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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 Holy Martyrs, Wonderworkers and UnMercenaries Cosmas and Damian -- were brothers by birth, born at Rome, and physicians by profession. They accepted a martyr's death at Rome under the emperor Carinus (283-284). They were brought up by their parents in the rules of piety, they led strict and chaste lives, and they were granted by God the graced gift of healing the sick. By their good and unselfish attitude towards people, combined with their exceptional kindliness, the brothers converted many to Christ. The saints usually said to the sick: "It be not by our power that we treat the sick, but by the power of Christ, the True God. Believe in Him and be healed". For their unselfish doctoring of the infirm, the holy brothers were called "unmercenary physicians".
Their active service towards neighbour and spiritual influence on the surroundings, leading many into the Church, attracted the attention of the Roman authorities. Soldiers were sent after the brothers. Hearing about this, Christians implored Saints Cosmas and Damian to hide themselves away for a while until they could render them help. But the soldiers, not finding the brothers, arrested instead other Christians of the settlement, where the saints lived. Saints Cosmas and Damian then came out of hiding and delivered themselves over into the hands of the soldiers, asking them to set free those arrested because of them.
At Rome, the saints were at first locked up in prison, and then were taken for trial. The saints openly confessed before the Roman emperor and the judge their faith in Christ God, having come into the world to save mankind and redeem the world from sin, and they resolutely refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. They said: "We have caused evil for no one, we have not involved ourselves with the magic or sorcery, of which you accuse us. We doctor the infirm by the power of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and we do not take any sort of recompense for rendering aid to the sick, because our Lord commanded His disciples: "Freely ye have received, freely give" (Mt. 10: 8).
The emperor however continued with his demands. Through the prayer of the holy brothers, imbued with the power of grace, God suddenly struck Carinus blind, so that he too in his own experience might know the almightiness of the Lord, not forgiving blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The people, beholding the miracle, cried out: "Great is the Christian God and no other is God, except Him!" Many of those that believed besought the holy brothers to heal the emperor, and he himself implored the saints, promising to convert to the True God Christ the Saviour. The saints healed him. After this, Saints Cosmas and Damian were with honour set free and again they set about doctoring the sick.
But what the hatred of the pagans and the ferocity of the Roman authorities could not do, was done by black envy, one of the strongest passions of the sinful nature of man. An older physician -- an instructor, under whom in their time the holy brothers had studied the medical craft, became jealous of their fame. Driven to madness by this malice, and all overcome by passion, he summoned the holy brothers, formerly his most beloved students, that they should all get together for a gathering of various medicinal herbs, and setting far off into the mountains, he murdered them, throwing their bodies into a river.
Thus as martyrs ended the earthly journey of these holy brothers -- the Unmercenary Healers Cosmas and Damian. They had devoted all their life to a Christian service to neighbour, having escaped the Roman sword and prison, but treacherously murdered by a teacher.
The Lord glorified His God-pleasing ones. And now through the prayers of the holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian is received healing from God for all, who with faith recourse to their saintly intercession.
The Holy Martyr Potitus suffered under the emperor Antoninus (138-161). His father was a pagan, but the youth, at but 13 years of age having become familiar with the Christian teaching, believed in the True God and accepted holy Baptism. Having learned of this, his father was extremely upset and tried at first by endearment, and then also by threats to dissuade his son from faith in Christ the Saviour. His efforts, however, were in vain. Impressed by the firmness of faith in the lad, the father himself likewise came to believe in the Son of God and became a Christian.
Saint Potitus travelled through many lands preaching about Christ and by the power of God he worked wondrous miracles.
In a region, called Epirus, there lived the illustrious woman named Kyriakia, wife of a senator, but afflicted with leprosy. Hearing about Saint Potitus, she summoned him and besought healing. The saint declared, that if she believed in Christ, she would be healed. The woman accepted holy Baptism and was immediately healed. Seeing such a miracle, her husband and all the household believed and were likewise baptised.
After this, the saint settled on Mount Gargara and lived in solitude, amidst the birds and the beasts. He was found there by servants of the emperor Antoninus, whose daughter was afflicted with demonic possession. The devil said through the lips of the maiden, that he would come out of her only with the coming of Potitus. They brought the holy youth to the emperor, and through the prayers of Saint Potitus the sick girl received healing. But in place of gratitude, the emperor treated the saint with inhuman cruelty. For his firm confession of faith in Christ the Saviour and his refusal to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, to which the emperor imputed the healing of his daughter, they tore out the tongue from Saint Potitus and blinded him. After lengthy torture, the saint was then beheaded.
The Monk Peter was born at the end of the VIII Century at Constantinople into a patrician family. During the reign of the Byzantine emperor Nicephorus (802-811) Peter was appointed as a military-commander and participated in the campaigns of the Greek army against Bulgaria. In one of the battles the Greeks suffered a set-back. The emperor was mortally wounded, and Peter amidst many other soldiers was taken captive.
One time by night, during a time of fervent prayer, the holy Evangelist John the Theologian appeared to him in a vision and released him from captivity. Having returned to Constantinople, Saint Peter left the world and withdrew into a monastery on Mount Olympos (Asia Minor) and became a monk. There he passed his time in constant ascetic efforts for 34 years under the guidance of the Monk Joannikios the Great (Comm. 4 November). The Monk Peter spent the whole time of his monastic life in strict fast and constant vigil, he wore a prickly hair-shirt and went about bare of foot. He lived the final 8 years of his life at Constantinople, where he founded a church and a monastery in the name of Saint Euandros.
The Monk Peter died in his seventieth year of life (+ 854) and was buried in his monastery.
Saint Leontius was born in Radauti, Moldavia in the fourteenth century. He was named Laurence when he received the monastic tonsure. In time he was found worthy of ordination to the holy priesthod, and founded a monastery near Radauti, which later became known as St Laurence's Monastery. Among his many disciples was St Daniel the Hesychast (December 18).
Because of his holy life, he received from God the grace of working miracles. Many sick people were healed by his prayers, and he became a father, teacher, and protector to all.
Prince Alexander the Good recommended that he be made Bishop of Radauti. St Leontius led his flock with wisdom for many years, then retired to live alone in the wilderness. He received the Great Schema with the name of Leontius, and departed to the Lord soon afterward. His holy relics were found incorrupt, and many people received healing at his tomb.
St Leontius was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Romania in 1992.
Saints Angelina and Stephen were the parents of St John of Serbia. The life of the Serbian ruler Stephen Brankovich and his family was filled with instability and misfortune. After Serbia was seized in 1457 by the Turks, the then Serbian ruler's middle son, Stephen (October 9), distinguished by a meek disposition and fine knowledge of Holy Scripture, went to the capital of Turkey after his sister had been given to Sultan Murat in marriage. Learning that the Turks had burned the Mileshevsk monastery with fanatic cruelty, St Stephen rose up to defend Serbia from oppression.
When he married Angelina (July 1 & 30), the daughter of the Prince of Albania, the Turks threatened St Stephen and his family with punishment. With his wife and three children he was forced to hide first in Albania, and then in Italy, where he died.
St Angelina transferred the incorrupt relics of her spouse to Kupinovo. At the end of the fifteenth century, their son St John, became ruler of Serbia. The incorrupt relics of St John and his parents were afterwards glorified by many miracles.
The Monk Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain (Nikodim Svyatogorets), in Baptism Nicholas, was born in the year 1748 on the Greek island of Naksos. At age 26 he arrived on Holy Mount Athos and there, in the Dionysiata monastery, he accepted monastic tonsure with the name Nicodemos.
The Monk Nicodemos at first bore the obedience of reader and letter-writer. Two years after his entry into the monastery on Athos, there arrived there the metropolitan of Corinth, Makarios, who entrusted to the young monk the preparation for publication of the manuscript of the "Philokalia" ("Dobrotoliubie"), found by him in 1777 at the Batopedeia monastery. Work upon this book was the beginning of many years of literary work by the Monk Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain. The young monk soon transferred to the Pantokrator skete monastery, and was under obedience to the monastic-elder Arsenios Peloponnesos, under the guidance of whom he zealously studied Holy Scripture and the works of the holy fathers. In 1783 the Monk Nicodemos became schema-monk and for six years he dwelt in complete silence. When metropolitan Makarios of Corinth again arrived on Athos, he imposed on the Monk Nicodemos a new obedience -- the editing of the work of the Monk Simeon the New Theologian. The Monk Nicodemos put aside the ascetic deed of silence and again occupied himself with literary work. And from this time until his death he continued zealously to toil in this endeavour.
Not long before his end, the Monk Nicodemos, worn down by bookwork and ascetic efforts, transferred his residence to the priestmonk iconographers Stephanos and Neophytes Skurtea ("Bobbed-Hair"). He besought them to help in the publication of his works, which his condition of infirmity was hindering him from doing. Here, at the Skurtea's, the Monk Nicodemos peacefully expired to the Lord on 1 July 1809.
According to the testimony of his contemporaries, the Monk Nicodemos was a simple man, without malice, unassuming and distinguished by his profound concentration. He possessed a remarkable mental ability: he knew the Holy Scripture by heart, remembering even the chapter, verse and page, and by memory he could even recite much from the works of the holy fathers.
The literary work of the Monk Nicodemos was varied. He wrote a preface to the "Philokalia" ("Dobrotoliubie"), and short lives of ascetics. From the ascetic guidances of the saint, particularly well known is the book, "Unseen Warfare" ("Nevidimaya bran'"), rendered into the Russian language by the great theological-ascetic Theophan Zatvornik ("the Hermit") (M(oscow), 1886, 5th ed. M(oscow), 1912). A remarkable work of the ascetic was his "Teaching about Confession" ("Uchenie ob ispovedi") (Venice, 1804, 1818), summarised by his pervasive book, "Discourse on Repentance" ("Slovom o pokayanii"). An interesting book of the monk, "The Moral Christian" ("Blagonravie khristian"), was published in Venice in 1803. A great service of the saint was rendered also in the area of publishing of Divine-service books. In 1796 he published extracts from the Athos manuscript collections 62 canons to the MostHoly Mother of God under the title, "The Crown of the Ever-Virgin" (" Venets Prisnodevi") (Venice, 1796, 1846).
The Monk Nicodemos prepared the edition of a new redaction of the "The Rudder" or "Pedalion" -- the Greek for "Nourishment Books" ("Kormchei knigi"), -- comprised of the rules of the Holy Apostles, of the holy Oecumenical and Local Councils, and of the holy fathers.
The monk devoted great attention to hagiography, which is witnessed also by his work, "A new Collection of the Lives of the Saints" (Venice 1803), and his posthumous book, "The New Synaxarion" in 3 volumes (Venice 1819). He accomplished a translation from old-Greek into the new-Greek language of the work, "Interpretations of the Epistles of the Holy Apostle Paul" by the Bulgarian archbishop Theophylakt. Saint Nicodemos himself wrote interpretations of the seven Conciliar Missives (published likewise at Venice in 1806 and 1819).
The Monk Nicodemos is known likewise as the author and interpreter of sacred song. Compiled by him (and accepted in the Russian Church): a canon in honour of the Mother of God "Quick-to-Hear" ("Skoroposlushnitsa"), and likewise "Service to the Monastic and God-Bearing Fathers, Illumined by Fasting", "The Eortodromion, or the Exposition of Sung Canons, Which are Sung on the Eve of Feasts of the Lord and the Mother of God" (Venice 1836), "The New Ladder, or Interpretation of the 75 Degrees of song of the Eight-Tones Oktoekhos" (Constantinople, 1844).
Life Of Saint John (Maximovitch) The Wonderworker, Of Shanghai and San Francisco. What better description could be found to portray the essence of a man whose love for Christ drew him to such heights of spiritual perfection that he enkindled the faith of thousands from East to West? The life of Archbishop John Maximovitch demonstrates more vividly than any words that true Christianity far exceeds the bounds of human "goodness". Here is a shining reflection of the supernatural love of God, which works miracles, a living proof that the burning faith of the early Christian saints still warms the earth at a time when the love of many has grown cold. Archbishop John did not isolate himself from the world, but he was not of this world. First and foremost he was man of prayer. He completely surrendered himself to God, presenting himself as a "living sacrifice", and he became a true vessel of the Holy Spirit. His work continues even now today.
This holy man of God was born 4 June 1896 in the province of Kharkov in southern Russia. At baptism he was given the name Michael. As a child he was serious for his years and he later wrote: "From the first days when I began to become aware of myself, I wished to serve righteousness and truth. My parents kindled in me a striving to stand unwaveringly for the truth, and my soul was captivated by the example of those who had given their lives for it."
Following the desire of his parents, he entered law school in Kharkov. He was a naturally gifted student but spent more time reading Lives of Saints than attending academic lectures. "While studying the worldly sciences," he wrote, "I went all the more deeply into the study of the science of sciences, into the study of the spiritual life."
After the Revolution in Russia, he was evacuated together with his family to Belgrade where he entered the school of theology at the University. In 1926, a year after his graduation, he was tonsured a monk and given the name John, after his own distant relative who was a canonized saint in Russia and he was known as St. John of Tobolsk (Archbishop John was buried with an icon of his saintly relative). In November of that same year, he was ordained hieromonk. Soon he became a teacher at the Serbian Seminary of St. John the Theologian at Bitol. More than once the bishop of that diocese would say, "If you wish to see a living saint, go to Father John."
It was his own students who first became aware of Vladika's great feats of asceticism. At night they noticed that Vladika would stay up, making the rounds of the dormitories and praying over the sleeping students. "Finally, it was discovered that he scarcely slept at all, and never in a bed, allowing himself only an hour or two each night of uncomfortable rest in a sitting position, or bent over on the floor, praying before icons." This ascetic feat he continued for the rest of his life, bringing his body "into subjection" according to the holy Apostle Paul, "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" (I Corinthians 9:27).
At the age of 38 he was elevated to the episcopate and sent to Shanghai. There he restored Church unity, took an active interest in the religious education of youth, encouraged and participated in various charitable organizations, founded an orphanage, and himself gathered sick and starving children off the streets. He always wore clothing of the cheapest Chinese fabric and often went barefoot, sometimes having given his sandals away to some poor man. Vladika celebrated Holy Divine Liturgy and received Holy Communion daily, as he did for the rest of his life.
In Shanghai it became evident that Vladika John was not only a righteous man, but a true ascetic, a man of prayer and a wonderworker. "Once in Shanghai Vladika John was asked to the bed of a dying child, whose case had been called hopeless by the physicians. Entering the apartment, Vladika John went straight to the room in which the sick boy lay, although no one had managed yet to show him where this was. Without examining the child, Vladika immediately 'fell down' in front of the icon in the corner, which was very characteristic of him, and prayed for a long time. Then, assuring the relatives that the child would recover, he quickly left. And in fact the child became better towards morning and he soon recovered, so that a physician was no longer needed."
Vladika John loved to visit the sick and if the condition of a patient would become critical, he would go to him at any hour of the day or night to pray at his bedside. There were cases when patients would cry out to Vladika in the middle of the night from the hospital beds, and from the end of the city Vladika John would come without even being called by phone.
With the coming of the communists, the Russians in China were forced once again to flee, most through the Philippines. At one time 5,000 of the refugees were living in an International Refugee Organization camp on the island of Tubabao, located in the path of typhoons. When one Russian mentioned to the Filipinos the fear of typhoons, they replied that there was no reason to worry, because "your holy man blesses your camp from four directions every night." They referred to Vladika John, for no typhoon struck the island while he was there.
In trying to resettle his flock in Christ our Lord, Vladika John went to Washington D.C. Bishop Constantine of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist told this story about Vladika John's presence in Washington at the Cathedral: Vladika John had a meeting before the Senate, to appeal for the Russian refugees, and he had to be at that meeting at a certain hour. However, the pious Vladika John said he would go to the meeting after he celebrated the Divine Liturgy. When the Liturgy was over, he went to the Senate on behalf of the Russian refugees, and he was late! When the little of stature holy man Vladika John entered the Senate, they had already moved on to another agenda, since Vladika John did not arrive on time. Everyone in the Senate stood up out of respect, for they had noticed a holy man of God had entered the room. They then wanted to hear his appeal on behalf of the Russian refugees in the Philippines. After Vladika John gave his report before the Senate Committee, the refugees were able to come to America and live in San Francisco, California, under the supervision and direction of Vladika John. All of the Russian refugees, through the intervention of Vladika John, were miraculously able to come to America - including all the children in his orphanage, which he later reestablished in San Francisco, and which became known as St. Tikhon Orphanage.
In 1951 Vladika John was sent to Western Europe as a Bishop. Here too his reputation for holiness spread - and not only among the Orthodox. In one of the Catholic churches of Paris, a priest strove to inspire his young people with these words: 'you demand proofs; you say that now there are neither miracles nor saints. Why should I give you theoretical proofs, when today there walks in the streets of Paris a saint - St. Jean Nus Pieds (St. John the Barefoot).'
On 19 June (2 July new style), 1966, during an Archpastoral visit to Seattle, Washington with the wonder-working Kursk icon of the Mother of God, Vladika John peacefully gave his soul to the Lord. After Vladika John had served Holy Divine Liturgy, a parish member asked Vladika to serve a 'Memorial Service', which he did. After a light meal in the Church hall, he went to rest in a private room provided for him (but it's really not known if he actually rested). Suddenly someone heard a noise from his room, and Vladika John was found on the floor before the holy icon of the Mother of God of Kursk. Without any doubt Vladika John gave his sweet soul to the Lord whom he served so faithfully during his earthly life.
His unembalmed body was flown to San Francisco, California, where for six days it lay in the cathedral in an open coffin. It was said that His Eminence Metropolitan Philaret (reposed in the Lord, 21 November 1985), wanted to attend the funeral service in San Francisco, and Vladika Philaret was at the time in New York. Due to the fact that Vladika Philaret had heart problems, it was not suggested that he fly to San Francisco by plane, and so instead took a train. This of course delayed the funeral for the newly - reposed Vladika John. However, this did not matter, because when Vladika Philaret arrived at the Joy of All Who Sorrow Russian Orthodox Cathedral in San Francisco for the funeral, Vladika John had no sign of decay. It was said that Vladika John looked pure, and that a sense of spiritual beauty was felt when anyone approached his coffin during his funeral at the Church.
From the first day of the vigil it was apparent that this was to be no ordinary farewell to the newly departed in the Lord Vladika John, not even for a Hierarch. There was a sense of being present at the unfolding of a mystery: the mystery of holiness, that still exists until this day. "Those present were devoutly convinced that they had come to bury a saint."
Since the repose of Vladika John, many of the faithful called him Blessed John, and for these many years his tomb or sepulcher (Blessed Vladika John was buried under the Church of the Cathedral of the Joy of All Who Sorrow, in San Francisco, California, on Geary, Blvd.), had been a place for pilgrimage for thousands and thousands of Orthodox Christians throughout the world, before his holy Canonization on 2 July, 1994. Let us all humbly ask St. John to pray for us poor sinners. Amen.
From The DIOCESAN NEWS of the Greek Orthodox Denver Diocese in January 1994. Holy Hierarch John Maximovitch, Bishop of Shanghai and San Francisco, is known throughout the world for his holiness and the many miracles worked by God through his intercessions. The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia canonized Archbishop John on the 28th anniversary of his death, 2 July 1994. In preparation for this glorification, the tomb containing his relics was opened. When the sepulcher cover was removed, the metal coffin was found to be in a poor state of preservation due to moisture. Rust had eaten through the coffin and the cover was rusted tightly shut. Inside, the Gospel Book over the remains had virtually disintegrated, the blessing cross in the Archbishop's hand was corroded, an icon was heavily deteriorated, and the hierarchical vestments were mildewed and falling apart. The relics of Saint John, however, were found to be totally incorrupt. His skin was white and soft, and upon lifting out his body it was found to be very light due to dehydration but was totally intact. Those who came forward to venerate the relics discovered that they exuded a sweet fragrance. Exposure of a body to the amount of moisture that deteriorated metal and other objects would surely have caused rapid decomposition. There is thus no basis to argue that Archbishop John's body had undergone some sort of mummification. The incorruptibility of a saint's relics is a sign of God's special favor and grace. It is also a testimony of the eternal blessedness that awaits the elect of God. It is clear from Holy Scripture (read in the Old Testament the 2nd book of Kings chapter 2 verse 14, and chapter 13 verse 21, and in the New Testament read Acts chapter 19 verse 12) that God has manifested miracles through His saints, from ancient times even to our own age.
The Placement of the Venerable Robe of the MostHoly Mother of God at Blachernae: During the years of the reign of the Byzantine emperor Leo the Great the Macedonian (457-474), the brothers Galbius and Candidus, associates of the emperor, set out from Constantinople to Palestine to venerate at the holy places. In a small settlement near Nazareth they stopped for overnight lodging with a certain quite aged Hebrew woman. In her house the burning of candles and smoking incense caught the attention of the pilgrims. To their questions, as to what sort of sacred thing there was in her house, the pious woman for a long time did not want to give an answer, but after persistent requests she replied, that she had a very precious sacred item -- the Robe of the Mother of God, from which had occurred many miracles and healings. The MostHoly Virgin before the time of Her Dormition ("Falling-Asleep" or "Repose") bequeathed one of her garments to a pious Jewish maiden from the family-lineage of this house, having instructed her to hand it on after death to another virgin. Thus, from generation to generation, the Robe of the Mother of God was preserved in this family.
The jewelled chest, containing the sacred Robe, was transferred to Constantinople. Saint Gennadios, Patriarch of Tsar'grad-Constantinople (+ 471, Comm. 31 August), and the emperor Leo, having learned of the sacred find, convinced themselves of the incorruptness of the holy Robe and with trembling they certified its authenticity. At Blachernae, near the seacoast, there was erected a new church in honour of the Mother of God. On 2 June 458 Sainted Gennadios with appropriate solemnity transferred the sacred Robe into the Blachernae church, placing it within a new reliquary.
Afterwards into the reliquary, together with the Robe of the Mother of God, was put also Her omophorion (i.e. the outer or over-robe) and part of Her belt-sash. This circumstance also set its seal upon the Orthodox iconography of the feast, in conjoining the two events: the Placing of the Robe, and the Placing of the Belt-Sash of the Mother of God in Blachernae. The Russian pilgrim Stefan Novgorodets, visiting Tsar'grad in about the year 1350, testifies: "We arrived at Blachernae, wherein lies the Robe upon an altar-throne in an imprinted reliquary".
More than once during the invasion of enemies the MostHoly Mother of God saved the city, to which She had bestown Her holy Robe. Thus it happened during the time of a siege of Constantinople by the Avars in 626, by the Persians -- in 677, and by the Arabs -- in the year 717. Especially relevant for us are events of the year 860, intimately connected with the history of the Russian Church.
On 18 June 860 the Russian fleet of prince Askol'd, in a force comprising more than 200 boats, having laid waste the coastal regions of the Black Sea and the Bosphorus, entered into the Bay of the Golden Horn and threatened Constantinople. The Russian ships sailed into sight of the city, setting ashore troops who "proceeded before the city, stretching forth their swords". The emperor Michael III (842-867), leaving off his heading of a campaign against the Arabs, returned to the capital; all night he prayed, prostrate down upon the stone tiles of the church of the Blachernae Mother of God. Holy Patriarch Photios turned to his flock with preaching, calling for tears of repentance to wash away sins, and in fervent prayer to seek the intercession of the MostHoly Mother of God.
The danger grew with each passing hour. "The city was barely able to stand against a spear", -- says Patriarch Photios in another of his sermons. Under these conditions the decision was made to save the church holy-things, and foremost -- the holy Robe of the Mother of God, which was kept in the Blachernae church, not far from the shore of the bay. After making an all-night molieben, and taking it out from the Blachernae church, they carried the sacred Robe of the Mother of God in religious procession around the city walls, with a prayer they dipped its edge into the waters of the Bosphorus, and then they transported it to the centre of Tsar'grad -- into the church of Saint Sophia. The Mother of God by Her grace gave shelter and quelled the militance of the Russian warriors. An honourable truce was concluded. Askol'd lifted the siege of Constantinople. On 25 June the Russian army began to leave, taking with them a large tribute payment. A week afterwards, on 2 July, the wonderworking Robe of the Mother of God was solemnly returned to its place in the reliquary of the Blachernae church. In remembrance of these events an annual feastday of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God was established under 2 July by holy Patriarch Photios.
Soon, in October-November of the year 860, a Russian delegation arrived in Constantinople for concluding a treaty "in love and peace". In the conditions of the peace treaty they included articles about the Baptism of Kievan Rus', about the payment of an annual tribute by the Byzantines to the Russians, permission for them to serve with the Byzantine army, to carry on trade in the territory of the empire (primarily in Constantinople), and to send a diplomatic mission to Byzantium.
Most important was the point about the Baptism of Rus'. The continuator of the Byzantine "Theophanes Chronicles" relates, that "their delegation arrived in Tsar'grad with a request for them to be made participants in holy Baptism, which also was fulfilled". An Orthodox mission was sent to Kiev to fulfill this mutual wish of the Russians and the Greeks. Not very long before this (in 855) holy Equal to the Apostles Cyril (Kirill) the Philosopher (+ 869, Comm. 14 February and 11 May) had crafted a Slavonic alphabet and translated the Gospel. With the mission to Kiev essentially in particular there was sent Saint Cyril with his brother, the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Methodios (+ 885, Comm. 6 April and 11 May), together with books translated into Slavonic. This was at the initiative of Sainted Photios, whose student Saint Cyril was. The brothers spent the winter of 860/861 at Kherson (Chersonessus), and in the spring of 861 they were at the River Dneipr, with prince Askol'd.
There stood a difficult choice facing prince Askol'd, just as afterwards it faced holy prince Vladimir: both the Jews on the one hand and the Mahometans on the other wanted to bring him into their faith. But under the graced influence of Saint Cyril, the prince made his choice in favour of Orthodoxy. At the end of the year 861 Cyril and Methodios returned to Constantinople and carried with them from prince (or, as the Kievan princes called themselves during the IX-XI Centuries, "kagan") Askol'd to emperor Michael III. Askol'd thanked the emperor for sending him "such men, who showed by both word and by example, that the Christian faith -- is holy". "Persuaded, -- Askol'd further wrote, -- that this is the true faith, we bid them to baptise at their intent in the hope for us also to attain sanctity. We are all -- friends of the kingdom and prepared to be of service to thee, as requested".
Askol'd accepted holy Baptism with the name Nikolai, and many also of his retinue were baptised. Right directly from Tsar'grad, the capital of Orthodoxy, through the efforts of the holy Apostles to the Slavs there arrived in Rus' both the Slavonic Divine-services and the Slavonic written-language. At Kiev Saint Photios appointed the Metropolitan Michael, and the Russian metropolitan was entered into the notation-lists of dioceses of the Constantinople Patriarchate. Holy Patriarch Photios in a Circular missive of the year 867 called the Baptism of the Bulgarians and the Russians as among the chief accomplishments of his arch-hierarchical service. "The Russians, which lifted their hand against the Roman might, -- he wrote, almost quoting literally from the missive of Askol'd, -- at the present time replaced even the impious teaching, which they held to formerly, with the pure and genuine Christian faith, and with love having established themselves in the array of our friends and subjects". (The Byzantines reckoned as "subjects" all accepting Baptism from Tsar'grad and entering into military alliance with the empire.) "And to such an extent has flared up within them the desire and zeal of faith, that they have accepted bishops and pastors, and they embrace Christian sanctity with great zeal and fervour".
The feastday of the Placement of the Robe of the MostHoly Mother of God in Blachernae reveals itself also as a feastday of the canonical establishing of the Russian Orthodox metropolitanate in Kiev. By the blessing of the Mother of God and by the miracle from Her holy Robe was accomplished not only the salvation of Tsar'grad from the most terrible siege in all its history, but also the salvation of the Russians from the darkness of pagan superstition, to life eternal. Together with this, the year 860 brought recognition to Kievan Rus' from Byzantium, and it signified an equitably-justified emergence of the young Russian realm into the arena of history.
The attempt of prince Askol'd to renew the Christian evangelisation begun by the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, and intended by him as a religious and state reform, ended unsuccessfully. The time of affirmation of Christianity in the Russian Land had not yet come. The adherents of the old paganism were too strong, and the princely power was too weak. In the clash of Askol'd with the pagan Oleg in 882 the Kievans betrayed their prince -- Askol'd accepted a martyr's death at the hand of hired killers, tricked by deceit into the camp of his enemies for talks.
But the deed of Blessed Askol'd (the Ioakimov Chronicle calls him such) was not extinguished in the Russian Church. Oleg the Sage, having killed Askol'd, after him occupied the Kiev princedom, and called Kiev the "Mother of Russian Cities" -- this is a literal translation of the Greek expression "Russian metropolia" (i.e. "mater-polis"). The most ancient chronicles of Kiev preserved the grateful memory of the first Kievan Christian-prince: the church of the Prophet of God Elias, built by Askol'd and afterwards mentioned in the Treaty of Igor with the Greeks (in year 944), is on the place where at present stands the church of this name, and there is also the church of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, erected in the decade of the 950's over the grave of Askol'd by holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Ol'ga. The most important achievement of Askol'd, entering forever into the Church-inheritance not only of Rus', but of also all Orthodox Slavdom -- is the Slavonic Gospel and Slavonic Divine-services, rendered such by the work of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Cyril and Methodios. In Kiev at the court of Askol'd in 861 was set the beginning of their apostolic activity among the Slavs, and continued afterwards in Moravia and Bulgaria. Following Blessed Askol'd, speaking the words of the ancient "Alphabetic Prayers", "there soars in flight now the Slavonic tribe -- to Baptism all striving".
With the miracle of the Robe of the MostHoly Mother of God at Blachernae are connected several outstanding works of Byzantine Church hymnology and homiletics. To Saint Photios belong two sermons, one of which was given by him immediately within days of the siege of Constantinople, and the other -- soon after the departure of the Russian forces. And with the campaign of Askol'd against Tsar'grad is connected also the composition of a remarkable "Akathist to the MostHoly Mother of God", the source of which certain Church histories ascribe also to holy Patriarch Photios. This Akathist comprises a basic part of the Divine-services of the day of Praise to the MostHoly Mother of God (i.e. the "Saturday of the Akathist" -- Saturday in the 4th Week of Great Lent).
It is not only Byzantine sources that relate the events of the year 860, but also Russian historical chronicles. The Monk Nestor the Chronicler, stressing the significance of the Russian campaign against Tsar'grad, notes that from this time "it was begun to be called the Russian Land". Certain of the chronicles, among them the Ioakimov and Nikonov, preserved accounts of the Baptism of Prince Askol'd and Kievan Rus' after the campaign against Tsar'grad. The popular commemoration concerning this is firmly associated with the names of the Kievan princes Askol'd and Dir, although in the opinion of historians, Dir was prince of Kiev somewhat earlier than Askol'd.
The veneration of the feast of the Robe-placing was known of old in the Russian Church. Saint Andrei Bogoliubsky (+ 1174, Comm. 4 July) erected in the city of Vladimir at the Golden Gates a church in honour of this feastday. At the end of the XIV Century part of the Robe of the Mother of God was transferred from Constantinople to Rus' by Sainted Dionysii, Archbishop of Suzdal' (+ 1385, Comm. 26 June).
The holy Robe of the Mother of God, earlier having saved the capital of Byzantium, later also saved the capital Moscow from hostilities. Tatars of the Horde of the princeling Mazovshi in the Summer of 1451 approached beneathe the walls of Moscow. Saint Jona, Metropolitan of Moscow, by means of constant prayer and church services encouraged the defenders of the capital. On the night of 2 July, relates the chronicle, great confusion occurred within the Tatar camp. the enemy abandoned their plundered goods and in disarray speedily departed. In memory of the miraculous deliverance of Moscow, the metropolitan Saint Jona erected in the Kremlin the church in honour of the Robe-placing, making it his primary church. It burned, but in its place thirty years afterwards was built in the years 1484-1486 a new church, likewise dedicated to the feast of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God. This temple, standing at present, continued to serve as the primary church of Russian metropolitans and patriarchs until the cathedral of the Twelve Apostles was built under patriarch Nikon.
Saint Stephen succeeded his father, Prince Bogdan II, as Prince of Moldavia on April 12, 1457 soon after the latter was murdered. He defended his country against the Turks, and he also built many churches and monasteries.
St Stephen the Great was a spiritual son of St Daniel the Hesychast (December 18), who told him that if he built a church after every battle he would be victorious in all his wars. Following St Daniel's counsel, St Stephen won forty-seven battles and built forty-eight churches or monasteries. He also built the Putna Dormition Monastery in northern Moldavia in 1466 when St Daniel urged him to do so.
In 1476, St Stephen lost the battle of Razboieni to the Turks. He went to visit St Daniel at the Voronets Monastery to ask whether or not he should surrender the country to the Moslems. St Daniel told him not to surrender, because he would soon win a decisive victory. St Daniel also told him that after he had saved the nation, Stephen should build a monastery in honor of St George at that place. Having faith in St Daniel's prophecy, Stephen went forth with his army and drove the Turks from the country.
St Stephen fell asleep in the Lord on July 2, 1504, and was buried at the Putna Monastery. He was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Romania in 1992.
Sainted Photii, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia, was by birth a Greek from the Peloponnesian city of Monembaseia (Malbasia). While still in his adolescent years he entered a monastery and took tonsure under the monastic-elder Akakios, a great ascetic (afterwards becoming the metropolitan of Monembaseia). In 1408, when Photii was in Constantinople with the Patriarch on matters entrusted by the metropolitan, the question arose about a replacement for the Russian cathedra-chair after the death of Saint Kiprian (+ 1406, Comm. 16 September). The choice of Patriarch Matthew (1397-1410) fell upon Photii, known for his learning and holiness of life. On 1 September 1408 Saint Photii was made metropolitan and in the next year arrived in Rus'.
He spent half an year at Kiev (September 1409-February 1410), concerning himself over the settling of affairs in the southern dioceses of the Russian Church, included then within the principality of Lithuania, or more precisely as they then called it, of Lithuania and Russia. The saint perceived that the throne of the metropolitan -- the spiritual centre of churchly life in Rus' -- could not remain in the Kiev lands, where everything increasingly fell under the dependence of Catholic Poland. Following the example of former Russian metropolitans, who transferred their place of dwelling first to Vladimir, then to Moscow, in 1410 on the day of Holy Pascha, Metropolitan Photii arrived in Moscow.
For 22 years the saint asceticised in the difficult service of arch-hierarch of the Russian Church. In grievous conditions of war, fratricidal strife, and pillaging incursions of Tatars he knew how to highly advance the spiritual significance, the material prosperity and well-being of the churches under the Moscow cathedra. Favourable conditions in the Church allowed for Saint Photii to render great assistance to the increasingly impoverished Constantinople Patriarch, and to strengthen the international position of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian realm. The enemies of Orthodoxy more than once tried to subvert the churchly-patriotic service of Saint Photii. In the Spring of 1410, when Saint Photii arrived in Vladimir from Moscow, khan Edigei, having laid waste this portion of the Russian Land for two years, undertook a new campaign with the intent of taking captive the metropolitan himself. A Tatar detachment, headed by the princeling Talychoi "the Exile", suddenly and quickly took Vladimir. But God preserved His righteous saint: the evening before, not suspecting danger, the saint had gone off to the Svyatoozersk monastery beyond the city. When the Tatars attempted pursuit, he concealed himself in a small settlement, surrounded by impassable swamps, at the River Sen'ga. Unable to capture the metropolitan, the rapacious Tatars gave themselves over to a plundering of Vladimir, and especially the Uspensk cathedral church. The doorsman of the cathedral, Patrikei, endured terrible torments and accepted a martyr's death from the plundering Tatars, but he did not reveal the place, where the church sacred items and treasury were hidden.
Through the efforts of holy Metropolitan Photii was restored the canonical unity of prayer of the Russian Church: the separate Lithuanian metropolitanate, established on the initiative of prince Vitovt for the southern and western eparchies (dioceses), was abolished in the year 1420. The saint this same year visited the returned eparchies and greeted the flock with a Circular Missive of teaching. The wise and highly-erudite pastor left behind many an instruction and missive. Great theological significance was had in his denunciation against the heresy of the Strigol'niki, which had arisen at Pskov prior to his time. By his wise efforts the heresy was put to an end (in 1427).
Important Church-historical sources compiled by Saint Photii are his "Order of Selection and Installation of Bishops" (1423), "Discourse on the Seriousness of the Priestly Dignity and the Obligations of Church-servers", and also the "Spiritual Testament", in which he relates about his life. A great work of the saint was likewise the compiling under his guidance of the Obscherussk (All-Russian) Chronicle collation (in about the year 1423).
On 20 April 1430 the holy arch-pastor was informed by an Angel about his impending end and he reposed peacefully in the time allotted him by the Lord, on the feastday of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God, on 2 July 1431. His relics were uncovered in the year 1471. In the Armoury Palace of the Moscow Kremlin are preserved two dalmatic-robes ("sakkos") of holy Metropolitan Photii.
Sainted Juvenal (Iuvenalios), Patriarch of Jerusalem, occupied the throne of the Holy City during the years 420-458. During this period great luminaries of the Church enlightened the world: the Monks Euthymios the Great (+ 473, account about him is under 20 January), Simeon the Pillar-Dweller (+ 459, account -- 1 September), Gerasimos of Jordan (+ 475, account -- 4 March), and many others.
Saint Juvenal was a friend and conversant with the Monk Eythymios the Great. During the time of the arch-hierarchical service of holy Patriarch Juvenal, the Eastern Church was troubled by dangerous false-teachings, which he stood up against with a pastoral zeal, safekeeping the flock of Christ. In the year 431, the Third OEcumenical Council was convened in the city of Ephesus: it condemned the heresy of Nestorius, which had arisen against the Orthodox confession of the Divine nature of Jesus Christ. At this Council presided Saint Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria (+ 444, Comm. 9 June), and in the number of his like-minded colleagues was Patriarch Juvenal. In the year 451, the Fourth OEcumenical Council was convened in the city of Chalcedon: it condemned a new heresy -- the Eutykhian (Monophysite), which taught, that the human nature in Christ was totally swallowed up and absorbed by the Divine nature. The holy fathers, among whom also was Sainted Juvenal, condemned the heresy of Eutykhios and affirmed the Orthodox confession about the conjoining in the Lord Jesus Christ of both natures -- the Divine and the human -- without separation and without mixture. The heretics however continued to confuse the minds of Christians. At the head of the heretics stood Theodosios, who had won over to his side the widow of the emperor Theodosius the Younger (+ 450), named Eudocia, living at Jerusalem. He demanded that Patriarch Juvenal repudiate the position of the Chalcedon Council, that is, that he should renounce the Orthodox dogma about the two natures in Christ. His Holiness Juvenal would not consent to a betrayal of Truth, and indeed bravely confessed the Chalcedon dogma afront the heretics. Theodosios and his adherents deposed Patriarch Juvenal from the patriarchal throne. The saint withdrew to an outpost of Orthodoxy -- Constantinople, to Patriarch Anatolios (449-458, Comm. 3 July) and the emperor Marcian. The heretic Theodosios, under the patronage of Eudocia, occupied the patriarchal throne in Palestine, but only for 20 months. Emperor Marcian, holding Saint Juvenal in high esteem, brought about his restoration to the patriarchal throne, and so the Patriarch-confessor returned to Jerusalem.
The saint made many an effort for the restoration of Church peace. At the suggestion of the Monk Simeon the Pillar-Dweller, the empress Eudocia made repentance before Saint Juvenal and returned into communion with the Orthodox. After her followed in large part the Jerusalem flock led astray by the heretics. Having set aright the contentious heresies, and having established churchly oneness of mind and propriety, Patriarch Juvenal died peacefully amidst the faithful flock, having toiled in the hierarchical dignity for 38 years.
The Holy Martyr Jacinthus (Hyacinth), a native of Caesarea Cappadocia, grew up in a Christian family. The Roman emperor Trajan made him his "cubicularius" (bed-chamberlain).
Once during the time of a pagan festival the emperor Trajan was feasting in a pagan-temple together with his companions, eating of the idol-offered food, but the youth Jacinthus, having remained at the palace, shut himself up in a small room and prayed fervently to the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the servants overheard the words of prayer. He made a denunciation to the emperor, that Jacinthus, entrusted with an imperial position, did not honour the Roman gods but was secretly praying to Christ.
They immediately arrested Saint Jacinthus and led him to Trajan. The emperor demanded that he eat of the idol-offered meat, but the saint bravely refused and declared himself a Christian. By order of Trajan, they locked up the holy martyr in prison after fierce tortures, and they exhausted him with hunger and thirst, so as to force him to eat of idolatrous food. On the 38th day, one of the guards, bringing the idol-offering meat, saw Angels alongside the martyr, dressing him in bright attire and placing on his head a crown.
The torturers decided to continue with the trial over the saint, but they found him in prison already dead. The twelve year old Jacinthus died in the year 108 in the city of Rome. They afterwards transferred the relics of the saint to Caesarea.
Sainted Vasilii, Bishop of Ryazan and Murom: His memory is celebrated by the Church on 10 June and 3 July (the day of his death in 1295). On 10 June 1609 the holy relics of Bishop Vasilii at Ryazan were uncovered and transferred to the Uspenie-Dormition cathedral church.
Sainted Vasilii I, Wonderworker of Ryazan, is mentioned in the Lavrentian Chronicles, and in the ancient list of Ryazan hierarchs, he is mentioned as the fourth. (The later Vasilii II, + 1360, was ordained to the dignity of bishop in 1356 by Sainted Alexei, Metropolitan of Moscow, + 1378). An older tradition connects with Saint Vasilii the transfer to Ryazan of the wonderworking image of the Murom Icon of the Mother of God (account under 12 April). Saint Vasilii was at first bishop of Murom. But by the slander of the spirit of evil the citizens rose up against him, unjustly accusing him of transgressions unbecoming an archpastor. Then the saint, after prolonged prayer, left for the River Oka, and spreading out on the water his bishop's mantle he stood upon it, holding in his hands the image of the MostHoly Mother of God of Murom. A strong wind carried him against the current and after several hours he reached Ryazan, where he was received with reverence by the Ryazan prince and people.
Still during his lifetime Saint Vasilii was regarded a righteous and pious man. Long before his relics were uncovered at the beginning of the XVII Century, the Ryazan people cherished his memory and called him "their constant intercessor, helper in sorrows and travail". To him most often they turned in setting out on journeys: on dry land -- against problems, on the water -- against drowning.
In about the year 1540 the monk Erazm Ermolaev wrote -- "An Account about Vasilii, Bishop of Ryazan and Murom".
Blessed John, Fool-for-Christ, Moscow Wonderworker, was born in the Vologda outskirts. In his youth he toiled at a saltworks, where he was a "water-carrier". With his heavy work the saint combined strict fasting and prayer. Later he moved on to Rostov, where he began his exploit of holy fool. He wore chains with heavy iron crosses and on his head was an heavy iron cap, for which they called him "Ioann -- Big-Cap". In Moscow he went barefoot and almost naked in even the most severe frost, and he foretold the great misfortunes for Russia, the Time of Troubles and the incursion of the Polish, saying, that "in Moscow will be many seen and unseen devils".
He fearlessly spoke the truth to everyone, regardless of the position they might occupy. Even to the tsar himself, Boris Godunov, he often said the words: "A clever mind, thou inquirest God's doing. God long waiteth, painfully indeed it breaketh". Before death Saint John indicated for himself a grave at the Pokrov church on Rva, afterwards called the cathedral of Basil/Vasilii the Great. Having readied himself for the grave, he removed the chains and thrice showered himself with water. Before his death (+ 1589) the blessed one displayed the gift of healing. He was venerated at Moscow as a great wonderworker and seer. On 12 June 1672 his relics were uncovered, resting beneathe a crypt in one of the chapels of the cathedral of Basil the Great. The service and vita-life were preserved in manuscripts of the XVII Century.
The Monk Nikodim of Kozheezersk, in the world Nikita, was born in the village of Ivan'kovo near Rostov into a peasant family. While still in his youth, working with his father in the fields, he heard the words: "Nikodim! Nikodim!" announcing his future monasticism.
After the death of his parents he learned the blacksmith craft in Yaroslavl' and then arrived in Moscow. One time, going past Kulishka, Nikita stopped at the hut of the holy fool Ilia, who upon seeing him cried out: "the Khuz'yugsk ascetic hath arrived". These words made a strong impression upon Nikita, and he perceived them as a summoning to the monastic life. Having given away everything he owned, he went to the archimandrite of the Chudov monastery, Paphnutii, asking to be accepted into the number of the brethren.
In this monastery he accepted tonsure with the name Nikodim. For eleven years the monk was an example to the brethren in humility, obedience, non-covetousness and brotherly love. In 1602 the hegumen of the monastery, Paphnutii, was made metropolitan of Sarsk, and he took Nikodim with him. But the saint was seeking for a solitary and ascetic life. A year afterwards, with the blessing of the Vladyka, he set out to the north and at first entered the common-life Kozheezersk monastery, in which he spent a year and an half.
His desire for quietude led him to the Rivulet Khuz'yuga, 5 versts distant from the Kozheezersk monastery. There in a forest thicket he set up for himself a small cell and dwelt in it without emerging for 35 years, in imitation of Paul the Thebian. In total quiet, far off from the world, the saint made his strict rule of prayer for the world. He shared with the brethren of the monastery the fruits of his labour, so also the fish, which he loved to catch on fishing-tackle. Wild deer walked without worry and fed around his hermitage. The Monk Nikodim passed the night at prayer and only occasionally permitted himself to doze off now and then whilst sitting up. By his austere efforts he attained to high spiritual abilities, -- he acquired the gift of tears and of uninterrupted prayer. God rewarded him with a graced perspicacity and the power of healing the sick.
One time two radiant men appeared to Saint Nikodim: Sainted Alexei, Metropolitan of Moscow, and the Monk Dionysii, Archimandrite of the Holy Trinity Sergiev Lavra, -- in angelic garb. They announced to the monk about the time of his going to the Lord, which occurred in 40 days, on 3 July 1640. The relics of the Monk Nikodim rest beneathe a crypt in the Bogoyavlenie-Theophany church of the Kozheezersk monastery. The life of the saint was recorded by his student, the priestmonk Iakov.
The Holy Martyrs Mokios and Mark were arrested as Christians and brought to trial by the governor Maximian. They refused to offer sacrifice to idols, for which they suffered death by beheading by the sword (IV Century).
The Monk Alexander, First-Head of the "Unceasing Vigilance" Monastery, was born in Asia and received his education at Constantinople. He spent some time in military service but, sensing a call to other service, he left the world and accepted monastic tonsure in one of the Syrian wilderness monasteries near Antioch, under the guidance of hegumen Elias. He spent four years in strict obedience and monastic effort, after which he received from the hegumen blessing to dwell in the wilderness. Going into the wilderness, the monk took with him nothing from the monastery, except the Gospel. The monk then asceticised in the wilderness for seven years. Afterwards, the Lord summoned him to preach to pagans. The saint converted to Christ the local city-ruler named Rabul, who afterwards was granted the dignity of bishop and for 30 years occupying the bishop's cathedra-chair at the city of Edessa. Together with Rabul all the local inhabitants accepted Baptism, and before receiving the sacrament they burned their idols in the city-square. Having confirmed the newly-converted in the faith, the Monk Alexander again went into the wilderness, where by chance he came upon a cave of robbers. Fearless of the death that might threaten him, he preached the Gospel to them and urged them to repent. And actually, all the robbers sincerely did repent, the accepted holy Baptism, and their cave they transformed into a monastery, where they dwelt in prayer and penitence. The Monk Alexander appointed an hegumen for them, gave them a monastic rule, and he himself resettled still farther in the wilderness. For several years he lived in complete solitude. But even there lovers of solitude began to throng to the monk. A monastery emerged, numbering 400 monks. Desiring at this monastery to establish uninterrupted praise to the Lord, the monk prayed for three years, that the Creator would reveal to him His will, and having then received the revelation, he initiated at the monastery the following order: all the monks were divided into 24 watches of prayer. Changing shifts each hour, day and night they sang in two choirs the Psalms of David, interrupting this only for the times of making Divine-services. The monastery received the name "Unceasing Vigilance", since ascetics throughout the cycle of both day and night sang praise to God.
The Monk Alexander guided the monastery on the Euphrates for twelve years. Afterwards, having left as its hegumen one of his disciples, the experienced elder Trophymos, he set out with some chosen brethren through the cities bordering on Persia, preaching the Gospel among the pagans. After this missionary journeying, the Monk Alexander lived with his monks for a certain while at Antioch. There he built for the city-dwellers a church, and an home for the sick and homeless, from the means which charitable Antiochians abundantly put at his disposal. However, through the intrigues of the jealous, the Monk Alexander was compelled to move away to Constantinople. Here he founded a new monastery, in which likewise he initiated a monastic rule of "unceasing vigilance". The Monk Alexander and his monks suffered at Constantinople under the Nestorian heretics, enduring beatings and imprisonment. After this, when the storm of heretic unrest abated, the Monk Alexander spent the last days of his life at the Constantinople monastery founded by him. He died in extreme old age in about the year 430, after 50 years of incessant monastic effort. His commemoration is also 23 February, which see.
Sainted Anatolios, Patriarch of Constantinople, was born at Alexandria in the 2nd half of the IV Century -- during a time, when many representatives of illustrious Byzantine families awakened ardently in the faith and in the armament of Greek philosophic wisdom they strove to serve the Church of Christ. Having received a philosophic education, Saint Anatolios accepted the priestly dignity as deacon under Sainted Cyril of Alexandria (account is under 18 January). Together with Saint Cyril, Anatolios was present at the Third OEcumenical Council at Ephesus in the year 431 (Comm. 9 September), at which the holy fathers condemned the false-teaching of Nestorius.
Saint Anatolios remained a deacon at Alexandria and after the death of Saint Cyril (+ 444), when the cathedra-seat of the archbishop of Constantinople was occupied by Dioskoros, who supported another heresy being spread by Eutykhios, affirming that the Divine nature in Christ had fully swallowed up and absorbed His human nature, leaving nothing of it behind. This false teaching undermined the very basis of the Church's teaching about the salvation and redemption of humankind [trans. note: since "what is not assumed upon is not saved", if Christ be by nature Divine only and not human by nature, then Christ-God will have died and risen in vain for the salvation of humankind in its human nature, and even the Incarnation of Christ would be rendered heretically docetic]. In the year 449 Dioskoros with his adherents convened at Ephesus an heretical "Robbers Council", having received also the support of the emperor. The advocate of Orthodoxy, Saint Flavian, the Patriarch of Constantinople, was deposed and deprived of dignity.
Chosen then to the Constantinople cathedra-seat, Saint Anatolios zealously set about the restoration of the purity of Orthodoxy. Saint Anatolios already in the year 450 at the Local Council in Constantinople ventured a condemnation of the heresy of Eutykhios and Dioskoros. Having died in exile, the Patriarch-confessor Flavian was enumerated into the ranks of the Saints and his relics transferred to the capital.
In the following year, 451, with the active participation of Patriarch Anatolios, the Fourth OEcumenical Council was convened at Chalcedon. The fathers of the Chalcedon Council affirmed the dogma about the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, "perfect in Divinity and perfect in humanity, true God and true man, made known in two natures -- without mingling, without change, indivisibly, inseparably" (Greek: "asugkhutos, atreptos, adiairetos, akhoristos"; Slavonic: "neslitno, neizmenno, nerazdel'no, nerazluchno").
But heresies still long vexed the ecclesial world. In incessant struggle with false-teachings and ardent for truth, Patriarch Anatolios died in the year 458.
From the canon-rule actions taken, there was elaborated for the sainted-hierarch the 28th Canon of the Fourth OEcumenical Council about the equal-honour of the Constantinople patriarchal throne to that of the throne of Old Rome, and likewise a statement of this Canon to Saint Leo, Pope of Rome (440-461). Within the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople, in accord with the 28th Canon, was put the Churches of Asia Minor, Greece and the Black Sea region, and likewise all new Churches, that might arise among the nations of these regions. And by this also the Russian Church was deliberately included into the ecclesial enumeration of the Orthodox Churches.
Saint Anatolios likewise made a large contribution to the literary treasury of the Orthodox Church. By his prayerful inspiration and theological profundity there are in Divine-services stikhi-verses for Sundays, for certain feastdays of the Lord (the Nativity and the Theophany of Christ), and martyr-days (to Saint Panteleimon the Healer, to Saint George the Victory-Bearer, to Saint Demetrios of Thessalonika). In the Divine-service books they are designated simply as "Anatoliev" verses.
Sainted Vasilii, Archbishop of Novgorod, by surname Kalika (meaning "destitute wanderer or psalmodist"), was a priest at Novgorod and for his virtuous life was chosen to the Novgorod cathedra-seat. Saint Vasilii was ordained archbishop of Novgorod by the holy Metropolitan Theognist (+ 1353, Comm. 14 March) in Vladimir Volynsk in 1331. He headed the Novgorod cathedra during a terrible time of princely quarrels and inner factions within the city itself. Repeatedly he met with the Moscow Great-prince Ivan Kalita, inclining him towards peace with Novgorod. In 1344, when at Novgorod there gathered simultaneously two council-committees, hostile to each other, for throwing out the posadnik-mayor, the saint made peace between both sides. After two ruinous conflagrations occurred at Novgorod, Saint Vasilii displayed archpastoral concern for the devastated city: from cathedral funds he helped restore burnt-out buildings, he constructed a new bridge across the Vol'khov, and put monks at the churches. At the Borisoglebsk temple in Novgorod was preserved an icon of the holy nobleborn Princes Boris and Gleb, written by him. The self-sacrificing activity of Saint Vasilii was commented upon by a contemporary -- the chronicler, thus: "Grant him, O Lord, to live many years upon this world and afterwards put him at Thine right side, -- so much hath he toiled for Thy Church".
The love of the saint for the flock is quite clearly shown, when at the request of the Pskov people he fearlessly went to their city during an epidemic of pestilential plague. Saint Vasilii made Divine-services in three churches, then went about the city in church procession, encouraging and comforting the fallen spirits of the inhabitants, but on the return journey to Novgorod he himself sickened and died on 3 July 1352, having like a good pastor given his soul for the sheep (Jn. 10: 11).
From his preserved works there is known his "Missive about Earthly Paradise", written in 1347 and directed to the Tver bishop Theodore the Good. With the name of holy Archbishop Vasilii is connected the account about the white klobuk (head-piece), presented to the Vladyka as a gift from the Patriarch of Constantinople. By tradition, this klobuk was entrusted by the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine (+ 337, Comm. 21 May) to Saint Sylvester, Pope of Rome (+ 335, account about him is under 2 January). The white klobuk of Saint Vasilii was for the Russian Church a symbol of pre-eminent transfer of the spiritual centre of Orthodoxy from Old Rome, -- through New Rome, Tsar'grad (Constantinople), -- to the Third Rome, Moscow.
The Repose of Nobleborn Princes Vasilii and Konstantin Vsevolodovich of Yaroslavsk: In their youth they lost their father, Vsevolod, who fell in battle with the Tatars (Mongols). Saint Vasilii, the elder brother, succeeded to the throne. A multitude of concerns, tasks and sorrows beset him as prince. The city and the villages were devastated from the invasion of the Tatars, many households remained without shelter and food, and he had to concern himself about everything and about everyone. Besides this, it was necessary to gain the good-will of the Tatar khan, and the holy prince more than once made journey for this reason to the Horde. He suffered also a family misfortune -- the loss of his only son. All his tribulations the holy prince suffered without complaint, and he ruled the princedom, like a true Christian: he did not enter into disputes with other princes, he concerned himself over the misfortunate among his subjects, and he built churches. But soon his life, filled with many sorrows, exhausted the strength of the prince, and he took sick and died in the year 1249. After him holy Prince Konstantin succeeded to the throne. He strove to imitate his brother, but to his great dismay, everywhere he saw pillage and murdering done by the Tatars. In 1257 the Tatars fell upon Yaroslavl' itself. The prince came out to fight the enemy, but here in this battle he gave up his life for his country. In the year 1501 the relics of the holy princes were uncovered undecayed and now rest in the Yaroslavsk cathedral.
Sainted Andrew, Archbishop of Crete, was born in the city of Damascus into a pious Christian family. Up until seven years of age the boy was mute and did not talk. However, after communing the Holy Mysteries of Christ he found the gift of speech and began to speak. And from that time the lad began earnestly to study Holy Scripture and the discipline of theology.
At fourteen years of age he went off to Jerusalem and there he accepted monastic tonsure at the monastery of Saint Sava the Sanctified. Saint Andrew led a strict and chaste life, he was meek and abstinent, such that all were amazed at his virtue and reasoning of mind. As a man of talent and known for his virtuous life, over the passage of time he came to be numbered amongst the Jerusalem clergy and was appointed a secretary for the Patriarchate -- a writing clerk. In the year 680 the locum tenens of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, Theodore, included archdeacon Andrew amongst the representatives of the Holy City sent to the Sixth OEcumenical Council, and here the saint contended against heretical teachings, relying upon his profound knowledge of Orthodox doctrine. Shortly after the Council he was summoned back to Constantinople from Jerusalem and he was appointed archdeacon at the church of Saint Sophia, the Wisdom of God. During the reign of the emperor Justinian II (685-695) Saint Andrew was ordained bishop of the city of Gortineia on the island of Crete. In his new position he shone forth as a true luminary of the Church, a great hierarch -- a theologian, teacher and hymnographer.
Saint Andrew wrote many a Divine-service song. He was the originator of a new liturgical form -- the canon. Of the canons composed by him the best known is the Great Penitential Canon, including within its 9 odes the 250 troparia recited during the Great Lent. In the First Week of Lent at the service of Compline it is read in portions (thus called "methymony" [trans. note: from the useage in the service of Compline of the "God is with us", in Slavonic the "S'nami Bog", or in Greek "Meth' Humon ho Theos", from which derives "methymony"], and again on Thursday of the Fifth Week at the All-night Vigil during Matins.
Saint Andrew of Crete gained reknown with his many praises of the All-Pure Virgin Mary. To him are likewise ascribed: the Canon for the feast of the Nativity of Christ, three odes for the Compline-service of Palm Sunday and also in the first four days of Holy Passion Week, as well as verses for the feast of the Meeting of the Lord, and many another church-song. His hynographic tradition was continued by the churchly great melodists of following ages: Saints John of Damascus, Cosma of Maium, Joseph the Melodist, Theophan the Written-upon. There have also been preserved edifying Sermons of Saint Andrew for certain of the Church feasts.
Church historians are not of the same opinion as to the date of death of the saint. One suggests the year 712, while others -- the year 726. He died on the island of Mytilene, while returning to Crete from Constantinople, where he had been on churchly business. His relics were transferred to Constantinople. In the year 1350 the pious Russian pilgrim Stefan Novgorodets saw the relics at the Constantinople monastery named for Saint Andrew of Crete.
The Nun Martha, mother of Saint Simeon of the Wondrous-Mount (Divnogorets; -- his account is located under 24 May), lived during the VI Century and was a native of Antioch. From her early years she yearned for monasticism, but her parents persuaded her to marry. Her husband, John, soon died, and righteous Martha with all her strength devoted herself to the raising of her son. She was for her son an example of high Christian temperament: often she visited the temple of God, attentively and with piety she hearkened to the church services, and frequently she communed the Holy Mysteries of Christ. Righteous Martha each night rose up to pray, and her prayers she made with heartfelt warmth and tears. She particularly venerated the Baptist of the Lord Saint John the Precursor, who was for her a protector frequently appearing to her in visions. The Nun Martha was charitable towards the poor, she fed and clothed them, she visited the convalescent and she attended to the sick, she buried the dead, and for those preparing to receive holy Baptism she with her own hands reading the clothing.
The Nun Martha was reserved, and no one heard from her a frivolous, false or vain word, no one saw her angry, nor fighting with anyone nor bitter. She was a model of chaste and pious life and by her example she guided many on the pathway to salvation. When her son, Saint Simeon, had become a reknown ascetic, she in visiting him urged him not to exalt himself by his efforts, but in everything to add in an act of thankfulness to God.
It was made known beforehand to the Nun Martha about her approaching end: she beheld Angels with candles saying, that they would come for her in another year's time. The saint was likewise granted visions of the abode of paradise, and the All-Pure Virgin Herself showed to her the Heavenly habitation, prepared for the righteous.
The end of Saint Martha was peaceful (+ 551), and her body was buried on the Wondrous-Mount, at the place of the ascetic deeds of her son, the Monk Simeon the Pillar-Dweller.
Holy Nobleborn Prince Andrew (Andrei) Bogoliubsky (1110-1174), a grandson of Vladimir Monomakh, was the son of Yurii Dolgoruky and a Polovetsian princess (in holy Baptism Maria). While still in his youth he was called "Bogoliubsky" ("God-loving") for the constantly inherent to him profound attention to prayer, his diligence for church services and "his adoption of secret prayers to God". From his grandfather, Vladimir Monomakh, the grandson inherited great spiritual concentration, love for the Word of God and the habit of turning to the Scripture in all the circumstances of life.
A brave warrior (Andrew -- means "brave"), a participant of the many campaigns of his military father, more than once in the fray of battle he was close to death. But each time Divine Providence invisibly saved the princely man of prayer. Thus for example, on 8 February 1150, in a battle near Lutsk Saint Andrew was saved from the spear of an enemy German by a prayer to the GreatMartyr Theodore Stratilates, whose memory was celebrated that day.
The chronicles stress together with this the peace-making activity of Saint Andrew, rare amongst the princes and military commanders of these harsh times. The combination of military valour with love for peace and mercy, of great humility with indomitable zeal for the Church were in the highest degree innate to Prince Andrew. A responsible master of the land, and a constant co-worker in the city construction and church building activity of Yurii Dolgoruky, he built with his father: Moscow (1147), Iur'ev-Pol'sk (1152), Dmitrov (1154), and he adorned with churches the cities of Rostov, Suzdal', and Vladimir. In 1162 Saint Andrew could say with satisfaction: "I have built up white Rus' with cities and settlements, and have rendered it with much populace".
When Yurii Dolgoruky became greatprince of Kiev in 1154, he gave his son as appanage portion Vyshgorod nearby Kiev. But God destined otherwise. One time by night in the Summer of 1155, the wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God in the Vyshgorod church was removed. This icon was written by the holy Evangelist Luke, and in some period before this had come transferred hither from Tsar'grad (Constantinople), and afterwards it was given the name -- the Vladimir Mother of God. On this night with the icon in hand, holy Prince Andrew left Vyshgorod going northwards to the Suzdal' land, secretly and without the blessing of his father, heedful only to the will of God.
The miracle from this holy icon, occurring on the way from Vyshgorod to Vladimir was recorded by a clergyman of Prince Andrew, "the priest Mikula" (Nikolai), in his "Reports of Miracles of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God".
Ten versts before reaching Vladimir, the horse, bearing the icon bound for Rostov, suddenly stopped. And during the night the Mother of God appeared to Saint Andrew with scroll in hand and commanded: "I want not that thou shouldst bear My image to Rostov, but rather establish it in Vladimir, and upon this place erect thou a stone church in the name of My Nativity". In memory of this miraculous event, Saint Andrew commissioned an iconographer to write an icon of the Mother of God suchlike as the All-Pure Virgin had appeared to him, and he established feastday for this icon as 18 June. The icon, named the Bogoliubsk, was afterwards glorified by numerous miracles.
Upon the place decreed by the Queen of Heaven, Prince Andrew built (in 1159) the church of the Nativity of the Mother of God. He situated here also the city of Bogoliubov, which became his constant dwelling and the place of his martyr's end.
When his father Yurii Dolgoruky died (+ 15 May 1157), Saint Andrew did not take up his father's throne at Kiev, but rather remained prince at Vladimir. During the years 1158-1160 was built the Uspenie (Dormition) cathedral at Vladimir, and into it was placed the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. In the year 1164 there were erected the Golden Gates, with the over-gate church of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God, and also the church of the Saviour at the princely court.
Thirty churches were built by Prince Andrew during the years of his rule. The finest of them -- is the Uspenie cathedral. The richness and splendour of the church served in spreading Orthodoxy amongst the surrounding peoples and foreign merchants. All the travellers, whether Latins or pagans, -- Saint Andrew had directed, -- were to be led into the churches built by him and to have pointed out to them "true Christianity". The chronicler writes: "Both Bulgars, and Jews, and every sort of common person, beholding the glory of God and churchly adornment, came to be baptised".
The conquest of the great Volga journey-way became for Saint Andrew a fundamental task of his civil service to Russia. The Volga Bulgars from the time of the campaigns of Svyatoslav (+ 972) presented a serious danger for the Russian state. Saint Andrew continued with the initiative of Svyatoslav.
A shattering blow was struck against the enemy in 1164, when Russian forces burnt and destroyed several Bulgar fortresses. Saint Andrew took with him on this campaign the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God and a two-sided icon, on which was imaged upon the one side the "Saviour Not-Wrought-by-Hand", and the "Veneration to the Cross" on the opposite side. (At the present time both icons are in the Tret'yakov State Gallery).
A great miracle from the holy icons occurred for the Russian army on the day of the decisive victory over the Bulgars, 1 August 1164. After the destruction of the Bulgar army, the princes (Andrew, his brother Yaroslav, his son Izyaslav and others) returned towards the "footmen" (infantry) standing by the princely standards with the Vladimir Icon, and they made prostration to the Icon, "bestowing it praise and song". And then all beheld the blinding rays of light, issuing from the face of the Mother of God and the Saviour Not-Wrought-by-Hand.
Remaining in everything a faithful son of the Orthodox Church, vigilant in belief and canons, Saint Andrew turned to the Patriarch of Tsar'grad with a filial request to establish a separate metropolitan for north-eastern Rus'. And with the prince's letter of accord there journeyed to Byzantium the candidate chosen by the prince, -- the Suzdal' archimandrite Theodore (Feodor). Patriarch Luke Chrysobergos however consented to consecrate Theodore only as bishop of Vladimir, but not as metropolitan. Yet at the same time, wanting to uphold the position of Prince Andrew as the most powerful amongst the rulers of the Russian Land, the patriarch dignified bishop Theodore with the right to wear the "white klobuk" (hierarch's headgarb), which in ancient Rus' was a distinctive sign of churchly autonomy -- a recognition of esteem likewise granted the archbishop of Novgorod by his white klobuk. Evidently, since the Russian chronicles bespeak bishop Theodore with the title of "White Klobuk", much later historians sometimes call him "an autocephalous bishop".
In the year 1167 Saint Rostislav died at Kiev. He was the twin brother of Andrew, and had been able to carry out compromise amongst the complicated political and churchly life of the time. But after this, there was dispatched from Tsar'grad a new metropolitan, Constantine II. The new metropolitan demanded that bishop Theodore come before him for confirmation of position. Saint Andrew again recoursed to Tsar'grad for affirmation of the autonomous status of the Vladimir diocese and again he requested a separate metropolitanate. The letter of reply from patriarch Luke Chrysobergos has been preserved: it contains a categorical refusal for establishing a new metropolitan, a demand to accept the expelled bishop Leon, and to submit to the Kiev metropolitan.
In fulfilling the duty of this churchly obedience, Saint Andrew urged bishop Theodore to journey in repentance to Kiev for the restoration of canonical relations with the metropolitan. The repentance of bishop Theodore was not accepted. Without investigation by a council, and in accord with the Byzantine morals of the time, metropolitan Constantine condemned him to a terrible execution: they cut out the tongue from Theodore, they cut off his right hand and then they gouged out his eyes. After this he was drowned by servants of the metropolitan (by other accounts, he died in prison).
Not only the churchly, but also the political affairs of Southern Rus' demanded the decisive response of the Vladimir Great-prince. On 8 March 1169 an army of allied princes with Andrew's son Mstislav at the head conquered Kiev. The city was devastated and burned, and the Polovetsians participating in the campaign did not spare even the churchly treasures. The Russian chronicles viewed this event as a merited requital: "These misfortunes were for their sins (the Kievans), especially for the outrage perpetuated by the metropolitan". In the same year 1169 the prince moved an army against unruly Novgorod, but they were repulsed by a miracle from the Novgorod Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign (Comm. 27 November), which had been carried along the city walls by holy Archbishop John (+ 1186, Comm. 7 September). But when the understandable wrath of the greatprince gave way to mercy, and in peace he summoned the Novgorod people to him, the blessing of God returned to him: Novgorod accepted the prince appointed by Saint Andrew.
In such a manner, towards the end of 1170 Saint Andrew Bogoliubsky was able to attain the unity of the Russian Land under his rule.
In the Winter of 1172 he dispatched against the Volga Bulgars a large army under the command of his son Mstislav. The Russian forces gained the victory, but their joy was overshadowed by the death of the valiant Mstislav (+ 28 March 1172).
...On the night of 30 June 1174 holy Prince Andrew Bogoliubsky accepted a martyr's death at the hands of traitors in his own household. The "Tver Chronicle" relates, that Saint Andrew was murdered at the instigation of his second wife (a Volga Bulgar), who participated in the conspiracy. At the head of the conspiracy stood her brothers, the Kuchkovichi: "and they did commit murder in the night, as did Judas against the Lord". A throng of assassins, twenty men, burst in upon the court, they killed the few guards and stormed into the bedchamber of the unarmed prince. The sword of Saint Boris, which hung constantly over his bed, had been treacherously removed that night by the steward Anbal. The prince succeeded in shoving down upon the floor the first of his assailants, whom the conspirators then mistakenly ran through with their swords. But soon they realised their mistake: "and then they did perceive the prince, and he fought much with them, for he was strong, and they did thrust with swords and sabres, and copious wounds did give him". The forehead of the holy prince was struck on the side with a spear, while all the remaining blows from the cowardly assassins were dealt from behind. When the prince finally fell, they abruptly rushed out of the bedchamber, taking along their murdered accomplice.
But the saint was still alive. With his final strength he lowered himself along the palace stairway, hoping to alert a guard. But his groans were heard by the assassins, and they turned back. The prince was able to hide himself in a niche below the stairway and so be bypassed by them. The conspirators rushed to the bedchamber but did not find the prince there. "Disaster stands afront us, since the prince is alive", -- in terror cried out the assassins. But all around it was quiet, and no one came to the aid of the suffering prince. Then the evil-doers again regained their boldness, they lit candles and followed along the bloody trail to seek out their victim. Prayer was on the lips of Saint Andrew when the assassins again surrounded him.
The Russian Church remembers and venerates its martyrs and makers. A special place belongs to Saint Andrew Bogoliubsky within it. Having taken in his hands the wonderworking image of the Vladimir Mother of God, the holy prince as it were blessed with it both then and through the centuries the major events of Russian history. In 1395 was the year -- of the transfer of the Vladimir Icon to Moscow and the deliverance of the capital from the invasion of Tamerlane (Comm. 26 August); the year 1480 -- was the salvation of Rus' from the invasion of khan Akhmat and the ultimate collapse of the Mongol Horde (Comm. 23 June); the year 1521 -- was the salvation of Moscow from the invasion of the Crimean khan Makhmet-Girei (Comm. 21 May). Through the prayers of Saint Andrew, his fondest dreams for the Russian Church came true. In the year 1300 metropolitan Maksim transferred the All-Russian Metropolitan seat from Kiev to Vladimir, making the Uspensky sobor (Dormition cathedral), -- wherein rest the relics of Saint Andrew, the foremost cathedral of the Russian Church, and the Vladimir wonderworking Icon -- its chief holy thing therein.
Later on, when the All-Russian churchly centre shifted to Moscow, selections of the metropolitans and patriarchs of the Russian Church were made before the Vladimir Icon. In the year 1448 in front of it, a Council of Russian bishops raised up the first Russian autocephalous metropolitan -- Sainted Jona. On 5 November 1917, in front of it was made the selection of His Holiness Patriarch Saint Tikhon -- the first such after the restoral of the patriarchate in the Russian Church. And in 1971, on the feastday of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, there took place the enthronation of His Holiness Patriarch Pimen.
The liturgical activity of Saint Andrew was multi-faceted and fruitful. In 1162 the Lord granted the holy prince a great solace: in Rostov there was discovered the relics of Rostov saints -- the Sainted-hierarchs Isaiah and Leontii. The glorification throughout all the Church of these Rostov saints took place somewhat later, but Saint Andrew initiated the beginning of their national veneration. In 1164 the military forces of Saint Andrew crushed their long-time enemy, the Volga Bulgars. The victories of the Orthodox nation were marked by a blossoming of liturgical creativity within the Russian Church. In this same year of 1164, at the initiative of Saint Andrew, the Church established the feastday to the All-Merciful Saviour and the MostHoly Mother of God on 1 August (venerated by the Russian people as "Saviour of First-Honey"), -- in memory of the Baptism of Rus' by holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir and in memory of the victory over the Bulgars in 1164.The soon thereafter instituted feastday of the Protection (Pokrov) of the Mother of God under 1 October embodied in liturgical forms the faith of the holy prince and all the Orthodox nation -- in the acceptance by the Mother of God of Holy Rus' beneathe Her omophorion. The "Pokrov" of the Mother of God became one of the most beloved of Russian Church feastdays. The Protection -- is a Russian national feastday, unknown to both the Latin West, and the Greek East. It is a liturgical continuation and creative developement of theological ideas, inherent to the feast of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God, on 2 July.
The first church, consecrated to the new feastday, was the Protection at Nerla (1165), a remarkable monument of Russian Church architecture, built by the master artisans of Saint Andrew at the head-waters of the River Nerla, such that the prince could always see it from a window of his Bogoliubov garret.
Saint Andrew took an active part in the literary work of the Vladimir church writers. He participated in the compiling of the Service of Pokrov (the most ancient copy is on the parchment of a XIV Century Psalter), and also a preface account about the establishing of the feastday of the Protection (Great Chet' Minei [Great Reading Meneion] under month October), as well as a "Discourse on the Protection". He wrote an "Account about the Victory over the Bulgars and the Establishing of the Feast of the Saviour in the Year 1164", -- which in several of the old manuscripts is entitled thus: "Discourse concerning the Mercy of God by GreatPrince Andrei Bogoliubsky". The fate of Bogoliubsky is also noted in the Vladimir Chronicle entry for the year 1177, completed after the death of the prince by his confessor, the priest Mikula, who inserted therein his special "Account about the Murder of Saint Andrew". To Saint Andrew's time belongs also the final redaction of the "Account about Boris and Gleb", inserted into the "Uspensk Sbornik" ("Compendium" or "Collected-service Book"). The prince venerated particularly Saint Boris, and his chief household sacred-treasure was a cap of Saint Boris. The sword of Saint Boris hung always over his bed. A memorial likewise of prayerful inspiration of Saint Andrew is "A Prayer", included in the chronicle under the year 1096 after the "Instructions of Vladimir Monomakh".
Saint Andrew Rublev, Russia's greatest iconographer, was born near Moscow sometime between 1360 and 1370. While still very young, he went to the Holy Trinity Monastery, and was profoundly impressed by St Sergius of Radonezh (September 25).
After the death of St Sergius in 1392, St Nikon (November 17) succeeded him as igumen. St Andrew became a novice in the monastery under St Nikon. Sometime before 1405 he moved to the Spaso-Andronikov Monastery founded by St Andronicus (June 13), with the blessing of St Nikon.There St Andrew received monastic tonsure and was taught iconography by Theophanes the Greek and the monk Daniel, St Andrew's friend and fellow-ascetic.
St Andrew is first mentioned in the Chronicles in 1405, when he, Theophanes, and Prochorus painted the cathedral of the Annunciation. His next important project, which he undertook with the monk Daniel, was to paint the frescoes in the Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir in 1408.
St Nikon of Radonezh asked St Andrew and Daniel to paint the new church in the reconstructed monastery of the Holy Trinity, which had been destroyed by the Tatars in 1408. At this time St Andrew painted his most famous icon: the Holy Trinity (actually, the Hospitality of Abraham).
St Andrew fell asleep in the Lord between 1427-1430, and was buried in the Andronikov Monastery. He was over seventy years old at the time of his death. The monk Daniel, who died before St Andrew, appeared to his friend and urged him to join him in eternal blessedness.
The PriestMartyr Theodore, Bishop of Cyrenia, lived during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Skilled at writing, and having accomplished great mastery in his beloved task, he transcribed many a copy of books for the churches. His son by birth Leo denounced him to the district governor, Dignianus, saying that his father possessed Christian books and was turning people away from idol-worship, and instead drawing them to faith in Christ the Saviour. Saint Theodore was brought to trial. Many Christians followed after him, in which number were the women Lucy and Hieroa. The holy bishop was ordered to surrender his books and renounce Christ, but he refused this demand. They beat him with tin rods. But Saint Theodore was not intimidated, and with a fiery zeal for the truth he destroyed the pagan sacrificial offerings. They tortured him for a long while, they cut out his tongue, and then they threw him in prison, where he died. Put to death also were the women Lucy and Hieroa and all, who had accepted holy Baptism from the holy bishop.
The Monk Athanasias of Athos, in holy Baptism named Abraham, was born in the city of Trapezund. He was early left orphaned, and being raised by a certain good and pious nun, he copied his adoptive mother in the habits of monastic life, in fasting and in prayer. Doing his lessons came easily and he soon outpaced his peers in study.
After the death of his adoptive mother, Abraham was taken to Constantinople, to the court of the then Byzantine emperor Romanos the Elder, and was enrolled as a student under the reknown rhetorician Athanasias. In a short while the student attained the mastery of skill of his teacher and he himself became an instructor of youths. Reckoning as the true life that of fasting and vigilance, Abraham led a life strict and abstinent, he slept little and then only sitting upon a stool, and barley bread and water were his nourishment. When his teacher Athanasias through human weakness became jealous of his student, blessed Abraham quit his teaching and went away.
During these days there had arrived at Constantinople the Monk Michael Maleinos (Comm. 12 July), hegumen of the Kimineia monastery. Abraham told the hegumen about his life, and revealed to him his secret desire to become a monk. The holy elder, discerning in Abraham a chosen vessel of the Holy Spirit, became fond of him and taught him much in questions of salvation. One time during their spiritual talks Saint Michael was visited by his nephew, Nicephoros Phokas, a reknown military officer and future emperor. The lofty spirit and profound mind of Abraham impressed Nicephoros, and all his life he regarded the saint with reverent respect and with love. Abraham was consumed by his zeal for the monastic life. Having forsaken everything, he went to the Kimineia monastery and, falling down at the feet of the holy hegumen, he besought to be received into the monastic form. The hegumen fulfilled his request with joy and gave him monastic vows with the name Athanasias.
With long fasts, vigils, bending of the knees, with works night and day Athanasias soon attained such perfection, that the holy hegumen blessed him for the exploit of silence in a solitary place not far from the monastery. Later on, having left Kimineia, he made the rounds of many a desolate and solitary place, and guided by God, he came to a place called Melanos, at the very extremity of Athos, settling far off from the other monastic dwellings. Here the monk made himself a cell and began to asceticise in works and in prayer, proceeding from exploit to exploit towards higher monastic attainment.
The enemy of mankind tried to arouse in Saint Athanasias hatred for the place chosen by him, and assaulted him with constant suggestions in thought. The ascetic decided to suffer it out for a year, and then wherever the Lord should direct him, he would go. On the last day of this year's length of time, when Saint Athanasias set about to prayer, an Heavenly Light suddenly shone upon him, filling him with an indescribable joy, all the thoughts dissipated, and from his eyes welled up graced tears. From that moment Saint Athanasias received the gift of tenderness ("umilenie"), and the place of his solitude he became as strongly fond of as before he had loathed it. During this time Nicephoros Phokas, having had enough of military exploits, remembered his vow to become a monk and from his means he besought the Monk Athanasias to build a monastery, i.e. to build cells for him and the brethren, and a church where the brethren could commune the Divine Mysteries of Christ on Sundays.
Tending to shun cares and worries, Blessed Athanasias at first would not agree to accept the hateful gold, but seeing the fervent desire and good intent of Nicephoros, and discerning in this the will of God, he set about the building of the monastery. He erected a large church in honour of the holy Prophet and Forerunner of Christ John the Baptist, and another church at the foot of an hill, in the name of the MostHoly Virgin Mother of God. Around the church were the cells, and a wondrous monastery arose on the Holy Mount. In it were arrayed a refectory, an hospice for the sick and for taking in wanderers, and other necessary structures.
Brethren flocked to the monastery from everywhere, not only from Greece, but also from other lands -- simple people and illustrious dignitaries, wilderness-dwellers having asceticised long years in the wilderness, hegumens from many a monastery and hierarchs wanting to become simple monks in the Athos Laura of Saint Athanasias.
The saint established at the monastery a life-in-common ("coenobitic") monastic-rule on the model of the old Palestinian monasteries. Divine-services were made with all strictness, and no one made bold to chatter during the time of service, nor to come late or leave without need from the church.
The Heavenly Patroness of Athos, the All-Pure Mother of God Herself, was graciously disposed towards the saint. Many a time he was granted to behold Her wondrous eyes. By the sufferance of God there once occurred such an hunger, that the monks one after the other quit the Laura. The saint remained all alone and in a moment of weakness he also considered leaving. Suddenly he beheld a Woman beneathe an aethereal veil, coming to meet him. "Who art thou and whither goest?" -- She asked quietly. Saint Athanasias from an innate deference halted. "I am a monk from here", -- answered Saint Athanasias and told about himself and his worries. "And on account of a morsel of dry bread thou would forsake the monastery, which was intended for glory from generation unto generation? Where is thy faith? Turn round, and I shalt help thee". "Who art Thou?", -- asked Athanasias. "I am the Mother of thy Lord", -- She answered and bid Athanasias to strike his staff upon a stone, such that from the fissure there shot forth a spring of water, which exists even now, in remembrance of this miraculous visitation.
The brethren grew in number, and the construction work at the Laura continued. The Monk Athanasias, foreseeing the time of his departure to the Lord, prophesied about his impending end and besought the brethren not to be troubled over what he foresaw. "For Wisdom disposeth otherwise than people do judge". The brethren were perplexed and pondered over the words of the saint. Having bestown on the brethren his final guidance and comforted all, Saint Athanasias entered his cell, put on his mantle and holy kukol'-headpiece, which he wore only on great feasts, and after prolonged prayer he emerged. Alert and joyful, the holy hegumen went up with six of the brethren to the top of the church to look over the construction. Suddenly, through the imperceptible will of God, the top of the church collapsed. Five of the brethren immediately gave up their spirit to God. The Monk Athanasias and the architect Daniel, thrown upon the stones, remained alive. All heard, as the monk called out to the Lord: "Glory to Thee, O God! Lord, Jesus Christ, help me!" The brethren with great weeping began to dig out their father from amidst the rubble, but they found him already dead.
Saint Elizabeth was the older sister of Tsarina Alexandra, and was married to the Grand Duke Sergius, the governor of Moscow. She converted to Orthodoxy from Protestantism of her own free will, and organized women from all levels of society to help the soldiers at the front and in the hospitals.
Grand Duke Sergius was killed by an assassin's bomb on February 4, 1905, just as St Elizabeth was leaving for her workshops. Remarkably, she visited her husband's killer in prison and urged him to repent.
After this, she began to withdraw from her former social life. She devoted herself to the Convent of Sts Martha and Mary, a community of nuns which focused on worshiping God and also helping the poor. She moved out of the palace into a building she purchased on Ordinka. Women from the nobility, and also from the common people, were attracted to the convent.
St Elizabeth nursed sick and wounded soldiers in the hospitals and on the battle front. On Pascha of 1918, the Communists ordered her to leave Moscow, and join the royal family near Ekaterinburg. She left with a novice, Sister Barbara, and an escort of Latvian guards.
After arriving in Ekaterinburg, St Elizabeth was denied access to the Tsar's family. She was placed in a convent, where she was warmly received by the sisters.
At the end of May St Elizabeth was moved to nearby Alopaevsk with the Grand Dukes Sergius, John, and Constantine, and the young Count Vladimir Paley. They were all housed in a schoolhouse on the edge of town. St Elizabeth was under guard, but was permitted to go to church and work in the garden.
On the night of July 5, they were all taken to a place twelve miles from Alopaevsk, and executed. The Grand Duke Sergius was shot, but the others were thrown down a mineshaft, then grenades were tossed after them. St Elizabeth lived for several hours, and could be heard singing hymns.
The bodies of St Elizabeth and St Barbara were taken to Jerusalem in 1920, and buried in the church of St Mary Magdalene.
St Barbara died with St Elizabeth on July 5, 1918, the day after the murder of Tsar Nicholas and his family. The two nuns were thrown into a mineshaft, and grenades were tossed in after them. St Elizabeth remained alive for several hours, and could be heard singing hymns.
The bodies of St Barbara and St Elizabeth were taken to Jerusalem in 1920, and buried in the church of St Mary Magdalene.
The Monk Sisoi the Great (+ 429) was an hermit-monk, pursuing asceticism in the Egyptian wilderness in a cave sanctified by the prayerful labours of his predecessor -- the Monk Anthony the Great (Comm. 17 January). For his sixty years of wilderness deeds the Monk Sisoi attained to sublime spiritual purity and he was vouchsafed a gift of wonderworking, such that by his prayer he even once returned a dead lad back to life.
Extremely strict with himself, the Monk Sisoi was very merciful and compassionate to those nearby and he received everyone with love. Those, who visited him, the monk first of all always taught humility. To the question of one of the monks as to how might he attain to a constant mindfulness of God, the monk remarked: "That is still not of much consequence, my son, but more important is this -- to account oneself below everyone else, because such disparagement assists in the acquisition of humility". Asked by the monks, whether one year is sufficient for repentance in having fallen into sin against a brother, -- the Monk Sisoi said: "I believe in the mercy of God the Lover-of-Mankind, and if a man repent with all his soul, then God wilt accept his repentance in the course of three days".
When the Monk Sisoi lay upon his death-bed, the disciples surrounding the elder saw that his face did shine. They asked the dying man what he saw. Abba Sisoi answered, that he looked upon the prophets and apostles. The disciples asked, with whom did the monk converse? He said that Angels had come for his soul, and he had entreated them to give him a short bit of time yet for repentance. "Thou, father, hast not need for repentance," -- replied the students. But the Monk Sisoi, with his great humility, answered: "I do not know for sure whether I have even begun to make my repentance". After these words the face of the holy abba shone so, that the brethren were not able to look upon him. The monk had time to tell them that he saw the Lord Himself, and his holy soul expired to the Heavenly Kingdom.
The Monastic Sisoi, SchemaMonk of Pechersk (XIII), is commemorated in the general service of the Monastic Fathers of Kievo-Pechersk reposing in the Farther Caves. He is mentioned together with the Monk Gregory the Faster: "Sisoi the wondrous and Gregory, a name courageous, having by fasting both restrained their passions, humble ye the fierce lust of our flesh: for unto you is given to have grace to help us in our passions" (5th ode of the Canon).
During the reign of the emperor Claudius II (268-270), Saint Marinus together with his wife Martha and their sons Audifax and Avvakum journeyed from Persia to Rome, to pray at the graves of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. During this time fierce persecutions and executions befell the Roman Church. Saint Marinus with his wife and sons began to aid christians locked up in the prisons, and also to request the bodies of executed martyrs. At one of these jails they met a prisoner named Cyrenus and with love they helped him, as being one that had endured many torments for faith in Christ. The persecution spread and an even larger number of christians were arrested. During this time 260 christians, among whom was the tribune Vlastus, had been sent under the court sentence to dig ground along the Salerian Way, and were executed by bowmen. Marinus and his family, having learned about this vicious murder, together with the presbyter John began by night to take up the bodies of the martyrs for burial in the catacombs. Having returned later to the prison where Saint Cyrenus was locked up, they did not find him, since he had been executed the day before and his body thrown into the Tiber River. Doing their holy duty, Saints Marinus and Martha and their sons removed the body of the holy martyr from the river and committed it to earth. The holy workers were among christians, who continued secretly to make the Divine-services under the lead of holy bishop Callistus, and were hidden by them from pursuers.
In consummation of their great charitable deeds the holy family was deemed worthy to serve the Lord by accepting martyrs deaths. The pagans beheaded the courageous Confessor Valentine (Valentinus) the Presbyter, and the imperial gardener Asterius who had been converted by him, and together with these the holy ascetics from Persia were arrested and given over to torture. By order of the emperor, in the year 269 Saints Marinus, Audifax and Avvakum were beheaded, and Saint Martha was drowned in a river.
The relics of the holy saints are located at Rome, at the Church of Saint John the Hut-Dweller, and the relics of Saint Valentine, -- are in the Church of the holy Martyress Paraskeva.
The Holy Martyrs Isaurios the Deacon, Innocent, Felix, Hermias, Basil, Peregrinus, -- were Athenians, suffering for Christ in the Macedonian city of Apollonia under the emperor Numerian (283-284). Beheaded with them for believing in Christ were two city-governors -- Ruphus and Ruphinus.
The Holy Martyr Quintus hailed from Phrygia, a Roman province of Asia Monor, where since childhood he was brought up in Christian faith and piety. Having come to Neolida, he did many charitable acts and by prayer he healed those possessed by unclean spirits. The governor of the district Ruphus demanded the saint to offer pagan sacrifice to idols, but he fell down into a demonic fit and Saint Quintus healed him in the Name of Christ. The shaken-up and grateful Ruphus released Saint Quintus, having rewarded him.
The holy ascetic set off to Pergamum, but along the way he was seized by pagans from the city of Cimum, who began to torture him because he was a christian. But the Lord Himself intervened for the holy confessor: a strong earthquake occurred destroying the idolatrous temple. The frightened pagans stopped the torture, but left the saint in chains until the arrival of the new governor Klearchos. Klearchos gave orders to break the legs of Saint Quintus, but by the grace of God the saint was healed and after his confessor's act he lived 10 years more in the service of neighbour, working many miracles. He died in the year 283.
Saint Lucy, a native of the Italian district of Campania, from the time of her youth dedicated herself to God and lived austerely and chastely. And while still quite young, she was taken captive by Rexus, leader of one of the Germanic tribes, and carried off into a foreign land. Rexus at first tried to compel Saint Lucy to make the pagan rituals but, seeing her firmness of faith and readiness to accept torture for the Name of Christ, he was inspired with profound respect for her and even permitted her and her servants the use of a separate house, where they lived in solitude, spending the time in unceasing prayer. Setting off on military campaigns, Rexus reverently asked the prayer of Saint Lucy and he returned with victories.After 20 years Saint Lucy, having learned that the emperor Diocletian had started up a persecution against christians, entreated Rexus to send her back to Italy. She wanted to glorify the Lord together with her fellow countrymen. Rexus, under the influence of Saint Lucy, by this time had already accepted Christianity and even yearned with a desire for the deed of martyrdom. Leaving behind his retinue and family, he set of to Rome together with Saint Lucy. By the sentence of the Roman prefect Aelius, they were beheaded with a sword. After them were beheaded the holy martyrs Anthony, Lucian, Isidor, Dion, Diodorus, Cutonias, Aron, Capicus and Satyrus (+ 301).
Saint Acacius of Sinai lived during the sixth century and was a novice at a certain monastery in Asia. The humble monk distinguished himself by his patient and unquestioning obedience to his Elder, a harsh and dissolute man. He forced his disciple to toil excessively, starved him with hunger, and beat him without mercy. Despite such treatment, St Acacius meekly endured the affliction and thanked God for everything. St Acacius died after suffering these torments for nine years.
Five days after Acacius was buried, his Elder told another Elder about the death of his disciple. The second Elder did not believe that the young monk was dead. They went to the grave of Acacius and the second Elder called out: "Brother Acacius, are you dead?" From the grave a voice replied, "No, Father, how is it possible for an obedient man to die?" The startled Elder of St Acacius fell down with tears before the grave, asking forgiveness of his disciple.
After this he repented, constantly saying to the Fathers, "I have committed murder." He lived in a cell near the grave of St Acacius, and he ended his life in prayer and in meekness. St John Climacus (March 30) mentions him in THE LADDER (Step 4:110) as an example of endurance and obedience, and of the rewards for these virtues.
St Acacius is also commemorated on November 29.
The Monk Thomas the Maleian was a military commander before accepting monasticism. Powerful and brave, he had participated in many a battle, and he brought victory to his countrymen, for which he gained glory and esteem. But, striving with all his heart towards God, Thomas left the world with its honours and he took monastic vows.
With great humility he visited monastic-elders, asking of them guidance in the spiritual life. After several years Thomas received the blessing for solitary wilderness life and, strengthened in particular by a revelation through the holy prophet of God Elias, he settled on Mount Maleia (eastern part of Athos). Dwelling in complete seclusion, Saint Thomas fought with invisible enemies with suchlike a courage, as before he had against the visible enemies of his country.
The life and deeds of Saint Thomas were not able to be concealed from the surrounding area. People began to flock to him seeking spiritual guidance, and even those suffering from sickness, since he received from God the blessing to heal infirmities.
Many believers received help through the prayers of the monk and upon his departure to God.
The Nun Evphrosynia, in the world Evdokia, was the daughter of the Suzdal' prince Dimitrii Konstantovich (+ 1383), and from 1367 was the spouse of the Moscow GreatPrince Dimitrii Donskoi. Their happy union was for Russia a pledge of union and peace between Moscow and Suzdal'. Great influence was had upon the spiritual life of the princess Evdokia by Sainted Alexei, Metropolitan of Moscow, and even by the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, who baptised one of the sons of Dimitrii and Evdokia. the godfather of another was the Monk Dimitrii of Prilutsk. The holy princess was a builder of churches. In 1387 she founded in the Moscow Kremlin the Ascension women's-monastery. In 1395, -- during the time of the invasion of Tamerlane into the southern regions of Russia, upon her advice the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was transferred to Moscow, miraculously defending the Russian land. In secret as an ascetic deed during Lent, the princess wore chains beneathe her splendid royal clothes. By her patronage was written the famous image of the Archangel Michael, set afterwards as the temple patron-saint icon of the Kremlin Archangel Cathedral.
Having raised five sons (a sixth died in infancy), the princess took monastic vows with the name Evphrosynia. Having completed her earthly journey in prayer and ascetic deeds, Saint Evdokia peacefully reposed on 7 July 1407 and was buried in the Ascension monastery founded by her.
An emotionally imbued memorial of old-Russian church poetry is known of, expounding the lament of the princess for her husband, who had died at age 39.
The Holy Martyrs Peregrinus, Lucian, Pompeius, Isichius, Papius, Satorninus and Germanus (II) were natives of Italy. They suffered for Christ under the emperor Trajan in the city of Dirrachium, located at the shore of the Adriatic sea.
Being present at the martyrdom of Bishop Astius, who was crucified by the Romans upon a cross, they openly praised the courage and firmness of the holy confessor, for which cause they were seized, and as confessors of faith in Christ, they were drowned in the sea. Their bodies, carried by the waves to shore, were hidden there in the sand by christians. The martyrs appeared to the bishop of Alexandria 90 years later with a command to bury their bodies and to raise up a church over them.
The MonkMartyrs Epictetos and Astion the Monastic lived during the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian in one of the eastern districts of the Roman empire. The virtuous presbyter Epictetos from the time of his youth had dedicated his life to God. He was vouchsafed the gift of wonderworking, and by his prayers he accomplished numerous healings of those afflicted by unclean spirits and other maladies.
Once during the time of a stroll, the son of the city-governor -- the illustrious pagan-youth Astion, came upon Saint Epictetos. In a prolonged conversation Saint Epictetos enlightened Astion, he sowed the Word of God in the soul of the youth, telling him about the True God, about the great value of the immortal human soul, about the insignificance of transitory worldly pleasures. [trans. note: Epictetus was a pre-Christian Greek Stoic philosopher, and the trait-name bestown upon the saint may reflect a didactic message that pagan philosophy was a preparation of the pagan mind with a propensity for the ultimate Truth of the Gospel, as also the Pax Romana, etc.].
Having believed in Christ and having accepted holy Baptism, the blessed youth then began zealously to beseech of his guide to go together with him to some far-off land, so as to completely dedicate his life to God. Setting off on a ship, Saints Epictetos and Astion journeyed to the land of the Skythians. At the mouth of the River Danube (Dunaj) they settled not far from the city of Almirisium among the pagan Slavs, and passed their lives in deeds of prayer and fasting.
The God-pleasing lives of the hermits could not long remain unknown to the world. People began to come to the saints, those who were afflicted by various illnesses and oppressed by evil spirits, and they received healing by prayer. The pagans even began to ask help of the holy ascetics, and having received relief in their suffering, they were converted to Christ.
At this time the governor of the district, Latronian, arrived in the city of Almirisium, and pagan priests began to make denunciation against Saints Epictetos and Astion, that by sorcery they attracted people to their faith. They seized hold of the saints and began interrogation.
After thirty days locked in prison without food and water, the holy martyrs Epictetos and Astion were again brought to trial before Latronian. They remained ready to bravely accept new suffering for Christ.
They sentenced them to beheading with a sword (+ 290).
The parents of the holy Martyr Astion -- Alexander and Marcellina -- accepted holy Baptism from the bishop of the city Thomas the Evangeliser, who soon also suffered for Christ by beheading with a sword.
The Holy Martyress Kyriakia suffered for Christ at Nikomedia during the time of a persecution under Diocletian. She was the only daughter of the pious christians Dorotheos and Eusebia, who had given a vow to dedicate their daughter to God.
At the beginning of the persecution Saints Dorotheos and Eusebia were separated from their daughter and given over to trial under the governor Justus, but Saint Kyriakia was sent to Nikomedia to the co-ruler of Diocletian -- Maximian Hercules. The holy martyress firmly endured the tortures, praying to God. The Lord worked many miracles to bring the idol-worshippers to their senses: idols fell down in the pagan temples, just as they brought the saint there; wild animals brought to the martyress lay down peacefully at her feet. Seeing this, many pagans were converted to Christ. When the sentence of death was read, Saint Kyriakia requested time for prayer. After a final prayer she peacefully died, delivered by the Lord out of the hands of the Roman executioners.
The Holy GreatMartyr Procopius, in the world Neanius, a native of Jerusalem, lived and suffered during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). His father, an eminent Roman by the name of Christopher, was a Christian, but the mother of the saint, Theodosia, remained a pagan. He was early deprived of his father, and the young lad was raised by his mother. Having received an excellent secular education, he was introduced to Diocletian in the very first year of the emperor's accession to the throne, and he quickly advanced in government service. Towards the year 303, when open persecution against Christians was enacted, Neanius was dispatched as a proconsul to Alexandria with orders to mercilessly persecute the Church of God. But on the way to Egypt, near the Syrian city of Apameia, Neanius had a vision of the Lord Jesus, just as once formerly had happened with Saul on the road to Damascus. A Divine voice exclaimed: "Neanius, why persecutest thou Me?" Neanius asked: "Who art Thou, Lord?" -- "I am the crucified Jesus, the Son of God". And at this moment in the air appeared a radiant cross. Neanius sensed in his heart an inexpressible joy and spiritual happiness and he was transformed from being a persecutor into instead a zealous follower of Christ. From this point in time Neanius became fondly disposed towards Christians and struggled victoriously only against the barbarian pagans.
But for the saint there transpired the words of the Saviour, that "the enemies for a man -- are of his own household" (Mt. 10: 36). His mother, a pagan herself went to the emperor with a complaint against her son, of not reverencing the ancestral gods. Neanius was summoned to the procurator Judaeus Justus, where he was solemnly handed the missive of Diocletian. Having read through the missive filled with its blasphemies, Neanius quietly before the eyes of everyone tore it up. This itself was already a crime, which the Romans regarded as an "insult to authority". Neanius was held under guard and in chains sent off to Caesarea Palestine, where the Apostle Paul once languished. After terrible torments they threw the saint into a dank prison. By night in the prison room there shone a light, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, having come with luminous Angels, made Baptism for the suffering confessor, and gave him the name Procopius.
Repeatedly they led Saint Procopius to the courtroom, demanding him to renounce Christ and anew they subjected him to tortures. The stolidity of the martyr and his fiery faith brought down God's abundant grace viewing the execution. Inspired by the deed of Procopius, beneathe the sword of the executioner went many of the holy prisoner's former guards and Roman soldiers together with their tribunes Nicostrates and Antiochus. And with martyr's crowns was sealed the faith of 12 Christian Women, having themselves come to the gates of the Caesarea Praetorium. Struck by the great faith of the Christians and their courage, and having seen the firmness of her son in bearing terrible sufferings, Theodosia became repentant and stood amidst the line of confessors and was executed. Finally the new procurator, Flavian, convinced of the uselessness of the tortures, sentenced the holy GreatMartyr Procopius to beheading by the sword. By night Christians took up the much-tortured body, and having wrapped it in grave-clothes, with tears and prayers they committed it to earth (+ 303).
Righteous Prokopii of Ust'yansk: The undecayed relics of Righteous Prokopii were uncovered during the XVII Century near the Ust'yansk parish Entry of the Mother of God church in Vologda diocese and placed in the church, where over the course of two hundred years they remained in open view, a source of numerous healings. About the origin and life of the holy saint of God no account has been preserved. His name became known when he himself revealed it in a vision to a pious local inhabitant named Savela.
In connection with an increase in the number of miraculous healings, the relics of Righteous Prokopii were inspected in 1696 (or 1645) and in 1739, after which in honour of the saint there was consecrated a chapel in the church wherein rested his relics, and his icon was written and a service compiled to him.
In 1818 there was established the generally observed feastday in memory of the saint.
King Mirdat (408–410), the son of Varaz-Bakur, was the first martyred king of Georgia. He was raised by his maternal grandfather, King Trdat.
The faithful grandfather taught the future king to love God and his nation, and the young prince mindfully preserved his grandfather’s wisdom throughout his life. Mirdat was endowed with the greatest of a nobleman’s virtues: wisdom, discretion, physical prowess, fearlessness, valor, and courage. He liberated Klarjeti from the Byzantines, abolished the tribute system (by which Georgia was required to pay taxes to Persia), and prepared for war against the Persians.
The Persian king gathered an enormous army to punish the Georgian nation, and King Mirdat courageously marched toward Gardabani (in eastern Georgia) with his much smaller army. But the selflessness and bravery of the Georgian soldiers were no match for the multitude of Persian warriors. The Georgians suffered defeat, and the Persian conquerors captured the young king.
The Persian king demanded that Mirdat renounce the Christian Faith, but he was firmly rebuffed. Neither intimidation nor fear of persecution would break the will of the king. After torturing him for his love of Christ, the Persians bound him in chains, tormented him almost to death, and cast him into prison, where he gave up his soul to the Lord.
The martyrdom of King Mirdat took place at the beginning of the 5th century, in the year 410.
The PriestMartyr Pankratios, Bishop of Tauromeneia, was born at a time, when our Lord Jesus Christ yet lived upon the earth.
The parents of Pankratios were natives of Antioch. Hearing about the good-news of Jesus Christ, the father of Pankratios took his young son with him and set off to Jerusalem, in order to see for himself personally the great Teacher. The miracles astonished him, and when he heard the Divine teaching, he then believed in Christ as the Son of God. He became close with the disciples of the Lord, especially with the holy Apostle Peter. And it was during this period that young Pankratios got to know the holy Apostle Peter.
After the Ascension of the Saviour one of the Apostles came to Antioch and baptised the parents of Pankratios together with all their household. When the parents of Pankratios died, he left behind his inherited possessions and went to a Pontine mountain and began to live in a cave, passing his days in prayer and deep spiritual contemplation. The holy Apostle Peter, one time passing through these parts, made a visit to Pankratios at Pontus, and took him along to Antioch, and then to Cilicia, where the holy Apostle Paul then was. And there the holy Apostles Peter and Paul ordained Saint Pankratios as bishop of the Cilician city of Tauromeneia.
Saint Pankratios toiled zealously for the Christian enlightenment of the people. Over the course of a single month he built a church, where he celebrated Divine-services. The number of believers quickly grew, and soon almost all the people of Tauromeneia and the surrounding cities accepted the Christian faith.
Saint Pankratios governed his flock peacefully for many years. But one time pagans connived against the saint, and seizing an appropriate moment, they fell upon him and stoned him. Thus did Saint Pankratios end his life as a martyr (I). The relics of the saint rest in the church named for him, at Rome.
The PriestMartyr Cyril, Bishop of Gortineia, was for 50 years bishop at Gortineia. He suffered either under the emperor Decius (249-251), or according to other historical sources the emperor Maximian (284-305), being at the time an 84 year old elder.
Brought to trial before a governor named Lucius, who demanded him to offer sacrifice to idols, the holy elder steadfastly confessed his faith in Christ and refused to fulfill the soul-destroying command. The governor sentenced Saint Cyril to burning, but the flames did not touch the saint. Beholding this miracle, many a pagan came to believe in Christ, and Lucius himself in astonishment offered up praise to the Christian God and set free the saint.
Saint Cyril continued with his preaching and led many pagans to Christ, but also he grieved, that he had not been given to suffer for the Saviour. After a certain while it was reported to the governor, that Saint Cyril would not cease his evangelising, and that he continued successfully to convert people from the darkness of paganism to the light of Christ. Hearing the sentence against him, Saint Cyril rejoiced that he was to be granted a martyr's death for Truth, and he willingly placed his head beneathe the sword.
The MonkMartyrs Patermuphios, Koprios and the Martyr Alexander suffered under the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Patermuphios and his disciple Koprios were Egyptian hermits. When the apostate-emperor learned of the saints, he ordered them to be brought to him and he tried to seduce them into paganism, wickedly saying, that formerly he had served Christ but had learned, that only the pagan gods could provide salvation. Koprios was deceived by these words of the emperor and he betrayed Christ, but by the entreating prayers and tears of his elder he perceived his downfall, he repented and again confessed himself a Christian. The emperor became enraged and gave orders to torture Koprios fiercely. Patermuphios encouraged his brother monk to be brave and endure. One of the soldiers, Alexander by name, seeing the terrible sufferings of Koprios, believed in Christ and was sentenced to burning. Saints Patermuphios and Koprios were beheaded by the sword.
The Monks Patermuphios and Koprios: Patermuphios at first was a pagan and also the head of a band of robbers, but then he repented, was baptised and withdrew into the wilderness. The monk devoted all the rest of his life to attending the sick and burying the dead. For his love of toil and efforts, Patermuphios received from God the gift of wonderworking.
Presbyter Koprios was an eyewitness of the doings of the Monk Patermuphios and recorded his life and miracles. Saint Koprios narrated this vita to presbyter Ruphinos, who in turn transmitted it to Palladios, Bishop of Hellenopolis, who in turn included the account in his book, the "Historica Lausiaca".
One time the Monk Koprios entered into a debate with the heretic Manichaeos, and seeing that he could not prevail against him in dispute, he suggested to the heretic to arrange a large bon-fire and together with him to go into it, so that the Lord Himself should decide, whose was the true faith. Manichaeos refused to go in first, but Koprios went into the bon-fire, and standing amidst the burning embers, he remained unharmed. The people glorified the faith of Koprios, while the heretic who wanted not to go into the flames they threw into the bon-fire. The heretic jumped out all scorched and tried to flee, but they caught hold of him and again cast him into the bon-fire. The Monk Koprios then quelled the crowd and let Manichaeos go.
St. Urith or, more properly, Iwerydd was born at East Stowford, near Barnstaple, in Devon. Little is known of her life, but she is known to have founded the church at Chittlehampton, seven miles away. She was a consecrated virgin there, presumably a hermit, but was killed by local (apparently female) haymakers at the instigation of a jealous, possibly pagan, stepmother. She was cut down with a scythe and a miraculous stream immediately sprang up where she fell.
This story is extremely similar to the legends of Saints Sidwell and Juthwara who were decapitated in the same and adjoining counties. It is possible that all three were martyred by Saxon raiders from across the border with Somerset in the late 7th century. Her name certainly indicates that she was of Celtic origin; though she is popularly assigned to the 8th or 9th centuries when her executioners would have been Viking invaders. Her feast day is 8th July.
Urith was buried in Chittlehampton Church where her shrine became extremely popular with both the local people and pilgrims from further a-field. The village has the finest church tower in Devon, built with the money they gave in offering and the vicar had an income three times what he would ordinarily expect from the tithes and glebe. Like all pilgrimage centres, her cult was suppressed during the Reformation (1540) and her shrine and statue removed. Traces of the lady's veneration still survive however. The position of her shrine, where her body is thought to repose even today, is clearly identifiable as the small chamber off the north transept, adjoining the chancel. Children lay posies of flowers here every 8th July, after a procession to bless her holy well. The late 14th century pulpit also survives, bearing her image in stone.
In art, Urith is variously depicted holding the palm of martyrdom and the foundation of the stone Chittlehampton Church, or accompanied by her cow and her well, or carrying her head and the scythe that killed her. There is a 16th-century stained-glass window of her at Nettlecombe in Somerset.
Sainted Theodore, Bishop of Edessa, was born in the Syrian city of Edessa. All his life the holy saint was a bright witness of the great deeds of God, glorified in His Saints.
At twelve years of age, having lost his parents and given away his inheritance to the poor, he set out to Jerusalem, where at the Laura of the Monk Sava the Sanctified he took monastic tonsure. After 12 years of fervent monastic obedience and then another 24 years of full seclusion and great abstinence the Lord summoned the valiant ascetic to be bishop, so that he might bring light to the world. For after the death of the Edessa bishop, no more worthy a successor was found than Theodore, and through the mutual assent of the Antioch and Jerusalem Patriarchs, and likewise of both clergy and laity, this fine man was chosen bishop. It was not easy for Saint Theodore to forsake his quietude, but he submitted himself to the will of God and entered into the guidance of the Edessa Church. This occurred during the reign of the Greek emperor Michael and his mother Theodora (842-855). During the time of the episcopal imposition of hands over the Monk Theodore, there occurred a great miracle. The people beheld a dove white like snow, soaring about beneathe the cupola of the church, which then came down upon the head of the newly-made bishop. Setting about the governance of his flock, Saint Theodore devoted all his abilities to this service. He was a model for the faithful in word, in life, in love, and by the good example of his holy ascetic life he guided the flock, entrusted to him by God, onto the path of salvation. Theodore exerted much effort in the struggle with heretics, and with a firm hand he guarded the Church from temptations and errant thought. By his consolation and support for Saint Theodore, the perspicacious elder and pillar-dweller the Monk Theodosios likewise served the spiritual community, while asceticising not far from the city near the monastery of the holy GreatMartyr George.
With the blessing of the elder, Saint Theodore undertook a journey to Baghdad to the caliph Mavi with a complaint about unjust measures against the Orthodox. Having come to Mavi, the saint found him seriously ill. Calling on the help of the Lord, the holy bishop threw into a vessel with water a bit of earth from the Sepulchre of the Lord and gave it to the caliph to drink, and the sick one was healed. The grateful Mavi, favourably disposed towards the saint, happily heard out his teachings and finally, together with three close associates he accepted holy Baptism with the name John.
Shortly afterwards for his open confession of faith in Christ before the Mussulmans, the caliph John was killed with his three close associates. Having appeared in a dream simultaneously to Saint Theodore and to the Pillar-Dweller Theodosios, he reported that he had been granted to suffer for Christ, being numbered among the rank of the Martyrs, and he would soon meet the two of them in the Kingdom of Heaven. This was an indication to the saint of God, that his own end was approaching. Three years later, again in solitude at the Laura of Saint Sava the Sanctified, he peacefully expired to the Lord (IX). Saint Theodore has left to Christians his writings of edification. The Life of Saint Theodore of Edessa was a beloved reading in Rus' during the XVI-XVII Centuries and was preserved in many a manuscript.
The Placing of the Venerable Robe of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Moscow (1625): The Saviour's venerable Robe [Slavic "Riza", Greek "himatia", Latin "vestimenta", literally "over-garments"] is not identically the same thing with His seamless "Chiton" [Greek and Slavic "khiton", Latin "tunica", literally "under-garb tunic"] -- they are clearly distinct within Holy Scripture: "The soldiers then, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments (odezhdu, vestimenta, ta himatia) and divided them into four parts, to each soldier a part, and the chiton-shirt (et tunicam, kai ton khitona). The chiton indeed was without seam, woven whole from the top down, and so they did say one to another: let us not rend it asunder, but for it cast lots, whose it wilt become. Wherefore was fulfilled the saying in Scripture: they divided My raiment-garb (riza, vestimenta, ta imatia) amongst them, and upon My vesture-garb (imatisme, in vestem, epi ton himatismon) did they cast lots" (Jn. 19: 23-24; Ps. 21 : 18-19).
According to the tradition of the Gruzinian (Georgian) Orthodox Church, the Chiton-tunic of the Lord was carried by the Hebrew rabbi Elioz from Jerusalem to Mtsketa and at present is beneathe a crypt in the foundations of the Mtsketian Patriarchal cathedral of Svetitskhoveli (the feast in honour of the Chiton-tunic of the Lord is celebrated on 1 October). None of the Mohamedan invaders ever ventured to enroach upon this spot, glorified with a sign by the mercy of God -- the Life-Creating Pillar.
The Robe of the Lord, -- actually one of its four parts, the lower portion namely (other parts of the Robe of the Lord are likewise known of in Western Europe: in the city of Trier in Germany, and in Argenteuil near Paris in France), just like the Chiton-tunic of the Lord, came to be in Gruzia. In contrast to the Chiton-tunic, the Robe portion was not kept underground, but was in the treasury of the Svetitskhoveli cathedral right up to the XVII Century, when the Persian shah Abbas I, in devastating Gruzia, carried off with other treasures also the Robe of the Lord. In order to ingratiate himself with tsar Mikhail Feodorovich, the shah in 1625 dispatched the Robe of the Lord as a gift to Patriarch Philaret (1619-1633) and tsar Mikhail. The authenticity of the Robe was testified to by Nektarii, Archbishop of Vologda, also by the Jerusalem Patriarch Theophanes who had come from Byzantium, and by Ioannikes the Greek, but especially also by the miraculous signs, manifest by the Lord through the venerable relic.
Afterwards two parts of the Robe came to be in Peterburg: one in the cathedral at the Winter Palace, and the other in the Petropavlovsk (Peter and Paul) cathedral. A portion of the Robe was preserved likewise at the Uspenie-Dormition cathedral in Moscow, and small portions -- at the Kiev Sophia cathedral, at the Ipat'ev monastery near Kostroma and at certain other old temples. At Moscow annually on 10 July the Robe of the Lord is solemnly brought out of a chapel named for the holy Apostles Peter and Paul at the Uspensky cathedral, and it is placed on an analoi-stand for veneration during the time of Divine-services. After Liturgy they carry the Robe to its former place.
On this day likewise is proper a service to the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord, since the Placing of the Robe in the Uspensky cathedral in 1625 was done on 29 March, on the day which then occurred to be the Lenten Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross.
The Forty-five Martyrs of the Armenian City of Nikopolis suffered during the reign of the emperor Licinius (307-324), then a co-regent with Constantine the Great. Licinius fiercely persecuted Christians and in his Eastern districts of the empire he issued an edict to put to death anyone who would not consent to return to paganism. When the persecutions began at Nikopolis, more than forty of the persecuted of Christ decided to voluntarily appear before their persecutors, to openly confess their faith in the Son of God and accept martyrdom. The holy confessors were headed by Leontios, Mauricios, Daniel, Anthony and Alexander, and were distinguished by their virtuous life. The hegemon-procurator of the Armenian district, Licius, before whom the holy confessors presented themselves, was amazed at the directness and bravery of those who voluntarily doomed themselves to torture and death. He tried to persuade them to renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, but the saints remained steadfast. They refuted all the arguments of the governor, pointing out to him all the falseness of faith in the disgusting and vice-filled pagan gods, leading to ruin those that worship them. The hegemon-procurator gave orders to beat the confessors about the face with stones, and then shackle and imprison them.
In prison the saints rejoiced and sang psalms of David. Saint Leontios inspired and encouraged the brethren in the faith, readying them to accept new tortures for the true faith, and telling them of the bravery of all those formerly that had suffered for Christ. In the morning, after repeated refusal to offer sacrifice to the idols, the saints were again given over to torture. Saint Leontios, seeing the intense suffering of the martyrs and worrying, that certain of them might collapse in spirit and lose faith, prayed to God, that he might see a quick end of the matter for all.
When the holy martyrs sang psalms at midnight, an Angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to them, and the prison blazed with light. The Angel declared to the martyrs, that their deed was near its end, and their names already were inscribed in Heaven. Two of the prison guards, Meneas and Virilades, beheld what was happening and believed in Christ. On the following morning the governor decided to put to death the martyr-witnesses of Christ. After beastly tortures they burned them in a fire, and their bones they threw in a river (+ c. 318). Pious people found them, gathered them up and saved them. Later on, when freedom had been bestown to the Church of Christ, on this spot was built a church in the name of the holy 45 Martyrs.
The Monk Antonii (Anthony) of Pechersk was born in the year 983 not far from Chernigov, at the locale of Liubech. Possessing the fear of God from his youthful years, he desired to be clothed in the monastic form. Attaining maturity of age, he set off wandering, and having reached Athos, he burned with the desire to emulate the deeds of its holy inhabitants. Here he received monastic tonsure and in everything the young monk pleased God in his asceticising upon the path of virtue; he throve especially in humility and obedience, such that all the monks did rejoice to look upon his holy life.
The hegumen foresaw within Saint Antonii the great future ascetic, and on an inspiration from God, he sent him off back to his native land, saying: "Antonii! It is time for thee to guide others also into an holy life. Return to thine own Russian Land, and be thou upon thee the blessing of Holy Mount Athos, so that from thee shalt come a multitude of monks".
Having returned to Rus', Antonii began to make the rounds of the monasteries about Kiev, but nowhere did he find that strict life, which had drawn him to Athos.
Through the Providence of God, on one of the hills of Kiev at a steep bank of the River Dneipr, reminiscent for him of the beloved Athos, in a forested area near the village of Berestovo, he espied a cave, dug out by the Priest Ilarion (who afterwards became Metropolitan of Kiev, Comm. 21 October). He began to asceticise there in prayer, fasting, vigil and work, eating over the course of a day but a bit of food, and sometimes he did not eat throughout the week. People began to come to the ascetic for blessing and counsel, and some decided to remain thereafter with the saint. Among the first disciples of the Monk Antonii was Saint Nikon, who in the year 1032 tonsured at the monastery the similarly arrived Monk Theodosii (Feodosii) of Pechersk (+ 1074, Comm. 3 May).
The holy life of the Monk Antonii brightened all the Russian Land with the beauty of monastic striving. Saint Antonii received with love those yearning for monasticism. After instructions on how one ought to follow Christ, he bid Blessed Nikon to tonsure those willing. When 12 men had gathered about the Monk Antonii, the brethren together dug out a large cave and within it was built a church and cells for the monks. Saint Antonii, having appointed Blessed Varlaam as hegumen over the brethren, himself withdrew from the monastery, and having dug out for himself a new cave, he secluded himself within it. But there also, around the place of his seclusion, monks soon began to settle. Thus were formed the Nearer and Farther Cave monasteries. Afterwards over the Farther Caves was built by the monk a small wooden church in honour of the Uspenie-Dormition of the Mother of God.
At the insistence of prince Izyaslav, the hegumen Varlaam withdrew to the Dimitriev monastery. With the blessing of the Monk Antonii and with the general agreement of the brethren , there was chosen as hegumen the meek and humble Theodosii. During this time the number of brethren had already reached an hundred men. The Kiev Great-prince Izyaslav (+ 1078) gifted to the monks the hill, on which was built the large church and cells, and around it was built a palisade wall. Thus was established the reknown monastery, which was called the Pechersk, foundationed over the caves. Giving the account of this, the chronicler remarks, that many a monastery exists built by rich emperors and nobility, they however cannot compare with those, which are built up by the prayers of saints, and by their tears, fasting and vigil. And thus though the Monk Antonii possessed not gold, he raised up by his efforts a monastery, incomparable with others, which became the first spiritual centre of Rus'.
For his holiness of life, God glorified the Monk Antonii with the gift of foresight and wonderworking. In an especial instance this occurred during their construction of the Great Pechersk church. The MostHoly Mother of God Herself stood before him and the Monk Theodosii in the Blakhernae church (in Byzantium), whither they had been miraculously transported and enraptured, without having left their Pechersk monastery (Vide account of this under 3 May, regarding the Kievo-Pechersk Icon of the MostHoly Mother of God). Having received gold from the Mother of God, the saints commissioned master-architects, who on the command of the Queen of Heaven set off (from Byzantium) to the Russian Land for building the church at the Pechersk monastery. During this appearance the Mother of God foretold the impending death of the Monk Antonii, which occurred at age 90 on 7 May 1073. The relics of the Monk Antonii, through Divine Providence, remain concealed.
The Monk Siluan, Kievo-Pechersk SchemaMonk, was a zealous preserver of purity both of soul and body, he beset his flesh with fasting and vigil, and he cleansed his soul with prayer and meditation on God. He was granted by the Lord an abundance of spiritual gifts: an especial prayerful boldness towards God, constant joy in the Lord, perspicacity and wonderworking. The monk lived at the end-XIII to beginning-XIV Centuries. His relics rest in the Theodosiev Caves.
The Holy Martyrs Uianor (Vianor) and Siluanos (Sylvanus): Saint Uianor came from the Psidia district in Asia Minor. As a confessor of Christianity they brought him to the governor of the city of Isauria in Likaoneia, who demanded that Saint Uianor renounce Christ. The saint stood steadfast in the true faith, in spite of the refined tortures. A man by the name of Siluanos beheld the suffering of the martyr. The endurance and bravery of Saint Uianor inspired the faith of Christ in Siluanos, and he openly declared this. They therewith cut out his tongue and then cut off his head. Saint Uianor after long torturing likewise was beheaded.
The date of the suffering of the holy Martyrs Uianor and Siluanos is not precisely known; it is presumed, that they died under the Roman emperor Diocletian (284-305).
The Holy Martyr Apollonias came from the city of Sardes, located in Lydia (Asia Minor). He declared himself a Christian and was arrested. When they demanded that he swear an oath on the name of the emperor, he refused, saying that it was improper to swear on the name of a mortal man. They tortured Saint Apollonias for a long time and then crucified him on a cross. This occurred at Iconium either under the emperor Decius (249-251) or the emperor Valerian (253-259).
Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Olga was the spouse of the Kiev GreatPrince Igor. The struggle of Christianity with paganism under Igor and Olga, who reigned after Oleg (+ 912), entered into a new phase. The Church of Christ in the years following the reign of Igor (+ 945) became a remarkable spiritual and political force in the Russian realm. The preserved text of a treaty of Igor with the Greeks in the year 944 gives indication of this: it was included by the chronicler in the "Tale of Bygone Years", under the entry recording the events of the Biblical year 6453 (945).
The peace treaty had to be sworn to by both the religious communities of Kiev: "Baptised Rus'", i.e. the Christian, took place in the cathedral church of the holy Prophet of God Elias (Comm. 20 July); "Unbaptised Rus'", i.e. the pagans, in turn swore their oath on their weapons in the sanctuary of Perun the Thunderer. The fact, that Christians are included in the document in the first place, indicates their significant spiritual influence in the life of Kievan Rus'.
Evidently at the moment when the treaty of 944 was being drawn up at Tsar'grad (Constantinople), there were people in power in Kiev sympathetic to Christianity, who recognised the historical inevitability of conjoining Rus' into the life-creating Christian culture. To this trend possibly belonged even prince Igor himself, whose official position did not permit him personally to go over to the new faith, nor at that time of deciding the issue concerning the Baptism of the whole country with the consequent dispersal throughout it of Orthodox Church hierarchs. The treaty therefore was drawn up in the circumspect manner of expression, which would not hinder the prince to ratify it in either the form of a pagan oath, or in the form of a Christian oath.
But when the Byzantine emissaries arrived in Kiev, conditions along the River Dneipr had essentially changed. A pagan opposition had clearly emerged, at the head of which stood the Varangian voevoda (military-leader) Svenel'd (or Sveinald) and his son Mstislav (Mtsisha) to whom Igor had given holdings in the Drevlyani lands.
Strong also at Kiev was the influence of the Khazar Jews, who could not but be displeased with the thought of the triumph of Orthodoxy in the Russian Land.
Unable to overcome the customary inertia, Igor remained a pagan and he concluded the treaty in the pagan manner -- with an oath on his sword. He refused the grace of Baptism and was punished for his unbelief. A year later, in 945, rebellious pagans murdered him in the Drevlyanian land, cut down betwixt two trees. But the days of paganism and the lifestyle of the Slavic tribes basic to it were already numbered. The burden of government fell upon the widow of Igor -- the Kiev Great-princess Olga, and her three year old son Svyatoslav.
The name of the future enlightener of the Russian Land and of her native region is first to be met with in the "Tale of Bygone Years", -- in the phrase where it speaks about the marriage of Igor: "and they brought him a wife from Pskov, by the name of Ol'ga". She belonged, so specifies the Joakimov Chronicle, to the lineage of the Izborsk princes, -- one of the obscure ancient-Russian princely dynasties, of which in Rus' during the X-XI Centuries there numbered no less than twenty, but who were all displaced by the Rurikovichi or merged otherwise with them through marriage. Some of them were of local Slavic descent, others -- Varangian new-comers. It is known, that the Scandinavian Viking "koenigs" (kinglets) called to become princes in the Russian cities -- invariably assimilated to the Russian language, and often, they soon became genuinely Russian with Russian names and lifestyle, world-outlook and even physical appearance of attire.
The spouse of Igor thus also had the Varangian name "Helga", which in the Russian "rendering" of pronunciation, is Ol'ga, Vol'ga. The feminine name Ol'ga corresponds to the masculine name "Oleg" (Helgi), which means "holy" [from Germanic "heilig" for "holy"]. Although the pagan understanding of holiness was quite different from the Christian, it also presupposed within man a particular frame of reference, of chasteness and sobriety, of mind and of insight. It reveals the spiritual significance of names, that people termed Oleg the Wise-Seer ("Veschi") and Ol'ga -- the Wise ("Mudra").
Rather later traditions regard her a native of a village named Vybuta, several kilometers from Pskov up along the River Velika. They still not so long ago used to point out at the river the Ol'ga Bridge, the ancient fording place, Where Olga was met by Igor. The Pskov geographic features have preserved not a few names, connected with the memory of this great descendent of Pskov: the village of Ol'zhinets and Ol'gino Pole (Ol'ga Field); the Ol'ga Gateway -- one of the branches of the River Velika; Ol'ga Hill and the Ol'ga Cross -- near Lake Pskov; and the Ol'ga Stone -- at the village of Vybuta.
The beginning of the independent rule of Princess Olga is connected in the chronicles with the narrative about her terrible revenge on the Drevlyani, who murdered Igor. Having sworn their oaths on their swords and believing "only in their swords", the pagans were doomed by the judgement of God to also perish by the sword (Mt. 26: 52). Worshipping fire amongst the other primal elements, they found their own doom in the fire. And the Lord chose Olga to fulfill the fiery chastisement.
The struggle for the unity of Rus', for the subordination to the Kievan centre of mutually divisive and hostile tribes and principalities paved the way towards the ultimate victory of Christianity in the Russian Land. For Olga, though still a pagan, the Kiev Christian Church and its Heavenly patron saint the holy Prophet of God Elias [in icons depicted upon a fiery chariot] stood as a flaming faith and prayer of a fire come down from the heavens, and her victory over the Drevlyani -- despite the severe harshness of her victory, was a victory of Christian constructive powers in the Russian realm over the powers of a paganism, dark and destructive.
The God-wise Olga entered into history as a great builder of the civil life and culture of Kievan Rus'. The chronicles are filled with accounts of her incessant "goings" throughout the Russian land with the aim of the well-being and improvement of the civil and domestic manner of life of her subjects. Having consolidated the inner strengthening of the might of the Kiev great-princely throne -- with the consequent weakening of the influence of the jumbled hodge-podge of petty local princes in Rus', Olga centralised the whole of state rule with the help of the system of "pogosti" (administrative trade centres). In the year 946 she went with her son and retinue through the Drevlyani land, "imposing tribute and taxes", noting the villages, inns and hunting places, liable for inclusion in the Kiev great-princely holdings. The next year she went to Novgorod, establishing administrative centres along the Rivers Msta and Luga, everywhere leaving visible traces of her activity. "Her lovischa (hunting preserves) were throughout all the land, the boundary signs, her places and administrative centres, -- wrote the chronicler, -- and her sleighs stand at Pskov to this very day, as are her directed places for snaring of birds along the Dneipr and the Desna Rivers; and her village of Ol'zhicha stands to the present day".
The "pogosti" established by Olga, as financial-administrative and law-court centres, represented sturdy props of great-princely power in these places.
Being first of all, and in the actual sense of the word, centres of trade and exchange (the merchant as "guest") gathered together and became organised around the settlements (and in place of the "humanly arbitrary" gathering of tribute and taxes, there now existed uniformity and order with the "pogosti" system). Olga's "pogosti" became an important network of the ethnic and cultural unification of the Russian nation.
Later on, when Olga had become a Christian, they began to erect the first churches at the "pogosti"; from the time of the Baptism of Rus' the "pogost" and church (parish) became inseparably associated. (It was only afterwards with the existence of cemeteries alongside churches that there developed the current meaning of the Russian word "pogost" to nowadays signify "parish graveyard".)
Princess Olga exerted much effort to fortify the defensive might of the land. The cities were built up and strengthened, Vyshgorod (or Detintsa, Kroma) they enclosed with stone and oak walls (battlements), and they bristled them with ramparts and pallisades. Knowing how hostile many were to the idea of strengthening the princely power and the unification of Rus', the princess herself lived constantly "on the hill" over the Dneipr, behind the trusty battlements of Kievan Vyshgorod ("Verkhna-gorod" or "Upper-city"), surrounded by her faithful retainers. Two thirds of the gathered tribute, as the chroniclers testify, she gave over for the use of the Kiev "veche" (city-council), and the remaining one third went "to Olga, for Vyshgorod" -- for the needs of building fortifications. And to the time period of Olga, historians note the establishment of the first state frontiers of Russia -- to the west, with Poland. Heroic outposts to the south guarded the peaceful fields of the Kievans from the peoples of the Wild Plains. Foreigners hastened to Gardarika ("the land of cities"), as they called Rus', with merchandise and craftwares. Swedes, Danes, Germans all eagerly entered as mercenaries into the Russian army. The foreign connections of Kiev spread. This furthered the developement of construction with stone in the city, the beginnings of which was initiated under Olga. The first stone edifices of Kiev -- the city palace and Olga's upper enclosure -- were discovered by archaeologists only but in this century. (The palace, or more properly its foundations and remains of the walls were found in excavations during the years 1971-1972).
But it was not only the strengthening of the civil realm and the improvement of domestic norms of the manner of life for people that attracted the attention of the wise princess. Even more urgent for her was the fundamental transformation of the religious life of Rus', the spiritual transfiguration of the Russian nation. Rus' had become a great power. Only two European realms could compare with it during these years in significance and might: in Eastern Europe -- the ancient Byzantine empire, and in the West -- the kingdom of Saxony.
The experience of both empires, connected with the exaltation in spirit of Christian teaching, with the religious basis of life, showed clearly, that the way to the future greatness of Rus' lay not through military means, but first of all and primarily through spiritual conquering and attainment. Having entrusted Kiev to her teenage son Svyatoslav, and seeking grace and truth, Great-princess Olga in the Summer of 954 set off with a great fleet to Tsar'grad. This was a peaceful "expedition", combining the tasks of religious pilgrimage and diplomatic mission, but the political considerations demanded that it become simultaneously a display of the military might of Rus' on the Black Sea, which would remind the haughty "romanoi" [Byzantine Greeks] of the victorious campaigns of Askol'd and Oleg, who in the year 907 advanced in their shields "to the very gates of Tsar'grad".
The result was attained. The appearance of the Russian fleet in the Bosphorus created the necessary effect for the developing of Russo-Byzantine dialogue. In turn, the southern capital struck the stern daughter of the North with its variety of beauty and grandeur of architecture, and its jumbled mixture of pagans and peoples from all over the world. But an especial impression was produced by the wealth of Christian churches and the holy things preserved in them. Tsar'grad-Constantinople, "the city of the imperial Caesar-tsar", the Byzantine Greek empire, strove in everything to be worthy for its Heavenly Mediatrix. At its very foundation (or more precisely, restoration), the city had been consecrated in the year 330 by the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine the Great (Comm. 21 May) to the MostHoly Mother of God (this event occurred in the Greek Church on the date of 11 May and from there passed over into Russian commemoration). The Russian princess was present at Divine-services in the finest churches of Constantinople -- Saint Sophia, the Mother of God Blakhernae, and others.
In her heart the wise Olga found the desire for holy Orthodoxy, and she made the decision to become a Christian. The sacrament of Baptism was made over her by the Constantinople Patriarch Theophylaktos (933-956), and her godfather was the emperor Constantine Porphyrigenitos (912-959). At Baptism there was entrusted to her the name Elena (Helen) in honour of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Helen (Comm. 21 May), the mother of Saint Constantine, and she also had been the discoverer of the Venerable Wood of the Cross of the Lord. In an edifying word spoken at the conclusion of the sacramental rite, the patriarch said: "Blessed art thou amongst Russian women, in that thou hast forsaken the darkness and hast loved the Light. The Russian people shalt bless thee in all the future generations, from thy grandson and great-grandson to thine furthermost descendants". He instructed her in the truths of the faith, the churchly rules and the rule of prayer, he explained the commands about fasting, chastity and charity. "She however, -- says the Monk Nestor, -- bowed her head and stood, literally like a sponge absorbing water she hearkened to the teaching, and bowing down to the Patriarch, she did say: By thine prayers, Vladyka, let me be preserved from the wiles of enemies".
It is precisely thus, with a slightly bowed head, that Saint Olga is depicted on one of the frescoes of the Kiev Sophia cathedral, and likewise on a Byzantine miniature contemporary to her, in a manuscript portrait of the Chronicles of John Scilitius in the Madrid National Library. The Greek inscription, accompanying the miniature, terms Olga "Archontessa (i.e. ruler) of the Russes", "a woman, Helga by name, who came to the emperor Constantine and was baptised". The princess is depicted in special head attire, "as a newly-baptised Christian and venerable deaconess of the Russian Church". Alongside her in the same attire of the newly-baptised -- is Malusha (+ 1001), the mother later on of the Equal-to-the-Apostles Saint Vladimir (Comm. 15 July).
For one who had originally so disliked the Russians as did the emperor Constantine Porphyrigenitos, it was no trivial matter for him to become the godfather to the "Archontessa of Rus'". In the Russian chronicles are preserved narratives about this, how resolutely and on an equal footing Olga conversed with the emperor, amazing the Greeks by her spiritual depth and wisdom of governance, and displaying that the Russian nation was quite capable of accepting and assimilating the highest attainments of the Greek religious genius, the finest fruition of Byzantine spirituality and culture. And thus by a peaceful path Saint Olga succeeded in "taking Tsar'grad", something which no other military leader before her had ever been able to do. According to the witness of the chronicles, the emperor himself had to admit, that Olga "had given him the slip" (had outwitted him), and the popular mind, jumbling together into one the traditions about Oleg the Wise and Olga the Wise, sealed in its memory this spiritual victory in the bylina or folk-legend entitled "Concerning the Taking of Tsar'grad by Princess Olga".
In his work "About the Ceremonies of the Byzantine Court" -- which has survived to the present-day in but one copy, Constantine Porphyrigenitos has left us a detailed description of the ceremony surrounding the stay of Saint Olga at Constantinople. He describes a triumphant reception in the famed Magnaura palace, beneathe the singing of bronze birds and the roars of copper lions, where Olga appeared with an impressive retinue of 108 men (not counting the men of Svyatoslav's company). And there took place negotiations in the narrower confines of the chambers of the empress, and then a state dinner in the hall of Justinian. And here during the course of events, there providentially met together at one table the four "majestic ladies": the grandmother and the mother of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Saint Vladimir (Saint Olga and her companion Malusha), and the grandmother and the mother of Saint Vladimir's future spouse Anna (the empress Helen and her daughter-in-law Theophano). Slightly more than half a century would pass, and at the Desyatin church of the MostHoly Mother of God at Kiev would stand aside each other the marble tombs of Saint Olga, Saint Vladimir and "Blessed Anna".
During the time of one of these receptions, -- relates Constantine Porphyrigenitos, -- the Russian princess was presented a golden plate inset with jewels. Saint Olga made an offering of it at the vestry of the Sophia cathedral, where at the beginning of the XIII Century it was seen and described by the Russian diplomat Dobrynya Yadeikovich (who afterwards was to become the Novgorod archbishop Antonii): "The large golden official plate of Ol'ga of Russia, when she took it as tribute, having come to Tsar'grad; upon the plate be precious stones, and upon it is written in these stones the name Xpictoc-Christ".
Moreover, the wily emperor, having reported such details as would underscore how "Olga had given him the slip", likewise presents a difficult riddle for historians of the Russian Church. The matter involves this, -- that the Monk Nestor the Chronicler relates in the "Tale of Bygone Years" that the Baptism of Olga took place in the Biblical year 6463 (955 or 954), and this corresponds to the account of the Byzantine chronicles of Kedrinos. Another Russian Church writer of the XI Century, Yakov Mnikh, -- in his work "Eulogy and Laudation to Vladimir... and how Vladimir's Grandmother Ol'ga was Baptised", speaks about the death of the holy princess (+ 969) and he notes, that she lived as a Christian for fifteen years, and he places the actual date of Baptism as the year 954, which likewise corresponds within several months to that indicated by Nestor. In contrast to this, describing for us the stay of Olga at Constantinople and providing the precise dates of the receptions given in her honour, Constantine Porphyrigenitos has us to understand in no uncertain terms that all this occurred in the year 957.
To reconcile the cited chronicles, on the one hand, with the testimony of Constantine on the other hand, Russian Church historians are led to suppose either one of two things: either Saint Olga journeyed a second time to Constantinople in the year 957 to continue negotiations with the emperor, or that either -- she was in no wise baptised at Constantinople, having previously been baptised at Kiev in 954, and that she was merely making pilgrimage to Byzantium, being already a Christian. The first supposition is the more credible.
As for the immediate diplomatic outcome of the negotiations, there were basic matters for Saint Olga that had been left unsettled. She had gained success on questions concerning Russian trade within the territories of the Byzantine empire, and also the reconfirmation of the peace accord with Byzantium, concluded by Igor in the year 944. But she had not been able to sway the emperor on two issues of importance to Rus': the dynastic marriage of Svyatoslav with a Byzantine princess, and the conditions for restoring an Orthodox metropolitan to Kiev as had existed at the time of Askol'd. The evidently inadequate outcome of her mission is detected in her answer, when she had already returned home, which was given to emissaries sent out by the emperor. To the emperor's inquiry about promised military aid, Saint Olga through the emissaries curtly replied: "If thou hadst spend a time with me similarly at Pochaina, as I did at the Court, then would I give the soldiery in aid".
Amidst all this, in spite of her failed attempts at establishing the Church hierarchy within Rus', Saint Olga in having become a Christian zealously devoted herself to efforts of Christian evangelisation amongst the pagans, and also church construction: "demanding the distressing of demons and the beginning of life for Christ Jesus". She erected churches: of Saint Nicholas and Saint Sophia at Kiev, of the Annunciation of the MostHoly Mother of God at Vytebsk, and of the Holy Life-Originating Trinity -- at Pskov. Pskov from that period has been called in the chronicles the Domicile of the Holy Trinity. The church, built by Olga at the River Velika at a spot pointed out to her from on high, -- according to the chronicler, -- by a "light-beam of the Thrice-Radiant Divinity", stood for more than one and an half centuries. In the year 1137 holy Prince Vsevolod-Gabriel (+ 1138, Comm. 11 February) replaced this wooden temple with one made of stone, which in turn in 1363 was rebuilt and replaced finally with the presently existing Trinity cathedral.
Another verymost important monument of Russian "Monument Theology", -- a Church architecture frequently is termed, -- connected with the name of Saint Olga, is the temple of Sophia Wisdom of God at Kiev, which was started soon after her return from Tsar'grad, and consecrated on 11 May 960. This day was afterwards observed in the Russian Church as a special Church feastday.
In the Mesyatseslov (calendar supplement)of a parchment Epistle-book from 1307, under 11 May is written: "On this day was consecration of Saint Sophia at Kiev in the year 6460". The year-date of memory is indicated in the so-called "Antioch" rather than generally-accepted Constantinople manner of chronology, and it corresponds to the year 960 from the Birth of Christ.
It was no mere co-incidence that Saint Olga received in Baptism the name of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Helen (Elena), who was the one to find the Venerable Wood of the Cross at Jerusalem. The foremost sacred item in the newly built Kiev Sophia temple was a piece of the Holy Cross, brought by this new Helen from Tsar'grad, and received by her in blessing from the Constantinople Patriarch. The Cross, by tradition, was hewn out from an entire piece of the Life-Creating Wood of the Lord. Upon the Cross-Wood was inscribed: "The Holy Cross for the Regeneration of the Russian Land, Received by Noble Princess Ol'ga".
Saint Olga did much to eternalise the memories of the first Russian confessors of the Name of Christ: over the grave of Askol'd was erected the Nikol'sk (Nicholas) church, where according to certain accounts, she herself was afterwards interred. Over the grave of Dir -- was built the afore-mentioned Sophia cathedral, which stood for half a century and burned in the year 1017. On this spot Yaroslav the Wise later on built a church of Saint Irene in 1050, but the sacred items of Olga's Sophia temple were transferred into a stone church of the same name -- standing at present as the Kiev Sophia, started in 1017 and consecrated in about the year 1030. In the Prologue account of the XIII Century, it said about the Olga Cross: "for It be now at Kiev in Saint Sophia in the altar on the right side". The plundering of Kiev's holy things, which after the Mongols was continued by the Lithuanians who captured the city in 1341, did not spare even this. Under Jagiello in the period of the Liublin Unia, which in 1384 united Poland and Lithuania into one state, the Olga Cross was snatched from the Sophia cathedral and carried off by the Catholics to Liublin. Its further fate is unknown.
But even in Olga's time there were at Kiev amongst the boyar-nobles and retinue-retainers no few people who, in the words of Solomon, "hated Wisdom", and also Saint Olga, for having built Wisdom's temple. Zealots of the old paganism became all the more emboldened, viewing with hope the coming of age of Svyatoslav, who decidedly spurned the urgings of his mother to accept Christianity, and even becoming angry with her over this. It was necessary to hurry with the intended matter of the Baptism of Rus'. The deceit of Byzantium, at the time not wanting to promote Christianity in Rus', played into the hands of the pagans. In search of a solution, Saint Olga turned her gaze to the west. No contradiction here yet existed. Saint Olga (+ 969) belonged still to the undivided Church (i.e. before the Great Schism of 1054), and she had scant possibility to study the theological points involved between the Greek and Latin faith-confessions. The opposition of West and East presented itself to her first of all as a political rivalry -- of secondary importance in comparison with her pertinent task -- the establishing of the Russian Church and the Christian enlightenment of Rus'.
Under the year 959, the German chronicler named "the Continuant of Reginon", records: "to the king came emissaries of Helen, queen of the Russes, who was baptised in Constantinople, and which did seek for their nation to have bishop and priests". King Otto, the future founder of the German empire, willingly acceded to the request of Olga, but he bid the matter not be in haste, in quite German the ponderence. It was only on Nativity of the following year 960, that there was established a Russian bishop Libutius, from the monastery brethren of Saint Alban am Mainz. But he soon died (15 March 961). In his place was ordained Adalbert of Trier, whom Otto "generously furnishing all needs" dispatched, finally, to Russia. It is difficult to say, what would have happened, had the king not delayed for so long a while, but when in 962 when Adalbert showed up at Kiev, he "did not succeed in the matter for which he had been sent, and did consider his efforts to be in vain". Furthermore, on the return journey "certain of his companions were murdered, and the bishop himself escaped not mortal danger".
It turned out that after the passage of years, as Olga indeed had foreseen, matters at Kiev had twisted ultimately in favour of paganism, and Rus' -- having become neither Orthodox nor Catholic, had second thoughts altogether about accepting Christianity. The pagan reaction thus produced was so strong, that not only did the German missionaries suffer, but also some of the Kiev Christians who had been baptised with Olga at Tsar'grad. By order of Svyatoslav, Saint Olga's nephew Gleb was killed and some of the churches built by her were destroyed. It seems reasonable, that this transpired not without Byzantium's secret diplomacy: given the possibility of a strengthened Rus' in alliance with Otto, the Greeks would have preferred to support the pagans, with the consequent intrigues against Olga and various disorders.
The collapse of the mission of Adalbert had providential significance for the future Russian Orthodox Church, escaping papal dominion. Saint Olga was obliged to accede to the humiliation and to withdraw fully into matters of personal piety, handing over the reigns of governance to her pagan-son Svyatoslav. Because of her former role, all the difficult matters were referred over to her in her wisdom of governance. When Svyatoslav absented himself from Kiev on military campaigns and wars, the governance of the realm was again entrusted to his mother. But the question about the Baptism of Rus' was for the while taken off the agenda, and this was ultimately bitter for Saint Olga, who regards the good-news of the Gospel of Christ the chief matter in her life.
She meekly endured the sorrow and grief, attempting to help her son in civil and military affairs, and to guide matters with heroic intent. The victories of the Russian army were a consolation for her, particularly the destruction of an old enemy of the Russian state -- the Khazar kaganate. Twice, in the years 965 and 969, the armies of Svyatoslav went through the lands of "the foolish Khazars", forever shattering the might of the Jewish rulers of Priazovia and lower Povolzhia. A subsequent powerful blow was struck at the Mahometan Volga Bulgars, and then in turn came the Danube Bulgars. Eighteen years were spent on the Danube with the Kiev military forces. Olga was alone and in worry: it was as though, absorbed by military matters in the Balkans, Svyatoslav had forgotten about Kiev.
In the Spring of 969 the Pechenegs besieged Kiev: "and it was impossible to lead out the horses to water, for the Pechenegs stood at the Lybeda". The Russian army was far away, at the Danube. Having sent off messengers to her son, Saint Olga herself headed the defense of the capital. When he received the news, Svyatoslav rode quickly to Kiev, and "he hugged his mother and his children and was distressed, with what had happened with them from the Pechenegs". But after routing the nomads, the warrior prince began anew to say to his mother: "It doth not please me to sit at Kiev, for I do wish to live at Pereslavl' on the Dunaj (Danube) -- since there be the centre of my lands". Svyatoslav dreamed of creating a vast Russian holding from the Danube to the Volga, which would unite all Rus', Bulgaria, Serbia, the Near Black Sea region and Priazovia (Azov region), and extend his borders to those of Tsar'grad itself. Olga the Wise understood however, that all the bravery and daring of the Russian companies could not compare against the ancient empire of the Byzantine Romanoi, and that the venture of Svyatoslav would fail. But the son would not heed the admonitions of his mother. Saint Olga thereupon said: "Thou dost behold, that I am ill. Why wishest thou to forsake me? When thou buriest me, then set out whitherso thou dost will".
Her days were numbered, and her burdens and sorrows sapped her strength. On 11 July 969 Saint Olga died: "and with great lament they bewept her, her son and grandsons and all the people". The final years, amidst the triumph of paganism, for her as once haughty ruler transpired with having a priest secretly by her, so as to not evoke new outbursts of pagan fanaticism. But before death, having found anew her former firmness and resolve, she forbade them to make over her the pagan celebration of the dead, and she gave final instructions to bury her openly in accord with Orthodox ritual. Presbyter Gregory, who was with her at Constantinople in 957, fulfilled her request exactly.
Saint Olga lived, died, and was buried as a Christian. "And thus having lived and well having glorified God in Trinity, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, having worshipped in the blessed faith, she did end her life in the peace of Christ Jesus, our Lord". As her prophetic testament to succeeding generations, with deep Christian humility she confessed her faith concerning her nation: "God's will be done! If God be pleased to have mercy upon my native Russian Land, then shalt they be turned in heart towards God, as for me also wast this gift".
God glorified the holy toiler of Orthodoxy, the "initiator of faith" in the Russian Land, by means of miracles and incorrupt relics. Yakov Mnikh (+ 1072), an hundred years after her death, wrote in his work "Memory and Laudation to Vladimir": "God hath glorified the body of His servant Olena, and her venerable body be in the grave, incorrupt to this day".
Saint Olga glorified God with good deeds in all things, and God glorified her. Under holy Prince Vladimir, ascribed by some as occurring in the year 1007, the relics of Saint Olga were transferred into the Desyatin church of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God and placed within a special sarcophagus, into suchlike as was customary to enclose the relics of saints in the Orthodox East. "And hear ye concerning a certain miracle about her: the grave of stone is small in the church of the Holy Mother of God, this church built by blessed Prince Vladimir, and in the grave is Blessed Ol'ga. And atop the grave was an opening wrought -- for to behold the body of Blessed Ol'ga lying there whole". But not everyone was given to see this miracle of the incorrupt relics of the saint: "For whosoever with faith did come, the aperture opened up, and there was beheld the venerable body lying intact, and one would marvel at such a miracle -- the body lying there for so many years without decay. Worthy of all praise be this venerable body: in the grave whole, as though sleeping at rest. But for another, who not in faith shouldst approach, the grave aperture would not open up, and they would not catch sight of this venerable body, but only the grave".
Thus even after death Saint Olga espoused life eternal and resurrection, filling believers with joy and confounding non-believers. She was, in the words of the Monk Nestor the Chronicler, "a precursor in the Christian land, like the dawn before sunrise or light the twilight before the light".
The holy Equal-to-the-Apostles GreatPrince Vladimir, himself giving thanks to God on the day of the Baptism of Rus', witnessed before his countrymen concerning Saint Olga with the remarkable words: "The sons of Rus' do bless thee, and also the generations of thine ultimate lineage".
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).
Remembrance of the Miracle of Saint Euphemia the All-Praiseworthy: The holy GreatMartyress Euphemia (the account about her is located under 16 September) suffered martyrdom in the city of Chalcedon in the year 304, during the time of the persecution against Christians by the emperor Diocletian (284-305). One and an half centuries later, -- at a time when the Christian Church had become victorious within the Roman empire, God deigned that Euphemia the All-Praiseworthy should again be an especial witness and confessor of the purity of the Orthodox teaching.
In the year 451 in the city of Chalcedon, in the very church wherein rested the glorified relics of the holy GreatMartyress Euphemia -- there took place the sessions of the Fourth OEcumenical Council (the account about it is under 16 July). The Council was convened for determining the precise dogmatic formulae of the Orthodox Church concerning the nature-composition of the God-Man Jesus Christ. This had been necessitated because of the widely-dispersed heresy of the Monophysites ["mono-phusis" meaning "one nature"], who opposed the Orthodox teaching about the two natures in Jesus Christ -- the Divine and the Human natures [but in one Divine Person as Son of God within the Holy Trinity of three Divine Persons]. The Monophysites falsely affirmed that within Christ was only one nature -- the Divine [i.e. that Jesus is God but not man, by nature], causing discord and unrest within the Church. At the Council were present 630 representatives from all the Local Christian Churches. On the side of the Orthodox in the conciliar deliberations there participated Sainted Anatolios, Patriarch of Constantinople (Comm. 3 July), Sainted Juvenalios, Patriarch of Jerusalem (Comm. 2 July), and representatives of Sainted Leo, Pope of Rome (Comm. 18 February). The Monophysites were present in large numbers, headed by Dioscoros, the Alexandrian patriarch, and the Constantinople archimandrite Eutykhios.
After prolonged discussions the two sides could not come to a decisive agreement.
The holy Patriarch of Constantinople Anatolios thereupon proposed that the Council submit the decision of the Church dispute to the Holy Spirit, through His undoubted bearer Saint Euphemia the All-Praiseworthy, whose wonderworking relics had been discovered during the Council's discussions. The Orthodox hierarchs and their opponents wrote down their confessions of faith on separate scrolls and sealed them with their seals. They opened the tomb of the holy GreatMartyress Euphemia and placed both scrolls upon her bosom. Then, in the presence of the emperor Marcian (450-457), the participants of the Council sealed the tomb, putting on it the imperial seal and setting a guard to watch over it for three days. During these days both sides imposed upon themselves strict fast and made intense prayer. After three days the patriarch and the emperor in the presence of the Council opened the tomb with its relics: the scroll with the Orthodox confession was held by Saint Euphemia in her right hand, and the scroll of the heretics lay at her feet. Saint Euphemia, as though alive, raised her hand and gave the scroll to the patriarch. After this miracle many of the hesitant accepted the Orthodox confession, while those remaining obstinant in the heresy were consigned to the Council's condemnation and excommunication.
After an invasion by the Persians during the VII Century, the relics of Saint Euphemia were transferred from Chalcedon to Constantinople, into a newly built church dedicated in her name. Many years later, during the period of the Iconoclast heresy, the reliquary with the relics of the saint was cast into the sea -- by order of the Iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian (716-741). The reliquary was rescued from the sea by the ship-owning brothers Sergios and Sergonos, who gave it over to the local bishop. The holy bishop ordered that the relics be preserved in secret, beneathe a crypt, since the Iconoclast heresy was continuing to rage. A small church was built over the relics, and over the reliquary was put a board with an inscription stating whose relics rested therein. When the Iconoclast heresy was finally condemned at the holy Seventh OEcumenical Council (in the year 787), -- during the time of Sainted Tarasios, Patriarch of Constantinople (784-806) and the emperor Constantine VI (780-797) and his mother Saint Irene (797-802), -- the relics of the holy GreatMartyress Euphemia were once again solemnly transferred to Constantinople.
The Holy Martyr Kindeios was a presbyter in the village of Sida, in Pamphylia, Asia Minor. During the time of the persecution against Christians by the emperor Diocletian (284-305), Saint Kindeios was arrested and as a Christian sentenced to burning. The soldiers leading him to execution along the way encountered a wood-cutter with a large bundle of firewood, and by force they confiscated the firewood as kindling for the bon-fire. But Saint Kindeios demanded 30 copper coins of them to pay the wood-cutter, and then he took up the burden upon his own shoulders and carried it to the place of execution. With the help of God, Saint Kindeios even in the bon-fire remained a steadfast warrior of Christ, and amidst the flames he found within himself the strength to call the people standing about to accept the true faith and the grace of the Lord. At this point a strong thunderstorm broke out with a downpour of rain, and the bon-fire went out. When the storm abated, the holy martyr peacefully gave up his soul to Christ. Present at the martyrdom was a pagan priest who listened to the preaching of the holy Martyr Kindeios, and he together with his wife came to believe in Christ, and it was they who consigned to burial the body of the holy Martyr Kindeios.
The Holy Martyrs Proklos and Ilarion were natives of the village of Kalipta, near Ancyra, and they suffered during the time of a persecution under the emperor Trajan (98-117). Saint Proklos was put under arrest first. Brought before the governor Maximus, he fearlessly confessed his faith in Christ. The governor decided to compel the saint by force to submit himself to the emperor to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. During the time of tortures, the martyr predicted to Maximus, that soon he himself would be compelled to confess Christ as the True God. They forced the martyr to run after the chariot of the governor, heading towards the village Kalipta. Exhausted along the way, Saint Proklos prayed, that the Lord would halt the chariot. By the power of God the chariot halted, and no sort of force could move it from the spot. The dignitary sitting in it was as it were petrified and remained unmoving until such time, at the demand of the martyr, that he would sign a statement with a confession of Christ; only after this was the chariot with the governor able to continue on its way.
The humiliated pagan took fierce revenge on Saint Proklos: after many tortures he commanded that he be led out beyond the city, tied to a pillar and executed with arrows. The soldiers, leading saint Proklos to execution, told him to give in and save his life, but the saint said that they should do what they had been ordered.
Along the way to the place of killing, there met them the nephew of Saint Proklos, Ilarion, who with tears hugged his martyr-uncle and also confessed himself a Christian. The soldiers seized him, and he was thrown into prison. The holy Martyr Proklos beneathe the hail of arrows prayed for his tormentors and with prayer gave up his soul to God.
Saint Ilarion, having been brought to trial, with the same fearlessness as Saint Proklos confessed himself a Christian, and after tortures he was sentenced to death. They tied the martyr's hands and dragged him by his feet through the city, wounded and bloody, and then they beheaded him 3 days after the death of his uncle, the holy Martyr Proklos. Christians buried them together in a single grave.
The Monk Michael Maleinos was born about the year 894 in the Charsian region (Cappadocia) and at Baptism he received the name Manuel. He was of the same lineage with the Byzantine emperor Leo VI the Wise (886-911). At age 18 Manuel went off to Bithynia, to the Kimineia monastery under the guidance of the elder, John Heladites, who vowed him into monasticism with the name Michael. Fulfilling a very difficult obedience in spite of his illustrious lineage, he demonstrated an example of great humility.
After the passage of a certain while he was vouchsafed the grace of the priesthood. Constantly studying the Holy Scripture, the Monk Michael showed how the priesthood ought to be properly conjoined with monasticism, -- he attained to an high degree of dispassion and acquired the gift of perspicacity. He was very compassionate and kindly towards people, he could not let remain without help and consolation those who were in need and in sorrow, and by his ardent prayer he accomplished many miracles.
After much monastic effort under the guidance of the elder John, the Monk Michael besought of him blessing for a solitary life in a cave, Five days of the week he spent at prayerful concentration and only on Saturday and Sunday did he come to the monastery for participation in Divine-services and communion of the Holy Mysteries.
By his example of sublime spiritual life the holy hermit attracted many seeking after salvation. In a desolate place called Dry Lake, the Monk Michael founded a monastery for the brethren gathering to him, and gave it a strict ustav (monastic-rule). When the monastery was secure, the Monk Michael went to a still more remote place and built there a new monastery. By the efforts of the holy abba, all the Kumineia mountain was covered over by monastic communities, where constantly prayers were raised up for all the world to the Throne of the Most-High.
About the year 953 amongst the brethren entered the youth Abraham, flourishing under the guidance of Saint Michael, who gave him the name Athanasias. Later on the Monk Athanasias (Comm. 5 July) himself founded the reknown Athos Laura, the first life-in-common monastery on the Holy Mountain. In the building of the Laura great help was rendered to the Monk Athanasias by the nephew of the Monk Michael -- the later Byzantine emperor Nicephoros Phokas (963-969), who in visiting his uncle met also Athanasias. After fifty years of incessant monastic effort the monk Michael Maleinos peacefully expired to the Lord in the year 962.
The Holy Martyrs Theodore (Feodor) the Varangian and his son John lived at Kiev in the X Century, when the Varangians, ancestors of the present-day Swedes and Norwegians accepted a particularly active role in the governance and military life of Rus'. Merchants and soldiers, they opened up new trade routes to Byzantium and to the East, they took part in campaigns against Tsar'grad (i.e. Constantinople), and they constituted a significant part of the populace of ancient Kiev and the princely mercenary retinues. The chief trade route of Rus' -- from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea -- was then called "the Way from the Varangians to the Greeks".
The chieftains and organisers of the early Russian realm relied upon their Varangian retinues in their undertakings. Just like the Slavs, among whom they lived, many of the sea-faring newcomers under the influence of the Byzantine Church accepted holy Baptism. Kievan Rus' occupied a middle place between the pagan Scandinavians and the Orthodox Byzantines, whereby there prevailed in the spiritual life at Kiev alternately in turn the vivifying influence of the Christian faith (under Blessed Askol'd in the years 860-882, under Igor and Saint Ol'ga in the years 940-950), and then in alternation the destructive whirlwind of paganism, blowing down from the North from the Varangian Sea (under the reign of Oleg, killing Askol'd in 882; under the revolt of the Drevliani murdering Igor in 945; under prince Svyatoslav, refusing to accept Baptism despite the insistence of his mother, Equal-to-the-Apostles Ol'ga).
When in 972 (other sources give 970) Svyatoslav was killed by the Pechenegs, the great-princedom of Kiev became the undertaking of his eldest son, Yaropolk. Oleg the middle son held the Drevlianian land, while Vladimir the youngest son held Novgorod. The reign of Yaropolk (970-978), just like that of his grandmother Ol'ga, again became a time of predominating Christian influence in the spiritual life of Rus'. Yaropolk himself, in the opinion of historians, confessed Christianity, although possibly of the Latin rite, and this did not at all correspond to the interests of the Scandinavian mercenary retinue -- pagans, who were accustomed to consider Kiev a bulwark of their own influence in the Slavic lands. Their leaders strove to create discord between the brothers themselves, they incited a fratricidal war of Yaropolk with Oleg, and after this when Oleg was killed, they supported Vladimir in a struggle against Yaropolk.
The future Baptiser of Rus' started on his way as a convinced pagan and he relied upon the Varangians, especially those having come to him from over the sea, as his military force. His campaign against Kiev in 978, crowned with complete success, pursued not only military-political aims: it was also a religious campaign of Russo-Varangian paganism against the outgrowth of Kievan Christianity. On 11 June 978 Vladimir "sat on the throne of his father at Kiev", and the hapless Yaropolk, invited by his brother for negotiations, upon his arrival in the entrance hall was treacherously murdered by two Varangians stabbing him with swords. For the intimidation of the Kievans, among whom were already many Christians both Russian and Varangian, to renew and strengthen with new idols, in the pagan sanctuary human sacrifices were made -- til then a practise unknown to the Dniepr' Slavs. In the chronicles it says about the setting up of idols by Vladimir: "And they brought to them sacrifices, acclaiming them gods, and they brought to them their own sons and daughters, and these sacrifices went to the devils... both the Russian land and this hill were defiled with blood".
Apparently, to this first period of the triumph of paganism at Kiev with the coming to rule of Vladimir, there may have followed the destruction of the holy Martyrs Theodore (Feodor) and his son John, -- which possibly in this case would set the date as 12 July 978. But it is probable otherwise, that the exploit of the holy Kievan Varangian-martyrs took place in the year 983, when the wave of pagan reaction rolled not only through Rus', but throughout all the Slavic-Germanic world. Against Christ and the Church almost simultaneously there rose up pagans in Denmark, Germany, the Baltic Slavic principalities, and everywhere the unrest was accompanied by the destruction of churches, and by the killing of clergy and Christian confessors. This was the year Vladimir went on campaign against the Lithuanian tribe of the Yatvyagi, and gained victory over them. In recognition of this victory the Kievan pagan-priests also decided again to make a bloody sacrificial offering.
...There lived among the Kievans, -- reports the Monk Nestor the Chronicler, -- a Varangian by the name of Feodor, for a long time before this in military service at Byzantium and there having accepted holy Baptism. His pagan name, preserved in the term "Turov pagan-temple", was Tur (Scandinavian Thor) or Utor (Scandinavian Ottar), and in the old manuscripts is met with also this other signature. Feodor had a son John, a pious and handsome youth, confessing Christianity like his father.
"And said the elders and boyars: let us cast lots upon the lads and maidens, upon whom it fall, that one we shall slaughter in sacrifice to the gods". Evidently not unintentionally the lots, thrown by the pagan priests, fell upon the Christian John.
When the messengers told Feodor, that his son "the gods themselves had chosen, that we may offer him to them in sacrifice", the old warrior decisively answered: "This is not a god, but wood. Today it is, and tomorrow it rots. They do not eat, nor drink nor speak, but are crafted by human hands from wood. God however is One, He it is the Greeks do serve and worship. He created heaven and earth, the stars and the moon, the sun and man, and foreordained him to live upon the earth. But these gods what have they created? They themselves are made. I shalt not give my son over to devils".
This was a direct challenge by the Christian to the customs and beliefs of the pagans. An enraged crowd of pagans rushed at Feodor, smashed up his courtyard, and surrounded the house. Feodor, in the words of the chronicler, "stood at the entrance-way with his son", and bravely with weapon in hand he met the enemy. (The entrance-way in old Russian houses as mentioned was set up on posts of a roofed gallery of the second storey, to which a ladder led up). He calmly gazed upon the devil-driven pagans and said: "If they be gods, let them dispatch one of the gods to take my son". Seeing, that in a fair fight with them there would be no overcoming Feodor and John -- brave and seasoned warriors, the besiegers knocked down the gallery posts, and when they were broken, the crowd rushed upon the confessors and murdered them...
Already during the era of the Monk Nestor, less than an hundred years after the confessor's deed of the Varangians, the Russian Orthodox Church venerated them within the assembly of the saints. Feodor and John became the first martyrs for the holy Orthodox faith in the Russian land. They were called the first "Russian citizens of the heavenly city" by the transcriber of the Kievo-Pechersk Paterikon, Sainted-Bishop Simon of Suzdal' (+ 1226, Comm. 10 May). The last of the bloody pagan sacrifices at Kiev became the first holy Christian sacrifice -- with a co-suffering for Christ. The pathway "from the Varangians to the Greeks" became for Rus' the pathway from paganism to Orthodoxy, from darkness to light.
On the place of the martyrdom of the Varangians, holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir later on erected the Desyatin Church of the Uspenie (Dormition, Repose) of the MostHoly Mother of God, consecrated on 12 May 996 (celebrated 12 May). The relics of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Ol'ga were transferred into it in the year 1007. Eight years later it was destined to become the final resting place of Saint Vladimir himself, -- the Baptiser of the Russian land, and in 1044 his son, Yaroslav the Wise, transferred into the church the remains of his uncles, Yaropolk and Oleg, previously "having baptised the bones". Evidently, this final matter was called for by the requirement of a church rule about repeating a baptism of a Christian in the absence of reliable witnessing of a first baptism. But on the other hand, in old Kiev they ascribed great significance to ancient-Christian sayings about the possibility through an especial mercy of God of an after-death making of the sacrament of Baptism over people, having died outside the community of the Church. Such an account is read, for example, in the reknown artifact of old-Russian instructive literature -- "the Izbornik [article-collection] of 1076", belonging to the son of Yaroslav the Wise, noble prince Svyatoslav (+ 1076).
...Wondrous is God in His saints. Time does not spare stones and bronze, but the lower framework of the wooden house of the holy Varangrian martyrs, burned a thousand years previous, have been preserved to our day: it was discovered in the year 1908, during the time of excavation at Kiev at the altar of the Desyatin church.
The MonkMartyr Simon of Volomsk, in the world Simeon, son of the peasant Mikhail from the vicinity of Volokolamsk, was born in the year 1586. At 24 years of age, after long pilgrimage through Orthodox monasteries, he took monastic vows at the Pinegsk Makar'ev monastery, and in the year 1613 he settled 80 versts to the southwest of Ustiug at the River Kichmenga, in the Volomsk forest. Here he spent five years alone, remote from people; he nourished himself with vegetables which he himself cultivated, and sometimes indeed asked for bread in some settlement. When lovers of the quiet life began to gather to him, the Monk Simon, through a grant of tsar Mikhail Feodorovich and with the blessing of the Rostov metropolitan Varlaam, erected a temple in honour of the Cross of the Lord, and in 1620 was made head of the monastery founded by him. A strict ascetic, serving as an example to all in virtue, love of toil, fasting and prayer, he was wickedly murdered in his own monastery on 12 July 1641. The body of the Monk Simon with reverence was buried on the left side of the church built by him.
Veneration of the monk began in 1646 after gracious manifestations witnessed to of his relics. His life was compiled in the XVII Century.
The Holy Martyress Golinducha, in Baptism Mary, lived in Persia during the reign of Chosroes I the Elder. She was the wife of the chief magician of the Persian empire. Endowed with a lucid mind, Golinducha perceived the falseness of the pagan wisdom, and she pondered much about what the true faith might be. Having learned about the existence of Christianity, she very much wanted to learn what it taught. Soon through the providence of God, her wish was fulfilled. In sleep an Angel showed Golinducha the place of torment of sinners and the paradise, in which dwell the believers in Christ, the True God. After this dream she began fervently to pray to the True God, so that He might help her become a Christian. The Angel of God directed Golinducha to a Christian priest, from whom she received holy Baptism with the name Mary.
After Baptism she left her magician-husband, and he made complaint to the emperor Chosroes. The emperor himself, and dignitaries sent by him, and illustrious women all urged Golinducha to return to her husband. For her decisive refusal the emperor sentenced her to be locked up in life imprisonment. In prison Saint Mary-Golinducha spent 18 years.
During the reign of the successor of the emperor Chosroes, his son Ormisdas, in Persia there had arrived an ambassador of the Byzantine emperor Mauricius, -- Aristoboulos. Having learned, that for many years already Mary the Christian was languishing in prison, Aristoboulos with the permission of the emperor repeatedly visited her in prison and taught her to sing the Psalms of David. After the departure of Aristoboulos, Ormisdas gave orders to present Saint Mary-Golinducha before him and for a long time he tortured her, subjecting her to all sorts of beatings and torments. But in all the torments through the intercession of God the saint was preserved unharmed. When they gave her over for defilement, the Lord made her invisible to the impious and preserved her purity. Finally the emperor gave orders to cut off the head of the martyress, but the Lord sheltered her from the hand of the executioner and brought her to Christians living in concealment.
When the persecution against Christians in Persia ceased during the reign of Chosroes II, -- who occupied the throne with the help of the Byzantine emperor Mauricius, Saint Mary-Golinducha began openly to preach the Christian faith.
At the end of her life Saint Mary made pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where she prayed at the tomb of the Lord and other holy places. On the return journey she died (+ 591) in the church of the holy Martyr Sergios at Niziba.
Saint John was born the son of a nobleman during the reign of King Davit Kuropalates.
For his love of Christ he left his family and the world to be tonsured a monk. After informing the royal court of his decision, St. John received a blessing from his spiritual father to travel to Greece, where he settled at a monastery on Mt. Olympus.
At that time, as a “sign of friendship,” the Byzantine emperor returned the Georgian lands he had conquered to King Davit Kuropalates, but as a “sign of dedication,” he demanded that children of the nobility be sent as surety. Among those sent to Byzantium was St. John’s son, Ekvtime. St. John begged the Byzantine emperor to release his son, and when Ekvtime was finally freed, John took him back with him to the Monastery of St. Athanasius the Athonite (the Great Lavra).
At that time the famed Georgian military commander Tornike Eristavi came to visit St. John. Tornike was soon tonsured a monk and given the new name John (the saint is commemorated as John-Tornike), and he settled at the Monastery of St. Athanasius the Athonite as well.
Soon the Georgian faithful began to flock to the Monastery of St. Athanasius, and John withdrew from the monastery to a more secluded place, where he constructed a cell and a church in honor of St. John the Theologian. Two more churches were later built in that same area in honor of theMost Holy Theotokos and St. John the Baptist. In such a way the celebrated Iveron Monastery of Mt. Athos was established, with St. John as its first abbot.
After the repose of his faithful friend and assistant St. John-Tornike, it became difficult for St. John to continue to labor on the Holy Mountain. He and several of his disciples planned to leave Athos, but in the end they remained at the insistence of the Byzantine emperor.
John soon fell ill with gout and was bedridden for several years. Prior to his death he summoned his son, Ekvtime, confessed to him his sins, and designated him abbot of the Iveron Monastery. He told his son that St. Giorgi (later “the Builder”) should succeed him as abbot, then blessed all the brothers and “fell asleep among the ranks of the righteous in the arms of his son.”
St. Ekvtime robed the holy relics of his fleshly and spiritual father in costly linens and later erected a church in honor of the Archangels over his grave.
St. Gabriel was a monk of the IveronMonastery on Mt. Athos. In summer he would withdraw to the inaccessible cliffs, and in winter he would return to the monastery and observe a strict rule of silence. Clad in a coarse robe and eating nothing but roots and herbs, St. Gabriel was truly a “heavenly man and an earthly angel.”
Once, at dusk, the monks of the monastery beheld a pillar of light shining forth upon the sea. The vision lasted for several days, and finally monks from every monastery on the Holy Mountain gathered and descended together to the sea.
They beheld an icon of the Mother of God shining brilliantly and floating upright upon the surface of the water. The fathers lowered a boat onto the water, hoping to bring the icon back with them to the shore, but each time their boat approached the icon, it drifted farther out to sea.
Finally the frustrated monks offered prayers and supplications to God in order to discern His will, and the Most Holy Theotokos appeared in a divine revelation and told them that the monk Gabriel alone was worthy to bring the icon bearing her image out from the sea. At the same time, she appeared to the God-fearing Gabriel and told him, “Enter onto the sea and walk out upon the waves with faith, and I will send my love and mercy upon all the monks of this monastery.”
The elders of Mt. Athos located the rocky dwelling of the hermit Gabriel not far from the Iveron Monastery. They brought Gabriel with them and went down to the sea with hymns and censing. Gabriel stepped out onto the water and, walking upon the waves as upon dry land, approached the icon. At the same time, the holy image drew nearer to him. Clutching the holy icon to his breast, Gabriel crossed back over the waves and delivered the icon safely to the shore. (The story of the miraculous Iveron Icon of the Theotokos is recounted in detail in the commemorations for February 12.)
St. Gabriel reposed peacefully on Mt. Athos.
Righteous Veronica was, according to tradition, that woman with the issue of blood, who received healing by a touch to the hem of the robe of Christ (Mt. 9: 20-22). She gave the Lord a veil, with which the Lord wiped His face, when He went to crucifixion. On the veil was imaged the Face of the Lord.
The Monk Stephanos Savvaites, nephew of Saint John of Damascus (Comm. on 4 December), was born in the year 725. The ten year old lad entered the Lavra of Saint Savva and spent his whole life at this monastery, sometimes going out into the wilderness for solitary ascetic deeds. The monk Stephanos was bestowed the gifts of wonder-working and perspicacity: he healed the sick, cast out devils, and discerned the thoughts of those coming to him for counsel. He died in the year 724, foretelling in advance the day of his death. The life of the monk was compiled by his student Leontios.
St. Mildred was the daughter of King Merewald of Magonset and his wife, St. Ermenburga (alias Aebbe of Minster-in-Thanet); and therefore sister of SS. Milburga and Milgith. At an early age, her mother sent her to be educated at Chelles in France, where many English ladies were trained to a saintly life.
A young nobleman, related to the Abbess of Chelles, entreated her to arrange that he might marry this English princess. The abbess tried to persuade her, but Mildred said her mother had sent her there to be taught, not to be married, and all the abbess's advice, threats and blows failed to persuade her to accept the alliance offered to her. At last the abbess shut her up in an oven in which she had made a great fire; but after three hours, when she expected to find not only her flesh but her very bones burnt to ashes, the young saint came out unhurt and radiant with joy and beauty. The faithful, hearing of the miracle, venerated Mildred as a saint; but the abbess, more infuriated than ever, threw her on the ground, beat, kicked and scratched her and tore out a handful of her hair. Mildred found means to send her mother a letter, enclosing some of her hair, torn from her head by the violence of the abbess; and Queen Ermenburga soon sent ships to fetch her daughter. The abbess, fearing that her evil deeds should be made known, would, on no account, give permission for her departure. Mildred, however, fled by night; but, having in her haste forgotten some ecclesiastical vestments and a nail of the cross of Christ which she valued extremely, she managed to return for them and brought them safely away. Upon her arrival back in England, she landed at Ebbsfleet where she found a great square stone, miraculously prepared for her to step on from the ship. The stone received, and retained, the mark of her foot and was afterwards removed to the Abbey of Minster-in-Thanet and kept there in memory of her. Many diseases are said to have been cured for centuries after, by water containing a little dust from this stone. It was often removed from its first situation, until an oratory was built for it.
With her mother's consent, Mildred joined her at her foundation of Minster-in-Thanet. She was given the veil by Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, at the same time as seventy other nuns. On St. Ermenburga's death, Mildred succeeded her as Abbess of the community, to whom she set a holy example and by whom she was much beloved. An old story is recorded that one night, while she was praying in the church of her monastery, the devil blew out her candle, but an angel drove him away and relighted it for her.
Mildred died at Minster of a lingering and painful complaint, on 30th July AD 732. She was succeeded by St. Edburga of Minster-in-Thanet. During the latter's rule, it apparently happened that the bell-ringer fell asleep before the altar. The departed Mildred awoke him with a box on the ear, exclaiming, "This is the oratory, not the dormitory!"
She continued to be an extremely popular saint, eclipsing the fame of St. Augustine, in the immediate neighbourhood of her monastery, where the place that used to be proudly pointed out as that of his landing came to be better known as "St Mildred's Rock." In 1033, St. Mildred was translated to St. Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury and minor relics also passed from here to Deventer in Holland where she was honoured on 17th July; though her feast, in England, is three days earlier. There was, however, a rival set of relics which were said to have been hidden at Lyming, with those of her sister, Milgitha, during the Viking devastation. These were given to the Religious Hospital of St. Gregory in Canterbury, by Archbishop Lanfranc in 1085. Mildred is represented in art holding a church and accompanied by three geese, as she was protector against damage by such wild birds.
Sainted Julian, Bishop of Cenomanea, was elevated to bishop by the Apostle Peter. There exists the opinion that he -- is one and the same person with Simon the Leper (Mk. 14, 3), in Baptism receiving the name Julian.
The Apostle Peter sent Saint Julian to preach the Gospel in Gaul.
He arrived in Cenomanea (the region of the River Po in the north of present-day Italy) and settled into a small hut out beyond a city (probably Cremona), and he began to preach among the pagans. The idol-worshippers at first listened to him with distrust, but the preaching of the saint was accompanied by great wonders. By prayer Sainted Julian healed various of the sick. Gradually there began to flock to him a great multitude of people, asking for help. In healing bodily infirmities, Sainted Julian healed also the souls, enlightening those coming to him by the light of faith in Christ.
In order to quench the thirst of his numerous visitors, Sainted Julian, having prayed to the Lord, struck his staff on the ground and from that dry place there came forth a spring of water. This wonder converted many pagans to Christianity. One time the Sainted Bishop wanted to see the local prince. At the gate of the prince's dwelling there sat a blind man whom Saint Julian took pity on, and having prayed, gave him his sight. The prince came out towards the Sainted Bishop, and having only just learned that he had worked this miracle, he fell down at the feet of the bishop, requesting Baptism. Having catechised the prince and his family, Saint Julian imposed on them a three-day fast, and then he fulfilled over them the mystery of Baptism.
On the example of the prince, the majority of his subjects also converted to Christ. The prince donated his own home to the bishop for the constructing of a temple in it and he provided the Church with means. Saint Julian fervently concerned himself with the spiritual enlightening of his flock and as before he healed the sick. Deeply affected by the grief of parents, the sainted bishop by his own prayer entreated of God the raising up of their dead children to life. The holy Bishop Julian remained long on his throne, teaching his flock the way to Heaven. The Sainted Bishop died in extreme old age (I Cent.). To the end of his days he preached about Christ and he completely eradicated idol-worship in the land of Cenomanea.
The Holy Martyr Serapion suffered for Christ before the Emperor Severus (193-211). As a Christian he was brought to judgment before the governor Achilles. The holy martyr firmly announced to the pagans about his faith in Christ and he was subjected to inhuman torments, after which he was thrown into prison.
Healed by the Lord Jesus Christ, he was brought to the judgment place and he presented himself before the judge completely healthy. The enraged pagans sentenced the saint to burning. Thrown into a bon-fire, he gave up his soul to God (+ c. 205).
The Holy Martyr Marcian, a native of Lyceian Iconium, while still at a youthful age converted many to Christ by his fiery preaching. For his zealousness the idol-worshippers subjected the saint to bodily punishment, and then sent him to Cappadocia to the governor Perennias, who now by persuasion now by threatening, attempted to turn away the youth from the Truth -- Christ. Saint Marcian fearlessly testified about the truthfulness of the Christian faith and he accused Perennias of worshipping soul-less idols. The enraged governor gave orders to subject the saint to severe torments, but in his sufferings the saint remained steadfast in his faithfulness to Christ. They cut off his head when he prayed, giving thanks to God for his fate (+258).
Saint Aquila, Disciple from the Seventy. It is possible, that he was a disciple of the Apostle Paul, a native of Pontus and a Jew, living in the city of Rome with his wife Priscilla (Comm. 13 February). During the reign of the emperor Claudius (41-54) all the Jews were banished from Rome. Saint Aquilla and his wife were compelled to leave. They settled in Corinth. A short while afterwards the holy Apostle Paul arrived there from Athens preaching the Gospel. Having made the acquaintance of Aquila, he began to live at his house and laboured together with him over the making of tents.
Having accepted Baptism from the Apostle Paul, Aquila and Priscilla bacame his devoted and zealous disciples. They accompanied the apostle to Ephesus. The Apostle Paul instructed them to continue the preaching of the Gospel at Ephesus, and he himself set off to Jerusalem, in order to be present there for the feast of Pentecost. At Ephesus Aquila and Priscilla heard the bold preaching of a new-comer from Alexandria, the Jew Apollos, who had been instructed in the fundamentals of the faith, but knew only the baptism of John the ForeRunner [i.e. John the Baptist]. They called him over to themselves and explained more precisely about the way of the Lord.
After the death of the emperor Claudius, Jews were permitted to return to Italy, and Aquila and Priscilla then returned to Rome. The Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans recollects about his faithful disciples: "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus, who put forth their heads for my soul, whom I do not alone thank, but also all the Church of the Gentiles and the church of their household" (Rom. 16: 3-4). Saint Aquila did not long dwell in Rome: the Apostle Paul made him a bishop in Asia. Saint Aquila zealously laboured at preaching the Gospel in Asia, Achaeia and Herakleia: he converted pagans to Christ, he confirmed in the faith newly-converted Christians, he established presbyters and destroyed idols. Saint Priscilla constantly assisted him in the apostolic work. Saint Aquila finished his life a martyr: pagans murdered him. According to the tradition of the Church, Saint Priscilla was killed together with him.
The Monk Stefan of Makhrisch was a native of Kiev. He accepted monasticism at the Pechersk monastery, where he spent several years in deeds of obedience and prayer. The oppressions by the Papists compelled him to journey on to Moscow, where GreatPrince Ivan II (1353-1359) graciously received him, permitting him to settle in the locale of Makhrisch not far from Gorodisch, 35 versts from the Sergeev wilderness-monastery.
Having built himself a cell and spending his life at ascetic labours, and esteeming silence, he did not accept those wishing to join him. But then he yielded to the requests, and by such manner, in 1358 he founded a monastery, in which he was established as hegumen.
Living near his monastery were the Yurkov brothers, fearing that the land which they ruled might be given over to the monastery, and they threatened to kill the holy ascetic. The admonitions of the monk did not help. Saint Stefan then moved to a different place. Sixty versts north of Vologda, at the River Avnezha, he founded with his disciple Grigory a wilderness-monastery in the Name of the Holy Trinity. GreatPrince Dimitrii Ioannovich sent books and other liturgical items to the Avnezhsk wilderness, but the Monk Stefan sent them in turn to the Makhrisch monastery. Having returned to his monastery, Saint Stefan ordered life in it according to a "life in common" ustav (rule).
When the Monk Sergei of radonezh moved form his monastery, in order to find a place for his ascetic deeds, the Monk Stefan then received him, and gave the great ascetic Sergei his own disciple Simon, who knew the surrounding area quite well. The Monk Sergei settled together with Simon on the island of Kirzhach, where he founded a monastery.
Saint Stefan was strict with himself and indulgent towards others, he it was that worked for the monastery the hardest of all, he zealously guided the brethren to the ways of salvation with gentle and quiet talks, and he wore clothing very old and coarse.
The monk lived to extreme old age, became a schema-monk and died in 1406 on 14 July. In 1550 during the construction of a new stone church in the Name of the Holy Trinity, his holy remains were uncovered undecayed. They were glorified by blessings of help in various sicknesses and misfortunes for all calling on the name of the saint.
The Holy Martyr Justus was a Roman pagan-soldier. The Life-Creating Cross of the Lord appeared to him in a vision. Justus believed in Christ and gave away his possessions to the poor. By decree of the official of Magnesia, Justus as a Christian was taken to trial. After various tortures the holy martyr was thrown into a bon-fire and therein gave up his soul to God, but the flames did not harm his body.
The Monk Hellios lived and died in the IV Century. Given over at childhood to a monastery, he was raised in piety, temperance and chastity.
Having grown up, he set out into the Egyptian wilderness, where by incessant ascetic deeds he attained deep ability in the spiritual life: he was endowed with the gift of perspicacity, he knew all the thoughts and disposition of the monks conversing with him. Great faith, simplicity of soul and deep humility allowed Saint Hellios to command wild animals. One time, when the monk carried an heavy load to the wilderness monastery and had become very tired, and having prayed, he called a wild donkey to himself and placed on it his burden. The donkey meekly carried the load to the place and was set free to return to the wilderness. Another time, when the Monk Hellios needed to cross over a river and there was no boat, he called forth from the water a crocodile and, standing on its back, he happily crossed to the opposite shore.
One of the young novices of the monastery, whom Saint Hellios visited with, besought him to take him along into the deep wilderness. The Monk Hellios warned the youth about the great work, exploits and temptations, which inevitably beset all the hermits, but since the novice continued fervently to ask, he took him along. On the first night the novice, frightened by terrible visions, in trembling ran to the cave to the Monk Hellios. The monk comforted and calmed him down and ordered him to return. Having secured the cave with the sign of the cross, the monk said that the young hermit should not fear, since these apparitions would appear no more. Trusting the word of the saint, the novice decided to remain in solitude and afterwards attained such perfection, that he was granted, like his preceptor Hellios, to receive at the necessary time food from an Angel.
In extreme old age the Monk Hellios peacefully settled into the Heavenly mansions.
Saint Onesimus the Wonderworker was born in Caesarea in Palestine at the beginning of the fourth century, and entered a monastery in Ephesus.
Later, he founded a monastery at Magnesia and remained there for the rest of his life. He performed many miracles.
Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Great Prince Vladimir: Few names in the annals of history can compare in significance with the name of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir, the Baptiser of Rus', who stands forever at the onset of the foreordained spiritual destiny of the Russian Church and the Russian Orthodox people. Vladimir was the grandson of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Olga, and he was the son of Svyatoslav (+ 972). His mother, Malusha (+ 1001) -- was the daughter of Malk Liubechanin, whom historians identify with Mal, prince of the Drevlyani. Having subdued an uprising of the Drevlyani and conquered their cities, Princess Olga gave orders to execute prince Mal, for his attempt to marry her after his murder of her husband Igor, and she took to herself the children of Mal, Dobrynya and Malusha. Dobrynya grew up to be a valiant brave warrior, endowed with a mind for state affairs, and he was later on an excellent help to his nephew Vladimir in matters of military and state administration.
The "capable girl" Malusha became a Christian (together with GreatPrincess Olga at Tsar'grad), but she preserved in herself a bit of the mysterious darkness of the pagan Drevlyani forests. And thus she fell in love with the austere warrior Svyatoslav, who against the will of his mother Olga made her his wife. The enraged Olga, reckoning as unseemly the marriage of her "housekeeper" and captive servant with her son Svyatoslav, heir to the Great Kiev principality, sent Malusha away to her own native region not far off from Vybut'. And there in about the year 960 was born the boy, called with the Russian pagan name -- Volodimir, meaning peaceful ruler, ruling with a special talent for peace.
In the year 970 Svyatoslav set out on a campaign from which he was fated not to return. He had divided the Russian Land amongst his three sons. At Kiev Yaropolk was prince; at Ovrucha, the centre of the Drevlyani lands, there was Oleg; at Novgorod there was Vladimir. His first years as prince we see Vladimir as a fierce pagan. He heads a campaign, in which the whole of pagan Rus' is sympathetic to him, against Yaropolk the Christian, or in any case, according to the chronicles, "having given great freedom to the Christians", on 11 July 978 he enters into Kiev, having become the "sole ruler" of the Kiev realm, "having subdued the surrounding lands, some -- by peaceful means, and the unsubmissive ones -- by the sword".
Young Vladimir indulged himself in a wild sensuous life, though far from being the libertine that they sometimes portray him. He "shepherded his land with truth, valour and reason", as a good and diligent master, of necessity he extended and defended its boundaries by force of arms, and in returning from military campaign, he made for his companions and for all Kiev liberal and merry feastings.
But the Lord prepared him for another task. Where sin increases, there -- in the words of the Apostle, -- grace abounds. "And upon him did come visitation of the MostHigh, and the All-Merciful eye of the Good God didst gaze upon him, and shine forth the thought in his heart, of understanding the vanity of idolous delusion, and of appealing to the One God, Creator of all things both visible and invisible". The matter of the acceptance of Baptism was facilitated through external circumstances. The Byzantine empire was in upheaval under the blows of the mutinous regiments of Bardas Skliros and Bardas Phokas, each of which sought to gain the imperial throne. In these difficult circumstances the emperors -- the co-regent brothers Basil the Bulgar-Slayer and Constantine, turned for help to Vladimir.
Events unfolded quickly. In August 987 Bardas Phokas proclaimed himself emperor and moved against Constantinople, and in Autumn of that same year the emissaries of emperor Basil were at Kiev. "And having exhausted his (Basil's) wealth, it compelled him to enter into an alliance with the emperor of the Russes. They were his enemies, but he besought their help, -- writes one of the Arab chronicles of events in the 980's. -- And the emperor of the Russes did consent to this, and did make common cause with him".
In reward for his military help, Vladimir besought the hand of the emperors' sister Anna, which for the Byzantines was an unheard of audacity. Princesses of the imperial lineage did not go off to marry "barbarian" rulers, even though they be Christian. At this same time the emperor Otto the Great was seeking the hand of this Anna for his son, and he was refused, but herein regarding Vladimir Constantinople was obliged to consent.
An agreement was concluded, according to which Vladimir had to send in aid to the emperors six thousand Varangians, to accept holy Baptism, and under these conditions he would receive the hand of the imperial daughter Anna. Thus in the strife of human events the will of God directed the entering of Rus' into the graced bosom of the OEcumenical Church. GreatPrince Vladimir accepted Baptism and dispatched the military assistance to Byzantium. With the aid of the Russians, the mutineers were destroyed and Bardas Phokas killed. But the Greeks, gladdened by their unexpected deliverance, were in no hurry to fulfill their part of the agreement.
Vexed at the Greek duplicity, Prince Vladimir "hastened to collect his forces" and he moved "against Korsun, the Greek city", the ancient Chersonessus. The "impenetrable" rampart of the Byzantine realm on the Black Sea fell, and it was one of the vitally important hubs of the economic and mercantile links of the empire. This blow was so much felt, that its echo resounded throughout all the regions of Byzantium.
Vladimir again had the upper hand. His emissaries, the voevoda-commanders Oleg and Sjbern soon arrived in Tsar'grad for the imperial daughter. Eight days passed in Anna's preparation, during which time her brothers consoled her, stressing the significance of the opportunity before her: to enable the enlightening of the Russian realm and its lands, and to make them forever friends of the Romanoi-Byzantine realm. At Taurida Saint Vladimir awaited her, and to his titles there was added a new one -- Caesar (tsar', emperor). It required the haughty rulers of Constantinople to accede also in this -- to bestow upon their new brother-in-law the Caesar (i.e. imperial) insignia. In certain of the Greek historians, Saint Vladimir is termed from these times as a "mighty basileios-king", he coins money in the Byzantine style and is depicted on it with the symbols of imperial might: in imperial attire, and on his head -- the imperial crown, and in his right hand -- the sceptre with cross.
Together with the empress Anna, there arrived for the Russian cathedra-seat metropolitan Michael -- ordained by holy Patriarch Nicholas II Chrysobergos, and he came with his retinue and clergy, and many holy relics and other holy things. In ancient Chersonessus, where each stone brings to mind Saint Andrew the First-Called, there took place the marriage-crowning of Saint Vladimir and Blessed Anna, both reminiscent and likewise affirming the oneness of the Gospel good-news of Christ in Rus' and in Byzantium. Korsun, the "empress dowry", was returned to Byzantium. In the Spring of 988 the greatprince with his spouse set out through the Crimea, Taman' and the Azov lands, which had come into the complexion of his vast realm, on the trip of return to Kiev. Leading the greatprincely cortege with frequent moliebens and incessant priestly singing they carried crosses, icons and holy relics. It seemed, that the OEcumenical Holy Church was moving into the spacious Russian land, and renewed in the font of Baptism, Holy Rus' came forth to meet Christ and His Church.
There ensued the unforgettable and quite singular event in Russian history: the morning of the Baptism of the Kievans in the waters of the River Dneipr. On the evening beforehand, Saint Vladimir declared throughout the city: "If anyone on the morrow goeth not into the river -- be they rich or poor, beggar or slave -- that one be mine enemy". The sacred wish of the holy prince was fulfilled without a murmur: "all our land all at the same time did glorify Christ with the Father and the Holy Spirit".
It is difficult to overestimate the deep spiritual transformation -- effected by the prayers of Saint Vladimir, effected within the Russian people, in all the entirety of its life and world-outlook. In the pure Kievan waters, as in a "bath of regeneration", there was realised a mysteried transfiguration of the Russian spiritual element, the spiritual birth of the nation, called by God to yet unforeseen deeds of Christian service to mankind. -- "Then did the darkness of the idols begin to lift from us, and the dawn of Orthodoxy appear, and the Sun of the Gospel didst illumine our land". In memory of this sacred event, the renewal of Rus' by water and the Spirit, there was established within the Russian Church the custom of an annual church procession "to the water" on 1 August, combined afterwards with the feastday of the Bring-Forth of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord, in common with the Greek Church, and likewise the Russian Church feastday of the All-Merciful Saviour and the MostHoly Mother of God (established by Saint Andrei Bogoliubsky in the year 1164). In this combination of feasts there is found a precise expression of the Russian theological consciousness, for which both Baptism and the Cross are inseparable.
Everywhere throughout Holy Rus', from the ancient cities to the far outposts, Saint Vladimir gave orders to tumble down the pagan sanctuaries, to flog the idols, and in their place to chop along the hilly woods for churches, in which to consecrate altars for the Bloodless Sacrifice. Churches of God grew up along the face of the earth, at high elevated places, and at the bends of the rivers, along the ancient trail "from the Variangians to the Greeks" -- figuratively as road signs, and lamps of national holiness. As regards the famed church-building activity of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir, the Kiev Metropolitan Saint Ilarion (author of the "Word about the Law and Grace") exclaimed: "They demolished the pagan temples, and built up churches, they destroyed the idols and produced holy icons, the demons are fled, and the Cross hath sanctified the cities". From the early centuries of Christianity it was the custom to raise up churches upon the ruins of pagan sanctuaries or upon the blood of the holy martyrs. Following this practise, Saint Vladimir built the church of Saint Basil the Great upon an hill, where a sanctuary of Perun had been located, and he situated the stone church of the Uspenie-Dormition of the MostHoly Mother of God (Desyatinnaya) on the place of the martyrdom of the holy Varangian-Martyrs (Comm. 12 July). The magnificent temple intended to become the place of serving for the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus' -- and hence the primal-altar of the Russian Church, was built in five years: it was richly adorned with wall-fresco painting, crosses, icons and sacred vessels, brought from Korsun. The day of the consecration of the church of the MostHoly Mother of God, 12 May (in some manuscripts 11 May), was ordered by Saint Vladimir to be inserted as an annual celebration in the Church-kalendar lists. This event was tied in with other previous happenings for the celebration of 11 May, and it provided the new Church a twofold sense of succession. Under this day in the Saints is noted the churchly "renewal of Tsar'grad" -- dedicated by the holy emperor Saint Constantine as the new capital of the Roman Empire, the Constantine-city Constantinople, dedicated to the MostHoly Mother of God (330). And on this same day of 11 May, under holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Olga, there had been consecrated at Kiev the church of Sophia -- the Wisdom of God (in the year 960). Saint Vladimir, having had the cathedral church consecrated to the MostHoly Mother of God, followed the example of Saint Constantine in dedicating the capital city of the Russian Land, Kiev, to the Queen of Heaven.
And then there was bestown on the Church a tithe or tenth; and since this church had become the centre of the All-Russian gathering of churchly tithes, they called it the Desyatinnaya (Tithe) church. The most ancient text of the deed-grant document, or churchly ustav-rule by holy Prince Vladimir spoke thusly: "For I do bestow this church of the Holy Mother of God a tenth of all mine principality, and likewise throughout all the Russian Land from all the princely jurisdiction a tithe of squirrel-pelts, and from the merchant -- a tithe of the week, and from households each year -- a tenth of every herd and every livelihood, to the wondrous Mother of God and the wondrous Saviour". The ustav likewise specified "church people" as being free from the jurisdictional power of the prince and his "tiuni"-officials, and placed them under the jurisdiction of the metropolitan.
The chronicle has preserved a prayer of Saint Vladimir, with which he turned to the Almighty at the consecration of the Uspensky Desyatin-Tithe church: "O Lord God, look Thou down from Heaven and behold, and visit Thine vineyard, which Thy right-hand hath planted. And make this new people, whom Thou hast converted in heart and mind -- to know Thee, the True God. And look down upon this Thine church, which Thy unworthy servant hath built in the name of the Mother Who hath given birth to Thee, She the Ever-Virgin Mother of God. And whosoever doth pray in this church, let his prayer then be heard, on account of the prayers to the All-Pure Mother of God".
With the Desyatin-Tithe church and bishop Anastasii, certain historians have made a connection with the beginnings of Russian chronicle writing. At it were compiled the Vita-Life of Saint Ol'ga and the account of the Varangian-Martyrs in their original form, and likewise the "Account, How in the Taking of Korsun, Vladimir came to be Baptised". Here also there originated the early Greek redaction of the Vitae-Lives of the holy Martyrs Boris and Gleb.
The Kiev Metropolitan cathedra-seat during the time of Saint Vladimir was occupied successively by the Metropolitan Saint Michael (+ 15 June 991, Comm. 30 September), Metropolitan Theophylakt -- transferred to Kiev from the see of Armenian Sebasteia (991-997), Metropolitan Leontii (997-1008), and Metropolitan John I (1008-1037). Through their efforts the first dioceses of the Russian Church were opened: at Novgorod (its first representative was Sainted Joakim the Korsunite -- + 1030, compiler of the Joakimov Chronicle), Vladimir-Volyn (opened 11 May 992), Chernigov, Pereslavl', Belgorod, and Rostov. "And thus throughout all the cities and villages there were set up churches and monasteries, and the clergy did increase, and the Orthodox Faith did blossom forth and shine like the sun". To advance the faith amongst the newly enlightened people, learned people and schools were needed for their preparation. Saint Vladimir therefore with holy Metropolitan Michael "did command fathers and mothers to take their young children and send them to schools to learn reading and writing". Saint Joakim the Korsunite (+ 1030) set up such a school at Novgorod, and they did likewise in other cities. "And there were a multitude of schools of scholars, and of these were there a multitude of wisdom-loving philosophers".
With a firm hand Saint Vladimir held in check enemies at the frontiers, and he built cities with fortifications. He was the first in Russian history to set up a "notched boundary" -- a line of defensive points against nomadic peoples. "Volodimir did begin to set up cities along the Desna, along the Vystra, along the Trubezha, along the Sula and along the Stugna. And he did settle them with the Novgorodians, the Smol'yani, the Chuds and the Vyatichi. And he did war against the Pechenegs and defeated them". But the actual means was often the peaceful Christian preaching amongst the steppe pagans. In the Nikol'sk Chronicles under the year 990 was written: "And in that same year there came to Volodimir at Kiev four princes from the Bulgars and they were illumined with Divine Baptism". In the following year " there came the Pecheneg prince Kuchug and accepted the Greek faith, and he was baptised in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and did service to Vladimir with a pure heart". Under the influence of the holy prince there were baptised also several apparent foreigners, as for example, the Norwegian "koenig" (king") Olaf Trueggvason (+ 1000) who lived several years at Kiev, and also the reknown Torval'd the Wanderer -- founder of a monastery of Saint John the Precursor along the Dneipr near Polotsk, among others. In faraway Iceland the poet-skalds called God the "Protector of the Greeks and Russians".
Amidst the Christian preaching was also the reknown feastings of Saint Vladimir: after Liturgy on Sundays and Church Great-Feasts there were put out abundant feasting tables for the Kievans, they rang the bells, choirs sang praise, the "transported infirm" sang bylini-ballads and spiritual verses. On 12 May 996, for example, on the occasion of the consecration of the Desyatin-Tithe church, the prince "made a bright feast", "distributing goods to many of the poor, and destitute and wanderers, and through the churches and the monasteries. To the sick and the needy he delivered through the streets casks and barrels of mead, and bread, and meat, and fish, and cheese, desiring that all might come and eat, glorifying God". Feasts were likewise arrayed in honour of the victories of Kievan bogatyr-warriors, and the regiments of Vladimir's retinue -- of Dobrynya, Aleksandr Popovich, Rogda the Bold.
In the year 1007 Saint Vladimir transferred the relics of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Ol'ga to the Desyatin-Tithe church. And four years later, in 1011, there was also buried there his spouse and companion in many of his undertakings, the Blessed Empress Anna. After her death the prince entered into a new marriage -- with the young daughter of the German Graf Kuno von Enningen, grand-daughter of the emperor Otto the Great.
The era of Saint Vladimir was a crucial initial period for the state formation of Orthodox Rus'. The unification of the Slavic lands and the formation of state boundaries under the domain of the Riurikovichi resulted from a strenuous spiritual and political struggle with neighbouring tribes and states. The Baptism of Rus' by Orthodox Byzantium was a most important step in its state self-definition. The chief enemy of Vladimir became Boleslav the Brave, whose plans included the extensive unification of the West-Slavic and East-Slavic tribes under the aegis of Catholic Poland. This rivalry arose still back in the times, when Vladimir was still a pagan: "In the year 6489 (981). Volodimir went against the Lakhs and took their cities, Peremyshl', Cherven', and other cities, which be under Rus'". The final years of the X Century are likewise filled with the wars of Vladimir and Boleslav.
After a short lull (the first decade of the XI Century), the "great stand-off" enters into a new phase: in the year 1013 at Kiev a conspiracy against Saint Vladimir is discovered: Svyatopolk the Accursed, who is married to a daughter of Boleslav, yearns for power. The instigator of the conspiracy is the clergyman of Boleslav -- the Kolobzheg Catholic bishop Reibern.
The conspiracy of Svyatopolk and Reibern was an all-out threat to the historical existence of the Russian state and the Russian Church. Saint Vladimir took decisive measures. All the three involved were arrested, and Reibern soon died in prison.
Saint Vladimir did not take revenge on those that "opposed and hated" him. Under the pretense of feigned repentance, Svyatopolk was set free.
A new misfortune erupted in the North, at Novgorod. Yaroslav, still not so very much "the Wise" -- as he was later to go down in Russian history, in the year 1010 having become ruler of Novgorod, decided to defect from his father the greatprince of Kiev, and he formed his own separate army, moving on Kiev to demand the customary tribute and tithe. The unity of the Russian land, for which Saint Vladimir had struggled all his life, was threatened with ruin. In both anger and in sorrow Saint Vladimir gave orders to "secure the dams and set the bridges", and to prepare for a campaign against Novgorod. His powers were on the decline. In the preparations for his final campaign, happily not undertaken, the Baptiser of Rus' fell grievously ill and gave up his spirit to the Lord in the village of Spas-Berestov, on 15 July 1015. He had ruled the Russian realm for thirty-seven years (978-1015), and twenty-eight of these years had been spent since holy Baptism.
Preparing for a new struggle for power and hoping for Polish help in it, and to play for time, Svyatopolk attempted to conceal the death of his father. But patriotically inclined Kievan boyar-nobles, secretly by night, removed the body of the deceased sovereign from the Berestov court, where Svyatopolk's people were guarding it, and they conveyed the body to Kiev. At the Desyatin-Tithe church the coffin with the relics of Saint Vladimir was met by Kievan clergy with Metropolitan John at the head. The holy relics were placed in a marble crypt, set within the Clement chapel of the Desyatin Uspenie church alongside the marble crypt of Empress Anna...
The name and deeds of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir, whom the people called the Splendid Sun, is interwoven with all the successive history of the Russian Church. "Through him we too have come to worship and to know Christ, the True Life, -- testified Saint Ilarion. His deeds were continued by his sons, and grandsons and descendants -- rulers of the Russian land over the course of almost six centuries: from Yaroslav the Wise with the taking of the first steps towards the independent existence of the Russian Church -- down to the last of the Riurikovichi, tsar Feodor Ioannovich, under whom (in 1589) the Russian Orthodox Church became the fifth independent Patriarchate in the dyptich-lists of Orthodox Autocephalous Churches.
The feastday celebration to holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir was established under Saint Alexander Nevsky, in memory of the intercession of Saint Vladimir on 15 May 1240, for his help in gaining the reknown victory by Nevsky over Swedish crusaders.
But the first reverencing of the holy prince began in Rus' rather earlier. The Metropolitan of Kiev Saint Ilarion (+ 1053), in his "Word on Law and Grace", spoken on the day of memory of Saint Vladimir at the saint's crypt in the Desyatin-Tithe church, calls him "an apostolic sovereign", "like" Saint Constantine, and he compares his apostolic evangelisation of the Russian Land to that of the evangelisation by the holy Apostles.
The Holy Martyrs Kyrikos and Julitta lived in Asia Minor in the city of Iconium in the Likaoneia region. Saint Julitta was descended from an illustrious family and was a Christian. Widowed early on, she raised her three year old son Kyrikos. During the time of the persecution made against Christians by the emperor Diocletian (284-305), Saint Julitta with her son and two trustworthy servants departed the city, leaving behind her home and property and servants.
Under the guise of being impoverished she his out first at Seleucia, and then at Tarsis. And it was there in about the year 305 that she was recognised, arrested and brought to trial before the governor named Alexander. Strengthened by the Lord, she fearlessly gave answer to the questions of the judge and she firmly confessed her faith in Christ. The governor gave orders to beat the saint with canes. During the time of torment Saint Julitta kept repeating: "I am a Christian and will not offer sacrifice to demons".
The little boy Kyrikos cried, seeing his mother being tortured, and wanted to go to her. The governor Alexander tried to hug him, but the boy broke free and shouted: "Let me go to my mother, I am a Christian". The governor flung the boy from the high rostrum onto the stone steps, and the boy tumbled downwards striking the sharp edges, and died. The mother, seeing her lacerated son, gave thanks to God that He had vouchsafed the boy a martyr's end. After many cruel tortures they beheaded Saint Julitta with the sword.
The relics of Saints Kyrikos and Julitta were discovered during the reign of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine (+ 337, Comm. 21 May). In honour of these holy martyrs there was built near Constantinople a monastery, and not far off from Jerusalem was built a church. In popular custom, Saints Kyrikos and Julitta are prayed to for family happiness, and the restoring to health of sick children.
All that is recorded of this saint, whose name is so common in Scotland, is that he lived at Ogilvy in Forfarshire in the eighth century, that his wife bore him nine daughters, and that on her death they formed a sort of community who led the religious life under his direction. But if no more is known of him, he has nevertheless left his mark otherwise, for the often found natural features, wells, hills, and so on, which are known as the "Nine Maidens", are so called in memory of his daughters. They are said to have afterwards entered a monastery founded by St. Darlugdach and St. Brigid at Abernethy, and were commemorated on July 18. The popularity of the name in Scotland must be attributed, not to veneration for the saint, but to the ubiquity of the sons of Somerled of the Isles, clan Donald.
The PriestMartyr Athenogoras and his Ten Disciples suffered for Christ during the time of persecution against Christians in the city of Sebasteia. The governor Philomarkhos made a large festival in honour of the pagan gods and summoned the Sebasteia citizenry to offer sacrifice to the idols. But the inhabitants of Sebasteia, Christian in the majority, refused to participate in the impious celebration with its offering of sacrifice to idols. Soldiers were ordered to kill people, and many Christians then accepted a martyr's crown.
It came to the governor's attention, that Christianity was being widely spread about by the graced preaching of Bishop Athenogoras. Orders were issued to seek out the elder and arrest him. Saint Athenogoras and ten of his disciples lived not far from the city in a small monastery. But not finding the bishop there, the soldiers arrested his disciples. The governor gave orders to slap them into chains and throw them in prison.
Saint Athenogoras came then to Sebasteia and began reproaching the judge that those thrown into prison were guiltless. He was arrested. In prison, Saint Athenogoras encouraged his spiritual children for their impending deed. Led forth to trial, all the holy martyrs confessed themselves Christians and refused to offer sacrifice to idols. After undergoing fierce tortures, the disciples of the holy bishop were beheaded. And after the execution of the disciples, the executioners were ordered to put the elder to the test of torture. Strengthened by the Lord, Saint Athenogoras underwent the tortures with dignity. His only request was -- that he be executed in the monastery.
Taken to his own monastery, the saint in prayer gave thanks to God, and he rejoiced in the sufferings that he had undergone for Him. Saint Athenogoras besought of the Lord the forgiveness of sins of all those people, who should remember both him and his disciples.
The Lord granted the saint to hear His Voice before death, announcing the promise given to the penitent thief: "Today with Me thou shalt be in paradise". The priestmartyr himself bent his neck beneathe the sword.
The Holy Martyrs Paul, Aleutina and Chionea were from Egypt. During the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Maximian (305-313), they were taken to Palestine Caesarea. Without the slightest fear before the governor they confessed themselves followers of Christ. In the year 308 the sisters Aleutina and Chionea were burnt, and Paul was beheaded.
The Holy Martyr Antiochos, a native of Cappadocian Sebasteia, was the brother by birth of the holy Martyr Platon (Comm. 18 November), and he was a physician. The pagans learned that he was a Christian, and they brought him to trial and subjected him to fierce tortures. Thrown into boiling water, the saint remained unharmed, and given over for devouring by wild beasts -- he did not suffer with them, for the beasts lay peacefully at his feet. Through the prayers of the martyr many miracles were worked and the idolatrous statues crumbled into dust. The pagans beheaded the Martyr Antiochos. And seeing the guiltless suffering of the saint, Kyriakos, a participant in the execution, was converted to Christ. He confessed his faith in front of everyone and likewise was beheaded (IV). They buried the Martyrs aside each other.
The Holy Martyress Julia was born in Carthagena into a Christian family. While still a maiden she fell into captivity to the Persians. They carried her off to Syria and sold her into slavery. Fulfilling the Christian commandments, Saint Julia faithfully served her master, and she preserved herself in purity, kept the fasts and prayed much to God.
No amount of urging by her pagan master could sway her to idol-worship.
On time the master set off with merchandise for Gaul and took Saint Julia with him. Along the way the ship stooped over at the island of Corsica, and the master decided to take part in a pagan festivity, but Julia remained on the ship. The Corsicans plied the merchant and his companions with wine, and when they had fallen into a drunken sleep, they took Julia from the ship. Saint Julia was not afraid to acknowledge that she was a Christian, and the savage pagans crucified her on a cross.
An Angel of the Lord reported about the death of the holy martyress to the monks of a monastery, situated on a nearby island. The monks took the body of the saint and buried it in a church in their monastery.
In about the year 763 the relics of the holy Martyress Julia were transferred to a women's monastery in the city of Breschia (historians give conflicting years of the death of the saint: as either the V or VII Century).
The Fourth OEcumenical Council, at which 630 bishops participated, was convened in the year 451 in the city of Chalcedon under the emperor Marcian (450-457). Still back in the time of the emperor Theodosius II (408-450), the bishop of Dorileuseia Eusebios in 408 reported to a Council held at Constantinople under the holy Patriarch Flavian (Comm. 18 February), concerning a personage of one of the monasteries of the capital, the archimandrite Eutykhios, who in his undaunted zeal against the soul-destroying heresy of the Nestorius -- went to the opposite extreme and began to assert, that within Jesus Christ the human nature under the hypostatic union was completely absorbed by the Divine nature, in consequence of which it lost everything characteristic of human nature, except but for the visible form; wherein, such that after the union in Jesus Christ there remained only one nature (the Divine), which in visible bodily form lived upon the earth, suffered, died, and was resurrected.
The Constantinople Council condemned this new false-teaching. But the heretic Eutykhios had patronage at court, and was in close connection with the heretic Dioskoros, the successor to Sainted Cyril (Comm. 18 January) upon the patriarchal cathedra-seat at Alexandria. Eutykhios turned to the emperor with a complaint against the injustice of the condemnation against him, and he demanded the judgement of an OEcumenical Council against his opponents, whom he accused of Nestorianism. Wanting to restore peace in the Church, Theodosius had decided to convene a Fourth OEcumenical Council in the year 449 at Ephesus. But this Council became branded in the chronicles of the Church as the "Robbers Council". Dioskoros, appointed by the emperor to preside as president of the Council, ran it like a dictator, making use of threats and outright coercion. Eutykhios was exonerated, and Saint Flavian condemned. But in the year 450 the emperor Theodosius died. The new emperor Marcian raised up onto the throne with him the sister of Theodosius, Pulcheria.
Restoring peace to the Church was a matter of prime importance. An OEcumenical Council was convened in the year 451 at Chalcedon. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Saint Anatolios (Comm. 3 July) presided over the Council. Dioskoros at the first session was deprived of his place among those present, and at the third session he was condemned with all his partisans. The Sessions of the Council were 16 in all. The Chalcedon holy fathers pronounced anathemas against the heresy of Eutykhios. On the basis of Letters Saint Cyril of Alexandria and Pope Saint Leo the Great, the fathers of the Council resolved: "Following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach to confess as one and the same the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, perfect in Divinity and perfect in humanity, truly God, truly man, of Whom is a reasoned soul and a body, One in Essence with the Father through Divinity and that Same-One one-in-essence with us through humanity, in all things like unto us except for sin, begotten before the ages from the Father in Divinity, but in these latter days born for us and our salvation from Mary the Virgin Mother of God in humanity. This self-same Christ, Son and Lord, the Only-Begotten, is in two natures perceived without mingling, without change, without division, without separation [Greek: "asugkhutos, atreptos, adiairetos, akhoristos"; Slavic: "neslitno, neizmenno, nerazdel'no, nerazluchno"], such that by conjoining there be not infringement of the distinctions of the two natures, and by which is preserved the uniqueness of each nature conjoined in one Person and One Hypostasis, -- not split nor separated into two persons, but rather the One and Self-same Son, the Only-Begotten, the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, as in antiquity the prophets taught of Him and as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself taught us, and as the Creed-Symbol of the fathers has passed down to us".
In the two final Sessions of the Council, 30 Canon-rules were promulgated concerning ecclesial hierarchies and disciplines. Beyond this, the Council affirmed the decrees not only of the three preceding OEcumenical Councils, but also of the Local Councils of: Ancyra, Neocaesarea, Gangra, Antioch and Laodiceia, which had occurred during the IV Century.
The Holy GreatMartyress Marina was born in Asia Minor, in the city of Antioch, into the family of a pagan priest. In infancy she lost her mother, and her father gave her over into the care of a nursemaid, who raised Marina in the Orthodox faith. Upon learning that his daughter had become a Christian, the father angrily disowned her. During the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), Saint Marina at fifteen years of age was arrested and locked up in prison. With firm trust in the will of God and His help, the young prisoner prepared for her impending fate. The governor Olymbrios, charmed with the beautiful girl, tried to persuade her to renounce the Christian faith and become his wife. But the saint, unswayed, refused his false offers. The vexed governor gave the holy martyress over to torture. Having beaten her fiercely, they fastened the saint with nails to a board and tore at her body with tridents. The governor himself, unable to bear the horror of these tortures, hid his face in his hands. But the holy martyress remained unyielding. Thrown for the night into prison, she was granted Heavenly aid and healed of her wounds. Tied to a tree, they scorched the martyress with fire. Barely alive, the martyress prayed: "Lord, Thou hast granted me to go through fire for Thine Name, grant me also to go through the water of holy Baptism".
Hearing the word "water", the governor gave orders to drown the saint in a large barrel. The martyress besought the Lord, that this manner of execution should become for her holy Baptism. When they plunged her into the water, there suddenly shone a light, and a snow-white dove came down from Heaven, bearing in its beak a golden crown. The fetters put upon Saint Marina of themselves came apart. The martyress stood up in the fount of Baptism glorifying the Holy Trinity -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Saint Marina emerged from the fount completely healed, without any trace of burns. Amazed at this miracle, the people glorified the True God, and many came to believe. This brought the governor into a rage, and he gave orders to kill anyone, who might confess the Name of Christ. There then perished 15,000 Christians, and the holy Martyress Marina was beheaded. The sufferings of the GreatMartyress Marina were described by an eye-witness of the event, named Theotimos.
Up until the taking of Constantinople by Western crusaders in the year 1204, the relics of the GreatMartyress Marina were situated in the Panteponteia monastery. According to other sources, they were located in Antioch until the year 908 and from there transferred to Italy. Her venerable hand was transferred to Athos, to the Batopedeia monastery.
The Monk Irinarkh of Solovetsk accepted tonsure at the Solovetsk monastery, and in his monastic life he zealously imitated the Monks Zosima (Comm. 17 April) and Savvatii (Comm. 27 September). In 1614, after the death of the hegumen Antonii, Irinarkh became his successor. During these times the Solovetsk monastery held tremendous significance in the defense of Northern Russia from the Swedes and the Danes. The new hegumen did much to fortify the monastery. Under the Monk Irinarkh there was constructed a stone wall with turrets, deep ditches dug, and with stones spread out. Concerned about the external dangers to the monastery, the monk also devoted much attention to fortifying it inwardly and spiritually. Very humble and meek, constantly immersed in thought on God, he was zealous for supporting in the monks a true monastic spirit. Under the spiritual guidance of the Monk Irinarkh at the Solovetsk monastery there matured many a worthy ascetic. With the blessing of the hegumen and under his assist, the Monk Eleazar (Comm. 13 January), a friend and co-ascetic of the Monk Irinarkh, founded a skete monastery on Anzersk Island.
In an imperial grammota-document to the Solovetsk monastery in the year 1621, the monks were bidden "to live according to the rules of the holy fathers... and in full obedience to their hegumen (Irinarkh) and the elders".
The last two years of the life of the monk were spent in the exploit of silent prayer.
The saint died on 17 July 1628.
The Monk Leonid of Ust'nedumsk lived in the Poshekhonsk district of the Vologda outskirts, and he was a farmer by occupation. At age fifty, he saw in a dream the Mother of God, Who directed him to go to the River Dvina to the Morzhevsk Nikolaev wilderness-monastery, to take there the Hodegetria Icon of the Mother of God, and at the River Luza and Mount Turin build a church. The Monk Leonid decided not to follow the advice of this vision, thinking it but simply a dream. He went off to the Kozheezersk monastery, accepting monasticism there and spending about three years at work and monastic efforts. From there the monk transferred to the Solovetsk monastery and toiled there in the bakery. The miraculous dream-vision was repeated. The Monk Leonid thereupon set off to the Morzhevsk wilderness-monastery, and after a year he told the monastery-head Kornilii (1599-1623) about the command of the Mother of God. Having received from the monastery-head both a blessing and the Hodegetria icon, the monk reached the River Luza near the Turin Mount, 80 versts from the city of Ustiug, and he built himself an hut from brushwood. But some not so good people compelled him to resettle up along the river, in a marshy wilderness spot. At 30 versts from the city of Lal'sk the elder constructed a cell and set about the building of a monastery. For drawing down the marshes, the ascetic dug out three canals, in length about 2 kilometers, -- from the River Luza to Chernoe Ozero ("Black Lake"), and from Chernoe Ozero to Svyatoe Ozero ("Holy Lake"), and from there to the to the Chernaya-Black Rivulet. During this time of heavy work he was bitten by poisonous vipers. Consigning himself to the will of God, the Monk Leonid decided not to take any sort of measures of treatment nor did he think of the consequences -- and he remained healthy. In gratitude to the Lord for His mercy, he called the canal the "Nedumaya Reka" ("Unplanned River"), and his monastery -- the "Ust'nedumsk" (the "Nedumaya-mouth") monastery.
With the blessing of the Rostov Metropolitan Philaret (afterwards the All-Russia Patriarch, 1619-1633), the Monk Leonid in 1608 was ordained priest-monk. In the newly-erected church in honour of the Vvedenie-Entrance into the Temple of the MostHoly Mother of God, Priest-monk Leonid installed the Hodegetria icon, as commanded him by the Mother of God. By his not so easy efforts on the frontier, called the "Luzsk Permtsa", which means "the pocket-land of the wild Permians", God's saint merited rightful veneration as one of the first enlighteners of these remote lands.
The monk had many a struggle with the severe and inhospitable forces of nature. Although his canal-system had drained the marsh, in times of floodings the River Luza overflowed the wilderness-monastery. Towards the end of his life the tireless toiler undertook construction on a point of land at Chernoe-Black Lake. At the new locale was likewise erected a church, consecrated in 1652. The Monk Leonid died at age 100, on 17 July 1654. He was buried at the monastery Vvedenie-Entrance church -- where for a long time they preserved his coarse and heavy hair-shirt -- a reminder of the ascetic toils of the holy saint.
They have a tropar to the Monk Leonid, and his holy icons are in churches at the places of his toilings.
Martyred king of Mercia, England. Traditions states that he was the son of King Kenulf, who succeeded to the thrine at the age of seven. He was murdered by henchmen of his sister, Cynefrith. Another tradition states that his sister Quendreda bribed his tutopr to slay him. He is buried at Winchcombe Abbey, in Gloucestershire. Miracles took place there. Kenelm is now belived to have died before his father. He is mentioned in the Canterbury Tales.
The Holy Martyr Emelian, a Slav, suffered for Christ during the reign of the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Julian wanted to restore in the Roman empire the cult of the pagan gods, and he circulated an edict throughout all the regions, according to which all Christians would be subject to death.
The city of Dorostolum, situated on the banks of the River Dunaj (Danube), where Saint Emelian lived, was governed by an official named Capitolinus. The imperial edict was read in the city square. The people of Dorostolum said that there were no Christians in the city.
Saint Emelian was a slave of the local city-head, and he was secretly a Christian. Emboldened by the harsh edict, Saint Emelian snuck into the pagan temple, he destroyed statues of the idols with an hammer, he overturned the altars and the candle-stands, and then emerged without notice. But soon the pagans discovered, that the pagan-temple was in ruins. An angry crowd began to beat up a certain Christian, who by chance happened by. Saint Emelian then shouted out loudly, that they should not lay hold of that innocent man, and then he said that he himself had wrecked the pagan-temple. They seized hold of him and led him for judgement to Capitolinus. By order of the official, Saint Emelian was for a long time beaten mercilessly, and then he was condemned to burning. Thrown into a bon-fire, he did not perish, but rather the flames burnt many of the pagans standing about. And when the bon-fire had gone out, Saint Emelian lay down upon the dying embers and with a prayer gave up his spirit to the Lord (+ 363). At Constantinople afterwards there was built a church in honour of the holy Martyr Emelian, wherein also they transferred his relics.
The Holy Martyr Iacynthos (Hyacinthe) was born into a pious Christian family in the city of Amastridea (now Amastra in Anatolia). An Angel which appeared gave him his name. As a three year old boy Saint Iacynthos besought of God that a dead infant might be resurrected, and the Lord hearkened to his childish prayer: the dead one arose. Both lads afterwards grew up together, and together they asceticised in virtuous life. Saint Iacynthos once noticed, how the pagans were worshipping a tree, and so he chopped it down. For this they subjected him to harsh tortures. They smashed out all his teeth, and having bound him with rope, they dragged him along the ground and threw him in prison. And it was there that the holy sufferer expired to God.
Over the centuries the monastic complex founded by St. David of Gareji became a spiritual and cultural center for all of Georgia. Many of the faithful flocked there with a desire to serve Christ.
Among them was the hieromonk Kozman, who would end his earthly life as a martyr.
Few details of the life of Holy Martyr Kozman have been preserved. According to the Georgian catholicos Anton, St. Kozman was a learned and righteous ascetic, well-versed in the canons of the Orthodox Church.
St. Kozman composed a set of “Hymns to the Great-Martyr Queen Ketevan” but his work has not been preserved. According to the 19th-century historian Platon Ioseliani, Hieromonk Kozman was taken captive and tortured to death in the year 1630, when the Dagestanis were carrying out a raid on the Davit-Gareji Wilderness.
The Monk John the Much-Suffering, of Pechersk, pursued asceticism at the Kievo-Pechersk Lavra.
The ascetic related, that from the time of his youth he had suffered much, tormented by fleshly lust, and nothing could deliver him from it -- neither hunger nor thirst nor heavy chains. The monk then went into the cave wherein rested the relics of the Monk Antonii, and he fervently prayed to the holy abba. After a day and a night the much-suffering John heard a voice: "John! It is necessary for thee to here seclude thyself, so that at least to weaken the vexation by silence and the unseen, and the Lord shalt help thee through the prayers of His monastic saints". The saint settled into the cave from that time, and only after thirty years did he conquer the fleshly passions. Tense and fierce was the struggle upon the thorny way on which the monk went to victory. Sometimes the desire took hold of him to forsake his seclusion, but then he resolved on still greater an effort. The holy warrior of Christ dug out a pit and with the onset of Great Lent he climbed into it, and he covered himself up to the shoulders with ground. The whole of Lent he spent in such a position, but the burning of his former passions did not quit his much-exerted flesh. The enemy of salvation brought terror upon the ascetic, in wanting to expel him from the cave: a fearsome serpent, breathing fire and strewn with sparks, tried to swallow the saint. For several days these evil doings continued. On the night of the Resurrection of Christ the serpent seized the head of the monk in its jaws. Then Saint John cried out from the depths of his heart: "O Lord my God and my Saviour!Wherefore hast Thou forsaken me? Have mercy upon me, Thou Only Lover-of-Mankind; deliver me from my foul iniquity, so that I wither not in the snares of the malevolent one; deliver me from the mouth of mine enemy: send down a lightning-flash and drive it away". Suddenly a bolt of lightning flashed, and the serpent vanished. A Divine light shone upon the ascetic, and a Voice was heard: "John! Here is the help for thee; henceforth be attentive, that nothing worse happen to thee and that thou suffer not in the age to come". The saint prostrated himself and said: "Lord! Why didst Thou leave me for so long in torment?" "For the power of thine endurance, -- was the answer, -- I brought upon thee temptation, so that thou might be smelted pure like gold; it is to the strong and powerful servants that a master doth assign the heavy work, and to the infirm and to the weak -- the easy tasks; wherefore pray thou to the one buried here (the Monk Joseph the Hungarian), he can help thee in this struggle: he even moreso than Joseph (the Handsome)". The monk died in about the year 1160, having acquired grace against profligate passions. His holy relics rest within the Antoniev Caves.
The Monk Pamva, a Kievo-Pechersk Hermit and PriestMonk, fulfilled the exploit of confessor. Caught while on a monastic obedience, he was taken off by Tatars and for many years suffered from them for his refusal to renounce the Christian faith. The monk was afterwards miraculously transported from captivity and put within his own cell. He died in seclusion in 1241. His relics rest in the Theodosiev Caves.
The Monk Pamba asceticised in the Nitreian wilderness in Egypt. The Monk Anthony the Great (Comm. 17 January) said, that the Monk Pamba by the fear of God inspired within himself the Holy Spirit. And the Monk Pimen the Great (Comm. 27 August) said: "We beheld three things in Father Pamba: hunger every day, silence and handcrafts". The Monk Theodore the Studite termed Saint Pamba "exalted in deed and in word".
At the beginning of his monasticism, Saint Pamba heard the verses from the 38th [39th] Psalm of David: "preserve mine path, that I sin not by my tongue". These words sank deep into his soul, and he attempted to follow them always. Thus, when they asked him about something, he answered only after a long pondering and a prayer, risking to say something that he afterwards might regret. Saint Pamba was a model of a lover of work for his disciples. Each day he worked until exhausted, and by the bread acquired by his own toil.
The disciples of the Monk Pamba became great ascetics: Dioskoros, afterwards Bishop of Hermopolis (this Dioskoros, bishop of Hermopolis, mustneeds be distinguished from another Dioskoros -- an arch heretic and patriarch of Constantinople, who lived rather later and was condemned by the Fourth OEcumenical Council), and also Ammonios, Eusebios and Eythymios -- mentioned in the life of Sainted John Chrysostom. One time the Nun Melania the Roman (Comm. 31 December) brought Saint Pamba a large amount of silver for the needs of the monastery, but he did not leave off from his work nor even glance at the money that was brought. Only after the incessant requests of Saint Melania did he permit her to give the alms to a certain monastic brother for distribution to the needs of the monastery. Saint Pamba was distinguished by his humility, but together with this he highly esteemed the vocation of monk and he taught the laypeople to be respectful of monastics, who often converse with God.
The monk died at age 70. Telling the brethren that stood about his death-bed concerning the virtues he strove for during his life, Saint Pamba said: "For I do expire to the Lord such, as that I am but begun to live a God-pleasing monastic".
The Holy GreatMartyr Athanasias was a contemporary and friend of the holy Martyrs Sergios and Backhos (Comm. 7 October). Having received the official position of eparch, he was sent to Egypt by the persecutor-emperor Maximian (284-305). They soon made denunciation against him for confessing the Christian faith. The governor, in supposing that Saint Athanasias had changed his mind, sent him off to Klisma (on the Red Sea) with an order to close down the Christian churches. Having arrived at this place, Saint Athanasias solemnly celebrated the feast of the Nativity of Christ in church. Soon the governor also arrived in Klisma. Learning about what had occurred, for a long time he urged the saint to renounce Christ, but seeing the steadfastness of the saint, he ordered him beheaded.
The Monk Leontii was the founder of the Karikhov monastery, near Novgorod. He expired to the Lord on 18 July 1429.
The Monastic Macrina, Sister of Sainted-Hierarchs Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, was born in Cappadocia at the beginning of the IV Century. Her mother, Emilia, saw in a dream an Angel, naming her yet unborn one Thekla, in honour of the holy First-Martyress Thekla. Saint Emilia (Emily, Comm. 1 January) fulfilled the will of God and named her daughter Thekla. Another daughter that was born they named Macrina, in honour of a grandmother, who suffered during the time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Maximian Galerius.
Besides Macrina, in her family were nine other children. Saint Emila herself guided the upbringing and education of her elder daughter. She taught her reading and writing in the Scriptural books and Psalms of David, selecting those examples from the Sacred books, which instructed of a pious and God-pleasing life. Saint Emilia trained her daughter to attend church services and make private prayers. Macrina was likewise taught the proper knowledge of domestic governance and various handicrafts. She was never left idle and did not participate in childish games or amusements.
When Macrina grew up, her parents betrothed her to a certain pious youth, but the bridegroom soon died. Many young men sought marriage with her, but Macrina refused them all, having chosen the life of a virgin and not wanting to be unfaithful to the memory of her dead fiancee. The Monastic Macrina lived in the home of her parents, helping them fulfill the household tasks as an overseer together with the servants, and she carefully followed after the upbringing of her younger brothers and sisters. After the death of her father she became the chief support for the family.
When all the children grew up and left the parental home, Saint Macrina convinced her mother, Saint Emilia, to leave the world, to set their slaves free, and to settle in a women's monastery. Several of their servants followed their example. Having taken monastic vows, they lived together as one family, they prayed together, they worked together, they possessed everything in common, and in this manner of life nothing distinguished one from another.
After the death of her mother, Saint Macrina guided the sisters of the monastery. She enjoyed the deep respect of all who knew her. Strictness towards herself and temperance in everything were characteristic of the saint over the course of all her life. She slept on boards and had no possessions. Saint Macrina was granted a gift of wonderworking. There was an instance (told by the sisters of the monastery to Saint Gregory of Nyssa after the death of Saint Macrina), when she healed a girl of an eye-affliction. Through the prayers of the saint, at her monastery in times of famine there was no shortage of wheat, necessary for the use of the sisters.
Saint Macrina died in the year 380, after a final sigh of exalting prayers of thanks to the Lord for having received of Him blessings over all the course of her life. She was buried in the same grave with her parents.
The Monk Dios was born in the city of Syrian Antioch towards the end of the IV Century into a pious Christian family. From the years of his youth he was noted for his temperance, he took food in small quantity and not each day, his flesh was humbled by vigil and incessant prayer. For these deeds the Lord granted Saint Dios dispassion and the gift of wonderworking.
The Lord in a vision ordered Saint Dios to go to Constantinople and there to serve both Him and the people. Saint Dios settled beyond the city in a solitary place, where people feared to live. The Monk Dios bravely contended with the evil spirits which tried to expel him from this place. The Lord heard the prayer of His saint: his staff took root, began to grow and with time was transformed into an immense oak, which stood for a long time even after the death of Saint Dios.
The surrounding inhabitants began to come to the saint for advice and guidance, and they besought healing from ills of body and soul. Saint Dios by prayer doctored the infirm, and whatever was offered him he distributed to the poor, the homeless and the sick.
Accounts about Saint Dios reached even the emperor Theodosius the Younger. He came to Saint Dios for a blessing together with the Constantinople Patriarch Atticus (406-425). The emperor wanted that on the place of Saint Dios' efforts there be built a monastery, and he provided the means for its construction. The patriarch ordained the monk into the priestly dignity and made him the hegumen. Soon numerous monastic brethren gathered to Saint Dios. The monastery was in need of a well. They dug at it for a long time without success. Through the prayer of the monk the Lord brought forth a spring of pure water, which soon filled up the entire well. One time through his prayer the monk raised up a drowned man. And many another miracle the Lord worked through His saint.
In extreme old age the Monk Dios became grievously ill. He took his leave from the brethren, communed the Holy Mysteries and lay upon his cot, like one dead. At the monastery for making the funeral service His Holiness Patriarch Atticus (Comm. on Cheesefare Saturday) and also the Alexandria Patriarch Alexander, who was then at Constantinople. The holy elder unexpectedly rose up from his death bed and said: "The Lord hath given me yet fifteen years of life". Great was the joy of the brethren.
Saint Dios actually did live another 15 years, helping all with guidance and counsel, healing the sick, and being concerned for the poor and homeless. Shortly before death a radiant man in priestly garb appeared to him in the altar of the church and forespoke to him about the impending day of death. Having given thanks to the Lord for this news, Saint Dios quietly died and was buried in his monastery (about the year 430).
The Holy Nobleborn Prince Roman Olegovich of Ryazan was from a line of princes, who during the time of the Tatar (Mongol) Yoke won glory as defenders of the Christian faith and of their Fatherland. Both his grandfathers perished for the Fatherland in the struggle with Batu. Raised in love for the holy faith (the prince lived in tears and prayers) and for his Native-land (Rodina), the prince with all his strength concerned himself about his devastated and oppressed subjects, and he defended them from the coercion and plundering of the khan's "baskaki" ("tax-collectors"). The "baskaki" hated the saint and they slandered him before the Tatar khan Mengu-Timur. Roman Olegovich was summoned to the Horde, where khan Mengu-Timur declared that he had to choose either of two things: either a martyr's death or the Tatar faith. The noble prince answered, that a Christian cannot change from the true faith to a false one. For his firmness in the confession of faith he was subjected to cruel torments: they cut out his tongue, gouged out his eyes, cut off his ears and lips, chopped off his hands and feet, tore off from his head the skin and, having chopped off his head, they impaled him upon a spear. This occurred in the year 1270.
The veneration of the prince-martyr began immediately with his death. The chronicle says about the saint: "Thou hast gained by thy suffering the Kingdom of Heaven and a crown bestown from the hand of the Lord together with thy kinsman Mikhail Vsevolodovich, co-sufferers with Christ for the Orthodox Christian faith".
From the year 1854 there was made at Ryazan a church procession and molieben on the day of memory of Saint Roman. In 1861 at Ryazan was consecrated a church in honour of holy Prince Roman.
The Monk Paisii of Pechersk was a monk of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. From the general canon to the Kievo-Pechersk monks, venerated in the Farther Caves, it is known, that he was connected by oneness of mind and brotherly love with the Monk Merkurii (the account about him is under 24 November). Both saints were inseparable, they lived in the same cell, and after death were put into the same grave. At the present time their relics rest in separate reliquaries.
Stefan Lazarević (Serbian: Стефан Лазаревић) known also as Stevan the Tall (Стеван Високи, l. 1374 – 19 July 1427) was a Serbian Despot, ruler of the Serbian Despotate between 1389 and 1427. He was the son and heir to Prince Lazar, who died at the Battle of Kosovo against the Turks in 1389, and Princess Milica from the subordinate branch of the Nemanjić dynasty. His sister, Princess Olivera Despina, married the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I, his brother-in-law, with whom he sided in a number of battles. Despot Stefan was a poet and a moderniser. His reign and his personal literary works are sometimes associated with early signs of the Renaissance in Serbian lands. He introduced knightly tournaments, modern battle tactics, and firearms to Serbia.
Stefan was the son of Prince Lazar, whom he succeeded in 1389. He participated as an Ottoman vassal in the Battle of Rovine in 1395, the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396, and in the Battle of Ankara in 1402. He became the Despot of Serbia in 1402 after the Ottoman state temporarily collapsed following Timur's invasion of Anatolia with the Battle of Ankara, where he and his Serbian Knights fought well and a good portion of his forces survived.Then stopping at Constantinople on his way home,he was well received by the Emperor who granted him the title of Despot by which he was to be known from then on and by which his successors were also to be known. At first Stefan's policy seems to have been to take advantage of Ankhara to shed Ottoman vassalage and to assert Serbia's independence.Stefan's nephew George Brankovic who had no love for Stefan soon lined up with Suleyman a son of Bayezid(Ottoman Sultan 1389-1402) against Stefan. Not surprisingly Stefan was receptive when Sigismund of Hungary approached him for an alliance.Sigismund was very generous in his terms. He offered Stefan Lazarevic Macva including Beograde for Stefans lifetime if he would accept Hungarian suzerainty for it. In the interim, In November 1402 Stefan defeated Brankovics's forces (which included troops from Suleyman) at Tripolje.At this time Stefan also acquired from Sigismund the important fortress of Golubac on the Danube.In 1403 he proclaimed Belgrade his capital. He built a fortress with a citadel which was destroyed during the Great Turkish War in 1690; only the Despot Stefan Tower remains today.
Stefan II became an ally of the Kingdom of Hungary and a knight of a special order, so when the Hungarian king Sigismund renewed the Order of the Dragon (Societas draconistrarum) in 1408, Despot Stefan Lazarević was the first on the list of members. In 1404, Sigismund gave Lazarević land in the present-day Vojvodina (and Pannonian part of present-day Belgrade), including Zemun (today part of Belgrade), Slankamen, Kupinik, Mitrovica, Bečej, and Veliki Bečkerek. In 1417, Apatin is also mentioned among his possessions. Under his rule, he issued a Code of Mines in 1412 in Novo Brdo, the economic center of Serbia. In his legacy, Resava-Manasija monastery (Pomoravlje District), he organized the Resava School, a center for correcting, translating, and transcribing books.
Stefan Lazarević died suddenly in 1427, leaving the throne to his nephew Đurađ Branković. His deeds eventually elevated him into sainthood, and the Serbian Orthodox Church honors him on August 1. Despot Stefan is buried in the monastery Koporin which he had built in 1402., as he did the bigger and more famous Manasija monastery in 1407.. In fact, Manasija was intended as his own burial place, but due to a sudden nature of his death in perilous times it was his brother Vuk that is buried there.
Blessed Stefan (Stephen) was the son of prince Saint Lazar of Serbia (Comm. 15 June). In the terrible times of the Turkish Yoke Saint Stefan became the great benefactor of his enslaved countrymen. He built up the city, constructed churches and expended his treasury on the help of the needy. Saint Stefan exceeded many a ruler by his wisdom, his charity and his faith. He died peacefully in the year 1427.
Saint Militsa was the mother of Blessed Stefan. She founded the Liubostin women's monastery, in which she took vows with the name Evgenia. She died at the monastery a schema-monastic on 11 November 1405.
The Holy Prophet Elias (Ilias) (Elijah) -- one of the greatest of the prophets and the first dedicated to virginity in the Old Testament -- he was born in Galaadian Thesbia (Tishbe) into the Levite tribe 900 years before the Incarnation of the Word of God.
Sainted Epiphanios of Cyprus gives the following account about the birth of the Prophet Elias: "When Elias was born, his father Sobach saw in a vision, that handsome men greeted him, they swaddled him in fire and fed the fiery flame". The name Elias (the Lord's strength) given to the infant defined his whole life. From the years of his youth he dedicated himself to the One God, settled in the wilderness and spent his whole life in strict fasting, Divine-meditation and prayer. Called to prophetic service afront the Israelite king Ahab, the prophet became a fiery zealot of the true faith and piety. During this time the Israelite nation had fallen away from the faith of their fathers, they abandoned the One God and worshipped pagan idols, the worship of which was introduced by the impious king Jereboam. An especial advocate of idol-worship was the wife of king Ahab, the paganess Jezebel. The worship of the idol of Baal led the Israelites towards complete moral decay. Beholding the ruin of his nation, the Prophet Elias began to denounce king Ahab for impiety, and exhorting him to repent and turn to the True God. The king would not listen to him. The Prophet Elias then declared to him, that in punishment there would then be neither rain nor dew upon the ground, and the dryness would cease only through his prayer. And indeed, through the prayer of the prophet the heavens were closed, and there befell drought and famine throughout all the land. The nation suffered from the incessant heat and hunger. The Lord through His mercy, seeing the suffering of the people, was prepared to forgive all and send rain upon the earth, but did not want to annul the words of the Prophet Elias, sorrowed with the desire to turn about the hearts of the Israelites to repentance and return them to the true worship of God. Having saved the Prophet Elias from the hands of Jezebel, the Lord during this time of tribulation sent him into a secret place of the stream Horath. The Lord ordered rapacious ravens to bring food to the prophet, moving him to pity for the suffering nation. When the stream Horath dried up, the Lord sent the Prophet Elias to Sidonian Sarepta to a poor widow, who suffered together with her children in the expectation of death by starvation. At the request of the prophet she prepared him a bread with the last measure of flour and the remainder of the oil. Thereafter through the prayer of the Prophet Elias, flour and oil were not depleted in the home of the widow for all the duration of the famine. By the power of his prayer the prophet did another miracle -- he resuscitated the dead son of the widow. After the end of three years of drought the Merciful Lord sent the prophet to king Ahab to bring an end to the misfortune. The Prophet Elias gave orders to gather upon Mount Carmel all Israel and the pagan-priests of Baal. When the nation had gathered, the Prophet Elias proposed the building of two sacrificial altars: one -- for the pagan-priests of Baal, and the other -- for the Prophet Elias in the service of the True God. "Upon whichever shalt come down upon it fire from the heavens, that one wilt be shewn to have the True God, -- said the Prophet Elias, -- and all shalt be obliged to worship Him, and if not invoking Him shalt be given over to death". The prophets of Baal rushed off first to offer sacrifice: they called out to the idol from morning till evening, but in vain -- the heavens were silent. Towards evening the holy Prophet Elias built up his sacrificial altar from 12 stones -- the number of the tribes of Israel; he placed the sacrifice upon the fire-wood, gave orders to dig a ditch around the altar and commanded that the sacrifice and the fire-wood be soaked with water. When the ditch had filled with water, the fiery prophet turned to God with a prayer and asked, that the Lord send down fire from the heavens to teach the wayward and obdurate Israelite people and turn their hearts to Himself. Through the prayer of the prophet there came down fire from the heavens and it fell upon the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and even the water. The people fell down to the ground, crying out: "In truth the Lord is the One God and there is no other besides Him!". Then the Prophet Elias had put to death all the pagan-priests of Baal and he began to pray for the sending down of rain. Through his prayer the heavens opened and there came down an abundant rain, watering the parched earth.
King Ahab acknowledged his error and repented his sins, but his wife Jezebel threatened to kill the prophet of God. The Prophet Elias fled into the kingdom of Judea and, grieving over his failure to eradicate idol-worship, he asked of God his death. An Angel of the Lord came before him, strengthened him with food and commanded him to go upon a long journey. The Prophet Elias went for forty days and nights and, having arrived at Mount Horeb, he settled in a cave. Here after a terrible storm, an earthquake and a burst of flame the Lord appeared "in a quiet wind" (3 Kings 19: 12) and revealed to the grieving prophet, that He preserved seven thousand faithful servants who were not worshippers of Baal. The Lord commanded the Prophet Elias to anoint Elisei (Elisha) unto prophetic service. Because of his fiery zeal for the Glory of God the Prophet Elias was taken up alive to Heaven on a fiery chariot. The Prophet Elisei (Elisha) began with the testimony of the ascent of the Prophet Elias to the heavens on a fiery chariot and received together with his fallen-down mantle (cloak) a gift of prophetic spirit twice as great, than the Prophet Elias had possessed.
According to the tradition of Holy Church, the Prophet Elias will be a Fore-Runner of the Terrible Second Coming of Christ upon the earth and during the time of preaching will be a sign of bodily death.
The life of the holy Prophet Elias is recorded in the Old Testament books (3 Kings; 4 Kings; Sirach/Ecclesiastes 48: 1-15; 1 Maccabees 2: 58). At the time of the Transfiguration [Preobrazhenie] the Prophet Elias conversed with the Saviour upon Mount Thabor (Tabor) (Mt. 17: 3; Mk. 9: 4; Lk. 9: 30).
For the day of the fiery ascent to Heaven of the Prophet Elias his veneration in the Church of Christ was constant over the centuries. The Russian Orthodox Church venerates the Prophet Elias among the saints. The first church, built at Kiev under prince Igor, was in the name of the Prophet Elias. After Baptism the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles princess Ol'ga (Comm. 14 July) built a temple of the holy Prophet Elias in his native region, at the village of Vibuta.
The iconographic tradition portrays the Prophet Elias rising up on a chariot with fiery wheels, which are encircled on all sides with flames and harnessed to four winged horses.
Saint Ilia, called the “Uncrowned King of Georgia,” the “Father of the Nation” and “the Righteous,” belonged to the noble family Chavchavadze. He was born on October 27, 1837, in the village of Qvareli in Kakheti. He received his primary education at home: his mother instructed him in reading and writing, prayer and the law of God. When he was eight years old, Ilia was sent to study with Archdeacon Nikoloz Sepashvili of Qvareli. The years he spent there left an indelible impression on this holy man’s life.
Ilia continued his education at a Tbilisi boarding school, and later at the court gymnasium (high school). His parents died at a young age, and the orphaned children were entrusted to the care of their aunt Macrina.
In 1857 Ilia enrolled in the law school at St. Petersburg University. There he read a great deal and struggled to improve himself as an individual. He was fascinated by Georgian history and spent much of his time in the St. Petersburg archives in search of old Georgian texts. His academic achievements were outstanding, but he was uninterested in receiving an official diploma from the school of law. In his fourth year he dropped out of the program and returned to Georgia.
Ilia was certain that a nation that forgets its own history “is like a beggar who knows neither his past nor where he is going.” For this reason he sought to inspire his fellow countrymen with the past glories of their nation and the loyalty of their forefathers to the Christian Faith and the Georgian nation.
The restoration of national independence and the autocephaly of the Georgian Church were the chief objectives toward which St. Ilia strove in every aspect of his life. As a means by which to achieve these goals, Ilia took up the work of a historian: he conducted intensive research and exposed those who had falsified history and dishonored the Georgian nation.
This great philosopher, writer, and historian often repeated the statement “A nation whose language is corrupted can no longer exist as a nation.” He cared deeply about the Georgian language and fought to ensure that it remained the primary language taught in schools.
Ilia inspired many with his patriotic zeal, and he founded the Society for the Propagation of Literacy among the Georgians. He established a depository of Georgian manuscripts and antiquities. In addition he initiated a movement to document oral folk traditions and helped to found the Georgian Agrarian Bank.
Ilia the Righteous was often heard declaring, “We, the Georgian people, have inherited three divine gifts from our ancestors: our motherland, our language and our faith. If we fail to protect these gifts, what merit will we have as men?”
But Ilia’s righteous deeds were an affront and threat to those who adhered to the new atheist ideology, so they plotted to kill him. On August 30, 1907, Ilia Chavchavadze and his wife, Olga (Guramishvili), had just set off from Tbilisi for Saguramo when their carriage stopped abruptly outside of Mtskheta, near Tsitsamuri Forest.
They were awaited by a band of militant social democrats who attacked them and shot Ilia to death.
The Military Court of the Caucasus sentenced Ilia Chavchavadze’s murderers to death by hanging. But Ilia’s wife Olga requested that the governor-general pardon her husband’s murderers. She asserted that, if Ilia had survived, he would have done the same, since the killers were simply his “unlucky brothers gone astray.”
Indeed, Ilia had forgiven his murderers’ offense long before, in his prophetic poem “Prayer”: Our Father Who art in Heaven! With tenderness I stand before Thee on my knees; I ask for neither wealth nor glory; I won’t debase my holy prayer with earthly matters. I would wish for my soul to rest in heaven, My heart to be radiant with love heralded by Thee, I would wish to be able to ask forgiveness of mine enemies, Even if they pierce me in the heart: Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do!
In 1987 the Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church considered the deeds of Ilia Chavchavadze before God and his country and decreed him worthy to be numbered among the saints. He was joyously canonized as St. Ilia “the Righteous.”
Very little information has come down to us about the holy martyr Salome of Jerusalem and Kartli, who lived in the XIII century at a women's monastery in Jerusalem. She was arrested by the Persian Moslems because of her outspoken defense of Christ.
The SYNAXARION of the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, where she was martyred, tells us that at first, she gave in to the threats of the Persians and denied Christ. Later, however, she repented and publicly confessed Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of the world.
St Salome was tortured by the Persians because of her faith in Christ. Finally, she was beheaded and her holy relics were thrown into the fire.
It is believed that she was executed after the martyrdom of St Luka of Jerusalem, which occurred on February 12, 1277.
The Monk Avraam (Abraham) of Galich, Chuklomsk, lived and pursued asceticism at the monastery of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh during the XIV Century. After long years of novitiate he was deemed worthy of the priestly dignity. Yearning after the perfection of silence, he petitioned the blessing of the Monk Sergei and in the year 1350 settled in the Galich countryside, settled by foreign tribes of people. Having settled in a place of wilderness, the Monk Avraam through a revelation went up upon a mountain, where he found an icon of the Mother of God shining with an indescribable light. The appearance of the holy icon became known to the Galich prince Dimitrii, who entreated the monk to bring it to the city. The Monk Avraam came with the icon to Galich, where he was met by the prince and a throng of clergy. Numerous healings were worked from the icon of the Mother of God. Prince Dimitrii bestowed upon the monk the means for construction of a church and monastery near Chukhlomsk Lake, at the place of the appearance of the icon of the MostHoly Mother of God. The church was built and dedicated in honour of the Dormition [Uspenie] of the MostHoly Mother of God. The newly built monastery of the Monk Avraam became a source of spiritual enlightenment for the local foreign peoples. When the monastery was built up, he established in his place as head his student Porphyrii, and he himself withdrew 30 versts away in search of a solitary place, but there also disciples found him. Thus rose up still another monastery with a temple in honour of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God, called "the great Avraamite wilderness-monastery". The Monk Avraam twice withdrew off to a quiet place, after which there gathered about him anew the disquieters. Thus were founded two more monasteries -- one in honour of the Sobor (Assemblage) of the MostHoly Mother of God, the hegumen of which the Monk Avraam made Porphyrii; and the other -- in honour of the Protection [Pokrov] of the MostHoly Mother of God, where the Monk Avraam finished his earthly life. He died in 1375, having the year before his blessed end given over the governance to his disciple Innokentii. The Monk Avraam was an enlightener of the Galich land, having founded in it four monasteries dedicated to the Mother of God, granting him Her icon at the beginning of his prayerful exploits.
The Monk Leontii of Stromynsk was the first hegumen of the Stromynsk Uspenie monastery, founded by the Monk Sergei of Radonezh at the request of GreatPrince Dimitrii Donskoi (1363-1389) -- in honour of the victory over the Tatars 50 versts from Moscow, on the way to Yur'ev. The Monk Sergei established as hegumen of the monastery his student, the Monk Leontii. The Monk Leontii died at the end of the XIV Century.
The Monk Savva of Stromynsk, a student of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, established the Stromynsk monastery together with the Monk Leontii. From 1381 through 1392 he was hegumen of the monastery. The Monk Savva died in the year 1392 and was buried at a wooden chapel of the Stromynsk monastery.
The Holy MonkMartyr Athanasii (Afanasii) of Bretsk (Uncovering and Transfer of Relics 1649): The martyr's death of the holy Passion-bearer Athanasii, Hegumen of Bretsk, transpired on 5 September 1648 (the account about his life and deeds are located under this day). For the space of eight months the body of the sufferer for Orthodoxy lay in the ground without church funeral. On 1 May 1649 a boy pointed out to the brethren of the Simeonovsk monastery the place of burial of the hegumen. The ground in which the martyr was buried belonged at the time to the Jesuits, and therefore they had to go to work secretly. At night the monks dug up the undecayed body of the hegumen and immediately took it off to another place, and in the morning -- to their monastery, where after several days, on 8 May, they buried him with honour at the right-side kleros (choir) in the main church of the monastery dedicated in honour of the Monk Simeon the Stylite.
The earthly life of the MonkMartyr Athanasii had come to an end, but the remembrance of him remained always alive and sacred among the Orthodox inhabitants of the west Russian frontier. The profound veneration of believers here for his holy name, and the undecayed relics of the monk-martyr -- placed in a copper reliquary, were glorified by grace-abundant gifts of wonderworking and attracted a vast number of believers.
On 8 November 1815 at the time of a fire occurring at the Bretsk Simeonovsk monastery, the wooden monastery church burned, and the copper reliquary, in which the relics of the monk-martyr were kept, melted in the flames of the conflagration. The day following the fire an unharmed portion of the relics were found by the priest Samuel of Lisovsk and placed by the pious inhabitants of the city of Bretsk beneathe the altar of the monastery refectory church. In the year 1823, with the blessing of the archbishop of Minsk Anatolii, the holy relics were placed in a wooden vessel by the head of the monastery and put in church for veneration.
It pleased God to bestow miraculous power and by this preserved a portion of the relics of the MonkMartyr Athanasii.
In finely drawn traces there rises up before us this priestly image of the great champion of Orthodoxy, unsparing for faith and neighbour. Deeply religious, inexorably devoted to the faith of the holy fathers, he became bold of spirit and expressed by word and by deed his priestly indignation against the oppression of Orthodox Christians by the haughty Latino-Uniates. With fervent faith in his calling by God he entered into the struggle for his oppressed brethren. "I am not a prophet, but only a servant of God my Creator, sent in accord with the times, in order to speak to everyone the truth... He for this hath sent me, so that I might proclaim beforetime the destruction of the accursed Unia". Suchlike were the words of the fervent, unyielding and inspired struggler for Orthodoxy, deeply believing in the victorious power of the true faith-confession.
The complete affirmation of Orthodoxy and the final and total undoing of the Unia -- Saint Athanasii saw in this his single goal, the realisation for which he gave up his holy life. Besides this end, there was naught other than as he already lived in his personal life. Having submitted to the will of God, he had no thought for dangers, nor considered the obstacles, to fulfill his holy duty. His daring, spiritually-inspired speech and writings of petition, his published grievances against the gatherings and voluntary folly in Christ -- the MonkMartyr Athanasii tried all these expedients for the attainment and triumph of his sacred goal -- the affirmation of Orthodoxy in the ancient Russian land. One time, having repudiated the Unia, he was inspired with a deep sense of pity and love towards those who had become the victims of Uniate complicity. The righteousness and sincerity of Saint Athanasii in relation to those nearby defined the course of all his deeds. By his existence in the solitary life, surrounded by open and hidden enemies, the holy ascetic remained a steadfast defender and pillar of Orthodoxy, strengthened only by the light of faith in its solemnity and veracity. A martyr's death did not frighten him, wherefore he preached the fulfillment of his prophetic prediction: "The Unia will die out, but Orthodoxy will flourish".
The Holy Prophet Ezekiel lived in the VI Century before the Birth of Christ. He was born in the city of Sarir, and descended from the Levite tribe; he was a priest and the son of the priest Buzi. In the second invasion against Jerusalem by the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnessar, at age 25 Ezekiel was led off to Babylon together with the king Jechoniah II and many other Jews.
In captivity the Prophet Ezekiel lived by the River Chobar. There, in his 30th year of life, in a vision there was revealed to him the future of the Hebrew nation and of all mankind. The prophet beheld a shining cloud, in the midst of which was a flame, and in it -- a mysterious likeness of a chariot moving by the spirit and four-winged beasts, each having four faces: of a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle. Under their faces was situated a wheel, bestrewn with eyes. Over the chariot towered as it were a crystalline firmament, and over the firmament -- the likeness of a throne as though of glittering sapphire. And upon this throne a radiant "likeness of Man", and about Him a rainbow (Ez. 1: 4-28).
According to the explanation of the fathers of the Church, the most-bright "likeness of Man" radiant upon the sapphire throne, was a prefigurament of the Incarnation of the Son of God from the MostHoly Virgin Mary, manifest as the Throne of God. The four creatures prefigured the four evangelists, the wheel with a multitude of eyes -- the sharing of light with all the nations of the earth. During this vision the holy prophet out of fear fell down upon the ground, but the voice of God commanded him to get up and then explained, that the Lord was sending him to preach to the nation of Israel. From this time began the prophetic service of Ezekiel. The Prophet Ezekiel announces to the nation of Israel, situated in Baylonian Captivity, about its coming tribulations for straying in the faith and forsaking the True God. The prophet proclaimed also a better time for his captive fellow-countrymen, and he predicted their return from Babylon and the restoration of the Jerusalem Temple.
Particularly important are two significant elements in the vision of the prophet -- the one about the vision of the temple of the Lord, full of glory, -- the second about the bones upon the field, to which the Spirit of God gave new life. The vision about the temple was a mysterious prefigurament of the freeing of the race of man from the working of the enemy and the building up of the Church of Christ through the redemptive deed of the Son of God, incarnated of the MostHoly Virgin Mary, -- called by the prophet "the shut gates", through which would be entered the One only Lord God (Ez. 44: 2). The vision about the dry bones upon the field -- prefigured the universal resurrection of the dead and the new eternal life of the redeemed by the death on the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ (Ez. 37: 1-14).
The holy Prophet Ezekiel had from the Lord a gift of wonderworking. He, like the Prophet Moses, by prayer to God divided the waters of the river Chobar, and the Hebrews crossed to the opposite shore, escaping the pursuing Chaldeans. During a time of famine the prophet besought of God an increase of food for the hungry.
For his denunciation of the idol-worship of a certain Hebrew prince, Saint Ezekiel was given over to execution: bound to wild horses, he was torn to pieces. Pious Hebrews gathered up the torn body of the prophet and buried it upon Maur Field, in the tomb of Sim and Arthaxad, fore-fathers of Abraham, not far from Baghdad. The prophecy of Ezekiel was written down in a book, mentioning him by name, and is included in the Bible.
Sainted Dimitrii of Rostov drew attention for believers to the following concept in the book of the Prophet Ezekiel: if a righteous man, hoping on his own righteousness, were to venture to sin and in sin would die -- he would answer for the sin and be subject to judgement; but a sinner, if he repenteth, and in repentance would die -- his former sin would not be remembered before God (Ez. 3: 20; 18: 21-24).
The Monks Simeon, Fool-for-Christ, and his Fellow-Ascetic John were Syrians, and they lived in the VI Century at the city of Edessa. From childhood a close friendship held them together. The older of them, Simeon, was unmarried and lived with his aged mother. John, however, although he entered into marriage, lived with his father (his mother was dead) and with his young spouse. Both friends belonged to wealthy families. When Simeon became 30 years old, and John 24, they made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem on the feast of the Exaltation of the Venerable and Life-Creating Cross of the Lord. On the return journey home the friends conversed about the ways of salvation for the soul. Journeying with horses, they sent the servants with the horses on ahead, and they themselves went on foot. Going through Jordan, they saw monasteries, situated at the edge of the wilderness. Both of them were filled with an irrepressible desire to leave the world and spend their remaining life in monastic deeds. They turned off from the road, along which their servants went into Syria, and they prayed zealously to God, to guide them towards the monasteries on the opposite side. They besought the Lord to indicate which monastery for them to choose and they resolved to enter whichever monastery the gates of which would be open. At this time in a dream the Lord informed the hegumen Nikon of a monastery to open the monastery gates, and that the sheep of Christ would enter in. In great joy the comrades came through the open gates of the monastery, where they were warmly welcomed by the hegumen, and they remained at the monastery. In a short while they took monastic vows. Having dwelt for a certain while at the monastery, Simeon became keen with the desire to intensify his effort, to go into the deep wilderness and there to pursue asceticism in complete solitude. John did not wish to be left behind by his companion and he decided to share with him the work of wilderness-dweller. The Lord revealed to the hegumen Nikon the intentions of the companions, and on that night when the Monks Simeon and John intended to depart the monastery, he himself opened for them the gates, he prayed with them, gave them his blessing and sent them into the wilderness. Having begun wilderness life, the spiritual brothers at first underwent the strong assault of the devil, suggesting to them grief over abandoning their families, frightening the ascetics, directing upon them weakness, despondency and idleness. The brothers Simeon and John, firmly mindful of the monastic vows given by them, and trusting on the prayers of their starets the hegumen Nikon, continued straight upon their chosen path, and they passed the time in unceasing prayer and strict fasting, encouraging each the other in their struggle against temptation. After a certain while, with the help of God, the temptations stopped. The monks received from God the report, that the mother of Simeon and the spouse of John had died and that the Lord had vouchsafed them the blessing of paradise. After this Simeon and John dwelt in the wilderness for 29 years, and they attained complete dispassion (apatheia) and an high degree of spirituality. The Monk Simeon, through the inspiration of God, pondered about that it now was proper that he should serve people, and for this it was necessary to leave the wilderness solitude and go into the world. But Saint John, reckoning that he had not attained to such a degree of dispassion as his companion, decided not to quit the wilderness. The brethren parted with tears. Simeon journeyed to Jerusalem, and there he worshipped at the Tomb of the Lord and all the holy places. By his great humility the holy ascetic zealously besought the Lord to permit him to serve his neighbour in suchlike manner, that they should not acknowledge him. Saint Simeon chose for himself the difficult task of fool-for-Christ. Having come to the city of Emessus, he stayed in it and passed himself off as a simpleton, doing strange acts, for which he was subjected to insults, abuse and beatings, and amidst which he accomplished many good deeds. He cast out devils, healed the sick, delivered from immanent death, brought the unbelieving to faith, and sinners -- to repentance. All these good deeds he did under the guise of foolishness, and in no wise did he receive praise or thanks from people. But the Monk John highly esteemed his spiritual brother: when someone of the inhabitants of the city of Emessus visited him in the wilderness, asking advice and prayer, he would invariably direct them to "the fool Simeon", who could better offer them spiritual counsel. For three days before his death Saint Simeon ceased to appear on the streets, and he enclosed himself in his hut, in which, except for bundles of fire-wood, there was nothing. Having remained at unceasing prayer for three days, Saint Simeon reposed to the Lord. Some of the city poor, companions with him, and not coming across the fool, went to his hut and there found him dead. Taking up the dead body, they carried him without church singing to a place, where the homeless and strangers were buried. While they carried the body of Saint Simeon, several of the inhabitants heard a wondrous church singing, but could not comprehend from whence it came. After Saint Simeon, the Monk John peacefully expired to the Lord in the wilderness. Shortly before death, Saint Simeon was given to behold the crown upon the head of his spiritual brother with the inscription: "For endurance in the wilderness".
The Monk Onuphrii the Silent, of Pechersk, pursued asceticism in the nearer Antoniev Caves in the XII Century. A second commemoration is done 28 September in the Sobor (Assemblage) of the Monastic Fathers of the Kievo-Pechersk Nearer Caves.
The Monk Onysim of Pechersk, having pursued asceticism at the Kievo-Pechersk Lavra, became an hermit at the Nearer Caves (of the Monk Antonii). The holy relics of the monk were buried on the place of his ascetic deeds.
The Holy Myrh-Bearer Equal-unto-the-Apostles Mary Magdalene. On the banks of Lake Genesareth (Galilee), between the cities of Capharnum and Tiberias, was situated the small city of Magdala, the remains of which have survived to our day. Now at this place stands only the small village of Mejhdel.
In Magdala sometime formerly the woman was born and grew up, whose name has entered forever into the Gospel account. The Gospel tells us nothing about the youthful years of Mary, but tradition informs us, that Mary from Magdala was young and pretty, and led a sinful life. It says in the Gospels, that the Lord expelled seven devils from Mary. From the moment of healing Mary led a new life. She became a true disciple of the Saviour.
The Gospel relates that Mary followed after the Lord, when He went with the Apostles through the cities and villages of Judea and Galilee preaching about the Kingdom of God. Together with the pious women -- Joanna, wife of Khuza (steward of Herod), Susanna and others, she served Him from her own possessions (Lk 8, 1-3) and undoubtedly, shared with the Apostles the evangelic tasks, in common with the other women. The Evangelist Luke, evidently, has her in view together with the other women, stating that at the moment of the Procession of Christ onto Golgotha, when after the Scourging He took on Himself the heavy Cross, collapsing under its weight, the women followed after Him weeping and wailing, but He consoled them. The Gospel relates that Mary Magdalene was present on Golgotha at the moment of the Lord's Crucifixion. While all the disciples of the Saviour ran away, she remained fearlessly at the Cross together with the Mother of God and the Apostle John.
The evangelists enumerate among those standing at the Cross moreover also the mother of the Apostle James the Less, and Salome, and other women followers of the Lord from Galilee itself, but all mention first Mary Magdalene; but the Apostle John aside the Mother of God, names only her and Mary Cleopas. This indicates how much she stood out from amidst all the women gathered round the Lord.
She was faithful to Him not only in the days of His Glory, but also at the moment of His Extreme Humiliation and Insult. As the Evangelist Matthew relates, she was present at the Burial of the Lord. Before her eyes Joseph and Nikodemos went out to the tomb with His lifeless Body; before her eyes they covered over the entrance to the cave with a large stone, behind which went the Sun of Life...
Faithful to the Law in which she was trained, Mary together with the other women stayed all the following day at rest, because it was the great day of the Sabbath, coinciding in that year with the Feast of Passover. But all the rest of the peaceful day the women succeeded in storing up aromatics, to go at dawn Sunday to the Grave of the Lord and Teacher and according to the custom of the Jews to anoint His Body with funereal aromatics.
It is necessary to suggest that, having agreed to go on the first day of the week to the Tomb early in the morning, the holy women, having gone separately on Friday evening to their own homes, did not have the possibility to meet together with one another on Saturday, and how only at the break of dawn the following day did they go to the Sepulchre, not all together, but each from their own house.
The Evangelist Matthew writes, that the women came to the grave at dawn, or as the Evangelist Mark expresses, extremely early before the rising of the sun; the Evangelist John, as it were elaborating upon these, says that Mary came to the grave so early that it was still dark. Obviously, she waited impatiently for the end of night, but it was not daybreak when round about darkness still ruled -- she ran there where lay the Body of the Lord.
Now then, Mary went to the Tomb alone. Seeing the stone pushed away from the cave, she rushed away in fear thither where dwelt the close Apostles of Christ -- Peter and John. Hearing the strange message that the Lord was gone from the tomb, both Apostles ran to the tomb and, seeing the shroud and winding cloths, they were amazed. The Apostles went and told no one nothing, but Mary stood about the entrance to the gloomy tomb and wept. Here in this dark tomb still so recently lay her lifeless Lord. Wanting proof that the tomb really was empty, she went down to it -- and here a strange light suddenly prevailed upon her. She saw two angels in white garments, the one sitting at the head, the other at the foot, where the Body of Jesus had been placed. She heard the question: "Woman, why weepest thou?" -- she answered them with the words which she had said to the Apostles: "They have taken my Lord, and I do not know, where they have put Him". Having said this, she turned around, and at this moment saw the Risen Jesus standing about the grave, but she did not recognise Him.
He asked Mary: "Woman, why weepest thou? Whom dost thou seek?" She answered thinking that she was seeing the gardener: "Sir, if thou hast taken him, tell where thou hast put Him, and I will reclaim Him".
But at this moment she recognised the Lord's voice, a voice which was known from the day He healed her. This was the voice in those days and years, when together with the other pious women she followed the Lord through all the cities and places where His preaching was heard. She gave a joyful shout "Rabbi" that means Teacher.
Respect and love, fondness and deep veneration, a feeling of thankfulness and recognition at His Splendour as great Teacher -- all came together in this single outcry. She was able to say nothing more and she threw herself down at the feet of her Teacher, to wash them with tears of joy. But the Lord said to her: "Touch me not, for I am still not ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and tell them: "I ascend to My Father and your Father and to My God and to your God".
She came to herself and again ran to the Apostles, so as to do the will of Him sending her to preach. Again she ran into the house, where the Apostles stayed still in dismay, and announced to them the joyous message "I have seen the Lord!" This was the first preaching in the world about the Resurrection.
The Apostles were obliged to proclaim the Glad Tidings to the world, but she proclaimed it to the Apostles themselves...
Holy Scripture does not tell us about the life of Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection of Christ, but it is impossible to doubt, that if in the terrifying minutes of Christ's Crucifixion she was the foot of His Cross with His All-Pure Mother and John, undoubtedly, she stayed with them during all the happier time after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. Thus in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles Saint Luke writes: that all the Apostles with one mind stayed in prayer and supplication, with certain women and Mary the Mother of Jesus and His brethren.
Holy Tradition testifies, that when the Apostles departed from Jerusalem for preaching to all the ends of the earth, then together with them also went Mary Magdalene to preach. A daring woman, whose heart was full of reminiscence of the Resurrection, she went beyond her native borders and set off to preach in pagan Rome. And everywhere she proclaimed to people about Christ and His Teaching, and when many did not believe that Christ is risen, she repeated to them what she had said to the Apostles on the radiant morning of the Resurrection: "I have seen the Lord!" With this preaching she made the rounds of all Italy.
Tradition relates, that in Italy Mary Magdalene visited the Emperor Tiberias (14-37 AD) and proclaimed to him about Christ's Resurrection. According to tradition, she took him a red egg as a symbol of the Resurrection, a symbol of new life with the words: "Christ is Risen!" Then she told the emperor about this, that in his Province of Judea was the innocently condemned Jesus the Galilean, an holy man, a maker or miracles, powerful before God and all mankind, executed on the instigation of the Jewish High-Priests and the sentence affirmed by the procurator named by Tiberias, Pontius Pilate.
Mary repeated the words of the Apostles, that believing in the Redemption of Christ from the vanity of life is not as with perishable silver or gold, but rather the precious Blood of Christ is like a spotless and pure Lamb.
Thanks to Mary Magdalene the custom to give each other paschal eggs on the day of the Luminous Resurrection of Christ spread among Christians over all the world. On one ancient hand-written Greek ustav, written on parchment, kept in the monastery library of Saint Athanasias near Thessalonika (Solunea), is an established prayer read on the day of Holy Pascha for the blessing of eggs and cheese, in which it is indicated, that the Hegumen (Abbot) in passing out the blessed eggs says to the brethren: "Thus have we received from the holy fathers, who preserved this custom from the very time of the holy apostles, wherefore the holy equal-unto-the-apostles Mary Magdalene first showed believers the example of this joyful offering".
Mary Magdalene continued her preaching in Italy and in the city of Rome itself. Evidently, the Apostle Paul has precisely her in view in his Epistle to the Romans (16, 6), where together with other ascetics of evangelic preaching he mentions Mary (Mariam), who as he expresses "has done much for us". Evidently, she extensively served the Church in its means of subsistence and its difficulties, being exposed to dangers, and sharing with the Apostles the labours of preaching.
According to Church tradition, she remained in Rome until the arrival of the Apostle Paul, and for two more years still, following his departure from Rome after the first court judgment upon him. From Rome Saint Mary Magdalene, already bent with age, moved to Ephesus where unceasingly laboured the holy Apostle John, who with her wrote the first 20 Chapters of his Gospel. There the saint finished her earthly life and was buried.
Her holy relics were transferred in the IX Century to the capital of the Byzantine Empire -- Constantinople, and placed in the monastery Church of Saint Lazarus. In the era of the Crusader campaigns they were transferred to Italy and placed at Rome under the altar of the Lateran Cathedral. Part of the relics of Mary Magdalene are located in France near Marseilles, where over them at the foot of a steep mountain is erected in her honour a splendid church.
The Orthodox Church honours the holy memory of Saint Mary Magdalene -- the woman, called by the Lord Himself from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.
Formerly immersed in sin and having received healing, she sincerely and irrevocably began a new life and never wavered from the path. Mary loved the Lord Who called her to a new life. She was faithful to Him not only then -- when He having expelled from her the seven demons and surrounded by enthusiastic crowds passed through the cities and villages of Palestine, winning for Himself the glory of a miracle-worker -- but also then when all the disciples in fear deserted Him and He, humiliated and crucified, hung in torment upon the Cross. This is why the Lord, knowing her faithfulness, appeared to her first, and esteemed her worthy to be first proclaiming His Resurrection.
Saint Markella lived in the village of Volissos, Chios sometime after the middle of the fourteenth century. Her parents were Christians, and among the wealthiest citizens of Volissos. The saint's mother died when she was young, and so her father, the mayor of the village, saw to her education.
She had been trained by her mother to be respectful and devout, and to guard her purity. She avoided associations with other girls who were more outgoing than she was so that she would not come to spiritual harm through such company. Her goal was to attain the Kingdom of Heaven, and to become a bride of Christ.
St Markella increased in virtue as she grew older, fasting, praying, and attending church services. She tried to keep the commandments and to lead others to God. She loved and respected her father, and comforted him in his sorrow. She told him she would take care of him in his old age, and would not abandon him.
As an adult, St Markella was loved by everyone for her beauty and for her spiritual gifts. The Enemy of our salvation tried to lure her into sin by placing evil thoughts in her mind. She resisted these temptations, and so the devil turned away from a direct confrontation with the young woman. Instead, he incited her father with an unnatural desire for his daughter.
Markella's father changed in his behavior toward her. He became moody and depressed, forbidding her to go into the garden or to speak with the neighbors. Unable to understand the reason for this change, the saint went to her room and wept. She prayed before an icon of the Mother of God, asking Her to help her father. Soon she fell asleep, only to be awakened by her father's shouting.
The unfortunate man had spent a long time struggling against his lust, but finally he gave in to it. At times he would speak to his daughter roughly, then later he would appear to be gentle. He wanted to be near her, and to stroke her hair. Unaware of her father's intentions, St Markella was happy to see him emerge from his melancholy state, thinking that her prayer had been answered.
One day, her father openly declared the nature of his feelings for her. Horrified, the saint tried to avoid him as much as she could. Even the neighbors realized that there was something wrong with the man, so they stopped speaking to him.
A shepherd was tending his sheep near the beach one morning, and was leading them into the shade of a plane tree to avoid the hot July sun. Just as he was about to lie down, he heard a noise and looked up. He saw a young woman with a torn dress running down the hill. She hid in a nearby bush, ignoring its thorns.
The shepherd wondered who was chasing her, and how she had come to this spot. Then he heard the sound of a horse approaching, and recognized the mayor of the village. He asked the shepherd if he had seen his daughter. He said that he had not seen her, but pointed to her hiding place with his finger.
The mayor ordered Markella to come out of the bush, but she refused. Therefore, he set fire to the bush in order to force her out. She emerged on the side opposite her father, and ran toward the rocky shore, calling out to the Mother of God for help.
Markella continued to run, even though blood was flowing from her face and hands. Feeling a sharp pain in her leg, she saw that she had been shot with an arrow. She paused to pull it out, then took to flight once more. She scrambled over the rocks, staining them with her blood. Hearing her father getting closer, she prayed that the earth would open up and swallow her.
The saint sank to her knees, her strength all gone, and then a miracle took place. The rock split open and received her body up to the waist. Her father drew near with wild-eyed joy shouting, "I have caught you. Now where will you go?
Drawing his sword, he began to butcher his helpless daughter, cutting off pieces of her body. Finally, he seized her by the hair and cut off her head, throwing it into the sea. At once the calm sea became stormy, and large waves crashed to the shore near the murderer's feet. Thinking that the sea was going to drown him because of his crime, he turned and fled. His ultimate fate has not been recorded.
In later years, pious Christians built a church on the spot where St Markella hid in the bush. The spot where she was killed became known as "The Martyrdom of St Markella," and the rock that opened to receive her is still there. The rock appears to be a large stone that broke off from a mountain and rolled into the sea. Soil from the mountain covers the spot on the side facing the land. On the side facing the ocean is a small hole, about the size of a finger. A healing water flows from the opening, which cures every illness.
The flow of water is not due to the movements of the tide, because when the tide is out, there would be no water. This, however, is not the case. The water is clear, but some of the nearby rocks have been stained with a reddish-yellow color. According to tradition, the lower extremities of St Markella's body are concealed in the rock.
The most astonishing thing about the rock is not the warmth of the water, nor the discoloration of the other rocks, but what happens when a priest performs the Blessing of Water. A sort of steam rises up from the water near the rock, and the entire area is covered with a mist. The sea returns to normal as soon as the service is over. Many miracles have occurred at the spot, and pilgrims flock there from all over the world.
Benedictine abbot, also called Wandregisilus and Vandrille. Born near Verdun, France, to a noble family and related to Blessed Pepin of Landen, he was sent to the court of the Frankish king Dagobert I (r. 629-639) of Austrasia (parts of modern Germany and France). There he wed in accordance with the wishes of his family. In 628, after a pilgrimage to Rome, he and his wife separated by mutual agreement so that each could enter the religious life. After living for a time as a hermit, he entered the Benedictine monastery of Montfaucon, in Champagne, France, where he lived for ten years. Wandrille then left the abbey to become a hermit at St. Ursanne, Jura. He then went to Roumain-Moutier, where he was ordained. He founded the monastery of Fontenelle, in Normandy a school as well as what was to become a leading missionary center and one of the respected monastic institutions of France.
The Monk Kornilii of Pereyaslavl', in the world Konon, was the son of a Ryazan merchant. In his youthful years he left his parental home and lived for five years as a novice of the Starets/Elder Paul in the Lukyanovsk wilderness near Pereyaslavl'. Afterwards the young ascetic transferred to the Pereyaslavl' monastery of Saints Boris and Gleb on the Peskakh/Sands. Konon eagerly went to church and unquestioningly did everything that they commanded him. In the refectory the holy novice did not sit down with the brethren, but contented himself with what remained, accepting food thrice a week. After five years he took monastic orders with the name Kornilii. From that time no one saw the monk sleeping on a bed. Several of the brethren scoffed at Saint Kornilii as foolish, but the monk quietly endured the insults and intensified his monastic efforts. Having asked permission of the hegumen to live as an hermit, he secluded himself into his own separately constructed cell and constantly practised asceticism in fasting and prayer. One time the brethren found him barely alive: the cell of the monk was locked from within. Three months the Monk Kornilii lay ill: he could take only water and juice. The monk, having recovered and being persuaded by the hegumen, stayed to live with the brethren. Saint Kornilii was sexton in church, he served in the refectory, and toiled in the garden. Blessing the labours of the monk, in the monastery garden there grew excellent apples, which he lovingly distributed to those approaching. From strict fasting the body of the Monk Kornilii was withered up, but he did not cease to toil: with his hands he built a well for the brethren. For thirty years the Monk Kornilii lived in complete silence, being considered by the brethren as deaf and dumb. Before his death on 22 July 1693, the Monk Kornilii made confession to the monastery priest Father Varlaam, communed the Holy Mysteries and took on the schema. The monk was buried in the chapel. After 9 years during the construction of a new church his relics were opened uncorrupt. In the year 1705 Saint Dimitrii, Metropolitan of Rostov, (Comm. 28 October), witnessed to the relics of the Monk Kornilii, and they were situated in the new church in a secluded place. Then the sainted bishop composed a tropar and kondak to the monk.
Blessed Kiprian, fool-for-Christ's-sake, was gatekeeper of the church in Voskresensk, near the city of Kovrov in Vladimir Diocese. Saint Kiprian pursued his calling in silence on an island near the mouth of the rivers Kliazma and Uvod. At his death on 22 July 1622 the body of the saint of God was buried near the church in the village of Voskresensk. In the year 1751 diligent admirers of the saint added a chapel to the church near his grave, in honour of the "Pokrov/Protection" of the Mother of God. On the iconographic original of the saint it says: "22 July the death of the holy righteous Kiprian, fool-for-Christ's-sake in the village Voskresensk and wonderworker of Suzdal'; in appearance dark-featured, hair hung behind the ears, a beard like (Saint John) the Theologian forked, in clothes of green, legs barefooted, hands in prayer".
The Holy Martyrs Trophymos, Theophilos, and Thirteen Holy Martyrs with them, suffered during the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Brought to trial, they bravely confessed themselves Christians and refused to offer sacrifice to idols. After fierce tortures, they threw the holy martyrs with broken legs into a fire. Strengthened by the Lord, they came out of the fire completely unharmed, and still all the moreso did they glorify Christ. Then in despair of breaking the will of the holy confessors, the torturers beheaded them.
The PriestMartyr Apollinarius, Bishop of Ravenna: During the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius (41-54), the holy Apostle Peter came to Rome from Antioch, and he ordained the Antiochene Apollinarius, who had come with him, to be bishop of Ravenna. Arriving in Ravenna as a stranger, Saint Apollinarius asked shelter of a local inhabitant, the soldier Ireneius, and in conversation with him revealed also for what purpose he had come. Ireneius had a blind son, whom Saint Apollinarius healed, having turned to the Lord with prayer. The soldier Ireneius and his family were the first in Ravenna to believe in Christ. The saint stayed at the house of Ireneius and preached about Christ to everyone wanting to hear what he said. One of the miracles of healing, done by Saint Apollinarius, was the healing of the incurably sick wife of the Ravenna tribune, Thecla. After she stood up from her bed completely healthy -- through the prayers of the saint, not only did she believe in Christ, but so also did the tribune. At the house of the tribune Saint Apollinarius constructed a small church, where he made Divine Liturgy. For the newly-baptised people of Ravenna Saint Apollinarius ordained two presbyters -- Aderetus and Calocyrus, and also two deacons.
Saint Apollinarius preached the Gospel at Ravenna for twelve years, and the number of Christians steadily increased. Pagan priests made complaint against the bishop to the governor Saturninus. Saint Apollinarius was brought to trial and subjected to grievous tortures. Thinking that he had died, the torturers took him out of the city to the sea-coast and threw him in. But the saint was alive. A certain pious Christian widow rendered him aid and gave him shelter in her home. Saint Apollinarius stayed at her home for six months and continued secretly to preach about Christ. The whereabouts of the saint became known, when he healed the loss of speech of an illustrious resident of the city named Boniface, at the request of his wife, who besought the help of the saint for her husband. After this miracle many pagans were converted to Christ, and they again brought Saint Apollinarius to trial and tortured him, setting his bared-feet on red-hot coals. They removed him from the city a second time, but the Lord again kept him alive. The saint did not cease preaching until they expelled him from the city. For a certain while Saint Apollinarius found himself elsewhere in Italy, where as before he continued to preach the Gospel. And again having returned to Ravenna to his flock, Saint Apollinarius again went on trial and was sentenced to banishment. In heavy fetters he was put on a ship sailing to Illyrica to the River Dunaj-Danube. Two soldiers were responsible to convey him to his place of exile. Three of the clergy voluntarily followed their bishop into exile. Along the way the vessel suffered shipwreck and all drowned, except for the rescued Saint Apollinarius, his acompanying clergy and the two soldiers. The soldiers, listening to Saint Apollinarius, believed in the Lord and accepted Baptism. Nowhere having found shelter, the travellers came to Mycea, where Saint Apollinarius healed a certain illustrious inhabitant from leprosy, and for which both he and his companions received shelter at his home. In this land Saint Apollinarius likewise preached tirelessly about Christ and he converted many of the pagans to Christianity, for which he was subjected to persecution on the part of unbelievers. They beat up the saint mercilessly, and boarding him on a ship sailing for Italy, they sent him back. After a three year absence, Saint Apollinarius returned to Ravenna and was joyfully received by his flock. The pagans, however, having fallen upon the church where the saint made Divine Liturgy, scattered those at prayer, and dragged the saint to the idolatrous priests in the pagan temple of Apollo, where the idol fell just as they brought in the saint, and it shattered. The pagan priests brought Saint Apollinarius for trial to the new governor of the district, named Taurus. Apollinarius worked here a new miracle -- he healed the son of the governor, who had been blind from birth. In gratitude for the healing of his son, Taurus strove to shelter Saint Apollinarius from the angry crowd. He dispatched him to his own estate outside the city, where the son and wife of Taurus were baptised, but he himself fearing the anger of the emperor did not accept Baptism, but conducted himself with gratitude and love towards his benefactor. Saint Apollinarius lived for five years at the estate of Taurus and preached without hindrance about salvation. During this time pagan priests dispatched letters of denunciation to the emperor Vespasian with a request for a sentence of death or exile of the Christian "sorcerer" Apollinarius. But the emperor answered the pagan priests, that the gods were sufficiently powerful to take revenge for themselves, if they reckoned themselves insulted. All the wrath of the pagans fell upon Saint Apollinarius: they caught hold of him when the saint left the city setting out for a nearby settlement, and they beat him fiercely. Christians found him barely alive and took him to the settlement, where he survived for seven days. During the time of his pre-death illness the saint did not cease to teach his flock and he predicted, that after persecution Christians would enter upon better times, when they could openly and freely confess their faith. Having given those present his archpastoral blessing, the PriestMartyr Apollinarius expired to the Lord. Saint Apollinarius was bishop of Ravenna for 28 years and he died in the year 75.
The Martyress Christina lived during the III Century. She was born into a rich family, and her father was governor of Tyre. By the age of 11 the girl was exceptionally beautiful, and many wanted to be married to her. Christina's father, however, envisioned that his daughter should become a pagan-priestess. To this end he situated her in a special dwelling, where he had set up many gold and silver idols, and he commanded his daughter to burn incense before them. Two servants attended to Christina.
In her solitude Christina began to ponder over the thought, -- who had created this beautiful world? From her room she was delighted by the stars of the heavens and she constantly came back to the thought about the One Maker of all the world. She was convinced, that the voiceless and soul-less idols standing in her room could not create anything, since they themselves were created by human hands. She began to pray to the One God with tears, beseeching Him to reveal Himself. Her soul blazed with love for the Unknown God, and she intensified her prayer all the more, and combining with it fasting.
One time Christina had the visitation of an Angel, which instructed her in the true faith in Christ, the Saviour of the world. The Angel called her a bride of Christ and announced to her about her future act of suffering. The holy virgin smashed all the idols standing in her room and cast them out the window. In visiting his daughter Christina's father, Urban, asked her where all the idols had disappeared. Christina was silent. Then, having summoned the servants, Urban learned the truth from them. In a rage the father began to slap his daughter on the face. The holy virgin at first remained quiet, but then she revealed to her father about her faith in the One True God, and that by her own hands she had destroyed the idols. Urban then gave orders to kill all the servants in attendance upon his daughter, and he gave Christina a fierce beating and threw her in prison. Having learned about what had happened, the mother of Saint Christina came in tears, imploring her to renounce Christ and to return to her ancestral beliefs. But Christina remained unyielding. On another day Urban brought his daughter to trial and urged her to offer worship to the gods, to ask forgiveness for her misdeeds, but he saw instead her firm and steadfast confession of faith in Christ.
The torturers tied her to an iron wheel, beneathe which they set a fire. The body of the martyress, turning round on the wheel, was scorched from all sides. They then threw her in prison.
An Angel of God appeared at night, healing her from her wounds and strengthening her with food. Her father, in the morning seeing her unharmed, gave orders to drown her in the sea. But an Angel sustained the saint while the stone sank down, and Christina miraculously came out from the water and re-appeared before her father. In terror, the torturer imputed this to the doings of sorcery and he decided to execute her in the morning. But by night he himself suddenly died. Another governor, Dion, was sent in his place. He summoned the holy martyress and likewise tried to persuade her to renounce Christ, but seeing her unyielding firmness, he again subjected her to cruel tortures. The holy martyress was for a long while in prison. People began to throng to her, and she converted them to the true faith in Christ. Thus about 300 were converted.
In place of Dion, a new governor Julian arrived and anew set about the torture of the saint. After various tortures, Julian gave orders to throw her into a red-hot furnace and lock her in it. After five days they opened the furnace and found the martyress alive and unharmed. Seeing this miracle take place, many believed in Christ the Saviour, and the torturers executed Saint Christina with a sword.
Saint Hilarion of Tvali (Tulashvili) served as abbot of Khakhuli Monastery in southwestern Georgia at the beginning of the 11th century.
In his work The Life of George of the Holy Mountain, George the Lesser writes that Venerable Hilarion was outstanding in virtue and celebrated for his sermons and ascetic labors.
St. Hilarion raised the young George of the Holy Mountain to be a brilliant writer, translator, theologian and patriot. From him George also received a blessing to enter the monastic life.
According to the chronicle Life of Kartli, St. Hilarion was a famous translator and writer and an eminent theologian.
Eventually St. Hilarion moved from Khakhuli to Tvali Monastery, not far from Antioch, where he remained for the rest of his life. According to the 19th-century historian-iconographer Michael Sabinin, St. Hilarion reposed in the year 1041.
Saint Boris was one of the sons of St Vladimir (July 15), and was named Romanus at his Baptism. After their father's death the eldest son Sviatopolk planned to kill his brothers Boris, Gleb, and Yaroslav in order to seize power. He sent a message to Boris, pretending that he wished to live in peace with him, and to increase Boris's land holdings inherited from their father.
Some of Vladimir's advisers told Boris that he should take the army and establish himelf as ruler of Kiev. St Boris, however, said that he could never lift his hand against his own brother. Unfortunately, Sviatopolk was not so scrupulous. He came to the town of Vyshegorod to ask its leaders if they were loyal to him. They assured him that they were ready to die for him.
Sviatopolk sent assassins to the Alta to kill Boris, who already knew that his brother wanted him dead. When they arrived they heard him chanting psalms and praying before an icon of Christ. He asked the Lord to strengthen him for the suffering he was about to endure. He also prayed for Sviatopolk, asking God not to count this against him as sin.
Then he lay down upon his couch, and the assassins stabbed him with their lances, and also killed some of Boris's servants. Wrapping Boris in a cloth, they threw him onto a wagon and drove off with him. When Sviatopolk saw that he was still breathing, he sent some men to finish him off with swords.
St Boris received the crown of martyrdom in 1015. He and his brother Gleb became known as Passion-Bearers, since they did not resist evil with violence.
Saint Gleb was the son of St Vladimir (July 15) and the brother of Sviatopolk, Yaroslav, and St Boris. He was named David at his Baptism.
After Sviatopolk had killed Boris, he wondered, "Now how can I kill Gleb?" He sent him a message saying that their father was ill and wished to see him. As he was on his way, he received word from Yaroslav that their father had died and that Sviatopolk had murdered Boris.
St Gleb wept for his father and brother, and was lamenting them when the assassins arrived. They seized his boat and drew their weapons, but it was Gleb's cook Torchin who stabbed him with a knife.The martyr's body was thrown onto the shore between two trees. Later, he was buried beside St Boris in the church of St Basil.
The holy martyrs Princes Boris and Gleb are also commemorated on May 2.
Late in the fourth century St. Declan was born somewhere between Cappoquin and Lismore. Several townslands claim his birthplace, Kilcolman and Toor especially. Descended from the Princes of the Decies, Declan was baptised by a monk called Coleman, who later sent him to the school of Dioma where he studied many subjects [ including religion ].He travelled to the Continent to complete his education and he was ordained in Gaul or modern France, just, as tradition tells us, was St. Patrick.
When he returned to his own country of Na Deise Declan commenced preaching Christianity and among his disciples were Machaig of Kilmacleague, near Tramore, and Ciaran who lived in the mountains between Knockmealdown and the Galtee mountains. While successful with the ordinary people, Declan made little headway with the Gaelic chieftains, so he called an assembly of the people of the Deise and this resulted in the King of na Deise being deposed and Fearghail MacCormaic being voted King in his place.
Declan’s first monastery was at Tubrid before he moved to Ardmore, where a large monastery and school developed under his guidance. Such was its fame later that scholars and students from all parts of Ireland and beyond swelled the community. Besides the monastery, the school and accommodation for the students, a fine Cathedral was built at Ardmore, and from here Declan held power over all na Deise except the environs and city of Waterford. Thus when St. Patrick arrived in Ireland in 423 to bring Christianity to the wild men and women of Hibernia he was surprised to find his beloved religion already being practiced here. Even more surprising he found that there were four Bishops already preaching the Good News - Ailbhe, Ciaran, Declan and Ibar.
In the life of St. Declan is a description of him travelling from his monastery at Tubrid – situated between Sliabh Crot and Slieve gCua to meet St.Patrick at Mullaghneony near Clonmel. Here St.Patrick appointed Declan bishop of all Na Deise and made him Patron of the diocese for all time. In a life of St.Declans, preserved in St. Isidore’s College in Rome, St.Patrick is quoted as saying: “Deaglan Padraig na nDesie - Na Deise ag Deaglain go Beo”.
Some years later when Declan travelled to meet St.Patrick at Mullaghneony again he covered a different route from Ardmore through Ballinamult and Modeligo. Traces of this route still remain and it is called ‘The Path of St.Patrick’s Cow’as opposed to the first route known as St.Declans Path - part of which has been mapped and sign-posted from the Ardmore end. Tradition tells us that St.Declan laboured long and fruitfully for the lord and he reputed to have travelled as far as Wales and Italy. The huge St.Declans stone on the beach at Ardmore “is believed to have floated from Rome - after the boat in which St.Declan was travelling - bearing a large bell which the Saint had forgotten”. (The Holy Well Tradition by S.O Cadhla ).The mark of the now lost bell is said to visible on the top of the rock.
During the Pattern of Ardmore, celebrated on 24 July, the date of St. Declans death, pilgrims try to crawl under St.Declans stone as their chief penitential exercises. Unrepentant sinners are said to have great difficulty in squeezing through this ‘eye of a needle’ as mentioned in the gospel. Hopefully other ‘rounds’ that are performed around St.Declans Chapel, Grave, Rock, Skull or Well can be sufficiently penitential.
The Child SchemaMonk Bogolep was the son of a Moscow nobleman Yakov Lukich Umakov and his wife Ekatarina. He was born in 1660 at Moscow. During Baptism they gave the new-born the name Boris, in honour of the holy nobleborn Prince PassionBearer ("Strastoterpets") Boris (Comm. 24 July).
Umakov was appointed voevoda (military-commander) in the city of Chernyi Yar, situated 250 versts from Astrakhan. He was known for his integrity. Boris from infancy displayed unusual traits. On Wednesdays and Fridays he would not suckle the milk from his mother's breasts; when the bells pealed at the church, he began to cry and at once became quiet, when they brought him into the church. When they did not take the infant to church, he cried all day and ate nothing.
In 1662 a deadly pestilence spread about in Russia. The child fell ill -- the pestilence afflicted him in the legs. He became lame, but continued to walk to church. The parents prayed about the health of their son and they tried everything in their power, that he would be healed. But no sooner had the one illness gone, than upon his face there appeared another, called scales.
One time during his illness the child saw a wandering monk, who visited at their home. The angelic garb so impressed the child, that he began to implore his parents to dew him suchlike garb and permit him to take monastic tonsure. Amidst this the holy lad proclaimed: "Lo, ye wilt see for yourselves, when ye tonsure and grant me the angelic garb, I shall be well". The parents consented. The child was invested in the schema with the name Bogolep (the Russian version of the Greek name Theoprepios, meaning -- "in the semblance of God"). On the next day the holy schema-monk was completely healthy, his face was clear and there remained not a trace of the illness. But on the third day there was a new illness, he was feverish, and it mortally struck down the lad. He died on 1 August 1667 and was buried at the left wall of the wooden Chernoyarsk church in honour of the Resurrection of Christ. (This church was erected, following a great conflagration in Chernyi Yar, in the year 1652 on 24 July, the day of memory of Saint Boris). Over the grave of the lad was built a chapel.
Numerous miracles of healing through the prayers of the holy SchemaMonk Bogolep appear to be the basis of establishing the feastday to him on his name-day in common ("tezoimenitstvo") with the holy nobleborn Prince Boris -- 24 July.
The life of the holy SchemaMonk Bogolep was compiled under a vow by the Chernoyarsk merchant Savva Tatarinov during the years 1731-1732.
Icons of the saint, with the tropar and kondak to him, were widely dispersed throughout the Astrakhan region.
In 1750 on the place of the wooden church was built a stone church with a side-altar in honour of the holy Martyr John the Warrior. The grave of the holy schema-monk was enclosed in this side-altar. The bank of the river, at which the church of the Resurrection of Christ was situated, was constantly eroding. By the mid XIX Century the structure of the church was threatened, and they removed all the holy things from it. But for a long time the Chernoyarsk people did not remove the chief holy thing -- the grave of the holy schema-monk. Finally, in 1851 when the water had already approached 2 arshin [4 ft. 8 in.], the people recoursed to the MostHoly Synod with a request to transfer the holy remains of the Schema-Monk Bogolep, and they received permission for this. The small child's coffin was laid bare, but just when the city head took it into his hands, it slid out from his hands and together with the crumbled earth it disappeared into the waters of the Volga.
This disappearance just at the opening of the grave was accepted as happening at the Will of God, since the holy lad had repeatedly appeared to many either in sleep, or awake while walking along the river bank or coming down the hill. Amidst this he gave the consolation, that spiritually he would be present with believers.
The simple life, but full of the mysteries of God, of the holy Schema-Monk Bogolep manifests the power of the words of the Saviour concerning children: "Let the children come unto Me and hinder them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God. Truly I tell ye: whoso cometh not to the Kingdom of God as a little child, shalt not enter therein. And, having hugged them, He raised His hands over them and He blessed them" (Mk. 10: 14-16).
The Falling-Asleep (Dormition-Uspenie) of Righteous Anna, Mother of the MostHoly Mother of God: The God-wise, God-blest and Blessed Anna was the daughter of the priest Nathan and his wife Mary, from the tribe of Levi by descent of Aaron. According to tradition, she died peacefully in Jerusalem at age 79, before the Annunciation of the MostHoly Virgin Mary. During the reign of the holy Saint Justinian the Emperor (527-565), a church was built in her honour at Deutera. And emperor Justinian II (685-695; 705-711) restored her church, since Righteous Anna had appeared to his pregnant wife. And it was at this time that her body and omaphorion (veil) were transferred to Constantinople. (The account about Righteous Joakim and Anna is located under 9 September).
Saint Olympiada the Deaconess was the daughter of the senator Anicius Secundus, and by her mother she was the grand-daughter of the noted eparch Eulalios (he is mentioned in the account about the miracles of Saint Nicholas). Before her marriage to Anicius Secundus, Olympiada's mother had been married to the Armenian emperor Arsak and became widowed. When Saint Olympiada was still very young, her parents betrothed her to a nobleborn youth. The marriage was supposed to take place when Saint Olympiada reached the age of maturity. The bridegroom soon however died, and Saint Olympiada did not wish to enter into another marriage, but instead preferred a life of virginity. After the death of her parents she became the heir to great wealth, which she began top distribute with a general hand to all the needy: the poor, the orphaned and the widowed; she likewise gave significant monies to the churches, monasteries, hospices and shelters for the downtrodden and the homeless.
Holy Patriarch Nektarios (381-397) appointed Saint Olympiada as a deaconess. The blessed saint fulfilled her service honourably and beyond reproach.
Saint Olympiada provided great assistance to hierarchs coming to Constantinople -- Amphylokhios, Bishop of Iconium, Onysimos of Pontum, Gregory the Theologian, Saint Basil the Great's brother Peter of Sebasteia, Epiphanios of Cyprus -- and she attended to them all with great love. Her wealth she did not regard as her own but rather God's, and she distributed not only to good people, but also to their enemies.
Saint John Chrysostom (+ 407, Comm. 13 November) had high regard for Saint Olympiada and he bestowed her his good-will and spiritual love. And when this holy hierarch was guiltlessly and unjustly banished, Saint Olympiada together with the other deaconesses were deeply upset. Leaving the church for the last time, Saint John Chrysostom called out to Saint Olympiada and the other deaconesses Pentadia, Proklia and Salbina, and he said that the matters incited against him would come to an end, but scarcely more would they see him. He asked them not to abandon the church but instead be obedient to the bishop who would be appointed in his place, since the Church is not able to be without bishop. The holy women, shedding tears, fell down before the saint.
The Alexandria patriarch Theophilos (385-412), having repeatedly benefited formerly through the generosity of Saint Olympiada, turned against her for her devotion to Saint John Chrysostom, but also for the additional reason, that she had taken in and fed monks arriving in Constantinople, whom Patriarch Theophilos had banished from the Egyptian wilderness. He levelled unrighteous accusations against her attempted to cast doubt on her holy life.
After the banishment of Saint John Chrysostom, the cathedral church of Saint Sophia caught fire and after this a large part of the city burnt down.
All the supporters of Saint John Chrysostom came under suspicion of arson, and they were summoned for interrogation. And then also did Saint Olympiada suffer. They summoned her to trial, rigourously interrogating her, and although they did not produce any proof, they sentenced her to payment of a large fine of money for the arson, of which she was not guilty. After this the saint left Constantinople and set out to Kyzikos (on the Sea of Marmara). But her enemies did not cease with their persecution: in the year 405 they sentenced her to imprisonment at Nicomedia, where the saint underwent much grief and deprivation. Saint John Chrysostom wrote to her from his exile, consoling her in her sorrow. In the year 409 Saint Olympiada died in imprisonment.
Saint Olympiada appeared in a dream to the Nicomedia bishop and commanded, that her body be placed in a wooden coffin and cast into the sea: "Whither the waves carry the coffin, there let my body be buried", -- said the saint. The coffin was brought by the waves to a place named Brokhti near to Constantinople. The inhabitants, informed of this by God, took the holy relics of Saint Olympiada and put them in the church of the holy Apostle Thomas. Afterwards, during the time of an invasion of enemies, the church was burned, but the relics were preserved and under the Patriarch Sergios (610-638) they were transferred to Constantinople and put at the women's monastery founded by Saint Olympiada. From her relics miracles occurred and healings made.
The Nun Eupraxia was daughter of the Constantinople dignitary Antigonos, a kinsman of the holy Emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395).
Antigonos and his wife Eupraxia were pious and bestowed generous alms on the destitute. A daughter was born to them, whom they likewise named Eupraxia. Antigonos soon died. The mother withdrew from the imperial court and together with her daughter she set out to Egypt under the pretext of looking over her properties. And there near the Thebaid was a women's monastery with a strict monastic rule. The life of the inhabitants attracted the pious widow. She wanted to bestow aid on this monastery, but the hegumeness Theophila refused and said, that the nuns had fully devoted themselves to God and that they did not wish the acquisition of any earthly riches. The hegumeness consented to accept only candles, incense and oil.
The younger Eupraxia was at this time seven years old. She liked the monastic manner of life and she decided to remain at the monastery. Her pious mother did not stand in the way of her daughter's wish. Taking leave of her daughter at the monastery, Eupraxia asked her daughter to be humble, never to dwell upon her nobleborn descent, and to serve God and her sisters fervently. In a short while the mother died. Having learned of her death, the emperor Saint Theodosius sent Saint Eupraxia the Younger a letter, in which he reminded her, that her parents had betrothed her to the son of a certain senator for when she reached age fifteen, and that he desired that she would fulfill the commitment made by her parents. In answer to the letter, Saint Eupraxia wrote to the emperor, that she had already become a bride of Christ and she requested of the emperor to dispose of her properties, distributing the proceeds for the use of the Church and the needy.
Saint Eupraxia, having reached the age of maturity, intensified her ascetic efforts all the more. At first she partook of food once a day, then after two days -- three days or more and finally, once a week. She combined her fasting with the fulfilling of all her monastic obediences: she toiled humbly in the kitchen, she washed dishes, she swept the premisses and served the sisters with zeal and love. And the sisters loved the unpretentious Eupraxia. But one of them envied her and explained away all her efforts as a desire for glory. This sister began to trouble and to reproach her, but the holy virgin did not answer her back, and instead humbly asked forgiveness.
The enemy of the human race caused the saint much misfortune. One time in getting water she fell into the well, from which the sisters extracted her; another time Saint Eupraxia was chopping wood for the kitchen and cut herself on the leg with an axe. When she carried an armload of wood up upon the ladder, she stepped on the hem of her garment, she fell and a sharp splinter cut her near the eyes. All these woes Saint Eupraxia endured with patience, and when they asked her to give herself a rest, she would not consent. For her efforts, the Lord granted Saint Eupraxia a gift of wonderworking: through her prayer she healed a deaf and dumb crippled child, and she delivered from infirmity a demon-oppressed woman. They began to bring the sick for healing to the monastery. The holy virgin humbled herself all the more, reckoning herself least among the sisters. Before the death of Saint Eupraxia, the hegumeness had a vision. The holy virgin was transported into a resplendid palace and was greeted with a spot before the Throne of the Lord surrounded by holy Angels, and the All-Pure Virgin showed Saint Eupraxia about the luminous chamber and said to her, that She had made ready for her and that she would come into this habitation after the space of ten days.
The hegumeness and the sisters wept bitterly, not wanting to lose Saint Eupraxia. The saint herself, in learning about the vision, wept that she was not prepared for going into eternity, and she besought the hegumeness to implore the Lord to leave her alive even one year more for repentance. The hegumeness consoled Saint Eupraxia and said, that the Lord would grant her His great mercy. Suddenly Saint Eupraxia sensed herself not well, and having sickened, she soon peacefully died at age thirty (+ 413).
The Monk Makarii of Zheltovodsk and Unzhensk was born in the year 1349 at Nizhni-Novgorod into a pious family. At twelve years of age he secretly left his parents and accepted monastic tonsure at the Nizhegorodsk Pechersk monastery under Saint Dionysii (afterwards Archbishop of Suzdal'; + 1385, Comm. 26 June). With all the intensity of his youthful soul he gave himself over to the work of salvation: extremely strict fasting and exact fulfilling of the monastic rule distinguished him amongst the brethren.
The parents of the Monk Makarii only learned three years later where he had taken himself off to. His father went to him and tearfully besought his son merely that he would come forth and show himself. The Monk Makarii conversed with his father through a wall and said, that he would see him in the future life. "Extend me at least thine hand," -- implored the father. The son fulfilled this small request and the father, having kissed the extended hand of his son, returned home. Burdened by fame, the humble Makarii set out to the shores of the River Volga and here he pursued asceticism near the waters of Lake Zhelta. Here by firm determination and patience he overcame the abuse of the enemy of salvation. Lovers of solitude gathered to the Monk Makarii, and in 1435 he organised for them a monastery in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity. Here also he began to preach Christianity to the surrounding Cheremis and Chuvash peoples, and he baptised both Mahometans and pagans in the lake, which received its name from the saint. When the Kazan Tatars destroyed the monastery in 1439, they took captive the Monk Makarii. Out of respect for his piety and charitable love, the khan released the saint from captivity and set free together with him nearly 400 Christians. But in return they accepted the word of the Monk Makarii not to settle by Lake Zhelta. The Monk Makarii reverently buried those killed at his monastery, and he set out 200 versts to the Galich border. During the time of this resettlement all those on the way were fed in miraculous manner through the prayers of the monk. Having arrived at the city of Unzha, the Monk Makarii 15 versts from the city set up a cross and built a cell on the shores of Lake Unzha. And here he founded a new monastery. During the fifth year of his life at Lake Unzha the Monk Makarii took sick and reposed at age 95.
While yet alive, the Monk Makarii was granted a graced gift: he healed a blind and demon-afflicted girl. After the death of the monk, many received healing from his relics. The monks erected over his grave a temple and established a life-in-common rule at the monastery. In 1522 Tatars fell upon Unzha and wanted to tear apart the silver reliquary in the Makariev monastery, but they fell blind, and in a panic they took to flight. Many of them drowned in the Unzha. In 1532, through the prayers of the Monk Makarii, the city of Soligalich was saved from the Tatars, and in gratitude the inhabitants built a chapel in the cathedral church in honour of the saint. More than 50 people received healing from grievous infirmities through the prayers of the Monk Makarii, -- this was certified to by a commission, dispatched by Patriarch Philaret in 1619.
The Monk Christopher of Sol'vychegodsk and Koryazhemsk was a student and novice under the Monk Longin, hegumen of the Koryazhemsk monastery. After the death of his teacher, the Monk Christopher dwelt for yet another ten years at the Koryazhemsk monastery, and then he settled along the upper tributaries of the Large Koryazhemka, where he lived in solitude.
When novices began to come to him, the Monk Christopher founded a monastery and built a church in honour of the Hodegetria Icon of the Mother of God, which he brought with him to this place, and from which they received many healings. The monastery of the Monk Christopher was famed for the strictness of life of its residents, and also for a curative water-spring, from which there was received a relief from illness by Anastasia (1457-1460), the spouse of Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584). In 1572 the Monk Christopher left the monastery and he secretly settled alone in an unknown place. They say, that the Monk Christopher died between the years 1572-1582.
The Holy Martyrs Sactus (Sanctus), Maturus, Attalus, Blandina, Biblius (Viblius), Vittius, Epagathus, Pontinus, Alexander and 43 Others were tortured by the pagans for their belief in Christ in the city of Lyons (then named Lugdunum) under the emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180), in the year 177. After a vicious death, their bodies were burned, and the ashes thrown into the River Rhone.
The Fifth OEcumenical Council (Constantinople II) was at Constantinople, held under the holy Emperor Saint Justinian I (527-565) in the year 553, to resolve the question about the Orthodoxy of three long-since dead bishops: Theodore of Mopsuetia, Theodoret of Kyr (Cyr) and Ibas of Edessa, who had expressed Nestorian opinions in their writings way back in the time of the Third OEcumenical Council (at Ephesus in year 431, Comm. 9 September). These three bishops had not been condemned later at the Fourth OEcumenical Council (at Chalcedon in year 451, Comm. 16 July), which condemned the Monophysites, and in turn had been accused by the Monophysites of Nestorianism. And therefore, to remove from the Monophysites the stance of accusing the Orthodox of sympathy for Nestorianism, and also to dispose the heretical party towards unity with the followers of the Chalcedon Council, the emperor Saint Justinian issued an edict: in it were condemned three "Chapters" of the three deceased bishops. But since the edict was issued on the emperor's initiative, and since it was not acknowledged by representatives of all the Church (particularly in the West, and in part, in Africa), a dispute arose about the "Three Chapters". The Fifth OEcumenical Council was convened for resolving this dispute.
At this Council were present 165 bishops. Pope Vigilius, while being present in Constantinople, refused to participate in the Council, although he was three times asked to do so by official deputies in the name of the gathered bishops and the emperor himself. The Council was opened with Sainted Eutykhios, Patriarch of Constantinople (552-565, 577-582), presiding. In accordance with the imperial edict, the matter of the "Three Chapters" was carefully examined in eight prolonged sessions from 4 May to 2 June 553. Anathema was pronounced against the person and teachings of Theodore of Mopsuetia unconditionally. But as regards Theodore and Ibas the condemnations were confined only to certain of their treatises, while they as persons had been cleared without doubt by the Chalcedon Council because of repentance, and they were thus spared from anathema. The need of this measure was that certain of the proscribed works contained expressions used by the Nestorians to interpret to their own ends the definitions of the Chalcedon Council. But the leniency of the fathers of this Fifth OEcumenical Council, in a spirit of moderating economy as regards the persons of bishops Theodore and Ibas, instead embittered the Monophysites against the decisions of the Council. Besides which, the emperor had given the orders to promulgate the Conciliar decisions together with a chastening of excommunication against Pope Vigilius, as being like-minded with the heretics. The Pope afterwards concurred with the general frame of mind of the fathers and gave his signature on the Conciliar definition. But the bishops of Istria and all the region of the Aquilea metropolia remained more than a century in schism.
At the Council the fathers likewise examined the errors of presbyter Origen, a long since dead reknown Church teacher of the III Century. His teaching about the pre-existence of the human soul was condemned. Other heretics were also condemned, who did not admit of the universal resurrection of the dead.
Both the Monophysite and the Nestorian heresies ultimately deny the Chalcedon Fourth OEcumenical Council's definition of the Son of God our Lord Jesus Christ as One Divine Person -- the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity -- in a mysteried hypostatic union (without mixture or confusion) of His perfect Divine Nature and His perfect Human Nature. The Monophysite (OneNature) heresy affirms only the Divine Nature of Christ, and denies His Human Nature. At the opposite pole, the earlier Nestorian heresy in various forms asserts that there are two persons in Christ: the one Divine, the other Human; which is to say that there is a Christ Who is God and a Christ Who is man -- but they are not one and the same Person, which is ultimately to say that the Only-Begotten Son of God did not truly become humanly the Son of Man, but remains separate. Nestorianism is also a Mariological heresy, asserting that Mary is only "Christotokos" (bearer of Christ), but that She is not "Theotokos" ("Bogoroditsa", i.e. Mother of God, "Bogomater", "Mater tou Theou"). Both these heresies originate in an attempt to quell the "intellectual scandal", that in Christ, God truly has become Man, while perfectly preserving the dignity and integrity of both the Divine and the Human Natures -- that our Lord Jesus Christ is truly the God-Man, rather than being "merely God" or "merely Man". Both heresies are imperfect attempts to deal with the abyss separating God and man -- which is overcome in the salvific Divine Person of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The imperial intrusion of Justinian on the Church's perogatives obviously but worsened matters. The innovation of retroactively anathemising those long since dead was in general greeted with dismay by many, and Justinian himself is alleged to have for a time flirted with the Monothelite heresy whilst persecuting the Orthodox. The secular considerations of restoring under Justinian's rule the Roman "Western Empire" underlay the captivity and rough treatment of Pope Vigilius, and the need for Byzantium to placate Monophysite Egypt, in vain, as indeed our account relates. But amidst all the external considerations, it pleased the Lord that the Holy Spirit should inspire the fathers of the Council in a further definition of Orthodoxy, that preserves the integrity and dignity both of God and of mankind, without the distortion of either that transpires within the Nestorian or Monophysite heresies.
The PriestMartyrs Hermolaus, Hermippos and Hermocrates, Clergy of Nicomedia, were among the small number of those remaining alive after the burning of 20,000 Christians of the Nicomedia Church in the year 303 (Comm. 28 December), -- done upon the orders of the emperor Maximian (284-305). They hid themselves in remote places and did not cease to teach pagans the Christian faith. Often there passed by the house, in which Saint Hermolaus had concealed himself, the young pagan named Pantoleon (Holy GreatMartyr Panteleimon, Comm. 27 July). One time Saint Hermolaus chanced upon the youth and asked him to stop by for him at the house. In their conversation Saint Hermolaus began to explain to his guest the falseness, impiety and vanity of worshipping the pagan gods. From that day on Pantoleon began daily to visit Saint Hermolaus and received of him holy Baptism. When the trial of the holy GreatMartyr Panteleimon was being held, Saints Hermolaus, Hermippos and Hermokrates, were also arrested. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saint Hermolaus on an evening and revealed to him, that on the following day he would suffer for Him and receive a martyr's crown. Saints Hermippos and Hermokrates were arrested and brought to trial after Saint Hermolaus. All three were given the chance to abjure from Christ and offer sacrifice to idols. But they resolutely refused, confessed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and were prepared gladly to die for Him. The pagans began to threaten the holy priests with torture and death. Suddenly a strong earthquake occurred, and the idols and pagan temple collapsed and shattered. A report was made about this to the emperor. The enraged Maximian gave the holy martyrs over to torture and pronounced upon them a sentence of death. Bravely enduring all the torments, the holy PriestMartyrs Hermolaus, Hermippos and Hermokrates were beheaded in about the year 305.
The Monk Moisei (Moses) the Ugrian (Hungarian) of Pechersk, by descent a Magyar, was a brother of the Monk Ephrem of Novotorzh (+ 1053, Comm. 28 January), and of Saint George. Together with them he entered into the service of the holy Nobleborn Prince Boris (+ 1015, Comm. 24 July). After the murder in 1015 of Saint Boris at the River Al'ta, -- Saint George also perishing with him, Saint Moisei fled and hid himself away at Kiev with Predslava, sister of prince Yaroslav. In 1018, when the Polish king Boleslav seized Kiev, Saint Moisei and his companions wound up in Poland as captives.
Built tall and handsome, Saint Moisei attracted to himself the attention of a certain rich Polish widow, who burned with a passionate desire for him and wanted to make him her husband, after ransom from captivity. Saint Moisei resolutely refused to exchange captivity for slavery to a wife. But, despite his refusal, the Polish woman bought the captive.
She tried every which way to seduce the youth, but he preferred hunger pains to banquets of food. Then the Polish woman began to convey Saint Moisei through her lands, thinking to captivate him by power and riches. Saint Moisei told her, that he would not trade spiritual riches for the perishable things of this world, and that he would become a monk.
Passing through the area, an Athonite priest-monk gave Saint Moisei monastic vows. The Polish woman gave orders to stretch Saint Moisei on the ground and to beat him with canes, such that the ground became soaked with blood. She sought permission of Boleslav to do with the captive all that she pleased. The shameless woman once gave orders to put Saint Moisei on a bed with her, she kissed and embraced him, but she accomplished nothing by this. Saint Moisei said: "From the fear of God I loathe thee as impure". Hearing this, the Polish woman gave orders to give the saint each day an hundred lashes, and then to emasculate him. Boleslav soon undertook a persecution against all the monks in the land. But a sudden death overtook him. A revolt arose in Poland, in which the widow also was killed. Having recovered from his wounds, the Monk Moisei arrived at the Pechersk monastery, bearing on himself martyr's wounds and a crown of confessor as a victor and courageous warrior of Christ. The Lord provided him strength over the sufferings. A certain monastic brother, oppressed by impure passion, went to the Monk Moisei and besought his help, saying: "I give promise to keep to the death everything that thou dost direct me". The Monk Moisei said: "Never in life speak a word with a woman". The brother promised to obey the advice of the monk. Saint Moisei had in his hand a staff, without which he was not able to walk because of the wounds which he had received. With this staff the Monk Moisei struck at the chest of the brother who had approached him, and immediately that one was delivered from temptation. The Monk Moisei pursued asceticism at Pechersk for 10 years; he died in about the year 1043 and was buried in the Nearer Caves. With a touch to the holy relics and fervent prayer to him, the Pechersk monks were wont to be healed of fleshly temptations.
The MonasticMartyress Paraskeva was the only daughter of Christian parents and from the time of her early years she dedicated herself to God. Living in her parental home, she spent much of her time at prayer and the study of the Holy Scriptures. After the death of her parents Saint Paraskeva distributed all of her inheritance to the poor, took on monasticism, and emulating the holy Apostles she began to preach to the pagans about Christ, converting many to Christianity.
A denunciation about her activity was made to the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161), and Saint Paraskeva was brought to trial. She fearlessly confessed herself a Christian. Neither enticements of honours and material blessings, nor threats of torture and death shook the firmness of the saint nor turned her from Christ. She was given over to beastly tortures. On her head they put a red-hot helmet and threw her in a cauldron with boiling tar. But by the power of God the holy martyress remained unharmed. When the emperor peered into the cauldron, Saint Paraskeva threw him in the face a droplet of the red-hot tar, and he was burned. The emperor began to ask her for healing, and the holy martyress healed him. After this the emperor sent Saint Paraskeva free.
Traveling from one place to another preaching the Gospel, Saint Paraskeva arrived in a city, where the governor was named Asclepius. Here again they tried the saint and sentenced her to death. They took her to an immense serpent living in a cave, so that it would devour her. But Saint Paraskeva made the sign of the Cross over the snake and it died. Asclepius and the citizens in seeing this miracle and believed in Christ and set free the saint. She continued her preaching. In a city, where the governor was a certain Tarasius, Saint Paraskeva received a martyr's death. After fierce tortures they beheaded her.
The Monk Gerontios founded a skete monastery in honour of Saint Anna on Mount Athos.
The GreatMartyr and Healer Panteleimon was born in the city of Nikomedia into the family of the illustrious pagan Eustorgias, and he was named Pantoleon. His mother Ebbula was a christian. She wanted to raise her son in the Christian faith, but she died when the future greatmartyr was still a young lad. His father sent Pantoleon to a fine pagan school, at the completion of which the youth began to study the medical art at Nikomedia under the reknown physician Euphrosynos, and he came to the attention of the emperor Maximian (284-305), who wished to see him at court.
During this time there dwelt secretly at Nikomedia the Priest-Martyr presbyters Hermolaos, Hermippos and Hermocrates -- survivors in the Nikomedia Church after the burning of 20,000 Christians in the year 303. Saint Hermolaos saw Pantoleon time and again, when he came to their hideout. One time the presbyter summoned the youth to the hideout and spoke about the Christian faith. After this Pantoleon visited every day with the priestmartyr Hermolaos.
One time the youth saw upon a street a dead child, bitten by a viper, which was still alongside. Pantoleon began to pray to the Lord Jesus Christ for the resuscitation of the dead child and for the death of the venomous reptile. He firmly resolved, that if his prayer were fulfilled, he would become a follower of Christ and accept Baptism. The child revived, and the viper shattered into pieces before the eyes of Pantoleon.
After this miracle Pantoleon was baptised by Saint Hermolaos with the name Panteleimon (meaning "all-merciful"). Conversing with Eustorgias, Saint Panteleimon prepared him for the acceptance of Christianity, and when the father beheld, how his son healed a blind man by invoking the Name of Jesus Christ, he then believed in Christ and was baptised together with the blind man restored to sight.
After the death of his father, Saint Panteleimon dedicated his life to the suffering, the sick, the misfortunate and the needy. He treated without charge all those who turned to him, healing them in the Name of Jesus Christ. He visited those held captive in prison -- being usually christians, who filled all the prisons, and he healed them of their wounds. In a short while accounts about the charitable physician spread throughout all the city. And forsaking the other doctors, the inhabitants began to turn only to Saint Panteleimon.
The envious doctors made a denunciation to the emperor, that Saint Panteleimon was healing Christian prisoners. Maximian urged the saint to disprove the denunciation and offer sacrifice to idols, but Saint Panteleimon confessed himself a Christian and right in front of the eyes of the emperor he healed a paralytic in the Name of Jesus Christ. The ferocious Maximian executed the healed man who was glorifying Jesus Christ, and gave Saint Panteleimon over to fierce torture.
The Lord appeared to the saint and strengthened him before his sufferings. They suspended the GreatMartyr Panteleimon from a tree and tore at him with iron hooks, burned him with fire and then stretched him on the rack, threw him in boiling oil, and cast him into the sea with a stone about his neck. Throughout all these tortures the greatmartyr remained unhurt and with conviction he denounced the emperor.
During this time there was brought before the court of the pagans the Presbyters Hermolaos, Hermippos and Hermocrates. All three firmly confessed their faith in the Saviour and were beheaded (the account about them is located under 26 July).
By order of the emperor they threw the GreatMartyr Panteleimon to wild beasts for devouring at the circus. But the beasts lay at his feet and shoved at each other in trying to be touched by his hand. The spectators gathered together and began to shout: "Great God of the Christians!" The enraged Maximian ordered the soldiers to stab with the sword anyone who glorified the Name of Christ, and to cut off the head of the GreatMartyr Panteleimon.
They led the saint to the place of execution and tied him to an olive tree. When the greatmartyr prayed, one of the soldiers struck him with a sword, but the sword became soft like wax, and inflicted no wound. The saint ended the prayer, and a Voice was heard, calling the passion-bearer by name and summoning him to the Heavenly Kingdom. Hearing the Voice from Heaven, the soldiers fell down on their knees before the holy martyr and begged forgiveness. The executioners refused to continue with the execution, but the GreatMartyr Panteleimon bid them to fulfill the command of the emperor, saying that otherwise they would have no share with him in the future life. The soldiers tearfully took their leave of the saint with a kiss.
When the saint was beheaded, the olive tree -- to which the saint was tied, at the moment of his death was covered with fruit. Many that were present at the execution believed in Christ. The body of the saint -- thrown into a bonfire -- remained in the fire unharmed and was buried by christians (+ 305). The GreatMartyr Panteleimon's servants Lawrence, Bassos and Probios saw his execution and heard the Voice from Heaven. They recorded the account about the life, the sufferings and death of the holy greatmartyr.
The holy relics of the GreatMartyr Panteleimon were distributed in parts throughout all the Christian world: his venerable head is now located at the Russian Athonite monastery of the GreatMartyr Panteleimon.
The veneration of the holy martyr in the Russian Orthodox Church was already known in the XII Century. Prince Izyaslav -- in Baptism Panteleimon -- son of Saint Mstislav the Great, had an image of Saint Panteleimon on his helmet. Through the intercession of the saint he remained alive during a battle in the year 1151. On the day of memory of the GreatMartyr Panteleimon, Russian forces won two naval victories over the Swedes (in 1714 near Hanhauze and in 1720 near Grenham).
The GreatMartyr Panteleimon is venerated in the Orthodox Church as a mighty saint, the protector of soldiers. This aspect of his veneration is derived from his first name Pantoleon, which means "a lion in everything". His second name, Panteleimon -- given him at Baptism, which means "all-merciful", reveals it self in the veneration of the greatmartyr as healer. The connection between these two patronages of the saint is readily apparent in that soldiers, receiving wounds more frequently than others, are more in need of a physician-healer. Wherefore Christians in waging spiritual warfare also have recourse to this saint with a petition to heal the wounds of the soul.
The name of the holy GreatMartyr and Healer Panteleimon is invoked in the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick, at the Blessing of Water and in the Prayer for the Sick.
The day of commemoration of the holy GreatMartyr and Healer Panteleimon at the Russian monastery on Athos is its temple-feast. The forefeast starts 8 days before the feast, on which days after vespers are sung moliebens with kanons in 8 tones, whereby each day has its own particular canon. The second day of the feast is the monastery feastday. On this day of the feast after vespers is made a collective panikhida in memory of the founders and benefactours of the monastery, and there is blessed and distributed koliva (kutia -- wheat or rice boiled with honey). The verses of the 9th Ode of the Kanon of the GreatMartyr and Healer Panteleimon from the manuscript of the Athonite service are reprinted in the "Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate" (1975, No.3, pp. 45-47).
The Monk German (Herman) of Alaska, Apostle to America, was born in the city of Serpukhov, nigh to Moscow, in the year 1757 into a merchant's family. His worldly name and family name are unknown. At sixteen years of age he entered upon the path of monasticism. At first the monk did his obedience at the Sergiev-Trinity monastery, situated in the environs of Peterburg on the shore of the Bay of Finland (the monastery belonged to the Sergiev-Trinity Lavra).
The future missionary pursued asceticism at the monastery for about five years. Wanting complete solitude and silence, the Monk German settled at Valaamo. The Valaamo monastery, situated on the islands of Lake Ladozh (Ladoga), was cut off from the outer world for 8 months of the year.
After careful testing by various obediences the hegumen Nazarii gave blessing to the youthful ascetic for constant life in the forest, in a solitary wilderness. On feastdays, having come back to the monastery, the monk did choir obedience (he had a fine voice). Saint German took monastic vows at the Valaamo monastery.
It seems probable, that Saint German arrived at Valaamo in the year 1778. In this year the Monk Seraphim arrived at the Sarov monastery. The monastic life of the Monk German brings to mind the deeds of solitude of his great contemporary -- the Sarov wonderworker. Like the Monk Seraphim, the Valaamo ascetic distinguished himself with an exceptional and pervasive knowledge of the spirit and books of Holy Scripture, the works of the holy fathers and teachers of the Church.
The spiritual guide and father confessor of the future missionary was the hegumen Nazarii, a Sarov elder (starets), who introduced the Sarov ustav (rule) at Valaamo. By such manner, the grace-bearing methodology of Sarov asceticism -- in which was accomplished the spiritual growth of the Monk German at Valaamo -- became an integral part of his soul and made him related and exceptionally close in spirit to the Monk Seraphim, the Sarov Wonderworker. There is an account, that the Monk Seraphim made use in his turn of the guidance of the starets Nazarii during the time of his living at Sarov.
After a 15 year stay of the Monk German at Valaamo, the Lord summoned the humble monk to apostolic service and sent him to preach the Gospel and baptise the pagans of the sparsely populated and austere territory of Alaska and the islands of North America bordering on it. For this purpose there was organised in the year 1793 a spiritual Mission -- receiving the title Kodiaksk, with its centre on the island of Kodiak. Archimandrite Joasaph (Bolotov), a monk of Valaamo monastery, was appointed leader of the Mission. Amidst the number of other co-workers of the Mission were also five other monks of Valaamo monastery -- including among them the Monk German, whom the Lord gave blessing to labour at evangelisation longer and more fruitfully, than some other members of the Mission.
Upon arrival on Kodiak Island the missionaries quickly set about the construction of a church and the conversion of the pagans. "The year 1794, September -- I live with 24 on the island of Kodiak. All glory to God, more than 700 Americans are baptised, more than 2,000 marriages joined together, a church built, and as time allows -- we shall make another, then two, and then it will be necessary to make five" -- remarks the archimandrite Joasaph in one of his letters.
Father German at this new place bore the obedience of baker and concerned himself with the domestic cares of the Mission.
Under the guidance of Archimandrite Joasaph (afterwards a bishop), the Mission was short-lived: during the time of a storm (in 1799) His Grace Joasaph with his companions perished in the waves of the ocean. To assist the missionaries remaining alive there was dispatched only one priest-monk from the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, -- Gedeon. He headed the Mission for some time. He was concerned with the building up of a school for the children of the baptised Aleuts. In the year 1807 Priest-monk Gedeon left forever from the settlement of the missionaries, having placed all the responsibilities on the Monk German, who until the end of his life remained a spiritual father, pastor, and guardian of human souls entrusted to him by the Mission. They wanted to ordain the monk to the dignity of priest-monk and make him archimandrite, but the humble monk refused thus to be elevated and until the end of his days he dwelt as a simple monk.
For the local inhabitants, the Monk German was a true good pastor and he defended them, insofar as he was able, from evil and plundering persons, who saw the island people only as an object for merciless exploitation. It would be no wonder, if the newly-converted repudiated their faith of the new-comer, who came most frequently in the role of exploiter and oppressor (having come for the purpose of mercantile profit), returning to their own superstitions. That this did not happen is due to the great merit of the Monk German. Firmly and insistently, having no power save for his intense faith, the starets continued on with his defense of the outraged and the oppressed, seeing in this his duty and calling, the essence of which he wonderfully expressed with the simple words: -- "I am the most humble servant and nurse of the local peoples".
The secret labours and cell prayers of the elder remained unknown to the world, but are seen as a light surrounding his grace-bearing life, having gone through conditions of complete self-renunciation, non-avariciousness and austere disregard for all comforts. His clothes were quite poor and very decrepit. By his whole appearance and all his habits, starets German in life reminded his contemporaries of the ancient hermits, glorified by the deeds of abstention and saintliness. In conversation the elder produced in irresistible impression on listeners. Those who conversed were particularly struck by the clarity of his mind, and his distinctness and rapidity of his discernment. The Divine grace, permeating the soul of the Monk German, transformed the hearts of people having contact with him. Vividly testifying about this occurrence was S. I. Yanovsky, governor administrator of the Russian-American Company, having entered upon his duties in the year 1817. Semen Ivanovich Yanovsky, an aristocrat by birth, was a man of manifold education and scholarship, but his religio-philosophic outlook consisted in the fashionable deism of the period. (Deism -- a religio-philosophic teaching, which spread about in the XVII-XVIII Centuries, conceived of the existence of God only as a first-principle of the world and denied the existence of God as Person).
Christianity in its essence he did not know (although he was formally accounted a christian). Orthodoxy, the Church, the Sacraments -- were for him mere notions, not worthy of serious consideration. The Monk German spoke much with him. S. I. Yanovsky afterwards wrote: "By such constant conversations and prayers of the holy elder, the Lord turned me completely around onto the way of truth, and I was made into a real Christian". He termed the starets "an holy man", "a great ascetic", and like a precious gem he kept his own letters from the Monk German. Many others of his contemporaries also experienced such reverence towards the person of the saint. Father German at first lived nearby the Mission temple on Kodiak, but later he settled on Elov (Spruce) Island, which he called "New Valaamo". Spruce Island was the final refuge in the multi-laboured apostolic wanderings of the holy elder.
The Monk German foretold to his spiritual children the time of his death and gave instructions how to bury him. On 13 December 1837 he requested candles be lit before the icons and to read the Acts of the Holy Apostles. During the time of the reading about the labours of the holy evangelists, the holy starets German passed over from earthly labours to heavenly rest, in his 81st year of life. Over the grave of the elder was at first constructed a simple wooden memorial, and afterwards was erected a modest wooden church, dedicated in the name of the Monks Sergei and German, Wonderworkers of Valaamo.
In this church is preserved an old-fashioned depiction of the Monk Seraphim of Sarov. This was situated in the cell of the Monk German during his lifetime: the elder loved and respected his celebrated contemporary and was of one accord with him in the great task in the fields of the Lord. It pleased the Lord to simultaneously bestow blessing on the great deeds of service to people of these two reverent lovers of silence and of mental action. The Monk German responded with love to the needs and sorrows of people during the days of his earthly life. And he does not leave in their misfortune those calling on him even after his death. The most famous case of the prayerful intercession of the Monk German is located in the autobiography of the first Orthodox Bishop in America -- Sainted Innocent (Comm. 31 March and 23 September). In the year 1842 the sainted bishop on the brig "Okhotsk" was headed for Spruce Island. Because of a storm the ship was not able for a long while to come into port, and the lives of the crew and passengers was in peril. Sainted Innocent turned with prayer to the Monk German: "If thou, Father German, art pleasing to the Lord, then allow the wind to shift". And there passed not even a quarter of an hour as the wind shifted and became fair. And shortly thereafter the sainted bishop, having been saved from the storm, served a panikhida on the grave of the Monk German. In the 1860's the Russian Orthodox Church learned about the great local veneration of the memory of the elder German at Kodiak. In 1867 one of the Alaskan bishops compiled a record of his life and miracles. The first public report about Father German was published at Valaamo monastery in Finland in 1894. In the 1930's another Russian Orthodox monk -- archimandrite Gerasim (Shmal'ts) arrived on Elov (Spruce) Island and for a long time he lived there, as did the Monk German an hundred and some years before him. Before his death in 1969, archimandrite Gerasim uncovered the remains of his famous predecessor and built there a small chapel. The healings, connected with the prayerful intercession of Saint German, have been recorded during the course of a long period (from the time of his life through 1970). In March 1969 the Sobor of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Greek-Catholic Church in America under the presiding of the Archbishop of New York, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, Irenei -- made the glorification of the Alaskan monk. The Church through this canonisation formally stamped with its seal that which many native Alaskans always knew: the Monk German worthily achieved his Christian calling and now continues to intercede before God for the living.
Blessed Nikolai Konchanov, Novgorod Fool-for-Christ (+ 1392), was born at Novgorod in the family of rich and illustrious parents. From his youthful years he loved piety, he went to church zealously, he loved fasting and prayer. Seeing his virtuous life, people began to praise him. Blessed Nikolai, disdaining glory "from men", began to practise folly for the Lord's sake. He ran about the city in bitter frost in mere rags, enduring beatings, insults and mockery. Blessed Nikolai and another Novgorod fool Blessed Feodor (Comm. 19 January) conducted themselves as irreconcilable foes and graphically portrayed to the Novgorod people the pernicious character of their internecine strife. One time, having overcome his sham opponent, Blessed Nikolai went along the Volkhov, as along dry land, and threw at Blessed Feodor an head of cabbage, -- wherefore he was called "Konchanov" (i.e. "cabbage-head"). The Lord glorified Blessed Nikolai with the gift of miracles and perspicacity. Thus, having been turned away by servants from an invited feast, he left, but together with him there vanished the wine from out of the barrel, and only upon the return of the fool and through his prayer did it reappear again. Upon his death Blessed Nikolai was buried at the end of the cemetery, spread about the Yakovlev cathedral.
The relics of Blessed Nikolai rest under a crypt in a church of the GreatMartyr Panteleimon built over his grave.
The Nun Anthysa lived at Paphlygonian Mantinea in Asia Minor during the VIII Century. Early on having left behind the world, Saint Anthysa pursued asceticism in the mountains in complete solitude. Having taken monastic vows from the priestmonk Sisinias, she became hegumen at a monastery where 90 sisters had gathered. The Nun Anthysa suffered during the reign of the emperor Constantine Kopronymos, who demanded the saint renounce veneration of holy icons. For not obeying the orders of the emperor, the Nun Anthysa was subjected to torture. At the torture was present the spouse of the emperor, for whom the saint predicted the birth of a son and daughter. When the prediction of the martyress was fulfilled, they set her free to her own convent, where she died in extreme old age. The daughter born of the emperor's wife was named Anthysa. Having lived a life pleasing to God, she was accepted by the Lord into the rank of the Saints.
The Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles: Clement -- Bishop of Okhrid, Naum, Savva, Gorazd and Angelyar were Slavs, disciples of Saints Cyril and Methodius (Comm. 11 May). They at first pursued asceticism in the fields of enlightenment in Moravia, where in succession to Sainted Methodius, Saint Gorazd then became bishop. He was a man fluent in the Slavonic, Greek and Latin languages. Saints Clement, Naum, Angelyar and Savva were presbyters.
The Slavic-Enlighteners were opposed by a strong Latin-German group of missionaries, resting upon the support of the then pope and the patronage of the Moravian prince Svyatopolk. The struggle centered around the questions of the need of Divine-services in the Slavonic language, the Filioque and Saturday fasting. Pope Stephen VI prohibited Divine-services in the Slavonic language.
The proponents of the three-tongued heresy, having consigned to oblivion the ancestral language of the Slavic peoples, with the help of the princely powers brought to trial the disciples of Saint Methodius, among whose number was Saint Clement. They subjected them to fierce torture: dragging them bent over through thorn bushes, and holding them in prison for a long time -- just as they had earlier done with their spiritual father, Saint Methodius. Afterwards with some of the prisoners (in the year 886) -- they sold the young to slave-traders, who found themselves on the Venice marketplace. The ambassador of the Byzantine emperor to Venice, Basil the Macedonian, ransomed the Slavic-Enlighteners and transported them to Constantinople. Others of the Slavic confessors, those of elderly age, they subjected to banishment. It is not known, where Saint Gorazd set off to, nor where Saint Savva found shelter. Naum and Angelyar went to Bulgaria.
In the year 907 Moravia collapsed under the blows of the Magyars, and Moravian refugees slipped through along those same paths, along which earlier went the holy enlighteners exiled by them.
The Bulgarians received the Slavonic confessors with respect and requested them to conduct Divine-services in the Slavonic language. The Bulgarian prince Boris "with great fervour sought out" suchlike people as the disciples of Saint Methodius, seeking with great zealousness for the enlightenment of his nation. The enlighteners immediately set about to the study of Slavonic books, gathered by Bulgarian notables.
Saint Angelyar soon died, and Saint Clement received the appointment to teach at Kutmichivitsa -- a region in southwest Macedonia. In the Eastern Church for the rank of teacher was chosen a man of worth, known for his pious life and possessed with a gift of words. Saint Clement while still in Moravia was in the "rank of those in the standing of teacher". In Bulgaria Saint Clement fulfilled the office of instructor until the year 893. He organised in the primary form a school at the princely court, which attained high esteem during the reign of Simeon, and in southwest Macedonia he created schools separately for grown-ups and for children. Saint Clement instructed the children in reading and in writing. The total number of his students was enormous: merely those chosen and accepted towards the clergy amounted to 3500 men. In the year 893 Saint Clement was elevated to the dignity of Bishop of Dremvitsa or Velitsa, and Saint Naum took his place.
Sainted Clement was the first Bulgarian hierarch to serve, preach and write in the Slavonic language. To this end he systematically prepared clergy from among the Slavic people. The sainted bishop laboured for the glory of God into his extreme old age. Having become thus weakened, that he was already not able to attend to the cathedral tasks, , he turned with a request to tsar Simeon with a request for retirement. The tsar urged the saint not to forsake the cathedral, and Saint Clement decided to continue his bishop service. After this he set off for the duration to Okhrid, to a monastery founded by him. There the saint continued with his translation activity and translated important parts of the Bright Triodion. Soon the saint became seriously ill and expired to the Lord in the year 916. The body of the saint was placed in a coffin, made by his own hands, and buried in the Okhrida Panteleimon monastery.
Sainted Clement is considered the first Slavonic author: he not only continued with the translation work, begun by Saints Cyril and Methodius, but also left behind works of his own composition -- the first samples of Slavonic spiritual literature.
Many of the lessons and sermons of Equal-to-the-Apostles Clement were transferred to Russia, where they were read and copied out with love by pious Russian Christians.
The relics of Saints Gorazd and Angelyar rest near Berat in Albania, the remains of Saint Naum -- in a monastery with his name, near Lake Okhrida.
The Holy Disciples from the Seventy: Prochorus, Nikanor, Timon and Parmenas were of the first deacons in the Church of Christ.
In the book of the Acts of the Apostles (6: 1-6) it relates, that at Jerusalem the twelve apostles chose seven men: Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nikanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicholas, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, and established them to serve as deacons.
Holy Church makes their memory in common on 28 July, although they died at various times and in various places.
Saint Prochorus at first accompanied the first-ranked Apostle Peter and was made by him bishop in the city of Nikomedia. After the Falling-Asleep (Dormition or Uspenie) of the MostHoly Mother of God, Prochorus was a companion and co-worker of the holy Apostle John the Theologian and together with him was banished to the island of Patmos. There he wrote down the Revelation of God, -- revealed to the holy Apostle John, about the final fate of the world (Apocalypse). Upon returning to Nikomedia, Saint Prochorus converted pagans to Christ in the city of Antioch and there accepted a martyr's end.
Saint Nikanor suffered on that day when the holy First-Martyr Stephen and many other Christians were killed by stoning.
Saint Timon was established by the Apostles as bishop of the city of Bastoria in Arabia and suffered from the Jews and pagans for preaching the Gospel. He was thrown into a furnace, but by the power of God he came out of it unharmed. The tradition of the Roman Church says, that Saint Timon died by crucifixion on a cross.
Saint Parmenas zealously preached Christ in Macedonia. He died from sickness befalling him. There exists also the opinion, that Saint Parmenas suffered under Trajan (98-117) in the final year of his reign, having accepted a martyr's end.
Sainted Pitirim, Bishop of Tambov, in the world Prokopii, was born 27 February 1645 (or 1644) in the city of Vyazem. From his youthful years the Lord readied Prokopii for high spiritual service, which was set him to fulfill. While still in childhood he learned reading and writing. Favoured exercises of Prokopii were reading the literature of the holy fathers and the Lives of the Saints. This furthered the formal spiritual makeup of the future sainted-hierarch. The boy was remarkable for his overall love of work, broad knowledge and mature judgement. He was endowed with artistic talent, and he successfully occupied himself with the writing of icons and adroit knowing of church singing. A sublime spiritual disposition early on led Prokopii onto the pathway of monastic efforts. Having resolved to totally dedicate himself to God, he entered into the Vyazemsk ForeRunner monastery, known for its strict rule (ustav). In his 21st year of life he took monastic vows with the name of Pitirim.
The young monk earned the respect of his brethren by his ascetic life and was chosen hegumen. In 1684 he was raised to the dignity of archimandrite. On 15 February 1685 Patriarch Joakim (1674-1690) summoned him to Moscow and ordained him bishop of Tambov.
Organised in 1682, the Tambov diocese suffered from the frontier poverty and the coarse illiteracy of its inhabitants. Pagans comprised nearly all the greater part of the settlers: the Mordvi, the Cheremysi, the Mereschi. On the territory of the diocese lived also many Tatars, bitter opponents of Christianity. Among the Christian settlers of the diocese were numbered many schismatics and fleeing or banished criminals.
The saint zealously took on resolving the tasks set before him. On the place of the old wooden church at Tambov he began to build a two-storied stone cathedral in honour of the Transfiguration of the Lord with a chapel in the name of Sainted-bishop Nicholas. Saint Pitirim not only zealously watched over the construction of the temple, but even himself participated in the building work. The saint allotted great effort to spiritual enlightenment. He built a special school for clergy-servers, where under his guidance were raised up worthy Church pastors. At his dwelling by the labours of the saint was gathered together a library of spiritual literature (in the works of the Moscow Uspenie cathedral there is noted "two books of Dionysios the Areopagite, leather bound, one in red, the other in black, along the edges gilded", belonging to Saint Pitirim). The saint continually instructed his flock, preaching the Word of God. He often made trips throughout the diocese, so as to have the possibility to familiarise himself on the spot in the needs of the communities.
The holy archpastor was constantly concerned about the reconciliation with the Orthodox Church of the schismatics (raskol'niki), about the reunion of the dissenters to it. The deep piety, active compassion towards neighbour and wise patience of the Saint in conversations with the raskol'niki and dissenters disposed them to a full trusting of his word. By fine example of holy life and by the power of gracious discourse the saint led many to the true faith. The saint's sister by birth, Ekaterina, became the first head of the Ascension women's monastery founded by him in 1690.
Being an audacious man of prayer and intercessor before God, Saint Pitirim never forgot about Christian humility. Not relying on his own human strength, the archpastor shielded the city of Tambov entrusted him by God with icons of the Saviour and the Kazan Mother of God, locating them at the two chief gates.
Saint Pitirim prayed much and taught his flock about prayer. He was daily present at Divine-services and often himself performed the priestly doings. On those instances, when the Saint did not serve, he sang in the kleros (choir), teaching the choir the correct church singing and reading. In his cell the Saint very often prayed before icons of the Devpeteruvsk Mother of God and Saint Nicholas.
Saint Pitirim acutely sensed the beauty of nature in his land, which awakened in him a feeling of prayerful thanksgiving to the Trinity for the visible world. Alongside his favourite spot of strolling and pious meditations was built in the deep woods the Tregulaev monastery of John the ForeRunner, founded by him together with his spiritual friend, Sainted-hierarch Mitrophan of Voronezh (Comm. 23 November and 7 August). The saint set up a large wooden cross with an image of the Saviour.
Similar to the great ascetics, Saint Pitirim allotted much time to physical work: the water-wells give evidence to this, dug up by the hands of the saint at the place of his prayerful deeds.
Sainted Pitirim died in 1698 at age 53.
The body of the saint was buried in the lower level of the Tambovsk Saviour-Transfiguration cathedral, at the south wall of the right-side chapel in the name of Saint Nicholas. After the blessed end of Saint Pitirim his spiritual ties with his flock were not sundered. The place of his repose started soon to be devoutly venerated. With each year grew all the more the number of pilgrims, gathered on 28 July -- the day of death of the saint, for Divine-services at the Tambovsk cathedral. Each new sign of God's mercy, manifest by prayer to Saint Pitirim, inspired assurance for the people that the bishop venerated by them -- was truly of God. From the year 1819 there was begun the conducting of a record of grave-testimonials of the manifestations of grace. The veneration of Saint Pitirim extended far beyond the bounds of the Tambov diocese. On 28 July 1914 Sainted Pitirim, Bishop of Tambov, was enumerated to the ranks of the Saints.
The Monk Moisei (Moses) pursued asceticism at the Kievo-Pechersk Lavra (XIII-XIV) in the Farther (Theodosiev) Caves; he wore chains and an heavy copper cross. The monk possessed the graced gift of wonderworking.
The Holy Martyr Julian suffered during the reign of Antoninus Pius (138-161) in the Italian province of Campagna. The governor Flavian gave orders to search out and bring christians to him for trial. During this time the young Christian Julian arrived in Campagna from Dalmatia. Having met up with soldiers of the governor, he greeted them with the words: "Peace, brothers!" The soldiers began to interrogate him: where he was from and what faith he confessed. Julian, willing to suffer and die for Christ, bravely declared that he was a Christian. The soldiers were amazed at the courage of the youth, but obeying their orders, they bound him and led him to the governor. "We shall see, -- they said, -- how true be thy words, whether thou be willing to die for the Crucified One".
Having undergone a beating, the saint prayed to the Lord, that He would grant him the strength to endure the torture to the end. His prayer was heard, and he heard a Voice: "Fear not, Julian, I am with thee and shalt give thee strength and courage". The holy youth was locked up in a prison, called "the Cold Pit", in which they held him for seven days without food or water. An Angel of God brought food and heartened the confessor.
At the following interrogation the governor harassed the youth, saying, that it was shameful for such an handsome youth to worship the One-Crucified upon the Cross, and urged him to offer sacrifice to idols. Saint Julian made bold to answer, that he was prepared to die for the true faith. The governor gave orders to tie the youth to a tree and beat him. The martyr began to pray and again heard a Voice: "Fear not, Julian, remain brave". Saint Julian, having turned to the crowd standing about, said: "Listen, ye accursed ones, trust not on your gods, which ye have made with your hands. But rather know ye the God, Who from nothing hath created Heaven and earth". After his speech more than 30 men were converted to Christ, and they again led off the saint to prison. In the morning, when new tortures were started, they announced, that the temple of the pagan god Serapis together with the idols standing in it were destroyed. Everyone arrived in shock and was terrified, but the christians were heartened and glorified Christ God. The pagans however attributed this destruction to magical power and they demanded his immediate execution. They decided to do the killing of the holy youth at the place of the ruined pagan temple. Before the execution Saint Julian bent down on his knees and prayed, thanking the Lord for granting him to accept death for His Holy Name. A third time he heard the Voice, summoning him to the Kingdom of Heaven. They beheaded the holy martyr with a sword, and he expired to the Lord, Whom he loved more than earthly life.
The Holy Martyr Eustathios was a soldier. For confessing the Christian faith he was arrested and brought before the head of the city on Ancyra. At the interrogation, the saint firmly and bravely confessed himself a Christian and was sentenced to tortures. They beat him without mercy, they bore into the heels and, having tied him about with rope, they dragged him in the city to the River Sagka (Sangara). At the bank of the river they put the martyr into a wooden chest and threw it in the water. An Angel of God brought the chest to shore. The saint, situated in the chest, was singing the 90th (91st) Psalm: "He that dwelleth in the help of the Most-High..." Beholding the miracle and sensing himself disgraced, the governor having drawn his sword killed himself. The holy martyr, having received Communion from the hand of an Angel, gave up his spirit to God (+ c. 316). His venerable relics were buried in the city of Ancyra.
The Holy Martyr Akakios was brought to trial for belief in Christ. Three governors attempted to compel the holy martyr to offer sacrifice to idols, having subjected him to fierce tortures. Governor Licinius gave orders to rend the body of Saint Akakios with instruments of torture, and he then sent him to Governor Terence, who gave orders to throw Akakios into a cauldron, filled with boiling tar and tallow, but the martyr remained unharmed. Terence set off to the cities of Apameia and Apollonia and gave orders to bring the martyr after him. In one of these cities Saint Akakios was led into a pagan temple, but by his prayer all the idols there fell down. They beat the saint viciously and gave him over for devouring by beasts. When however they saw that he remained unharmed, they then threw him into a red-hot furnace. The martyr there also remained unharmed. The governor, wanting to check whether the furnace was sufficiently hot, went near it and himself burned. They then took the holy Martyr Akakios for torture to a certain Posidonius, who put heavy fetters on the holy martyr and gave orders to take him to the city of Miletos, but there also the saint by his prayer ruined idols. Finally, the exhausted torturers beheaded Saint Akakios (+ c. 321). A presbyter by the name of Leontios buried his body in the city of Synados (Asia Minor).
Saint Irene was the daughter of a wealthy family from Cappadocia, and was born in the ninth century.
After the death of her husband Theophilus, the empress Theodora ruled the Byzantine Empire as regent for her young son Michael. St Theodora (February 11) helped to defeat the iconoclast heresy, and to restore the holy icons. We commemorate this Triumph of Orthodoxy on the first Sunday of Great Lent.
When Michael was twelve years of age, St Theodora sent messengers throughout the Empire to find a suitably virtuous and refined girl to be his wife. St Irene was chosen, and she agreed to the marriage. While passing Mt. Olympus in Asia Minor, Irene asked to stop so she could receive the blessing of St Joannicius (November 4), who lived on the mountain. The saint, who showed himself only to the most worthy pilgrims, foresaw the arrival of St Irene, and also her future life.
The holy ascetic welcomed her and told her to proceed to Constantinople, where the women's monastery of Chrysovalantou had need of her. Amazed at his clairvoyance, Irene fell to the ground and asked St Joannicius for his blessing. After blessing her and giving her spiritual counsel, he sent her on her way.
When the party arrived in Constantinople, Irene's relatives met her with great ceremony. Since "the steps of a man are rightly ordered by the Lord" (Ps. 36/37:23), God arranged for Michael to marry another girl a few days before, so that Irene might be free to become a bride of Christ. Far from being disappointed, Irene rejoiced at this turn of events.
Remembering the words of St Joannicius, Irene visited the Monastery of Chrysovalantou. She was so impressed by the nuns and their way of life that she freed her slaves and distributed her wealth to the poor. She exchanged her fine clothing for the simple garb of a nun, and served the sisters with great humility and obedience. The abbess was impressed with the way that Irene performed the most menial and disagreeable tasks without complaint.
St Irene often read the Lives of the Saints in her cell, imitating their virtues to the best of her ability. She often stood in prayer all night with her hands raised like Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 17:11-13). St Irene spent the next few years in spiritual struggles defeating the assaults of the demons, and bringing forth the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
When the abbess sensed the approach of death, she told the other nuns that they should not accept anyone but Irene as the new abbess. Irene was not told of the abbess's instructions, and when she died the community sent representatives to go and seek the advice of the patriarch, St Methodius (June 14). He asked them whom they wanted as their superior. They replied that they believed he would be guided by the Holy Spirit. Without knowing of the late abbess's instructions to the nuns, he asked if there was a humble nun by the name of Irene in their monastery. If so, he said, they should choose her. The nuns rejoiced and gave thanks to God. St Methodius elevated Irene to the rank of abbess and advised her how to guide those in her charge.
Returning to the monastery, Irene prayed that God would help her to care for those under her, and redoubled her own spiritual efforts. She displayed great wisdom in leading the nuns, and received many revelations from God to assist her in carrying out her duties. She also asked for the gift of clairvoyance so that she would know what trials awaited her nuns. Thus, she was in a better position to give them the proper advice. She never used this knowledge to embarrass others, but only to correct their confessions in a way which let them know that she possessed certain spiritual gifts.
Although St Irene performed many miracles during her life, let us mention only one. On great Feasts it was her habit to keep vigil in the monastery courtyard under the starry skies. Once, a nun who was unable to sleep left her cell and went into the courtyard. There she saw Abbess Irene levitating a few feet above the ground, completely absorbed in prayer. The astonished nun also noticed that two cypress trees had bowed their heads to the ground, as if in homage. When she finished praying, Irene blessed the trees and they returned to their upright position.
Afraid that this might be a temptation from the demons, the nun returned the next night to see if she had been mistaken. Again she saw Irene levitating as she prayed, and the cypress trees bowing down. The nun tied handkerchiefs to the tops of the two trees before they went back to their places. When the other sisters saw the handkerchiefs atop the trees, they began to wonder who had put them there. Then the nun who had witnessed these strange events revealed to the others what she had seen. When St Irene learned that the nun had witnessed the miracle and told the others, she was very upset. She warned them not to speak of it to anyone until after her death.
St Irene observed the Feast of St Basil (January 1) with great devotion, since he also came from Cappadocia. One year, after celebrating the feast, St Irene heard a voice during the night telling her to welcome the sailor who would come to the door the next day. She was told to rejoice and eat the fruit which the sailor would bring her. During Matins, a sailor did come to the door and remained in church until after Liturgy. He told her that he had come from Patmos, where he boarded a ship. As the ship set sail, he noticed an old man on the shore calling for them to stop. In spite of a good wind, the ship came to a sudden halt. Then the old man walked across the water and entered the ship. He gave the sailor three apples which God was sending to the patriarch "from His beloved disciple John." Then the old man gave the sailor three more apples for the abbess of Chrysovalantou. He told the sailor that if Irene ate the apples, all that her soul desired would be granted, "for this gift comes from John in Paradise."
St Irene fasted for a week, giving thanks to God for this wonderful gift. For forty days, she ate small pieces of the first apple every day. During this time she had nothing else to eat or drink. On Holy Thursday, she told the nuns to receive the Holy Mysteries, then gave each one a piece of the second apple. They noticed an unusual sweetness, and felt as if their very souls were being nourished.
An angel informed St Irene that she would be called to the Lord on the day after St Panteleimon's feast. The monastery's feast day fell on July 26, so St Irene prepared by fasting for a week beforehand. She took only a little water and small pieces of the third apple sent to her by St John. The whole monastery was filled with a heavenly fragrance, and all discord disappeared.
On July 28, St Irene called the nuns together in order to bid them farewell. She also told them to select Sister Mary as her successor, for she would keep them on the narrow way which leads to life (Matthew 7:14). After entreating God to protect her flock from the power of the devil, she smiled when she saw the angels who had been sent to receive her soul. Then she closed her eyes and surrendered her soul to God.
St Irene was more than 101 years old when she died, yet her face appeared young and beautiful. A great crowd of people came for her funeral, and many miracles took place at her tomb.
In some parishes it is customary to bless apples on the feast of St Irene Chrysovalantou.
The venerable George the Builder was the third abbot of the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos. According to some sources, he was a nephew of St. John, the founder and first abbot of the Iveron Monastery.
George was elevated to the rank of abbot after St. Ekvtime left the monastery to travel to Jerusalem. Under his leadership, the main church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos was constructed. An inscription on the wall of the church reads: “I established these columns and they will not be shaken unto the ages. Monk George the Georgian, Builder.”
For most of his life Abbot George was highly respected and even revered in the imperial court of Byzantium, but he was eventually slandered, accused of treason, and exiled to the island of Monovatia, where he reposed in the year 1029.
The exile of Abbot George proved fatal for the Iveron Monastery: his persecutors followed that act by stealing and desecrating all the treasures of the monastery, which had been purchased by the blood and sweat of the holy fathers. (The rightful property of the Iveron Monastery was later recovered during the reign of the pious Emperor Michael.)
The Georgian monks translated St. George’s incorrupt relics from the island of Monovatia to Athos and buried them there in a marble tomb.
He was a child of prayer, and was born about the year 496, of noble parentage, in that part of South Wales which is now called Glamorganshire, then in the country of the Demetes, upon the borders of the Wenetes, who inhabited the province called by the Britons Guent, now Monmouthshire. At seven years of age he was put under the care of St. Iltutus, a very learned abbot in Glamorganshire, and having made great progress in learning and virtue, was ordained priest by St. Dubritius, bishop of Caërleon. In 512 he passed into a neighbouring island, where he led an eremitical life, as did several others, under the direction of St. Piro, a holy priest. By an order of SS. Dubritius and Iltutus he paid a visit to his aged father who lay dangerously ill. The saint restored him by his prayers to his health, and converted him and his whole numerous family, including his uncles, cousins, and brothers, whom he placed in several monasteries, but his father and an uncle of his own community of hermits. In 516 he made a voyage into Ireland, to animate himself to fervour by the example and instructions of many illustrious saints who flourished there, and after his return shut himself up in a cave in a wilderness. In 520 St. Dubritius called him to a synod at Caërleon, and in it ordained him bishop without being fixed in any particular see. St. Sampson continued his former austere manner of life, abstaining wholly from flesh, sometimes eating only once in two or three days, and often passing the whole night in prayer standing, though sometimes when he watched the night he took a little rest, leaning his head against a wall. To gain souls to God by the exercise of the ministry with which he saw himself intrusted, he passed over into Brittany in France, with his father and his cousin St. Magloire, and was followed by St. Maclou or Malo, another cousin. St. Sampson there converted many idolaters, raised a dead man to life, and wrought many other miracles. He founded a great abbey, which he called Dole, and fixed there the episcopal see which was before subject to Quidalet, now St. Malo’s. This see of Dole long enjoyed a metropolitical jurisdiction over all the bishops of Brittany. He subscribed to the second council of Paris, held in 557, in the manner following: “I Sampson, a sinner, bishop, have consented and subscribed.” He used to have a cross carried before him, as is the custom of archbishops at present. He died about the year 564. A considerable part of his relics was translated to Paris, with those of St. Magloire and St. Maclou, in the tenth century, for fear of the inroads of the Normans.
The Monk Paul of Xeropotama, in the world Prokopios, was the son of the Constantinople emperor Michael Kuropalatos, -- who afterwards resigned the imperial dignity and accepted monasticism in a monastery built by him. Having received the finest education, Prokopios became one of the most learned people of his time. His "Discourse on the Entrance into the Temple of the MostHoly Mother of God", the "Canon to the Forty Martyrs", the "Canon to the Venerable Cross" and other works gained him worthy reknown. But knowledge and place of honour in the world did not captivate him. Having left everything worldly, he exchanged his fine garb for beggar's rags, and he went to the Holy Mountain [Athos], to the place Xeropotama. He built himself a cell there at the remains of a ruined monastery, founded once by the empress Pulcheria in honour of the 40 Martyrs, and from Cosmas an hermit he took monastic vows with the name Paul.
Out of humility the Monk revealed his learnedness to no one. Fame about the strict life of Paul quickly spread throughout all the Holy Mountain. He became called Paul of Xeropotama, and the monastery where he pursued monasticism, to the present day bears the name Xeropotama ("dry-creek").
At that time there came upon the throne the emperor Romanos, a relative of Paul. Through the Protos of the Holy Mountain he requested the saint to come to Constantinople and made for him a splendid reception. The humble Paul, not betraying his monastic duty, appeared with a cross and in torn robes amidst the courtly splendour and magnificence. The Monk Paul confirmed his fame as a chosen of God, miraculously healing the grievously ill Romanos, by placing his hand on him. But the vanity of courtly life, promised by the gratitude of the emperor, did not interest the saint; he returned to the Holy Mountain, having asked of the emperor but one mercy -- to restore the Xeropotama monastery.
At the holy altar in the consecrated cathedral church of the restored monastery was put a piece of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord, given to Saint Paul by the emperor Romanos.
Soon the Xeropotama monastery was filled by a throng of monks, wanting to put themselves under the guidance of the holy ascetic, but the Monk Paul, having entrusted the rule of the monastery to one of the brethren, moved off to a remote wilderness. His strict quietude was again disturbed by disciples, not wanting to quit their elder. Then the monk requested of the emperor the means for the building of a new monastery. Thus was founded by the saint a monastery in the name of the holy GreatMartyr and Victory-Bearer Saint George. The first head of the new monastery was the Monk Paul himself, who there also brought a piece of the Venerable Wood of the Cross of the Lord.
Having been informed in advance by the Lord of his impending end, the saint assembled to himself the brethren of the Xeropotama and the new Georgikos monasteries and gave them his final directives. On the day of his death, the Monk Paul donned the mantle, read the prayer of Saint Ioannikes, which he said continually: "My hope -- is the Father, my refuge -- is the Son, my protection -- is the Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, glory to Thee", and he communed the Holy Mysteries of Christ. Saint Paul had instructed in his will to bury his body on the peninsula of Pongosa (opposite the Holy Mountain). But by the will of God the ship was driven to the shores of Constantinople, where the emperor and Patriarch with the pious took the body of the saint and solemnly placed it in the Great church. After the sacking of Constantinople by the Crusaders, the relics of Saint Paul were transferred to Venice.
The Holy Martyr Callinikos, a native of Cilicia, was raised from childhood in the Christian faith. In grief that many misguided people would perish for eternity in their worshipping of idols, he went through the cities and villages to proclaim Jesus Christ and His teachings to the pagans. With the Word of God he converted many to Christianity. In the Galatian city of Ancyra the holy confessor was arrested and brought to trial before a governor named Sacerdonus, a fierce persecutor of Christians. The governor, threatening martyrdom and death, ordered the saint to offer sacrifice to the idols. But the saint fearlessly declared that he was not afraid of martyrdom, since every believer in Christ receives from Him strength in ordeals, and through death inherits an eternal blessed life. They cruelly beat the saint with ox thongs and tore at his body with iron hooks, but he endured everything with patience and calm. This led to a still greater fury in Sacerdonus, and he commanded to shod the saint in sandals with sharp nails within, and that with whips they should drive the martyr to the city of Gangra for burning. The pathway was arduous, and the soldiers who accompanied the condemned man, were weak from thirst. In despair they began to implore the saint, that he beseech the Lord for saving water. The unassuming saint, taking pity on his tormentors, with the help of God drew forth from a stone a miraculous spring of water. The astonished soldiers were pervaded with a sense of sympathy for their rescuer and they wanted even to set him free, but fear of execution compelled them to convey the martyr further. In Gangra Saint Callinikos, with joy having offered up thanks to the Lord, Who had vouchsafed him the crown of martyrdom, went himself into the blazing bonfire and gave up his soul to God. His body, remaining unharmed, was reverently given burial by believers.
The Monks Konstantin and Kosma were monastic students of the Monk Varlaam of Khutynsk (+ 1192, Comm. 6 November) and his successor, the Monk Antonii of Dymsk (+ 1224, Comm. 17 January). In about the year 1220, having left the Khutynsk monastery, they settled upon a wilderness peninsula, situated 3 versts from the city of Staraya Russa, between the Rivers Polista and Smezhnya, and in time they founded there a monastery in the name of Saint Nicholas, headed by the Monk Konstantin until his death (+ c. 1240).
The Monk Kosma continued with the exploits of his mentor. He was buried in the same grave with the Monk Konstantin. Their bodies rest beneathe the vestibule of the Nikolaev church, built in 1820 upon the place of burial of the saints.
The Holy Martyress Seraphima the Virgin, a native of Antioch, lived at Rome during the reign of the emperor Adrian (117-138) with the illustrious Roman Sabina, whom the saint converted to Christianity. During the persecution against Christians begun by order of the emperor, the governor Berillus gave orders to bring Saint Seraphima to trial. Desirous for the crown of martyrdom from the Lord, at the first summons she fearlessly went to the executioner. The devoted Sabina accompanied her. Catching sight of the illustrious lady, Berillus at first set free the maiden, but after several days he again summoned Saint Seraphima and began the trial.
The governor bid the saint honour the pagan gods and offer them sacrifice, but she boldly confessed her faith in the One True God -- Jesus Christ. Then Berillus gave her over to two shameless youths to defile her. The holy martyress besought the Lord to defend her. Suddenly there began an earthquake and the two youths fell crippled to the floor. On the following day the governor learned, that his plan had failed. Thinking, that the saint was an adept at sorcery, Berillus besought her to return the youths to health and the gift of speech, in order that they themselves might report about the miracle. The saint, praying to the Lord, ordered the youths to stand up, and they at once rose up and told the judge, that an Angel of the Lord had shielded the saint, and prohibited them from approaching her. The fierce governor did not believe his servants and he continued to urge Saint Seraphima to offer sacrifice to the idols. But the holy martyress remained unyielding even then, when they scorched at her with burning candles and mercilessly beat her with canes. Harsh punishment overtook the pitiless governor: chips from the sticks, which the saint was beaten with, caught him in the eyes, and after three days the tormentor went blind. Powerless before the unyielding Christian, the judge ordered her beheaded. Sabina with reverence buried the body of her holy teacher.
The Holy Martyress Theodotia and her Three Young Children lived during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). She was a Christian, a native of the city of Nicea Bithynia. Having been widowed, Saint Theodotia led a pious manner of life and raised her sons in the Christian faith. She was in spiritual friendship with Saint Anastasia the Alleviatrix-of-Captives (Comm. 22 December). When the persecution against Christians began, they arrested the holy women. At the trial, the dignitary Leucadius was captivated by the beautiful Theodotia and he decided to take her home with him, intending to marry her. Finding herself with her children in the home of Leucadius, Saint Theodotia kept herself in purity, yielding neither to inducements nor charms, nor threats by the pagan. Angered at the steadfastness of the saint, Leucadius sent her off with her children to Bithynia, to the district governor Niketas. At the interrogation, when the judge began to threaten her with torture, Saint Theodotia's eldest son Evodus said, that Christians fear not tortures, but fear instead being forsaken by God. They cruelly beat the boy before the eyes of his mother, such that he began to flow with blood. Saint Theodotia prayed, that the Lord would strengthen her son in his sufferings, and rejoiced in that he was being vouchsafed a martyr's end for truth. They gave Saint Theodotia over for defilement, but the Lord preserved her. Before the eyes of everyone occurred a miracle: an Angel of the Lord blocked the path for defilement, holding back everyone from approaching the saint. Imputing it to a work of sorcery, the judge sentenced the saint and her children to burning in a bon-fire (+ 304).
The memory of the holy Martyrs Theodotia, the Lad Evodus and her other two small sons is celebrated also under 22 December, together with the memory of Saint Anastasia the Alleviatrix-of-Captives.
The MonkMartyr Michael, a disciple of Saint Theodore of Edessa (Comm. 9 July), was beheaded during the IX Century for his confession of faith in Christ. His memory is celebrated also on 23 May.
The Holy Martyr Eustathios of Mtskheta was descended from a long line of Persian fire-worshipping pagan priests, and prior to Baptism he had the name Bgrobandaves. His father and brothers, serving in the Zoroastrian cult, attempted to make a pagan priest of Bgrobandaves, but in vain. During the reign of the Gruzian (Georgian) emperor Guram Kuropalat (575-600), at age 30 he resettled from the Persian village of Arbuketi (near the city of Gandrakili) to the ancient capital of Gruzia, the city Mtskheta. He earned the means of his livelihood in the sandal trade. Saint Eustathios began often to visit the Mtskheta cathedral, where the Christian Divine-services filled his soul with an inexorable delight. Archdeacon Samuel (the future Katholikos-Archbishop Samuel IV, 582-591), having noticed the spiritual proclivity of the Persian pagan, spoke with him about the Christian teachings. Having then come to believe in Christ, Bgrobandaves accepted to be a catechumen under Archdeacon Samuel, and after a certain while, when Samuel became Katholikos, he accepted Baptism under him with the name Eustathios. Eustathios then married a Christian wife, and led a pious life, abundant in virtue.
Fellow Persians, living also at Mtskheta, were unable to sway Saint Eustathios into a return to fire-worship, and so they persuaded the Persian head of the city to have him sent to Tbilisi to Arvand-Gubnav, satrap (vicar) of the Persian shah Chosroes Nushirvanes. Dispatched to trial under the satrap together with Saint Eustathios were likewise other Persians, who had accepted Christianity: Gubnak, Bagdad, Panaguznas, Perozav, Zarmi and Stephen. Two of these, Bagdad and Panaguznas, under the fear of death, renounced Christ.
Saint Eustathios and the remaining confessors honourably underwent a six-month imprisonment and through the intercession of the Katholikos Samuel IV and a Gruzian notable, they were set free.
The new satrap of Persia, Bezhan-Buzmil (appointed to Tbilisi three years later), at the instigation of the former enemies of Saint Eustathios, gave orders that he appear, and demanded that he renounce the faith in Christ and return to fire-worship. Saint Eustathios gave a dignified reply: "Can one forsake the Creator of all and worship but a creature of His? Never should this be! Neither the sun, the moon or the stars are in essence gods, but rather God did create the sun for brightening the day, and the moon and the stars, that they might shine in the darkness of night... And fire is not the Divinity; wherefore fire is produced by man and by man it is extinguished". By order of the satrap, Saint Eustathios was beheaded on 29 July 589. Before accepting the crown of martyrdom, on bended knee he offered up a prayer, beseeching the Lord, that after death his body be given Christian burial in the city of Mtsketa. The passion-bearer heard the Voice: "With nothing wilt thou be less than the first martyrs, neither with grace nor with healings, wherefore about thine body be not concerned, but it shalt be, as thou hast requested".
The body of Saint Eustathios, cast out by night upon a field, was conveyed by Christians to Mtskheta and with great honour placed by Katholikos Samuel IV beneathe the altar-table of the cathedral of Svetitskhoveli. The Katholikos Samuel IV established the memory to him on 29 July, the day of the glorious death of the holy martyr.
St. Shushanik died as a result of her refusal to accept the Zoroastrian religion professed by Georgia’s Iranian overlords. The life of Shushanik is the oldest surviving work of Georgian literature. It was composed between the years A.D. 476 and 483 by Jacob of Tsurtaveli, father-confessor to the princess, and is remarkable for its directness of language. The background of the saint's life is well known from other historical sources. Shushanik's father, Vardan Manukonian, was the hero of the Armenian nation A rising of the year 45, directed against the authority of the Zoroastrian king of Iran, Yezdegird. Shushanik's husband, the Georgian prince Varsken, occupied a strategic position as Pitiakhsh (from Iranian Bitakhsh, a viceroy) of the frontier region between Armenia and Georgia. As we see from the life of Shushanik, King Peroz of Iran sent Varsken to fight against the Huns who threatened to invade Persia from the north via Derbent and the shores of the Caspian Sea. Varsken was also supposed to exercise control over the king of Eastern Georgia (Iberia), whose capital at Mtskheta was within easy reach of Varsken's castle in Tsurtav.
Shushanik's death was brought about by political as much as by religious considerations. Her refusal to abjure Christianity infuriated her husband, who had embraced Mazdeism to ingratiate himself with the Persian court. Shushanik’s obduracy placed Varsken in a difficult position vis-a’-vis his suzerain, ultimately provoking him to murder her in particularly atrocious circumstances. He did not long profit by his crime, for the Armenian chronicler Lazarus of Pharp tells us that in the year 484, the redoubtable Christian king of Georgia, Wakhtang Gorgaslan (Gorgasali), rose in revolt against the Iranians and took prisoner their renegade ally Varsken, who was put to a painful and ignominious death. In addition to these political sidelights, the life of Shushanik is also of interest to the social historian for the insight it gives into such questions as the relations between the sexes in early Christian society and the climatic and sanitary conditions of ancient Caucasia.
The Monk Roman of Kirzhachsk was a co-ascetic and student of the Monk Sergei, Hegumen of Radonezh (Comm. 25 September and 5 July). The Monks Sergei and Roman in the forests of Vladimir governance at the River Kirzhach built there a church in honour of the Annunciation of the MostHoly Mother of God, and established a new monastery (in 1371). Three years later, with the blessing of Saint Alexei, Metropolitan of Moscow (Comm. 12 February), the Monk Sergei returned to the Troitsky-Trinity monastery, and the Monk Roman remained to head the newly-created wilderness monastery.
Ordained to the priestly dignity by Saint Alexei, the new head of the Annunciation monastery with great zeal fulfilled the precepts of his spiritual father and teacher -- the Monk Sergei. A zealous ascetic, a good and demanding instructor, the Monk Roman was an example for all the brethren.
The saint died on 29 July 1392 and was buried in the Annunciation temple. In the manuscripts of the Saints, the Monk Roman is numbered amongst the Saints and is called a wonderworker.
The Holy Disciples from the Seventy: Silas, Sylvanus (Siluanos), Crescentius, Epenetos and Andronikos were disciples of the Saviour.
The Disciple from the Seventy, Saint Silas, was a respected figure in the original Church at Jerusalem, "of the chief men amongst the brethren" (Acts 15: 22). The Council of the Apostles was convened at Jerusalem in the year 51 to deal with the question, whether it be necessary for Christians converted from among the Gentile-pagans to observe the (Old Testament) Mosaic Law [the Law-code contained in the Pentateuch, or Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament]. The Apostles afterwards sent a message with Paul and Barnabas to the Antioch Christians, in which they reported by resolve of the Council, Christians of Gentile-pagan origin were free from having to observe the prescripts of the Mosaic Law. But it was prescribed for them, nonetheless, that they refrain of partaking of foods offered to idols, from things strangled and from blood, to refrain from fornication, and to do naught else than that which be seemly (Acts 15: 20-29). Together with Saints Paul and Barnabas, the Council of the Apostles sent along members of the Jerusalem Church, Saints Silas and Jude, to explain the message in greater detail, since they both were filled with the indwelling grace of the Holy Spirit. Saint Jude thereafter was sent back to Jerusalem, but Saint Silas remained at Antioch and zealously assisted Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, on his missionary journeys preaching the Gospel. They visited Syria, Cilicia, Macedonia.
In the city of Philippi they were accused of inciting unrest among the people, and for this they were arrested, thrashed with canes, and then thrown into prison. At midnight, when the holy saints were at prayer, suddenly there occurred a strong earthquake, their chains fell off from them and the doors of the prison opened. The prison guard, supposing that the prisoners had fled, wanted to kill himself, but was stopped by the Apostle Paul. Then, all atremble he fell down at the feet of the saints, and with faith accepted their "euangelos" ("good-news") about Christ. He then led them out of the prison and took them to his own home, where he washed their wounds, and was baptised together with all his household.
From Philippi Saints Paul and Silas proceeded on to the cities of Amphypolis, Apollonia and Soluneia (Thessalonika). In each city they made new converts to Christ and built up the Church.
At Corinth the holy Disciple Silas was ordained bishop, and he there worked many a miracle and sign, and there too he finished his life.
The Holy Disciple Sylvanus (Siluanos) preached the Word of God together with the chief Apostles Peter and Paul. In his First OEcumenical Epistle, the holy Apostle Peter makes mention of him: "This in brief have I written to ye through Sylvanus, your true brother, I do think..." (1 Pet. 5: 12). Saint Sylvanus was made bishop at Soluneia (Thessalonika) and died there a martyr, having undergone many a sorrow and misfortune for the Lord's sake.
About the Holy Disciple Crescentius the holy Apostle Paul makes mention in his Second Epistle to Timothy (2 Tim. 4: 10), saying that Crescentius had gone preaching to Galatia. He was made bishop there, and afterwards he preached the Word of God in Gaul (modern-day France). In the city of Vienna (modern-day Austria) the holy Disciple Crescentius established his student Zacharius as bishop. Having returned to Galatia, he died a martyr under the emperor Trajan (98-117).
The Holy Disciple Epenetus was made bishop at Carthage. In his Epistle to the Romans, the holy Apostle Paul writes: "Greet my dear Epenetus, who is from the beginnings in Achaia [alt. Asia] for Christ" (Rom. 16: 5).
The Disciple Andronicus is mentioned also in this same Epistle by the Apostle Paul: "Greet Andronicus and Junia [June], my kinsfolk, famed amongst the Apostles and even before me believing in Christ" (Rom. 16: 7). The holy Disciple Andronicus was bishop in Pannonia (modern-day Hungary) (Comm. of Saints Andronicus and Junia is 17 May).
Saint Angelina was the daughter of Prince George Skenderbeg of Albania. Her mother's name is not known, but she raised her daughter in Christian piety and taught her to love God.
St Stephen Brancovich (October 9 and December 10), the ruler of Serbia, had come to Albania to escape those who wished to kill him. Some time before he arrived in Albania, St Stephen was unjustly blinded by the Turkish Sultan for some perceived offense. Since he was innocent, he bore his affliction with courage.
St Stephen was not only Prince George's guest, but he was also treated as a member of his family. Not surprisingly, Stephen and Angelina eventually fell in love. With her parents' blessing, they were married in church. After a few years, they were blessed with two sons: George and John.
When the boys were grown, St Stephen and his family were forced to flee to Italy for their safety. At that time the Turks invaded Albania and began to slaughter men, women, and even children.
St Stephen died in 1468, leaving Angelina a widow. In her distress, she turned to the ruler of Hungary for help. He gave them the town of Kupinovo in Sirmie.
St. Angelina left Italy with her sons in 1486, stopping in Serbia to bury St Stephen's incorrupt body in his native land.
The children of these pious parents also became saints. George gave up his claim to the throne in favor of his brother John, then entered a monastery and received the name Maximus.
John was married, but had no sons. He died in 1503 at a young age, and many miracles took place before his holy relics.
St Angelina survived her husband and both of her sons. Mindful of her soul's salvation, she entered a women's monastery. She departed to the Lord in peace, and her body was buried in the same tomb as her sons in the monastery of Krushedol in Frushka Gora.
St Angelina is also commemorated on December 10 with her husband St Stephen and her son St John.
Saint Tsotne Dadiani, a virtuous military leader and the prince of Egrisi, lived in the middle of the 13th century.
During that time Georgia languished under the yoke of Mongol oppression.
After the death of Queen Rusudan, the Mongols began to exact exorbitant fees from the Georgian princes, and they established compulsory military service for their Georgian subjects. The situation became unbearable, and the Georgian nobility planned a massive rebellion against the invaders.
Having assembled at the peak of Mt. Kokhta (in the Meskheti region of southern Georgia), rulers from all over Georgia agreed to assemble the troops in Kartli and attack on a single front. Tsotne Dadiani and the ruler of Racha were the first to muster their armies. But there were traitors among them, and the Mongols learned of the conspiracy. They surrounded Mt. Kokhta, arrested the rebels—save for Tsotne Dadiani and the ruler of Racha—and led them away to the Mongol ruler at Anis-Shirakavan.
The prisoners denied every accusation and asserted that the purpose of the gathering on Mt. Kokhta was to collect the tribute that the Mongol authorities had demanded. Infuriated at their insurgency, the Mongols stripped them bare, bound their hands and feet, smeared them with honey, threw them under the scorching sun, and interrogated them daily about the gathering on Mt. Kokhta.
Having heard what had transpired, Tsotne Dadiani became deeply distressed and took upon himself the blame for this tragic turn of events. Escorted by two servants, he journeyed voluntarily to Anis to lay down his life and suffer together with his brothers. Arriving in Anis and seeing his kinsmen doomed to death, the prince promptly undressed, tied himself up, and lay down next to them under the scorching sun.
The disbelieving Mongols informed their ruler about the strange man who had willingly lain down beside those who were condemned.
The ruler summoned him and demanded an explanation. “We gathered with a single goal—to collect the tribute and fulfill your command. If it was for this that my countrymen were punished, I also desire to share in their lot!” answered the courageous prince.
Tsotne’s chivalrous deed made a dramatic impression on the Mongols, and every one of the prisoners was set free.
Tsotne Dadiani is not mentioned in accounts of the next conspiracy against the Mongols, in the year 1259. Historians believe that he had already reposed by that time.
The virtues of St. Tsotne Dadiani are known to all throughout Georgia. His heroism and integrity are an example of faith, love and devotion to every generation, and the faithful of every era have honored his holy name.
Tsotne Dadiani was numbered among the saints on October 26, 1999, according to a decree of the Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
Saint Anatole the Younger (Alexander Potapov in the world) longed to be a monk from his youth. His mother would not give her blessing for this, so he entered Optina monastery only after her death.
Anatole lived in the Skete for many years as cell attendant to St Ambrose (October 10). After his death Fr Anatole functioned as an Elder, even though he was still a deacon.
St Anatole received everyone with love, and there were always crowds of visitors at his cell. He got very little sleep, since the people would not leave his cell until late at night.
The Elder was always very kind and ready to help anyone who came to him with problems or sorrows. One day he was visited by a man whose family had no roof over their head, and little money. No one was able to help him, so he began to drink. Then he decided to leave his wife and children and look for work in Moscow. Somehow he decided to go to Optina first and speak with Fr Anatole.
As he was blessing the man, St Anatole tapped him lightly on the head. Then the man said that he wanted to die. When questioned by the Elder, the man poured out his whole story. Fr Anatole listened patiently, blessed him again and told him that he would move into a new home in three days. This indeed came to pass, and the man's whole life changed.
In the early 1920s St Anatole was mocked and tormented by soldiers of the Red Army. He endured much suffering, but continued to receive visitors. He was supposed to be arrested on July 22, 1922, but asked for time to prepare himself.
Soldiers came the next morning and asked the Elder's cell attendant if he was ready. Fr Barnabas invited them to come in, and they found Fr Anatole lying in his coffin. The Lord had taken him during the night to spare him further suffering.
The Moscow Patriarchate authorized local veneration of the Optina Elders on June 13,1996. The work of uncovering the relics of Sts Leonid, Macarius, Hilarion, Ambrose, Anatole I, Barsanuphius and Anatole II began on June 24/July 7, 1998 and was concluded the next day. However, because of the church Feasts (Nativity of St John the Baptist, etc.) associated with the actual dates of the uncovering of the relics, Patriarch Alexey II designated June 27/July 10 as the date for commemorating this event. The relics of the holy Elders now rest in the new church of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God.
The Optina Elders were glorified by the Moscow Patriarchate for universal veneration on August 7, 2000.
The Holy Martyr John the Warrior served in the imperial army of the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Amidst other soldiers he was dispatched to seek out and kill Christians. Keeping up the external appearances of being a persecutor, Saint John in fact rendered great help to persecuted Christians: those who had been arrested -- he set free, others he warned of dangers threatening them, and assisted in their flight. Saint John showed charity not only to Christians, but to all the destitute and those needing help: he visited with the sick, and he consoled the grieving. When Julian the Apostate learned about the actions of the saint, he ordered him locked up in prison.
In the year 363 Julian the Apostate was killed in his war with the Persians. Saint John was set free and devoted his life to service of neighbour, and he lived in holiness and purity. He died in his old age.
The precise year of his death is unknown, and the place of burial of Saint John the Warrior was gradually forgotten. But then he appeared to a certain pious woman and indicated the place of his repose. It became known throughout the region. His uncovered relics were placed in a church of the Apostle John the Theologian in Constantinople. The Lord granted the relics of Saint John the Warrior the graced power of healing. Through the prayers of Saint John the aggrieved and sorrowing received comfort.
In the Russian Church, Saint John the Warrior is sacredly revered as a great intercessor in sorrows and difficult circumstances.
The Uncovering of the Relics of the Monk German of Solovetsk occurred in the year 1484. Saint German lived as an hermit at the River Vyg, by a chapel. It was here in about the year 1429 that the Monk Savvatii, from Valaamo monastery, came upon him, in seeking a solitary place for his ascetic deeds. German told Savvatii about Solovetsk Island, and both monks, in negotiating the sea, settled upon Solovetsk. They built themselves a cell beneathe the Sekir Heights, where they lived for six years. Upon the repose of Savvatii (+ 27 September 1435), the Monk German continued his ascetic efforts on the island together with another wilderness-dweller, the Monk Zosima (Comm. 17 April). German lived on the island for more than 50 years.
Being unlettered, but made wise by Divine Providence and wanting to preserve the memory about the efforts of the Monk Savvatii to edify many others, he summoned clergy to write down his memories about the Monks Savvatii and Zosima, and about the events which occurred during their lifetime. The Monk German loved to listen to edifying readings and in his final instruction to his students he bid them gather books at the monastery. For the domestic and other needs of the monastery the monk into his old age made dangerous sailings and prolonged journeys to the mainland. On one of these excursions to Novgorod in 1479 he died at the Antoniev monastery. They conveyed his body to the Solovetsk monastery, but because of some ruffians they had to make burial at a chapel in the village of Khavron'in on the River Svira. In 1484, when it was decided to move the grave to the place of the activities of the monk, his relics were found undecayed.
The PriestMartyr Polychronios, Bishop of Babylon, Presbyters Parmenias, Elimos and Chrysotelos, Deacons Luke and Muko, Holy Persian Prince-Martyrs Abdones and Sennis, and the Holy Martyrs Olympios and Maximos suffered during the III Century during a time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Decius (249-251). Decius, having gained a victory over the Persians and having seized territories from them, found there many a Christian and he began a persecution against them. The Babylonian bishop, Saint Polychronios, his presbyters Parmenias, Elimos, Chrysotelos and two deacons, Luke and Muko, were arrested and brought to the emperor, who commanded them to offer sacrifice to idols. But Saint Polychronios boldly replied to Decius: "We do offer ourselves in sacrifice to our Lord Jesus Christ, but your insignificant idols, wrought by human hands, we shalt never worship". For these words the enraged Decius had the confessors thrown into prison. At a second interrogation Saint Polychronios stood silent. Thereupon Decius said to the presbyters: "Your leader is voiceless". Saint Parmenias retorted: "The holy bishop is not without voice, but he doth not wish to defile his pure lips and "cast pearls before swine"" (Mt. 7: 6). In a rage Decius commanded the tongue of Saint Parmenias to be cut out for these words. In spite of this happening, Parmenias, in turning to Saint Polychronios, clearly uttered the words: "Pray thou for me, father, for I behold upon thee the Holy Spirit". By order of Decius they began to strike the holy Bishop Polychronios about the mouth with stones, and he, lifting up his eyes to heaven, gave up the spirit. They left his body laying there afront the pagan-temple of Saturn. By night there came the two Persian princes, Abdones and Sennis, secret Christians, and they buried the body of the holy martyr along the city walls.
Decius soon set off to the city of Kordula and gave orders to bring along the three presbyters and two deacons. At Kordula he again demanded the martyrs to offer sacrifice to idols, but Saint Parmenias, in spite of his cut-out tongue, loudly and firmly answered refusal for all.
Reckoning that Saint Parmenias could speak without a tongue through some sort of magic power, Decius gave orders to intensify the tortures and to burn at the confessors with fire. At this moment was heard a Voice from Heaven: "Come unto Me, ye humble of heart". Decius considered this Voice also the work of magic and he gave orders to behead the martyrs. The Persian princes Abdones and Sennis by night carried off the bodies of the martyrs and buried them in their own village, near Kordula. Reports of this were made to Decius. They arrested the princes and brought them to the emperor who, in seeing their brave and steadfast confession of faith in Christ, commanded the holy princes to be locked up in prison. The saints rejoiced and glorified God for such a fate.
And on this same day another two Persians named Olympios and Maximos were brought before Decius on charges of being Christians. For their bold confession of faith in Christ, the holy martyrs after being fiercely tortured were beheaded by the sword. For five days their bodies lay unburied, but on the sixth day Christians secretly by night gave their remains reverent burial.
Returning to Rome, Decius took with him the captives Abdones and Sennis in chains. And at Rome, having summoned the pagan-priests, Decius demanded the saints to offer sacrifice to the gods, promising freedom and honours. The holy martyrs answered: "We offer ourselves in sacrifice only to our God Jesus Christ, -- wherefore offer thy sacrifice to thine own gods". Decius thereupon sentenced them to be devoured by wild beasts. They set loose upon them two lions, and later on four bears, which would not touch the holy martyrs but instead lay only at their feet. Then they ran through Abdones and Sennis with swords. Their bodies lay for three days afront an idol to frighten Christians. By night a secret Christian, Cyrenius by name, took the bodies of the martyrs and buried them in his own home. The holy Martyrs Abdones and Sennis suffered in the year 251. Their relics are preserved in the church of Saint Mark at Rome.
The PriestMartyr Bishop Valentine (Valentinus or Ualentinos) and his Three Disciples the Holy Martyrs Proculus, Ephibius and Apollonius, and Righteous Avundius lived during the III Century. Saint Valentine was bishop in Umbria (Italy), in the city of Interamnum. He had the gift from God of healing various maladies through prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ. during this time there had come from Athens to Rome the three pagan youths Proculus, Ephibius and Apollonius, for further study in the Roman sciences and language. They found themselves a tutor, by the name of Craton, and lived in his home. It so happened, that the son of Craton named Cherimon fell grievously ill, and his spine was so contorted that it left his head at his knees. Craton turned to Bishop Valentine with an ardent request for help for his sick son. Having come to Rome for Craton, the holy bishop secluded himself in the same room with the sick youth and prayed fervently all night. When day came, the happy parents beheld their son all healed, they believed in Christ and were baptised together with all their household. Craton's students, the youths Proculus, Ephibius and Apollonius likewise accepted holy Baptism and became, together with Cherimon, devoted disciples of Saint Valentine. Fame about the spiritual teacher quickly spread, and many a youth and lad was converted to the faith in Christ. In their number was also the city-head's son, Avundius, who having accepted holy Baptism was ablaze in spirit and openly confessed himself a Christian in front of everyone. This was a bold thing to do, since at this time pagan polytheism ruled in the world, and Christianity was persecuted. The wrath of the youth's father and other city leaders fell upon holy Bishop Valentine, the teacher of the youths. They began to demand that renounce Christ and worship idols. After much torture they threw him into prison, where his students started coming to him. Learning of this, the city-head gave orders to take Valentine out of the prison and behead him. Saint Valentine's students Proculus, Ephibius and Apollonius took the body of their teacher and carried it off to the city of Interamnum, where with reverence they buried it. They spent their days at the grave of the holy bishop in prayer, and to them gathered both believers and pagans also, whom they converted to the true faith. This became known to the authorities. They arrested the youths and threw them in prison. Fearing that people might break the sufferers out of prison, the executioners by night beheaded them. Righteous Avundius, learning that his friends had been locked up in prison, hastened off to them, but finding them no longer alive, he grieved deeply. He took up their bodies and buried them at the grave of holy Bishop Valentine.
Arsenius of Ninotsminda was an ascetic who labored in the 11th century. History tells us that he was a brilliant translator, writer, calligrapher, and theologian, and indeed one of the greatest Church figures of his time.
St. Arsenius was tonsured a monk in Jerusalem, and after some time he returned to Georgia, where he was consecrated bishop of Ninotsminda. But the venerable Arsenius longed to lead a life of solitude, so he approached King Davit Kuropalates for permission to resign from the bishopric and settle at a monastery. The king honored Arsenius’s request, and the pious man set off for the monastery with John Grdzeslidze, a man of letters and another great figure in the Church.
When the news of his decision reached the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos, Sts. John and Ekvtime invited the fathers to Mt. Athos, and the next year Arsenius and John arrived at the Holy Mountain. There they assisted St. Ekvtime in his translations of the Holy Scriptures and many theological books.
St. Arsenius labored fruitfully at the Iveron Monastery for many years and reposed peacefully at an advanced age. He was buried on Mt. Athos at the monastery’s church of St. Simeon the Stylite. St. George of the Holy Mountain later translated his relics to the ossuary of the monastery’s catholicon.
The Venerable hieromartyr Metropolitan Benjamin (Kazansky) of Petrograd and Gdov headed the Eparchy of St. Petersburg as the Bolsheviks assumed power in Russia and was executed by them for his firm defense of the Church against the Renovated Church (Living Church) and for his stand against the requisition of the church valuables by the Bolsheviks. Benjamin is remembered on July 31 along with his fellow martyrs Archimandrite Sergius (Shein), and laymen George Novitsky, and John Kovsharov.
Basil Pavlovich Kazansky (Василий Павлович Казанский) was born into a family of a rural priest in the Nimensky in the Olonets Province about 1874. He attended the Petrozavodsk Theological Seminary before entering St. Petersburg Theological Academy in 1893. In 1895, he was tonsured a monk with the name Benjamin and ordained a deacon. In 1896, he was ordained a priest.
After graduating in 1897, he began teaching at the Riga Theological Seminary before, first, being appointed Inspector of the Kholm Theological Seminary in 1898 and then to the same position at the St. Petersburg Theological Seminary in 1899. In 1902, he was appointed Rector of the Samara Theological Seminary with the rank of archimandrite before he returned to the St. Petersburg Theological Seminary as its Rector in 1905.
On January 24, 1910, he was elected Bishop of Gdovsk, vicar of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, and became involved in charitable activities in the diocese including organizing the establishment of the Mother of God for the Care of Abandoned Women. In March 1917, Bp. Benjamin was elected Archbishop of Petrograd and Ladoga, replacing Rasputin’s appointee, Metr. Pitirim. In August, he was named Metropolitan of Petrograd and Ladoga and named also to the Holy Synod by the Local Church Council. Then, on January 26, 1918, he was appointed abbot of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra and named Metropolitan of Petrograd and Gdovsk.
In 1921, when the Bolshevik government began a campaign of confiscating Church valuables for the purported purpose of buying food for the starving population, Metr. Benjamin did not protest as he believed it his duty to save people’s lives, but he wanted this sacrifice to be voluntary and under the control of the Church. While the Communist press in Petrograd at the time praised his position, the Bolshevik hierarchy did not approve and continued to confiscate the valuables. On March 24, 1922, twelve priests, who later became part of the pro-Bolshevik Living Church movement, called for the unconditional surrender of all Church valuables. While his clergy were outraged at the position of the twelve, Metr. Benjamin tried to calm his priests so as to avoid a confrontation with the Bolshevik authorities. For a time an agreement worked to allow substitution of other property of equal value, but members of the twelve objected and attempted to gain control of the Church from Patriarch Tikhon and his bishops, a move that Metr. Benjamin refused to allow. Refusing to accept this threat, Metr. Benjamin declared that Vvedensky, their leader, was outside the Church and published this decree in the newspapers.
Having refused to rescind the decree, Metr. Benjamin was arrested and placed into prison. He, with other clergy and friends, was placed on trial. After a trial of two weeks, during which many witnesses were called both in accusation and defense, the defendants were found guilty. Recognizing that any pleas that he may offer would be useless, the defense attorney addressed the the court declaring, “Political considerations come first with you, and all verdicts must favor your policy.”
On July 5, the chairman of the Petrograd Provincial Revolutionary Tribunal announced that Metr. Benjamin and nine other defendants would be shot. Having been shaved and dressed in rags so that their identity as clergy was not evident, Metr. Benjamin, Archimandrite Sergius, George Novitsky, and John Kovsharov were summarily murdered on July 31, 1922.
In April 1992, the Holy Council of the Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church recognized that Metr. Benjamin and his companions are numbered among the holy martyrs.
Bishop of Auxerre, born at Auxerre c. 380; died at Ravenna, 31 July, 448. He was the son of Rusticus and Germanilla, and his family was one of the noblest in Gaul in the latter portion of the fourth century. He received the very best education provided by the distinguished schools of Arles and Lyons, and then went to Rome, where he studied eloquence and civil law. He practised there before the tribunal of the prefect for some years with great success. His high birth and brilliant talents brought him into contact with the court, and he married Eustachia, a lady highly esteemed in imperial circles. The emperor sent him back to Gaul, appointing him one of the six dukes, entrusted with the government of the Gallic provinces. He resided at Auxerre and gave himself up to all the enjoyments that naturally fell to his lot. At length he incurred the displeasure of the bishop, St. Amator. It appears that Germain was accustomed to hang the trophies of the chase on a certain tree, which in earlier times had been the scene of pagan worship. Amator remonstrated with him in vain. One day when the duke was absent, the bishop had the tree cut down and the trophies burnt. Fearing the anger of the duke, who wished to kill him, he fled and appealed to the prefect Julius for permission to confer the tonsure on Germain. This being granted, Amator, who felt that his own life was drawing to a close, returned. When the duke came to the church, Amator caused the doors to be barred and gave him the tonsure against his will, telling him to live as one destined to be his successor, and forthwith made him a deacon.
A wonderful change was instantly wrought in Germain, and he accepted everything that had happened as the Divine will. He gave himself up to prayer, study, and works of charity, and, when in a short time Amator died, Germain was unanimously chosen to fill the vacant see, being consecrated 7 July, 418. His splendid education now served him in good stead in the government of the diocese, which he administered with great sagacity. He distributed his goods among the poor, and practised great austerities. He built a large monastery dedicated to Sts. Cosmas and Damian on the banks of the Yonne, whither he was wont to retire in his spare moments. In 429 the bishops of Britain sent an appeal to the continent for help against the Pelagian heretics who were corrupting the faith of the island. St. Prosper, who was in Rome in 431, tells us in his Chronicle that Pope Celestine commissioned the Church in Gaul to send help, and Germain and Lupus of Troyes were deputed to cross over to Britain. On his way Germain stopped at Nanterre, where he met a young child, Genevieve, destined to become the patroness of Paris. One of the early lives of St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland, tells us that he formed one of St. Germain's suite on this occasion. Tradition tells us that the main discussion with the representatives of Pelagianism took place at St. Alban's, and resulted in the complete discomfiture of the heretics. Germain remained in Britain for some time preaching, and established several schools for the training of the clergy. On his return he went to Arles to visit the prefect, and obtained the remission of certain taxes that were oppressing the people of Auxerre. He constructed a church in honour of St. Alban about this time in his episcopal city.
In 447 he was invited to revisit Britain, and went with Severus, bishop of Trèves. It would seem that he did much for the Church there, if one can judge from the traditions handed down in Wales. On one occasion he is said to have aided the Britons to gain a great victory (called from the battle-cry, Alleluia! the Alleluia victory) over a marauding body of Saxons and Picts. On his return to Gaul, he proceeded to Armorica (Brittany) to intercede for the Armoricans who had been in rebellion. Their punishment was deferred at his entreaty, till he should have laid their case before the emperor. He set out for Italy, and reached Milan on 17 June, 448. Then he journeyed to Ravenna, where he interviewed the empress-mother, Galla Placidia, on their behalf. The empress and the bishop of the city, St. Peter Chrysologus, gave him a royal welcome, and the pardon he sought was granted. While there he died on 31 July, 450. His body, as he requested when dying, was brought back to Auxerre and interred in the Oratory of St. Maurice, which he had built. Later the oratory was replaced by a large church, which became a celebrated Benedictine abbey known as St. Germain's. This tribute to the memory of the saint was the gift of Queen Clotilda, wife of Clovis. Some centuries later, Charles the Bald had the shrine opened, and the body was found intact. It was embalmed and wrapped in precious cloths, and placed in a more prominent position in the church. There it was preserved till 1567, when Auxerre was taken by the Huguenots, who desecrated the shrine and cast out the relics. It has been said that the relics were afterwards picked up and placed in the Abbey of St. Marion on the banks of the Yonne, but the authenticity of the relics in this church has never been canonically recognized. St. Germain was honoured in Cornwall and at St. Alban's in England's pre-reformation days, and has always been the patron of Auxerre.
Righteous Eudokimos, a native of Cappadocia (Asia Minor), lived during the IX Century during the reign of emperor Theophilos (829-842). He was the son of the pious Christians Basil and Eudokia, an illustrious family and known to the emperor. The righteous life of Saint Eudokimos was totally guided towards pleasing God and service to neighbour. Having given a vow to remain unmarried and chaste, he avoided conversation with women and did not look at them; only with his own mother whom he extremely respected did he carry on edifying conversation. For his virtuous life the emperor appointed Saint Eudokimos as governor of the Kharsian district. Fulfilling his duty as a servant of God, Righteous Eudokimos governed the people justly and with kindness, he concerned himself over the misfortunate, and about orphans and widows, and he was a defender of the common people. His personal Christian exploits which he did in secret, were known only to God.
Eudokimos pleased God by his blameless life, and the Lord called him at age 33. Laying on his death-bed, Saint Eudokimos gave final instructions to place him in the grave in those clothes in which he would meet death. Then he sent everyone out of the room and besought the Lord in prayer, that no one would see his end, just as no one saw his secret efforts during life. His attendants buried him as he had instructed them. Right after the death of Righteous Eudokimos miracles happened at his grave, many sick people were healed, and the news about the miracles of healing spread about.
After 18 months the mother of Saint Eudokimos came to venerate the relics, from Constantinople, whither his parents had settled after the death of the saint. She gave orders to remove the stone, dig up the ground, open the grave, and everyone beheld the face of the saint, bright as though alive, altogether untouched by decay. Great fragrance came from him. They took up the coffin with the relics from the earth, and they changed the saint into new clothes. His mother wanted to take the relics of her son to Constantinople, but the Kharsian people would not clear a path for their holy one. But after a certain while the priest-monk Joseph, having lived and served at the grave of the saint, transported all the relics of Saint Eudokimos to Constantinople. There they were placed in a silver reliquary in the church of the MostHoly Mother of God, built by the parents of the saint.
Righteous Eudokimos is considered in the Russian Church to be one of the special protectors and intercessors before God of the family hearth.
The Holy Martyress Julitta lived at Caesarea Cappadocia during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). A certain pagan pilfered all her property, and when Julitta turned for relief to the courts, her antagonist reported to the judge that she was a Christian. the judge demanded the saint to renounce Christ, for which he promised to restore justice and return to her the unlawfully taken property. Saint Julitta resolutely refused the deceitful conditions, and for this she was burnt in a bon-fire in the year 304 (or 305). Sainted Basil the Great devoted his Praiseworthy Discourse to Saint Julitta 70 years after her death as a martyr.
Righteous Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. As a member of the Sanhedrin he did not participate in the "counsel and deed" of the Jews in passing a death sentence for Jesus Christ. After the Crucifixion and Death of the Saviour he made bold to go to Pilate and demand of him the Body of the Lord, to Which he gave burial with the help of Righteous Nicodemus, who was likewise a secret disciple of the Lord. They took down from the Cross the Body of the Saviour, wrapped it in a winding-cloth or plaschanitsa, and placed it in a new-hewn tomb, in which no one earlier had been buried (this tomb Saint Joseph had prepared previously for himself) -- in the Garden of Gethsemane, in the presence of the Mother of God and the holy Myrh-Bearing Women. Having rolled an heavy stone before the entrance of the tomb, they then departed (Jn. 19: 37-42; Mt. 27: 57-61; Mk. 15: 43-47; Lk. 24: 50-56).
Saint Joseph died peacefully in Anglium (England).