SAINTS TER AND ERAI
Or Abadir or Apater and Herai or Ira’i, brother and sister of Antioch who were martyred in Egypt under DIOCLETIAN (feast day: 28 Tut). The text of their Passion is extant, both in a Sahidic redaction (fragments from two codices: National Library, Vienna, Wiener Papyrussammlung, K2563 a-l, ed. Orlandi, 1974, and National Library, Paris, Copte 129.16.104) and in a Bohairic redaction (Vatican Library, Rome, Copti 63, fols. 1-65, ed. Hyvernat, 1886-1887). The Copto-Arabic SYNAXARION gives a summary of their lives. The two Coptic versions are different in form but, as far as can be judged from the fragmentary state of the Sahidic text, they agree on content.
This text belongs to the hagiographical cycle of BASILIDES the General (see LITERATURE, COPTIC, and HAGIOGRAPHY) and at the very beginning it mentions many of the same characters. Ter and Erai are children of Basilides (other texts give a different genealogy) and have another sister, Calonia. Mention is made of Diocletian’s apostasy, the first Antiochene martyr, the bishop Theopemptos, and Sokrator, a comrade of Ter, who also desires martyrdom. Ter’s mother tries to stop him from going and confessing his faith, but (after a few visions) his sister Erai persuades him to flee Egypt. At this point there begins an independent episode narrating the young Constantine’s marriage with Calonia.
Meanwhile, Ter and Erai leave Alexandria, their first port of call, to seek the relics of the martyr Erai, the namesake of Ter’s sister. They find them at Tamma, and then move on to Shmun, the village of Tshinla, on instructions from heaven. From here they continue to ANTINOOPOLIS, where they confess their faith before the tribunal of the prefect. There now follow the customary episodes of tortures, altercations, miracles, and visions. Mention is also made of the famous martyr Paphnutius and of Colluthus, who do not usually figure in the cycle of Basilides. Finally, ARIANUS has the two martyrs beheaded. At this point JUSTUS, the brother of Basilides, also makes an appearance.
- Baumeister, T. Martyr Invictus. Der Märtyrer als Sinnbild der Erlösung in der Legende und im Kult der frühen koptischen Kirche. Münster, 1972.
- Hyvernat, H. Les Actes des martyrs de lEgypte tirés des manuscrits coptes de la Bibliothèque Vaticane et du Musée Borgia. Paris, 1886-1887.
- Orlandi, T. Papiri copti di contenuto teologico. Mitteilungen aus der Papyrussammlung der österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, n. s., 9. Vienna, 1974.