Seven Sleepers

Seven Sleepers the heroes of a celebrated legend, first related by Gregory of Tours at the close of the 6th century (De Gloria Martyrum, c. 96); but the date of which is assigned to the 3d century and to the persecution of the Christians under Decius. According to the narrative, seven Christians of Ephesus took refuge in a cave near the city, where they were discovered by their pursuers, who walled up the entrance in order to starve them to death. A miracle, however, was interposed in their behalf, they fell into a preternatural sleep, in which they lay for nearly two hundred years. The concealment is supposed to have taken place in 250 or 251, and the sleepers to have been reanimated in 447. Their sleep seemed to them to have been for only a night, and they were greatly astonished, on going into the city, to see the cross exposed upon the church tops, which but a few hours ago, as it appeared, was the object of contempt. Their wonderful story told, they were conducted in triumph into the city; but all died at the same moment.

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