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On the eighth day after His Nativity, our Lord Jesus Christ -- in accordance with the Old Testament Law, accepted circumcision, which was decreed for all infants of the male gender as a sign of the Covenant of God with the Forefather Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 17: 10-14, Lev. 12: 3). Upon the performing of this ritual the Divine Infant was given the name Jesus, which had been announced by the Archangel Gabriel on the day of the Annunciation (Blagoveschenie) to the MostHoly Virgin Mary (Lk. 1: 31-33, 2: 21). According to the explanation of the fathers of the Church the Lord, the Creator of the Law, accepted circumcision, giving example for people how faithfully the Divine ordinances ought to be fulfilled. The Lord accepted circumcision for this reason -- so that later on no one should be in doubt that He was truly Man, rather than merely being the bearer of illusion-seeming flesh as certain heretics (Docetism) happened to teach. In the New Testament (Covenant) the ritual of circumcision gave way to the sacrament of Baptism, which it pre-figured (Col. 2: 11-12). Accounts about the feastday of the Circumcision of the Lord in the Eastern Church continue right up through the IV Century. The Canon of the feast was written by the Monk Stephen Savvaites (Comm. 28 October and 13 July). Together with the Circumcision, accepted by the Lord as a sign of the Covenant of God with mankind, He received also the Name Jesus (Saviour) as the seal of His service -- the deed of the Salvation of the world (Mt. 1: 21; Mk. 9: 38-39, 16: 17; Lk. 10: 17; Acts 3: 6, 16; Phil. 2: 9-10). These two events, the Circumcision and Naming, remind Christians that they have entered into a New Covenant (Testament) with God and "are circumcised with a circumcision not done by hand, in putting off the sinful body of the flesh, by the Circumcision of Christ" (Col. 2: 11). The very name "Christian" witnesses to an entrance of mankind into a New Covenant with God.
Sainted Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea Cappadocia, "belongs not to the Church of Caesarea alone, nor merely to his own time, nor to his own kinsmen was he merely of benefit, but rather to all lands and cities worldwide, and to all people he brought and yet brings benefit, and for Christians he always was and will be a teacher most salvific", -- thus spoke the contemporary of Saint Basil, -- Sainted Amphylokhios, Bishop of Iconium (+ 344, Comm. 23 November).
Saint Basil was born in about the year 330 at Caesarea, the administrative centre of Cappadocia. He was of illustrious lineage, famed for its eminence and wealth, and giftedly zealous for the Christian faith. The grandfather and grandmother of the saint on his father's side, during the time of persecution under Diocletian, had to hide themselves away in the forests of Pontum for a space of seven years. The mother of Saint Basil -- Saint Emilia (Emily), was the daughter of a martyr. The father of Saint Basil was also named Basil: he was a lawyer and reknown rhetorician and lived constantly at Caesarea.
Into the family of this elder Basil ten children were born -- five sons and five daughters. Of these, five were later enumerated to the ranks of the Saints: Basil the Great; Macrina (Comm. 19 July) -- was an exemplar of ascetic life, and exerted strong influence on the life and character of Saint Basil the Great; Gregory, afterwards Bishop of Nyssa (Comm. 10 January); Peter, Bishop of Sebasteia (Comm. 9 January); and Righteous Theozua -- a deaconess (Comm. 10 January). Saint Basil spent the first years of his life on an estate belonging to his parents at the River Irisa, where he was raised under the supervision of his mother Emilia and grandmother Macrina. They were women of great refinement, preserving in memory the tradition of an earlier sainted-hierarch of Cappadocia -- Sainted Gregory Thaumatougos (Wonderworker) (+ c. 266-270, Comm. 17 November). Basil received his initial education under the supervision of his father, and then he studied under the finest teachers in Caesarea Cappadocia, and it was here that he made the acquaintance of Sainted Gregory the Theologian (Bogoslov, i.e. title of Saint Gregory Nazianzus; Comm. 25 January and 30 January). Later on, Basil transferred to school at Constantinople, where he listened to eminent orators and philosophers. For the finishing touches to his education Saint Basil set off to Athens -- a centre of classical enlightenment.
After a four or five year stay at Athens, Basil the Great had mastered all the available disciplines: "He so thoroughly studied everything, more than others are wont to study a single subject, each science he studied to its very totality, as though he would study naught else". Philosopher, philologist, orator, jurist, naturalist, possessing profound knowledge in astronomy, mathematics and medicine, -- "this was a ship, loaded down full of learning, to the extent allowed of by human nature". At Athens a close friendship developed between Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzus), which continued throughout all their life. Later on, in an eulogy to Basil the Great, Saint Gregory the Theologian speaks with delight about this period: "Various hopes guided us and in deed inevitably -- in learning... Two paths opened up before us: the one -- to our sacred temples and the teachers therein; the other -- towards preceptors of disciplines beyond".
In about the year 357 Saint Basil returned to Caesarea, where for a certain while he devoted himself to rhetoric. But soon, refusing offers from Caesarea citizens wanting to entrust him with the education of their offspring, Saint Basil entered upon the path of ascetic life.
After the death of her husband, Basil's mother together with her eldest daughter Macrina and several maid-servants withdrew to the family estate at Irisa and there began to lead an ascetic life. Basil, however, having accepted Baptism from the bishop of Caesarea Dianios, was ordained a reader. As an expounder of the Sacred Scriptures, he at first read them to the people. Later on, "wanting to acquire a guide to the knowledge of truth", the saint undertook a journey into Egypt, Syria and Palestine, -- to the great Christian ascetics dwelling there. Upon returning to Cappadocia, he decided to do likewise. Having given his wealth to the needy, Saint Basil settled on the opposite side of the river not far from his mother Emilia and sister Macrina, gathering around him monks living in common community. Through his letters, Basil the great attracted to the wilderness monastery his good friend Gregory the Theologian. Saints Basil and Gregory asceticised amidst strict abstinence in their hovel, without roof and without fireplace, and the food was very humble. They themselves heaved the stones, planted and watered the trees, and carried heavy loads. Their hands were constantly calloused from the hard work. For clothing Basil the great had only chiton-tunic and monastic mantle; the hairshirt he wore only at night, so that it would not be obvious. In their solitude, Saints Basil and Gregory occupied themselves in an intense study of Holy Scripture with manuscript guidances from the most ancient commentators, and in parts Origen also, -- from all whose works they compiled an anthology -- a Philokalia (Dobrotoliubie). And also at this time at the request of the monks, Basil the Great wrote down a collection of rules for virtuous life. By his preachings and by his example Saint Basil the Great assisted in the spiritual perfecting of Christians in Cappadocia and Pontus; and many indeed turned to him. Monasteries were organised for men and for women, in which places Basil sought to unite the coenobitic (koine-bios or life in common) lifestyle with that of the solitary hermit.
During the reign of Constantius (337-361) the heretical false-teachings of Arius spread about, and the Church summoned both its saints into service. Saint Basil returned to Caesarea. In the year 362 he was ordained deacon by the bishop of Antioch, Meletios; later on, in 364 he was ordained to the dignity of priest by the bishop of Caesarea, Eusebios. "But seeing, -- as Gregory the Theologian relates, -- that everyone exceedingly praised and honoured Basil for his wisdom and reverence, Eusebios, through human weakness, succumbed to jealousy of him, and began to show dislike for him". The monks rose up in defense of saint Basil. To avoid causing Church discord, Basil withdrew to his own monastery and concerned himself with the organisation of monasteries. With the coming to power of the emperor Valens (364-378), who was a resolute adherent of Arianism, there began for Orthodoxy the onset of a time of troubles -- "the onset of the great struggle". Saint Basil then hastily returned to Caesarea at the call of bishop Eusebios. In the words of Gregory the Theologian, he was for bishop Eusebios "a good advisor, a righteous representative, an expounder of the Word of God, a staff for the aged, a faithful support in matters internal, and an activist in matter external". From this time church governance passed over to Basil, though he was subordinate to the hierarch. He preached daily, and often twice so -- in the morning and in the evening. And during this time Saint Basil compiled the order of his Liturgy; he wrote a work "Discourse on the Six Days" and another in 16 Chapters on the Prophet Isaiah, yet another on the Psalms, and also a second compilation of monastic rules. Saint Basil wrote also Three Books "Against Eunomios", an Arian teacher who with the help of Aristotelian concepts had presented the Arian dogmatics in learnedly philosophic form, converting the Christian teaching into a logical scheme of rationalist concepts.
Saint Gregory the Theologian, speaking about the activity of Basil the Great during this period, points to "the caring for the destitute and the taking in of strangers, the supervision of virgins, written and unwritten monastic rule for the monasticising, the arrangement of prayers (Liturgy), the felicitous arrangement of altars and other things". Upon the death of the bishop of Caesarea Eusebios, Saint Basil in the year 370 was elevated onto his cathedra-chair. As Bishop of Caesarea, Saint Basil the Great was the newest in rank of 50 bishops in eleven provinces. Sainted Athanasias the great (Comm. 2 May), with joy and with thanks to God welcomed the bestowing of Cappadocia with such a bishop as Basil, famed for his reverence, deep knowledge of Holy Scripture, great learning, and his efforts for the welfare of Church peace and unity. In the empire of Valens the external government belonged to the Arians, who held several various opinions on questions of the Divinity of the Son of God and hence were divided into several factions. And to these dogmatic disputes were connected questions about the Holy Spirit. In his books "Against Eunomios", Saint Basil the Great taught about the Divinity of the Holy Spirit and Its Oneness together with the Father and the Son. Subsequently, for a full explanation of the Orthodox teaching on this question, -- at the request of the Bishop of Iconium Saint Amphylokhios, Saint Basil wrote his book "About the Holy Spirit".
The generally sorry state of affairs for the Caesarea bishop was made even worse by various circumstances: Cappadocia was divided in two under the re-arrangement of governance of provincial districts. Then too at Antioch a schism occurred, occasioned by the ordination of a second bishop. There was the negative and haughty attitude of Western bishops to the attempts to draw them into the struggle with the Arians. And there was also the departure over to the Arian side by Eustathios of Sebasteia, with whom Basil had been connected by close friendship. Amidst the constant perils Saint Basil gave encouragement to the Orthodox, affirmed them in the faith, summoning them to bravery and endurance. The holy bishop wrote numerous letters to the Churches, to bishops, to clergy and to individuals. Overcoming the heretics "by the weapon of his mouth, and by the arrows of his letters", as an untiring champion of Orthodoxy, Saint Basil all his life gave challenge to the hostility and the every which way possible intrigues of the Arian heretics.
The emperor Valens, mercilessly dispatching into exile any bishops that displeased him, and having implanted Arianism into other Asia Minor provinces, suddenly appeared in Cappadocia for precisely this purpose. He sent off to Saint Basil the prefect Modestus, who began to threaten the saint with ruin, banishment, beatings and even death by execution. "All this, -- replied Basil, -- for me means nothing, since one cannot be deprived of possessions that one does not have, beyond some old worn-out clothing and some books, which comprises the entirety of my wealth. For me it would not be exile, since I am bound to no particular place, and this place in which I now dwell is not mine, and indeed any place whither I be cast shalt be mine. Better it is to say: everywhere is the place of God, whither be naught stranger nor new-comer (Ps. 38 : 13). And what tortures can ye do me? -- I am so weak, that merely but the very first blow will be felt. Death for me would be an act of kindness: it wilt bring me all the sooner to God, for Whom I live and do labour, and to Whom moreover I do strive". The official was bewildered by such an answer. "Perhaps, -- continued the saint, -- thou hast never had encounter with a bishop; otherwise, without doubt, thou wouldst have heard suchlike words. In all else we are meek, the most humble of all, and not only afront the mighty, but also afront all, since such is prescribed for us by the law. But when it is a matter concerning God and they make bold to rise up against Him, then we -- being mindful of naught else, think only of Him alone, and then fire, sword, wild beasts and chains, the rending of the body, would sooner hold satisfaction for us, than to be afraid".
Reporting to Valens on the not to be intimidated Saint Basil, Modestus said: "Emperor, we stand defeated by a leader of the Church". Basil the Great again showed firmness and in front of the very person of the emperor himself and his retinue produced such a strong impression on Valens, that the emperor dared not give in to the Arians demanding the exile of Basil. "On the day of Theophany, amidst an innumerable multitude of the people, Valens entered the church and mixed in amidst the throng, in order to give the appearance of being in unity with the Church. When began the singing of psalmody in the church, it was like thunder to his hearing. The emperor beheld a sea of people, and in the altar and all around was splendour; in front of all was Basil, acknowledging neither by gesture nor by glance, as though in church was occurred aught else, than that everything was intent only on God and the altar-table, and the clergy thereat in awe and reverence".
Saint Basil almost daily celebrated Divine-services. He was particularly concerned about the strict fulfilling of the canons of the Church, and kept attentive watch, so that only worthy individuals should enter into the clergy. He incessantly made the rounds of his own church, lest anywhere there be an infraction of Church discipline, and setting aright any unseemliness. At Caesarea Saint Basil built two monasteries, a men's and a women's, with a church in honour of 40 Martyrs whose relics were buried there. On the example of monks, the metropolitan clergy of the saint , -- even deacons and priests lived in remarkable poverty, to toil and lead lives chaste and virtuous. For his clergy Saint Basil got an exemption from taxes. All his personal wealth and the income-proceeds from his church he used for the benefit of the destitute; in every centre of his diocese he built a poor-house; at Caesarea -- an home for wanderers and the homeless.
Sickly since youth, the toil of teaching, efforts at abstinence, the concerns and sorrows of pastoral service early sapped the strength of the saint. Saint Basil died on 1 January 379 at age 49. Shortly before his death, the saint gave blessing to Saint Gregory the Theologian to enter upon the Constantinople cathedra-chair.
Upon the repose of Saint Basil, the Church immediately began to celebrate his memory. Saint Amphylokhios, Bishop of Iconium (+ 394), in his eulogy to Sainted Basil the Great, said: "It is neither without a reason nor by chance that holy Basil hath taken leave from the body and had repose from the world unto God on the day of the Circumcision of Jesus, celebrated betwixt the day of the Nativity and the day of the Baptism of Christ. Wherefore this most blessed one, preaching and praising the Nativity and Baptism of Christ, extolling spiritual circumcision, himself forsaking the flesh, doth ascend to Christ now especially on the sacred day of remembrance of the Circumcision of Christ. Therefore also let be established on this present day annually to honour the memory of Basil the Great festally and solemnly".
The Holy Pope of Rome Sylvester (314-335) was born at Rome of Christian parents named Rufinus and Justa. His father soon died, and the saint remained in the care of his mother. Sylvester's teacher, the presbyter Quirinus, gave him a fine education and raised him as a true Christian. Having reached the age of maturity, Sylvester set about fulfilling the command of the Lord about service to neighbour, and particularly concerned himself with the taking in of vagrants, offering them in his own house shelter and respite. During a time of persecution against Christians, Sylvester did not hesitate to take in the holy confessor Bishop Timothy, who dwelt with him for more than a year and who by his preaching converted many to Christ. After the Martyr's death of Timothy, Sylvester secretly took up the body of the saint and reverently gave it burial. This however came to the attention of the city-head Tarquinius, and the saint was arrested and brought to trial. Tarquinius demanded him to renounce Christ, threatening him with torture and death. Saint Sylvester was however not intimidated, and he remained steadfast in his confession of faith, and was then thrown into prison. When Tarquinius suddenly died after the trial, the saint was set free and fearlessly he evangelised amongst the pagans, converting many to Christianity. At thirty years of age Saint Sylvester was accepted into the clergy of the Roman Church and was ordained to the dignity of deacon, and then also presbyter, by Pope Marcellinus (296-304). After the death of Pope Militiades (or Melchiades, 311-314), Saint Sylvester was chosen bishop of Rome. He zealously concerned himself about the purity of life in his flock, and he insisted that presbyters strictly fulfill their duty, and not be overwhelmed with worldly matters.
Saint Sylvester became reknown as a profound expert on Holy Scripture and as a staunch defender of the Christian faith. During the reign of the emperor Saint Constantine the Great, when the periods of persecution had ended for the Church, the Jews arranged a debate about the true faith, at which were present the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Emperor Constantine and his mother -- the holy Empress Helen, together with a numerous retinue. On the side of the Christians Pope Sylvester stood forth, and on the side of the Jews -- a number of learned rabbis, headed by Zambrius, a magician and sorcerer. On the basis of the Sacred books of the Old Testament, Saint Sylvester convincingly demonstrated, that all the prophets foretold the Birth of Jesus Christ from the Immaculate Virgin, and also His voluntary Suffering and Death for the Redemption of the fallen race of mankind, and His glorious Resurrection. In this verbal confrontation the saint was declared the victor. Then Zambrius tried to resort to sorcery, but the saint obstructed the evil by calling on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Zambrius and the other Jews came to believe in Jesus Christ, and they besought that there be made over them the holy Baptism. Pope Saint Sylvester directed the Roman Church for more than twenty years, and earning deep esteem as a Christian. He died peacefully in old age in the year 335.
The Monk Seraphim of Sarov, a great ascetic of the Russian Church, was born on 19 July 1754. His parents, Isidor and Agathia Moshnin, were inhabitants of Kursk. Isidor was a merchant involved in the construction of buildings, and towards the end of his life he began construction of a cathedral in Kursk, but he died before the completion of the work. His little son Prokhor -- the future Seraphim, remained in the care of his widowed mother, who raised her son in deep faith.
After the death of her husband, Agathia Moshnina continued with the construction of the cathedral, and one time when she took Prokhor along with her there, he stumbled and fell down from the belfry. But the Lord watched over the life of the future luminary of the Church: the terrified mother, running down, found her son unharmed.
Young Prokhor, endowed with an excellent memory, soon mastered his reading and writing. From the time of his childhood he loved to visit church-services and to read with his fellow students both the Holy Scripture and the Lives of the Saints, but most of all he loved to pray or to read the Holy Gospel in private.
At one point Prokhor fell grievously ill, and his life was in danger. In a dream the boy saw the Mother of God, promising to visit and heal him. Soon through the courtyard of the Moshnin home there came a church procession with the Znamenie (Sign) Icon of the Mother of God; his mother carried out Prokhor in her arms, and he kissed the holy icon, after which he speedily recovered.
While still in his youth Prokhor matured his plans to entirely devote his life to God and to go off to a monastery. His pious mother did not object to this and she blessed him on his monastic path with a cross, which the monk all his life wore on his chest. Prokhor set off on foot with pilgrims going from Kursk to Kiev to venerate the Pechersk Saints.
The starets-elder schema-monk Dosiphei, whom Prokhor visited, blessed him to go off to the Sarovsk wilderness-monastery and there seek his salvation. Returning briefly to his parental home, Prohkor bid a final farewell to his mother and kinsfolk. On 20 November 1778 he arrived at Sarov, where the monastery then was headed by a wise starets-elder, Father Pakhomii. He amiably accepted him and put him under the spiritual guidance of the starets-elder Joseph. And under his direction Prokhor passed through many obediences at the monastery: he was the cell-attendant of the elder, he toiled in the making of bread and prosphora and at carpentry, he did duty as a church-attendant, and he did everything with zeal and fervour, just as though serving the very Lord Himself. By constant work he hedged himself in against boredom -- this being, as he later said, "the most dangerous temptation for newly-become monks, which is doctored by prayer, abstaining from idle chatter, exertive handwork, by reading of the Word of God and by patience, since that it is engendered by pettiness of soul, neglectfulness and idle talk".
Prokhor already in these years, on the example of the other monks that went off into the forest for prayer, besought the blessing of the elder for free time likewise to withdraw into the woods, where in complete isolation he made the Jesus Prayer. After two years as a novice, Prokhor fell ill with dropsy, his body became swollen, and he was beset with suffering. His instructor Father Joseph and the other startsi-elders were fond of Prokhor, and they provided him care. The illness dragged on for about three years, and not once did anyone hear from him a word of complaint. The elders, fearing for his very life, wanted to call a doctor for him, but Prokhor asked that this not be done, in saying to Father Pakhomii: "I have given myself over, holy father, to the True Physician of soul and body -- our Lord Jesus Christ and His All-Pure Mother...", and he besought, that they might commune him with the Holy Mysteries. Prokhor then had a vision: in an inexpressible light there appeared the Mother of God accompanied by the holy Apostles Peter and John the Theologian. Pointing with Her hand towards he that was sick, the MostHoly Virgin said to Saint John: "This one -- is of our lineage". Thereupon with Her staff She touched the side of the sick man, and immediately the fluid that had swelled up his body began to flow through a sort of opening made, and he quickly became well. Soon at the place of the appearance of the Mother of God there was built an infirmary-church for the sick, and one of the side-chapels was dedicated in the name of the Monks Zosima and Savvatii of Solovetsk. The altar-table for the chapel was fashioned by the Monk Seraphim with his own hands from cypress wood, and he always communed the Holy Mysteries in this church.
Being eight years an obedient (novice) at the Sarov monastery, Prokhor accepted monastic tonsure with the name Seraphim, a name so finely expressive of his fiery love for the Lord and the desire zealously to serve Him. After a year, Seraphim was ordained to the dignity of monk-deacon. Earnest in spirit, he daily served in temple, incessantly praying even after the service. The Lord vouchsafed the monk graced visions during the time of church-services: repeatedly he beheld holy Angels, concelebrating with the brethren. The monk was vouchsafed one particularly graced vision during the time of Divine Liturgy on Holy Great Thursday, which was celebrated by the monastery-head Father Pakhomii and by Father Joseph. When after the Little Entrance with the Gospel, the Monk-deacon Seraphim pronounced the words "O Lord, save the God-fearing, and hear us", and standing in the royal doorway, he lifted his orarion (deacon's stole) with the exclamation prayer "And unto ages of ages", suddenly a bright ray of light blinded him. [trans. note: this prayer "O Lord, save the God-fearing..." in Divine Liturgy falls between the priest's exclamation "For holy art Thou..." and the choir's beginning of the "Holy God, Holy Mighty...". To Orthodox believers in the West, this is likely unfamiliar (even though found in Hapgood): its use apparently ceased in Russia after the Revolution, and was restored only recently with the demise of the Soviet Union, with other liturgical changes, such as the adding of Saint Seraphim of Sarov to the commemoration of the 6th rank of saints in Proskomedia, a particle being taken from the third prosphora for the rank of the Monastics.] Looking upwards, the Monk Seraphim beheld the Lord Jesus Christ, coming through the air from the western doors of the temple, surrounded by the Heavenly Bodiless Hosts. Reaching the amvon, the Lord blessed all the praying and entered into His Image located there to the right of the royal doors. The Monk Seraphim, in spiritual rapture viewing this miraculous vision, was able to utter neither a word, nor to move from the spot. They led him by the hand into the altar, where he just stood for another three hours, his face having changed colour from the great grace that shone upon him. After the vision the saint intensified his efforts: by day he toiled at the monastery, and nights he spent at prayer in the forest wilderness cell.
In 1793, at age 39, the Monk Seraphim was ordained to the dignity of priestmonk and he continued at serving in the temple. After the death of the monastery head Father Pakhomii, the Monk Seraphim, -- having before this received deathbed blessing for the new exploit of wilderness-dwelling, and having likewise received blessing of the new monastery-head Father Isaiah, -- went off to a wilderness cell some several kilometers from the monastery, in the deep forest. Here he devoted himself to solitary prayer, arriving at the monastery only on Saturday before the all-night vigil, and returning to his cell after Liturgy, at which he communed the Divine Mysteries. The monk spent his time at severe efforts. His cell rule of prayer he made according to the ustav-rule of the ancient wilderness-monasteries; from the Holy Gospel he never parted, reading through the course of the week all the New Testament, and he read likewise the holy fathers and the Divine-service books. The monk learned by heart many of the Church songs and sang them during his hours at work in the forest. Around his cell he cultivated a garden and set up a bee-hive. Having seen to his subsistence, the monk kept to a very strict fast, he ate only once during the entire day, and on Wednesdays and Fridays he completely abstained from food. On the first Sunday of the Holy Forty-Days (Lent)he did not partake of food at all until Saturday, when he communed the Holy Mysteries.
The holy elder in his solitude was sometimes so immersed in his inner prayer of the heart, that at length he remained without stirring, neither hearing nor seeing anything around him. The schema-monk Mark the Silent and the monk-deacon Aleksandr, also wilderness-dwellers, would visit him every now and then, and finding the saint immersed in suchlike prayer, in reverent quiet they would leave, so as not to disrupt his contemplation.
In the heat of Summer the monk gathered moss in a swamp as fertilizer for his garden; the gnats relentlessly bit at him, but he good-naturedly endured this vexation, saying: "Passions are destroyed by suffering and by sorrow, either arbitrarily or as sent by Providence". For about three years the monk ate only a certain vegetable, which grew about his cell. All the more frequently there began to come not only monks, but also laypeople, -- for advice and blessing. This disrupted his solitude. Having besought the blessing of the monastery head, the monk at first barred the admittance of women to him, and then all the rest, having received a sign that the Lord approved of his intent for complete silence. Through the prayer of the monk, the pathway to his wilderness cell was blocked by huge branches blown down from ancient pine trees. Now only the birds, flocking to him in throngs, and the wild beasts, paid him visit. The monk fed a bear with bread from his hand, when they happened to bring him bread from the monastery.
Seeing the efforts of the Monk Seraphim, the enemy of the race of man roused up against him, and wanting to force the saint to foresake his silence, he decided to frighten him, but the monk shielded himself by prayer and by the power of the Life-Creating Cross. The devil conducted against the saint "mental warfare" -- persistent and continous temptation. For repulsing the onslaughts of the enemy the Monk Seraphim intensified his toil, and took upon himself the exploit of pillar-dwelling. Each night he climbed up upon an immense rock in the forest and he prayed with up-raised hands, crying out: "God, be merciful to me a sinner". By day he prayed in his cell and likewise upon a stone, which he had brought from the forest, coming down from it only for brief rest and to refresh his body with a scant bit of food. The monk prayed thus for 1,000 days and nights. The devil, shamed by the monk, hatched a plan to kill the saint and sent out robbers. Coming upon him while working in his garden, the robbers began to demand money from him. The monk had in his hands at this time an axe, he was physically strong and could have put up a fight, but he did not want to do this, having called to mind the words of the Lord: "Those taking up the sword wilt perish by the sword" (Mt. 26: 52). The monk, dropping his axe to the ground, said: "Do what ye intend to". The robbers began to beat the monk, with the butt-end of the axe they bloodied his head, broke several of his ribs, and then having tied him, they wanted to throw him in the river, but first they searched the cell for money. Having trashed everything in the cell and finding nothing in it besides icons and a few potatoes, they were shamed in their wicked deed and left. The monk, gaining consciousness, got to his cell, and suffering terribly, he lay there all night. In the morning with great difficulty he reached the monastery. The brethren were horrified, seeing the ascetic all bruised with wounds. For eight whole days the monk just lay there, suffering from his wounds; doctors were called for him, who were amazed that after such a beating he even remained alive. But the monk did not receive his healing from the physicians: the Queen of Heaven appeared to him in a subtle dream vision together with the Apostles Peter and John. Touching the head of the monk, the MostHoly Virgin granted him healing. After this instance the Monk Seraphim had to spend about five months at the monastery, and then he again went off to his wilderness cell. Left in posture stooped over always henceforth, the monk walked, leaning upon his staff or small axe, and he indeed forgave his abusers and asked that they not be punished.
After the death of the monastery head, Father Isaiah, -- a friend of the monk since his youth, -- the Monk Seraphim took upon himself the deed of silence, being completely cut off from any worldly ponderings for a most purified being in the presence of God in unceasing prayer. If the saint encountered a man in the forest, he fell face downwards and did not rise up, until the passerby had moved on. In such a manner of silence the starets-elder spent about three years, ceasing even to visit the monastery on Sundays. The fruit of silence for the Monk Seraphim was the acquisition of peace of soul and joy in the Holy Spirit. The great ascetic afterwards spoke thus to one of the monks of the monastery: "...my joy, I pray thee, acquire a spirit at peace, and then a thousand souls wilt be saved around thee".
The new monastery head, Father Nyphont, and the elder brethren of the monastery suggested to Father Seraphim that either as before he show up at the monastery on Sundays for participation in Divine-services and communing the Holy Mysteries at the monastery, or that he return to the monastery. The monk chose the latter course, since it had become difficult for him to walk from the wilderness to the monastery. In Spring of the year 1810 he returned to the monastery after 15 years of living in the wilderness. Not breaking off with his silence, he added onto it also that of hermit enclosure, neither coming out anywhere nor admitting anyone, he dwelt in unceasing prayer and meditation on God. In his hermitage the Monk Seraphim discovered an height of spiritual purity and was vouchsafed of God the special gifts of grace -- perspicacity and wonderworking. Then the Lord sent His chosen one to serve people in an utmost monastic exploit -- "Starchestvo" ("being an elder"). On 25 November 1825 the Mother of God accompanied by the two sainted-hierarchs celebrated this day (i.e. PriestMartyr Clement, Pope of Rome, and Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria), appeared to the elder in a dream-vision and bid him emerge from his hermitage, so as to receive infirm human souls, needful of instruction, consolation, guidance and healing. The monastery head gave blessing to this change in the manner of his life, and the monk opened the doors of his cell to everyone. The starets saw into the hearts of people, and as a spiritual physician, he healed the infirmities of soul and body with a prayer to God and by words of grace. Those coming to the Monk Seraphim sensed his great love and with tenderness they hearkened to his amiable words, with which he turned to people: "my joy, my precious". The starets began to visit his own wilderness cell and water-spring, called Bogoslovsk, around which they built him a small cell. Coming out from the cell, the starets always carried on his shoulders a knapsack with stones. To the question as to why he did this, the saint humbly answered: "I oppress that which oppresseth me".
In the final period of his earthly life the Monk Seraphim especially concerned himself about his spiritual children -- the Diveevo women's monastery. While still in the dignity of monk-deacon he had accompanied the belated monastery head Father Pakhomii to the Diveevo community to its monastic leader, the nun Mother Alexandra -- a great woman ascetic, and then Father Pakhomii blessed the Monk Seraphim to concern himself always for the "Diveevo orphans". He was a genuine father for the sisters, who turned to him with all their spiritual and material difficulties. His students and spiritual friends helped the saint to feed and nourish the Diveevo community: -- Mikhail Vasil'evich Manturov, healed by the monk from grievous illness and on the advice of the elder having taken upon himself the exploit of voluntary poverty; Elena Vasil'evna Manturovna, one of the Diveevo sisters, voluntarily consenting to die out of obedience to the elder for her brother, who was still needed in this life; Nikolai Aleksandrovich Motovilov, who likewise was healed by the monk. N. A. Motovilov recorded in writing the remarkable teachings of the Monk Seraphim about the goals of Christian life. In the last year of the life of the Monk Seraphim, one of those healed by him saw him standing in the air during the time of prayer. The saint strictly forbade this to be told of before his death.
Everyone knew and esteemed the Monk Seraphim as a great ascetic and wonderworker. A year and ten months before his end, on the feast of the Annunciation, the Monk Seraphim was vouchsafed yet once more to have appear the Queen of Heaven in the company of the Baptist of the Lord John, the Apostle John the Theologian and twelve virgins, martyrs and monastics. The MostHoly Virgin conversed at length with the monk, entrusting the Diveevo sisters to him. Concluding the conversation, She said to him: "Soon, My dear one, thou shalt be with us". During this vision with the miraculous visit of the Mother of God, a certain Diveevo eldress was present, through the prayer of the monk for her.
During the final year of his life the Monk Seraphim became noticeably weaker and he spoke much about his approaching end. During this time they often saw him at his grave, set at the approaches to his cell, and which he had prepared for himself. The monk himself had pointed out the place, where finally they would bury him -- near the altar of the Uspenie-Dormition cathedral. On 1 January 1833 the Monk Seraphim one last time came to the Zosimo-Savvatiev church for liturgy and he communed the Holy Mysteries, after which he blessed the brethren and bid farewell, saying: "Ye seeking salvation, be not discouraged, but take heart, the day of crowns is prepared for us". On 2 January, the cell-attendant of the monk, Father Pavel, at six in the morning left his own cell heading for church, and he caught the smell of burning coming from the cell of the Monk Seraphim; in the cell of the monk candles always burned, and he had said: "While I yet live, there wilt be no fire, but when I die, my end shalt reveal itself with a fire". When they opened the doors, it appeared that the books and the other things had burned, but the monk himself remained upright on his knees before an icon of the Mother of God in a position of prayer, but was already lifeless. His pure soul at the time of prayer was taken by the Angels and had flown off to the Throne of the All-Mighty God, to Whom the Monk Seraphim had been a faithful servant all his life.
The Monk Sylvester of Pechersk lived during the XII Century and was hegumen of the Mikhailovsk Vydubitsk monastery at Kiev. He continued the work of the Monk-Chronicler Nestor and he wrote nine Vitae of the Pechersk holy saints. In the service to the Pechersk Fathers venerated in the Nearer Caves, the Monk Sylvester is called blessed and endowed with "a miraculous gift to ward off demonic suggestions (Ode 9 of the Canon). The Monk Sylvester was buried in the Nearer Caves, and his memory is celebrated likewise on 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
Righteous Juliania of Lazarev and Muromsk presents an astonishing example of a self-denying Russian Christian woman. She was the daughter of the nobleman Iustin Nediurov. From her early years she lived piously, kept the fasts strictly and set aside much time for prayer. Early on having become orphaned, she was given over into the care of kinsfolk, who did not take to her and laughed at her. Juliania bore everything with patience and without complaint. Her love for people expressed itself in this manner -- she often nursed the sick and sewed clothing for the poor. The pious and virtuous life of the maiden attracted the attention of the Lazarev village owner, Yurii Osor'in, who thereafter soon married her. The husband's parents loved their gentle daughter-in-law and gave over into her hands the running of the household. Domestic concerns did not disrupt the spiritual efforts of Juliania. She always found time for prayer and she was always prepared to feed the orphaned and clothe the poor. During the time of an harsh famine, she herself remained without food, having given away her last morsel to someone begging. When an epidemic started after the famine, Juliania devoted herself completely to the nursing of the sick.
Righteous Juliania had six sons and a daughter. After the death of two of her sons she decided to withdraw to a monastery, but her husband persuaded her to remain in the world, and to continue to raise their children. On the testimony of a son of Juliania -- Kallistrat Osor'in, who wrote her life, at this time she became all the more demanding towards herself: she intensified her fasting and prayer, slept not more than two hours at night, and then laying her head upon a board.
Upon the death of her husband, Juliania distributed to the poor her portion of the inheritance. Living in extreme poverty, she was none the less for it vivacious, cordial, and in everything she thanked the Lord. The saint was vouchsafed a visitation by Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker and guidance by the Mother of God in church. When Righteous Juliania expired to the Lord, she was then buried alongside her husband at the church of Saint Lazarus. Here also was buried her daughter, the schema-nun Theodosia. In the year 1614 the relics of Righteous Juliania were uncovered, exuding a fragrant myrh, from which many received healing.
The PriestMartyr Theogenes was bishop of the Asia Minor city of Pareia at the beginning of the IV Century. During the reign of the emperor Licinius (307-324), -- a co-ruler of Constantine the Great, the tribune Zalicentius demanded him to forsake the priestly dignity, to renounce Christ and to enlist in military service. After his resolute refusal, Saint Theogenes was mercilessly beaten with canes and thrown into prison, where it was forbidden to allow him food. They then sentenced him to be drowned in the sea. Before execution the saint requested time for prayer, during which time an extraordinary light shone on him. The sailors and certain of the soldiers entrusted to drown the saint were struck by the light and were converted to Christ, but other soldiers hastened to cast the saint into the sea. Saint Theogenes accepted a martyr's death in about the year 320. His body was afterwards taken from the waters by Christians and buried at the city walls. And at this spot numerous healings occurred.
The Holy Prophet Malachi lived 400 years before the Birth of Christ, during the time of the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity. Malachi was the last of the Old Testament prophets, wherefore the holy fathers call him "the sealing-shut of the prophets". Manifesting himself an image of spiritual goodness and piety, he astounded the nation and was called Malachiei, i.e. an angel or messenger. In the Canon of Scriptural Books is included also his prophetic book, in which he upbraids the Jews, foretelling the coming of Jesus Christ and His Forerunner, and also the Last Judgement (Mal. 3: 1-5; 4: 1-6).
The Martyr Gordias was born at the end of the III Century in the city of Caesarea Cappadocia into a Christian family. Coming of age, he entered military service, and having displayed valour and military skill, he was made a centurion. During the time of persecution of Christians at the beginning of the IV Century, he left the world and settled in the wilderness, so as to prepare himself for the good deed of confessing the Name of Christ the Saviour. In the year 320 Gordias openly came forward before the prefect of the city in defense of Christians. They arrested him and after terrible torments they beheaded him.
The Sobor (Assemblage) of the Seventy Disciples ("Apostles") was established by the Orthodox Church so as to indicate the equal honour of each of the Seventy, and to avert dissonance in their veneration. [Translator Note: Russian idiomatic useage refers both to the "12" and to the "70" as "Apostle"; whereas English idiomatic useage refers to the "12" as "Apostle" and to the "70" as "Disciple".] They were chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ, in order to evangelise the Gospel to all the world.
Besides the celebration of the Sobor (Assemblage) of the Holy Disciples, the Church celebrates the memory of each of them during the course of the year: the Disciple James, Brother of the Lord (23 October); Mark the Evangelist (25 April); Luke the Evangelist (18 October); Cleopas, brother of Joseph the Betrothed, and Simeon his son (27 April); Barnabas (11 June); Josiah, or Joseph, named Barsaba or Justus (30 October); Thaddeus (21 August); Ananias (1 October); Stephen, Archdeacon (27 December); Philip from the 7 Deacons (11 October); Prochoros from the 7 Deacons (28 July); Nikanor from the 7 Deacons (28 July and 28 December); Timon from the 7 Deacons (28 July and 30 December); Parmenas from the 7 Deacons (28 June); Timothy (22 January); Titus (25 August); Philemon (22 November and 19 February); Onysimos (15 February); Epaphrasos and Archippos (22 November and 19 February); Silas, Sylvanus, Criscentus or Criscus (30 July); Crispus and Epenetos (30 July); Andronikos (17 May and 30 July); Stakhias, Amplias, Urban, Narcissos, Apellias (31 October); Aristoboulos (31 October and 16 March); Herodion or Rodion (8 April and 10 November); Ahab, Rufus, Asinkritos, Phlegontos (8 April); Hermas (5 November and 31 May); Patrobus (5 November); Hermias (8 April); Linus, Caius, Philologos (5 November); Lucius (10 September); Jason (28 April); Sosipater (28 April and 10 November); Olympos or Olympanus (10 November); Tercias (30 October and 10 November); Herastos, Quartus (10 November); Evodus (7 September); Onysiphoros (7 September and 8 December); Clement (25 November); Sosthenes (8 December); Apollos (10 September and 8 December); Tykhikos, Epaphrodites (8 December); Carpus (26 May); Codratus (21 September); Mark who is John, Zeno (27 September); Aristarchus (15 April and 27 September); Pudas, Trophymos (15 April); Mark nephew of Barnabas, Artemis (30 October); Aquila (14 July); Fortunatus, Achaecus (4 January).
With the Descent of the Holy Spirit the disciples preached in various lands. Some accompanied the Apostles from the 12, like the holy Evangelists Mark and Luke, or the companion of the holy Apostle Paul -- Timothy, or the disciple of the holy Evangelist John the Theologian -- Prochoros, and others. Many of them were thrown into prison for Christ, and many received the crown of a martyr's death.
To the 70 Disciples are enumerated yet two -- the holy Disciple Cephas, to whom the Lord appeared after the Resurrection (1 Cor. 15: 5-6), and Simeon, by nickname Niger (Acts 13:1), wherefore they also were glorified by apostolic preaching.
The Church in particular venerates and praises the 70 Disciples in that they taught to honour the Trinity One-in-Essence and Un-Divided.
In the IX Century the Orthodox Church received from Joseph the Melodist the Kanon for the Day of the Sobor (Assemblage) of the 70 Disciples of Christ.
The Monk Theoktistos founded a monastery in the city of Kucuma on the island of Sicily, where he became hegumen. At his monastery lived Greek monks, having fled persecution by the iconoclasts. The monk died in the year 800.
The Monk Akhila (Aquila), Deacon of Pechersk, became famous as a great faster, having spent a long while as an hermit. Legend says that he ate neither vareny (pirogi) nor sweet food, he partook vegetables seldom and in small quantity, and during periods of fast he tasted of only one prosphora.
To the intercession of Saint Akhila flee those thirsting of soul to be delivered from "the enslavement of stomach passions" and those wishing to learn temperance (3rd song of the Kanon to the Monks, venerated in the Farther Caves).
The commemoration of the Monk Akhila is also 28 August and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The MonkMartyr Zosima came from Cilicia and was an inhabitant of the wilderness. During a time of persecution against christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) Saint Zosima was seized and subjected to fierce torture for the faith, but by the power of God he was preserved unharmed. Having beheld such a miracle of God, the prison head by the name of Athanasias believed in Christ and was baptised. The Monk Zosima together with Athanasias was released and went off into the wilderness where, pursuing asceticism, they lived in a crevice in a mountain until their death.
Sainted Eustathii, ArchBishop of Serbia, lived in the second half of the XIII Century, during the reign of the Serbian king Stefan Urosh (1262-1320).
He was born in the Budimil'sk district into a pious Christian family, where he received a spiritual upbringing. Distinguished by remarkable talents, the youth Evstathii was given over by his parents for training in "book wisdom". With particular diligence he studied Holy Scripture, perfecting himself in piety and good deeds. Having finished his education, the youth took vows at the monastery of the Archangel Michael in the Zetsk district (Chernogore) and led a strict monastic life, such that he soon became noted as a great ascetic. From thence he undertook a journey to Jerusalem, for veneration to the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord. On the return journey he visited Holy Mount Athos and settled there in the Serbian Khilendaria monastery.
The monk Evstathii gained general reknown and love as a strict ascetic and good teacher, and he was advanced to the dignity of hegumen of the monastery.
After several years they ordained him bishop of the Zetsk diocese, and the saint returned to his native land. Rich spiritual experience and monastic life won him the love of his fellow countrymen, and Saint Evstathii was chosen to the throne of the archbishops of Serbia, successors of Saint Sava. For seven years Sainted Evstathii guided the Serbian Church and peacefully died about the year 1285. His body was buried in the Zhidocha monastery, and later it was transferred to Pesh (Pech) and placed in the cathedral church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.
The MonkMartyr Onufrii, in the world Matfei (Matthew), was born in Bulgaria in the settlement of Gabrovo in Tyrnovsk diocese. Matfei received a fine education, but in place of worldly blessings he preferred service to God, and he went to Athos to the Khilendaria monastery. Here he took monastic vows with the name Manassiya (Manassas). but even the strict asceticism of a monk on Mount Athos did not fully satisfy the self-strictness of the monk, and Manassiya decided to suffer for Christ. With this desire he became involved with the starets Nikifor. The elder vowed him to schema-monk with the name Onufrii and, having been given admonition, he set off with the Monk Gregory to the Turkish island of Chios. There the MonkMartyr Onufrii openly confessed the Christian faith, for which he was seized and subjected to cruel tortures. After the torturing they beheaded him and threw him into the sea (+ 4 January 1818).
The MonkMartyr Euthymios, Hegumen of the Batopedeia Monastery, and with him 12 Monks suffered on Athos in the XIII Century for denouncing as heretical the Latinisers patriarch Michael Paleologos (1261-1281) and patriarch John Bekkas (1275-1282). The hegumen was drowned in the sea, and the monks -- were hung.
The Holy Martyrs Theopemptos and Theon suffered in Nicomedia in the year 303. Saint Theopemptos was bishop in Nicomedia during the time of Diocletian. Speaking out against idol-worship, he defended the faith in Christ. Summoned to the emperor, he refused to carry out his demand to worship an idol of Apollo. They threw Saint Theopemptos into a red-hot furnace, but by the power of God he remained alive. The emperor came by night with a detachment of soldiers to the furnace and there actually saw the saint alive and praying to God. Ascribing the miracle accomplished to be a work of magic, Diocletian gave orders to wear down Saint Theopemptos by hunger and thirst during the course of 22 days, but here also by the will of God the martyr was preserved.
The emperor then summoned the famous sorcerer Theon, brought in to overcome the magical power which, as they supposed, was possessed by the holy bishop Theopemptos. Theon prepared a poison for Saint Theopemptos -- put into a little cake, and offered it to him to eat. The poison did no harm at all to Saint Theopemptos. A second time, Theon tried out the effect of a still stronger poison on the martyr; but seeing, that Saint Theopemptos remained unharmed, he himself came to believe in Christ. They threw him into prison together with the holy bishop, who taught and baptised him, giving him the name Synesios (which means "fulfillment of understanding").
In the morning Diocletian summoned Saint Theopemptos and again contended with him to recant from Christ; but, seeing the unbending rigour of the holy man, he subjected him to many grievous tortures, after which the saint was beheaded. The holy martyr Theon, having refused to offer sacrifice to idols, was buried alive in a deep ditch. This occurred at Nicomedia in the year 303.
The Nun Syncleticea was a native of Alexandria, the daughter of rich parents, pretty, and from her early years she thought only about things pleasing to God. Loving the purity of virginity, she declined to enter into marriage, and spent all her time in fasting and prayer. After the death of her parents she distributed her inheritance to the poor, and having accepted monasticism together with her blind sister, she withdrew into one of the crypts belonging to her kin. News about her ascetic deeds quickly spread throughout the vicinity, and many pious women and girls came to her to live under her guidance. During the course of her ascetic life the saint zealously instructed her sisters by word and by deed. In her 80th year of life she was struck by an intense and grievous illness. The nun bore the outcome of her ordeal with true christian endurance. The saint died in about the year 350, at age 83.
The Holy Prophet Micah was a companion of the holy prophet Elias. He prophesied the ruin of King Ahab in a war with the Assyrians, for which he was put into prison. Set free after the downfall of Ahab (3 Kings 22: 8-22), the holy prophet Micah died a martyr in the IX Century BC.
The Nun Apollinaria was a daughter of Anthemias, a former governor of the Greek empire during the minority of Theodosius the Younger (408-450). Having declined marriage, she requested of her pious parents permission to venerate at the holy places of the East. Having arrived in Alexandria from Jerusalem, she secretly away from her servants changed into the garb of a nun and hid in one of the marshy places, where she practised asceticism for several years in strict fasting and prayers. By a revelation from above, she was guided into a skete monastery to Saint Makarios of Egypt, and took for herself the monastic name Dorotheos. The Monk Makarios accepted her into the ranks of his brethren, and she there quickly distinguished herself by her ascetic life. The parents of Apollinaria had also another daughter, who was beset by demons. They sent her to the skete to the Monk Makarios, who took the sick girl to the monastic Dorotheos (Blessed Apollinaria), through whose prayers the maiden received healing. In returning homewards the maiden was again beset by a violent demon, which gave her the appearance of a pregnant woman. This produced great anger in her parents, who dispatched soldiers to the skete, and they demanded to see the perpetrator of their daughter's outrage.
Saint Apollinaria took on herself the blame and went with the envoys to the home of her parents. There she revealed her secret to her parents, healed her sister, and returned to the skete, where in a short while she died peacefully in the year 470. Only after the death of the monastic Dorotheos was it revealed that this was a woman. The body of the saint was buried in a cave in the monastery church of Saint Makarios of Egypt.
The Monk Phosterios the Wanderer pursued asceticism on an high mountain. By his powerful working of miracles and saintly life, he restored many from heresy.
The Monk Minos pursued asceticism for 50 years in a Sinai monastery, and died peacefully in the second half of the VI Century.
The Monk Gregory of Acretia was born on the island of Crete in the year 760. He received an upbringing by pious parents. This was a time when the iconoclast heretics persecuted the orthodox. The youth Gregory, wanting to preserve his Orthodox faith, went to Seleukos and lived there leading a life of piety.
At age 20 the Monk Gregory set off to Jerusalem and dwelt there for 12 years, enduring fierce persecution from the Arabs. From there Saint Gregory journeyed to Rome, where he took monastic vows. He became spiritually acquainted there with Saint Michael, bishop of Synadia (Comm. 23 May), who took him along and settled in a monastery on the Cape of Acretia (Sea of Marmora). The saint accomplished great ascetic deeds and died in about the year 820.
The MonkMartyr Romanos from Karpeniseia was born in Moreia. He was a monk on Athos, and suffered for Christ at Tsar'grad, beheaded with a sword by the Turks in the year 1694.
Theophany / Bogoyavlenie denotes the feast whereby through the Baptism of the Lord the MostHoly Trinity has been revealed to the world (Mt. 3: 13-17; Mk. 1: 9-11; Lk. 3: 21-22). God the Father spoke from Heaven about the Son, the Son was baptised by the holy ForeRunner of the Lord John, and the Holy Spirit descended upon the Son in the form of a Dove. From ancient times this feast was called the Day of Illumination and the Feast of Lights, since that God is Light and has appeared to illumine "those sitting in darkness and the shadow of death" (Mt. 4: 16) and to save through grace the fallen race of mankind.
In the ancient Church it was the custom to baptise catechumens at the vespers of Theophany, such that Baptism also is revealed as a spiritual illumination of mankind.
The origin of the feast of Theophany came about in Apostolic times. Mention is made concerning it in the Apostolic Decretals. From the II Century there is preserved the testimony of Sainted Clement of Alexandria concerning the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord and performing the night vigil before this feast.
In the III Century on the feast of Theophany there is known the dialogue concerning Divine-services between the holy martyr Hyppolitus and Saint Gregory the WonderWorker. In the following centuries -- from the IV to IX Century -- all the great fathers of the Church -- Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostomos, Ambrose of Milan, John Damascene, had their own comments about the feast of Theophany. The monks Joseph the Studite, Theophanes and Byzantios composed much liturgical music for this feastday, which even now is sung for Divine-services. The Monk John Damascene said, that the Lord was baptised not because He Himself had need for cleansing, but so that "by water to bury human sin", to fulfill the law, to reveal the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and finally, to sanctify "watery nature" and to proffer it to us in the form and example of Baptism.
On the feastday of the Baptism of Christ, Holy Church asserts our faith in the mystery -- most sublime and incomprehensible to human intellect -- of the Three Persons of the One God. It teaches us to confess and glorify as equally-honoured the Holy Trinity One-Essence and Undivided. It exposes and collapses the fallacies of the ancient pseudo-teachings, which attempted with reason and by human terms to explain the Creator of the world. The Church shews the necessity of Baptism for believers in Christ, and it inspires for us a sense of deep gratitude for the Illumination and Purification of our sinful nature. The Church teaches that our salvation and cleansing from sin is possible only by the power of the grace of the Holy Spirit, wherefore it is necessary to preserve worthily these gifts of the grace of holy Baptism -- keeping clean this priceless garb, about which the feast of the Baptism tells us: "As many as have been baptised into Christ, have put on Christ" (Gal. 3:27).
In the Orthodox Church the custom was established, that on the day following the Great Feasts of the Lord and the Mother of God, would be remembered those saints who most essentially participated in whichever the sacred event. And thus, on the day following after the Theophany of the Lord, the Church honours he that participated directly in the Baptism of Christ, indeed placing his own hand upon the head of the Saviour. Saint John, the holy Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, termed by our Lord the greatest of the prophets, both concludes the history of the Old Testament and opens up the epoch of the New Testament. The holy Prophet John gave witness concerning the arrival on earth of the Only-Begotten Son of God, incarnated humanly in the flesh. Saint John was deemed worthy to baptise Him in the waters of the Jordan and he was a witness of the Theophany or Manifestation of the MostHoly Trinity on the day of the Baptism of the Saviour. The holy Prophet John was a kinsman of the Lord on His mother's side, the son of the Priest Zachariah and Righteous Elizabeth. The holy Forerunner of the Lord, John, was born six months earlier than Christ Jesus. The Archangel Gabriel was the messenger of his birth, in the Jerusalem Temple revealing to his father, that for him a son was to be born. Through the prayers offered up beforehand, the child was filled with the Holy Spirit. Saint John prepared himself in the wilds of the desert for his great service by a strict life, by fasting, prayer and sympathy for the fate of God's people. At the age of about 30 years he came forth preaching repentance. He appeared at the banks of the Jordan, by his preaching to prepare the people for acceptance of the Saviour of the world. In the expression of churchly song, Saint John was a "bright morning star", whose gleaming outshone the shining of all the other stars, announcing the coming morning of the day of grace, illumined with the light of the spiritual Son, -- our Lord Jesus Christ. Having baptised the sinless Lamb of God, Saint John soon died a martyr's death, beheaded by the sword on orders of king Herod in fulfilling the request of his daughter Salome. (About Saint John the Baptist, vide: Mt. 3: 1-16, 11: 1-19, 14: 1-12; Mk. 1: 2-8, 6: 14-29; Lk. 1: 5-25, 39-80, 3: 1-20, 7: 18-35, 9: 7-9; Jn. 1: 19-34, 3: 22-26).
On this day is commemorated also the Transfer of the Right Hand of the holy Forerunner from Antioch to Tsargrad (956) and the Miracle of Saint John the Forerunner against the Hagarites (Mahometans) at Chios.
The body of Saint John the Baptist was buried in the Samaritan city of Sebasteia. The holy Evangelist Luke, in making the rounds preaching Christ in various cities and towns, came in time to Sebasteia, where they gave over to him the right hand of the holy Prophet John, the very hand with which he had baptised the Saviour. The Evangelist Luke took it with him to his native city of Antioch. When the Mahometans centuries later seized possession of Antioch, a deacon named Job transported the holy hand of the Forerunner from Antioch to Chalcedon. From there, on the very eve of the Theophany of the Lord, it was transferred to Constantinople (956) and kept thereafter. In the year 1200 the Russian pilgrim Dobrynya -- who was later to be come the holy Archbishop of Novgorod Antonii (Comm. 10 February), saw the right hand of the Forerunner in the imperial palaces. From the Acts of the Saints it is known, that in the year 1263 during the seizure of Constantinople by the Crusaders, the emperor Baldwin gave over one bone from the wrist of Saint John the Baptist to Ottonus de Cichon, who then gave it over to a Cistercian abbey in France. The right hand continued to be kept in Constantinople. And at the end of the XIV thru beginning XV Centuries the holy relic was seen at Constantinople in the Peribleptos monastery by the Russian pilgrims: Stefan Novgorodets, deacon Ignatii, the cantor Alexander and deacon Zosima. But with the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, sacred objects were gathered up at the whim of the conqueror and preserved in the imperial treasury, all locked up.
In the Acts of the Saints is presented clear testimony, that in the year 1484 the right hand of the holy Forerunner was given away by the son of the Mahometan sultan Bayazet to the Rhodes knights to gain their good-will, since a dangerous rival for Bayazet -- his own brother, had situated himself amongst them. And about this event there speaks also a contemporary participant, the Rhodes vice-chancellor Wilhelm Gaorsan Gallo. The Rhodes knights, having established their base on the island of Malta (in the Mediterranean Sea), then transferred to Malta the sacred relic they had received. When the Russian emperor Paul I (1796-1801) became grand-master of the Maltese Order in honour of the holy Prophet John, the right hand of the Baptist, part of the Life-Creating Cross and the Philermian Icon of the Mother of God were transferred in the year 1799 [because of the Napoleonic threat] from the island of Malta to Russia, to the chapel at Gatchina (Comm. 12 October). In the same year these sacred items were then transferred into the church in honour of the Saviour Icon Not-Made-by-Hand at the Winter palace. And for this feast was compiled a special service.
Besides the Assemblage ("Sobor" or "Synaxis") of the venerable glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John, the Orthodox Church celebrates his memory on the following days: 23 September -- his Conception (2 B.C.); 24 June -- his Birth (1 B.C.); 29 August -- his Beheading (+ c. 32); 24 February -- the First (IV) and Second (452) Finding of the Head; the Third Finding of the Head (c. 850); 12 October -- the Transfer of the Right Hand from Malta to Gatchina (1799).
The Monk Gregory Khozebites was born on the island of Crete. At the death of his parents he set off to Palestine to venerate at the holy places. Here he entered into the Khuzebite monastic community, situated between the River Jordan and Jerusalem, and he later became head of this monastery. The Monk George presented the monks example in fasting, vigil and physical efforts. Having lived upon the earth as though incorporeal, he died peacefully.
The Nun Domnica came from Carthage to Constantinople during the time of the holy Emperor Theodosius the Great. Here she accepted Baptism from Patriarch Nektarios and entered a women's monastery. By means of strict and prolonged ascetic effort she attained to high spiritual perfection. The saint healed the sick, demonstrated power over the natural elements, and predicted the future. By her miracles the saint moved inhabitants of the capital towards concerns about life eternal and the soul. Adorned by virtues, the saint expired from life a spotless virgin in her old age (+ 474).
The Monk Gregory was tonsured into monasticism at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery during the time of the Monk Theodosii (+ 1074, Comm. 3 May). The saint devoted much time to the reading of books, which were his sole possession. The monk had the ability to bring thieves to their senses. Several times robbers broke in on him in his cell or in the garden, but the saint mildly reasoned with them; the thieves became repentant, straightened themselves out and from that time they began to lead honest lives.
One time, when the monk went to the Dneipr River for water, young fellows marching off on a campaign with prince Rostislav, caught sight of the elder and began rudely to laugh and mock at him. The saint answered them: "Children, it becometh ye to be contrite and ask for my prayers, since over you is already decided the judgement of God. All ye together with your prince will find death in the water". By orders of the enraged prince Rostislav, the monk was bound hand and foot and with a stone about his neck he was drowned in the Dneipr. But his prediction came true. Rostislav did not return from the campaign. In that same year of 1093 the twenty year old prince drowned in view of his brother, Vladimir Monomakh, trying to save himself in flight from the Polovetsians.
Several sources identify Saint Gregory with the Monk Gregory, a compiler of canons commemorating holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir, the Monk Theodosii, and the holy Martyrs Boris and Gleb. But the Monk Gregory, compiler of canons, lived later and died in about the year 1120. The Monk Gregory the Wonderworker died in 1093 and was buried in the Nearer Caves. His memory is made also on 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Monk Gregory, Hermit of Pechersk, lived during the XIV Century. In the "Accounts of the Lives of the Saints, Reposed in the Cave of the Monk Theodosii", it says, that uncooked grass served as the food of the Monk Gregory all his life. He gave this grass to those coming to him, and the sick were healed. His memory is also 28 August and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The PriestMartyr Isidor was priest of the Nikol'sk church in the city of Yur'ev (Derpto, at present Taru in Estonia). According to the terms of a treaty concluded in 1463 between the Moscow Greatprince Ivan III and the Livonian knights, the latter were obligated to extend to the Orthodox at Derpto every protection. But the Livonian knights broke the treaty and began to try forcing the Orthodox into the Unia. Presbyter Isidor bravely stood forth in defense of Orthodoxy. He preferred to accept a martyr's crown rather than submit to the Catholics. Blessed Isidor together with 72 of his parishioners were drowned in the ice-hole, cut open on the feast of Theophany after the blessing of waters in the River Amovzha (or Emaiyga, now Emajogi). In Spring, during a time of flooding, the undecayed bodies of the holy martyrs, and among them the fully-vested body of the PriestMartyr Isidor, were found by Russian merchants journeying along the River bank. They buried the saints around the Nikol'sk church.
The Holy Martyr Julian was born in the Egyptian city of Antinoe, and to satisfy his parents he entered into marriage with the nobleborn and rich maiden, Basilissa. In marriage the spouses remained virginal. Upon the death of their parents they built two monasteries: a men's and a women's, and they themselves accepted monasticism and headed these monasteries. In the year 313, during the reign of Diocletian, Saint Julian suffered cruelly for his faith in Christ. But by his bravery he converted Celsius, the son of his torturer the hegemon Marcian, and also that one's wife, Marionilla. Having resurrected a dead pagan, the saint converted him also. The converts received Baptism from Presbyter Anthony. In Baptism the pagan was given the name Anastasias (i.e. "Resurrected"). After imprisonment they all accept a martyr's crown, won through beheading by the sword. With them also were numbered 20 soldiers and 7 youths.
The Monk Ilias the Egyptian, having accepted monasticism, pursued asceticism for 75 years on a desolate mountain in a stone cave, and he died in the IV Century at age 110.
The Martyr Abo of Tbilela (Tbilisi), an Arab by descent, lived during the VIII Century in Baghdad and was a preparer of fragrant ointments. At 17-18 he found himself in Tbilisi, having followed the ruler of Kartla (Eastern Gruzia), Nerses. Nerses, having been slandered before the caliph, had spent three years at Baghdad imprisoned; but having been set free by a new caliph, he took Abo with him. In Tbilisi Abo learned the Gruzian (Georgian) language. By his virtues he gained the love and respect of the people. Abo began to study the Holy Scripture and quite frequently to visit the temples of God. Persevering in fasting and prayer, he sought the proper moment, to accept holy Baptism. During this time the ruler of Kartla, Nerses, was again denounced before the caliph and summoned to Baghdad. Nerses, wanting to flee retribution, journeyed north to Khazaria. In his retinue of 300 men was also Abo. In Khazaria he accepted holy Baptism. After several more months of following Nerses, Abo found himself at Abkhazia. He led there a strict ascetic life, constantly meditating upon the Holy Scripture, and he prayed long at church services. The pious life of Saint Abo became known both to the ruler and the bishop of Abkhazia. They often invited Saint Abo for spiritual conversation, marvelling at his deep faith and knowledge. But in wishing to shun earthly glory, and impressed by the exploit of the Monk Anthony the Great, Saint Abo devoted himself to quietude, and only after three months, on the day of the Radiant Resurrection of Christ did he break his silence, glorifying and preaching the Resurrection of the Saviour.
Nerses soon decided to return to Tbilisi, and Abo fearlessly followed him, although the ruler of Abkhazia besought him to remain, fearing for his fate. At Tbilisi, situated then under the power of the Mahometans, Saint Abo openly confessed Christ the Saviour, and by this he drew down upon himself the vindictive wrath of the Persians. Saint Abo was locked up in prison, and then brought to trial. They tried to get him to return to Mahometanism at first by persuasion and by promises of all sorts of riches and honours. But when they saw, that Abo remained unyielding, they again threw him in prison. On the 9th day of imprisonment an Angel of the Lord revealed to Saint Abo about the impending day of his martyr's death. At the third hour of the feast of Theophany Saint Abo received the Holy Mysteries and was soon led away by the guards for execution. Hoping by means of fear to compel a recanting from Christ, they three times struck at Saint Abo with the blunt side of the sword. The martyr however remained steadfast. He then died through the cutting off of his venerable head on that day, a Friday, 6 January 786.
The body of Saint Abo was smeared with naphtha and set afire at the rock-cleft edge of that place, where later was built the Tbilisi Metekhsk church. "The Lord did send to this place a star, shining like unto a lampada, which stood in the air until the third hour of the night and moreso... and itself did illumine all Tiflis". The bones of Saint Abo were thrown over a bridge into the River Kura. On the next day, 7 January, they were glorified by a wondrous pillar of light coming out of the water, about which testified the contemporary of Saint Abo, John Sabanisdze, who compiled his life.
Saint Polyeuktos was the first martyr in the Armenian city of Meletina. He was a soldier under the emperor Decius (249-251) and he later suffered for Christ under the emperor Valerian (253-259). The saint was friend also of Nearchos, a fellow-soldier and firm Christian, but Polyeutos himself, while yet leading a virtuous life, remained a pagan.
When the persecution against Christians started up, Nearchos said to Polyeuktos: "Friend, we shalt soon be separated from thee, for they wilt take me to torture, and thou alas, wilt renounce friendship with me". Polyeuktos answered him, that in a dream he had seen Christ, Who took from him his garb and clothed him in another and bright attire. "From that moment, -- said he, -- I am prepared to serve the Lord Jesus Christ".
Having become ardent in spirit, Saint Polyeuktos went out onto the city square, tore up the imperial edict hanging there about the duty to worship idols, and then he smashed idols from out of the hands of pagan priests carrying them.
His father-in-law, the governor Felox, to whom had been entrusted the carrying out of the imperial edict, was horrified at the deed of Saint Polyeuktos and declared, that for this he had to die. "Go, make farewell with thine wife and children," -- said Felox. The wife came and with tears began to beseech her husband to renounce Christ, and his father-in-law Felox also wept. But Saint Polyeuktos remained steadfast in his resolve to suffer for Christ. With joy he bent his head beneathe the sword of the executioner and was baptised in his own blood (+ 259). Soon, when the Church of Christ in the time of Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine had triumphed throughout all the Roman empire, at Meletina there was erected a church in the name of the holy Martyr Polyeuktos. Many a miracle was worked through the prayerful intercession of Saint Polyeuktos. In this very church prayed fervently for the granting of a son the parents of the holy Monk Euthymios the Great (Comm. 20 January). The birth of this great luminary of Orthodoxy in the year 376 thus occurred through the help of the holy Martyr Polyeuktos. His memory was also venerated by Sainted Akakios, Bishop of Meletina, a participant of the Third OEcumenical Council and a great proponent of the Ecumenical Truth. As in the East, so also in the West, the holy Martyr Polyeuktosis venerated as a patron saint of vows and treaty agreements.
Sainted Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow, in the world Feodor (Theodore), was descended from the illustrious boyar-noble lineage of the Kolychevi, occupying a prominent place in the Boyar duma at the court of the Moscow sovereigns. He was born in the year 1507. His father, Stepan Ivanovich, "a man enlightened and filled with military spirit", attentively prepared his son for government service. Pious Varvara (Barbara), the mother of Feodor, who ended her days in monasticism with the name Varsonophia, implanted in the soul of her son a sincere faith and deep piety. Young Feodor Kolychev applied himself diligently to the Holy Scripture and to the books of the holy fathers, upon which the old Russian enlightenment rested, then transpiring within the Church and in the spirit of the Church. The Moscow Greatprince, Vasilii III Ioannovich, the father of Ivan the Terrible, brought young Feodor into the court, but he was not however attracted to court life. Conscious of its vanity and sinfulness, Feodor all the more deeply immersed himself in the reading of books and visiting the churches of God. Life in Moscow repelled the young ascetic. The sincere devotion to him of the young prince Ivan, presaging a great future for him in government service, could not hold in check within the earthly city his searching out of the Heavenly City.
On Sunday, 5 June 1537, in church for Divine Liturgy, Feodor felt intensely in his soul the words of the Saviour: "No one is able to serve two masters" (Mt. 6: 24), which determined his ultimate destiny. Praying fervently to the Moscow wonderworkers, and without bidding farewell to kinsfolk, he secretly in the attire of a common person left Moscow, and for a certain while he hid himself away from the world in the village of Khizna, near Lake Onega, earning his livelihood as a shepherd. His thirst for ascetic deeds led him to the reknown Solovetsk monastery on the White Sea. There he fulfilled quite toilsome obediences: he chopped firewood, dug the ground, and worked in the mill. After a year and an half of testing, the hegumen Aleksei, at the wish of Feodor tonsured him, giving him the monastic name Philip and entrusting him in obedience to the starets-elder Jona Shamina, who conversed with the Monk Alexander Svirsk (+ 1533, Comm. 30 August). Under the guidance of the experienced elders the Monk Philip grew spiritually, and strengthened in fasting and prayer. Hegumen Aleksei sent him in obedience to work at the monastery black-smith forge, where Saint Philip combined the activity of unceasing prayer amidst his working with an heavy hammer. At the beginning of the service in church he always appeared first and was the last to leave. He toiled also in the bakery, where the humble ascetic was comforted with an heavenly Sign. In the monastery afterwards they displayed the "Bakery" image of the Mother of God, through which the heavenly Mediatrix bestowed Her blessing upon the humble baker-monk Philip. With the blessing of the hegumen, Saint Philip spent a certain while in wilderness solitude, attending to himself and to God.
In 1546 at Novgorod the Great, archbishop Theodosii consecrated Philip as hegumen of the Solovetsk monastery. The new-made hegumen strove with all his might to exalt the spiritual significance of the monastery and its founders -- the Monk Savvatii and Zosima of Solovetsk (Comm. 27 September, 17 April). He searched out the Hodegetria image of the Mother of God brought to the island by the original first head of Solovetsk, the Monk Savvatii; he located the stone cross which once stood before the cell of the monk. Found also was the Psalter, belonging to the Monk Zosima (+ 1478), the first hegumen of Solovetsk, and his robe, in which from that time hegumens would vest during service on the days of memory of the wonderworker. The monastery was revived spiritually. For regulating life at the monastery, a new ustav (monastic rule) was adopted. Saint Philip built on Solovetsk majestic temples -- a refectory church of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the Mother of God, consecrated in the year 1557, and a church of the Transfiguration (Preobrazhenie) of the Lord. The hegumen himself worked as a simple labourer, helping to lay the walls of the Transfiguration church. Beneathe the north portico he dug himself a grave, alongside that of his guide, the starets Jona. Spiritual life in these years blossomed at the monastery: asceticising amidst the brethren amongst the students of Hegumen Philip were the Monks John and Longin of Yarengsk (Comm. 3 July) and Vassian and Jona of Pertominsk (Comm. 12 July).
For his efforts of secret prayer Saint Philip often withdrew for quiet to a desolate wilderness spot, two versts from the monastery, which received afterwards the name the Philippov wilderness.
But the Lord was preparing the saint for other service and other work. At Moscow Ivan the Terrible remembered fondly about the Solovetsk hermit from the time of his childhood years. The tsar hoped to find in Saint Philip a true companion, confessor and counsellor, who through his exalted monastic life would have nothing in common with the sedition of the boyar-nobles. The holiness of the metropolitan, in the opinion of Ivan the Terrible, ought to be of a certain spiritual meekness to quell the treachery and malice, nesting itself within the Boyar soul. The choice of such an arch-hierarch for the Russian Church seemed to him the best possible.
The saint for a long time refused to take upon himself the great burden of primate of the Russian Church. He did not sense any spiritual affinity with Ivan. He attempted to urge the tsar to abolish the Oprichniki [the tsar internal terror shock troops]. Ivan the Terrible attempted to argue its civil necessity. Finally, the dread tsar and the holy metropolitan came to an agreement, that Saint Philip would not meddle in the affairs of the Oprichniki and the running of the government, he would not resign as metropolitan in case, if the tsar be not able to fulfill his wishes, and that he would be a support and counsellor of the tsar, just as former metropolitans were supports for the Moscow sovereigns. On 25 July 1566 occurred the consecration of Saint Philip to the cathedra-seat of the Moscow sainted-hierarchs, whose number he was soon to join.
Ivan the Terrible, one of the greatest and most contradictory figures in Russian history, lived an intensely busy life, he was a talented writer and bibliophile [i.e. lover of books], he involved himself in the compilation of the Chronicles (and himself suddenly sundered the thread of the Moscow chronicle-writing), he delved into the intricacies of the monastic ustav (rule), and more than once thought about monasticism and abdicating the throne. Every aspect of governmental service, all the abrupt measures undertaken by him for a setting to root restructuring of civil and social life, Ivan the Terrible tried to rationalise as a manifestation of Divine Providence, as the acting of God within history. His beloved spiritual heroes were Saint Michael of Chernigov (Comm. 20 September) and Saint Theodore (Feodor) the Black (Comm. 19 September), military men active with a complex contradictory destiny, moving on towards their sacred ends through whatever the hindrances rising up afront them, and fulfilling their duties to the Rodina (Native-land) and Holy Church. The more the darkness thickened around Ivan the Terrible, the more resolutely he demanded of his soul cleansing and redemption. Journeying on pilgrimage to the Kirillo-Belozersk monastery, he declared his wish to the hegumen and the gathered elders to be made a monk. The haughty autocrat fell on his knees to the hegumen, and that one blessed his intent. All his life from that time, wrote Ivan the Terrible, "it seems to me, an accursed sinner, that halfways I am already black-robed". The Oprichnina was itself conceived of by Ivan the Terrible in the form of a monastic brotherhood: serving God with weapon and military deeds, the Oprichniki were required to dress in monastic garb and go to church service, long and tiring, lasting from 4 to 10 o'clock in the morning. Upon "brethren", not appearing at 4 o'clock in the morning, the tsar imposed a penance. Ivan himself with his sons sought fervently to pray and sing in the church choir. From church they went on to refectory (meal), and while the Oprichniki ate, the tsar stood alongside them. The remaining food the Oprichniki gathered from the table and distributed to the poor at the doorway of their refectory (dining hall). Ivan the Terrible, with tears of repentance and wanting to be an esteemer of the holy ascetics -- the teachers of repentance, he wanted to wash and burn away his own sins and those of his companions, cherishing the assurance, that even the terrible cruel actions would rebound for him to the welfare of Russia and the triumph of Orthodoxy. The most clearly spiritual action and monastic sobriety of Ivan the Terrible is revealed in his "Synodikon": shortly before his death by his orders there were compiled full lists of the people murdered by him and his Oprichniki, which were then distributed throughout all the Russian monasteries. All his sins against the nation Ivan took upon himself and besought the holy monks to pray to God for the forgiveness of his tormented soul.
The self-styled monasticism of Ivan the Terrible, a dark most grievous oppression over Russia, tormented Saint Philip, who considered it impossible to mix together the earthly and the heavenly, serving the cross and serving the sword. Even moreso was it, that Saint Philip saw, how much unrepentant malice and envy was concealed beneathe the black hoods of the Oprichniki. There were among them outright murderers, hardened in lawless bloodletting, and profiteers in it for the rewards, rooted in sin and transgression. By the sufferance of God history often is worked with the hands of the impious, and Ivan the Terrible as it were wanted to whiten before God his black brotherhood, -- the blood, spilled in the name of its thugs and fanatics, cried out to heaven.
Saint Philip decided to oppose Ivan the Terrible. This was connected with a new wave of executions in the years 1567-1568. In the Autumn of 1567, just as the tsar was setting out on a campaign against Livonia, he learned about a boyar conspiracy. The plotters intended to seize the tsar and deliver him over to the Polish king, who already was on the move with an army towards Russian territory. Ivan the Terrible dealt severely with the conspirators and again he shed much blood. It was bitter for Saint Philip, and the conscience of the saint at length compelled him boldly to enter into defense of the executed. The final rift occurred in the Spring of 1568. On the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross, 2 March 1568, when the tsar with his Oprichniki entered the Uspenie (Dormition) cathedral, as was their custom in monastic garb, Saint Philip refused to bless him, and began openly to denounce the lawless acts committed by the Oprichniki: "Metropolitan Philip did instruct the sovereign of the enmity in Moscow concerning the Oprichnina".The accusations of the Vladyka shattered the harmony of the church service. Ivan the Terrible in a rage said: "Thou wouldst oppose us? We shall see thine firmness! I have been too soft on you", -- retorted the tsar, according to eye-witnesses.
The tsar began to show ever greater cruelty in persecuting all those that opposed him. Executions followed one after the other. The fate of the saintly confessor was sealed. But Ivan the Terrible wanted to observe a canonical semblance of propriety. The Boyar duma obediently carried out the decision to have a trial over the Primate of the Russian Church. A cathedral trial-court was set up over Metropolitan Philip in the presence of a thinned-out Boyar duma. False witnesses were found: and to the deep sorrow of the saint, these were monks of the Solovetsk monastery beloved by him, his former students and novices. They accused Saint Philip of a multitude of transgressions, even including sorcery. "I am come upon the earth, just like all my ancestors, -- humbly answered the saint, -- prepared to suffer for truth". Having refuted all the accusations, the holy sufferer attempted to halt the trial by declaring voluntarily to resign the metropolitan dignity. But his abdication was not accepted. New abuse awaited the martyr. Even after bringing forth a sentence of life imprisonment, they compelled Saint Philip to serve Liturgy in the Uspensk cathedral. This was on 8 November 1568. In the midst of the service the Oprichniki burst into the temple, they publicly read the council sentence of condemnation, and then abused the saint, tearing from him the hierarchical vestments, they dressed him in rags, dragged him out of the church and drove him off on a simple peasant's sledge to the Theophany monastery. For a long while they oppressed the martyr in the cellars of the Moscow monasteries, the feet of the elder they shoved into stocks, they held him in chains, and put an heavy chain upon his neck. Finally, they drove him off to the Tver Otroch monastery. And there a year afterwards, on 23 December 1569, the saint accepted a martyr's death at the hands of Maliuta Skuratov. Only three days before this the holy elder foresaw the finish of his earthly efforts and communed the Holy Mysteries. His relics were committed to earth initially there at the monastery, beyond the church altar. Later on they were transferred to the Solovetsk monastery (11 August 1591) and from there -- to Moscow (3 July 1652).
The memory of Sainted Philip was celebrated by the Russian Church from the year 1591, on the day of his martyr's end -- 23 December. From 1660 the celebration was transferred to 9 January.
The Prophet Samei (Shemaiah) lived under king Solomon and his son Rehoboam, whom the prophet before the face of God forbade to war against the 10 Tribes of Israel, which separated themselves from the offspring of David (3  Kings 12).
Sainted Peter, Bishop of Sebasteia, was a brother of Sainted Basil the Great and Sainted Gregory of Nyssa (Comm. 1 January and 10 January). And in his upbringing a large part was played by his older sister, Saint Macrina (Comm. 19 July).
Sainted Basil the great consecrated Saint Peter as presbyter, and after the death of Saint Basil he was made bishop of Sebasteia (in Armenia). Saint Peter was present at the Second OEcumenical Council in the year 381, convened at Constantinople against the heresy of Macedonias.
The Monk Eustratios hailed from the city of Tarsis. At 20 years of age he secretly left the home of his parents and settled in the Abgarite monastery (on Olympos in Asia Minor). There he lived a strict ascetic life, eating only bread and water, and spending the nights at prayer. After a certain while he was chosen head of the monastery. During the reign of the Iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820), the Monk Eustratios in hiding from pursuit roamed the hills and the wilds, and after the death of the emperor he returned to the monastery. Prayer never left his lips, and he incessantly repeated the words: "Lord, have mercy!"
Before his death he gave an instruction to the monks: not to be attracted towards earthly blessings, and constantly to think about the future life. Signing himself with the sign of the Cross, he pronounced the words: "Into Thine hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit" and he died peacefully, at age 95.
Sainted Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, was a younger brother of Saint Basil the Great (Comm. 1 January). His birth and time of upbringing coincided with the very heights of the Arian disputes. Having received an excellent education, he was at one time a teacher of rhetorical eloquence. In the year 372 he was ordained by Saint Basil the Great as bishop of the city of Nyssa in Cappadocia.
Saint Gregory was an ardent advocate for Orthodoxy, and together with his brother Saint Basil the great he fought against the Arian heresy. He suffered persecution by the Arians, by whom he was falsely accused in the year 376 of improper useage of church property, and thereby deprived of his cathedra-seat and sent off to Ancyra. In the following year Saint Gregory was again in absentia deposed by a church-council of Arian bishops, but he continued to encourage his flock in Orthodoxy, wandering about from place to place. After the death of the emperor Valens (378), Saint Gregory was restored to his cathedra-seat and joyously received by his flock. In the year 379 his brother Saint Basil the Great died. Only with difficulty did Saint Gregory survive the loss of his brother and guide. He crafted a funeral oration to him and completed compilation of Saint Basil's study of the Six Days of Creation, the so-called "Hexaemeron". This same year Saint Gregory participated in the Council of Antioch, against heretics that disdained to honour the immaculate virginity of the Mother of God, and others at the opposite extreme that worshipped the Mother of God as Herself being God. He was chosen by the Council for an examination of churches in Arabia and Palestine to assert the Orthodox teaching about the MostHoly Mother of God. On his return journey Saint Gregory visited Jerusalem and the Holy Places.
In the year 381 Saint Gregory was one of the chief figures of the Second OEcumenical Council, convened at Constantinople against the heresy of Macedonias, who incorrectly taught concerning the Holy Spirit. At this Council, on the initiative of Saint Gregory, was completed the Nicean Symbol of Faith (i.e. the Creed).
Together with the other bishops Saint Gregory affirmed Sainted Gregory the Theologian in the dignity of Archpastor of Constantinople.
In the year 383 Saint Gregory of Nyssa was a participant in a Council at Constantinople, where he spoke a sermon about the Divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the year 386 he was again at Constantinople, and to him was entrusted to speak the funeral oration in memory of the empress Placilla. And again in 394 Saint Gregory was present in Constantinople at a Local Council, convened for resolving church matters in Arabia.
Sainted Gregory of Nyssa was a fiery defender of Orthodox dogmas and a zealous teacher to his flock, a kind and compassionate father to his spiritual children, and their intercessor before the courts. He was distinguished by his magnanimity, patience and love for peace.
Having reached old age, Saint Gregory of Nyssa died peacefully, soon after the Constantinople Council. Together with his great contemporaries -- Saints Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian, Saint Gregory of Nyssa had a significant influence on the Church life of his time. His sister, Saint Macrina, wrote to him: "Thou art reknown both in the cities, and gatherings of people, and throughout entire districts; Churches do send off and summon thee for help". Saint Gregory has come down in history as one of the most obvious and active Christian thinkers of the IV Century. Endowed with a profound philosophical talent, he perceived philosophy but as a means for a deeper penetration into the authentic meaning of Divine revelation.
Saint Gregory left behind him many works of dogmatic character, as well as sermons and discourses.
The Monk Dometian, Bishop of Meletineia, was born and lived during the VI Century, during the time of the emperor Justin the Younger. He was married but early on widowed, thereafter accepting monasticism and living a strict and holy life. At thirty years of age he was chosen bishop of the city of Meletineia (Great Armenia). Wise and zealous in questions of faith, strong in word and deed, Saint Dometian quickly gained fame as a good and ardent pastor. More than once he carried out government commissions in Persia to avoid conflicts with the Greeks. Beloved by everyone, the Monk Dometian often received rich gifts, which he distributed for the welfare of the poor. Both during his lifetime and after his death, occurring in the year 601, Saint Dometian was glorified by God with miracles.
The Monk Marcian, Presbyter and Steward of the Great Church (in Constantinople), was born at Rome and in his youth he received a first-rate education in Constantinople. After the death of his parents, the Monk Marcian used his rich inheritance on the building, renovation and embellishment of churches. Thus, he built a church in the name of the holy Martyress Anastasia, richly adorned it, and had the holy relics of the saint transferred into it. He built likewise a church of the holy Martyress Irene. His moral purity and strict ascetic life brought him to the attention of the patriarch, who ordained the Saint Marcian a presbyter and appointed him steward of the Great (Patriarchal) Church in Constantinople.
From his wealth Saint Marcian distributed generous alms, and distinguished himself by non-covetousness, denying himself in everything. In accord with the command of the Saviour, he did not even have an extra set of clothes, as might be necessary should he be drenched in inclement weather. Having received a gift of wonderworking, the Monk Marcian healed the sick and cast out devils. Saint Marcian died during the years 472-474 and was buried at the monastery of Saint John the ForeRunner at Constantinople.
The Monk Paul of Komel'sk, a famed student of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, was born at Moscow in the year 1317. From his youthful years he distinguished himself by his piety and kindliness towards the poor and suffering. His rich parents prepared him for a secular life, but at twenty-two years of age he secretly left his parental home and received tonsure at the Nativity monastery on the Volga (in Yaroslavsk diocese).
From there Paul transferred to the Holy Trinity monastery to the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, spending several years with him as a cell-obedient, in everything obeying the wise guidance of the holy starets (elder). With the blessing of the Monk Sergei, he settled a way off from the monastery in a separate cell, where he spent fifteen years as an hermit. Having asked the blessing of the Monk Sergei to go off into the wilderness for a quiet and solitary life, the Monk Paul wandered about for a long while, seeking for himself the place of solitude. He went much about the wilderness, he spent time with the Monk Avraamii of Chukhlomsk (Comm. 20 July) and finally, he remained in the Komel'sk forest. At the Gryazovitsa River, in the hollow of an old linden tree, the monk made himself a small cell and dwelt there for three years in complete silence, "not giving his body rest, for which to receive future rest". Then he moved on to the River Nurma, where he built himself an hut and dug out a well. He spent his days in vigil and prayer. Five days out of the week he went without food, and only on Saturday and Sunday did he partake of some bread and water. The news spread widely about the hermit, and there begin coming to him those wishing spiritual guidance of him. Despite his love for the solitary life, the Monk Paul never refused anyone in spiritual consolation and guidance. He was visited here also by the Monk Sergei of Nuromsk, who likewise had sought solitude with the blessing of their teacher the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, and who likewise passed his ascetic life in these locales.
With the blessing of the Monk Sergei and the agreement of Metropolitan Photii, the Monk Paul in 1414 built the Holy Trinity Church, around which grew up a monastery, receiving the name of Pavlo-Obnorsk. Having written for the brethren a strict ustav (monastic rule), the Monk Paul entrusted the guidance of the new monastery to his disciple Aleksei, while he himself continued as before to live in a solitary cell on an hill, meanwhile remaining a responsive and good counsellor for anyone needing his healing help. The Monk Paul died at 112 years of age. His final words were: "Brethren, have love one for another and keep to the rule of the monastic community".
The Life of the saint was written in about the year 1546, and his glorification occurred in 1547.
The Monk Makarii of Pisemsk and Kostroma -- was a co-ascetic of the Monk Paul of Obnorsk. He was the founder, in the second half of the XIV Century, of the Makar'ev Transfiguration wilderness monastery at the River Pis'ma in the Kostroma outskirts.
Blessed Theozua the Deaconess was the sister by birth of Saints Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Paul, Bishop of Sebasteia. She was a virgin and served Holy Church as a deaconess, caring for the sick, distributing food to vagrants, raising orphans and preparing women for holy Baptism. When her brother, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, was in exile for three years, Saint Theozua was with him and she shared in all the tribulations of a life of wandering. Saint Theozua died in the year 385, and Sainted Gregory the Theologian honoured her memory in an eulogy.
The Monk Theodosios the Great lived during the V-VI Centuries, and was the initiator of common-life (coenobitic) monasteries. He was born in Cappadocia of pious parents. Endowed with a splendid voice, he zealously toiled at church reading and singing. And the Monk Theodosios prayed fervently, that the Lord would guide him on the way to salvation. In his early years he visited the Holy Land and met with the Monk Simeon the Stylite ("Pillar-Dweller", + 459, Comm. 1 September), who blessed him and predicted future pastoral service for him. Yearning for the solitary life, Saint Theodosios settled in Palestine into a desolate cave, -- in which by tradition, the three Magi had spent the night, having come to worship at the Nativity of the Saviour of the world. In it he dwelt for 30 years in great abstinence and unceasing prayer. Steadily there began to throng to the ascetic those wanting to live under his guidance. When the cave could no more hold all the gathered monks, the Monk Theodosios began to pray, that the Lord Himself would point out the place for the monks. Taking with him a censer with cold unlit coals, the monk went into the wilderness. At a certain spot the coals fired up and set the incense smoke to rising. Here also the monk founded the first common-life monastery, or Lavra [Greek "Laura" meaning "broad" or populous"; in Russia were four such: Trinity-Sergeev, Kievo-Pechersk, Alexander-Nevsk and Pochaev], under the ustav-rule of Saint Basil the Great (+ 379, Comm. 1 January). Soon the Lavra of the Monk Theodosios became reknown, and up to 700 monks gathered at it. According to the final testament of the Monk Theodosios, the Lavra rendered service to neighbour, giving aid to all the poor and providing shelter for wanderers.
The Monk Theodosios was extremely compassionate. One time when there was a famine in Palestine and a multitude of people gathered at the monastery, the monk gave orders to allow everyone into the monastery enclosure. His disciples were annoyed, knowing, that the monastery did not have the means to feed all those who had come. But when they went into the bakery, they saw that then through the prayers of the abba, that it was filled with bread. And suchlike a miracle was repeated every time, when the Monk Theodosios wanted to give help to the destitute.
At the monastery the Monk Theodosios built an home for taking in strangers, separate infirmaries for monks and laymen, and also a shelter for the dying. Seeing that at the Lavra were gathered people from various lands, the monk arranged for Divine-services in the various languages -- Greek, Gruzian (Georgian) and Armenian. For communing the Holy Mysteries all gathered in the large church, where Divine-services were done in Greek.
During the reign of the Constantinople emperor Anastasias (491-518) there arose the heresy of Eutykhios and Severus, which recognised neither the sacraments nor the clergy. The emperor joined in with the false-teaching, and the Orthodox began to suffer persecution. The Monk Theodosios stood firmly in defense of Orthodoxy and on behalf of the wilderness monks wrote a missive to the emperor, in which they denounced him and refuted the condemned heresy with the teachings of the OEcumenical Councils. He affirmed moreover, that the wilderness-dwellers and monks would firmly support the Orthodox confession. The emperor showed restraint for a short while, but then he renewed persecution of the Orthodox. The holy elder then manifest great zeal for the truth. Leaving the monastery, he came to Jerusalem and in the "Great" church, stood at the high place and cried out for all to hear: "Whoever honoureth not the four OEcumenical Councils, let them be anathema!". For this bold deed the monk was sent to prison, but soon returned after the death of the emperor.
The Monk Theodosios during his life accomplished many healings and other miracles, coming to the aid of the needy. One time by prayer he destroyed locusts that were devastating the fields in Palestine; also by his intercession, soldiers were kept from perishing, and he saved both those perishing in shipwreck and those lost in the desert.
One time the monk gave orders to strike the signal, so that the brethren would gather at prayer, and said: "The wrath of God draweth near the Eastern land". After several days it became known, that a strong earthquake had destroyed the city of Antioch at that very hour, when the monk had summoned the brethren to prayer. Before his death, the Monk Theodosios summoned to him three beloved bishops and revealed to them, that he would soon expire to the Lord. After three days he died at the age of 105, in the year 529. The body of the saint was buried with reverence in the cave, in which he lived at the beginning of his ascetic deeds.
The Monk Michael of Klopsk was descended of boyar (noble) lineage, and he was a kinsman of GreatPrince Dimitrii Donskoi (1363-1389). He took upon himself the exploit of Fool-for-Christ: he left Moscow and in rags he arrived at the Klopsk monastery, near Novgorod. No one knew, how he got into the locked cell of the priest-monk Makarii, who then was making a censing at the 9th Ode of the Canon and was going round the cell censing. But there sat a man in monastic garb and beneathe a candle he wrote copying from the Acts of the holy Apostles. After the finish of matins the hegumen with brethren came and started to ask the stranger: who is he and of what name? But he answered only by a repeating of the questions and did not reveal his origin. In church the saint sang in the choir and read the Epistle, and at meals he read the Saint-Lives. All who listened were moved by the beauty and spirituality of his reading. On the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, the Klopsk monastery was visited by prince Konstantin Dimitrievich (son of GreatPrince Dimitrii Donskoi). After Communion he together with the princess was at the refectory, during the time of which the unknown stranger read from the Book of Job. Hearing the reading, the prince approached the reader and, having looked him over, he bowed down to him, calling him by name his kinsman Mikhail Maksimovich. The fool remarked: "The One Only Creator knoweth of me, who I be", but confirmed that his name was Michael. The Monk Michael soon set example for the brethren in all the monastic efforts. He lived at the Klopsk monastery for 44 years, exhausting his body in work, vigils and various deprivations, and he received from the Lord the gift of perspicacity. He denounced the vices of people, not fearing the powerful of this world. He predicted the birth on 22 January 1440 of GreatPrince Ivan III (1462-1505), and the taking of Novgorod by him. He denounced prince Dimitrii Shemyaka for blinding his brother the GreatPrince Vasilii the Dark (1425-1462).
On a sandy spot the Monk Michael summoned forth a spring of water, having written upon the earth: "I shalt take up the cup of salvation (Ps. 115 : 13), let shew forth on this spot the well-spring". And during a time of famine, the supplies of bread at the monastery granary did not diminish, though they distributed grain abundantly to the hungry.
Having directed beforehand the place of his burial, the monk died on 11 January (+ c. 1453-1456).
The Monk Theodosios of Antioch in his early years left the rich home of his illustrious parents and entered upon the strait and arduous path of asceticism. He settled into a small cell on the shore of the Gulf of Isska, in the surroundings of the city of Ossos. The saint vexed his body with the making of poklons (prostrations) and by laying upon the bare ground; he wore an hairshirt and heavy iron chains. His hair grew out such, that it covered his feet. By continuous feats of fasting and prayer he conquered the fleshly and spiritual passions, he quieted his temper, drove away unclean thoughts; he toiled much, tilling his garden and occupying himself with the plaiting of rope. In his native land the Monk Theodosios founded a monastery (Skupela). He imparted to the monks a love for bodily toil and for spiritual deeds. The Monk Theodosios with especial solicitude had concern for strangers. The sublime life of the saint was known even far beyond the bounds of the monastery. Both Christians and pagans knew him. Seafarers in time of peril called out for help from the God "of Theodosios". It happened that from the mere name of the Monk Theodosios the waves of the sea were calmed. Brigands feared and respected him, and besought his prayers. Fleeing the praise of people, the saint settled near the village of Maraton, founding here the Maratoneia monastery. In it the great ascetic peacefully finished the days of his God-pleasing life (+ c. 412).
Sainted Theodosios, Hegumen of Athos, Metropolitan of Trapezund, was born in the village of Koritsa, near the Kastorian hills. At 18 years of age he accepted monasticism at Constantinople and set off to Athos, to the Philotheion monastery, in which he led a strict ascetic life. He was chosen hegumen of the monastery, and afterwards was made metropolitan of the Trapezund Church, and he died in the city of Trapezund in the XIV Century.
The Holy Martyress Tatiana was born into an illustrious Roman family -- her father was thrice elected consul. He was secretly a christian and raised his daughter devoted to God and the Church. Having reached the age of maturity, Tatiana did not enter into marriage but with all her strength devoted herself to the Church. She was made deaconess in one of the Roman churches and served God, in fasting and prayer tending the sick and helping the needy. By her righteousness Tatiana gained in future to be crowned with the crown of martyrdom.
When Rome came to be ruled by the sixteen year old Alexander Severus (222-235), all power was concentrated in the hands of the evil enemy and persecutor of christians Ulpian. Christian blood flowed like streams. Deaconess Tatiana was also arrested. When they brought her into the temple of Apollo so as to force her to offer sacrifice to the idol, the saint began praying -- and suddenly there occurred an earthquake -- the idol was smashed into pieces, and part of the temple collapsed and fell down on the pagan priests and many pagans. The demon inhabiting the idol ran out with an howl from that place, in front of which all saw it flying through the air like a ghost. They then began to beat the holy virgin about the eyes, but she bravely endured everything, praying for her tormentors that the Lord would open for them their spiritual eyes. And the Lord heard the prayer of His servant. The executioners came to see, that four Angels encircled the saint and fended off from the blows; they heard a Voice from the heavens addressed to the holy martyress. All of them, eight men, believed in Christ and fell on their knees to Saint Tatiana, begging them to forgive them their wrongs against her. For confessing themselves christians they were subjected to tortures and execution, receiving Baptism by blood. Saint Tatiana was again given over to tortures on another day: they uncovered her and beat her, they cut at her body with razors, and from her wounds then there permeated a fragrance in the air. The torturers became exhausted and said, that someone invisible was beating at them with iron staffs, and nine of them fell dead. They then threw the saint in prison, where she prayed all night and with the Angels sang praise to the Lord. A new morning began, and they again took Saint Tatiana to the court. The torturers beheld with astonishment that after such terrible torments she appeared completely healthy and even more radiant and beautiful than before. They began to urge her to offer sacrifice to the goddess Diana. The saint seemed to appear agreeable, and they took her to the heathen temple. Saint Tatiana made the sign of the cross and began to pray -- and suddenly there sounded a crash of deafening thunder, and lightning struck the idol, the sacrificial offerings and the pagan priests. They again fiercely tortured the martyress, and at night they again threw her in prison, and again there appeared Angels and healed her wounds. On the following day they took Saint Tatiana to the circus and let loose at her an hungry lion; the beast did not touch the saint but only lay meekly at her feet. They wanted to pen up the lion back in its cage, and here instead it clawed up one of the torturers. They threw Tatiana into a fire, but the fire did not harm the martyress. The pagans, thinking that she was a sorceress, cut her hair to deprive her of magical powers, and locked her up in the temple of Zeus. But it was impossible to take away the power of God. On the third day pagan priests came with an encircling throng, preparing to offer sacrifice. Opening the temple, they beheld the idol thrown down into the dust and the holy martyress Tatiana joyously invoking the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. All the instruments of torture were worn out, and they carried out a sentence of death: the valiant sufferer was beheaded with a sword. Also executed as a christian together with her was her father, for having shewn her the true faith of Christ.
Sainted Sava, first ArchBishop of Serbia, -- in the world Rostislav (Rastko), was a son of the Serbian autocrat Stefan Nemani and Anna, daughter of the Greek emperor Romanos. From his early years he fervently attended church services and fostered an especial love for icons. At seventeen years of age, having met a Russian monk from Holy Mount Athos, Rostislav secretly left his father's house and set off to the Russian Panteleimonov monastery. (By Divine Providence in the year of the saint's birth -- 1169 -- the ancient monastery of the great-martyr and healer Panteleimon was restored for eternal keeping to Russian monks.) Knowing that his son was on Athos, his father mobilised his retainers headed by a faithful voevoda and wrote to the governor of the district which included Athos, that if his son were not returned to him, he would go to war against the Greeks. Having arrived at the monastery, the voevoda / military-chief was ordered not to take his eyes off Rostislav. During the time of evening Divine-services, when the soldiers were fallen asleep under the influence of wine, Rostislav took monastic vows (the year 1186) and sent to his parents his worldly clothes, his hair and a letter. The monk Sava sought to persuade his powerful parents to accept monasticism. The monk's father (the commemoration of the Monk Stefan, in monasticism Simeon, Tsar of Serbia, is situated under 13 February) together with his son pursued asceticism at the Batopedeia monastery. On Athos they established the Serbian Khilendaria monastery, and this monastery received its name by imperial stauropegia / grant. At Khilendaria monastery, the monk Save was ordained to the deaconate and then presbyter. For his monastic deeds on Mount Athos, the monk was deemed worthy of the dignity of archimandrite at Soluneia / Thessalonika. At Niciea in the year 1219 on the feast of the Dormition / Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God, the OEcumenical Pattriarch Germanos ordained archimandrite Sava to the dignity of ArchBishop of All Serbia. For this the monk petitioned the Greek emperor for permission that the ArchBishop be consecrated by a Sobor of bishops in Serbia -- a very important consideration in this time of frequent wars between eastern and western powers. Having returned to the Holy Mountain from Nicea, the saint made the rounds of all the monasteries for the last time; he made prostration in all the churches and, calling to mind the blessed lives of the wilderness fathers, he made his farewells with the ascetics in deep remorse, "leaving from the Holy Mountain, as though from some Divine paradise". Dejected by his grievous separation from the Holy Mountain, the saint went along the path from Athos just barely moving. Only the words of the MostHoly Mother of God that had come to the saint in a dream -- "having My Patronage to the King of all, My Son and God, about what dost thou still sorrow?" -- these words roused him from despondency, changing sorrow into joy. In memory of this appearance, the saint commissioned at Soluneia large icons of the Saviour and of the Mother of God, and put them in the Church of the Philokalia.
In Serbia, the activity of the Hierarch in organising the work of his native Church was accompanied by numerous signs and miracles. During the time of Liturgy and the all-night vigil, when the saint came to cense over the grave of his father the monk Simeon, the holy relics exuded fragrant myrh.
Being in charge of negotiations with the Hungarian king Vladislav, who had declared war on Serbia, the glorious sainted bishop with heavenly signs not only brought about the desired peace for his country, he also brought the Hungarian monarch to Orthodoxy. Having secured a beginning for the historical existence of the autonomous Serbian Church, Saint Sava contributed also to the strengthening of the Serbian state. In order to insure the independence of the Serbian state, the holy archbishop Sava crowned his powerful brother Stefan as tsar. Upon the death of Stefan -- his eldest son Radislav having been crowned tsar, Saint Sava set off to the Holy Land "with tears to worship at the holy grave of Christ and fearsome Golgotha". Having returned to his native land, the saint gave his blessing and crowned Vladislav as tsar; to further strengthen the Serbian throne, he betrothed him with the daughter of the Bulgarian prince Asan. The holy hierarch made the rounds of all the Serbian land, he reformed monastic rules on the model of the athonites and palestinians, and he established and consecrated many churches, strengthening the Orthodox in their faith. Having finished his work in his native land, the saint appointed as his successor the priestmonk Arsenii, ordaining him bishop and giving his blessing to all. He then set off on a journey of no return, wanting "to end his days as a wanderer in a foreign land". He passed through all of Palestine, through Syria and Persia, Babylon, Egypt and Anatolia, everywhere visiting the holy places, conversing with great ascetics, and gathering up the priestly remains of saints. The saint finished his wanderings at Trnovo in Bulgaria at the home of his kinsman Tsar Asan, where with spiritual joy he offered up his soul to the Lord (+ 1237). At the time of transfer of the holy relics of Sainted Sava to Serbia in 1237 the healings were so numerous, that the Bulgarians began to complain about Asan, "that he had given up such a treasure". In the saint's own native country, his venerable relics were placed in the Church of Mileshevo, bestowing healing on all who approach with faith. The inhabitants of Trnovo continued to receive healing from the remnants of the grave of the saint, which pious Asan ordered to be gathered together and placed in a newly built sarcophagus.
The legacy of Sainted Sava lives on in the orthodox Church traditions of the Slavic nations. With his legacy is linked the first introduction of the Jerusalem Ustav to Slavic Monastic Rules: the Serbian Khilendaria monastery on Athos lives by the Typikon of Saint Sava to the present time. The redactions of the book "The Rudder" belonging to the Sainted Bishop -- with the commentaries of Alexis Aristines, are the most widely disseminated in the Russian Church. In the year 1270 the first copy of "The Rudder" of Saint Sava was sent from Bulgaria to the metropolitan of Kiev Kirill. From this was copied one of the most ancient of the Russian "Rudders" -- the Ryazansk "Rudder" of 1284. It in its turn was the source for a printed "Rudder" -- published in the year 1653 and invariably since that time republished in the Russian Church. Such was the legacy of Sainted Sava to the canonical treasury of Orthodoxy.
The Monk Martinian of Belozersk, in the world Michael, was born in the year 1370 in the village of Berezniko, not far from the Kirillov monastery. At age thirteen he left his parents and went secretly to the Monk Kirill of Belozersk (Comm. 9 June), about whom many had spoken of to him as being a great ascetic. The youthful Martinian began zealously to imitate his teacher, with whom he dwelt in complete obedience. At the monastery he studied reading and writing, and with the blessing of the monk Kirill, he became occupied with the copying of books. In time Martinian was ordained deacon and then priest-monk. After the death of the monk Kirill (+ 1427) blessed Martinian withdrew for silence to a deserted island, situated on Lake Vozha. Several monks gradually gathered around him. The monk Martinian established for them a church of the Transfiguration (Preobrazhenie) of the Lord and introduced a general ustav-rule for the inhabitants. Yielding to the persistent requests of the brethren of Ferapontov monastery, he consented to become hegumen of the monastery and brought it into a brighter condition.
The monk Martinian rendered spiritual support to great prince Vasilii Vasil'evich in the difficulties of his time, when his first-cousin Dimitrii Shemyaka illicitly pretended to the Moscow throne. He was always an advocate of truth and justice. Afterwards, upon the entreaty of the great prince, the monk accepted upon himself the governing of the monastery of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh.
In 1455 the monk Martinian again returned to the Ferapontov monastery. The last years of his life he was grievously ill and not able to walk, and the brethren carried him to church. The monk died at age 85. His relics were uncovered in the year 1514 -- and the commemoration of the uncovering is celebrated on 7 October.
The Martyr Mertius was a soldier. He suffered in Africa for the Name of Christ during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). The emperor demanded him to offer sacrifice to idols and, receiving refusal, gave him over to torture. The saint suffered fierce torments, not uttering even one moan. He was thrown into prison, where he died from hunger and wounds.
The Martyr Peter Abessalomites (Aneiakos) was a native of the village of Aneia in Palestine. During the time of a persecution against christians he was arrested and brought to the governor of Palestine. In vain did the judge and the people urge him to honour the pagan gods to escape torture. "I then truly shalt have mercy on myself, when I neither recant the Gospel nor offer sacrifice to idols", -- answered the saint, and he was burned at the stake.
In some mesyatseslavs / saints-lives his memory is inserted twice: 12 January as the martyr Peter Abessalomites, and 13 January -- as Peter Aneiakos, since it was mistakenly assumed that these were different persons.
The Nun Eupraxia of Tabenyssa (Tabeneia the Older), was the mother of the Nun Eupraxia, maiden of Tabenyssa (Comm. 25 July). She was the spouse of the pious senator Antigones, who was connected by birth with the emperor Theodosius the great (379-395). Becoming widowed, Saint Eupraxia devoted herself completely to the service of the lord. Having made the rounds of many monastic establishments and having left liberal alms, she came to the Tabenyssa monastery, where the hegumeness was the nun Theodoula, known for her strict rule. Deeply moved by the pure way of convent life, Saint Eupraxia came often to this monastery and always brought her daughter with her, who was then eight years old. The virtues and prayers of her parents summoned a particular grace of god upon the maiden, and even from her youthful years she desired to dedicate herself to God. To her mother's great joy, hegumeness Theodoula kept the child Eupraxia at the convent and gave blessing for her to take monastic vows.
The nun Eupraxia carried on works of liberal charity, and increased her fasting and prayer. Hegumeness Theodoula, possessing the gift of perspicacity, told her about her impending end. Knowing about the nearness of her demise, the nun Eupraxia gave thanks to the Lord for His great mercy towards her. She made her farewell with the sisters of the convent and with her daughter, giving her the parting last words: "Love the Lord Jesus with intense reverence; respect the sisters; never dare to think, that they are below thee and should serve thee; be poor in thy thoughts so as to profit by spiritual treasures". After three days the saint offered up her soul to the Lord (+ 393) and was buried at the convent, where her daughter continued her arduous ascetic deeds.
The Monk Galaktion of Belozersk was a student and cell-attendant of the monk Martinian of Belozersk and lived together with his mentor at the Ferapontov monastery.
The monk Galaktion cared with a filial love for the aged Abba Martinian. When his preceptor became completely infirm of body, the monk Galaktion took him to church on his shoulders. Beholding the spiritual maturity of his student, the monk Marinian blessed the monk Galaktion in his spiritual deed of folly. By his secret ascetic deeds blessed Galaktion reached high spiritual perfection, and obtained the grace of perspicacity. He foretold, that Kazan would be conquered by tsar Ivan, who was not yet even born. He foresaw his own end and the end of several of his fellow ascetics, and he also spoke of the fires and other disasters awaiting Ferapontov monastery. Blessed Galaktion died in the year 1506 and was buried at the foot of his teacher, the monk Martinian, at Ferapontov monastery.
The Holy Martyrs Ermil and Stratonik, by origin Slavs, lived at the beginning of the IV Century during the time of persecution against Christians by the emperor Licinius (307-324). They were friends. Saint Ermil served as deacon in the city of Singedonum (Belgrade). Condemned by Licinius to imprisonment, he was long and cruelly tortured for the Name of Christ, but he remained unyielding. Saint Stratonik was a superintendent of the prison and a secret christian. Seeing the agonising torments of his friend, he was not able to keep from weeping, and he revealed that he was a christian. They subjected him also to torture. After the torturing, they put the martyrs into a net and threw them into the Danube/Dunai. On the third day, the bodies of the saints were discovered on the bank of the river by christians and buried near Singedonum. Their venerable heads are located in the Church of Saint Sophia, where the Russian pilgrim Antonii saw them in the year 1200.
The Monk Irinarch, Hermit of Rostov, was born into a peasant family in the village of Kondakovo in the Rostov district. In Baptism he received the name Ilia. During his 30th year of life took monastic vows at the Rostov Borisoglebsk monastery. There he began fervently to labour at monastic tasks, he attended church services, and by night he prayed and slept on the ground. Once, taking pity on a vagrant who did not have shoes, Saint Irinarch gave him his own boots and from that time he began to go barefoot through the frost. The hegumen did not fancy such an ascetic behaviour, and he began to humiliate him, compelling him to stand for an hour or nearly two on the frost opposite his cell, or to ring the bells for a long time. The saint endured everything with patience but he did not change his conduct. The hegumen continued to be hard-hearted, and the monk was obliged to transfer to the Abramiev Theophany monastery, where he was accepted into the number of the brethren and he was soon chosen as steward. The monk fulfilled his monastic obediences with zeal, but grieved that the monastic brethren and servants did not look after the property of the monastery, wasting it without measure. One time in a dream he saw the Monk Abraham of Rostov (Comm. 29 October), who comforted him and gave him blessing to distribute necessities to all without consternation. Later, during a time of the singing of the Cherubimic hymn, the monk Irinarch sobbed out loudly. To the question of the archimandrite he answered: "My mother has died!"
Leaving Abramiev monastery, the monk Irinarch transferred to the Rostov monastery of Saint Lazarus, settled into a solitary cell and dwelt in it for three years in privation and hunger. Here he was visited by Blessed John the Fool, nicknamed the Big Simpleton. The saints encouraged each other by spiritual conversation. The starets / elder, however, had a desire to return to his original monastery -- the Borisogleb monastery. He was accepted back with love by the strict Varlaam and he began even more severely to practise ascetic deeds at the monastery. Having withdrawn into solitude, the monk chained himself with iron chains to a wooden chair, and he placed on himself heavy chains and crosses. For this he endured the mockery and sneers of the monastic brethren. During this time he was visited by his old friend, Blessed John the Fool, predicting the Lithuanian invasion upon Moscow. The Monk Irinarch spent 25 years shackled in chains and fetters at arduous tasks. His ascetic deeds accused those living carelessly at the monastery, and they made up lies to the hegumen, that the starets taught that they should not go to monastic work but rather pursue asceticism like him. The hegumen believed the slander and he banished the holy starets from the monastery. Humbly submitting, the Monk Irinarch again went to Rostov and dwelt in the monastery of Saint Lazarus for one year. Meanwhile the Borisoglebsk hegumen regretted his conduct and sent monks after the monk Irinarch. He returned, blaming himself, that he did not live such as the brethren who underwent righteous work, of which he was lacking. The monk continued to bear his own heavy fetters, and working, he made clothes for the needy, and he knitted hairshirts and klobuks. He slept at night for an hour or two, the remaining time he prayed and beat his body with an iron cane.
Saint Irinarch had a vision that Lithuania would invade Moscow, and that churches there would be destroyed. He began to weep bitterly about the impending disaster, and the hegumen ordered him to go to Moscow and warn tsar Vasilii Ioannovich Shuisky (1606-1610) about the terrible misfortune. The Monk Irinarch carried out the order. He refused the gifts offered him and having returned, he began to pray fervently, that the Lord would show mercy on the Russian land.
Enemies appeared against Russia, they began the conquest of the city, beat up the inhabitants, and robbed churches and monasteries. The False-Dimitrii and a second Pretender sought to conquer Russia for the Polish king. Borisogleb monastery was also overrun by the enemy, who came to the holy hermit and were amazed at the direct and bold talk of the elder, predicting catastrophe for them.
Sapega, remaining at the Borisogleb monastery, wanted to see the elder sitting in chains, and he was amazed at such an ascetic exploit. When the Polish nobles in company with Sapega told him, that the elder prayed for Shuisky, the monk boldly said: "I am born and baptised in Russia, and for the Russian tsar I pray to God". Sapega answered: "The truth in granddad there is great -- in what land one lives, that land also one serves". After this the monk Irinarch began to urge Sapega to leave Russia, predicting death for him otherwise.
The Monk Irinarch paid attention to the course of the war and sent his blessings and a prosphora to prince Dimitrii Pozharsky. He gave an order for him to come nigh Moscow, predicting: "Ye shall see the glory of God". To assist Pozharsky and Minin the monk handed over his cross. With the help of god the Russians vanquished the Lithuanians, prince Pozharsky took possession of the Kremlin, and in the Russian land peace gradually began to return. Starets Irinarch as before incessantly prayed God with tears for the deliverance of Rus' from enemies and, possessing the power to work miracles, he healed the sick and demoniacs.
The day of his death was revealed to him, and summoning his students Alexander and Kornilii he gave them his instructions, After taking leave from all he quietly expired to the Lord into eternal peace (+ 13 January 1616). The holy elder left behind 142 copper crosses, seven shoulder chains, chains in length 20 sazhen which he carried on his neck, iron foot shackles, eighteen hand fetters, "bonds" which he wore on his belt, by weight in poods, and iron canes by which he thrashed his body to drive away demons. In these works, as the elder called them, he spent 38 years, and having lived in the world for 30 years, he died in his 68th year from birth. After the death of the Monk Irinarch many miracles occurred at his grave, especially the healing of the sick and the demoniac by the laying upon them of the crosses and chains of the saintly ascetic.
The Monk Eleazar of Anzersk was born in the city of Kozel'sk into the merchant family Sevriukin. With the blessing of his parents he went off to the Solovetsk monastery, where he took monastic vows from the hegumen Saint Irinarch (+ 1628, Comm. 17 July). At the monastery he displayed an astonishing artistic gift: he learned carving imagery on wood and he took part of the embellishing of the Transfiguration cathedral. With the blessing of the hegumen, he went off in 1612 to the island of Anzersk, where he became an hermit and dwelt constantly in prayer and meditation on God. In order to obtain subsistence for himself on the island wilderness, the Monk Eleazar carved wooden goblets, which he left at the landing place. In the year 1616 the Monk Eleazar was elevated to schema-monk. Monastics, having gathered round the monk, organised a skete with a strict rule of monastic life along the ancient form. Monastic cells were built far away from one another. The hermits gathered together only for Saturday and Sunday Divine-services. Among the disciples of the Monk Eleazar was the priest-monk Nikita -- the future Patriarch Nikon. Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich (1613-1645), learning about the ascetic life of the saint, summoned him to Moscow. The Monk Eleazar there predicted for him the birth of a son, and in return the tsar generously gave him help to build on the island a stone church in the Name of the Holy Trinity and a monastery. The Monk Eleazar was interested in the writing of books. He composed and copied out three books -- "Flower-beds", in which he relates ancient accounts. There belongs to him also a commentary on the order of the rule on monastic cell life. The Monk Eleazar died in extreme old age.
The Monk James, Bishop of Niziba, was the son of prince Gefal' (Armenia) and received a fine upbringing. From the time of his youth he loved solitude, and for a long time he lived in the mountains around about the city of Niziba (on the border of the Persian and Roman empires), where he carried out strict ascetic exploits: he lived under the open sky, fed himself with tree fruits and greens, and dressed himself in goat-skins. The monk passed all this time in prayerful conversations with God. During a persecution by the emperor Maximian (305-311) he was glorified by a courageous confession of faith. Because of his strict and pious life the inhabitants of Niziba chose him as their bishop (not later than the year 314). Saint James was glorified by his ardent zeal for the Orthodox faith, by great miracles and by the gift of perspicacity. By his prayers Niziba was saved from an invasion by Sapor, the emperor of Persia. Saint James, amongst the fathers of the I OEcumenical Council, was one of the prominent defenders of the Orthodox faith. A wise and educated pastor, he constructed at Niziba a public school, in which he himself was an instructor. He made a strong impression on the hearts of his listeners by the high morality of his life. Sainted Gregory, bishop of great Armenia, turned to him with a request to write about the faith, and the Nizibite pastor sent to him by way of reply a detailed Discourse (18 Chapters): about the faith, about love, fasting, prayer, spiritual warfare, the resurrection of the dead, the duties of pastors, about circumcision against the Jews, about the choice of foods, about Christ as the Son of God, and so on. His composition distinguishes itself by its persuasive clear exposition and warmth.
Saint James died peacefully in about the year 350.
The Monk Maximos Kausokalibites was educated at the church of the MostHoly Mother of God at Lampsakos. At seventeen years of age he left his parental home, accepted monasticism and passed his obedience under the finest spiritual instructor in Macedonia -- the starets Mark. Upon the death of his instructor, the monk pursued asceticism under the guidance of several desert fathers of extremely strict life. Having arrived in Constantinople, the Monk Maximos was constantly at the Blakhernai church of the MostHoly Mother of God, as though he had taken up his abode at the entrance. In order to conceal his ascetic deeds of fasting and prayer, and to avoid celebrity, the monk conducted himself like a fool. On Athos the Monk Maximos fulfilled his obedience in the Lavra of the Monk Athanasias, and on the summit of the Holy Mountain he was deigned a vision of the Mother of God. The Monk Maximos told about his vision to a certain elder, pursuing asceticism by the church of the holy Prophet of God Elias at Carmel, who declared the monk fascinating. But this disbelief also the monk turned to good, under the appearance of vanity and pride having concealed his prodigious ascetic deeds, and privation, wandering hardship and solitude. For the greater disdain through common gossip about his being a fool, the Monk Maximos did not establish a settled abode, rather he wandered from place to place like a lunatic, having burned his hut -- a grass shelter (kausokalibit' -- signifies "hut-burner"). Those of the Holy Mountain, knowing about the extreme deprivations and sorrows of the Monk Maximos, for a long time regarded him with contempt, even then when the monk had attained the heights and perfections of contemplative life. When the Monk Gregory of Sinai (+ c. 1310, Comm. 8 August) arrived on Athos, having spent his life in mental prayer, he encountered the pretendingly distracted one, and striking up a conversation with him, he began to call him nothing other than an earthly angel. The Monk Gregory persuadingly besought Saint Maximos to leave off from the aspect of fool and to take up an abode in one place, so that others might learn from his spiritual experience. Heeding the words of Saint Gregory and the advice of other elders, the monk selected for himself a permanent dwelling in a cave nearby the reknown elder Isaiah. Knowing about his gift of perspicacity, the Byzantine emperors John Paleologos (1341-1376) and John Kantakeuzenos (1341-1355) visited the monk and were surprised by the fulfilling of his predictions. The hegumen of Batopedeia monastery, Theophanes, wrote about the Monk Maximos: "I invoke God in witness, that I was an eyewitness to several of his miracles: once, for instance, I saw him going through the air from one place to another; I listened, as the monk forecast a prediction concerning me, that first I would be an hegumen, and then Metropolitan of Okhrid; he even revealed to me about my sufferings for the Church". Just only before his death did Saint Maximos abandon his solitude, and settle near the Lavra of the Monk Athanasias, where he offered up his soul to the Lord at 95 years of age (+ 1354). Just as during life, so also in death the Monk Maximos was glorified by many miracles.
The Monastic Fathers, Murdered at Sinai and Raipha, asceticised at the monasteries and caves of Mount Sinai, where previously the Ten Commandments had been given through Moses; near to it also was the Raipha monastic wilderness (on the shores of the Red Sea). They suffered under the Saracens and under nomadic brigands from among the Arab tribes. The first massacre occurred in about the year 312. It was recorded by Ammon, an Egyptian monk, who witnessed the murder of the 40 holy fathers in Sinai. During this time the Arabs also killed 39 fathers at Raipha. The second period of the massacres occurred nearly an hundred years later, and was likewise recorded by an eye-witness who himself in the process miraculously escaped -- the Monk Nilos the Faster (Comm. 12 November).
The Sinai and Raipha ascetics lived a particularly strict lifestyle: they spent the whole week in their cells at prayer, on Saturday they gathered for the all-night vigil, and on Sunday they communed the Holy Mysteries. Their only food was dates and water. Many of the wilderness ascetics were glorified by wonderworking -- the elders Moses, Joseph and others. By name, remembered in the service to these monastic fathers are commemorated: Isaiah, Sava, Moses and his student Moses, Jeremiah, Paul, Adam, Sergios, Domnos, Proklos, Ipatios, Isaac, Makarios, Mark, Benjamin, Eusebios and Elias.
Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Nina, Enlightener of Gruzia (Georgia), was born in about the year 280 in the city of Kolastra in Cappadocia, where many of the Gruzian people had gathered. Her father Zabulon happened to be a kinsman to the holy GreatMartyr George (Comm. 23 April). He was descended of illustrious lineage and of pious parentage, and he stood in good favour with the emperor, Maximian (284-305). Zabulon, a Christian, served in the military under the emperor, and he took part in the setting free of Christian captives from Gaul (modern France). Saint Nina's mother, Susanna, was a sister of the Jerusalem Patriarch (some suggest named Juvenalios).
At twelve years of age Saint Nina went to Jerusalem together with her parents, who had but only this one daughter. By their mutual consent and with the blessing of the Jerusalem Patriarch, Zabulon devoted his life to the service of God at the Jordan, and Susanna was made deaconness in the church of the Sepulchre of the Lord. The upbringing of Saint Nina was entrusted to the pious woman-elder, Nianphora. Saint Nina displayed diligence and obedience over the space of two years: with the help of the grace of God, she got into the firm habit of fulfilling the rule of faith and she read the Holy Scripture zealously.
One time, while in tears reliving the experience of the Gospel passages describing the Crucifixion of Christ the Saviour, the thought would not leave her mind over the fate of the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord (Jn. 19: 23-24). To the questioning of Saint Nina as to where the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord had gone (the account about it may be found under 1 October), the woman-elder Nianphora declared that the undecayed Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord, by tradition, had been carried off by the Mtskheta rabbi Eleazar and taken with him back to a place named Iveria (Gruzia or Georgia), and called the Appanage (i.e. the "allotted portion") of the Mother of God. The All-Pure Virgin Herself during Her earthly lifetime had received the Apostolic allotment for the enlightening of Gruzia, but an Angel of the Lord in appearing to Her foretold, that Gruzia would become Her earthly appanage only afterwards upon Her Repose, and that the Providence of God had prepared for Her Apostolic service too at Athos (likewise called the Appanage of the Mother of God).
And learning further from the woman-elder Nianphora, that Gruzia had not then yet been enlightened by the light of Christianity, Saint Nina both day and night in prayer besought the MostHoly Mother of God, that She might grant her to see Gruzia converted to Christ, and indeed too might enable her to find the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord.
The Queen of Heaven heard the prayer of the young righteous one. One time, when Saint Nina was taking rest after long prayer, the All-Pure Virgin appeared to her in a dream, and entrusting her a cross plaited together of vineyard sprigs, She said: "Take thou this cross, for it wilt be for thee a shield and protection against all enemies both visible and invisible. Go thou to the land of Iveria, proclaim there the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and spread forth His grace: and I wilt be thine Protectress".
Awakening, Saint Nina saw in her hand the cross (now preserved in a special reliquary in the Tbilisi Zion cathedral church). Rejoicing in spirit, she went to her uncle, the Jerusalem Patriarch, and told him about her vision. The Jerusalem Patriarch thereupon blessed the young virgin in her deed of Apostolic service.
On the way to Gruzia, Saint Nina in miraculous manner escaped a martyr's death under the Armenian emperor Tiridates, which however befell her companions -- the emperor's daughter Ripsimia, her guide Gaiania and 35 virgins (Comm. 30 September), who had fled to Armenia from Rome to escape persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Bolstered in spirit by visions of an Angel of the Lord, appearing the first time holding a incenser, and the second time a scroll in hand, Saint Nina continued on her way and appeared in Gruzia in the year 319. News about her soon spread through the surroundings of Mtskheta, where she asceticised, with numerous signs accompanying her preaching. Thus on the day of the MostGlorious Transfiguration of the Lord, during the time of a pagan sacrificial offering made by pagan priests in the presence of the emperor Mirian and a multitude of the people, through the prayers of Saint Nina were toppled down from an high mountain the idols -- Armaz, Gatsi and Gaim. This apparition was accompanied by a strong storm.
Having entered Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Gruzia, Saint Nina found shelter in the household of a childless imperial official, the wife of whom -- Anastasia, was delivered from her infertility through the prayers of Saint Nina, and she came to believe in Christ.
Saint Nina healed from grievous infirmity the Gruzinian empress Nana, who upon accepting holy Baptism, ceased with her idol-worship and became instead a zealous Christian (Comm. 1 October). In spite of the miraculous healing of his wife, the emperor Mirian (265-342), in heeding the complaints of the pagans, made ready to subject Saint Nina to fierce tortures. "At that very moment, when they did contrive execution for the holy righteous one, the sun darkened and an impenetrable mist covered the place where the emperor was". The emperor suddenly fell blind, and seized by terror his retainers began to beseech their pagan idols for a return of the light of day. "But Armaz, Gaim and Gatsi were deaf, and the darkness did intensify. Then with one voice the terrified cried out to God, Whom Nina did preach. Instantly the darkness dissipated, and the sun shone in all its radiance". This event occurred on 6 May in the year 319.
Emperor Mirian, healed from his blindness by Saint Nina, accepted holy Baptism together with all his retainers. Over the course of several years, by 324 Christianity had ultimately consolidated itself in Gruzia.
The chronicles relate, that through her prayers it was revealed to Saint Nina, where the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord was hid. And at this place was built the first Christian temple in Gruzia (at first a wooden church, but now the stone cathedral, in honour of the Twelve Holy Apostles, the "Svetitskhoveli").
During this period at the request of the emperor Mirian, with the assist of the Byzantine emperor Saint Constantine (306-337), there was dispatched to Gruzia the Antioch bishop Eustathios, with two priests and three deacons. Christianity took an definite hold upon the land. The mountain regions of Gruzia however remained without enlightenment. In the company of the presbyter James and one of the deacons, Saint Nina set off to the upper regions of the Aragva and Iori Rivers, where she preached the Gospel to the pagan hill-people. Many of them came to believe in Christ and accepted holy Baptism. From thence Saint Nina proceeded to Kakhetia (Eastern Gruzia) and settled in the village of Bodbe, in a small tent aside a mountain. Here she led an ascetic life, dwelling in constant prayer, and converting to Christ the surrounding inhabitants. Amidst all these was the empress of Kakhetia, named Sodzha (Sophia), who accepted Baptism with all her court and a multitude of the people.
Having completed her Apostolic service in Gruzia, Saint Nina perceived from above about her impending end. In a letter to the emperor Mirian, she requested him to send bishop John, so that he might prepare her for her final journey. But it was not only bishop John that came, but also the emperor together with all the clergy set off to Bodbe, where at the deathbed of Saint Nina were occurrences of many an healing. For the edification of the people that had come, and at the request of her students, Saint Nina told about her origin and life. This narration, written down by Solomia of Udzharm, has served as the basis of the Vita of Saint Nina.
Reverently having communed the Holy Mysteries, Saint Nina gave final instructions that her body be buried at Bodbe, and then she peacefully expired to the Lord in the year 335 (according to other sources, it was in the year 347, at 67 years of age, after 35 years of Apostolic works).
The emperor, together with the clergy and the people -- grieving over the death of Saint Nina, wanted to transfer her remains to the Mtskheta cathedral church, but they were not able to remove the coffin of the ascetic from her chosen place of rest. And on this place in the year 342 emperor Mirian started with the foundations, and his son the emperor Bakur (342-364) completed and dedicated the church in the name of Saint Nina's kinsman, the holy GreatMartyr George. Later on at this place was founded a women's monastery in the name of Saint Nina. The relics of the saint, at her command concealed beneathe a crypt, were glorified by many miracles and healings. The Gruzian (Georgian) Orthodox Church, with the assent of the Antioch Patriarchate, designated Saint Nina the Enlightener of Gruzia as in rank Equal-to-the-Apostles, and having enumerated her to the rank of the Saints, established her memory under 14 January, on the day of her blessed end.
The Monk Joseph the Analytic of Raipha, a strict ascetic, attained to an high degree of perfection in the spiritual life, such that during the time of prayer a flame shone upon him. He foretold the time of his death to his disciple Gelasios, and he died peacefully, before the slaughter of the Sinai fathers.
The Monk Theodoulos was the son of the Monk Nilos the Faster (Comm. 12 November), and he recorded the slaughter of the holy fathers at Raipha in the V Century. While still a lad, the Monk Theodoulos withdrew to Mount Sinai together with his father, leaving behind the world. During the time of the assault of the barbarians against the wilderness dwellers the monk fell into the hands of brigands, who decided to offer the youth in sacrifice to the morning dawn, which they worshipped in place of God. But the Lord saved the lad through the fervent prayer of his father, the Monk Nilos: the barbarians overslept the moment of sunrise, and having given up on making of him a sacrificial offering, they carried off the youth with them. Brought by the brigands to the city of Eluza, the Monk Theodoulos was ransomed by the local bishop, in the house of whom he was later found by his thankful father. Blessed by the bishop and presbyters, the Monks Theodoulos and Nilos returned to Mount Sinai, where they served the Lord til the end of their days. Their incorrupt remains were transferred to Tsargrad (Constantinople) under the emperor Justin the Younger (565-578) and placed in the church named for the holy Apostles at Orphanotropheia.
The Monk Stephen lived during the VIII Century. Impressed by the lives of the great ascetics, he made the rounds of many a monastery in Palestine, and in the wilderness visited also the great fathers -- Euthymios the Great (Comm. 20 January), Sava the Sanctified (Comm. 5 December) and Theodosios the Great (Comm. 11 January). Tonsured into monasticism, the Monk Stephen founded his own monastery in Bithynia, near Mount Oxos nigh unto Chalcedon. At the monastery, which was called "khenolakkos" ("by the goose-pond"), many monks gathered.
The holy ascetic foresaw his own end, and certain of the brethren were granted to behold his glorious departure with the Angels unto the regions on high.
The Monk Paul of Thebes was born in Egypt, in the Thebaid city. Left orphaned, he suffered many things from a greedy kinsman over a parental inheritance. During the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Decius (249-251), Saint Paul learned of the insidious plan to deliver him into the hands of the persecutors, and so he fled the city and set out into the wilderness.
Settling into a cave at the bottom of an hill, and known there to no one, the Monk Paul dwelt in it for 91 years, praying incessantly to God both day and night. He sustained himself on dates and bread, which a raven brought him, and he sheltered himself from cold and frost with a garb made of palm leaves. Through the foresight of God, shortly before the end of the Monk Paul, the Lord revealed about him to the Monk Anthony the Great (Comm. 17 January), who also asceticised in the Thebaid wilderness. One time a thought came to Saint Anthony, that scarcely was there another so great a wilderness dweller as he, and then he heard a voice: "Anthony, there is a servant of God more accomplished than thee, and he hath settled here in this wilderness before thee. Go further into the remote area and there find him". Anthony went and came to the cave of Saint Paul. A lesson in humility having been taught Anthony, the Monk Paul came out towards him. The elders greeted each other by name, and having hugged they entered into lengthy discussion. During the time of the conversation the raven flew by and brought them both bread. The Monk Paul disclosed to Saint Anthony that his end time was approaching and gave him instruction to bury him. The Monk Paul then expired during the time of prayer, upright on his knees. The Monk Anthony then beheld, how his soul, amidst Angels and prophets and apostles, ascended up to God. Two lions ran out from the wilderness and with their claws dug out the grave. The Monk Anthony buried the holy elder, and having taken his garb of palm leaves, he set out to his own monastery. The Monk Anthony kept this garb as a great holy reminder and put it out only twice a year -- on Pascha and Pentecost. The Monk Paul of Thebes died in the year 341, when he was 113 years old. He did not establish a single monastery, but soon after his end there appeared many imitators of his life and they filled the wilderness with monasteries. The Monk Paul is considered a father of Orthodox monasticism.
In the XII Century the body of Saint Paul, on orders of the emperor Manuel (1143-1180), was transferred to Constantinople and placed in the Peribleptoi monastery of the Mother of God. Afterwards it was taken to Venice, and finally to Hungary, at Ofa. Part of his head is situated in Rome.
The Monk John the Tent-Dweller was the son of rich and illustrious parents living in Constantinople during the V Century, and he received a fine education. He loved to read spiritual books, and having perceived the vanity of secular life, he preferred "rather than the broad path one that was narrow and infirm and extremely rigorous". Having persuaded his parents to give him a Gospel, he set out secretly to Bithynia. At the monastery "Unceasing Vigilance" he received monastic tonsure. The young monk began to asceticise with zeal, astonishing his brethren with unceasing prayer, humble obedience, strict abstinence and perseverance at work.
After six years he began to undergo temptations: thoughts about his parents, about their love and fondness, about their sorrow -- all this began to overtake the young ascetic.
Saint John disclosed his situation to the hegumen and he asked to be released from the monastery, and he besought the brethren not to forget him in their prayers, hoping that by their prayers he would with the help of God, both see his parents and overcome the snares of the devil. The hegumen gave him his blessing.
Saint John returned to Constantinople in the clothes of a beggar, and known to no one. He settled at the gates of his parental home. The parents sent him food from their table, for the sake of Christ. For three years, oppressed and insulted, he lived in a tent (hut), enduring cold and frost, unceasingly conversing with the Lord and the holy Angels. Always with him was the Gospel, given him by his parents, and from which he unceasingly gathered out sayings of life eternal. Before his death the Lord appeared in a vision to the monk, revealing that the end of his sorrows was approaching and that after three days he would be taken up into the Heavenly Kingdom.
Only then did the saint show his parents the Gospel, which they had given him shortly before he had left his parental home. The parents recognised their son. With tears of joy they hugged him simultaneously with tears of sorrow, in that he had endured privation for so long at the very gates of his parental home. Saint John gave final instructions to his parents to bury him on the spot where stood his tent, and to put in the grave the beggar's rags that he wore during life.
The saint died in the mid V Century, when he was not yet 25 years of age. On the place of his burial the parents built a church to God and alongside it an house of hospitality for strangers. In the XII Century the head of the saint was taken by Crusaders to Besacon (in France), and the other relics of the saint were taken to Rome.
The Monk Varlaam of Keretsk served during the XVI Century as a priest in the Keretsk area of the Kol'sk peninsula on the White Sea. He was venerated as the patron of White Sea industrial workers and sea-farers. He was glorified by posthumous miracles, saving the drowning.
The MonkMartyr Pansophias, was a son of the Alexandrian proconsul Nilos. After the death of his father he distributed his inheritance to the poor and settled in the wilderness, where he asceticised for 27 years. During the time of the persecution by Decius (249-251) the Monk Pansophias was brought to trial to the prefect of Alexandria. The monk boldly confessed his faith in Christ and denounced pagan errors, for which he was fiercely beaten with canes, and he died from these beatings, receiving therein a martyr's crown (249-251).
The Monk Prokhor of Pshinsk pursued asceticism in the Bransk wilderness at the River Pshina, and he founded there a monastery. He is reknown as one of the most strict ascetics of monastic life. He died at the end of the X Century. From the relics of the monk occurred miracles. According to the Serbian Chronicles, the pious king Miliutin (1276-1320) built a church in the name of the Monk Prokhor.
The Monk Gabriel, founder of the Lesnovsk monastery near the city of Kratov, having received after the death of his parents a large inheritance, rejected marriage and went out onto the Lesnovsk mountain and became a monk. And there he built a church in the name of the Archangel Michael, and having gathered many monks and established for it an hegumen, he left to the monastery all his inheritance. He then hid himself away in a mine cave, where he asceticised for a period of thirty years, conquering demonic temptations by prayer and fasting. He then returned to the Lesnovsk monastery and there peacefully reposed. After thirty years his relics were uncovered, and healings worked through them. A long while later they were transferred to Ternovo (Tirnova) in Bulgaria.
On the orders of Herod Agrippa, in about the year 42 the Apostle Peter was thrown into prison for preaching about Christ the Saviour. In prison he was held secure by two iron chains. By night, on the eve of his trial, an Angel of the Lord removed these chains from the Apostle Peter and miraculously led him out from the prison (Acts 12: 1-11). Christians who learned of the miracle took the chains and kept them as precious keepsakes. Those afflicted with illness and approaching them with faith received healing. The Chains of the holy Apostle Peter were kept at Jerusalem until the time of Patriarch Juvenalios, who presented them to Eudocia, spouse of the emperor Theodosius the Younger, and she in turn transferred them from Jerusalem to Constantinople in either the year 437 or 439. Eudocia sent one Chain to Rome to her daughter Eudoxia, who built a church in the name of the Apostle Peter and put within it the Chain. At Rome were also other Chains, in which the Apostle Peter found himself before his death under the emperor Nero.
On 16 January the Chains of the Apostle Peter are brought out for veneration by the people.
The Holy Martyrs Speusippos, Eleusippos, Meleusippos, and their grandmother Leonilla together with Neonos, Turbonos and Jovilla suffered in Galilee (by another account, in Cappadocia) in the Second Century, during the time of the persecution under Marcus Aurelius (161-180). Leonilla received Baptism in her declining years from one of the disciples of Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, and she afterwards converted to Christ her three grandchildren. The brothers, out of their enthusiasm for the Lord, pulled down idols and reproached the pagans for their folly. The torturers, leading Leonilla to the place of execution, ordered her to say to her grandchildren that they should renounce Christ, but she in passing by them praised them for their bravery and their firm confession of faith. Then the martyrs were thrown into a fire, but it did not harm them. After the torturing and death of her grandchildren, Saint Leonilla was beheaded by the sword. Together with her suffered also Saint Jovilla. She beheld the unflinching faith of the holy martyrs and confessed herself a Christian, leaving behind an husband and young son. The torturers, having hung her up by the hair, lacerated her body and beheaded her. Saint Neonos beheld the exploits of the holy brothers, and having recorded their sufferings, gave his manuscript to Turbonos, and he openly confessed himself a Christian, for which he was fiercely beaten and died from his beating. Saint Turbonos, having copied out the exploits of the passion-bearers, also ended his life by martyrdom. These martyrs are particularly revered in Spain, where many churches are dedicated to them. The relics of the holy martyrs were given by the Greek emperor Zenon to France, in the city of Langre.
Righteous Maxim, Priest of Tot'ma, was for a certain time priest in the city of Tot'ma in Vologda diocese. Over the course of forty years he made the harsh exploit of fool-for-Christ, constantly in fasting and in prayer. Blessed Maxim died in extreme old age on 16 January 1650 and was buried at the Resurrection church, in which he served. The local veneration of the saint began in 1715, in connection with numerous miracles occurring at his grave.
The Holy Martyr Danaktos lived during the II Century and served as reader at a church in the locale of Auleneia in Macedonia. During the time of an incursion by non-believers the saint took the church vessels and intended to hide them, but he was seized by soldiers. Refusing to worship an idol, he was beheaded by the sword.
The PriestMartyr Damaskin the New was born in the village of Gabrovo of Tirnovo diocese. As an adult, he left his fatherland and withdrew to Athos. He accepted monasticism there at the Khilendaria monastery, at which he later became hegumen. On needs of the monastery Saint Damaskin journeyed to Bulgaria, to the settlement of Sistovo. In fulfilling the entrusted task, he requested of Turks a repayment of debt, but not only did the Turks not repay the debt, they seized from the saint everything he had. Afterwards they charged him with abducting a woman (they brought her secretly to the gaol to him). Despite the defense of the ruler of the settlement, the Turks took Saint Damaskin to the gallows and gave him a choice to accept Mussulmanism. Not receiving agreement from the saint, the Turks hung him on 16 January 1771. The wrath of God did not hesitate to overtake the evil-doers, for in crossing the Danube River, the executioners drowned.
The Monk Anthony, a very great ascetic, the founder of wilderness-monastery life and as such the father of monasticism, is entitled "the Great" by Holy Church. He was born in Egypt in the village of Coma, near the Thebaid wilderness, in the year 251. His parents were pious Christians of illustrious lineage. From his youth Anthony was always serious and given over to concentration. He loved to visit church services and he hearkened to the Holy Scripture with such deep attention, that he remembered what he heard all his entire life. The commandments of the Lord guided him from the time of his very youth. When Saint Anthony was about twenty years old, he lost his parents, but in his care remained his sister, a minor in age. Visiting the church services, the youth was pierced through by a reverent feeling towards those Christians who, as it relates in the Acts of the Apostles, sold off their possessions and the proceeds thereof they applied in following after the Apostles. He heard in church the Gospel passage of Christ, spoken to the rich young man: "If thou wouldst be perfect, sell what thou hast and give it to the poor; and thou wilt have treasure in heaven; and come follow after Me" (Mt. 19: 21). Anthony understood this as spoken to him personally. He sold off his property that remained to him after the death of his parents, he distributed the money to the poor, he left his sister in the care of pious virgins in a monastic setting, he left his parental home, and having settled not far from his village in a wretched hut, he began his ascetic life. He earned his livelihood by working with his hands, and alms also for the poor. Sometimes the holy youth also visited other ascetics living in the surrounding areas, and from each he sought to receive direction and benefit. And to a particular one of these ascetics he turned for guidance in the spiritual life.
In this period of his life the Monk Anthony was subjected to terrible temptations by the devil. The enemy of the race of man troubled the young ascetic with thoughts, and with doubts about his chosen path, with anguish over his sister, and he attempted to incline Anthony towards fleshly sin. But the monk preserved his firm faith, he incessantly made prayer and intensified his efforts. Anthony prayed that the Lord would point out to him the path of salvation. And he was granted a vision. The ascetic beheld a man, who by turns alternately finished a prayer, and then began to work -- this was an Angel, which the Lord had sent to instruct His chosen one. The monk thereupon set up a strict schedule for his life. He partook of food only once in the entire day, and sometimes only once every second or third day; he spent all night at prayer, giving himself over to a short sleep only on the third or fourth night after unbroken vigil. But the devil would not desist with his tricks, and trying to scare the monk, he appeared under the guise of monstrous phantoms. The saint however with steadfast faith protected himself with the Life-Creating Cross. Finally the enemy appeared to him in the guise of a frightful looking black lad, and hypocritically declaring himself beaten, he reckoned to sway the saint into vanity and pride. But the monk expelled the enemy with prayer.
For yet greater solitude, the saint re-settled farther away from the village, in a graveyard. On designated days his friend brought him a scant bit of food. And here the devils, pouncing upon the saint with the intent to kill him, inflicted upon him terrible beatings. But the Lord would not allow the death of Anthony. The friend of the saint, on schedule taking him his food, saw him as though dead laying upon the ground, and he took him away back to the village. They thought the saint was dead and began to prepare for his burial. But the monk in the deep of night regained consciousness and besought his friend to take him back to the graveyard. The staunchness of Saint Anthony was greater than the wile of the enemy. Taking the form of ferocious beasts, the devils again tried to force the saint to forsake the place chosen by him, but he again expelled them by the power of the Life-Creating Cross. The Lord strengthened the power of His saint: in the heat of the struggle with the dark powers the monk saw coming down to him from the sky a luminous ray of light, and he cried out: "Where hast Thou been, O Merciful Jesus?.. Why hast Thou not healed my wounds at the very start?" The Lord replied: "Anthony! I was here, but did wait, wanting to see thine valour; and now after this, since thou hast firmly withstood the struggle, I shalt always aid thee and glorify thee throughout all the world". After this vision the Monk Anthony was healed of his wounds and ready for renewed efforts. He was then 35 years of age.
Having gained spiritual experience in the struggle with the devil, the Monk Anthony pondered going into the deeps of the Thebaid wilderness, and in full solitude there to serve the Lord by deed and by prayer. He besought the ascetic elder (to whom he had turned at the beginning of his monastic journey) to go off together with him into the wilderness, but the elder, while blessing him in the then as yet unheard of exploit of being suchlike an hermit, decided against accompanying him because of the infirmity of age. The Monk Anthony went off into the wilderness alone. The devil tried to stop him, throwing in front of the monk precious gems and stones, but the saint paid them no attention and passed them on by. Having reached a certain hilly spot, the monk caught sight of an abandoned enclosed structure and he settled within it, securing the entrance with stones. His faithful friend brought him bread twice a year, and water he had inside the enclosure. In complete silence the monk partook of the food brought him. The Monk Anthony dwelt for 20 years in complete isolation and incessant struggle with the devils, and he finally found tranquillity of spirit and peace in his mind. When it became appropriate, the Lord revealed to people about His great ascetic. The saint had to instruct many layfolk and monastics. The people gathering at the enclosure of the monk removed the stones sealing his entrance way, and they went to Saint Anthony and besought him to take them under his guidance. Soon the heights on which Saint Anthony asceticised was encircled by a whole belt of monastic communities, and the monk fondly directed their inhabitants, teaching about the spiritual life to everyone who came into the wilderness to be saved. He taught first of all the need to take up spiritual efforts, to unremittingly strive to please the Lord, to have a willing and unselfish attitude towards types of work shunned earlier. He urged them not to be afraid of demonic assaults and to repel the enemy by the power of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord.
In the year 311 the Church was beset by a trial -- a fierce persecution against Christians, set in motion by the emperor Maximian. Wanting to suffer together with the holy martyrs, the Monk Anthony left the wilderness and arrived in Alexandria. He openly rendered aid to the imprisoned martyrs, he was present at the trial and interrogations, but the torturers would not even bother with him! It pleased the Lord to preserve him for the benefit of Christians. With the close of the persecution, the monk returned to the wilderness and continued his exploits. The Lord bestowed upon His saint a gift of wonderworking: the monk cast out devils and healed the sick by the power of his prayer. The multitude of people coming to him disrupted his solitude, and the monk went off still farther, into the so-called "interiour of the wilderness", and he settled atop an high elevation. But the brethren of the wilderness monasteries searched out the monk and besought him at least often to pay visits to their communities.
Another time the Monk Anthony left the wilderness and arrived amidst the Christians in Alexandria, to defend the Orthodox faith against the Manichaean and Arian heresies. Knowing that the name of the Monk Anthony was venerated by all the Church, the Arians circulated a lie about him -- that he allegedly adhered to their heretical teaching. But actually being present in Alexandria, the Monk Anthony in front of everyone and in the presence of the bishop openly denounced Arianism. During the time of his brief stay at Alexandria he converted to Christ a great multitude of pagans. Pagan philosophers came to the monk, wanting by their speculations to test his firm faith, but by his simple and convincing words he reduced them to silence. The Equal-to-the-Apostles emperor Constantine the Great (+ 337, Comm. 21 May) and his sons deeply esteemed the Monk Anthony and besought him to visit them at the capital, but the monk did not want to forsake his wilderness brethren. In reply to the letter, he urged the emperor not to be overcome with pride by his lofty position, but rather to remember, that even over him was the Impartial Judge -- the Lord God.
The Monk Anthony spent 85 years of his life in the solitary wilderness. Shortly before his death, the monk told the brethren, that soon he would be taken from them. Time and again he instructed them to preserve the Orthodox faith in its purity, to shun any association with heretics, and not to weaken in their monastic efforts. "Strive the yet more to dwell ever in unity amongst ye, and most of all with the Lord, and then with the saints, so that upon death they should bring ye into eternity by their blood, as friends and acquaintances", -- thus were the death-bed words of the monk passed on in his Vita (Life). The monk bid two of his disciples, who had been together with him the final 15 years of his life, to bury him in the wilderness and not arrange any solemn burial of his remains in Alexandria. Of his two monastic mantles, the monk left one to Sainted Athanasias of Alexandria (Comm. 18 January), the other to Sainted Serapion of Tmunta. The Monk Anthony died peacefully in the year 356, at age 105, and he was buried by his disciples at a treasured spot glorified by him in the wilderness.
The Vita (Life) of the famed ascetic the Monk Anthony the Great was written in detail by a father of the Church, Saint Athanasias of Alexandria. This work of Saint Athanasias is the first memorial of Orthodox hagiography, and is considered one of the finest of his writings; Saint John Chrysostom says, that this Vita should be read by every Christian. "These narratives be significantly small in comparison with the virtues of Anthony, -- writes Saint Athanasias, -- but from them ye can conclude, what the man of God Anthony was like. From his youth into his mature years observing an equal zeal for asceticism, not being seduced by the avenues of filth, and not as regards infirmity of body altering his garb, nor the any worse for it in suffering harm. His eyes were healthy and unfailing and he saw well. Not one tooth fell out for him, and they only weakened at the gums from the advanced years of age. He was healthy of hand and of foot (...). And what they said about him everywhere, all being amazed at him, whereof even those that did not see him loved him -- this serves as evidence of his virtue and love for God in soul".
Of the works of the Monk Anthony himself, there have come down to us: 1) his Discourses, 20 in number, treating of the virtues, primarily monastic, 2) Seven Letters to monasteries -- about striving for moral perfection and regarding the spiritual struggle, and 3) a Rule of life and consolation for monastics.
In the year 544 the relics of the Monk Anthony the great were transferred from the wilderness to Alexandria, and later on with the conquest of Egypt by the Saracens in the VII Century, they were transferred to Constantinople. The holy relics were transferred from Constantinople in the X-XI Centuries to a diocese outside Vienna, and in the XV Century -- to Arles (in France), into the church of Saint Julian.
The Monk Antonii (Anthony) of Dymsk was born at Novgorod in about the year 1157. Upon a time once hearkening in church to the words of Christ: "Whoso wouldst to follow Me, let them deny themself and take up their cross and come follow Me" (Mt. 16: 24), the saint resolved to leave the world and take monastic vows under Saint Varlaam of Khutynsk (Comm. 6 November) at his monastery. When he was dying, the Monk Varlaam established Saint Antonii as monastery head in his place; but Antonii, shunning glory, left the monastery and settled at the shores of Lake Dyma, in the outskirts of the city of Tikhvin. Here he founded a monastery and asceticised at it until the end of his own life. According to tradition, the Monk Antonii made a journey to Constantinople and through the holy places. The Monk Antonii died in the year 1224 on 24 June (on this day is made his memory). In the year 1330 his relics were uncovered undecayed, and from that time they were glorified by many miracles.
The Monk Antonii (Anthony) of Chernoezersk founded the Mother of God monastery at BlackLake (Chernoezero) in the Novgorod holdings, not far from the city of Chernopovets. The monastery was situated on an island of the Schirsk countryside. The monastery twice suffered a complete destruction: in 1581 -- from the Lithuanians, and in 1682 -- from the Swedes. In 1764 the monastery was closed.
The Monk Antonii (Anthony) of Krasnokholmsk was initially a wilderness-dweller in the Belozersk (WhiteLake) lands. Having already the dignity of priestmonk, he arrived in the Tver' land and settled near "Pretty Hillock" ("Krasnyi kholm"), at the bank of the River Mologa, building there a chapel and cell. After the discovery of an icon of Saint Nicholas, a stone church was built and a monastery founded, headed by the monk, who taught the brethren both by word and by example throughout his life. The Monk Antonii died in the year 1481.
The Holy Emperor Theodosius the Great during the period of his reign (379-395) delivered a decisive blow to paganism: he issued a legal edict, under which any sort of service to the pagan gods was considered a transgression. The zealous proponent of Orthodoxy issued many laws in defense of the Church and against heretics. The Second OEcumenical Council (381) was convened by him.
The Monk Achilles the Confessor asceticised living the life of an hermit, and died during the V Century.
Sainted Athanasias and Cyril, Archbishops of Alexandria, have a conjoined feast established to them in acknowledgement of the profound gratitude of Holy Church for their incessant lengthy labour in affirmation of the dogmas of the Orthodox faith and their zealous defense of such against heretical teachings.
The account about Saint Athanasias is located under 2 May, and about Saint Cyril -- under 9 June.
The Monk Athanasii (Afanasii) of Syadem and Vologda was a disciple of the Monk Alexander of Svir (+ 1533, Comm. 30 August). After the death of his mentor, he established in the forests of Karelia the Dormition (Uspenie) hermitage, not far from the city of Olonets, amidst the islands of Syadem and Roschinsk. The slander and pettiness of the local inhabitants compelled the Monk Athanasii to move back to the Svir monastery, where they chose him as hegumen. Later returning to the Uspenie hermitage, the monk died in about the year 1550 in extreme old age and was buried on one of the promontories of Roschinsk island. Afterwards there was built over his grave a church in the name of Saints Athanasias and Cyril of Alexandria, into which in 1720 were placed the unperished relics of the saint.
Righteous Athanasii (Afanasii) of Navolotsk went at the end of the XVI Century from the Kargopol' region to the Olonets land, where he founded a monastery 78 versts from what later emerged as the city of Petrozavodsk. The saint died near the Verkholedsk suburb not far from Shenkursk.
The Monk Marcian of Syr' asceticised in the wilderness near the city of Syr'. Having built himself a small hut, he settled in it, passing the time at prayer, singing psalms and reading the Divine books. His food was very skimpy. Reports about his holy life attracted to him many zealous ascetics, and the Monk Marcian established a monastery for them.
The blessing of God rested upon the saint, and he possessed the gift of wonderworking. One time a serpent crawled into his cell towards him, and the monk made the sign of the cross and the serpent perished, having been burnt up by flames. At night, when the ascetic read, an Heavenly light shined for him. The monk also worked many other miracles on behalf of the brethren. He died in peace about the year 388.
Sainted Maxim (Maksim) the New, despoton of Serbia, was the son of king Stefan of Serbia (Comm. 10 December), and was Metropolitan of Ugro-Valakhia. He died on 18 January 1516.
The Monk Makarios the Great of Egypt was born in the village of Ptinapor in Lower Egypt. At the wish of his parents he entered into marriage, but was soon a widower. Having buried his wife, Makarios told himself: "Take heed, Makarios, and have care for thy soul, wherefore it becometh thee to forsake earthly life". The Lord rewarded the saint with a long life, but from that time the mindfulness of death was constantly with him, impelling him to ascetic deeds of prayer and penitence. He began to visit the church of God more frequently and to be more deeply absorbed in Holy scripture, but he did not depart from his aged parents -- thus fulfilling the commandment about the honouring of parents. Until his parents end the Monk Makarios ("Makarios" -- from the Greek means "blessed") used his remaining substance to help his parents and he began to pray fervently, that the Lord might shew him a preceptor on the way to salvation. The Lord sent him such a guide in the person of an experienced monk-elder, living in the wilderness not far from the village. The elder took to the youth with love, guided him in the spiritual science of watchfulness, fasting and prayer, and taught him the handicraft of weaving baskets. Having built a separate cell not far from his own, the elder settled his student in it.
The local bishop arrived one day at Ptinapor and, knowing about the virtuous life of the monk, made him into the clergy against his will. But Blessed Makarios was overwhelmed by this disturbance of his silence, and therefore went secretly to another place. The enemy of salvation began a tenacious struggle with the ascetic, trying to terrify him, shaking his cell and suggesting sinful thoughts. Blessed Makarios shook off the attacks of the devil, defending himself with prayer and the sign of the cross. Evil people made up a slander against the saint, accusing him in the seduction of a maiden from a nearby village. They dragged him out of his cell, and jeered at him. The Monk Makarios endured the temptation with great humility. The money that he got for his baskets he sent off without a murmur for the welfare of the maiden. The innocence of Blessed Makarios was revealed when the maiden, being worried for many days, was not able to give birth. She then confessed in her sufferings that she had slandered the hermit, and she pointed out the real author of the sin. When her parents found out the truth, they were astonished and intended to go to the monk with remorse. But the Monk Makarios, shunning the vexation of people, fled that place by night and settled on a Nitrian mountain in the Pharan wilderness. Thus human wickedness contributed to the prospering of the righteous. Having dwelt in the wilderness for three years, he went to Saint Anthony the Great, the father of Egyptian monasticism, about whom he had heard that he was still alive in the world, and he longed with a desire to see him. The Monk Abba Anthony received him with love, and Makarios became his devoted student and follower. The Monk Makarios lived with him for a long time and then, on the advice of the saintly abba, he went off to the Skete wilderness-monastery (in the northwest part of Egypt). He so shone forth there by his ascetic deeds that he came to be called "a young-elder", insofar as having scarcely reached thirty years of age, he distinguished himself as an experienced and mature monk.
The Monk Makarios survived many demonic attacks against him: once he was carrying palm branches from the wilderness for weaving baskets, and a devil met him on the way and wanted to strike him with a sickle, but he was not able to do this and said: "Makarios, I suffer from thee great anguish because I am not able to vanquish thee; thine armour, by which thou art defended from me, is this -- thy humility". When the saint reached age 40, he was ordained to the dignity of priest and made the head (abba) of the monks living at the Skete wilderness. During these years the Monk Makarios often visited with Anthony the Great, receiving guidance from him in spiritual conversations. Blessed Makarios was deemed worthy to be present at the death of the holy abba and he received his staff in succession, together with which he received twice the spiritual power of Anthony the Great -- in the same way, as did once the prophet Elisha receive from the prophet Elias twice the grace with the mantle coming down from heaven.
The Monk Makarios accomplished many healings: people thronged to him from various places for help and for advice, asking his holy prayers. All this unsettled the quietude of the saint. He therefore dug out under his cell a deep cave and betook himself there for prayer and Divine meditation. The Monk Makarios attained to such daring in walking before God, that through his prayer the Lord resuscitated the dead. In spite of such lofty attainment of God-likeness, he continued to preserve his unusual humility. One time the holy abba caught a thief, putting his things on a donkey standing nearby the cell. Not giving the appearance that he was the owner of these things, the monk began quietly to help tie up the load. Having removed himself from the world, the monk told himself: "We bring nothing at all into this world; clearly, it is not possible to take anything out from hence. Bless the Lord in all things!".
One time the Monk Makarios was walking along the way and, seeing a skull lying upon the ground, he asked it: "Who art thou?" The skull answered: "I was a chief-priest of the pagans. When thou, Abba, dost pray for those situated in hell, we do receive some mitigation". The monk asked: "What are these torments?" "We are sitting in a great fire, -- answered the skull, -- and we do not see one another. When thou prayest, we begin to see each other somewhat, and this affords us some comfort". Having heard such words, the monk began weeping and asked: "Are there yet more fiercesome torments?" The skull answered: "Down below us are located those, which did know the Name of God, but spurned Him and kept not His commandments. They endure yet more grievous torments".
Once during prayer Blessed Makarios heard a voice: "Makarios, thou hast reached such attainment as have two women living in the city". The humble ascetic, taking up his staff, went to the city, found the house where the women lived, and knocked. The women received him with joy, and the monk said: "Because of you I have come from a far wilderness, and I want to know about your good deeds; tell about them, keeping nothing secret". The women answered with surprise: "We live with our own husbands, and we have not such virtues". But the saint continued to insist, and the women then told him: "We entered into marriage with two brothers by birth. After all this time of life in common we have told each other not one evil thing nor insulting word, and never do we quarrel between ourselves. We asked our husbands to release us into a women's monastery, but they were not agreeable, and we gave a vow not to utter one worldly word until death". The holy ascetic glorified God and said: "In truth the Lord does not seek virgins nor married women, and neither monks nor worldly persons, but doth value the free intent of the person within the arbitrariness of his free will to offer thanks to the Holy Spirit, which acts and which rules the life of each person, yearning to be saved".
During the years of the reign of the emperor Valens -- an Arian heretic (364-378), the Monk Makarios the Great together with the Monk Makarios of Alexandria was subjected to persecution by the adherents of the Arian bishop Luke. They seized both elders and, imprisoning them on a ship, transported them onto a wild island where there lived pagans. By the prayers of the saints there, the daughter of a pagan priest received healing, at which the pagan priest and all the inhabitants of the island accepted holy Baptism. Learning about what had happened, the Arian bishop became ashamed and permitted the elders to return to their own monasteries.
The meekness and humility of the monk transformed human souls. "An harmful word, -- said Abba Makarios, -- and it makes good things bad, but a good word makes bad things good". On the questioning of the monks, how to pray properly, the monk answered: "For prayer it does not require many words, it is needful only to say: "Lord, as Thou desirest and as Thou knowest, have mercy on me". If an enemy should fall upon thee, it is needful but to utter: "Lord, have mercy!" The Lord knoweth that which is useful for us, and doth grant us mercy". When the brethren asked: "In what manner ought a monk to comport himself?", the monk answered: "Forgive me, I am a poor monk, but I beheld monks being saved in the remote wilderness. I asked them, how might I make myself a monk. They answered: "If a man doth not withdraw himself from everything which is situated in the world, it is not possible to be a monk". At this point I answered: "I am weak and not able to be such as ye". The monks therewith answered: "If thou art not able to be such as we, then sit in thy cell and dwell in contrition about thy sins"."
The Monk Makarios gave advice to a certain monk: "Flee from people and thou shalt be saved". That one asked: "What does it mean to flee from people?" The monk answered: "Sit in thy cell and dwell in contrition about thy sins". The Monk Makarios said also: "If thou wishest to be saved, be as one who is dead, who is not given over to anger when insulted, and not puffed up when praised". And further: "If for thyself, slander -- is like praise, poverty -- like riches, deficiency -- like abundance, thou shalt not perish. Since it is not possible, that in piety believers and ascetic seekers should fall into unclean passions and demonic seductions".
The prayer of the Monk Makarios saved many in perilous circumstances of life, and preserved them from harm and temptation. His benevolence was so great, that they said about him: "Just as God covereth the world, so also doth Abba Makarios cover offenses which he, having seen, is as though he had not seen, and having heard, as though he had not heard".
The monk lived until age 97. Shortly before his end there appeared to him the Monks Anthony and Pakhomios, bringing the joyful message about his transition into a blessed Heavenly monastery. Having given admonition to his disciples and having given them blessing, the Monk Makarios asked forgiveness from all and bid farewell with the words: "Into Thy hands, Lord, I commend my spirit".
Holy abba Makarios spent sixty years in the wilderness, being dead to the world. The monk spent most of the time in conversation with God, being often in a state of spiritual rapture. But he never ceased to weep, to repent and to work. The abba rendered his rich ascetic experience into profound theological works. Fifty discourses and seven ascetic tracts form the precious legacy of spiritual wisdom of the Monk Makarios the Great.
His idea, that the highest blessedness and purpose of man -- the unity of the soul with God -- is a primary principle in the works of the Monk Makarios. Recounting the means by which to attain to mystical union, the monk relies upon the experience of both the great teachers of Egyptian monasticism and upon his own experience. The way to God and the experience of the holy ascetics of Communality with God is revealed to each believer's heart. Therefore Holy Church also includes within the general use of vespers and matins the ascetic prayers of the Monk Makarios the Great.
Earthly life, according to the teachings of the Monk Makarios, possesses with all its works only a relative significance: to prepare the soul, to make it capable for the perception of the Heavenly Kingdom, to establish in the soul an affinity with the Heavenly fatherland. "The soul -- for those truly believing in Christ -- it is necessary to transpose and to transform from out of the present degraded condition into another condition, a good condition: and from out of the present perishing nature into another, Divine nature, and to be remade anew -- by means of the power of the Holy Spirit". To attain this is possible, if "we truly believe and we truly love God and have penetrated into all His holy commands". If the soul, betrothed to Christ on holy Baptism, does not itself co-operate in its gifts of the grace of the Holy Spirit, then it is subjected to "an excommunication from life", as is shewn by a lack of attaining blessedness and incapacity to union with Christ. In the teaching of the Monk Makarios, the question about the unity of Divine Love and Divine Truth is experientially decided. The inner action of the Christian determines the extent of the perception by him of this unity. Each of us acquires salvation through grace and the Divine gift of the Holy Spirit, but to attain a perfect measure of virtue -- which is necessary for the soul's assimilation of this Divine gift, is possible only "by faith and by love with the strengthening of free will". Thus, "as much by grace, as much also by truth" does the Christian inherit eternal life. Salvation is a Divine-human action: we attain complete spiritual success "not by Divine power and grace alone, but also by the accomplishing of the proper labours"; from the other side -- it is not alone within "the measure of freedom and purity" that we arrive at the proper solicitude, it is not without "the co-operation of the hand of God above". The participation of man determines the actual condition of his soul, thus self-determining him to good or evil. "If a soul still in the world does not possess in itself the sanctity of the Spirit for great faith and for prayer, and does not strive for the oneness of Divine communion, then it is unfit for the heavenly kingdom".
The miracles and visions of Blessed Makarios are recorded in a book by the Presbyter Ruphinos, and his Life was compiled by the Monk Serapion, bishop of Tmuntis (Lower Egypt), one of the reknown workers of the Church in the IV Century.
The Monk Makarii, Faster of Pechersk, in the Nearer Caves (XII), and the Monk Makarii, Deacon of Pechersk, in the Farther Caves (XIII-XIV), were both deacons. Their memory is placed under 19 January because of their name in common with the Monk Makarios of Egypt. About the Monk Makarii from the Farther Caves is known, that he was distinguished by his lack of covetousness, that he possessed great fervour for the temple of God and he continuously exerted himself in the reading of Holy Scripture and in fasting. According to tradition, he was frequently ill in childhood, and his parents gave a vow to God to offer their son to the Pechersk monastery, if he were made healthy. By his mildness and humility he earned the love of the brethren, who taught him to read and to write. For his piety of life he was raised to the dignity of deacon, and during his life he possessed a gift of wonderworking. Apart from this commemoration, the Monk Makarii from the Nearer Caves is also celebrated on 28 September, and the Monk Makarii from the Farther Caves on 28 August. The general commemoration is with all the Pechersk wonderworkers -- on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
Blessed Feodor of Novgorod was the son of pious parents, rich and noted citizens of Novgorod. Having been raised in strict christian piety, and having reached the age of maturity, he took on himself the ascetic deed of Fool-for-Christ's-sake: all his possessions he gave away to the poor, and he himself to the end of his life dwelt in extreme poverty, not even having shelter over his head, nor warm clothes freezing days. Having discovered a mutual enmity of the Novgorod citizens of the Torgov quarter with the inhabitants of the Sophia quarter, blessed Feodor pretended to be feuding with Blessed Nikolai Kochanov (+1392; Comm. 27 July) who was pursuing asceticism on the opposite Sophia side. When blessed Feodor happened to cross over the Volkhov Bridge to the Sophia side, then blessed Nikolai pushed him over to the Torgov side; thus also did Feodor, when Nikolai was chanced upon on the Torgov side. The blessed ones, spiritually in agreement with each other, by their factitious appearance reminded the Novgorod people of their own internecine strife, which often ended in bloody skirmishes.
The blessed one possessed the gift of perspicacity and, having warned: "Take care of bread", he predicted an impending famine. At another time with the words: "This will be bare -- it will be fine for sowing turnips" he predicted a fire devastating the streets of the Torgov quarter. Blessed Feofor foresaw his own end and said to the Novgorod people: "Farewell, I go afar".
The Novgorod citizenry saw in him while still alive a saint pleasing to God and regarded him highly. After his death in the year 1392 the blessed one was buried at his request in the Torgov quarter, at Lubyanitsa in the church of the holy GreatMartyr George, at the porch where the saint usually loved to pass the time in unceasing prayer. Over his relics was built a chapel.
The Holy Martyress Euphrasia the Virgin was born at Nikomedia into an illustrious family. She was a christian and noted for her beauty. During the time of the Maximian persecution against christians, the governor of the city tried to compel Euphrasia to offer sacrifice to idols; when she refused, he gave orders for her to be beaten, and then given over to a soldier for desecration. The saint prayed tearfully to the Lord that He would preserve her virginity, and God heard her prayer. Saint Euphrasia suggested to the soldier that he help her find an herb, which would protect him from enemy weapons and death. But this herb, she explained, held its power only when received from a virgin and not from a woman. The soldier believed Saint Euphrasia and went with her into the garden. The holy virgin gathered the herb, which lay underfoot, and suggested to the soldier that he try its power on her. She placed the herb to her neck and ordered the soldier to strike forcefully with his sword. Thus her prayer was answered, and the wise virgin offered her soul to God, having preserved her pure virginity (+ 303).
The Monk Makarios of Alexandria was a contemporary and friend of the Monk Makarios of Egypt (Comm. 19 January). He was born in the year 295, and until the age of 40 he was occupied in trade; afterwards, he accepted holy Baptism and withdrew into the wilderness. After several years of ascetic life he was elevated to the dignity of presbyter and made head of a monastery -- called "the Cells" -- in the Egyptian wilderness between the city of Nitra and the Skete, at which monk-hermits pursued asceticism in silence, each separately in his own cell.
Saint Makarios of Alexandria, like Makarios of Egypt, was a great ascetic and monastic head, and he accomplished many miracles. Learning about some particular ascetic feat of this or that monk, he attempted to imitate him in that ascetic deed. Thus, having heard that a certain monk used only one pound of bread in a day, he started to eat only so much and even less. Wishing to shorten his sleep, he stayed for 20 whole days under the open sky, enduring heat by day and cold by night. One time Saint Makarios picked a bunch of grapes. He very much wanted to eat them, but he conquered this desire in himself and gave the grapes to a still weaker monk. That one, wanting to preserve his abstinence, gave the grapes to another, and that one -- to a third and so forth. At the very end the bunch of grapes returned to the Monk Makarios. The ascetic was astonished at the abstention of his disciples and gave thanks to God. One time a proud thought came over the saint -- to go to Rome to heal the sick. Struggling with the temptation, the saint filled up a sack of sand, loaded it on himself and went for a long walk into the wilderness, and until he exhausted his body the proud thought did not leave him.
By his ascetic life, fasting, and renunciation of things earthly, the Monk Makarios acquired the gifts of wonderworking and of seeing the inner thoughts of people, and he was granted many miraculous visions. Thus, it was granted the monk to see how one of the ascetics of the holy monastery -- the Monk Mark -- was communicated the Holy Mysteries from the hands of Angels, and how careless brethren received during the time of partaking in place of the Body of Christ burning coals from those of the nether regions. Saint Makarios was glorified by many miracles of healing the sick and casting out devils. Saint Makarios of Alexandria died in about 394-395 at age 100. He wrote "Discourse about the Origin of the Soul" included in the text of the sequenced Psalter.
Saint Arsenios, ArchBishop of Kerkira, (Island of Korfu), was a native of Palestine and lived in the VIII Century. He led a strict ascetic life, and was an highly educated man and reknown spiritual writer. He was glorified by wisdom and by the constant defending of his flock from the unrighteous wrath of the emperor Constantine Porphyrigenitos (780-797). He composed: the Kanon on Anointing with Oil, a Panegyric on the Apostle Andrew, and a Discourse on the Suffering of the GreatMartyress Barbara.
Saint Mark Eugenikes, ArchBishop of Ephesus, was a reknown defender of Orthodoxy at the Council of Florence. Nothing was able to sway him towards Uniatism. Secretly slipping away from Florence, Saint Mark zealously urged the inhabitants of Constantinople to repudiate the dishonourable concordat. He died in the year 1457.
The Monk Anthony, Pillar-Dweller of Martkops, -- one of the thirteen Cappadocian holy fathers, the founders of Gruzian / Georgian monasticism (the account about them is located under 7 May), arrived in Gruzia in the VI Century. According to tradition, he brought to Gruzia the first copy on "tile" from the Edessa original of the Saviour Image Not-made-by-hand. He settled on a solitary mountain, called in his honour Martkops -- which means "solitary", and there founded a monastery and constructed a church in honour of the Saviour Image Not-made-by-hand. For the last 15 years of his life the monk Anthony pursued asceticism upon a pillar, wherefore he received the name Pillar-Dweller of the Iversk Church. (This pillar, destroyed by time, was still preserved in the last century, and the monastery founded by the Monk Anthony existed until the middle of the XVIII Century).
At the end of his earthly life, the Monk Anthony was buried in the church built by him; at his tomb there thronged a crowd of believers, and miracles of healing occurred. His memory is celebrated by the Georgian-Gruzian Church on 19 January, and on the day of 16 August is the temple feast of the Anchiskhat Church in Tbilisi, wherein is preserved the wonderworking icon of Saviour Image Not-made-by-hand, brought by the monk.
The Monk Euthymios the Great came from the city of Meletina in Armenia, near the River Euphrates. His parents, Paul and Dionysia, were illustrious people and pious christians. For a long time they did not have children, and finally through fervent prayer a son was born to them, whose appearance into the light of day was preceded by a Divine apparition foretelling a great future for the child.
The father of the Monk Euthymios soon died, and his mother -- fulfilling a vow to dedicate her son to God -- gave him over for educating to her brother, the Monk Eudoxios. He presented the lad to the bishop of the Meletina Church, Otreos, who with love took upon himself caring for him. Seeing his good conduct, the bishop soon made him a reader. Saint Euthymios later accepted monasticism and was ordained to the dignity of presbyter. At the same time, he was entrusted with the stewardship of all the city monasteries. The Monk Euthymios often visited the monastery of saint Polieuktos, and during the days of Great Lent he withdrew into the wilderness. The position of steward of the monasteries weighed heavily upon the ascetic seeking quietude, and in his 30th year of life he secretly left the city and headed to Jerusalem where, having prostrated himself before the holy places, he withdrew into the Tharan Lavra. Having found outside the monastery a solitary empty abode, he settled into it, securing his subsistence by weaving baskets. Nearby, the Monk Theoktistos pursued asceticism. They had both one striving for God, one will, one purpose. Usually after the feast of Theophany, they withdrew into the Kutilleia wilderness (not far from Jericho). One day though they left there, having chosen a place in the mountains difficult of access, and settled into a cave. The Lord however soon revealed their solitary place for the benefit of many people: shepherds driving their flocks came upon the cave and told about it in the village. People seeking spiritual benefit began to throng to the hermits. Gradually a monastic community grew up -- several monks came from the Tharan monastery, among them Marin and Luke. The Monk Euthymios entrusted the running of the growing monastery to his friend Theoktistos, and himself became a spiritual brother. He exhorted the brethren: "Know, that one desiring to lead a monastic life ought not to have his own will, he is always to be found in obedience and humility and to be mindful of the thought of death, to fear the Judgement and the eternal fire and to desire the Heavenly Kingdom".
The monk commanded young monastics to tackle bodily labour with an inner thought of God. "If laymen, -- he said, -- work much, in order to feed themselves and their families, and besides this, they give alms and offer sacrifice to God, then all the moreso ought we as monks to work, so as to avoid idleness and not be nourished by the work of strangers". The abba demanded, that the monks keep silence in church during Divine-services and at meals. He did not allow young monks, wishing to fast more than others of the brethren, to follow their own will, but urged them to partake of all the food at meals with temperance, not having over-eaten.
In these years the Monk Euthymios converted and baptised many Arabs, among whom was the military-head Aspevet and his son Terevon, whom the Monk Euthymios healed from sickness. Aspevet received the name Peter in Baptism and afterwards he was a bishop amongst the Arabs.
The fame of the miracles accomplished by the Monk Euthymios spread quickly. People began to throng from everywhere; brought with sickness, they received healing. Unable to bear human fame and glory, the monk secretly left the monastery, -- taking with him only his closest student Dometian. He withdrew into the Ruv wilderness and settled on the high mountain of Mardes, around about the Dead Sea. In the quests for solitude the monk explored the Zeph wilderness and settled in the cave, where formerly holy king David hid from the pursuit of king Saul. The Monk Euthymios founded there a monastery, and at the cave of David he established a church. During this time the Monk Euthymios converted many monks in the wilderness from the Manichaean heresy, he worked miracles, healed the sick and cast out devils.
Visitors to the saint disturbed the tranquillity of the wilderness; loving silence, he decided to return to the monastery of Saint Theoktistos that he had forsaken. Along the way the monk took a fancy to a solitary place on a mountain and he remained on it. There afterwards his holy body was buried.
Blessed Theoktistos went out with his brethren to the Monk Euthymios and requested him to return to the monastery, but the monk did not comply. However, he promised to come to the monastery on Sundays for community Divine-services.
The Monk Euthymios did not wish to have anyone nearby, nor to organise a general monastery or lavra, but in a vision the Lord commanded him not to drive away those who were come to him for the salvation of their souls. After some time brethren again gathered around him, and he organised a Lavra, on the pattern of the Tharan Lavra. In the year 429, when the monk Euthymios was 52 years old, the Jerusalem Patriarch Juvenalios consecrated the lavra church and supplied it with presbyters and deacons.
The lavra was at first poor, but the monk steadfastly trusted on God to send down all the necessities for people. Once there came to the lavra about 400 male pilgrims -- Armenians from Jerusalem who were starving. Viewing this, the Monk Euthymios summoned the steward and ordered him to feed the wanderers. The steward answered that there was no such quantity of food in the monastery. The monk, however, persisted. Going to the room where the bread was kept, the steward found there a large quantity of bread. With this came forth wine and oil. The wanderers ate to the glory of God: they ate their fill and after this there remained a three-month supply of food for the brethren. Thus the Lord wrought a miracle through the faith of Saint Euthymios.
Once one of the monastics refused to carry out an obedience assigned to him. Despite the fact that the monk having summoned him urged him to comply, the monastic remained obstinate. The monk then shouted loudly: "Thou wilt see what the reward for disobedience is". The monastic fell to the ground in a fit of raving. The brethren began to make entreaty to the abba for him, and then the Monk Euthymios healed the insubordinate one who, having come to himself, asked forgiveness and promised to improve himself. "Obedience, -- said Saint Euthymios, -- is a great virtue. The Lord loves obedience more than sacrifice, but disobedience leads to death".
Two of the brethren in the monastery of Saint Euthymios became overwhelmed by the austere form of life and they resolved to flee. Foreseeing in spirit their intent, the monk summoned them and for a long time he urged them to give up their destructive intention. He said: "Heed not that state of mind, of having sorrow and hatred for the place in which we live, and being prompted to go off to another place. Let a monk not imagine that, having gone to another place he arrives at something better, since good deeds are realised not by a place, but by a firm will and by faith. Whence the tree, which often they transplant to another place, does not bear fruit".
In the year 431 was convened in Ephesus the Third OEcumenical Council, directed against the Nestorian heresy. The Monk Euthymios rejoiced over the affirmation of Orthodoxy but was grieved about the archbishop of Antioch John who, being orthodox, defended Nestorios.
In the year 451 was convened at Chalcedon the Fourth OEcumenical Council against the heresy of Dioskoros who, in contrast to Nestorios, asserted that in the Lord Jesus Christ there is only one nature -- the Divine, having in the Incarnation swallowed up the human nature (thus the heresy was called Monophysite).
The Monk Euthymios accepted the confession of the Chalcedon and he acknowledged it as Orthodox. News about this spread quickly among the monks and hermits and many of them, having previously believed wrongly, through the example of Saint Euthymios accepted the confession of the Chalcedon Council.
For his ascetic life and firm confession of the Orthodox faith Saint Euthymios received the title "the Great". Having become wearied by intercourse with the world, the holy abba settled for a time into an inner wilderness. After his return to the lavra some of the brethren saw that, when he celebrated the Divine Liturgy, fire descended from Heaven and encircled the saint. The monk himself revealed to several of the monastics, that often he saw an Angel celebrating the Holy Liturgy together with him. The monk had a gift of perspicacity -- he saw the innder workings of the spirit and he discerned human inclinations. When monastics received the Holy Mysteries, it was revealed to the monk -- who approached worthily, and who unto condemnation of self.
When the Monk Euthymios was 82 years old, there came to him blessed Sava (the future Sava the Sanctified, Comm. 5 December), who was then still a youth. The elder received him with love and sent him off to the monastery of the Monk Theoktistos. He foretold, that the Monk Sava would shine in the monastic life.
When the saint had become 90 years of age, his companion and fellow Monk Theoktistos became grievously ill. The Monk Euthymios came to visit his friend and remained at the monastery; he took his leave of him and was present at the end. Having consigned the body to the grave, he returned to the lavra.
The time of his death was revealed to the Monk Euthymios through a particular mercy of God. On the day of memory of the Monk Anthony the Great, 17 January, the Monk Euthymios gave blessing to make the all-night vigil and, summoning the presbyters to the Altar, he told them that he would no more celebrate with them another vigil, because the Lord was summoning him from earthly life. All were filled with great sadness, but the monk commanded the brethren to gather together with him in the morning. He began to instruct the brethren: "If ye love me, observe my precepts, acquire love, which is an uniting of perfection. No virtuousness is possible without love and humility. The Lord Himself on account of His Love for us humbled Himself and became Man, as are we. We need therefore unceasingly to offer up praise to Him, particularly we, who have renounced the passions of the world. Never leave from church services, observe tradition and monastic rules carefully. If anyone of the brethren struggleth with unclean thoughts, -- unceasingly guide and instruct him, so that the devil does not carry off the brother into the pit".
"I add likewise another command: let the gates of the monastery never be bolted to wanderers and everything that you have, offer to the needy, for the poor in their misfortune do what you can to help". Afterwards, having given instruction for the guidance of the brethren, the monk promised to remain in spirit with all who desired to bear asceticism in his monastery until the end of the ages.
Having dismissed all, the Monk Euthymios kept about him only his one disciple Dometian and, remaining with him inside the Altar for three days, he died on 20 January in the year 473 at the age of 97 years.
At the burial of the holy abba there immediately thronged a multitude of monks from the monasteries and from the wilderness, among whom was Saint Gerasimos. The Patriarch Anastasios came also with clergy, the Nitreian monks Martyrios and Elias, who later became Jerusalem Patriarchs -- about which the Monk Euthymios had foretold them.
Blessed Dometian did not leave the grave of his preceptor for 6 days. On the 7th day, he saw the holy abba, joyously having returned with love for his student: "I am come, my child, in preparation for thee in peace, wherefore I prayed the Lord Jesus Christ, that thou be with me". Having told the brethren about the vision, Saint Dometian went to church and in joy offered his spirit to God. He was buried alongside Saint Euthymios. The relics of the Monk Euthymios were situated at his monastery in Palestine: the Russian pilgrim hegumen Daniel saw them in the XII Century.
The Holy Martyrs Inna, Pinna and Rimma, -- Slavs by birth from northern Skythia, -- they were disciples of the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called. They taught about the Name of Christ and they baptised many barbarians converted to the true faith. For this there were seized by the local prince, but they would not recant from Christ nor would they offer sacrifice to idols. A fierce winter then prevailed; the rivers were so solid with frost, that on the ice there travelled not only people, but also horses with carts. The prince gave orders to put large timbers on the ice and bind the saints to them, gradually lowering them into the freezing water. When the ice reached the necks of the saints they, worn out by the terrible cold, offered to the Lord their blessed souls.
The Holy Martyrs Bassos, Eusebios, Eutykhios and Basilides were courtiers of the emperor Diocletian. He sent them as witnesses of the suffering of the Nicomedia bishop Theopemptos (Comm. 5 January) for his faith in Christ. They themselves came to believe and accepted holy Baptism. For this they were subjected to tortures and condemned to death. Saint Bassos they buried in the ground and hacked at him; Saint Eusebios they hung head downwards and cut him in two; Saint Eutykhios they tied hands and legs to a pillar and broke him apart; Saint Basilides they cut in the stomach with a knife. The martyrs suffered in the year 303.
The Holy Martyr Zakharias suffered under the Turks for his faith in Christ in the year 1782, in ancient Patras (Peloponessos). Having at first accepted Musselmanism, he afterwards repented returned again to the true Christian faith. He died drawn out on wood.
The SchemaMonk Evthymii of Pechersk (XIV Century), imposed upon himself a vow of silence, opening his mouth only for Divine-services and for prayer. The silent schema-monk priest ate only herbs. He was buried in the Farther Feodosiev Cave of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. His memory is also 28 August and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Monk Evthymii of Syanzhemsk and Vologda -- was born in Vologda, and took monastic vows at the Saviour-Stone monastery at Lake Kuben. For some time he lived in a solitary cell on the River Kuben, and then gave over the place to the Monk Alexandr of Kushtsk and moved to Syanzhem, where he founded the Voznesenie / Ascension monastery and became its hegumen.
The monk died in about the year 1465, having established as his successor the Monk Khariton (Comm. 28 September). The account about the appearance of his relics was recorded in the XVI Century by the Vologda bishop Ioasaph, a noted hagiographer of his time.
The Monk Maximos the Confessor was born in Constantinople in about the year 580 and raised in a pious Christian family. In his youth he received a very diverse education: he studied philosophy, grammatics, rhetoric, he was well-read in the authors of antiquity and he mastered to perfection theological dialectics. When Saint Maximos entered into government service, the scope of his learning and his conscientiousness enabled him to become first secretary to the emperor Heraclius (611-641). But court life vexed him, and he withdrew to the Chrysopoleia monastery (on the opposite shore of the Bosphorus -- now Skutari), where he accepted monastic tonsure. By the humility of his wisdom he soon won the love of the brethren and was chosen hegumen of the monastery, but even in this dignity, in his own words, he "remained a simple monk". But in 633 at the request of a theologian, the future Jerusalem Patriarch Saint Sophronios (Comm. 11 March), the Monk Maximos left the monastery and set off to Alexandria.
Saint Sophronios was known in these times as an implacable antagonist against the Monothelite heresy. The Fourth OEcumenical Council (year 451) had condemned the Monophysite heresy, which confessed in the Lord Jesus Christ only one nature (the Divine, but not the Human nature, of Christ). Influenced by this erroneous tendency of thought, the Monothelite heretics introduced the concept that in Christ there was only "one Divine will" ("thelema") and only "one Divine effectuation or energy" ("energia"), -- which sought to lead back by another path to the repudiated Monophysite heresy. Monotheletism found numerous adherents in Armenia, Syria, Egypt. The heresy, fanned also by nationalist animosities, became a serious threat to church unity in the East. The struggle of Orthodoxy with the heresies was particularly complicated by the fact, that in the year 630 three of the Patriarchal thrones in the Orthodox East were occupied by Monothelites: at Constantinople -- by Sergios, at Antioch -- by Athanasias, and at Alexandria -- by Cyrus.
The path of the Monk Maximos from Constantinople to Alexandria led through Crete, where indeed he began his preaching activity. He clashed there with a bishop, who adhered to the heretical opinions of Severus and Nestorius. At Alexandria and its surroundings the monk spent about 6 years. In 638 the emperor Heraclius, together with the patriarch Sergios, attempted to downplay the discrepancies in the confession of faith, and the issued an edict: the so-called "Ecthesis" ("Ekthesis tes pisteos" -- "Exposition of Faith), -- which ultimately decreed that there be confessed the teaching about "one will" ("mono-thelema") operative under the two natures of the Saviour. In defending Orthodoxy against this "Ecthesis", the Monk Maximos recoursed to people of various vocations and positions, and these conversations had success. "Not only the clergy and all the bishops, but also the people, and all the secular officials felt within themselves some sort of invisible attraction to him, -- testifies his Vita.
Towards the end of 638 the patriarch Sergios died, and in 641 -- the emperor Heraclius also died. The imperial throne came to be occupied by the cruel and coarse Constans II (642-668), an open adherent of the Monothelites. The assaults of the heretics against Orthodoxy intensified. The Monk Maximos went off to Carthage and he preached there and in its surroundings for about 5 years. When the successor of patriarch Sergios, patriarch Pyrrhos, arrived there in forsaking Constantinople because of court intrigues, and being by persuasion a Monothelite, -- there occurred between him and the Monk Maximos an open disputation in June 645. The result of this was that Pyrrhos publicly acknowledged his error and even wanted to put into writing to Pope Theodore the repudiation of his error. The Monk Maximos together with Pyrrhos set off to Rome, where Pope Theodore accepted the repentance of the former patriarch and restored him to his dignity.
In the year 647 the Monk Maximos returned to Africa. And there, at a council of bishops Monotheletism was condemned as an heresy. In the year 648, in place of the "Ecthesis", there was issued a new edict, commissioned by Constans and compiled by the Constantinople patriarch Paul, the "Typus" ("Tupos tes pisteos" -- "Pattern of the Faith"), which overall forbade any further deliberations, whether if be about "one will" or about "two wills", as regarding the acknowledged "two natures" of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Monk Maximos thereupon turned to the successor of the Roman Pope Theodore, Pope Martin I (649-654), with a request to examine the question of Monotheletism at a conciliar consideration by all the Church. In October of 649 there was convened the Lateran Council, at which were present 150 Western bishops and 37 representatives of the Orthodox East, amongst which was also the Monk Maximos the Confessor. The Council condemned Monotheletism, and its defenders -- the Constantinople patriarchs Sergios, Paul and Pyrrhos, were consigned to anathema.
When Constans II received the determinations of the Council, he gave orders to arrest both Pope Martin and the Monk Maximos. This summons took 5 years to fulfill, in the year 654. They accused the Monk Maximos of treason to the realm and locked him up in prison. In 656 he was sent off to Thrace, and again later brought back to a Constantinople prison. The monk, together with two of his students, was subjected to the cruellest torments: for each they cut out the tongue and cut off the right hand. Then they were sent off to Colchis. But here the Lord worked an inexplicable miracle: all three of them found the ability to speak and to write. The Monk Maximos indeed foretold his own end (+ 13 August 662). On the Greek Saints-Prologue (Calendar), 13 August indicates the Transfer of the Relics of Saint Maximos to Constantinople, but possibly it might apply to the death of the saint. Or otherwise, the establishing of his memory under 21 January may be connected with this -- that 13 August celebrates the Leavetaking of the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Over the grave of the Monk Maximos shone three miraculously-appearing lights, and there occurred many an healing.
The Monk Maximos has left to the Church a large theological legacy. His exegetical works contain explanations of difficult places within the Holy Scripture, also Commentary on the Prayer of the Lord and on the 59th Psalm, various "scholia" ("marginalia" or text-margin commentaries) on treatises of the PriestMartyr Dionysios the Areopagite (+ 96, Comm. 3 October) and Sainted Gregory the Theologian (+ 389, Comm. 25 January). To the exegetical works of Saint Maximos belongs likewise his explication of Divine-services, entitled "Mystagogia" ("Introduction concerning the Mystery").
To the dogmatic works of the Monk Maximos belong: the Exposition on his dispute with Pyrrhos, and several tracts and letters to various people. In them are contained expositions of the Orthodox teaching of the Divine Essence and about Hypostatic-Persons of the Holy Trinity, about the Incarnation of God, and about the "theosis" ("deification", "obozhenie") of human nature.
"Nothing in theosis is the product of human nature, -- the Monk Maximos writes in a letter to his friend Thalassios, -- since nature cannot comprehend God. It is only but the mercy of God that has the capacity to endow theosis unto the existing... In theosis man (the image of God) becomes likened to God, he rejoices in all the plenitude that does belong to him by nature, since the grace of the Spirit doth triumph within him and because God doth act within him" (Letter 22).
To the Monk Maximos belong also works concerning the anthropologic (i.e. concerning man). He deliberates on the nature of the soul and its consciously-personal existence after the death of a man. Among his moral compositions, especially important is his "Chapters on Love". The Monk Maximos the Confessor wrote likewise three hymns in the finest traditions of church hymnography, following the lead of Saint Gregory the Theologian.
The theology of the Monk Maximos the Confessor, based on the spiritual experience of the knowledge of the great Desert-Fathers, and utilising the skilled art of dialectics worked out by pre-Christian philosophy, was continued and developed upon in the works of the Monk Simeon the New Theologian (+ 1021, Comm. 12 March), and Sainted Gregory Palamas (+ c. 1360, Comm. 14 November).
The Holy Martyr Neophytes, a native of the city of Nicea, was raised by his parents in strict Christian piety. For his virtue, temperance and unceasing prayer, it pleased God to glorify Saint Neophytes with the gift of wonderworking, while the saint was yet but a lad! Like unto Moses, the holy lad brought forth water from a stone of the city wall and gave this water to those suffering thirst. In answer to the prayer of the mother of Saint Neophytes, seeking that the Will of God concerning her son might be revealed to her, a white dove miraculously appeared, and announced about the salvific path awaiting him. The saint was led forth from his parental home by this dove and brought to a mountain cave, which served as a sheltering den for a lion. The lad dwelt there until his fifteenth year, leaving it but once to bury his parents and distribute their substance to the poor.
During the time of the persecution by Diocletian (284-305), he voluntarily appeared in Nicea and boldly began to denounce the impiety of the pagan faith. The enraged persecutors suspended the saint on a tree, they whipped him with ox thongs and cut at his body with iron. Then they threw him into a red-hot oven, but the holy martyr remained unharmed, spending 3 days and 3 nights in it. The torturers, not knowing what more to do with him, decided to kill him. One of the pagans thrust a spear into his chest, and the saint expired to the Lord in his 16th year of life, somewhere in the years 303-305, at Nicea.
The Holy Martyrs Eugene, Candidus, Valerian and Aquila suffered for their faith in Christ during the reign of Diocletian and Maximian (284-305), under the regimental commander Licius. Valerian, Candidus and Aquila had hidden themselves away during the time of the persecution in the Granezond hills, preferring life among the wild beasts over living with the pagans. But there also there were soon found and brought to Granezond. For their bold and steadfast confession of faith in Christ the holy martyrs were whipped with ox thongs, cut at with iron, and then had salt poured on their wounds which then were scorched with fire. Several days later Saint Eugene was also arrested, and subjected to the same tortures. After the tortures they threw the four martyrs into a red-hot oven; when they emerged from it unharmed, they were beheaded. The saints accepted a martyr's death towards the end of the III Century.
The Holy Martyress Agnes was born at Rome during the III Century. Her parents were Christians and they raised her in the precepts of the Christian faith. From her youthful years she devoted herself to God, and decided to dedicate herself to a life of virginity. When she refused to enter into marriage with the son of the city official Symphronius, one of his associates revealed to him that Agnes was a Christian. The wicked governor decided to subject the holy virgin to shame and he gave orders to strip and send her off to an house of harlotry for her insult against the pagan gods. But the Lord would not permit the shaming of the saint -- on her head there instantly grew out her long thick hair covering her body from people; later situated in the house of harlotry the saint shone with an Heavenly light, which blinded the sight of anyone approaching her. The son of the governor, himself having come to dishonour the virgin, fell down dead in merely having touched her hand. But through the fervent prayer of Saint Agnes he was restored to life and before the face of his father and many other people he proclaimed: "There is One God in the heavens and on earth -- the Christian God, and the other gods be but dust and ashes!" In seeing this miracle, 160 men believed in God and were baptised, and then in short order accepted a martyr's death from the pagans.
Saint Agnes, at the demand of the pagan priests, was given over to torture. They tried to burn her in a bon-fire as a witch, but the saint remained unharmed in the fire, praying to God, and after this they killed her with a strike of the sword to the throat. The holy virgin martyress was buried by her parents not far from the city of Rome (in about the year 304).
At the grave of Saint Agnes occurred many a miracle. The relics of Saint Agnes rest at Rome in a church on the outskirts, built in honour of her name, along the Via Nomentana.
The Holy Martyr Anastasias was a student of the Monk Maximos the Confessor, and together with him suffered persecution under the Monothelites. He penned the Vita of his teacher. He died in the year 662.
The Monk Neophytes of Batopedeia was a church warden at the Batopedeia monastery at Athos. One time, having fallen grievously ill, he turned with intense prayer to the MostHoly Mother of God, asking for healing, and he heard a voice from the icon of the Mother of God: "A year of life is given thee, so as to prepare for death". The miraculously healed Neophytes intensified his monastic efforts, preparing himself for the exodus from earthly life. After a year on one of the Sundays, when he was preparing himself to receive the Holy Mysteries of Christ, he again heard the voice from the icon of the Mother of God, that the time of his end was already come, and after communing the Holy Mysteries he expired peacefully to the Lord.
The Monk Maxim the Greek (XV-XVI Centuries), was the son of a rich Greek dignitary in the city of Arta (Albania), and he received a splendid education. In his youth he travelled widely and he studied the languages and sciences (i.e. intellectual disciplines) in the European lands -- he spent time at Paris, Florence, Venice. Upon returning to his native land, he went to Athos and accepted monasticism at the Batopedeia monastery. And with enthusiasm he studied ancient manuscripts, left on Athos by monasticised Byzantine Greek emperors (Andronikos Paleologos and Ioannes Kantakuzenos). During this period the Moscow Greatprince Vasilii Ioannovich (1505-1533) wanted to have insights into the Greek manuscripts and books of his mother, Sophia Paleologa, and he recoursed to the Constantinople patriarch with a request to send him a learned Greek. The Monk Maxim received the commission to go to Moscow. Upon his arrival, he was entrusted to render into Slavonic translation a Commentary on the Psalter, and somewhat later a Commentary on the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, and also certain other Divine-service books.
The Monk Maxim tried zealously and accurately to fulfill everything entrusted to him. But in view that Slavonic was not his native language as a translator, there essentially arose certain imprecisions in the translations.
The Metropolitan of Moscow Varlaam highly valued the work of the Monk Maxim. But when the Moscow throne came to be occupied by metropolitan Daniel, the situation changed.
The new metropolitan demanded that the Monk Maxim translate into the Slavonic language the Church history of Theodorit. Maxim the Greek resolutely refused this commission, pointing out that "in this history are included letters of the heretic Arius, and this might present danger for the semi-literate". This refusal caused a rift between the monk and the metropolitan. Despite their differences, the Monk Maxim continued zealously to toil in the field of the spiritual enlightenment of Rus'. He wrote letters against the Mahometans, Papism and the pagans. He translated the Commentaries of Saint John Chrysostom on the Gospels from Matthew to John, and likewise he wrote several works of his own.
When the Greatprince set out to dissolve his marriage with his spouse Solomonia because of her infertility, the dauntless confessor Maxim sent the prince his "Chapters Instructive towards Initiating Right-Belief", in which he persuasively pointed out, that the situation obliged the prince not to yield to beast-like passions. For this they locked up the Monk Maxim in prison. And from this moment there began a new period in the life of the monk, filled with much suffering. Inaccuracies found in his translations were imputed to the Monk Maxim as deliberate and intentional corruptions of the text. It was difficult for the monk in prison, but amidst his sufferings the saint gained also the great mercy of God. An Angel appeared to him and said: "Endure, elder! These torments deliver thee of torments eternal". In prison the monastic starets (elder) wrote in charcoal upon a wall a Canon to the Holy Spirit, which even at present is read in the Church: "Wherefore with manna having sustained Israel in the wilderness of old, and my soul, O Lord-Vladyka, is filled of the All-Holy Spirit, through Which vouchsafe that I shalt serve Thee always..."
After six years the Monk Maxim was set free from prison and sent off under church interdict to Tver. There he lived under the supervision of the good-natured bishop Akakii, who dealt kindly with guiltless sufferer. The monk then wrote his autobiographical work: "Thoughts, by which a Monk in Woe and Imprisoned, did Console and Strengthen himself with Patience". Here are some several words from this vivid text: "Neither grieve, nor sorrow, nor be saddened, beloved soul, of this, that thou hast suffered unjustly, from which it becometh thee to accept all to benefit, and wherefore thou employ it spiritually, proffering it as sustenance, filled of the Holy Spirit..." Only after twenty years of dwelling at Tver did they decide to let the monk live freely, and remove from him the church interdict. The Monk Maxim the Greek spent the final years of his life at the Trinity Sergiev Lavra. He was already about 70 years of age. Oppression and work took their toil on the health of the monk, but his spirits remains vigorous, and he continued on at his work. Together with his cell-attendant and student Nil, the monk with zeal translated the Psalter from Greek into the Slavonic language. Neither oppression nor prison discouraged the Monk Maxim.
The Monk Maxim reposed on 21 January 1556. He was buried at the northwest wall of the Spirit church of the Trinity Sergiev Lavra. Graced manifestations were to no little extent witnessed at the grave of the Monk Maxim, and a tropar and kondak to him was compiled. The image of the Monk Maxim is often depicted on the icon of the Sobor (Assemblage) of Radonezh Saints.
The Holy Disciple Timothy was from the Lycaonian city of Lystra in Asia Minor. Saint Timothy was converted to Christ in the year 52 by the holy Apostle Paul (+ c. 67, Comm. 29 June). When the Apostle Paul and Barnabas first visited the Lycaonian cities, the Apostle Paul at Lystra healed one crippled from birth; many of the inhabitants there then believed in Christ, and among them was the future youthful disciple Timothy, his mother Eunice and grandmother Loida (Lois) (Acts 14: 6-12; 2 Tim. 1: 5). The seed of faith, planted in the soul of Saint Timothy by the Apostle Paul, brought forth abundant fruit. He became a zealous student of the Apostle Paul, and later his constant companion and co-worker in the preaching of the Gospel. The Apostle Paul loved Saint Timothy and in his Epistles called him his beloved son, with gratitude remembering his devotion and fidelity. He wrote to Timothy: "Thou hast followed me in teaching, in life, in disposition, faith, magnanimity, love, and patience in afflictions and sufferings..." (2 Tim. 3: 10-11). The Apostle Paul in the year 65 ordained Saint Timothy as bishop of the Ephesus Church, which the saint administered for 15 years. And finally the holy Apostle Paul, situated in prison and knowing, that the act of martyrdom was before him, summoned his faithful student and friend, the Disciple Timothy, for a last farewell (2 Tim. 4: 9).
Saint Timothy ended his life as a martyr. At Ephesus the pagans made a feastday in honour of their idols and they carried them through the city, accompanied by impious ceremonies and songs. The holy Bishop Timothy, zealous for the glory of God, attempted to halt the procession and reason with the spiritually blind idol-worshipping people, by preaching the true faith in Christ. The pagans dashed angrily upon the holy disciple, they beat him, dragged him along the ground, and finally, they stoned him. The holy Disciple Timothy's death by martyrdom occurred in the year 80. In the IV Century the holy relics of the Disciple Timothy were transferred to Constantinople and placed in the church of the Holy Apostles. Holy Church venerates Saint Timothy as amongst the number of the Seventy Disciples.
The MonkMartyr Anastasias the Persian was the son of a Persian sorcerer named Babo. As a pagan, he had the name Magundates and served in the armies of the Persian emperor Chosroes II, who in a victorious war against the Greeks in 614 ravaged the city of Jerusalem and carried away to Persia the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord. Great miracles occurred from the Cross of the Lord, and the Persians were astonished. The heart of young Magundates blazed up with the desire to learn in detail more about this sacred object. Asking everyone about the Holy Cross, the youth learned, that upon it the Lord Himself endured crucifixion for the salvation of mankind. He became acquainted with the truths of the Christian faith in the city of Chalcedon, where for a certain while the army of Chosroes was situated. He was baptised with the name Anastasias, and then accepted monasticism and dwelt for seven years in monastic works and efforts in one of the Jerusalem monasteries.
Reading about the acts of the holy martyrs, Saint Anastasias was inspired with the desire to imitate them. A mysterious dream in particular urged him to do this, which he had on Great Saturday, the day before the feast of the Resurrection of Christ. Having fallen asleep after his daily tasks, he beheld a radiant man, giving him a golden chalice filled with wine, with the words "take hold and drink". Driving from the chalice given him, he sensed an inexplicable delight. Saint Anastasias then perceived that this vision was a portent of his own martyr's end. He went secretly from the monastery to Palestinian Caesarea. There they arrested him for being a Christian and brought him to trial. The governor tried every which way to sway Saint Anastasias into a renunciation of Christ, threatening him with tortures and death and promising him honours and earthly blessings. But the saint remained unyielding. Then they subjected him to torture: they beat at him with canes, they lacerated his knees, they hung him up by the hands and tied an heavy stone to his feet, they exhausted him with confinement, and then wore him down with heavy work in the stone-quarry with other prisoners.
Finally, the governor summoned Saint Anastasias and demanded he say only the words: "I am not a Christian", promising him freedom. The holy martyr answered: "Let me be with this. Neither before thee, nor before others wilt I renounce my Lord, neither openly nor secretly even in sleep, and no one nowhere and in no way can compel me to do this while in my right mind". Then by order of the emperor Chosroes, they strangled the holy Martyr Anastasias (+ 628). After the death of Chosroes, the relics of the MonkMartyr Anastasias were transferred to Palestine, to the Anastasias monastery.
The MonkMartyr Anastasii, Deacon of Pechersk, pursued asceticism in the Nearer Caves. The priestmonk Athanasii the Sooty calls him brother of the Monk Tito the Presbyter (+ not before 1190; Comm. 27 February). In the manuscripts of the saints he is called a deacon. In the Service to the Sobor (Assemblage) of the Fathers of the Nearer Caves, it says about the MonkMartyr Anastasii, that he possessed such steadfastness in God, that he received everything he asked for. His memory is celebrated also on 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Monk Makarii of Zhabynsk, Wonderworker of Belevsk, was born in the year 1539. In his early years he was monasticised with the name Onuphrii, and in the year 1585 he founded the Zhabynsk Vvedensk (Entry of Mother of God into the Temple) monastery near the River Oka, not far from the city of Belev. In 1615 the monastery was completely destroyed by Polish soldiers under the command of Lisovski. Returning to the charred remains, the monk began to restore the monastery. He again gathered the brethren, and in place of the wooden one there was built a stone church in honour of the Vvedenie/Entry of the MostHoly Mother of God into the Jerusalem Temple (Comm. 21 November), with a bell-tower at the gates. The monk spent his life in austere monastic effort, suffering cold, heat, hunger and thirst, as the monastery accounts relate. He often withdrew into the thick of the forest, where he prayed to God in solitude. One time when he was going along the forest pathway, he heard a faint moaning. He looked around and saw reclining against a tree-trunk a napping Polishman, who in his weariness was resting. Beside him was rolled up his sabre. He had strayed from his detachment and had become lost in the forest. In a barely audible voice this enemy, who quite possibly had been one of the destroyers of the monastery, asked for a drink of water. Love and sympathy surged up within the monk. With a prayer to the Lord he struck his staff about in the ground, and there gushed forth a fresh spring of water, and he gave the dying man a drink.
When the monastery had been restored both in its outward and inward life, the Monk Onuphrii withdrew from the general monastic life, and having entrusted the guidance of the brethren to one of his disciples, he took the Schema with the name Makarii. For the place of his solitude he choose a spot along the upper tributary of the River Zhabynka -- "the treasured Zhabynets", about one verst separating the mouth of the tributary and the banks of the River Oka.
The schemamonk efforts of the Monk Makarii were concealed not only from the world, but also from his beloved brethren. He died in 1623 at age 84, at the night hour when the roosters start crowing, and he was buried on 22 January, the day in memory of the Disciple Timothy, opposite the gates of the monastery, where afterwards was built a church in his name.
In the Iconographic Originals was preserved a description of the Monk Makarii in his last years: he was grayed with a small beard, and atop the monastic ryasa he wore the schema garb. Veneration of the Monk Makarii was established at the end XVII beginning XVIII Centuries. His icons were written; by tradition, his relics rested uncovered, but already in 1721 they were beneathe a crypt. In the XVIII Century the monastery became desolate. The memory about his deeds and miracles was so totally forgotten, that when during the construction of the Nikol'sk church in 1816 the undecayed relics of the monastery founder were uncovered, they began to serve a general panikhida over them. The restoration of the memory of the Monk Makarii of Belevsk is connected with the name of hegumen Jona, -- who was born on 22 January, the day of memory of the Monk Makarii, -- and who began his own monastic journey at the Optina monastery located not far from the Zhabynsk monastery. In 1875 hegumen Jona became head of the Zhabynsk monastery. His request for the restoration of the memory of the Monk Makarii was strengthened by the petition of the Belevsk people, who through the centuries had preserved faith in the sanctity of the saint. On 22 January 1888, after the long interruption, there was again made solemn veneration of the Monk Makarii of Zhabynsk. In 1889, at the place of burial of the saint, was built a church in his name. Hegumen Jona, who at that time lived peacefully at the monastery and actually participated in the construction, decided that together with the construction work, the holy relics of the Monk Makarii would be uncovered. When everything was on the point of readiness, the Monk Makarii appeared to both participants in a dream and strictly warned them that they should not proceed with their projected deed, or else there would be punishment. The memory of this appearance was reverently preserved among the monks of the monastery. A Service was compiled to the saint. The memory of the Monk Makarii of Zhabynsk is venerated, besides 22 January, also on 22 September.
The PriestMartyr Clement was born in the Galatian city of Ancyra in the year 258, from a pagan father and a Christian mother. In infancy he lost his father, and at twelve years of age also his mother, who predicted for him a martyr's death for belief in Christ. A woman adopting him named Sophia raised him in the fear of God. During the time of a terrible famine in Galatia several pagans cast out their own children, not having the wherewithal to feed them, and Sophia gathered up also these hapless ones, she fed and clothed them, and Saint Clement assisted her in this. He taught the children and prepared them for Holy Baptism. Many of them died as martyrs for the faith in Christ.
For his virtuous life Saint Clement was made a reader, and later a deacon, and at age eighteen he received the dignity of presbyter, and at age twenty he was ordained bishop of Ancyra. Soon afterwards there flared up the persecution against Christians under Diocletian (284-305). Bishop Clement was arrested under denunciation and had also to answer for himself. The governor of Galatia, Dometian, tried to sway the saint to the worship of the pagan gods, but Saint Clement firmly confessed his faith and valiantly endured all the tortures, which the cruel official subjected him to. They suspended him on a tree, and tore at his body such that the bare bones could be seen, they struck him fiercely with clubs and stones, and they turned him about on a wheel and burned at him with a low fire. The Lord preserved His sufferer and healed his lacerated body. Then Dometian dispatched the saint to Rome to the emperor Diocletian himself, with a report that Bishop Clement had been fiercely tortured, but had proven unyielding. Diocletian, seeing the martyr completely healthy, did not believe the report and subjected him to still yet crueler tortures, and then had him locked up in prison.
Many of the pagans, seeing the bravery of the saint and the miraculous healing of his wounds, believed in Christ. People flocked to Saint Clement in prison for guidance, healing and Baptism, such that the prison was literally transformed into a church.Many of these people, when reported about, were executed by the emperor. Diocletian, struck by the amazing endurance of Saint Clement, sent him off to Nicomedia to his co-emperor Maximian.
On the ship along the way, the saint was joined by his disciple Agathangelos, who had avoided being executed with the other confessors, and who now wanted to suffer and die for Christ together with Bishop Clement.
The emperor Maximian in turn sent off Saint Clement and Agathangelos to the governor Agrippina, who subjected them to such inhuman torments, that even among the pagan on-lookers there was felt a sense of pity for the martyrs and they began to pelt the torturers with stones.
Having been set free, the saints healed an inhabitant of the city with a laying on of hands and they baptised and instructed people, thronging to them in multitudes. Arrested again on orders of Maximian, they were sent off home to the city of Ancyra, where the Ancyra prince Cyrenius had them put to torture, and then dispatched them off to the city of Amasia to the official Dometius, known for his especial cruelty.
In Amasia the martyrs were thrown into molten lime, they spent a whole day in it and remained unharmed. They flayed their skin, beat them with iron rods, they set them on red-hot beds and poured sulfur. All this failed to harm the saints, and they were sent off to Tarsis for new tortures. In the wilderness along the way Saint Clement in prayer had a revelation, that he would suffer another 28 years for the Name of Christ. And then having endured a multitude of tortures, the saints were locked up in prison.
After the death of Maximian, Saint Agathangelos was beheaded with the sword. Ancyra Christians set free Saint Clement from prison and they took him to a cave church. There, after celebrating Liturgy, the saint announced to the faithful the soon impending end of the persecution and his own approaching demise. The holy martyr soon actually was killed by soldiers from the city, who stormed the church. They beheaded the saint during the time of his offering the Bloodless Sacrifice (+ c. 312).
The Monk Gennadii of Kostroma and Liubimograd, in the world Grigorii, was born in the city of Mogilev into a rich family. He early displayed love for the church, and his frequent visits to monasteries evoked the dismay of his parents. Grigorii himself was himself however firmly resolved to devote himself to God, and having changed over into tattered clothing, he secretly left his parental home and journeyed to Moscow. Having visited the Moscow holy places, he did not however here find it suitable in spirit and so set out to the Novgorod region. The destiny of the future ascetic was decided by an encounter with the Monk Alexander Svirsky (Comm. 30 August). With his blessing, Grigorii set off to the Vologda forest to the Monk Kornilii of Komel'sk (Comm. 19 May), and was monasticised by him with the name Gennadii. Together with Saint Kornilii, Gennadii moved on to the Kostroma forest. Here, on the shores of Lake Sura, in about the year 1529, there emerged the monastery of the Transfiguration of the Lord, afterwards called "the Gennadiev monastery". Having become hegumen, the Monk Gennadii did not slacken his monastic efforts, and together with the brethren he went out to the monastery tasks: he chopped wood, carried firewood, made candles and baked prosphora. A beloved concern of the monk was the writing of icons, with he adorned his new monastery. He wore heavy chains constantly.
For his holy life the Monk Gennadii received from the Lord the gift of perspicacity and wonderworking. Journeying on monastic affairs to Moscow, at the house of the boyar-noble Roman Yur'evich Zakhar'in, the saint predicted to his daughter Anastasia, that she would become tsaritsa. And actually, tsar Ivan the Terrible chose her for himself as spouse.
The Life of the Monk Gennadii was written by his disciple, the heguman Aleksei, between the years 1584-1587. In it was inserted the spiritual last-testament, dictated by the Monk Gennadii himself. In it he commands to observe the monastery ustav (rule) and to toil constantly, to be at peace with everyone, and to preserve the books collected at the monastery, while striving to understand their meaning. The monk appealed: "Strive towards the light, and shun the darkness".
The Monk Gennadii died on 23 January 1565; on 19 August 1646 occurred his churchly glorification.
The Monk Mausima the Syrian lived in Syria, near the city of Cyr or Cyrtha. For the salvation of soul he took upon himself voluntary poverty and devoted his life to the service of neighbour. The doors of his hut were always open to anyone who had need of him. In his hut there constantly stood two vessels: one with bread, and the other with oil. Anyone needing it came to him and received the food from his hand. These vessels never became empty. The monk died at the end of the IV Century.
The Monk Salaman the Silent was a native of the city of Kapersan, near the River Euphrates. Having found at the bank of the river a solitary cave, he became an hermit within it and spent there a life of silence and prayerful deeds.
And in learning of his lofty life, the bishop of Kapersan wanted to ordain him presbyter, but the man of silence did not answer him even a single word. The ascetic also in other instances of life did not cease his effort of silence, conversing only with the Lord alone. The Orthodox Church venerates him as the first saint to have taken upon himself the deed of silence, which he continued to his very end (+ c. 400).
Sainted Paulinus the Merciful, Bishop of Nolanum, was descended from an aristocratic and rich family of the city of Bordeaux (France). By virtue of his extensive education and upbringing, the twenty year old youth was selected to become a Roman senator, later he became consul and finally, governor of the region of Campagna in Italy. At twenty-five years of age he together with his spouse was converted to Christ and was baptised. After this he completely changed his manner of life: he disposed of all his property and distributed the money at hand to the needy, for which he had to endure the scorn of his friends and servants.
Not having children of their own, the pious couple adopted poor orphans and raised them in the fear of God. In his searchings for a secluded life, Saint Paulinus went off to the Spanish city of Barcelona.
News about his ascetic life spread about, and in the year 393 they besought him to accept the dignity of presbyter. Soon he left Spain and went on to the city of Nola (in Latin "Nolanum") in Italy, where he was chosen bishop.
When Vandal barbarians invaded Italy and carried off many people to Africa in captivity, holy Bishop Paulinus then made use of church funds to ransom the captives. However, not having sufficient means to ransom the son of a certain poor widow, he himself went voluntarily into slavery in place of him. In the attire of a slave, Saint Paulinus began to serve the Vandal prince.
Soon his secret was revealed, and he not only himself received his freedom, but he obtained it for all the captives, and together with them returned home. His love for mankind and compassion for all the poor and needy comprises a distinctive feature of his character. Saint Paulinus is known both as a builder of churches and as a Christian poet. He died at 78 years of age on 22 June 431. There remains from him several hymns and writings, containing various moral discourses imbued with deep piety. His relics are situated in Rome, in the church of the holy Apostle Bartholomew.
The Sixth OEcumenical Council was convened by the emperor Constantine Pogonatos (668-685) at Constantinople in the year 681 concerning the Monothelite heresy. At it were present 171 holy fathers, who affirmed the confession of faith concerning the two wills in Jesus Christ -- the Divine and the human. Continuing the work, this Council was followed by another Council in the year 691 in the imperial palaces, called the Council of Trullo. At this Council was made an examination of practical matters as to their canonical propriety, and 102 rule-canons were established.
The Nun Xenia, in the world Eusebia, was the only daughter of an eminent Roman senator. From her youth she yearned for God. In order to evade the marriage set up for her, she secretly left from her parental home together with two servants devoted to her and they set sail upon a ship. Through the Providence of God meeting up with the head of the monastery of the holy Apostle Andrew, which was situated in the city of Milassa, in Caesarea, she besought him to take her with her companions to Milassa. Having changed her name, she called herself Xenia [which in Greek means "stranger" or foreigner"]. At Milassa she bought land, built a church in the name of Saint Stephen and founded a woman's monastery. Soon after this the bishop of Milassa, Paul, consecrated Xenia a deaconess, as fully worthy of that calling through virtuous life. The saint rendered aid to all: for the destitute she was a benefactress, for the grief-stricken -- a comforter, for sinners -- a guide. She possessed deep humility, accounting herself worst and most sinful of all. In her ascetic deeds she was guided by the counsels of the Palestinian ascetic, the Monk Euthymios. By her lofty life Saint Xenia attracted many a soul to salvation. The death of the holy virgin, during a time of prayer, was marked by the Lord with the appearance over the monastery in the heavens of an apparition in the form of a luminous crown with a radiant cross amidst it, which accompanied the body of the saint when it was carried into the city to the people, and it stayed until the moment of burial. Many of the sick, having touched to the remains of the saint, received healing.
Sainted Gerasim, Bishop of Velikopermsk (GreatPerm) and Ust'vymsk, was the third bishop of the newly-enlightened Zyryani people, and he was a worthy successor to Sainted Stephen, the Enlightener of Perm. Having been elevated onto the Perm cathedra-seat sometime after the year 1416, he was a participant in Church Sobor-Councils: in that of the year 1438 condemning the Unia and metropolitan Isidor, and in that of the year 1441, which defined the selection of the metropolitan of All Rus' by means of a Sobor of Russian pastors. The saint unrelentingly concerned himself about his newly-established flock, which suffered raids from Novgorodians, and in particular from the pagan Vogulians -- where he fearlessly showed up in their camps urging them to cease the pillaging of villages of the defenseless Perm Christians. During the time of one of his journeys through the Perm land in 1441, he was murdered (according to tradition, strangled with his omophor) by a Vogul servant. He was buried in the cathedral church of the first bishops of Perm, -- later becoming the Annunciation church in the village of Ust'Vyma, situated northeast of the city of Yarensk, at the River Vychegda. The celebration of his memory was established in 1607. On 29 January is made a general commemoration to the three Perm Sainted-Hierarchs: Gerasim, Pitirim and Jona.
The Martyr John of Kazan suffered for Christ in the city of Kazan on 24 January 1529. During the reign of greatprince Vasilii Ivanovich the Tatars swooped down upon Nizhni Novgorod. Many of the inhabitants were taken into captivity and led off to Kazan. Among their number was also the fearless John. At the dividing up of the captives he was given over to the khan's kinsman Alei-Shnura. By day John honestly served his master, but at nights he prayed, going without sleep, patiently enduring insults and abuse. The master resolved to force his involuntary captive to worship Mahomet, but John firmly declared, that he confessed Jesus Christ as the Lord God. In winter the Tatars led him to a Russian graveyard, mortally wounded him with swords and threw him still tied up into the snow. Stumbling in the night, Saint John reached the door of some Russians living in Kazan, where he asked them to summon a priest, and having communed the Holy Mysteries and praying the night, in the morning he died.
The Holy Martyrs Babyla of Sicily and his two Disciples Timothy and Agapius lived during the III Century on the outskirts of Rome. Saint Babyla was born in the city of Reupolium into a rich family, and he was raised by his parents in the Christian faith. While still in his youth he abandoned the world, secretly going from the house of his parents to a mountain, where he spent all his time in fasting, prayer and silence. Together with him asceticised his two disciples: Timothy and Agapius. Fleeing a persecution by the pagans, he set off with his disciples to the island of Sicily, where they converted many of the unbelieving to Christ. The governor of the island, angered by the enlightening activity of Saint Babyla, gave orders to arrest him together with his disciples, and he then gave them over to fierce tortures. The saints patiently endured the sufferings, and all three died from the sword. Their bodies were thrown into a fire, but the flames did not harm the warriors of Christ. They were buried on the island of Sicily by local Christians.
The Monk Macedonias, a Syrian Hermit, lived during the end-IV early-V Centuries. At the start of his ascetic path he led the life of a wanderer, roving through the cities of Phoenicia, Cilicia and Syria for 25 years, and then he found a shelter in a deep ditch and lived under the open sky in the Syrian wilderness, shunning human glory. A multitude of people came out to him, seeking spiritual help and guidance. Only in his old age did he accede to the requests of people to live in a narrow cell built for him. Throughout his continuous life Saint Macedonias ate only barley, ground up and mixed with water, for which he was called "Kritophagos" ("Barley-Eater") (Grk. ΄η κριθη' -- "barley" and φα'γομαι -- to eat). Only when he sensed the decline of his powers did he begin to use soft bread. For his ascetic life he was granted of God the gift to cast out demons and to heal the sick. The monk died in about the year 420, having reached his 70th year of age.
The Monk Dionysios (XVI Century) was born into a family of poor parents in the village of Platina. The infancy of the monk was marked by a sign: over his crib shone the Cross. Fond of reading the Divine books and of prayer from the time of his youth, Saint Dionysios upon the death of his parents decided to accept monasticism and with this aim he set out for Holy Mount Athos. There he settled with a pious elder, the priest Seraphim, and under his guidance he began to lead an ascetic life, in particular keeping strict fast. Thus during Passion Week, having gone off into the forest, he ate only chestnuts. Soon they ordained him to deacon, and then to presbyter.
The lofty life of the monk became known about, and many a monk began to come to him, to hear from him words of edification. The monk also directed onto the path of salvation many a lawless person, among which was a robber, wanting to rob the cell of the saint and was moved by the kindly and wise discourse into profound penitence. The brethren of the Philotheion monastery, having lost their hegumen, besought Saint Dionysios to be their head. Among the brethren, however, insufficient were found choosing him, and dissensions arose. Valuing most of all peace and love, the Monk Dionysios put aside the calling of hegumen and withdrew to Berroeia, and then to Mount Olympos. Here the zealous for monasticism began to flock to him. Dionysios built cells for them and also a church and together with them spent the time in fasting and prayer. Having attained the spiritual heights, he worked many miracles. Many a time, through the prayers of the monk, the Lord punished iniquitous people that oppressed the monks of Olympos or broke the commandments of Christ, -- and thus were destroyed by severe drought and by hail the holdings of a Turk, who had expelled the monks and wrecked their monastery; by cattle disease and by sickness also was punished an herdsman, who had oppressed the monastery; a maiden from one of the villages for her impudence was subjected to an assault of the devil. Yet they all, likewise through the prayers of the saint, received healing and deliverance from misfortune, having been led to penitence through the saint's lack of malice.
The monk compiled a rule for monastic life, himself giving example of monastic activity. On Olympos he built a church, and later also a monastery in the name of the Prophet of God, Elias (Elijah). He bequeathed to the brethren a final testament about monastic life based on the Ustav (Monastic Rule) of the Holy Mountain of Athos.
The monk died in old age, and was buried on Olympos, in the church portico of the monastery founded by him.
The Holy Martyrs Paul, Pausyrios and Theodotion were brothers by birth. They suffered in the III Century in Egypt under Diocletian (284-305).
Sainted Philonos, Bishop of Kolpasteia (island of Crete): He died peacefully in the V Century. To him they attribute a commentary on the Pentateuch of Moses, and an Excursus on the "Song of Songs".
The PriestMartyr Philippikos the Presbyter and the Martyress Barsima with Two Brothers were beheaded for their confession of faith in Christ.
Sainted Gregory (Nazianzus) the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople, an ecumenical father and teacher of the Church, was born into a Christian family of eminent lineage in the year 329, at Arianzos (not far from the city of Cappadocian Nazianzos). His father, likewise a Sainted Gregory, was Bishop of Nazianzos (Comm. 1 January); but of these two father and son, the son is the Saint Gregory Nazianzus encountered in Patristic theology. His mother, Saint Nonna (+ 374, Comm. 5 August), prayed God for a son, having given a vow to dedicate him to the Lord. As was revealed to her in a dream, she accordingly named her first-born Gregory. When the son learned to read, his mother presented him with the Holy Scripture. Saint Gregory received a quite complete and extensive education: after working at home with his uncle Saint Amphylokhios, an experienced teacher of rhetoric, he then studied in the schools of Nazianzos, Caesarea Cappadocia and Alexandria. Then for the finishing touches to his education, the saint set off to Athens. On the way from Alexandria to Hellas [Greek name for Greece] (352), during the time of a terrible storm of many days, he was apprehensive only that "the murderous waters would deprive him of the waters of cleansing". "For twenty days and nights, -- relates Saint Gregory, -- I lay at the ship's stern, beseeching the merciful God for salvation, and at this perilous time I gave a vow to dedicate myself to God, being saved through this vow".
The saint spent six years at Athens, and there studied rhetorics, poetics, geometry and astronomy. His teachers were the reknown pagan rhetoricians Gymorias and Proeresias. Together with Saint Gregory, there also studied there Saint Basil, the future Archbishop of Caesarea Cappadocia (+ 379, Comm. 1 January). Their friendship, formed while still back in school in Caesarea, flourished in a deep spiritual closeness. But their acquaintance with Julian, the future emperor (361-363) -- and apostate from the Christian faith, soon turned into implacable enmity.
Upon completing his education, Saint Gregory remained for a certain while at Athens and taught the rhetoric eloquence of speech. He knew well the pre-Christian pagan philosophy and literature.
In the year 358 Saint Gregory quietly quit Athens and returned to his parents at Nazianzos. And here he at almost 30 years of age received Baptism from his father. Since now it was for him "become more significant to be a follower of God, than foremost with the emperor", he vacillated only on which way was to be "the preference: contemplative or practical".
At the suggestion of Saint Basil he withdrew into the wilderness, so as to asceticise alongside him.
But at the demand of his father, Saint Gregory returned to Nazianzos in 361 and received the dignity of presbyter. Sensing however, that solitude and silent prayer were immeasurably closer to his liking than pastoral activity, Saint Gregory again hastened into the wilderness to Saint Basil. There in the wilderness he strengthened in spirit, found the wherewithal to return to his flock and properly do his duty. And there soon befell Saint Gregory the hard task of reconciling the bishop with his flock, which condemned their pastor for signing an ambiguous interpretation of the dogmas of the faith. Saint Gregory gave the flock time for expression of feelings first, and then he convinced his father to openly acknowledge his mistake. After this, and uttering a sermon on the need for reconciliation, Saint Gregory accomplished his intent. Sainted Basil the Great made Saint Gregory bishop of the city of Sasima, but in order to assist his dying father, Saint Gregory remained at Nazianzos, and for a certain while after the death of his father he guided the flock of this city.
Upon the death of the Constantinople patriarch Valentus in the year 378, the Antioch Council invited Saint Gregory to help the Constantinople Church, which at this time moreso than at others was ravaged by heretics. Having received the consent of Saint Basil the Great, Saint Gregory came to Constantinople upon the Patriarchal throne. In the year 379 he began to serve and preach in a not-large house church of his kinsmen. He named this church "Anastasis" ("Voskresenie" or "Resurrection"), believing that in this small church he would begin to resurrect Orthodoxy. Heretics ruled everywhere -- whether they be Arians or Appolinarians. And the more loudly resounded his preaching, the more fully increased the gathering in church, and by this more bitterly grew the opposition of the heretics. On the night of Pascha 21 April 379, when Saint Gregory was making Baptism of the newly-illumined, a mob of armed heretics burst into the church and showered an hail of rocks upon the Orthodox, killing one bishop and wounding Saint Gregory. But the fortitude and mildness of the saint were his best armour, and his words regathered the Orthodox.
The compiled works of Saint Gregory -- discourses, letters, verses -- all show, that he strove to be a worthy preacher of the truth of Christ. A gift of words was bestown him, and the saint sought to offer it in gift to God -- the Word: ""This gift offer I up to my God, this gift I do dedicate to Him: -- this alone, is what I have remaining as my riches; I gave up all else at the command of the Spirit; everything that I had, I gave in exchange for the pearl of great price. Only in words do I master it, as a servant of the Word; never intentionally would I wish to disdain this wealth, I esteem it, I set value by it, I am comforted by it more, than others are comforted by all the treasures of the world. It -- is the companion of all my life, a good counselor and converser; a guide on the way to Heaven and a fervent co-ascetic". In order to worthily preach the Word of God, the saint assiduously prepared and revised his works.
In five Sermons -- "Discourses on Theology", dealing with those inclined towards the verbose reasonings of Eunomios, Saint Gregory first of all gives a precise definition, who it is from whom and when that they can theologise. Only those who are experienced can properly reason about God, those successful at contemplation and, foremost of all, pure in soul and body, or in utmost measure cleansed of self. To reason about God properly is possible only for one who enters into it with fervour and reverence. Explaining, that God has concealed His Essence from mankind, Saint Gregory demonstrates, that "by means of flesh it is impossible to view mental objects without admixture of the corporeal". To theologise talking about God in a positive sense is possible only when we become free from the external impressions of things and from their affects, when our guide -- the mind, does not adhere to impure transitory images. Answering the Eunomians, who would presuppose by means of logical speculation to grasp at the Essence of God, the saint declared that man perceives God, when he is commensurate in form with the Divine Principle, i.e. when the mind co-unites with the commensurate Essence. Furthermore, the example of the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets and also the Apostles has demonstrated, that for earthly man the Essence of God is incomprehensible. Saint Gregory cited by way of example the futile sophistry of Eunomios: "God begat the Son either through His will, or contrary to will. If He begat contrary to will, then He underwent constraint. If by His will, then the Son is the Son of His intent".
Confuting suchlike reasoning, Saint Gregory points out the harm done by it to man: "Thou thyself, who speaketh so thoughtlessly, hast thou issued forth by intent or not by the intent of thy father? If not by intent, then also thy father underwent compulsion in it. From whom? To demonstrate this in nature thou cannot: it would favour chasteness. And if by intent, then on account of a few syllables thou dost deprive thyself of thy father; wherein thou dost make thyself a son by self intent, rather than of thy father". Saint Gregory then turns himself to Holy Scripture, with particular attention examining a place, where it points out the Divine Nature of the Son of God. The repetitive interpretations of Saint Gregory on Holy Scripture are devoted to revealing the thought, that the Divine power of the Saviour was actualised even when on account of the Salvation of mankind He took upon Himself an impaired human nature. But another place in these Sermons of Saint Gregory is occupied by polemics against the Eunomians for their blaspheming of the Holy Spirit.
Closely examining everything that is said in the Gospel about the Third Person of the MostHoly Trinity, the saint refutes the heresy of Eunomios, which rejected the Divinity of the Holy Spirit. He comes to two fundamentally posited results. First, in reading Holy Scripture, it is necessary to reject blind literalism and to study so as to perceive its spiritual sense. Second, in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit operated hiddenly. In the New Testament "the Holy Spirit doth reside with us and in most evident form doth disclose Itself before us. As long as they did not acknowledge God the Father, they could not properly preach about the Son, and as long as they did not accept the Son, they could not, expressing it somewhat boldly, additionally burden us with the Holy Spirit. The Divinity of the Holy Spirit -- is a sublime subject. Here before us is a mass of testimony. Christ is born -- the Holy Spirit precedes this; Christ is baptised -- the Spirit witnesses to this; Christ works miracles -- the Spirit collaborates; Christ ascends -- the Spirit comes in place of Him. And what indeed is great and Divine, that He is not capable of? What Name, appertaining to Divinity, does not apply to Him, except for UnBegotten and Begotten?...I am amazed, when I see such a richness of titles, -- I tremble when I consider, which Name it is they do blaspheme, they who do so revolt against the Spirit!"
The content of the Sermons of Saint Gregory does not consist in this alone. He wrote also: five laudatory tracts, ten interpretations of feastdays, two discourses of reproach against Julian the Apostate -- "two pillars, on which is indelibly written the impiety of Julian for posterity", and preachings on other themes. In all, 45 sermons of Saint Gregory have been preserved. The letters of the saint compare with his best theological works. All of them are masterfully elaborated while yet brief, for the most part. In his hymns as in everything, Saint Gregory lived for Christ. "If the lengthy tracts of the heretics, -- be indeed new psalters, at variance with David, and -- the pretty verses they honour be as a third testament: then we also shalt sing psalms, and begin to write much and compose poetic metres", -- said the saint. About his poetic gift the saint wrote thus: "I -- am an organ of the Lord and sweetly by intricacy of song of the MostHigh I do glorify the King: all atremble before Him".
The fame of the Orthodox preacher spread through East and West. But the saint lived in the very capital just as though he lived still in the wilderness -- "his food was food of the wilderness; his clothing -- whatever necessary; his making of rounds was without pretense, and being in proximity of the court -- he sought nothing from the court". During a time of sickness the saint was given a shock. One whom he reckoned as his friend, the philosopher Maximos, was consecrated in place of Saint Gregory at Constantinople. Struck by the ingratitude of Maximos, the saint decided to resign the cathedra, but his faithful flock restrained him from it. The people threw the usurper out of the city. On 24 November 380 the holy emperor Theodosius arrived in the capital and, in enforcing his decree against the heretics, the chief church was returned to the Orthodox, with Saint Gregory solemnly making entrance. Soon an attempt on the life of Saint Gregory was in the offing, but the one who was to be the assassin instead appeared before the saint with tears of repentance.
In the year 381 at the Second OEcumenical Council, Saint Gregory was confirmed in the dignity of Constantinople Patriarch. Upon the death of the Antioch Patriarch Meletios, Saint Gregory presided at the Council. Hoping to reconcile the West with the East, he offered to recognise Paulinos as Antioch Patriarch. But with the arrival of those who earlier had acted against Saint Gregory on the side of Maximos -- particularly Egyptian and Macedonian bishops, they did not want to acknowledge the saint as Patriarch of Constantinople. Saint Gregory decided to sacrifice himself for the peace of the Church: "Let me be as the Prophet Jonah! I was guilty for the storm, but I would sacrifice myself for the salvation of the ship. Grab hold and throw me... I was not happy when I ascended the throne, and gladly would I descend it". Having explained to the emperor about his wish to quit the capital, Saint Gregory appeared again at the Council, in a farewell address asking it to let him depart in peace.
Upon his return to his native region, Saint Gregory concerned himself about the incursion of Appolinarian heretics into the Nazianzos flock, and he established there as bishop the pious Eulalios, while he himself withdrew into the solitude of Arianzos so dear to his heart. Not forsaking the wilderness, the saint with zeal for the truth of Christ continued to affirm Orthodoxy through his letters and verses. In the year 389 he died, on 25 January, being honoured by the Church with the title "Theologian" bestown also on that beloved disciple of Christ -- the holy Evangelist and Apostle John.
"I want to speak boldly and forcefully, so that ye may be made the best, so that ye may turn from flesh to spirit, so that in right manner ye progress in spirit", -- said Saint Gregory the Theologian.
In his works Saint Gregory, just like that other Theologian Saint John, directs everything towards the Praeternal Word. The Monk John Damascene (Comm. 4 December), in the first part of his book "Exposition on the Faith", followed the lead of Saint Gregory the Theologian.
The body of Saint Gregory was buried at Nazianzos. In the year 950 the holy relics were transferred to Constantinople into the church of the Holy Apostles. Later on part of the relics were transferred to Rome. Tradition has preserved the features of the saint as: "a face humble, pale, eyebrows standing up thick, a meek glance, beard not long, but thick and broad". His contemporaries already called the archpastor a saint. The Orthodox Church, terming Saint Gregory a second Theologian and mystery-insightful luminous writer of the Holy Trinity, recourses thus to him in the songs of Divine-services: "By the theology of thy tongue rhetoric wrangling is undone, O glorious one, thou hast adorned the Church with the fabric of Orthodoxy woven from on high: rejoice, O father, thou utmost mind Theological". [from Kondak].
Sainted Moses (Moisei), Archbishop of Novgorod (1325-1330, 1352-1359), in the world Mitrophan, was born at Novgorod. In his youth he secretly left his parental home and entered the Tver Christ-Child monastery, where he took monastic vows. His parents found him, and at their insistence he transferred to the Kolmov monastery near Novgorod. At this monastery he was ordained to the dignity of priestmonk, and later at Yur'ev monastery he was elevated to archimandrite. After the death of the Archbishop David, Sainted Peter (+ 1326, Comm. 21 December) consecrated him in 1325 to the dignity of Archbishop of Novgorod. But Saint Moses did not guide the Novgorod flock for long. The quarrels and contentious factions, the conflagrations and other misfortunes weighed heavily on his soul, which sought for monastic solitude. In 1330 the saint withdrew to the Kolmov monastery for tranquillity. But here also he did not long remain. Having searched out a desolate spot at Derevyanitsa, he built there a stone church of the Resurrection of Christ. At this place the monk spent more than twenty years at monastic deeds. Having yielded to the requests of the Novgorod people to be their spiritual head, he returned anew to his flock. The ancient chronicler describes Saint Moses thus: "He shepherded his flock like a good pastor; he defended the downtrodden, and protected destitute widows; having gathered a company of copyists, on his account many a book was written, and he confirmed many things in piety by his guidances".
In the year 1354 the Constantinople Patriarch Philotheos (1354-1355, 1362-1376) in token of deep respect for Saint Moses gave permission for him to make use of an ancient prerogative of Novgorod hierarchs -- to wear the Polystaurion garb ("Krestchataya Riza", meaning "of many crosses"), which also he sent him. He likewise permitted Saint Moses to deal directly without intermediaries with the Constantinople Patriarch. Archbishop Moses continued for seven years the second time around as hierarch, a period marked by the building of many churches in Novgorod and its surroundings. In 1352 a stone church in honour of the Dormition (Uspenie) of the MostHoly Mother of God was built by the saint at Volotova; in 1355 a monastery was built in a locality named Skovorodka, with a stone church in honour of the holy Archistrategos of God Michael; in 1357 also churches were built at three monasteries: at Radogovitsa near the Volotovsk Dormition church, and at the Spirit (Dukhov) monastery and at a women's monastery -- churches in the name of Saint John the Theologian (the first and third of these monasteries were founded by Saint Moses).
In 1359, feeling weak and sick, the saint withdrew into the Skovorodsk monastery founded by him in the name of the holy Archistrategos of God Michael. Saint Moses asceticised here until his death on 25 January 1362. He was buried at the cathedral church.
The archbishop of Novgorod Sergei, in 1484, having come to this cathedra from Moscow, gave orders to a priest to open up the grave of Saint Moses. "I dare not, Vladyka, to be so bold as to open up the relics of the sainted hierarch. It is thy task as hierarch to open the grave of an hierarch", -- answered the priest. "Look what is on this corpse!" -- said the infuriated archbishop, but he was soon punished. Having gone insane, he was not able to govern the cathedra and did not become well, until he took the schema at the Khutynsk monastery (+ 1504 at Trinity Sergeev monastery).
The establishing of a feastday to Sainted Moses on 19 April is connected with a proper opening of his undecayed relics in 1686.
Saint Felicita was born of a rich Roman family. Pagan priests made reports of denunciation against her for insulting the gods through spreading the Christian faith. Saint Felicita gave off all her possessions, and together with her sons openly confessed faith in Christ. They were all handed over to torture. Saint Felicita, seeing the suffering of her sons, besought God, that they would stand firm and enter the Heavenly Kingdom before her. All the sons died as martyrs before the eyes of their mother. After them, Saint Felicita herself underwent a martyr's death. The holy family suffered at Rome in about the year 164. Sainted Gregory Dialogus gave a laudatory sermon for the Martyress Felicita in a third talk, preached in a church named for her.
The Monk Poplios of Syria was born in the city of Zeugma on the Euphrates and had the rank of senator. Renouncing the world, he gave off his possessions, took monastic vows and asceticised in a cave on a mountain in the Syrian wilderness, where he founded two monasteries: one for Greeks, and another for Syrians. He died in the year 380. Of his disciples who imitated Saint Poplios -- Saints Theoteknos, Theodotos and Athonios were in particular glorified by sanctity of life. Saint Poplios in guiding the monastery for over 40 years was eventually granted the dignity of archimandrite, but being elevated in rank he changed neither his garb nor his manner of life, remaining instead a strict ascetic.
The Monk Maros the Singer asceticised for 37 years in the village of Omir, not far from the city Kyr' in Syria, dwelling in a crude hut. He ate rough food, and wore clothes from the hide of wild goats. For his handsome face, his delicate and pleasing voice, he was called a singer. The monk died peacefully at age 60, in about the year 430.
The Monk Xenophontes, his spouse Maria and their sons Arkadios and John, were noted citizens of Constantinople and lived in the V Century. Despite riches and position, they distinguished themselves by their simplicity of soul and goodness of heart. Wishing to give their sons John and Arkadios a more complete education, they sent them off to the Phoenician city of Beirut. Through Divine Providence the ship on which both brothers sailed became ship-wrecked. The brothers were pitched by the waves onto shore at different places. Aggrieved at being separated, the brothers dedicated themselves to God and accepted monasticism. For a long time the parents received no news about their children and presumed them to have perished. Xenophontes, however, now already quite old, maintained firm hope in the Lord and consoled his wife Maria, telling her not to sorrow but to believe that their children were watched over by the Lord. After several years the spouses made pilgrimage to the Holy places and at Jerusalem they met their sons, pursuing asceticsm at different monasteries. The joyful parents gave thanks to the Lord for providently re-uniting the whole family. For the remainder of their lives, the monastics Xenophontes and Maria dedicated themselves to God and accepted monasticism. The Monks Arkadios and John, having taken leave of their parents, went out into the wilderness, where after long ascetic toil they were glorified by gifts of wonderworking and perspicacity. The monastic elders Xenophontes and Maria, having pursued asceticism in silence and strict fasting, also received of God the gift of wonderworking.
The Holy Martyrs Ananias the Presbyter, Peter the Prison Guard, and with them 7 Soldiers, suffered in Phoenicia in the year 295. During the time of persecution against christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), Saint Ananias was brought before Maximus the governor of Phoenicia, for confessing faith in Christ and refusal to worship idols. They beat him with hammers, burnt at him with fire, and on his scorched body they sprinkled salt. After his terrible sufferings, an idolatrous temple and the idols standing in it were destroyed through the prayers of the holy martyr. They locked up the holy martyr in prison. Stationed as witnesses to the tortures of holy presbyter Ananias and guarding him, were Peter and 7 other soldiers who came to believe in Christ. For this they were drowned in the sea after lengthy torture. For their act of martyrdom they, together with the holy martyr Ananias, received from Christ crowns of glory.
The Monk Simeon the Old was called this in distinction from the Monk Simeon the Stylite (Comm. 1 September). He practised asceticism in Syria in the V Century, and in his childhood years went out into the Syrian wilderness and settled in a cave in complete solitude. Constant prayer, inner meditation and thought about God were his constant occupation. The ascetic ate only the grass which grew about his cave. When people began to come to him to receive guidance, he in wishing to preserve his silence left his cave and settled on one of the mountains of the Aman range. But here also his ascetic solitude was disturbed by a throng of visitors. The Monk Simeon then withdrew onto Mount Sinai, where formerly the Prophet Moses (Comm. 4 September) received revelation from God. By Divine Providence, after a short stay on Sinai the holy ascetic returned to Aman and founded two monasteries: one at the top of the mountain, the other at its base. Being head of these monasteries, the Monk Simeon spiritually guided the monks, warning them about the wiles of the enemy of humankind, and he taught them to struggle against temptations. He inspired and encouraged them in ascetic deeds, rousing them to meditate about salvation. Because of the holiness of his life the Monk Simeon received of God the gift of grace-abundant wonderworking. After the many toils of his ascetic life the Monk Simeon expired to God in about the year 390.
Sainted Joseph, ArchBishop of Soluneia / Thessalonika, was brother of the Monk Theodore the Studite, and together with him pursued asceticism under the guidance of the Monk Platon (Comm. 5 April) at the Sakudion Monastery. Because of his ascetic life, the monk Joseph was unanimously chosen archbishop of the city of Soluneia. Together with his brother he came out against the unlawful marriage of the emperor Constantine (780-797), for which after torture he was condemned to confinement on a wild island. The emperor Michael Rangabes (811-813) freed Saint Joseph from imprisonment. Under the emperor Leo V the Armenian (813-820) the sainted hierarch again suffered together with his brother the monk Theodore for their veneration of holy icons. In prison they subjected him to torture, but he remained steadfast in his faith. The iconoclast emperor demanded him to sign the iconoclast confession of faith; for his refusal they threw him into another more fetid prison. Under the emperor Michael the Stammerer (820-829) Saint Joseph was set free, together with other monks that had suffered for their veneration of icons. He spent his final years at the Studite Monastery, where he died in 830. Sainted Joseph, ArchBishop of Soluneia, is reknown as a spiritual melodist. He compiled three odes and stikhera of the Lenten Triodion, a canon of repentance for the Sunday of Prodigal Son and other church-song. He wrote several sermons for feastdays, of which the best known is the Sermon on the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross of the Lord.
Holy NobleBorn David III the Restorer, Emperor of Iveria and Abkhazia (1089-1125; by other accounts 1084-1125; in the contemporary writings of David IV the Builder), -- influenced the working of government, culture and church in Gruzia / Georgia. He was educated by his priest -- the monk Arsenii of Ikaltoi (+ 1127, Comm. 6 February), reknown for his theological and encyclopaeic learning.
The Gruzian nation gave Holy Tsar David the title "Restorer" (Vozobnovitel') for his great efforts to renew Gruzia for his great effort in the restoration of Gruzia and the re-invigoration of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Gruzia, mercilessly devastated by the Turks and suffering from internal strife, was united under the sceptre of David the Restorer into a strong centralised state. The Georgian Church, whose flourishing the tsar considered to be a guarantee for the security and unity of the state, became an object of his particular care. Saint David was distinguished for his deep piety -- he sacredly honoured the church canons and by his power kept and affirmed them. Through the initiative of Saint the Restorer, a Church Council was convened in the year 1103 at Ruisa, the decrees of which contributed to the strengthening of the canonical life of the Church and affirming church piety.
An highly educated man, Saint David patronised a diversity of sciences. He founded the scholarly academies at Gelatia and Ikaltoi. During the reign of Saint David the Restorer, tens of churches and monasteries were built in Gruzia, and he built new cities and renewed old ones. The pious tsar displayed great concern for the well-being and prosperity of Georgian monasteries in Palestine and on Sinai, in Antioch and on Holy Mount Athos. When Saint David decided to erect a church in the name of the GreatMartyr George, to whose patronage he constantly resorted in his wars for liberation, Saint George appeared to him then in a vision and showed him the place for raising up the temple.
Thinking of peace-making as fulfillment of the Lord's commandment (Mt. 5: 9), Tsar David reconciled the Kipchak khan Atrak with the Ossetian people and brought peace into the Dar'yal' Valley.
In 1123, shortly before his death, the pious tsar liberated Armenia from Turkish dominion. He ordered churches to again be reconsecrated, having been transformed by the Turks into mosques. According to tradition, when the tsar entered into one of the churches to the grave of his grandmother -- the spouse of the Armenian emperor Gagik I, and said: "Rejoice, tsaritsa! God hath delivered thy church from the Hagarites", suddenly a voice was heard: "Thanks be to God!" The concern of Tsar David about reunion with the Armenian Church resulted in the convocation of a Church Council in the city of Ano, at which a part of the Armenian monophysite bishops swayed towards an acceptance of Orthodoxy (but in its entirety the Sobor did not arrive at the desired results). The patriotic efforts of Saint David did not hinder him from accomplishing spiritual efforts. From his early years the saint had the foundation of wisdom -- the fear of God (Proverbs 1: 7), inspiring him to good deeds and aims. A beloved preoccupation of saint David was the reading of Holy Scripture. The "Penitential Kanon" composed by him testifies to his profound spirituality, and consists of nine sorrowful and moving odes.
Sensing the approach of death, holy Tsar David composed a spiritual testimony in which, having transferred the ruling of the country to his son Dimitrii, he wrote: "Now doth the Divine Providence of the Righteous God call me away, and it summon to the destined kingdom... All that I have accomplished is by the power of the Venerable LifeCreating Wood of the Cross and to it I do account its Sign bringing me bliss". Having been communed the Holy Mysteries, "with praise on his lips he offered up his soul to the Lord in his 53rd year of life, on Saturday 24 January 1125". The tsar was buried at Gelatia Monastery, under the entrance to the church at the gate. Some while later his relics, having been glorified by signs of Divine mercy, were transferred beneathe the altar-table of the cathedral church. At the end of the XIII Century holy tsar David III the Restorer was beatified, and a service then was composed to him. His commemoration is celebrated on 26 January.
Sainted John Chrysostom -- a great ecumenical teacher and hierarch, died in the city of Comene in the year 407 on his way to a place of exile, having been condemned by the intrigues of the empress Eudoxia because of his daring denunciation of the vices ruling over Constantinople. The transfer of his venerable relics was made in the year 438: after 30 years following the death of the saint during the reign of Eudoxia's son emperor Theodosius II (408-450).
Saint John Chrysostom had the warm love and deep respect of the people, and grief over his untimely death lived on in the hearts of christians. Saint John's student Saint Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople (434-447), making Divine-services in the Church of Saint Sophia, preached a sermon which in glorifying Saint John he said: "O John! Thy life was filled with difficulties, but thy death was glorious, thy grave is blessed and reward abundant through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. O graced one, having conquered the bounds of time and place! Love hath conquered space, unforgetting memory hath annihilated the limits, and place doth not hinder the miracles of the saint". Those who were present in church, deeply touched by the words of Saint Proclus, did not allow him even to finish his sermon. With one accord they began to entreat the Patriarch to intercede with the emperor, so that the relics of Saint John might be transferred to Constantinople. The emperor, overwhelmed by Saint Proclus, gave his consent and made the order to transfer the relics of Saint John. But the people dispatched by him were by no means able to lift up the holy relics -- not until that moment when the emperor realising his oversight that he had not sent the message to Saint John, humbly beseeching of him forgiveness for himself and for his mother Eudoxia. The message was read at the grave of Saint John and after this they easily lifted up the relics, carried them onto a ship and arrived at Constantinople. The reliquary coffin with the relics was placed in the Church of the holy Martyr Irene. The Patriarch opened the coffin: the body of Saint John had remained without decay. The emperor, having approached the coffin with tears, asked forgiveness. All day and night people did not leave the coffin. In the morning the reliquary coffin with its relics was brought to the Church of the Holy Apostles. The people cried out: "Receive back thy throne, father!" Then Patriarch Proclus and the clergy standing at the relics -- saw Saint John open his mouth and pronounce: "Peace be to all".
In the IX Century the feastday in honour of the transfer of the relics of Sainted John Chrysostom was written into church singing.
The Monk Ephrem the Syrian, a teacher of repentance, was born at the beginning of the IV Century (his precise year of birth is unknown) in the city of Ninevah (Mesopotamia) into the family of impoverished toilers of the soil. His parents raised their son in piety. But from the time of his childhood he was known for his quick temper and irascible character, and in his youth he often had fights, he acted thoughtlessly, and even doubted of God's Providence, until he finally recovered his senses from the Lord's doing, guiding him on the path of repentance and salvation. One time he was unjustly accused of the theft of a sheep and was thrown into prison. And there in a dream he heard a voice, calling him to repentance and rectifying his life. After this, he was acquitted of the charges and set free.
Within Ephrem there took place a deep repentance. The youth withdrew outside the city and became an hermit. This form of Christian asceticism had been introduced at Ninevah by a disciple of the Monk Anthony the Great, -- the Egyptian Wilderness-Dweller Eugenios (Eugene).
Among the hermits especially prominent was the noted ascetic, a preacher of Christianity and denouncer of the Arians, the bishop of the Ninevah Church, Saint James (Comm. 13 January). The Monk Ephrem became one of his disciples. Under the graced guidance of the holy hierarch, the Monk Ephrem attained to Christian meekness, humility, submission to the Will of God, and the strength without murmur to undergo various temptations. Saint James knew the high qualities of his student and he used them for the good of the Ninevah Church -- he entrusted him to read sermons, to instruct children in the school, and he took Ephrem along with him to the First OEcumenical Council at Nicea (in the year 325). The Monk Ephrem was in obedience to Saint James for 14 years, until the bishop's death.
After the capture of Ninevah by the Persians in the year 363, the Monk Ephrem abandoned the wilderness and settled in a monastery near the city of Edessa. Here he saw many a great ascetic, passing their lives in prayer and psalmody. Their caves were solitary shelters, and they fed themselves off a certain plant. He became especially close with the ascetic Julian (Comm. 18 October), who was one with him in a spirit of repentance. The Monk Ephrem combined with his ascetic works an incessant study of the Word of God, gathering within it for his soul both solace and wisdom. The Lord gave him a gift of teaching, and people began to come to him, wanting to hear his guidances, which produced a particular effect upon the soul, since he began with self-accusation. The monk both verbally and in writing instructed everyone in repentance, faith and piety, and he denounced the Arian heresy, which during those times was disrupting Christian society. And pagans likewise, listening to the preaching of the monk, were converted to Christianity.
He also toiled no little at the interpretation of Holy Scripture -- with an explication of the Pentateuch (i.e. "Five Books") of Moses. He wrote many a prayer and church-song, thereby enriching the Church's Divine-services. Famed prayers of Saint Ephrem are to the MostHoly Trinity, to the Son of God, and to the MostHoly Mother of God. He wrote for his Church song for the Twelve Great Feastdays of the Lord (the Nativity of Christ, the Baptism, the Resurrection), and funereal song. Saint Emphrem's Prayer of Repentance, "O Lord and Master of my life...", is said during Great Lent, and it summons Christians to spiritual renewal. The Church since times ancient valued highly the works of the Monk Ephrem: his works were read in certain churches, at gatherings of the faithful, after the Holy Scripture. And now at present in accord with the Church Ustav (Rule), certain of his instructions are prescribed to be read on the days of Lent. Amidst the prophets, Saint David is pre-eminently the psalmodist; amidst the holy fathers of the Church the Monk Ephrem the Syrian -- is pre-eminently a man of prayer. His spiritual experience made him a guide to monks and an help to the pastors of Edessa. The Monk Ephrem wrote in Syrian, but his works were very early translated into the Greek and Armenian languages, and from the Greek -- into the Latin and Slavonic languages.
In numerous of the works of the Monk Ephrem are encountered glimpses of the life of the Syrian ascetics, the centre of which involved prayer and with it thereupon the toiling for the common good of the brethren, in the obediences. The outlook of the meaning of life among all the Syrian ascetics was the same. The end purpose of their efforts was considered by the monks to be communality with God and the diffusion of Divine grace within the soul of the ascetic; the present life for them was a time of tears, fasting and toil.
"If the Son of God be within thee, then also His Kingdom is within thee. Here then is the Kingdom of God -- within thee, a sinner. Go inwards into thine self, search diligently and without toil thou shalt find it. Outside of thee -- is death, and the door to it -- is sin. Go inwards into thine self, dwell within thine heart, for since there -- is God". Constant spiritual sobriety, the developing of good within the soul of man gives unto him the possibility to take upon himself a task like blessedness, and a self-constraint like sanctity. The requital is presupposed in the earthly life of man, it is an undertaking by degrees of its spiritual perfection. Whoso grows himself wings upon the earth, says the Monk Ephrem, is one who soars up into the heights; whoso down here purifies his mind -- there glimpses the Glory of God; in what measure each one loveth God -- is that measure wherein is satiated to fullness by the love of God. Man, cleansing himself and attaining the grace of the Holy Spirit while still here, down upon the earth, has a foretaste therein of the Kingdom of Heaven. To attain to life eternal, in the teachings of the Monk Ephrem, does not mean to pass over from one sphere of being into another, but means rather to discover "the Heavenly" spiritual condition of being. Eternal life is not bestown man as a one-sided working by God, but rather like a seed, it constantly grows within him through effort, toil and struggle.
The pledge within us of "theosis" ("obozhenie" or "deification") -- is the Baptism of Christ, and the primal propulsion for the Christian life -- is repentance. The Monk Ephrem was a great teacher of repentance. The forgiveness of sins in the sacramental-mystery of Repentance, according to his teaching, is not an external exoneration, not a forgetting of the sins, but rather their complete undoing, their annihilation. The tears of repentance wash away and burn away the sin. And moreover -- they (i.e. the tears) vivify, they transfigure sinful nature, they give the strength "to walk in the way of the commandments of the Lord", encouraging the hope on God. In the fiery font of Repentance, wrote the Monk, "thou dost sail thyself across, O sinner, thou dost resuscitate thyself from the dead".
The Monk Ephrem, in his humility reckoning himself the least and worst of all, at the end of his life set out to Egypt, to see the efforts of the great ascetics. He was accepted there as a welcome guest and received for himself great solace in his associating with them. On the return journey he visited at Caesarea Cappadocia with Sainted Basil the Great (Comm. 1 January), who wanted to ordain him a priest, but the monk considered himself unworthy of priesthood, and at the insistence of Saint Basil, he accepted only the dignity of deacon, in which he remained until death. Even later on, Saint Basil the Great invited the Monk Ephrem to accept the cathedra-chair of a bishop, but the saint feigned folly to avoid for himself this honour, in humility reckoning himself unworthy of it.
Upon his return to his own Edessa wilderness, the Monk Ephrem intended to spend the rest of his life in solitude. But Divine Providence again summoned him to service of neighbour. The inhabitants of Edessa were suffering from a devastating famine. By the influence of his word, the monk induced the wealthy to render aid to those that lacked. From the offerings of believers he built a poor-house for the destitute and sick. The Monk Ephrem then withdrew to a cave nigh to Edessa, where he remained to the end of his days.
The Monk Theodosii (Feodosii) Sumorin of Totemsk was born at Vologda in about the year 1530. In his youth he was raised in a spirit of Christian piety and the fear of God. At the insistence of his parents he married, but family life did not sway him away from God. He went fervently to church and prayed much at home, particularly at night. After the death of both his parents and his spouse, he withdrew to the Prilutsk monastery not far from Vologda. At the monastery Theodosii passed through the various obediences: he carried water, chopped fire-wood, milled flour and baked bread. Having set out on business entrusted him by the hegumen to go to Tot'ma to search out a salt-works for the monastery, he sought the permission of tsar Ivan Vasilevich and the blessing of archbishop Nikandr to found at Tot'ma a monastery. Theodosii was appointed head of this newly-formed Totemsk monastery, which in the grammota-grant of 1554 was declared free of taxation. The monk therefore founded the Totemsk Ephremov wilderness monastery and brought brethren into it. And eventually the head of two monasteries, Theodosii continued to lead an ascetic life: he wore down his body with chains and hairshirt, and beneathe the schemamonk cowl he wore an iron cap. Fond of spiritual reading, he located for the monastery many a book. The monk reposed in the year 1568 and was buried in the monastery founded by him. At his grave miracles occurred. On 2 September 1796 at the time of a reconstruction of the Ascension church his relics were found undecayed, and their glorification was made on 28 January 1798, on the day of his repose.
The Monk Ephrem of Novotorzhsk, founder of the Borisoglebsk monastery in the city of Torzhok, was a native of Hungary. Together with his brothers, Saint Moses (Moisei) the Hungarian (Comm. 26 July) and Saint George (Slavic "Georgii"/"Yuri", or in Hungarian "Sandor" pronounced "Shandor"), he quit his native land, possibly for reasons of being Orthodox. Having come to Rus', all three brothers entered into the service of the Rostov prince Saint Boris, son of the Equal-to-the-Apostles Saint Vladimir. Saint Ephrem's brother George also perished in the year 1015 at the River Al'ta, together with holy Prince Boris. The murderers cut off his head, to take the gold medallion which hung upon his neck. Moisei (Moses) managed to save himself by flight, and became a monk at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. Saint Ephrem, evidently at this time at Rostov, and arriving at the place of the murder, found the head of his brother and took it with him. Forsaking service at the princely court, Saint Ephrem withdrew to the River Tvertsa so as to lead there a solitary monastic life. After several others settled alongside him to monasticise, in the year 1038 he founded a monastery in honour of the holy princely "Passion-Bearers" ("Strastoterptsi") Boris and Gleb. The brethren chose him to head them. Near the monastery, situated not off afar from a merchant's road to Novgorod, a wanderer's home was built, where for free stayed the poor and wanderers. The Monk Ephrem died in old age. His body was buried at the monastery founded by him, and in the grave, in accord with his last wishes, was placed the head of his brother, Saint George. The relics of the Monk Ephrem were uncovered in the year 1572.
The Monk Ephrem of Pechersk, Bishop of Pereslavsk, before his tonsure into monasticism, was treasurer and manager of household affairs at the court of the Kiev Greatprince Izyaslav (Dimitrii) Yaroslavich (1054-1068). Weighed down by his noisy and bustling life and wanting to accept monasticism, he received the blessing of Saint Antonii of Pechersk and was monasticised by the hegumen Nikon. The enraged prince demanded that Ephrem return, threatening to lock him up in prison and to destroy the monastery caves. The Monk Antonii emerged with the brethren from the monastery and decided to go to another place. Izyaslav then however feared the wrath of God, he took the advice of his wife and in disgrace withdrew his forces from the monastery. The holy Monk Ephrem was however compelled to leave. He journeyed to Constantinople and settled there in one of the monasteries. Being at Constantinople, Saint Ephrem made a copy of the Studite monastic-rule (ustav), and dispatched it to Kiev at the request of the Monk Theodosii. Receiving the ustav, the Monk Theodosii implemented it in his monastery. After the year 1072 Ephrem was made bishop in Pereslavl', and had the title of metropolitan. He adorned Pereslavl' with many beautiful churches and public edifices, and in the Greek manner he erected stone walls around the city. He built free hospices for the poor and wanderers, and constructed several public bath-houses. In the year 1091 Saint Ephrem participated in the opening and solemn transfer of the relics of the Monk Theodosii. It is known, that in former times there existed a vita (life) of the Monk Ephrem, which has not survived down to the present. We find an account about him both in the vita of the Monk Theodosii, and in the Russian Chronicles. To Saint Ephrem is ascribed a tale and laudation of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. Saint Ephrem died in the year 1098. He was buried in the Antoniev Caves of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. His memory is celebrated also both on 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Monk Palladios the Wilderness Dweller asceticised in a certain mountain cave near Syrian Antioch. For his ascetic life, he received from the Lord a gift of wonderworking. One time near his cave was found a merchant murdered by robbers. People accused Saint Palladios of the murder, but through the prayer of the saint, the dead man rose up and named his murderers. The monk died at the end of the IV Century, leaving behind him several edifying works.
The Monk Isaac the Syrian, Bishop of Ninevah, lived during the VII Century. Together with his brother he entered the monastery of Mar Matthew. His learning and lofty ascetic manner of life gained the notice of the brethren, and they proposed that he head the monastery. The Monk Issac, not wanting this and instead yearning for silence, withdrew from the monastery to an hermitage. His brother more than once urged him to return to the monastery, but the monk would not agree. However, when the fame of the holy life of the Monk Isaac had spread all around, he was elevated to the cathedra-chair of bishop of Ninevah. Seeing the crude manners of the inhabitants of the city, the monk sensed that it was beyond his ability to guide them, and moreover, he languished for the quest of the hermit's life. All this was a burden for the holy man, and in resigning as bishop, he withdrew into a skete wilderness monastery. Here he lived until his death, attaining to high spiritual perfection.
After the death of the Monk Isaac of Syria, from the early VIII Century through the beginning XVIII Century, nothing was known about him in Europe except for his name and works. Only in the year 1719 at Rome was there published a biography of the monk, compiled by an anonymous Arab author. In 1896 the account about the Monk Isaac was enlarged upon. The learned French soteriologist Abbot Charbot published the works of the Syrian history of the VIII Century by Iezudena, bishop of Barsa, wherein was located the account about the Monk Isaac the Syrian.
The Monk Lavrentii (Lawrence), Hermit of Pechersk and Bishop of Turov, in the Nearer Caves -- at first asceticised as an hermit at the monastery of the GreatMartyr Demetrios, built by Greatprince Izyaslav at Kiev near the Pechersk monastery. Later he transferred to the Pechersk monastery, and was glorified by a gift of healing. From the Pechersk monastery he was elevated in 1182 to the cathedra-seat of Turov (Turov is a city in the Minsk region) and was successor to Sainted Kirill (Cyril) of Turov. He died in 1194, and was buried in the Nearer Caves. His memory is celebrated also on 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
Sainted-Hierarchs Gerasim, Pitirim, Jona were bishops of Great Perm and Ustiug. Saint Gerasim -- was the third bishop of the Zyryan people, and a worthy successor of Saint Stefan (Stephen), Enlightener of Perm. He was elevated to the Perm cathedra-seat sometime after the year 1416, when only part of the Zyryani had been converted to Christianity. He was zealously concerned over his flock, which suffered incessant incursions from the Novgorodians and pagan Vogulians. He boldly went into the Vogul camps, urging them to cease plundering the defenseless Perm Christians. During the time of one of these journeys he died a martyr's death: he was murdered (according to tradition -- strangled with his omophor) by his Vogul servant in 1441. He was buried in the Annunciation church of the village of Ust'-Vym' not far from the city of Yarensk, at the River Vychegda (also Comm. 24 January).
The successor of Saint Gerasim was his disciple, the archimandrite Pitirim. Even during his time the Voguli had not ceased attacking the peaceful Zyryani, the settlers of the Permian land. Bishop Pitirim, just like his predecessor, stood forth for his flock. In 1447 at Moscow he personally appealed to the great-prince about rendering aid to the Zyryani. The saint often visited among his flock, which was spread out over a wide territory, instructing them in the Word of God and coming in help over their misfortunes. And to enlighten the pagan Voguli he undertook far-flung journeys, during the time of which his life was frequently in danger, and wherein he had to endure all sorts of privation. But the saint did not slacken his efforts, he enlightened and instructed people in the homes, in the churches, and in the open places.
By his preaching he converted to Christianity many of the Voguli, who lived along the tributaries of the River Pechora. By this he roused the terrible wrath of the head leader of the Voguli, named Asyk, who murdered the saint in a field during the time of his making a molieben. This occurred not far from Ust'-Vym' on 19 August 1455. Saint Pitirim compiled the vita (life) of Sainted Alexei and the canon of the uncovering of his relics.
After Saint Pitirim, Saint Jona came upon the Perm cathedra-seat. He converted to Christianity the remaining part of Great Perm, i.e. the pagan tribes living along the Rivers Vishera, Kama, Chusova and others. By his efforts the idols were eradicated and in their place was erected churches, nearby which the saint opened schools. Experienced pastors were transferred to the newly-converted at Ust'-Vym', who preached and taught at these schools.
Saint Jona reposed on 6 June 1470. His relics rest together with the relics of Saints Gerasim and Pitirim in the Annunciation temple in Ust'-Vym' (in Vologda district).
The commemoration in common of these three saints acknowledges their apostolic activity in this Eastern expanse of Russia.
The Holy Martyrs Romanos, James, Philotheos, Hyperichios, Habib, Julian and Parigoreas suffered in the year 297, during the persecution by Diocletian (284-305), in the city of Samosata (in Syria on the River Euphrates). They bravely denounced the foolish serving of idols, for which they were arrested and given over to various terrible tortures: they cut at their bodies with iron, they hung on their necks heavy iron fetters, they locked them up in prison, and finally, nailed their heads while suspended on a cross.
The Holy Martyrs Siluan the Bishop, Luke the Deacon and Mokios the Reader suffered in the city of Phoenician Emeza in 312. After tortures, imprisonment and exhaustion by hunger, they were given over for devouring by wild beasts. The holy martyrs died praying, untouched by the wild beasts. By night Christians took up the bodies of the holy martyrs and buried them with reverence.
Sainted Ignatii, Bishop of Smolensk and Wonderworker (+ c. 1210): By some accounts, Saint Ignatii was the first bishop of Smolensk. He was a friend of the Monk Avraamii (Abraham) (Comm. 21 August), whom he ordained to the priesthood. Bishop Ignatii was a kindly and pious elder, heading the trial instigated by the enemies of Saint Avraamii, at which the monk was acquitted. Saint Ignatii founded a monastery in honour of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God. To him likewise is ascribed the construction of the most ancient Avraamiev monastery in which he, in resigning as bishop, spent the remainder of his days. During the death of Saint Ignatii there occurred a miracle: "A great light came down from heaven upon him, wherein fear befell all". The relics of the saint rest in the Smolensk cathedral church.
The Monk Aphraates, by descent a Persian, having come to believe in Christ, disavowed his illustrious lineage and departed his pagan countrymen by going to Edessa, and then to Antioch, where by his holy life he attracted many and preached them the Word of God. He died in the year 370.
"Three Saints" -- the Assemblage (Sobor, Synaxis) of the Holy OEcumenical Teachers of the Church and Sainted-Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostomos: At Constantinople for a long time there raged disputes about which one of the three sainted-hierarchs should be accorded the primacy of honour. One faction of the people preferred Saint Basil (Comm. 1 January), others stood forth for Saint Gregory the Theologian (Comm. 25 January), while a third reverenced Saint John Chrysostomos (Comm. 13 November).
From this arose among church factions amongst Christians: some called themselves Basilians, others -- Gregorians, and the third -- Johannites.
In accord with the will of God, in the year 1084 the three sainted-hierarchs appeared to the Euchantine metropolitan John, and in declaring that they were equal before God, they gave orders that the disputes should stop and that a day in common celebration of their memory should be established.
The PriestMartyr Hyppolitus, and the Martyrs Censorinus, Sabinus, Chrysia the Virgin and 20 Other Martyrs suffered during the III Century.
Saint Censorinus was an high-ranking dignitary during the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius II (268-270). Through a denunciation, he was arrested and locked up in prison for his faith in Christ. There by the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ he raised up a dead person, -- as a result of which 20 soldiers, prison guards, were converted to Christ. They were beheaded together with Saint Censorinus. Then there was brought for interrogation the maiden Chrysia, who bravely confessed herself a Christian and was subjected to torture. After horrible torments she was drowned in the sea.
Saint Sabinus they struck at with an heavy hammer, and then they hung the body on a tree and burnt it. In his torments he gave up his holy soul to the Lord.
With Saint Chrysia suffered the Martyrs: Filiclus, Maximus, Herculinus, Venerius, Stiracinus, Minus, Commodus, Hermes, Maurus, Eusebius, Rusticus, Monagreus, Amandinus, Olympius, Cyprus, Theodore, Tribunus, Maximus the Presbyter, Archelaus the Deacon and Cyrenus the Bishop.
Saint Hyppolitus, Bishop of Ostia, -- a Roman sea-port at the mouth of the Tiber River, in learning about the suffering of the martyrs, despite his advanced years, showed up at the trial and denounced the torturers for their inhumanity, calling them blood-thirsty. The enraged judge gave the holy bishop over to torture. After long torments they tied him hand and foot and threw him into the sea.
All these Roman martyrs suffered in the year 269. The relics of the PriestMartyr Hyppolitus were put at Rome into a church of the holy Martyrs Lawrence and Pope Damasus. The holy PriestMartyr Hyppolitus was a student of Saint Ireneius, Bishop of Lugdunum (Lyons in France), and he likewise is reknown as a Christian theologian who had written many a composition against the heretics. Saint Hyppolitus compiled a Paschal Canon, a noted composition "About Christ", and a "Discourse concerning the Anti-Christ". Saint Hyppolitus wrote likewise many an exegesis of Holy Scripture, on the Biblical Books: Genesis, Exodus, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, and on the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John, and on the Prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, on the Psalms of David and on the Apocalyse. Part of his works are preserved only in fragments. In full are preserved his discourses, devoted to the Theophany and the Prophet Daniel. His discourses evidence his masterful style of ancient churchly preaching.
The Monk Zinon, Fast-Keeper and Toil-Lover, of Pechersk in the Farther Caves: In the Third Ode of the Canon to the Monks of the Farther Caves, he is acclaimed as "resplendid in fast". His memory is celebrated also on 28 August and the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Monk Zenon (Xeno), Teacher of Saint Basil the Great, was born in the city of Pontus into a rich family. He served at the court of the emperor Valens (364-378), amongst the soldiers with whom were sent out the imperial edicts. After the death of Valens Saint Zenon left the world and settled himself in a cave near the city of Antioch. For forty years he asceticised in this cave, and in complete solitude he lived an austere life, cleansing the soul, and occupying himself with meditation on God. The Monk Zenon went each Sunday to church and he communed the Holy Mysteries of Christ. In his cell he had neither bed nor fire-place nor lamp. The ascetic wore old rags, ate only bread and water, for which he had to make a tedious journey into the city to the well. The Monk Zenon was particularly fond of holy books, which he borrowed from those visiting him for spiritual counsel. Through his deep humility the blessed ascetic, filled with the gifts of grace, considered himself poor in spirit. The Monk Zenon died at the beginning of the V Century.
The Holy Martyr Theophilos the New was born and raised in Constantinople. He was a commander of the Greek armies and a senator. During a time of war with enemies of the Greek (Byzantine) empire, Saint Theophilos was taken captive. The Arabs demanded he renounce Christ, but he remained faithful to Orthodoxy. Then they imprisoned Saint Theophilos on Cyprus, where he spent four years, after which they beheaded him in the year 784.
Nobleborn Peter, Tsar of Bulgaria, was the son of the militant Bulgarian prince Simeon. Saint Peter was distinguished for his Christian piety, and he often turned to the Monk John of Ryl'sk (Comm. 18 August, 19 October), asking his prayers, spiritual guidance and advice. Nobleborn tsar Peter concluded peace with Byzantium on terms advantageous for Bulgaria. He gained recognition also from the Patriarch of Constantinople for the autonomy of the Bulgarian Church, and the affirmation of a Patriarchal cathedra-seat in Bulgaria, benefiting all the Bulgarian Church. Saint Peter aided in the successful extirpation of the Bogomil heresy in his lands. He died in the year 967, at 56 years of age.
The Holy Martyr Theodore was born in the city of Mytilene, where he married and raised children in Orthodox piety. Through the sufferance of God he renounced Christ and accepted Mahometanism, but soon repented himself, left his family and went off to Athos. But even in the monastery Saint Theodore was deeply anguished by his renunciation. The Lord blessed the saint in a confession of Orthodoxy afront a Mahometan judge in the year 1784. The enraged judge gave orders to fiercely torture the holy martyr, and then they strangled him with a rope and cast him into the sea. Christians buried the body of the holy Martyr Theodore in a church named for Saint John the Forerunner.
The Holy UnMercenary Cyrus was a noted physician in the city of Alexandria, where he was born and grew up. He was a Christian and he doctored all the sick for free, not only offering help for bodily ills, but healing also infirmities of soul, such as were causes of bodily sickness. Preaching the Gospel teaching, the holy physician converted many pagans to Christ. During the time of the persecution by Diocletian (284-305), Saint Cyrus withdrew into the Arabian wilderness, where he took on the monastic life, and continued there also to doctor people by his prayer, having received from God the gift to heal every sickness.
In the city of Edessa at this time lived the soldier John, a pious Christian. When the persecution started, he went to Jerusalem and there, hearing about Saint Cyrus, he began to search for him, and he went first to Alexandria and then to Arabia. Having finally found Saint Cyrus, John with all his heart became attached to him and became his faithful follower. They learned that in Egypt in the city of Canopis had been arrested the Christian Athanasia and her three young daughters: Theoktista -- age 15, Theodotia -- age 13, and Eudoxia -- age 11. Saints Cyrus and John hastened to go to them in help, worrying that fear in the face of torture might impel them to renounce Christ. They visited them in prison and gave them courage to stand what was before them. Learning of this, the governor of the city arrested Saints Cyrus and John, and convincing himself of their steadfast and fearless confession of faith in Christ, he gave them over to terrible tortures before the very eyes of Athanasia and her daughters, who in turn bravely endured all the tortures and were beheaded. After them at the same place they executed the holy UnMercenaries Cyrus and John (+ 311). Christians buried their bodies in a church of the holy Disciple and Evangelist Mark. In the V Century the relics of Saints Cyrus and John were transferred from Canopis to Manuphin. Later on their relics were transferred to Rome, and from there to Munchen (Munich) (an account further is located under 28 June).
Sainted Nikita, Bishop of Novgorod, in his youth entered the Kievo-Pechersk monastery and soon wished to become an hermit. The hegumen cautioned him that such an exploit for a young monk was premature, but he trusting in his own strength would not take heed. In the hermitage Saint Nikita fell into temptation. The devil appeared to him in the guise of an angel, and the inexperienced ascetic bowed down to him. The devil gave him advice, as it were to one having attained to perfection: "Bother not to pray, but only read and study other things, and I shall pray in place of thee", -- and he stood about the hermit, giving the appearance of seeming to pray for him. The seduced monk Nikita came to surpass everyone in knowledge of the Books of the Old Testament, but about the Gospel he would not speak, nor wanted to hear it. The Kievo-Pechersk elders went to the seduced monk, and having prayed, they drove out the devil from him. After this the Monk Nikita, remaining an hermit with the blessing of the elders, lived in strict fasting and prayer, more than anyone else practising obedience and humility. Through the prayer of the holy elders, the Merciful Lord brought him up from the depths of his fall to an high degree of spiritual perfection. Afterwards he was made bishop in Novgorod and for his holy life he was rewarded of God with a gift of wonderworking. Once during a time of drought by his prayer he brought down rain from the heavens, and another time by his prayer he stopped a conflagration in the city. Saint Nikita guided the Novgorod flock for 13 years and he died peacefully in 1109. In 1558 during the time of tsar Ioann Vasilievich, the glorification of the saint was made. His relics now rest in the church of the holy Apostle Philip in Novgorod.
The Holy Martyrs Victorinus, Victor, Nicephorus, Claudius, Diodorus, Serapion and Papias suffered at Corinth, in a persecution under the emperor Decius (249-251), in the year 251. Saints Victorinus, Victor and Nicephorus were secured into a stone mortar and died under the crushing of an huge stone pestle. Saint Claudius died after the cutting off of his hands and feet. Saint Diodorus was burnt, Saint Serapion beheaded, and Saint Papias they drowned in the sea.
The Holy Martyress Tryphena came from the city of Kyzikos. She voluntarily gave herself over to suffering for Christ. They threw her into a red-hot oven, tied her from an high tree, threw her from an height onto sharp spears, and then took her away for devouring by beasts, but the Lord preserved her unharmed. Finally, she was torn apart by a mad bull.
The MonkMartyr Elias of Ardenysia was a native of Moreia. He was noted for his prudence and goodness of heart. The people of the village loved and esteemed him and often got his advice. Through the temptation of the devil he once renounced faith in Christ, but soon he repented, and wanting to atone his sin, he withdrew to Athos, where for eight years he asceticised as a monk. Constantly torn by awareness of his sin, Saint Elias made a firm resolve to wash away his transgression by his own blood. With the blessing of his spiritual father, he set off to his native land, and in front of a throng of Turks he declared himself a Christian. They fiercely beat him and gave him a trial, which sentenced him to burning. the Lord glorified the holy martyr. He was put upon a bonfire, but the body of the martyr remained unharmed. The fire did not touch even his robe nor his hair, when his soul expired to the Lord (+ 1686). Christians buried his body in the Burkanos monastery.