
    Rellis, interesting question. It is unclear in the version of the Youths’ life that I am most familiar with whether they died the first time or were suspended or what exactly happened.

  19. Deusdonat says:

    Kradcliff – Mohammed WAS a paedophile. This is a fact. He had sex with a 9-year-old girl who was still playing with dolls when he “took” her. Granted, calling him Mo-mo is not something I would do in mixed company, but I figured this particular thread was most-likely frequented only by my hard-core coreligionists. I doubt the subject matter of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus really inspires any heated debate among Catholics, or even non-conciliar Christians; let alone non-Christians.

    So, as Hermann states, Mohammed the paedophile is perfectly acceptible (so would Mohammed the murderer, Mohammed the false prophet, Mohammed the slave-owner etc). But if you wish, for the sake of raising the bar on the tone of this thread, I will refrain from using the more familiar and colloquial “Mo-Mo” lest it offend the more sensitive in nature who frequent this particular thread.

  20. Joe says:

    Dear Deusdonat; might I suggest that the subject matter of the Seven Youths would inspire debate, with at least those non-Christians who like the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny Christ’s corporeal Resurrection (not to mention the Muslims who deny His death). It is no doubt safe to grant, however, that they do not frequent this thread.

    There is a way to talk about things that might sound worldly, and a way that indicates the mind and Spirit of Christ.

  21. Fr. Pius, OP says:

    And to see the cave of the Holy Sleepers, you can visit Turkey’s Pauline Year website:


    Click on: Eshab-? Kehf (Cave Of The Seven Sleepers)

  22. Mike says:

    The Orthodox Church commerates the “Seven Sleepers of Ephesus” on Aug. 4. The Russian tradition also commerates October 22 as the day that the youths fell asleep for the second time. The Seven Sleepers are also mentioned in the service for the Church New Year, September 1. Here is a link for further study: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=102195

  23. Deusdonat says:

    Fr Pius,

    Thank you so much for the link. It is so sad that so many of our holy shrines and historical places of interested are located in Mohammedan lands. We should all pray for the conversions of Mohammedans and the death of Mohammedanism.

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