November 5 – Galacteon and Episteme

To learn the story of Galacteon & Episteme (d. 251) we must go back to Kletophon and Leukippe, wealthy pagans in the city that used to be called Emesa and is now called Homs, in what used to be called Syria and still is. Leukippe was barren (or perhaps Kletophon had a low, um, seed count, but do they ever blame the guy in these stories? oh, nooooo) and her husband beat her, the standard fertility treatment method of the day.

Things were tough for Christians in that town, but one monk/evangelist, Onuphrius, managed to avoid martyrdom by dressing in rags and begging from door to door. One day he came to Leukippe’s house, but she was in a bad temper (on account of a recent fertility treatment), and ordered the gate locked in his face. Not to be deterred, he knocked ║: and knocked :║ until finally she let him in and gave him some food. As he turned to go, a deep, heartfelt, and musical (Eb) sigh escaped her lips. “What ails you, that you sigh from the nadir of your cardia?” he asked pityingly. “I’m barren and my husband beats me,” she answered.

“Who’s your god?”

“Artemis.”

“Well there’s your problem. You need to worship Jesus, and his Father, and his Spirit.”

Leukippe admitted she was afraid to convert to the “Galilean sect” (she already had violence; she didn’t need sects), as it was lethal in that region to do so. Onuphrius said she could practice her faith in secret and related the gospel to her (you’ve probably heard it). She believed, was baptized, and soon conceived a child. When her husband heard, he suggested they sacrifice to the gods. She quickly explained what had happened, and he converted and was baptized, as was their eventual son, Galacteon, which is where we came in.

Galacteon received the best education available (his parents paid for it, so he graduated debt free!), and in time his father betrothed him to a beautiful maiden by the name of Episteme. Galacteon refused to kiss her, however, on account of her not being a Christian. He explained and she believed, but there was nobody to baptize her except Galacteon himself. “Take me to the river!” Episteme said. So he did. Eight days later, when Galacteon visited her (bringing, I like to imagine, a lovely bouquet), Episteme said, “What a dream I had! I saw a choir of men in black, and a choir of virgins in white, and a choir of angels in the color angels wear.” Galacteon consulted his Guide to Christian Dreams. “Aha!” he said, finding the relevant page. “The men in black forsook riches and wives and all that, the virgins in white forsook riches and husbands and all that, and the angels forsook whatever it is angels forsake.”

“I’d like to rejoice with them, but I’ve grown rather fond of you and would hate for us to be parted,” Episteme said sweetly.

Everybody: “Awwww.”

“We will be together forever in the next life,” suggested Galacteon, so they gave away their riches and moved to his-and-hers monasteries on Mount Publion, where they grew in perfection, albeit on opposite sides of the hill. Not long after Episteme had had a dream in which the two of them were crowned by Christ himself, soldiers attacked the abbeys. Everyone fled except Galacteon, who sat reading nonchalantly in his cell. The soldiers seized him, and when Episteme saw from her hiding place that he was being led away, she begged the abbess to let her go suffer with him. After a little back-and-forth (two pages of back and forth in one source), she was allowed. Galacteon rejoiced to see her courage, and vice versa. They died together, and met again in the heavenly kingdom, where they are together still.

Everybody: “Awwww.”