St. Leonidas with his Seven Disciples: Sts. Vasilissa, Galini (or Galina), Theodora, Kallida (or Kali), Nike, Nounechia and Charissa the Martyrs of Corinth
These holy Martyrs struggled in Corinth during the holy days of Pascha under the reign of the Emperor Decius (249-251AD)
St. Leonidas was "exarch" in the spiritual realm, in other words, was an abbot of a group of disciples of the Lord. They were all seized in Troizinia of the Peloponnese during the days of Holy Week, and led to Corinth. Nounechia and Vasilissa (the mother of Nunechia), Galine, Theodora, Kalida, Nike and Charissa were led with him to the governor Venousto.
There, the governor tried to sway them at first with flattery, but later with threats, to forth St. Leonidas and the seven women to deny their faith in Christ. The Martyrs, however, remained unshaken. Venoustos, doubting that St. Leonidas would remain steadfast in his faith in Christ, ordered him to be hung up high and for his body to be torn apart with terrible instruments. He then gave the command to drown the Martyr in the Corinthian Gulf together with the women Saints.
And though these women Martyrs were led by the executioners and thrown into the sea, they walked upon the waters as on dry land, as St. Charissa chanted like the Prophetess Miriam, while the Egyptians were being drowned in the Red Sea: "I have run one mile, O Lord, and an army pursued me, but I did not deny You, O Lord. Save my spirit." As the boat reached them, they continued to chant odes until their executioners tied them with stones and drowned them in the depth of the sea. The Saints entered into Paradise on the great day of Holy Saturday.
Pious Christians gathered their Holy Relics and buried them, at the place were years later was built the famed Lechaion Basilica, which, at the time of its construction, was the largest known church in the world. The church was destroyed, however, and the Holy Relics of the Saints were lost until 1917, when pious inhabitants of Epidavros received visions to dig in a certain place, and that they would find a sacred treasure. At the place where they dug, they found a sarcophagus, which which were placed the Holy Relics of the Seven Women Martyrs, and another sarcophagus with the Holy Relic of the Martyr Leonidas. Immediately, the faithful people began to build a church in honor of the Saint, in which they placed the Holy Relics. To this day, the Holy Relics of St. Leonidas and his seven women disciples are treasured in the Holy Church of the Annunciation in Epidavros, and are festally taken to the Church of the Holy Martyr Leonidas (in the same town) on Bright Wednesday annually for their feast day.
The full life of the Saints are part of the life of their spiritual brother and teacher, St. Kodratos, written by Nikephoros Gregoras. It can be found in Patrologia curses completus, series graces.
Selected hymns translated from the Service to St. Leonidas the Martyr and his seven female disciples. (Note that the hymns are not metered)
Prosomoia of the Stichera from Great Vespers in Tone Four. As the brave one among martyrs.
Let us all honor the brave and divine Martyrs of Christ, the all-perfect Leonidas, and together with him, those virgin and martyred young women, who faithfully and steadfastly confessed Christ together with him, and they all received the crowns of victory, as manly champions of our spotless and holy faith.
You followed after Christ, O all-glorious Leonidas, and you became a dwelling place for Virgins, and you struggled together with them, wholly casting down the passions of the body, and you struggled with manliness, approaching the Lord wearing a crown, being martyred in a godly manner, as most-brave Martyrs.
You loved Christ, and you followed after His teachings, gathering your beauty together, O Venerable Ones, in the Spirit, and you were led by the famed Leonidas, and with manliness kept the good confession of Christ, and you all struggled together, while you ever now rejoice in Heaven.
Doxastikon of the Stichera in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone.
You hearkened to the words of Christ the Teacher, and with manliness you took up His Cross of martyrdom. And having lived a holy life, through your blood, and in the depths of the sea, you were put to death with radiance, O all-perfect Martyrs: Leonidas the glorious, Chariessa and Nike, Nounechia, Vasilissa, Galini, Theodora and Kallis, the beautifully victorious Virgins of the Lord, with spotless and sacred lives. Entreat Him on behalf of us, that we be delivered from the traps of the enemy, we who praise you in faith, and with fervor celebrate your all-sacred memory.
Idiomelon of the Litia in the First Tone.
Come, O faithful, let us gather together in the house of the Lord, and let us hymn with hymns of praise the glorious athlete of Christ, Leonidas the Martyr, and those precious women who were crowned together with him, having been martyred through a terrible martyrdom. These with boldness and bravery in mind imitated the confessors, and became martyrs in their disposition, that we might find grace in the Heavens on the day of judgment.
Doxastikon of the Aposticha in the Plagal of the First Tone.
Let us trumpet forth with the trumpet of song, and let us hymn with rejoicing the true athletes of Christ the the martyrs of the true faith, for they smashed down the wiles and threats of the enemy upon the firm rock of their hearts, and struggled with manliness in mind, and though cast into the depths of the sea, they harmoniously chanted to the Lord: "I have run one mile with you, O Lord, and I have not denied You, though an army persued me; save my spirit." O beautifully victorious Martyrs, and the sacred choir of Leonidas: intercede with the Lord, as you have great boldness before Him, on behalf of those who with faith and fervor hymn your all-honored memory.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone. The world has found you.
You have become a great defender of Epidavros, O Leonidas, and you were not shaken by the wiles of belial, as you cast down the honor to the demons, and you confessed Christ with boldness, together with the wise Women, O All-blessed Ones, ceaselessly entreat that we be granted the great mercy.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone. O You Who were lifted up upon the Cross.
Let us now honor the protectors of Epidavros, and let us praise the famed Martyrs, Leonidas the glorious soldier of Christ, and the seven Women Champions who celebrate together with him, who now stand at the Throne of glory, fervently entreating. Christ on behalf of those who with faith celebrate their memory.
You counted all the things of the earth as refuse, and now dwell before the Heavenly Throne in glory, as worthy Martyrs of the Lord, for you, O Leonidas, were hung upon the wood, and you life was then ended by being cast into the sea together with your fellow athletes. Having reached Him, O true soldiers of the Lord, you were received and made worthy of the good things of Heaven, and you now ever entreat Christ on behalf of those who with faith celebrate their memory.
On this day (April 16th, or Bright Wednesday), the memory of the Holy Martyrs Leonidas, Chariessa, Nike, Galini, Kallidos, Nounechias, Vasilissa and Theodora.
The bosom of the sea receives Leonidas, who has reached the bosom of Abraham.
"The sea," says Chariessa, "does not frighten me, but the sea becomes a foretaste of graces for me."
To Galini and Nike
Galini and Nike are cast into the deep, bringing up victory and peace from the storm.
The depth of the sea receives Kalida, who was aflame with eros for the beauty of the Lord, loved by her soul.
Having found a reward of salvation from the deep, you were shown to be mindful, O Nounechia.
To Vasilissa and Theodora
The womb of the sea receives two daughters, who fled the womb of the enemy.
Exaposteilarion in the Third Tone. O Apostles from afar.
In hymns let us praise the Martyr Leonidas and his seven-membered band, who fled to Christ, having cast down belial.
Prosomoia of the Praises in the First Tone. O all-praised Martyrs.
O beautifully victorious Martyrs of God, who honored the Lord Who is the Creator of all creation, you were in no way swayed by the threats of the enemy, and you lawlessly were put to death. And now you intercede that our souls might be grated peace and the great mercy.
Having reached your blessed end through martyrdom in the depth of the sea, O glorious Martyrs, you truly dried up the rivers of vanity and the streams of evil through your steadfastness. Therefore, entreat that our souls be granted peace and the great mercy.
Come, O faithful, let us all bless Leonidas, Nike and Chariessa, and Nounechia, Vasilissa, Galini, Kalida, and Theodora, who have come to dwell in the Kingdom, and let us cry out to them: through your prayers to Christ, may He grant peace to His world.
Doxastikon of the Praises in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone.
Come, O band of people who love the Martyrs, to glorious Epidavros that has gathered as is truly right to honor the glorious Martyrs, and with reverence, let us embrace the treasury of their Relics, and praise them as worthy athletes of the Lord: O spiritual priest, glorious Leonidas, together with the Seven Women, the foundations of the Church, entreat God on behalf of us, that He have compassion upon us, and save the souls of those who praise your sacred struggle.
Rejoice, O all-radiant lights, divine Leonidas, and the seven-numbered Choir of Women Martyrs, the pride and protectors of glorious Epidavros, and our defenders in the faith.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!