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Saints Cosmas and Damian were natives of Asia Minor. Their father, a pagan, died while they were still quite small children. Their mother, Theodotia, raised the brothers in Christian piety. The example of their mother and the reading of holy books preserved them in chasteness of life in accord with the command of the Lord, and Cosmas and Damian grew up into righteous and virtuous men.
Trained and having become skilled as physicians, they acquired a graced gift of the Holy Spirit -- to heal by the power of prayer people's illnesses both of body and soul, and they treated even animals. With fervent love for both God and neighbour, the brothers went forth into social service. For the maladies which the brothers treated they never took payment, and they strictly observed the command of our Lord Jesus Christ: "Freely have ye received, freely in turn give" (Mt. 10: 8). The fame of Saints Cosmas and Damian spread throughout all the surrounding region, and people called them -- unmercenaries.
One time the saints were summoned to a grievously ill woman -- whom all the doctors had refused to treat because of her seemingly hopeless condition. Through faith Palladia (thus was her name) and through the fervent prayer of the holy brothers, the Lord healed the deadly disease and she got up from her bed perfectly healthy and giving praise to God. In gratitude for being healed and wanting them to accept a small gift from her, Palladia went quietly to Damian. She presented him with three eggs and said: "Take this small gift in the Name of the Holy LifeCreating Trinity -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit". Hearing the Name of the Holy Trinity, the unmercenary one did not dare to refuse.
Cosmas, however, when he learned of what had happened, became very sad. He thought that his brother had broken their strict vow. And soon approached the time when Saint Cosmas was to expire to the Lord. Dying, he gave last instructions that his brother should not be buried alongside him. After a short while Saint Damian also died. All were greatly perplexed where Saint Damian's grave should be. But through the will of God a miracle occurred: there came to the people a camel, which the saints had treated for its wildness, and it spoke with an human voice saying -- that they should not doubt to put Damian alongside Cosmas -- because it was not for the reward that Damian accepted the gift from the woman, but on account of the Name of God. The venerable remains of the holy brothers were buried together at Theremanea (Mesopotamia).
Many miracles were worked upon the death of the holy unmercenaries. There lived at Theremanea, nearby the church of Cosmas and Damian, a certain man by the name of Malchos. One day in setting off on a distant journey, and leaving behind his wife all alone for what would be a long time -- he prayerfully entrusted her to the heavenly protection of the holy brothers. But the enemy of the race of mankind, having taken hold over one of Malchos' friends, planned to destroy the woman. A certain while went by, and this man went to her at home and said that Malchos had sent him, -- to take her to him. The woman believed him and went along. He led her to a solitary place and wanted to molest and kill her. The woman -- seeing that disaster threatened her -- called upon God with deep faith. Two fiercesome men then appeared, and the cunning man let go of the woman, and took to flight: he fell off a cliff! The men led the woman home. At her own home, bowing to them deeply she asked: "What name do they call you? --my rescuers, to whom I shalt be grateful to the end of my days!" "We are the servants of Christ, Cosmas and Damian" -- they answered and became invisible. The woman with trembling and with joy told everyone about what had happened with her, and glorifying God she went up with tears to the icon of the holy brothers and offered up prayers of thanks for her deliverance. And from that time the holy brothers were venerated as protectors of the holiness and inviolability of Christian marriage, and as givers of harmony to conjugal life. And from ancient times their veneration spread also to Russia.
The Holy Martyrs Kyriena from Tarsus and Juliania from Rosa were arrested for confessing the Christian faith under the governor of Cilicia, Marcian, during the reign of the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). They led Saint Kyriena, stripped and with shorn head, around Tarsus for ridicule, and then together with Saint Juliania they went to the city of Rosa, where they gave them over to burning.
The Holy Martyr Hermingeld, Prince of the Goths (+ 586), abandoned the Arian heresy and was converted to Orthodoxy. His father, the emperor Luvingild, was an Arian, and neither by endearing nor by threats was able to sway his son to return to the former faith, and finally gave orders to execute him. The firmness of the prince in his faith and his valour before death compelled the emperor to repent of his deed. Not himself deciding to accept Orthodoxy, he nonetheless permitted the holy Bishop Leander to convert his successor Rekhardt to the true faith. Having become emperor, Rekhardt affirmed Orthodoxy in his domain.
Akindinos, Pegasias, Anempodist, -- were courtiers of the Persian emperor Sapor II (310-381), and clandestinely they were Christians. When the emperor started his persecution against Christians, envious pagans denounced them before him. Summoned to the emperor for trial, the holy martyrs fearlessly confessed their faith in the Holy Trinity. The emperor gave orders to beat them with whips. Twice the exhausted executioners switched places, but the holy martyrs let out neither a cry nor a groan. Even the emperor could not endure the strain and he lost consciousness. Everyone thought him dead. But the saints appealed to God, and the emperor came to himself. And having recovered, Sapor accused the saints of sorcery and gave orders to take the holy martyrs over a bon-fire, so as to suffocate them with the smoke. But by the prayers of the saints the fire extinguished, and the ropes binding them sundered. When the emperor asked them how this had occurred, the holy martyrs told him about Christ working the miracle. Blinded by rage, the emperor began to blaspheme the Name of the Lord. Then the saints exclaimed: "Let thy mouth be speechless", -- and the emperor lost his voice. Having gone mad with terror and rage, he tried with gestures to give the order to take away the holy martyrs to prison. Those round about were not able to understand him, and he began to go into an even greater rage: madly plucking off his mantle, he tore at his hair and beat himself upon the face. Saint Akindinos took pity on him and in the Name of the Lord delivered him from the speechlessness. But this time the emperor attributed everything to magic and he continued the torture of the saints. They placed them upon an iron grate and lighted a fire beneathe it. The saints started to pray. Suddenly it rained and put out the fire. Beholding the miracle accomplished through the prayers of the holy martyrs, many people believed in Christ and confessed their faith. The saints glorified God and called on the believing to accept Baptism by the rain sent down upon them.
One of the executioners, Aphthonios, publicly asked forgiveness of the holy martyrs for causing them suffering, and he bravely went to execution for Christ. The dignitary Elpidiphoros and even the mother of the emperor confessed faith in the One True God. The emperor saw how much the number of Christians was increased and how the torturing of Saints Akindinos, Pegasias and Anempodist actually encouraged the Christian faith. He declared to the people that the holy Martyrs Akindinos, Pegasias, Anempodist and Elpidiphoros with them would have their heads cut off, and that their bodies could not be taken by Christians for burial. When they led the holy martyrs beyond the city walls for execution, a tremendous crowd accompanied them, glorifying Christ. By order of the emperor, soldiers massacred all the Christians (about 7,000) in the procession. Together with the others also was killed Elpidiphoros.
Akindinos, Pegasias, and Anempodist together with the mother of the emperor were burnt on the following day. Christians, coming secretly by night to the place of the execution of the saints, found the bodies of the holy martyrs unharmed by the fire and with reverence they buried them.
The Monk Marcian lived during the IV Century. Having gone off into the wilderness, he lived for many years in solitude, in unceasing prayer and strict fasting. And having built himself a small cell, he settled in it and never lit up candles when by night he did his prayerful rule according to the Psalter, since the Lord lighted the cell with Divine Light. After several years the monk accepted two disciples, settling them beside him, but as before he lived as an hermit. The Antioch Patriarch Flavian (Comm. 18 February) and other bishops entreated the monk to abandon his strict solitude for the benefit of Christians, but the monk would not agree. However, while not quitting his cell, he taught those coming to him for instruction and he turned many away from heresy and led them to the Orthodox faith. Before his end, the Monk Marcian instructed his disciple Eusebios to bury him secretly far off from his cell, so as to shun posthumous glory and avoid contention among those wanting his remains for nearby churches. The Monk Marcian died in the year 388.
Bishop Akepsimos headed the Christian Church in the Persian city of Naesson. His flock devotedly loved their hierarch for his ascetic life and tireless pastoral work. The emperor Sapor gave orders to seek out and kill Christian clergy. Saint Akepsimos also was arrested, being then already an eighty year old man. They took him to the city of Arbela, where he came before the judge Ardarkh -- a pagan-priest of the sun-god. The holy elder refused to offer sacrifice to the Persian gods. For this he was fiercely beaten and thrown into prison, where on the following day they threw in with him, after fierce beatings, the seventy year old Presbyter Joseph and Deacon Haiphal. For three years the saints were held in confinement, and worn down by hunger and thirst.
Emperor Sapor came to the temple of the god of fire, located not far from Arbela, and wanted to take a look at the three holy martyrs. Exhausted and covered with festering wounds, the saints were brought before the emperor and at his demand they again firmly refused to worship the pagan gods, instead confessing their faith in Christ. The holy bishop was beheaded, but the presbyter and deacon were sent off within the city and there to be stoned.
The execution of the presbyter Joseph was prolonged for several hours. A guard was placed near the place of execution, so that Christians would not take the body of the holy martyr. On the fourth night a strong windstorm raged near the city, -- lightning killed the guard, the wind threw about stones, and the body of Saint Joseph disappeared.
The deacon Haifal was taken to the village of Patrias and there he was stoned. Christians secretly buried his body. On the grave of the saint there grew a tree, the fruit of which brought healings.
The Monk Akepsimos dwelt for sixty years in the wilderness, not far from Cairo. He concerned himself with fasting, silence and prayer. At the command of the patriarch, he came out of solitude and was ordained a bishop. He died in extreme old age.
The Holy Princess Anna Vsevolodna was daughter of the Kiev GreatPrince Vsevolod Yaroslavich (1078-1093) whose wife was daughter of the Greek emperor Constantine Monomachos. She did not wish to marry, and as a maiden she took monastic vows in 1082 at the Andreev Yanchinov monastery built for her at Kiev, later destroyed under the Tatar invasion. The monastic and nobleborn princess Anna journeyed to Constantinople, from whence she returned in the company of the newly ordained metropolitan John the Eunuch. She died in the year 1112.
The Monk Ioannikes the Great was born in Bithynia in the year 752 in the village of Marikat. His parents were destitute and could not provide him even the basics of an education. From childhood he had to tend the family cattle -- their sole wealth. Love for God and prayer completely held sway in the soul of the lad Ioannikes. Often, having shielded the herd with the sign of the Cross, he went to a secluded place and spent the whole day praying, and neither thieves nor wild beasts came near his herd.
By order of the emperor Leo IV (775-780), a multitude of officials spread through the cities and towns to draft fine young men for military service. Young Ioannikes was also drafted into the imperial army. He earned the respect of his fellow soldiers for his good disposition, but also as a brave soldier and fierceness to enemies. Saint Ioannikes served in the imperial army for 6 years. More than once he was rewarded by his commanders and the emperor. But military service weighed heavily on him, his soul thirsted for spiritual deeds and solitude. And the Lord summoned His servant to Him for service.
The Monk Ioannikes, having renounced the world, was intent to go off at once into the wilderness. However, on the advice of an elder experienced in monastic deeds, he spent a further two years at the monastery. Here the saint became accustomed to monastic obedience, to monastic rules and practices, he studied reading and writing, and he learned by heart thirty psalms of David. After this, on the urging by God, the monk withdrew into the wilderness. For three years he remained in deep solitude in the wilderness, and only once a month a shepherd brought him some bread and water. The ascetic spent day and night in prayer and psalmody. After each verse of singing the psalms the Monk Ioannikes made a prayer, which in somewhat altered form the Orthodox Church keeps to this day: "My hope is the Father, my refuge is Christ, and my protection is the Holy Spirit". By chance encountering his former companions from military service, the saint quit the wilderness and withdrew to Mount Konturea. Only after 12 years of ascetic life did the hermit accept monastic tonsure. The saint spent three years after the tonsure in seclusion, wrapped in chains, after which he set off to Chelidon to the great faster Saint George (Comm. 21 February). The ascetics spent together three years. During this time the Monk Ioannikes learned by heart the entire Psalter. Having gotten up in age, the Monk Ioannikes settled in the Antidiev monastery and dwelt there in seclusion until his end.
The Monk Ioannikes spent 70 years in ascetic deeds and attained to an high spiritual perfection. Through the mercy of God the saint acquired the gift of prophecy, as his student Pakhomios has related. The monastic elder during the time of prayer hovered over the ground. One time he traversed a river flooded to overflowing. The saint could make himself invisible for people and make others invisible: one time the Monk Ioannikes led out from prison Greek captives under the watch of a crowd of guards. Poison and fire, with which the envious wanted to destroy the saint, did him no harm, and predatory beasts did not touch him. It is known, that he freed the island of Thasos from a multitude of snakes. The Monk Ioannikes likewise saved a young nun, who was preparing to quit the monastery on a whim to marry; he took upon himself the agonised maiden's suffering of passion, and by fasting and prayer annihilated the seductive assault of the devil.
Foreseeing his end, Saint Ioannikes expired to the Lord on 4 November 846, at the age of 94.
The Holy PriestMartyrs Nikander, Bishop of Myra, and the Presbyter Hermes, were disciples of the holy Apostle Paul's follower and co-ascetic, the holy Disciple Titus (Comm. 25 August), and they were ordained by him to the priestly dignity. Asceticising amidst incessant pastoral works, the saints converted many pagans to Christ. For this they were arrested and brought before the city governor, named Libanius. Neither flattery nor threats swayed the holy martyrs to renounce Christ. Then Libanius gave orders that they be tortured. The saints endured fierce and inhuman torments: they were bound to horses, dragged over stones, their bodies were lacerated with iron hooks and they were cast into an hot oven. The Lord helped them endure things, that a mere man by his own strength could not endue. Towards the end the martyrs were pierced in head and heart with spears, and thrown into a pit, they were covered over with ground.
Blessed Simon of Yur'evetsk was born in the city of Yur'evetsa in the Povolzhsk or Volga region. Forsaken by his parents, the saint took upon himself the exploit of fool-for-Christ. Both winter and summer he went barefoot, in a single shirt, so that his skin became blackened and withered from fasting. Unthinking people often were cruel to him. Blessed Simon was fond of praying in the porticos of various churches. The ascetic exploit of self-denial cleansed his soul, and he received from God the gift of foresight: he foresaw many things and predicted the future. And contemporaries, mentioning his name, beheld various miraculous signs. Just before his end the saint went to the house of the voevoda (military commander) Feodor Petelin. Here, not knowing the saint, in a fit of anger he gave orders to give him a beating. Saint Simon fell grievously ill. He summoned a priest, made his confession, received the Holy Mysteries of Christ and consigned his soul to God. The voevoda became remorseful in his sinfulness. And amidst this, all the city gathered for the funeral of the saint. The body of Blessed Simon was buried in Theophany monastery. This occurred on 4 November 1584. In the year 1635 Patriarch Joasaph ordered the Theophany hegumen Dionysii to compile an account of the life and miracles of Blessed Simon and gave blessing to write his icon. The celebration of Blessed Simon has been made since he year 1635.
Sainted Jona, Archbishop of Novgorod, in the world named John (Ioann), was early on left orphaned and then adopted by a certain pious widow living in Novgorod. She raised the child and sent him off to school. Blessed Michael Klopsky, one time chancing to meet John on the street, foretold that he would become archbishop of Novgorod. John received tonsure at the Otensk wilderness-monastery, 50 versts distant from the city, and he became hegumen of this monastery. It was from here that the Novgorod people chose him as their archbishop in 1458, after the death of Sainted Evphymii. Saint Jona enjoyed great influence at Moscow, and during his time as hierarch the Moscow princes did not infringe upon the independence of Novgorod. The Moscow Metropolitan Saint Jona (1449-1461) was a friend of the Novgorod Archbishop Saint Jona, and desired to see him become his successor. Archbishop Jona built for the first time in the Novgorod lands -- a church in honour of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh (in 1463). Concerning himself over reviving traditions of the old days in the Novgorod Church, he summoned to Novgorod the reknown compiler of Saints' Lives -- Pakhomii the Logothete, who wrote on the basis of local sources both services and vitae of the best known Novgorod Saints.
And to this time period belongs also the beginnings of the founding of the Solovetsk monastery. Saint Jona rendered much help and assistance in the organising of the monastery. To the Monk Zosima he gave a special land-grant letter of blessing (in conjunction with the secular authorities of Novgorod), by which was bestown over the whole of Solovetsk Island under the land-holdings of the new monastery.
The saint, after his many toils, and sensing the approach of his end, wrote a spiritual last-instruction to bury his body at the Otensk monastery. On 5 November 1470, having communed the Holy Mysteries, the saint expired to the Lord.
There has survived to the present day a Letter of Saint Jona to metropolitan Theodosii, written in the year 1464. The life of the saint was written in the form of a short account in the year 1472 (included in the work, "Memorials of Old Russian Literature", and likewise in the "Veliki Chet'i-Minei" ("Great Reading Menaion") of Metropolitan Makarii, under 5 November). In 1553, after the uncovering of the relics of Archbishop Jona, an account was compiled about this event, from the pen of the monk Zinovii of Otensk. A special work about the miracles of the saint is to be met with in manuscripts of the XVII Century.
The Holy Martyrs Galaktion and Epistimia: A rich and distinguished couple named Klitophon and Leukippia lived in the city of Phoenician Emesa, and for a long time they were childless. The spouses gave over much gold to the pagan priests, but still they remained childless.
The city of Emesa in the III Century was governed by a Syrian named Secundus, put there by the Roman Caesars. He was a merciless and zealous persecutor of Christians, and to intimidate them he gave orders to display out on the streets the instruments of refined torture. The slightest suspicion of belonging to "the sect of the Galileian" (as thus Christians were called by the pagans), sufficed to get a man arrested and handed over for torture. In spite of this, many Christians voluntarily gave themselves over into the hands of the executioners, in their desire to suffer for Christ.
A certain old man, by the name of Onuphrios, concealing beneathe his beggar's rags his monastic and priestly dignity, walked from house to house in Emesa, begging alms. Everywhere where he saw the possibility to turn people away from the pagan error, there he preached about Christ. One time he came to the magnificent house of Leukippia. In accepting alms from her he sensed, that the woman was in sorrow, and he asked what was the cause of this sadness. She told the elder about her familial misfortune. In consoling her, Onuphrios began to tell her about the One True God, about His almightiness and mercy, and that He always grants the prayer of those turning to Him with faith. Hope filled the soul of Leukippia. She believed and accepted Holy Baptism. Soon after this in a dream it was revealed to her, that she would give birth to a son, who would be a true follower of Christ. At first Leukippia concealed from her husband her delight, but after the infant was born, she revealed the secret to her husband and persuaded him likewise to be baptised.
They named the baby Galaktion. His parents raised him in the Christian faith and provided him a fine education. He could make for himself an illustrious career, but Galaktion sought rather for an immaculate and monastic life -- in solitude and prayer.
When Galaktion turned age 24, his father resolved to marry him off and they found him a bride, a beautiful and illustrious girl by the name of Epistimia. The son did not oppose the will of his father; however, through the will of God, the nuptials were for a certain while postponed. Visiting often with his betrothed, Galaktion gradually revealed about his faith to her, and he converted her to Christ and he himself secretly baptised her. Together with Epistimia he baptised also one of her servants, Eutolmios. The newly-illumined decided, on the initiative of Galaktion, to devote themselves to a monastic life. Quitting the city, they hid themselves away on Mount Publion, where there were two monasteries, one for men and the other for women. The new monastics had to take with them all the necessities for physical toil, since the inhabitants of both monasteries were both old and infirm. For several years the monastics asceticised at work, fasting and prayer. But one time Epistimia had a vision in her sleep: Galaktion and she stood in a wondrous palace before the Resplendent King, and the King bestowed on them golden crowns. This was a presentiment of their impending martyr's end.
The existence of the monasteries became known to the pagans, and a military detachment was sent off to apprehend their inhabitants. But the monks and the nuns succeeded in hiding themselves away in the hills. Galaktion however had no desire to flee and so he remained in his cell, reading Holy Scripture. When Epistimia saw that the soldiers were leading away Galaktion in chains, she began to implore the hegumeness to permit her to go also, since she wanted to accept torture for Christ together with her fiancee-teacher. The hegumeness with tears blessed Epistimia to do so.
The saints endured terrible torments, whilst supplicating and glorifying Christ. By order of the judge they were quartered asunder.
Eutolmios, the former servant of Epistimia, and who had become her brother in Christ and co-ascetic in monastic deeds, secretly gave reverent burial to the bodies of the holy martyrs. He later wrote in eulogy of their lives, for both his contemporaries and posterity.
The Disciples from the Seventy: Patrobus, Hermas, Linus, Caius and Philologos (I) preached the Gospel in diverse cities, each enduring various hardships in their service as bishops. Saint Patrobus (Rom. 16: 14) was bishop of Neopolis (now Naples) and Puteola in Italy. The Disciple Hermas was bishop in the city of Philippoplis he died a martyr). Linus (2 Tim. 4: 21) was a successor to the Apostle Peter at Rome. Saint Caius (Rom. 16: 23), after the Disciple Timothy, was bishop of Ephesus. The Apostle Andrew ordained Saint Philologos (Rom. 16: 15) as bishop of the city of Sinope (in the Black Sea region).
Sainted Paul, Archbishop of Constantinople, was chosen to the patriarchal cathedra-seat after the death of Patriarch Alexander (+ 340), when the Arian heresy had again flared up. Many of the Arians were present at the Council which selected the new Constantinople patriarch. They revolted in opposition to the choice of Saint Paul, but the Orthodox at the Council were in the majority. The emperor Constantius, ruling over the Eastern half of the Roman empire, was an Arian. At the time of the election of the patriarch he was not in Constantinople. Upon his return, he convened a council, which illegally declared the dethronement of Saint Paul, and the emperor banished him from the capital. In place of the saint they raised up Eusebios of Nicomedia. Patriarch Paul withdrew to Rome, where also were other Orthodox bishops banished by Eusebios.
Not for long did Eusebios rule the Constantinople Church. When he died, Saint Paul returned to Constantinople. He was greeted by his flock with love. But Constantius exiled the saint a second time, and so he returned to Rome. The Western emperor Constans wrote his Eastern co-ruler an harsh letter, which he dispatched to Constantinople along with the holy exiled archpastor. The threats worked, and Saint Paul was reinstated upon the patriarchal throne.
But soon the pious emperor Constans, a defender of the Orthodox, was treacherously murdered during a palace coup. They again banished Saint Paul from Constantinople and this time sent him off in exile to Armenia, to the city of Kukuz, where he accepted a martyr's death. When the Patriarch was celebrating the Divine Liturgy, Arians rushed upon him by force and strangled him with his own hierarchical omophor. This occurred in the year 350. In the year 381 the holy Emperor Theodosius the Great solemnly transferred the relics of Saint Paul the Confessor from Kukuz to Constantinople. In 1326 the relics of Saint Paul were then transferred to Venice.
Saint Athanasias the Great, a contemporary of Saint Paul, writes briefly about his exiles: "Saint Paul the first time was dispatched by Constantine to Pontus, the second time fettered in chains by Constantius, and then he was locked up in Mesopotamian Syngara and from there moved to Emesus, and the fourth time to Cappadocian Kukuz in the Taurian wilderness".
The Monk Varlaam of Khutynsk lived in the XII Century, the son of an illustrious Novgorodian, and he lived his childhood years at Novgorod. Withdrawing at an early age to the Lisich monastery near the city, the Monk Varlaam accepted tonsure. Later on he settled at a solitary hill below Volkhov, in a locale called Khutyn', 10 versts from Novgorod. In solitude the Monk Varlaam led a strict life, making unceasing prayer and keeping very strict fast. He was a zealous ascetic in his tasks -- he himself felled timber in the forest, chopped firewood and tilled the soil, fulfilling the words of Holy Scripture: "If any shalt not work, neither shalt he eat" (2 Thess. 3: 10). Certain of the inhabitants of Novgorod gathered to him, wanting to share in monastic works and deeds. Instructing those that came, the Monk Varlaam said: "My children, be observant against all unrighteousness, and neither envy nor slander. Refrain from anger, and give not money over for usury. Beware to judge unjustly. Do not swear falsely giving an oath, but rather fulfill it. Be not indulgent to the bodily appetites. Always be meek and bear all things with love. This virtue -- is the beginning and root of all good".
Soon there was erected a church in honour of the Transfiguration of the Lord, and a monastery founded. The Lord sent down upon the monk, for his service to others, the gifts of wonderworking and perspicacity. When his days approached an end, by Divine Will there came from Constantinople the priestmonk Antonii -- of the same age and a friend of the Monk Varlaam. The blessed saint, in turning to him, said: "My beloved brother! God's blessing doth rest upon this monastery. And now into thine hand I transfer this monastery. Watch over and take concern for it. I do expire to the King of Heaven. But be not confused over this: while yet in the body I do leave you, still in spirit I shalt be with you always". Having bestown guidance unto the brethren, with the command to preserve the Orthodox faith and dwell constantly in humility, the Monk Varlaam reposed to the Lord on 6 November 1192.
Sainted German, Archbishop of Kazan, lived during the XVI Century. He was born in the city of Staritsa, and was descended from the old boyar-noble line of the Polevi. In his youthful years Grigorii (such was his name in the world) took tonsure at the Josepho-Volokolamsk monastery under the Hegumen Gurii, who afterwards became likewise a Sainted-Archbishop of Kazan (+ 1563, Comm. 5 December). (Saint Gurii was head of the monastery from 1542 to 1551). At the monastery Saint German occupied himself with the copying of books, and he was close with the Monk Maxim the Greek, living there confined. In 1551 the brethren of the Staritsa Uspenie monastery, having learned of the piety of their native-son, chose him as their archimandrite.
Having entered into the guidance of this monastery, Saint German with a pastoral zeal concerned himself over its disposition, both outer and inner, -- for the monk himself was a model of humility and meekness. He exhorted all to strictly observe their monastic commitment, and for guidance he introduced into his monastery the ustav/rule of the Monk Joseph of Volotsk (+ 1515, Comm. 18 October).
But after two and an half years Archimandrite German left the Staritsa monastery, having transferred its guidance to the priestmonk Job, who afterwards was to become the first Patriarch of Moscow, and was an ascetic and sufferer for the Russian Land. Saint German's love for solitary efforts brought him to return to his original Volokolamsk monastery, where he strove towards his salvation as a simple monk. When however there appeared at Moscow the new heretic Matfei Bashkin, who refused to acknowledge the Holy Sacraments and denied faith in the Holy Trinity, Saint German together with his own father (who himself had received tonsure at the Volokolamsk monastery with the name Philothei) was called to the Moscow Sobor (Council) of 1553. The Sobor censured the heretic Bashkin and resolved to send him for enlightening to the Volokolamsk monastery to Saint German, as one known for his holy life and zeal for the faith in Christ.
In 1555, after the taking of Kazan, an archbishopal cathedra-seat was established there, upon which they designated as archbishop the former hegumen of Volokolamsk monastery, Saint Gurii. To him was entrusted to build for missionary purposes an Uspenie monastery in the city of Sviyazhsk. By decree of Saint Gurii, the designated head of this new monastery of the Uspenie-Dormition of the MostHoly Mother of God in Sviyazhsk was Saint German. A stone cathedral with bell-tower and monastic cells was built. And the monastery head himself lived very frugally, in a cramped cell beneathe the cathedral bell-tower. And Saint German concerned himself particularly over the gathering together of a monastery library.
Soon his monastery became far-famed for its doing of good, and it became a centre of enlightenment for the Kazan region.
On 12 March 1564, after the repose of Saint Gurii, Saint German was consecrated bishop of Kazan. The short duration of his cathedral guidance was marked nonetheless by concern over the building of churches and the enlightenment of the region. In 1566 Ivan the Terrible summoned Saint German to Moscow and gave orders to elect him to the Metropolitan cathedra-seat there. Saint German at first refused to have this burden imposed upon him. The tsar would not tolerate any objection and the saint was obliged to settle into the Metropolitan quarters until his elevation to the dignity of Metropolitan. And seeing the injustices on the part of the tsar's inner circle, Saint German, true to his pastoral duty, attempted to reason with the tsar by his admonitions. -- "Thou art not yet elevated to Metropolitan, and already thou placest constraints upon my freedom", -- communicated the tsar through his cronies and gave orders to expel Saint German from the Metropolitan quarters and hold him under surveillance. The saint survived for about two years in disgrace and on 6 November 1567 he died. They interred him in the church of Saint Nicholas the Hospitable. And later, at the request of the inhabitants of Sviyazhsk, the relics of the saint in 1592 were transferred from Moscow to the Sviyazhsk Uspenie monastery. Saint Ermogen, then Metropolitan of Kazan, paid visit to his grave.
The Monk Luke of Tauromenium was a native of the Sicilian city of Tauromenium. In his youth he left his parents and fiancee and went into the wilderness, where he spent many years in fasting and prayer. He asceticised at Mount Aetna. Towards the end of his life the Monk Luke, through a revelation to him, founded a monastery. In order to become familiar with the ustav/rule and life of other monasteries, the monk visited many other cities. During the time of one of these journeys he died at Corinth at the beginning of the IX Century.
The Holy Martyr Hieron was born in the city of Tiana in great Cappadocia. Raised by a pious mother, he was a kindly and good Christian.
The co-ruling emperors Diocletian and Maximian (284-305) sent to Cappadocia a large military detachment headed by Lyzias to eradicate the wide-spread Christianity there, and also, to conscript into the imperial army healthy and strong soldiers. Amidst the many others, Lyzias gave orders also to draft into military service Hieron, who was distinguished by his great physical strength and dexterity. But Hieron refused to serve emperors who would persecute Christians. When they attempted to grab hold of him by force and bring him to Lyzias, he took hold a beam of wood, and sent scattering the soldiers who had been sent to bring him. He then hid himself away in a cave, together with eighteen others of like mind. Lyzias would not risk losing his soldiers assaulting the cave even by storming it. Upon the advice of Kyriakos, one of the friends of Hieron, Lyzias lifted the siege of the cave and withdrew his detachment. Then Kyriakos, having reassured Hieron, persuaded him not to offer resistance to the authorities; and he together with the other new conscripts amidst accompanying soldiers were dispatched to the nearby city of Meletina. Soon Hieron had a vision in his sleep, in which was foretold him his imminent martyr's end. Lyzias proposed to the soldiers gathered at Meletina that they offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Hieron and behind him another 32 soldiers refused to do this, and openly they confessed their faith in Christ. Then the persecutor gave orders to beat the martyrs, and to cut off the hand of Hieron. After cruel tortures they threw the barely alive martyrs into prison, and in the morning they beheaded them.
A certain rich and illustrious Christian by the name of Chrysanthos ransomed the head of Hieron from Lyzias. And when the persecutions finally ceased, he built a church on the place where they executed the holy martyrs, and he placed the venerable head therein. The bodies of all the executed saints were secretly buried by Christians. During the reign of the emperor Justinian later on, amidst the construction of a church in the name of Saint Irene, the venerable relics were uncovered undecayed.
The Holy Martyrs Melasippos and Kasynia and their son Antoninos suffered during the reign of the emperor Julian the Apostate in the city of Ancyra in Phrygia in the year 363. The holy Martyrs Melasippos and Kasynia, lacerated by iron hooks and exhausted, died under torture. Their son the lad Antoninos, whom the persecutor forced to watch the torturing of his parents, spat in the face of the God-apostate emperor. For this he was subjected to cruel tortures, in which he remained unharmed, and then he was beheaded. And forty other youths, witnessing that the Lord had preserved His confessor Antoninos unharmed by tortures, believed in Christ, and they openly confessed their faith and accepted death by martyrdom.
Saint Thessalonikia was the daughter of a pagan priest. When the impious father learned that his daughter was become a Christian, he ruthlessly beat her and threw her out of the house, bereft of any means of providing for herself. Saints Auktos and Taurion attempted to intercede for the girl and to reason with the embittered father. The pagan priest denounced them both to the authorities, and they were arrested. Having confessed their faith in Christ afront the torturers and having undergone cruel tortures, the saints were then beheaded. Soon after their martyr's death, Saint Thessalonikia also died. Her body was reverently buried in the city of Amphypolis in Macedonia, together with the holy Martyrs Auktos and Taurion.
The Monk Lazaros of Galiseia was born in Lydia, in the city of Magnesium. As a youth educated and loving God, Lazaros became a monk at the monastery of Saint Sava, the founder of great ascetic piety in Palestine. The monk spent ten years within the walls of the monastery, winning the love and respect of the brethren for his intense monastic effort.
Ordained presbyter by the Jerusalem Patriarch, the Monk Lazaros returned to his native country and settled not far from Ephesus, on desolate Mount Galiseia. Here he was granted a wondrous vision: a fiery pillar, rising up to the heavens, was encircled by Angels, singing: "Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered". On the place where this vision appeared to the saint, he built a church in honour of the Resurrection of Christ and took upon himself the feat of pillar-dwelling. Monks soon began to flock to the great ascetic, thirsting for wise spiritual nourishment by the Divinely-inspired word and blessed example of the saint. Thus arose a monastery.
Having received a revelation about his impeding end, the monk related this to the brethren, but through the tearful prayers of all, the Lord prolonged the earthly life of Saint Lazaros for another 15 years.
The Monk Lazaros died at 72 years of age, in the year 1053. The brethren buried the body of the saint at the pillar, upon which he had pursued asceticism. The saint was glorified by many miracles after his death.
The Celebration of the Sobor (Assemblage) of the Leader of the Heavenly Hosts Michael, and the Other Heavenly Bodiless Hosts was established at the beginning of the IV Century at the local Laodician Council, which occurred several years before the First OEcumenical Council. The Laodician Council by its 35th Canon condemned and renounced as heretical the worship of angels as creators and rulers of the world and it affirmed their proper Orthodox veneration. A feastday was established in November -- the ninth month from March (with which month the year began in ancient times) -- in accordance with the 9 Ranks of Angels. The eighth day of the month was decreed for the intended Sobor (Assemblage) of all the Heavenly Powers -- in conjunction with the Day of the Dread Last-Judgement of God, which the holy fathers called the "Eighth Day", -- since after this age in which the seven days [of Creation] have elapsed will come the "Eighth Day", -- and then "shalt come the Son of Man in His Glory and all the holy Angels together with Him" (Mt. 25: 31).
Over all the Nine Ranks, the Lord put the Holy Leader ("Archistrategos") Michael (his name in translation from the Hebrew means -- "who is like unto God") -- a faithful servitor of God, wherein he hurled down from Heaven the arrogantly proud day-star Lucifer together with the other fallen spirits. And to the remaining Angelic powers he cried out: "Let us attend! Let us stand aright before our Creator and not ponder that which is displeasing unto God!" According to Church tradition, in the church service to the Archistrategos Michael concerning him, he participated in many other Old Testament events. During the time of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt he went before them in the form of a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Through him the power of the Lord was made manifest, annihilating the Egyptians and Pharaoh who were in pursuit of the Israelites. The Archangel Michael defended Israel in all its misfortunes.
He appeared to Jesus Son of Navin (Joshua) and revealed the will of the Lord at the taking of Jericho (Nav. / Josh. 5: 13-16). The power of the great Archistrategos of God was manifest in the annihilation of the 185 thousand soldiers of the Assyrian emperor Sennacherib (4  Kings 19: 35); also in the smiting of the impious leader Antiochos Illiodoros; and in the protecting from fire of the Three Holy Youths -- Ananias, Azarias and Misail, thrown into the fiery furnace for their refusal to worship an idol (Dan. 3: 22-25).
Through the will of God, the Archistrategos Michael transported the Prophet Avvakum (Habbakuk) from Judea to Babylon, so as to give food to Daniel, locked up in a lions' den (Kondak of Akathist, 8).
The Archangel Michael prevented the devil from displaying the body of the holy Prophet Moses to the Jews for idolisation (Jude 1: 9).
The holy Archangel Michael showed his power when he miraculously saved a lad, cast by robbers into the sea with a stone about his neck at the shores of Athos (Athos Paterikon).
From ancient times the Archangel Michael was famed by his miracles in Rus'. In the Volokolamsk Paterikon there is included a narrative of the Monk Paphnutii of Borovsk with an account of Tatar "baskaki" (tax-gatherers) concerning the miraculous saving of Novgorod the Great: "And wherefore Great Novgorod never was taken by the Hagarites... when by the sufferance of God for our sins the godless Hagarite emperor Batu devoured and set aflame the Russian land and was come to the New City (i.e. Novgorod) and God and the MostHoly Mother of God shielded it with an appearance of Michael the Archistrategos, which did forbid him to enter into it. He [Batu] was come to the Lithuanian city and did come towards Kiev and did see the stone church over the doors of which the great Archangel Michael had written and spoken unto the prince his allotted fate: 'By this we have forbidden entry into Great Novgorod'".
Intercession for Russian cities by the MostHoly Queen of Heaven always involved Her appearances with the Heavenly Hosts, under the leadership of the Archistategos. Grateful Rus' acclaimed the MostPure Mother of God and the Archangel Michael in church singing. To the Archistrategos Michael are dedicated many a monastery, cathedrals, court and merchant churches. In old Kiev at the time of the accepting of Christianity, there was erected a cathedral of the Archangel, and a monastery also was built in his name. Archangel cathedrals stand at Smolensk, Nizhni Novgorod, Staritsa, a monastery at Great Ustiug (beginning XIII Century), and a cathedral at Sviyazhsk. In Rus' there was not a city, wherein was not a church or chapel, dedicated to the Archangel Michael. One of the chief temples of the city of Moscow -- the burial church in the Kremlin -- is dedicated to him. Numerous and beautiful icons of the Chief-in-Rank of the Highest Powers are also in his Cathedral. One of these -- the Icon "Blest Soldiery" --written in the Uspenie (Dormition) Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, where the saintly soldiers -- Russian princes -- are depicted under the leadership of the Archistrategos Michael.
From Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition are likewise known the Archangels: Gabriel -- strength (power) of God, herald and servitor of Divine almightiness (Dan. 8: 16, Lk. 1: 26); Raphael -- the healing of God, the curer of human infirmities (Tobit 3: 16, 12: 15); Uriel -- the fire or light of God, enlightener (3 Ezdras 5: 20); Selaphiel -- the prayer of God, impelling to prayer (3 Ezdras 5: 16); Jehudiel -- the glorifying of God, encouraging exertion for the glory of the Lord and interceding about the reward of efforts; Barachiel -- distributor of the blessing of God for good deeds, entreating the mercy of God for people; Jeremiel -- the raising up to God (3 Ezdras 4:36).
The Holy Martyrs Onesyphoros and Porphyrios suffered during the time of persecution against Christians by the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They beat them and burned them with fire. After this, they tied the saints to wild horses, which dragged them over the stones, after which the Martyrs Onesyphoros and Porphyrios died. Believers gathered the lacerated remains of the saints and reverently buried them.
The Nun Matrona was born in the city of Pergium Pamphylia (Asia Minor) in the V Century. They gave her in marriage to a well-off man named Dometian. When her daughter Theodotia was born, they resettled in Constantinople. The twenty-five year old Matrona loved to walk to the temple of God. She spent entire days there, ardently praying to the Lord and weeping for her sins.
At the church the saint made the acquaintance of two pious women-elders, Eugenia and Susanna, who from the time of their youth asceticised there in work and prayer. Matrona began to imitate the God-pleasing life of an ascetic, humbling her flesh by abstinence and fasting, for which she had to endure criticism by her husband. Her soul yearned for a full renunciation of the world. After long hesitation Saint Matrona decided to leave her family and besought the Lord to reveal, whether her intent was pleasing to Him. The Lord heard the prayer of His servant. Once during a light sleep she had a dream that she had fled her husband, who was in pursuit of her. The saint concealed herself in a throng of monks approaching her, and her husband did not notice her. Matrona accepted this dream as a Divine directive to enter a men's monastery, where her husband would not guess to look for her. She gave over her daughter for raising to the woman-elder Susanna, and having cut her own hair and disguised herself in men's attire, she went to the monastery of the Monk Bassion (Comm. 10 October). There the Nun Matrona passed herself off as the eunuch Babylos and was accepted into the number of the brethren. Apprehensive lest the monks learn that she was a woman, the saint passed her time in constant quietude and much work. The brethren marveled at the great virtue of Babylos. One time the saint with the other monks was working in the monastery vineyard. The newly-made monk Barnabos noted that her ear-lobe was pierced and asked about it. "It is necessary, brother, to till the soil and not watch other people, which is not proper for a monk", -- answered the saint.
After a certain while it was revealed in a dream to the Monk Bassion, the hegumen of the monastery, that the eunuch Babylos -- was a woman. It was likewise revealed to Blessed Akakios, hegumen of the nearby Abrahamite monastery. The Monk Bassion summoned Saint Matrona and strictly demanded an answer, for what purpose she had infiltrated the monastery, whether to corrupt the monks or shame the monastery. With tears the saint told the hegumen about all her past life, about her pursuing husband, hostile to her efforts and prayers, and about the dream-vision, directing her to go to the men's monastery. Becoming convinced that her intent was pure and chaste, the Monk Bassion sent off Saint Matrona to a women's monastery in the city of Emesa. In this monastery the saint dwelt for many years, inspiring the sisters by her high monastic achievement. When the hegumeness died, by the unanimous wish of the nuns the Nun Matrona became head of the convent.
The fame about her virtuous activities, and about a miraculous gift of healing, which she acquired from the Lord, spread far beyond the walls of the monastery. Dometian also heard about the deeds of the nun. When Saint Matrona learned that her husband was come to the monastery and wanted to see her, she secretly went off to Jerusalem, and then to Mount Sinai, and from there to Beirut, where she settled in an abandoned pagan temple. The local inhabitants learned of her reclusion, and began to come to her. The holy ascetic turned many from their pagan impiety and converted them to Christ. Women and girls began to settle by the dwelling of the nun and soon there emerged a new monastery. Having fulfilled the will of God, revealed to her in a dream, the saint left Beirut and journeyed to Constantinople where she learned, that her husband had died. With the blessing of her spiritual father, the Monk Bassion, the ascetic founded in Constantinople a women's monastery, to which transferred also sisters from the Beirut convent founded by her. The Constantinople monastery of the Nun Matrona was known for its strict monastic rule and the virtuous life of its sisters.
In extreme old age Saint Matrona was deigned a vision of the coelestial paradise and the place prepared for her there after 75 years of monastic work. At the age of one hundred, the Nun Matrona, having blessed the sisters, quietly expired to the Lord (about the year 492).
The Nun Theoktista was born on the island of Lezbia (or Lesbos)in the city of Mithymna (Asia Minor). At an early age she was left a total orphan, and relatives gave her over for raising to a monastery. The girl was happy removed from the world of sin, and she liked the attraction of monastic life, the long Church services, the monastic obedience, the strict fasting and unceasing prayer. She learned by heart much of the singing, prayer and psalmody. In the year 846 when she was already 18 years old, with the blessing of the hegumeness, she set off on the feast of the Resurrection of Christ to a neighbouring village to visit her sister by birth and she remained there for overnight. Arabs invaded the settlement by night, and they took captive all the inhabitants, boarded them on a ship and by morning they were on the sea.
The brigands took the captives to the desolate island of Paros so that, having examined them, they might assign a value to each in conveying them to the slave-market. The Lord helped the young maiden to flee, and the Arabs did not catch her. From that time the Nun Theoktista dwelt on the island for 35 years (+ 881). An old church in the name of the MostHoly Mother of God served as her dwelling, and her food -- was sunflower seeds. All her time she spent in prayer.
One time a group of hunters landed upon the island. One of them, pursuing his prey, went far off from the coast into the forest and suddenly he saw the church. He went into the church so as to offer up a prayer to the Lord. After the prayer the hunter saw in a dim corner, not far from the holy altar-table, through thick cob-webs a certain semblance of an human form. He went closer and heard a voice: "Stay there, fellow, and come no closer to shame me, since I am a naked woman". The hunter gave the woman his outer clothing and she came out from concealment. He beheld a grey-haired woman with worn face, calling herself Theoktista. With a weak voice she told about her life fully devoted to God.
Having finished her story, the saint entreated the hunter, that if only he happened to come upon this island again, that she should bring her a particle of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts. During all her time of living in the wilderness she not once was granted to commune the Holy Mysteries of Christ. A year later the hunter again arrived upon the island and brought a small vessel with a particle of the Holy Mysteries. Saint Theoktista met the Holy Gifts in the church, fell down to the ground and prayed long with tears. Having gotten up, she took the vessel and with reverence and in the fear of God she communed the Body and Blood of Christ. On the following day the hunter beheld within the church the dead body of the Nun Theoktista. Having dug a shallow grave, the hunter placed the venerable body of the nun in it and during this he impudently cut off her hand, so as to take with him part of the relics of the great saint of God. All night the ship sailed upon a tempestuous sea, and in the morning it found itself at the very place from which it began. The man then perceived in taking up the relic that this was not pleasing to God. He returned to the grave and placed the hand with the body of the saint. After this the ship sailed off unhindered. On the journey the hunter told his companions about everything that had happened on the island. Listening to him, they all decided immediately to return to Paros, so as to venerate together the relics of the great ascetic, but they could not find her holy body in the grave.
The Monk Onisiphor of Pechersk pursued asceticism at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. He was a presbyter and had the gift of perspicacity. He died in the year 1148 and was buried in the Nearer Caves alongside the Monk Spiridon. His memory is also 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Holy Martyr Alexander of Soluneia was arrested by pagans for confessing the Christian faith. Under the emperor Maximian (305-311) he not only openly called himself a Christian, but in answer to the demand to offer sacrifice to the gods, he overturned the idolatrous sacrifice in indignation. The emperor gave orders to behead the saint. When the execution was done, the emperor and the executioner saw how an Heavenly Angel came forth bearing up to the heavens the soul of the holy Martyr Alexander. The emperor permitted Christians to bury the body of the saint with honour in the city of Soluneia, which they did with joy.
The Holy Martyr Anthony, a Syrian, lived during the V Century and was a stone-mason. With the blessing of the bishop of the Syrian city of Apameia, he began to construct a church in the Name of the Holy Trinity. Pagan townspeople, having learned of this, rushed by night into his house and murdered him with a sword.
The Monk John the Short-Statured (Kolobos) asceticised in the Egyptian wilderness in the V Century in the monastery of the Monk Pimen the Great (Comm. 27 August). From the name of this monastery, monastic wilderness monasteries began to be called "sketes", in which monks pursued asceticism in strict solitude and silence. The Monk John was a gentle, humble and work-loving monk. It was to this monastery that the young John came with his brother Daniel. At first John asceticised without spiritual guidance, but the Lord brought him to his senses, in that strict ascetic deeds need to be done under the observation of an elder (starets) experienced in the spiritual life. One time the Monk John told his brother that he did not want to be concerned about clothing and food, and that he wished to live like the Angels. Having removed his clothing, he went out from the cell. At night it was very cold, and the scantily-clad John soon began to tap on the door of the cell. Daniel did not immediately remind his brother the saying that an Angel is not concerned about its body. The Monk John realised, that he relied too much on himself and bitterly he wept. After being brought to his senses the Monk John went to the Monk Pimen, known for his firm and steadfast will, and having asked guidance, he promised to be obedient in all things. Testing the patience of the young monk, Saint Pimen gave him an unusual obedience. For three years the Monk John carried water and poured it on a dried-up tree, and it became covered with leaves and gave abundant fruit, and was given the name "the tree of obedience". The Monk John afterwards himself became a guide of many people on the way of salvation, among which were the Monk Arsenios the Great (Comm. 8 May) and Blessed Taisia (Comm. 10 May).
Saint John was the author of the Life of the Monk Paisias the Great (Comm. 19 June).
Saint Evstolia, a native of Rome, came to Constantinople and entered one of the women's monasteries. The virtuous and strict monastic life of the blessed saint gained her the love and respect of the sisters. Not only monastics, but also many laypeople came to her for advice and consolation.
Saint Sosipatra, daughter of the emperor Maurice (582-602), being inclined towards monasticism, met the Nun Evstolia at Blakhernai, in the church in honour of the MostHoly Mother of God. After conversation with the saint, Sosipatra finally decided to leave the world and give her will over altogether to her guide, the Nun Evstolia. In the palace building, which the pious emperor bestowed upon his daughter, there gradually emerged a monastery, known for its strict monastic rule.
Saint Evstolia died in the year 610, and Saint Sosipatra -- in the year 625.
The Monks Euphymios and Neophytes of Dokhiareia, an uncle and his nephew, belonged to the highest Byzantine aristocracy. The Monk Euphymios, while still in the world, merited honour to be the friend of the Monk Athanasias of Athos (Comm. 5 July), and he afterwards became a novice and disciple of the great ascetic. For his sincere love of the brethren, gentleness and his particular zeal in the ascetic life, Saint Athanasias granted the monk the duty of steward (dokhiar or economos), which the Monk Euphymios fulfilled as though entrusted on him by God Himself.
Saint Euphymios settled with several of the monks in the locale of Daphnos, where he founded a monastery in the name of Saint Nicholas, and called by him Dokhiareia in memory of his obedience. Guiding his own younger brethren, the Monk Euphymios taught the necessity of attention towards self, to all the stirrings of the soul, explaining that the struggle of Christians -- according to the Apostle Paul, is not "against flesh and blood, but against principalities, and against powers, and against the world-rulers of darkness of this age" (Eph. 6: 12). The peaceful ascetic life of the monks was disturbed by the Saracens. The monk led all the brethren into the forest. Returning, they found the monastery wrecked to its very foundations. The Monk Euphymios did not lose heart, and the monastery was rebuilt again. The Monk Neophytes in the world was a companion of the emperor Nicephoros Phocas (963-969). Upon the death of his parents he came to Athos, where he took vows in the monastery of his uncle the Monk Euphymios. Before his death, the Monk Euphymios transferred the running of the monastery to his nephew. Under the spiritual guidance of the Monk Neophytes the small monastery grew into a Laura. Having proposed to the emperor Nicephoros to become an endower (contributor) of the monastery, the Monk Neophytes enlarged the monastery to the present Dokhiareia dimensions. The Monk Neophytes was deigned to be chosen "proton" (heading the "protatum" -- the council of elders of the Holy Mountain) and for many years he laboured there. After taking leave of the protatum in his declining years, the monk returned to the Dokhiareia monastery, where peacefully he expired to the Lord.
The Holy Disciples from the Seventy: Herastos, Olympos, Rodion, Sosipater, Kuartos (Quartus) and Tercias lived during the I Century.
Saint Rodion, or Herodian, was a kinsman of the Apostle Paul (Rom. 16: 11), and left the bishop's cathedra (chair) at Patras so as to go to Rome with the Apostle Peter. The holy Disciple Olympos (or Olympian), -- about whom the holy Apostle Paul recollects (Rom. 16: 15), was also a companion of the Apostle Peter. Both of these Disciples from the 70 were beheaded on the very day and hour, when the Apostle Peter was crucified.
The holy Disciples Herastos, Sosipater, Quartus and Tercias were disciples of the holy Apostle Paul. The Apostle to the Gentiles speaks of them in the Epistle to the Romans: "Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen, do greet you..." (Rom. 16: 21); "And also do I, Tercias, who wrote down this epistle, greet you" (Rom. 16: 22); "And Herastos, the city treasurer, doth greet you, and brother Quartus" (Rom. 16: 23).
The Disciple Sosipater, a native of Achaeia, was bishop of Iconium where also he died. The Disciple Herastos was at first a deacon and treasurer of the Jerusalem Church, and later on bishop at Paneadis. The holy Disciple Quartus endured much suffering for his piety and converted many pagans to Christ, dying peacefully in the dignity of bishop in the city of Beirut. The holy Disciple Tercias, having written down the dictation of the Apostle Paul contained in the Epistle to the Romans, was the second bishop of Iconium, where also he died.
The Holy Martyr Orestes lived at the end of the III Century in the city of Tiana in Cappadocia during the time of the emperor Diocletian. He was an illustrious and capable soldier, and from childhood Saint Orestes was truly a good Christian.
By order of the emperor, the military-officer Maximinus was dispatched to Tiana for dealing with Christianity, which then had spread widely throughout Great Cappadocia. Orestes was among the first brought to trial to Maximinus. He bravely and openly confessed his faith in our Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ. The prosecutor offered the saint riches, honours and reknown for renouncing the One True God, but Saint Orestes was unyielding. By order of Maximinus, they took Orestes to a resplendid pagan temple and again demanded he worship idols. When he refused, 40 soldiers, taking turns one after the other, beat the holy martyr with lashes, with canes, with rawhide, and then they tormented him with fire. Saint Orestes cried out to the Lord: "Oh God, make with me a sign of blessing, let those hating me see it and be put to shame". And the Lord heard His true servant. The earth began to tremble, and the idols fell down and were smashed. Everyone rushed out of the temple, and when Saint Orestes came out, the very temple tumbled down.
Infuriated, Maximinus ordered the holy martyr to be locked up in prison for seven days giving him neither food nor drink, and on the eighth day to continue with the torture. They wedged nails into the heels of the martyr, and then tied him to a wild horse. Dragged over the stones, the holy martyr expired to the Lord in the year 304. His relics were thrown into the sea.
When many years had passed, in 1685, a certain monk of the Kievo-Pechersk Lavra (Dimitrii, afterwards the Sainted-Hierarch of Rostov, Comm. 28 October) was copying from an ancient manuscript the Life of Saint Orestes. He became tired and fell asleep. The holy martyr appeared to him in a dream vision and, having shown him the deep wound in his chest and the lacerated sinews of his arms and bruised knees, he bid him to add these into his life, since not all the torments which befell the saint were recorded in the ancient manuscript. The humble monk carried out the wish of the holy Martyr Orestes and he gave praise to God, Who is Wondrous in His Saints.
The PriestMartyr Milios, Bishop of Persia, and his two Disciples, lived during the IV Century. The holy Martyr Milios was banished from the city of Suza, where his bishop's cathedra was situated. By his pious and ascetic life he was vouchsafed gifts of prophecy and healing. The saint suffered in the year 341 with two if his students, Abrosim and Sinos [trans. note: this text variance of name from the header above is in the Russian original, perhaps reflecting alternate Graeco-Russian transcriptions of Persian names], in their native city of Suza. They returned there after long wanderings and brought many to Christ.
The Holy Martyr Constantine -- was a Gruzian prince from Upper Kartalinia. He was famed in his country for his generosity to the poor, and for the patronage of churches and clergy. During his time Gruzia was often subject to invasion from various enemies. In one of these battles with the barbarians, Constantine was taken captive and brought to Tiflis to the emir Buga, who at first locked him in prison, but later transferred him to the emperor Dzhepar, who demanded he renounce Christ, but Constantine firmly confessed his faith. They locked him away into a fetid prison cell. Because of his stoic strength of faith, on orders of the emperor he was beheaded with the sword in the year 842 at age 85. They hung up the body of the saint in the city square, but Christians took it and brought it to Gruzia. The place of burial is unknown.
In honour of the holy Martyr Constantine, a feastday was established under the Catholikos John II (871-893), and later on a service was compiled by the Catholikos Anthony.
The Breaking on the Wheel of the Holy GreatMartyr George: Gruzia (Georgia), -- having been enlightened with the Christian faith by the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Nina (+ 335, Comm. 14 January), a kinswoman of the holy GreatMartyr George the Victory-Bearer (+ 303, Comm. 23 April) -- has especial veneration to Saint George as its patron-saint. One of the names of Gruzia (Georgia) -- is in honour of George (this name is preserved now in many languages of the world). In his honour the holy GreatMartyr Nina established a feastday. It is celebrated at present in Georgia on 10 November, in remembrance of the Breaking on the Wheel of Saint George. During the year 1891 in the Caucassus, near the village of Kakha in the Zakatal'sk region, a new church in place of the old was built in honour of the holy GreatMartyr George the Victory-Bearer, and many of the heterodox Bogomils thronged to it.
The Holy GreatMartyr Menas, an Egyptian by birth, was a soldier and served in the city Kotuan under the centurion Firmilian during the reign of the emperors Diocletian and Maximian (284-305). When the co-emperors began the then fiercest persecution against Christians in history, the saint lost all desire to serve these persecutors and, having left the service, he withdrew to a mountain, where he asceticised in fasting and prayer. Once during the time of a pagan feastday he happened to arrive in the city, in which earlier he had served. At the climax of the festal games, which all the city had come out to see, rang out the accusing voice of the saint of God, preaching faith in Christ, the Saviour of the world.
At trial before the governor Pyrrhos the saint bravely confessed his faith and said, that he had come hither, in order to denounce all of impiety. Saint Menas spurned he suggestion to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, and he was put to cruel tortures, after which he as beheaded. This occurred in the year 304. The body of the holy martyr as ordered to be burnt. Christians by night gathered up from the burnt-out fire the undestroyed remains of the martyr, which later were installed in a church in his name, built after the cessation of the persecution at the place of the suffering and death of the GreatMartyr Menas.
The Holy Martyr Victor was a soldier during the reign of the emperor Marcus Auelius the Philosopher (161-180). When the emperor began a persecution against Christians, Victor refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Such obligatory sacrifices were made as a test of the loyalty of a soldier to the gods, the emperor and the state. The saint was given over to torture, but he came through all the torments unharmed. By the power of prayer he was victorious over a sorcerer, who from that point in time gave up give sorcery and became a Christian. Through the prayer of the saint, blind soldiers were suddenly restored their sight. Beholding the miracle, manifest by the Lord through Saint Victor, a young pious spouse of one of the torturers, Stephanida, openly glorified Christ, for which she was condemned to cruel execution: they tied her to two bended-over palm trees, which in springing back straight tore apart the martyress. The holy Martyr Victor was beheaded. The martyrs suffered in the II Century at Damascus, where also heir venerable remains were consigned to burial.
The Holy Martyr Vincent from his childhood was the student of a wise pastor, the bishop of the city of Augustopolis (now Saragossa, Spain), Blessed Valerian. When he reached mature age, the virtuous, educated and eloquent Vincent was ordained deacon by Bishop Valerian. And since the bishop himself was not adept in speech, he gave the blessing to preach in church and among the people to his deacon, a eloquent orator. By order of Diocletian (284-305), in the city of Valencia in Spain there arrived the governor Dacian with full authority to search out and execute Christians. Denunciations were made to the governor about the wise bishop and his deacon the preacher. The soldiers mounted on horses dragged behind them the elder and his student in chains from Augustopolis to Valencia, and there they threw them beaten and tortured into prison, where hey gave them neither food nor water. They subjected the bishop to the first interrogation. The elder spoke quietly, tongue-tied it seemed and uncertain. Then Saint Vincent came forward. The saint made the most eloquent preaching of his life before the judges and assembled people, confessing and glorifying God, proclaimed in the Trinity -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Having dispatched the bishop back to prison, the persecutor gave orders to torture the holy deacon. The martyr underwent many a torment: while crucified on a cross, they whipped and burnt at him with red-hot rods. When he was set loose from the cross, he then himself joyfully climbed back upon it, asking the executioner to again renail him, so that he might suffer the torments of the Cross of the Saviour. After the tortures they threw the martyr back into prison, and the guard at night heard with astonishment how he sang psalms, and beholding in the prison an unearthly radiant light. The next morning the holy martyr was condemned to be burned. This occurred in the year 304.
The Monk Theodore the Studite was born in the year 758 at Constantinople into a family of the imperial tax-collector Photinos and his spouse Theoktista -- both pious Christians. The Monk Theodore received a serious and systematic education from the best rhetoricians, philosophers and theologians within the capital city.
During this time in the Byzantine empire the Iconoclast heresy had become widespread, and it was supported also by the impious emperor Constantine Kopronymos (741-775). the views of the emperor-iconoclast and his court decidedly conflicted with the religious sensitivity of Photinos, who was fervently an adherent of Orthodoxy, and so he left government service. Later on the parents of Saint Theodore, by mutual consent, gave away their substance to the poor, took their leave of each other and accepted monastic tonsure. Their son Theodore soon became widely known in the capital for his participation of the then numerous disputes concerning icon-veneration. Accomplished in the oratorical art, and with a free command of terminology and logic of the philosophers, and chief thing of all, a profound knowledge of Christian dogmatics, adept in the letter and the spirit of the Holy Scriptures, -- all this invariably brought victory in the disputes to Saint Theodore, the zealous denouncer of the Iconoclast heresy.
The VII OEcumenical Council put an end to the Church dissensions. It was convened through the initiative and under the auspices of the pious Empress Irene. The OEcumenical Council through its settings as he highest authority in the life of the Church forever denounced and spurned Iconoclasm.
Among the fathers of the Council was Blessed Platon (Comm. 5 April), an uncle of Saint Theodore, and who for a long time had asceticised on Mount Olympos. An elder and lofty of life, Blessed Platon at the conclusion of the Council summoned his nephews -- Theodore together with his brothers Joseph and Euthymios -- to the monk's life in the wilderness. The brothers gratefully accepted the guidance of their kinsman, experienced in the spiritual life.
Having departed Constantinople, they set off to the locale of Sakudian, not far from Olympos. The solitude and the beauty of the place, its difficulty of access for unaspiring people, met with the approval of the elder and his nephews, and they decided to remain here. The brothers built a church in the name of Saint John the Theologian, and gradually there began to throng here those thirsting for monastic deeds. And thus arose a monastery, the hegumen of which was Blessed Platon.
The life of the Monk Theodore was truly ascetic. He toiled at his own heavy and dirty work. He strictly kept fast, and each day he made confession to his spiritual father -- the starets-elder Platon, revealing to him all his doings and thoughts, and carefully he fulfilled all his counsels and guidances. Theodore daily made time for spiritual reflection, he bared his soul to God, unburdened of any earthly concern, making as it were a certain secret service to Him. The Monk Theodore unfailingly read the Holy Scripture and works of the holy fathers, among them finding his closest affinity to the works of Saint Basil the Great.
After several years of the monk's life, the Monk Theodore accepted the dignity of presbyter at the guidance of his spiritual father. When Blessed Platon went to his repose, the brethren unanimously chose the Monk Theodore as hegumen of the monastery. Swayed at the wish of his confessor, the Monk Theodore accepted being chosen, but imposed upon himself still greater deeds of asceticism. He taught the brethren by the example of his own virtuous life and also by fervent fatherly instruction.
When the emperor transgressed against the Church's canons, the events of outside life disturbed the tranquillity in the monastic cells. The Monk Theodore bravely distributed a circular missive through the monasteries, in which he declared the emperor Constantine VI (780-797) excommunicated from the Church for abusing the Divine regulations concerning Christian marriage. The Monk Theodore and ten of his co-ascetics were sent into exile to the city of Soluneia (Thessalonika). But there also the accusing voice of the monk continued to ring out. Upon her return to the throne, Saint Irene in 796 set free the Monk Theodore, and gave over to him the desolate Studite monastery near Kopronyma. The saint soon gathered to the monastery about 1,000 monks. For governing the monastery the Monk Theodore wrote an ustav-rule of monastic life, since called the "Studite rule". The Monk Theodore likewise came out with many missives against the Iconoclasts. For his dogmatic works, and also the canons and triodes written by him, Blessed Theoktistos termed the Monk Theodore "a fiery teacher of the Church".
When Nicephoros seized the imperial throne, deposing the pious Empress Irene, he likewise crudely transgressed against Church regulations by restoring to the Church on his own authority an earlier excommunicated presbyter. The Monk Theodore again came out with denunciation of the emperor. After torture the monk was again sent into exile, where he spent more than two years. The monk was then set free by the gentle and pious emperor Michael, who succeeded to the throne upon the death of Nicephoros and his son Staurikios in a war against barbarians. Their death for a long while had been foretold by the Monk Theodore.
In order to avert civil war, the emperor Michael abdicated the throne to his military commander Leo the Armenian. The new emperor proved to be an iconoclast. The hierarchs and teachers of the Church attempted to reason with the impious emperor, but in vain. Leo prohibited the veneration of holy icons and gave them over for abuse. In answer to such iniquity, the Monk Theodore with the brethren made a religious procession around the monastery with highly raised icons and the singing of the tropar to the image of the Saviour Not-Made-by-Hand (Comm. 16 August). The emperor angrily threatened the saint with death, but the monk openly continued to encourage believers in Orthodoxy. Then the emperor sentenced the Monk Theodore and his student Nicholas to exile, at first in Illyria at the fortress of Metopa, and later in Anatolia at Boneta. But even from prison the confessor continued his struggle against heresy.
Tormented by the executioners which the emperor sent to Boneta, deprived almost of food and drink, covered over with sores and barely alive, Theodore and Nicholas endured everything with prayer and thanksgiving to God. At Smyrna, where they dispatched the martyrs from Boneta, the Monk Theodore healed from a terrible illness a military commander -- a nephew of the emperor and like-minded with him, by having ordered him to repent of the wicked doings of Iconoclasm. But the fellow again later relapsed into heresy, and then died.
Having been murdered by his own soldiers, Leo the Armenian was replaced by the equally impious though tolerant emperor Michael II Traulos (the Stammerer). The new emperor set free all the Orthodox fathers and confessors from prison, but in the capital he prohibited icon-veneration. The Monk Theodore did not want to return to Constantinople and so decided to settle in Bithynia in the city of Chersonessus, near the church of the holy Martyr Tryphon. In spite of serious illness, the Monk Theodore celebrated Divine Liturgy daily and instructed the brethren. Foreseeing his end, the saint summoned the brethren and in last wishes bid them to preserve Orthodoxy, to venerate holy icons and observe the monastic ustav-rule. Then he ordered the brethren to take candles and sing the canon for the parting of the soul from the body. Just before the singing of the words "I forget not Thine commandments ever, for in them hath I lived" -- the Monk Theodore expired to the Lord, in the year 826.
At this selfsame hour there occurred a vision to the Monk Ilarion of Dalmatia (Comm. 6 June). An heavenly light shone amidst singing and the voice was heard: "This is the soul of the Monk Theodore, having suffered even to the extent of its blood for holy icons, which now departeth unto the Lord".
The Monk Theodore during his life and after his death worked many a miracle: those invoking his name have been delivered from conflagrations, from attack of wild beasts, they have received healing, thanks to God and to His holy saint -- the Monk Theodore the Studite.
On 26 January is celebrated the memory of the transfer of the relics of the Monk Theodore the Studite from Chersonessus to Constantinople in the year 845.
Blessed Maxim, Fool-for-Christ, lived at Moscow. About his parentage, time and place of birth, nothing is known. Saint Maxim chose one of the most difficult and thorny paths to salvation, voluntarily for the sake of Christ having taken upon himself the guise of a fool. Summer and winter Maxim walked about almost naked, bearing with prayer both the heat and cold. He had a saying: "Fierce though be the winter, yet sweet be paradise". Rus' very much loved its holy fools, it esteemed their deep humility, it heeded their wisdom, expressed profitably and aphoristically in the proverbial sayings of the people's language. And everyone heeded the holy fools: everyone from the great princes on down to the least beggar.
Blessed Maxim lived at a difficult time for the Russian people. Tatar incursions, droughts, epidemics were endemic and people perished. The saint said to the unfortunate: "Not everything is by the weave of the wool, some be opposite... They have won the fight, admit it, and bow the lower; weep not for the beaten, weep rather the unbeaten; let us show tolerance and in this we shalt at least be human; gradually even raw firewood ignites; for toleration may God grant salvation". But the saint did not only speak words of consolation. His angry denunciations frightened the mighty of his world. Blessed Maxim was wont to say to the rich and illustrious: "An idolatrous house, and a conscience corrupted; everyone is baptised, let everyone pray; God doth detect every wrong. He deceiveth not thee, nor deceivest thou He".
Blessed Maxim died on 11 November 1434 and as buried at the church of the holy Princes Boris and Gleb. Miraculous healings began occurring from the relics of the saint of God. In a circular missive of 1547, metropolitan Makarii enjoined "the singing and celebration at Moscow to the new Wonderworker Maxim, Fool-for-Christ". That same year on 13 August the relics of Blessed Maxim were uncovered undecayed. The church of Saints Boris and Gleb, at which the saint was buried, burned in the year 1568. On its place was built a new church, which they consecrated in the name of Saint Maxim, Fool-for-Christ. And into this church was put the venerable relics of Saint Maxim.
Sainted John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria, was born on Cyprus in the VII Century into the family of the illustrious dignitary Epiphanios. At the wish of his parents he entered into marriage and had children. When the wife and the children of the saint died, he became a monk: strict at fasting, prayer and love for brother.
His spiritual exploits gain him reknown, and when the Patriarchal cathedra-seat at Alexandria fell vacant, the emperor Heraclius and all the clergy besought Saint John to occupy the Patriarchal throne.
The saint worthily assumed his archpastoral service, concerning himself over the moral and dogmatic welfare of his flock. During his time as patriarch he denounced and drove out from Alexandria the heresy of the Antioch Monophysite Phyllonos.
But his chief task he considered to be charity and beneficence towards all those in need. At the beginning of his patriarchal service he ordered an accounting of all the poor and downtrodden in Alexandria, which turned out to be over seven thousand men. To all these unfortunates the saint daily distributed food, gratis and for free. Twice during the week, on Wednesdays and Fridays, he emerged from the doors of the Patriarchal cathedral, and sitting on the church portico, he received everyone in need: he settled quarrels, aided the wronged, and distributed alms. Three times a week he visited in the sick-houses, and rendered help to the suffering. It was during this period that the emperor Heraclius led a tremendous army against the Persian emperor Chosroes II. It resulted with the Persians ravaging and burning Jerusalem, and taking a multitude of captives. The holy Patriarch John gave over a large portion of the church treasury for their ransom.
The saint never refused suppliants. One time along the road to the sick-house he encountered a beggar and commanded that he be given 6 silver coins. The beggar, having made a change of clothes, ran on ahead of the Patriarch and again began to entreat alms. Saint John again gave him 6 silver coins. When however the beggar a third time besought charity, and the servants began to thrust away the obtrusive fellow, the Patriarch ordered that he be given 12 pieces of silver, saying: "Is Christ not indeed putting me to the test?" Twice the saint gave money to a merchant that had suffered shipwreck, and a third time gave him a ship belonging to the Patriarchate and filled with grain, with which the merchant had a successful journey and repaid his obligations.
Saint John the Merciful was known for his gentle attitude towards people. One time the saint was compelled because of some offense to remove from the Church a certain clergyman. This fellow was angry at the Patriarch, and so the saint wanted to summon him and talk it out, but it slipped his mind. But when he was celebrating the Divine Liturgy, the saint was suddenly reminded by the words of the Gospel: when thou bringest forth thine gift to the altar and do recollect, that thine brother hath something against thee, leave hold thine gift and first make peace with thine brother (Mt. 5: 23-24). The saint came out of the altar, called over the offending clergyman to him, and falling down on his knees before him, in front of all the people he asked forgiveness. The clergyman, shaken with surprise, repented his doings and afterwards became a pious priest.
Likewise there was a time when a certain citizen insulted George, a nephew of the Patriarch. George asked the saint to avenge the wrong. The saint promised to reward the offender, in a manner that all Alexandria would see. This calmed George down, and Saint John began to instruct him, speaking about the necessity of meekness and humility, and then, having summoned the insulter, he declared, that he would release him from payment of a church tax on his land. Alexandria indeed was amazed by such a "revenge", and George learned the lesson in the teaching of his uncle.
Saint John, a strict ascetic and man of prayer, was always mindful of his soul, and of death. He commissioned for himself a crypt-coffin, but he did not bid the master-craftsmen to finish it off, instead each feastday he would have them come and ask, if it was time to finish the work.
Shortly before his death, Saint John through illness was compelled to resign his cathedra and set off to the island of Cyprus. On the ship-journey the saint in his illness had a sign: in a sleep-vision a resplendent man appeared to him and said: "The King of kings doth summon thee unto Himself". The vision announced the impending death of the Patriarch. Having arrived at Cyprus, in his native city of Amaphunteia, the saint in peace expired to the Lord (616-620).
The Holy Monk Nilos the Faster, a native of Constantinople. He lived during the V Century and was a student of Saint John Chrysostom. Having received a fine education, the saint while still a young man was appointed to the important post of prefect of the capital. During this period, Nilos was married and had children. But the pomp of courtly life bothered the couple. Saint John Chrysostom exerted a tremendous influence upon their lives and their strivings. The spouses decided to separate and devote themself to monastic life. The wife and daughter of Nilos set out to one of the women's monasteries in Egypt, and the Monk Nilos and his son Theodoulos went to Sinai, where they settled in a cave dug out by their own hands. For forty years this cave served as the dwelling of the Monk Nilos. By fasting, prayer and works, the monk attained to an high degree of spiritual perfection. People began to come to him from every occupation and social rank -- from the emperor down to the farmer, and each found counsel and comfort from the saint. In solitude the Monk Nilos wrote much. A letter of his is known of -- in which there is an angry denunciation of the emperor Arcadius, who had exiled Saint John Chrysostom. And widely known are the ascetic works of the Monk Nilos: they are perfectly executed in form, profoundly Orthodox, and filled with sincere sense and clear thought.
The Monk Nilos suffered many a misfortune in the wilderness. Thus, for example, Saracens captured his son Theodoulos, whom they intended to offer as a sacrifice to their pagan gods. Through the prayers of the saint the Lord saved Theodoulos, and the monk found him with the bishop of Emessa, who had ransomed the young man from the barbarians. And this bishop ordained both of them as presbyters. After ordination they returned to Sinai, where they asceticised together until the death of the Monk Nilos.
The Holy Prophet Akhiah (Ahijah), (cf. 1  Kings 11: 29ff) -- was a contemporary of Solomon, and was born in the city of Silom. The prophet predicted to Jeroboam his kingly rule over the 10 Tribes of Israel, which God would grant him, snatching them away from the hands of Solomon. Afterwards Akhiah predicted to Jeroboam the perishing of all his line. All the predictions of the prophet were fulfilled. The Prophet Ahiah died in old age 960 years before the Birth of Christ.
The Monk Nilos the Myrh-Exuding was born in Greece, in a village named for Saint Peter, in the Zakoneia diocese. He was raised by his uncle, the priestmonk Makarios. Having attained the age of maturity, he took monastic tonsure and was found worthy of ordination to monk-deacon, and then to priestmonk. The desire for great effort at monastic deeds brought the monastic uncle and nephew to Athos, where Makarios and Nilos asceticised, at a place called the Holy Rocks. Upon the repose of Blessed Makarios, the Monk Nilos in undertaking still more intense spiritual efforts resettled in a place well nigh inaccessible for any living thing. Upon his departure to the Lord, the Monk Nilos was glorified by an abundant flow of curative myrh, for which Christians journeyed from the most distant lands of the East.
Sainted John Chrysostomos (Zlatoust), Archbishop of Constantinople, one of the Three OEcumenical Hierarchs [in English termed "Three Saints", Comm. 30 January], was born at Antioch in about the year 347 into the family of a military-commander. His father, Secundus, died soon after the birth of his son. His mother, Anthusa, widowed at twenty years of age, did not seek to remarry but rather devoted all her efforts to the raising of her son in the dictates of Christian piety. The youth studied under the finest philosophers and rhetoricians. But, scorning the vain disciplines of pagan knowledge, the future hierarch turned himself to the profound study of Holy Scripture and prayerful contemplation. Saint Meletios, Bishop of Antioch (Comm. 12 February), loved John like a son, guided him in the faith, and in the year 367 baptised him. After three years John was made a church-reader. Later on, when Saint Meletios had been sent off into exile by the emperor Valens in the year 372, John together with Theodore (afterwards bishop of Mopsuetia) studied under the experienced instructors of ascetic life, the presbyters Flavian and Diodor of Tarsis. The highly refined Diodor had especial influence upon the youth. When John's mother died, he accepted monasticism, which he called the "true philosophy". Soon John and his friend Basil came to be regarded for the occupying of episcopal cathedra-chairs, and the friends decided to withdraw into the wilderness, fleeing assignment. But Saint John, himself evading the dignity of archbishop out of humility, secretly assisted in the consecration of Basil.
During this period Saint John wrote his "Six Discourses on the Priesthood", a great work of Orthodox pastoral theology. The saint spent four years in the toils of wilderness life, asceticising under the guidance of an experienced spiritual guide. And here he wrote three books entitled, "Against the Opponents of Those Attracted to the Monastic Life", and a collection entitled, "A Comparison of the Monk with the Emperor" (or, "Comparison of Imperial Power, Wealth and Eminence, with the True and Christian Wisdom-Loving Monastic Life"), -- both works which are pervaded by a profound reflection of the worthiness of the monastic vocation. For two years the saint maintained complete silence, situated in a solitary cave. But to recover his health the saint was obliged to return to Antioch. In the year 381 the bishop of Antioch Saint Meletios ordained him deacon. The years following were devoted to work over new theological tomes: "Concerning Providence" ("To the Ascetic Stagirios"), "Book Concerning Virginity", "To a Young Widow" (2 discourses), and the "Book About Saint Babylos and Against Julian and the Pagans".
In the year 386 Saint John was ordained presbyter by the bishop of Antioch, Flavian. They imposed upon him the duty to preach the Word of God. Saint John was a splendid preacher, and for his rare talent with God-inspired words he received from his flock the title -- the "Golden-Tongued" (Grk. "Chrysostomos", Slav. "Zlatoust"). For twelve years the saint preached in church amidst a crowded throng of people, deeply stirring the hearts of his listeners, usually twice a week, but sometimes daily.
In his pastoral zeal to provide Christians a rather better comprehension of Holy Scripture, Saint John made recourse to sacred-textual hermeneutics -- the discipline of commentary explanation of the Word of God (i.e. exegesis"). Among his exegetical works are commentaries on entire books of the Holy Scripture (Genesis, the Psalter, the Gospels of Matthew and John, the Epistles of the Apostle Paul), and also many an homily on individual texts of the Holy Bible, but likewise instructions on the Feastdays, laudations on the Saints, and also apologetic (i.e. defensive) homilies (against Anomoeans, Judaisers and pagans). Saint John as presbyter zealously fulfilled the command of caring for the needy: under him the Antioch Church each day provided sustenance to as many as 3,000 virgins and widows, not including in this number the shut-ins, wanderers and the sick.
At the beginning of Great Lent in 388 the saint began his commentary on the Book of Genesis. Over the forty-day period he preached 32 homilies. During Passion week he spoke about the Betrayal and about the Cross, and during the Paschal Bright Week his parishioners were daily instructed by his pastoral discourse. His exegesis on the Book of Genesis was concluded only at the end of October (388). With Pascha in the following year the saint began his examination of the Gospel of John, and towards the end of the year 389 he switched over to the Gospel of Matthew. In the year 391 the Antioch Christians listened to his commentary on the Epistles of the holy Apostle Paul to the Romans and to the Corinthians. In 393 he addressed the Epistles to the Galatians, the Ephesians, Timothy, Titus and the Psalms. In his homily on the Epistle to the Ephesians, Saint John denounced an Antioch schism: "I tell ye and I witness before ye, that to tear asunder the Church means nothing less, than to fall into heresy. The Church is the house of the Heavenly Father, One Body and One Spirit".
The fame of the holy preacher grew, and in the year 397 with the demise of the Constantinople archbishop Nektarios -- successor to Sainted Gregory the Theologian, Saint John Chrysostom was summoned from Antioch for placement upon the Constantinople cathedra-seat. At the capital, the holy archpastor was not able to preach as often as he had at Antioch. Many matters awaited resolving by the saint, and he began with the most important -- with the spiritual perfection of the priesthood. And in this he himself was the best example. The financial means apportioned for the archbishop were channelled by the saint into the upkeep of several hospices for the sick and two hostels for pilgrims. The archpastor sufficed on scant food, and he refused invitations to meals. The zeal of the saint in affirming the Christian faith spread not only to the inhabitants of Constantinople, but also to Thrace -- to include Slavs and Goths, and to Asia Minor and the Pontine region. He established a bishop for the Bosphorus Church, situated in the Crimea. Saint John sent off zealous missionaries to Phoenicia, to Persia, and to the Skyths, to convert pagans to Christ. He also wrote missives to Syria to bring back the Marcionites into the Church, and he accomplished this. Preserving the oneness of the Church, the saint would not permit a powerful Gothic military-commander, who was dictating terms to the emperor, to open an Arian church at Constantinople. The saint exerted much effort in the arranging of august Divine-services: he compiled a Liturgy, he introduced antiphonal singing for the all-night vigil, and he wrote several prayers for the sacramental rite of anointing the sick with oil. The dissolute morals of people in the capital, especially at the imperial court, found in the person of the saintly hierarch its denunciation, irrespective of person. When the empress Eudoxia connived at the confiscation of the last properties of the widow and children of a disgraced dignitary, the saint rose to their defense. The arrogant empress did not concede and nursed a grudge against the archpastor. The hatred of Eudoxia against the saint blazed forth anew, when malefactors told her, that apparently the saint had her particularly in mind in his instruction on women of vanity. A trial-court was convened composed of hierarchs, which earlier had been justly condemned by Chrysostom: Theophilos of Alexandria, the Gabala bishop Severian, who shortly before had been banished from the capital because of improprieties, and others. This court of judgement declared Saint John deposed, and for his insult to the empress to be subject to execution. The emperor substituted exile for execution. At the church surged an angry crowd, resolved to defend their pastor. The saint, in order to avoid a riot, gave himself over into the hands of the authorities. That very night at Constantinople there occurred an earthquake. The court was ashudder. The terrified Eudoxia urgently besought the emperor to bring back the saint and promptly dispatched a letter to the banished pastor, beseeching him to return. And anew, in the capital church, the saint in a short talk praised the Lord, "For All His Ways". The slanderers fled to Alexandria. But already after a mere two months a new denunciation provoked the wrath of Eudoxia. In March of the year 404 there gathered an unjust Council, decreeing the exile of Saint John. Upon his removal from the capital, a conflagration reduced to ashes the temple of Saint Sophia and the Senate edifice. Devastating barbarian incursions soon followed, and in October 404 Eudoxia died. Even pagans saw in these events Heavenly chastisement for the unjust judgement rendered against the saint of God.
Situated in Armenia, the saint strove all the more to encourage his spiritual children. In numerous letters (245 are preserved) to bishops in Asia, Africa, Europe and particularly to his friends in Constantinople, Saint John consoled the suffering, guiding and giving support to his followers. In the Winter of 406 Saint John was confined to his bed with sickness. But his enemies were not to be appeased. From the capital came orders to transfer Saint John to desolate Pitius (in Abkhazia). Worn out by sickness, under accompanying military escort for three months in the rain and frost, the saint made his final transferral, -- at Comana his powers failed him. At the crypt of Saint Basiliskos (Comm. 22 May), comforted by a vision of the martyr ("Despair not, brother John! Tomorrow we shalt be together"), and having communed the Holy Mysteries, the oecumenical hierarch with the words, "Glory to God for everything!", expired to the Lord on 14 September 407. The holy relics of Saint John Chrysostom were solemnly transferred to Constantinople in the year 438. The student of Saint John, the Monk Isidor Pelusiotes (Comm. 4 February), wrote: "The house of David is grown strong, and the house of Saul enfeebled: he is victor over the storms of life, and is entered into Heavenly repose". The memory of Sainted John Chrysostom is celebrated by Holy Church on 27 and 30 January and 13 November.
The Holy Apostle Philip, was a native of the city of Bethsaida (or Bethesda, in Galilee). He had a profound depth of knowledge of the Holy Scripture, and rightly discerning the meaning of the Old Testament prophecies, he awaited the coming of the Messiah. Through the summoning of the Saviour (Jn. 1: 43), Philip followed Him. The Apostle Philip is spoken about several times in the Holy Gospel: he brought to Christ the Apostle Nathanael (i.e. Bartholomew, Comm. 22 April, 11 and 30 June, 25 August; Vide Jn. 1: 46); the Lord asks him how much money would be needful to buy bread for five thousand men (Jn. 6: 5-7); he brought certain of the Hellenised Jews wanting to see Jesus (Jn. 12: 21-22); and finally, at the time of the Last Supper he asked Christ about God the Father (Jn. 14: 8).
After the Ascension of the Lord, the Apostle Philip preached the Word of God in Galilee, accompanying his preaching with miracles. Thus, he restored to life a dead infant, in the arms of its mother. From Galilee he set off to Greece, and preached amongst the Jews that had settled there. Certain of them reported in Jerusalem about the preaching of the apostle, in response to which there arrived in Hellas (Greece) from Jerusalem, scribes with the Jewish high-priest at their head, for a persecution against the Apostle Philip. The Apostle Philip exposed the lie of the high-priest, who said that the disciples of Christ had stolen away and hidden the body of Christ, telling instead how the Pharisees had bribed the soldiers on watch, to deliberately spread this rumour. When the Jewish high-priest and his companions began to insult the Lord and lunged at the Apostle Philip, they suddenly were struck blind. By prayer the apostle restored everyone to sight, and in beholding this miracle, many believed in Christ. The Apostle Philip established a bishop for them, by the name of Narcissos (listed within the rank of the Seventy Disciples, -- Comm. 4 January).
From Hellas the Apostle Philip set out to Parthia, and then to the city of Azota, where he healed an eye affliction of the daughter of a local resident named Nikoclides, who had received him into his home, and then baptised with all his whole family.
From Azota the Apostle Philip set out to Syrian Hieropolis where, stirred up by the Pharisees, the Jews burned the house of Heros, who had taken in the Apostle Philip, and they wanted to kill the apostle. But in witnessing miracles wrought by the apostle --the healing of the hand of the city official Aristarchos, withered in attempting to strike the apostle, and also a dead lad restored to life -- they repented and many accepted holy Baptism. Having made Heros bishop at Hieropolis, the Apostle Philip went on to Syria, Asia Minor, Lydia, Emessa, and everywhere preaching the Gospel and undergoing sufferings. Both he and his sister Mariamna accompanying him were pelted with stones, locked up in prison, and thrown out of villages.
Then the Apostle Philip arrived in Phrygia, in the city of Phrygian Hieropolis, where there were many pagan temples, among which was a pagan temple devoted to snake-worship, having within it an enormous serpent. The Apostle Philip by the power of prayer killed the serpent and healed many bitten by the snakes. Among those healed was the wife of the city governor Amphypatos. Having learned that his wife had accepted Christianity, the governor Amphypatos gave orders to arrest Saint Philip, his sister, and the Apostle Bartholomew travelling with them. At the urging of the pagan priests of the temple of the serpent, Amphypatos gave orders to crucify the holy Apostles Philip and Bartholomew. At this time there began an earthquake, and it knocked down to the ground all those present at the judgement-place. Hanging upon the cross at the pagan temple of the serpent, the Apostle Philip prayed for the salvation of those that had crucified him, to save them from the ravages of the earthquake. Seeing this happen, the people believed in Christ and began to demand that the apostles be taken down from the crosses. The Apostle Bartholomew, in being taken down from the cross was still alive, and he baptised all those believing and established a bishop for them.
But the Apostle Philip, through whose prayers everyone remained alive, except for Amphypatos and the pagan priests, -- died on the cross.
Mariamna his sister buried his body, and together with the Apostle Bartholomew she set out preaching to Armenia, where the Apostle Bartholomew was crucified (Comm. 11 June); Mariamna herself then preached until her own death at Likaoneia (Comm. 17 February).
The Monk Philip, in the world Theophil, was the founder of the Irapsk wilderness-monastery. As an orphan not remembering his parents and going around, the 12 year old Theophil settled near the Komel'sk monastery and lived on charity. The Monk Kornilii (Comm. 19 May) accepted the pious youth into the monastery and after three years tonsured him a monk with the name Philip. Meek, humble and hard-working, at the request of the brethren he was deigned the priesthood. His striving for greater efforts led him to withdraw to the Belozersk outskirts. Here, having the patronage of prince Andrei Sheleshpansky -- who had allotted him land near the River Irapa, 45 versts from Cherepovets -- the monk built a chapel in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity and made for himself a cell. News about the holy wilderness-dweller spread throughout all the surroundings, and monks began to flock to him. Soon at the place of the chapel was built a church in the Name of the Holy Life-Originating Trinity. The Monk Philip dwelt in the wilderness for 15 years and died at age 45. His relics were placed beneathe a crypt in the Trinity temple. Over his grave was an icon, written through a vision by the monk Theodosii. Soon after the death of Saint Philip, at the place of his efforts arose the Krasnoborsk Philippov monastery.
The celebration of the Monk Philip was established at the end of the XVI Century. The manuscript service to him is dated from the end XVI Century.
The Holy Right-Believing Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora: Saint Justinian, a major figure in the history of the Byzantine state, was also a great champion of Orthodoxy, a builder of churches and a Church writer, and he was of Slavic descent -- born in Bulgaria. During his reign (527-565) Byzantium won glory with military victories in Persia, Africa, Italy, -- as a result of which paganism was decisively rooted amongst the Germanic Vandal and West-Goth tribes. By command of the emperor Justinian the pagan schools in Athens were closed. With the aim of spreading Christianity through the regions of Asia Minor, Justinian sent there the bishop of Ephesus John, who baptised more than 70 thousand pagans. The emperor gave orders to build 90 churches for the newly-converted, and he generously supported church construction within the empire. His finest structures of the time are considered to be the monastery at Sinai, and the church of Saint Sophia at Constantinople. Under Saint Justinian many a church was built in the name of our MostHoly Lady Mother of God. Being a man of quite diverse an education, Saint Justinian assiduously concerned himself over the education of clergy and monks, ordering them to be instructed in rhetorics, in philosophy and in theology.
The tight-believing sovereign devoted much attention and effort into the struggle with the Origenists of his time, who then were reviving the Nestorian heresy. Against their heretical speculations was composed the Church-hymn "Only-Begotten Son and Immortal Word of God, Who for our salvation...", and he commanded its singing as obligatory in the churches. From that time through the present day this hymn is sung in the Divine Liturgy before the Small Entrance [i.e. 2nd Antiphon]. At the command of the sovereign, in the year 553 was convened the Fifth OEcumenical Council, censuring the teachings of Origen and affirming the definitions of the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon. The holy Emperor Justinian about orderly rule and law within the realm. Under his guidance and supervision was compiled a complete compendium of Roman laws, which has come down to us as a codex of law known as "the Justinian Codex". The "Novellae" (i.e. "Church-laws") of Justinian find inclusion in all the variants of the Russian Church-law NomoKanon Books.
In his personal life, Saint Justinian was strictly pious, and he zealously fasted quite often. The holy Emperor Justinian died in the year 565.
Together with the emperor was enumerated to the ranks of the Saints his like-minded spouse, the Empress Theodora, who died in the year 548. She was at first a notorious sinner, and an adherent to the Monophysite heresy, but then she repented and led a virtuous life, keeping purity of both soul and body.
Sainted Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonika, was born in the year 1296 in Asia Minor. During the time of a Turkish incursion the family fled to Constantinople and found refuge at the court of Andronikos II Paleologos (1282-1328). The father of Saint Gregory became a prominent dignitiary under the emperor, but he soon died, and Andronikos himself took part in the raising and education of the orphaned boy. Endowed with fine abilities and great diligence, Gregory without difficulty mastered all the subjects which then comprised the full course of medieval higher education. The emperor hoped that the youth would devote himself to government work. But Gregory, just barely age 20, withdrew to Holy Mount Athos in the year 1316 (per other sources, 1318) and became a novice in the Batopedeia monastery under the guidance of the monastic-elder, the Monk Nikodemos of Batopedeia (Comm. 11 July), and there he accepted tonsure and began on the path of asceticism. A year later, the holy Evangelist John the Theologian appeared to him in a vision and promised him his spiritual protection. Gregory's mother and sisters likewise became monastics.
After the demise of the monastic-elder Nikodemos, the Monk Gregory spent 8 years of prayerful effort under the guidance of the monastic-elder Nicephoros, and after the death of this latter elder Gregory transferred to the Laura-monastery of the Monk Athanasias. Here he served in the refectory, and then became a church singer. But after three years, striving for a greater degree of spiritual perfection, he re-settled in the small hermit-life monastery of Glossia. The head of this monastery began to teach the youth the manner of concentrated spiritual prayer -- the mental activity, which by degrees gradually was appropriated and cultivated by monastics, beginning with the great wilderness ascetics of the IV Century -- Euagrios (Lat. Evagrius), Pontikos and the Monk Makarios of Egypt (Comm. 19 January). Later on, in the XI Century in the works of Simeon the New Theologian (Comm. 12 March), those praying in outward manner received detailed elucidation on adapting the mental doing, and it was implemented by the Athos ascetics. An experienced useage of mental activity, requiring solitude and quiet, received the name "Hesychiasm" (from the Greek "hesukhia" meaning calm, silence), and those practising it were called "hesychiasts". During the time of his stay at Glossia the future hierarch Gregory became fully embued with the spirit of hesychiasm and adapted it as fundamental to his life. In the year 1326, because of the threat of Turkish invasions, he together with the brethren retreated back to Soluneia (Thessalonika), where he was then ordained to the dignity of priest.
Saint Gregory combined his priestly duties with the life of an hermit: five days of the week he spent in silence and prayer, and only on Saturday and Sunday did the pastor emerge to his people -- he celebrated Divine-services and preached sermons. For those present in church, his teaching often evoked both tenderness and tears. Sometimes he visited theological gatherings of the city's educated youth, headed by the future patriarch, Isidor. Having returned from being a certain while at Constantinople, he found near Soluneia the locale of Bereia, a place suitable for solitary life. Soon he gathered here a small community of hermit-monks and guided it over the course of 5 years. In 1331 the saint withdrew to Athos and lived in solitude at the skete-monastery of Saint Savva, near the Laura-monastery of the Monk Athanasias. In 1333 he was appointed hegumen of the Esthygmena monastery in the northern part of the Holy Mountain. In 1336 the saint returned to the skete-monastery of Saint Savva, where he concerned himself with theological works, continuing on with it until the end of his life.
But amidst all this, in the 1330's culminated events in the life of the Eastern Church which put Saint Gregory amongst the most significant universal apologists of Orthodoxy, and brought him reknown as the teacher of hesychiasm. In about the year 1330 the learned monk Varlaam had arrived in Constantinople from Calabria (in Italy).He was the author of tractates on logic and astronomy, a skilled and sharp-witted orator, and he received an university-chair in the capital city and began to expound on the works of Saint Dionysios the Areopagite (Comm. 3 October), whose "apophatic" ("negative", "via negativa", as contrast to "kataphatic" or "postive") theology was acclaimed in equal measure in both the Eastern and the Western Churches. Soon Varlaam journeyed to Athos, where he became acquainted with the modality of spiritual life of the hesychiasts, and on the basis of the dogma about the incomprehensibility of the essence of God, he declared the mental doing an heretical error. Journeying from Athos to Soluneia (Thessalonika), and from there to Constantinople and later again to Soluneia, Varlaam entered into disputes with the monks and attempted to demonstrate the created creatureliness of the light of Tabor (i.e. at the Transfiguration); in this he reduced to the point of a joke the sayings of the monks about the modes of prayer and about the spiritual light.
Saint Gregory, at the request of the Athonite monks, countered at first with spoken admonitions. But seeing the futility of such efforts, he put in writing his theological argument. Thus appeared the "Triades in Defense of the Holy Hesychiasts" (1338). Towards the year 1340 the Athonite ascetics with the assist of the saint compiled a general reply to the attacks of Varlaam -- the so-called "Svyatogorsk tomos". At the Constantinople Council of 1341 in the church of Saint Sophia there occurred a debate of Saint Gregory Palamas with Varlaam, centering upon the nature of the light on Mount Tabor. On 27 May 1341 the Council accepted the position of Saint Gregory Palamas -- that God, inapproachable in His Essence, reveals Himself in energies, which are directed towards the world and are able to be perceived, like the Tabor light, but which are neither material nor created. The teachings of Varlaam were condemned as heresy, and he himself, anathemised, withdrew to Calabria.
But the dispute between the Palamites and the Varlaamites was far from finished. To these latter belonged a student of Varlaam, the Bulgarian monk Akyndinos, and also the patriarch John XIV Kalekos (1341-1347); to them inclined also the emperor Andronikos III Paleologos (1328-1341). Akyndinos came out with a series of tracts, in which he declared Saint Gregory and the Athonite monks guilty of church disorders. The saint in turn wrote a detailed refutation of Akyndinos' conjectures. The patriarch thereupon excommunicated the saint from the Church (1344) and had him locked up in prison, which lasted for three years. In 1347, when John XIV was succeeded on the patriarchal throne by Isidor (1347-1349), Saint Gregory Palamas was set free and elevated to the dignity of archbishop of Soluneia (Thessalonika). In 1351 the Blakhernae Council solemnly witnessed to the Orthodoxy of his teachings. But the people of Soluneia did not immediately accept Saint Gregory, and he was compelled to live in various places. In one of his travels to Constantinople the Byzantine galley-ship fell into the hands of the Turks. They offered to sell Saint Gregory in various cities as a captive during the course of a year, but he then also incessantly continued to preach the Christian faith.
Only but three years before his death did he return to Soluneia. On the eve of his repose, Saint John Chrysostom appeared to him in a vision. With the words "To Heaven! To Heaven!", -- Saint Gregory Palamas reposed peacefully to God on 14 November 1359. In 1368 he was canonised at a Constantinople Council under Patriarch Philotheos (1354-1355, 1362-1376), who compiled the Life and Services to the saint.
The Holy Martyrs and Confessors Gurias, Samon and Habib: During the time of persecution against Christians under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (305-311), two friends were arrested in the city of Edessa, the Christians Gurias and Samon, preachers of the Word of God. At the demand to offer sacrifice to the gods the saints answered with a decisive refusal and confessed their faith in Christ. For this they were subjected to cruel tortures: they beat them, hung them up by their hands, tied heavy weights to their feet, and cast them into a stifling prison. The martyrs endured everything with firmness and a prayer to the Lord, which one of the witnesses to the martyrs wrote down: "O Lord my God, without Whose will not a single sparrow falleth into the snare. Thou it was, Who wast diffused in the heart of David in sorrow, Who proved the Prophet David stronger than lions, and granted for a child of Abraham to be victor over torture and flames. Now also Thou knowest, O Lord, the infirmity of our nature, Thou beholdest the struggle set afront us. For the enemy striveth to tear away from Thee the work of Thy right-hand and to deprive (us) from the essence of Thine Glory. But do Thou, with Thine compassionate eye watching over us, preserve in us the inextinguishable light of Thy Commandments. By Thine light guide our steps, and grant us to delight in Thine bliss, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages". By night they took the martyrs out beyond the city and beheaded them (+ 299-306). Christians buried their holy bodies.
After some years the last pagan emperor Licinius (311-324) began a persecution against Christians. A deacon of the Edessa Church by the name of Habib, whom the emperor ordered to be arrested for his zealous spreading of the true faith, presented himself before the executioners, since he did not want other Christians to suffer because of the search for him. The saint confessed his faith in Christ and was sentenced to burning. The martyr went willingly into the fire and with prayer gave up his soul to the Lord (+ 322). When the fire went out, the mother and kinsmen of the saint found his body unharmed. They buried the martyr next to Saints Gurias and Samon.
After the death of the saints, numerous miracles were wrought by them for those who with faith and love entreated their help. Thus, one time a certain Gothic-soldier, sent for service at Edessa, took as his spouse the pious maiden Euphymia. Before this he vowed to her mother Sophia at the graves of the Martyrs Gurias, Samon and Habib, -- that he would do his spouse no harm, and would never insult her, but would always love and cherish her. At the completion of his service in Edessa, he took Euphymia with him back to his native land. Afterwards it turned out, that he had deceived her: in his native-land he already had a wife, and Euphymia became her slave. Euphymia had to suffer much abuse and humiliation. When she gave birth to a son, the jealous Goth woman then poisoned him. Euphymia turned with prayer to the holy Martyrs Gurias, Samon and Habib -- witnesses to the oath of the deceiver, and the Lord delivered Euphymia from her suffering and miraculously returned her to Edessa, where she was welcomed by her mother. After a certain while the Gothic oath-breaker was again sent for service to Edessa. All the city learned about his misdeeds after his denunciation by Sophia, and by order of the governor of the city the Goth was executed.
Glorifying the holy martyrs in an akathist, Holy Church addresses them: "Hail, Gurias, Samon and Habib, Heavenly Patrons of honourable marriage".
The Holy Martyrs Elpidias, Marcellus and Evstochius suffered under the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Saint Elpidias was an important dignitary at the imperial court. They tried him on charges of being a Christian, afront the imperial judge. The martyrs endured many terrible torments and they died, thrown into a fire. At the place where Christians buried the remains of the saints occurred a miraculous appearance of Christ with an host of Angels, and the Lord resurrected Elpidias. Then the emperor again gave orders to arrest the holy martyr. During the time of torture, idols standing not afar off crumbled into dust through the prayer of the saint. More than six thousand pagans, having witnessed this miracle, were converted to Christ. Saint Elpidias was burned again.
The Monk Philip of Rabangsk was the founder of the Saviour-Transfiguration monastery, situated near Kadnikov to the northeast of Vologda. He spent the beginning of his monastic life in the monastery of the Monk Dionysii of Glushitsk (Comm. 1 June) and was one of his closest disciples. Upon the death of his teacher and spiritual father, Saint Philip left the Glushitsk monastery and settled in a sparsely populated area at the confluence of the Sukhona and Rabanga Rivers. The saint wanted to lead his life in complete solitude. The local inhabitants learned about him, and wanting his graced guidance to become monks, they began to come to him in the wilderness. Having accepted this as a mandate from above, the Monk Philip journeyed to Rostov to Archbishop Ephrem and asked of the saint a blessing for the founding of a monastery and construction of a church in honour of the Transfiguration of the Lord (the temple was built in 1447). Tradition relates, that the holy founder of the Saviour-Transfiguration monastery was extremely strict towards himself and lenient towards the infirmities of others. The Monk Philip died on 15 November 1457 and was buried in the monastery founded by him.
The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, was also named Levi (Mk. 2: 14; Lk. 5: 27); he was an Apostle from among the Twelve (Mk. 3: 18; Lk. 6: 45; Acts 1: 13), and was brother of the Apostle James Alphaeus (Mk. 2: 14). He was a publican, i.e. a tax-collector for Rome, in a time when the Jews had come under the rule of the Roman empire. He lived in the Galileian city of Capernaum [Capharnum]. Matthew, in hearing the voice of Jesus Christ: "Come, follow Me" (Mt. 9: 9), left off from his duties and followed the Saviour. Christ and His disciples did not refuse the invitation of Matthew and they visited at his house, where they shared table with the friends and acquaintances of the publican -- who like the host were publicans and known sinners. This event extremely bothered the pharisees and scribes ["knizhniki", lit. bookmen or scholars].
Publicans, in collecting taxes from their countrymen, did this with great profit for themselves. Usually greedy and cruel people, the Jews considered them pernicious and betrayers of their country and religion. The word "publican" connoted for the Jews the sense of "public-sinner" and "idol-worshipper". To even speak with a tax-collector was considered a sin, and to associate with one -- was defilement. But the Jewish teachers were not able to comprehend, that the Lord was "come to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Mt. 9: 13).
Matthew, acknowledging his sinfulness, recompensed fourfold anyone he had overcharged, and he distributed his remaining possessions to the poor, and together with the other apostles he followed after Christ. Saint Matthew was attentive to the instructions of the Divine Teacher, he beheld His innumerable miracles, he went together with the 12 apostles preaching to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt. 10: 6), he was a witness to the suffering, death, and Resurrection of the Saviour, and of His glorious Ascension into Heaven.
Having received the gifts of the grace of the Holy Spirit, which descended upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Matthew for the first 8 years preached in Palestine. And before his departure to preach the Gospel in faraway lands, at the request of the Jews remaining at Jerusalem, the holy Apostle Matthew in his Gospel gave account of the earthly life of the Saviour of the world -- of the God-man Jesus Christ and His teaching.
In the order of the books of the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew comes first. Palestine is said to be the place of writing of the Gospel. The Gospel was written by Saint Matthew in the year 42 ([AD -- "Anno Domini" or "Year of the Lord",] i.e. after the Birth of Christ), in his native Jewish language, and then translated into Greek. The Hebrew text has not survived for us, but many of the linguistic and cultural-historical peculiarities of the Greek translation remind of it.
The Apostle Matthew preached among people having quite certain religious expectations about the Messiah. His Gospel manifests itself as a vivid proof that Jesus Christ -- is the real Messiah, foretold of by the prophets, and that another there would not be (Mt. 11: 3). The preachings and deeds of the Saviour are presented by the evangelist in three divisions, constituting three aspects of the service of the Messiah: as Prophet and Law-Giver (Ch. 5-7), Lord over the world both visible and invisible (Ch. 8-25), and finally as High-Priest offered as Sacrifice for the sins of all mankind (Ch. 26-27). The theological content of the Gospel, besides the Christological themes, includes also the teaching about the Kingdom of God and about the Church, which the Lord sets forth in parables about the inner preparation for entering into the Kingdom (Ch. 5-7), about the worthiness of servers of the Church in the world (Ch. 10-11), about the signs of the Kingdom and its growth in the souls of mankind (Ch. 13), about the humility and simplicity of the inheritors of the Kingdom (Mt. 18: 1-35; 19: 13-30; 20: 1-16; 25-27; 23: 1-28), and about the eschatological revelations of the Kingdom in the Second Coming of Christ within the daily spiritual life of the Church (Ch. 24-25). The Kingdom of Heaven and the Church are closely inter-connected in the spiritual experience of Christianity: the Church is the historical embodiment of the Kingdom of Heaven in the world, and the Kingdom of Heaven is the Church of Christ in its eschatological perfection (Mt. 16: 18-19; 28: 18-20).
The holy Apostle made the rounds with the "good-news" [euangelia in Greek or evangelium in Latin -- the meaning of the word "gospel"] to Syria, Media, Persia, Parthia, and finishing his preaching work in AEthiopia with a martyr's death. This land was inhabited by tribes of cannibals with primitive customs and beliefs. The holy Apostle Matthew by his preaching there converted some of the idol-worshippers to faith in Christ. He founded the Church and built a temple in the city of Mirmena, establishing there as bishop his companion by the name of Plato.
When the holy apostle was fervently beseeching God for the conversion of the Ethiopians, during the time of prayer the Lord Himself appeared to him in the form of a youth, and having given him a staff, commanded him to put it upright at the doors of the church. The Lord said, that from this staff would grow a tree and it would bear fruit, and from its roots would flow a stream of water. And in washing themselves in the water and eating of the fruit, the Ethiopians lost their wild ways and became gentle and good.
When the holy apostle carried the staff towards the church, on the pathway there met him the wife and son of the ruler of the land, Fulvian, who were afflicted by unclean spirits. By the Name of Christ the holy apostle healed them. This miracle converted to the Lord quite a number of the pagans. But the ruler did not want that his subjects should become Christians and cease to worship the pagan gods. He accused the apostle of sorcery and gave orders to execute him. They put saint Matthew head downwards, heaped up brushwood and ignited it. When the bonfire flared up, everyone then saw, that the fire did no harm to Saint Matthew. Then Fulvian gave orders to add more wood to the fire, and frenzied with boldness, he commanded to set up around the bonfire 12 idols. But the flames spread to the idols and caught on even Fulvian. The frightened Ethiopian turned to the saint with an entreaty for mercy, and by the prayer of the martyr the flame went out. The body of the holy apostle remained unharmed, and he expired to the Lord (+ 60).
The ruler Fulvian deeply repented his deed, but still he had doubts. By his command, they put the body of Saint Matthew into an iron coffin and threw it into the sea. In doing this Fulvian said, that if the God of Matthew would preserve the body of the apostle in the water, as He preserved him in the fire, then this would be proper reason to worship this One True God.
On that night the Apostle Matthew appeared to Bishop Platon in a dream vision, and commanded him to go with clergy to the shore of the sea and to find his body there. Together with the bishop on his way to the shore of the sea went Righteous Fulvian and his retinue. The coffin carried back by the waves was with honour taken to the church built by the apostle. Then Fulvian begged forgiveness of the holy Apostle Matthew, after which Bishop Platon baptised him, giving him the name Matthew in obedience to a command of God. Soon Saint Fulvian-Matthew abdicated his rule and became a presbyter. Upon the death of Bishop Platon, the Apostle Matthew appeared to him and exhorted him to head the AEthiopian Church. Having become a bishop, Saint Matthew-Fulvian toiled much at preaching the Word of God, continuing with the work of his heavenly patron-saint.
The Monk Sergei of Malopinezh (in the world Simeon), was born in 1493. His father, Markian Stefanovich Nekliud, was descended from Novgorod boyar nobles. Together with other fellow citizens they left their native-place setting off "to the side of the icy sea", when Great Novgorod was finally subjugated to the power of Moscow by Ivan III. There in the northlands, Markian Stefanovich married Apollinaria, a maiden from a rich and nobleborn family. The pious spouses raised up their son Simeon in the fear of God, they gave him a fine education, and inculcated in him the love for "book-learning". Having grown old, Markian and Apollinaria by mutual agreement took monastic vows. Markian (in monasticism Matfei or Matthew) was afterwards hegumen of the Resurrection monastery in the city of Keurola. Apollinaria died a schema-monastic with the name Pelagia.
Simeon at age 30 was ordained presbyter to the churches of the Transfiguration of the Lord and of the GreatMartyr George in the Malopinezh district. The holy presbyter Simeon at age 62 with love finished his pastoral service. With apostolic zeal he laboured over the conversion of the pagan Chud' people. The rare personal qualities of the pastor contributed much to the success of his preaching. As the Chronicle notes, he possessed a kindly soul and pure mind, a courageous heart, humility and quiet strength, love for unhypocritical truth, and was merciful to the poor to the point of self-denial. In the final year of his life, the monk took the schema with the name Sergei and died on 16 November 1585. By the last-will of the saint, they buried him about the altar of the Transfiguration church. Over his grave was built a chapel. The old hand-written manuscript tells about the numerous miracles which occurred at the grave of the saint.
Sainted Gregory Thaumatourgos, Bishop of Neocaesarea, was born in the city of Neocaesarea (northern Asia Minor) into a pagan family. Having received a fine education, from his youth he strived for Truth, but the thinkers of antiquity were not able to quench his thirst for knowledge. Truth was revealed to him only in the Holy Gospel, and the youth became a Christian.
For the continuation of his studies Saint Gregory set off to Alexandria, known then as a centre for pagan and Christian learning. The youth, eager for knowledge, went to the Alexandrian Catechetical School, where the presbyter Origen taught. Origen was a famous teacher, possessing a great strength of mind and profound knowledge. Saint Gregory became a student of the presbyter Origen. Afterwards, the saint wrote thus about his mentor: "This man received from God a sublime gift -- to be an interpreter of the Word of God for people, to apprehend the Word of God, as God Himself did use it, and to explain it to people, insofar as they were able to understand it". Saint Gregory studied for eight years with the presbyter Origen and received Baptism from him.
The ascetic life of Saint Gregory, his continence, purity and lack of covetousness aroused envy among his conceited and sin-loving peers -- pagans that they were, and they decided to slander Saint Gregory. One time, when he was conversing with students on the city-square, a seductress notorious throughout the city came up to him and demanded payment, for alleged sinful services rendered. At first Saint Gregory gently took exception with her, that she was mistaken and assumed that he was someone else. But the profligate woman would not be quieted. He then asked a friend to give her the money. Just as the profligate woman took in hand the unjust recompense, she immediately fell to the ground in a demonic fit, and the fraud became evident. Saint Gregory said a prayer over her, and the devil left her.
Having returned to Neocaesarea, the saint renounced the worldly affairs into which influential townsmen persistently sought to push him. He fled into the wilderness, where by fasting and prayer he attained to high spiritual accomplishment and grace-bearing gifts of perspicacity and prophecy. Saint Gregory loved life in the wilderness and wanted to remain in solitude until the end of his days, but the Lord willed otherwise.
The bishop of the Cappadocian city of Amasea, Thedimos, having learned about the ascetic life of Saint Gregory, decided to have him made bishop of Neocaesarea. But having foreseen in spirit the intent of Vladyka Thedimos, the saint hid himself from the messengers of the bishop who were entrusted to find him. Then Bishop Thedimos ordained the out of sight saint as bishop of Neocaesarea, beseeching the Lord, that He Himself would sanctify the unusual ordination. Sainted Gregory perceived the extraordinary event as a manifestation of the will of God and he did not dare to protest. This episode in the life of Saint Gregory was recorded by Sainted Gregory of Nyssa (Comm. 10 January). He relates, that Saint Gregory of Neocaesarea received the highest priestly dignity only after the performing over him of all the sacerdotal requirements by Bishop Thedimos of Amasea.
Before ordination, when it was necessary for him to pronounce the Confession of the Faith, Saint Gregory prayed fervently and diligently imploring God and the Mother of God to reveal to him the true form of worship of the MostHoly Trinity. At the time of prayer the All-Pure Virgin Mary appeared to him, radiant like unto the sun, and together with Her was the Apostle John the Theologian dressed in archbishopal vestments. At the bidding of the Mother of God, the Apostle John taught the saint how to correctly and properly confess the Mystery of the MostHoly Trinity. Saint Gregory wrote down everything that the Apostle John the Theologian revealed to him. The Mystery of the Symbol-Creed of the Faith, written down by Sainted Gregory of Neocaesarea -- is a great Divine Revelation in the history of the Church. On it is based the teaching about the Holy Trinity in Orthodox Theology. Subsequently it was made use of by the holy Fathers of the Church, -- Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and Gregory of Nyssa. The Credal-Symbol of Saint Gregory of Neocaesarea was later examined and affirmed in the year 325 by the First OEcumenical Council, showing his enduring significance for Orthodoxy.
Having become a bishop, Saint Gregory set off to Neocaesarea. Along the way from Amasea he expelled devils from a pagan-temple, the priest of which he converted to Christ. The convert was witness to still another miracle of the saint, -- through his word a large heap of stone shifted from its place. The preaching of the saint was direct, lively and fruitful. He taught and worked miracles in the Name of Christ: he healed the sick, he helped the needy, he settled quarrels and complaints. Two brothers in sharing an inheritance were not able to agree over a lake property of their dead father. Each of the brothers gathered round himself like-minded friends. They were ready to come to blows. Saint Gregory persuaded them to delay the finish of their dispute until the following day, and he himself prayed all night long at the shore of the lake causing the quarrel. When dawn broke, everyone saw that the cause of the dispute was no more -- the lake had gone underground. Through the intense prayer of the saint there now flowed but a stream, and the course of its flow defining the boundary line. Another time, during the construction of a church, he gave command in the Name of Christ for an hill to move and make room at the place of the foundation.
When a persecution against Christians began under the emperor Decius (249-251), Saint Gregory led his flock to a faraway mountain. A certain pagan, knowing about the place of the Christians, told this to the persecutors. Soldiers surrounded the mountain. The saint went out into an open place, raised up his hands to heaven and, having given orders to his deacon on what to do, he began to pray. The soldiers searched the whole mountain, and they went several times right past those praying, but not seeing them, they gave up and went. In the city they reported that on the mountain there was nowhere to hide: no one was there, and only two trees stood alongside each other. The informer was struck with amazement, he repented his ways and became a fervent Christian.
Saint Gregory returned to Neocaesarea after the end of the persecution. By his blessing church feastdays were established in honour of the martyrs that had suffered for Christ. During these times there began to spread about the false-teachings of the heretic Paul of Samosata (Samosata was a city in Syria). This heretic confused together the Essence of the UnDivided Trinity with the Essence of One God the Father, confounding the minds of many Christians by his talks and writings. The heretic Paul of Samosata was condemned at the first Antioch Council, assembled in the year 264. Saint Gregory occupied a prominent place at this Council.
By his saintly life, his effective preaching, working of miracles and graced guiding of his flock, the saint steadily increased the number of converts to Christ. Before his death (c. 266-270) there remained in the city only 17 pagans. But when Sainted Gregory Thaumatourgos, Bishop of Neocaesaea, first entered onto the cathedra, there were in the city only 17 Christians.
The Monk Nikon, Hegumen of Radonezh, a close student and successor of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh (+ 1392, Comm. 25 September and 5 July), was born at Yur'ev-Pol'sk. Having heard of the angelic life of the Radonezh Wonderworker, the lad came to the Monk Sergei and requested to take vows into the angelic form. The Monk Sergei discerned the purity and prudence of the lad and gave him a testing -- he sent him to his disciple Athanasii the Eminent (+ post 1401, Comm. 12 September). But the Monk Athanasii would not accept him right away. Only after seeing the persistence of the lad did he vow him into the monastic form. The Monk Nikon in living with him worked at prayer, studied Holy Scripture and persevered in virtue and purity. When he reached the age of maturity, he was ordained to the dignity of priest. After a certain while the Monk Athanasii gave him blessing to go see the Monk Sergei. The Monk Sergei, joyfully catching sight of him, said: "It is fine that thou art come, my child Nikon" and happily received him. He gave orders for the Monk Nikon to serve the brethren. The disciple passed whole days at monastic matters, and nights -- in prayerful talks with God. The Monk Sergei was comforted by his life. Having received a special insight concerning him, the Monk Sergei bid his disciple to dwell with him in his own cell, so that he might share in spiritual attainment. He fondly instructed him and explained much about the essence of spiritual life. The Monk Sergei at first assigned the Monk Nikon to the duty of assisting the monastery head, but six months before his repose, when he had committed himself to silence, he appointed the disciple as his successor.
After the death of the Monk Sergei (+ 25 September 1392), he attentively attended to everything that was directed him by the founder of the monastery. He had the habit to make the rounds of all the monastic services, and never did he forsake common tasks, working on a equal footing with all the brethren. But the burden of monastic head weighed down upon the Monk Nikon. Recalling his quiet life in the Serpukhov Visotsk monastery with the Monk Athanasii, and later with the Monk Sergei, he gave up the governance and retired into his own cell. For six years the monastery was guided by the Monk Savva of Storozhevsk (+ 1407, Comm. 3 December). In the year 1400 the Monk Savva founded his own monastery near Zvenigorod, and the brethren entreated the Monk Nikon to again take over the governance. He consented, but assigned himself a certain time each day for silence, so as to stand alone before God.
When reports began to spread about an invasion of the Russian land by khan Edigei (1408), the Monk Nikon zealously prayed to God for the sparing of the monastery. In the nuance of a dream there appeared to him the Moscow Sainted-hierarchs Peter (+ 1326, Comm. 21 December) and Alexei (+ 1378, Comm. 12 February) together with the Monk Sergei and said, that he should not grieve over the destruction of the monastery, since it would not become desolate, but rather grow all the more. The monks left the monastery, taking with them relics and cell-items, and when they returned they saw that their beloved place had been reduced to ashes. But the Monk Nikon did not despair, and the task of the brethren was renewed work. First of all was built a wooden church in the Name of the MostHoly LifeCreating Trinity and it was consecrated in the year 1411 on the day of repose of the Monk Sergei, 25 September. The monastery was restored, and the Monk Nikon undertook construction of a stone church over the grave of his spiritual father, the Monk Sergei. The work-crew digging at the time for the foundations uncovered on 5 July 1422 the undecayed relics of the Monk Sergei. Amidst universal rejoicing they placed the relics in a new reliquary and at the transferred-to new site a wooden church was built (now at this place is the church in honour of the Descent of the Holy Spirit). The Monk Nikon later erected a new stone church in the Name of the glorious God in Trinity, and in memory and praise to his spiritual father, he transferred the holy relics into this newly built church. For the embellishment of the temple the Monk Nikon brought in the finest iconographers, the Monks Saint Andrei (Rublev) and Daniel (Cherny). Then also the Monk Andrei wrote the Icon of the LifeCreating and MostHoly Trinity, embodying in it what was revealed to the Monk Sergei. The Monk Nikon was occupied with the construction of the Trinity church until the end of his life. The place of his future repose together with the Monk Sergei was revealed to him in a vision before his death. He summoned the brethren and gave them directives. Having communed the All-Pure Body of Christ and His Precious Blood, the Monk Nikon gave the brethren a last blessing and said: "Let us go thither, my soul, whence it is prepared for thee to dwell; let us proceed with joy: for Christ doth summon thee". Having made the sign of the cross, the Monk Nikon died on 27 November 1426. He was buried near the reliquary of the Monk Sergei. Under Sainted-hierarch Jona (1448-1461), the priestmonk Pakhomii the Logothete wrote down the service and Life of the Monk Nikon, and in the year 1547 there was established a generally observed celebration to him. In the year 1548 a church in his name was built over the grave of the Monk Nikon, and in 1623 a new one was constructed in its place, in which the relics of the Monk Nikon rest under a crypt. In 1976 at the Trinity-Sergeev Lavra, the 500 year anniversary of the repose of the Monk Nikon was solemnly observed.
The Holy Monk Lazaros the Iconographer lived in Constantinople. He was a priest, led a strict ascetic life and wrote holy icons. Under the Iconoclast emperor Theophilos (829-842), they arrested him and after cruel tortures they threw him in prison. He was saved from an inevitable execution by the intervention of the empress Theodora. The Monk Lazaros died in the year 857 while returning from Rome, where he had been sent in a delegation on church matters to Pope Benedict III (855-858). His remains were taken to Constantinople and buried in the church of Saint Euandros.
The Martyr Gorbones, in Holy Baptism Michael, and with him 133 Soldiers -- were Gruzian (Georgian) Martyrs of the X Century. The Martyr Michael, descended from an illustrious princely line, was distinguished from the time of his youth by his bravery and lack of fear, and for this he was called "Gorbones" (which means in the Arab language "valiant, brave").
In the year 914 the Arab military commander Abdul-Kasim, having laid waste to Armenia, occupied Tbilisi and besieged the fortress of Kvelo, defended by Saint Gorbones and his soldiers. After a 28 day siege, while treacherously breaking a sealed truce, the Arabs burst into the fortress and captured its stoic defenders headed by Gorbones.
The Gruzian emperor Adarnas II (881-923) ransomed many of the captives, but the Arabs would not consent to the ransom of Saint Gorbones. The emir tried to persuade him to accept Islam, promising him freedom and riches, but received a firm refusal. Then before the eyes of Saint Gorbones they murdered 133 of his soldiers, those who likewise had refused to renounce their faith in Christ. Saint Gorbones, having dipped his fingers in the blood of the martyrs, traced a cross on his forehead and, having given thanks to the Lord for the martyr's crown, he calmly and composedly accepted death by beheading on 17 November 914. The author of the work, the "Martyrdom of Michael (Gorbon)" (914-918), the Tbetsk bishop Stephen relates, that the body of Saint Gorbones was buried together with the bodies of his 133 warriors together in a common pit. "Almost every night a marvelous light illumined the grave of the holy martyrs; and a multitude of the sick in approaching the grave of the saints did received healing". The Gruzian Church enumerated the Martyr Gorbones and his Soldiers into the rank of the saints and established their memory on the day of their martyrdom -- 17 November.
The Holy Martyr Platon (Plato), brother of the holy Martyr Antiochos the Physician (Comm. 16 July), was born at the city of Ancyra in Galatia. While still a youth he left home and went through the cities, inspiredly preaching the Word of God to pagans, amazing his audience with the persuasiveness and beauty of his speech, and his profound knowledge of Greek learning. Because of his preaching he was arrested and brought for trial to the temple of Zeus before the governor Agrippina. At first the judge attempted by flattery to sway the saint into a renunciation of Christ. He assured the youth, that he might be on a par of intellect with the greatest of the philosophers Plato, if he but worshipped also the pagan gods. To this Saint Platon answered, that the wisdom of the philosopher, although great, was but ephemeral and limited, whereas the true, eternal and unbounded wisdom comprised the Gospel teachings. Then the judge as the reward for renunciation promised to give him as wife his beautiful daughter, but in case of refusal threatened him with torture and death. Saint Platon replied, that his choice was a temporal death for the sake of eternal life. The patience of the governor was exhausted, and he gave orders to mercilessly beat the martyr, and then send him off to prison.
When they led Saint Platon off to prison, he turned to the people, gathered about the temple, he called on all not to forsake the Christian faith. Seven days later they again led the Martyr Platon for trial before Agrippina in the temple of Zeus, where they had the implements of torture already assembled: boiling cauldrons, red-hot iron and sharp hooks. The judge offered the martyr a choice: to either offer sacrifice to the pagan gods or to feel on himself the effects of these implements of torture. Again the saint steadfastly refused to worship idols, and after his tortures they threw him in prison for 18 more days without bread or water. But seeing that this did not shake the martyr, they offered him in exchange for his life and freedom but to pronounce the words "great god Apollo". "I want not to sin by word", -- answered the martyr. By order of Agrippina the holy Martyr Platon was then beheaded (+ 302 or 306).
The Holy Martyr Romanos was deacon at a church in Palestinian Caesarea. During one of the persecutions against Christians he resettled at Antioch, where he encouraged Christians in the faith by his example and fervent preaching.
When the Antioch governor Asklepiades was considering the destruction of the Christian temple, Saint Romanos called out the believers to stand up for their sanctuary. He persuaded them, that if they managed to protect the church, then down here on earth would be rejoicing, in the Church Militant, and if they were to perish in defense of the church, there would still be rejoicing in the Heavenly Church Triumphant. Seeing such a firm resolve amongst the people, the governor did not dare to carry out his plans.
A certain while afterwards, when a pagan celebration had started in the city and many people from the surroundings had come to Antioch, Saint Romanos began denouncing the idol-worship and called on all to follow Christ. They arrested him and subjected him to torture. During the time of tortures the martyr saw in the crowd the holy Christian Lad Barulas and, having directed the governor to him, said: "The young lad is smarter than thee, in thine old age, since that he doth know the True God. Thou however dost worship mere idols". The governor Asklepiades gave orders to bring the boy to him. To all the questions of the governor, Barulas firmly and without fear confessed is faith in Christ, the True God. Asklepiades in a rage gave orders to fiercely whip the Martyr Barulas, and then behead him. Before his death the holy lad asked his mother, who was present at the execution, to give him something to drink, but the mother quieted him down to endure all the torments for the Lord Jesus Christ. She herself put his head of her son onto the block, and after the execution buried him (+ 303).
The Martyr Romanos was sentenced to burning, but a sudden gust of rain extinguished the fire. The saint began glorifying Christ and insulting the pagan gods. The governor gave orders to cut out his tongue, but even deprived of his tongue Saint Romanos continued loudly to glorify the Lord. Then the torturers sentenced him to hanging (+ 303).
The Holy Martyrs Zaccheios, Deacon of Gadara, and Alpheios, Reader of Caesarea, suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). During the time of the then most fierce persecution against Christians, among many others arrested was Saint Zaccheios, a deacon of the Gadara church, who openly confessed his faith and under torture did not renounce Christ. The Diocletian persecution was so fierce, that many did not endure, and frightened of the tortures, consented to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Saint Alpheios, a reader of the Caesarea church, zealous for the glory of God, approached the crowd of those fallen away from Christ, on their way to offer pagan sacrifice. He urged them not to defile themselves with the impious sacrifices. They arrested Saint Alpheios and after tortures and torments they shackled him together with Saint Zaccheios. They threw the martyrs for the night into prison, where they prayed continually, supporting one another in their resolve to endure all the sufferings for the Name of Christ and thereby gain eternal life. In the morning the holy Martyrs Zaccheios and Alpheios were beheaded (+ 303).
The Holy Prophet Obadiah (or Avdi) was from the 12 Minor Prophets, and he lived during the IX Century B.C. He was a native of the village of Betharam, near Sichem, and he served as house-governor of the impious Israelite king Ahab. In these times the whole of Israel had turned away from the True God and had begun to offer sacrifice to Baal. But Obadiah-Avdi in secret faithfully served the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. When the impious and dissolute Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, set about the exterminating of all the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah-Avdi meanwhile in turn gave them shelter and food (3  Kings 18:3ff). Ahab's successor king Okhoziah (Ahaziah) sent 3 detachments of soldiers to arrest the holy Prophet Elias (Elijah or Ilias, Comm. 20 July). One of these detachments was headed by Saint Obadiah-Avdi. Through the prayer of Saint Elias, two of the detachments were consumed by Heavenly fire, but Saint Obadiah-Avdi and his detachment were spared by the Lord (4  Kings 1). From this moment Saint Obadiah resigned military service and became a follower of the Prophet Elias. Afterwards he himself received the gift of prophecy. The God-inspired work of Saint Obadiah-Avdi -- the Book of Prophecies under his name, is the fourth in order of the Books of the Twelve Minor Prophets in the Bible. It contains predictions about the New Testament Church. The holy Prophet Obadiah-Avdi was buried in Samaria.
The Holy Martyr Varlaam lived in Syrian Antioch. During the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), Saint Varlaam at an advanced age was arrested and brought to trial, where he confessed himself a Christian. The judge, wanting to compel the saint to renounce Christ, gave orders to conduct Saint Varlaam to the pagan altar, pull his right hand over it, and put into the palm of his hand a red-hot censor burning with incense. The torturer reckoned, that a physically weak old man could not hold out and would drop it on the altar, and in such manner would be offering sacrifice to the idol. But the saint held on to the censor, until his fingers were burnt. After this the holy Martyr Varlaam offered up his soul to the Lord (+ 304).
The Monks Varlaam the Wilderness-Dweller, Joasaph the son of the Emperor of India, and his father Avenir: In India, -- once formerly having received the Christian faith through the evangelisation of the holy Apostle Thomas, there ruled the emperor Avenir, an idol-worshipper and fierce persecutor of Christians. For a long time he did not have any children. Finally, a son was born to the emperor, and named Joasaph. At the birth of this son the wisest of the emperor's star-gazers predicted, that the emperor's son would accept the Christian faith which was persecuted by his father. The emperor, wanting to ward off the prediction, commanded that there be built for his son a separate palace and he arranged matters such, that his son should never hear a single word about Christ and His teachings.
Reaching a youthful age, Joasaph asked permission of his father to go out beyond the palace, and he saw existing there such things as suffering, sickness, old age and death. This led him into ponderings over the vanity and absurdity of life, and he began to engage in some serious thinking.
At this time in a far-off wilderness there asceticised a wise hermit, the Monk Varlaam. By a Divine insight he learned about the youth agonising in search of truth. Forsaking his wilderness, the Monk Varlaam in the guise of a merchant set out to India, and having arrived in the city where Joasaph's palace was situated, he declared that he had brought with him a precious stone, endowed with wondrous powers to heal sickness. Being brought in to Joasaph, he began to present him the Christian faith in the form of parables, and then also "from the Holy Gospel and the Holy Epistles". From the instructions of the Monk Varlaam the youth reasoned out, that the precious stone is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he believed in Him and desired to accept holy Baptism. Having made the sign of the cross over the youth, the Monk Varlaam bid him to fast and pray, and he went off into the wilderness.
The emperor, learning that his son was become a Christian, fell into a rage and grief. On the advice of one of his counsellors, the emperor arranged for a debate about faith between the Christians and the pagans, at which under the guise of Varlaam there appeared the Magi magician Nakhor. In the debate Nakhor was supposed to acknowledge himself beaten and in such manner turn the imperial youth away from Christianity. Through a vision in a dream, Saint Joasaph learned about the deception and he threatened Nakhor with a fiercesome execution, if beaten in the debate. Nakhor in terror not only beat the pagans, but he himself came to believe in Christ, and he repented and accepted holy Baptism and went off into the wilderness. The emperor tried to turn his son away from Christianity by other methods also, but the youth conquered all the temptations. Then on the advice of his counsellors, Avenir bestowed on his son half the realm. Saint Joasaph, having become an emperor, restored Christianity in his lands, built anew the churches, and finally, he converted his own father the emperor Avenir to Christianity. Soon after Baptism the emperor Avenir died, and Saint Joasaph abdicated his rule and went off into the wilderness in search of his teacher, the elder Varlaam. Over the course of two years he wandered about through the wilderness, suffering dangers and temptations, until he found the cave of the Monk Varlaam, asceticising in silence. The elder and the youth began to asceticise together. When the end for the Monk Varlaam approached, he served out the Divine Liturgy, partook of the Holy Mysteries and communed Saint Joasaph, and with this he expired to the Lord, having lived in the wilderness 70 of his hundred years. Having buried the elder, Saint Joasaph remained at the cave and continued with the wilderness efforts. He dwelt in the wilderness for 35 years, and expired to the Lord at age sixty.
The successor of Saint Joasaph as emperor, Barachias, with the help of a certain hermit, found in the cave the undecayed and fragrant relics of both ascetics, and he conveyed them back to his fatherland and gave them burial in a church, built by the Monk-Emperor Joasaph.
The Monk Varlaam, Hegumen of Pechersk, lived during the XI Century at Kiev, and was the son of an illustrious boyar-noble. From the time of his youthful years he yearned for the monk's life and he went off to the Monk Antonii of Pechersk (+ 1073, Comm. 10 July), who accepted the pious youth so firmly determined to become a monk, and he bid the Monk Nikon (+ 1088, Comm. 23 March) to make monastic tonsure over him.
The father of the Monk Varlaam tried forcefully to return him home, but finally becoming convinced that his son would never return to the world, he gave up. When the number of monks at the Caves began to increase, the Monk Antonii made the Monk Varlaam hegumen, while he himself resettled to another cave and again began to live in solitude.
The Monk Varlaam became the first hegumen of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. In the year 1058, having besought the blessing of the Monk Antonii, the Monk Varlaam built over the cave a wooden church in honour of the Uspenie-Dormition of the MostHoly Mother of God. Afterwards, the Monk Varlaam became hegumen of the newly-formed monastery in honour of the GreatMartyr Demetrios. The Monk Varlaam twice made pilgrimage to the holy places in Jerusalem and Constantinople. Having returned from his second journey, he died in the Vladimir Holy-Mountain monastery at Volynia in 1065 and was buried, in accord with his final wishes, at the Pechersk monastery in the Nearer Caves. His memory is likewise 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Holy Martyr Aza and with him 150 Soldiers suffered at Isauria, in Asia Minor, under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). For his confession of the Christian faith the saint was arrested and brought to trial before the eparch-governor, Aquilinus. There had been sent 150 soldiers to arrest the saint, but they were converted onto the path of salvation and they accepted holy Baptism with water, that issued forth in a spring through the prayer of Saint Aza. The martyr persuaded them to fulfill the commandment about obedience to authorities, and therefore to bring him before the eparch. The soldiers together with the saint confessed their Christian faith afront Aquilinus, and for this they were all beheaded. And together with them the eparch executed his own wife and daughter, who had come to believe in Christ, seeing the steadfastness of Saint Aza under torture.
The Holy Martyr Heliodoros lived during the reign of the emperor Aurelian (270-275) in the city of Magidum (Pamphylia). The city-governor Aetius subjected the saint to fierce tortures for his faith in Christ and had him beheaded (+ c. 273).
The Monk Ilarion the Wonderworker was born in 816 in Kakhetia (Eastern Gruzia-Georgia). He was descended from a line of Gruzian princes, the Vachnadze (Donauri). In very early childhood he displayed an inclination towards asceticism. At 9 years of age he knew by heart the Gospel, and at 12 years of age he was tonsured into monasticism at a monastery founded by his father. At 16 years of age the youth transferred over to the Davido-Garedzhe wilderness monastery. Here the Monk Ilarion spent 10 years as an hermit. By his unceasing prayer, tears, silence vigil and fasting he became known throughout all Gruzia. But glory-seeking was alien to the monk. Having accepted the dignity of priest, he declined the offer to him of a bishop's-seat in Gruzia at Sagaredzho (in Kakhetia), and he withdrew to the Holy Land, for worship at the Sepulchre of the Lord.
Saint Ilarion spent 17 years in the Jordanian desert, living in a cave of the holy Prophet Elias the Tishbite (Thesvitanin), which once had serve as an habitation also for Saint John the Baptist. Here it was that an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and summoned him to hasten to Gruzia, in order to find his father among the yet-living. Saint Ilarion set off to his native land, where after the death of his father he set up at his parental home a monastery, tonsuring into monasticism both his mother and sister. He remained by this monastery until the death of his mother. Then he gave off half of his inheritance to the Davido-Garezhe monastery, and the other half he distributed amongst impoverished brethren, and then he set off to Constantinople. Having made reverence at the holy places in Tsargrad, Saint Ilarion withdrew to the Mount Olympos in Asia Minor, where in about the year 864 he founded a Gruzian monastery. Here he dwelt for five years. During this period there were reported many healings, worked by the monk through the power of prayer, the sign of the cross and anointing with myrh. Shunning fame, Saint Ilarion set off to Rome to venerate at the graves of the holy First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul. Along the way he visited Constantinople and Thessalonika, and worked several healings (a gardener and a lad, having "withered-up" legs). On his return journey the Monk Ilarion again stopped off at Thessalonika, where he spent three years. A miracle is known of, where a deacon (from the church in name of the GreatMartyr Demetrios of Soluneia/Thessalonika) was taken captive by Skythians but then was freed of his fetters, upon prayerfully calling out to Saint Ilarion for help.
Saint Ilarion knew about his impending death 40 days beforehand, and 3 days before his death he communed the Holy Mysteries, took his leave of the brethren and secluded himself in his cell. He peacefully expired to the Lord on 19 November 875.
His venerable relics were consigned to a stone crypt, and after the passage of 40 days the relics were glorified by healings of those that came in faith. On the orders of the emperor Basil the Macedonian (866-886), the relics of Saint Ilarion were transferred from Thessalonika to Constantinople in the year 882. The emperor intended to situate the relics within the imperial palaces, but Saint Ilarion appeared to him in a dream and directed, that his relics should be placed in the newly-constructed church built in honour of the holy Apostles, near the Thracian Bosphorus. The Gruzian-Georgian Church in the IX Century enumerated the Monk Ilarion to the rank of the Saints and established his memory to be observed under 19 November.
The Monk Gregory Dekapolites was born in the city of Isaurian Dekapolis in the VIII Century. From the time of his childhood he was fond of the temple of God and church services. He read constantly with reverence in the Holy Scripture. In order to avoid the marriage which his parents had intended for him, he secretly left home. He spent all his life wandering: he was in Constantinople, Rome, Corinth, and he pursued asceticism for a certain while on Olympos. The Monk Gregory preached everywhere the Word of God, denouncing the Iconoclast heresy, strengthening the faith and fortitude of the Orthodox, whom the heretics in those times were oppressing, torturing and imprisoning. Through his ascetic effort and prayer, Saint Gregory acquired the graced gifts of prophecy and wonderworking. Having attained to purity of heart, he was granted to hear Angelic singing in praise of the Holy Trinity. To better contend against the Iconoclast heresy, Saint Gregory left the monastery of Saint Minos where he had asceticised for a long while, and he set off again to Constantinople. At the capital, a grievous illness undermined his strength, and he expired to the Lord in the year 816.
Sainted Proklos, Archbishop of Constantinople, from his early years devoted all his time to prayer and the study of Holy Scripture. The Lord granted him the great good fortune to be a student of Saint John Chrysostom (+ 407, Comm. 13 November), who at first ordained him to the dignity of deacon, and then to the dignity of presbyter. Saint Proklos was a witness of the appearance of the Apostle Paul to Saint John Chrysostom. Saint Proklos received from his teacher a profound comprehension of Holy Scripture, and learned in polished form to elucidate thought.
After the exile and death of Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Proklos was ordained by the holy Patriarch of Constantinople Sisinios (426-427) to the dignity of bishop of the city of Kyzikos, but under the influence of Nestorian heretics he was expelled by his flock there. Saint Proklos then returned to the capital and preached the Word of God in the churches of Constantinople, strengthening listeners in the Orthodox faith and denouncing the impiety of the heretics. Upon the death of the Patriarch Saint Sisinios, Saint Proklos was elevated to archbishop. Having thus been made Patriarch of Constantinople, he guided the Church over the course of twelve years (434-447). By the efforts of Saint Proklos, the relics of Saint John Chrysostom were transferred from Comana to Constantinople during the time of the holy emperor Saint Theodosius II (408-450).
During the time of Saint Proklos as patriarch the empire suffered destructive earthquakes, lasting for several months. At Bithynia, in the Hellespont, and in Phrygia cities were devastated, rivers disappeared from the face of the earth, and in previously dry places there occurred terrible flooding. The people of Constantinople together with the patriarch and emperor at the head came out from the city and made moliebens for the ceasing of the calamities, unprecedented in force. During the time of one molieben a boy from the crowd was snatched up into the air by an unseen force and carried off to such an height, that he was no longer to be seen by human sight. Then, whole and unharmed, the lad was lowered upon the ground and he reported, how that up Above he heard and he saw, how the Angels in glorifying God did sing: "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal". All the people began to sing this Trisagion Prayer, -- adding to it the refrain. "Have mercy on us!" -- and the earthquakes stopped. The Orthodox Church sings still this prayer at Divine-services to this very day.
The Constantinople flock esteemed their Patriarch for his ascetic life, for his concern about the downtrodden, and for his preaching. Many works of the saint have survived down to the present day. Best known are his discourses against the Nestorians, two tracts of the Saint in praise of the Mother of God, and four tracts on the Nativity of Christ, -- setting forth the Orthodox teaching about the Incarnation of the Son of God. The activity of the holy Patriarch in establishing decorum in all the church affairs gained him universal esteem. Surrounded by love and respect, Saint Proklos expired to the Lord in his declining years (+ 446-447).
The Monk Diodor of Yur'egorsk (Damian), was born in the village of Turchasovo at the River Onega. His parents -- Jerothei and Maria -- named their son Diomid. As a fifteen year old youth he set out on pilgrimage to the Solovetsk monastery, and then remained there as a novice. And there at age 19 he received monastic tonsure under the hegumen Antonii, he lived with the hermits on desolate islands, and then he settled at Lake Vodla. He spent seven year there with his student Prokhor. Resolving to found a monastery in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity on Mount Yur'ev, the monk set out to Moscow, where he received approval from tsar Mikhail Feodorovich (1613-1645) and also money for the building of the monastery from the mother of the tsar, the nun and eldress Martha. Somewhat before his death the Monk Diodor was obliged on monastery matters to journey to Kargopol'. Taking leave of the brethren, he predicted his impending death. He died and was buried at Kargopol' (+ 27 November 1633). After two years his undecayed body was transferred to the Trinity monastery and buried at the south wall of the cathedral church. The memory of the Monk Diodor is celebrated on 20 November out of deference to the feastday of the Znamenie-Sign Icon of the Mother of God, with which his repose co-incides.
The Holy Martyr Dasios lived during the III Century in the city of Dorostolum on the Dunaj/Danube River. The inhabitants of the city were preparing for a feast in honour of the pagan god Saturn. By custom, 30 days before the feast they selected an handsome youth, dressed him in fine clothing, accorded him royal honours, and on the day of the feast brought him in sacrifice to their god. The choice of his compatriots fell upon Saint Dasios, since in the city there was not a more handsome youth. Having learned of this, the saint said: "If I am fated to die, then better to die for Christ as a Christian". He openly confessed his faith in Christ in front of his fellow citizens. He denounced their impiety and error and converted many of them to Christ. For this, on orders of the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284-305), he was beheaded after cruel tortures.
The Holy Martyrs Eustathios, Thespasios and Anatolios, natives of the city of Gangra, were the children of a rich merchant. They were baptised by bishop Anthymos of Nicomedia. They died as martyrs at Nicea, having suffered quite fierce tortures (+ 312).
The PriestMartyrs Bishop Nirses, and Joseph his disciple, the Bishops of Persia John, Saverios, Isaac and Ipatios, the Martyrs Azates the Eunuch , Sasonios, Thekla, Anna and many other Men and Women suffering in Persia: They were executed during the time of a persecution against Christians under the emperor Sapor II.
Saint Nirses and his disciple Joseph were beheaded; Saint John was stoned. This fate befell also Saints Isaac and Ipatios. Saint Saverios died in prison, and after death they cut off his head. A certain apostate-presbyter strangled the Martyr Azates the Eunuch. The Martyrs Sasonios, Thekla, Anna and many other men and women likewise underwent torture, suffering and death for Christ (+ 343).
The Entry into the Temple of the MostHoly Mother of God happened, according to the preserved accounts of Holy Tradition, in the following manner. The parents of the Virgin Mary, Righteous Joakim and Anna, in praying for a solution to their childlessness, gave a vow that if a child were born to them, they would dedicate it to the service of God.
When the MostHoly Virgin reached three years of age, the holy parents decided to fulfill their vow. Having gathered together their kinsfolk and acquaintances, and having dressed the All-Pure Mary in Her finest clothes, and with the singing of sacred songs and with lighted candles in their hands they carried Her to the Jerusalem Temple. There the high-priest with a throng of priests met the maiden of God. In the Temple, the stairway led up fifteen high steps. The Child Mary, so it seemed, could not Herself make it up this stairway. But just as they placed Her on the first step, strengthened by the power of God, She quickly made it up over the remaining steps and ascended to the highest. Then the high-priest, through an inspiration from above, led the MostHoly Virgin into the Holy of Holies, and herein of all people it was only the high-priest that entered one time a year with a purifying sacrifice of blood. Therefore all those present in the Temple were astonished at this most unusual occurrence.
Righteous Joakim and Anna, having entrusted their Child to the will of the Heavenly Father, returned home. The MostBlessed Mary remained in the domicile for girls, situated near the Temple. Round about the Temple, through the testimony of Holy Scripture (Exodus 38; 1 Kings 1: 28; Lk. 2: 37), and also the historian Josephus Flavius, there were many living quarters, in which dwelt those dedicated to the service of God.
The earthly life of the MostHoly Mother of God from the time of Her infancy to the time of Her ascent to Heaven is shrouded in deep mystery. Her life at the Jerusalem Temple was also a secret. "If anyone were to ask me, -- said Blessed Jerome, -- how the MostHoly Virgin spent the time of Her youth, -- I would answer: that is known to God Himself and the Archangel Gabriel, Her constant guardian".
But in the Church tradition there were preserved accounts, that during the time of the stay of the All-Pure Virgin at the Jerusalem Temple, She grew up in a community of pious virgins, read diligently the Holy Scripture, occupied Herself with handcrafts, prayed constantly and grew in love for God. In remembrance of the Entry of the MostHoly Mother of God into the Jerusalem Temple, Holy Church from ancient times established a solemn feastday. The decretals for the making of the feast in the first centuries of Christianity are found in the traditions of Palestinian Christians, where mention is made that the holy Empress Helen built a church in honour of the Entry into the Temple of the MostHoly Mother of God.
In the IV Century there is mention of this feast by Sainted Gregory of Nyssa. In the VIII Century Saints Germanos and Tarasios, Constantinople Patriarchs, delivered sermons on the feastday of the Entry.
The feast of the Entry into the Temple of the MostHoly Mother of God -- foretells the blessing of God for the human race, the preaching of salvation, the promise of the coming of Christ.
The Holy Disciple Philemon and his spouse Apphia lived in the city of Colossa in Phrygia. Upon receiving Baptism from the holy Apostle Paul, they converted their house into an house of prayer, where all the Colossian believers in Christ gathered together and made Divine services. They devoted themselves to the service of the sick and downcast. The Disciple Philemon was made bishop of the city of Gaza and he preached the Word of God throughout all Phrygia. The holy Apostle Paul did not cease being his guide, and directed to him his Epistle filled with love, and in which he sends blessings "to Philemon our friend and co-worker, and Apphia our beloved sister, and Archippos our co-striver, and their household the church" (Phil. 1: 1-3). Onysimos, about whom it speaks in the Epistle, -- a Disciple from among the Seventy -- was a former servant of Philemon. During the persecution of Nero (54-68) Saints Philemon and Apphia, and likewise the holy Disciple Archippos (who also lived at Colossa), all received the crown of martyrdom. During the time of a pagan feast an enraged crowd rushed into the Christian church when Divine-services were being made. All fled in terror, and only Saints Philemon, Archippos and Apphia remained. They seized hold of them and led them off to the city governor. The crowd like beasts beat up and stabbed at Saint Archippos with knives, and on the way to the court he died. Saints Philemon and Apphia were stoned to death by order of the governor.
The memory of the holy Disciples Philemon and Archippos and Equal-to-the-Apostles Apphia is celebrated also on 19 February.
Holy Nobleborn Prince Michael of Tver was born in the year 1272, already after the death of his father Greatprince Yaroslav Yaroslavich, -- a brother by birth of holy Nobleborn Prince Alexander Nevsky (Comm. 23 November). On the journey to the Horde prince Yaroslav had fallen ill, and having taken monastic vows with the name Athanasii (Afanasii), he died. Michael's mother, Xenia (Ksenia), raised her son in fervent love towards God. Michael was educated and studied under the guidance of the Novgorod archbishop (probably Kliment). He took the place of his older brother Svyatoslav in the Tver principality. In 1285 he built a stone church in honour of the Saviour's Transfiguration in place of the wooden church of Saints Cosmas and Damian. Upon the death of Greatprince Andrei Alexandrovich (+ 1305), Michael -- through right of seniority, received at the Horde the yarlyk-grant to the greatprincely throne. But the Moscow prince Yurii Danilovich would not submit to this, since he sought the greatprincely rule for himself. He was often at the Golden Horde of the new khan Uzbek, who had accepted Mahometanism and was distinguished by his cruelty and fanaticism. Prince Yurii knew how to please the khan, and he married his sister Konchaka and became greatprince. And even with this he did not quiet down, but instead began an internecine war with Tver. In the army of Yurii was also a detachment of Tatars sent by Uzbek, with Kavgadi at the head. But the men of Tver, with holy Prince Michael at the head, on 22 December 1317 defeated Yurii in a route. Many captives were taken, in which number were Kavgadi -- whom Saint Michael released, and the Moscow prince's wife Konchaka, who unexpectedly died at Tver. Prince Yurii slandered Saint Michael afront the khan, accusing him of poisoning Konchaka. The khan became enraged, threatening to destroy the princely votchina-holding of Saint Michael, and demanded that he appear to render an answering. Not wishing to spill Russian blood in an unequal struggle with the khan, Saint Michael humbly set out to the Horde, realising that this meant death for him. He took his farewell from his family and from the Tver people, and received blessing for his exploit of martyrdom from his spiritual father hegumen John. "Father, -- said the saint, -- I was much concerned about the peace of Christians, but through my sins, I was not able to stop internecine war. Now give me blessing, if it should hold having my blood spilled for them, that they might have some respite, and that for me the Lord forgive my sins".
At the Horde an unjust trial was held over the saint, which pronounced him guilty in disobedience to the khan and sentenced him to death. They removed him under guard and put him in an heavy wooden stock. As was his habit, in prison Saint Michael constantly read the Psalter and blessed the Lord for granting him to suffer. He asked not to be abandoned in his present torments. Since the hands of the holy sufferer were secured in the stock, a boy sat before him and turned the pages of the Psalter. The holy prince-captive long languished at the Horde, enduring beatings and ridicule. They suggested that he flee, but the saint bravely answered: "In all my life I never fled an enemy, and if in saving myself my people remained in peril, what glory is it to me? No, let it be as the Lord doth will". Through the mercy of God, he was not deprived of Christian solace: Orthodox priests attended to him, -- the hegumens Aleksandr and Mark, and he each week made confession and communed the Holy Mysteries of Christ, receiving before his death a Christian preparation. At the instigation of prince Yurii and Kavgadi, who took revenge on the holy prince for their defeat, assassins rushed into the encampment where the captive was held. They fiercely beat the martyr and kicked at him with their feet, after which one of them stabbed Saint Michael with a knife (+ 1318).
The stripped body of the holy martyr was exposed for abuse, and later they covered him with a cloth and placed him on a large board, attached to a cart. By night two guards were set to watch the body, but fear seized them and they fled. In the morning his body was not on the board. On the previous night many, not only Orthodox by also Tatars, had seen how two radiant clouds did shine over the place where lay the body of the martyr, and although many wild animals roamed the steppes, not one of them had touched him. In the morning everyone said: "Prince Michael is a saint, and innocently murdered". From the Horde the body of the prince was transferred to Moscow, where they buried him in the church of the Saviour-Wood in the Kremlin. It was only a year later in 1319 that at Tver they learned about the fate of their prince. At the wish of his spouse, Princess Anna (Comm. 2 October), and at the request of the Tver people, the relics of Saint Michael of Tver were transferred to his native city and on 6 September 1320 were placed in the church built by him in honour of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Local festal celebration of the holy nobleborn prince began soon after the transfer of his relics to Tver, and at a 1549 Sobor (Council) there took place the general Church glorification of the saint. On 24 November 1632 the undecayed relics of Saint Michael were uncovered. The holy prince has often rendered graced help to the Russian land. In 1606 the Polish and Lithuanians besieging Tver saw repeatedly, how from the city there rode out a wondrous horseman upon a white horse with sword in hand, turning them to flight. Later viewing an icon of holy nobleborn Prince Michael, they affirmed with an oath to the Tver archbishop Theoktist, that the horseman was indeed Saint Michael himself.
Holy Nobleborn Prince Yaropolk Izyaslavich, in Holy Baptism Peter, was the grandson of Yaroslav the Wise, and great-grandson of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir. He shared the sad fate of his father, the Kievan Greatprince Izyaslav, expelled by his brothers from Kiev. Yaropolk journeyed on various missions for his father to the Polish king, the German emperor, and the Roman Bishop Saint Gregory VII (1073-1085). Upon the death of Greatprince Svyatoslav in 1078, prince Izyaslav was restored to the greatprincely throne, and Yaropolk received Vyzhgorod. After the death of his father there was given him the appanage-holding the city of Vladimir-Volynsk, from whence the Rostislavichi attempted to displace him. On the way from Vladimir to Zvenigorod-Galitsk, Yaropolk was treacherously murdered by Neryadets, one of his retainers (+ 1086). The murderer indeed had been bribed by the Rostislavichi. The body of Yaropolk was transferred to Kiev and on 5 December was buried in the church of Saint Peter, which he himself had begun to build. Many Church memorials, beginning with the Chronicle of the Monk Nestor, testify, that the murdered nobleborn prince Yaropolk be venerated in the rank of Saints well-pleasing to God.
The Holy Martyress Cecelia (Cesilia) and the Holy Martyrs Valerian, Tiburtius and Maximus: The holy Martyress Cecelia was a Roman of rich and noted lineage. From her youth she was raised in the Christian faith and she prayed fervently, she helped those in need, and beneathe her fine clothing she wore an hairshirt. Her parents decided to give her in marriage to the illustrious pagan Valerian. The saint did not dare oppose the will of her parents, but with tears she prayed to God, that her betrothed would believe in Christ, and that she would preserve her virginity. The saint persuaded her fiance to go with her to bishop Urban, hiding away from the persecution in a cave along the Appian Way. The instructions of the wise elder permeated the soul of Valerian, and both he and his brother Tiburtius believed in Christ and were converted to Christianity. The brothers distributed part of their inheritance to the poor, cared for the sick, and buried Christians tortured to death by the persecutors.
The governor Ammachus, having learned of this, gave orders to arrest the brothers and bring them to trial. He demanded that the saints renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. The brothers refused. Then they mercilessly began to scourge the brothers. Saint Valerian under torture urged Christians not to be afraid of torments, but rather stand firm for Christ.
The governor, wanting to prevent the holy preacher from influencing the people, gave orders to take the martyrs beyond the city limits and there execute them. The detachment of soldiers accompanying the martyrs to execution was commanded by Maximus. He was amazed at the courage of the saints. He asked them why they did not fear death. The holy brothers answered, that they were relinquishing temporal life for life eternal. Maximus wanted to learn in detail the teaching of Christians. He took Saints Valerian and Tiburtius to his own house and all night engaged them in conversation. Having learned of this, Saint Cecelia went with a priest to Maximus, and he with all his family accepted holy Baptism.
On the following day when they beheaded the Martyrs Valerian and Tiburtius, Saint Maximus confessed before everyone that he saw how their holy souls had gone up to Heaven. For this confession the holy Martyr Maximus was scourged to death with whips (+ 230).
The governor wanted to confiscate the property of the executed, but having learned that Saint Cecelia had already distributed all her remaining wealth to the poor and by her preaching had converted 400 men, he gave orders to execute her. For three days they tormented her with fire and smoke in a red-hot bath-house, but the grace of God succoured her. Then they decided to behead her. The executioner struck the saint with a sword, but only wounded her. The holy martyress suffered yet three more days in full consciousness, encouraging in the faith those around her, and died with prayer on her lips.
The Holy Martyr Prokopios was a reader in the Jerusalem Church. He led a strict ascetic life, for which he acquired from the Lord the gift to cast out demons. The zealous preacher of the Word of God was arrested and brought to trial in Palestinian Caesarea. For his refusal to offer sacrifice to idols, he was beheaded.
The Holy Martyr Menignos was a simple artisan, occupied in the making of linen. The Lord granted him His especial mercy. Twice in his life he heard a voice from Heaven, calling on him to suffer for Christ. During the time of the persecution of Christians under the emperor Decius (249-251) there occurred a miracle: an Angel led Christians out of prison. Having learned of this, Saint Menignos rejoiced and loved the Saviour with all his heart. Calling to mind the Heavenly summons to suffer for Christ, he therewith destroyed the decree of the impious Decius which hung in the city square, and which ordered the persecution of Christians. The saint declared himself a follower of Christ. For this he was arrested and after fierce tortures he was beheaded (+ 250). From the mouth of the martyr flew out a snow-white dove.
The Monk Hagabba was by birth an Ishmaelite (Arab) and pursued asceticism in Syria. He was a novice under the Monk Eusebios, from whom he learned inner prayer and silence, and he lived 38 years as an hermit. The saint always went barefoot, wore chains on his loins and never sat nor lay down. The Monk Hagabba spent both day and night standing or kneeling, constantly at prayer. His ascetic life finished with a peaceful end.
Holy Michael the Warrior, among the first Christians of Bulgaria, lived in the city of Potok during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Michael III P'yanos ("the Fat") (855-867). He was descended from an old Bulgarian line. While still an infant they had called him a "saintly child". From his youth he led an immaculate life, possessed the fear of God, fasted, generously distributed alms to the poor and visited the sick, and was meek and humble. At 24 years of age Saint Michael was made head of a troop of soldiers. The Turks were warring against Christians. Saint Michael inspired all his troop by his bravery in battle. When the allies of the Bulgarians, the Greeks, fled from the field of battle, he fell to the earth and prayed with tears for the saving of Christians. Then he led his own soldiers against the enemy. Rushing at the centre of the enemy formation, he put it into disarray and himself remained unharmed.
Returning homewards after the war, he rescued the inhabitants of a certain city in the Raipha wilderness from an huge snake, which emerged from a lake and attacked children. Having returned home, Saint Michael some days later gave up his spirit to the Lord, Whom he had loved since his youth. He wrought many miracles after death, granting healing to those recoursing to him with reverence.
The transfer of the relics of the saint from Potok to Tyrnovo occurred in the year 1206, and at the beginning of the XIX they were transferred to Valakhia.
Sainted Kallistos II, known under the name Kallistos Xanthopoulos, pursued asceticism at the Xanthopulos monastery on Holy Mount Athos (apparently, in the monastery of the Pantokrator). In 1397 he was elevated to the patriarchal throne and was hierarch during the days of Manuel Paleologos (1391-1425). Resigning the guidance of the Constantinople Church, he withdrew into solitude. Together with his fellow ascetic Ignatios of Xanthopulos he compiled the Hundred Chapters located in the second part of the Slavonic edition of the "Dobrotoliubie" ("Philokalia"). As asserted by their contemporary, Sainted Simeon of Soluneia-Thessalonika, Saints Kallistos and Ignatios of Xanthopulos witnessed the Divine Radiance, as had the apostles on Mount Tabor. Their faces seemed "shining like the sun".
Sainted Amphylokhios, Bishop of Iconeia, was born in Caesarea Cappadocia, a city having given the world among the greatest fathers and teachers of the Orthodox Church. He was a first cousin to Saint Gregory the Theologian, and a close friend of Saint Basil the Great. He was their student, follower and of like-mind with them. Saint Amphylokhios toiled hard on the field of Christ. Up until the time when the Lord summoned him for hierarchical service, he lived in the wilderness as a strict ascetic for about forty years. In the year 372 the bishop of Iconeia died. Angels of the Lord thrice appeared in visions to Saint Amphylokhios, summoning him to go to Iconeia for hierarchical service. The truthfulness of these visions was proven by that the Angel, appearing to him the third time, sang together with the saint the Angelic song: "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord Sabaoth". The heavenly messenger led the saint to the nearest church, where an assembly of Angels consecrated Amphylokhios bishop.
The saint, on the way back to his cell, encountered seven bishops who were seeking after him through the command of God, so as to establish him as archpastor of Iconeia.
Sainted Amphylokhios told them, that he was already consecrated by the Angels.
For many years Sainted Amphylokhios tended the Iconeia flock entrusted to him by the Lord. The prayer of the righteous one was so intense, that he was able to implore of the Lord healing of spiritual and bodily infirmities of his flock. The wise archpastor, gifted as writer and preacher, unceasingly taught piety to his flock. A strict Orthodox theologian, the saint relentlessly confronted the Arian and Eunomian heresies. He participated in the events of the Second OEcumenical Council (381), and he headed the struggle against the heresy of Macedonios. Letters and tracts of Saint Amphylokhios are preserved, in which the completed form is combined with a profoundly dogmatic and apologetic content. The holy Bishop Amphylokhios of Iconeia peacefully expired to the Lord in the year 394.
Sainted Gregory, Bishop of Acragantum, was born on the island of Sicily, in the village of Pretorium, not far from the city of Acragantum, of the pious parents Chariton and Theodotia. The infant Gregory was baptised by the bishop of Acragantum, Pataimonus. At ten years of age the lad, ardent in study, mastered writing and was able to read, and to sing church-song. At 12 years of age Saint Gregory was entrusted to the clergy, and he was put under the spiritual guidance of the archdeacon Donatus. Saint Gregory spent the next 10 years in the Acragantum church. Then however an Angel of the Lord appeared to the holy youth, who had a fervent desire to visit Jerusalem, and said that God had blessed his intention.
At Jerusalem Saint Gregory was presented to Patriarch Makarios (563-574), who retained the pious youth for service in his own cathedral church, ordaining him deacon. The soul of Saint Gregory thirsted for monastic striving, and the Patriarch gave his blessing, letting him go to a monastery on the Mount of Olives. After a year Saint Gregory departed this monastery for a wilderness-elder, who over the course of four years taught him spiritual wisdom, humility and the principles of monastic life. The ascetic, foreseeing in Saint Gregory a future great luminary of the Church, gave him blessing to forsake the solitary life.
Having left the elder, Saint Gregory dwelt for a certain time at Jerusalem, and then set off to Constantinople, where he was received with love by the brethren of the monastery of the holy Martyrs Sergios and Bakkhos. The ascetic efforts of the Monk Gregory, his spiritual experience and theological knowledge brought him to the attention of the Patriarch of Constantinople Eutykhios (552-565), at the insistence of whom the saint participated in the acts of the Fifth OEcumenical Council (553). At the completion of the Council Saint Gregory set off for Rome, so as to make veneration there at the graves of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul.
During this while the bishop of Acragantum died. The elder clergy and illustrious citizens of Acragantum journeyed to Rome with a request for the Pope to determine a successor for their cathedra-chair from among a list of candidates they were presenting. The Pope however declined their proposal through an inspiration from above, and instead summoned Saint Gregory to serve them as bishop.
For a few years Saint Gregory peacefully guided the flock entrusted to him by God. He was a defender of the down-trodden, a wise preacher, and miraculous-healer. And in the dignity of archbishop Saint Gregory led the life of an ascetic monk, fervently observing monastic vows. The flock loved their hierarch and trusted in him. But there were also malicious people, who had resolved to slander him. These vicious people in secret, while Saint Gregory was in church, led a bribed harlot into his chambers, and then in front of the crowd which accompanied the vladyka (bishop) after Divine-services to the doors of his house, they then led her out and accused Saint Gregory of the deadly sin of fornication. They put the holy bishop there under guard. The people attempted to defend their vladyka, but were unsuccessful. At the trial the harlot gave false testimony against Saint Gregory. And just as she pronounced the words of slander, she went into a fit of frenzied raging. The judges accused the saint of sorcery. Saint Gregory was sent for judgement to the Roman bishop together with a report about his "crimes". The Pope, having read through the report of charges, did not want to see the accused and gave orders to remand him in prison. The saint endured his humiliation humbly, dwelling in constant prayer. His prayerful effort and wonderworking gift quickly became known through the city and the surrounding region. Pious Romans began to gather at the prison, whom the imprisoned saint taught about the righteous life, and for the sick he implored of the Lord their healing.
After two years there came to the Pope a perspicacious elder by the name of Mark, who had known Saint Gregory since youth. The elder did not believe the report of charges and he persuaded the Pope to convene a Council to decide the matter of Gregory. At the invitation of the Pope, many clergy from the city of Acragantum came to the Council, together with all those making accusation against the saint, including the harlot. From Constantinople to Rome came three bishops and the imperial dignitary Marcian. Along the way Marcian had fallen grievously ill. At the advice of many a person who had received healing through the prayers of Saint Gregory, servants carried the dying man to the prison, where the wonderworking saint languished. Through the prayers of Saint Gregory the Lord granted healing to Marcian.
At the Council the slanderers attempted to uphold their accusations, and as their chief proof they presented to the judge the deranged harlot, declaring that Gregory had bewitched her. But the saint in making prayer over her cast out the devil. The woman came to her senses and told the Council the whole truth. The slanderers were brought to shame and judged. Marcian even wanted to execute them, but Saint Gregory implored forgiveness for them.
Saint Gregory returned in honour to his own cathedral, and surrounded by the love of his flock, he guided the Church until his own peaceful end.
The Holy NobleBorn Prince Alexander Nevsky was born on 30 May 1220 in the city of Pereslavl'-Zalessk. His father Yaroslav, in Baptism Feodor (+1246), "a prince gentle, kindly and genial", was the younger son of Vsevolod III Large-Nest (Bol'shoe Gnezdo) (+ 1212), brother of the Holy NobleBorn Prince Yuri Vsevolodovich (+ 1238, Comm. 4 February). The mother of Saint Alexander, Feodosia Igorevna, a Riazan princess, was the third spouse of Yaroslav. Their older son was the Holy NobleBorn Prince Feodor (+ 1233, Comm. 5 June), having expired to the Lord at age 15. Saint Alexander was their second son.
His childhood was spent at Pereslavl'-Zalessk, where his father was prince. The princely tonsure of the lad Alexander (a ceremony of initiation to be soldier) was done in the Saviour Transfiguration Cathedral of Pereslavl' by Sainted Simon, Bishop of Suzdal' (+ 1226, Comm. 10 May), one of the compilers of the Kievo-Pechersk Paterikon (Lives of the Fathers). From the blessing of the starets/elder hierarch Saint Alexander received his first blessing for military service in the Name of God, for defense of the Russian Church and the Russian Land.
In 1227 Prince Yaroslav, at the request of the people of Novgorod, was sent by his brother the GreatPrince of Vladimir Yuri, to rule as prince in Novgorod the Great. He took with him his sons, Saints Feodor and Alexander. Dissatisfied with the Vladimir princes, the people of Novgorod soon invited Saint Michael of Chernigov (+ 1246, Comm. 20 September), and in February 1229 Yaroslav with his sons departed to Pereslavl'. The matter ended peacefully: in 1230 Yaroslav with his sons returned to Novgorod, and the daughter of Saint Michael, Feodosia, was betrothed with Saint Feodor, the elder brother of Saint Alexander. After the death of the bridegroom in 1233 the young princess went to a monastery and became famous in monastic exploits as the Sainted Nun Evphrosinia of Suzdal' (+ 1250, Comm. 25 September).
From his early years Saint Alexander went along on the campaigns of his father. In 1235 he participated in a battle at the River Emajogi (in present-day Estonia), where the forces of Yaroslav totally routed the Germans. In the following year 1236 Yaroslav went to Kiev, "settling" his son, Saint Alexander, to rule independently as prince at Novgorod. In 1239 Saint Alexander entered into marriage, taking as wife the daughter of the Polotskian prince Briacheslav. Some histories relate, that in the Holy Baptism of the princess it was on the name-day of her saintly-spouse and that she was named Alexandra. His father, Yaroslav, blessed them at betrothal with the holy wonderworking icon of the Theodorovsk Mother of God (in Baptism they had named the father Theodore, or Feodor). This icon was thereafter constantly before Saint Alexander as his praying image; and afterwards in memory of him it was taken from the Gorodetsk Monastery, where he died, by his brother Vasilii Yaroslavich of Kostroma (+ 1276), and transferred to Kostroma.
A very troublesome time had begun in Russian history: from the East there came the Mongol Horde destroying everything in their path; from the West enroached the Teutonic Knights military-force, blasphemously having named itself, with the blessing of the Roman pope, "Cross-bearers", by wearing the Cross of the Lord. In this terrible hour the Providence of God raised up for the salvation of Rus' holy Prince Alexander -- a great warrior man-of-prayer, ascetic and upholder of the Land of Russia. -- "Without the command of God there would not have been his prince". Abetted by the invasion of Batu, by the ruin of Russian cities, by the dismay and grief of the nation, by the destruction of its finest sons and leaders, an horde of crusaders made incursions into the borders of the Fatherland. First were the Swedes. "A king of Roman faith from the Midnight land", of Sweden, in 1240 gathered up a great armed force and sent them to the Neva on many ships under the command of his son-in-law, Yarl (ie. Prince) Birger. The haughty Swede made a dispatch of his messengers to Novgorod to Saint Alexander: "If thou wishest, resist -- for I am already here and I take captive thy land".
Saint Alexander, then not yet 20 years old, prayed a long while in the church of Saint Sophia, the Wisdom of God. And having recalled the Psalm of David, he said: "Judge, O Lord, those oppressing me and hinder those fighting with me, trample down the weapon and shield, rise up in help for me". ArchBishop Spiridon blessed the holy prince and his army for the battle. Leaving from the church, Saint Alexander exhorted his troops with effective words of faith: "Not in power is God, but in truth. Some -- with a weapon, some -- on horses, but we in the Name of the Lord Our God do summon you! They have hesitated and set fire, we however are bravely risen!" With a not-large force, trusting in the Holy Trinity, the prince hastened towards the enemy -- to await help from his father, not knowing about whether would be an attack of the enemy, nor whether it was the time.
But there was a miraculous omen: standing on sea guard the warrior Pelgui, in Holy Baptism Philip, saw at dawn on 15 July a boat, and on it were the Holy Martyrs Boris and Gleb, in royal-purple attire. And said Boris: "brother Gleb, guide the oar, let us help our kinsman Alexander". When Pelgui reported about the vision to the approaching prince, Saint Alexander commanded that no one through piety should speak about the miracle, and he emboldened, valiantly urged on the army against the Swedes with a prayer. "And there was a great slaughter with the Latins, and it killed their innumerable multitude, and for their very leader it left a mark upon the face by a sharp spear". An Angel of God invisibly helped the Orthodox army: when morning came, on the opposite bank of the River Izhora, whither the army of Saint Alexander was not able to proceed, were a multitude of the killed enemy. For this victory at the River Neva, won on 15 July 1240, the nation named the saint, Alexander Nevsky.
The Teutonic Knights remained a dangerous enemy. In a lightning-quick campaign in 1241 Saint Alexander recaptured the ancient Russian fortress of Kopor'e, expelling the knights. But in 1242 the Germans succeeded capturing Pskov. The enemy boasted of "subjecting all the Slavic nation". Saint Alexander, having set forth in a winter campaign, liberated Pskov, that ancient Home of the Holy Trinity, and in spring of the year 1242 gave the Teutonic Order a decisive battle. On the ice of Lake Chud both armies clashed on 5 April 1242. Raising his hands towards the heavens, Saint Alexander prayed: "Judge me, O God, and judge my strife with a boastful nation and grant help to me, O God, as to Moses of old against Amalek, and to my great-grandfather Yaroslav the Wise against accursed Svyatopolk". By his prayer, by the help of God and by the military exploit the crusaders were completely destroyed. There was terrible slaughter, such a crashing resounded of striking spears and swords that it seemed, as though the frozen lake were in motion and not visibly ice, since it was covered by blood. Having turned to flee, the enemy was pursued and hewn at by the army of Alexander, -- "as though they speeded through the air, and nowhere was there for the enemy to flee". Afterwards they led a multitude of captives behind the holy prince, marching in disgrace.
Contemporaries clearly understood the universal historical significance of the Great Battle of the Ice: they celebrated the name of Saint Alexander through all of Holy Rus', "through all the lands, from the AEgyptian Sea to Mount Ararat, from both sides of the Varangian Sea to Great Rome".
The western boundaries of the Russian Land were safely secured, and it became time to guard Rus' from the East. In 1242 Saint Alexander Nevsky together with his father, Yaroslav, journeyed to the Horde. Metropolitan Kirill blessed them for this new service of many hardships: it was necessary to change the Tatars from enemies and plunderers into honourable allies, and there was necessary "the meekness of an angel and the wisdom of a snake".
The Lord crowned with success the holy mission of the defenders of the Russian Land, but this required years of hardship and sacrifice. Prince Yaroslav passed from this life. Having made an alliance with Khan Batu, he was required, however, to travel to faraway Mongolia, to the capital of all the nomadic empire. The situation of Batu himself being precarious, he sought out the support of the Russian princes, wishing to separate with his own Golden Horde from faraway Mongolia. And there in turn, they trusted neither Batu nor the Russians. Prince Yaroslav was poisoned. He died in agony, having but by 10 days outlived the Holy Martyr Michael of Chernigov, with whom once he was nearly a relative. Bequeathed by his father an alliance with the Golden Horde -- of necessity then for the averting of a new devastation of Rus' -- Saint Alexander Nevsky continued to hold secure. The son of Batu, Sartak, having accepted Christianity, was in charge of Russian affairs with the Horde, and became his friend and like a brother. Vowing his support, Saint Alexander gave Batu the possibility to enter into a campaign against Mongolia, to become the chief power in all the Great Steppes, and on the throne in Mongolia to raise up the tatar-Christian leader, Khan Munke (the majority of his tatar-Christians confessed Nestorianism).
Not all the Russian princes possessed the perspicacity of Saint Alexander Nevsky. Many in the struggle against the Mongol Yoke hoped for European help. Saint Michael of Chernigov, Prince Daniel of Galich, and Andrei the brother of Saint Alexander, conducted negotiations with the Roman pope. But Saint Alexander well knew the fate of Constantinople, seized and devastated in the year 1204 by crusaders. And his own personal experience taught him not to trust the West. Daniel of Galich for his alliance with the pope, giving him nothing in return, patched together a betrayal to Orthodoxy -- an unia with Rome. Saint Alexander did not wish this to be for his native Church. When ambassadors of the Roman pope appeared in 1248 to seduce him also, he wrote in answer about the faithfulness of Russians to the Church of Christ and to the belief of the Seven OEcumenical Councils: "These we know quite well, and from you we do not accept teaching". Catholicism was unsuitable for the Russian Church, and an unia signified a rejection of Orthodoxy, a rejection of the source of spiritual life, a rejection of the predestined-by-God historical future, and the dooming of itself to spiritual death. In the year 1252 many a Russian city rose up against the Tatar Yoke, supporting Andrei Yaroslavich. The situation was very risky. Again there arose a threat to the very existence of Russia. Saint Alexander had to again journey to the Horde, in order to avert from the Russian lands a punitive Tatar incursion. Defeated, Andrei fled to the Swedes to seek the help of those very robbers whom his great brother had crushed with the help of God at the Neva. Saint Alexander became the monarchic Great Prince of All Rus': Vladimir, Kiev and Novgorod. A great responsibility before God and history lay upon his shoulders. In 1253 he repelled a new German incursion against Pskov; in 1254 he made a treaty about peace borders with Norway; in 1256 he went on a campaign to the Finnish land. The chronicler called it "the dark campaign" -- the Russian army went along through the polar night, "going non-passable places, like to see neither day nor night". Into the darkness of paganism Saint Alexander brought the light of Gospel preaching and Orthodox culture. All the coast region was enlightened and opened up by the Russians.
In 1256 Khan Batu died, and soon also was poisoned his son Sartak -- the one like-a-brother to Alexander Nevsky. The holy prince journeyed a third time to Sarai, in order to confirm peaceful relations of Rus' and the Horde with the new Khan, Berke. Although the successor to Batu had accepted Islam, he was in need of the alliance with Orthodox Rus'. In 1261, by the diligent efforts of Saint Alexander and Metropolitan Kirill, there was established a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church at Sarai, the capital of the Golden Horde.
There ensued an epoch of great Christianisation of the pagan East, and in this was prophetically the speculation by Saint Alexander Nevsky of the historical vocation of Rus'. The holy prince used any possibility for the uplifting of his native land and the easing of its allotted cross. In 1262 by his decree in many of the cities were stopped the tatar collectors of tribute and the conscription of soldiers -- the "baskak"-officials. They waited for a Tatar reprisal. But the great intercessor of the nation again journeyed to the Horde and he wisely directed the event into quite another channel: having been dismissed for the uprising of the Russians, Khan Berke ceased to send tribute to Mongolia and proclaimed the Golden Horde an independent entity, making it a very shield for Russia from the East. In this great uniting of the Russian and Tatar lands and peoples was matured and strengthened the future multi-national Russian State, containing later on within the bounds of the Russian Church almost all the legacy of Ghenghis Khan to the coasts of the Pacific Ocean.
This diplomatic journey of Saint Alexander Nevsky to Sarai was his fourth and last. The future of Rus' was rescued, his duty before God was fulfilled. But his power was wholly devoted, and his life put to the service of the Russian Church. On the return journey from the Horde Saint Alexander fell deathly ill. Not having reached Vladimir, at Gorodets at a monastery the prince-ascetic gave up his spirit to the Lord on 14 November 1263, having finished his much-difficult earthly path with the accepting of the monastic-schema with the name of Alexei.
Metropoltian Kirill, the spiritual father and companion in the service of the holy prince, said in the funeral eulogy: "Know, my child, that already the sun has set for the Suzdal' land. There will not be a greater such prince in the Russian land". They took his holy body to Vladimir, the journey lasted nine days, and the body remained undecayed. On 23 November, before his burial at the Nativity Monastery in Vladimir, there was manifest by God "a wondrous miracle and worthy of memory". When the body of Saint Alexander was placed in the crypt, the steward Sebastian and Metropolitan Kirill wanted to get his hand, in order to put in it the final-journey spiritual gramota/document. The holy prince, as though alive, reached out his hand and took the gramota from the hand of the metropolitan. "And it accounted for their terror, and they barely stumbled from his tomb. Who would not be astonished at this, since he was dead and the body brought from far away in the winter time". Thus did God glorify the Saint -- Soldier-Prince Alexander Nevsky. The universal Church glorification of Saint Alexander Nevsky was performed under Metropolitan Makarii at the Moscow Cathedral in 1547. The canon to the saint was compiled then by the Vladimir monk Michael.
Sainted Mitrophan, Bishop of Voronezh, in the world Mikhail (Michael), was born 8 November 1623. In the synodikon (memorial-list) belonging to the saint, the list begins especially with persons of priestly dignity, and this gives a basis to suggest, that he was born into priestly lineage. From the Spiritual last-testimony of Sainted Mitrophan is known, that he "was born of pious parents and was raised by them in the incorrupt piety of the Eastern Church, in the Orthodox faith". Until age 40 the saint lived in the world: he was married, had a son Ioann and served as a parish priest. The place of pastoral activity of the priest Mikhail was the village of Sidorov, situated at the River Molokhta, a tributary of the Teza flowing to the Klyaz'ma, not far from the city of Shui (now Vladimir district).
Having lost his spouse, priest Mikhail took monastic vows with the name Mitrophan in the Zolotnikovsk wilderness in 1663. In the synodikon of the monastery the origin of Saint Mitrophan that begins with the words: "Origin of black clergy Mitrophan is of Sidorovsk". After three years of monastic life the priest-monk Mitrophan was chosen hegumen of the Yakroma Kosma monastery [cf. 14 October]. He guided the monastery for 10 years, shewing himself zealous as its head. By his efforts here they raised up a church in honour of the All-Merciful Saviour Not-Made-by-Hand Image.
Patriarch Joakim (1674-1690), learning about the deep piety of Saint Mitrophan, raised him in 1675 to the dignity of archimandrite of the then known Makarievo-Unzhensk monastery. Under the supervision of the saint, a church was built there in honour of the Annunciation (Blagoveschenie) of the MostHoly Mother of God, together with a refectory and bell-tower. At the Moscow Sobor (Council) of 1681-1682 among the number of measures taken for the struggle against the old-ritualist schism, and with the goal in mind of improvement of Christian enlightenment among the Orthodox populace, it was resolved to increase the number of dioceses and to open up new cathedrals at: Voronezh, Tambov, Kholmogor and Great-Ustiug. Saint Mitrophan was summoned to the capital and on 2 April 1682 was ordained bishop of Voronezh by Patriarch Joakim and sixteen archpastors.
The beginning of bishop's service of Sainted Mitrophan co-incided with a terrible time of troubles for Rus' and a Church schism. Upon his arrival at Voronezh the saint first of all sent out to the pastors of his diocese a circular missive, in which he urged his pastors to moral improvement. "Venerable priests of God Most-High! -- wrote the saint, -- Lead the flock of Christ! Ye ought to possess bright mental eyes, enlightened by the light of reasoning, in order to lead others to the correct path. In the words of the Lord, ye ought to be yourselves the light: "ye art the light of the world" (Mt. 5: 14)... Christ the Saviour, entrusting the flock to His apostle, thrice said to him: pastor, as though inspiring him that the image of pastorate is threefold: the word of teaching, prayer in benefit of the Holy Mysteries, and the example of life. Act ye also by all three methods: give example by a good life, teach your people and pray for them, strengthening them by the Holy Mysteries; above all enlighten the unbelieving by holy Baptism, and lead sinners to repentance. Be attentive to the sick, so that their lives be not deprived of the communing of the Holy Mysteries and the anointing with holy oil".
Saint Mitrophan began his arch-pastoral activity with the building of a new cathedral church in honour of the Annunciation of the MostHoly Mother of God, replacing an old wooden temple. In 1692 the cathedral with chapels in honour of the Archistrategos Michael and Saint Nicholas was consecrated. In the 20 years that Sainted Mitrophan was bishop, the number of churches increased from 182 to 239, and two monasteries were founded: the Korotoyaksk Ascension (Voznesenie) and the Bitiugsk Trinity monasteries. And within the existing monasteries, he concerned himself about eradicating the unseeming and disorders, emphasising strict life according to monastic rule.
The first Voronezh bishop eagerly concerned himself about the needs of his flock. He consoled both the poor and the wealthy, was a defender of widows and orphans, and an advocate of the wronged. His home served as an hostel for strangers and an hospice for the sick. The saint prayed not only for the living, but also for dead Christians, and particularly for soldiers fallen for the Fatherland, inscribing their names in the memorial list of the synodikon. Remembering them at Proskomedia [priest's preparation of the gifts preceeding Liturgy], Sainted Mitrophan said: "If a righteous soul, then be there a greater portion of worthiness; if however be a sinner, then be there a communion with the mercy of God".
There existed a great friendship of Sainted Mitrophan with Sainted Pitirim, Bishop of Tambov (Comm. 28 July). They not only kept up correspondence, but also met for spiritual talk. The history of the founding near Tambov of the Tregulyaev John the Precursor monastery was connected with the friendship of the bishops. On 15 September 1688 Saint Mitrophan visited with Saint Pitirim. Three of them together (with them was the priest Vasilii) took a stroll, to a place of solitary prayers of the Tambov archpastor, and there they chose the place for the future monastery.
Saint Mitrophan, a man intensely patriotic, by his own moral authority, kind-heartedness and prayers contributed to the reforms of Peter I, the necessity and purpose of which he well understood. With the building of a fleet at Voronezh for a campaign against Azov, Saint Mitrophan urged the nation to fully support Peter I. This was particularly important, since many regarded the construction of a fleet as an useless affair. The saint did not limit himself only to advice to the tsar, but rendered also material support to the state treasury, which needed the money for the construction of the fleet, and he provided all the means, aware that they would go for the welfare of the nation.
The patriotic feelings of the saint were combined in his soul with unflinching faith and strict Orthodox conviction, on account of which he did not fear incurring the tsar's wrath. Thus, the saint refused to go to court to Peter I, since there stood there statues of pagan gods, and although for disobedience to the imperial will disgrace threatened the saint, he remained uncompromising. Peter gave orders to remove the statues and from that time was imbued with greater respect for the bishop. Sainted Mitrophan died in 1703 in extreme old age, taking before death the schema with the name Makarii. The funeral was done 4 December. Tsar Peter I himself carried the coffin from the cathedral to the tomb. Taking leave, he said: "There remains for me no greater such holy elder. Memory eternal be to him". One of the remarkable memorials of the life and activity of Saint Mitrophan is his Spiritual Testament. In it he says: "By Divine destiny I have arrived at old age and now I have exhausted my natural strength. Wherefore I have adjudged this my final writing... When my sinful soul is released from its union with the flesh, I entrust it to the bosom of the Wisdom of God having created it, that it might find favour as the work of His hands, and the sinful bones I grant to the mother of all, in expectation thence of the resurrection of the dead". Further on, addressing pastors and the flocks, the saint says: "The simple sinner giveth answer to God for only his soul alone, but priests can come to torment for many, in neglecting the sheep, from which they do gather milk and wool... For everyone such the rule of wise men is: do work, preserve a balance -- ye will be rich; drink temperately, eat little -- ye will be healthy; do good, shun evil -- ye wilt be saved". The commemoration of Sainted Mitrophan was established in 1832.
The Holy Martyr Sisinias, Bishop of Kyzika, suffered for Christ during the reign of Diocletian (284-305) under the governor of Kyzika, Alexander. After many and terrible torments the martyr was beheaded.
The Holy Martyr Theodore of Antioch, a fifteen year old lad, was condemned to fierce torments for confessing Christ by the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). The executioners were dismayed that the saint could rejoice at the time of tortures, and cease to feel the pain. They reported about this miracle to the emperor, and he gave orders to release the saint. The Martyr Theodore afterwards related, that when they were tormenting him, an Angel appeared and relieved the suffering, and after the torture the Angel left, and the saint began to feel the pain. The holy Martyr Theodore lived to old age and peacefully expired to the Lord.
The Holy GreatMartyr Mercurius (Mercury), a Skyth by descent, served as a soldier in the Roman army. The impious emperors Decius (249-251) and Valerian (253-259) issued a law, ordering all Roman citizens to worship the pagan gods and condemning Christians to death.
During these times barbarians attacked the Roman empire, and the emperor Decius went on campaign with a large army. In one of the battles an Angel of the Lord appeared to Mercurius and presented him a sword with the words: "Fear not. Go forth bravely against the enemy. And when thou art victorious, forget not the Lord thy God". With this sword the holy warrior broke through the ranks of the barbarian horde; he destroyed an hoste of the enemy and killed the leader of the barbarians, winning victory for the Romans. The grateful emperor rewarded Saint Mercurius for his bravery, and made him a military commander.
The Angel of the Lord appeared again to the holy warrior, who had received great honours and riches, and reminded him by Whom the victory had been given, and bidding him to serve the Lord. Saint Mercurius recalled that his father Gordian had also confessed the Christian faith; -- he himself had been baptised and with all his soul he yearned for Christ. He refused to participate in the solemn offering of sacrifice to the pagan gods and was summoned before the dread emperor. Openly declaring himself a Christian, Mercurius threw down at the feet of the emperor his soldier's belt and mantle and he repudiated all the honours. The Angel of the Lord again appeared to Saint Mercurius in the prison, encouraging him and inspiring him to bravely endure all the suffering for Christ.
They stretched the holy martyr over fire; they cut at him with knives, and lashed at him so much, that the blood from his wounds extinguished the fire. But each time, when they threw him back into the prison nearly dying from his wounds, Saint Mercurius received complete healing from the Lord, manifesting before the impious the great power of faith in Christ. Condemned to a sentence of death, the saint was deemed worthy of a vision of the Lord Himself, promising him a quick release from his sufferings. The GreatMartyr Mercurius was beheaded at Caesarea Cappadocia. His holy body exuded fragrant myrh and incense, bestowing healing on many of the sick.
Even after his death the warrior of Christ, united unto the Heavenly Church, served a soldier's service for the good of the earthly Church. Through the prayer of Sainted Basil the Great (Comm. 1 January) in front of an icon of the MostHoly Mother of God for deliverance of Christians under persecution of the Christian faith by the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363), the Mediatrix for Christians dispatched the holy Warrior Mercurius in assist from the Church Triumphant unto the Church Militant. The image of the holy GreatMartyr Mercurius, depicted on the icon alongside the image of the MostHoly Mother of God, became invisible. It reappeared again later with a bloodied spear.
At this very moment Julian the Apostate on his Persian campaign was pierced by the spear of an unknown assailant, who disappeared immediately. The mortally wounded Julian, as he lay dying, cried out: "Thou hast conquered, Galileian!"
The Holy GreatMartyress Catherine was the daughter of the governor of Alexandrian Egypt Constus during the reign of the emperor Maximian (305-313). Living in the capital -- the centre of Hellenistic knowledge, and possessed of an uncommon beauty and intellect, Catherine received a most splendid of educations, having studied the works of the finest philosophers and teachers of antiquity. Young men from the most worthy families of the empire sought the hand of the beautiful Catherine, but none of them was chosen. She declared to her parents that she would be agreeable to enter into marriage only with someone who surpassed her in illustriousness, wealth, comeliness and wisdom.
Catherine's mother, a secret Christian, sent her for advice to her own spiritual father -- a saintly elder pursuing prayerful deeds in solitude in a cave not far from the city. Having listened to Catherine, the elder said that he knew of a Youth, who surpassed her in everything, such that "His beauty was more radiant than the shining of the sun, His wisdom governed all creation, His riches were spread throughout all the world -- this however did not diminish but rather added to the inexpressible loftiness of His lineage". The image of the Heavenly Bridegroom produced in the soul of the holy maiden an ardent desire to see Him. Truth, to which her soul yearned, revealed it to her. In parting, the elder handed Catherine an icon of the Mother of God with the God-Child Jesus on Her arm and bid her to pray with faith to the Queen of Heaven -- the Mother of the Heavenly Bridegroom -- for the bestowing of the vision of Her Son.
Catherine prayed all night and was given to see the MostHoly Virgin, Who sent Her Divine Son to look upon the kneeling of Catherine before Them. But the Child turned His face away from her saying, that He was not able to look at her because she was ugly, of shabby lineage, beggarly and mindless like every person -- not washed with the waters of holy Baptism and not sealed with the seal of the Holy Spirit. Catherine returned again to the elder deeply saddened. He lovingly received her, instructed her in the faith of Christ, admonished her to preserve her purity and integrity and to pray unceasingly; he then performed over her the mystery / sacrament of holy Baptism. And again Saint Catherine had a vision of the MostHoly Mother of God with Her Child. Now the Lord looked tenderly at her and gave her a ring -- a wondrous gift of the Heavenly Bridegroom.
At this time the emperor Maximian was himself in Alexandria for a pagan feastday. Because of this, the feast was especially splendid and crowded. The cries of the sacrificial animals, the smoke and the smell of the sacrifices, the endless blazing of fires, and the bustling crowds at the arenas filled Alexandria. Human victims also were brought -- because they consigned to death in the fire the confessors in Christ, those not recanting from Him under torture. The Saint's love for the Christian martyrs and her fervent desire to lighten their fate impelled Catherine to go to the pagan head-priest and ruler of the empire, the emperor-persecutor Maximian.
Introducing herself, the saint confessed her faith in the One True God and with wisdom denounced the errors of the pagans. The beauty of the maiden captivated the emperor. In order to convince her and show the superiourity of pagan wisdom, the emperor gave orders to gather 50 of the most learned men (rhetoricians) of the empire, but the Saint got the better of the wise men, such that they themselves came to believe in Christ. Saint Catherine shielded the martyrs with the sign of the cross, and they bravely accepted death for Christ and were burnt by order of the emperor.
Maximian, no longer hoping to convince the saint, tried to entice her with the promise of riches and fame. Having received an angry refusal, the emperor gave orders to subject the saint to terrible tortures and then throw her in prison. The Empress Augusta, who had heard much about the saint, wanted to see her. Having prevailed upon the military-commander Porphyry to accompany her with a detachment of soldiers, Augusta went to the prison. The empress was impressed by the strong spirit of Saint Catherine, whose face glowed with Divine grace. The holy martyress explained the Christian teaching to the newly-arrived, and they in believing were converted to Christ.
On the following day they again brought the martyress to the judgement court where, under the threat of being broken on the wheel, they urged that she recant from the Christian faith and offer sacrifice to the gods. The saint steadfastly confessed Christ and she herself approached the wheels; but an Angel smashed the instruments of execution, which broke up into pieces with many pagans passing nearby. Having beheld this wonder, the empress Augusta and the imperial courtier Porphyry with 200 soldiers confessed their faith in Christ in front of everyone, and they were beheaded. Maximian again tried to entice the holy martyress, proposing marriage to her, and again he received a refusal. Saint Catherine firmly confessed her fidelity to the Heavenly Bridegroom -- Christ, and with a prayer to Him she herself put her head on the block under the sword of the executioner. The relics of Saint Catherine were taken by the Angels to Mount Sinai. In the VI Century, through a revelation, the venerable head and left hand of the holy martyress were found and transferred with honour to a newly-constructed church of the Sinai monastery, built by the holy emperor Justinian (527-565; Comm. 14 November).
The Holy Martyr Merkurii of Smolensk was a Slav by birth, probably from Moravia, the descendant of a princely line. Brought up in Orthodoxy, Saint Merkurii in zeal for the true faith set off from his own native land to Rus', where he served in the army of the Smolensk prince. The saintly soldier secretly led an ascetic life -- he was strict in fasting, chaste, spending his nights at prayer, and spiritually preparing himself to suffer for faith in Christ. In the year 1239 an horde of Tatars (Mongols), having already laid waste to many a Russian city, appeared in the vicinity of Smolensk and set up camp 25 versts from it at Dolgomost', threatening with ruin the city and its holy places. A church-warden, praying by night in the Smolensk cathedral in front of a wonderworking image of the Mother of God, heard the voice of the Queen of Heaven, commanding him to find the holy warrior and say to him: "Merkurii, go forth into military foray, as the Sovereign Lady doth summon thee". The soldier himself came into the cathedral and heard the voice of the All-Pure Virgin, sending him to fight the enemy and promising him Heavenly help.
The warrior of Christ set off that very night to the Tatar camp at Dolgomost'. He fought there with the leader of the Tatar army -- a giant possessed of immense strength. He killed him and entered into single-combat with the enemy host. Invoking the Name of the Lord and of the All-Pure Mother of God, the holy warrior destroyed many of the enemy. The Tatar warriors watch with terror as lightning-bearing men and a radiant Woman aided Saint Merkurii in the fight, and unable to stand up against the warrior of Christ, they retreated in flight. Saint Merkurii in the battle was himself killed by the son of the Tatar giant killed by him.
The inhabitants of Smolensk, saved through the miraculous intervention of the Lord and the MostHoly Mother of God, reverently buried the body of the soldier-martyr in the cathedral of the Dormition of the MostHoly Mother of God. Soon after his death, Saint Merkurii appeared in a vision to the church-warden and ordered that his armour be hung over the grave, promising the Smolensk people constant help and intervention in every sorrow and struggle. Even now at present in the Smolensk cathedral church are still preserved the sandals of the holy Martyr Merkurii. The festal celebration to him was established at the end of the XVI Century, and already in 1509 the inhabitants of Smolensk were calling him their especial patron.
The Monk Merkurii of Kievo-Pechersk pursued asceticism in the Farther Caves in the XIV Century, and was strict at fasting. During his lifetime the Monk Merkurii had a deep spiritual friendship with the Monk Paisii, and at death they were buried in the same grave. The 24 November memory of the monk is made because of his name in common with the holy GreatMartyr Mercurius. Also on 28 August -- together with the Sobor (Assemblage) of the Farther Cave; and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent -- with the Sobor of all the monastic fathers of Kievo-Pechersk.
The Nun Mastridia lived in Egyptian Alexandria. She gave a vow of virginity and, keeping the fasts and silence, she dwelt in unceasing prayer. The pure life of the holy virgin was beset by trials. A certain young man, attracted to her with impure desire, began to pursue her such that she could not go from her home even for church. Grieving over the fact that she had unwillingly led the youth into temptation, and being zealous for his salvation, the saint invited him into her home. Knowing that it was her pretty eyes especially that attracted him, the nun with complete selflessness put them out with a linen weaving instrument. Having saved herself and the youth from temptation, Saint Mastridia brought him to repentance. He accepted monasticism and lived as a strict ascetic, and Saint Mastridia finished her life in works for the Lord.
The Monk Simon of Soiginsk belonged to the Komel'sk branch of students of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh. He was born at Sol'vychegodsk, and took monastic vows under the Monk Kornilii (Comm. 19 May) at the Komel'sk monastery. He passed through his obediences amidst such ascetics and disciples of Kornilii of Komel'sk as -- Gennadii of Liubimsk (Comm. 23 January), Kirill of Novoezersk (Comm. 4 February), Irodion of Iloezersk (Comm. 28 September), Adrian of Poshekhonsk (Comm. 5 March), Lavrentii of Komel'sk (Comm. 16 May). After the death of his preceptor the Monk Kornilii, the Monk Simon for a certain while was companion of the Monk Longin (Comm. 10 February) -- the founder of the Koryazhemsk monastery, and went off together with him into wilderness-life. After this he settled at the River Soiga, 60 versts from Koryazhma. There he established a church in honour of the Transfiguration of the Lord, consecrated on 17 May 1541. Having founded a monastery by this church, the monk was chosen hegumen by the brethren. The Monk Simon died on 24 November 1562 and was buried in the monastery founded by him in a church named for the holy GreatMartyr Catherine, whose memory likewise is observed on 24 November.
The PriestMartyr Clement, Pope of Rome, was born at Rome into a rich and illustrious family. Since childhood separated from his parents by force of circumstances, Clement was raised by strangers. Living at Rome, the youth received a fine education, he was surrounded by luxury, and had access to the imperial court. But the comforts brought him no delight, and the pagan wisdom failed to attract him. He began to think about the meaning of life. When the news about Christ and His teaching began to reach the capital, Saint Clement left his home and estate and set out to those lands, where the Apostles were preaching. At Alexandria Saint Clement encountered the holy Disciple Barnabas, hearkening to his words with deep attention, and with all his heart perceiving the power and truth of the Word of God. Arriving in Palestine, Saint Clement accepted Baptism from the holy Apostle Peter and became his zealous student and constant companion, sharing with him his toil and sufferings. The holy Apostle Peter shortly before his own sufferings and death ordained Saint Clement to become a bishop of the city of Rome. After the death of the Apostle Peter, there followed next as Bishop of Rome Saint Linus (67-79), succeeded by Saint Anacletus (79-91), and then upon the Roman cathethra-see came next Saint Clement (92-101).
The virtuous life, charitable works and prayerful activity of holy Pope Clement converted many to Christ. Thus, on the day of Pascha once he baptised 424 people. And among the baptised were people of all social classes: slaves, officials, members of he imperial family.
The pagans, seeing the success of his apostolic preaching, made denunciations against Saint Clement to the emperor Trajan (98-117), accusing the saint of insulting the pagan gods. The emperor banished Saint Clement from the capital, sending him off to the faraway Crimea, for work at the Inkerman stone quarry not far from the city of Kherson. Many of the disciples of the saint followed after him, voluntarily preferring exile rather than separation from their spiritual father. Having arrived at the place of exile, Saint Clement found there many Christian believers, sentenced to toil under harsh conditions, and amidst a scarcity of water. He prayed together with the condemned, and the Lord in the image of the Lamb revealed to him the place of a spring of water, from which gushed forth a veritable river of water. This miracle attracted to Saint Clement a multitude of people. Hearing the zealous preacher, hundreds of pagans were converted to Christ. Each day 500 or more men were baptised. And there, in the stone quarry, was made a church, in which he served as priest.
The apostolic activity of the saint aroused the wrath of the emperor Trajan, and he gave orders to drown Saint Clement. They threw the martyr into the sea with an anchor about his neck. This occurred in the year 101.
Through the prayers of the saint's faithful disciples, Cornelius and Fibius together with all the people, the sea receded, and the people found a not-wrought-by-hand temple ("Angelic Church") the undecayed body of their pastor. After this, yearly on the day of the martyr's death of Saint Clement the sea fell back and in its wake for seven days Christians were able to venerate his holy relics. Only in the IX Century during the reign of the Constantinople emperor Nicephoros (802-811), by Divine sufferance, the relics of Saint Clement for 50 years became inaccessible for veneration. During the time of the emperor Michael and his mother Theodora (855-867), Kherson was visited by holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Cyril and Methodius. Having learned about the concealed relics of Saint Clement, they induced the Kherson bishop George to make a collective service of prayer to the Lord for the revealing of the relics of the priestmartyr. After the service of prayer of Saints Cyril and Methodius and the clergy having come with them from Tsargrad and the fervent prayer of everyone gathered, on the surface of the sea at midnight there miraculously appeared the holy relics of Saint Clement. These they solemnly conveyed to the church of the Holy Apostles [at Constantinople]. A portion of the relics were then transported by Saints Cyril and Methodius to Rome, but a large portion of the relics was later brought to Kiev by the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir (+ 1015) and placed in the Desyatin-Tithe church, together with the relics of Saint Fibius, where a chapel in the name of Saint Clement had been constructed. The memory of the PriestMartyr Clement [in Russian Kliment] is sacredly venerated in Russia. From ancient times many a church has been dedicated to him.
Saint Clement, who belongs to the Apostolic Fathers, has left to us a spiritual legacy -- two epistles to the Corinthians -- the first such written memorials of Christian teaching after the writings of the holy Apostles. They have been published in Russian translation [and of course also in English]. [trans. note: The significance of the small group of the generation of the Apostolic Fathers, which includes Saint Clement Pope of Rome, is in this: they learned the teaching of Christ directly from the Holy Apostles, who in turn learned directly whilst sitting at the feet of our Lord. The mark of the "Apostolicity of the Church" refers not only to the unbroken chain of priestly ordination stretching back to Christ Himself, but also to our fidelity in the Holy Spirit to the Holy Tradition of the Church stretching back directly through the Apostles to our Lord Jesus Christ, -- wherein our faith truly is one with "the Church of Christ and His Holy Apostles"].
The Holy PriestMartyr Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria, was born and raised at Alexandria. He was a man highly educated, and occupied the position of head of the Alexandria school. In the year 300 he entered upon the guiding of the Alexandria Church, succeeding his teacher and spiritual guide, Blessed Bishop Theonas. Banished from the city during the time of the persecutions against Christians under the emperors Diocletian and Maximian, Saint Peter, being awhile in many imperial districts, again returned to his native city, in order to personally head the Alexandrian Church in this dangerous period. The saint secretly visited the Christians locked up in prison, encouraging steadfastness of faith in them, assisting the widows and orphans, preaching the Word of God, constantly praying and making Divine-services. And the Lord kept him safe out of the hands of the persecutors. During this time of unrest to further unsettle the Church of Church there arose the impious teaching of the heretic Arius, who denied the Divinity of Jesus Christ. Saint Peter came out against him, he condemned the heretic and excommunicated him from the Church. And even then, when Arius through the students of Saint Peter besought the saint to lift the excommunication from him, asserting that he had repented and given up on his false teachings, Saint Peter, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, saw through the falsity and deceit of the renunciation of Arius, and so he instructed his flock not to believe Arius nor to accept him into churchly communion.
Under the wise nurturing of Saint Peter the Alexandria Church strengthened and grew, in spite of the persecutions. But finally, on orders from the emperor Maximian (305-311), the saint as arrested and sentenced to death. A multitude of people gathered at the entrance of the prison, expressing their outrage. Wanting to avoid bloodshed and a riot by the people, the saint sent a message to the authorities, in which he offered to cooperate with them in knocking down a back wall of the prison, so that he might be taken away secretly from the people, to execution. In the dark of the night Saint Peter went forward to the executioners, who took him beyond the city walls and beheaded him at the selfsame spot, where formerly the holy Disciple Mark had been executed, and there was heard a Voice from the heavens, heard by a certain pious virgin that night, exclaiming: "Peter -- first of the Apostles, Peter -- last of the Alexandrian Martyrs". This occurred in the year 311. In the morning, having learned of the death of their bishop, a throng of people gathered at the place of execution, they took up the body and head of the martyr went off to the church, putting on him his bishop's vestments, they put him in the altar at the high place during the time of the funeral service. During his life Saint Peter sat only beneathe it, since in the words of the saint, he beheld a Divine light, encircling the high place, and dared not through humility to enter it.
Saint Peter, a great champion of Orthodoxy, is known also as a profound theologian. Passages from his book, "On the Divinity (of Jesus Christ)", were taken into account at the Ephesus and Chalcedon Councils. From his works the most widely known and highly esteemed by the Church are the "Penitential Canons".
The Monk Alypios the Pillar-Dweller was born in the city of Adrianopolis in Paphlagonia. His mother, a Christian, early on became a widow, and she gave over her son for education to bishop Theodore, while she herself, having distributed her substance to the poor, began to asceticise nearby the church and was deigned worthy of the vocation of deaconess.
Saint Alypios from the time of his early years wanted to devote his life to God and yearned for the solitary life, although bishop Theodore would not give him permission to do so. One time, when Saint Alypios was accompanying his Vladyka to Constantinople, the holy Martyress Euthymia appeared to him in a vision, summoning Saint Alypios to return to Adrianopolis and found a church in her name. On the means offered by believers in Adrianopolis, Saint Alypios did build a church in the name of the holy Martyress Euthymia, on the spot of a dilapidated pagan temple, infested by legions of devils. Alongside the church, and under the open sky, atop a pagan tomb the saint erected a pillar. For fifty-three years the Monk Alypios asceticised upon the pillar, praying to God and teaching the many that came to him. The demons, which infested the pagan cemetery, by night fell upon the ascetic and pelted him with stones. Saint Alypios, wanting nothing to stand in the way of the attacks of the spirits of darkness, then even destroyed the light lean-to which protected him from the rain and wind. In face of the conquering steadfastness of the saint, the demons quit this place forever, which had been sanctified by his deed of voluntary martyrdom. A mere 14 years before his death Saint Alypios was no longer able to stand and he was compelled through the weakness of his legs to lay upon his side, enduring grievous sufferings with humble thankfulness. Around the pillar of the monk gradually there arose two monasteries: on the one side -- a men's monastery, and on the other -- a women's monastery. The Monk Alypios introduced for both monasteries strict ustavs (monastic rules) and until his death he directed both monasteries. The monk died in the year 640, at age 118. The body of the venerable pillar-dweller was buried in the church founded by him in honour of the holy Martyress Euthymia. The relics of the saint of God healed many that came in faith.
Sainted Innokentii, Bishop of Irkutsk, in the world Ioann (John), was descended from the Kul'chitsky line of court nobility. His parents in the mid-XVII Century resettled from Volynia to the Chernigov region. The saint was born in about the year 1680, and educated at the Kiev Spiritual Academy. He accepted monastic tonsure in 1710 and was appointed an instructor at the Slavonic-Greek-Latin Academy as prefect and professor of theology. In 1719 Saint Innokentii transferred to the Sankt-Peterburg Alexandro-Nevsky Lavra with the appointment of arch-priestmonk of the Fleet. In 1720 he bore the obedience of vice-regent of the Alexandro-Nevsky Lavra. On 14 February 1721, PriestMonk Innokentii was ordained to the dignity of Bishop of Pereyaslavl' and appointed to the Peking Spiritual Mission in China. But the Chinese government on the visa gave refusal "for a spiritual personage, a great lord", as the Senate Commission on External Affairs had indiscretely characterised him. The saint was compelled to spend three years at Selingin on the Chinese border, undergoing much deprivation because of the uncertainty of his position, and grief from the disarray of civil governance in Siberia. Diplomatic blunders of the Russian Mission in China by Graf Raguzinsky, and intrigues by the Irkutsk archimandrite Antonii Platkovsky led to this -- that in China was appointed archimandrite Antonii, and by decree of the MostHoly Synod Saint Innokentii was named in 1727 to be Bishop of Irkutsk and Nerchinsk. And so he entered into the governance of the newly-formed dioceses.
The proximity of the Chinese border, the expanse and sparsely-settled dioceses, the great number of diverse nationalities (Buryat, Mongol, and others), mostly unenlightened by the Christian faith, the lack of roads and the poverty -- all this made Saint Innokentii's pastoral work burdensome and his life full of deprivation. Through a strange oversight of the Senate , he did not receive money up until the time of his very death and he endured extreme insufficiency of means. In these difficult condition of scant funds the Irkutsk Ascension monastery still maintained two schools opened under him -- one Mongol and the other Russian. The constant concern of the saint was directed towards their functioning -- the selection of worthy teachers, and providing for students the necessary books, clothing and other provisions.
The saint toiled tirelessly at the organising of the diocese, strengthening its spiritual life, to which witness his many sermons, pastoral letters and directives. In his work and deprivations Saint Innokentii found spiritual strength, humility, and perspicacity.
In the Spring of 1728 the Baikal region began to suffer a drought. Famine from poor grain-harvest had threatened the diocese already back in 1727. With the blessing of the sainted-hierarch, in May within the churches of Irkutsk and the Irkutsk region for each Liturgy they began to include a molieben for the cessation of the drought; on Saturdays they sang an akathist to the Mother of God, and on Sundays they served a collective molieben. "The supplications, -- said the saint, -- should finish on the day of Saint Elias". And indeed on that very day appointed, 20 July, at Irkutsk there raged a storm with such strong rains, that in the streets of the city water stood up to their knees, -- and thus ended the drought.
Through the efforts of Saint Innokentii, construction was started on a stone church to replace the wooden one at the Ascension monastery, and the boundaries of the diocese were expanded to include not only Selingin, but also the Yakutsk and Ilimsk surroundings.
The saint, never noted for robust health, and under the influence of the severe climate and his afflictions, rather young expired to the Lord. He reposed on the morning of 27 November 1731.
In the year 1764 the body of the saint was discovered incorrupt during a time of restoration work on the monastery's Tikhvinsk church. Many miracles occurred not only at Irkutsk, but also in remote places of Siberia -- for those recoursing with prayer to the saint. This impelled the MostHoly Synod to display the relics and glorify the saint in the year 1800. And in the year 1804 there was established a feastday in his memory throughout all Russia on 26 November, since on the actual day of his repose is made celebration of the Znamenie-Sign Icon of the Mother of God. A second day in memory of Saint Innokentii is 9 February.
The Monk James the Hermit asceticised on a mountain, not far from the city of Cyr in Syria. He suffered grievous ills, but he always wore chains, ate food only in the evening and prayed constantly. By such efforts he attained to an high spiritual perfection, having received from the Lord power over demons, the gift of healing and even of resuscitating the dead. In his declining years the Monk James peacefully expired to the Lord.
The Monk Athanasii (Afanasii), nicknamed "the Iron Staff", and the Monk Theodosii (Feodosii) of Cherepovetsk -- were disciples of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh. They settled in the Novgorod extremities at the Cherepovetsk border, where the Rivulet Yagorba flows into the River Sheksna, and here they asceticised at monastic works. They built there a church in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity and founded the Cherepovetsk Resurrection monastery. The saints died in about the year 1388 and were buried in the cathedral church of the monastery. Their memory is celebrated likewise on 25 September.
The Holy GreatMartyr James the Persian (the Hewn-Apart) was born in the IV Century into a pious Christian family, both wealthy and illustrious. His wife was also a Christian, and the spouses raised their children in piety, inspiring in them a love for prayer and the Holy Scripture. James occupied an high position at the court of the Persian emperor Izdegerd (399-420) and his successor Barakhranes (420-438). But on one of the military campaigns James, seduced by the emperor's beneficence, became afraid to acknowledge himself a Christian, and so together with the emperor he offered sacrifice to idols. Learning of this, the mother and wife of James in deep distress wrote him a letter, in which they scolded him and urged him to repent. Receiving the letter, James realised the gravity of his sin, and setting before himself the horror of being cut off not only from his family, but also from God Himself, he began loudly to weep and implore the Lord for forgiveness. His fellow-soldiers, hearing him pray to the Lord Jesus Christ, reported about this to the emperor. Under interrogation and taking courage in spirit, Saint James bravely confessed his faith in the One True God. No amount of urgings by the emperor could shake him into renouncing Christ. The emperor then gave orders to deliver the saint over to a death by martyrdom. They placed the martyr on a chopping-block and they alternately cut off his fingers and his toes, and then his hands and his feet. During the prolonged torture Saint James incessantly offered up prayer of thanks to the Lord, that He had granted him the possibility through the terrible torments to be redeemed of the sins committed. Flowing with blood the martyr was then beheaded.
Sainted Iakov (James), Bishop of Rostov, according to a local tradition, received monastic tonsure at Kopyrsk monastery on the River Ukhtoma, 80 kilometers from Rostov. For a long time he was hegumen of this monastery, and in the year 1385 he was made Bishop of Rostov when Pimen was Metropolitan and Dimitrii Donskoy was GreatPrince.
In defending a woman condemned to execution, the saint, following on the example of the Saviour, bid cast at her the first stone, whomsoever considered themself without sin, and he then sent forth the woman to repentance. The prince and the Rostov boyar-nobles, disgruntled over the bishop's judgement, threw Saint Iakov out of Rostov. Leaving the city, the saint proceeded on to Lake Nero, spread on the water his hierarch's mantle, and having signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, he sailed off on it as though on a boat, guided by the grace of God. Having gone off one and an half versts from the city, Saint Iakov emerged on shore at the place of his future monastery. The prince and the people, repenting their actions, besought forgiveness of the saint. The gentle bishop forgave them, but he did not return back again.
On the shore of Lake Nero he made himself a cell and built a small church in honour of the Zachatie-Conception by Righteous Anna of the MostHoly Mother of God, marking the beginning of the Zachat'evsk Iakovlevsk monastery. Saint Iakov died there on 27 November 1392.
The opinion has circulated, that Saint Iakov contended against the Iconoclast heresy of a certain fellow named Markian, who appeared in Rostov towards the end of the XIV Century. The more ancient of the vitae of the saint make no mention of this, and even the great hagiographer Sainted Dimitri of Rostov was unaware of it. More recent hagiographers were wont to take into account the service to Saint Iakov of Rostov. But the service itself, preserved in copies from the XVI-XVII Centuries, was compiled by way of borrowings from the service on 6 February to Saint Bukolos (+ c. 100), who struggled against the I Century heretic Marcian, and from the service to Saint Stephen of Surozh (VIII, Comm. 15 December), who contended against the emperor Constantine Kopronymos (741-775).
The Holy Monk Romanos was born in the city of Rosa and asceticised in the outskirts of Antioch, acquiring the graced gifts of perspicacity and healing. Through his prayer, the Lord granted many a childless woman the joy of motherhood. Saint Romanos was strict at fasting, and beneathe his hairshirt he wore heavy chains. The saint spent many years as an hermit, without lighting up a fire. Having attained to old age, he in peace expired to the Lord.
The Holy Martyr Paramon and the 370 Martyrs with him suffered for their faith in Christ in the year 250 during the rule of the emperor Decius (249-251). The governor of the Eastern regions, Aquianus, had locked up in prison 370 Christians, urging them to abjure Christ and instead offer sacrifice to idols. They subjected the captives to beatings, hoping by tortures and the threat of death to persuade them to renounce Christ and worship the pagan gods. One of the local inhabitants, Paramon by name, openly denounced the cruel governor and confessed his faith in the One True God, the Lord Jesus Christ. They beheaded Saint Paramon after fierce tortures together with the other 370 martyrs.
The Holy Martyr Philumenos suffered for Christ in the year 274, during the persecution against Christians by the emperor Aurelian (270-275). Saint Philumenos was by occupation a bread merchant in Ancyra. Envious persons reported to the governor Felix, that Philumenos was confessing the Christian faith, and he thus came before a judge. Saint Philumenos did not renounce Christ. For this they hammered nails into his hands, feet and head, and they forced him to walk. The holy martyr bravely endured the torments and he died from loss of blood, giving up his soul to God.
The Monk Akakios of Sinai lived during the VI Century and was a novice at a certain monastery. The humble monk distinguished himself by his patient and unquestioning obedience to his spiritual-elder, a man of callous character. He forced the monk to toil excessively, starved him with hunger, and beat him without mercy. Despite such treatment, the Monk Akakios meekly endured the affliction and thanked God for everything. Not long surviving such harsh obedience, Saint Akakios died.
The elder after five days told about the death of his disciple to another elder, who did not believe that the young monk was dead. Then this teacher of Akakios called this other elder over to the grave of Akakios and loudly asked: "Brother Akakios, art thou dead?" From the grave was heard a voice: "No, father, not dead; whosoever beareth an obedience, is not wont to die". The startled elder fell down with tears before the grave, asking forgiveness of his disciple.
And after this he changed himself morally, he applied himself in his cell near the grave of Saint Akakios, and in prayer and in meekness he finished out his life. The Monk John of the Ladder Climaticus (Comm. 30 March) offers this tale in his "Ladder" as an example of endurance and obedience, and the rewards for them.
The Monk Nektarii of Pechersk, a monk of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery, pursued asceticism during the XII Century. For his unquestioning obedience to the will of elder brethren and his zeal for work he was termed "the Obedient". The monk Nektarii was buried in the Antoniev Cave. His memory is also 28 September and the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The PriestMartyr Habib, Bishop of Nekressa, was one of the Thirteen holy Syrian (Cappadocian) Fathers, founders of Gruzinian (Georgian) monasticism, who had come to Gruzia in the VI Century (the account about them is located under 7 May). At the request of the Gruzian emperor Parsman VI (542-557) and the Catholikos Eulabios (552-560), the saint accepted the dignity of bishop and cathedra-seat of Nekressa.
The Persians, during this time having seized Kakhetia (Eastern Gruzia), were everywhere disseminating their fire-worship. Bishop Habib, filled with apostolic zeal, walked with cross in hand through the cities and villages of his diocese and eradicated everywhere the crude superstitions, and also extinguishing the fires in the pagan temple of the Zoroastrians. Didoitsa and other mountaineers of Kakhetia, living on the left bank of the River Alazan, renounced fire-worship and came through repentance into the bosom of the Church of Christ. Saint Habib also converted many Persians to Christ.
The Persian satrap, living in the city of Rekha, was vexed at the successful preaching of the saint, and gave orders to arrest him and bring him before him. As the Imertino-Abkhaz Cathlolikos Arsenios the Great (+ 1390) -- the author of the manuscript on the Martyrdom of Saint Habib -- relates, Saint Habib on the way to Rekha received a letter and staff from his friend Saint Simeon the Pillar-Dweller of Mount Divna (Comm. 24 May); he even took leave of his companion ascetics -- Saint Zenon of Ikatl and Saint Shiu of Mgvium (the account about them is located under 7 and 9 May).
Brought before the Persian satrap, Saint Habib refused to accept Zoroastrianism, and passionately he denounced him for his fire-worship. By order of the satrap, they subjected Saint Habib to scourging and terrible beatings, after which he died a martyr, pelted with stones in the settlement of Rekha, near Gora. They threw the body of Saint Habib for devouring by wild beasts, but neither the beasts, nor birds, nor decay touched the holy relics. The brethren of the Samtavi monastery buried the relics with honour in their monastery.
The relics of the saint were glorified by healings, and later during the reign of the governor Kartli Stepanoz (639-663) were transferred at the desire of the Catholikos Thabor from Samtavi to the Mtskheta Samtavi cathedral and placed beneathe the altar-table, where they repose out of sight to the present day.
The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called (Pervozvyannii) was the first of the Apostles to follow Christ, and he afterwards brought to Christ his own brother the holy Apostle Peter (Jn. 1: 35-42). The future apostle was from Bethsaida, and from the time of his youth he turned with all his soul to God. He did not enter into marriage, and together with his brother he worked as a fisherman. When upon Israel thundered the voice of the holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord John, Saint Andrew became his closest disciple. Saint John the Baptist himself sent off to Christ his own two disciples, the future Apostles Andrew and John the Theologian, declaring Christ to be the Lamb of God.
After the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, Saint Andrew set off preaching the Word of God to the Eastern lands. He went through Asia Minor, Thrace, Macedonia, he reached along the River Dunaj (Danube), went along the coast of the Black Sea, through Crimea, the Black Sea Region and along the River Dniepr he climbed to the place, where now stands the city of Kiev. He stopped overnight on the hills of Kiev. Rising in the morning, he said to those disciples that were with him: "See ye these hills? Upon these hills will shine forth the beneficence of God, and there wilt be here a great city, and God shalt raise up many churches". The apostle went up around the hills, blessed them and set up a cross. Having prayed, he went up even further along the Dniepr and reached a settlement of the Slavs, where Novgorod was built. From here the apostle went through the land of the Varangians towards Rome for preaching, and again he returned to Thrace, where in the small village of Byzantium -- the future mighty Constantinople, he founded the Church of Christ. The name of the holy Apostle Andrew connects the mother -- the Church of Constantinople, together with the daughter -- the Russian Church.
On his journeys the First-Called Apostle endured many sufferings and torments from pagans: they cast him out from their cities and they beat him. In Sinope they pelted him with stones, but remaining unharmed, the persevering disciple of Christ continued to preaching about the Saviour to people. Through the prayers of the apostle, the Lord worked miracles. From the labours of the holy Apostle Andrew there emerged Christian Churches, for which he established bishops and clergy. The final city to which the First-Called Apostle came, and where it was allotted him to accept a martyr's end, was the city of Patra.
The Lord manifest many a miracle through His disciple in Patra. The infirm were made whole, and the blind received their sight. Through the prayers of the apostle, the illustrious citizen Sosios recovered from serious illness; by the placing on of apostolic hands was healed Maximilla, wife of the governor of Patra, and his brother Stratokles. The miracles accomplished by the apostle and his fiery speech enlightened with the true faith almost all the citizens of the city of Patra. Few pagans that remained at Patra, but among them was the governor of the city, Aegeatos. The Apostle Andrew repeatedly turned to him with the words of Good-News [meaning of Euangelium, or Gospel]. But even the miracles of the apostle did not convince Aegeatos. The holy apostle with love and humility appealed to his soul, striving to reveal to him the Christian mystery of life eternal, through the wonderworking power of the Holy Cross of the Lord. The angry Aegeatos gave orders to crucify the apostle. The pagan thought to undo the preaching of Saint Andrew, if he were to give him over to death on the cross, which however the apostle glorified. Saint Andrew the First-Called accepted the decision of the governor with joy and with prayer to the Lord he himself went willingly to the place of execution. In order to prolong the suffering of the saint, Aegeatos gave orders not to nail down the hands and feet of the saint, but to tie them to the cross. From up on the cross for two days the apostle taught the citizens who gathered about. The people, in listening to him, with all their souls pitied him and tried to take the holy apostle down from the cross. Fearing a riot of the people, Aegeatos gave orders to stop the execution. But the holy apostle began to pray that the Lord would grant him death on the cross. Just as the soldiers tried to take hold of the Apostle Andrew, they lost control of their hands. The crucified apostle, having given glory to God, uttered: "Lord Jesus Christ, receive Thou my spirit". Then a blazing ray of Divine light illumined the cross and the martyr crucified upon it. When the shining ceased, the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called had already given up his holy soul to the Lord (+ 62). Maximilla, wife of the governor, had the body of the Apostle taken down from the cross, and buried him with honour.
A few centuries later, under the emperor Constantine the Great, the relics of the holy Apostle Andrew were solemnly transferred to Constantinople and placed in the church of the Holy Apostles alongside the relics of the holy Evangelist Luke and Apostle Paul's disciple -- the Disciple Timothy.
Sainted Phrumentios, Archbishop of Inda (Aethiopia, formerly Abysssinia), was a native of the city of Tyre. By Divine Providence while still a child he came to be in Abyssinia. Growing up near the imperial court, he became a friend and chief counselor of the Abyssinian emperor, and afterwards tutor to his son, -- who ascended the throne while still a minor after the death of his father. With the consent of the new emperor, Saint Phrumentios journeyed to his native land and afterwards visited Alexandria and its patriarch, Sainted Athanasias the Great (326-373; Comm. 2 May). With the blessing of Saint Athanasias, Phrumentios was raised to the dignity of bishop of Abyssinia and he returned to that other country, which had sheltered him from his childhood years. Under the influence of the preaching of the saint, miracles were worked through his prayer: the emperor and many of his subjects received holy Baptism. Having accomplished the apostolic exploit of converting the Abyssinian nation to Christ, Saint Phrumentios for many years zealously and fruitfully guided the Church entrusted him by God, and he peacefully expired to the Lord in extreme old age (+ c. 380).
The Holy Prophet Naum -- one of the 12 Lesser Prophets, was from the village of Elkosh (Galilee). He lived during the VII Century BC. The Old Testament Book of the Prophet Naum contains prophecy of the ruin of the Assyrian city of Ninevah because of its iniquity, the destruction of the Israelite kingdom, and of the blasphemy of king Sennacherib against Jehovah. Details of the prophet's life are unknown. He died at age 45 and was buried in his native region.
Righteous Philaretos the Merciful, son of George and Anna, was raised in piety and the fear of God. He lived during the VIII Century in the village of Amnea in the Paphlagonian district (Asia Minor). His wife, Theozua, was from a rich and illustrious family, and they had children: a son John, and daughters Ipatia and Euanthea.
Philaretos was a rich and illustrious dignitary, but he was not hoarding of his wealth. Knowing that many people suffered from poverty, he remembered the words of the Saviour about the dread Last Judgement and about "these least ones" (Mt. 25: 40); the words of the Apostle Paul about the fact that a dying man takes nothing along from this world (1 Tim. 6: 7); and the verses of king David about the reward of the righteous (Ps.  36: 25). And Philaretos became famed for his love for the poor.
One time Ishmaelites (arabs) made an attack on Paphlagonia, devastating the land and plundering the estate of Philaretos. There remained only 2 oxen, a cow, some oil and the house. But this also, finally, he shared with the poor. Mildly yet stubbornly he endured the reproaches of his wife and the jeers of his children. "I have in secret places unbeknownst to you, such riches and such treasure, -- he replied to his family, -- which would suffice you, even if ye live an hundred years without toil and without concern".
And the Lord rewarded Philaretos for his generosity: when the last measure of wheat was given away, a old friend sent him forty measures, and after this, as warm clothing was given to the needy, riches returned to him.
During this time the Byzantine empress Irene (797-802) was seeking a bride for her son -- the future co-reigning Constantine Porphyrigenitos (Bagryanorodnii) (780-797) and for this emissaries were sent throughout all the empire. And the envoys did not bypass Amnea. When Philaretos and Theozua learned that these most illustrious guests were to visit at their house, Philaretos was very happy, but Theozua was sad, -- at the house there was no always even food, and suitable entertainment was impossible. But Philaretos bid his wife to finely decorate their home. Their neighbours, knowing that imperial envoys were being expected, brought everything in abundance for a rich feast. The envoys made their choices for the imperial bride selection: amidst the 10 most beautiful maidens was Philaretos' grand-daughter, Maria. This very Maria exceeded all her rivals in quality and modesty and indeed became the regent's wife, and Constantine Porphyrigenitos lavished rewarded Philaretos. And thus fame and riches returned to Philaretos. But just as before, this holy lover of the poor generously distributed alms and established an eating place for the poor, and he himself served them at the time of the meal. Everyone was astonished at the humility of Philaretos and said: "In truth this is a man of God completely, a true disciple of Christ".
He ordered a servant to take three chests and fill them separately with gold, silver and copper coins: from the first the totally destitute received alms, from the second -- those having been robbed of the means of subsistence, and from the third -- those who hypocritically coveted money.
Thus, not caught up in honours, but rather in humility and love for the poor, the blessed elder attained 90 years of age. Foreseeing his end, he set off to the Constantinople Rodolpheia monastery, distributing there everything that he had on himself, for monastery needs and for the needy. Having summoned his family, he exhorted them in love for the poor and non-avarice; he then expired peacefully to the Lord. He died in the year 792 and was buried in the Rodolpheia Judgement monastery in Constantinople.
The appearance of a miracle after his death confirmed the sainthood of Righteous Philaretos. When they took the body of the saint to the place of burial, a certain man, possessed by the devil, took hold on the coffin and followed with the funeral procession. At the cemetery occurred the healing of the demoniac: the devil threw the man down on the ground and went out from him. Many other miracles and healings also were done at the grave of the saint.
After the death of Righteous Philaretos, his wife Theozua worked at restoring monasteries and churches devastated during the time of a barbarian invasion.