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MARCH

Click on the Numbers below to Read the Lives of the Saints for each Date

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March 1

The Holy Monastic Martyress Eudocia

The Holy Monastic Martyress Eudocia was a Samaritan, a native of the city of Iliopolis in Phoenician Lebanon. Her pagan impiety took her off the good path, and for a long time she led a sinful life. Her soul was deadened and her heart hardened.

One time at midnight Eudocia awoke and heard from beyond the wall in the other half of the house, where there lived a Christian, the singing of a molieben and reading of Holy Scripture, in which it spoke about the eternal bliss prepared for the righteous, and about the punishment awaiting sinners. The grace of God touched the heart of Eudocia, and she realised, that these results of her sin lay grievously upon her soul.

In the morning Eudocia hastened to call on the man, whose rule of prayer she heard by night. This was the elder named Germanos, returning from pilgrimage along the holy places to his own monastery. Eudocia listened for a long time to the guidance of the elder, and her soul as it were came alive and she was filled with joy and love for Christ. She besought the elder Germanos to come to her after several days, during which she secluded herself within the house and gave herself over in repentance to fasting and prayer.

The elder Germanos summoned a presbyter, and after the testing of being a catechumen Eudocia received holy Baptism from the bishop of Iliopolis, Theodotos. Having given away all her wealth to the poor, she withdrew into a monastery and took upon herself very strict acts of penitence. The Lord granted forgiveness to the penitent sinner and endowed her with graced spiritual gifts.

One time, when she was already head of the monastery, the young pagan Philostrates appeared at the monastery. Aflame with impious passion, he under the guise of a monk came into the monastery and began to urge the Nun Eudocia to return to Iliopolis, and begin anew her former life. "May God in revenge stop thee", -- angrily answered Eudocia, and the impostor-monk fell down dead. Fearing that in this she had served as an accomplice to murder, the sisters intensified their prayer and besought the Lord to reveal to them His will.

The Lord Himself appeared to Saint Eudocia in a dream vision and said: "Rise up, Eudocia, and get down on the knees and pray, and thy tempter wilt arise". And through the prayer of Eudocia, Philostrates revived. Having been restored to life, the pagan besought the nun to forgive him. And having accepted holy Baptism, he withdrew into Iliopolis. And from that time he never forgot the mercy of God shown him, and he started onto the way of repentance.

A certain while passed, when another situation occurred. Inhabitants of Iliopolis reported to the governor named Aurelian, that in accepting Christianity Eudocia allegedly had concealed her wealth at the monastery. Aurelian sent a detachment of soldiers to confiscate these supposed treasures. But over the course of three days the soldiers tired in vain to get close to the walls of the monastery: an invisible power of God guarded it. Aurelian again sent soldiers to the monastery, this time under the lead of his own son. But on the very first day of the journey the son of Aurelian badly injured his leg and soon died. Then Philostrates counseled Aurelian to write to the Nun Eudocia, imploring her to revive the youth. And the Lord, by His infinite mercy, and through the prayers of Saint Eudocia, restored the youth to life. Having witnessed this great miracle, Aurelian and his close associates believed in Christ and were baptised.

When persecutions against Christians intensified, they arrested the Nun Eudocia and brought her for torture to the governor Diogenes. The military-commander Diodoros torturing her received news about the sudden death of his wife Firminia. In despair he rushed to Saint Eudocia with a plea to pray for his departed wife. The monastic-martyress, filled with great faith, turned to God with prayer and besought of Him the return of Firminia to life. Becoming convinced as eye-witnesses to the power and grace of the Lord, Diodoros and Diogenes believed in Christ and after a certain while were baptised together with their families. The Nun Eudocia lived for awhile at the house of Diodoros and enlightened the newly-illumined Christians.

One time the only son of a certain widow, working in the garden, was bitten by a snake and died. The mother bitterly bewailed her dead son. Having learned of her grief, Saint Eudocia said to Diodoros: "The time is at hand for thee to show faith in the Almighty God, Who heareth the prayers of penitent sinners and by His mercy doth grant them forgiveness".

Diodoros was distressed, not considering himself worthy of such boldness before the Lord, but he obeyed Saint Eudocia. He prayed and by the Name of Christ he commanded the dead one to rise, and before the eyes of everyone present the youth revived.

The Nun Eudocia returned to her monastery, in which she pursued asceticism for 56 years.

After the death of Diogenes the new governor was Vicentius, a fierce persecutor of Christians. Having learned of the fearless confessor of the Christian faith, he gave orders to execute her. The holy nun-martyress was beheaded on 1 March (c. 160-170).

The Monk Martyrii of Zelenetsk

The Monk Martyrii of Zelenetsk, in the world Mina, hailed form the city of Velikie Luki. His parents, Kozma and Stefanida, died when he was but ten years old. He was raised by his spiritual father, a priest of the city's Annunciation church, and the lad all more and more became attached in soul to God.

Having become a widower, his guardian accepted monasticism with the name Bogolep at the Velikoluksk Trinity-Sergeev monastery. Mina often visited with him at the monastery, and later on he himself accepted monastic vows there taking the name Martyrii. For seven years teacher and student toiled for the Lord unrelentingly in a single cell, encouraging each other in deeds of work and prayer. The Monk Martyrii bore the obediences of "kellarios" (food-cellarer), treasurer, and "ponomar" (or "ponomonarion", -- church-candler and altar-helper).

It was at this time that the Mother of God first shew Her especial solicitude for the Monk Martyrii. At mid-day he dozed off on a bell-tower and beheld on a fiery column an image of the Hodegetria MostHoly Mother of God. The monk with trembling gave kiss to it, still hot from the fiery column, and having awakened, he still sensed this heat on his forehead.

On the spiritual advise of the Monk Martyrii, the grievously ill monk Avramii went in veneration to the wonderworking Tikhvinsk Icon of the Mother of God, and he received healing. The Monk Martyrii was filled with intense faith in the intercession of the Mother of God. He began to pray the Heavenly Queen, that She would show whither he might shelter himself for going through the ascetic feat of complete silence, for which his soul did yearn. The monk secretly withdrew into a desolate place situated 60 versts from Velikie Luki. As the monk himself writes in his jottings, "in this wilderness I received great frights from demons, but I prayed God, and the demons were shamed". In a letter to the starets Bogolep, the monk besought blessing for wilderness life, but the spiritual father advised him to return to the monastic common-life, where he would be of use to the brethren. Not daring to be disobedient and not knowing, how to proceed, Saint Martyrii set out to Smolensk for veneration to the wonderworking Hodegetria (Way-Guide) Icon of the Mother of God and to the Wonderworker Avraamii (Abraham, Comm. 21 August). At Smolensk there appeared to the saint in a dream-vision the Monks Avraami and Ephrem, and they reassured him with the saying, that by the Lord it would be allotted him to live in the wilderness, "where God would bless and the MostHoly Mother of God would guide".

The monk thereupon set out to the Tikhvinsk monastery hoping, that there the Mother of God would resolve his dilemma. And actually, the monk Avramii, who in gratitude to the Mother of God for his healing remained at this monastery, told Saint Martyrii about a secret place, over which for him there was a vision of the radiant Cross of the Lord. Having received this time the blessing of the elder, the Monk Martyrii took with him two small, equally sized icons -- the one of the Life-Originating Trinity and the other of the Tikhvinsk MostHoly Mother of God; he set out to the wilderness place, named Zelena (Green), since it rose up as a beautiful green island amidst a forested swamp.

Harsh and with much sickness was the life of the monk in the wilderness, but neither cold, nor deprivation, nor wild beasts, nor the wiles of the enemy were able to shake his resolve to undergo the temptation to the end. He set up an oratory place for prayer of thanks and glorification of the Lord and the MostHoly Mother of God, in which again he was granted to see in sleep an image of the Mother of God, this time -- sailing on the sea. To the right of the icon appeared the Archangel Gabriel and summoned the monk to kiss the image. After his trembling the Monk Martyrii went into the water, and the icon began to sink in the sea. The monk then cried out, and a wave carried him from the image to shore.

The wilderness was sanctified by the life of the hermit, and at it there began to arrive many, not only for instruction by the word and example of the monk, but also for settling down there together with him. The increased brotherhood of students prompted the monk to build a church in the Name of the Life-Originating Trinity, wherein he set his own prayer icons. In witness to the grace of God resting upon the monastery of the Monk Martyrii, the Monk Gurii was vouchsafed to see over the cross atop the church -- the Cross radiant in the heavens.

Thus occurred the beginning of the Trinity Zelenetsk monastery -- "the Martyriev Green wilderness-monastery". The Lord blessed the labour of the monk, and the grace of God shone visibly upon him himself. There spread afar the fame of his perspicacity and gift of healing. Many eminent people of Novgorod began to send gifts to the monastery. On the means provided by the pious boyar-noble Feodor Syrkov an heated church was built, consecrated in honour of the Annunciation of the MostHoly Mother of God in memory of the first church at Velikie Luki, from whence the lad had begun his path to God.

From the Mother of God the monk continued to receive gracious invigoration. One time in an exquisite dream the Mother of God Herself appeared to him in his cell, at the icon-shelf whereupon stood the icons. "I glanced, not looking away, upon Her holy face, upon the eyes, filled with tears, ready to trickle upon Her all-pure face. I awoke from the dream and was in fright. Lighting a candle from the lampada, so as to look -- did the MostPure Virgin indeed sit at the place, where I saw Her in the dream. I went up to the image of the Hodegetria and was convinced, that in truth the Mother of God in that image appeared to me, as She is depicted on my icon", -- reminisced the monk.

Soon after this (about the year 1570) the Monk Martyrii was ordained priest at Novgorod by the archbishop (Alexander or Leonid). It is known, that in 1582 he was already hegumen.

Later on the Lord granted the Zelena wilderness-monastery still greater charitable bestowal of wealth. In 1595 at Tver' Saint Martyrii healed the dying son of the former Kasimovsk ruler Simeon Bekbulatovich, praying in front of his own icons of the Life-Originating Trinity and the Tikhvinsk Mother of God, and then placing the image of the MostHoly Mother of God upon the chest of the sick one. By way of gratitude from Simeon there was built a church in honour of the Tikhvinsk Icon of the Mother of God and of Sainted John Chrysostom -- the Heavenly patron-saint of the healed ruler's son John.

In 1595 tsar Feodor Ioannovich gave the monastery a grant of endowment, in furtherment of the monastery founded by the monk.

Having reached extreme old age and preparing for death, the Monk Martyrii dug out a grave for himself, set in it a coffin fashioned by his own hands, and there much wept. Sensing his imminent departure, the monk convened the brethren and besought his children in the Lord to have steadfast hope in the MostHoly Life-Originating Trinity and to trust implicitly on the Mother of God, as he himself had always trusted on Her. Having communed the Holy Mysteries of Christ, he gave the brethren blessing with the words: "Peace to all the Orthodox", -- and in spiritual happiness he reposed in the Lord on 1 March 1603.

The monk was buried in the grave dug out by him near the church of the Mother of God, and later on his holy relics rested beneathe a crypt in the church of the MostHoly Trinity, beneathe the under-temple in honour of Saint John the Theologian. A former monk of the Zelenetsk monastery, later on Metropolitan of Kazan and Novgorod Kornilii (+ 1698), compiled a service and wrote down the life of the Monk Martyrii, making use of personal notes and the testament of the monk.

The memory of the Monk Martryrii of Zelenetsk and Velikoluksk is celebrated also on 11 November.

The Holy Martyress Antonina

The Holy Martyress Antonina suffered at Nicea during a time of persecution under the emperor Maximian (284-305). After fierce tortures, Saint Antonina was thrown into prison. But in no way could Maximian compel the saint to renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to idols. Angels of God appeared to the holy martyress and the executioners took fright. And even when they placed the martyress in Christ on a red-hot cot, Saint Antonina by the power of God remained unharmed. Finally, after long torture they tied the saint into a sack and sunk it in a lake. And soon thereafter she was glorified in the rank of the saints.





The Holy Martyrs Nestor and Tribimios

The Holy Martyrs Nestor and Tribimios were native to the Asia Minor district of Pamphylia. During a time of persecution by the impious emperor Decius (249-251) they fearlessly preached about Christ. When the saints were brought before the pagan court, the governor gave orders to lay out afront them all sorts of instruments of torture, to frighten them and impel them to renounce the Christian faith. The saints answered to all the threats, that no one could separate them from Christ. The angered judge gave orders to torture them with the instruments of torture. They scourged the holy martyrs with dried ox thongs, suspended them from a tree and flayed at their bodies, but Saints Nestor and Tribimios did not cease to glorify the Lord and, when they were beheaded, they inherited the Heavenly Kingdom.

The Nun Domnina of Syria

The Nun Domnina of Syria was a disciple of Saint Maron (Comm. 14 February). In her mother's garden the nun built herself an hut, covered it with straw, and asceticised in it, taking as food only lentils soaked in water. Each morning and evening the nun went to church, covered in a veil so that no one ever saw her face. The voice of the nun, in the words of her biographer Blessed Theodorit, was "resonant and expressive, and her words always accompanied by tears". The holy ascetic peacefully expired to the Lord in about the years 450-460.


St. David, Patron Saint of Wales

Our father among the saints David of Wales (ca. 512-587), known in Welsh as Dewi Sant, was a 6th century bishop and monastic founder in Wales and is its patron saint. He is also known as the Dewi Ddyfrwr (David the Water Drinker) due to his drinking only water and the founding of many holy wells associated with his life.

David was born on a stormy night at or near Capel Non (Non's chapel) within a short walk of the present day city of Saint David's. The ruins of the medieval chapel are visible near the site, and a nearby well is still a site of pilgrimage. He was baptised by the Irish monk St. Elvis, and educated at the monastery of Hen Fynyw. After ordination, David was taught by the elderly monk Paulinus, whose blindness the young David healed by making the sign of the cross over the monk's eyelids.

He became renowned as a teacher and preacher, founding monasteries in Britain and Brittany (on the west coast of modern France), in a period when neighbouring tribal regions (that were to be united as England three hundred years later) were still mostly pagan. He rose to a bishopric, and presided over two synods, as well as going on pilgrimages to Jerusalem where he was anointed as a bishop by the patriarch.

St. David's Cathedral now stands on the site of the monastery he founded in southwest Pembrokeshire; in early medieval Britain this part of Wales was located near several important Celtic sea routes, and was not nearly as remote as it might seem today. A shrine to Saint David, containing his bones, the bones of his spiritual father Saint Justinian of Ramsey Island, and possibly those of Saint Caradoc, is located within the cathedral.

The Monastic Rule of David prescribed that monks had to pull the plow themselves without draught animals; to drink only water; to eat only bread with salt and herbs; and to spend the evenings in prayer, reading and writing. No personal possessions were allowed: to say "my book" was an offence. He taught his followers to fast, especially refraining from eating meat or imbibing alcohol. His symbol, also the symbol of Wales, is the leek.

The best-known miracle associated with St. David is said to have taken place on an occasion when he was preaching in the middle of a large crowd. When those at the back complained that they could not see or hear him, the ground on which he stood is reputed to have risen up to form a small hill so that everyone had a good view. The village which is said to stand on the spot today is known as Llanddewi Brefi. A more mundane version of this story is that he simply recommended that the synod participants move to the hilltop.

His last words, according to the Buchedd Dewi, were: "Be steadfast, brothers, and do the little things."

The Monk Agapios

The Monk Agapios, a novice-obedient of an elder of silence at the former Batopedeia skete-monastery Kalitsa, was taken into captivity by Turks that had landed on the shore of Athos, and from there taken him to Magnezia and there he worked in chains for 12 years. But he did not lose hope for freedom and fervently he prayed to the Mother of God. One time the Heavenly Mediatrix manifested Her Mercy to the patient sufferer -- in sleep She ordered him "without fear to go to his elder". It turned out, that in reality he had become free of his bounds. Without hindrance the Monk Agapios departed from his master and returned to Holy Mount Athos. But his demanding guide, testing the humility of the novice, in having been liberated so miraculously, and wanting still more to intensify within him faith in the almighty Providence of God, counseled him to return and serve the Turks until such time, as God Himself would have the master in a state of mind to set free the captive. Saint Agapios returned without complaint into servitude. Struck by such humility in a Christian and by his great faith, the master with joy not only set free the Monk Agapios, but also he himself with two of his sons departed with him to the Holy Mountain, and there he was baptised and accepted monasticism and asceticised until his very end.

March 2

The Priest Martyr Theodotos

The Priest Martyr Theodotos, a native of Galatia in Asia Minor, was bishop of the city of Kyreneia in Cyprus. During a time of persecution against christians under the impious emperor Licinius (307-324), Saint Theodotos openly preached Christ, calling on the pagans to abandon idol-worship and turn to the True God. The governor of Cyprus Sabinus gave orders to arrest and bring bishop Theodotos to trial. Having found out about this order, the saint did not wait for the soldiers sent after him, but instead immediately went to the governor with the words: "I am here, whom thou seekest; I have shown myself, so as to preach Christ my God". The governor gave orders for the saint to be beaten without mercy, hung up upon a tree and be dealt with by sharp implements, and then be taken to prison. After five days Saint Theodotos was again brought to the governor, who presumed that the bishop would prefer after his tortures to renounce Christ, rather than endure new sufferings. But Saint Theodotos did not cease to preach about Christ. At first they put the saint on an iron grate, under which they set a bon-fire, and then hammered nails into his feet and let him go. Many witnessed the sufferings of the martyr: astonished at the endurance of the saint and his Divinely-inspired speaking, they came to believe in Christ. Learning of this, Sabinus gave orders to stop the torture and lock up the saint in prison. During the time of Saint Constantine the Great (Comm. 21 May), the freedom to confess their faith was given to all christians, and among the sufferers set free from prison was also Saint Theodotos. The saint returned to Kyreneia and after two years serving as bishop he peacefully expired to the Lord in about the year 326.

Agathon of Egypt

The Monk Agathon of Egypt, a contemporary of the Monk Makarios the Great (Comm. 19 January), pursued asceticism in a skete monastery in Egypt. He was distinguished by an especial meekness, accounting himself most sinful among men. One time monks from afar came to the monk Agathon for spiritual talk and asked him: "Art thou Father Agathon?" "Ye see before you a sinful servant of God", -- answered the monk. "It is rumoured, that thou art a man proud and intemperate", -- replied the monks. "Completely true", agreed the saint. "We have heard also, that thou art a liar that loveth to gossip about others". "This also is true", -- assented Saint Agathon. "They say moreover, that thou art an heretic?" -- the monks persisted, but immediately they met with an objection: "In vain, I am not an heretic". When they asked the monk why, having accepted upon himself other vices, that he refused this last one, the saint explained: "These vices it is impossible not to ascribe to myself, since every man by his nature falls into sin, and all of us, through the corruption of our nature, are involuntarily captivated by vices; but heresy is apostacy from God, a deliberate renunciation of the True God".

To the question about which ascetic deeds are more important for salvation, the external or the inner, the monk Agathon answered: "A man is like a tree; the outer or bodily concerns itself with leaves, whereas the inner soul grows fruit. But just as Holy Scripture asserts, that "every tree which does not bear good fruit, shalt be cut down and thrown into the fire" (Mt 3: 10), so then it is evident from this, that the greater attention ought to concern the fruit. But a tree also has need for its leaves, so as to sustain the life-bearing sap and by the shade of its leaves offer protection to the tree and its fruit from the desiccating heat".

The monk Agathon died in about the year 435. For three days before his end the monk sat in silence and concentration, as though disturbed about something. To the perplexed questioning of the monks he answered, that he saw himself at the Judgement in front of Christ. "How is it possible that thou, father, should fear judgement?" -- they asked him. "I through my strength have kept the commandments of the Lord, but as a man how might I be certain, that my deeds have been pleasing to God?". "Dost thou not trust that thy good deeds which thou hast accomplished, are pleasing to God?" -- asked the monks. "I have no hope until such time as I see God. Human judgement is one thing, but Divine judgement is another matter". Having said this, the saint expired to the Lord.

Sainted Arsenii, Bishop of Tver'

Sainted Arsenii, Bishop of Tver', was born at Tver', and in his early years took monastic vows in the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. Even among the monks of this ancient monastery, distinguished for their piety, Arsenii was noted for his saintly life -- a strict keeping of the monastic vows, a knowledge of the Church ustav, the study of Holy Scripture, and a love for work. Under the Kiev metropolitan Kyprian (1380-1382) he served as archdeacon, and during times of the metropolitan's absence he governed the working of the Kiev metropolitanate. On 3 July 1390 he went together with Metropolitan Kyprian to Tver', where at the request of the Tver' prince Mikhail Aleksandrovich there had been convened a Sobor of Russian and Greek hierarchs for judgement upon the Tver' bishop Evphymii. The prince and the bishop were in a lengthy quarrel, and many of the Tver' people had serious accusations against the Tver' bishop. After unsuccessful attempts to restore peace to the Tver' church, Metropolitan Kyprian "removed from the episcopacy" Evphymii and sent him off to Moscow to the Chudov monastery. Saint Arsenii was appointed to the Tver' cathedra. But he, "fearful to accept the authority at Tver', in view of the much enmity and spite there, was both troubled and terrified". Upon the return of Metropolitan Kyprian and archdeacon Arsenii to Moscow, the Tver' prince sent his boyars with a petition to the metropolitan concerning ordination of Arsenii to the Tver' cathedra. This time also Arsenii was not agreeable. In the words of the chronicle for the year 1390 "hardly even by the metropolitan's entreaty would archdeacon Arsenii be at Tver'". Under the threat of cathedral suspension metropolitan and prince finally received his assent to the ordination, which was done 15 August 1390. Among the bishops taking part in the laying on of hands was Sainted Stephen, Bishop of Perm (Comm. 26 April).

Having come upon the cathedra, Bishop Arsenii, as a man of great prayer and peace-maker, was able to stop much of the discord in the Tver' principality. During his episcopacy, from 1390 to 1409, there were built and consecrated cathedrals in honour of the Archangel Michael at Staritsa and Mikulina, and the Saviour-Transfiguration cathedral was restored with the putting up of a cathedral bell-tower. The saint founded on the river T'maka near Tver' the Zheltikov monastery, where in similitude to the Kievo-Pechersk monastery was built a church in the names of the Monks Antonii and Theodosii of Pechersk (1394), and a stone Uspenie cathedral.

Desiring that the monks of this new monastery would always take edification from the asceticism of the Pechersk Fathers, Sainted Arsenii gave orders to compile a list from the Kievo-Pechersk Paterikon, offering the most ancient of redactions surviving into the present of this precious memorial of Russian literature, and receiving the name of the Arsen'ev Redaction.

The saint died on 2 March 1409, and was buried in the Zheltikov monastery of the Uspenie / Dormition of the MostHoly Mother of God, which he founded. In 1483 his relics were found undecayed and placed in the monastery cathedral. In the same year priest-monk Feodosii wrote the Life and a Kanon of the Sainted-bishop. At a Sobor of 1547 was established the celebration of Sainted Arsenii throughout all the Church.

Varsonophii and Savva of Tver'

The Monks Varsonophii and Savva of Tver' were hegumens of the Savvino Sretenie / Visitation monastery, organised in the year 1397 not far from Tver'. The Savvino monastery was known as such from the name of its founder or for the church in the name of the Monk Savva the Sanctified, and Sretensk -- for the chief temple of the monastery -- named for the Sretenie / Meeting of the Lord.

The monk Varsonophii, older brother of Blessed Savva, was made head of the monastery by the Monk-hegumen Savva of Vishersk (Comm. 1 October), who set off on pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain. After five years of monastic rule the monk Varsonophii set off into the wilderness, having transferred the hegumenate to his brother the monk Savva; -- he commanded him to accept the priestly dignity, since "he was pure as from his mother's womb and worthy of such grace". The monk Varsonophii dwelt for forty years in solitude and "during all these years, -- testifies the Monk Joseph of Volokolamsk, -- he did nothing else than to pray, to sing and to read books. He took books about the love of Christ and after reading he returned them or took them to another place. The blessed one had nothing, not even coppers of money, since he loved poverty and non-covetousness. After long attentiveness to self, and by silence, prayer, and the reading of holy books -- he was vouchsafed such grace, that he memorised all the Holy Scripture by heart and freely communicated it upon demand. There came to him from everywhere many monks and worldly people of noble birth, some for the good of their soul, others -- needing an explanation from something in Scripture. Even the Metropolitan of All Russia Photii at times sent off to him a request to furnish explanation to some misunderstood saying of Holy Scripture, about which there was some dispute".

It happened, that when one of the brethren was seduced by the devil he decided to snatch books from the monk's cell, and he fell down dead on the pathway with the books on his bosom. Only by the grace of the prayers of Saint Varsonophii was the unfortunate one resuscitated, and afterwards until the end of his days he worthily pursued asceticism in the monastery.

Having attained to an extreme old age, the monk Varsonophii returned to the monastery and to his brother the monk Savva. The Monk Joseph of Volokolamsk (Comm. 9 September) witnesses to the spiritual strictness of the monk Savva: "We have beheld blessed Savva, who headed the Savvino monastery in the vicinity of Tver' for more than 50 years. He so concerned himself about his flock, that he stood always at the church doors with staff in hand. If some one of the brethren did not come to church for the beginning of the service, or left before the dismissal, or chatted during the time of singing, or flittered about from his own place to another, then the monk Savva would not remain silent about it, but rather prohibited it, such that he did not let the matter drop without concern even in the small short-comings... When it was necessary, he would be strict, and when there was need, he would be kindly". During the time of a terrible epidemic in these years it happened that at the monastery all the other priests died. The monk Savva made visits, heard confessions, communed the sick and himself buried the dead. Therein was manifest the great strength of grace of the holy ascetic. In the words of the monk Joseph, "when blessed Savva was visiting the sick and hearing confession, one of the brethren came and said, that someone was dying and needed to confess, the blessed one answered: go, brother, and tell the dying that he shall not die but rather wait for my visit. And just as the brother told this to the dying one, he stood up all better; when however Blessed Savva gave him the Holy Mysteries of Christ, then the brother died. And this happened not once or twice, but a number of times".

"When Blessed Savva and saint Varsonophii were alive, -- relates the monk Joseph of Volotsk, -- in the monastery under their guidance all was decorum, quiet and peaceful. If someone showed himself to be stubborn or ill-tempered, they would not permit him to have his way. When Blessed Savva died, Saint Varsonophii and the other fathers -- zealous to preserve the traditions of the fathers -- selected an hegumen from another monastery, and this one started to live not according to the ustav / rule of this monastery and not according to the tradition of these holy elders: their tradition was such, that no one either ate or drank differently from the common refectory, that no one would leave the monastery without blessing, that young lads would not live in cells or in the courtyard, and that women would not enter the monastery. And in general this was observed throughout the place according to the ustav. But the new hegumen, having come from elsewhere, made a mess of all this and passed it by without concern. Some while later Saint Savva appeared to him in a dream and said: "Wretch! Why art thou not in the least concerned about the monastery's welfare and piety, but rather neglectful and disregarding of this?" And his staff was enough, such that this one was not able to rise up from his bed. When he recovered and set straight the mess, then already he no longer smiled to govern the monastery, and soon he returned thither from whence he had come". Thus even after his death the monk Savva watched over his monastery. The monk Savva died in about the year 1467, somewhat earlier than his saintly brother.

The Holy Martyress Euthalia

The Holy Martyress Euthalia lived with her mother and brother in the city of Leontina on the island of Sicily. The mother of Euthalia, a pagan, was grievously ill a long while. One time there appeared to her in a dream the Martyrs Alphius, Philadelphus and Cyprian (Comm. 10 May) who told her she would be healed if she believed in Christ. Accepting Baptism together with her daughter, the mother was healed from her infirmity. But Euthalia's pagan brother Sirmianus, having learned of the baptising of his kin, went into a violent rage. The mother succeeded in fleeing, but Saint Euthalia confessed herself a Christian and accepted a martyr's death. After fiercesome torture the saint was beheaded with a sword.



The Monk Evphrosyn

The Monk Evphrosyn was a student and the successor to the Monk Savvatii in governing the Savvat'ev wilderness monastery. During his time as hegumen there came to the monastery the Monk Joseph of Volotsk, who wrote about his visit as follows: "I beheld in the Savvat'ev wilderness an holy hermit-elder, by the name of Evphrosyn. He was born of the princes of Teprinsk. He dwelt precariously in the wilderness for 60 years. Many monks came to him for advice, as well as princes and boyars / nobles, disrupting his silence. He then fled human conversation to Great Novgorod, to lake Nevo (Ladozhskoe or Ladoga), found an island and dwelt there for several years. The surrounding inhabitants, hearing about the ascetic, began to throng to him with their wives and children, and he was again obliged to hide himself, just as at the Savvat'ev wilderness. The ruler of this land -- prince Boris Aleksandrovich -- sent his own daughter to him, then betrothed to marry GreatPrince Ivan Vasil'evich. With her came archimandrites, hegumens and boyars, and they began to ask of blessed Evphrosyn that he help the maiden: she was very sickly, and they brought her to blessed Evphrosyn in the wilderness by carrying her. He refused them, calling himself a sinner and unworthy. They entreated the saint with tears, saying: "If she remains alive through thy prayers, then thou wilt bring peace, father, to two principalities".

Seeing that the maiden had fallen into a serious illness, the monk Evphrosyn gave orders for her to be taken to church, and he himself began to pray with tears and sobbing in front of the icon of the MostHoly Mother of God. Then he commanded to be sung a molieben to the MostHoly Mother of God and to the great Wonderworker Nicholas. When the molieben was finished, the maiden opened up her eyes and sat; those carrying her raised her up healthy and that very day notified her father, who praised God "for having bestown grace through His servants". The Monk Evphrosyn died peacefully in about the year 1460.

The Holy Martyr Troades

The Holy Martyr Troades suffered for Christ in Pontine Neocaesarea under the emperor Decius (249-251), having endured terrible tortures. Saint Gregory of Neocaesarea (Comm. 17 November) witnessed his sufferings, having foretold his martyr's exploit.

Italian Martyrs

Italian Martyrs -- 440 Men -- refused to participate in idol-worship and were hewn apart by the Langobardi / Lombards (a Germanic tribe) in the year 579. Among those that perished, there are known by name the presbyter Sanctulus and the hermit Hospicius.

The Monk Savvatii of Tver'

The Monk Savvatii of Tver' pursued asceticism with the blessing of Sainted Arsenii, Bishop of Tver', at a distance 15 versts from Tver'. The monk Savvatii established a monastery there, known for the strictness and holiness of its rule. To it came to learn monastic activity such ascetics as the Monk Joseph of Volotsk (Comm. 9 September) and the Monk Kornilii of Komel'sk (Comm. 19 May). The chains, found in the cave where Saint Savvatii practised silence, testify to his ascetic deeds. He died not later than the year 1434.

March 3

The Holy Martyrs Eutropios, Kleonikos and Basiliskos

The Holy Martyrs Eutropios, Kleonikos and Basiliskos suffered in the city of Pontine Amasia (Asia Minor) in about the year 308.

The brothers Eutropios and Kleonikos, and Basiliskos the nephew of the GreatMartyr Theodore of Tyre (Comm. 17 February), were comrades. After the martyr's death of Saint Theodore, they wound up in prison and by their preaching brought to the Christian faith many of the pagans located in prison with them.

When he tortured Saint Theodore, Publius perished shamefully, struck down by Divine wrath. Asclepiodotos was chosen governor of Pontine Amasia, and did not bend from the fierceness of his predecessor. Knowing the comrades of the martyr Theodore of Tyre were still all in prison, the governor commanded that they be brought to him. Saints Eutropios, Kleonikos and Basiliskos thus firmly confessed their faith in Christ in front of this new governor. They were mercilessly beaten, such that their bodies became entirely bruised. At the time of torture Saint Eutropios prayed loudly to the Saviour: "Grant us, O Lord, to endure the making of these wounds for the sake of the crown of martyrdom, and come in help to us, like as Thou camest to Thy servant Theodore". In answer to this prayer of the saint, there appeared to the martyrs the Lord Himself with Angels and together with them the holy GreatMartyr Theodore of Tyre, saying to them: "Behold, the Saviour is come in help to you, that ye may know about life eternal".

Soldiers and many of the people standing nearby were also granted to behold the Saviour. They began to urge Asclepiodotos to halt the tortures. Seeing, that the people were distraught and ready to believe in the True God, the governor commanded the martyrs to be taken away. The governor then invited Saint Eutropios to him at supper and urged him to publicly offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, yet remain a Christian in soul.

But Eutropios refused this offer.

On the following day they brought the martyrs to a pagan temple, so as to compel them by force to offer sacrifice. Eutropios thereupon began to entreat the Saviour: "Lord, be with us, and destroy the raging of the pagans. Grant, that on this place be offered a Christian Bloodless Sacrifice unto Thee, the True God". These last words of prayer had only just been spoken, when there began an earthquake, the walls of the temple began to collapse, and with them was smashed also the statue of the goddess Artemis. Everyone fled from the temple so as not to be crushed amidst the rubble. Amidst the noise of the earthquake was heard a voice from on high: "Your prayer is heard, and on this place shalt be built an house for Christian prayer".

When the earthquake ended, the governor Asclepiodotos, barely just recovered from fright, gave orders to drive high wooden stakes into the ground, tie the martyrs to them and pour boiling tar over them. The saints began to pray to God, and Eutropios cried out turning to the torturers: "May the Lord turn your deed against you!" And the tar began to flow aside the bodies of the martyrs, like water with marble, scorching the torturers. Those seeing this fled in terror, but the governor in his bitterness gave orders to rend their bodies with iron hooks and to sting their wounds with mustard, mixed with salt and vinegar. The saints endured these torments with remarkable firmness.

The following night before execution the saints spent their time at prayer, and again the Lord appeared to them and strengthened them.

On the morning of 3 March, Saints Eutropios and Kleonikos were crucified, but Basiliskos was left in prison.

They executed Saint Basiliskos on 22 May in the city of Komana. They beheaded him, and threw his body into a river. But christians found his remains and buried them in a ploughed field. Later at Komana was built a church in the name of Saint Basiliskos.

The Monastic Piama

The Monastic Piama pursued asceticism not far from Alexandria. The saint lived in the home of her mother, as in an hermitage: she partook of food at the end of the day, and after prayer she spun flax. Saint Piama was vouchsafed to receive the gift of insight. When the people of a nearby more populous village, bedazzled with greed, were ready to destroy the small village of the holy maiden, in order to divert water only to their own fields at the time of the overflowing of the Nile, Saint Piama discerned in spirit about this wicked intent and explained it to the village elders. The startled elders fell on their knees to the saint, imploring her to go to the neighbouring people and dissuade them from their evil purpose. The monastic Piama did not go for a meeting, since for a long time she shunned contact with people. The saint spent all night at prayer, and in the morning the people of the neighbouring habitation, having armed themselves and set off for the village of the holy maiden, suddenly stopped still and were not able to proceed further. The Lord revealed to the impious, that the prayer of Saint Piama held them back. The people came to their senses and repented of their wicked intent. They sent messengers to the village with a request for peace and said: "Thanks be to God, Who through the prayers of the maiden Piama hath delivered us". The saint expired peacefully to the Lord in the year 337.

March 4

Prince Daniel (Daniil) of Moscow, The Wonder-Worker

Holy Nobleborn Prince Daniel (Daniil) of Moscow was born at Vladimir in the year 1261. He was the fourth son of Saint Alexander Nevsky (Comm. 30 August and 23 November) and Righteous Vassa. Two years after birth he lost his father. The date of his mother's repose is not indicated in the chronicles; it is known only, that she was buried in the church in honour of the Nativity of Christ at the Vladimir Uspenie monastery (the Princess monastery), and the people in the surroundings venerated her as "Righteous" ("Pravedna").

In 1272 holy Prince Daniel received as his allotted portion the city of Moscow with its adjacent lands. The holy prince built on the banks of the River Moskva (Moscow) a church (and alongside it a monastery) in honour of his same-name patron saint, the Monk Daniel the Pillar-Dweller (Comm. 11 December). The Moscow principality was during this period small and unobtrusive. While growing up, holy Prince Daniel strengthened and expanded it, not in manners unjust or coercive, but instead benevolent and peace-loving. In Rus' it was a time of unrest. Fratricidal strife amongst the appanage princes was rife. And often, thanks to holy Prince Daniel, and his incessant striving for unity and peace in the Russian Land, bloodshed was averted. In 1293 his brother, the Great-prince Alexander Alexandrovich, together with Tatars summoned from the Horde and headed by Diuden ("the Diudenev Host"), laid waste to Russian cities: Murom, Suzdal', Kolomna, Dmitrov, Mozhaisk, Tver'. Prince Daniel decided to adjoin them to Moscow, to save their people from perishing. There was not the strength for resistance. Together with his people, the prince braced himself for terrible destruction and pillaging. Standing up for his rights, Saint Daniel was compelled to come out against his brother near a place, called Yur'evo Tolchische ("Yur'evo Threshing-Mill"), but here also the yearning for peace won out in him, and bloodshed was averted.

In 1300, when the Ryazan prince Konstantin Romanovich, having summoned Tatars to his aid, was occupied in secret preparations for a sudden assault on the lands of the Moscow principality, Prince Daniel went with an army to Ryazan, and beating the enemy, he took captive Konstantin and destroyed a multitude of Tatars. This was a first victory over the Tatars, though not a tremendous victory, but it was noteworthy nonetheless -- as a first push towards freedom. Having beaten the Ryazan prince and scattered his confederates the Tatars, holy Prince Daniel did not take advantage of his victory to seize foreign lands or take booty, as was the accepted custom during these times, but rather he displayed an example of true non-covetousness, love and fraternity. The holy prince never resorted to arms to seize the lands of others, nor did he ever snatch away the property of other princes either by force or by treachery. And for this the Lord saw fit to expand the boundaries of his princely realm. Ioann Dimitrievich, prince of Pereslavl'-Zalessk, a nephew of Daniel, was gentle and pious and benevolent towards the poor, and he esteemed and loved his uncle; dying childless in 1302, he bequeathed his principality to Saint Daniel. The Pereslavlsk lands together with Dmitrov were, after Rostov, foremost in number of inhabitants, with corresponding fortification befitting a major city. Pereslavl'-Zalessk was well protected on all sides. But the holy prince remained faithful to Moscow and did not transfer the capital of his princedom to the stronger and more significant seat of the Pereslavl' of this period. This annexation moved Moscow up to be numbered as the most significant principality. And here was set in place the principle of the unification of the Russian Land into a single powerful realm.

How wondrous over the expanse of ages was clearly manifest the Providential Will of God concerning the Russian Land and its destiny!

Grateful in remembrance of the constant Blessing of the Hodegetria ("Way-Guide Mother of God) both in his personal life, and also in the life of the Russian realm, Saint Daniel's father -- Saint Alexander Nevsky, had expressed it in the words: "God is not in might, but in right!".

In 1303 Saint Daniel fell seriously ill. He assumed the monastic great-schema and commanded that he be buried at the Danilov monastery. Through deep humility he wanted to be buried not within the church, but in the common monastery cemetery. The holy prince died on 4 March.

Within the passage of less than 30 years after the repose of holy Prince Daniel, the Danilov monastery founded by him was transformed into the Moscow Kremlin, the church was transformed into a parish church, and the cemetery became non-monastic. During the time of Great-prince Ivan III (1462-1505), the Monk-prince Daniel gave reminders of himself to his forgetful descendents. As a stranger he appeared to a youth attendant on the great-prince and said: "Be not afraid of me -- I was a Christian and the master of this place, my name is Daniel Prince of Moscow, and by the will of God I am here. Tell about me to Great-prince Ioann (Ivan) saying: thou delightest thyself while yet having forgotten me, but God hath not forgotten me". And after this it was that the great-prince established the singing of cathedral panikhidas for his ancestral princes. During the time tsar Ivan the Terrible, at the grave of Saint Daniel was healed the dying son of a barge merchant. The tsar, struck by the miracle, renovated the ancient Danilov monastery and established a yearly church procession, made by the metropolitan to the place of burial of the holy prince, serving there a panikhida.

In 1652 holy Monk-prince Daniel was glorified with the uncovering of his incorrupt relics, which on 30 August were transferred to the church in honour of the Holy Fathers of the Seventh OEcumenical Council.

The holy relics were placed in a reliquary "to the glorifying of the Holy Trinity and for the healing of the infirm". The Moscow metropolitan Platon (+ 1812), in the Vita of the holy prince compiled by him, writes: "This original founder laid the foundation of present-day majestic Moscow, going about this with quiet steps upon a small foot-path. And thus as with any edifice, built not with extreme haste but the rather instead with great artifice and skill, doth receive a particular solidity and doth stand indestructible for a long time; and just as a tall tree growing for many a century, and having started first of all with a small sprout, and thickeneth little by little, with its branches spreading about far around, so also was it needful for this city to grow from the small, but solid root, in order that its first glimmer not beshadow the eyes of the envious, and that initially it not be disturbed or felled early on, but rather grow up to its true height. Thus did this founder prepare the great city given him; though small, but shining uninterrupted by any wafting of the wind, he did bequeathe the great glory of its rise to his son Great-prince Ioann (Ivan) Danilovich, called Kalita".

St. Gerasimus [Gerasimos], Ascetic of Jordon

The Monk Gerasimos was a native of Lycia (Asia Minor). From his early years he was distinguished for his piety. Having then accepted monasticism, the monk withdrew into the depths of the Thebaid wilderness (in Egypt). Thereafter, in about the year 450, the monk arrived in Palestine and settled at the Jordan, where he founded a monastery.

For a certain while Saint Gerasimos was tempted by the heresy of Eutykhios and Dioskoros, which acknowledged in Jesus Christ only the Divine nature, but not His human nature (i.e. the Monophysite heresy). The Monk Euthymios the Great (Comm. 20 January) helped him to return to the true faith.

At the monastery the Monk Gerasimos established a strict monastic rule. He spent five days of the week in solitude, occupying himself with handicrafts and prayer. On these days the wilderness dwellers did not eat cooked food, nor even kindle a fire, but rather ate only dry bread, roots and water. On Saturday and Sunday all gathered at the monastery for Divine Liturgy and to commune the Holy Mysteries of Christ. In the afternoon, taking with them a supply of bread, tubers, water and an armload of date-palm branches for weaving into baskets, the wilderness dwellers returned to their own cells. Each had only old clothes and a mat, upon which he slept. In exiting their cells, the door was never secured, so that anyone coming by could enter, and rest, or take along necessities.

The Monk Gerasimos himself attained an high level of asceticism. During Great Lent he ate nothing until the very day of the All-Radiant Resurrection of Christ, when he communed the Holy Mysteries. Going out into the wilderness for the whole of Great Lent, the Monk Gerasimos took along with him his beloved disciple Blessed Kyriakos (Comm. 29 September), whom the Monk Euthymios had sent off to him.

At the time of the death of Saint Euthymios the Great, the Monk Gerasimos saw how Angels carried up the soul of the departed off to Heaven. Taking Kyriakos with him, the monk immediately set off to the monastery of Saint Euthymios and consigned his body to earth.

The Monk Gerasimos himself died peacefully, wept over by brethren and disciples. Before his death, a lion had aided the Monk Gerasimos in his tasks, and upon the death of the elder it too died at his grave and was buried nearby. And therefore the lion is depicted on icons of the saint, at his feet.

Holy Martyrs Paul and his sister Juliania

The Holy Martyrs Paul and his sister Juliania were executed under the emperor Aurelian (270-275) in the Phoenician city of Ptolemaida. One time the emperor had occasion to journey to Ptolemaida. Among those meeting him was Paul, who signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, and this was noticed. They arrested him and threw him in prison. On the following day, when they brought him to trial, he openly and boldly confessed his faith in Christ, for which he was subjected to fierce tortures. Juliania, seeing the suffering of her brother, began in front of everyone to denounce the emperor for his injustice and cruelty, for which she was likewise subjected to torture. They beat the martyrs, tore at their bodies with iron hooks, scorched them over red-hot grates, but they were not able to break the wondrous endurance of the Lord's confessors. Three soldiers torturing the saints were struck by the magnanimous spirit of the martyrs, and they in turn believed in Christ. These newly chosen of God were named Quadratus, Acacius and Stratonicus, and they were immediately executed. The tormentor tried to seduce Saint Juliania with a promise to take her in marriage, if she were to renounce Christ, but the saint refused the offer of the tempter and remained steadfast. By order of the emperor they gave the martyress over to an house of ill repute for defiling, but the Lord preserved her there also: anyone who tried to touch the saint lost their sight. Then the enraged emperor commanded that they again burn at the bodies of the saints. The people crowding about and seeing the suffering of the saints began to murmur loudly, and Aurelian gave orders to behead the martyrs immediately. With gladdened face the brother and sister went to execution singing: "For Thou (Lord) hath saved us from the vexatious and hath shamed those hating us" (Ps. 43 [44]: 7).

St. James the Faster

The Monk James the Faster asceticised not far from the Phoenician city of Porphyrion. For fifteen years he lived in a cave devoting himself to monastic deeds, and he received a gift of wonderworking from the Lord. Under his influence many of the local inhabitants were converted to the Christian faith. News about the ascetic spread everywhere, and then so as not to fall into temptation, the monk went off to another place. Having found himself a new cave, he dwelt at it for thirty years. The devil set terrible traps for the ascetic. James healed a maiden from demonic-possession, but then fell into sin with her. Distraught over this sin, he repented what he had done, and for a long time he hid himself away in the wilderness, bereft of shelter and peace, tormented by the pricks of conscience, and he was on the point of forsaking the monastic life and returning back into the world. But the immeasurable mercy of God, which the sins of this world cannot prevail against and which desireth salvation for all mankind, would not permit the ruin of this soul, sincerely having toiled so many years for its Master. The Lord undid the diabolic intent to destroy the ascetic, and returned him through repentance onto the path of salvation. Wandering about the wilderness, James caught sight of a monastery, and entering it, he confessed his sin in front of the hegumen and the brethren. The hegumen urged him to remain with them, fearing that he would ultimately fall into despair. But James went off and again for a long time he wandered the wilderness. And finally the Omni-Beneficent Providence of God brought upon his path a wilderness-dweller, filled with grace and wisdom. Lifting the repentance from him, the wilderness-dweller suggested that James remain with him. But James would not remain with the elder, though encouraged and given hope by him, and he secluded himself in a cave and there for ten years offered repentance to God, weeping and wailing, and asking forgiveness for the sin committed. The Lord hearkened to the prayers of the penitent monk and returned unto him His mercy: James again found his gift of wonderworking. To his very death he remained in his cave, wherein also he was buried.

The Monk Gerasim, First Vologda Wonderworker

The Monk Gerasim, First Vologda Wonderworker, accepted monastic tonsure on the day of 4 March at the Kiev Gniletsk Uspenie monastery, having been attracted to the place of the caves, where the Monk Theodosii (Feodosii, Comm. 3 May) secluded himself during the time of Great Lent.

Out of obedience to the brethren, the Monk Gerasim accepted the dignity of priestmonk. In imitation of the exploits of the fathers of old, the monk felt the pull to Northern Rus' and he arrived at the River Vologda (19 August 1147), on the right bank of which he blessed the emerging settlement, "foretelling that here would be a great city". The saint chose for his dwelling place the dense virgin forest, separated from the settlement by the not large Kaisarova creek. There the monk built himself an hut and in the tranquil solitude he gave himself over to contemplation of God, unceasing prayer and work. He built a church in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity, and under him there came to be the first monastery in the North, named for the MostHoly Trinity. The monastery served in the spiritual enlightening of the surrounding peoples.

The monk reposed peacefully to the Lord on 4 March 1178, on the same day as his monastic tonsure and his monastic name-day in common with the Monk Gerasimos.

The Holy MonkMartyrs Vasilii of Mirozhsk and Joasaph of Snetnogorsk

The Holy MonkMartyrs Vasilii of Mirozhsk and Joasaph of Snetnogorsk suffered under the Germans at two of the most ancient of the Pskov monasteries, during the XIII Century. The Monk Vasilii directed the Saviour-Transfiguration Mirozhsk monastery, co-founded in about the year 1156 by Sainted Nyphontii, Bishop of Novgorod (Comm. 8 April), and by the Monk Avraamii (Abraham) of Mirozhsk (Comm. 24 September). The Monk Joasaph was hegumen (and according also to some Pskov Saint-accounts, the founder) of the monastery in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God on Mount Snatna. Much work and worry had been exerted by the ascetics for both the outer and inner welfare of the monasteries. In accord with the strict rule of monastic common-life, introduced into his monastery by the Monk Joasaph, the life of the monks was filled with prayer, abstinence and work. (Almost 90 years after the death of the Monk Joasaph, his monastic rule was re-introduced in the new monastic ustav (rule) of the Snetnogorsk monastery by the Suzdal' archbishop Dionysii). The Snetnogorsk monastery traced its origins from the efforts of the Monk Evphrosyn of Pskovsk (Comm. 15 May) and the Monk Savva of Krypetsk (Comm. 28 August).

Both these monasteries were situated outside the city walls and did not have any defenses. On 4 March 1299, the Germans fell upon Pskov and burned the Mirozhsk and Snetnogorsk monasteries. During the time of the conflagration of the churches, the Monks Vasilii and Joasaph accepted an agonising death together with the other monks. There was then at that time much suffering in the city and for the monks of other monasteries, and also for the women and children, -- remarks the chronicler, -- but "through the prayers of the holy monk-martyrs, the Lord preserved the fighting-men". Under the lead of the Pskov prince, Saint Dovmont-Timothei (Comm. 20 May), they came out against the enemy and at the banks of the Pskova River, near the church of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, they defeated the invaders.

The Monks Vasilii and Joasaph were buried with their co-ascetics beneathe crypts at the churches of their monasteries. The venerable head and part of the relics of the Monk Joasaph were preserved in the open in a special reliquary in the temple of the Snetnogorsk monastery. Holy Prince Dovmont "from his rightful inheritance" built at the Snetnogorsk monastery a stone church in place of the one that had burned, and he much facilitated the restoration of monastic life at the ruined monasteries.

Soon after the martyrs end of the Monks Vasilii and Joasaph followed their churchly glorification at Pskov. On the parchment Pskov Prologue of the XIV-XV Centuries, their memory is set under 5 March. But in the Pskov Chronicle and old Pskov synodikons (Saint-lists), the day of the blessed death of the holy monk-martyrs is indicated as 4 March, and on this day is made their memory at present. Suffering together with them, the chronicle names also the presbyter Joseph, and the Prologue -- the presbyter Konstantin.

March 5

The Holy Martyr Konon of Isauria

The Holy Martyr Konon of Isauria was born in Bethany, a village situated alongside the Asia Minor city of Isauria, the people of which had accepted the Christian faith from the Apostle Paul. Saint Konon from the time of his youthful years was accorded the special protection of the "Archistrategos" ("Leader of the Heavenly Hosts") Michael, who appeared to him and assisted him in many a difficult circumstance in life.

At the insistence of his parents, Konon was betrothed to a maiden named Anna, whom he persuaded after the wedding to remain a virgin. The young spouses lived as brother and sister, devoting themselves entirely to God. Saint Konon brought also his parents to the Christian faith. His father, Saint Nestor, accepted a martyr's end for denouncing idol-worshippers. Having early given burial likewise to both his mother and wife, Saint Konon continued his service to God, devoting himself entirely to monastic works, fasting and prayer. In his declining years the holy ascetic was glorified with the gift of wonderworking. By virtue of his preaching and miracles many a pagan was converted to Christ.

When a persecution against Christians started in Isauria, one of the first to suffer was Saint Konon. They subjected him to fierce torments for his refusal to offer sacrifice to idols. But the people of Isauria, learning about the tortures to which the saint was being subjected, marched out with arms in hand in defense of the martyr. Frightened off by the people's wrath, the torturers fled, and the Isaurians found the martyr wounded and bloodied at the place of torture. Saint Konon desired in all this that he be granted to accept a martyr's end for the Lord.

Two years afterwards Saint Konon died peacefully and was buried alongside his parents and wife.

New-Martyr John the Bulgarian

The Martyr John the Bulgarian was a native of Bulgaria. In his early youth through spiritual immaturity he became enmeshed in the devil's snares, succumbing to the superstitions of the Turks and renouncing his faith in Christ. In a short while the hapless fellow realised the full gravity of his transgression, and he left his native region for Holy Mount Athos, and there in the Laura of Saint Athanasias, in full obedience to an elder, he besought forgiveness of God with bitter tears and prayers of repentance. The power of repentance in young John was so great and his desire to serve the True God so intense, that he left the Holy Mountain and went to Constantinople. There, in the church of Saint Sophia, which had been converted into a mosque, he began openly and fearlessly to confess Christianity. The saint was unmoved both by the false flattery and the fierce threats of the Hagarites. On 5 March 1784 the 19 year old preacher was beheaded.

Venerable Mark the Ascetic

Mark was an ascetic and miracle-worker. In his fortieth year he was tonsured a monk by his teacher St. John Chrysostom. Mark then spent sixty more years in the wilderness of Nitria in fasting, prayer and writing many spiritual works concerning the salvation of souls. He knew the entire Holy Scriptures by heart. He was very merciful and kind. He wept much for the misfortunes which had befallen all of God's creation. On one occasion, while crying, he prayed to God for a blind puppy of a hyena and the puppy received its sight. In thanksgiving the mother of the hyena brought him a sheepskin. The saint forbade the hyena in the future to kill any more sheep of poor people. He received Communion at the hands of the angels. His homilies concerning the spiritual law, on repentance, and on sobriety, etc., are ranked among the first-class literature of the Church. These works were praised by the great Patriarch Photius himself.

The Monk Hesykhios the Fast-Keeper

The Monk Hesykhios the Fast-Keeper was born in the sea-coast city of Adrineia in Bithynia. Raised since his youth in piety, he left his parental home and asceticised in a wilderness spot on Mount Maionis. Despite the threat of demons and wild animals and robbers living there, the holy ascetic in seeking greater solitude settled there and built himself a cell, digging himself a garden and eating from the fruit of his labours. After a certain while disciples began to throng to him. At a spring of water in a valley not far off Saint Hesykhios built a church in the name of the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called. Even during his lifetime the monk was granted the gift of wonderworking. One time they brought a demon-possessed girl to him. Her parents, falling down at the feet of the holy ascetic, implored his holy prayers for her healing. The holy ascetic made prayer for the unfortunate one, and the devils left her. Turning to the parents of the healed girl, the Monk Hesykhios prophetically predicted, that a women's holy monastery would arise at the place their daughter was healed. And actually the prophecy was fulfilled in the future.

An Angel appeared to Saint Hesykhios three days before his end and predicted to him his approaching demise. The monk accepted the news with joy. And before his blessed end, the saint summoned his disciples and for a long while he instructed them. At midnight the cell of the saint and the surrounding area suddenly gleamed with an Heavenly light, and the Monk Hesykhios expired to the Lord with the words: "Into Thine hand, O Lord, I commend my spirit". At the place of his efforts, in accord with the prediction of the Monk Hesykhios, was later on built a women's monastery. The holy relics of the Monk Hesykhios, buried at the church of the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, were later transferred by Theophylaktos, bishop of Amasia, to the city of Amasia (Asia Minor).

The Monk Adrian of Poshekhonsk

The Monk Adrian of Poshekhonsk was born at Rostov the Great at the end of the XVI Century, of pious parents named Grigorii and Irina. The Monk Adrian accepted monastic tonsure at the monastery of Saint Kornilii of Komel'sk (Comm. 19 May).

Among the brethren gathered around the Monk Kornilii were no few capable builders and iconographers, such that the monastery churches were constructed and adorned by the monks themselves. In the final years of the Monk Kornilii's life, Kazan Tatars made a plundering invasion of the locale of the monastery, and he led off all the brethren to the River Ukhtoma. But the Tatars did not touch the monastery, being frightened off by the sight of the many soldiers defending it, and they soon withdrew from the Vologda district. The Monk Kornilii returned to the monastery with the brethren and reposed there on 19 May 1537.

Three years later after the death of the Monk Kornilii, the Monk Adrian, -- then in the dignity of monk-deacon, began strongly to desire to go off into a wilderness place and found a monastery in honour of the MostHoly Mother of God. The Lord helped the monk fulfill his intent. At the Korniliev monastery there arrived a certain unknown black-robed starets-elder of striking appearance. Meeting the starets in church, the Monk Adrian asked him his name, but the elder did not answer. When the Monk Adrian invited him to his own cell and besought him to share something of benefit to soul, the starets answered, that he would show the monk the wilderness, wherein he should build the church and monastery in the name of the MostHoly Mother of God. The Monk Adrian immediately went off to the monastery head -- the hegumen Lavrentii, and began to seek blessing for the wilderness quietude. Having in mind the command of the Monk Kornilii, -- bidding that there be released from the monastery any monks wanting to withdraw into the wilderness, hegumen Lavrentii did not hinder the Monk Adrian but instead gave him his blessing, and likewise sent off with him his assistant -- the starets Leonid. Having prayed at the grave of the Monk Kornilii, the Monk Adrian and starets Leonid set off on their way, led by the mysterious black-robed monk. The Monk Adrian carried with him an icon of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the Mother of God, also written by him.

On 13 September 1540, the eve of the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross of the Lord, the Monk Adrian and starets Leonid arrived in the wild Poshekhonsk forest, situated amidst the settlements of Belta, Patrabol'sha, Shel'shedol'sk and Ukhorsk. They halted at the banks of the River Votkha. And there the starets leading them suddenly became invisible. The astonished travellers began to chant the canon and service of the feast, with tears of thanks to God. And indeed this was a portent of the future famous monastery -- a place of the glorification of God -- like a bell pealing throughout all the surrounding settlements. For three years the Monk Adrian and starets Leonid survived in the wilderness solitude, suffering want, overcoming temptations from the devil and the whisperings of wicked folk, and then they set about their sacred intent. Choosing a suitable moment, the ascetics set off to Moscow to Metropolitan Makarii, to seek blessing for the establishing, on the Peshekhonsk side of the River Votkha, of a monastery and temple in honour of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the Mother of God. Saint Makarii gave his blessing to the ascetics to build the monastery, and he entrusted them a church-grant grammota-document; the Monk-deacon Adrian he ordained to the priesthood and elevated to the dignity of hegumen. In this grammota-deed given to the Monk Adrian, the sainted hierarch bid "priests, deacons, monks and laypeople to hearken to and obey him in everything, as becometh for a pastor and teacher". At Moscow the Poshekhonsk ascetics found generous benefactors who, beholding the audacious elders, gave them abundant offerings for the building of the church. Having returned to their wilderness spot on 31 May 1543, Saint Adrian laid the foundation for the church with refectory, in honour of the Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God. Having embellished and consecrated the new church, the Monk Adrian set about the construction of the monastery.

At the monastery was introduced the strict ustav (monastic rule) of the Monk Kornilii. Having nothing of their own, a little sufficing everyone, the monks devoted a large portion of their time to prayer, both in church and in cell, and no small time was allotted to the reading of Holy Scripture. And during the reading this was done: "not in elegant voice, nor for effect, but in an humble and mild voice: one reads, and another speaks of what is read", and they likewise read in private. The Monk Adrian, besides his tasks as hegumen, also occupied himself with the writing of icons, and when his holy soul wished for complete silence, he withdrew for prayer into the depths of the forest into a cell with chapel built by him, a verst distance away from the monastery. Six years after the founding of the monastery, starets Leonid peacefully reposed to the Lord. And the Monk Adrian with the brethren reverently buried him. The brethren during this time had increased. The monks built three cells as dwellings and a fourth for the preparation of food and the baking of bread. Saint Adrian began to make plans for the erection of a large stone church and he gathered for this purpose a sum of money. But a year after the repose of starets Leonid, in 1550 during Great Lent on the night of 5 into 6 March, with the commemoration of the 42 Ammoreian Martyrs (Comm. 6 March), -- armed robbers burst into the monastery and after a beating they murdered the Monk Adrian.

The holy relics of the MonkMartyr Adrian were uncovered on 17 December 1626, solemnly transferred into the monastery church and placed into an open crypt, -- over against the right cleros-choir. At the grave of the Monk Adrian occurred many miracles.

The Holy Martyr Conon the Gardener

Conon was born in Nazareth. He was kind and innocent and in all things found favor with God. During the reign of Decius, Conon was persecuted, suffered and martyred for Christ. Throughout, he remained strong in the Faith. He sharply rebuked and criticized the pagan judges because of their stupidity. With nails driven into his feet and tied to the prince's chariot, this virtuous and innocent saint was dragged until he was completely exhausted and fell. It was then that he prayed for the last time and gave up his soul to God in the year 251 A.D.

March 6

The Holy 42 Martyrs of Ammoreia

The Holy 42 Martyrs of Ammoreia: Constantine, Aetios, Theophilos, Theodore, Melissenos, Kallistos, Basoes and the others with them: During the time of a war between the Graeco-Byzantine emperor Theophilos (829-842) and the Saracens, the Saracens managed to besiege the city of Ammoreia (in Galicia in Asia Minor). As a result of treason on the part of the military commander Baditses, Ammoreia fell, and forty-two of its military defenders were taken captive and sent off to Syria. Over the course of seven years of exhaustive imprisonment they tried in vain to persuade the captives to renounce the Christian faith and accept Mussulmanism. The captives stubbornly resisted all the seductive offers and bravely held out against the terrible threats. After many torments that failed to break the spirit of the Christian soldiers, they condemned them to death, in the hope of shaking the steadfastness of the saints before the actual execution. They said to the Soldier Theodore: "We know that thou, having forsaken the priestly dignity, didst become a soldier and shed blood. Thou canst not hope upon Christ, -- so accept Mahomet". But the martyr with conviction replied: "I wilt not renounce Christ, and moreover, in that I left the priestly duty, the bloodshed was necessary".

The condemned calmly and without fear walked up to the executioners. They beheaded them, and threw their bodies into the River Euphrates. In the service to them, these holy passion-bearers are glorified as: the "All-Blest" Theodore, the "Unconquered" Kallistos, the "Valliant" Constantine, the "Wondrous" Theophilos and Basroes the "Most-Strong".

And indeed the betrayer Baditses did not escape his shameful lot: the enemy knew, that it is impossible to trust a traitor, and they killed him.

The Monk Job of Anzersk

The Monk Job of Anzersk, in the world John, was born at Moscow in the year 1635. He began his pastoral service in one of the parish churches. He lived strictly, like a monk, in fasting and the constant prayer of: "Have mercy on me, O Lord! Spare me, O Lord!". His love for people was amazing, and he always sought out the opportunity to do good for neighbour. With total commitment, Father John helped all that were needy, he concerned himself about the wronged and innocently suffering, he encouraged the spiritually weak, and the profligate he gently and wisely brought to their senses, and he consoled and gave guidance. His house was always open for the needy -- feeding them, giving them a fatherly chat, he would send them off cheered up, clothing them for the road, such as he was able. If he himself unexpectedly offended anyone, he right out regretted it and immediately asked forgiveness.

News about the good pastor reached even tsar Peter I, and the saint was summoned for priestly service to the imperial church, chosen confessor of the tsar and the imperial house. Using his influence at court, the saint strove all the more to be of help to the poor. Visiting captives in the prisons, he had a good influence on criminals through the Word of God, while the innocently condemned he encouraged in patience, and those in debtors prison he helped pay off the debt.

With the advance of years Father John, devoting himself to contemplation on God, emerged from his house only for church services, though not ceasing his benevolent work through persons of authority.

In 1701, falsely denounced before the tsar (allegedly, having learned about some evil intent, "he as a priest would not reveal the source"), the saint was banished to the Solovetsky monastery and tonsured into monasticism with the name Job. After many a tribulation the starets-elder Job was freed of obediences and he lived as an hermit in silence in his cell. Learning about the holy life of the ascetic and having ascertained, that the starets had been slandered, tsar Peter I wanted the priest to return to him, but the Monk Job refused. In 1702 for greater silence he transferred over to the Anzersk skete-monastery of the Holy Trinity, where soon after the death of the Anzersk organiser Eleazar, he was appointed its head.

Calling to mind the words of the Lord: "To whom much is given, much also is expected of him" (Lk. 12: 48), the PriestMonk Job exerted much toil and effort in his new responsibilities. As a wise teacher he taught everyone in humble obedience to God and its aspects as the first virtue, without which no one can be saved; he instructed also about constant work and concern for neighbour. He himself visited the sick, washed and bandaged their wounds, and often he healed them of their infirmities through his prayer. Amidst this he never slackened with church services nor his cell rule of prayer.

In 1710 the Monk Job accepted the great Angelic form [i.e. schema-monk] with the name Jesus [or "Joshua" in idiomatic English useage, as with the Old Testament book of "Joshua", which in Slavonic is the book of "Jesus, Son of Navin"]. The Mother of God Herself soon delineated his ultimate path to SchemaMonk Jesus: She appeared to him in a dream together with the skete-monastery's first head and patron -- the Monk Eleazar of Anzersk (Comm. 13 January), and She said that on an hill, henceforth called a second Golgotha, on Anzersk Island, shouldst be built a church of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and a skete-monastery established. Accepting this wondrous dream as being God's blessing, the Starets Jesus in 1714 resettled to Mount Golgotha and with the help of his disciples, the schema-monk Matfei and the monk Makarii, he founded the Golgotho-Crucifixion skete-monastery, where he continued with his much-toiled efforts.

In 1715 a wooden church in honour of the Crucifixion of the Lord was built.

The aged builder, in example for the brethren, himself often chopped wood, carried water up the hill, and in the bakery kneaded dough. In his cell the elder constantly busied himself with handicrafts, and the money which he obtained from this he divided into three parts: for church needs, for the needs of the brethren, and alms for the poor. For himself he kept nothing, having only of his own several religious books.

For his God-pleasing life the monk was granted an especial revelation. Through his fervent prayers, the MostHoly Mother of God Herself appeared to him in his cell and showed the place on the hill, where to dig the well and get water, sufficing for the needs of the monastery. When the wondrous water-spring was uncovered, the monk explained to the brethren: "Never grieve nor despair, but always trust in God. Remember His promise: "A mother would sooner forget her child, than I would you"". With the help of God the holy saint was able to foresee the wicked intent of some strangers who once came to him, and by his prayer: "Lord, send down sleep upon Thine servants, beset with vain pleasing of the enemy", -- he lulled to sleep the malevolent for five days and nights, and by this he led them to a sincere repentance. Another time he lectured robbers, commanding them to stand motionless under their heavy load of loot for two days, although these did not plead for forgiveness.

God revealed to Saint Jesus the time of his approaching end. Quite some while before his death the saint notified the brethren, that he would die on a Sunday at the rising of the sun. Having devoted his whole life to the service of God and neighbour, and having prepared himself for the appointed hour, the humble ascetic repented contritely, such that it took very little for him to please the Lord.

The monk reposed, as he foretold, on a Sunday -- on the Sunday of Orthodoxy -- in the morning at the rising of the sun, on 6 March 1720.

In the pre-death moments of the saint, his cell shone with an extraordinary light, there was a fragrance and the Psalter-song was heard: "For I shalt go forth into a place of wondrous habitation, yea even the house of God, in a voice of rejoicing and confession, of the din of celebration" (Ps. 41 [42]: 4).

The Holy PriestMartyr Konon (Conon)

The Holy PriestMartyr Konon (Conon) lived in Iconium (Asia Minor). Having become a widower, he withdrew with his seven year old son to a monastery. By his pious life the saint was granted help from above -- he cast out devils, he healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and preached the teaching of Christ amongst the pagans, converting many. Reports about him reached the governor Dometian, a persecutor of Christians. Saint Konon was brought to trial and they directed him to offer sacrifice to idols, but the preacher would not and he was handed over for tortures. At the trial was brought also the seventeen year old son of the martyr -- Deacon Konon. After deceitful persuasions failed to get him to renounce the True Faith, both father and son were subjected to cruel tortures: having stripped and laid them on a red-hot cot, they drenched them with hot oil, they threw them in a cauldron with boiling tin, sulfur and tar, they suspended them upside down and scorched them with a choking smoke, -- but preserved by Heavenly power, the martyrs remained unharmed. The shamed torturers in a rage then resorted to an horrid means to destroy the preachers -- to saw them up with a wooden saw. Learning of this sentence, the saints asked time for prayer and they cried out to the Lord: "We give thanks to Thee, O Lord, for vouchsafing us to suffer for Thine Name! We beseech Thee, grant peace unto Thine Church, put to shame its persecutors, strengthen and increase those believing in Thee, grant us to come unto Thee and give peace unto our souls".

And there resounded the Voice of God from the sky, summoning up the holy sufferers. Having signed themselves with the Sign of the Cross, the holy martyrs consigned their souls to the Lord. And at once an earthquake happened, and all the idolous temples in the city collapsed.

Monks secretly buried the bodies of the martyrs at the monastery, where the saints during life had asceticised. This occurred during the reign of Aurelian in the years 270-275. The relics of the holy martyrs were later on transferred to Italy, to the city of Acerno (Campania).

March 7

The Holy PriestMartyrs

The Holy PriestMartyrs Basil, Ephrem, Eugene, Elpidias, Agathodoros, Etherias and Kapiton carried the evangelium (Good News) of Christ into the North Black Sea region from the Danube (Dunaj) to the Dniepr, including the Crimea, and they sealed their apostolic activity with a martyr's death during the IV Century in the city of Tauridian Chersonessus. Long before the Baptism of Rus' under Saint Vladimir, the Christian faith had already spread into the Crimea, which in antiquity was called Tauridia and was ruled by the Roman emperor. The beginning of the enlightenment of Tauridia is attributed to the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called (+ 62, Comm. 30 November). Its very enemies even contributed to the further spread of Christianity, and contrary to their intent: the Roman emperors banished to this area transgressors against the state, -- which Christianity and the confessors of Christ were considered to be during the first three centuries. Thus, during the reign of Trajan (98-117) Saint Clement, Bishop of Rome (+ 101, Comm. 25 November), was exiled for imprisonment to the Inkermann stone-quarry. There he continued with his preaching, and there also he accepted a martyr's end.

The pagans inhabiting the Crimean land stubbornly resisted the spread of Christianity. But the faith of Christ, through its self-denying preachers, grew strong and was affirmed. Many an evangeliser gave his life for this struggle.

At the beginning of the IV Century a bishop's cathedra (presiding-chair) was established at Chersonnesus. This was a critical period, when Chersonnesus served as a base for the Roman armies, which constantly passed through in their dependence upon Byzantium. During the reign of Diocletian (284-305), in the year 300 (that is, still before the persecution which the emperor started in the year 303), -- the Jerusalem Patriarch Hermonos (303-313) dispatched many bishops for preaching the Gospel in various lands. Two of them, Ephrem and Basil, arrived in Chersonnesus and planted there the Word of God. Later on, Saint Ephrem went to the peoples living along the Danube, where he underwent many tribulations and sorrows. At the time of the start of the persecution he was beheaded (exactly known is only the day of his death -- 7 March). The preaching at Chersonnesus was continued by Saint Basil, the companion of Saint Ephrem. He set many idol-worshippers onto the pathway of truth. Other wayward inhabitants of the city, enraged at his activity, showed wrathful resistance: the saint was arrested, mercilessly beaten and thrown out of the city. Having withdrawn to a mountain and settling in a cave, he incessantly prayed God for those that expelled him, that He might illumine them with the light of true Divine-knowledge. And the Lord sent the unbelieving a miracle. The only son of an important citizen of Chersonnesus died. The dead one appeared to his parents in a dream and said, that a certain man named Basil by his prayers to the True God could resurrect him from the dead. When the parents had searched out the saint and besought him to work the miracle, Saint Basil answered, that he himself -- was a sinful man and had not the power to resuscitate the dead, but the Lord Almighty could fulfill their request if they were to believe in Him. For a long time the saint prayed, invoking the Name of the Holy Trinity. Then, having blessed water, he sprinkled it on the dead one, who then came alive. The saint returned to the city with honour, and many believed and were baptised.

Soon, by order of the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311), the persecution against Christians spread with renewed force. The Christ-haters rose up also against Saint Basil: on 7 March 309 he was dragged at night from his house; they tied him up, dragged him along the streets and beat him to death with stones and canes. The body of the saint was thrown out of the city for devouring by dogs and birds, and for many days it was left unburied, but remained untouched. Then Christians secretly buried the body of the holy martyr in a cave.

A year later, having learned of the martyr's death of Saint Basil, three of his companions -- Bishops Eugene (Eugenios), Elpidias and Agathodoros -- left off their preaching in the Hellespontine region, and arrived at Chersonnesus to continue his holy work. They underwent many hardships for the salvation of human souls. All three bishops shared the fate of their predecessor -- demon-driven pagans likewise stoned them on 7 March 311.

After the passing of several years, a time already during the reign of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine the Great (306-337, Comm. 21 May), Bishop Etherias arrived in Chersonnesus from Jerusalem. At first he also encountered hostility on the part of the pagans, but the holy emperor in declaring freedom for the Christian faith would not tolerate acts of violence against the preacher: he issued a decree, by which it was declared that at Chersonnesus the Christians should be able to make Divine-services without hindrance. Through the efforts of Saint Etherias a church was built in the city, where the saint peacefully governed his flock.

To thank the emperor for protecting the Christians, Saint Etherias journeyed to Constantinople. On the return trip he fell ill and died on the island of Amos (in Greece) on 7 March.

In place of Saint Etherias, the holy emperor Constantine sent to Chersonnesus Bishop Kapiton. The Christians met him with joy, but the pagans demanded from the new bishop a sign, so as to believe in the God Whom he preached. Placing all his hope on the Lord, Saint Kapiton in clergy garb went into a red-hot bonfire, and for a long while he prayed in the fire and emerged from it unharmed, gathering up in his phelonion the red-hot coals. Many of the unbelievers were then persuaded in the power of the Christian God.

About this miracle and the great faith of Saint Kapiton, reports were made to Saint Constantine and the holy fathers of the First OEcumenical Council (325).

After several years Saint Kapiton journeyed on business to Constantinople, but the ship hit a storm at the mouth of the Dniepr River. The local people (pagans) seized hold of the ship and drowned all those on board, including Saint Kapiton. This however occurred on 21 December. The memory of the holy bishop of the Church was set in conjunction with the other Chersonnesus PriestMartyrs -- 7 March.

The preaching of the priestmartyrs strengthened the faith in Christ in the Chersonnesus. From the beginning of the V Century this city became a spiritual centre, from which Christianity spread northwards towards Rus'. And all the more during the IX Century Chersonnesus exerted influence on the Russians, who had begun to settle in the city. Present-day archeological excavations have shown, that in the city were more than fifty churches, dating to the V-XIV Centuries. In the year 987 it was at Chersonnesus that holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir accepted Baptism. This ancient city was a cradle of Christianity for Rus'.

The Monk Paul the Simple

The Monk Paul the Simple lived in the IV Century. He was called Simple for his simplicity of heart and gentleness. The monk had been married, but having learned about the infidelity of his spouse, he left her and set off into the wilderness to the Monk Anthony the Great (Comm. 17 January). Paul was already 60 years old, and Saint Anthony at first did not accept Paul, since he was unfit for harshness of the hermit's life. Paul stood at the cell of the ascetic for three days, saying that he would sooner die than go from there. Then the Monk Anthony settled Paul in with him, and long tested his endurance and humility by hard work, severe fasting, with nightly vigils, constant singing of psalms and with poklon-bowings to the ground. Finally the Monk Anthony decided to settle Paul into a separate cell.

For many years of ascetic exploits the Lord granted the Monk Paul both perspicacity, and the power to cast out demons. When they brought a possessed youth to the Monk Anthony, he guided the sick one to the Monk Paul with the words: "Those great in faith can cast out only small demons, but the humble like Paul the Simple, have power over the princes among demons".

The Monk Emilian of Italy

The Monk Emilian of Italy (in the world Victorinus) was by birth a Roman, and until he was an old man, he led a sinful life. Having repented finally, he withdrew to a monastery, accepted monasticism with the name of Emilian, and the remainder of his days he humbly served God, astounding the brethren by his uncomplaining obedience and strict fasting. The monks noted, that by night Emilian secretly visited a cave, situated not far from the monastery. One time the hegumen followed him and found the Monk Emilian in the cave, praying with tears of contrition, and illumined by an unearthly light, and heard a Voice from above: "Emilian, thine sins art remitted thee".

Deeply moved by all that had happened, the heguman after morning Divine-services asked the elder to tell the brethren his secret, and the saint told everyone about the great mercy of God towards him. Then the hegumen explained to the brethren: "The Lord could have forgiven him his sin in quiet, but for the sake of us all He did manifest His mercy with the appearance of light and a voice, so that we all might behold His grace and mercy to sinners sincerely repenting".

The Monk Emilian spent the remainder of his days in spiritual joy and he peacefully expired to the Lord.

March 8

Saint Theophylaktos

Saint Theophylaktos lived at Constantinople in the VIII Century during the time of the Iconoclast heresy. After the death of the iconoclast emperor Leo IV the Khazar (775-780), there entered upon the throne the emperor Constantine VI (780-797). There occurred also a change of Patriarchs: the holy Patriarch Paul (Comm. 30 August), not having the strength to continue guiding the flock afront the powerfully spread iconoclasm, voluntarily resigned the cathedra/chair (784). In his place was chosen Saint Tarasios (Comm. 25 February) -- at that time an eminent imperial counselor. Under the supervision of the new Patriarch was convened the Seventh OEcumenical Council (787), condemning the Iconoclast heresy. For Orthodoxy a relatively peaceful time began. Monasteries again began to fill with residents.

Saint Theophylaktos, a gifted student of Saint Tarasios and with the blessing of this the Patriarch, settled together with Saint Michael (Comm. 23 May) in a monastery on the coast of the Black Sea. The zealous ascetics by their God-pleasing labours and intense efforts of prayer were granted by God the gift of wonderworking. By their prayers, during the time of an intense drought when the workers in the field were weakened by thirst, an empty vessel became filled with so much water, that it sufficed for the entire day.

After several years in the monastery they were both consecrated by Patriarch Tarasios to the dignity of bishop: Saint Michael was made bishop of Synada, and Saint Theophylaktos was made bishop of Nicomedia.

Heading the Church of Nicomedia, Saint Theophylaktos constantly concerned himself about the flock entrusted to him. He built churches, hospices, homes for wanderers, he generously distributed alms, was guardian for orphans, widows and the sick, and himself attended to those afflicted with leprosy, not hesitating to wash their wounds.

When the iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820) came upon the imperial throne, the terrible heresy burst forth with new strength.

But the iconoclast emperor was not able to sway the successor of the holy Patriarch Tarasios -- Saint Nicephoros (806-815, Comm. 2 June), who together with the bishops vainly urged the ruler not to destroy churchly peace. Present at the negotiations of the emperor with the Patriarch was Saint Theophylaktos, denouncing the heretics, and he predicted a speedy perishing to Leo the Armenian. For his bold prophesy the saint was sent into exile to the fortress Strobil (in Asia Minor). He languished for thirty years until his end, which occurred in about the year 845.

After the restoration of icon-veneration in the year 847, under the empress Saint Theodora (842-855; + 867, Comm. 11 February) and her son Michael, the holy relics of Bishop Theophylaktos were transferred back to Nicomedia.

The Monk Lazar of Murmansk

The Monk Lazar of Murmansk was a Greek by nationality, born at Constantinople. In his native city he accepted monasticism at the High-Mount monastery under the elder (starets) Athanasias Diskotes -- builder of many a monastery. Eight years later the monk was situated under the guidance of the Caesarea Bishop Basil. In the year 1343 Bishop Basil, wanting to encourage the Russian Church with spiritual blessing, sent the Monk Lazar as a noted iconographer together with monks and gifts to the Novgorod Sainted-hierarch Vasilii (Basil) (Comm. 10 February, 4 October, 3 June).The Monk Lazar was obliged to make for the Caesarea diocese a copy from the great Novgorod sacred-item -- the Icon of Sophia, the Wisdom of God (Comm. 15 August), and to compile an account of Novgorod churches and monasteries. Meeting the monk, the Novgorod hierarch bowed to the ground to his guest and blessed him to remain in a monastery built by him. For ten years the Monk Lazar faithfully served Saint Vasilii, and in 1352 upon the death of the holy arch-pastor, he "by his own hands dressed the holy body in the prepared clothing and shed many tears".

Grieved by this, that he was deprived of both his guides (about the death of the Caesarea bishop the monk had learned of earlier through letters), the Monk Lazar considered returning to his native land, but soon in a dream the Novgorod sainted-hierarch appeared to him and directed him "to go northwards towards the sea, to Mucha Island in Lake Onega" (Murmansk Island in Lake Onega), and in a short while his first guide -- the bishop of Caesarea, commanded him in a dream to go to that same place and found a monastery. From the chronicles is known, that at this time the Novgorodians were undertaking their first attempts to convert to the Christian faith the peoples inhabiting the White Sea coastal region.

But Saint Lazar was not able to get to this island at once -- the controller of the island, the Novgorod merchant Ivan, for a long time would not permit him. The monk prayed fervently to the MostHoly Mother of God and to Saint John the Forerunner and he wept at the grave of Sainted Vasilii. And the resistance of the land-controller was removed: Sainted Vasilii himself once appeared to him in a "dream visage" and ordered him to bestow the island "to our friend Lazar", so as there "to extol the name of the Mother of God".

Saint Lazar arrived alone at the blessed spot. He set up a cross, an hut, and "a small temple" -- a chapel. Soon the Lopari and Chud natives living on the island heard about him, and he had much suffering to endure from them: they burned down his hut and what damage they were able to, and not only once did they beat him, they chased him from the island and pursued him so as to kill him. But God and the Queen of Heaven guarded Their saint. At the place of the burned hut there appeared to the Monk Lazar there again appeared the icon of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God, miraculously undamaged by the fire. It was this icon with which they had blessed him at the taking of monastic vows, and from it was heard a commanding Voice: "The faithless people shalt become faithful, and there wilt be one Church and one flock of Christ. Establish upon this place a church of the Dormition (Uspenie) of the MostHoly Mother of God". Another time the saint saw how this very place was blessed by "a Woman of majesty, radiant with golden hue, and resplendid men that did make reverence to Her". And soon there came to the monk the very eldest of the Lopari and besought him to heal a child born blind: "... then we shalt go from the island, as thy servants be commanded". The Monk Lazar perceived that this was an Heavenly Angel, and he raised up thanks unto the Lord. He healed the blind child, having read over it a prayer and sprinkling it with holy water. After this, the "bad people" quit the island, and the father of the healed child afterwards became a monk, and all his sons were baptised.

From that time there began to come to the monk many from faraway places -- he baptised them, and vowed them into monasticism. There came to him even his fellow countrymen from Constantinople -- the holy Monks Eleazar, Evmenii and Nazarii (Comm. 4 June) -- future founders of the Forerunner monastery in the Olonetsk region.

Visiting at Novgorod, Saint Lazar received from Bishop Moisei (1352-1360) blessing for the construction of a monastery, together with an antimins (corporal) and priestly vessels. A church was built in honour of the Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God -- the first in all the sea-coast region; also a church of the Resurrection of Lazarus, and even a wooden church of Saint John the Forerunner together with a refectory.

The Murmansk Uspenie monastery was built up and strengthened by its zealous head the Monk Lazar into the time of his old age.

The time of his end was revealed to him in a vision by his faithful protector -- Saint Vasilii of Novgorod. Having chosen with the brethren a worthy successor to himself -- the Athos elder Theodosii, and having communed the Holy Life-Creating Mysteries and blessed all, Saint Lazar expired to the Lord on 8 March 1391 at the age of 105 years. They buried him in a chapel alongside the church in honour of the Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God.

The Life of the Saint was written by the starets Theodosii from the words of the monk himself.

Saint Theodorit

Saint Theodorit was a presbyter and maintainer of vessels at the cathedral church in Antioch. This church was built and richly adorned by the emperor -- holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine the Great (306-337, Comm. 21 May) and his son Constantius, and it was called among the people "the Golden church". Having occupied the throne after the death of the emperor Constantius (337-361), Julian the Apostate (361-363) decided to restore paganism throughout all the Roman empire. The emperor appointed his uncle, also named Julian, as governor of Antioch. He ordered him to close the Christian temples, and in seizing the valuables within them to hand it over to the imperial treasury. Wanting to please the emperor, the governor -- also an apostate from the Christian faith, set about his impious task with zeal. Arriving at Antioch with the dignitary Felix, he gave orders to lock up the presbyter Theodorit under guard, and he set about to his plundering, defiling the altar and the holy altar-table. One of those present, Euzoios, tried to admonish the impiety, and for this he was killed. Julian accused Theodorit of hiding the church valuables, but the venerable maintainer of vessels denied the accusation and openly denounced Julian for his apostasy.

Despite beastly tortures, the holy martyr defended to the end his faith in Christ the Saviour, and predicted a speedy death to Julian and the emperor for their sacrilege.

The soldiers, torturing the faithful presbyter, struck by his firmness and endurance and the strong power of the Word of God, were converted to faith in Christ, for which they were drowned in the sea.

The holy confessor was himself beheaded. The mockery and sacrilege over sacred things did not go unpunished -- the predictions of Saint Theodorit soon occurred: the governor Julian died in agony from grievous illness, and the emperor Julian perished in a campaign against the Persians.

March 9

The Holy 40 Martyrs martyred at Sebasteia Lake

The Holy 40 Martyrs martyred at Sebasteia Lake: In the year 313 Saint Constantine the Great issued an edict, from which the christians were permitted freedom of belief and made equal with pagans under the law. But his co-ruler Licinius was prevailed upon by pagans, and in his part of the empire he decided to eradicate Christianity, which had become considerably widespread there. Licinius prepared his soldiery to fight against Constantine and, fearing mutiny, he decided to rid christians from his army.

One of the military-commanders of that time in the Armenian city of Sebasteia was Agricolaus, a zealous proponent of paganism. Under his command was a company of forty Cappadocians -- brave soldiers -- who emerged victorious from many a battle. All of them were christians. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricolaus locked them up in prison. The soldiers immersed themselves in diligent prayer, and at one point during the night they heard a voice: "Persevere until the end, then shalt ye be saved".

On the following morning the soldiers were again taken to Agricolaus. This time the pagan tried the method of flattery. He began to praise their valour, their youthfulness and strength; and again he urged them to renounce Christ and thereby win themselves the respect and favour of their emperor. And again hearing their refusal, Agricolaus gave orders to shackle the soldiers. But the eldest of them, Kyrion, said: "The emperor has not given thee the right to put shackles upon us". Agricolaus became embarrassed and gave an order to take the soldiers back to prison without shackles.

Seven days later, the reknown judge Licius arrived at Sebasteia and held trial over the soldiers. The saints steadfastly answered: "Take not only our military insignia, but also our lives, since nothing is more precious to us than Christ God". Licius thereupon ordered the holy martyrs to be beaten with stones. But the stones flew past them entirely; and the stone thrown by Licius, hit Agricolaus in the face. The torturers realised that the saints were guarded by some invisible force. In prison, the soldiers spent the night at prayer and again they heard the voice of the Lord comforting them: "Believing in Me, if anyone shalt die he shalt live. Be brave and fear not, since ye shall obtain crowns imperishable".

On the following day also the judge repeated the interrogation in front of the torturer, but the soldiers remained unyielding.

It was winter, and there was a strong frost. They lined up the holy soldiers, led them to a lake located not far from the city, and placed them under guard on the ice all night. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath-house was set up not far away on the shore. During the first hour of the night, when the cold had become unbearable, one of the soldiers could not hold out and made a dash for the bath-house, but barely had he stepped over the threshold, that he fell down dead. During the third hour of the night the Lord sent consolation to the martyrs: suddenly there was light, the ice melted away, and the water in the lake became warm. All the guards were asleep, except for one who kept watch by the name of Aglaios. Looking at the lake he saw, that over the head of each martyr there had appeared a radiant crown. Aglaios counted thirty-nine crowns and realised, that the soldier who fled had lost his crown. Aglaios thereupon woke up the other guards, discarded his uniform and said to them: "I too -- am a Christian" -- and he joined the martyrs. Standing in the water he prayed: "Lord God, I believe in Thee, in Whom these soldiers do believe. To them add me also, and esteem me worthy to suffer with Thy servants".

In the morning the torturers beheld with surprise that the martyrs were alive, and their guard Aglaios was glorifying Christ together with them. They then led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. At the time of this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to endure and suffer everything all the way to death. They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then pulled up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton gasped out his last breath, his mother put him on the cart amidst the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were committed to fire, and they then threw the charred bones into the water, so that christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to Blessed Peter, bishop of Sebasteia, and commanded him to give their remains over to burial. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the remains of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honour.

The Holy Martyr Urpasian

The Holy Martyr Urpasian suffered in the city of Nicomedia. The emperor Maximian Gallerius (305-311) cruelly persecuted christians serving in his army and at his court. Some of the timid of soul began to waver and began to worship the pagan gods, but the strong of soul held out firmly until the very end. Thus too, the dignitary Urpasian threw down his cloak and sash at the feet of the ruler and said: "Henceforth -- I am a warrior of the Heavenly King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Take back the insignia given me". Maximian gave orders to tie Urpasian to a tree and whip him with ox thongs. Later on they bound the saint to the lattice top of an iron grate, and beneathe they built a fire. Saint Urpasian with incessant prayer endured the intolerable suffering. The glorious martyr was burned alive, and his ashes thrown into the sea. His tormentors were astonished that they had been unable to break his spirit.

Saint Caesarias

Saint Caesarias lived for a long time at the court of the emperor Constantius (337-361), and was his friend and chief court physician. In the year 368 during the time of an earthquake he miraculously remained alive and was dug out from under the rubble. The saint with all his heart perceived, how the Lord watches over His servants, and how without His will not one hair doth fall from the head of a man. Saint Caesarias left the world and gave himself over completely into the service of God.

The Albazinsk Icon of the Mother of God

The Albazinsk Icon of the Mother of God "Word made Flesh" -- is of great religious significance in the Amur River region. It received its name from the Russian fortress of Albazin (now the village of Albazino) along the Amur river, founded in the year 1650 by the famous Russian frontier ataman Erofei Khabarov on the site of a settlement of the Daurian prince Albaza.

The hue arising over the Amur Albazinsk fortress became an object of enmity for the Chinese emperor and his generals, who then already dreamed of expanding their influence over all of Russian Siberia.

On the eve of the feast of the Annunciation / Blagoveschenie, on 24 March 1652, there occurred the first military clash of the Russians with the Chinese at the Amur. Through the prayers of the MostHoly Mother of God the pagans were scattered and fled to their own territory. This victory appeared as a blessed portent for the Russians. But the struggle had only just begun. Still many a son of Holy Rus' went on to drain the cup of death in the struggle for the Amur -- for the triumph of Orthodoxy in the Far East.

In June of 1658 an Albazinsk military detachment, 270 Cossacks under the leadership of Onufrei Stepanov, fell into an ambush and in an heroic fight they were completely annihilated by the Chinese.

The enemy burned Albazin, overran Russian lands, and carried off into China the local population. They wanted to turn the fertile cultivated area back into wilderness.

During these difficult years the Most Holy Mother of God shew particular signs of Her mercy unto the Amur land. In 1665, when Russians returned and rebuilt Albazin, together with a priest there came to the Amur the starets/elder Ermogen from the Kirensk Holy Trinity monastery; he carried with him a blessing to regenerate the region, -- a wonderworking icon of the Mother of God "the Word made Flesh", called since that time the Albazinsk Icon. In 1671 the blessed elder built on the boundary mark of the Brusyan Stone (one and an half kilometers from Albazin nearby along the Amur) a small monastery, where also was kept the holy icon during the following years.

Albazin was built up. At two churches in the city -- the Ascension of the Lord and Sainted Nicholas the Wonderworker -- Albazinsk priests raised up the Bloodless Sacrifice. Not far from the city (up along the Amur) was built still another monastery, -- the Spassky. The fertile soil produced bread for all Eastern Siberia. The local populace adapted itself to Russian Orthodox culture, peacefully entering into the assemblage of the multi-national Russian state, and found Russian protection from the plundering raids of Chinese feudal war-lords.

At Moscow they did not forget the needs of the far-away Amur frontier: they strengthened military defenses and improved regional governance. In 1682 was formed the Albazinsk Military-Provincial Government. They concerned themselves about the spiritual nourishment of the Amur region peoples. A local Sobor / Council of the Russian Church in 1681 adopted a resolution about the sending to the far-off city on the Lena and Amur, "to the Daurian people", "religious -- archimandrites, hegumens or priests, both learned and good, for the enlightening of unbelievers with the law of Christ". The Daurian and Tungusian peoples as a whole accepted Holy Baptism; of great significance was the conversion to Orthodoxy of the Daurian prince Hantimur, -- christened Peter, and his eldest son Katana, -- christened Paul.

The servants of the Chinese emperor planned among themselves for a new attack. After several unsuccessful forays, on 10 July 1685, they marched against Albazin with an army numbering 15 thousand and encircled the fortress. In it were 450 Russian soldiers and 3 cannon. The first assault was repulsed. The Chinese then from all sides piled up firewood and kindling against the wooden walls of the fortress and set it afire. Further resistance proved impossible. With its military standards and holy things, among which was the wonderworking Albazinsk Icon, the garrison in military array abandoned the fortress.

But the Mother of God did not withhold Her intercession from Her chosen city. Scouts soon reported, that the Chinese suddenly "hurriedly both day and night" began to withdraw from Albazin, not even being able to fulfill the Chinese emperor's command to destroy the sown crops of the Russian fields. The miraculous interference of the Heavenly Protectress not only expelled the enemy from Russian territories, -- it even preserved the bread, which then sufficed the restored city for the winter months. On 20 August 1685 Russians were again already in Albazin.

A year went by, and the fortress was again besieged by Chinese. There began an heroic five-month defense of Albazin, -- "the Albazinsk sitting-tight", which occupies a most honoured place in the history of Russian military glory. Thrice -- in July, in September and in October, -- the forces of the Chinese emperor made an assault on the wooden fortifications. An hail of fiery arrows and red-hot cannon balls fell on the town. The battle was such, that neither the city nor its defenders could be seen in the smoke and fire. And all three times the Invisible Protectress, the Mother of God, defended the Albazinsk inhabitants from their fierce enemy.

Until December 1686, when the Chinese, -- having acknowledged their inability to succeed -- lifted the siege of Albazin, in the city of its 826 defenders only 150 men remained alive.

These forces were inadequate to continue the war against the Chinese emperor. In August 1690 the last of the Cossacks, under the leadership of Vasilii Smirenikov -- one of the heroes of the defense of Albazin, departed from Albazin. Neither the fortress, nor its holy things, fell into the hands of the enemy: the fortifications were razed and leveled by the Cossacks, and the Albazinsk Icon of the Mother of God was taken to Sretensk, a city on the river Shilka, which flows into the Amur.

But even after the destruction of Albazin, God destined its inhabitants to fulfill yet another service for the good of the Church. By Divine Providence the cessation of the military effort contributed to the increase of the influence of the grace of Orthodoxy among the peoples of the Far East. During the years of war, a company of about an hundred Russian cossacks and peasants from Albazin and its environs were taken captive and dispatched to Peking. The Chinese emperor even gave orders to give over one of the Buddhist temples for establishing in the Chinese capital an Orthodox church in the name of Sophia, the Wisdom of God. In 1695 the metropolitan of Tobol'sk, Ignatii, sent off to the Sophia church -- antimins, chrism, Divine-service books and church vessels. In a missive to the captive priest Maksim, "the Preacher of the Holy Gospel to the Chinese Empire", Metropolitan Ignatii wrote: "Be thou not troubled, nor hereafter troubled of soul for thyself and all captive with thee, -- since who is able to oppose the Will of God? And captivity for you is not without purpose to the Chinese people, such that the light of Christ's Orthodox Faith may be revealed to them by you".

The preaching of the Gospel in the Chinese empire soon bore fruit -- and resulted in the first baptisms of Chinese. The Russian Church zealously concerned itself over the new flock. The metropolitan of Tobol'sk, Sainted Philothei -- "the Apostle to Siberia" (+1727), in 1715 wrote a grammota to the Peking clergy and the faithful living under the Peking Spiritual Mission, having uninterruptedly continued with the Christian work of enlightening pagans up through the then present time.

The years went by, and the new epoch brought with it the Russian deliverance of the Amur. In the year 1850 on 1 August, on the feast of the All-Merciful Saviour, captain G. I. Nevel'sky raised up the Russian Andreev flag at the mouth of the Amur River and founded the city of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur. Through the efforts of the Governor-General of Eastern Siberia, N. N. Murav'ev-Amursky (+ 1881), and the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Innokentii, ArchBishop of Kamchatka (+ 1879, Comm. 31 March), and through the spiritual nourishment which obtained in the Amur and Sea-coast regions, -- in several years all the left bank of the Amur was built up with Russian cities, villages and cossack settlements. Each year brought important advances in the development of the liberated territory, its Christian enlightenment and welfare. In the year 1857 on the bank of the Amur were established fifteen way-stations and settlements (among which number the larger, -- the Albazinsk on the site of the old fortress and the Innokentiev, named in honour of Sainted Innokentii). So too for the single year 1858 were more than thirty settlements, among which were three cities, -- Khabarovsk, Blagoveschensk and Sophiisk.

In May 1858, on the day of holy Sainted Nicholas the God-Pleasing, N. N. Murav'ev-Amursky and ArchBishop Innokentii of Kamchatka arrived in the cossack post at Ust'-Zeisk. Sainted Innokentii was here to dedicate a temple in honour of the Annunciation / Blagoveschenie of the Mother of God, -- the first building in the new city. Because of the name of the temple, the city was also called Blagoveschensk, -- in memory of the first victory over the Chinese on the feast of the Annunciation in 1652, and in memory of the Blagoveschenie church at Irkutsk, -- in which Sainted Innokentii began his own priestly service; but it was also as a symbol, that "from hence hath proceeded the blessed news of the re-integration of the Amur region territory under Russian sovereignty". New settlers on the way to the Amur, journeying through Sretensk, fervently offered up their prayers to the Holy Protectress of the Amur region in front of her Wonderworking Albazinsk Icon. Their prayers were heard: the Aigunsk (1858) and Peking (1860) treaties decisively secured for Russia the left-bank of the Amur and Sea-coast regions.

In 1868 the bishop of Kamchatka, Benjamin Blagonravov -- the successor to Sainted Innokentii, transferred the holy icon from Sretensk to Blagoveschensk, thereby returning to the Amur territory its famous holy icon. A new period in the veneration of the Albazinsk Icon of the Mother of God began with the year 1885 and is associated with the name of the Kamchatka bishop Gurii, who established an annual commemoration on 9 March and a weekly reading of an akathist with prayerful song.

... In the summer of 1900, during the time of the "Boxer Rebellion" in China, the waves of insurrection reached all the way to the Russian border. Chinese troops suddenly appeared on the banks of the Amur in front of peaceful Blagoveschensk. For nineteen days the enemy stood before the undefended city, raining artillery fire down upon it, and menacing the Russian bank with invasion. The shallows of the Amur afforded passage to the adversary. But in the Blagoveschensk church the services were incessant, and akathists were read before the Wonderworking Albazinsk Icon. And the Protection of the Mother of God, just like in earlier times of battles over Albazin, was again extended over the city: not daring to cross over the Amur, the enemy departed from Blagoveschensk. Through the accounts of the Chinese themselves, they often saw by day over the bank of the Amur a Radiant Woman, inspiring them with insuppressible fear and depriving their projectiles of destructive power.

For more than 300 years the Wonderworking Albazinsk Icon of the Mother of God watched over the Amur frontier of Russia. Orthodox people venerate it not only as Protectress of Russian soldiers, but also as a Patroness of mothers. Believers pray before the icon for mothers during the time of their pregnancy and at childbirth, -- "so that the Mother of God might give the true gift of abundant health from the inexhaustible well-spring of holiness of the Albazinsk Icon".

March 10

The Holy Martyr Codratus and those with him

The Holy Martyr Codratus and those with him: During a time of persecution against christians (in III Cent.) a certain pious woman by the name of Ruthyna fled from Corinth to a mountain, for safety from her pursuers. There she gave to a son Codratus, and soon after birth she died. By the Providence of God the infant remained alive and was nourished in miraculous manner: a cloud drew down over him, feeding him with sweet dew. The childhood and youthful years of Saint Codratus were spent in the wilderness. Having grown up, he chanced upon christians, who enlightened him with the light of the true faith. Codratus studied at grammar, and later learned the physician's art and attained great success at it. But most of all Codratus loved the wilderness solitude and he spent a great part of his time in the hills, given over to prayer and meditation upon God. Many years passed. In the wilderness frequently there came to the saint his friends and followers to hear his instruction. Among them were Cyprian, Dionysios, Anectus, Paul, Crescentus and many others.

By order of the persecutor of Christians -- the impious emperor Decius (249-251), the military commander Jason arrived at Corinth. Saint Codratus was arrested together with his comrades and thrown into prison. At the interrogations, Jason turned most frequently of all to Codratus as the eldest by age. The saint bravely defended his faith in Christ the Saviour. Then they began the torture. Saint Codratus, despite inhuman suffering, found in himself the strength to encourage others, urging them not to be terrified and to stand firmly for the faith. Not having gained renunciation from any of them, Jason gave orders to throw the martyrs for rending apart by wild beasts. But the beasts did not touch them. They tied the saints by their feet to chariots and dragged them through the city, and many of the crowd threw stones at them. Finally they condemned the martyrs to beheading by the sword. At the place of execution the martyrs requested for themselves a certain while for prayer, and then one after the other began to walk towards the executioner, bending their necks beneathe the upheld sword.

The remaining disciples of Saint Codratus likewise suffered for Christ: Dionysios (the other one) was stabbed in the night; Victorinus, Victor and Nicephoros were crushed alive in a large stone press; for Claudius they chopped off the hands and the feet; Diodoros was thrown into a bonfire prepared for him; Serapion was decapitated; Papias and Leonides they drowned in the sea. Imitating the menfolk, many holy women also went voluntarily to sufferings for Christ.

The Holy Martyrs Kodratos of Nicomedia

The Holy Martyrs Kodratos of Nicomedia, Satorinos, Ruphynos and others suffered during the time of persecution by the emperor Decius (249-251) and his successor Valerian (253-259).

Saint Kodratos was descended from an illustrious family. Possessing considerable wealth, the saint did not spare means for the help of brother christians, languishing in prison for the faith.

When the envoy of the impious Decius -- the pro-consul Perennius -- arrived in Nicomedia, Saint Kodratos came then voluntarily before him, so as to strengthen the courage of the imprisoned brethren by his self-sacrificing decision. At first Perennius attempted to lure Kodratos from Christ, promising him reward and honours. Then, seeing the futility of his attempts, he cast the saint into prison and gave orders to put his back on small nails and to lay on him a large stone.

Setting out for Nicea, the pro-consul commanded to bring after him all the imprisoned christians, in which number also was Saint Kodratos. Upon arrival in the city, Saint Kodratos implored that they would lead them to the pagan temple. Just as they untied his hands and feet, he turned to the idols and began to overturn and destroy them. By order of the pro-consul, they gave Kodratos over to torture. Enduring terrible torments, the saint held firm in spirit and by his act encouraged the other martyrs, whose wounds they seared with burning candles.

At the time of the suffering of the martyrs there shone suddenly a brilliant cloud, but the pagans found themselves in total darkness. In the ensuing silence was heard the quiet singing of Angels glorifying God. Many of those present there confessed themselves christians. Perennius, having ascribed the miracle to an act of sorcery, gave orders to take out to prison the newly chosen of God.

From Nicea the martyrs set out behind the pro-consul to Apameia, then to Caesarea, Apollonia and the Hellespont, where they tortured them in all sorts of ways, striving for renunciations.

They tied Saint Kodratos into a sack, filled with poisonous serpents, and threw it for the night into a deep pit. On the following morning everyone in astonishment saw the martyr whole and unharmed. When they began to beat him mercilessly, two noblemen -- Satorinos and Ruphynos -- were moved with pity for the martyr. This was observed, and Satorinos and Ruphynos were beheaded.

Perennius subjected the martyr to yet more fierce and refined tortures, but was not able to break his spirit. The saint lost his strength and was hardly able to move. For the last time the pro-consul urged the martyr to abjure Christ. Marshalling his strength, the saint firmly replied: "Since childhood I do acknowledge the one only God -- Christ, and any other I know not". The pro-consul gave orders to light up the bonfire, make red-hot the iron grate and throw on it the martyr. Having blessed himself with the sign of the cross, Saint Kodratos let himself down upon the red-hot couch, and having lain upon it as upon a soft bed, he came out unharmed from the flames. In frustrated spite the pro-consul gave orders to behead the Saint Kodratos.

The Nun Anastasia

The Nun Anastasia lived in Constantinople and was descended from an aristocratic family. The pious patrician was for many the image of virtue and she enjoyed the great esteem of the emperor Justinian (527-565). Having early been widowed, Anastasia decided to leave the world and save her soul far off from the bustle of the capital. She secretly abandoned Constantinople and set off to Alexandria. She founded a small monastery not far from the city and devoted herself wholly to God.

Several years later the emperor Justinian was widowed and decided to seek out Anastasia so as to marry her. Having learned of this, blessed Anastasia immediately set out to a remote skete monastery to abba Daniel (Comm. 18 March) for help. In order to safeguard Anastasia, the elder dressed her in a man's monastic garb and called her the eunuch Anastasias. Having settled her in one of the very remote caves, the elder gave her a rule of prayer and ordered her never to leave the cave and receive no one. Only one monk knew this place: he had the obedience once a week to bring to the cave a small portion of bread and a pitcher of water, leaving it at the entrance. The nun Anastasia dwelt in suchlike seclusion for twenty-eight years. Everyone reckoned that in the cave it was the eunuch Anastasias that pursued asceticism.

The Lord revealed to her the day of her death. Having learned of immanence of death, she wrote on a potsherd several words for abba Daniel and placed it at the entrance to the cave. The starets (elder) came quickly and brought everything necessary for her burial. He found the holy ascetic still alive, and he confessed and communed her with the Holy Mysteries. At the request of the abba, blessed Anastasia blessed him and the monk accompanying him. With the words: "Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit", -- the saint quietly died (+ c. 567-568).

When the grave was prepared, the starets gave his disciple a riasa and ordered him to dress the deceased brother. Putting on the riasa, the monk realised that before him was a woman, but he did not dare to say anything. When however they returned to the monastery, having buried the nun, the disciple asked the abba whether he knew the supposed brother -- was a woman, and the elder related to the young monk the history of Saint Anastasia. Later on the narratives of the abba were written down and received wide acclaim.

The relics of the nun Anastasia were transferred in the year 1200 to Constantinople, and put not far from the temple of Saint Sophia.

March 11

Sainted Sophronios, Patriarch of Jerusalem

Sainted Sophronios, Patriarch of Jerusalem, was born in Damascus. From his youthful years he distinguished himself by his piety and his love for the classical sciences. He advanced especially in philosophy, for which they were wont to call him the Wise. But the future hierarch sought out an higher wisdom in the monasteries, and in conversations with the wilderness-dwellers. He arrived in Jerusalem at the monastery of Saint Theodosios, and there he became close with the PriestMonk John Moskhos, becoming his spiritual son and devoting himself to him in obedience. They journeyed together through the monasteries, and they wrote down descriptions of the lives and precepts of the ascetics found there. From these jottings was afterwards compiled their reknown book, the "Leimonarion" or "Spiritual Meadow", which was highly esteemed at the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

To save themselves from the devastating incursions of the Persians, Saints John and Sophronios quit Palestine and withdrew to Antioch, and from there they went to Egypt. In Egypt Saint Sophronios became seriously ill. During this time he also decided to become a monk and so he accepted tonsure from the Monk John Moskhos. After the return to health of Saint Sophronios, they both decided to remain in Alexandria. There they were fondly received by the holy Patriarch John the Merciful (Comm. 12 November), to whom they rendered great aid in the struggle against the Monophysite heresy. At Alexandria Saint Sophronios' eyesight was afflicted, and he recoursed with prayer and faith to the holy UnMercenaries Cyrus and John (Comm. 31 January), and he received healing in a church named for them. In gratitude, Saint Sophronios then wrote the Vita of these holy unmercenaries.

When the barbarians began to threaten Alexandria, the holy Patriarch John, accompanied by Saints Sophronios and John Moskhos, set out for Constantinople, but along the way he died. Saints John Moskhos and Sophronios with eighteen other monks then set out for Rome. At Rome the Monk John Moskhos also died (+ 622). His body was conveyed by Saint Sophronios to Jerusalem and buried at the monastery of Saint Theodosios.

In the year 628 the Jerusalem patriarch Zacharias (609-633) returned from the Persian Captivity. After his death, the patriarchal throne was occupied for a space of two years by Saint Modestos (633-634, Comm. 18 December). After the death of Saint Modestos, Saint Sophronios was chosen patriarch. Sainted Sophronios toiled much for the welfare of the Jerusalem Church as its primate (634-644).

Towards the end of his life, Saint Sophronios with his flock lived through a two year siege of Jerusalem by the Mahometans. Worn down by hunger, the Christians finally consented to open the city gates, on the condition that the enemy spare the holy places. But this condition was not fulfilled, and holy Patriarch Sophronios died in deep grief over the desecration of the Christian holy places.

Written works by Patriarch Sophronios have come down to us in the area of dogmatics, and likewise his "Excursus on the Liturgy", the Vita of the Nun Mary of Egypt (Comm. 1 April), and also about 950 tropars and stikhi-verses from Pascha to the Ascension. While still a priestmonk, Saint Sophronios made review and corrections to the "ustav-rule" of the monastery of the Monk Sava the Sanctified (Comm. 5 December). And the "tri-odic song" of the saint for the Holy Forty Day Great Lent is included in the composition of the contemporary Lenten Triodion.

Sainted Evthymii

Sainted Evthymii, in Baptism Ioann (John), was born at the fervent prayers of the presbyter Mikhei and his spouse Anna. For long years they had been childless, and they gave a vow: if a son were born, they would dedicate him to God. The reading of priestly books and frequent visits to Divine-services, which the boy served at with his father -- a priest at a not-large temple named for Saint Theodore, -- all this gave sanctity to the soul of young Ioann. And at the age of fifteen, in the year 1411, he departed his parental home for a monastery.

Twelve versts from Novgorod, in a wilderness spot named Vyazhisch, amidst the forests and the swamps there had settled three monks -- Evphrosyn, Ignatii and Galaktion. There soon joined them the priest Pimen, who accepted tonsure with the name Pakhomii. Here they asceticised in complete solitude at a wooden chapel built by them in the name of Christ's Saint Nicholas, living in unceasing prayer and in the harsh struggle with the severe conditions of nature in the Northern regions.

The young Ioann in seeking salvation came also to these ascetics. The hegumen Pakhomii accepted him fondly and tonsured him into monasticism with the name Evthymii. Tonsure at so early an age reflects the outstanding spiritual traits of the young ascetic, which were evident to the perspicacious Pakhomii. During this period in time the Novgorod archbishop's cathedra-seat was occupied by archbishop Simeon, a simple monk elevated to archbishop. The virtuous life of the Monk Evthymii became known to the archbishop. Saint Evthymii was summoned to Novgorod and after a long talk with the vladyka he was appointed the archbishop's steward. During these times Novgorod archbishops occupied quite unique a position: independent of princely authority, they were elected directly by the veche-assembly and they assumed a large role in secular matters; moreover, it imposed upon them the administration of vast land-holdings. And an archbishop's steward under these conditions had to combine administrative talent with the utmost non-covetousness and deep Christian humility. Saint Evthymii fervently entreated the archpastor to send him away back again to Vyazhisch, but then he yielded.

In his new duty, Saint Evthymii evoked general astonishment and esteem, in that while occupying so important a position, and being at the centre of business life in a large crowded city, he as a monk asceticised as fervently as he would have in the deep forest. In 1421 archbishop Simeon died. Under the new hierarch, Evthymii I, Saint Evthymii again withdrew to his monastery. Soon however the monks of a monastery on Lisich Hill chose the saint as their hegumen. With the death of the Novgorod archbishop Evthymii I in 1429, the hegumen Saint Evthymii was then chosen archbishop of his native city, and on 29 November he entered into the temple of Saint Sophia. For four years the saint administered the Novgorod diocese, whilst putting off being acclaimed archbishop, and it was only on 24 May 1434 that he was consecrated at Smolensk. The archepiscopal laying on of hands was headed by metropolitan Gerasim.

Saint Evthymii wisely governed his diocese over the course of 29 years, zealous in the fulfilling of his archpastoral duty. Saint Evthymii toiled much at the construction and restoration of churches, especially after the devastating conflagrations of the years 1431 and 1442. The Sophia cathedral was richly embellished by the saint, and in the Novgorod Kremlin there was built several new churches. "If thou dost wish to see, -- writes Pakhomii the Logothete, -- some few from the number of his great works, go to the temple of Saint Sophia. There thou wilt catch glimpse the temples of saints built by him, standing like hillocks. Not by the voice, but in the deed do they bespeak their varied charm. This was bestowed me by archbishop Evthymii, -- proclaims the one church; while another sayeth -- so magnificently hath he adorned me; and yet a third one doth relate -- he did build me up from the very foundations. The temple of great John Chrysostom, tall and beautiful, with the hand of a Chrysostomos he blesses and from its face is proclaimed: "In as thou hast erected me a temple-habitation, I in turn shalt beseech the Creator to prepare thee habitation in Heaven". The cathedral temple of the Wisdom of God, Saint Sophia, answering from over the years in its restoration by him, proclaimeth: "He hath returned me to mine original grandeur, he hath adorned me with holy icons, he -- is my praise and beauty". Saint Evthymii built also a church in honour of his Guardian Angel [i.e. Russian idiom for "patron saint"], and in 1438 he built at Vyazhitsk monastery a stone church in honour of Saint Nicholas; and in the following year -- a stone church in honour of Saint John the Theologian with a refectory and consistory. Zealous for the Glory of God, Saint Evthymii concerned himself over the increase of spiritual books. From this period is found quite many a Divine-service book, transcribed "under authority of archbishop Vladyka Evthymii". Despite his abundant works, the saint always promptly fulfilled the monastic rule: whatever he did not succeed doing by day he accomplished by night. An hour before Matins the saint rose up for cell prayer. Often the whole night he spent without sleep; he wore chains, but no one knew about them until his end. The first week of Great Lent the saint spent at Vyazhitsk monastery in silent prayer, eating nothing.

In 1446 the great-princely throne was usurped by Shemyaka, who entered into relations with Novgorod. The political situation in Novgorod was often quite strained. Sainted Jona (Comm. 31 March) in a special missive in 1451 urged the Novgorod people to cease their rowdiness and to heed their archpastor -- "be ye in everything heedful to our son and brother, your father and teacher, the God-beloved archbishop Evthymii". Saint Evthymii, quite up in age, was troubled in soul that the actions of Shemyaka might cast a pall over his relations with the church primate he so deeply revered, and he dispatched a letter to Saint Jona. Sensing the nearness of his death, Saint Evthymii besought for himself prayers and pardon. Saint Jona in the reply letter -- a grammota of pardon, wrote: "We call to mind for thee, my son, that thou didst comport thyself too simply: one, who was excommunicated for transgressions by our humility, ye did accept unto yourself and find worthy of your blessing. And do thou, my son, offer repentance in this before God". And with this Saint Jona gave orders: if the grammota of pardon should arrive after the blessed end of the Novgorod archpastor, then it should be read over his grave. Sainted Evthymii reposed on 10 March 1458. The priest Evmenii, dispatched by Saint Jona with the grammota of pardon, arrived in Novgorod 16 days after the death of Saint Evthymii, whose grave at his bequest stood at the church of the Vyazhitsk monastery. When they opened the grave so as to read the grammota of pardon, they then saw that no decay had touched the body of the saint. Saint Evthymii lay there as though asleep, and his fingers were positioned in blessing. "God preserve yet Novgorod, for which Sainted Evthymii doth pray", -- loudly exclaimed Evmenii, and reading the grammota of Saint Jona, he placed it into the hand of the deceased hierarch.

Soon after the death of the saint, the Lord glorified him in blessing with grace those, who recoursed to his prayerful intercession. Highly revering the saint, the monks of the Vyazhitsk monastery in gratitude erected a church in honour of Saint Evthymii, which was noted in the census of 1500. The celebration of the memory of Saint Evthymii was established at the Moscow Sobor of 1549. The Vita (Life) of Saint Evthymii was written by Pakhomii the Logothete, having been commissioned by Saint Jona, Archbishop of Novgorod (+ 1470, Comm. 5 November).

The PriestMartyrs Pionos and Linos

The PriestMartyrs Pionos and Linos -- Smyrna Presbyters, the Holy Martyresses Sabina and Macedonia, and the Holy Martyr Asclepiades suffered during the time of persecution under the reign of Decius (249-251). They suffered at Smyrna, a mercantile city reknown in antiquity, situated on the Eastern shores of the Aegean Sea. The Smyrna Church was founded by the holy Apostle John the Theologian (Comm. 8 May and 26 September), and it was glorified by the stoic firmness of its confessors in the faith of Christ.

Having learned that a persecution had begun, and preparing themselves for suffering, Saint Pionos together with Sabina and Asclepiades dwelt in strict fasting and intense prayer. Saint Pionos took three lengths of chain and placed them on himself and his companions.

The holy martyrs were arrested on 23 February -- the day of memory of the holy PriestMartyr Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna (+ 167) -- a feastday for the Smyrna Christians. After a brief interrogation the holy confessors were led off to prison. And in prison Saint Pionos with his companions met up with the presbyter of the Smyrna cathedral church, named Linos, together with his wife named Macedonia from the village of Carina. They had likewise been imprisoned for confessing the Name of the Lord. Many believers visited the holy confessors in prison, offering them whatever they could, but the saints distributed it all to the prison guards. There came to Saint Pionos also those, who formerly were Christians, but out of fear of the torturers had consented to offer sacrifice to the idols: these too besought their prayers. Saint Pionos bitterly wept over the faint of heart and he admonished them: "Despair not, brethren, though ye have done a grievous sin, but repent ye truly and turn with all your heart to Christ". After many torments, on 11 March 250 they crucified the holy martyr on a cross. They set kindling around the cross and set it afire. When the bon-fire subsided, everyone saw the body of the saint perfectly unharmed; even the hairs of his head were unburnt. His face was radiant, and it shone with a Divine grace.

St. Constantine of Strathclyde, King, Monk Confessor

The holy and right-believing King Constantine of Strathclyde (Welsh: Custennin, Latin: Constantinus) c.570-c.640, was the only son of King Riderch Hael of Strathclyde and his queen Languoreth. He appears in the Martryology of Oengus (ca.830) as well as in the Latin hagiography of St. Kentigern written by the 12th century monk Jocelyn of Furness, which regards him as a cleric.

Constantine was a convert to Christianity early in his life, possibly by Saints Columba or Kentigern, as recorded in the Annals of Ulster for AD 589. He succeeded to his father's throne in 612, but resigned the throne and became a monk. Living anonymously, his identity was only discovered because once, while grinding corn, he chuckled to himself, "Can this be King Constantine, who wore a helm and shield, drudging at a cornmill?" He was overheard, and encouraged to become a priest.

Later, he succeeded St. Mochuda as abbot of Rahan in Offaly, Ireland around the year 636. The Martryology of Oengus (ca.830) lists the March 11 as the day for commemorating Constantine King of Rathen. According to this document, Constantine was the — successor of Mochutu of Rathen in Delbna Ethra in Meath, a king of Britain, who left his realm and came on his pilgrimage to Rathen in the time of Mochutu. According to this account, it was Constantine who marked out the church of Rathen, and dug its dyke, and bettered Cepach Cusantín (Constantine’s Plot) to the south of Rathen.

Still later he returned to Scotland and founded churches at Kirkconstantine, Kenneil, and Dunnechtyn, and, most famously, the monastery at Govan on the river Clyde. There he reposed and was buried. His shrine can still be seen today in the parish church of that place.

The Monk Sophronii the Hermit

The Monk Sophronii the Hermit, of Pechersk, asceticised in the Farther Caves (the Theodosiev Caves), during the XIII Century. The holy ascetic wore an hairshirt and an heavy iron belt. The monk daily read through the whole Psalter.

March 12

The Monk Theophanes the Confessor

The Monk Theophanes the Confessor was born at Constantinople into a pious and reknown family. the father of Theophanes was a kinsman of the Byzantine emperor Leo the Isaurian (717-741). Three years after Theophanes was born, his father died, leaving his family under the care of the emperor himself. Theophanes grew up at the court and became a dignitary under the emperor Leo the Khozar (775-780). His position obliged him to enter into marriage. With the consent of his bride, Theophanes preserved his chastity, since in his soul matured the desire to assume the monastic form. Visiting upon a time with his spouse at monasteries in the Sygreian district (Asia Minor), Theophanes met the perspicacious elder Gregory Stratitios, who predicted to Theophanes' wife, that her husband would merit the crown of martyrdom. Awhile later the spouse of Theophanes was tonsured a nun in one of the monasteries in Bithynia, and Theophanes accepted monastic tonsure under the monastic elder Gregory. With the blessing of the elder, Theophanes built a monastery on the Island of Kalon in the Sea of Marmara and secluded himself in his cell, being occupied with the transcription of books. And in this occupation Theophanes attained an high degree of mastery. Later on the Monk Theophanes founded yet another monastery in the Sygreian district, at a place called the "Big Settlement", and became its hegumen. The monk himself took part in all the monastic tasks and for everyone he gave example by his love for work and effort. He was granted by the Lord the gift of wonderworking: he healed the sick and cast out devils. In the year 787 at Nicea was convened the Seventh OEcumenical Council, which condemned the heresy of the Iconoclasts. The Monk Theophanes was also invited to the Council. He arrived dressed in his patch-tattered attire, but he shone forth by his God-inspired wisdom in affirming the dogmas of the true Orthodoxy.

At age 50 the Monk Theophanes fell grievously ill and right up to his very end he suffered terribly. Situated on his sick-bed, the monk toiled incessantly: he wrote his work, "The Chronographia", -- an history of the Christian Church covering the years 285-813. This work even up into the present has remained an invaluable source in the history of the Church.

During the reign of the emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820), when the saint was already well up into age, the Iconoclast heresy made a comeback. They demanded of Saint Theophanes that he accept the heresy, but he firmly refused and was locked up in prison. His "Big Settlement" monastery was put to the torch. In prison for 23 days, the holy confessor died (+ 818). After the death of the impious emperor Leo the Armenian, the "Big Settlement" monastery was restored and the relics of the holy confessor were transferred there.

Righteous Saint Phinehas

Righteous Saint Phinehas, grandson of the High-Priest Aaron and son of the High-Priest Eleazar, was also a priest and zealous in his service.

When the Israelites, having been led out from Egypt by the holy Prophet Moses (Comm. 4 September), were already near to the Promised Land, their neighbours the Moabites and Midianites were overcome by fear and envy. Not trusting in their own strength, they decided to resort to sorcery and they summoned the magician Balaam to put a curse on the Israelites. But the Lord in a revelation to Balaam announced His will, and Balaam filled with the Spirit thrice blessed the People of God (Num. 23-24). Then the Moabites with prodigality drew the Israelites into the idol-worship of Baal-Peor. God punished the Jews for their apostasy, and they died by the thousands from a pestilential plague. Many, beholding the wrath of God, came to their senses and turned to repentance. At this time a certain fellow named Zimri, a chief man of the tribe of the Simeonites, "brought to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the community of the sons of the Israelites, whilst they did weep at the entrance of the tabernacle of the gathering" (Num. 25: 6). Phinehas, filled with wrath at the insult to the people, went into Zimri's tent and with a spear ran through both him and the Midianite woman. "And said the Lord to Moses: Phinehas... hath averted Mine anger away from the sons of the Israelites, wherein amongst them having been zealous for Me; wherefore, I do give unto him Mine covenant of peace, and it shalt be for him and his descendants a covenant of eternal priesthood, for that he hath shewn fervour for his God and made propitiation for the sons of the Israelites" (Num. 25: 10-13). After this, at the command of God, Righteous Phinehas went at the head of the Israelite army against the Moabites and brought chastisement upon them for their impiety and treachery. After the death of the High-Priest Eleazar, Saint Phinehas was unanimously chosen as high-priest. The high-priesthood, in accord with the Divine promise, continued also with his posterity. Saint Phinehas died well up in age (+ c. 1500 B.C.).

Saint Gregory Dialogus, Pope of Rome

Sainted Gregory Dialogus, Pope of Rome, was born in Rome in about the year 540. His grandfather was Pope Felix, and his mother Sylvia and aunts Tarsilla and Emiliana were likewise enumerated by the Roman Church to the rank of saints. Having received a most excellent secular education, he attained to high governmental positions. And leading a God-pleasing life, he yearned with all his soul for monasticism. After the death of his father, Saint Gregory used up all his inheritance on the establishing of six monasteries. At Rome he founded a monastery in the name of the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, and having exchanged his capacious chambers for a narrow cell, he accepted there monastic tonsure. Afterwards, on a commission entrusted to him by Pope Pelagius II, Saint Gregory lived for a long while in Byzantium. And there he wrote his "Exposition on the Book of Job". After the demise of Pope Pelagius, Saint Gregory was chosen to the Roman cathedra-see. But reckoning himself unworthy, over the course of seven months he would not consent to accept so responsible a service, and having acceded only through the entreaties of the clergy and flock, he finally accepted the consecration.

Wisely leading the Church, Sainted Gregory worked tirelessly at propagating the Word of God. Saint Gregory compiled in the Latin language the rite of the "Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts", which before him was known of only in the verbal tradition. Affirmed by the Sixth OEcumenical Council, this liturgical rite was accepted by all the Orthodox Church.

He zealously struggled against the Donatist heresy; he likewise converted to the True Faith the inhabitants of Brittany -- pagans and Goths, adhering to the Arian heresy.

Saint Gregory left after him numerous works of writing. And after the appearance of his book, "Dialogues concerning the Life and Miracles of the Italian Fathers" ("Dialogi de vita et miraculis patrum Italiorum"), the saint became called "Dialogus", i.e. "teaching by dialogue conversations". Particular reknown was enjoyed by his "Pastoral Rule" (or "Concerning Pastoral Service" -- "Liber regulae pastoralis"). In this work Saint Gregory describes from every side the model of the true pastor. There have likewise reached us his letters (848), comprised of moral guidances.

Sainted Gregory headed the Church over the course of 13 years, concerning himself over all the needs of his flock. He was characterised by an extraordinary love of poverty, for which he was vouchsafed a vision of the Lord Himself.

Pope Saint Gregory I the Great, as he is otherwise known, died in the year 604, and his relics rest in the cathedral of the holy Apostle Peter in the Vatican.

Saint Simeon the New Theologian

The Monk Simeon the New Theologian was born in the year 946 in the city of Galata (Paphlagonia), and he received the basic secular education at Constantinople. His father prepared him for a career at court, and for a certain while the youth occupied an high position at the imperial court. But at age 25 he felt the draw towards monastic life, and he fled his house and withdrew to the Studite monastery, where he entered into obedience under the then reknown elder Simeon the Reverent. The basic ascetic deed of the monk was the unceasing Jesus Prayer in its short form: "Lord, have mercy!" For greater prayerful concentration he constantly sought out solitude, and even at liturgy he stood separately from the brethren, and he often remained alone at night in the church; in order to accustom himself to mindfulness concerning death, he would spend nights in the graveyard. The fruit of his fervour was a special condition of ecstasy: in these moments the Holy Spirit in the form of a luminous cloud descended upon him and made oblivious to his sight everything surrounding. With time he attained to a constant high spiritual enlightened awareness, which was especially evident when he served the Liturgy.

In roughly the year 980 the Monk Simeon was made hegumen of the monastery of Saint Mamant and continued in this dignity for 25 years. He set in order the neglected management of the monastery and restored order to its church.

The Monk Simeon combined kindliness with strictness and steadfast observance of the Gospel commands. Thus, for example, when his favourite disciple Arsenios killed ravens which were pecking away at moist bread, the hegumen made him tie the dead birds to a rope, and wear this "necklace" on his neck and stand in the courtyard. In the monastery of Saint Mamant for the atoning of his sin was a certain bishop from Rome, unrepentingly having murdered his young nephew, and the Monk Simeon assiduously brought him around to good and spiritual attentiveness.

The strict monastic discipline, which the Monk Simeon constantly strove for, led to a strong dissatisfaction amongst the monastic brethren. One time after liturgy, the particularly irked among the brethren pounced on him and nearly killed him. When the Constantinople patriarch expelled them from the monastery and wanted to hand them over to the city authorities, the monk obtained pardon for them and aided them to live in the world.

In about the year 1005, the Monk Simeon handed over the hegumen position to Arsenios, while he himself settled nearby the monastery in peace. He composed there his theological works, fragments of which entered into the 5 volumed "Philokalia" ("Dobrotoliubie"). The chief theme of his works -- is the hidden activity of a spiritual perfecting, with struggle against the passions and sinful thoughts. He wrote discursive instructions for monks, -- "Practical Theological Chapters", "A Tract on Three Forms of Prayers", and "A Tract on Faith". Moreover, the Monk Simeon was an outstanding churchly poet. To him belong the "Hymns of Divine Love" -- about 70 poems, filled with profound prayerful ponderings.

The teachings of the Monk Simeon about the new man, about the "divinisation of the flesh", with which he wanted to replace the teachings concerning the "mortification of the flesh" (for which also they termed him the New Theologian), -- were difficult for his contemporaries to assimilate. Many of his teachings sounded for them unacceptable and strange. This led to conflict with Constantinople church authorities, and the Monk Simeon was subjected to banishment. He withdrew to the coasts of the Bosphorus and founded there a monastery of Saint Marina.

The saint reposed peacefully to God in the year 1021. While still during his life he received a gift of wonderworking. Numerous miracles occurred also after his death; one of them -- was a miraculous discovery of his image. His Life (Vita) was written by his cell-attendant and disciple, the Monk Nikita Stethatos.

The Holy Nobleborn Gruzinian Emperor Demetrios the Second

The Holy Nobleborn Gruzinian Emperor Demetrios the Second, called the Self-Sacrificed by the people, was descended from the Bagratid dynasty and was the son of the emperor David V (+ 1269). The Emperor Demetrios exerted much effort in the enlightening and peaceful prospering of his land. During his reign were annexed the Armenian provinces adjacent to it, which roused the displeasure of neighbouring Persia. But thanks to the wise actions of Saint Demetrios II, rendered in a series of services to the Persian sultan Akhmed, a clash with Persia was successfully averted over the course of some several years.

The new Persian sultan Argun, however, heeding the complaints of his court Jewish physician, conceived a strong hatred within him towards the Orthodox Emperor Demetrios, and he set out with a large army to the borders of Gruzia. Sultan Argun set up his encampment on the Mugan plain. Holy Emperor Demetrios, wanting to save his land from being overrun with devastation, came himself into the camp of the enemy and attempted to assure him of his peaceful intentions.

The sultan in an uncontrollable rage offered the saint a choice -- death or the despoiling of Iveria. Saint Demetrios answered the tyrant: "I shalt sacrifice my life for the welfare of my subjects". Saint Demetrios was executed (+ 1289). The Gruzian and Armenian historians relate, that several hours after the martyr's end of Saint Demetrios the sun suddenly darkened and terror overcame sultan Argun and his army. The Persians in fear quit Gruzia, without wreaking ruin upon it. "The memory of holy emperor Demetrios, named the Self-Sacrificed by the Iverians, is revered as holy in the land, which he did save from the tyrant by the sacrifice of his own life".

St. Kirion II Catholicos of Georgia

George Sadzaglishvili was born into the world in 1855 in the Georgian village of Nikozi. His father was a priest. His education progressed through early studies in the parochial school in Ananuri, followed by attending classes in the theological school in Gori, before he finished his early studies in the Tbilisi Seminary. He continued his education at the Kiev Theological Academy, graduating in 1880. He was ordained to the clergy. After graduation he returned to Georgia and entered a career of administration of education within the Georgian Church, particularly in Gori, Telavi, Kutaisi, and Tbilisi. He also contributed to Georgian literary efforts through writing and organizing libraries as well as participating in archaeological projects.

In 1886, George was tonsured a monk with the name Kirion and was installed as abbot of the Kvabtakhevi Monastery. He was also raised to the dignity of archimandrite. In addition to his spiritual duties and labors, Arch. Kirion continued his literary efforts, including publishing articles on the history of the Georgian Church, folklore, and literature, as well as collecting ethnographic materials from ancient Georgian churches. In 1898, Arch. Kirion published a study of the historical monuments of the Liakhvi Gorge that became an important research source as many of the monuments were later destroyed by Georgian enemies.

In August 1898, Arch. Kirion was consecrated bishop of Alaverdi, and immediately began restoration work on the Alaverdi Church for which he used much of his own resources. He also continued archaeological efforts in eastern Georgia, particularly in Kakheti and Hereti. Among the artifacts he recovered was a Holy Gospel from 1089 that had not been known to scholars. In 1901, Bp. Kirion was installed as bishop of Gori.

By the early twentieth century, Bp. Kirion became the favorite among the clergy of the Georgian exarchate in their efforts to restore autocephaly for the Georgian Church. Recognizing his popularity, the Russian government frequently transferred Bp. Kirion to different parts of the Russian Empire in order to blunt his influence. Starting in 1903, he was transferred in succession to Cherson, followed by a move to Orel in 1904, and in 1906 a transfer to Sokhumi. In Sokhumi, he exerted every effort to restore and revive Georgian churches, which resulted in his transfer to the Kovno diocese.

In 1905, the Russian government formed an extraordinary commission to formally consider the question of autocephaly for the Georgian Church and thus satisfy Georgian demands made under the leadership of St. Ilia (Chavchavadze) the Righteous. Bp. Kirion gave two presentations to the commission on the Georgian struggle favoring restoration of autocephaly. However, the Georgian claims were rejected by the commission, and the Georgian leaders were repressed harshly. Repressions came heavily on Bp. Kirion. He was denied permission to attend the funeral of St. Ilia after his assassination in 1907. In 1908, he was accused of conspiring in the murder of the Exarch, Nikon, for which he was deprived of his rank as bishop and arrested. These actions brought indignation from both the Georgian and Russian people, as well as from democratic elements in Europe.

In 1915, the government repression on Bp. Kirion came to an end. His rank as bishop was restored, and he was elevated to Archbishop of Polotsk and Vitebsk in western Russia. However, he was not allowed to return to Georgia. With the fall of the Romanov dynasty in Russia, the Georgian Church declared its autocephaly in March 1917. In response to the demands of the Georgian people, Abp. Kirion returned to Georgia. He was welcomed back warmly and was met with great honors on his arrival in Tbilisi.

In September 1917, Abp. Kirion was enthroned by the Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church as Kirion II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia at the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. Georgia celebrated its declaration of independence on May 26, 1918, after which Catholicos-Patriarch Kirion II celebrated a service of thanksgiving the next day, however, the perception that the imminent rising of Bolshevik power would pose a great threat to the Georgian republic and its Church.

On June 27, 1918, Kirion II was found murdered in the patriarchal residence in Martqopi Monastery. The guilty were not identified after a formalistic investigation was conducted.

On October 17, 2002, the Holy Synod of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church canonized the Holy Hieromartyr Kirion II, numbering him among the saints.

St. Paul Aurelian, Bishop of Saint-Pol-de-Léon

Paul Aurelian was son of Perphir, a lord in Penychen. He had eight brothers, amongst them Nautel, Pautel and Bana, and three sisters, Aude, Sadfyl and Weluela. He may have lived with the family when they moved to Eastern Dumnonia (Dorset and Devon) for he seems to have founded St. Paul's Church in Caer Uisc (Exeter). Against his father's wishes, Paul decided to actually enter the Church. He joined St. Illtud at Llantwit Fawr and then, on Ynys Byr (Caldy Island), in the company of St. Dewi, St. Samson and St. Gildas. Since the lands of Llantwit Abbey were very restricted, the four lads suggested that St. Illtud pray for the sea to recede and thus enlarge the monastic holdings. Illtud prayed all night and bade his disciples do the same. The next day. at low tide when the sea withdrew by some eight miles, Illtud took his pupils to the waters edge and drew a line with his staff in the sand. Ever since, it has never crossed that line and the abbey was able to reclaim a vast swathe of rich and fertile land. Paul spent much of his time scaring seagulls to stop them eating the monastic crops. However, he paid little attention to his duties and the crops were ruined. Frightened of his punishment, he prayed for divine intervention. The next day, he and his three fellows were able to heard all the seagulls together, like sheep, and lock them in a barn!

At the age of sixteen, Paul sought the seclusion of the wilderness instead. He built himself a little hermitage at Llanddeusant in Ystrad Tywi and was ordained a priest there, probably by St. Dyfrig. Stories of Paul's sanctity and good works reached the ears of King Marc of Cerniw (Cornwall). Marc invited Paul to come to his palace at Caer Banned and more firmly establish the Christian faith in his kingdom. Paul accepted and spent some years instructing the Cornish. Marc was keen for him to take up the position of Bishop of Cerniw, but Paul declined and their relations soured. Eventually, things came to a head when Paul asked King Marc if he might have one of the fine Celtic bells which he used to call his guests to dinner. When the monarch refused, the saint left his court in a huff.

Paul went to visit his sister, on the Cornish coast, founding the church at Paul, near Penzance, on the way. His biographer states that the lady was Sadfyl, but she was the only sister whose name he knew. In reality, this seems to have been St. Weluela, a reclusive nun who lived at Gulval. She complained to her brother of the encroachment of the Sea. So he asked her to mark out the tide line with some pebbles and then prayed for their miraculous transformation into huge rocks, forming a natural sea-wall. Paul then acquired a boat and set sail for Llydaw (Brittany). However, a story (perhaps of no great antiquity) says that a storm threw him along the British coast and he sailed up the River Dart to Staverton, on the edge of Dartmoor. He decided to build a church there, but found that his work disappeared each night. Since the Lord seemed to disapprove of his choice of site, he moved to the location of the present parish church and construction proceeded unhindered. Paul must have tarried on a short while, for he soon set sail again and landed across the English Channel, on the island of Ushant (Ile d'Ouessant). At Lampol there, he made himself a new home and was joined by twelve presbyters with their master and deacon.

Eventually, Paul moved on to Telmedou (Ploudalmezeau) in the region of Ach, in western Domnonée, establishing a monastery where his disciple, Vivian, had tried to build a hermitage until troubled by a roving buffalo. The local lord was Paul's cousin, a man named Withur who had his capital at Ocismor (Saint-Pol-de-Leon). The two met on Ynys Battham (Isle of Batz) where Withur sometimes went to spent time alone. During dinner, Paul told his cousin of his troubles at the court of King Marc before they tucked into a fine salmon; and, when it was cut, the bell Marc had refused to give to Paul was miraculously found inside! Withur gave both the island and his capital city to his cousin. Paul kept a small retreat on the former, whilst setting up a monastery at Ocismor (Saint-Pol-de-Leon) to administer to its people. First, however, he had to overcome a fire-breathing dragon which had been terrorizing the neighbourhood. Just like Marc, Withur wanted Paul to become his people's bishop. Having heard of his objections, however, the lord did not ask him directly but instead sent him to King Childebert I of Paris with a sealed letter asking the Frankish king to have Paul made a bishop, whether he agreed or not. Thus the saint was at last given an episcopacy, centred on Ocismor (Saint-Pol-de-Leon).

In old age, Paul tried to retire from office, by ordaining his disciples, Joevin and then Tigernomagle as bishop in his place. however, both died after about a year and Paul was forced to resume control himself. Eventually, he managed to appoint Cetomerin to the bishopric and, on the day of his consecration, King Judwal of Domnonée visited the cathedral. Having just re-established himself on the Breton throne, he granted Paul the site of his victory of the evil King Conomor of Poher. The saint founded the Abbey of Gerber (Le Relecq) there under his repentant brother, Tangwy (alias Bana) and retired to the Isle of Batz. Old and frail, he lived there for some years before dying, it is said at the age of a hundred and four, on 12th March, some time at the end of the 6th century.

The Lydda Not-Wrought-by-Hand Icon of the Mother of God

The Lydda Not-Wrought-by-Hand Icon of the Mother of God (in Lydda on a Pillar): When the holy Apostles Peter (Comm. 29 June and 16 January) and John the Theologian (Comm. 8 May and 26 September) preached about the Lord Jesus Christ in the city of Lydda (afterwards Diospolis), not far from Jerusalem, a church in the name of the MostHoly Mother of God were made there for the newly-converted. Having journeyed to Jerusalem, the apostles besought the Mother of God to visit it and by Her presence to consecrate and bless the church. The All-Pure Virgin replied: "Go in peace, I shalt there be with ye". Entering into the church, they beheld the beautiful and wondrous Not-Wrought-by-Hand Image of the MostHoly Mother of God. Later on, the Mother of God Herself visited the Lydda church and bestowed upon the image Her especial grace and power.

During the time of the rule of the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) there occurred at Lydda a new miracle. Stone-masons were despatched into the church to destroy the wonderworking image. However, as they attempted to chip away at the image, it would not disappear, but rather receded more and more within the column. News of the graced image spread throughout all the world. A copy was made from it, which was conveyed to Rome and which likewise received miraculous power (Comm. 26 June).

There existed also another Lydda Not-Wrought-by-Hand Image of the Mother of God. It was situated in a church built at Lydda by Aeneas, who had been healed by the Apostle Peter (Acts 9: 32-35). When the pagans and the Jews wanted to take this church away from the Christians, the governor gave orders that the church be locked up for three days, until some sign should appear for resolving the dispute. And when they opened the church three days later, they saw within it the Not-Wrought-by-Hand Image of the Mother of God.

Three of the Eastern Patriarchs (from Jerusalem, Antrioch and Alexandria) wrote about both of the Not-Wrought-by-Hand Lydda icons in a Letter to the Iconoclast emperor Theophilos (829-842). The emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitos (912-959) spoke about the Letter in an historical account about the Not-Wrought-by-Hand Image of the Saviour at Edessa (Comm. 16 August).

March 13

Saint Nicephoros

Sainted Nicephoros was a dignitary at the court of the empress Irene (797-802), and then accepting monasticism, he became known for his piety. In the year 806 he was elevated to the patriarchal throne. The saint was a zealous defender of Icon-Veneration. When the Iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820) came to rule, the saint in 815 was exiled to the Island of Prokonnis, where he died in the year 828.

In the year 846 the holy relics of Patriarch Nicephoros were opened, undecayed and fragrant. They transferred them from Prokonnis to Constantinople and placed them for one day in the church of Saint Sophia, and then they transferred them to the church of the Holy Apostles. The hands of the saint are preserved in the Khilendaria monastery on Mount Athos.

The saint left behind three writings, directed against Iconoclasm. The memory of Saint Nicephoros is celebrated also on 2 June.

Saint Christina the Persian

For her unwavering confession of faith in Christ, she was cruelly tortured in Persia in the fourth century. So much did they torture her, flogging her with a whip, that she became weak and died. Her soul then departed from her tortured body and entered into the joy of Christ, the King and Lord.

St. Gerald, Abbot of English monastery in Mayo

St. Gerald was the Bishop of Mayo, an English monk, date of birth unknown; died 13 March, 731; followed St. Colman, after the Synod of Whitby (664), to Ireland, and settled in Innisboffin, in 668. Dissensions arose, after a time, between the Irish and the English monks, and St. Colman decided to found a separate monastery for the thirty English brethren. Thus arose the Abbey of Mayo (Magh Eo, the yew plain), known as "Mayo of the Saxons", with St. Gerald as the first abbot, in 670. St. Bede writes: "This monastery is to this day occupied by English monks ... and contains an exemplary body who gathered there from England, and live by the labour of their own hands (after the manner of the early Fathers), under a rule and canonical abbot, leading chaste and single lives." Although St. Gerald was a comparatively young man, he proved a wise ruler, and governed May until 697, when, it is said, he resigned in favour of St. Adamnan. Some authors hold that St. Adamnan celebrated the Roman Easter at Mayo, in 703, and then went to Skreen, in Hy Fiachrach, and that after his departure the monks prevailed on St. Gerald to resume the abbacy. The Saxon saint continued to govern the Abbey and Diocese of Mayo till his death. His feast is celebrated on 13 March. Mayo, though merged in Tuam for a time, remained a separate see until 1579.

Martyr Africanus of Carthage

The Holy Martyrs Africanus, Publius and Terence suffered in the third century at Petrium. Their memory is celebrated also on April 10.

March 14

The Monk Benedict

The Monk Benedict, founder of the western monastic order of the Benedictines, was born in the Italian city of Nursia in the year 480. At 14 years of age the saint was sent off by his parents for studies at Rome, but vexed at the immorality there surrounding him, he decided to devote himself to a different sort of life. At first Saint Benedict settled near the church of the holy Apostle Peter in the village of Effedum, but news about his ascetic life compelled him to go farther into the mountains. There he encountered the hermit Romanus, who tonsured him into monasticism and directed him to a remote cave for a domicile. From time to time the hermit would bring the saint food. For three years in total solitude the saint waged an harsh struggle with temptations and conquered them. People soon began to gather to him, thirsting to live under his guidance. The number of disciples grew so much, that the saint divided them into twelve communities. Each community was comprised of twelve monks and was a separate skete-monastery. And to each skete the saint gave an hegumen-abbot from among his experienced disciples.

With the Monk Benedict remained only the new-made monks for instruction. The strict monastic-rule, established by Saint Benedict for the monks, was not taken to heart by everyone, and the monk more than once became the victim of abuse and vexation.

Finally he settled in Campagna and on Mount Cassino he founded the Monte Cassino monastery, which for a long time was a centre of theological education for the Western Church. At the monastery was created a remarkable library. And at this monastery the Monk Benedict wrote his ustav-rule, based on the experience of life of the Eastern wilderness-dwellers and the precepts of the Monk John Cassian the Roman (Comm. 29 February). The monastic-rule was accepted afterwards by many of the Western monasteries (by the year 1595 it had come out in more than 100 editions). The rule prescribed for monks an absolute renunciation of personal possessions, unconditional obedience and constant work. It was considered the duty of older monks to teach children and to copy out ancient manuscripts. This helped to preserve many memorable writings, belonging to the first centuries of Christianity. Every new postulant was required to live as a novice-obedient over the course of a year, to learn the monastic rule and to become acclimated to monastic life. Every deed required a blessing. The head of this common-life monastery is the hegumen-abbot, having all the fulness of power. He discerns, teaches and explains. The hegumen solicits the advice of the elders and the experienced brethren, but he personally makes the decision. The fulfilling of the monastic-rule is strictly binding for everyone and is regarded as an important step, nigh to perfection.

Saint Benedict was vouchsafed of the Lord the gift of foresight and wonderworking. He healed many by his prayers. The monk foretold his end beforehand.

The sister of Saint Benedict, Saint Scholastica, likewise became famed for her strict ascetic life and was ennumerated to the ranks of the Saints.

Saint Rostislav-Michael, GreatPrince of Kiev

Saint Rostislav-Michael, GreatPrince of Kiev, was the son of the Kiev GreatPrince Saint Mstislav the Great (+ 1132, Comm. 14 June), and the brother of holy Prince Vsevolod-Gabriel (+ 1138, Comm. 11 February, 22 April and 27 November). He was one of the civil and churchly figures of the mid-XII Century.

With his name is connected the fortification and rise of Smolensk, and both the Smolensk principality and the Smolensk diocese.

Up until the XII Century the Smolensk land comprised part of the single Kievan realm. The beginning of its political separateness ensued in the year 1125, when holy Prince Mstislav the Great, by way of an inheritance from his father the Kievan GreatPrince Vladimir Monomakh, gave off Smolensk into the holdings of his son Rostislav (in Baptism Michael). Thanks to the work and efforts of Saint Rostislav, the Smolensk principality, which he ruled for more than 40 years, expanded and was built up with cities and villages, adorned with churches and monasteries, and became influential in the all-Russian affairs.

Founded by Saint Rostislav in the Smolensk lands were the cities of Rostislavl', Mstislavl', Krichev, Propoisk, and Vasil'ev among others. He was the first-ancestor of the Smolensk princely dynasty.

In 1136 Saint Rostislav succeeded with the establishing of a separate Smolensk diocese. Its first bishop was Manuel, installed between March-May of 1136 by the Kiev metropolitan Michael, with the means necessary for his needs were assured by an edict of prince Rostislav, issued in the city of Smolensk. Besides this, on 30 September 1150 in a special decree Saint Rostislav ceded the transfer of Cathedral Hill at Smolensk to the Smolensk diocese, where there stood the Uspenie cathedral and other diocesan buildings.

Contemporaries thought highly of the church construction of prince Rostislav. Even the sources that are inclined to report nothing moreso about it note, that "this prince built the Holy Mother of God church at Smolensk". These words need to be understood not only in the sense of the rebuilding and expansion under prince Rostislav of the Uspenie cathedral, -- originally built by his grandfather, Vladimir Monomakh, in the year 1101 (the rebuilt cathedral was consecrated by bishop Manuel on the feast of Uspenie (Dormition), 15 August 1150). Prince Rostislav was a "builder of the Church" in a far wider sense: he endowed the Smolensk Uspenie temple of the Mother of God materially, and transformed it from being a city cathedral into the ecclesiastical centre of the vast Smolensk diocese.

Holy Prince Rostislav was the builder of the Smolensk Kremlin, and of the Saviour cathedral at the Smyadynsk Borisogleb monastery, founded on the place of the murder of holy Prince Gleb (+ 1015, Comm. 5 September). Later on his son David, possible fulfilling the wishes of his father, transferred from Kievan Vyshgorod to Smyadyn' the old wooden coffins of Saints Boris and Gleb, in which their relics reposed until transferred into stone crypts in the year 1115.

In the decade of the fifties of the XIIth Century, Saint Rostislav was drawn into a prolonged struggle for Kiev, which involved representatives of the two strongest princely lines -- the Ol'govichi and the Monomakhovichi.

Although the major contender to be greatprince on the Monomakhovichi side was Rostislav's uncle, Yurii Dolgoruky, Rostislav as the Smolensk prince was one of the most powerful rulers of the Russian land and he had a decisive voice in the military and diplomatic wrangling. For everyone involved in the dispute, Rostislav was simultaneously a dangerous opponent and a desired ally, and moreover he was deliberately at the centre of events. This had a providential significance, since Saint Rostislav distinguished himself among his contemporaries by his wisdom regarding the civil realm, by his strict sense of justice and unconditional obedience to elders, and by his deep respect for the Church and its hierarchy. For some several generations he became personified as the bearer of the "Russkaya Pravda" ("Russian Righteous-Truth") and of Russian propriety.

After the death of his brother Izyaslav (+ 13 November 1154), Saint Rostislav for a short while became greatprince of Kiev, but he ruled Kiev concurrently with his uncle Vyacheslav Vladimirovich. After the death of this latter figure (the end of the very same year) Rostislav returned to Smolensk, ceding the Kiev princedom to his other uncle -- Yurii Dolgoruky, and he removed himself from active participation in the bloodshed of the inter-princely disputes. He occupied Kiev a second time on 12 April 1159 and he then remained greatprince until his death (+ 1167), having more than once to defend his paternal inheritance with sword in hand.

The years of Saint Rostislav's rule occurred during one of the most complicated periods in the history of the Russian Church. The elder brother of Rostislav, Izyaslav Mstislavich, a proponent for the autocephaly of the Russian Church, chose for metropolitan the erudite Russian monk Kliment Smolyatich, and gave orders that he should be made metropolitan by a sobor (council) of Russian bishops, without previous recourse as formerly to the Constantinople patriarch. This occurred in the year 1147. The Russian hierarchy basically supported metropolitan Kliment and prince Izyaslav in their struggle for ecclesiastical independence from Byzantium, but several bishops headed by Sainted Nyphont of Novgorod (Comm. 8 April), did not recognise the autocephalous independence of the Russian metropolitanate and shunned communion with it, -- having transformed their dioceses into a sort of unique "autocephalic" ecclesial districts, pending the examination of circumstances. The Smolensk bishop Manuel also followed this course. Saint Rostislav understood the danger, which lay hidden beneathe the idea of Russian autocephaly for these times, as aspects threatening the break-up of Rus'. The constant fighting for Kiev which occurred among the princes would tend towards a similar "fighting-over" the Kiev metropolitan cathedra-chair amongst numerous contenders, put forth by either one or another princely group.

The premonitions of Saint Rostislav were fully justified. Yurii Dolgoruky, adhering in loyalty to the Byzantine orientation, occupied Kiev in the year 1154, and he immediately banished metropolitan Kliment and petitioned to Tsar'grad for a new metropolitan. This was to be Sainted Constantine (Comm. 5 June), but he arrived in Rus' only in the year 1156, a mere half-year before the death of Yurii Dolgoruky (+ 15 May 1157). And it was a mere six months later, when on 22 December 1157 Saint Rostislav's nephew Mstislav Izyaslavich entered the city, and Saint Constanine in turn was obliged to flee Kiev, while upon the metropolitan cathedra-seat returned the deposed Kliment Smolyatich. There began a time of Church disorder -- in Rus' were two different metropolitans. All the hierarchy and the clergy came under interdict: the Greek-metropolitan suspended the Russians supporting Kliment, and Kliment suspended all the supporters of the Greek. To halt the scandal, Saint Rostislav and Mstislav decided to remove both metropolitans and petition the (Constantinople) Patriarch to install a new arch-hierarch upon the Russian metropolitan cathedra-seat.

But this compromise did not end the matter. Arriving in Kiev in the autumn of 1161, metropolitan Theodore died in spring of the following year. Following the example of Saint Andrei Bogoliubsky (Comm. 4 July), -- who was attempting at this time to propose for metropolitan his own fellow ascetic bishop Theodore, Saint Rostislav put forth his own candidate, who turned out anew to be the much-suffering Kliment Smolyatich.

This fact, that the greatprince had changed his attitude to metropolitan Kliment, shows the influence of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery, and in particular of archimandrite Polykarp. Archimandrite Polykarp, an observer of the Pechersk traditions (in 1165 he became head of the monastery), was very close to Saint Rostislav personally.

Saint Rostislav had the pious custom, on the Saturdays and Sundays of Great Lent, to invite the hegumen with twelve monks to his own table, and he himself served them. The prince more than once expressed the wish to be tonsured a monk at the monastery of Saints Antonii and Theodosii, and he even gave orders to build him there a cell. The Pechersk monks, being of tremendous spiritual influence in ancient Rus', encouraged in the prince thoughts about the independence of the Russian Church. Moreover, during these years in Rus', there was suspicion regarding the Orthodoxy of the bishops which came from among the Greeks, in connection with the notorious "Dispute about the Fasts" (the "Leontian Heresy"). But the pious intent of Saint Rostislav to have the blessing of the Constantinople patriarch for the Russian metropolitan Kliment came to naught. The Greeks reckoned correctly that this appointment of a metropolitan to the Kiev cathedra was their most important privilege, which served not only the ecclesiastical, but also the political interests of the Byzantine empire. In 1165 at Kiev arrived a new metropolitan -- the Greek John IV, and Saint Rostislav out of humility and churchly obedience accepted him. The new metropolitan, like his predecessor, governed the Russian Church for less than a year (+ 1166). The Kiev cathedra-seat was again left vacant, and the greatprince was deprived of the fatherly counsel and spiritual nourishing in the guise of a metropolitan. His sole spiritual solace was in recourse to the hegumen Polykarp and the holy elders of the Kievo-Pchersk monastery and the Theodorov monastery at Kiev, which had been founded under his father.

Returning from a campaign against Novgorod in the spring of 1167, Saint Rostislav fell ill. When he reached Smolensk, where his son Roman was prince, kinsmen urged him to remain at Smolensk. But the greatprince gave orders to convey him to Kiev: "If I die along the way, -- he declared, -- put me in my father's monastery of Saint Theodore. If God shouldst heal me, through the prayers of His All-Pure Mother and the Monk Theodosii, I shall take vows at the Pechersk monastery".

God did not deign to be fulfilled the ultimate wish of Saint Rostislav -- to end his life as a monk of the holy monastery. The holy prince died on the way to Kiev on 14 March 1167. (In other historical sources the year is indicated as 1168). His body, in accord with his last wishes, was conveyed to the Kiev Theodosiev monastery.

St. Matilda

Born at Engern, Westphalia, Germany, c. 895; died at Quedlinburg, March 14, 968.Saint Matilda is another who shows us the possibility of living in the world and reaching the state of Christian perfection. It's not easy, especially at first, because there are so many delightful distractions that titillate the senses and feed the ego. But when the soul becomes acquainted with God and forms a relationship, it hungers and thirsts for more of His love. Thus, fervent prayer, holy meditation, and reading pious books, are more necessary for those living in the world than for professed religious, because of the continual distractions. Amidst the pomp, hurry, and amusements of a court, Saint Matilda gave herself up to holy contemplation with such earnestness, that though she never neglected any duties, her soul was raised to heaven.

Saint Matilda was daughter of Count Dietric (Theodoric) of Westphalia and Reinhild of Denmark. At a very early age her parents placed her under the care of her grandmother, Maud, abbess of Eufurt monastery, who had renounced the world upon her widowhood. Matilda relished the life of prayer and spiritual reading. Like all young ladies she learned the refined skill of needlework. She remained in the convent until her parents married her to Henry, son of Duke Otto of Saxony, in 909 (some vitae push all the dates for marriage and crowning by several years).

Her husband, named the Fowler, from his fondness for popular sport of hawking, became duke of Saxony at the death of his father, in 912. Upon the death of Conrad I in 919, was chosen king of Germany. He was a pious and victorious prince, and very tender of his subjects. His solicitude in easing their taxes, made them ready to serve their country in his wars at their own cost, though he generously recompensed their zeal after his expeditions, which were always attended with success.

While he by his arms checked the insolence of the Hungarians and Danes, and enlarged his dominions by adding to them Bavaria, Matilda gained domestic victories over her spiritual enemies, more worthy of a Christian, and far greater in the eyes of heaven. She nourished the precious seeds of devotion and humility in her heart by assiduous prayer and meditation; and, not content with the time which the day afforded for these exercises, employed part of the night the same way. The nearer the view was which she took of worldly vanities, the more clearly she discovered their emptiness and dangers and sighed to see men pursue such bubbles to the loss of their souls; for, under a fair outside, they contain nothing but poison and bitterness.

It was her delight to visit and comfort the sick and the afflicted, to serve and instruct the poor, and to show charity to prisoners, procuring their freedom if justice would permit it or easing their suffering by liberal alms. Her husband, edified by her example, concurred with her in every pious undertaking.

After twenty-seven years of marriage, Matilda and Henry were separated by his death in 936. During his last illness, Matilda went to the church to pour forth her soul in prayer for him at the foot of the altar. As soon as she understood, by the tears and cries of the people, that he had expired, she called for a priest that was fasting, to offer the holy sacrifice for his soul; and at the same time cut off the jewels which she wore, and gave them to the priest as a pledge that she renounced from that moment the pomp of the world.

She had three sons (one source says five); Otto, afterwards emperor; Henry, duke of Bavaria who is known as "the Quarrelsome"; and Saint Bruno, archbishop of Cologne. Henry was the better suited to succeed his father, but Otto, the eldest, was elected. Otto was crowned king of Germany in 937. Matilda, in the contest between her two elder sons for the elected crown, favored her middle son, Henry, a fault she expiated by severe afflictions and penance. When Otto (the Great) was elected, she persuaded him to name Henry duke of Bavaria after he had led an unsuccessful revolt.

These two sons conspired to strip her of her dowry, on the unjust charge that she had squandered away the revenues of the state on the poor. This persecution was long and cruel, especially because it came at the hands of her precious sons. She retired to her country home but was later recalled to the court at the insistence of Otto's wife, Edith. The errant princes were reconciled to her and restored her all they had taken. She then became more liberal in her alms than ever.

When Henry again revolted, Otto put down the insurrection in 941 with great cruelty. Matilda censured Henry when he began another revolt against Otto in 953 and for his ruthlessness in suppressing a revolt by his own subjects; at that time she prophesied his imminent death. Yet, the testimony of her son Henry is powerful. He told her: "Oh, my very dear one, in all things you have given us excellent advice: how many times have you changed iniquity to justice."

After Henry's death in 955, she devoted herself to building many churches and four religious houses, including Engern, Pöhlde in Brunswick (where she maintained 3,000 monks), Quedlinburg in Saxony (where she buried her husband), and Nordhausen, where she retired in her later years. When she had finished the buildings, Quedlinburg became her usual retreat. After his victories over the Bohemians and Lombards, Matilda governed the kingdom when Otto went to Rome in 962 to be crowned emperor, which is often regarded as the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire.

During the last of her 32 years of widowhood, Matilda entered one of the convents she had founded at Nordhausen. She applied herself totally to her devotions, and to works of mercy. It was her greatest pleasure to teach the poor and ignorant how to pray, as she had formerly taught her servants. In her last sickness she made her confession to her grandson William, the archbishop of Mentz, who yet died twelve days before her, on his road home. She again made a public confession before the priests and monks of the place, received a second time the last sacraments, and lying on a sackcloth with ashes on her head. Her body remains at Quedlinburg, where she is buried beside her husband. The Benedictines venerate her as one of their oblates.

The Theodorov (Feodorov) - Kostroma Icon of the Mother of God

The Theodorov (Feodorov) - Kostroma Icon of the Mother of God was written by the Evangelist Luke and is close in iconography to the Vladmir Icon of the Mother of God.

This icon received its name from GreatPrince Yaroslav Vsevolodovich (+ 1246), the father of Saint Alexander Nevsky, and who received in holy Baptism the name Theodore (Feodor) -- in honour of Saint Theodore Stratelates. It was found, according to tradition, by his elder brother, Saint Yurii Vsevolodovich (+ 1238, Comm. 4 February), in an old wooden chaplet near the old city of Gorodets -- later on at this spot was built the Gorodetsk Theodorov monastery. Prince Yaroslav-Theodore became the GreatPrince of Vladimir after his brother Saint Yurii perished in battle with the Tatar-Mongols at the Sita River, and subsequently in the year 1239, he solemnly transferred the relics of his brother from Rostov to the Vladimir Uspenie (Dormition) cathedral. And with this same icon inherited from his brother, he blessed his own son, Saint Alexander Nevsky, who that very year entered into marriage with the daughter of the Polovetsian prince Briacheslav.

Yaroslav-Theodore left behind in Russian history a remarkable memory of himself. He continued with the glorious traditions of his uncle -- Saint Andrei Bogoliubsky (Comm. 4 July), and of his father -- Vsevolod III Big-Nest ("Bol'shoe Gnezdo"), and he was thus connected to almost all of the significant events in the history of Rus' in the first half of the XIII Century. He inherited the legacy of Rus', burnt and hacked apart in the years 1237-1238 by the Tatar-Mongols. He raised it up from the ashes, rebuilt and embellished the cities, the holy monasteries and the churches. He restored cities along the Volga devastated by the enemy: Kashin, Uglich, Yaroslavl', Kostroma, Gorodets. The church of Theodore Stratelates at Kostroma and the Theodorov monastery near Gorodets were founded by him in honour of his patron saint. For all of eight years he stood at the helm as greatprince, but during this while he had to guide the land through a singularly difficult path for these times -- maintaining a military-political balance with the Golden Horde to the East, while mounting an active opposition to Catholic Europe in the West. His closest companion was his son, Saint Alexander Nevsky, who also continued his governing policy.

The wonderworking Theodorov Icon of the Mother of God -- with the blessing of his father -- was constantly with Saint Alexander, and it was his prayer-icon. After his death (Saint Alexander Nevsky died on 14 November 1263 in Gorodets, at the monastery founded by his father), the icon was taken by his younger brother Vasilii.

Vasilii Yaroslavich was the "little-est", that is, he was the youngest (eighth) son of Yaroslav Vsevolodovich. In 1246 after the death of his father, (prince Yaroslav was poisoned in the capital city of Mongolia -- Karakorum), when he was but five years old, he became prince of the Kostroma appanage-holding -- the least important in the domains of his father. But in the year 1272 God destined for him to become GreatPrince of Vladimir. His four years as greatprince (1272-1276) were filled with the typical for these times princely fratricidal quarrels. For several years he waged war against Novgorod with an unruly nephew Dimitrii Alexandrovich. In becoming greatprince, however, Vasilii did not journey off to Vladimir, but remained under the protection of the wonderworking icon at Kostroma, regarding this place more hopeful in case of new outbreaks of strife.

He had occasion also to defend Rus' against external enemies. In 1272, during the course of a Tatar incursion, a Russian army came forth from Kostroma to engage them. On the example of his grandfather, Saint Andrei Bogoliubsky -- who took with him on military campaigns the wonderworking Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, -- prince Vasilii went off into battle with the wonderworking Theodorov Icon. Bright rays shot out from the holy image, striking the enemy; the Tatars were routed and expelled from the Russian land.

The chronicles relate, the GreatPrince Vasilii had an especial love for the Church and the clergy. After the martyr's death of the Vladimir bishop Mitrophan during the storming of Vladimir by Tatars on 4 February 1238, the Vladimir diocese had for a long period of years remained as though widowed. This grieved GreatPrince Vasilii. With his help in 1274 there was constructed in Vladimir the large Cathedral church. This was apparently in connection with the consecration as bishop of Vladimir of Sainted Serapion (+ 1275, Comm. 12 July) -- who was an hegumen from Pechersk; this was presided over by Metropolitan Kirill III (+ 1282) and a sobor-council of Russian hierarchs. The purpose of the council's actions was quite extensive -- this was the first Sobor in the Russian Church since the time of the Mongol invasion. Many a problem and disorder had arisen in church life, but the Russian Church was just barely beginning to recover from the woe that had befallen it. A chief task for it was the rebirth of Russian churchly literacy, and the restoration of the tradition of the ancient Russian "princely order". Without books the salvific activity of the Church would be well nigh impossible: they were needed for the Divine-services, and for preaching, for cell meditation by monks, and for at-home reading by believers. With the efforts of Metropolitan Kirill together with the Russian bishops and monk-scholars, this task, -- the most important for the subsequent Christian enlightenment of Rus', was successfully undertaken. The Sobor adopted a new redaction of the essential books -- the fundamental canonical codex of Orthodox churchly life.

In the year 1276 prince Vasilii finished his life's journey, the most important steps along the way of which were beneathe the overshadowing blessing of the Theodorov Icon of the Mother of God. He died at Kostroma and there also found the place of his final rest. The holy icon has been from that time in the Kostroma cathedral of Saint Theodore Stratelates.

Renewed interest in the Theodorov Icon of the Mother of God and the wide spreading about of its veneration throughout all Russia is connected with events of the beginning of the XVII Century -- with the cessation of the Time of Troubles. In the year 1613 the wonderworking Theodorov Icon from the Kostroma cathedral was used in blessing the selection of Mikhail Romanov as the new tsar. In memory of this historic event there was established under 14 March the general commemoration of the Theodorovsk Icon of the Mother of God. Numerous copies were made from the Kostroma Theodorovsk Icon, and one of the first was commissioned and brought to Moscow by the mother of tsar Mikhail -- the nun Martha. From the second half of the XVII Century, various copies of the Theodorov Icon received an enlargement with vignettes, depicting events from the history of the wonderworking icon.

In the year 1670 the monk-deacon Longin from the Kostroma Ipat'ev monastery wrote the "Narrative concerning the manifestations and miracles of the Theodorov Icon of the Mother of God in Kostroma". Not all the things contained in its information co-incides with things previously stated, reflecting the people's memory as regarding chronology and laws.

The Theodorov Icon is two-sided. On the reverse side -- is the image of the holy GreatMartyress Paraskeva, depicted in the splendid attire of a princess. It is conjectured, that the image of Paraskeva on the reverse of the icon is connected with the spouse of Saint Alexander Nevsky.

Saint Theognostus the Greek

Saint Theognostus the Greek succeeded St Peter (August 25 and December 21) as Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia, holding this office from 1327 until 1353. It was through his influence that the Grand Prince Simeon sent money to the Byzantine Emperor John Cantacuzene for repairs to the Great Church of Hagia Sophia.

March 15

The Holy Martyr Agapios

The Holy Martyrs Agapios, Puplios, Timolaus, Romilos, Alexander, Alexander, Dionysios and Dionysios suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) in the city of Palestinian Caesarea. At the time of one of the pagan feasts they began to torture and execute Christians who refused to offer sacrifice to idols. At this time the Martyr Timotheos (Comm. 19 August) was sentenced to burning, and the Martyrs Agapios and Thekla (Comm. 19 August) were sentenced to tearing apart by wild beasts. The group of young Christians -- Puplios, Timolaus, Alexander, another Alexander, Dionysios, and the subdeacon of the Diaspolis church Romilos -- decided publicly to confess their faith and suffer for Christ. As a sign of their voluntary deed they tied themselves together by the feet and appeared before the governor Urban. Seeing their youthfulness, the governor tried to persuade them to refrain from their decision, but in vain. He then threw them in prison, where there were already two Christians -- Agapios, undergoing tortures for faith in Christ, and his servant Dionysios. All these saints were subjected to terrible tortures and beheaded.

The Holy Martyr Alexander

Alexander was from the city of Side in Pamphylia. A deputy of the Emperor Aurelius asked Alexander, "Who are you and what are you?" To that, Alexander replied that, he is a shepherd of the flock of Christ." "And where is this flock of Christ?," further inquired the wicked and suspicious governor. Alexander replied, "Throughout the entire world where men live whom Christ the God created, and among those who believe in Him, they are His sheep. But all who are fallen away from their Creator and are slaves to creation, to man-made things and to dead idols, such as you, are estranged from His flock. At the dreadful judgment of God, they will be placed on the left with the goats." The wicked judge then ordered that Alexander, first of all, be beaten with oxen straps and then thrown into a fiery furnace. But the fire did not harm him in any way. After that, he was skinned and was thrown to the wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch him. Finally, the deputy ordered thatAlexander be beheaded. Just as soon as the judge pronounced the sentence, he became possessed by an evil spirit and went insane. Howling, the judge was led before his god-idol and on the way, his evil soul was wrenched from him. St. Alexander suffered between the years 270 - 275 A.D.

The Holy Martyr Nikander

The Holy Martyr Nikander suffered in Egypt under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). He was a physician and during the time of the persecution he visited Christians locked up in prison, he rendered them help, brought them food, and buried the dead.

One time he came to the place where the bodies of killed martyrs were thrown for devouring by wild beasts. Fearing to bury them by day, he waited for night and under cover of darkness buried the bodies. They discovered Saint Nikander and subjected him to terrible tortures: they skinned him alive and then beheaded him (+ c. 302).

The Holy Martyr Manuel of Crete

The Holy Martyr Manuel of Crete in his childhood was taken into captivity by the Turks, who converted him to Mahometanism. Having grown up, the saint returned to Christ, confessed his faith in Him, and was beheaded on the island of Chios in the year 1792.

March 16

The Monk Christodoulos the WonderWorker

The Monk Christodoulos the WonderWorker was a native of Bythnian Nicea. At first he pursued asceticism as a monk on Mount Latra in Bythnia, and afterwards he was hegumen of a monastery on the island of Cos. In the year 1089 the monk requested the emperor Alexis Comnena to grant his monastery the island of Patmos in return for the land on the island of Cos and at the shores of Caria. The monk established a monastery on a mountain near the cave where, according to tradition, the holy Apostle John the Theologian wrote the Apocalypse during the years 68-69. In the year 1110 the monk was forced to flee from Patmos together with his disciples to the island of Eubeios because of raidings by sea robbers. He died there in the year 1111. His disciples took his relics to the island of Patmos.

The Holy Martyrs Trophymos and Phalos

The Holy Martyrs Trophymos and Phalos, by birth brothers and presbyters, served in Carian Laodiceia. During the time of a persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) and his co-emperor Maximian (284-305), the brothers were taken under guard and brought before the governor Asclepiodotos. He ordered the holy brothers to be beaten with stones, but the stones, which they threw at the saints, flew back again and struck those that threw them. After a second interrogation the holy brothers were sentenced to crucifixion. Going to execution, they glorified God in that they were found worthy of the Saviour's death on a cross. The wondrous witnesses to God hanging on crosses continued their preaching, and their brave mother stood at the foot of the crosses. A certain Jewess, having bowed to the saints, cried out: "Blessed is the mother, having given birth to such sons". When the martyrs gave up their spirits to God, the prison guard said that he saw the souls of the holy brothers being carried upwards to heaven in the company of three Angels. All night the people stayed with the bodies of the holy martyrs. And in the morning the wife of the torturer Asclepiodotos came to the place of execution with her perfumed bejeweled veil. She told the people, that she saw by night in a dream the holy martyrs and the Angels, sent for the punishment of her husband.

The mother of the martyrs and two christians, by the names of Zosima and Artemon, buried the holy brothers in their native city of Stratonika. The torturer Asclepiodotos soon fell ill and died an horrible death.

Serapion of Novgorod

Serapion was from the village of Pekhorka (now Pekhra-Pokrovskoye within Balashikha in the Moscow Oblast). After his marriage he was ordained a priest, but was widowed after a year. He was tonsured a monk at the Dubensky Dormition Monastery in Vladimir province with the name Serapion, where he went on to be the igumen. Subsequently, he was igumen of the Stromynsky Dormition Monastery before becoming the igumen of Trinity Monastery in 1495, that later became known as Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra.

On the initiative of Grand Prince Basil III of Moscow, Igumen Serapion was consecrated and enthroned as Archbishop of Novgorod and Pskov on January 15, 1506, although he had refused the position.

After becoming Archbishop of Novgorod, Abp. Serapion became involved with Joseph of Volokolamsk who had become prominent for his involvement in the defense against the heresy of the Judaizers and the dispute concerning property ownership by monasteries. Joseph became a supporter of Prince Basil III. In 1507, Joseph transferred the Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery to the patronage of the prince while he was under Serapion's episcopal jurisdiction, an act for which Serapion deprived Joseph of his blessing and excommunicated him. Joseph directly appealed his dispute with Serapion to Simon, the Metropolitan of Moscow. This was an act that Serapion deemed to be anti-canonical. In May 1509, at the sobor that considered the conflict between the two, Serapion actions were seen by Basil III as a disapproval of their actions, and Serapion was found at fault. He was released from his see, and exiled to a heavy imprisonment at the Andronikov Monastery. In 1511, he was released from Andronikov and spent the rest of his life at Trinity Monastery. Abp. Serapion suffered his imprisonment that denied him not only his dignity but even his monastic mantle with great humility and patience. Having made peace with everyone and obtained the schema, Abp. Serapion reposed on March 16, 1516. After his death, the See of Novgorod remained vacant until 1526.

The Holy Martyr Sabinus

The Holy Martyr Sabinus was administrator of the Egyptian city of Hermopolis. During a persecution of Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), St Sabinus and some like-minded companions hid in a remote village.

His hiding place was revealed by a certain ungrateful beggar who had brought him food. The saint used to feed him and help him with money, but the man betrayed him for two pieces of gold. Sabinus was seized with six other Christians, and after torture they were all drowned in the Nile in 287.

March 17

St. Alexis, The Man of God

The Monk Alexis was born at Rome into the family of the pious and poverty-loving Eufimian and Aglaida. The spouses were for a long time childless and constantly prayed the Lord for granting them a child. And the Lord consoled the couple with the birth of their son Alexis. At six years of age the lad began to read and successfully studied the mundane sciences, but it was with particular diligence that he read Holy Scripture. Having grown into a young man, he began to imitate his parents: he fasted strictly, distributed alms and beneathe fine clothing he secretly wore an hair-shirt. Early on there burned within him the desire to leave the world and serve the One God. But his parents had prepared for Alexis to marry, and when he attained mature age, they found him a bride.

After the betrothal, having been left alone of an evening with his betrothed, Alexis took a ring from his finger, gave it to her and said: "Keep this, and may the Lord be with us, by His grace providing us new life". And going himself secretly from his home, he got on a ship sailing for Mesopotamia.

Having come to the city of Edessa, -- where the Image of the Lord "Not-made-by-Hand" was preserved, Alexis sold everything that he had, distributed the money to the poor and began to live nearby the church of the MostHoly Mother of God under a portico and survived on alms. The monk ate only bread and water, and the alms that he received he distributed to the aged and infirm. Each Sunday he communed the Holy Mysteries.

The parents sought everywhere for the missing Alexis, but without success. The servants, sent by Eufimian upon the search, arrived also in Edessa, but they did not recognise in the beggar sitting at the portico, -- their master. His body was withered by strict fasting, his comeliness vanished, his stature diminished. The saint recognised them and gave thanks to the Lord that he received alms from his servants.

The unconsolable mother of Saint Alexis confined herself in her room, incessantly praying for her son. And his wife grieved together with her in-laws.

The monk dwelt in Edessa for seventeen years. One time it was revealed about him to the sexton of the church, at which the monk asceticised: the Mother of God through Her holy icon commanded: "Lead into My church that man of God, worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven; his prayer doth ascend to God, like unto fragrant incense, and the Holy Spirit doth rest upon him". The sexton began to search for such a man, but for a long while was not able to find him. Then with prayer he turned to the MostHoly Mother of God, beseeching Her to clear up his confusion. And again there was a voice from the icon proclaiming, that the man of God was that beggar, who sat in the church portico. The sexton found Saint Alexis and took him into the church. Many recognised and began to praise him. The saint, shunning fame, went secretly on a ship, journeying to Cilicia. But the Fore-Knowledge of God destined otherwise: a storm took the ship far off to the West and it arrived at the coast of Italy. The saint journeyed to Rome. Unrecognised, he humbly besought of his father permission to settle in some corner of his courtyard. Eufimian settled Alexis in a specially constructed lodging near the entrance of the house and gave orders to feed him from his table.

Living at his parental home, the saint continued to fast and he spent day and night at prayer. He humbly endured the insults and jeering from the servants of his father. The room of Alexis was situated opposite the windows of his betrothed, and the ascetic suffered grievously, hearing her weeping. Only immeasurable love for God helped the saint endure this torment. Saint Alexis dwelt at the house of his parents for seventeen years and was informed by the Lord about the day of his death. Then the saint, taking parchment, wrote about his life, asking the forgiveness of his parents and betrothed.

On the day of the death of saint Alexis, the Roman Pope Innocentius (402-417) was serving Liturgy in the presence of the emperor Honorius (395-423). During the time of services there was heard from the altar a miraculous Voice: "Come unto Me, all ye who labour and art heavy-burdened, and I wilt grant you respite" (Mt 11: 28). All those present fell to the ground in trembling. The Voice continued: "Find the man of God, departing unto life eternal, and have him pray for the city". They began to search through all of Rome, but they did not find the saint. From Thursday into Friday the Pope, making the all-night vigil, besought the Lord to point out the saint of God. After Liturgy again was heard the Voice in the temple: "Seek the man of God in the house of Eufimian". All hastened thither, but the saint was already dead. His face shown like the face of an Angel, and in his hand was clasped the parchment, which he did not let go of, nor were they able to take it. They placed the body of the saint on a cot, covered with costly coverings. The Pope and the emperor bent their knees and turned to the saint, as to one yet alive, asking to open up his hand. And the saint fulfilled their prayer. When the letter was read, the father and mother and betrothed of the righteous one tearfully venerated his holy remains.

The body of the saint, from which began to be worked healings, was put amidst the square. The emperor and the Pope themselves carried the body of the saint into the church, where it was situated for a whole week, and then was placed in a marble crypt. From the holy relics there began to flow fragrant myrh, bestowing healing unto the sick.

The venerable remains of Saint Alexis, man of God, were buried in the church of Saint Boniface. In the year 1216 the relics were opened.

The Monk Makarii of Kalyazinsk

The Monk Makarii of Kalyazinsk (in the world Matfei) was born in 1400 in the village of Gribkovo (Kozhino), near the city of Kashin, into the family of the boyar Vasilii Kozha. From youth he yearned after monasticism, but at the will of his parents he married. After a year his parents died, and after three years more reposed also his wife Elena. Having nothing that would bind him to his former life, Matfei was vowed a monk at the Nikolaev Klobukovsk monastery. Out of love for solitude he left the city monastery and together with 7 monks he found a place 18 versts from Kashin amidst two lakes near the Volga. Here the monk raised up a cross and founded a solitary wilderness monastery. The boyar Ivan Kolyaga, to whom the nearby lands belonged, began to fear that a monastery would grow up, which would begin to cultivate the wastelands. The enemy of salvation planted in the boyar such spite and enmity, that he decided to kill the saint. But suddenly a grievous illness befell him. Fear of the nearness of death awakened repentance in the boyar. The sick Kolyaga gave orders to carry him to the monk and at his feet told about his evil intent and asked forgiveness. "God forgive thee", -- answered the humble ascetic. Wishing to expiate his sin and striving to help the monk, the boyar gave away his lands to the growing monastery. The monks erected a temple in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity. The talk that spread round about of the conversion of the boyar Kolyaga brought unto the monk many, seeking salvation. It became necessary to choose an hegumen. The monk Makarii was then already no less than 53 years of age, but he considered himself unworthy of this dignity and he asked each of those older coming to him to accept being priest and hegumen. But yielding to the common will, the monk was made hegumen by the Tver' bishop Moisei*. (* The successor of Bishop Moisei upon the cathedra was the brother by birth of the Monk Makarii -- Bishop Gennadii (Kozhin) (1460-1477). Famed for sanctity was also the nephew of the Monk Makarii -- the Monk Paisii of Uglich (+ 1504; Comm. on 8 January and 6 June). At the Kalyazinsk monastery was preserved an anthology of sermons of Sainted Gregory the Theologian, copied by him.).

The new hegumen prepared with long solitary prayer for his first service at the altar of God, and then communed all the brethren with the Holy Mysteries. In the dignity of hegumen, the monk Makarii laboured at guidance with all the brethren. Afterwards there were preserved at the monastery 2 chalices, a paten and 2 scutellae (plates -- bliuda), fashioned by the monk Makarii on a lathe. He guided not only the monks, but also laypeople coming to the monastery, equally dealing with both the knowledgeable and the simple. Despite his origin and position of hegumen, the monk wore scrawny, frayed and patched clothing. In his mannerism and all his way of life the Monk Makarii was so simple, that the haughty heretic, prince-monk Vassian, sneeringly called him the "Kalyazinsk peasant". The monk himself love more to hear mockery about himself than praise. He went often to the solitary places, so as to take delight in the desired aloneness with nature. Wild animals, sensing his gentleness, sometimes took food from him.

The spiritual visage of the Monk Makarii was close to the spiritual visage of the Monk Paphnutii of Borovsk (+ 1 May 1477). Not by chance did the disciple of the Monk Paphnutii -- the Monk Joseph of Volotsk (+ 9 September 1515) -- visit the Monk Makarii in 1478 and write down his account about him: "When I arrived at this place, -- said the monk Makarii of Kalyazinsk, -- there came with me seven elders from the monastery of Klobukovsk. They were so excellent in virtues, fasting and monastic life, that all the brethren came to them to receive instruction and benefit. They enlightened all and taught for their benefit: they affirmed the living in the virtues, and those inclined to misconduct they restrained with censure, and neither did they connive to do their own will". The humble hegumen was however silent about his own efforts. But they were not hid from the insight of the monk Joseph. Perceiving the holiness of the hegumen, he accounted him blessed and told about the life of the monastery: "Such piety and decorum were in that monastery, whereof everything was done in harmony with the patristic and communal traditions, that even the great starets (elder) Mitrophan Byval'tsev was amazed. He had then come from Holy Mount Athos, where he spent 9 years, and said to the brethren: "In vain and without success did I take such a path to the Holy Mountain missing the Kolyazinsk monastery. Indeed it is possible for the living to find salvation in it: here everything is done similar like in the coenobic ("koino-biotic" or communal monasteries) of the Holy Mountain".

From the moment when the monk Makarii settled in the wilderness, he did not take leave of his strict rule through old age. Already during his life the monk repeatedly healed the paralysed and the demon-afflicted. The monk reposed on 17 March 1483. At the time of his death they found on him heavy chains, about which no one knew. The undecayed relics of the monk Makarii were uncovered on 26 May 1521 during the digging of ditches for a new church. A Council of 1547 established his local festal celebration.

St. Patrick, Bishop of Armagh, The Apostle of Ireland

Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland, was born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387; died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, 17 March, 493. Some sources say 460 or 461.

He had for his parents Calphurnius and Conchessa. The former belonged to a Roman family of high rank and held the office of decurio in Gaul or Britain. Conchessa was a near relative of the great patron of Gaul, St. Martin of Tours. Kilpatrick still retains many memorials of Saint Patrick, and frequent pilgrimages continued far into the Middle Ages to perpetuate there the fame of his sanctity and miracles.

In his sixteenth year, Patrick was carried off into captivity by Irish marauders and was sold as a slave to a chieftan named Milchu in Dalriada, a territory of the present county of Antrim in Ireland, where for six years he tended his master's flocks in the valley of the Braid and on the slopes of Slemish, near the modern town of Ballymena. He relates in his "Confessio" that during his captivity while tending the flocks he prayed many times in the day: "the love of God", he added, and His fear increased in me more and more, and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain; nor was there any slothfulness in me, such as I see now, because the spirit was then fervent within me.

In the ways of a benign Providence the six years of Patrick's captivity became a remote preparation for his future apostolate. He acquired a perfect knowledge of the Celtic tongue in which he would one day announce the glad tidings of Redemption, and, as his master Milchu was a druidical high priest, he became familiar with all the details of Druidism from whose bondage he was destined to liberate the Irish race.

Admonished by an angel he after six years fled from his cruel master and bent his steps towards the west. He relates in his "Confessio" that he had to travel about 200 miles; and his journey was probably towards Killala Bay and onwards thence to Westport. He found a ship ready to set sail and after some rebuffs was allowed on board. In a few days he was among his friends once more in Britain, but now his heart was set on devoting himself to the service of God in the sacred ministry. We meet with him at St. Martin's monastery at Tours, and again at the island sanctuary of Lérins which was just then acquiring widespread renown for learning and piety; and wherever lessons of heroic perfection in the exercise of Christian life could be acquired, thither the fervent Patrick was sure to bend his steps. No sooner had St. Germain entered on his great mission at Auxerre than Patrick put himself under his guidance, and it was at that great bishop's hands that Ireland's future apostle was a few years later promoted to the priesthood. It is the tradition in the territory of the Morini that Patrick under St. Germain's guidance for some years was engaged in missionary work among them. When Germain commissioned by the Holy See proceeded to Britain to combat the erroneous teachings of Pelagius, he chose Patrick to be one of his missionary companions and thus it was his privilege to be associated with the representative of Rome in the triumphs that ensued over heresy and Paganism, and in the many remarkable events of the expedition, such as the miraculous calming of the tempest at sea, the visit to the relics at St. Alban's shrine, and the Alleluia victory. Amid all these scenes, however, Patrick's thoughts turned towards Ireland, and from time to time he was favoured with visions of the children from Focluth, by the Western sea, who cried to him: "O holy youth, come back to Erin, and walk once more amongst us."

Pope St. Celestine I, who rendered immortal service to the Church by the overthrow of the Pelagian and Nestorian heresies, and by the imperishable wreath of honour decreed to the Blessed Virgin in the General Council of Ephesus, crowned his pontificate by an act of the most far-reaching consequences for the spread of Christianity and civilization, when he entrusted St. Patrick with the mission of gathering the Irish race into the one fold of Christ. Palladius had already received that commission, but terrified by the fierce opposition of a Wicklow chieftain had abandoned the sacred enterprise. It was St. Germain, Bishop of Auxerre, who commended Patrick to the pope. The writer of St. Germain's Life in the ninth century, Heric of Auxerre, thus attests this important fact: "Since the glory of the father shines in the training of the children, of the many sons in Christ whom St. Germain is believed to have had as disciples in religion, let it suffice to make mention here, very briefly, of one most famous, Patrick, the special Apostle of the Irish nation, as the record of his work proves. Subject to that most holy discipleship for 18 years, he drank in no little knowledge in Holy Scripture from the stream of so great a well-spring. Germain sent him, accompanied by Segetius, his priest, to Celestine, Pope of Rome, approved of by whose judgement, supported by whose authority, and strengthened by whose blessing, he went on his way to Ireland." It was only shortly before his death that Celestine gave this mission to Ireland's apostle and on that occasion bestowed on him many relics and other spiritual gifts, and gave him the name "Patercius" or "Patritius", not as an honorary title, but as a foreshadowing of the fruitfulness and merit of his apostolate whereby he became pater civium (the father of his people). Patrick on his return journey from Rome received at Ivrea the tidings of the death of Palladius, and turning aside to the neighboring city of Turin received episcopal consecration at the hands of its great bishop, St. Maximus, and thence hastened on to Auxerre to make under the guidance of St. Germain due preparations for the Irish mission.

It was probably in the summer months of the year 433, that Patrick and his companions landed at the mouth of the Vantry River close by Wicklow Head. The Druids were at once in arms against him. But Patrick was not disheartened. The intrepid missionary resolved to search out a more friendly territory in which to enter on his mission. First of all, however, he would proceed towards Dalriada, where he had been a slave, to pay the price of ransom to his former master, and in exchange for the servitude and cruelty endured at his hands to impart to him the blessings and freedom of God's children. He rested for some days at the islands off the Skerries coast, one of which still retains the name of Inis-Patrick, and he probably visited the adjoining mainland, which in olden times was known as Holm Patrick. Tradition fondly points out the impression of St. Patrick's foot upon the hard rock — off the main shore, at the entrance to Skerries harbour. Continuing his course northwards he halted at the mouth of the River Boyne. A number of the natives there gathered around him and heard with joy in their own sweet tongue the glad tidings of Redemption. There too he performed his first miracle on Irish soil to confirm the honour due to the Blessed Virgin, and the Divine birth of our Saviour. Leaving one of his companions to continue the work of instruction so auspiciously begun, he hastened forward to Strangford Loughand there quitting his boat continued his journey over land towards Slemish. He had not proceeded far when a chieftain, named Dichu, appeared on the scene to prevent his further advance. He drew his sword to smite the saint, but his arm became rigid as a statue and continued so until he declared himself obedient to Patrick. Overcome by the saint's meekness and miracles, Dichu asked for instruction and made a gift of a large sabhall (barn), in which the sacred mysteries were offered up. This was the first sanctuary dedicated by St. Patrick in Erin. It became in later years a chosen retreat of the saint. A monastery and church were erected there, and the hallowed site retains the name Sabhall (pronounced Saul) to the present day. Continuing his journey towards Slemish, the saint was struck with horror on seeing at a distance the fort of his old master Milchu enveloped in flames. The fame of Patrick's marvelous power of miracles preceeded him. Milchu, in a fit of frenzy, gathered his treasures into his mansion and setting it on fire, cast himself into the flames. An ancient record adds: "His pride could not endure the thought of being vanquished by his former slave".

Returning to Saul, St. Patrick learned from Dichu that the chieftains of Erin had been summoned to celebrate a special feast at Tara by Leoghaire, who was the Ard-Righ, that is, the Supreme Monarch of Ireland. This was an opportunity which Patrick would not forego; he would present himself before the assembly, to strike a decisive blow against the Druidism that held the nation captive, and to secure freedom for the glad tidings of Redemption of which he was the herald. As he journeyed on he rested for some days at the house of a chieftain named Secsnen, who with his household joyfully embraced the Faith. The youthful Benen, or Benignus, son of the chief, was in a special way captivated by the Gospel doctrines and the meekness of Patrick. Whilst the saint slumbered he would gather sweet-scented flowers and scatter them over his bosom, and when Patrick was setting out, continuing his journey towards Tara, Benen clung to his feet declaring that nothing would sever him from him. "Allow him to have his way", said St. Patrick to the chieftain, "he shall be heir to my sacred mission." Thenceforth Benen was the inseparable companion of the saint, and the prophecy was fulfilled, for Benen is named among the "comhards" or sucessors of St. Patrick in Armagh.

It was on 26 March, Easter Sunday, in 433, that the eventful assembly was to meet at Tara, and the decree went forth that from the preceeding day the fires throughout the kingdom should be extinguished until the signal blaze was kindled at the royal mansion. The chiefs and Brehons came in full numbers and the druids too would muster all their strength to bid defiance to the herald of good tidings and to secure the hold of their superstition on the Celtic race, for their demoniac oracles had announced that the messenger of Christ had come to Erin. St. Patrick arrived at the hill of Slane, at the opposite extremity of the valley from Tara, on Easter Eve, in that year the feast of the Annunciation, and on the summit of the hill kindled the Paschal fire. The druids at once raised their voice. "O King", (they said) "live for ever; this fire, which has been lighted in defiance of the royal edict, will blaze for ever in this land unless it be this very night extinguished." By order of the king and the agency of the druids, repeated attempts were made to extinguish the blessed fire and to punish with death the intruder who had disobeyed the royal command. But the fire was not extinguished and Patrick shielded by the Divine power came unscathed from their snares and assaults. On Easter Day the missionary band having at their head the youth Benignus bearing aloft a copy of the Gospels, and followed by St. Patrick who with mitre and crozier was arrayed in full episcopal attire, proceeded in processional order to Tara. The druids and magicians put forth all their strength and employed all their incantations to maintain their sway over the Irish race, but the prayer and faith of Patrick achieved a glorious triumph. The druids by their incantations overspread the hill and surrounding plain with a cloud of worse than Egyptian darkness. Patrick defied them to remove that cloud, and when all their efforts were made in vain, at his prayer the sun sent forth its rays and the brightest sunshine lit up the scene. Again by demoniac power the Arch-Druid Lochru, like Simon Magus of old, was lifted up high in the air, but when Patrick knelt in prayer the druid from his flight was dashed to pieces upon a rock.

Thus was the final blow given to paganism in the presence of all the assembled chieftains. It was, indeed, a momentous day for the Irish race. Twice Patrick pleaded for the Faith before Leoghaire. The king had given orders that no sign of respect was to be extended to the strangers, but at the first meeting the youthful Erc, a royal page, arose to show him reverence; and at the second, when all the chieftains were assembled, the chief-bard Dubhtach showed the same honour to the saint. Both these heroic men became fervent disciples of the Faith and bright ornaments of the Irish Church. It was on this second solemn occasion that St. Patrick is said to have plucked a shamrock from the sward, to explain by its triple leaf and single stem, in some rough way, to the assembled chieftains, the great doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. On that bright Easter Day, the triumph of religion at Tara was complete. The Ard-Righ granted permission to Patrick to preach the Faith throughout the length and breadth of Erin, and the druidical prophecy like the words of Balaam of old would be fulfilled: the sacred fire now kindled by the saint would never be extinguished.

Saint Gertrude of Nivelles

Saint Gertrude of Nivelles (626 – March 17, 659) was abbess of the Benedictine monastery of Nivelles, in present-day Belgium. She was a daughter of Pepin I of Landen and Saint Itta, and a younger sister of Saint Begga, Abbess of Andenne, Saint Bavo and Grimoald I.

One day, when she was about ten years of age, her father invited Dagobert I and some noblemen to a banquet. When on this occasion she was asked to marry the son of the Duke of Austrasia she indignantly replied that she would marry neither him nor any other man, but that Jesus Christ alone would be her bridegroom.

After the death of her father in 640, her mother Itta, following the advice of Saint Amand, Bishop of Maestricht, erected a double monastery at Nivelles. She appointed her daughter Gertrude as its first abbess, while she herself lived there as a nun, assisting the young abbess by her advice. Among the numerous pilgrims that visited the monastery of Nivelles, there were the two brothers St. Foillan and St. Ultan, both of whom were Irish monks who had lived c.633-651 in East Anglia, and were now on their way from Rome to Peronne[disambiguation needed ], where their brother St. Furseus, lay buried. Gertrude and her mother gave them a tract of land called Fosse on which they built a monastery. Ultan was made superior of the new house, while Follian remained at Nivelles, instructing the monks and nuns in Holy Scripture, and was later murdered there by bandits.

After the death of Itta in 652, Gertrude entrusted the interior management of her monastery to a few pious nuns, and appointed some capable monks to attend to the outer affairs, in order that she might gain more time for the study of Holy Scripture, which she almost knew by heart. The large property left by her mother she used for building churches, monasteries and hospices. At the age of thirty-two she became so weak through her continuous abstinence from food and sleep that she found it necessary to resign her office. After taking the advice of her monks and nuns, she appointed her niece, Wulfetrude, as her successor, in December, 658. A day before her death she sent one of the monks to St. Ultan at Fosse to ask whether God had made known to him the hour of her death. The saint answered that she would die the following day during Holy Mass. The prophecy was verified. She was venerated as a saint immediately after her death, and a church was erected in her honour by Agnes, the third Abbess of Nivelles.

The towns of Beverst (Belgium), Geertruidenberg (Breda) and Bergen-op-Zoom in North Brabant honour her as patron. She is also patron of travellers, and is invoked against fever, rats, and mice, particularly field-mice. There is a legend that one day she sent some of her subjects to a distant country, promising that no misfortune would befall them on the journey. When they were on the ocean, a large sea-monster threatened to capsize their ship, but disappeared upon the invocation of St. Gertrude. In memory of this occurrence travellers during the Middle Ages drank the so-called "Sinte Geerts Minne" or "Gertrudenminte" before setting out on their journey. St. Gertrude is generally represented as an abbess, with rats and mice at her feet or running up her cloak or pastoral staff.

March 18

Saint Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem

Saint Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem, was born in Jerusalem in the year 315 and was raised in strict Christian piety. Having reached the age of maturity, he became a monk, and in the year 346 he became a presbyter. In the year 350, upon the death of archbishop Maximos, he succeeded him upon the Jerusalem cathedra-seat.

In the dignity of Patriarch of Jerusalem, Saint Cyril zealously fought against the heresies of Arius and Macedonias. In doing so, he brought upon himself the animosity of the Arianising bishops, who sought to have him deposed and banished from Jerusalem.

In the year 351 at Jerusalem, on the feastday of Pentecost at the 3rd hour of the day, there occurred a miraculous portent: the Holy Cross appeared in the heavens, shining with a radiant light. It stretched forth from Golgotha over the Mount of Olives. Saint Cyril reported about this portent to the Arian emperor Constantius (351-363), hoping to convert him to Orthodoxy.

The heretic Akakios -- deposed by the Council of Sardica, was formerly the metropolitan of Caesarea, and in collaboration with the emperor he resolved to have Saint Cyril removed. An intense famine struck Jerusalem, and Saint Cyril went through all his own wealth on acts of charity. But since the famine did not abate, the saint began to pawn off church items, buying on the money in exchange wheat for the starving. The enemies of the saint mongered about a scandalous rumour, that they had apparently seen a woman in the city dancing around in clergy garb. And taking advantage of this rumour, the heretics by force threw out the saint.

The saint found shelter with bishop Siluan in Tarsus. After this, a Local Council gathered at Seleucia, at which there were about 150 bishops, and among them Saint Cyril. The heretical metropolitan Akakios did not want to allow him to take a seat, but the Council would not consent to this. Akakios thereupon quit the Council and in front of the emperor and the Arian patriarch Eudoxios he denounced both the Council and Saint Cyril. The emperor had the saint imprisoned.

When the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) ascended the throne, seemingly out of piety he repealed all the decrees of Constantius, directed against the Orthodox. Saint Cyril returned to his own flock. But after a certain while, when Julian had become secure upon the throne, he openly apostacised and renounced Christ. He permitted the Jews to start rebuilding the Jerusalem Temple that had been destroyed by the Romans, and he even provided them a portion of the means for the building from state monies. Saint Cyril predicted, that the words of the Saviour about the destruction of the Temple down to its very stones (Lk. 21: 6) would undoubtedly transpire, and the blasphemous intent of Julian would come to naught. And thus one time there occurred such a powerful earthquake, that even the solidly set foundation of the ancient Solomon Temple shifted in its place, and what had been erected anew fell down and shattered in dust. When the Jews nevertheless started construction anew, a fire came down from the heavens and destroyed the tools of the workmen. Great terror seized everyone. And on the following night there appeared on the garb of the Jews the Sign of the Cross, which they by no means could extirpate.

After this Heavenly confirmation of the prediction of Saint Cyril, they banished him again, and the cathedra-seat was occupied by Saint Kyriakos. But Saint Kyriakos soon suffered a martyr's death (+ 363, Comm. 28 October).

After the emperor Julian perished in 363, Saint Cyril returned to his cathedra-seat, but during the reign of the emperor Valens (364-378) he was sent into exile for a third time. It was only under the holy emperor Saint Theodosius the Great (379-395) that he finally returned to his archpastoral activity. In the year 381 Saint Cyril participated in the Second Ecumenical Council, which condemned the heresy of Macedonias and affirmed the Nicea-Constantinople Credal-Symbol of Faith.

Of the works of Saint Cyril, particularly known are 23 Instructions (18 are Catechetical for those preparing to accept Holy Baptism, and 5 are for the newly-baptised) and 2 Discourses on Gospel themes: "About the Paralytic" and "Concerning the Transformation of Water into Wine at Cana".

At the basis of the Catechetical Instructions is a detailed explanation of the Symbol of Faith. The saint suggests that the Christian should inscribe the Symbol of Faith upon "the tablets of the heart". "The articles of the faith, -- teaches Saint Cyril, -- were compiled not through human cleverness, but has therein gathered everything most important from all the entire Scripture, and as such it is compiled into a single teaching of faith. Just as the mustard seed within its small kernel has within it contained all its plethora of branches, thus precisely also does the faith in its several declarations combine all the pious teachings of the Old and the New Testaments".

Saint Cyril died in the year 386.

The Holy Martyrs Trophymos and Eukarpios

The Holy Martyrs Trophymos and Eukarpios were soldiers at Nicomedia during the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They distinguished themselves by their great ferocity in carrying out all the decrees of the emperor. One time, when these soldiers had caught up with some Christians, they suddenly saw a large fiery cloud which had come down from the sky, thickening in form nigh close to them. From out of the cloud came forth the Voice: "Why are ye so zealous in threatening My servants? Be not deluded: no one by their own powers can suppress those believing in Me, but better it is to join unto them and discover yourselves the Heavenly Kingdom". The soldiers in fright fell to the ground, not daring to lift up their eyes, and only said each to the other: "Truly it is the great God, manifest now unto us. We would do well to become His servants". The Lord then spake saying: "Rise up, repent, for unto ye is forgiveness of your sins". Having gotten up, they beheld within the cloud the image of a Radiant Man and a great multitude standing about Him. The astonished soldiers with one voice cried out: "Receive us, for our sins be inexpressibly wicked. No other is there a God besides Thee, the Creator and One True God, and we are not yet conjoined with Thine servants". But just as they spoke this, the cloud receded and rose up to the sky. Spiritually reborn after this miracle, the soldiers released all the incarcerated Christians from the prisons. For this Saints Trophymos and Eukarpios were handed over to terrible torments: they suspended the saints and tore at their bodies with iron hooks. They in prayer gave thanks unto God, in firm belief that the Lord would forgive them their former grievous sins. And when there was lighted up a bon-fire, the holy martyrs went willingly into the fire and there gave up their souls to God.

The Monk Aninos the Monastic

The Monk Aninos the Monastic was born at Chalcedon into a Christian family. After the death of his parents, he withdrew at age fifteen into a monastery, where he received monastic tonsure. In search of complete quietude he went off into the depths of the wilderness, where the River Euphrates separates Syria from Persia. There he came upon an elder named Maium and settled together with him. Both ascetics led a very strict life. During the whole Forty-Day Great Lent they ate nothing, taking delight and joy instead in spiritual nourishment.

Saint Aninos every day carried drinking water from afar. One time he returned with full water pitchers earlier than usual, since an Angel had filled the vessels with water. the elder Maium realised, that his student had attained to high spiritual accomplishment, and he in turn besought Saint Aninos to become his guide, but that one out of humility refused. Afterwards the elder re-settled into a monastery, and Saint Aninos remained alone in the wilderness.

By constant exertions the saint conquered the passions within himself, and he was granted gifts of healing and perspicacity. Even the wild beasts became docile and served him. Wherever the saint went, two lions followed after him, one of which he had healed of an hurt on the paw. Accounts about the saint spread throughout all the surrounding area, and the sick and those afflicted by evil spirits began to come to him, seeking healing. Several students likewise gathered around the saint. One time, in his seventeenth year as an ascetic, several men had come to the saint and asked for something to quench their thirst. Trusting on the power of God, the monk sent one of his disciples to a dried-up well. By a miracle of God this well filled up to its very top, and this water remained for many days. When the water ended, the monk did not dare to ask a miracle for himself, and by night he himself began to carry water from the Euphrates. The Neocaesarea bishop Patrikios repeatedly visited the monk and ordained him presbyter, although the humble ascetic was resolved not to accept the priestly dignity. And having learned, that the saint himself carried water from afar off, bishop Patrikios twice gave him donkeys, but the monk each time gave them away to the poor and continued to carry the water himself. Then the bishop gave orders to dig out a large well, which from time to time they filled, bringing donkeys from the city.

Saint Aninos discerned the desire of a certain pillar-dweller monk, asceticising afar off from him, to come down off his pillar and make a complaint in court against a robber, who had hurt him with a stone. Saint Aninos wrote a letter to the pillar-dweller, advising him not to carry out his intent. The letter of the monk was conveyed to the pillar-dweller by a trusty lion, and it brought him to his senses.

A certain pious woman, having fallen ill, set out to the Monk Aninos to ask prayers of him. Along the way a robber chanced upon her. Not finding any money on the woman, he decided to commit an act of violence and force her into sin. The woman called on the help of the monk and cried out: "Saint Aninos, help me!" Terror suddenly overcame the robber, and he let go the woman. Having continued on to the monk, the woman told him about everything and received healing. And the robber in repentance likewise came to the monk, accepted Baptism and tonsure as a monk. The spear, which he thrust into the ground, back when he had intended to commit his act of violence, grew up into a mighty oak.

At the extreme old age of 110 the saint foretold the time of his end, and he directed his successor as hegumen to gather the brethren.

Before his death Saint Aninos conversed with the holy Prophets Moses, Aaron and Or [or Hur: vide Ex. 24: 14], and with the words: "Lord, receive my soul", the saint expired to the Lord.

St. Edward the Martyr, King of England

St. Edward the Martyr was King of England, son to Edgar the Peaceful, and uncle to St. Edward the Confessor; b. about 962; d. 18 March, 979. His accession to the throne on his father's death, in 975, was opposed by a party headed by his stepmother, Queen Elfrida, who was bent on securing the crown for her own son Ethelred, then aged seven, in which she eventually was successful. Edward's claim, however, was supported by St. Dunstan and the clergy and by most of the nobles; and having been acknowledged by the Witan, he was crowned by St. Dunstan. Though only thirteen, the young king had already given promise of high sanctity, and during his brief reign of three years and a half won the affection of his people by his many virtues. His stepmother, who still cherished her treacherous designs, contrived at the last to bring about his death. Whilst hunting in Dorsetshire he happened (18 March, 979) to call at Corfe Castle where she lived. There, whilst drinking on horseback a glass of mead offered him at the castle gate, he was stabbed by an assassin in the bowels. He rode away, but soon fell from his horse, and being dragged by the stirrup was flung into a deep morass, where his body was revealed by a pillar of light. He was buried first at Wareham, whence three years later, his body, having been found entire, was translated to Shaftesbury Abbey by St. Dunstan and Earl Alfere of Mercia, who in Edgar's lifetime had been one of his chief opponents. Many miracles are said to have been obtained through his intercession. Elfrida, struck with repentance for her crimes, built the two monasteries of Wherwell and Ambresbury, in the first of which she ended her days in penance. The violence of St. Edward's end, joined to the fact that the party opposed to him had been that of the irreligious, whilst he himself had ever acted as defender of the Church, obtained for him the title of Martyr, which is given to him in all the old English calendars on 18 March, also in the Roman Martyrology.

Saint Nicholas of Zhicha

Saint Nicholas of Zhicha, "the Serbian Chrysostom," was born in Lelich in western Serbia on January 4, 1881 (December 23, 1880 O.S.). His parents were Dragomir and Katherine Velimirovich, who lived on a farm where they raised a large family. His pious mother was a major influence on his spiritual development, teaching him by word and especially by example. As a small child, Nicholas often walked three miles to the Chelije Monastery with his mother to attend services there.

Sickly as a child, Nicholas was not physically strong as an adult. He failed his physical requirements when he applied to the military academy, but his excellent academic qualifications allowed him to enter the St Sava Seminary in Belgrade, even before he finished preparatory school.

After graduating from the seminary in 1905, he earned doctoral degrees from the University of Berne in 1908, and from King's College, Oxford in 1909. When he returned home, he fell ill with dysentery. Vowing to serve God for the rest of his life if he recovered, he was tonsured at the Rakovica Monastery on December 20, 1909 and was also ordained to the holy priesthood.

In 1910 he went to study in Russia to prepare himself for a teaching position at the seminary in Belgrade. At the Theological Academy in St Petersburg, the Provost asked him why he had come. He replied, "I wanted to be a shepherd. As a child, I tended my father's sheep. Now that I am a man, I wish to tend the rational flock of my heavenly Father. I believe that is the way that has been shown to me." The Provost smiled, pleased by this response, then showed the young man to his quarters.

After completing his studies, he returned to Belgrade and taught philosophy, logic, history, and foreign languages at the seminary. He spoke seven languages, and this ability proved very useful to him throughout his life.

St. Nicholas was renowned for his sermons, which never lasted more than twenty minutes, and focused on just three main points. He taught people the theology of the Church in a language they could understand, and inspired them to repentance.

At the start of World War I, Archimandrite Nicholas was sent to England on a diplomatic mission to seek help in the struggle of the Serbs against Austria. His doctorate from Oxford gained him an invitation to speak at Westminster Abbey. He remained in England for three short months, but St Nicholas left a lasting impression on those who heard him. His writings "The Lord's Commandments," and "Meditations on the Lord's Prayer" impressed many in the Church of England.

Archimandrite Nicholas left England and went to America, where he proved to be a good ambassador for his nation and his Church.

The future saint returned to Serbia in 1919, where he was consecrated as Bishop of Zhicha, and was later transferred to Ochrid. The new hierarch assisted those who were suffering from the ravages of war by establishing orphanages and helping the poor.

Bishop Nicholas took over as leader of Bogomljcki Pokret, a popular movement for spiritual revival which encouraged people to pray and read the Bible. Under the bishop's direction, it also contributed to a renewal of monasticisml. Monasteries were restored and reopened, and this in turn revitalized the spiritual life of the Serbian people.

In 1921, Bishop Nicholas was invited to visit America again and spent two years as a missionary bishop. He gave more than a hundred talks in less than six months, raising funds for his orphanages. Over the next twenty years, he lectured in various churches and universities.

When Germany invaded Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941, Bishop Nicholas, a fearless critic of the Nazis, was arrested and confined in Ljubostir Vojlovici Monastery. In 1944, he and Patriarch Gavrilo were sent to the death camp at Dachau. There he witnessed many atrocities and was tortured himself. When American troops liberated the prisoners in May 1945, the patriarch returned to Yugoslavia, but Bishop Nicholas went to England.

The Communist leader Tito was just coming to power in Yugoslavia, where he persecuted the Church and crushed those who opposed him. Therefore, Bishop Nicholas believed he could serve the Serbian people more effectively by remaining abroad. He went to America in 1946, following a hectic schedule in spite of his health problems which were exacerbated by his time in Dachau. He taught for three years at St Sava's Seminary in Libertyville, IL before he settled at St Tikhon's Monastery in South Canaan, PA in 1951.

He taught at St Tikhon's and also served as the seminary's Dean and Rector. He was also a guest lecturer at St Vladimir's Seminary in NY, and at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY.

On Saturday March 17, 1956 Bishop Nicholas served his last Liturgy. After the service he went to the trapeza and gave a short talk. As he was leaving, he bowed low and said, "Forgive me, brothers." This was something unusual which he had not done before.

On March 18, 1956 St Nicholas fell asleep in the Lord Whom he had served throughout his life. He was found in his room kneeling in an attitude of prayer. Though he was buried at St Sava's Monastery in Libertyville, IL, he had always expressed a desire to be buried in his homeland. In April of 1991 his relics were transferred to the Chetinje Monastery in Lelich. There he was buried next to his friend and disciple Fr Justin Popovich (+ 1979).

English readers are familiar with St Nicholas's PROLOGUE FROM OCHRID, THE LIFE OF ST SAVA, A TREASURY OF SERBIAN SPIRITUALITY, and other writings which are of great benefit for the whole Church. He thought of his writings as silent sermons addressed to people who would never hear him preach. In his life and writings, the grace of the Holy Spirit shone forth for all to see, but in his humility he considered himself the least of men.

Though he was a native of Serbia, St Nicholas has a universal significance for Orthodox Christians in all countries. He was like a candle set upon a candlestick giving light to all (MT 5:15). A spiritual guide and teacher with a magnetic personality, he attracted many people to himself. He also loved them, seeing the image of God in each person he met. He had a special love for children, who hastened to receive his blessing whenever they saw him in the street.

He was a man of compunctionate prayer, and possessesed the gift of tears which purify the soul (St John Climacus, LADDER, Step 7). He was a true pastor to his flock protecting them from spiritual wolves, and guiding them on the path to salvation. He has left behind many soul-profiting writings which proclaim the truth of Christ to modern man. In them he exhorts people to love God, and to live a life of virtue and holiness. May we also be found worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven through the prayers of St Nicholas, and by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever. Amen.

The Monk Kirill (Cyril) of Astrakhan

The Monk Kirill (Cyril) of Astrakhan was archimandrite of the Trinity monastery in Astrakhan. He had been sent as hegumen to the newly-built monastery in the year 1568. The monk constructed at the monastery temples in honour of the MostHoly Trinity, the Entry of the MostHoly Mother of God into the Temple, and Saint Nicholas. He zealously concerned himself with the enlightening of the Astrakhan region, and by his meekness and piety he gained the respect of even the Mahometans, -- who called him the Kara-Daud (the Black David) in distinction from the holy Prophet King David. The monk died in about the year 1576. The icon of the saint was written in 1676 through a vow of Emel'yan Paphent'ev, whom the Monk Kirill had saved when he was drowning in the Volga. The Vita (Life of the saint was compiled in the year 1790, and a tropar and kondak to him is known. The Church established the feastday in memory of the Monk Kirill under 18 March [probably on the basis of his name-in-common with Saint Cyril of Jerusalem].

March 19

The Holy Martyrs Chrysanthus and Daria and those with them

The Holy Martyrs Chrysanthus and Daria and with them the Martyrs Claudius the Tribune with his wife Ilaria (Hilaria) and their sons Jason and Maurus, and Diodorus the Presbyter and Marianus the Deacon: Saint Chrysanthus came from a pagan family, and received a fine education. Among the books which came his way were those in which pagans discussed Christianity. But the youth wanted to read books written by Christians themselves. The youth finally managed to find books of the New Testament. The Holy Scripture enlightened the rational soul of the youth. He found the presbyter Carpothoras hiding away from persecution and received holy Baptism from him. After this he began openly to preach the Gospel. The father of the youth tried every which way to sway his son from Christianity and finally got him married off to the beauty Daria, a priestess of Pallas Athena. But Saint Chrysanthus managed to convert his wife to Christ, and the young couple by mutual agreement decided to lead celibate lives. After the death of the father they began to live in separate houses. Saint Chrysanthus gathered around him several youthful converts to Christ, and around Saint Daria gathered pious women.

Townspeople made complaint to the eparch Celerinus, that Saints Chrysanthus and Daria were preaching celibacy. Saint Chrysanthus was given over for torture to the tribune Claudius.

The torments however were not able to shake the bravery of the young martyr, since the power of God clearly aided him. Struck by this, the tribune Claudius himself came to believe in Christ and accepted holy Baptism together with his wife Ilaria and sons Jason and Maurus and all his household staff and soldiers. When news of this reached the emperor Numerian (283-284), he then commanded them all to be executed. The Tribune-Martyr Claudius was drowned in the sea, and his sons and soldiers were beheaded. Christians buried the bodies of the holy martyrs in a cave not far away, and Saint Ilaria constantly went there to pray. One time they followed her and led her off for torture. The saint asked that they give her several moments for prayer, at the end of which she died. A servant buried the saint in the cave alongside her sons.

The torturers sent Saint Daria off to an house of ill repute. But there also a lion sent by God protected her. All who tried to defile the saint were knocked to the ground by the lion, but leaving them alive. The martyress preached about Christ to them and converted them to the way of salvation.

They threw Saint Chrysanthus into a fetid pit, whither all the vulgar of the city were wont to throng. But an Heavenly Light shone on him, and in place of the stinking pit it was filled with fragrance.

Then the emperor Numerian gave orders to give Saints Chrysanthus and Daria over into the hands of the executioners. After tortures, the martyrs were buried alive in the ground.

In a cave, situated not far from the place of execution, Christians began to gather, honouring the day of the martyrdom of the saints. They celebrated Divine-services and communed the Holy Mysteries. Learning of this, the pagan authorities gave orders to seal the entrance to the cave, filled with those praying.

Thus in torments perished many a Christian, two of which are known of by name: the Martyrs Presbyter Diodorus and the Deacon Marianus.

The Monk Innokentii [Innocent] of Komel'sk and Vologda

The Monk Innokentii of Komel'sk and Vologda was born at Moscow, and was descended from the lineage of the Moscow princes Okhlyabinin. He became a monk in the monastery of the Monk Kirill of Belozersk (+ 9 June 1427), and was put under the guidance of the Monk Nil Sorsky (+ 1508, Comm. 7 May).

The Monks Innokentii and Nil wandered through the East visiting Palestine, Constantinople, and spent several years at the Athos monasteries. Having returned to Rus', the saints settled not in their original Kirillo-Belozersk monastery, but within solitary cells for monastic seclusion. Out of love for wilderness-life they then withdrew into the impassable forest at the River Sora, some 15 versts from the monastery. Here they erected a cross, dug out a well, and made themselves cells separately, after the manner of the skete wilderness-monasteries. With great toil a church was built on a marshy spot. The hermits led strict lives.

Foreseeing his own demise, the Monk Nil sent Saint Innokentii to the River Nurma and predicted to him: "God doth send thee there, and thy monastery shalt be one of life in common; my wilderness monastery after my death will remain such as it was during my life, with the brothers living separately each in his own cell".

Upon the death of the Monk Nil, his holy disciple withdrew into the Vologda hinterland and in 1491 he built a cell at the Rivulet Eda, which flows into the River Nurma. In a short while disciples began to gather to him. And following the final command of his teacher, the Monk Innokentii did not seek any donations for it.

The Monk Innokentii toiled for thirty years at building his monastery. On the basis of the works of the holy fathers and in particular the writings of the Monk Nil of Sorsk, he left behind an instruction for the brethren. The Monk Innokentii bid them first of all to avoid wrangling and disputes and asked them to preserve love for Christ and spiritual peace. The saint forbid young and beardless monks to be accepted and tonsured at his monastery, and he forbid entry to women at the monastery. In departing the monastery a monk lost his right to a cell, and if he returned, then he could occupy it only with the consent of the monastery head and the brethren. The monk asked that a future church be consecrated in the name of the great and holy John the Forerunner, Baptiser of the Lord, in remembrance of the Third Finding of Saint John the Baptist's Venerable Head (Comm. 25 May), since Saint John -- is a patron for all monks and wilderness dwellers (ultimately the monastery was called Transfiguration after its chief temple).

The Monk Innokentii died on 19 March 1521. In accord with his last wish he was buried in a corner of the monastery near a marsh. Upon his grave was placed a stone, inscribed with the year, month and day of his repose.

The Holy Martyr Pancharios

The Holy Martyr Pancharios was an official of the emperor Maximian (305-311). He abandoned Christianity and became a pagan. His mother and sister in learning of this sent him a letter, in which they urged the apostate to heed the fear of God and the impending dread Last Judgement. Having repented himself, Saint Pancharios openly confessed his faith before the emperor Maximian, for which he suffered torture at Rome, and then was dispatched to Nicomedia and there beheaded (+ c. 302).

March 20

The Monks John, Sergios, Patrikios and Others Murdered in the Monastery of Saint Sava

The Monks John, Sergios, Patrikios and Others Murdered in the Monastery of Saint Sava: During the VIII Century the surroundings of Jerusalem were subjected to frequent incursions of the Saracens. The monastery of Saint Chariton was devastated and fell into ruin. Twice the Saracens tried to plunder the Lavra monastery of Saint Sava the Sanctified, but Divine Providence protected the monastery. The Lavra monks would have been able to escape the barbarian incursions by going to Jerusalem, but they decided not to forsake the spot where they had sought salvation for so many a year.

At the end of Great Lent in the week before Palm Sunday, on 13 March, the Saracens broke into the monastery and demanded all the valuables be given them. Upon receiving the reply of the monks, that in the monastery was nothing besides a scant supply of food and old clothing, the Saracens began to shoot arrows at the monastery inhabitants. Thirteen men were killed and many wounded, and monastery cells were set afire. The Saracens intended also to torch the monastery church, but seeing in the distance a throng of people, they mistook this for an army force sent out from Jerusalem. The Saracens managed to get away, carrying off the little they had succeeded to plunder. After the enemy fled, Father Thomas, an experienced physician, began to render help to those remaining alive.

On Great Thursday, 20 March, the Saracens with a yet larger force again descended upon the Lavra and began to beat up the monks. Those remaining alive were driven into the church, so as to learn from them under torture where any treasure might be hidden. The monastery was surrounded, so that no one could save themself by fleeing. The barbarians seized hold of Saint John, a quite still young monk, who before had cared for the vagrant. They beat him fiercely, then they cut through the sinews of his hands and feet and dragged him by the feet over stones with the woeful effect of tearing the skin of the back of the martyr.

The keeper of the church vessels, the Monk Sergios, hid the church-ware and attempted to flee, but he was captured and beheaded. Several of the monks nevertheless managed to hide themselves away outside the monastery in a cave, but this was spotted by a sentry on an hill and they ordered everyone to come out. Inside the cave the Monk Patrikios in a whisper said to the brethren huddled with him: "Fear not, I alone on your behalf will emerge and meet my death, meanwhile sit ye and pray". The Saracens questioned whether there was anyone else in the cave, and the monk answered that he was alone. They led him off to the Lavra church, where those yet alive awaited their fate. The Saracens demanded of them a ransom of 4,000 gold pieces and the sacred vessels. The monks were not able to give such a ransom. Then they led them around into the cave of the Monk Sava, located at the monastery enclosure, and in front of the entrance to the cave they set a bon-fire, on which they piled up dung, so as to suffocate the imprisoned with the poisonous fumes. In the cave perished eighteen men, among which were the Monks John and Patrikios. Those remaining alive the Saracens continued to torture, but getting nothing out of them, they finally left the monastery.

Later in the night on Great Friday the monks hidden in the hills returned to the Lavra, they took up the bodies of the murdered monastic fathers to the church and in grief buried them there.

The barbarians that plundered the monastery were punished by God. They fell victim to a sudden illness, in which they perished all every one, and their bodies became the spoil of wild beasts.

The Monk Evphrosyn of Sinozersk

The Monk Evphrosyn of Sinozersk (Blue-Lake), in the world Ephrem, was born in Karelia near Lake Ladoga. In his youthful years he lived near the Valaamo monastery, and later he resettled to Novgorod the Great. Having there spent some length of time, the saint then withdrew to one of the Novgorod outskirts -- the Bezhetsk "pentary" [a "fifth" of the "Pyatiny Novgorodskiya" -- comprising anciently five strategically situated outlying village-districts of Novgorod the Great]. He became helper at church-services in the village of Dolossk, 20 versts from the city of Zhelezopol'sk Ustiug. The monk accepted tonsure at the Tikhvinsk Uspenie-Dormition monastery. In the year 1600 he began his wilderness life in the wild marsh-lands at the shore of Blue-Lake. Having set up a cross and dug out a cave, the monk dwelt here for two years, eating only wild vegetation. Unexpectedly, surrounding inhabitants came upon him, and they began coming to the monk for guidance, and several remained to live with him. In 1612, when Polish military detachments were laying waste to Russia, many a person was saved from pillage at his wilderness place. One time, the Monk Evphrosyn predicted that the Polish would come into this wilderness, and he advised everyone to flee. Many did not believe him. "Why then dost thou not withdraw from this sacred spot?" -- they asked. The starets-elder replied: "I came hither to die for Christ". Those that obeyed the saint and left the monastery remained safe, but all those who stayed died an horrible death. Among the inhabitants of the monastery had also been the Monk Jona. Terrified at the prediction of the Monk Evphrosyn, he wanted to flee together with the others. But the Monk Evphrosyn held him back, firing up within the monk fervour for the house of God and a readiness to dwell in the monastery to his very end. "Brother Jona, -- said the Monk Evphrosyn, -- why this cowardly fear in thine soul? When starteth the battle, then mustneeds be shown courage. We gave a vow to live and die in the wilderness. We mustneeds be faithful to our word, given before the Lord. In such instance death results in peace. It is another matter for the layfolk: they are not bound in this by their word, and they mustneeds spare themselves for the sake of their children".

After this the Monk Evphrosyn invested himself in the schema and spent the whole night in prayer. On the following day, 20 March, the Polish forces fell upon the monastery. The monk attired as schema-monk emerged from his cell and stood with upraised cross. The enemy flung themselves at him: "Old man, give us the monastery valuables". "All the valuables both mine and of this monastery -- are in the church of the All-Pure Mother of God", -- answered the monk, meaning by this the unstealable riches, which for believers are hidden within God. Not understanding this, the thugs rushed to the church, and one of them drew out a sword and struck the Monk Evphrosyn on the neck. His neck was cut half way through, and the holy elder fell to the ground dead. When the Polish, angered that they had found nothing in the church, returned -- the murderer of the monk, not satisfied that the saint was already breathless, struck him on the head with a war-axe. The Monk Jona also perished. At the monastery also with the monks had stayed a certain pious Christian, Ioann Suma. When the enemy had burst onto the scene, he was in the cell of the monk. Despite his grievous wounds received from the foreign ruffians, Ioann remained alive. With the departure of the Polish, he regained his senses and reported to his returning son the things that had transpired. The surrounding inhabitants learned from them about the destruction of the monastery and the cruel end of the Monk Evphrosyn. The body of the monk was reverently buried on 28 March. On this same day they buried also the Monk Jona and all the others who had perished under the sword. And 34 years after the death of the saint, at his monastery was erected by a builder named Moisei a new church in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity and a bell-tower with a passage-way. With the blessing of the Novgorod metropolitan Makarii, on 25 March 1655 the relics of the Monk Evphrosyn of Sinozersk were transferred by the builder Jona beneathe the bell-tower.

The Holy Martyress Photina (Svetlana) the Samaritan Woman

The Holy Martyress Photina (Svetlana) the Samaritan Woman, her sons Victor named Photinos and Josiah, and the Martyress-Sisters Anatolia, Photo, Photida, Paraskeva, Kyriakia, Domnina; and the Martyr Sebastian: The holy Martyress Photina was that selfsame Samaritan Woman, with whom the Saviour conversed at Jacob's Well (Jn. 4: 5-42).

During the time of the emperor Nero (54-68), who displayed an excessive cruelty in his struggle against Christianity, Saint Photina lived in Carthage with her younger son Josiah and fearlessly preached the Gospel there. Her older son Victor fought bravely in the Roman army against barbarians, and for his meritorious service was appointed military commander in the city of Attalia (Asia Minor).

The Attalia city governor Sebastian upon meeting Saint Victor said to him: "I quite verily do know, that thou, thy mother and thy brother -- art followers of the teachings of Christ. But as a friend I advise thee -- submit to the will of the emperor, and thou canst receive the wealth of any Christians, which thou mightest inform on for us. Thou mother and thy brother I shalt write, that they not preach Christ openly. Let them secretly confess their faith". Saint Victor replied: "I myself want to be a preacher of Christianity, just like my mother and brother". To this Sebastian answered: "O Victor, we all do well know what woes await thee, and thine mother and brother, in this". After these words Sebastian suddenly sense a sharp pain in his eyes, and he became dumbfounded and his face sombre.

For three days he lay there blind, and not uttering a word. On the fourth day he loudly declared: "Only the faith of the Christians is true, and there be no other true faith". To Saint Victor, who came there next beside him, Sebastian said: "Christ doth call unto me". Soon he was baptised and immediately regained his sight. The servants of Saint Sebastian, witnessing the miracle, were themselves then baptised on the example of their master.

Reports of the occurrence reached Nero, and he commanded that the Christians be brought to him for trial ar Rome. Then the Lord Himself appeared to the confessors and said: "I shalt be with ye, and Nero wilt be vanquished, and all who serve him". To Saint Victor the Lord announced: "From this day henceforth thy name wilt be Photinos -- "Lightning-flash", since that many, enlightened by thee, wilt turn to Me". To Saint Sebastian the Lord spake in encouragement: "Blest be he that endureth to the end". Saint Photina, having been informed by the Saviour concerning the forthcoming sufferings, herself set off in the company of several Christians from Carthage to Rome and joined in with the confessors.

At Rome the emperor gave orders to bring him the saints and he asked them, whether actually and truly they believed in Christ. All the confessors resolutely refused to renounce the Saviour. Then the emperor gave orders to smash the palms of the hands of the holy martyrs. But at the time of the torments the confessors sensed no pain, and the hands of the Martyress Photina remained unharmed. Nero ordered that Saints Sebastian, Photinos and Josiah be blinded and locked up in prison, and Saint Photina with her five sisters -- Anatolia, Photo, Photida, Paraskeva and Kyriakia -- be sent off to the imperial court under the supervision of Nero's daughter Domnina. But Saint Photina converted to Christ both Domnina and all her servants, who then accepted holy Baptism. She also converted to Christ a sorcerer, who had brought poisoned food to kill her.

Three years had passed, and Nero sent to the prison for one of his servants, who had been locked up. The messengers reported to him, that Saints Sebastian, Photinos and Josiah -- who had been blinded, had completely recovered, and that people were constantly visiting them to hear their preaching, and indeed the whole prison had been transformed into a bright and fragrant place wherein God was glorified. Nero then gave orders to crucify the saints and over the course of three days and also to beat them upon their bared bodies with straps. On the fourth day the emperor sent servants to see, whether the martyrs were still alive. But, approaching the place of the tortures, the servants forthwith fell blind. During this time an Angel of the Lord freed the martyrs and healed them. The saints took pity on the blinded servants and by their prayers to the Lord restored them to sight; those healed then came to believe in Christ and were soon baptised.

In an impotent rage Nero gave orders to flay the skin from Saint Photina and to throw the martyress down a well. The Martyrs Sebastian, Photinos and Josiah, had their legs cut off, and were thrown to dogs, and then had their skin flayed off. The sisters of Saint Photina also suffered terrible torments. Nero gave orders to cut off their breasts and then to flay their skin. An expert in cruelty, the emperor readied the fiercest execution for Saint Photida: they tied her by the feet to the tops of two bent-over trees, which when cut loose tore apart the martyress. The emperor ordered the others beheaded. Saint Photina they extracted from the well and locked up in prison for 20 days.

After this Nero had her brought to him and asked, whether she would now give in and offer sacrifice to the idols. Saint Photina spit in the face of the emperor, and laughing at him, said: "O most impious of the blind, thou profligate and stupid man! Wouldst thou reckon me so much deluded, that I should consent to renounce my Lord Christ and instead offer sacrifice to idols as blind as thee?!"

Hearing such words, Nero gave orders to again throw the martyress down the well, where she offered up her spirit to the Lord (+ c. 66).

St Kyriake

St Kyriake was the sister of the Holy Martyr Photina (Svetlana) the Samaritan Woman, with whom the Savior conversed at Jacob's Well (John. 4:5-42).

Summoned to appear before Nero, the emperor asked the saints whether they truly believed in Christ. All the confessors refused to renounce the Savior. Then the emperor gave orders to smash the martyrs' finger joints. During the torments, the confessors felt no pain, and their hands remained unharmed.

St Photina and her five sisters Anatolia, Phota, Photis, Paraskeva and Kyriake were sent to the imperial court under the supervision of Nero's daughter Domnina. St Photina converted both Domnina and all her servants to Christ. She also converted a sorcerer, who had brought her poisoned food to kill her.

Three years passed, and Nero sent to the prison for one of his servants, who had been locked up. The messengers reported to him that Sts Sebastian, Photinus and Joses, who had been blinded, had completely recovered, and that people were visiting them to hear their preaching, and indeed the whole prison had been transformed into a bright and fragrant place where God was glorified.

Nero then gave orders to crucify the saints, and to beat their naked bodies with straps. On the fourth day the emperor sent servants to see whether the martyrs were still alive. But, approaching the place of the tortures, the servants fell blind. An angel of the Lord freed the martyrs from their crosses and healed them. The saints took pity on the blinded servants, and restored their sight by their prayers to the Lord. Those who were healed came to believe in Christ and were soon baptized.

The sisters of St Photina also suffered terrible torments. Nero gave orders to cut off their breasts and then to flay their skin. An expert in cruelty, the emperor readied the fiercest execution for St Photis: they tied her by the feet to the tops of two bent-over trees. When the ropes were cut the trees sprang upright and tore the martyr apart. The emperor ordered the others beheaded, except for St Photina.

Saint Cuthbert, the wonderworker of Britain

Saint Cuthbert, the wonderworker of Britain, was born in Northumbria around 634. Very little information has come down to us about Cuthbert's early life, but there is a remarkable story of him when he was eight.

As a child, Cuthbert enjoyed games and playing with other children. He could beat anyone his own age, and even some who were older, at running, jumping, wrestling, and other exercises. One day he and some other boys were amusing themselves by standing on their heads with their feet up in the air. A little boy who was about three years old chided Cuthbert for his inappropriate behavior. "Be sensible," he said, "and give up these foolish pranks."

Cuthbert and the others ignored him, but the boy began to weep so piteously that it was impossible to quiet him. When they asked him what the matter was, he shouted, "O holy bishop and priest Cuthbert, these unseemly stunts in order to show off your athletic ability do not become you or the dignity of your office." Cuthbert immediately stopped what he was doing and attempted to comfort the boy.

On the way home, he pondered the meaning of those strange words. From that time forward, Cuthbert became more thoughtful and serious.This incident reveals St Cuthbert as God's chosen vessel (2 Tim. 2:20-21), just like Samuel, David, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and others who, from an early age, were destined to serve the Lord.

On another occasion, he was suffering from an injured knee. It was quite swollen and the muscles were so contracted that he limped and could scarcely place his foot on the ground. One day a handsome stranger of noble bearing, dressed in white, rode up on horseback to the place where Cuthbert was sitting in the sun beside the house. The stranger asked courteously if the boy would receive him as a guest. Cuthbert said that if only he were not hampered by his injuries, he would not be slow to offer hospitality to his guest.

The man got down from his horse and examined Cuthbert's knee, advising him to cook up some wheat flour with milk, and to spread the warm paste on his sore knee. After the stranger had gone, it occurred to him that the man was really an angel who had been sent by God. A few days later, he was completely well. From that time forward, as St Cuthbert revealed in later years to a few trusted friends, he always received help from angels whenever he prayed to God in desperate situations.

In his prose Life of St Cuthbert, St Bede of Jarrow (May 27) reminds skeptics that it is not unknown for an angel to appear on horseback, citing 2 Maccabees 11:6-10 and 4 Maccabees 4:10.

While the saint was still young, he would tend his master's sheep in the Lammermuir hills south of Edinburgh near the River Leader. One night while he was praying, he had a vision of angels taking the soul of St Aidan (August 31) to heaven in a fiery sphere. Cuthbert awakened the other shepherds and told them what he had seen. He said that this must have been the soul of a holy bishop or some other great person. A few days later they learned that Bishop Aidan of Lindisfarne had reposed at the very hour that Cuthbert had seen his vision.

As an adult, St Cuthbert decided to give up his life in the world and advanced to better things. He entered the monastery at Melrose in the valley of the Tweed, where he was received by the abbot St Boisil (February 23). St Cuthbert was accepted into the community and devoted himself to serving God. His fasting and vigils were so extraordinary that the other monks marveled at him. He often spent entire nights in prayer, and would not eat anything for days at a time.

Who can describe his angelic life, his purity or his virtue? Much of this is known only to God, for St Cuthbert labored in secret in order to avoid the praise of men.

A few years later, St Eata (October 26) chose some monks of Melrose to live at the new monastery at Ripon. Among them was St Cuthbert. Both Eata and Cuthbert were expelled from Ripon and sent back to Melrose in 661 because they (and some other monks) refused to follow the Roman calculation for the date of Pascha. The Celtic Church, which followed a different, older reckoning, resisted Roman practices for a long time. However, in 664 the Synod of Whitby determined that the Roman customs were superior to those of the Celtic Church, and should be adopted by all. St Bede discusses this question in his HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH AND PEOPLE (Book III, 25).

St Cuthbert was chosen to be abbot of Melrose after the death of St Boisil, guiding the brethren by his words and by his example. He made journeys throughout the surrounding area to encourage Christians and to preach the Gospel to those who had never heard it. Sometimes he would be away from the monastery for a month at a time, teaching and preaching. He also worked many miracles, healing the sick and freeing those who were possessed by demons.

In 664, Cuthbert went with St Eata to Lindisfarne, and extended his territory to include the inhabitants of Northumberland and Durham. Soon St Eata appointed Cuthbert as prior of Lindisfarne (Holy Island). At that time both monasteries were under the jurisdiction of St Eata. While at Lindisfarne, St Cuthbert continued his habit of visiting the common people in order to inspire them to seek the Kingdom of Heaven.

Though some of the monks prefered their negligent way of life to the monastic rule, St Cuthbert gradually brought them around to a better state of mind. At first he had to endure many arguments and insults, but eventually he brought them to obedience through his patience and gentle admonition. He had a great thirst for righteousness, and so he did not hesitate to correct those who did wrong. However, his gentleness made him quick to forgive those who repented. When people confessed to him, he often wept in sympathy with their weakness. He also showed them how to make up for their sins by doing their penances himself.

St Cuthbert was a true father to his monks, but his soul longed for complete solitude, so he went to live on a small island (St Cuthbert's Isle), a short distance from Lindisfarne. After gaining victory over the demons through prayer and fasting, the saint decided to move even farther away from his fellow men. In 676, he retired to Inner Farne, an even more remote location. St Cuthbert built a small cell which could not be seen from the mainland. A few yards away, he built a guest house for visitors from Lindisfarne. Here he remained for nearly nine years.

A synod at Twyford, with the holy Archbishop Theodore (September 19) presiding, elected Cuthbert Bishop of Hexham in 684. Letters and messengers were sent to inform him of the synod's decision, but he refused to leave his solitude. King Ecgfrith and Bishop Trumwine (February 10) went to him in person, entreating him in Christ's name to accept. At last, St Cuthbert came forth and went with them to the synod. With great reluctance, he submitted to the will of the synod and accepted the office of bishop. Almost immediately, he exchanged Sees with St Eata, and became Bishop of Lindisfarne while St Eata went to Hexham.

Bishop Cuthbert remained as humble as he had been before his consecration, avoiding finery and dressing in simple clothing. He fulfilled his office with dignity and graciousness, while continuing to live as a monk. His virtue and holiness of life only served to enhance the authority of his position.

His life as Bishop of Lindisfarne was quite similar to what it had been when he was prior of that monastery. He devoted himself to his flock, preaching and visiting people throughout his diocese, casting out demons, and healing all manner of diseases. He served as a bishop for only two years, however.

Once, St Cuthbert was invited to Carlisle to ordain seven deacons to the holy priesthood. The holy priest Hereberht was living in solitude on an island in that vicinity. Hearing that his spiritual friend Cuthbert was staying at Carlisle, he went to see him in order to discuss spiritual matters with him. St Cuthbert told him that he should ask him whatever he needed to ask, for they would not see one another in this life again. When he heard that St Cuthbert would die soon, Hereberht fell at his feet and wept. By God's dispensation, the two men would die on the very same day.

Though he was only in his early fifties, St Cuthbert felt the time of his death was approaching. He laid aside his archpastoral duties, retiring to the solitude of Inner Farne shortly after the Feast of the Lord's Nativity in 686 to prepare himself. He was able to receive visitors from Lindisfarne at first, but gradually he weakened and was unable to walk down to the landing stage to greet them.

His last illness came upon him on February 27, 687. The pious priest Herefrith (later the abbot of Lindisfarne) came to visit him that morning. When he was ready to go back, he asked St Cuthbert for his blessing to return. The saint replied, "Do as you intend. Get into your boat and return safely home."

St Cuthbert also gave Father Herefrith instructions for his burial. He asked to be laid to rest east of the cross that he himself had set up. He told him where to find a stone coffin hidden under the turf. "Put my body in it," he said, "and wrap it in the cloth you will find there." The cloth was a gift from Abbess Verca, but St Cuthbert thought it was too fine for him to wear. Out of affection for her, he kept it to be used as his winding sheet.

Father Herefrith wanted to send some of the brethren to look after the dying bishop, but St Cuthbert would not permit this. "Go now, and come back at the proper time."

When Herefrith asked when that time might be, St Cuthbert replied, "When God wishes. He will show you."

Herefrith returned to Lindisfarne and told the brethren to pray for the ailing Cuthbert. Storms prevented the brethren from returning to Inner Farne for five days. When they did land there, they found the saint sitting on the beach by the guest house. He told them he had come out so that when they arrived to take care of him they would not have to go to his cell to find him. He had been sitting there for five days and nights, eating nothing but onions. He also revealed that during those five days he had been more severely assailed by demons than ever before.

This time, St Cuthbert consented to have some of the brethren attend him. One of these was his personal servant, the priest Bede. He asked particularly for the monk Walhstod to remain with him to help Bede take care of him. Father Herefrith returned to Lindisfarne and informed the brethren of Cuthbert's wish to be buried on his island.

Herefrith and the others, however, wanted to bury him in their church with proper honor. Therefore, Herefrith went back to Cuthbert and asked for permission to do this. St Cuthbert said that he wanted to be buried there at the site of his spiritual struggles, and he pointed out that the peace of the brethren would be disturbed by the number of pilgrims who would come to Lindisfarne to venerate his tomb.

Herefrith insisted that they would gladly endure the inconvenience out of love for Cuthbert. Finally, the bishop agreed to be buried in the church on Lindisfarne so the monks would always have him with them, and they would also be able to decide which outsiders would be allowed to visit his tomb.

St Cuthbert grew weaker and weaker, so the monks carried him back into his cell. No one had ever been inside, so they paused at the door and asked that at least one of them be permitted to see to his needs. Cuthbert asked for Wahlstod to come in with him. Now Wahlstod had suffered from dysentery for a long time. Even though he was sick, he agreed to care for Cuthbert. As soon as he touched the holy bishop, his illness left him. Although he was sick and dying, St Cuthbert healed his servant Wahlstod. Remarkably, the holy man's spiritual power was not impaired by his bodily weakness. About three o'clock in the afternoon Wahlstod came out and announced that the bishop wanted them to come inside.

Father Herefrith asked Cuthbert if he had any final instructions for the monks. He spoke of peace and harmony, warning them to be on guard against those who fostered pride and discord. Although he encouraged them to welcome visitors and offer them hospitality, he also admonished them to have no dealings with heretics or with those who lived evil lives. He told them to learn the teachings of the Fathers and put them into practice, and to adhere to the monastic rule which he had taught them.

After passing the evening in prayer, St Cuthbert sat up and received Holy Communion from Father Herefrith. He surrendered his holy soul to God on March 20, 687at the time appointed for the night office.

Eleven years later, St Cuthbert's tomb was opened and his relics were found to be incorrupt. In the ninth century, the relics were moved to Norham, then back to Lindisfarne. Because of the threat of Viking raids, St Cuthbert's body was moved from place to place for seven years so that it would not be destroyed by the invaders.

St Cuthbert's relics were moved to Chester-le-Street in 995. They were moved again because of another Viking invasion, and then brought to Durham for safekeeping. Around 1020 the relics of Sts Bede (May 27), Aidan (August 31), Boisil (February 23), Aebbe (August 25), Eadberht (May 6), Aethilwald (February 12), and other saints associated with St Cuthbert were also brought to Durham.

The tomb was opened again on August 24, 1104, and the incorrupt and fragrant relics were placed in the newly-completed cathedral. Relics of the other saints mentioned above were placed in various places around the church. The head of St Oswald of Northumbria (August 5), however, was left in St Cuthbert's coffin.

In 1537 three commissioners of King Henry VIII came to plunder the tomb and desecrate the relics. St Cuthbert's body was still incorrupt, and was later reburied. The tomb was opened again in 1827. A pile of bones was found in the outer casket, probably the relics of the various saints which had been collected seven centuries before, then replaced after the Protestant commissioners had completed their work.

In the inner casket was a skeleton wrapped in a linen shroud and five robes. In the vestments a gold and garnet cross was found, probably St Cuthbert's pectoral cross. Also found were an ivory comb, a portable wood and silver altar, a stole (epitrachilion), pieces of a carved wooden coffin, and other items. These may be seen today in the Dean and Chapter library of Durham Cathedral. The tomb was opened again in 1899, and a scientific examination determined that the bones were those of a man in his fifties, Cuthbert's age when he died.

Today St Cuthbert's relics (and the head of St Oswald) lie beneath a simple stone slab on the site of the original medieval shrine in the Chapel of the Nine Altars, and St Bede's relics rest at the other end of the cathedral. The relics and the treasures in the Library make Durham an appropriate place for pilgrims to visit.

St. Herbert

St. Herbert was for long the close friend and disciple of Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, whom he to visit in Lindisfarne every year for the purpose of receiving his direction in spiritual matters. In the year 686, hearing that his friend was visiting Carlisle for the purpose of giving the veil to Queen Eormenburg, he went to see him there, instead of at Lindisfarne as was usual. After they had spoken together, St. Cuthbert said, "Brother Herbert, tell to me now all that you have need to ask or speak, for never shall we see one another again in this world. For I know that the time of my decease is at hand." Then Herbert fell weeping at his feet and begged that St. Cuthbert would obtain for him the grace that they might both be admitted to praise God in heaven at the same time. And St. Cuthbert prayed and then made answer, "Rise, my brother, weep not, but rejoice that the mercy of God has granted our desire." And indeed Herbert, returning to his hermitage, fell ill of a long sickness, and, purified of his imperfections, passed to God on the very March 20, 687 on which St. Cuthbert died on Holy Island.

The Holy Virgin-Martyrs Alexandra, Claudia, Euphrasia, Matrona, Juliania, Euthymia and Theodosia

The Holy Virgin-Martyrs Alexandra, Claudia, Euphrasia, Matrona, Juliania, Euthymia and Theodosia were arrested in the city of Amisa (on the coast region of the Black Sea) during the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). Under interrogation they confessed their faith and were subjected to cruel tortures for this. They scourged and beat them with canes, cut off their breasts, after which they were suspended and torn at with sharp hooks. Finally the holy virgins were burned alive in a red-hot oven (+ 310).

Saint Nikita (Nicetas) the Confessor

Saint Nikita (Nicetas) the Confessor, Archbishop of Apolloniada, was noted for his profound knowledge of Sacred Scripture, and was as well a pious and kindly man. During the reign of the Iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820), the saint stood up firmly for the veneration of holy icons, and so was exiled and died imprisoned.

The Martyr Myron of Crete

The Martyr Myron of Crete suffered under the Turks for his refusal to accept Islam in the year 1793.

March 21

Saint Thomas, Patriarch of Constantinople

Sainted Thomas, Patriarch of Constantinople, was at first a deacon, and later under the holy Patriarch John IV the Faster (582-595) he was made "sakellarios" (sacristan) in the Great Constantinople church. After the death of holy Patriarch Kyriakos (595-606), Saint Thomas was chosen in 607 to the Constantinople Patriarchal throne. The saint concerned himself in every possible way about the spiritual needs of his flock.

During the time of the patriarchate of Saint Thomas, an ominous portent appeared in the land of Galatia (Asia Minor). The heavy crosses, which they carried during the times of church processions, began to shake, and to strike and chip at each other. To the Patriarch was summoned the noted perspicacious elder, the Monk Theodore Sikeotes (Comm. 22 April), who explained the meaning of this portent. According to his words, discords and disasters awaited the Church, and the state stood on the eve of destruction from barbarian invasion. Hearing this, the saint became terrified and besought the Monk Theodore Sikeotes to pray for him, that God should instead take his soul early, than for the predicted ruinations to occur.

After the death of the holy Patriarch Thomas (+ 610), disorders started in the Church. The successor to Saint Thomas, -- Patriarch Sergios (610-638), fell into the Monothelite heresy. Soon through the sufferance of God and for the extinguishing of the heresy, war started with Persia, which proved grievous for Byzantium. The Greek regions in Asia Minor were completely devastated, Jerusalem fell, and the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord was taken into captivity and carried off to Persia. Thus occurred all the misfortunes, portented by the miracle during the time of the church procession.

Saint Seraphim of Viritsa

Our venerable and God-bearing Father Seraphim of Viritsa or of Virits (1866-1949) is a monastic known especially for his gifts of prophecy and miracle-working. He is also known for a letter that he sent to his spiritual child, a bishop who was in a Soviet prison at that time; this homily "This was from me" is written as a consolation and counsel to the bishop to let him know that God the Creator addresses to the soul of man.

St. Seraphim of Viritsa was born Basil Mouraviov in 1866; he married and had three children. Before agreeing with his wife to separate and enter into the monastic life, he once saw a dream which he later related to his spiritual father, monk Barnabas of the Gethsemane Skete. In this dream, he was on a pilgrimage to visit a monastery of St. Nicholas and on the way there he lost his way and ventured into a forest. In the forest, an old man asked him for directions to that same monastery; the old man had a satchel on his back and an axe in his hand. He realised that this man was St. Seraphim of Sarov. The old man sat under a tree and was very soon joined by Basil's very own spiritual father, Barnabas. In this vision, even though Basil could see that he was sitting between both fathers, he could not hear the discussion they were having.

At the age of 54, in 1920, he and his wife quietly separated and entered the monastic life. His wife entered the female monastery of the All-Holy Virgin Mary of Iviron of St. Petersburg and adopted the name "Christina" when tonsured a nun. He entered the Lavra of St. Alexander Nevsky as a novice in September of 1920, and a month later was tonsured a monk, taking on the name of "Barnabas." He was ordained a deacon soon after, and on August 29, 1921, Barnabas was ordained a presbyter by Metropolitan Benjamin Kazanski.

He was renamed "Seraphim" in 1927, in honour of St. Seraphim of Sarov, when he entered the Great Habit. He eventually became the spiritual father of the St. Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg, where, as a clairvoyant staretz, he also confessed thousands of laity. He said, "I am the storage room where people's afflictions gather." In imitation of his patron saint, he prayed for a thousand nights on a rock before an icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov. He reposed in the Lord in 1949, and the Church of Russia glorified him in August of 2000.

St. Serapion, Bishop of Thmuis, in Egypt, Confessor

The surname of the Scholastic, which was given him, is a proof of the reputation which he acquired, by his penetrating genius, and by his extensive learning, both sacred and profane. He presided some time in the catechetical school of Alexandria, but, to apply himself more perfectly to the science of the saints, to which he had always consecrated himself, his studies, and his other actions, he retired into the desert, and became a bright light in the monastic state. St. Athanasius assures us in his life of St. Antony, that in the visits which Serapion paid to that illustrious patriarch, St. Antony often told on his mountain, things which passed in Egypt at a distance; and that at his death, he left him one of his tunics of hair. St. Serapion was drawn out of his retreat, to be placed in the episcopal see of Thmuis, a famous city of Lower Egypt, near Diospolis, to which Stephanus and Ptolemy give the title of a metropolis. The name in the Egyptian tongue signified a goat, which animal was anciently worshipped there, as St. Jerom informs us. St. Serapion was closely linked with St. Athanasius in the defence of the Catholic faith—for which he was banished by the Emperor Constantius; whence St. Jerom styles himself a confessor. Certain persons, who confessed God, the Son consubstantial to the Father, denied the divinity of the Holy Ghost. This error was no sooner broached, but our saint strenuously opposed it, and informed St. Athanasius of this new inconsistent blasphemy; and that zealous defender of the adorable mystery of the Trinity, the fundamental article of the Christian faith, wrote against this rising monster. The four letters which St. Athanasius wrote to Serapion, in 359, out of the desert, in which at that time he lay concealed, were the first express confutation of the Macedonian heresy that was published. St. Serapion ceased not to employ his labours to great advantage, against both the Arians and Macedonians. He also compiled an excellent book against the Manichees, in which he shows that our bodies may be made the instruments of good, and that our souls may be perverted by sin; that there is no creature of which a good use may not be made; and that both just and wicked men are often changed, the former by falling into sin, the latter by becoming virtuous. It is, therefore, a self-contradiction to pretend with the Manichees that our souls are the work of God, but our bodies of the devil, or the evil principle. 1 St. Serapion wrote several learned letters, and a treatise on the Titles of the Psalms, quoted by St. Jerom, which are now lost. At his request, St. Athanasius composed several of his works against the Arians; and so great was his opinion of our saint, that he desired him to correct, or add to them what he thought wanting. Socrates relates 2 that St. Serapion gave an abstract of his own life, and an abridged rule of Christian perfection in very few words, which he would often repeat, saying: “The mind is purified by spiritual knowledge, (or by holy meditation and prayer,) the spiritual passions of the soul by charity, and the irregular appetites by abstinence and penance.” This saint died in his banishment in the fourth age.

Saint James, Bishop and Confessor

Saint James, Bishop and Confessor,was inclined toward the ascetic life from his early years. St James left the world and entered the Studite monastery, where he was tonsured. He led a strict life, full of works, fasting and prayer. Pious and well-versed in Holy Scripture, St James was elevated to the bishop's throne of Catania (Sicily).

During the reign of the iconoclast emperor Constantine V Copronymos (741-775), St James was repeatedly urged not to venerate the holy icons. They exhausted him in prison, starved him, and beat him, but he bravely endured all these torments. St James died in exile.

Saint Cyril

Sainted Cyril was born in Antioch. He was a disciple of the Apostle Peter (Comm. 29 June, 16 January), who installed him as bishop in the city of Catania in Sicily. Saint Cyril wisely guided his flock; he was pious, and was granted by the Lord the gift of wonderworking. By his prayer the bitter water in a certain spring was rendered drinkable and lost its bitterness: this miracle converted many pagans to Christianity. Saint Cyril died in old age and was buried in Sicily.

March 22

The PriestMartyr Basil

The PriestMartyr Basil was a presbyter in Galatian Ancyra. During the time of the widespread Arian heresy he summoned his flock to hold on firmly to Orthodoxy. For this Saint Basil was deprived of the priestly dignity by a local Arian council, but at a Palestine Council of 230 bishops he was restored to the dignity of presbyter. Saint Basil openly continued his preaching, denouncing the Arians, and for this he became the victim of persecution and was subjected to beating as a man allegedly dangerous to the state. Two apostates -- Elpidios and Pegasios -- were appointed for breaking away Saint Basil from Orthodoxy. But the saint remained unshakable and for this was again subjected to tortures. When the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) arrived in the city of Ancyra, Saint Basil afront him at the trial bravely confessed Christ, and denounced the emperor for his apostasy. Julian gave orders to cut a strip of skin from the back of the saint. But the holy Presbyter Basil undauntedly endured the gruesome torture.

When they began to burn and tear at the shoulders and stomach with red-hot rods, he fell down upon the ground from the torments and loudly prayed: "O Christ, my Light! O Jesus, my Hope! Quiet Haven for the pounding by waves. I give Thee thanks, O Lord God of my fathers, in that Thou hast snatched my soul from the pit of hell and preserved Thy Name in me unstained! Let me finish my life a victor and inherit rest eternal according to the promise, given my fathers by Thee, Great High-Priest Jesus Christ, our Lord! Now in peace accept my soul, plying steadfast in this confession! For Thou art merciful and great is Thine mercy, Thou Who dost live and sojourn throughout all the ages, amen".

Having made suchlike prayer, and lacerated all over by the red-hot rods, the saint as it were fell into a sweet slumber, giving up his soul into the hands of God. The PriestMartyr Basil died 29 June 362. On account of the feastday of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, his memory was transferred to 22 March.

The Holy Martyress Drosida, together with Five Virgin-Martyrs

The Holy Martyress Drosida, together with Five Virgin-Martyrs Agalida, Apollinaria, Daria, Mamthusa and Taisia: Saint Drosida was daughter of the emperor Trajan (98-117), a fierce persecutor of Christians. In the year 99 he re-activated an earlier existing law which forbade secret gatherings and was indirectly aimed against Christians, and in the year 104 he issued a special law against Christians.

Beginning with this year, the persecutions continued until the end of his reign. During this time the bodies of killed Christians often remained unburied for the purpose of scaring others. Five Christian virgins: Aglaida, Apolliniaria, Daria, Mamthusa and Taisia, took upon themselves the task of burying such Christians. They secretly gathered up the bodies of martyrs, anointed them with aromatics, wrapped them in shroud-cloths and buried them. Having learned of this, the imperial Drosida, secretly a Christian but not yet having accepted Baptism, asked the holy virgins to take her with them, when they would go to make burial of Christians.

On the advice of the fiancee of Saint Drosida, the court dignitary Adrian, a guard was set nearby those killed, to arrest those who would bury them. And on the very first night Saint Drosida and the five virgins were caught. Having learned that among the captives was his own daughter, Trajan gave orders to hold her separately, in the hope that she would change her mind. The remaining holy virgins were sentenced to burning in a copper-foundry furnace. They bravely accepted execution and were vouchsafed martyrs crowns. From the copper, mingled with the ashes of the martyresses, were molded tripods for a new bath of Trajan. But as long as these tripods stood in the bath-house, no man was able to enter there: anyone crossing the threshold fell down dead. When the pagan priests perceived from whence this happened, they gave advice to remove the tripods.

Then Adrian suggested to the emperor to remelt the tripods and to make from them five statues of naked virgins, resembling the executed martyresses, and for mockery and jeering to place these statues in front of the entrance to the imperial bath. Trajan agreed. When the statues were set up, the emperor saw in a dream five pure lambs pastured in paradise, and the shepherd which did say to him: "O most wanton and wicked Caesar! Those, the depictions of whom thou intended to set up for mockery, the Good and Merciful Pastor hath snatched away from thee and settled here, whither in time shalt also be the pure lamb Drosida, thine daughter". Having awakened, the wanton Trajan went into a rage and gave orders to fire up two huge furnaces and to fire them up daily. At the ovens was put up an imperial edict: "Men of the Galileian, ye worshipping the Crucified, deliver yourselves from a great many agonies, and us also from these labours: offer sacrifice to the gods. If ye however wish not to do this, then let each of you voluntarily, by whatever manner he wanteth, cast himself into this furnace". Many Christians voluntarily went to martyrdom.

Having learned of this, Saint Drosida decided likewise to accept a martyr's death for Christ. In her imprisonment she offered up prayers that the Lord would help her exit from the prison. And God heard her prayer: the guards fell asleep. Set free, Saint Drosida went off towards the ovens, but began to ponder within herself: "How can I go to God, not having upon myself the wedding garb (i.e. not having been baptised), since I am impure. But, O King of kings Lord Jesus Christ, on account of Thee I do forsake my imperial position, so that Thou might vouchsafe me to be the very least doormaid in Thine kingdom. Do Thou Thyself baptise me with Thine Holy Spirit". Having thus prayed, Saint Drosida anointed herself with myrh (chrism), which she had taken along with her, and thrice submerging herself in water, pronounced: "the servant of God Drosida is baptised in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". For seven days the saint hid herself, devoted to fasting and prayer. During this time Christians found her and learned from her the account of everything that occurred. And on the eighth day the holy Martyress Drosida went to the red-hot ovens and cast herself into the fire.

Saint Isaac

Saint Isaac lived during the fourth century, received monastic tonsure and pursued ascetic labors in the desert. During the reign of the emperor Valens (364-378), a zealous adherent of the Arian heresy, there was a persecution of the Orthodox, and churches were closed and destroyed.

Hearing of the persecution, St Isaac left the wilderness and went to Constantinople to console and encourage the Orthodox, and to fight against the heretics. At that time, barbarian Goths along the River Danube were making war against the Empire. They seized Thrace and advanced toward Constantinople.

When the emperor Valens was leaving the capital with his soldiers, St Isaac cried out, "Emperor, unlock the churches of the Orthodox, and then the Lord will aid you!" But the emperor, disdaining the words of the monk, confidently continued on his way. The saint repeated his request and prophecy three times. The angry emperor ordered St Isaac to be thrown into a deep ravine, filled with thorns and mud, from which it was impossible to escape.

St Isaac remained alive by God's help, and he emerged, overtook the emperor and said, "You wanted to destroy me, but three angels pulled me from the mire. Hear me, open up the churches for the Orthodox and you shall defeat the enemy. If, however, you do not heed me, then you shall not return. You will be captured and burned alive." The emperor was astonished at the saint's boldness and ordered his attendants Saturninus and Victor to take the monk and hold him in prison until his return.

St Isaac's prophecy was soon fulfilled. The Goths defeated and pursued the Greek army. The emperor and his Arian generals took refuge in a barn filled with straw, and the attackers set it afire. After receiving news of the emperor's death, they released St Isaac and honored him as a prophet.

Then the holy Emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395) came to the throne. On the advice of Saturninus and Victor, he summoned the Elder, treating him with great respect. Obeying his instructions, he banished the Arians from Constantinople and restored the churches to the Orthodox. St Isaac wanted to return to his desert, but Saturninus and Victor begged him not to leave the city, but to remain and protect it by his prayers.

Saturninus built a monastery for the saint in Constantinople, where monks gathered around him. St Isaac was the monastery's igumen and spiritual guide. He also nourished laypeople, and helped many of the poor and suffering.

When he had reached an advanced age, St Isaac made St Dalmatus (August 3) igumen. The monastery was later named for Dalmatus.

St Isaac died in the year 383, and his memory is also celebrated on May 30.

Righteous Basil of Mangazeia

Righteous Basil of Mangazeia died on 4 April 1602. His feastday of 22 March celebrates his name in common with the PriestMartyr Basil, Presbyter of Ancyra. The account about Righteous Basil of Mangazeia is located under 10 May -- on the day of transfer of his holy relics from Mangazeia to Turukhan.

The Holy Martyresses Callinica and Basilissa

The Holy Martyresses Callinica and Basilissa were beheaded by the sword at Rome in the year 252.

Saint Euthymius

Euthymius was born in the village of Dimitsana in the Peloponnese. As a child, Euthymius lived as a Christian but, later on, he went to Romania where he gave himself over to a life of great debauchery. In this debauchery an evil spirit lead him to become a Muslim. As soon as he did that, Euthymius began to repent bitterly. He again returned to the Faith of Christ and was tonsured a monk in Athos, the Holy Mountain. After several years spent in strict fasting and prayer, he decided to die for Christ. With the blessing of his spiritual father, he traveled to Constantinople where he succeeded somehow to come before the Grand Vezir. Euthymius began to cross himself, to praise Christ and to insult Mohammed in the presence of the Vezir. After prolonged torture he was sentenced to death and beheaded on Palm Sunday, March 22, 1814 A.D. Many miraculous healings of the sick occurred over his relics. His honorable head is preserved in the Russian Monastery of St. Panteteimom [Pantaleon] in the Holy Mountain. And so, this twenty-year old youth, at first, died to Christ and after that died for Christ

March 23

The Monk Martyr Nikon

The Monk Martyr Nikon was born at Neapolis (Naples). His father was a pagan, and his mother -- a christian. Having reached maturity, Nikon remained a pagan. He served as a soldier and showed unusual courage and strength. One time, Nikon with his military company was surrounded by enemies. In deadly peril, he remembered the christian precepts of his mother and, signing himself with the sign of the cross, he prayed to God, vowing in the event of being saved to be baptised. He managed to escape inescapable death and, having returned home, with the blessing of his mother he set off in search of a priest, -- which in this time of persecution was no easy thing to do. Saint Nikon reached the island of Chios on a ship. He went up on an high mountain there and spent 8 days in fasting and prayer, entreating the Lord to help him. In a dream vision an Angel of God appeared to Saint Nikon, showing him the way. Saint Nikon set off to Mount Ganos, where many monks were hidden, headed by Theodosios the bishop of Kyzikos. Saint Nikon received from the bishop both the mystery of Baptism and the Angelic form (ie. monasticism). Having settled at the cave-church, Saint Nikon became an exemplar for all the brethren. When the monk Nikon had dwelt on the mountain for three years, it was revealed to the bishop by an Angel, -- that he should ordain the monk Nikon to the dignity of bishop, and should order him to re-settle with all the monks to the province of Sicily. Bishop Theodosios fulfilled this and, having entrusted the 190 monks to Saint Nikon, he died. Having buried bishop Theodosios, Saint Nikon sailed off with the brethren to Sicily, thereby being saved from approaching barbarians. But through Divine Providence, Sainted Nikon came to his native city Neopolis / Naples. He found his mother there among the living, and he remained together with her for the final day of her life. His mother, seeing him, collapsed on his chest with tears of joy and kissed him. Making a poklon (prostration) to the ground, she said: "I do give thanks to Thy MostHoly Name, O Lord, in that Thou hast granted me to behold my son in Angelic form and in bishop's dignity; and now, my Lord, my Lord hear me Thy servant, and accept my soul into Thine hand". Having made this prayer, the righteous woman died. Those present glorified God and buried her with psalmody.

Rumours about the arrival of Saint Nikon spread through the city, and ten soldiers -- his former companions, came to see him. After conversing with the saint they believed and were baptised, and proceeded with him to Sicily. Having arrived on the island, Saint Nikon settled together with the monks in a desolate area, called Gigia, not far from the river Asinum. Many years passed, and again there began a persecution against christians. The governor of Sicily Quintilian was informed that bishop Nikon lived with many monks not far away. All 199 monks were seized and beheaded, but they left Sainted Nikon among the living, so as to give him over to torture. They burned him with fire, but he remained unharmed; they tied him by the legs to wild horses to be dragged over the ground, but the horses would not budge from the spot. They cut out the saint's tongue, beat him with stones, and finally they beheaded him. The body of the priest-martyr Nikon was thrown to be devoured by wild beasts and birds. A certain shepherd, possessed of by an evil spirit, went to that place, and finding the body of the saint, he immediately fell on his face to the ground because of the unclean spirit -- having been vanquished by the power of the saint -- had thrown him to the ground and gone out from him with a loud shriek: "Woe is me, woe is me, whither might I flee, from the face of Nikon?"

The healed shepherd told about this to the neighbouring people. The bishop of the city of Messina learned also about this, and together with his clergy he buried the bodies of the priest-martyr Nikon and his disciples.

The Monk Nikon

The Monk Nikon was the first disciple and fellow-ascetic of the Monk Antonii (Comm. 10 July), the founder of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery, to which he came being already a priest. At the monastery he vowed all the newly-arrived monks, and amongst their number was the Monk Theodosii (Feodosii) of Pechersk (Comm. 3 May and 14 August). For giving monastic vows to the favourites of the Great-prince Izyaslav -- the Monks Varlaam (Comm. 19 November) and Ephrem (Comm. 28 January), Saint Nikon brought down upon himself the wrath of the prince, and he boldly refused to force them to leave the monastery. When many brethren had been gathered up into the monastery, the monk Nikon desired to go into solitude and keep silence. He withdrew onto the Tmutarakan' peninsula (on the eastern banks of the Kerchensk straits) and settled in an unpopulated spot. When news about his life spread throughout the region, there gathered about him those wishing to lead a monastic life. A monastery thus was founded together with a church in the name of the MostHoly Mother of God. When he returned to the Kievo-Pechersk monastery, the monk Theodosii rendered to him his own respectful love as his spiritual father. According to the words of the Monk Nestor the Chronicler (Comm. 27 October), the monk Theodosii, -- having absented himself somewhere, entrusted all the brethren to the care of the monk Nikon. Sometimes he entrusted to the monk Nikon to offer instruction to the brethren in place of himself. Often, when the monk Nikon bound books, the monk Theodosii sat near him and spun the thread needed for the binding. When prince Svyatoslav drove out his brother Izyaslav from Kiev, the monk Nikon again went off to the monastery founded by him. He returned under the hegumen Stephan. Upon the withdrawal of Hegumen Stephan (Comm. 27 April) from the Kievo-Pechersk monastery, Saint Nikon was chosen hegumen of the monastery. He toiled much to adorn his monastery with monastic writings and mosaic. The monk died in extreme old age (+ 1088) and was buried in the Nearer Caves of the Monk Antonii.

Martyrs Philetos, his wife Lydia, their sons Macedonos and Theoprepios

Martyrs Philetos, his wife Lydia, their sons Macedonos and Theoprepios, together with Cronides and Amphylokios: Saint Philetos was an illustrious dignitary at the court of the emperor Adrian (117-138), a persecutor of christians. For openly confessing his faith in Christ the Saviour, Saint Philetos -- together with his wife Saint Lydia and their sons Macedonos and Theoprepios -- was brought to trial. By order of Adrian, Saint Philetos was sent off with his family to Illyria to the military-governor Amphylokios to subject them to torture. This one gave orders to suspend them from a tree and torture them with knives. After this act of martyrdom they were locked up in prison with the believing head-jailer Cronides. An Angel came to them by night and eased their sufferings. On the following day the martyrs were plunged into a cauldron of boiling oil, but the oil cooled down instantly, and the saints remained unharmed. The military-governor Amphylokios was so astonished at this miracle, that he himself believed on Christ and went into the boiling oil with the prayer "Lord, Jesus Christ, help me!" -- and remained alive. The tortures were repeated when the emperor Adrian came to Illyria. They threw the holy martyrs again and again into the boiling oil, and by the power of God they remained alive.

The humiliated emperor returned to Rome, and the holy martyrs began to give thanks and praise God and in prayer they offered up to Him their holy souls (+ c. 117-138).

Righteous Basil of Mangazea

Righteous Basil of Mangazea: St Basil was born in the town of Yaroslavl around 1587. His father was a merchant, but the family was very poor. As a child, Basil spent much of his time in church, praying fervently and participating in the divine services.

When he was twelve, the boy set out to earn his living. After a difficult journey through wild forests, he came to the Russian village of Mangazea in Siberia on the River Taz. This was an area inhabited by Mongols and indigenous peoples of Siberia.

After stopping to pray in the village church, St Basil found a job with a local merchant. The merchant was a person of low moral character and did not believe in God, so while he appreciated Basil's work, he did not care for the boy's religious inclinations. Soon the cruel merchant came to hate his clerk and began to mistreat him.

During the Matins of Pascha, thieves robbed the merchant's shop. The merchant discovered the theft and went to the governor, accusing Basil of being one of the thieves. So great was the merchant's hatred of Basil that he falsely accused the young man. The governor did not even bother to investigate the charges, but had Basil arrested and tortured to make him admit his guilt. In spite of unbearable tortures, the saint kept saying, "I am innocent."

Enraged by Basil's endurance and meekness, the merchant struck him in the head with a ring of keys. St Basil fell to the floor and surrendered his soul to God. The governor ordered that the saint's body be placed in a coffin and buried in a swamp.

After several years, the servants who disposed of the body began to speak about the child's murder. Soon all the residents of Mangazea knew that the saint's relics were in the swamp. Because of many signs that took place, people began to address prayers to St Basil. Forty-two years after the unjust murder of the saint, his coffin was removed from the swamp and his holy relics were found to be incorrupt. A chapel was built over his grave, and in 1670 the relics were placed in the church of Holy Trinity Monastery near Turakhanov.

In 1719 the holy Metropolitan Philotheus of Siberia (May 31) sent a carved reliquary to the monastery. Many miracles took place there, and St Basil helped Metropolitan Philotheus on many occasions.

A new stone church was built at Holy Trinity Monastery in 1787, and the relics were transferred there.

In iconography, St Basil is portrayed as a young man with light brown hair, bare-footed and wearing only a shirt. He is also depicted on the Abaletsk Icon "Of the Sign" (July 20, November 27).

Sainted Vassian I

Sainted Vassian I, ArchBishop of Rostov, was a kinsman of Saint Joseph of Volotsk (+ 1515; Comm. 9 September and 18 October). He was also a beloved disciple of the Monk Paphnutii of Borovsk (+ 1477; Comm. 1 May), from whom he accepted monastic vows. In the year 1455 he became head of the Trinity-Sergiev monastery; in 1466 -- archimandrite of the Novospassky; and in 1467 -- archbishop of Rostov. In 1479 the saint participated in the transfer of the relics of Saints Kiprian, Photii and Jona -- Sainted-hierarchs of Moscow and Wonderworkers of All Russia (Comm. 27 May). Sainted Vassian was known for his gift of edifying words of wisdom, and he often came forward as mediator in princely quarrels. At Rostov he built and beautified churches. In 1480 the saint wrote a famous missive to Great-prince Ivan III at Ugra, calling on him for decisive action against the Tatars -- as an high form of Christian patriotism. Saint Vassian also wrote a Life of Saint Paphnutii of Borovsk.

The saint died in extreme old age on 23 March 1481 and was buried in the Rostov Uspenie/Dormition cathedral.

March 24

The Monk Zakharii the Faster

The Monk Zakharii the Faster, of Pechersk, pursued asceticism in the Farther Caves in the XIII-XIV Cent. The strictness of his fasting reached such an extent, that he ate nothing baked nor boiled, and he consumed only greens (grasses) -- and this only once a day at the setting of the sun. Demons trembled at the mere mention of the name Zakharii. Often the monk saw Angels, with which he merited life in Heaven. The identification of the monk Zakharii, Faster of Pechersk, with the son of the Kievan inhabitant John -- Zakharii, who had given all his inheritance for the adornment of the Pechersk temple and become a monk at the monastery, -- is unfounded. John before death had transferred his property for maintaining to his friend Sergei. This was during the time when the hegumen was the Monk Nikon (+ 1088, Comm. 23 March). Zakharii at the time was 5 years old. At age 15, that is -- not later than the year 1098, he obtained his inheritance from Sergei, in order to give it to the monastery. However, the monk Zakharii -- Faster of Pechersk, lived approximately 200 years later.

Sainted Artemon, Bishop of Seleucia

Sainted Artemon, Bishop of Seleucia, was born and lived in Pisidian Seleucia (Asia Minor). He was pious and virtuous, wherefore the holy Apostle Paul (Comm. 29 June), having come to Seleucia, established Saint Artemon as first bishop of this city, as the one most worthy. Saint Artemon wisely nourished the flock entrusted to him and won glory as a comforter of the poor and oppressed. Saint Artemon died in extreme old age.

(In the ancient Slavonic of the Saints "Seleucian" was written as "Seleoukinian" from which appeared "Seleunian". However, also in several of the Greek memorials the sainted bishop was called Soluneian [ie. of Thessalonika]. Sainted Artemon (or Artemios) appeared in the Mesyatseslov Saint-lists either as Seleucian or Soluneian. In the second half of the XVII Century these two names were mistakenly applied to various persons).

The Holy Martyr Peter of Kazan

The Holy Martyr Peter of Kazan together with the martyr Stephen suffered from the Kazan Tatars for his conversion to Christianity from Mussulmanism.

After the leaving of the Russian army, the natives seized him by force from his home and addressed him by his former mussulman name, hoping that he would abjure from Christ. But to all the endearment and persuasion Saint Peter answered: "Father for me and mother -- is God glorified in Trinity: Father and Son and Holy Spirit... If ye believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, then ye be kin to me; in holy Baptism the name Peter was given me, and not that, by which ye address me".

Seeing that he would remain steadfast in the faith, his family gave him over to torture, during the time of which until his very death amidst fiercesome torments he did not cease to confess the Name of Christ, uttering: "I am a Christian". The holy martyr was buried in Kazan on the spot, where later was situated an ancient church of the Resurrection of Christ, at the Zhitny-Grain marketplace.

The Holy Martyr Stephen of Kazan

The Holy Martyr Stephen of Kazan was by birth a Tatar. For more than 20 years he suffered a weakness of the legs. After the taking of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible (1552), he believed in Christ and received healing. The saint was baptised by Archpriest Timofei of the Moscow cathedral, who had conveyed a missive of Metropolitan Makarii to the Russian army. After the withdrawal of the Russian army from Kazan, the Tatars -- because of the firmness of his Christian faith, chopped up the martyr Stephen into parts, scattered about his body and plundered his house.

The PriestMartyr Parthenios III

The PriestMartyr Parthenios III, Patriarch of Constantinople, guided the Church in the years 1656-1657. He was accused of state treason and tortured for his refusal to accept Islam. The saint died on Lazarus Saturday in 1657.

The Icon of the Mother of God "the Beclouded Mount"

The Icon of the Mother of God "the Beclouded Mount" (Tuchnaya Gora): About 250-300 years ago this icon was situated in one of the men's monasteries of Tver' and was presented by the superiour to Kosma Volchaninov in gratitude for the fine completion of work in the monastery church. This icon as an holy thing was passed on from generation to generation, but a certain impious grandson of Kosma removed it hanging the icon in an attic. His bride endured many insults from her husband and his relatives. In despair over her marriage she resolved to end it by suicide in a deserted bath-house. On the way there a monk appeared to her and said: "Whither goest thou, unhappy one? Return back; go, pray to the Mother of God of the Beclouded Mountain -- and thou wilt live fine and in peace". The agitated young wife, having returned home, told everything, not concealing even her interrupted intention. They started to search for the monk, but they did not find him, and no one besides her had seen him. This took place on the eve of the feast of the Annunciation to the MostHoly Mother of God. They immediately found the icon in the attic, cleaned off the dirt and set it up in the house in a place of veneration. In the evening the parish priest was invited, who made before the icon the all-night vigil, which from that time was done annually in the house on this day. For more than 150 years the icon was situated in the Volchaninov family. Ekatherina, daughter of Vasilii, the last of the Volchaninov line, entered into marriage with Georgii Ivanovich Konyaev, taking with her the icon of the Mother of god as a very dear inheritance. And in the Konyaev house moliebens and all-night vigils were done on 24 March and 7 November (probably, this was the day of the transfer of the icon from the monastery to the house of Kosma Volchaninov).

In 1863 near a cemetery church of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God it was decided to build a chapel in honour of Sainted Tikhon and the Monk Makarii of Kalyazinsk. The then owner of the icon, Georgii Konyaev (+ 1868, at age 97) wanted to bestow the health-bearing image of the Mother of God to the church. He turned to the clergy with a request to build still another chapel for the wonderworking image of the Mother of God of the "Beclouded Mount". Along with this he said: "I feel the very best place for it is the temple of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God, since the place on which the church was built, in olden times was called a Mount, as being the very highest place in the city. On this Mount in former times the inhabitants in time of flood took up their possessions and here saved themselves from ruin. Let the Queen of Heaven -- the BeClouded Mountain -- rest with your blessing upon this mountain and let all here buried be veiled with Her mercy". On 15 July 1866 the icon was transferred into the constructed chapel, which on the following day was consecrated by the Staritsk bishop Antonii.

On the icon the MostHoly Mother of God is depicted standing on an half-circle elevation -- a mountain; upon Her left arm -- the Divine-Infant with blessing right hand. Upon the head of the Mother of God is a crown, and in Her hand a not-large mountain, on which are seen above churches with cupolas and crosses.

March 25

THE ANNUNCIATION OF OUR MOST BLESSED LADY MOTHER OF GOD AND EVER-VIRGIN MARY

Sermon of Sainted Proklos, Patriarch of Constantinople.

Our present gathering in honour of the MostHoly Virgin inspires me, brethren, to say of Her a word of praise, of benefit also for those come unto this churchly solemnity. It comprises a praise of women, a glorying of their gender, which (glory) is brought it by Her, She Who is at one same time both Mother, and Virgin. O desired and wondrous gathering! Celebrate, O nature, that wherein honour be rendered to Woman; rejoice, O human race, that wherein the Virgin be glorified. "For when sin did abound, grace did superabound" (Rom. 5: 20). The Holy Mother of God and Virgin Mary hath gathered us here, She the pure treasure of virginity, the intended paradise of Second Adam, -- the locus, wherein was accomplished the co-uniting of natures, wherein was affirmed the Counsel of salvific reconciliation.

Whoever is it that ever saw, whoever heard, that within a womb the Limitless God would make habitation, Whom the Heavens cannot circumscribe, Whom the womb of a Virgin limiteth not!?

He born of woman is not only God and He is not only Man: This One born made woman, being the ancient gateway of sin, into the gateway of salvation: where evil poured forth its poison, bringing on disobedience, there the Word made for Himself a living temple, bringing in thither obedience; from whence the arch-sinner Cain sprang forth, there without seed was born Christ the Redeemer of the human race. The Lover-of-Mankind did not disdain to be born of woman, since this bestowed His life. He was not subject to impurity, being settled within the womb, which He Himself arrayed free from all harm. If perchance this Mother did not remain a Virgin, then that born of Her might be a mere man, and the birth would be no wise miraculous; but since She after birth remained a Virgin, then how is He Who is born indeed -- not God? It is an inexplicable mystery, since in an inexplicable manner was born He Who without hindrance went through doors when they were locked. When confessing in Him the co-uniting of two natures, Thomas cried out: "My Lord, and my God!" (Jn. 20: 28).

The Apostle Paul says, that Christ is "to the Jews indeed scandal, and to the Gentiles yet folly" (1 Cor. 1: 23): they did not perceive the power of the mystery, since it was incomprehensible to the mind: "for had they understood, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory" (1 Cor. 2: 8). If the Word had not settled within the womb, then the flesh would not have ascended with Him onto the Divine Throne; if for God it were disdainful to enter into the womb, which He created, then the Angels too would have disdained service to mankind.

That One, Who by His nature was not subject to sufferings, through His love for us subjected Himself to many a suffering. We believe, that Christ not through some gradual ascent towards the Divine nature was made God, but being God, through His mercy He was made Man. We do not say: "a man made God"; but we confess, that God was incarnated and made Man. His Servant was chosen for Himself as Mother by That One Who, in His essence did not have mother, and Who, through Divine foresight having appeared upon the earth in the image of man, does not have here father. How one and the same is He both without father, and without mother, in accord with the words of the Apostle (Heb. 7: 3)? If He -- be only a man, then He cannot be without mother -- but actually He had a Mother. If He -- be God only, then He cannot be without Father -- but in fact He has the Father. And yet as God the Creator He has not mother, and as Man He has not father.

We can be persuaded in this by the very name of the Archangel, making annunciation to Mary: his name -- is Gabriel. What does this name mean? -- it means: "God and man". Since That One about Whom he announced is God and Man, then his very name points beforehand to this miracle, so that with faith be accepted the deed of the Divine dispensation.

To save people would be impossible for a mere man, since every man has need in the Saviour: "for all, -- says Saint Paul, -- have sinned, and come short the Glory of God" (Rom. 3: 23). Since sin subjects the sinner to the power of the devil, and the devil subjects him to death, then our condition did become extremely hapless: there was no sort of way to be delivered from death. There were sent physicians, i.e. the prophets, but they could only the more clearly point out the malady. What did they do? When they saw, that the illness was beyond human skill, they summoned from Heaven the Physician; one of them said "Lord, bend the heavens, and come down" (Ps. 143 [144]: 5); others cried out: "Heal me, O Lord, and I shalt be healed" (Jer. 17: 14); "restore Thine power, and come yet to save us" (Ps. 79 [80]: 3). And yet others: "For if God truly be settled with man upon the earth" (3 [1] Kings 8: 27); "speedily send before Thine tender mercy, O Lord, for we are brought very low" (Ps. 78 [79]: 8). Others said: "O woe to me, my soul! For the pious art perished from the earth, and of the upright amongst men there is none" (Mich. 7: 2). "O God, in help attend to me, O Lord, shield me with Thine help" (Ps. 69 [70]: 1). "If there be delay, endure it, for He that cometh shalt come, and not tarry" (Hab. 2: 3). "Perishing like a lost sheep: seek out Thine servant, who doth hope on Thee" (Ps. 118 [119]: 176). "For God wilt come, our God, and wilt not keep silence" (Ps. 49 [50]: 3). That One, Who by nature is Lord, did not disdain human nature, enslaved by the sinister power of the devil, the merciful God would not accede for it to be forever under the power of the devil, the Ever-Existing One came and gave in ransom His Blood; for the redemption of the race of man from death He gave up His Body, which He had accepted of the Virgin, He delivered the world from the curse of the law, annihilating death by His death. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law", -- exclaims Saint Paul (Gal. 3: 13).

Thus know, that our Redeemer is not simply a mere man, since all the human race was enslaved to sin. But He likewise is not God only, non-partaking of human nature. He had body, since if He had not clothed Himself in me, He then likewise should not have saved me. But, having settled within the womb of the Virgin, He clothed Himself in my fate, and within this womb He perfected a miraculous change: He bestowed the Spirit and received a body, That One only indeed (dwelling) with the Virgin and (born) of the Virgin. And so, Who is He, made manifest to us? The Prophet David doth point it out for thee in these words: "Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord" (Ps. 117 [118]: 26). But tell us even more clearly, O prophet, Who is He? The Lord is the God of Hosts, says the prophet: "God is the Lord, and hath revealed Himself unto us" (Ps. 117 [118]: 27). "The Word was made flesh" (Jn. 1: 14): there were co-united the two natures, and the union remained without mingling.

He came to save, but had also to suffer. What has the one in common with the other? A mere man cannot save; and God in only His nature cannot suffer. By what means was done the one and the other? Wherein that He, Emmanuel, being God, was made also Man; both this, that what He was, He saved by, -- and this, that what He was made, He suffered as. Wherefore, when the Church beheld, that the Jewish throng had crowned Him with thorns, bewailing the violence of the throng, -- it said: "Daughters of Zion, go forth and behold the crown, of which is crowned He of His mother" (Sng. 3: 11). He wore the crown of thorns and destroyed the judgement to suffering from the thorns. He Only is That One both in the bosom of the Father and in the womb of the Virgin; He Only is That One -- in the arms of His Mother and in the wings of the winds (Ps. 103 [104]: 3); He, to Whom the Angels bowed down in worship, at that same time reclined at table with publicans. Upon Him the Seraphim dared not to gaze, and at the same time Pilate pronounced sentence upon Him. He -- is That One and Same, Whom the servant did smite and before whom did tremble all creation. He was nailed to the Cross and ascended to the Throne of Glory, -- He was placed in the tomb and He stretched out the heavens like a skin (Ps. 103 [104]: 2), -- He was numbered amidst the dead and He emptied hell; here upon the earth, they cursed at Him as a transgressor, -- there in Heaven, they exclaimed Him glory as the All-Holy. What an incomprehensible mystery! I see the miracles, and I confess, that He -- is God; I see the sufferings, and I cannot deny, that He -- is Man. Emmanuel opened up the doors of nature, as man, and preserved unharmed the seal of virginity, as God: He emerged from the womb thus as He entered through the announcing; the same wondrously was He both born and conceived: without passion He entered, and without impairment He emerged, as concerning this doth say the Prophet Ezekiel: "He returned me back the way of the gates of the outer sanctuaries, looking upon the east: and these had been shut. And saith the Lord to me: son of man, these gates shalt be closed, and not open, and no one go through them: for the Lord God of Israel, He Only, shalt enter and come forth, and they wilt be shut" (Ez. 44: 1-2). Here -- it clearly indicates the Holy Virgin and Mother of God Mary. Let cease all contention, and let the Holy Scripture enlighten our reason, so that we too receive the Heavenly Kingdom unto all eternity. Amen.

March 26

Synaxis of Archangel Gabriel

The Archangel Gabriel was chosen by the Lord to make the blest-announcement to the Virgin Mary about the Incarnation of the Son of God from Her, to the great rejoicing of all mankind. Therefore on the day after the feast of the Annunciation -- the day itself on which the All-Pure Virgin Herself is glorified, we give thanks to the Lord and we venerate His messenger Gabriel, who contributed to the mystery of our salvation.

The holy Archistrategos (Leader of the Heavenly Hosts) Gabriel acted in service to the Almighty God. He announced to Old Testament mankind about the future Incarnation of the Son of God; he inspired the Prophet Moses during the writing of the Pentateuch books of the Bible, he announced to the Prophet Daniel about the coming tribulations of the Hebrew People (Dan. 8: 16, 9: 21-24); he appeared to Righteous Anna with the news of the birth from her of the Ever-Blessed Virgin Mary. The holy Archangel Gabriel stayed constantly with the Holy Virgin Mary when She was a child in the Jerusalem Temple and afterwards watched over Her throughout all Her earthly life. He appeared to the Priest Zachariah, foretelling the birth of the Forerunner of the Lord -- John the Baptist. The Lord dispatched him to Saint Joseph the Betrothed: he appeared to him in a dream, to reveal to him the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God from the All-Pure Virgin Mary, and warned him of the wicked intentions of Herod, ordering him to flee into Egypt with the Divine-Infant and the Mother of God. When the Lord before His Passion prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane to the extent of sweating blood, according to Church tradition, to strengthen Him there was sent from Heaven the Archangel Gabriel, whose very name signifies "Strength of God" (Lk. 22: 43).

The Myrh-Bearing Women heard from the Archangel the joyous news about the Resurrection of Christ.

Mindful this day of the manifold appearances of the holy Archangel Gabriel and of his zealous fulfilling of the Divine Will, and confessing his intercession before the Lord for Christians, the Orthodox Church calls upon its children with faith and with fervour to have recourse in prayer to the great Angel.

The Priest Martyr Ireneius

The Priest Martyr Ireneius suffered during the time of persecution against Christians under the Roman emperors Diocletian and Maximian (284-305).

He was a presbyter, and together with his wife he raised his children in Christian piety and gained great respect for his educated mind and strict manner of life.

He was later on made bishop in the city of Sirmium in Pannonia (modern-day Hungary). Because of his fervent preaching of faith in Christ he was arrested, and brought before a city-governor named Probus. Refusing to renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, the saint was handed over for torture. Witnessing his torments were the parents, kinsmen and friends of the saint, who attempted to persuade him to submit, but the martyr remained steadfast. After cruel tortures, the holy confessor was for a long time in prison. Probus tried to sway the will of the martyr, urging him to spare his life for the sake of his sons. But the martyr replied: "My sons believe in God, Who wilt care for them; for me however, nothing will compel me to renounce my Christ". The governor gave orders to throw the saint into a river. They led the martyr on the bridge crossing the River Sava, where he in kneeling then turned in prayer to the Lord for his flock the Sirmium Church. After his prayers they beheaded the PriestMartyr Ireneius, and threw his body into the river.

The Holy Martyrs Presbyters Bathusius and Vercus, the Monk Aprila, and the Layfolk

The Holy Martyrs Presbyters Bathusius and Vercus, the Monk Aprila, and the Layfolk: Avius, Agnus, Reas, Hegathrax, Silas, Sigicius, Sonorilus, Suimulius, Fermus, Fillus, Constans, Prince Agathon and the Women Martyrs: Anna, Alla, Larissa, Moiko, Mamika, Wirko, Animaisa (Animaida), the Gothic Princess Haatha and the Gothic Princess Duclida -- suffered in about the year 375 under king Ungerich, a persecutor of Christians. The king gave orders to burn down a church during the time of Divine-services. In the fiery inferno perished 308 people, of whom only twenty-one are known of by name. The Gothic king's widow Alla together with her daughter Duclida gathered up the remains of the holy martyrs and carried them off to Syria. She later returned to her native land, where after a certain while she was stoned and died a martyr, together with her son Agathon. The relics of the holy martyrs were left to Duclida, who sometime during the reigns of the emperors Valerian I (364-375) and Theodosius the Great (379-395), went to Kyzikos and gave over part of the relics for the founding of a church. The death of Righteous Duclida occurred peacefully.

The Monk Malkhos

The Monk Malkhos was the only son of a farmer, living not far from Syrian Antioch. Upon attaining the age of maturity, his parents had prepared to marry him off, but Malkhos secretly left his parental home and accepted monastic tonsure in one of the monasteries, where he underwent obediences over the course of many years. Learning about the death of his father, he decided to visit his widowed mother. The hegumen of the monastery would not bless the intent of the monk, but Malkhos disobeyed him, and joining a group of pilgrims, he set out for his native district. Along the way Saracens fell upon them, and took them all captive to become slaves. The master of Malkhos compelled him to marry one of his slaves. Saint Malkhos, with the mutual consent of his wife, preserved the vow of chastity. And with his spiritual spouse he fled from captivity. The master pursued them, but the fugitives hid in a cave, which proved to be the den of a lioness. The lioness did not touch the fugitives, but tore into the pursuers. Saint Malkhos, fulfilling the request of his wife, sent her off to a women's monastery, while he himself returned to his own monastery. By then he no longer found the hegumen among the living, and nevermore did the Monk Malkhos forsake the walls of the monastery. For the edification of monks he often told about his woes, which came about through disobedience. To the very end of his life the Monk Malkhos humbly asceticised in the monastery, where he peacefully died

The Monk Basil

The Monk Basil in youth left the world and asceticised in a desolate place. One time courtfolk of the Byzantine emperor were passing on by and saw him shaggy and in tatters, and they were alarmed by his strange appearance. And suspecting something strange, they captured the ascetic and brought him to the city, where the patrician Samon began an interrogation. To the question, who he was, the saint answered only, that he was a new-comer and stranger in the land. They subjected the monk to terrible tortures, but he endured it in silence, not wishing to relate about his ascetic life. Samon, having lost his patience, asked Saint Basil: "Impious one, how long wilt thou hide, who thou art and whither from?" To this the perspicacious saint replied: "It is moreso mete to call impious those, who like thee lead a life in all manner of impurity". After his public unmasking Samon in a rage gave orders to suspend the saint upside down with his hands and feet tied back. The torments were so very cruel, that those witnessing them began to murmur against Samon. When they took down the holy ascetic from the three-day torture, he proved to be alive and unharmed. Samon attributed this miracle to sorcery and gave Saint Basil for tearing apart by an hungry lion. But the lion did not touch the saint and only lay peacefully at his feet. Samon in his impotence gave orders to drown Blessed Basil the sea, but two dolphins came beneathe the saint and brought him to shore in the Constantinople suburb of Eudoma. The monk went into the city, when near the Golden Gates he met a sick man named John, suffering from fever. Saint Basil healed the sick man in the Name of the Saviour and at John's request remained at his home. Numerous believers came also to the saint for advice and guidance, and also to receive healing from sickness through his prayers. The Monk Basil, endowed with the gift of foresight, unmasked sinners and turned them onto the path of repentance, and foretold events to come. Among those visiting the monk was Gregory, who became his disciple and afterwards wrote a detailed life of his teacher. One time at an inn Gregory found a valuable sash, dropped by the inn-keeper's daughter. He hid it on him, so as to pawn it and give the money to the poor. But on the way home he lost the sash together with other things. In a dream he received an admonition from Saint Basil, showing him a broken pot with the words: "If anyone filches such an useless thing, they wilt be chastised four times over. Thou didst hide away a precious sash and thou wilt be condemned as a thief. Thou ought to return what thou didst find". When died Saint Theodora, who had attended to the Monk Basil, Gregory very much wanted to learn about her life beyond the grave and often he asked the holy ascetic to reveal this to him. Through the saint's prayers, Gregory saw in a dream Saint Theodora, who told him how her soul underwent tribulations after death and how the power of the prayers of Blessed Basil had helped her (the Commemoration of the Nun Theodora of Tsargrad is 30 December).

The Monk Basil died in about the year 944 at the age of 110.

The Church calls him Basil the New, distinguishing him from other ascetics of the same name living before him.

Saint Bathusius

Saint Bathusius was one of twenty-six martyrs who were killed by the Goths around the year 375 under Jungerich, a persecutor of Christians. Ancient synaxaria of the Gothic Church recount the martyrdom of twenty-six Christians in the time of the emperors Valentinian, Valens, and Gratian. The historian Sozomen says that King Athanaric was enraged to see his subjects embracing Christianity because of the preaching of the Arian bishop Ulfilas. So, he ordered many of them to be tortured and executed, often without a trial.

King Athanaric's ministers placed a statue in a chariot and paraded it before the tents which Christians used for church services. Those who worshiped the idol and offered sacrifice were spared, the rest were burned alive in the tent. Jungerich gave orders to burn down a church during divine services. In the fiery inferno 308 people perished, of whom only twenty-one are known by name. There was also an anonymous man who came to the tent and confessed Christ. He was martyred with the others. Different manuscripts give variants of their names.

In the reign of Valentinian and Theodosius (383-392), the Gothic king's widow Gaatha (who was an Orthodox Christian) and her daughter Duclida gathered up the relics of the holy martyrs and brought them to Syria with the help of some priests and a layman named Thyellas. Gaatha later returned to her native land, where she was stoned and died as a martyr, along with her son Agathon.

The relics of the holy martyrs were left to Duclida, who went to Cyzicus in Asia Minor and gave some of the relics for the founding of a church. St Duclida died in peace.

St. Ludger, Bishop of Münster in Germany

St Ludger was a missionary among the Frisians and Saxons, first Bishop of Munster in Westphalia, b. at Zuilen near Utrecht about 744; d. 26 March, 809. His parents, Thiadgrim and Liafburg, were wealthy Frisians of noble lineage. In 753 Ludger saw the great apostle of Germany, St. Boniface, and this sight and the subsequent martyrdom of the saint made deep impressions on his youthful mind. At his urgent request he was sent to the school which St. Gregory [of Utrecht, Abbot (c.707-c.775)] had founded at Utrecht, and made good progress. In 767 Gregory, who did not wish to receive episcopal consecration himself, sent Alubert, who had come from England to assist him in his missionary work, to York to be consecrated bishop. Ludger accompanied him to receive deaconship and to study under Alcuin, but after a year returned to Utrecht. Some time later he was granted an opportunity to continue his studies in the same school, and here contracted a friendship with Alcuin which lasted throughout life. In 773 a friction arose between the Anglo-Saxons and the Frisians, and Ludger, to provide for his personal safety, left for home, taking with him a number of valuable books. In 775 he was sent to Deventer to restore the chapel destroyed by the heathen Saxons and to find the relics of St. Lebwin (Liafwin), who had laboured there as missionary, had built the chapel, and had died there. Ludger was successful in his undertaking, and then taught in the school of Utrecht. He and some others were next sent north to destroy the heathen places of worship west of the Lauwers Zee.

After Ludger had been ordained at Cologne in 777 the missions of Ostergau (Ostracha, i.e., Eastern Friesland) were committed to his charge, and Dokkum, the place of the martyrdom of St. Boniface, was made the centre. During each autumn he came to Utrecht to teach at the cathedral school. In this manner he toiled for about seven years, until Widukind, the indomitable leader of the Saxons, induced the Frisians to drive out the missionaries, burn the churches, and return to the heathen gods. Ludger escaped with his disciples. In 785 he visited Rome, was well received by Pope Adrian, and obtained from him good counsel and special faculties. From Rome he went to Monte Cassino, where he lived according to the Rule of St. Benedict, but did not bind himself by vows. The news of Widukind's submission, and the arrival of Charlemagne at Monte Cassino in 787, put an end to Ludger's peaceful retirement. He was appointed missionary to the five districts at the mouth of the Ems, which was still occupied almost entirely by heathens. With his usual energy and unbounded confidence in God he began his work; and, knowing the language and habits of the people, he was able to turn to advantage many national traits in effecting their conversion. His zeal knew no bounds; the island of Bant, long since swallowed by the sea, is mentioned as the scene of his apostolic work. He visited Heligoland (Fossitesland), where St. Willibrord had preached; he destroyed the remaining vestiges of heathenism, and built a Christian temple. The well once sacred to the heathen gods became his baptismal font. On his return he met the blind bard Berulef, cured his blindness, and made him a devout Christian.

In 793 Charlemagne wished to make Ludger Bishop of Trier, but he declined the honour, while declaring himself willing to undertake the evangelizing of the Saxons. Charlemagne gladly accepted the offer, and North-western Saxony was thus added to Ludger's missionary field. To defray necessary expenses the income of the Abbey of Leuze, in the present Belgian Province of Hainaut, was given him, and he was told to pick his fellow-labourers from the members of that abbey. As Mimigernaford (Mimigardeford, Miningarvard) had been designated the centre of the new district, Ludger built a monastery (monasterium) there, from which the place took its name Munster. Here he lived with his monks according to the rule of St. Chrodegang of Metz, which in 789 had been made obligatory in the Frankish territories (Schmitz Kallenberg, "Monasticon Westphaliae", Munster, 1909, p. 62, places the date of foundation between 805 and 809). He also built a chapel on the left of the Aa in honour of the Blessed Virgin, besides the churches of Billerbeck, Coesfeld, Herzfeld, Nottuln, and others. Near the church of Nottuln he built a home for his sister, St. Gerburgis, who had consecrated herself to God. Many pious virgins soon gathered about her, and so arose the first convent in Westphalia (c. 803). At the request of Charlemagne, Ludger received episcopal consecration some time between 13 Jan., 802, and 23 April, 805, for on the first date he is still styled abbot, while on the latter he is called bishop (Hist. Jahrb., I, 283). His principal care was to have a good and efficient clergy. He, to a great extent, educated his students personally, and generally took some of them on his missionary tours. Since his sojourn at Monte Cassino Ludger had entertained the idea of founding a Benedictine monastery. During the past years he had been acquiring property and looking for a suitable location. At length he decided upon Werden; but it was only in 799 that building began in earnest, and in 804 that he consecrated the church.

On Passion Sunday, 809, Ludger heard Mass at Coesfeld early in the morning and preached, then went to Billerbeck, where at nine o'clock he again preached, and said his last Mass. That evening he expired peacefully amidst his faithful followers. A dispute arose between Munster and Werden for the possession of his body. His brother Hildegrim being appealed to, after consultation with the emperor, decided in favour of Werden, and here the relics have rested for eleven centuries. Portions have been brought to Munster and Billerbeck. From 22 June to 4 July, 1909, the Diocese of Munster celebrated the eleventh centenary. "Bishop Hermann Dingelstad, the present successor of the apostle, celebrated the Jubilee, uniting it with the golden jubilee of his own priesthood. A most touching scene was witnessed when thousands of men, who had come from far and near, after a stirring sermon of the orator-bishop of Treves, Mgr Felix Korum, renewed their baptismal vows at the same well from which St. Ludgerus had baptized their forefathers. A Benedictine abbot and eleven bishops, among them the archbishop of the saint's Frisian home, Utrecht, and Cardinal Fischer of Cologne, took part in the sacred celebrations".

Saint Larissa

St. Larissa was one of twenty-six martyrs who were killed by the Goths around the year 375 under Jungerich, a persecutor of Christians. Ancient synaxaria of the Gothic Church recount the martyrdom of twenty-six Christians in the time of Emperors Valentinian, Valens, and Gratian. King Jungerich was enraged to see his subjects embracing Christianity because of the preaching of the Arian bishop, Ulfilas, and therefore ordered many of them to be tortured and executed, often without trial.

King Jungerich’s ministers placed a statue in a chariot and paraded it before the tents where Christians met for church services. Those who worshiped the idol and offered sacrifice were spared, while the rest were burned alive in the tent. Jungerich also gave orders to burn down a church during divine services. In the fiery inferno, 308 people perished, of whom only twenty-one are known by name. There was also an anonymous man who came to the tent and confessed Christ. He was martyred with the others.

March 27

The Holy Martyress Matrona of Soluneia

The Holy Martyress Matrona of Soluneia (Thessalonika) suffered in the III or IV Century. She was a slave of the Jewess Pautila, wife of one of the military-commanders of Soluneia. Pautila forced her slave into apostasy and conversion to Judaism, but Saint Matrona, having her faith in Christ since her youthful years, still firmly believed in Christ and went to church secretly unbeknownst to her vengeful mistress.

One time Pautila, having learned that Blessed Matrona had been in church, asked: "Why hast thou not come to our synagogue, but instead did walk to the Christian church?" Saint Matrona boldly answered: "Because in the Christian church God is present, but He is gone away from the Jewish synagogue". Pautila went into a rage and mercilessly beat Saint Matrona, and having tied her shut her into a dark closet. In the morning Pautila discovered, that Saint Matrona had been freed of her bonds by an unknown Power. In a rage Pautila beat the martyress almost to death, then tied her again even more tightly and locked her in the closet, having sealed the door, so that no one might offer help to the sufferer. The holy martyress was there over the course of four days without food or water, and when Pautila opened the door, she again beheld Saint Matrona out of her bonds standing at prayer. In a fierce rage Pautila began to beat the holy martyress with a stout cane and, when the saint was barely breathing, the fierce woman locked her in the room, wherein also the Martyress Matrona gave up her spirit to God.

The body of the holy martyress was thrown from the city wall, by order of Pautila. Christians took up the much-suffered body of the holy martyress and reverently gave it over to burial. And later on, the bishop of Soluneia, Alexander, built a church in the name of the holy martyress, in which they put her holy relics, glorified by miracles.

The judgement of God soon overtook the tormentor Pautila at that very place, where the body of Saint Matrona had been throw from the high wall, -- she herself stumbled, fell off it and was smashed, having received her just reward.

The Holy Martyrs Manuel and Theodosius

The Holy Martyrs Manuel and Theodosius suffered for their faith in Christ in the year 304 in Sirmium. Seeing, how daily the pagans gave Christians over to death, they believed in Christ and resolved to suffer for their faith. They boldly confessed themselves as Christians in front of the governor. The governor and those around him marvelled at their bravery. By order of the governor, they locked up Saints Manuel and Theodosius in prison and put a strict watch over them. After several days the governor gave orders to bring the saints from prison and he began to urge them to renounce Christ and instead offer sacrifice to the idols. The holy martyrs however were steadfast in their confession. Then the governor gave orders to suspend Saints Manuel and Theodosius from a tree and to tear at them with sharp iron hooks, after which they impaled the martyrs on a sharp trident, and finally, they beheaded them.

The Monk John the Perspicacious of Egypt

The Monk John the Perspicacious of Egypt was born at the beginning of the IV Century. He lived in the city of Likopolis (Middle Egypt) and was a carpenter. At the age of twenty-five he went off to a monastery, where he accepted monastic tonsure. Over the course of twenty-five years the Monk John asceticised at various monasteries, and then wanting complete solitude, he withdrew into the Thebaid onto Mount Bolcha. Saint John then spent twenty-five years in solitude, never leaving the spot. He conversed with people coming to him through a small aperture, through which he also accepted frugal amounts of food brought him. The Monk John already after thirty years in seclusion was granted by God the graced gift of perspicacious foresight. Thus, he predicted to the emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395) the victory over his adversaries Maximus and Eugenius, and a military victory over the Gauls. For many visiting him he foretold events in their lives and gave them guidance. The holy ascetic distributed blessed oil to the sick visiting him, and anointing with it he healed them from various maladies.

The Monk John predicted to the monk Palladios, who wrote down his life, that he would become a bishop. The prediction of the seer was fulfilled, and Palladios was made bishop of Bithynia (Asia Minor).

The Monk John in his directives commanded first of all to have humility: "Imitate in the measure of your strength the virtuous life of the holy fathers and, if ye fulfill everything, then hope not upon yourself nor praise yourself. For there are many such people, which, having reached perfection in virtue and becoming puffed up with pride, plunge from the heights into the abyss. Observe carefully: is your prayer fervent? your purity of heart not transgressed? your mind undisturbed by extraneous thoughts during time of prayer? observe, do you reject the world with all your soul? or go about to spy out the virtues of others, in vain then with your own particular virtues? Are ye concerned to put forth your good example before other people? Take heed, art ye become conceited in your own righteousness, puffed up with pride somehow by your good deed? Take heed, that during time of prayer thoughts about worldly things do not enter your head, since there is nothing more silly, than to converse with the lips to God, while in thought to be far off from Him. This often happens with those, which not so much renounce the world, as rather that they are concerned to comply with the world. A man, thinking about many things, is given over to cares about things worldly and perishable, but being subjected to concern about things worldly, a man cannot yet with his spiritual eyes behold God. For a man, meditating always about God, extraneous thoughts ought to be all in vain. For this man, who has attained to a certain knowledge of God (full knowledge of God no one can attain to), the mysteries of God are revealed to him, and he sees the future as the present, and like a saint he works miracles and receives through his prayer everything that he beseeches of God.

Love silence, child, dwelling always in Divine-meditation and praying God always, that He grant you a pure mind, free from sinful thoughts. Worthy of praise certainly is that ascetic who, living in the world, practises the virtues, rendering kindliness to strangers or distributing alms, or aiding in the work of others, or dwelling constantly without anger. Such a man is praiseworthy, since he dwelleth in virtue, fulfilling the commands of God, while yet not leaving off from earthly affairs. But better than this and more worthy of praise would be that one who, dwelling constantly in Divine-meditation, would ascend from the corporeal to the incorporeal, letting go of the care and concern of others, himself striving towards the Heavenly, constantly standing before God, having relinquished everything worldly and being not still attached to the world by earthly cares. Such a man is in proximity to God, Whom he doth glorify in prayers and psalmody".

With these and similar salvific instructions, and with directive discourse and example of like-angelic life, the monk brought much spiritual benefit to people.

The Monk John of Egypt survived into old age and expired to the Lord in the year 395, at the age of ninety.

Sainted Ephrem, Archbishop of Rostov

Sainted Ephrem, Archbishop of Rostov, was ordained and installed upon the Rostov cathedra-chair on 13 April 1427 by the holy Metropolitan of Moscow Photii (Comm. 2 July). In 1449 he was elevated to the dignity of archbishop by Sainted Jona, Metropolitan of Moscow (Comm. 31 March). Over the course of 27 years Saint Ephrem guided the Rostov flock, and reposed on 27 March 1454. They buried the body of the holy archpastor in the Rostov Uspensky cathedral. The commemoration of Sainted Ephrem is made also on 23 May, in the Sobor-Assemblage of the Rostovo-Yaroslavsk Saints.

The Monk Alexander of Vocha and Galich

The Monk Alexander of Vocha and Galich pursued asceticism during the XV-XVI Centuries. He founded a monastery in honour of the Transfiguration (Preobrazhenie) of the Lord on the banks of the River Vocha 50 versts distant from Galich. The Monk Alexander reposed at the beginning of the XVI Century and was buried in the church of the Transfiguration monastery founded by him. Soon after the death of the holy ascetic there began the veneration of him, his image was written and set up over the relics, buried beneathe a crypt.

Venerable John "The Discerner"

John was a woodsman until his twenty-fifth year and then, driven by an insatiable desire for constant prayer, withdrew into the wilderness where he lived until his death, during his ninetieth year. He was a corporeal being but lived as an incorporeal being. He discerned the heart of every person who came to him and was able to discern their name, their desires, and their thoughts. He prophesied to Emperor Theodosius the outcome of his battles. He prophesied for generals, monastics, and for all who found it necessary to know what was hidden for them in the darkness of future days. A prince once begged John to receive his wife who especially wanted to meet him. The saint did not allow empty inquisitiveness but appeared to the wife of the prince in a dream showing her what he was like. When the woman described her vision in the dream to her husband, he confirmed that, indeed, this was the likeness of the saint. To every visitor, he taught humility as the basis of the virtues, always citing examples from life of how pride has toppled many exalted characters into dust and led them into serious sins. He endured many assaults of evil spirits. On one occasion, Satan appeared to him with a myriad of demons under the guise of shining angels. They pressured him to worship Satan, lying to him, saying that it [Satan] is Christ. But John answered wisely, "I bow down and worship my King, Jesus Christ, everyday. If that were He, He would not demand me to do so now, especially since I already worship Him." Following these words, all the evil powers vanished as smoke. He died peacefully kneeling in prayer in his ninetieth year.

St. Rupert, Archbishop of Salzburg and Apostle of Bavaria and Austria

Saint Rupert was First Bishop of Salzburg, contemporary of Childebert III, king of the Franks (695-711), date of birth unknown; d. at Salzburg, Easter Sunday, 27 March, 718. According to an old tradition, he was a scion of the Frankish Merovingian family. The assumption of 660 as the year of his birth is merely legendary. According to the oldest short biographical notices in the "Mon. Germ. Script.", XI, 1-15, Rupert was noted for simplicity, prudence, and the fear of God; he was a lover of truth in his discourse, upright in opinion, cautious in counsel, energetic in action, far-seeing in his charity, and in all his conduct a glorious model of rectitude. While he was Bishop of Worms, the fame of his learning and piety drew many from far and wide. The report of the bishop's ability reached Duke Theodo II of Bavaria, who had placed himself at the head of the current ecclesiastical movement in Bavaria. Theodo sent Rupert messengers with the request that, he should come to Bavaria to revive, confirm, and propagate the spirit of Christianity there. Despite the work of early missionaries, Bavaria was only superficially Christian; its very Christianity was indeed to some extent Arian, while heathen customs and views were most closely interwoven with the external Christianity which it had retained. St. Rupert acceded to Theodo's request, after he had by messengers made himself familiar with the land and people of Bavaria. St. Rupert was received with great honour and ceremony by Theodo in the old residential town of Ratisbon (696). He entered immediately upon his apostolic labours, which extended from the territory of the Danube to the borders of Lower Pannonia, and upon his missionary journey came to Lorch. Thence he travelled to the lonely shores of the Wallersee, where he built a church in honour of Saint Peter, thereby laying the foundation of the present market-town of Seekirchen in the Newmarket district of Salzburg. From the Roman colony there Rupert obtained an account of the ancient Roman town of Juvavum, upon the site of which there still remained many more or less dilapidated buildings, overgrown with briars and brushwood.

Having personally verified the accuracy of this account concerning the place and position, Rupert requested Theodo, in the interests of his apostolic mission to the country, to give him the territory of Juvavum (which was still a place of considerable commerce) for the erection of a monastery and an episcopal see. The duke granted this petition, bequeathing the territory of Juvavum (the modern Salzburg), two square miles in area, to St. Rupert and his successors. At the foot of the precipice of the Monchberg, where once St. Maximus, a disciple of St. Severin, had suffered martyrdom with his companions (476), St. Rupert erected the first church in Salzburg, the Church of St. Peter, in honour of the Prince of the Apostles, as well as a monastery. Upon the lofty prominences (Nonnberg) to the southeast of the town, where the old Roman fortress once towered, he established a convent of nuns which, like the monastery of the Mönchberg, he placed under the protection and Rule of St. Benedict. To set his institutions upon a solid basis, Rupert repaired home, and returned with twelve companions besides his niece Ehrentraud (Erindruda), whom he made abbess over the Benedictine Convent of Nonnberg, while he with his twelve companions formed the first congregation of the famous Benedictine Monastery of St. Peter at Salzburg, which remains to the present day. St. Rupert thenceforth devoted himself entirely to the work of salvation and conversion which he had already begun, founding in connection therewith many churches and monasteries — e.g., Maxglan, near Salzburg, Maximilianszelle (now Bischofshofen in Pongau), Altotting, and others. After a life of extraordinarily successful activity, he died at Salzburg, aided by the prayers of his brethren in the order; his body reposed in the St. Peterskirche until 24 Sept., 774, when his disciple and successor, Abbot-Bishop St. Virgil, had a portion of his remains removed to the cathedral. On 24 Sept., 1628, these relics were interred by Archbishop Paris von Ladron (1619-54) under the high altar of the new cathedral. Since then the town and district of Salzburg solemnize the feast of St. Rupert, Apostle of Bavaria and Carlnthia, on 24 September.

March 28

The Monk Ilarion (Hilary) the New

The Monk Ilarion (Hilary) the New, Hegumen of Pelikition Monastery, from the time of his youth devoted himself to the service of God and spent many years as an hermit. Because of his holy and immaculate life he was at first granted the dignity of presbyter, and later on he was made hegumen of the Pelikition monastery (nearby the Dardanelles Straits). The Monk Ilarion was granted of the Lord gifts of perspicacity and wonderworking. By the graced power of prayer he brought down rain during a time of drought, and like the Prophet Elisei (Elijah) he separated the waters of a river, he rid harmful beasts from the fields, he filled the nets of fishermen during a time of luckless fishing, and he did many other miracles. Besides which, he was glorified by the gift of healing the sick and casting out demons. The monk suffered in the year 754 on Great Thursday of Holy Week, when the military-commnander Lakhanodrakon -- in pursuit of icon-venerators, suddenly descended upon the Pelikition monastery, boldly forcing his way into the church during the time of Divine-services, disrupting the service and throwing the Holy Gifts upon the ground. Forty-two monks were arrested, slapped into chains, dispatched to the Edessa district and murdered. The remaining monks were dealt horrible mutilations, they beat them, they scorched their beards with fire, they smeared their faces with tar and cut off the noses of certain of the confessors. During the time of this tormenting persecution the Monk Ilarion died for the veneration of icons.

The Monk Ilarion left behind spiritual works, in which are contained profound moral directives about spiritual asceticism. The Monk Joseph of Volotsk (Comm. 9 September and 18 October) was well acquainted with the work of the Monk Ilarion, and in his own theological works he likewise expounded the significance of monastic effort.

The Monk Stephen the Confessor

The Monk Stephen the Confessor, Hegumen of Trigleion Monastery, suffered under the iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820). From the time of his youth the holy ascetic dedicated his life to God and accepted monastic tonsure. He later became head of the Trigleion monastery near Constantinople. When persecution again began against holy icons, the saintly hegumen was summoned to an interrogation, where they tried to force him to sign to a rejection of icon-veneration. The Monk Stephen steadfastly refused to betray Orthodoxy and he boldly denounced the emperor for impiety. They subjected the saint to cruel torments, after which they sent him off into imprisonment in the year 815. Weakened and sick, the holy Confessor Stephen soon died in prison from his sufferings.

The MonkMartyr Evstratii of Pechersk

The MonkMartyr Evstratii of Pechersk was born in the XI Century at Kiev into a wealthy family. At maturity he accepted monastic tonsure at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery, having given away all his substance to the poor. The Monk Evstratii humbly underwent obediences at the monastery, strictly fulfilling the rule of prayer and passing his days in fasting and vigilance.

In 1096 the Polovetsians fell upon Kiev and ravaged the Pechersk monastery, doing away with many of the monks, but the Monk Evstratii was taken into captivity, and with thirty monastic labourers and twenty Kievan people he was sold into slavery to a certain Jew, living in the city of Korsun. The impious Jew began to urge the captives to renounce Christ, threatening to kill those that refused by starving them in their very shackles. But the brave Monk Evstratii prayerfully encouraged and exhorted his brother Christians with spiritual guidance: "Brothers! Whoso of us that is baptised and believeth in Christ, let him not betray the vow, given during Baptism. Christ hath made us reborn by water and the Spirit, He hath freed us from the curse of the law by His Blood, and He hath made us heirs of His Kingdom. If we live -- we shalt live for the Lord; if we die -- we die in the Lord and at the time of death we shall find eternal life". Inspired by the words of the monk, the captives preferred rather to perish from lack of food and drink, than to renounce Christ, Who is the food and drink of Life Eternal. Exhausted by hunger and thirst, all fifty captives after some days perished. Only the Monk Evstratii remained alive, since from his youthful years he was accustomed to fasting. Languishing with hunger, he still during the course of fourteen days did not touch food nor water. The impious Jew, seeing that because of the black-garbed monk his money paid out for the captives had been lost, decided to take revenge on the holy monk.

The Radiant Resurrection of Christ drew nigh, and the Jewish slave-owner at the time of celebrating the Jewish Passover and having gathered together his companions, then crucified the Monk Evstratii on a cross. The cruel tormentors gathered around the crucified saint, and mocking the passion-bearer offered him to taste of their Passover. To this the MonkMartyr answered: "The Lord hath now bestown upon me a great grace. He hath granted me the mercy to suffer for His Name on a cross after the manner of His Suffering...".

Hearing this, the enraged Jew grabbed a spear and struck with it at the MonkMartyr Evstratii nailed to the cross. The holy body of the sufferer, having been taken down from the cross, was thrown into the sea. Christian believers long searched for the holy relics of the martyr, but were not able to find them. But through the Providence of God the incorrupt relics were found in a cave and worked many miracles. Later on they were transferred to the Nearer Caves of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery.

The prediction of the holy Martyr Evstratii, that his blood would be avenged, was fulfilled immediately after his death. On that day was promulgated a decree of the Greek emperor to expel from Korsun all the Jews, depriving them of their property, and to put to death their elders for the torture of Christians. The Jew, who crucified the MonkMartyr Evstratii, was hung on a tree, having received just recompense for his wickedness.

The Monk Ilarion of Gdovsk and Pskovoezersk

The Monk Ilarion of Gdovsk and Pskovoezersk ("Pskov-Lake"), was a disciple of the Monk Evphrosyn of Pskov (Comm. 15 May). In 1460 on the banks of the River Zhelcha, not far from Gdov, he founded the Ozersk (Lake) Pokrov (Protection of the Mother of God) monastery. The monastery was situated on the boundary with the Livonian Knights order, and the monks constantly suffered the incursions of the military order. Despite the harsh conditions and insufficiency of means, the Monk Ilarion maintained an high degree of reverence at the monastery, and made great efforts to adorn and build up the monastery.

The Monk Ilarion reposed on 28 March 1476 and was buried at the north doors of the iconostas in the church of the Protection of the MostHoly Mother of God, in the monastery founded by him. Afterwards at the monastery was built a temple in honour of the Nativity of Christ, the left chapel of which was dedicated in the name of the founder of the Gdovsk monastery. The commemoration of the Monk Ilarion of Gdov is made also on 21 October, on the day of saint-name in common.

The Holy Martyrs Jonah and Barachis and the Others with them

The Holy Martyrs Jonah and Barachis and the Others with them: The brothers Jonah and Barachis were Christians. They lived in the village of Yasa in Persia during the time of the emperor Sapor (310-331), a fierce persecutor of Christians. Having learned, that Christians were being tortured in the city of Baravokh, they set out thence, and found there in prison the Martyrs Zanyphanes, Lazaros, Maruphanes, Narsynes, Ilias, Marinos, Habib, Sybeiphines and Sava, -- and they encouraged them to hold on firmly to the Christian faith to the very end. The holy brothers were arrested and brought to trial before the Persian princes Masdrath, Siroth and Marmis, who began to urge them to bow down in worship to the sun, and to fire and water. The holy martyrs firmly confessed their faith in Christ in front of them and refused to fulfill the demands of the pagans, for which reason they were subjected to fierce torments.

Saint Jonah suffered first. They tied the martyr to a tree and for a long time they beat him, and then they dragged him along the ice of a frozen lake, they cut off his fingers and toes, they cut out his tongue, they peeled the skin from his head, and finally they sawed his body in half and threw it in a ditch.

For the holy Martyr Barachis they put red-hot shackles on his wrists, they poured molten tin in his nose, ears and moth, and they tore at him, having tied him to a turning wheel. The holy martyr gave up his spirit to God after they poured boiling tar in his mouth. The bodies of the holy martyrs Jonah, Barachis and the other brave passion-bearers were buried by a pious Christian by the name of Habdisotes.

The Holy Martyr Boyan, Prince of Bulgaria

The Holy Martyr Boyan, Prince of Bulgaria, suffered for the faith in Christ in about the year 830. When his pagan brother Malomir (Vladimir) entered upon the Bulgarian throne, noble prince Boyan turned to him with a request to set free from imprisonment the Christian Kinnamon (Kinam), who for a long time was in prison for refusing to participate in pagan offering of sacrifice under prince Obrit (Krutogon), the predecessor of prince Malomir.

The wish of noble prince Boyan was fulfilled and he, seeing the extreme exhaustion of Kinnamon, asked him what it was that he had so much suffered. In a lengthy conversation the enlightened Christian explained to the pagan prince Boyan the mistakenness of paganism and the need of the Christian faith for salvation. At the end of the amicable talk he told the prince: "Without Jesus Christ there is no light for the mind, nor life for the soul. He alone is Teacher of mankind and our Saviour, having reconciled fallen mankind with the true righteousness of God by His death. If thou wish not to perish -- believe in the Lord Jesus". Prince Boyan accepted holy Baptism with joy. The newly-converted prince, having come to Christian piety, was imbued with sincere love for prayer, fasting and meditation about God. Malomir, having learned about the conversion of his brother to Christianity, demanded of him a renunciation of the Christian faith and his return to paganism. Instead, the holy Prince Boyan answered: "I despise the pagan idols and I revere Christ, the True God, and no one can sway me from love for Christ". Malomir, hearing the answer of his brother, sentenced him to death by execution. Before his martyr's death the holy confessor-prince prophetically declared: "The faith for which I now die will spread throughout all the Bulgarian land. In vain do they hope to stop it by my death. Temples to the True God wilt be raised up, and the services to Him will not cease, but the idols and their foul sacrifices will vanish". And with a final prophetic word he turned to his brother Malomir: "From thy harshness thou will receive no benefit, and soon death wilt overtake thee".

The predictions of the holy martyr, killed by the sword, were first of all fulfilled over his brother. Malomir soon died, and since he had no heir, his elder brother Presiyan (836-852) succeeded to the throne. The son of prince Presiyan, -- the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Boris, in holy Baptism Michael (Comm. 2 May), afterwards baptsied the Bulgarian nation. Thus was fulfilled the prophesy of the holy Martyr Prince Boyan.

Saint John (Saakadze) of Manglisi

Saint John (Saakadze) of Manglisi was born in 1668 and spiritually nurtured in the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. Outstanding in virtue, John was quickly ordained a hieromonk, and soon after consecrated bishop of Manglisi. In 1724 St. John left Davit-Gareji for Derbend, Dagestan, where he constructed a wooden church and began to preach Christianity among the local people. He labored there with eleven other pious believers. St. John’s humble life and the miracles he performed attracted the attention of the Muslim Dagestanis, and even the government took notice of his tireless evangelical activity.

At that time the Georgian King Vakhtang VI (1703–1724) and Tsar Peter the Great of Russia were corresponding regularly about the evangelization of the Caspian seacoast. Both kings recognized the importance of St. John’s activity in regard to this matter, and they generously contributed to his efforts. With their help, St. John built one church in honor of the Nativity of the Theotokos and another in honor of Great-martyr Catherine.

In 1737 John left his disciples in Dagestan and journeyed to Astrakhan, near the place where the Volga flows into the Caspian Sea. There he constructed a church in honor of St. John the Evangelist, which was converted into a monastery in 1746. Archimandrite Herman, one of St. John’s disciples, was elevated as abbot of this monastery.

While in Astrakhan, St. John discovered that many ethnic Georgians were passing through the city of Kizliar in Ossetia, but they did not have a church in which to celebrate the divine services. So he traveled to Kizliar and, with help from his kinsmen, built a church and opened a preparatory school for clergy nearby.

On March 28, 1751, St. John reposed in Kizliar at the age of eighty. He was buried in the church that he himself had constructed.

Later, by order of King Teimuraz II (1744–1761), the myrrh-streaming relics of St. John were translated to Tbilisi and buried in Sioni Cathedral, in front of the Manglisi Icon of the Mother of God.

March 29

Saint Ambrose the Confessor

Saint Ambrose the Confessor (in the world Besarion Khelaia) was born in 1861. He received his primary education at the theological school in Samegrelo and graduated from Tbilisi Seminary in 1885. He graduated and was ordained to the priesthood in the same year. Fr. Ambrose served as a priest in Sokhumi (in northwestern Georgia) for eight years, at the same time teaching the Georgian language in schools and directing the activity of various philanthropic societies. In 1896 he was widowed, and in 1897 he enrolled at the Kazan Theological Academy.

While in Kazan, Fr. Ambrose followed both the literary-cultural life of the city and the Georgian national independence movement with great interest. He researched the history of Georgia from primary sources and composed several essays based on his findings. His essay, entitled “The Struggle Between Christianity and Islam in Georgia,” was so compelling to one professor that he recommended that Fr. Ambrose continue exploring this theme and present his research for a master’s degree.

In 1901 Fr. Ambrose completed his studies at the Kazan Theological Academy, and in the same year he was tonsured a monk and returned to Georgia. Together with the greatest sons of his nation, he fought tirelessly for the autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox Church. As a punishment for his uncompromising commitment to this goal, Fr. Ambrose was exiled to Russia in 1905.

Upon his return to Georgia, he was elevated to the rank of archimandrite and appointed abbot of Chelishi Monastery. Chelishi Monastery had at one time been a center for theological education in Georgia, but many years had passed since then and the monastery’s student body was rapidly shrinking. Before long it would be completely deserted. But with the blessing of Bishop Leonid of Imereti (later Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia), St. Ambrose gathered a number of gifted young people to study at the seminary and began to instruct them in chanting and the reading of the Holy Gospel.

St. Ambrose devoted much of his time and energy to finding and restoring the old manuscripts of Chelishi Monastery. Once, while passing through the monastery yard, he heard a muted sound coming from beneath the earth. He began to dig at that place and discovered an ancient copy of the Holy Gospels. It was the “Chelishi Gospel,” a famous Georgian relic from the 9th or 10th century.

Soon St. Ambrose joined the Tbilisi Synodal Council and was enthroned as abbot of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Tbilisi. But in 1908 he was accused of conspiring in the murder of the exarch Nikon and deprived of the right to serve in the Church. The prosecutors exiled him to the Holy Trinity Monastery in Ryazan, where he spent over a year under strict guard. In 1910 St. Ambrose was acquitted and again permitted to serve in the Church.

In 1917 Archimandrite Ambrose returned to Georgia and rejoined the struggle for an autocephalous Georgian Church. Within a few months the Church's autocephaly was proclaimed. He was consecrated Metropolitan of Chqondidi, later to be transferred to the Tskum-Abkhazeti region. In 1921 St. Ambrose was enthroned Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia.

The Soviet government began to persecute the Church not long after St. Ambrose’s enthronement. Some 1,200 churches were plundered, converted for other purposes, or destroyed. A great number of clergy were arrested, exiled, and later shot to death.

On February 7, 1922, Catholicos-Patriarch Ambrose, the spiritual father and chief shepherd of his nation, sent a memorandum to participants in the Conference of Genoa (In 1922 representatives of thirty-four nations met in Genoa, Italy to discuss the economic reconstruction of Central and Eastern Europe and to improve relations between the Soviet Union and Western Europe.) in which he defended the rights of the Georgian Church and nation. Every word of his appeal was penetrated with distress for the fate not only of his motherland but of the entire human race. St. Ambrose assured his audience that a nation and government deprived of Christian virtue would have no future and pleaded for help in this time of misfortune.

The receipt of such a memorandum was unprecedented for the Bolshevik regime, and in response the officials had St. Ambrose arrested. Nevertheless, he fearlessly criticized the government’s complaisance with acts of crime, injustice, and sacrilege.

In response to one of the Bolshevik interrogations, the patriarch asserted, “Confession of Faith is a spiritual necessity for every nation— persecution increases its necessity. Faith deepens, being contracted and accumulated, and it bursts out with new energy. So it was in the past, and so it will be in our country. Georgia is no exception to this universal law.”

St. Ambrose spoke these remarkable last words to his persecutors: “My soul belongs to God, my heart to my motherland, and with my flesh you may do whatever you wish.” The court sentenced the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia to seven years, nine months and twenty-eight days in prison.

At the end of 1924 St. Ambrose and the other members of the Synodal Council were granted amnesty, but their grave experience had already taken its toll. The Georgian flock lost its faithful shepherd in 1927.

In 1995 the life of Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ambrose (Khelaia) was discussed at an expanded council of the Holy Synod of the Georgian Church. In recognition of his great achievements on behalf of the Church and nation, Ambrose was canonized as “St. Ambrose the Confessor.”

The Priest Martyr Mark, Bishop of Arethuseia

The PriestMartyr Mark, Bishop of Arethuseia, suffered for his faith in Christ under the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). By order of the Equal-to-the-Apostles emperor Constantine (306-337, Comm. 21 May), Saint Mark had once destroyed an idolatrous temple. When Julian came upon the throne, he began to persecute Christians and to restore paganism, and his enemies decided to take revenge on Saint Mark. The old bishop at first hid himself from the persecution, but learning, that the pagans in search of him had put many people to torture, he voluntarily gave himself up. Amidst abuse and jeers the holy elder was led throughout all the city and given over to torture. They tore out his hair, lacerated his body, dragged him along the street, dumped him in a swamp, tied him up bound and cut at him with knives. Demanding from the holy bishop repayment for the destruction of the pagan-temple, the persecutors invented ever newer and newer torments: they squeezed the elder in a foot-press, they cut off his ears with strong linen cords and finally, having smeared the body of the holy martyr with honey and grease, they hung him up in a basket in the hot mid-day as prey for the bees. But the holy elder as it were did not notice the pain, and this irritated the tormentor all the more. The inhabitants of the city of Arethuseia, beholding the unshakable firmness of the saint, set him free. Many of them later under the influence of his talks were converted to Christ. Sainted Gregory the Theologian (Comm. 25 January) tells about the sufferings of Saint Mark in his First Discourse against Julian.

The Monk John the Wilderness-Dweller

The Monk John the Wilderness-Dweller: During a time of persecution against Christians the pious widow Juliania hid from pursuers together with her two young children John and Themistea. She constantly taught her children with prayers and by reading of the Holy Books. From time to time the lad John secretly visited a nearby monastery, subjecting himself to danger. One time a pious man happened upon him, who advised him to find a more secluded place for prayer. Having returned home, the lad told his mother, that he was going off to the pious solitary man. Thinking that her son would quickly return, the mother sent him off. John set off to the wilderness-dweller Pharmuphios and, having received blessing from him, withdrew into the wilderness. The young ascetic found an abandoned deep well, filled with many snakes, scorpions and other nasty creatures and, having prayed, he flung himself downwards, but sustained by an Angel, he remained unharmed. He spent the daytime in the well at prayer with cross-form joining of hands with neither food nor sleep for forty days, although the snakes did not abandon the well. One time an Angel, bringing food to the hermit Pharmuphios, brought bread also for Saint John. But the Angel did not bring the bread straight to John, so that the young ascetic should not be filled with pride. From that time the holy lad received Heavenly food through Pharmuphios. The young ascetic had many temptations from the devil to test him. Devils assumed the form of his mother, his sister, his kinsfolk and acquaintances, so as to sadden the ascetic and compel him to break off his efforts. With tears they all one after the other approached the well, beseeching the Monk John to leave with them. All this while the saint did not cease to pray and finally he would utter: "Begone from me", -- and the devils vanished.

Up until the time of his blessed end, occurring during the IV Century, Saint John lived in the well, incessantly at the ascesis of prayer and fasting. Through the providence of God there came by for his burial the Monk Chrysikhios, who had asceticised in the wilderness over the course of thirty years. On the eve of his repose, the Monk John after long entreaties related in detail to Chrysikhios about his life and effort of salvation. After his death there occurred numerous miracles at the place of his ascetic deeds.

Sainted Eustathios the Confessor, Bishop of Bithynia

Sainted Eustathios the Confessor, Bishop of Bithynia, was already at the start of his efforts a fervent monk, meek and wise, filled with great faith and love for neighbour. For his virtuous life he was made bishop of the city of Bithynia (a Roman province in north-west Asia Minor) and for many years he guided his flock, giving them example of virtuous life and perfection. During the time of the Iconoclast heresy, Saint Eustathios boldly came out against the heretics in defending the veneration of holy icons. Iconoclast enemies reported against him to the emperor, and the saint suffered imprisonment and fierce beatings. Finally they deprived the holy Bishop Eustathios of his cathedra and sent him off to prison. The holy confessor died during the IX Century in exile, over the course of three years having undergone insults, deprivation, hunger and want.

The Monastics Mark, Jona and Vassa

The Monastics Mark, Jona and Vassa are venerated as among the originating fathers of the Pskovo-Pechersk monastery.

It is unknown precisely, when the first hermit monks settled by the Kamenets stream in the natural caves of the hill, which the local inhabitants called "the holy hill". The monastery chronicle presents an account of eye-witnesses, hunter-trappers from Izborsk by the nickname of Selishi: "Once by chance we came with our father to the outlying hill, where now is the church of the Mother of God, and heard what seemed church singing; they sang harmoniously and reverently, but the singers could not be seen, and the air was filled with the fragrance of incense".

Of the first elders of the Pskovo-Pechersk monastery only Mark alone is known by name. About him it testifies: "First at the beginning a certain elder was living at the Kamenets floodage by the cave, of whom certain fishermen caught sight of at the three rocks, lying over the cave of the MostHoly Mother of God church; but we were not able to discover anything known about this one, -- who the elder was nor his lineage, nor how and from whence he came to this place, nor how long he dwelt there nor how he died". The second hegumen of the Pechersk monastery bore the name of Starets (elder) Mark in the monastery Synodikon. The Monk Kornilii (Comm. 20 February) as hegumen doubted the veracity of this inscription and he ordered that the name be erased from the Synodikon. Suddenly he became grievously ill and had a revelation, that this was in punishment for ordering to strike out the name of the Monk Mark from the monastery diptych. Begging forgiveness with tearful prayer at the grave of the Starets Mark, Hegumen Kornilii put back his holy name. When the cave church of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God was dug out and the burial caves expanded, the Hegumen Dorophei found the grave of the Monk Mark in decay, but his relics and clothing undecayed.

In the year 1472 the peasant Ivan Dement'ev cut down the forest on the steep hill. One of the felled trees rolled downhill, tearing out of the ground by its roots another tree. The slide opened up the entrance to a cave, over which was the inscription: "A cave built by God". (There is a tradition about this, that a certain fool-for-Christ the Monk Varlaam frequently came to the cave and wiped away this inscription, but that it every time miraculously re-appeared).

To this holy spot, prayed in by the first ascetics, there came from elsewhere the priest John nicknamed "Shestnik". He was a native of "the Moscow lands" and served as priest at Iur'ev (now Tartu) in "a right-believing church, established by Pskov people" and named for Saint Nicholas and the GreatMartyr George, and he together with the Priest Isidor spiritually nourished the Russians living there. In 1470 Father John was compelled to flee with his family to Pskov under persecution from the German-Catholics. Having learned of the martyr's end of his comrade (the commemoration of PriestMartyr Isidor is 8 January), John decided to withdraw into the newly-appeared "cave built by God", so that there, on the very boundary with the Livonians, he might found a monastery as an outpost of Orthodoxy.

Soon his wife fell ill and, having taken monastic vows with the name Vassa, she died. Her righteousness was evidenced immediately after her death. Her husband and her spiritual father buried the Nun Vassa in the wall of "the cave built by God", but by night her coffin was "removed from the ground by an invisible power of God". Father John and the other priest confessor of the Nun Vassa were upset, thinking that this had occurred, because they had not made in full the order of farewell-song, and a second time they sang the funeral service and again they buried the body, but in the morning it again was "atop the ground". Then it became clear, that this -- was a sign from God. They made the grave of the Nun Vassa in the cave on the left side. Shaken by the miracle, John took monastic vows with the name Jona and began to asceticise even more fervently.

Having dug out by hand the cave church and two cells on pillars, he began to petition the clergy of the Pskovsk Trinity cathedral to consecrate it, but these decided not to do so at the moment "because of the unusual location". Then the Monk Jona besought the blessing of the Novgorod Archbishop Theophil.

On 15 August 1473 the cave church was consecrated in honour of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God. During the consecration there occurred a miracle from an icon of the Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God -- a blind woman received her sight -- "sent by the merciful God beginning His great gifts to His All-Pure Mother". (This icon, which they call the "old", in distinction from another wonderworking icon of the Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God bordered with Her life, was written about the year 1421 by the Pskov iconographer Aleksei Maly, and is preserved at present in the altar of the Uspensk temple in the hill locale. The icon bordered with the life -- is the temple patron-icon of the cave church). The date of consecration of the cave church is reckoned as the official date of the founding of the Pskovo-Pechersk monastery. The Monk Jona asceticised at the cave monastery until 1480 and peacefully expired to the Lord. Upon his death they discovered on his body a chainmail coat of armour, which was hung over his grave in testimony of the secret ascetic deeds of the monk, but during an incursion of the Germans it was stolen.

The relics of the Monk Jona rest in the caves alongside the relics of the monastic elder Mark and the Nun Vassa. Once during an invasion of the monastery the Livonian knights, jeering over the holy relics, wanted to open with a sword the cover of the coffin of the Nun Vassa, but a flame from the holy ascetic flashed out from the coffin. Traces of this punishing fire are seen to the present day on the coffin of the Nun Vassa.

March 30

Saint John the Anchorite

During a persecution against Christians, the devout widow Juliania of Armenia hid from pursuers together with her two young children John and Themistea. She taught her children to pray and to read the Holy Scriptures.

From time to time John secretly visited a nearby monastery, thereby placing himself in danger. Once, a pious old man advised him to find a more secluded place for prayer. Returning home, the saint told his mother that he was going to visit the Elder. Thinking that her son would soon return, she let him go.

John went to the desert-dweller Pharmutios and received his blessing to live alone in the wilderness. The young ascetic found an abandoned well, which was filled with snakes, scorpions and other vile creatures. He lowered himself into the well and lived there for ten years in fasting, vigil, and prayer.

The angel who brought food to the hermit Pharmutios also brought bread for St John. The angel did not bring the bread directly to John, however, lest the young ascetic become filled with pride. Food was sent to him through his spiritual Father, Pharmutios.

St John had many temptations from the devil to test him. Demons assumed the appearance of his mother, his sister, his relatives and acquaintances in order to sadden the ascetic and compel him to give up his ascetic struggles. With tears they approached the well one after the other, begging St John to leave with them. All this time the saint did not cease to pray. Finally he said, "Be gone from me," and the demons vanished.

St John lived in the well until the time of his blessed repose. Through God's providence St Chrysikhios, who had struggled in the desert for thirty years, came to bury him. On the eve of his repose, St John told Chrysikhios of his life and struggles for salvation. After his death, numerous miracles occurred at the place of his ascetic deeds.

The Holy Prophet Joad

The Holy Prophet Joad came from Samaria and prophesied during the X Century before the Birth of Christ. It gives an account about him in the 13th Chapter of Book 3 of Kings. The prophet was sent by the Lord from Judea to Bethel to denounce the Israelite king Jereboam for polluting his nation with idol-worship. The Lord commanded the prophet: "There neither eat bread nor drink water, nor return upon thine path, whereof thou comest" (3 Kings 13: 9). The prophet Joad appeared to king Jereboam and prophesied to him concerning the wrath of the Lord. When the king tried to give a signal with his hand to seize hold of the prophet, his hand suddenly became withered. The king entreated the prophet to pray to the Lord for the healing of his hand, and through the prayer he received healing. Having turned back, the prophet Joad disobeyed the command given him by the Lord, and he tasted of the food put before him by the false-prophet Emba. Because of this the prophet Joad was killed by a lion, but his body remained untouched and was buried near the abode of the false-prophet who led him astray.

The Holy Disciples from the Seventy: Sosthenes, Apollos, Cephas, Caesarius and Epaphrodites

The Disciple Sosthenes before his conversion was head of the Corinthian synagogue. The Apostle Paul converted him to Christianity and made him his helper in his work. In addressing the Corinthian Church, the apostle Paul sent greetings to it from both of them: "Paul, by the will of God called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, and brother Sosthenes..." (1 Cor 1: 1). Afterwards, the holy disciple Sosthenes was made bishop at Colophon (Asia Minor).

In the Acts of the holy Apostles it tells the following about the holy Disciple Apollos: "A certain Jew, by the name of Apollos, born at Alexandria, eloquent and conversant with Scripture, came to Ephesus. He was instructed in the fundamentals of the way of the Lord and, being fervent of spirit, he spoke and taught about the Lord rightly, knowing only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. Hearing him, Aquila and Priscilla took him and more precisely explained to him the way of the Lord. And when he resolved to go to Achaeia, the brethren then wrote to the disciples of that place, urging them to receive him; and he, having come thither, much assisted those believing by grace, since he powerfully confuted the Jews in public, shewing by the Scriptures, that Jesus is the Christ" (Acts 18: 24-28). Saint Apollos much assisted the Apostle Paul. The Apostle Paul speaks thus about the spread of Christianity among the Corinthians: "I sowed, Apollos watered, but God did grow it" (1 Cor 3: 6). Saint Apollos was later bishop at Smyrna (Asia Minor).

The holy Disciple Cephas was according to tradition bishop at Iconium. Accounts about him have not been preserved. It is presumed, that it is about him that the Apostle Paul makes mention (1 Cor 15: 5).

The holy Disciple Epaphrodites was a companion of the Apostle Paul who, having sent him to the Philippian christians, speaks thus about his own hard work on the field of Christ: "...I am honoured to send you of necessity Epaphrodites, my brother and co-worker and companion, your messenger and servant in my need... he was sick nigh to death; but God had mercy on him, and not only him but also me, so as not to add sorrow upon sorrow for me... Accept him in the Lord with all joy, and so hold him in esteem, since for the work of Christ was near death, subjecting life to peril, so as to make up the insufficiency of your service to me" (Phil 2: 25-30). Saint Epaphrodites was bishop at Adrianium (Italy).

The Monk John of the Ladder

The Monk John of the Ladder (Lestvichnik; Klimatikos; Climaticus) is honoured by Holy Church as a great ascetic and author of the reknown spiritual work called "The Ladder", whereby the monk likewise received the title "of-the-Ladder" [Lestvichnik (Slav.); Klimatikos (Grk.); Climaticus (Lat.)].

About the origins of the monk John there is almost no account preserved. Tradition suggests, that he was born about the year 570, and was the son of Saints Xenophones and Maria, -- whose is celebrated by the Church on 26 January. The sixteen year old lad John arrived at the Sinai monastery. Abba Martyrios became instructor and guide of the monk. After four years of living on Sinai, Saint John Lestvichnik was vowed into monasticism. One of those present at the taking of vows, -- Abba Stratigios, predicted, that he was set to become a great luminary in the Church of Christ. Over the course of 19 years the monk John pursued asceticism in obedience to his spiritual father. After the death of abba Martyrios the monk John chose an hermit's life, settling into a wild place called Tholos, where he spent 40 years in deeds of silence, fasting, prayer and tears of penitence. It is not by chance that in "The Ladder" the monk John speaks thus about tears of repentance: "Just as fire burns and destroys firewood, so thus do pure tears wash away all impurity, both outer and inner". His holy prayer was strong and efficacious, as evidenced from an example from the life of the God-pleasing saint.

The Monk John had a student, the monk Moses. One time the instructor ordered his student to bring ground to the garden for bedding. Having fulfilled the obedience, the monk Moses lay down to rest under the shade of a large rock, because of the strong heat of summer. The monk John Lestvichnik was at this time in his cell resting after a prayerful labour. Suddenly a man of remarkable appearance appeared to him and, having roused the holy ascetic, said to him in reproach: "Why dost thou, John, rest peacefully here, when Moses is in danger?" The monk John immediately woke up and began to pray for his student. When his disciple returned in the evening, the monk asked, whether some sort of woe had befallen him. The monk answered: "No, but I was exposed to great danger. A large fragment of stone, having broken off from the rock under which I had fallen asleep at mid-day, just barely missed me. By luck, I had a dream that thou wast calling me, and I woke up and started to run off, and at that very moment the huge stone fell with a crash on that very spot, from which I had fled..."

About the manner of life of the monk John is known, that he nourished himself by such as what is not prohibited a fasting life by the ustav, but -- in moderation. He did not spend the night without sleep, although he slept not much, only as much as was necessary for keeping up his strength, so that by an unceasing vigilance he would not destroy the mind. "I do not fast excessively, -- said he about himself, -- nor do I give myself over to intense all-night vigil, nor lay upon the ground, but restrain myself..., and the Lord soon saved me". The following example of humility of the monk John Lestvichnik is noteworthy. Gifted with a deeply penetrating mind, and having become wise by profound spiritual experience, he lovingly received all who came to him so as to guide them to salvation. But when there appeared some who through envy reproached him with loquacity, which they explained away as vanity, the monk John then gave himself over to silence so as not to give cause for blame, and he kept silence for the space of a year. The envious realised their error and they themselves returned to the ascetic with the request not to deprive them of the spiritual profit of his conversation.

Concealing his ascetic deeds from people, the monk John sometimes withdrew into a cave, but accounts of his holiness spread far beyond the locality: incessantly there came to him visitors from every rank and calling, wanting to hear his words of edification and salvation. At age 75, after forty years of ascetic striving in solitude, the monk was chosen as hegumen of the Sinai monastery. For about four years the monk John Lestvichnik governed the holy Sinai monastery. Towards the end of his life, the Lord granted the monk grace-bearing gifts of perspicacity and wonderworking.

During the time of his governing the monastery, -- at the request of the hegumen of the Raipha monastery Saint John (Comm. on Cheesefare Saturday), there was written for the monks the reknown "Ladder", -- an instruction for rising to spiritual perfection. Knowing about the wisdom and spiritual gifts of the monk, the Raipha hegumen on behalf of all the monks of his monastery requested him to write down for them "a true instruction for those following after invariably, and as such would be a ladder of affirmation, which would lead those wishing it to the Heavenly gates..." The monk John, noted for his humble opinion about himself, was at first perplexed, but afterwards out of obedience he set about fulfilling the request of the Raipha monks. The monk thus also named his work -- "The Ladder", and explained the title in the following manner: "I have constructed a ladder of ascent... from the earthly to the holy... in the form of the thirty years of age for the Lord's maturity, symbolically I have constructed a ladder of 30 steps, by which, having attained the Lord's age, we find ourselves with the righteous and secure from falling down". The purpose of this work, is to teach -- that the reaching of salvation requires difficult self-denial and demanding ascetic deeds. "The Ladder" presupposes, first, a cleansing from the impurity of sin, the eradication of vices and passions in the old man; second, the restoration in man of the image of God. Although the book was written for monks, any christian living in the world receives from it the hope of guidance for ascent to God, and a support for spiritual life. The Monks Theodore the Studite (Comm. 11 November and 26 January), Sergei of Radonezh (Comm. 25 September and 5 July), Joseph of Volokolamsk (Comm. 9 September and 18 October), and others -- in their instructions relied on "The Ladder" as an important book for salvific guidance.

The content of one of the steps of "The Ladder" (the 22nd) discusses the ascetic deed of the destruction of vainglory. The monk John writes: "Vanity springs out in front of each virtue. When, for example, I keep a fast -- I am given over to vanity, and when I in concealing the fasting from others permit myself food, I am again given over to vanity -- by my prudence. Dressing up in bright clothing, I am vanquished by love of honour and, having changed over into drab clothing -- I am overcome by vanity. If I stand up to speak -- I fall under the power of vanity. If I wish to keep silence, I am again given over to it. Wherever this thorn comes up, it everywhere stands with its points upwards. It is vainglorious..., on the surface to honour God, and in deed to strive to please people rather than God... People of lofty spirit bear insult placidly and willingly, but to hear praise and feel nothing of pleasure is possible only for the saints and for the unblameworthy... When thou hearest, that thy neighbour or friend either afront the eyes or behind the eyes slandereth thee, praise and love him... Does this not shew humility, and who can reproach himself, and be intolerant with himself? But who, having been discredited by another, would not diminish in his love for him... Whoever is exalted by natural gifts -- a felicitous mind, a fine education, reading, pleasant elocution and other similar qualities, which are readily enough acquired, that person might yet never obtain to supernatural gifts. Wherefore whoever is not faithful in the small things, that one also is not faithful in the large, and is vainglorous. It often happens, that God Himself humbles the vainglorious, sending a sudden misfortune... If prayer does not destroy a proud thought, we bring to mind the leaving of the soul from this life. And if this does not help, we threaten it with the shame of the Last Judgement. "Rising up to humble oneself" even here, before the future age. When praisers, or better -- flatterers, start to praise us, immediately we betake ourselves to recollection of all our iniquities and we find, that we are not at all worth that which they impute to us".

This and other examples, located in "The Ladder", offer us an image of this saint's zealousness about his own salvation, which is necessary for each person who wishes to live piously. It is a written account of his thought, the collective fruit of many and also of his refined observation from his own soul and his own profound spiritual experience. It reveals itself as a guide and great help on the way to truth and good.

The steps of "The Ladder" -- this proceeding from strength to strength on the path of man's proclivity to perfection, is not something suddenly but rather gradually to be reached, as in the saying of the Saviour: "The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by strength, and those utilising strength shalt delight of it" (Mt 11: 12).

Sainted Sophronii, Bishop of Irkutsk

Sainted Sophronii, Bishop of Irkutsk and WonderWorker of all Siberia, known under the family-name Kristalevsky, was born in Malorussia in the Chernigov region in 1704. His father, Nazarii Fedorovich, was "a common man in his affairs, and Sophronii they named Stefan", in honour of the first-martyr archdeacon Stephen. He had two brothers and a sister Pelagia. The name of one brother was Paul. The name of the other older brother is unknown, but there is an account, that he was afterwards head of the Krasnogorsk Zolotonoshsk monastery.

The childhood years of Stefan were spent in the settlement of Berezan' in the Pereyaslavl' district of the Poltava governance, where the family settled after the father's discharge from service. When he came of age, Stefan entered the Kiev Theological Academy, where at the time studied two other future sainted-hierarchs -- Joasaph, future bishop of Belgorod (Comm. 4 September and 10 December), and Paul, future metropolitan of Tobol'sk.

Having received a religious education, Stefan entered the Krasnogorsk Transfiguration monastery (afterwards changed to Pokrov / Protection monastery, and in 1789 transformed into a women's monastery), where his elder brother already pursued ascetic life. On 23 April 1730 he took monastic vows with the name of Sophronii, -- honour of Saint Sophronios, Patriarch of Jerusalem (Comm. 11 March).

On the night after his taking of monastic vows, the monk Sophronii heard a Voice in the Pokrov church: "When thou shalt become bishop, raise up a church in the name of All Saints", -- predicting of his future service. After two years, in 1732, they summoned him to Kiev, in the Sophia cathedral of which they ordained him to the dignity of monkdeacon, and then to priestmonk. Concerning the following period of the life of Saint Sophronii, it says the following in his service-form: "After having taken vows he was treasurer at that Zolotonoshsk monastery for two years, and then he was taken by decree of His Grace Arsenii Berlov of the Pereyaslavl' diocese into the house of his archbishop, in which he was steward for 8 years subject to the Alexander Nevsky monastery, from which during the course of those years he was sent to Saint-Peterburg on hierarchical business, for which in advocacy he spent two years".

These facts testify readily enough to the connections of the saint with his original Pokrovsk monastery. During his obedience under the presiding hierarch at Pereyaslavl', he often visited at his monastery, spending the day in quiet contemplation and work, giving example in the making of a monastic brother.

During the time of priestmonk Sophronii's sojourn on hierarchical business to the Synod, they showed particular attention to him. And when it became necessary to increase the brethren at the Alexander Nevsky monastery in Saint Peterburg, -- 29 monks then in number having been summoned from various monasteries in Russia, in January 1742 was summoned also the future saint. A year later they appointed him treasurer of the monastery, and in 1746 he was appointed to the office of head of the monastery, which he fulfilled for seven years more.

For helping him he summoned his fellow countryman, a native of the city of Priluk, -- the priestmonk Synesii, and made him the organiser of the Novo-Sergiev monastery, which was associated with the Alexander Nevsky monastery. From this period of time the friendship of the two ascetics, -- priestmonk Sophronii and priestmonk Synesii -- was strengthened into a single pastoral effort, and they were inseparable until their end in the Siberian land. During these years Saint Sophronii laboured much at the managing of the monastery and improvement of teaching at the seminary located near it. Together with Archbishop Theodosii he concerned himself with the needs of adding to the monastic library.

A two-level church was built by him: the top -- in the name of Saint Theodore Yaroslavich, older brother of Saint Alexander Nevsky; and the lower -- in the name of Saint John Chrysostom.

In 1747 the bishop of Irkutsk, Innokentii II (Nerunovich) died. For six years afterwards the territory of the Irkutsk diocese remained without a spiritual head.

Finally, the empress Elizaveta Petrovichna (1741-1761) by decree on 23 February 1753 recommended to the Holy Synod the pious head of the Alexander Nevsky monastery Sophronii, as "a person, not only worthy of bishop's dignity, but also quite entirely able to fulfill the wishes and the hopes of the state and the Synod -- to take up the burden of episcopal service on the far frontier and satisfy the needs of his flock in that harsh land, amidst wild primitives and lawless people".

On 18 April 1753, Thomas Sunday, priestmonk Sophronii was ordained bishop of Irkutsk and Nerchinsk in the Great Uspensky cathedral.

Foreseeing difficult service on the distant Siberian frontier, the newly-established bishop did not immediately set off to the Irkutsk eparchy, but rather began to gather up educated and spiritually experienced co-workers. During this period Saint Sophronii visited at his original Krasnogorsk monastery. Also at the holy places of Kiev, he sought the blessings of the Kievo-Perchersk Saints for his service. The constant companion of the saint, just as before, was the priestmonk Synesii, ardently sharing in the life's work of his friend.

At Moscow, the Archbishop of Moscow and Sevsk Platon, -- who participated in the ordination of then priestmonk Sophronii, provided him further assistance. He taught him fatherly precepts for his impending task, since he was quite familiar with the peculiarities of the Siberian religious manner of life, he forewarned him about the self-willed local authorities, and advised him to gather together trustworthy helpers.

On 20 March 1754 the saint arrived at Irkutsk. He went at first to the Ascension monastery -- the place of residence of his predecessor, and prayed at the grave of bishop Innokentii (Kul'chitz), imploring his blessing on his impending task.

Having familiarised himself with the state of affairs in the diocese, the saint set about the re-organisation of the Spiritual consistory, monasteries and parishes, and turned to the Holy Synod with an appeal to dispatch worthy people for priestly service to the Irkutsk eparchy.

Before the arrival of Sainted Sophronii, the Irkutsk monasteries had already a century-old history. The founders of these monasteries were motivated by a fervent desire for ascetic monastic life. The sagacious sainted-bishop appointed as heads of the monastic communities people of piety, wisdom, virtue, and with great experience both of life and things spiritual. In 1754 His Grace Sophronii raised up his friend and companion priestmonk Synesii to be archimandrite of Ascension monastery. This memorable monastic head served the monastery for thirty-three years until his blessed end. In September 1754 the sainted-bishop issued an ukaz (decree), in which concern was noted for the education and upbringing of the children of clergy. By his ukaz to the clergy he considered as a duty the education of their children in the Chasoslov, the Psalter, singing and letters, and this instruction "ought to happen with all industriousness and extremest diligence, so that the children might be able to accomplish the responsibilities of sacristan and deacon according to their due ability".

Studying closely both people and circumstances, the sainted-bishop in his sermons and conversations incessantly exhorted all to an higher moral ideal. He devoted particular attention to the reverent and correct doing of Divine-services and priestly Sacraments, and he also watched after the moral purity of laymen; he was concerned about the position of women in the family, and defended them against their unjust inequality. The sainted-bishop attempted everywhere to set straight the ustav (rule) of Divine-services, for which purpose he summoned to himself priests, deacons, sub-deacons and sacristans, who during the time of hierarchical Divine-services participated in the choir or sub-deacons.

Journeying about the diocese, the saint noted that not everywhere was the proper attention given to the ringing of bells and incensing, and therefore by means of ukaz he restored the proper censing and ringing of bells.

Called to apostolic service in this frontier region, Sainted Sophronii realised, that in addition to the enlightening of believing christians, it availed him to bring to the faith idol-worshippers, who were very numerous in Siberia.

To bring pagans to the Church of Christ was difficult, especially since from time to time there was no one to serve in churches, and to borrow for missionary activity made matters all the worse. Knowing how that the hierarchical Divine-services would have a salutary effect on non-Russians, the saint not only himself served with reverence, but also required it of all his clergy.

Sainted Sophronii concerned himself over the manner of life of the lesser nations and he contributed to the developement of a stable culture among the local people. He offered them monastic lands for settlements and in every way he endeavoured to isolate them from the influence of paganism. A throng of visitors constantly arrived and came from faraway places for a blessing.

But amidst his many cares, he did not forget about his inner spiritual life and eternity -- he also led an ascetic life. There is preserved an account about this from the cell-attendant of Sainted Sophronii, which relates, that the saint "used food simple and in small quantity, he served quite often, spent the greater part of the night at prayer, slept on the floor under a sheepskin or if fur -- a deerskin or bear hide, and a small simple pillow -- this was all his bedding for a sleep of short duration".

The spirit of his ascetic life fit in with the general uplift of the Christian spirit in Russia following the glorification of Sainted Dimitrii of Rostov (Comm. 21 September), Theodosii of Chernigov (Comm. 9 September), and in particular the uncovering of the undecayed relics of his predecessor -- Sainted Innokentii of Irkutsk (Comm. 9 February). This event inspired Sainted Sophronii with greater strength and encouraged his hope for the help of Sainted Innokentii in his task of building up the diocese.

Until the end of his days Sainted Sophronii kept his love for the Krasnogorsk Zolotonoshsk monastery, which had nurtured him in the days of his youth. He constantly contributed support for its upkeep, sending off the necessary means for this.

Having sensed a deterioration in his health, Sainted Sophronii made a petition to the Synod to discharge him for rest. But they tarried with an answer from Peterburg, since it was difficult to immediately choose a worthy successor.

The final days in the life of Sainted Sophronii were spent in prayerful asceticism.

The light, which shone on the good deeds of Sainted Sophronii, continues to the present to testify to the glory of the Heavenly Father, "mercifully having strengthened His saints". And now not only in Siberia at the place of his final deeds, but also at the place of his first deeds, there is reverently preserved the holy memory of Sainted Sophronii.

Saint Eubola

Saint Eubola, Mother of the GreatMartyr Panteleimon (Comm. 27 July), died peacefully in about the year 303 before the martyrdom of her son.

Sainted Zosima, Bishop of Syracuse

Sainted Zosima, Bishop of Syracuse, was born through the fervent prayers of his parents, who were long without children. When their son reached seven years of age, his parents sent him for education to a monastery, where the holy ascetic at the age of maturity took monastic vows and for forty years governed the monastery. Pope Theodore (641-649) ordained him bishop of Syracuse.

Sainted Zosima distinguished himself by his charity and lack of avarice, and led his flock firmly by word and by example. Towards the end of his life Sainted Zosima fell grievously ill, but endured his suffering with magnanimity and humility. He died in about the year 662, after leading his flock for 13 years. Afterwards many of the sick received healing by a single touch to his tomb.

Pries tMartyr Zacharias, Bishop of Corinth

PriestMartyr Zacharias, Bishop of Corinth, suffered for Christ under the Turks in 1684. The Turk-mussulmans accused him of secret correspondence with the Franks (French), whom the saint supposedly would have appealed to and promised to aid them seize the city. The moslems in a rage fell upon the Christian bishop and, shackled in chains and subjected to beatings, they led him to trial. The judge without interrogation demanded that Sainted Zacharias accept Islam and, when he heard the negative answer of the bishop, he gave orders for him to be beaten without mercy. They then locked up the confessor of Christ in prison, where the mahometan fanatics did not cease with beating the martyr. The Priestmartyr Zacharias was beheaded on the third Sunday following the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross.

March 31

Righteous Joseph the Handsome

Righteous Joseph the Handsome was a son of the Old Testament patriarch Jacob, and died in about the year 1700 before the Birth of Christ. His brothers by birth were jealous of him, because the father loved him more than the other brothers, and they feared him, since he told them about his dreams, foretelling his future greatness. The brothers decided to kill Righteous Joseph, but on the suggestion of the eldest of them, Reuben, they changed their minds and first threw Joseph into a pit, and then sold him to merchants who were journeying with a caravan to Egypt.

In Egypt Joseph was sold to Potiphar, -- head of the imperial bodyguards, and thanks to his mind and virtues, he earned the trust of his master. Righteous Joseph was exceedingly handsome, and the wife of Potiphar wanted to force him into adultery. But the chaste youth turned away the temptation. Then out of malice and spite the wife of Potiphar slandered Righteous Joseph before her husband, saying that the youth wanted to defile her. Believing the lie, Potiphar locked up the innocent youth in prison. Situated in prison, Saint Joseph the Handsome gained fame by his wise interpretation of dreams. Having solved the riddle of Pharaoh's dream, -- foretelling the approaching years of famine and misfortune for Egypt, Righteous Joseph was set free and made first counselor of Egypt. When the famine befell also the native-land of righteous Joseph in Palestine, Saint Joseph was able to re-settle his father with all his family into Egypt. Before his end, Righteous Joseph gave instructions to transfer his bones from Egypt to the Promised Land, which was done under the holy Prophet Moses (Comm. 4 September), 1496 BC. Through his sons Manassah and Ephraim, Saint Joseph the Handsome is situated at the head of two of the tribes of Israel.

The Bible (Gen. 37-50) testifies about the life of Righteous Joseph the Handsome.

The Priest Martyr Ipatios, Bishop of Gangra

The PriestMartyr Ipatios, Bishop of Gangra, was bishop of the city of Gangra in Paphlagonia (Asia Minor). In the year 325 he participated in the I Ecumenical Council at Nicea, at which the heresy of Arius was given anathema.

When Saint Ipatios was returning in 326 from Constantinople to Gangra, followers of the schismatics Novatus and Felicissimus fell upon him in a desolate place. The heretics ran him through with swords and spears, and threw him from an high bank into a swamp. Like the First-martyr Arch-deacon Stephen, Saint Ipatios prayed for his murderers. A certain Arian woman struck the saint on the head with a stone, and he died. The murderers hid his body in a cave, where a christian who kept straw there found his body. Recognising the body of the bishop, he hastened to report about this in the city, and the inhabitants of Gangra piously buried the remains of their beloved arch-pastor.

After death the relics of Saint Ipatios won reknown for numerous miracles, in particular the casting out of demons and for healing the sick.

From of old the Priestmartyr Ipatios was particularly venerated in the Russian land. Thus in the year 1330 was built at Kostroma the Ipatiev monastery, on the place of an appearance of the Mother of God with the Pre-eternal Christ-Child and saints that were present -- the Apostle Philip and the Priestmartyr Ipatios, bishop of Gangra. This monastery afterwards occupied a significant place in the spiritual and social life of the nation, particularly during the years of the Time of Troubles. The old-time copies of the Vita of the Priestmartyr Ipatios were widely distributed in Russian literature, and one of these entered into the compiling of the Chet'i Minei [Reading Menaion] of Metropolitan Makarii (1542-1564). In this Vita was preserved an account about the appearance of the Saviour to Saint Ipatios on the eve of the martyr's death. The veneration to the saint consists of prayers, words of praise and teaching on the day of his memory. The pious veneration of Sainted Ipatios was also expressed in the liturgical works of Russian authors. During the XIX Century was written a new service to the Priestmartyr Ipatios, distinct from the services written by the Monk Joseph the Studite, contained in the March Menaion.

The Monk Apollonios

The Monk Apollonios, when he was a fifteen year old youth, withdrew into the inner Thebaid wilderness (Lower Egypt), where he spent forty years at monastic exploits. On a suggestion from above he went across to a nearby wilderness and near Hermopolis he founded a monastery, at which gradually gathered about five hundred monks. Saint Apollonios was strict at fasting, on Sundays only did he partake of cooked food, and on the remaining days he ate only wild plants.

All the monks also followed the example of the monk Apollonios, pursuing asceticism at the monastery together with their preceptor. The holy ascetic died in the IV Century.

Saint Acacius

St. Acacius was bishop of Antioch, probably the town of that name in Phrygia, where the Marcionites were numerous. He was surnamed Agath-angel, or Good-angel, and extremely respected by the people for his sanctity. It was owing to his zeal that not one of his flock renounced Christ, by sacrificing to idols during the persecution of Decius, a weakness which several of the Marcionite heretics had betrayed. Our saint himself made a glorious confession of his faith; of which the following relation, transcribed from the public register, is a voucher:

Martian, a man of consular dignity, arriving at Antioch, a small town of his government, ordered the bishop to be brought before him. His name was Acacius, and he was styled the buckler and refuge of that country for his universal charity and episcopal zeal. Martian said to him: “As you have the happiness to live under the Roman laws, you are bound to love and honour our princes, who are our protectors.” Acacius answered: “Of all the subjects of the empire, none love and honour the emperor more than the Christians. We pray without intermission for his person, and that it may please God to grant him long life, prosperity, success, and all benedictions; that he may be endowed by him with the spirit of justice and wisdom to govern his people, that his reign be auspicious, and prosperous, blessed with joy, peace, and plenty throughout all the provinces that obey him.” MARTIAN. “All this I commend; but that the emperor may be the better convinced of your submission and fidelity, come now and offer him a sacrifice with me.” ACACIUS. “I have already told you, that I pray to the great and true God for the emperor; but he ought not to require a sacrifice from us, nor is there any due to him or to any man whatsoever.” MARTIAN. “Tell us what God you adore, that we may also pay him our offerings and homages?” ACACIUS. “I wish from my heart you did but know him to your advantage.” MARTIAN. “Tell me his name.” ACACIUS. “He is called the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.” MARTIAN. “Are these the names of gods?” ACACIUS. “By no means, but of men to whom the true God spoke; he is the only God, and he alone is to be adored, feared, and loved.” MARTIAN. “What is this God?” ACACIUS. “He is the most high Adonia, who is seated above the cherubim and seraphim.” MARTIAN. “What is a seraph?” ACACIUS. “A ministering spirit of the most high God, and one of the principal lords of the heavenly court.” MARTIAN. “What chimeras are these? Lay aside these whims of invisible beings, and adore such gods as you can see.” ACACIUS. “Tell me who are those gods to whom you would have me sacrifice?” MARTIAN. “Apollo, the saviour of men, who preserves us from pestilence and famine, who enlightens, preserves, and governs the universe.” ACACIUS. “Do you mean that wretch that could not preserve his own life: who, being in love with a young woman, (Daphne,) ran about distracted in pursuit of her, not knowing that he was never to possess the object of his desires. It is therefore evident that he could not foresee things to come, since he was in the dark as to his own fate: and as clear that he could be no god, who was thus cheated by a creature. All know likewise that he had a base passion for Hyacinth, a beautiful boy, and was so awkward as to break the head of that minion, the fond object of his criminal passion, with a quoit. Is not he also that god who, with Neptune, turned mason, hired himself to a king, (Laomedon of Troy,) and built the walls of a city? Would you oblige me to sacrifice to such a divinity, or to Esculapius, thunderstruck by Jupiter? or to Venus, whose life was infamous, and to a hundred such monsters to whom you offer sacrifice? No, though my life itself depended on it, ought I to pay divine honours to those whom I should blush to imitate, and of whom I can entertain no other sentiments than those of contempt and execration? You adore Gods, the imitators of whom you yourselves would punish.” MARTIAN. “It is usual for you Christians to raise several calumnies against our gods; for which reason I command you to come now with me to a banquet in honour of Jupiter and Juno, and acknowledge and perform what is due to their majesty.” ACACIUS. “How can I sacrifice to a man whose sepulchre is unquestionably in Crete? What! is he risen again?” MARTIAN. “You must either sacrifice or die.” ACACIUS. “This is the custom of the Dalmatian robbers; when they have taken a passenger in a narrow way, they leave him no other choice but to surrender his money or his life. But, for my part, I declare to you that I fear nothing that you can do to me. The laws punish adulterers, thieves, and murderers. Were I guilty of any of those things, I should be the first man to condemn myself. But if my whole crime be the adoring of the true God, and I am on this account to be put to death, it is no longer a law but an injustice.” MARTIAN. “I have no order to judge but to counsel you to obey. If you refuse, I know how to force you to a compliance.” ACACIUS. “I have a law which I will obey: this commands me not to renounce my God. If you think yourself bound to execute the orders of a man who in a little time hence must leave the world, and his body become the food of worms, much more strictly am I bound to obey the omnipotent God, who is infinite and eternal, and who hath declared, Whoever shall deny me before men, him will I deny before my Father,” MARTIAN. “You now mention the error of your sect which I have long desired to be informed of: you say then that God hath a son?” ACACIUS. “Doubtless he hath one.” MARTIAN. “Who is this son of God?” ACACIUS. “The Word of truth and grace.” MARTIAN. “Is that his name?” ACACIUS. “You did not ask me his name but what he is.” MARTIAN. “What then is his name?” ACACIUS. “Jesus Christ.” Martian having inquired of the saint by what woman God had his son, he replied, that the divine generation of the Word is of a different nature from human generation, and proved it from the language the royal prophet makes use of in the forty-fourth psalm. MARTIAN. “Is God then corporeal?” ACACIUS. “He is known only to himself. We cannot describe him; he is invisible to us in this mortal state, but we are sufficiently acquainted with his perfections to confess and adore him.” MARTIAN. “If God had no body, how can he have a heart or mind?” ACACIUS. “Wisdom hath no dependence or necessary connexion with an organized body. What hath body to do with understanding?” He then pressed him to sacrifice from the example of the Cataphrygians, or Montanists, and engage all under his care to do the same. Acacius replied: “It is not me these people obey but God. Let them hear me when I advise them to what is right; but let them despise me, if I offer them the contrary and endeavour to pervert them.” MARTIAN. “Give me all their names.” ACACIUS. “They are written in heaven, in God’s invisible registers.” MARTIAN. “Where are the magicians, your companions, and the teachers of this cunningly devised error?” by which he probably meant the priests. ACACIUS. “No one in the world abhors magic more than we Christians.” MARTIAN. “Magic is the new religion which you introduce.” ACACIUS. “We destroy those gods whom you fear though you made them yourselves. We, on the contrary, fear not him whom we have made with our hands, but him who created us, and who is the Lord and Master of all nature; who loved us as our good father, and redeemed us from death and hell as the careful and affectionate shepherd of our souls.” MARTIAN. “Give the names I require, if you would avoid the torture.” ACACIUS. “I am before the tribunal, and do you ask me my name, and, not satisfied with that, you must also know those of the other ministers? Do you hope to conquer many; you, whom I alone am able thus to confound. If you desire to know our names, mine is Acacius. If you would know more, they call me Agathangelus, and my two companions are Piso, bishop of the Trojans, and Menander, a priest. Do now what you please.” MARTIAN. “You shall remain in prison, till the emperor is acquainted with what has passed on this subject, and sends his orders concerning you.”

The emperor Decius having read the interrogatory, recompensed Martian by making him governor of Pamphilia, but admired so much the prudence and constancy of Acacius, that he ordered him to be discharged, and suffered him to profess the Christian religion.

This his glorious confession is dated on the 29th of March, and happened under Decius in 250, or 251. How long Saint Acacius survived does not appear.

The Priestmartyrs Auda, Bishop of Persia, and the Deacon Benjamin

The Priestmartyrs Auda, Bishop of Persia, and the Deacon Benjamin: Saint Auda was bishop in Persia, and for the destruction of a temple of the fire-worshippers he was brought to trial before the Persian emperor Izdegerd I (401-402), who gave orders to re-construct the temple. When bishop Auda refused, the emperor ordered soldiers to destroy all the Christian temples, persecute the christians and subject them to torture. Saint Auda became the first martyr, and after lengthy torturing was beheaded. After thirty days other martyrs also were executed. Among them was the deacon Benjamin, undergoing particularly cruel torments: they put sharp needles under his nails and impaled him upon a spear.

The priestmartyrs died in the old Persian city of Suza.

The Monk Ipatios, Hegumen of Ruthianeia

The Monk Ipatios, Hegumen of Ruthianeia, was born in Phrygia (Asia Minor) into the family of a lawyer and he received a fine education. Once, when he was eighteen years old, his father punished him, after which the youth left home and went to Thrace (Balkans). There for a certain while he herded cattle, and then he settled with a presbyter, who taught him about the singing of psalms. Soon the chosen one of God took vows in one of the monasteries. Struggling against temptations of the flesh, the holy ascetic spent fifty days in the strictest of fasts, and then, with the blessing of the head of the monastery, at evening time in the presence of the brethren he drank wine with bread and was healed of his passions. In search of a new place for ascetic deeds, the monk Ipatios settled with two other monks at the neglected Ruthianeia monastery nearby Chalcedon (Asia Minor). The monastery was rebuilt and soon many monks gathered about the holy ascetic, and the monastery again began to flourish spiritually. At age forty the monk Ipatios was chosen hegumen and he guided the monastery during the span of forty years. Many monks, copying their guide, attained deep spiritual perfection. For his strict ascetic life and self-denying love towards others, Saint Ipatios was granted by the Lord gifts of wonderworking and healing. Through his holy prayers bread was multiplied at the monastery and there were healed many afflicted with demons, and the blind, the withered and the hemorrhaging, having come to the monastery. The monk Ipatios reposed in about the year 446, at eighty years of age. On the eve of his death he predicted of coming misfortunes: a devastating hailstorm, an earthquake, and the onslaught of Attila the Hun upon Thrace.

The Monk Ipatii, Healer of Pechersk

The Monk Ipatii, Healer of Pechersk, attained glory in the exploit of severe fasting and constant prayerful vigilance. By night he stood at prayer, slept very little, and ate only bread and water. The monk Ipatii devoted himself entirely to the service of the sick and for his self-denying act received from God the graced gift of miraculous healings. Those sick with various illnesses often hastened to his prayerful intercession. The memory of the monk Ipatii is celebrated also on 28 August, on the Sobor / Assemblage of the Saints of the Farther Caves.

Sainted Jona

Sainted Jona, Metropolitan of Moscow and WonderWorker of All Russia, was born in the city of Galich into a pious Christian family. The father of the future saint was named Feodor. At twelve years of age the youth took monastic vows in one of the Galich monasteries, from which he transferred to the Moscow Simonov monastery, where for many years he fulfilled various obediences. One time Sainted Photii, Metropolitan of Moscow (Comm. 27 May and 2 July), visited at the Simonov monastery and after the molieben, having blessed the archimandrite and brethren, wanted also to bless the monks fulfilling obedience at the monastery tasks. When he came to the bakery, he saw then the monk Jona asleep from much work, and the right hand of the fatigued monk was bent in a gesture of blessing. Sainted Photii asked not to wake him; he blessed the sleeping monk and prophetically predicted to those present, that this monk would be a great hierarch of the Russian Church and would guide many on the way to salvation.

The prediction of the Saint was fulfilled. After several years Saint Jona was made bishop of Ryazan and Murom.

In 1431 Saint Photii died. Five years after his death, Saint Jona was chosen Metropolitan of All Russia for his virtuous and holy life. When the newly chosen metropolitan journeyed to Patriarch Joseph II (1416-1439) in Constantinople, in order to accept confirmation as metropolitan, it turned out then, that shortly before this the nefarious Isidor, a Bulgarian by descent, was already established as Russian metropolitan. Spending a short while at Kiev and Moscow, Isidor journeyed to the Council of Florence (1438), -- where he accepted Uniatism. A Sobor / Council of Russian hierarchs and clergy deposed metropolitan Isidor, and he was compelled to flee secretly to Rome (where he died in 1462). Saint Jona was unanimously chosen Metropolitan of All Russia. His consecration by the blessing of the Constantinople Patriarch Gregory III (1445-1450) -- was the first time that it was done by Russian hierarchs in Moscow. On 15 December 1448 Saint Jona became Metropolitan and with arch-pastoral zeal he began to assert piety among the flock, encouraging the Orthodox faith in the land by word and by deed. And beneathe his exalted dignity he continued as before with his personal monastic efforts.

In 1451 the Tatars unexpectedly advanced on Moscow; they burned the surroundings and prepared for an assault on the city. Metropolitan Jona with clergy made procession along the walls of the city, with tears beseeching God for the salvation of city and people. Beholding the dying monk Antonii of the Chudov monastery, -- who was noted for his virtuous life, Saint Jona said: "My son and brother Antonii! Pray to the Merciful God and the All-Pure Mother of God for the deliverance of the city and all Orthodox Christians". The humble Antonii replied: "Great hierarch! We give thanks to God and His All-Pure Mother, -- She hath heard thy prayer and hath besought Her Son, -- the city and all Orthodox Christians wilt be saved through thine prayers. The enemy will soon take flight. Only I alone am destined by the Lord to be killed by the enemies". Just as the elder said this, an enemy arrow struck him.

The prediction of Starets Antonii occurred: on 2 July, on the feast of the Placing of the Robe of the MostHoly Mother of God, confusion broke out in the ranks of the Tatars, and in unexplained fear and terror they turned to flight. Saint Jona built in his courtyard a temple in honour of the Placing of the Robe of the MostHoly Mother of God , -- in memory of the deliverance of Moscow from the enemies.

The blessed end of Saint Jona followed in the year 1461. By the grave of the Saint began to occur numerous healings.

In 1472 the relics of holy Metropolitan Jona were opened undecayed and placed in the Uspensky Sobor / Cathedral of the Kremlin (the feast of Transfer of the holy Relics is celebrated 27 May). A Sobor of the Russian Church in 1547 established the individual day of memory to Sainted Jona, Metropolitan of Moscow. In 1596 Patriarch Job established the celebration to Sainted Jona in the Sobor / Assemblage of other Moscow Hierarchs, on 5 October.

Sainted Innocent

Sainted Innocent (Innokentii) (Veniaminov), Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomensk (26 August 1797 - 31 March 1879), was glorified in canonisation by the Russian Orthodox Church on 6 October 1977. He was born in the village of Anginsk in the Irkutsk diocese. The Apostle of America and Siberia bespoke his good-news "even to the ends of the earth": in the Aleutian islands (from 1823), in the six dialects of the local tribes on the island of Sitka (from 1834), amongst the Kolosh (Tlingit); in the remotest settlements of the extensive Kamchatka diocese (from 1853); amidst the Koryak, Chukchei, Tungus in the Yakutsk region (from 1853) and North America (in 1857); in the Amur and the Usuriisk region (from 1860).

Having spent a large part of his life in journeys, Saint Innocent translated into the Aleutian language a Catechism and the Gospel, and in 1833 he wrote in this language one of the finest works of Orthodox missionary activity -- "A Directive of the Way to the Kingdom of Heaven". In 1859 the Yakut first heard the Word of God and Divine-services in their own native language. Twice (in 1860 and 1861) Sainted Innocent met with the Apostle to Japan -- Sainted Nikolai (Comm. 3 February), sharing with him his spiritual experience.

A remarkable preacher, Sainted Innocent said: "Exactly that, whosoever aboundeth in faith and love, can have mouth and wisdom, and the heart cannot resist their serving it".

Having begun apostolic work as a parish priest, Saint Innocent closed with it upon the cathedra of Moscow First-Hierarchs (5 January 1868 - 31 March 1879). He was devoted to the Will of God during all the course of his life, and he left behind a testimonial of faith to his successors decreed in the words of the prophet: "From the Lord are the footsteps of man directed" (Ps. 36: 23). The memory of Saint Innocent is celebrated twice during the year: on 23 September (6 October) and on 31 March (13 April).

Saint Hypatius the Healer of the Caves

Saint Hypatius the Healer of the Caves, attained glory through his severe fasting and prayerful vigilance. By night he stood at prayer, slept very little, and ate only bread and water.

St Hypatius devoted himself entirely to the service of the sick, and received from God the gift of healing. Those sick with various illnesses often hastened to his prayerful intercession.

The memory of St Hypatius is celebrated also on August 28, on the Synaxis of the Saints of the Far Caves.