On Wednesday, August 1st is the commemoration of the dukhrono of the Holy Maccabee saints Shmuni, her seven sons & their teacher Eleazar (qadishe maqaboye Mort Shmuni u s’habho bnayo w’Eli’ozor malfonhun) according to the Liturgical Calendar of the Syriac Orthodox Church.
Mort Shmuni & her 7 sons along with Mor Eliozor suffered martyrdom under emperor Antiochus IV. Their story is written in the 2nd book of Maccabees. While her name is not mentioned in the Bible, within the Syriac tradition she is known as Shmuni. Though they lived before the time of Christ, they are counted among the company of the saints for attaining the crown of martyrdom. Various Fathers of the Church preached sermons on Mort Shmuni & her 7 sons, including St. Gregory Nazianzus & St. John Chrysostom.
The pagan king wanted the faithful Shmuni & her sons to consume pig meat. However, they refused to as they did not wish to break the law given by God to Prophet Moses. Enraged, the king ordered them to be tortured & killed. One by one, each son was brutally tortured & then burnt alive within a large pot of flames. St. Shmuni seeing her sons tortured & killed still trusted God & she, “bore it with a good courage, because of the hope that she had in the Lord.” After all the sons were killed, St. Shmuni too suffered the same fate. Thus they all attained the crown of martyrdom for following the law of God. Their teacher St. Eleazar was also martyred along with them. Many miracles are attributed to the intercession of St. Shmuni & her sons.
According to the Syriac Fenqitho (book of festal offices), the name of her sons are Habroun, Hebsoun, Bakhous, Adai, Tarsai, Maqbai and Yawnothon.
There are many Syriac churches dedicated in her honour, one of the oldest being Mort Shmuni Syriac Orthodox Church in Qarqosh, Iraq which is 1500 years old. This is the home parish of St. Baselios Yeldho Maphriyano +1685 who is entombed in Kothamangalam.
Biography adapted from, ‘Martyrs, Saints and Prelates of the Syriac Orthodox Church’
Oh Mort Shmuni, her 7 sons and Mor Eliozor! Plead for us before God’s throne of grace. Amen.
Tone for the commemoration of saints: 8
Listen to a sermon about Mort Shmuni by our beloved late Catholicos of the East HB Mor Baselius Paulose II +1996 of blessed memory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVaQ5RsP0oM
Huthomo by HG Mor Osthatheos Isaac: