Seven Sleepers of Ephesus (ĕfˈĭsəs) [key], in a Christian version of a widespread story, martyrs immured in a cave near Ephesus during the persecutions by Decius (c.250). Long afterward, in the 5th cent., they awoke (as from sleep) and were taken before Theodosius II, Roman emperor of the east. Their story reassured the emperor, who had been wavering in his faith. The youths returned to their cave, to sleep again until Judgment. The story, thought to be of Syrian origin, was popularized by Gregory of Tours. Feast: July 27.
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