The Holy Martyrs Peter and Stephan of Kazan were muslim Tatars who became Christians, in 1552, during the times when Tsar Ivan IV (the Terrible) conducted a siege on Kazan. Both were martyred in Kazan when Russian forces temporarily withdrew from the city in 1555 before its final conquest. The martyred saints are remembered on March 24.
The circumstances behind the conversion and baptism of Peter are not known. Stephan, who was an elderly Tatar, met a priest from Moscow, Fr. Timothy. The elder explained that after the arrival of Ivan’s forces he had learned of the Christian God and came to believe in his greatness. He noted to Fr. Timothy that he had suffered with soreness in his legs for thirty years and promised that if the Christian God healed his legs he would be baptized. He further noted that after he came to believe in the Christian God that his legs began to recover. To fulfill his promise the elder asked Fr. Timothy to baptize him.
Fr. Timothy commented to the elder that his compatriots would try to pursued him to reject his Christian faith, to which he replied that they would not be successful. To illustrate, the elder pulled a shred from his beard and rendered it to shreds, stating that even though they will tear me apart, as how I have torn to shreds my hair - I’ll not abdicate God. The elder was then baptized with the name Stephan.
After their baptism, Peter and Stephan remained in the city when Russian forces withdrew from the city with the viceroy, Khan Shich-Ali, following them to Sviyazhsk. An armed insurrection occurred in which many Russians who resided in the city were murdered. Standing firm in his faith, Stephan was killed, his body mutilated, and his house was looted.
Peter was kept by his relatives, father and mother, brothers and sisters, distant relatives, and friends who tried to force him to renounce his Christian faith. Calling him by his muslim name, Peter reacted, answering that in Holy Baptism I took the name Peter, so this is my name, not that you called me. Firm in his faith, his family gave him over to torture. Although the torture lasting several days, Peter did not stop repeating the words - I am a Christian. After his repose, Peter was buried in Kazan.
Local veneration of Peter and Stephan as saints began shortly after Kazan was finally taken by the Russians. They are remembered on the same date although they were not acquainted with each other. Their feat of love in Christ united them for eternity.
- Saint martyrs Petr and Stefan of Kazan, +1555 (24 March/6 April) from "Saints of Orthodox Church, who were converted from Islam" by Yurij Maximov