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Introduction to Orthodoxy
Thou hast revealed the earthly majesty of the dwelling place of the holy glory, O Lord, as the brilliance of the firmament on high. Make firm its foundation unto ages of ages, and receive our fervent supplications which are offered to thee, there in, through the intercessions of the Theotokos, O life and Resurrection of all.
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The Holy Martyr Justin the Philosopher was born at Sykhem -- an ancient city of Samaria. Justin's parents, being Greeks, were pagan. From the time of his childhood the saint displayed profundity of mind, love for knowledge and a fervent devotion to the cognition of Truth. When he came of age he studied the various schools of Greek philosophy: the Stoics, the Peripatetics (Aristotelians), the Pythagoreans, the Platonists -- and he concluded, that none of these pagan teachings revealed the way to the knowledge of the True God.
Once, when he was strolling in a solitary place beyond the city and pondering about where to seek out the way to the knowledge of Truth, he met an old man, who in the ensuing conversation revealed to Justin the essential essence of the Christian teaching and advised him to seek out the solutions to all the questions of life in the books of Holy Scripture. "But before anything else, -- said the holy elder, -- pray diligently to God, so that He might open to thee the doors of Light. No one is able to comprehend Truth, unless it be given him in understanding by God Himself, Who revealeth it to each that seeketh Him in prayer and in love".
In his 30th year of life Justin accepted holy Baptism (between the years 133 and 137). From this time Saint Justin devoted his talents and vast philosophical knowledge to preaching the Gospel among the pagans. He began to journey about throughout the Roman empire, everywhere sowing the seeds of the faith of salvation. "Whosoever is able to proclaim Truth and does not proclaim, that one will be condemned by God", -- he wrote.
Justin opened up a school, where he preached Christian philosophy. Saint Justin subsequently defended the veracity and the salvificity of the Christian teaching, persuasively confuting pagan sophistry (thus, for example, in a debate with the Cynic philosopher Crescentius) and heretical distortions of Christianity (in particular, he spoke out against the teachings of the Gnostic, Marcian).
In about the year 155, when the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) started a persecution against Christians, Saint Justin personally gave him an "Apologia" (Apology) in defense of Christians innocently condemned to execution -- Ptolemy and Lucias, the name of a third remaining unknown. In the "Apologia" he demonstrated the falseness of the slander against Christians accused "unjustly for the mere name as loathsome and transgressive Christians". The "Apologia" made such a favourable effect upon the emperor, that he ceased with the persecution. Saint Justin journeyed with the decision of the emperor to Asia Minor, -- where they were persecuting Christians with particular severity, and he himself distributed the joyous message about the imperial edict throughout the surrounding cities and countryside.
At Ephesus occurred the debate of Saint Justin with the Rabbi Trypho. The Orthodox philosopher on the basis of the Old Testament prophetic writings demonstrated the truth of the Christian teaching of faith. Saint Justin gave an account of this debate in his work "Dialogue with Trypho the Jew".
A second "Apologia" of Saint Justin was addressed to the Roman Senate. It was written in the year 161, soon after Marcus Aurelius (161-180) ascended the throne.
Having returned to Italy, Saint Justin, like the Apostles, preached everywhere the Gospel and by his Divinely-inspired words he converted many to the Christian faith. When the saint arrived at Rome, the envious Crescentius -- whom Justin always defeated in debate -- brought against him many false accusations before the Roman court. Saint Justin was put under guard, subjected to torture and accepted a martyr's death (+ 166).
In addition to the above-mentioned works, the following array of compositions belong to the holy martyr Justin the Philosopher: "Observations about the Soul", "Demonstration against the Hellenes", "Speech against the Hellenes". Saint John Damascene preserved a significant part of a non-surviving work of Saint Justin "About the Resurrection". The church historian Eusebios asserts, that by Saint Justin were written books entitled "The Singer", "Denunciation of all Existing Heresies" and "Against Marcian".
The relics of Saint Justin the Philosopher rest in Rome.
In the Russian Church the memory of the martyr is particularly glorified in temples of his name.
The Holy Martyrs Justin, Chariton, Euelpistos, Ierax, Peonus, Valerian, Justus and the Martyress Charita suffered at the same time with Saint Justin the Philosopher, in the year 166. They were brought to Rome and thrown into prison. The saints bravely confessed their faith in Christ before the court of the city-commander Rusticus. Rusticus asked Saint Justin, whether in actuality he thought, that after undergoing tortures he would go to heaven and receive recompense from God. Saint Justin answered, that not only did he think, but truly he knew and believed in this.
The city-commander proposed to all the Christian prisoners that they offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. But he received their refusal and issued a sentence of death. The saints were beheaded.
The Monk Agapit of Pechersk, Unmercenary Physician ("Medic"), born at Kiev, a novice and student of the Monk Antonii of Pechersk, lived during the XI Century. If any of the monastic brethren fell ill, the Monk Agapit came to him and selflessly attended to the sick one; he fed him boiled herbs which he himself prepared, and the patient recovered through the prayers of the monk. Many laymen also turned for help to the monastic physician possessing the gift of healing. In Kiev at this time was an experienced Armenian physician, who by one look at a patient was able to diagnose the nature of the illness and even accurately determine the day of death. When one of these fore-doomed patients turned to Saint Agapit, the grace-bearing healer gave him to taste of food from the monastery refectory, and the patient became well. Enflamed with envy, the physician wanted to poison Saint Agapit, but the Lord preserved the monk, and the poison had no effect.
Saint Agapit healed the Chernigov prince Vladimir Monomakh, -- the future GreatPrince of Kiev (1114-1125), by having sent him boiled herbs. The grateful prince himself went to the monastery and wanted to see his healer, but the humble ascetic hid himself and would not accept gifts.
When the holy healer himself became sick, that same Armenian physician came to him and having taken a look, he said, that death would follow after three days. Before this he gave an oath to became an Orthodox monk, if his prediction were not fulfilled. The monk answered, that the Lord had revealed to him, that He would summon him only after three months.
Saint Agapit died after three months (1 June, not later than 1095), and the Armenian went to the hegumen of the Pechersk monastery and took monastic vows. "It is certain, that Agapit was a saint of God, -- said he. -- I well knew, that it was impossible for him in his sickness to last three days, but the Lord gave him three months". Thus did the monk heal sickness of the soul and guide to the way of salvation.
Our holy Father Dionysius, a native of Vologda, was one of the greatest ascetics of Russia's Northern Thebaid (See A. Muraviev, The Russian Thebiad of the North, St Petersburg, 1855), and had links to some of the most important figures of Russian monasticism, including St Cyril of White Lake (June 9), whose portrait he painted.
St Dionysius spread St Cyril's tradition of inner spiritual activity and love for the poor throughout the northern regions of Russia. He also combined within himself the Athonite traditions of his Elder St Dionysius with those of St Sergius of Radonezh (September 25 & July 5).
His Spiritual Father was St Dionysius the Athonite (October 18) who later became the Archbishop of Rostov. It was this saint who tonsured the younger Dionysius as a monk at the Spasso-Kameni Island Monastery, bestowing his own name upon him because he had such a great love for him. After nine years he left the monastery, with the blessing of his Elder, and went with his disciple Pachomius to a remote area known as St Luke, because once there had been a monastery in that place which was dedicated to the holy Apostle and Evangelist St Luke (October 18).
The two monks built a church and dedicated it to St Nicholas (December 6). Desiring even greater solitude, St Dionysius left Pachomius at St Luke's one day in 1393 and began went deeper into the Vologda forest so that he might not be deprived of an opportunity for ascetical struggles. That evening, he decided to rest for the night by the Glushitsa River. As he slept he heard the ringing of bells, which he took as a sign that he should build a monastery there. St Dionysius made a crude shelter for himself near a bird-cherry tree. The small, black cherries contain tannin and have a bitter-sweet taste. For this reason they are sometimes known as choke cherries, or hackberries. St Dionysius used to give these cherries to those who were ill, and they would then become well.
Soon disciples began to gather around the saint, not only men, but also women who thirsted for God. As disciples began to gather around him it became necessary to build cells to accomodate them. A local prince ordered woodsmen to clear a spot for the building of a monastery. Monastic cells were built, and also a small church in honor of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos (October 1).
The number of monks increased, and one night St Dionysius had a dream where he saw a young man who told him to build a larger church. The man told him that he would always have the protection of the Mother of God.
In the morning, after Matins, he informed the brethren of his dream, and told them that they should obey the young man's instructions. The church was built, and was adorned with icons painted by St Dionysius, who was an accomplished iconographer. His icon of the Dormition, which was a wonder-working icon, was given to the Monastery of the Seven Hills, which had been founded by the saint's disciples, and was also located by the Glushitsa River.
In 1407, Prince George Boktiuzhinsky expressed his wish to donate funds for the foundation of the Glushitsa Monastery. St Dionysius would not allow him to do this, but he did bless him to provide food for the brethren.
When this monastery became too crowded, St Dionysius found an isolated place called Sosnovetsk (so named because of the large, very old pine tree which grew there) on the banks of the Glushitsa River. There he built a church in honor of St John the Baptist, and a few cells for those who also desired greater solitude.
The righteous one increased his ascetical efforts, standing in prayer all night, and living on bread and water. He even dug his own grave. Once he told the brethren that they were to remain at that place, but only if he was buried there. He assured them that if they stayed, they would have their reward from God. If he was not buried there, however, he declared that they should not remain. In time the Glushitsa Monastery was abandoned, but monks continued to live at the Sosnovetsk Monastery until recent times.
St Dionysius was the first to establish a women's monastery with an Athonite Typikon. After a visit to Rostov, where his Elder Dionysius was now the Archbishop, he returned to his monastery and established a women's monastery near him, dedicating it to St Leontius of Rostov (May 23). The monastery flourished and was a model of the monastic ideal for women.
During a time of famine, St Dionysius gave alms to all who came to the monastery for assistance. When the number of people increased, his alms-giving also increased. Once the steward informed him that the monastery's supplies were almost depleted. St Dionysius rebuked him and said that their alms-giving would be a great help to the monks on the Day of Judgment. Giving to the poor, he said, was like lending to God Himself.
Before his death, he named his disciple St Amphilochius as his successor. He also heard the voice of the Mother of God, promising to protect the brethren of the monastery from every evil and necessity.
The saint's final illness began on May 29, 1437 and it was revealed to him that he would die in three days. Early on the morning of June 1, he asked his disciple St Macarius to serve the Divine Liturgy so that he would be able to receive Holy Communion for the last time. After the service he called the brothers to him so that he might give them his final blessing and bid them farewell. At six A.M. his face shone with a divine radiance, and peacefully he surrendered his soul to God at the age of 74. The cell was filled with an ineffable fragrance, and St Amphilochius saw a crown on the head of his Spiritual Father.
Many of the disciples of St Dionysius also became Igumens of other monasteries. Among them are St Amphilochius of Glushitsa (October 12), who reposed in 1452, St Gregory of Peshma (September 30). This holy wonder-worker fell asleep in the Lord in 1451. He and St Dionysius had such mutual love that they seemed to be of one mind. St Dionysius told him, "Do good while you have the time, be true in glorifying God and doing His will." St Macarius of Sosnovetsk (October 12 & May 13) was also a disciple. He completed the course of his God-pleasing life in 1480.
St Dionysius was buried at Sosnovetsk, in accordance with his desire. Through his holy prayers, may we also be found worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Sainted Nicephoros the Confessor was born in Constantinople in the second half of the VIII Century. Deep faith and preparation for the deed of confessor were instilled in him by his parents, Theodore and Eudocia. They gave their son a genuine Christian upbringing, reinforced by the example of their own life. His father suffered as a confessor of Orthodoxy under the Iconoclast emperor Constantine Copronymos (740-775). His mother, having shared in all the tribulation with her husband, followed him into exile, and after his death she returned to Constantinople and finished her life in a convent. Saint Nicephoros received a fine secular education, but most of all he studied the Holy Scriptures and he read spiritual books.
During the reign of Leo IV (775-780), Saint Nicephoros received the position of imperial counselor. Situated at the imperial court, he continued to lead a strict and virtuous life, he firmly preserved the purity of his Orthodox faith and zealously defended the veneration of holy icons. After the death of Leo IV, during the reign of Constantine VI (780-797) and his mother Saint Irene, -- at Nicea in the year 787 was convened the VII OEcumenical Council, which condemned the Iconoclast heresy. Being deeply knowledgeable in the Holy Scriptures, Saint Nicephoros in the emperor's name entered into the Council in the defense of Orthodoxy, by which he rendered great assistance to the holy fathers of the Council.
After the Council, Saint Nicephoros remained for several years at court, but the whole life of vanity all more and more became burdensome to the saint. He retired his position and settled in solitude near the Bosphorus, spending his life in scholarly work, and in quietude, fasting and prayer. Saint Nicephoros built a church, founded a monastery, and led a strict monastic life even before taking monastic vows.
During the reign of emperor Nicephorus I (802-811), and after the death of the holy Patriarch Tarasios (784-806), Saint Nicephoros was chosen to his place: he received monastic vows and the priestly dignity and was elevated to the patriarchal throne on 12 April 806, on the day of holy Pascha.
Under the emperor Leo V the Armenian (813-820), -- a passionate adherent of the Iconoclast heresy, there again began for the Church a period of unrest and persecutions. The emperor was not immediately able to begin open persecution against Orthodoxy, since Iconoclasm was condemned at the VII OEcumenical Council. The holy Patriarch continued to serve in the Great church, bolding urging the people to preserve the Orthodox faith, and he led the consequent and unremitting struggle with heresy. The emperor began to recall from exile the bishops and clergy, excommunicated from the Church by the VII OEcumenical Council. Having convened with them an heretical council, the emperor demanded that the Patriarch appear for a dispute about the faith. The Patriarch refused to argue about the faith with heretics, since the teachings of the Iconoclasts were already condemned in the anathema of the VII OEcumenical Council. He endeavoured all the more to bring the emperor and those around him to their senses, he fearlessly explained to the people the teaching about the veneration of holy icons, he wrote admonitions to the empress and to the city-governor Eutykhianos, the closest one to the imperial dignity, attaching at the end the prophetic words about a quick perishing of heretics from "the punishing hands of the Lord". Then the heretical council passed an excommunication of holy Patriarch Nicephoros and his predecessors -- the blessedly-reposing Patriarchs Tarasios and Germanos. Saint Nicephoros was sent at first to a monastery at Chrysopolis, and later -- to the island Prokonnis in the Sea of Marmara. After 13 years of deprivation and sorrow the holy Patriarch Nicephoros died in exile on 2 June 828.
On 13 March 847 the undecayed relics of the holy Patriarch Nicephoros, having lain in the ground for 19 years, were solemnly transferred to Constantinople into the cathedral church of Saint Sophia.
Saint Nicephoros was outstanding as a church activist of his times, "a credit to his era and his chair (cathedra)" and, having much served the Church, he left behind an extensive spiritual legacy -- numerous works of historical, dogmatic and canonical content.
The Holy Greatmartyr John the New, of Sochav, lived in the XIV Century in the city of Trapizund. By occupation he was a trading merchant, pious and firm in his Orthodoxy, and generous to the poor.
One time in accord with his trading activities he happened to be sailing on a ship. The captain of the ship was not Orthodox. Having entered into a discussion about the faith with Saint John, he was humiliated and held a bad grudge against the saint. During the time of the ship's stay at Belgrade by the Bosphorus, the captain went to the city-governor, -- a fire-worshipper by faith, and suggested that on his ship was a studious man, desiring to also become a fire-worshipper.
The city-governor with esteem invited Saint John to join himself to the fire-worshippers, blaspheming his faith in Christ.
The saint prayed secretly, calling on the help of the One Who said: "When however they lead forth to hand you over, be not concerned aforetime what ye shalt say, and ponder not; but what will be given you in that hour, speak ye that, since it be not ye that speaketh, but rather the Holy Spirit" (Mk. 13: 11). And the Lord gave him the courage and understanding to repudiate all the claims of the impious and to firmly confess himself a Christian. After this, the saint was so fiercely beaten with canes that all his body was lacerated, and the flesh beneathe the blows came asunder in pieces. The holy martyr prayed, thanking God, for being found worthy to shed his blood for Him to wash away his sins. Afterwards they put him in chains and dragged him away to prison. In the morning the city-governor gave orders to again bring forth the saint. The martyr came before him with a bright and cheerful face. To the repeated suggestion to recant from Christ, the intrepid martyr refused with his former firmness, denouncing the governor as a tool of satan. Then they beat him again with canes, such that all his insides were laid bare. The gathering crowd could not bear this horrible spectacle and they began to shout angrily, denouncing the governor, for so inhumanly tormenting a defenseless man. The governor, having the beating stopped, gave orders to tie the great-martyr by the legs to the tail of a wild horse to drag him through the streets of the city. Residents of the Hebrew quarter particularly scoffed over the martyr and threw stones at him; finally, someone grabbed a sword, and overtaking the dragged saint, cut off his head.
The body of the great-martyr with his cut-off head lay there until evening, and none of the Christians dared to take him. By night was seen over him a luminous pillar and a multitude of burning lamps; three light-bearing men made a singing of the Psalms and censing over the body of the saint. One of the Jews, thinking that these were Christians come to take up the remains of the martyr, grabbed a bow and wanted to shoot an arrow at them, but held by the invisible power of God, he became rigid. With the onset of morning the vision vanished, but the archer continued to stand motionless. Having told the gathering inhabitants of the city about the night vision and what was done to him by the command of God, he was freed from his invisible bonds. Having learned about the occurrence, the city-governor gave permission to bury the remains of the great-martyr. The body was buried near the local church. This occurred between the years 1330 and 1340.
The captain, who had betrayed Saint John over to torture, repented his deed and decided secretly to convey the relics to his own native country, but the great-martyr having appeared in a dream to the presbyter of the church, prevented this. After 70 years the relics were transferred to Sochav, the capital of the Moldo-Valachian principality, and placed in the cathedral church.
The Holy Martyr Demetrios was born in Philadelphia (Asia Minor) in a Christian family. In his early youth he was snatched away by the Turks and converted to Mahometanism. At age twenty-five, realising that he was torn away from the True faith, he openly confessed himself a Christian, for which he was chopped to pieces by the Turks. The holy martyr accepted suffering and death for Christ in the year 1657.
The Holy Martyr Constantine was born upon the island of Mytilene into a Mahometan family. In his youth he fell ill with smallpox, from which he completely lost his eyesight and awaited death. A certain Christian took him to church and washed him with holy water. They brought him out of the temple completely healthy.
After a prolonged searching, he received Baptism on Mount Athos and desired to shed his own blood for Christ. The starets (elder) prescribed him to dwell in seclusion in complete silence, fasting and prayer, for forty days and to put himself upon the will of God.
Saint Constantine after this, having received a blessing, confessed his faith in Christ in front of the Turks. After fierce tortures, the judge gave orders to suffocate him. Saint Constantine began his suffering deed for Christ on 23 April, and finished on 2 June 1819.
St. Blandina who was a slave in the second century and patroness of young girls. Here is all we know of her: After the miraculous victory obtained by the prayers of the Christians under Marcus Aurelius, in 174, the Church enjoyed a kind of peace, though it was often disturbed in particular places by popular commotions, or by the superstitious fury of certain governors. This appears from the violent persecution which was raised three years after the aforesaid victory, at Vienne and Lyons, in 177, while St. Pothinus was bishop of Lyons, and St. Irenaeus, who had been sent there by St. Polycarp out of Asia, was a priest of that city. Many of the principal Christians were brought before the Roman governor. Among them was a slave, Blandina; and her mistress, also a Christian, feared that Blandina lacked strength to brave the torture. She was tormented a whole day through, but she bore it all with joy till the executioners gave up, confessing themselves outdone. Red-hot plates were held to the sides of Sanctus, a deacon of Vienne, till his body became one great sore, and he looked no longer like a man; but in the midst of his tortures he was "bedewed and strengthed by the stream of heavenly water which flows from the side of Christ." Meantime, many confessors were kept in prison, and with them were some who had been terrified into apostasy. Even the heathens marked the joy of martyrdom in the Christians who were decked for their eternal espousals, and the misery of the apostate. But the faithful confessors brought back those who had fallen, and the Church, "that Virgin Mother," rejoiced when she saw her children live again in Christ. Some died in prison, the rest were martyred one by one, St. Blandina last of all, after seeing her younger brother put to a cruel death, and encouraging him to victory. Blandina was tortured for her faith; body burned and ashes thrown in the Tiber River.
The Holy Martyrs Lucillian, the Lads Claudius, Ipatius, Dionysius, and Paula the Virgin: Lucillian was a pagan priest during the time of the Roman emperor Aurelian (270-275). In his old age he became persuaded of the falseness of the pagan religion, and with all his heart he turned to the faith in Christ the Saviour, and was baptised.
Under the influence of his preaching many a pagan was converted to Christianity. Then certain Jews, out of concern for his spreading faith in the Christ crucified by them, reported against Lucillian to the Nicomedia city-governor Sylvanus, who thereupon urged the elder to return to idol-worship. For his refusal, they smashed the jawbone of Saint Lucillian, beat him with canes and suspended him head downwards, and then they locked him away in prison. Here he met up with four lads that were confessors of Christianity -- Claudius, Ipatius, Paul and Dionysius. Saint Lucillian urged them to stand firm in the faith, and to fear neither tortures nor death. After a certain while they brought them to trial and then thrown into a red-hot furnace, but suddenly rain poured down extinguishing the flames, and the martyrs remained unharmed. The governor sentenced them to death by execution, sending them off to Byzantium for carrying out the sentence. The holy lads were beheaded by the sword, and the holy Martyr Lucillian was nailed to a cross with quite many nails.
Witness to the deed of the holy martyrs was the holy Virgin Paula, who had dedicated herself to the service of those suffering for the faith in Christ. She provided food to Christian prisoners, washed their wounds, brought medications and also buried the bodies of martyrs. After the death of Saint Lucillian and the four lads, she returned to Nicomedia and continued on with her holy service. The holy virgin was arrested and cast into a furnace, but by the power of God she remained unharmed. Then they sent her off to Byzantium, where the holy martyress was beheaded by the sword.
The PriestMartyr Lucian lived in Rome, and as a pagan he had the name Lucius. He was enlightened by the light of faith in Christ by the holy Apostle Peter, and accepted Baptism. After the death of the Apostle Peter, Saint Lucian preached the Gospel in Italy. During this period there arrived in Rome Saint Dionysius the Areopagite (Comm. 3 October), a disciple of the Apostle Paul. At the request of Saint Clement, Pope of Rome (Comm. 25 November), he consented to set off preaching the Gospel in the Western lands and began to gather up companions and helpers for this. Saint Clement, having consecrated Saint Lucian a bishop, sent him off with Saint Dionysius, along with Saints Marcellinus and Saturninus, the Presbyter Maxianus and the Deacon Julian.
The holy preachers sailed from Italy to Gaul (France). Saint Marcellinus with those accompanying him continued on to Spain, Saint Saturninus -- to Gaul, and Saint Dionysius with the others -- to the region of Paris. From there Saint Lucian with Maxianus and Julian set out to Belgium.
The preaching of Saint Lucian was very successful. By the power of grace in word and the example of life, he converted to Christianity a large number of pagans. Saint Lucian was a strict ascetic, and over the course of an entire day he ate but a morsel of bread and some water. Towards the converted he was kindly, always joyful and cheerful of face. Soon almost all the settlements of Belgium were converted to the faith in Christ.
During this period, the Roman emperor Dometian (81-96) had started up a second persecution against Christians (after that of Nero, 54-68), and he issued an edict, demanding torture and execution for any that refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods.
Three officials were sent to Belgium to carry out the edict. The Lord revealed to Saint Lucian about the ordeal facing him. Having gathered the flock, he urged them not to be afraid of threats, tortures or death, and then he offered up thanksgiving to God, for having granted him the possibility to join in together with the assembly of the holy martyrs. After prayers, Saint Lucian together with Presbyter Maxianus and Deacon Julian withdrew to the summit of an hill, where he continued to teach the people accompanying him.
And here it was that the soldiers of the emperor came upon the saints, and led them away for trial. Saints Maxianus and Julian were urged to repudiate Christ and offer sacrifice to idols, but they both resolutely refused and were beheaded.
Then the judge began to interrogate Saint Lucian, accusing him of sorcery and disobedience to the emperor and senate. The saint answered, that he was not a sorcerer, but rather a servant of the True God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he refused to offer sacrifice to mere idols, wrought by human hand.
The saint was subjected to fierce beatings, during the time of which he repeated only: "Never wilt I cease in heart, faith and lips, to praise Christ, the Son of God". The holy martyr was beheaded. Over his body shone an heavenly light, and the Voice of the Saviour was heard, summoning the valiant sufferer into the Heavenly Kingdom to receive the martyr's crown. By the power of God the saint stood up, took hold his cut-off head, crossed over the river, and reaching the burial spot chosen by him, he lay down upon the ground and reposed with peace. In view of this extremely great miracle about 500 pagans were converted to Christ. Afterwards over the grave of the Martyr Lucian there was erected a church, into which also were transferred the remains of the Holy Martyrs Maxianus and Julian.
The Nun Hieria was born into a pagan family, and became the wife of a Roman senator, but after a mere 7 months was widowed. While in the Assyrian city of Seuapolis, she learned that in the vicinity of the city of Niziba there was a women's monastery, in which asceticised the young Monastic Febronia, distinguished for her particularly strict life. Under the guise of a wanderer, Hieria visited her and conversed with her all night, being instructed in the Christian faith, and then having returned home, she was baptised and persuaded her parents to do likewise.
During the time of the persecution by Diocletian (284-305), the majority of the inhabitants of the Niziba monastery left and hid away from the persecutors, but Saint Febronia was brought to trial before the cruel official Selinus and for her confession of Christ she was subjected to inhuman tortures. Saint Hieria intrepidly denounced the cruelty of the torturers. The judge gave orders to arrest and torture her also, but then he changed his mind, in learning that Saint Hieria -- was the widow of a Roman senator.
Bitterly bewailing the martyr's death of Saint Febronia (+ c. 304, Comm. 25 June), Hieria grieved, that she herself had not been vouchsafed to suffer for the faith in Christ. With tears she besought the hegumeness Brienna to accept her in place of Febronia at the monastery. Having bestown all her substance upon the monastery, the nun Hieria spent there the remaining days of her life and peacefully reposed to God in about the year 320.
Known in Ireland as Coemgen as well as Kevin, according to tradition he was born at the Fort of the White Fountain in Leinster, Ireland, of royal descent. He was baptized by St. Cronan and educated by St. Petroc. He was ordained, and became a hermit at the Valley of the Two Lakes in Glendalough. After seven years there, he was persuaded to give up his solitary life. He went to Disert-Coemgen, where he founded a monastery for the disciples he attracted, and later moved to Glendalough. He made a pilgrimage to Rome, bringing back many relics for his permanent foundation at Glendalough. He was a friend of St. Kieran of Clonmacnois, and was entrusted with the raising of the son of King Colman of Ui Faelain, by the king. Many extravagant miracles were attributed to Kevin, and he was reputed to be 120 years old at his death.
Sainted Mitrophanes, Patriarch of Constantinople, was a contemporary of Saint Constantine the Great (306-337). His father, Dometius, was by birth a brother of the Roman emperor Probus (276-282). Having reasoned out the falseness of the pagan religion, Dometius came to believe in Christ. During a time of terrible persecution of Christians at Rome, Saint Dometius set off to Byzantium with two of his sons, Probus and Mitrophanes, and began to be instructed in the law of the Lord by Bishop Titus, a man holy of life. Seeing the ardent desire of Dometius to labour for the Lord, Saint Titus ordained him presbyter. And after the death of Titus there was elevated upon the bishop's throne first Dometius (272-303), and thereafter his sons, Probus (303-315) and in 316 -- Saint Mitrophanes.
Upon a time having come to Byzantium, the emperor Constantine was delighted by the beauty and comfortable setting of the city. And having seen the holiness of life and sagacity of Saint Mitrophanes, the emperor took him back along to Rome. Soon Constantine the Great transferred the capital from Rome to Byzantium and he brought Saint Mitrophanes there. In the year 325 there was convened the First OEcumenical Council for resolving the Arian heresy. Constantine the Great had the holy fathers of the Council bestow upon Saint Mitrophanes the title of Patriarch. In such manner, the saint became the first Patriarch of Constantinople. Saint Mitrophanes was himself very old, and was not able to be present at the Council, and he sent in place of himself the khore-bishop (vicar bishop) Alexander. At the close of the Council the emperor together with the holy fathers visited with the ailing Patriarch. At the request of the emperor, the saint disclosed his choice of worthy successor to himself -- Bishop Alexander, foretelling, that after Alexander there would be elevated upon the patriarchal throne Paul (at that time a reader), and to the Patriarch of Alexandria Alexander he foretold, that his successor would be the archdeacon Saint Athanasias.
Saint Mitrophanes peacefully expired to God in the year 326, at age 117. His relics rest at Constantinople, in a church, erected in his memory.
The Holy Martyr Concordius, son of the presbyter Gordian, was raised in piety and faith in Christ, and therefore the bishop of Rome Pius made him a sub-deacon. Together with his father, Saint Concordius made fasting and prayers, and he generously distributed alms to the needy. With the permission of his father he settled not far from Rome with his kinsman Evtychius and began to spend his days in prayer and good deeds. The reknown of his pious life reached even the head of the Tussa region, Torquatus. Having summoned the saint, he urged him to renounce Christ, promising to make him a priest of the pagan gods, while Saint Concordius in turn urged Torquatus to turn to the True God -- Jesus Christ. They beat the martyr and threw him into prison. Holy Bishop Anthymus, a friend of Torquatus, made entreaty to release the prisoner to him. Saint Concordius lived with him for a certain while and was ordained presbyter. When Torquatus again summoned the saint and asked him, what he thought about his life, the saint answered, that life for him -- is Christ. They bound him and locked him up in prison, chaining him by the neck and hands to the wall. Three days later Torquatus sent his assistant to the prison, with an order demanding that the martyr either offer sacrifice to the gods, or be condemned to death. The saint cried out: "Glory to Thee, Lord Jesus Christ", and spat on the idol of Zeus carried by the soldiers. He himself bent his neck beneathe the sword. His death occurred in about the year 175. His relics rest in Italy, not far from the city of Spoleto.
The PriestMartyr Astios was bishop of the city of Dirrakheia (Macedonia) during the time of the emperor Trajan (98-117), a persecutor of Christians. The saint once had a dream, a foreboding of his impending suffering and death for Christ. He ordered his assistants to hide, and he himself was arrested and beaten fiercely with tin rods and oxhide whips. But Saint Astios did not renounce Christ. They smeared his body with honey, so as to increase his suffering with the stings of hornets and flies, and crucified him on a cross. The body of the priestmartyr was reverently buried by Christians.
The Holy Martyrs Frontasius, Severinus, Severianus and Silanus suffered for Christ under the emperor Claudius (41-54). They had been sent to preach the Word of God in Southern Gaul (now France) by the bishop of Petragorium, Frontonus. The governor, a pagan named Squiridonus, arrested them and demanded that they renounce Christ. But the martyrs firmly confessed their faith, saying they had but one desire -- to either live or die for Christ. The enraged Squiridonus gave orders to take the saints out before the city, secure them to pillars, and thrust nails into their heads in the likeness of a crown of thorns. After this they were beheaded.
And by tradition, the holy martyrs by the power of God continued to live, they took in hand their heads and went to the church of the Mother of God, where at prayer was the holy bishop Frontonus, who had sent them preaching. Putting their heads at the feet of the bishop, they then expired to God.
The Monk Zosima, Bishop of Babylon, was born in Cilicia (Asia Minor). While still a youth he left the world and settled on Mount Sinai, and later he withdrew to a more solitary place in Lebanon. One time he encountered an elderly ascetic, who foretold that he would be bishop in Babylon. When Zosima returned to Sinai, he was sent on an errand to Alexandria. The Alexandrian Patriarch made him bishop of Babylon, and into old age he wisely guided his flock. Sensing the approach of death, he returned to Sinai and there peacefully expired to God (V Century).
Saint Petroc (English: Petrock, Welsh: Pedrog, Latin: Petrocus and French: Perreux) (died 564) is a 6th century Celtic Christian saint. He was born in Wales but primarily ministered to the Britons of Dumnonia which included the modern counties of Devon (Dewnans), Cornwall (Kernow), and parts of Somerset (Gwlas an Hav) and Dorset. He also became a popular saint in Brittany by the end of the tenth century.
The earliest Life of Petroc states that he was the son of an unnamed Welsh king. This was rewritten at Bodmin in the twelfth century in a version known as the 'Gotha Life' which states that he was a son of King Glywys of Glywysing (Orme 2000, p. 215) and a brother of Gwynllyw, and there are local dedications to him at St Petroc near Pembroke and Ferwig near Cardigan. He has also given his name to Llanbedrog, a village on the Lleyn peninsula. He studied in Ireland where he is said to have been the teacher of Saint Kevin.
After studying, he began his mission to Cornwall, where he is associated with monasteries at Padstow and Bodmin. The name of the earlier monastery was Lanwethinoc (the church of Wethinoc an earlier holy man). Padstow, which is named after him (Pedroc-stowe, or 'Petrock's Place'), appears to have been his major cult centre for some time. Some time after the middle of the ninth century Bodmin became the major centre for his veneration and his relics were moved there, with the Bodmin monastery becoming one of the wealthiest Cornish churches by the eleventh century. There are other dedications to him in Cornwall, including Little Petherick, and he is even said to have converted its king, Constantine of Dumnonia, to Christianity. After thirty years, legend says that he went on the pilgrimage to Rome by way of Brittany.
Upon his return Petroc is said to have passed through Devon, where ancient dedications to him are even more numerous: a probable seventeen (plus Timberscombe just over the border in Somerset), compared to Cornwall's five. The position of churches bearing his name, including one within the old Roman walls of Exeter (Karesk), are nearly always near the coast reminding us that in those days travelling was done mainly by sea. The Devonian villages of Petrockstowe and Newton St Petroc are also named after Saint Petroc.
The legendary tales surrounding Petroc are exceptionally vivid and imaginative (giving him a second pilgrimage, travels to India, taming wolves) and may represent interpolation from pagan tales. A description of his travels has him dying on a journey to Lanwethinoc (now Padstow) at a house belonging to a family named Rovel, which is thought to be near a farm now called Treravel near Little Petherick.
The Righteous Sisters Martha and Mary were believers in Christ even before the Resuscitation by Christ of their brother Saint Lazarus. After the murder of the holy Archdeacon Stephen a persecution against the Jerusalem Church broke out, and Righteous Lazarus was cast out of Jerusalem. The holy sisters then assisted their brother in the proclaiming of the Gospel in various lands.
The Monks Eleazar and Nazarii of Olonets were founders of the monastery of Saint John the Forerunner on the island of Murma in Lake Onega. In the manuscripts of the saints they are sometimes termed Greeks, which allows them possibly to be considered disciples of the Monk Lazar of Murmansk, who had come from Constantinople.
The Martyr John, Hegumen of Monagreia, was thrown into the sea during the reign of the Iconoclast emperor Constantine Kopronymos in the year 761.
The PriestMartyr Dorotheos was bishop of the Phoenician city of Tyre, during the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Heeding the words of the Gospel (Mt. 10: 23), the saint withdrew from Tyre and hid away from the persecutors. He returned to Tyre during the reign of Saint Constantine the Great (306-337, Comm. 21 May), again occupying the bishop's throne he guided his flock for more than 50 years, and converted many of the pagans to Christianity. When the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) began openly to persecute Christians, Saint Dorotheos was already over 100 years old. He withdrew from Tyre to the Myzean city of Udum (present day Bulgarian Varna). Delegates of the emperor arrested him there. For his refusal to offer sacrifice to idols they began cruelly to torture the holy elder, and under torture he gave up his soul to the Lord (+ c. year 362, at age 107).
To Saint Dorotheos is ascribed by some the compiling of a work, "The Synopsis", a collection of sayings, and including lives of the holy prophets and apostles.
Nobleborn Prince Theodore (Feodor) of Novgorod, the elder brother of Saint Alexander Nevsky, was born in the year 1218. His princely service to his native land began at a very early age; already in 1229 both brother had been left in Novgorod by their father Yaroslav Vsevolodovich as representatives of his power. But not even a year passed before the young princes had to quit Novgorod: the turbulent Novgorod people in their "veche" ("government council") decided to invite another prince. But in the very next year, 1230, during a time of famine and epidemic, the Novgorodians again invited Yaroslav. On 30 December 1230 it became the fourth time that he sat as prince in Novgorod, but he remained in the city for only two weeks, when he seated there his sons and went off to Pereyaslavl'-Zalessk. In 1232 the fourteen year old Theodore was already summoned to serve God not only in prayer, but also by the sword: he took part in a campaign of the Russian troops against the pagan Mordovian princes.
In the year 1233 at the wish of his father he was obliged to enter into marriage with the daughter of the holy Prince Michael of Chernigov - Theodoulia. When the guests had already gathered at the wedding feast, the bridegroom suddenly died. After the unexpected death of her betrothed groom, the princess left the world and was tonsured in one of the Suzdal' monasteries, famed in her monastic efforts as the Nun Evphrosynia of Suzdal' (+ 1250, Comm. 25 September).
Saint Theodore was buried in the Yuriev monastery in Novgorod. In the year 1614 the Swedes, having pillaged the monastery, broke open the tomb of the prince and finding him whole and undecayed, they made mockery over the holy relics, setting up the body "as though alive" against the church walls. The Novgorod metropolitan Isidor transferred the relics to the Sophia cathedral, where they placed them in a chapel of the holy Prophet John, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord.
The service to Saint Theodore was compiled in the year 1787 by the metropolitan of Peterburg and Novgorod, Gavriil Petrov (+ 1801).
The Monks Vassian and Jona -- were monks of the Solovetsk Transfiguration monastery and disciples of the holy Hegumen Philip, who later became Metropolitan of Moscow (+ 1570, Comm. 9 January).
The holy monks were glorified by the Lord after their death (1561).
Fishermen and sailors came to pray in the chapel, erected in 1599 over the place of their burial by the Trinity-Sergiev monastery elder Mamant. And in 1623 the priestmonk Iakov founded there a monastery, receiving the name Pertominsk.
The Holy Martyrs Marcian, Nikander, Hyperekhias, Apollon, Leonides, Arias, Gorgias, Selinias, Ireneios and Pambonos were natives of Egypt and suffered during the reign of Maximian (305-311). For their steadfast confession of faith in Christ they were subjected to a fierce scourging. They then threw the sufferers barely alive into prison, where an Angel appeared to them and healed their wounds. The holy martyrs died in prison from hunger and thirst.
The Monk Anubios, Egyptian Wilderness-Dweller, bravely endured tortures during the time of persecutions against Christians in the IV Century, but he remained alive and withdrew into the wilderness, where he dwelt into old age. He founded a small skete-monastery, in which he lived together with six monks, one of whom was his brother Pimen (Comm. of Monk Pimen the Great is 27 August). One time robbers laid waste to the skete, and the monks had to hide themselves in the ruins of a pagan temple, while having given their word not to speak with each other over the course of a week. In the morning all week long the Monk Anubios threw a stone at the face of the statue of the pagan god, and in the evening he said to it: "I have sinned". At the end of the week the brethren asked Abba Anubios, what his actions signified, and the elder explained, that just as the statue did not get angry when he struck it, nor get flattered when he asked forgiveness of it, so also ought the brethren to live. Three days before his end the Monk Anubios was visited by the wilderness-dwellers Cyrus, Isaiah and Paul, who asked the elder that he tell them about his life for the edification of believers. The saint replied: "I do not remember, that I did anything great or glorious". But swayed by the entreaties of his questioners, in deep humility he related to them that during the time of persecutions having confessed under torture the Name of Christ, after this he had never defiled his lips with an unrighteous word, since once having confessed Truth, he did not want to utter falsehood. His heart was ever filled with a thirst for communion with the Lord, and often he had contemplated angels and the holy saints of God, standing before the Lord; he beheld also Satan and his angels, committed to the eternal flames; shown also to him were the righteous, inheriting eternal bliss. At the passing of the third day the Monk Anubios in spiritual joy expired to the Lord. When his soul lifted up to Heaven, in the air was heard Angelic song.
The Monk Theodore the Wonderworker lived during the VI Century. In his youth he left the world, accepted monasticism and withdrew into the Jordanian wilderness. He received from God the gift of wonderworking. Thus, one time while journeying on a ship to Constantinople, the Monk Theodore besought the Lord, that water drawn from the sea be made fresh to quench the thirst of his companions. To those thanking him for this the monk said, that it was God working such a miracle, compassionate to the intense thirst of mankind, rather than by his unworthy prayer.
The Monk Abba Dorotheos was a student of the Monk John the Prophet in the Palestinian monastery of Abba Serid in the VI Century.
In his youth he had zealously studied the sciences (i.e. the secular disciplines). "When I made study in the learning of things outward, -- wrote the abba, -- then at first I was so very obsessed with the study, that when I went to take up a book, it was as though a wild beast had grabbed hold of it. But when I pulled myself away, then God help me, i had been so immersed that I did not know what I ate, what I drank, whether I had slept, whether I was warm or not, -- I was oblivious to all this while reading. None of my friends could even drag me away for meals, or even to talk with them when I was so absorbed in reading, even though I loved socialising and I loved my comrades. When they let us have philosophy... I went off there, and where I lived, I knew not what I would have to eat, since I did not want to waste time over the arrangements for food". So absorbed then was Abba Dorotheos in his book wisdom.
And yet it was with an even greater zeal that he devoted himself to monastic activity, when he withdrew into the wilderness. "When I arrived at the monastery, -- reminisced the monk, -- then said I to myself: as heated as my love for outward wisdom was, even moreso now ought it to be for virtue, and herein even to become all the more intense".
One of the first obediences of the Monk Dorotheos was to greet and to see to pilgrims arriving at the monastery. It gave him opportunity to converse with people from various different positions in life, bearing all sorts of burdens and tribulations, and contending against manifold temptations. With the means of a certain brother the Monk Dorotheos built a sick-house, in which also he served. The holy abba himself described his obedience: "At the time I had only just gotten up from a serious illness. And here there arrived travellers in the evening, -- I spent the evening with them, and also the camel drivers there, -- and I prepared for their needs; and often it chanced that when I had dozed off to sleep, other needs arose needing me, -- and then it approached the hour of vigil". In order to fight against drowsiness, the Monk Dorotheos besought one of the brethren to wake him for services, and another to see that he did not doze off during the time of vigil. "And believe me, -- said the holy abba, -- I so esteemed them, as though literally my salvation depended upon them".
Over the course of 10 years the Monk Dorotheos was cell-attendant for the Monk John the Prophet. Even formerly he had revealed to him all his thoughts, and this new obedience he devotedly fulfilled the will of the elder, such that it caused him no tribulation. Distressed, that he was not fulfilling the command of the Saviour over this, that it is with many sorrows one mustneeds enter the Kingdom of Heaven, Abba Dorotheos revealed this thought to the elder. But the Monk John replied: "Sorrow not, and let it not distress thee, who art in obedience to the fathers, for this is proper a delight to the carefree and calm". The Monk Dorotheos considered it a matter of happiness for him to serve the great elder, but he was always ready to pass on this honour to others. Besides the fathers at the monastery of Abba Serid, the Monk Dorotheos visited and listened to the guidances of other great ascetics of his time, among which was also the Monk Abba Zosima.
After the death of the Monk John the Prophet, when Abba Barsanuphrios took upon himself complete silence, the Monk Dorotheos left the monastery of Abba Serid and founded another monastery, the monks of which he guided until his own death.
To the Monk Abba Dorotheos belong 21 Discourses, some several Letters, and 87 Questions with written down Replies by the Monk Barsanuphrios the Great and John the Prophet. In manuscript form are known also 30 Talks about Asceticism, and written Guidances of the Monk Abba Zosima. The works of Abba Dorotheos are imbued with a deep spiritual wisdom, distinguished by a clear and insightful style, but with a plain and comprehensible expression. The Discourses deal with the inner Christian life, gradually rising up in measure of growth to Christ. The saint resorted often to the advice of the great sainted-hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and Gregory of Nyssa. Obedience and humility, the combining of deep love for God with love for neighbour, are virtues without which spiritual life is impossible, -- and this thought pervades all the Discourses of Abba Dorotheos.
In his writings the personal aspect of Abba Dorotheos is felt everywhere, and it is this which his disciple, the Monk Dositheos (Comm. 19 February), characterises thus: "Towards the brethren asceticising with him he responded with modesty, with humility, and was gracious without arrogance or audacity; he was good-natured and direct, he would engage in a dispute, -- but herein prevailed the principle of respect, of well-wishing, and that which is sweeter than honey: of oneness of soul, the mother of all virtues".
The Disocurses of Abba Dorotheos are preliminary books to entering upon the path of spiritual action. The simple advice, how to proceed in this or that instance, together with a most subtle analysis of thoughts and stirrings of soul provide hoped-for guidance for anyone, who resolves on the path of experience to read the works of Abba Dorotheos. Monks that begin to read this book, will never part from it their whole life.
The works of Abba Dorotheos are to be found in every monastery library and are constantly reprinted. In Rus', his book of soul-beneficent instruction, together with the Replies of the Monks Barsanuphrios the Great and John the Prophet, was very extensive in the quantity of copies, right alongside "The Ladder of Divine Ascent" of the Monk John and the works of the Monk Ephrem the Syrian. And it is known that the Monk Kirill of Belozersk (+ 1427, Comm. 9 June), despite his many duties as hegumen, with his own hand transcribed the Discourses of Abba Dorotheos, as he did also the "Ladder of Divine Ascent" of the Monk John of the Ladder.
The Discourses of Abba Dorotheos pertain not only to monks: always this book should be read by anyone, aspiring to fulfill the commands of Christ.
The Monk Peter, a Slav by descent, asceticised from his youthful years at the Korishsk monastery near Prizren during the time of the holy emperor Saint Dushan (1337-1351). The holy relics of the monk, situated at the Chernoretsk monastery, were transferred to the church of the Archangel Michael in the city of Kalashin.
The Holy Martyr Mark was a native of the city of Smyrna. For his confession of Christianity, the Turks beheaded him with a sword on the island of Chios in the year 1801.
The Monk Ilarion (Hilary) the New was born of pious parents, Peter and Theodosia, who raised him in the virtues and instructed him in Holy Scripture. At twelve years of age Saint Ilarion was tonsured into monasticism at the Isykhia monastery near Byzantium, and from there he transferred to the Dalmatia monastery, where he took on the great schema and became a disciple of the Monk Gregory Dekapolites (Comm. 20 November). The monk deeply venerated his God-bearing patronal-name saint -- the Monk Ilarion the Great (Comm. 21 October), and he strove to imitate his life, whereby he came to be called Ilarion the New. At the Dalmatia monastery they ordained him presbyter. After the death of the hegumen the brethren wanted to elect Saint Ilarion to this position, but learning of this, he secretly withdrew away to Byzantium.
Then the monks of Dalmatia monastery sent off a petition to Sainted Patriarch Nikephoros, asking that the Monk Ilarion be assigned as hegumen. The Patriarch summoned the saint and persuaded him to give his assent. The Monk Ilarion submitted out of holy obedience. Over the course of eight years he peacefully guided the monastery. But in the year 813 the iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820) occupied the imperial throne. The monk refused to blaspheme holy icons and he boldly accused the emperor of heresy, for which he endured many torments. They locked him up in prison for awhile, and vexed him with hunger and thirst. The impious patriarch Theodotos, having replaced the exiled Patriarch Nikephoros, caused the monk much suffering in demanding a rejection of Orthodoxy. The monks of the Dalmatia monastery went to the emperor and besought him to release the saint, promising to submit to the imperial will. But having returned to the monastery, the Monk Ilarion and all the monks continued to venerate holy icons. The enraged emperor again locked up the monk in prison. With all the powers at his disposal to demand a renunciation, he gave the saint over to torture and confined him in prison.
But the wrath of God overtook the wicked emperor: he was cut down by his own soldiers in church at that very spot, where once before he had thrown down an holy icon. The new emperor Michael II the Stammerer (820-829) set free the Monk Ilarion from his imprisonment, and the saint settled into a solitary cell. Upon the death of the Monk Theodore the Studite (Comm. 11 November) -- who likewise had suffered for holy icons, the Monk Ilarion was vouchsafed to behold holy Angels lifting up to Heaven the holy soul of Saint Theodore.
Under the iconoclast emperor Theophilos (829-842), the Monk Ilarion was again put under guard, and beaten terribly, and they confined him on the island of Athysia.
After the death of Theophilos, the holy empress Saint Theodora (842-855) gave orders to restore the confessors from exile. The Monk Ilarion returned to the Dalmatia monastery, again accepting to be hegumen at it, and he peacefully died in the year 845.
The Monk Bessarion, Wonderworker of Egypt, by descent an Egyptian, was baptised while still in his youth and he led a strict life, striving to preserve the grace given him during Baptism. Seeking to become more closely acquainted with the monastic life, he undertook a journey to the holy places, -- he was in Jerusalem, he visited the Monk Gerasimos (Comm. 4 March) in the Jordanian wilderness, he viewed other monastic wilderness-monasteries, and assimilated all the rules of monastic life. Upon his return, he accepted monastic tonsure and became a disciple of the Monk Isidor Pelusiotes (Comm. 4 February). Saint Bessarion took upon himself a vow of silence, he partook of food only once a week, and sometimes he remained without food or drink for 40 days. There was an instance when the monk, immersed in prayer, stood motionless for 40 days and 40 nights without food or sleep.
The Monk Bessarion received from God the gift of wonderworking: when on a journey his disciple was strongly beset by thirst, he sweetened bitter water; by his prayer the Lord sent rain upon the earth, and he could as though on dry land cross a river; with but a single word he cast out devils, but he did this privately to avoid glory. His humility was so great, that when one time a priest ordered someone from the skete settlement to leave church for having fallen into sin, together with him went also the monk with the words: "I too am a sinner". The Monk Bessarion slept only standing or sitting. A large portion of the life of the saint was spent under the open sky in prayerful solitude. He peacefully expired to the Lord, having reached old age.
Sainted Jona, Bishop of Velikoperm (Great Perm), was successor to Sainted Pitirim, Bishop of Perm (Comm. 19 August), who was murdered by the Vogulani in the year 1455. In the year 1462 Saint Jona converted to Christ the inhabitants of Great Perm. To spread and consolidate the Christian faith, he constantly journeyed throughout his extensive diocese. The saint reposed to God on 6 June 1470 and was buried at Ust'-Vym at the Annunciation cathedral.
The Monk Jona of Klimetsk, in the world John, accepted monasticism and founded the Klimetsk Trinity monastery in accordance with a vow.
In the year 1490 he had been caught by a storm on Lake Onega. When however there was no hope for survival, John cried out to the Lord, beseeching Him to preserve him alive for repentance and service to God. The boat was thrown by the waves onto a coastal sandbar. There he heard the voice of the Lord, commanding him to form a monastery in the Name of the Life-Creating Trinity, and on a juniper tree he miraculously discovered Its holy icon. The monk fulfilled the will of the Lord and built a monastery with two temples -- one in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity and the other in honour of Saint Nicholas, protector of those sailing and those journeying. Having refused the dignity of hegumen, the Monk Jona remained at the monastery a simple monk. The monk died on 6 June 1534. Over his relics afterwards was built a church in honour of Saints Zachariah and Elizabeth.
The Holy Monastic Martyresses Archelia, Thecla and Susanna sought salvation in a small monastery near Rome. During the time of the persecution by Diocletian (284-305), the holy virgins attired themselves in men's clothing, cut their hair and set off to the Italian province of Campagna. settling in a remote area, they continued to pursue asceticism in fasting and prayer. And having received from God the gift of healing, they doctored the local inhabitants, converting many pagans to Christ. But learning of them, the governor of the district gave orders to bring them to the city of Salerno. He threatened Saint Archelia with handing her over for abuse and a sentence of death, if she did not offer sacrifice to idols. With firm hope on the help of the Lord, the saint refused to submit to the command, and she denounced the folly of worshipping soulless statues. Then the governor gave orders to hand over the saint to be torn apart by hungry lions, but the beasts meekly did lay at her feet. In a rage the governor gave orders to kill the lions, and to lock up the holy virgins in prison.
In the morning, having suspended Saint Archelia, the torturers began to cut at her with iron utensils and pour hot tar on the wounds. The saint prayer all the more loudly, and suddenly over her shone a radiance and a voice was heard: "Fear not, for I am with thee". The power of God defended the saint: when they wanted to crush her with an immense stone, an Angel pushed it to the other side, and it crushed the torturers instead. A judge ordered soldiers to behead the holy virgins, but the soldiers did not dare to put their hands upon the saints. Thereupon Saints Archelia, Thecla and Susanna said to the soldiers: "If ye fulfill not the command, ye shalt have no respect from us". The holy martyresses were beheaded (+ 293).
The Monk Paisii of Uglich was hegumen of the Pokrov monastery, near Uglich. He was born in the Tver district nearby the city of Kashin, and he was a nephew of the Monk Makarii of Kalyazinsk (Comm. 17 March). Upon the death of his parents, and being still but an 11 year old lad, Saint Paisii went to the monastery of his uncle, who clothed him in monastic garb. Under his uncle's guidance, Saint Paisii led a monastic life in deeds of obedience, fasting and prayer, and he occupied himself with the copying of soul-saving books. "A man wondrous and of spirit, famed preceptor of holiness and most astounding wonderworker, he founded (in 1464) at the wish of prince Andrei Vasil'evich the common-life Pokrov monastery 3 versts from Uglich, wherein he was chosen hegumen". The Monk Paisii was also "founder and organiser of the holy Nikol'sky Grekhozaruchnya monastery" in 1489. Asceticising at the Pokrov monastery, the Monk Paisii lived into old age and died on 6 June 1504. His relics, glorified by miracles, rest beneathe a crypt in the Pokrov monastery.
The Holy Martyr Theodotos lived in Galatian Ancyra in the III Century. He was distinguished by an especial kindliness and concern. At the height of the persecution under Diocletian (284-305) he provided Christians all the necessities and gave them shelter in his home, where secretly they made Divine-services. Saint Theodotos visited the Christian captives in prison, paid their bail, and reverently gave burial to the bodies of martyrs thrown for devouring by wild beasts. One time he dragged out of the water and gave burial to the bodies of seven holy martyresses, drowned in the sea (Comm. 18 May). They reported about this to the governor. Having refused to offer sacrifice to idols and having denounced the pagan folly, Saint Theodotos confessed the true faith in Christ, for which they subjected him to terrible tortures and beheaded him with the sword (+ 303). They wanted to burn up the body of the holy martyr, but a storm having arisen made it futile to attempt this, and they gave him over to a Christian for burial.
The PriestMartyr Marcellinus, Pope of Rome, and with him the Holy Martyrs Claudius, Cyrinus and Antoninus: Saint Marcellinus was Pope of Rome during the height of the persecution against Christians under Diocletian and Maximian (284-305), when during the course of a single month 17,000 men were martyred. During this time also Pope Marcellinus was arrested. Terrified of the fierce tortures, he burned incense and offered sacrifice to idols. The emperor called him his friend and attired him in splendid clothes. Torn with agonising remorse, he wept bitterly that, having roused many to accept torture for Christ, he himself gave his flock an example of cowardice.
During this time at the city of Sinuessa (in Campania) there met a Council consisting of 180 bishops and presbyters. Pope Marcellinus appeared at the assembled Council in penitential hair-shirt, his head sprinkled with ashes, and he asked to be judged for his betrayal. The fathers of the Council said: "Judge thyself with thine own lips. From thy lips the sin did come forth, from thy lips likewise let judgement be pronounced. We know, that even Saint Peter out of fear denied Christ, but he bitterly bewept his sin and again received blessing of the Lord".
Then Marcellinus pronounced sentence upon himself: "I recognise myself deprived of the priestly dignity, of which I am unworthy. After death let my body not be given over to burial, but rather thrown for devouring to the dogs; cursed be the one who dares to bury it".
Upon his return to Rome Marcellinus went to the emperor, threw down at his feet the fine clothing given him and said, that he bitterly regretted his renunciation of Christ. The enraged emperor gave orders to torture him and sentenced him to death.
Fervently having prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who mercifully receives sinners that do repent, the martyr willingly placed his head beneathe the sword. With him were beheaded the holy Martyrs Claudius, Cyrinus and Antoninus (+ 304).
The body of Saint Marcellinus lay for 36 days along the wayside. Appearing in a vision to the newly-made Pope Marcellus, the holy Apostle Peter said: "Why all this time hast thou not given burial to the body of Marcellinus?" "I fear his curse," -- answered Saint Marcellus. "Perhaps thou dost not remember, -- said the Apostle Peter, -- that it is written: 'He that humbleth himself shalt be exalted'. Wherefore go bury his body with reverence".
Fulfilling the command of the Apostle Peter, Saint Marcellus buried the body of holy Pope Marcellinus in a crypt, built for burial of the bodies of martyrs by the illustrious Roman Priscilla, along the Via Salaria.
The PriestMartyr Marcellus, Pope of Rome, and the Holy Martyrs Cisenius and Cyricus -- Deacons, Smaragdus, Largias, Apronian, Satyrninus, Papias and Maurus -- Soldiers, Criscentian and the Holy WomenMartyrs Priscilla, Lucy and Artemia the Emperor's Daughter suffered in Rome during the time of the persecution of Diocletian and Maximian (284-305) and their successors -- Galerius (305-311) and Maxentius (305-312). The emperor Maximian, ruling the western half of the Roman empire, deprived all Christians of military rank and sent them into penal forced labour. A certain rich Christian, Thrason, began to send food and clothing to the prisoners by way of the Christians Cisenius, Cyriacus, Smaragdus and Largias. Holy Pope Marcellus thanked Thrason for his generosity, and Cisenius and Cyriacus he ordained as deacons. Soon while rendering aid to the captives Cisenius and Cyriacus also were arrested and sent off to harsh labour. They fulfilled not only their own norm, but worked also for the dying captive Satyrninus, for which Maximian gave Cisenius over for torture to the governor of the district, Laodicius. They locked up the saint in prison. The head of the prison, Apronian, summoned Saint Cisentius for interrogation but, seeing that his face shone with an Heavenly light, he believed in Christ and was baptised. And then later going together with Cisenius, he went to holy Pope Marcellus and received Chrismation. Having made liturgy, Saint Marcellus communed the Holy Mysteries. On this day, 7 June, Saints Cisenius and Satyrninus in the company of Apronian were brought before Laodicius. Saint Apronian confessed that he was a Christian, and was beheaded, and Saints Cisenius and Satyrninus were thrown into prison. Then Laodicius gave orders to bring them to a pagan temple to offer sacrifice. Saint Satyrninus said: "Would that the Lord turn the pagan idols into dust!" At that very moment the tripods, on which incense burned in front of the idols, melted. In sight of this miracle the soldiers Papias and Maurus confessed Christ. After prolonged tortures Cisenius and Satyrninus were beheaded, and Papias and Maurus were locked up in prison, where they prayed concerning their illumination by holy Baptism. The Lord granted them to realise their desire. Leaving unnoticed from the prison, they received Baptism from Saint Marcellus and returned to the prison.
At the trial they again confessed themselves Christians and died under terrible tortures. Their venerable bodies were buried by the Presbyter John and Thrason.
Saints Cyriacus, Smaragdus, Largias and other Christian prisoners continued to waste away at hard labour.
The emperor's daughter Artemia, the young daughter of Diocletian, suffered from demonic oppression. Having learned that the prisoner Saint Cyriacus could cure infirmity and cast out devils, the emperor summoned him to the sick girl. In gratitude for the healing of his daughter, the emperor set free Cyriacus, Smaragdus and Largias. Soon the emperor dispatched Saint Cyriacus to Persia, so that he would heal the daughter of the Persian emperor. Upon his return to Rome, Saint Cyriacus was arrested on orders of the emperor Galerius, the son-in-law of Diocletian, who had abdicated and retired as ruler. Galerius was very annoyed at his predecessor for the converting to Christianity of the emperor's daughter Artemia. He gave orders to lead behind his chariot Saint Cyriacus -- stripped and bloody in chains, to the shame and ridicule of the crowds.
Pope Marcellus denounced the emperor openly before everyone for his cruelty towards innocent Christians. The emperor gave orders to beat the holy pope with canes and to deal brutally with the saint of Christ. Saints Cyricus, Smaragdus, Largias, and still another prisoner, Criscentian, died under torture. And at this time also executed were the emperor's daughter Artemia and yet another 21 prisoners in prison with Saint Cyriacus.
Holy Pope Marcellus was secretly freed by Roman clergy. Having dug up the bodies of the holy Martyrs Cyriacus, Smaragdus and Largias, they re-buried them on the estates of two Christians Priscilla and Lucy on the outskirts of Rome, having transformed the house of Lucy into a church.
Ascending the throne, Maxentius gave orders to destroy the church and transform it into a cattle-yard, and he sentenced the holy pope for life to herd the cattle. Exhausted by hunger and cold, and wearied by the stench, holy Pope Marcellus fell sick and died in the year 310.
The holy women Pricilla and Lucy were in disgrace banished from Rome, and their estates confiscated and plundered.
The Holy WomenMartyrs Kaleria (Valeria), Kyriakia and Maria were inhabitants of Palestinian Caesarea during the time of persecution under Diocletian (284-305). Having received instruction in the Christian faith, they left off with the pagan manner of life, settled in a solitary place and spent their lives in prayer, beseeching the Lord, that the persecution against Christians would come to an end, and that the faith of Christ would shine throughout all the world. The governor tried to force them to worship idols, but they bravely confessed their faith in Christ. For this they were given over to torture during which time they died.
The Holy Women Hesia and Susanna were disciples of the PriestMartyr Pankratios, Bishop of Tauromeneia (Comm. 9 July), a disciple of the Apostle Peter.
The Monk Antonii of Kensk (Kozheezersk), with schema-monk name Avramii, was a disciple and successor of the Monk Serapion (Comm. 27 June) in the guiding of the Kozheezersk ("Leather-tanning Lake") monastery. He reposed peacefully to the Lord on 27 June 1592.
The Holy GreatMartyr Theodore Stratelates suffered for Christ in Herakleia on 8 February 319. At the time of his sufferings the holy Greatmartyr Theodore ordered his servant Uaros to bury his body on the estate of his parents in Eukhaitos. The transfer of the relics of the Greatmartyr Theodore was done on 8 June 319.
On this day also is remembered a miracle from an image of the Greatmartyr Theodore in a church of his name, at a place called Karsata, near about Damascus. The Saracens had turned this church into a residence. One of the Saracens shot an arrow into the image of the greatmartyr. From the shoulder of the saint, where the arrow had stuck into the wall, blood flowed forth in front of the eyes of everyone. A short while later, the Saracens who had settled in the church, killed each other. Accounts about this miracle are given by the holy Patriarch Anastasias of Antioch (+ 599, Comm. 20 April) and the Monk John Damascene (+ c. 780, Comm. 4 December).
The Nun Melania was by birth the grandmother of Saint Melania the Roman (+ 431, Comm. 31 December).
The Monk Aphre was a student of the Monk Horus of Nitreia (+ c. 390, Comm. 7 August). He pursued asceticism in Egypt, and died during the V Century.
Sainted Ephrem, Patriarch of Antioch, a Syrian, was a military general under the emperors Anastasias (491-518) and Justin (518-527). The saint was distinguished for his virtue, piety, and compassion for all the destitute.
In the year 526 the Lord punished Antioch for the straying of christians into the heresies of Nestorius and Eutykhes: an earthquake destroyed this magnificent city. A large number of the inhabitants perished. Patriarch Euphrasios was crushed beneathe a fallen column.
The emperor summoned Saint Ephrem for the restoration of the ruined city. One of his workers, a bishop, -- who because of his obscure doings had withdrawn from being a bishop, predicted to Saint Ephrem his election to the patriarchal throne and asked him not to abandon deeds of charity and to struggle firmly against the heretics. In the year 527 Saint Ephrem was elected to the patriarchal throne. He firmly and wisely governed his flock and by the example of his life, by his sermons and letters he defended it against heretical teachings.
A notion about the strength of his faith is given by the following event. Near Herakleia was a pillar-dweller practising asceticism, who had fallen into heresy. Learning about the ascetic, Saint Ephrem went to him and urged him to be re-united to the Orthodox Church. The pillar-dweller was not agreeable. He decided to frighten the patriarch and he offered to kindle a large bon-fire, so that they both might enter the fire. The bon-fire was set, but the pillar-dweller did not dare to go into it. The patriarch prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ to show that his was the correct faith and, removing his omophorion, he put it in the bon-fire. After three hours the fire-wood was consumed, but the omophorion of the saint was taken out unharmed. The pillar-dweller recanted from heresy and was re-united to the Church.
Holy Patriarch Ephrem peacefully expired to the Lord in the year 425.
Among his labours, Sainted Ephrem defended the teaching of the Orthodox Church about the union in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ of two natures -- the Divine and the human.
The Monk Zosima of Phoenicia was born in the Syrian village of Synda, near the city of Tyre. He accepted monasticism and was zealous as an ascetic by his fasting, prayer, labours and other virtues. The monk received from God the gift of perspicacity. When he was at Caesarea, he foresaw the terrible earthquake which destroyed Antioch in the year 526.
One time, the patrician Arkesilaos visited the monk. During this while a messenger informed Arkesilaos, that his wife had punctured her eye with a needle and was suffering terribly. But the monk put his guest at ease and said, that the Caesarea Sainted-bishop John Khozevites (Comm. 3 October) had his wife.
The Monk Zosima attained to such a degree of spiritual accomplishment, that wild beasts were submissive to him. One time on the way to Caesarea an hungry lion pounced upon the donkey of the monk, and dragged it away and started eating. Finding the beast, the monk said: "Friend, I have not the strength to carry the load because of old age. Do thou carry it, and then return into the wilderness and again be fierce according to thy nature". The lion meekly carried the load to Caesarea, where the monk set him free.
The Holy Martyr Paul of Kaium was born and raised at Constantinople. For denouncing the emperor Constantine Kopronymos (740-775) in the Iconoclast controversy, the saint was sent to prison. Under interrogation the martyr remained unyielding. They cut off his nose, poured on his head boiling brimstone with pitch, blinded his eyes and with bound legs they dragged him along the street. The saint died from his torments on 8 June 766. 122 years later his unperished relics were discovered at the Kaium monastery and put in a church of the MostHoly Mother of God. in the year 1222 the holy relics were transferred from Constantinople to Venice.
The Monk Naukratios, a student of the Monk Theodore the Studite (Comm. 11 November), because of his devotion to Orthodoxy and veneration of holy icons, was subjected to persecution by the iconoclasts. After the condemnation of the Iconoclast heresy he returned from exile and was made hegumen of the Studite monastery. he died in 848.
Sainted Cyril, ArchBishop of Alexandria, a distinguished champion of Orthodoxy and a great teacher of the Church, came from an illustrious and pious Christian family. He studied the secular sciences, among which number also was philosophy, but most of all he strove to acquire knowledge of the Holy Scriptures and the truths of the Christian faith. In his youth Saint Cyril entered the skete-monastery of Saint Makarios in the Nitreia hills, where he stayed for six years. The Patriarch of Alexandria Theophilos (385-412) ordained him to the dignity of deacon, numbered him among the clergy and, seeing his giftedness, entrusted him to preach.
Upon the death of Patriarch Theophilos, Saint Cyril was unanimously chosen to the patriarchal throne of the Alexandrian Church. He headed the struggle against the spread in Alexandria of the Novatian heresy, which taught that a Christian, having fallen away from the Church during time of persecution, is not able to be received back by it again.
Saint Cyril, seeing the futility of admonishing the heretics, sought their expulsion from Alexandria. The Jews appeared a greater danger for the Church, repeatedly making riots, accompanied by the brutal killing of Christians. The saint long contended with them. And to end with the remaining paganism, the saint cast out devils from an ancient pagan temple and built on the place a church. Into it were transferred the relics of the holy Unmercenaries Cyrus and John. Still more difficult a struggle awaited the saint with the emergence of the Nestorian heresy.
Nestorius, a presbyter of the Antioch Church, was chosen in 428 to the Constantinople cathedra and therein got the chance to widely spread about his heretical teaching, directed against the dogma about the uncommingled union of two natures in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nestorius called the Mother of God not the Bogoroditsa (Theotokos or "Birth-giver of God"), but rather Khristoroditsa (Christotokos or "Birth-giver of Christ"), implying that she gave birth not to God, but only to the man Christ. The holy Patriarch Cyril repeatedly wrote to Nestorius and pointed out his error, but Nestorius continued to persevere in it. Then the saint sent out epistles against Nestorianism to the clergy of the Constantinople Church and to the holy nobleborn emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450) -- two treatises with a denunciation of the heresy. Saint Cyril wrote also to other Churches -- to Pope Celestine and to the other Patriarchs, and even to monks of several monasteries, warning about the emergence of a dangerous heresy.
Nestorius started an open persecution against the Orthodox. In his presence one of his partisans, bishop Dorotheos, pronounced from the church cathedra an anathema for anyone who would call the MostHoly Virgin Mary the Bogoroditsa (Theotokos).
Nestorius hated Saint Cyril and brought out against him every kind of slander and fabrication, calling him an heretic. The saint with all his powers continued to defend Orthodoxy. The situation became so aggravated, that it became necessary to convene an OEcumenical Council, which opened in the year 431 in the city of Ephesus. At the Council arrived 200 bishops from all the Christian Churches. Nestorius, awaiting the arrival of the bishop of Antioch John and other Syrian bishops, did not agree to the opening of the Council. But the fathers of the Council began the sessions. The Alexandrian Patriarch Saint Cyril presided. Having examined the teaching of Nestorius, the Council condemned him as an heretic. Nestorius did not submit to the Council, and the arriving bishop John opened a "robber council", which decreed Saint Cyril an heretic. The unrest increased. By order of the emperor, Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria and Archbishop Memnon of Ephesus were locked in prison. And in this measure, Nestorius also was deposed.
Soon Saints Cyril and Memnon were freed, and the sessions of the Council continued. Nestorius, not submitting himself to the determinations of the Council, was deprived of priestly rank and by order of the emperor sent to the faraway place Sasim in the Libean wilderness, where he died in grievous torments: his tongue, having blasphemed the Mother of God, was overtaken by punishment -- in it there developed worms. Even Bishop John of Antioch and the remaining Syrian bishops signed the decretals of the Ephesus Council.
Saint Cyril guided the Alexandrian Church for 32 years: towards the end of his abundant activity the flock was cleansed of heretics. Gently and cautiously Saint Cyril approached towards anyone, who by their own simpleness and lack of knowledge fell into false wisdom. To a certain elder, an ascetic of profound life, -- who incorrectly considered the Old Testament Righteous HighPriest Melchisedek to be the Son of God, -- Saint Cyril turned with a request to pray to the Lord so that He should reveal, correctly how to consider that righteous one. After three days the elder came to Saint Cyril and said, that the Lord revealed to him, that Melchisedek was high-priest and a mere man.
Saint Cyril learned to overcome his prejudice against the memory of the great Sainted-hierarch John Chrysostomos (Zlatoust') (+ 407, Comm. 13 November). The Patriarch of Alexandria Theophilos, by birth an uncle of the saint, was an antagonist of Sainted John, and presided in a council in judgement of him. Saint Cyril from his youthful years found himself thus in a circle antagonistic to John Chrysostom and involuntarily acquired prejudice against him. The Monk Isidoros Pelusiotes (+ c. 436-440, Comm. 4 February) repeatedly wrote to Saint Cyril and urged him to include the name of the great father of the Church into the diptych-list of the saints, but Saint Cyril would not agree. But once in a dream he saw a wondrous temple, in which was present the Mother of God surrounded by an host of Angels and saints, in which number stood also Saint John Chrysostom. When Saint Cyril wanted to approach the MostHoly Lady and offer to Her veneration, Saint John Chrysostom would not let him. The Mother of God asked Saint John to forgive Saint Cyril, for having sinned against him through ignorance. Seeing that Saint John hesitated, the Mother of God said: "Forgive him for Me, since he hath laboured much for My honour, and hath glorified Me among the people calling Me the Mother of God, the Theotokos Bogoroditsa". Saint John answered: "By Thy intercession, Lady, I do forgive him", -- and then with love he hugged and embraced Saint Cyril.
Saint Cyril repented himself that he had maintained anger against the great saint of God. Having convened all the Egyptian bishops, he made a solemn festal celebration in honour of Sainted John Chrysostom.
Saint Cyril died in the year 444, leaving behind many works. In particular ought to be mentioned: Commentaries -- On the Gospel of Luke, On the Gospel of John, On the Epistles of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians and to the Hebrews; also an Apologia in Defence of Christianity against the Emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Of vast significance are: Five Books against Nestorius; a work About the MostHoly Trinity; -- under the title "Thesaurus", written against Arius and Eunomios; also two dogmatic compositions About the MostHoly Trinity, -- distinguished by a precise exposition of the Orthodox teaching about the Procession of the Holy Spirit. Saint Cyril wrote a composition -- Against Anthropomorphism, for several Egyptians, who through ignorance depicted God in human form. Amidst a number of works by Saint Cyril are also the "Discussions", among which is the moving and edifying "Discourse on the Exodus of the Soul", inserted in the Slavonic "Following Psalter".
The Monk Kirill (Cyril), Hegumen of Beloezersk, (in the world Kosma) was born in Moscow of pious parents. In his youthful years he was left an orphan and lived with his kinsman, the boyar (nobleman) Timofei Vasil'evich Vel'yaminov, in the surroundings of the court of the GreatPrince Dimitrii Donskoi (1363-1389). Secular life bored the youth. At the request of the Monk Stephan of Makhrisch (+ 1406, Comm. 14 July), Kosma was dismissed to the Simonov monastery, where he took vows under Saint Theodore (+ 1395, Comm. 28 November) -- with the name Kirill. The Monk Kirill fulfilled his monastic obediences under the guidance of the starets (elder) Michael, who afterwards was Bishop of Smolensk. By night the elder read the Psalter, and the Monk Kirill bowed making poklons, but at the first clang of the bell he went to matins. He asked the elder permission to partake of food every 2nd or 3rd day, but the experienced elder did not allow this, but blessed him rather to eat with the brethren, only not to the extent of being full. The Monk Kirill carried out his obedience in the bread-bakery: he carried water, chopped firewood, and distributed bread. When the Monk Sergei of Radonezh came to the Simonov monastery, he then before any others visited and affectionately conversed with the Monk Kirill. They transferred the Monk Kirill from the bread-bakery to the kitchen, and the saint told himself, gazing at the burning fire: "Beware, Kirill, lest thou fall into the fire eternal". The Monk Kirill toiled for nine years in the kitchen and he attained to such tender emotion, that he was not able to eat bread without tears, blessing the Lord. Fleeing the glory of man, the monk at times began to be a fool-for-Christ. In punishment for the transgressing of propriety, the monastery head punished him on bread and water for 40 days; the Monk Kirill underwent this punishment with joy. But the saint could not conceal his spirituality, and the experienced elders understood him and against his will they compelled him to accept the dignity of priest-monk. During free time from services, the Monk Kirill took himself a turn as novice and occupied himself with heavy work. When Saint Theodore was ordained archbishop of Rostov, the brethren in 1390 chose the Monk Kirill as archimandrite of the monastery.
Rich and important people began to visit the monk to hear his guidance. This disturbed the humble spirit of the saint, and he despite the entreaty of the brethren would not remain head of the monastery, but rather secluded himself in his former cell. But even here frequent visitors troubled the monk, and he crossed over to old Simonovo. The soul of the Monk Kirill yearned for quietude, and he prayed the Mother of God to show him a place, conducive for salvation. One time at night, reading as always an akathist before the Hodigetria icon of the Mother of God, he heard a voice: "Go to Beloozero (White Lake), there is the place for thee".
At the Beloezero lakeside, then desolate and sparsely populated, he long went in search of the place, which in the vision was destined for his dwelling. In the surroundings of Mount Myaura at Siversk Lake, he together with his companion the Monk Pherapont (Comm. 27 May), set up a cross and dug up the ground.
The Monk Pherapont soon set off for another place, and the Monk Kirill pursued asceticism in his underground cell not even one year in solitude. One time Saint Kirill, troubled by a strange dream, lay down to sleep under a pine tree, but just hardly as he closed his eyes, he heard a voice: "Run, Kirill!" The Monk Kirill only just managed to jump away, as the pine tree came crashing down. From this pine tree the ascetic made a cross. Another time the Monk Kirill nearly perished from flames and smoke when it cleared away the forest, but God preserved His saint. A certain peasant attempted to burn down the cell of the monk, but as much as he tried, he did not succeed. Then having repented with tears, he confessed his sin to the Monk Kirill, who vowed him into monasticism.
To the monk there came from Simonov monastery the monks Zevedei and Dionysii, beloved by him, and then Nathanael, afterwards steward of the monastery. Many began to come to the monk and asked to be deemed worthy of monasticism. The holy elder perceived, that his time of silence was ended. In the year 1397 he constructed a temple in honour of the Uspenie (Dormition or Repose) of the Mother of God.
When the number of brethren had multiplied, the monk gave for the monastery an ustav (rule) of community-life, which he sanctified by the example of his own life. Thus, in church no one should make conversation, no one ought to leave from it before the end of services; and to the Gospel they came according to the eldest. At refectory meals they sat each at their own place, and in the refectory there was silence. From the refectory each went quietly to his own cell. No one was able to receive either letters or gifts, without having shown them to the Monk Kirill; without his blessing they did not write a letter. Money was kept in the monastery treasury, nor did anyone possess anything personal. Even to drink water they went to the refectory. The cells were not locked, and in them, besides icons and books, nothing was kept. In the final years of the Monk Kirill's life, the boyar (nobleman) Roman decided to gift the monastery with a village and sent off the deed of gift. The Monk Kirill discerned, that if the monastery came to possess a village, then for the brethren it would prompt concerns about the land, settlements would emerge to shatter the monastic quietude, and so he refused the gift.
The Lord rewarded His saint with the gift of perspicacity and healing. A certain Feodor, having entered into the monastery out of love for the monk, and then so hated him, that he could not look at the saint, felt impelled to leave the monastery. He approached the cell of the Monk Kirill and, glancing at his grey hair, from shame he was not able to say a word. The monk said to him: "Sorrow not, my brother, for all are mistaken about me; thou alone knowest the truth and all my unworthiness; I am actually a worthless sinner". Then the Monk Kirill blessed Feodor, and added that he should no more be troubled by such thought. From that time Feodor lived at peace in the monastery.
One time there was no wine for Divine Liturgy, and the sexton told the saint about this. The Monk Kirill gave commands to bring him the empty vessel, which he opened full of wine. During a time of famine the Monk Kirill distributed bread to all the needy, and he did not stop, despite that the normal reserves hardly sufficed for the brethren.
The monk tamed a storm on the lake, which threatened the fishermen, and he predicted that none of the brethren would die until his end, despite that a plague would rage, and afterwards many would follow after him.
The monk did his final Divine-services on the day of the Holy Trinity. Having giving final instructions to the brethren to preserve love amongst themselves, the Monk Kirill blessedly reposed in the 90th year of his life on 9 June 1427 -- on the same-name ("tezoimennie") day of memory with him of Saint Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria. In the first year after the death of the monk -- from the 53 brethren 30 men died. The monk often appeared to the remaining in dreams with advice and guidance.
The Monk Kirill loved spiritual enlightenment and he brought this love to his disciples. Among the works at the monastery in 1635 there were numbered more than two-thousand books, among them sixteen "of the Wonderworker Kirill". Three letters of the monk to Russian princes, existing down to our time, reveal remarkable specimens of his spiritual instruction and guidance, love, love of peace and consolation.
The all-Russian veneration of the monk began not later than 1447-1448. The Life of Saint Kirill was written, commissioned by Metropolitan Theodosii and GreatPrince Vasilii Vasil'evich, by the priest-monk Pakhomii the Logothete, who dwelt at the Kirillov monastery in 1462 and met with many of the eye-witnesses and disciples of the Monk Kirill, in whose number was also the Monk Martinian (Comm. 12 January), at that time guiding the Ferapontov monastery.
The Monk Alexander, Hegumen of Kushtsk, of Vologda, was born about the year 1371 in Vologda, and in the world he had the name Alexei. He was vowed a monk at the Saviour-Stone (Spaso-Kamenni) monastery by the hegumen Dionysii Svyatogorets (i. e. Dionysii "of the Holy Mountain"), who brought the Athos ustav (rule) to the monastery. Here the Monk Alexander underwent all the aspects of obedience and strict fasting and was granted the dignity of priest-monk. He dwelt constantly at work and prayer. The brethren looked upon him as upon an Angel of God, and this troubled the Monk Alexander. He left the monastery secretly by night and came to the River Syazhem, where there was a thick forest and lake. Here he built himself a cell and lived life in prayer and extreme abstinence. But little by little people began to come to him. The Monk Alexander went from this place to the shore of Lake Kuben, at the mouth of the Kushta rivulet. Here at this time lived the Monk Evphymii (+ c. 1465, Comm. 11 April). Saint Alexander offered him to exchange cells. Saint Evphymii was agreeable and at parting left to the Monk Alexander his cross for blessing. The quiet wilderness was very dear to the Monk Alexander. Going to the lake, he immersed the cross in the water and prayed to God, that he would collect here those zealous of the way of the cross. After some time there came to the Monk Alexander a certain starets (elder), with whom he dwelt for 5 years. When a third brother arrived, the Monk Alexander decided to build a church in honour of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God. The saint set off to Rostov to Archbishop Dionysii (1418-1425), his former hegumen, who blessed the construction of the temple. One time, in the absence of the Zaozersk prince Dimitrii Vasil'evich the Tatars came, and five of them galloped up to the Kushtsk monastery. The Monk Alexander calmly met them and blessed with the cross. The Tatars fell down as though dead, and they lay senseless for several hours, after which time the Monk Alexander roused them from their numbness by the Name of the Life-Originating Trinity.
Upon the death of prince Dimitrii, his widow princess Maria, -- who quite revered the Monk Alexander, offered in remembrance of her husband a village for the aid of the monastery. One time she came to the monastery and went into the church, where the Monk Alexander, with a bare chest whereon insects made attack, read the Psalter. The monk seemed distressed by her visit and said: "It does not become thee, princess, to look upon our poverty". The princess humbly asked pardon. The monk blessed her, but said: "Nourish thy poverty at home". Having returned, the princess fell sick and came to ask prayers for recovery of health. But the Monk Alexander foresaw her end and said: "Be prepared for this life". Princess Maria died 20 days later.
Upon the monastery floor was gathered wheat. A certain peasant decided to steal a sack, but he was not able to lift it. The monk came upon him and said: "My son, thou dost lift in vain". The surprised thief threw himself at the feet of the saint, asking forgiveness, but the Monk Alexander ordered him to put in more wheat, and having admonished him in future not to take away from others, he blessed him to take the sack and go with God. The forgiven peasant easily shouldered the blessed burden, thanking the magnanimous elder.
Having sensed the nearness of his end, the Monk Alexander said to those dwelling with him: "I weaken, but do ye endure in this place, preserving humility and mutual love". On Sunday he made the Divine Liturgy, and communed the Holy Mysteries. Then on his knees he prayed for himself and for his monastery, and at age 68 he peacefully gave up his spirit to the Lord on 9 June 1439.
According to the last-will instructions of the Monk Alexander, his body was placed at the mid-day side of the altar. A year afterwards there grew over his grave a rowen-berry tree. One time on the feastday of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God, a peasant child broke off a branch from this tree and suddenly his hand began to hurt. His parents with prayers led their son to the grave of the monk, and he was healed. From that time people began to pick berries from this tree for healing. His disciples built over the grave of the Monk Alexander a warm church in honour of Saint Nicholas and dedicated it on the day of memory of the Monk Alexander. Many of the sick, which they brought to the church, saw the Monk Alexander together with Saint Nicholas, praying together or censing the temple. The sick received healing at the grave of the Monk Alexander of Kushtsk.
The Holy Women-Martyrs Thekla, Martha and Mary on 6 June 346 were beheaded with a sword during the reign of the Persian emperor Sapor II.
The PriestMartyr Timothy, Bishop of Prussa (Bithynia), received from the Lord the gift of wonderworking because of his purity and sanctity of life. At Prussa he converted many pagans to the faith in Christ. The emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363), upon hearing about Saint Timothy had him locked up in prison, but even there also the saint continued to preach the Gospel. Julian forbade him to anymore teach about the Name of Jesus Christ, but the saint continued to spread about the Christian faith. Finally, the emperor gave orders to behead the saint. The holy relics of the saint were afterwards transferred to Constantinople.
The Monk Siluan, Kievo-Pechersk SchemaMonk, asceticised in the Farther Caves during the XIII-XIV Centuries. One time, by the power of his prayer, he held fast to the spot robbers, who had come into the monastery garden, and for three days they were not able to move. When they repented, the monk then freed them. The memory of the Monk Siluan is celebrated also on 28 August and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
Sainted John, Metropolitan of Tobol'sk and All Siberia, the Wonderwonder, in the world was named Ioann Maksimovich, and he was born in the city of Nezhino in 1651. His father Maksim Vasil'evich and mother Evphrosynia had a total of seven sons, of which John was the eldest. Upon his completion of the Kievo-Mogilyansk College (afterwards transformed into the Kiev Spiritual Academy), the future hierarch emerged from it as a teacher of the Latin language. Thereafter, in 1680, he accepted monasticism at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery and became absorbed in the deed of inner activity. With the general consent of the brethren, the young monk was entrusted the responsible obedience of preaching. From this period of time there was revealed in him an exceptional talent of eloquence and graced abilities. He attached an especial significance to inward religious self-knowledge. The chief theme of his life can be defined at a stroke as: "How ought man to conform his will with the will of God?" He developed this theme both in his preachings, and in his subsequent missionary service. In answer to it appeared the work, published towards the end of his long ascetic life, and entitled: "Iliotropion " (the "Heliotropion" or "Sun-Flower" -- a sun-turning plant), or the Conforming of the Human Will with the Divine Will". Of the great many works from the holy fathers of the Orthodox Church, this work gives most fully an answer to this great question of Christian soteriology.
In 1658 they dispatched him on a mission to Moscow. There he was appointed by Patriarch Joakim (1674-1690) as vicar of the Bryansk Svensk monastery, which was then under the Kievo-Pechersk Lavra.
Sainted Theodosii, Archbishop of Chernigov, in 1695 shortly before his own end (+ 1696, Comm. 5 February) appointed Priest-monk John as archimandrite of the Chernigov Eletsk monastery, and designated him as his successor for the cathedra-seat. (Saint John revered the memory of Saint Theodosii, believing in the power of his prayerful intercession before the Lord, and through his faith he received a graced healing from serious illness through the prayers of Saint Theodosii. At the very height of the sickness, Saint Theodosii appeared to him and said: "Serve thou tomorrow -- thou wilt be well". On the following day Saint John, completely well and to the amazement of everyone, served out the Divine Liturgy. And this miracle of the healing of Saint John marked the beginning of the veneration of Saint Theodosii as a grace-bearing saint of God.)
On 10 January 1697 the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus Adrian (1690-1700) with a sobor of bishops ordained Archimandrite John as Bishop of Chernigov, in the great Uspensky-Dormition cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin.
Upon entering into the guidance of the diocese, Bishop John created nearby the archbishop's cathedral a Collegium, similar to the Kiev Academy, which the saint intended should serve as an "Athens at Chernigov" -- a school of pious enlightenment.
In view of its high level of theological education and training, the school of Saint John received wide reknown. And in essence, this was the first seminary in Russia, on the model of which there began opening spiritual seminaries in other dioceses of the Russian Church.
The saint also later opened a printing press, at which he and his successors published many works of spiritual-moral content.
The life of Saint John was illumined by lofty virtues, and especially humility. It is reflected also in his works: "The Moral -Didactic Reflector" (Chernigov, 1703 and 1707); "The Alphabet, with Rhymes Added" (1705); "The Virgin Mother of God" (1707); "The Theatron-Theatre, or Moral-Didactic Disgrace" (1708); "Excursus on Psalm 50" (Chernigov, 1708); "Excursus on the "Our Father" and "The Eight Gospel Beatitudes" (1709); "The Royal Way of the Cross" (Chernigov, 1709); "Thoughts on God to the Benefit of Right-Belief" (1710 and 1711); "Synaxarion Commemoration on the Victory of Poltava" (1710); "The Pilgrim" (in manuscript); "Spiritual Thoughts" (Moscow, 1782).
At Chernigov in 1714 the saint also first published his chief work, written in the Latin language. (A peculiarity of the graduates of the Kiev school was this, -- that they wrote their works in classical Latin. Professor I. A. Maksimovich in 1888 translated the "Iliotropion" into the modern Russian language and published it at first in parts in the "Chernigov Diocesan Newsletter", and later on in a separate book -- Kiev, 1896). With his name is connected also "The Latin-Greek-Russian Lexicon".
Saint John was known to have connections with Holy Mount Athos. He had an especially warm interest in the fate of Russian inhabitants on the Holy Mountain, and rendered them substantial material aid during these difficult years. His archbishopal grammota-document to the Russian Panteleimonov monastery has been preserved, and it testifies to his concern for those on Holy Mount Athos.
On 14 August 1711, after his elevation to the dignity of metropolitan, Saint John arrived at the cathedra-seat of Tobol'sk and All Siberia. The saint concerned himself constantly with the enlightening of his diocese. And there also he continued with his work, started at Chernigov: he improved the school, which had been opened by his predecessor, the reknown missionary metropolitan Philothei (Leschinsky, + 1727), and he continued the apostolic preaching among the pagans of Siberia, converting many thousands to Christ. In 1714 Saint John set off to Peking in heading a mission with archimandrite Ilarion (Lezhaisky). At Tobol'sk he again undertook publishing activity, using the printing press set up by him at Chernigov. To this time period belongs also the publishing by Metropolitan John of the "Iliotropion" in the Slavonic-Russian language (1714), so that the Siberians likewise should understand it.
About the life of the saint in Siberia the chronicler reports: "He was quiet and unpretentious, graciously considerate, sympathetic to the poor, and merciful". He often helped people. Secretly, and sometimes in the garb of a simple monk, he would bring to the home of the needy generous alms with the words: "Accept this in the Name of Jesus Christ". His home at Tobol'sk was always open for all those in need of help or word of comfort. Even on the day he died, 10 June 1715, after Divine Liturgy -- as was his custom even earlier, Saint John had set up at his home a dining-hall for the clergy and the impoverished, and he himself served at table. Later on, having taken his leave of everyone, the saint withdrew to his chambers and at the time of the church-bells for Vespers he died at prayer, on his knees. The saint was buried in the chapel of Saint John Chrysostom at the Tobol'sk Uspenie-Sophia cathedral.
Saint John has long been venerated in Siberia. In light of numerous miracles and the longstanding local veneration of the memory of Saint John, in the year 1916 the Church established the all-Russian celebration for the day of repose of the saint to God -- 10 June.
The memory of Saint John is fervently kept by Siberians and by all the believing Russian people. He at present rests in the Tobol'sk cathedral of the Pokrov-Protection of the Mother of God. The service to him was republished, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Alexei, by metropolitan Vartholomei (Gorodtsov) in 1947 at the city of Novosibirsk.
The Holy Martyrs Alexander and Antonina the Virgin: Saint Antonina hailed from the city of Krodamna (Asia Minor). For being a Christian they brought her before the governor named Fistus, who urged her to worship the pagan gods, promising to bestow upon her the esteemed title of priestess of the goddess Artemis. But the saint bravely confessed Christ and she urged the governor to renounce the worship of demons in the form of idols. Fistus gave orders to strike the saint on the face and lock her up in prison. The martyress spent all her time at prayer, she ate and drank nothing, but then she heard the voice of God: "Antonina, fortify thineself with food and be brave. For I am with thee". When they again led her before the governor, the martyress continued firmly to stand up for the Christian faith and to denounce the pagans. The governor decided to give the holy virgin over for defilement by soldiers, but the Lord inspired one of them, Saint Alexander by name, to save the martyress. He sought permission to go in to the virgin, on the pretense that he might sway her to fulfill the will of the governor. Saint Alexander then suggested that the martyress don his military attire and flee. Saint Antonina was afraid, but the Lord ordered her to agree. Having put on the garb of a soldier, and recognised by no one, she emerged from her imprisonment. The soldiers sent by Fistus found Saint Alexander alone. To the questions of the governor he answered not a word, and he was given over for torture and mercilessly beaten. Through the inspiration of the Lord Jesus Christ, Saint Antonina also came to stand before Fistus. For the both of them they cut off their hands, they then smeared them with pitch and threw them into a pit, where a fire was burning. When the fire went out, they threw snakes into the pit, so that Christians should not be able to gather up the bones of the martyrs. Returning homewards, Fistus became numb, and was able neither to eat nor to drink, and after seven days of terrible torments he died. The holy Martyrs Alexander and Antonina died on 3 May 313. But in the Prologue their memory is placed under 10 June. The relics of the saints were transferred to Constantinople and placed in the Maximov monastery.
The Monk Theophanes of Antioch was the son of pagans. At a youthful age he entered into marriage, but after three years his wife died. Saint Theophanes then came to believe in Christ, he accepted Baptism, he gave up everything and began to live out beyond the city in the manner of the Gospel self-denial. He zealously taught the keeping of the commandments of God to everyone that came to him, he exhorted in particular about leading a life pure and chaste, and he denounced the debauchery of the people of Antioch. When the Monk Theophanes learned about a certain profligate woman, Pansemna by name, very much caught up in the snares of the devil, he very much wanted to save her. Knowing how difficult it would be to fulfill such an ascetic deed, and conscious of his own infirmity, the Monk Theophanes long prayed and he besought the Lord, that the Lord might send unto him His help to save the sinful woman. Finally, the saint dressed himself up in fine clothing, from his father he took along much gold and then went forth to Pansemna. The monk gave her the gold and he besought her to forsake the dissolute life and leave it to marry him. Pansemna happily consented and gave him her word to become his wife. The sole condition, which the Monk Theophanes set for Pansemna, was that she should accept Baptism. Because of the attractive marriage offer, Pansemna consented. In preparing her for the acceptance of Baptism, Saint Theophanes instructed her in the Christian faith, and he explained, that the truth of God does not tolerate sin and corruption, but that the love of God is gracious to those that repent. Having accepted Baptism, Saint Pansemna by the grace of God was completely reborn as a person. She distributed on God-pleasing matters everything, that she had acquired through profligacy, and she settled into an hut alongside the cell of the monk and began to live the life of an ascetic. And after 22 months she died on the very same day as the monk (+ 369).
Sainted Vassian, Bishop of Laudia, was a friend of Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Mediolanum-Milan (+ 397, Comm. 7 December). The father of Saint Vassian governed the Syracuse region (in Sicily) and he prepared his son to follow in his footsteps. He sent him to Rome to receive his education. While still in his childhood Saint Vassian had heard about the Christians and he wanted to know more about them and become familiar with the Christian faith. Presbyter Gordian taught him the essentials of the Christian faith, and the youth was filled with the desire to accept Baptism. At the time of the performing of the sacrament Saint Vassian beheld an Angel in the Baptismal font, holding the garb, in which the newly-baptised would be clothed. The saint made bold to ask, who he was and from where. The Angel replied, that he was sent from afar to help him fulfill his holy intent to know Christ, and then he became invisible.
Saint Vassian began to lead a strict life, he partook little of food, and nights he spent at prayer. His servants were astonished at such temperance, and they surmised, that he had accepted Christianity. They reported about this to the father of Saint Vassian, who then ordered him to return to Syracuse. Praying in the church of Saint John the Theologian, the saint received from the apostle the command to leave from Rome. And so Saint Vassian distributed all his substance to the poor and together with his faithful Christian servant he set off to Ravenna to his kinsman, bishop Ursus.
Bishop Ursus set him up at a solitary place outside the city near the church in honour of the PriestMartyr Apollinarius. Saint Vassian quite quickly advanced spiritually, and soon he was glorified by miracles. During this time a judge had been falsely accused and was sentenced to death by execution. Along the way to execution he prayerfully called out for help to Saint Vassian. When the executioner was already holding the sword up over his head, the sword suddenly was knocked from the grip of his hands and flew off to the side. This occurred three times. And the same thing happened with another executioner. When they reported about this to the emperor, the emperor set free the judge, who then told how he had been saved through the intercession of Saint Vassian.
The people of the city, believing that the prayer of Saint Vassian was powerful before God, besought bishop Ursus to ordain him to the dignity of presbyter. Upon the death of the bishop of the city of Lodium (Laudia, in Liguria, Northern Italy), a presbyter of the cathedral church by the name of Clement had a revelation -- that Saint Vassian would be chosen bishop of Lodium. Both Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Mediolanum-Milan, and bishop Ursus officiated at the laying on of hands at the ordination.
Saint Vassian taught the people not only by word, but also by deed, providing his flock example of a virtuous life. At Lodium he built up a beautiful church in the name of the holy Apostles. Saint Vassian often exchanged letters with Saint Ambrose, and he was present at the blessed end of the saint and gave burial to his body.
Saint Vassian died peacefully in the year 430, having served in the dignity of archbishop for 35 years.
The Holy Apostle Bartholomew was born at Cana of Galilee and was one of the Twelve Apostles of Christ. After the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, it fell by lot to the holy Apostles Bartholomew and Philip (Comm. 14 November) to preach the Gospel in Syria and Asia Minor. In their preaching they dispersed through various cities, and then met up together again. Accompanying the holy Apostle Philip was his sister, the holy virgin Saint Mariam.Traversing the cities of Syria and Myzia, they underwent much hardship and tribulations, they were stoned and they were locked up in prison. In one of the villages they met up with the Apostle John the Theologian, and together they set off to Phrygia. In the city of Hieropolis by the power of their prayers they destroyed an enormous viper, which the pagans worshipped as a god. The holy Apostles Bartholomew and Philip with his sister proved their preaching with many a miraculous sign.
At Hieropolis there lived a man by the name of Stakhios, who had been blind for 40 years. When he received healing, he then believed in Christ and was baptised. News of this spread throughout the city, and a multitude of the people thronged to the house where the apostles were staying. The sick and those beset by demons were released from their infirmities, and many were baptised. The city governor gave orders to arrest the preachers and throw them in prison, and to burn down the house of Stakhios. At the trial pagan priests came forth with the complaint, that the strangers were turning people away from the worship of the ancestral gods. Thinking that perhaps some sort of magic power was hidden away in the clothes of the apostles, the governor gave orders to strip them. But Saint Mariam began to seem like a fiery torch before their eyes, and none dared touch her. They sentenced the saints to crucifixion. The Apostle Philip was raised up on the cross upside down. But there then began an earthquake, and a fissure in the earth swallowed up the governor of the city, together with the pagan priests and many of the people. Others took fright and rushed to take down the apostles from the crosses. Since the Apostle Bartholomew had not been put up high, they managed to take him down quickly. The Apostle Philip however had died. Making Stakhios the bishop of Hieropolis, the Apostle Bartholomew and Blessed Mariam left the city and moved on.
Preaching the Word of God, Mariam arrived in Likaoneia, where she peacefully died (Comm. 17 February). The Apostle Bartholomew set off to India, and there he translated from Hebrew the Gospel of Matthew, and he converted many pagans to Christ. He visited likewise Great Armenia (the country between the River Kura and the upper stretches of the Tigrus and Euphrates Rivers), where he worked many a miracle and healed the daughter of the emperor Polimios from the demons afflicting her. The emperor in gratitude sent gifts to the apostle, who however refused to accept them, saying that he sought only for the salvation of the souls of mankind. Then Polimios together with the empress, their healed daughter and many of those close to them accepted Baptism. And people from the ten cities of Great Armenia followed their example. But through the intrigues of the pagan priests, the Apostle Bartholomew was seized by the emperor brother Astiag in the city of Al'ban (now the city of Baku), and crucified upside down. But even from the cross he did not cease to proclaim the good news about Christ the Saviour. Finally, on orders from Astiag, they flayed the skin from the Apostle Bartholomew and cut off his head. Believers placed his remains in a pewter coffin and buried him.
In about the year 508 the holy relics of the Apostle Bartholomew were transferred to Mesopotamia, to the city of Dara. When the Persians seized the city in 574, Christians took the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew with them when they fled to the shores of the Black Sea. But since the enemy overtook them there, they were compelled to leave the coffin at the sea. By the power of God the coffin miraculously arrived on the island of Lipara. In the IX Century, after the taking of the island by the Arabs, the holy relics were transferred to the Neapolitan city of Beneventum in Italy, and in the X Century part of the relics were transferred to Rome.
There is mention about the holy Apostle Bartholomew in the Vita of Joseph the Melodist (+ 883, Comm. 4 April). Having received from a certain man part of the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew, the Monk Joseph conveyed them to his own monastery near Constantinople, and he built a church in the name of the Apostle Bartholomew, placing therein part of the relics. The Monk Joseph ardently desired to compile a laudation in song in honour of the saint, and he fervently besought God to grant him the ability to do so. On the feastday in memory of the Apostle Bartholomew, the Monk Joseph caught sight of him at the altar. He beckoned to Joseph and took the holy Gospel from the altar-table and pressed it to his bosom with the words: "Bless thou the Lord, and let thine song delight the world". And from that time the Monk Joseph began to write hymns and canons and with them adorn not only the feastday of the Apostle Bartholomew, but also the feastdays of many other saints, -- compiling altogether about 300 canons. Saints John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, Epiphanios of Cyprus and certain other teachers of the Church regard the Apostle Bartholomew as being one and the same person as Nathanael (Jn. 1: 45-51, 21: 2).
The Holy Disciple Barnabas was born on the island of Cyprus into the family of rich Hebrews, and he was named Joseph. He received his education at Jerusalem, being raised with his friend and co-student Saul (the future Apostle Paul) under the then reknown teacher of the law, Gamaliel. Joseph was pious, he frequented the Temple, he strictly observed the fasts and avoided youthful distractions. And during this time period our Lord Jesus Christ began His public ministry. Seeing the Lord and hearing His Divine Words, Joseph believed on Him as the Messiah, he was ardent with love for Him and followed Him. The Lord chose him to be among His Seventy Disciples. And it was amongst the followers of the Lord that Joseph received a second name -- Barnabas, which in Hebrew means "son of consolation". After the Ascension of the Lord to Heaven, Barnabas sold land belonging to him near Jerusalem and he brought the money to the feet of the Apostles, leaving nothing for himself (Acts 4: 36-37).
When Saul after his conversion arrived in Jerusalem and sought to join with the followers of Christ, everyone there was afraid of him as having been a persecutor but a short while before. Barnabas however came with him to the Apostles and reported, how the Lord had appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9: 26-28).
As entrusted him by the Apostles, Saint Barnabas went to Antioch to encourage the believers: "Having come and having seen the grace of God, he rejoiced and he urged all to cleave to the Lord with sincerity of heart" (Acts 11: 23). Then the Disciple Barnabas went to Tarsis, and thereafter he brought the Apostle Paul to Antioch, where for about a year they taught the people in the Church. It was here that the disciples first began to be called Christians (Acts 11: 26). With the onset of famine, and taking along generous alms, Paul and Barnabas returned to Jerusalem. When king Herod killed the Apostle James Zebedaeus, and to please the Jews had the Apostle Peter put under guard in prison, Saints Barnabas and Paul and Peter were led out of the prison by an Angel of the Lord, and they hid out at the house of Barnabas' aunt Maria. Later, when the persecution had quieted down, they returned to Antioch, taking with them Maria's son John, surnamed Mark. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the prophets and teachers there imposed hands upon Barnabas and Paul, and sent them off on matters to which the Lord had summoned them (Acts 13: 2-3). Arriving in Seleucia, they sailed off to Cyprus and in the city of Salamis they preached the Word of God in the Jewish synagogues. On Paphos they came across a sorcerer and false-prophet named Barjesus, who was close with the proconsul Sergios. Wanting to hear the Word of God, the proconsul invited the saints to come to him. The sorcerer attempted to sway the proconsul from the faith, but the Apostle Paul denounced the sorcerer, who through his words suddenly fell blind. The proconsul believed in Christ (Acts 13: 6-12). From Paphos Barnabas and Paul set sail for Pergamum Pamphylia, and then they preached to the Jews and the Gentiles at Pisidian Antioch and throughout all that region. The Jews made a riot and expelled Paul and Barnabas. The saints arrived in Iconium, but learning that the Jews wanted to stone them, they withdrew to Lystra and Derben. There the Apostle Paul healed a man, crippled in the legs from birth. The people assumed them to be the gods Zeus and Hermes and wanted to offer them sacrifice. The saints just barely persuaded them not to do this (Acts 14: 8-18).
When the question arose, whether those converted from the Gentiles should accept circumcision, Barnabas and Paul set off to Jerusalem. There they were warmly received by the Apostles and elders. The preachers related, "what God had wrought with them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles "Acts 14: 27). After long deliberations the Apostles collectively resolved not to impose upon Gentile-Christians any sort of burden beyond that necessary -- to refrain from idol-sacrifice and its blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication, and not to do to others that which they themselves not do (Acts 15: 19-20). Letters were dispatched with Barnabas and Paul, and they again evangelised at Antioch, and after a certain while they decided to visit the other cities, where earlier they had preached. The Disciple Barnabas wanted to take Mark along with him, but the Apostle Paul did not want to, since earlier he had gone off from them. A quarrel arose, and they separated. Paul took with him Silas and set off to Syria and Cilicia, and Barnabas took with him Mark -- to Cyprus (Acts 15: 36-41).
Having multiplied the number of believers, the Disciple Barnabas set off to Rome, where he was perhaps the first to preach Christ.
The Disciple Barnabas founded the episcopal seat at Mediolanum (now Milan in Italy), and upon his return to Cyprus he continued to preach about Christ the Saviour. Thereupon the enraged Jews incited the pagans against Saint Barnabas, and they led him out beyond the city and stoned him, and then built a bon-fire so as to burn the body. Later on, having come upon this spot, Mark took up the unharmed body of the Disciple Barnabas and buried it in a cave, placing upon the bosom of Saint Barnabas, in accord with his final wishes, the Gospel of Matthew copied out in his own hand.
The Disciple Barnabas died in about the year 62, at age 76. Over the course of time the place of burial of the Disciple Barnabas was forgotten. But numerous signs appeared at this place. In the year 448, during the time of the emperor Zeno, the Disciple Barnabas thrice appeared in a dram-vision to the Cyprus archbishop Anthymos and indicated the place of burial of his relics. Starting to dig at the indicated spot, Christians found the incorrupt body of the saint, and upon his chest was the Holy Gospel. It was from these times that the Cyprus Church began to be termed Apostolic in origin and received the right of autonomously choosing its head. And thus the Disciple Barnabas defended Cyprus against the pretensions of the opponent of the Fourth OEcumenical Council, the heretic surnamed Knapheios, who had usurped the patriarchal throne at Antioch and sought to gain dominion over the Cyprus Church.
Holy Hierarch Luke was born in 1877 in the town of Kertch, in the Taurida District. He graduated from secondary school and art school in Kiev. In 1903, he graduated from Great Prince St. Vladimir Medical School at the University of Kiev, and for a long time worked as a local district physician.In 1921, a time of intense persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church, when the future for clergy promised only the heavy Cross of becoming a Confessor and Martyr, he chose the path of service to the Church, and was ordained a priest. In 1923, he was tonsured a monk and then consecrated Bishop of Tashkent and Turkestan. The same year he was arrested and exiled to Siberia.
In 1926, Bishop Luke returned to Tashkent, but in 1930 was again arrested and sentenced to three years of exile. Upon his release, he once again returned to Tashkent, and spent his time in medical practice. A fruit of this work was the appearance of his book Notes on Purulent Surgery, which laid the foundation for an entire medical specialty. For that work, Bishop Luke was awarded the degree of Doctor of Medical Science in 1936, and his work continues to be used in medicine to this day.
In 1937, Vladyka was arrested, and spent more than two difficult years undergoing tortuous interrogation. Nonetheless, resting his hope in the Lord, he courageously endured those trials, not only refusing to agree to false accusations against him, but engaging in active protests – refusing to eat, and sending complaints to the highest authorities against the prosecutors’ illegal actions. He would say to his fellow prisoners, “They demand that I remove my ryassa. I will never do so. It, my ryassa, will be with me to my very death… I help people as a physician, and I help them as a servant of the Church….”
In 1940, Bishop Luke was sentenced to five years of exile in the Krasnoyarsk area. At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War [World War II], Bishop Luke offered the authorities his services as a doctor, and in 1941 was appointed consultant to the hospitals of Krasnoyarsk. In 1942, Vladyka was elevated to the rank of Archbishop and appointed to the Krasnoyarsk kathedra, which at the time did not have a single church. Through Archbishop Luke’s efforts, in 1943 a church was opened in a suburb of Krasnoyarsk . “All of Eastern Siberia, from Krasnoyarsk to the Pacific Ocean, gave no sign of church life…” he wrote to Patriarch Sergius. “If churches in various parts of the Krasnoyarsk area are not opened in the near future, there is a risk that the people will lapse into religious savagery....”
In 1944, the archbishop was appointed to the kathedra in Tambov. In 1946, for outstanding scientific work in the area of medicine, he was awarded the Stalin Prize; he donated almost all of the money to help children who had suffered as the result of the War. In 1946 Vladyka was appointed to the kathedra of Crimea, where at first he combined archpastoral service with medical assistance to the people, but later dedicated himself to Church service, zealously working to build up Christ’s vineyard, something that, under the conditions of life under Communist authorities, then demanded great courage and faith. Archbishop Luke reposed on June 11, 1961, on the day the Russian Orthodox Church celebrated the memory of All Saints of the Russian Land.
Holy Hiero-confessor St. Luke (Voino-Yasenetsky) was a precious vessel of Divine grace. Like his heavenly patron, the Holy Apostle St. Luke, he was a physician who continued Apostolic work; like the Apostle Paul he preached Christ’s Gospel not only in church but in prison, in exile, to friends, to persecutors, to well-wishing supporters, and while enduring sorrows at the hands of false friends. He was one of those people of unique importance to people who cannot do something for themselves alone, who cannot limit themselves their activities to only what pleases them. For such people, the duty of serving one’s neighbor is not an empty phrase, and for that reason in their activities they do not make choices by mere chance, do not build on a foreign foundation, but strive to find what needs to be done, right here and right now, and what will benefit all society. These are builders and workers who boldly come out onto the field of life in response to the Lord’s challenge. To the ten talents given them by the Lord they return an additional ten. And that is the embodiment of the Gospel model for all of us.
The priest Mitrophan (also Metrophanes), whose Chinese name was Ji chong or Tsi Chung (the English transliterations vary), was born on December 10, 1855. He lost his father in early childhood and was raised under the care of his grandmother Ekaterina and his mother Marina; his mother was a teacher at a school for women. At this time he experienced many troubles. When Archimandrite Pallady became head of the mission for the second time, he charged his teacher Juren Long Yuan to take great care in educating Mitrophan, in order to prepare him for his eventual ordination. Before reaching twenty years of age, he was appointed to the post of catechist. At 25 he was ordained to the priesthood by Nikolai, bishop of Japan.
Mitrophan was a humble person, very cautious and quiet, peaceful and dispassionate; even when faced with great insults, he did not try to justify himself. From the time of his arrival in Beijing (北京, Peking), Archimandrite Pallady charged Mitrophan, as did his teacher Long Yuan, to try to attain the priesthood. Mitrophan, however, did not want to accept ordination and constantly refused it, saying "how can a person with insufficient abilities and charity dare to accept this great rank?" But under the forceful urging of Archimandrite Flavian, succesor to Pallady, and the persuasion of the teacher, Mitrophan obeyed, even though he knew that by accepting the priesthood, his end would be inevitable. Under Archimandrite Flavian, Mitrophan assisted in translating and checking books. For fifteen years, he tirelessly served God while suffering many hurts and insults, both from his own people and outsiders. He finally had a mild breakdown. Sometime after this he spent three years living outside the mission, receiving half of his previous salary. All his life Father Mitrophan was never greedy, and many took advantage of this.
On the evening of June 1, 1900 (which was the 17th day of the 5th month on the Chinese calendar)1, the Boxers (Yihetuan Movement) burned the buildings of the mission. About seventy Christians, hiding from danger, assembled in St Mitrophan's home. Although Fr. Mitrophan's former ill-wishers were among them, he did not drive them out. Seeing that some people were dispirited, he strengthened them, saying that the time of troubles had come and would be difficult to avoid. He himself several times daily went to look at the burned church. On the 10th of June, towards 10 in the evening, soldiers and Boxers surrounded Fr. Mitrophan's dwelling. Up to seventy Christians were there at the time; the stronger among them fled, while Fr. Mitrophan and many others, primarily women and children, remained and were tortured. Fr. Mitrophan sat in his courtyard when the Boxers punctured his chest, and he fell under a date tree. His neighbors removed his body to the mission's almshouse. Later the hieromonk Avraamy picked up Fr. Mitrophan's body and, in 1903, during the first commemoration of the martyrs, it and those of the others, were placed under the altar in the martyrs' church.
Fr. Mitrophan’s family members were also tortured; they included his wife Tatiana and his three sons: the eldest, named Isaiah; the second, called Sergiy, a priest; and the third, Ioann.
The Monk Varnava (Barnabas) of Vetluzhsk was born in Great Ustiug. Before going off into the wilderness he was a priest in one of the city churches. In 1417 the monk settled at one of the banks of the River Vetluga at Red Hill (Krasnaya Gora), where he asceticised in solitude over the course of 28 years, "toiling for God in psalmody and prayer, he subsisted on grass and acorns". In the words of the author of the Life of the saint, there came also to Saint Varnava "wild animals, and many a bear did live nigh to his cell... He however did walk amongst them, as though amongst cattle, watching after them and delighting with them; rejoicing in the great God that these beasts were become tame for him".
In the surroundings of Red Hill as far off as 50 versts, there was not a single human habitation. Occasionally wilderness people would visit "for a blessing", and he would predict to them, that after his repose on the banks of the River Vetluga "God would multiply the human habitation, and upon the place of his dwelling monks would live".
According to tradition, in 1439, before he settled at the River Unzha, the Monk Makarii (Comm. 25 July) came hither for instruction and guidance. The Monk Varnava died in old age on 11 June 1445. After the end of the ascetic, at the place of his efforts there came to dwell "from various lands" many a monk and "after them farmers" and "many people did spread all along this river all the way to the great River Volga". At Red Hill the monks built two churches -- the one in honour of the MostHoly Trinity, and the other, over the grave of the monk -- in the name of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, and they founded a common-life monastery, which received as its name "the Varnavinsk wilderness-monastery". The Vita of Saint Varnava was written in 1639 by a monk of the Varnavinsk monastery -- "the very venerable priest-monk Iosif (Dyadkin), who was afterwards in the imperial city of Moscow the chief director of the directory of book printing". For the authentication and verification of the miracles, which occurred at the grave of the monk, in that same year of 1639 there was a witnessing of the holy relics under the direction of Patriarch Joasaph.
With the passing of time at the place of the Varnavinsk monastery there arose the district town Varnavin, and the chief church of the monastery became the cathedral church in the name of the Disciple Barnabas.
The Vitae/Lives of the Monk Onuphrios the Great and of other hermits of the IV Century, asceticising in the inner Thebaid wilderness in Egypt (among them were the Monk Timothy the Wilderness-Dweller, and the Monks John, Andrew, Herakleimon (Heraklambonos), Theophilos and others) -- was written down by their contemporary and fellow monk of the Thebaid, the Monk Paphnutios.
One time the thought occurred to Saint Paphnutios to go off into the depths of the wilderness, in order to see for himself the fathers asceticising there and to hear from them, as to how they sought after salvation. He set out from his monastery and went into the wilderness. Over the span of four days the monk reached a cave and found in it the body of a long since dead elder. Having buried the hermit, the Monk Paphnutios went on further. After another four days he came across yet another cave and from the marks in the sand he realised, that the cave was inhabited. At sundown he saw an herd of buffalo and walking amidst them a man. This man was naked, but covered over literally as though by clothing by long hair. This was the Monk Timothy the Wilderness-Dweller. Catching sight of a fellow man, the Monk Timothy thought that he was seeing an apparition, and he began to pray. Saint Paphnutios finally convinced the hermit, that he was actually a live man and a fellow Christian. The Monk Timothy readied him a guest-place and related, that he had been already asceticising in the wilderness for 30 years, and this was the first he had seen of another man. In his youth, the Monk Timothy had lived in a common-life monastery, but he was troubled by thoughts of being saved alone. The Monk Timothy left his monastery and went to live nearby a city, sustaining himself by the work of his own hands (he was a weaver). One time a woman came to him with an order and he fell into sin with her. Having come to his senses, the fallen monk went far off into the wilderness, where with patience he underwent tribulation and sickness as a merited chastisement from God. And when he was already at the point of dying from hunger, just then in a miraculous manner he received healing.
From that time the Monk Timothy had lived peacefully in complete solitude, eating dates from the trees, and quenching his thirst with water from a spring. The Monk Paphnutios besought the elder that he might remain with him in the wilderness. But he was told, that he would be unable to bear the demonic temptations which beset wilderness-dwellers, and instead he blessed him and supplied him on his way with dates and water.
Having rested up at the wilderness monastery, the Monk Paphnutios undertook a second journey into the depths of the wilderness. He went on for 17 days. His supply of bread and water was exhausted, and the Monk Paphnutios twice collapsed from weakness. An Angel strengthened him. On the 17th day the Monk Paphnutios reached an hilly place and sat down to rest. Here he caught sight of a man approaching him, from head to foot covered with white hair and with a belt of leaves about the loins. The sight of the elder frightened Saint Paphnutios, and he jumped up and fled off towards the hill. The elder sat down at the foot of the hill. And when, lifting his head, he caught sight of the Monk Paphnutios, he called out to him to come over. This was the great wilderness-dweller -- the Monk Onuphrios. At the request of Saint Paphnutios, he told him about himself.
The Monk Onuphrios had lived in complete isolation in the wilds of the wilderness for 60 years. In his youth he had been raised at the Erita Thebaid monastery. Having learned from the elders about the hardships and lofty life of the wilderness-dwellers, to whom the Lord dispatched help through His Angels, the Monk Onuphrios blazed up in his spirit to copy their exploits. By night he secretly left the monastery and saw before himself a ray of light. Saint Onuphrios became frightened and decided to go back, but the voice of his Guardian Angel urged him on upon his utmost path. In the depths of the wilderness the Monk Onuphrios came upon a wilderness dweller and he stayed with him to learn of the wilderness manner of life and the struggle with demonic temptations. When the elder was convinced, that Saint Onuphrios was strong enough in this terrible struggle, he then led him off to this bidden place of exploits and left him alone. Once a year the elder was wont to come to him, and after several years, having finally come to the Monk Onuphrios, he then died.
At the request of the Monk Paphnutios, the Monk Onuphrios told about his exploits and efforts and about how the Lord had cared for him: roundabout the cave where he lived, there grew a date-palm tree and a spring of pure water issued forth. Twelve different branches of the palm tree in succession bore fruit, and so the monk endured neither hunger nor thirst. The shade of the palm tree sheltered him from the noonday heat. An Angel brought the saint bread and each Saturday and Sunday communed him, as also with the other wilderness dwellers, with the Holy Mysteries.
The monks conversed until evening. At evening there appeared amidst the saints white bread, and they partook of it with water. The elders spent the night at prayer. After the singing of matins the Monk Paphnutios saw, that the face of the Monk Onuphrios had become transformed, which frightened him. Saint Onuphrios was saying: "God, Merciful to all, hath sent thee to me, so that thou might give burial to my body. On this present day I shalt finish my earthly course and pass over to life unending, in rest eternal, going to my Christ". The Monk Onuphrios bid Saint Paphnutios, that he should tell the account about him to his brother ascetics and to all Christians, for the sake of their salvation.
The Monk Paphnutios besought blessing to remain in the wilderness, but Saint Onuphrios said, that this was not the will of God, and he ordered him to return to the monastery and relate to everyone about the lives of the Thebaid Wilderness-Dwellers. Having then blessed the Monk Paphnutios and made farewell, Saint Onuphrios prayed long with tears, and then he lay down upon the earth, uttering his final words: "Into Thine hands, my God, I commend my spirit", -- and he died.
The Monk Paphnutios with weeping tore off a portion of his garb and with it wrapped the body of the great wilderness dweller, which he placed in the crevice of a large rock, and in the semblance of a grave, he covered it over with a multitude of small stones. Then he began to pray, whether it was that the Lord had decided he should stay til his life's end at the place of the exploits of the Monk Onuphrios. Suddenly the cave fell in, the palm tree withered, and the water spring dried up.
Realising that he had not been given the blessing to remain, the Monk Paphnutios set out on his return journey.
After 4 days the Monk Paphnutios reached a cave, where he met a wilderness dweller, who was there in the wilderness for more than 60 years. Except for the two other elders, with whom he asceticised, this wilderness dweller had seen no one in that time. Each week these three had gone on their solitary paths into the wilderness, and on Saturday and Sunday they gathered for psalmody. They ate the bread, which an Angel brought them. And since it was Saturday, they had gathered together. Having partaken of the bread from the Angel, they spent the whole night at prayer. In leaving, the Monk Paphnutios asked the names of the elders, but they said: "God, Who knoweth all, knoweth also our names. Remember us, that we be vouchsafed to see one another in God's habitations on high".
Continuing on his way, the Monk Paphnutios came upon an oasis, which impressed him with its beauty and abundance of fruit-bearing trees. And then the four youths inhabiting this place came to him from out of the wilderness. The youths told the Monk Paphnutios, that in their childhood they had lived in the city of Oxyrhynchus (Upper Thebaid) and they had studied together. They had been ardent with the desire to devote their lives to God. Making their plans to go off into the wilderness, the youths left the city and after several days journey they reached this wilderness area. A man radiant with light met them and led them to a wilderness elder. "We are living here six years already, -- said the youths, -- Our elder dwelt here one year and then he died. We live here at present alone, we eat of the fruit of the trees, and we have water from a spring". The youths gave him their names: they were Saints John, Andrew, Heraklambonos (Herakleimon) and Theophilos. The youths asceticised separately from one another the whole week long, but on Saturday and Sunday they gathered at the oasis and offered up common prayer. On these days an Angel would appear and commune them with the Holy Mysteries. This time however, because of the Monk Paphnutios, they did not go off into the wilderness, but spent the whole week together at prayer. On the following Saturday and Sunday Saint Paphnutios together with the youths was granted to commune the Holy Mysteries from the hands of the Angel and to hear the words of utterance of the Angel: "Receive ye the Food Imperishable, the Bliss Unending and Life Eternal, the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, our God".
The Monk Paphnutios made bold to ask of the Angel the permission to remain to the end of his days in the wilderness. The Angel answered, that God had decreed for him another path -- to return to Egypt and to make report to all Christians about the life of the wilderness dwellers.
Having made his farewell of the youths, the Monk Paphnutios after three days journey reached the edge of the wilderness. Here he found a small skete monastery, and the brethren received him fondly. The Monk Paphnutios related everything, that he had learned about the holy fathers, whom he had encountered in the depths of the wilderness. The brethren wrote down in detail the account of the Monk Paphnutios and spread it about through other sketes and monasteries. The Monk Paphnutios gave thanks to God, Who had granted him to learn about the lofty lives of the hermits of the Thebaid wilderness, and he returned to his own monastery.
The Monk Peter of Athos, a Greek by birth, served as a soldier in the imperial armies and he lived at Constantinople. In the year 667 during the time of a war with the Syrians, Saint Peter was taken captive and locked up in a fortress in the city of Samara on the River Euphrates.
For a long time he languished in prison and he pondered over what sins of his had incurred the chastisement of God. Saint Peter remembered, that once upon a time he had the intention to leave the world and go off to a monastery, but he had not done so. He began to observe strict fast in the prison and to pray fervently, and he besought of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker to intercede before God for him. Saint Nicholas appeared in a dream to Saint Peter and advised him to call for help on Saint Simeon the God-Receiver. And encouraging the prisoner in patience and hope, Saint Nicholas once more appeared to him in a dream. The third time it was not in a dream that he appeared with Saint Simeon the God-Receiver. Saint Simeon touched his staff to the chains of Saint Peter, and the chains melted away, literally like wax. The doors of the prison opened up, and Saint Peter emerged to freedom. Saint Simeon the God-Receiver became invisible, but Saint Nicholas conveyed Saint Peter to the borders of the Greek lands. And reminding him of his vow, Saint Nicholas likewise became invisible. Saint Peter then journeyed to Rome to assume the monastic form at the tomb of the Apostle Peter. And even here Saint Nicholas did not leave without his help: he appeared in a dream to the Pope of Rome and informed him about the circumstances of Saint Peter's liberation from captivity, and he commanded the Pope to tonsure the former prisoner into monasticism.
On the following day, amidst a numerous throng of the people during Divine-services, the Pope loudly exclaimed: "Peter, thou who art come from the Greek lands, and whom Saint Nicholas hath freed from prison in Samara, come thou forth unto me". Saint Peter stood forth in front of the Pope, who tonsured him into monasticism at the tomb of the Apostle Peter. The Pope taught Saint Peter the rules of monastic life and kept the monk by him. And then with a blessing he sent off Saint Peter thither, whence God had blessed him to journey.
Saint Peter boarded a ship, sailing to the East. The ship-owners, during a time of having come ashore, besought Saint Peter to come and pray at a certain house, wherein the owner and all the household lay sick. Saint Peter healed them through his prayer.
The MostHoly Mother of God then appeared in a dream to Saint Peter and indicated the place, where he should live til the very end of his days -- Holy Mount Athos. When the ship sailed alongside Athos, it then halted of its own accord. Saint Peter realised, that this was the place he had to go, and so he went ashore. This was in the year 681. The Monk Peter then dwelt in the desolate places of the Holy Mountain, not seeing another person for 53 years. His clothing had tattered, but his hair and beard had grown out and covered his body in place of clothes.
At first the Monk Peter was repeatedly subjected to demonic assaults. Trying to force the saint to abandon his cave, the devils took on the form at times of armed soldiers, and at other times of fierce beasts and vipers that seemed ready to tear apart the hermit. But through fervent prayer to God and the Mother of God, the Monk Peter conquered the demonic assaults. Then the enemy began to resort to trickery. Appearing under the guise of a lad, sent to him from his native home, he with tears besought the monk to leave the wilderness and return to his own home. The monk was in tears, but without hesitation answered: "Hither have the Lord and the MostHoly Mother of God led me, and without Her leave I go not from hence". Hearing the Name of the Mother of God, the demon vanished.
After seven years the devil came before the monk in the guise of a luminous angel and said, that God was commanding him to go into the world for the enlightening and salvation of people needful of his guidance. The experienced ascetic again replied, that without the permission of the Mother of God he would not forsake the wilderness. The devil disappeared and did not bother more to approach the saint. The Mother of God appeared to the Monk Peter in a dream together with Saint Nicholas and said to the brave hermit, that each 40 days an Angel would bring him Heavenly manna. From that time the Monk Peter fasted for 40 days, and on the fortieth day he fortified himself with the Heavenly manna, receiving the strength for further forty-day abstinence.
One time a hunter, chasing after a stag, caught sight of the naked man, covered about with hair and girded about the loins with leaves. He took fright and was about to flee. The Monk Peter stopped him and told him about his life. The hunter asked leave to remain with him, but the saint sent him off home. The Monk Peter gave the hunter a year for self-examination and forbade him to tell about the meeting with him.
A year later the hunter returned with his brother, afflicted with a demon, and together with several other companions. When they entered the cave of the Monk Peter, they then saw, that he had already reposed to God. The hunter amidst bitter sobs told his companions about the life of the Monk Peter, and his brother, with but a touch to the body of the saint, received healing. The Monk Peter died in the year 734. His holy relics were situated on Athos at the monastery of Saint Clement. During the Iconoclast period the relics were hidden away, and in the year 969 they were transferred to the Thracian village of Photokami. With the name of the Monk Peter of Athos is connected the sacred testimonial of the Mother of God about Her earthly appenage -- Holy Mount Athos, which even now presently remains in force: "To Mount Athos let there be its peace, for this is allotted Me by My Son and God, given unto Me, wherein let them be separated from worldly whisperings and gathered together those spiritual in the power of their exploits, with faith and love in soul calling out My Name, thereupon to pass their earthly lifetime without travail, and for their God-pleasing deeds to receive life eternal: for exceedingly do I love this place and I do wish upon it the increase of monks, and they possessing the mercy of My Son and God thereupon as monks shalt never be undone, if they observe the saving commandments: and I shalt spread them forth upon the Mountain to the south and to the north, and they shalt possess it from the world til the end of the world, and their name throughout all under the sun I shalt make praiseworthy and so defend those, which there with patience would asceticise in fasting".
The Monk Arsenii of Konevsk was a native of Novgorod. He was a craftsman and he fashioned various items from copper. The saint accepted tonsure at the Lisich monastery near Novgorod, where he spent 11 years. From there he set off to Athos. And there the Monk Arsenii spent three years, dwelling in prayer and preparing for the Athos brethren vessels of copper.
In the year 1393 the Monk Arsenii returned to Russia and brought with him an icon of the Mother of God, which afterwards was called the Konevsk. The Monk Arsenii set out with this icon to the island of Konevets on Lake Ladoga. Here he spent five years in solitude. In 1398 with the blessing of the Novgorod archbishop Ioann, the Monk Arsenii laid the foundations of a common-life monastery in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God. He visited Athos a second time, and besought of the holy fathers their prayers and blessing for the monastery. In 1421 the lake flooded, wiping out the monastery structures, and it forced the Monk Arsenii to relocate the monastery to a new spot on the island. The Monk Arsenii died in the year 1447 and was buried in the monastery church. The life of the monk was written during the XVI Century by the Konevsk hegumen Varlaam. In 1850 the Life of the Monk Arsenii was published together with the service and laudation.
The Monk Onuphrii of Mal'sk and Pskov (Izborsk) founded a monastery in honour of the Nativity of the Mother of God at Mala, four versts from Izborsk and 56 versts from Pskov. The saint died on 12 June 1592 and was buried in the Nativity church, in a chapel named for him. The memory of the Monk Onuphrii is celebrated likewise on the so-called "Mal'sk Sunday" -- the 1st Sunday after the Peter and Paul fast.
The Monk Stephen of Ozersk and Komel'sk was born in the latter half of the XV Century in the Vologda lands. His father served at the prince's court, but the mundane life was not for the soul of the youth. He went off to the Glushitsk monastery of the Monk Dionysii, where he soon accepted monastic tonsure. With the blessing of the Glushitsk hegumen, the Monk Stephen made the rounds of the northern monasteries, in order to discover the spiritual customs. Having returned to the Vologda lands, he settled near the source of the River Komela. The Monk Stephen led a strict life. Once during the time of tearful prayer the monk was granted to see the MostHoly Virgin and Saint Nicholas, who besought the Mother of God to bless Saint Stephen to establish a monastery. In the year 1534 the Monk Stephen built a church in the name of Saint Nicholas. The monk reposed peacefully in the year 1542.
Holy Nobleborn Princess Anna of Kashinsk died on 2 October 1338. Her holy relics were uncovered on 21 July 1649. The solemn transfer of her relics from the wooden Uspenie-Dormition cathedral into the stone Resurrection church occurred on 12 June 1650. To the day of 12 June was appointed also the restoration of churchly veneration of Saint Anna. The account about her is located under 2 October.
The Holy Martyress Acelina, a native of the Phoenician city of Byblos, suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Her parents raised her in Christian piety. When the girl was but 12 years of age, she persuaded a pagan friend to convert to Christ. One of the servants of the imperial governor Volusian made a denunciation, that she was teaching her peers not to honour the religion of their fathers. The girl firmly confessed her faith in Christ in front of the governor and said, that she would not renounce Him. Volusian tried by persuasion and by flattery to sway the young confessor, but seeing her assuredness, he then gave orders to hand her over for torture. They struck her upon the face, and then, having been stripped they whipped her. The torturer mockingly asked: "Where then is thy God? Let Him come and take thee out of my hands". The saint answered: "The Lord is invisibly here together with me, and the more I suffer, all the more shalt He give me strength and endurance".
With red-hot rods they drilled at the head of the martyress at the ears. The holy martyress fell down as though dead. The torturer decided that the girl had actually died, and he gave orders to throw out her body outside the city for devouring by dogs. By night an holy Angel appeared to Saint Acelina, roused her and said: "Arise and be well. Go and denounce Volusian, that he himself and his intent are thus come to naught before God". The martyress, offering up praise to God, and having been restored unharmed, went to the court of the governor and stood before Volusian. Seeing Saint Acelina, Volusian in fright called for his servants and ordered them to keep watch over her until morning. In the morning he delivered a death sentence against Saint Acelina on the grounds of being a sorceress and not obeying the imperial decrees. When they led the saint to execution, she prayed and gave thanks to God, for having granted her to suffer for His Holy Name. A voice was heard in answer to her prayer, summoning her to the Heavenly Kingdom, after which the martyress gave up her spirit to God (+ 293). The executioner feared to disobey the orders of the governor, and although already dead, he cut off her head. Christians piously buried the body of the martyress. Later on, her relics were taken to Constantinople and placed within a church named for her.
The Holy Martyress Antonina suffered during the III Century under Diocletian (284-305) in the city of Nicea. They tortured her which way -- they burnt at her with fire, they put her on a red-hot plate, they bored with red-hot rods into her hands and feet and they threw her in prison, where she languished for two days. The torments did not break the spirit of Saint Antonina, and to her very death she confessed her faith in Christ. The threw the holy martyress into the sea.
Sainted Triphyllios, Bishop of Leukyssa, was born in Constantinople, and he received his education at Berit (Beirut, in Lebanon). He was very intelligent and eloquent. In spite of this, the saint chose as his guide a man not bookish nor learned, but of profound holiness -- Sainted Spyridon of Trimiphunteia (+ 348, Comm. 12 December). The emperor Constantine II (337-340) fell grievously ill and, having received no help from the doctors, he turned with fervent prayer to God. In a dream he saw an Angel, directing him to a gathering of saintly hierarchs. Pointing out two of them, the Angel said that only through them could he receive healing. Constantine circulated an imperial edict throughout all the districts, commanding the bishops to gather. Saint Spyridon also received this order. Together with his disciple Saint Triphyllios, he set out to the emperor. The sick one immediately recognised them as the healers pointed out by the Angel. He bowed to them and asked them to pray for his health. Saint Spyridon with a prayer touched the head of the emperor, and he became well. Saint Triphyllios was charmed by the beautiful palace, the majestic figure of the emperor, and the pomp of palace life. Saint Spyridon said to this: "Why art thou astonished? Doth then this lustre make the emperor any more righteous? All of them -- emperors and dignitaries -- will alike die and stand together with the very poorest before the judgement-seat of God. One ought to seek after the eternal blessings and Heavenly glories".
Soon Saint Triphyllios was made bishop of the city of Leukyssa on Cyprus. He often visited with Saint Spyridon. One time they passed together through an area of vineyards and gardens of especial beauty and abundance, named Parimnos. Saint Triphyllios, attracted by the beauty of nature, began to consider how they might explore this land. Saint Spyridon discerned the thoughts of Saint Triphyllios and said: "Why dost thou incessantly think about earthly and transitory blessings? Our habitation and riches art in Heaven, to which we ought to strive". Thus did Saint Spyridon constantly lead his student towards spiritual perfection, which Saint Triphyllios attained through the prayers of his preceptor. Saint Triphyllios had a charitable soul, an heart without malice, right faith and love towards all, and many other virtues.
One time a Council of bishops assembled on Cyprus. The father of the Council requested that Saint Triphyllios, known for his erudition and eloquence, give an edifying speech to the people. Speaking about the healing of the paralytic by the Lord (Mk. 2 : 11). in place of the word "cot" he used the word "bed". Impatient with the imprecise rendering of the Gospel text, Saint Spyridon roused himself and said to Saint Triphyllios: "Art thou better than He that spake "cot", that thou be ashamed of His wording?" -- and abruptly he left the church. Thus did Saint Spyridon give Saint Triphyllios a lesson in humility, so that he would not get puffed up with pride over the talent of eloquence bestown on him. Saint Triphyllios wisely shepherded his flock. From the means left him by his mother, he built a monastery at Leukyssa. The saint died in old age in about the year 370.
At the beginning of the XII Century the Russian pilgrim Hegumen Daniel saw the relics of Saint Triphyllios on Cyprus.
The Nun Anna and her son Saint John lived in Byzantium, and Saint Anna was the daughter of a deacon of the Blakhernae church in Constantinople. After the death of her husband, dressed in men's clothing and using the name Euthymian, together with her son Saint John she began to pursue asceticism in one of the Bythinian monasteries, near Olympos. The Nun Anna died in Constantinople in 826.
Her memory is celebrated a second time on 29 October.
The Holy Prophet Elisha (Elisei) lived in the IX Century before the Birth of Christ, and was a native of the village of Abelmaum, near Jordan. By the command of the Lord he was called to prophetic service by the holy Prophet of God Eliah (Ilias, Elijah) (Comm. 20 July).
When it became time for the holy Prophet Eliah to be taken up to Heaven, he said to Elisha: "Ask, what shalt I do for thee, before that I be taken from thee". Elisha boldly asked for a double portion of the grace of God: "The Spirit, which be in thee, let it be upon me twofold". The Prophet Eliah said: "Thou dost ask the difficult; if thou seest as I be taken from thee, then so shalt it be for thee, but if thou seest not, it wilt not be" (4  Kings 2: 12). And when they went along the way and conversed, there appeared a fiery chariot and horses and parted them both. Elisha cried out: "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horse!" (4  Kings 2: 12). Picking up the cloak (mantle) of his teacher which fell from the sky, Elisha received the power and prophetic gift of Eliah. He spent more than 65 years in prophetic service, under six Israelite kings (from Ahab to Joash). "And in those days he trembled not before the prince, and no one could overcome him" (Sirach 48: 13 ["Sirach" in the canon of Old Testament books is found in Catholic but not Protestant English translations of the Bible, rendered as "Ecclesiasticus"]). The holy prophet worked numerous miracles. He divided the waters of the Jordan, having smitten it with the mantle of the Prophet Eliah; he made fit for drinking the waters of a Jericho spring; by an abundant bringing forth of water by his prayer he saved the armies of the kings of Israel and Judah that stood in an arid wilderness; he delivered a poor widow from death by starvation through a miraculous increase of oil in a vessel. The Shunamite woman showing hospitality to the prophet was gladdened by the birth of a son through his prayer, and when the child died, he was raised back to life by the prophet. The Syrian military-commander Namaan was healed from leprosy but the servant of the prophet, Gehazi, was afflicted since he disobeyed the prophet and on the sly took money from Namaan. Elisha predicted to the Israelite king Joash the victory over his enemies and by the power of his prayer worked many other miracles (4  Kings 3-13). The holy Prophet Elisha died in old age at Samaria. "And in life he worked miracles, and at death astounding was his deed" (Sir. 48: 15). A year after his death, a corpse was thrown into the cave wherein lay his remains, and came alive by a mere touch to his bones. The Prophet Elisha, just like his teacher the Prophet Eliah, left behind them no books, since their prophetic preaching was but oral. Jesus, son of Sirach, inscribed eulogistic praise to both the great prophets (Sir. 48: 1-15).
Saint John Damascene compiled a canon in honour of the Prophet Elisha, and at Constantinople a church was built in his name.
Julian the Apostate (361-363) gave orders to burn the relics of the Prophet Elisha, Abdia (Obadiah) and John the Forerunner, but the remains of the holy relics were preserved by believers, and part of them were transferred to Alexandria.
Sainted Methodios, Patriarch of Constantinople, was born in Sicily into a rich family. Having a vocation to God, he went while still in his youth off to a monastery on the island of Chios and renovated it with his means. During the reign of the iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820), Saint Methodios held the high position of "apokrisiaros" ("advocate for Church matters") under the holy Patriarch Nicephoros (Comm. 2 June). He was dispatched by the patriarch to Rome on a mission to the papacy and he remained there. During this period Leo the Armenian removed Nicephoros from the patriarchal throne and put on it the iconoclast Theodotos of Melissinea, given the nickname "Kassiter" ("Tinman") (815-822). After the death of Leo the Armenian, Saint Methodios returned, and in the dignity of presbyter he struggled incessantly against the Iconoclast heresy. The emperor Michael the Stammerer (820-829) at first was noted for his benevolence and he set free many imprisoned by his predecessor for their veneration of icons, but after a while he renewed the persecution against Orthodoxy. Saint Methodios was locked up in prison in Akrita. After the death of Michael the Stammerer, the ruler was Theophilos (829-842), who also was an iconoclast. More refined a man than his father, he set free Saint Methodios, who likewise was a man of learning, superbly skilled in matters not only ecclesial, but also civil. Having received his freedom, Saint Methodios renewed the struggle with the heretics, and for a while the emperor tolerated this.
But after defeat in a war with the Arabs, Theophilos vented his anger against Saint Methodios, saying, that God had punished him because he had let come close to him an "icon-worshipper" (such was what the iconoclasts called those who venerate holy icons). Saint Methodios objected, saying that the Lord was angry with him for the insults upon His holy icons. They gave the saint over to tortures, and struck him much about the face, from which his jaw was broken. On his face remained ugly scars. Saint Methodios was sent off to the island of Antigonos and he was locked up there with two robbers in a deep cave. In this dark prison where the light of day penetrated not, Saint Methodios languished for 7 years until the death of the emperor Theophilos.
During this time, the holy Icon-Confessors Theodore and Theophanes the Lettered-Upon (Comm. 27 December), likewise banished to prison, sent Saint Methodios greetings in verse, and the prisoner likewise answered with greetings in verse.
After the death of Theophilos, his son Michael III (842-867) began to rule, but not being of mature age, the Byzantine empire was actually ruled by his mother, the empress Blessed Theodora, a venerator of icons.
The empress tired to extirpate the Iconoclast heresy, and gave orders to free the confessors imprisoned for icon veneration. The heretic Annios occupying the patriarchal throne was banished, and Saint Methodios chosen in his place. At Constantinople was convened a Local Council with Saint Methodios presiding (842). The Council restored icon veneration and established an annual celebration of the triumph of Orthodoxy. The "Rite of Orthodoxy" compiled by Saint Methodios is done on the First Sunday of the Great Lent.
Attempting to undermine the authority of Saint Methodios, and also the love and esteem of his flock for him, the heretics slandered him as having transgressed chastity. The slandering was exposed as such, and the enemies of the saint put to shame. The final years of the saint passed peacefully, he toiled much, wisely guided the Church and his flock, renovated temples ruined by the heretics, gathered up the relics of saints scattered about by the heretics, and transferred the relics of Patriarch Nicephoros from the place of his imprisonment back to Constantinople. Saint Methodios died in the year 846. He was spiritually close to the Monk Ioannikos (Comm. 4 November), who had foretold him his becoming patriarch and also the time of his end. Besides the "Rite of Orthodoxy", the holy hierarch also compiled a rule for those converted to the faith, three rites of marriage and several pastoral sermons and church songs.
The Monk Methodii, Hegumen of Peshnozh (XIV), was the founder of the Peshnozh monastery. In his youth he went to the Monk Sergei of Radonezh and spent several years under his guidance; later on, with the blessing of the Monk Sergei he withdrew into a solitary place and built himself a cell in the forest beyond the River Yakhroma. Soon in this deep and marshy locale several disciples came to him, wanting to imitate his life. The Monk Sergei visited him and advised him to build a monastery and church. The Monk Methodii himself toiled at the construction of the church and the cells, "on foot carrying" ("pesh nosya") wood along the river, and the monastery from that time began to be called "the Peshnozh".
In 1391 the Monk Methodii became hegumen of this monastery. At times he withdrew two versts from the monastery and here he asceticised in prayer, and here also the Monk Sergei came to him for spiritual conversation, wherefore this locale received the name "Beseda" ("Conversation-place").
The Monk Methodii was buried (+ 1392) at the monastery founded by him. In 1732 over his relics was erected a church in the name of the Monks Sergei of Radonezh and Methodii of Peshnozh. The beginning of his local celebration dates to the late XVII - early XVIII Centuries.
The Monk Elisei of Sumsk -- took monastic vows at the Solovetsk monastery. He was occupied with the plaiting of fishing nets. Before death he became a schemamonk. In 1688 miracles began from the grave of the monk, resting beneathe a crypt in the Nikol'sk church of the city of Suma, Archangel'sk diocese.
The Monk Nyphontes of Athos (XIV) was the son of a priest and from childhood he was raised under the principles of strict Christian morality. Upon taking monastic vows he soon was ordained to the dignity of presbyter. But the thirst for perfect quietude and solitary deeds led the monk to the Holy Mountain, where he asceticised for many years with the reknown Athonite elder -- the Monk Maximos Kausokalites ("the Hut-burner", Comm. 13 January). The Monk Nyphontes died at age 96, glorified by gifts of wonderworking and perspicacity.
The Holy Prophet Amos, third of the 12 Lesser Prophets, lived during the VIII Century before the Birth of Christ. At this time the Hebrew nation was divided into two kingdoms: the Judean and the Israelite. The Judean king Hosiah ruled in Jerusalem, but the 10 separated Israelite tribes were ruled by Jeroboam II, an idol-worshipper. At Bethel he set up an idol in the form of a golden calf, which they worshipped, having rejected the True God of the Israelites.
The Prophet Amos was a Judean, native to the city of Thekui. Simple and untaught, but strongly fervent of faith and zealous for the glory of the True God -- the shepherd was chosen by the Lord for prophetic service and sent to the Israelite kingdom for the purpose of denouncing the impiety of King Jeroboam, and the Israelites for falling away from God. The prophet predicted for them a great misfortune, which would befall the Israelite kingdom, and the pagan nations surrounding it, for their impiety. Because of his denunciations, the Prophet Amos repeatedly suffered beatings and torture. But he again returned to Bethel, and threatening inevitable misfortunes, he continued to call the Israelites to repentance. The pagan-priest Amasiah of the idolatrous temple in particular hated the prophet. The prophet predicted for him and all his household a speedy destruction and for this he was subjected to a beating. The son of Amasiah, Hosiah, struck the saint on the head with a club and seriously wounded him. The Prophet Amos, still alive, reached his native village and there he died in about the year 787 before the Birth of Christ.
The Monks Gregory and Kassian of Avnezh pursued asceticism at the River Sukhona in the Vologda land. On 15 June 1392 they died as martyrs at Avnezh monastery during an incursion by Tatars. The relics of the monk-martyrs were uncovered in the year 1524. In 1560, with the blessing of Makarii, -- Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia (+ 1564), the hegumen of Makrisch monastery Varlaam composed an account about the sanctity of the monk-martyrs.
The Holy Martyr Doulos was a pious christian from the city of Praetoriada. At the height of a persecution against Christians under Maximian (305-313) they arrested him and sent him to trial under the Cilicia district governor Maximus. Before the beginning of the trial the saint firmly besought the Lord to grant him the power of words for a denunciation of idol-worship.
At the interrogations the holy martyr bravely confessed Christ and forcefully denounced the false religion of the pagans and their gods with their shameful human vices and passions. The governor tried to confute his faith in Christ, but he was not able to resist against the grace-given words of Saint Doulos. The governor flew into a rage, tortured him without pity and after interrogation dispatched him back into prison. At each new interrogation the saint appeared strong in spirit and body, prepared for new torture. At the final interrogation for Saint Doulos, they broke his lower jaw, they broke his knees, and they bound him to the chariot of the governor and dragged him about. In this manner of suffering the holy martyr died, having signed himself with the sign of the cross.
They untied his body from the chariot and threw it into the river. The river current carried the remains of the holy Martyr Doulos to his native city right up to shore. Dogs of shepherds discovered the holy body. One of them sat and guarded the body of the holy martyr from birds, and another brought in its teeth a shepherd's robe and covered up the body of the saint. The shepherds led christians to the body of the holy Martyr Doulos, who then made the burial.
The Holy Martyrs Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia the Nursemaid, suffered for Christ during the reign of emperor Diocletian (284-305). The holy Martyr Vitus was son of an illustrious Sicilian dignitary, the pagan Gelas. While still a young lad, Saint Vitus was enflamed with an ardent love for the Lord Jesus Christ and he prayed incessantly to Him. The Lord gave him the grace of wonderworking. He healed the sick and converted many pagans to Christ. Learning about this, the governor Valerian summoned Gelas and advised him to turn his son away from faith in Christ; and how that were the emperor at some time to issue an edict for the persecution of Christians, not only the lad, but all the household of Gelas would suffer. But Gelas was not able to persuade Saint Vitus and he began to beat the lad. The governor Valerian learned that Saint Vitus had refused to offer sacrifice to the gods, and summoned him to trial before him. The holy lad firmly confessed his faith before the court and unconditionally refused to offer sacrifice to idols. They beat him again. When the governor, giving the signal for increasing the torture, lifted his hand, it immediately withered. The governor received healing through the prayer of the saint and, dissolving the trial, he gave back the holy lad to Gelas, having commanded that he not turn him away from faith in Christ.
In order to corrupt his son in fleshly sin, Gelas surrounded him in luxury, and brought pretty girls to him. They filled him with tasty food, arranged banquets and entertainment, but the expected results were not forthcoming. Saint Vitus did not cease to pray, and he asked God's help in temptations. Angels appeared to him and prayed with him. When Gelas went took his son and glanced at the Angels, he immediately went blind. Gelas gave a vow to recant from idols, and Saint Vitus healed him. But, stubborn of heart, Gelas did not keep his vow. Paternal love for his son turned to hatred for him, and he decided to kill him. In order to save the boy, his tutor Saint Modestus and his nurse Saint Crescentia -- who were Christians, secretly took him from his parental home. At the river they saw a boat. An Angel went into the boat together with them and they reached the Italian district of Lucanium, where the saints lived quietly -- hidden away from torturers. The holy lad never ceased to heal the sick and he converted pagans to Christianity. Here also news about him spread about.
Saints Vitus and Modestus went to present themselves before Diocletian. Taken with the fine appearance of the lad, he at first urged him to offer sacrifice to idols. The holy lad denounced senseless idol-worship and he healed a demoniac son of Diocletian. The emperor offered Saint Vitus great honours, fame and riches -- on the condition that he recant from the Christian faith. The lad refused and with his former courage he confessed himself a Christian. They locked him up in prison together with Saint Modestus. When Jesus Christ appeared to the prisoners -- strengthening them in their deed and giving His help, the fetters fell from their hands. Ascribing the miracle to magic, Diocletian gave command to throw Saint Vitus into a cauldron of boiling oil. The saint stood in it, as though in cool water, and remained unharmed. Then a fierce lion was set loose at him. The lad signed himself with the sign of the cross, and the beast peacefully lied down at his feet and began to lick his foot. They hung the holy martyrs on pillars and began to rip at them with iron claws. Saint Crescentia came out of the crowd of spectators, confessed herself a Christian and reproached the emperor for his cruelty. He sentenced her also to torture. Saint Vitus called out to God: "O God, save us by Thy power and deliver us". An earthquake started. Many pagans perished under the collapsed buildings, and Diocletian in fear fled to his chambers. An Angel released the martyrs from the pillars and took them to Lucanium. The holy Martyr Vitus prayed to God, that He would accept their souls in peace and not deprive His benefaction from all, who would keep their memory. From Heaven came a Voice: "Thy prayer is heard". The saints with joy gave up their souls to God. The sufferings of the holy Martyrs Vitus, Modestus and Crescentia occurred in about the year 303. The memory of these saints is celebrated also on 16 May. The relics of Saint Vitus were transferred to Prague (Praha). Holy Nobleborn prince Vyacheslav of the Czechs (Comm. 28 September) constructed a temple in honour of the holy Martyr Vitus, in which he was afterwards buried.
The Monk Ortesios (Orseses) Tabennisiotes (+ 380) was the successor of the Monk Pakhomias the Great (+ 348, Comm. 15 May). While still in his early years he attained to such a degree of spiritual experience, that the Monk Pakhomias entrusted to him the governance of the Khenobossa monastery. Once the Monk Pakhomias, conversing with his students, said about the Monk Ortesios: "I tell you, that Ortesios doth shine in the house of God, like a golden lamp". After the end of the Monk Pakhomias, Saint Ortesios against his will was chosen as head of the Tabennisiotan monks. To such a number did the brethren increase, that the Monk Ortesios appointed as his helper the Monk Theodore, and then gave over to him the complete rule of the monastery, while he himself withdrew to the Khenobossa monastery. Upon the death of Saint Theodore in the year 365, Sainted-bishop Athanasias the Great wrote to the Monk Ortesios and his brethren: "Beloved brethren, weep not for Theodore: he is not dead but asleep. No one should weep, but rather each should imitate him. It is not proper to weep for one, that hath gone over to a place without worries.. and to thee, dear and beloved Ortesios, I write: "since that he hath reposed, take upon thyself this care, replace him for the brethren. While yet he lived, ye were both as one". The Monk Ortesios fulfilled the will of Sainted Athanasias.
Abba Ortesios possessed a profound knowledge of holy Scripture and the gift of inspired words. "The power of his words, -- said a contemporary, -- it seems, grew in him to the solace of the brethren". "Ortesios, a man fully familiar with Holy Scripture, wrote a book, seasoned with spiritual salt, or to say, to explain almost all of the Old and New Testaments in short meditations for the needs of monks. He left it to the fathers together with his bequest before his death". The book was soon translated into the Greek language, and Blessed Jerome translated it into Latin. In the book of the Monk Ortesios there are two theses: a guide for the monastic life (translated into the Russian language in 1859) and a guide concerning six purposeful meditations.
The Monk Doulos the Passion-Bearer ( the time of his life is unknown), was a monk at one of the Egyptian monasteries. He distinguished himself by his meekness, humility and obedience. During the course of 20 years the monk endured the mockery, abuse and contempt of several of the monastic brethren. At first it was difficult for him to bear the deed of forbearance and humbly endure the insult, but continually humbling himself in soul and praying to God, he reached such a degree of passivity, that with all his heart he pitied his detractors and prayed for them.
At the end of his life the monk underwent temptation: a certain monk from among the brethren pilfered church vessels and hid them. When the hegumen and elders of the monastery started to sort out the details of the theft, they suspected Saint Doulos enough to assert that he had done the thievery, since on the day of the misdeed he had not appeared at the vigil service, although before this he had always come to church. Concerning this occurrence, on that day Saint Doulos was ill and not able to come to services. They led Saint Doulos to the elders, to whom he said that he was not guilty of the theft. But his enemies began to slander him, saying that they were witnesses. Convinced that they did not believe his words, the Monk Doulos did not argue but said: "Forgive me, holy fathers, I am a sinner". The hegumen gave orders to strip off the monastic garb and to dress him in worldly clothes. Sobbing bitterly, Saint Doulos prayed: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, because of Thy Holy Name I clothed myself in monastic form, but now, through my sins, it is stripped from me".
They put chains on the Monk Doulos, and the steward was nasty in demanding where were the church vessels hidden, but the innocent passion-bearer only repeated: "Forgive me, I have sinned". They then turned him over for trial to the civil authorities and subjected him to torture, but the saint repeated: "I have neither silver, nor the lost vessels". The city eparch asked the monks what to do with him, having delivered him over to the secular court. They answered: "Do with him as the laws prescribe". The saint was sentenced to have both his hands cut off. Before the execution of the sentence the governor asked the monk: "Tell us where the vessels are and thou shalt be free of execution". The saint answered: "Governor, thou wantest that I tell about myself something that I did not do? I do not want to tell lies about myself, since every lie is from the devil". They took the saint to the place of execution. Then finally, the perpetrator of the theft experienced remorse and went to the hegumen, asking that the execution be stopped.
They took the monk back to the monastery. The monks began to ask forgiveness of the saint, and not only did he not bear them malice, but also he was grateful, that they had given him the opportunity by guiltless suffering to efface transgressions done by him. The saint asked the Lord to pardon his accusers. After three days they found the monk having expired to God while kneeling at prayer. The burial was delayed until the arrival of the hegumen and brethren of a nearby monastery. The body of the saint was locked up under key in the cathedral. When all had gathered and gone into the church, the body of the guiltless passion-bearer was not in the cathedral, and there remained only his clothes and sandals.
Those, who had accused the Monk Doulos of sin, were shewn unworthy to give his body over to burial.
Blessed Jerome of Stridona was born into a Christian family in the city of Stridona (Dalmatia or Pannonia). For the completion of his education his parents sent him to Rome, where he studied the secular sciences. At the beginning of his life in the capital, the youth was captivated by worldly vanities, but soon there matured a decision to change his life to the very core. When the youth was about 20 years old, he accepted holy Baptism. After this he visited in Gaul (France). Here for Saint Jerome there awakened the desire to dedicate himself totally to God and accept monasticism.
In about the year 372 Blessed Jerome returned to his native city, but his parents had already departed from among the living. On him fell the care of raising his younger sisters and brother Paulinian. The taking of vows was put aside for the time. Blessed Jerome began zealously to study Holy Scripture.
Having made the domestic arrangements, he journeyed to the East and for about 5 years he dwelt at one of the Syrian monasteries, combining work on the Holy Scriptures with austere ascetic deeds. Besides this, Saint Jerome studied to perfection the Hebrew and Chaldean languages. During this period there began his correspondence with a numerous persons upon a variety of questions. About 120 letters have been preserved, considered authentically written by Blessed Jerome. During this time there arose a controversy between the proponents of bishops Meletios, Paulinos and Vitalius. The controversy also reached the monastery where Blessed Jerome toiled. In consequence, the disputes caused him to leave the monastery and go to Antioch. Here Bishop Paulinos ordained him to the dignity of presbyter. Afterwards, Blessed Jerome visited Constantinople, conversed with the Sainted-bishops Gregory the Theologian and Gregory of Nyssa, and in the year 381 set off to Rome. At Rome he continued his labour of studies. The holy Pope Damasus I (366-384), also pre-occupied with the study of Holy Scripture, brought him into his proximity. But because the saint denounced the morals of the contemporary Christian society, a whole party of those bearing malice towards the saint came forward. After a three year stay at Rome, Blessed Jerome felt compelled to abandon this city for good. Together with his brother Paulinian and friends, Blessed Jerome visited the Holy Land, and also the monks of the Nitreia wilderness monastery, and in the year 386 he settled into a cave at Bethlehem in the vicinity of the cave of the Nativity of Christ, and there he began a life of quite austere asceticism.
This was the period of blossoming of his creative activity. Attending to the studies of his time, Blessed Jerome left to the Church a rich written legacy: collections of dogmatic-polemic works, moral-ascetic works, works of commentary on Scripture, and historical works. But the most important of his works was the compiling into the Latin language in a new translation the books of the Old and New Testaments. This Latin translation is called the "Vulgate" and it passed into general use throughout the Western Church.
Blessed Jerome with deep sorrow lived through the fall of his beloved city Rome, which was sacked by the Goths in the year 410. And in the year 411 a new ordeal beset the saint, an invasion by wild Bedouin Arabs. Only through the mercy of God was the community of the aged ascetic saved from complete destruction. He finished his life at the cave in Bethlehem. The year of death of Blessed Jerome is reckoned as 420. His relics were transferred from Bethlehem to Rome.
Blessed Augustine was born in Africa, in the city of Tagaste (Thagaste). He was raised by his mother, the pious Christian Monica, and he received his education at Carthage. In the capacity of professor of rhetoric, Augustine arrived at Mediolanum (Milan in Italy) during the period of episcopacy of Sainted Ambrose (+ 397, Comm. 7 December). Under the guidance of Saint Ambrose, Augustine studied the Holy Scriptures. The Word of God produced in his soul a radical crisis -- he accepted holy Baptism, gave all his wealth to the poor and was vowed into the monastic form.
In the year 391 Valerian, bishop of Ipponesia (Hippo), ordained Saint Augustine to the dignity of presbyter; and in 395, -- to the dignity of bishop, appointing him vicar-bishop to the Ipponesia cathedra. After the death of Bishop Valerian, Sainted Augustine took his place.
During his 35 years as bishop, many of the works of Blessed Augustine were devoted to combating the Donatist, Manichaean and Pelagian heresies.
Blessed Augustine wrote many works (in the testimony of his student and biographer Possidias, the number approached 1030). Of his works the best known are: "The City of God" ("De civitate Dei"), "The Confessions", 17 Books against the Pelagians and "Handbook of Christian Knowledge" ("the Enchiridion"). Blessed Augustine was concerned above all else that his compositions be intelligent and edifying. "It is better, -- he said, -- for them to condemn our grammar, than that people do not understand". Blessed Augustine died on 28 August 430.
The Holy Nobleborn Prince of Serbia Lazar (Lazarus) lived during the XIV Century -- at a time when the Turks, having conquered neighbouring lands, prepared an invasion of Serbia.
Saint Lazar was raised at the court of the holy king Dushan. He was appointed governor of one of the Serbian districts. In the year 1371 he was chosen king of all Serbia and he toiled much at strengthening the condition of the country. He pacified neighbouring princes, which had wronged or plundered Serbian settlements. And he was concerned for the Christian enlightenment of the nation, he built churches, supported the monasteries and charitable establishments. In 1380 the saint established the monastery at Rovanetz. Saint Lazar petitioned the Constantinople Patriarch for an agreement of recognition of the Archbishop of Serbia by the Patriarch. During the course of the 10years of his rule, Serbia was at peace.
Afterwards there began war with the Turks. At the time of the Kossovo Battle the wounded king was taken prisoner and on orders of Sultan Bayazet was beheaded with a sword on 15 June 1389. The body of the holy king Lazar was buried at a nearby church. In 1391 his undecayed relics were transferred to the Rovanetz monastery. The monastery was destroyed by the Turks in 1683, and the relics of king Lazar were transferred to the monastery of New Rovanetz on Mount Thruzh.
Sainted Ephrem, Patriarch of Serbia, pursued asceticism on Mount Athos, and afterwards became hegumen of the Serbian Ibrovsk monastery. After the death of Patriarch Savva III in 1376, he was chosen to the patriarchal throne. Aspiring to silence, the saint left the throne and for 9 years dwelt at the Archangel Dushanovsk monastery. After the Battle of Kossovo he returned to the throne. He died peacefully at age 88 in the year 1400. The saint was buried in the Patriarchal church.
Sainted Tykhon, Bishop of Amaphuntum, was born in the city Amaphuntum on the island of Cyprus. His parents raised their son in Christian piety, and taught him the reading of Sacred books. There is an account extant, that the gift of wonderworking appeared in Saint Tykhon at a still quite youthful age.
His father was the owner of a bread bakery and he sent his son to distribute bread. The holy lad gave bread free to the needy. Learning about this, his father became angry, but the son answered, that he had read in the holy books, that "in giving to God one receiveth back an hundredfold". "I too, -- said the youth, -- gave to God the bread which was taken" and he persuaded his father to go to where the grain was stored. With astonishment the father saw that the granary which formerly was empty, was now filled to overflowing with wheat. From that time the father did not hinder his son from distributing bread to the needy.
A certain gardener brought from the vineyard the dried prunings of vines. Saint Tykhon gathered them, planted them in his garden and besought the Lord, that these branches might take root and yield salubrious fruit for the health of people. The Lord did so through the faith of the holy youth. The branches took root, and their fruit had a particular and very pleasant taste and was used during the lifetime of the saint and after his death for the wine in making the mystery of the Holy Eucharist.
They accepted the pious youth into the church clergy, made him a reader, and afterwards the bishop of Amaphuntum Memnon ordained him to the dignity of deacon. After the death of Bishop Memnon, Saint Tykhon by universal agreement was chosen as bishop of Amaphuntum. The ordination was headed by Sainted Epiphanios, Bishop of Cyprus (+ 403, Comm. 12 May).
Saint Tykhon laboured zealously for the eradication of the remnants of paganism on Cyprus -- he destroyed an idolatrous temple and spread the Christian faith. The sainted-bishop was generous, his doors were open to all, and with love he listened to and fulfilled the request of each person who came to him. Fearing neither threats nor tortures, he firmly and fearlessly confessed his faith before pagans.
In the service to Sainted Tykhon it is pointed out, that he foresaw the time of his death, which occurred in the year 425.
The name of Sainted Tykhon of Amaphuntum was accorded great honour in Russia. In honour of the saint, temples were constructed at Moscow, at Nizhni Novgorod, at Kazan and other cities. But the saint was particularly venerated in Voronezh diocese, where there were three archpastors in succession sharing the name with the Sainted-bishop of Amaphuntum: Sainted Tikhon I (Sokolov) (+ 1783, Comm. 13 August), Tikhon II (Yakubovsky, until 1785) and Tikhon III (Malinin, until 1788).
The Monk Tikhon of Lukhovsk, and Kostroma (in the world Timofei), was born within the bounds of the Lithuanian princedom and was in military service there. In the year 1482, not wanting to accept Uniatism, he went from Lithuania to Russia. The saint gave away everything that he had, accepted monastic orders with the name Tikhon and settled in Kostroma diocese in the Lukhovsk region. The city of Lukh was at that time given to prince Feodor Bel'sky, together with whom the Monk Tikhon had come from Lithuania. On the banks of the boundary of the Kopitovka the Monk Tikhon made his cell. When two monks, Photii and Gerasim, came to him in the wilderness, the monk because of them moved a distance of three versts from the Koptovka to a more satisfactory location. The monks earned their living by the work of their hands. The Monk Tikhon copied books with skill, and was a fine lathe turner. Out of humility he did not become a priest. The Monk Tikhon died on 16 June 1503, in such poverty, that his disciples did not know how they would bury him. But to their comfort the archbishop of Suzdal' sent a monastic burial shroud, in which to consign him to the earth. Soon after his death at the place of his labours there arose a monastery in honour of Sainted Nicholas the Wonderworker.
In 1569 at the grave of the Monk Tikhon there began healings of the sick, and his relics were found to be undecayed. But the hegumen Konstantin, who brought the relics above ground, was struck blind; having recovered his eyesight, he concealed the relics of the Monk Tikhon back into the ground. From this time began the veneration of the Monk Tikhon. His life with 70 posthumous miracles that were recorded was compiled in the year 1649.
The Priest-martyr Tigrias the Presbyter and the Martyr Eutropios the Reader were contemporaries of Sainted John Chrysostom (+ 407, Comm. 13 November) and were among his clergy. The holy Presbyter Tigrias was a mild and kindly pastor, Saint Eutropios was distinguished for his purity of life and prudence. When Saint John Chrysostom was banished from Constantinople in 404, the holy Tigrias and the reader Eutropios were arrested as his partisans and accused in the arson of churches and buildings, belonging to the opponents of Saint John Chrysostom. Saint Tigrias was put to torture, beaten with leather and banished to Mesopotamia, where he was imprisoned and died. Saint Eutropios they flogged, suspended, struck at him with iron and threw him in prison. When the torments were repeated, he died. His body, thrown for devouring by dogs, was taken by night and buried by Christians. At the time of burial was heard Angelic singing.
The Monk Tikhon of Medynsk and Kaluzh, in his youth accepted monastic vows at one of the Moscow monasteries, , but through his love for solitude he settled at an isolated spot near Maloyaroslavl'. He pursued asceticism in a deep dense forest, on the bank of the River Vepreika, in the hollow of an aged giant oak. Once during the time of an hunt prince Vasilii Yaroslavich (grandson of Vladimir the Brave), having come upon the Monk Tikhon, angrily ordered him to immediately quit his domain, and made bold to raise his lash against the monk. The hand of the prince grew immediately numb. Taken aback by such punishment, the prince repented of his conduct and with humility asked forgiveness. He received healing through the prayer of Saint Tikhon. The prince entreated the monk to remain always in his domain and build there a monastery for monks, promising to provide it all the necessities. The Monk Tikhon built a monastery in honour of the Uspenie (Dormition or Repose) of the MostHoly Mother of God, which he headed. He guided the monastery until extreme old age, and he died in the year 1492, having accepted the great monastic-schema. The body of the Monk Tikhon was buried at the cathedral church of the monastery founded by him. The celebration of the Monk Tikhon was established at the Council of 1584.
Among the disciples of the Monk Tikhon, particularly distinguished by his sanctity of life was the Monk Nikiphor of Kaluzh. It is assumed, that he was the successor of the Monk Tikhon in guiding the monastery. The Monk Nikiphor is depicted on icons together with other Kaluzh saints: the Monk Paphnutii of Borovsk (Comm. 1 May), the Monk Tikhon of Kaluzh and Blessed Lavrentii of Kaluzh (Comm. 10 August).
Saint Shalva of Akhaltsikhe was a brilliant military commander in the army of Queen Tamar and the prince of Akhaltsikhe. After his victory at Shamkori in the Ganja region, Shalva carried with him the flag of the caliph, as a sign of the invincibility of the Christian Faith, and conferred it, along with the wealth he had won, as an offering to the Khakhuli Icon of the Theotokos. For his selfless service, Queen Tamar honored him with the rank of commander-in-chief of the Georgian army.
During the reign of Queen Tamar’s daughter Rusudan (1222–1245), the armies of Sultan Jalal al-Din stormed into Georgia. Rusudan rallied the Georgian forces and appointed a new commander-in-chief by the name of John Atabeg.
Six thousand Georgians confronted a Muslim army of two hundred thousand near the village of Garnisi. Command of the advance guard was entrusted to the brave and valorous brothers Shalva and John of Akhaltsikhe, while John Atabeg remained with the main body of the army for the decisive battle.
The advance guard fought fearlessly, though the enemy’s army greatly surpassed it in number. The brothers fought with great devotion, hoping for support from the commander-in-chief, but John Atabeg was seized with envy—rather than fear—and never offered them his help. “O envy, source of every evil!” wrote one chronicler of the incident.
The enemy devastated the Georgian army, killing four thousand of its most valiant soldiers. Among them was John of Akhaltsikhe, whose brother Shalva was captured and delivered as a slave to Jalal al-Din.
Jalal al-Din was overjoyed to have the famed soldier and military leader brought before him. He received him with proper honor, offered him cities of great wealth, and promised him more if he agreed to convert to Islam.
Jalal al-Din sought with great persistence to convert Shalva to Islam, but his efforts were in vain—Shalva would not be converted, and nothing in the world would change his mind. So the sultan ordered that he be tortured to death.
After hours of torment failed to kill him, Jalal al-Din’s servants cast the half-dead martyr in prison, where he later reposed.
Hermit and martyr, also called Nighton or Nectaran. Possibly a native of Wales or Ireland, he is best known through legends. He lived as a hermit in Devonshire, England, founding churches there and in Cornwall, England. The patron saint of Hartland, Devonshire, he was much venerated during the Middle Ages and his shrine was a popular place for pilgrims until its destruction during the Reformation in the sixteenth century. He was reported beheaded by robbers, and in some traditions was a relative of the chieftain Brychan.
St Botolph – greatly venerated as the most influential missionary of the seventh century, founded a monastery in 654, appears to have led a peaceful life and died in 680. His feast is still venerated in the dioceses of Brentwood, Nottingham and Northampton on 17 June each year.
The actual life of St Botolph is shrouded in mystery and conflict. It is my hope that this short (and inadequate) account of his life and times will give you a glimpse into England in the Seventh Century and more especially, into the life of Botolph, Man, Priest, Abbot and Saint.
The fact that over seventy churches and five towns and villages are dedicated to St Botolph reflect his importance as one of the most important missionaries of the Seventh Century. He was a pioneer of the Benedictines Rule in England and many Kings and Prelates visited his monastery to listen to his preaching and teaching. There are varieties of posthumous honours awarded to his memory (and relics).
Many references are made to the building of a monastery at Ikenhoe in 654 and its destruction in 870 and most of the information concerning these events is scant and confused. Writers have followed each other’s assumptions without thought or care, that Ikenhoe was in Lincolnshire, there is no real evidence to support the Boston (Botolphs Stone) tradition or that Wikanford (a Lincoln suburb) was the site of Ikenhoe. It must be south within the limits of the Kingdom of East Anglia.
The churches dedicated to St Botolph extend from East Anglia westward to Warwickshire, northward through Lincolnshire into Yorkshire, and southward through Essex and London into Kent and Sussex. Some churches are dedicated to St Botolphs actual presence, some associated with his remains, and some to Benedictine rivals.
There are many reasons for identifying Ikenhoe with Iken in Suffolk. The permission to build the monastery was granted by an East Anglian whose jurisdiction in 654 cannot have extended into Lincolnshire. The sermon preaches by St Ceolfrid with its reference to the life of Botulf referred expressly to the East Angles (Angli Orientalis). As Ikenhoe was destroyed in 870 by the murdering Eadmund and, as St Edmund was also put to death in Suffolk, Ikenhoe may be presumed to be in Suffolk. The ancient Saxon Chronicle under the year 654 says Botolph began to timber that Minster at Ikenhoe (the word timber tends to refer to the fact that a more durable building of timber was erected, in place of a temporary erection of mud and wattle).
This point has some bearing on the later biographers of the brief reign of Ethelhere…Botulf was born in East Anglia and went to Germany to study the gospel accompanied by his brother Adulf. They became monks (Adulf later becoming a bishop). Botulf returned to become chaplain to a nunnery, where two of the sisters of Ethelmund, King of the Southern Angles, stayed and studied. Botulf was given a grant of land by Ethelhere (654) and Ethelmund (654-657) following prolonged negotiations. Botulf preferred untilled, unoccupied land should be given to him for his monastery…
St Botolph began a monastic community based on the Benedictine way of life at Ikenhoe. In the course of the first twenty years, two major journeys are said to have been undertaken by Botolph. The first to the Thames - where he built a church in honour of St Martin. There is dispute even here over where the actual site was (on the Kentish side of the river near Northfleet or Tempsford on the Bedford Ouse) but it is the second journey, thirteen years after the building of Ikenhoe, which has gathered more importance. The journey was as a result of the need for rest following a snakebite! And resulted in two churches (St Peter and St Paul) being constructed, somewhere in East Anglia, as the grant to build came from the same King who granted the building of the monastery.
In 670 Ceolfrid visited the monastery for a considerable period after his ordination at Ripon in 667. Here St Ceolfrid preached many famous sermons, inspired by Botolph's life and example. Botolph is said to have been buried in several places - this accounts for the stages in the translation of his remains on several journeys. There are references to his age and infirmities and documents suggest he was over sixty at his death. If this is so, at least 27 years of his early life are largely unaccounted for.
Before Botolph returned to England in 647, he stayed at a monastery Farmoutier-en-Brie in Saxonia, where he met the two sisters of King Ethelmund - and to whom he owed his introduction to the East Anglian Court. King Annas daughter Ethelburga and stepdaughter Saethryd became abbesses of Farmoutier but so many princesses studied there and it is not possible to identify the names of the two with absolute integrity.
But, where did Botolph (Botulf) originate from - the greatest unsolved difficulty in his life and times. Folcard describes him as de Saxonica Gente (of Saxon origin or nationality), but says he was loved by the Scots because he illustrated by his example what he preached from his mouth. The Slesvig Breviary contradicts this and says he was a Scot (i.e. Irish of Royal descent). The Saxon name Botwulf is not even conclusive evidence as many names were changed (Maelduib, for instance, that of the Irish founder of Malmesbury, being altered to Maidulf, and the original name may have been Saxonised into Botwulf as it was afterwards Normanised into Botolph). The name of Botolph deos not appear in the Saran Missal and is not associated in any way with the west of England, but it is found in various Calendars and Missals (see appendix). St Botolphs Day was still celebrated in Scotland until the early 14th Century.
Ancient manuscripts and breviaries refer to Botolph at often conflicting times. Olaf Worm (rectory of Copenhagen Academy) in the 16th Century gives an account in his Runic Lexicon of 1650 of the appearance of St Botolph's name in Old Runic Kalendars, stating that the three days ending 17 June were formerly known in Denmark as the Botelmas or Bodelmas (St Botolph's Mass) and describes in detail a staff, inscribed in runic characters with the names of St Vitus, St William and St Botolph. The insertion of the name of St William (Abbot of Eskilhoe in the Diocese of Roskilde) shows that the staff cannot have been older than the Thirteenth Century. Whether the tradition actually goes back to St Willibrord, whose work was largely destroyed for two centuries after his death, or whether it can only be traced back to the early part of the Eleventh Century, when the Bishops of Scania, Funen and Roskilde were consecrated in 1022 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, about the time when Canute was interesting himself with the removal of St Botolph's remains is a question which cannot be answered definitely. However, the tradition is sufficiently ancient and widespread to give significant importance to the statements contained in the Slesvig Breviary.
If St Botolph was really (as the Breviary asserts) of Irish birth, how can this be reconciled with Folcards ascription of Saxon origin. The technicalities of the use of words Saxon and Saxony are slightly obscure Saxon without an adjective was applied to inhabitants of Sussex then to those of Wessex and Essex. Saxonia (when applied to foreign parts) generally meant Francia. If St Botolph was an inmate of the Saxon Monastery before going to Farmoutier-en-Brie, a writer four Centuries later may have thought him to be a Sussex man (especially if his Irish birth was obscured by a Saxonised name). The existence of Botolph in Sussex as well as of Hardham and Heene (all of which have churches dedicated to St Botolph) held to support this view. At Ikenhoe, however, St Botolph applied the Benedictine Rule (not the Irish) but like him, as Folcard put it…. vetera novis miscens, et nova veteribus (the old blends with the new, and the new become old).
But how did St Botolph's name reach the Slesvig Breviary - we can look at the explanation with reference to the mistake by which Folcard substitutes Adolph for Jurmin as the name of the one with whom the posthumous honours are associated. The mistake is doubtless due to the fact that Jurmins eldest brother was Ealdwulf (a king of East Anglia) and that the names of Ealdwulf and Eadwulf are often confounded and that Jurmins brother was taken to be St Botolphs brother. It is stated that Adolf was consecrated a Bishop in Frisia. If he came from Ikenhoe (and St Willibrord, the consecrating Bishop, himself a Benedictine, usually chose Benedictines as his helpers), the mistake would be more intelligible.
St Willibrord became Archbishop of the Frisians in 695, fifteen years after the death of St Botolph, and Archbishop of Utrecht in 722. Though Northumbrian, he was educated in the Irish Monastery of Rathmelsigi. If therefore, the Slesvig Breviaries account of St Botolphs Irish origin goes back ultimately to St Willibrord, the authority cannot be treated lightly.
In the church of St Mary Magdalen, Wiggenhall, Norfolk, a window (described by Mr Bond in Church Dedication) pictures St Botolph mitred, wearing Mass robes, a Crosier turned outwards with hands giving an act of benediction. St Botolph was a Missionary Bishop without see or promise of succession. He is referred to on several occasions as Pontifax Almus (kindly High Priest) but more frequently the title of Abbot is ascribed to him. There is no doubt that Botolph was a man who was devoted to His Lord and the Benedictine Rule was the most important structure in his life.
The identification of Ikenhoe with Iken explains much that is obscure in connection with the accounts of the translation of his remains. Kind Edgar granted Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester, permission to remove St Botolph's body from his monastery at Ikenhoe. According to ancient chronicles, the body was to be divided into three parts by order of the King; the head to the monastery at Ely, the middle to Thorney and the rest reserved for the King and subsequently presented to Westminster Abbey by Edward the Confessor. There are slight variations in other documents, suggesting that the middle went to Westminster and the remainder to Thorney (all references to the head state Ely very clearly). Other writers refer to the various resting places en route to Ely, Thorney and Westminster. For example, St Botolph's fame in Denmark is attributed to the consecration of three Danish bishops by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the same year that permission was given to remove the bones of St Botolph from Grundisburgh (where on the night of translation a light came from the funeral bier and illuminated the darkness). It is more than likely that the division of bones took place at Grundisburgh (near the spot where the roads to Thorney and Ely would diverge from the road to London). Other places on the route to the final resting place are names in various breviaries - for example, Botolph Bridge (near Peterborough) indicates a stage or stopping place to avoid the areas (at that time) under the sea.
So, where is St Botolph buried - the threefold theory is the most common, but numerous shrines have been built (Abbey of St Edmund at Bury for example) in honour of St Botolph's relics. At various places in the UK, mention is made of keepers of St Botolph's relics, gilds of St Botolph, Keeper of St Botolph's Arm. In 1389 it is recorded in the Gild Certificates in London that St Botolph's gild met on the eve of St Botolph to eat bread and cheese and to drink the health of St Botolph together.
Just as St Botolph was regarded as one of the greatest of seventh century missionaries, it is worth mentioning the Hanseatic League (a mediaeval political and commercial league of Germanic towns) whose presence in England led to so many outbursts of anti-German feeling in the 15th century - found in St Botolphs cult a link with their own land. Their meeting place was not far from St Botolphs Billingsgate. The gate at Billingsgate which they were under obligation to repair, joined another church dedicated to St Botolph.
At their Boston meeting place they came into contact with St Botolphs fair, St Botolphs church. There can be little doubt that Hanseatic influence helped to make St Botolphs feast better than in north west Germany, St Botolph's name being associated with trade and travel. According to Olaf Worm, St Botolph was associated with weather and crops (in Denmark) and according to Weever, his relics were carried in procession in connection with prayers for rain (St Edmundbury).
In the Slesvig Breviary there is an account that on one occasion, when distributing food to the poor at his monastary, he found that none was left and told his disciples not to be purturbed as the Lord would restore more than they had given, whereupon four boats, laden wiith food and drink, were seen to approach, sent by faithful friends through whom God ministered to St Botolph.
The River Ore (or Aide) was then navigable far above Iken and the Saxon boat found in a grave mound at Snape (nearly opposite Iken) may serve as an illustration of the kind of boat which brought provisions.
The explanation of St Botolphs association with the weather and crops may refer to his selection of previously uncultivated lad at Ikanhoe for his habitation. This interest in agriculture is common to most early Benedictines and not peculiar to Botolph alone. The Slesvig Breviary relates an incident that an eagle carried off one of his fowls near the spot where ha had built a church in honour of St Martin which shows his interest in poultry.
Looking closely at more minor and often obscure writers it is clear to see that the land occupied by Botolphs monastary at Iken was once inhabited by Chrisitians, presumably in British times. Earlier inhabitants (shown by Neolithic remains) are there only by evidence. There is little more to say regarding who they were or why they were present. St Botolphs life was tormented by demons but as to the exact nature we are unsure - varying in explanation for evil spirits haunting the land and water - ghosts, devils and even an illustrated fish-demon. The daemons at Iken may each have been a few degenerate descendants of an earlier race, but it is impossible to say what race. It is certain that St Botolphs life was plagued with both physical evil and spiritual evil, but he persevered unto the end in his fight against evil and oppression and gave his life willingly to God.
Butler's Life of the Saints ends his brief account of the life of St Botolph with his record of a visit of St Ceolfrid, Abbot of Wearmouth, that he once journeyed to the East Angles that he might see the foundation of Abbot Botolph, whom fame had proclaimed far and wide as a man of remarkable life and learning - full of the Holy Spirit ... and that, after having been instructed as far as possible in a short time, he returned home so well founded that no one could be found better versed than he, either in eclesiastical or monastic tradition.
The Holy Disciple Aetius was an eunuch and had the duty of protector of the treasury of the Ethiopian empress Candice. On the way from Jerusalem to Gaza he was baptised by the holy Apostle Philip (Acts 8: 26-40) and became the Enlightener of Ethiopia.
The PriestMartyr Philonides, Bishop of Cureia, suffered martyrdom on Cyprus in about the year 306 in a persecution under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311).
The Monks Joseph the Wilderness-Dweller and Pior pursued asceticism in the IV Century, and were students of the Monk Anthony the Great (Comm. 17 January).
The Holy Martyrs Manuel, Sabel and Ismael, brothers by birth, were descended from an illustrious Persian lineage. Their father was a pagan, but their mother was a Christian, who baptised the children and raised them with firm faith in Christ the Saviour. Having grown into adults, the brothers entered military service. Speaking on behalf of the Persian emperor Alamundar, they were his emissaries in the concluding of a peace treaty with the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Julian received them with due honour and showed them his favour. But when the brothers refused to take part in a pagan sacrificial offering, Julian became angry, and annulling the treaty, he locked up the peace emissaries of a foreign country in prison, like common criminals. At the interrogation he told them, that if they scorned the gods worshipped by him, it would be impossible to reach any peace or accord between the two sides. The holy brothers answered that they were sent as emissaries of their emperor on matters of state, and not arguments about gods. Seeing the firmness of faith of the holy brothers, the emperor gave orders to subject them to fierce tortures. They suspended the holy martyrs, having nailed their hands and feet to wood, at their heads they thrust nails, and under their finger-nails and toe-nails they wedged sharp needles. During this time of torment the saints, as though not feeling the tortures, glorified God and prayed. Finally, they beheaded they holy martyrs. Julian ordered their bodies to be burned. But suddenly there occurred an earthquake, and the ground opened up and took the bodies of the holy martyrs into its bosom. After two days, following upon the fervent prayers of Christians, the earth returned the bodies of the holy brothers, from which issued forth a fragrance. Many pagans, having witnessed the miracle, came to believe in Christ and were baptised. Christian reverently buried the bodies of the holy Martyrs Manuel, Sabel and Ismael. This occurred in the year 362. And since that time the relics of the holy passion-bearers have been glorified with wonderworking.
Having learned about the murder of his emissaries, and that the law-transgressor Julian was marching against him with a numerous army, the Persian emperor Alamundar gathered up his army and started off towards the border of his domain. In a large battle the Persians vanquished the Greeks. Julian the Apostate was killed by the holy GreatMartyr Mercurius (Mercury, Comm. 24 November).
Thirty years later the pious emperor Theodosius the Great (+ 397) built at Constantinople a church in honour of the holy martyrs, and Sainted Germanos, Patriarch of Constantinople (Comm. 12 May), then still a priestmonk, wrote a canon in memory and in praise of the holy brothers.
The Monk Ananii of Novgorod, an iconographer of the Novgorod Antoniev monastery, asceticised during the XVI Century. An account about him is included in the narration about the miracles of the Monk Antonii the Roman, from which it is known, that the iconographer Ananii wrote "marvelous icons of many holy wonderworkers" and, fulfilling a monastic vow, not once in 33 years did he go outside the monastery walls. Historical records impute the time of his blessed end as the year 1581.
The Holy Martyr Shalva was distinguished by his many Christian virtues. For his bravery and valour, the holy nobleborn Empress Tamara the Great (Comm. 1 May) appointed him governor of the Akhaltsikh district (in southern Gruzia-Georgia).
While leading the Gruzian army, he gained a splendid victory over the Turkish sultan Nokardin, in consequence of which peace and prosperity accompanied the duration of the reign of Saint Tamara of Gruzia.
But during the reign of the empress Rusudan (+ 1237), Gruzia suffered invasion by the Persian shah Jelal-ed-din. In the battle against the numerously superior forces of the opponent, Prince Shalva was grievously wounded and captured.
Shah Jelal-ed-din surrounded Prince Shalva with frivolous concerns, but after the course of a year when he had recovered from his wounds, he urged him to accept Mahometanism. The promise of high position and all manner of honours were not able to sway the Gruzian confessor. He refused all these things and did not fear to suffer torture, and to his torturer he calmly answered: "I speak to thee with the words of Saint Ignatios the God-Bearer: "I seek not to gain anything, save the preservation of the Divine image, through which I was created".
The enraged shah gave orders to drag the naked confessor along the ground, and be beaten all over. During the time of torment the holy martyr joyfully cried out: "Rejoice, Shalva! Together with the clothing thou hast stripped off from thyself the old man and freed thyself from eternal perdition". Half dead and with fractured bones, they threw the holy martyr in prison where he died in June 1227.
After this, Jelal-ed-din overran Armenia and with a numerous army headed towards Tbilisi. The Gruzian army gave heroic resistance, but because of the treachery of the Persian citizenry they were unable to hold the city. Tbilisi was taken. "Not only public and private buildings, but also all the churches and sanctuaries were given over to fire and ruin; there was not left to rest in place even the bones of the dead, an inhuman sacrifice was made of altar servers and all the churchly clergy; in a word, Tiflis now presented the view of how Jerusalem looked under its destruction by Titus".
The fierce shah gave orders to take down the cupola from the Sion cathedral church in honour of the Dormition-Uspenie of the Mother of God, and therein to make his quarters, so as to look down upon the burning of the city and the torturing of Christians. He ordered the captured Gruzians to convert to Islam. Ten thousand men were driven to the bridge across the River Kura, near the Sion cathedral. They offered the captives freedom and generous gifts from the shah, if they recanted from Christ and spit at the holy icons put upon the bridge.
The Christians, approaching by turns the holy icons, in place of insult rendered them due honour and veneration. These the executioners beheaded and threw the headless bodies into the Kura. Thus were executed all the ten thousand Gruzian confessors. It was possible to cross the river from one bank to the other on the bodies of the holy martyrs, without wetting one's feet in the water. The water in the river, mixed together with the blood of the martyrs, became red.
This terrible execution continued all day until late evening. At night there shone over the bridge a pillar of light illumining the bodies of the sufferers for Christ. After this there occurred a powerful earthquake, during the time of which the quarters of the wicked shah crashed down from the heights of the Sion cathedral.
The commemoration of the holy Ten Thousand Tbilisi Martyrs is made by the Gruzian Orthodox Church on the same day with the memory of the holy Martyr Shalva.
The holy Martyrs Leontius, Ipatius and Theodolus were Roman soldiers. The holy Martyr Leontius, a Greek by origin, during the reign of Vespasian (70-79) served as a military-chief in the imperial army in the Phoenician city of Tripoli. The Christian Leontius was distinguished for his bravery and good sense, and the people of Tripoli held him in deep regard for his virtue.
The emperor appointed the Roman senator Adrian as governor of the Phoenician district, with full powers to hunt out Christians, and in case of their refusal to offer sacrifice to the Roman gods, to give them over to torture and death. And on his way to Phoenicia Adrian received a report, that Saint Leontius had turned many away from worshipping the pagan gods. The governor sent the tribune Ipatius with a detachment of soldiers to Tripoli, so as to find and arrest the Christian Leontius. Along the way the tribune Ipatius fell seriously ill, and being near death, he saw in a dream an Angel, which said: "If thou wishest to be healed, invoke thrice with thine soldiers: "God of Leontius, help me". Opening his eyes Ipatius beheld the Angel and said: "I was sent to arrest Leontius, how is it that I should appeal to his God?" At this moment the Angel became invisible. Ipatius told about his dream to the soldiers, among whose number was also his friend Theodolus, and all of them together thrice called on the help of the God, Whose Name it was that Saint Leontius confessed. Ipatius was immediately healed to the great joy of his soldiers, but only Theodolus sat aside, pondering the miracle. His soul was filled with love for God, and he told Ipatius to proceed twice as quickly to the city in search of Saint Leontius.
Upon their arrival in the city, a stranger met them and invited them to his house, where he lavishly hosted the travellers. Learning that their hospitable host was Saint Leontius, they fell on their knees and asked him to enlighten them with faith in the True God. They were baptised here, and when Saint Leontius pronounced over them the prayer calling on the Name of the MostHoly Trinity, a luminous cloud overshadowed the newly-baptised and shed a graced rain. The remaining soldiers in search of their commander arrived in Tripoli, where also had arrived the governor Adrian. Learning about what had happened, he gave orders to bring him Saints Leontius, Ipatius and Theodolus, and having threatened them with torture and death, he demanded that they renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the Roman gods. All the martyrs firmly confessed their faith in Christ. Saint Ipatius was put under a column and struck at with iron claws, and Saint Theodolus was mercilessly beaten with rods. Seeing the steadfastness of the saints, they beheaded these two. And after torture, they sent Saint Leontius off to prison. In the morning he came before the governor. Adrian tried to entice the holy martyr with honours and rewards, and accomplishing nothing, he gave him over to new tortures: the holy martyr was suspended head downwards from a pillar with an heavy stone about his neck, but nothing was able to make him renounce Christ. The governor gave orders to beat at the sufferer with rods until such time as he died. They then threw the body of the holy Martyr Leontius out beyond the city, but Christians reverently gave it burial near Tripoli. The death of the holy martyrs occurred in about the years 70-79.
The accusation against Saint Leontios, and his sufferings and death are recorded on tin tablets prepared by the court scribe (commentarisius). These tablets were placed at the grave of the holy martyr.
St. Alena was born in Dilbeek, just outside Brussels, Belgium, in the seventh century. She was baptized without the knowledge of her pagan parents.
Alena secretly attended mass, giving varying excuses to her parents. One night her father told his guards to follow her and, after tracking her for quite some time, they witnessed Alena entering a chapel in Vorst. Her father came to the conclusion that Christians had bewitched her into conversion, and ordered that she be arrested. When her father’s guards attempted to arrest her she resisted. During the struggle, her arm was severed, and she offered her soul up to God. The arm was taken by an angel and placed before the altar in the chapel where she regularly worshiped.
After witnessing these miracles, her parents converted to Christianity. In traditional art she is seen with one arm severed, healing a blind man, or with an angel helping her.
The chapel in Forest, Belgium, a municipality of Brussels, holds her relics and is a popular pilgrimage site.
The Holy Martyr Etherios was beheaded in about the year 305 for his confession of faith in Christ during the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305).
The Monk Leontii, Kanonarch of Pechersk, in his early years entered the Kievo-Pechersk monastery, where he received tonsure. He was endowed with a fine voice, and when he learned his letters, he fulfilled the obedience of kanonarch (arrangement of church song). The Monk Leontii died rather young during the XIV Century, and for his selfless deeds of salvation he was glorified by the Lord with the grace-bearing gift of wonderworking. The relics of the holy ascetic are situated in the Farther Caves, and his memory is also made on 28 August -- the Sobor/Assemblage of the Kievo-Pechersk Saints.
The Monk Leontios the Perspicacious, of Athos, was born in Peloponnesian Argos. He asceticised on Mount Athos for a long time at the monastery of Saint Dionysios. He spent 60 years at the monastery, and not once did the holy ascetic leave the monastery. For his deep faith and deeds he was granted by God the gift of perspicacity and prophecy. On 16 March 1605 at age 85 the Monk Leontios expired to the Lord. The holy relics of the saint of God were glorified by a flow of curative myrh.
The Holy Apostle Jude, among the rank of the Twelve Disciples of Christ, is descended from the lineage of King David and Solomon, and was the son of Righteous Joseph the Affianced from his first wife.
The Holy Apostle John the Theologian writes in his Gospel: "For none of his brethren believe on Him" (Jn. 7, 5). Sainted Theophilact, ArchBishop of Bulgaria, explains these words thus: at the beginning of the worldly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ -- the sons of Joseph, among whose number was Jude, did not believe in His Divine essence. The tradition relates that when Righteous Joseph the Affianced, having returned from Egypt, began to divide among his sons the worldly things belonging to him, he wanted to alot part also to Christ the Saviour, born miraculously and incorruptibly from the All-Pure Virgin Mary. The brothers were opposed to this and only the eldest of them, James, accepted Christ Jesus in a joint ownership of his allotment, and for this he was termed Brother of the Lord. Later on Jude believed in Christ the Saviour as the awaited Messiah, and with all his heart he turned to Him and was chosen by Him into the number of the closest 12 disciples. But mindful of his sin, the Apostle Jude considered himself unworthy to be termed a brother with God and in his own soborno-catholic Epistle he calls himself merely the brother of James.
The Holy Apostle Jude also had other names: the Evangelist Matthew terms him "Levi, nicknamed Thaddeus" (Mt. 10, 3). The Holy Evangelist Mark also calls him Thaddeus (Mk. 3, 18), and in the Acts of the Holy Apostles he is mentioned under the name Barsaba (Acts 15, 22). This was customary at that time.
After the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Jude set off preaching the Gospel. He propagated the faith in Christ at first in Judea, Galilee, Samaria and Idumeia, and later -- in the lands of Arabia, Syria and Mesopotamia, and finally he went to the city of Edessa. Here he finished that which was not completed by his predecessor, the disciple from the 70 -- Thaddeus. There is preserved an account, that the Holy Apostle Jude went preaching to Persia and from there wrote in the Greek language his soborno-catholic Epistle, in the brief wording of which consisted much profound truth. It contained dogmatic teaching about the Holy Trinity, about the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, about the separation of Angels good and bad, and about the Dread Last-Judgement. In its moral content the Apostle urges believers to guard themselves against fleshly impurity, to be diligent in their obligations in prayer, faith and love, to convert the lost to the way of salvation, and to guard themselves from the teachings of heretics. The Apostle Jude taught that faith alone in Christ is not sufficient, good works also are necessary, the evidence to Christian teaching.
The Holy Apostle Jude died a martyr about the year 80 in Armenia in the city of Arata, where he was crucified on a cross and pierced by arrows.
The Martyr Zosima lived in the city of Apollona (Thrace) during the time of the reign of the persecutor of Christians Trajan (89-117). The saint was consumed with the desire to become a Christian. Having heard about the commensing of a persecution of Christians, he left military service, accepted Baptism and with all his soul devoted himself to prayer and good deeds. It was reported to the governor of Antioch Domitianus that the soldier Zosima had betrayed the emperor, having taken off his military insignia and attached himself to Christians. At the trial Saint Zosima manfully confessed his faith in Christ and refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. He was subjected to fierce torments but, strengthened by the grace of God, he did not feel the pain. The governor gave orders to make a copper bed red-hot and to put the saint on it. The martyr, having made the sign of the cross, lay down, but remained unharmed.
Departing the city, Domitianus gave orders to put on the martyr shoes with iron sandals, having sharp nails driven into the soles, and to follow him. The Lord gave Saint Zosima the strength to easily and quickly follow after the horses. The martyr was locked up in prison, where they tormented him with hunger and thirst, but an Angel of the Lord fortified his strength with bread and water. Saint Zosima resolutely refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. After long and fierce torments he was beheaded and with prayer gave up his soul to God.
The Monk Paisias the Great lived in Egypt. His parents, Christians, distributed generous alms to all the needy.
After the death of her husband his mother, on the suggestion of an Angel, gave over her young son Paisias to clergy of the church.
The youth Paisias loved monastic life and spent his time in one of the Egyptian sketes. Disavowing his own will, he lived under the spiritual guidance of Saint Pambos (Comm. 18 July), finishing all the tasks assigned him. The starets/elder said, that a newly-begun monk in particular needs to preserve his sight, so as to guard his senses from temptation, and Paisias, heeding the instruction, went for three years with his eyes cast downwards. The saintly ascetic diligently read spiritual books and he was especially notable for ascetic fasting and prayer. At first he did not taste of food during the course of a week, then -- of two, and sometimes after partaking of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, he remained without food for seventy days.
In search of solitary quiet the Monk Paisias went into the Nitreian wilderness, where he lived in a cave carved out by his own hands. There the monk was vouchsafed a wondrous vision -- the Lord Jesus Christ revealed to him, that because of his labours all the Nitreian wilderness would become inhabited by ascetics. The monk was impelled to ask the Lord where in the wilderness would the monks obtain the necessities of life? The Lord answered, that if they would fulfill all His commandments, He Himself would obtain for them all the necessities, to put them beyond demonic temptations and cunning.
With time there gathered to the Monk Paisias a number of monks and laymen, and thus was established a monastery. The primary covenant of the Monk Paisias was one: no one would do anything by his own will, but in all things would fulfill the will of his mentors. Burdened by the disturbance of the quiet, the monk withdrew to a yet farther cave. One time he was transported to a paradaisical monastery and vouchsafed there to partake of the non-material Divine food. After his ascetic labours for salvation, the Lord granted His saint the gift of foresight and healing the souls of men. In the life of the ascetic is reported an instance when one of his disciples, with the blessing of the monk, set off to sell handicrafts in Egypt and on the way he encountered a Jew, who suggested to the simple-minded monk that Christ the Saviour is not the Messiah, and that another one, a true one, will come. Confused, the monk uttered: "Perhaps it is true what thou sayest", -- yet he did not attribute any particular significance to his words. Having returned, he saw with grief that the Monk Paisias would not acknowledge his arrival, and he asked the reason for his anger. The monk said: "My disciple was a Christian, thou art not a Christian, from thee hath departed the grace of Baptism". Having repented, the monk with tears besought to have absolved his sin. Only then did the holy elder rise up to prayer and seek forgiveness of the Lord for the monk.
A certain monk on his own initiative left the wilderness and re-settled not far from a city. There he had encounters with a woman, who hated and blasphemed Christ the Saviour. Having fallen under her influence, he not only left monasticism, but also scorned faith in Christ and finally he arrived at total disbelief. One time, through the blessed Providence of God, Nitreian monks came past his home. Seeing them, the sinner remembered his own former life and he asked the monks to convey to the Monk Paisias, that he pray for him to the Lord. Hearing the request, the monk began to pray fervently, and his efficacious prayer was heard. The Lord, appearing to His saint, promised to forgive the sinner. Soon the seduced-monk's woman-companion died, and he returned to the wilderness where, weeping and distressed about his sins, he began to labour at deeds of repentance.
The Monk Paisias distinguished himself by great humility, and accomplished ascetic deeds of fasting and prayer, but as far as possible, he concealed them from those aside. To a question of the monks, which virtue is highest of all, the monk answered: "those, which are done in secret and about which no one knows".
The Monk Paisias died in the V Cent. in extreme old age and he was buried with veneration by many of the gathered monks. After some while his relics were transferred by the Monk Isidoros Pelusiotes (Comm. 4 February) to the Pelusiot Monastery and placed alongside the relics of the Monk Paul of the Wilderness, with whom the Monk Paisias in life was in particular spiritually close.
The Monk John the Hermit practised asceticism in Palestine. He passed his days in fasting and prayer in a cave not far from Jerusalem. The un-covetous ascetic had only an image of the MostHoly Mother of God, before which always was lighted a lampada. The holy elder often visited the holy places of Jerusalem, and Mount Sinai, and he went to pray at the grave-sites of the holy martyrs and ascetics. In departing, the monk left the lampada burning before the image of the Queen of Heaven and he asked a blessing for the journey. Having returned after a month or even after six months, the elder found the lampada burning and filled with oil. One time he happened to go on a narrow trail, with two sides overgrown with thickets, such that it was impossible for two persons on foot to pass by each other. Towards the monk came a lion. The beast stood up on its hind legs and freed the way for the saint.
Once there came a monk to the cave to Saint John, and not detecting even the vital necessities for life, he asked the abba why he lived in such poverty. To this the holy elder answered that his cave contained spiritual riches more dear than earthly blessings.
The Monk John the Hermit expired in the VI Cent. in extreme old age and was enumerated by the Church to the choir of the saints.
St Job was born into the family of pious tradesmen in Staritsa near Tver in the 1530s. His baptismal name was John. As a teenager, John knew most of the biblical texts by heart and strove to become a monk. His father, however, insisted on his marriage. Once, John asked his father's permission to see his confessor in the Uspensky Monastery in their native town of Staritsa (Tver Oblast). Upon his arrival, John immediately took monastic vows and assumed the name of Job. He spent fifteen years in the cloister and finally became its abbot in 1566 with the help of Ivan the Terrible, who had made Staritsa his residence in times of the Oprichnina (secret police).
In 1571, Job was transferred to Moscow and appointed abbot of the Simonov Monastery. In 1575, he became the abbot of the Novospassky Monastery. In 1581, Job was appointed bishop of Kolomna.
Known as a person of mediocre mental abilities, he, nevertheless, managed to draw attention of Boris Godunov by his talent for reading the longest of prayers by heart in a very expressive manner. During the reign of Feodor I (whose government was controlled by Boris Godunov), Job was appointed archbishop of Rostov and Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia in 1587.
Realizing the necessity of strengthening the ecclesiastic authority in Russia, Godunov managed to persuade the Patriarch of Constantinople Jeremias II to establish a patriarchate in Russia. On January 26, 1589, Job was elected the first Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. He exercised all his influence and played a major part in Boris Godunov's ascending to the Russian throne.
Job did not approve, however, Godunov's proposal to open a university in Moscow with foreign professors because he believed their influence and non-Orthodox faith would cause "heterodoxy" and endanger the authority of the Russian Church. Under Job's supervision, the Russians corrected books for divine service and prepared them for publishing.
He assisted in glorification of some of the Russian saints, ordering the celebration of the memory of Basil Fool for Christ in 1588, as well as that of Joseph Volotsky and others. Job also favored the construction of new cathedrals and monasteries and Christian missionary activities in the recently conquered Astrakhan Khanate and Siberia. After the mysterious death of tsarevich Dmitry Ivanovich in 1591, Jove accepted the noncriminal version of his demise, supporting Boris Godunov every step of the way.
After the invasion of False Dmitriy I and sudden death of Boris Godunov on June 1, 1605, there was an uprising in Moscow.
Job was known as a harsh critic of False Dmitriy I, and he tried to persuade the people of Moscow to remain loyal to the deceased tsar. The armed supporters of the impostor burst into the Cathedral of the Dormition, and a boyar named P.F. Basmanov declared Job a traitor. Job was sent into exile to his monastery in Staritsa, where he went completely blind and finally died a very sick man in 1607.
In 1652, Job's relics were transferred to the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Moscow Kremlin, where they remain to this day. Patriarch Job was glorified as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1989.
The Monk Paisii of Khilendaria was born in the year 1722 in Bansko into a pious family. One brother of the monk -- Lavrentii, was hegumen of Khilendaria Monastery, and another was noted as a generous benefactor of Orthodox temples and monasteries. But the Monk Paisii himself went through his obedience at Ryl'sk Monastery. In 1745 at age 23, Saint Paisii went across to his brother in the Khilendaria Monastery on Mount Athos, where he took monastic vows. On the Holy Mountain the ascetic matured spiritually; he deeply studied Holy Scripture and he was vouchsafed the priestly dignity. In the year 1762 the Monk Paisii wrote: "The History of the Slavo-Bulgarians" -- a book, upholding the Christian faith and awakening the national self-awareness of the subjugated Bulgarian nation. Amidst the darkness of foreign oppression the monk again re-kindled the lamp of Orthodoxy, lit formerly by the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Kirill and Methodios (Comm. 11 May). The time and place of the blessed end of the monk from that time is unknown. On 26 June 1962 the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church under the presiding of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and with the participation of all Their Eminences the Metropolitans, expressing indebtedness to the merit of Saint Paisii before Church and native-country, made decree to venerate Paisii of Khilendarsk and Bulgaria in the rank of monastic saints and it directed that celebration of his memory be made on 19 June, "when, according to the universal-Orthodox Mesyatseslov / Saints-Kalendar, there is celebrated the memory of the Monk Paisias the Great". The name of Saint Paisii is borne by a state university in Plovdiv and many institutes and schools in other cities and villages of Bulgaria, which testifies to the deep veneration of the ascetic by the Bulgarian nation.
The Holy Martyrs Aristokles the Presbyter, Demetrian and Athanasias suffered for the Christian faith during the persecution under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311).
Presbyter Aristokles, a native of the Cypriot city of Tamasa, served in the cathedral church. During the time of the persecution against Christians he became terrified of the tortures, and he left the city and hid himself away in a mountain cave. But one time during prayer Light shone upon him, and he heard a command from the Lord to return to the island of Cyprus and suffer for Christ. Saint Aristokles obediently set out in return and upon the way he visited the church of the holy Disciple Barnabas (Comm. 11 June), where he met up with Deacon Demetrian and Athanasias the Reader. He told them about his vision, and Saints Demetrian and Athanasias decided to accept the crown of martyrdom together with him.
Having arrived in the city of Salamis, all three began to preach to the people about the Lord Jesus Christ, and denouncing the folly of idol-worship. The pagans arrested them, and the governor, seeing that they were steadfast in their faith in Christ, gave orders to behead Saint Aristokles, and to burn Saints Demetrian and Athanasias. But even in the fire the martyrs remained unharmed, and after this they were beheaded by the sword. The holy martyrs died in about the year 306.
The PriestMartyr Methodios, Bishop of Patara (Lycian region in Asia Minor), was distinguished for his genuine monastic humility. Calmly and with mildness he instructed his flock, but together with this he firmly defended the purity of Orthodoxy and he energetically contended against heresies, especially the widespread heresy of the Origenists. He left behind him a rich literary legacy: works in defense of Christianity against paganism, explications of Orthodox dogmas against the heresy of Origen, moral discourses, and explanations of Holy Scripture.
Saint Methodios was arrested by the pagans, steadfastly confessed before them his faith in Christ, and in the year 312 he was sentenced to death by beheading.
Sainted Lucius (Leukios) the Confessor was born in the city of Alexandria of pious parents named Eudykios and Euphrosynia. They gave their son the name Eutropios. The mother died when the lad was 11 years old, and his father took monastic tonsure at the monastery of Saint Hermias, taking along his son with him to the monastery. The boy was raised under the spiritual guidance of the hegumen Nikita and also experienced monastic elders. The boy showed himself to be very capable, and assiduously he studied Holy Scripture. Eutropios grew up into a quiet, meek and obedient lad. When he reached age 18, the hegumen Nikita died. The brethren of the monastery unanimously chose Eutropios as hegumen, even though he was not yet tonsured into monasticism. Reckoning himself unworthy to guide someone at something he was not, Eutropios refused. For seven years the monastery of Saint Hermias remained without head. And in these years Eutropios, asceticising at monastic deeds, attained to an high degree of spiritual life.
One time Eutropios set off on the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God to visit all the churches of the Dormition in the surroundings of the city of Alexandria. At the celebrations presided Hellios, bishop of Heliopolis, together with his clergy. At the same time he visited the monastery headed by the hegumen Theodore. And it was at this monastery that both father and son then remained. By night the father Eudykios had a revelation about his own approaching end, and also -- that his son would become a bishop and enlighten with the light of the Christian faith the city and region of Brundusium (Grk. form Bruntisiopolis, now Brindisi in Calabria-Apuleia) in Italy. And in this same vision there was foretold for Eutropios his new name -- Lucius (Leukios), meaning "the Spirit of the Lord is come upon him". And it was on the Dormition feastday in the church of the Mother of God that bishop Hellios heard a voice from Heaven, blessing "Leukios" for archpastoral service, and he directed the archdeacon to enquire of those praying -- who it was that bore this name. Then with love he blessed Saint Lucius and his father.
The monks of the Hermias monastery earnestly besought the bishop to install Saint Lucius as hegumen of the monastery. Although the ascetic initially refused, considering himself unworthy, he then submitted himself to the bishop and was ordained to the priestly dignity and was made hegumen.
From this time Saint Lucius intensified his efforts, and he was granted by God the grace of wonderworking, and casting out demons. One time a devil assumed the form of an immense serpent, and killed many in the nearby villages. The holy ascetic hastened to come to the aid of the villagers and he delivered them from the power of the devil. Seeing this, about three thousand pagans in the vicinity accepted Baptism.
During this period the Alexandria bishop Philip died a martyr, and Saint Lucius was chosen in his place. Seeing that Saint Lucius was converting many a pagan to Christianity, the eparch Saturninus decided to kill him. And wanting to defend their archpastor, certain of the Christians wanted to kill the eparch. Learning of this, the saint forbade them to cause the eparch any harm. Saint Lucius declared to his flock, that the Lord had commanded him to go to a pagan land and to enlighten with the light of the Christian faith the city of Bruntisiopolis and its surrounding region.
The holy archpastor established in his place a worthy bishop, and he then took with him the deacons Eusebios and Dionysios and five students, and they hastened onto a ship sailing for Italy. Along the way they were joined by the presbyters Leon and Sabinus, and upon their journey to Brundusium the saint met up with the tribune Armaleon and his 67 soldiers, all whom he converted to Christianity. In the city he began to preach to the people about Christ Jesus. The head of the city, named Antiochus, learned that the tribune Armaleon had converted to the faith in Christ, and so he summoned him and for a long time he asked questions about the Christian teaching. And learning about Saint Lucius, the governor wanted to meet him. At the meeting the governor said: "If thou desire that we believe in the God that thou preachest, beseech Him to send down rain upon our land, which we have not seen these two years already". The saint, having summoned his clergy and all the newly-baptised Christians, made fervent supplication, after which there poured down rain in abundance, soaking the parched earth. Seeing this miracle, Antiochus and all the city of Brundusium (27,000 people) accepted holy Baptism. In memory of this event, in the city was built a church in honour of the Mother of God, and at the spot where the people were baptised -- a second church, in honour of Saint John the Baptist.
Soon the saint fell ill, and it was foretold to him in a vision, that he would die of the sickness. Summoning his spiritual son Antiochus, Saint Lucius gave final instructions to bury him at the place, where the ship carrying him from Alexandria had landed. Antiochus fulfilled the request of the archpastor and built on this spot a church in the name of Saint Lucius. In it were transferred the relics of the saint, from which occurred numerous miracles.
Our father among the saints Nicholas Cabasilas (born 1322 in Thessaloniki and died sometime after 1391) was a well known theological writer and mystic of the Orthodox Church. He was born in Thessaloniki and, as a young man, was involved in politics. Little is known of his later life, however, he is remembered for his two treatises, Life in Christ and The Exposition of the Divine Liturgy. These volumes are generally regarded as classics of Eastern sacramental theology. He was on intimate terms with the emperor John VI Cantacuzenos, whom he accompanied in his retirement to a monastery. In 1355 he succeeded his uncle Nilus Cabasilas, like himself a determined opponent of the union of the Greek and Latin churches, as archbishop of Thessaloniki. In the Hesychast controversy he took the side of the monks of Mount Athos and St. Gregory Palamas.
The Monk Naum of Okhrid, Bulgarian by descent, was one of the disciple of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Cyril and Methodios (Comm. 11 May), and he likewise accompanied Saint Kliment (Clement) of Okhrid during the time of his preaching of the Gospel in Bulgaria. When Saint Kliment set off to the south-western regions, the Monk Naum remained in the then capital city of Plisk. Afterwards the Monk Naum became successor to Saint Kliment in a monastery on the shores of Lake Okhrida, where he asceticised for 10 years. The Monk Naum reposed on 23 December 910, and his relics were glorified by numerous miracles, especially healings of sicknesses of soul. The memory of the saint is likewise celebrated on 23 December.
Holy Nobleborn Prince Gleb of Vladimir, named Georgii in holy Baptism, was a younger son of nobleborn prince Saint Andrei Bogoliubsky (Comm. 4 July). Under the influence of his pious parents he grew up deeply believing and from twelve years of age he led a solitary spiritual life. The parents did not hinder their son and even assisted him in spiritual growth. The prince especially loved the reading of holy books, he esteemed the clergy and he was charitable to all. Despite his young age, he chose for himself the exploit of strict fasting and prayerful vigilance. Nobleborn prince Gleb died in the year 1174, at age nineteen.
His undecayed relics were preserved and glorified by miracles. In the year 1238, during the time of the incursion of Batu upon the Russian Land, the Tatars burned the cathedral at Vladimir. In this conflagration perished Bishop Mitrophan, Great-princess Agathia -- spouse of Great-prince Georgii Vsevolodovich (+ 1238), and many an inhabitant of the city of Vladimir, locked in the cathedral church. The fire however did not even touch the tomb of Saint Gleb. Years later in July 1410, Tatars again descended upon Vladimir. In their plundering of the city, they began to sack the cathedral church treasury, having murdered the door-keeper Patrikii. And supposing that within the saint's tomb was hidden away treasure, they set about to break it open. But just as the Tatars touched the stone crypt of Saint Gleb, flames shot forth from it, and the Tatars in terror quit the city.
Through the prayers of the holy prince the city was saved from an incursion of Polish-Lithuanian plunderers in 1613.
The celebration of Saint Gleb was established in the year 1702, and then also a service was written to him, and somewhat later -- a vita (life). His relics rest in the Uspensky cathedral in Vladimir. In the year 1774 the south chapel of the cathedral was dedicated in honour of his name. Nobleborn prince Gleb is revered as an especial patron and defender of the city of Vladimir.
Sainted Kallistos, Patriarch of Constantinople, at first asceticised upon Athos under the spiritual guidance of the Monk Gregory the Sinaite (Comm. 8 August). In 1350 he was elevated to the Constantinople OEcumenical cathedra-seat, occupying it under the reign of the emperors John Kantakuzenos (1341-1355) and John Paleologos (1341-1376). After two years as arch-hierarch he withdrew for deeds of silence to a monastery constructed by him in honour of Saint Mamant at Tenedos. Later again he was elevated to the Patriarchal seat. Holy Patriarch Kallistos reposed in about the year 1363 in Serbia, whither he had travelled with an embassy of John Paleologos. Saint Kallistos is known also as an author of spiritual writings.
Sainted Mina, Bishop of Polotsk, for a long time asceticised at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. On 13 December 1105 he was ordained bishop of Polotsk. The name of Saint Mina enters into the service to the Kievo-Pechersk holy fathers, since prior to his elevation to the dignity of bishop he bore obedience at the monastery. Remembrance of him is contained in the Kievo-Pechersk Paterikon. Saint Mina is reknown as one of the first Russian archpastors, continuing the spreading of the grace of faith in Christ after the Baptism of the Russian Land.
The Holy Martyr Crescentus underwent martyrdom by torture and died in Spain.
The Holy Martyr Julian of Tarsis was born in the Asia Minor province of Cilicia. He was the son of a pagan senator, but his mother confessed Christianity. After the death of her husband the mother of Saint Julian resettled to Tarsis, where the son was baptised and raised in Christian piety. When Julian reached age 18, a persecution against Christians started under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Among others arrested was also Saint Julian. They brought him before the governor Marcian for trial, where for a long time they urged him to renounce Christ. Neither tortures nor threats, nor promises of gifts and honours could convince the pious youth to offer pagan sacrifice and a denial of Christ. The holy confessor remained steadfast in his firm faith. For a whole year they led the martyr through the cities of Cilicia, in each of them subjecting him to interrogation and tortures, after which they threw him in prison. The mother of Saint Julian followed after her son and prayed, that the Lord would strengthen him yet more in faith and act. In the city of Aegea under the pretext of urging her son to offer sacrifice to idols, she besought the governor to permit her to visit the prison. She spent three days in prison with Saint Julian, beseeching him to be strong to the end.
Saint Julian was again brought to stand before the governor. Thinking, that the mother had persuaded her son to submit to the imperial decree, the governor began to praise her prudence. But suddenly the saint boldly confessed himself a Christian. And the holy Martyr Julian all the more fearlessly and boldly denounced the pagan polytheism. The governor then gave orders to cut off the feet of the mother of Saint Julian, since she had accompanied her son from Tarsis. They tied the Martyr Julian into a sack, filled with sand and poisonous vipers, and threw it into the sea. The body of the sufferer was carried by the waves to the shores of Alexandria, and with reverence was buried by a certain pious Alexandrian Christian. The martyr's death occurred in about the year 305. Afterwards the relics of the holy martyr were transferred to Antioch. Saint John Chrysostom honoured the memory of the holy Martyr Julian with a sermon of laudation.
The PriestMartyr Terence, Bishop of Iconium, accepted a martyr's death for Christ in the I Century. They impaled him on a sharp piece of wood.
The Monks Julius the presbyter and Julian the Deacon, brothers by birth, were natives of Myrmidonia. For his virtuous life Saint Julius was ordained to the priestly dignity, and his brother to the dignity of deacon. Inspired with zeal for the spreading of the Christian faith, the holy brothers received permission for the building of churches and set off preaching to remote sections East and West within the Roman empire, where pagan temples still existed and where offering of sacrifice to idols was still made. Visiting several lands, they converted many pagans to Christianity, persuading them not only by word, but also by numerous miracles. At Constantinople they turned to the pious emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450)with a request to build churches upon the places of pagan temples.
Having received the blessing of the patriarch and the permission of the emperor, the holy brothers built many churches. The people considered it their duty to assist them in this matter. One time some people went on past a church being constructed. Fearing that they would begin to talk them into taking part in this work, they engaged in a deception, so as the quicker to get away. One of them feigned being dead, and when Saint Julius invited them to take part in the work, they begged off saying that they had to drive on by to bury a dead person. The saint asked: "Ye lie not, do you?" The passers-by persisted in the ruse. Thereupon the Monk Julian said to them: "So be it, according to your words". Having continued on some further distance, they discovered, that the one pretending to be dead actually was dead. After this, no one else dared to lie to the holy brothers.
Foreseeing his own impending end, Saint Julius set off in search of a place for building by the count his hundredth church, which also he reckoned would be his last. Reaching Lake Mukoros, he saw amidst it a beautiful island. Because of the huge quantity of snakes on it, no one was able to settle there. The Monk Julius decided to build a church upon this island. Having prayed, he sailed off to the island on his mantle as though on a boat, and erected on it a cross. In the Name of God the holy ascetic ordered all the snakes to gather together for him and leave the island, dedicating it for an house of God and the servants of Christ. All the venomous vipers slithered into the lake and swimming it, they re-established themselves upon Mount Kamunkin.
On the island Saint Julius built a church in honour of the holy Twelve Apostles. At this time his brother, Saint Julian, finished construction on a church nearby the city of Gaudiana and decided to build by the church a crypt for his brother Julius. The Monk Julius paid his brother a visit and advised him to hurry with the construction of the crypt, prophetically foretelling, that he mustneeds lie in it. And indeed, Saint Julian the Deacon soon died and was buried in the crypt built by him. The Monk Julius the Presbyter reverently made burial of his brother and returned to the island, where he himself soon died and was buried in the church of the Twelve Apostles built by him. From his grave many of the sick received healing. The blessed end of the holy brothers occurred after the first half of the V Century.
The Holy Martyr Archil II belonged to the dynasty of the Chosroidoi, and he was a direct descendant of the holy nobleborn emperor Saint Mirian (+ 342).
During the reign of Archil II, Gruzia (Georgia) was subjected to a devastating invasion by Murvana-Kru ("the Wild"), called such by the Georgian people for his inexorable cruelty. The position of the Gruzian people was desperate, and the emperor Archil II, together with his brother Myro, the ruler of Western Gruzia, tearfully implored the intercession of the MostHoly Mother of God, and She shew forth Her mercy.
At a battle by the Rivers Abasha and Tskhenis-Tskhali the Gruzian forces miraculously gained the victory over the significantly superiour forces of Murvana-Kru.
After this victory the emperor Archil II was occupied with the restoral of the Gruzian kingdom. He rebuilt the city of Nukhpatis, restored ruined churches in Mtskheta and furthered the acceptance of Christianity by many of the mountain tribes. But soon Gruzia suffered a new Arab invasion -- with the sudden appearance of Dzhidzhum-Asim (Jijum-Asim). Having accordingly rendered tribute to the Arabs, the nobleborn emperor did not expect this invasion. In order to deliver the land from new devastation and avert the intrusion of Islam upon it, he reckoned it beneficial to go himself to Dzhizhum-Asim, offer formerly independent Gruzia in vassalage and ask for peace. Placing all his hope on the mercy of God and ready to offer up his soul for his holy faith and for his nation, Saint Archil went to the camp of the Arabs. Dzhidzhum-Asim received him hospitably and promised his suzerainty, but insisted on acceptance of Mahometanism. As the "Gruzian Chronicle" relates, the holy emperor Archil calmly answered: "It will not be, that I should forsake Christ, the True God, Who for our salvation took upon Himself human flesh. I know, if I obey thee, then I shalt died a death eternal and shalt suffer eternally; if for my firmness thou do subject me to death, I shalt then rise as did my Lord, and I shalt go to Him".
Hearing these words, Dzhidzhum-Asim gave orders to seize the confessor and take him off to prison. But neither tortures nor urgings nor promises could make the nobleborn emperor Archil apostacise his faith.
On 20 March 744 the holy emperor Archil received a martyr's death by beheading. The body of the martyr was secretly taken by Gruzian Christians to the locale Ertso and buried in Kakhetia, in the Notkor church built by the holy emperor himself.
The Holy Martyr Nobleborn Emperor of Gruzia Luarsab II was born in 1587. He was the son of George X (1600-1603), poisoned by the Persian emperor shah Abbas I (1584-1628). After the death of his father Luarsab remained with his two sisters, Choreshan and Helen. He was still a lad, but distinguished himself by his intellect and piety, and despite his youthful age, he was crowned to the Kartalin kingdom with the name Luarsab II. In 1609 Gruzia suffered invasion by a Turkish army under the leadership of Deli-Mamad-khan. The young emperor gave decisive battle to the Turks near the village of Kvenadkotsi (between Gori and Surami). On the eve of battle the 14 thousand Gruzian host spent all night at incessant prayer, and in the morning after Divine liturgy and the receiving by all of the Holy Mysteries, the Gruzian forces in an heroic battle turned to flight the 60 thousand strong forces of the enemy.
The Persian shah Abbas I, alarmed over this victory by the Georgians, and bearing enmity towards Luarsab II, sought for an opportunity to destroy him. Saint Luarsab was forced, for the saving of Kartli (Central Gruzia) from destruction, to give in marriage to the mahometan shah Abbas his sister Helen, at his demand. But this also did not stop the shah. Several times he entered Gruzia with a large army. Because of the treachery of several feudal lords, the noble emperor Luarsab and the Kakhetian emperor Teimuraz I were compelled at the end of 1615 to withdraw to Imeretia (Western Gruzia) to the Imeretian emperor George III (1605-1639).
Shah Abbas I laid waste to Kakhetia and, threatening Kartli with ruin, he demanded that he should have Luarsab II, promising in the event of his coming, to conclude a peace. The noble emperor Luarsab II, trying to preserve the churches of Kartli from devastation, set out to shah Abbas with the words: "I entrust all my hope upon Christ, and whatever might be the fate that awaiteth me, life or death, blest be the Lord God!"
Shah Abbas I received Saint Luarsab II amicably and, it would seem, was prepared to fulfill his promise. After an hunt together shah Abbas invited him to Mazandaran, but for supper Luarsab II refused to eat fish (since it was Great Lent), despite the threats and demands of the shah. The enraged shah began to insist that the Gruzian emperor accept Mahometanism, for which he promised to let him go with great treasures to Kartli, threatening otherwise death by torture. The noble emperor Luarsab II, having from his youthful years kept strict fast and constantly at prayer, without hesitation refused the demands of the shah. They thereupon seized him and imprisoned him in the impenetrable fortress of Gulab-Kala, near Shiraz. The Mrovel bishop Nicholas relates, that the noble emperor Luarsab spent seven years imprisoned in chains, undergoing cruel torments and frequent beatings to force him into an acceptance of Mahometanism. But the holy confessor remained faithful to the Holy Church of Christ and accepted a martyr's death in the year 1622 at 35 years of age. Together with him were martyred two of his faithful retainers.
In the prison they cast out by night the bodies of the holy martyrs without burial, but on the next day Christians committed them to earth in a common grave.
The Holy Martyr Nikita of Nyrosa, a native of the island Nyrosa near Rhodes, as a lad was converted to Mahometanism. At the age of maturity he renounced Islam and confessed himself a Christian, for which he was beheaded by the Turks on the island of Chios in 1732.
The Holy Martyr Aphrodysios was beheaded with the sword at Cilicia (Asia Minor) for his faith in Christ the Saviour.
The Holy Martyr Rufus accepted a martyr's death at Syracuse in Sicily.
Saint Alban (or Albanus), the protomartyr of Britain, was a Roman citizen who lived at Verulamium (modern St Albans), a few miles northwest of London, during a time of persecution. Nothing is known about his family or his occupation.
The chief magistrate of the city had orders to arrest all Christian clergy. One of them, a priest named Amphibalus, fled to Alban's home in order to hide from the soldiers who wished to kill him. Alban was impressed by the priest's constant prayer and vigil, and so he questioned Amphibalus about his beliefs. As a result, Alban came to believe in Christ and asked to be baptized.
Eventually, Amphibalus was forced to move on, and Alban changed clothes with him so that he could get away. The soldiers heard there was a priest hiding in Alban's house, so they came to search it. Seeing Alban dressed in the priest's clothes, they arrested him and brought him before the judge.
The magistrate was offering sacrifice to idols when St Alban appeared before him. After questioning him, he discovered how Alban and the priest had switched clothes. Furious because Alban had allowed a fugitive to escape, the magistrate threatened him with death unless he returned to paganism and revealed where Amphibalus had gone. St Alban replied, "I am also a Christian, and I worship the true God."
After having the saint beaten and tortured, the magistrate threatened him with execution. St Alban rejoiced and glorified God. The magistrate ordered the soldiers to take St Alban to the Holmhurst Hill to be beheaded. When they came to the river Ver, they saw that the bridge was crowded with people who had come to witness Alban's martyrdom. Since they could not proceed because of the multitude of people, St Alban p rayed and made the Sign of the Cross over the river. At once, the waters parted so that they were able to cross over to the other side.
The executioner was so astonished by the miracle that he threw down his sword and refused to behead the saint. He was arrested, and another man was found to behead them both. There is a tradition that St Alban became thirsty while climbing the hill and asked for water. A small spring gushed forth near the top of the hill, and he was able to drink from it. Pilgrims used to come and drink from St Alban's well, but it is now dry.
The date of St Alban's martyrdom is uncertain, but it is believed that it took place during the reign of Decius (ca. 251) or Valerian (ca. 257). The eighteenth century Turin manuscript (which may be based on a fifth century source) suggests that St Alban may have been executed as early as 209, when the emperor Septimus Severus and his two sons were in Britain. The name of the executioner who was converted has not been preserved. The priest Amphibalus was ultimately caught and put to death at a place called Redbourn, four miles from Verulamium.
When people began to cry out against the magistrate, he put an end to the persecution. In later years a cathedral was built on the site of the martyrdom, and the relics of St Alban, the priest Amphibalus, and perhaps even the executioner were enshrined within. St Bede (May 27) tells us that miracles frequently took place at St Alban's tomb. When the Danes invaded England in 860, the relics were removed for safekeeping, then later returned.
A new chapel and shrine were built for the relics in the early fourteenth century. Two hundred years later, during the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, the marble shrine was destroyed. Much later, the fragments of the s hrine were reassembled on its former site. What happened to the relics is uncertain, but it is probable that they were either destroyed or buried in an unmarked spot.
Although St Alban is sometimes depicted in military garb, there is no evidence that he was a soldier. After all, he was living in a private home when he was arrested, and not in a barracks. There is a medieval painting in the south aisle beside the Choir in the Abbey which depicts St Alban with red hair. A medieval seal, now in the Durham Cathedral Chapter Library, shows him with a thick beard. He is stocky, with a high, round and balding forehead, and a cloak covers his left side and right shoulder.
Born at Bordeaux about 354; died 22 June, 431. He sprang from a distinguished family of Aquitania and his education was entrusted to the poet Ausonius. He became governor of the Province of Campania, but he soon realized that he could not find in public life the happiness he sought. From 380 to 390 he lived almost entirely in his native land. He married a Spanish lady, a Christian named Therasia. To her, to Bishop Delphinus of Bordeaux and his successor the Presbyter Amandus, and to St. Martin of Tours, who had cured him of some disease of the eye, he owed his conversion. He and his brother were baptized at the same time by Delphinus. When Paulinus lost his only child eight days after birth, and when he was threatened with the charge of having murdered his brother, he and his wife decided to withdraw from the world, and to enter the monastic life. They went to Spain about 390.
At Christmas, 394, or 395, the inhabitants of Barcelona obliged him to be ordained, which was not canonical as he had not previously received the other orders. Having had a special devotion to St. Felix, who was buried at Nola in Campania, he laid out a fine avenue leading to the church containing Felix's tomb, and beside it he erected a hospital. He decided to settle down there with Therasia; and he distributed the largest part of his possessions among the poor. In 395 he removed to Nola, where he led a rigorous, ascetic, and monastic life, at the same time contributing generously to the Church, the aqueduct at Nola, and the construction of basilicas in Nola, Fondi, etc. The basilica at Nola counted five naves and had on each side four additions or chapels (cubicula), and an apsis arranged in a clover shape. This was connected with the old mortuary chapel of St. Felix by a gallery. The side was richly decorated with marble, silver lamps and lustres, paintings, statuary, and inscriptions. In the apsis was a mosaic which represented the Blessed Trinity, and of which in 1512 some remnants were still found.
About 409 Paulinus was chosen Bishop of Nola. For twenty years he discharged his duties in a most praiseworthy manner. His letters contain numerous biblical quotations and allusions; everything he performed in the Spirit of the Bible and expressed in Biblical language. Gennadius mentions the writings of Paulinus in his continuation of St. Jerome's "De Viris Illustribus" (xlix). The panegyric on the Emperor Theodosius is unfortunately lost, as are also the Opus sacramentorum et hymnorum", the "Epistolae ad Sororem", the "Liber de Paenitentia", the "Liber de Laude Generali Omnium Martyrum", and a poetical treatment of the "De Regibus" of Suetonius which Ausonius mentions. Forty-nine letters to friends have been preserved, as those to Sulpicius Severus, St. Augustine, Delphinus, Bishop Victricius of Rouen, Desiderius, Amandus, Pammachius, etc. Thirty-three poems are also extant. After 395 he composed annually a hymn for the feast of St. Felix, in which he principally glorified the life, works, and miracles of his holy patron. Then going further back he brought in various religious and poetic motives. The epic parts are very vivid, the lyrics full of real, unaffected enthusiasm and an ardent appreciation of nature. Thirteen of these poems and fragments of the fourteenth have preserved.
Conspicuous among his other works are the poetic epistles to Ausonius, the nuptial hymn to Julianus, which extols the dignity and sanctity of Christian marriage, and the poem of comfort to the parents of Celsus on the death of their child. Although Paulinus has great versatility and nicety, still he is not entirely free from the mannerisms and ornate culture of his period. All his writings breathe a charming, ideal personality, freed from all terrestrial attachments, ever striving upward. According to Augustine, he also had an exaggerated idea concerning the veneration of saints and relics. His letter xxxii, written to Sulpicius Severus, has received special attention because in it he describes the basilica of Nola, which he built, and gives copious accounts of the existence, construction, and purpose of Christian monuments. From Paulinus too we have information concerning St. Peter's in Rome. During his lifetime Paulinus was looked upon as saint. His body was first interred in the cathedral of Nola; later, in Benevento; then it was conveyed by Otto III to S. Bartolomeo all'Isola, in Rome, and finally in compliance with the regulation of Pius X of 18 Sept., 1908 (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, I, 245 sq.) was restored to the cathedral of Nola. His feast, 22 June, was raised to the rank of a double.
The Priestmartyr Eusebios, Bishop of Samosata, stood firmly for the Orthodox confession of faith confirmed at the Ist OEcumenical Council at Nicea in the year 325. For this he underwent persecution by the Arians, being repeatedly deprived of his cathedra and banished into exile. The emperor Constantius (337-361), patron of the Arians, having learned that Saint Eusebios kept a conciliar decree about the election to the Antioch cathedra of the Orthodox Archbishop Meletios, sent him a command to give up the decree. The saint boldly refused to do as ordered. The enraged emperor sent a message, that if he did not give up the decree, then his right hand would be cut off. Saint Eusebios stretched out both hands to the emissary with the words: "Cut them off, but the Decree of the Council, which doth denounce the wickedness and iniquity of the Arians, I will not give up". The emperor Constantius marveled at the audacity of the bishop, but did him no harm.
After Constantius, there reigned Justin the Apostate (361-363). Even more difficult times ensued -- there began an open persecution against Christians. Sainted Eusebios, having concealed his dignity, went about in the garb of a soldier across the whole of Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine, urging Christians to the Orthodox faith. He established priests and deacons in desolated churches, he put hands upon bishops renouncing the Arian heresy. After Julian the Apostate perished, there ruled the pious emperor Jovian (363-364), during which time the persecutions stopped. Having returned from exile, Archbishop Meletios upon the advice of Saint Eusebios convened a Local Council at Antioch in the year 379. In it participated 27 bishops, and it re-affirmed the Orthodox teaching of faith accepted at the Ist OEcumenical Council. The Arians, fearing the steadfast defenders of Orthodoxy -- Sainted-hierarchs Meletios, Eusebios and Pelagios, who had great influence with the emperor, put their signatures under the conciliar definition. After the death of the emperor Jovian began the rule of the Arian Vanlentus (364-378). The Orthodox were again subjected to persecution. Saint Meletios was banished to Armenia, Saint Pelagios -- to Arabia, and Saint Eusebios was condemned to exile in Thrace. Having received the imperial decree, Saint Eusebios left Samosata by night so as to prevent tumult among the people that esteemed him. Having learned about the departure of the bishop, believers followed after him and with tears entreated him to return. The saint refused to fulfill the entreaty of those who had come, saying that it was necessary to obey the existing authorities. The saint urged his flock to hold firm to Orthodoxy, blessed them and set off to the place of exile. The Arian Eunomios was put upon the Samosata cathedra, but the people did not accept the heretic. The Orthodox would not go to the church and avoided meeting with him. The heretic Arian perceived, that it was impossible to entice the independent flock to him.
The emperor Gracian (375-383) came upon the throne, and there were brought back from exile all the Orthodox hierarchs banished under the Arians. Saint Eusebios also returned to Samosata and continued with the task of building up the church. Together with Saint Meletios he supplied Orthodox hierarchs and clergy to Arian places. In about the year 380, he arrived in the Arian city of Dolikhina to establish there the Orthodox bishop Marinos. An Arian woman flung a roof tile which struck the head of the sainted-bishop. In dying, he on the example of the Saviour asked her for wine and requested those around not to do her any harm. The body of Sainted Eusebios was taken to Samosata and with lamantation he was buried by his flock. In place of the saint was raised up his nephew, Blessed Antiokhos, and the Samosata Church continued to steadfastly confess the Orthodox faith, firmly spread through the efforts of the holy Priestmartyr Eusebios.
The Holy Martyrs Zinon and Zina lived in the city of Philadelphia (Arabia). They led a pious life. Saint Zinon possessed a large fortune, but he distributed his substance to the poor and manumitted slaves to freedom. Together with his devoted servant Zina, he went to the governor and denounced him for idol-worship. They hung them from pillars, struck at them with iron hooks, rubbed their wounds with vinegar and salt, scorched their sides and chests with fire, threw them in a pit with fire and poured boiling oil over the sufferers. The saints endured all the tortures with forbearance and by the power of God they remained alive. Finally, the martyrs were beheaded with a sword (+ 304).
The Holy Martyrs Galaction, Juliania and Saturninus: Saint Galaction was drowned in the sea for confessing faith in Christ, and Saint Juliania together with her son Saturninus was burnt.
Æthelthryth was probably born in Exning, near Newmarket in Suffolk. She was one of four daughters of King Anna of East Anglia (killed c.653), all of whom eventually retired from secular life and founded abbeys.
Æthelthryth made an early first marriage (c. 652) to Tondberct, chief or prince of the South Gyrvians, or "fenmen" (gyr, Old English "fen") (d. 655). However, she managed to persuade her husband to respect her vow of perpetual virginity that she had made prior to their marriage. Upon his death in 655, Æthelthryth retired to the Isle of Ely, given to her as her morning gift by Tondberct.
Æthelthryth subsequently remarried in 660, this time to Ecgfrith, King of Northumbria again for political reasons. Shortly after Ecgfrith's accession to the throne [670 AD], Æthelthryth became a nun. This step possibly led to Ecgfrith's long quarrel with Wilfrid bishop of York. One account holds that while Ecgfrith initially agreed that Æthelthryth should continue to remain a virgin, in about 672 he wished to consummate their marriage and even attempted to bribe Wilfrid to use his influence on the queen to convince her. This tactic failing, the king tried to take his queen from the cloister by force. Æthelthryth fled to Ely with two faithful nuns and managed to evade capture thanks, in part, to the miraculous rising of the tide. Some versions of the legend relate that she halted on the journey at "Stow" and sheltered under a miraculously growing ash tree which came from her staff planted in the ground. Stow came to be known as "St Etheldred's Stow" when a church was built to commemorate this. (It is more likely that this refers to another Stow, near Threekingham.) Ecgfrith later married a second wife, Eormenburg, and expelled Wilfrid from his kingdom in 678. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Æthelthryth founded the monastery at Ely in 673; the monastery was later destroyed in the Danish invasion of 870.
The Holy Martyress Agrippina, was by birth a Roman. She did not wish to enter into marriage, and totally dedicated her life to God. During the time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Valerian (253-259) the saint went before the court and bravely confessed her faith in Christ, for which she was given over to torture. They beat the holy virgin with sticks so much, that her bones broke. Afterwards they put Saint Agrippina in chains, but an Angel freed her from her bonds. The holy confessor died from the tortures she endured. The Christians Vassa, Paula and Agathonica secretly took the body of the holy martyress and transported it to Cilicia, where at her grave were worked many miracles. In about the XI Century the relics of the holy Martyress Agrippina were transferred to Constantinople.
The Holy Martyrs Eustochius, Gaius, Probius, Lollius and Urban suffered for Christ during the time of a persecution under the emperor Maximian (286-310).
Saint Eustochius was a pagan priest, but seeing the unyielding courage of the Christian martyrs, and the miracles worked by them, he converted to Christ. He went to the bishop of Antioch, Eudoxos, received from him holy Baptism and was ordained to the dignity of presbyter. In the city of Listra Saint Eustochius converted to the path of salvation his nephew Gaius and all his household, among which included the lads Probius, Lollius and Urban. Soldiers of the emperor arrested Saint Eustochius and took him for trial. Tortures did not sway the faith of Eustochius. They then sent the saint to the governor Agrippinus in the Galatian city of Ancyra. With him also was sent the newly-converted Gaius with his household. All of them -- not excluding even the women and children, underwent fierce torture, but the martyrs did not recant from Christ and so were beheaded.
Holy Righteous Artemii of Verkol'sk was born in the village of Dvina Verkol around the year 1532. The son of pious parents, Artemii was a lad with fortitude, mildness and diligent for every good deed. On 23 June 1545 the thirteen year old Artemii and his father were taken by surprise in a field by a thunderstorm. Under one of the strokes of lightning the lad Artemii fell dead. People thought that this was a sign of judgement from God, and therefore they left the body unburied in a pine forest. After 28 days the village clergyman beheld a light over the place, where the undecayed body of Righteous Artemii lay. Taken to church, the holy relics were shewn a source of numerous healings. In this village there was later built a monastery, called the Verkol'sk. The memory of Righteous Artemii is also celebrated on 20 October.
The Monks Antonii and Ioannikii pursued an ascetic life at the monastery of the Monk Joseph of Zaonikievsk.
The Nativity of the Holy Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John: The Gospel (Lk. 1: 57-80) relates that the righteous parents of Saint John the Baptist -- the Priest Zachariah and Elizabeth, lived in the ancient city of Hebron, and reached old age being childless, since Elizabeth was barren. One time, Saint Zachariah was making Divine services at the Jerusalem Temple and saw the Archangel Gabriel, standing on the right side of the incense offertory. He predicted, that Saint Zachariah would father a son, who would announce the Saviour -- the Messiah, awaited by the Old Testament Church. Zachariah was troubled, and fear fell upon him. He had doubts that in old age it was possible to have a son, and he asked for a sign. And it was given to him -- it appeared at the same time as a chastisement for his unbelief: Zachariah was struck speechless until the time of the fulfillment of the archangel's words.
Saint Elizabeth came to be with child, and fearing derision over the lateness of her pregnancy, she kept it secret for five months, until there came visiting her distant relative the All-Blessed Virgin Mary, to share with her Her own joy. Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, was the first to greet the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God. And together with her Saint John also -- in the womb of his mother Righteous Elizabeth -- did greet "with leaps as in song" the MostHoly Virgin Mary and the Son of God incarnated within Her.
It became time, and Saint Elizabeth gave birth to a son, and all the relatives and acquaintances rejoiced together with her. On the eighth day, in accord with the law of Moses, was made the circumcision. His mother named him John. Everyone was amazed, since no one in their family had been named such. When they asked Saint Zachariah about this, he motioned for a tablet and wrote on it: "John is his name" -- and immediately the binding of his tongue at the prediction of the archangel was unbound, and Saint Zachariah, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, glorified God and pronounced the words of prophecy about the Advent-Coming into the world of the Messiah, and about his own son John -- the Forerunner of the Lord.
After the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ and the worship of the shepherds and the Magi, wicked king Herod gave orders to kill all the infants. Hearing about this, Saint Elizabeth fled into the wilderness and hid in a cave. Saint Zachariah as a priest was at Jerusalem and was doing his priestly service in the Temple. Herod sent soldiers to him to find out the abode of the infant John and his mother. Zachariah answered, that their whereabouts were unknown to him, and he was killed right there in the Temple. Righteous Elizabeth continued to live in the wilderness with her son and she died there. The lad John, protected by an Angel, dwelt in the wilderness until such time, when he came preaching about repentance and was himself vouchsafed worthy to baptise the Lord Who was come into the world.
Saint Athanasius Parios, the distinguished theologian and great teacher of the Greek nation, was born in the village of Kostos on the island of Paros around 1721 - 1722. His father, Apostolos Toulios, was from Siphnos, and his mother was a native of Paros.
The future saint was a leading member of the Kollyvades movement which began on Mount Athos in the middle of the eighteenth century. The movement derives its name from the kollyva (boiled wheat) which is used during memorial services. Its proponents were Athonite monks who adhered strictly to holy Tradition, and were opposed to unwarranted innovations. They were in favor of the frequent reception of Holy Communion, and they practiced unceasing prayer of the heart. They insisted that memorial services should not be performed on Sundays, because that is the day of the Lord's Resurrection. In the Orthodox Church Saturday is the usual day for the commemoration of the dead.
St Athanasius went to Mount Athos in 1752. There he was ordained to the holy priesthood by St Macarius of Corinth (April 17), but was forced to leave the Holy Mountain when some of the monks rose in opposition to the Kollyvades. The righteous one was unjustly slandered for his views on frequent Communion and for his opposition to memorial services on Sundays.
As the result of personal attacks and intrigues against him, St Athanasius was suspended from exercising his priestly office from 1776 - 1781, and was even accused of being a heretic. When the charges against him were later proven to be absurd and unfounded, his suspension was lifted, and he was restored to his former rank.
St Athanasius knew and influenced many of his fellow Kollyvades, such as St Macarius of Corinth, St Nicephorus of Chios (May 1), St Arsenius of Paros (January 31), and St Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain (July 14). He taught St Nicephorus, and he encouraged St Nicodemus to publish a collection of the writings of St Gregory Palamas (November 14). Unfortunately, his manuscript was lost before it could be printed.
After teaching at the Athonias Academy and in Thessalonica, St Athanasius journeyed to the island of Chios in 1788, where he taught in the gymnasium for twenty-five years, and also served as Director of schools. He was a leading educator and distinguished theologian who revived the art of eloquent speech on Chios by teaching logic, rhetoric, metaphysics, and theology. His TREATISE ON RHETORIC, an analysis of some of the orations of Demosthenes, was a most influential work.
St Athanasius wrote many other useful books and treatises on various topics such as A HANDBOOK OF APOLOGETICS, "The Great Blessing of Water," "On the Second Sunday of Great Lent," "The Kneeling Prayers on Pentecost," "On the Holy Icons," "On Memorial Services," "On the New Martyrs," "On the Angels and Divine Beauty," as well as numerous letters dealing with diverse subjects. His most important book was the EPITOME, which deals with Orthodox dogma.
St Athanasius was also a prolific writer of saints' Lives and of liturgical services in their honor. He wrote the lives of St Mark the New (June 5) and St Macarius of Corinth, among others. He also wrote the Preface for the NEW LEIMONARION (New Spiritual Meadow), a collection of saints' lives and services begun by St Macarius, with additional material contributed by St Nicephorus of Chios and by St Athanasius himself.
St Athanasius retired as Director of schools in 1812, and went to join St Nicephorus at the Hermitage of St George at Resta, Chios where he spent his final days. He departed to the Lord on June 24, 1813 at the age of ninety.
St Athanasius was very zealous for the teachings of Christ and His Church, and patiently endured persecution and suffering during his life because of his beliefs. Since he was opposed to the so-called Age of Enlightenment and fought against the "progressive" spirit of his time, he was censured by some of his contemporaries. Although his detractors enjoyed a certain fame during their lifetime, they are all but forgotten today. On the other hand, St Athanasius has been glorified by God and was officially recognized as a saint of the Orthodox Church in 1995.
The Holy Martyred Seven Brothers -- Orentios, Pharnax, Heros, Phirmos, Phirmenes, Kyriakos and Longinos -- were Roman soldiers. During the reign of Maximian (284-305) the Skyths fell upon the Greeks. To fight a duel against the Skythian champion Maroth -- distinguished for his especial strength of body -- there was commanded to go against him Saint Orentios, also a strong and brave warrior. Orentios was a Christian, as were his six brothers, who were also serving in the imperial army. Calling on the Lord for help, Saint Orentios defeated Maroth and in such manner stopped the invasion of the Skyths. The emperor intended to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods for this victory and he invited the victor -- Saint Orentios -- to participate. The saint refused, and explained that he himself was a Christian and said, that he vanquished the enemy by the power of the True God the Lord Jesus Christ. Neither the promise of honours or riches, nor threats were able to sway the saint to renounce Christ. The fierce and ungrateful emperor gave orders to banish to the Caucasus both the saint and his six brothers -- Saints Pharnax, Heros, Phirmos, Phirmenes, Kyriakos and Longinos. During the time of the journey all seven brothers died. The first was the death of Saint Heros on 22 June at Parembol; after him as a martyr died Saint Orentios: they cast him into the sea, having a stone bound about his neck. The Archangel of the Lord Raphael took him from the water to dry land at Riza, on the south shore of the Black Sea, where the holy martyr died. Saint Pharnax died on 3 July at Kordila; Saints Phirmos and Phirmenes -- on 7 July at Aspara, on the eastern shore of the Black Sea; Saint Kyriakos -- at Ziganeia on 14 July, and Saint Longinos died on the ship on 28 July. Battered by a storm the ship came aground at Pitindeia (Pitsunda), where the body of the holy martyr was buried.
The Holy Martyr Panagiotes of Caesarea suffered under the Turks at Constantinople in the year 1765. He was buried at the cemetery "the Life-Bearing Fount".
Sainted Nikita, a native and afterwards bishop of the city of Remesianum (Remeshek, now Nirot), was born a Slav. All his life was devoted to the spread of Christianity among the Slavic tribes. He died peacefully in about the year 420.
The Righteous Lads James (Iakov) and John of Meniuzsk were brothers by birth -- children of the pious couple Isidor and Barbara. James at three years of age, and John at five years of age -- were killed by miscreants. Between the years 1682-1689 their relics were found undecayed and placed in a reliquary at the Trinity church in Meniuzh village -- Novgorod diocese, at the locale of the former Trinity monastery there.
The Virgin-Martyr Febronia suffered during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). She was raised at a monastery in the city of Sivapolis (Assyria region). The head of the women's monastery was the hegumenia Brienna, the aunt of Saint Febronia, and being concerned about the salvation of Saint Febronia, she assigned her a stricter form of life than the other nuns. According to their monastic ustav-rule, on Fridays the sisters left aside their other duties and spent the whole day at prayer and the reading of Holy Scripture, and usually the hegumenia appointed the reading to Saint Febronia.
News about her pious life spread throughout the city. The illustrious young widow Hieria, a pagan, began to visit her, and under the influence of her guidance and prayer she accepted holy Baptism, bringing then to the Christian faith her parents and kinsfolk.
Diocletian dispatched to Assyria for the destruction of Christians a detachment of soldiers under the command of Lysimachus, Selenus and Primus. Selenos, the uncle of Lysimachus, was noted for his fierce attitude against Christians, but Lysimachus was of a different frame of mind from him, since his mother had sought to inspire love for the Christian faith in her son, and she had died a Christian. And Lysimachus had discussed with his kinsman Primus how far possible it would be to deliver Christians from the hands of the torturer. When the detachment of soldiers approached the convent, its inhabitants hid. There remained only the hegumenia Brienna, her helper Thomaida and Saint Febronia, who at the time was seriously ill. It sorrowed the hegumenia terribly, that her niece would fall into the hands of the torturers, possibly to defile her, and she prayed fervently that the Lord would preserve her and strengthen her in the confession of Christ the Saviour. Selenus gave orders to bring him all the nuns of the convent. Primus with the detachment of soldiers found no one, except the two old women and Saint Febronia. He regretted that they had not hidden, and he suggested to the nuns to be gone. But the nuns decided not to quit the place of their labours and they entrusted themselves to the will of the Lord.
Primus told Lysimachus about the particular beauty of Saint Febronia and advised him to take her for himself in marriage. Lysimachus answered, that he did not wish to seduce a virgin dedicated to God, and he asked Primus to hide the other nuns somewhere, so that they would not fall into the hands of Selenus. One of the soldiers overheard the conversation and told Selenus. They led Saint Febronia off to the military commander with her hands bound and a chain on her neck. Selenus urged her to recant from the faith in Christ and he promised her honours, rewards, and marriage with Lysimachus. The holy virgin firmly and fearlessly answered, that she had the Immortal Bridegroom and she would not exchange Him for some worldly blessing. Selenus subjected her to fierce torture. The saint prayed: "My Saviour, do not abandon me in this terrible hour!" They beat the martyress for a long time, and blood from her handcuffs flowed from the wounds. In order to intensify the suffering of Saint Febronia, they tied her to a tree and set a fire under it. The tortures were so inhuman, that the people began to shout, urging a stop to the torture since there was no confession of guilt by the girl. But Selenus continued to mock and jeer at the martyress. Saint Febronia became silent. Because of weakness she was unable to utter a word. In a rage Selenus gave orders to tear out her tongue, smash her teeth, and finally, to cut off both hands and legs. The people were unable to bear such an horrid spectacle and they left the scene of the torture, cursing Diocletian and his gods.
Among the crowd was the Nun Thomaida, who afterwards recorded in detail the martyr's act of Saint Febronia, and also her student Hieria. She came forth out of the crowd and in the hearing of all reproached Selenus for his boundless cruelty. He gave orders to arrest her, but learning that Hieria was of illustrious standing whom he could not readily subject to torture, he stopped her, saying: "By thy speech thou hast brought on Febronia yet greater torment". Finally, they beheaded the holy Martyress Febronia.
Departing the place of execution, Lysimachus wept and withdrew to his quarters. Selenus made ready to eat, but he was not able to take food, and went off to the quiet of his own chambers. Suddenly, looking upwards, he all at once lost his speech, bellowed like an ox, fell down, and having struck a marble column, he cracked his head and there he died. When Lysimachus learned of this, he said: "O Great God of the Christians, Who art worthy of respect, in that innocent blood hath been revenged!" He prepared a coffin, placed in it the mutilated body of the martyress and took it to the convent. Hegumenia Brienna fell senseless, seeing the mutilated remains of Saint Febronia. By evening time she returned to her senses and gave orders to open the convent gates, so that all would be able to come and venerate the holy martyress and glorify God -- having given her such endurance in suffering for Christ the Saviour. Lysimachus and Primus thereupon renounced their idol-worship, and accepted both Baptism and monasticism. Hieria gave her wealth to the convent and petitioned hegumenia Brienna to accept her at the convent in place of Saint Febronia.
Every year, on the day of the martyress death of Saint Febronia there was celebrated at the convent a solemn feast. During the time of the all-night vigil the monastic sisters always saw Saint Febronia, who occupied her usual place in church. From the relics of Saint Febronia occurred numerous miracles and healings. The Life of Saint Febronia was recorded by the Nun Thomaida, an eye-witness to her deeds.
In the year 363 the relics of Saint Febronia were transferred to Constantinople.
Soon after the death of Saint Febronia, Saint James the Bishop of Niziba (Comm. 13 January) built a church and transferred into it part of the relics of the holy martyress.
Adalbert Levita or DIACONUS (fl. 700), an early English saint, was the contemporary of St. Willibrord (658–738) and his fellow-worker in the conversion of the Frisians. He is said to have been the first archdeacon of Utrecht, and to have been despatched by Willibrord to preach the gospel in Kennemaria (702), where he built a church at Egmont, near Alkmaar, in North Holland. The date of his death is given by Le Cointe as 25 June 705. This Adalbert was patron saint of Egmont, where his faithful worshipper, Theodoric I, count of Holland (c 922), erected a shrine for his relics. At the bidding of Egbert, archbishop of Treves and grandson of Theodoric I, who believed himself to have been cured of a fever by this saint's intercession, certain ‘monachi Mediolacenses’ (Metloch, near Saarbrück, in the diocese of Treves) drew up in the tenth century a life of Adalbert. This life, together with another account written by a monk at Egmont in the twelfth century, is our chief authority on this subject. According to the first of these writers a certain English priest named Egbert, being divinely forbidden to undertake a personal mission among the heathen of North Germany, despatched Willibrord, Adalbert, and ten others in his stead.
According to all accounts Adalbert was of noble birth, and it is not improbable that he was the grandson of Oswald, king of Deira, who died in 642. For Marcellinus (who claims to have himself been one of the above-mentioned twelve), in his life of St. Swidbert, calls Adalbert's father ‘Edelbaldus filius Oswaldi regis,’ and we know from Bede that Oswald did leave a son Edilwald, Adilwald, or Oidilwald, who, for a short time, reigned over Deira till he played the traitor to Oswy, and lost his kingdom with the overthrow of Penda (655). Adalbert, if a son of this Edilwald, might well enough have been a contemporary of St. Willibrord (658–738). Following the same authority we find Adalbert's name occurring among a list of preachers despatched into various districts of West Germany by order of the council of Utrecht (702), with Egmont specially mentioned as the scene of his labours. But the whole question is involved in doubt, as this ‘Vita Swiberti,’ if not a complete forgery, is extremely incorrect, and has been subject to large interpolations. The Bollandist fathers refuse to give it any credit; but Le Cointe (iv. 204) allows that it may contain a substratum of truth, and follows it, though with some hesitation.
The abbey of Egmont, dedicated to the memory of this saint, was long a most important institution till it was utterly destroyed by the Spaniards at the siege of Alkmaar in 1573 (MOTLEY, Rise of Dutch Republic, pt. iii. ch. 9). However, even so late as 1709, when the Bollandist fathers drew up their account of St. Adalbert, the villagers of Egmont and the neighbourhood still kept 25 June sacred to the memory of their patron saint. Other authorities (MABILLON, iii. 586) assign a somewhat different date (c 740) to the subject of this article, and this has led to his life appearing twice in Dr. Smith's ‘Dictionary of Christian Biography’ (i. 32). Tanner mentions certain ‘Epistolæ’ of Adalbert's as still extant, and the ‘Epistola ad Herimannum’ [see ADALBERT OF SPALDING] has also been, without authority, assigned to this author.
Bishop and theological writer, b. probably in Rhaetia, about 380; d. shortly after 465. Only two dates are historically established in his life. In 451 he was at the synod of Milan where the bishops of Northern Italy accepted the celebrated letter (epistola dogmatica) of Leo I, setting forth the orthodox doctrine of the Incarnation against the Nestorians and Eutychians (Mansi, "SS. Conc. Coll. Ampl.", VI, 143). Among nineteen subscribers Maximus is the eighth, and since the order was determined by age, Maximus must then have been about seventy years old. The second established date is 465, when he was at the Synod of Rome. (Mansi, VII, 959, 965 sq.) Here the subscription of Maximus follows immediately after the pope's, showing he was the oldest of the forty-eight bishops present. The approximate time and place of his birth may be surmised from a passage in Sermo 81 (P.L., LVII, 695), where he designates himself as a witness of the martyrdom of three missionary priests in 397 at Anaunia in the Rhaetian Alps. History does not mention him after 465. He is the first known bishop of Turin, then a suffragan see of Milan. His successor was St. Victor. His name is in the Roman martyrology on 25 June, and the city of Turin honours him as its patron. A life which, however, is entirely unreliable, was written after the eleventh century, and is printed in "Acta SS.", June, VII, 3rd ed., 44-46. It states that a cleric one day followed him with an evil intention to a retired chapel, where the saint was wont to pray. The cleric suddenly became so thirsty that he implored Maximus for help. A roe happened to pass which the saint caused to stop, so that the cleric could partake of its milk. This legend accounts for the fact that St. Maximus is represented in art as pointing at a roe.
He is the author of numerous discourses, first edited by Bruni, and published by order of Pius VI at the Propaganda in 1784 (reprinted in P.L., LVII). These discourses, delivered to the people by the saint, consist of one hundred and eighteen homilies, one hundred and sixteen sermons, and six treatises (tractatus). Homilies 1-63 are de tempore, i.e. on the seasons of the ecclesiastical year and on the feasts of Our Lord; 64-82, de sanctis, i.e. on the saints whose feast was commemorated on the day on which they were delivered; 83-118, de diversis, i.e. exegetical, dogmatical or moral. Sermons 1-55 are de tempore; 56-93, de sanctis; 93-116, de diversis. Three of the treatises are on baptism, one against the Pagans, and one against the Jews. The last two are extant only in fragments, and their genuineness is doubtful. The sixth treatise, whose genuineness is also doubtful, contains short discourses on twenty-three topics taken from the Four Gospels. An appendix contains writings of uncertain authorship; thirty-one sermons, three homilies, and two long epistles addressed to a sick friend. Many writings, however, which Bruni ascribes to Maximus are of doubtful origin. The discourses are usually very brief, and couched in forcible, though at times over flowery language. Among the many facts of liturgy and history touched on in the discourses are: abstinence during Lent (hom. 44), no fasting or kneeling at prayers during paschal time (hom. 61), fasting on the Vigil of Pentecost (hom. 62), the synod of Milan in 389 at which Jovinianus was condemned (hom. 9), the impending barbarian invasion (hom. 86-92), the destruction of the Church of Milan by the barbarians (hom. 94), various pagan superstitions still prevalent at his time (hom. 16, 100-02), the supremacy of St. Peter (hom. 54, 70, 72, serm. 114). All his discourses manifest his solicitude for the eternal welfare of his flock, and in many he fearlessly rebukes the survivals of paganism and defends the orthodox faith against the inroads of heresy.
He was a Scotsman, and a zealous assistant of St. Boniface of Ross in his apostolic labours, in the seventh century, of which mention is made on the 14th of March. The relics of St. Moloc were kept with great veneration at Murlach. When Sweno, the Danish king, sent out of England a barbarous army under the conduct of Olas and Enet, king Malcolm II. after having been at first discomfited by them, overcame them in a second battle near Murlach, which victory he ascribed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and St. Moloc, which with his whole army he had earnestly implored. In thanksgiving he founded at Murlach, in 1010, an abbey under their joint invocation, together with a stately cathedral church which he adorned with an episcopal see, though this was afterwards translated to Aberdeen. The Danes in two other engagements were entirely routed by this religious prince, who perpetuated the memory of the former of these victories by building a second monastery under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the town of Brechin, near which the battle was fought, and by raising an obelisk on the spot, still standing in a village called Cuin, from the name of a Danish general who was there slain. For a memorial of his last victory he erected on the place where it was gained a third abbey called Deir, in the county of Buchan, which soon after adopted the Cistercian rule, and flourished till the change of religion in 1550. The name of St. Moloc was famous over all Scotland, especially in the counties of Argyle and Ross. A considerable portion of his relics was honoured in a famous church which still bears his name at Lismore in Argyleshire.
Holy Prince Peter, in monasticism David, and Holy Princess Febronia, in monasticsm Evphrosynia, Murom Wonderworkers: Holy Prince Peter was the second son of the Murom prince Yurii Vladimirovich. He entered upon the throne of Murom in the year 1203. Several years before this Saint Peter had fallen ill with leprosy, from which no one was able to heal him. In a dream vision it was revealed to the prince, that the daughter of a bee-keeper would be able to heal him -- the pious maiden Febronia, a peasant of Laskova village in Ryazan gubernia. Saint Peter sent his emissaries to this village.
When the prince saw Saint Febronia, he so fell in love with her for her piety, wisdom and virtue, that he made a vow to marry her after being healed. Saint Febronia healed the prince and became his wife. The holy couple loved each other through all their ordeals. The haughty boyars did not wish to have a princess of commoner's origin and they urged, that the prince leave her. But Saint Peter refused, and so they banished the couple. They sailed off on a boat from their native city along the River Oka. Saint Febronia continued to console Saint Peter. But soon the wrath of God fell upon the city of Murom, and the people urged, that the prince return together with Saint Febronia.
The holy couple was famous for its piety and charity. They died on the same day and hour -- 25 June 1228, having before this taken monastic tonsure with the names David and Evphrosynia. The bodies of the saints were put in the same grave.
Saints Peter and Febronia showed themselves exemplary models of Christian marriage.
By their prayers they bring down Heavenly blessing upon those entering into marriage.
The Monk David of Soluneia (Thessalonika) pursued asceticism at the monastery of the holy Martyrs Theodore and Mercurios. Afterwards, having settled near the city of Soluneia, he built himself an hut under an almond tree and lived in it for 70 years, being in constant prayer, keeping strict fast, and enduring heat and cold. The Monk David received from God the gift of wonderworking, and he healed many from sickness. The holy ascetic gave spiritual counsel to all who came to him. Having attained to passionlessness, he was like an angel in the flesh, and without harm he was able to take into his hands the hot coals for the incensing. The monk died in about the year 540.
Sainted Dionysii, Archbishop of Suzdal', in the world David, was tonsured at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery, from whence with a local blessing of an icon of the Mother of God from the founders Monks Antonii and Theodosii, he arrived at the Volga. Saint Dionysii dug out a cave not far from Nizhni-Novgorod and asceticised in total solitude. Brethren constantly thronged to the holy ascetic and in about the year 1335 he founded a monastery in honour of the Ascension-Voznesenie of the Lord. Among his students of Saint Dionysii were the Monks Evphymii of Suzdal' (Comm. 1 April) and Makarii of Zheltovodsk and Unzhensk (Comm. 25 July). In the year 1352 the holy elder sent twelve men from his brethren to "the upper cities and countryside, whom there God would bless" for the spiritual enlightening of the people and the organising of new monasteries. The monastery of Saint Dionysii exerted a deep charitable influence on the inhabitants of Nizhni-Novgorod. In the year 1371 the saint tonsured into monasticism the forty year old widow of prince Andrei Konstantinovich, an instance of which he accepted into monasticism "dignitaries: women, and widowers, and maidens".
In the year 1374 Saint Dionysii was deemed worthy of the dignity of bishop, and his years of service as bishop occurred during a remarkable period -- Russia was rising to cast off the Mongol-Tatar Yoke. On 31 March 1375 the Tatar military-chief, having been shown to the bishop's court by the enslaved inhabitants of Nizhni-Novgorod, shot off an arrow from his bow at Saint Dionysii. But the Lord preserved his chosen one, and the arrow struck only the bishop's mantle. In 1377, through the blessing and possibly the editorship of Saint Dionysii, there was compiled the Lavrentian Chronicle by the Monk Lavrentii, inspiring Russia in the struggle for freedom.
In 1379, preserving the integrity of the primal-bishop's cathedra, Sainted Dionysii was one of the bishops gathered in Moscow by order of the prince, and he came out against the election as metropolitan of the prince's protegee, the ill reputed archimandrite Mityaya.
In the same year of 1379 Saint Dionysii journeyed to Constantinople with a protest against the choice of Mityaya on grounds of his complicity with the heretical Strigolniki. The saint made a strong impression upon the Greeks by his sublime spiritual frame of mind and his profound knowledge of Holy Scripture. Patriarch Nilos, having termed the saint "a warrior of God and a spiritual man", wrote that he himself viewed him "at fasting and charity, and vigil, and prayers, and tears, and every other virtue". From Constantinople Saint Dionysii sent off to a Sobor-Council at Suzdal' two copies of the Hodegetria Icon of the Mother of God. In 1382 the sainted-bishop received from the patriarch the title of archbishop. Returning to Russia, the saint travelled to Pskov and Novgorod to struggle against the heresy of the Strigolniki. He visited Constantinople a second time in 1383 for discussion with the patriarch on questions about the governance of the Russian metropolitanate. In the year 1384 Saint Dionysii was made by patriarch Nilos "metropolitan for Russia". But upon his return to Kiev the saint was arrested on orders of the Kiev prince Vladimir Ol'gerdovich and subjected to imprisonment, where he died on 15 October 1385. The burial of the saint was in "the Kiev Cave of Great Antonii". The commemoration of Saint Dionysii on 26 June is celebrated because of his name in common with the Monk David of Soluneia, this being the name he carried in the world. In the Synodikon of the 1552 Nizhni-Novgorod Pechersk monastery, Saint Dionysii is called a "wonderworking monk".
The Holy Martyred Brothers John and Paul, and Gallicanus were illustrious Romans. Gallicanus had twice been chosen consul of Rome. The holy martyrs suffered under Julian the Apostate (361-363).
The Monk Sampson the Hospitable-to-Strangers was the son of rich and illustrious Roman parents. In his youth he received an excellent education, he studied the medical arts, and for free he doctored the sick. After the death of his parents Saint Sampson generously distributed alms and set free his slaves, preparing himself to go into the wilderness.
With this intent in mind he soon journeyed from Rome to the East. But the Lord directed him onto a different path, that of service to neighbour, and so Saint Sampson came to Constantinople. Settling into a small house, the saint began to take in the wandering homeless, the poor and the sick, and he attended to them zealously. The Lord blessed the efforts of Saint Sampson and endowed him with the power of wonderworking. He healed the sick not only through being a skilled physician, but also as a bearer of the grace of God. The news about Saint Sampson spread widely. The patriarch, having summoned him, ordained him as presbyter.
One time it was revealed to the grievously sick emperor Justinian (527-565), that he could receive healing only through Saint Sampson. In praying, the saint extended his hand in the direction of the sick emperor, who then received relief, and soon recovered altogether. In gratitude the emperor wanted to reward his healer with silver and gold, but the saint refused and instead asked Justinian to build a domicile for wanderers and the sick. The emperor readily fulfilled his request.
All the rest of his life Saint Sampson devoted to serving his neighbour. He survived into old age and after a short illness he with joy expired to the Lord (+ c. 530). The saint was buried at the church of the holy Martyr Mokias. Many an healing was effected at the grave of Saint Sampson. His home for wanderers and the hospice remained open, and the saint did not cease to care for the suffering. He twice appeared to a neglectful worker of the hospice and upbraided him for his laziness. At the request of an admirer of Saint Sampson the vagrants-home was transformed into a church, and alongside it was built a new edifice for taking in the homeless. During the time of a powerful conflagration at Constantinople the flames did not touch the vagrants-home of Saint Sampson: through his prayers a strong rain poured down, which quenched the fire.
Blessed Martin of Turov served as a cook under the Turov bishops Simeon, Ignatii, Joakim (1144-1146) and George. This last hierarch retired Saint Martin because of his age. But the old man did not want to part from the monastery (the bishops made residence at the monastery of Saints Boris and Gleb), and so he accepted monasticism.
In his former work he had often overexerted himself and therefore often fell ill.
One time Saint Martin lay motionless and in moaning with sickness. He fervently called on holy Saints Boris and Gleb for help, and on the third day the saints appeared to him, gave him a sip of water, and healed him from his illness. After this miraculous healing, Blessed Martin survived for yet another year.
The Monk Serapion of Kozheezersk was brought to Moscow amongst the Kazan Tatar captives in the year 1551. They called him Murza (Tatar-prince) Turtas Gravirovich. He accepted Baptism with the name Sergei and lived in the home of the Moscow boyar-noble Zakharii Plescheev. Saint Sergei so sincerely accepted the Christian faith, that he decided to devote himself entirely to God. On a desolate island of Lake Kozha in 1560 he encountered the monk-hermit Nyphontii and stayed to live with him. At the fervent request of Saint Sergei, the monk Nyphontii tonsured him into monasticism with the name Serapion. In 1584, after the death of the monk Nyphontii, the Monk Serapion set off to Moscow and besought of tsar Feodor Ioannovich (1584-1598) a grammota land-deed for a monastery. And after his return to the monastery, the Monk Serapion with the gathered brethren made a clearing in the forest and built two churches: one in honour of the Holy Theophany and the other in honour of Saint Nicholas. Patriarch Job (1589-1605, + 1607)provided the Monk Serapion with the antimins for the church-altars. In 1608, when the Monk Serapion had become old, he made his disciple Avraamii the hegumen in place of himself. The Monk Serapion died in 1611 and was buried at a church of the Kozheezersk monastery. In 1613 the Kozheezersk monk Bogolep wrote down an account about the founding of the monastery and about its initial construction under the Monk Serapion. He compiled also a life of the Monk Serapion.
Saint Joanna the Myhrbearer, wife of Chuza, -- the household steward of king Herod, was one of the women following and attending the Lord Jesus Christ during the time of His preaching and public ministry. And together with the other Myhrbearing Women, after the death on the Cross of the Saviour, Saint Joanna went to the Sepulchre to anoint with myrh the Holy Body of the Lord, and she heard from the Angels the joyful proclamation of His All-Glorious Resurrection.
The Holy Martyr Anektos of Caesarea was beheaded by the sword for his confession of faith in Christ during the persecution by Diocletian (284-305).
The Monk Severus the Presbyter during the VI Century served in a church of the MostHoly Mother of God in the village of Interocleum in Central Italy. He was noted for his virtuous and God-pleasing life. One time, when the saint was working in his garden, cutting grapes in the vineyard, they summoned him to administer the Holy Mysteries for the dying. Saint Severus said: "Go back, and I shalt catch up with you presently". There remained only but a few more grapes to cut off, and Saint Severus dallied for awhile in the garden to finish the work. When he arrived for the sick person, they told him that the person was already dead. Saint Severus, regarding himself as guilty in the death of a man without absolvement, started to tremble and loudly he began to weep. He went into the house wherein lay the deceased, and with loud groaning and calling himself a murderer, in tears he fell down before the dead person. Suddenly the dead man came alive and related to everyone, that the demons wanted to grab hold his soul, but one of the Angels said: "Give him back, since over him doth weep Presbyter Severus, and on account of his tears the Lord hath granted him this man". Saint Severus, giving thanks to the Lord, confessed and communed the resuscitated man with the Holy Mysteries. And that man in constant prayer survived for yet another 7 days, and then with joy reposed to the Lord.
The Monk George of Iveria and Athos, was born at Trialeti (a region of Southern Gruzia, the European Georgia) in the year 1009 (or 1014 by some sources) into the family of illustrious landowners named Maria and Yakov. And his father under a commission of the Gruzian emperor George I (1014-1027) journeyed to the Persian shah in the capacity of an envoy.
When the boy turned age 7, his parents brought him to the Tadzri women's monastery, where his elder sister Tekle (Thekla) was being educated. Saint George spent three years here, and during this time he was twice miraculously saved from perishing by the Providence of God (in the River Ktsia, and another time from the flames of a fire that raged through the monastery).
In 1019 at the request of his uncles (his father's brothers) -- George the Scribe and Savva, who pursued ascetic life at the Khakhul' men's monastery, -- the lad George received the blessing of the Khakhul' monastery head Makarios to be tutored under the strict ascetic Ilarion Tualevi, who was reknown for his knowledge and profound spiritual life.
In 1022 Saint George was sent off to Constantinople, where over the course of twelve years he diligently studied the sciences (i.e. various disciplines) and he received quite an excellent education.
After his return to Gruzia in 1034 he took monastic tonsure at the Khakhul' monastery under the blessed elder Ilarion Tualevi. A certain while later the Monk George gave away all his clothing to the poor whilst attiring himself in old tatters of clothing, and set off to venerate the holy places in Palestine.
After a short stay at various monasteries on Black Mountain near Antioch, the Monk George set off to the Wondrous Mount, to the monastery of Saint Simeon Divnogorets ("of Wondrous Mount", + 459). He found there a spiritual guide in the elder George the Silent (+ 1068), who was also a Gruzinian, living in the crevice of a cliff. He spent three years at the monastery of Saint Romanos (from 1036- to 1039). At thirty years of age the Monk George accepted the monastic great schema from the elder George the Silent. And then in parting from him, he set off to Athos, to the Iveria monastery. Along the way the saint visited Jerusalem and prayed prostrating himself at the Sepulchre of the Lord.
The Monk George arrived at Athos in the year 1040. Here he continued with the transcription work of the Divine-service books and the works of the holy fathers of the Church, a task that had been started by the Monk Euphemios of Iveria (Comm. 13 May).
And at present the Gruzian-Georgian Orthodox Church recognises as canonical and permissible for church useage only this redaction of the Holy Scripture, ascribed to the pen of the Monk George of Iveria, who worthily completed the work of the Monk Euphemios.
In the Vita-Life of the Monk George there is included an incomplete list of his translations from the Greek: the Great Synaxarion, the Acts and the Epistles of the Holy Apostles, the twelve Divine-service Meneions (i.e. for each month), the Oktoikon ("Eight Tones"), the Triodions (the Lenten and the Bright-Paschalion), the Trebnik (or Euchologion, "Book of Needs"), the Psalter, the complete Chasoslov ("Book of Hours"), the "Hexaemeron" ("Six Days") of Saint Basil the Great, the Letters of Saint Ignatios the God-Bearer, the OEcumenical Letters of Saint Cyril of Alexandria, a Book of Saint Gregory of Nyssa, a Book of Saint Theodore the Studite, a Book of the Proceedings of the Sixth OEcumenical Council, and "many another useful and holy book".
From the translations of Saint Gregory of Iveria, from the Latin into the Greek there has come down to us the reknown work of bishop Dorotheos: "Concerning the Seventy Disciples of the Lord". Widely reknown also is an original work by the Monk George of Iveria, the "Vitae of John and Euphemios", which provides a detailed account about the founding and inner life of the Athos Iveria monastery under its first elders and heads -- the Monks John and Euthymios (Comm. 12 July and 13 May).
After a year of obedience, the Monk George in 1042 was ordained to the dignity of priest and was appointed elder priest-monk at the cathedral church. He fulfilled likewise the duties of regent (choir-master). His time not involved in Divine-services he devoted to translation activity and poetic creativity. The Athos hymn-writing of the Monk George of Iveria, in particular the reknown "Evening Bell" was afterwards translated into many an European language.
After the death of the Iveria monastery hegumen Stephanos Khartulyari, the Monk George was chosen the new hegumen (the lots thrice pointed to him). Under the charge of the new hegumen, the monastery cathedral church in honour of the Dormition of the MostHoly Mother of God was rebuilt and made more substantial, and Gruzian dominion over the Iveria monastery was acknowledged. To this end the Monk George made visit to Constantinople, where he was admitted by the emperor Constantine IX Monomakhos (1042-1055), and received from him a grammota deed of endowment.
Having returned to the Iveria monastery, the monk left as its head George Oltiseli in place of himself, and he set off to the Black Mountain near Antioch. Actually, he was compelled to do so, since he had to defend before the Antioch Patriarch Theodosios III (1057-1076) the brethren of his Iveria monastery, who were suspected by the Greeks of being non-Orthodox. The Monk George succeeded not only in accomplishing this task, but he also persuaded the Antioch primate of the canonical legality of the autocephaly of the Gruzian-Georgian Orthodox Church, -- preserving its Apostolic Succession back to the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called. From Antioch, at the invite of the Gruzian emperor Bagrat IV ((1027-1072), the Monk George set off to Gruzia. In Gruzia he spent five years: he taught the people by word and by deed, he assisted in the improvement of church life and he introduced his books of translation. Due to their highly erudite and literary quality, they were acknowledged by the Gruzian-Georgian Church as exemplary.
Having in mind the spiritual enlightening of the land, the Monk George selected 80 Gruzian youths and set off with them to Athos, in order to give them the fundamentals of an education. Along the way he visited Constantinople. Despite the agreement with his students to put off a meeting with the emperor, because he had taken sick and was aware of his own approaching end, the saint nonetheless hastened to present his students before the emperor Constantine X Lukas (1059-1067), and he received a grammota-decree for their education at the Athos school.
On the following day, 29 June 1065, Saint George peacefully expired to the Lord. The body of the monk was reverently conveyed to Athos, and it was glorified along the way by evident signs of God's mercy. It lay for a year in a coffin without burial in the church of All Saints. When the coffin was opened, the body of the saint was totally without decay: not one hair fell from his head or beard. The coffin of Saint George was put near the reliquary of Saint Euphymios on 24 May 1066, on the day commemorating the memory of the Monk Simeon Divnogorets. With the consent of the Katholikos-Patriarch of All Gruzia John IV (1110-1142), annually on this day was celebrated the memory of Saint George, but later it was moved to the day of his blessed repose, and at present it is celebrated on 27 June.
The Monk Xenophont of Robeisk was a student of the Monk Varlaam of Khutinsk (+ 1192, Comm. 6 November). He was the head of the Khutinsk monastery after the hegumen Isidor (+ 1243). Resigning as hegumen, the Monk Xenophont founded the Trinity Monastery on the banks of the Robeika River (not far from Novgorod). And here he reposed blessedly on 28 June 1262.
The Monks Sergei and German of Valaamo settled on the island of Valaamo in 1329. The brethren gathered by them shone forth the light of Orthodoxy in this frontier land. The Karelian people began to regard Christianity with renewed suspicion, with its authority in the XIII Century being undermined by the Swedes, who sought to spread Catholicism by means of the sword. The Monks Sergei and German died in about the year 1353. A second commemoration of them is on 11 September.
The Monk Paul the Physician, from the city of Corinth, in his youth took monastic vows at one of the monasteries. Here the saint toiled much and became an experienced ascetic.
One time Paul, through demonic malice, was slandered by a woman. She came to the monastery with a newborn infant and said, that he was born from the Monk Paul. The elder with humility and joy endured the slander, he did not deny it and he took the infant, as though it were his own son. When they began to reproach the saint for breaking his monastic vows, the Monk Paul said: "Brethren, let us ask the infant, who his father is!" The newborn, pointing his hand at the blacksmith, said: "Here is my father and not the Monk Paul". Seeing this miracle, people bowed down to the elder, asking forgiveness. From this time the Monk Paul received from God the gift of healing the sick, whereby he received the name physician. The Monk Paul died at over age 70.
The Monk Sergios the Magister founded a monastery in honour of the MostHoly Mother of God at the Bay of Nicomedia. The monastery was named the Nikitian, since the monk came from the Paphlagonian city of Nikitia. The monk died on the island of Crete in the IX Century.
Sermon of Blessed Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (Ipponesia). On this present day Holy Church piously remembers the suffering of the Holy Glorious and All-Praiseworthy Apostles Peter and Paul.
Saint Peter, the fervent follower of Jesus Christ, for the profound confession of His Divinity: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God", -- was deemed worthy by the Saviour to hear in answer: "Blessed art thou, Simon... I tell thee, that thou art Peter (Petrus), and on this stone (petra) I build My Church" (Mt. 16: 16-18). On "this stone" (petra), is on that which thou sayest: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God", -- it is on this thy confession I build My Church. Wherefore the "thou art Peter": it is from the "stone" (petra) that Peter (Petrus) is, and not from Peter (Petrus) that the "stone" (petra) is -- just as how the christian is from Christ, and not Christ from the christian. Do you want to know, from what sort of "rock" (petra) the Apostle Peter (Petrus) was named? -- Hear ye the Apostle Paul: "I do not want ye not to know, brethren, -- says the Apostle of Christ, -- how our fathers were all under a cloud, and all passed through the sea: and all in Moses were baptised in the cloud and in the sea. And all thus eating spiritual food, and all thus drinking spiritual drink: for they did drink from the spiritual accompanying rock: for the rock indeed was Christ" (1 Cor. 10: 1-4). Here is the from whence the "Rock" is Peter.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the final days of His earthly life, in the days of His mission to the race of man, chose from among the disciples His twelve Apostles for preaching the Word of God. Among them, the Apostle Peter for his fiery ardour was vouchsafed to occupy the first place (Mt. 10: 2) and to be as it were the representative person for all the Church. And therefore it is said to him, preferentially, after the confession: "And I give thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: and if thou bindest upon the earth, it will be bound in the Heavens: and if thou loosenest upon the earth, it will be loosened in the Heavens (Mt.16; 19). Wherefore it was not one man, but rather the One Universal Church, that received these "keys" and the right "to bind and loosen". And that actually it was the Church that received this right, and not exclusively a single person, turn your attention to another place of the Scriptures, where the same Lord says to also all His Apostles: "Receive ye the Holy Spirit", -- and further after this: "Whoseso sins ye remit, are remitted them: and whoseso sins ye retain, are retained" (Jn. 20: 22-23); or: "with what ye bind upon the earth, will be bound in Heaven: and with what ye loosen upon the earth, will be loosened in the Heavens" (Mt. 18: 18). Thus, it is the Church that binds, the Church that loosens; the Church, built upon the foundational corner-stone -- Jesus Christ Himself (Eph. 2: 20) doth bind and loosen. Let both the binding and the loosening be feared: the loosening, in order not to fall under this again; the binding, in order not to remain forever in this condition. Wherefore "by the passions of his own sins, -- says Wisdom, -- is each ensnared" (Prov. 5: 22); and except for Holy Church nowhere is it possible to receive the loosening.
And after His Resurrection the Lord entrusted the Apostle Peter to shepherd His spiritual flock not because, that among the disciples only Peter alone was pre-deserved to shepherd the flock of Christ, but Christ addresses Himself chiefly to Peter because, that Peter was first among the Apostles and as such the representative of the Church; besides which, having turned in this instance to Peter alone, as to the top Apostle, Christ by this confirms the unity of the Church. "Simon of John, -- says the Lord to Peter, -- lovest thou Me? -- and the Apostle answered: "Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee"; and a second time it was thus asked, and a second time he thus answered; being asked a third time, seeing that as it were not believed, he was saddened. But how is it possible for him not to believe That One, Who knew his heart? And wherefore then Peter answered: "Lord, Thou knowest all; Thou knowest that I love Thee". "And sayeth Jesus to him" all three times "Feed My sheep" (Jn. 20: 15-17). Besides this, the thrice appealing of the Saviour to Peter and the thrice confession of Peter before the Lord had a particular beneficial purpose for the Apostle. That one, to whom was given "the keys of the kingdom" and the right "to bind and to loosen", himself thrice bound himself by fear and cowardice (Mt. 26: 69-75), and the Lord thrice loosens him by His appeal and in turn by his confession of strong love. And to shepherd literally the flock of Christ was acquired by all the Apostles and their successors. "Attend yourself to all the flock, -- urges the Apostle Paul to church presbyters, -- in which the Holy Spirit hath established ye as bishops, to shepherd the Church of the Lord God, acquired by His Blood" (Acts 20: 28); and the Apostle Peter to the elders: "Feed among you the flock of Christ, attending to it not by need, but by will and according to God: not for unrighteous profit, but zealously: not as commanding parables, but be an image to the flock. And when is appeared the Prince of pastors, ye will receive unfading crowns of glory" (1 Pet. 5: 2-4).
It is remarkable that Christ, having said to Peter: "Feed My sheep", -- did not say: "Feed thy sheep", -- but rather to feed, good servant, the sheep of the Lord. "For was Christ divided, or is Paul crucified according to you, or are ye baptised in the name of Peter or of Paul?" (1 Cor. 1: 13). "Feed My sheep". Wherefore "wolfish robbers, wolfish oppressors, deceitful teachers and mercenaries, not being concerned about the flock" (Mt. 7: 15; Acts 20: 29; 2 Pet. 2: 1; Jn. 10: 12), having plundered a strange flock and making of the spoils as though it be of their own particular gain, they think that they feed their flock. Such are not good pastors, as pastors of the Lord. "The good pastor lays down his life for the sheep" (Jn. 10: 11), entrusted to Him by the Prince of pastors Himself (1 Pet. 5: 4). And the Apostle Peter, true to his calling, gave his soul for the very flock of Christ, having sealed his apostleship by a martyr's death, now glorified throughout all the world.
And the Apostle Paul, being formerly Saul, was changed from a robbing wolf into a meek lamb; formerly he was an enemy of the Church, then is manifest as an Apostle; formerly he stalked it, then preached it. Having received from the high-priests the authority at large to throw all christians in chains for execution, he was already on the way, "he breathed with rage and murder against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9: 1), he thirsted for blood, but -- "the Living One in the Heavens mocked him" (Ps. 2: 4). When he, "having persecuted and vexed" in such manner "the Church of God" (1 Cor. 15: 9; Acts 8: 5), he came nigh to Damascus, and the Lord from Heaven called to him: "Saul, Saul, wherefore persecutest thou Me?" -- and I am here, and I am there, I am everywhere: here is My head; there is My body. There becomes nothing of a surprise in this; we ourselves -- are members of the Body of Christ. "Saul, Saul, wherefore persecutest thou Me; it is terrible to thee to kick against the goad" (Acts 9: 4-5). Saul, however, "trembling and frightened", cried out: "Who art Thou, Lord?" I am Jesus, -- answered the Lord to him, -- Whom thou persecutest". And Saul suddenly undergoes a change: "What wantest Thou me to do?" -- he cries out. And suddenly for him there is the Voice: "Rise up and go to the city, and it will be told thee, what thou ought to do" (Acts 9: 6). Here the Lord sends Ananias: "Rise up go upon the street" to a man, "by the name of Saul", and baptise him, "for this one is a vessel chosen by Me, to bear My Name before pagans and rulers and the sons of Israel" (Acts 9: 11, 15, 18). This vessel mustneeds be filled with My Grace. "Ananias however answered: Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he hath done to Thine saints in Jerusalem: and to be here to have the authority from the high-priests to seize all calling upon Thy Name" (Acts 9: 13-14). But the Lord urgently commands Ananias: "Search for and fetch him, for this vessel is chosen by Me: for I shalt tell him, how much mustneeds be for him to suffer about My Name" (Acts 9: 11, 15-16).
And actually the Lord did direct the Apostle Paul, what things he had to suffer for His Name. He instructed him the deeds; He did not stop at the chains, the fetters, the prisons and shipwrecks; He Himself felt for him in his sufferings, He Himself guided him towards this day. On a single day is done the memory of the sufferings of both these Apostles, though they suffered on separate days, but by the spirit and the closeness of their suffering they constitute one. Peter went first, Paul followed soon after him, -- formerly called Saul, and then Paul, having transformed in himself his pride into humility, as means also his very name (Paulus), meaning "small, little, less", -- demonstrates this. What is the Apostle Paul after this? Ask him, and he himself gives answer to this: "I am, -- says he, -- the least of the Apostles: but moreso than all I have laboured, yet not I, but the grace of God, which is with me" (1 Cor. 15: 9-10).
And so, brethren, celebrating now the memory of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, remembering their venerable sufferings, we esteem their true faith and holy life, we esteem the innocence of their sufferings and pure confession. Loving in them the sublime quality and imitating them by great exploits, "in which to be likened to them" (2 Thess. 3: 5-9), and we shall attain to that eternal bliss which is prepared for all the saints. The path of our life before was more grievous, thornier, harder, but "how great the cloud of witnesses enveloping us" (Hebr. 12: 1), having passed by along it, made now for us easier, and lighter, and more readily-passable. First there passed along it "the Founder and Fulfiller of faith" our Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Hebr. 12: 2); His daring Apostles followed after Him; then the martyrs, children, women, virgins and a great multitude of witnesses. Who acted in them and helped them on this path? -- He that said: "Without Me ye are able to do nothing" (Jn. 15: 5).
The Sobor (Assemblage) of the Glorious and All-Praiseworthy Twelve Apostles of Christ appears an ancient feast. Holy Church, -- honouring each of the 12 Apostles at a separate time of the year, from ancient times established a general commemoration of them on the day following after the commemoration of the Glorious and First-Ranked among the Apostles Peter and Paul (+ c. 67). An account about each of the Apostles is on the day of his individual commemoration: the Apostle Peter (+ c. 67; Comm. 29 June); the Apostle Andrew the First-Called (+ 62, Comm. 30 November); the Apostle James son of Zebedee (+ 44, Comm. 30 April); the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian (+ early II Century, Comm. 26 September); Apostle Philip (Comm. 14 November); Apostle Bartholomew (Comm. 11 June); Apostle Thomas (Comm. 6 October); Apostle and Evangelist Matthew (+ 60, Comm. 16 November); Apostle James Alphaeus (Comm. 9 October); Apostle Jude, brother of the Lord (+ c. 80, Comm. 19 June); Apostle Simon Zelotes (Comm. 10 May); Apostle Matthias (+ c. 63, Comm. 9 August).
The holy nobleborn emperor Constantine the Great (306-337) built at Tsar'grad a temple in the name of the holy Twelve Apostles. Directions for the celebrating of this feast are encountered from the IV Century.
Saint Gelasius was the igumen of the Rimet Monastery in Transylvania. He had lived as a solitary near Rimet creek, and he was granted the grace of working miracles.
The saint fasted on weekdays, eating only on Saturdays and Sundays, and his only food was the Eucharist. During the day he fulfilled his monastic obediences, and at night he kept vigil.
St Gelasius was the spiritual Father of many hermits of Rimet Mountain, whom he would visit during Great Lent. He healed the sick, and cast out demons from those who were possessed. It is said that a spring of water appeared through his holy prayers.
His later years were spent as a bishop, and he departed to the Lord after many labors on behalf of his flock.
St Gelasius was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Romania in 1992.
Bishop of Limoges in the third century. We have no accurate information as to the origin, dates of birth and death, or the acts of this bishop. All that we know of him we have from Gregory of Tours and it may be summed up thus: Under the consulate of Decius and of Gratus seven bishops were sent from Rome to Gaul to preach the Gospel; Gatien to Tours, Trophimus to Arles, Paul to Narbonne Saturninus to Toulouse, Denis to Paris, Austromoine to Clermont, and Martial to Limoges. Martial seems to have been accompanied by two priests brought by him from the Orient, so he himself may have been born in that region. He succeeded in converting the inhabitants of Limoges to the true Faith, and his memory has always been venerated there.
Very early, the popular imagination, which so easily creates legends, transformed Martial into an apostle of the first century. Sent into Gaul by St. Peter himself he is said to have evangelized not only the Province of Limoges but all Aquitaine. He performed many miracles, among others the raising of a dead man to life, by touching him with a rod that St. Peter had given him. A "Life of St. Martial" attributed to Bishop Aurelian, his successor, in reality the work of an eleventh-century forger, develops this legendary account. According to it Martial was born in Palestine, was one of the seventy-two disciples of Christ, assisted at the resurrection of Lazarus, was at the Last Supper, was baptized by St. Peter, etc.
This tissue of fables which fills long pages was received with favour not only by the unlettered but also by the learned of past centuries and even of modern times. For a long time however it has been exposed to well-warranted discussion that St. Martial's biography is linked with the great question of the apostolicity of certain Churches of Gaul. As to what concerns St. Martial, it has been clearly proved that we must honour in him not one of the seventy-two disciples of Christ but the first preacher of the Christian faith in the Province of Limoges, and that we should not go beyond this. Mgr Buissas, Bishop of Limoges, having petitioned the Holy See in 1853 that the most ancient of his predecessors should not be deprived of the honours so long accorded him as one of the seventy-two disciples of Christ, the Sacred Congregation, unanimously on 8 April, 1854 and Pius IX in his decree of 8 May following, refused absolutely to bestow on St. Martial the title of disciple of Christ and confined themselves to saying that the veneration that was accorded him was of very ancient origin. Two Epistles inserted in the Bibliotheca Patrum are attributed to St. Martial, but they are apocryphal.
The Monk Peter, Tsarevich of the Horde, was the nephew of khan Bergai of the Golden Horde. In the year 1253 Sainted Kirill, Bishop of Rostov (Comm. 21 May), went to the Horde to petition for church needs in his diocese and he told the khan about the miracles, worked by the relics of Sainted Leontii (Comm. 23 May). Among the retinue was the young nephew of the khan, upon whom the sainted-bishop made a very strong impression. After some length of time the son of Bergai fell ill. Remembering the account of the Russian bishop about the healings, he summoned Sainted Kirill, and through his prayers the sick one was healed. The khan richly rewarded Saint Kirill and sent him off to his diocese. Along the way the lad, the nephew of khan Bergai, overtook the sainted-bishop, and entreated him to take him along to Rostov. At Rostov the lad was baptised with the name Peter and he married. Saint Peter distinguished himself with a love for silence, Divine-meditation and prayer. After a miraculous appearance to him of the Apostles Peter and Paul he built near Lake Nera a monastery in their honour. After the death of his spouse, shortly before his own death, the saint accepted monasticism at the monastery founded by him.
The Monk Peter died in extreme old age in the year 1290.
The veneration of the monastic tsarevich Peter began in the XIV Century. A general celebration was established at the Sobor (Council) of 1547.
Sainted Sophronii, Bishop of Irkutsk and All Siberia, expired to God on 30 March 1771, the second day of Holy Pascha. While they awaited a decision of the Holy Synod concerning the burial, his body remained for six months uncommitted to earth and during this time it was not subject to decay. Then already, in view of this circumstance, and also knowing about the strict ascetic life of Saint Sophronii, the flock began to venerate him as a saint of God. Frequently (in 1833, 1854, 1870, 1909) his relics were witnessed as undecayed and the source of grace-bearing wonderworkings. A fire occurring on 18 April 1917 at the Theophany Cathedral at Irkutsk left only the bones of the sainted-bishop, but it did not diminish, but rather on the contrary, it increased the reverent veneration of the saint by the faithful of the nation.
A local Sobor (Council) of the Russian Orthodox Church in its deliberations of 10/23 April 1918 decreed to make a glorification of Sainted Sophronii, enumerating him among the rank of the holy saints of God. This solemnity of enumerating Sainted Sophronii to the list of the saints was done on 30 June. At a second session of this Sobor under the presiding of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon [now Sainted Tikhon] was sanctioned a Service to Sainted Sophronii with a tropar, compiled by Archbishop John who at that time guided the Irkutsk diocese, so that all believers would have the possibility of adding prayer to the holy saint into the voice of the Siberian churches, deeply venerating the memory of their illuminator and intercessor.
And at the present time believers turn for help to Sainted Sophronii. Prayers witness to this, having been composed on the day of the 40th year celebration of the glorification of the sainted-bishop on 13 July 1958, by Metropolitan Nestor (Anisimov), -- then Metropolitan of Novosibirsk and Barnaul'sk, and a solemn feast of the 200 year anniversary of the day of death of Sainted Sophronii took place at the Zolotonoshsk Krasnogorsk women's monastery and in the Irkutsk diocese ("Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate", 1971, No. 9), and there is reverent veneration of his memory by all believers of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Martyr Michael the Gardener suffered under the Turks for confessing the Christian faith at Athens in the year 1770.