Great Vespers 5:00 p.m.
Orthos 8:55 a.m.
Divine Liturgy 10:00 a .m.
Introduction to Orthodoxy
Thou hast revealed the earthly majesty of the dwelling place of the holy glory, O Lord, as the brilliance of the firmament on high. Make firm its foundation unto ages of ages, and receive our fervent supplications which are offered to thee, there in, through the intercessions of the Theotokos, O life and Resurrection of all.
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The Procession (Carrying-forth) of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord: In the Greek Chasoslov (Orologion) of 1897 is explained thus the derivation of this feast: "By reason of the sicknesses, often everywhere occurring in August, from of old customarily it was done at Constantinople to carry out the Venerable Wood of the Cross along the roads and streets for the sanctifying of places and for the driving away of sicknesses. On the eve (31 July), carrying it out from the imperial treasury, they placed it upon the holy table of the Great Church (in honour of Saint Sophia -- the Wisdom of God). From this feastday up to the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, making litia throughout all the city, they then placed it forth for all the people to venerate. This also is the Issuing-forth of the Venerable Cross".
In the Russian Church this feast is combined also with a remembrance of the Baptism of Rus', on 1 August 988. In the "Account about the making of services in the holy catholic and apostolic great church of the Uspenie-Dormition", compiled in 1627 by order of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus' Philaret, there is provided suchlike an explanation of the feast: "And on the day of the procession of the Venerable Cross there occurs a church-procession for the sanctification of water and for the enlightenment of the people, throughout all the towns and places".
Knowledge of the day of the actual Baptism of Rus' was preserved in the Chronicles of the XVI Century: "The Baptism of Great-prince Vladimir of Kiev and all Rus' was on August 1".
In the practice now of the Russian Church, the service of the Lesser Sanctification of Water on 1 August is done either before or after Liturgy. Together with the Blessing of Waters, there is made a Blessing of Honey (i.e. first-honey for the Saviour: "Saviour of the Water", "Saviour Moisture" [apparently in place of the vinegar and gall offered Him on the Cross?]). And from this day the newly harvested honey is blessed and tasted.
Saint Solomonia was the mother of the seven Maccabee brothers. She encouraged her sons to remain faithful to the Law of God even when threatened with death.
This admirable mother is honored and remembered for her great courage, for she watched all seven of her sons die in a single day. May we also be faithful to God's commandments and the traditions of the Church.
The Seven Holy Maccabean Martyrs: Habim, Antonin, Guriah, Eleazar, Eusebon, Hadim (Halim) and Marcellus, their mother Solomonia and their teacher Eleazar suffered in the year 166 before the Birth of Christ under the impious Syrian emperor Antiochos Epiphanos. Adhering to an Hellenistic cult, Antiochos Epiphanos introduced pagan customs at Jerusalem and throughout all Judea. He desecrated the Temple of the Lord, putting there in a statue of the pagan god Zeus, and forcing the Jews to worship it. Many of them then fell away from the True God. But there were also those, who were deeply sorrowed by the downfall of the people of God and who continued to believe in the coming arrival of the Saviour. A ninety year old elder -- the law-teacher Eleazar, was brought to trial for his adherence to the Mosaic Law, and he steadfastly underwent tortures and died at Jerusalem. Bravery was likewise shown by the disciples of Saint Eleazar -- the Seven Maccabean Brothers and their mother Solomonia. They were brought to trial in Antioch by the emperor Antiochos Epiphanos. They fearlessly acknowledged themselves as followers of the True God, and refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. The eldest of the lads, having been first to answer the emperor in the name of all seven brothers, was given over to fierce tortures in sight of his remaining brothers and their mother. The next five brothers one after the other underwent these tortures. There remained the seventh brother, the very youngest. Antiochos suggested to Saint Solomonia to urge the lad into renunciation, so that at least this final son would remain for her. But the brave mother encouraged him also in the confession of the True God. The lad resolutely ignored the entreaty of the emperor and likewise firmly underwent the tortures, just like his older brothers. After the death of all her seven children, Saint Solomonia, standing over their bodies, raised up her hands in prayer to God and died. The Martyrs Act of the holy Seven Maccabean Brothers inspired Judas Maccabee, and he led the revolt against Antiochos Epiphanos with the help of God gaining the victory, and then purifying the Jerusalem Temple of idols. All these events are related in the Book of Second Maccabees, which is included within the Bible. Sermons of laudation to the holy Maccabean Martyrs were offered by various fathers of the Church -- Sainted Cyprian of Carthage, Sainted Ambrose of Mediolanum (Milan), Sainted Gregory Nazianzus and Sainted John Chrysostomos.
The Martyrs Leontios, Attios, Alexander, Cyndeos, Minsythias, Kyriakos, Mineon, Catunos and Eukleos lived in the Pamphlygonian city of Pergium during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). All of them were baptised in childhood. Saint Mineon was a carpenter, and the rest -- farmers. During the time of the fierce persecution against Christians, the saints with one accord sought to undertake the deed of martyrdom for Christ. They destroyed a temple of the pagan god Artemis. For this they were given over for harsh torture and then thrown in the circus for devouring by wild beasts. But, tamed down by the prayer of the martyrs, the beasts would not touch them. The onlookers grew tumultuous and began loudly to shout: "Great is the God of the Christians". A terrible thunderstorm ensued. Upon the earth simultaneously fell both hail and fire. From heaven was heard a voice, summoning the martyrs to the Heavenly Kingdom. Upon hearing this voice the martyrs came forth with great joy, and laying their necks beneathe the sword, they received the crowns of martyrdom.
Blessed Saint Vasilii (Basil), Moscow Wonderworker, was born in December 1468 on the portico of the Elokhovsk church in honour of the Vladimir Icon of the MostHoly Mother of God, outside Moscow. His parents were common folk and sent their son for training in the cobbler's (shoemaker's) craft. During the time of teaching his apprentice the master happened to be a witness to a certain remarkable occurrence, wherein he perceived, that his student was no ordinary man. A certain merchant had brought grain to Moscow on a barge and then went to order boots, specifying to make them such and so, since he would not pick them up for a year. Blessed Vasilii uttered weeping: "I would thee leave them such, since thou will not wear them out". To the perplexed questioning of the master the apprentice explained, that the man making the order would not put on the boots, but rather would soon be dead. After several days the prediction came true.
At age 16 the saint arrived in Moscow and began the thorny exploit of foolishness. In the burning Summer hear and in the crisp harsh frost he walked about bare-legged and bare-foot through the streets of Moscow. His actions were strange: here he would upset a stand with kalachi, and there he would spill a jug with kvas. Angry merchants throttled the blessed saint, but he took the beatings with joy and he thanked God for them. But then it was discovered, that the kalachi were poorly cooked, the kvas was badly prepared. The reputation of Blessed Vasilii quickly grew: in him they perceived a fool, a man of God, a denouncer of wrong.
A certain merchant was intent to build on Pokrovna in Moscow a stone church, but thrice its arches collapsed. The merchant turned for advice to the blessed saint, and he pointed him toward Kiev: "Find there John the Cripple, he will give thee the advice, how to construct the church". Having journeyed to Kiev, the Merchant sought out John, who sat a poor hut and rocked an empty cradle. "Whom dost thou rock?" -- asked the merchant. "My beloved mother I do beweep, long indigent for my birth and upbringing". Only then did the merchant remember his own mother, whom he had thrown out of the house, and it became clear to him, why he was in no wise able to build the church. Having returned to Moscow, he brought his mother home, begged her forgiveness and built the church.
Preaching mercy, the blessed saint helped first of all those, who were ashamed to ask for alms, but who all the while more were more in need of help than others. There was an instance, where he gave away a rich imperial present to a foreign merchant, who was left without anything at all and, although for three days already the man had eaten nothing, he was not able to turn for help, since he wore fine clothing.
Harshly did the blessed saint condemn those, who gave alms for selfish reasons, not from compassion for the poor and destitute, but hoping for an easy way to attract the blessings of God upon their affairs. One time the blessed saint saw a devil, which took on the guise of a beggar. He sat at the gates of the All-Pure Virgin's church, and to everyone who gave alms, he rendered speedy help in their affairs. The blessed saint exposed the wicked trick and drove away the devil. For the salvation of one's neighbours Blessed Vasilii visited also the taverns, where he endeavoured, even in people very much gone to ruin, to see a grain of goodness, and to strengthen and encourage them by kindness. Many observed, that when the saint passed by an house in which they madly made merry and drank, he with tears clasped the corners of that house. They enquired of the fool what this meant, and he answered: "Angels stand in sorrow at the house and are distressed about the sins of the people, but I with tears entreat them to pray to the Lord for the conversion of sinners".
Purified by great deeds and by the prayer of his soul, the blessed saint was vouchsafed also the gift of foreseeing the future. In 1547 he predicted the great conflagration of Moscow; by prayer he extinguished a conflagration at Novgorod; one time he reproached tsar Ivan the Terrible, that during the time of Divine-services he was preoccupied with thoughts about the construction of a palace on the Vorob'ev hills.
Blessed Vasilii died on 2 August 1557. Saint Metropolitan of Moscow Makarii with an assemblage of clergy made the funeral of the saint. His body was buried at the Trinity church, in the trench where in 1554 was being annexed the Pokrov cathedral in memory of the conquest of Kazan. The glorification of Blessed Vasilii was by a Sobor-Council on 2 August 1588, which His Holiness Patriarch Job proclaimed.
In a description of the appearance of the saint characteristic details were preserved: "All bare, in the hand a staff". The veneration of Blessed Vasilii was always so strong, that the Trinity temple and the attached Pokrov church are to the present named the temple of Blessed Vasilii [i.e. the famous Saint Basil's in Moscow].
The chains of the saint are preserved at the Moscow Spiritual Academy.
Blessed Vasilii of Kamensk lived during the XV Century, was a monk at the Saviour-Kamen monastery, situated on an island of Lake Kuben (not far from Vologda). At the shrine of his relics, -- built afterwards in a church in honour of Saint Vasilii (Basil) of Moscow, is an icon in full stature of Saint Vasilii of Kamensk, with heavy iron chains and a cap of iron strips.
The PriestMartyr Stephen, Pope of Rome, suffered in the year 257 during the reign of the emperor Valerian. Saint Stephen, occupying the throne (253-257) of the Sainted First-Bishop of Rome, zealously contended against the heresy of Novatus, which taught that it is not proper to receive back those returning from heresy. In hiding during a time of persecution against Christians, the saint baptised many pagans, in which number was the military tribune Nemesius -- converted to Christ after the saint healed his daughter Lucilla. Nemesius, ordained to the dignity of deacon, and also his daughter, were beheaded by the sword. Their steward Symphronius, brought by the tribune Olympius into the temple of Mars for torture, by prayer shattered the golden idol, after which the tribune with his wife Exuperia and his son Theodolus believed and were baptised. They were all burnt. Their remains were buried by holy Pope Stephen. Then were beheaded his 12 clergy: Bonus, Faustus, Maurus, Primitivus, Calumniosus, John, Exuperantus, Cyril, Theodore, Basil, Castelus, Honoratus and Tertullinus, all converted by Saint Stephen. Finally, Saint Stephen himself was led before the emperor Valerian, who condemned him to beheading with a sword in the temple of Mars. But by the prayers of the saint, a large part of the pagan-temple was destroyed, and the soldiers fled. The saint concealed himself in the catacombs (the resting place of Saint Lucina or Lucy), where afterwards he was killed by arriving soldiers while he was teaching Christians.
On the Feast of the Annunciation in the year 1625, the Georgians annihilated the army of the Persian shah Abbas I in the Battle of Martqopi. The victory unified Georgia’s eastern provinces of Kartli and Kakheti. It also instilled hope in other enslaved peoples of the Transcaucasus, and rebellions began to break out everywhere.
Soon the enraged Shah Abbas marched his finest and largest army toward Georgia under the leadership of Isa-Khan Qurchibash. A Georgian army of some twenty thousand men encamped near Kojori-Tabakhmela in preparation for the attack, while the enemy’s army, which numbered in excess of fifty thousand men, encamped at Marabda. According to tradition, the Georgian soldiers received Holy Communion at dawn before the battle.
Bishop Domenti (Avalishvili) of Ruisi prepared to serve the Holy Gifts to the soldiers but they cried out with a single voice: “If you will join us and take up your sword and fight, then do so. We can receive Holy Communion from another!”
Inspired by these words, the bishop joined in, proclaiming, “Today we will fight a battle for faith and for Christ; therefore my blood must be spilled before yours!” With his vestments as armor, the bishop blessed the soldiers and took his place in the front line.
The banner of the Georgian army was entrusted to the nine Kherkheulidze brothers.
The Persians panicked upon coming face-to-face with the courage and fortitude of the Georgian soldiers, but the experienced commander Isa-Khan Qurchibash would not yield in battle. Help arrived from Beglerbeg Shaybani-Khan, and with the extra forces the Persians soon gained the advantage over the Georgian army. The Georgian colonel Teimuraz Mukhranbatoni was fatally wounded, and rumors of his death threw the soldiers into a frenzy, since they erroneously believed that the dead man was King Teimuraz I of Kakheti, the commander of their army.
Believing that their leader had fallen, the Georgian soldiers became anxious and their army was enfeebled. Before long they recognized their mistake, but it was too late—the fate of the battle had already been decided.
The military leaders Davit Jandieri, Aghatang Kherkheulidze and Baadur Tsitsishvili and the bishops of Rustavi and Kharchasho all fell in the battle at Marabda. The nine banner-bearing Kherkheulidze brothers were also killed. When the banner that had led their army through the battles at Didgori and Basiani fell from the hands of the youngest brother, their sister grabbed hold of it immediately, and when she also fell, the banner and symbol of Georgian invincibility was raised up again by their mother.
King Teimuraz fought until sunset, when every sword he had held in his hands had been broken. Even his rings were broken in the combat. The uniform of the brilliant military leader Giorgi Saakadze was stained with blood from top to bottom. Atabeg Manuchar of Samtskhe and his sons also fought bravely in this battle.
Utterly exhausted and debilitated by the heat, the Georgians fought heroically to the last moment. But the battle that had begun at dawn finally ended late that night with the defeat of the Georgian army. Nine thousand Georgians gave their lives for Christ and their motherland on the battlefield at Marabda.
The Monks Isaac, Dalmatius and Faustus were hegumens of a Dalmatian monastery. The Monk Dalmatius had served in the army of the holy nobleborn emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395) and gained his notice. Having left the world somewhere between the years 381-383, the Monk Dalmatius together with his son Faustus went to the monastery of the Monk Isaac near Constantinople. The Monk Isaac vowed father and son into monasticism, and they both began to lead a strict ascetic life. Once during Great Lent the Monk Dalmatius did not partake of food during the course of 40 days, and later having regained his strength, he was vouchsafed worthy of a Divine vision. Having drawn near the end of his earthly life, the Monk Isaac put in his place as monastery head the Monk Dalmatius, through whose name the monastery became known as the Dalmatian.
The Monk Dalmatius showed himself a zealous proponent of the Orthodox faith at the III OEcumenical Council at Ephesus (431), which censured the heresy of Nestorius.
After the Council the holy fathers elevated the Monk Dalmatius to the dignity of archimandrite of the Dalmatian monastery, at which he died at age ninety (after year 446).
About the Monk Faustus is known that he, like his father, was a great ascetic and in monastic deeds he particularly excelled at fasting. After the death of his father, Faustus became hegumen of the monastery.
The Monk Anthony the Roman was born at Rome in the year 1067 of rich parents, keeping to the Orthodox confession of faith, and he was raised by them in piety. As an orphan having lost his parents at age 17, he took up the study of the fathers in the Greek language. Afterwards he distributed part of his inheritance to the poor, and the other portion he put into a wooden box and threw it into the sea. And then he took monastic vows at one of the wilderness skete-monasteries, where he lived for 20 years. A persecution of the Latins against the Orthodox forced the brethren to separate. The Monk Anthony wandered about, going from place to place, until he came upon a large rock upon the solitary shore of the sea, where he lived for a whole year in fasting and prayer. A terrible storm, happening on 5 September 1105, tore away the stone on which the Monk Anthony was situated, and threw him into the sea. On the Feast of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God the stone halted 3 versts from Novgorod on the banks of the River Volkhov near the village of Volkhovsk. This event is testified to in the Novgorod Chronicles. At this place the monk, with the blessing of Sainted Nikita the Hermit (+ 1109, Comm. 14 May), founded a monastery in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God. In another year fishermen fished out the box with the inheritance of the Monk Anthony, cast into the sea many years before. Having declared what was in the box, the monk took the box and bought land for the monastery. Spiritual asceticism was combined at the monastery with intense physical work.
The Monk Anthony was concerned, that from the monastery income help should be rendered for the needy, and for orphans and widows. In the year 1117 the monk began construction with stone at the monastery. Up until our own day there has been preserved a cathedral in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God -- built during the lifetime of the monk in the years 1117-1119 by the reknown Novgorod architect Peter, and with wall-frescoes in the year 1125. In the year 1131 Sainted Niphont of Novgorod made the Monk Anthony hegumen of the monastery. He died on 3 August 1147 and was buried by Sainted Niphont.
The Monk Anthony was glorified in the year 1597. His memory is noted likewise (in honour of the uncovering of the relics) on the first Friday after the feastday of the First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul (29 June), and on 17 January -- on the same name-day when the memory of the Monk Anthony the Great is celebrated. The first life of the Monk Anthony the Roman was written soon after his death by his student and successor as hegumen -- the priestmonk Andrei. A collected life, with an account about the uncovering of the relics and praiseworthy discourse, was done by a novice of the Antoniev monastery, the monk Niphont, in the year 1598.
The Martyr Razhdenes, a Persian and worshipper of the Zoroastrian religion, was descended from an illustrious family. He was the tutor of the Persian princess Balendykhta (daughter of the Persian emperor Ormizd), who entered into marriage with the pious Gruzian [Georgian] emperor Vakhtang the Great (446-449). Together with her, Razhdenes resettled in Gruzia. Out of consideration for his high parentage, the emperor heaped his wife's tutor with favours and made him his adviser. The simple and good-natured foreigner was soon beloved by all the court and the people. When he learned about Christianity and had accepted Baptism, he then began frequently to converse with Archbishop Michael and to visit church. The heart of the saint burned with an inexpressible love for Christ. He strove to comprehend the wisdom of God, he conversed much with the pastors of the Church and with eagerness he listened to the accounts and teachings about the deeds of Christian martyrs. The desire to be united with Christ irresistibly attracted him to accept suffering for the Saviour.
A bloody war between Persia and Greece spilled over into Orthodox Gruzia. The new Persian emperor Firuz (from year 456) urged Gruzia to dissolve its union with the same-faithed Greece. Having received refusal, he marched an army against Gruzia, and began a bitter war. In the words of the chronicler, the women were given over to brazen outrages, and the men -- to cruel torments and tortures. Looking upon this, Christians remained firm in the faith and, hoping on the help of God, they gave resistance to the enemy. During this time Saint Razhdenes had accepted the command over the army at the capital and its surrounding fortifications. For four months he led a stubborn struggle against the enemies of Christianity and repulsed them from the capital. The Persians decided to take revenge, having captured the zealous leader alive. All together all at once they attacked the Gruzian detachment of the fortress of Armaz and Saint Razhdenes was treacherously handed over by those to whom he had bestown high rank. They immediately took the captive to the emperor Firuz. Informed about everything, the emperor questioned Saint Razhdenes about his parentage and the reasons for renouncing his former faith and people. The martyr answered: "It is certainly true, emperor, that I once left my own nation and its gods, which serve man and are an adornment of the universe, but I now serve the One True and Living God, Who made Heaven and earth and everything that exists, Who alone possesses immortality and dwelleth in the Light imperishable, Whom no one hath ever beheld or seeth. This is the One True God, Whom I know in Three Persons in One Existence. And one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity, the Word and Son of the Father, in the fulness of time and for our salvation, came down upon the earth, was incarnated of the Holy Virgin Mary, lived upon the earth, suffered, was nailed to the Cross, died, and on the third day after death He arose, and after forty days He ascended up to Heaven and doth sit at the right side of the Father. At the end of the world This One -- the Son of God, Jesus Christ, will come again upon the earth in glory, so as to judge the living and the dead, and then the righteous wilt shine like the sun, but the impious and those disobedient to Him He wilt bind together with the devil in eternal torment".
Knowing the courage of the saint, the emperor Firuz decided to make him worship the sun and fire not by torture, but with words of flattery. "Let it be known to thee, emperor, -- answered the martyr, -- that I shalt not renounce my Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath created me, and I wilt not worship thy gods. Keep to thyself thy promises to me of riches and glory, which are for me neither necessary nor wanted, and for them I shalt not abandon my God, Who called me to the Light of His Son, and I shalt not exchange the eternal life promised us of Christ, for life temporal and transitory. Wherefore do not promise nor advise me, for thou wilt not force me to recant from Christ my God; I reject thy offers of honours and riches and I shalt no more listen to thee, rather than my Lord". When they took hold of the martyr so as to begin the tortures, he again turned to the emperor: "Thou sayest, that thou shalt give me over to tortures, and dost thou think that these torments would be more terrible than eternal agonies, knowing, that for me Christ and death -- are to my advantage". The fire-worshippers began the terrible tortures, and then locked up the martyr in prison. After some time the emperor Firuz on the advice of serveral perfidious Gruzinian dignitaries sent Saint Razhdenes to Mtskheta, where his family lived. The emperor sent him safely, knowing, that the martyr would keep his given word to return to the Persians. His family entreated him to spare himself and those near him, but Saint Razhdenes answered firmly: "Nothing shall turn me away from love for my Lord Jesus Christ". He returned to the Persians, and emperor Firuz sent him off to the governor of Upper Kartalinia, living in the town of Tsrom. They again began with their deluded exhortations and fierce tortures. Then they cast the mutilated martyr into a fetid prison. By night the Saviour Himself appeared to him and healed his wounds. The astonished Persians then decided that it was time to execute the sentence of the emperor -- to crucify the martyr on a cross.
"Rejoice, Life-Creating Wood, by which was slain the serpent of old and to which are nailed my sins, -- cried out the martyr, seeing the instrument of his death by execution. -- And I through thee shall ascend to my Lord Jesus Christ, Who shalt grant me the help and the strength to bear to the end the lot prepared for me. Wherefore I have witnessed to truth before His enemies and like Him I shall be nailed to thee". They stripped the holy martyr and nailed him to the cross amidst four criminals, crucified in a row. Wanting to increase his suffering, the Persians requested archers from the governor. Struck by poisoned arrows like the Martyr Sebastian, Saint Razhdenes died on the cross in the year 457. All the ground under him was covered by his holy blood. Portents appeared in the heavens: the sun was hid and there began a long eclipse, and during the night there arose a terrible storm, such that nothing could be seen right in front of oneself. Only the body of the martyr shone with an Heavenly light. The guards were seized with terror at the vicious act committed, and they fled to their quarters. Christians, concealed not far away, took down the martyr from the cross and buried him with honour, near the place where he had been crucified.
The saint's place of burial remained unknown for a long time, until the martyr himself commanded the priest who had buried him to reveal this to Vakhtang the Great. With great solemnity the relics of the Martyr Razhdenes were transferred to a Nikozeia church (near the city of Tsinvali).
The name Razhdenes signifies "shining faith". The First-Martyr of the Gruzian Church -- by his death, accompanied by the appearance of the Saviour and Heavenly portents, gives firm hope for the General Resurrection at the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Monk Kosma the Hermit lived during the VI Century in the Tharan wilderness in Palestine. An account of the Bikaneia presbyter Abba Basil about the Monk Kosma is located in the book "Spiritual Meadow" compiled by the Monk John Moskhos. He was strict of fasting, a firm defender of the Orthodox faith and Church dogmas, and profoundly knowledgeable in Holy Scripture and the works of the Church fathers. The Monk Kosma particularly revered the works of Sainted Athanasias the Great and told those to whom he spoke: "If thou comest across a word of Saint Atanasias and hast not paper, write it down upon thy clothing". He had the habit to stand at prayer all night Saturday through Sunday. Having once come to Antioch, he died there. The patriarch buried his body at his monastery. Abba Basil relates, that when he came to venerate at the grave of Saint Kosma, he found there a beggar, who told him: "It is a great elder, which ye have buried here!", and he explained that he lay as a cripple for 12 years and received healing through the prayers of Saint Kosma.
The great and holy myrrh-bearer Salome was one of the women disciples of Jesus. She was the daughter of St. Joseph the Betrothed and his first wife (who was also named Salome), making the Theotokos her step-mother. She married Zebedee and became the mother of the Apostles James and John. As one of the myrrh-bearing women who brought spices to Christ's tomb and found it empty, she is celebrated as one who first brought tidings of the Resurrection to the world, especially on the Sunday of Myrrh-bearing Women. She was mentioned in the bible four times.
The Seven Youths of Ephesus: Maximilian, Iamblichus, Martinian, John, Dionysius, Eksacustodianus (Constantine) and Antoninus, lived in the III Century. Saint Maximilian was the son of the Ephesus city administrator, and the other six youths -- were sons of other illustrious Ephesus citizens. The youths were friends from childhood, and all were together in military service. When the emperor Decius (249-251) arrived in Ephesus, he commanded all the citizenry to appear for offering sacrifice to the pagan gods; torture and death by execution awaited the recalcitrant. By denunciation from those currying the emperor's favour, the seven youths of Ephesus were summoned to reply to the charges. Standing before the emperor, the seven youths confessed their faith in Christ. Their illustrious military decorations -- the military sashes -- were quickly taken from them. Decius however set them at liberty, hoping, that they would change their minds while he was away on military campaign. The youths fled from the city and hid in a cave on Mount Okhlonos, where they passed the time at prayer, preparing for the deed of martyrdom. The very youngest of them -- Saint Iamblichus, having clothed himself in beggar's attire, went into the city and bought bread. In one of these journeys into the city he heard, that the emperor had returned and sought them, so as to bring them to trial. Saint Maximilian exhorted his companions to come out of the cave and bravely appear at trial. Having learned where the lads were hidden, the emperor gave orders to seal the entrance of the cave with stones, so that the lads would perish in it from hunger and thirst. Two of the dignitaries, coming before the walled-up entrance to the cave, were secret christians. Wanting to preserve the memory of the saints, they set in among the stones a sealed container, in which were located two tin sheaves. On them were inscribed the names of the seven youths and the details of their suffering and death.
But the Lord brought upon the youths a miraculous sleep, continuing almost two centuries. During this while the persecutions against Christians had ceased, although during the reign of the holy nobleborn emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450) there had appeared heretics who rejected the belief in the Resurrection of the Dead at the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some of them said: "How can there be a resurrection of the dead, when there would be neither soul, nor body, since they are disintegrated?" Others affirmed: "Only the souls alone would have a restoration, since it would be impossible for bodies to arise and live after a thousand years, when even the dust from them would not remain". The Lord therefore revealed the mystery of the awaited Resurrection of the Dead and of the Future Life also through His seven youths.
The master of that region of land, on which Mount Okhlonos was situated, discovered the stone construction, and his workers opened up the entrance to the cave. The Lord had kept alive the youths, and they as it were awoke from their habitual sleep, not suspecting, that almost 200 years had elapsed. Their bodies and clothing were completely undecayed. Preparing to accept torture, the youths entrusted to Saint Iamblichus yet once again to buy bread for them in the city to keep up their strength. Going towards the city, the youth was astonished, seeing the holy cross on the gates. And hearing the freely uttered Name of Jesus Christ, he began to doubt that he was approaching his own city. Praying for the bread, the youth gave the merchant money with the image of the emperor Decius on it, and he was detained, as one possibly concealing an horde of old money. They took Saint Iamblichus to the city administrator, who at this time happened to be the bishop of Ephesus. Hearing the bewildering answers of the youth, the bishop perceived, that God was revealing through him some sort of mystery, and set out himself with other people to the cave. At the entrance to the cave the bishop took out the sealed container and opened it. He read upon the tin sheaves the names of the seven youths and the details of the sealing-up of the cave on the orders of the emperor Decius. Going into the cave and seeing the youths alive, everyone rejoiced and perceived that the Lord, through their awakening from long sleep, was disclosing to the Church the mystery of the Resurrection of the Dead. Soon the emperor himself arrived in Ephesus and conversed with the youths in the cave. Then the holy youths in view of everyone lay down their heads upon the ground and again fell asleep, this time until the General Resurrection. The emperor wanted to place each of the youths into a jeweled coffin, but appearing to him in a dream, the holy youths said, that their bodies were to be left in the cave upon the ground. In the XII Century the Russian pilgrim the hegumen Daniel saw in the cave these holy remains of the seven youths.
A second commemoration of the seven youths is celebrated on 22 October. (By one tradition, which entered into the Russian Prologue [of Saints Lives], the youths a second time fell asleep on this day; according to the notes of the Greek Menaion of 1870, they fell asleep first on 4 August, and woke up on 22 October. The holy youths are mentioned also in the service of the Church New Year -- 1 September).
The Holy Nun-Martyress Eudokia was an illustrious Roman, living in the IV Century. The army of the Persian emperor Sapor took her into captivity amidst 9,000 Christians. Being in captivity, the saint preached among the Persian women and converted many of them to Christianity. For this she was subjected to lengthy and fierce tortures and then beheaded (+ c. 362-264).
The Holy Martyr Eleutherius served as the cubicularius (bed-chamberlain) at the court of the emperor Maximian Hercules (284-305). When he accepted Christianity, he then settled on a country estate, and built a church at his home. One of the servants reported to the emperor, that Eleutherius had become a Christian. The emperor ordered the saint to offer pagan sacrifice. The saint refused and for this he was beheaded. The relics of Saint Eleutherius were situated at Constantinople, and afterwards transferred to Italy, in the city of Theato.
The Equal-to-the-Apostles Priest-Martyr Kosma, in the world Constantine, was a native of Aetolia. He studied at first under the guidance of the archdeacon Ananios Dervitian, and afterwards continued his education on Holy Mount Athos, at the Batopedia school of such reknown for the time teachers as Nicholas Tsartsulis (from Mezova) and Evgenii Bulgaris (afterwards in the years 1775-1779 the archbishop of Ekaterinoslav and the Chersonessus).
Remaining on Athos at the Philotheia monastery to persevere at spiritual labours, he took vows there into the monastic order with the name Kosma, and later was ordained priestmonk. The yearning to guide upon the way of salvation and strengthen the faith of his brother-Christians impelled Saint Kosma to seek the blessing of his spiritual fathers and go to Constantinople. There he mastered the art of eloquent-speaking and, having received the written permission of Patriarch Seraphim II (and later from his successor Sophronias) to preach the Holy Gospel, he began to proclaim it at first in the churches of Constantinople and the surrounding villages, then in the Danubian principalities, in Thessalonika, in Berrheia, in Macedonia, Chimara, Akarnania, Aetolia, on the islands of Saint Maura, Kephalonia and other places. His preaching, filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, -- plain, tranquil and gentle, brought Christians great spiritual benefit. Just as for His holy Apostles, the Lord Himself assisted him and affirmed his words with signs and miracles. Preaching in Albania, in those distant area of it, where Christian piety was almost lost amidst the rough and coarse people entrenched in sin, Saint Kosma led them with the Word of God to sincere repentance and improvement.
Under his guidance church schools were opened in the villages. The rich offered their means for the betterment of the churches, for the purchase of Holy Books (which the saint distributed to the literate), veils (which he gave women, admonishing them to come with veiled heads), rosaries and crosses (which he distributed to the common folk). Since the churches could not accommodate everyone wanting to hear the wise preacher, Saint Kosma with an assemblage of priests made the vigil in the fields, and in city-squares, where thousands of people prayed for the living and for the dead and were edified by his preaching. And everywhere, where Saint Kosma halted and preached, the grateful listeners erected a large wooden cross, which remained thereafter in memory of this.
The apostolic service of Saint Kosma was brought to a close by a martyr's death in the year 1779. At 65 years of age, he was seized by the Turks and strangled. His body was thrown into a river and after three days was found by a priest Mark and given burial near the village of Kalikontasa at the Ardebuzia monastery of the Entrance into the Temple of the MostHoly Mother of God. Afterwards part of his relics were transferred for blessing at various places.
Saint Oswald was born around 605, the second of the seven sons of the Anglo-Saxon king Aethelfrith, who was the first ruler to unite the provinces of Bernicia and Deira into the kingdom of Northumbria.
King Edwin of Deira refused to accept the Bernician control of both provinces, so he attempted a coup while Aethelfrith was away in the north. Edwin was defeated and driven into exile. When Aethelfrith was killed later, Edwin became King of Northumbria.
Oswald's mother Acha (Edwin's sister) fled to Ireland (then called Scotland) with her children. It is believed that during his seventeen years of exile, St Oswald received Christian baptism at Iona and also learned the Gaelic language.
Edwin was killed in 633 while fighting King Penda of Mercia and King Caedwalla of Cwynedd (North Wales). Eanfrith, Oswald's older brother, returned to paganism and was killed in battle against Caedwalla. Now Oswald had to lead the struggle against the Britons.
In 634 Oswald assembled an army and prepared to meet the forces of Penda and Caedwalla at Heavenfield (Hefenfelth) near the Roman Wall seven miles north of Hexham. On the eve of the battle, St Oswald set up a great wooden cross on the field. With his own hands, the king steadied the cross while his men filled in the hole which had been dug to receive it. Although only a few of his men were Christians, Oswald ordered the army to kneel and pray to the true and living God to grant them victory.
"Let us now kneel down and pray to the omnipotent and only true God, that He will mercifully defend us from our proud enemy," he told them, "for He knows that we fight in a just war in defense of our lives and our country."
A modern replica of this cross now stands on the site, near the church of St Oswald.
The night before the battle, King Oswald had a vision of St Columba of Iona (June 9), who stretched his cloak over the sleeping soldiers and promised that the Saxon army would defeat Caedwalla the next day. Following the battle, Oswald established his supremacy in Northumbria and his right to the title of Bretwalda (High King of England). He was godfather to King Cynegils of Wessex at his baptism, and married his daughter of in 635. By 637, Oswald's authority was recognized by almost everyone.
For the next five years Britain was blessed with a rare period of stability. While governing his earthly realm, St Oswald also labored to attain a heavenly crown and to bring his people into the Kingdom of God. Turning to the Celtic monks of Iona, rather than the Roman clergy at Canterbury, Oswald invited missionaries to proclaim the Gospel to his subjects. The first bishop sent to lead the mission proved unsuitable, for he alienated many people by his harshness. The bishop was recalled, and an ideal candidate was found to replace him.
St Aidan (August 31) was consecrated bishop and sent to Northumbria to take charge of the mission. King Oswald gave him the island of Lindisfarne near the royal residence of Bamburg for his episcopal see. St Aidan also founded the famous monastery on Lindisfarne.
Since Bishop Aidan was not yet fluent in the Anglo-Saxon tongue, St Oswald would accompany him on his missionary journeys. The king translated the bishop's words and explained the Word of God to his subjects, playing an active role in the evangelization of his kingdom. People flocked to receive baptism, drawn partly by Aidan's preaching, and partly by King Oswald's example of godliness and virtue.
St Oswald was a devout and sincere Christian who was often seen sitting with his hands resting palms upwards on his knees in a gesture of prayer. He granted land and money for the establishment of monasteries, and he was famous for his generosity to the poor.
One year, after attending the services of Pascha, King Oswald sat down to a meal with Bishop Aidan. Just as the bishop was about to bless the food, a servant came in and informed the king that a great number of needy folk were outside begging for alms. The king ordered that his own food be served to the poor on silver platters, and that the silver serving dishes be broken up and distributed to them.There is a charming illustration of this incident in the thirteenth century Berthold Missal in New York's Pierpont Morgan Library (Morgan MS 710, fol. 101v). Aidan, deeply moved by St Oswald's charity, took him by the right hand and said, "May this hand never perish." According to tradition, St Oswald's hand remained incorrupt for centuries after his death. St Bede (May 27) says that the hand was kept in the church of St Peter at Bamburgh, where it was venerated by all. The present location of the hand, if it still survives, is not known.
St Oswald was killed in battle against the superior forces of King Penda on August 5, 642 at a place called Maserfield. He was only thirty-eight years old. Before his death, St Oswald prayed for the souls of his soldiers.This has become almost proverbial: "'O God, be merciful to their souls,' said Oswald when he fell."
Some identify the battle site with Oswestry (Oswald's tree, or cross) in Shropshire, but this seems an unlikely place for a battle between Mercians and Northumbrians. Others believe that Lichfield is the probable site. Lichfield means "field of the body," and was founded by Oswald's brother Oswy. The city was an archbishopric for seventeen years under Offa, who had a particular veneration for St Oswald.
Following the Battle of Maserfield, St Oswald's body was dismembered, and his head and arms were displayed on poles. Many miraculous healings took place at the site of the battle. This is not surprising, for during his lifetime St Oswald always helped the sick and the needy. Pilgrims took earth from the place where St Oswald fell, and many sick people were healed by mixing some of the dust with water and drinking it.
A year after his death, St Oswald's arms were brought to Bamburgh by Oswy, and his head was brought to Lindisfarne. There the grief-stricken Bishop Aidan interred it in the monastery church.
According to William of Malmesbury (twelfth century), St Oswald is the first English saint whose relics worked miracles. Portions of his relics were distributed to several churches in England in in Europe. Today St Oswald's head is in Durham Cathedral in St Cuthbert's coffin, but the rest of his relics seem to have been lost.
In December of 1069 a clergyman named Earnan had a vision of Sts Cuthbert (March 20) and Oswald. He described the king as being clad in a scarlet cloak, tall in stature, with a thin beard and boyish face. This is recorded by the historian Simeon of Durham.
In the Middle Ages, devotion to St Oswald spread from Britain to Spain, Italy, and Germany. Unfortunately, the fame of this most Christian king is somewhat obscured today, and his popularity diminished after the Norman Conquest in 1066. Before that, the Danish invaders destroyed many Anglo-Saxon political and legal institutions, as well as written records and oral traditions which had been preserved in the monasteries.
Though King Alfred the Great and even William the Conquerer were anxious to link themselves with St Oswald, the kings who reigned after the Conquest were less inclined to associate themselves to St Oswald's reputation as king. For three centuries the Norman kings of England spoke French, which became the language of the court, and they showed little interest in English history.
There were significant changes to the monastic culture after the Conquest as well. A number of monks were brought over from France, and they began to populate the English monasteries. By this time the English Church had become more solidly allied with Rome, and the old Celtic traditions began to disappear.
St Oswald deserves to be better known, but he has not been completely forgotten. There are over sixty churches dedicated to him in England, and his name is also associated with several place names and holy wells.
Saint John the Chozebite, the son of Maxim and Catherine Jacob, was born July 23, 1913 in the Horodistea district of Moldavia. He was named for the holy prophet Elias (July 20). In 1914, his father died in the war, and his mother succumbed to a disease, leaving Elias as an orphan. His grandmother Maria raised him until he was eleven. She was a nun, so she was able to educate him in spiritual matters. She died in 1924, so young Elias went to live with other relatives. He had a great love for Christ and His Church, and longed for the monastic life.
He entered Neamts Monastery on August 15, 1933 when he was twenty years old. Here his soul was nourished by the beauty of the services, the experienced spiritual instructors, and the silence of the mountains. The young monk loved prayer, vigils, spiritual reading, and solitude, and soon he surpassed many experienced monks in obedience, humility, and patience. Seeing his great love for spiritual books, the igumen made him the monastery's librarian. Elias gave comfort to many of the brethren by recommending specific books for each one to read. Then he would advise them to read the book carefully, make their confession, and not miss the services if they wanted to find peace.
His spiritual efforts attracted the notice of Archimandrite Valerie Moglan, who recommended that Elias be permitted to receive monastic tonsure. He was tonsured on April 8, 1936 and received the name John. From that time, the young monk intensified his spiritual efforts, conquering the temptations of the demons, and progressing on the path of salvation.
St John made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with two other monks in 1936, and they decided to remain there. The monk Damascene fell ill, however, and had to be taken back to Romania by the monk Claudius after eight months.
At first, St John lived in Bethlehem near St Sava's Monastery. Romanian monks had lived at St Sava's since the sixteenth century, and John struggled there for almost ten years. He was made librarian of the monastery, and he fulfilled this obedience for about seven years.
In 1945 St John longed for the peace and solitude of the desert, and so he went to live as a hermit. He was ordained as a priest in 1947, and became igumen of the Romanian Skete of St John the Baptist by the Jordan. Pilgrims often came to him for Confession, Communion, and consolation. In his free time he composed religious poems and hymns.
After five years, he and his disciple went into the desert of Chozeba near Jehrico. Here they lived in asceticism for eight years in the cave where, according to Tradition, St Anna had prayed.
St John Jacob died on August 5, 1960 at the age of forty-seven and was buried in his cave. On August 8, 1980 his relics were found incorrupt and fragrant. They now rest in the St George the Chozebite Monastery.
In 1968 and 1970, St John's book SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT was published in two volumes, with the blessing of Patriarch Benedict of Jerusalem. St John Jacob was glorified by the Romanian Orthodox Church in 1992.
The Martyr Eusignios was born at Antioch in the mid III Century. Over the course of sixty years he served in the Roman armies of the emperors Diocletian, Maximian Hercules, Constantius Chlorus, Constantine the Great and his sons. Saint Eusignios was a companion of Saint Basiliskos (Comm. 3 March and 22 May), and he provided an account of his deed of martyrdom (+ c. 308). At the beginning of the reign of Saint Constantine the Great, Saint Eusignios was a witness to the appearance in the sky of the starry Cross, a prediction of victory. Saint Eusignios retired in his old age from military service and returned to his own country. There he spent his time in prayer, fasting, and attending the temple of God. And thus he lived until the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363), who yearned for a return to paganism. Through the denunciation of one of the Antioch citizens, Saint Eusignios stood trial as a Christian before the emperor Julian in the year 362. He fearlessly accused the emperor of apostacy from Christ, and reproached him with the example of his relative, Constantine the Great, and he described in detail how he himself had been an eyewitness to the appearance in the sky of the sign of the Cross. Julian did not spare the quite old Saint Eusignios, then 110 years old, but rather ordered him beheaded.
The Monk Job of Ushel'sk was a monk of the Solovetsk monastery (his father was named Patrikii Mazovsky). On 10 November 1608 he was ordained to the dignity of priestmonk by the Novgorod metropolitan Isidor. In 1614 the Monk Job was sent to the Mezensk frontier, where at the confluence into the River Mezen' of the Rivers Ezeg and Vazhka he set up a chapel in honour of the Nativity of Christ. The first monks gathering to him lived at the homes of their own lay-kinsmen, so poor was the monastery. After tsar Mikhail Feodorovich (1613-1645) conferred lands with fishing rights, the monk built a church and monastic cells. On 5 August 1628, when all the brethren were off making hay, robbers attacked the monastery. After terrible tortures in their demands for him to open the monastery treasury, the robbers beheaded the Monk Job. Finding nothing at all, they fled. The brethren upon returning buried the body of the monkmartyr with honour. Local reverence of the Monk Job as a saint of God began soon after his death, because of numerous miracles (in the XVII Century about 50 such were known of). The first icon was written in 1658, and his vita-life in the 1660's. And about this time a chapel was built over the relics of the monk, and rebuilt afterwards by blessing of the Kholmogorsk archbishop Athanasii as a church in honour of the same-name saint Righteous Job the Much-Suffering (Comm. 6 May; and on this day the Church has established to also remember the Monk Job of Ushel'sk). On 3 November 1739 the relics of the Monk Job were witnessed to by archbishop Varsonophii, with in evidence the singing of a molieben to the saint. Thus there was made his glorification. The image of the Monk Job is written thus: "Similarly greyed, a beard like Alexander of Svirsk, in the garb of the monastic schemamonk, and in his hands a scroll upon which is written: "Fear not those murdering of the body, the soul they cannot kill"".
The Martyr Pontius lived during the III Century, the son of a pagan Roman senator named Marcus and his wife Julia. While with child, Julia had gone with her husband to the pagan temple of Jupiter. The devil, inhabiting the temple, shouted from the lips of the pagan priest that the boy in Julia's womb would destroy Jupiter and his pagan temple. When the boy was born, his mother wanted to kill him out of fear of the prediction, but his father opposed this and the child was left to live. He was named Pontius, and he grew up sharp of mind and keen for study. On his way to the pagan school Pontius happened to go past an house, where Christians were making the morning Divine-services. Hearing the words of the psalm which the Christians were singing: "pagan idols be silver and gold, the works of the hands of men..." (Ps. 113: 12 [115: 4]). Pontius became very interested in this verse and he paused at the gate. Pope Pontian, who was making the service, invited Pontius and his companion Valerian to come in. After the service, the pope talked for a long while with the youths, revealing to them the Gospel teachings, and after a certain while he baptised them. Saint Pontius in turn likewise converted his father to Christ, whom Pope Pontian also baptised, together with his whole household. And after the death of his father, Saint Pontius, then 20 years old, was appointed by the emperor Alexander Severus (222-235) as a senator, to take the place of his deceased father. In the Senate and the surroundings of the emperor, Saint Pontius enjoyed universal esteem for his good nature, sound sense and fairness. Under the successor to the emperor Alexander Severus -- Maximian (235-238), Pope Saint Pontian finished his life as a martyr (+ 235).
Pope Saint Antherus was elected Bishop of Rome in place of Pope Saint Pontian, and he too soon accepted suffering and death for Christ (+ 236). His successor was Pope Saint Fabian (Fabius), who as a presbyter fearlessly gave burial to the bodies of martyrs. Pope Saint Fabian loved Saint Pontius as though he were his own flesh and blood son. Saint Pontius distributed with Saint Fabian all his substance on the needs of the poor. After the perishing of impious Maximian, the new emperor Gordian (238-244) did not persecute Christians, and thereafter in turn the emperor Philip (244-249) together with his co-regent son Philip was persuaded by the conversations and preaching of Saint Pontius to believe in Christ and to accept Baptism from holy Pope Fabian. With the permission of the emperors, Saints Pontius and Fabian threw down the statue of Jupiter at the pagan temple and on this place built a church. For 4 years the Church of Christ dwelt in peace and tranquility. But then Decius (249-251) ascended the throne, having organised a rebellion and murdered the emperor Philip and his son. And during this time Sainted Fabian, Pope of Rome (+ 250), accepted death for Christ. But Saint Pontius left Rome for the city of Cimelum (on the border of Italy and Gaul-France) and lived there like a stranger. During the time of the emperor Valerian (253-259), cruel torturers were sent out with full authority to all ends to seek out and kill all Christians. And thus Claudius and Anubius arrived in the city of Cimelum for this purpose. Saint Pontius fearlessly confessed himself a Christian and refused to offer sacrifice to idols. They shackled him in irons and threw him in prison. From the very beginning of the torture the saint calmly admonished the torturers, that the Lord would bring to naught the torture and they would see the power of God. And indeed, as soon as the servants attempted to tie Saint Pontius to the rack, it fell apart to pieces, and the torturers fell to the ground as though dead.
"Be convinced, O man of little faith, in the power of my Lord", -- said Saint Pontius to Claudius, but on the advice of Anubius he gave Saint Pontius over to be devoured by two bears in the circus. The wild beasts, while not touching the saint, fell instead upon their keepers and tore at them. The spectators began to shout: "God only is the Christian God, in Whom believeth Pontius". By order of the torturers a bon-fire was built, but it burnt out, and the saint remained alive, and even his clothes did not burn. The crowd shouted all the more strongly: "Great is the God of the Christians!" Saint Pontius then was sentenced to beheading by the sword, and the execution was made out beyond the city in the year 257. The body of Saint Pontius was given burial at the place of execution by his comrade and friend Valerian.
Saint Nonna, the mother of Sainted Gregory the Theologian (i.e. Gregory of Nazianzus, + 25 January 389), was the daughter of Christians named Philotatos and Gorgonia. Saint Nonna was also an aunt of Sainted Amphylokhios, Bishop of Iconium (Comm. 23 November). Her parents raised her in Christian piety. Saint Nonna entered into marriage with Gregory of Arianzus, the rich landowner of an estate in the Arianzus and Nazianzus districts. The marriage was advantageous by earthly considerations, but grievous for the pious soul of Nonna. Her husband Gregory of Arianzus was a pagan, a follower of the sect of the Supremists (Hypsistarii), under which he venerated a supreme god and observed certain Jewish rituals, while at the same time he worshipped fire. Pious Nonna prayed much, that her spouse should turn to the holy truth. Saint Nonna's son, Saint Gregory the Theologian, wrote thus about this: "This was something she could not calmly bear, that the one half be conjoined with God, whilst the other part itself -- should remain apart from God. On the contrary, she wanted, that to the fleshly union there should also apply a spiritual union. Wherefore both day and night she recoursed to God, with fasting and many a tear she besought Him to grant the salvation of her husband". Through the prayers of Saint Nonna, her husband Gregory had a dream vision in his sleep. "It seemed to my father, -- writes Saint Gregory, -- as though he (which never before had he done, though many a time his wife had sought and asked it), it seemed as though he was singing the following verse of David: I was glad when they said of me, let us go into the house of the Lord (Ps. 121 : 1). The singing itself was unprecedented, and moreover with the singing was actually the desire to do so! When she heard about this, it was the fulfilling of her wish, and profiting the moment, she explained the vision to good effect, and in which was the complete truth". The elder Gregory went to the First OEcumenical Council at Nicea, where he made known his conversion to Christ. And he was ordained presbyter and then bishop of Nazianzus and devoted himself totally to the Church. At the same time as his ordination to bishop, his spouse Saint Nonna was made a deaconness. With the same zeal with which she had raised her children, she now occupied herself in performing works of charity.
"She knew, -- says Saint Gregory the Theologian, -- one thing to be truly noble -- to be pious and to know, from whence we have come and whither we go; and that there is one innate and trusty wealth -- to use up one's substance on God and on the poor, especially the impoverished kindred.
If one woman be distinguished for frugality, and another for piety, it being difficult to combine both qualities, then she however excelled all both in the one and in the other, and in each she attained the height of perfection, and she had both combined as one in her. In her, the one quality could not suffer impairment without the other, but rather each the other sustained. What time and place of prayer ever eluded her? On this daily was her very first thought. Better it be said, who, in setting about praying, had such trust to receive the besought? But even more amazing is this, that she, although she might be powerfully shaken by sorrows, even those of strangers, yet never did she give herself over to hollow wailing to the extent, that the voice of sorrow should win out over thanksgiving, or that the tears should fall endlessly, secretly sealing their mark, or with the onset of the bright feast to remain in garb of sorrow, though there befell her repeatedly many a sorrow. Wherein for the soul, out of a characteristic love for God, everything human was made subject to the Divine. I refrain from speaking about her deeds more secret, which God alone hath witnessed and about which perhaps knew her faithful servants, being in this her confidants".
The final years brought Saint Nonna many a sorrow. In the year 368 died her younger son Caesarius, a young man, of brilliant expectations; and in the following year died her daughter. The brave old woman bore these losses with a submission to the will of God.
In the year 370 bishop Gregory, then already an old man already up in age, participated in the ordination of Saint Basil the Great as Bishop of Caesarea. Saint Nonna, who was somewhat younger than her husband, was likewise readied to enter into the next life, but through the prayers of her beloved son was prolonged her time on earth. "My mother, -- wrote her son, -- always was strong and brave, all her life she never complained of infirmities; but sickness had befallen her. From many a suffering, not mincing words, the least oppressive -- was an aversion to food, continuing for many days and untreatable by any of the doctors. How then did God sustain her? He did not send down manna, as to Israel of old; He did not split open a rock, for a spring of water to issue forth for the thirsty people; not through rambling words, as with Elias, not through a prophetic ecstasy, as once with Daniel, languishing with hunger in the pit. But then in what form? It seemed to her that I, her especially beloved son (she presupposed me in her sleep to be no one else), that I had appeared to her suddenly by night with a basket of the whitest bread, and then having pronounced prayer over these loaves and blessing them with the Sign of the Cross, as is our custom, I gave her to eat, and with this her strength returned and increased. And this night-time vision was for her something that actually happened, since she became herself again and was no longer an hopeless case. And what happened with her became apparent in a clear and evident manner. With the break of day I had gone to her early in the morning, and for the first time saw her in her former fine condition, and so I chanced as usual to ask: how was her night and did she need anything? Without a bit of hesitation quite fluently she said: "Thou thyself, beloved son, hath fed me and now thou dost ask about my health. O, how good and caring thou art!" At this moment her attendants motioned to me by gestures, that I should not contradict her, but I have taken her words at face value and so that the actual truth should not distress her".
Early in the year 374 reposed the hundred year old elder bishop Gregory. Saint Nonna, after this almost never emerging from the church, soon after his death died at prayer in the temple on 5 August 374.
Sainted Theoktist, Bishop of Chernigov, prior to entering upon the cathedra-chair, pursued an ascetic life at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. He was among the number of the great startsi-elders, healing by prayer the Monk Nikita, afterwards Sainted Bishop of Novgorod (Comm. 31 January). In the year 1103 Saint Theoktist was made hegumen of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. In the year 1108 he built on the means of pious prince Gleb Vseslavich a stone refectory. Saint Theoktist particularly insisted, that the name of the Monk Theodosii (Feodosii, Comm. 3 May), be included in the synodikon of the saints of all Russia. In the year 1110, on 11 February, there was an heavenly apparition at the Pechersk monastery: a pillar of fire from the ground to the sky appeared and lightning lighted up all the earth, and at the 1st hour of the night there was the crash of thunder; the fiery pillar stood over the stone refectory so that its cross was not visible; afterwards it proceeded to the church and settled over the grave of the Monk Theodosii, and then, turning to the East, it disappeared. "This was not a pillar of fire, but rather an angelic face, -- wrote the Monk Nestor the Chronicler, -- because an angel appears thus, when there is a pillar of fire, a flaming, as says the Prophet David: Who maketh His angels spirits and His servants flames of fire" (Ps. 103 : 4). In the year 1113 Saint Theoktist was ordained Bishop of Chernigov. The PriestMartyr Monk Kuksha (Comm. 27 August), enlightening at this time the Vyatichi, belonging to the Chernigov diocese. On 2 May 1115 Saint Theoktist participated in the transfer of the relics of holy Princes Boris and Gleb to Vyshgorod, and later in Chernigov near his cathedral he consecrated a church in the name of the holy Princes Boris and Gleb, erected in the year 1120 by prince David of Chernigov. And to the noble Prince Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb the saint made a sermon on the day of their memory. On 6 august 1123, the feast of the Transfiguration, Saint Theoktist died, and because of the feastday, his memory is made on 5 August. On one of the lists of the Saints it is said, that he was buried at the Pechersk monastery. For the memory of Saint Theoktist believers resort also to 28 September, when he is remembered in the 9th ode of the Canon of the Sobor-Assemblage of the Monastic Fathers of the Nearer Caves.
Discourse of Sainted Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonika. For an explanation of the present feastday and discernment of its truth, it is necessary for us to turn to the very start of the present-day reading from the Gospel: "And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James and John his brother, and leadeth them up onto an high mountain apart" (Mt. 17: 1). First of all we mustneeds ask, from whence doth the Evangelist Matthew begin to reckon with six days? From what sort of day be it? What does the preceding turn of speech indicate, wherein the Saviour, in teaching His disciples, didst say to them: "for the Son of Man shalt come to be in the glory of His Father", and added further: "amen I tell ye, there indeed be some standing here, which shalt not taste of death, until they see the Son of Man come into His Kingdom" (Mt. 16: 27-28); -- that is to say, it is the Light of His forthcoming Transfiguration which He terms as the Glory of His Father and as His Kingdom. [trans. note: the Synoptic Gospel Mt. 16: 27-28 parallel in the Gospel of Mark is Mk. 9: 1, familiar as the concluding verse in Gospel readings for feastdays of the Holy Cross; the Synoptic parallel in Luke is Lk. 9: 26-27]. The Evangelist Luke points this out and more clearly reveals this, saying: "And it came to pass however after these words, about eight days thereafter, He taketh Peter and John and James, and ascendeth onto a mountain to pray. And it came to pass, that as He did pray, His Countenance was altered, and His garb gleamed whitely resplendid" (Lk. 9: 28-29). But how can the two be reconciled, when one of them speaks definitively about the interval of time as being eight days between the sayings and the manifestation, whereas the other (says): "after six days"? Listen and think it out.
On the Mount there were eight, but only six were visible: the three -- Peter, James and John, had come up together with Jesus, and they beheld Moses and Elias (Elijah) standing there and conversing with Him, such that in number altogether they comprised six; but together with the Lord, certainly, were both the Father and the Holy Spirit: the Father -- with His Voice testifying that This be His Beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit -- shining forth with Him in the radiant cloud. In such manner, these six consist actually of eight and as regards the eight it presents no sort of contradiction; in similar manner there is no contradiction with the Evangelists, when one says: "after six days", and the other: "and it came to pass after these words eight days thereafter". But these twofold sayings as it were present us a certain format set in mystery, and together with it that of those actually present upon the Mount. It stands to reason, and everyone rationally studying in concordance with Scripture knows, that the Evangelists are in agreement one with another: Luke spoke about the eight days without contradicting Matthew, who declared "after six days". There is not another day added on representing the day on which these sayings were uttered, nor likewise was there added on the day upon which the Lord was transfigured (which the rational person might reasonably imagine to tack on to the days of Matthew). The Evangelist Luke does not say "after eight days" (like the Evangelist Matthew in saying "after six days"), but rather "it came to pass eight days thereafter". But in what the Evangelists seem to contradict, they actually one and the other point out to us something great and mysteried. In actual fact, why did the one say "after six days", but the other in ignoring the seventh day have in mind the eighth day? It is because the great vision of the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is a mystery of the Eighth Day, i.e. of a future age, coming about to be revealed after the passing-away of the world created over the course of the six days. About the power of the Divine Spirit, through the dignity of Which is to be revealed the Kingdom of God, the Lord forespake: ""There indeed be some standing here, which shalt not taste of death, until they see the Kingdom of God come in power" (Mk. 9: 1). Everywhere and in every way the King wilt be present, and everywhere wilt be His Kingdom, since the advent of His Kingdom does not signify the passing over from one place to another, but rather the revelation of its power of the Divine Spirit, wherein is said: "come in power". And this power is not manifest to simply ordinary people, but to those standing with the Lord, that is to say, those affirmed in their faith in Him and like to Peter, James and John, and those foremost of all free of our natural abasement. Therefore, and precisely because of this, God manifests Himself upon the Mount, on the one hand coming down from His heights, and on the other -- raising us up from the depths of abasement, since that the Transcendent One takes on mortal nature. And certainly, such a manifest appearance by far transcends the utmost limits of the mind's grasp, as effectualised by the power of the Divine Spirit.
And thus, the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is not something that is born and vanishes nor is it subject to the faculties of sensation, although it was contemplated by corporeal eyes over the course of a short while and upon an inconsequential mountaintop. But the mystery-initiates (the disciples) of the Lord at this time passed beyond mere flesh into spirit by means of a transformation of their sense-faculties, effectualised within them by Spirit, and in such manner they beheld what, and to which extent the Divine spirit had wrought blessedness in them to behold -- the Ineffable Light. Those not grasping this point have conjectured, that the chosen from among the Apostles beheld the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord by a sensual and creaturely power (faculty), -- and through this they attempt to reduce to a creaturely-level [i.e. as something "created"] not only this Light, the Kingdom and the Glory of God, but also the Power of the Divine Spirit, through which it be mete for Divine mysteries to be revealed. In all likelihood, suchlike persons have not attended to the words of the Apostle Paul: "of which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor ascended in the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for those that love Him. To us however God hath revealed through His Spirit: for all things be scrutinised of Spirit, even at the very depths of God" (1 Cor. 2: 9-10).
And thus, with the onset of the Eighth Day, the Lord, taking Peter, James and John, went up on the Mount to pray: He always either prayed alone, withdrawing from everyone, even from the Apostles themselves, as for example when with five loaves and two fish He fed the five thousand men, besides women and children (Mt. 14: 19-23). Or, taking with Him the several that excelled others, as at the approach of His Saving Passion, when He said to the other disciples: "Sit ye here whilst I go and pray thither" (Mt. 26: 36), -- He then took with Him Peter, James and John. But in our instance right here and now, having taken only these same three, the Lord led them up onto an high mountain apart and wast transfigured before them, that is to say, before their very eyes.
"What does it mean to say: He was transfigured?" -- asks the Gold-Worded Theologian (Chrysostomos), and he answers this by saying: "it revealed, that is, something of His Divinity to them -- as much and insofar as they were able to apprehend it, and it showed the indwelling of God within Him". The Evangelist Luke says: "And it came to pass, that as He prayed, the appearance of His Face was altered" (Lk. 9: 29); and from the Evangelist Matthew we read: "And His Face did shine, like the sun" (Mt. 17: 2). But the Evangelist said this, not in the context that this Light be thought of as subsistent for the senses (let us put aside the blindness of mind of those, who can conceive of nothing higher than that, known through the senses). Rather, it is to show that Christ God -- for those living and contemplating by spirit -- is the same as how the sun is for those living in the flesh and contemplating by the senses: therefore some other Light for the knowing of Divinity be not necessary for those who be enriched by Divine gifts. That selfsame Inscrutable Light did shine and mysteriously become manifest to the Apostles and foremost of the Prophets at that moment, when (the Lord) was praying. This shows, that what begat this blessed sight was prayer, and that the radiance happened and was manifest by an uniting of the mind with God, and that it be granted to all who, amidst constant exercise in efforts of virtue and prayer, strive with their mind towards God. True beauty essentially can be contemplated only with a purified mind; diligently to gaze upon its luminance assumes a sort of participation with it, as though some bright ray doth etch itself upon the face. Whereof even the face of Moses was illumined by his association with God. Do you not know, that Moses was transfigured, when he went up the mountain, and there beheld the Glory of God? But he (Moses) did not effect this, but rather he underwent a transfiguration; however, our Lord Jesus Christ of Himself possessed that Light. In this regard, actually, He did not have need for prayer for His flesh to radiate with the Divine Light; it is but to show, from whence that Light doth descend upon the Saints of God, and how to contemplate it -- since it be written, that even the Saints "will shine forth, like the sun" (Mt. 13: 43), which is to say, entirely permeated by Divine Light as they gaze upon Christ, Divinely and inexpressibly shining forth of His Radiance, issuing forth of His Divine Nature, and on Mount Tabor manifest also in His Flesh, by reason of the Hypostatic Union [i.e. the union of the two perfect natures, Divine and Human, within the Divine Person (Hypostasis) of Christ, the Second Person of the MostHoly Trinity. The Fourth OEcumenical Council at Chalcedon defined this Hypostatic union of Christ's two natures, Divine and Human, as "without mingling, without change, without division, without separation" ("asugkhutos, atreptos, adiairetos, akhoristos")].
We believe, that He manifest within the Transfiguration not some other manner of light, but only that which was concealed beneathe his exterior of flesh. This Light was the Light of the Divine Nature, and as such it was Uncreated and Divine. So also, in the teachings of the theologian-fathers, Jesus Christ was transfigured on the Mount, not taking upon Himself something new nor being changed into something new, nor something which formerly He did not possess. Rather, it was to show His disciples that which He already was, opening their eyes and rendering them from blindness into sight. For do ye not see, that eyes with sight in accord with natural things, would be blind as regards this Light?
And thus, this Light is not a light of the senses, and those contemplating it do not simply see with sensual eyes, but rather they are changed by the power of the Divine Spirit. They were transformed and only in such manner did they see the transformation, transpiring amidst the very assumption of our perishability, with in place of this the deification through union with the Word of God. And thus also She that miraculously conceived and gave birth did recognise, that He born of Her is the Incarnated God. Thus too it was for Simeon, who but only received hold of this Infant into his arms, and the Aged Anna, coming out [from the Jerusalem Temple] for the Meeting -- since it was that the Divine Power did illumine, as through a glass windowpane, giving light for all those having pure eyes of heart.
And why indeed did the Lord, before the beginning of the Transfiguration, choose the foremost of the Apostles and lead them up onto the Mount with Him? Certainly, it was to show them something great and mysteried. What in particular great or mysteried would there be in showing a sensory light, which not merely the chosen-foremost but all the other Apostles already abundantly possessed? Why would they need a transforming of their eyes by the power of the Holy Spirit for a contemplation of this Light, if it [the Light] were merely sensory and created? How could the Glory and the Kingdom of the Father and the Holy Spirit project forth in some sort of sensory light? Indeed, in what sort of like Glory and Kingdom would Christ the Lord come at the end of the ages, when there wouldst not be necessary anything in the air, nor in expanse, nor anything similar, but when, in the words of the Apostle, "so that God will be all in all" (1 Cor. 15: 28), that is to say, will He alter everything for all? If indeed so, then it follows therefore to include -- light. And hence it is clear, that the Light of Tabor was a Divine Light. And the Evangelist John, inspired by Divine Revelation, says clearly, that the future eternal and enduring city will not "require sun or moon to provide it light: for the Glory of God wilt light it, and its luminary will be -- the Lamb" (Apoc. [Rev.] 21: 23). Is it not clear, that he points out here that This [Lamb] is Jesus, -- Who now upon Tabor is Divinely transfigured, and the flesh of Whom doth shine, -- is the luminary manifesting the Glory of Godhood for those ascending the mountain with Him? The Theologian John says likewise about the inhabitants of this city: "they will require light neither from lamps, nor from the light of the sun, for the Lord God giveth them light, and there wilt not be night henceforth" (Apoc. [Rev.] 22: 5). But how, we might ask, is there this other light, of which "it be without change and without threat of darkness" (James 1: 17)? What light is there that is constant and unsetting, unless it be the Light of God? Moreover, could Moses and Elias (and particularly the former, who clearly was present only in spirit, and not in flesh [Elias having ascended bodily to Heaven on the fiery chariot]) be shining amidst any sort of sensory light, and be seen and known? Especially since it was written about them: "they appeared in Glory, and they spoke about His demise, which would come about at Jerusalem" Lk. 9: 30-31). And how otherwise could the Apostles recognise those whom they had never seen before, unless through the mysteried power of the Divine Light, opening their mental eyes?
But let us not fatigue out our attention with the furthermost interpretations of the words of the Gospel. We shall believe thus, as those same ones have taught us, who themselves were enlightened by the Lord Himself, insofar as they alone know this well: the mysteries of God, in the words of a prophet, are known to God alone and His perpetual proximity. Let us, considering the mystery of the Transfiguration of the Lord in accord with their teaching, ourselves strive to be illumined by this Light and encourage in ourselves love and striving towards the Unfading Glory and Beauty, purifying the spiritual eyes of worldly thoughts and refraining from perishable and quickly-passing delights and beauty, which darken the garb of the soul and lead to the fire of Gehenna and everlasting darkness, of which let us be freed by the illumination and knowledge of the Incorporeal and Perpetually-Extant Light of our Saviour transfigured on Tabor, in His Glory, and of His Father from all-eternity, and Life-Creating Spirit, of Whom be One Radiance, One Godhead, and Glory, and Kingdom, and Power now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
[Trans. Note Concerning the word "Transfiguration": In the opinion of this translator, the Slavonic word for Transfiguration, "Preobrazhenie", is theologically more accurate and profound a term than the original Greek word "Metamorphosis" (or Latin "Transfiguratio"), which in English useage has assumed a religiously neutral and scientific connotation; culturally even the lurid short story "Metamorphosis" of F. Kafka stifflingly depicts God-bereft worldly efforts at metamorphosis, i.e. a negative metamorphosis. Our English word derives obviously from the Latin. A further theological irony is a point strongly made above in the tract by Saint Gregory Palamas: it is not the Lord that was metamorphosised into something other or new, but rather the Apostles. Words in Latin and Greek tend to shift in their appropriated meaning over the course of millennia, and probably here too. The Slavonic term "Pre-Obrazhenie" would linguistically seem to suggest rendering as the "Primordial-Eternal-Image" of Christ as expressed in His Prayer to the Father: "And now, Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine Own Self with the Glory which I had with Thee before the world ever existed" (Jn. 17: 5). Thus at the Transfiguration the Lord was manifest in the fulness of His Divine Glory, which He had together with the Father in eternity, before the very creation of the world, (sic) His Eternal Image and Glory.
Saint Gregory Palamas in his tract repetitively, again and again, returns to the point of stressing the uncreatedness of the Transfiguration's Divine Light, to the exclusion of much else. Why? It seems likely to be from his well-honed defense of the Hesychiast Fathers against the theology of the Calabrian Scholastic monk Barlaam, for whom the Light of Tabor would seem to have been a "created energy" rather than of the Divine Essence of God.
The Monk Dometios lived during the IV Century, and he was by birth a Persian. In his youthful years he was converted to the faith by a Christian named Uaros. Forsaking Persia, he withdrew to the frontier-city of Niziba (in Mesopotamia), where he accepted Baptism in one of the monasteries and was tonsured into monasticism. But then fleeing the ill-will of the monastery inhabitants, the Monk Dometios moved on to the monastery of Saints Sergios and Bacchus in the city of Theodosiopolis. The monastery was under the guidance of an archimandrite named Nurbelos -- a strict ascetic, about whom it was reported, that over the course of 60 years he did not taste of cooked food, nor did he lay down for sleep, but rather took his rest standing up, supporting himself upon his staff. In this monastery the Monk Dometios was ordained to the dignity of deacon, but when the archimandrite decided to have him made a presbyter, the saint in reckoning himself unworthy hid himself away on a desolate mountain in Syria, in the region of Cyr. Reports about him constantly spread about among the surrounding inhabitants. They began to come to him for healing and for help. Many a pagan was brought to the faith in Christ by Dometios. And one time, in the locality where Saint Dometios asceticised with his disciples, the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) arrived, journeying along on his campaign against the Persians. By order of the emperor, soldiers searched out Saint Dometios praying with his disciples in a cave, and stoned them to death (+ 363).
The Uncovering of the Relics of Sainted Mitrophan, Bishop of Voronezh (1832): The memory of the deep piety and pastoral virtues of Saint Mitrophan (as schemamonk named Makarii) was revered as sacred at Voronezh, back from the time of his death (+ 23 November 1703). His successors, the Voronezh hierarchs, considered it their sacred duty to annually make remembrance of the first-hierarch of their flock, together with his parents, the priest Vasilii and Maria. The people of Voronezh and its surroundings came to the Annunciation cathedral, where at the place of his burial panikhida memorial services were made. Contributing to the intense remembrance of Saint Mitrophan was also his deathbed last-will bidding -- to make prayers for him. For this the saint even during his lifetime had built at the cathedral a chapel in honour of the holy Archangel Michael (the heavenly patron-saint of the saint's baptismal name), and in it a special priest made early votive liturgies. Although new generations afterwards did not know the saint, they likewise reverently venerated his memory. The veracity of the sainthood of the first hierarch of the Voronezh diocese was likewise confirmed by his incorrupt relics, witnessed during the repeated transfers of them from one temple to another. And thus in the year 1718, the Voronezh metropolitan Pakhomii, in setting about the construction of a new cathedral, gave orders to demolish the old Annunciation cathedral, during which time the body of Saint Mitrophan was temporarily transferred into the church of the Unburnt Bush [as seen by Moses]. In 1735 the body of Saint Mitrophan was transferred into the new cathedral, during which time the non-decay of his relics was again witnessed. At the place of the burial of the saint, panikhidas were customarily made for him.
With the year 1820 it was noticed, that the number of those venerating Saint Mitrophan and thronging to Voronezh, had extraordinarily increased. Graced signs also increased. The Voronezh archbishop Antonii II made repeated reports to the Holy Synod about miracles, and he petitioned for a resolution on the glorification to sainthood of the saint. The Holy Synod them prescribed watching for bestowals of grace, received at the grave of Saint Mitrophan. In the year 1831, after witnessing to the incorrupt body of the saint, archbishop Antonii together with commission members of the Holy Synod -- the Yaroslavl' archbishop Evgenii and archimandrite Germogen of the Moscow Saviour-Androniev monastery, became convinced in the miraculous intercession of Saint Mitrophan before the Throne of God. The Holy Synod then issued its resolution adding Sainted Mitrophan into the ranks of the Saints. Since then the Russian Church celebrates the memory of the saint twice during the year: 23 November -- on the day of repose, and on 7 August -- on the day of glorification.
Archbishop Antonii II (1827-1846) established in the Voronezh also the following feastdays in honour of Sainted Mitrophan: 4 June, in memory of Sainted Mitrophanes, Patriarch of Tsar'grad-Constantinople, as a day of "tezoimenie" or name-in-common for Saint Mitrophan of Voronezh; 2 April -- the saint's day of ordination to bishop (in 1682); 11 December -- the day of confirmation of the relics of Saint Mitrophan (in 1831).
Saint Mitrophan left behind a spiritual last-testament. Its original is preserved in the State Historical Museum. Upon the testament is the unique handwritten authoritative undersigning by the saint: "This spiritual dictate is attested to by me... Bishop Mitrophan of Voronezh".
On the lower cover (inside) is a gloss inscription from the XVIII Century: "This is the book of testament or last-will of the Voronezh schema-monk Makarii, written in the God-saved city of Voronezh, in the house of His Grave the bishop and schema-monk Makarii, who reposed in the month of November on the 23rd day in the year 1703, and was buried on the 4th day of December".
On the day preceding the Uncovering of the Relics of Saint Mitrophan, the Voronezh archbishop Antonii set about going to church, so as to lay out the new archbishop vestments prepared for the relics. Suddenly he felt in himself such a weakness, that he was barely able to go about his cell. Troubled by this, he sat and pondered and then he heard a quiet voice: "Transgress not my legacy".
This he did not understand right away, and instead thinking about his own plans, he gathered up his strength and opened the closet wherein were the vestments, and there he caught sight of the schema-garb, brought shortly before this by some unknown monk, who had entrusted it to him and said, that it soon would be needed.
Seeing this schema-garb, the Vladyka then realised, that the words, "Transgress not my legacy", was actually the will of Saint Mitrophan, that they not place upon his relics the archbishop vestiture, but rather leave them in schema-garb, -- indicating by this and by his extreme humility the deep spiritual connection with his schema-monk patronal saint, the Monk Makarii of Unzhensk.
Saint Theodora, the greatest of Romania's holy ascetics, was born in the village of Vanatori, Neamts in the first half of the seventeenth century, and was the daughter of Stephen Joldea and his wife.
She was married to a man of Ismail, but had no children. Therefore, she and her husband decided to enter the monastic life. Her husband went to the Skete of Poiana Marului, where he was tonsured with the name Eleutherius. He was also ordained to the holy priesthood.
Theodora also received the monastic tonsure in the Skete of Poiana Marului. In just a few years, she advanced in obedience, prayer, and asceticism, acquiring the grace of unceasing prayer of the heart.
When her skete was destroyed by the Turks, she fled to the Buzau Mountains with her spiritual mother, Schemanun Paisia. They lived for several years in fasting, vigil and prayer, enduring cold, hunger, and demonic temptations. When her spiritual mother fell asleep in the Lord (1670-1675), St Theodora was led by God to the mountains of Neamts. After venerating the wonderworking Neamts Icon of the Mother of God (June 26) in the monastery, she was told to seek the advice of Hieromonk Barsanuphius of Sihastria Skete. Seeing her desire for the eremetical life, and recognizing her great virtues, he gave her Holy Communion and assigned Hieromonk Paul as her Father Confessor and spiritual guide.
Fr Barsanuphius advised Theodora to go and live alone in the wilderness for a year. "If, by the grace of Christ, you are able to endure the difficulties and trials of the wilderness, then remain there until you die. If you cannot endure, however, then go to a women's monastery, and struggle there in humility for the salvation of your soul."
Fr Paul searched in vain for an abandoned hermitage where St Theodora might live. Then they met an old hermit living beneath the cliffs of Sihla. This clairvoyant Elder greeted them and said, "Mother Theodora, remain in my cell, for I am moving to another place."
Fr Paul left Theodora on Mount Sihla, blessing her before he returned to the skete. St Theodora lived in that cell for thirty years. Strengthened with power from on high, she vanquished all the attacks of the Enemy through patience and humility. She never left the mountain, and never saw another person except for Fr Paul, who visited her from time to time to bring her the Spotless Mysteries of Christ and the supplies she needed to survive.
St Theodora made such progress in asceticism that she was able to keep vigil all night long with her arms lifted up toward heaven. When the morning sun touched her face, she would eat some herbs and other vegetation to break her fast. She drank rainwater which she collected from a channel cut into the cliff, which is still known as StTheodora's Spring.
When Turks attacked the villages and monasteries around Neamts, the woods became filled with villagers and monastics. Some nuns found St Theodora's cell, and she called out to them, "Remain here in my cell, for I have another place of refuge." Then she moved into a nearby cave, living there completely alone. An army of Turks discovered the cave, and were about to kill the saint. Lifting up her hands, she cried out, "O Lord, deliver me from the hands of these murderers." The wall of the cave opened, and she was able to escape into the woods.
As St Theodora grew old, she was forgotten and there was no one to care for her. Placing all her hope in God, she continued her spiritual struggles, and reached great heights of perfection. When she prayed her mind was raised up to Heaven, and her body was lifted up off the ground. Like the great saints of earlier times, her face shone with a radiant light, and a flame came forth from her mouth when she prayed.
In time her clothes became mere rags, and when her food ran out, she was fed by birds like the Prophet Elias (July 20). They brought her crusts of bread from the Sihastria Skete. Seeing the birds come to the skete and then fly away with pieces of bread in their beaks, the igumen sent two monks to follow them. Night fell as they walked toward Sihla, and they lost their way in the woods. They decided to wait for daylight, and began to pray. Suddenly, they saw a bright light stretching up into the sky, and went to investigate. As they approached, they saw a woman shining with light and levitating above the ground as she prayed.
St Theodora said, "Brethren, do not be afraid, for I am a humble handmaiden of Christ. Throw me something to wear, for I am naked."
Then she told them of her life and approaching death. She asked them to go to the skete and ask for Fr Anthony and the hierodeacon Laurence to come and bring her Communion. They asked her how they could find their way to the skete at night, for they did not know the way. She said that they would be guided to the skete by a light which would go before them.
The next day at dawn, Fr Anthony went to Sihla with the deacon and two other monks. When they found St Theodora, she was praying by a fir tree in front of her cave. She confessed to the priest, then received the Holy Mysteries of Christ and gave her soul to God. The monks buried her in her cave with great reverence sometime during the first decade of the eighteenth century.
News of her death spread quickly, and people came from all over to venerate her tomb. Her holy relics remained incorrupt, and many miracles took place before them. Some kissed the relics, others touched the reliquary, while others washed in her spring. All who entreated St Theodora's intercession received healing and consolation.
St Theodore's former husband, Hieromonk Eleutherius, heard that she had been living at Sihla, and decided to go there. He found her cave shortly after her death and burial. Grieving for his beloved wife, Eleutherius did not return to his monastery, but made a small cell for himself below the cliffs of Sihla. He remained close to her cave, fasting, praying, and serving the Divine Liturgy. He lived there for about ten years before his blessed repose. He was buried in the hermits' cemetery, and the Skete of St John the Baptist was built over his grave.
St Theodora's relics were taken to the Kiev Caves Monastery between 1828 and 1834. There she is known as St Theodora of the Carpathians.
The Monk Pimen the Much-Sick (XI Century) attained the Kingdom of Heaven by way of grievous illness. This Russian ascetic was both born and grew up sickly. For a long while he besought his parents to send him off to the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. And when they brought their son to the famed monastery, they then began in prayer to beseech health for him. But the sufferer himself, conscious of the high value of suffering, instead besought of the Lord both the continuation of sickness, and likewise his tonsuring into monasticism. And herewith Angels in the guise of monks made over him the rite of tonsure. Several of the brethren heard the sound of singing, and coming to the Monk Pimen, they found him attired in monastic garb. In his hand he held a blazing candle, and his tonsured hair could be seen at the crypt of the Monk Theodosii (Feodosii). The Monk Pimen spent many a year in grievous illness, such that those attending to him were bothered by it and often they left him without bread and water, but he endured everything with joy. Compassionate towards the brethren, the Monk Pimen healed a certain crippled brother, having taken his word to be of service to the point of death. But after a while the brother grew lax in his service, and his former ailment overtook him. The Monk Pimen again healed him with the advice, that both the sick and those attending the sick receive equal reward. The Monk Pimen spent twenty years in grievous sufferings. But three days before his death, as also an Angel had earlier predicted, he became healthy. In church the monk took leave of all the brethren and communed the Holy Mysteries. Then, having bowed down before the grave of Abba Antonii, the Monk Pimen pointed out the place for his burial and he himself carried to it an earlier prepared coffin. He pointed out there to the buried, one after the other of the monks, and he predicted, that the brethren would find buried one in schema-garb to be without it, since this monk had led a life unworthy of it; this other monk, who had been buried without the schema, would however be attired in it after death, since he had much wished this during his life and he was worthy. After the death of the Monk Pimen, the brethren became persuaded of the perspicacity of his words. On the day of the repose of the Monk Pimen, three fiery columns appeared over the refectory, and moved atop the church. A similar event was described in the chronicles under 11 February 1110 (Vide the 5 August commemoration of Sainted Theoktist of Chernigov), wherefore also the day of demise of the Monk Pimen is surmised as occurring on 11 February 1110.
The relics of the Monk Pimen rest in the Antoniev Cave.
A second commemoration of the saint is made on 28 September, together with the Sobor-Assemblage of the Monks of the Nearer Caves.
The Monk Pimen, Faster of Pechersk, asceticised in the Farther Caves. His abstinence was such, that he tasted of food only once a day and only in the most necessary quantity. His outward fasting corresponded to an inward abstemiousness from any actions, thoughts or feelings, unpleasing to God. The Monk Pimen was hegumen of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery from 1132 to 1141. A second commemoration to the saint occurs on 28 August.
The Monk Merkurii of Pechersk, Bishop of Smolensk, asceticised at the Nearer Caves. The account about him is located under 24 November.
The Martyr Asterias lived during the reign of the pagan emperors Valerian (253-259) and his son Gallienus (260-268). Being a Roman senator, Asterias nonetheless held firmly to the Christian faith, in spite of the persecutions occurring during those times. One time, being in Palestine, he came to the city of Caesarea Philippi, where by custom a pagan feast was made with the offering of sacrifice to an idol. The demon residing in the idol made the sacrifice become invisible, and this was looked upon as a great wonder. Saint Asterias by prayer expelled the demon. The sacrifice ceased to become invisible, and the pagans ceased to make this impious solemnity. Saint Asterias also happened to be present at the sufferings of the Martyr Marin (Comm. 16 December). When the execution was over, he took off his senatorial garb, spread it upon the ground and wrapped in it the head and body of the Martyr Marin. On his own shoulders he carried the remains of the martyr to the graveyard and reverently consigned them to earth. For doing this he was himself sentenced to death and beheaded in the year 260.
The Monk Horus (IV Century) in his youthful years withdrew into the Thebaid wilderness and asceticised in complete solitude for many years, leading the life of a strict hermit. Having gotten up in years, the Monk Horus was granted to see an Angel, which announced, that the Lord had destined him for the salvation of the many people, who would seek his guidance.
After this, the monk began to accept everyone who came to him for advice and help. The Lord granted him a gift of reading the Holy Scripture, despite the fact that the saint since childhood had not been taught reading and writing. Gradually around the Monk Horus there formed a large monastery, in which the holy elder was the spiritual guide. The monk never entered the refectory for the tasting of food, nor ate of it on the day of partaking the Holy Mysteries. He often taught the brethren by means of stories about the temptations, which might beset a monk living in solitude. But he always told it such that everyone would know literally that it was in regard to wilderness-dwellers known to him. The monk concealed his own ascetic exploits. One time, back when the saint still lived with only one disciple, that one brought to his attention the approach of Holy Pascha. The Monk Horus immediately stood up at prayer, and raising his hands, he stood thus for 3 days under the open sky, in contemplation of God. He thereupon explained to his disciple, that for the monk every feastday, and especially Pascha, consists in this -- to remove oneself from everything mundane,, and to come nigh in heart and thought to God.
All the thoughts and doings of his disciples was revealed to the Monk Horus, and no one dared to lie to him. Having survived well into old age, the Monk Horus founded several monasteries, comprising altogether as many as 1,000 monastics. He died at age 90 in about the year 390.
The Monastic Martyress Potamia the Wonderworker died under the sword. But sometimes the saint is incorrectly listed as the Monk Potamius the Wonderworker.
The Monk Dometios was an Athonite elder. He pursued silence at the Philotheos monastery together with the MonkMartyr Damian the Philotheite (Comm. 23 February), who suffered under cruel tortures by the Turks in the year 1568.
Sainted Emelian, Bishop of Kyzika, lived during the reign of the Iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820). He was summoned together with other bishops to the court of the emperor, who insistently urged the bishops to refrain from the veneration of holy icons. Saint Emelian was the first firmly to answer the emperor, that the question about the veneration of holy icons ought to be discussed and decided only within the Church by spiritual personages, and not at the imperial court. In the year 815 he was sent to prison for the Orthodox faith, where he died as a confessor.
The Monk Gregory, Iconographer of Pechersk, was a colleague of the Monk Alypii of Pechersk (Comm. 17 August). In the "Accounts about the holy iconographers" it says, that he wrote many a wonderworking icon located throughout the Russian Land. In the 9th Ode of the Canon of the Service to the Sobor-Assemblage of the Kievo-Pechersk Monastics, Reposed within the Nearer Caves (Comm. 28 September) -- the Monk Gregory is termed a "byzantine". This signifies possibly that he was among the number of iconographers who had come from Constantinople to Kiev for the embellishing of the Great Church of the monastery, in honour of the Dormition-Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God.
Sainted Myron, Bishop of Crete, a wonderworker, in his youth was a family man, and worked at farming. He was known for his goodness, and he assisted everyone who turned to him for help. One time a thieves burst in upon his threshing floor, and Saint Myron himself helped them raise up a sack of grain upon their shoulders. By his generosity the saint so shamed the thieves, that in future they began to lead honourable lives. Out of profound respect for the saint, the Cretan people urged him to accept the dignity of presbyter in his native city of Raucia, and afterwards they chose him bishop of Crete. Wisely ruling his flock, Saint Myron received from the Lord the gift of wonderworking. At the time of a flood on the River Triton, the saint stopped its flow and went upon it as upon dry land, and then he sent a man back to the river with his staff with a command for the river to resume its course. Saint Myron reposed to God at age 100 in about the year 350.
Saint Euthymius was abbot of the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. In the chronicles of the monastery he is commemorated as a “man of many labors.”
According to the 19th-century historian Prince John Bagrationi, Euthymius was a philosopher and theologian and an outstanding preacher. He dedicated his life to improving the monastery and rebuilt the nearby village of Khashmi, which had been utterly razed by Dagestani thieves. In Khashmi he constructed a mill and planted a vineyard with a rare variety of grapes. He adorned the monastery and expanded the estate surrounding the complex. At his instruction, a great number of theological works were translated, and many rare books were recopied. St. Euthymius instructed several of his pupils in philosophy and theology as well.
After receiving a commission from Bishop Saba of Ninotsminda, St. Euthymius composed an Akathist hymn to St. Nino the Equal to-the-Apostles and Enlightener of Georgia.
In 1797 the black plague broke out in Tbilisi and residents fled from the city. Like true guardian angels, monastics and hermits abandoned their isolated cells and arrived to minister to the sick and the suffering. As he had in so many other worthy endeavors, St. Euthymius served as the leader and inspiration behind these works of mercy.
The pious Euthymius reposed peacefully in the year 1804.
The Martyrs Eleutherias and Leonides were cast into a fire at a youthful age during one of the persecutions against Christians.
The Monk Gregory the Sinaite was born in about the year 1268 in the seacoast village of Clazomeneia near the city of Smyrna (Asia Minor), of rich parents. In about the year 1290 he was taken into captivity by the Hagarites and sent off to Laodicea. After gaining his freedom, the saint arrived on the island of Cyprus, where he was tonsured a monk. He set off afterwards to Mount Sinai and there assumed the great schema. Having fulfilled his obediences of cook and baker, and then as writer-copyist, surpassing all in reading and knowledge of Scriptural and patristic books. The strictness of his life (fasting, vigil, psalmody, standing at prayer) brought some to astonishment and others to envy. Departing the monastery, the monk visited Jerusalem. For some time he lived on the island of Crete, and afterwards he made the rounds on Athos with its monasteries and ascetics. By such manner he acquired the experience of the monastic life of many centuries from the ancient monasteries. Only after this did the Monk Gregory the Sinaite settle himself in a solitary place for "hesychia" ["mystic quiet" doing the Jesus Prayer] -- a cell for silence and unhindered pursuit of mental prayer, combined with hard monastic work.
The precious legacy of the Monk Gregory is in his precepts about the inner life, 15 chapters about silence, and 142 chapters about the commandments, where he says, that "one seeking to comprehend the commandments without fulfilling them, and through study and reading to find that which is desired, is like a man imagining a fantasy in place of truth". The monk is reknown also as a remarkable writer of song, -- to him is ascribed the "Mete it is in truth" ("Dostoino est vo istinu"), and a canon to the MostHoly Trinity read at Sunday vigil, and a canon to the holy Cross. In a canon-book (from the year 1407) of the Monk Kirill (Cyril) of Belozersk (+ 9 June 1427) is found the "Canon of propitiation to the Lord Jesus Christ, -- a work of Gregory the Sinaite". Through his concern for the spreading of monastic deeds, the monk founded several cells on Athos, and also four laura-monasteries in Thrace. The Monk Gregory the Sinaite died in the year 1310 (some historians suggest the year 1346) at his so-called "Concealed" ("Parariseia") monastery, founded in the mountains of Macedonia for the strict followers of his life.
The New Martyr Triandaphyllus, a native of Zagora, Magnesia (in Thessaly), was beheaded by the Turks at Constantinople in the year 1680 for his refusal to reject Christ and accept Islam. He was only fifteen years old when he received the crown of victory from Christ.
The Holy Apostle Matthias was born at Bethlehem, and was a descendent of the Tribe of Judah. From his early childhood he studied the Law of God in accord with the Books of Scripture under the guidance of Saint Simeon the God-Receiver. When the Lord Jesus Christ revealed Himself to the world, Saint Matthias believed in Him as the Messiah, followed constantly after Him and was numbered amongst the Seventy Disciples, whom the Lord "did send by twos before His face" (Lk. 10: 1). After the Ascension of the Saviour, Saint Matthias was chosen by lot to replace amongst the 12 Apostles the fallen-away Judas Iscariot (Acts 1: 15-26). After the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Matthias preached the Gospel at Jerusalem and in Judea together with the other Apostles (Acts 6: 2, 8: 14). From Jerusalem he went with the Apostles Peter and Andrew to Syrian Antioch, and was in the Cappadocian city of Tianum and Sinope. Here the Apostle Matthias was locked into prison, from which he was miraculously freed by the Apostle Andrew the First-Called. The Apostle Matthias journeyed after this to Amasia, a city on the shore of the sea. During a 3 year journey of the Apostle Andrew, Saint Matthias was with him at Edessa and Sebasteia. According to Church tradition, he was preaching at Pontine AEthiopia (presently Western Gruzia / Georgia) and Macedonia. He was frequently subjected to deadly peril, but the Lord preserved him alive to further preach the Gospel. One time pagans forced the apostle to drink a poison potion. The apostle drank it and not only did he himself remain unharmed, but he also healed other prisoners which had been blinded by the potion. When Saint Matthias left the prison, the pagans searched for him in vain -- since he had become invisible to them. Another time, when the pagans had become enraged intending to kill the apostle, the earth opened up and engulfed them. The Apostle Matthias returned to Judea and did not cease with the enlightening of his countrymen with the light of Christ's teachings. He worked great miracles in the Name of the Lord Jesus and he converted a great many to faith in Christ. The Jewish High-Priest Ananias hated Christ and earlier had commanded the Apostle James, Brother of the Lord, to be flung down from the heights of the Temple, and now he ordered that the Apostle Matthias be arrested and brought for judgement before the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem. The impious Ananias uttered a speech in which he blasphemously slandered the Lord. By way of answer, the Apostle Matthias pointed out in the prophesies of the New Testament, that Jesus Christ -- is the True God, the Messiah promised Israel by God, the Son of God, Consubstantial and Co-Eternal with God the Father. After these words the Apostle Matthias was sentenced to death by the Sanhedrin and stoned. When Saint Matthias was already dead, the Jews, to hide their malefaction, cut off his head as being an enemy of Caesar. (According to several historians, the Apostle Matthias was crucified on a cross, and indicate that he instead died at Colchis). The Apostle Matthias received the martyr's crown of death for Christ in about the year 63.
The Martyr Anthony, a native of the city of Alexandria, was a Christian. For his confession of faith they tied him to a tree and tore at his body with iron, and then sentenced him to burning. Standing already amidst the bon-fire, he calmly exhorted those standing about to toil not for body for soul in aspiring towards God. After the bon-fire flared up, the body of the saint remained unharmed. The time of his end is unknown.
The Monk Psoe was a disciple of the Monk Pakhomios the Great (Comm. 15 May) and lived during the IV Century in the Egyptian wilderness.
The Martyrs Julian, Marcian, John, James, Alexis, Demetrios, Photios, Peter, Leontios, Maria the Patrician, the Protospatharion ("Sword-Captain") Gregory and Others suffered for holy icons in the year 730 under the Iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian (717-741). The emperor deposed the holy Patriarch Germanos (715-730) from the patriarchal throne and sent him off to prison, raising up onto the patriarchal throne the iconoclast Athanasias (730-753). By decree of the emperor, all icons were to be confiscated from homes and churches and then destroyed. At Constantinople from the time of the holy nobleborn emperor Constantine the Great (324-337) there was over the so-called "Copper Gates" a wonderworking icon of the Saviour, wrought from copper. The emperor and heretic-patriarch Anastasias gave orders to seize this icon. The gathered crowd became outraged at this sacrilege. And in the crowd was the Patrician Maria, a woman of illustrious family, who with many others rushed to the ladder and pulled it from the wall to keep the soldier from touching the icon. The ladder came down, and the soldier standing on it fell to his death. This occurred on 19 January 730. The Protospatherion ("Sword-Captain") Gregorios and the Martyr-Nun Theodosia (Comm. 29 May) also took part in the defense of the icon. Learning of this, the emperor gave over to death a multitude of the faithful -- the names and number of which are known only to the Lord. The Protospatherion Gregory also received a martyr's death. But there are known some of the Orthodox among those -- Julian, Marcian, John, James, Alexis, Demetrios, Leontios, Photios and Peter -- who were locked up in prison and kept there for about 8 months, each day being beaten with 500 blows; in these torments they remained alive by the power of Christ and bravely endured their sufferings. By order of the emperor were burnt with red-hot iron and their heads cut off. Saint Maria the Patrician, who had not been locked up in prison, learning about the approaching executions, voluntarily accepted a martyr's death. The bodies of the martyrs were buried in a pelagic (seashore) area near the church of the holy Mary Theodore and were uncovered unperished 139 years later.
The Monk Makarii of Oredezhsk was a student of the Monk Alexander of Svirsk (+ 30 August 1533). He pursued asceticism at the River Oredezha at Lake Ladoga, where he founded a monastery. He died in the year 1532.
The Martyrs ArchDeacon Lawrence, Pope Sixtus, Deacons Felicissimus and Agapitus, the Soldier Romanus, -- Romans, suffered in the year 258 under the emperor Valerian. Holy Pope Sixtus, born at Athens, received a fine education, preached in Spain and was made bishop in Rome following the martyr's death of Holy Pope Stephen (253-257, Comm. 2 August). these were times when a pope occupying the Roman throne, was known to choose death for the faith. In a short while Saint Sixtus also was arrested and put in prison together with his deacons Felicissimus and Agapitus. When the holy archdeacon Lawrence visited Pope Sixtus, whom they held in prison, he cried out with tears: "Whither art thou gone, father? Why hast thou forsaken thine archdeacon, with whom always thou hast offered the Bloodless Sacrifice? Take thy son with thee, that I may be thy companion in having blood shed for Christ!" Saint Sixtus answered him: "I have not forsaken thee, my son. I am old and go to an easy death, but yet greater sufferings await thee. Know, that after three days upon our death thou shalt follow after me. And now go, take the church treasury and distribute it to the poor and needy Christians". Saint Lawrence zealously did the bidding of the sainted-hierarch.
Having heard, that Pope Sixtus had been taken to trial with the deacons, Saint Lawrence went there so as to witness their deed, and he said to the sainted-bishop: "Father, I have already fulfilled thy command, and distributed by hand thine treasury; forsake me not!" Hearing something about treasure, soldiers put him under guard, and the other martyrs were beheaded (+ 6 August 258). The emperor locked up Saint Lawrence in prison and ordered the chief jailer Hyppolitus to keep watch over him. In prison Saint Lawrence with prayer healed the sick gathered together with him and he baptised many. Astonished by this, Hyppolitus himself believed and accepted Baptism from Saint Lawrence together with all his household. Soon the archdeacon Lawrence was again brought to the emperor and commanded to produce the hidden treasure. Saint Lawrence answered: "Give me a period of three days, and I shalt show thee this treasure". During this time the saint gathered up a crowd of the poor and the sick, who ate only because of the charity of the Church, and bringing them he explained: "Here are the vessels in which is contained the treasure. And everyone, who puts their treasure in these vessels, will receive them in abundance in the Heavenly Kingdom".
After this they gave Saint Lawrence over to fierce tortures, urging him to worship idols. The martyr was scourged (with a fine iron flail with sharp needles), they burned his wounds with fire, and struck at him with metal switches. At the time of the martyr's suffering, the soldier Romanus suddenly cried out: "Saint Lawrence, I behold a bright youth, who standeth about thee healing thy wounds. Beseech thy Lord Christ not to forsake me!" After this they stretched Saint Lawrence on a rack and returned him to prison to Hyppolitus. Romanus brought there a waterpot with water and besought the martyr to baptise him. And immediately after the Baptism of the soldier, he was beheaded (+ 9 August). When they took Saint Lawrence to his final torture, Saint Hyppolitus wanted to declare himself a Christian and die together with him, but the confessor said: "Conceal for now thy confession in thy heart. After some length of time I shall summon thee, and thou shalt hear and come unto me. Weep not for me, but rather rejoice, for I go to receive a glorious crown of martyrdom". They placed him in an iron cage, under which they set an intense fire, and the flames of the bon-fire flicked towards the body of the martyr. Saint Lawrence, glancing at the governor, said: "Here now, ye do burn only but one side of my body, turn over the other and do my whole body". Dying, he uttered: "I thank Thee, Lord Jesus Christ, that Thou hast accounted me worthy to enter into Thy gates", -- and with these words he gave up the spirit.
Saint Hyppolitus took the body of the martyr by night, he wrapped it in a shroud with ointments and gave it over to the priest Justin. Over the relics of the martyr in the home of the widow Kyriakia they made an all-night vigil and Divine Liturgy. All the Christians present partook of the Holy Mysteries and with honour they buried the body of the holy martyr Archdeacon Lawrence in a cave on 10 August 258. Saint Hyppolitus and other Christians suffered three days after the death of Saint Lawrence (13 August), as he had foretold them of this.
Blessed Lavrentii, Fool-for-Christ and Kaluzhsk Wonderworker, lived at the beginning of the XVI Century at the distance of an half-verst from old Kaluga near a forest church in honour of the Nativity of Christ, set upon an high hill.
There was a long underground entrance from his dwelling to the church, where he heard Divine-services. He lived also at the home of the Kaluzhsk prince Simeon Ioannovich. It is conjectured, that Blessed Lavrentii was descended from the noble Khitrov boyar lineage, since his name initiates their lineage memorial at the Peremyshl'sk Liotykov monastery, situated in the Kaluzhsk diocese. Blessed Lavrentii went barefoot both winter and summer, in a shirt and sheepskin coat. By the deeds of his own doing he so raised himself up, that while still alive he was glorified by gifts of grace.
When the Crimean Tatars fell upon Kaluga in May 1512, Blessed Lavrentii, then in the home of the prince, suddenly shouted out in a loud voice: "Give me my sharp axe, for the curs fall upon prince Simeon and it is necessary to defend him!" Saying this, he seized the axe and left. Suddenly having come on board ship next the prince, Righteous Lavrentii inspired and encouraged the soldiers, and in that very hour they defeated the enemy. He is depicted in icons with an axe in his right hand, set upon a long axe-handle. It is certain that prince Simeon (+ 1518), owing him his safety, built in his memory a monastery on the place of the saint's deeds.
Blessed Lavrentii died on 10 August 1515, evidently, on his nameday. It is known, that the memory of the saint is honoured also on 8 July.
Blessed Lavrentii was glorified, it seems, in the second half of the XVI Century. Thus, tsar Ivan the Terrible in a gramota of donation to the monastery (1565) wrote: "Monastery of the Nativity of Christ, wherein lieth Lavrentii, Fool-for-Christ". In the Life, the first posthumous miracle is recorded under the year 1621 -- the healing of the paralysed boyar Kologrivov, who became well after doing a molieben to the saint.
The Martyr Archdeacon Euplus suffered in the year 304 under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284-305). He served in the Sicilian city of Catania. Always carrying the Gospel with him, Saint Euplus preached constantly to the pagans about Christ. One time, while he read and explained the Gospel to the gathered crowd, they arrested him and took him to the governor of the city, Calvisianus. Saint Euplus confessed himself a Christian and denounced the impiety of idol-worship. For this they sentenced him to torture. They threw the injured saint into prison, where he dwelt at prayer for 7 days. The Lord issued forth a spring of water into the prison to the martyr for the quenching of his thirst. Brought to trial a second time, strengthened and rejoicing, he again confessed his faith in Christ and denounced the torturer for spilling the blood of innocent Christians. The judge commanded to tear off the ears and chop off the head of the saint. When they led the saint to execution, they hung the Gospel on his neck. Having implored time for prayer, the archdeacon began again to read and explain the Gospel to the people. Many of the pagans believed in Christ. The soldiers took hold of the archdeacon and beheaded him with a sword.
The MonkMartyrs Feodor (Theodore) and Vasilii (Basil) of Pechersk pursued asceticism in the XI Century in the Nearer Caves of Kiev. Saint Feodor distributed his riches to the poor, set off to the monastery and settled into the Varangian Cave, adjoining the Caves of the Monk Feodosii (Theodosii). He dwelt here many years in strict temperance. When the enemy sowed sorrow in him about the giving away of his possessions, Saint Vasilii comforted him: "I implore thee, brother Feodor, forget not the reward; if thou wish possessions, take everything that is mine". The Monk Feodor repented himself and dearly loved as a friend the Monk Vasilii, with whom he lived in the cell. One time the Monk Vasilii during the course of three months was on a monastic errand outside the monastery. The devil, having assumed his form, appeared to the Monk Feodor and indicated that there was a treasure, hidden somewhere in the cave by robbers. The monk wanted still to leave the monastery to buy possessions to live in the world. But when the Monk Vasilii returned, the demonic illusion disappeared. From that time the Monk Feodor started to be more attentive to himself. In order not to be distracted by idle thoughts during moments of inactivity, he set up for himself a millstone and by night he ground grain. Thus by long and zealous ascetic action he freed himself from the passion of avarice.
A report reached prince Mstislav Svyatopolkovich, that the Monk Feodor had found much treasure in the cave. He summoned the monk to him and commanded him to show the spot, where the valuables were hidden. Saint Feodor answered the prince, that indeed he had seen in the cave much gold and vessels, but from temptation he together with the Monk Vasilii had buried them, and God took from him the memory, where it was hidden. Not believing the saint, the prince gave orders to torture him to death. They beat Saint Feodor so much, that his hair-shirt was wet with blood, and then they hung him head-downwards, having put beneathe him a bon-fire. In a drunken condition the prince commanded to torture also Saint Vasilii, and then to kill him with an arrow. Dying, the MonkMartyr Vasilii threw the arrow at the feet of prince Mstislav and predicted that he himself would soon be mortally wounded by it. The prophecy was fulfilled: on 15 July 1099 on the wall of the Vladimir fortress prince Mstislav during the time of an internecine war with David Igorevich was suddenly struck in the chest by an arrow through an opening in the timbers, and on the following night he died. Recognising his own arrow, the prince said: "I die because of the monkmartyrs Vasilii and Feodor".
The Monk Feodor (Theodore), Prince of Ostrozh, gained fame with the construction of churches and by his defense of Orthodoxy in Volynia against the enroachment of Papism. He was descended from the lineage of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir (Comm. 15 July), through a great-grandson Svyatopolk-Michael, prince of Turov (1080-1093) and later GreatPrince of Kiev (+ 1113). The first time the name of the Monk-prince Feodor is mentioned is under the year 1386, when the Polish king Jagiello and the Lithuanian prince Vitovt affirmed for him hereditary possession -- of the Ostrozh district and they augmented the Zaslavsk and Koretsk surroundings. In 1410 the Monk-prince Feodor participated in the defeat of the Teutonic Knights of the Catholic Order at the Battle of Gruenwald. In 1422 the holy prince, because of sympathy to the Orthodox in Bohemia, supported the Hussites in their struggle with the German emperor Sigismund. (The holy prince introduced into Russian military arts a particular tactic -- the Hussite formation, i.e. the Taborite, adopted by the Ukrainian Cossacks). In 1432, having gained a series of victories over the Polish forces, Saint Feodor compelled prince Jagiello to protect by law the freedom of Orthodoxy in Volynia. Prince Svidrigailo, having become apprehensive of the strengthening of his ally, locked the Monk Feodor into prison, but the people loving the saint rose up in rebellion, and he was freed. The Monk Feodor was reconciled with the offender and presented himself to him for help in the struggle with the Lithuanian-Polish parties. In 1438 the holy prince participated in a battle with the Tatars. In 1440 with the entering upon the Polish throne of Cazimir, -- youngest son of prince Jagiello, Saint Feodor received the rights of administration of the city of Vladimir, Dubno, Ostrog, and became possessor of extended holdings of the best regions of Podolia and Volynia. All this together with princely power and fame the Monk Feodor left behind, having entered after 1441 the Kievo-Pechersk monastery where, -- having taken on monasticism with the name Feodosii (Theodosii), he pursued asceticism for the salvation of his soul until the time of his repose to God. The year of repose of the Monk Feodor is unknown, but it is without doubt, that he died in the second half of the XV Century. In extreme old age (S. M. Solov'ev in his "History of Russia" reckons the year of his death as 1483). The monk was buried in the Farther Caves of the Monk Feodosii (the Comm. of Sobor/Assemblage of the Monastic Fathers of the Farther Caves is 28 August). The glorification, apparently, was at the end of the XVI Century, since in the year 1638 the priestmonk Athanasii Kal'nophysky testified, that "the Monk Feodor rests in the Theodosiev Cave discovered whole in body".
The Holy Martyress Susanna the Virgin was the daughter of Presbyter Gavinius and a niece of the Holy Pope of Rome Caius (283-296). She was raised in strict Christian piety and in her youthful years dedicated herself to God. The family of the saint occupied a position of kinship with the emperor Diocletian (284-305), to whom there reached reports about her virtue and beauty. Having decided to give Saint Susanna in marriage to his co-ruling emperor Maximian Hercules (284-305), the emperor sent to presbyter Gavinius his own kinsman the dignitary Claudius, and then his own brother Maximus. Both of them together with the wife of Claudius Prepedigna and her sons Alexander and Cythius -- after conversation with the pious family accepted Baptism. Having learned of this, that the entire family of the imperial kinsfolk had been converted to Christianity, Diocletian sent them into exile. Soon they burned the martyrs at Ostia, not far from Rome, and threw the ashes into the sea. They took the holy virgin Susanna to the palace, and the empress was entrusted to persuade her to submit. But the empress, secretly a Christian, supported the martyress in her intention to preserve her virginity for the sake of the Lord. She explained to the emperor about the unwillingness of the virgin to enter into marriage with a pagan. Diocletian gave permission to his co-ruler to dishonour the holy virgin, but an Angel defended her. [here apparently is a lacuna] Macedonius began to urge the martyress to offer sacrifice to the idols. "I offer myself in sacrifice to my Lord", -- she answered. Then Macedonius cut off the head of the martyress. The empress secretly buried the body of the saint; the room, where the murder occurred, was consecrated into a church by Holy Pope Caius. Soon the father of Saint Susanna -- Presbyter Gavinius -- accepted a martyr's end, as also in the year 296 did Sainted Caius.
The Monk Passarion pursued asceticism in the first half of the V Century. He founded a monastery in Jerusalem. He was "chor-episkop" (vicar-bishop) of Palestine, and conversant with the Monk Euthymios the great (Comm. 20 January).
Saint Mary Sugkletika (i.e. of Senate Rank) was healed by the Image of the Saviour Not-Made-by-Hand, having appeared during the reign of the emperor Tiberias (578-582).
Saint Gaugericus, in French Saint Géry (also known as Gorik, Gau; in Walloon, Djèri) (ca. 550—August 11, ca. 626) was a bishop of Cambrai. He was born to Roman parents, Gaudentius and Austadiola, at ''Eposium'' (present Carignan). Tradition states that the bishop of Trier, Magneric, was so impressed with the piety of the young Gaugericus that he had the young man ordained. Gaugericus filled the see of Cambrai-Arras around 585 at the consent of Childebert II. He was consecrated by Egidius (Aegidius), bishop of Reims. Gaugericus devoted himself to fighting paganism and built the church of St-Médard at Cambrai. He ransomed captives and visited rural districts.
Gaugericus paid his respects to Clotaire II, the new lord of Cambrai after Childebert.
He assisted at the Council of Paris (614). He was buried in the church of St-Médard at Cambrai.
Saint-Géry Island, in Brussels, is named after him.
Saint Nyphontes, Patriarch of Constantinople, was a native of Greece, and accepted monasticism at Epidaurion. After the death of his elder Anthony, he set off to Athos, where he occupied himself by the copying of books. The saint was later chosen Metropolitan of Soluneia (Thessalonika), and still later occupied the Patriarchal throne in Constantinople and was primate of Valakhia. Banished under accusation, the saint set off to Athos at first to the Baptopedia monastery, and then to the monastery of Saint John the Fore-Runner (Dionyisate). He concealed his dignity and held the lowest position. By a particular revelation his dignity was revealed to the brethren of the monastery. Once, when the saint was returning from the forest, where he had gone for firewood, all the brethren went out towards him on the way and solemnly greeted him as Patriarch. But even after this the saint shared various tasks with the brethren. The monk died on 11 August 1460 at 90 years of age.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries the Dagestanis were continually raiding and pillaging the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. They destroyed churches and monasteries, stole sacred objects, and tortured and killed many of the monks who labored there.
A Dagestani army invaded the Davit-Gareji Wilderness in the summer of 1851. They looted the Davit-Gareji Lavra and carried off many of the monastery’s sacred treasures and books. Then they took many of the monks captive and tortured a few of the most pious.
First they stabbed Hierodeacon Otar to death, then they beheaded Hieromonk Gerontius. The unbelievers battered Hieromonk Serapion to death with their swords. Monk Herman was stabbed in the stomach, then beheaded Monk Besarion was also beheaded. The eighteen-year-old Simeon tried to flee on foot but was shot at with bows and arrows, then caught and beheaded. Monk Michael, the most outstanding among the brothers in humility and silence, was subjected to the harshest tortures.
After their martyrdom the bodies of these holy men were illumined with a divine light.
The martyrdom of the holy fathers of the Davit-Gareji Monastery was described in 1853 by Hieromonk Isaac of Gaenati, who witnessed the tragedy. Hieromonk Isaac himself was captured and led away to Dagestan by the merciless bandits. He was later freed through the mediation of Tsar Nicholas I (1825–1855).
The Martyrs Anicetas and Photios (his nephew) were natives of Nicomedia. Anicetas, a military official, denounced the emperor Diocletian (284-305) for having set up in the city square an implement of execution for frightening Christians. The enraged emperor ordered Saint Anicetas to be tortured, and later condemned him to be devoured by wild beasts. But the lions they set loose became gentle and fondled up to him. Suddenly there began a strong earthquake, resulting in the collapse of the pagan temple of Hercules, and many pagans perished beneathe the crumbled city walls. The executioner took up a sword to cut off the saint's head, but he himself fell down insensible. They tried to break Saint Anicetas on the wheel and burn him with fire, but the wheel stopped and the fire went out. They threw the martyr into a furnace with boiling tin, but the tin got cold. Thus the Lord preserved His servant for the edification of many. The martyr's nephew, Saint Photios, saluted the sufferer and turn to the emperor, remarking: "O idol-worshipper, thine gods -- be nothing!" The sword, held over the new confessor, instead struck the executioner himself. Then the martyrs were thrown into prison. After three days Diocletian began to urge them: "Worship our gods, and I shalt give ye glory and riches". The martyrs answered: "Perish thou with thine honour and riches!" Then they tied them by the legs to wild horses, but the saints, dragged along the ground, remained unharmed. They did not suffer either in the heated up bath-house, which tumbled apart. Finally Diocletian ordered a great furnace to be fired up, and many Christians, inspired by the deeds of Saints Anicetas and Photios, went in themselves with the words: "We are Christians!" They all died with prayer on their lips. The bodies of Saints Anicetas and Photios were not harmed by the fire, and even their hair remained whole. seeing this, many of the pagans came to believe in Christ. This event happened in the year 305.
Sainted Alexander, Bishop of Comana, lived during the III Century not far from Neocaesarea. He studied the Holy Scripture and knew many a scientific discipline. Taking upon himself the exploit of holy fool, the saint lived in poverty, occupied with the selling of coal in the city square. Many, seeing his face always black from the grime of the coal flames, sneered at him with contempt. When the bishop of Comana happened to die, then among the candidates put forth for election as new bishop -- one was a man illustrious, others were learned or eloquent, while yet others -- were rich. Then Saint Gregory Thaumatourgos, Bishop of Neocaesarea (Comm. 17 November), having been invited for the ordination of their choice, pointed out, that a bishop ought to have not only outward worthiness and distinction, but foremost of all, a pure heart and holy life. These words caused some to laugh saying: "If outward appearance and nobility of origin be for naught, then even Alexander the collier might be made bishop". Saint Gregory perceived, that it was not without the Providence of God that this man came to be mentioned, and he asked that they call him. The appearance of the saint at the gathering evoked laughter. Having respectfully bowed to Saint Gregory, Saint Alexander stood there deeply absorbed in himself and ignoring the sneering: Saint Gregory put him to the test, and the collier was obliged to reveal, that he was formerly a philosopher, and had studied Holy Scripture, but that for the sake of God he had assumed upon himself voluntary poverty and humility. Saint Gregory then took the collier to his own lodging, where he washed off the grime, and gave him clean clothes. Returning then to the assembled people, Saint Gregory in front of everyone began to put to him questions from Holy Scripture, to which Saint Alexander answered like a knowledgeable and wise pastor. Seeing this, all were astonished at his humility and with one accord they elected him their bishop. Saint Gregory ordained him priest, and later bishop. After the imposition of hands the new bishop spoke a sermon to the people, full of power and the grace of God. And everyone rejoiced, that the Lord had sent them such a wise pastor. Under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) the saint bravely confessed Christ, and refused to worship idols; after tortures they threw him into a fire, and there he reposed to God. According to other sources, Saint Alexander suffered instead under the emperor Decius (249-251).
The Martyrs Pamphylos and Kapiton were beheaded by the sword in the locale of Oliurea near Constantinople.
Sainted Tikhon of Zadonsk, Bishop of Voronezh (in the world Timofei), was born in the year 1724 in the village of Korotska in Novgorod diocese, into the family of the cantor Savelii Kirillov. (A new family name -- Sokolov, was given him afterwards by the head of the Novgorod seminary). After the death of his father in early childhood he lived in such poverty, that his mother was just barely able to make ends meet and she gave him over for raising to a neighbour, a coachman, since there was nothing wherewith to feed the family. Eating only black bread and even that in great moderation, the boy worked for a rich gardener to dig the vegetable beds. As a thirteen year old lad, he was sent to a clergy school near the Novgorod archbishop's home, and in 1740 he was accepted under a state grant set up for the Novgorod seminary. The youth excelled at his studies and upon finishing seminary in 1754 he became a teacher at it, at first in Greek language, and later in rhetoric and philosophy. In the year 1758 he accepted monastic tonsure with the name Tikhon. And in that same year they appointed him to the position of prefect of the seminary. In 1759 they transferred him to Tver', with an elevation to the dignity of archimandrite of the Zheltikov monastery. Later they appointed him rector of the Tver' seminary and at the same time head of the Otrocha monastery. On 13 May 1761 he was ordained bishop of Keksgol'ma and Ladoga (i.e. a vicar bishop of the Novgorod diocese). His ordination was providential. They had proposed that the young archimandrite should transfer to the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra, but at Peterburg during the selection of a Novogorod vicar-bishop, at Pascha, from 8 castings of lots his name came up thrice.
And on this same day the Tver' bishop, Athanasii, without realising it, mentioned him at the Cherubimic hymn commemorations as bishop.
In 1763 Saint Tikhon was transferred to the Voronezh cathedra-seat. Over the course of the four and an half years that he directed the Voronezh diocese, Saint Tikhon provided it constant edification both by his life and by his numerous pastoral guidances and soul-saving books. He wrote down for pastors a whole series of works: "About the Seven Holy Sacramental-Mysteries", "A Supplement to the Priestly Office", "Concerning the Sacrament of Repentance", "An Instruction Concerning the Making of Marriage". The saint considered it especially essential, that each clergy-server have a New Testament, and that it should be read daily. In his "Circular Letter" he called on pastors to make the sacraments with reverence, and with thought on God and love towards brother. (The "Guidances concerning the Proper Duties of Every Christian" was repeatedly republished in Moscow and Peterburg already during the XVIII Century). At Voronezh the saint eradicated an ancient pagan custom -- the celebration in honour of Yarilo [originally a solar springtime pagan god connected with the fertility of grain and cattle]. In the outlying districts where military units of the Don Cossacks were dispersed, he formed a missionary commission to restore sectarians to the Orthodox Church. In 1765, Saint Tikhon transformed the Voronezh Slavic-Latin school into a clergy seminary, and having invited experienced instructors from Kiev and Khar'khov, he worked out for it the teaching courses. He exerted much attention and effort to build up both the churches and the school, and to guide and make pastors understand and be persuaded of the need for education. In administering the vast diocese, the saint was unflagging in his efforts, and he often spent nights without sleep. In 1767 he was compelled because of poor health to give up the running of the diocese and withdraw for rest to the Tolshevsk monastery, at a distance 40 versts from Voronezh. In 1769 the saint transferred over to the Bogoroditsk monastery in the city of Zadonsk. Having settled into this monastery, Saint Tikhon became a great teacher of the Christian life. With deep wisdom he set forth the ideal of true monasticism -- in his "Rule of Monastic Living" and his "Guidances to Turn from the Vanity of the World", and in his own life he fulfilled this ideal. He kept strictly to the directives of the Church, zealously (almost daily) he visited the temple of God, often he himself sang and read in the choir, and with time, out of humility he altogether left off participating and making services and instead but merely stood in the altar, reverently making the sign of the cross over himself. His beloved cell task was in reading the Lives of the Saints and the works of the holy fathers. The Psalter he knew by heart and on journeys he usually read or sang psalms. The saint underwent much tribulation, being devastated over the need of leaving his flock. Having recovered his health, he gave thought to returning to the Novgorod diocese, whither metropolitan Gavriil had invited him to head the Iversk Vallaisk monastery. But when his cell-attendant mentioned about this to the starets-elder Aaron, that one declared: "Art thou mad? The Mother of God doth not direct him to move away from here". The cell-attendant conveyed this to His Grace. "If that be so, -- said the saint, -- I shall not move away from here", -- and he tore up the invitation. Sometimes he journeyed off to the village of Lipovka, where he himself made Divine-services at the Bekhteev house. The saint journeyed also to the Tolshevsk monastery, which he loved for its solitude.
The fruition of all his spiritual life was the works, which the saint wrote while in retirement: "The Spiritual Treasury, Gathered from the World" (1770), and likewise -- "About True Christianity" (1776).
The saint lived in very simple circumstances: he slept on straw, covered by a sheepskin coat. His humility got to be so great, that to the mockery which frequently came his way, the saint did not pay any attention, giving the appearance that he did not hear it, and he was wont to say afterwards: "It thus pleases God, that servants make mockery over me -- and this becometh me because of my sins". He often said in like circumstances: "Forgiveness is better than revenge".
One time a fool named Kamenev struck the saint on the cheek with the words: "Be not so haughty", -- and the saint, having received this with gratitude, daily fed the fool.
All his life the saint "in troubles, and sorrows, and insults hast thou joyfully endured, mindful that there cannot be the crown without the victory, nor victory without effort, nor effort without struggle, nor struggle without enemies" (Song 6 of the Canon).
Strict towards himself, the saint was indulgent towards others. One time on the Friday before the feast of Palm Sunday he entered the cell of his friend the schema-monk Mitrophan, and he saw him at table together with Kozma Ignat'evich, of whom he was also fond. On the table was fish. His friends became upset. But the blessed saint said: "Sit down, for I know ye, and love is higher than fasting". And to further quiet them, he closed his ears to the matter. He especially loved the common folk, he consoled them in their grievous lot, interceding with the landowners, and moving them to compassion. All his pension and gifts from admirers he gave away to the poor.
By his deeds of self-denial and love of soul, the saint advanced in contemplation of Heaven and foresight of the future. In 1778, in a vivid dream he had suchlike a vision: the Mother of God stood in the clouds and around Her were the Apostles Peter and Paul; the saint himself on bended knees besought the All-Pure Virgin to continue showing mercy unto the world. The Apostle Paul loudly exclaimed: "When speak they peace together in affirmation, then wilt befall them unexpected universal destruction". The saint fell asleep in trembling and in tears. In the following year he again saw the Mother of God in the air and around Her several personages; the saint fell down on his knees, and around him at his knees fell four vestments of white attire. The saint besought the All-Pure Virgin for someone in particular, that they not be taken away from him (who this person was and for what the prayer, the saint told not his cell-attendant), and She answered: "Sobeit at thine request". Saint Tikhon predicted much about the fate of Russia, and in particular he spoke about the victory of Russia in the Fatherland War of 1812. More than once did they see the saint in spiritual rapture, with a transformed and luminous face, but he forbade them to speak about this. For three years before his end he each day prayed: "Tell me, O Lord, of my end". And a quiet voice in the morning dawn exclaimed: "On a Sunday". In that same year he saw in a dream a beautiful ray of light and upon it wondrous palaces and he wanted to go inside the doors, but they said to him: "Three years hence thou canst enter herein, but now work on". After this the saint secluded himself in his cell and admitted only but a few friends. For his death the saint readied both clothing and grave: he often came to weep over his grave, standing hidden from people in a closet. A year and three months before his death in a vivid dream it occurred to the saint, that he was standing in the monastery chapel-church and a priest acquaintance was carrying from the altar to the royal doors an image of the Divine Infant beneathe a veil. The saint approached and gave kiss to the Infant at the right cheek, and he felt himself stricken on the left. Awakening, the saint sensed a numbness in his left cheek, his left leg, and a trembling in his left hand. He accepted this illness with joy. Shortly before his death, the saint saw in a dream an high and twisting ladder and he heard a command to climb up upon it. "I, -- as he related to his close friend Kozma, -- at first was afraid because of weakness. But when I started to go up, the people standing around the ladder, it seemed, helped me to go higher and higher to the very clouds". "The ladder, -- he explained to Kozma, -- is the pathway to the Heavenly Kingdom; helpful to thee -- are those things which be useful guidances to thee and of remembrance to thee". The saint said with tears: "I myself do think this: the feeling that the end is nigh". During the time of his illness he frequently communed the Holy Mysteries.
Saint Tikhon died, as revealed to him, on Sunday 13 August 1783, at 59 years of age. The glorification of the saint likewise was done on a Sunday -- 13 August 1861.
Saint Irene was the wife of the Byzantine emperor John II Comnenos (1118-1143). She was very pious, and unequaled in her philanthropic works. Instead of spending her money on jewelry, cosmetics, or other worldly vanities, St Irene used her wealth to care for the poor and the sick. One of her greatest projects was the building of the royal monastery of the Pantocrator in Constantinople, the largest, most beautiful of all the City's monasteries.
The Church of Christ has numbered her among the saints because of her piety, philanthropy, as well as for her determination to live her life according to the Gospel, and her patronage of this monastery.
Toward the end of her life, St Irene was tonsured as a nun with the name Xenia. She died in Bithynia in 1124, but she and her husband were buried in the monastery she had founded.
The Martyr Hyppolitus was a chief prison guard at Rome under the emperors Decius and Valerian (249-259). He was converted to Christ by the Martyr Lawrence (Comm. 10 August), and he gave burial to the martyr's body.
They reported about this to the emperor, who had Saint Hyppolitus arrested and, in mockery, asked: "Art thou then into sorcery, to have stolen away the body of Lawrence?" The saint confessed himself a Christian. They began to beat at him fiercely with canes. In answer they heard only the repeated words: "I am a Christian". The emperor gave orders to clothe Saint Hyppolitus in his soldier's attire and said: "Be mindful of thy calling and be our friend, offer sacrifice to the gods together with us, just as before". But the martyr answered: "I am a soldier of Christ, my Saviour, and I do desire to die for Him". They then confiscated all his property, and whipped his foster-mother, the Martyress Concordia, with olive switches, and they beheaded all his household before the very eyes of Saint Hyppolitus. The saint himself they tied to wild horses, which dragged him over the stones to his death. This occurred on 13 August 258, the third day after the martyr's death of Archdeacon Lawrence, just as he had predicted it to Saint Hyppolitus.
By night presbyter Justin gave burial to all the martyrs at the place of execution. But the body of Saint Concordia had been thrown into an unclean place at Rome. After a certain while two Christians, the Martyrs Ireneius and Avundius, learned from a certain soldier where the body of the martyress had been thrown, and they buried it alongside Saint Hyppolitus. For this, on 26 August they were drowned, just as had been the martyress. Christians by night took up the bodies of the martyrs and buried them by the relics of the holy Archdeacon Lawrence.
St. Radegund (also spelled Rhadegund, Radegonde, Radigund) (ca. 520–586) was a 6th century Frankish princess, who founded the monastery of the Holy Cross at Poitiers. Canonized in the 9th century, she is the patron saint of several English churches and of Jesus College, Cambridge.
Radegund was born about 520 to Bertachar, one of the three kings of the German land Thuringia. Radegund's uncle, Hermanfrid, killed Bertachar in battle, and took Radegund into his household. After allying with the Frankish King Theuderic, Hermanfrid defeated his other brother Baderic. However, having crushed his brothers and seized control of Thuringia, Hermanfrid reneged on his agreement with Theuderic to share sovereignty.
In 531, Theuderic returned to Thuringia with his brother Clotaire I. Together they defeated Hermanfrid and conquered his kingdom. Clotaire I also took charge of Radegund, taking her back to Merovingian Gaul with him and making her his wife.
Radegund was one of Clotaire I’s six wives or concubines (the other five being Guntheuca who was the widow of his brother Chlodomer, Chunsina, Ingund, Ingund’s sister Aregund and Wuldetrada the widow of Clotaire's grand-nephew Theudebald). She bore him no children, and, after Clotaire I had her brother assassinated, she turned to God, founding a nunnery in Poitiers.
St. Wigbert was a companion of St. Boniface, born in England about 675; died at Hersfeld about 746. Positive biographical accounts of him are scanty; he had several contemporaries of the same name, and it is difficult to decide in all instances to which Wigbert the different details belong. In 836 Servatus Lupus wrote a life of Wigbert, but this contains very few clear historical data while it relates in detail the purity of Wigbert's morals, his zeal for souls, charity, familiarity with the Bible, knowledge of theology, skill in teaching, enthusiasm for monastic life, and the faithfulness with which he fulfilled his duties. Boniface called him from England. Wigbert was certainly older than Boniface. A letter from a priest name Wigbert to the fathers and brethren in Glestingaburg (Glastonbury) in Somersetshire is preserved. It has been supposed that the writer was St. Wigbert and therefore a monk of Glastonbury, but this is not probable. He went to Germany about 734, and Boniface made him abbot of the monastery of Hersfeld in Hesse; among his pupils there was St. Sturmi, the first Abbot of Fulda. About 737 Boniface transferred him to Thuringia as Abbot of Ohrdruf, where he worked with the same success as in Hersfeld. Later Wigbert obtained Boniface's permission to return to Hersfeld to spend his remaining days in quiet and to prepare for death; notwithstanding old age and illness he continued his austere mode of life until his end. He was first buried at Fritzlar in an inconspicuous grave, but during an incursion of the Saxons (774) his remains were taken for safety to Buraburg, and from there, in 780 by Archbishop Lullus transferred to Hersfeld, where in 850 a beautiful church was built to him; this was burned in 1037. A great fire in 1761 destroyed the new church (dedicated, 1144) and consumed the saint's bones, or else they crumbled in the ruins. The veneration of Wigbert flourished especially in Hesse and Thuringia. At the present day he is venerated only in the dioceses of Mainz, Fulda, and Paderborn.
The Prophet Micah, the 6th of the Twelve Minor Prophets, was descended from the Tribe of Judah and was a native of the city of Morastha, to the south of Jerusalem, wherefore he was called a Morasthite. His prophetic service began around the year 778 before the Birth of Christ and continued for almost 50 years under the kings of Judah -- Joatham, Akhaz, and Righteous Hezekiah (721-691 B.C., Comm. 28 August).
He was a contemporary of the Prophet Isaiah. His denunciations and predictions were in regard to the separate kingdoms both of Judah and of Israel. He foresaw the misfortunes, threatening the kingdom of Israel before its destruction, and to Judah, during the incursions under the Assyrian emperor Sennacherib. To him belongs a prophecy about the birth of the Saviour of the world: "And thou, Bethlehem, house of Euphratha, though small wilt be in the thousands of Judah, from thee to Me wilt come an eldest, that will be King in Israel, Whose coming forth is from the beginning of days forever" (Mic. 5: 2). From the words of the Prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 26: 18-19), the Jews evidently were afraid to kill the Prophet Micah. His relics were discovered in the IV Century after the Birth of Christ at Baraphsatia, through a revelation to the bishop of Eleutheropolis, Zeuinos.
Saint Arcadius of Vyazma and Novy Torg was from the city of Vyazma of pious parents, who from childhood taught him prayer and obedience. The gentle, perceptive, prudent and good youth chose for his ascetic feat of being a fool-for-Christ. He lived by alms, and slept wherever he found himself, whether in the forest, or on the church portico.
His blessed serenity and closeness to nature imparted to the figure of young Arcadius a peculiar spiritual aspect and aloofness from worldly vanity. In church, when absorbed in prayer, St Arcadius often wept tears of tenderness and spiritual joy. Though he seldom spoke, his advice was always good, and his predictions were fulfilled.
An experienced guide, St Ephraim the Wonderworker of Novy Torg (January 28), helped the young ascetic to avoid spiritual dangers while passing through the difficult and unusual exploit of foolishness. After this the people of Vyazma witnessed several miracles, worked through the prayers of Blessed Arcadius, but the saint fled human fame and traveled along the upper Tvertsa River. Here St Arcadius shared the work with his spiritual guide St Ephraim, and with him founded a church and monastery in honor of the holy Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb (May 2).
Entering into the newly-built monastery, St Arcadius became a monk and took upon himself the exploit of full obedience to his spiritual Father, St Ephraim. St Arcadius never missed Liturgy and he was always the first to appear for Matins together with his spiritual guide. After St Ephraim's repose (January 28, 1053), St Arcadius continued to pursue asceticism in accord with the last wishes of his Elder, dwelling in prayer, fasting and silence. After several years, he also fell asleep in the Lord (December 13, 1077).
In 1594, a chapel dedicated to St Arcadius was built in one of the churches of Vyazma. A combined celebration of Sts Arcadius and Ephraim was established by Metropolitan Dionysius in the years 1584-1587. The relics of St Arcadius, glorified by miracles of healing, were uncovered on June 11, 1572, and on July 11, 1677, they were placed in a stone crypt of Sts Boris and Gleb cathedral in the city of Novy Torg (New Market). In 1841, the left side chapel of Sts Boris and Gleb cathedral church was dedicated in honor of St Arcadius. The solemn celebration of the 300th anniversary of the uncovering of the holy relics of St Arcadius took place in the city of Novy Torg in July of 1977. He is also commemorated on August 14 and June 11 (Transfer of his relics).
The PriestMartyr Marcellus, Bishop of Apameia, was born of illustrious parents on the island of Cyprus. Having received a fine education, he occupied an high civil office, giving all to marvel at his purity of life, mildness, kindness and eloquence. In about the year 375, having left behind his wife and children, the saint devoted himself to a wilderness-monastic life in Syria. The people of Apameia, having gotten him to come to the city on some practical matter, chose him as bishop. From the account of Theodorit of Cyr it is known about him, that having received permission from the holy emperor Saint Theodosius the Great (379-395) to destroy a strongly built temple of Jupiter at Apameia, the saint was puzzled on how to accomplish this. A certain worker promised to help him. He undermined three of the huge columns, propping them up for the while with olive wood, and then he tried to set them afire, but the wood would not burn. When Saint Marcellus learned about this, he made in church the lesser order of the Blessing of Water, and he commanded that this water be faithfully sprinkled about the wood. After this the wood burned quickly, the columns fell down and the whole pagan temple collapsed in upon itself. When soldiers near Aulona in the Apameia district demolished still another pagan temple, the saint, watching from a distance, was seized by pagans and thrown into a fire (+ c. 389). The killers were found, and the sons of the saint wanted to take revenge, but the Local Council forbade them this, decreeing that it would be wrong to avenge suchlike a death as the saint had received, in that for such one mustneeds give thanks to God.
The "Falling-Asleep" or "Repose" ("Dormition", "Uspenie", "Koimesis") of our MostHoly Lady Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary: After the Ascension of the Lord, the Mother of God remained in the care of the Apostle John the Theologian, and during his journeyings She lived at the home of his parents, near Mount Eleon (the Mount of Olives, or Mount Olivet). She was a source of consolation and edification for both the Apostles and for all the believers. Conversing with them, She told them about miraculous happenings: the Annuniciation (Blagoveschenie), the Conception (Zachatie) without seed and without defilement of Christ born of Her, about His early childhood, and about all His earthly life. And just like the Apostles, She helped plant and strengthen the Christian Church by Her presence, Her discourse and Her prayers. The reverence of the Apostles for the MostHoly Virgin was extraordinary. After the receiving of the Holy Spirit on the remarkable day of Pentecost, the Apostles remained basically at Jerusalem for about 10 years attending to the salvation of the Jews, and wanting moreover to see the Mother of God and hear Her holy discourse. Many of the newly-enlightened in the faith even came from faraway lands to Jerusalem, to see and to hear the All-Pure Mother of God.
During the time of the persecution, initiated by king Herod against the young Church of Christ (Acts 12: 1-3), the MostHoly Virgin together with the Apostle John the Theologian withdrew in the year 43 to Ephesus. The preaching of the Gospel there had fallen by lot to the Apostle John the Theologian. The Mother of God was likewise on Cyprus with Saint Lazarus the Four-Days-Entombed, where he was bishop. She was also on Holy Mount Athos, about which, as says Saint Stephen Svyatogorets (i.e. Saint Stephen of the "Holy Mount"), the Mother of God prophetically spoke: "This place shalt be allotted Me, given unto Me by My Son and My God. I wilt be the Patroness for this place and Intercessor to God for it".
The respect of ancient Christians for the Mother of God was so great, that they preserved what they could about Her life, what they could take note of concerning Her sayings and deeds, and they even passed down to us the regards of Her outward appearance.
According to tradition, based on the words of the PriestMartyrs Dionysios the Areopagite (+ 3 October 96), Ignatios the God-Bearer (+ 20 December 107), -- Sainted Ambrose of Mediolanum-Milan (Comm. 7 December) had occasion to write in his work "On Virgins" concerning the Mother of God: "She was the Virgin not only of body, but also of soul, humble of heart, circumspect in word, wise in mind, not overly given to speaking, a lover of reading and of work, and prudent in speech. Her rule of life was -- offend no one, intend well for everyone, respect the aged, be not envious of others, avoid bragging, be healthy of mind, and love virtue. When did She ever in the least hurl an insult in the face of Her parents, when was She at discord with Her kin? When did She ever puff up haughtily before a modest person, or laugh at the weak, or shun the destitute? With Her there was nothing of glaring eyes, nothing of unseemly words, nor of improper conduct: She was modest of body-movement, Her step was quiet, and Her voice straightforward; -- such that Her bodily visage was an expression of soul, and personification of purity. All Her days She was concerned with fasting: She slept only when necessary, and even then, when Her body was at rest, She was still alert in spirit, repeating in Her dreams what She had read, or the pondered implementation of proposed intentions, or those planned yet anew. She was out of Her house only for church, and then only in the company of kin. Otherwise, She but little appeared outside Her house in the company of others, and She was Her own best overseer; others could protect Her only in body, but She Herself guarded Her character". [trans. note: In context, we must realise that Saint Ambrose wrote this discourse in exhortation to young women to conduct themselves maturely and with concern for the reputation of their good-name, an exhortation equally incumbent upon young men].
According to tradition, that from the compiler of Church history Nicephoros Kallistos (XIV Century), the Mother of God "was of average stature, or as others suggest, slightly more than average; Her hair golden in appearance; Her eyes bright with pupils like shiny olives; Her eyebrows strong in character and moderately dark, Her nose pronounced and Her mouth vibrant bespeaking sweet speech; Her face was neither round nor angular, but somewhat oblong; the palm of Her Hands and fingers were longish... In conversation with others She preserved decorum, neither becoming silly nor agitated, and indeed especially never angry; without artifice, and direct, She was not overly concerned about Herself, and far from any pampering of Herself, She was distinctly full of humility. Regarding the clothing which She wore, She was satisfied to have natural colours, which even now is evidenced by Her holy head-covering. Suffice it to say, an especial grace attended all Her actions". (Nicephoros Kallistos borrowed his description from Sainted Epiphanios of Cyprus, + 12 May 403, from the "Letter to Theophilos concerning icons".
The circumstances of the Falling-Asleep or Dormition of the Mother of God were known in the Orthodox Church from times apostolic. Already in the I Century, the PriestMartyr Dionysios the Areopagite wrote about Her "Falling-Asleep". In the II Century, the account about the bodily Assumption of the MostHoly Virgin Mary to Heaven is found in the works of Meliton, Bishop of Sardis. In the IV Century, Saint Epiphanios of Cyprus refers to the tradition about the "Falling-Asleep" of the Mother of God. In the V Century Sainted Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem, told the holy Byzantine empress Pulcheria: "Although in Holy Scripture there be no account about the circumstances of Her end, we know about them otherwise from the most ancient and credible tradition". This tradition in detail was gathered and expounded in the Church history of Nicephoros Kallistos during the XIV Century.
At the time of Her blessed "Falling-Asleep", the MostHoly Virgin Mary was again at Jerusalem. Her fame as the Mother of God had already spread throughout the land and had aroused against Her many of the envious and the spiteful, who wanted to make attempts on Her life; but God preserved Her from enemies.
Day and night She spent at prayer. The MostHoly Mother of God went often to the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord, and here She offered up incense and the bending of knees. More than once enemies of the Saviour sought to hinder Her from visiting her holy place, and they besought of the high-priest a guard to watch over the Grave of the Lord. But the Holy Virgin Mary, unseen by anyone, continued to pray in front of them. In one suchlike visit to Golgotha, the Archangel Gabriel appeared before Her and announced Her approaching transfer from this life into the Heavenly life of eternal beatitude. In pledge of this, the Archangel entrusted Her a palm branch. With these Heavenly tidings the Mother of God returned to Bethlehem with the three girls attending Her (Sepphora, Evigea and Zoila). She thereupon summoned Righteous Joseph of Aramathea and other disciples of the Lord, and told them of Her impending Repose (Uspenie). The MostHoly Virgin prayed also, that the Lord would have the Apostle John come to Her. And the Holy Spirit transported him from Ephesus, setting him alongside that very place, where lay the Mother of God. After the prayer, the MostHoly Virgin offered up incense, and John heard a voice from Heaven, closing Her prayer with the word "Amen". The Mother of God took notice, that this voice meant the speedy arrival of the Apostles and the Disciples and the holy Bodiless Powers. The Disciples, whose number then it was impossible to count, flocked together, -- says Saint John Damascene, -- like clouds and eagles, to hearken to the Mother of God. Seeing one another, the Disciples rejoiced, but in their confusion they asked each other, why had the Lord gathered them together in one place? Saint John the Theologian, greeting them with tears of joy, said that for the Mother of God had begun the time of repose unto the Lord. Going in to the Mother of God, they beheld Her augustly lying upon the cot, and filled with spiritual happiness. The Disciples gave greeting to Her, and then they told about their being miraculously transported from their places of preaching. The MostHoly Virgin Mary glorified God, in that He had hearkened to Her prayer and fulfilled Her heart's desire, and She began speaking about Her immanent end. During the time of this conversation the Apostle Paul likewise appeared in miraculous manner together with his disciples: Dionysios the Areopagite, wondrous Hierotheos, and Timothy and others from amongst the Seventy Disciples. The Holy Spirit had gathered them all together, so that they might be vouchsafed the blessing of the All-Pure Virgin Mary, and all the more fittingly to see to the burial of the Mother of the Lord. Each of them She called to Herself by name, She blessed them and extolled them in their faith and hardships in the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, and to each She wished eternal bliss and prayed with them for the peace and welfare of all the world.
There ensued the third hour, when the Uspenie-Repose of the Mother of God was to occur. A multitude of candles blazed. The holy Disciples with song encircled the felicitously adorned sick-bed, upon which lay the All-Pure Virgin Mother of God. She prayed in anticipation of Her demise and of the arrival of Her longed-for Son and Lord. Suddenly the inexpressible Light of Divine Glory shone forth, before which the blazing candles paled in comparison. All that saw took fright. Sitting atop as though immersed in the rays of the indescribable Light, was Christ the King of Glory Himself come down, surrounded by hosts of Angels and Archangels and other Heavenly Powers, together with the souls of the fore-fathers and the prophets, formerly having foretold of the MostHoly Virgin Mary. Seeing Her Son, the Mother of God exclaimed: "My soul doth magnify My Lord, and My spirit rejoiceth in God My Saviour, for He hath regarded the lowliness of His Handmaiden" -- and, getting up from Her bed to meet the Lord, She bowed down to Him. And the Lord bid Her come enter the habitations of Life Eternal. Without any bodily suffering, as though in an happy sleep, the MostHoly Virgin Mary gave up Her soul into the hands of Her Son and God.
Then began joyous Angelic song. Accompanying the pure soul of the God-betrothed and with reverent awe for the Queen of Heaven, the Angels exclaimed: "Hail Thou, Full-of-Grace, the Lord is with Thee, blessed art Thou amongst women! For lo, it be the Queen, God's Maiden doth come, take up the gates, and with the Ever-Existent take ye up the Mother of Light; for of Her is salvation come to all the human race. Upon Her tis impossible to gaze and to Her tis impossible to render due honour" (Stikherion verse on "Lord, I have cried"). The Heavenly gates were raised, and meeting the soul of the MostHoly Mother of God, the Cherubim and the Seraphim with joy glorified Her. The graced face of the Mother of God was radiant with the glory of Divine virginity, and of Her body there exuded fragrance.
Miraculous was the life of the All-Pure Virgin, and wondrous was Her Repose, as Holy Church doth sing: "In Thee, O Queen, the God of all hath wrought a miracle, that transcendeth the laws of nature. Just as in the Birth-Giving He did preserve Thine virginity, so also in the grave He did preserve Thy body from decay" (Kanon 1, Ode 6, Tropar 1). Giving kiss to the all-pure body with reverence and in awe, the Disciples in turn were blessed by it and filled with grace and spiritual joy. Through the great glorification of the MostHoly Mother of God, the almighty power of God healed the sick, who with faith and love gave touch to the holy cot. Bewailing their separation on earth from the Mother of God, the Apostles set about the burying of Her all-pure body. The holy Apostles Peter, Paul, James and others of the 12 Apostles carried the funeral bier upon their shoulders, and upon it lay the body of the ever-Virgin Mary. Saint John the Theologian went at the head with the resplendent palm-branch from Paradise, and the other saints and a multitude of the faithful accompanied the funeral bier with candles and censers, singing sacred song. This solemn procession went from the Sion-quarter through all Jerusalem to the Garden of Gethsemane.
With the start of the procession there suddenly appeared over the all-pure body of the Mother of God and all those accompanying Her a vast and resplendent circular cloud, like a crown, and to the choir of the Apostles was conjoined the choir of the Angels. There was heard the singing of the Heavenly Powers, glorifying the Mother of God, which echoed that of the worldly voices. This circle of Heavenly singers and radiance moved through the air and accompanied the procession to the very place of burial. Unbelieving inhabitants of Jerusalem, taken aback by the extraordinarily grand funeral procession and vexed at the honours accorded the Mother of Jesus, denounced this to the high-priests and scribes. Burning with envy and vengefulness towards everything that reminded them of Christ, they sent out their own servants to disrupt the procession and to set afire the body of the Mother of God. An angry crowd and soldiers set off against the Christians, but the aethereal crown, accompanying the procession in the air, lowered itself to the ground and like a wall fenced it off. The pursuers heard the footsteps and the singing, but could not see any of those accompanying the procession. And indeed many of them were struck blind. The Jewish priest Aphthoniah out of spite and hatred for the Mother of Jesus of Nazareth wanted to topple the funeral bier, on which lay the body of the MostHoly Virgin Mary, but an Angel of God invisibly cut off his hands, which had touched the bier. Seeing such a wonder, Aphthoniah repented and with faith confessed the majesty of the Mother of God. He received healing and joined in with the crowd accompanying the body of the Mother of God, and he became a zealous follower of Christ. When the procession reached the Garden of Gethsemane, then amidst the weeping and the wailing began the last kiss to the all-pure body. Only towards evening time were the Apostles able to place it in the tomb and seal the entrance to the cave with a large stone. For three days they did not depart the place of burial, during this time making unceasing prayer and psalmody. Through the wise providence of God, the Apostle Thomas had been destined not to be present at the burial of the Mother of God. Arriving late on the third day at Gethsemane, he lay down at the sepulchral cave and with bitter tears bespeaking loudly his desire, that he might be vouchsafed a final blessing of the Mother of God and have final farewell with Her. The Apostles out of heartfelt pity for him decided to open the grave and permit him the comfort of venerating the holy remains of the Ever-Virgin Mary. But having opened the grave, they found in it only the grave wrappings and were thus convinced of the bodily ascent or assumption of the MostHoly Virgin Mary to Heaven.
On the evening of the same day, when the Apostles had gathered at an house to strengthen themselves with food, the Mother of God Herself appeared to them and said: "Rejoice! I am with ye -- throughout all the length of days". This so gladdened the Apostles and everyone with them, that they took a portion of the bread, set aside at the meal in memory of the Saviour ("the Portion of the Lord"), and they exclaimed also: "MostHoly Mother of God, help us". (This marks the beginning of the rite of offering up a "Panagia" ("All-Blessed") -- the custom of offering up at meals a portion of bread in honour of the Mother of God, which even at present is done at monasteries).
The sash of the Mother of God, and Her holy garb, -- preserved with reverence and distributed over the face of the earth in pieces -- both in past and in present has worked miracles. Her numerous icons everywhere issue forth with outpourings of signs and healings, and Her holy body -- taken up to Heaven, witnesses to our own future mode of life therein. Her body was not left to the chance vicissitudes of the transitory world, but was all the more incomparably exalted by its glorious ascent to Heaven.
The feast of the Repose-Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God is celebrated with especial solemnity at Gethsemane, at the place of Her burial. Nowhere else is there such sorrow of heart at the separation from the Mother of God and nowhere else such uplift, persuaded of Her intercession for the world.
The holy city of Jerusalem is separated from the Mount of Olives (Olivet) by the valley of Kedron on Josaphat. At the foot of the Mount of Olives is situated the Garden of Gethsemane, where olive trees bear fruit even now.
The holy Ancestor-of-God Joakim had himself reposed at 80 years of age, -- some several years after the Entry ("Vvedenie vo Khram") of the MostHoly Virgin Mary into the Jerusalem Temple (Comm. 21 November). Saint Anna, having been left a widow, resettled from Nazareth to Jerusalem, and lived near the Temple. At Jerusalem she bought two pieces of property: the first at the gates of Gethsemane, and the second -- in the valley of Josaphat. At the second locale she built a crypt for the repose of members of her family, and where also she herself was buried with Joakim. And it was there in the Garden of Gethsemane that the Saviour often prayed with His disciples.
The most-pure body of the Mother of God was buried in the family cemetery-plot. With Her burial Christians also reverently honoured the sepulchre of the Mother of God, and they built on this spot a church. Within the church was preserved the precious funeral cloth, which wrapped Her all-pure and fragrant body.
The holy Jerusalem Patriarch Juvenal (420-458) attested before the emperor Marcian (450-457) as to the authenticity of the tradition about the miraculous assumption of the Mother of God to Heaven, and he likewise sent to the empress, Saint Pulcheria (+ 453, Comm. 10 September), the grave wrappings of the Mother of God, which he had taken from Her grave. Saint Pulcheria then placed these grave-wrappings within the Blakhernae church.
Accounts have been preserved, that at the end of the VII Century an overhead church had been situated atop the underground church of the Dormition-Repose of the MostHoly Mother of God, and that from its high bell-tower could be seen the dome of the Church of the Resurrection of the Lord. Traces of this church are no longer to be seen. And in the IX Century near the subterranean Gethsemane church was built a monastery, at which more than 30 monks asceticised.
Great destruction was done the Church in the year 1009 by the despoiler of the holy places, Hakim. Radical changes, the traces of which remain at present, also transpired under the crusaders in the year 1130. During the XI-XII Centuries there disappeared from Jerusalem the piece of excavated stone, at which the Saviour had prayed on the night of His betrayal. This piece of stone from the VI Century had been situated within the Gethsemane basilica.
But in spite of the destruction and the changes, the overall original cruciform (cross-shaped) plan of the church has been preserved. At the entrance to the church along the sides of the iron gates stand four marble columns. To enter the church, it is necessary to go down a stairway of 48 steps. At the 23rd step on the right side is a chapel in honour of the holy Ancestors-of-God Joakim and Anna together with their graves, and on the left side opposite -- the chapel of Righteous Joseph the Betrothed with his grave. The rightside chapel belongs to the Orthodox Church, and the leftside -- to the Armenian-Gregorian Church (since 1814).
The church of the Repose of the Mother of God has the following dimensions: in length it is 48 arshin, and in breadth 8 arshin [1 arshin = 28 inches]. At an earlier time the church had also windows beside the doors. The whole temple was adorned with a multitude of lampadas and offerings. Two small entrances lead into the burial-chamber of the Mother of God: entrance is made through the western doors, and exit at the northern doors. The burial-chamber of the All-Pure Virgin Mary is veiled with precious curtains. The burial laying-place was hewn out of stone in the manner of the ancient Jewish grave and is very similar to the Sepulchre of the Lord. Beyond the burial-chamber is situated the altar of the church, in which daily is celebrated Divine Liturgy in the Greek language.
The olive woods on the eastern and northern sides of the temple was acquired from the Turks by the Orthodox during the VII-VIII Centuries. The Catholics acquired the olive woods on the east and south sides in 1803, and the Armenian-Gregorians on the west side in 1821.
On 12 August, at Little Gethsemane, at the 2nd hour of the night, the clergy-head of the Gethsemane church celebrates Divine Liturgy. With the close of Liturgy, at the 4th hour of the morning, the clergy-head in full vesture makes a short molieben before the resplendent plaschenitsa, lifts it in his hands and solemnly carries it beyond the church to Gethsemane proper where the holy sepulchre of the Mother of God is situated. All the members of the Russian Spiritual Mission in Jerusalem, with the head of the Mission leading, participate each year in the procession with the holy plaschanitsa [of the Mother of God], called the "Litania".
The rite of the Burial of the Mother of God at Gethsemane begins customarily on the morning of 14 August. A multitude of people with hierarchs and clergy at the head set off from the Jerusalem Patriarchate (nearby the Church of the Resurrection of Christ) in sorrowful procession. Along the narrow alley-ways of the Holy City the funeral procession makes its way to Gethsemane. Towards the front of the procession is carried an icon of the Dormition-Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God. Along the way pilgrims meet the icon, kissing the image of the All-Pure Virgin Mary and lift children of various ages to the icon. After the clergy, in two rows walk the black-robed -- monks and nuns of the Holy City: Greeks, Roumanians, Arabs, Russians. The procession, going along for about two hours, concludes with a lamentations at the Gethsemane church. In front the altar-table, beyond the burial chamber of the Mother of God, is set a raised-up spot, upon which amidst fragrant flowers and myrtle and with precious coverings rests the plaschanitsa of the MostHoly Mother of God.
"O marvelous wonder! The Fount of Life is placed in the grave, and the grave doth become the ladder to Heaven...", -- here at the grave of the All-Pure Virgin, these words strike deep with their original sense and grief is dispelled by joy: "Hail, Full-of-Grace, the Lord is with Thee, granting the world through Thee great mercy!"
Numerous pilgrims, having kissed the icon of the Dormition-Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God, -- following an ancient custom, then stoop down and go beneathe it.
On the day of the Leave-taking of the feast (23 August), solemn procession is again made. On the return path, the holy plaschanitsa is carried by clergy headed by the Gethsemane archimandrite.
About the rite of the litany and feast of the Uspenie-Dormition of the Mother of God in the Holy Land, there is an article in the "Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate", 1979, No. 3.
by Sainted Gregory Palamas, ArchBishop of Thessalonika
My present talk for your appreciation is occasioned both by love, and by necessity. I speak not only by reason of my love for you, and whereof I desire that the word of salvation should gain way to your God-loving hearing, and in such manner, be imbibed of by your souls; but also, wherein it be very needful for me, in conjunction with the churchly laudations, to expound on the majesty of the ever-Virgin Mother of God. And howso this wish, being twofold against the customary wont, doth impel and incline, and thus also inevitably need compel; though word canst not comprehend, that which is higher than any word, like as the sight canst not fix its gaze upon the sun. And insofar as it be not proper to speak about that which is beyond all words, therein ought primarily the love for the Mother of God to be consecrated in psalmody. If "venerable in the eyes of the Lord be the death of His holy ones" (Ps. 115 : 15), and "the memory of the righteous one is with praises" (Prob. 10:7), then how much moreso -- is the memory of the Holiest of the holy ones, through Whom -- hath become all sanctification for the holy ones, -- is the memory of the Ever-Virgin Mother of God, She Whose memory it now becometh us to celebrate with most exalted praises? We now make celebration of the holy Dormition, or Repose, through which was She brought low before the Angels, and yet did She excel beyond compare the Angels and the Archangels, and being over them by the consequent Power of Her closeness to God and by the fore-ordained over the ages wondrous deeds wrought over Her. It was on Her account that the God-inspired prophets did prophesy, and the miracles that beforehand did point out this great and universal wonder -- the ever-Virgin Mother of God; manifest of the Spirit; in various ways being the foretype of the future actuality; manifesting the promise to beget without seed He born of God the Father in eternity... The King of all greatly desired the mysteried beauty of the ever-Virgin, and within Her did transpire the incarnating of the Power of the MostHigh, not through darkness and fire as it was for the God-inspired Moses, and not through means of storm and clouds as was manifest His Presence to the Prophet Elias (Elijah), nor by means of some pretext did the Power from on High overshadow the all-pure and virginal womb. What inexpressibly transpired within Her and of Her was that the Word of God came forth incarnated in the flesh, "to appear upon earth and live amongst mankind" (Baruch 3: 38), deifying our nature and granting us, according to the Divine Apostle, that "which the Angels have desire to look forward to" (1 Pet. 1: 12) -- and in this is the wondrous glorification and the all-pure glory of the ever-Virgin Mary.
And what words are there, appropriate to explain what transpired after the inexplicable birth? Whereof, the Word of God issuing from on high and begotten through Her in Her co-operating and co-willing, She also is glorified together with Him in the dignity with which He is exalted, conjoined in His great and wondrous majesty. But with the going up to Heaven of He Incarnate of Her, She in turn through what came to Her of Him, -- the excelling majesty of mind and word, as it were emulating Him with manifold deeds and prayers, and likewise solicitude for all the world, and the inspiring of preachers to all the ends of the earth. And all and everywhere She was the sole support and consoler, and in every way co-operating in the proclamation of the Gospel good-news, and clearly proving Herself in it with a life filled with struggle and mastery over mind and word. Whereof, certainly, Her life and death hath carried over into Heavenly and immortal life; and the remembrance of it is a joyous feast and universal solemnity. Into the hands of Her Son was taken the God-bearing spirit of the Ever-Virgin Mary; and indeed a short while afterwards, Her kindred body was translated by Him into the eternal Heavenly habitations. And all this was fully just and proper. In actual fact, many were vouchsafed over the ages the Divine condescension, glory and might, as David likewise sayeth: "For me exceedingly be esteemed Thine company, O God, and exceedingly assured be their dominion. I do look over them, and more than the sands be they numbered" (Ps. 138 : 17-18). "Many a daughter, -- according to Solomon, -- hath acquired riches, and many have wrought power" (Prov. 31: 29-30). And here is She -- the All-Pure Virgin Mary, and She is most exceedingly exalted over all and for all: She alone hath come betwixt God and the human race, She hath wrought God the Son of Man, and humankind She hath co-made the sons of God; She hath co-made Heaven of earth and wrought of God the race of man; She alone of all surpassing all nature is manifest the Mother of God by nature, and through the mysteried Birth-giving She hath become the Queen of everything both in the world and of transcendent creation. And in such manner being exalted over all subject to Her through Her Herself, and having Herself been made participant of utmost choosing through the Divine Spirit, She is become the highest of any of the most exalted and most-blest Queen of blessed lineage.
And now indeed She hath celestial proper habitation, as it were a palace most becoming Her, into which today She be translated from earth, to stand at the right side of the Almighty "adorned in golden robes, aglitter" (Ps. 44 : 9-10), as expressed of Her by the psalmodist prophet. Beneathe the gilded garb Her God-worthy body is aglitter with manifold virtues -- wherefore She alone with the Son in God-glorified body hath celestial habitation: for the earth, the grave and death have not power to hold on ultimately to the life-originative and God-receiving body more radiant than the heavens and of heaven the habitation of the heavens. And actually, if a soul having habitation (within it) of the grace of God, forsaking the mundane, it is borne up to heaven, as becometh clear from many an example, and we do believe this: therefore, how could there not be carried up from earth to heaven that body, not only having accepted within itself the Only-Begotten and Praeternal Son of God, the inexhaustible well-spring of grace, but moreover having begotten and manifest Him? How didst Thou, though dust subject to decay, Who being yet three years of age, and not yet having in Thyself the Prae-Celestial Indwelling, not yet having begotten the Incarnated One, -- how didst Thou come to take up habitation in the Holy of Holies? [Vide 21 November account of feast of Entry of the Virgin into the Temple.] Wherefore, it is in that the body, having by nature begotten, is co-glorified with the God-becoming glory (together) with He-Begotten, and it is co-resuscitated, as expressed in prophetic song, together with the three-day first-resurrected Christ, in being His "Ark of Holiness" (Ps. 131 : 8). There was, moreover, the evidence of Her resurrection from the dead for the Apostles -- the plaschanitsa and burial cloths, which alone remained in the grave and which alone were found in it by those having come to look things over: just precisely the way formerly it had transpired with Her Son and Lord. But here it was unnecessary that She should tarry a certain while upon the earth, as formerly had Her Son and God; and therefore, She was straightaway taken up from the grave into celestial habitation, from whence to shine with a resplendid radiance, illumining from thence all the earthly realm. And for all the faithful this is something worthy of veneration, worthy of praise and of song. Moreover, with what was said at the start, -- that She was diminished for a short time before the Angels (in the sense of tasting of death), -- this also should serve to the increase in everything in the majesty of the Mother of God. Wherefore also it be entirely proper that everything be united together and considered for the presentday solemnity.
And thus it is proper, that She containing the Fulfillment of all and the Existant before all should Herself achieve all and become foremost of all by Her virtues and utmost worthiness. And thus it is, that over all the ages it helped matters that all that all the best individual figures were the best, but that they possessed only the beneficences of God (each individually) whether angelic or human, -- but all this She doth combine within Herself, and She alone inexpressibly and supra-abundantly: finding immortality through mortality, and in the flesh finding heaven together with Her Son and God, and from that time thereof there is the abundant outpouring of supra-abundant grace for all those honouring Her. She moreover doth bestow the boldness to hasten unto Her, the vessel of so many a beneficence: generously doth She distribute blessings and for us doth never cease this useful bestowing and gracious help.
Seeing in Her the source and treasury of every blessing, whosoever declares, that the Virgin is made perfect by virtue and by living virtuously, is as one for whom there is the sensory light for the creatures living beneathe it -- which is the sun. But if he transfer his mental gaze to the Sun, eternally shining forth to mankind from This Virgin, -- if gazing towards this Sun, Which by nature and supra-abundance hath everything, which be granted Her by grace, then the Virgin therewith doth stand forth amidst the heavens. And this be so because of the deigning of God through all blessedness, that She hath attained to an inheritance, by far the most precious, moreso than any beneficence beneathe or beyond the skies, -- just as the sky is more vast than the sun, but the sun doth shine brighter than the sky.
What word is there to describe Thine God-seemly beauty, O Virgin Mother? It is impossible indeed to explain all about Thee in reasonings and words: so much doth it exceed both mind and word. But I mustneed sing Thine praises, if Thou permit out of love for mankind. For in as Thou -- art the fount of all gracious gifts and the fullness of all righteousness, the chosen and inspired image of every blessing and every good, as only alone worthy of the gifts of the Spirit, and particularly alone as having held in Thine womb He its treasure, and having co-wrought miraculous habitation for Him; and wherefore now, having passed through mortality into immortality, and rightly gone forth from earth to Heaven, into the Praeternal habitation, Thou art become co-residing in eternal time, and there (dwellest Thou), not forsaking care for Thine inheritance, but with incessant supplications to Him moving Him to mercy for all. How much closer to God of all those closest to God is the Mother of God, and how much the greatest hath She been vouchsafed, in comparison with all (meaning not only the earth-born, but all even of the Angelic holy ranks).
It was about the angelic chief-ranks that Isaiah earlier once wrote: "and the Seraphim do stand round about Him" (Is. 6: 2). But concerning Her [the Mother of God] on the other hand is David: "the Queen stood at Thy right side" (Ps. 44 : 9-10). Do you not see the variance of standing? And from this variance it is possible to discern also the variance of rank according to worthiness: since the Seraphim -- are but around God, while next right beside Him -- the One-Only Queen, Which be praised of and glorified by God Himself, announcing as it were concerning Her to His (Angelic) Powers that are round about and saying, as was said in the Song of Songs: "Thou art fair, My Dear" (Song 6: 4), a light most sparkling, a Divine paradise most sweet and of all the world both visible and invisible the most beautiful. And She in all due justice doth stand not only nearby, but at the right side: since that, where Christ is enthroned in the Heavens, She also there now doth stand, having gone up from earth to Heaven, -- not only that She did desire this, nor mutually most of all it was wanted thus in accord with some most essential laws, but rather, it was because She is His true Throne. This Throne saw also Isaiah amidst the choir of the Seraphim and he called it high and exalted (Is. 6: 1), thus indicating (by this) the exalting of the Mother of God over the Heavenly Powers. Wherefore the prophet also did present these angels as glorifying God of Her and proclaiming: the blessing of the Glory of the Lord from His place (Ezek. 3: 12). The Patriarch Jacob, contemplatively surmising this, cried out: "for awesome be this place: this be naught other than the house of God, and this the Heavenly gate" (Gen. 28: 17). And David again, in gathering together with the multitude of the saved, as though it were to avail himself of certain tonal strings or the consonant varied notes about Her the Ever-Virgin into one harmony from over the various generations, expresses it in psalmody concerning Her, saying: "I wilt remember Thy name from every generation unto generation: whereof people shalt confess Thee unto ages of ages forever" (Ps. 44 : 17-18).
Do ye not see, that the whole of creation doth glorify This the Virgin Mother, and not only over the course of some prescribed interval, but rather unto ages of ages forever? It is possible hence to deduce, moreover, that She ceaseth not through all the ages to be of benefit to all creatures. I speak not only about us as creatures, but also about the utmost incorporeal and supernatural hierarchies, since they together with us through Her alone become conjoined and contingent to God, the Intangible Existant. Isaiah pointed this out clearly: he saw, that the Seraphim did not directly take hold the offertory coal, but took hold of it by means of a tong, by which he touched it to the mouth of the prophet, bestowing cleansing (Is. 6: 6). This vision of the tongs was identical with that great sight which Moses did contemplate -- the bush amidst the flame not consumed (Ex. 3: 2). Who knows, is not this bush and these tongs the Virgin Mother, without burn receiving the Fire of Divinity, , such that there was the Archangel present at the Conception [during the Annunciation], by which through Her was adjoined to the human race the Burier of the sin of the world cleansing us through this inexplicable conjoining? And whereof She is the one only Mediatrix betwixt the created and uncreated nature; and no one can come to God save that they be lighted forth through Her as through a truly Godly-mete luminant, since that "God is amidst Her, and wilt not be stirred therefrom" (Ps. 45 : 5-6).
If recompense be in measure of love towards God, and the loving Son be beloved of by His Father, and there be manifest the abode of Both, mysteriedly abiding and dwelling in such as conform to the promise of the Lord (Jn. 14: 21), -- then who would love Him more than His Mother, for Whom be He the Only-Begotten, but also begotten virginally, so that for Her there be a twofold cause of love of Him co-united and conjoined (with Her)? And who more than His Mother would be beloved by the Only-Begotten, -- and moreover Begotten of Her inexplicably in the fullness of time while yet having been Begotten of the One Only Father in eternity, -- how could there not be increase in conformity in mete propriety and honour befitting Her under the law, from Him Who was come to fulfill the law?
And thus, since through Her alone was come unto us He that did "appear upon earth and live amongst mankind" (Baruch 3: 38), and before Her being unseen, such that in the time following He manifest Himself to all as the fount of Divine illumination, and the fulfilled revelation of the Divine mysteries, and the full embodiment of spiritual gifts, being moreover uncontained of all, save Her. She Herself, foremost amongst all the repository of the most exceedingly excellent plenitude of He That filleth all in all, Herself doth furnish to all of Him That containeth all, bestowing to each as is possible in accord and in proportion to the purity of each, since that She is both the repository and the Mediatrix of the riches of God.
If such be the eternal law in the heavens, that through the less there enter into communion those having great power amidst the great, then certainly the Virgin Mother doth possess farmost exceedingly incomparable influence. It is through Her that there be conjoined to God all, who otherwise would not be conjoined. And Her they do recognise as the repository of He That containeth all, which but know God, and would praise Her together with God all who but praise God. She Herself is the pardoner of all that went before Her, and intercessor of all that came after Her, and Mediatrix of eternal blessings. She -- is the reason of the prophesies of the prophets, the principal of the Apostles, the affirmation of the martyrs, the foundation of the teachers. She -- is the glory of the earth-born, the joy of the Heavens, and the praise of all creatures. She -- is the source, the fount and tap-root of inexpressible blessings; She -- is the supreme perfecting of all the holy.
O Virgin Divine and now Heavenly! How can I relate everything about Thee? How might I glorify Thee, Thou the Treasury of Glory? Through Thee is illumined the gaze of reason, through Thee is enlightened the spirit discerned of the Holy Spirit, in as Thou art rendered repository and vessel of Its gifts; yet not such which Thou wouldst affirm unto Thyself, but such as Thou wouldst fulfill all with the gifts of grace. For the Master of inexhaustible treasures foreordaineth them unto Thee for the bestowing; else why would He have wrought the blessings, and otherwise remain hidden and unbegotten? Wherefore, O Lady, grant abundantly to all Thy people and this Thine inheritance both Thy mercy and Thine gifts. Grant deliverance from the misfortunes afflicting us; behold, how much and how greatly we are oppressed from both without and within. By Thy might transform all for the best; bestow for our sufferings Thine help and healing, granting unto our souls and our bodies abundant grace for every need. And if we be not, make us worthy receptacles and as such vouchsafe that we, saved and strengthened by Thy grace, might glorify Him Incarnated of Thee for our sakes -- the Praeternal Word, together with His Father Without-Beginning and Life-Creating Spirit, both now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
The only positive information concerning this Roman martyr is found in the poem composed in his honour by Pope Damasus ("Damasi epigrammata", ed. Ihm, 14). In these lines Damasus compares Tarsicius to the protomartyr Stephen: just as the latter was stoned by the people of Judea so Tarsicius, carrying the Blessed Sacrament, was attacked by a heathen rabble, and he suffered death rather "than surrender the Sacred Body [of Christ] to the raging dogs". This tradition so positively asserted by Damasus is undoubtedly historical. Nothing definite is known concerning the personality of this martyr of the Eucharist. He may have been a deacon, as Damasus compares him to Stephen. An addition to the sixth-century legend of the martyrdom of Pope St. Stephen makes Tarsicius, for some unknown reason, an acolyte; this addition, however, is based on the poem of Damasus. It is evident that the death of this martyr occurred in one of the persecutions that took place between the middle of the third century and the beginning of the fourth. He was buried in the Catacomb of St. Callistus, and the inscription by Damasus was placed later on his tomb. In the seventh century his remains rested in the same grave as those of Pope Zephyrinus; according to Willpert they lay in the burial vault above ground (cella trichora) which was situated towards the west over the Catacomb of St. Callistus.
The Martyr Diomedes was born in Cilician Tarsus, and by profession he was a physician, but by belief a Christian, and he treated not only ills not only of body but also of soul. He enlightened many pagans with belief in Christ, and baptised them. The Church venerates him as an healer and summons his name during the making of the Sacrament of Oil-Anointing the Sick.
Saint Diomedes traveled much, converting people to the true faith. When he arrived in the city of Nicea, the emperor Diocletian (284-305) sent soldiers to arrest him. Along the way from Nicea to Nicomedia, he got down from the cart so as to pray, and he died. As proof of carrying out their orders, the soldiers cut off his head, but became blinded. Diocletian gave orders to take away the head back to the body. When the soldiers fulfilled the order, their sight was restored and they believed in Christ.
The Monk Cherimon asceticised in Egypt in the Skete wilderness-monastery, either at the end of the IV Century or the beginning years of the V Century. His name is remembered in the "Lausiaca" of Palladios and in the alphabetic Paterikon. His cave stood at a distance of 40 stadia from church and 12 stadia from a spring of water. The saint died at handicraft at more than 100 years of age. The Monk Cherimon is remembered likewise by the Monk Theodore the Studite (+ 11 November 826) within the Lenten Triodion -- in the Service for Cheesefare Saturday, in the 6th Ode of the Matins canon.
Saint Gerasimus the New Ascetic of Cephalonia was born in the village of Trikkala in the Peloponessos. As a young adult, he became a monk on the island of Zakynthos. On the Holy Mountain he became a schemamonk and studied with the ascetics of Mt Athos. Receiving a blessing from the Elders, the monk went to Jerusalem to worship at the Life-bearing Tomb of the Savior. After visiting many holy places in Jerusalem, Mount Sinai, Antioch, Damascus, Alexandria and Egypt, he returned to Jerusalem where he became a lamp-lighter at the Sepulchre of the Lord.
The monk was ordained a deacon and then a priest by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Germanus (1534-1579). St Gerasimus maintained the discipline of an ascetic. For soltitude he withdrew to the Jordan, where he spent forty days without respite. Having received the Patriarch's blessing for a life of silence, St Gerasimus withdrew to Zakynthos in solitude, eating only vegetation.
After five years he was inspired to go the the island of Cephalonia, where he lived in a cave. He restored a church at Omala, and he founded a women's monastery where he lived in constant toil and vigil for thirty years. He prayed on bent knees stretched out on the ground. For his exalted life he was granted a miraculous gift: the ability to heal the sick and cast out unclean spirits.
At 71 years of age, the venerable Gerasimus knew that he would soon die. He gave his blessing to the nuns and peacefully fell asleep in the Lord on August 15, 1579. Two years later, his grave was opened and his holy relics were found fragrant and incorrupt with a healing power.
Since the Feast of the Dormition falls on August 15, St Gerasimus is commemorated on August 16th. Today's Feast celebrates the uncovering of his holy relics in 1581.
The holy Prince Constantine Brancoveanu, the son of Prince Matthew Basarab, was born in 1654. When his parents died, he was raised and educated by his uncle, Constantine Cantacuzino. When another uncle, Prince Serban Cantacuzino died on on October 19, 1688, Constantine was chosen to succeed him as Prince of the Romanian Land (Wallachia). St Constantine was a wise and just ruler who was guided by Christian principles, and worked for the benefit of his people. He also built and restored many churches and monasteries. His philanthropy extended even into Transylvania and Moldavia, which were ruled by others.
In 1714, after a reign of twenty-five years, St Constantine, his sons, and his sons-in-law were arrested by soldiers sent to Bucharest by Sultan Ahmed III (1703-1730).The prisoners were brought to Constantinople, where they were tortured for four months. Prince Constantine was told that if he and his sons wanted to escape death, they would have to convert to Islam and pay a large sum of money. Constantine did not have the money required by the Turks, and he did not wish to convert to the Moslem faith.
Seeing that neither tortures nor threats would induce the prisoners to forsake Christ, the Turks sentenced them to death. Before his own execution, St Constantine had to watch as his sons were beheaded before his eyes.
On the Feast of the Dormition (August 15), The sixty-year-old prince, his sons, and his counsellor Ianache Vacarescu died as martyrs for Christ. Their bodies were left unburied for three days, then they were thrown into the sea. Their relics were recovered by Orthodox Christians who brought them to the Monastery of the Theotokos on the island of Chalki.
St Constantine's wife Marica brought his holy relics back to Bucharest and placed them in the church of St George the New, which he had founded. He was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Romania in 1992.
It is commonly believed that St. Christopher Guruli was martyred, but little information exists about him to prove this. Christopher’s name has been preserved in the nation’s memory, and he is commemorated in the Church calendar.
The Georgian ancestry of Holy Martyr Christopher is indicated by his appellation, “Guruli,” which means “from the province of Guria (in western Georgia).” From this, Church historians have been led to believe that Holy Martyr Christopher labored in Georgia.
The MonkMartyr Nikodemos of Meteoreia asceticised in Thessaly, and suffered in the year 1551.
The Monk Joakim of Osogovsk was one of four great hermits of Bulgaria, having inspired by his ascetic efforts hundreds and thousands of people to Christian asceticism. He lived in the XI Century, unknown by anyone, in a cave on the Osogovsk heights. Just before his death he chanced to encounter two hunters, whom he blessed for a successful hunt. The demise of the monk followed, as he revealed in a posthumous vision, "during a great darkness (i.e. an eclipse) eight years previous", i.e. approximately in the year 1115. A monastery was afterwards built on the place of his ascetic deeds.
The New Martyr Stamatius was a native of the city of Volos, Thessaly. They accused him of accepting Islam, but he bravely confessed himself a Christian and was beheaded by the sword at Constantinople in 1680.
The Holy Martyr Myron was a presbyter in Achaeia (Greece), and lived during the III Century. He suffered in the year 250 under the emperor Decius (249-251). The presbyter was gentle and kind to people, but he was also courageous in the defense of his spiritual children. One time, on the feast of the Nativity of Christ, he was celebrating Divine-services. The local governor Antipater came into the church with soldiers so as to arrest those praying there and to subject them to torture. Seeing this, Saint Myron began heatedly to plead for his flock, denouncing the governor for his cruelty. The saint was delivered over to torture, -- they took him and struck at his body with iron rods. They then threw the presbyter into a red-hot oven, but the Lord preserved the martyr -- at the very moment when about 150 men at a nearby pagan temple were scorched by the oven fire. The governor then began to demand the martyr to worship idols. Having received from Saint Myron a firm refusal, Antipater ordered the leather thongs to be cut from his skin. Saint Myron took one of the leather thongs and threw it in the face of his tormentor. Falling into a rage, Antipater gave orders to strike Saint Myron all over his stripped body, and then to deliver the martyr over to wild beasts for devouring. But the beasts would not touch him. Perceiving himself defeated, Antipater in his blind rage committed suicide. They then took Saint Myron to the city of Kizika, where he was beheaded by the sword (+ 250).
The holy Father Tbeli Abuseridze lived and labored in the 13th century. His father John, the archduke of Upper Atchara, perished in a battle with the Turks. After Tbeli’s mother was widowed, she was tonsured a nun and given the name Katherine. Tbeli’s brothers, Abuseri and Bardan, were also well-known figures in their time.
St. Tbeli received an education befitting his noble rank and succeeded in fully developing his natural abilities.
St. Tbeli left an indelible mark on the history of Georgian culture as a hymnographer, an astronomer, an expert in sacred music, and a scholar of diverse interests. We know from his works that he built a church in honor of St. George in the village of Khikhani (in upper Atchara), and it has been suggested that he composed most of his works, including a chronicle of his own ancestry, in that village. He had seven children whom he brought there, and at the end of his chronicle he left a second testament, commanding that his family’s future generations be brought there as well.
St. Tbeli contributed immensely to the life of Gelati Academy. Historians believe it was there that he received the broad education that allowed him to express himself in so many different fields. St. Tbeli’s collection of hymns to St. John the Baptist, St. John the Theologian, and St. John Chrysostom reveals his true piety and talent as a writer of the Church. The profound theological ideas, the symbolic and mystical comprehension of phenomena, the “knowledge of the visible” and “comprehension of the invisible” evident in this work paint St. Tbeli as one equally endowed as both a scholar and a theologian.
St. Tbeli was fascinated by the science of chronology, and he compiled a work called Chronicles: Complete Commentaries and Rules to address some of the problems related to chronology. Combining a solid understanding of astronomy and history, this work conveys the cosmic meaning of the Julian calendar and Christian eschatology. St. Tbeli’s famous hagiographical work The New Miracle of Great-martyr George contains valuable historical information about the Abuseridze family’s efforts to revive Georgian culture during the ancient feudal epoch.
While pursuing his literary and scholarly interests, St. Tbeli also labored as a holy and God-fearing pastor. (Scholars believe that the saint was a bishop of Tbeti, from which he received his appellation Tbeli.) The Georgian Apostolic Church has numbered our Holy Father Tbeli Abuseridze among the saints in recognition of the countless good deeds he performed on behalf of the Church and its people.
The Monk Alypii of Pechersk, one of the first and finest of Russian iconographers, was a monastic novice of the Monk Nikon (Comm. 23 March), and from his youthful years pursued asceticism at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. He studied the iconography of the Greek masters, and from the year 1083 beautifying the Pechersk church of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God. The Monk Alypii wrote icons gratis. If he learned that in some church the icons had become worn, he took them with him and unmercenarily restored them. If it so happened that they paid him for his work, the monk disbursed one part for the obtaining of iconographic materials, the second part he distributed to the poor, and only the third did he keep for himself. The Monk Alypii was never famous, and he did the iconography only so as to serve God. He was raised to the dignity of priestmonk and was known for a gift of wonderworking while still alive: the Monk Alypii healed a Kievan man suffering from leprosy and decay of the body by anointing the wounds of the sick man with paints, prepared for the writing of icons. Many icons done by the monk were glorified by wonderworking. A particular instance is known, when Angels of God helped him in the holy task of writing icons. A certain Kievan man, having built a church, entrusted two Pechersk monks to commission the icons for it. The monks concealed the money and said nothing to the Monk Alypii. Having waited a long time for the carrying out of the commission, the Kievan man turned to the hegumen with a complaint against the monk, and here only did they discover that he had not heard of the commission. When they brought the boards given by the customer, it turned out that on them already were done beautiful images. And when the church built for the icons was consumed by fire, all of the icons remained unharmed. One of these icons ( the Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God) -- having received the title Vladimir-Rostovsk (celebrated 15 August), was taken by GreatPrince Vladimir Monomakh (1113-1125) to a Rostov church built by him.
Another time, an Angel wrote an icon in honour of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God, when the Monk Alypii lay in a pre-death illness. And in this the Angel accepted the soul of the Monk Alypii (he died on 17 August not earlier than the year 1114). He was buried in the Nearer Caves (Comm. Sobor 28 September). Of the right hand of the Monk Alypii the first three fingers were folded perfectly alike, and the last two were bent to the palm -- in such prayerful manner of signing himself with the sign of the cross did the monk die. One of the icons of the Monk Alypii -- the MostHoly Mother of God with the Infant-Saviour, surviving from the time of the Monks Antonii and Feodosii of Pechersk is now preserved in the State Tretyakov Gallery (named the Svensk, and celebrated 3 May and 17 August).
The Martyrs Paul and Juliania suffered in about the year 273. The account about them is located under 4 March.
The Martyrs Therses, Leucius, Coronatus and their Companions suffered in Bythnian Caesarea and Apollonia under the emperor Decius (249-251). (It is possible that Coronatus is the same person as Cornutus, whose commemoration is on 12 September).
The Martyr Patrocles lived during the III Century under the emperor Aurelian (270-275). It is known, that he was a native of the city of Tricassinum (now the city of Troyes in France) and led a pious Christian life: he loved to pray, to read the Holy Scriptures, to fast and to be charitable to the poor. For this the Lord sent down upon him the gift of wonderworking. The emperor Aurelian summoned Saint Patrocles to himself and commanded him to worship idols, promising for this great honours and riches. The saint disdained idol-worship saying that the emperor himself was a beggar. "How canst thou term me, the emperor, a beggar?" -- questioned Aurelian. The saint answered: "Thou dost possess many earthly treasures, but thou hast not Heavenly treasures, because thou believest not in Christ and in the future life thou shalt not receive paradisical blessedness -- therefore thou art poor". Aurelian in answer sentenced him to beheading by the sword. Soldiers led him to the banks of the River Sequanum (now the Seine), but suddenly their eyes were beclouded, and Saint Patrocles at this time went across the river on the water and began to pray on an hill on the other river-bank. Coming to themselves, some of the soldiers were astounded at the disappearance of the martyr and they glorified God, but others attributed the miracle to magic. A pagan woman pointed out to the soldiers that Saint Patrocles was situated on the other bank of the river. Crossing over there, the soldiers killed the martyr (+ c. 275). His body was buried by night by the priest Eusebius and deacon Liberius.
The Martyrs Straton, Philip, Eutykhian and Kyprian suffered at Nikomedia. Visiting the circus, they taught people to cease with idol-worship and they converted many pagans to Christ. The governor, observing that the people were leaving the circus, summoned to himself the martyrs, who firmly confessed their faith in Christ and for this they were given over to wild beasts for devouring. The beasts did not touch them, and the martyrs were then subjected to torture and thrown into a fire (+ c. 303).
The Monk Levkii of Volokolamsk was the founder of the Uspenie (Dormition) monastery on the Ruza River (the monastery was located 32 versts from the city of Volokolamsk and 2 versts from the village of Seredo-Stratilatsk). The Monk Levkii was a disciple of the Monk Paphnutii of Borovsk (+ 1 May 1477) and associate of the Monk Joseph of Volotsk (+ 9 September 1515). The time of the founding of the monastery by the Monk Levkii might perhaps be determined from the remnants of the Life of the Monk Daniel of Pereyaslavl' (+ 7 April 1540). The monk Daniel upon his arrival at the Borovsk monastery in the year 1466 was entrusted by the Monk Paphnutii to the Starets (elder) Levkii as an experienced ascetic in the spiritual life. After 10 years, i.e. in 1476, the starets and his student settled in the Volokolamsk region, where they dwelt together for another 2 years in founding the monastery. After this the Monk Daniel went to Pereyaslavl'. It is conjectured that the Monk Levkii was 62 years of age at the founding of the monastery. Having raised up a monastery, he became known throughout the surrounding region for his ascetic life. The Monk Levkii died in extreme old age (according to tradition -- 17 July) at the end of the XV Century. He was buried in the monastery founded by him.
In the Iconographic original of the image of the monk is inscribed under 27 July: "He was greyed, and a beard like Sergei, his hair uncovered, a schema-habit on his shoulders, in his hands a staff, and monastic garb".
The commemoration of the Monk Levkii is observed both on 14 December and on 17 August -- on the Day of the Holy Martyr Leucius.
The Monk Philip of Sukhonsk was an hermit on Yankovsk hill, on the left bank of the Sukhona River -- two versts from the city of Ustiug. The Ustiug inhabitants built up a monastery at the place of his ascetic deeds, so as to learn monastic life under his guidance, and in the year 1654 they built a church in honour of the Znamenie (Sign) Mother of God with a chapel in the name of the then-glorified Metropolitan of Moscow, Sainted Philip. Brethren soon gathered. The Monk Philip, refusing no one his guidance, in his humility would not accept the dignity of hegumen and he died at the monastery as a simple monk on 17 August 1662.
The Martyrs Florus and Laurus were brothers by birth not only in flesh but in spirit. They lived in the II Century at Byzantium, and afterwards they settled in Illyria (now Yugoslavia). By occupation they were stone-masons (their teachers in this craft were the christians Proclus and Maximus, from whom also the brothers learned about life pleasing to God). The governor of Illyria Likaion dispatched the brothers to a nearby district for work on the construction of a pagan temple. The saints toiled at the structure, distributing to the poor the money they earned, while themselves keeping strict fast and praying unceasingly. One time the son of the local pagan-priest Mamertin carelessly approached the structure, and a chip of stone hit him in the eye, severely injuring him. Saints Florus and Laurus assured the upset father, that his son would be healed. They brought the youth to consciousness and told him to have faith in Christ. After this, as the youth confessed Jesus Christ as the True God, the brothers prayed for him, and the eye was healed. In view of such a miracle even the father of the youth believed in Christ. When the construction of the temple was completed, the brothers gathered together the Christians, and having gone through the temple, they smashed the idols and in the eastern part of the temple they set up the holy cross. They spent all night in prayer, illumined with heavenly light. Having learned of this, the head of the district condemned to burning the former pagan-priest Mamertin and his son and 300 Christians. The martyrs Florus and Laurus, having been sent back to the governor Likaion, were thrown down an empty well and covered over with ground. After many years the relics of the holy martyrs were uncovered undecayed, and transferred to Constantinople. In the year 1200 the Novgorod pilgrim Antonii saw them; in about the year 1350, Stefan of Novgorod saw the heads of the martyrs in the Almighty monastery.
The great Church figure and philosopher St. Christodoulos was from the village of Sakara in the Imereti region. He possessed an exceptional knowledge of the Holy Scriptures and spoke several languages fluently. To support his prodigious understanding of the Christian Faith, Christodoulos became thoroughly acquainted with other creeds as well. To this purpose, he even memorized the Koran.
Once the Persian king Iamame arranged a debate on theological issues between the Muslims and the Christians, and he invited the elder Christodoulos to take part in this event. At first the king himself debated with the elder and suffered an upset. Then a certain pagan astrologer was brought to replace him, and when it became clear that he too was no match for the elder-philosopher, he summoned a renowned scholar to outwit him. In the debates with this scholar, Christodoulos freely cited both the Holy Scriptures and the Koran, and with his brilliant logic and rhetoric he triumphed over his rival. His challengers were disgraced.
In his work Pilgrimage, the famous 19th-century historian Archbishop Timote (Gabashvili) describes his journey to Mt. Athos and notes that St. Christodoulos had labored with the monks of the Iveron Monastery.
Church historians believe that St. Christodoulos labored first in Georgia, then moved to Mt. Athos, and finally to the island of Patmos.
The Martyrs Hermas, Serapion and Polienus were Romans, and they suffered for Christ in the II Century. They were thrown into prison, and when under interrogation they firmly confessed their faith in Christ and refused to offer sacrifice to idols, the martyrs were dragged through crowds and impassable places. Struck by stones and other material, they died, taking up their heavenly crowns.
The PriestMartyrs Emilian the Bishop, and with him Ilarion, Dionysius and Hermippus were born and lived in Armenia. After the death of their parents, the PriestMartyrs Emilian, Dionysios and Hermippos (they were brothers), and Ilarion (their teacher) left their native land and arrived in Italy, in the city of Spoleto. Saint Emilian began there to preach the Gospel to the pagans. He won the deep respect of the Christian community for his strict and virtuous life, and he was chosen bishop in the city of Trebium (he received hierarchical ordination from the Pope of Rome Marcellinus). Having moved to Trebium, Saint Emilian converted many pagans to Christ, for which he was brought to trial before the emperor Mamimian (284-305). The saint suggested to the emperor to see for himself the power of prayer to Christ. A man was brought, crippled for a long time. However much the pagan-priests tried to heal him by appealing to the idols, they accomplished nothing. Then Saint Emilian, praying to the Lord, in the Name of Jesus Christ commanded the crippled man to rise up, and that one, getting himself up healthy and rejoicing, went his way home. This miracle was so convincing, that the emperor became inclined to an admission of the truth in Christ, but the pagan-priests suggested to him, that the saint had worked magic. He was subjected to fierce tortures, in which the Lord encouraged him, saying: "Fear not, Emilian, I Myself am with thee". They tied him to a wheel, flung him on hot tin, dunked him in a river, put him in a circus for devouring by wild beasts, but he remained unharmed. In view of all these miracles the people began to shout: "Great is the Christian God! Free His servant!" On this day 1,000 men believed in Christ, and all accepted the crown of martyrdom. In a rage the governor gave orders even to kill the beasts for not tearing apart the saint, who was giving thanks to the Lord, -- so that even the wild beasts accepted death for Christ. They locked up Saint Emilian in prison together with his brothers and teacher, and after fierce tortures the Priestmartyrs Ilarion, Dionysius and Hermippus were beheaded with the sword. They executed Saint Emilian outside the city. When the executioner struck the martyr on the neck with a sword, it became soft like wax, and in no way wounded the saint. Soldiers fell on their knees to him, asking forgiveness and confessing Christ as the True God. Upright on his knees, the saint prayed for them and besought the Lord to grant him a martyr's death. His prayer was heard: another executioner cut off the head of the saint. Seeing a milkiness flowing from his wounds, many of the pagans believed in Christ and with honour they buried the body of the martyr (+ c. 300).
Sainted John V was Patriarch of Constantinople from 669-674, and Sainted George I -- from 678-683. They were both during the reign of the emperor Constantine Pogonatos (668-685).
The Monk Makarios was hegumen of the Pelikites monastery. During the time of the Iconoclast heresy he underwent torture and imprisonment for icon veneration. He died about the year 830.
His memory a second time is 1 April.
The Monk John of Ryl'sk -- a great spiritual ascetic of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and Heavenly Protector of the Bulgarian nation, was born in the year 876 in the village of Skrino in the Sredetsk district (ancient Sredets -- is now Sofia). Early on having been left orphaned, the boy became a cowherd in the avoidance of people. One time the rich man beat him for losing a cow with its calf. The boy cried long and he prayed, that God would help him. When he found the cow with the calf, the water at that time flowed high and strong in the River Struma. The young cowherd prayed, he placed on the water his own tattered shirt, made the sign of the cross over it, took up in his arms the calf and went with it, as though on dry land, -- to the other bank of the river where the cow was situated. The rich man, hidden in the forest, was frightened seeing this miracle and, generously having rewarded the youth, sent him away from his home. Having given away his things, the boy left from his native village. Where and when the saint took monastic vows remains unknown. At the very first he pursued asceticism on an high and barren hill, eating but wild plants. His hut was of brushwood. After a short while robbers fell upon him by night and, having beaten him, drove him off from there. Then he found a deep cave and settled in it. There his nephew Saint Luke also soon settled. The place was quite unpopulated, so that the Monk John at first considered the appearance of Luke a devilish trick, but learning that the youth sought after salvation of soul, he lovingly accepted him. Not for long, however, did they happen to live together: the brother of the Monk John found the ascetics and by force took away his son. Along the way home the youth died from the bite of a snake. Having repented, the brother asked forgiveness of the monk. The wanderer went then frequently to the grave of the righteous youth; his beloved place of rest was there. Twelve years the monk spent in the desolate cave, and then he went into the Ryl'sk wilderness and settled into the hollow of a tree. He fasted and prayed much, incessantly wept, and ate only grass. Seeing such endurance, God had beans grow up, which he ate for a long time. This sort of beans and his exploits made him known to people. One time a flock of sheep from sudden fright ran along the hilly steep paths, and did not stop until the place where the monk lived. The shepherds, following after the flock, with astonishment saw the hermit, who amicably greeted them: "Ye arrive here hungry -- pluck yourself my beans and eat". All ate and were satisfied. One gathered many beans in reserve. Along the way home he offered them to his comrades, but in the pilfered pods there remained no beans. The shepherds turned back penitent, and the starets (elder) stood there, saying with a smile: "See, children, these fruits are appointed by God for subsistence in the wilderness". From that time they began to bring to the monk the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, which he healed by prayer. Fleeing celebrity, the monk went from his beloved tree-hollow and settled on an high and difficult of access rock crag, where he dwelt for 7 years under the open sky. Reports about the great ascetic reached even the Bulgarian king Peter (927-969), who wanted to meet with him; but the Monk John, having written a letter, rejected such meeting through humility. Later on the Monk John accepted under him the nourishing of monks, who built a monastery with a church in the cave, where the Monk John formerly lived. He wisely tended his flock and died on 18 August 946 at 70 years of life. 5 years before his end he wrote by his own hand "A Testament to Disciples", one of the finest creation of Old-Bulgarian literature. The holy life of the ascetic and the remarkable mercies of God through his prayers were very fine a preaching of the Christian faith in the newly-baptised Bulgarian land. In the uneasy time of struggle of Bulgaria with Byzantium, under the west-Bulgarian king Samuel (976-1014), the Monk John appeared to his disciples, commanding them to transfer his relics to Sredets (Sofia), where the Bulgarian Patriarch Damian (927-972) was concealed. It is presumed, that the transfer of relics was in the year 980. Somewhat later the right hand of the Monk John of Ryl'sk was transferred to Russia (presumably to the city of Ryl'sk, at which was constructed a church in the name of the Monk John of Ryl'sk with a chapel dedicated to the martyrs Florus and Laurus, on the day of their memory -- 18 August -- on which he died). The name of the Monk John from deep antiquity was known and loved by the Russian people. Particularly in Russian sources (the Menaion for August in the XII Century, in the Mazurinsk Chronicle) is preserved data about the death of the monk. In the year 1183 the Hungarian king Bela II (1174-1196), during the time of a campaign against the Greeks seized with other booty in Sredets the chest with the relics of the Monk John and took it to the city of Esztergom. In the year 1187, having embellished the reliquary, he sent back the holy relics with great honour. On 19 October 1238 the relics of the Monk John were solemnly transferred to the new capital -- Tirnovo, and put in a church in the name of the saint. On 1 July 1469 the holy relics of the Monk John of Ryl'sk were returned to the Ryl'sk monastery, where they repose to the present day, granting graced help to all the believing.
The Monk Christopher was born in the locale of Gazara, near Trapezund. He was the head of a monastery on Mount Mela in the second half of the VII Century (641-668).
The Monk Barnabas and his nephew Sophronios were Athenians, saved upon Mount Mela near Trapezund in Asia Minor. They died in the year 412.
The Martyr Andrew (Andreios) Stratelates was a military commander in the Roman armies during the reign of the emperor Maximian (284-305). They loved him in the Roman armies because of his bravery, invincibility and sense of fairness. When a large Persian army invaded the Syrian territories, the governor Antiochus entrusted Saint Andrew with the command of the Roman army, giving him the title of "Stratelates" ("Commander-General"). Saint Andrew chose for himself a not large detachment of brave soldiers and proceeded against the adversary. His soldiers were pagans. Saint Andrew himself had still not accepted Baptism, but he believed in Jesus Christ. Before the conflict he persuaded the soldiers, that the pagan gods -- were demons and unable to render help in battle. He proclaimed to them Jesus Christ, the omnipotent God of Heaven and earth, giving help to all believing in Him. The soldiers went into battle, calling on the help of the Saviour. The not large detachment set to flight the numerous host of the Persians. Saint Andrew returned from the campaign in glory, having gained a total victory. But the jealous reported on him to the governor Antiochus, that he -- was a Christian, converting to his faith the soldiers under his command. Saint Andrew was summoned to trial, and there he declared his faith in Christ. For this they subjected him to torture. He reclined himself upon a bed of white-hot copper, but as soon as he recoursed to help from the Lord, the bed became cool. They crucified his soldiers on trees, but not one of them renounced Christ. Having locked the saints away in prison, Antiochus dispatched the report of charges on to the emperor, being undecided on whether to impose the death sentence upon the acclaimed victor. The emperor knew, how the army loved Saint Andrew, and fearing a mutiny, he gave orders to free the martyrs, and secretly he ordered that each under some pretext be executed separately.
Having been set free, Saint Andrew together with his fellow soldiers went on to the city of Tarsus. There the local bishop Peter and bishop Nonos of Beroeia baptised them. Then the soldiers proceeded on to the vicinity of Taxanata. Antiochus wrote a letter to the governor of the Cilicia region Seleukos, that under the excuse of deserting their military standards he should overtake the company of Saint Andrew and kill them. Seleukos came upon the martyrs in the passes of Mount Tauros, where they were evidently soon to suffer. Saint Andrew, calling the soldiers his brothers and children, urged them not to fear death. He prayed for all who would honour their memory, and besought the Lord to send a curative spring on the place where their blood would be shed. At the time of this prayer the steadfast martyrs were beheaded with swords (+ c. 302). During this time a spring of water issued forth from the ground. Bishops Peter and Nonos, with their clergy secretly following the company of Saint Andrew, buried their bodies. One of the clergy, suffering for a long time from an evil spirit, drank from the spring of water and at once he was healed. Reports about this spread amongst the local people and they started to come to the spring, and through the prayers of Saint Andrew and the 2593 Martyrs suffering with him, they received gracious help from God.
Sainted Pitirim, Bishop of Velikoperm (GreatPerm), was chosen and consecrated to the Perm cathedra-seat after the suffering and death of Sainted Gerasim of Perm (+ post 1441, Comm. 24 January). Before becoming bishop, Saint Pitirim in the dignity of archimandrite was head of the Chudov monastery. He later became known as compiler of the Canon to Sainted Alexei, Metropolitan of Moscow (Comm. 12 February), and he gathered the account of his vita-life. As bishop, Saint Pitirim first of all occupied himself with establishing friendly relations between the Zyryani and Voguli peoples. He circulated admonitory letters and messages, seeking to defend the Zyryani from pillage. The Voguli leader Asyka however, taking advantage of princely dissentions and the remoteness of the bishop from the capital, plundered Christian settlements and killed defenseless people. Novgorod landowners held lands at the Rivers Vyg and Dvina, suffering death with the constant pillaging, and in the year 1445 they marched out against the Voguli and took Asyka captive. The crafty pagan swore friendship in relation to Perm and vowed to harass Christians no longer. Set free, Asyka waited for a convenient moment to attack Ust'-Vym with the aim of killing Saint Pitirim, to whom he attributed his defeat by the Novgorodians. During this time Saint Pitirim was twice in Moscow: in 1447 for the compiling of a circular missive to prince Dimitrii Shemyaka, having broken a treaty oath (they presuppose, that the compiler of the grammota was Saint Pitirim), and again in the year 1448 for the consecration of Saint Jona, Metropolitan of Moscow (Comm. 31 March). Taking advantage of Saint Pitirim's absence, Asyka again made an attack on a Zyryani settlement near the Pechora, robbing and killing the inhabitants. Not only the Zyryani, but also the Voguli living their nomadic life near the Pechora tributary, had become convinced of the truth of the preachings of Saint Pitirim, and they had begun to accept Baptism. Embittered by this, Asyka committed a new crime. On 19 August 1456 he murdered Saint Pitirim, when he was out blessing the waters at the point of land formed by the confluence of the Rivers Vaga and Vychegda. The body of the saint remained for 40 days in a grave at the place of death (since they awaited an answer to the sad news of his death), and in spite of it being an hot period, decay did not touch him. The saint was buried in the Ust'-Vym cathedral church of the Annunciation next to his predecessor Saint Gerasim. The memory of his repose was entered into an ustav already in the year 1522. And in the year 1607 there was established the memory in common (29 January) of the three GreatPerm Sainted-Hierarchs: Gerasim, Pitirim and Jona, having succeeded one another at the Ust'-Vym cathedral.
The Martyrs Timothy, Agapios and Thekla suffered martyrdom in the year 304. The Martyr Timothy was a native of the city of Caesarea Palestine. He studied the Holy Scripture, and having received a special gift of eloquence, he became a teacher of the Christian faith. During the time of persecution against Christians under the co-emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284-305), the martyr was brought to trial by the governor Urban. Saint Timothy fearlessly declared himself a Christian and uttered an account about the love of the Lord Jesus Christ for mankind and about His coming into the world for their salvation. The martyr was subjected to cruel torture, and when they saw that he remained down, they killed him.
And in this same town and year suffered the Martyrs Agapios and Thekla -- they were thrown to wild beasts for devouring and in such suffering they received their heavenly crowns.
The Monk Theophanes the New, a native of the city of Ianina, lived during the XV Century. He accepted monastic tonsure in early youth on Holy Mount Athos at the Dokhiar monastery. He was afterwards chosen hegumen of this monastery because of his lofty virtuousness. In saving his own nephew from the Turks, who by force had taken Constantinople and there established the Moslem religion, Saint Theophanes with the help of God set free the youth, hid him in his own monastery and gave him blessing for monastic tonsure. The brethren, fearing revenge on the part of the Turks, began grumbling against the saint, and he, not wanting to be the cause of discord and dissensions, he humbly withdrew with his nephew from the Dokhiar monastery, quit the Holy Mountain and went off to Beroeia. There, in the skete monastery of Saint John the Forerunner, Saint Theophanes built a church in honour of the MostHoly Mother of God. And as monks began to gather, he gave them a common-life monastic rule. When the monastery flourished, the saint withdrew to a new place at Nausa, where he made a church in honour of the holy Archangels and founded there also a monastery. To the very end of his days Saint Theophanes did not forsake guiding the monks of both monasteries, both regarding him as their father in common. In a revelation foreseeing his own end and giving his flock a final farewell, the saint died in extreme old age at the Beroeia monastery. Even during life the Lord had glorified his humble saint: saving people from destruction, he quelled a tempest by prayer, and converted sea water into drinking water. And the saint even after death never has forsaken people with his graced help.
The Prophet Samuel was the 15th and last of the Judges of Israel, living more than 1146 years before the Birth of Christ. He was descended from the Tribe of Levi, and was the son of Elkanah from Ramathaim-Zophima of Mount Ephraim. He was born, having been besought of the Lord through the prayers of his mother Anna (wherefore he received the name Samuel, which means "besought"), and even before birth he was dedicated to God. When the boy reached age 3, his mother went with him to Shiloh and in accord with her vow gave him over to the tabernacle in care of the high-priest Eli, who at this time was a judge over the Israelite nation. The prophet grew in the fear of God, and already at 12 years of age he had the revelation, that God would punish all the house of the high-priest Eli, because he did not restrain the impiety of his sons.
The prophecy was fulfilled when the Philistines, having slain in battle 30,000 Israelites (among them were also the sons of the high-priest, Hophni and Phinees), gaining victory and capturing the Ark of the Covenant with God. Hearing of this, the high-priest Eli fell from his seat backwards at the gate, and breaking his back, he died. The wife of Phinees, upon hearing what had happened in this very hour, gave birth to a son (Ichabod) and died with the words: "The glory is gone out from Israel, for the Ark of God is taken away" (1 Sam. [1 Kings] 4: 22).
Upon the death of Eli, Samuel became the judge of the nation of Israel. The Ark of God was returned by the Philistines on their own initiative, and after their returning to God, the Israelites returned to all the cities, which the Philistines had taken. Having gotten up in years, the Prophet Samuel made his sons -- Joel and Abiah -- judges over Israel, but they followed not in the integrity and righteous judgement of their father, since they were motivated by greed. Then the elders of Israel, wanting that the nation of God should be "like other nations" (1 Sam. [1 Kings] 8: 20), demanded of the Prophet Samuel that a king be established for them. The Prophet Samuel saw in this a deep downfall of the people, which until this time God Himself had governed, announcing His will through His chosen saints. Resigning the position of judge, the Prophet Samuel asked the people, whether they consent in his continued governance, but no one stepped forward for him. After denunciation of the first king, Saul, for his disobedience to God, the Prophet Samuel anointed as king Saint David, to whom he had offered asylum, saving him from the pursuit of king Saul. The Prophet Samuel died in extreme old age. His life is recorded in the Bible (1 Sam. [1 Kings]; Sirach 46: 13-20). In the year 406 A.D. the relics of the Prophet Samuel were transferred from Judea to Constantinople.
When his father, King Osric of Deira (roughly the county of Yorkshire), was killed by the pagan Welsh King Cadwallon in 633, he was taken to Wessex for safety, baptized, and educated there by Saint Aidan (f.d. August 31). When his cousin Saint Oswald (f.d. August 9) was killed in battle against King Penda of Mercia in 642, Oswin became king of Deira, which Oswald had united to Bernicia, and his cousin Oswy (Oswiu) became king of Bernicia.
Saint Bede (f.d. May 25) tells us that Oswin was "handsome in appearance and of great stature, pleasant in speech and courteous in manner. He was generous to high and low alike and soon won the affection of all by his kingly qualities of mind and body so that even men of very high birth came from nearly every province to his service. . . . and among his other qualities of virtue and moderation the greatest was humility."
Oswin had reigned successfully for about nine years, when Oswy declared war on him. Rather than precipitate a bloody battle when he realised that his army was vastly outnumbered, Oswin went into hiding with one trusted soldier at the estate of his best friend, Earl Hunwald, at Gilling near Richmond, York. Hunwald betrayed him and he was murdered at Gilling, Yorkshire, by Ethelwin on orders from Oswy.
Oswin, buried at Tynemouth, has been venerated as a martyr since his death, because he died, "if not for the faith of Christ, at least for the justice of Christ," as a 12th-century preacher explained.
In expiation for his crime, Oswy built a monastery at Gilling, but Oswin's relics remained at Tynemouth. Later the church was subject to the Viking raids and Oswin's tomb was forgotten until it was found in 1065. At that time the relics were translated.
The Martyrs Sevirus, Memnon and 37 Martyrs suffered in Thracian Philippopolis under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). For his steadfast and fearless confession of faith, they tore at Saint Sevirus with iron hooks. Then they put red-hot rings on the fingers of his hand and girded him with a red-hot iron belt. After these tortures they blinded the martyr. When the governor learned, that the Martyr Sevirus had converted to Christ the centurion Memnon, he gave orders to subject Memnon to tortures. They tore and cut from the back of the Martyr Memnon three strips of skin. Together with him there suffered another 37 martyrs. For all of them, they cut off their hands and feet and threw them into a fiery oven (304).
The Martyr Lucius, a senator, for confessing faith in Christ was beheaded by the sword on the island of Crete in the year 310.
The Martyrs Iliodoros and Dosos (or Dos) suffered for Christ in Persia under the emperor Sapor II, in the year 380.
The Martyr Lucius, a senator, was beheaded by the sword on the island of Crete in the year 310 for confessing his faith in Christ.
The Disciple from the Seventy Thaddeus was by descent an Hebrew, and he was born in the Syrian city of Edessa. (The holy Disciple from the Seventy Thaddeus mustneeds be distinguished from the Apostle from the Twelve, Jude, also called Thaddeus or Levi, Comm. 19 June). Having come to Jerusalem for a feastday, he heard the preaching of John the Forerunner and, having received from him baptism in Jordan, he remained in Palestine. In beholding the Saviour, he became His follower, and was chosen by the Lord amidst the number of the Seventy Disciples, which He sent by twos for preaching to the cities and locales, which He intended to visit (Lk. 10: 1). After the Ascension of the Saviour to Heaven, the Disciple Thaddeus preached the good-news in Syria and Mesopotamia. He came preaching the Gospel to Edessa and he converted to Christ king Abgar, the people and the pagan-priests. He backed up his preaching with many miracles (about which Abgar wrote to the Assyrian emperor Nerses); he established there priests and built up the Edessa Church. Prince Abgar wanted to reward the Disciple Thaddeus with rich gifts, but he refused and went preaching to other cities, converting many pagans to the Christian faith. Having arrived preaching in the city of Berit (Beirut), he founded there the Church, and it was in this city that he peacefully died in the year 44. (This place for his death is indicated in the Slavonic Meneion, but according to other sources he died in Edessa. According to an ancient Armenian tradition, the Disciple Thaddeus after various tortures was beheaded by the sword on 21 December in the Artaz region in the year 50).
The Martyress Bassa with her sons Theognios, Agapios and Pistos, lived in the city of Macedonian Edessa and she was married to a pagan-priest. From childhood she had been raised in the Christian faith, which she passed on to her sons. During the time of the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311), the husband reported to the governor on his wife and children. All of them, in spite of threats, refused to offer sacrifice to idols. They took the eldest son, Theognios, and tore at him with iron claws. They flayed the skin of the lad Agapios from head to chest, but the martyr did not utter a sound. Finally, they began to torture also the youngest son Pistos. The mother did not hesitate to encourage them to endure the suffering for Christ. Then they beheaded the lads. (By one account, the three martyred brothers suffered at Edessa in Macedonia; by another account -- at Larissa in Thessaly their homeland). They locked up Saint Bassa in prison and exhausted her with hunger, but an Angel strengthened her with heavenly food. Under successive tortures she remained unharmed from fire, water and beasts. When they brought her to a pagan temple, she shattered the statue of Zeus. Then they threw the martyress into a whirlpool in the sea. But to everyone's surprise a ship sailed up, and three radiant men pulled her up (the Monk Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain suggested, that these were her children, martyred earlier). After 8 days Saint Bassa came by ship to the governor of the island of Alona, not far from Kyzika, in the Prepontid or Marmora Sea. After a beating with canes they beheaded her.
It is known, that around the year 450 there already existed at Chalcedon a church in honour of the holy Martyress Bassa.
The Monk Avraamii (Abraham) of Smolensk, a preacher of repentance and the impending Dread Last Judgement, was born in the mid-XII Century at Smolensk of rich parents, who before him had 12 daughters, and they besought God for a son. From childhood he grew up in the fear of God, he was often in church and had the opportunity to read books. The parents hoped that their only son would enter into marriage and continue their illustrious lineage, but he sought after a different life. After the death of his parents, having given away all his wealth to monasteries, to churches and to the destitute, the saint walked through the city in rags, beseeching God to show him the way to salvation.
He accepted tonsure in a monastery of the MostHoly Mother of God, five versts from Smolensk, at the locale of Selischa. Having passed through various obediences there, the monk fervently occupied himself with the copying of books, culling spiritual riches from them. The Smolensk prince Roman Rostislavich (+ 1170) started a school in the city, in which they taught not only in Slavonic, but also out of Greek and Latin books. The prince himself had a large collection of books, which the Monk Avraamii made use of. He had asceticised for more than 30 years at the monastery, when in the year 1198 the hegumen persuaded him to accept the dignity of presbyter. Every day he made Divine Liturgy and fulfilled the obedience of clergy not only for the brethren, but also for the laypeople.
Soon the monk became widely known. This aroused the envy of the brethren, and then of the hegumen also, and 5 years later the monk was compelled to transfer to the Cross-Exaltation monastery in Smolensk itself. From the offerings by the devout he embellished the cathedral church of the poor monastery with icons, and with curtains and candle-stands. He himself inscribed two icons on themes, which most of all concerned him: on the one he depicted the Dread Last Judgement, and on the other -- the suffering of the trials of life. Lean and pale from extreme toil, the ascetic in priestly garb resembled in appearance Saint Basil the Great. The saint was strict both towards himself, and towards his spiritual children. He preached constantly in church and to those coming to him in his cell, conversing with rich and poor alike.
The city notables and the clergy demanded of Bishop Ignatii to bring the monk to trial, accusing him in the seduction of women and the tempting of his spiritual children. But even more terrible were the accusations against him, of heresy and the reading of forbidden books. For this they proposed to drown or burn the ascetic. At the trial by the prince and the bishop, the monk answered all the false accusations, but despite this, they forbade him to serve as a priest and returned him to his former monastery in honour of the MostHoly Mother of God. A terrible drought occurred in consequence of God's wrath over the unjust sentence, and only when Sainted Ignatii put forth a pardon of the Monk Avraamii permitting him to serve and preach, did the rain again fall on the Smolensk lands.
The bishop Saint Ignatii built a new monastery, in honour of the Placing of the Robe of the MostHoly Mother of God, and he entrusted the guidance of it to the Monk Avraamii, and he himself settled into it, having retired because of age from the diocese. Many were desirous to enter under the guidance of the Monk Avraamii, but he examined them very intensely and only after great investigation, so that at his monastery there were but 17 brethren. The Monk Avraamii, after the death of Saint Ignatii, having become his spiritual friend, -- even moreso than before urged the brethren to reminisce about death and to pray day and night, that they be not condemned in the Judgement by God.
The chronicles listing the generations of chief shepherds of Georgia reveal that St. Sarmean was leader of the Georgian Apostolic Church from the year 767 (or 760, according to some sources) until the year 774. These were years of Arab-Muslim rule in Georgia. The Arabs persecuted the Christians, oppressed those who served in the Church, and tried in every way to convert the country to Islam. Despite the frightful abuses that the faithful endured and the transformation of the city into a residence for the emir, many Tbilisi churches continued to function.
Sarmean was a firm defender of Orthodoxy. Once, however, on Cheese-fare Thursday at Shio-MgvimeMonastery, a group of strangers bearing gifts arrived at the monastery. He served Holy Communion to them without ever inquiring into their faith. Later he learned that they were Jacobites. (members of one of the Monophysite churches.)
His carelessness was revealed to him in a dream that same night.
When he awoke the next morning, Catholicos Sarmean summoned the bishops, confessed his mistake, burned the gifts that the Jacobites had given him before their eyes, and departed for an isolated cave, where he wept over his sin with bitter tears.
But the All-merciful Lord sent a sign to St. Sarmean to inform him that his transgression had been forgiven. The bishops sent him a message from Mtskheta: “O Great Sovereign Patriarch Sarmean! Rejoice! We, your spiritual children, believers in your holiness, the entire council of bishops, wish to inform you that St. Shio has appeared and told each of the five of us that the Lord has remitted your sin. Make haste and summon us to the monastery, that we may give thanks together to our Holy Father Shio!”
Holy Catholicos Sarmean, divinely endowed with humility, faith, love, and the fear of God, led his flock wisely to the end of his days and reposed peacefully in the year 774.
Gaius Sollius (Modestus) Apollinaris Sidonius or Saint Sidonius Apollinaris (November 5 of an unknown year, perhaps 430 – August, 489) was a poet, diplomat, and bishop. Sidonius is "the single most important surviving author from fifth-century Gaul" according to Eric Goldberg. He was one of four fifth- to sixth-century Gallo-Roman aristocrats whose letters survive in quantity; the others are Ruricius bishop of Limoges (died 507), Alcimus Ecdicius Avitus, bishop of Vienne (died 518) and Magnus Felix Ennodius of Arles, bishop of Ticinum (died 534). All of them were linked in the tightly-bound aristocratic Gallo-Roman network that provided the bishops of Catholic Gaul.
Sidonius was born in Lugdunum (Lyons). His father Apollinaris (born circa 405) was the Prefect of Gaul under Valentinian III; he recalls with pride being present with his father at the installation of Astyrius as consul for the year 449.Sidonius' grandfather was Praetorian Prefect of Gaul prior 409 and a friend of his successor Decimus Rusticus. Sidonius may be a descendant of another Apollinaris who was Prefect of Gaul under Constantine II between 337 and 340.
Sidonius married Papianilla, the daughter of Emperor Avitus, around 452. This union produced one son, Apollinaris, and at least two daughters: Sidonius mentions in his letters Severina and Roscia, but a third, Alcima, is only mentioned much later by Gregory of Tours, whom Theodor Mommsen has speculated may be identified with one of his other daughters. His known acquaintances include bishop Faustus of Riez and his theological adversary Claudianus Mamertus; his life and friendships put him in the center of 5th century Roman affairs.
In 457 Majorian deprived Avitus of the empire and seized the city of Lyons; Sidonius fell into his hands. However, the reputation of the aristocrat's learning led Majorian to treat him with the greatest respect. In return Sidonius composed a panegyric in his honour (as he had previously done for Avitus), which won for him a statue at Rome and the title of count. In 467 or 468 the emperor Anthemius rewarded him for the panegyric which he had written in honour of him by raising him to the post of Urban Prefect of Rome until 469, and afterwards to the dignity of Patrician and Senator. In 470 or 472, he was elected to succeed Eparchius in the bishopric of Auvergne (Clermont, now Clermont-Ferrand).
On the capture of that city by the Goths in 474 he was imprisoned, as he had taken an active part in its defense; but he was afterwards released from captivity by Euric, king of the Goths, and continued to shepherd his flock as he had done before; he did so until his death.
Sidonius's relations have been traced over several generations as a narrative of a family's fortunes, from the prominence of his paternal grandfather's time into subsequent decline in the 6th century under the Franks. Sidonius's son Apollinaris, who was a correspondent of Ruricius of Limoges, commanded a unit raised in Auvergne on the losing side of the decisive Battle of Vouille, and also served as bishop of Clermont for four months until his death. Sidonius's grandson Arcadius, on hearing a rumor that the Frankish king Theuderic I had died, betrayed Clermont to Childebert I, only to abandon his wife and mother when Theuderic appeared; his other appearance in the history of Gregory of Tours is as a servant of king Childebert.
The Monk Avraamii died after the year 1224, having spent 50 years in monasticism. Already at the end of the XIII Century there had been compiled a service to him, conjointly with his student the Monk Ephrem. The terrible Mongol-Tatar invasion, seen as the wrath of God for sin, not only did not stifle the memory of the Monk Avraamii of Smolensk, but rather was a reminder to people of his calling to repentance and recollection of the dread Last Judgement.
The Monk Kornilii of Paleostrovsk died about the year 1420. The account about him is located under 19 May.
The Martyrs Agathonikes, Zotikos, Theoprepios (in Slavonic: Bogolep), Akyndinos, Severian, Zinon and others accepted death for Christ during the reign of the emperor Maximian (284-305). The Martyr Agathonikes was descended from the illustrious lineage of the Hypasians, and he lived at Nicomedia. Having become well versed in Holy Scripture, he converted many pagans to Christ, in which number was also the most eminent member of the Senate (its "princeps" or leader). Comitus Evtolmius was sent to the Pontine (lower Black Sea) region, where he crucified the followers of the Christian Zotikos, all who had refused to offer sacrifice to idols, but Zotikos himself he took with him. In Nicomedia Evtolmius arrested the Martyr Agathonikes (together with the princeps), and also Theoprepios, Akyndinos and Severian. After tortures, Evtolmius ordered that the martyrs be taken to Thrace for trial by the emperor. But along the way, in the vicinity of Potama, he put to death the Martyrs Zotikos, Theoprepios and Akyndinos -- who were unable to proceed further behind the chariot of the governor because of wounds received during the time of torture. The Martyr Severian was put to death at Chalcedon, and the Martyr Agathonikes together with others was beheaded with the sword by order of the emperor, in Selymbria.
The relics of the Martyr Agathonikes within a church named for him was seen at Constantinople in the year 1200 by the Russian pilgrim Antonii. And in the XIV Century Philotheos, the archbishop of Selymbria, devoted a discourse of laudation to the Martyr Agathonikes.
The PriestMartyr Athanasias, bishop of the Cilician city of Tarsus, who baptised the Nun Anthysa, was beheaded by the sword under the emperor Aurelian (270-275). The Nun Anthysa, a native of the city of Seleucia (in Syria), was the daughter of illustrious pagans. Learning of the teachings of Christ, she under pretense of visiting her benefactress instead journeyed off to Tarsus to Saint Athanasias and received Baptism from him. Her parents were enraged at their daughter for becoming a Christian. But she then -- having received monastic tonsure from Saint Athanasias -- settled in the wilderness, where she spent 23 years at ascetic deeds and died at the end of the III Century. The Martyrs Charisimos and Neophytes, who had been baptised together with the Nun Anthysa, were her servants and they too accepted death for Christ.
The Martyress Eulalia lived in Spain, near the city of Barcionum (at present now -- Barcelona), and she was raised by her parents in piety and the Christian faith. Already at 14 years of age the maiden spent a solitary life in the parental home, occupied with several of her own age in prayer, the reading of Holy Scripture, and handicrafts. During the time of a persecution against Christians, -- that under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284-305), there arrived in the city of Barcionum the governor Dacian to rid it of Christians. Hearing about this, the maiden by night secretly left her home and by morning had made her way into the city. Pushing her way through the throng of people, the girl made a bold denunciation of the judge, for forcing people to renounce the True God to instead offer sacrifice to devils. Dacian gave orders to viciously beat the girl with canes, but she steadfastly endured the torment and told the judge, that the Lord would deliver her from the feelings of pain. They suspended the martyress from a tree and tore at her skin with iron claws, and they then burnt at her wounds with torches. During the time of torment Dacian asked the saint: "Where then is thy God, Whom thou hast called upon?" She answered, that the Lord was alongside her, but that Dacian in his impurity would not be able to see Him. During the time of the saint's prayer: "Behold, God wilt help me, and the Lord be defender of my soul" (Ps. 53 : 4) -- the flames of the torches turned back upon the torturers, who fell to the ground. The Martyress Eulalia began to pray, that the Lord would take her to Heaven to Himself, and with this prayer she died. People beheld a white dove, flying up from her mouth to Heaven. The body of the saint was buried by night by Christians. The parents of the martyress, having come upon her during her sufferings, wept but were also gladdened, that their daughter would be numbered amidst the ranks of the saints. When they took Saint Eulalia from the tree, one of the Christians, by the name of Felix, said with tears of joy: "Lady Eulalia, thou art the first of us to win the martyr's crown!" The Martyr Felix himself soon accepted death for Christ (his memory is also on this day, 22 August).
The Monk Bogolep was a disciple of the Monk Paisii of Uglich (+ 1504, Comm. 6 June). In the world Saint Bogolep was a baker of bread, and then too in the monastery he bore this as his obedience. A wonderworking icon of the Protection ("Pokrov") of the MostHoly Mother of God appeared to him, when the monk went early in the morning for water to the Volga. He beheld the icon -- from whence it came unknown -- which stood at the riverbank and gleamed with an Heavenly Light. Forgetting about the water, the Monk Bogolep quickly ran back to the monastery and told everything to the Monk Paisii. The Monks Adrian, Vassian, Bogolep and Paisii in company with all the monastery brethren carried the icon to the monastery. The Monk Bogolep had the dignity of priest-monk. Before death he became a schema-monk. His memory is made on 22 August, the day of memory of the same-named Martyr Theoprepios (which in Russian translation is "Bogolep" meaning "God-worthy").
The Martyr Luppos lived at the end of the III Century - beginning II Century, and was a faithful servant of the holy GreatMartyr Demetrios of Soluneia (Thessalonika, Comm. 26 October). Being present at the death of his master, he soaked his own clothing with his blood and took a ring from his hand. With this clothing, and likewise with the ring and the name of the GreatMartyr Demetrios, Saint Luppos worked at Soluneia many miracles. He destroyed pagan idols, for which he was subjected to persecution by the pagans, but by the power of God he was preserved unharmed. Saint Luppos voluntarily delivered himself over into the hands of the torturers and by order of the emperor Maximian Galerius he was beheaded by the sword (+ post 306).
The PriestMartyr Ireneius (Ireneios), Bishop of Lyons, was born in the year 130 in the city of Smyrna (Asia Minor). He received there the finest of educations, studying poetics, philosophy, rhetoric, and all the rest of the classical sciences, considered necessary for a young man of the world. His guide in the truths of the Christian faith was a disciple of the Apostle John the Theologian -- Sainted Polycarp of Smyrna (Comm. 23 February). Saint Polycarp baptised the youth, and afterwards ordained him presbyter and sent him off to a city in Gaul then named Lugdunum (the presentday city of Lyons in France) to the dying bishop Pothinus. A commission was soon entrusted Saint Ireneius: to deliver a letter of Christ-confessors to the holy Pope of Rome Eleutherius (177-190). During the time of his absence all the known Christians were thrown into prison. After the martyr's death of Bishop Pothinus, Saint Ireneius was chosen a year later in 178 as bishop of the city of Lugdunum. "During which time, -- Sainted Gregory of Tyre writes concerning him, -- by his preaching he transformed all Lugdunum into a Christian city!" When the persecution against Christians quieted down, the saint expounded upon the Orthodox teachings of faith in one of his fundamental works under the title: "Detection and Refutation of Pretensively Called Gnosis-Knowledge", or in short form "Five Books against Heresy" ("Adversus Haereses"). During these times there had appeared a series of religious-philosophical Gnostic teachings. The Gnostics (from the Greek word "gnosis" meaning "knowledge") taught, that God is not able to be incarnated [i.e. born in human flesh], since matter is imperfect and manifests itself as the bearer of evil. They taught also that the Son of God -- is only an outflowing ("emanation") of Divinity. Together with Him from the Divinity issues forth an hierarchical series of powers ("aeons"), the unity of which comprise the "Pleroma", i.e. "Fullness". The world is not made by God Himself, but by the aeons or the "Demiourgos" ("Demiurge"), which is beneathe the "Pleroma". [trans. note: this Gnostic terminology reflects various attempts at a synthesis of the Neo-Platonic thought of the time with Christianity. But lest the reader be confused and consider all "gnosis" to be heretically Gnostic, there is indeed an Orthodox "Gnosis" theologically deriving from Christ as the "Logos" or "Word" -- "through Whom all things were made" (Jn. 1: 3) underlying the Creation, without which all theology itself would be impossible. Also, our account neglects to point out that the "Adversus Haeresus" was a compendium of the teachings of all the known heresies of the time, publishing "for free" the esoteric salvation "secret teachings" of the Gnostics, who made a business charging money to be "initiated" into the upper level of "knowers" ("illuminati" or "electi"); in doing so he helped put them out of business].
In the refutation of the heresy of Valentinus, Saint Ireneius presents the Orthodox teaching about salvation. "The Word of God, Jesus Christ, through His inexplicable blessedness caused it to be, that we also, should be made that which He is..., -- taught Saint Ireneius, -- Jesus Christ the Son of God through exceedingly great love for His creation condescended to be born of a Virgin, through His own Self having united mankind with God". Through the Incarnation of God creation becomes co-imaged and co-bodied to the Son of God. Salvation consists in the "Filiation" ("Sonship") and "Theosis" ("Divinisation") of mankind.
In the refutation of another heretic, Marcian, who denied the Divine-origin of the Old Testament [based on the problem of suffering and evil, i.e. Theodicy, with Marcian giving insufficient consideration to the issue of freedom], the saint presents the teaching about the Same Origin of the Old and the New Testaments: "It is one and the same the Spirit of God, Which through the prophets proclaimed, in what manner precisely would be the coming of the Lord, -- wrote the saint, -- He through the apostles preached, that the fullness of time of the filiation had arrived, and that the Kingdom of Heaven was come nigh".
The truthful veracity of Church teachings was grounded by Sainted Ireneius in the succession of the episcopacy, since the Church is more anciently primary than all the later heretics. "Anyone, that desireth to know the truth, ought to turn to the Church, since through Her alone did the apostles propound the Divine Truth. She is the door to life".
Saint Ireneius exerted also a beneficial influence in a dispute about the celebration of Pascha. In the Church of Asia Minor was preserved an old tradition to celebrate Holy Pascha on the 14th day of the month of Nisan, irregardless of what day of the week this occurred. Holy Pope Victor (190-202) forcefully demanded uniformity, and his harsh demands fomented a schism. In the name of the Christians of Gaul, Saint Ireneius wrote to the Pope, that while it be impossible to allow a schism on account of traditions, yet foremost of all it is necessary to esteem churchly peace.
During the reign of the emperor Severus (193-211), Sainted Ireneius was beheaded by the sword for his confession of faith, in the year 202.
The Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, Sainted Polycarp of Smyrna, and Sainted Ireneius of Lyons -- here are three links in an unbroken chain of the grace of succession, which connects back to the Original Pastor, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In extreme old age, Saint Ireneius wrote to his old friend Florinus: "I was a lad when I saw thee (Florinus) with Polycarp. I remember what then happened better than what now happens. And I can now describe for thee the place, where blessed Polycarp usually sat and conversed. I can describe his mannerisms of life, the appearance of his body and his instructions which he spoke to people. The intimate conversations which, as he said, he had with John and others who had seen the Lord, and everything that he remembered from their words, that he heard from them about the Lord... I heard this then, by the mercy of God, with fervour and did write it down, not upon paper, but upon the heart".
Irenaeus was bishop of the Baltic city of Sirmium (Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia). During the persecution under the Roman emperor Diocletian, he was arrested and brought before the local governor. Upon refusing the governor’s repeated demands that he must offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Irenaeus was tortured on a rack. During this torment, he was again urged to offer sacrifice, but he remained steadfast in his refusal. His resolve was further put to the test by the impassioned pleas of his family, who urged him to yield. At length, Irenaeus was sent back to prison, where he was subjected to more harsh treatment and additional tortures in a final effort to make him apostatize. But when he was again interrogated, he was found to be as firm as ever in his determination to persevere in his faith. In the end, he was beheaded.
Tydfil gave her name to Merthyr Tydfil (Merthyr meaning martyr in the Welsh language). Her martyrdom took place during a pitched battle between her family and a band of marauding Picts during the fifth century AD. Although much of what is known about her comes from monks writing long after she was supposed to have lived, evidence shows that she did exist and that she did meet with a violent end.
Tydfil was the daughter of King Brychan, the half-Irish, half-Welsh ruler of Garth Madry (Brecon today). Brychan had four wives and several concubines and was said to have had 11 sons and 25 daughters. Tydfil was his 23rd daughter by his fourth wife. Most of Brychan's children were well educated, girls and boys, at a school in Gwenddwr on the Wye and went on to live deeply religious lives. They founded churches all over Wales, Cornwall and Brittany and were known as the "wandering saints".
Tydfil chose as her home the Taff River valley, sparsely populated by Celt farmers and their families. She became known for her compassion and healing skills as she nursed both sick humans and animal. She established an early Celtic monastic community, leading a small band of men and women. She built a "llan" or enclosure around a small wattle and daub church, much as other "saints" of the time. Her home included a hospice, outhouses and a scriptorium. There she lived quietly, bringing hope and support to the people of the Taff valley.
In his old age, King Brychan decided to visit his children one last time. He took with him his son Rhun Dremrudd, his grandson Nefydd and Nefydd's own son, along with servants and warriors. They visited his third daughter, Tanglwstl, at her religious community at Hafod Tanglwstl, what is now known as the village of Aberfan, south of Merthyr Tydfil. Brychan wanted to stay with his daughters a little longer, so he sent most of his warriors and Nefydd on ahead, along the homeward journey. The king went on to Tydfil's home while Rhun and Nefydd's son were still at Hafod Tanglwstl.
So the party was spread out along the Taff Valley; a distance of about seven miles and all uphill. Wales at this time was suffering from raids from Scottish Picts free to roam around now that the Romans had long gone. Some had even settled at South Radnorshire, near Brychan's kingdom. Perhaps the news of the king's absence had reached the Pict settlement and they decided to take advantage of the king's vulnerability. In retrospect, Brychan would appear to have made a very foolish decision in allowing his party to split up.
Rhun Dremrudd was attacked by a raiding party, a mile from Hafod Tanglwstl and he died defending a bridge over the river at what is now the village of Troedyrhiw. The bridge gave the Picts free access to the King's party and Rhun Dremrudd put up a good fight. The Picts then split into two groups: one devastated the Hafod Tanglwstl community and the other pursued the king.
The king and his followers were robbed of their jewellery, money and clothes. Servants and family were all cut down. While the others ran and fought and panicked, Tydfil knelt and calmly prayed, before she too was brutally slain. Then the Picts retreated over the Aberdare mountain. By then, Nefydd and his warriors caught up with them and avenged the deaths of his family at "Irishman's Hill" before returning to bury their dead.
Tydfil was buried within the church she founded, amongst the people she had cared for. A Celtic Cross was put up in a clearing near the Taff which became a meeting place for the people of the valley. In the 13th century the cross and wattle and daub church were replaced by a stone church dedicated to Saint Tydfil the Martyr. This was in turn replaced in 1807, and rebuilt again in 1894. The church still stands at its place by the River Taff and is one of the first things the tourist sees as he or she enters the town centre from the south side.
When the Norman church was demolished, a stone coffin was found, forming part of the foundations. Also, there were two stone pillars, one of which was dedicated to Brychan's son Arthen, who also died in the battle. The site was probably still being kept sacred to the memory of Tydfil and her murdered family.
The Monks Eutychius and Florentius were monks pursuing asceticism in the region of Nursa in Italy during the VI Century. Saint Eutychius by his teaching converted many to God. When the hegumen of a nearby monastery died, they appealed to him to become its head. He consented, but continued to be concerned with the former place of his ascetic activity, where his companion Florentius remained. The Monk Florentius worked many miracles during his lifetime. For example, he tamed a bear, which served him, and it shepherded sheep. carried water and obeyed other commands of the elder. Jealous of the fame of Saint Florentius, four monks killed the bear. The saint predicted the wrath of God upon the murderers. And thus it happened according to his words -- the monks were stricken with illness. But seeing the wrath of God having befallen the monks, the Monk Florentius was grievously saddened and distressed at the occurrence, considering himself the murderer of those monks. Saint Eutychius did not work miracles during his lifetime, but after death his remaining clothing began to produce healings. During a time of drought they went with his clothing along the fields, and God sent rain (this was in the year 1492). The Monk Eutychius died on 23 May 540, and the Monk Florentius, on 1 June 547.
Sainted Kallinikos, Patriarch of Constantinople (693-705), was at first presbyter in the temple of the MostHoly Mother of God at Blakhernae, but in 693 with the death of Patriarch Paul (686-693), he was elevated to the Constantinople throne. During this time reigned the cruel Justinian II (685-695), who undertook the construction of a palace very near the church of the MostHoly Mother of God and decided to demolish it. The emperor ordered Patriarch Kallinikos to give his blessing for tearing it down. The patriarch answered, that he had prayers only for the building of churches, not their destruction. When the church was demolished, with tears he cried out: "Glory to Thee, O Lord, in enduring all things".
Soon the wrath of God befell Justinian. He was toppled from the throne and sent for imprisonment to Chersonessus, where they cut off his nose (from which he received the nickname "Short-nose"). Leontius (695-698) came upon the throne. After 10 years Justinian fled from his imprisonment, gathered an army and advanced on Constantinople. He promised the Patriarch and the emperor that, in entering the city, he would harm no one, and gave his oath on this before the Cross, the Gospel and the Holy Mysteries. But having entered into Constantinople, he immediately broke his oath and began to destroy the citizens and people of importance, and beheaded the emperor. He ordered the holy Patriarch Kallinikos seized, his eyes plucked out, his tongue and nose cut off, and be shut in alive into a stone wall at Rome. After 40 days the walling collapsed and Saint Kallinikos was found alive, although from weakness he hardly breathed and after 4 days he died (+ 705). The Apostles Peter and Paul appeared to the Roman Pope John VI (701-705) in a vivid dream and commanded that Saint Kallinikos be buried in the church of the Apostles at Rome.
The PriestMartyr Eutykhios, a disciple of the holy Apostles John the Theologian and Paul, lived from the I Century into the beginning II Century, and was from the city of Palestinian Sebasteia. Although Saint Eutykhios is not reckoned among the number of the 70 Disciples, he received the title Disciple for his labours together with the older Apostles, by whom he was made bishop. Having heard the preaching about Christ the Saviour, Saint Eutykhios at first became a student of the Apostle John the Theologian, and then having met the Apostle Paul, he preached together with him on the early journeys. Saint Eutykhios underwent many sufferings: they starved him with hunger, struck at his body with iron, they flung him in the fire and then for devouring by wild beasts. One time there was let loose upon the saint a lion, which brought fright to everyone in that it rendered praise to the Creator -- having been given human voice. The Priestmartyr Eutykhios finished with his works in his native city, where he was beheaded with a sword at the beginning of the II Century.
Sainted Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow, died on 21 December 1326. (The account about him is located under 21 December). The first transfer of his relics was on 1 July 1472 -- a feastday then established. The second transfer of the relics of Sainted Peter was after the consecration of the Uspensk (Dormition) Cathedral -- constructed anew -- on 24 August 1479, and the feastday of 1 July was replaced. A feastday of appearing-forth of the relics of Sainted Peter (4 August) is also known of -- upon the occasion of an appearance to the spouse of Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584), -- the tsaritsa Anastasia (1547-1560). Sainted Peter appeared to tsaritsa Anastasia and allowed no one to open up his grave. He commanded the grave to be sealed and a feastday established.
From Sainted Peter are preserved three epistles. The first was to priests with an exhortation to worthily pursue their pastoral service, and to tend zealously their spiritual children. It concluded with an account of Church law concerning widowed priests: with the aim of protecting them from reproach and temptation he advised them to settle in a monastery, and their children to be enrolled for upbringing and instruction in a monastery school. In the second missive, the saint urged priests to be true pastors and not hirelings, and to be concerned about the strengthening of oneself with Christian and pastoral virtues. In the third missive, Saint Peter again gives an exhortation to priests concerning their pastoral obligations, and he urges laypeople to fulfill the commandments of Christ.
Prominent in church-state affairs, Sainted Peter even for his contemporaries gave good cause to compare him with Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. The principal effort of Saint Peter was in the struggle for an unified Russian state and the blessing of Moscow as the unifier of the Russian land.
The New Hieromartyr Cosmas, Equal of the Apostles, in the world Constas, was a native of Aitolia. He studied at first under the guidance of the archdeacon Ananias Dervisanos, and afterwards continued his education on Mount Athos, at the Vatopedi school renowned for teachers such as Nicholas Tzartzoulios (from Metsovo) and Eugenius Voulgaris (afterwards in the years 1775-1779 the archbishop of Ekaterinoslav and the Chersonessus).
Remaining on Athos at the Philotheou monastery to devote himself to spiritual labors, he was tonsured a monk with the name Cosmas, and later was ordained hieromonk. The desire to benefit his fellow Christians, to guide them upon the way of salvation and strengthen their faith, impelled St Cosmas to seek the blessing of his spiritual fathers and go to Constantinople. There he mastered the art of rhetoric and, having received a written permit of Patriarch Seraphim II (and later from his successor Sophronius) to preach the Holy Gospel.
So the saint began to proclaim the Gospel at first in the churches of Constantinople and the surrounding villages, then in the Danube regions, in Thessalonica, in Verroia, in Macedonia, Chimaera, Akarnania, Aitolia, on the islands of Saint Maura, Kephalonia and other places.
His preaching, filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, was simple, calm, and gentle. It brought Christians great spiritual benefit. The Lord Himself assisted him and confirmed his words with signs and miracles, just as He had confirmed the preaching of the Apostles.
Preaching in the remote areas of Albania, where Christian piety had almost disappeared among the rough and coarse people entrenched in sin, St Cosmas led them to sincere repentance and improvement with the Word of God.
Under his guidance, church schools were opened in the towns and villages. The rich offered their money for the betterment of the churches, for the purchase of Holy Books (which the saint distributed to the literate), veils (which he gave women, admonishing them to come to church with covered heads), for prayer ropes and crosses (which he distributed to the common folk), and for baptismal fonts so that children could be baptized in the proper manner.
Since the churches could not accommodate everyone wanting to hear the wise preacher, St Cosmas with forty or fifty priests served the Vigil in the fields, and in city squares, where thousands of people prayed for the living and for the dead, and were edified by his preaching. Everywhere that St Cosmas halted and preached, the grateful listeners set up a large wooden cross, which remained thereafter in memory of this.
The apostolic service of St Cosmas was brought to a close by his martyric death in the year 1779. At 65 years of age, he was seized by the Turks and strangled. His body was thrown into a river, and after three days, was found by the priest Mark and buried near the village of Kolikontasi at the monastery of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos. Afterwards, part of his relics were transferred to various places as a blessing.
He was glorified by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1961.
The monk Arsenii of Komel'sk was born in Moscow, and was descended from a family of nobility, the Sakharusov. In his youth he took monastic vows at the Trinity-Sergiev monastery, and he occupied himself there with the copying of books: a Gospel is known of copied by him in the year 1506. In the years 1525-1527 the monk was hegumen at the Trinity-Sergiev monastery. He often withdrew to the solitary Makrisch monastery. GreatPrince Vasilii IV (1505-1533) -- making a visit at the monastery at that time, was surprised to behold the hegumen of a prosperous monastery in old clothes covered with patches. The brethren explained that the Monk Arsenii wished to travel in the wilderness.
Setting out together with his own cell elder to the Komel'sk forest -- located 50 versts from Vologda, the Monk Arsenii made a large wooden cross and with this cross on his shoulders he set out through the forest to pick out a spot for a future wilderness monastery. Coming to a marshy place through a swamp, the monk stumbled under the heavy cross and fell. An heavenly beam of light flashed upon the ascetic at this very moment and convinced him to establish it on this site. He set up the cross and built the first cell.
The local inhabitants, going therabouts to hunt wild animals, killed the cell-mate of the Monk Arsenii, and he himself was forced to withdraw into the Shilegonsk forest. There soon gathered at his new monastery several monks, and afterwards there settled at it fugitives from a Tatar incursion upon the surrounding populace. The Monk Arsenii, seeking after silence, desired to live in a more quiet spot. In the year 1530 GreatPrince Vasilii gave him a gramota (deed) for land in the Komel'sk forest at the Kokhtisha River. The monk began here to clear the forest together with his student Gerasim. By prayer the saint tamed the wild beasts. When several monks had gathered about him, he built a church in honour of the Placing of the Veil of the MostHoly Mother of God. Visiting the Shilegonsk monastery, the monk instructed the peasants, who had settled in the area of the monastery. He bid them reverently to observe feastdays and Sundays. One time when a peasant had heard him and started to work on a feastday, a wind suddenly arose scattering all his sheaves.
Having spent his life in fasting, prayer and constant work, the monk died on 24 August 1550. His Life was written soon after his death, but burned during the time of a conflagration in the Komel'sk monastery in 1596. In shortened form it was restored from the surviving manuscripts and added to with posthumous miracles by a monk of the monastery, John. An hundred years later after the death of the monk, the hegumen Joasaph built at the monastery a stone church in honour of the Placing of the Veil of the MostHoly Mother of God. Two chapels of this church show the spiritual bond of teacher and student. The left chapel was dedicated to the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, and the right -- to the Monk Arsenii of Komel'sk.
Sainted Martyrii, ArchBishop of Novgorod, was born in Stara Rus'. On the northeast side of the city, near the right bank of the Polista River he founded in the year 1192 the Preobrazhenie (Transfiguration) men's monastery. At the Novgorod cathedral, Saint Martyrii was chosen by lot after the death of Sainted Gregory (+ 1193, Comm. 24 May). On 10 December 1193 in Kiev, he was elevated to the dignity of archbishop. Sainted Martyrii became famous as an indefatigable builder of churches. In May 1195 he contracted for a church in the name of the Mother of God at the city gates, on 13 September 1196 he consecrated a church in honour of the Resurrection (Voskresenie) of Christ in a new women's monastery at Lake Myachina. In January 1197 the saint consecrated a church in the name of Sainted Cyril of Alexandria at the same-named men's monastery 3 versts from Novgorod. In the year 1197 he contracted in the carpenter's quarter of Novgorod for a women's monastery in the name of the holy GreatMartyress Euthymia -- built by pious young women of the city. In January 1197 Sainted Martyrii consecrated at the Preobrazhenie monastery in Stara Rus' a temple in the name of Sainted Nicephoros, Patriarch of Tsargrad. In May 1198 he began to build a stone church in honour of the Transfiguration of the Lord, and on 15 August of the same year he consecrated it. And in that same year princess Elena, spouse of prince Yaroslav Vladimirovich, built on the merchants' side at Molotkova a church in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God at the monastery, founded by Saint Martyrii. The church was built in memory of the following miracle. A certain devout Novgorod person went to church each day. One time he returned home, and becoming tired, he fell asleep and dropped a prosphora imprinted with the Mother of God. The dogs, smelling bread, ran up to the prosphora but jumped away, driven off by an invisible power.
GreatPrince Vsevolod became disaffected with the Novgorod people, and in 1199 Saint Martyrii together with representatives of the townspeople set off to Vladimir. Along the way -- on the shore of Lake Seliger, he died on 24 August 1199. His body was taken to Novgorod in the Martyriev Portico of the Sophia Cathedral -- receiving this designation because it was built by Saint Martyrii. His image is known of in the altar of the Novgorod Sophia Cathedral.
Saint Arsenius of Komel was born in Moscow, and was descended from a noble family, the Sakharusov. In his youth he was tonsured at the Trinity-Sergiev monastery, and he occupied himself there with the copying of books. There is a Gospel that he copied in the year 1506. In the years 1525-1527 the monk was igumen at the Trinity-Sergiev monastery. He often withdrew to the solitary Makrisch monastery. Great Prince Basil IV (1505-1533), making a visit to the monastery at that time, was surprised to behold the igumen of a prosperous monastery in old clothes covered with patches. The brethren explained that St Arsenius wished to travel in the wilderness.
Setting out together with his own cell elder to the Komel forest located 50 versts from Vologda, St Arsenius made a large wooden cross, and with this cross on his shoulders he set out through the forest to pick out a spot for a future monastery. Coming to a marshy place through a swamp, the monk stumbled under the heavy cross and fell. A heavenly beam of light flashed upon the ascetic at this very moment and convinced him to establish his monastery on this site. He set up the cross and built the first cell.
The local inhabitants, went there to hunt wild animals, and killed the disciple of St Arsenius. He himself was forced to withdraw into the Shelegod forest. Several monks soon gathered at his new monastery, and afterwards fugitives from a Tatar incursion upon the surrounding populace settled there. St Arsenius, seeking after silence, desired to live in a quieter spot.
In the year 1530 Great Prince Basil gave him a deed for land in the Komel forest at the Kokhtisha River. The monk began here to clear the forest together with his disciple Gerasimus. By prayer, the saint tamed the wild beasts. When several monks had gathered about him, he built a church in honor of the Placing of the Veil of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Visiting the Shelegod monastery, the monk instructed the peasants who had settled in the area of the monastery. He bid them reverently to observe feastdays and Sundays. Once when a peasant who had heard him started to work on a feastday, a wind suddenly arose scattering all his sheaves.
Having spent his life in fasting, prayer and constant work, St Arsenius died on August 24. 1550. His Life was written soon after his death, but burned in a fire in the Komel monastery in 1596. In shortened form, it was restored from the surviving manuscripts and augmented with posthumous miracles by John, a monk of the monastery.
A hundred years later after the death of the saint, the igumen Joasaph built a stone church at the monastery in honor of the Placing of the Veil of the Most Holy Theotokos. Two chapels of this church show the spiritual bond of teacher and disciple. The left chapel was dedicated to St Sergius of Radonezh, and the right to St Arsenius of Komel.
The Martyr Tation lived in Bythnia and suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). When the persecutors of Christians learned that he believed in Christ, they arrested him and took him to the city of Claudiopolis to the governor, Urban. Many times they urged the saint to recant from Christ, and they locked him in prison and gave him over to various tortures. They beat him with sticks and dragged him beyond the city for execution. The holy martyr, having made the sign of the cross, died along the way (+ 305).
The Martyress Sira lived during the VI Century in Persia and was the daughter of an illustrious pagan-priest of the fire-worshippers (i.e. Zoroastrians) from Karkh-Seleucia in Elimiade (Abizarde). Sira's father, fearing the influence of Christianity on his daughter, sent her after the death of her mother to the city of Tharsis for education as a pagan-priestess, which taught her the pagan-priestly craft. Sira became a priestess at the heathen-temple of fire, and occupied herself with honourable activity. But once, having conversed with some Christian beggars, Sira believed in Christ the Saviour and began to live as a Christian: she began to learn prayers and psalms, to fast and to read Christian books.
One time Sira fell ill. She was not able to discover a remedy for her sickness, and she went to the Christian church and asked the presbyter only but to give her some of the ashes from the church, hoping to receive healing from it. The presbyter, knowing Sira to be a servitor of idols, refused her request. Sira was not angered, knowing about her own unworthiness, but she with faith touched the robe of the priest, as once formerly the woman with the issue of blood did touch the robe of the Saviour (Mt. 9: 20-22). She immediately received healing and she returned home healthy. Sira's family began to suspect that she wanted to accept Christianity, and they asked Sira's step-mother to persuade her to abandon her intention. The step-mother, making a pretense, as though she herself were a secret christian, with sweetness talked with Sira to keep her faith in secret, and outwardly to continue to serve the fire, so as not to fall away from Christ altogether by being subjected to torture. Sira began to hesitate about accepting Baptism, but having received a vision in her sleep about the desolate fate which befell her mother after death, and about the luminous abodes foreordained for Christians, she made up her mind and went to the bishop, asking him to baptise her. The bishop declined fulfilling her request, fearing to give the pagan-priests occasion for persecuting Christians. Besides this, he thought that Sira, fearing her father's wrath, would recant from Christ. The bishop advised her first to openly confess her faith in the Saviour in front of her kinsfolk.
One time during the making of the morning sacrifice, Saint Sira was stoking the priestly fire -- worshipped by the Persians as their god, and overturning the sacrifice she proclaimed loudly: "I am a Christian and reject false gods and I believe in the True God!" The father beat his daughter until he became exhausted, and then threw her in prison. With tears and entreaties he urged her to return to her former faith, but Sira was unyielding. The father then made denunciation against her to the pagan high-priest, and afterwards to the governor and to the emperor Khozroes the Elder. They tortured the holy maiden for a long time in prison, but the Lord strengthened her, and she stood firmly on her faith in Christ. One time, having bribed the prison guard, Saint Sira went to the bishop and received Baptism. The Lord vouchsafed Saint Sira the gift of wonderworking. When the Persians gave the martyress over for the leering of impious men, they began to jeer at the saint, saying: "What's the fable told about thee, that the chains themselves fall from thee, from thy neck, hands and legs? Let us see now, how the chains fall off!" Against such words Saint Sira prayed in the depths of her heart to the Saviour, and immediately the chains fell from her. And this was not the only time. Succumbing to her tortures, Saint Sira fell deathly ill. She began to entreat the Lord that He not allow her to die from the illness, but rather vouchsafe her a martyr's crown. The Lord heard her and granted healing. Seeing the martyress healthy, the prison guard and jail warden went to dishonour the holy maiden, but the Lord struck one with illness and the other one was struck dead. The martyress was condemned to strangling.
They conducted the execution with refined cruelty: after a while they left go of the rope, asking the saint whether she wanted to change her mind and remain among the living. But the martyress, barely alive, answered a refusal and requested the execution be done quickly. The body of the saint was thrown to dogs for devouring, but they would not touch it. Christians buried the body of Saint Sira (+ 558).
Saint Serapion was abbot of the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. He was endowed by God with the ability to work miracles.
Once St. Serapion set off for the city, following at a short distance behind several of the monastery’s brothers.
While they were traveling, a group of bandits attacked the monks who were walking in front of their abbot and made off with many of the church vessels they were carrying.
Terrified, the monks ran back to Serapion and told him what had happened.
“Great is God!” said Serapion. “I will not permit the unbelievers to steal His sacred things!”
With staff in hand, the elder raced ahead alone in pursuit of the robbers. When the robbers turned back they saw a terrible flame issuing forth from the elder’s staff and became greatly afraid. They abandoned the donkey that had been carrying their spoils and took to their heels. Another time Serapion suddenly burst out of his cell and cried to the brothers, “Woe is me! Woe is me! Robbers have attacked the servants on their way to the monastery!”
Having made this frightening announcement, he returned to his cell and began to pray. After a few hours the distraught servants arrived at the monastery and reported that bandits had attacked them along the way. The servants said that, when fleeing their attackers, they had abandoned the mules that were hauling the monastery’s property. A short time later the mules arrived at the monastery unaccompanied, bearing their load as before.
St. Serapion eventually abandoned his leadership of the monastery. He was tonsured into the great schema and withdrew into seclusion. Soon after, God revealed to him that his death was near, and he asked the brothers to bury him under the church gates, in a grave that he had prepared for himself. He intended for all who entered there to walk over his grave.
St. Serapion reposed in the year 1774.
The Monk George Limniotes lived during the VIII Century and was a monk of the Olympia monastery near Constantinople. He suffered for venerating icons under the Iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian (716-741). They burned his head and cut off his nose. The Monk George died in about the year 716.
The Transfer of the Relics of the Apostle Bartholomew was at the end of the VI Century. His apostolic activity and martyr's end are remembered by the Church on 11 June. The Apostle Bartholomew suffered for Christ in Armenian Albano (now Baku) in the year 71, where also his holy relics were situated. From the relics of the holy apostles occurred numerous miracles, and many of the unbelieving were converted to Christ. Under the emperor Anastasios (491-518) the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew were transferred into the newly constructed city of Anastasiopolis (or Dareia) and remained there until the end of the VI Century.
When the city of Anastasiopolis was captured by the Persian emperor Khozroes, Christians took up the chest with the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew and fled with it to the shores of the Black Sea. Having overtaken them, pagan-priests threw the chest with the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew into the sea. Together with it, 4 other chests were thrown into the sea containing the relics of the holy Martyrs Papian, Lucian, Gregory and Akakios. By the power of God the chests did not sink into the depths of the sea, but rather accomplished a miraculous floating upon the waves and reached Italy. The chest with the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew came to land at the island of Lipari, and the remaining chests continued their journey and came to land at various places in Italy. The chest with the relics of the Martyr Papian halted at Sicily, the Martyr Lucian -- at Messina, the Martyr Gregory -- at Calabria, and the Martyr Akakios -- at Asculusa. The arrival of the relics of the holy Apostle Bartholomew was revealed to the bishop of the island of Lipari -- Agathon, who went with clergy to the shores of the sea, took up the chest from the waters and solemnly transferred it to church. From the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew there flowed out myrh, giving healing for various illness. The holy relics remained in the church of the island of Lipari until the middle of the IX Century, when the island was captured by pagans. Christian merchants took up the holy relics of the Apostle Bartholomew and transferred them to the city of Beneventum, where they were received with great veneration and placed in the main church of the city.
The Disciple from the Seventy Titus was a native of the island of Crete, the son of an illustrious pagan. In his youthful years he studied attentively at Hellenistic philosophy and the ancient poets. Preoccupied by the sciences, Titus led a virtuous life, not devoting himself to the vices and passions characteristic of the majority of pagans. He preserved his virginity, as the Priest-martyr Ignatios the God-bearer (comm. 20 December) testified about him. For such a manner of life the Lord did not leave him without His help. At age twenty in a dream Saint Titus heard a voice, suggesting to him to abandon the Hellenistic wisdom, not providing salvation for his soul, but rather to seek out that which would save him. After this dream Saint Titus waited still another year, since it was not actually like a command, but it guided him to familiarise himself with the teachings of the prophets of God. The first that he happened to read was the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Having opened it to the 47th Chapter, he was struck by the words, speaking as it were about his own spiritual condition.
When news reached Crete about the appearance in Palestine of a Great Prophet, and about the great miracles worked by Him, the governor of the island of Crete, an uncle of Titus by birth, sent him there. This Prophet was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, incarnated of the MostHoly Virgin Mary and having come into the world for the redemption of the race of mankind from its oppression of the original sin. At Jerusalem Saint Titus beheld the Lord; he heard His preaching and believed in Him. He was a witness of the suffering on the Cross and death of the Saviour, His glorious Resurrection and Ascent to Heaven. On the day of Pentecost the future disciple heard, standing in the crowd, how the 12 Apostles, -- after the descent upon them of the Holy Spirit, spoke in various languages among which was the Cretan language (Acts 2: 11). Saint Titus accepted Baptism from the Apostle Paul and became his closest disciple. He accompanied the Apostle Paul on his missionary journeys, time and again he fulfilled entrusted tasks, was involved in the establishing of new churches, and was with him in Jerusalem. Saint Titus was numbered among the 70 Disciples and was ordained by the Apostle Paul as bishop of Crete. Around the year 65, not long before the second imprisonment, the Apostle Paul dispatched a pastoral epistle to his selected one (Tit. 1-3). When the Apostle Paul was taken like a criminal to Rome to stand trial before Caesar, Saint Titus for a time left his flock in Crete and went to Rome to be of service to his spiritual father. After the death by martyrdom of the Apostle Paul, the Disciple Titus returned to the chief city of Crete -- Gortyn.
The Disciple Titus peacefully guided his flock and toiled at enlightening the pagans with the light of faith in Christ. He was granted by the Lord the gift of wonderworking. During a time of one of the pagan feasts in honour of the goddess Diana, Titus preached to a gathered crowd of pagans. When he saw, that they would not listen to him, he prayed to the Lord, so that the Lord Himself would show to the mistaken people the non-entity of idols. By the prayer of the Disciple Titus, the idol of Diana fell down and shattered before the eyes of all. Another time the Disciple Titus prayed, that the Lord would not permit the completion of a temple under construction raised up to Zeus, and it collapsed. By such miracles the Disciple Titus brought many to faith in Christ. Having enlightened with the light of faith the surrounding regions, the Disciple Titus died peacefully in the extreme old age of 97. At death his face shone like the sun.
Sainted Barsis and Eulogios, Bishops of Edessa, and Protogenos the Confessor, Bishop of Caria, suffered from the Arians in the second half of the IV Century. The emperor Valentius (364-378), wishing to propagate the Arian heresy, undertook a fierce persecution against the Orthodox. In the city of Edessa he banished from the bishop's throne Saint Barsis, a champion for Orthodoxy, sending him for confinement to the island of Arad. The Orthodox population there received the exiled saint with great honour. They banished him farther, to the Egyptian city of Oxyrinth, but there also was repeated the warm welcome. Then Saint Barsis was banished to the very frontier of the imperial realm, to the faraway city of Thenon where, exhausted by his exiles, he died (+ 378). At Edessa the emperor Valentius raised up upon the bishop's cathedra an Arian false-bishop by the name of Lupus, which means wolf, and who both by name and by deed showed himself to be like a wolf, in scattering the flock of the sheep of Christ. The Orthodox population of Edessa, both clergy and laypeople, ceased to attend their church, which had been seized by the Arians. They gathered together outside the city and celebrated the Divine-services in an open area.
Having learned of this, the emperor ordered the eparch Modestus to kill all the Orthodox, appearing for Divine-services outside the city. The eparch pitied the city and he informed the Orthodox, that they should not go to Divine-services. But the believers did contrary: fervent with the desire to receive a martyr's crown for Christ, they all as one went to the place where they usually gathered for prayer. Eparch Modestus, obeying his orders, embarked their with his armed soldiers. Along the way he saw a woman, who hastened to Divine-services with her small child, so as not to deprive him of the martyr's crown. Shaken, eparch Modestus turned around back with his soldiers. Appearing before the emperor Valentius, he urged him to cancel the decree about killing all the Orthodox and to extend it only upon the clergy. They led to the emperor persons of spiritual rank, and in the lead the eldest presbyter Eulogios. The emperor urged them to go into church-communion with the pseudo-bishop Lupus, but none of them agreed. After this in chains they sent 80 men of clergy rank for confinement in Thrace. Orthodox met them along the way with great reverence as being confessors, and furnished them all the necessities. Having learned of this, the emperor gave orders to divide up the martyrs in pairs, and to spread them out to remote places.
The holy presbyters Eulogios and Protogenos were sent to the Thivean city of Antinea. There by their preaching they converted many idol-worshippers to Christ and baptised them. When the emperor Valentius perished and upon the throne entered the holy nobleborn emperor Theodosius (379-395), the Orthodox confessors remaining alive after the persecution were returned from exile. The holy presbyters Eulogios and Protogenos returned to Edessa. On the place of the dead and banished bishop of Edessa, Saint Barsis, presbyter Eulogios was elevated to bishop, and the holy presbyter Protogenos was made bishop in the Mesopotamian city of Caria. Both saints guided their flocks until their death, which occurred at the end of the IV Century.
Sainted Minos, Patriarch of Constantinople (536-552), was at first a presbyter at Constantinople and supervisor there for the homeless-shelter home of the holy Monk Sampson the Hospitable-to-Strangers during the reign of Saint Justinian I (527-565). After the removal of the heretic Anthymos (535-536), the holy presbyter Minos was elevated upon the Constantinople patriarchal throne as one worthy to be bishop for his profound virtue and firm confession of Orthodoxy. His ordination was done by the Pope of Rome Agapitus (535-536) who then at the time was in Constantinople. During the time of the patriarchate of Saint Minos there occurred a miracle in Constantinople, widely known to all the city.
A certain Hebrew lad went with other children to church and he communed the Holy Mysteries of Christ. At home he told his father about this. In a terrible rage he seized the child and threw him into a red-hot oven (this Hebrew was a glass-blower). He said nothing to his wife. The mother for three days in tears searched for her son, -- loudly did she call for him, and finally on the third day he emerged to her from the red-hot oven. With difficulty she pulled out the child, who was unharmed. The boy told, that a MostRadiant Lady had there come to him, and She cooled down the fire and brought water and food. This incident became known to Saint Minos and the emperor Justinian I. The boy and his mother received baptism, but the father of the child became obdurate and did not wish to repent, in spite of the great miracle to which he was a witness. Then the emperor handed over for trial as a child-killer and sentenced him to death by execution. The holy Patriarch Minos ruled the Constantinople Church for 16 years. During the time of his patriarchate at Constantinople, the famous temple in honour of Saint Sophia the Wisdom of God was consecrated. The saint died peacefully in the year 552.
Sainted John the Cappadocian, Patriarch of Constantinople, occupied the patriarchal throne from 518-520. The holy Patriarch Photios (857-867) termed him "an habitation of virtues".
Sainted Epiphanios, Patriarch of Constantinople, occupied the cathedra from 520 to 535. He died peacefully in the year 535.
The Martyrs Adrian and Natalia were married in their youth for one year prior to their martyrdom. They lived in Bithynian Nicomedia during the time of the emperor Maximian (305-311). Having started his persecution, the emperor promised a reward to whomever would inform on Christians to bring them to trial. There began the denunciations, and through one of these there were seized 23 Christians, hiding in a cave near Nicomedia. They were tortured, urged to worship idols, and then taken to the judgement palace, in order to record their names and responses. Adrian, the head of the judgement palace, looking on as they brought in the people suffering with such courage for their faith, and how firmly and fearlessly they confessed Christ, asked: "What rewards do ye expect from your God for suffering?" The martyrs replied: "Such rewards, as we are not able to describe, nor thy mind comprehend". Inspired, Saint Adrian told the scribes: "Write me down also, that I be a Christian and with joy I do die for Christ God". The scribes reported about this to the emperor, who summoned Saint Adrian and asked: "Really, hast thou gone mad, that thou dost want to die? Come, cross out thine name from the lists and offer sacrifice to the gods, asking their forgiveness". Saint Adrian answered: "I am not mad, but the rather have been converted to health of mind". Maximian then ordered Adrian to be thrown into prison. His wife, Saint Natalia, knowing that her husband was suffering for Christ, rejoiced, since she herself was secretly a Christian. She hastened to the prison and encouraged her husband saying: "Blest be thou, mine lord, in that thou hast believed on Christ, wherein thou hast obtained a great treasure. Regret not anything of earth, neither beauty, nor youth (Adrian was then 28 years of age), nor riches. Everything worldly -- is dust and ashes. Only faith and good deeds be pleasing to God". On the pledge of the other martyrs, they released Saint Adrian from prison to relate to his wife about the day of execution. Saint Natalia at first thought, that he had renounced Christ and thus had been set free, and she did not want to let him into the house. The saint persuaded his wife, that he had not fled martyrdom, but rather had come to give her the news of the day of his execution.
They tortured Saint Adrian cruelly. The emperor advised the saint to have pity on himself and call on the gods, but the martyr answered: "Let thine gods say, what blessings they promise me, and then I shalt worship them, but if they cannot speak thus, then why should I worship them?" Saint Natalia did not cease to encourage her husband. She asked him also to convey for her a foremost prayer to God, that they would not compel her into a marriage with a pagan after his death. The executioner ordered the hands and the legs of the saints to be broken on the anvil. Saint Natalia, fearing that her husband would hesitate in seeing the sufferings of the other martyrs, besought the executioner to begin the execution with him and let her herself put his hands and legs on the anvil. They wanted to burn the bodies of the saints, but a strong storm arose and the fire went out. Many of the executioners even were struck by lightning. Saint Natalia took the hand of her spouse and kept it at home. Soon an army commander asked the emperor's approval to wed Saint Natalia, who was both young and rich. But she hid herself away in Byzantium. Here Saint Adrian appeared to her in a dream and said, that she would soon be at rest in the Lord. The anemic martyress, worn down by her former sufferings, in fact soon expired to God.
The Monk Adrian of Ondrusovsk (in the world the nobleman Andrei Zavalushin), was the owner of a rich estate (Andreevschina), 9 versts from the monastery of the Monk Alexander of Svirsk (+ 30 August 1533). He accidentally encountered the Monk Alexander of Svirsk at the time of a stag hunt in 1493, and after this he went often to him for guidance, and supplied bread for the ascetics. Forsaking his estate, he took monastic tonsure at the Valaamo monastery with the name Adrian. Several years later, with the blessing of the Monk Alexander of Svirsk, the Monk Adrian settled in a solitary place on the peninsula of Lake Ladoga. There he built a church in honour of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. Opposite the settlement of monks in the deep forest was an island, Sala (the Thicket), on which hid out a gang of robbers, under the leadership of Ondrusa as their ataman. Encountering the monks, the ataman demanded that they get off his land. Saint Adrian, knowing that he did not have money to offer to buy the place, promised the ataman to intercede for him before God. The robber laughed at the monk, but that one entreated him so long and so humbly, that the ataman softened and said: "Live".
This ataman was soon taken captive by another gang, hidden not far from the stoney Cape of Storozhev. The hapless fellow knew, that after suffering torture death awaited him, and he bitterly repented of his former life. Suddenly he saw before him the Monk Adrian, who said: "Through the mercy of the Lord, for Whom wast besought of thee mercy for the wilderness brethren, thou art freed" -- and he vanished. The ataman saw himself without fetters at the shore and with no one around. Astonished, he rushed to the monastery of Saint Adrian and found all the ascetics at psalms. And it seemed that the monk had not left the monastery. The robber fell at the knees of the saint and besought to be accepted amidst the brethren. He finished his life in repentance at the monastery. The robber of another gang likewise repented. Through the prayers of Saint Adrian he took monastic tonsure with the name Kiprian. And afterwards at the place of a tributary he built a monastery and was glorified by miracles.
The monastery of the Monk Adrian received an endowment from tsar Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584). In August 1549 the Monk Adrian was god-father for Anna, daughter of tsar Ivan the Terrible. When the saint was returning from Moscow to the monastery, robbers killed him near the village of Obzha, hoping to find money. The brethren waited for a long time for their head, and 2 years afterwards he appeared in a vision by night to a few elders and told them about his end. On another day, 17 May, the brethren found his undecayed body in a swamp and committed it to burial in the wall of his church in honour of Saint Nicholas. The memory of the Monk Adrian, having received the martyr's crown, has come to be celebrated twice: on the day of the finding and transfer of his relics -- 17 May, and on the day of repose and name-in-common (tezoimenitstvo) with the Martyr Adrian.
The Monk Adrian of Uglich was one of the first ten students of the Monk Paisii of Uglich (+ 1504, Comm. 6 June), for whom he was the closest cell-attendant, student and co-ascetic. Together with the Monk Paisii, the Monk Adrian was vouchsafed worthy of the Heavenly appearance of the MostHoly Mother of God in 1472. The Monk Paisii was in one of the cells together with the Monk Kassian of Uglich (the account about him is under 2 October), and the Monks Gerasim and Adrian. They were singing an akathist to the MostHoly Mother of God. Suddenly throughout all the monastery there shone an extraordinary light, and the monks heard a voice, calling them to come out from the cell. The ascetics came out in fear and in confusion, and an Angel pointed out to them the appearance of the Mother of God, sitting on an airy throne and holding on Her arms the Divine Infant. The ascetics fell frightened to the ground, but the Angel raised them up and related to the Monk Paisii the command of the Mother of God to build on this place a church in honour of the Pokrov-Protection of the MostHoly Mother of God. The vision ended, and the monks spent the whole night in vigil and laudation.
In 1482 the Monk Adrian participated in the building of the stone church in honour of the Pokrov-Protection of the MostHoly Mother of God on the place indicated by the Angel. And afterwards there was witnessed the finding of an icon of the Pokrov-Protection of the MostHoly Mother of God. In 1489 the Monk Adrian assisted the Monk Paisii in the building of a monastery in the name of Saint Nicholas, near the Grekhova stream, on the right bank of the Volga. As an experienced and virtuous starets-elder, the Monk Adrian was put there as its head and priestmonk. He was at the funeral of the Monk Paisii on 6 June 1504 and later, according to his last wishes, he was himself buried near the grave. The memory of the Monk Adrian is made on 26 August (on account of the tezoimenitstvo name-in-common with the Martyr Adrian), and also on Cheesefare Saturday.
The Monk Pimen the Great was born in about the year 340 in Egypt. With his two brothers, Anubias and Paisias, he went into one of the Egyptian monasteries, and all three accepted monastic tonsure. The brothers were such strict ascetics, that when their mother came to the monastery to see her children, they did not come out to her from their cells. The mother stood there for a long time and wept. Then the Monk Pimen said to her through the closed door of the cell: "If thou bearest with the temporal parting from us now, then in the future life wilt thou see us, since we do hope upon God the Lover-of-Mankind!". The mother was humbled and returned home.
Fame about the deeds and virtues of the Monk Pimen spread throughout all the land. One time the governor of the district wanted to see him. The Monk Pimen, shunning fame, reasoned thus: "If dignitaries begin coming to me with respect, then also many of the people will start coming to me and disturb my quiet, and I shalt be deprived of the grace of humility, which I have found only with the help of God". And so he relayed a refusal to the messenger. For many of the monks, the Monk Pimen was a spiritual guide and instructor. And they wrote down his answers to serve to the edification of others besides themselves. A certain monk asked: "Ought one to veil over with silence the sin of a transgressing brother, if perchance one see him?" The elder answered: "If we reproach the sins of brothers, then God will reproach our sins, and if thou seest a brother sinning, believe not thine eyes and know, that thine own sin is like a wood-beam, but the sin of thy brother is like a wood-splinter, and then thou wilt not come into distress and temptation". Another monk turned to the saint, saying: "I have grievously sinned and I want to spend three years at repentance. Is such a length of time sufficient?" The elder answered: "That is a long time". The monk continued to ask, how long a period of repentance did the saint reckon necessary for him -- a year or forty days? The elder answered: "I think, that if a man repenteth from the depths of his heart and posits a firm intent to return no more to the sin, then God would accept also a three-day repentance". To the question, as to how to be rid of persistent evil thoughts, the saint answered: "If a man has on one side of him fire, and on the other side a vessel with water, then if he starts burning from the fire, he takes water from the vessel and extinguishes the fire. Like to this are the evil thoughts, suggested by the enemy of our salvation, which like a spark can enkindle sinful desires within man. It is necessary to put out these sparks with the water, which is prayer and the yearning of the soul for God".
The Monk Pimen was strict at fasting and did not partake of food for the space of a week or more. But others he advised to eat every day, only but without eating one's fill. For a certain monk, permitting himself to partake of food only on the seventh day but being angry with a brother, the saint said: "Thou wouldst learn to fast over six days, yet cannot abstain from anger for even a single day". To the question, which is better -- to speak or be silent, the elder said: "Whoso doth speak on account of God, doeth well, and whoso is silent on account of God -- that one doth act well". And moreover: "It may be, that a man seems to be silent, but if his heart doth judge others, then always is he speaking. But there are also those, who all the day long speak with their tongue, but within themself they do keep silence, since they judge no one".
The saint said: "For a man it is necessary to observe three primary rules: to fear God, to pray often and to do good for people". "Malice in turn never wipes out malice. If someone doeth thee bad, do them good, and thine good will conquer their bad". One time, when the monk with his students arrived at an Egyptian wilderness-monastery (since he had the habit to go about from place to place, so as to shun glory from men), it became known to him, that the elder living there was annoyed at his arrival and also was jealous of him. In order to overcome the malice of the hermit, the saint set off to him with his brethren, taking along with them food as a present. The elder refused to come out to them. Thereupon the Monk Pimen said: "We shall not depart from here, until we are granted to see and pay respect to the holy elder", -- and he remained standing in the bright heat at the door of the cell. Seeing such perseverance and lack of malice on the part of the Monk Pimen, the elder received him graciously and said: "It is right what I have heard about you, but I see in you the good deeds and an hundred times even moreso". Thus did the Monk Pimen know how to extinguish malice and provide good example to others. He possessed such great humility, that often with a sigh he said: "I shalt be cast down to that place, whither was cast down Satan!"
One time there came to the saint a monk from afar, to get his guidance. He began to speak about sublime matters difficult to grasp. The saint turned away from him and was silent. To the bewildered monk they explained, that the saint did not like to speak about lofty matters. Then the monk began to ask him about the struggle with passions of soul. The saint turned to him with a joyful face: "Here now thou well hath spoken, and I mustneeds answer", -- and for a long while he provided instruction, as to how one ought to struggle with the passions and conquer them.
The Monk Pimen died at age 110, in about the year 450. Soon after his death he was acknowledged as a saint pleasing to God and received the title "the Great" -- as a sign of his great humility, modesty, uprightness and self-denying service to God.
The PriestMartyr Kuksha and the Monk Pimen the Faster died after the year 1114. Sainted Simon, Bishop of Vladimir and Suzdal' (XII Century, Comm. 10 May), in a missive to the Monk Polykarp, Archimandrite of Pechersk (+ 1182, Comm. 24 July), wrote thus about the Monk Kuksha: "How can I worthily proclaim the glory of those saintly men, dwelling in the holy Pechersk monastery, in which pagans were baptised and became monks, and Jews accepted the holy faith? But I cannot keep silent about the Blessed PriestMartyr and Black-Robed Kuksha of this monastery, about whom everyone doth know, that he cast out devils, baptised the Vyatichi, caused it to rain, dried up a lake, did many other miracles, and after many torments was killed together with his disciple Nikon". The death of the PriestMartyr Kuksha was discerned by the Monk Pimen the Faster. Standing amidst the Pechersk Great church, he loudly exclaimed: "Our brother Kuksha was killed at dawn".
The Vyatichi, among whom the PriestMartyr Monk Kuksha preached and died, lived along the River Oka, and they occupied the locale of the Orlov and Kaluzh districts. They were pagans. The Monk Nestor the Chronicler (Comm. 27 October), writing about the Vyatichi, was shocked by their brutal customs and he added, that they thus live "furthermore only for the present day", remaining unacquainted with the Law of God and instead making their own law. The PriestMartyr Monk Kuksha preached to the Vyatichi during the era of Sainted Theoktist, Bishop of Chernigov (1113-1123, Comm. 5 August). He was buried thus, as was the Monk Pimen the Faster, in the Nearer Caves (Comm. of Monks of the Nearer Caves is 28 September).
Sainted Hosia the Confessor was bishop for more than 60 years in the city of Cordova (Spain) during the IV Century. The holy emperor Saint Constantine the Great (306-337) deeply revered him and made him a privy counsellor. The saint advised that Saint Constantine should convene the First OEcumenical Council at Nicea in the year 325, and he was the first to undersign the deliberations of this Council. After the death of Saint Constantine the Great, Saint Hosia firmly defended Sainted Athanasias of Alexandria (326-373, Comm. 2 May) against the emperor Constantius (337-361), an advocate of the Arian heresy. For this they sent him to prison in Sirmium. Upon his return to Cordova, Saint Hosia died in the year 359.
The foremost Western champion of orthodoxy in the early anti-Arian struggle; born about 256; died about 358, either at Sirmium or in Spain. In early life he was a confessor of the Faith in the persecution of Maximian (Morse) or of Diocletian (Hefele), and became Bishop of Cordova in Southern Spain about 295. His name is mentioned amongst the nineteen bishops present at the provincial Council of Elvira (c. 300). Leclercq enumerates certain facts which show Hosius to have been in close personal relations with the Emperor Constantine on several occasions between 313 and 324, and he is known to have been his chief adviser in dealing with the Donatists. We have nothing to explain the origin of the connexion between them. When the Arian troubles began, Constantine charged Hosius with the delivery of his letter to Arius and Alexander, in which he urged them to reconciliation. We know little of Hosius's action during this mission (323-324). When the Council of Nicæa met, Hosius presided, together with the two Roman priests Vitus and Vincent. In what capacity he presided is a matter much discussed: Gelasius of Cyzicus is categorical in declaring that it was in the name of the pope (Hist. Nic. Conc., Bk. II, c. v). Hefele is of the same opinion. Chapman holds that he was nominated by Constantine. Leclercq inclines to the same opinion, but leaves the question open. After the council, Hosius probably returned to Spain. Constantine dying, 22 May, 337, Athanasius was recalled from his first exile in 338, only to be expelled by the Arians in 340. After passing three years in Rome, Athanasius went in 343 into Gaul to confer with Hosius, and thence to Sardica, where the council began in the summer, or, at latest, in the autumn of 343. Hosius presided, proposed the canons, and was the first to sign the Acts of the council.
In the letter of the Council of Sardica, given in Athanasius, Apologia contra Arianos 44, Hosius is spoken of as "one who on account of his age, his confession, and the many labours he had undergone, is worthy of all reverence". The suggested explanation of the symbol of Nicæa did not meet the approval of the council (Hefele, p. 758). After Sardica we lose sight of him for ten years, until Pope Liberius's letter to him (c. 353), after the fall of Vincent of Capua. The prestige given to the orthodox cause by the support of the venerable Hosius led the Arians to bring pressure to bear upon Constantius II, who had him summoned to Milan (Gwatkin, p. 292). He declined to condemn Athanasius or to hold communion with Arians. He so impressed the emperor that he was authorized to return home. More Arian pressure led to Constantius writing a letter demanding whether he alone was going to remain obstinate. In reply Hosius sent his brave letter of protest against imperial meddling in Church affairs, preserved for us by St. Athanasius (Hist. Arianorum, 42-45, cf. Migne, P.L., VIII, 1327-1332), which led to his summons (end of 353) to Sirmium.
The facts relating to the end of his life are far from clear; under pressure, he signed the declaration known as the second Sirmian formula (the first being the profession of faith of 351), which was published as the formula of Hosius. The original Latin text is preserved in St. Hilary's "De Synodis", c. XI (Migne, P.L., X, 598), the Greek, in Athanasius: "De Syn.", 28. He refused, however, to renounce Athanasius, who speaks of him as lapsing "for a moment"; having served the purpose for which the Arians brought him to Sirmium, he was probably taken back to Spain, and there died. A later addition to Athanasius declares that he recanted on his death-bed. The defenders of Hosius contend that the concession wrung from him has been much magnified and misrepresented. But it is contended that Athanasius cannot have had all the facts before him when he wrote, and that the second Sirmian formula is clearly heterodox.
We know nothing for certain about the background of St Phanourius, nor exactly when he lived. Tradition says that when the island of Rhodes had been conquered by Moslems, the new ruler of the island wished to rebuild the walls of the city, which had been damaged in previous wars. Several ruined buildings were near the fortress, and stone from these buildings was used to repair the walls at the end of the fifteenth century, or the beginning of the sixteenth.
While working on the fortress, the Moslems uncovered the ruins of a beautiful church. Several icons, most of them badly damaged, were found on the floor. One icon, of St Phanourius, looked as if it had been painted that very day. The local bishop, whose name was Nilus, was called to see the icon. It said, "Saint Phanourius."
The saint is depicted as a young soldier holding a cross in his right hand. On the upper part of the cross is a lighted taper. Twelve scenes from his life are shown around the border of the icon. These scenes show him being questioned by an official, being beaten with stones by soldiers, stretched out on the ground while soldiers whip him, then having his sides raked with iron hooks. He is also shown locked up in prison, standing before the official again, being burned with candles, tied to a rack, thrown to the wild animals, and being crushed by a large rock. The remaining scenes depict him standing before idols holding burning coals in his hands, while a demon stands by lamenting his defeat by the saint, and finally, the saint stands in the midst of a fire with his arms raised in prayer.
These scenes clearly revealed that the saint was a martyr. Bishop Nilus sent representatives to the Moslem ruler, asking that he be permitted to restore the church. Permission was denied, so the bishop went to Constantinople and there he obtained a decree allowing him to rebuild the church.
At that time, there was no Orthodox bishop on the island of Crete. Since Crete was under the control of Venice, there was a Latin bishop. The Venetians refused to allow a successor to be consecrated when an Orthodox bishop died, or for new priests to be ordained, hoping that in time they would be able to convert the Orthodox population to Catholicism. Those seeking ordination were obliged to go to the island of Kythera.
It so happened that three young deacons had traveled from Crete to Kythera to be ordained to the holy priesthood. On their way back, they were captured at sea by Moslems who brought them to Rhodes to be sold as slaves. Lamenting their fate, the three new priests wept day and night.
While in Rhodes the priests heard of the miracles performed by the holy Great Martyr Phanourius. They began to pray to him with tears, asking to be freed from their captivity. Each of the three had been sold to a different master, and so remained unaware of what the others were doing.
By the mercy of God, each of the priests was allowed by his master to pray at the restored church of St Phanourius. All three arrived at the same time and prostrated themselves before the icon of the saint, asking to be delivered from the hands of the Hagarenes (Moslems, descendents of Hagar). Somewhat consoled, the priests left the church and returned to their masters.
That night St Phanourius appeared to the three masters and ordered them to set the priests free so that they could serve the Church, or he would punish them. The Moslems ignored the saint's warning, believing the vision to be the result of sorcery. The cruel masters bound the priests with chains and treated them even worse than before.
Then St Phanourius went to the priests and freed them from their shackles, promising that they would be freed the next day. Appearing once more to the Moslems, the holy martyr told them severely, "If you do not release your slaves by tomorrow, you shall witness the power of God!"
The next morning, all the inhabitants of the homes where the priests were held awoke to find themselves blind, paralyzed, and in great pain. They considered what they were to do, and so decided to send for the priests. When the three priests arrived, they asked them whether they could heal them. The priests replied, "We will pray to God. May His will be done!"
Once more St Phanourius appeared to the Hagarenes, ordering them to send to the church a document granting the priests their freedom. He told them that if they refused to do this, they would never recover their sight or health. All three masters wrote letters releasing the priests, and sent the documents to the church, where they were placed before the icon of St Phanourius.
Before the messengers returned from the church, all those who had been blind and paralyzed were healed. The priests joyfully returned to Crete, carrying with them a copy of the icon of St Phanourius. Every year they celebrated the Feast of St Phanourius with deep gratitude for their miraculous deliverance.
The saint's name sounds similar to the Greek verb "phanerono," which means "to reveal" or "to disclose." For this reason, people pray to St Phanourius to help them find lost objects. When the object is recovered, they bake a sweet bread and share it with the poor, offering prayers for the salvation of saint's mother. Her name is not known, but according to tradition, she was a sinful woman during her life. St Phanourius has promised to help those who pray for his mother in this way.
Sainted Liberius the Confessor, Pope of Rome, entered upon the papal throne in the year 352, after the death of Pope Julius. Saint Liberius was a fervent proponent of Orthodoxy against the Arian heresy and a defender of Saint Athanasias of Alexandria (Comm. 2 May). The emperor Constantius (337-361), inclining to side with the Arians, was not able to compel Saint Liberius to make a judgement against Saint Athanasias nor therefore against Orthodoxy. For such intransigence he was sent off to prison in Beroeia (Thrace), but was soon returned back on the insistent demands of the Roman people. Before his return, they summoned Saint Liberius to the Third Sirmian Semi-Arian Council, where they forced him to undersign the deliberations of the Council. Holy Pope Liberius afterwards deeply repented of this, and toiled much at Rome for the affirmation of Orthodoxy. He died peacefully in the year 366.
The Monk Pimen of Palestine lived during the VI Century in a cave in the Ruv wilderness. The holy fathers Sophronios and John speak about him in Chapter 167 of the book, "The Spiritual Meadow" ("Limonarion"). One time during winter the monk Agathonikes came to the Monk Pimen for guidance and remained to spend the night in an adjoining cave. In the morning he mentioned, that he had suffered much from the cold. The Monk Pimen answered, that he himself had been uncovered, but he did not feel the cold because a lion came to him and lay alongside him, warming him. "But I know, -- added the ascetic, -- that I shall be devoured by wild beasts, since when I lived in the world and shepherded sheep, a man came by my flock whom my dogs attacked and tore apart. I could have saved him, but I did not. It was later revealed to me, that I myself would die a similar death". And so it occurred: three years later it became known, that the holy Hermit Pimen of Palestine was torn apart by wild beasts. This happened at the end of the VI Century.
The Monk Moses Murin the Black lived during the IV Century in Egypt. He was an Ethiopian, and he was black of skin and therefore called "Murin" (meaning "like an Ethiopian"). In his youth he was the slave of an important man, but after he committed a murder, his master banished him, and he joined in with a band of robbers. Because of his mean streak and great physical strength they chose him as their leader. Moses with his band of brigands did many an evil deed -- both murders and robberies, so much so that people were afraid even at the mere mention of his name. Moses the brigand spent several years leading suchlike a sinful life, but through the great mercy of God he repented, leaving his band of robbers and going off to one of the wilderness monasteries. And here for a long time he wept, beseeching that they admit him amidst the number of the brethren. The monks were not convinced of the sincerity of his repentance; but the former robber was not to be driven away nor silenced, in demanding that they should accept him. In the monastery the Monk Moses was completely obedient to the hegumen and the brethren, and he poured forth many a tear, bewailing his sinful life. After a certain while the Monk Moses withdrew to a solitary cell, where he spent the time in prayer and the strictest of fasting in a very austere lifestyle. One time 4 of the robbers of his former band descended upon the cell of the Monk Moses and he, not having lost his great physical strength, he tied them all up and taking them over his shoulder, he brought them to the monastery, where he asked of the elders what to do with them. The elders ordered that they be set free. The robbers, learning that they had chanced upon their former ringleader, and that he had dealt kindly with them, -- they themselves followed his example: they repented and became monks. And later, when the rest of the band of robbers heard about the repentance of the Monk Moses, then they too gave up their brigandage and became fervent monks.
The Monk Moses did not quickly become free from the passions. He went often to the monastery hegumen, Abba Isidor, seeking advice on how to be delivered from the passions of profligacy. Being experienced in the spiritual struggle, the elder taught him never to overeat of food, to be partly hungry whilst observing the strictest moderation. But the passions would not cease for the Monk Moses in his dreams. Then Abba Isidor taught him the all-night vigil. The monk stood the whole night at prayer, not being on bended knees so as not to drop off to sleep. From his prolonged struggles the Monk Moses fell into despondency, and when there arose thoughts about leaving his solitary cell, Abba Isidor instead strengthened the resolve of his student. In a vision he showed him many a demon in the west, prepared for battle, and in the East a still greater quantity of holy Angels, likewise readied for fighting. Abba Isidor explained to the Monk Moses, that the power of the Angels would prevail over the power of the demons, and in the long struggle with the passions it was necessary for him to become completely cleansed of his former sins.
The Monk Moses undertook a new effort. Making the rounds by night of the wilderness cells, he carried water from the well to each brother. He did this especially for the elders, who lived far off from the well and who were not easily able to carry their own water. One time, kneeling over the well, the Monk Moses felt a powerful blow upon his back and he fell down at the well like one dead, laying there in that position until dawn. Thus did the devils take revenge upon the monk for his victory over them. In the morning the brethren carried him to his cell, and he lay there a whole year crippled up. Having recovered, the monk with firm resolve confessed to the hegumen, that he would continue to asceticise. But the Lord Himself put limits to this struggle of many years: Abba Isidor blessed his student and said to him, that the profligate passions had already gone from him. The elder commanded him to commune the Holy Mysteries and in peace to go to his own cell. And from that time the Monk Moses received from the Lord the power over demons.
Accounts about his exploits spread amongst the monks and even beyond the bounds of the wilderness. The governor of the land wanted to see the saint. Having learned about this, the Monk Moses decided to hide away from any visitors and he departed his own cell. Along the way he met up with servants of the governor, who asked him, how to get to the cell of the wilderness-dweller Moses. The monk answered them: "Go on no further to this false and unworthy monk". The servants returned to the monastery, where the governor was waiting, and they conveyed to him the words of the elder they had chanced upon. The brethren, hearing a description of the elder's appearance, all as one acknowledged that they had come upon the Monk Moses himself.
Having spent many a year at monastic exploits, the Monk Moses was ordained deacon. The bishop attired him in white vesture and said: "Abba Moses is now entirely white". The saint answered: "Vladyka, what makes it purely white -- the outer or the inner?" Through humility the saint reckoned himself unworthy to accept the dignity of deacon. One time the bishop decided to test him and he bid the clergy to drive him out of the altar, whilst reviling him for being an unworthy black-Ethiopian. With full humility the monk accepted the abuse. Having put him to the test, the bishop then ordained the monk to be presbyter. And in this dignity the Monk Moses asceticised for 15 years and gathered round himself 75 disciples.
When the monk reached age 75, he forewarned his monks, that soon brigands would descend upon the skete and murder all that were there. The saint blessed his monks to leave in good time, so as to avoid the violent death, His disciples began to beseech the monk to leave together with them, but he replied: "I many a year already have awaited the time, when upon me there should be fulfilled the words which my Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, did speak: "All, who take up the sword, shalt perish by the sword" (Mt. 26: 52). After this seven of the brethren remained with the monk, and one of these hid not far off during the coming of the robbers, The robbers killed the Monk Moses and the six monks that remained with him. Their death occurred in about the year 400.
The Monk Savva of Krypetsk was tonsured at Athos, and from there he came to Pskov. He began to asceticise on Mount Snetna at the Mother of God monastery, near Pskov, and thereafter he went off to a more remote spot along the River Tolva, at the monastery of the Monk Evphrosyn (Comm. 15 May). Finally, he withdrew for complete solitude to the Krypetsk wilderness, 15 versts from the Tolva, and he settled alone in a small cave in the impenetrable forest. For food the hermit had bread and water, and on Wednesdays and Fridays he ate nothing. Living the life of an hermit he was much assailed by unclean spirits, but always he prevailed over them through prayer. And after several years in the solitary life, those zealous for wilderness life began to gather round the Monk Savva. They besought him to form a monastery and build a church, in honour of the Apostle John the Theologian. The monk refused to be hegumen of the monastery and entrusted its guidance to the monk Kassian. Many came out from Pskov to the austere starets-elder, and he healed and admonished them, but never did he accept gifts from them.
One time the Pskov prince Yaroslav Vasil'evich Obolensky, who frequently visited at the monastery, made journey with his sick wife to the saint. The Monk Savva sent off to him a message saying: "The starets, the sinner Savva, telleth thee, prince, enter not into the monastery with the princess; such is our rule here -- women are not to enter the monastery; if thou transgress this fatherly command, thy princess wilt not receive healing". The prince asked forgiveness, since it was through ignorance that he was on the point of transgressing the rule. The Monk Savva came out through the monastery gates together with the brethren and there served a molieben. The princess was healed. Through the mediation of the prince, in 1487 Pskov received a grammota-deed to the lands for the monastery.
The monk taught layfolk to watch over their purity, reminding them about the injunction of the Apostle against the defilers of the body. He told the rich and the judges, not to make their living at the expense of the poor and to preserve rightful truth. He frequently reminded everyone to avoid quarrels and enmity, to preserve love and peace and to overlook the faults of others by courtesy, even as they in turn have forgiven us. At the monastery from the very beginning there had been introduced a strict life-in-common. And then, when sufficient brethren and means had been gathered, there was nothing in the cell of the monk save for two icons, his monk's garb and the cot, upon which he lay down to take his rest. By suchlike poverty he taught the brethren. The monk commanded them to work the land with their own hands. He said: "For how can we call the ancient ascetics our fathers, when we live not by their manner of life, how then can we be accounted their children? They were homeless and poor, they spent their time in caves and in the wilderness and for the Lord with all their strength they subjected their flesh to spirit. And they knew respite neither by day, nor by night. We should love the good Lord, children, not by sounds only nor by our manner of attire for showing off our love for Him, but by deeds: by love one for another, by tears, by fasting, by every manner of temperance, just as the ancient fathers did this".
The grateful prince built through the fens and the swamps a bridge to the monastery 1400 sazhen [1 sazhen = 7 feet] in length. After his death (+ 28 August 1495), the Monk Savva did not forsake the monastery, and many a time came to its defense. At night one time robbers approached the monastery, but they then caught sight of an august elder, who held in hand a staff and threateningly ordered them to repent. In the morning they learned that there was no suchlike elder at the monastery, and they realised, that this had been the Monk Savva himself. The leader of the robbers made his repentance to the hegumen and remained to live at the monastery.
The Monk Savva was tall of stature, with a beard grey as snow, roundish and thick and not very long. In suchlike visage he appeared in the mid-XVI Century to the monk Isaiah, in showing him where to find his undecayed relics. Thereafter, in the year 1555, at the request of the Krypetsk brethren, the Pskov priest Vasilii compiled the life of the Monk Savva, and the feastday to him was established.
Righteous Anna the Prophetess was descended from the tribe of Aser, and was the daughter of Phanuel. Having married, she lived with her husband for 7 years until his death. After his death, Righteous Anna led a strict and pious life, "not leaving the Temple, and serving God both day and night in fasting and prayer" (Lk. 2: 37). When Righteous Anna was 84 years old, she was vouchsafed to see at the Jerusalem Temple the Infant Jesus Christ, brought for dedication to God as a firstborn under the Mosaic law. Righteous Anna heard the prophetic words of Saint Simeon the God-Receiver, spoken to the MostHoly Mother of God. The Prophetess Anna together with Saint Simeon glorified God, and told everyone, that the Messiah was come into the world (Lk. 2: 38).
The memory of Righteous Anna occurs also on 3 February, when she is remembered together with Righteous Simeon the God-Receiver, on the Afterfeast of the Sretenie-Meeting of the Lord.
The GreatMartyress Shushanika, Princess of Rana (+ 475), was the daughter of the reknown Armenian military-commander Vardanes. Her actual name -- was Vardandukht, but the name she was fond of using -- was Shushanika. From her childhood years Saint Shushanika distinguished herself by her fear of God and her piety.
She entered into marriage with the pitiakhshah (governor of outlying districts of Gruzia) named Varxenes, who renounced Christ and became an apostate to the faith. In the eighth year of the rule of the shah Peroz, Varxenes set off to Kteziphon, whereat was the residence of the Persian shah, and he became a Mazdaeite (fire-worshipper), so as to please the shah. Having learned about this upon the return of her husband, Saint Shushanika did not want to continue married life with an apostate from God. She left the palace and began to live in a small cell, not far off from the palace church. The priest of the empress, named Yakov-James Tsurtaveli (afterwards the author of her vita), relates that the holy empress, learning of her husband's intent to resort to force, was filled with determination to stand firmly in the faith, despite any sort of entreaties, threats or tortures. Rejecting the offers of Varxenes, on 8 January 469 she was subjected to a beating by him and thrown into chains, and on 14 April 469 she was locked up in a prison fortress, where she remained for six and an half years. "Six years she spent imprisoned and yet adorned with virtues: by fasting, by vigilance, standing on her feet, with unflagging prostrations and the incessant reading of books. She was wrought into a spiritual flute, sanctified and embellished by prison". To the prison came many of the afflicted, "and each, through the prayers of Blessed Shushanika, received from God the Lover-of-Mankind that in which they were in need of: the childless -- children, the sick -- health, the blind -- sight". By this time Varxenes had converted to fire-worship the children of Saint Shushanika, and they ceased to visit their imprisoned mother. In the seventh year of the imprisonment of Saint Shushanika sores began to appear on her legs and body. Jodjik, the brother of the pitiakhshah Varxenes, having learned that Blessed Shushanika was close to death, managed to get into the prison with his wife and children and he besought of Saint Shushanika: "Forgive us our guilt and bless us". Saint Shushanika forgave them and blessed them, saying: "All the present life is transient and inconstant, like a flower of the fields; one plants it, and another is pleased, one squanders it on trivia while another doth gather, one uses it for oneself, but another doth find...".
On the eve of the blessed death of the holy martyress, she was visited in prison by the Gruzia Katholikos-Archbishop Samuel I (474-502), by Bishop John and by the priest of the martyress Yakov-James Tsurtaveli (over the course of all six years he had constantly visited and consoled her). The court bishop Athots (Photios) communed Saint Shushanika. Her last words were: "Blest be the Lord my God, wherefore with peace I do repose and sleep". The end of the blessed martyress ensued on 17 October, on the feastday of the Unmercenary Martyrs Cosmas and Damian, and it was particularly on this day that the ancient Church celebrated her memory.
The relics of the holy Martyress Shushanika rested at first in a church in the city of Tsortag. The Tsortag church after a certain while fell under the lead of an Armenian bishop -- a Monophysite, and the Katholikos-Archbishop of Gruzia Samuel IV (582-591) transferred the holy relics of Saint Shushanika to the city of Tbilisi, where in the year 586 they were put into a chapel of the Metekh church, on the south side of the altar. And indeed, it is in connection with this event that the memory of Saint Shushanika was transferred from 17 October to 28 August.
Righteous Hezekiah (721-691 B.C.) was the son of the impious king Ahaz. The life of Righteous Hezekiah is described in the Bible (4  Kings 18-20).
At age 25 he became king of Judah and he reigned at Jerusalem for 29 years. A zealous worshipper of the True God, Righteous Hezekiah reopened for Divine-services the Solomon Temple. During the time of the celebration of the Passover, to which he summoned all the subjects of the kingdom of Israel, Righteous Hezekiah gave orders to destroy the idols throughout all his kingdom, while reminding the people about the chastisements which befell their ancestors for forsaking the True God. After this, idol-worship ceased not only in the kingdom of Judah, but also in many places in the kingdom of Israel. For this, God delivered him from his enemies and fulfilled his petitions. Thus, in the 14th year of the reign of Hezekiah, the Assyrian king Sennacherib son of Salmanassar, having conquered Israel, gathered his forces to make war upon Hezekiah. The Assyrian king took the fortress of Lachis and sent an army towards Jerusalem, demanding that the Jewish king surrender. Righteous Hezekiah turned in prayer to God, and an Angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 soldiers in the Assyrian camp. Soon after the withdrawal of Sennacherib, Righteous Hezekiah fell ill. The Prophet Isaiah came to him through the will of God and bid him make a deathbed testament. But the power of the prayer of Righteous Hezekiah was so great that God prolonged his life for another 15 years. His prayer was fervent, when he besought God to help him. But even more blazing was his prayer of thanks. Righteous Hezekiah died at age 54 and was buried with great reverence at Jerusalem. The memory of Righteous Hezekiah is likewise celebrated on Cheesefare Saturday.
The Monk Job of Pochaev died on 28 October 1651. On 28 August 1833 the relics of the Monk Job were solemnly opened for general veneration. In the year 1902 the Holy Synod decreed on this day to carry the holy relics of the Monk Job round the Uspensk cathedral of the Pochaev Lavra-monastery after the Divine Liturgy.
Martyred officer of the Roman army, also called Julian of Brioude. He was from France and retired to Auvergne when persecution started. Julian surrendered to the authorities and was beheaded at Brioude.
The Beheading of the Prophet, ForeRunner of the Lord, John the Baptist: The Evangelists Matthew (Mt. 14: 1-12) and Mark (Mk. 6: 14-29) provide accounts about the Martyr's end of John the Baptist in the year 32 after the Birth of Christ.
Following the Baptism of the Lord, Saint John the Baptist was locked up in prison by Herod Antipas, holding one-fourth the rule of the Holy Land as governor of Galilee. (After the death of king Herod the Great, the Romans divided the territory of Palestine into four parts, and into each part put a governor. Herod Antipas received from the emperor Augustus the rule of Galilee). The prophet of God John openly denounced Herod for having left his lawful wife -- the daughter of the Arabian king Aretas, and then instead co-habiting with Herodias, -- the wife of his brother Philip (Lk. 3: 19-20). On his birthday, Herod made a feast for dignitaries, the elders and a thousand chief citizens. The daughter of Herod, Salome, danced before the guests and charmed Herod. In gratitude to the girl he swore to give her anything, whatsoever she would ask, anything up to half his kingdom. The vile girl on the advice of her wicked mother Herodias asked, that she be given at once the head of John the Baptist on a plate. Herod became apprehensive, for he feared the wrath of God for the murder of a prophet, whom earlier he had heeded. He feared also the people, who loved the holy ForeRunner. But because of the guests and his careless oath, he gave orders to cut off the head of Saint John and to give it to Salome. By tradition, the mouth of the dead head of the preacher of repentance once more opened and proclaimed: "Herod, thou ought not to have the wife of Philip thy brother". Salome took the plate with the head of Saint John and gave it to her mother. The frenzied Herodias repeatedly stabbed the tongue of the prophet with a needle and buried his holy head in a unclean place. But the pious Joanna, wife of Herod's steward Chuza, buried the head of John the Baptist in an earthen vessel on the Mount of Olives, where Herod was possessor of a parcel of land (the Uncovering of the Venerable Head is celebrated 24 February). The holy body of John the Baptist was taken that night by his disciples and buried at Sebasteia, there where the wicked deed had been done. After the murder of Saint John the Baptist, Herod continued to govern for a certain while. Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea, later sent to him the bound Jesus Christ, over Whom he made mockery (Lk. 23: 7-12).
The judgement of God came upon Herod, Herodias and Salome, even during their earthly life. Salome, crossing the River Sikoris in winter, fell through the ice. The ice gave way for her such that her body was in the water, but her head trapped beneathe the ice. It was similar to how she once had danced with her feet upon the ground, but now flailing helplessly in the icy water. Thus she was trapped until that time when the sharp ice cut through her neck. The corpse was not found, but they brought the head to Herod and Herodias, as once they had brought them the head of Saint John the Baptist. The Arab king Aretas in revenge for the disrespect shown his daughter made war against Herod. Having suffered defeat, Herod suffered the wrath of the Roman emperor Caius Caligua (37-41) and was exiled with Herodias first to Gaul, and then to Spain. And there they were from view.
In memory of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, the feastday established by the Church is also a strict day of fast, -- as an expression of the grief of Christians at the violent death of the saint. On this day the Church makes remembrance of soldiers, killed on the field of battle, as established in 1769 at the time of a war of Russia with the Turks and the Poles.
The Martyr Anastasii, a Bulgarian, was born in 1774 in the Strumnitsk diocese, in the village of Radovicha. His parents gave him over to military studies. When the youth was 20 years old, he happened to be with his teacher in Soluneia (Thessalonika). The master wanted to sell some Turkish clothes without paying the customary dutyy-tax. He told his student to dress himself as a Turk and go into the city. The collectors of the duty-tax (haraje) stopped him and demanded the written receipt (teskere) of duty-tax payment. The youth answered that he was a Turk. Thereupon the collectors demanded him to recite the salutation with the Mahometan prayer. The youth became confused and quiet. They ordered him off to the commander, who in interrogating the martyr offered him to become Turkish. The youth refused, and they led him away to the chief tax-collector. The official tried at first to flatter, then to threaten the martyr, who owned up to his civil guilt, but would not agree to betray his holy faith. The tax-collector made this known to the mufti, who in turn answered: "Thou hast in one hand the sword, in the other the law; use what thou wishest". He knew, that by law the tax-collector ought to take the duty-tax from the youth, but then by judgement of the mufti he would not be a follower of Mahomet, armed with a sword. And having received such an answer, the commander of the haraje sent the youth to the local mullah together with five Turks, who were obliged to testify that the Christian had blasphemed the Mahometan faith. To the accusations of blasphemy against Mahomet by these witnesses, the youth honestly answered that he did not blaspheme him, but he would allow having shown disrespect to Mahometan customs. They subjected him to torture and condemned him to hanging. Along the way they continued to urge the martyr to renounce his faith, but bleeding and exhausted, he fell upon the wayside and died on 29 August 1794.
Saints Alexander, John and Paul, Constantinople Patriarchs, lived at different times, but each of them happened to clash with the activities of heretics who sought to distort the teachings of the Church. Saint Alexander (325-340) was a "chor-bishop" (vicar bishop) during the period of the first patriarch of Constantinople, Sainted Mitrophanes (315-325), and because of the patriarch's extreme age substituted for him at the First OEcumenical Council at Nicea against the Arians (325). Upon his death, Saint Mitrophanes had instructed in his will to elect his vicar to the Constantinople throne. During these times His Holiness Patriarch Alexander had to contend with the Arians and with pagans. Once in a dispute with a pagan philosopher the saint said to him: "In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ I command thee to be quiet!", and the pagan suddenly became voiceless. When he gestured with signs of acknowledgement of his errors and affirmation of the correctness of the Christian teaching, then his speech returned to him and he believed in Christ together with many other pagan-philosophers.
The heretic Arius was punished through the prayer of Saint Alexander. The heretic deceitfully agreed to enter into communion with the Orthodox, and the emperor Saint Constantine set a day for receiving Arius. All night long Saint Alexander prayed, imploring the Lord not to permit the heretic to be received into communion with the Church. In the morning, when Arius triumphantly went to the church, surrounded by imperial counselors and soldiers, he was stricken with illness on the Constantine Square, -- his belly exploded and the innards fell out.
His Holiness Patriarch Alexander, having toiled much, died in the year 340 at the age of 98. Sainted Gregory the Theologian (or Nazianzen, Comm. 25 January) made mention about him afterwards in words of praise to the people of Constantinople.
Sainted John the Faster (582-595) is in particular remembered by the Church on 2 September (the account about him is located under this heading).
Sainted Paul, by birth a Cypriot, became Patriarch of Constantinople (780-784) during the reign of the Iconoclast-emperor Leo IV the Khazar (775-780), and was a virtuous and pious but timid man. Viewing the martyrdom, which the Orthodox endured for holy icons, the saint concealed his Orthodoxy and associated with the iconoclasts. After the death of the emperor Leo, he wanted to restore icon-veneration but was not able to accomplish since, since the iconoclasts were still quite powerful. The saint realised, that it was not in his powers to guide the flock, and so he left the patriarchal throne and went secretly to the monastery of Saint Florus, where he took the schema. He repented his silence and association with the iconoclasts and talked of the necessity for convening the Eighth OEcumenical Council to condemn the Iconoclast heresy. Upon his advice, there was chosen to the patriarchal throne Saint Tarasios (784-806), at that time a prominent imperial counselor. The saint died a schema-monk in the year 804.
The Monk Alexander of Svirsk was born on 15 July 1448, on the day of memory of the Prophet Amos, and at Baptism was named in honour of him. Dwelling all his life far off from historical events, the Monk Alexander -- a beacon light of monasticism in the deep forests of the Russian North -- worked a different and spiritual history and was bestown extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit.
His parents, Stefan and Vassa (Vasilisa) were peasants of the nigh-close to Lake Ladoga village of Mandera, at the bank of the River Oyata, a tributary of the River Svira. They had two children, who were already grown and lived away from their parents. But Stefan and Vassa wanted still to have another son. They prayed fervently and heard a voice from above: "Rejoice, good wedded, ye shall bear a son, in whose birth God wilt give comfort to His Church".
Amos grew up a special lad. He was always obedient and gentle, he shunned games, jokes and foul-talk, he wore poor clothes and so weakened himself with fasting, that it caused his mother anxiety. Upon coming of age he once met Valaamsk monks who had come to the Oyata for the purchase of necessities and concerning other economic needs. Valaam at this time had already the reputation as a monastery of deep piety and strict ascetic life. Having spoken with them, the youth became interested by their account about the skete (with two or three together) and about the monastic hermit life. Knowing that his parents wanted to marry him off, the youth at age 19 went secretly to Valaam. Under the guise of being a companion, an Angel of God appeared to him, showing the way to the island.
Amos lived for seven years at the monastery as a novice, leading an austere life. He spent his days at work, and his nights -- in vigilance and prayer. Sometimes bare of chest, all covered by mosquitoes and gnats, he prayed in the forest to the morning song of the birds.
In the year 1474 Amos took monastic vows with the name Alexander. After some several years his parents eventually learned from Karelians arriving in Mandera, whither their son had disappeared. Through the example of their son, even the parents soon went to the monastery and took vows with the names Sergei and Varvara (Barbara). After their death the Monk Alexander, with the blessing of the hegumen of the monastery, settled on a solitary monastery island, where in the crevice of a cliff he built a cell and continued his spiritual exploits.
The fame of his exploits spread far. Then in 1485 the Monk Alexander departed from Valaam and, upon a command from above, chose a place in the forest on the shore of a beautiful lake, which afterwards was named Holy (Svyata). Here the monk built himself an hut and in solitude he dwelt for seven years, eating only that which he gathered in the forest (Afterwards at this place, -- Lake Svyata, 36 versts from the future city of Olonets and 6 versts from the River Svira, the Monk Alexander founded the monastery of the Life-Originating Trinity, and 130 sazhen (i.e. 910 feet) off from it, at Lake Roschina, he built himself a "withdrawing place", -- on the spot where the Alexandro-Svirsk monastery later emerged). During this time the saint experienced fierce sufferings from hunger, frost, sickness and demonic temptations. But the Lord continually sustained the spiritual and bodily strength of the righteous one. Once when suffering with terrible infirmities, the monk not only was not able to get up from the ground, but also even was unable to lift his head, he just lay there and sang psalms. And hereupon there appeared to him a glorious man. Placing his hand on the pained spot, he signed the saint with the sign of the cross and healed him.
In 1493 while hunting for deer, the adjoining land-owner Andrei Zavalishin happened to come upon the hut of the monk. Andrei spoke to him about a light, seen earlier at this place, and he entreated the monk to tell him about his life. From that point Andrei started often to visit with the Monk Alexander, and finally through the monk's guidance, he himself departed for Valaam, where he took vows with the name Adrian, founding later on the Ondrusovsk monastery, and glorifying himself with a saintly life (Comm. 26 August and 17 May, + 1549).
Andrei Zavalishin was not able to keep quiet about the ascetic, in spite of the promise given to him. News about the righteous one began to spread widely, and monks started to gather about him. The monk thereupon withdrew himself from all the brethren and built himself a "withdrawing spot" a distance of 130 sazhen from the common dwelling. The he encountered a multitude of temptations. The demons took on beastly shapes, they hissed like snakes, urging the monk to flee. But the prayer of the saint, as it were a fiery flame, scorched and dispersed the devils.
In 1508, the 23th year of the monk's dwelling at this secluded spot, there appeared to him the Life-Originating Trinity. The monk was praying at night at his "withdrawing spot". Suddenly an intense light shone, and the monk beheld approaching him Three Men, robed in radiant white garb. Hallowed by Heavenly Glory, They did shine in a pure brightness greater than the sun. Each of Them held in Their hand a staff. The monk fell down in terror, and having come to his senses, prostrated himself on the ground. Taking him up by the hand, the Men said: "Trust thou, blessed one, and fear not". The monk received orders to construct a church and to build up a monastery. He again fell to his knees, crying out about his own unworthiness, but the Lord raised him up and ordered him to fulfill the commands. The monk asked, in whose name the church ought to be. The Lord thereupon said: "Beloved, as thou beholdest Those speaking with thee in Three Persons, so also construct thou the church in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity One-in-Essence. I leave thee peace and My peace I give thee". And immediately the Monk Alexander beheld the Lord with out-stretched wings, going as though along the ground, and He became invisible. In the history of the Russian Orthodox Church this Divine Descent is acknowledged as unique. After this vision the monk began to think, where to build the church. Once during a time of prayer to God, he heard a voice from above. Having gazed up to the heights, he saw an Angel of God in mantle and klobuk, such as the Monk Pakhomios had seen. The Angel, standing in the air with out-stretched wings and up-raised hands, proclaimed: "One is Holy, One is the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Glory of God the Father, Amen". And then he turned to the monk: Alexander, upon this spot construct the church in the Name of the Lord Who hath appeared to thee in Three Persons, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, the Trinity Undivided". And having thrice made the cross over the place, the Angel became invisible.
In that same year was built a wooden church of the Life-Originating Trinity (in 1526 was built here a stone church). And at the same time as the building of the church, the brethren began to urge the monk to accept the priesthood. For a long time he refused, considering himself unworthy. Then the brethren began to implore Saint Serapion, Archbishop of Novgorod (+ 1516, Comm. 16 March), that he convince the monk to accept the dignity. And so in that very year the monk journeyed to Novgorod and received ordination from the holy archbishop. Soon afterwards the brethren also besought the monk to accept being hegumen.
Having become hegumen, the monk became even more humble than before. His clothes were all in tatters, and he slept on the bare ground. He himself prepared food, kneaded dough and baked bread. One time there was not sufficient firewood and the steward asked the hegumen to dispatch after firewood any of the monks that were idle. "I am idle", -- said the monk, and he began to chop firewood. Another time likewise he began to carry water. And by night when all were asleep, the monk was often grinding away with hand-stones for making more bread. By night the monk made the round of the cells and if he heard anywhere vain conversations, he lightly tapped on the door and departed, but in the morning he admonished the brother, imposing a penance on the culprit.
Towards the end of his life the Monk Alexander decided to build a stone church of the Pokrov (Protection) of the MostHoly Mother of God. One time in the evening, after doing an akathist to the MostHoly Mother of God, the monk settled down to rest in the cell and suddenly said to the cell-attendant Afanasii: "Child, be sober and alert, because in this hour will be a wondrous and astounding visit". There followed a voice, like thunder: "Behold cometh the Lord and His Birth-Giver". The monk hastened to the entrance to the cell, and a great light illumined it, spreading over all the monastery brighter than the rays of the sun. Gazing, the monk beheld over the foundation of the Pokrov church sitting at the altar place, as it were an empress upon a throne, the All-Pure Mother of God. She held the Infant-Christ in Her arms, and a multitude of the angelic rank, shining with an indescribable brightness, stood before Her. The monk fell down, unable to bear the great light. The Mother of God said: "Rise up, thou chosen one of My Son and God. For I have come here to visit thee, My dear one, and to look upon the foundation of My church. And for this, I have made entreaty for thy disciples and monastery, from hence all wilt be abundant; not only during thine life, but also upon thy departure persistently from thy monastery will be a granting of all necessities in abundance. Behold and watch carefully, how many monks are gathered into thy flock, which by thee mustneeds be guided on the way of salvation in the Name of the Holy Trinity". The monk rose up and beheld a multitude of monks. Again said the Mother of God: "My dear one, if someone doth bear one brick for the building of My church, in the Name of Jesus Christ, My Son and God, his treasure perisheth not". And She became invisible.
Before his death the monk displayed wondrous humility. He summoned the brethren and bid them: "Bind my sinful body by the legs and drag it to a swampy thicket and, having enclosed it in skins, submerse it by the legs". The brethren answered: "No, father, it is not possible to do this". Then the monk bid that his body not be kept at the monastery, but at a place of withdrawal, the church of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Having lived 85 years, the monk expired to the Lord on 30 August 1533.
The Monk Alexander of Svirsk was glorified by wondrous miracles during his life and upon his death. In 1545 his disciple and successor, Hegumen Irodion, compiled his life. In 1547 was begun the local celebration of the monk and a service compiled to him. In the year 1641, on 17 April, during the rebuilding of the Transfiguration church, the incorrupt relics of the Monk Alexander of Svirsk were uncovered and the universal Church celebration to him was established on two dates: the day of repose -- 30 August, and the day of glorification (Uncovering of Relics) -- 17 April.
The Monk Alexander of Svirsk instructed and raised up a whole multitude of disciples, as the Mother of God had bequeathed him. These are the Sainted-Monks: Ignatii of Ostrovsk (XVI), Leonid of Ostrovsk (XVI), Kornilii of Ostrovsk (XVI), Dionysii of Ostrovsk (XVI), Athanasii (Afanasii) of Ostrovsk (XVI), Theodore (Feodor) of Ostrovsk (XVI), Ferapont of Ostrovsk (XVI). Besides these saints, there are known disciples and those conversing with the Monk Alexander of Svirsk, which have separate days of memory: the Monk Athansii (Afanasii) of Syandemsk (XVI, Comm. 18 January), the Monk Gennadii of Vasheozersk (+ 8 January 1516, Comm. 9 February), the Monk Makarii of Orodezhsk (+ 1532, Comm. 9 August), the Monk Adrian of Ondrosovsk (+ 26 August 1549, Comm. 17 May), the Monk Nikifor of Vasheozersk (+ 1557, Comm. 9 February), the Monk Gennadii of Kostroma and Liubimograd (+ 1565, Comm. 23 January). All these saints (except the Monk Gennadii of Kostroma) are imaged on the Icon of the Monastic Fathers, illumined in the Karelia land (icon from the church at the Spiritual Seminary in the city of Kuopio, Finland). The festal celebration of the Sobor-Assemblage of the Saints Illumined in the Karelian Land is done by the Finnish Orthodox Church on the Saturday falling between 31 October and 6 November.
The Holy NobleBorn Prince Alexander Nevsky (in monastic-schema Alexei) died on the return journey from the Horde at Gorodtsa on the Volga, on 14 November 1263, and on 23 November (under this day is located the account about him) in 1263 he was buried in the Cathedral Church of the Nativity Monastery in the city of Vladimir (there is set up there now a memorial to the holy prince; yet another memorial is set up in the city of Pereslavl'-Zalessk). Veneration of the nobleborn prince started right at his burial, whereof was a remarkable miracle: the saint himself extended his hand for the absolving prayer. Great Prince Ioann Ioannovich (1353-1359) in his spiritual testament written in the year 1356, left to his son Dimitrii (1363-1389), the future victor of the Battle of Kulikovo, "an icon of Saint Alexander". The undecayed relics of the nobleborn prince were opened, on account of a vision, before the Kulikovo Battle -- in the year 1380, and then were set forth for local feast-celebration. For the prayers of the holy prince, glorified by defense of the Fatherland, Russian commanders resorted to in all the following times. On 30 August 1721 Peter I, after a lengthy and exhausting war with the Swedes, concluded the Nishtad Peace. This day was decided upon to hallow by the transfer of the relics of the NobleBorn Prince Alexander Nevsky from Vladimir to the new northern capital, Peterburg, arranged on the banks of the Neva. Withdrawn from Vladimir on 11 August 1723, the holy relics were greeted at Shlissel'burg on 20 September of that year and remained there until 1724, when on 30 August they were placed in the Trinity Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra (Monastery), where now also they rest. By an edict/ukaz on 2 September 1724 there was established a feastday on 30 August (in 1727 the feast was discontinued by reason of non-church matters, and involved clique-struggles at the imperial court. In 1730 the feast was again re-established).
Archimandrite Gavriel Buzhinsky (later Bishop of Riazan, + 27 April 1731) compiled a special service in remembrance of the Nishtad Peace, combining with it a service to Saint Alexander Nevsky.
The name of the Defender of the borders of Russia and the Patron of Soldiers is famous far from the regions of our Native Land. The testimony to this: the numerous temples dedicated to Saint Alexander Nevsky. The most famous of them: the Patriarchal Cathedral at Sofia, the Cathedral church in Talinin, and a church in Tbilisi. These churches are a pledge of friendship of the Russian National-Liberator with brother nations.
NobleBorn Prince Daniel of Moscow, son of the holy nobleborn prince Alexander Nevsky, died on 4 March 1303. On 30 August 1652 his relics were uncovered incorrupt. The account about him is located under 4 March.
The Monk Christopher, a Roman, lived during the VI Century. He was tonsured into monasticism at the monastery of the Monk Theodosios (Comm. 11 January) in Palestine, Near Jerusalem. The accounts of Abba Theodulos about the Monk Christopher are contained in the book "Spiritual Meadows" ("Leimon" or "Limonar'") by John Moskhos and Sophronios.
One time the Monk Christopher went to Jerusalem, to worship at the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord and at the Life-Creating Cross. At the gateway of the church he beheld a monk not moving from the spot. Two ravens flew before his face. The Monk Christopher discerned that these were demons, which held the monk back from entering the church. He asked the brother: "Why standest thou at the gate and enter not in?". -- The brother answered: "Pardon me, father, but within me struggle two thoughts: one says: go and venerate the Venerable Cross, but the other says: go not in, rather first finish thou thine affairs, and another time come and venerate". Then Saint Christopher took the brother by the hand and led him into the church. The ravens immediately disappeared, and the brother made his veneration. The Monk Christopher recounted this in instructing those who were very little diligent in prayer, and who forgot, that first one ought to fulfill spiritual service, and then afterwards the necessary work.
By day the Monk Christopher fulfilled his monastic obedience, and by night he retired to a cave, where at an earlier time had prayed the Monk Theodosios and other fathers. At each of the 18 steps, leading into the cave, he made about 100 poklons and the greater part of the night he spent in prayer, before the pealing calling to morning song. At this exploit he spent 11 years. One time, descending into the cave, he beheld in it a multitude of lamps. Two radiant youths were lighting them. "Why have ye put the lampadi here, such that I be not able to enter in and pray", -- said the monk. "These are the lampadi of the fathers, serving God", -- answered the youths. "Tell me, -- asked the saint, -- does my lampada burn or not?" They answered: "Work, pray, and we shall light it". Then the saint said to himself: "Oi, Christopher, thou oughtest to assume yet greater a burden, that thy lamp might be lighted!" He went from the monastery to Mount Sinai, taking nothing with him. The monk toiled there for 50 years at great exploits. And finally, he heard a voice saying: "Christopher! Go to thine monastery where thou didst asceticise earlier, so that thou mightest repose there with thine fathers".
The Monk Fantinus the Wonderworker was born in Calabria (Italy) of parents George and Vriena. He was given over to a monastery and from childhood he was accustomed to ascetic deeds. In youth he wandered into the wilderness, remaining often without food for 20 days and lacking garb. In suchlike exploits the monk spent 60 years. Before the end of his life, fleeing before pursuing Saracens, he set off with his disciples Vitalius and Nicephorus to the Peleponnesus (Greece). Preaching the way of salvation, the monk visited Corinth, Athens, Larissa and Soluneia (Thessalonika), where he venerated the relics of the GreatMartyr Demetrios (Comm. 26 October). He died peacefully in extreme old age at the end of the IX - beginning X Century.
Sainted Spiridon, Patriarch of Serbia (1382-1388), was much concerned about the monastic communities during difficult years of civil and ecclesial unrest. He was consecrated by Sainted Ephrem II, Patriarch of Serbia (1367-1382; + 1388), who then withdrew to the Archangel'sk monastery of the Dushan church. Saint Spiridon termed Church singing "a spiritual flute" -- and evidently he wrote church-song for the Serbian Church. The saint died at almost the same time as Blessed Prince Lazar (+ 1389, Comm. 15 June), who was killed in the battle with the Turks at Kosovo Pole. After the death of Saint Spiridon the guidance of the Serbian Church was again placed upon Saint Ephrem II.
Sainted Makarii, Patriarch of Serbia (1557-1574), toiled in particular for the spread of education in Serbia. Many a church book was printed in his time. The brother of the saint was vizier under the sultan and assisted in the restoration of monasteries and churches -- despoiled by Mohametan fanaticism, and also with the restoration of the patriarch's monastery.
Sainted Gavriel (Gabriel) I, Patriarch of Serbia (by familial lineage Raicha), occupied the cathedra-seat in the mid-XVII Century, a time when the Moslem fanaticism had become intense. In the urgent need for both cathedral and country the saint set off for collecting alms to Walachia, and from there to Moscow.
And in Moscow in 1655 he was present together with the Patriarch of Antioch at a Church Sobor (Council), which sought to correct various aspects of church books in accord with the Greek and Old Slavonic texts. The saint brought as gift to the Russian Church several manuscripts and three liturgies printed in the South. With generous alms for his Church and country the saint returned to Serbia. His cathedra-seat had been given over to another occupant, and moreover, Austrian Jesuits had slandered him with treason before the vizier. The total innocence of the saint was already evidenced from this, that the vizier made pretense to spare his life and bestow a great official position, if the saint would betray his faith in the Saviour. "I am completely innocent of state crimes, -- said Saint Gavriel, -- this you yourself avow. To save my life by betrayal of Christian faith I shall never agree to, while remaining of sound mind. Keep your riches and honours, for me they are unneeded". After torture Saint Gavriel was hanged in October 1659.
The Placing of the Venerable Belt of the MostHoly Mother of God in the Constantinople Blakhernae Church was during the reign of the emperor Arcadius (395-408). Before this the holy relict, entrusted to the Apostle Thomas by the Mother of God Herself, was after Her Dormition thereafter kept at Jerusalem by pious Christians. After many years, during the reign of emperor Leo the Wise (886-911), from the Belt of the Mother of God was accomplished a miraculous healing of his spouse Zoa, suffering from an unclean spirit.
The empress had a vision, that she would be healed of her infirmity when the Belt of the Mother of God would be placed upon her. The emperor turned with his petition to the Patriarch. The Patriarch removed the seal and opened the vessel in which the relict was kept: the Belt of the Mother of God appeared completely whole and undamaged by time. The Patriarch placed the Belt on the sick empress, and she immediately was freed from her infirmity. They served a solemn thanksgiving molieben to the MostHoly Mother of God, and the venerable Belt they placed back into the vessel and resealed the seal.
In commemoration of the miraculous occurrence and the twofold Placing of the venerable Belt, the feast of the Placing of the Venerable Belt of the MostHoly Mother of God was established. Parts of the holy Belt are in the Athos Batopedia monastery, in Trier monastery and in Gruzia (Georgia).
The PriestMartyr Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, was born in about the year 200 in the city of Carthage (Northern Africa), where all his life and work took place. Thasius Cyprianus was the son of a rich pagan senator, and received a fine secular education becoming a splendid orator, teacher of rhetoric and philosophy in the school of Carthage. He often appeared in the courts to plea and defend the deeds of his townsmen. Cyprian afterwards recollected, that for a long while "he remained in a deep dark myst..., far from the light of Truth". His fortune -- received from his parents and from his vocational activity, he expended on sumptuous banquets, but they were not able to quench in him the thirst for truth. Having become curious about Christianity, he became acquainted with the writings of the Apologist presbyter Tertullian (born about the year 160). The sainted-bishop later wrote, that it then seemed impossible for him because of his habits to attain to the regeneration promised by the Saviour.
From such a burdened and undecided state of mind he was helped out by his friend and guide -- the presbyter Cecilius. At 46 years of age the studious pagan was received into the Christian community as a catechumen. And before accepting Baptism, he distributed his property to the poor and moved into the house of the presbyter Cecilius. Strengthened by the power of the regenerative grace of God -- received by him in Baptism, Sainted Cyprian wrote in a letter to his friend Donatus: "When the surge of regeneration cleansed the impurity of my former life, a light -- steady and bright, shone down from Heaven into my heart. When the second birth by the Heavenly Spirit transformed me into a new man, then in a miraculous manner I was strengthened against doubt, mysteries were revealed, and darkness was made light... and I learned, that my having lived in the flesh for sin belonged to the earthly, but now was begun a Divine living by the Holy Spirit. In God and from God is all our strength; from Him is our might. Through Him we, living upon the earth, have the hint of a condition of future bliss". Exemplarily a year after his Baptism the saint was ordained to the priesthood, and when bishop Donatus of Carthage died, all unanimously chose Saint Cyprian as bishop. He gave his consent, having complied with his guide's request, and was ordained bishop of Carthage in about the year 248.
The saint first of all concerned himself about the welfare of the Church and the eradication of vices amidst the clergy and flock. The saintly life of the archpastor evoked in everyone a desire to imitate his piety, humility and wisdom. The fruitful activity of Saint Cyprian became reknown beyond the bounds of his diocese. Bishops from other sees often turned to him for advice, as how to deal with this or that other matter. A persecution by the emperor Decius (249-251) -- revealed to the saint in a dream vision, forced him to go into hiding. His life was necessary to his flock for the strengthening of faith and courage among the persecuted. Before his departure from his diocese, the saint distributed the church treasury among all the clergy for the rendering of help to the needy, and in addition he dispatched further funds.
He kept in constant touch with the Carthaginian Christians through his epistles, and he wrote letters to presbyters, confessors and martyrs. Some Christians, broken by torture, offered sacrifice to the pagan gods. These lapsed Christians appealed to the confessors, asking to give them what is called a letter of reconciliation, i.e. an interceding certificate about accepting them back into the Church. Sainted Cyprian wrote to all the Carthaginian Christians a general missive, in which he indicated that those lapsed during a time of persecution might be admitted into the Church, but this needed to be preceded by an investigation of the circumstances under which the falling-away came about. An examination was necessary of the sincerity of contrition of the lapsed. To admit them was possible only after a Church penance and with the permission of the bishop. Some of the lapsed insistently demanded their immediate re-admittance into the Church and by this caused unrest in the whole community. Saint Cyprian wrote the bishops of other dioceses asking their opinion, and from all he received full approval of his directives.
During the time of his absence the saint authorised four clergy to examine the lives of persons preparing for ordination to the priesthood and the deaconate. This met resistance from the layman Felicissimus and the presbyter Novatus, roused to indignation against their bishop. Saint Cyprian excommunicated Felicissimus and six of his accomplices. In his letter to the flock, the saint touchingly admonished all not to separate themselves from the unity of the Church, to be subject to the lawful commands of the bishop and to await his return. This letter held the majority of Carthaginian Christians in fidelity to the Church.
In a short while Saint Cyprian returned to his flock. The insubordination of Felicissimus was put to an end at a Local Council in the year 251. This Council rendered a judgement about the possibility of receiving the lapsed back into the Church after a church penance and it affirmed the excommunication of Felicissimus.
During this time there occurred a new schism, put forward by the Roman presbyter Novatian, and joined by the Carthaginian presbyter Novatus -- a former adherent of Felicissimus. Novatian asserted that the lapsed during time of persecution could not be admitted back, even if they repented of their sin. Besides this, Novatian with the help of Novatus convinced three Italian bishops during the lifetime of the lawful Roman bishop Celerinus to place another bishop on the Roman cathedra. Against such iniquity, Saint Cyprian wrote a series of circular missives to the African bishops, and afterwards a whole book, "On the Unity of the Church".
When the discord in the Carthage church began to quiet down, a new calamity began -- a pestilential plague flared up. Hundreds of people fled from the city -- leaving the sick without help, and the dead without burial. Saint Cyprian, providing an example by his firmness and his courage, himself tended the sick and buried the dead, not only Christians but pagans also. The pestilential plague was accompanied by drought and famine. An horde of barbarian Numidians, taking advantage of the misfortune, fell upon the inhabitants taking many into captivity. Saint Cyprian moved many rich Carthaginians to offer up means for feeding the starving and ransoming captives.
When a new persecution against Christians spread under the emperor Valerian (253-259), the Carthaginian proconsul Paternus ordered the saint to offer sacrifice to idols. He steadfastly refused both to do this and to name names and abodes of the presbyters of the Carthage Church. The sent off the saint to the locale of Corubisum. Deacon Pontus voluntarily followed his bishop into exile. On the day when the saint arrived at the place of exile he had a dream vision, predicting for him a quick martyr's end. Situated in exile, Saint Cyprian wrote many letters and books. Wanting to suffer at Carthage, he himself returned there. Taken before the court, he was set at liberty until the following year. Nearly all the Christians of Carthage came to take their leave of their bishop and receive his blessing. At the trial Saint Cyprian calmly and firmly refused to offer sacrifice to idols and was sentenced to beheading with a sword. Hearing the sentence, Saint Cyprian said: "Thanks be to God!" and all the people with one voice cried out: "And we want to die with him!" Coming to the place of execution, the saint again gave his blessing to all and arranged to give 25 gold coins to the executioner. He himself then covered over his eyes, and gave his hands to be bound to the presbyter and archdeacon standing near him and lowered his head. Christians with lamentation put their shawls and veils by him so as to gather up the priestly blood. The martyr's death occurred in the year 258. The body of the saint was taken by night and given burial in a private crypt of the procurator Macrovius Candidianus.
Afterwards, during the time of king Charles the Great (i.e. Charlemagne, 771-814), his holy relics were transferred to France.
Sainted Cyprian of Carthage left the Church a precious legacy: his writings and 80 letters. The works of Saint Cyprian were accepted by the Church as a model of Orthodox confession and read at OEcumenical Councils (III Ephesus and IV Chalcedon). In the writings of Saint Cyprian is stated the Orthodox teaching about the Church -- having its foundation upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and proclaimed and built by the Apostles. The inner unity is expressed in an unity of faith and love, and the outer unity is actualised by the hierarchy and sacraments of the Church. In the Church Christ comprises all the fulness of life and salvation. Those having separated themselves from the unity of the Church do not have in themself true life. Christian love is shewn as the bond holding together the Church. "Love, -- is the foundation of all the virtues, and it continues with us eternally in the Heavenly Kingdom".
Sainted Gennadios, Patriarch of Tsargrad, was placed on the throne of the Constantinople Church in the year 458, during the reign of the holy nobleborn emperor Leo the Great (457-474). His life is known about from the book "Spiritual Meadows" in which were inscribed tales of the monks of Salamis monastery (near Alexandria), -- the Monks Sophronios and John. These monks were clergy of the Constantinople Church under Patriarch Gennadios. Sainted Gennadios was distinguished for his mildness, tolerance, purity and abstinence. About his power of prayer one might judge from the following instance: in the church of the holy Martyr Eleutherios at Constantinople was a disreputable clergyman Charisimos, spending his life in idleness, impurity and even occupying himself with theft and sorcery. For a long time Saint Gennadios admonished him with gentleness and patience, but Charisimos did not change his conduct. The patriarch resorted to strictness and gave orders to give the disreputable cleric several blows for comprehension. But even after the punishment he did not straighten out. Patriarch Gennadios then entrusted his emissary in his name to turn to the holy Martyr Eleutherios (Comm. 4 August) in whose church Charisimos served. Entering the temple, the emissary of the patriarch came before the altar, stretched out his hand to the grave of the martyr and said: "Holy Martyr Eleutherios! Patriarch Gennadios announces to thee through me a sinner, that the cleric Charisimos, serving in thy temple, doth do much iniquity and create great scandal; wherefore do thou either improve him or cut him off from the Church". On the following morning Charisimos was found dead. Another instance, displaying the great strength of prayer of Saint Gennadios, occurred with one of the portrait painters who dared to paint an image of Christ, giving the Saviour the features of the pagan god Zeus. The hand of the painter, having done such blasphemy, immediately withered. The repentant painter was brought in the church and confessed all his sins to the patriarch. Saint Gennadios prayed over the sinner, and the hand of the painter was healed.
To settle iniquitous actions and false teachings arising in the Church, Saint Gennadios summoned a Local Council at which were condemned the Eutykhian heresy and which interdicted simony (the buying of the dignity of ordination). The saint concerned himself that a person wishing to accept the priestly dignity would be quite knowledgeable in Holy Scripture and know the Psalter by heart.
During the time of the patriarchate of Saint Gennadios, there was built a temple in honour of Saint John the Precursor. Then a certain senator Studius having come from Rome founded a monastery, which afterwards became known as the "Studite". The church steward under the holy Patriarch Gennadios was the Monk Marcian (Comm. 10 January). The patriarch also ordained to the priesthood the Monk Daniel the Stylite (Comm. 11 December). Saint Gennadios was the author of dialogues and commentaries on the Prophet Daniel (the works have not survived). There is known also his Circular Missive against Simony", affirmed by a Council of the year 459. Sainted Gennadios governed the Constantinople Church for 13 years. He died peacefully in the year 471.
Once during the time of night prayer it was made known to the saint that a powerful enemy would fall upon his flock. He incessantly offered up prayer for the peace of the Church, that the Lord would preserve it invincible against the gates of Hades.