When in 840 the Phrygian city of Amorion (Hergan Kaleh, Turkey) fell to invading Moslem Saracens, forty-two Byzantine Christian
soldiers were taken captive and brought back to Syria. The men were shackled with chains and kept in dungeon cells, where they became ill from the harsh conditions. Doctors were sent to treat the prisoners in order to persuade them to apostatize, but all the men persevered in professing the Christian
faith. They were thereupon kept in prison for seven years. On March 5, 848, the officers learned that they were to be executed the next day. In preparation, they spent the whole night in prayer. Before their execution, the Saracen caliph made one final effort to persuade an officer named Theodorus to apostatize. The latter confessed that in the past he had faltered in his profession of the Christian
faith, but that now God
was giving him an opportunity to atone for his past infidelity: "He is presenting to me this favorable occasion of dying for him. I hope
that he will
receive my sacrifice
of expiation and wash me in my blood." Theodorus and his forty-one companions were beheaded.