Saturday, March 10, 2007

Forty Martyrs Meatballs.

March 9 was the feast of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste.

These holy martyrs suffered at Sebaste, in the Lesser Armenia, under the Emperor Licinius, in 320. They were of different countries, but enrolled in the same troop. This was the twelfth legion, and then quartered in Armenia. Lysias was duke or general of the forces, and Agricola the governor of the province.

The governor, highly offended at their Christianity, and refusal to sacrifice to his gods, devised an extraordinary kind of death, slow and severe, and he hoped this would shake their constancy.

The cold in Armenia is very sharp, especially in March, and towards the end of winter, when the wind is north, it is also a time of severe frost. Under the walls of the town stood a pond, which was frozen hard . The judge ordered the saints to be exposed quite naked on the ice for the night; and in order to tempt them to renounce their faith, a warm bath was prepared at a small distance from the frozen pond, for any of this company who were willing to renounce their faith.

It is customary in Armenia to make forty balls of wheat or bulgar in a dish on this day, to remember these saints and their faith. We have usually made meatballs instead. :-)

And so we did today ( one day late, but the thought is there!).

In Greece, however, it has apparently been the custom to make dishes with the theme of forty - for example, a pastry dish, with forty layers of phyllo pastry. A nice twist.

We had a visitor for dinner and he shared in our "Forty Martyrs Meatballs" supper.


Rebecca said...

Leonie, I love this idea and had never heard that saint story before. I'm tucking it away for next year this time.

Leonie said...

Very easy to make - even I could do it! lol!