Their lives represent the diversity of the paths to finding God and of ways of serving Him. Saint Philemon and his wife Appia came from noble families and owned slaves. They were disciples of Saint Paul, who addressed them in their epistle as fellow labourers. They converted their house into a church where the faithful gathered and, in the words of Paul, were kind, charitable and helpful, going out of their way to aid the needy and sick. Onesimus, a slave to Philemon, stole from his master a golden vessel and escaped to Rome, fearing punishment. There, he met Apostle Paul, heard his gospel and converted to Christ. He remained with Apostle Paul, serving him like a son. Apostle Paul wrote a letter to Philemon asking him to forgive his repentant slave and embrace him like a brother. Archippus was a companion of Saint Paul, whom he called "our fellow soldier".
All four martyred themselves for Christ during the persecution of Christians. Saint Onesimus was stoned and beheaded near Rome. During a Pagan festival, a pagan crowd stormed into the Christian Church during a worship service. The worshipers dispersed, except Philemon, Archippus and Apphia. The crowd stabbed Archippus inside the church and dragged Philemon and Apphia to the Prefect. On orders from the prefect, they stoned them to death.