|Good night, John-boy (Serapion)|
The Legend -- Seven young Christians in the reign of Decius were given a little time and freedom to rethink their unwillingness to sacrifice to Jupiter and the Gang. Why this would happen while other Christians were being tossed to lions, flayed, and beheaded is not explained. Take it as it is told. They decided not to apostatize, but rather to pray in a cave somewhere until their execution. When the prefect in charge of their case came to investigate, he found them soundly sleeping. He ordered his men to wall them up in the cave -- a fairly disturbing form of capital punishment, if you think about it.
|the Eighth Sleeper|
The Explanation (most likely) -- Slept in the Lord is a euphemism for died. It emphasized the Resurrection and Judgment Day when we will all wake up, jump up, and be judged. Some of us will suffer second death while others will live in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The way some folks figure it, seven Christians got walled up in a cave as a cruel and unusual punishment. At some point, the idea that they were sleeping in the Lord was misunderstood and a fantastic story was developed around them.
A Little Qur'an -- Sura 18, Verses nine through twenty-six recount the same story. The number of the sleepers whose faith sustained them is not given, but it was certain that the dog who joined them had guarded them for the whole time. I like the detail about the loyal guard dog -- nice touch.
|Good boy, Kalib. Sit and stay.|
Oh, and their names -- The Seven Sleepers are named Maximian, Malchus, Martinian, Dionysius, John Serapion, and Constantine. No word on the name of the dog, so let's just call him Kalib.