ܕܡܪܥܝܬܐ ܕܐܘܚܕ̈ܢܐ ܡܥܪ̈ܒܝܐ ܕܐܡܝܪܟܐ
|Mor 'Abdon & Mor Sennis (Zennes), July 30 ܩܕ̈ܝܫܐ ܘܣܗܕ̈ܐ ܥܒܕܐ ܘܙܝܢܘܣ|
Sts. 'Abdon and Sennis (3rd century, about A.D. 250)
(Variously written in early calendars and martyrologies Abdo, Abdus; Sennes, Sennis, Zennen. ܥܒܕܐ ܘܙܝܢܘܣ)
suffered during the III Century during a time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Decius (249-251). Decius, having gained a victory over the Persians and having seized territories from them, found there many a Christian and he began a persecution against them. Returning to Rome. Abdon and Sennen are said to have been Persian princes or nobles (but may have been servants) who had become Christians and were captured during Decius's persecutions--possibly already having been taken prisoner during a Roman campaign in Persia. , Decius took with him the captives Abdones and Sennis in chains. In Rome they devoted themselves to serving Christian prisoners and burying the bodies of martyrs.
And at Rome, having summoned the pagan-priests, Decius demanded the saints to offer sacrifice to the gods, promising freedom and honors. Following the glorious tradition of those Christians who preferred death to renouncing Jesus, when the Romans brought idols to be worshipped by the two saints, Abdon and Sennen. The holy martyrs answered: "We offer ourselves in sacrifice only to our God Jesus Christ, wherefore offer thy sacrifice to your own gods." Decius thereupon sentenced them to be devoured by wild beasts. The two saints were taken to the Roman Coliseum to be torn apart by wild beasts. They set loose upon them two lions, and later on four bears, which would not touch the holy martyrs but instead lay only at their feet. Then the gladiators ran through Abdones and Sennis with swords and cut their bodies in pieces, thus showed themselves more savage than untamed animals. Their bodies lay for three days a front an idol to frighten Christians. By night a brave Roman Christian Subdeacon named Quirinus (Cyrenius), gathered together the dismembered bodies of the martyrs and buried them in his own home.
When Emperor Constantine the Great became a supporter of Christianity, their relics are transferred and were buried with honor in the cemetery of Pontianus on the via Portuensis, on the road to Porto, near the gates of Rome. A fresco found on the sarcophagus supposed to contain their remains represents them receiving crowns from Christ. Their cultus was recorded in the Deposito martyrum written in 354 and in early Roman Sacramentaries (Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Farmer).
In art, Abdon and Sennen are depicted in a den of lions and bears. They are the patrons of children and invoked for a good harvest (Roeder). In a 6th- or 7th-century fresco in the Roman cemetery of Pontianus are painted two martyrs in Persian apparel, inscribed with the names Abdon and Sennen (Bentley, Farmer). Several cities, notably Florence and Soissons, claim possession of their bodies, but the Bollandists say that they rest in Rome and are preserved in the church of Saint Mark at Rome.