A Garner of Saints – Seven Sleepers

Seven Sleepers of EphesusArticle

Born at Ephesus, and their names were Maximian, Martinian, Dionysius, Joannes, Serapion, Constantine and Malchus. When the Emperor Decius persecuted the Christians, these brethren took refuge in a cave, Malchus going daily to the city disguised as a physician to bring them food. But hearing that Decius was enquiring after them they feared greatly, and exhorting each other to be constant they fell asleep. Decius having learned of their retreat, caused the mouth of the cave to be sealed up, in order that they might perish of hunger. After 196 years had passed, in the days of Theodosius the younger, the emperor prayed God to interfere to prevent the spread of the heresy denying the resurrection of the dead. And God put it into the heart of a burgess to choose the cave to build a stable for his shepherds. As the stones were being removed the sleepers awoke, thinking they had only slept one night, and they exhorted each other to martyrdom and sent Malchus to the city to bring bread and tell them the news. And when Malchus entered the city he was astonished to see the sign of the cross on the gate and the appearance of the place much changed, and as he entered the gate he heard men speaking of Christ so that he was much perplexed. And he went to a baker, but when he offered money, all marvelled at the strange coin. He, thinking that they were about to denounce him, begged to be allowed to go, but they asked him where he had found this treasure of the old emperor, and when he denied that he had discovered any, they put a rope round his neck and dragged him into the city, where a throng quickly came together. Being brought before the bishop and the proconsul, Malchus was strictly interrogated, and when he gave the names of his parents, no one knew of such persons and thought that he wished to deceive them. They therefore commanded that he should be put to the torture in order that the truth might be ascertained. Then Malchus besought them to tell him where the Emperor Decius was, and when they said that there had been no such emperor for many generations, he stood as one stupefied. At length he related how he and his brethren had hidden in a cave for fear of the persecution of Decius, and how the emperor had entered Ephesus on the preceding night. At this the bishop perceived that this was a revelation from God, and he and the proconsul and all the people of Ephesus followed Malchus to the cave, where they found the sleepers, their faces shining and their bodies and clothing as fresh as if they had only slept a night. When the Emperor Theodosius -heard of this, he came to the caves and embraced the youths, weeping for joy. And they told him that God had raised them up to bear witness to the resurrection of the dead. After they had thus spoken, they fell asleep, and the emperor wept over them and ordered golden coffins to be made for them. But the following night they appeared to him, bidding him to leave them as they had been found, to slumber on until the day of judgment. And they sleep there to this day.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Seven Sleepers”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 26 April 2017. Web. 21 January 2019. <>