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April 1

The Life of the Monastic Mary of Egypt

At a certain Palestinian monastery on the outskirts of Caesarea there lived a saintly monk, Zosima. Having dwelt at the monastery since his childhood, he asceticised at it until he reached age 53, when he was disturbed by the thought: "Is there to be found in all the furthermost wilderness -- some holy person surpassing me in spiritual sobriety and deeds?"

Just hardly had he thought this, when an Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: "Thou, Zosima, by human standards hath asceticised not badly, but of mankind there is no one righteous (Rom. 3: 10). So that thou canst realise, how many there are of others and of higher forms of salvation, come out from this monastery, like Abraham from the house of his father (Gen. 12: 1), and go to the monastery situated by the Jordan".

Abba Zosima immediately left the monastery and following behind the Angel he went to the Jordan monastery and settled in it.

Here he beheld elders, truly radiant in their efforts. And Abba Zosima began to imitate the holy monks in spiritual activity.

Thus passed much time, and the holy Forty-Day Lent approached. At the monastery there existed a custom, on account of which also God had led the Monk Zosima thither. On the First Sunday (i.e. Forgiveness Sunday) starting the Great Lent the hegumen served the Divine-liturgy, all communed the All-Pure Body and Blood of Christ, and they partook afterwards of a small repast and then gathered again in church.

Having made prayer and a due number of poklon-prostrations, the elders, having asked forgiveness one of another, took blessing from the hegumen and during the common singing of the Psalm "The Lord is my Light and my Saviour: whom shalt I fear? The Lord is Defender of my life: from what shalt I be afraid?" (Ps. 26 [27]: 1), they opened the monastery gate and went off into the wilderness.

Each of them took with him a modest amount of food, such as needed it, while some however took nothing into the wilderness and fed on roots. The monks went about beyond the Jordan and spread out as far as possible, so that no one might see, how anyone fasted or asceticised.

When Great Lent drew to a close, the monks returned to the monastery on Palm Sunday with the fruit of their labour (Rom. 6: 21-22), having tested out their own conscience (1 Pet. 3: 16). And as regards this, no one asked anything, how anyone had toiled or made their effort.

And this year Abba Zosima also, in the monastery custom, went about beyond Jordan. He wanted to go deep into the wilderness, so as to find there any saints and great elders, both saving themselves there and praying for the world.

He went on into the wilderness for 20 days and then, when he sang the Psalms of the 6th Hour and made the usual prayers, suddenly on the right side from him there appeared as it were the shadow of an human form. He took fright, thinking that it might be a demonic apparition, but then having made over himself the Sign of the Cross, he put aside the fear and finishing his prayer, he turned towards the side of the shadow and saw going through the wilderness a bare human form, the body of which was black from the blazing sunlight, and the faded short hair was whitened, like a sheep's fleece. Abba Zosima rejoiced, since for all these days he had not seen any living thing, and immediately he turned towards his right side.

But just only as the naked wilderness-dweller perceived Zosima approaching, it immediately attempted to flee from him. Abba Zosima, forgetting his aches of age and fatigue, quickened his pace. But soon seeing the impossibility of gaining the upper hand he halted and began tearfully to implore the departing ascetic: "Why dost thou, saving thyself in this wilderness, flee from me, a sinful elder? Approach me, though I be incapable and unworthy, and grant me thine holy prayer and blessing, for the sake of the Lord, Who disdained no one ever".

The stranger, without turning, cried out to him: "Excuse me, Abba Zosima, but I cannot turn about and show my face to thee: for I am a woman, and as thou wouldst see, there is upon me no sort of garb for the covering of bodily bareness. But if thou wouldst to pray for me, a great and woesome sinner, throw thine own cloak to cover me, and then I can approach thee for blessing".

"She would not know me by name, save that through holiness and unknown deeds she hath acquired the gift of perspicacity from the Lord", -- perceived Abba Zosima, and he proceeded to fulfill that asked of him.

Covered by the cloak, the ascetic turned to Zosima: "Why thinkest thou, Abba Zosima, to speak with me, a woman sinful and unwise? What is it that thou dost wish to learn from me, and in sparing no strength thou didst exert such efforts?"

He however, having bent down upon his knees, asked blessing of her. At this point she likewise bent down before him, and for a long time they both each implored the other: "Bless". Finally the woman ascetic said: "Abba Zosima, it becometh thee to bless and to make the prayer, since thou art honoured with the dignity of presbyter and for many years, standing before the altar of Christ, thou hast offered up to the Lord the Holy Gifts".

These words frightened the Monk Zosima all the more. With a deep gasp he answered her: "O spiritual mother! Clearly of us two thou art the far closer to God and mortified for this world. Thou hast known me by name and called me priest, never before having seen me. It becometh thee therefore to bless me, for the sake of the Lord".

Yielding finally to the obstinance of Zosima, the Nun said: "Blessed is God, Who willeth the salvation of all mankind". Abba Zosima answered: "Amen", and they rose up from the ground. The woman ascetic again said to the elder: "Why hast thou come, father, to me a sinner, bereft of every virtue? Apparently, moreover, the grace of the Holy Spirit hath guided thee to do me one service, needful for my soul. But tell me first, Abba, how now live the Christians, how now thrive and prosper the Saints of God's Church?"

Abba Zosima answered her: "By your holy prayers God hath granted the Church and us all an effective peace. But thou who hast hearkened to the entreaty of an unworthy elder, my mother, to have prayed on account of God for all the world and for me a sinner, -- let not this wilderness meeting be for me to no avail".

The holy ascetic answered: "It more becometh thee, Abba Zosima, having priestly rank, to pray for me and for all. For this also was the dignity bestown thee. Moreover, all thine request bid of me gladly wilt be fulfilled on account of obedience to Truth and from purity of heart".

Having spoken thus, the saint turned herself towards the East, and having lifted up her eyes and raising up her hands to Heaven, she began to prayer in a whisper. The elder beheld, how she stood in the air a cubit off the ground. Seeing this wondrous vision, Zosima threw himself down prostrate, praying fervently and not daring to say anything except "Lord, have mercy!"

The thought entered his soul -- a premonition whether this might lead him into temptation? The woman ascetic, having turned round, lifted him from the ground and said: "Why do ponderings so trouble thee, Abba Zosima? I am no apparition. I -- am a woman sinful and unworthy, though also guarded by holy Baptism".

Having said this, she signed herself with the Sign of the Cross. Seeing and hearing this, the elder fell with tears at the feet of the woman ascetic: "I beseech thee by Christ our God, conceal not from me thine ascetic life, but bespeak it all, so that it be made clear for God's majesty. Wherefore I do believe by the Lord my God, by Whom thou also dost live, that for this I was sent into the wilderness, so that all thine ascetic deeds be made manifest for the world".

And the holy ascetic answered: "It distresses me, father, to relate to thee the shamelessness of my deeds. Whereof thou mightest then flee from me, averting the eyes and ears, as do they that flee the poisonous viper. But I shall tell thee everything, father, being silent about nothing of my sins, thou however I exhort thee, cease not to pray for me a sinner, that I be vested in boldness for the Day of Judgement.

I was born in Egypt and my parents being yet alive, and I being a twelve year old girl, I left them and went to Alexandria. There I lost my chastity and gave myself over to unrestrained and insatiable fornication. For more than seventeen years I indulged licentiously and I did it all gratis. That I did not take money was not because I was rich. I lived in poverty and worked at a spinning-wheel. I thought, that all the meaning of life consisted in satisfying fleshly lust.

Living such a life, I one time saw a crowd of people, from Libya and Egypt heading towards the sea, so as to sail to Jerusalem for the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. I too wanted to sail with them. But not because of Jerusalem and not because of the feast, but -- simply, father, -- because there would be more people with whom to indulge in depravity. And so I embarked on the ship.

Now, father, believe me, I am very amazed, that the sea tolerated my wantonness and fornication, that the earth did not open up its mouth and take me down alive into hell, so enticed and lost a soul... But evidently, God desired my repentance, not the death of the sinner, with long-suffering patience awaiting my conversion.

Thus I arrived in Jerusalem and all the days prior to the feast were just like on the ship, spent in obscene matters.

When the holy feast of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross of the Lord arrived, I went about as before, for tempting the souls of youths to sin. Having seen, that everyone very early was heading to the church, in which was situated the Life-Creating Wood, I went along with everyone and went into the church portico area. When the hour of the Holy Elevation drew nigh, I wanted to enter into the church with all the people. With great effort shoving myself towards the doors, I the wretch that I was, attempted to squeeze inside. But although I stepped up to the threshold, it was as though some force of God held me back, not allowing me to enter, and it threw me far off from the doors, whilst amidst this all the people went in without hindrance. I thought that, perhaps, it was through womanly weakness that I was not able to work my way into the crowd, and again I attempted to elbow aside people and shove myself to the doors. However hard I tried -- I could not enter in. Just only as my feet but touched the church threshold, I was stopped. The church admitted everyone else, no one else was prevented entering, while only I the wretch was not allowed in. Thus it went for three or four times. My strength was exhausted. I went off and stood in a corner of the church portico.

Here I came to sense, that it was my sins that prevented me to see the Life-Creating Wood, the grace of the Lord then touched my heart, I wept bitterly and in repentance I began to beat at myself upon the bosom. Lifting up to the Lord groans from the depths of my heart, I caught sight before me of an icon of the MostHoly Mother of God and I turned to it with the prayer: "O Lady Virgin, having given birth in the flesh to God the Word! I know, that I am unworthy to look upon Thine icon. It would be mete for me, an hateful prodigal, to be cast off from Thine purity and be for Thee an abomination, but I know also this, it was for this also that God became Man, in order to call sinners to repentance. Help me, O All-Pure One, that it be permitted me to enter into the church. Forbid me not to behold the Wood, upon which in the flesh the Lord wast crucified, shedding His innocent Blood also for me a sinner, to deliver me from sin. Do Thou command, O Lady, that the doors of the Holy Veneration of the Cross be opened to me. Be Thou for me the ardent Guide to He born of Thee. I promise Thee from this moment no more yet to defile myself with any sort of fleshly defilement, but just as soon as I but see the Wood of the Cross of Thy Son, I shalt immediately cut myself off from the world, and go whither Thou as Guide shalt guide me".

And when I had prayed thus, I sensed suddenly, that my prayer had been heard. In humbleness of faith, trusting upon the Compassionate Mother of God, I again joined in with those entering into the church, and no one thrust me back or prevented me from entering. I went on in fear and trembling, lest I not reach it to the doors nor be vouchsafed to behold the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord.

Thus I too perceived the mysteries of God, that God is prepared to accept the repentant. I feel to the earth, I prayed, I kissed the holy-things and emerged from the church, and I hastened again to stand before my Guide, where I had given my vow. Bending on my knees before the icon, I prayed thus before it:

"O our Beloved Lady Mother of God! Thou hast not rejected my prayer as unworthy. Glory be to God, accepting through Thee the repentance of sinners. It has become time for me to fulfill the promise, in which Thou wert the Guide. Wherefore now, O Lady, guide me on the pathway of repentance".

And herewith, not even having ended my prayer, I heard a voice, as though speaking from afar: "If thou pass over beyond Jordan, there wilt thou find the blessed respite".

I immediately believed, that this voice was on my account, and with weeping I cried out to the Mother of God: "Mistress Lady, forsake me not, defiled sinner that I be, but help me", -- and immediately I went from the church portico and proceeded along. A certain man gave me three coins of money. With them I bought myself three loaves of bread and from the merchant I learned the way to the Jordan.

In setting off I went into the church of Saint John the Baptist near the Jordan. Having made poklon-prostration before everything in the church, I immediately went down to the Jordan and washed my face and hands with its water. Then in this same temple of Saint John the Forerunner I communed the Life-Creating Mysteries of Christ, I ate half of one of my loaves of bread, drank from the holy Jordan its water and slept there the night on the ground at the church. In the morning I found not far off a small craft, and I journeyed on it across the river to the opposite shore, and again I prayed my Guide, that She would guide me as it might please Her. And forthwith I came into this wilderness".

Abba Zosima asked the Nun: "How many years is it, my mother, since he time when thou settled into this wilderness?" -- "I think, -- answered she, -- 47 years have elapsed, since I came from the Holy City".

Abba Zosima again asked: "What hast thou or what is it thou findest here as food, my mother?" And she answered: "I had with me two and an half loaves of bread when I traversed the Jordan, gradually they dried out and hardened, and eating little by little, for many years I ate from them".

Again Abba Zosima asked: "Is it possible thou hast survived for so many years without sickness? And received thou no sort of temptations from unexpected suggestions and enticements?" -- "Believe me, Abba Zosima, -- answered the Nun, -- I spent 17 years in this wilderness, literally like with wild beasts I struggled with my thoughts... When I began to eat bread, immediately the thought occurred about the meat and fish, towards which I was so attracted to in Egypt. I desired also the wine, since I drank much of it when I was in the world. Here indeed, not having often plain water and food, I fiercely suffered from thirst and hunger. I endured even more powerful woes: the desire seized upon me for lewd songs, I seemed to hear them, disturbing my heart and my hearing. Weeping and striking myself on the breast, I remembered then the promises I had given, going into the wilderness, given in front of the icon of the MostHoly Mother of God, my Guide, and I cried, imploring that the thoughts tearing at my soul be driven away. When repentance was perfected in the measure of prayer and weeping, I beheld from me a radiant Light, and then in place of my tempest a great quiet ensued.

The prodigal thoughts, pardon, Abba, how shall I confess to thee? The fire of passion burned within my heart and burned all over me, exciting lust. At the appearance of the accursed thoughts I threw myself down on the ground and literally I saw, that before me would stand the MostHoly Guide Herself and She would judge me, for transgressing my given vows. Thus I did not get up, laying face downwards day and night upon the ground, until repentance was made and that blessed Light encircled me, dispelling the evil disturbances and thoughts.

Thus I lived in this wilderness for the first seventeen years. Darkness after darkness, misery after misery stood about me, a sinner. But from that time until now the Mother of God, my Helper, guides me in everything".

Abba Zosima again inquired: "How is it for thee that there is needed neither food, nor apparel?"

She answered: "My bread ended, as I said, in those seventeen years. After that I began to eat roots and that which one is able to find in the wilderness. The clothing, which was upon me when I crossed over the Jordan, long ago shredded and fell apart, and I had then much to endure and to suffer both from the Summer heat, when the blazing heat fell upon me, and from the Winter, when I shivered from the cold. How many a time I fell down upon the earth, as though dead. How many a time in immeasurable struggle I dwelt with various misfortunes, woes and temptations. But from that time until the present day the power of God in unknown and manifold ways has watched over my sinful soul and humble body. I was fed and covered by the utterance of God, comprising all (Deut. 8: 3), since it is not by bread alone that man doth live, but by every utterance of God (Mt. 4: 4, Lk. 4: 4), and not having the protection of rocks to clothe themself in (Job 24: 8), if they do put off from themselves the garb of sin (Col. 3: 9). When I remembered, from what evil and from what sins the Lord delivered me, I found within this to be food inexhaustible".

When Abba Zosima heard, that the holy ascetic spoke from memory from the Holy Scripture -- from the Books of Moses and Job and from the Psalms of David, -- he then asked the Nun: "Where, my mother, hast thou learned the Psalms and other Books?"

She smiled at hearing this question, and answered thusly: "Believe me, O man of God, I have seen no one human, besides thee, from the time when I crossed over the Jordan. I was never earlier schooled in books, nor hearkened to church singing, nor Divine studies. Perhaps it is that the Word of God Himself, the Living and All-Creating, doth teach man everything intelligible (Col. 3: 16; 2 Pet. 1: 21; 1 Thes. 2: 13). However, enough still, I have confessed to thee all my life, but the point with which I began I also end on: I charge thee by the Incarnation of God the Word -- holy Abba, pray for me, a great sinner.

And I charge thee furthermore by the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ -- that everything, which thou hast heard from me, be not told to anyone until such time, when God shalt take me from the earth. And do thou fulfill this also, which I herewith tell thee. A year's time in future, during the Great Lent, come not across the Jordan, as bids your monastery's custom".

Again Abba Zosima was amazed, that the practice of his monastery was known to the holy woman ascetic, although in front of her he had not mentioned nor said anything about this.

"Remain, Abba, -- continued the Nun, -- at the monastery. Moreover, if thou intendest to exit the monastery, thou wilt not be able to... And when there ensues holy Great Thursday with the Sacramental-mystery of the Last Supper of the Lord, place in an holy vessel the Life-Creating Body and Blood of Christ our God, and bring it to me. Await me on this side of the Jordan, at the edge of the wilderness, so that I in coming may commune the Holy Mysteries. And to Abba John, the hegumen of your monastery community, say thus: attend to thyself and thine flock (Acts 20: 23; 1 Tim. 4: 16). I desire, however, that thou not say this to him now, but when the Lord shalt indicate".

Having spoken thus and having asked once more his prayer, the Nun turned and departed into the depths of the wilderness.

A whole year the elder Zosima dwelt in silence, not daring by the Lord to reveal about the appearance to him, and he prayed diligently, that the Lord would grant him once more to see the holy ascetic.

When again there ensued the first week of holy Great Lent, the Monk Zosima because of sickness was obliged to remain at the monastery. Then he remembered the prophetic words of the Nun, that he would not be able to exit the monastery. After the passing of several days the Monk Zosima was healed from his infirmity, but he remained the whole time until Passion Week at the monastery.

The day of the remembrance of the Last Supper came nigh. And then Abba Zosima fulfilled what was commanded of him -- in late evening he emerged from the monastery towards the Jordan and sat at the riverbank in expectation. The saint seemed tardy, and Abba Zosima prayed God, that He would not deprive him of the meeting with the woman ascetic.

Finally the Nun came and stood at the far side of the river. Rejoicing, the Monk Zosima got up and glorified God. But the thought then came to him: how could she get across the Jordan without a boat? But the Nun, with the Sign of the Cross crossing over the Jordan, quickly made her way over the water. When the elder wanted to make prostration before her, she forbade him, crying out from amidst the river: "What art thou doing, Abba? Thou art a priest -- bearing the great Mysteries of God".

Having traversed the river, the Nun said to Abba Zosima: "Bless me, father". He however answered her with trembling, astonished at the wondrous vision: "Truly God is not false, in promising to liken unto Him all that are cleansed, howsoever this be possible with the dead. Glory to Thee, O Christ our God, having shown me through Thine holy servant, how far I stand from the measure of perfection".

After this the Nun asked him to recite both the "I believe" of the Creed and the "Our Father". At the finish of the prayers, and having communed the Awesome Sacred Mysteries of Christ, she raised her hands towards the heavens and she pronounced the prayer of Saint Simeon the God-Receiver: "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes hath seen Thy salvation".

Then again the Nun turned towards the elder and said: "Please, Abba, do thou fulfill for me yet another request. Go now to thy monastery, and in another year's time come to that dried-out streambed where we the first time spoke". "If only it were possible for me, -- answered Abba Zosima, -- to follow after thee constantly, so as to see thine holiness!" The Nun again besought the elder: "Pray, for the Lord's sake, pray for me and remember my woe". And having signed the Jordan with the Sign of the Cross, she as before went over the water and disappeared into the dark of the wilderness. The elder Zosima returned to the monastery in spiritual rejoicing and trembling, but in one thing he reproached himself, that he had not asked the name of the Nun. But he hoped the following year finally to learn also her name.

A year passed, and Abba Zosima again set out into the wilderness. Praying, he reached the dried-out stream, on the Eastern side of which he saw the holy woman ascetic. She lay dead, with arms folded on her bosom, as is proper, and her face was facing the East. Abba Zosima washed with his tears her feet, not daring to touch the body, for a long while he wept over the deceased ascetic and began to sing the Psalms as are proper to grief over the death of the righteous, and reciting the funeral prayers. But he had misgivings, whether it should please the Nun, that he should bury her. Hardly had he but thought this, when he saw, that which was traced out near her head: "Abba Zosima, bury on this spot the body of humble Mary. Restore dust unto the dust. Pray the Lord for me, having reposed the month of April the first day, on the very night of the salvific sufferings of Christ, after the communing of the Divine Last Supper".

Having read this inscription, Abba Zosima was astonished at first, who might have done this, since the ascetic herself was unlettered. But he was glad finally to learn her name. Abba Zosima realised, that the Nun Mary, having communed the Holy Mysteries at Jordan from his hand, instantaneously had made her distant wilderness journey, which he, Zosima, had taken twenty days to traverse, and immediately she had expired to the Lord.

Glorifying God and having washed with his tears the earth and the body of the Nun Mary, Abba Zosima said to himself: "It is time already, Elder Zosima, to fulfill that commanded of thee. But how wilt thou be able, thou wretch, to dig out the grave, having nothing in thine hands?" Having said this, he saw not far off in the wilderness a cast-aside piece of wood, and he took it and began to dig. But the ground was very dry, and he could not much dig it, and drenched with sweat he could do no more. Having straightened up, Abba Zosima saw at the body of the Nun Mary an enormous lion, which licked at her feet. Terror seized the elder, but he signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, believing that he would remain unharmed through the prayers of the holy woman ascetic. Then the lion began to fondle up to the elder, and Abba Zosima, emboldened in spirit, commanded the lion to dig out the grave, so as to commit to earth the body of Saint Mary. At his words the lion with its paws dug out a pit, in which the body of the Nun was buried. Having fulfilled their bidding, each went their own way: the lion -- into the wilderness, and Abba Zosima -- to the monastery, blessing and praising Christ our God.

Having arrived at the monastery, Abba Zosima related to the monks and the hegumen, what he had seen and heard from the Nun Mary. All were astonished, hearing about the grandeur of God, and with fear, faith and love they established it to make memory of the Nun Mary and to honour the day of her repose. Abba John, the hegumen of the monastery, at the words of the Nun Mary, and with the help of God corrected at the monastery the things that were needed. Abba Zosima, living all the yet more God-pleasing a life at the monastery and reaching nearly an hundred years of age, finished there his temporal life, and crossed over into life eternal.

And thus there has come down to us this wondrous account about the life of the Nun Mary of Egypt, passed down through the ancient ascetics of the famed monastery of the holy All-Praiseworthy Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord John, situated at the Jordan. The account at first was not written down by them, but was reverently passed on by the holy elders from teachers to their students.

"I however, -- says Sainted Sophronios, Archbishop of Jerusalem (Comm. 11 March), the first transcriber of the Vita (Life), -- that which I in turn received from the holy fathers, I have committed everything of it into the written account".

"May God, working great miracles and bestowing great gifts on all, that turn themselves to Him in faith, may He reward also those honouring, and hearing, and transmitting to us this account and vouchsafe us a blessed portion together with Blessed Mary of Egypt and with all the Saints, pleasing unto God by their thought and works throughout all the ages. Let us give glory to God the King Eternal, that we be vouchsafed to find mercy on the Day of Judgement through Christ Jesus Our Lord, to Whom becometh all glory, honour, majesty and worship together with the Father, and the MostHoly and Life-Creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages, Amen".

The Monk Evphymii of Suzdal'

The Monk Evphymii of Suzdal' was born in the year 1316 at Nizhnii Novgorod. From early childhood he was taught his letters and received a spiritual upbringing. He accepted monastic tonsure at the Nizhegorod Pechersk monastery under its founder, Saint Dionysii (later the Archbishop of Suzdal', + 1385, Comm. 26 June and 15 October). The efforts of the Monk Evphymii were so great, that Saint Dionysii counselled him to lessen them. In 1352 the Suzdal' prince Boris Konstantinovich sought to establish in his city a men's monastery, and he turned to the Nizhegorod Pechersk monastery with a request to send a monk for the establishing of the monastery. The choice of the saintly hegumen fell upon the Monk Evphymii. After the arrival of the Monk Evphymii, -- in the northern part of the city, beyond the Kamenka River, the Suzdal' Sainted-hierarch John (Comm. 15 October) -- in front of a tremendous throng of the people erected a cross on the spot of the future monastery cathedral. The prince himself began to dig the ground for the foundation, and the Monk Evphymii shaped for himself three grave stones, giving a vow to remain in the new monastery until the very end of his life. Thus was laid the foundation of the Saviour-Transfiguration Evphymiev monastery, where soon under the guidance of the monk gathered more than three hundred monks. At the monastery was adopted the common-life ustav (rule). In particular the monk insisted, that each of the monks be prepared to fulfill whatever the obedience. The Monk Evphymii went often to the Trinity-Sergiev monastery to the Monk Sergei of Radonezh (+ 1392, Comm. 25 September and 5 July). Saint Evphymii was a strict ascetic and a great man of prayer. He toiled incessantly for the benefit of all the brethren. The Monk Evphymii died in the year 1404, on 1 April.

On 4 July 1507 during the digging of a foundation trench for a new cathedral church, his incorrupt relics were uncovered. The saint was glorified at a Sobor (Council) in 1549.

The Holy Martyr Avramii (Abraham) the Bulgar, Vladimir Wonderworker

The Holy Martyr Avramii (Abraham) the Bulgar, Vladimir Wonderworker, lived during the XIII Century, and was descended from the Kamska Bulgars and brought up in Mahometanism. He was good and kindly towards the destitute, and when the Lord enlightened him with the Light of reason, he accepted Christianity. In the city of Bolgara, on the lower stretches of the Volga, Saint Avramii began to preach to his fellow countrymen about the True God. They seized hold of him and tried to force him to renounce Christ, but the saint remained firm in his confession. They tortured the martyr fiercely and for a long while, but he endured everything with an unshakable patience. On the day of 1 April 1229 they quartered the holy Martyr Avramii, and then cut off his venerable head. Russian Christians living in the city buried the remains of the saint in the Christian cemetery. On 6 March 1230, the relics of Saint Avramii were transferred by the Vladimir Great-prince Saint Georgii Vsevolodovich (Comm. 4 February) to the Uspenie (Dormition) cathedral of the Knyaginin (Princess) monastery. And from that time began celebration of his memory.

The Monk Gerontii

The Monk Gerontii asceticised during the XIV Century. He was a monk of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery and fulfilled the obedience of canonarch (arranger of church-canon song). He spent all his life at the monastery, in ascetic deeds of abstinence, obedience and prayer. The Monk Gerontii was buried in the Farther Caves. His memory is celebrated also together with the Sobor-Assemblage of the Monks of the Farther Caves, on 28 August.

The Martyrs Gerontios and Basilides

The Martyrs Gerontios and Basilides suffered a martyr's death for Christ in the III Century, -- they were beheaded by the sword.

The Monk Makarios, Hegumen of the Pelikiteia Monastery

The Monk Makarios, Hegumen of the Pelikiteia Monastery, was born at Tsar'grad (Constantinople). While still a lad he lost his parents. The saint fervently read the Word of God and became so absorbed with it, that he decided to devote his life entirely to God. He entered the Pelikiteia monastery in Bithynia, where at the time the hegumen was the reknown ascetic, the Monk Ilarion (+ c. 754, Comm. 28 March). After the death of this monastic head, the Monk Makarios was unanimously chosen by the brethren as hegumen. During the reign of the Byzantine emperors Leo V the Armenian (813-820) and Michael II the Stammerer (820-829), the Monk Makarios suffered as a confessor for the veneration of holy icons. He was dispatched to the island of Aphusia, where he died in about the year 830.

The Monk John Shauteli

The Monk John Shauteli was a distinguished Gruzinian (Georgian) poet, philosopher and rhetorician of the XII (XIII) Century. In his youth he received an excellent education at the Gelata academy (Western Gruzia), where he studied the works of the holy fathers, ancient and Arabic history, philosophy and literature. The saint later accepted monasticism and for many years he asceticised at the famed Cave monastery of Bardzia (in South Gruzia), in a solitary cell. Here, adding work upon work, the Monk John led the life of a strict ascetic, constantly devoting himself to prayerful meditations about the Trinity, the world-creation, the destiny of man and a deep insight into the meaning of the Holy Scripture.

In his constant effort he attained to an high degree of spiritual perfection and he received a remarkable gift of words, revealed in his poetic creativity.

At the Bardzia monastery during the years 1210-1214, the Monk John wrote a remarkable Ode, "Abdul-Messiya" ("Servant of Christ"), in which he intoned the image of the Christian, faithful to the canons of the Holy Orthodox Church. In the ode the monk calls himself very much a "wanderer" and "servant of Christ". Many a prayerful strophe is dedicated in it to the holy Nobleborn Gruzian emperor Saint David III the Restorer (+ 1125, Comm. 26 January) and to the holy Nobleborn Gruzian empress Saint Tamara the Great (+ 1212, Comm. 1 May and on the Sunday of the Myrh-Bearing Women).

Shota Rustaveli, for whom the Monk John Shauteli was a literary predecessor, exclaimed, "For the Abdul-Messiya Shauteli did sing resounding poetic strophe, -- he was a master in the art!" The theological significance of the "Abdul-Messiya" is particularly evident in those strophic verses, where the poet offers up prayers in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity, to give thanks to the Trinity-Almighty and Divine Providence, for having vouchsafed mankind salvation in Christ. Speaking about the array of the world-creation by God, the Monk John writes, in concurrence with the works of Saint Dionysios the Areopagite (+ 96, Comm. 3 October), about the Coelestial and Ecclesial Hierarchies.

In another of his works -- "The Song to the Bardzian Mother of God" -- the Monk John Shauteli eulogised the historical Basian Battle (1204), in which the Gruzian national military forces, proceeding forth from the Bardzian monastery, routed a 400,000 strong Musselman army led by sultan Rukn-ed-din. Thanks to this victory, Gruzia preserved its independence and remained an outpost of Orthodoxy in the Middle East, and this undoubtedly contributed to the strengthening of the oneness of the faith of Byzantium.

The Monk John Shauteli reposed in extreme old age. His memory from of old is venerated by the Gruzinian Church.

April 2

St. George of Atsquri

A few biographical details about St. George of Atsquri have been preserved in the writings of the famous 10th-century Georgian hagiographers George Merchule and Basil of Zarzma.

St. George of Atsquri lived at the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th centuries. A member of the aristocratic and pious Shuartqeli family, St. George was raised and educated in the environs of Georgia’s renowned Opiza Monastery in Klarjeti.

Four years after the death of the great feudal lord George Chorchaneli, St. George succeeded him as ruler of the Samtskhe region. At that time a bitter conflict arose over who was the rightful heir to Chorchaneli’s inheritance.

While serving as the chief political leader of Samtskhe, St. George also directed the region’s spiritual life, wisely administering the ancient Atsquri diocese for many years. According to tradition, the diocese of Atsquri was founded by the holy Apostle Andrew the First-called, who left there the “Not-Made-By-Hands” icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (known as the Atsquri Icon of the Mother of God) as an offering to the Georgian Church.

Though his literary works have not been preserved, St. George is also commemorated as a great writer of the Church.

In his book The Life of St. Grigol of Khandzta, St. George Merchule notes that St. George of Atsquri made some of the most significant contributions to the biographical writings on St. Grigol of Khandzta. St. George of Atsquri was a close companion of St. Serapion of Zarzma. He was present at his burial and contributed much to the hagiographical writings on his life and works.

The Monk Tito the Wonderworker

The Monk Tito the Wonderworker devoted himself from the time of youth to the monastic life. He pursued asceticism in the IX Century at the Studite monastery near Constantinople. By his deeds of fasting, purity of life and mild disposition the Monk Tito gained the common love of the brethren and at their request he was ordained presbyter. Fervent of faith, the monk stood up bravely for the Orthodox veneration of icons during the time of Iconoclast persecution. For his virtuous life he was granted by God the gift of wonderworking. The saint expired to the Lord in old age.

The Holy Martyrs Amphianos and Hedesios

The Holy Martyrs Amphianos and Hedesios were brothers by birth. They lived in the city of Patara (province of Lycia) in the family of the pagan city-governor. For their further study in the pagan sciences they went to the city of Beirut.

There the brothers came to believe in Christ and became ardent followers of Him.

The holy brothers quit their pagan parents and departed to Alexandrian Caesarea, where they found for themselves an instructor, the Presbyter Pamphilos (the account about him is under 16 February), and under his guidance they became accomplished in spiritual life, dwelling in prayer and the study of sacred books.

At that time by decree of the emperor Maximian (305-313), a zealous pagan and cruel persecutor of Christians, -- all the inhabitants of the city of Caesarea were required to make a public offering of sacrifice.

To save themselves from idol-worship, many Christians had to hide themselves away in secret places. Saints Amphianos and Hedesios also hid away.

But when the governor of the city of Caesarea had to make the sacrifice to idols, Saint Amphianos boldly went into the temple, he took hold the hand of the governor standing with the pagan sacrifice, and began to urge him to forsake his error and believe in Christ.

By order of the governor, soldiers seized hold of Saint Amphianos, fiercely beat him and then threw him in prison. Two days later they led him to trial, where they beat him with iron rods and burned at his body with bundles of flax soaked in oil. The brave youth, steadfastly confessing his faith in Christ, was then thrown with a stone about his neck into the sea. But suddenly a strong storm blew up, and the waves carried the body of the martyr to shore, where Christians gave it burial. The brother of the Martyr Amphianos, Saint Hedesios, was likewise subjected to torture, and they then sent him off to the copper mines.

After a certain while they freed Saint Hedesios and sent him to Alexandria. There he learned of the extreme cruelty towards Christians by the governor Hierokles, and he boldly denounced him. They began to torture Saint Hedesios, and then like his brother they drowned him (+ 306).

The Holy Martyr Polycarp

The Holy Martyr Polycarp The Holy Martyr Polycarp suffered for his bold denunciation of the emperor Maxmian (305-313) for the spilling of innocent Christian blood in the city of Alexandria.

He openly confessed himself a Christian and went to voluntary torture. After cruel sufferings the martyr was beheaded.

Sainted Savva, Archbishop of Surozh

Sainted Savva, Archbishop of Surozh (now the city of Sudak), lived in the Crimea (early XII Century). What is known about him is preserved as marginalia of the Greek Menaion written in the XII Century. At 5 versts from the former city of Surozh there exists a mountain, called Ai-Savva (Saint Savva), where there were once preserved the remains of a church and cave, in which apparently, the saint died and was buried. In the year 1872 was found an icon of Saint Savva of Surozh.

April 3

The Monk Nikita (Nicetas) the Confessor

The Monk Nikita (Nicetas) the Confessor, hegumen of the Mydicia monastery, was born in Bithynian Caesarea (northwest Asia Minor) of a pious family. His mother died 8 days after his birth, and his father -- named Philaret, was tonsured into monasticism. The infant remained in the care of his grandmother, who raised him in a true Christian spirit. From his youthful years Saint Nikita attended in church and was an obedient of the hermit Stephanos. With his blessing Saint Nikita set off to the Mydicia monastery, where the hegumen then was Saint Nicephoros (Comm. 13 March).

After seven years of virtuous life at the monastery, famed for its strict ustav (monastic rule), the Monk Nikita was ordained presbyter. And the Monk Nicephoros, knowing the holy life of the young monk, entrusted to him the guidance of the monastery when he himself became grievously ill.

Not wanting power, the Monk Nikita began to concern himself about the enlightening and welfare of the monastery. He guided the brethren by his own personal example of strict monastic life. Soon the fame of the lofty life of its inhabitants of the monastery attracted there many, seeking after salvation. And after several years the number of monks had increased to 100 men.

When the Monk Nicephoros expired to the Lord in his extreme old age, the brethren unanimously chose the Monk Nikita as hegumen.

The Lord vouchsafed Saint Nikita the gift of wonderworking. Through his prayer a deaf-mute lad was restored the gift of speech; two demon-possessed women received healing; he restored reason to one who had lost his mind, and many others of the sick were healed of their infirmities.

During these years under the emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820), the Iconoclast heresy resumed and the oppression over holy icons intensified. Orthodox bishops were deposed and banished. At Constantinople in 815 a council of heretics was convened, at which they dethroned the holy Patriarch Nicephoros (806-815, + 828), and in his place they chose the heretical layman Theodotos. In place of exiled and imprisoned Orthodox bishops they likewise installed heretics. The emperor summoned before him all the heads of the monasteries and tried to draw them over to the Iconoclast heresy. Among those summoned was also the Monk Nikita, who stood firmly for the Orthodox confession. On his example all the hegumens remained faithful to the veneration of holy icons. For this they threw him in prison. The Monk Nikita bravely underwent all the tribulations and encouraged firmness of spirit in the other prisoners.

Then the emperor and the false-patriarch Theodotos to trick with cunning those that persisted. They explained to them, that the emperor would give them all their freedom and permit the veneration to the icons on one condition: if they would take Communion from the pseudo-patriarch Theodotos. For a long time the monk had doubts, whether he should enter into church communion with an heretic, but others of the prisoners besought him to partake together with them. Acceding to their entreaties, the Monk Nikita went into the church, where for the deception of the confessors icons were set out, and he accepted Communion. But when he returned to his monastery and saw, that the persecution against icons was continuing, he then repented of his deed, returned to Constantinople and began fearlessly to denounce the Iconoclast heresy. All threats from the emperor were ignored by him. The Monk Nikita was again locked up in prison, where he spent six years, until the death of the emperor Leo the Armenian. And there, enduring hunger and travail, the Monk Nikita by the power of his prayers worked miracles: through his prayer the Phrygian ruler released two captives without ransom; three men for whom the Monk Nikita prayed, who had suffered shipwreck, were thrown up on shore by the waves. In the year 824 under the new emperor Michael (820-829), the Monk Nikita expired to the Lord. The body of the monk was buried at the monastery with reverence. Afterwards, his relics became a source of healing for those coming to venerate the holy confessor.

The Monk Illyrikos the Wonderworker

The Monk Illyrikos the Wonderworker asceticised on Mount Marsion in the Peloponessus. His date of life and deeds are unknown.

The Monk Nektarii of Bezhetsk

The Monk Nektarii of Bezhetsk was a monastic of the Trinity-Sergiev monastery. In the mid XV Century he settled in a dense forest in the upper part of the Bezhetsk region, where he built himself a cell. The deeds and the spiritual wisdom of the monk attracted to him many, that wanted to live under his guidance. In a short while the monks built a church in honour of the Vvedenie-Entry into the Temple of the MostHoly Mother of God, and they enclosed it about with a fence. The new monastery was one of the poorest, and which in the expression of the chronicler, was built "with tears, fasting and vigil". By common accord of all the brethren of the monastery, its founder the Monk Nektarii was chosen as hegumen. The Monk Nektarii died on 3 April 1492.

The Holy Martyress Theodosia of Tyre

The Holy Martyress Theodosia of Tyre suffered in the year 307. On 29 May is celebrated the transfer of her relics to Constantinople, and later on to Venice.

Once, during a time of persecution against Christians, which then had already lasted for five years, the seventeen year old Theodosia went up to condemned Christian prisoners, situated in the Praetorium. It was the day of Holy Pascha, and the martyrs spoke about the Kingdom of God. Saint Theodosia asked them to remember her before the Lord, when they should come to stand before Him. Soldiers saw that the maiden bowed to the prisoners, and they seized hold of her and led her before the governor, Urban. The governor advised the maiden to offer sacrifice to the idols but she refused, confessing her faith in Christ. Then they subjected the saint to cruel tortures, -- her body they struck at with iron claws such that they did lay bare the bones. The martyress was silent and with an happy face endured the sufferings, and to a second suggestion by the governor to offer sacrifice to the idols she answered: "Thou fool, I have been granted to join the martyrs!" They threw the maiden with a stone about her neck into the sea, but Angels drew her out from the depths. Then they gave over the martyress for devouring by wild beasts. Seeing that the beasts would not touch her, they cut off her head. By night Saint Theodosia appeared to her parents, who had tried to talk their daughter into not going to the sufferings. She was in bright garb with a crown upon her head and a luminous gold cross in her hand, and she said: "Behold the great glory that ye did want to deprive me of!".

The Holy Martyrs Elpidiphoros, Dios, Bythonios and Galikos

The Holy Martyrs Elpidiphoros, Dios, Bythonios and Galikos suffered for their confession of faith in Jesus Christ. They cut off the head of Saint Elpidiphoros with a sword. Saint Dios they stoned. Saint Bythonios was drowned in the sea, and the Martyr Galikos was sent for devouring by wild beasts.

The Martyred Monastic Fathers of the Davido-Garedzh Lavra

The Martyred Monastic Fathers of the Davido-Garedzh Lavra, numbering more than 6,000, accepted a martyr's death in Gruzia (Georgia) for confessing the Christian faith at the beginning of the XVII Century, during the time of shah Abbas I. The saints were buried in the temple of the Davido-Garedzh monastery by the emperor Archil II (Comm. 21 June).

April 4

St. Joseph the Hymnographer

The Monk Joseph, Writer of Church-Song, was born in Cilicia in a pious Christian family. His parents, Plotinos and Agathea, resettled into the Peloponnesus to save themselves from barbarian invasions. At age 15, Saint Joseph departed for Thessalonika and entered a monastery. He distinguished himself by his piety, his love for work, his meekness, and he gained the good-will of all the brethren of the monastery. The monk was later ordained to the dignity of presbyter.

The Monk Gregory Dekapolites (Comm. 20 November) visited the monastery and took notice of the young monk, taking him along to Constantinople, where they settled together near the church of the holy Martyrs Sergios and Bakkhos. This was during the reign of the emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820) -- a time of fierce iconoclast persecutions. The Monks Gregory and Joseph fearlessly defended the veneration of holy icons. They preached in the squares of the city and visited in the homes of the Orthodox, encouraging them against the heretics. The position of the Constantinople Church was grievous to the extreme: not only the emperor, but also the patriarch -- both were iconoclast heretics.

During these times the Roman bishops were in communion with the OEcumenical Church, and Pope Leo III -- not being under the dominion of the Byzantine emperor, was able to render great help to the Orthodox. The Orthodox monks chose the Monk Joseph as a steadfast and quite eloquent messenger to the Pope. The Monk Gregory blessed him to journey to Rome and to report about the position of the Constantinople Church, and about the dangers threatening Orthodoxy.

During the journey, the Monk Joseph was captured by Arab brigands which had been bribed by the iconoclasts. They took him off to the island of Crete, where they handed him over to the iconoclasts. The Monk Joseph was locked up in prison. Bravely enduring all the deprivations, he encouraged also the other prisoners. Through the prayers of the monk, a certain Orthodox bishop who had begun to waver was strengthened in spirit and courageously accepted a martyr's death.

The Monk Joseph spent six years in prison. On the night of the Nativity of Christ in 820 he was granted a vision of Sainted Nicholas of Myra, who informed him about the death of the iconoclast-oppressor Leo the Armenian, and also the cessation of the persecution over holy icons. Saint Nicholas gave the monk a scroll of paper and said: "Take this scroll and eat it". On the scroll was written: "Hasten, O Gracious One, and attend to our aid in as Thou art the Merciful One, as may be possible and as Thou dost will". The monk read the scroll, ate it and said: How sweet to my throat art these words (Ps. 118 [119]: 103). Saint Nicholas bid him to sing forth these words. After this the fetters of themself fell off from the monk, the doors of the prison opened up, and he freely emerged from it and was transported in the air and placed down on a large avenue near Constantinople, leading into the city. At Constantinople the Monk Joseph found that the Monk Gregory Dekapolites was no longer among the living, rather only his disciple Blessed John (Comm. 18 April), who likewise soon died. The Monk Joseph built a church in the name of Saint Nicholas and transferred there the relics of the Monks Gregory and John. And nearby the church was founded a monastery.

The Monk Joseph received also part of the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew from a certain virtuous man. He built a church in the name of the holy apostle and wanted to solemnly honour his memory, but he was distressed that there was no laudatory canon of song glorifying the memory of the holy apostle, and he himself did not dare to compile it. For forty days the Monk Joseph prayed with tears, preparing for the feastday in memory of the holy apostle. On the eve of the feast the Apostle Bartholomew appeared to him in the altar, put the holy Gospel to his bosom and blessed him to write church canonical song with the words: "May the right hand of the All-Powerful God bless thee, that thy tongue pour forth waters of Heavenly Wisdom, that thy heart be a temple of the Holy Spirit, and thy church-song be sweet with rejoicing". After this miraculous appearance, the Monk Joseph compiled a canon to the Apostle Bartholomew, and from that time he began to compose canonical song in honour of the Mother of God, of the holy saints and in their midst -- in honour of Saint Nicholas, his liberator from prison.

During the period of the renewal of the iconoclast heresy under the emperor Theophilus (829-842), the Monk Joseph suffered a second time from the heretics. He was sent off into exile to Chersun (Chersonessus) for 11 years. The Orthodox veneration of holy icons was restored under the holy empress Theodora (Comm. 11 February) in 842, and the Monk Joseph was made keeper of vessels at the Sophia cathedral in Constantinople. But because of his bold denunciation of the brother of the empress, Bardas, for unlawful co-habitation, the monk was again sent off into exile and returned only after the death of Bardas in 867.

Patriarch Photios (857-867, 877-886) restored him to his former position and appointed him father-confessor for all the Constantinople clergy.

Having reached old age, the Monk Joseph fell ill. Just before Pascha, on Great Friday, the Lord informed him in a dream vision about his approaching demise. The monk made an inventory of church articles in the Sophia cathedral, such things as were under his official care, and he sent it off to Patriarch Photios. For several days he prayed intensely, preparing for death. In his prayers the monk besought peace for the Church, and for his soul -- the mercy of God. Having communed the Holy Mysteries of Christ, the Monk Joseph gave blessing to all that came to him, and with joy he reposed to God (+ 863). The choirs of the angels and the saints, whom the Monk Joseph had glorified by his canonical song, in triumph carried up his soul to the Heavenly realm.

About the spirit and power of the canon-song of the Monk Joseph, his biographer the Constantinople Church deacon John wrote thus in about the year 890: "When he began to write verses, then the hearing was taken with a wondrous pleasantness of sound, and the heart was struck by the power of the thought... Those that strive for the life of perfection find here a respite... Writers, having left off with their other versification, from this one treasure-trove -- from the writings of Saint Joseph -- began to scoop out his treasure for their own songs, or better said, daily they scoop them out. And finally, all the people carry it over into their own language, so as to enlighten with song the darkness of night, or staving off sleep, to continue with the vigil til sunrise... If anyone were peruse the life of a saint celebrated on whatever the day of the Church, they would see the worthiness of song of Saint Joseph and acknowledge his glorious life. Actually, since the life and deeds of almost every saint are adorned with praises, is not he worthy of immortal glory, that hath worthily and exquisitely known how to glorify them! And now let some other saints glorify his meekness, and others -- his wisdom, and others -- his works, and all together glorify the grace of the Holy Spirit, Which so abundantly and immeasurably hath bestown him his gifts".

The Monk George

The Monk George lived during the IX Century. He pursued asceticism at a monastery on Mount Malea in the Peloponessus, and here also he died. In the service to him, the Monk George is supplicated as an earthly Angel and wonderworker.

The Monk Joseph the Much-Sick

The Monk Joseph the Much-Sick lived during the XIV Century. In his grievous illness he turned to God with prayer and made a vow: if the Lord granted him health, he would then serve the brethren of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery until the end of his days. The prayer of the much-sick sufferer was heard. After his return to health, he entered the Kievo-Pechersk monastery, took monastic vows and began fervently to work at deeds of fasting and prayer, and with love to serve the brethren. After his death the Monk Joseph was buried in the Farther Caves (his memory is likewise celebrated together with the Sobor-Assemblage of the Monks of the Farther Caves on 28 August).


The Monk Jakov of Galich

The Monk Jakov of Galich asceticised during the XV-XVI Centuries at the Starotorzhsk monastery in the city of Galich in the Kostroma district, nearby the Stolbischa marker, or Staroe-town. They suggest, that the Starotorshzk monastery was founded by the Monk Jakov of Zhelesnoborovsk (Comm. 11 April). The Monk Jakov died a schema-monk and was buried beneathe the altar of the monastery church in honour of Saints Boris and Gleb. His image was written similar to that of the Monk Zosima of Solovetsk (Comm. 17 April).

The Monk Zosima of Vorbozomsk

The Monk Zosima of Vorbozomsk was the founder of a monastery in honour of the Annuniciation of the MostHoly Mother of God on an island in Lake Vorbozoma, situated 23 versts to the south of Belozersk. The monastery was founded way back in the XV Century, since it is known, that in the year 1501 the head of the monastery was Hegumen Jona, a disciple of the Monk Zosima. The monastery was among the number of those numerous wilderness-monasteries (small monasteries) which, being of the form of the so-called "Trans-Volga" monasteries, were dispersed around the Kirillo-Belozersk monastery. The Monk Zosima died in the first half of the XVI Century. It is known, that the monk wrote guidances and letters to his spiritual daughter Anastasia.

The Holy Martyress Pherbutha and her Sister and Servants

The Holy Martyress Pherbutha and her Sister and Servants accepted a martyr's death for Christ between the years 341 and 343. Saint Pherbutha and her sister, whose name is unknown, were sisters by birth of the Seleucia bishop Simeon, who suffered for Christ under the Persian emperor Sapor between the years 341-344. Both sisters and their servants had been brought to the court by the empress to attend her. Saint Pherbutha was distinguished by her extraordinary beauty, and the empress suggested to her to enter into marriage to gain high position. The saint refused, since she had given a vow of virginity in total service to God. Soon the empress fell ill. The sorcerers, which they brought in to treat the empress, saw Saint Pherbutha and were struck by her extraordinary beauty. One of them turned to her with a proposal, that she become his wife. The saint answered him, that she was a Christian and had given a vow to remain a bride of Christ.

The offended sorcerer reported to the emperor, that the reason for the sickness of the empress was poison, given her by servants. By order of the emperor Saint Pherbutha, and her sister and servants were brought to trial.

At the trial the holy martyresses fearlessly declared, that they were Christians and they would not do the wickedness of which they were accused, and that they were prepared to accept death for Christ.

The chief judge, the sorcerer Mauptis, was captivated by the beauty of the holy virgin Pherbutha, and he secretly sent to her his servant into the prison with an offer to free her and her companions, if only the maiden would consent to become his wife. The two other judges made similar offers to the holy virgin, secretly one after the other.

Saint Pherbutha resolutely refused all these offers, saying that she was a bride of Christ and could never consent to an earthly marriage.

After this, the martyresses were found guilty of being Christians and of working magic in the poisoning of the empress, and they were sentenced to death by execution. They tied each of them to two pillars and sawed them in half. The bodies of the holy martyresses were thrown into a ditch, from which Christians secretly retrieved them and gave them burial.

The Holy Martyr Kallinikos

The Holy Martyr Kallinikos was torn apart by wild beasts.

The Monk Zosima of Palestine

The Monk Zosima of Palestine: The account about him is in the Vita of the Nun Mary of Egypt (Comm. 1 April).

Sainted Theon

Sainted Theon asceticised during the XVI Century on Athos, at first in the monastery of the Pantokrator, and then in the Shersk (Hair) skete-monastery of Saint John, the Venerable ForeRunner and Baptist of the Lord. Here his guide was the Monk Jakov (James) of Iveria. After the martyr's death of his spiritual-guide, Saint Theon became head of the monastery of the holy GreatMartyress Anastasia on the outskirts of the village of Galatista. He was ordained bishop and was elevated at Soluneia (Thessalonika) to the metropolitan cathedra-seat. The final years of his life were spent in deeds of solitude near the monastery of the holy GreatMartyress Anastasia Alleviatrix-of-Captives (Comm. 22 December), wherein also his holy relics now rest, together with the head and right hand of the GreatMartyress Anastasia, and the heads of three monk-martyrs that suffered under the Turks -- James, another James, and Arsenios.

The PriestMartyr Nikita

The PriestMartyr Nikita, a Slav from Albania, asceticised at the end of the XVIII Century at Athos in the Russian Panteleimonov monastery, where he took monastic vows and was ordained to the dignity of priest-monk. He yearned for solitude and transferred to the skete-monastery of Saint Anna. The saint burned with a desire to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with the deed of being a confessor. In order to denounce the antagonists of Christianity, Saint Nikita went to the city of Serres. For a certain while he dwelt at the local monastery, where he readied himself for his pending deed. Then Saint Nikita fearlessly went up to the local head Mahometan and asked, that the Moslems demonstrate the correctness of their faith. In a disputation of words with the learned mullahs the saint unmasked their error and reduced them to silence. They began with threats to coerce him into an acceptance of Mahometanism, but the saint firmly confessed his faith in Christ. Then they gave him over to cruel tortures: they tightened his head with a screw-press, drove needles under his nails, and scorched him with fire while hung head downwards. The saint underwent everything with great endurance and did not cease to glorify Christ. Finally, Saint Nikita was sentenced to be strangled. The PriestMartyr Nikita died on 4 April 1808 on the evening of Great Saturday. Christians gave ransom for his body and gave it over to burial. The priest-monk of the Serres monastery Konstantios, and the local physician Nicholas, wrote on 19 February 1809 about the act of the Martyr Nikita -- to Russik (the Russian monastery of the GreatMartyr Panteleimon on Athos).

April 5

The Holy Martyrs Agathopodos the Deacon and Theodoulos the Reader

The Holy Martyrs Agathopodos the Deacon and Theodoulos the Reader lived in Thessalonika during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284-305) and were among the church clergy: the holy Deacon Agathopodos was very old, and Saint Theodoulos very young.

Both distinguished themselves by righteous life and piety. One tine Saint Theodoulos saw in his sleep a vision, in which an unknown person in radiant garb placed in his hand some object. When he awoke, he then saw in his hand a beautiful ring with the image of the Cross and he realised, that this was a sign of his future martyrdom. By the power of the Cross imaged on the ring the saint healed many of the sick and turned pagans to faith in Christ the Saviour.

When the emperor Diocletian issued an edict (303) of a persecution against Christians, many attempted to hide themselves from pursuit, but Saints Agathopodos and Theodoulos undauntedly continued to proclaim the Gospel preaching.

The Thessalonika governor Faustinus, having learned of this, gave orders to bring them to him for trial. Seeing the youth and excellence of Saint Theodoulos, Faustinus attempted by flattery to persuade him to renounce Christianity and return to the decreed offering of sacrifice. To this the Martyr Theodoulos answered, that he long since had renounced the error and that he pitied Faustinus, who by his offer of paganism was condemned himself to eternal death. The governor offered the martyr a choice: the fortune of life or immediate death. The saint answered, that certainly he would choose life, but as life eternal, and that temporal death he feared not.

When Faustinus lost hope to persuade the Martyr Theodoulos, he began to talk with Saint Agathopodos. The governor attempted to deceive him and said, that Saint Theodoulos had already agreed to offer sacrifice to the gods. But the Martyr Agathopodos did not believe this. He was convinced, that Saint Theodoulos was prepared to offer his life for his True God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Not having any success, Faustinus commanded to remove the martyrs to prison. The holy martyrs prayed fervently and boldly preached the Word of God to the imprisoned, such that many were converted to Christianity. The head of the prison Eutinios reported about this to the governor.

Faustinus again summoned them to trial and again he urged them to renounce Christ. Before the eyes of Saint Theodoulos they brought forth to offer sacrifice those, who earlier were Christians, but betrayed the faith. "Ye have conquered the weak, but strong warriors of Christ ye in no way wilt see to conquer, even if ye do invent yet greater torments!" -- exclaimed Saint Theodoulos. The governor commanded the martyr to produce the Christian books. "Here, my body is given for torture, -- answered the martyr, -- do with it what thou wish; torture me in a very fierce manner, but nonetheless I shalt not hand over the Holy Books for mockery by the impious!"

Faustinus gave orders to bring Saint Theodoulos to the place of execution, where an executioner readied a sword in order to cut off his head. The martyr bravely and with joy cried out: "Glory to Thee, O God, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, Who deigned to suffer for us. Here by His grace I go unto Thee, and with joy I do die for Thee!" Then Faustinus halted the execution and again locked up the martyrs in prison. There the holy martyrs prayed fervently and both saw the same dream. They were sailing in a ship, which during the time of storm was suffering shipwreck. The waves cast them up upon shore, arrayed in white radiant raiment. The saints told each other about the vision, and they gave thanks to God for their impending martyr's end.

In the morning, when the martyrs were again brought to Faustinus, they declared to him: "We -- are Christians and for the Name of Christ we are prepared to undergo whatever the suffering". Faustinus gave orders to cast them into the sea. The waves carried Saint Agathodoros to the rocks, and he loudly exclaimed: "This shalt be for us a second Baptism, which will wash away our sins, and we shalt come unto Christ with purity". After him Saint Theodoulos was also cast into the sea (+ 303).

The sea cast on shore the bodies of the saints in radiant garb, without the ropes and weight-stones. Christians took their holy bodies and gave them reverent burial.

The Martyr Fermus

The Martyr Fermus died from fire, and his sister with her servant -- from the sword.

The Monk Puplios

The Monk Puplios pursued asceticism in the Egyptian wilderness during the reign of the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Before the military campaign against the Persians, the emperor sent a devil to explore the way for the army to go. The Monk Puplios foresaw in spirit the intent of the emperor. He stood at prayer with up-raised hands, praying thus day and night, and blocked the path of the devil. For ten days the evil spirit waited until the monk concluded his prayer. Unable to proceed, he returned to the emperor and reported about his thwarting. In a rage against the Monk Puplios, Julian the Apostate gave an oath to avenge himself on the saint upon his return from the campaign. But he did not fulfill his oath, since he soon perished.

After the death of Julian, one of his military commanders distributed his effects and took monastic vows at the hand of the Monk Puplios.

The Monk Mark

The Monk Mark was born in Athens. He related about his life to Abba Serapion, who by the will of God visited him before his death.

In his youth he had studied philosophy. After the death of his parents, Saint Mark withdrew into Egypt and settled into a cave of the Thracian Mount (in Ethiopia). The monk spent ninety-five years in seclusion and during this while not only did he not see an human face, but not even a beast or bird. The first thirty years were for the Monk Mark the most difficult time. Barefoot and bedraggled, he suffered in winter from the cold, and in summer from the heat. The sparse wilderness plants served him for food, and sometimes he was reduced to eat the dust and drink bitter sea-water. Unclean spirits chased after the Monk Mark, promising to drown him in the sea, or if they caught hold of him to drag him off down from the mountain, with shouts of: "Depart from our land! From the beginning of the world no one amongst mankind hath come hither -- why hast thou dared to come?"

After thirty years of tribulation, Divine grace came upon the ascetic. Angels brought him food, and on his body there grew long hair, which protected him from the cold and heat. "I beheld, -- said he to the Monk Serapion, -- the likeness of the Divine paradise and in it the prophets of God Elias and Enoch, and everything that I sought, -- the Lord set forth to me". During the time of his conversation with Abba Serapion the Monk Mark enquired, how things stood in the world with the law of Christ, and whether persecutions against Christians still continued. Hearing, that idol-worship had long since ceased, the saint rejoiced and asked: "Are there now amidst the world saints working miracles, as the Lord did speak of in His Gospel: `If ye have faith even as a grain of mustard seed, ye will say to this mountain: move hither from there, and it wilt move, -- and nothing shalt be impossible for you' (Mt. 17: 20)". At this moment, as the saint pronounced these words, the mountain moved from its place 5,000 cubits (approximately 2.5 kilometers) and was shifted nigh towards the sea. The Monk Mark saw that the mountain had moved, and he turned to it: "I did not order thee to move from thine place, but did converse with a brother; wherefore go thou to thine own place!" After this the mountain actually returned to its own place. Abba Serapion fell down in fright. The Monk Mark took him up by the hand and asked: "Hast thou not then seen suchlike miracles in thy lifetime?" -- "No, father" -- answered Starets Serapion. Then the Monk Mark wept bitterly and said: "Woe unto the earth, since upon it live Christians in name only, and not in deeds".

After this the Monk Mark invited Abba Serapion to a meal. An Angel brought the food. Abba Serapion said, that never had he eaten such tasty food nor drank such sweet water. "Brother Serapion, -- answered the Monk Mark, -- didst thou see, what beneficence God doth send His servants! In all mine days there was sent from God only one breadloaf and one fish, and now on account of thee He hath doubled the meal -- and sent us two loaves and two fishes. By suchlike meal the Lord God hath nourished me during all the course of time after my first sufferings from evil".

Before his end, the Monk Mark raised up prayers for the salvation of Christians, the earth and everything in the world living upon it in the love of Christ. He gave final instruction s to Abba Serapion to bury him in the cave and cover over the entrance to it. Abba Serapion was a witness of how the soul of the one hundred thirty year old elder -- the Monk Mark, was conveyed to Heaven (+ 400).

After the burial of the saint, two Angels in the form of hermits guided Abba Serapion into the inner wilderness to the great Starets John. Abba Serapion recounted to the monks of this monastery about the life and end of the Monk Mark.

The Monk Platon (Plato)

The Monk Platon (Plato) was born in the year 735 into a pious Christian family of the parents, Sergios and Euphemia. Orphaned early on, the boy was taken for raising by relatives, who gave him a fine education. When he grew up he began life on his own. The saint occupied himself in the first years in the management of his property, which his parents had left him upon their death. He was very temperate and hard-working and acquired by his toil great wealth. But in his heart the monk-to-be blazed with love for Christ. He gave away all his property, set his servants free and withdrew into a monastery named "Ensymboleion" near Mount Olympos.

His prayerful zeal, love of work and geniality won him the love of the brethren. In his free moments from prayer the monk copied Divine-service books, and compiled anthologies from the works of the holy fathers. When the head of the monastery Theoktistos died in 770, the brethren chose the Monk Platon as hegumen, despite that he was a mere 35 years of age. after the death of the emperor Constantine Kopronymos (775), the Monk Platon set out to Constantinople. He resigned from the administration of the Nicomedia metropolitan and in 782 together with his nephews -- Saints Theodore (+ 826, Comm. 11 November) and Joseph (+ 830, Comm. 26 January), he withdrew to the desolate place of Sokudion. They built on the mount a church in honour of the holy Apostle John the Theologian, and founded a monastery, the head of which became the Monk Platon. When Saint Tarasios together with the empress Irene convened in Nicea in 787 the Seventh OEcumenical Council, the Monk Platon took an active part in its work. Being learned and erudite in Holy Scripture, he successfully unmasked the error in the Iconoclast heresy and defended the veneration of holy icons. When the Monk Platon approached old age, he transferred guidance of the monastery to the Monk Theodore.

In 795 the emperor Constantine VI (78-797) by force compelled his spouse to accept monasticism and decided to marry with one of his kinswomen, Theodotia.

Even though the holy Patriarch Tarasios condemned this marriage, one of the conspicuous Constantinople priests, Joseph, violated the prohibition of the Patriarch and celebrated the marriage of the emperor.

Having learned of this, the Monks Platon and Theodore excommunicated the emperor from the Church and dispatched a letter about this to all the monks. The enraged emperor gave orders to lock up Saint Platon in prison and to banish the Monk Theodore to Soluneia. Only after the death of the emperor in 797 did they receive their freedom. The Monk Theodore settled in Constantinople and became hegumen of the Studite monastery. The Monk Platon lived as a simple monk at this monastery under the obedience of his nephew.

When the new emperor Nicephoros (802-811) on his own returned to the Church the excommunicated priest Joseph, the Monks Platon and Theodore again came forward with a denunciation of the unlawful activities of the emperor. For this the brave confessors were again in 807 subjected to punishment. They were imprisoned for four years. The Monk Platon was freed from imprisonment in 811 after the death of the emperor and he returned to the Studite monastery.

He survived three years more at work and prayer, and expired to the Lord on Lazarus Saturday at age 79, on 8 April 814. For his fearless speaking out in defense of holy icons, the Monk Platon received the title of "confessor".

The Nun Theodora of Soluneia

The Nun Theodora of Soluneia was born of Christian parents, Anthony and Chrysantha, living on the island of Aegina. At mature age Saint Theodora entered into marriage, and soon gave birth to a daughter. During an invasion of the Saracens (823) the young spouses moved away to the city of Soluneia (Thessalonika). Here Saint Theodora dedicated her daughter to the service of God in a monastery, and after the death of her husband she also accepted monasticism at this monastery.

By works of obedience, fasting and prayer she so pleased God, that she received the gift of wonderworking and worked miracles not only during her lifetime, but also upon her death (+ 892). When the hegumeness of the monastery died, they wanted to put her grave alongside the grave of the Nun Theodora. Then the nun, as though alive, pushed herself beneathe the grave and vacated the spot for her superiour, showing even after death an example in humility. From her relics flowed myrh. When the Turks seized Soluneia in 1430, they hacked apart the holy remains of the Nun Theodora.

Five Holy Virgin Martyrs

Five Holy Virgin Martyrs are remembered on this day, having died from the sword on the island of Lesbos. There is also remembrance of the Terrible Shaking (Earthquake) at Antioch in the year 526.

April 6

Sainted Eutykhios, Archbishop of Constantinople

Sainted Eutykhios, Archbishop of Constantinople, was born in a village bearing the name "Divine" in the province of Phrygia. His father, Alexander, was a soldier, and his mother Synesia -- was the daughter of the Augustopolis priest Isichias. Saint Eutykhios received the first rudiments of his education and a Christian upbringing from his grandfather the priest. Once during the time of a childhood game the boy wrote his own name with the title of Patriarch and by this seemed to predict his future service. He was sent off to Constantinople at age 12 for continuing further education. The youth persevered in his study of science and realised, that human wisdom -- is nothing in comparison to the study of Divine Revelation. He decided to dedicate himself to monastic life. Saint Eutykhios withdrew into one of the Amasian monasteries and in it accepted the Angelic order. For his strict life he was made archimandrite of all the Amasian monasteries, and in 552 was appointed to the Patriarchal throne.

When the V OEcumenical Council prepared to assemble during the reign of the holy nobleborn emperor Justinian (527-565), the metropolitan of Amasia was ill and he sent in his place Saint Eutykhios. At Constantinople the aged Patriarch Saint Minas (536-552; Comm. 25 August) beheld Blessed Eutykhios and predicted that he would be the next Patriarch. After the death of the holy Patriarch Minas, the Apostle Peter appeared in a vision to the emperor Justinian and, pointing his hand at Eutykhios, said: "Let he be made your bishop".

At the very beginning of his patriarchal service, Saint Eutykhios convened the V Ecumenical Council (553), at which the fathers condemned the heresies cropping up and pronounced them anathema. However, after several years there arose a new heresy in the Church, Aphthartodocetism (asartodoketai) or "imperishability" -- which taught that the flesh of Christ, before His death on the Cross and resurrection, was imperishable and not capable of suffering.

Saint Eutykhios vigourously denounced this heresy, but the emperor Justinian himself inclined towards it, and turned his wrath upon the saint. By order of the emperor, soldiers seized hold of the saint within the temple, tore off from him his patriarchal vestments, and sent him off into exile to an Amasian monastery (565).

The saint bore his banishment with meekness, and dwelt at the monastery in fasting and prayer, and he worked many miracles and healings.

Thus, through his prayer the wife of a pious man, Androgenes, who before having borne to light only dead infants, now gave birth to two sons who lived to reach years of maturity. Two deaf-mutes received the gift of speech; and two little children, grievously ill, he restored to health. The saint healed a cancerous ulcer on the hand of an artist. The saint healed also another artist, anointing his diseased hand with oil and making over it the sign of the cross. The saint healed not only bodily, but also spiritual afflictions: he banished the devil out of a girl that had kept her from Holy Communion; he banished the devil out of a youth who had fled off from a monastery (after which the youth returned to his monastery); he healed a drunken leper, who -- cleansed of his leprosy, stopped drinking.

During the time of an invasion by the Persians into Amasia and its widespread devastation for the inhabitants -- by order of the saint, they distributed grain to the hungry from the monastic granaries -- and the stores of grain at the monastery, through his prayers, were not depleted.

Sainted Eutykhios received of God a gift of prophecy: thus, he indicated the names of two successors to emperor Justinian -- Justin (565-578) and Tiberias (578-582).

After the death of the holy Patriarch John Scholastikos, Saint Eutykhios returned to the cathedra in 577 after his 12 year exile, and he again wisely ruled his flock.

Four and an half years after his return to the Patriarchal throne, Saint Eutykhios on Thomas Sunday 582 gathered together all his clergy, gave them a blessing and in peace expired to the Lord.

Sainted Methodios, ArchBishop of Moravia

Sainted Methodios, ArchBishop of Moravia, died on 6 April in the year 885. The account about him is located under 11 May, on the day of his mutual commemoration with Equal-to-the-Apostles Cyril (Kirill), Teacher of the Slavic peoples.

The Nun Platonida

The Nun Platonida was at first a deaconess, but afterwards withdrew into the Niziba wilderness, where she organised a women's monastery.

The ustav / rule of her monastery was distinguished for its strictness. The sisters partook of food only once a day. During their free-time from prayer they spent the time in monastic works and various obediences, usually of manual labour. On Fridays, the day commemorating the sufferings of Christ the Saviour on the Cross, all work stopped, and the monastics from morning until evening were in temple, where in the intervals between services they did readings from Holy Scripture and its interpretation.

The Nun Platonida was for all the sisters a living example of strict monastic ascetic deed, meekness, and love for neighbour. Having reached extreme old age, the Nun Platonida died peacefully in the year 308.

The Holy Martyrs Jeremiah and the Priest Archilius (Alchimius)

The Holy Martyrs Jeremiah and the Priest Archilius (Alchimius) accepted martyr's death in the III Century. Sainted Gregory Dialogos (+ 604; Comm. 12 March) has an account about them.

The Holy 120 Martyrs

The Holy 120 Martyrs suffered under the Persian emperor Sapor. They were taken into captivity during the reign of the Greek emperor Constantios (337-361). They were consigned to the flames after firmly confessing their faith (c. 344-347). Righteous Shandulios (Comm. 3 November) concealed their remains from outrage by the pagans. Among the number of the holy martyrs were ten virgins, who had dedicated themselves to the service of God.

The Holy Martyr Paul

The Holy Martyr Paul was a Russian and accepted death under the Turks in 1683.

In his youthful years he was taken into captivity by Tatars in the Crimea, and then was taken to Constantinople. After harsh labour the saint received his freedom and married a Russian woman, also situated in captivity. From his harsh slave labour the saint fell ill with epilepsy. His wife and neighbours -- Christians, decided to take him to the church of the MostHoly Mother of God of Mugluneia, where certain of the sick had received healing. Saint Paul in an attack of his illness resisted and shouted: "I am an hagarite, and shall remain an hagarite". The Turks, angered that Christians had forcefully taken into a church a man accepting Islam, rushed off to report this to the vizier. The vizier summoned Saint Paul, who came to him al ready healed. Upon interrogation the saint confessed himself a Christian and, encouraged by his spouse, did not yield to the threats of the Muslims. On Great Friday 1683 Saint Paul was beheaded for his belief in Christ.

His wife also was subjected to torture, but after a ransom bribe she was released from prison.

The Monk Gregory

The Monk Gregory was a native of Byzantium, and pursued an ascetic life on Athos in the Laura of the Monk Athanasios (Comm. 5 July). He was the spiritual guide of Sainted Gregory Palamas (+ c. 1360; Comm. 14 November).

April 7

St Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Apostle to America

St Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Apostle to America was born as Vasily Ivanovich Belavin on January 19, 1865 into the family of Ioann Belavin, a rural priest of the Toropetz district of the Pskov diocese. His childhood and adolescence were spent in the village in direct contact with peasants and their labor. From his early years he displayed a particular religious disposition, love for the Church as well as rare meekness and humility.

When Vasily was still a boy, his father had a revelation about each of his children. One night, when he and his three sons slept in the hayloft, he suddenly woke up and roused them. He had seen his dead mother in a dream, who foretold to him his imminent death, and the fate of his three sons. She said that one would be unfortunate throughout his entire life, another would die young, while the third, Vasily, would be a great man. The prophecy of the dead woman proved to be entirely accurate in regard to all three brothers.

From 1878 to 1883, Vasily studied at the Pskov Theological Seminary. The modest seminarian was tender and affectionate by nature. He was fair-haired and tall of stature. His fellow students liked and respected him for his piety, brilliant progress in studies, and constant readiness to help comrades, who often turned to him for explanations of lessons, especially for help in drawing up and correcting numerous compositions. Vasily was called "bishop" and "patriarch" by his classmates.

In 1888, at the age of 23, Vasily Belavin graduated from the St Petersburg Theological Academy as a layman, and returned to the Pskov Seminary as an instructor of Moral and Dogmatic Theology. The whole seminary and the town of Pskov became very fond of him. He led an austere and chaste life, and in 1891, when he turned 26, he took monastic vows. Nearly the whole town gathered for the ceremony. He embarked on this new way of life consciously and deliberately, desiring to dedicate himself entirely to the service of the Church. The meek and humble young man was given the name Tikhon in honor of St Tikhon of Zadonsk.

He was transferred from the Pskov Seminary to the Kholm Theological Seminary in 1892, and was raised to the rank of archimandrite. Archimandrite Tikhon was consecrated Bishop of Lublin on October 19, 1897, and returned to Kholm for a year as Vicar Bishop of the Kholm Diocese. Bishop Tikhon zealously devoted his energy to the establishment of the new vicariate. His attractive moral make-up won the general affection, of not only the Russian population, but also of the Lithuanians and Poles. On September 14, 1898, Bishop Tikhon was made Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska. As head of the Orthodox Church in America, Bishop Tikhon was a zealous laborer in the Lord's vineyard.

He did much to promote the spread of Orthodoxy, and to improve his vast diocese. He reorganized the diocesan structure, and changed its name from "Diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska" to "Diocese of the Aleutians and North America" in 1900. Both clergy and laity loved their archpastor, and held him in such esteem that the Americans made Archbishop Tikhon an honorary citizen of the United States.

On May 22, 1901, he blessed the cornerstone for St Nicholas Cathedral in New York, and was also involved in establishing other churches. On November 9, 1902, he consecrated the church of St Nicholas in Brooklyn for the Syrian Orthodox immigrants. Two weeks later, he consecrated St Nicholas Cathedral in NY.

In 1905, the American Mission was made an Archdiocese, and St Tikhon was elevated to the rank of Archbishop. He had two vicar bishops: Bishop Innocent (Pustynsky) in Alaska, and St Raphael (Hawaweeny) in Brooklyn to assist him in administering his large, ethnically diverse diocese. In June of 1905, St Tikhon gave his blessing for the establishment of St Tikhon's Monastery.

In 1907, he returned to Russia, and was appointed to Yaroslavl, where he quickly won the affection of his flock. They came to love him as a friendly, communicative, and wise archpastor. He spoke simply to his subordinates, never resorting to a peremptory or overbearing tone. When he had to reprimand someone, he did so in a good-natured, sometimes joking manner, which encouraged the person to correct his mistakes.

When St Tikhon was transferred to Lithuania on December 22, 1913, the people of Yaroslavl voted him an honorary citizen of their town. After his transfer to Vilna, he did much in terms of material support for various charitable institutions. There too, his generous soul and love of people clearly manifested themselves. World War I broke out when His Eminence was in Vilna. He spared no effort to help the poor residents of the Vilna region who were left without a roof over their heads or means of subsistence as a result of the war with the Germans, and who flocked to their archpastor in droves.

After the February Revolution and formation of a new Synod, St Tikhon became one of its members. On June 21, 1917, the Moscow Diocesan Congress of clergy and laity elected him as their ruling bishop. He was a zealous and educated archpastor, widely known even outside his country.

On August 15, 1917, a local council was opened in Moscow, and Archbishop Tikhon was raised to the dignity of Metropolitan, and then elected as chairman of the council. The council had as its aim to restore the life of Russian Orthodox Church on strictly canonical principles, and its primary concern was the restoration of the Patriarchate. All council members would select three candidates, and then a lot would reveal the will of God. The council members chose three candidates: Archbishop Anthony of Kharkov, the wisest, Archbishop Arseny of Novgorod, the strictest, and Metropolitan Tikhon of Moscow, the kindest of the Russian hierarchs.

On November 5, following the Divine Liturgy and a Molieben in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a monk removed one of the three ballots from the ballot box, which stood before the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev announced Metropolitan Tikhon as the newly elected Patriarch. St Tikhon did not change after becoming the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church. In accepting the will of the council, Patriarch Tikhon referred to the scroll that the Prophet Ezekiel had to eat, on which was written, "Lamentations, mourning, and woe." He foresaw that his ministry would be filled with affliction and tears, but through all his suffering, he remained the same accessible, unassuming, and kindly person.

All who met St Tikhon were surprised by his accessibility, simplicity and modesty. His gentle disposition did not prevent him from showing firmness in Church matters, however, particularly when he had to defend the Church from her enemies. He bore a very heavy cross. He had to administer and direct the Church amidst wholesale church disorganization, without auxiliary administrative bodies, in conditions of internal schisms and upheavals by various adherents of the Living Church, renovationists, and autocephalists.

The situation was complicated by external circumstances: the change of the political system, by the accession to power of the godless regime, by hunger, and civil war. This was a time when Church property was being confiscated, when clergy were subjected to court trials and persecutions, and Christ's Church endured repression. News of this came to the Patriarch from all ends of Russia. His exceptionally high moral and religious authority helped him to unite the scattered and enfeebled flock. At a crucial time for the church, his unblemished name was a bright beacon pointing the way to the truth of Orthodoxy. In his messages, he called on people to fulfill the commandments of Christ, and to attain spiritual rebirth through repentance. His irreproachable life was an example to all.

In order to save thousands of lives and to improve the general position of the church, the Patriarch took measures to prevent clergy from making purely political statements. On September 25, 1919, when the civil war was at its height, he issued a message to the clergy urging them to stay away from political struggle.

The summer of 1921 brought a severe famine to the Volga region. In August, Patriarch Tikhon issued a message to the Russian people and to the people of the world, calling them to help famine victims. He gave his blessing for voluntary donations of church valuables, which were not directly used in liturgical services. However, on February 23, 1922, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee published a decree making all valuables subject to confiscation.

According to the 73rd Apostolic Canon, such actions were regarded as sacrilege, and the Patriarch could not approve such total confiscation, especially since many doubted that the valuables would be used to combat famine. This forcible confiscation aroused popular indignation everywhere. Nearly two thousand trials were staged all over Russia, and more than ten thousand believers were shot. The Patriarch's message was viewed as sabotage, for which he was imprisoned from April 1922 until June 1923.

His Holiness, Patriarch Tikhon did much on behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church during the crucial time of the so-called Renovationist schism. He showed himself to be a faithful servant and custodian of the undistorted precepts of the true Orthodox Church. He was the living embodiment of Orthodoxy, which was unconsciously recognized even by enemies of the church, who called its members "Tikhonites."

When Renovationist priests and hierarchs repented and returned to the church, they were met with tenderness and love by St Tikhon. This, however, did not represent any deviation from his strictly Orthodox policy. "I ask you to believe me that I will not come to agreement or make concessions which could lead to the loss of the purity and strength of Orthodoxy," the Patriarch said in 1924.

Being a good pastor, who devoted himself entirely to the church's cause, he called upon the clergy to do the same: "Devote all your energy to preaching the word of God and the truth of Christ, especially today, when unbelief and atheism are audaciously attacking the Church of Christ. May the God of peace and love be with all of you!"

It was extremely painful and hard for the Patriarch's loving, responsive heart to endure all the Church's misfortunes. Upheavals in and outside the church, the Renovationist schism, his primatial labors, his concern for the organization and tranquility of Church life, sleepless nights and heavy thoughts, his confinement that lasted more than a year, the spiteful and wicked baiting of his enemies, and the unrelenting criticism sometimes even from the Orthodox, combined to undermine his strength and health.

In 1924, Patriarch Tikhon began to feel unwell. He checked into a hospital, but would leave it on Sundays and Feast Days in order to conduct services. On Sunday, April 5, 1925, he served his last Liturgy, and died two days later. On March 25/April 7, 1925 the Patriarch received Metropolitan Peter and had a long talk with him. In the evening, the Patriarch slept a little, then he woke up and asked what time it was. When he was told it was 11:45 P.M., he made the Sign of the Cross twice and said, "Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee." He did not have time to cross himself a third time.

Almost a million people came to say farewell to the Patriarch. The large cathedral of the Donskoy Monastery in Moscow could not contain the crowd, which overflowed the monastery property into the square and adjacent streets. St Tikhon, the eleventh Patriarch of Moscow, was primate of the Russian Church for seven and a half years.

On September 26/October 9, 1989, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church glorified Patriarch Tikhon and numbered him among the saints. For nearly seventy years, St Tikhon's relics were believed lost, but in February 1992, they were discovered in a concealed place in the Donskoy Monastery.

It would be difficult to imagine the Russian Orthodox Church without Patriarch Tikhon during those years. He did so much for the Church and for the strengthening of the Faith itself during those difficult years of trial. Perhaps the saint's own words can best sum up his life: "May God teach every one of us to strive for His truth, and for the good of the Holy Church, rather than something for our own sake."

The Monk George, Metropolitan of Mytilene

The Monk George, Metropolitan of Mytilene, from his youth led a monastic manner of life, having become especially accomplished in the virtue of wise-humility. In the reign of Leo the Isaurian (716-741) the saint underwent persecution from the iconoclasts and received the appellation Confessor.

During the years of the reign of the emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitos (780-797) Saint George was elevated onto the archbishopal cathedra of the city of Mytilene, situated on the island of Lesbos. The life of the saint was radiant with prudence and purity and resembled Angelic life. He possessed a gift of wonderworking, cast out unclean spirits and healed incurable diseases. The saint distinguished himself by compassion, and generously he helped all the needy. Towards the end of his life -- in the year 815, during the reign of the iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820), the holy archpastor was banished and sent to Chersonesus, where he died after the year 820. In the hour of his death over the city of Mytilene there shone a bright star in the heavens.

The Monk Daniel of Pereslavl'

The Monk Daniel of Pereslavl', in the world Dimitrii, was born about 1460 in the city of Pereslavl'-Zalessk from parents the pious Konstantin and Feodosia (in monasticism Thekla).

From his childhood, Daniel had a love for the pious life and Christian deeds. He took vows in the monastery of the Monk Paphnutii of Borovsk; in spiritual life he matured under the guidance of the Saint Leukii of Volokolamsk (Comm. 17 August). Afterwards in his native land he dedicated himself to the deed of love for neighbour: he buried the neglected, the poor, and those without family. The monk founded on the spot of the cemetery a monastery.

He died 7 April 1540 (his memory is also 30 December and 28 July).

The Holy Martyr Calliopios

The Holy Martyr Calliopios was born in Pamphylian Pergamum from the pious woman Theoklia, wife of a reknown senator. Theoklia was for a long time childless. She fervently prayed for the bestowing of a son, vowing to dedicate him to God.

Soon after the birth of her son Theoklia was widowed. She raised her son in the Christian faith. When Saint Calliopios reached adolescent age, a fierce persecution against Christians began. Theoklia, learning that a denunciation would be made against her son, dispatched him to Cilicia. When the saint arrived at Cilician Pompeiopolis, there issued forth from the city a celebration in honour of the pagan gods. They invited the youth to take part in the proceedings. He answered a refusal and explained himself to be a Christian. They reported this to the governor of the city Maximus. He summoned Saint Calliopios to him for trial and at first he attempted to persuade him to worship the gods, promising to match him up with his own daughter. After the decisive refusal of the youth, Maximus subjected him to terrible tortures. He gave orders to beat the martyr on the back with tin rods and on the stomach with ox-hide thongs. Finally, the governor gave orders to bind him to an iron wheel and to heat him over a slow fire. After the tortures, they threw the martyr Calliopios, still alive, into prison.

When Theoklia heard about the sufferings of her son, she wrote out a last-will, set free her slaves, distributed her riches to the poor, and hastened off to Saint Calliopios. The brave mother gave money to the guard and got into the prison to her son. There she encouraged him to endure suffering to the end for Christ.

When on the following day the saint at trial refused to renounce Christ, Maximus gave orders to crucify the martyr on a cross. The day of execution co-incided with Great Thursday, when is remembered the Last Supper of the Saviour with the disciples.

Theoklia recognised this and she besought the guard to crucify her son head downwards, since she considered it unworthy for him to be crucified like the Lord. Her wish was granted. The holy martyr hung on the cross until Great Friday and died in the year 304, on the day of remembrance of the death on the Cross of the Saviour.

Upon taking down the martyr from the cross Theoklia gave glory to the Saviour, embraced the lifeless body of her son and gave up her own spirit to God. Christians buried their bodies in a single grave.

The Holy Martyr Rufinus the Deacon

The Holy Martyr Rufinus the Deacon, the Martyress Acelina and with them 200 Soldiers suffered in about the year 310 in the city of Sinope on the Black Sea during the reign of the emperor Maximian (305-311). When the holy deacon Rufinus was put into prison for confessing the Christian faith, the martyress Acelina showed concern. For this she was also placed under guard. In prison they converted to Christ by their miracles 200 soldiers, and all of them together were beheaded by the sword.

April 8

Saints Herodion (Rodion), Agabus (Ahab), Asinkritos, Rufus, Phlegontos and Hermas

Saints Herodion (Rodion), Agabus (Ahab), Asinkritos, Rufus, Phlegontos and Hermas are among the Seventy Disciples, chosen by Christ and sent by Him to preach (Sobor-Assemblage of Seventy Disciples -- Comm. 4 January).

The holy Disciple Herodion was a kinsman of the Apostle Paul and his companion on many journeys. When Christianity had spread to the Balkan Peninsula, the Apostles Peter and Paul established the Disciple Herodion as Bishop of Patara. The Disciple Herodion zealously preached the Word of God and converted many of the Greek pagans and Jews to Christianity.

Enraged by the preaching of the disciple, the idol-worshippers and Jews with one accord fell upon Saint Herodion, and they began to beat him with sticks and pelt him with stones. One of the mob struck him with a knife, and the saint fell down. But when the murderers were gone, the Lord restored him to health unharmed.

After this, Saint Herodion continued to accompany the Apostle Paul some years further. When the holy Apostle Peter was crucified (+ c. 67), the Disciple Herodion at the same time also and with Saint Olympos was beheaded by the sword.

The holy Disciple Agabus was endowed with the gift of prophecy. He predicted (Acts 11: 27-28) the famine during the time of the emperor Claudius (41-52), and foretold the suffering of the Apostle Paul at Jerusalem (Acts 21: 11). The Disciple Agabus preached in many lands and converted many pagans to Christ.

The Disciple Rufus (Ruphus), to whom the holy Apostle Paul gives greeting in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 16: 11-15), was bishop of the Greek city of Thebes. The Disciple Asincritos (Rom. 16: 14) -- was bishop in Hyrcania (Asia Minor). The Disciple Phlegontos -- bishop in the city of Marathon (Thrace). The Disciple Hermas -- bishop in Dalmatia (there is yet another Disciple from the Seventy by the name of Hermas, who occupied a cathedra-seat in the Thracian city of Philippopolis).

All these disciples for their intrepid service to Christ underwent fierce sufferings and were found worthy of a martyr's crown.

Sainted Celestine (Celestinus), Pope of Rome

Sainted Celestine (Celestinus), Pope of Rome (422-432), a zealous champion of Orthodoxy, lived during the reign of the holy Emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450). He received quite excellent an education, and he knew philosophy well, but most of all he studied the Holy Scripture and pondered over theological questions. The virtuous life of the saint and his authority as a theologian won him the general esteem and love of the clergy and people. After the death of holy Pope Saint Boniface (418-422), Saint Celestine was chosen to the cathedra-chair of Bishop of Rome.

During these times emerged the heresy of Nestorius. At the Local Council in Rome in the year 430, Saint Celestine denounced this heresy and condemned Nestorius as an heretic. After the Council Saint Celestine wrote a missive to Saint Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria (Comm. 18 January), stating that if Nestorius after 10 days did not recant his false teachings, then he should be deposed and excommunicated.

Saint Celestine directed also a series of missives to other Churches, Constantinople and Antioch, in which he unmasked and denounced the Nestorian heresy.

The following two years after the Council, Saint Celestine preached incessantly the true teaching about Christ the God-Man, and thus he died at peace on 6 April 432.

The Monk Ruphii, Hermit of Pechersk

The Monk Ruphii, Hermit of Pechersk, asceticised at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery during the XIV Century. He was distinguished for his obedience and glorified as a lover of toil and fasting. He was buried in the Farther Caves. He is celebrated a second time on 28 August, together amidst the Sobor-Assemblage of the Monks of the Farther Caves.

The Holy Martyr Pausilipos

The Holy Martyr Pausilipos suffered under the emperor Adrian (117-138). Through denunciation by pagans he was led to trial before the emperor and staunchly declared himself a Christian. They beat him with iron rods and handed over to the governor named Precius, who for a long time attempted to make the martyr offer sacrifice to idols. The martyr remained steadfast, and finally the governor gave orders to fetter him and take him off to execution. Along the way Saint Pausilipos prayed fervently, that the Lord would spare him from the hand of the executioner and send him a quick death. The Lord hearkened to him: the martyr, beaten up and weak, had such a sensation of power, that the iron fetters shattered and freed him from their hold. These were thrown behind him, but Saint Pausilipos died in flight. Christians buried the body of the martyr with reverence.

The Holy Martyr John the Shipmaster (Naukleros)

The Holy Martyr John the Shipmaster (Naukleros) suffered a psychological sickness. One time, when he was found in an unconscious state, the Turks made over him the rite of conversion to their religion. Coming to his senses, the saint angrily threw from his head the symbol of Islam -- the turban. He bitterly bewailed the indignity that had occurred and continued to live as a Christian. The Turks then threw the martyr into prison. Neither lecturings, nor beatings, nor threats could bend the will of the saint, and he repeatedly replied: "I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and I refuse your faith". After many torments they burnt the martyr in the city of Koe on 8 April 1669.

April 9

The Holy Martyr Eupsychios

The Holy Martyr Eupsychios was born in the city of Caesarea Cappadocia and received a Christian upbringing by his illustrious parents.

During the time of the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363), Saint Eupsychios entered into Christian wedlock.

At Caesarea there was then a pagan temple to the goddess Fortuna [i.e. "fortune" or "luck"], very revered by Julian the Apostate. At the same time as Eupsychios was going in to the wedding ceremony, the pagans were making offering of sacrifice to the goddess Fortuna.

Saint Eupsychios was ardent with zeal for the Lord, and he gathered the people and destroyed the temple. He knew, that this would inevitably result in punishment for him. Saint Eupsychios distributed all his substance to the poor and prepared himself for the act of martyrdom.

The enraged emperor Julian hurled his wrath not only upon Saint Eupsychios, but against all the inhabitants of this city. Some of the citizens he executed, the more respectable he sent into exile, Christian clergy were conscripted into military service, and from the churches he looted anything of value. The city was deprived of its title Caesarea (i.e. "Imperial") and turned into a simple village with its original name of Maza, and on the inhabitants he imposed a grievous tribute-tax. The emperor threatened to annihilate the city altogether, if the people did not build a new pagan temple in place of the one destroyed.

Julian ordered Saint Eupsychios to be compelled by tortures to offer sacrifice to idols. Over the course of many days they tormented the saint upon a rack, and likewise with iron claws. But his faith was firm, and the judge gave sentence to behead the martyr with the sword (+ 362). At this time Julian, having set out on a campaign against the Persians, marched through Cappadocia and approached Carsarea. Danger threatened the city, since the emperor intended to raze it to its foundations. But then the archbishop of the city, Sainted Basil the Great (+ 379, Comm. 1 January), showing Julian the proper respect as sovereign authority, came out to meet him carrying with him three loaves of barley bread, which he himself ate from. The emperor ordered his retainers to take the loaves, and to give Saint Basil a pinch of hay with the words: "Thou hast given us barley, cattle feed, so in return receive hay from us". The saint answered: "O emperor, we bring thee that which we ourselves do eat, and thou dost give us cattle feed; thou dost make mockery over us, since thou art not able by thy might to transform hay into bread -- the essential food of mankind". Julian angrily replied: "Know thou, that this hay I shalt shove down thy throat, when I am returned hence from Persia. And I shalt raze this city to its very foundations and on its place plow over the ground and turn it into a field. I do very well know, that it was through thine advice, that the people dared to destroy the statuary and temple of Fortuna".

After this the emperor continued on his way, but soon perished in his campaign against the Persians. He was struck down in the year 363 by the holy GreatMartyr Mercurius (Comm. 24 November, q.v.).

And after the emperor's demise, the Christians of the city of Caesarea erected a splendid church over the grave of Saint Eupsychios, and from his relics they received help and healing.

The Holy Martyrs Bishop Dysan

The Holy Martyrs Bishop Dysan, Presbyter Maryab, Habdies and 270 Others accepted a martyr's death (+ c. 362-364) under the Persian emperor Sapor II. Imprisoned, they refused to recant the Christian faith. In their number also was the Martyress Iya, who is commemorated also on 11 September.

Sts Raphael, Nicholas and Irene

The Newly-Appeared Martyrs of Lesbos, Sts Raphael, Nicholas and Irene were martyred by the Turks on Bright Tuesday (April 9, 1463) ten years after the Fall of Constantinople. They began appearing to various inhabitants of Lesbos in 1959 and revealed the details of their lives and martyrdom.

St Irene was the twelve-year-old daughter of the village mayor, Basil. In the spring of 1463, the Turks raided the monastery at Thermi and captured the monks. She and her family had come to the monastery to warn the monks of the invasion. The cruel Hagarenes cut off one of her arms and threw it down in front of her parents. Then the pure virgin was placed in a large earthen cask and a fire was lit under it, suffocating her within. These torments took place before the eyes of her parents, who were also put to death. Her grave and the earthen cask were found on May 12, 1961 after Sts Raphael, Nicholas and Irene had appeared to people and told them where to look.

Others who also received the crown of martyrdom on that day were St Irene's parents Basil and Maria; Theodore, the village teacher; and Eleni, the fifteen-year-old cousin of St Irene.

St Irene usually appears with a long yellow dress reaching to her feet. Her blonde hair is divided into two braids which rest on either side of her chest.

The Holy MonkMartyr Vadim the Archimandrite

The Holy MonkMartyr Vadim the Archimandrite was born in the IV Century in the Persian city of Bythlapata, and was descended from a rich and illustrious family. In his youthful years he was enlightened with the Christian teaching. The saint gave away part of his substance and withdrew into the wilderness, where on his means he founded a monastery. For solitary prayer he would go up on a mountain, and once was vouchsafed to behold the Glory of God. During this period the Persian emperor Sapor (310-381) began to persecute Christians. They arrested Saint Vadim together with his seven disciples and daily they tortured them in the prison, seeking to have them renounce Christ and instead worship the sun and fire. But the Monk Vadim and his disciples held firmly to their Christian faith. The confessors spent four months locked up. All this time Saint Vadim was a spiritual leader and support for the Christians living in Persia.

One of the associates of the emperor Sapor, Nirsanes, having confessed Christianity and suffering imprisonment for this, did not hold up under torture and recanted from Christ. He promised to fulfill whatever might be the orders of the emperor. Sapor demanded of Nirsanes, that he personally should chop off the head of Saint Vadim. For this he was promised a reprieve and rewards. Nirsanes was not able to overcome in himself the fear of new tortures and he agreed to enter upon the path of betrayal walked by Judas. When they brought Saint Vadim to him, he took the sword and turned towards him, but overcome by conscience, he trembled and stood petrified. Saint Vadim said to him: "Is thine misdeed, Nirsanes, now come to this, that thou shouldst not only renounce God, but also begin to murder His servants? Woe to thee, accursed one, what wilt thou do on that day, when thou standest before the Dread Judgement-Seat to give answer to God? It is with joy that I die a martyr for Christ, but I want not to accept death at thy hand". Beside himself, Nirsanes struck with the sword. But his hands shook, and he could not again strike at the head of the saint, and the fire-worshippers began to call him a coward. The MonkMartyr Vadim stood motionless, enduring the terrible blows, until the murderer succeeded in cutting off his head (+ 376). The just rewards for apostasy were not slow to overtake the hapless fellow: torn by conscience, he did away with himself, having thrown himself on a sword. After the death of the emperor Sapor, the seven disciples of the MonkMartyr Vadim were released from prison.

April 10

The Holy Martyr Terence and his companions

The Holy Martyr Terence and his companions suffered under the emperor Decius (249-251). The emperor issued an edict, which commanded all subjects to offer sacrifice to the pagan idols.

When the governor of Africa Fortunatian received this edict, he gathered the people into the city-square, set out cruel instruments of torture and declared, that everyone without exception had to offer the sacrifice to the idols. Many, afraid of torture, complied, but forty Christians with Saint Terence at their head bravely stood forth for their faith in the Saviour. Fortunatian was amazed at their boldness and he asked, how they as rational people, could confess as God, One Who was crucified by the Jews as a malefactor. In answer to this, Saint Terence boldly answered, that their belief was in the Saviour, Who voluntarily endured death on the Cross and on the third day was resurrected. Fortunatian perceived, that Terence by his example inspired the others, and so he gave orders to isolate him in prison together with his three closest companions -- Africanus, Maximus and Pompius. The remainder of the martyrs -- which included Xenon, Alexander and Theodore, Fortunatian resolved to force into renouncing Christ. But neither threats nor terrible tortures could sway the holy martyrs: they burned at them with red-hot iron, they poured vinegar on the wounds, they sprinkled on salt, they tore at them with iron claws. In spite of their sufferings, the saints did not weaken in their confession of Christ, and the Lord gave them strength.

Forunatian gave orders to lead the martyrs into the pagan temple and still yet another time he urged them to offer sacrifice to the idols. The valiant warriors of Christ cried out to God: "O God All-Powerful, having once poured out fire on Sodom for its iniquity, destroy now this impious temple of idolatry, on account of Thine Truth". The idols fell down with a crash and a smash, and then all the temple was in ruins. The enraged governor gave orders to execute them; and the martyrs, glorifying God, put their necks beneathe the sword of the executioner.

After the execution of the 36 martyrs, Fortunatian summoned before him Terence, Maximus, Africanus and Pompius, pointed out to them the executed and again urged them to offer sacrifice to the idols. The martyrs refused. The governor put heavy chains on them and gave orders to starve them to death in prison. by night an Angel of the Lord took the chains off the martyrs and fed them. In the morning the guards found the saints cheerful and strong. Then Fortunatian ordered sorcerers and conjurers to carry into the prison snakes and all kinds of viprous creatures. The guards through an opening in the prison ceiling glanced down into the jail-cell and saw the martyrs unharmed, praying, and the snakes crawling at their feet. When the snake-charmers in obeying the order opened the door of the prison-cell, the snakes disregarded the charms and struck and began to bite them. The furious Fortunatian gave orders to behead the holy martyrs. Christians took up their holy bodies and buried them with reverence outside the city.

The Holy Martyr James the Presbyter

The Holy Martyrs James the Presbyter and the deacons Hazadanes and Habdikies died in Persia under the emperor Sapor in about the year 380. They were arrested together with Bishop Akepsim (Comm. 3 November). After long exhaustion from hunger in prison they inserted into the nostrils of the sufferers mustard with vinegar, and stripping them down led them out all night into the frost. In the morning, after new torments, they again locked them into prison and there beheaded them.

The Holy Kvabtakheuia Martyrs

The Holy Kvabtakheuia Martyrs suffered during one of the devastating incursions into Gruzia of a Mongol horde led by Tamerlane in 1386 at the Kvabtakheuia monastery (founded at the end of the V Century, restored in 1119 by the Georgian emperor Saint David III the Builder).

Bursting onto Kartli (central part of Gruzia), the army of Tamerlane ravaged all the land and seized hold of the Kvabtakheuia monastery, within the walls of which were hidden the inhabitants of the surrounding villages.

After the pillaging of the monastery, the war-lord Tamerlane gathered together the monks, and wanting to humiliate and laugh at them, he forced them to sing and dance. "Woe to us monks", -- with tears and wailing answered the monks.

The soldiers of Tamerlane led them off to the cathedral church of the MostHoly Mother of God, filled with captive Christians, and covering the church with fire-wood they set it afire. Thus did the holy confessors suffer and receive the martyr's crown.

Later on the blood-stains of those innocently murdered indelibly marked the walls of the church, and it was possible to be clearly seen even still at the end of the XIX Century. Sacredly honouring the memory of the men and women martyrs, pilgrims at the entrance of the Kvabtakheuia monastery still remove their shoes as ordered of old.

The Holy Martyr Dimos (Demos)

The Holy Martyr Dimos (Demos) was a fisherman. Because of very onerous conditions he refused to work for the Turkish owner employing him at Smyrna in the fish-business. The nasty Turk slandered Saint Dimos, saying that he had expressed a desire to accept Islam. Saint Dimos renounced this false charge and confessed himself a Christian. They locked him up in prison. While in heavy stocks for breaking his will they beat him with bricks and other sharp objects. After the execution of the martyr (+ 10 April 1763) Christians gathered up his holy remains and reverently buried them in the church of Saint George.

The PriestMartyr Gregory V, Patriarch of Constantinople

The PriestMartyr Gregory V, Patriarch of Constantinople, thrice occupied the cathedra-chair (1797-1799, 1806-1808, 1819-1821). During these times Greece found itself under the harsh Turkish yoke. many Greek patriots lived in the hope to again win national independence. They found active and authoritative support in a brave champion for freedom of their native land -- in the holy Patriarch Gregory V. His connections with the Greek patriots came to light only when Alexander Ipsilanti with his army crossed over the River Prut against sultan Makhmul. One of the companions of the saint advised him to flee from Constantinople to Moreia. The saint answered him thus: "I sense, that the fishes of the Bosphorus will nibble at my body, but I shall die happy in the name of saving my nation".

On the day of Holy Pascha, 10 April 1821, they arrested the holy Patriarch and led him out of the doors of the Patriarchate, and then they threw his body into the sea.

Greek sailors noted the spot where the body of the saint was thrown, they found it, and on a ship of the Cephalonian captain Mark Sklabos under a Russian flag they sailed to Odessa. There, in the Greek church of the MostHoly Trinity, the body of the saint was buried on 19 June 1821. For dressing the remains of the priestmartyr, there was sent from Moscow vestments and a mitre with cross, which had belonged to His Holiness Patriarch Nikon (1652-1658).

In 1871 at the request of the Greek authorities it was decided to transfer the relics of Sainted Gregory from Odessa to Athens for the celebration of fifty years of Greek independence. In honour of the PriestMartyr Gregory, at Athens was compiled a special service. His deed contributed to the triumph of Christianity in the rebirth of Hellas.

The Holy Prophetess Oldama (Huldah)

The Holy Prophetess Oldama (Huldah) lived in the first half of the VII Century before the Birth of Christ. She foretold to the 16 year old king of Judah reigning at Jerusalem, Josiah, that for his humility the Lord would put him with his forefathers and he would be at peace in the grave, and his eyes would not see all the woe, which the Lord would bring upon the land (4 (2) Kings 22: 14-20; 2 Chron. 34: 28).

The PriestMartyr Antipas

April 11

The PriestMartyr Antipas, a disciple of the holy Apostle John the Theologian (Comm. 26 September), was bishop of the Church of Pergamum during the reign of the emperor Nero (54-68).

During these times by order of the emperor, everyone who would not offer sacrifice to the idols lived under threat of either exile or execution. And then too on the island of Patmos (in the Aegean Sea) was imprisoned the holy Apostle John the Theologian -- he to whom the Lord revealed the future judgements of the world and of Holy Church.

-- "And to the Angel of the Pergamum Church write: thus sayeth He having the sword sharp of both edges: I do know thine deeds, and that thou dost live there, where doth be the throne of Satan, and that thou dost cleave unto My Name nor didst renounce My faith even in those days, in which My slain faithful witness Antipas was amongst ye, where Satan dwelleth" (Rev. 2: 12-13).

By his personal example, firm faith and constant preaching about Christ, Saint Antipas began to sway the people of Pergamum from offering sacrifice to idols. The pagan priests reproached the bishop for turning the people away from their ancestral gods, and they demanded that he stop preaching about Christ and instead offer sacrifice to the idols.

Saint Antipas calmly answered, that he was not about to serve the demon-gods, which flee before him who was but a mortal man; rather, it is the Lord Almighty that he worships and would continue to worship -- the Creator of all, together with His Only-Begotten and One-in-Essence Son and Holy Spirit. The pagan priests retorted, that their gods existed from of old, whereas Christ was not from of old and was crucified under Pontius Pilate as a criminal. The saint answered, that the pagan gods were the work of human hands and that everything said about them was filled with iniquities and vices. He steadfastly confessed his faith in the Son of God, incarnated of the MostHoly Virgin.

The enraged pagan priests dragged the PriestMartyr Antipas to the temple of Artemis and threw him into a red-hot copper bullock, wherein usually they cast the sacrifices to the idols. In the red-hot furnace the priest-martyr prayed loudly to God, imploring to accept his soul and to fortify Christians in the faith. He expired to the Lord peacefully, as though asleep (+ c. 68).

Christians by night took the body of the PriestMartyr Antipas, untouched by the fire, and with reverence they buried him at Pergamum. The tomb of the priest-martyr became a font of miracles and of healings from manifold sicknesses. Particular recourse to the PriestMartyr Antipas is made during times of tooth-ache.

The Monk Jakov of Zheleznoborovsk

The Monk Jakov of Zheleznoborovsk, a son of the boyar-noble Anosov (or Amosov) line, which had their lands at Kostroma Galich, was born in the second half of the XIV Century. As a youth he went to the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, accepted from him monastic tonsure and for several years he lived at the Trinity monastery. In 1392 the Monk Jakov settled in a dense forest near iron mines, at a place which was called the Iron Pines, at the banks of the rivulet Tebza. His sanctity of life was known of already in his own time. In 1415 the wife of GreatPrince Vasilii Dmitrievich (1389-1425), Sophia Vitovtovna (in monasticism Synkletikia, + 1453) fell seriously ill before childbirth. The greatprince dispatched a message to the Monk Jakov beseeching that the monk pray for his wife, and asking whether she would live. The monk bid him pray to the holy Martyr Longinus and foretold the happy birth of a son, Vasilii. (In 1450, this son, GreatPrince Vasilii Vasilevich (1425-1462), after his victory over prince Dimitrii Shemyaka, visited the monastery of the Monk Jakov and prayed there with gratitude).

The grateful prince Vasilii Dmitrievich generously rewarded the Monk Jakov and gave him the means to build at the place of his efforts a monastery with a church in the name of the holy Prophet John the ForeRunner. In 1429 the Khazan Tatars laid waste the surroundings of Galich. The Monk Jakov with his disciples hid deep in the forest. Returning, they found the monastery in ruins. Everything had to be rebuilt anew. The monk built a church in the name of Saint Nicholas, and he dug out ponds with the brethren. On the example of the Trinity-Sergiev monastery a strict common-life rule was introduced. Many of the hungry and destitute people, devastated by the Tatars, were fed at the monastery.

After many years of efforts in common, the monks besought the Monk Jakov to be their hegumen. He humbly submitted to their request and journeyed to Moscow, where he was bestown the priestly dignity.

The monk died a venerable elder on 11 April 1442 and was buried at the John the ForeRunner church of the monastery founded by him.

The Monk Jakov of Bryleevsk

The Monk Jakov of Bryleevsk was a disciple of the Monk Jakov of Zheleznoborovsk (Comm. 11 April) and was a "trudnik" at his monastery (the word "trudnik" has two meanings: "truzhenik"-"toiler" and "posluzhnik"-"obedient"). He later founded the Bryleevsk wilderness-monastery in honour of the Entry into the Temple of the MostHoly Mother of God at a distance of 5 versts from the Zheleznoborovsk ForeRunner monastery, off in the direction of the city of Bua. The Monk Jakov died during the XV Century and was buried in the Entry into the Temple church. His memory is marked likewise on the Day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles (i.e. Pentecost).

The Monk Evphymii and his disciple the Monk Khariton

The Monk Evphymii and his disciple the Monk Khariton asceticised at the River Syanzhema during the close of the XV to the beginning XVI Centuries. The Monk Evphymii came to the Spasokamensk monastery from the Volokolamsk outskirts. For a long time he continued as a novice-obedient at the monastery, but later he settled on the eastern shore of Lake Kuben near the mouth of the River Kushta. Amidst the impenetrable swamps and dense woods there, the saint built himself a small cell, wherein he asceticised in total solitude. After a certain while there came to him the Monk Alexander of Kushtsk (+ 1439, Comm. 9 June), who also had set out from the Spasokamensk monastery and at first settled at the River Syanzhema. The Monk Alexander besought the Monk Evphymii to switch cells with him, since he was seeking a place of complete quiet.

Transferring himself over to the River Syanzhema, the Monk Evphymii did not refuse the local people his spiritual counsel and guidance. And there too the Monk Khariton came to him.

The Monk Evphymii built a church in honour of the Ascension of Christ and made next it a monastery. At Rostov, under Sainted Archbishop Dionysii (1418-1425), he received the permission to build, and evidently, he also received there the priestly dignity and was made hegumen of the monastery started by him.

Both monks were an example to the brethren in prayer, and in the works of construction and supervision. They made do with such food and clothing, as even the brethren reckoned worthless. In temple the Monk Evphymii stood in fear and trembling, and the brethren often saw upon his face tears of tenderness. Working at hand-crafts, the monk always sang psalms. The Monk Evphymii died in about the year 1465, though the actual day of his death is unknown.

His successor as hegumen was his beloved disciple -- the Monk Khariton. For more than 40 years he continued the work at the monastery, and he died in old age on 11 April 1509. Both monks were buried at the Ascension church. The memory of the Monk Evphymii is celebrated also on 20 January, and that of the Monk Khariton on 28 September, on the days of their saints-names in common.

The Holy Martyrs Processus and Martinian

The Holy Martyrs Processus and Martinian were pagans and they served as guards at the Mamertine prison in Rome.

In this prison were held state criminals, among which Christians also were included. Watching over the Christian prisoners and hearing also their preaching, Processus and Martinian gradually came to the knowledge of the true faith in the Saviour. When the holy Apostle Peter was locked up at the Mamertine prison, Processus and Martinian came steadfastly to believe in Christ; they accepted holy Baptism from the apostle and released him from prison. The prison head Paulinus learned about this, and he demanded Saints Processus and Martinian to renounce Christ. But they fearlessly confessed their Christian faith and they spat at the golden statue of Jupiter. Paulinus thereupon gave orders to slap them on the face, and then seeing the resolute stance of the holy martyrs, he subjected them to torture: they whipped the martyrs with iron rods, scorched them with fire, and finally, threw them in prison.

A certain illustrious and pious woman, by the name of Lucina (Lucy), visited them in prison and gave them help and encouragement. The torturer Paulinus soon suffered the chastisement of God: he fell blind and died three days later. The son of Paulinus made recourse to the city head with a demand to immediately put the martyrs to death. Saints Processus and Martinian were beheaded by the sword (+ c. 67).

Pious Lucina buried the bodies of the martyrs.

The Monk Pharmuphios

The Monk Pharmuphios lived during the IV Century at that wilderness monastery, where within a well asceticised the Monk John (Comm. 29 March), to whom the Monk Parphumios gave food.

Sainted Varsonophii of Tver

Sainted Varsonophii of Tver was born in the year 1495. In 1567 he was ordained bishop of Tver. He died at the Transfiguration monastery founded by him in the city of Kazan in the year 1576.

April 12

The Monk Basil the Confessor

The Monk Basil the Confessor, Bishop of Para, lived during the VIII Century. He was chosen to the bishop's chair by the inhabitants of Para, who venerated the saint as a true pastor of the flock of Christ.

When the Iconoclast heresy broke out, Saint Basil resolutely came out on the side of icon veneration and refused to sign the directives for their abolition (the "Iniquitous Scroll" of the Council of 754 which had convened under the emperor Constantine V Copronymos (741-775). The saint shunned any contact with the heretics and did not permit them into his diocese. For his zeal he suffered much persecution, hunger and deprivation.

To the very end of his life Saint Basil was faithful to the Orthodox confession.

The Nun Athanasia

The Nun Athanasia was hegumeness of a monastery on the island of Aegina. She was born into a pious Christian family of parents named Nikita and Marina. Already at seven years of age the maiden studied the Psalter, which she read constantly and with feeling. Once, during the time of work at the weaver's loom, Saint Athanasia saw coming down to her from above a shining star, which touched her bosom and lightened all her being, and then disappeared. From that moment the maiden was illumined in soul and she firmly resolved to enter a monastery.

When Saint Athanasia reached age 16, her parents entreated her to marry. The maiden consented, but lived in wedlock all of only 16 days: her husband was taken into the army and there died.

Left a widow, Saint Athanasia decided to fulfill her old wish. But at this time was promulgated a decree of the emperor Michael the Stammerer (820-829), in accord with which young widows were to enter into marriage with young soldiers. Saint Athanasia married again. In marriage she led a pious and virtuous life: she toiled in the house, helped the sick and those in need, and took in wanderers. On Sundays and feastdays she invited over family and acquaintances and read the Holy Scripture to them. Under her influence, her husband went off to a monastery and gave his wife permission to take monastic vows.

The saint gave away her property, accepted monasticism and together with some devout women she withdrew into a solitary place. After a certain while the sisters besought the Nun Athanasia to become hegumen of the small community. The saint looked upon her being hegumeness as an especial service to God and her sisters. She gave example by meekness and humility. All infractions of the sisters were asked about with love, without anger.

Although Saint Athanasia had the title of hegumeness, she accounted herself least among the sisters and always had in mind the commandment of the Saviour: "Whoso amongst you would be first, let them be servant to all" (Mt. 20: 27). The saint never permitted the sisters to wait upon her, even though it be to pour water over her hands.

The Nun Athanasia wore an hair-shirt, and over it her clothes were of coarse sheep's wool. She slept little, and the better part of the night she prayed. By day she toiled together with the sisters. She partook of food only in the evening, which consisted of morsels of bread and water. Butter, cheese and fish she permitted herself only on the Nativity of Christ and Holy Pascha. During lent she ate once or twice a day only some moist greens. The Nun Athanasia spent four years at this monastery.

On the island of Aegina lived a certain monk-elder, Matthew, who earlier had been an hegumen. He took upon himself a great exploit: each night he read through the Psalter, together with reading also prayers. The saint slept sitting and only very little. During the singing of the Psalms, reading prayers or offering the Bloodless Sacrifice the monk could not refrain from tears. He wore only a coarse hair-shirt and by great temperance and exertions he became completely withered of body. He had an especial love for Saint John the Theologian, and one time during the making of the Divine liturgy he was vouchsafed to see this apostle, standing at the altar-table. The monk with his mantle healed a paralytic, by the sign of the cross he corrected the face of a man distorted by the working of the devil, he cast out demons and worked many other miracles. The Monk Matthew gave blessing to Saint Athanasia to go with her sisters to a still more remote place. She built a monastery on a desolate hill of the island near an ancient church of the FirstMartyr Stephen.

The Nun Athanasia was granted of God the gift of healing. After she healed a man afflicted with a malady of the eyes, a throng of people began to flock to her, to receive healing from infirmities of both soul and body. From the abundant gifts brought to the monastery, the nun built at the monastery three churches: one in the name of the MostHoly Mother of God, another in the name of the holy Prophet John the Forerunner, and the third in the name of Sainted Nicholas the Wonderworker.

The spreading celebrity distressed the saint, and she took the two sisters closest to her in spirit (Maria and Eupraxia) and withdrew in secret to Constantinople. There, as a simple monastic, the nun entered one of the women's monasteries, where she dwelt for 7 years.

But her holy life again attracted attention. The sisters of the Aegina monastery learned whither their hegumeness had gone, and they set off to her imploring her to return. Submitting to the Will of God, the nun returned to the monastery founded by her. Soon after this she was granted a vision of two radiant men, bestowing upon her a document with the words: "Here is thine freedom, take and rejoice".

The twelve days before her death the Nun Athanasia spent at unceasing prayer. On the eve of the feast of the Dormition (Uspenie) of the MostHoly Mother of God she summoned the sisters and said, that she was able to read the Psalter only up to the twelfth psalm. The saint asked them to continue reading the Psalter for her in church. The sisters went to church and there fulfilled her request, and then they came to take their farewell from the saint. She blessed them and besought them to solemnly and joyfully make the feast of the Dormition of the MostHoly Mother of God, and also to give a meal for the poor and destitute, and after Divine liturgy to give burial to her body. With these words the Nun Athanasia expired to the Lord (+ 14 August 860).

On the fortieth day, after Divine liturgy two devout sisters were granted to see, how Saint Athanasia appeared before the royal doors. Two radiant men adorned her head with a crown beset with crosses, they entrusted to her a gleaming staff and led her through the royal doors into the altar.

Before her death, Saint Athanasia gave orders to feed the poor in her memory through the 40 days. The sisters, however, did not fulfill her request and they set out the memorial meal for only 9 days. The saint appeared to certain of the sisters and said: "In vain ye fulfilled not my last wish -- the forty day commemoration of the dead in church and the feeding of the poor would have been much help for sinful souls, and from righteous souls would have been sent down Heavenly mercy upon those making remembrance". With this she thrust her staff into the ground and became invisible. The staff left behind sprouted the next day and became a live tree. A year after the death of the saint, they led to the grave a demoniac woman. When they dug up the ground, they then perceived a fragrance and took out the coffin. Having touched it, the demoniac was immediately healed. Then they opened the lid of the coffin and beheld the undecayed body of the nun, from which flowed myrh. The Nun Athanasia was as though asleep, her face shone brightly, all her body was preserved incorrupt and soft, and even her hands were supple. The priests decided to place the body of the saint in church. When they transferred the body into a new coffin, the nuns took hold the hair-shirt from her holy remains and wanted to dress her in silken clothes, but the hands of the Nun Athanasia were so firmly clasped to her bosom, that the nuns could not dress her in the silken garb. Thus even in death the saint displayed her love for poverty. Thereupon one of the sisters, having bent down on her knees, began to pray to the saint, saying: "Our lady, as undeniably thou didst hearken to us when thou lived with us, so now also be graciously pleased to hearken to us and be dressed in these clothes, our humble gift offered unto thee". The Nun Athanasia, as though alive, lifted and extended her hands into the clothing.

The holy relics of the Nun Athanasia were put into a constructed crypt and became a source of graced healings.

The PriestMonk Zenon, Bishop of Verona

The PriestMonk Zenon, Bishop of Verona, was born a Greek and came from Syria. In his early years he accepted monasticism and toiled over the study of Holy Scripture. Wandering through the monasteries, the saint came to the city of Verona and settled there. The people chose him bishop of the city.

The emperors who then ruled, Constantius (353-361) and Valens (364-378), were advocates of the Arian heresy, which had been condemned at the First OEcumenical Council at Nicea in the year 325. Under their patronage the Arians began a persecution against the Orthodox. Saint Zenon bravely endured all the oppression from the heretics. In his sermons and missives he firmly asserted the Orthodox teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ as the Only-Begotten Son of God, Born of the Father before all ages. Saint Zenon wrote 16 lengthy and 77 short discourses and directives. He died in about the year 360.

Sainted Gregory Dialogus (Comm. 12 March) speaks of a miracle, worked in the year 558 on the day of memory of Saint Zenon. Springtime in Italy, it was heavily flooded. The River Tiber overflowed its banks and inundated the surrounding area; the River Atesis flowing past Verona also flooded. The water reached the church built in the name of the PriestMartyr Zenon, and came up to the very windows of the church. The doors of the temple were open, but the water did not rush into it, but stopped at the wall, not harming the church.

The Monk Isaac the Syrian

The Monk Isaac the Syrian lived during the mid-VI Century. He arrived in the Italian city of Spoleto from Syria. The monk asked permission of the church wardens to remain in the temple and he prayed in it for all of two and an half days. One of the church wardens began to reproach the monk with hypocrisy and struck him on the cheek. The punishment of God then befell the church warden. The devil threw him down at the feet of the saint and cried out: "Isaac, cast me out!" Just as the monk bent over the man, the unclean spirit fled.

News about the occurrence quickly spread throughout the city. People began to throng to the monk, offering him help and the means for building a monastery. But the humble monk refused all this. He left the city and settled in a desolate place, where he built himself a small cell. Around the ascetic gathered disciples, and thus was formed a monastery. When his disciples inquired of the elder, why he had shunned the gifts, he answered: "A monk in acquiring possessions is no longer a monk".

The Monk Isaac was endowed with the gift of perspicacity. About this Sainted Gregory Dialogus (Comm. 12 March) relates in his "Conversations about the Lives and Miracles of the Italian Fathers". One time the Monk Isaac bid the monks to leave behind their spades in the garden for the night, and in the morning he asked them to prepare food for the workers. It seems that robbers, as many as there were spades left behind, had come to rob the monastery. The power of God forced them to change their evil intent. They took in hand the spades and began ardently to work, such that at the arrival of the monks all the ground had been dug up. The monk greeted the toilers and invited them to refresh themselves with food. Then he gave them an admonition to quit their thievery, and gave them permission always to come openly and make use of the fruits of the monastery garden.

Another time there came to the monk wanderers, attired in rags, and they besought clothing of the saint. He bid them to wait a bit, and sent a monk into the forest, where in the hollow of a tree the wanderers had hidden their fine clothes, wanting to deceive the holy hegumen. The monk dispatched brought back the clothes, and the Monk Isaac gave them to the wanderers. Seeing, that their fraud was uncovered, the moochers fell into great distress and shame.

It happened likewise, that a certain man sent the monk his servant with two baskets of food. The servant hid one of these baskets along the way. The monk took the offered basket and quietly said: "I accept the gifts, but thou however ought not to touch the basket hidden by thee -- into it has creeped a snake, and if thou reach out thy hand, it wilt bite thee". Thus wisely and without malice the saint unmasked the sins of people, desiring salvation for all.

The Monk Isaac died in the year 550. This saint mustneeds be distinguished from another ascetic, the Monk Isaac the Syrian, Bishop of Ninevah, who lived during the VII Century (Comm. 28 January).

The MonkMartyrs Minas, David and John

The MonkMartyrs Minas, David and John asceticised in Palestine. They received a martyr's death in the VII Century from the Arabs, who shot them through with arrows (+ post 636, when Jerusalem was captured by the Arabs).

The Nun Anthusa

The Nun Anthusa was daughter of the Iconoclast emperor Constantine Copronymos (741-775) from his first wife from among the Khazars. She and her brother, the future emperor Leo the Khazar (775-780), were twins born on 25 January 750. The empress suffered very much with their birth. Constantine Copronymos summoned from prison the Hegumeness Anthusa (Comm. 27 July) and besought her prayers. The Nun Anthusa foretold the birth of twins and their fate. The daughter, born with the prediction of the Nun Anthusa, was named in her honour. When she grew up, the emperor began to urge her to marry. But Saint Anthusa from the time of her youth yearned for monasticism and would not agree to his suggestions. After the death of her father, she used all her personal property for the aid of the poor and the orphaned. The pious empress Irene (780-802), spouse of Leo the Khazar, regarded Saint Anthusa with love and esteem and invited her to be a co-regent. But Saint Anthusa did not wish for worldly honours. Being at court, she put on clothes corresponding to her position as an imperial daughter, but beneathe it she wore an hair-shirt.

Saint Anthusa took monastic vows from the holy Patriarch Tarasios (784-806). She founded at Constantinople the Omonea monastery, known for its strict rule (ustav). The Nun Anthusa was herself an example of humility -- she herself did hard work, she cleaned the church and carried water; during mealtime she never sat at table but instead served the sisters. She kept strict watch, that no one left the monastery without especial need. The humble and gentle ascetic lived to age 52, and died peacefully in the year 801.

Sainted Sergios, Patriarch of Constantinople

Sainted Sergios, Patriarch of Constantinople, a monk from the monastery of Saint Manuel, directed the Church from 999 to 1019.

The Monk Akakios

The Monk Akakios the New took monastic vows at the Holy Trinity monastery of Saint Dionysios of Olympos (Comm. 24 January) at Zagorakhos. Having gone off to Holy Mount Athos, the monk on the advice of his father-confessor, Father Galaktion, settled in the skete monastery of Saint Maximos the Hut-Burner ("Kausokalibites", Comm. 13 January), who repeatedly appeared to the ascetic. The exploits of the Monk Akakios were extremely severe: in place of bread he ate dry grass, broken up by pounding with a piece of marble. To the question of how much a monk ought to sleep, he answered, that for a true monk half an hour even was sufficient. And he himself in spite of age and illness gave example of this.

About the humility of the monk there is the following instance. One time, when the Monk Akakios had come on Sunday to the skete church, the arch-hegumen Neogrites handed him his own cane and said: "Father, take the staff, and we wilt lead the gathered brethren". Having kissed the hand of the arch-hegumen, the Monk Akakios accepted the staff without any contradiction. But, in order to humble his mind, he from that time not only never took the lead staff in his hand, but also refrained from the particular staff usual for old age.

For his exalted exploits the Monk Akakios was granted the gifts of unceasing mental prayer and Divine revelations. He expired to the Lord on 12 April 1730, being almost an hundred years old.

April 13

The PriestMartyr Artemon

The PriestMartyr Artemon was born of Christian parents in Syrian Laodiceia in the first half of the III Century. From the time of his youthful years he dedicated himself to the service of the Church. At 16 years of age the saint was made a reader and in this position he laboured during the course of 12 years. For his zealousness in Divine Services, Sainted-bishop Sisinios ordained him to the dignity of deacon. Saint Artemon did also this service with fervour and diligence for 28 years, after which he was ordained to the priesthood. And in this dignity Saint Artemon served the Church of God for 33 years, preaching the Christian faith amongst pagans. When the emperor Diocletian (284-305) began a fierce persecution against christians, Saint Artemon was already old. The emperor issued an edict, that all christians were to offer sacrifice to idols.

Saint Sisinios, knowing about the impending arrival in the Laodiceian district of the military-commander Patricius, went together with the priest Artemon into the pagan-temple of the goddess Artemis. There they smashed and burnt the idols.

Afterwards, Saint Sisinios and Saint Artemon gathered the flock into the church and heatedly exhorted the christians to remain firm in the faith and not fear the threats of torturers.

Having arrived in Laodiceia, Patricius made a five-day celebration in honour of the pagan gods, and then went off to the temple of Artemis to offer sacrifice. He learnt who it was that had destroyed the temple, and set off with a detachment of soldiers to the church where the christians were praying. Not yet having gotten in front of the church, Patricius suddenly felt a chill, and afterwards heat, such that it left him hardly alive, and they entered into the first house they found along the way. "The Christians have put a curse on me, and this their God tormenteth me", -- he said to those about him. The prayers of Patricius to the idols did not relieve his sufferings. He dispatched a messenger to Saint Sisinios and asked for his help, promising by way of thanks to make a gold statue of the bishop. The Saint answered: "Thy gold keep to thyself, but if thou wishest to be healed, believe in Christ".

Patricius was afraid of dying and he declared that he believed in Christ. Through the prayer of Saint Sisinios the affliction left him. But even a miracle having been worked did not alter the obdurate soul of the pagan. Although he did not touch Saint Sisinios, he however set off to enforce the imperial edict against other christians in the city of Caesarea. Along the way he encountered an old man, for whom there went in pairs six wild donkeys and two deer. This man was the priest Artemon.

To Patricius' query, how he was able to lead after him these wild beasts, Saint Artemon

answered, that everything in the world confesses the Name of Christ and with true faith in Christ nothing is impossible.

Patricius learned from the pagans that the old man he met along the way -- was the same Artemon, who had destroyed the pagan temple of Artemis. He gave orders to seize him and take him to the city of Caesarea.

Saint Artemon went along with the soldiers without fear, but he ordered the animals to go to Saint Sisinios.

One of the donkeys received the gift of speech from God and told the sainted-bishop that he had come from Saint Artemon. The sainted-bishop sent him in Caesarea a blessing and prosphora by deacon.

In Caesarea Patricius summoned Saint Artemon to trial and began to try to force him to offer sacrifice in the pagan temple of Asclepios. In this pagan temple there lived many poisonous vipers. The pagan priest never opened up the doors, nor previously carried in the sacrifice to the idol. But Saint Artemon, calling on the Name of Jesus Christ, went into the temple and let out from there the plethora of snakes. The pagans turned in flight, but the saint stopped them and by his breath killed the snakes. One of the pagan priests, Bitalios, believed in Christ and asked Saint Artemon to baptise him.

Patricius thought that Saint Artemon killed the snakes by means of sorcery, and he again started to interrogate and torture him. At this point in time there arrived in Caesarea the donkey which had spoken with Saint Sisinios. The donkey lay down at the feet of the martyr, and afterwards again having received from God the gift of speech, it denounced Patricius, predicting for him an impending death in a boiling cauldron. Patricius was scared, that the miracles done by Saint Artemon would draw still more people to him, and he gave orders to execute him.

The filled an enormous cauldron with boiling tar. Soldiers were needed to throw Saint Artemon therein. But when Patricius rode up on horseback to the kettle, wanting to be sure that the tar was indeed boiling, two Angels in the guise of eagles seized and threw him into the cauldron, but Saint Artemon remained alive. Through the prayer of the saint there issued from the ground a spring of water, in which he baptised the pagan priest Bitalios and many pagans, who had come to believe in Christ. On the following morning Saint Artemon communed the newly-baptised with the Holy Mysteries.

The bishop of Caesarea went to visit with Saint Artemon. He cleared off the place where the martyr suffered, and afterwards was built a church there. Many of the baptised were ordained to the deaconate and priesthood, and Bitalios was made bishop of Palestine. The Priestmartyr Artemon, through a calling by the Divine Voice, went preaching the Gospel into Asia, to the settlement of Bulos. Along the way an Angel appeared to him and transported him openly in view of the villagers. He converted many there to faith in Christ. Pagans seized the saint and beheaded him (+ 303).

The Holy Martyr Criscentios

The Holy Martyr Criscentios was descended from an illustrious family and lived in Lycian Myra. One time, when a throng of city inhabitants were on the way to the pagan temple, he began to urge them to forsake paganism and come to Christ. This incident became known to the city governor.

When the governor asked the saint about his parentage, the saint -- not wishing to bring unpleasantness to his parents -- said nothing except that he was a christian. The governor knew the father of Saint Criscentios and wanting to do him a favour, he suggested to Saint Criscentios to offer sacrifice to idols only in appearance, while in soul remaining a Christian.

To this the holy martyr boldly answered: "It would be impossible for the body not to do that which the soul thinks, since the soul governs and moves the body". They beat the holy martyr Criscentios and gnashed at him with iron, and then burnt him in a flaming bon-fire.

Sainted Andrew of Crete (+ 740, Comm. 4 July) mentions about the Martyr Criscentios in his Sermon on the day of memory of Sainted Nicholas the Wonderworker -- 6 December -- also of Lycian Myra.

The Holy Martyress Thomaida

The Holy Martyress Thomaida was born into a Christian family in the city of Alexandria. In her childhood she was educated in piety and loved to read Holy Scripture.

At 15 years of age the girl entered into marriage with a fisherman, -- also a Christian. The young couple lived in the household of the husband's family, where Saint Thomaida was loved for her mild and gentle disposition, and virtue and prudence.

The father-in-law of Saint Thomaida, at the prompting of the devil, was captivated by her beauty. When his son went out at night for fishing, he began seeking to lead his daughter-in-law into sin. In vain did Saint Thomaida admonish the senseless old man, reminding him about the last Judgement and about the penalty for sin. Infuriated by the steadfastness of Saint Thomaida, he thoughtlessly seized a sword and began to threaten her with death. But Saint Thomaida answered resolutely: "Even if thou cut me in two, I shall not stray from the commandments of the Lord". Overcome with passion, the father-in-law swung the sword and struck Saint Thomaida. The saint received a martyr's death for her prudence and faith in the commandments of God in the year 476.

Divine chastisement befell the murderer. He instantly became blinded and was not able to go out the door to flee. In the morning there arrived companions of the saint's husband. They opened the doors and saw the body of the saint and the blood-stained blind old man. The murderer himself confessed his evil deed and asked to be condemned to death by execution.

During this time there arrived in Alexandria from a wilderness skete the Monk Daniel. He bid the monks of the nearby Oktodecadia monastery to take the body of the martyress to bury in the monastery cemetery. Some of the monks were perplexed, how it should be possible to bury a woman with monks. The monk Daniel answered: "This girl -- is a mother for me and you. She died for purity".

After a solemn funeral the Monk Daniel returned to his own skete. Soon one of the young monks began to complain to him, that fleshly passions tormented him. The monk Daniel ordered him to go and pray at the grave of the holy martyress Thomaida. The monk did the bidding of the elder. During the time of prayer at the grave he fell into a light sleep. Saint Thomaida then appeared to him and said: "Father, have my blessing and go in peace".

Having awakened, the monk felt at joy and peace in his soul. And after this the fleshly struggle no longer disturbed him. Abba Daniel explained to him: "The blessing -- was the gift of the martyress' prudence; the ascetic deeds of purity hold such power before God".

In later times many found at the grave of Saint Thomaida both spiritual joy and release from their passions. The relics of Saint Thomaida were transferred to Constantinople to one of the women's monasteries. In the year 1420 the Russian pilgrim archdeacon Zosima viewed them.

April 14

Sainted Martin the Confessor, Pope of Rome

Sainted Martin the Confessor, Pope of Rome, was a native of the Tuscany region of Italy. He received a fine education and entered into the clergy of the Roman Church. After the death of Pope Theodore I (642-649), presbyter Martin was chosen to the throne.

At this time the peace of the Church was disturbed by the Monothelite heresy, which had become widespread.

The endless disputes of the Monothelites with the Orthodox took place in all levels of the population. Even the emperor Constans (641-668) and the Constantinople Patriarch Paul II (641-654) were adherents of the Monothelite heresy. The emperor Constans published the heretical "Pattern of Faith" (Tupos), obligatory for all the population. In it was forbidden all further disputes.

The heretical "Pattern of Faith" was received at Rome in the year 649. Holy Pope Martin, a firm supporter of Orthodoxy, convened at Rome the local (Lateran) Council, which condemned the Monothelite heresy. At the same time Saint Martin sent a letter to the Constantinople Patriarch Paul with an exhortation to return to the Orthodox confession. The enraged emperor ordered the military commander Olympios to bring Saint Martin to trial. But Olympios, being at Rome, feared the clergy and the people who had descended upon the Council, and he dispatched a soldier to secretly murder the holy Pope. When the assassin approached Saint Martin, he was unexpectedly blinded. The terrified Olympios hastily journeyed to Sicily and was soon killed in battle.

In 654 the emperor with his former aim sent to Rome another military commander, Theodore, who accused Saint Martin of the serious charges of being in secret correspondence with the enemies of the empire -- the Saracens, and of blaspheming the MostHoly Mother of God, and of uncanonically entering upon the papal throne. Despite the presenting by Roman clergy and laity of proof of full innocence of the holy Pope, the military commander Theodore with a detachment of soldiers seized hold of Saint Martin by night and took him to one of the Cycladian islands, -- Naxos, in the Aegean Sea. Saint Martin spent an entire year on this almost unpopulated island, suffering deprivation and abuse from the guards. Then they sent the exhausted confessor for trial to Constantinople.

They brought the sick elder on a stretcher, but the judges callously ordered him to raise himself up and give answer standing. Again there came an interrogation, and soldiers propped up the saint weakened by illness. At the trial false-witnesses came forward, slandering the saint and imputing treasonous relations with the Saracens. The biased judges did not even bother to hear the defence of the saint. In profound grief he said: "To the Lord is known, what great kindliness ye would show me, if quickly ye would deliver me over to death".

After suchlike trial they brought forth the saint in tattered garb to the jeering of a crowd, which they forced to shout: "Anathema to Pope Martin!" But those who knew the holy Pope was suffering innocently, withdrew in tears. Finally the sakellarios (shield-bearer), sent by the emperor, approached the military commander and declared the sentence -- to deprive the Pope of his dignity and deliver him to death by execution. They put the half-naked saint into chains and dragged him to prison, where they locked him up with thieves. These were more merciful to the saint than the heretics.

Amidst this the emperor went to the dying Patriarch of Constantinople Paul and told him about the trial over Saint Martin. That one turned away from the emperor and said: "Woe is me! Yet another deed towards my judgement", -- and he besought that the tortures of Saint Martin be stopped. The emperor again sent a notary and other persons to the saint in prison for continued interrogation. The saint answered them: "If even they smash me up, I wilt not have relations with the Constantinople Church while it dwelleth in bad-faith". The torturers were astonished at the boldness of the confessor and they commuted his death by execution with exile in the faraway Tauridian Chersonesus.

There also the saint died, exhausted by sickness, want, hunger and deprivations (+ 16 September 655). He was buried outside the city in the Blakhernae church in the name of the MostHoly Mother of God.

The Monothelite heresy was condemned at the VI Ecumenical Council in the year 680. The relics of the holy confessor Pope Martin were transferred to Constantinople, and thence to Rome.

The Holy Martyrs Antonii, John and Eustathii

The Holy Martyrs Antonii, John and Eustathii suffered for Christ under the Lithuanian GreatPrince Ol'gerd (1345-1377). The prince was married to the Vitebsk Orthodox princess Maria Yaroslavna (+ 1346). He himself was baptised and during the lifetime of his spouse he allowed the preaching of Christianity. Two brothers by birth, Nezhilo and Kumets, received holy Baptism from the clergy of the princess the priest Nestor, and they received the names Antonii and John. And at the request of Maria Yaroslavna there was even built at Vilna an Orthodox church.

But after the death of his spouse, prince Ol'gerd began openly to support the pagan priests of the fire-worshippers, who started a persecution against Christians. Saints John and Antonii endeavoured not to display their belonging to the Christians, but still they did not observe the pagan customs, they did not cut their hair as the pagans did, and on fastdays they did not eat forbidden foods.

The prince soon became suspicious of the brothers in the renunciation of faith, so he interrogated them and they confessed themselves Christians. Then they demanded them to eat meat (it was a fast day). The holy brothers refused, and the prince locked them up in prison. The brothers spent an entire year incarcerated. John took fright at the impending tortures and declared, that he would fulfill all the demands of the GreatPrince. The delighted Ol'gerd released both brothers and drew them near to himself.

But Antonii did not betray Christ. When he again refused to eat meat on a fast day, the prince again locked him up in prison and subjected him to brutal tortures. The renouncing brother remained free, but as a traitor not only did the Christians not associate with him, but neither did the pagans. Repenting of his sin, John went to the priest Nestor and asked him to intercede before his brother, so that he would forgive him and consort with him. "When he openly confesses Christ, everything betwixt us wilt be reconciled", -- answered the martyr Antonii. Once, serving the prince at the bath, Saint John spoke privately with him about his reconciliation with the Church. Ol'gerd did not display any anger and gave him to understand, that this was his personal matter and that he could believe in Christ, but conduct himself like all the pagans. Then Saint John confessed himself a Christian in the presence of numerous courtiers. They beat him fiercely with canes and dispatched him to his brother in prison. The martyrs met with joy in prison and on that day did partake of the Holy Mysteries.

A throng of the people approached the prison so as to view the new confessor. By their preaching the brothers converted many to Christ. The prison was transformed into a Christian teaching-place. The frightened pagan-priests demanded the execution of the brothers, but now already they did not fear temporal parting. On the morning of 14 April 1347 the Martyr Antonii after receiving the Holy Mysteries was hung on a tree. This oak, considered by the pagans as sacred, became from that time truly sacred for Orthodox Christians.

The hopes of the pagan priests, that with the death of Saint Antonii the preaching about Christ would stop, were not justified. A multitude of the people as before gathered at the walls of the prison, where Saint John was situated. On 24 April 1347 they strangled and hung him dead upon the same oak. The venerable bodies of both martyrs were buried by Christians in a church of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker.

A third sufferer for faith in Christ was Kruglets. At Baptism the priest Nestor gave him the name Eustathii. He was a relative of the holy brothers. Within the retinue of the GreatPrince of Lithuania, Kruglets stood out by his comeliness, valour and bravery, but even moreso in mind and virtue of soul. A favourite of Ol'gerd, he could count on an excellent future. But one time he also like the martyred brothers refused to eat meat at the festal table. Saint Eustathii openly declared, that he was a Christian and would not eat meat because of the Nativity fast. Hereupon they began to beat him with iron rods, but the youth let out not a groan. The prince tried refining the torture. There was a bitter frost. Ol'gerd gave orders to strip the martyr naked, take him out on the street and to pour icy water in his mouth. But this did not break the spirit of the saint. Then they broke his ankle-bones, and tore off from his head the hair with the skin and cut off his ears and nose. Saint Eustathii endured the torments with such gladness and courage, that the very torturers themselves were astounded by this Divine power, which strengthened him. After the torture the martyr Eustathii was sentenced to death and hung on that oak (+ 13 December 1347), where earlier Saints John and Antonii received a martyr's death.

During the course of 3 days it was not permitted to take down the body of the martyr, and a column of cloud protected it from birds and beasts of prey. A church was afterwards built on the hill where the holy martyrs suffered. The trinity of venerable passion-bearers glorified the True God worshipped in the Holy Trinity, Father and Son and Holy Spirit -- wherefore the church was consecrated in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity. The prestol' (altar-table) was secured on the base of the sacred oak, on which the martyrs accepted death. Soon their relics were uncovered undecayed. Already in the year 1364 the Constantinople Patriarch Philotheos (1354-1355, 1362-1376) sent to the Monk Sergei of Radonezh (+ 1392, Comm. 25 September) a cross with the relics of the holy martyrs. The Church established the celebration of memory of all three martyrs on a single day, 14 April.

The act of the holy martyrs held immense significance for all the Western frontier. Vilensk monastery in the Name of the Holy Trinity, at which the holy relics are kept, became a stronghold of Orthodoxy and peace on this frontier. In the year 1915 during the invasion of the Germans, these relics as very precious in the Baltic frontier were taken to the heart of Russia -- Moscow.

Within the memory of believers at Vilnius and to this day there live sorrowful recollections about parting from the holy martyrs and joyful memories -- about the solemn meeting of the relics of the holy passion-bearers in 1946 at the Vilensk Holy-Spirit monastery. The date of their return -- 13 (26) July -- from that time is solemnly noted annually at the monastery.

The Holy Martyr Ardalion

The Holy Martyr Ardalion accepted death for Christ under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). Saint Ardalion was a talented mimic actor.

One time at the circus he played the rolé of a christian. The actor, on the intent of the play-author, was to at first refuse to offer sacrifice to idols, but later to consent to renounce Christ. Along the course of the action they suspended him upon a wooden torture device and tore at him with iron hooks. He so naturally depicted the suffering, that the spectators were delighted and loudly declared their praise of his artistry. Suddenly the saint ordered all to be quiet and declared, that he actually was a Christian and did not renounce the Lord. The governor of the city tried to explain the matter thus, that Saint Ardalion was continuing to play the rolé, and at the end of the show he would renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the gods. But Saint Ardalion continued to confess his faith in Christ. Then the governor gave orders to throw the martyr onto a red-hot iron-pan. Thus did Saint Ardalion merit a martyr's crown.

The Holy Martyr Christophoros Savvaites

The Holy Martyr Christophoros Savvaites was murdered by Saracens in the VIII Century in Palestine.

April 15

The Holy Disciples Aristarchus, Pudas and Trophymos

The Holy Disciples Aristarchus, Pudas and Trophymos were from among the Seventy Disciples, whom the Lord Jesus Christ had sent before him with the good-news of the Gospel (Lk. 10: 1-24).

The holy Disciple Aristarchus, a co-worker of the holy Apostle Paul, became bishop of the Syrian city of Apameia. His name is repeatedly mentioned in the book of the Acts of the Holy Apostles (Acts 19: 29, 20: 4, 27: 2) and in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul (Col. 4: 10, Philemon 1: 24).

The holy Disciple Pudas is mentioned in the 2nd Epistle of the Apostle Paul to Timothy (2 Tim. 4: 21). He occupied high position as a member of the Roman Senate. At his home the saint took in the First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul, and believing Christians gathered. His house was converted into a church, receiving the name "Pastorum". In it, according to tradition, the holy Apostle Peter himself served as priest.

The holy Disciple Trophymos hailed from the city of Edessa. His name is mentioned in the book of the Acts of the Holy Apostles (Acts 20: 4) and in the 2nd Epistle of the Apostle Paul to Timothy (2 Tim. 4: 20). He was a student and companion of the holy Apostle Paul, sharing with him all the sorrows and persecution.

All these three holy disciples accepted a martyr's death at Rome under the emperor Nero (54-68), concurrent with that of the Apostle Paul ( c. 67).

The Holy Women Martyrs Basilissa and Anastasia

The Holy Women Martyrs Basilissa and Anastasia lived in Rome and were enlightened with the light of the Christian faith by the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. They devoted themselves to the service of the Lord. When the emperor Nero (54-68) persecuted Christians and gave them over to torture and execution, Saints Basilissa and Anastasia intrepidly took up the bodies of the holy martyrs and gave them reverent burial. Rumours about this reached Nero. Saints Basilissa and Anastasia were then locked up in prison. They subjected them to cruel tortures: they scourged them with whips, tore at their skin with hooks, and burned at them with fire. But the holy martyresses remained unyielding and bravely confessed their faith in Christ the Saviour. By command of Nero they were beheaded with the sword (+ c. 68).

The Holy Martyr Sukhios

The Holy Martyr Sukhios and his 16 Gruzian (Georgian) Companions were illustrious dignitaries who served at the court of the Albanian (Hagbanite) ruler (i.e. "Caucasian Albania" -- a realm on the present day territory of Azerbaizhan).

Escorting the Albanian ruler's daughter Satenika, spouse of the Armenian emperor Artaxar (88-123), Saint Sukhios and his 16 Companions arrived in Artashat, the ancient capital of Armenia (the city was later destroyed by the Romans in the year 163). Preaching there at the time was the Greek Christian named Chrysos, who had been enlightened and ordained by the holy Disciple Thaddeus (+ c. 44, Comm. 21 August). The dignitaries came to believe in Christ the Saviour, and they firmly resolved to devote all their life to the service of God. All seventeen of the newly-converted Gruzianians followed Chrysos into Mesopotamia. At the time of their Baptism in the waters of the Euphrates, made over them by Bishop Chrysos, they were vouchsafed to behold the Lord of Glory Jesus Christ.

At the place of their Baptism, the holy martyrs erected a venerable cross and named it the "Cross of the Annunciation". Bishop Chrysos at the Baptism gave all the saints new names: to the eldest -- Sukhios (replacing his old name Bagadras), and to his companions the names -- Andrew, Anastasias, Talale, Theodorites, Juhirodion, Jordan, Kondrates, Lukian, Mimnenos, Nerangios, Polyeuktos, James, Phoki, Domentian, Victor and Zosima.

After the martyr's death of Blessed Chrysos, Saint Sukhios became the spiritual leader of the brethren. All soon resettled in a wild locality on Mount Sukaketi, not far from the mountain village of Bagrevandi. Here the former dignitaries led very strict ascetic lives, the scant mountain vegetation sufficed them for food, and for drink -- a cold spring of water.

The new ruler of pagan Albania, Datianos, learned of this, that his former officials had accepted Christianity and had gone off into prayerful solitude. He commissioned his associate Barnapas with a detachment of soldiers to persuade them to return to court and return also to their former faith. Barnapas searched out Saint Sukhios and his companions, but in keeping of their vow of service to God, they refused all the entreaties.

Then by order of Barnapas, Saint Sukhios and his companions in cross-like form were nailed to the ground and consigned to burning. After the burning, their bodies were dismembered and scattered all about Mount Sukaketi, from which the martyrs received also the title the "Mesukevians" (more correctly -- "Sukaketians"). This occurred in the year 123 (by another account -- in the year 130; although an Athos parchment manuscript of the XI Century from the Iveria monastery indicates the year as 100).

The holy remains of the martyrs remained undecayed and unburied until the time of the IV Century, when they were placed in graves and consigned to earth by local Christians (the names of the holy martyrs were found written on a cliff).

The holy PriestMartyr Gregory, Enlightener of Armenia (+ c. 335, Comm. 30 September), built a church on this spot and established a monastery. And afterwards, a curative spring of water was discovered there.

The Holy Martyr Sava

The Holy Martyr Sava, by descent a Goth, lived during the IV Century. During these times bishop Wulfil preached Christianity among the Goths, and among the many baptised was also Saint Sava.

Having become a Christian, Sava led a virtuous life, devout, peaceful, temperate, plain, quiet (but indeed he had to be quiet with idol-worshippers), he shunned women, all his days he spent in prayer, while often he sang in church and concerned himself over its welfare. And he boldly preached Christianity.

The Gothic princes and judges, under the influence of the pagan priests, began a persecution against the Christians and began to demand that they taste of idol-offered meat. Many of the pagans, to safeguard the lives of their friends and kinsfolk who had accepted Christianity, substituted for them just ordinary meat in place of the idol-offerings. Certain of the Christians did agree to such a ruse, but Saint Sava refused and declared, that Christians ought openly to confess their faith. After this the inhabitants of the village, where Saint Sava lived, threw him out, but then asked him to return. When the persecution of Christians had intensified, the fellow villagers of Saint Sava decided to go to the judge and offer up an oath, that among them there were no Christians. Saint Sava thereupon in a loud voice declared: "Swear not for me, since I am a Christian". The inhabitants then went and gave an oath, that in their settlement was only one Christian. By order of the judge they brought Saint Sava to him. But the judge, seeing his poverty, decided that he could neither help nor hurt anyone, and so he set him free.

Meanwhile the persecution continued. Soon one of the Gothic military commanders, by the name of Atharid, descended upon the village at the time of the feast of Holy Pascha. Saint Sava had gotten ready to greet the Great Feast with bishop Guthik, but along the way an Angel returned him to his own village. Presbyter Sapsal had at this time returned there from Greece. Soldiers arrested the priest Sapsal and Saint Sava, whom they did not allow even to get dressed. The priest they conveyed on a cart, but Saint Sava unclad they led behind the cart through the thorns, and they beat at him with canes and switches. The Lord unseen preserved the martyr, such that in the morning when they reached the city, Saint Sava said to his oppressors: "Look ye on my body, see whether there be any traces of the thorns or of your blows?" The soldiers were astonished, seeing the martyr healthy and unharmed, without the slightest trace of the torments endured. Then they stretched out Saint Sava on the axles of a cart and they beat at him the whole day. During the night a certain pious woman got up to prepare the food for the household, and seeing the tied-up martyr, she set him free. He began to help her with the housework. During the day, by order of Atharid, they suspended Saint Sava from the cross-bean lintel of the house. They placed idol-offering meat beneathe both him and the priest and offered to set them free, if they should taste of it. The priest Sapsal replied: "We should the sooner agree, that Atharid crucify us, than that we taste of meat defiled by devils". Saint Sava asked: "Who hath sent this food?" "Master Atharid", -- answered the servant. "There be only one Master, -- God, Who is in Heaven", -- pronounced the martyr. In anger one of the servants powerfully struck Saint Sava in the chest with a spear. Everyone thought, that the martyr was dead, but the saint did not feel any sort of pain and said to the one who had struck him: "Thine blow was for me no stronger, than if thou hadst struck me with soft wool".

Atharid gave orders to put Saint Sava to death. They left the priest Sapsal tied up, and Saint Sava they led to the River Mussova to drown him. Along the way the saint joyfully gave thanks to God, that He had granted him to suffer for the confession of His Holy Name.

The servants during this while discussed among them: "Why should we not set free this man guiltless of anything? Atharid would not learn of this, that we had freed him". Saint Sava heard them and cried out: "Do what is commanded of ye! For I do see Angels coming with glory to take up mine soul!" They then threw the martyr into the river, having tied to his neck a large beam of wood.

Saint Sava suffered on 12 April in the year 372, when he was 38 years of age. The executioners dragged out the body of the martyr and threw it on shore, but Christians later hid it. And still later one of the Skythe leaders, the Christian Junius Saran, conveyed the relics of Saint Sava to Cappadocia, where they were reverently received by Saint Basil the Great (Comm. 1 January).

Holy Nobleborn GreatPrince Mstislav Vladimirovich

Holy Nobleborn GreatPrince Mstislav Vladimirovich (in Holy Baptism Theodore, or Feodor) was born on 1 June 1076. When he was all of 12 years old, his grandfather -- the Kiev GreatPrince Vsevolod (1078-1093), sent off his grandson to be prince of Novgorod. The Novgorod people loved the young prince. In 1995 they expelled prince David, who withdrew to Smolensk, and they went specially to Rostov seeking Prince Mstislav.

After the death of his grandfather, Saint Mstislav had occupied his appanage-land, the Rostov throne. At 19 years of age the young prince gained a brilliant victory over his uncle, the Chernigov prince Oleg. Prince Oleg had killed his brother Izyaslav and attacked Rostov and Suzdal', which belonged to Prince Mstislav.

The saint did not want to shed innocent blood. He wanted to make peace with his uncle, and he besought him to be satisfied with the rights to the city of Ryazan'. But Oleg had already gathered forces on a campaign against Novgorod. Prince Mstislav thereupon defeated him in a battle (1096) and Oleg, having lost out at Suzdal' and Rostov, barely managed to hold on at Murom. Saint Mstislav again offered peace and asked only for the return of captives. Oleg agreed under a ruse, and so Prince Mstislav dispersed his own army. On the feastday of the GreatMartyr Theodore of Tyre, on Saturday of the 1st Week of Great Lent, he was quietly sitting down at Suzdal' to eat, when messengers brought him word, that prince Oleg stood at the Klyaz'ma with an army. In one mere day Prince Mstislav regathered his army, and when his brother arrived 4 days later, he gave new battle. Oleg in fear fled to Ryazan', and Saint Mstislav set free the captives, went through the Murom lands and he then reconciled Oleg with GreatPrince Svyatopolk (1093-1114) and with his own father, Vladimir Monomakh.

Thankful for the mercy of God, the saint in 1099 made a pledge to build a temple in honour of the Annunciation of the MostHoly Mother of God at Gorodischa near Novgorod. And especially just for this church was written the reknown Mstislavovo Gospel, the precious adornments of which were wrought at Constantinople. In 1114 the saint pledged at Novgorod a church in the name of Saint Nicholas. This temple was in gratitude to Saint Nicholas for an healing. During the time of a grievous illness the prince had called out for help to Saint Nicholas, whose relics shortly before this had been transferred to Bari in Italy (1087, Comm. 9 May). Saint Nicholas in a vision gave orders to send to Kiev for his icon, indicating its form and measure. The people sent to bring back the icon found themselves detained on the Island of Lipna by a storm raging there on Lake Il'men. But on the 4th day they found in the water there that same circular icon, indicated in the vision. The sick prince gave kiss to the icon and received healing. And afterwards at the place of appearance of the icon, on the Island of Lipna, there was built a monastery with a stone church in the name of Saint Nicholas.

In 1116 the holy prince again campaigned against the Chud people, and after a victory he restored at Novgorod the fortress -- "he made guarantee of Novgorod the Great" -- and he built out more extensively the lodgings for the Novgorod principality. Then at his orders the posadnik-mayor Pavel situated a fortress at Lake Ladoga, where there was built a stone church in honour of the GreatMartyr George.

In 1117 GreatPrince Vladimir Monomakh (1114-1125) summoned his son to him as an assistant and transferred him to Belgorod. In 1123 holy Prince Mstislav confronted the Volynian prince Yaroslav, who was attempting to seize the Kiev principality by leading against Rus' a Polish and Hungarian army.

In 1125 GreatPrince Vladimir Monomakh died, and holy Prince Mstislav occupied the Kiev throne. During this time he gained a brilliant victory over the old enemies of Rus' -- the Polovetsians, driving them beyond the Volga. Those of the Polovetsian princes, who refused to ally with Mstislav, were dispatched to Greece. In 1127 Saint Mstislav gave an oath to defend the Chernigov prince Yaroslav, banished by a nephew. The clergy and all the people besought him not to spill Christian blood. The holy prince obeyed, but until the end of his life he bewailed, that he had violated his kissing of the cross in this oath.

In 1128 GreatPrince Mstislav set the foundations of a stone church in the name of the GreatMartyr Theodore of Tyre (his patron saint), in memory of a victory gained over the Chernigov prince Oleg. And in 1131, after a successful campaign against Lithuania, Saint Mstislav laid the foundations of a temple in honour of the Pirogoschsk Icon of the Mother of God.

Holy Prince Mstislav died on 14 April 1132 during the Paschal Week, and he was buried in the temple of the GreatMartyr Theodore, built by him.

The holy prince was venerated even during his earthly life. The copyist of the Mstislavovo Gospel called him noble and a lover of Christ. The preparer of the settings of the Mstislavovo Gospel, Naslav, wrote about him: "Much toil and tribulation I experienced. But God did comfort me through the prayer of the good prince... God grant his prayer for all Christians". The vita-life of the holy prince was set under 15 April in the Serbian Divine-service Prologue of the XIII-XIV Centuries. This Prologue was transcribed from the much earlier Bulgarian, the source for which was the Russian original. Likewise under 15 April appears the vita-life of Prince Mstislav in the Bulgarian Synaxarion of the year 1340. (Investigations have shown, that the source of this synaxarion was likewise Russian). In these Prologues the memory of holy Prince Mstislav was placed alongside such reknown Russian commemorations, as that of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles GreatPrincess Ol'ga (Comm. 11 July), and the holy Passion-Bearer Princes Boris and Gleb (Comm. 24 July). These facts testify to the wide veneration of holy Prince Mstislav in the Slavic lands.

Saint Paternus of Avranches

Saint Paternus of Avranches in Normandy (c. 482-565) was born around the year 482, although the exact year is unknown, in Poitiers, Poitou. He was born into a Christian family. His father Patranus went to Ireland to spend his days as a hermit in holy solitude. Because of this, Paternus embraced religious life. He became a monk at the Abbey of Marnes in France. Later on, St Paternus went to Wales where he built a monastery called Llanpatenvaur.[1] Before long, he wished to attain the perfection of Christian virtue by a life of penance in solitude. He went into solitude with his fellow monk, Saint Scubilion. The forest of Seicy in the diocese of Coutances was the place he became a hermit. At a later date, the abbot of the region who knew Paternus recommended him to the Bishop of Coutances and the bishop made him a priest in 512. Together with St Scubilion he evangelized the western coasts and established several monasteries of which he was made the abbot general.

April 16

The Holy Martyresses Agapia, Irene and Chionia

The Holy Martyresses Agapia, Irene and Chionia were sisters by birth and they lived at the end-III Century to beginning-IV Century, near the Italian city of Aquilea. They were left orphaned at an early age. The young women led a pious Christian life and they turned down many an offer of marriage. Their spiritual guide was the priest Xeno. It was revealed to him in a dream-vision, that at a very soon time he would die, and the holy virgins would suffer martyrdom. Situated also at Aquilea and having a similar vision was the GreatMartyress Anastasia (+ c. 304, Comm. 22 December), who is entitled "Alleviatrix-of-Captives" ("Uzoreshitel'nitsa") because that she fearlessly made visit to Christians locked up in prison, encouraging them and helping them. The GreatMartyress Anastasia made visit to the sisters and urged them to bravely endure for Christ. Soon what was predicted in the vision came to pass. The priest Xeno died, and the three virgins were arrested and brought to trial before the emperor Diocletian (284-305).

Seeing the youthful beauty of the sisters, the emperor urged them to recant from Christ and he promised to find them illustrious bridegrooms from his entourage. But the holy sisters answered, that they have only the Heavenly Bridegroom -- Christ, for the faith in Whom they were ready to suffer. The emperor demanded they renounce Christ, but neither the elder sisters, nor the youngest of them, would consent. They called the pagan gods mere idols, wrought by human hands, and they preached faith in the True God.

By order of Diocletian, who was setting off for Macedonia, the holy sisters were also to be conveyed there. And they brought them to the court of the governor Dulcetius.

When he saw the beauty of the holy martyresses, he was aroused with impure passion. He put the sisters under guard and he informed them, that they would receive their freedom, if they agreed to fulfill his desires. But the holy martyresses replied, that they were prepared to die for their Heavenly Bridegroom -- Christ. Then Dulcetius decided secretly by night to have his way by force. When the holy sisters arose at night and were glorifying the Lord in prayer, Dulcetius edged up to the door and wanted to enter. But an invisible force struck him, he lost his senses and staggered away. Unable to find his way out, the torturer on his way fell down in the kitchen amidst the cooking utensils, the pots and pans, and he was covered all over with soot. The servants and the soldiers recognised him only with difficulty. When he saw himself in a mirror, he then realised, that the holy martyresses had made a fool of him, and he decided to take his revenge on them.

At his court Dulcetius gave orders to strip bare the holy martyresses before him. But the soldiers, no matter how much they tried, were not able to do this: the clothing as it were clung to the bodies of the holy virgins. And during the time of trial Dulcetius suddenly fell asleep, and no one was able to rouse him. But just as they carried him into his house, he immediately awoke.

When they reported to the emperor Diocletian about everything that had happened, he became angry with Dulcetius and he gave the holy virgins over for trial to Sisinius. This one began his interrogation with the youngest sister, Irene. Having convinced himself of her unyielding, he despatched her to prison and then attempted to sway into renunciation Saints Chionia and Agapia. But these also it was impossible to sway into a renunciation of Christ, and Sisinius gave orders that Saints Agapia and Chionia be burned. The sisters upon hearing the sentence gave up thanks to the Lord for the crowns of martyrdom. And in the fire Agapia and Chionia prayerfully expired to the Lord.

When the fire went out, everyone saw, that the bodies of the holy martyresses and their clothing had not been scorched by the fire, and their faces were beautiful and peaceful, like people quietly asleep. On the day following Sisinius gave orders to bring Saint Irene to court. He threatened her with the fate of her older sisters and he urged her to renounce Christ, and then he began to threaten to hand her over for defilement in an house of ill repute. But the holy martyress answered: "Let my body be given over for forceful defilement, but my soul will never be defiled by renunciation of Christ".

When the soldiers of Sisinius led Saint Irene to the house of ill repute, two luminous soldiers overtook them and said: "Your master Sisinius commands you to take this virgin to an high mountain and leave her there, and then return to him and report to him about fulfilling the command". And the soldiers did so. When they reported back to Sisinius about this, he flew into a rage, since he had given no such orders. The luminous soldiers were Angels of God, saving the holy martyress from defilement. Sisinius with a detachment of soldiers set off to the mountain and saw Saint Irene on its summit. For a long while they searched for the way to the top, but they could not find it. Then one of the soldiers wounded Saint Irene with an arrow from his bow. The martyress cried out to Sisinius: "I do mock thine impotent malice, and pure and undefiled I do expire to my Lord Jesus Christ". Having given up thanks to the Lord, she lay down upon the ground and gave up her spirit to God, on the very day of Holy Pascha (+ 304).

The GreatMartyress Anastasia learned about the end of the holy sisters and reverently she buried their bodies.


The Nun Theodora of Nizhegorod

The Nun Theodora of Nizhegorod, in the world Anastasia (Vassa), was the daughter of the Tver' boyar-noble Ioann and his spouse Anna. She was born in the year 1331. At 12 years of age they gave her in marriage to the Nizhegorod prince Andrei Konstantinovich. after 12 years of childless married life, the prince died, having accepted monasticism (+ 2 June 1365). The holy princess continued to live in the world for another four years, and then she set free her servants, distributed off her substance and entered the Nizhegorod Zachat'ev monastery. She was tonsured by Sainted Dionysii, afterwards the archbishop of Suzdal' (+ 1385, Comm. 15 October and 26 June). In monastic life the saint often went without food for a day or two, and sometimes even five; her nights she spent in tearful prayers, and on her body she wore an hairshirt. She attained the gift of humility and love and she bore every abuse without malice. The example of the strict life of the Nun Theodora attracted others also: in her common-life monastery were tonsured princesses and boyaresses, and in all there about 100 sisters. The Nun Theodora died in the year 1378.

The Holy Martyr Michael Burliotes

The Holy Martyr Michael Burliotes was born in about the year 1754 into a farm family. the boy was raised piously, but his character was flawed.

The handsome and ruddy youth caught the attention of the owner of a coffee-house in the city of Smyrna. The Turk flattered him and urged him to accept Mahometanism, so as to work at the coffee-house. The youth consented and with delight he began his employment. But then came Holy Pascha, and he heard the triumphant song of Christians: "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tomb bestowing life!" With all his soul he sensed, that he also -- was of Christ, that the Lord was summoning him into His joy, and the youth went down to the singers, but he heard reproaches for his apostasy. "Tomorrow ye will see, what I am", -- he said sadly to the Christians.

He immediately set off to the Mussulman judge and asked, whether it was lawful to barter in exchange swine for gold? If the barter exchange were made by deceit, then could the defrauded take back the gold? "Both possible and lawful", -- answered the Mahometan judge. "If that is so, -- said Saint Michael, -- take back thine swine which thou didst give me for gold, -- take back thine faith and return me my gold -- the faith of my fathers". After these words the martyr openly confessed Jesus Christ as the True God, the Judge of both the living and the dead.

The Turks locked up the confessor in prison, and after two days they cut off his head (+ 1772). His body lay for three days without burial and remained without decay. The Turks threw it into the sea, but sailors took up the body and buried it at the church of Saint Photinia.

The Holy Martyr Leonides

The Holy Martyr Leonides and the Holy Martyresses Chariessa, Nika, Galina, Kalisa (Kalida), Nunekhia, Basilissa and Theodora suffered at Corinth in the year 258. They threw them into the sea, but they did not drown, and instead they walked upon the water as though upon dry land, singing spiritual hymns. The torturers overtook them in a ship, hung stones on their necks and drownded them.

The Holy Martyress Irene

The Holy Martyress Irene suffered in Greece in the year 258 on the day of Holy Pascha. She lived with other Christians in a cave and spent her time in constant prayer. Reported on by the pagans, Saint Irene was arrested by soldiers of the governor and locked up in prison. For her fearless confession of Christ as the True God, Saint Irene was cruelly tortured. They cut out her tongue, knocked out her teeth, and finally they beheaded her with the sword.

April 17

The PriestMartyr Simeon, Bishop of Persia

The PriestMartyr Simeon, Bishop of Persia, suffered during the time of a persecution against Christians under the Persian emperor Sapor II (310-381). He was the bishop of Seleucia -- Xeziphon. They accused the saint of being in collaboration with the Greek realm and of subversive activities against the Persian emperor.

In the year 344 the emperor issued an edict, which imposed a grievous tax upon Christians. When certain of them refused to pay it (this was fancied to be a rebellion), the emperor started a fierce persecution against Christians. They brought Saint Simeon to trial in iron fetters as a supposed enemy of the Persian realm, together with the two Presbyter-Martyrs Habdelai and Ananios. The holy bishop would not even bow to the emperor, who asked, why he would not show him the obligatory respect. The saint answered: "Earlier I did bow to thy dignity, but now, when I am led forth for this, to renounce my God and quit my faith, it doth not become me to bow to thee".

The emperor urged him to worship the sun, and in case of refusal he threatened to wipe out Christianity in the land. But neither urgings nor threats could shake the bravely steadfast saint, and they led him off to prison. Along the way the eunuch Usphazanes, a counsellor of the emperor, caught sight of the saint. He rose up and bowed to the bishop, but the saint turned away from him in reproach that he, a former Christian, out of fear of the emperor, now worshipped the sun. The eunuch repented with all his heart, he replaced his fine attire for coarse garb, and sitting at the doors of the court, he cried out bitterly: "Woe to me, when I stand before my God, from Whom I am cut off. Here -- was Simeon, and he hath turned his back on me!" The emperor Sapor learned about the grief of his beloved tutor and asked him what had happened. That one said openly to the emperor, that he bitterly regretted his apostasy and would no more worship the sun, but only the One True God. The emperor was surprised at such sudden decisiveness in the old man and he flatteringly urged him not to abjure the gods, whom their fathers had reverenced. But Usphazanes was unyielding, and they condemned him to death by execution. The only request of the Martyr Usphazanes was that the city heralds report, that he died not for crimes against the emperor, but for being a Christian. The emperor granted his request.

Saint Simeon also learned about the end of the Martyr Usphazanes and with tears he offered up thanks to the Lord. When they brought him a second time before the emperor, Saint Simeon again refused to worship the pagan gods and he confessed his faith in Christ. The enraged emperor gave orders, in front of the eyes of the saint, to behead all the Christians in the prison. Without fear the Christians went to execution, blessed by the sainted-hierarch, and they themselves put their heads beneathe the sword. Thus also was beheaded the companion of Saint Simeon, the Priest Habdelai. When the line reached down to the Priest Ananios, he suddenly trembled. Then one of the dignitaries, Saint Phusikos, a secret Christian, became frightened that Ananios would renounce Christ, and he cried out loudly: "Fear not, elder, the sight of the cutting, and thou immediately wilt see the Divine Light of our Lord Jesus Christ". By this outburst he betrayed himself. The emperor gave orders to pluck out the tongue of Saint Phusikos and to flay the skin from him. Together with Saint Phusikos was martyred his daughter, the Martyress Askitrea. Saint Simeon went last to the executioner and with a prayer he placed his head on the chopping-block (+ 13 April 344). The whole of the Paschal Week until 23 April executions continued. Also to accept a martyr's death was Saint Azates the Eunuch, a close official to the emperor. The sources indicate, that 1,000 Martyrs accepted suffering, and then still another 100 or 150 more.

The Monk Akakios, Bishop of Melitinea

The Monk Akakios, Bishop of Melitinea, was born into a pious family in the Armenian city of Melitinea. His parents for a long time were childless, and in praying for a son, they vowed to dedicate him to God. Therefore the lad Akakios was given over to the Melitinea bishop Ostrios for the service of the Church. Sainted Ostrios was a firm supporter of Orthodoxy. When the heresy of Macedonias arose, it was Saint Ostrios at the Second OEcumenical Council (381) that set forth the Orthodox teaching about the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Holy Trinity One-in-Essence and Undivided.

The sainted-hierarch with love raised Akakios, made him a reader, and then ordained him to the dignity of deacon and then to priest. Saint Akakios devoutly served the Church. He instructed both adults and children in the Holy Scripture, and in the Orthodox Confession of faith.

Among his students was such a luminary of the Church as the Monk Euthymios the Great (Comm. 20 January).

After the death of Saint Ostrios, by general acclamation Saint Akakios was elevated to the bishop's throne of Melitinea. He wisely governed his diocese. By his firm faith, humility and deeds, the saint acquired the gift of wonderworking. One time, when during a dry Summer the saint made Liturgy in an open field, the wine in the Holy Chalice was mixed suddenly by the falling rain, which fell throughout all the land. Through his prayer during a time of flooding an advancing river flowed off and did not come higher than the stone which he had placed at the riverbank. On one of the islands of the River Azar, despite the opposition of the pagans, the saint built a temple in honour of the MostHoly Mother of God. The builders of the church either through carelessness or through malice defectively built the dome. During the time of Liturgy the dome gave way and was ready to collapse. The people in terror rushed out of the church. But the saint halted the fleeing with the exclamation: "The Lord is Defender of my life, of what shalt I be afraid?" (Ps. 26 [27]: 1). The dome remained as though suspended in the air. Only when the Divine-services were ended, and the saint was the last one to emerge from the church, did the dome collapse, causing harm to no one. After this the church was rebuilt again.

Sainted Akakios was a participant in the Third Ecumenical Council (431) and he defended the Orthodox Confession of the Two Natures (Divine and Human) of the Saviour, and of His Birth without seed from the MostHoly Virgin Mother of God. Saint Akakios peacefully expired to the Lord in about the year 435.

The Monk Zosima, Hegumen of Solovetsk

The Monk Zosima, Hegumen of Solovetsk, a great luminary of the Russian North, was the founder of monastic common-life on Solovetsk Island. He was born in Novgorod diocese, in the village of Tolvui near Lake Onega. From his early years he was raised in piety, and after the death of his parents Gavriil and Varvara he gave away his possessions and accepted monastic tonsure.

In search of a solitary place the monk set off to the shores of the White Sea and at the mouth of the Suma he met the Monk German (Comm. 30 July), who told him about a desolate sea island, where formerly he had spent six years with the Monk Savvatii (Comm. 27 September).

In about the year 1436 the hermits, felicitously having made the sea voyage, landed at the Solovetsk islands. God blessed the place of their settlement with a vision to the Monk Zosima of a beautiful church in the sky. The monks with their own hands built cells and an enclosure, and they began to cultivate and sow the land. One time in late Autumn the Monk German set off to the mainland for necessary provisions. Because of the Autumn weather he was not able to return. The Monk Zosima remained all Winter alone on the island. He suffered many a temptation in struggle with the devils. Death by starvation threatened him, but miraculously two strangers having appeared left him a supply of bread, flour and oil. In Spring the Monk German returned to Solovetsk together with the fisherman Mark, and he brought supplies of food and rigging-tackle for fish nets.

When several hermits had gathered on the island, the Monk Zosima constructed for them a small wooden church in honour of the Transfiguration (Preobrazhenie) of the Lord, together with a refectory. At the request of the Monk Zosima, an hegumen was sent from Novgorod to the newly formed monastery with antimins for the church. Thus occurred the start of the reknown Solovetsk monastery. In the severe conditions of the remote island the monks knew how to arrange their economy. But the hegumens, sent from Novgorod to Solovetsk, could not withstand life in the unwontedly harsh conditions, and so the brethren chose as hegumen the Monk Zosima.

The Monk Zosima concerned himself with the building up of the inner life of the monastery, and he introduced a strict life-in-common. In 1465 he transferred to Solovetsk from the River Vyg the relics of the Monk Savvatii. The monastery suffered vexation from the Novgorod boyars (nobles), who confiscated catches of fish from the monks. The monk was obliged to set off for Novgorod and seek the protection of the archbishop. On the advice of the archbishop, he made the rounds of homes of the boyars and requested them not to allow the ruin of the monastery. The influential and rich boyarina Martha Boretskaya impiously gave orders to throw out the Monk Zosima, but then repented her action and invited him to a meal, during the time of which he suddenly beheld, that six of the illustrious boyars sat without their heads. The Monk Zosima told about this vision to his disciple Daniel and predicted for the boyars an immanent death. The prediction was fulfilled in the year 1478, when during the taking of Novgorod by Ivan III (1462-1505) the boyars were executed.

Shortly before death the monk prepared himself a grave, in which he was buried beyond the altar of the Transfiguration church (+ 17 April 1478). Later on, over his relics was built a chapel. His relics together with the relics of the Monk Savvatii were transferred on 8 August 1566 into a chapel consecrated in their memory at the Transfiguration cathedral.

Many a miracle was witnessed to, when the Monk Zosima with the Monk Savvatii appeared to fishermen perishing in the depths of the sea. The Monk Zosima is likewise a patron of bee-keeping and preserver of bee-hives, and to him is even bestown the title "Bee-keeper" ("Pchel'nik"). To the Monk Zosima often hasten those in sickness. The many hospital churches dedicated to him testify to the great curative power of his prayer before God.

The Monk Alexander of Svirsk

The Monk Alexander of Svirsk died on 30 August 1533. His incorrupt relics were uncovered in the year 1641 during re-construction of the Transfiguration cathedral. The account about the Monk Alexander is located under 30 August.

The Holy Martyr Adrian

The Holy Martyr Adrian suffered during the time of the reign of the emperor Decius (249-251). They had locked him up in prison. During the time of a pagan feast they brought out all the imprisoned Christians so that they should offer sacrifice to the idols. They ordered Saint Adrian to throw on the sacrifice some aromatic resin. But the holy martyr rushed at the laid-out sacrificial offering, scattered the fire and wrecked the sacrifice. The pagans in a rage flung themselves upon him, beating at him with canes and iron rods, striking at him with stones, and they then threw him into a red-hot fire (+ 251).

Sainted Agapitus, Pope of Rome

Sainted Agapitus, Pope of Rome, was a zealous adherent of Orthodoxy. By his pious life he won the general esteem and was elevated to the papal throne in the year 535.

The Gothic king Theodoric the Great dispatched Pope Agapitus to Constantinople for peace negotiations. Along the way Saint Agapitus encountered a lame and speechless man. He healed him from his lameness, and after partaking the Holy Mysteries the mute one spoke. At Constantinople the saint healed a blind beggar.

In Constantinople at this time was convened the Local Church-Council. Saint Agapitus took part in it and zealously defended the Orthodox teaching against the heretic Severus, who taught, that the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ was subject to decay similar to every man's body.

Saint Agapitus died at Constantinople in the year 536.

St. Donnan, Abbot of Eigg

St. Donnan, Abbot of Eigg, and St. Donnan of Auchterless are regarded by both the Bollandists and Dempster as different personages, but there is so much confusion in their chronology and repetition in what is known of them, that it seems more probable that they were identical. Reeves (Adamnan's Life of St. Columba), moreover, accepts them as the same without discussion. According to Irish annals St. Donnan was a friend and disciple of St. Columba, who followed him from Ireland to Scotland toward the end of the sixth century. Seeking a solitary retreat, he and his companions settled on the island of Eigg, off the west coast of Scotland, then used only to pasture sheep belonging to the queen of the country. Informed of this invasion, the queen ordered that all should forthwith be slain. Her agents, probably a marauding band of Picts, or pirates according to one account, arrived during the celebration of Mass on Easter eve. Being requested to wait until the Sacrifice was concluded, they did so, and then St. Donnan and his fifty-one companions gave themselves up to the sword. This was in 617. Reeves mentions eleven churches dedicated to St. Donnan; in that at Auchterless his pastoral staff was preserved up to the Reformation and is said to have worked miracles. The island of Eigg was still Catholic in 1703 and St. Donnan's memory venerated there (Martin, Journey to the Western Islands, London, 1716).

April 18

Saint Basil Ratishvili

Saint Basil Ratishvili, one of the most prominent figures of the 13th-century Church, was the uncle of Catholicos Ekvtime III. He labored with the other Georgian fathers at the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos. Endowed with the gift of prophecy, St. Basil beheld a vision in which the Most Holy Theotokos called upon him to censure King Demetre’s impious rule. (This is actually St. Demetre the Devoted, who in his youth lived profligately but later laid down his life for his nation.)

Having arrived in Georgia and been brought before the king, the God-fearing father denounced the sovereign’s uncrowned marriage [i.e., a conjugal union without the blessing of the Church]. He promised the king that if he abandoned his present way of life, he would find great happiness and success. St. Basil also condemned the ungodly ways of Georgia’s apostate feudal lords.

But the king and his court disregarded the virtuous elder’s admonitions, and in response St. Basil prophesied: “A vicious enemy will kill you, and your kingdom will remain without refuge. Your children will be scattered, your kingdom conquered, and all your wealth seized. Know that, according to the will of the Most Holy Theotokos, everything I have told you will come to pass unless you repent and turn from this way of life. Now I will depart from you in peace.”

St. Basil returned to Mt. Athos and peacefully reposed at the Iveron Monastery. His vision was fulfilled.

The Monk John

The Monk John was born at the end of the VIII Century. At a young age he became a disciple of the Monk Gregory Dekapolites (+ c. 820, Comm. 20 November) and accepted monastic tonsure from him at the Soluneia (Thessalonika) monastery. Under the guidance of this experienced teacher, the Monk John attained to high spiritual accomplishment.

When the emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820) renewed the persecution against Orthodox Christians because of their veneration of holy icons, the Monk Gregory Dekapolites together with the Monk Joseph the Writer of Church-Song (+ c. 863, Comm. 4 April) and his student the Monk John set off from Soluneia to Constantinople, to muster opposition to the Iconoclast heresy. In spite of persecution, for several years Saints Gregory and John fearlessly defended Orthodoxy, and preached veneration of holy icons. After many hardships the Monk Gregory died (in about the year 820), and soon after him his faithful student John also expired to the Lord. The Monk Joseph the Song-Writer transferred the relics of Saints Gregory and John and placed them in a church of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker.

The Holy Martyrs Victor, Zoticus, Acindinus, Xeno, Severian and Caesarius

The Holy Martyrs Victor, Zoticus, Acindinus, Xeno, Severian and Caesarius suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). When he began a fierce persecution against Christians, one of the first to suffer was the holy GreatMartyr and Victory-Bearer George (+ 303, Comm. 23 April). Saint George's unshakable faith and bravery during the time of his suffering led many pagans to Christ. The saints were struck with astonishment that Saint George suffered no harm from the tortuous wheel, and they declared within earshot of all, that they too did believe in Christ. By order of the judge the holy martyrs were beheaded at Nicomedia (+ 303).

Sainted Kozma, Bishop of Chalcedon

Sainted Kozma, Bishop of Chalcedon, and his companion the Monk Auxentios, lived during the IX Century, at a time when the Iconoclasts oppressed the adherents of Orthodoxy. Saint Kozma while still in his youth had withdrawn to a monastery and accepted monastic tonsure. Afterwards he was ordained to the dignity of bishop of Chalcedon and he zealously defended the Orthodox faith against the Iconoclast heretics. The Monk Auxentios was an helper to the saint in this struggle.

The Iconoclasts tried in manifold ways to sway the saint over to their side, but he remained faithful to Orthodoxy to the very end. Saint Kozma did not obey the decree of the emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820) about the discarding of holy icons from the churches. For this he was expelled from his cathedra-seat and exiled to prison. When the saint returned from exile, he continued with Saint Auxentios to defend the veneration of holy icons. At the mitigation of the persecution, Saint Kozma was weak in body, but remained all the more strong in spirit. Sainted Kozma (+ c. 815-820) and the Monk Auxentios to their very end steadfastly preserved the Orthodox faith.

The Holy Martyr John Kulikos

The Holy Martyr John Kulikos was born in the Greek district of Epirus, in the city of Ianina. His parents were pious, but he was orphaned at an early age, and he set off to Constantinople. Of the means left him by his parents, he built a small stall in the city bazaar and was occupied with trade.

He loved to work, he honourably filled all his orders, and his business was successful. But the soul of the saint yearned not for earthly blessing, but for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Saint John lived during difficult times. Constantinople was under the dominion of the Turks, and Christians were subjected to oppressions. Many a Christian tradesman and merchant went over to Mahometanism. Saint John reproached them for their betrayal of Christ and he sustained also the unwavering in their faith. The apostates were thus filled with hatred towards Saint John and they desired his ruin. The saint knew this, but was not afraid: in his soul grew the yearning to suffer for the faith in Christ.

On Great Friday he went to his spiritual father and asked blessing for the deed of martyrdom. The priest counselled the youth to examine himself and to prepare himself for the deed by fasting and prayer, so that at the time of torture he would not abjure Christ. Saint John prayed ardently to the Lord to strengthen his powers. At night on Great Saturday he saw himself in a dream, standing in a fiery furnace and singing praise to the Lord. Interpreting this vision as an indication to go to martyrdom, Saint John received the Holy Mysteries and asked of the priest blessing to enter into the act of martyrdom.

When Saint John arrived at the market, vexed tradesmen there began to reproach him that he had promised to renounced Christ, but that he was not fulfilling his given word. In answer to this the martyr in earshot of all declared, that he was a Christian and had never renounced nor would he ever renounce Christ. Then the envious had him arrested. The judge tried to persuade Saint John to go over to Mahometanism, since he esteemed him as a skilled and respected master-craftsman. But the martyr steadfastly confessed himself a Christian. Over the course of several days they wearied him with hunger and thirst, and beat him without mercy. They sentenced the martyr to burning in a bon-fire. Saint John met his sentence with joy. When they led him to the blazing bon-fire, he went boldly into the very midst of the flames. The torturers, seeing that Saint John was readied to be burnt in the bon-fire, pulled him out and beheaded him with the sword (+ 1526). They then threw the head and body of the martyr into the bon-fire.

Christians gathered up the bones of the martyr which remained from the fire, and reverently they transferred them to the cathedral church.

The Monks Evthymii, Antonii (Anthony) and Felix

The Monks Evthymii, Antonii (Anthony) and Felix started their ascetic deeds in the Karelian land in about the year 1410. The Monk Evthymii founded the Karelian Nikolaev monastery. But scarcely had he succeeded in building a church in the name of Saint Nicholas and several cells, when in 1419 Norwegians descended upon the monastery, burnt the church and killed several of the monks. The Monk Evthymii again set about construction.

The boyarina-noble Martha asked prayers at the monastery for her sons who died in 1418 (they were the sons of the Novgorod posadnitsa-mayoress Martha's first husband, Philip Vasil'evich). Exploring their land, the young brothers perished at the mouth of the North Dvina River, and they were buried at the Karelian Nikolaev monastery. In life they were distinguished for their works of charity. In the manuscripts of the Saints of the Karelian monastery their names were entered into the ranks of the Saints. Over the graves of the holy brothers was built a chapel, and in the year 1719 -- a church in honour of the Meeting (Sretenie) of the Lord. The Monk Evthymii was glorified by his apostolic labours in the enlightening of the Karelian peoples. He died in the year 1435, and in 1647 his relics were uncovered. There is a service to the Monks Evthymii, Antonii and Felix. The memory of the monk Evthymii in the "Iconographic Originals" is placed also under 20 January because of his name-in-common with the Monk Euthymios the Great.

St. Laserian

Bishop and papal legate, brother of St. Goban, also listed as Molaisse. Laserian was born in Ireland and was a monk on lona, Scotland. He went to Rome and was ordained by Pope St. Gregory I the Great. Returning to Ireland, Laserian supported Roman liturgical images, and he went back to Rome with a group to have Pope Honorius I settle the dispute. Laserian was made a bishop and papal legate to Ireland. In 637, he succeeded his brother, St. Goban, as abbot of Leighlin.

April 19

St. Matrona of Moscow

Matrona was born in 1881 into a poor family in the village of Sebino-Epifaniskaya (now Kimovski) in the Tula region of Russia. Blind from birth, she bore her infirmity with humility and patience, and God made her a vessel of grace. At the moment of her baptism, the priest saw a cloud above the child, which shed forth a sweet fragrance as a sign of divine favor. From the age of six or seven, she exhibited an extraordinary gift of insight, discerning sicknesses of soul and body in the many people who visited her, revealing to them their secret sins and their problems, and healing them through prayer and wise counsel. Around the age of fourteen, she made a pilgrimage to the great holy places in Russia along with a devout benefactress. When they arrived at Kronstadt to receive the blessing of St. John, they became lost in the crowd. St. John suddenly cried out, “Matrona, come here! She will be my heir, and will become the eighth pillar of Russia.” At that time, no one understood the meaning of this prophecy.

When she turned seventeen, Matrona became paralyzed and was unable to walk from then on. Knowing that this was God’s will, she never complained but thanked the Lord. For the rest of her life – over fifty years – she lived in a room filled with icons, sitting cross legged on her bed. With a radiant face and a quiet voice, she received all who came to seek divine consolation through her presence. She foretold the great misfortunes that were to sweep down upon the country after the Bolshevik revolution, placing her gift of insight at the service of the people of God. One day when some visitors commiserated with her about her disablement, she replied: “A day came on which God opened my eyes, and I saw the light of the sun, the stars and all that exists in the world: the rivers, the forests, the sea and the whole of creation.”

In 1925 she left her village to settle in Moscow and, after her mother’s death in 1945, she moved frequently, welcomed secretly into the houses of the faithful. This was because the Communists, fearing her influence among the people, wanted to arrest her. But, every time, she had advance knowledge, and when the police arrived they learned that she had moved an hour or two earlier. One day, when a policeman arrived to arrest her, she advised him to return home as quickly as possible, promising him that she would not escape. When the man arrived home, he discovered that his wife was on fire, and was just in time to take her to the hospital.

St. Matrona led an ascetic life on her bed of pain. She fasted constantly, slept little, her head resting on her chest, and her forehead was dented by the innumerable signs of the Cross that she made. Not only the Muscovites but also people from afar, of all ages and conditions, thronged around her to ask her advice and her prayers. In this way she truly became the support of afflicted people, especially during World War II. To those who came to ask her for news of their relatives in battle, she reassured some and counseled others to hold memorial services. She spoke to some directly, and to others in parables, having in view their spiritual edification and recommending them to keep the Church’s laws, to marry in the Church and to regularly attend Confession and take Communion. When the sick and possessed were brought to her, she placed her hands on their heads, saying several prayers or driving the demons out with authority, always insisting that she was doing nothing of herself but that God was healing by her mediation. When asked why the Church was undergoing such great persecutions, she replied that it was because of the sins of the Christians and their lack of faith. “All the peoples who have turned away from God have disappeared from off the face of the earth,” she affirmed. “Difficult times are our lot, but we Christians must choose the Cross. Christ has placed us on His sleigh, and he will take us where He will.”

Having foretold the day of her death, she gave instructions for her funeral. Before falling asleep in peace on April 19, 1952, she cried out, “Come close, all of you, and tell me of your troubles as though I were alive! I’ll see you, I’ll hear you, and I’ll come to your aid.” Miracles were multiplied at her tomb and, ever since her translation to the women’s monastery of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God (March 13, 1998), the faithful who, in their thousands, line up to venerate Moscow’s new protectress, turn to her icon and bring her their various problems as though St. Matrona were alive in front of them.

St. Alphege

Archbishop and "the First Martyr of Canterbury." He was born in 953 and became a monk in the Deerhurst Monastery in Gloucester, England, asking after a few years to become a hermit. He received permission for this vocation and retired to a small hut near Somerset, England. In 984 Alphege assumed the role of abbot of the abbey of Bath, founded by St. Dunstan and by his own efforts. Many of his disciples from Somerset joined him at Bath. In that same year, Alphege succeeded Ethelwold as bishop of Winchester. He served there for two decades, famed for his care of the poor and for his own austere life. King Aethelred the Unready used his abilities in 994, sending him to mediate with invading Danes. The Danish chieftain Anlaf converted to Christianity as a result of his meetings with Alphege, although he and the other chief, Swein, demanded tribute from the Anglo-Saxons of the region. Anlaf vowed never to lead his troops against Britain again. In 1005 Alphege became the successor to Aleric as the archbishop of Canterbury, receiving the pallium in Rome from Pope John XVIII. He returned to England in time to be captured by the Danes pillaging the southern regions. The Danes besieged Canterbury and took Alphege captive. The ransom for his release was about three thousand pounds and went unpaid. Alphege refused to give the Danes that much, an act which infuriated them. He was hit with an ax and then beaten to death. Revered as a martyr, Alphege's remains were placed in St. Paul's Church in London. The body, moved to Canterbury in 1023, was discovered to be incorrupt in 1105. Relics of St. Alphege are also in Bath, Glastonbury, Ramsey, Reading, Durham, Yorkminster and in Westminster Abbey. His emblem is an ax, and he is depicted in his pontifical vestments or as a shepherd defending his flock.

The Monk John of the Old-Cave

The Monk John of the Old-Cave is called such because he asceticised during the VIII Century in the Laura of the Monk Chariton (+ 450, Comm. 28 September). This was called the "Old", or ancient one, as among the oldest of Palestinian monasteries. The Laura was situated not far from Bethlehem, near the Dead Sea. Saint John in his early years left the world, went to venerate at the holy places of Jerusalem and settled at the Laura, where he attained high spiritual accomplishment. He was ordained to the dignity of presbyter and glorified by his ascetic life.

The Holy Martyrs Christopher, Theon and Antoninus

The Holy Martyrs Christopher, Theon and Antoninus were spearsmen-soldiers of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They were present at the sufferings of the GreatMartyr George (Comm. 23 April), they beheld the miracles accomplished by the power of God, and they witnessed the faith and unshakable courage of Saint George. The soldiers came to believe in the Saviour, threw down their golden military belts and afront of the emperor declared themselves Christians. They were immediately thrown into prison. The next day the emperor began to urge the former soldiers to renounce Christ, but they firmly confessed their faith and glorified the Saviour as the True God. The emperor gave orders to beat the martyrs with iron rods and to lacerate their bodies with hooks. The holy martyrs endured all the torments and remained unyielding. Then Diocletian gave orders to burn them. The martyr's death of Saints Christopher, Theon and Antoninus occurred in the year 303.

The Monk Nicephoros

The Monk Nicephoros was born at Constantinople into a rich and illustrious family. His parents, Andrew and Theodora, raised their son in the Christian faith. After their death, young Nicephoros distributed all his wealth to the poor and set off to Chalcedon. The strict manner of monastic life at the monastery of Saint Andrew appealed to Nicephoros, and he remained amidst the brethren there.

From the very start the monk displayed an unusual fervour in prayer and at work. He had such strength of endurance at asceticism, that soon the hegumen sent the saint to a Phoenician island for preaching faith in Christ, and he was made hegumen of a monastery in honour of the MostHoly Mother of God.

The Monk Nicephoros dwelt on the island for thirty-three years and he brought many pagans to Christ. On the place of a pagan-temple on the island was built a church of God.

Sensing the approach of death, the monk gave orders to carry him to a ship and said to the ship-captain: "Take care, since I do expire to the Lord, but carry off my body to Chalcedon to the monastery of Saint Andrew". With these words he died. The ship made fine voyage to Chalcedon, and the brethren of the monastery of Saint Andrew reverently buried the body of the holy ascetic.

The Monk Simeon the Bare-Foot

The Monk Simeon the Bare-Foot (Bosoi) was the son of a priest. At 15 years of age he came under the spiritual guidance of the bishop of Demetriada (Laryssa diocese), Pakhomios, who gave him monastic vows and ordained him to monk-deacon. In order to better learn strict monastic life, Saint Simeon soon withdrew to a monastery near Mount Olympos, and from there he settled on Holy Mount Athos, at the Laura of Saint Athanasias. By his humility and zealous obedience he there gained the respect of the brethren and was ordained to priest-monk. When the monk transferred to the Philotheon monastery, he intensified his God-pleasing-toil, he became an example for the brethren, gained their overall love and was unanimously chosen as head of this monastery. Afterwards, through the sly cunning of the enemy of good, Saint Simeon had to put up with unjust grumbling on the part of weak-souled monks. Leaving it to the will of God to bring judgement upon the culprits, Saint Simeon quit the monastery and withdrew to Mount Phlamuria. There, in solitude and quiet, without roof nor fire, in old clothing, and almost without food, in constant prayer either standing or on bended-knees, the holy hermit carried on the inner struggle. After three years certain God-loving people came upon him, and inspired with reverence for his lifestyle, they besought him to accept them to live with him.

After seven years by the efforts and zeal of Saint Simeon a whole monastery was formed. A church was built in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity, wherein the monk made daily Divine liturgy. When the life of the brethren in the wilderness monastery had been put in order, the wise servant left the monastery and began to preach the Word of God in Epirus, Thessaly and Athens. By his instructions and teaching the saint affirmed the wavering in their faith, those in error he set aright on the way to salvation, the strong in their faith he made even stronger, and he taught al to love one another, and to observe Sundays and feastdays with a visit to the churches of God.

The boldness of the holy confessor aroused the wicked malice of the opponents of the Christian faith. In the city of Euripa they slandered the Monk Simeon in front of the city-governor, Ayan, accusing him of making a Turk accept Christianity. The saint was arrested and sentenced to public burning. But the providence of God did not permit of the culmination of the injustice. At the interrogation where the condemned one had been led to in shackles, barefoot (bosoi) and in an old ryasa, Saint Simeon -- inspired by the Holy Spirit -- so wisely gave answer to the governor, that Ayan was not able to impose the death sentence. The saint received his freedom and continued with his efforts, sealing the preaching of Christianity by healings and miracles. Many followed after the Monk Simeon and entrusted themselves into full obedience to him. Everyone he accepted, he gave blessing for the monastic life and sent them on to his monastery. The work of Saint Simeon finished at Constantinople. He peacefully expired to the Lord and was buried reverently by the patriarch himself at Chalkas, in a church in honour of the MostHoly Mother of God. After 2 years, when the monks of the Phlamuria monastery decided to transfer his holy relics to the monastery, and the grave with his body was opened, fragrance wafted forth and here already began healings.

The Vita and the Service to the Monk Simeon were published at Smyrna in the year 1646.

The PriestMartyr Paphnutios of Jerusalem

The PriestMartyr Paphnutios of Jerusalem was a bishop. He underwent many sufferings from the pagans and was tortured by fire, by beasts, and finally was beheaded by the sword.

Some suggest, that the PriestMartyr Paphnutios was an Egyptian bishop and suffered together with many other Egyptians, exiled to the Palestinian mines during the persecution by Diocletian (284-305).

The myrh-flowing relics of the priest-martyr were glorified by miracles. The kanon to him was compiled during the Iconoclast period (pre-842). In the final ode to him is done a petition about the aid of the priest-martyr in putting an end to the heresy disrupting the Church.

Sainted George the Confessor, Bishop of Pisidian Antioch

Sainted George the Confessor, Bishop of Pisidian Antioch, lived during the Iconoclast period. In his youth he became a monk, was known for his holiness of life and was made bishop of Pisidian Antioch.

During the time of persecution against holy icons under the emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820), Saint George was at Constantinople and at a Council of bishops he denounced the Iconoclast heresy, calling on the emperor to forsake it. When Saint George refused to remove the icons from the church by decree of the emperor, he was exiled to imprisonment (+ c. 813-820).

Sainted Tryphonos, Patriarch of Constantinople

Sainted Tryphonos, Patriarch of Constantinople, was from his youthful years a monk, distinguished by his meekness, lack of malice, full submission to the will of God, firm faith and love for the Church. At this time in Byzantium ruled the emperor Romanos (919-944), who wanted to raise up onto the patriarchal throne his younger son Theophylaktos. When Patriarch Stephanos (925-928) died, Theophylaktos was only 16 years old. The emperor then suggested to the Monk Tryphonos to be a "locum tenens" of the patriarchal throne until the coming of age of Theophylaktos.

The Monk Tryphonos meekly accepted upon himself the burden of patriarchal service and over the course of three years he wisely governed the Church. When Theophylaktos turned age twenty (931), the emperor proposed to Saint Tryphonos that he resign the patriarchal throne. But Saint Tryphonos did not consider it proper to hand over the throne to an inexperienced youth and so he refused to do so. The emperor could not find pretense to intimidate Saint Tryphonos, since his life was blameless. Then Romanos employed the cunning counsel of the bishop of Caesarea, Theophilos.

The bishop went to Saint Tryphonos and deceitfully began to urge him not to comply with the emperor and not to resign the patriarchal throne. He began to advise Saint Tryphonos to take beforehand a measure of caution and dispel the impression of the emperor about his illiteracy. And to do this bishop Theophilos craftily suggested to Saint Tryphonos to write down on a clean sheet of paper his full name and title, and to give it over to the emperor. Not perceiving the fraud, the guileless saint at a Council of bishops took a clean sheet of paper and put on it his titled signature: "Tryphonos, by the Mercy of God the ArchBishop of Constantinople, and of New Rome the OEcumenical Patriarch". When they presented this paper to the emperor, he gave orders to write atop the signature of the saint: "I resign the position of Patriarch for no other reason than this, that I consider myself unworthy of this dignity". When this fraud was read at a gathering of imperial dignitaries, servants removed Saint Tryphonos from the patriarchal chambers. The Monk Tryphonos patiently endured the deception done him, and returned to his own monastery. He lived in it as a modest monk but for a year until his death (+ 933). His body was taken to Constantinople and buried in the burial place of the Patriarchs.

The MonkMartyr Agathangelos

The MonkMartyr Agathangelos, in the world Athanasias, was born in the city of Aena, the Thracian district, and was raised in a strict Orthodox family. After the death of his parents he became a sailor. The Turks decided to convert the skilled and intelligent youth to Islam. They knew, that he would not renounce Christ of his own good will, and in the city of Smyrna they pounced on the saint, inflicted a wound on him and threatening him with death, demanded that he accept Islam. The youth was terrified and promised to call himself a musselman in the hope of soon to be free of the bullies and disdain this promise. But for a long time he did not succeed, he was tormented by the stings of conscience and finally he found the opportunity to quit the city to seek refuge on Holy Mount Athos. At the Esthygmena monastery the hegumen, Euthymios, confessed him and gave him blessing to become a novice, which Saint Athanasias entered into with great fervour.

But even by his most intense efforts Saint Athanasias considered it insufficient to atone for his sin of apostasy. He sensed, that it would be necessary for him to give up his life for the faith in Christ, and he began fervently to pray concerning this.

On the fourth Sunday of the Great Lent the nineteen year old youth took monastic vows with the name Agathangelos.

Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker appeared to the newly-made monk in a dream and promised him his help. The hegumen of the monastery saw in this a special sign and gave blessing to Saint Agathangelos to confess his faith in Christ at Smyrna in front of those very ones who forced him into renunciation.

In the Ottoman courtroom the confessor told, how by force they had compelled him to accept an alien faith, and he publicly renounced Islam and confessed himself a Christian. They began to cajole and admonish Saint Agathangelos. He replied: "I will not give in to you, neither by your threats nor by your promises. Christ only do I love, my Christ only do I follow, in my Christ only do I hope to know bliss". The judge began to threaten him with death by torture. "I am prepared to endure all for my Christ! I accept every manner of torment with the greatest joy! I ask only that thou not tarry in carrying out thy word", -- answered the saint.

They bound Saint Agathangelos and slapped him in heavy chains, hammered his feet into wooden boots and threw him in prison. Together with him were situated there two other wrongly condemned Christians. One of them, Nicholas, after the death of the monkmartyr gave an account of his torture.

On the following day Saint Agathangelos in fetters was again brought before the judge. Bravely enduring all the torments which the Turks had readied for him, he again was sent off to prison. Nicholas reported to him, that a certain influential man would intervene before the judge for his release, but Saint Agathangelos in a note to this man asked not to gain him freedom, but rather that he might pray to God that he be strengthened for the deed of martyrdom.

The saint readied himself for the final trial. At midnight in a vision it was revealed to him, that they would execute him not later than five o'clock, and he joyfully began to await the appointed hour. At about the fourth hour a watch was put over him. Not seeing any possibility to convert the steadfast confessor from his faith in Christ, the judges decided to execute him. Absorbed in prayer, the martyr did not take notice the preparations for executions nor the large throng of people. He was beheaded at about the fifth hour of the morning, on 19 April 1819. Christians gathered up the holy remains of the martyr and buried them in the city of Smyrna, in the church of the GreatMartyr George.

In the year 1844 part of the remains of the MonkMartyr Agathangelos were transferred to Holy Mount Athos to the Esthygmena monastery.

April 20

The Monk Theodore the Trikhinian

The Monk Theodore the Trikhinian was born into a rich Constantinople family. In his youth he withdrew into a wilderness monastery in Thrace and accepted monasticism. The monk was strict in fasting, and he wore only a coarse prickly hairshirt, which was called a "trikhinia" ("vlasyanitsa"). This name also was given to the monastery in which he pursued asceticism. During his life the monk worked many miracles and healings. After his death there flowed from his holy relics a salubrious myrh, which healed many of the sick and cast out impure spirits.

The years during which the monk Theodore lived is unknown.

The Young Martyr Saint Gabriel

The Young Martyr Saint Gabriel was born on 22 March 1684 in Zvierki village, near Zabludov. He came from a pious orthodox family. His parents - Peter and Anastasia Gowdel - maintained the faith of their ancestors in a difficult period of time for orthodoxy, when the union was becoming the dominant religion in this region. As a child, Gabriel was distinguished among others by unusual traits during his young age. He enjoyed prayer and solitude rather than children's games.

On April 11, 1690, a terrible tragedy occurred to the Gowdel family. Six-years-old Gabriel was murdered. The offender, wishing to hide his crime, secretly took the young Martyr's body away and abandoned it at a meadow on the edge of the forest near Zvierki village.

After nine days, the corpse, which had not been decomposed, was found surrounded by dogs, which were guarding it diligently before the birds. The boy's corpse was given back to his parents. The body of the martyred was buried near country's church. It stayed there for about 30 years.

In 1720, in the period of an epidemic, feeling unusual grace from this place, the children were being buried near Gabriel's grave to commemorate the Martyr's death. One day, during a funeral, the Martyr's grave was accindentally disturbed and His body was dug out. It turned out that despite lying for quite a long time underground, the body was not decomposed. The end of epidemic and many healings are connected with this event.

The body was transferred during a solemn procession to the church in Zvierki and put into a crypt in the church's basement. In 1746, as a result of fire, the church was completely burnt down; however the body of St. Gabriel was saved. His partially burnt hand was miraculously healed and covered with the skin. After fire, the relic of Saint Gabriel was transferred to Zabludov.

In 1755, the relic transferred to the Holy Trinity Monastery in Sluck. Just before the First World War the relic come back to Bialystok - to St. Nicola's cathedral, from where his late transferred to Monastery in Suprasl. During the First World War, the relic evacuated to Sluck, again. After liquidating of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Sluck by communist's authorities, the relic was transferred to Minsk, and next to Grodno, in 1944. Here liesed up to 21.09.1992.

On days 21-22 September 1992, with blessing of a Bialystok and Gdansk Archbishop Sawa and also with blessing of a Grodno and Volkowyck Bishop Valentin, the relic of Saint Gabriel was festively transferred from Grodno to St. Nicola's Cathedral in Bialystok.

Saint Martyr Gabriel is the Heavenly Protector of children and youth.

The Monk Alexander of Oshevensk

The Monk Alexander of Oshevensk was born on 17 March 1427, 80 versts from Belozersk in the Vysheozersk region, several months before the death of the Monk Kirill of Belozersk (+ 9 July 1427), -- with whom he was bound together by later spiritual connections for his whole life.

Alexei (worldly name of the Monk Alexander of Oshevensk) was the fifth son of the rich landowner Nikifor Osheven and his spouse Fotinia; he was a long-awaited child and was born through the fervent prayers of Fotinia. The Mother of God Herself together with the Monk Kirill of Belozersk appeared to her and promised the birth of a son through the intercession of the Monk Kirill. Although Alexei was the youngest son, his parents hoped to see in him their successor and someone to care for them in their old age. In childhood they taught the boy his letters and spoke of him as an enterprising landowner. At 18 years of age they sought to marry off the youth. With the permission of his parents, he went off to pray at the Kirillo-Belozersk monastery and remained there.

The hegumen loved the youth for his humility and soon suggested to him to take monastic vows. But Alexei refused, having decided to test himself. Having studied Holy Scripture, he served the brethren as a novice for six years and only then did he accept monastic vows.

During this time his parents settled in the village of Volosovo, -- 30 versts from Kargopol near the River Onega. Soon Nikifor sought of the Novgorod boyar Ioann a place for settling near the River Churiuga, which received the town-name Oshevensk.

The Monk Alexander asked of the hegumen permission to receive from his parents their final blessing and forgiveness, so that afterwards he might go into a solitary life. Not at once did the hegumen give permission to the young monk. He warned him about the dangers of wilderness life. But the Monk Alexander feared the ascetic fame that he had among the brethren, and he requested a second time to be released from the monastery. Finally, the hegumen gave his blessing.

Greeting him with joy, the father suggested to the son that he settle at the River Churiuga and promised to assist in the building of a monastery. The Monk Alexander took a liking to the place. He set up a cross as foundation of the future monastery and gave a vow to dwell there until the end of his life. After this the Monk Alexander returned to the Kirillo-Belozersk monastery and for some time he did obedience in the choir, in the kitchen and in the bakery. They ordained him to the dignity of deacon. Finally, when the Monk Alexander went to the hegumen for the third time and told him, how a miraculous voice had called him to organise a monastery, and how he had vowed to dwell at that place, the hegumen released him, -- blessing him with the icons of the Hodegetria Mother of God and Sainted Nicholas the Wonderworker.

The Monk Alexander dedicated the chosen spot with the icons, and received from his father supervision for building a church, and he himself set off to the Archbishop of Novgorod Jona (1459-1470). Archbishop Jona ordained him to the dignity of presbyter and appointed him hegumen of the monastery. The boyarina Anastasia and her son Yurii were prepared to offer the monastery the whole district, but the Monk Alexander accepted the gramota (deed) for only the necessary ground. The constructed church was dedicated in the name of Sainted Nicholas. With determination and energy the monk began to work at organising the monastery. An elder, who had accompanied him from the Kirillo-Belozersk monastery, was not able to endure the harsh wilderness life and went back. By little by little brethren gathered. The monk enacted a strict ustav (rule) of common life, which required complete silence in temple and at refectory, -- when saint-lives were read, in monk cells there was to be no idleness, and at the time of fulfilling obediences it was necessary to do the Jesus Prayer or read psalms. "Brethren, -- said the monastic hegumen, -- let us not shirk work nor the way of sorrow. Ye know, that the way of sorrow leads to the Heavenly Kingdom. Live in mutual love and humility. God is love, and He loveth the humble".

Many even from the layfolk came to the monk and put themselves under his spiritual guidance. Two nephews of the saint accepted monastic orders at his monastery, who offended one of the brethren, -- the monk Ambrosii. The Monk Alexander gently calmed the religious brother, but the nephews cooled in their zeal for asceticism and they left the monastery. Grief over the salvation of his spiritual children wrecked the health of the monk. He lay down and was not able to life up his hand nor his head, nor even to utter a word. In such a state of exhaustion the Monk Alexander prayed to the Monk Kirill, his patron. The Monk Kirill appeared in a white robe and, signing the sick man with the sign of the cross, he said: "Grieve not, brother! I intercede and thou shalt be well. Only forget not thy vow, nor leave this place. I shall assist thee". Having fallen asleep, the monk regained his strength and in the morning went to church. To encourage the brethren he told about the visit of the Monk Kirill. The monk laboured for 27 years in the monastery founded by him, and died peacefully on 20 April 1479.

After the death of the hegumen, the monastery began quickly to go into decline. But the monk did not cease to care for it. One time, the monastic attendant Mark had a vision in a dream: the monastery was full of people; a grey-haired elder in bishop's garb signed with a cross those working on the building. Another elder, with a long beard, sprinkled with holy-water; and a third, of moderate stature and blond hair, censed. A fourth one, a youth, followed after them at a distance. The third elder, -- this was the Monk Alexander Oshevensk -- explained, that Sainted Nicholas the Wonderworker and the Monk Kirill of Belozersk assisted him, and the youth standing at the distance was the cantor Matfei, who was soon vowed under the name Maxim and chosen hegumen of the monastery, as predicted in the vision of the Monk Alexander. The monk Maxim was established as hegumen by the Archbishop of Novgorod Sergei (1483-1485), and he restored the monastery. He was the monastic head until 1525.

At the time of building of a new temple in the name of Sainted Nicholas, during an appearance of the Monk Alexander and at his command, -- his relics were found undecayed. His image was then painted in accord with how he appeared as a monk and in accord with the accounts of those who knew the elder: the Monk Alexander of Oshevensk was of moderate stature, with parched face and sunken cheeks, with a small thin beard, grizzled with blond hairs. He is thus depicted on icons.

Sainted Betranes and Theotimos

Sainted Betranes and Theotimos were bishops of Lesser Skythia, where the mouth of the Dunaj (Danube) flows into Thrace. Their diocesan cathedral was situated in the city of Toma (Kiustendji). They were Skythians.

The Church historian Sozomenes gives an account about Sainted Betranes. When the emperor Valens (364-378) stayed in Toma, he began in church to urge the saint to enter into communion with Arian heretics. Saint Betranes boldly answered, that he adhered to the teaching of the holy Nicean fathers and, in order to avoid bantering, he went off to another of the city churches. And all the people followed after him. There remained in the deserted church only the emperor with his retinue. For such audacity the emperor condemned the saint to exile, but he feared the grumbling of the crowd and let him go free. The Skyths loved their archpastor and they cared about him as a good and saintly man.

Another historian, Theodorit, writes about the sainted-bishop: "And Betranes, radiant with every virtue and archpastoral power, governing the cities of all the Skythians, was enflamed with zeal of spirit and denounced the heretics for their dogmatic deficiency and their iniquitous attitude towards the saints. He said with the Divine-inspiration of David: "I shall speak Thy testimonies before the king and not be shy" (Ps. 18:46).

Sainted Betranes died, probably soon after the denunciation of emperor Valens. His commemoration in the "Acts of the Saints" indicates 25 January. At the II OEcumenical Council in 381 it mentions already the successor to Sainted Betranes, -- the Toma bishop Gerontios, and after him the cathedra was occupied by Sainted Theotimos.

In the year 392 Sainted Theotimos was already known to Blessed Jerome (Comm. 15 June) as a writer and bishop. Sainted Theotimos participated in the Council of 399, where Sainted John Chrysostom (Comm. 13 November) examined the acts of the bishop of Ephesus. In the year 403, when Sainted Epiphanios of Cyprus (+ 403, Comm. 12 May) insistently demanded of Saint John Chrysostom and the other bishops to carry out a condemnation of Origen, Sainted Theotimos wrote: "It is impious to further offend the dead and to rise up in judgement against the ancients and re-question their sanction". He took out one of the works of Origen, read from it and, pointing out that which was read was of good purpose to the Church, added: "Those who condemn this book, slander also that which it says here".

Sainted Theotimos journeyed much throughout his diocese. His Christian love flowed even upon the Huns, -- then as yet unenlightened by the light of the Gospel. By means of beneficence and gentleness the sainted-bishop strove to win them over to the true faith. The impressive miracles, worked by the saint in the Name of Jesus Christ, so astonished the pagans, that they called him a Roman god.

Once, when during the time of a journey the saint and his companions were under the threat of deadly peril from the Huns, the sainted-bishop began to pray intensely, and all were left invisible to them. Another time, when a certain Hun tried to catch the saint with a rope, his hand froze in the air and only then was it released from its invisible hold, when Sainted Theotimos at the request of other Huns prayed to God for him.

Sainted Theotimos kept to a simple form of life: he partook of nourishment not at this or that time, but only when he experienced hunger or thirst. Blessed Jerome wrote about him: "Theotimos, Skythian bishop of Tomum, produced in dialogues in the form of ancient rhetoric powerfully fine tracts and, as I have heard, he wrote other works". It is known, that Sainted Theotimos wrote: "About the Teachings of the Saviour", "Against Idols", a "Commentary on Genesis", a "Commentary on the Text -- `I shall bear the Gift unto the Altar", "About Fasting" (from the last 4 works the Monk John Damascene makes comparison in several places in his own parallels).

Sainted Theotimos died peacefully in about the year 412. His commemoration in the "Acts of the Saints" is indicated as 20 April.

Sainted Gregory, Patriarch of Antioch

Sainted Gregory, Patriarch of Antioch (573-593), was hegumen of the Pharan monastery, located not far from Mount Sinai. The monk was distinguished for his fervent faith, merciful and compassionate to the fallen, and humble and forgiving.

Once, when Saint Gregory was still an hegumen, he visited a certain wilderness-dweller, who in a cave sought salvation. The wilderness-dweller greeted him with honour and washed his feet. When the saint asked why he was shown such honour, the elder answered, that through Divine-revelation he saw before himself a future Patriarch. In fact, after the banishment of Patriarch Anastasias the Sinaite from the Antiochian throne, Saint Gregory was -- against his own wishes -- raised up upon the Antiochian Patriarchal throne and, yielding to the will of God, until his death (+ 593) he bore with dignity the burden of patriarchal service.

Sainted Anastasias I the Sinaite, Patriarch of Antioch

Sainted Anastasias I the Sinaite, Patriarch of Antioch, began his monastic deeds on Mount Sinai, wherefore he was called the Sinaite. He entered upon the Patriarchal throne in the year 562 during the reign of the emperor Justinian (527-565).

The Monophysite heresy was spreading about during this time. The emperor himself inclined towards the side of the heretics. Sainted Anastasias was outspoken against the heresy. He distributed a missive throughout all the churches and daily elucidated in his own temple the Orthodox teaching about the two natures of the Lord Jesus Christ. All those questioning or wavering in the faith awaited with hope the words of the holy Patriarch Anastasias.

Justinian, angering upon learning of this, wanted to depose Sainted Anastasias from the Antioch throne, but suddenly he became grievously ill. Before his death he made Church penance and composed the beautiful prayer "Only-begotten Son Word of God", which has entered into the order of the Divine Liturgy. In it he expressed the Orthodox teaching about the two natures of the Lord Jesus Christ.

After Justinian, there came upon the throne emperor Justin the Younger (565-578), who resumed the persecution against Sainted Anastasias and in 572 sent him into imprisonment. Returning from exile in 593, Sainted Anastasias governed the Church for six years and died peacefully (+ 21 April 599).

In exile, Saint Anastasias wrote several dogmatic and moral works, and even rendered into the Greek language the work of Sainted Gregory Dialogus (+ 604, Comm. 12 March) "About Pastoral Service".

Sainted Anastasias II, Patriarch of Antioch

Sainted Anastasias II, Patriarch of Antioch, entered upon the throne after the holy Patriarch Anastasias I the Sinaite (561-572; 593-599). He governed the Church for 10 years and was killed in 609 by Jews, when emperor Phocas (602-610) issued an edict, forcing all to accept baptism.

The Monk Anastasias, hegumen of Mount Sinai

The Monk Anastasias, hegumen of Mount Sinai, was born at the end of the VI Century. He received in his youth a fine secular education, which he completed by the study of theology. In a sermon on Thomas Sunday the Monk Anastasias wrote: "Having beheld Christ in the flesh they reckoned Him for a prophet; and we, although we have not seen him with bodily eyes, but rather from the tips of our fingers, then still when we were small children and lads, we recognised in Him God, and learned to confess Him as Lord of the universe, Creator of the ages, and Radiance of the Glory of the Father. With such a faith do we hear His Holy Gospel, as though we behold Christ Himself. When we only but look at an icon depiction of His Divine likeness, as of Him Himself, we attain to Heaven for ourselves, and we honour, we worship and fall down".

Already in his youth the Monk Anastasias had accepted monasticism, and he later set off to Jerusalem and settled on Mount Sinai. During this period, the hegumen of Mount Sinai was the Monk John of the Ladder (Lestvichnik, Climaticus; Comm. 30 March), and afterwards his brother George. After Saint George, the Monk Anastasias became hegumen, from which they bestowed upon him the title "Sinaite".

The Monk Anastasias put much work into the struggle with the Akephaloi heresy, which was opposed by the decrees of the IV OEcumenical Council at Chalcedon (451), and which defined the dogma about the union in the One Person of the Lord Jesus Christ in two natures -- the Divine and the human. Spreading the Orthodox faith, the Monk Anastasias visited Egypt, Arabia and Syria. For the struggle with the Monophysites he left to his students an epistolary guide in the form of answers to questions under the title "Guide-book" in 24 chapters. The Monk Anastasias also had dialogues with heretics which he also wrote down; -- these have come down to us in his work "Explanation of the Sixth Day" (12 book-chapters), Sermons, Instructions, Vitae of certain ascetics, and Commentaries on many places in Holy Scripture.

The Monk Anastasias the Sinaite died in deep old age (+ c. 695).

April 21

St. Maelrubha

An abbot and martyr, founder of Abercrossan, b. 642; d. 21 April, 722. He was descended from Niall, King of Ireland, on the side of his father Elganach. His mother, Subtan, was a niece of St. Comgall the Great, of Bangor. St. Maelrubha was born in the county of Derry and was educated at Bangor. When he was in his thirtieth year he sailed from Ireland for Scotland, with a following of monks. For two years he travelled about, chiefly in Argyll, and founded about half-a dozen churches then settled at Abercrossan (Applecross), in the west of Ross. Here he built his chief church and monastery in the midst of the Pictish folk, and thence he set out on missionary journeys, westward to the islands Skye and Lewis, eastward to Forres and Keith, and northward to Loch Shinn, Durness, and Farr. It was on this last journey that he was martyred by Danish vikings, probably at Teampull, about nine miles up Strath-Naver from Farr, where he had built a cell. He was buried close to the River Naver, not far from his cell, and his grave is still marked by "a rough cross-marked stone". The tradition, in the "Aberdeen Breviary", that he was killed at Urquhart and buried at Abercrossan is probably a mistake arising from a confusion of Gaelic place-names.

The PriestMartyr Jannuarius the Bishop

The PriestMartyr Jannuarius the Bishop, and with him the Holy Martyrs -- Deacons Proculus, Sossius and Faustus, Desiderius the Reader, Eutychius and Acution accepted a martyr's death for Christ about the year 305 during the time of the persecution by the emperor Diocletian (284-305).

They arrested Saint Jannuarius and led him to trial to Timothy, the governor of Campagna (central Italy). For his firm confession of Christian faith, they threw the saint into a red-hot furnace. But like the Babylonian youths, he came out from there unharmed. Then by order of Timothy they stretched him out on a bench and beat at him with iron rods so much, that they lay bare the bone.

Among the gathered crowd were the holy deacon Faustus and the reader Desiderius, who wept at the sight of the suffering of their bishop. The pagans surmised that they were Christians, and threw them together into prison with the Priestmartyr Jannuarius, in the city of Puteolum. At this prison were situated two deacons locked up earlier for confessing Christ -- Saints Sossius and Proculus, and two laymen -- Saints Eutychius and Acution.

On the following morning they led out all the martyrs into the circus to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch them. Timothy declared, that all the miracle occurred from sorcery by the Christians, but with this however he became blinded and cried out for help. The gentle Priestmartyr Jannuarius made prayer for his healing, and Timothy recovered his sight. The blindness of soul however did not depart the torturer and he, with a still greater rage accusing the Christians of sorcery, gave orders to cut off the heads of the martyrs at the walls of the city (+ 305).

Christians from surrounding cities took up the bodies of the holy martyrs for burial, and those of each city took along one, so as to have an intercessor before God. The inhabitants of Neopolis (Naples) took for themselves the body of the Priestmartyr Jannuarius. Together with the body they gathered up from the earth his dried blood. When they set the vessel with this blood upon the relics of the holy martyr, having been put on the church of the city of Neopolis, the blood liquified and became warm, as though only just shed. Many miracles proceeded from the relics of the Priestmartyr Jannuarius. During the time of the eruption of Vesuvius, when the inhabitants of the city prayed to the Priestmartyr Jannuarius, the lava stopped, not reaching the city. A pious woman placed an icon with the image of the priestmartyr to her dead son, and he arose.

The Holy Martyr Theodore

The Holy Martyrs Theodore, his mother Philippia, Dioskoros, Sokrates and Dionysios suffered during the reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) in Pamphylian Pergium. When they were conscripting for military service robust and healthy young men, then together with the others they led the youth Theodore to the military commander Theodotos.

The military commander obliged the youth to offer sacrifice to idols. The martyr submitted neither to persuasion nor threats, and the military commander commanded to place him on a red-hot plate and to pour out liquid tar. Immediately there occurred a miracle: an earth-trembling began, and from a fissure in the ground gushed forth a torrent of water and extinguished the fire.

Having remained unharmed, the martyr Theodore gave praise to God and suggested to the military commander to try with the help of the idols to repeat such a miracle.

The military commander suggested to the pagan priest Dioskoros to lay upon the red-hot plate, calling on the help of Zeus. But Saint Dioskoros answered, that he believed in Christ and was prepared to throw the idol of Zeus into the fire. Then the military commander commanded him to get on the frying-pan. The martyr Dioskoros fell at the knees of Saint Theodore and pleaded that he pray for him. Then he got onto the frying-pan, loudly crying out to the Lord: "I give Thee thanks, Lord Jesus Christ, that Thou hast included me in the number of Thine servants. Accept Thou my soul with peace", -- and he died, having been delivered from terrible torment.

They continued to torture Saint Theodore. They tied him to wild horses, which began to run. But at the city walls the horses fell down and collapsed, and the martyr Theodore remained unharmed. Two soldiers, Sokrates and Dionysios, saw how there came down from the heavens a fiery chariot to Saint Theodore, on which was carried the dragged martyr. The soldiers with astonishment shouted out: "Great God of the Christians!" For this they seized hold of them and on the next day threw them together with the martyr Theodore into a red-hot furnace. But an Heavenly dew cooled the furnace, and the saints remained alive. In the morning the military commander commanded soldiers to go march to look upon the burnt bodies of the martyrs. The soldiers returned and with wonder reported that the three youths were unharmed, and to the martyr Theodore was come his mother, Philippia, who now encouraged the martyrs in their act.

The military commander suggested to Saint Philippia to save her son, urging her to offer sacrifice to the idols. But Saint Philippia answered, that yet while at the time of the birth of her son it was revealed to her, that her son would be crucified for Christ. Hearing this, the military commander commanded to crucify Saint Theodore on a cross, and to cut off the heads of the remaining martyrs. During the course of 3 days the martyr Theodore hung on the cross, offering up prayer to God until he expired.

The Holy Martyrs Isaac, Apollos and Kodratos

The Holy Martyrs Isaac, Apollos and Kodratos were pagans and they served at the court of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). During the time of the suffering of the holy Greatmartyr George (Comm. 23 April), they were among the number of spectators. His faith, valour and miracles awakened in them the faith in Christ. The saints openly before everyone declared themselves Christians and began to reproach the emperor for his impiety and cruelty. They sentenced them to death. The martyr Kodratos was beheaded with a sword, and the martyrs Apollos and Isaac perished by starvation (+ 303).

Saint Maximian, Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint Maximian, Patriarch of Constantinople, was born in Rome from wealthy and pious parents. Upon coming into the means he arranged for tombs for burial of the dead, glorified by sanctity of life.

Saint Maximian was a plain man and he loved to live removed from worldly vanity. For his pure and virtuous life, at Constantinople Patriarch Sisinios (426-427) ordained him presbyter. Upon the deposing from the Constantinople throne of the heretic Nestorius (428-431), the monk-presbyter was elevated onto the patriarchal throne on 25 October 431, during the rule of the holy emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450).

The holy Patriarch Maximian died peacefully on 12 April 434, on Great Thursday.

The Monk Jakov (James) of Stromynsk

The Monk Jakov (James) of Stromynsk was a disciple of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh (Comm. 25 September). He was hegumen of the Stromynsk monastery in the Name of the Life-originating Trinity. The Monk Sergei himself founded this monastery in 1380 at the request of GreatPrince Dimitrii Donskoi (1363-1389) in memory the victory of Kulikovo Pole (Field). At this monastery there was as hegumen also the Monk Savva of Svenigorod (1381-1392, Comm. 3 December). The Monk Jakov was buried in the monastery church.

April 22

The Monk Theodore Sikeotes

The Monk Theodore Sikeotes was born in the mid VI Century in the village of Sikea, not far from the city of Anastasiupolis (Asia Minor), in a pious family. When his mother Maria conceived the saint, she had in a dream a vision, that a bright star had overshadowed her womb. A perspicacious elder, to whom she turned, then explained that this was the grace of God overshadowing the infant conceived in her.

When the boy reached six years of age, his mother presented him a golden sash, since she intended that her son should become a soldier. But in a dream vision by night there appeared to her the GreatMartyr George (Comm. 23 April), and he bid her not think about military service for her son, since the boy was destined to serve God. The saint's father, Kosma, had served as a messenger of the emperor Justinian the Great (527-565), and he died early. The boy remained in the care of his mother, with whom lived also his grandmother Epidia, his aunt Dispenia and his little sister Vlatta.

In school, Saint Theodore displayed great talents for his study, chief of which was an unchildlike ability for reasoning and wisdom: he was quiet, mild, he always knew how to calm his comrades, and he did not permit fights or quarrels amongst them. At his mother's house lived also the pious elder, Stephen. Imitating him, Saint Theodore at age 8 began during Great Lent to eat only a small morsel of bread in the evenings. In order that his mother should not force him to take supper with everyone, the boy returned home from school only towards evening-time, after he had communed the Holy Mysteries together with the elder Stephen. At the request of his mother, the teacher began to send him off to supper at the end of lessons. But Saint Theodore nonetheless skipped off to the church of the GreatMartyr George, where the patron saint of the temple appeared to him in the form of a youth and ushered him into the church.

When Saint Theodore reached age 10, he fell deathly ill. They brought him to the church of Saint John the Baptist and placed him in front of the altar. The boy was healed by two drops of dew, fallen from the face of the Saviour on the dome of the temple. At this time by night the GreatMartyr George began appearing to the boy, and also leading him off to his own temple to pray until morning. His mother, fearing the night-time dangers of the forest path, spoke with her son about not going at night. One time, when the boy had already gone, she angrily went after him to the church, and she dragged him out by the hair and tied him to his bed. But that very night in a dream vision the GreatMartyr George appeared to her, and threateningly she commanded her not to hinder the lad from going to church. And both Elpidia and Dispenia had the same vision. The women then became persuaded of the special vocation of Saint Theodore and they no more hindered him from his efforts, and even his little sister Vlatta began to imitate him.

At twelve years of age the saint was granted in a vivid dream to behold Christ on the Throne of the Kingdom of Glory, and Who said to him: "Asceticise, Theodore, so as to obtain perfected reward in the Heavenly Kingdom".

From that time Saint Theodore began to toil all the more fervently. Both the First Week and the Cross-Veneration Week of Great Lent he spent in complete silence.

The devil thought upon how to destroy him. He appeared to the saintly lad in the form of his class-mate Gerontios, and urged him to jump off a precipice, and even showed him in what manner how to. But his protector the GreatMartyr George saved the boy.

One time the boy set off for a blessing to the wilderness elder Glykerios. During this time there was a terrible drought throughout all the land, and the elder said: "Child, on bended knee let us pray to the Lord, that He send rain. And in such manner shalt we learn, whether our prayers be pleasing to the Lord". The old man and the boy, on bended knee, began to pray -- and immediately it began to rain. Then the elder said to Saint Theodore, that upon him was the grace of God, and he blessed him to become a monk, when the time should come.

At fourteen years of age Saint Theodore left home and lived nearby the church of the GreatMartyr George. His mother brought him food, but Saint Theodore left everything on the stones by the church, and he ate over the course of a day only a single prosphora loaf of bread. And even at so young an age, the Monk Theodore was granted the gift of healing: through his prayer a demon-possessed youth was restored to health.

The Monk Theodore then fled human glory and he withdrew into complete solitude. Under a large boulder not far from the church of the GreatMartyr George, he dug out a cave and persuaded a certain deacon to cover over the entrance with ground, leaving only a small opening for air. The deacon brought him bread and water and he told no one, where the monk had hidden himself.

For two years the Monk Theodore lived in this seclusion and complete quiet. His kinsfolk bewept the saint and they thought, that he had been devoured by wild beasts.

But the deacon finally revealed the secret, since he was afraid that the Monk Theodore would perish in the narrow cave, and moreover he pitied the weeping mother. They plucked the Monk Theodore out of the cave half-alive.

The mother wanted to take her son home and restore him back to health, but the saint remained nearby the church of the GreatMartyr George, and after several days he was completely well.

News about the exploits of the youth reached the local bishop Theodosios. And thus in the church of the GreatMartyr George he was ordained to the dignity of deacon, and later -- to priest, although the monk was only 17 years of age.

After a certain while the Monk Theodore set off for veneration to the holy places in Jerusalem, and there at the Khozebite Laura near Jordan, he accepted monasticism.

When he returned to his native land, he again continued to live nearby the church of the GreatMartyr George. His grandmother Elpidia, his sister Vlatta and his mother on the advice of the monk withdrew to a monastery, and his aunt died in a good confession.

The ascetic life of the young priestmonk attracted to him people seeking salvation. The monk tonsured into monasticism the youth Epiphanios, and later on a pious woman, healed of sickness by the saint, brought him her son Philumenos. Then came also the virtuous youth John. Brethren thus gradually gathered around the monk.

The Monk Theodore continued to bear his burdensome exploits. At his request a blacksmith made for him an iron cage without a roof, and so tight that in it, it was possible only to stand. In this cage in heavy chains the monk stood from Holy Pascha until the Nativity of Christ. From the Baptism of the Lord until Holy Pascha he secluded himself in his cave, from which he emerged only for the making of Divine-services on Saturdays and Sundays. Throughout the whole of the Forty-Day Great Lent the saint ate only greens, and on Saturdays and Sundays spring-grain bread.

Asceticising in such manner, he received from the Lord the power over wild animals. Bears and wolves came up to him and took food from his hand. Through the prayer of the monk, those afflicted with leprosy were healed, and from whole districts devils were cast out. In the nearby village of Magatia, when locusts threatening the crops appeared, its people turned with a request for help to the Monk Theodore. He sent them off to church. After Divine Liturgy, which he served, the villagers returned home and learned that during this while all the locusts had died.

When the military-commander Maurice was returning to Constantinople by way of Galatia after a Persian war, the monk predicted to him, that he would become emperor. The prediction came true, and the emperor Maurice (582-602) fulfilled the request of the monk -- he sent the monastery bread each year for the multitude of people being fed there.

The small temple of the GreatMartyr George could not accommodate all those that wanted to pray in it. Then through the efforts of the saint a beautiful new church was built. During this while the Anastasiupolis bishop happened to die. The people of the city besought the Ancyra metropolitan Paul to install the Monk Theodore as their bishop.

So that the saint should not resist, the messengers of the metropolitan and the Anastasiupolis people dragged him out of his cell by force and carried him off to the city.

Having become bishop, Saint Theodore toiled much for the welfare of the Church. But his soul yearned for the solitary communion with God. After several years he set off to venerate at the holy places in Jerusalem. And there, concealing his identity, he settled at the Laura monastery of the Monk Sava, where he lived in solitude from the Nativity of Christ until Pascha. Then the GreatMartyr George led him to return to Anastasiupolis.

Secret enemies tried to poison the saint, but the Mother of God gave him three small pieces of grain. The saint them and remained unharmed. Saint Theodore felt weighed down with the burden of being a bishop and he besought the Constantinople patriarch Kyriakos (595-606) for a release to return to his own monastery and celebrate Divine-services there.

The sanctity of the monk was so evident, that during the time of his celebrating the Eucharist, the grace of the Holy Spirit, in a visage of radiant porphyry, overshadowed the Holy Gifts. One time, when the monk lifted the discus with the Divine Lamb and proclaimed "Holy Things unto the Holy", -- the Divine Lamb raised itself up into the air, and then resettled itself again upon the discus.

All the Orthodox Church venerated the Monk Theodore as a saint, even while he was yet alive.

In one of the cities of Galatia, a terrible event occurred: during the time of a church procession the wooden crosses being carried began of themselves to strike and chip at one another, with the result that the Constantinople Patriarch Thomas (607-610, Comm. 21 March) summoned to him the Monk Theodore, asking of him the secret of this terrible portent. Having the gift of foresight, the Monk Theodore explained, that this was a sign of coming misfortunes for the Church of God (he was thus prophetically indicating the future heresy of the Iconoclasts). In grief the holy Patriarch Thomas besought the monk to pray for him for a quick death, so that he should not see the coming woe.

In the year 610 the holy Patriarch Thomas reposed, having besought blessing of the Monk Theodore. And in the year 613 the Monk Theodore Sikeotes also expired to the Lord.

The Monk Vitalios

The Monk Vitalios, a monk of the monastery of Saint Serid, arrived in Alexandria when the Patriarch of Alexandria was Sainted John the Merciful (609-620, Comm. 12 November).

The saint, already up in age (he was 60 years old), made bold to take upon himself an extraordinary exploit: he wrote down for himself in memory all the harlots of Alexandria and he began fervently to pray for them. The monk toiled from morning to evening and he earned each day 12 copper coins. In the evening the saint bought himself a single bean, which he ate not earlier than sunset. The remaining money he would give to one of the harlots, to whom he went at night and said: "I beseech thee, for this money preserve thyself in purity this night, and sin with no one". Then the monk shut himself in with the harlot in her room, and while she slept, the elder spent the whole night at prayer, reading the psalms, and in the morning he quietly left. And such he did each day, visiting by turns all the harlots, and he took from them a promise, to keep secret the purpose of his visit. The people of Alexandria, not knowing the truth, became indignant over the behaviour of the monk, and they every which way reviled him, but he meekly endured all the mockery and he only asked that they not judge others.

The holy prayers of the Monk Vitalios saved many a fallen woman. Some of them went off to a monastery, others got married, and yet others started respectable work. But to tell the reason of straightening out their life and lift the abuse heaped upon the Monk Vitalios they could not: they were bound by an oath, given to the saint. And when of the woman began to break her oath to stand up in defense of the saint, she fell into a demonic frenzy. After this, the Alexandria people had no doubt concerning the sinfulness of the monk.

Certain of the clergy, scandalised by the behaviour of the monk, made denunciation against him to the holy Patriarch John the Merciful. But the Patriarch did not believe the informers and he said: "Cease to judge, especially monks. For know ye not, what transpired at the First Nicea Council? Certain of the bishops and the clergy brought written letters of denunciation against each other to the emperor of blessed memory Constantine the Great. He commanded that a burning candle be brought, and not even reading the writings, he burned them and said: "If I perchance with mine own eyes had seen a bishop sinning, or a priest, or a monk, then I would have veiled such with his garb, so that no one might see his sin". Thus the wise hierarch shamed the calumniators.

The Monk Vitalios continued on with his difficult exploit: appearing himself before people under the guise of a sinner and a prodigal, he led the prodigal to repentance.

One time, emerging from an house of ill repute, the monk encountered a young man going there -- a prodigal fellow, who with an insult struck him on the cheek and cried out, that the monk was a disgrace to the Name of Christ. The monk answered him: "Believe me, that after me, humble man that I be, thou also shalt receive such a blow on the cheek, that will have all Alexandria thronging to thine cry".

A certain while afterwards the Monk Vitalios settled into a small cell and in it at night he died. In that selfsame hour a terrifying demon appeared before the youth who had struck the saint, and the demon struck the youth on the cheek and cried out: "Here for thee is a knock from the Monk Vitalios". The youth went into a demonic madness. In a frenzy he thrashed about on the ground, tore the clothing from himself and howled so loudly, that a multitude of people gathered.

When the youth finally came to his senses after several hours, he then rushed off to the cell of the monk, calling out: "Have mercy on me, O servant of God, in that I have sinned against thee". At the door of the cell he came fully to his senses and he told those gathered there about his former encounter with the Monk Vitalios. Then the youth knocked on the door of the cell, but he received no answer. When they broke in the door, they then saw, that the monk was dead, on his knees before an icon. In his hand was a scroll with the words: "Men of Alexandria, judge not beforehand, til cometh the Lord, the Righteous Judge".

At this moment there came up the demon-possessed woman, punished by the monk for wanting to violate the secret of his exploit. Having touched the body of the saint, she was healed and told the people about everything that had happened with her.

When the women who had been saved by the Monk Vitalios learned about his death, they gathered together and told everyone about the virtues and mercy of the saint.

Saint John the Merciful also rejoiced, in that he had not believed the calumniators, and that a righteous man had not been condemned. And then together with the throng of repentant women, converted by the Monk Vitalios, the holy Patriarch solemnly conveyed his remains throughout all the city and gave them reverent burial. And from that time many of the Alexandria people made themselves a promise to judge no one.

The Holy Hieromartyr Platon of Banja Luka

Saint Platon was born in Belgrade, on September 29, 1874. His parents Ilija Jovanović and Jelka (maiden name Sokolović) were from Herzegovina. He attended primary school in Vranje and Nis, and then continued his education in the Seminary in Belgrade. Milivoje took monastic vows as the third-grade pupil of the Belgrade Seminary. Having completed seminary, he was ordained a deacon and afterwards presbyter. In 1896, he was sent in the Serbian mission in Moscow, where he continued his theological education at the Moscow Theological Academy. He completed his studies in 1901. Returning from Russia, he was appointed the head of the Rakovica Monastery in Belgrade. Soon afterwards he was appointed professor. He worked as professor in Aleksinac and Jagodina, and during this period he was raised to the ranks of syncellos, protosyncellos, and archimandrite.

In 1912, during the war, Archimandrite Platon was assigned as a brigade priest. During World War I, he was assigned as a military priest. For a short period of time Platon was an administrator of the Ochrid Diocese. He spent the period of occupation in Serbia, and with the help of his acquaintances abroad, he managed to render aid to all the people who suffered afflictions - especially orphans and widows. From 1932 to 1938 he was the manager of the monastery printing office in Sremski Karlovci, as well as the editor of the " Glasnik Srpske Patriaršije". Archimandrite Platon was also the head of the Krusedol Monastery. In 1936, he was elected auxilary Bishop of moravice. Platon was consecrated bishop by Patriarch Varnava, Metropoliatan Dositej of Zagreb, Metropolitan Anastasije, head of ROCOR, bishop Irinej of Bačka, bishop Makarije of Boston (he was also from ROCOR) and auxilary bishop of Srem Sava October 4/17, 1936 in Sremski Karlovci. June 22/July 5 1938, he was elected the Bishop of Ohrid and Bitolj. He was transferred to see of Banja Luka December 8/21 1939. Platon was the Bishop of Banja Luka when the World War II came in Yugoslavia.

The territory of his diocese became part of so-called Independent State of Croatia. Since he was a Serb born in Serbia, not in Bosnia, he was told to leave Banja Luka. He wrote back: "The authorities appointed me Bishop of Banja Luka lawfully, according to canon law; having such a position I took the obligation before God, Church, and people, that inseparably binding my life and my destiny with the life and destiny of my spiritual flock, to take care of my spiritual flock permanently and firmly, regardless of any events, and to stay on its spiritual path all the time of my life given to me by God, persevering in my staying with the flock as a good shepherd who gives his soul for his sheep…" He asked a Roman Catholic bishop, Dr. Jozo Garić (who was a Croat like Ustašas) to intervene with the authorized military officer and let him stay for two or three days more so that he could prepare for the departure. This Bishop told him to be calm and peaceful. However, the Ustaše arrested Bishop Platon the very next night, May 5, 1941, and took him, together with priest Dušan Subotić, who was hierarchal administrator from Bosanska Gradiska, somewhere out of Banja Luka. The two of them were killed there and their corpses were cast into the Vrbanja River. Ustasa Asim Celic committed this repulsive deed. The bishop's corpse, which was scarred and disfigured, was found in the village of Kumsale, on May 23, 1941. He was buried in a military graveyard in Banja Luka. Then in 1973, his remains were transported to the Banja Luka Cathedral for reburial.

April 23

The Holy GreatMartyr George the Victory-Bearer

The Holy GreatMartyr George the Victory-Bearer, was a native of Cappadocia (a district in Asia Minor), and he grew up in a deeply believing Christian family. His father had accepted a martyr's death for Christ, when George was yet a child. His mother, owning lands in Palestine, resettled there with her son and raised him in strict piety.

Having grown up, Saint George entered into the service of the Roman army. He was handsome, brave and valiant in battle, and he came to the notice of the emperor Diocletian (284-305) and was accepted into the imperial guards with the rank-title of "comites" -- one of the higher military officer ranks.

The pagan emperor, while having done much for the restoration of Roman might, and who was quite clearly concerned, as to what sort of danger the triumphing of the Crucified Saviour might present for pagan civilisation, in especially the final years of his reign intensified his persecution against the Christians. Upon the advice of the Senate at Nicomedia, Diocletian afforded all his governors full freedom in their court proceedings over Christians and in this he promised them all possible help.

Saint George, having learned about the decision of the emperor, distributed to the poor all his wealth, set free his servants, and then appeared in the Senate. The brave soldier of Christ spoke out openly against the emperor's designs, he confessed himself a Christian and appealed to all to acknowledge the true faith in Christ: "I am a servant of Christ, my God, and trusting on Him, I have come amidst ye at mine own will, to witness concerning the Truth". "What is Truth?" -- one of the dignitaries said, in repeating the question of Pontius Pilate. "Truth is Christ Himself, persecuted by ye", answered the saint.

Stunned by the bold speech of the valiant warrior, the emperor -- who loved and had promoted George, attempted to persuade him not to throw away his youth and glory and honours, but rather in the Roman custom to offer sacrifice to the gods. To this followed the resolute reply of the confessor: "Nothing in this inconstant life can weaken my resolve to serve God". Then by order of the enraged emperor the armed-guards began to jostle Saint George out of the assembly hall with their spears, and they then led him off to prison. But the deadly steel became soft and it bent, just as the spears would touch the body of the saint, and it caused him no hurt. In prison they put the feet of the martyr in stocks and placed an heavy stone on his chest.

The next day at the interrogation, powerless but firm of spirit, Saint George again answered the emperor: "Thou wilt become exhausted sooner, tormenting me, than I being tormented of thee". Then Diocletian gave orders to subject Saint George to some very intense tortures. They tied the GreatMartyr to a wheel, beneathe which were set up boards inset with sharp pieces of iron. With the turning of the wheel the sharp edges tore at the bared body of the saint. At first the sufferer loudly cried out to the Lord, but soon he quieted, not letting out even a single groan. Diocletian decided that the tortured one was already dead, and he gave orders to remove the battered body from the wheel, and set off then to a pagan temple to offer a thank-offering. But at this very moment it got dark all over, thunder boomed, and a voice was heard: "Fear not, George, for I am with thee". Then a wondrous light shone, and at the wheel appeared an Angel of the Lord in the form of a radiant youth. And just as he lay his hand upon the martyr, saying to him: "Rejoice!" -- Saint George stood up healed. And when the soldiers led him off to the pagan temple, where the emperor was, the emperor could not believe his own eyes and he thought, that in front of him was some other man or even a ghost. In confusion and in terror the pagans looked Saint George over carefully, and they became convinced, that actually a miracle had occurred. Many thereupon came to believe in the Life-Creating God of the Christians. Two illustrious officials, Saints Anatolios and Protoleon, -- secretly Christians, therewith openly confessed Christ. And right away, without a trial, by order of the emperor they were beheaded with the sword. Present also in the pagan temple was the Empress Alexandra, the wife of Diocletian, and she too knew the truth. She was on the point of glorifying Christ, but one of the servants of the emperor took her and led her off to the palace.

The emperor became all the more furious. But not having lost all hope of swaying Saint George, he gave him over to new quite fiercesome torments. Having thrown him down a deep pit, they covered it over with lime. Three days later they dug him out, but found him cheerful and unharmed. They shod the saint in iron sandals with red-hot nails, and with blows they drove him back to the prison. In the morning, when they led him back to the interrogation, cheerful and with healthy feet, he said to the emperor, that the sandals had fit him. Then they beat him with ox-thongs so much, that his body and blood became mingled with the ground, but the brave sufferer, strengthened by the power of God, remained unyielding.

Having decided, that magic was helping the saint, the emperor summoned the sorcerer Athanasias, so that he should try to deprive the saint of his miraculous powers, or else poison him. The sorcerer gave Saint George two goblets with drugged ingredients, the one of which should have quieted him, and the other -- to kill him. But the drugs also did not work -- and the saint as before continued to denounce the pagan superstitions and glorify the True God.

To the question of the emperor, what sort of power it was that helped the saint, Saint George answered: "Think not, that the torments do me no harm thanks to human powers, -- I am saved only by calling upon Christ and His Power. Whoso believeth on Him hath no regard for tortures and is able to do the deeds, that Christ did" (Jn. 14: 12). Diocletian asked, what sort of deeds were they that Christ did. "To give sight to the blind, to cleanse the leprous, to grant walking to the lame, and to the deaf hearing, to cast out devils, and to raise up the dead".

Knowing, that never whether by sorcery, nor by any of the gods known to him, never had they been able to resurrect the dead, and wanting to test the trust of the saint the emperor commanded him to raise up a dead person right in front of his eyes. To this the saint replied: "Thou wouldst tempt me, but for the salvation of the people which shalt see the deed of Christ, my God wilt work this sign". And when they led Saint George down to the graveyard, he cried out: "O Lord! Show to those here present, that Thou art the One-Only God throughout all the world, let them know Thee as the Almighty Lord". And the earth did quake, a grave opened up, the dead one came alive and emerged from it. Having seen with their own eyes the Almighty Power of Christ, the people wept and glorified the True God. The sorcerer Athanasias, falling down at the feet of Saint George, confessed Christ as the All-Powerful God and besought forgiveness of his sins, committed in ignorance. The obdurate emperor in his impiety thought otherwise: in a rage he commanded to be beheaded both the new-believer Athanasias and likewise the man resuscitated from the dead, and he had Saint George again locked up in prison. The people, weighed down with their infirmities, began in various ways to penetrate the prison and they there received healings and help from the saint. There resorted to him also a certain farmer named Glycerios, whose ox had collapsed. The saint with a smile consoled him and assured him, that God would restore his ox to life. Seeing at home the ox alive, the farmer began to glorify the God of the Christians throughout all the city. By order of the emperor, Saint Glycerios was arrested and beheaded.

The exploits and the miracles of the GreatMartyr George had increased the number of the Christians, and therefore Diocletian decided to make a final attempt to compel the saint to offer sacrifice to the idols. They began to set up a court at the pagan temple of Apollo. On the final night the holy martyr prayed fervently, and when he dozed off, he beheld the Lord Himself, Who raised him up with His hand, and hugged him in giving him a kiss of greeting. The Saviour placed on the head of the GreatMartyr a crown and said: "Fear not, but rather make bold and be vouchsafed My Kingdom".

In the morning at the court the emperor offered Saint George a new test -- he proposed to him to become his co-emperor. The holy martyr with a feigned willingness answered, that from the very beginning the emperor had seemed inclined not to torture him but rather shew mete mercy, and with this he expressed the wish to go forthwith into the pagan temple of Apollo. Diocletian decided, that the martyr was accepting his offer, and he followed after him into the pagan temple with his accompanying retinue and the people. Everyone waited, whether Saint George would offer sacrifice to the gods. He however, in going up to the idol, made the sign of the Cross and turned towards it, as though it were alive: "Thou wishest to receive from me sacrifice befitting God?" The demon inhabiting the idol cried out: "I am not God and none of those like me are God. The One-Only God is He Whom thou preachest. We are of those servant-angels of His, which became apostate, and in the grips of jealousy we do tempt people". "How dare ye to be here, when hither have come I, the servant of the True God?" -- asked the saint. Then was heard a crash and wailing, and the idols fell down and were shattered.

There began a general confusion. In a frenzy pagan-priests and many of the throng pounced upon the holy martyr, they tied him up and began to beat him and demand his immediate execution.

Into the noise and the shouts rushed the holy empress Alexandra. Pushing her way through the crowd, she cried out: "Thou God of George, help me, in as Thou Alone art All-Powerful". At the feet of the GreatMartyr the holy empress glorified Christ, Who had humiliated the idols and those worshipping them.

Diocletian in a rage immediately pronounced the death sentence against the GreatMartyr George and the holy Empress Alexandra, who without being accompanied, followed Saint George to execution. Along the way she collapsed and slumped senseless against a wall. Everyone thought, that the empress was dead. Saint George offered up thanks to God and he prayed, that he should end his path worthily. At the place of execution the saint in heated prayer besought the Lord, that He would forgive the torturers that knew not what they did, and that He would lead them to the knowledge of Truth. Calmly and bravely, the holy GreatMartyr George bent his neck beneathe the sword. This occurred on 23 April 303.

In confusion the executioners and the judges catch glimpse of their Conqueror. In a bloody agony and mindless thrashing about ended the era of paganism. It lasted for all of ten years more -- up until the time of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine, who was one of the successors to Diocletian upon the Roman throne, and who gave orders to imprint the Cross on his military-banners, as a testament also sealed by the blood of the GreatMartyr George and that of the blood of thousands of unknown martyrs: "By this sign thou wilt conquer".

Of the many miracles, worked by the holy GreatMartyr George, the most famous are depicted in iconography. In the native-region of the saint, at the city of Beirut, were many idol-worshippers. Outside the city, near Mount Lebanon, was situated a large lake, in which lived an enormous dragon-like serpent. Coming out of the lake, it devoured people, and there was nothing the people could do, since from one of its nostrils it infected the very air.

On the advice of the demons inhabiting the idols, the ruler there adopted this decision: each day the people would draw lots to give over as food their own children, and when the turn reached him, he promised to hand over his only daughter. That time indeed did come, and the ruler, having dressed her in her finest attire, sent her off to the lake. The girl wailed bitterly, awaiting the moment of death. Unexpectedly for her, the GreatMartyr George rode up on his horse and with spear in hand. The girl implored him not to leave her, lest she perish. But the saint, having caught sight of the serpent, signed himself with the Sign of the Cross and with the words "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit", he rushed off after it. The GreatMartyr George pierced the throat of the serpent with his spear and trampled it with his horse. Then he bid the girl bind the serpent with her sash, and like a dog, lead it into the city. The people fled in terror, but the saint halted them with the words: "Be not afraid, but rather trust on the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in Him, since it be He Who hath sent me to you, to save you". Then the saint killed the serpent with a sword, and the people burned it outside the city. Twenty-five thousand men, not counting women and children, were then baptised, and there was later built a church in the name of the MostHoly Mother of God and the GreatMartyr George.

Saint George went on to become a talented military officer and to amaze the world by his military exploits. He died, when he was not even 30 years old. Hastening to unite with the Heavenly army, he entered into the history of the Church as the Victory-Bearer ("Pobedonosets"). With this title he was glorified in early Christianity and Holy Rus'.

Saint George the Victory-Bearer was the patron saint and protector of several of the great builders of the Russian state and Russian military might. The son of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir, Yaroslav the Wise -- in holy Baptism Georgii (+ 1054), much advanced the veneration of the saint in the Russian Church. He built the city of Yur'ev [i.e. "of Yurii" -- "Yurii" being the diminutive of "Georgii", as "Ivan" is to "Ioann" (John)], he founded likewise the Yur'ev monastery at Novgorod, and he erected a church of Saint George the Victory-Bearer at Kiev. The day of the consecration of the Kiev Georgiev temple, done on 26 November 1051 by Sainted Ilarion, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus', entered forever into the liturgical treasury of the Church as a special churchly feastday -- Yur'ev Day, beloved by the Russian people as an "Autumn Saint George's Day".

The name of Saint George was indeed also borne by the founder of Moscow -- Yurii Dolgoruky (+ 1157), who was the builder of many a Georgiev church, and the builder of the city of Yur'ev-Pol'sk. In the year 1238 the heroic fight of the Russian nation against the Mongol Horde was headed by the Vladimir GreatPrince Yurii (Georgii) Vsevolodovich (+ 1238, Comm. 4 February), fallen into eternal rest in the Battle at the Sita River. His memory, just like that of Egor (Igor) the Brave, and defender of his native-land, was reflected in Russian spiritual versification and ballads. The first great-prince of Moscow, in the period when Moscow had become the centre of the gathering together of the Russian Land, was Yurii Danilovich (+ 1325) -- son of Saint Daniel of Moscow, and grandson of Saint Alexander Nevsky. From that time Saint George the Victory-Bearer -- the horseman, smiting the serpent -- became the coat of arms of Moscow and emblem of the Russian state. And this has more deeply strengthened the connections with Christian peoples and especially with the same-believing Iveria (Gruzia, or Georgia -- the Land of Saint George).

Saint Adalbert

Adalbert (Vojtěch) was born into a noble Czech family of Prince Slavník and his wife Střezislava in Libice nad Cidlinou, Bohemia. The Chambers Biographical Dictionary mistakenly gives his year of birth as 939.[1] His father was a rich and independent ruler of the Zličan princedom that rivaled Prague (see Slavník's dynasty). Adalbert had five full brothers: Soběslav (Slavnik's heir), Spytimír, Pobraslav, Pořej, Čáslav and a half-brother Radim (Gaudentius) from his father's liaison with another woman. Radim chose a clerical career as did Adalbert, and took the name Gaudentius. Adalbert was a well-educated man, having studied for about ten years (970-80) in Magdeburg under Saint Adalbert of Magdeburg. Upon the death of his mentor, he took the name Adalbert. Gifted and industrious, Adalbert soon became well-known all over Europe.

In 980 Adalbert finished his studies at Magdeburg school and returned to Prague, where he became a priest. In 981 his father, Prince Slavnik, and both his mentors died.

In 980 Adalbert finished his studies at Magdeburg school and returned to Prague, where he became a priest. In 981 his father, Prince Slavnik, and both his mentors died.

In 989 he resigned from his bishop's cloth and left Prague. He went to Rome and lived as a hermit in St. Alexis Benedictine monastery.

Four years later, in 993, Pope John XV sent him back to Bohemia. Adalbert became the Bishop again. That time he founded a monastery in Břevnov, near Prague, the first one in the Czech lands. Nonetheless, the nobility there continued to oppose his ministry. Also, according to Cosmas' chronicle, high clerical office was a burden to Adalbert, and in 994 he offered it to Strachkvas who was Přemyslid and Duke Boleslav's brother. Strachkvas, nevertheless, refused.

In 995 Slavniks' former rivalry with the Přemyslids (allied with Vršovci) resulted in the storming of Libice led by Boleslaus II the Pious. During the struggle four (or five) of Adalbert's brothers were murdered. Thus the Zličan princedom became part of the Přemyslids' estate.

Adalbert damned the murderers in church and, according to the legend, predicted that Vršovci would be severely persecuted. After the tragedy he could not stay in Bohemia and escaped from Prague, despite the Pope's call for him to return to his episcopal see. Strachkvas was eventually appointed to be his successor. However, when he was going to assume the Bishop office in Prague, he suddenly died during the ceremony itself. Circumstances of his death are still unclear.

As for Adalbert, he went to Hungary and baptized Géza of Hungary and his son Stephen in the city of Esztergom. Then he went to Poland where he was cordially welcomed by Bolesław I the Brave. After the short visit Adalbert went to Prussia with a Christian mission.

Adalbert of Prague had already in 977 entertained the idea of becoming a missionary in Prussia. After he had converted Hungary, he was sent by the Pope to convert the heathen Prussians. Boleslaus the Brave, duke of Poland (later king), sent soldiers with Adalbert. The bishop and his followers - including his half-brother Radim (Gaudentius) - entered Prussian territory and went along the Baltic Sea coast to Gdańsk.

It was a standard procedure of Christian missionaries to try to chop down sacred oak trees, which they had done in many other places, including Saxony. Because the trees were worshipped and the spirits who were believed to inhabit the trees were feared for their powers, this was done to demonstrate to the non-Christians that no supernatural powers protected the trees from the Christians.

When they did not heed warnings to stay away from the sacred oak groves, Adalbert was martyred in April 997 on the Baltic Sea coast east of Truso (currently Elbląg, Elbing), or near Tenkitten and Fischhausen It is recorded that his body was bought back for its weight in gold by Boleslaus the Brave.

A few years later Adalbert was canonized as Saint Adalbert of Prague. His life has been written about in Vita Sancti Adalberti Pragensis by various writers, the earliest being traced to imperial Aachen and Liège/Lüttich's bishop Notger von Lüttich, although it was assumed for many years that the Roman monk John Canaparius wrote the first Vita in 999. Another famous biographer of Adalbert was Saint Bruno of Querfurt who wrote his hagiography in 1001–1004.

Notably, Bohemian rulers (i.e., Přemyslids) initially refused to ransom Saint Adalbert's body from the Prussians who murdered him, so it was purchased by Poles. This fact may be explained by Saint Adalbert's belonging to the Slavniks family; it highlights the strength of the two clans' conflict. Thus Saint Adalbert's bones were stored in Gniezno and helped Boleslaus the Brave to improve Poland's position in Europe.

According to Bohemian accounts, in 1039 the Bohemian duke Břetislav I looted the bones of Saint Adalbert from Gniezno in a raid and moved them to Prague. According to Polish accounts he took the wrong relics, those of St Gaudensius, while Saint Adalbert's relics were hidden by the Poles and remain in Gniezo. In 1127 the decapitated head, which was not in the original purchase (according to Roczniki Polskie) was found and moved to Gniezno. In 1928, one of the arms of Saint Adalbert, which Bolesław I had given to Otto III in the year 1000, was added to the bones preserved in Gniezno. Today Saint Adalbert has two elaborate shrines claiming to contain his remains, in the cathedrals of Prague and Gniezno, and which bones are authentic is not clear. For example, the saint has two skulls - one in Prague, a second in Gniezno (stolen in 1923).

The Holy Empress Alexandra

The Holy Empress Alexandra: her supposed death was described in the Martyrdom Act of Saint George, which was compiled immediately after his death. The empress, however, was vouchsafed the crown of martyrdom some several years later, in the year 314.

During these years occurred many events. In the year 305 the emperor Diocletian resigned the throne and power passed to his co-ruler Maximian Galerius (305-311), a fanatic pagan, and a coarse and fierce soldier. His wife was the daughter of the holy Empress Alexandra -- the holy Martyress Valeria, whom Diocletian had given in marriage against her will back during the years of his reign. Saint Alexandra raised her daughter in Christian piety. When Galerius died, the emperor Maximinus sought her hand in marriage. Having received a refusal, he banished Saint Valeria to Syria, where she lived with her mother. After the death of Maximinus in 313 the mother and daughter arrived in Nicomedia, hoping on the mercy of the emperor Licinius (313-324). Together with the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine, he had subscribed to the Edict of Milan, which presented Christians the freedom to confess their faith, but secretly he remained an enemy of Christianity. Licinius gave orders to execute the holy Empress Alexandra and her daughter Valeria. They were beheaded, and their bodies thrown into the sea.

Blessed Georgii of Shenkursk

Blessed Georgii of Shenkursk was a contemporary of the Monk Varlaam of Vazhsk and Shenkursk (+ 1462, Comm. 19 June). According to the sacral manuscripts, he died on the day of his saint's-name-in-common (tezoimenstvo), 23 April. Blessed Georgii is depicted in tattered clothing, barefoot, and with prayerfully placed hands. In the praises, compiled during the XVI Century for Righteous Prokopii, Fool-for-Christ, Ustiug Wonderworker (+ 1303, Comm. 8 July), it says: "The River Vaga, on which is Shenkursk city, the Fool Georgii doth bless". Other accounts about him have not been preserved.

April 24

The Martyr Sava

The Martyr Sava came from a Gothic tribe. For his bravery he attained the high rank of military-commander or "stratilates", and he served under the Roman emperor Aurelian (270-275).

From the time of his youth Sava was a Christian and he fervently followed the commands of Christ, he helped the needy and visited Christians locked up in prison. For his pure and virtuous life the saint received from the Lord the gift of wonderworking and in the Name of Christ he healed the sick and cast out demons.

When the emperor learned that Saint Sava was a Christian, he demanded that he apostacise. The martyr threw down his military sash and declared, that he would not forsake his faith. They beat him, burnt at him with torches, threw him in a cauldron with tar, but the martyr remained unharmed.

Looking on at his torments, 70 Soldiers came to believe in Christ, who then were beheaded by the sword. Saint Sava they threw in prison. At midnight during the time of prayer, Christ appeared to the martyr and shone on him the Light of His Glory. The Saviour bid him not to fear, but rather stand firm. Encouraged, the Martyr Sava underwent new torture in the morning and was drownded in a river (+ 272).

The Monk Thomas the Fool-for-Christ

The Monk Thomas the Fool-for-Christ was a monk in one of the monasteries in Caesarea Cappadocia (Asia Minor). He bore obedience in the collecting of alms for the monastery. When the Monk Thomas arrived in the city of Syrian Antioch, he then took upon himself the exploit of folly.

The steward of one of the churches, a certain Anastasias, became annoyed with the implorings of the Monk Thomas, and struck him on the cheek. Those present reproached Anastasias for rudely inappropriate a manner of dealing with the fool, but the Monk Thomas quieted them, saying: "From this moment I shalt accept nothing further from Anastasias, nor wilt Anastasias be able to give me anything further". These words proved prophetic. On the very next day Anastasias died, and the monk likewise died along the roadside to his monastery, at a church of Saint Euthymios in the suburb of Daphna. They buried him at a place set aside for the burial of strangers.

After a certain while they buried another stranger over the grave of the monk. After four hours the ground on the grave of the stranger was thrown aside. They again covered the grave, but in the morning the ground on the grave again lay open. They then reburied the stranger in another place.

But this was repeated when they buried two women nearby. All then realised, that the Monk Thomas did not wish to have a woman buried over him. The occurrence was reported to the Antioch patriarch Domnos (546-560). At his command the relics of the Monk Thomas were transferred to Antioch and placed in a graveyard, where rested the relics of many holy martyrs. Over these relics, from which many healings occurred, they built a small church.

Through the prayers of the Monk Thomas a deadly plague ceased at Antioch. And from that time the inhabitants began annually to honour the memory of the Monk Thomas.

The Nun Elizabeth the Wonderworker

The Nun Elizabeth the Wonderworker was chosen to the service of God while still at birth. It was revealed to her mother, that the girl would be a chosen vessel of the Holy Spirit.

In childhood the parents gave off their daughter to a monastery. She grew up in fasting and works and received the gift to heal infirmities not only of body, but also of soul.

The sisters chose the nun to be hegumeness. The nun wore the attire of a coarse hairshirt. Her body withered, but her spirit blazed with the flame of Divine Love.

The abstinence of the saint was immeasurable: for many years she ate only grass and vegetables without bread, and wine and oil she did not partake of. Many a time the Nun Elizabeth passed the whole of the Forty-Day Great Lent, partaking of nothing at all. Imitating the Publican in humility, for three years she did not lift up her eyes to the heavens, but with her spiritual eyes she looked constantly to God. At the midnight prayers the nun was alight and illuminated by Heavenly Light.

Many miracles were done by the nun: a vicious viper was killed by her prayer, she healed a woman with issue of blood who had been for many a year sick, and she cast out unclean spirits from people. Upon her death the grave of the Nun Elizabeth likewise gave forth healings from illness. Even the very dust, taken from over her relics, gave the blind to see.

The Monk Savva of Pechersk

The Monk Savva of Pechersk asceticised in the Nearer Caves of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery during the XIII Century. In the manuscripts of the Saints, in the "Book about the Saints", and in the Canon of Services to the Kievo-Pechersk Monks, he is called a wonderworker. His memory is celebrated 24 April because of his name-in-common (tezoimenstvo) with the holy Martyr Sava Stratilates. The memory of the Monk Savva is also celebrated together with the Sobor-Assemblage of the Monastic Fathers of the Nearer Caves (28 September), and in the Sobor-Assemblage of all the Kievo-Pechersk Wonderworkers (Second Sunday of Great Lent).

The Monk Alexei, Hermit of Pechersk

The Monk Alexei, Hermit of Pechersk, asceticised in the Nearer Caves of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery during the XIII Century. His relics were uncovered after the year 1675. The memory of the Monk Alexei is celebrated on 24 April, because his relics rest alongside the relics of the Monk Savva of Pechersk. His memory is likewise with the Sobor-Assemblage of the Monastic Fathers of the Nearer Caves (28 September) and with the Sobor-Assemblage of all the Kievo-Pechersk Wonderworkers (Second Sunday of Great Lent).

The Martyrs Pasicratus and Valentine

The Martyrs Pasicratus and Valentine came from the Myzean city of Dorostolum and were soldiers under the governor Absolanus. Pasicratus was 22 years of age, and Valentine age 30.

When a persecution against Christians started, the Martyrs Pasicratus and Valentine openly confessed their faith in Christ. At the trial the Martyr Pasicratus spit at the idol of Apollo, in his refusing to offer sacrifice.

The brother of Saint Pasicratus wept and urged him to offer sacrifice to the idols just for the appearance of doing do. But the martyr placed his hand on the sacrifice in the fire and said: "The body is mortal and burns in the fire, the soul however is immortal and contemns all visible torments". The Martyr Valentine likewise showed his readiness to suffer for Christ.

When they led the martyrs to execution, after them also followed the mother of Saint Pasicratus and she exhorted her son not to fear death for Christ. Both martyrs were beheaded by the sword (+ 288).

The Martyrs Eusebios, Neon, Leontios, Longin and 40 Others

The Martyrs Eusebios, Neon, Leontios, Longin and 40 Others were present at the sufferings of the GreatMartyr George (+ 303, Comm. 23 April), through which they came to believe in Christ. They were then locked up in prison. After the execution of the GreatMartyr George, the emperor Diocletian (284-305) issued an edict, that all the prisoners were to offer sacrifice to the idols. The martyrs refused. They beat them with iron rods, almost laying bare their insides, and then their heads were chopped off with the sword (+ 303).

St. Joseph, the Confessor of Maramures

Saint Joseph was born in the seventeenth century, and was consecrated as a bishop in Moldavia (northern Romania in 1690 by Metropolitan Dositheus. This was a period of great trials and sufferings for the people of Maramures (in northern Romania) because the Roman Catholic authorities wanted to wipe out Orthodoxy in the region.

St Joseph was a zealous defender of the Orthodox Faith, and therefore he was jailed by the civil authorities. He died in 1711 after suffering for the truth and defending his flock.

St Joseph the Confessor was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Romania in 1992.

April 25

The Holy Disciple and Evangelist Mark

The Holy Disciple and Evangelist Mark, named also John-Mark (Acts 12: 12), was a Disciple from among the Seventy, and was also a nephew of the Disciple Barnabas (Comm. 11 June). He was born at Jerusalem. The house of his mother Mary adjoined the Garden of Gethsemane. As Church Tradition relates, on the night of the Sufferings of Christ on the Cross he followed after Him, wrapped in a linen winding-cloth, and he fled from the soldiers catching hold of him (Mk. 14: 51-52). After the Ascension of the Lord, the house of his mother Saint Mary became a place of prayerful gatherings of Christians and a lodging for certain of the Apostles (Acts 12: 12).

Saint Mark was a very close companion of the Apostles Peter and Paul (Comm. 29 June) and of the Disciple Barnabas. Saint Mark was at Seleucia together with Paul and Barnabas, and from there he set off to the island of Cyprus, and he crossed over the whole of it from East to West. In the city of Paphos Saint Mark was an eye-witness, of how the Apostle Paul had struck blind the sorcerer Elymas (Acts 13: 6-12).

After working with the Apostle Paul, Saint Mark returned to Jerusalem, and then with the Apostle Peter he arrived in Rome, from whence at the latter's bidding he set out for Egypt, where he became founder of the Church.

During the time of the second evangelic journey of the Apostle Paul, Saint Mark met up with him at Antioch. From there he set out preaching with the Disciple Barnabas to Cyprus, and then he went off again to Egypt, where together with the Apostle Peter he founded many churches, and then also at Babylon. From this city the Apostle Peter directed an Epistle to the Christians of Asia Minor, in which he points to Saint Mark as his spiritual son (1 Pet. 5: 13).

When the Apostle Paul came in chains to Rome, the Disciple Mark was at Ephesus, where the cathedra-seat was occupied by Saint Timothy (Comm. 4 January). The Disciple Mark arrived together with him in Rome. There also he wrote his holy Gospel (c. 62-63).

From Rome Saint Mark again set off to Egypt. At Alexandria he made the beginnings of a Christian school, from which later on emerged such famous fathers and teachers of the Church, as Clement of Alexandria, Sainted Dionysios (5 October), Sainted Gregory Thaumatourgos ("Wonderworker", Comm. 5 November), and others. Zealous with the arranging of Church Divine-services, the holy Disciple Mark compiled the order of Liturgy for the Alexandrian Christians.

Later on in preaching the Gospel, Saint Mark also visited the inner regions of Africa, and he was in Libya at Nektopolis.

During the time of these journeys, Saint Mark received inspiration of the Holy Spirit to go again to Alexandria and confront the pagans. There he visited at the home of the dignitary Ananias, for whom he healed a crippled hand. The dignitary happily took him in, hearkened with faith to his narratives, and received Baptism. And following the example of Ananias, many of the inhabitants of that part of the city where he lived were baptised after him. This roused the enmity of the pagans, and they gathered to kill Saint Mark. Having learned of this, the holy Disciple Mark made Ananias bishop, and the three Christians: Malchos, Sabinos and Kerdinos -- presbyters.

The pagans pounced upon Saint Mark when he was making Divine-services. They beat him, dragged him through the streets and threw him in prison. There Saint Mark was granted a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who strengthened him before his sufferings. On the following day the angry crowd again dragged the holy disciple through the streets towards the court-room, but along the way Saint Mark died with the words: "Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit".

The pagans wanted to burn the body of the holy disciple. But when they lit up the bon-fire, everything grew dim, thunder crashed and an earthquake occurred. The pagans fled in terror, and Christians took up the body of the holy disciple and buried it in a stone crypt. This was on 4 April in the year 63. The Church celebrates his memory on 25 April.

In the year 310, a church was built over the relics of the holy Disciple Mark. In the year 820, when the Mahometan Arabs had established their rule in Egypt and those of this different faith oppressed the Christian Church, the relics of Saint Mark were transferred to Venice and placed in the church of his name.

In the ancient iconographic tradition, which adopted symbols for the holy Evangelists borrowed from the vision of Saint John the Theologian (Rev. 4: 7), the holy Evangelist Mark is depicted by a lion -- symbolising the might and royal dignity of Christ (Rev. 5: 5). Saint Mark wrote his Gospel for Christians from among the gentile-pagans, since he emphasises predominantly the words and deeds of the Saviour, in which particularly is manifest His Divine Almightiness. The many particularities of his account can be explained by his proximity to the holy Apostle Peter. All the ancient writers testify, that the Gospel of Mark represents a concise writing-down of the preaching and narratives of the first-ranked Apostle Peter. One of the central theological themes in the Gospel of Saint Mark is the theme of the power of God, doing the humanly impossible, wherein the Lord makes possible that which of man is impossible. By the efficacy of Christ (Mk. 16: 20) and the Holy Spirit (Mk. 13: 11), His disciples are to go forth into the world and preach the Gospel to all creatures (Mk. 13: 10, 16: 15).

The Monk Sylvester (Syl'vestr) of Obnorsk

The Monk Sylvester (Syl'vestr) of Obnorsk was a disciple and novice under the Monk Sergei of Radonezh (+ 1392, Comm. 25 September and 5 July). After completing obedience at the Trinity monastery, the Monk Sylvester received blessing for wilderness-dwelling.

In the deep forest at the River Obnora, flowing into the River Kostroma, he set up at his chosen spot a cross and began to asceticise. For a long time no one knew about the holy hermit. His cell was by chance discovered by a peasant who had lost his way. He told the distraught hermit, how he had come to this place, over which earlier he had seen luminous rays, and then pillars of cloud. The monk shed tears of sorrow, that the place of his solitude had been found out. The pilgrim besought the saint to tell about himself.

The Monk Sylvester said, that he was already living here no short while, and that he ate tree bark and roots. At first he became weak without bread and fell on the ground from his weakness. But then an Angel appeared to him in the guise of a wondrous man and touched his hand. From that moment the Monk Sylvester did not experience any distress. And then the peasant another time, this time deliberately, came back to the monk and brought him bread and flour for reserve supply.

This one meeting was sufficient for the exploits of the hermit to become known to many. Soon peasants began to come to him from the surrounding though not close settlements. The Monk Sylvester did not refuse them to build cells alongside him.

When the brethren had gathered, the monk himself set off to Moscow and petitioned of Sainted Alexei (1354-1378, Comm. 12 February) blessing for the construction of a temple in honour of the Resurrection (Voskresenie) of Christ. The sainted-hierarch entrusted to him an antimins ["antimension" or 'corporal" for the altar-table, needful for celebrating of Divine Liturgy], and made him hegumen of the monastery. With the construction of the church the number of brethren quickly grew, and the monk frequently withdrew for prayer into the dense forest. This spot received the name "Commanded-Grove", since the Monk Sylvester commanded that no trees should be cut there. In the thick of this grove the monk himself dug out three wells, and a fourth -- on the side of an hill at the River Obnora. When the monk returned from his solitude, there usually awaited him around the monastery a number of people, and each wanted to receive his blessing and hear his advice.

When the saint fell into a fatal illness, the brethren, who were distressed about his going off into solitude, were even more distressed about the impending end of the saint. "Grieve not over this, my beloved brethren, -- the monk said to them in solace, -- for in everything is the will of God. Keep the commandments of the Lord and fear not in this life to suffer misfortune, so as to receive reward in Heaven. If indeed I have boldness before the Lord and my deed be pleasing to Him, then this holy place will not diminish with my departure. But pray the Lord God and His All-Pure Mother, that ye be delivered from temptation of evil". The monk died on 25 April 1479 and was buried towards the right side of the wooden Resurrection church.

There has been preserved from the year 1645 a record of miracles of the monk, in which 23 miracles are described. In quite a number the monk healed from demonic-possession (12 cases) and delirium, and from eye-afflictions (6 cases). A lesson-teaching miracle occurred in 1645. The priestmonk Job of the monastery directed peasants to cut down the interdicted forest-grove for firewood, and for this he was struck blind. After four weeks he acknowledged his sin, repented and gave a vow not to act on his own will, but to do everything on the advice of the brethren. The priestmonk finished out the molieben in church, after which he was brought up to the reliquary of the Monk Sylvester, and there he regained his sight.

Sainted Macedonias, Patriarch of Constantinople

Sainted Macedonias, Patriarch of Constantinople, guided his flock through the years 496-511. He was exiled to Paphlagonia for his activity opposing the heresy of Eutykhias, under the emperor Anastasias I (491-518). He died in exile in the year 516. His body was buried at Tsar'grad (Constantinople) in the church of Saint Kallinikos. At the funeral service the saint was "re-baptised" [by the heretics].

St. Phaebadius (Fiari) Bishop of Agen in the south of France

When the second Arian confession of faith was drawn up at Sirmium, and subscribed to by Osius, in 358, St. Phæbadius wrote against it with great success, and by his zeal put a check to that spreading evil, so that in Aquitain it was universally rejected. His book against the Arians, which is extant, 1 is written in so masterly a manner, with such solidity, justness, and close reasoning, as to make us regret the loss of his other works. In it he confutes this heretical confession of faith, and even in the more innocent parts discovers the secret wiles and subtle equivocations of its authors. In the council of Rimini, in 359, he zealously opposed the Arians, together with St. Servatius of Tongres. These two prelates were at length imposed upon by the artful practices of Ursacius and Valens, to admit a captious proposition, without perceiving the poison which it contained. But, discovering afterwards the snare, they declared they had been deceived, and condemned what they had done at Rimini. 2 St. Phæbadius, to repair this evil, redoubled his zeal in the council of Paris, in 360, and in the council of Saragossa, in Spain, in 380, and joined St. Delphinus, archbishop of Bourdeaux, his metropolitan, in all his labours for the faith. We have a learned, elegant, and solid treatise, in which the council of Rimini is confuted, and Ursacius and Valens attacked, of which Dom Rivet proves 3 St. Phæbadius to have been the author. A Greek translation of this piece is published among the discourses of St. Gregory Nazianzen, it being the forty-ninth. St. Phæbadius was alive in a very decrepid old age, in 392, when St. Jerom wrote his catalogue of illustrious men.

April 26

The PriestMartyr Basil, Bishop of Amasea

The PriestMartyr Basil, Bishop of Amasea, lived at the beginning of the IV Century in the Pontine city of Amasea. He encouraged and comforted the Christians, suffering persecution by the pagans. During this time the Eastern part of the Roman empire was ruled by Licinius (312-324), a relative by marriage to the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles emperor Constantine the Great (306-337, Comm. 21 May). Licinius deceitfully undersigned Constantine's "Edict of Religious Toleration" (313), which permitted the freely open confession of Christianity, but at heart he hated Christians and continued to persecute them to return to paganism.

Licinius burned with passion for a maid-servant of his wife Constancia, -- the Righteous Virgin Galphyra. The holy maid reported about this to the empress and sought her intercession. Having dressed her in men's attire and provided her with money, the empress Constancia sent her away from the city in the company of a devoted servant. They told the emperor, that the maid-servant had gone mad and lay near death. Righteous Glaphyra on the road to Armenia remained in the city of Amasea, where the local bishop, Saint Basil, gave her shelter.

At this time the saint was building a church in the city. Righteous Glaphyra for its construction gave over all the money that she had received from Constancia, and in a letter to the empress she besought her to send additional funds to complete the church. The empress fulfilled her request. But the letter of Righteous Galphyra fell into the hands of the emperor. The enraged Licinius demanded the governor of Amasea to send him the sainted-hierarch and the maid-servant. Righteous Galphyra died (+ 322) before the edict arrived in Amasea. They dispatched Saint Basil to the emperor. Two deacons, Parthenias and Thestimos, followed after him and lodged near the prison where they locked up the saint.

The pious Christian Elpidyphoros bribed the jailer and each night together with Parthenias and Thestimos he visited the saint. On the eve of the trial day of the saint he sang psalms and the words "if I be at the very depths of the sea, even there wilt Thy hand guide me and Thine right hand hold me" (Ps. 138 [139]: 9-10) -- and thrice he broke down into tears. The deacons were apprehensive that the saint would be in distress over the coming torments, but he calmed them.

At the trial Saint Basil resolutely refused the suggestion of the emperor to become a pagan high-priest, and therefore he was sentenced to death. Elpidyphoros got to the soldiers with money, and they allowed the saint to pray and to speak with his friends before the execution. After this, the saint said to the executioner: "Friend, do what thou art ordered to", -- and calmly he bent beneathe the blow of the sword.

When the martyr had been beheaded, Elpidyphoros tried to ransom his remains from the soldiers. But the soldiers were afraid of the emperor and they threw the body and head of the saint into the sea. After this, three times in a dream an Angel of God appeared before Elpidyphoros with the words: "Bishop Basil is in Sinope and doth await you". Heeding this call, Elpidyphoros and the deacons sailed to Sinope and there they hired fishermen to lower their nets. When they lowered the net "on the suggestion" of the deacons Thestimos and Parthenias, they came up with nothing. Thereupon Elpidyphoros declared, that he would ask them to lower the net in the Name of the God, Whom he did worship. This time the net brought up the body of Saint Basil. The head had come back together with it, and only the gash on the neck indicated the strike of the sword. The relics of Saint Basil were conveyed to Amasea and buried in the church built by him.

Sainted Stephen the Enlightener of Perm'

Sainted Stephen the Enlightener of Perm', and Apostle to the Zyryani People, was born in about the year 1340 into the family of the Ustiug church-assistant Simeon. Under the influence of his pious mother Maria, endowed with great abilities, he displayed already in his young years an unusual zeal for the service of the Church: in a single year he learned to read the Holy Books and he assisted his father in church during Divine-services, fulfilling the duty of kanonarch, arranging church music, and also that of reader.

In youth the saint took monastic vows at a monastery in honour of Sainted Gregory the Theologian at Rostov. The monastery was famed for its fine collection of books. Saint Stephen wanted to read the holy fathers in the original and for this he studied the Greek language. In his youth when he had assisted his father in church, he frequently spoke with the Zyryani people. And now, having been immersed in the rich culture of the Church, Saint Stephen burned with a desire to convert the Zyryani to Christ.

For the enlightening of the Zyryani, he compiled an alphabet of their language and translated into it some of the Church books. For his pious deed the Rostov bishop, Arsenii (1374-1380), ordained him to the dignity of monk-deacon. Having prepared himself for missionary activity, Saint Stephen journeyed to Moscow (1379) to the Kolomensk bishop, Gerasim, who then oversaw the affairs of the metropolitanate, and the saint petitioned him: "Bless me, Vladyka, to go into a pagan land -- Perm'. I want to teach the holy faith to the unbelieving people. I am resolved either to lead them to Christ, or for Christ to lay down my head for them". The bishop with joy blessed him and ordained him to the dignity of priest-monk. He provided him with an antimins ("antimension" or "corporal" for the altar-table), holy chrism and Divine-service books, and GreatPrince Dimitrii Ioannovich gave him a grammota (document) of safe-passage.

From Ustiug Saint Stephen made his way along the North Dvina River up to the confluence of the Vychegda into it, where settlements of the Zyryani began. The proponent of faith in Christ suffered many a toil, and struggle, deprivation and sorrow, living amidst the pagans who worshipped idols "with fire, water, trees, a stone and golden woman-figure, and shaman, and wizard, and wood".

The Zyryani were wont to make their devotions particularly in front of a so-called "magic-mischief birch tree". Immense in its thickness and height, the birch tree grew on an elevated spot. The Zyryani gathered at it and brought wild animals they caught as sacrifice. Saint Stephen made his cell not far from the birch tree and made use of the gathering of the superstitious pagans at the tree, to teach the holy truth. Then Saint Stephen cut down and burnt the birch tree for the dispelling of the superstition. The Zyryani gathered to kill him. The saint turned to them preaching: "Judge for yourselves, whether or not your gods have any power, when they are not able to defend themselves from the fire? Are they gods, when they are so powerless, and indeed possess not only not a mind, but neither also ears nor sight? And your divinity could not defend itself against me, a weak man. Are all your other gods such as this? Not so is the Christian God. He sees everything, knows everything and is Almighty, since He created the whole world and fore-thinks everything. And how blessedly good He is, particularly for those knowing Him! I desire what is good for you, bringing the True God to you. He wilt love you and bless you, when ye begin to honour Him genuinely". On the place of "the magic-mischief birch tree", Saint Stephen built a church in honour of the Archangel Michael, the dispeller of the spirits of darkness.

The baptised Zyryani themselves began to do away with that, which earlier they had worshipped: they cut down sacred trees, they destroyed idols; the rich gifts, set aside for the pagan sacrifices, they brought to Saint Stephen. He bid his Zyryan helper Matthew to throw it all into the fire and permitted only the use of the linen cloth for foot wrappings.

But things came to a final culmination among the Zyryani after Saint Stephen got the better of their chief-priest Pam, who rose up against the dissemination of the holy faith. The pagan priest entered into a debate with Saint Stephen. "Christian, you have only but the one God, -- said Pam, -- but we have many an helper on the dry land, and in the water, granting us a lucky hunt in the forests and with its abundance providing Moscow, the Horde and faraway lands; they impart to us the magic mysteries, inaccessible to you". Saint Stephen answered, that the True God -- is one; the Almighty -- is one, but that the idol-gods evidently through the test of experience are powerless. After lengthy dispute the pagan-priest Pam in a proof of his faith made a challenge to go through fire and water, and demanded that Saint Stephen do this. "I have no command of poetic verse, -- humbly answered Saint Stephen, -- but great is the Christian God: thus I shall go it with thee". Pam however lost his nerve and besought the saint to save him from certain death. "Ye art witnesses, -- said Saint Stephen to the gathered people, -- how he demanded to resolve the dispute about faith by means of fire and water, but now doth not wish to be baptised. Who now hath regard for Pam? What is to be done with him?" "Let the deceiver be put to death, -- answered the people, -- for if Pam be set free, he wilt make mischief for thee". "No, -- answered the saint, -- Christ hath sent me not to hand someone over to death, but to teach. Pam desireth not to accept the saving faith, , wherefore let his stubbornness punish him, but not I". Pam was banished. In thanksgiving to the Lord for victory over the chief pagans, Saint Stephen built at Vishero a church in honour of Saint Nicholas. After this, the preaching of the saint about Christ began to go all the more successfully.

In 1383 Saint Stephen was ordained bishop of Malaya Perm' (Lesser Perm'). Like a doting father he incessantly concerned himself about his flock. For the encouraging in the faith of the newly-converted, Saint Stephen opened schools alongside the churches, where they studied the Holy Books in the Permian language. The saint supervised the instructions, and taught them the necessities for them to become priests and deacons. Saint Stephen taught several of his students how to write in the Permian language. The saint constructed churches, in which he put priests from among the Zyryani, and led Divine-services in the Zyryani tongue.

Saint Stephen transposed into the Zyryani language the Chasoslov (Book of Hours), the Psalter, selected readings from the Gospel and the Epistles, the Paroemnik (Church-service Old testament readings), the Stikhirar (Church-service "stikhi" verses), Oktoikhon (Eight Tones), several feastday services and the Divine liturgy.

During a time of crop failure the saint provided the Zyryani with bread, many a time he delivered them from being taken advantage of and from the trickery of corrupt officials, he bestowed alms upon them, and defended them from the incursion of other tribes, interceding for them at Moscow. The fruition of his efforts and good deeds came in the conversion of all the extent of the Perm' land to Christianity. This great deed was accomplished by his strength of faith and Christian love. The life of the saint -- was a victory of faith over unbelief, of love and meekness -- over malice and impiety.

There was a touching "meeting in absence" of Sainted Stephen of Perm' with the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, occurring in the year 1390 during the time of a journey of the saint to Moscow on church business. Saint Stephen fervently loved the Radonezh ascetic and very much wanted to pay him a visit on the way from the Perm' land, but was not able to do so because of insufficient time. Being 10 versts from the monastery of the Monk Sergei, Saint Stephen in praying turned towards the direction of the monastery and with a bow he uttered: "Peace unto thee, spiritual brother!" The Monk Sergei, who sat together with the brethren at the refectory meal, stood up, made a prayer and, bowing towards the direction where the saint rode, answered: "Hail also to thee, thou pastor of the flock of Christ, and the peace of God dwell with thee!"

The deep spiritual connection of Sainted Stephen of Perm' and the Monk Sergei of Radonezh is testified to even at present by a particular daily prayer to them at the refectory-dining of the brethren.

Besides building churches, Saint Stephen founded for the Zyryani also several monasteries: the Saviour Ul'yanovsk wilderness-monastery 165 versts from Ust'-Sysol'sk, the Stephanovsk -- 60 versts from Ust'-Sysol'sk, the Ust'-Vymsk Arkhangel'sk, and the Yarengsk Arkhangel'sk.

In the year 1395 Saint Stephen again set out to Moscow on affairs of his flock, and here died. His body was placed in the monastery "Saviour at the Wall" (in a church to the north in honour of the Saviour) in the Moscow Kremlin. The Zyryani bitterly bewailed the death of their apostle. They earnestly entreated the Moscow prince and the Metropolitan to send back to Perm' the body of their patron, but Moscow did not wish to part with the remains of the great saint.

The glorification of Sainted Stephen began already at the beginning of the XV Century. The Life of the saint was written soon after his death. The service to him was compiled by the priestmonk Pakhomii the Serb, together with the priestmonk Epiphanii the Wise, who was a student of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh and also well knew Saint Stephen and loved to converse with him.

April 27

The Holy Disciple and PriestMartyr Simeon, Kinsman of the Lord

The Holy Disciple and PriestMartyr Simeon, Kinsman of the Lord, was the son of Cleopas, younger brother of Saint Joseph the Betrothed. In his adolescent years he beheld the miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ, believed in Him and became one of the 70 Disciples. Saint Simeon preached the teachings of Christ, exhorted the truths of holy faith and denounced idol-worship. After the killing of the holy Apostle James, the first bishop of Jerusalem (+ 63, Comm. 23 October) -- in his place the Christians chose the holy Disciple Simeon. During the reign of emperor Trajan (98-117) it was reported to the Roman governor Atticus that Saint Simeon was descended from the lineage of King David (the Romans exterminated all the descendants of King David) and was confessing the Christian faith. The pagans seized hold of Saint Simeon, who at that time was already an hundred year old man, and after lengthy torture they crucified him on a cross.

The Monk Stephan, Hegumen of Pechersk

The Monk Stephan, Hegumen of Pechersk, Bishop of Vladimir-Volynsk, pursued asceticism in his youthful years at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery under the guidance of the Monk Theodosii (+ 1074, Comm. 3 May) and was his favourite student. The Monk Theodosii sometimes entrusted him in his place to exhort the brethren with words of edification. Before the death of the Monk Theodosii the monks petitioned him to appoint as hegumen Saint Stephan, who was the domesticus (chief arranger for the choir). "He grew up under thy hand, -- they said, -- and he served thee; give him to us". And the Monk Theodosii transferred the guidance of the monastery to the Monk Stephan. During his hegumenate was built the foundation of a spacious temple in honour of the Uspenie (Repose) of the MostHoly Mother of God begun under the Monk Theodosii. The cells of the brethren were moved near the new church, and at the front of the place were left several cells for monks, who were entrusted with burying the dead and to make daily Divine Liturgy with commemoration for the dead.

In 1078 the Monk Stephan was compelled to forsake the monastery. On another hill -- not far from his native monastery, he founded a new monastery in honour of the MostHoly Mother of God (in memory of the Placing of Her Robe at Blakhernae) which was called Klovsk. The monastery was founded in thanksgiving for the blessed actions of the Mother of God towards the Pechersk monastery. The Monk Stephan beheld how master stone-workers were come from Greece with the icon of the Mother of God and they told him of the appearance of the Heavenly Queen at Blakhernae. And because of this, Saint Stephan also made at Klovsk a church in honour of the Mother of God.

In 1091 Saint Stephan was made bishop at Vladimir-Volynsk and he participated in the transfer of the relics of the Monk Theodosii from the cave to the monastery (Comm. 14 August). He laboured much at converting the inhabitants of Volynsk to Christianity. Sainted Stephan died on 27 April 1094 during the 6th hour of the night.

Holy Martyrs Poplionus and Lollionus the New

About the Holy Martyrs Poplionus and Lollionus the New is known only that the first was beheaded with a sword, and the second accepted a martyr's death by being dragged along the ground. Accounts about the time and place of their acts have not been preserved.

Righteous Eulogios the Hospitable-to-Strangers

Righteous Eulogios the Hospitable-to-Strangers lived during the IV Century in the Thebaid. He bore the ascetic deed of service to wanderers.

The Monk John, Hegumen of the Katharoi Monastery

The Monk John, Hegumen of the Katharoi Monastery, was born at Eirenopolis in the year 778. He was a monk at Constantinople, and afterwards at Dalmatia monastery. Under emperor Nicephoras I (802-811), he became hegumen of the monastery of the Katharoi (chistikh or pure), -- which had been founded under the emperor Justin (518-527) near Nicea. The monk underwent persecution for venerating holy icons under the emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820), and was banished to the island of Athusia, where he died in about the years 832-839.

April 28

The Disciple Jason

The Disciple Jason hailed from Tarsus (Asia Minor). He was the first Christian in the city. The Disciple Sosipater was a native of Achaeia. They both became disciples of the Apostle Paul, who even called them his "kinsmen" (Rom. 16: 21). Saint Jason was made bishop in his native city of Tarsus, and Saint Sosipater -- in Iconium. They set out to the West preaching the Gospel, and in the year 63 they reached the island of Kerkyra (Korfu) in the Ionian Sea near Greece.

There they built a church in the name of the First-Martyr Stephen and they baptised many. The governor of the island learned about this and locked them up in prison, where they saw seven thieves: Satornius, Iakyscholus, Faustian, Jannuarius, Marsalius, Euphrasius and Mammius. The disciples converted them to Christ. For their confession of Christ the seven prisoners died as martyrs in a cauldron of molten tar, wax and sulfur.

The prison guard, having beheld their act of martyrdom, declared himself a Christian. For this they cut off his left hand, then both feet and finally his head. The governor ordered the disciples Jason and Sosipater to be whipped and again locked up in prison.

When the daughter of the governor, the maiden Kerkyra, learned how the martyrs would suffer for Christ, she declared herself a Christian and gave away all her finery to the poor. The infuriated governor attempted to persuade his daughter into a renunciation of Christ, but Saint Kerkyra stood firm against both persuasions and against threats. Then the enraged father devised a terrible punishment for his daughter: he gave orders to situate her in a separate prison-cell and bring in to her the robber and murderer Murinus, so that he would defile the betrothed of Christ.

But when the robber approached the door of the prison-cell, a bear pounced upon him. Saint Kerkyra heard the noise and in the Name of Christ she drove off the beast, and then by her prayer she healed the wounds of Murinus. After this Saint Kerkyra enlightened him with the faith of Christ, and Saint Murinus declared himself a Christian and thereupon was executed.

The governor gave orders to burn down the prison, but the holy virgin remained alive. Then by order of her enraged father, she was suspended upon a tree, choked with bitter smoke and executed with arrows. After her death, the governor decided to execute all the Christians on the island of Kerkyra. The Martyrs Zinon, Eusebios, Neonos and Vitalius, having been enlightened by the Disciples Jason and Sosipater, were burnt.

The inhabitants of Kerkyra, escaping from the persecution, crossed over to an adjoining island. The governor set sail with a detachment of soldiers, but was swallowed up by the waves. The governor succeeding him gave orders to throw the Disciples Jason and Sosipater into a cauldron of boiling tar, but when he beheld them unharmed, with tears he cried out: "O God of Jason and Sosipater, have mercy on me!"

Having been set free, the disciples baptised the governor and gave him the name Sebastian. With his help the Disciples Jason and Sosipater built several churches on the island and, living there until old age, by their fervent preaching increased the flock of Christ.

The Martyrs Dadus, Maximus and Quintilian

The Martyrs Dadus, Maximus and Quintilian suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), when there came out a decree to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods on the solemn feastdays, and to put Christians to death.

The representatives of the emperor in the city of Dorostolum, -- Tarquinius and Gabinius, made a sumptuous festivity, to which came not only the inhabitants of the city, but also from the surrounding villages.

When the festivity finished, someone reported to the emperor, that three brothers -- Dadus, Maximus and Quintilian, did not obey the decree of the emperor and withdrew themselves into the Ozovia forest. Soldiers were sent after them, who caught the holy brothers at prayer and led them forth for trial.

The governors interrogated the brothers, who confessed themselves Christians. But Tarquinius offered to Saint Maximus to become a pagan-priest of the god Zeus. But that one called Zeus a foul adulterer and again confessed the True God.

Tarquinius attempted to reason with Saints Dadus and Quintilian. They said, that their brother well knew the Holy Scripture and they would follow him in everything. They dispatched the martyrs to prison, but there also they pondered only about the salvation of their souls. At midnight when the saints were asleep, the devil appeared to them, up in arms against them. But when the martyrs woke, they beheld an Angel, which said: "Fear not, for God your hope bringeth you to Himself. He is not far from you and wilt sustain you". In the morning Tarquinius said to the brothers that the gods had declared their will to him in a dream: give them death if they would not offer sacrifice. The martyrs answered, that the Lord had commanded them to endure torments for His Holy Name.

The tortures and interrogations continued constantly from morning to evening for several days. Finally, they brought out a death sentence against the martyrs, led them out under guard to their forest and there beheaded them with a sword (+ 286).

Sainted Kirill (Cyril), Bishop of Turo

Sainted Kirill (Cyril), Bishop of Turov, was born of rich parents in the 30's of the XII Century in the city of Turov at the River Pripyat.

From his early years Saint Kirill eagerly read the sacred books and attained to profound understanding of them. He studied not only in Russian, but also in Greek. At the age of maturity Saint Kirill refused his inheritance and took vows in the Turov Borisoglebsk monastery. He asceticised much in fasting and prayer and drilled the monks for full obedience to the hegumen: a monk, who is not found in obedience to the hegumen would not fulfill his vow and therefore is not able to be saved. There are preserved three compositions of Saint Kirill about monastic life, one of which -- "The Narrative about the Black-Robed Order from the Old Law and from the New" -- might be imputed to a period of his being in the monastery.

After a certain while Saint Kirill withdrew into seclusion upon a pillar, where he intensified his asceticism still more and "to interpret much the Holy Scripture". Many turned to him for counsel in the spiritual life.

The holiness of life and profound enlightenment of Saint Kirill brought widespread attention upon him, and they chose him for the Turov cathedra. In the year 1169 Saint Kirill took part in a Council, censuring Bishop Theodore (Feodor), who occupied the Vladimir-Suzdal' cathedra and who sought to separate from the Kiev metropolitanate. Saint Kirill denounced the heresy of Theodore and composed many letters to holy prince Andrei Bogoliubsky (Comm. 4 July), in which he instructed him and provided him guidance into the cause of church disorders in the Rostov' region.

Out of his love for solitude, Saint Kirill left the cathedra (by the year 1182, under which there is already mentioned the Turov bishop Lavrentii) and he devoted himself fully to the writing of spiritual compositions. He composed, indeed, a discourse on all the yearly cycle of the Lord's feasts, but not all of them have been preserved. The works of Saint Kirill merit a place in book-collections alongside the works of the holy patristic fathers.

The most complete collection of works by Sainted Kirill (Cyril) of Turov, published by the Turov bishop Evgenii in 1880, includes: 1) Sermon on Palm Sunday, from Gospel accounts; 2) Sermon on Holy Pascha on the Radiant Day of the Resurrection of Christ, from the prophetic accounts; 3) Sermon on the new Sunday after Pascha, about the Renewal of the Resurrection, about the Artos [loaf blessed on Pascha], and about Thomas touching the Side of the Lord; 4) Sermon about the Taking-down the Body of Christ and about the Myrh-bearing Women, from the Gospel account, and praise of Joseph on the 3rd Sunday after Pascha; 5) Sermon about the Paralytic from Genesis and from the Gospel account, on the 4th Sunday after Pascha; 6) Sermon about the Blind-man and the enmity of the Jews from the Gospel account, on the 4th Sunday after Pascha; 7) Sermon about the Ascension of the Lord, on Thursday of the 6th Week after Pascha, from prophetic decrees, and about the Resuscitation of the Race of Adam from Hades; 8) Sermon on the Holy 318 Fathers, from the Holy Books, decreeing about Christ the Son of God, and Praise to the Fathers of the Holy Nicea Council (Sobor), on the Sunday before Pentecost; 9) Parable about the Blind and the Lame; 10) Parable about the Human Soul, and about the Body, and the Breaking of God's Commandments, and about the Resurrection of the Body of Man, and about the Future Judgement, and about the Torment; 11) Narrative about the Black-Robed Order, from the Old Testament and from the New, bearing a form in common, and about the accomplishing of this matter; 12) Account to Hegumen Vasilii: a Parable about White-Robed Men, and about Monasticism, and about the Soul, and about Repentance; 13) Letter of a certain Starets (Elder) to the Blest-of-God Archimandrite Vasilii about the Schema; 14) Four Prayers on Sunday (after Matins, Hours, and 2 after Vespers); 15) Four Prayers on Monday; 16) Four Prayers on Tuesday; 17) Five Prayers on Wednesday (after Matins, Hours, and 3 after Vespers); 18) Three Prayers on Thursday (after Matins, Hours, Vespers); 19) Four Prayers on Friday (after Matins, Hours, and 2 after Vespers); 20) Six Prayers on Saturday (2 after Matins, 1 after Hours, and 3 after Vespers); 21) Molieben Canon; 22) Confession and Remembrance. Later on was discovered the "Sermon on the Enlightenment of our Lord Jesus Christ". It is known, that the saint composed also a "Great Canon of Repentance to the Lord in alphabetic Chapters". As a theologian Saint Kirill saw his task in this, to discern the true and hidden thought of this or that text of Holy Scripture.

Sainted Kirill died on 28 April in about the year 1183. From his contemporaries he received the title of being a Russian "Zlatoust'" (Chrysostomos). About himself the saint humbly wrote: "I am not an harvester, but I gather up sheaves of grain; I am not an artist in book matters", -- always however, conscious of the sublime hierarchical service in which the Lord established him: "If I were to speak of myself, ye would have done well not to have come into the church. But I proclaim to you the Word of God, I read to you the account of Christ... I do distribute forth the words of God, finer than gold or other stones, more sweet, than mead or honeycomb, and ye would be deprived of them, not having come to church,... but ye, having come, I do praise and bless".

April 29

The Nine Holy Martyrs of Kyzika

The Nine Holy Martyrs of Kyzika: The city of Kyzika is located in Asia Minor at the coast of the Dardenelles (Hellespont) Straits. Christianity there began to spread about already during the time of the preaching of the Apostle Paul (Comm. 29 June). But under the times of persecutions by the pagans events came to this -- that some of the Christians fled the city, while others kept their faith in Christ in secret. Therefore by the time of the end of the III Century Kyzika was still basically a pagan city, although there was also a Christian church there. The situation in the city distressed true Christians, who sought to uphold the Christian faith. From there were also the Nine holy Martyrs: Theognides, Ruphos, Antipater, Theostikhos, Artemon, Magnos, Theodotos, Thaumasios and Philemon. They hailed from various places, and were of different ages: both the young like Saint Antipater, and the very old like Saint Ruphos, and they came from various positions in society: among them were soldiers, countryfolk and city-people, and clergy. But all of them declared their faith in Christ and were all the more intense in their yearning for the spread and strengthening of the True Faith.

Having shown up in the city of Kyzika, the saints boldly confessed Christ and fearlessly denounced the pagan impiety. They were arrested and brought to trial before the city governor. Over the course of several days they were tortured, locked up in prison and again led out from it, and promised their freedom for a renunciation of Christ. But the valiant martyrs of Christ continued to glorify the Name of Christ. All nine martyrs were beheaded by the sword (+ c. 284-292), and their bodies buried nearby the city.

In the year 324, -- when the Eastern half of the Roman empire came under the rule of Saint Constantine the Great (306-337, Comm. 21 May), and the persecutions against Christians ended, the Kyzika Christians removed the undecayed bodies of the 9 martyrs from the ground and placed them in a church, built in their honour.

Various miracles occurred from the holy relics: the sick were healed, and the mentally aberrant brought to their senses. The faith of Christ grew within the city through the intercession of the holy martyrs, and many of the pagans were converted to Christianity.

When Julian the Apostate (361-363) came to rule, the pagans of Kyzika turned to him with a complaint against the Christians for the destruction of pagan temples. Julian gave orders to rebuild the pagan temples and to lock up in prison bishop Eleusios. Bishop Eleusios was set free after the death of Julian, and the light of the Christian faith shined anew through the assist of the holy martyrs.

In Russia not far from the city of Kazan was built a monastery in honour of the Nine Martyrs of Kyzika. It was built by the monk-deacon Stefan, who brought with him from Palestine part of the relics of the saints. This monastery was built in the hope of deliverance through their intercession and prayers from various infirmities and ills, particularly the fever which raged through Kazan in the year 1687, "since, -- writes Sainted Dimitrii of Rostov (+ 1709, Comm. 21 September), the compiler of the service to the 9 Martyrs, -- by these saints was given abundant grace for the dispelling of feverish and trembling sicknesses". Saint Dimitrii likewise described the sufferings of the holy martyrs and compiled a sermon on the day of their memory.

The Monk Memnon the Wonderworker

The Monk Memnon the Wonderworker from the time of his youth asceticised in the Egyptian wilderness. By his arduous ascetic efforts he attained a victory of spirit over the flesh.

Having become hegumen of one of the Egyptian monasteries, he wisely and carefully guided the brethren. And even while aiding them through prayer and counsel, the saint did not waver in his efforts in the struggle with temptation.

Through unceasing prayer and toil he received the gift of perspicacity; through his prayer a spring of water gushed forth in the wilderness; locusts destroying the harvest perished; those suffering shipwreck and calling on his name were saved. After his death the mere mention of his name dispelled a plague of locusts and undid the cunning wiles of evil spirits.

The Holy Martyrs Diodorus and Rodopian the Deacon

The Holy Martyrs Diodorus and Rodopian the Deacon suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) in Carian Aphrodisium. For spreading the Christian faith amongst the pagans they were stoned to death.

Saint Vasilii, Bishop of Zakholmsk

Saint Vasilii, Bishop of Zakholmsk, was born of pious parents in the XVI Century in the Popov district of Herzegovina. At the age of maturity he left his parental home and settled in the Trebinsk monastery in honour of the Uspenie-Dormition of the MostHoly Mother of God, and became a monk. For his virtuous life the saint was elevated to bishop of Zakholm and Skenderia. He occupied the bishop's cathedra-chair in the 2nd half of the XVI Century, successor to bishop Paul and predecessor to bishop Nikodim. Saint Vasilii was a good pastor of the flock of Christ, and the Lord strengthened his discourse with various miracles. For the sanctifying of soul with the wisdom of holy ascetic fathers, the saint journeyed to Athos. Saint Vasilii died peacefully and was buried in the city of Ostrog in Chernogoria on the border with Herzegovina.

Saint Basil, Bishop of Zakholmsk

Saint Basil, Bishop of Zakholmsk, was born of pious parents in the sixteenth century in the Popov district of Herzegovina. At the age of maturity he left his parental home and settled in the Trebinsk monastery in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, and became a monk.

For his virtuous life the saint was elevated to be Bishop of Zakholm and Skenderia. He occupied the bishop's cathedra in the second half of the sixteenth century, a successor to Bishop Paul and predecessor of Bishop Nicodemus. St Basil was a good pastor of the flock of Christ, and the Lord strengthened his discourse with various miracles. For the sanctifying of soul with the wisdom of holy ascetic fathers, the saint journeyed to Athos. St Basil died peacefully and was buried in the city of Ostrog in Chernogoria on the border with Herzegovina.

April 30

The Holy Apostle James, Son of Zebedee

The Holy Apostle James, Son of Zebedee, one of the 12 Apostles, was called by our Lord Jesus Christ for apostolic service together with his brother, the Apostle John the Theologian. It was to them and to the holy Apostle Peter pre-eminently over the other Apostles that Jesus Christ revealed His Divine Mysteries: at the Resuscitation of the Daughter of Jairus, on Mount Tabor (at the Transfiguration), and in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Saint James, after the Descent of the Holy Spirit, preached in Spain and in other lands, and then he returned to Jerusalem. He openly and boldly taught about Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world, and with the words of Holy Scripture he denounced the Pharisees and the Scribes [scholars], reproaching them with malice of heart and unbelief. The Jews had not the ability to refute the apostolic discourse and for money they hired the pseudo-philosopher and sorcerer Hermogenes, so that he would enter into a disputation with the apostle and confute his arguments about Christ as the Promised Messiah having come into the world. The sorcerer sent to the apostle his student Philip, who was converted to belief in Christ. Then Hermogenes himself became persuaded of the power of God, he burnt his books on magic, accepted holy Baptism and became a true follower of Christ.

The unbelieving among the Jews persuaded Herod Agrippa (40-44) to arrest the Apostle James and sentence him to death. Saint James calmly heard out the death sentence and continued to bear witness about Christ. One of the false-witnesses against the apostle by the name of Josiah was struck by the courage of Saint James. He came to believe in the truth of the words about the coming of Christ the Messiah. When they led forth the apostle for execution, Josiah fell at his feet, repenting his sin and asking forgiveness. The apostle hugged him, gave him a kiss and said: "Peace and forgiveness be unto thee". Then Josiah confessed before everyone his faith in Christ, and he was beheaded together with Saint James in the year 44 at Jerusalem.

Sainted Donatos

Sainted Donatos lived during the reign of the holy nobleborn Emperor Theodosius the Great (379-397) and was bishop of the city of Eureia. Not far from this city in the vicinity of Soreia was located an harm-causing spring of water. When the saint learned of this, he went with clergy to the spring and cast out from it a monstrous serpent, which died. The saint prayed, he blessed the spring and drank the water without harm. seeing this miracle, the people glorified God.

Another time, having prayed, Saint Donatos brought water forth from a dry and stoney place, and during a time of drought he besought rain from the Lord to water the land.

The daughter of the holy Emperor Theodosius fell terribly ill and was afflicted by an unclean spirit. Saint Donatos came to the palace, and with his entry the devil left and the sick one was healed. A certain money-lender, -- after he was paid back a loan from a debtor who then died, tried to extort the money a second time from the dead man's widow. The saint resurrected the dead man, who corroborated the repayment of the loan.

Saint Donatos died in about the year 387.

The Holy Martyr Maximos

The Holy Martyr Maximos suffered for his faith in Christ and was run through the chest with a sword.

St. Erconwald

St. Erconwald, Bishop of London, died about 690. He belonged to the princely family of the East Anglian Offa, and devoted a considerable portion of his patrimony to founding two monasteries, one for monks at Chertsey, and the other for nuns at Barking in Essex. Over the latter he placed hiss sister, St. Ethelburga, as abbess. He himself discharged the duties of superior at Chertsey. Erconwald continued his monastic life till the death of Bishop Wini in 675, when he was called to the See of London, at the instance of King Sebbi and Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury. As monk and bishop he was renowned for his holiness of life, and miracles were wrought in attestation of his sanctity. The sick were cured by contact with the litter on which he had been carried; this we have on the testimony of Venerable Bede. He was present in 686 at the reconciliation between Archbishop Theodore and Wilfrith. King Ini in the preface to his laws calls Erconwald "my bishop". During his episcopate he enlarged his church, augmented its revenues, and obtained for it special privileges from the king.

According to an ancient epitaph, Erconwald ruled the Diocese of London for eleven years. He is said to have eventually retired to the convent of his sister in Barking, where he died 30 April. He was buried in St. Paul's, and his tomb became renowned for miracles. The citizens of London had a special devotion to him, and they regarded with pride the magnificence of his shrine. During the burning of the cathedral in 1087 it is related that the shrine and its silken coverings remained intact. A solemn translation of St. Erconwald's body took place 14 Nov., 1148, when it was raised above the high altar. The shrine was robbed of its jewels and ornaments in the sixteenth century; and the bones of the saint are said to have been then buried at the east end of the choir. His feast is observed by English Catholics on 14 November. Prior to the Reformation, the anniversaries of St. Erconwald's death and translation of his relics were observed at St. Paul's as feasts of the first class, according to an ordinance of Bishop Braybroke in 1386.

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov was born Dimitri Alexandrovich Brianchaninov, on the February 15, 1807, in the province of Vologda, the son of an aristocratic landowner. Intellectually gifted, peaceful and reflective by character, from early childhood he was drawn to a life of prayer and stillness. However, his father planned a military career for Dimitri, and so, when Dimitri was 15 years of age, his father enrolled him in the Imperial School of Military Engineers in St. Petersburg. There Dimitri excelled, even attracting the attention of Grand Duke Nicholas Pavlovich, the future Tsar Nicholas I. Nonetheless, Dimtri felt called to the monastic life (uncommon for a Russian aristocrat at that time), and he became deeply depressed at the seemingly inevitable prospect of a career as a military officer.

In 1826, Dimitri fell gravely ill, but nonetheless graduated first among all candidates at the School of Engineers and received his commission. Immediately, Dimitri attempted to resign this commission, but his resignation was refused on orders of Tsar Nicholas. However, in 1827, Dimtri became critically ill once more, and this time his resignation was accepted by the imperial authorities.

During the next four years, Dimitri lived as a novice in various monasteries, without settling permanently in any of them, partly because of ill health, and partly because he failed to find a spiritual father in whom he could place unreserved trust. For the remainder of his life, St. Ignatius would lament the scarcity of true spirit-bearing elders in his day. Finally, in 1831, Dimitri was professed monk by the ruling hierarch of his home province, Bishop Stephen of Vologda, and he received the monastic name of "Ignatius." Shortly after that Monk Ignatius was ordained deacon, then priest. All this took place without the approval of his parents. In 1832, Hieromonk Ignatius was appointed superior of a small monastery in the Vologda diocese. However, the damp climate brought about ill-health which quickly forced his resignation.

Then, in autumn of 1833, the most unexpected thing happened. Tsar Nicholas, during a trip to the School of Military Engineers in St. Petersburg, enquired into what had become of the promising student Dimitri Alexandrovich. Upon learning of his monastic profession and hieratic ordination, the tsar ordered Hieromonk Ignatius to return to the imperial capital, where, aged 26, he was raised to the rank of Archimandrite and made igumen of the St. Sergius Monastery, one of the most important in St. Petersburg, and one which enjoyed great imperial patronage. Tsar Nicholas entrusted Archimandrite Ignatius with the task of transforming this monastery into a model community, where visitors to the Imperial Court could see monasticism as it should be.

Over the next 24 years, and amid what was often taxing circumstances, Archimandrite Ignatius fulfilled his duties as igumen of the St. Sergius Monastery, giving particular attention to the beauty of the Liturgy. During this time he was a prolific author, writing much of the material in the five volumes of his collected works.

Finally, however, in 1857, and exhausted by his responsibilities as igumen, Archimandrite Ignatius was elevated to the episcopacy, to serve as Bishop of the Caucasus and Black Sea—a vast, unorganized diocese, whose administrative burdens were particularly difficult for someone afflicted with Bp. Ignatius' ill-health.

Thus, it was no surprise when, after four years of episcopal service, Bp. Ignatius submitted his resignation in 1861. The resignation was accepted, and Bp. Ignatius was allowed to retire to spend the remaining six years of his life in seclusion at the Nicolo-Babaevsky Monastery of the Kostroma diocese, where he devoted his time to writing and a wide correspondence with spiritual children. He reposed in the Lord on April 30, 1867.

Bp. Ignatius was glorified as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1988, and is commemorated on April 30.

The Monk Clement the Writer of Churchly Song

The Monk Clement the Writer of Churchly Song was hegumen of the Studite monastery after Saint Nicholas (+ 868, Comm. 4 February). Known as a zealous defender of Christianity, the confessor of icon-veneration also composed Canons of the Mother of God and to certain of the Saints, -- in particular troparia to the Mother of God, Canons of the Seven Youths of Ephesus (Comm. 4 August), the Prophet and God-Seer Moses (Comm. 4 September), the Archangels (Comm. 8 November), and the Sunday before the Nativity of Christ.

Sainted Nikita of Novgorod

Sainted Nikita of Novgorod died on 31 January 1109. The account about him is located under 31 January. The relics of the saint were uncovered, attired in full vestment on 30 April 1558. The day of the Uncovering of the Relics of Saint Nikita was marked by the healing of many. At present his holy relics rest in the Novgorod cathedral in honour of the holy Apostle Philip.