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Introduction to Orthodoxy
Thou hast revealed the earthly majesty of the dwelling place of the holy glory, O Lord, as the brilliance of the firmament on high. Make firm its foundation unto ages of ages, and receive our fervent supplications which are offered to thee, there in, through the intercessions of the Theotokos, O life and Resurrection of all.
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The Martyr Tryphon was born in one of the districts of Asia Minor -- Phrygia, not far from the city of Apameia in the village of Kampsada. From his early years the Lord granted him the power to cast out devils and to heal various maladies. The inhabitants of his native city were once saved by him from starvation: Saint Tryphon by the power of his prayer forced back a plague of locusts that were devouring the bread grain and devastating the fields. Saint Tryphon gained particular fame by casting out a devil from the daughter of the Roman emperor Gordian (238-244). Helping everyone in distress, he asked but one fee -- faith in Jesus Christ, by Whose grace he healed them.
When the emperor Decius (249-251) entered upon the imperial throne, there was a fierce persecution of Christians. A denunciation was made to the commander Akelinos that Saint Tryphon was bolding preaching faith in Christ and that he led many to Baptism. The saint was arrested and subjected to interrogation, at the time of which he fearlessly confessed his faith. They subjected him to harsh tortures: they beat at him with clubs, lacerated his body with iron hooks, they seared the wounds with fire, and led him through the city, having hammered iron nails into his feet. Saint Tryphon bravely endured all the torments, not giving out a single whimper. Finally, he was condemned to beheading with a sword. The holy martyr prayed before the execution, thanking God for strengthening him in his sufferings, and he besought of the Lord in particular to bless those who should call upon his name for help. Just as the soldiers suspended the sword over the head of the holy martyr, he placed his soul into the hands of God. This event occurred in the city of Nicea in the year 250. Christians wound the holy body of the martyr in a clean shroud and wanted to bury him in the city of Nicea, in which he suffered, but Saint Tryphon in a vision commanded them to take his body to his native land to the village of Kampsada. This was done.
Later on the relics of Saint Tryphon were transferred to Constantinople, and then to Rome. The holy martyr is accorded great veneration in the Russian Orthodox Church.
There exists a legend, that during the reign of tsar Ivan the Terrible at the time of an imperial hunt, a gerfalcon beloved by the tsar flew off. The tsar ordered the falconer Tryphon Patrikeev to find the flown off bird. The falconer Tryphon journeyed about through the surrounding forest, but without luck. On the third day, exhausted by long searching, he returned to Moscow to the place now called Mar'ina Grove, and in weariness he lay down to rest, fervently praying to his patron saint -- the Martyr Tryphon, beseeching him for help. In a dream he saw a youth on a white horse, holding on his hand the imperial gerfalcon, and this youth said: "Take back the lost bird, go with God to the tsar and be not aggrieved about it". Having awakened, the falconer actually spotted the gerfalcon not far off on a pine tree. He then took it to the tsar and told about the miraculous help, received by him from the holy Martyr Tryphon. After a certain while the falconer Tryphon Patrikeev built a chapel on the spot where the saint appeared, and later on also there was a church in the name of the holy Martyr Tryphon.
The Holy Martyress Perpetua was descended from patrician lineage and lived in Carthagena. In secret from her father, a convinced pagan, she accepted holy Baptism through believing in the Saviour. She was vouchsafed a martyr's end together with her own brother Satyrus, the maid-servant Felicita and the youths Revocatus, Satornilus and Secundus, who also were preparing to become Christians. Despite the exhorting of her father who persistently appealed to her maternal feelings, the early on widowed 22 year old Saint Perpetua subdued earthly attachment for the beloved infant at her bosom on account of the Heavenly Life. Before execution the saint had a vision from God, fortifying her strength of soul. Saint Secundus died in prison, but the remaining martyrs were given over for devouring by wild beasts. But the beasts would not touch the condemned, and then they were all killed by the sword. This occurred in about the year 203.
About the Monk Peter of Galatia is known, that at nine years of age and yearning for the spiritual life, he left his parental abode, and set off first to Jerusalem, and then to Antioch. There he enclosed himself in a cave, devoted himself to deeds of prayer and strict abstinence, taking bread and water only after the daytime. In these exploits he was granted from God the gift of wonderworking, healing infirmities and expelling devils. The monk died in about the year 429 at the age of ninety-nine, of which he served God incessantly for ninety years.
The Monk Vendimian was born in Myzia. In his youth he was a disciple of Saint Auxentios, one of the fathers of the Fourth OEcumenical Council. Having settled in the monastery, founded by the Monk Auxentios (Comm. 14 February) on Mount Oxea -- not far from Chalcedon (Asia Minor), he pursued asceticism for 42 years in fasting and prayer at the cell of his teacher -- in the crevice of a cliff, undergoing temptation from demons. For his deeds the monk was granted a gift of healing. He died in about the year 512.
Sainted Tryphon, Bishop of Rostov, before ordination to bishop was head of the Moscow Novospassky monastery and was confessor to GreatPrince Vasilii Vasil'evich the Dark. On 23 May 1462 he was ordained to the Rostov cathedra-chair by the Metropolitan of Moscow Theodosii. In 1466 he retired to the Saviour monastery in Yaroslavl', where he died on 30 December 1468 (certain local documents point to the year 1466). His memory was transferred to 1 February, it seems, because of his name in common with the Martyr Tryphon. At this monastery also was buried Saint Prokhor -- as schemamonk Tryphon, also a bishop of Rostov, having died in the year 1328 (Comm. 7 September).
On the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord, the Church commemorates an important event in the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ (Lk 2: 22-40). On the 40th day after birth the God-Infant was taken to the Jerusalem Temple -- the centre of religious life of the God-chosen nation. By the Law of Moses (Lev 12) a woman, having given birth to a child of the male gender, was forbidden for 40 days to enter into the Temple of God. After this interval the mother came to the Temple with the child, so as to offer to the Lord thanksgiving and a purification sacrifice. The MostHoly Virgin, the Mother of God, did not have need for purification, since without defilement she had given birth to the Source of purity and sanctity, but in profound humility she submitted to the precepts of the Law.
At this time there lived at Jerusalem the righteous elder Simeon (the account about him is located under the day of his commemoration -- 3 February). It had been revealed to him that he would not die until he should behold Christ the Saviour. By inspiration from above, the pious elder went to the Temple at that very moment when the MostHoly Mother of God and Righteous Joseph had brought there the Infant Jesus, so as to fulfill the ritual ceremony of the Law. The God-Bearer Simeon took the God-Infant in his arms, and having given thanks to God, he uttered a prophecy about the Saviour of the world: "Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart, O Lord, with peace according to Thy word, wherefore hath mine eyes beheld Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to the enlightening of gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel" (Lk 2: 29-32). Righteous Simeon said to the MostHoly Virgin: "Behold, This One is set for the fall and rising up of many in Israel and for the sign spoken against, and for Thee Thyself a sword shalt pierce the soul, so that the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed" (Lk 2: 35).
At the Temple also the 84 year old widow Anna the Prophetess, daughter of Phanuel (Comm. 3 February), "who did not leave the temple, serving God both day and night in fasting and prayer. And she also at that time, having drawn near, glorified the Lord and spake about Him (the God-Infant) to all awaiting deliverance at Jerusalem" (Lk 2: 37-38).
Before the Birth of Christ, all righteous men and women lived by faith in the Future Messiah the Saviour of the world, and they awaited His coming. The final righteous ones of the closing Old Testament -- Righteous Simeon and the Prophetess Anna -- were deemed worthy to meet at the Temple the Bearer of the New Testament, in the Person of Whom both Divinity and humanity do meet.
The Feast of the Meeting of the Lord is among the most ancient feasts of the Christian Church. It is known, that on the day of this solemnity were proclaimed sermons by Sainted Bishops Methodios of Patara (+ 312), Cyril of Jerusalem (+ 360), Gregory the Theologian (+ 389), Amphylokios of Iconium (+ 394), Gregory of Nyssa (+ 400), and John Chrysostom (+ 407). But in spite of its early origin, this feast was not so solemnly celebrated until the VI Century. During the reign of Justinian in the year 528, a catastrophe befell Antioch -- an earthquake, in which many people perished. And upon this misfortune there followed others. In the year 544 there appeared a pestilential plague, daily carrying off several thousand people. During these days of widespread travail, it was revealed to a certain pious christian that the celebration of the Meeting of the Lord should be done more solemnly.
When at the day of the Meeting of the Lord the all-night vigil was finally made with church procession, the disasters at Byzantium ceased. In thanksgiving to God, the Church established in 544 that the Meeting of the Lord should be done more solemnly.
Church melodists adorned this feast with many a church work of song: in the VII Century -- Sainted Andrew ArchBishop of Crete; in the VIII Century -- Sainted Cosma Bishop of Maium, Monk John Damascene, Sainted Germanos Patriarch of Constantinople; and in the IX Century -- Sainted Joseph the Studite, ArchBishop of Thessalonika.
With the event of the Meeting of the Lord is associated the icon of the MostHoly Mother of God named: "the Softening of Evil Hearts" or "Simeon's Prophecy", which it is necessary to distinguish from the icon "Seven Arrows".
The icon "Simeon's Prophecy" symbolises the fulfillment of the prophecy of the righteous elder Simeon: "for Thee Thyself a sword shalt pierce the soul" (Lk 2: 35).
Righteous Simeon the God-Receiver (Bogopriimets) was, according to the testimony of the holy Evangelist Luke, one of the chosen of God in expectation of the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit dwelt upon him (Lk 2:25). It was announced to him from God, that he would not die until that time, when the Promised Messiah -- Christ the Lord -- would be come into the world.
Ancient historians relate that the Egyptian emperor Ptolemy II Philadelphos (285-247 BC) wished to add to the famous Library at Alexandria with texts of Holy Scripture. He invited scholars from Jerusalem, and the Sanhedrin sent their wise men. Righteous Simeon was also among the 72 scholars in Alexandria for the translation of the Sacred Scriptures into the Greek language. (The work was accomplished and received the title "Translation of the 72 Interpreters". With this also further on in the future, the New Testament was translated into the Slavonic language for the Bulgarian, Serbian and Russian Orthodox Churches.) Righteous Simeon translated a book of the Prophet Isaiah, having read in the original the words: "Behold, a Virgin shalt conceive and give birth to a Son" (Is 7: 14). He decided, that the word "Virgin" was incorrectly used here in place of the word "Woman", and he wanted to correct the text. At that moment an Angel appeared to him and held back his hand saying: "Have faith in the words written down; thou thyself shalt be persuaded that they will be fulfilled, whereof thou shalt not taste of death until thou behold Christ the Lord, Who shall be born of a Pure and Immaculate Virgin".
From this day righteous Simeon began to await the coming of the Promised Messiah.
And here one day righteous Simeon, knowing of it by the Holy Spirit, was come to the Jerusalem Temple. It was on that very same day (the fortieth after the Birth of Christ), when the All-Pure Virgin Mary and Her Betrothed Joseph had come there in order to perform the ritual set down by Jewish Law -- to present before the Lord His Own Divine First-Born and to offer the established sacrifice.
When righteous Simeon beheld their arrival, the Holy Spirit revealed to him that the God-Infant Whom the All-Pure Virgin Mary held, -- was the Promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world. The elder took into his arms the Infant Christ and pronounced his prophetic words: "Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart, O Lord, with peace according to Thy word, wherefore hath mine eyes beheld Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to the enlightening of gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel". He blessed the All-Pure Virgin and Righteous Joseph and, having turned to the Mother of God he said: "Behold, This One is set for the fall and rising up of many in Israel and for the sign spoken against, and for Thee thyself a sword shalt pierce the soul, so that the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed" (Lk 2: 22-35).
The holy Evangelist relates further: "Here also was Anna the Prophetess, daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Aser, having reached extreme old age, having lived with her husband for seven years, she was a widow for eighty-four years, who went not out from the temple, serving God both day and night by fasting and prayer. And she having approached at this time, glorified the Lord and prophesied about Him to all awaiting deliverance at Jerusalem" (Lk 2: 36-38).
About the righteous and holy Simeon the God-Receiver is known that he died in extreme old age. In the VI Century his holy relics were transferred to Constantinople. In the year 1200 his grave was seen by the Russian pilgrim Saint Antonii, future archbishop of Novgorod (1212-1220. +1232, Comm. 8 October).
NobleBorn prince Roman of Uglich, son of the Uglich prince Vladimir and princess Photineia, and nephew of Saint Vasil'ko of Rostov (+ 1238, Comm. 4 March), was born on 1 October 1235. Upon the death of his father (in 1248) and his older brother Andrei (1261), Saint Roman at age 26 took upon himself the governance of Uglich and became a guarding father for his subjects. He established a poor-house and took into it the destitute, coming to him from everywhere. In the principality he raised up 15 more churches. Saint Roman was present every day at Divine-services, and he conversed often with pious monks. After the death of his spouse in 1280 he devoted himself entirely to ascetic exploits of fasting, prayer and deeds of righteousness. He built on the high bank of the Volga the city Romanov (now Tutaev). The holy prince died peacefully on 3 February 1285 and was buried in the Church of the Transfiguration in Uglich.
In 1486 the relics of Saint Roman were found to be undecayed and were transferred into the new cathedral Church of the Transfiguration. In the year 1595 with the blessing of Patriarch Job -- in consequence of the fame concerning miracles -- the relics were witnessed to by the Kazan metropolitan (later Patriarch) Sainted Ermogen (Comm. 17 February), and Saint Roman was enumerated in the ranks of the saints. In 1609 during the time of an invasion by the Poles, the holy relics were burned together with the church.
Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Nikolai, ArchBishop, Apostle to Japan, -- in the world Ivan Dimitrievich Kasatkin, was born on 1 August 1836 in the village of Berezovsk, Bel'sk district, Smolensk diocese, where his father served as deacon. At the age of five he lost his mother. Having completed the Bel'sk religious school, and afterwards the Smolensk religious seminary, in 1857 Ivan Kasatkin entered the Saint-Peterburg spiritual academy. On 24 June 1860, in the academy temple of the Twelve Apostles, bishop Nektarii gave him monastic vows with the chosen name Nikolai. On the day of memory of the first-ranked Apostles Peter and Paul, 29 June, the monk Nikolai was ordained deacon, and on 30 June -- the altar-feastday of the academy temple -- to the dignity of priestmonk. Afterwards through his wish Father Nikolai was assigned to Japan, as head of the consular church in the city of Khakodate.
The preaching of the Gospel in Japan at first seemed completely impossible. In Father Nikolai's own words: "the Japanese of that time looked upon foreigners as beasts, and on Christianity as a villainous church, to which it was possible only for total knaves and charlatans to belong". Eight years passed in this way, in studying the country, the people, their language and manners and customs, amidst which he would have to preach. Up until 1868 the flock of Father Nikolai still numbered about twelve Japanese. At the end of 1869 priestmonk Nikolai made a report to the Synod in Peterburg about the result of his work. This resolution was adopted: "to form for the preaching of the Word of God among the pagan Japanese a special Russian Spiritual Mission". Father Nikolai was elevated to the dignity of archimandrite and assigned as head of this Mission. Having returned to Japan, he transferred the Khakodate flock to priestmonk Anatolii, and himself shifted the centre of the Mission to Tokyo. In 1871 there began in the country a persecution of christians; many were subjected to being chased about (among this number was the first Japanese Orthodox person, the afterwards reknown missionary priest Paul Savabe). Only in the year 1873 did the persecution abate somewhat, and it became possible to freely preach Christianity.
In this year archimandrite Nikolai set about the construction in Tokyo of a church and school for fifty men, and later also a religious school, which in 1878 was transformed into a seminary.
In 1874 there arrived at Tokyo His Grace Paul, Bishop of Kamchatka, to ordain to the priestly dignity candidates from the local population recommended by archimandrite Nikolai. During this time at the Mission in Tokyo there operated four schools -- catechetical, seminary, women's, church readers. And in Khakodate there were two schools: boys and girls. In the second half of 1877 the Mission began regularly to publish the journal "Church Messenger". By the year 1878 there already numbered in Japan 4115 Christians, and there existed a number of christian communities. Divine-services and teaching in the native language, the publication of books of religio-moral content -- these were the means which permitted the Mission to attain in a short while such reknown results.
Archimandrite Nikolai was ordained bishop on 30 March 1880 in the Trinity Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky Lavra. Returning to Japan, he began with still greater fervour to continue his apostolic work: he completed construction on the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Tokyo, he set about the translation of the Divine-service books, and he composed into the Japanese language a special Orthodox theological dictionary.
Great hardship befell the lot of the saint and his flock at the time of the Russo-Japanese War. For his ascetic labour during these difficult years he was deemed worthy of elevation to the dignity of archbishop.
In the year 1911 half a century had passed from the time, when the young priestmonk Nikolai had first tread on Japanese soil. But by this time in 266 communities of the Japanese Orthodox Church there were 33017 Christians, 1 archbishop, 1 bishop, 35 priests, 6 deacons, 14 teachers of singing, and 116 preacher-catechists.
In his 76th year on 3 February 1912, the Enlightener of Japan ArchBishop Nikolai expired peacefully to the Lord. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church passed resolution on 10 April 1970 concerning the glorification of the Sainted-Bishop into the ranks of the "RavnoApostoli" "Equal-to-the-Apostles", since in Japan the saint was long honoured as a great righteous one and prayerful intercessor before the Lord.
Sainted Simeon, Bishop of Tver', was the seventh bishop of Polotsk and the first bishop of the Tver' diocese. He was descended from the lineage of the Polotsk princes. The cathedra of the saint was first at Polotsk, but hostile attacks and conflicts with the Lithuanian princes, and the murder in 1263 of the Polotsk prince his kinsman, compelled him to relocate to Tver'. (The Tver' prince Yaroslav Yaroslavich had at this time become GreatPrince of Russia, and chose Tver' as his ruling city).
Blessed Simeon was well-disposed and kind to the down-trodden and destitute, attentive to the monastic and priests orders, and fearsome to the affront of truth.
The Nikonov Chronicle relates, that this sainted bishop was "knowledgeable about medicine, and well versed in the books of Holy Scripture; he was a teacher, and virtuous, concerned for the needy and orphans widows, defending the down-trodden and delivering the oppressed".
History preserves for us a conversation of saint Simeon with the Polotsk prince Konstantin who, wishing to make a jest about his court, asked the saint at supper: "Where shalt be the courts in that world?" Simeon answered: "The court shalt be there, where likewise shalt be the prince".
The prince did not fancy this, and he said: "A court might judge unjustly, and take bribes, or torture people, and is it I that do the harm?" Vladyka explained to him: "If a prince be good and God-fearing, he is concerned for the people, he loves truth and he appoints on his council -- good and God-fearing men, intelligent and truth-loving, that prince shalt be in paradise and his court with him. If however a prince be without the fear of God, he is not concerned for christians and he does not think of orphans and widows, and he appoints wicked counselors lacking integrity and only to bring him money..., that prince shalt be in hell and his court with him".
Sainted Simeon died on 3 February 1289.
Saint Blaise of Caesarea -- Bukolos -- lived in the III Century. He hailed from Caesarea Cappadocia (Asia Minor) and was a shepherd (in Greek "bukolos").
When began a persecution against christians, Saint Blaise virtuously gave himself over into the hands of the torturers. They subjected him to torture, and beat him with leather thongs, but the Lord healed his wounds. They then threw Blaise into a cauldron of boiling water, but he remained there unharmed. The pagan soldiers, seeing this miracle, came to believe in Christ Jesus.
The governor, wishing to show that the martyr remained unharmed because the water had cooled, jumped into the cauldron and died.
Having brought many to faith in Christ, Saint Blaise peacefully offered up his soul to God. They thrust the shepherd's staff of the saint into the ground, and it grew up into an huge tree, which covered with its branches the altar of a church built over his relics.
The Monk Isidor Pelusiotes lived during the IV-V Centuries. He was a native of Alexandria, and was raised amidst pious Christians. He was a kinsman of Theophilos, Archbishop of Alexandria, and of his successor, Saint Cyril. While still a youth he quit the world and withdrew within Egypt to Mount Pelusiotes, which became the site of his monastic efforts. The spiritual wisdom and strict asceticism of the Monk Isidor, in combination with his broad erudition and innate knowledge of the human soul, allowed him in a short while to win the respect and love of his fellow monks. They chose him as their head and had him elevated to the dignity of presbyter. Following the example of Saint John Chrysostom, whom he had managed to see and hear during the time of a journey to Constantinople, the Monk Isidor devoted himself primarily to Christian preaching, -- that "practical wisdom" which, in his own words, is both "the foundation of the edifice and the edifice itself", while at the same time logic is "its embellishment" and contemplation -- its crown". He was a teacher and a willing giver of counsel for anyone recoursing to him for spiritual encouragement: whether it be a simple man, a dignitary, a bishop, the Patriarch of Alexandria or even the emperor himself. He left after him about 10,000 writings, of which 2,090 have survived. A large portion of these writings are profound in theological thought and contain morally edifying interpretations of Holy Scripture. It is here that the Monk Isidor stands out as the finest disciple of Saint John Chrysostom. The love and devotion of the Monk Isidor for Saint John Chrysostom resulted in decisive acts in defense of Saint John during the time of his persecution by the empress Eudoxia and archbishop Theophilos. After the death of Saint John, the Monk Isidor persuaded Theophilos' successor Saint Cyril to inscribe the name of Saint John Chrysostom into the Church diptyches as a confessor. And through the initiative of the Monk Isidor was convened the Third OEcumenical Council at Ephesus (431), at which was condemned the false-teachings of Nestorius concerning the Person of Jesus Christ.
The Monk Isidor lived into old age and died in about the year 436. The Church historian Euagrios (Evagrius, VI Century) writes about the Monk Isidor, that "his life seemed to everyone the life of an angel upon the earth". Another historian, Nicholas Kallistos (IX Century), praises the Monk Isidor thus: "He was a vital and inspired pillar of monastic rules and Divine vision and as such he presented a very lofty image of most fervent example and spiritual teaching".
Holy Nobleborn Prince George (Georgii, diminutive Yurii) was a son of Greatprince Vsevolod, nicknamed "BigNest" ("Bol'shoe Gnesdo"). He was born in the year 1189, and he entered upon the Vladimir greatprincely throne in 1212. He was distinguished for his military valour and his piety. In the year 1237 the Tatar (Mongol) Horde of Batu descended upon the Russian land. Saint George was compelled to leave the capital city in charge of his sons, and set off north to unite up with the other princes. On the day of 4 March 1238 there occurred the Battle at the River Sita, in which the Tatars destroyed the not overly large but nonetheless valiant company of the greatprince. The saint himself fell in this fight. Bishop Kirill buried his body at the Rostov cathedral; two years later, it was with great solemnity transferred to the Vladimir Uspenie (Dormition) cathedral. And in 1645 occurred the Church glorification of the saint.
The Monk Kirill (Cyril) of Novoezersk was born into a pious family. The Lord marked him among the chosen while still in the womb of his mother. One time when Kirill's mother, having her son beneathe her heart, was praying in church during the time of Divine Liturgy, the infant within her womb thrice cried out -- at the reading of the Gospel, during the Cherubimic Hymn, and at the moment of the transformation of the Holy Gifts.
From the time of his childhood the saint was fond of solitude and prayer, and he dreamt of monastic life. At fifteen years of age Kirill secretly left his parental home, intending to enter the Pskovo-Pechersk monastery. He did not know directions for the way to the monastery, and having taken along nothing from home for the journey he went his way, putting all his trust in the Lord and His All-Pure Mother. At 20 versts from the city the lad met up with a magnificent monastic-elder, who led him to the monastery and at parting blessed him with the words: "May God bless thee, my child, and grant thee the Angelic form, and may thou be a chosen vessel of the Divine Spirit". Having said this, the starets-elder became invisible. The lad perceived that this had been a messenger from God, and he gave thanks to the Lord.
The monastery head -- the Monk Kornilii (Comm. 20 February) saw with his perspicacious eye the grace manifest in the lad. He provided him with much guidance and tonsured him into the monastic form with the name Kirill (Cyril). The fifteen year old monk astonished the brethren with his efforts: by fasting and prayer he emaciated the flesh, zealously he fulfilled obediences, day and night he was ready to study the Word of God; and already then he thought to finish his days in the wilderness, in solitude.
The parents of the lad bewept him as one dead, but one time an elder of the monastery of the Monk Kornilii came to them and told them about their son and his life at the monastery. The joyful news confirmed in the mother of the Kirill her love for God. Having spoken with her husband about leaving to the monastery her portion of the inheritance, she herself left the world and assumed the monastic form with the name Elena (Helen), and then soon peacefully died. The father of the monk came to the monastery, and Hegumen Kornilii bid Kirill to meet with him. The monk was troubled, but not daring to disobey the hegumen, he fell down at the feet of his father, imploring forgiveness for having secretly left home. The father forgave his son, and he himself remained henceforth at the monastery, with the Monk Kornilii tonsuring him into monasticism with the name Varsonophii, and gave him over for instruction to his son. Three years later he peacefully died. His son continued all the more fervently to toil for the Lord, disdaining his own will in making obediences not only to the hegumen, but also to the brethren. He thirsted to go about all the Russian land, venerating its holy things and to choose for himself a wilderness place for a life in quietude. Having received the blessing of the Monk Kornilii, the Monk Kirill left the monastery, in which he had grown strong spiritually, and he went off to the seacoast regions, roaming about through the forests and the wild places, eating tree roots and forest berries. In this difficult exploit of wanderer the saint spent about twenty years, and he went about on the outskirts of Moscow, and Novgorod and Pskov, but he never entered any house nor took alms. By day he wandered, nights he spent at prayer on church porches, and did not pass up the church services.
One time while at prayer, an heavenly light shone forth for the Monk Kirill, indicating the direction where he should found a monastery. He at once set off on his way, and having reached the Tikhvinsk monastery, he spent three days and three nights at it in incessant prayer to the MostHoly Lady Mother of God. In his sleep the Mother of God appeared to him. Showing Her approval of him, She said: "Thou pleaser of the MostHoly Trinity, My servant Kirill, go to the Eastern region of Beloozero (WhiteLake), and the Lord My Son wilt show thee the place of rest for thine old age".
The monk proceeded on to Beloozero, with tears of humility at the miraculous vision. On the lake he caught sight of a not-large island, from which a pillar of fire rose up to the sky. There, beneathe a many-centuries old spruce tree, Blessed Kirill built himself an hut and then he set up two cells: one for himself, the other for future brethren; the hermit also erected two small churches, one in honour of the Resurrection of Christ and the other in honour of the Mother of God Hodegetria ("Way-Guide"). He underwent many a temptation here from enemies invisible and from idlers roving about, but he overcame everything by brave endurance and constant prayer. News about his holy life spread everywhere, and brethren gathered about him.
There was many an instance of graced healing through the prayers of the monk, and the Lord granted His saint also the gift of foresight. Sensing his impending end, the monk summoned the brethren. With tears of humility the saint instructed his spiritual children one final time, until his voice gave out. For a long time then he was silent, but suddenly he cried out with loud sobbing. "I go off to the Lord into life eternal; ye however I do entrust to God the Word and His Grace, bestowing an inheritance and sanctification to all. May it help you. But I beseech ye, slacken not in fasting and prayers, guard yourself from the snares of the enemy, and the Lord in His ineffable mercy will not contemn your humility".
Having said this, the saint gave a final kiss to the brethren, communed the Holy Divine Mysteries, signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, and with the words "Glory to God for everything!", he gave up his pure soul on 4 February 1532.
The Monks Avraamii (Abraham) and Koprii of Pechengsk in 1492 founded the Saviour wilderness monastery at the River Pechenga, in Gryazovetsk district, 21 versts from Vologda. There was much work and need also to transport in the necessities to the wilderness spot, which was lacking in means, so as to build the monastery and set everything in proper order. The blessed toilers did not spare themselves, zealously asceticising right up to their very end.
The PriestMartyr Abraham, Bishop of Arbilia, suffered during a time of persecution against Christians in Persia under the emperor Sapor II. When they demanded the saint to renounce Christ and worship the sun, he answered: "How foolish to forsake the Creator and instead worship creatures! Is not the sun but a creation of my God?" After this, they fiercely beat and tortured him. During the time of torture Saint Abraham prayed, echoing the words of the Saviour: "Lord, impute not to them the sin, since they know not what they do!" The priestmartyr was beheaded by the sword in the village of Felman.
The Monk Nicholas the Confessor, Hegumen of the Studite Monastery, lived during the IX Century. He was born on the island of Crete in the village of Kedonia into a Christian family. At age 10 his parents sent him off to Constantinople to his uncle, Blessed Theophanes, who was a monk at the Studite monastery. On the approval of the Monk Theodore, the head of the Studite monastery, the lad was settled into the monastery school. And at the completion of school, when he was 16 years of age, he was tonsured a monk, and after several years was vouchsafed the dignity of priest.
During this time there raged a fierce persecution, initiated by the Byzantine emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820) against those that venerated holy icons, and the Monk Nicholas shared the fate of the Monk Theodore the Studite: they were repeatedly locked up in prison, tortured every which way, and insulted. They however zealously continued to spread Orthodoxy among the Christians. With the reign of the Blessed Empress Theodora (+ 867), ruling the realm while her son Michael was still in age a minor, icon-veneration was restored and there ensued a time of relative peace. The Monk Nicholas returned to the Studite monastery and was chosen its head. But the calm did not long continue. The Empress Theodora was stripped of rule, and there came to power the emperor's uncle, Bardas, -- a man defiling himself by open cohabitation with the wife of his son. The attempts of His Holiness Patriarch Ignatios to wield his spiritual power and restrain the impiety of Bardas proved unsuccessful. On the contrary, he was deposed from the patriarchal throne and sent off into exile. Not wanting to be a witness to the triumph of iniquity, the Monk Nicholas left Constantinople. He spent 7 years at various wilderness monasteries. Later on, as a prisoner, he was returned to the Studite monastery, where he spent two years imprisoned, right up to the death of the emperor Michael (855-867) and Bardas. With the ascent to the throne of the emperor Basil I the Macedonian (867-886), the Monk Nicholas was set free, and on the orders of the emperor again became hegumen. For his life as a confessor and ascetic he received from God the gift of healing, which did not cease even after his repose in the year 868.
The Holy Martyress Agatha was the daughter of rich and respected Christian parents from the city of Palermo (formerly called Panorum) in Sicily. During the time of the persecution under the emperor Decius (249-251), the city governor of Catana, Centianus, -- having heard about the wealth and beauty of Agatha, sent his soldiers after her to bring her to trial as a Christian. At Catana they housed the saint with a certain rich woman, who had five daughters. They all attempted to provide temptations for Saint Agatha by means of fine clothes, amusements and entertainment, urging her to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, but the saint would not give in to their tricks, and disdaining all the delights, she prayed the Lord to grant her the strength for the act of martyrdom. At the interrogation under Centianus, the holy martyress was swayed neither by the flattery, nor by the threats, and she was subjected to cruel jeering: they tore at her bosom with iron hooks, and finally, they cut off her breasts. In prison the holy Apostle Peter appeared to her and healed her of her wounds. Led again to torture, Saint Agatha astonished Centianus, in that her bosom was unharmed. They thereupon began to torture her anew. At this moment in the city there began an earthquake, and the earth opened up and swallowed the closest companions of Centianus. The terrified inhabitants rushed to Centianus, demanding that he stop the tortures. Fearing a revolt by the people, Centianus sent Saint Agatha back to prison, where the martyress, in offering up thanks to God, peacefully gave up her soul to the Lord.
Sainted Theodosii (Feodosii), Archbishop of Chernigov, was born at the beginning of the decade of the thirties of the XVII Century in Podol'sk governance. He was descended from an old court-nobility lineage, the Polonitsky-Uglitsky's. His parents were the priest Nikita and Maria. The piety prevailing within the family of the future saint contributed greatly to the spiritual growth of the boy. From childhood he distinguished himself with his gentleness and disposition towards prayer. The innate abilities of the youth came to light in the Kievo-Bratsk college at the Kiev Theophany monastery. This was a time of an extensive flourishing of the college (the end of the 1640's), when its rectors were the archimandrite Innokentii (Gizel'), and later the hegumen and afterwards archbishop of Chernigov, Lazar (Baranovich). Among its instructors were: the priestmonk Epiphanii (Slavinetsky), the priestmonk Arsenii (Satanovsky), the Belorus bishop Theodosii (Baevsky), the hegumen Theodosii (Saphonovich) and Meletii Dzik -- all these were indeed men of enlightenment for those times. The comrades of Saint Theodosii at the college were themselves to become future outstanding pastors: Simeon Polotsky, Ioannikii Golyatovsky, Antonii Radivillovsky, Varlaam Yasninsky. The Kievo-Bratsk Theophany school was at this time the chief centre in the struggle of Orthodoxy against the assaults of Catholic clergy, and Jesuits and Uniates.
The vocation of Saint Theodosii to the monastic life ultimately formed during his years of study: he devoted all his free time to prayer, meditation on God and the reading of Sacred Scripture.
It might be surmised, that the saint did not finish the full course of the college studies, since the school ceased its activity for several years following the devastating of Podolia by the Poles. The saint all his life had deep regard for the Kievo-Bratsk monastery that had educated him. In the Synodikon of the Kievo-Vydubitsk monastery is the following remark about Saint Theodosii: "He was a man of fine intellect and generous to the Kiev Bratsk monastery".
Upon receiving his education, the future hierarch accepted monastic tonsure at the Kievo-Pechersk Lavra with the name Theodosii, in honour of the Monk Theodosii (Feodosii) of Pechersk (Comm. 3 May) (worldly name unknown).
The Kiev metropolitan Dionysii (Balaban) made him archdeacon of the Kiev Sophia cathedral, and then appointed him administrator of the metropolitan cathedral house. But soon he left Kiev and resettled at the distant Krutitsk monastery (in Chernigov diocese), near the locale Baturino, which was famed for its strict monastic life. He was consecrated there to the dignity of priestmonk. In the year 1662 Saint Theodosii was appointed hegumen of the Korsunsk monastery in Kiev diocese, and in the year 1664 -- was made head of the ancient Kievo-Vydubitsk monastery. This monastery shortly before had fallen into the hands of the Uniates and was in complete ruin. But thanks to the energy and initiative of Saint Theodosii, the Vydubitsk Mikhailovsk monastery was quickly restored. He concerned himself in particular about the order of churchly property. He formed an excellent choir, which was famed not only in Little Russia, but also in Moscow, where Saint Theodosii in 1685 sent his singers. And concerning himself over the spiritual growth of the monastery inhabitants, being himself a strict ascetic, in 1680 the holy hegumen made on the island of Mikhailovschina, not far from the monastery, a small skete-monastery for brethren wishing solitude. He appointed there to organise and administrate it one of the most zealous monks of his monastery -- the priestmonk Job (Opalinsky).
In his role as hegumen of the Kievo-Vydubitsk monastery, Saint Theodosii had to live through some quite difficult days. He was accused together with other hegumens by Methodii, bishop of Mstislavsk and Orshansk, of betraying the Russian governance in a supposed correspondence with those treasonous to Russia. On 20 September 1668 Saint Theodosii had occasion to give an explanation in the matter. And on 17 November 1668 the slander unraveled, and Saint Theodosii together with the other hegumens received a pardon. His Grace Lazar (Baranovich) esteemed the high spiritual qualities of Saint Theodosii and befriended him. He called him "a sheep of the flock of Christ, teaching by humility", and he prophetically expressed the wish, that the name of Saint Theodosii might be inscribed in Heaven. When His Grace Lazar in 1689 became locum tenens of the Kiev metropolitan see, he appointed Saint Theodosii as his vicar in Kiev, while he himself remained at Chernigov. In his capacity as vicar of the locum tenens of the Kiev metropolitan see, Saint Theodosii had an active role in many a churchly event. In 1685 he participated with the right of a decisive vote in the selection of bishop Gedeon (Chetverinsky) as metropolitan of Kiev, and he was sent to Moscow with news of this event together with the Pereyaslavl' hegumen Ieronim (Jerome) (Dubin). In Moscow both representatives were received with honour and esteem. And indeed, the result of this delegation was the re-uniting of the Kiev metropolitan see with the Russian Orthodox Church.
In 1688 Saint Theodosii was appointed archimandrite of the Chernigov Eletsk monastery, replacing the deceased archimandrite Ioannikii (Golyatovsky). And from the time all the activity of the saint transferred over from Kiev to Chernigov. This appointment comprised primarily, in accord with the wishes of His Grace Lazar, that Saint Theodosii should spare no little toil over putting back the Eletsk monastery in good order, since this monastery had not yet been set aright after the expulsion of the Jesuits and Dominicans, and it was very much in bad shape and disorder. Through the efforts of Saint Theodosii, good results were achieved over the course of two or three years, which then fully guaranteed its existence. The saint in his new position also rendered all kinds of assistance to His Grace Lazar in all kinds of important matters. He participated in composing a conciliar reply to the Moscow Patriarch Ioakim in response to his letters questioning the attitude of the Kiev metropolitan see to the Council of Florence, and its judgement on the question of the transformation of the Holy Gifts as accepted by this Florentine Council. When the Patriarch proved to be unsatisfied by these answers, there was dispatched to him at the beginning of 1689 the Baturinsk hegumen Saint Dimitrii (Tuptalo) (the future metropolitan of Rostov). Saint Theodosii journeyed with him in the capacity of representative of His Grace Lazar. He was entrusted to present the Patriarch a letter of reply and to clear up the misunderstandings. On 11 September 1692 Saint Theodosii was solemnly ordained an archbishop in the Uspenie (Dormition) cathdral of the Moscow Kremlin.
Little in the way of an account of the governance by Saint Theodosii of the Chernigov diocese has been preserved. The saint directed special attention to the rousing and increase in the flock of a true Christian piety. With this end in mind he concerned himself with the upkeep of the old and the building of new monasteries and churches. At the very beginning of his episcopate, with his blessing, there was established the Pecheniksk women's monastery, and he himself consecrated the monastery church in honour of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God. In 1694, with his blessing, there was founded the Liubetsk skete-monastery, 2 versts from Liubech. In 1694 also the saint consecrated at the Domnitsk men's monastery a temple in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God. And in the Summer of 1695 he consecrated a majestic temple in honour of the MostHoly Mother of God, built on the summit of Boldinsk Hill, near the ancient Il'insk monastery. Under Saint Theodosii may be noted an especial enthusiasm and strengthening of monasticism in the Chernigov diocese. The saint also devoted great attention to the clergy, and he was a strict questioner in the selection of candidates for priesthood. He gave especial patronage to the Chernigov clergy school, he invited learned monks from Kiev, among whom was Saint John (Maksimovich), the future metropolitan of Tobol'sk, but likewise an helper and successor of Saint Theodosii in organising the Chernigov clergy school. Strict uprightness in regard to clergy and flock, deep compassion, concern and Christian love of peace were distinguishing features in the activity of Saint Theodosii. To him often turned not only the Orthodox for aid and advice, but even persons of other confessions.
But Saint Theodosii could not long sustain the Chernigov flock. Sensing the approach of death, he summoned to him the administrator of the Bryansk Svensk monastery, Saint John (Maksimovich), and elevated him from priestmonk to archimandrite of the Chernigov Eletsk monastery. In this new archimandrite he prepared beforehand his successor. On 6 February 1696 Sainted Theodosii died and was buried in the Chernigov Borisoglebsk cathedral church, beyond the right kleros-choir, in a special crypt made for this. His successor Sainted John (Maksimovich) later built over his grave a brick arch with an eulogistic inscription in verse, in gratitude for a miraculous healing from a grievous illness. The special granting of grace to which Saint Theodosii attained, is testified to by his ascetic life and his hidden help to all, who recourse to him in prayer.
The glorification of Saint Theodosii occurred on 9 September 1896.
The Holy Martyress Theodoulia lived in the city of Anazarua (Asia Minor) during the reign of the Roman emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (305-311). The governor of the city, Pelagios, was a very cruel man. His servants sought out Christians throughout the entire region and brought them to him for trial, at which they had read to them the imperial edict, and were demanded to worship idols. One time they brought to him a Christian woman named Theodoulia. (She feared not so much the tortures, as that she might be defiled by the pagans, and so she had offered them much gold. But the servants would not take the gold, and so they led her off to trial before the governor). Pelagios asked her name and he ordered her to worship the pagan gods; in case of her refusal he threatened her with cruel tortures. Saint Theodoulia answered: "I am a Christian. My very name means servant of the Eternal One, and so people call me Theodoulia. I worship the One True God and will not worship a mere stone".
Pelagios became furious and he gave orders to begin the tortures. The Lord granted Theodoulia His help, and she did not sense any pain. Pelagios however ascribed this to the workings of the gods, which it seemed had spared Theodoulia in the hope, that she would turn to them.
Saint Theodoulia said to the governor: "Where art thine gods, which do spare me, show me them, that I might offer up honour to them". They brought her into the temple of the ["deified" deceased Roman emperor] Adrian, whom they esteemed as a mighty god. The saint however, in praying to the One True God, only but blew a breath at the idol, and it crumbled down into dust. Seeing this, Pelagios was atremble with fright. If a report about the destruction of the idol were to reach the emperor, he himself would be thrown for devouring by wild beasts. He fell down sobbing at the feet of Saint Theodoulia, begging her to restore the idol from its dust, and promising for this to accept Christianity.
The saint made fervent prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the idol, whole and intact, again stood in its place. The governor Pelagios however not only did not fulfill his promise to become a Christian, but with an even greater fury instead he began anew to torture the martyress. At the time of these torments a certain fellow named Helladios came up to the governor, and looking at the captives, he asked to be given the maiden Theodoulia, promising to make her worship the pagan gods, doing this because he wanted to ingratiate himself with the city governor and receive honours.
Helladios subjected Saint Theodoulia to harsh torments, exceeding in cruelty even Pelagios himself. The saint however prayed to God, that He might send down on her the ability to persevere. She immediately received help from God and was healed. The tormentor was awestruck, and Saint Theodoulia turned to him with words of admonition. "Become thou a Christian, -- she said to him, -- to attain instead to honours eternal in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who shalt judge both the living and the dead and render to each according to his deeds". Thus by her prayers and her precepts Saint Theodoulia led Helladios to the knowledge of truth; he believed in Christ and confessed the True God in front of the governor. For this he also accepted the crown of martyrdom. They cut off his head with a sword, and threw his body into the sea.
Saint Theodoulia was thrown into a blazing oven, but she remained unharmed. After this they stretched her on a sort of frying-pan, they poured on boiling tar, wax and oil, but the red-hot plate shattered into pieces, and the fire scorched many people, including the city governor Pelagios, who indeed died a death of fright, but Saint Theodoulia again remained unharmed.
In view of such a miracle with such an extraordinary result, many of the people believed in Christ, among which were the respected citizens Makarios and Euagrios. The pagans all the more fiercely continued to torture Christians. They fired up an oven and threw into it Saint Theodoulia, Makarios, Euagrios and many others who believed in Christ. With prayer on their lips they all accepted a martyr's death and were translated into life immortal.
The Monk Bukolos, Bishop of Smyrna, was a disciple of the holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, and was established by him as the first bishop of the Smyrna Church (Asia Minor).
By the grace of God, Saint Bukolos converted to Christ and baptised many of the pagans, and as an experienced and wise guide he defended his flock from the darkness of heresy. He died at peace in about the years 100-105. He passed his flock on to Saint Polycarp (Comm. 23 February), one of the apostolic fathers, who likewise was a disciple of the holy Apostle John the Theologian. At the grave of Saint Bukolos grew a myrtle tree, which healed the sick.
The Monks Barsonophios the Great and John the Prophet lived during the VI Century during the reign of the emperor Justinian I (483-565). They pursued asceticism at the monastery of Abba Serid in Palestine, near the city of Gaza.
The Monk Barsonophios was born in Egypt (the year of his birth is unknown). From his youthful years he began to lead an ascetic life. It is known, that having arrived at the monastery of Abba Serid, he constructed himself a small cell aside the monastery (cells in the East frequently were dug out in the form of a cave).
Later on in this cell the Monk John, -- disciple of the Monk Barsonophios, lived for 18 years until his death. The Monk John imitated his teacher in silence, ascetic deeds and acquired virtues. For his gift of perspicacity he received the appelation "Prophet".
The Monk Barsonophios after a certain while passed on to another cell, also near the monastery. For complete solitude he withdrew himself from people, seeing no one, eating only bread and water, and he dwelt for 50 years in work and ascetic deeds. When the Patriarch of Jerusalem Eustokhios heard about the ascetic, the manner of life of the Monk Barsonophios appeared to him unbelievable. He decided to see for himself. For this he arranged to enter the cell of the monk unexpectedly. But those attempting to make the climb into the narrow quarters of the saint were singed by flames spewing forth. In his hermitage the Monk Barsonophios gave himself over entirely to prayer, and he attained an high degree of spiritual perfection. Accounts are preserved in manuscripts about the life, the deeds and graced talents of Saints Barsonophios and John. During the lifetime of the Elder Paisii, they were translated into the Moldavian and Slavonic languages. The publication of these manuscripts, and also their translation into the Russian language, was realised during the XIX Century by the startsi-elders of the Vvedenie-Visitation Optina Monastery. The precepts of the Monks Barsonophios and John show clearly the degree of their moral perfection, their love towards people, but it holds scant facts about their lives. We do not know exactly when the Monk Barsonophios died: some sources say the year of his death was 563, others say more cautiously -- before the year 600. Having spent a long time in seclusion, the Monk Barsonophios thereafter and until the death of the Monk John the Prophet, -- about which Abba Dorotheos (Comm. 5 June) testifies, began to serve people by instructing on the path to salvation. It is known, that Saint Barsonophios transmitted his answers to questioners through the Monk John, sometimes instructing him to give the answers, or even through the hegumen Abba Serid, who wrote down the answers of the saint. In the answers of the Monks Barsonophios and John the Prophet, having become guides for the spiritual life not only for their contemporaries, but also for succeeding generations, it is clearly possible to see a gradual spiritual ascent "from power to power" of the monks. By deeds of fasting, silence, guarding the heart, and unceasing prayer, the Monk Barsonophios attained the heights of humility, reasoning and fiery love. The Lord gave him the gifts of perspicacity, foresight and wonderworking, and even the power by prayer to purify from sins the souls of people. Sometimes he took the sins of another upon himself. The monk knew the dispositions of hearts, wherefore he instructed in accord with the trend of thought of each person. By the Name of the Lord he resuscitated the dead, he cast out demons, he healed the hopelessly sick; things blessed by him bestowed help (for example, kukol' or furrow-weed took away the headache of a monk). Through the prayer of the Monk Barsonophios God sent rain upon the earth, withdrawing His wrath from the multitudes of the people, and predictions of the monk always happened. Thus, he predicted of a silent one from that monastery -- the Elder Euthymios, that he would be placed with him in a single grave, which indeed happened, and many other things. All these great talents the Monk Barsonophios acquired after many years of patiently enduring great temptations and illness. (Besides Barsonophios the Great, the Orthodox ascetic, there lived almost at the same time another Barsonophios -- an heretic and Monophysite. Sophronias, Patriarch of Jerusalem, spoke about him in his "Confession of Faith", sent to the Sixth OEcumenical Council).
When it was that he arrived at the monastery of Abba Serid, and also from whence was the Monk John the Prophet, remains unknown. Having followed the instructions of the Monk Barsonophios, John attained the heights of perfection, having become like his teacher in all things. But, through his humility, those turning directly to him with questions he dispatched to Abba Barsonophios. The Monk John foresaw and predicted much, thus even his own death, following after the death of Abba Serid. The young hegumen of this monastery -- Elian -- besought the monk to live on even though it be two weeks, to teach him the ustav-rule and the running of the monastery. The Monk John fulfilled his request and actually died after the two weeks. The Monk Barsonophios the Great survived his disciple and friend. We know about these two ascetics from the book, "Guidance towards the Spiritual Life of the Monastics Fathers Barsonophios the Great and John in Answers to the Questionings of Disciples". This book was known to many of the saints, living later in time, as evidenced by the wrings of the Monk Theodore the Studite (Comm. 11 November and 26 January), the priestmonk Nikon Chernogorets (+ 1060), the Monk Simeon the New Theologian (Comm. 12 March), and other Orthodox ascetics and writers (Euagrios).
The Holy Martyress Dorothea, together with the Martyresses Christina and Callista and the Martyr Theophilos lived in Caesarea Cappadocia and suffered under the emperor Diocletian in either the year 288 or 300.
Saint Dorothea was a pious Christian maiden, distinguished by her great beauty, humility, prudence, and wisdom bestown by God, which astonished many. Arrested upon orders of the governor Saprikios, she steadfastly confessed her faith in Christ and was subjected to tortures. Failing to break the will of the saint, the governor sent to her two women, the sisters Christina and Callista, who formerly were Christians, but in fearing the tortures they abjured Christ and began to lead impious lives. He ordered them to talk Saint Dorothea into offering sacrifice to the pagan gods. But just the reverse happened: persuaded by Saint Dorothea, that the mercy of God is granted to all that repent, they repented themselves and again were converted to Christ. For this they tied them back to back and burned them in a tar barrel. The holy sisters Christina and Callista died suffering, offering up a prayer of repentance to the Lord and atoning for the sin of apostacy.
Saint Dorothea was again subjected to tortures, and she very gladly endured them and accepted the death sentence. When they led the saint to execution, a certain student, (the Scholastic) Theophilos, with mockery said to her: "Bride of Christ, throw to me rose blossoms and apples from the garden of thy Bridegroom". In reply the martyress nodded to him. Before death, the saint requested time to pray. When she finished the prayer, an Angel appeared before her in the form of an handsome youth presenting her on a pure linen cloth three apples and three rose blossoms. The saint requested all these be handed over to Theophilos, after which she was beheaded by the sword. Having received the gracious gift, the recent mocker of Christians was shaken, and he believed in the Saviour and confessed himself a Christian. Subjected to cruel tortures because of this, Saint Theophilos accepted a martyr's death through beheading by the sword.
The relics of Saint Dorothea are located at Rome in a church in her name, and her head likewise is at Rome, in a church of the Mother of God at Trastevero.
The Holy Martyr Julian was a native of the Phoenician city of Emesa, and he suffered in the year 312 under the emperor Maximian. He was a skilled physician, and healed illnesses not only of body but also of soul, and he converted many people to faith in Christ the Saviour.
When they led away the holy Martyrs Bishop Sylvanus, Deacon Luke and the Reader Mokios (Comm. 29 February) -- to be devoured by wild beasts, Julian encouraged them and urged them not to fear death for the Lord. For this he was also arrested and locked up in a narrow cranny where they killed him, having pierced him in the head, hands and feet with long nails.
The Holy Virgin Martyress Fausta and with her, Euvilasias and Maximus, suffered during the time of the persecution against Christians by the emperor Diocletian in the city of Kyzika (Mezium), between the years 305-311.
Saint Fausta was raised by Christian parents and, early having been orphaned, she led a strict and virtuous life. The report about her as a Christian reached the governor, and the saint was sent to the 80 year old pagan-priest Euvilasias, to induce her into a renunciation from Christ. The saint bravely confessed her faith and was subjected to many cruel tortures, but strengthened by the Lord, she did not sense the pain. They locked her up in a wooden trunk, but the torturers got tired of trying to saw it and burn it in the fire: not only the holy martyress herself, but the truck also remained unharmed, guarded by Divine power. The pagan-priest Euvilasias was shaken by the evident and manifest power of God, he believed in the Saviour and confessed himself a Christian.
The eparch Maximus was sent to make inquiry into the matter for the emperor, and he began to torture the old man who had come to believe in Christ. Euvilasias turned to Saint Fausta and asked her to pray for him, after which he bravely endured the tortures. They gave Saint Fausta over for devouring by vultures, but the creatures would not touch her. Then they pierced her with nails in the head and other parts of her body and finally, they threw her into a boiling cauldron together with Saint Euvilasias. During this time the martyrs prayed for their torturers.
Having seen the faith and endurance of the saints and vouchsafed the heavenly vision, the eparch Maximus likewise was converted to Christ, and he prayed to God for the forgiveness of his sins, and having been thrown into the cauldron, in which Saints Fausta and Euvilasias suffered, he merited with them a martyr's end.
The Holy Virgin Martyresses Martha and Mary were sisters by birth, they lived in Asia Minor and were ardent in the desire to suffer for the Lord Jesus Christ. Once a pagan military commander marched past their house. The sisters went out to him and loudly declared that they were Christians. At first the commander paid no attention to them, but they persistently shouted after him, repeating their confession. Then they were both arrested together with their brother -- the lad Likarion. All three were put on crosses, and during the execution their mother came to them, encouraging them in their sufferings for Christ. The sisters were pierced with spears, and the lad Likarion was beheaded by the sword.
Sainted Photios, Patriarch of Constantinople, lived during the IX Century, and came from a family of zealous Christians. His father had died a martyr's death in defence of holy icons. Saint Photios received an excellent education and, having family relations with the imperial house, he occupied the position of first state secretary in the Senate. His contemporaries said of him: "He so distinguished himself with knowledge in almost all the secular sciences, that it rightfully might be possible to take into account the glory of his age and compare it with the ancients". The young successor to the throne, Michael, and the future Enlightener of the Slavs, the Equal-to the-Apostles Cyril, were taught the sciences by him. Deep Christian piety protected Saint Photios from being seduced with the charms of court life -- with all his soul he yearned towards monasticism.
In 857 the co-ruler with emperor Michael, Bardas, expelled Patriarch Ignatios from the Constantinople cathedra-see. The bishops, knowing the piety and extensive knowledge of Photios, informed the emperor about him as a man worthy to occupy the arch-pastoral throne. Saint Photios with humility accepted the proposal. Over the course of 6 days he was led through the hierarchical positions, and on the day of the Nativity of Christ he was ordained bishop with elevation to the patriarchal throne. Soon however there began discord within the Church, stirred up by the expulsion of Patriarch Ignatios from the cathedra. In the year 861 there was convened a Council for ending of the unrest, and at which was affirmed the deposition of Ignatios and the affirming of Photios as patriarch. Pope Nicholas I, the envoys of whom were present at this Council, hoped by affirming Photios as patriarch therein to subordinate him to his power, but not having received what he expected, he betrayed Photios with an anathema at a Roman Council. From that moment there began for Saint Photios, and lasting to the very end of his life, his opposition to the papal bullying and enroachment upon the Orthodox Church of the East. In 864 the Bulgarian land voluntarily converted to Christianity. The Bulgarian prince Boris was baptised as they proposed, by Patriarch Photios himself, after which Saint Photios dispatched an archbishop and priests for the Baptism of the Bulgarian people, and in the year 865 -- Saints Cyril and Methodios were dispatched for the preaching of Christ in the Slavonic language. But the partisans of the pope incited the distrust of the Bulgarians towards the preachers of the Eastern Church. The calamitous situation in Bulgaria because of an invasion by the Germans forced them to seek help in the West, and the Bulgarian prince turned to the pope with a request to send his bishops. Having arrived in Bulgaria, the papal legates began actively to affirm there Latin teachings and useages in place of the Orthodox. Saint Photios, being a firm defender of truth and denouncer of untruth, informed the Eastern Church by means of a circular letter about the deeds of the pope, indicating that the falling away of the Roman Church from its ancient Orthodoxy was not only in rituals, but also in confession of faith. A Council was convened, censuring the arrogance of the West.
In 867 Basil the Macedonian seized the imperial throne, having murdered the emperor Michael. Saint Photios denounced the murderer and did not permit him to partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. For this he was removed from the patriarchal throne and locked up in a monastery under guard. In his place was again put Patriarch Ignatios. A Council was convened for an investigation into the conduct of Saint Photios: this Council was made with the participation of papal legates, who demanded of the Council the signing of a document about the unconditional subordination of all the Church to the judgement of the pope. The Eastern bishops, not in agreement with this, entered into an argument with the legates. Summoned to the Council, Saint Photios answered all the accusations of the legates with silence, and only to the question of the judges as to whether he wished to repent, did he reply: "Wherefore do ye consider yourselves judges?" The opponents of Photios after long disputes gained the victory, and their judgement being baseless, they pronounced an anathema upon Patriarch Photios and the bishops defending him. The saint was sent to prison for 7 years, and by his own testimony, "he thanked the Lord, for patiently enduring His judges...".
During this period of time the Latin clergy were expelled from Bulgaria because of the arrogance of the pope, and Patriarch Ignatios sent there his bishops. In 679, after the death of Patriarch Ignatios, there was convened a Council (many fathers of the Church call it the Eighth OEcumenical), and again Saint Photios was acknowledged as the lawful pastor of the Church. Pope John, knowing Photios personally, through his envoys declared at the Council the annulling of all the former papal decisions about Photios. The Council acknowledged the inalterable invariability of the Nicean-Constantinople Creed, rejecting the Latin distortion ("filioque"), and it acknowledged the independence and equality of both thrones and both Churches (Western and Eastern). The Council decided to abolish in Bulgaria church useages and rituals introduced by the Latins, which ended their governance there.
Under emperor Basil's successor, Leo, Saint Photios again suffered through false denunciations, being accused of speaking against the emperor. Again deposed from his cathedra-see in the year 886, the saint finished his days at the Armoneia monastery in 891.
The Orthodox Church venerates Saint Photios as a zealous defender of the Orthodox East from domination by the pope, and as a theologian, leaving behind him various works, exposing the errors of the Latins, refuting various heresies, explicating Holy Scripture, and exploring various topics of the faith.
The Monk Arsenios of Ikaltoi was descended from the Gruzian/Georgian princely line of the Vachnadze. He was born in Kakhetia (Eastern Gruzia), -- according to certain sources, in the village of Ikaltoi. Raised by pious parents, the Monk Arsenios distinguished himself from childhood by his love for church services and prayer. He received religious education at the Constantinople academy, where he studied not only the theological, but also the natural sciences.
At the completion of academy he accepted monasticism and bore obedience in one of the Gruzian monasteries of the Black Hill (near Antioch) under the guidance of Saint Ephrem Mtsira (+ 1101, Comm. 18 January). Here the Monk Arsenios zealously occupied himself with theological and translating activity, investigating in particular the causes of the breaking away of the non-Chalcedonian Churches from Orthodoxy.
To Saint Arsenios belongs the translation into the Gruzinian language of the "Great Nomocanon" of Saint Photios, Patriarch of Constantinople (857-867, 887-886), the "Golden Nectar" of Saint John Damascene, and also the compiled collection of translated works in the "Dogmatikon" with commentaries, directed against various heretical teachings. After the death of his teacher, the Monk Arsenios returned to Constantinople and continued his teaching activities.
Defending the purity of Orthodoxy, the Monk Arsenios while still during his lifetime gained fame for his instructive encyclopedia (theology, philosophy, philology, logic, physics, anatomy, poetics). Upon the invitation of the Gruzian emperor David III the Restorer (1089-1125), he returned to Gruzia in the year 1114 and for a certain while taught at the Gerat academy (Western Gruzia). Then the Monk Arsenios headed the founding, under his active participation, of the Ikaltoi academy (where he was born in Kakhetia, in the village of Ikaltoi, at the monastery of the Saviour Image-not-Wrought-by-Hand, during the years 1114-1120). At this academy, by tradition, he taught the great Gruzian poet Shota Rustaveli.
The Monk Arsenios was one of the initiators and an active participant of a Church Council in the Armenian city of Ano; under his influence part of the Armenian Monophysite bishops inclined towards an acceptance of Orthodoxy. Over the course of many years the Monk Arsenios was priest for the holy emperor David III the Restorer and by his good counsels contributed immensely to the enlightenment of the Gruzian Church. His astute intelligence and spiritual wisdom, the purity and righteousness of his life, are esteemed holy by the Gruzian Orthodox Church. The memory of the Monk Arsenios of Ikaltoi is celebrated on 6 February, the day of his blessed death.
Sainted Parthenias, Bishop of Lampsaka, was a native of the city of Melitopolis (Asia Minor), where his father Christopher served as deacon. The youth was not learned at grammar, but he well assimilated the Holy Scripture by being present in church for Divine-services. He possessed a good heart, and the money he earned working as a fisherman he distributed to the poor. Filled with the grace of God, Saint Parthenias from age 18 in the Name of Christ healed the sick, cast out demons and worked other miracles. Learning about the virtuous life of the youth, the Melitopolis bishop Philip gave him an education and ordained him presbyter. In the year 325 during the reign of Constantine the Great, the Kysikhos archbishop Achilles made him bishop of the city of Lampsaka (Asia Minor). In the city were many pagans, and the saint fervently began to spread the faith in Christ, affirming it by the will of God through many miracles and healings of the sick. The people began to forsake their pagan manners of belief, and the saint then went to the emperor Constantine the Great with a petition to tear down the idolous pagan-temple and build in its place a Christian church. The emperor received the saint with honour, gave him the edict for the destruction of the pagan-temple, and furnished him means for the building of a church. Returning to Lampsaka, Saint Parthenias gave orders to tear down the idolous pagan-temple and to erect amidst the city a beautiful church of God.
Having found in one of the torn-down temples a large stone suitable to be made the holy altar-table in the church, the saint gave orders to set to work about it and move it for the construction of the church. Through the malice of the devil, which became enraged at the removal of the stone from the pagan-temple, the cart overturned and killed the driver Eutykhion. Saint Parthenias restored him to life by his prayer and shamed the devil, who wanted to frustrate the work of God.
The kindly saint was so great, that he refused healing to no one of the multitude coming to him or who chanced to meet him by the wayside, whether suffering bodily illnesses or afflicted with unclean spirits. People even stopped going to physicians, since Saint Parthenias healed all the sick for free, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. With the great power of the Name of Christ the saint banished an host of demons from people, from their homes, and from the waters of the sea. When the saint cast out a devil from a certain man, who had been afflicted by it since childhood, the unclean spirit began to implore the saint to give him another place of habitation. The saint promised to indicate such a place and, having opened his mouth, said to the demon: "Come and dwell in me". The demon, as though stung by fire, cried out: "How canst I go into the house of God?", and vanished off into places desolate and untrodden. An unclean spirit, cast out from the house where the imperial porphyry-dye was prepared, cried out for everyone to hear, that a Divine fire was pursuing him with the fire of Gehenna.
Thus, have shown people the great power of faith in Christ, the saint converted a multitude of idol-worshippers to the true God.
Saint Parthenias died peacefully and was solemnly buried alongside the cathedral church of Lampsaka, in a chapel built by him.
The Monk Luke of Hellas was a native of the Greek village of Kastoria. The son of poor farmers, the saint from childhood had toiled much, working in the fields and shepherding the sheep. He was very obedient to his parents and very temperate in eating. He often gave the poor his own food and clothing, for which he suffered reproach from his parents. Once he gave to the poor almost all the seed which was needed for planting in the fields, but the Lord rewarded him for his charity: the harvest gathered was greater than formerly.
While still a youth he prayed both often and fervently. His mother more than once saw him during the time of prayer standing, not on the ground but in the air.
After the death of his father, he went off secretly from his mother to Athens, where he entered a monastery. But through the prayers of his mother, who was very anxiously concerned about him, the Lord in miraculous manner returned him to his parental home. He spent a whole four months there and having comforted his mother, with her blessing he went off to a solitary place on Mount Joannikes. Here there was a church in the name of the holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian, at which he pursued asceticism in constant prayer and fasting. He accepted monastic tonsure there from elders on pilgrimage. After this Saint Luke redoubled his ascetic efforts, for which the Lord granted him the gift of foresight.
After a seven year sojourn on Mount Joannikes, the monk resettled at Corinth because of an invasion of Bulgarian armies. Hearing about the exploits of a certain pillar-dweller at Patras, he journeyed off to him and for 10 years he served the ascetic with humility and obedience. Afterwards, the saint returned again to his native land and again began to pursue asceticism on Mount Joannikes.
The throngs of people flocking there disturbed his quietude, and with the blessing of his elder Theophylaktos, the Monk Luke set off with his disciple to a still more remote place at Kalabios, and from there after three years because of an invasion of Arabs he settled on the desolate and arid island of Ampilos. A later place of his ascetic efforts was Stirea (Soterieia). Here brethren gathered to the monk, and there emerged a small monastery, the church of which was dedicated to the GreatMartyress Barbara. Dwelling in the monastery, the monk worked many miracles, healing sicknesses both of soul and of body. Foreseeing his end, the saint confined himself in a cell and for three months prepared himself for his departure. To the question of where to bury him, the monk answered: "Throw my body for the devouring by beasts". When the brethren besought him to change his final instructions, he commanded them to bury his body on the spot where he lay. With the words: "Into Thine hands, O Lord, I give up my spirit!" -- the Monk Luke reposed in the Lord on 7 February 946. Afterwards on the place of his burial was erected a church, and from his holy relics flowed myrh and many healings occurred.
The Holy Martyrs, Suffering at Nikomedia, were servants of the four dignitaries Bassos, Eusebios, Eutykhios and Basilides, who together with their wives suffered for Christ (Comm. 5 January) in the year 303 during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305).
After the death by martyrdom of their masters, the servants decided to follow their example and they too confessed themselves Christians before Diocletian. Unswayed neither by persuasion nor promises nor rewards, they all -- 1003 men, with women and small children, were cut down by soldiers surrounding them in a tight circle, such that none of them remained alive.
The GreatMartyr Theodore Stratelates came from the city of Euchantum. He was endowed with many talents and an handsome appearance. For his charity God enlightened him with the perfective knowledge of Christian truth. The bravery of the saintly soldier became known to many after he, with the help of God, killed a giant serpent living on a precipice in the surroundings of the city of Euchantum. The serpent had devoured many people and animals, holding in terror all the surrounding countryside. Saint Theodore, having armed himself with a sword and a prayer to the Lord, vanquished it, glorifying amongst the people the Name of Christ. For his bravery Saint Theodore was appointed military-commander (stratelatos)in the city of Heracleium, where he as it were carried out a dual obedience, combining his official military service with an apostolic preaching of the Gospel among the pagans subject to him. His ardent persuasion, reinforced by his personal example of Christian life, turned away many from the pernicious "false-gods". Soon nearly all of Heracleium had accepted Christianity.
During this time the emperor Licinius (307-324) began a fierce persecution against Christians. Wanting to decapitate the new faith, he resorted to making persecution against the enlightened adherents of Christianity, in which not without foundation he saw as the fundamental threat to the dying paganism. Among such was also Saint Theodore. The saint himself invited Licinius to Heracleium, having promised him to offer a sacrifice to the pagan gods. To make this splendid ceremony, the saint requested to be gathered up at his house all the gold and silver statues of the gods which they had in Heracleium.
Blinded by his hatred for Christianity, Licinius trusted the words of the saint. But his expectations were cheated: having seized hold of the statues, Saint Theodore smashed them into pieces which he then distributed to the poor. Thus he shamed the vain faith in soulless idols and literally on the shards of paganism he affirmed the laws of Christian charity. Saint Theodore was arrested and subjected to fierce and refined torture. The witness was the servant of Saint Theodore -- Saint Varos, who barely found in himself the strength to write down the incredible torments of his master. Sensing the nearness of death, Saint Theodore yet turned to God with a last prayer, saying: "Lord, Thou hast told me formerly, I am with thee, wherefore dost Thou now abandon me? Behold, O Lord, how the wild beasts do tear at me on account of Thee, my eyes are gored out, my flesh lacerated with wounds, the face is smashed and teeth broken, and they have my bared bones on a cross: remember me, O Lord, having suffered a cross on account of Thee, the iron and fire, and being raised up on nails for Thee: wherefore accept my spirit, since my life doth expire". God however, by His great mercy, willed that the end of Saint Theodore should be as fruitful for those near him as was his life: He healed the bruised body of the saint and brought him down from the cross, on which he had been left all night. In the morning the imperial soldiers found him alive and unharmed; persuaded in their own eyes of the infinite might of the Christian God, they right there, not far from the place of the unsuccessful execution, accepted holy Baptism. Thus Saint Theodore became "like a day of splendour" for those pagans dwelling in the darkness of idol-worship and he enlightened their souls "with the bright rays of his suffering". Not wanting to flee a martyr's death for Christ, Saint Theodore voluntarily gave himself over into the hands of Licinius, preventing the people believing in Christ from rising up against the torturer, with the words: "Beloved, halt! My Lord Jesus Christ, hanging upon the Cross, held back the Angels and did not permit them to take revenge on the race of man". Going to execution, the holy martyr with but a word opened up the prison doors and liberated those locked up from their bonds. The people also who touched at his robe were restored of body, healed instantly from sicknesses and freed from demons. By order of the emperor, Saint Theodore was beheaded by the sword. Before the death by execution he told Varos: "Neglect not to write down the day of my death, and put my body in Euchantum". Together with these words he asked for an annual remembrance. Then, having said "amen", he bent his neck beneathe the sword. This occurred on 8 February 319, on a Saturday, at the third hour of the day.
The Prophet Zechariah (Zakhariah) the Sickle-Seer from amongst the 12 Minor Prophets was descended from the Levite tribe, called in the Book of Nehemiah-Ezra the chief priestly lineage. He was called to prophetic service at a young age and became, in the wondrous expression of churchly song, "a spectator of supra-worldly visions". In particular within the Book of the Prophet Zechariah there is contained inspired details about the coming of the Messiah (6: 12); about the last days of the earthly life of the Saviour, and about the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem on a young donkey (9: 9); about the betrayal of the Lord for 30 pieces of silver and the purchase with them of the potter's field (11: 12-13); about the piercing of the side of the Saviour (12: 10); about the scattering of the apostles from the Garden of Gethsemane (13: 7); about the sun's eclipse at the time of the sufferings on the Cross of the Saviour (14: 6-7). "Enlightened by dawnings all above", the Prophet Zechariah "saw the future as the presently existing". According to tradition, this "most true God-proclaimer" lived to old age and was buried not far from Jerusalem, alongside his illustrious contemporary and companion the Prophet Haggai. The title "Sickle-Seer" given Zechariah is connected to one of the revelations to him, in which he saw a scroll flying in the air, curved to the likeness of a menacing sickle (5: 1-2).
The Holy Martyr Nicephoros lived in the city of Syrian Antioch. In this city lived also the presbyter Sapricios, with whom Nicephoros was very friendly, such that they were considered like kindred brothers. Through the onset of a disagreement they quarreled, and their former love changed into enmity and hate. After a certain while Nicephoros came to his senses, repented of his sin and more than once through mutual friends asked forgiveness of Sapricios, who did not wish to forgive him. Nicephoros then went himself to his former friend and fervently asked forgiveness, but Sapricios was adamant. At this time the emperors Valerian (253-259) and Gallius (260-268) started up persecutions against christians, and one of the first taken before the judgement court was presbyter Sapricios. He firmly confessed himself a Christian, underwent tortures for his faith and was condemned to death by beheading with a sword. When they took him to execution, Nicephoros tearfully entreated his forgiveness, calling on him as an holy martyr who would soon stand before the Lord and receive of Him a crown.
But presbyter Sapricios remained hardened of heart and even before death he refused to forgive his brother-christian. Because of this the Lord withheld His blessing from Sapricios, having formerly strengthened him during the time of enduring torture; but now, having nearly reached the blessed end of his ordeal, he suddenly became afraid of death and consented to offer sacrifice to idols. In vain did Saint Nicephoros tearfully urge on Sapricios, that he not destroy himself by apostasy, since already he was standing at the threshold of the Heavenly Kingdom. Saint Nicephoros then said to the executioner: "I am a Christian and I believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom Sapricios hath recanted. Execute me in place of Sapricios". The executioners reported about this to the governor. He issued an edict: to free Sapricios, and in place of him to behead Nicephoros with a sword. Thus did Saint Nicephoros receive his martyr's crown.
The Monk Gennadii of Vazheozersk was the son of rich parents but, having given away everything, he became a disciple and novice under the monk Alexander of Svir' and pursued asceticism with him as an hermit at the river Svira. Afterwards, with blessing of the monk Alexander, he went to Vazheozersk, located 12 versts from the Svir' monastery. And here, having built a cell, he spent his solitary ascetic life with two of his disciples.
Before death the monk Gennadii told his disciple: "At this place shalt be a church and monastery". The ascetic reposed on 8 January 1516.
The Monk Nikiphor of Vazheozersk came to the monk Alexander of Svir' (Comm. 17 April) in the year 1510 and was warmly received by him. In 1518 he made a visit, with the blessing of his mentor, to Kirill of Novoezersk (Comm. 4 February). When Nikiphor approached New-Lake (ie. Novo-ezero), he was fatigued by his long journey and laid down in the darkness and fell asleep. Saint Kirill through his perspicacity hastened by boat to row across the lake and awoke him. The monk Nikiphor spent eight days in spiritual conversation with the saint. Nikiphor then journeyed to Kiev to venerate the relics of the Pechersk saints.
Upon his return, and with the blessing of the monk Alexander, he settled at Vazheozersk, -- there where the monk Gennadii pursued asceticism. Saint Nikiphor raised up the Church of the Transfiguration and a monastery there, in which he established community life, and pursued asceticism until his own death.
In the second half of the XIX Century in the Zadne-Nikiforovsk wilderness was built a church in the name of the monks Nikiphor and Gennadii of Vazheozersk. The relics of the saints were put to rest under a concealed place in the monastery established by them.
The PriestMartyrs Marcellus, Philagrios and Pankratios were disciples of the holy Apostle Peter and were made bishops by him: Saint Marcellus -- of Sicily, Philagrios -- of Cyprus, and Pankratios -- of Tauromeneia. For spreading the faith of Christ amongst the pagans they received a martyr's end.
The PriestMartyr Charalampios, Bishop of Magnezia, the Martyrs Porphyry and Baptos and the Three Martyresses suffered in the year 202.
Saint Charalampios, bishop of the Thessalonian city of Magnezia (northwest region of Greece), successfully spread faith in Christ the Saviour. News about his preaching reached the governor of the district Lucian and the military-commander Lucius. The saint was arrested and brought to trial, where he firmly confessed his faith in Christ and refused to offer sacrifice to idols. Despite the decrepit age of the bishop (he was already 113 years of age), they subjected him to monstrous tortures: they lacerated his body with iron hooks, while they scourged all his skin from head to foot. During this the saint turned to his tormentors: "I bless you, brethren, ye have restored my spirit!"
Having seen the endurance of the elder and his complete lack of malice, two soldiers -- Porphyry and Baptos openly confessed Christ, for which they were immediately beheaded with a sword. Being present at the sufferings of bishop Charalampios were likewise three women who began to glorify Christ and were quickly martyred.
The enraged Lucius himself seized hold of the instruments of torture and began to tear at the priest-martyr, but suddenly his hand was cut off as though by a sword. Also arriving at the place of execution the governor spat in the face of the saint, and immediately he bent backwards. Then Lucius began to beseech the saint for forgiveness, and through his prayer both torturers at once received healing. During this a multitude of witnesses came to believe in Christ. Among them also was Lucius, who fell at the feet of the holy elder, begging forgiveness.
Lucian reported about the occurrence to the emperor Septimus Severus (193-211), situated at this time at Pisidian Antioch (western part of Asia Minor). The emperor gave orders to bring Saint Charlampios to him, and this was done with a stupid ferocity: they dragged the priest-martyr, having tied a rope to his beard. The emperor then gave orders to torture the bishop more intensely, and they began to burn at him with fire. But the Power of God aided to the saint, and he remained unharmed. Besides this, miracles were done through his prayer: he raised up a dead youth, and healed a demoniac tormented by devils for 35 years, so that the people in a multitude began to believe in Christ the Saviour. Even Galina the daughter of the emperor began to believe in Christ, and twice smashed idols in a pagan temple. By order of the emperor they beat the saint with stones about the mouth, and they wanted to set afire his beard, from which the flames went forth burning the torturer. Full of wickedness, Septimus Severus and his dignitary Crispus hurled blasphemy at the Lord, mockingly summoning Him to come down to the earth, and bragging of their own power and might. In wrath the Lord quaked the earth, great fear fell upon all, both the impious ones were suspended in mid-air held by invisible bounds, and only by the prayer of the saint were they put down. The dazed emperor was shaken in his former impiety, but again quickly fell into error and gave orders to torture the saint. And finally, he sentenced him to beheading with a sword. During the time of his final prayer, the saint was vouchsafed to behold the Saviour Himself and besought Him to grant that place where his remains would repose, in peace, would be fruitful for people, bringing forgiveness of sins and salvation. The Lord promised to fulfill the request and ascended to heaven, bearing with Him the soul of the priestmartyr Charalampios -- who through the mercy of God accepted a peaceful death before execution. The daughter of the emperor, blessed Galina, buried the body of the martyr with great honour.
The NobleBorn Princess Anna of Novgorod, spouse of GreatPrince Yaroslav the Wise, gave a true Christian upbringing to her children, marked by a strong faith in God, love of work, integrity and learning. Her son Mstislav became afterwards GreatPrince of Kiev, and her daughter -- queen of a West-European realm. The princess herself, having left the world, went into a monastery, where she finished her days in strict obedience and prayer in the year 1056.
The Monk Prokhor of Pechersk was a native of Smolensk and took vows in the Kievo-Pechersk monastery under the hegumen John (1089-1103). He was a great ascetic of strict temperance, -- in place of bread he used pigweed, from which he received the title "pigweed-eater". No one saw him regretful about this.
During the saint's life a famine befell Russia. Prokhor began yet more zealously to gather the pigweed and to prepare from it his "bread". Certain people followed his example, but they were not able to eat this food because of its bitterness. Prokhor distributed his bread from pigweed to the needy, and its taste was like of fine wheat. From this they noted the peculiarity -- the bread was tasty only when they gathered it with the blessing of the monk. This became known to the hegumen and the brethren, and the talk about Prokhor spread far and wide.
After a certain while there was no salt at Kiev, from which the people suffered greatly. Then the monk, having gathered ashes from all the cells, began to distribute it to the needy, and through his prayer the ashes became pure salt. At the promptings of the salt merchants, who reckoned on a profit, prince Svyatopolk confiscated from Prokhor his "stockpile". When they transported it to the princely court, everyone became convinced, that this was -- just regular ashes. But after three days, when Svyatopolk gave orders to discard it, and the monk blessed the people to take from the heap, the ashes were again changed to salt. This miracle reformed the fierce prince: he began to pray zealously, made peace with the hegumen of the Pechersk monastery and highly esteemed the monk Prokhor. When the last hour of the saint approached, the prince hastened to him leaving behind his retinue, although he had gone to war. He received his blessing and by his own hand took the body of the saint to the cave. Having returned, Svyatopolk easily gained victory over the Polvetsians, turning them to flight and capturing their supply carts. Such was the great power of the prayer of Saint Prokhor.
The monk died in the year 1107, and was buries in the Nearer Caves. His commemoration is also 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Monk Longin of Koryazhemsk at first pursued asceticism at the monastery of the monk Paul of Obnorsk, and then lived at the Borisoglebsk Sol'vychegodsk monastery. From there he settled with his friend Simon upwards about Vychegda towards the mouth of the Koryazhema river. Here, deep in the countryside, 10 versts from Sol'vychegod, the ascetics built cells and a chapel. When brethren gathered to him, they erected a church in the name of Saint Nicholas, and constructed a monastery (1535) in which the monk was hegumen. Near the church was located a well, dug out by the monk himself. After the death in 1540 his body was buried, in accord with his last wishes, nearby to the entrance to the church, and 16 years later was placed in the church itself. The memory of the monk Longin is done according to a special service, with a short writing of his life, compiled at a later time.
The Holy Virgin-Martyrs Hennatha, Valentina and Paula suffered in the year 308 under the emperor Maximian II Galerius (305-311). Saint Hennatha came from the city of Gaza (in the south of Palestine), Saint Valentina was a native of Palestinian Caesarea, and Saint Paula -- from the surroundings of Caesarea.
Saint Hennatha was the first to be brought to trial before the governor Fermilian, bravely declaring herself a Christian. They beat her, and then they suspended her from a pillar and began to scourge her.
Saint Valentina, accused of not worshipping the gods, was led to a pagan temple for an offering of sacrifice, but she bravely hurled a stone at the sacrifice and turned her back on the burning of it with fire. They mercilessly beat her and sentenced her together with Saint Hennatha to beheading with a sword.
Last of all there was brought Saint Paula, whom they subjected to many torments. She endured them however by the help of God with great patience and courage. Before death Paula gave thanks to the Lord for strengthening her in the deed, and having bowed to the christians present, bent her neck beneathe the sword.
The Sobor / Assemblage of Novgorod Sainted-Hierarchs is celebrated, besides 10 February, also on 4 October and on the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost. On 4 October 1439 Sainted John (+ 1186, Comm. 7 September) appeared to the then presiding Sainted-hierarch Evphymii (+ 1458, Comm. 14 March) and ordered him to establish a special panikhida -- in memory of those buried, at the Sophia cathedral, among the Russian princes and Novgorod archbishops and all the Orthodox Christians -- on the day of memory of the priest-martyr Hierotheos, Bishop of Athens. There was then uncovered the incorrupt relics of Sainted John (the account about whom is located under 7 September). Afterwards, as a measure of the glorification of the Novgorod hierarchs, there was established on the day the Sobor /Assemblage. E. E. Golubinsky writes about these sainted-hierarchs to the effect that, the time of their glorification remaining unknown, that he determined the date of their in-common celebration to the period between the time of the Moscow Sobor / Council of 1549 to the time of the formation of the Holy Synod (E. E. Golubinsky. History of the Canonisation of Saints in the Russian Church. M(oscow), 1903, p. 157).
In the Sobor / Assemblage of Novgorod Sainted-hierarchs is included: Sainted Joakim of Korsun, first bishop of Novgorod (988-1030); Sainted Luke the Jewish, bishop (1030, 1035? - 1060, + 15 October 1060); Sainted German, bishop (1078-1096); Sainted Arkadii, bishop (1157-1162, Comm. 18 September); Sainted Grigorii, archbishop (1187-1193, + 24 May 1193); Sainted Martyrii, archbishop (1193-1199, + 24 August 1199); Sainted Antonii, archbishop (1212-1220, 1226-1228; + 8 October 1231); Sainted Vasilii the Lame, archbishop (1331-1352, + 3 July 1352); Sainted Simeon, archbishop (1416-1421, + 15 June 1421); Sainted Gennadii, archbishop (1484-1504, Comm. 4 December); Sainted Pimen, archbishop (1553-1571); Aphonii, metropolitan (1635-1648, + 6 April 1653). The relics of these saints were buried or transferred to the Novgorod Sophia Cathedral (except for Saint German, Saint Gennadii and Saint Pimen, wherefore in some sources their names are not named amongst the Sobor).
The 4 October celebration was established in connection with the memory of the holy nobleborn prince Vladimir Yaroslavich of Novgorod (+ 1052), and the 10 February Sobor of Sainted-hierarchs is celebrated in connection with the holy nobleborn princess Anna of Novgorod (+ 1056). Besides those mentioned, sainted-hierarchs that have separate commemorations are: Sainted Nikita the Hermit, bishop (+ 1108, Comm. 31 January); Sainted Nyphontii, bishop (+ 1156, Comm. 8 April); Sainted John, archbishop (+1187, Comm. 7 September); Sainted Theoktist, archbishop (+1310, Comm. 23 December); Sainted Moisei, archbishop (+ 1362, Comm. 25 January); Sainted Evphymii, archbishop (+ 1458, Comm. 11 March); Sainted Jona, archbishop (+ 1470, Comm. 5 November); Sainted Serapion, archbishop (+ 1516, Comm. 16 March).
The PriestMartyr Blaise (Blasios), Bishop of Sebasteia, was known for his righteous and pious life. He was unanimously chosen by the people and ordained bishop of Sebasteia. This occurred during the reign of the Roman emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Licinius (307-324) -- fierce persecutors of Christians. Saint Blaise had to encourage his flock, visit the imprisoned, and give support to the martyrs.
Many hid themselves away from the persecutors by going off into desolate and solitary places. Saint Blaise likewise took the opportunity to hide himself away on Mount Argeos, where he asceticised in a cave. Wild beasts came up to him and meekly waited until the saint finished his prayer and gave them blessing; the saint likewise healed sick animals by laying his hands upon them. The refuge of the saint was discovered by servants of the governor Agricolaus, being in the area to snare wild beasts to use to tear apart the Christian martyrs. The servants reported to their master that Christians were hidden away on the mountain, and he gave orders to arrest them. But those sent out found there only the Sebasteia bishop. Glorifying God Who had summoned him to this exploit, Saint Blaise followed the soldiers.
Along the way the saint healed the sick and worked other miracles. Thus, a destitute widow complained to him of her misfortune: a wolf had carried off her only possession -- a small pig. The bishop smiled and said to her: "Weep not, thine piglet wilt be returned to thee...". And actually to the astonishment of everyone, the wolf came running back and returned his booty unharmed.
Agricolaus, greeting the bishop with words of deceit, called him a companion of the gods. The saint answered the greeting, but the gods he called devils. Then they gave him a fierce beating and led him off to prison.
On the next day they again subjected the saint to tortures. When they led him back to the prison, seven women went along behind and gathered up the drops of blood. These they arrested and tried to compel them to worship the idols. The women in pretending to consent to this said, that they needed cleansing beforehand in the waters of a lake. They took along the idols and submerged them in a very deep portion of the lake, and after this the Christians were fiercely tortured. The saints stoically endured the torments, strengthened by the grace of God, their bodies were transformed and became white like snow, and together with the blood there flowed what seemed like milk. One of the women had two young sons, who implored their mother that she help them attain the Kingdom of Heaven and she entrusted them into the care of Saint Blaise. The seven holy women were then beheaded.
Saint Blaise was again brought before Agricolaus, and again he unflinchingly confessed his faith in Christ. The governor gave orders to throw the martyr into a lake. The saint, going down to the water, signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, and he went about on it as though on dry land. Addressing the pagans standing about on shore, he challenged them to come to him whilst calling on the help of their gods. To this, 68 men of the governor's retinue made bold and entered the water, and all immediately drowned. The saint, however, heeding the Angel that had appeared to him, returned to shore.
Agricolaus was in a rage over having lost his finest servants, and he gave orders to behead Saint Blaise, and together with him the two boys entrusted to him, the sons of the martyress. Before death, the priestmartyr prayed for all the whole world, and especially for those honouring his memory. This occurred in about the year 316. The relics of the PriestMartyr Blaise were carried off to the West during the time of the Crusades, and portions of the relics are preserved in many of the lands of Europe [and his memory traditionally honoured there on 3 February].
Holy Nobleborn Prince Vsevolod of Pskov, in Baptism Gabriel (Gavriil), a grandson of Vladimir Monomakh, was born at and spent almost all his life in Novgorod, where in the years 1088-1093 and 1095-1117 his father ruled as prince. His father was the holy prince Saint Mstislav-Theodore (Feodor) the Great (+ 15 April 1132). In the year 1117, when Greatprince Vladimir Monomakh gave Mstislav Kievan Belgorod as his "udel" (land-holding), practically making him co-ruler, young Vsevolod remained as vicar of his father in the Novgorod principality.
Holy Prince Vsevolod did much good for Novgorod. Together with the Archbishop of Novgorod, Saint Nyphontii (Comm. 8 April), he raised up many a church, among which were -- the cathedral of the GreatMartyr George at the Yur'ev monastery, and the church of Saint John the Forerunner at Opokakh, built in honour of the "Angel" (i.e. "patron saint") of his first-born son John, who had died in infancy (+ 1128). In his Ustav (Law-code) the prince bestowed a grammota-deed of privileges to the cathedral of Saint Sophia and other churches. During the time of a terrible famine, to save people from perishing, he exhausted his entire treasury. Prince Vsevolod was a valiant warrior, he marched victoriously against the Yam (in 1123) and Chud peoples, but never did he brandish the sword for lucre or power.
In 1132, upon the death of holy Greatprince Mstislav, Vsevolod's uncle the Kiev prince Yaropolk Vladimirovich followed up the last-wishes of his brother and transferred Vsevolod Pereyaslavl'-South, then reckoned the eldest city after Kiev itself. But the younger sons of Monomakh -- Yurii Dolgoruky and Andrei Dobry, were apprehensive lest Yaropolk make Vsevolod his successor, and so they marched out against their nephew. Not wanting internecine strife, Saint Vsevolod returned to Novgorod, but was received there with disaffection. The Novgorodians reckoned, that the prince had been "raised" by them and should not earlier have left them. "Vsevolod did go to Rus', to Pereslavl', -- noted the Novgorod chronicler, -- and did kiss the cross against the Novgorodians, saying, "Ye I would kill"".
Striving to restore good relations with the Novgorodians, the prince in 1133 undertook a new victorious campaign against the Chud people, and he annexed Yur'ev to the Novgorod domain. But an harsh Winter campaign in 1135-1136 against Suzdal' ended unsuccessfully. The stubborn minded Novgorodians would not heed their chastisement by God, and they could not forgive the prince their defeat. The veche-assembly decided to summon a prince from the hostile Monomakh line of the Ol'govichei, and Saint Vsevolod they condemned to banishment: "Thou didst suffer banishment from thine own", -- is sung in the tropar to the saint. For a month and an half they held the prince with his family under guard at the archbishop's palace, and when prince Svyatoslav Ol'govich arrived, "he was expelled from the city".
Vsevolod went again to Kiev, and his uncle Yaropolk gave him as holding the Vyshgorod district near Kiev, -- the place where in the X Century during the rule of her son Svyatoslav had lived holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Greatprincess Olga (Comm. 11 July). Saint Olga, "well preferring the cities of Kiev and Pskov", came to the defense of her unrighteously wronged descendant: in the following year of 1137 the people of Pskov, mindful of the campaigns of the Novgorod-Pskov army under the lead of the prince, invited him to the Pskov principality, the native region of Saint Olga. This was the first Pskov prince, chosen through the will of the Pskov people itself.
Among the glorious works of holy prince Saint Vsevolod-Gabriel at Pskov was the construction of the first stone church in the Name of the Life-Originating Trinity, replacing a wooden one from the times of Saint Olga. On the icons of the saint they often depict him holding a temple "of That Above -- the Holy Trinity".
Saint Vsevolod ruled as prince at Pskov for only a year -- on 11 February 1138 he died, at age 46. All Pskov gathered at the funeral of the beloved prince, and the church singing could barely be heard over the people's wailing. The Novgorodians, in retrospect, sent off an archpriest from the Sophia cathedral to take his holy body back to Novgorod, but the prince had become loatheful of Novgorod, and the coffin would not move from the spot. Bitterly then did the Novgorod people bewail and repent in their misfortune, and they then besought to be given but a small bit of the holy dust "for upholding their city". Through their prayers fell out a fingernail from the hand of the saint. The Pskov people put Saint Vsevolod into the temple of the holy GreatMartyr Demetrios. Alongside the grave they placed the military armament of the prince -- shield and sword, in cruciform shape, with the Latin inscription to wit, -- "I give away mine honour to no one".
On 27 November 1192, the relics of holy Prince Vsevolod were uncovered and transferred into the Trinity cathedral, in which a chapel was consecrated in his honour.
On 22 April 1834, on the first day of Pascha, the holy relics were solemnly transferred into the main church-area of the cathedral.
The deep spiritual bond of the city of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Olga with holy Prince Vsevolod was never broken: he always remained a Pskov wonderworker. At the siege of Pskov by Stefan Bathory in 1581, when the fortress walls were already breached and the Poles were ready to rush into the city, from the Trinity cathedral with a church procession they brought to the place of battle the holy relics of Prince Vsevolod, and the enemy withdrew. And with the appearance of the wonderworking Pskovo-Pechersk Icon (Comm. 1 October), holy Nobleborn Prince Vsevolod-Gabriel has stood amidst the Heavenly defenders of Pskov.
The Monk Dimitrii of Prilutsk, Wonderworker, was born into a rich merchant's family in Pereyaslavl'-Zalessk. From the time of his youth the monk was uncommonly handsome. Having accepted monastic tonsure at one of the Pereyaslavl' monasteries, the saint later founded the Nikol'sk (Saint Nicholas) life-in-common monastery on the Borisoglebsk Hill at the shore of Lake Plescheevo near the city, and became its hegumen.
In 1534 Saint Dimitrii first met with the Monk Sergei Radonezh, who had come to Pereyaslavl' to bishop Athanasii. From that time he repeatedly conversed with the Monk Sergei and became close with him. The fame of the Pereyaslavl' hegumen so spread about, that he became godfather to the children of Greatprince Dimitrii Ioannovich. Under the influence of the Radonezh wonderworker, the Monk Dimitrii decided to withdraw off to a desolate place, and together with his disciple Pakhomii he set off North. In the Vologda forests, at the River Velika, in the Avnezhsk surroundings, they built a church of the Resurrection of Christ and they made ready to lay the foundations for a monastery. But the local inhabitants were fearful of losing out, and the wilderness-dwellers in their wish to be a burden to no one, set off further.
Not far from Vologda, at the bend of a river in an isolated spot, the Monk Dimitrii decided to form the first of the life-in-common monasteries of the Russian North. The people of Vologda and the surrounding gladly consented to help the saint. The owners of the land intended for the monastery, Il'ya and Isidor, even trampled down a grain field, so that a temple might be built immediately. In 1371 the wooden Saviour cathedral was erected, and brethren began to gather. Many a disciple of the monk came thither from Pereyaslavl'. The deep prayer and quite strict asceticism was combined in the Prilutsk hegumen with kindliness: he fed the poor and hungry, he took in strangers, he conversed with those in need of consolation, and he gave counsel. The monk loved to pray in private. His Lenten food was but prosphora with warm water, and even on feastdays he would not partake of the wine and fish permitted by the ustav-rule. Both Winter and Summer he wore only his old sheepskin coat, and into old age he went off with the brethren on common tasks. Contributions to the monastery the saint accepted cautiously, so that the welfare of the monastery be not to the impairment of those living nearby. The Lord vouchsafed His servant the gift of perspicacity. The Monk Dimitrii died at an advanced age on 11 February 1392. The brethren approaching found him as though asleep, and his cell was filled with a wondrous fragrance. Miracles from the relics of Saint Dimitrii began in the year 1409, and during the XV Century his veneration spread throughout all Rus'. And not later than the year 1440, based on the narratives of Saint Dimitrii's disciple the hegumen Pakhomii, the Prilutsk monk Makarii recorded his life (Great Reading-Menaion, 11 February).
The Righteous Empress Theodora was the wife of the Greek emperor Theophilos the Iconoclast (829-842), but she did not share in the heresy of her husband and secretly she venerated holy icons. After the death of her husband, when Saint Theodora governed the realm together with her in age minor son Michael, she restored the veneration of icons, bringing back the deposed holy Patriarch Meletios and convened a Council, at which the Iconoclasts were anathematised. And by her was started the celebration of this event -- the Triumph of Orthodoxy, which annually is celebrated on the 1st Sunday of Great Lent. Righteous Theodora did much for Holy Church and moreover nourished in her son Michael a firm devotion to Orthodoxy.
When Michael came of age, she was retired from governing and spent 8 years in the monastery of Saint Euphrosynia, in ascetic deeds and the reading of Divine books (a copy of the Gospels is known of, copied by her hand). She died peacefully in about the year 867.
In 1460 her relics were given off by the Turks to the people of the city of Kortsyra.
Saint Meletios, Archbishop of Antioch, was at first a bishop of Sebasteia in Armenia (c.357), and afterwards he was summoned by the emperor Constantius to Antioch to help defend against the Arian heresy, and received there the cathedra-seat.
Saint Meletios struggled quite zealously against the Arian error, but through the intrigues of the heretics he was thrice deposed from his cathedra-seat; Constantius had become surrounded by the Arians and had been swayed over to their position. In all this Saint Meletios was distinguished by an extraordinary gentleness, and he constantly led along his flock by the example of his own virtue and kindly disposition, presupposing that upon suchlike a soil sprouts more readily the seeds of the true teaching of the faith.
Saint Meletios was the one who ordained as deacon the future hierarch Saint Basil the Great. And Saint Meletios also baptised and encouraged the growth under him of another of the greatest luminaries of Orthodoxy -- Saint John Chrysostom, who afterwards wrote an eulogy to his former archpastor.
After Constantius, the throne was occupied by Julian the Apostate, and the saint again was expelled, having to hide himself away in secret places for his safety. But again returning under the emperor Jovian in the year 363, Saint Meletios wrote his theological tract, "Exposition of the Faith", which facilitated the conversion to Orthodoxy of many of the Arians.
In the year 381, under the emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395), the Second OEcumenical Council was convened. Already in the year 380 the saint had set off on his way to the Second OEcumenical Council at Constantinople, and came to preside over it. Before the start of the Council, Saint Meletios raised up his hand displaying three fingers, and then conjoining together two fingers and bending the one he blessed the people, proclaiming: "We apprehend three hypostatic-persons, and we speak about one self-same nature," -- and with this declaration of the saint there flashed the fire of a lightning-bolt. During the time of the Council Saint Meletios expired to the Lord. Saint Gregory of Nyssa honoured the memory of the deceased with an eulogistic word.
There are preserved discourses of Saint Meletios concerning the One-in-Essence nature of the Son of God with God the Father, and also his letter to the emperor Jovian about the confessing of the Holy Trinity. The relics of Saint Meletios were transferred from Constantinople to Antioch.
Sainted Alexei, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia the Wonderworker, (in the world Elevtherii), was born in the year 1292 (or by another source 1304) at Moscow into the family of the boyar-noble Theodore (Feodor) Byakont, a descendant of the Chernigov princely line.
The Lord early on revealed to the future saint his lofty destiny. At twelve years of age Elevtherii ha set a snare for the netting of birds, and imperceptibly he dozed off and suddenly he heard quite distinctly a voice: "Alexei! Why toilest thou in vain? Thou art to be a netter of people".From this day on the lad tended towards seclusion, he frequently visited church, and at age fifteen he decided to become a monk. In 1320 he entered the Moscow Theophany monastery, where he spent more than twelve years at strict monastic efforts. As guides for him and his companions there were the reknown ascetics of the monastery, the startsi-elders Gerontii and Stefan, brother of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh. Metropolitan Theognist then bade the future saint to leave the monastery and manage the juridical affairs of the Church. The saint fulfilled this office for 12 years as vicar of the metropolitan. Towards the end of 1350 Vladyka Theognist had Alexei ordained as bishop of Vladimir; upon the death of the metropolitan he became his successor in the year 1354. During this period the Russian Church was torn amidst great rifts and quarrels, in part because of the pretensions of the metropolitan of Lithuania and Volynia, Roman. In 1356, in order to put an end to the troubles and disturbances, the saint set off to Constantinople to the OEcumenical Patriarch. Patriarch Kallistos gave Saint Alexei the right to both be called and to consider himself Archbishop of Kiev and Great Russia with the title, "All-Venerable Metropolitan and Exarch". On the return journey during the time of a storm at sea the ship was in danger of shipwreck. Saint Alexei prayed and gave a vow to build a temple to the saint of that day, when the ship should come to shore. The storm subsided, and the ship arrived on 16 August. Moscow delightedly came out to meet the saint.
In spite of problems on every side, Saint Alexei concerned himself everywhere over his flock: he sent forth bishops, he established life-in-common monasteries (on the model of the Trinity Lavra, founded by the Monk Sergei), and he brought order to relations with the khans of the Horde. The saint himself occasioned more than once to journey to the Golden Horde. In 1357 the khan demanded of the greatprince, that the saint should come to him and heal the blindness of Taidul, his spouse. "The request and the matter is beyond my powers, -- said Saint Alexei, -- but I do believe in Him That gaveth the blind man to see, and that He shalt not disdain my prayers of faith". And actually, through his prayer, and being sprinkled with holy water, the wife of the khan was healed.
When Greatprince Ioann died, his young son Dimitrii (the future Donskoy), still in age a minor, was taken under the saint's guardianship. The holy vladyka had much toil in reconciling and appeasing princes obstinate against accepting the authority of Moscow. Nor did the metropolitan neglect the work of organising new monasteries. In 1361 he founded the Saviour Image Not-Wrought-by-Hand monastery at the Yauza in Moscow (the disciple of the Monk Sergei -- Andronikov by name -- was the first hegumen of the monastery), from the vow he had given back on his return journey from Constantinople, when the ship had suffered woe. There was also the Chudov monastery -- in the Moscow Kremlin; likewise, ancient monasteries were restored: the Annunciation monastery at Nizhni-Novgorod, and the Konstantino-Eleninsk [Constantine and Helen] at Vladimir. And in 1361 there was built a women's life-in-common monastery after his name (the Alekseev).
Saint Alexei reached the advanced age of 78, having spent 24 years upon the metropolitan cathedra-seat. He reposed on 12 February 1378 and was buried in accord with his last-wishes at the Chudov monastery. His relics were uncovered in a miraculous manner 50 years later, after which there began the veneration of the memory of the great Sainted-Hierarch and Man of Prayer for the Russian Land.
The Nun Maria (Marinos)and her father the Monk Eugene (Eugenios) lived at the beginning of the VI Century in Bithynia (northwest district of Asia Minor). Bereaved of his wife, Eugene decided to withdraw to a monastery, but his daughter did not want to be separated from him, and so she accompanied him, dressed as a man. Together they entered a monastery not far from Alexandria, and the daughter received the name Marinos.
"Brother" Marinos became much accomplished in virtue, and distinguished in humility and obedience. After several years, when the father of Saint Marinos died, she all the more intensified her ascetic efforts and received from the Lord the gift to heal those afflicted by unclean spirits.
One time the "Monk" Marinos was sent with other monks to the monastery gardens, and along the way they had to spend the night at an inn. The inn-keeper's daughter, having sinned with one of the lodgers, denounced the "Monk" Marinos and accused "him" as the culprit of her downfall. Her father complained to the hegumen of the monastery, who expelled the "sinful brother". The nun said not a word in her defense and began to live at the monastery wall. When the hapless girl gave birth to a boy, the inn-keeper brought it to Marinos, and without a word he abandoned his grandson and withdrew. The saint took the infant and began to raise it.
After the passing of three years the brethren besought the hegumen to take back the "Monk Marinos" into the monastery. The hegumen, who very reluctantly gave in to the requests, began to assign "brother Marinos" very burdensome obediences, which the nun fulfilled with the greatest of zeal, while attending to the raising of her foster-child.
Three years later the saint peacefully expired to the Lord in her cell. The brethren arriving saw the deceased "monk" and the boy crying over "him". When they began to dress the saint for burial, her secret was revealed. The hegumen of the monastery tearfully besought forgiveness of the departed, and the inn-keeper too followed his example. The body of Saint Maria was reverently buried in the monastery. The daughter of the inn-keeper came to the grave of the saint and openly confessed her sin, in connection with which she was healed from a demonic illness. The boy whom the saint was raising afterwards became a monk.
The relics of the saint were transferred to Constantinople, and from there in 1113 were carried off to Venice.
Sainted Anthony, Patriarch of Constantinople, was a native of Asia, but all his years from youth to his end were spent at Constantinople. He was born in about the year 829 of rich and pious parents. After the death of his mother, at age 12 he entered a monastery, where in copying the example of the hegumen, he spent his nights at prayer and led a strict monastic life. With the passage of time, and against his wish, he was ordained to the dignity of presbyter, and then on the bidding of the Patriarch he was made an hegumen. Serving in this dignity, he tonsured into monasticism his own father. Saint Anthony was distinguished by his mercy, by his love and concern for the destitute, and he distributed to them generous help.
Elevated to the Patriarchal throne at Constantinople in 893, Saint Anthony all the more intensified his care for the destitute and especial for the spiritual condition of the poor. With an assist on the part of the emperor Leo the Wise, Patriarch Anthony did much good for the Church. He concerned himself over the encouraging of piety in the people, and despite having become stooped over with the infirmities of age, he went around all the churches of his patriarchate, fulfilling the command of the Saviour -- to be the servant to all the brethren.
In the year 895, advanced in age, Saint Anthony peacefully expired to the Lord.
The Monk Vassian of Uglich was a disciple of the Monk Paisii of Uglich (+ 6 June 1504, Vide account about him under 6 June). He was born in the village of Rozhalov, situated in the Kesovsk district of the city of Bezhetsk Verkha. He was descended from the Shestikhin line of princes (their ancestor was the prince Saint Theodore (Feodor) of Smolensk, + 1299; the account about him is under 19 September).The Monk Vassian came to the Pokrov monastery when he was 33 years of age, and was soon tonsured by the Monk Paisii. He made his obediences without complaint and lived in great abstinence. In 1482 the Monk Vassian discovered the Pokrov Icon of the MostHoly Mother of God. Having spent 20 years at the monastery of the Monk Paisii, the Monk Vassian then asked blessing for the life of silence. His teacher gave him blessing, saying: "Go my child, guided by Christ with the blest yoke of the Lord as it pleaseth the Lord. Soon thou thyself shalt form thine own monastery and gather a monastic flock to the glory of the Name of the MostHoly Trinity".
In 1492 the Monk Vassian left the monastery and, having spent a certain while at the Nikolo-Uleimsk monastery, he went on to a remote place 30 versts to the south of Uglich and began to asceticise as an hermit. But soon people learned of his solitary habitation and began to come for advice and guidance. On a gift of land the monk established in 1492 a wooden church in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity, and soon there gathered those wishing monastic tonsure. The Monk Vassian did not cease his relationship with his teacher until the latter's end, at which he was present together with other disciples. Having dwelt for 17 years at the Trinity monastery, the Monk Vassian died on 12 February 1509. Three years later a certain fellow named Gerasim received at his grave healing from unclean spirits, and another fellow named Valerian -- healing from palsy. In 1548 the Monk Vassian was glorified at the uncovering of his incorrupt relics, over which was built a stone crypt. The memory of the Monk Vassian is made twice yearly: on the day of his repose, 12 February, and on 6 June in conjunction with his spiritual teacher the Monk Paisii of Uglich.
The Monk Martinian at age 18 settled into the wilderness, somewhat off from the city of Palestinian Caesarea, where he dwelt in ascetic deeds and silence for 25 years, and he was granted a graced gift of healing illness. But the enemy of the race of man would not stop bothering the hermit with various temptations. One time a profligate woman got into a wager with some dissolute people, as to whether she could seduce Saint Martinian, the fame of whose virtuous life had spread throughout all the city. She came to him at night-time under the guise of a wandering suppliant asking night lodging. The saint let her enter, since the weather outside was inclement. But here the wicked guest changed over into her good clothes and began to tempt the ascetic. The saint thereupon rushed out of the cell, set alight a fire and put his bare feet upon the burning coals. He said such as this to himself: "It is hard enough for thee, Martinian, to suffer this temporal fire, now then wilt thou instead suffer the eternal fire, prepared for thee by the devil?" The woman, shaken by the spectacle, became repentant and besought the saint to guide her onto the way of repentance. At his directing she set off to Bethlehem, to a monastery of Saint Paula, where she dwelt for 12 years in strict ascetic deeds until her blessed end. The name of this woman was Zoa.
Having recovered from his scorching, Saint Martinian set off to an uninhabited rocky island, and lived on it under the open sky for several years, nourished by the victuals brought by a certain sailor from time to time, and in return the monk weaved baskets for him.
One time a powerful storm wrecked a ship, and to the island of Saint Martinian the waves carried on the ship debris a maiden named Photinia. Saint Martinian helped her to survive the island. "Remain here, -- said he to her, -- for here is bread and water, and in two months a boat will come", -- and he jumped into the sea and swam off. Two dolphins carried him to dry land. Thereafter Blessed Martinian began to lead the life of a wanderer. And so passed two years. One time, having come to Athens, the saint fell ill, and sensing the nearness of his end, he went into church and lay upon the floor, and calling out to the bishop he besought him to give his body over to burial. This occurred in about the year 422.
The Blessed Maiden Photinia stayed living on the island, where she spent 6 years in solitude, and then she gave up her soul to God. Everything about her end was reported by that same sailor who brought her food, just as he had also previously for the Monk Martinian. The sailor conveyed the body of Blessed Photinia to Palestinian Caesarea, where it was solemnly buried by the bishop and clergy.
The memory of the Monastics Zoa and Photinia is celebrated on the same day together with that of the Monk Martinian.
The Monk Eulogios, Archbishop of Alexandria, was one of the enlightened and active hierarchs of the VI Century. At first he was hegumen of the Justinian Mother of God monastery in Antioch, and then he was chosen to the cathedra-chair of the city of Alexandria, where he served for 27 years. During all his years the saint struggled incessantly against various heresies. His activity is known of through his letters to Sainted Gregory Dialogus, an highly esteemed monk and pope.
The Monk Eulogios died in either the year 607 or 608. His writings are preserved particularly in quotations by Patriarch Photios, and they reveal an Orthodox teaching about the natures of our Lord Jesus Christ, and are directed against heresies of the time of Saint Eulogios. In complete form there has reached us only one of his sermons -- for Palm Sunday.
The Monk Simeon the Myrh-Exuding, Tsar of Serbia, was in the world the Great "Zhupan" (prince) of Serbia, and had the name Stefan Nemany (Nemanya). He lived during the XII Century. The prince toiled much for his fatherland: he united a large portion of the Serb lands and strove for the political independence of his country. He zealously defended his nation against the incursions of Latinism and heresies. At age 80 Stefan set off to Athos, where his son -- the Monk Savva (Comm. 12 January), was glorified by holiness of life. Together there they restored the desolate Khilendaria monastery, to which monks from various lands began to gather. Saint Simeon was a great ascetic and wise guide for the monks. The Monk Simeon died on 13 February 1200. His relics began to exude myrh. The Monk Savva transported the remains of his father back to their native land, to Serbia, and placed them in a church of the MostHoly Mother of God situated at the River Studenitsa. Saint Simeon while still the prince had erected and richly adorned this church.
Saint Martin the Merciful was from the time of his youth distinguished by his benevolent heart and great pity for the poor. At age 20, before even he had accepted Baptism, he began to give away all his subsistence to the needy, and soon he himself remained with but only one set of clothes and a knife.
It was winter, and bitterly cold, and he saw a beggar begging alms at the city gates, but no one gave him anything but instead just passed right by. Saint Martin was deeply distressed at seeing this. Finally he took his tunic off himself, cut it in half with his knife and gave the beggar the one half, while the other half he used to cover his own nakedness. Many scoffed at the saint, seeing how he was dressed. At night, shivering in the cold, he saw in a dream our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, dressed in half of the tunic -- that very one he had given to the beggar. The Lord said to the Angels while pointing to this tattered cloth: "Martin even before his Baptism hath covered Me with this cloth, and I shalt clothe him in glory, and at death I shalt call him into My Kingdom". Having awakened, the saint immediately went and was baptised. The rest of his life he spent incessantly working at charity, and he was vouchsafed the gift of wonderworking.
The Monk Auxentios, by origin a Syrian, served at the court of the emperor Theodosius the Younger (418-450). He was known as a virtuous, learned and wise man, and he was moreover a friend of many of the pious men of his era.
Distressed by worldly vanity, Saint Auxentios accepted the dignity of presbyter, and then received monastic tonsure. Setting off after this to Bithynia, he found a solitary place on Mount Oxus, not far from Chalcedon, and there he began the life of an hermit. (This mountain was afterwards called Auxentian). The place of the saint's efforts was stumbled upon by shepherds, seeking after lost sheep. They spread the news about him, and people began to come to him for healing. With the Name of God, Saint Auxentios healed many of the sick and the infirm.
In the year 451 Saint Auxentios was invited to the Fourth OEcumenical Council at Chalcedon, where he became known as a denouncer of the Eutykhian and Nestorian heresies. He was greatly familiar with Holy Scripture, and Saint Auxentios easily bested those opponents who entered into dispute with him. After the finish of the Council, Saint Auxentios returned again to his solitary cell on the mountain. By means of spiritual sight he saw the end of Saint Simeon the Pillar-Dweller (459), from over a great distance.
The Monk Auxentios himself died in about the year 470, leaving behind him disciples and many monasteries constructed in the Bithynian region.
The Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Cyril, Teacher of the Slavs (named Constantine -- upon his assuming of the Schema), and his older brother Methodios (Comm. 6 April), were by descent Slavs, born in Macedonia in the city of Soluneia (Thessalonika). Saint Cyril received the finest of educations, and from age 14 he was raised together with the son of the emperor. He early accepted the dignity of presbyter. Upon his return to Constantinople, he worked as a librarian of the cathedral church, and as a professor of philosophy. Saint Cyril successfully held debates with iconoclast heretics and with Mahometans. Yearning for solitude, he set off to Mount Olympos to his older brother Methodios, but his solitude lasted only a short while. Both brothers were dispatched by the emperor Michael in the year 857 on a missionary journey to preach Christianity to the Khozars. Along the way they stopped off at Cherson and discovered there the relics of the PriestMartyr Clement, Pope of Rome (Comm. 25 November). Arriving at the Khozars, the holy brothers spoke with them about the Christian faith. Persuaded by the preaching of Saint Cyril, the Khozar prince together with all his people accepted Christianity. The grateful prince wanted to reward the preachers with rich presents, but they refused this and instead asked the prince to free and send home with them all the Greek captives. Saint Cyril returned to Constantinople together with 200 such captives set free.
In the year 862 began the chief exploit of the holy brothers. At the request of prince Rostislav, the emperor sent them to Moravia for preaching Christianity in the Slavic language. Saints Cyril and Methodios by a revelation from God compiled a Slavonic alphabet and translated into the Slavonic language -- the Gospel, Epistles, the Psalter and many Divine-service books. They introduced Divine-services in the Slavonic tongue. The holy brothers were then summoned to Rome at the invitation of the Roman pope. Pope Adrian received them with great honour, since they brought with them the relics of the PriestMartyr Clement, Pope of Rome. By nature sickly and of weak health, Saint Cyril from his many labours soon fell ill, and having taken the schema, he died in the year 869 at age 42. Before his death, he expressed last-wishes for his brother to continue with the Christian enlightenment of the Slavs. Saint Cyril was buried in the Roman church of Saint Clement, whose own relics also rest there, brought to Italy from Cherson by the Enlighteners of the Slavs.
The Monk Isaakii, in the world Chern', was prior to monasticism a rich merchant in the city of Toropets in the Pskov lands. Having distributed all his substance to the poor, he went to Kiev and took monastic vows under the Monk Antonii (Anthony). He led a very strict life in seclusion, eating only a prosphora, and then only at the end of the day. After seven years as an hermit he was subjected to a fierce temptation by the devil. Having mistaken the spirit of evil for Christ, he worshipped him, -- after which he fell down terribly crippled. The Monks Antonii and Feodosii (Theodosii) took care of him and nursed him. Only in the third year did he begin to walk and to speak, and be present in church. Upon his return to health he took upon himself the exploit of holy fool, enduring beatings, nakedness and cold. Before death he again went into seclusion, where again he was subjected to an onslaught of demons, from which he was delivered by the sign of the cross and by prayer. After his healing he spent about 20 years in ascetic deeds. He died in about the year 1090. His relics are in the Caves of the Monk Antonii, and part of them were transferred to Toropets by the hegumen of the Kudin monastery in the year 1711. The Vita of the Monk Isaakii was recorded by the Monk Nestor in the chronicles (under the year 1074). The account in the Kievo-Pechersk Paterikon differs somewhat from that of Nestor. In the Great Cheti-Minei under 27 April is the "Account about the Monk Isaakii, and his deceiving by the devil".
The Monk Maron lived during the IV Century not far from the city of Cyr in Syria. He spent almost all the time beneathe the open sky -- at prayer, vigil, works and strict fasting. Soon he was glorified by a gift of healing the sick and casting out devils. Those that turned to him for edification he counselled to be temperate, to be concerned about salvation, and to guard against avarice and anger. Some disciples of the Monk Maron were -- James the Hermit (Comm. 26 November), Limnios (Comm. 23 February), and Domninos (Comm. 1 March). Saint Maron founded many monasteries in the Cyr region.
Saint Abraham, Bishop of Caria, lived during the mid-IV and early V Centuries, and was born in the city of Cyr. In his youth he entered a monastery. Later he chose as the place for his ascetic deeds Mount Lebanon, where he lived as an hermit. The Monk Abraham suffered much vexation from the pagans, who wanted to expel him from their area. Besides this, the impoverished inhabitants of the nearest village constantly came to him for hand-outs, disrupting his solitude, but the monk patiently endured their visits and gave them everything, which had been offered him. The Christian inhabitants of this village built a church and they fervently besought Saint Abraham to accept the priesthood and become their pastor. The monk fulfilled their wish. Having encouraged his flock in the faith, he left them in place of himself another priest, and he again retired to a monastery. For his deep piety he was made bishop of Caria; his pastors the saint constantly taught by his God-pleasing life. From the time of his accepting of the priesthood, he never used cooked food. The emperor Theodosius the Younger wanted to meet the bishop and made him an invitation. Having arrived in Constantinople, Saint Abraham soon died. His remains were solemnly transferred to the city of Caria and there given over to burial.
The Disciple from the Seventy Onysimos in his youth was a servant of Philemon, a Christian of distinguished lineage, living in the city of Phrygian Colossa. Guilty of an offense against his master and fearing punishment, Saint Onysimos fled to Rome, but as a runaway slave he wound up in prison there. In prison he encountered the Apostle Paul held in chains, was enlightened by him and accepted holy Baptism. In prison Saint Onysimos served the Apostle Paul like a son. The Apostle Paul was personally acquainted with Philemon, and wrote him a letter filled with love, asking him to forgive the runaway slave and to accept him like a brother; he dispatched Saint Onysimos with this letter to his master, depriving himself of help, in which he was very much in need.
Saint Philemon, having received the letter, not only forgave Onysimos, but also dispatched him to sail back to Rome to the first-rank apostle. Saint Philemon was afterwards ordained bishop of the city of Gaza (Comm. 4 January, 19 February and 22 November).
After the death of the Apostle Paul, Saint Onysimos served the apostles until their end, and he was ordained bishop by them. After the death of the holy apostles he preached the Gospel in many lands and cities: in Spain, Carpetania, Colossa, Patras. In his old age, Saint Onysimos occupied the bishop's throne at Ephesus, in succession after the Disciple Timothy. When they took Ignatios the God-Bearer to Rome for execution, Bishop Onysimos came to meet with him with certain Christians, about which Saint Ignatios makes mention in his Epistle to the Ephesians.
During the reign of the emperor Trajan, Saint Onysimos was arrested and brought to trial before the eparch Tertillus. He held the saint for 18 days in prison, and then sent him for imprisonment to the city of Putiola. After a certain while, the eparch sent for the prisoner and, convincing himself that Saint Onysimos quite firmly confessed his faith in Christ, had him subjected to a fierce beating with stones, after which they beheaded the saint with a sword. A certain illustrious woman took the body of the martyr and placed it in a silver coffin. This was in about the year 109.
The Monk Eusebios the Hermit lived in the IV Century and asceticised on a mountain near the village of Asykha in Syria. He led a very strict life, being always under the open sky and patiently bearing the summer heat and winter cold; for clothing the monk wore skins, and nourished himself on the pods of peas and beans. Being already an infirm elder, he ate during the Great Forty-day Lent all of 15 figs. When many people began to flock to the Monk Eusebios, he went to a nearby monastery, built a small enclosure at the monastery walls and dwelt in it until his death. The Monk Eusebios lived to old age, having died at the age of ninety, sometime after the year 400.
The 12 Martyred Saints -- Pamphilos the Presbyter, Valentus (Ualentos) the Deacon, Paul, Porphyrios, Seleucios, Theodoulos, Julian, Samuel, Ilias, Daniel, Jeremiah and Isaiah suffered during the time of a persecution against christians, initiated by the emperor Diocletian in the years 308-309 at Caesarea in Palestine. The holy martyr Pamphilos, a native of the city of Berit (Beirut), received his education at Alexandria, after which he was made presbyter at Caesarea. He laboured much over the collation and correction of copyist errors in texts of the New Testament. The corrected texts of Saint Pamphilos were copied out and distributed to those wanting them. In such form many pagans were converted to Christ through them. His works and concerned matters at Caesarea were gathered up into the extensive library of spiritual books available for the enlightening of christians. Blessed Jerome (IV -- beginning V Century) deeply respected Saint Pamphilos and considered himself fortuneate to have located and come into possession of several of his manuscripts. Actively assisting Saint Pamphilos in proclaiming the faith in Christ were Saint Valentus, deacon of the church at Eleia -- a man bent over with age and well-versed in the Holy Scriptures, and Saint Paul, ardent in faith and love for Christ the Saviour. All three were imprisoned for 2 years by the governor of Palestinian Caesarea, Urban. During the rule of his successor Firmilian, 130 christians were sentenced in Egypt and sent off to Cilicia (Asia Minor) to work in the gold mines. Five young brothers accompanied them there to the place of exile. On the return journey to Egypt they were detained at Caesarea and thrown into prison for confessing Christ. They brought the youths for judgement to Firmilian, together with those imprisoned earlier -- Saints Pamphilos, Valentus and Paul. Having been named with names of Old Testament prophets -- Ilias, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Samuel and Daniel -- the youths answered the question of their fatherland by saying, that they were citizens of Jerusalem, meaning by this the heavenly Jerusalem. Firmilian knew nothing about a such-named city, since on the site of Jerusalem -- razed to the ground by the emperor Titus in the year 70 -- had been constructed a new city by the emperor Adrian (117-138), which at the time was named Eleia-Adrian. Firmilian tortured the youths for a long time. He sought to learn the location of the unknown city, and he sought to persuade the youths to apostacise. But nothing was accomplished, and the governor gave them over for beheading by the sword together with Pamphilos, Valentus and Paul.
Before this occurred, a servant of presbyter Pamphilos was given to suffer -- this was the 18 year old youth Porphyrios, meek and humble. He had heard the sentence of death for the condemned martyrs, and asked the governor's permission to bury the bodies after execution. For this he was sentenced to death and given over to burning on a bon-fire.
A witness of this execution -- the pious christian Seleucios, a former soldier -- in saluting the deeds of the sufferers, went up to Pamphilos before execution and told him about the martyr's end of Saint Porphyrios. He was seized upon by soldiers and, on orders from Firmilian, was beheaded by the sword together with the condemned.
One of the governor's servants, Thoedoulos, a man of venerable age and secretly a christian, greeted the martyrs being led to execution, gave them a kiss and asked them to pray for him. He was taken by soldiers for questioning to Firmilian, on whose orders he was crucified on a cross.
The youth Julian, a native of Cappadocia who had come to Caesarea, caught view of the bodies of the saints which had been thrown to wild beasts without burial. Julian went down on his knees and venerated the bodies of the sufferers. Soldiers standing by at the wall seized hold of him and took him to the governor, who condemned him to burning. The bodies of all 12 martyrs stayed without burial for 4 days. Neither beasts nor birds would touch them. Embarrassed by this situation, the pagans permitted christians to take the bodies of the martyrs and bury them.
The Monk Maruph was bishop of a city founded by him, Tigrit (Greek -- Martyropolis), -- a border city between the Byzantine empire and Persia. He was famed for his knowledge and his piety, he wrote about the martyrs, and he suffered for his faith in Christ under the Persian emperor Sapor. He also left behind other works in the Syrian language, among which the most famous are: "Commentary on the Gospel", "Verses of Maruph", "Liturgy of Maruph" and "The 73 Canons of the OEcumenical Council at Nicea" (325) with an account of the acts of the Council.
In the year 381 Saint Maruph participated in the II OEcumenical Council at Constantinople -- convened against the heresy of Macedonius, and in the year 383 -- at the local Antioch Council against the Messalians.
During the years 403-404 Saint Maruph set off to Constantinople to plead with the emperor Arkadius to protect Persian christians. He was twice sent by the emperor Theodosius the Younger to the shah Izdegerd to secure the peace between the empire and Persia.
In the year 414 Saint Maruph, having done his duty as envoy to the court of Izdegerd, persuaded the shah to a favourable disposition towards christians, and he assisted greatly in the freedom of confession of the true faith in Persia. He rebuilt christian churches razed during the persecution by the Persian shah Sapor. He also located relics of saints that had suffered martyrdom and transferred them to Martyropolis (Tigrit). He died there in about the year 422. The relics of Saint Maruph were later transferred to Egypt and placed in a skete monastery of the Mother of God.
Saint Flavian, Archbishop of Antioch (381-404), was a contemporary of Sainted John Chrysostom (+ 407). It is known of him, that he attempted by the power of gentle persuasion to obtain from the emperor Theodosius (379-395) a pardon for the citizens of Antioch, who had angered the emperor by destroying his statue. The end of the monk was peaceful and without illness. His commemoration is also on 27 September.
The Holy Martyr Theodore of Tyre was a soldier in the city of Alasium of the Pontine district (northeast province of Asia Minor, stretching alongside the coast of the Pontus Euxine, i.e. the Black Sea), under the command of a certain Brincus. They commanded him to offer sacrifice to idols. Saint Theodore firmly and in a loud voice confessed his faith in Christ the Saviour. The commander gave him several days to think it over, during which time Saint Theodore prayed intensely. They charged him with setting afire a pagan temple and threw him into prison for death by starvation. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him there, comforting and encouraging him. Brought again to the governor, Saint Theodore yet once more boldly and fearlessly confessed his faith, for which he was subjected to new torments and condemned to burning. The martyr Theodore without hesitation climbed onto the bon-fire and with prayer and laudation gave up his holy soul to God.
This occurred in about the year 306 under the Roman emperor Gallerius (305-311). Unharmed by the fire, the body of Saint Theodore was buried in the city of Eukhaitakheia, not far from Amasium. His relics were afterwards transferred to Tsar'grad, to a church dedicated to his name. His head is situated in Italy, in the city of Gaeto.
Later on, 50 years after the martyr's death of Saint Theodore, the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363), wanting to commit an outrage upon the christians, commanded the city-commander of Constantinople during the first week of Great Lent to sprinkle all the food provisions in the market-places with the blood of idol-sacrifices. Saint Theodore, having appeared in a dream to archbishop Eudoxios, ordered him to inform all the christians, -- that no one should buy anything at the market-places, but rather to eat cooked wheat with honey -- kolivo ( kut'ya or sochivo). In memory of this occurrence the Orthodox Church annually makes celebration of the holy GreatMartyr Theodore of Tyre on Saturday of the first week of Great Lent. On the eve of Saturday, on Friday, in the Divine Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts after the amvon prayer there is read the molieben-kanon to the holy GreatMartyr Theodore, compiled by the monk John Damascene. After this, kolivo is blessed and distributed to the faithful. The celebration to the GreatMartyr Theodore on Saturday of the first week of Great Lent was set by the Patriarch of Constantinople Nektarios (381-397).
The PriestMartyr Ermogen, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, was descended from the Don Cossacks. In the testimony of the Patriarch himself, he was priest in the city of Kazan at a church, near the Kazan bazaar, in the name of Sainted Nicholas (Comm. 6 December and 9 May). Soon he became a monk and from 1582 was archimandrite of the Saviour-Transfiguration monastery at Kazan. On 13 May 1589 he was ordained bishop and became the first Kazan metropolitan.
During the service of His Holiness the Patriarch at Kazan there occurred the appearance and discovery of the Wonder-Working Kazan Icon of the Mother of God in the year 1579. Being then still only a priest, but with the blessing of the then Kazan archbishop Jeremii, he carried the newly-appeared icon from the place of its discovery to the Church of Saint Nicholas. Having remarkable literary talent, the saint himself in 1594 compiled an account about the appearance of the wonderworking icon and the miracles accomplished through it. In 1591 the saint gathered newly-baptised Tatars into the cathedral church and during the course of several days instructed them in the faith.
In 1592 there was the transfer of relics of Sainted German, the second archbishop of Kazan (Comm. 25 September, 6 November, and 23 June), who had died at Moscow on 6 November 1567 during the time of a pestilential plague, and buried in Saint Nicholas Church. With the blessing of Patriarch Job (1589-1605), Saint Ermogen made the re-burial at the Sviyazhsk Uspenie monastery. On 9 January 1592 Saint Ermogen directed a letter to Patriarch Job, in which he stated that at Kazan there was celebrated no particular remembrance of the Orthodox soldiers, who gave their life for the Faith and Fatherland beneathe Kazan, and he petitioned to establish an assigned day of memory. At the same time he reported about three martyrs who had suffered at Kazan for their faith in Christ, -- one of which was a Russian by the name of John (Comm. 24 January) born at Nizhny Novgorod and captured by the Tatars, while the other two, -- Stephen and Peter (Comm. 24 March) were newly-converted Tatars. The saint expressed regret that these martyrs were not inserted into the synodikon read on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, and that memory eternal was not sung for them. In answer to Saint Ermogen, the Patriarch issued an ukaz (decree) of 25 February, which decreed: -- "for all the Orthodox soldiers, killed at Kazan and the Kazan surroundings, to celebrate at Kazan and throughout all the Kazan metropolitanate a panikhida on the Saturday following the (1 October) feastday of Pokrov / Protection of the MostHoly Mother of God, and to inscribe them in the great synodikon read on the Sunday of Orthodoxy", and ordered to inscribe in the synodikon also the three Kazan martyrs, entrusting to Saint Ermogen to set the day of their memory. Saint Ermogen circulated the Patriarchal ukaz throughout his diocese, adding, that in all the churches and monasteries they should celebrate liturgy and panikhida for the three Kazan martyrs and should remember them also at litya and liturgy on 24 January. Saint Ermogen displayed zeal in the faith and firmness in the observance of church traditions, and he concerned himself with the enlightening of Kazan Tatars by the faith of Christ.
In 1595, with the active participation of the saint there occurred the discovery and opening of the relics of the Kazan Wonderworkers: Sainted Gurii, the first archbishop of Kazan (Comm. 4 October, 5 December, 20 June), and Sainted Varsonophii bishop of Tver' (Comm. 4 October, 11 April). Tsar Feodor Ioannovich (1584-1598) had given orders to erect at the Kazan Saviour-Transfiguration monastery a new stone church on the place of the first one, wherein the saints were buried. When the graves of the saints were discovered, Saint Ermogen came with a gathering of clergy, he commanded the graves to be opened and, having beheld the undecayed relics and garb of the saints, he notified the Patriarch and the tsar. With the blessing of Patriarch Job and by order of the tsar, the relics of the newly-appeared wonderworkers were placed in the new church. Saint Ermogen himself compiled the lives of Sainted-hierarchs Gurii and Varsonophii.
Having been deigned the arch-pastoral position -- metropolitan Ermogen was chosen to the arch-hierarchical cathedra (chair), and on 3 July 1606 he was elevated to the assemblage / sobor of sainted-hierarchs upon the Patriarchal throne at Moscow Uspensky (Dormition) cathedral. Metropolitan Isidor handed the Patriarch the staff of Sainted-hierarch Peter, Moscow WonderWorker (Comm. 5 October, 21 December, 24 August), and the tsar gave as a gift to the new Patriarch a panagia, embellished with precious stones, a white klobuk and staff. In the ancient manner Patriarch Ermogen made his entrance upon a donkey.
The activity of Patriarch Ermogen co-incided with a difficult period for the Russian state -- the incursion of the imposter the False-Dimitrii and the Polish king Sigismund III. The arch-hierarch devoted all his powers to the service of the Church and the Fatherland. Patriarch Ermogen was not alone in this exploit: his self-sacrificing fellow-countrymen copied his example and assisted him. With an especial inspiration His Holiness the Patriarch stood up against the traitors and enemies of the Fatherland, who wanted to install Uniatism and Western Catholicism in Russia and to wipe out Orthodoxy, while enslaving the Russian nation. When the imposter arrived at Moscow and settled himself at Tushino, Patriarch Ermogen dispatched two missives to the Russian traitors. In one of them he wrote: "...You have forgotten the vows of our Orthodox faith, in which we are born, baptised, nourished and raised, ye have violated the oath and the kissing of the cross to stand to the death for the house of the MostHoly Mother of God and for the Moscow realm, but have fallen for your false would-be tsarlet... My soul aches, my heart is sickened, all within me agonises, and all my frame doth shudder; I weep and with sobbing I lament: have mercy, have mercy, brethren and children, on your own souls and your parents departed and living... Consider, how our Fatherland is devastated and plundered by foreigners, who offer insult to the holy icons and churches, and how innocent blood is spilled, crying out to God. Think, against whom do ye take up arms: is it not against God, Who hath created you? Is it not against your own brothers? Do ye not devastate your own Fatherland?... I adjure you in the Name of God, give up your undertaking, there is yet time, that ye perish not at the end". In the second gramota / document the Arch-hierarch appeals: "For the sake of God, come to your senses and turn round, gladden your parents, your wifes and children; and we stand to pray God for you..."
Soon the righteous judgement of God was realised upon the Tushino thief: a sad and inglorious fate befell him just as it did his predecessor [another false-Dimitrii]; -- he was killed by his own close associates on 11 December 1610. But Moscow continued to remain in peril, since in it were situated the Poles and traitor-boyars, having made betrayal to Sigismund III. The gramoti / documents, dispatched by Patriarch Ermogen throughout the cities and villages, exhorted the Russian nation to liberate Moscow from the enemies and to choose a lawful Russian tsar. The Muscovites raised up a rebellion, in answer to which the Poles burned the city, and shut themselves up within the Kremlin. Together with Russian traitors they forcefully seized hold of Patriarch Ermogen from the patriarchal throne and imprisoned him in the Chudov monastery under guard. On Bright Monday in 1611 the Russian militia approached Moscow and began the seige of the Kremlin, which continued for several months. Besieged within the Kremlin, the Poles many a time sent messengers to the Patriarch with the demand that he order the Russian militia to leave the city, threatening for refusal a death by execution. The saint firmly replied: "What are your threats to me? Only God do I fear. If all of you, Lithuanian people, go from the Moscow realm , I shall bless the Russian militia to go from Moscow, but if ye remain here, I shall bless all to stand against you and to die for the Orthodox faith". While still in prison, the Priest-martyr Ermogen turned with a final missive to the Russian nation, blessing the liberating army against the invaders. The Russian commanders could not come to an agreement over a way to take the Kremlin and free their Arch-hierarch. He languished more than nine months in dreadful confinement, and on 17 February 1612 he died a martyr's death from starvation.
The liberation of Russia, for which Saint Ermogen stood with such indestructible valour, was successfully concluded by the Russian nation. The body of the Priest-martyr Ermogen was buried in the Chudov monastery, but in 1654 was transferred to the Moscow Uspenie cathedral. The glorification of Patriarch Ermogen into the rank of Sainted-hierarchs occurred on 12 May 1913.
The Monk Feodor (Theodore) the Silent of Pechersk chose the exploit of silence, so as to dwell constantly in thought of God and to safeguard himself in temptation even in word. He was glorified by the Lord with a gift of wonderworking. His memory is celebrated also on 28 August.
Righteous Mariam, -- the sister of the holy Apostle from the 12 Philip (Comm. 14 November), made a vow of virginity and became companion of her brother Philip and the holy Apostle Bartholomew (Comm. 11 June), actively assisting them in their apostolic work. The Church historian Nikephoros Kallistos gives an account about their successful preaching in the Phrygian city of Hieropolis, where they were arrested and locked up in prison. They subjected the Apostle Philip to death, hung on a cross, but Saint Mariam and the Apostle Bartholomew were set free. The Apostle Bartholomew set out to preach the Gospel in India. Saint Mariam, having taken up the body of the holy Apostle Philip, preached the Gospel at Likaion (Asia Minor). She died peacefully there.
The Holy Martyr Menos Kallikelades (Krasno-rechivii, i.e. Fine-Speaking), an Anthenian, died a martyr together with Saints Hermogenes and Eugraphos in about the year 313 (Comm. 10 December). During the time of the Constantinople emperor Basilios the Macedonian (867-886), by command of the saint himself who had appeared in a dream to a certain pious man, -- his relics were discovered by the military commander Marcian.
Sainted Auxivius was born at Rome in a rich family. He was raised together with his brother Tempstagoras. From an early age he displayed remarkable talents. In the schools of Rome he easily learned the secular sciences. His parents wanted to marry off their son. Having learned of this, the youth secretly departed Rome and set off to the East. Having arrived upon the island of Cyprus, he settled in the environs of Limnitis, not far from the city of Solunum. By the Prescience (Fore-knowing) of God he encountered the holy Disciple and Evangelist Mark (Comm. 27 September, 30 October, 4 January, 25 April), preaching the Word of God at Cyprus. The Disciple Mark established Auxivius as bishop in the city of Solunum, and himself set off for preaching to Alexandria.
Saint Auxivius went towards the western gates of the city and settled near the pagan temple of Zeus. Gradually he converted to Christianity the local pagan-priest and other idol-worshippers. One time Saint Heraklides came to Saint Auxivius. He had been made a bishop in Cyprus earlier by the Disciple Mark, and he consulted with Saint Auxivius to openly preach the Gospel of Christ. One day Saint Auxivius arrived at the market-square and began to preach to the people about Christ. Many, seeing the miracles and the signs worked by the saint, believed in Christ. Among the converted were many people from the surrounding villages. One man, by the name of Auxinios, remained with Saint Auxivius and assisted him in service to the end of his days.
After a certain while there came from Rome the brother of Saint Auxivius, Tempstagoras. He was baptised together with his wife, accepted the presbyteral dignity and served in one of the churches. Sainted Auxivius guided his diocese for 50 years and died peacefully in the year 102, leaving upon the cathedra (chair) his disciple Auxinios.
The Holy Martyr Theodore the Byzantine was a native of the settlement Neokhoreia near Constantinople. In childhood they seduced him into Mahometanism. For his return to the Christian faith he was hung by the Turks in the city of Mytilene in 1795.
The monk Theodosii began his exploit in the city of Viddino, at the Nikolaev monastery. After the death of the hegumen Job he settled not far from Tirnovo, then the capital city of Bulgaria, at the Svyatogorsk monastery of the MostHoly Mother of God in search of a spiritual guide. He left the Holy Mount (Svyatogorsk) monastery and for a long while went about from monastery to monastery. Finally, he learned about the wilderness-monastery termed "Concealed" where in pursuit of asceticism the monk Gregory the Sinaite (Comm. 8 August) had moved from Athos. The monk Theodosii found in him an experienced guide of the contemplative life. The monk Gregory taught: "Before death we lay in hades; whosoever does not recognise sincerely that he is a sinner, that the beasts and cattle are more pure, -- that one is more wicked than the demons, in having become their obedient slave".
The wilderness monastery of the monk Gregory the Sinaite suffered often from robbers. The abba sent the monk Theodosii to the emperor Alexander with a request for defense of the monastery. The pious Bulgarian tsar, at the request of the ascetic, provided him greater means to wall in the monastery by strong walls with towers, and made secure the monastery with grounds and cattle. During the time of his final journey to Tirnovo with an errand of the abba to the tsar, a nobleman turned to the monk Theodosii with a request to take him along to the monastery. The holy ascetic brought him to the monk Gregory the Sinaite. This was Roman, -- becoming the sincere and beloved disciple of the monk Theodosii. After the death of the monk Gregory the Sinaite, the monk Theodosii refused to accept being head of the monastery, and together with his disciple Roman he set off from the monastery for solitary efforts. They founded a monastery on an hill round about Tirnovo, afterwards called Theodosiev. The monk Theeodosii was famous as a zealous defender of Orthodoxy against the many heresies then appearing, especially the Bogomils, Judaisers and Messalians. Their false teachings were especially pernicious. The Patriarch and the tsar rendered great help to the monk Theodosii in the struggle with the heretics. In addition to this, the holy ascetic translated Greek writings into the Slavonic language. In 1360 he became grievously ill. Wishing to meet with his friend the monk Kallistos, he set off to him at Tsar'grad, entrusting the guidance of the monastery to his disciple Roman.
On 17 February 1362 the monk Theodosii died at Tsar'grad. His disciple the monk Roman became head of the monastery founded by him.
Sainted Leo I the Great, Pope of Rome (440-461), received an exceedingly fine and diverse education, which opened for him the possibility of an excellent worldly career. But his yearning was in the spiritual life, and so he chose the different path of becoming an archdeacon under holy Pope Sixtus III (432-440) -- after whose death Saint Leo in turn was chosen as Pope of the Roman Church, in September 440. These were difficult times for the Church, when heretics besieged the bulwarks of Orthodoxy with their tempting false-teachings. Saint Leo combined within himself a pastoral solicitude and goodness, together with an unshakable firmness in questions of the confession of the faith. He was in particular one of the basic defenders of Orthodoxy against the heresies of Eutykhios and Dioskoros -- who taught that there was only one nature in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he was a defender also against the heresy of Nestorius. He exerted all his influence to put an end to the unrest by the heretics in the Church, and by his missives to the holy Constantinople emperors Theodosius II (408-450) and Marcian (450-457) he actively promoted the convening of the Fourth OEcumenical Council, at Chalcedon in 451, for condemning the heresy of the Monophysites. At this OEcumenical Council at Chalcedon, at which 630 bishops were present, there was proclaimed a missive of Saint Leo to the then already deceased Sainted Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople (447-449). Saint Flavian had suffered for Orthodoxy under the Ephesus "Robber Council" in the year 449. In the letter of Saint Leo was posited the Orthodox teaching about the two natures [the Divine and the human] in the Lord Jesus Christ. And with this teaching all the bishops present at the Council were in agreement. The heretics Eutykhios and Dioskoros were excommunicated from the Church.
Saint Leo was likewise a defender of his fatherland against the incursions of barbarians. In the year 452, by the persuasive power of his word, he stopped a pillaging of Italy by the dreadsome leader of the Huns, Attila. And again in the year 455, when the leader of the Vandals [a Germanic tribe], Henzerich, turned towards Rome, he boldly persuaded him not to pillage the city, burn buildings, nor spill blood. He knew about his death beforehand and he prepared himself by ardent prayer and good deeds, for the passing over from this world into eternity.
He died in the year 461 and was buried at Rome, in the Vatican cathedral. His literary and theological legacy is comprised of 96 sermons and 143 letters -- of which the best known is his missive to Saint Flavian.
The Monk Kosma of Yakhromsk was the servant of a certain boyar-noble, during whose prolonged illness he comforted, by reading him books. And so, in travelling from city to city, they happened to stop at the River Yakhroma. Here within the woods there appeared to Kosma an icon of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God, and from it he heard a voice, commanding him to be a monk and build a monastery. His sick master thereupon received healing from the icon, and Kosma set off to Kiev and in the Pechersk monastery he accepted tonsure. Then with the icon of the Mother of God, and on an inspiration from above, he again set off to the Yakhroma -- 40 versts distant from the city of Vladimir, constructing with the help of some good Christians a temple in honour of the Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God. Brethren began to gather around the monk, and a monastery was formed. The Monk Kosma was chosen hegumen. News about the monastic efforts of the monk during these times reached even the greatprince. The Monk Kosma died in advanced old age on 18 February 1492, and was buried in the monastery founded by him. His memory is celebrated also on 14 October -- on the day of the celebration of the Yakhromsk Icon of the Mother of God.
Sainted Agapitos the Confessor, Bishop of Synada, was born in Cappadocia during the reign of the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284-305). His parents were Christians. From his youthful years he yearned for the monastic life and so he entered a monastery, where he asceticised in fasting, prayers and service to all the brethren of the monastery.
The Lord granted Saint Agapitos the gift of wonderworking. The then current emperor, Licinius (307-324), learned that the Monk Agapitos was endowed with great physical strength, and he commanded the saint against his wishes to be conscripted into military service.
During the time of persecution against the Christians, initiated by Licinius, Saint Agapitos was put together with the holy Martyrs Victor, Dorotheos, Theodoulos and Agrippa; he was wounded by a spear, but remained alive. After the death of the emperor Licinius, he obtained his freedom from military service in the following manner. It became known to the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337), that through prayer Saint Agapitos had worked healings. The emperor sent him a sick servant, who likewise received healing. The emperor wanted to generously reward Saint Agapitos, who instead asked only that he be able to resign military service and return to his monastery. The permission was granted, and he joyfully returned to the monastery.
Soon after this, the Synada bishop summoned Saint Agapitos and ordained him to the dignity of presbyter. And after the death of the bishop, Saint Agapitos was unanimously chosen by the clergy and all the people to the cathedra-seat of bishop of Synada. The new hierarch wisely governed his flock, guiding it in the Orthodox faith and virtuous life. Through his prayers numerous miracles occurred. The saint died peacefully.
Sainted Flavian the Confessor, Patriarch of Tsar'grad (Constantinople), occupied the cathedra-seat under the holy Constantinople Emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450) and his sister the holy nobleborn Empress Pulcheria (+ 453, Comm. 10 September). At first he was a presbyter and caretaker of church-vessels in the Cathedral church. He was elevated onto the Patriarchal throne after the death of holy Patriarch Proklos (+ 447, Comm. 20 November). During this period of history various disturbances and heresies lacerated church unity. In the year 448, Saint Flavian convened a Local Council at Constantinople for scrutinising the heresy of Eutykhios -- which asserted only one nature (the Divine) in the Lord Jesus Christ. Persisting in his error, the heretic Eutykhios was excommunicated from the Church and deprived of dignity. But the heretic Eutykhios had a powerful patron in the person of Chrysathios, an eunuch close to the emperor. By means of intrigues Chrysathios swayed over to the side of Eutykhios the bishop of Alexandria -- Dioskoros, and obtained permission from the emperor for the convening at Ephesus a church council, afterwards known as the "Robber Council". At the Robber Council, Dioskoros presided, gaining by means of threats and force an acquittal of Eutykhios and a condemnation of holy Patriarch Flavian. Saint Flavian during the sessions of this council was fiercely beaten up by impudent monks under the lead of a certain Barsumas. And even the impious president of the Robber Council, the heretic Dioskoros, took part in these beatings. After this heavy chains were put upon Saint Flavian, and he was sentenced to banishment at Ephesus. The Lord however put a stop to his further suffering, by sending him his death (+ August 449). The holy Empress Pulcheria withdrew from the imperial court. Soon the intrigues of Chrysathios were revealed. The emperor dismissed him, and restored again his sister Saint Pulcheria. By her efforts the relics of holy Patriarch Flavian were reverently transferred from Ephesus to Constantinople.
The Holy Disciples from the Seventy: Archippos, Philemon and Apthea (2nd Comm. 22 November) were students and companions of the holy Apostle Paul. In the Epistle to Philemon, the Apostle Paul names Saint Archippos as his companion.
The Disciple Archippos was bishop of the city of Colossa in Phrygia. The Disciple Philemon was an eminent citizen of this city, and in his home the Christians gathered to celebrate Divine-services. He was likewise ordained to the dignity of bishop by the Apostle Paul and he went about the cities of Phrygia, preaching the Gospel. Later on, he became archpastor of the city of Gaza. Saint Apthea, his spouse, took into her home the sick and vagrants, zealously attending to them. She was indeed a veritable co-worker to her spouse in proclaiming the Word of God.
During the persecution against Christians under the emperor Nero (54-68), the holy Disciples Archippos and Philemon and Equal-to-the-Apostles Apthea were brought to trial by the city-governor Artocles for confessing faith in Christ. The Disciple Archippos was brutally hacked at with knives. After torture, they buried Saints Philemon and Apthea up to the waist in the ground, and stoned them until the holy martyrs died.
The Holy Martyrs Maximos, Theodotos, Hesychios and the Holy Martyress Asclepiodota suffered for the faith in Christ at Adrianopolis, during the persecution under the emperor Maximian (305-311). The holy martyrs underwent many sufferings. At first they tied them to a tree and tore at them with iron hooks. After this, they led them amidst insults from city to city, and then gave them over for devouring by wild beasts. Kept safe by the grace of God, the holy martyrs remained unharmed, and it was only by the hand of the torturers that they received a martyr's death. As for the holy Martyress Asclepiodota, at first they beat her upon the ground, and then they tied her to a tree and cast stones at her, and finally they beheaded her.
The Monastic Confessors Eugene (Eugenios) and Makarios were presbyters of the Antioch Church. During the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363) they were brought to the emperor for trial for their refusal to participate in pagan orgies. The presbyters boldly denounced him for his apostasy and they were given over to fierce tortures, which they underwent with prayer and spiritual rejoicing. After the tortures they sent them off in chains for exile to Oasim, an oasis in the Arabian desert, and they intended to settle there upon an hill. The local people warned the saints, that they should immediately abandon the place, since an enormous snake lived there. The holy martyrs asked them to point out this place, and through their prayer a lightning-bolt struck into the cave, making ashes of the monster. Saints Eugene and Makarios began to asceticise in this cave. The confessors prayed, that they might die together. The Lord heard their prayer, and they died at the same time in the year 363.
The Monk Dositheos, a disciple of the Monk Abba Dorotheos (Comm. 5 June), lived during the VI-VII Centuries, and was raised in a rich and reknown family. Young Dositheos listened to tales about the holy city of Jerusalem from the servants of his grandfather, a military-commander, and this kindled within him the desire to go there. Soon his wish came true. At Gethsemane, he gazed for a long time at the depiction of the Dread Last Judgement. Suddenly he saw beside him a woman, who explained pointing out to him, what was depicted in the image. The youth asked: "How be it possible to avoid the eternal torments?" To this question followed the reply: "Fast, be not given to the fleshly, pray constantly". After this his strange guide suddenly became invisible. Dositheos started to search about in vain, since She conversing with him had been the MostHoly Mother of God Herself. The appearance of the Mother of God produced on the youth a strong impression, and he decided to enter a monastery headed by Abba Serid, and populated by such great ascetics as the monastic-elder Barsonophios (Comm. 6 February) and John (Comm. 19 June). Dositheos, having made fervent entreaty to be accepted amongst the brethren, was sent off as a student to the monastic-elder Dorotheos. The Monk Dositheos bore obedience in the monastery sick-ward, caring for all the infirm. The Monk Dorotheos trained his student in abstinence and fasting, with the gradual lessening of the quantity of daily bread consumed. He also weaned the youth from vexation and anger, by constantly reminding, that every unkind word said to a sick person, is said simultaneously to Christ Jesus Himself. By revealing his thoughts to the elder and by unhesitating obedience the Monk Dositheos liberated his soul from the proclivities of the passions. Spending five years at the ascetic deed of tending the sick and obedience to his monastic elder, the Monk Dositheos himself fell into serious sickness. Patiently enduring his sufferings, he never complained and he prayed constantly. Not long before his death he asked a message be conveyed to the elder Barsonophios: "Father, grant me pardon, I cannot much longer live". That one sent back to him the reply: "Hold on, my son, for the mercy of God be yet not far off". After several days the Monk Dositheos again had conveyed to the elder the message: "My master, I cannot much longer live". Thereupon the Monk Barsonophios blessed him to expire to God, and he himself asked the dying one to pray for all the brethren, when he should stand before the Holy Trinity. The brethren were astonished that the great Abba Barsonophios would ask prayers of a monk, who had lived at the monastery for only all of five years and without any greatest ascetic accomplishment. But after the death of the monk, a certain experienced ascetic was praying that there might be revealed to him the final resting place of the departed fathers of the monastery, and he saw in a dream vision young Dositheos amidst the assemblage of these saints. The Monk Dositheos was vouchsafed great glory in the Kingdom of Heaven for his perfect obedience to the monastic elder and for his full forbearance from his own will.
The Monk Rabula was born in the Syrian city of Samosata and he received an excellent education. While still young, he accepted monasticism and asceticised in the deserts and on the mountains, after the manner of the holy Prophet Elias (Elijah, Comm. 20 July) and Saint John the Baptist of the Lord (Comm. 7 January, 24 February, 25 May, 24 June, 29 August, 23 September, 12 October). Somewhat later Saint Rabula went over to Phoenicia, where for a long while he asceticised and was glorified by graced spiritual gifts. The emperor Xeno gave the Monk Rabula monetary help for building a monastery, erected with the assist of the Beruit bishop John. In the surroundings of the new monastery lived many a pagan, who gradually were all converted to Christianity through the efforts of the monastery inhabitants. Under Xeno's successor Anastasias (491-518), the Monk Rabula came to Constantinople, and again having received financial means from the emperor, he built still several more monasteries in various places. One of them was named after the holy ascetic. The Monk Rabula spent all his life at work, and always he was gentle and kind and well-disposed towards people, together with which he was also a man of great prayer. He lived to be 80 and before death he heard a voice: "Come unto Me all who labour and art heavily burdened" (Mt. 11: 28). After a short illness the Monk Rabula reposed to God, in about the year 530.
The Monk Konon was born in Cilicia. While still at an early age he accepted monasticism at the Pentuklos monastery, nigh to Jordan, where he was ordained presbyter. The Jerusalem archbishop Peter learned about the strict ascetic and sent him people for Baptism. The Monk Konon baptised those that came and anointed them with holy chrism (myrh), but he shunned baptising women. One time there appeared to him the Baptist of the Lord Saint John the Forerunner, promising to help with prayers in the struggle with temptations.
A girl came from Persia for Baptism. She was so pretty, that the Monk Konon could not anoint her with the holy chrism while uncovered. Over the course of two days the newly-baptised girl remained unanointed by the holy chrism. The Monk Konon wanted to find a pious woman to entrust with the chrism-anointing, but to find any such woman was difficult, since the area was desolate without any nearby settlements. The ascetic decided to quit the monastery, but on the way Saint John the Forerunner again appeared to him and said: "Return thou unto thy monastery, for I shalt help thee be free of temptation". The Monk Konon tried to argue the point, saying that when Saint John the Forerunner had appeared before, he had then already promised him help to be free of temptation. Saint John the Baptist thereupon signed the ascetic with the Sign of the Cross and said, that for the struggle with temptations he would receive a reward. Then he commanded him to return to the monastery and have no doubts. The Monk Konon obediently fulfilled the advice of the Baptist of the Lord, and immediately he anointed with chrism the Persian, without even taking note that she was a girl. After this the ascetic dwelt at the monastery for 20 years, and having achieved perfect dispassion, he peacefully expired to God in about the year 555.
The Monastic Martyress Philothea was born in Athens in 1522. Her parents, Siriga and Angel Benizelos, were reknown not only for being eminent and rich, but also deeply pious. Often the kind-hearted Siriga had turned with prayer imploring the MostHoly Mother of God for a child. Her fervent prayers were heard, and the spouses had born to them a daughter, which they named Rigula. The parents raised their daughter in deep piety and right belief, and with her coming of age they gave her off in marriage. Her husband turned out to be a man impious and crude, who often beat and tormented his wife. Rigula patiently endured the abuse and she prayed to God, that He might bring her husband to his senses. After three years Rigula's husband died, and she in her freedom began to asceticise in fasting, vigil and prayer. The saint founded a women's monastery in the name of the Apostle Andrew the First-Called (Comm. 30 November and 30 June). When the well-constructed monastery was completed, the saint was the first of those there to accept monastic tonsure, with the name Philothea. During this time Greece was suffering under the Turkish Yoke. Many of the Athenians had been turned by their Turkish conquerors into slaves. The Nun Philothea utilised all her means for the freeing of her fellow country-women; she saved many, ransoming them from servitude. One time four women fled to the monastery of Saint Philothea, having run away from their Turkish masters, who demanded that they renounce their Christianity. The Turks, having learned where the Greek women had taken asylum, burst into the cell of the nun, and having given her a beating they led her off to the governor of the city, who threw the holy ascetic into prison. In the morning, when a mob of Turks had already gathered, they led her out of the prison. The governor of the city said that if she did not renounce Christ, she would be hacked apart. Just when the Nun Philothea was ready to accept a martyr's crown, Divine Providence gathered a crowd of Christians, who freed the holy ascetic. Having returned to her monastery, the Nun Philothea continued with her efforts of abstinence, prayer and vigil, for which she was vouchsafed a graced gift of wonderworking. In an Athens suburb, Patisia, she founded a new monastery, where she started to asceticise with the sisters. During the time of the feast of Saint Dionysios the Areopagite (Comm. 3 October), the Turks seized hold of the Nun Philothea and for a long time they tortured her, and finally they threw her half-alive down on the ground. The sisters with tears carried away the holy martyress, flowing with blood, to the locale of Kalogreza, where she died on 19 February 1589. Shortly thereafter the relics of the holy Monastic Martyress Philothea were conveyed into the Athens cathedral church.
Sainted Leo was bishop of the city of Catania, in Sicily. He was famed for his benevolence and charity, and his Christian love for the poor and the vagrant. The Lord granted him the gifts of healing of various illnesses, and also wonderworking. During the time when Saint Leo was bishop in Catania, there lived a certain sorcerer magician named Heliodorus, who impressed people with his fake miracles. This fellow was originally a Christian, but then he secretly rejected Christ and became a servant of the devil. Saint Leo often urged Heliodorus to be done with his wicked deeds and return to God, but in vain. One time Heliodorus got so impudent that, having entered into the church where the bishop was celebrating Divine-services, he by his sorcery sowed confusion and temptation there, trying to create a disturbance. Seeing the people beset by devils under the sorcerous spell, Saint Leo realised, that the time of gentle persuasions had passed. He calmly emerged from the altar and, grabbing the magician by the neck with his omophorion, he led him out of the church into the city-square. There he forced Heliodorus to own up to all his wicked deeds; he commanded a bon-fire be built, and without flinching he jumped together with the sorcerer into the fire, while having on his omophorion. Thus they stood in the fire, until Heliodorus got burnt, while by the power of God Saint Leo remained unharmed. This miracle while still during his lifetime brought Saint Leo reknown. When he died, at his grave a woman with issue of blood received healing. The body of the saint was placed in a church of the holy Martyress Lucy, which he himself had built, and later on his relics were transferred into a church of Sainted Martin the Merciful, Bishop of Tours (Comm. 12 October).
The MonkMartyr Kornilii of Pskovo-Pechersk was born in the year 1501 at Pskov into the boyar-noble family of Stefan and Maria. In order to give their son an education, his parents sent him to the Pskov Mirozh monastery, where he worked under the guidance of an elder: he made candles, chopped wood, studied his letters, transcription and adornment of books, and also iconography. Having finished his studies, Kornilii returned to his parental home with the resolve to become a monk.
One time the government clerk Misiur Munekhin took Kornilii with him to the Pskovo-Pechersk monastery set amidst the woods, and which then was in more miserable a condition than any other Pskov churchyard. The beauty of nature there, and the calm of services in the cave church produced so very strong an impression on Kornilii, that he left his parental home forever and accepted monastic tonsure at the Pskovo-Pechersk monastery.
In 1529, at age 28, the Monk Kornilii was elevated to hegumen and became head of the monastery. While he was hegumen, the Pskovo-Pechersk monastery reached the height of its prime. The number of brethren increased from 15 to 200 men. This number of residents was not exceeded under any other subsequent head of the monastery.
The activity of the Monk Kornilii extended far beyond the bounds of the monastery: he disseminated Orthodoxy amongst the Esti (Aesti) and Saeti people living around the monastery, he built churches, hospices, homes for orphans and those in need. During the time of a terrible plague in the Pskov region the Monk Kornilii walked through the plague-infested villages to give communion to the living and to sing burial-service at the circular pits with the dead.
During the time of the Livonian war the Monk Kornilii preached Christianity in the occupied cities, built churches there, by hand distributed generous aid from the monastery storerooms to the Esti and Livonians suffering during the time of war; at the monastery he selflessly doctored and fed the injured and the maimed, preserved the killed within the caves and inscribed their names in the monastery synodikon-record for eternal remembrance.
In the year 1560, on the feast of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the Mother of God, the Monk Kornilii sent by way of blessing for the Russian armies, besieging the city of Thellin, a prosphora and holy water. On that very day the Germans surrendered the city. In 1570 at the establishing of a cathedra-see in Livonian Yur'ev, there was appointed as bishop of Yur'ev and Vel'yansk (i.e. Thellin) a certain hegumen Kornilii. Some have identified him with the Monk Kornilii, but this does not correspond with actual events. The Monk Kornilii was a great expert and lover of books -- at the monastery was gathered quite solid a collection of books. In 1531 came out his work entitled, "An Account Concerning the Origin of the Pechersk Monastery". In the mid-XVI Century the Pskovo-Pechersk monastery took over from the Spaso-Eleaszarov monastery the tradition of chronicle-keeping. At the start of the chronicles was put accounts of the first two Pskov chronicles in rough-draft continuation from 1547 to 1567. Besides this, Hegumen Kornilii left behind a great monastery Synodikon for remembrance of deceased brothers and benefactors of the monastery, and he began to maintain the "Stern-side Book" ["Kormovaya kniga", i.e. the ship-stern is the back-side (sic) the sense of "looking back in remembrance"] from the year 1588; he compiled also a "Description of the Monastery" and a "Description of the Miracles of the Pechersk Icon of the Mother of God".
The Monk Kornilii expanded and beautified the monastery, he dug out further the monastery caves, he transported the wooden church named for the Forty Martyrs of Sebasteia beyond the monastery enclosure to the entryway monastery gate, and on its site in the year 1541 he built a church in the name of the Annunciation of the MostHoly Mother of God, and in 1559 he constructed a church in honour of the Protection-Pokrov of the MostHoly Mother of God.
The Pechersk monastery, risen up on the frontier of the Russian state, was not only a luminary of Orthodoxy, but also a bulwark against the external enemies of Russia.
In the years 1558-1565 the Monk Kornilii erected round about the monastery a massive stone wall, and over the holy gates in accord with his plan he built a stone church in the name of Saint Nicholas, entrusting to him the guarding of the monastery. Within the temple was set a wooden sculpted image of "Nikola the Warrior".
In the chronicle, compiled by the monk-deacon Pitirim, was thus recorded about the martyr's death of the Monk Kornilii: "This worthy-blest hegumen Kornilii... was as hegumen 41 years and 2 months; by his fast-keeping and holy life not only as a monk was he an image unto salvation... in these times being then in the Russian land evil sufferance of much unrest, and finally, from this perishable life the earthly tsar did dispatch him unto the Heavenly Tsar unto eternal habitation, in the year 1570 on the 20th day of February, in his 69th year from birth". (This information is on the ceramic plate -- from the ceramics covering the mouth of the tomb of the Monk Kornilii).
In the ancient manuscripts of the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra it was written, that when Hegumen Kornilii came out the monastery gates with a cross to meet the tsar, tsar Ivan the Terrible, angered by a false slander, with his own hand cut off his head, but then immediately repented of his deed and, taking up the body, in his own hands he carried it into the monastery. The pathway made scarlet by the blood of the Monk Kornilii, along which the tsar carried his body to the Uspenie-Dormition church, became called the "Bloody Path". Evidence of the tsar's repenting his deed was the generous recompense to the Pskovo-Pechersk monastery, made by him after the death of the Monk Kornilii. The name of the Hegumen Kornilii was inscribed in the tsar's remembrance-synodikon.
The body of the Monk Kornilii was set into the wall of "the cave formed by God", wherein it passed 120 years without corruption. In the year 1690 Markell, metropolitan of Pskov and Izborsk, had the relics transferred from the cave to the Uspenie-Dormition cathedral church and placed in a new crypt in the wall.
On 17 December 1872 the relics of the Monk Kornilii were transferred from the former tomb into a copper-silver reliquary, and in 1892 -- into a new reliquary. It is presumed, that the service to the monk-martyr was compiled for the day of the Uncovering of the Relics, in the year 1690.
The Monk Agathon of Pechersk was a great fast-keeper, and he healed the sick by a laying-on of his hands upon them, he likewise possessed a gift of prophecy and foretold the time of his own death. His memory is celebrated also with the Sobor-Assembly of the Monks of the Farther Caves on 28 August.
The PriestMartyr Sadok, Bishop of Persia, and with 128 Martyrs -- suffered in Persia under the emperor Sapor II. Saint Sadok was successor of the PriestMartyr Simeon (Comm. 17 April). One time he had a dream, in which Saint Simeon foretold him of his own impending martyr's death. Standing in great glory atop a ladder reaching up to Heaven, Saint Simeon said: "Ascend up to me, Sadok, and be not afraid -- I yesterday ascended, and thou today wilt ascend". Soon the emperor Sapor, renewing the persecution against Christians, gave orders to arrest Saint Sadok, together with his clergy and flock. In all there were 128 arrested, including 9 virgins. They were thrown into prison, where over a duration of five months they were cruelly tortured, amidst demands that they renounce the Christian faith and instead worship the sun and fire. The holy martyrs bravely answered: "We are Christians and give worship to the One God". They were sentenced to beheading by the sword.
The Monk Agathon, Pope of Rome, was the descendant of a rich family and of pious Christian parents, who provided him an excellent education. After their death Saint Agathon distributed away his inheritance to the poor and accepted monasticism. His virtuous life did not remain concealed from people. In the year 679 he was elevated to head the Roman Church, and he remained upon his cathedra-chair until his demise (+ 682).
The Monk Timothy the Wilderness-Dweller, an Italian by descent, from youth asceticised at a monastery, called "Symboleia", in Asia Minor near Mount Olympos. The archimandrite of the monastery was the Monk Theoktistos. Saint Timothy was his disciple and co-student of the Monk Platon, a Studite Confessor (+ 814, Comm. 5 April). Attaining an high degree of spiritual perfection, he received from God the gift of healing the sick and casting out unclean spirits. The monk spent many years as an hermit, roaming the wilderness, the mountains and forests, both day and night offering up prayer to the Lord God. He died in extreme old age, in the year 795.
Sainted Eustathios, Archbishop of Antioch (323-331) was born in Pamphylian Sidon in the second half of the III Century. He was bishop of Beria (Beroea), and enjoyed the love and esteem of the people, and at the request of his flock he was elevated by the fathers of the First OEcumenical Council (325) to the Antioch cathedra-chair.
Sainted Eustathios was profoundly learned as a theologian, and was likewise distinguished by his broad knowledge in the mundane sciences. When in the East there began spreading about the heresy of Arius, which denied the Consubstantiality of the Son of God together with the Father, Saint Eustathios struggled zealously -- in both word of mouth and in writing -- for the purity of the Orthodox faith. The First OEcumenical Council was convened in the year 325 by the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine the Great (306-337). The first to preside over this Council was Saint Eustathios. The Council condemned the heretical teachings of Arius and expounded the Orthodox confession into the Symbol of Faith (i.e. the Nicene Creed). But the mad Arius, as Saint Eustathios called him, who refused to renounce his errors, together with those of like mind with him, were deprived of dignity and excommunicated from the Church by the Council. Though among the bishops, who put their signature to the Nicene Symbol of Faith, were also those sympathising with the heresy of Arius yet signing the Acts of the Council not through conviction, but through fear of excommunication. After the Council, intrigues started against Saint Eustathios. With great cunning they gained his consent for the convening at Antioch of a Local Council. Having bribed a certain profligate woman, they persuaded her to appear at the Council with an infant at her breast, and falsely declare that the father of the infant was Saint Eustathios. Violating the Apostolic Rule concerning this, that accusations against clergy-servers need to be vouched to by two witnesses, the Arians declared Saint Eustathios deposed. Without a trial he was sent off into exile to Thrace. But the lie to the accusation was soon unmasked: having fallen grievously ill after the slandering, the woman repented, summoned the clergy and in the presence of many people she confessed her sin. But in this same time period Saint Constantine the Great had died, and onto the throne entered his son Constantius (337-361), who shared the heretical views of Arius and patronised the Arianising bishops. Even in exile Saint Eustathios struggled with all his same zeal for Orthodoxy. He died in exile, in the city of Philippi or Trajanopolis, in the year 337.
Convened in the year 381 at Constaninople, the Second OEcumenical Council confirmed the Orthodox Symbol of Faith, which Saint Eustathios had so assiduously defended. The Arian false-teaching was once again anthematised as heretical.
In the year 482 the relics of Saint Eustathios were reverently transferred from Philippi to Antioch, to the great joy of the Antioch people, who had not ceased to honour and love their confessor-patriarch.
Saint Eustathios was esteemed by the great hierarchs of the IV Century -- Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Athanasias of Alexandria, Epiphanios of Cyprus, Anastasias of Sinai and Jerome of Stridonia. The reknown church historian Bishop Theodorit of Cyr calls Saint Eustathios a pillar of the Church and a man of piety, of an equal footing with Saint Athanasias of Alexandria and the other bishops at the forefront in the struggle for Orthodoxy.
Sainted George, Bishop of Amastridea, was from the city of Kromna, nearby the city of Amastridea close to the Black Sea. His pious and illustrious parents Theodore and Migethusa gave him a fine education, both spiritual and secular. Saint George withdrew to a mountain in Syria, where he accepted monasticism and began to lead a strict ascetic life under the guidance of an hermit. After the death of the elder, Saint George resettled at a monastery in Bonissa, and there continued with his efforts. After the death of the bishop of the city of Amastridea, Saint George was chosen bishop by the clergy and the people, and he was ordained at Constantinople by Archbishop Tarasios (784-806, Comm. 25 February). Arriving in Amastridea, Saint George incessantly instructed his flock, he concerned himself about the embellishment of churches, was a defender of widows and orphans, fed the poor, and in everything he gave example of a God-pleasing life. By the power of his prayer he repulsed from the city of Amastridea Saracens that were ravaging the surroundings. He likewise delivered from death Amastridean merchants wrongfully condemned in the city of Trapezund. Saint George died peacefully amidst his flock, -- on 3 March -- during the reign of the emperor Nicephorus I (802-811).
Sainted John Scholastikos, Patriarch of Constantinople, was educated as a jurist. He accepted the dignity of presbyter, and later he was elevated to the patriarch throne, where he spent the years 565 to 577. While still a presbyter, he compiled a collection of Church Rules in 50 Chapters, and later during his time as patriarch he made a Codex of civil directives, relating to the Church. From these collections was compiled the Nomocanon (i.e. "Law-canon"), used in church administration. Saint John was also the author of the two Church hymns -- the "Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim", and the "At Thy Mystical Supper".
The Monk Zakharios, Patriarch of Jerusalem, lived from the end of the VI to the early VII Centuries. In the year 614 the Persian emperor Chosroes fell upon Jerusalem, looted it, and led into captivity many a Christian, including also Saint Zakharios. Together with his captives, Chosroes seized also the Life-Creating Cross of Christ. During the time of the invasion as many as 90,000 Christians perished. Afterwards Chosroes was compelled to sue for peace with the Byzantine emperor Heraclius (610-641). The Cross of the Lord was returned to Jerusalem. The Christian captives that yet remained alive also were returned, among them Patriarch Zakharios, who died peacefully in the year 633.
Saint Mauricios, a military commander of Syrian Apameia, suffered in the year 305 under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311) together with his son Photinos and 70 soldiers under his command (from the soldiers are known the names of only two -- Theodore and Philip).
During a time of persecution, pagan priests made denunciation to the emperor that Saint Mauricios was spreading the faith in Christ. Brought to trial, Saint Mauricios with his son and his soldiers firmly and unflinchingly confessed their faith and they wavered neither to entreaty nor to threats. They were then beaten without mercy, burnt at with fire and torn at with iron hooks. Young Photinos, having firmly endured the tortures, was beheaded by the sword before the very eyes of his father. But this cruel torment did not break Saint Mauricios, who took comfort in that his son had been vouchsafed the martyr's crown.
They then devised for the martyrs even more subtle tortures: they led them to a swampy place, where it was full of mosquitoes, wasps and gnats, and they tied them to trees, having smeared their bodies with honey. The insects fiercely stung and bit at the martyrs, who weakened by hunger and thirst. The saints endured these torments over the course of 10 days, but they did not cease praying to and glorifying God until finally the Lord put an end to their sufferings. The wicked torturer gave orders to behead them and leave their bodies exposed without burial, but Christians secretly by night buried the venerable remains of the holy martyrs at the place of their horrible execution.
The Monk Thalassios, Wilderness-Dweller of Syria, lived during the V Century. At a young age he withdrew atop an hill near the village of Targala and passed 38 years there in monastic deeds, having neither a roof over his head, nor any cell nor shelter. For his simple disposition, gentleness and humility he was granted by the Lord a gift of wonderworking and healing the sick. Many wanted to live under his guidance, and the saint did not refuse those coming to him, and he himself built cells for them. He died peacefully, granted rest from his labours.
The Monk Limnios began his efforts under the guidance of the Monk Thalassios and dwelt with him for a sufficiently long time to acquire the virtues of his teacher -- simplicity of manner, gentleness and humility. Then the Monk Limnios went over to the Monk Maron (Comm. 14 February). Atop an hill he made himself a small enclosure from stone without a roof, and through a small aperture in it, he conversed with those who came. His heart was full of compassion for people. Wanting to the extent of his ability to help all the destitute, and with the help of his admirers, he built on the hillside a wanderers home -- a dwelling for the poor and the crippled, and he fed them with what was brought him by pious people. The holy ascetic even sacrificed for these poor brethren his own quiet and solitude and took upon himself concern about their spiritual nourishment, inducing them to pray and glorify the Lord. For his holy life he was granted the gift of wonderworking.
The Monk Baradates the Syrian began the exploit of wilderness-dweller in an hut, in the surroundings of Antioch. He then built himself a stone cell upon an hill, very cramped and low, such that the ascetic was able to situate himself in it only in a stooped position. In it was neither window nor door, and in the cracks left intentionally there penetrated the wind, rain and cold, and in summer he was not protected from the heat. After many years the Alexandrian Patriarch Theodorit in visiting urged the monk to leave the cramped hut. Then the saint withdrew into a new seclusion: covered from head to foot by a leather tunic with a small opening for breathing, he prayed standing with hands upraised to heaven. The grace of God strengthened him in his works and purified his heart from passions. People began to flock to him for spiritual counsel, and Saint Baradates with deep humility guided them. Having acquired many graced gifts, the monk in peace expired to the Lord.
The Monk Athanasias the Confessor was born in Constantinople of rich and pious parents. From the time of his childhood he dreamt of totally devoting himself to God, and having attained to maturity of age, he settled in one of the Nicomedia monasteries, called the Paulopetreia (i.e., in the names of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul), and he took monastic vows there. The high degree of his ascetic life became known at the imperial court. During the reign of the iconoclast emperor, Leo the Armenian (813-820), Saint Athanasias was subjected to torture for venerating icons, and then underwent exile, grief and suffering. Confessing the Orthodox faith to the very end of his life, the Monk Athanasias died peacefully in the year 821.
Sainted Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was born about the year 80 and lived in Asia Minor in the city of Smyrna. He was left an orphan at an early age, but through the direction of an Angel, he was raised by the pious widow Kallista. After the death of his adoptive mother, Polycarp gave away his possessions and began to lead a chaste life, caring for the sick and the infirm. He was very fond of and close to the holy bishop of Smyrna Bukolos (Comm. 6 February). He ordained Polycarp as deacon, entrusting to him to preach the Word of God in church.
At this time the holy Apostle John the Theologian was still alive. Saint Polycarp was especially close to Saint John the Theologian, whom he accompanied on his apostolic wanderings. Sainted Bukolos ordained Saint Polycarp presbyter, and shortly before his death expressed last wishes that he be made bishop upon the Smyrna cathedra. When the ordination of Saint Polycarp to bishop was accomplished, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him. Saint Polycarp guided his flock with apostolic zeal. He was also greatly loved among the clergy. With great warmth did Saint Ignatios the God-Bearer regard him. Setting out to Rome where execution awaited him (he was torn asunder by wild beasts), he wrote to Saint Polycarp: "Just as the winds and turbulence require the rudder -- for coming ashore, so likewise are the present times necessary, in order to reach God".
The emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180) came upon the Roman throne and started up a most fierce persecution against christians. The pagans demanded that the judge seek out Saint Polycarp -- "the father of all the christians" and "the seducer of all Asia". During this while Saint Polycarp, at the persistent urging of his flock, stayed at a small village not far from Smyrna. When the soldiers came for him, he went out to them and led them in to eat, and at this time he began to pray, having prepared himself for the deed of martyrdom. His suffering and death are recorded in "An Epistle of the Christians of the Church of Smyrna to the other Churches" -- one of the most ancient memorials of Christian literature. Having been brought to trial, Saint Polycarp firmly confessed his faith in Christ and was condemned to burning. The executioners wanted to tie him to a post, but he calmly told them that the bon-fire would not work, and they could merely tie him with ropes. The flames encircled the saint but did not touch him, coming all together over his head. Seeing that the fire did him no harm, the throng of pagans demanded that he be killed with a sword. When they inflicted the wound upon Saint Polycarp, there flowed from it so much blood, that it extinguished the flames. The body of the priestmartyr Polycarp was then committed to flame. The Christians of Smyrna reverently gathered up his venerable remains, honouring his memory as sacred.
A story has been preserved about Saint Polycarp by his disciple, Sainted Ireneios of Lyons, which Eusebios cites in his "Ecclesiastical History" (V, 20): "I was still very young when I saw thee in Asia Minor at Polycarp's, -- writes Saint Ireneios to his friend Florinus, -- ...but I would still be able to point out the place where Blessed Polycarp sat and conversed, -- be able to depict his walk, his mannerisms in life, his outward appearance, his speaking to people, his companionable wandering with John, and how he himself related, together with other eye-witnesses of the Lord, -- those things that he remembered from the words of others and in turn told what he heard from them about the Lord, His teachings and miracles ... Through the mercy of God to me, I then already listened attentively to Polycarp and wrote down his words not on tablets, but in the depths of my heart ... Wherefore, I am able to witness before God, that if this blessed and apostolic elder heard something similar to thy fallacy, he would immediately stop up his ears and express his indignation with his usual phrase: 'Good God! That Thou hast permitted me to be alive at such a time!' ".
During his life the sainted bishop wrote several Epistles to the flock and letters to various individuals. There has survived to the present his Epistle to the Philippians which, on the testimony of Blessed Jerome, was read in the churches of Asia Minor at Divine-services. It was written by the saint in response to the request of the Philippians to send them a letter of the PriestMartyr Ignatios, which had been preserved by Saint Polycarp.
The Monk Polykarp of Bryansk, so they conjecture, was in the world prince Peter Ivanovich Boryatinsky, a descendant of Saint Michael, Prince of Chernigov (Comm. 20 September). This supposition has been put forward because of the Boryatinsky in the destiny of the Bryansk Saviour Transfiguration (Spaso-Preobrazhensk) monastery. His life transpired during the course of the XVI Century. The name of prince Peter Boryatinsky is often encountered in documents of the XVI Century. Thus, he was among those sent off to wage war against the Swedish king at the river Sestra. In 1576 he was named voevoda at Tula. In 1580 Boryatinsky, having been appointed voevoda at Kholm, was captured by the Lithuanians under a siege headed by Panin. Upon his release from captivity under Boris Godinov, Boryatinsky returned in disgrace. In 1591 he was named voevoda at Tiumen', but after several years he left the world, settled at Bryansk and took monastic vows with the name Polykarp. From his means the monk built a monastery of the Transfiguration of the Lord and established in it strict ascetic life. Saint Polykarp was the first head of this monastery. He died and was buried there in 1620 or 1621.
The Monk John, disciple of Saint Limnios (Comm. 22 February), lived in Syria in the V Century, and chose for himself the ascetic deed of "a shelterless life". He settled on an hill, closed off from the wind on all sides, and lived there for 25 years. He nourished himself but with bread and salt, and he exhausted his body under heavy chains. When one of the nearby ascetics planted an almond tree on the hill so that the monk might get under its shade and out of the vicious heat, the saint bid him to cut it down, so as not to give his body any respite.
The Monk Moses, copying Saint John, settled on an high mountain near the village of Rama.
The Monks Antiochos and Antoninos likewise pursued asceticism with him. Until extreme old age they continued with their ascetic deed, offering an example of spiritual strength, and having surmounted every obstacle.
The Monk Zevinos pursued ascetic life on the same mountain. He reached extreme old age, but never did he sit down during his rule of prayer, though sometimes he merely leaned on his staff. The neighbouring inhabitants venerated the monk Zevinos, and they received through his prayers great help in their sorrows and needs.
Saint Polychronios, a disciple of the monk Zevinos, copying the life of his elder spent both day and night in fasting and vigil. Chains the monk Polychronios had not, but at the time of prayer he put upon his shoulders an heavy oaken root, which he himself had extracted from the earth. By his prayer Saint Polychronios interceded with God for rain during a time of drought, and for the needy he filled up a stone vessel with oil.
With the monk Polychronios there lived his student the Monk Moses. Copying his elder in everything, Saint Moses was the very model of austere ascetic life.
Another student -- the Monk Damian, withdrew to a monastery named Ieros and there pursued asceticism, having in his cell only a small box of lentils from which he ate.
All these monastic fathers died peacefully in the V Century in Syria.
The Monk Alexander, Founder of the "Unceasing Vigilance" Monastery, was born in Asia and received his education at Constantinople. He spent some time in military service but, sensing a calling to other service, he left the world and accepted monastic vows in one of the wilderness monasteries near Antioch under the guidance of hegumen Elias. Having advanced bit by bit through the degrees of monastic obedience, he received blessing from the hegumen to dwell in the wilderness. The monk pursued asceticism in the wilderness with but the Holy Gospel, which alone he took with him. Afterwards, the Lord summoned him to preach to pagans. He converted to the faith the local city-head Rabbul, who afterwards prospered in the service of the Church, being granted the dignity of bishop and for all of 30 years he occupied the bishop's cathedra (chair) at the city of Edessa.
Finally, the monk Alexander settled not far from the Euphrates River. Monks gathered around him, attracted by the loftiness of his prayerful asceticism and spiritual experience. A monastery arose numbering 400 monks. Then the holy hegumen in his prayerful zeal decided to make at the monastery both by day and by night never-ceasing praise to the Lord. For three years the holy abba prayed, that God might reveal to him, whether it should be pleasing to Him to establish such a monastic rule. And by a Divine revelation it was brought about in the following manner: all the monks were divided by him into 24 watches of prayer. Changing shifts each hour, they sang in two choirs both day and night the holy psalms, with the exceptions when Divine-services were celebrated in church. Hence the name "Monastery of Unceasing Vigilance", since unceasing song was offered up by the ascetics to God.
The monk Alexander guided the monastery on the Euphrates for twelve years. Thereafter, having left as its hegumen the experienced elder Trophymos, he set off with some chosen brethren through the cities bordering on Persia, to preach the Gospel and conversion to spiritual life. Having arrived at Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine empire, he also established there a monastery with his favoured ustav (rule) of "unceasing vigilance". The monastic abba died in extreme old age after fifty years of incessant monastic striving. His death occurred in the year 430.
The commemoration of the Monk Alexander is also celebrated on 3 July.
Saint Gorgonea, Sister of Sainted Gregory the Theologian, was distinguished for her great virtue, piety, meekness, sagacity and toil. Her house was ever an haven for the poor. She died at age 39 in about the year 372 with the words of the psalm: "In peace I do both fall asleep and expire".
The Monk Moisei (Moses) of Belozersk was an ascetic at the Troitsky / Trinity monastery at Beloozero (White Lake) at end of XV -- beginning XVI Century. The Trinity Ustishekhansk in which the monk Moisei practised asceticism, was transferred by him from the mouth of the river Sheksna to the environs of Belozersk in about the year 1480. About the monk Moisei is known, that he was distinguished by the gift of perspicacity.
The Monk Damian practised silence on Athos, in the skete Esthigmena monastery, on a mountain in Samaria, and in one of the caves wherein asceticism had been pursued by the Father of Russian Monasticism -- the Monk Antonii of Pechersk (Comm. 10 July). Blessed Damian enjoyed the especial friendship of Saint Kozma of Zografsk (Comm. 22 September). Having been a true obedient and having kept firmly the injunctions of the fathers, the monk was glorified upon his death by a miraculous fragrance, which issued from his grave during the course of 40 days.
After the cutting off of the Head of the Prophet, ForeRunner and Baptist John (Comm. 29 August), his body was buried by disciples in the Samarian city of Sebasteia, and the venerable head was hidden by Herodias in an unclean place. Pious Joanna, wife of king Herod's steward Chuza (there is made mention about him by the holy evangelist Luke -- Lk 8: 3), secretly took the holy head and placed it into a vessel and buried it on the Mount of Olives -- in one of the properties of Herod. After many years this property passed into the possession of the dignitary Innocentius, who began to build a church there. When they dug a trench for the foundation, the vessel with the venerable head of John the Baptist was uncovered. Innocentius recognised the great holiness of it from the signs of grace occurring from it. Thus occurred the First Discovery of the Head. Innocentius preserved it with great piety, but before his own death, fearful so that the holy relic should not be abused by unbelievers, he again hid it in that same place, where it was found...Upon his death the church fell into ruin and was destroyed.
During the days of Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine the Great (+ 337, Comm. 21 May), when the Christian faith began to flourish, the holy ForeRunner himself appeared twice unto two monks journeying to Jerusalem on pilgrimage to the holy places, and he revealed the location of his venerable head. The monks uncovered the holy relic and, placing it into a sack of camel-hair, they proceeded homewards. Along the way they encountered an un-named potter and gave him to carry the precious burden. Not knowing what he was carrying, the potter continued on his way. But the holy ForeRunner himself appeared to him and ordered him to flee from the careless and lazy monks, together with that which was in his hands. The potter concealed himself from the monks and at home he preserved the venerable head with reverence. Before his death he sealed it into a water-carrying vessel and gave it over to his sister. From that time the venerable head was successively preserved by pious christians, until the priest Eustathios infected with the Arian heresy -- came into possession of it. He seduced a multitude of the infirm, healed by the holy head, adding abundance to the heresy. When his blasphemy was uncovered, he was compelled to flee. Having buried the holy relic in a cave, near Emessus, the heretic intended to afterwards return and again take possession of it for disseminating falsehood. But God did not permit this. Pious monks settled into the cave, and then at this place arose a monastery. In the year 452 Saint John the Baptist in a vision to the archimandrite of this monastery Marcellus indicated the place of concealment of his head. This became celebrated as the Second Discovery. The holy relic was transferred to Emessus, and later to Constantinople.
The Monk Erasm of Pechersk -- Sainted Simon, bishop of Vladimir (+ 1226, Comm. 10 May), wrote about him to his friend the Monk Polykarp (+ 1182, Comm. 24 July): "There was at Pechersk the black-robed (chernorizets) Erasm. He acquired a legacy of fame in that everything he possessed he used for the adornment of the Pechersk church: he mounted many an icon, which even now are over the altar. But with him there occurred suchlike a temptation, that when he came to be impoverished, he then came to be disdainful. The spirit of evil then began to suggest to him: "It gaineth thee naught, that thou squandered possessions upon the church, yea better were it that thou used it on the poor". Not having made proper sense about such thoughts, Erasm went into despondency and began to live carelessly. Because of his virtue the Gracious and Merciful God saved him. He brought upon him a grievous illness. In this sickness Erasm lay numb with closed eyes for seven days, hardly breathing. On the eighth day the brethren came to him and, seeing his terrible gasping, said: "Woe, woe to the soul of this brother, squandered in idleness. It beholds thee something and rebels, not leaving the body". And here Erasm suddenly stood up, as though healthy, and said: "Fathers and brethren! I am exactly a sinner, and a sinner not having repented, as ye said, but here not have appeared to me our monastic fathers Antonii and Theodosii, and said: "We have prayed for thee, and the Lord hath given thee time for repentance. Then beheld I the All-Pure Mother of God with Christ Son of God on Her arms, and She saith to me: "Erasm, since thou did adorn My Church with icons, I likewise adorn thee in the Kingdom of my Son! Arise, repent, put on the angelic form, and on the third day I shalt take thee to Myself as one having loved the magnificence of My home". Having said this, Erasm began to confess his sins before all without shame, then went to church and was envested in the schema, and on the third day he died" (+ c. 1160). The Monk Erasm was buried in the Nearer Caves. His memory is also 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
Sainted Tarasias, Patriarch of Constantinople, came of illustrious lineage. He was born and raised in Constantinople, where he received a fine education. He was rapidly promoted at the court of the emperor Constantine VI Porphyrigenitos (780-797) and Constantine's mother, the holy Empress Irene (797-802; Comm. 7 August), and the saint reached the rank of senator. During these times the Church was agitated by the turmoil of the Iconoclast disturbances. The holy Patriarch Paul (780-784, Comm. 30 August) although not sympathetic in soul with Iconoclasm, through his weakness of character was not able to decisively contend with the heresy and he therefore withdrew to a monastery, where he took the schema. When the holy Empress Irene together with her son the emperor came to him, Saint Paul declared to them, that the most worthy successor to him would be Saint Tarasias (who at this time was still a layman). Tarasias for a long time refused, not considering himself worthy of so very high a dignity, but he then gave in to the common accord, on the condition, that an OEcumenical Council be convened for rendering judgement on the Iconoclast heresy. Proceeding in a short while through all the degrees of clergy dignity, Saint Tarasias was elevated to the Patriarchal throne in the year 784. In the year 787 in the city of Nicea, with holy Patriarch Tarasias presiding, -- the Seventh OEcumenical Council was convened, at which were present 367 bishops. The affirmation of holy icons was confirmed at the Council. Those of the bishops, who repented of Iconoclasm, were again received by the Church.
Saint Tarasias wisely governed the Church for 22 years. He led a strict ascetic life. He used up all his money on God-pleasing ends, feeding and giving comfort to the old, to the impoverished, to widows and orphans, and on Holy Pascha he set out for them the meal at which he himself served. The holy Patriarch fearlessly denounced the emperor Constantine Porphyrigenitos when that one slandered his spouse, the empress Maria -- the grand-daughter of Righteous Philaretos the Merciful (+ 792, Comm. 1 December), so that he could be rid of Maria to a monastery thus freeing him to marry his own kins-woman. Saint Tarasias resolutely refused to dissolve the marriage of the emperor, for which the saint fell into disgrace. Soon, however, Constantine was deposed by his own mother, the Empress Irene. Saint Tarasias died in the year 806. Before his death, devils reminded him of his life from the time of his youth, and they tried to get the saint to admit to sins that he had not even committed. "I am innocent in that of which ye speak, -- replied the saint, -- and ye do falsely slander me, yet mustneeds it be ye have no power over me". Mourned by the Church, the saint was buried in a monastery built by him on the Bosphorus. From his grave was worked many a miracle.
Sainted Porphyrios, Archbishop of Gaza, was born in about the year 346 at Thessalonika in Macedonia. His parents were people of substance, and this allowed Saint Porphyrios to receive a fine education. Having the inclination for monastic life, at twelve years of age he left his native region and set off to Egypt, where he asceticised in the Nitreian desert under the guidance of the Monk Makarios the Great (Comm. 19 January). There also he met Blessed Jerome (Comm. 15 June), who was then visiting the Egyptian monasteries; he set off with him to Jerusalem on pilgrimage to the holy places and to reverence the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord (Comm. 14 September), after which he resettled into the Jordanian wilderness for prayer and ascetic deeds. There Saint Porphyrios fell under a serious malady. For healing he decided to go to the holy places of Jerusalem. One time, when fully paralysed he lay half-conscious at the foot of Golgotha, the Lord sent His servant into a salvific sleep-vision. Saint Porphyrios beheld Jesus Christ, descending with the Cross and turning to him with the words: "Take this Wood and preserve it". Awakening, he sensed himself healthy. The words of the Saviour were soon fulfilled: the Patriarch of Jerusalem ordained Saint Porphyrios to the priestly dignity and appointed him curator of the Venerable Wood of the Cross of the Lord. And it was during this time that Saint Porphyrios received his portion of an inheritance from his parents -- 4 thousand gold coins. All this he gave away to the needy and for the embellishing of the churches of God.
In 395 the bishop of the city of Gaza (in Palestine) died. The local Christians set out to Caesarea to the Metropolitan John with a request to provide them a new bishop, who would be able to contend against the pagans, which were predominant in their city and were harassing the Christians there. The Lord inspired the Metropolitan to summon the Jerusalem presbyter Porphyrios. With fear and trembling the ascetic accepted the dignity of bishop, and with tears he prostrated himself before the Life-Creating Wood and then set off to fulfill his new obedience.
In Gaza he found all of only three Christian churches, but of the pagan temples and idols -- there were a great many. During this time there had occurred a long spell without rain, causing a severe drought. The pagan-priests brought offerings to their idols, but the woes did not cease. Saint Porphyrios imposed a fast for all the Christians; he then made the all-night vigil, followed by going round all the city in a church procession. Immediately the sky covered over with storm clouds, thunder boomed, and abundant rains poured down. Seeing this miracle, many a pagan cried out: "Christ is indeed the One True God!" As a result of this, there came to be united to the Church through Holy Baptism 127 men, 35 women and 14 children, and soon after this, another 110 men.
But the pagans just like before still harassed the Christians, passed them over for public office, and burdened them down with taxes. Saint Porphyrios and the Metropolitan of Caesarea John set off to Constantinople, to seek redress from the emperor. Saint John Chrysostom (Comm. 14 September, 27 and 30 January) received them and rendered them active assistance.
Saints John and Porphyrios were presented to the empress Eudoxia who at that time was expecting a child. "Intercede for us, -- said the bishops to the empress, -- and the Lord will send thee a son, who shalt reign during thine lifetime". Eudoxia very much wanted a son, since she had given birth only to daughters. And actually through the prayer of the saints an heir was born to the imperial family... In consequence of this, the emperor in the year 401 issued an edict directing the destruction of the pagan temples in Gaza and the restoration of privileges to Christians. Moreover, the emperor bestowed on the saints the means for the construction of a new church, which was to be built in Gaza on the locale of the chief pagan-temple there.
Saint Porphyrios to the very end of his life upheld Christianity in Gaza and guarded well his flock from the vexatious pagans. Through the prayers of the saint there occurred numerous miracles and healings. Over the course of 25 years the archpastor guided veritable flock and reposed at an advanced age, in the year 420.
The Holy Martyrs Sebastian and Christodoulos died by the sword under Nero (54-68). They were companions of the holy Martyress Photinia (Comm. 20 March).
The Holy Martyr John Kalphes (Architect) lived in a suburb of Constantinople, called Galata. By profession he was an architect and in his craft he had acquired great mastery, such that important officials made use of his services. He was entrusted with the inner adornment of the sultan's palace.
Saint John Kalphes was distinguished for his Christian charity, he concerned himself over orphans and about those locked up in prison, and many turned to him for help. One time a certain dignitary asked Saint John to take on his nephew as an apprentice. He agreed, and the youth upon completion of his apprenticeship received honourable position at court. And one time, encountering his former teacher and benefactor, he began to question Saint John, what it says in the Christian books about the "prophet" Mahomet. Saint John did not want to answer his question, but in light of the persistent demands of the youth, he declared the falseness of Mahometanism. The youth, devoted to Islam, reported to his co-religionists, that the architect had insulted Mahomet. They brought Saint John to trial, where they demanded that he renounce Christ, but he bravely confessed his Orthodox faith. After torture, they sent the holy martyr off to penal servitude, where he spent 6 months. Then, over the course of the next three months they beat him in the prison and finally, on 26 February 1575, they beheaded him in the crowded city-square in Ergat-Bazara, near Bezstan. The suffering of the holy Martyr John Kalphes were recorded by a steward of the Constantinople Patriarch, Andrew, who communed him with the Holy Mysteries in prison.
The Monk Prokopios Dekapolites lived during the VIII Century in the region of Dekapolis (Mk. 7: 31), to the east of Lake Galilee. And there also he devoted himself to salvation, occupied with monastic deeds.
Saint Prokopios, together with his co-ascetic Saint Basil (Comm. 28 February) and others zealous for holy Orthodoxy, rose up against the Iconoclast heresy that had arisen in those times. By order of the emperor Leo the Isaurian (716-741), the Monk Prokopios was arrested, subjected to a fierce scourging and thrown into prison. Here he languished together with the Monk Basil until the very death of the oppressive emperor, after which the holy confessors were set free. The Monk Prokopios spent the rest of his life peacefully at monastic deeds, guiding many on the way of virtue and salvation. He died in old age, in about the year 750.
The Monk Tito, Presbyter of Pechersk, in the Near Caves, lived in great friendship with the deacon Evagrii, which afterwards turned into a strong dislike and hostility. When the Presbyter Tito fell ill with a grievous illness and began to ready himself for death, he sent to Evagrii to implore forgiveness, but Evagrii would not be reconciled. The Pechersk brethren by force brought Evagrii to the sick-bed. The Monk Tito with tears begged him for forgiveness, but Evagrii remained obstinate. He declared that he would forgive Tito neither at present nor in the future. Having said this, he himself fell down dead, struck with a spear by an Angel, and at that very instant Tito received healing.
The Monk Tito increased his efforts, became known for especial humility, and became a wonderworker.
The Monk Tito reposed not earlier than 1190. His memory, besides 27 February, is celebrated also on 28 September with the Sobor-Assembly of the Monks of the Nearer Caves.
The Monk Thalaleos lived during the V Century. He was a native of Cilicia (Asia Minor), accepting monasticism at the monastery of Saint Sava the Sanctified, and was ordained presbyter there. Later on, having relocated to Syria, not far from the city of Habala, he found a dilapidated pagan temple surrounded by graves, and he settled there in a tent. This place had a rough reputation, since the unclean spirits residing there frightened travellers and caused them much harm.
And here the monk lived, praying day and night in total solitude. The demons often assailed the saint, trying to terrify him with sights and sounds. But by the power of God the monk gained victory over the power of the enemy ultimately, after which he was troubled no more. The monk then intensified his efforts even more: he built himself an hut, so very cramped that it was just possible to get into it, and only with an effort was it possible to keep up his head, and there he dwelt for about 10 years.
The Lord granted the ascetic the gift of wonderworking: miracles helped him to enlighten the surrounding inhabitants, who were pagans. And with the help of the inhabitants converted by him to Christianity, he demolished the idolous temple, building in its place a church and bringing into it daily Divine-services. The Monk Thalaleos died in old age in about the year 460. In the book entitled "Leimonarion", or "Pratum" ("The Meadow"), -- a composition of the Greek monk John Moskhos (+ 622), -- it speaks thus about the Monk Thalaleos: "Abba Thalaleos was a monk for sixty years and with tears never ceased saying: God hath given us, brethren, this time for repentance, and if we perish, we then shalt be severely judged".
The Monks Asklepios and James, Syrian Ascetics, lived during the V Century. Blessed Theodorit of Cyr speaks of them. The Monk Asklepios led an ascetic life of temperance in his native village and did not suffer hindrance by constant association with many people. He had many imitators and followers. One of them was Blessed James, who secluded himself into a small dwelling near the village of Nimuza. Up until the end of his 90 years of life, the ascetic did not exit his hermitage, giving answer to those who came through a small aperture, made on a slant in the wall, such that no one was able to see him. He never prepared a fire nor lighted a lamp.
The Monk Stephen, formerly a courtier under the emperor Maurice (582-602), left his service, and founded an hospice for the elderly at Armatia (Constantinople), and devoted himself totally to the effort of taking in strangers. He died peacefully somewhat beyond age 61.
The Holy Martyrs Julian, Eunos (Kronion) his servant, Beza (Bisos) the soldier and Mekaros suffered at the beginning of the reign of Decius (249-251) at Alexandria. Saint Julian, a very old man, suffered from gout and could neither stand nor get about. He was carried to the trial by his servants, one of whom, one of whom by the name of Eunos bravely confessed faith in Christ, even though a second servant recanted. They took Julian and Eunos through the city on camels, subjecting them to the jeering of pagans, and finally burnt them in a bon-fire. The soldier Saint Beza also suffered together with them. For trying to defend the holy martyrs from insult, he was beheaded by the sword. And then also Mekaros of Lebanon was burnt.
The Monk Basil the Confessor was a monastic and suffered during the reign of the iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian (717-741). When a persecution started against those that venerated holy icons, Saint Basil together with his companion the Monk Prokopios (Comm. 27 February) was subjected to much torture and locked up in prison. here both martyrs languished for a long while, until the death of the impious emperor. When the holy Confessors Basil and Prokopios were set free together with other venerators of holy icons, they continued with their monastic efforts, instructing many in the Orthodox faith and the virtuous life. The Monk Basil died peacefully in the year 750.
Sainted Meletii, Archbishop of Khar'kov and Akhtyrsk (in the world Mikhail Ivanovich Leontovich), was born 6 November 1784 in the village of Stara Stanzhara in the Poltava district.
In 1808 Mikhail Leontovich successfully completed the Ekaterinoslav religious Seminary. As the best student, he was sent on by the Ekterinoslav archbishop Platon to Peterburg, to the Alexandro-Nevsky Spiritual Academy [in Russia, "spiritual academy" is higher level of religious training beyond "seminary"]. Finishing the spiritual academy in 1814 with the degree of "magister" ["teacher"], he was appointed adjunct-professor of Greek language.
On 11 March 1817 they appointed Mikhail Leontovich to the office of secretary of the Academy Building committee.
On 30 July 1817 they transferred him to the Kiev religious Seminary, to serve in the office of inspector, as well as professor of Church history and Greek language. When the Kiev Spiritual Academy opened on 28 September 1819, Mikhail Leontovich became its first inspector.
On 11 February 1820, on the eve of the day of memory of Sainted Meletios of Antioch, in the cathedral church of the Kievo-Bratsk monastery, he was tonsured into monasticism with the name Meletii. The tonsure was made by the Kiev metropolitan Evgenii (Bolkhovitnikov). On 22 February 1820 the Monk Meletii was ordained by metropolitan Evgenii to the dignity of deacon, and on 25 February -- to priestmonk.
On 9 August 1821 Priest-monk Meletii was appointed rector of the Mogilevsk religious Seminary and head of the Kuteinsk Orshansk monastery with elevation to the dignity of archimandrite. In August 1823 they transferred him to the office of rector of the Pskov religious Seminary, and on 24 January 1824 Archimandrite Meletii was appointed rector of the Kiev Spiritual Academy.
In October 1826 the Holy Synod followed with a decision to appoint Archimandrite Meletii as bishop of Chigirinsk, a vicar of the Kiev diocese and head of the Zlatoverkh Mikhailovsk monastery. On 19 October 1826 was his appointment as bishop, and on 21 October 1826 was made the archpastoral consecration at the Kiev Sophia cathedral.
With a fatherly love the saint concerned himself about young foster-children, raising them in a spirit of devotedness to the Church of Christ. The saint had particular concern for the needy, and widows and orphans. He often visited the imprisoned and provided them the consolation of Divine-services in the prison-churches. The saint also was no little concerned about the spiritual nourishment of the brethren of the Mikhailovsk monastery. With edifying discourse and personal example he inspired in the monks of the monastery a spirit of true asceticism. Saint Meletii said: "Humility -- is the guarding sword, with which to pass over earth and hades, to reach Heaven".
In April 1828 Sainted Meletii received appointment to the Perm cathedral.
Strict towards himself, the saint was strict also towards others. To prepare chosen candidates for the accepting of the dignity, Saint Meletii himself wrote for them the so-called "Ordinant's Catechism". In August 1831 Saint Meletii was transferred to the Irkutsk cathedra-seat, with elevation to the dignity of archbishop.
The saint devoted great attention to the enlightenment of the lesser nations of Russia with the light of the Gospel teaching. The saint founded churches in the north of Kamchatka, in the northeast parts of the Irkutsk diocese and along the Aldan River, on the tract from Yakutsk to Okhotsk. He often reviewed his extensive diocese, going to the shores of the Okhotsk and Arctic Seas, to the boundary lines of North America, where there then laboured the reknown Apostle of Siberia -- the Priest Ioann Veniaminov, later known as the Apostle to America Sainted Innocent (Innokentii, Comm. 23 September and 31 March). Journeying through Siberia and along the shores of the Pacific Ocean, Saint Meletii frequently interacted with the native peoples who professed Lamaism. The saint with gentleness urged them to leave behind their errors and he explained the Gospel truths to these pagan peoples: the Tungus, the Buryats, the Kamchadali, and also the inhabitants of the Kurile and Aleutian Islands.
With his untiring efforts the health of the saint began to deteriorate, and they transferred him in 1835 to the Slobodsk-Ukrainsk cathedra-seat (afterwards the cathedra of Khar'kov and Akhtyrsk).
And here Sainted Meletii devoted great attention to the institutions of spiritual learning, and much concerned himself about the life and education of the clergy.
He raised questions about the restoration of those monasteries and spiritual schools, which the empress Catherine II had closed up. The saint also allotted great attention to the struggle with the schismatics.
On 2 July 1839 Saint Meletii led the solemnity in the city of Akhtyrk with the 10 year anniversary of the appearance of the wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God, named the Akhtyrsk.
The blessed end of the saint occurred on the night of 29 February 1840. After Communion, with the words "Now lettest Thou Thy Servant depart in peace", the saint signed himself with the sign of the cross and, having turned to everyone with the words "Forgive me", -- he expired to the Lord.
On 4 March 1840 Saint Meletii was consigned to the earth by the Kursk bishop Iliodor within a burial crypt beneathe the Church of the Cross at the Pokrov monastery.
From the first days after his death believing people firmly trusted on the intercession of Saint Meletii before God, and they received the help of grace: healing in sicknesses, comfort in sorrows and deliverance from difficult circumstances. Believers in Khar'kov put especial trust in Saint Meletii during the terrible days of the "Great War for the Fatherland" (World War II). With miraculous advice the saint predicted the impending deliverance of the city from the enemy.
In 1948, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Alexei, the coffin with the relics of Saint Meletii was transferred to the Annunciation cathedral church, where they remain to the present day, manifesting spiritual recourse and prayerful comfort for believers.
On the day of affirmation in 1977 by His Holiness Patriarch Pimen and the Holy Synod of a service with an akathist to sainted Meletii, Khar'kov believers hastened to the cathedral on a Wednesday evening, there to ask the prayerful intercession of the saint for the welfare of Holy Church, for peace and for the prosperity of their Fatherland.
Blessed Nikolai of Pskov for more than three decades assumed the exploit of holy fool. And quite a long while before death he acquired the gifts of grace of the Holy Spirit and was granted the gift of wonderworking and of prophecy. The Pskov people of his time called him Mikula (Mikola, Nikola) Sallos, which in translation from the Greek means "blessed, fool", and even during his lifetime they revered him as a saint, even calling him Mikula the Holy.
In February the year 1570, after a devastating campaign with an army of the Oprichniki against Novgorod, tsar Ivan the Terrible moved against Pskov, suspecting treason and preparing it a like fate of Novgorod. As the Pskov chronicler relates, "the tsar was come... with great fierceness, like a roaring lion, as though to tear apart innocent people and to shed much blood".
All the city prayed for the averting of the tsar's wrath. Hearing the peal of the bell for matins throughout all of Pskov, the tsar was reading the inscription on the wonderworking Liubyatovsk (at Liubatov stood the tsar's army) Umilenie-Tenderness Icon of the Mother of God (Comm. 19 March). "Be kind of heart, -- said he to his soldiers, -- lay down the swords upon the stones, and let the killings cease".
All the inhabitants of Pskov came out upon the streets, and each family was on their knees at the gate of their house, bearing bread and salt for the meeting of the tsar. On one of the streets Blessed Nikolai ran out towards the tsar, astride a stick as though galloping an horse, and cried out to the tsar: "Ivanushko, Ivanushko, eat the bread-salt, and not Christian blood".
The tsar gave orders to catch the holy fool, but he disappeared.
Having forbidden the killings, Ivan the Terrible still intended to punish the city. The tsar heard the molieben at the Trinity cathedral, he venerated the relics of holy nobleborn Prince Vsevolod-Gabriel (Comm. 11 February), and he desired to receive the blessing of Blessed Nikolai.
When the tsar arrived at the cell of the saint, that one said: "Hush, come in, (wouldst thou have nothing, traveller), to have a drink of water from us, there is no reason thou shouldst shun it". The holy fool offered the tsar for a bite a piece of raw meat. "I be a Christian and do not eat meat during Lent", -- said Ivan to him. "Thou drinkest human blood", -- the saint answered him, instructing the tsar "by many terrible sayings", that he should cease the killings and not plunder the holy churches of God. But Ivan did not heed him and gave orders to take the bell from the Trinity cathedral, and then, in accord with the prophecy of the saint, the finest horse of the tsar collapsed.
The prayer and the lecture of the saint awakened the conscience of the tsar. Frightened by the coming to pass of the prophecy and denounced in his wicked deeds, Ivan the Terrible ordered a stop to the plunder and fled from the city. The Oprichniki, witnessing this, wrote: "The mighty tyrant... departed beaten and shamed, driven off as though by an enemy. Thus did a worthless beggar terrify and drive off the tsar with his multitude of a thousand soldiers".
Blessed Nikolai died on 28 February 1576 and was buried in the Trinity cathedral of the city saved by him. Such honours were granted only to the Pskov princes, and later on, archpastors.
The local veneration of the saint began all of 5 years after his death. In the year 1581, during a siege of Pskov by the soldiers of the Polish king Stefan Bathory, to the blacksmith Dorofei appeared the Mother of God together with a gathering of Pskov saints praying for the city, among whom also was Blessed Nikolai (the account about the Pskovo-Pokrovsk Icon of the Mother of God is located under 1 October).
And still now also at the Trinity cathedral do they venerate the relics of Blessed Nikolai of Pskov, who "of the flesh of folly wast, ... being manifest a citizen of Mount Jerusalem, ... having transformed the tsar's might and fierce mind to mercy".
During the time of the patriarchal tenure of Dioskoros (444-451), who was an adherent of the Monophysite false-teaching of Eutykhios, -- at Alexandria there lived the presbyter Proterias, who fearlessly denounced the heretics and confessed the Orthodox faith. In the year 451 at the Fourth OEcumenical Council at Chalcedon, the heresy of Eutykhios was condemned and the definition established, by which Christ is confessed to be Perfect God and Perfect Man, existing in these two natures "unconfusedly" and "indivisibly" [and "immutably" and "inseparably"]. The heretic Dioskoros was deposed and exiled, and upon the Alexandria patriarchal throne was elevated Proterias, distinguished for his strict and virtuous life.
However, many supporters of Dioskoros remained in Alexandria, and rebelling against the choice of Proterias, they rioted and burned the soldiers, sent out to pacify them. The pious emperor Marcian (450-457) deprived the Alexandrians of all the privileges they were accustomed to, and dispatched new and re-inforced detachments of soldiers. The inhabitants of the city then quieted down and besought Patriarch Proterias to intercede before the emperor to restore them their former privileges. The kindly saint consented and readily gained the request.
After the death of Marcian the heretics again raised their heads. Presbyter Timothy, himself striving for the patriarchal dignity, and taking advantage of the absence of the governor of the city, came forth at the head of the rioters. Saint Proterias decided to leave Alexandria, but that night he saw in a dream the holy Prophet Isaiah, who said to him: "Return to the city, and there I shalt await thee". The saint realised that this -- was a premonition about his martyr's end. He returned to Alexandria and concealed himself in a baptistry.
The rioting heretics broke into this refuge and killed the patriarch and six men who were with him. It did not even stop them, that this occurred during the Canon of Pascha -- on Holy Saturday. In their raging they went so far, that they tied a rope to the body of the murdered patriarch, and they dragged it on the street, struck at and lacerated it, and finally they burnt it, and scattered the ashes to the wind (+ 457).
The Orthodox reported about this to the holy Emperor Leo (457-474) and Saint Anatolios, Patriarch of Constantinople (449-458). An army arrived at Alexandria, the rebellion was crushed, and Timothy brought to trial and exiled.
Regarding the death of the PriestMartyr Proterias, four Thracian bishops of his time wrote: "We do consider His Holiness Proterias in the ranks and choir of the Saints, and we beseech God to be compassionate and merciful to us through his prayers".
The PriestMartyr Nestor, Bishop of Magiddisum, during a time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Decius (249-251), was arrested in his home while at prayer. He was informed about the suffering awaiting him by a peculiar revelation -- the sight of a lamb, readied for killing. The governor of the city of Magiddisum sent him for trial to Pergium. On the way there Saint Nestor was strengthened in spirit -- he heard a Voice from Heaven, after which there occurred an earthquake. After cruel tortures at Pergium the priestmartyr was crucified on a cross.
The Nuns Marina and Kyra, sisters by birth, lived during the IV Century in the city of Beria (or Beroea) in Asia Minor. Their parents were illustrious and rich, but the sisters upon reaching mature age left home and departed the city. Having parcelled off a small plot of land, the holy virgins sealed up the entrance to their refuge with stones and clay, leaving merely a narrow opening, through which food was passed through to them, and they lived under the open sky. On their bodies they wore heavy iron chains and patiently they endured hunger: during the course of three years they accepted food one time in 40 days. Their former servants came to them, wanting to join their ascetic life. The saints situated them in a separate cottage hut not far from their enclosure and they guided them, exhorting them to deeds of prayer and fasting. The life of the holy ascetics Marina and Kyra was well known to Blessed Theodorit, Bishop of Cyr: he alone, out of respect for his hierarchical dignity, did the holy virgins allow into their dwelling. Blessed Theodorit conversed with them and persuaded them not to overburden themselves with the bearing of chains, which were so heavy that Kyra being weak in body was always stooped under their weight and unable to straighten up. Thus did they pursue asceticism over the course of 40 years. They disturbed their solitude only to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to pray at the Sepulchre of the Lord. During the time of travel they partook of no food until they prayed at the Holy Places, and returning back they likewise partook of nothing. Such an exploit they did yet another time, when they journeyed to the grave of the First-Martyress Equal-to-the-Apostles Thekla at Isauria. The Nuns Marina and Kyra died in about the year 450.