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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 Protection (Pokrov) of the MostHoly Mother of God: "The Virgin today doth stand forth within the Church, and with the choirs of the Saints invisibly for us doth pray to God: angels with hierarchs make reverence, and apostles with prophets sing forth: for us the Birthgiver of God prayeth the Praeternal God" -- this miraculous appearance of the Mother of God occurred in the mid-X Century at Constantinople, in the Blakhernae church where there was preserved the Robe of the Mother of God, Her Head-Veil (mathoria) and part of the Belt-Sash, transferred from Palestine in the V Century. On Sunday, 1 October, during the time of the all-night vigil, when the church was overflowing with those at prayer, the Fool-for-Christ Saint Andrew (Comm. 2 October) at the fourth hour of the night lifted up his eyes towards the heavens, and beheld coming through the air our MostHoly Lady Mother of God resplendent with an Heavenly light and surrounded by an assembly of the Saints. The holy Baptist of the Lord John and the holy Apostle John the Theologian accompanied the Queen of Heaven. On bended knee the MostHoly Virgin began with tears to pray for Christians and for a long time was at prayer. Then, coming nigh the Prestol'-Throne, She continued Her prayer, which having completed She then took from Her head the veil and spread it over the people praying in church, protecting them from enemies both visible and invisible. The MostHoly Lady Mother of God was resplendent with Heavenly glory, and the protecting veil in Her hands gleamed "more than the rays of the sun". Saint Andrew gazed atrembling at the miraculous vision and he asked of his disciple Blessed Epiphanios standing alongside him: "Dost thou see, brother, the Queen and Lady, praying for all the world?" Epiphanios answered: "I do see, holy father, and I be in awe". The Ever-Blessed Mother of God implored of the Lord Jesus Christ to accept the prayers of all the people, calling on His MostHoly Name and hastening in recourse to Her intercession. "O Heavenly King, -- sayeth in prayer the Immaculate Queen standing aethereally amidst the Angels, -- accept every person, that prayeth unto Thee and calleth on My Name for help, let them not go empty away unheard from before My Visage". Saints Andrew and Epiphanios, granted to behold the Mother of God at prayer, "for a long time did gaze at the protecting veil spread over the people and the lightning like flashes in glory to the Lord; as long as the MostHoly Mother of God was there, so likewise was the protecting veil visible; but with Her departure it likewise became invisible, and though having taken it with Her, She left behind the grace of having been there". At the Blakhernae church was preserved the memory of the miraculous appearance of the Mother of God. In the XIV Century, the Russian pilgrim and clerk Aleksandr saw within the church an icon of the MostHoly Mother of God praying for the world, and written such, as depicting Saint Andrew in contemplation of Her. But the Greek Church does not know this feast. [trans. note: i.e. does not historically celebrate this feast. Our Russian source is here reticent concerning the historical circumstances occasioning the necessary protective intercession of the Mother of God, and it reflects a great irony, that for the Russians rather than for the Greeks this should be an important feast, since it celebrates the Divine destruction by a storm of a large pagan-Russian fleet under Askold and Dir which threatened Constantinople itself, sometime in the years 864-867, or per the Russian historian Vasiliev on 18 June 860. The Russian Primary Chronicle of Saint Nestor notes this miraculous deliverance following the all-night vigil and the dipping of the garment of the Mother of God into the waters of the sea at the Blakhernae church, but without mention of Saints Andrew and Epiphanios and their vision of the Mother of God at prayer. These latter elements, and the beginnings of the celebrating of the feast of Pokrov, seem to postdate Saint Nestor and the Chronicle. A further historical complication might be noted under the 2 October entry for Saint Andrew -- that of his demise in the year 936. Either this year of death might not be quite reliable, or that he survived into quite extreme old age after the vision of his youth, or that his vision involved some historically later pagan-Russian raid which met with the same fate. The below suggestion likewise that the Saint Andrew of the vision was a Slav (or a Skyth per other sources, such as S. V. Bulgakov) -- is a nice touch, but not necessarily chauvinism: the extent of historical South Slavic penetration and re-population into Greece is the stuff of scholarly disputes].
In the Prologue, a Russian book of the XII Century, is contained a description about the establishing of the special feastday in honour of this event: "For lo, when we heard, -- we realised, how wondorus and merciful was the vision and moreover an expectation and intercession on our behalf, without celebration... and it transpired, that Thy holy Pokrov-Protection should not remain without festal-celebration, O Ever-Blessed One!". Wherefore in the festal celebration of the Divine-services to the Pokrov-Protection of the Mother of God, the Russian Church intones: " With the choirs of the Angels, O Sovereign Lady, with the venerable and glorious prophets, with the First-Ranked Apostles and with the PriestMartyrs and Sainted-hierarchs pray Thou for us sinners, glorifying the feast of Thine Protection in the Russian Land". And moreover, it would seem that Saint Andrew, contemplating the miraculous vision, was a Slav, taken captive and at Constantinople given over into slavery to the local inhabitant named Theognost.
Churches in honour of the Pokrov-Protection of the Mother of God appeared in Russia in the XII Century. Widely known on its architectural merit is the temple of the Pokrov at Nerla, which was built in the year 1165 by holy Prince Andrei Bogoliubsky. Through the efforts of this holy prince was also established in the Russian Church the feast itself, the Pokrov-Protection of the Mother of God, in about the year 1164. At Novgorod in the XII Century there existed a monastery of the Pokrov of the MostHoly Mother of God (the so-called Zverinsk monastery); at Moscow also under tsar Ivan the Terrible was built the cathedral of the Pokrov of the Mother of God at the church of the Holy Trinity (known as the church of Saint Basil the Great).
On the feast of the Pokrov-Protection of the MostHoly Mother of God we implore the defense and assist of the Queen of Heaven: "Remember us in Thine prayers, O Lady Virgin Mother of God, that we perish not by the increase of our sins, protect us from every evil and from grievous woes; for on Thee do we hope, and venerating the feast of Thine Pokrov, Thee do we magnify".
The Holy Disciple Ananias, bishop of the city of Damascus, was one of the Seventy Disciples. At the command of God, it was he that baptised the converted persecutor of Christians Saul, afterwards to become the great preacher and Apostle Paul (Acts 9: 10-19). Saint Ananias, despite the danger, boldly and openly confesses Christianity afront the Jews and the pagans. From Damascus he set off in evangelising to Eleutheropolis, where he healed many of their infirmities. The governor of the city, Lucian, tried to persuade the holy disciple to offer sacrifice to idols, but seeing his staunchness and solid confession of Christ, he gave orders to torture the saint. Harsh torments did not sway the witness of Truth. Then the torturers led him out beyond the city where they then stoned him. The saint expired to the Lord while at prayer for his murderers (+ I Century). His relics were afterwards transferred to Constantinople.
The Monk Romanos the Melodist was born in the V Century in the Syrian city of Emessa. Having moved on to Constantinople, he became a church-attendant in the temple of Saint Sophia. The monk spent his nights alone at prayer in a field or in the Blakhernae church out beyond the city.
Saint Romanos did not initially have the talent for reading and song. One time, on the eve of the Nativity of Christ, he read the kathisma verses, but so poorly, that another reader had to take his place, and the clergy made fun of Romanos. The youth for a long while in grief prayed before an icon of the MostHoly Mother of God. The Mother of God appeared at night in a dream-vision to the saint, and haven given him a scroll (in Greek "kondakion" or "khontakhion"), commanded him to eat it. Thus did the Monk Romanos receive the gift of book understanding, compostion and the making of churchly song. This was on the day of the Nativity of Christ. For the all-night vigil Saint Romanos in a wondrous voice sang forth in church his first kondak: "Today the Virgin giveth birth to the Transcendent One...". From this scroll ("kondakion") all the songs of the monk became known as kondakions or kondaks. Saint Romanos was also the first to write in the form of the "ikos", -- a song-form which he incorporated into the all-night vigil at his places of domicile (in Greek "oikos").
For his zealous service Saint Romanos was ordained to the dignity of deacon and became a teacher of song. Up until his death, which occurred in about the year 556, the Monk-deacon Romanos the Melodist composed nearly a thousand church-songs, many of which Christians still use to glorify the Lord.
The Monk Savva of Vishersk was the son of the boyar-noble, Ivan Borozda, from Kashin. From childhood the monk was noted for his piety. He initially asceticised at the Tver Savvino wilderness monastery, where the brethren chose him hegumen. In shunning honours, the Monk Savva went off to Athos, where he toiled over the copying of Divine-service books. Upon his return from Athos he selected for his ascetic efforts a solitary place 7 versts from Novgorod at the banks of the River Vishera. Here, with the blessing of the Novogorod archbishop Simon, the monk in 1418 organised a small monastery in honour of the Ascension of the Lord. The Monk Savva set up a pillar nearby the monastery and asceticised upon it. He died in 1461 at the advanced old age of 80. He appointed as his successor his disciple Andrei, known for a strict and ascetic life.
The local commemoration was established under the Novgorod archbishop Jona (+ 1470), in connection with the healing of the hegumen of the Savvo-Vishersk monastery. Archbishop Jona thereupon ordered an icon of the monk be written and a canon composed. The general churchly glorification of the Monk Savva took place at the Moscow Sobor (Council) of 1549. The service to him was composed by priest-monk Pakhomii the Serb.
During the reign of King Aderki of Kartli, the Jewish diaspora in Mtskheta learned that a wondrous Child had been born in Jerusalem. Then, thirty years later, a man came from Jerusalem to deliver this message: “The youth has grown up. He calls Himself the Son of God and preaches to us the New Covenant. We have sent envoys to every Jewish diaspora to urge the scholars of the religion to come to Jerusalem and judge what measures should be taken in regard to this matter.”
In response to the envoy’s request and at the recommendation of the Jewish Sanhedrin, Elioz of Mtskheta and Longinoz of Karsani were chosen to journey to Jerusalem. Elioz of Mtskheta was born to a pious family, and as his mother prepared him for the journey, she tearfully begged him not to take any part in the spilling of the blood of the Messiah.
When the Roman soldiers were nailing our Savior to the Cross on Golgotha, Elioz’s mother miraculously heard each strike of the hammer. She cried out in fear, “Farewell majesty of the Jews! For inasmuch as you have killed your Savior and Redeemer, henceforth you have become your own enemies!” With this she breathed her last.
After the soldiers had cast lots for the Robe of our Lord, it was acquired by Elioz and Longinoz, and with great honor they carried it back with them to Mtskheta. Upon their arrival, Elioz met his sister Sidonia, who took from him the Sacred Robe. With much grief she listened to the story of our Savior’s Crucifixion, clutched the Robe to her breast, and immediately gave up her spirit.
Many miracles were worked by the Robe, and news of this flashed like lightning throughout Mtskheta. King Aderki had a great desire to possess the Robe but, frightened by the miracles, he did not attempt to free it from Sidonia’s embrace. Elioz was obliged to bury his sister and the Precious Robe together. A cypress tree grew up on Sidonia’s grave. When the disciples of Christ cast lots after Pentecost, the lot for evangelizing Georgia fell to the Most Holy Theotokos. But Christ revealed to His Mother that it was not His will for her to preach there. “You have been entrusted to protect the Georgian nation,” He said, “but the role of evangelizing that land belongs to My disciple Andrew the First-called. Send him with an image of your face “Not-Made-By- Hands” to protect the Georgian people to the end of the ages!”
According to the will of God and the blessing of the Theotokos, St. Andrew the First-called set off for Georgia to preach the Christian Faith. He entered Georgia from the southwest, in the region of Atchara, and subsequently preached in every region of the nation. He established a hierarchy for the Georgian Church and then returned to Jerusalem for Pascha. When he visited Georgia for the second time, the Apostle Andrew was accompanied by the Apostles Matthias and Simon the Canaanite.
Years passed and, under threat from Persian fire-worshippers and other pagan communities, the memory of Christ faded from the minds of the Georgian people.
Then, at the beginning of the 4th century, according to God’s will and the blessing of the Most Holy Theotokos, the holy virgin Nino arrived in Kartli to preach the Christian Faith. She settled in the outskirts of Mtskheta, in the bramble bushes of the king’s garden. St. Nino inquired as to the whereabouts of our Lord’s Robe, but no one could remember where it had been preserved. In her quest for the Precious Robe, she became acquainted with Elioz’s descendants, the Jewish priest Abiatar and his daughter, Sidonia. St. Nino converted them to Christianity.
St. Nino was blessed by God with the gift of healing. She healed the afflicted through the name of our crucified Savior and through the grace of the cross formed from grapevines by the Theotokos and bound with strands of St. Nino’s hair.
At that time King Mirian ruled Kartli. Following in the footsteps of his ancestors, he worshiped the idol Armazi, but in the depth of his heart he was drawn to the Faith that the holy virgin was preaching. Mirian’s wife, Queen Nana, was the daughter of a famous military leader of Pontus. Thus, the king had received some prior knowledge of the Faith of the Greeks.
Once Queen Nana fell deeply ill, and only through the prayers of St. Nino was she spared from death. After this miraculous healing, King Mirian became intrigued by the Faith that St. Nino was preaching, and he began asking the newly enlightened Abiatar about the Holy Scriptures.
Once, while he was hunting on Mt. Tkhoti near Mtskheta, King Mirian was suddenly gripped by an evil spirit, and he burned with a desire to destroy the Christian people of his land and—above all others— the virgin Nino. But suddenly the sun was eclipsed, and the king was surrounded by darkness. The frightened Mirian prayed to the pagan gods to save him from this terror, but his prayers went unanswered. Then, in utter despair, he began to pray to the Crucified God-man and a miracle occurred: the darkness scattered and the sun shone as before. Raising his hands to the east, Mirian cried out, “Truly Thou art the God preached by Nino, God of gods and King of kings!”
Having returned to the capital, King Mirian went immediately to the bramble bushes where St. Nino dwelt. He greeted her with great honor and spent several hours seeking her counsel. Upon her recommendation, he sent messengers to Emperor Constantine in Byzantium, requesting that he send priests to baptize the people of Kartli and architects to build churches.
This happened on June 24 of the year 324, which was a Saturday. King Mirian began to construct a church so that the priests arriving from Constantinople would have a place to serve. Seven columns to support the church were formed from the wood of a cypress tree that had grown in the king’s garden. Six of the columns were erected without a problem, but the seventh could not be moved from the place where it had been carved. St. Nino and her disciples prayed through the night, and at dawn they watched as a youth, encompassed by a brilliant light, descended from the heavens and raised the column. The miraculous column began to shine and stopped in mid-air at a height of twelve cubits.
Sweet-smelling myrrh began to flow from under the Holy Pillar’s foundations, and the entire population of Mtskheta flocked to that place to receive its blessing. Approaching the Life-giving Pillar, the sick were healed, the blind received sight, and the paralyzed began to walk.
By that time a certain Bishop John and his suite had arrived from Constantinople. St. Constantine the Great sent a cross, an icon of the Savior, a fragment from the Life-giving Cross of our Lord (from the place where His feet lay), and a nail from His Crucifixion as gifts to the newly enlightened King Mirian and his people.
At the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi Rivers in Mtskheta, the king and queen, the royal court, and all the people of Kartli were baptized into the Christian Faith. After the glorious baptism, Bishop John and his retinue from Constantinople set off toward southern Georgia, for the village of Erusheti. There they built churches and presented the Christian community with the nail from our Lord’s Crucifixion. Soon after, they began to construct Manglisi Church and placed the fragment from the Life-giving Cross inside.
King Mirian wanted to keep some of the newly obtained sacred objects in the capital city, but St.Nino informed him that one of the holiest objects, the Robe of our Savior, was already located in Mtskheta. The king summoned the priest Abiatar and inquired about the Robe, then rejoiced greatly after Abiatar confirmed St. Nino’s words that the Robe of the Lord was held in the embrace of Sidonia, who was buried under the stump of the cypress tree which now served as the pedestal for the Life-giving Pillar.
At that time a lush, sweet-smelling, wonder-working tree grew up on a mountain over Mtskheta and, at Bishop John’s suggestion, Prince Revi, the son of King Mirian, ordered that the tree be chopped down and a cross formed from its wood. The tree was chopped down and replanted, without its roots, next to a church that was under construction. For thirty-seven days the tree retained its original appearance—even its leaves did not fade or wither. Then, after thirty-seven days had passed, three crosses were formed from its wood.
For many days after this miracle the people of Mtskheta saw a vision: during the night a fiery cross shone above the church, surrounded by stars. When morning came, two of the stars had moved away from the cross in opposite directions—one to the west and the other to the east. The fiery cross headed to the north, stopped for some time over the hill on the other side of the River Aragvi, then disappeared.
St. Nino advised King Mirian to erect one of the three crosses in the west, on Tkhoti Mountain, and another in the east, in the village of Ujarma. But it was unclear where the third cross should be erected, so King Mirian prayerfully beseeched the Lord to reveal to him the place.
The Lord heard his prayers and sent an angel to show him the place: a rocky hill to the north of the capital, at the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari Rivers. Today this hill is called Jvari (Cross) and upon it towers the magnificent church of Jvari Monastery. At the moment the cross was erected on this hill, all the idols in Mtskheta fell and shattered to pieces.
Prior to his death King Mirian blessed his heir, Prince Bakar, and urged him to dedicate his life to the Holy Trinity and fight ceaselessly against idolaters. Then he peacefully reposed in the Lord.
According to his will, Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles King Mirian was buried in the upper church at Samtavro, where today a convent in honor of St. Nino is located. The king was too modest to be buried in the lower church, the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, in which the Life-giving Pillar had been preserved.
Queen Nana reposed two years later and was buried next to her husband.
After the repose of Catholicos Simeon, leadership of the Georgian Church passed to Catholicos Melchizedek I. St. Melchizedek led the Church from approximately 1010 to 1030, during the reigns of Kings Bagrat III, George I, and Bagrat IV.
It is believed that St. Melchizedek was the first Georgian Catholicos to be commemorated as Catholicos-Patriarch.
According to historical sources, Catholicos Melchizedek was of a noble lineage and was a pupil of King Bagrat III.
Under his leadership Svetitskhoveli Cathedral was restored and adorned. He journeyed to Byzantium to raise funds for this project, and while he was there he visited Emperor Basil II (the Bulgar-slayer). St. Melchizedek returned to his motherland with generous gifts and began the greatest construction project of the century: the adornment of Svetitskhoveli Cathedral with gold, silver, pearls, and precious stones.
St. Melchizedek made several journeys to Byzantium during his life, and historians believe that during one of those visits the patriarchs of the East approved “Catholicos-Patriarch” as the official title of the chief shepherd of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church.
History has preserved St. Melchizedek’s will, in which he bequeathed a long list of holy objects, monasteries, and villages to Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. In his will the chief shepherd of the Georgian Church is referred to as “Catholicos-Patriarch.” Melchizedek’s will also reveals that he specified the location where he wished to be buried. St. Melchizedek was canonized on October 17, 2002.
Saint Piatus of Tournai (also Piaton, Platon, Piat, Piato,) (died c. 286) was a Belgian saint. He was a native of Benevento, Italy, and is traditionally said to have been sent by the pope to evangelize the cities of Chartres and Tournai. Tradition also states that he was ordained by Dionysios the Areopagite. He was martyred under Maximian by having the top of his skull sliced off. He may be recognized in depictions holding the sliced portion of his skull. Saint Eligius later discovered Piatus' relics and made a reliquary for them.
Some of his relics can be found at Chartres Cathedral.
Apostle of the Franks, Archbishop of Reims, b. at Cerny or Laon, 437; d. at Reims, 13 January 533. His feast is celebrated 1 October. His father was Emile, Count of Laon. He studied literature at Reims and soon became so noted for learning and sanctity that he was elected Archbishop of Reims in his twenty-second year. Thence-forward his chief aim was the propagation of Christianity in the realm of the Franks. The story of the return of the sacred vessels, which had been stolen from the Church of Soissons testifies to the friendly relations existing between him and Clovis, King of the Franks, whom he converted to Christianity with the assistance of St. Waast (Vedastus, Vaast) and St. Clotilda, wife of Clovis. Even before he embraced Christianity Clovis had showered benefits upon both the Bishop and Cathedral of Reims, and after the battle of Tolbiac, he requested Remigius to baptize him at Reims (24 December, 496) in presence of several bishops of the Franks and Alemanni and great numbers of the Frankish army. Clovis granted Remigius stretches of territory, in which the latter established and endowed many churches. He erected, with the papal consent, bishoprics at Tournai; Cambrai; Terouanne, where he ordained the first bishop in 499; Arras, where he placed St. Waast; Laon, which he gave to his nephew Gunband. The authors of "Gallia Christiana" record numerous and munificent donations made to St. Remigius by members of the Frankish nobility, which he presented to the cathedral at Reims. In 517 he held a synod, at which after a heated discussion he converted a bishop of Arian views. In 523 he wrote congratulating Pope Hormisdas upon his election. St. Medardus, Bishop of Noyon, was consecrated by him in 530. Although St. Remigius's influence over people and prelates was extraordinary, yet upon one occasion, the history of which has come down to us, his course of action was attacked. His condonement of the offences of one Claudius, a priest, brought upon him the rebukes of his episcopal brethren, who deemed Claudius deserving of degradation. The reply of St. Remigius, which is still extant, is able and convincing (cf. Labbe, "Concilia", IV). His relics were kept in the cathedral of Reims, whence Hincmar had them translated to Epernay during the period of the invasion by the Northmen, thence, in 1099, at the instance of Leo IX, to the Abbey of Saint-Remy. His sermons, so much admired by Sidonius Apollinaris (lib. IX, cap. lxx), are not extant. On his other works we have four letters, the one containing his defence in the matter of Claudius, two written to Clovis, and a fourth to the Bishop of Tongres. According to several biographers, the Testament of St. Remigius is apocryphal; Mabillon and Ducange, however, argue for its authenticity. The attribution of other works to St. Remigius, particularly a commentary upon St. Paul's Epistles, is entirely without foundation.
The Monk John Kukuzel, a native of Dirrachia (Bulgaria), in childhood was left orphaned ["kukuzel'" per another source indicates "raised on beans", reflecting his great poverty as an orphan]. Endowed with a very fine voice, he entered the Constantinople court school, where for his talent he found favour with the emperor John Comnenos (1118-1143) and became a chief court singer. But the enticements of the imperial court bothered the pious youth. Not wanting to remain amidst the sumptuousness and luxury, and to evade a marriage prepared for him by the emperor, young John began to seek out ways to quit the capital and hide away in an outlying wilderness. By the will of God he met up with an Athonite elder -- an hegumen, who had come to Constantinople on monastic business. John revealed to him his intent, and with his blessing, he went off with him to the Holy Mountain. There he was accepted, tonsured into monasticism and entrusted to tend a monastic flock. Walking away with the flock to far-off wilderness places of the Holy Mountain, the youth without hindrance could give himself over in solitude to prayer, contemplation of God and the singing of Divine hymns. The angelic beauty of his voice charmed even the animals, which gathered about the shepherd and listened as though entranced. Out of modesty and humility, the youthful singer did not reveal to the brethren about his gift. But one time the moving pastoral song touched a certain wilderness dweller, and he informed the hegumen about the wondrous singer. Young John revealed, that formerly he had been a singer at court, and he tearfully implored the hegumen to let him remain at his former pastoral obedience. Fearing that there might be the displeasure of the emperor, who eventually might find his favourite and make him return from the Holy Mountain, the hegumen himself journeyed off to Constantinople, where he told the emperor everything about what had become of his former subject, and he besought him not to hinder the youthful monk from the salvific path chosen by him.
John Kukuzel thereafter on Sundays and feastdays sang in the cathedral on the right kleros-choir. For his singing the monk was granted a great mercy by the Mother of God Herself. One time after an akathist, sung before an icon of the Mother of God, She Herself appeared in a subtle dream and said to him: "Sing, and do not cease to sing. I for this shalt not forsake thee". With these words She placed into John's hand a golden coin and became invisible. This coin was hung beneathe the icon, and from that time from the coin and icon there began to occur miracles. This icon, named the "Kukuzelisa", is located even now in the Lavra monastery of Saint Athanasias. Its remembrance is made twice, on 1 October and on the 10th Friday after Pascha.
The Mother of God afterwards another time appeared to Saint John and healed him from a grievous problem with his legs, caused by the long standing in church. The remaining days of Saint John were spent in intense ascetic efforts. Foreseeing the hour of his death, he took his leave of the brethren, and in his last wishes bidding them to bury him in the Archangel church built by him. Church singers reverence Saint John Kukuzel as their own especial patron-saint.
An experienced singer, the Monk John Kukuzel also toiled much in the discipline of church singing, and he rightfully gained for himself the title of both "magister" ["master-teacher"] and "regent" ["overseer"]: he himself improved on and compiled melody for church stikhera-verses, tropars and kondaks and for every church service; he reworked texts of song, and wrote his own tropars. In manuscripts are known also his compostions: "A Book, by the Will of God Encompassing All the Order of Progression of Church Services, Compiled by Magister Master John Kukuzel". -- "Progression of Services, Compiled by Magister John Kukuzel, From the Beginning of Great Vespers through to the Finish of Divine Liturgy". -- "Science of Song and Singing Signs with all the Legitimate Hand-Placement and with all the Arrangements of Song", -- and also more otherwise.
The Feast in Honour of the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord and the Life-Creating Pillar -- is the temple feast of the Mtskheta patriarchal cathedral in honour of the Twelve Holy Apostles, named the Sveti-Tskhoveli (which in translation means "Life-Creating Pillar"). According to the tradition of the Gruzian (Georgian) Orthodox Church, the Chiton (Greek word, in Latin "Tunic") of the Lord -- the seamless garment of the Saviour (Jn. 19: 23) -- came to the ancient capital city of Gruzia, Mtskheta, in the following manner.
Eleazar (or Elioz), rabbi of the Mtskheta community of Jews, had resettled to Gruzia from Jerusalem already by the year 70 A.D. Having received news from the Jerusalem high-priest Annas about the impending execution of Christ, he hastened to Jerusalem in the company of Longinus Carsnitus [or "carsnifex", the Latin meaning "executioner"]. They became eye-witnesses to the Passion of the Lord and the casting of lots for His garment (Jn. 19: 23-24; Ps. 21 : 18). At the moment when the All-Pure Body of the Lord was nailed to the Cross, the mother of Elioz, situated in Mtskheta, sensed the blows of the hammer in her heart and shuddered out of great fright. Having related to her daughter Sidonia about the crucifixion sufferings of the Saviour, guiltlessly given over unto death, the mother of Elioz then died. Elioz then acquired the Chiton from the soldier who by lots had won it, and he took it with him to Mtskheta. Sidonia, meeting her brother Elioz in tears, told him about the death of their mother and her words just before her death. Elioz confirmed the words of their mother and he showed his sister the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord. Taking hold the Chiton, Righteous Sidonia kissed it all over, pressed it to her bosom and herewith fell down lifeless. No one, not even the emperor Aderk (2 B.C.-55 A.D.)was able to open the grasp of Sidonia nor take from her the Chiton. Righteous Sidonia (Comm. 1 October) was secretly consigned to earth by her brother Elioz in the imperial garden at Mtskheta.
The holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Nina told about this to the Kartalin Hebrew highpriest Aviathar -- a descendent of rabbi Elioz. He came to believe in Christ, having listened to the explanation by Saint Nina of the ancient prophecies concerning the Messiah, and how these prophecies were fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. And the Gruzian emperor Mirian (265-342) was also converted by holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Saint Nina, and he decided to build a Christian church on the spot whereupon the Chiton of the Lord was situated. A massive cedar tree had grown on the grave of Sidonia, which they sawed, and wanted to use its truck as a foundation pillar for supporting the main cupola of the church, but they were not able to raise it upright. Saint Nina prayed all night for Divine help. and visions were manifest to her, in which were revealed the historical courses of destiny of Gruzia.
At dawn an Angel of the Lord approached the pillar and raised it in the air. The pillar, shining with a wondrous light, was elevated and then lowered in the air, until it was set over its base. From the stump of the cedar issued a fragrant myrh. Thus the Angel of the Lord indicated the place, where the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord was concealed in the ground. This event, witnessed to by many of the inhabitants of Mtskheta, is depicted on the icon, "Glorification of the Gruzian Church". Afterwards at the place of the wooden church was erected the majestic stone cathedral of Sveti-Tskhoveli. The Life-Creating Pillar, from which occurred many healings, has at present a stone four-cornered covering and is crowned by a light-loft, not touching the arch of the cathedral. The Pillar is positioned in the Sveti-Tskhoveli cathedral with a model alongside of the Church of the Sepulchre of the Lord at Jerusalem.
The Gruzian (Georgian) Orthodox Church established the feastday on 1 October in honour of the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord and the Life-Creating Pillar.
The PriestMartyr Cyprian, the Holy Martyress Justina and the Martyr Theoktist perished at Nicomedia in the year 304.
Saint Cyprian was a pagan, a native of Antioch. While still in early childhood he was given over by his misguided parents for service to the pagan gods. From seven years of age until thirty, Cyprian studied at the most outstanding centres of paganism -- on Mount Olympus, in the cities of Argos and Tauropolis, in the Egyptian city of Memphis and at Babylon. Having attained to eminent wisdom in pagan philosophy and the sorcerer's craft, on Olympus he was consecrated into the pagan priesthood. Having discovered great power by the summoning of unclean spirits, he beheld the very prince of darkness, and conversed with him and received from him an host of demons in attendance.
Having returned to Antioch, Cyprian became revered by the pagans as an eminent pagan priest, amazing people by his ability to conduct spells, to summon pestilence and plagues, and to seance the dead. The mighty pagan priest brought many an human soul to ruin, teaching them magic-spells and service to demons.
But in this city there lived a Christian -- the Virgin Justina. Having turned her own father and mother away from pagan error and led them to the true faith in Christ, she dedicated herself to the Heavenly Bridegroom and spent her time in fasting and prayer, remaining a virgin. When the youth Aglaides proposed marriage to her, the saint responded with a refusal. Agalides turned to Cyprian and sought his help for a magic-spell to charm Justina into marriage. But no matter what Cyprian tried, he could accomplish but nothing, since the saint by her prayers and fasting wrecked all the wiles of the devil. By his conjured spells Cyrian set loose demons upon the holy virgin, trying to rouse in her the fleshly passions, but she dispelled them by the power of the Sign of the Cross and by fervent prayer to the Lord. Even one of the demonic princes and Cyprian himself, by the power of sorcery having assumed various guises, were not able to sway Saint Justina, guarded round about by her firm faith in Christ. All the spells dissipated, and the demons fled at the mere look or even name of the saint. Cyprian in a rage sent down pestilence and plague upon the family of Justina and upon all the city, but this was beaten back by her prayer. Cyprian's soul, corrupted by its domination over people and by its incantations, showed up in all the depth of its downfall, and the abyss of nothingness of that which he served. "If thou dost take fright at even the mere shadow of the Cross and the Name of Christ indeed maketh thee to tremble, -- said Cyprian to Satan, -- then what wilt thou do, when Christ Himself is come before thee?" The devil thereupon flung himself upon the pagan priest who was in the process of repudiating him, and began to beat and strangle him. Saint Cyrian then first tested for himself the power of the Sign of the Cross and the Name of Christ, in guarding himself from the fury of the enemy. Afterwards, with deep repentance he went to the local Bishop Anthymos and consigned all his books to the flames. And the very next day, having gone into the church, he did not want to emerge from it, though he did not yet accept Holy Baptism.
By his effort to follow a righteous manner of life, Saint Cyprian discerned the great power of fervent faith in Christ, and redeemed his more than thirty year service to Satan: seven days after Baptism he was ordained reader, on the twelfth day -- sub-deacon, on the thirtieth -- deacon, and after a year he was ordained priest. And in a short while Saint Cyprian was elevated to the dignity of bishop. The PriestMartyr Cyprian converted to Christ so many pagans, that in his diocese there was no one left to offer sacrifice to idols, and their pagan-temples fell into disuse. Saint Justina withdrew to a monastery and there was chosen hegumeness. During the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian, Bishop Cyprian and Hegumeness Justina were arrested and brought to Nicomedia, where after fierce tortures they were beheaded with the sword. The Soldier Theoktist, looking upon the guiltless sufferings of the saints, declared himself a Christian and was executed together with them. Knowing about the miraculous conversion to Christ of the holy PriestMartyr Cyprian, a former servant of the prince of darkness and by faith shattering his grip, Christians often resort to the prayerful intercession of the saint in their struggle with unclean spirits.
Blessed Andrew, Fool-for-Christ, was a Slav and he lived in the X Century at Constantinople. From his early years he loved God's Church and the Holy Scriptures. One time during a dream-vision the saint beheld two armies. In the one were men in radiant garb, in the other -- black and fiercesome devils. An Angel of God, which held in hand wondrous crowns, said to Andrew, that these crowns -- were not adornments from the earthly world, but rather a celestial treasure, with which the Lord rewards His warriors, victorious over the dark hordes. "Proceed with this good deed, -- said the Angel to Andrew, -- be a fool for My sake and much wilt thou receive in the day of My Kingdom". The saint perceived, that it was the Lord Himself summoning him to this deed. And from that time Andrew began to go about the streets in rags, as though his mind had become muddled. For many years the saint endured mockery and insults. With indifference he underwent beatings, hunger and thirst, cold and heat, begging alms and giving them away to others of the poor. For his great forebearance and humility the saint received from the Lord the gift of prophecy and perspicacity, saving many from perils of soul, and he unmasked many an impiety.
During a time of prayer at the Blakhernae church, Saint Andrew was vouchsafed to behold the MostHoly Mother of God, veiling those praying with Her omophor (the account of this is under 1 October). Blessed Andrew died in the year 936.
St Theodore, one of Russia's greatest naval heroes of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was born in 1745.
The unvanquished Admiral was the terror of his country's enemies, and the deliverer of those whom the barbarians had taken captive. He served during the Russo-Turkish War (1787 - 1791), and also fought against the French. Although he fought many naval battles in the Black Sea and in the Mediterranean, he never lost a single one, and he was never wounded.
St Theodore once visited the Greek island of Kerkyra (Corfu), where he venerated the relics of St Spyridon of Tremithus (December 12), and gave support and encouragement to the Orthodox Christians in that place.
Since his naval reforms were unpopular with his superiors, St Theodore was forced to retire in 1807 by Tsar Alexander I. Having neither wife nor children, the admiral settled in the town of Alekseevo near the Sanaxar Monastery, where he regularly attended services on Sundays and Feast Days. During Great Lent he would stay in the monastery, fasting with the monks and attending the services.
Igumen Nathaniel of Sanaxar regarded St Theodore as "a neighbor and a significant patron" of the monastery. In addition to his generous gifts to the monastery, the admiral frequently gave alms to the poor and needy. He never sought earthly glory or riches, but spent his life in serving God and his neighbor.
St Theodore died in 1817 at the age of seventy-two. After navigating the sea of life with all its storms and struggles, he entered the calm harbor of eternal rest. He was buried at Sanaxar Monastery beside the church. The monastery was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1991, and St Theodore's grave was found in 1994.
St Theodore was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Russia in 2004, and a reliquary in the shape of a naval vessel was made to enshrine his holy relics.
The holy Admiral Theodore should not be confused with his relative St Theodore (Ushakov) of Sanaxar Monastery (February 19 and April 21), a monastic saint who lived from 1719 to 1791.
St Theodore is honored as a great military leader who defended Russia just as St Alexander Nevsky (November 23) and St Demetrius of the Don (May 19) did before him. One of the Russian Navy's atomic cruisers has been named for him, and a movie has been made about his life and career. The composer Khachaturian has also written a musical piece called "Admiral Ushakov."
The Holy Nobleborn Princess Anna of Kashinsk, a daughter of the Rostov prince Dimitrii Borisovich, in 1294 became the wife of the holy Greatprince Michael Yaroslavich of Tver. (He was murdered by the Mongol-Tatars of the Horde in 1318, and Comm. 22 November). After the tormented death of her husband, Anna withdrew into the Tversk Sophia monastery and accepted tonsure with the name Evphrosynia. Later, she transferred to the Kashin Uspenie-Dormition monastery, and became a schema-monastic with the name Anna. On 2 October 1368 she expired peacefully to the Lord.
The sons of Saint Anna continued in the confessor's deed of their father: Dimitrii Mikhailovich ("Grozye Ochi" "Dread Eyes") was murdered at the Horde on 15 September 1325; and later, Aleksandr Mikhailovich, Prince of Tver, was murdered together with his son Theodore (Feodor) on 29 October 1339.
Miracles at the grave of Saint Anna began in 1611, during the time of the siege of Kashin by Lithuanian forces. The saint appeared to Gerasim, the church-warden of the Uspensk cathedral, and said, that she would implore the Saviour and the MostHoly Mother of God for the deliverance of the city from the foreigners.
At the Sobor (Council) of 1649 it was decided to uncover her relics for general veneration and to enumerate the holy Princess Anna to the ranks of the Saints. But in 1677 Patriarch Joakim raised the question to the Moscow Sobor whether her veneration should be discontinued in connection with the problem of the Old-Ritualist Schism, which made use of the name of Anna of Kashinsk for its own purposes. In 1909, on 12 June, there occurred her second glorification and the universally observed feastday established.
The Monk Kassian the Greek, Wonderworker of Uglich, in the world Konstantin, was descended in lineage from the princes Mangupides. He arrived in Moscow as part of the legation to Greatprince Ivan III, together with the daughter of the Byzantine emperor, Sophia Paleologa. Having decided to devote his life to the service of God, the saint declined the offer to remain at the court of the Greatprince, and he resettled to the Rostov bishop Joasaph. When the bishop withdrew for quietude to the Pherapontov monastery, Konstantin followed him. At the monastery he led a strict ascetic life.
He accepted monasticism after a miraculous vision by night of the Monk Martinian, urging him to take monastic tonsure. After a certain while Saint Kassian left the monastery going not far off from the city of Uglich, near the confluence of the Volga and Uchma Rivers, where he founded a monastery in honour of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the Mother of God.
Reports of the monk spread widely, and "many people began to come to receive blessing and to see the wilderness habitation and converse with him". Saint Kassian accepted everyone with love, guiding them on the way to salvation "with quiet words".
The monk died in extreme old age on 2 October 1504. In the Uglich Chronicles was recorded many a miracles, happening through the prayers of the saint, and in particular, the defense by him of his monastery from Polish soldiers in the years 1609-1611.
The memory of the Monk Kassian of Uglich is celebrated also on 21 May, the day of his name-in-common ("tezoimenstvo", with the holy Emperor Constantine the Great).
The Holy Martyrs David and Constantine, Princes of Aragvet, were from childhood raised in the Orthodox faith. They were not only worthy rulers and brave military leaders, but also pious Christians. The holy brothers defended Gruzia (Georgia) from Mohammedan invaders. But the sides were militarily unequal. The Arab military-commander Murvan-Abdula-Kasim, having taken the brothers captive, tried with crafty promises to persuade them into an acceptance of Musselmanism. But they firmly confessed Christ. Then Murvan-Kru ("kru" -- "hard of hearing") with the help of sorcerers sought their renunciation from Christ. But the holy brothers David and Constantine overcame all the artifice of the pagan pseudo-wisdom by means of their prayer. Seeing the steadfastness of the holy confessors, the Mahometan gave orders to inflict fierce tortures upon them, and then to drown them in the River Rioni (in the year 740). The river carried of their bodies, illumined by three pillars of light. Christians took the bodies of the holy martyrs from out of the river and buried them in a cave on Mount Tskal--Tsiteli, at the city of Kutaisi.
In the XII Century, during the time of an hunt by the emperor Bagrat the Great (1072-1117), the undecayed relics of the holy brothers were uncovered in the cave, radiant with light. The emperor built in their honour a church of the Martyrs (Motsameti) and founded the Motsameti monastery. The relics of the holy brothers were glorified by numerous healings.
The PriestMartyrs Dionysius (Denis), Bishop of Athens, Presbyter Rusticus and Deacon Eleutherius were killed at Lutetium (ancient name of Paris) in Gaul [modern-day France, where Saint Dionysius is honoured as the patron saint of France, under the French name-forms "Denis" or "Denys"]. This occurred in the year 96 (another source suggests the year 110, during the time of persecution under the Roman emperor Dometian (81-96). Saint Dionysius lived originally in the city of Athens. He was raised there and received a fine classical Greek education. He then set off to Egypt, where he studied astronomy at the city of Heliopolis. Together with his friend Apollophonos he witnessed the solar eclipse occurring at the moment of the death by Crucifixion on the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. "Either now the Creator of all the world doth suffer, or this visible world is coming to an end", -- Dionysius said then. Upon his return to Athens from Egypt, he was chosen to be a member of the Areopagus Council (Athenian high court) ["Areo-pagus" means literally Mars(Ares)-hill, a location in Athens anciently].
When the holy Apostle Paul preached at the place of the Athenian Areopagus (Acts 17: 16-34), Dionysius accepted his salvific proclamation and became a Christian [trans. note: Dionysius was one of the few converts of Saint Paul at Athens. It is very significant and highly symbolic that the pagan Greeks had situated at the Areopagus the "altar to the Unknown God", Whom actually Saint Paul preached the knowledge of. The subsequent "via negativa" or "apophaticism" of Saint Dionysius is an especially important contribution to both theology and philosophy]. Over the course of three years Saint Dionysius remained a companion of the holy Apostle Paul in preaching the Word of God. Later on, the Apostle Paul established him as bishop of the city of Athens. And in the year 57 Saint Dionysius was present at the repose of the MostHoly Mother of God.
Already during the lifetime of the Mother of God, Saint Dionysius had journeyed especially from Athens to Jerusalem, so as to meet Her. He wrote to his teacher the Apostle Paul: "I witness by God, that besides the verymost God Himself, there be naught else in such measure filled with Divine power and grace. No one amongst mankind can fully grasp in mind, what I beheld. I confess before God: when I was with John, who did shine out amidst the Apostles, like the sun in the sky -- when I was brought before the countenance of the MostHoly Virgin, I experienced an inexpressible sensation. Before me gleamed a sort of Divine radiance. It transfixed my spirit. I perceived the fragrance of indescribable aromatics and was filled with such delight, that my very body became faint, and my spirit fain but could bear these signs and marks of eternal beatitude and Heavenly power. The grace from Her overwhelmed my heart, and shook my very spirit. Had I not in mind thine instruction, I should have mistaken Her for the very God. It is impossible to stand before greater blessedness than this, which I then perceived".
After the death of the Apostle Paul, and wanting to continue on with his work, Saint Dionysius set off preaching into the Western lands, accompanied by the Presbyter Rusticus and Deacon Eleutherius. They converted many to Christ at Rome, and then in Germany, and then in Spain. In Gaul, during the time of a persecution against Christians by the pagan authorities, all three confessors were arrested and thrown into prison. By night Saint Dionysius made Divine Liturgy with co-serving Angels of God. In the morning the martyrs were beheaded. According to an old tradition, Saint Dionysius took up his head, proceeded with it to the church and only there fell down dead. A pious woman named Catulla buried the remains of the saint.
The writings of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite hold great significance for the Orthodox Church. Four books of his have survived into the present: "Concerning the Celestial Hierarchy", "Concerning the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy", "Concerning the Names of God", "Concerning Mystical Theology"; additionally, there are ten letters to various persons.
The book, "Concerning the Celestial Hierarchies", was written actually in one of the countries of Western Europe, where Saint Dionysius was preaching. In it is expounded the Christian teaching about the Angelic world. The Angelic (or Celestial-Heavenly) hierarchy comprises the nine Angelic Ranks: Seraphim ("Seraphimy"), Cherubim ("Cheruvimy"), Thrones ("Prestoly"). Dominions ("Gospodstva"), Powers ("Sily"), Authorities ("Vlasti"), Principalities ("Nachala"), Archangels ("Arkhangely"), and Angels ("Angely"). (The account about the Sobor-Assemblage of the Bodiless Powers of Heaven is located under 8 November).
The purpose of the Divinely-established Angelic Hierarchy -- is the ascent towards God-likeness through purification, enlightenment and perfection. The highest ranks are bearers and mediatory-sources of Divine Light and Divine life for the lower ranks. And not only are the mind-endowed, bodiless Angelic hosts included in the spiritual light-bearing hierarchy, but also the human race, created anew and sanctified in the Church of Christ.
The book of Saint Dionysius, "Concerning the Ecclesiastical Hierarchies", is a continuation of his book, "Concerning the Celestial Hierarchies". The Church of Christ in its universal service is set upon the foundation, just like the Angelic ranks, of sacerdotal principles established by God.
In the earthly world, for the children of the Church, Divine grace comes down imperceptibly -- in the holy Sacraments of the Church, which are spiritual in nature, though sense-perceptible in form. Only but few even amongst the holy ascetics were able to behold with earthly eyes the fiery-visage in nature of the Holy Mysteries of God. But outside of the Church sacraments, outside of Baptism and the Eucharist, there is not the Light-bearing saving grace of God, -- there is neither Divine-knowledge ("Bogopoznanie") nor Theosis ("Obozhenie" or Deification).
The book, "Concerning the Names of God", expounds upon the way of Divine-knowledge through a Saint John of the Ladder-like progression of the Divine Names.
The book of Saint Dionysius, "Concerning Mystical Theology", likewise sets forth the teaching about Divine-knowledge. The theology of the Orthodox Church is totally based upon what is experienced of Divine-knowledge. In order to know God -- it is necessary to be in propinquity to Him, to have some measure to come close nigh unto Him, so as to attain to a condition of Communion-with-God ("Bogoobschenie") and Deification ("Theosis" or "Obozhenie"). This condition is most of all accomplished by prayer. This is not because prayer in itself brings us close to the Incomprehensible God, but rather that the purity of heart in true prayer brings us in appropinquity to God.
The written works of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite (they are entitled "Areopagitic") are of extraordinary significance in the Theology of the Orthodox Church [and also for late Medieval Western theology]. And over the expanse of almost four centuries -- until the beginning of the VI Century, the works of this holy father of the Church were preserved in an obscure manuscript tradition, primarily by theologians of the Alexandrian Church. The concepts in these works were known and utilised by Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Dionysios the Great -- pre-eminent figures of the catechetical school in Alexandria, and also by Sainted Gregory the Theologian. Saint Dionysios of Alexandria wrote to Saint Gregory the Theologian a Commentary on the "Areopagitum". The works of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite received general Church recognition during the VI-VII Centuries. Particularly relevant are the Commentaries written on them by the Monk Maximos the Confessor (+ 662, the account about him is under 21 January). [trans. note: although many scholars suggest that the "Areopagitum" was actually written by an anonymous VI Century figure who employed the in-antiquity common pious device of borrowing an illustrious name, this in no way diminishes the profound theological significance of the works, nor discredits the sainthood of the one, or possibly subsumed sainthood of the other; it is of no essential relevance here outside of historical speculations, the "ad authoritatem" methodology of which often are of questionable veracity].
In the Russian Orthodox Church the teachings of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite about the spiritual sacerdotal-principles and Deification were at first known of through the "Theology" of the Monk John Damascene (Comm. 4 December). The first Slavonic translation of the "Areopagitum" was done on Athos in about the year 1371 by a monk named Isaiah. Copies of it were widely distributed in Russia. Many of them have been preserved to the present-day in historic-manuscript collections -- among which is a parchment manuscript "Works of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite" belonging to Sainted Kiprian, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus' (+ 1406) -- in his own handwriting.
The Monk Dionysii, Hermit of Pechersk, called Schepa, was a presbyter. In the year 1463 at the time of the Pachal Matins, Dionysii made the rounds of the relics of each of the God-pleasing ones buried in the Antoniev Caves. When the monk cried out: "Holy fathers and brethren! Christ is Risen!", -- like thunder there resounded the reply: "In Truth He is Risen!" On this very day the Monk Dionysii went into seclusion as an hermit and after many labours he expired to the Lord. The miracle involving Saint Dionysii is spoken of in the 8th Ode of the Canon of the Kievo-Pechersk Saints. His memory is observed also on 28 August and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Monk John Khozebites, Bishop of Palestinian Caesarea, (587-596), was famed for his struggle against the Eutykhian heresy, but also for his graced gifts of perspicacity and wonderworking. He was born in the Egyptian city of Thebes and while still a youth he asceticised for a long time with his uncle in the Thebaid wilderness. Having learned of his holy life, by order of the emperor, they made him bishop of the city of Caesarea. But the saint, yearning solitude, withdrew into the Khuzebite wilderness (betwixt Jerusalem and Jericho) and pursued asceticism there until the end of his life (VI).
Blessed Hesykhios Khorebites the Hesychiast ("Bezmolvnik"), lived during the VI Century at one of the monasteries on Athos, and at first he was not very fervent a monk. After a serious illness Hesykhios died, but through a wondrous act of Divine Providence, after an hour he came back to life. After this the blessed saint secluded himself in his cell as an hermit, and for 12 years he dwelt in complete solitude. The brethren heard only the singing of Psalms and penitent weeping. Before his death, Blessed Hesykhios said to the gathered monks: "Forgive me, brethren. He that is mindful of death sinneth no more".
With the name Hesykhios is connected the Athonite skete-form of the Hesychiasts ("Bezmolvni" or "Silents"), striving after an unique experience by the mental Jesus Prayer.
The PriestMartyr Hierotheos, Bishop of Athens, was a member of the Athenian Areopagia and was converted to Christ by the Apostle Paul together with Saint Dionysios the Areopagite (Comm. 3 October). The saint was consecrated by the Apostle Paul to the dignity of bishop. By tradition, Bishop Hierotheos was present together with Bishop Dionysios at the funeral of the MostHoly Mother of God. Saint Hierotheos died a martyr's death in the Ist Century.
Holy Nobleborn Prince Vladimir Yaroslavich, Novgorod Wonderworker, was the eldest son of GreatPrince Yaroslav the Wise, and was born in the year 1020. At age 14 his father made him administrator of Novgorod. The voevoda (military-commander) Vyshata and the holy Bishop Luke Zhidyata (Comm. 10 February) assisted in guiding the prince. When he matured, the prince became a brave defender of the land and a pious Christian. Saint Vladimir built at Novgorod the Sophia cathedral, which was started in the year 1045 and consecrated on 14 September 1052 by Bishop Luke. The holy prince was not only concerned about the strengthening of the princedom (by his decree was built at Novgorod a stone fortress), but he also zealously instructed himself in the law of the Lord. It thus is known, that in 1047 the prophetic books with explanations were copied out for him.
The holy prince died at age 32 on 4 October 1052 -- 20 days after the consecration of the Sophia temple, and his relics were placed in the church built by him. In the Novgorod Synodikon is mentioned his spouse, princess Alexandra. Commemoration of holy prince Vladimir was established in the year 1439 by Sainted Evphymii, Archbishop of Novgorod (Comm. 11 March).
The Monk Ammon, Hermit of Pechersk (XIII Century), was given the title Work-Lover. The saint went to Athos and to Jerusalem. Upon his return he became famed for his exploits, and he was an image of holy life for the brethren. He was buried in the Farther Caves. His memory is also 28 August and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Monk Ammon of Egypt was raised in Christian piety. Having entered into marriage at the demand of his parents, Ammon by agreement with his spouse preserved virginity and he began to live with her as brother with sister. The spiritual spouses pursued asceticism in fasting, prayer and conjoint effort for 20 years. Having matured in piety, the spouses then separately continued their ascetic deeds. The wife of Ammon remained home and founded at it a women's monastery. Ammon went out into the Nitreian wilderness, where he dwelt for 22 years and attained to high spiritual accomplishments, the gifts of wonderworking and perspicacity.
The Monk Ammon often came for blessing to the Monk Anthony the Great (Comm. 17 January). At the hour of death of the Monk Ammon, Saint Anthony beheld how Angels with joy lifted up to heaven the soul of the righteous one. The Monk Ammon died in the mid-IV Century.
Saint Evdemoz led the Georgian Orthodox Church in the mid-17th century during the reign of King Rostom-Khan (1632–1658), a Georgian who had converted to Islam.
Having murdered King Luarsab II of Kartli and chased out King Teimuraz I of Kakheti, the Persian shah Abbas I had declared Rostom-Khan ruler of a unified Kartli-Kakheti kingdom.
Rostom tried to be accommodating in his policies and protect the beliefs and traditions of both the Persian shah and the Georgian people: he set a standard salary for the Georgian clergy and even built churches, but society deteriorated rapidly nevertheless. Human vices became commonplace, and sins like those of Sodom and Gomorrah were multiplied. The nation was so overtaken by sin that even the clergy ceased to conduct themselves in a manner befitting their God-given role.
But the chief shepherd of the Georgian nation would not yield to the moral decline of his flock, and he confronted this crisis with conviction and fearlessness. Several times he led his most valiant military leaders in revolt against Persia. Following the example of Catholicos Evdemoz, several Georgian princes rebelled against the pro-Persian policies of Rostom-Khan and cast out the Islamic influence from their territories.
Catholicos Evdemoz resisted the Islamic custom of raising the king’s heirs in the shah’s court from a young age. He was never too intimidated by the king to expose his wrongdoing and tell him at every convenient opportunity: “You are the natural father of the Muslims, but the stepfather of the Christians!”
Evdemoz was the spiritual father of Rostom-Khan’s wife, the faithful Queen Mariam, the daughter of Manuchar Dadiani, Prince of Samegrelo.
As a result of the holy labors of Catholicos Evdemoz and Queen Mariam, the Christian soul of the Georgian people was not entirely extinguished. The Georgians built churches, wrote spiritual literature, and gradually regained their national consciousness. Catholicos Evdemoz preached throughout the country and developed and implemented a plan to bring King Teimuraz, who had been driven out by Shah Abbas, back to the throne.
Naturally Rostom-Khan felt threatened by the strong influence Catholicos Evdemoz had on the people. In 1642 he arrested the chief shepherd of the Georgian people and tried to win him over, but neither his feigned tenderness nor his threats could break the firm will of the man who loved Christ and his motherland above all else. After his arrest, St. Evdemoz criticized the king even more harshly and called on the people to rise up against him. Finally Rostom-Khan ordered that Catholicos Evdemoz be strangled to death in his prison cell, and as a further insult, his body was cast off Nariqala Fortress (in Tbilisi) in the direction of the Turkish baths.
That night, a group of Christians stole the body of the holy hieromartyr Catholicos-Patriarch Evdemoz and buried it in the northwest corner of Anchiskhati Church in Tbilisi.
The holy martyr Callisthene was born in Ephesus, and her father was the eparch Audactus. She was to marry the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311), but her father would not consent to the match because the emperor was a pagan. Therefore, Audactus was deprived of his wealth and position, and was exiled to Melitene, Armenia where he was beheaded.
Callisthene hid for a time in Nicomedia with a certain woman, and healed the woman's daughter of an eye ailment. After the death of Maximian, Licinius (311-324) became the last pagan emperor. Callisthene became friendly with his Christian wife Constantia, the daughter of St Constantine (May 21). She told Constantia of all that had happened to her, and she helped Callisthene to regain her father's wealth and possessions. She did not want these things for herself, but gave everything away to the poor.
She also brought her father's body back to Ephesus and built a church which was dedicated to him.
St Callisthene devoted the rest of her life to Christ, and died in Ephesus in the first half of the fourth century.
The Monk Paul the Simple lived in the IV Century. He was called Simple for his simplicity of heart and gentleness. The monk had been married, but having learned about the infidelity of his spouse, he left her and set off into the wilderness to the Monk Anthony the Great (Comm. 17 January). Paul was already 60 years old, and Saint Anthony at first did not accept Paul, since he was unfit for harshness of the hermit's life. Paul stood at the cell of the ascetic for three days, saying that he would sooner die than go from there. Then the Monk Anthony settled Paul in with him, and long tested his endurance and humility by hard work, severe fasting, with nightly vigils, constant singing of psalms and with poklon-bowings to the ground. Finally the Monk Anthony decided to settle Paul into a separate cell.
For many years of ascetic exploits the Lord granted the Monk Paul both perspicacity, and the power to cast out demons. When they brought a possessed youth to the Monk Anthony, he guided the sick one to the Monk Paul with the words: "Those great in faith can cast out only small demons, but the humble like Paul the Simple, have power over the princes among demons".
The Monks Jona and Nektarii of Kazan -- in the world were Ioann (John) and Nestor Zastol'sky. When Sainted Gurii (+1563, Comm. 5 December) was sent to the newly established Kazan diocese, the boyar Ioann Zastol'sky journeyed with him. Under the spiritual guidance of Sainted Gurii, Ioann led a virtuous and pious life. He shunned sin, loved truth, and was strictly honest. Ioann raised his son Nestor in the fear of God. The gentle youth from childhood was an ascetic: he wore an hair-shirt, and kept the fasts. He loved to pray in church. With the consent of his father, Nestor took monastic vows with the name Nektarii. He died at a youthful age. Nestor's father, Ioann, was tonsured into monasticism with the name Jona. Before death he gave final instructions to bury him alongside Sainted Gurii, near whose grave was buried Nektarii.
At the uncovering of the relics of Saints Gurii and Varsonophii in 1595 were uncovered also the undecayed bodies and clothing of the Monks Jona and Nektarii. They were left beneathe a crypt in a chapel of the Kazan Saviour-Transfiguration monastery (the chapel was built by Jona over the grave of Saint Gurii). The saints are mentioned in the service to Sainted Gurii: "Two monks having well asceticised to God, Jona and Nektarii, one born of the other, didst faithfully serve thee in the world and upon thy death keeping sincere faith with thee didst raise up over thine grave a chapel of stone. Herein alongside thee be buried these saints, honoured with much incorruption from God above. Pray thou with them, Sainted Gurii, unto Christ God, to grant us peace and great mercy".
Saint Stephen (Stefan) Schilyanovich was born into a pious Christian family in the Serbian city of Zhupa (south side of Zakholm'ya). During this time Serbia was often subjected to incursions by the Turks, who devastated the land. Saint Stephen defended his native-land, doing military service in the army of the Serbian ruler. When famine began in the country, the kindly Saint Stephen distributed his own bread to the hungry. The patriotic activity of the saintly soldier was indissolubly bound up with his truly Christian life. He "ever aceticised in virtues, to wit: charity, purity, prayer, the Orthodox faith and unhypocritical love towards neighbour". The saint expired to the Lord on 4 October 1515. After a certain while the Turks saw over his grave a light. Thinking, that here was hidden treasure, they broke open the grave and found the incorrupt body of Saint Stephen. Serbian monks ransomed the relics from the Turkish pasha and transferred them to the Shishatovets monastery on Mount Phrushtsk.
As a glorious righteous defender of his native-land, the Serbian Church prays thus to him: "Glory in the struggles, warrior Stefan Schilyanovich, great healer of those having recourse to thee in faith".
The Holy Martyress Charitina was orphaned in childhood and raised like an actual daughter by the pious Christian Claudius. The young woman was very pretty, very sensible, kind and fervent in faith. She imparted to other people her love for Christ, and she converted many to the way of salvation.
During a time of persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), Saint Charitina was subjected to horrible torments for her strong confession of the Lord Jesus Christ, and she died with prayer to the Lord (in the year 304).
The Lives of the Monks Damian the Presbyter and Healer, Jeremii (Jeremia) and Matfei (Matthew) the Perspicacious, Wonderworkers of Pechersk, were described by the Monk Nestor the Chronicler (Comm. 27 October).
The Monk Damian (+ 1071) still remembered the Baptism of Rus (in year 988). The zealous imitator of the Monk Feodosii (Theodosii, Comm. 3 May) was gentle, industrious and obedient, to the joy of all the brethren. He spent the entire night at prayer and reading the Divine Scriptures. Saint Damian was strict at fasting and, except for bread and water, he ate nothing. The Lord rewarded him with the gift of treating maladies.
The Monk Jeremii had of the Lord the gift to see into the future, and to see into the moral condition of a person. The monk died in old age (+ c. 1070).
The Monk Matfei (+ c. 1088) was also endowed with the gift of seeing into the spiritual world. By his insight the elder would tell brethren, things to avoid doing of danger for the soul.
In the Iconographic Original it says: "Matfei with the image of a perspicacious elder, from black greyed of beard like Vlas, in black klobuk, a monastic robe, hands pressed to the heart".
The general tropar to these saints is: "By the light of Christ's commandments your hearts were enlightened, and ye did dispel the dread darkness: like an abode of the Trinity ye three art fathers, Damian, Jeremii with Matfei, from whom grace we do receive, ye heal the infirm, and the future ye do announce with the Angel in co-communion of essence, pray ye to Christ God to grant unto us the communion of the saints". Their memory is also on 28 September and the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Nun Kharitina, Princess of Lithuania, pursued asceticism in a Novgorod women's monastery in honour of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, built in Sinich hill.
Having resolved to dedicate her life to the Lord, she accepted monasticism. For her virtuous life the nun was made hegumeness of the monastery. And until the time of her death, she was a sister to all by way of humility, purity and strict temperance. She reposed in the year 1281 and was buried in the Petropavlov (Peter and Paul) monastery church.
In the Iconographic Original it says: "The holy and righteous Kharitina, head of the Petrovsk maidens monastery, at Novgorod. She was born of Lithuanian royalty; by likeness a maiden of simple appearance, in a single garb without mantle".
The PriestMartyr Dionysios, Bishop of Alexandria, was at mature age converted to Christianity by the reknown teacher of the Church, Origen (III), and became his student. Afterwards, he was the head of the Alexandrian Catechetical School, and then in the year 247, he was elevated to bishop of Alexandria.
Saint Dionysios exerted much effort for the defence of Orthodoxy from heresy, and he encouraged his flock in the firm confession of the True Faith during times of persecution under the emperors Decius (249-251) and Valerian (253-259).
The holy bishop underwent much suffering. When a plague appeared in Alexandria, the saint called on his flock to tend sick christians and pagans alike, and to bury the dead. About the repose of his spiritual children he wrote: "By such manner the best of our brethren have departed life. This generation of the dead -- a deed of great piety and firm faith, no wise less a martyrdom". Saint Dionysios none the less illumined his flock with deeds of love and charity. He died in the year 264 or 265.
The Holy Martyress Mamelkhva the Persian before conversion to the Christian faith was a pagan priestess to the goddess Artemida.
The sister of the saint convinced her to accept Baptism. When the pagans saw Mamelkhva in the white baptismal garb, they pelted her with stones. The saint suffered in the year 344.
The Monk Gregory Khandzti was the founder and head of the Klardzheti monastery. He was descended from an illustrious Gruzian (Georgian) lineage, flourishing by the good will of the emperor Ashuta Kuropalata (786-826). The vocation to monastic life was evident even in the childhood years of the monk. Thus did he explain to his mother about leaving home to enter upon the ascetic way: "Forgive me, my mother, but I am departed from thee not on a whim, but because it happened that it was pleasing to God".
The Monk Gregory spent all his life in unceasing prayer, in tears, temperance, patience, meekness, in deepest humility and untiring works. He worthily gained for himself the glory of a pious and zealous servant of the Church of Christ, and he was chosen under the emperor Ashuta Kuropalata as the hegumen of the Khandzti monastery. Distinguished by his profound obedience to the will of God, Saint Gregory saw the meaning of earthly life to be particularly in obedience, as bestowing the supreme blessed freedom of all creatures. He placed obedience to a spiritual father at the foundation of all the way of monastic life, inspiring monastic institutions throughout all Klardzeti, and afterwards in future as an archimandrite -- throughout all Gruzia.
During this time in Byzantium, after the iconoclastic council of 815, the Orthodox were forcefully oppressed. Georgian (Gruzian) monasticism, spiritually nourished by the Monk Gregory Khandzti, defended and affirmed the purity of the Orthodox faith, while simultaneously struggling with Monophysitism.
In 825 Gregory Khandzti "upon arrival at Constantinople, venerated the Wood of Life and all the holy relics, and he joyfully made the rounds of all the places of Divine-pilgrimage", and he took with him to Gruzia "relics of the saints, holy icons and other blessed items in abundance". Saint Gregory was a zealous advocate of the co-operation of Church and state, independent and equal in relation to each other. His views were favourably received in the decisions of a Church Council, convened in Dzhavakheti, and they assisted in the consolidation of the Autocephalous Gruzian Orthodox Church. The spiritual son of the Monk Gregory Khandzti, Bishop Ephrem of Atskur, "established the blessing of myrh (chrism) in Gruzia, with the blessing of the Jerusalem Patriarch and his witness", as Gregory Merchuli testifies in his compilation of the Life of Saint Gregory Khandzti.
According to tradition, Saint Gregory Khandzti spent the final month of his life in a solitary cell, where he was vouchsafed blessed visions. The monks of the monastery saw a radiance lighting up his cell, and they were convinced that it was "not a burning fire, but the Spirit of God" that beshone the righteous, like the Light of Tabor. The Gruzian (Georgian) Church makes the memory of Saint Gregory Khandzti on 5 October, on the day of his blessed death.
The Holy Apostle Thomas was born in the Galileian city of Pansada and plied the trade of fisherman. Hearing the good tidings of Jesus Christ, he left all and followed after Him. The Apostle Thomas is included in the number of the holy Twelve Apostles, the 12 closest disciples of the Saviour.
By the account of Holy Scripture, the holy Apostle Thomas did not believe the reports of the other disciples about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: "Unless I see in His hand the wound of the nail, and place my finger into the wound of the nail, and place my hand in His side, I shalt not believe" (Jn. 20: 25). On the eighth day after the Resurrection the Lord appeared to the Apostle Thomas and shew His wounds. "My Lord and my God" -- cried out the holy apostle (Jn. 20: 28). "Thomas, being once weaker in faith than the other apostles, -- says Saint John Chrysostom, -- toiled through the grace of God more bravely, more zealously and tirelessly than them all, such that he went preaching almost over nearly all the earth, not fearing to announce the Word of God to savage nations". According to Church Tradition, the holy apostle Thomas founded Christian churches in Palestine, Mesopotamia, Parthia, Ethiopia and India. Preaching the Gospel earned the apostle a martyr's death. For having converted the wife and son of the governor of the Indian city of Meliapur (Melipur), the holy apostle was locked up in prison, suffered torture, and finally, having been pierced with five spears, he expired to the Lord. Part of the relics of the holy Apostle Thomas are in India, in Hungary and on Athos. With the name of the Apostle Thomas is connected the Arabian (or Arapet) Icon of the Mother of God (Comm. 6 September).
The Holy Martyrs Sergios and Bakkhos were appointed to high positions in the army by the emperor Maximian (284-305), who did not know that they were Christians. Malevolent persons made a denunciation to Maximian, that his two military-commanders did not honour the pagan gods, and this was considered a crime against the state.
The emperor, wanting to convince himself of the veracity of the denunciation, ordered Sergios and Bakkhos to offer sacrifice to the idols, but they answered, that they honoured but the One God and Him only did they worship.
Maximian commanded that the martyrs be stripped of the insignia of military rank, and then having dressed them in feminine clothing to lead them through the city with an iron chain on the neck, for the mockery by the people. Then he again summoned Sergios and Bakkhos to him and in a friendly approach advised them not to be swayed by Christian fables and instead return to the Roman gods. But the saints remained steadfast. Then the emperor commanded that they be dispatched to the governor of the eastern part of Syria, Antiochus, a fierce hater of Christians. Antiochus had received his position with the help of Sergios and Bakkhos. "My fathers and benefactors! -- he addressed the saints, -- have pity not only upon yourself, but also on me: I want not to condemn ye to martyrdom". The holy martyrs replied, that for them life -- is Christ, and death for Him -- its acquisition. In a rage Antiochus ordered Bakkhos to be mercilessly beaten, and the holy martyr expired to the Lord. They shod Sergios with iron shoes inset with nails and sent him off to another city, where he as beheaded with the sword (c. year 300).
Saint Sergius of Nurma was originally from Greece, and traveled from Mt. Athos in order to converse with St Sergius of Radonezh (September 25) and to ask his advice on spiritual matters, even though he himself was already an experienced Elder.
After spending some time with the great man, St Sergius went to the Vologda region near the river Nurma, a tributary of the river Obnora in order to live in solitude. Soon, monks and laymen came to join him, attracted by the holiness of his life. In time, about forty ascetics joined St Sergius in the wilderness. He established a monastery and built a church dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Lord.
One day, St Sergius encountered St Paul of Obnora (January 10) near his monastery, feeding birds from his hands. All creatures obeyed St Paul, just as they obeyed Adam in Paradise.
The two saints became very close and counseled one another in their spiritual endeavors. St Paul had St Sergius, who had been ordained to the holy priesthood on Mt. Athos, as his spiritual Father. St Paul would confess his thoughts to Sergius, and also received Holy Communion from him. When St Sergius would leave for his own home three miles away, St Paul walked with him two thirds of the way. A chapel was later built on the spot where the two saints parted.
St Paul told St Sergius that he heard church bells ringing one night while he was in the forest by the river Nurma, and that he had also seen a bright light. St Sergius predicted that a monastery would be founded there one day. He urged St Paul to build a church dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
St Sergius was twice attacked by bands of thieves. The first time they almost beat him to death. The second time they were driven off by the power of his prayers.
St Sergius fell asleep in the Lord on October 7, 1412 at an advanced age.
Martyred nun, also called Osith and Sytha. Known mainly through legends, she was supposedly the daughter of a chieftain of the Mercians in England and Wilburga, daughter of the powerful pagan king Penda of Mercia. Raised in a convent, Osyth desired to become a nun but was married against her will to King Sighere of Essex, by whom she had a son. Eventually, she won his permission to enter a convent, and she established a monastery on land at Chich, Essex, donated by Sighere, where she served as an abbess. She was reputedly slain by Danish raiders and is thus depicted in art as carrying her own head. There are historical difficulties associated with her existence, especially as no mention is made of her by Bede in his Ecclesiastical History.
The Monk Sergei of Obnorsk and Nuromsk, Vologda Wonderworker, began his monastic exploits on Holy Mount Athos. Then he arrived in Russia and settled in the monastery of the Life-Originating Trinity under the guidance of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh (Comm. 5 July and 25 September). After several years, with the blessing of the hegumen, the Monk Sergei to the Vologda forests and settled at the bank of the River Nurma. There he erected a cross and built a chapel with a cell, in which he ascetic in deep silence, "going forth in like-angelic life", and with patience enduring temptation from demons and malevolent people.
It pleased the Lord to summon the saint from his solitude, so that he in his attainment of wisdom and spiritual experience should serve unto the salvation of others. From various places gathered to him 40 men, thirsting for the pious life. By their common efforts, the brethren built a large temple in honour of the Carrying-Forth of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord (Comm. 1 August). Around the church were built the monastic cells.
The Monk Paul of Obnorsk (Comm. 10 January) asceticised not far from the Nuromsk monastery, and the Monk Sergei often visited him for discourse to benefit of soul. The Monk Sergei died on 7 October 1412, and in the year 1546 began the churchly veneration of the saint.
The Holy Martyr Polychronios the Presbyter was the son of a landowner. He was raised with a love for work and in Christian piety. Reaching maturity, Polychronios left his parental home for Constantinople and began to work for one of the rich vineyard owners. The vineyard owner was amazed at the love for toil and the ascetic life of the youth. For his fine work the saint received much money, with which he built a church. Soon he was ordained to the dignity of presbyter. According to tradition, Saint Polychronios participated in the acts of the First OEcumenical Council. He was murdered by heretics (Arians) at the altar of the church (IV Century).
Saint Pelagia of Tarsus in Cilicia (southeastern Asia Minor) lived in the third century, during the reign of Diocletian (284-305), and was the daughter of illustrious pagans. When she heard about Jesus Christ from her Christian friends, she believed in Him and desired to preserve her virginity, dedicating her whole life to the Lord.
Emperor Diocletian's heir (a boy he adopted), saw the maiden Pelagia, was captivated by her beauty and wanted her to be his wife. The holy virgin told the youth that she was betrothed to Christ the Immortal Bridegroom, and had renounced earthly marriage.
Pelagia's reply greatly angered the young man, but he decided to leave her in peace for awhile, hoping that she would change her mind. At the same time, Pelagia convinced her mother to let her visit the nurse who had raised her in childhood. She secretly hoped to find Bishop Linus of Tarsus, who had fled to a mountain during a persecution against Christians, and to be baptized by him. She had seen the face of Bishop Linus in a dream, which made a profound impression upon her. The holy bishop told her to be baptized. St Pelagia traveled in a chariot to visit her nurse, dressed in rich clothes and accompanied by a whole retinue of servants, as her mother wished.
Along the way St Pelagia, by the grace of God, met Bishop Linus. Pelagia immediately recognized the bishop who had appeared to her in the dream. She fell at his feet, requesting Baptism. At the bishop's prayer a spring of water flowed from the ground.
Bishop Linus made the Sign of the Cross over St Pelagia, and during the Mystery of Baptism, angels appeared and covered the chosen one of God with a bright mantle. After giving the pious virgin Holy Communion, Bishop Linus offered a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord with her, and then sent her to continue her journey. She then exchanged her expensive clothing for a simple white garment, and distributed her possessions to the poor. Returning to her servants, St Pelagia told them about Christ, and many of them were converted and believed.
She tried to convert her own mother to Christ, but the obdurate woman sent a message to Diocletian's son that Pelagia was a Christian and did not wish to be his wife. The youth realized that Pelagia was lost to him, and he fell upon his sword in his despair. Pelagia's mother feared the emperor's wrath, so she tied her daughter up and led her to Diocletian's court as a Christian who was also responsible for the death of the heir to the throne. The emperor was captivated by the unusual beauty of the virgin and tried to turn her from her faith in Christ, promising her every earthly blessing if she would become his wife.
The holy virgin refused the emperor's offer with contempt and said, "You are insane, Emperor, saying such things to me. I will not do your bidding, and I loathe your vile marriage, since I have Christ, the King of Heaven, as my Bridegroom. I do not desire your worldly crowns which last only a short while. The Lord in His heavenly Kingdom has prepared three imperishable crowns for me. The first is for faith, since I have believed in the true God with all my heart; the second is for purity, because I have dedicated my virginity to Him; the third is for martyrdom, since I want to accept every suffering for Him and offer up my soul because of my love for Him."
Diocletian sentenced Pelagia to be burned in a red-hot bronze bull. Not permitting the executioners to touch her body, the holy martyr signed herself with the Sign of the Cross, and went into the brazen bull and her flesh melted like myrrh, filling the whole city with fragrance. St Pelagia's bones remained unharmed and were removed by the pagans to a place outside the city. Four lions then came out of the wilderness and sat around the bones letting neither bird nor wild beast get at them. The lions protected the relics of the saint until Bishop Linus came to that place. He gathered them up and buried them with honor. Later, a church was built over her holy relics.
The Service to the holy Virgin Martyr Pelagia of Tarsus says that she was "deemed worthy of most strange and divine visions." She is also commemorated on May 4.
Little is known about the life of St. Joseph of Khevi. The Church is certain only that he was a native of Khevi (in northern Georgia) and served as a priest in that village. In addition to being great warriors, the people of Khevi have throughout history been remarkably steadfast in the Christian Faith. The churches and monasteries in Khevi are extraordinary in both beauty and inaccessibility. They were deliberately built in mountainous places, as if reaching them should demand the greatest of zeal.
The most important ornament and symbol of Khevi is the ice that perpetually caps the peak of Mt. Kazbegi. On the slope of this mountain stands Trinity Monastery, where at one time St. Nino’s cross was preserved (it is presently kept in Tbilisi, in the northern section of the iconostasis at Sioni Cathedral).
Located above Trinity Monastery, on the ice-covered, vertical cliff of Mt. Kazbegi, is a cave hermitage at 13,450 feet, known as the Bethlehem Cave. It is possible to reach this hermitage only by climbing chains let down from its height. According to the chronicle Life of Kartli, this cave has throughout history been used to store sacred objects and treasures of the Church.
The historian David Batonishvili records that St. Joseph was especially known for his love of holy objects, for keeping the strictest of fasts, and for his outstanding virtues. He climbed to the Bethlehem Hermitage and returned with a piece of the tent of the patriarch Abraham, (Georgian tradition relates that both the tent of the Patriarch Abraham and the manger of Christ were kept in the Bethlehem Cave for many centuries.) which he presented to King Erekle. Having attained the heights of clairvoyance and miracle-working, St. Joseph reposed peacefully in the year 1763.
The Holy Martyrs Julian the Presbyter and Caesarius the Deacon suffered for Christ in the I Century. Saint Caesarius was thrown into prison in the Italian city of Terracinium for insulting the pagan gods. They later took him bound to the temple of Apollo, but before they got him near the pagan temple it collapsed, killing the pagan priests and many of the people. At about this same time the idolators arrested the Christian priest Julian. By order of the emperor, the holy martyrs were cast into the sea, but their bodies floated up, and Christians buried the sufferers. The relics of Saint Caesarius are situated at Rome.
The Nun Pelagia was converted to Christianity by Sainted Nonnos, Bishop of Edessa (Comm. on Saturday of Cheesefare Week). Before her acceptance of saving Baptism, Pelagia was head of a dance troupe in Palestinian Antioch, living life in frivolity and profligacy. But one time Pelagia, elegantly dressed, was making her way past a church, at the doors of which Saint Nonnos was preaching a sermon. Believers turned their faces away from the sinner, but the bishop long glanced after her. Struck by the outer beauty of Pelagia and having foreseen the spiritual greatness in her, the saint in his cell prayed long to the Lord for the sinner, grieving that the poverty attiring his soul could not compare with the splendid garb and beauty of the profligate.
On the following day, when Saint Nonnos was teaching in the church about the Dread Last Judgement and its consequences, Pelagia came. The teaching made such an impression upon her, that betaken with the fear of God and bursting out in tears of repentance, she besought the saint for Baptism. Seeing the sincere and full repentance of Pelagia, Bishop Nonnos baptised her.
By night the devil appeared to Pelagia, urging her to return to her former life. In answer to this the saint made prayer, signed herself with the Sign of the Cross, and the devil vanished. Having gathered up her valuables, Saint Pelagia took them to Bishop Nonnos. The bishop gave orders to distribute it amidst the poor with the words: "Let be wisely dispersed what is miraculously gathered". After this Saint Pelagia in hair-shirt journeyed to Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives. There, until her end (457), she asceticised in seclusion under the masculine-name Pelagios, and attained to great spiritual gifts.
The Monk Tryphon, Archimandrite of Vyatsk, came of pious parents, living in Arkhangelsk diocese. His parents intended to marry Tryphon off, but he had from his youthful years a desire for the monastic life, and he secretly left his home for the city of Ustiug, where he took up residence with a parish priest who dwelt in strict fasting and prayer. And then he lived in the town of Orletsa nearby the church, enduring hunger and cold, and from there he moved on to the Pyshkorsk monastery at the River Kama. Here the Monk Tryphon was received into monastic life and received tonsure under the hegumen Varlaam. The 22 year old monk did not pass up a single church service, and he did heavy obedience in the bakery. When he fell grievously ill, Saint Nicholas appeared to him and healed him, encouraging him in ascetic effort.
In search of solitude, the monk went to the Mulyanka River and settled at the place where now is situated the city Perm. Here he converted to Christianity the pagan Ostyaks and Voguli. Then the Monk Tryphon withdrew to the River Chusova and founded there a monastery in honour of the Uspenie-Dormition of the MostHoly Mother of God. In 1580 he arrived in the city of Khynov in Vyatsk diocese, and likewise he founded there an Uspensk monastery and was made archimandrite. Being a strict ascetic, he wore an hairshirt on his body and also heavy chains. The soul of the elder thirsted for the enlightenment of the lost with the light of faith in Christ. He devoted all his energy to this holy effort.
Before his death, the Monk Tryphon wrote a last testament to the brethren, in which he says: "Fathers and brethren, thou flock gathered about Christ! Heed me, a sinner. Though I be coarse and worse than any, God and His All-Pure Mother have permitted me, a sinner, to manage His household. I beseech ye, for God and His All-Pure Mother, have spiritual love amongst yourselves. Without this no virtue is complete before God. The lips of Christ bespoke the disciples: "Love one another" (Jn. 13: 34). And in the words of the Apostle Paul: "Bear each other's burdens" (Gal. 6: 2). Condemn ye not one another before God, whether in the temple or in the cell, either alone or in common with the brethren. Do fearfully your cell prayers. And by no means neglect church singing; although there be other matters, hasten to church to God for spiritual song. First give to God what is God's, and then fulfill the other matters". The Monk Tryphon expired to the Lord in old age in 1612. He was buried in the Vyatsk monastery founded by him.
The Monk Dosiphei of Verkhneostrovsk and Pskov was a disciple of the Monk Evphrosyn of Spasoeleazarovsk and Pskov (Comm. 15 May). In 1470 he founded the Petropavlovsk Verkhneostrov monastery at Lake Pskova, where he was hegumen.
The holy New Martyr Ignatius was born in the village of Eski Zagora in the Trnovo region of Bulgaria, and was named John in Baptism. While he was still a young child, his parents George and Maria moved to the city of Philippopolis and enrolled him in a school there.
Although he did well at school, he had a strong desire for the monastic life. Upon reaching adulthood, he entered the Rila monastery in western Bulgaria. There he was assigned to an Elder, with whom he lived in obedience for six years. When the Elder's strictness became unbearable, John returned home.
About that time the Serbs rose in revolt against the Moslem government. John's father was asked to take command of an Ottoman brigade, but he refused to fight against other Orthodox Christians.
The Moslems attacked George with furious anger. He was stabbed and then beheaded. John's mother and sisters were also taken by the Hagarenes, and they ultimately agreed to convert to Islam.
John fled and hid in the home of an elderly Orthodox woman. His mother and sisters learned where he was hiding, and they told the Moslems. Those sent to capture him did not know what he looked like, so the old woman told them she did not know him. The woman helped him escape to Bucharest, Romania, where he became acquainted with St Euthymius, who would also endure martyrdom.
John did not wish to stay in Bucharest, however, and so he left for Mt. Athos. On the way he visited the village of Soumla, where he ran into his friend Fr Euthymius again. Learning that Euthymius had denied Christ and beome a Moslem, John became very sad and left the village.
He had not gotten very far when Turkish soldiers stopped him and took all his possessions. They demanded that he convert to Islam, and in his fright he told them that he would do so. Satisfied with this reply, they let him go.
John reached the village of Eski Zagora, where he met an Athonite monk from the monastery of Grigoriou. They journeyed to the Holy Mountain together, and John settled in the Skete of St Anna. There he met Fr Basil.
One day John and Fr Basil traveled to Thessalonica on monastery business. While they were there the monks David and Euthymius of Demetsana suffered martyrdom because they were Christians. John was inflamed with the desire for martyrdom. Fr Basil, however, urged him to postpone his intention, and so they returned to the Holy Mountain. A short time after this, Fr Basil died.
When a monk from the Skete of St Anna told him of the martyrdom of the New Martyr Euthymius (March 22), John was once more filled with zeal for martyrdom. He was placed under the spiritual direction of the Elder Acacius, who prescribed for him prayer, prostrations, and reading the Gospel.
In time, John was found worthy of monastic tonsure, and was given the new name Ignatius. The Elder Acacius blessed him to travel to Constantinople with the monk Gregory in order to bear witness to Christ. After receiving the Holy Mysteries in Constantinople, Ignatius felt he was ready for his ordeal.
Dressed in Moslem garb, Ignatius went before the kadi and proclaimed his faith in Christ. He told him how he had promised to become a Moslem when he was younger, but now he threw his turban at the kadi's feet and said that he would never deny Christ.
Thinking that Ignatius was insane, the kadi warned him that if he did not come to his senses he would endure horrible torments before being put to death. On the other hand, if he embraced Islam, he would receive rich gifts and great honor from them.
The courageous martyr told the kadi to keep his gifts, for they were merely temporal gifts. "Your threats of torture and death are nothing new," he said, "and I knew of them before I came here. In fact, I came here because of them, so that I might die for my Christ."
St Ignatius went on to call Mohammed "a false prophet, a teacher of perdition, and a friend of the devil." Then he invited the Moslems to believe in Christ, the only true God.
The kadi then became so angry he could not speak, so he motioned for a servant to lead St Ignatius out of the room. Ignatius turned and struck the servant, then knelt before the kadi and bent his neck, as if inviting him to behead him then and there. Other servants entered the room, however, and dragged him off to prison.
Later, Ignatius was brought before the kadi for questioning. When asked who had brought him to Constantinople, he replied, "My Lord Jesus Christ brought me here."
Again the kadi urged him to reconsider, for he was about to experience unimaginable tortures. "Do not expect to be beheaded so that the Christians can collect your blood as a blessing," he said, "for I intend to hang you."
Ignatius replied, "You will be doing me a great service whether you hang me or put me to the sword. I accept everything for the love of Christ."
Seeing that he could not turn Ignatius from his Christian Faith, the kadi ordered him to be hanged. He was taken to a place called Daktyloporta, where the sentence was carried out. The martyr's body remained hanging there for three days, then some pious Christians paid a ransom for it and took it to the island of Prote for burial.
St Ignatius gave his life for Christ on October 8, 1814. He is also commemorated on May 1 with Sts Acacius and Euthymius.
The head of St Ignatius is in the Monastery of St Panteleimon on Mt Athos.
The Nun Taisia, raised by her mother in a spirit far removed from Christian piety, led a depraved and dissolute life. She was famed for her beauty, alluring many on the path to sin.
The account about the prodigal Taisia spread throughout all Egypt and reached even the elder, Paphnutios, a strict ascetic who had converted to salvation many of the lost. Dressing himself into worldly attire, Paphnutios went to Taisia and asked her to name for him a place, where not only people but even God Himself would not see them. Taisia answered that this was impossible, since God is omnipresent everywhere, and He sees and knows all. Having seen in her soul the spark of the fear of God, the elder went further. He pointed out all the grievousness and loathesomeness of her sins, and he told her about the answering she would have to give before God for the souls of people corrupted and destroyed by her.
The words of Saint Paphnutios so affected the sinner, that she, having gathered up all her riches acquired in shameful a manner, then set them afire in the city square and withdrew with the elder to a monastery, where for three years she dwelt in seclusion. Having turned herself towards the East, Taisia incessantly uttered the short prayer: "My Creator, have mercy on me!". "From that minute, when I entered into the cell, all my sins constantly were before my eyes, and I burst out in tears in remembering them", -- said the Nun Taisia to the elder before her death. "It is for this, thine tears, and not for the austerity of thine seclusion that the Merciful Lord hath granted thee mercy", -- said Saint Paphnutios in answer to her.
Saint James Alphaeus, one of the Twelve Apostles, was brother of the holy Evangelist Matthew. After the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle James Alphaeus, together with the Apostle Andrew the First-Called (Comm. 30 November), made missionary journeys preaching in Judea, Edessa, Gaza, Eleutheropolis, and converting many on the path of salvation. In the Egyptian city of Ostrazin Saint James finished his apostolic work with a martyr's death on the cross.
The Righteous Forefather Abraham lived around 2000 B.C. His story is found in the Book of Genesis, Chapters 12-25.
God told Abraham that all the nations of the earth would be blessed in his seed (Genesis 22:18), and ordered him to leave his home and his relatives and go to Canaan, the country between the Mediterranean and Jordan. Because God gave this land to Abraham and his posterity (Genesis 12:7), it became known as "the Promised Land."
Abraham and Lot are also commemorated with Christ's ancestors according to the flesh on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers (between December 11 and 17).
The Monastics Andronikos and his wife Athanasia lived in Antioch during the V Century. Saint Andronikos was a craftsman. His earnings he divided into three portions. One part he gave to the church, the second -- for the poor, and the third he used for his family. When the Lord took the son and daughter of Andronikos and Athanasia, the pious spouses decided to fully devote themselves to the service of God, helping the poor and the sick. And soon the saintly spouses set out for Alexandria, where Andronikos entered a skete monastery, and Athanasia -- the women's Tabennisiota monastery.
After 12 years of ascetic life the Monk Andronikos went to Jerusalem for prayer at the holy places. He met a co-pilgrim -- the monk Athanasias. This was Athanasia who, foreseeing the difficulties of the journey, had donned men's attire. They did not recognise each other, since long ascetic effort had altered their appearance. Having returned from Jerusalem, both monks settled into a single cell and for many years asceticised in silence. After the death of the Monastic Athanasia there remained a note, revealing her secret. And soon the Monk Andronikos likewise died.
The Holy Martyrs Euventios (Juventinus) and Maximos were body-guards of the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Having arrived in Antioch, the emperor gave orders to sprinkle with idol-worship blood all the food-stuffs in the marketplace and the water in the wells. Saints Euventios and Maximos opposed this edict, and Julian ordered them executed.
The Holy Martyress Poplia (Publia) the Confessor, Deaconess of Antioch, early became a widow, and with all her strength she turned to raising up her son John in the Christian faith. John became a presbyter, and Poplia for her prudent and ascetic life merited the dignity of deaconess. She took under her guidance widows and young women desiring to devote themselves to the service of God, and she organised a monastery in her home. During the time of the persecution of Christians under the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363), Saint Poplia with the sisters denounced the reprobate.
When the emperor made his way to the house of Poplia, the sisters sang loudly the 113th Psalm, denouncing idol-worship. The soldiers of the ruler fiercely beat up the venerable eldress, but she forebearingly endured the beating. But surviving not long after this, Saint Poplia expired to the Lord in peace.
The Holy Martyrs Eulampios and Eulampia, a brother and sister by birth, lived at the beginning of the IV Century in the city of Nikomedia. Having read the decree of the emperor Maximian (284-305) putting every Christian under a sentence of death by execution, Eulampios became upset that the emperor, rather than going off to fight the enemies of his fatherland, instead was taking up arms against his own subjects. They brought the youth to trial and demanded that he renounce the Christian faith. For his refusal they first tore at him with iron hooks, and then they placed him upon a red-hot bed. Of a sudden the sufferer expressed a wish to visit the pagan temple. The judges were delighted, supposing that they had swayed the youth from Christianity. In the pagan temple of Mars the saint cried out: "In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ I command thee, idol dumb and without soul, fall down upon the ground and be turned to dust!". The idol with a crash smashed down upon the ground. People exclaimed: "The Supreme God is the Christian God, great and mighty!". The saint again was taken off for torture. And this time the sister of the sufferer, Eulampia, appeared before the judges and declared, that she also was a Christian. Eulampios encouraged his sister: "Sister, fear not those killing the body, but unable to kill the soul" (Mt. 10: 28). After tortures they threw the martyrs into a red-hot furnace, but the Lord protected them from the fire. Finally, they beheaded the brother, and the sister died from the tortures.
Sainted Amphylokhii was bishop of one of the oldest of Russian dioceses -- Vladimir-Volynsk, established during the time of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir. Sainted Amphylokhii was the third archpastor to sit upon the cathedra-seat. The first Vladimir-Volynsk bishop was Stefan, established under Saint Vladimir himself; the next in succession -- was the monastic hegumen of Pechersk Stefan (Comm. 27 April), who had received the hegumenate from the Monk Theodosii (Comm. 3 May). Saint Amphylokhii was ordained bishop on 27 August 1105 by the Kiev metropolitan Nikiphor (1103-1121). For seventeen years he guided the Vladimiro-Volynsk flock. Only a couple of generations separate his time from that of the Baptism of Rus', and the saint had occasion to toil no little at the conversion of pagans to Christ, and likewise to root out pagan superstitions among the newly-baptised, while pacifying the strife amongst the princes.
Resigning finally as hierarch, he continued his service to God in the caves of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery, where also he died in the year 1122. The celebration of his memory -- 10 October, conjointly with the other sainted-hierarchs of the Volynsk region, was established in the year 1831, after the restoration of the Pochaev Lavra in Volynia to Orthodoxy.
Blessed Andrei (Andrew) of Totemsk was born in the year 1638in the village of Ust'-Totemsk and already while still in his childhood he left the world. With the blessing of Stefan, hegumen of the Voskresensk (Resurrection) monastery in Galich, Andrei took upon himself the arduous exploit of fool-for-Christ. He settled in the city of Tot'ma on the banks of the River Sukhona at the church of the Resurrection of Christ. He walked barefoot both winter and summer, in tattered clothing, he ate only bread and water and then only in such small quantity, as sufficed but to keep him from dying of hunger, and he prayed both day and night. If anyone gave him something, he gave it all away to the poor. For his efforts and toil Blessed Andrei merited the gift of wonderworking. One time in winter a blind man by the name of Azhibokai came to the fool, offering him a large sum of money whilst imploring healing, but the fool fled away. Azhibokai thereupon washed his eyes with snow from where the saint had stood, and in doing so he was able to see. To Blessed Andrei was revealed the time of his death. He made confession, communed the Holy Mysteries and peacefully expired to God. Over his grave was erected the bell-tower church of the holy Martyr Andrew Stratilates (Comm. 19 August), whose name he bore. At the grave of Blessed Andrei was witnessed many a miracle.
The Holy Martyr Theotekhnos was a reknown military-commander at Antioch under the emperor Maximian (305-311). And one time the emperor arrived in Antioch, demanding that all the inhabitants offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. As a Christian, Theotekhnos refused to fulfill the order. Then the emperor, scoffing at the Christian faith, gave orders to dress Theotekhnos in women's clothing and put him up right alongside the slave-women. Three weeks later the emperor summoned Theotekhnos to him, thinking that the humiliation would break his spirit, but again he heard a confession of the Name of Christ. "Thou dost imperil thine life, if thou submittest not", -- growled Maximian. Theotekhnos was silent. Then the emperor in a fury gave orders to burn the feet of the martyr and to cut the tendons, and then throw him in a kettle of boiling tar. But just as soon as Theotekhnos went into the kettle, the flames beneathe it went out, and the heat of the kettle went instantly cool. Terror seized the emperor. Not wanting to torture the martyr further, he dispatched him to prison and entrusted his own centurion to deal with the saint.
In prison together with Theotekhnos was a Christian confessor named Alexander. Theotekhnos helped him escape from the prison. Learning of this, the centurion subjected Theotekhnos to brutal torments, and finally, he gave orders to throw him into the sea with a stone about his neck. After a certain while near the city of Rusob on the Cilician seacoast the venerable relics of the martyr were found and given Christian burial.
The Monk Vassian was born in eastern Syria. He asceticised at Constantinople, where the pious emperor Marcian (450-457) then ruled. In the monastery, at which the Monk Vassian was hegumen, there were three hundred monks. Among them also was the Nun Matrona (Comm. 9 November), dressed in men's attire. The Monk Vassian lived in his monastery into old age, famed for his virtuous life and numerous miracles, and in peace he expired to the Lord.
Saint Theophilos the Confessor came from the surroundings of Tiberiada. At thirteen years of age the saint secretly left his home to go off to the laura-monastery on Mount Selenteia, where he matured spiritually under the guidance of the elder, Saint Stephen. After three years Saint Theophilos accepted tonsure into the monastic ranks. When the parents of the saint learned where their son was, they went then to the monastery and besought the hegumen to send off both Theophilos and several of the brethren, to establish a new monastery closer to the parental home. The hegumen bid all the monks to fast and to pray, so that a sign might be received. On the third day in church was heard a voice, giving the blessing to send off Theophilos, since he would become reknown by his many spiritual exploits at the new monastery.
There eventually ensued the reign of the iniquitous iconoclast emperor, Leo the Isaurian (717-741). Saint Theophilos openly revolted against the iconoclast folly. In accord with the emperor's orders, they subjected the saint to beatings, and they led him through the city all tied up like a criminal. The emperor then gave Theophilos over into the charge of the official, Ipatios. Ipatios tried every which way to compel the confessor to renounce holy icons, but he could not budge him. On the contrary, Saint Theophilos succeeded in persuading over Ipatios instead. He cited in proof the brass serpent erected by Moses (Num. 21: 9), the corroboration of the Cherubim atop the Ark of the Covenant, and finally he reminded, how the Saviour Himself had given to Abgar the prince of Edessa His Image Not-Wrought-by-Hand (Comm. 16 August). Persuaded in mind by this conversation, Ipatios gained permission of the emperor to set free the saint. The confessor returned to the monastery founded by him. He lived there but a short while, and in the year 716 Saint Theophilos expired peacefully to the Lord.
The Suffering of the 26 Zografsk MonkMartyrs: In the year 1274 at the Council of Lyons (in France), the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Paleologos decided to buttress against his own near downfall of power, by reckoning on an union with Catholic Rome -- with an Unia. The step evoked universal discontent throughout the land, and the emperor in 1278 issued a decree to introduce the Unia at Byzantium, if necessary by forceful measures. Holy Mount Athos stood in firm opposition to the Unia. The Athonite monks dispatched a letter to Michael, in which they pointed out basically, that the Primacy of the Pope, his commemoration in the churches, the making of the Eucharist with unleavened bread-wafers, the inserted addition in the Creed-Symbol of Faith of the "filioque" ("and of the Son") -- all this cannot be accepted by Orthodox, and they besought the emperor to change his mind. "We do clearly see, -- it says in the letter, -- that thou art become an heretic, but we implore thee: forsake all this and dwell in that teaching which was handed down to thee... Reject the unholy and novel teachings of a false knowledge, speculations added on to the faith". Crusaders, pushed out of Palestine and finding refuge in the Byzantine empire ("Romania"), declared to the emperor their readiness by fire and sword to affirm the power of the Pope. Michael moreover hired as mercenaries both Turks and Tatars. When the troops came nigh to the emperor's despised Athos, and so as not to provoke the Greeks, he decided to vent his spite upon the Athonite Slavs. By order of Michael the servants of the Pope descended upon the Bulgarian Zografsk monastery. When the demand to accept the Unia was presented before the Zografsk monks, none of them even wanted to hear about Catholicism. The majority of the Zografsk monks left the monastery, but the most steadfast, 26 in number, remained in the monastery wall-turret. These were: the hegumen Foma (Thomas), and Monks Varsonuphii, Kirill (Cyril), Mikhei, Simon, Ilarion, Iakov (James), Job, Kiprian, Savva, Iakov, Martinian, Kosma, Sergei, Mina, Joasaph, Ioannikii, Pavel (Paul), Antonii, Evphymii, Dometian, Parphenii and 4 Laymen. The holy martyrs for their Orthodox Faith were burned in the monastery turret on 10 October 1284.
The Holy Disciple Philip from amongst the Seventy (not to be confused with Saint Philip the Apostle from amongst the Twelve, the Commemoration of whom is on 14 November), was born in Palestine. He was married and had children.
After the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Twelve Apostles made him a deacon in the Jerusalem Church, and with the other six deacons they entrusted him to deal with the offerings of the faithful and attend to the concerns of the widowed, the orphaned and the needy. The eldest among the Seven First-Deacons was the holy Archdeacon Stephen. When a persecution began, and the Jews had stoned the First-Martyr Stephen, the Disciple Philip departed from Jerusalem. He settled in Samaria, and there he successfully preached Christianity. Among the converts of the disciple was the noted magician Simon who, "having been baptised, did not leave from Philip" (Acts 8: 9-13).
At the command of an Angel of the Lord the disciple set out upon the road connecting Jerusalem with Gaza, and there he met a dignitary of the empress of Ethiopia, whom also he converted to Christianity (Acts 8: 26-39). The holy disciple Philip tirelessly preached the Word of God in many of the lands of the Near East adjoining Palestine. At Jerusalem the Apostles ordained him to the dignity of bishop and sent him to Lydia, where he baptised many. Saint Philip died in old age.
The Monk Theophanes the Confessor, Composer of Canons, Bishop of Nicea, was the younger brother of the Monk Theodore the Lettered-Upon (Comm. 27 December). The brothers received an excellent education, and were particularly involved in philosophy. Striving towards knowledge of God, they settled in the Laura monastery of Saint Sava. Here the Monk Theophanes was tonsured, and after a certain while became a presbyter.
The holy brothers were famed as advocates of icon-veneration. They boldly fulfilled the mission entrusted them by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and set off to Constantinople to denounce the iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820). And afterwards they denounced also the iconoclast emperors Michael Balbos (820-829) and Theophilos (829-842).
The saints had to endure imprisonment, hunger, even tortures. The emperor Theophilos gave orders to inscribe upon their faces with red-hot needles a phrase insulting to the glorious confessors (wherefore they are called "Lettered-Upon"). "Write whatever thou dost wish, but at the Last Judgement thou shalt read thine writing", -- said the agonised brothers to the emperor. They dispatched Theodore to prison, where also he died (+ 833), but Theophanes they sent into exile. With the restoration of Icon-veneration the Monk Theophanes was returned from exile and ordained bishop of Nicea. The saint wrote about 150 canons, among which is a beautiful canon in defense of holy icons. The monk died peacefully in about the year 850.
The Martyresses Zinaida and Philonilla were kinswomen of the holy Apostle Paul, and were natives of Tarsus. The saints left their home and settled in a cave near the city of Demitriada and they lived in constant prayer and work. They mastered the art of healing and they gladly treated everyone who turned to them for help, healing their souls by conversion to the True God. For their holy zeal in preaching about the Lord they received crowns of martyrdom: idol-worshippers stoned them.
The Holy Martyrs Probos, Tarachos and Andronikes suffered for Christ in the year 304 in the city of Cilician Tarsus. To the proposal of the pagans to offer sacrifice to the idols, the old soldier Tarachos replied, that he offers sacrifice to the One, True God in a pure heart. Seeing the firmness of the saints in confessing the true faith, the proconsul gave them over to torture. "When my body doth suffer, -- said Saint Probos to the idol-worshippers, -- then my soul is healed and invigorated". The tormentors refined their tortures, such as their rage could invent, and then they tore the bodies of the saints apart. Christians secretly took up the remains of the saints and buried them.
The Monk Kosma, Bishop of Maium, Author of Kanons, was a native of Jerusalem. He was raised by the parents of the Monk John of Damascus (Comm. 4 December) together with their son, and he received a fine education. When Saint Kosma came of age, he set out to one of the monasteries of Palestine, where he attained reknown for monastic exploits. During a time of persecution against holy icons the Monk Kosma, together with the Monk John, came forth for the defence of Orthodoxy. In the year 743 Kosma was made bishop of Maium. He died in old age (+ c. 787), leaving behind many canons for feastdays and a triode for four days of Holy Week.
The Monk Amphylokhii, Hegumen of Glushetsk, already a monk of priestly dignity, came from Ustiug to the monk Dionysii of Glushetsk (Comm. 1 July) in the year 1417. Saint Dionysii, learning of the wish of Amphylokhii to become an ascetic, told him about the severity and harshness of life in his monastery, but this did not deter the newcomer. Then Saint Dionysii said: "If thou wishest to dwell here, then we shalt make a testament -- not to be distinct one from another, while we dwell upon the earth". Amphylokhii joyfully agreed and vowed to fulfill the ustav (rule) of the monastery.
The Monk Amphylokhii spent twenty years in deeds of fasting, prayer and obedience under the guidance of the Monk Dionysii, striving in all things to imitate him and assisting in the work of building up the monastery. After the death of Saint Dionysii, the Monk Amphylokhii was for 15 years the head of the Glushetsk monastery. The monk died peacefully in the year 1452 and was buried alongside his preceptor.
The Monk Tarasii of Glushetsk was hegumen of a monastery, built by Sainted Stephen of Perm (Comm. 26 April), and he zealously spread and affirmed the Orthodox faith among the Zyryani people.
In 1427 under the successor of Saint Stephen, Bishop Gerasim (Comm. 29 January), the Monk Tarasii voluntarily gave up leading the monastery and went to the Glushetsk monastery under the guidance of the Monk Dionysii.
Saint Dionysii, seeing the deep humility of Tarasii, accepted him. The former hegumen Tarasii toiled equally alongside the novices at the monastery and he led a strict ascetic life. The monk was buried at the Dionysiev monastery (+ 1440).
The Monk Makarii, Glushetsk Hegumen (in the world Matfei), was born in Rostov. As a twelve year old boy he was given over to the Monk Dionysii for raising. Growing up under the guidance of the great starets (elder), the saint was distinguished by a rare purity of soul. The Monk Makarii, already in the dignity of priestmonk, was chosen by the brethren as head of the monastery after the death of the Monk Amphylokhii. Saint Makarii expired to the Lord on 13 May (not earlier than 1462).
The Holy Martyress Domnica suffered for confessing Christianity in the year 286. Domnica lived in the region of Cilicia. By order of the governor Licius they beat her for a long time, and burnt her with fire. All tormented, Saint Domnica was thrown into prison, where she died.
Sainted Martin the Merciful, Bishop of Tours, lived in France. He is called the merciful for his generosity and care for the poor. Before accepting monasticism, Martin was a military commander under the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) and was distinguished for his bravery. When barbarians invaded the empire, by order of the emperor Saint Martin went out from the city with his troops to do battle with them. Having encountered a beggar by the wayside, he gave to him his own cloak. By night the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to the saint and promised victory over the enemy, which soon occurred. The emperor solemnly met the victor and suggested to him to offer sacrifice in thanksgiving for the gaining of victory. But Saint Martin said, that he wanted to offer sacrifice to Christ, with Whose help he vanquished the enemy, by the act of becoming a monk. The emperor banished the saint. After seven years of ascetic life, Saint Martin was elevated to be bishop of Tours. Saint Martin possessed gifts of perspicacity and wonderworking. He died at the end of the IV Century.
The Holy Martyrs Karpos, Bishop of Phiatirea, Deacon Papila, Agathodoros and Agathonika the sister of Papila, suffered during a time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Decius in the III Century. The governor of the district where the saints lived became aware, that Karpos and Papila did not celebrate the pagan feasts. He gave orders to arrest the transgressors and first to try to persuade them in the veracity of the Roman pagan-religion. The saints answered, that it would be improper to worship false gods. The judge then ordered them to be bound and led through the city in iron chains, and then to be tied to horses and dragged to the nearby city of Sardis. Agathodoros and Agathonika voluntarily followed after Karpos and Papila. In Sardis they choked Agathonika to death with ox sinews, and beheaded Karpos, Papila and Agathodoros. Saint Papila during life was known for his gift of treating the sick; -- after his martyr's death he invariably gives healing to all who have recourse to him with faith.
The Monk Veniamin (Benjamin) of Pechersk lived during the XIV Century and before accepting monasticism was "an important merchant". Once at the time of Divine services Saint Veniamin felt deeply in his heart the words of the Saviour: how difficult it is for the rich to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt. 19: 23). Having given off his wealth to the needy, Saint Veniamin became a monk, "pleasing the Lord by fasting and prayers even unto death". He was buried in the Theodosiev Cave. His memory is also on 28 August and the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Holy Martyr Florentius was a native of the city of Soluneia (Thessalonika). Zealous for the glory of God, he fearlessly unmasked the darkness of idol-worship and led many to the light of true knowledge of God; he taught faith in Christ and fulfilled the will of God. For this the pagans subjected him to cruel tortures, and then burnt him (+ II).
The Holy Martyr Benjamin the Deacon converted many pagan Persians to Christianity, and for his zeal and evangelic preaching he suffered in Persia during the V Century.
The Monk Nikita the Confessor was situated at the imperial court, during the reigns of the empress Irene and her son Constantine.
Renouncing all positions and honours, Nikita decided to take monastic vows. At the request of the emperor, he did not set off into the wilderness, but rather remained in a monastery in the capital. When the Iconoclast Theophilus occupied the imperial throne, the monk Nikita was banished from the monastery by the heretics for opposing the heresy. The monk wandered for a long time throughout the country.
He died at age 75 in about the year 838. During his life and after his death the monk worked many miracles.
The Holy GreatMartyress Zlata (Chrysa or Golda) of Moglensk was born and lived in the Bulgarian village of Slatino, Moglensk diocese (+ 1795). Bulgaria at this time was under the Turkish Yoke.
From her youth Zlata displayed an unusually strong character, a firm faith in Christ, and was both chaste and beautiful. The local Turks attempted repeatedly to seduce the maiden and force her to accept Islam. But neither by persuasion, nor by threats, nor by monstrous torturing continued in prison for many months, did they break the spirit of the glorious confessor of Christ.
The Holy Martyrs Nazarius, Gervasius, Protasius and Celsius suffered during the reign of the emperor Nero (54-68). Saint Nazarius (son of the Christian Perpetua and the Jew Africanus) was born at Rome and was baptised by Bishop Linus. From his youthful years Nazarius decided to devote his life to preaching the teachings of Christ and to aid wandering Christians. With this intent he left Rome and arrived in Mediolanum (Milan). While visiting Christians at the Mediolanum prison, Nazarius made the acquaintance of the twins Protasius and Gervasius. The twin brothers had been born in the city of Mediolanum into a family of rich Roman citizens -- Vitalius and Valeria. But having been left orphans (their parents had been martyred for the Christian faith), the brothers distributed their substance to the poor, emancipated their slaves, and occupied themselves with fasting and prayer. The pagans locked them up in prison for their confession of faith in Christ. Saint Nazarius esteemed the twins, and as much as he was able he relieved their sufferings. But for this the pagans gave him a beating and banished him from Mediolanum. Saint Nazarius proceeded on to Gaul (modern France), and there he successfully preached Christianity and converted many pagans. In the city of Kimel he baptised the son of a certain Christian by name Celsius, and in teaching him, acquired a faithful student and co-worker in their missionary labours. For their confession of faith in Christ, the pagans gave them over for devouring by wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch the saints. Afterwards they tried to drown the martyrs in the sea, but they went through the water, as though on dry land. the soldiers, carrying out the orders, were so amazed, that they themselves accepted Christianity and released the holy martyrs.
Set free, Nazarius and Celsius went to Mediolanum and visited Gervasius and Protasius in prison. For this, they were delivered over to Nero, who ordered that Saints Nazarius and Celsius be beheaded. Soon after this they executed also the holy brothers Gervasius and Protasius.
Many years later, during the reign of the holy Emperor Theodosius (408-450), Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, through a revelation from above discovered the relics of the holy martyrs. The holy relics, glorified by many an healing, were solemnly transferred to the Mediolanum cathedral.
The Nun Paraskeva the Serbian was born into a pious Bulgarian family, living during the XI Century in the village of Epivato, betwixt Silistra and Constantinople. One day, while listening to Divine-services, the words of the Lord pierced her heart like an arrow: "Whoso doth wish to come follow Me, let him deny himself" (Mt. 16: 24). From that time she began to give away her clothing to the needy, for which reason she endured much grief from her family. Upon the death of her parents, the saint was tonsured into monasticism and withdrew to the Jordan valley, where she famously asceticised into old age.
But two years before her death an Angel appeared to the Nun Paraskeva and bid her return to her native-land, which she did. The saint died peacefully. Her relics, resting at the cathedral temple at Yassa, are marked by incorruptibility and many an healing.
The Monk Nikola Svyatosha (Svyatoslav), Prince of Chernigov, Pechersk Wonderworker, in the Nearer Caves (+ 1143), was a great-grandson of Great-prince Yaroslav the Wise and son of prince David Svyatoslavich of Chernigov (+ 1123), and in certain sources the father of the monk is named a saint. Svyatosha was the Lutsk prince, and he had a wife and children (his daughter was afterwards married to the Novgorod prince Saint Vsevolod-Gavriil (+ 1138, Comm. 11 February). On 17 February 1106 the holy prince, leaving his family, received tonsure at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. Nikola Svyatosha here with great humility carried out his obediences: for three years he worked in the kitchen, for which he chopped wood and carried water, and the next three years he was gatekeeper at the monastery. Around his cell the saint kept a garden. From his means he built at the monastery the temple of the Holy Trinity and the infirmary church in the name of Saint Nicholas, his patron saint.
The Monk Nikola was the first of the Russian princes to accept monasticism. He patiently endured the reproaches of his brothers for his decision to lead a life of humble obedience. The saint's doctor, Petr, pointed out to the prince-ascetic, that such exploits of obedience had injured his health. But suddenly the doctor himself fell sick, and was healed only by the prayer of the Monk Nikola. Peter himself then took monastic tonsure.
Having progressed through various obediences, the Monk Nikola then took upon himself the vow of silence. When the saint received money, he used it on beautifying the church, and on the procuring of books (because he loved book reading), or he distributed it to the poor. Saint Nikola was a zealous peacemaker: in 1142 he reconciled the Chernigov prince with Great-prince Vsevolod.
Soon after the death of the saint, his brother by birth prince Izyaslav fell grievously ill. The hegumen of the monastery sent the sick man the hairshirt of the saint. Izyaslav put it on and was healed.
The Holy PriestMartyr Siluan, Presbyter of Gaza (IV), was a native of the city of Gaza, where he as presbyter. For his zeal in preaching the faith of Christ, he was banished to work at digging in the Palestinian city of Phena. In spite of many a tribulation, the saint did not renounce Christ. He later received a martyr's end: he was beheaded together with forty Christian soldiers.
The Monk Euthymios the New, of Soluneia (Thessalonika), in the world was named Nikita, and he was a native of the city of Ancyra in Galatia. His parents, Epiphanios and Anna, led virtuous Christian lives, and their son was from childhood meek, pious and obedient. At age seven he was left fatherless and he soon became the sole support of his mother in all matters. Having entered military service, Nikita married, on the insistence of his mother. After the birth of a daughter he secretly left home, in order to enter a monastery. And for 15 years the Monk Euthymios asceticised on Mount Olympus, where he learned monastic deeds from the elders.
The monk then resettled to Holy Mount Athos. Along the way, having learned that his mother and wife were in good health, he informed them that he had become a monk, and he sent them a cross, calling on them to follow his example. On Athos the monk accepted the great schema and lived for three years in a cave, in total silence, struggling with temptations. And for a long time Saint Euthymios asceticised upon a pillar, not far from Soluneia, instructing those coming to him for advice and healing the sick. The monk so very much cleansed his mind and heart, that he was vouchsafed Divine visions and revelations. At the command of the Lord, Saint Euthymios founded two monasteries in 863 on Mount Peristeros, not far from Soluneia, which he guided for 14 years, with the dignity of deacon. In one of these his wife and mother accepted monastic tonsure. Before death the monk settled on an islet of Athos, where he reposed in 889. His remains were transferred to Soluneia. The Monk Euthymios is termed the "New" in distinction from the Monk Euthymios the Great (Comm. 20 January).
The MonkMartyr Lucian, Presbyter of Antioch, was born in the Syrian city of Samosata. At 12 years of age he was left orphaned. Lucian distributed his possessions to the poor, and went to the city of Edessa to the confessor Makarios, under the guidance of whom he diligently read Holy Scripture and learned the ascetic life. For his pious and zealous spreading of Christianity amongst the Jews and pagans, Lucian was made presbyter. At Antioch Saint Lucian opened a school, where there gathered many students whom he instructed in book wisdom. Saint Lucian occupied himself with teaching work, and he corrected the text of Holy Scripture, having been corrupted by copyists and heretics. (The entire Greek text of the Bible corrected by him was hidden away in a wall during the time of his confessor's deed, and it was found during the time of Saint Constantine the Great). During the persecution of Diocletian, Saint Lucian was arrested, having been informed on by heretics, and he was dispatched to prison in Nicomedia, where over the course of 9 years he encouraged Christians together with him in the confessor's deed, urging them not to fear tortures and death.
Saint Lucian died in prison from many terrible tortures and hunger. Before death, wanting to partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ on the feast of Theophany, the priestmartyr -- bound by chains to a box, was compelled to offer the Bloodless Sacrifice upon his chest, and all the Christians situated there in prisoned communed. The body of the holy martyr was thrown into the sea, but after 30 days dolphins brought it to shore. Believers with reverence buried the body of the much-suffering Saint Lucian.
Sainted John, Bishop of Suzdal', entered one of the monasteries of Suzdal' in his youthful years. For his virtuous and humble life, the saint was made the first bishop of Suzdal' and Nizhegorod in 1350. Bishop John merited a great mercy of God: during the time of Divine Liturgy the Suzdal' prince Boris Konstantinovich saw, how an Angel of God attended the saint. Saint John was known for his love towards the destitute and the sick; for the poor he interceded before the princes about an amelioration of taxes, and for the sick he built poor-houses and hospices. The saint was much concerned about enlightening the pagan Mordvians with the Christian faith. After the annexation of Suzdal' to the Moscow metropolitanate, Saint John took the monastic schema and withdrew to the Bogoliubsk monastery. He lived there in seclusion and died peacefully. Numerous miracles were witnessed to at the grave of the saint.
The Holy Martyrs Sarbilos and Bebea were brother and sister by birth, suffering in the II Century under the emperor Trajan for confessing Christianity. The Martyr Sarbilos was an idolous priest at Edessa, but having been converted to Christ by a certain bishop, he accepted Baptism with his sister. Pagans tortured the saints for a long while, and then beheaded them.
Sainted Sabinus, Bishop of the city of Catania in Sicily, fervently wanting to serve the Lord, withdrew into the wilderness. Here he led a strict ascetic life and received from the Lord gifts of wonderworking and perspicacity.
The Holy Martyr Longinus the Centurion, a Roman soldier, saw service in Judea under the command of the procurator, Pontius Pilate. During the time of the execution of the Saviour it was the detachment of soldiers under the command of Longinus, which stood watch around Golgotha, at the very foot of the holy Cross. Longinus and his soldiers were eye-witnesses of the final moments of the earthly life of the Lord, and of the great and awesome portents that appeared at His death. These events jolted the soul of the soldier. Longinus believed then in Christ and before everyone confessed that, "in truth -- this was the Son of God" (Mt. 27: 54). (according to Church tradition, Longinus was that soldier, who with a spear pierced the side of the Crucified Saviour, and from the outflowing of blood and water received healing from an eye affliction).
After the Crucifixion and Burial of the Saviour, Longinus with his company stood watch at the Sepulchre of the Lord. Here the soldiers were given to behold the All-Radiant Resurrection of Christ. The Jews persuaded them with a bribe to bear false witness that His disciples had stolen away the Body of Christ, but Longinus and two of his comrades refused to be seduced by the Jewish gold. Having believed in the Saviour, the soldiers accepted Baptism from the apostles and decided to forsake military service. Longinus quit Judea and set out preaching about Christ Jesus the Son of God in his native land, in Cappadocia. His two comrades also followed after him. The fiery words of actual participants of the great occurrences in Judea swayed the hearts and minds of the Cappadocians; Christianity began quickly to spread about in the city and the surrounding villages. Having learned of this, the Jewish elders persuaded Pilate to dispatch a company of soldiers to Cappadocia, to kill Longinus and his comrades. The dispatched company of soldiers arrived in the native village of Longinus; the former centurion himself came out to meet the soldiers and took them to his home. After a meal, the soldiers told about the purpose of their arrival, not knowing -- that the master of the house -- was that very selfsame man, whom they were seeking. Then Longinus and his fellows identified themselves and asked the surprised soldiers, unperturbedly, to do their duty of military service. The soldiers wanted to set free the saints and advised them to flee, but the saints refused to do this, shewing firmness of will to accept suffering for Christ. The holy martyrs were beheaded, and their bodies were buried there where the saints made their final witness, and the cut-off heads were sent on to Pilate. Pilate gave orders to cast the martyrs on the trash-heap outside the city walls. After a certain while a certain blind woman arrived in Jerusalem to pray at the holy places. Saint Longinus appeared to her in a dream and said, that she should find his head and bury it. They led the blind woman to the rubbish heap. Having touched the head of the martyr, the woman was granted sight to her eyes. She reverently conveyed the venerable head to Cappadocia and there gave it burial.
The Monk Longin, Gate-Keeper of Pechersk, made his monastic obedience at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. His prayerful fervour and humble love for work were rewarded by the Lord. The Pechersk gatesman was vouchsafed the gift of perspicacity. People that were come to the Lavra with good intent he gave encouragement, but the wickedly inclined he denounced and urged to repentance. He was buried in the Farther Caves. His memory is also on 28 August and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
Holy Nobleborn Princess Evpraxia of Pskov, in the world Evphrosynia, was the daughter of the Polotsk prince Rogvolod Borisovich, and an aunt to holy Prince Dovmont-Timophei (Comm. 20 May). She was the wife of the Pskov princeYaroslav Vladimirovich. Prince Yaroslav fled from Pskov to Livonia and there married a German. Together with the Teutonic knights he several times made incursions upon the Russian lands, and in 1231 he seized Izborsk. After the departure of her husband, Evphrosynia turned to deeds of piety. In the year 1243 she built on the banks of the River Velika a monastery in the name of Saint John the Forerunner, and became its hegumeness. Invited to Livonia for a meeting with her former husband in the city of Odenpa (Bear's Head), she was murdered (8 May 1243) by a step-son, more accurately, the son of Yaroslav from the German. She was buried at the cathedral of the monastery founded by her. Ten days after the death of Saint Evpraxia, there occurred a miracle over her grave: from an icon of the Saviour issued myrh. The icon was called "Saviour myrh-bearing". The countenance of the righteous princess was preserved on two icons. On the one she is depicted at prayer with Saint John the Forerunner and the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called. The other icon with her likeness is situated alongside the wonderworking icon of the Saviour.
The Holy Prophet Hosea was descended from the tribe of Issachar. He lived during the IX Century before the Birth of Christ, and he lived in the Israelite kingdom. He was a contemporary of the holy Prophets Isaiah, Micah (Mikhei) and Amos. During this time many of his fellow Israelites, having forgotten the True God, worshipped idols. The holy Prophet Hosea by his wise guidances attempted to turn them again to the ancient piety. Denouncing the iniquities of the people of Israel [i.e. the northern kingdom Israel], the prophet proclaimed to them great misfortunes from a foreign people and their removal into captivity by Assyria. Almost a thousand years before the coming of the Saviour, and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the prophet foretold the cessation of the Old Testament sacrificial offering and of the priesthood of Aaron (Hos. 3: 4-5), and that through all the earth would spread knowledge of the True God (Hos. 2: 20-23). Hosea spoke also about Christ, that He would return from out of Egypt (Hos. 11: 1; compare Mt. 2: 15), that He would be resurrected on the third day (Hos. 6 and especially Hos. 6: 2; compare with 1 Cor. 15: 4), and that He would conquer death (Hos. 13-14, especially Hos. 13: 14; compare 1 Cor. 15: 54-55). The prophesies of Saint Hosea are included in the books of Holy Scripture, in the Book of Hosea. The prophetic service of Saint Hosea continued for more than 60 years. The God-inspired prophet died in extreme old age, having devoted all his life to fulfilling the Will of God.
The MonkMartyr Andrew of Crete lived during the reign of the iconoclast emperor Constantine Kopronymos (741-775), who under penalty of death ordered Christians to throw out the holy icons from their churches and homes. Believers, who fearlessly resisted the impious iconoclast, and cleaving firmly to the tradition of the holy fathers, -- were locked up into prison. When the Monk Andrew heard, that the emperor was throwing into prison not the thieves and robbers, but virtuous and pious Christians instead, he went to Constantinople and in front of everyone, in the church of the holy Martyr Mamant, he denounced the heretic for persecuting the true faith. In justifying himself the emperor said, that it is folly to bestow veneration on wood and paint. To this the monk answered, that whosoever suffers for holy icons suffers for Christ, but whosoever reviles the icon upon which Christ is imaged, offers insult to Christ Himself. The enraged iconoclast gave orders to torture Saint Andrew without mercy. Along the way to the place of execution the martyr expired to the Lord. An hundred years later a canon was written to the saint by the Monk Joseph the Melodist. Through the prayers to the saint are healed seizures.
The Monk Antonii (Anthony) of Leokhnovsk, Novgorod, was from the Tver lineage of the Veniaminov boyar-nobles. The monk lived as an hermit not far from Novgorod, in the Rublev wilderness, at the River Perekhoda. In about the year 1556 he resettled with the wilderness-dweller Tarasii, who lived beyond Lake Il'men at Leokhnovo, not far from Stara Rus', and from him received monastic tonsure. Thus began the wilderness monastery in honour of the Transfiguration of the Lord, afterwards called the Leokhnovsk or Ivetsk-Antoniev monastery. The Monk Antonii lived into old age, having acquired the gift of perspicacity.
In the year 1611, when the Swedes had laid waste the surroundings of Novgorod, the monk on the invitation of metropolitan Isidor resettled to Novgorod. He died on 14 September 1611 at age 85 and was buried nearby the church of the holy Evangelist Luke, on the side towards the Saint Sophia church. Before his death and in the presence of many the monk said, that his body would rest in his wilderness-monastery. A disciple of the monk, named Gregory, having returned to the place of the monastery laid waste and burnt by the Swedes, made a cell there with a chapel and remained there to live. The Monk Antonii thrice appeared to him in a dream and said: "Brother Grigorii, go to Novgorod, tell metropolitan Kiprian and the elders of the city, that they should put me in the place of my monastery". After the report of Gregory, the metropolitan made a church procession to the grave of the Monk Antonii. The uncovered incorrupt relics were transferred to the Leokhnovsk monastery on 13 July 1620. At the uncovering of the relics, a blind man named Iosif gained his sight, and many other miracles occurred.
There is an especial order of commemorations, celebrated by the churches in the name of the Monk Antonii of Leokhnovsk, both in the village of Leokhnovo (not far from Stara Rus") and in the Rublevsk wilderness-monastery. On the Second Friday after the feast of the First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul (29 June) is remembered the Uncovering and Transfer of the Relics of the Relics of the Monk Antonii from Novgorod to the Leokhnovsk monastery. On the Ascension of the Lord is remembered the coming of the Monk Antonii from the Rublev wilderness to Leokhnovo. On 17 October -- is the memory of the Repose of the Saint, who died on the feast of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross, on the 9th hour of the evening. At the Rublevsk wilderness monastery was celebrated likewise the memory of the Consecration of the church in the name of the Monk Antonii -- on 30 August (1873).
The Holy Martyrs and UnMercenaries Cosmas and Damian of Arabia walked through the cities and the villages, preaching Christ and healing the sick by the power of Christ. The saints would not take any sort of payment for the help they rendered. In Cilicia pagans seized hold of the holy physicians and led them before the governor named Lysias. For their refusal to renounce the Christian faith, the governor gave orders for the saints to be brutally beaten, and then to drown them in the sea. But an Angel of God conveyed them from the deeps to shore. The pagans then beheaded the saints. Together with the holy physicians were martyred also their brothers Leontios, Anthymos and Eutropios. (The UnMercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Arabia ought not to be confused with UnMercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Asia Minor -- Comm. 1 November, or the Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Rome -- Comm. 1 July).
The Holy Disciple and Evangelist Luke, was a native of Syrian Antioch, a Disciple from amongst the Seventy, a companion of the holy Apostle Paul (Phil. 1: 24, 2 Tim. 4: 10-11), and a physician enlightened in the Greek medical arts. Hearing about Christ, Luke arrived in Palestine and here he fervently accepted the preaching of salvation from the Lord Himself. Included amidst the number of the Seventy Disciples, Saint Luke was sent by the Lord with the others for the first preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven while yet during the earthly life of the Saviour (Lk. 10: 1-3). After the Resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saints Luke and Cleopas on the road to Emmaus.
The Disciple Luke took part in the second missionary journey of the Apostle Paul, and from that time they were inseparable. At a point when all his co-workers had left the Apostle Paul, the Disciple Luke stayed on with him to tackle all the toiling of pious deeds (2 Tim. 4: 10-11). After the martyr's death of the First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul, Saint Luke left Rome to preach in Achaeia, Libya, Egypt and the Thebaid. In the city of Thebes he finished his life in martyrdom.
Tradition ascribes to him the writing of the first icons of the Mother of God. "Let the grace of He born of Me and My mercy be with these icons", -- said the All-Pure Virgin in beholding the icons. Saint Luke wrote likewise icons of the First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul. His Gospel was written by Saint Luke in the years 62-63 at Rome, under the guidance of the Apostle Paul. Saint Luke in the preliminary verses (1: 3) spells out exactly the aim of his work: he recorded in greater detail the chronological course of events in the framework of everything known by Christians about Jesus Christ and His teachings, and by doing so he provided a firmer historical basis of Christian hope (1: 4). He carefully investigated the facts, and made generous use of the oral tradition of the Church and of what the All-Pure Virgin Mary Herself had told him (2: 19, 51).
In the theological content of the Gospel of Luke there stands out first of all the teaching about the universal salvation effected by the Lord Jesus Christ, and about the universal significance of the preaching of the Gospel [Lat. "evangelum" with Grk. root "eu-angelos" both mean "good-news"].
The holy disciple likewise wrote in the years 62-63 at Rome, the Book of the Acts of the Holy Apostles. The Acts, which is a continuation of the Four Gospels, speaks about the works and effects of the holy Apostles after the Ascension of the Saviour. At the centre of the narrative -- is the Council of the holy Apostles at Jerusalem (year 51 A.D.), a Church event of great critical significance, with a dogmatic basis for the distancing of Christianity from Judaism and its independent dispersion into the world (Acts 15: 6-29). The theological objective of the Book of Acts is that of the Dispensation-Economy of the Holy Spirit, actualised in the Church founded by the Lord Jesus Christ, from the time of the Ascension and Pentecost to the Second Coming of Christ.
The Monk Joseph of Volotsk, in the world John (Ioann) Sanin, was born on 14 November 1440 (1439 per another source) in the village of Yazvisch-Pokrov, not far from the city of Volokolamsk. He was born into a pious family with his father named Ioann (in monasticism Ioannikii) and Mother Marina (in schema Maria). The seven year old lad John was given over for education to the pious and enlightened starets (elder) of the Volokolamsk Kresto-Vozdvizhensk (Exaltation of the Cross) monastery, Arsenii. Distinguished by rare qualities and extraordinary aptitude for church service, for one year the talented lad studied the Psalter, and the following year -- the entire Holy Scripture. He became a reader and singer in the monastery church. Contemporaries were astonished at his exceptional memory. Often, without having in his cell a single book, he would do the monastic rule, reciting from memory from the Psalter, the Gospel, the Epistles, and all that was properly required.
Even before becoming a monk, John lived a monastic lifestyle. Thanks to his reading and studying of Holy Scripture and the works of the holy fathers, he dwelt constantly in thought about God. As his biographer notes, he "from his boyhood years much disdained obscene and blasphemous talk and endless mirth".
At twenty years of age John chose the path of monastic striving and, leaving from his parental home, he went off into the wilderness nigh to the Tver Savvin monastery, to the reknown starets and strict ascetic, Varsonophii. But the monastic rule seemed to the young ascetic insufficiently strict. With the blessing of Starets Varsonophii, he set off to Borovsk to the Monk Paphnutii of Borovsk, who had been a novice of the starets Nikita of the Vysotsk monastery, who in turn was a disciple of the Monks Sergei of Radonezh and Athanasii (Afanasii) of Vysotsk. The simple life of the holy starets, the tasks which he shared with the brethren, and the strict fulfilling of the monastic rule suited the state of soul of John. The Monk Paphnutii lovingly accepted the young ascetic who had come to him, and on 13 February 1460 he tonsured him into monasticism with the name Joseph (Iosif), thus realising John's greatest wish. With love and with zeal the young monk shouldered the heavy obediences imposed upon him -- in the kitchen, the bakery, the infirmary -- this latter obedience the Monk Joseph fulfilled with especial care, "giving food and drink to the sick, taking up and arranging the bedding, so very anxious and concerned with everything, working, as though attending to Christ Himself". The great spiritual abilities of the young monk were evidenced in the Church reading and singing. He was musically talented and possessed a voice such that "in the church singing and reading it was like that of a swallow and wondrously harmonious, delighting the hearing of listeners, as much as anyone anywhere". The Monk Paphnutii made Joseph "ecclesiarch" (church doorsman) in church, so that he would observe the fulfilling of the Church ustav (rule).
Joseph spent about seventeen years in the monastery of the Monk Paphnutii. The strict efforts of monastic obedience under the direct guidance of the experienced hegumen was for him an excellent spiritual schooling, having educated him into a future tested instructor and guide of monastic life. Towards the end of the life of the Monk Paphnutii (+ 1 May 1477) Joseph was ordained priestmonk and, in accord with the final wishes of the Monk Paphnutii, he was appointed hegumen of the Borovsk monastery.
The Monk Joseph decided to transform the monastic life along strictly coenobitic (life-in-common) principles, following the example of the Kievo-Pechersk, Trinity-Sergiev and Kirillo-Belozersk monasteries. But this met with strong opposition on the side of a majority of the brethren. Only seven pious monks were of the same mind with the hegumen. The Monk Joseph decided to visit at Russian coenobitic monasteries, so as to investigate the best arrangement for monastic life. He arrived together with the starets Gerasim at the Kirillo-Belozersk monastery, which itself presented a model of strict asceticism on the principles of a coenobitic ustav (monastery rule). His acquaintance with the life of these monasteries strengthened the views of the Monk Joseph. But, having returned to Borovsk monastery at the wish of the prince, the Monk Joseph encountered anew the former staunch resistance of the brethren to change from their customary ustav-rule as hermits. Therewith, having resolved to found a new monastery with a strict coenobitic rule, he set off with the seven like-minded monks to Volokolamsk, his native region, to a forest known to him since childhood.
In Volokolamsk at the time the prince was the pious brother of GreatPrince Ivan III, Boris Vasil'evich. Having heard about the virtuous life of the great ascetic Joseph, he gladly received him and allowed him to settle on the outskirts of his principality, at the confluence of the Rivers Struga and Sestra. The selection of this spot was accompanied by a remarkable occurrence: a storm whipping up blew down the trees before the eyes of the astonished travellers, as though clearing the place for the future monastery. And right here it was that the ascetics in June 1479 erected a cross and sited a wooden church in honour of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the Mother of God, consecrated on 15 August 1479. This day and year stand in history as the date of the founding of the monastery of the Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God as "volok' lamsk" ("broken-up peninsula"), later named after its founder. The monastery was built quite quickly. Much of the work in the construction of the monastery was taken on by the founder himself. "He was skilled in every human craft: he felled trees, carried logs, he chopped and he sawed". By day he toiled with everyone at the monastery construction, nights he spent in solitary cell prayer, remembering always, that "the carnal desires of the lazy can kill" (Prov. 21: 25). Good reports about the new ascetic attracted students to him. The number of monks soon increased to an hundred men, and Abba Joseph strove in everything to be a good example for his monks. Preaching temperance and spiritual sobriety in everything, he was in no way externally distinct from the others -- his simple, cold-weather tatters were his constant clothing, and bast-shoes served as his footwear. He was the first of anyone to appear in church, he read and sang in the choir alongside the others, he spoke an instruction and was the last to leave church. At nights the holy hegumen walked round the monastery and the cells, safeguarding the peace and prayerful sobriety of the brethren entrusted him by God; if he changed to hear a frivolous conversation, he rapped on the door and unassumingly withdrew.
The Monk Joseph devoted great attention to the inner ordering of the life of the monks. He himself led a strict common-form life in accord with the "ustav" ("rule") compiled by him, to which all the services and obediences of the monks were subordinated, and it governed their whole life: "whether in their comings or goings, their words or their deeds". At the core of the Ustav was total non-covetousness, detachment from one's own will together with constant work. The brethren possessed everything in common: clothing, footwear, food and other things. Without the blessing of the hegumen, none of the brethren could take anything into their cell, not even a book or an icon. Part of the refectory meal of the monks through general consent was given away to the poor. Work, prayer, spiritual efforts filled the life of the brethren. The Jesus Prayer never vanished from their lips. Festivity was viewed by Abba Joseph as a chief weapon for demonic seduction. The Monk Joseph invariably imposed upon himself quite burdensome obediences. The monastery was much occupied with copyist transcription of Divine-service books and those of the holy fathers, such that the Volokolamsk book collection soon became one of the finest of Russian monastic libraries.
With each passing year the monastery of the Monk Joseph flourished all the more. In the years 1484-1485 a stone church of the Uspenie of the Mother of God was erected in place of the wooden one. In the Summer of 1485 "artistic masters of the Russian land" painted within it, -- Dionysii the Iconographer with his sons Vladimir and Theodosii. In the icon fresco-painting of the church participated also the Monk Joseph's nephews and disciples -- Dosithei and Vassian Toporkov. In 1504 was set up an heated refectory church in honour of the Holy Theophany, then a bell-tower was erected and by it -- a temple in the name of the Hodegetria MostHoly Mother of God.
The Monk Joseph trained a whole school of reknown monks. Certain of them gained reknown in the arena of church-historical activity -- they were "good pastors", while yet others gained fame with works of enlightenment, some left after them a devout memory and were a worthy example to be imitated with their pious monastic efforts. History has preserved for us the names of many disciples and co-ascetics of the holy Volokolamsk hegumen, who afterwards continued to develope his ideas.
Among the disciples and followers of the Monk Joseph were: the Metropolitans of Moscow and All Rus' -- Daniel (+ 1539) and Makarii (+ 1563), the Archbishop of Rostov Vassian (+ 1515), the Bishops of Suzdal' -- Simeon (+ 1515), Dosithei of Krutitsk (+ 1544), Savva of Krutitsk termed the Swarthy, Akakii of Tver, Vassian of Kolometsk, and many others. Monastics of the Iosifo-Volokolamsk monastery preeminently occupied the most important archbishop cathedra-chairs of the Russian Church: Sainted-Hierarchs of Kazan -- Gurii (+ 1563, Comm. 5 December) and German (+ 1567, Comm. 6 November), and Sainted Varsonophii, Bishop of Tver (+ 1576, Comm. 11 April).
The activity and influence of the Monk Joseph were not limited to the monastery. Many a layperson went to him to receive advice. With a pure spiritual insight he penetrated into the deep secrets of the souls of questioners and perspicaciously revealed to them the will of God. Everyone living around the monastery considered him their spiritual father and protector. Eminent boyar-nobles and princes took him as god-father for their children, they revealed to him their souls in confession, they besought written letters of guidance for fulfilling his directives.
The common folk found at the monastery of the monk the means for sustaining their existence on occasions of extreme need. The number of those fed through monastery resources sometimes approached 700 people. "All the Volotsk land towards good doth wend, enjoying indeed peace and quiet. And the name Joseph, as something sacred, is carried about on the lips of all".
The monastery was famed not only for its piety and help for the suffering, but also for its manifestations of the grace of God. The righteous monk Vissarion once beheld at the Matins-service of great Saturday [i.e. Friday evening] the Holy Spirit in the form of a white dove, sitting upon the Plaschanitsa, which was being carried by the Monk Abba Joseph. The hegumen, bidding the monk to keep silent about the vision, himself rejoiced in spirit, hoping that God would not forsake the monastery. This monk had seen the souls of dying brethren, white like snow, issuing forth from their mouths. To him himself was revealed the day of his end, and he reposed with joy, having communed the Holy Mysteries and assuming the schema.
The saintly life of Abba Joseph was neither easy nor placid. In these difficult times for the Russian Church, the Lord raised him up as a zealous protagonist for Orthodoxy in the struggle with heresies and churchly disputes. The Monk Joseph exerted quite a great effort in denunciation of the Judaisers, who tried to poison and distort the foundations of Russian spiritual life. Just as the holy fathers and teachers of the OEcumenical Church had elaborated on the dogmas of Orthodoxy in responding against the ancient heresies (which contended against the Spirit, Christ, or icons), so also Saint Joseph was summoned forth by God to oppose the false teachings of the Judaisers and therein compile the first codex of Russian Orthodox theology -- his large book "The Enlightener" ("Prosvetitel'"). Already even far earlier preachers from among the Khozars had come to the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir (Comm. 15 July), trying to convert him to Judaism. But the great Baptiser of Rus' repudiated the pretensions of the rabbis. After this, the Monk Joseph writes, "the Great Russian land dwelt for five centuries in the Orthodox faith, until the enemy of salvation the devil, shouldst bring the cunning Jew to Great Novgorod". With the retinue of the Lithuanian prince Mikail Olel'kovich came to Novgorod in 1470 the Jewish preacher Skhariya (Zakhariya). Playing upon the inadequacies of faith and of learning on the part of certain of the clergy, Skhariya and his accomplices sowed distrust among the petty-minded towards the church hierarchy, they inclined them towards a revolt against the spiritual authorities, they tempted them with the idea of "self-authority", i.e. a personal capricious self-determination of each in matters of faith and salvation. Those they tempted gradually pushed towards a full break with Mother Church, they disdained holy icons, and repudiated veneration of the Saints, -- basic elements of Orthodox popular morality. Ultimately, they led the religiously blind and deluded to a denial of the saving Sacramental-Mysteries and the fundamental dogmas of Orthodoxy, outside of which there is no knowing of God -- the dogma of the MostHoly Trinity and the dogma of the Incarnation of the God-man our Lord Jesus Christ. If decisive measures were not taken -- "it would be the doom for all Orthodox Christianity from heretical teachings". Thus was posited the question by history. GreatPrince Ivan III, enticed by the Judaisers, invited them to Moscow; he had two of the most prominent of the heretics made archpriests -- one at the Uspensky, the other at the Arkhangelsky cathedrals of the Kremlin, and he summoned to Moscow even the arch-heretic Skhariya himself. All those close to the prince, beginning with the clerk heading the government, Theodore (Feodor) Kuritsyn -- whose brother became a ringleader of the heretics, were led astray by the heresy. Even the in-law of the great prince, Elena Voloshanka, accepted the Judaisers. And finally, upon the cathedra-chair of the great Moscow Sainted-hierarchs Peter, Alexei and Jona, was installed the heretical metropolitan Zosima.
The Monk Joseph and Sainted Gennadii, Bishop of Novgorod (+ 1505, Comm. 4 December), called for a struggle against the spread of the heresy. The Monk Joseph wrote his first missive "Concerning the Mystery of the MostHoly Trinity" while still a monk at the Paphnut'ev Borovsk monastery -- in the year 1477. The Uspensk Volokolamsk monastery became from the very beginning a bulwark of Orthodoxy in the struggle with the heresy. Here it was that Saint Joseph wrote his chief works, here emerged "The Enlightener", here were engendered his fiery anti-heretical missives, or as the monk himself unassumingly called them, "Book-exercises". The works of the Monk Joseph and holy Archbishop Gennadii were crowned with success. In 1494 the heretic Zosima was deposed from the hierarch's cathedra, and in the years 1502-1504 at a conciliar gathering were condemned the malicious and unrepentant Judaisers, who blasphemed against the Holy Trinity, Christ the Saviour, the MostHoly Mother of God and the Church.
Saint Joseph had many another trial and tribulation sent him -- but the Lord each time tried him in the measure of his spiritual strength. The saint angered the GreatPrince Ivan III, who only towards the end of his life reconciled with the saint and repented of his former weakness for the Judaisers. The saint angered also the Volotsk appenage prince Theodore, on whose lands Joseph's monastery was situated. In 1508 the monk suffered wrongful interdiction from Sainted Serapion, Archbishop of Novgorod (Comm. 16 March), with whom however he apparently soon reconciled. In 1503 a Sobor (Council) at Moscow under the auspices of the Monk Joseph and his disciples adopted a "Conciliar Answer" concerning the indissolubility of church properties: "wherefore all church-acquired property -- is essentially the acquired property of God, pledged, entrusted and given to God". The legacy of canonic works of the Volotsk hegumen is notably in "The Nomocanon Codex" -- a vast codex of canonical rules of the Orthodox Church, initiated by the Monk Joseph and completed by Metropolitan Makarii.
Views exist about the differences of outlook and discord between the two great pedagogues of Russian monasticism at the end-XV beginning XVI Centuries -- the Monk Joseph of Volotsk and the Monk Nil of Sorgsk (+ 1508, Comm. 7 May). In the historical literature these views usually present them as proclaiming two "contrary in position" currents within Russian spiritual life -- external action and inner contemplation. This is profoundly incorrect. The Monk Joseph in his "Ustav" gave synthesis to these two aspects in the Russian monastic tradition, proceeding without interruption from the Athonite blessing given to the Monk Antonii of Pechersk, through the Monk Sergei and down to our own day. The "Ustav" presupposes the need for a full inward regeneration of man, submitting one's whole life to the task of salvation and "deification" ("obozhenie", Grk. "theosis") not only for each individual monastic, but also the collective salvation of the whole human race. A great emphasis in the "Ustav" is put on the demand to monastics for constant work in conjuction with inward and churchly prayer: "the monk should never be on holiday". Work, as "a collective deed", comprised for Joseph the very essence of church life -- faith, embodied in good works, is the realisation of prayer. On the other side, the Monk Nil Sorsky had himself asceticised for a number of years on Athos, and he brought from there the teaching about the contemplative life and "Mental Prayer" [i.e. the Jesus Prayer] as a means of an hesychiast service of monks to the world, as a constant spiritual activity, in conjuction with the physical work necessary for sustaining one's life. But spiritual work and physical work -- are two sides of the one selfsame Christian vocation: a vital continuation of the creative activity of God in the world, encompassing as much the ideal as well as material spheres. In this regard the Monks Joseph and Nil -- are spiritual brothers, varied in continuing the Church tradition of the holy fathers, and heirs to the precepts of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh. The Monk Joseph highly esteemed the spiritual experience of the Monk Nil and dispatched his own disciples to him for study of the experience of inner prayer.
The Monk Joseph was an active social activist and proponent of a strong centralised Moscow realm. He was one of the instigators of the teaching about the Russian Church as the recipient and bearer of the ancient OEcumenical piety: "the Russian land now in piety hath surpassed all". The ideas of the Monk Joseph, possessing tremendous historical significance, were later on further developed by his students and followers. And from them came forth, with his own teaching about Moscow as Third Rome, the Pskov Spaso-Eleazarov monastery elder Philothei, declaring: "For two Romes art fallen, and the third doth stand, and a fourth there shalt not be".
These views of the Josephites on the significance of monastery possession of land-properties for church building, and the participation of the Church in social life, were set amidst the conditions of the struggle for centralised power by the Moscow prince. His opponents were separatists who tried to disparage these views for their own political ends, using surreptitiously the teaching of the Monk Nil Sorsky about "non-acquisitiveness" -- the cutting off of the monastic from worldly matters and possessions. This supposed opposition engendered a false view on the hostility between the trends of the Monks Joseph and Nil. In actuality both trends legitimately co-existed within the Russian monastic tradition, complementing each other. As is evidenced from the "Ustav" of Saint Joseph, complete non-acquisitiveness, renunciation of the very concepts "thine-mine" was posited in its basis.
The years passed. The monastery flourished with the construction work and efforts of the Monk Joseph, and as he got old he prepared himself for passing on into life eternal. Before his end he communed the Holy Mysteries, then convened all the brethren, he gave them his peace and blessing, and reposed blessedly on 9 October 1515.
The funeral oration to the Monk Joseph was compiled by his nephew and student, the monk Dosithei Toporkov.
The first "Vita" ("Life") of the saint was written in the decade of the 40's of the XVI Century by a disciple of the Monk Joseph -- the Krutitsk bishop Savva the Black, with the blessing of Makarii, Metropolitan of Moscow and all Rus' (+ 1564). It entered into the "Great Menaion-Readings" ("Velikie Minei-Chet'i") compiled by Makarii. A second redaction of the "Vita" is from the pen of the Russified Bulgarian writer Lev the Philolog with the assist of the monk Zinovii of Otensk (+ 1568).
Local celebration of the Monk Joseph was established at the Iosifo-Volokolamsk monastery in December of 1578, on the hundred year anniversary of the founding of the monastery. On 1 June 1591 was established the general church celebration of his memory, under Patriarch Job. Sainted Job, a student of the Volokolamsk tonsured Saint German of Kazan, was a great admirer of the Monk Joseph and was author of the service to him, which was entered into the Menaion. Another student of Saints German and Varsonophii was likewise the companion and successor to Patriarch Job -- the Patriarch PriestMartyr Ermogen (+ 1612, Comm. 17 February), a spiritual leader of the Russian people in the struggle for liberation under the Polish incursion.
The theological works of the Monk Joseph comprise an undeniable contribution within the treasury of the Orthodox tradition. As with all church writings, inspired by the grace of the Holy Spirit, they continue to be a source of spiritual life and knowledge, and they have their own theological significance and pertinence.
The chief book of the Monk Joseph was written in sections. Its original form, completed in the time period of the 1503-1504 councils, included 11 Sections. In the final redaction, compiled after the death of the saint and involving a tremendous quantity of scrolls, -- "The Book against the Heretics" or "The Enlightener" is in 16 Sections, prefaced by way of an introduction by "An Account of the Newly-Appeared Heresies". The first section expounds the Church teaching about the dogma of the MostHoly Trinity; the second -- about Jesus Christ, the True Messiah; the third -- about the significance within the Church of the prophesies of the Old Testament; the fourth -- about the Incarnation of God; the fifth through seventh -- about icon veneration. In the eighth through tenth sections, the Monk Joseph expounds on the fundamentals of Christian eschatology. The eleventh section is devoted to monasticism. In the twelfth is demonstrated the ineffectualness of the anathemas and sanctions, imposed by heretics. The final four sections consider methods of the struggle of the Church with the heretics, and the means for their rectification and repentance.
The Holy Martyr Marin was from Cilicia (Asia Minor). For his confession of faith in Christ the elder was subjected to fierce beatings, and then killed on the orders of Lysias, governor of Tarsus, during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305).
The Monk Julian asceticised in fasting and prayer in Mesopotamia (near the River Euphrates).
Once during the time of prayer the monk heard a voice, announcing that the emperor Julian the Apostate would soon perish. Soon the prophesy was fulfilled. Through the efforts of the monk on Mount Sinai was erected a church in memory of the Obtaining by the holy Prophet Moses of the Tablets of the Law.
The Monk David of Serpukhov, a student of the Monk Paphnutii of Borovsk (Comm. 1 May), lived as an hermit at the River Lopasna, 23 versts from Serpukhov. In 1515 on the right bank of the river he built a church in memory of the Ascension, and set in place the foundations of the Davidov wilderness monastery.
The Holy Prophet Joel lived 800 years before the Birth of Christ. He made prediction about the desolation of Jerusalem. He likewise prophesied, that upon all flesh would be poured out the Holy Spirit through the Saviour of the world (Joel 2: 28-32).
The Holy Martyr Uaros and Seven Teachers of Christians, lived in Egypt during the period of several persecutions against Christians (late III to early IV Century). Uaros was a military commander and secretly a Christian. He gave assistance to many of the persecuted and imprisoned Christians, visiting the prison by night he brought food to the prisoners, he dressed up wounds, and gave encouragement.
One time he conversed the whole night through with seven Christian teachers condemned to death, who before had been beaten and held in starvation. In the morning, when they led the condemned to execution, Uaros marched together with them. The judge, seeing the particularly strong faith of Uaros, gave orders to subject him to fierce beatings, during the time of which the holy martyr died. The Christian teachers were then beheaded. This occurred in the year 307.
Blessed Cleopatra came from the village of Edra near Mount Tabor in Palestine. She was a contemporary of the holy Martyr Uaros and beheld his voluntary suffering. After the execution, blessed Cleopatra transferred the body of the holy martyr to her own country and buried him with reverence. Cleopatra had but a single and beloved son, John, who had attained the honourable rank of officer. To the great sorrow of his mother, John suddenly died. Cleopatra with tears of grief turned to the relics of the holy Martyr Uaros, beseeching him for the resuscitation of her son.
When Uaros and her son appeared to Cleopatra in a dream, radiant in bright attire with crowns upon their heads, -- she perceived, that the Lord had received her son into the heavenly host, and was comforted. After this blessed Cleopatra started to live by a church, built by her over the relics of the holy Martyr Uaros and her son John, and she strove to acquire the grace of God by good deeds. She distributed her property to the poor and spent her time in prayer and fasting. After seven years of righteous life the blessed saint reposed (c. 327).
The PriestMartyr Sadok (+ first half IV Century) was bishop of a Persian district. When the Persian emperor Sapor learned that Sadok was preaching faith in Christ, he gave orders to arrest and imprison him together with 128 Christian believers. For several months they attempted to persuade the righteous to repudiate the holy faith, but not accomplishing this, they executed them.
The Holy GreatMartyr Artemios was a prominent military leader during the reign of the Equal-to-the-Apostles emperor Constantine the Great (306-337, Comm. 21 May), and later -- also of his son and successor Constantius (337-361). Artemios held many awards for distinguished service and courage, and he was appointed viceroy of Egypt. In this official position he did much for spreading and strengthening Christianity in Egypt. The emperor Constantius was succeeded on the throne by Julian the Apostate (361-363). Julian in his desire to restore paganism carried on an implacable struggle with Christianity, sending hundreds to their death.At Antioch he ordered the torture of two bishops unwilling to forsake the Christian faith. During this time Saint Artemios arrived in the city and publicly denounced Julian for his impiety. The enraged Julian subjected the saint to terrible tortures, after which they threw the Great-martyr Artemios into prison. During the time of prayer which the saint offered to the Lord, Christ Himself appeared to him surrounded by angels and said: "Take courage, Artemios! I am with thee and wilt preserve thee from every hurt which the tormentors may inflict upon thee, and already have I preared thy crown of glory. Wherefore as thou hast confessed Me before the people on earth, so also shalt I confess thee before Mine Heavenly Father. Therefore, take courage and rejoice, -- thou shalt be with Me in Mine Kingdom". Hearing this of the Lord Himself, Artemios rejoiced and began fervently to offer up glory and thanksgiving to Him.
On the following day Julian demanded that the Great-martyr Artemios honour the pagan gods. Meeting with steadfast refusal, the emperor resorted to torture. The saint endured all without a single moan. The saint then predicted to Julian that he would soon receive just recompense for the evil done by him to Christians. Julian became furious and resorted to even more fiercesome tortures, but they did not break the will of the saint, and finally the Great-martyr Artemios was beheaded (+ 362).
His remains were buried by Christians.
And after the death of the holy Great-martyr Artemios, his prophecy about the impending perishing of Julian the Apostate came true.
Julian left Antioch for a war with the Persians. Near the Persian city of Ctesiphon he came upon an elderly Persian, who agreed to betray his countrymen and guide Julian's army. But the old man deceived Julian and led his army into an impassable place in the Karmanite wilderness, where there was neither food nor water. Worn down by hunger and thirst, the Graeco-Roman army of Julian had to do battle against fresh Persian forces.
Divine retribution caught up here with Julian the Apostate. At the time of battle he was mortally wounded by an unseen hand and an unseen weapon. Julian groaned deeply, and dying, he said: "Thou hast conquered, Gallileian!" After the perishing of the apostate-emperor, the relics of the Great-martyr Artemios were transferred with honour from Antioch to Constantinople.
The Monk Gerasimos was born in the village of Trikala in the Peloponessus. Upon reaching maturity he withdrew to the island of Zakina for a monastic life. On the Holy Mountain he became a schema-monk and studied with the ascetics of Athos. Having received blessing from the elders, the monk set off to Jerusalem to worship at the Lifebearing Grave of the Saviour. Having made the rounds of the holy places, visiting Mount Sinai, Antioch, Damascus, Alexandria and Egypt, he returned to Jerusalem where he became a a candle-lighter at the Sepulchre of the Lord. The monk was ordained by the blessed Patriarch of Jerusalem, Germanos (1534-1579), to the diaconate, and then to the priesthood. The Monk Gerasimos did not slacken in deeds of prayer. For quietude he withdrew to Jordan, where he spent 40 days without respite. Having received the Patriarch's blessing for a life of silence, the monk Gerasimos withdrew Zakinthos. He dwelt there in solitude for 5 years, nourishing himself on vegetation. At an inspiration from above he went to the island of Cephalonia and on to Omal, and having restored a church he founded a women's monastery at which he dwelt for 30 years in constant toil, vigil, and prayer on bended knee stretched out upon the earth.For his exalted life he was vouchsafed of God a miraculous gift -- to heal the sick and cast out unclean spirits. The Monk Gerasimos, aware of his impending end for several days, gave his blessing to the nuns and peacefully expired to the Lord on 15 August 1579, at 71 years of age. When his grave was opened two years later, his holy relics were found undecayed and exuding fragrance, and were curative.
The Monk Ilarion the Great was born in the year 291 in the Palestinian village of Tabath. He was sent for study to Alexandria, where he became acquainted with Christianity and accepted holy Baptism. Hearing an account of the angelic life of the Monk Anthony the Great (Comm. 17 January), Ilarion set out to him, in order to study that which is pleasing to God. Ilarion soon returned to his native-land. His parents had already died. Having distributed his familial inheritance to the poor, Ilarion set out into the wilderness surrounding he city of Maium. The monk struggled intensely with impure thoughts, vexations of the mind and the burning of the flesh, defeating them with heavy toil, fasting and fervent prayer. The devil sought to terrorise the saint with phantoms and apparitions. During times of prayer Saint Ilarion heard children crying, women wailing, and the growling of lions and other wild beasts. The monk perceived that it was the demons causing these terrors, in order to drive him away from the wilderness, and therefore he overcame his fear with the help of fervent prayer.
One time robbers fell upon the Monk Ilarion, and he by the power of his words persuaded them to forsake the life of crime.
Soon all Palestine learned about the holy ascetic. The Lord vouchsafed to the Monk Ilarion the power to cast out unclean spirits. With this graced gift he loosed the bounds of many of the afflicted. The sick came for healing, and the monk cured them free of charge, saying, that the grace of God is not for sale. By means of smell the saint learned with which passion this or that man was afflicted. And they came to the Monk Ilarion wanting to save their soul under his guidance. With the blessing of the Monk Ilarion, monasteries began to spring up throughout all of Palestine. Going from one monastery to another, he set in them a strict ascetic manner of life. About seven years before his death (+ 371-372) the Monk Ilarion resettled to Cyprus, where he asceticised in a solitary place, until the Lord summoned him to Himself.
The Transfer of the Relics of Sainted Ilarion, Bishop of Meglina, to the Bulgarian city of Tirnovo, occurred in the year 1206. Prior to this event the body of the saint rested in the city of Meglina.
Saint Ilarion had received a fine Christian upbringing. In his 18th year of life he left the world and withdrew to a monastery, which he was soon chosen to head because of his virtuous and strict life. Concerning himself over the salvation of the souls entrusted to him, he unceasingly exhorted the monks not to waste the precious time intended for salvation. With a particular persistence Ilarion eradicated drunkenness. In the year 1134 he was ordained bishop of Meglina. At this time the Bogomil heresy was spreading through Bulgaria. The heretics followed a false teaching, in which good and evil manifest themselves of independent principles, and between which ensues a struggle. With an apostolic zeal and fervent prayer Saint Ilarion rose up in struggle against the heretical pseudo-teaching. He untiringly unmasked the heresy of the Bogomils, snatching from them their hypocritical guise of piety. In refuting the teaching of the heretics, Saint Ilarion said: "Ye be not Christians at all, since ye are hostile to the Cross of Christ the Saviour, ye acknowledge not the One God, ye slander the ancient Revelation (Old Testament), venerated by Christians. Ye do deceive simple people by hypocritical meekness, whilst full of pride. True piety is not possible in those, who see not in themselves corruption of heart, nor beseech the grace of God by prayer and humility. Evil thoughts, envy, vanity, greed, lie -- are not the deed of some evil thing within man and to be conquered by mere fasting. These vices -- are the fruit of self-love which therefore demands rooting-out by spiritual efforts".
After the saint's exhortations many of the heretics abandoned their pseudo-teaching and returned to the bosom of Holy Church. Saint Ilarion the same way also untiringly and successfully struggled against the rise in Bulgaria of the Armenian Monophysite heretics, who acknowledged in Christ only the Divine nature. The saint reposed in the year 1164.
Sainted Ilarion, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia, lived during the era of the Great-prince Yaroslav the Wise (+ 1054), son of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir. In the history of the Russian Church he enters in as the first of its Russian representatives, installed as Metropolitan by a Sobor-Council of Russian bishops.
The Russian Church up to that time had been a metropolitan see, under the Constantinople patriarchate. Russia's first metropolitans were Greeks, and their appointment was made at Tsar'grad. Saint Ilarion, priest of the prince's village of Berestovo, nigh to Kiev, was the spiritual father and a companion of prince Yaroslav. "God-loving prince Yaroslav loved Berestovo, and put there the church of the Holy Apostles and many priests he did honour and maintain, -- relates the Monk Nestor the Chronicler. -- Amongst them was the presbyter by name Ilarion, a man of virtue, and book-learned, and given to fasting. He made his way from Berestovo to the Dniepr, where is now the old Pechersk monastery, and here he made his prayer in the deep forest. Having dug out a shallow two-sashen (14 foot) cave, and having come from Berestovo, he intoned here the hours and did pray in solitude to God...".
Saint Ilarion, as attest his works, was not simply a "man of books", but was endowed with great spiritual gifts, and profound theological knowledge. He devoted all is efforts to the service of the Russian Church. When metropolitan Theopemptos died, Rus' was in a state of war against Byzantium. By decision of a Sobor-Council of Russian hierarchs of the Russian Church, resolution was made to establish a metropolitan at Kiev, not subject to Tsar'grad. Saint Ilarion was famed amongst the Russian clergy for his heightened spiritual life and gift for preaching. A short while before this, he had uttered in the Desyatin-Tithe church an eulogy to holy Prince Vladimir with his acclaimed "Discourse concerning Law and Grace", in which he provided a theological explanation of the place of the Russian Church in the history of the Divine Economy of Salvation.
The choice of the Sobor-Council hierarchs was dear to the heart of Yaroslav the Wise. The ascetic was installed as Metropolitan at Saint Sophia in the year 1051. Saint Ilarion was later affirmed by the Constantinople patriarch. But he was not the primate of the Russian Church for long. The chronicle does not mention the year of his death, but the saint was already not at the death of prince Yaroslav the Wise (+ 20 February 1054), and in the year 1055 a new metropolitan had arrived at Kiev. Evidently, Saint Ilarion had expired to the Lord in 1053.
His spiritual legacy lives on in the Russian Church. And foremost, a fine work of old-Russian churchly literature -- the "Discourse concerning Law and Grace". Its content is profound and many-sided. At the centre of the "Discourse" -- is the teaching concerning salvation and grace. Great attention is devoted to the question about the superiority of Christianity over Judaism. This theme was essential at these times for Kievan Rus': the Jews had approached Saint Vladimir, hoping to convert him to their faith, and the Monk Theodosii of Pechersk (+ 1074) went also to the "Jewish Quarter" in Kiev with the preaching of Christ Crucified. It is known likewise, that the Jews had attempted to convert to Judaism Sainted-hierarch Nikita the Hermit, when he was still a monk of the Pechersk monastery (1088). Saint Simon relates about this in the "Kievo-Pechersk Paterikon". Hence therefore the attention, which Saint Ilarion devotes to the question "about the law, given to Moses, and about grace and truth, through the coming of Jesus Christ". And finally, the third theme, the occasion of the uttering of the "Discourse" -- was to the glorification of the apostolic work of holy Prince Vladimir.
The kingdom of nature, the kingdom of grace and the future Kingdom of Glory are perceived in the spiritual experience of the Church as coalesced inseparably. The law -- is but the forerunner and servant of grace and truth. Truth and grace -- are but servants of the future age and true life. Saint Ilarion teaches thus about the superiority of the Church: "Moses and the prophets did foretell the Coming of Christ, whereas Christ and His Apostles -- did witness about the Resurrection and about the future age".
From the moment, when the Saviour was come into he world, the Old (preliminary) Covenant of man with God ceased to be in effect. With the theological symbols of the Old and New Covenant-Testaments the saint employs images borrowed from the holy Apostle Paul relating to the two wives of Abraham: the freeborn Sarah and the maid-servant Agar. "Agar was cast out, a slave, together with her son Ishmael, and Isaac, the free son, was heir to Abraham. Thus also were the Jews cast out and dispersed through the lands, whereas the sons of grace, the Christians, are become heirs to God the Father. As the light of the moon doth fade amidst the shining forth of the sun, so also the law -- doth fade amidst the shining forth of grace; the cold of night doth vanish from the warmth of the sun, heating the earth, -- and mankind be no longer bent over under the burden of the law, but instead in grace walketh freely".
The joy of Christ fills the holy preacher, when he speaks about the entry of his native Rus' into the host of Christian peoples. "The grace of Christ hath filled all the earth", and foremost, the youthfully alive peoples, to which also is regarded the Russian people. "It becometh grace and truth to shine forth in new peoples. They do not, in the words of the Lord, pour new wine -- this being the teaching of grace -- into old wine-skins, referring to the Jews, but the rather put the new teaching, into new wine-skins, into new peoples". Thus the graced faith "throughout all the earth hath spread and reached our Russian tongue. Here now we too with all Christians do glorify the Holy Trinity, and the Jews be silent; pagans be accepted, but Jews -- art spurned".
Russian Orthodox at present "be not termed idolators, but rather Christians, no longer do we build heathen temples, but rather the churches of Christ; no longer do we sacrifice others to the demons (vide Comm. Varangian Martyrs, 12 July), but Christ for us instead hath been slain in sacrifice to God and Father. The Blessed God hath had mercy on all lands -- and us too hath not despised, for He did desire likewise to save us and bring us to our senses in truth". The great apostolic exploit of the enlightening of the Russian Land was made by holy Prince Vladimir (Comm. 15 July), "like to holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine", who "did command throughout all his land that they be baptised in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and clearly and loudly in voice in all the cities to glorify the Holy Trinity and to all be Christians -- the small and great, slave and free, young and old, rich and poor". Saint Ilarion speaks with pride about his native land: "Saint Vladimir did not exercise sovereignty in a bad or ignorant land, but the rather in Russia, which is known and heard of by all the ends of the earth".
The "Discourse concerning Law and Grace" -- is the first work of its time in the Russian Church in which the holy Baptiser of Rus' is acclaimed blessed amongst the rank of the equal-to-the-Apostles. "Rejoice thou midst sovereigns, O apostle, not in having dead bodies resurrected, but our deadened souls resurrecting: for by thee hath we been made alive in God and given to know life in Christ". Suchlike is the content of this remarkable memorial of ancient Russian theology. Among the other works of Saint Ilarion is known his archbishopal "Confession", having become the model for a bishop's vow in the Russian Church. And to the "Discourse concerning Law and Grace" in the manuscripts is usually appended the "Prayer of Saint Ilarion". This work of the saint likewise possesses a long history within the tradition of his native church. In the year 1555, upon his sending off to he newly-formed Kazan diocese, Saint Gurii ordered that there be read to him the prayer, "The Work of Metropolitan Ilarion the Russia", at Moscow and in the other cities, through which he was to travel.
Saint Ilarion was buried in the Kiev caves. In the inscribed titles to his works, in the manuscripts of saintly literature and lists of sainted-hierarchs, Saint Ilarion is invariable termed a saint and predicated as a wonderworker. His assured literary veneration as a saint is evidenced in the services to the Kievo-Pechersk Monastics. Both in the service to the Sobor-Assembly of Fathers of the Nearer Caves (Comm. 28 September), and likewise in the service to all the Kievo-Pechersk Saints (2nd Sunday of Great Lent), Saint Ilarion is enumerated together with other saintly hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Monk Ilarion, Schema-monk of Pechersk, a strict ascetic, was a student and co-ascetic with the Monk Theodosii (+ 1074, Comm. 3 May). Copying the example of his teacher, the Monk Ilarion day and night prayed to God with tears, amidst the observing of a strict fast. His contemporaries knew him as a book-copyist, who day and night toiled over the copying of books in the cell of the Monk Theodosii. During this time his teacher intoned psalms and spun wool. The Monk Ilarion asceticised during the XI Century. His memory is made both on 28 August and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Monks Theophil and Iakov (James) of Omucha asceticised on the island of Konevetsa together with the Monk Arsenii (Comm. 12 June). In the year 1396 in Pskov diocese at the River Omucha, not far from the city of Porkhov, Saints Theophil and Iakov established a wilderness monastery in honour of the Uspenie-Dormition of the MostHoly Mother o God. Their demise occurred later in about the year 1412.
The Holy Martyrs Dasias, Caius and Zoticus accepted a martyr's end in the year 303, under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), for the destruction of an idolous temple. After tortures the martyred were drowned in the sea.
The Monk Philotheos of Athos was a native of Elateia. Fearing the Turks, his parents moved away to Chrysopolis in Macedonia, where soon his father died. The child Philotheos together with his brother, snatched by the Turks and thrown into prison, were delivered in a miraculous manner by the Mother of God Herself. She appeared to the children in the image of their mother and led them to the monastery of the MostHoly Mother of God in the city of Neapolis in Asia Minor. At this monastery the brothers accepted monastic tonsure and progressing through the obediences assigned by the hegumen they attained the position of ecclesiarchs (church key-holders). Meanwhile the mother of Philotheos, Eudocia, through mysterious guidance of Divine Providence, had herself settled into a women's monastery in this selfsame city, and for many years knew absolutely nothing about the fate of her children. During the time of a temple feastday, being together with several other nuns at the men's monastery, Eudocia recognised her sons. To her question as to how they chanced to be there, they answered: "Thou thyself best dost know, for did not thou, in freeing us from the Turks, lead us hither?" And thus Eudocia became convinced of the graced intercession of the Mother of God, in prayers to Whom she alone had found consolation. At this joyous encounter of the mother and children gathered round all the brethren, and having learned about the miraculous event, all glorified the Lord. Upon the repose of his mother, the Monk Philotheos set off to the Holy Mountain, where at first he entered in with the brethren of the Dionysiatikos monastery, and then withdrew into complete solitude. Devoting himself to deeds of prayer, the Monk Philotheos attained high spiritual perfection and was vouchsafed the gift of perspicacity. At the age of eighty-four the monk peacefully expired to the Lord, having bid his students not to bury his body, but rather to cast it dishonourably into the forest for devouring by beasts and birds. His students fulfilled the wish of their monastic elder, but the Lord glorified he relics of the saint with a wondrous radiance, after which his relics were returned to the monastery.
The Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Auerkios the Wonderworker, Bishop of Hieropolis, was glorified in the II Century in Phrygia. The city of Hieropolis back then basically was inhabited by pagans. The saint prayed the Lord for the salvation of their souls and their conversion to the True Light. An Angel appeared and bid Saint Auerkios to destroy the idols in the pagan temple. With zeal he fulfilled the command of God. Upon hearing that the idol-worshippers wanted to kill him, the saint went out to the place where the people had gathered and openly he denounced the failings of the pagans. The pagans tried to seize hold of the saint. At this moment in the crowd cried out three demon-possessed youths. The people became dumbfounded, as the saint by his prayer expelled the devils from them. Seeing the youths restored to normal, the Hieropolis people besought Saint Auerkios to instruct them in the Christian faith, and then they accepted Holy Baptism. After this the saint set off to surrounding cities and villages, healing the sick and preaching the Kingdom of God. With his preaching he made the rounds of Syria, Cilicia, Mesopotamia, he visited Rome and everywhere he converted multitudes of people to Christ. Saint Auerkios because of his great works is termed "Equal-to-the-Apostles". For many years he guarded the Church against heretics, he affirmed Christians in the faith, he set the prodigal upon the righteous path, he healed the sick and propagated the glory of Christ.
The Monks Theodore (Feodor) and Paul of Rostov in the XIV Century founded at the River Ust', not far from Rostov, a monastery in honour of the holy Martyrs Boris and Gleb (+ 1015, Comm. 2 May).The Monk Theodore came first to the place of the future monastery, from the Novgorod region. The Monk Paul came three years later for ascetic exploits.
In 1363 the Monk Sergei of Radonezh (Comm. 25 September and 5 July) came to Rostov, his native region. Learning of this, the Monks Theodore and Paul set off thither and came to the great ascetic for spiritual counsel. The Monk Sergei visited their wilderness monastery, and having pointed out the place, he gave blessing to build there a church in the name of the holy Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb. Already during the time of construction of this first church, monks began gathering to the ascetics. The hegumen, the Monk Theodore, joyfully accepted all that came. Soon a second temple was built, in honour of the Annunciation of the MostHoly Mother of God.
Having set in order the Borisoglebsk monastery, the Monk Theodore entrusted its direction to the Monk Paul, and then he himself with several disciples withdrew into the Vologda forest. Here at Beloe-Ozero (White-Lake), nigh to the confluence of the River Kouzha into it, he founded a monastery and asceticised there for several years. Having built a church in the name of Saint Nicholas and setting in order the monastery, he established an hegumen for it. And having received a revelation about his impending end, he returned to the Borisoglebsk monastery, where he died on 22 October 1409. The Monk Paul directed the two monasteries for a certain while, and he died at this same monastery.
The Holy Martyrs Bishop Alexander, the Soldier Heracles, and the Women-Martyrs Anna, Elizabeth, Theodotia and Glyceria were killed during the III Century at Adrianopolis for their confession of Christ. This century was noted as a time of the dissemination of Christianity amongst the pagans. Despite the persecutions undertaken against the Christians, Bishop Alexander fearlessly converted to the holy salvific faith and baptised many a pagan. The governor of the region where the saint lived ordered his soldiers to use torture to gain Bishop Alexander's renunciation of Christ. The saint patiently endured terrible tortures. Struck by this, the Soldier Heracles believed in Christ, for Whom the saint suffered. And after him confessing themselves Christian were the Women-Martyrs Anna, Elizabeth, Theodotia and Glyceria.
The Apostle James, Brother of the Lord was the son of Righteous Joseph the Betrothed (Comm. 26 December). From his early years James was a Nazorite, a man especially dedicated to God. The Nazorites gave a vow to preserve virginity, to abstain from wine, to refrain from eating meat, and not to cut their hair. The vow of the Nazorites symbolised a life of holiness and purity, commanded formerly by the Lord for all Israel. When the Saviour began to teach the nation about the Kingdom of God, Saint James believed in Christ and became His apostle. For his God-leasing life he was chosen first bishop in the Church at Jerusalem. Saint James presided over the Council of the Apostles at Jerusalem, and his word was decisive (Acts 15). In his thirty years as bishop the Apostle James converted many of the Jews to Christianity. Annoyed by this, the Pharisees and the Scribes plotted together to kill Saint James. Having led the saint up on the roof of the Jerusalem Temple, they demanded that he renounce the Saviour of the world. But the holy Apostle James instead began to bear witness, that Christ is the True Messiah. Then the Jewish teachers shoved him off downwards. The saint did not die immediately, but gathering his final strength, he prayed to the Lord for his enemies, who at this while were stoning him. The martyr's death of Saint James occurred in about the year 63.
The holy Apostle James composed a Divine Liturgy, which has formed the basis of the liturgies, composed by Saints Bail the Great and John Chrysostomos. The Church has preserved an Epistle of the Apostle James, which under his name is included among the books of the New Testament of Holy Scripture. In the year 1853 the Alexandria Patriarch Hierotheos sent to Moscow a portion of the relics of the holy Apostle James. The Church makes a distinction between the holy Apostle James, Brother of the Lord, from James the son of Zebedee (Comm. 30 April) and James Alphaeus (Comm. 9 October).
Righteous Iakov (James) Borovich, Novgorod Wonderworker, in his youth took upon himself the ardous task of fool-for-Christ. Most of the details of his life are unknown. The Lord glorified him after death. In the year 1540, on the third day of Pascha, a large block of ice floated up against the current along the River Msta to the village of Borovich (in Novgorod district), and on this block of ice stood the coffin (an oaken log) without cover, upon which lay the body of the youth. Shunning their responsibility, peasants with poles shoved the block of ice to mid-stream, but it returned to the shore. This was repeated three times. By night the youth appeared in a dream to the elders of the village, who had seen him upon the ice-floe, and said: "I too am a Christian just like ye. Push me not away. My name is Iakov, and I received my name in honour of Saint Iakov (James), Brother of the Lord".
The relics of the holy lad were at first placed in a chapel, and in 1544 transferred to the Holy Spirit church. Then was established a festal celebration to him. The Lord, having glorified his God-pleasing one, granted the relics of Saint Iakov a curative power. A feastday with matins was established in 1572. In the Iconographic Originals it says about Saint Iakov: "The likeness of a lad, bare, girded with a piece of cloth". In 1657 Patriarch Nikon dispatched part of the relics to Valdai, to the Iversk monastery.
Sainted Ignatios, Patriarch of Constantinople (847-857; 867-877), in the world Nikita, was of imperial lineage. When his father, the emperor Michael I (811-813), was deposed from the imperial throne by Leo the Armenian (813-820), the 15 year old youth Ignatios was imprisoned in a monastery. Life in the monastery strengthened Saint Ignatios in faith and in piety. Soon he was made hegumen of the monastery, and later on he was chosen Patriarch of Constantinople.
The emperor Michael III (855-867) was still a minor in age, and the country was actually governed by his uncle, Bardas -- a man impious and unchaste. The holy patriarch urged Bardas to forsake his sinful life, and he boldly denounced him in his iniquity. When Bardas attempted to force Saint Ignatios to impose monastic tonsure upon the holy Empress Theodora, -- mother of the emperor, so as to remove her from governance of the realm, holy Patriarch Ignatios did not only not consent to this, but also publicly excommunicated Bardas from Communion. They tortured the holy patriarch for fifteen days to force him to resign, and then they sent him off into exile. When the new emperor came to power, Saint Ignatios was recalled from prison, and was Patriarch for another 10 years. He died in the year 877 in a monastery.
The Martyr Aretha and with him 4299 Martyrs suffered for the Lord Jesus Christ in the VI Century. Aretha was governor of the city of Negran in Arabia, the inhabitants of which were Christian. The Arabian (or Omirite) king, Dunaan, who was Jewish, decided to extirpate Christianity from the land, and he issued an edict that all followers of Christ were to be put to death. The inhabitants of Negran remained faithful to the Lord, and Dunaan came with a large army to destroy the city. At the city-walls of Negran the king's heralds announced, that Dunaan would let live only those who renounced the Crucified Galileian and His Cross, as a "sign of malediction". Not daring to assault the Christian city by force, Dunaan resorted to a ruse, swearing an oath that he would not force the Christians into Judaism, but would merely impose a tribute-tax on Negran. The inhabitants of the city would not heed the advice of Saint Aretha [his name in Greek means "virtue", as if here literally to suggest that the people "would not heed the voice of virtue"], and putting their trust in Dunaan, they opened wide the city-gates.
The very next day Dunaan gave orders to start up an immense bon-fire and throw in it all the clergy of the Church of the city, so as to frighten all the rest of the Christians. Thus were burnt 427 men. The governor Aretha and the other chief men were thrown into prison. Then the oppressor sent out through the city his messengers, to convert the Christians to Judaism. And Dunaan himself conversed with those inhabitants brought forth from the prisons, saying: "I do not demand of you that ye should renounce the God of heaven and earth, nor do I want that ye should worship idols, but I want merely that ye do not believe in Jesus Christ, since the Crucified One was a man, and not God". The holy martyrs replied to this, that Jesus -- is God the Word, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Who for the salvation of mankind had become flesh from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. "We shalt not abjure Christ, since that He is for us -- Life, and death for Him -- is the finding of Life", -- declared the sufferers to Dunaan. And more than four thousand Christians -- men, women, both the aged and children -- from the city of Negran and surrounding villages accepted a martyr's death for Christ.
The Monks Aretha, Sisoi and Theophil, Hermits of Pechersk (XII-XIII), pursued asceticism at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery and were buried in the Nearer Caves.
The Monk Aretha was from Polotsk. While living at the monastery, he kept in his cell much wealth. One time robbers made off with it. Grieving over his lost riches, the Monk Aretha began to murmur against God, for which he was stricken with a serious illness. Being at the very brink of death, he saw, how both Angels and devils had come for him and were arguing between them. The devils asserted, that for his avarice and complaints against God he ought to be given over to them, while the Angels in turning to him bewailed: "Thou hapless man, if thou had given thanks to God for the pilfered riches, this would have been accounted in charity for thee". After this vision the Monk Aretha was restored to life. His final days he spent as an hermit, in distress and repentance over his sins, having renounced everything earthly. Saint Aretha died not later than the year 1190. In the Iconographic Originals, the monk is described thus: "In appearance stooped over, beard in length of some Kozmina, monastic robes".
The Monk Sisoi, an hermit, in the general service to the Monks of the Antoniev Caves is called "radiant in fasting".
The Monk Theophil in the same service is called "in miracles resplendid".
The commemoration of all the monks is also on 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
Blessed Elezboi, Emperor of Ethiopia, lived during the time when Arabia was ruled by the oppressor of Christians, Dunaan. Pious Elezboi was unable to look on indifferently as believers in Christ were being massacred, and he declared war on Dunaan. But his military campaign was unsuccessful. Wanting to learn the reason for his defeat, Elezboi at the prompting from above turned to a certain hermit, who revealed to the emperor, that he had proceeded unrighteously in deciding to take revenge against Dunaan, since the Lord had said: "Vengeance is Mine, and I shalt mete it forth!" (Heb. 10: 30). The hermit counselled Blessed Elezboi to devote his final days of life to God, so as to flee the wrath of God for his self-willed revenge, and then to defeat Dunaan. Saint Elezboi made a vow to the Lord, and having set off with his army against the enemy, he defeated and captured and executed him. After the victory the saint resigned as emperor, secluded himself within a monastery and for 15 years he dwelt in strict fast and ascetic deeds (+ c. 553-555).
The Holy Martyress Syncletia and her Two Daughters (VI) suffered under the Arabian king Dunaan. Saint Syncletia was descended from an illustrious family. Left widowed while still quite young, she devoted herself to the Christian upbringing of her daughters, and she herself led a life both chaste and virtuous. Dunaan in the meantime had started up a persecution, intending to extirpate Christians from his realm. He summoned Saint Syncletia and her daughters before him, and in urging her to forsake her "folly", he promised as reward to take her into the retinue of his wife. "How canst thou not be afraid, O king, to speak evil of That One Who hath given thee both royal crown and life?" -- replied the holy martyress.
Dunaan gave orders to lead the Martyress Syncletia and her daughters through the city as though they were criminals. Women, looking on at the disgrace of the saint, fell to crying, but she told them that this "shaming" for her was dearer than any earthly honour.
They again brought the martyress before Dunaan, and he said: "If thou wishest to remain alive, renounce Christ". "If I make renunciation, who then wilt deliver me from eternal death?" -- replied the saint. In a rage the tormentor gave orders first to kill the daughters of Saint Syncletia and force their blood on her, and then to behead the mother with a sword.
Sainted Athanasias I, Patriarch of Constantinople (1289-1293; 1303-1311), in the world Alexios, was from Adrianopolis. While still in his youth, thriving upon the knowledge of the wisdom of Christ, he left his home and went to Thessalonika, where he was tonsured in one of the monasteries with the name Akakios. From there he soon withdrew to Holy Mount Athos and entered the brethren of the Esthygmena monastery, where for three years he served in the refectory. In his works and his ascetic deeds he acquired the gift of tears, and by his virtuous acts he won the overall good-will of the brethren. Shunning praise, Akakios in humility left Athos at first for the holy places in Jerusalem, and then to Mount Patra, where for a long time he asceticised as an hermit. From there the ascetic transferred to the Auxention monastery, and then to Mount Galanteia to the monastery of Blessed Lazarus, where he accepted the great angelic form with the name Athanasias, and received the priestly dignity and became ecclesiarch (holder of church keys). And here the saint was granted a Divine revelation: from a crucifix he heard the Voice of the Lord, summoning him to pastoral service.
After 10 years, wanting still more to strengthen his spirit in silence and prayer, Saint Athanasias again settled on Mount Athos. But because of disorders arising there he returned to Mount Galanteia. But here also he was not long to remain in solitude. Many people thronged to him for pastoral guidance, and so he organsied a women's monastery there. During this time the cathedra-chair of the Constantinople Church fell vacant after the disturbances and disorder of the period of the patriarch John Bekkos. At the suggestion of the pious emperor Andronikos Paleologos, the Council of hierarchs and clergy in 1289 unanimously chose Saint Athanasias to the cathedra of the OEcumenical Church.
Patriarch Athanasias began fervently to fulfill his new obedience and did much for strengthening the Church. His strictness of conviction roused the dissatisfaction of influential clergy, and in 1293 he was compelled to resign the cathedra and to retire again to his own monastery, where he asceticised in solitude. In 1303 he was again entrusted the staff of patriarchal service, which he worthily fulfilled for another 7 years. In 1308 Saint Athanasias established as Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus' Sainted Peter, Primate of the Russian Church (Comm. 21 December). Again because of some sort of dissatisfaction, and not wanting to be the cause of church discord, Saint Athanasias in 1311 resigned the governance of the Church and departed to his own monastery, devoting himself fully to monastic deeds. Towards the end of his life the saint was again found worthy to behold Christ: the Lord reproached him, that Athanasias had not carried out his pastoral duty to the end. Gushing with tears, the saint repented his cowardice and received from the Lord both forgiveness and the gift of wonderworking. Saint Athanasias died at age 100.
The Monk John, Hermit of Pskov, asceticised during a terrible time of military troubles: in 1592 the Swedes besieged the city of Pskov, and from 1608 for seven years Polish forces made attack under the head of Lisovskii. It was only in the week before the death of the monk, through the intercession of the Pskovo-Pechersk Icon of the Mother of God and the Pskov Saints, that Pskov was delivered from the besieging army of the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus. The Monk John, as the chronicle relates, "lived within the city walls for 23 years; rancid was his fish and bread he ate not; he lived within the city as though in a wilderness, in great silence", and he died on 24 October 1616.
The Holy Martyrs Marcian and Martyrios served in a Constantinople cathedral. Marcian was a reader, and Martyrios a sub-deacon. They both likewise performed duty in the capacity of notaries, i.e. secretaries, for the Patriarch Paul the Confessor (Comm. 6 November).
Arian heretics expelled and secretly executed the righteous Patriarch Paul, and his cathedra-chair was given over to the heretic Macedonios. The heretics attempted to entice Saints Marcian and Martyrios over to their side by flattery, they offered them gold and promised them cathedra-chairs as archbishops. But all the Arian efforts were in vain.
Then the impious threatened to slander them before the emperor, and sought to intimidate them with torture and death. But the saints steadfastly confessed Orthodoxy, as handed down by the fathers of the Church. Marcian and Martyrios were sentenced to death. Before death, the martyrs raised up to the Lord a fervent prayer: "Lord God, Who hath invisibly created our hearts, and directed all our deeds, accept with peace the souls of Thy servants, since we do perish for Thee and art considered as sheep for the slaughter (Ps. 32 : 15; 43 : 23). We do rejoice, that by such a death we shalt depart this life for Thy Name. Grant us to be partakers of life eternal with Thee, the Source of life". After their prayer, the martyrs with quiet rejoicing bent their necks beneathe the sword of the impious (+ c. 335). Their holy bodies were reverently buried by Orthodox Christians. Later on, by decree of the holy Bishop John Chrysostom, the relics of the holy martyrs were transferred into an especially built church. Believers here were healed of many infirmities through the prayers of the saints, to the glory of the One Life-Originating Trinity.
The Monk Martyrii, Deacon of Pechersk, in the Farther Caves (XIII-XIV): His holy name is remembered in the 7th ode of the Canon to the Monks of the Farther Caves. Here are glorified his love of toil, justness and ardent purity, and even the gift of expelling demons and healing infirmities. His memory is noted also on 28 August and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Holy Martyr Anastasius lived during the III Century in the city of Aquileia (northern Italy). Because of his missionary activity in the city of Salona (Dalmatia), he was arrested and brought to trial. Boldly and without wavering, the Martyr Anastasius confessed Christ as the True God and Creator of all. By the decision of the court he was sentenced to death by execution. The pagans threw the body of Saint Anastasius into the sea. A righteous Christian, the rich matron Ascalopia, found the body of the Martyr Anastasius and reverently buried him in her estate church. The relics of the holy martyr were glorified by many miracles.
The Righteous Saint Tabitha, a virtuous and kindly woman, belonged to the Christian community in Joppa. Being grievously ill, she happened to be dying. At the time not far from Joppa, the Apostle Peter was preaching at Lydda. Messengers were sent to him with an urgent request for help. When the apostle arrived at Joppa, Tabitha was already dead. On bended knee, the First-Ranked Apostle Peter made a fervent prayer to the Lord. Then he went to the bed and called out: "Tabitha, arise!" She got up completely healed (Acts 9: 36).
The Holy GreatMartyr Demetrios of Soluneia was the son of a Roman proconsul in Thessalonika (the present day Salonika, which in the Slavonic is termed Solun', [anglicised as Soluneia]). Three centuries had then already elapsed, and Roman paganism, -- spiritually shattered and defeated by the multitude of martyrs and confessors of the Crucified Saviour, -- intensified its persecutions. Both the father and mother of saint Demetrios were clandestine Christians. In a secret house-church at the home of the proconsul, the child was baptised and raised in the Christian faith. When the father died, and the child had reached the age of maturity, the emperor Galerius Maximian -- having ascended the throne in the year 305 -- summoned him, and confident in his education and military-administrative abilities, appointed him to the position of his father as proconsul of the Thessalonika district. The chief task expected of this young commander consisted in the defence of the city from barbarians, and in the extermination of Christianity. It is interesting, that among the barbarians threatening the Romans our ancestral Slavs occupied an important place, in particular by intentionally settling upon the Thessalonikan peninsula. There exists even the opinion that the parents of Saint Demetrios were of Slavic descent. In regard to Christians the will of the emperor was expressed simply: "Put to death anyone who calls on the name of the Crucified". The emperor did not suspect in appointing Demetrios, how wide a swath of confessors acts he had opened up for the clandestine ascetic.
Accepting the appointment, Demetrios returned to Thessalonika and in front of everyone immediately confessed and glorified our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of persecuting and executing Christians, he openly began to teach the inhabitants of the city the Christian faith and to extirpate pagan customs and idol-worship. The compiler of his life, Metaphrastes, says that in his teaching zeal he became for Thessalonika "a second Apostle Paul", particularly since "the Apostle to the Gentiles" once founded at this city the first community of believers (1 Thes., 2 Thes.). The Lord also destined Saint Demetrios to follow the holy Apostle Paul to a death by martyrdom.
When Maximian learned, that the proconsul newly appointed by him -- was a Christian, and that he had converted to Christianity many Roman subjects who were influenced by his example -- the rage of the emperor know no bounds. Returning from a campaign in the Black Sea region, the emperor decided to lead his army through Thessalonika, filled with the desire to make a massacre of the Soluneia Christians.
Learning of this, Saint Demetrios opportunely ordered his faithful servant Luppos to distribute his wealth to the poor with the words: "Give away the earthly riches amongst them, for we shalt seek for ourselves heavenly riches". And he gave himself over to prayer and fasting, preparing himself for the accepting of a martyr's crown.
When the emperor came into the city, he summoned Demetrios, who boldly confessed himself a Christian and denounced the falsehood and futility of Roman polytheism. Maximian gave orders to lock up the confessor in prison, and an Angel came to him in confinement, comforting and encouraging him for the act. The emperor meanwhile concerned himself with a foul gladiators spectacle, esteeming as his beloved champion a German by the name of Leo, who made a challenge for a Christian to struggle with him on the platform over the spears of the victorious soldiers. A brave youth from the Soluneia Christians, Nestor by name, went to the prison to his advisor Demetrios and requested to be given the blessing for single-combat with the barbarian. With the blessing of Demetrios and through his prayers, Nestor prevailed over the fierce German and hurled him from the dais-platform onto the spears of the soldiers, just as the murderous pagan would have done with the Christian. The enraged commander gave orders to immediately execute the holy Martyr Nestor (Comm. 27 October) and dispatched a guard to the prison -- to run through with spears the one who had blessed this deed, Saint Demetrios.
At dawn on 26 October 306 soldiers appeared in the underground prison of the holy saint and ran him through with spears. His faithful servant, Saint Luppos, gathered up on a towel the bless of Saint Demetrios, and he took from his finger the imperial ring, -- a symbol of his high status, and likewise dipped it also in the blood. With the ring and other holy things sanctified by the blood of Saint Demetrios, Saint Luppos began to heal the infirm. The emperor gave orders to arrest and kill him.
The body of the holy GreatMartyr Demetrios was cast out for devouring by wild animals, but the Soluneia Christians took it and secretly committed it to earth. During the reign of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine (306-337), a church was erected over the grave of Saint Demetrios. An hundred years later, during the construction of a majestic new church on the old spot, the incorrupt relics of the holy martyr were uncovered. From the time of the VII Century beneathe the crypt of the GreatMartyr Demetrios was found a miraculous flowing of fragrant myrh, in regard to which the GreatMartyr Demetrios receives the church title "Myrh-flowing". Several times those venerating the Soluneia wonderworker made attempts at a transfer of his holy relics, or part of them, to Constantinople. But invariably Saint Demetrios secretly made apparent his will to remain the protector and defender of the people of Thessalonika.
Advancing towards the city, pagan Slavs were repeatedly turned by the apparition of a threatening radiant youth, going the round of the walls and inspiring terror in the enemy soldiers. It is therefore perhaps why the name of Saint Demetrios is particularly venerated among the Slavic nations after their enlightenment by the light of the Gospel truth. On the other hand, Greeks regard Saint Demetrios in terms of being a Slavic saint merely an arbitrary preference.
The very first pages of the Russian Primary Chronicle, as foreordained by God, is bound up with the name of the holy GreatMartyr Demetrios of Soluneia. Oleg the Wise threatened the Greeks at Constantinople (907), as the Chronicle relates: "The Greeks became terrified and said: this is not Oleg, but rather Saint Demetrios sent upon us from God". Russian soldiers always believed that they were under the special protection of the holy GreatMartyr Demetrios. Moreover, in the old Russian barracks the GreatMartyr Demetrios was always depicted as Russian by descent -- thus this image fused with the soul of the Russian nation.
Church veneration of the holy GreatMartyr Demetrios in Russia began with the time shortly after the Baptism of Rus'. Towards the beginning of the decade of the 70's of the XI Century belongs the founding of the Dimitriev monastery at Kiev, known afterwards as the Mikhailov-Zlatoverkh monastery. The monastery was built by the son of Yaroslav the Wise, -- GreatPrince Izyaslav, baptised Dimitrii (+ 1078). The mosaic icon of Saint Demetrios of Soluneia from the cathedral of the Dimitriev monastery has been preserved up to the present day, and is located in the State Tret'yakov gallery. In the years 1194-1197 the GreatPrince of Vladimir, Vsevolod III Bol'shoe Gnezdo (Great-Nest), -- baptised Dimitrii, "built at his court a beautiful church of the holy martyr Dimitrii, and adorned it wondrously with icons and writing" (i.e. frescoes). The Dimitriev cathedral also reveals for the present the embellishment of ancient Vladimir. The wonderworking icon of Saint Demetrios of Soluneia from the cathedral iconostas is located even now in Moscow, at the Tret'yakov gallery. It was written upon a plank of wood from the grave of the holy GreatMartyr Demetrios, brought in 1197 from Soluneia to Vladimir. One of the most precious depictions of the saint -- a fresco on a column of the Vladimir Uspenie cathedral, is from the brush of the Sainted Iconographer Andrei Rublev.
The veneration of Saint Demetrios continued also in the family of Saint Alexander Nevsky (Comm. 23 November). Saint Alexander named his eldest son in honour of the holy greatmartyr. And his younger son, holy Nobleborn Prince Daniel of Moscow (+ 1303, Comm. 4 March), raised up at Moscow a temple in the name of the holy GreatMartyr Demetrios in the 1280's, which was the first stone church in the Moscow Kremlin. Later on in 1326, under Ivan Kalita, it was taken down and in its place was erected the Uspenie (Dormition) cathedral.
The memory of Saint Demetrios of Soluneia from of old was bound up in Rus' with the military, patriotism and the defense of the Fatherland. The saint is depicted on icons in the guise of a soldier in plumed armour, with a spear and sword in hand. On a scroll (in later depictions) is written also a prayer, with which Saint Demetrios turned to God about the salvation of the people of Soluneia: "Lord, let not the city nor the people perish. If Thou do save the city and the people -- with them I shalt be saved, if they perish -- I too perish with them".
In the spiritual experience of the Russian Church, veneration of the holy GreatMartyr Demetrios of Soluneia is closely bound up with the memory of the defense the Native-Land and Church by the GreatPrince of Moscow, Dimitrii Donskoi (+ 1389). "An Account of the Life and Repose Great Prince Dimitrii Ivanovich, Tsar of Russia", written in the year 1393, already regards the GreatPrince as a saint, as also do other old Russian histories. GreatPrince Dimitrii was a spiritual son and pupil of the Sainted Metropolitan of Moscow Alexei (+ 1378, Comm. 12 February), and a disciple and associating also with other great figures of prayer in the Russian Land: -- the Monk Sergei Radonezh (+ 1392, Comm. 25 September, Dimitrii of Prilutsk (+ 1392, Comm. 11 February), Sainted Theodore of Rostov (+ 1394, Comm. 28 November). GreatPrince Dimitrii "about the churches of God he worried much, and the territory of the Russian land he held by his bravery: many the enemy risen against us he conquered, and his glorious city Moscow he protected with wondrous walls". From the time of the building of the white-walled Kremlin (1366) by GreatPrince Dimitrii, Moscow was called "Belokamenna" ("White-Stoned"). "The land of Russia prospered during the years of his reign", -- testifies the "Account".
By the prayers of his Heavenly patron the holy warrior Demetrios of Soluneia, GreatPrince Dimitrii gained besides his brilliant military victories also the preordained further prominence of Russia: he repelled the onslaught against Russia by the Lithuanian armies of Ol'gerd (1368, 1373), he routed at the River Vozha the Tatar army of Begich (1378), and he smashed the military might of all the Golden Horde at the Battle of Kulikovo Pole (Kulikovo Field) (8 September 1380, on the day of celebration of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God), set between the Rivers Don and Nepryadva. The Kulikovo Battle, for which the nation calls him Dimitrii Donskoi, became the first all-Russian national deed, rallying round Moscow the spiritual power of the Russian nation. To this auspicious event of Russian history is dedicated the "Zadonschina", an inspiring historic poem, written by the priest Sophronii of Ryazem (1381).
Prince Dimitrii Donskoi was greatly devoted to the holy GreatMartyr Demetrios. In 1380, on the eve of the Kulikovo Battle, he solemnly transferred from Vladimir to Moscow the most holy effect of the Vladimir Dimitriev cathedral -- the icon of the GreatMartyr Demetrios of Soluneia, written on the plank from the grave of the saint. At the Moscow Uspenie Cathedral was built a chapel in the name of the GreatMartyr Demetrios. In memory of the soldiers, fallen in the Kulikovo Battle, was established for all-church remembrance the Demetrios Parental-Ancestors Saturday. The first time this panikhida was held was at the Trinity-Sergiev monastery on 20 October 1380 by the Monk Sergei, Hegumen of Radonezh, in the presence of GreatPrince Dimitrii Donskoi. From that time it is served annually with a solemn remembrance of the heroes of the Kulikovo Battle, in which number are the Schema-monks Alexander (Peresvet) and Andrei (Oslyab).
Sainted Theophil, Archbishop of Novgorod, was chosen by lot after the death of the Sainted-Hierarch Jona (+ 1471, Comm. 5 November) and was elevated to the dignity of Archbishop of Novgorod on 15 December 1472 at Moscow. Until his elevation to the dignity of archbishop, he pursued asceticism in the vestry of the Otensk monastery. An harsh destiny was allotted the saint in the guidance of the Novgorod flock: the "posadnitsa" (mayoress) Martha Boretskaya and her adherents stirred up and agitated the people against the GreatPrince of Moscow, Ivan III; and the monk Pimen, a Boretskaya partisan, roused in the flock enmity against the archbishop. Some of the Novgorod populace were inclined to go over to the side of Lithuania, and unfaithful to the Moscow principality, they were prepared to go into apostasy. Saint Theophil stopped the rebellious Novgorodians: "Do not betray Orthodoxy nor become a flock of apostates; I go back to my humble cell, from whence ye drew me out to the shame of rebellion". This letter of disavowal of the saint is preserved, written in 1479. But the short-sighted people did not heed the words of the pastor: between Moscow and Novgorod was ignited a fratricidal war. The defeated Novgorodians were compelled to beg for mercy, and many of them owed their life to the intercession of the saint. In 1480 Saint Theophil was dispatched by Ivan III to imprisonment in the Moscow Chudov monastery and "he sat there a full three years, and died there". By tradition, when Saint Theophil lay sick at the Chudov monastery, there appeared to him in a dream the Novgorod Saint Nyphont (+ 1156, Comm. 8 April), -- buried in the Caves of the Monk Antonii of Pechersk, and the saint reminded him about a promise to venerate the Pechersk wonderworkers. And by this tradition, the holy archbishop set off to Kiev and just approached the Dniepr as his sickness increased, and he received a revelation that although he would not reach the caves alive, his body would rest in them. This was fulfilled.
His memory is celebrated also with the Sobor (Assemblage) of the Farther Caves on 28 August and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent, with the General Sobor of the Kievo-Pechersk Fathers.
The Monk Athanasias of Mydicea by love for the monastic life secretly left his parental home, but was forcibly returned by his father. But after a certain while Athanasias with the consent of his father entered the Mydicea monastery in Bythnia. He was a companion of the Monk Nikita (Comm. 3 April) and he died about the year 814. On his grave grew up a cypress tree, from which by the grace of God, occurred healings.
The Monk Dimitrii of Basarbovsk pursued asceticism in the wilderness, in Bulgaria, near the city of Ruschuk. He died in 1685. On 8 July 1779 his relics were transferred to Bucharest.
The Monk Dimitrii (XIV Century), founder of the Archangel Tsilibinsk wilderness monastery in Vologda diocese, was a beloved disciple of Sainted Stefan of Perm (+ 1396, Comm. 26 April). The monk built for the newly-converted a church in honour of the Archistratigos Michael. Beneathe this temple he dug out a cave and for a long time lived there in solitude.
The Holy Martyr Nestor suffered in the year 306 in the city of Soluneia together with the GreatMartyr Demetrios of Soluneia (comm. 26 October).
The Monk Nestor the Chronicler was born at Kiev in 1050. He came in his youth to the Monk Theodosii (Feodosii, + 1074, Comm. 3 May) and became a novice. The Monk Nestor took monastic vows under the successor to the Monk Theodosii, the hegumen Stephen, and under him was ordained monk-deacon.
Concerning his lofty spiritual life it says that, amidst the number of other monastic fathers he participated in the casting out of a devil from Nikita the Hermit (afterwards a Novgorod Sainted-hierarch, Comm. 31 January), having become fascinated by the Hebrew wisdom of the Old Testament. The Monk Nestor deeply appreciated true knowledge, conjoined with humility and penitence. "Great is the benefit of book learning, -- said he, -- for books point out and teach us the way to repentance, since from the words of books we discover wisdom and temperance. This is the stream, watering the universe, from which springs wisdom. In books is a boundless depth, by them we are comforted in sorrows, and they are a bridle for moderation. If thou do enter diligently into the books of wisdom, thou then shalt discover great benefit for thy soul. Wherefore that one who readeth books, doth converse with God or the saints".
In the monastery the Monk Nestor had the obedience of being the chronicler. In the 1080's he wrote the "Account about the Life and Perishing of the Blessed PassionBearers Boris and Gleb" in connection with the transfer of the relics of the saints to Vyshgorod in the year 1072 (Comm. 2 May). In the 1080's the Monk Nestor also compiled the Life of the Monk Theodosii of Pechersk. And in 1091 on the eve of the altar-feast of the Pechersk monastery, he was entrusted by the hegumen John to dig up out of the ground, for transfer to the church, the holy relics of the Monk Theodosii (Uncovering Relics, Comm. 14 August).
The chief work in the life of the monk Nestor was the compiling in the years 1112-1113 of the "Tale of Bygone Years" ("Povest' Vremmenykh Let"). "Here is the tale of years gone by, from whence the Russian land came to be, who at Kiev started first to be prince and from whither the Russian land is arrayed" -- so with the very first line the Monk Nestor specifies his purpose. His is an extraordinarily wide circle of sources: of prior Russian chronicle accounts and sayings, monastery records, the Byzantine Chronicles of John Malalos and George Amartolos, various historical collections, the accounts of the boyar-elder Ian Vyshatich and of tradesmen and soldiers, of journeymen and of those who knew -- all set together by him with an unified and strict Church point of view. This permitted the Monk Nestor to write his history of Russia as an inclusive part of world history -- the history of the salvation of the human race.
The monk-patriot expounds the history of the Russian Church in the significant moments of its historical settings. He speaks about the first mentioning of the Russian nation in historical sources -- in the year 866, during the time of the holy Patriarch of Constantinople Photios; he narrates about the creation of the Slavonic alphabet and writing by the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Cyril and Methodius; and about the Baptism of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Ol'ga at Constantinople. The chronicle of the Monk Nestor has preserved for us an account about the first Orthodox church in Kiev (under the year 945), about the confessors deed of the holy Varangian Martyrs (under the year 983), about the "testing of the faiths" by the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir (year 986) and the "Baptism of Rus'" (the year 988). We are indebted to the first Russian Church historian for accounts about the first metropolitans of the Russian Church, about the emergence of the Pechersk monastery, and about its founders and ascetics. The times in which the Monk Nestor lived were not easy for the Russian land and the Russian Church. Rus' lay torn asunder by princely feuds; the steppe Polovetsian nomads laid waste both city and village with plundering raids, they snatched off Russian people into slavery, and burnt churches and monasteries. The Monk Nestor was an eyewitness to the devastation of the Pechersk monastery in the year 1096. In the chronicle is given a theologically thought out patriotic history. The spiritual depth, historical fidelity and patriotism of the "Tale of Bygone Years" [in English otherwise also known as "The Russian Primary Chronicle"] establish it among the ranks of significant creations of world literature.
The Monk Nestor died in about the year 1114, having left to the Pechersk monk-chroniclers the continuation of his great work. His successors in the writing of the chronicles were: the hegumen Syl'vestr, adding on contemporary accounts to the "Tale of Bygone Years"; the hegumen Moisei (Moses) Vydubitsky lengthened it to the year 1200; and finally, the hegumen Lavrentii, having written in the year 1377 the most ancient of our surviving copies that preserve the "Tale" of the Monk Nestor (this copy is known as the "Lavrentian Chronicle"). The hagiographic tradition of the Pechersk ascetics was continued by Sainted Simon, Bishop of Vladimir (+ 1226, Comm. 10 May), the compiler of the "Kievo-Pechersk Paterikon". Narrating the events connected with the lives of the holy saints of God, Saint Simon often quotes, from among other sources, the Chronicles of the Monk Nestor.
The Monk Nestor was buried in the Nearer Caves of the Monk Antonii of Pechersk. The Church also honours his memory together with the Sobor (Assemblage) of the holy Fathers of the Nearer Caves on 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent when is celebrated the Sobor of all the Kievo-Pechersk Fathers. His works have many times been published [in English also as "The Russian Primary Chronicle"].
The Monk Nestor the NonBookish, named thus in distinction from the Monk Nestor the Chronicler, asceticised in the Farther Caves. His memory is celebrated 27 October it seems, because of his name in common with the Martyr Nestor of Soluneia (+ 306).
The name of the Monk Nestor the NonBookish is mentioned in the General Service to the Monks of the Farther Caves: "The Word of God, comprehended of man, taught thee not by bookish wisdom, O holy Nestor, but from on high; thou hast beheld it through the prayers of the Angel, and thy end thou did foresee; may we with thee be made partakers, we pray, in honouring thine memory". His memory is celebrated also on 28 August and on the 3rd Sunday of great Lent.
The Uncovering of the Relics of the Holy Nobleborn Prince Andrei of Smolensk occurred in the year 1539 through the involvement of the Monk Daniel of Pereslavl' (+ 1540, Comm. 7 April).
The holy nobleborn Prince Andrei was son of the Smolensk prince Feodor Fominsky. While still in his youthful years he was grieved by the disputes of his brothers, and he left his native city going as a simple wanderer to Pereslavl' Zalessk. In humility and meekness he spent thirty years as church warden at the church of Saint Nicholas, also nearby which he is buried. After his death they discovered an heirloom princely ring, a gold chain and an inscription with the words: "I am Andrei, one of the Smolensk princes".
Sainted Dimitrii, Metropolitan of Rostov (in the world Daniil Savvich Tuptalo), was born in December 1651 in the locale of Makarovo, not far from Kiev. He was born into a pious family a grew up a deeply believing Christian. In 1662, soon after his parents resettled to Kiev, Daniil was sent to the Kievo-Mogilyansk college, where the gifts and remarkable abilities of the youth were first discovered. He successfully learned the Greek and Latin languages and the whole series of classical sciences. On 9 July 1668 Daniil accepted monasticism with the name Dimitrii, in honour of the GreatMartyr Demetrios of Soluneia (Thessalonika). Prior to the Spring of 1675 he progressed through the monastic obediences at the Kiev Kirillov monastery, where he began his literary and preaching activity. The Chernigov archbishop Lazar (Baranovich) ordained Dimitrii as priestmonk on 23 May 1675. Over the course of several years Priestmonk Dimitrii asceticised and preached the Word of God at various monasteries and churches in the Ukraine, Lithuania and Belorus. For a certain while he as hegumen of the Maksimovsk monastery,and later the Baturinsk Nikol'sk monastery, from where in 1684 he was summoned to the Kievo-Pechersk Lavra. The head of the Lavra, archimandrite Varlaam (Yasinsky), knowing the high spiritual disposition of his former student, his education, his proclivity for scientific work, and also his undoubted literary talent, -- entrusted to the Priestmonk Dimitrii the organising of the Chetii Minei (Lives of the Saints, Meneion) for the whole year.
From this time, all the further life of Saint Dimitrii was devoted to the fulfilling of this ascetic work, grandiose in its scope. The work demanded an enormous exertion of strength, since it necessitated the gathering and analysing of a multitude of various sources and to expound them in a fluent language, worthy of the lofty subject of exposition and at the same time accessible to all believers. Divine assist did not abandon the saint over the course of his twenty year labour. According to the testimony of Saint Dimitrii himself, his soul was filled with impressions of the saints, which strengthened him both in spirit and body, and they encouraged faith in the felicitous completion of his noble task. And at the same time as this, the Monk Dimitrii was head of several monasteries (in succession).
The works of he ascetic brought him to the attention of Patriarch Adrian. In 1701, by ukaz-decree of tsar Peter I, Archimandrite Dimitrii was summoned to Moscow, where on 23 March at the Uspensky-Dormition cathedral of the Kremlin he was ordained Metropolitan to the Siberian cathedra-seat of the city of Tobol'sk. But after a certain while, because of the importance of his scientific work and the frailty of his health, the saint received a new appointment to Rostov-Yaroslavl', whither on 1 March 1702 he arrived in the capacity of Metropolitan of Rostov.
Just as before, he continued to be concerned about the strengthening of the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church, weakened by the Old Ritualist schism.
In his inspired works and preachings many a generation of Russian theologians drew spiritual strength for creativity and prayer. For all Orthodox Christians he remains an example of a saintly, ascetic, non-covetous life. At his death, 28 October 1709, they found with him but few possessions, except for books and manuscripts.
The enumeration of Sainted Dimitrii, Metropolitan of Rostov, to the ranks of the Saints was made on 22 April 1757. Celebration to him is made likewise on 21 September, on the day of the uncovering of relics.
The Monk Job, Hegumen of Pochaev and Wonderworker (in the world named Ivan Zhelezo), was born in the mid XV Century in Pokut'a in Galicia. At age 10 he came to the Transfiguration Ugornitsk monastery, and at age 12 he accepted monasticism. The Monk Job from his youth was known for his great piety and strict ascetic life, and early he was accounted worthy of the priestly dignity. In around the year 1580, at the request of the reknown champion of Orthodoxy prince Konstantin of Ostrozhsk, the Monk Job headed the Cross-Exaltation monastery near the city of Dubno, and for more than 20 years he governed the monastery amidst the setting of the growing persecution of Orthodoxy on the part of the Catholics and Uniates. At the beginning of the XVII Century the Monk Job withdrew to Pochaev hill and settled in a cave not far from the ancient Uspenie-Dormition monastery, famed for its wonderworking Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God. The holy hermit, beloved by the brethren of the monastery, was chosen as their hegumen. The Monk Job zealously fulfilled his duty as head of the monastery, kind and gentle with the brethren, he himself did much of the work, planting trees in the garden, and strengthening the waterworks at the monastery. And in taking an active part in the defense of Orthodoxy and the Russian people, the Monk Job was present at the 1628 Kiev Sobor-Council, convened against the Unia. After 1642, the Monk Job accepted the great schema with the name Ioann.
Sometimes he completely secluded himself within the cave for three days or even a whole week. The Jesus Prayer was an unceasing doing of his gentle heart. According to the testimony of his student and author of the Vita-Life of the Monk Job, Dosithei, once during the time of prayer the cave of the monk was illumined by an heavenly light. The Monk Job reposed in the year 1651, at over age 100, having directed the Pochaev monastery for more than fifty years. On 8 August 1659 occurred the glorification of the Monk Job.
The Holy Martyress Paraskeva, named also Piatnitsa, lived during the III Century at Iconeum in a rich and pious family. The parents of the saint reverenced especially the day of the Passion of the Lord -- Friday (Piatnitsa), and therefore they called their daughter Paraskeva this name, since she had been born on a Friday-Piatnitsa, and the name Paraskeva in Slavic translation from the Greek means also -- Piatnitsa-Friday.
Young Paraskeva with all her heart loved purity and the lofty morality of the virginal life, and she took a vow of celibacy. She wanted to devote all her life to God and to the enlightenment of pagans with the light of the faith of Christ. Upon this righteous path Saint Paraskeva was brought to judgement, bearing in her own name the memory of the day of the terrible Sufferings of Jesus, and she shared in the Passion of Christ also in her own life through her bodily torments. Because of her confession of the Orthodox faith, the pagans in a frenzy seized hold of her and brought her to the city governor. Here they demanded that she offer unholy sacrifice to the pagan idol. With a steady heart, and trusting on God, the saint refused this demand. For this she underwent great torments: having tied her to a tree, the torturers tore at her pure body with iron nails, and then exhausted by the torture, they threw her into prison, all lacerated to the bone. But God did not forsake the holy sufferer, and miraculously healed her torn body. Not heeding this Divine miracle, the executioners continued with their torture of Saint Paraskeva, and finally, they cut off her head.
Saint Paraskeva-Piatnitsa has always enjoyed an especial love and veneration amongst the Orthodox people. With her memory is associated many a pious custom and observance. In the ancient Russian mesyatseslovs with Saints-Lives, the name of the martyress is inscribed thus: "Saint Paraskeva, also called Piatnitsa". Churches in the name of Saint Paraskeva in antiquity were given the name Piatnitsa. Small wayside chapels received of old in Rus' the name-form Piatnitsa. The simple Russian people called the Martyress Paraskeva variously Piatnitsa, Piatina, Petka. The icons of Saint Paraskeva were especially venerated and embellished by our forefathers. Russian iconographers usually depicted the martyress as an austhere ascetic, tall of stature, with a radiant crown upon her head. Icons of the saint guard over pious and happy households. By Church belief, Saint Paraskeva -- is protectress of fields and cattle. Therefore on the day of her memory it was the custom to bring fruit to church for blessing, which as a blest object was kept until the following year. Moreover, Saint Paraskeva is prayed to for protection of cattle from disease. Saint Paraskeva is likewise an healer of people from grievous illness of both body and soul.
Sainted Arsenii, Archbishop of Serbia, spent a large part of his life as a monk at the Zhich monastery. Because of his strict ascetic life, in 1223 he was ordained Archbishop of Serbia. After thirty-three years of wisely guiding his flock Saint Arsenii expired to the Lord in the year 1266. His relics rest at the Pech monastery.
The Monk Stephanos Savvaites, Composer of Church Canons, asceticised at the Laura of Saint Sava in Palestine in the IX Century. His memory is celebrated also on 13 July.
The PriestMartyr Neophytes, Bishop of Urbnissa, was formerly a Persian military commander named Omar, and he participated in the invasion of Gruzia (Georgia) by sultan Akhmet. Having made his way with an advance company to the Shiomgvim monastery, Omar saw there through Divine Providence a multitude of Angels over the monastery, and in the midst of them a monastic elder -- Saint Zhio. Struck by the beauty of the Shiomgvim monastery, Omar did not touch the monastery, but he carried away with himself the desire to become a monk there. After some while he actually did return to the Shiomgvim monastery, accepted holy Baptism and was tonsured with the name Neophytes, which means "neophyte, newly-converted".
Saint Neophytes began from this time a fervent ascetic life and acquired many a gift of God. He even became head of the monastery, and the fame of his like-angelic life spread throughout all Gruzia. Katholikos Samuel IV (582-591) summoned him from the monastery and elevated him to the Urbnissa cathedra-seat.
The pagans and fire-worshippers, whose false teachings Saint Neophytes was zealous in uprooting, decided to kill him. Bursting into the bishop's residence, where there came upon Saint Neophytes at prayer, the pagans seized hold of him, dragged him out and gave him a martyr's death by stoning, similar to how at one time pagans had murdered the FirstMartyr Stephen by stoning. This happened in the year 587. The body of the saint a certain while later was conveyed to Shiomgvim monastery and put beneathe the altar-table of the cathedral church.
The Gruzinian Church celebrates the memory of the PriestMartyr Neophytes, Bishop of Urbnissa, likewise on 28 October.
The Holy Martyrs Terence and Neonilla and their children: Sarbilus, Fotus, Theodulus, Hierax, Nitus, Vilus and Eunicius suffered a martyr's end during a persecution of Christianity under the emperor Decius (249-250). They zealously confessed Christ and denounced idolatry. For this the pagans subjected the entire Christian family to terrible tortures and torments, but failed to get them to renounce the true faith. The holy martyrs finally were beheaded.
The PriestMartyr Kyriakos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, was that selfsame Jew, who pointed out to the holy Empress Helen the place where the Life-Creating Cross of Christ lay buried (vide 14 September). Being present at the discovery of the Cross, Kyriakos (before Baptism he had the name Jude) sincerely came to believe in Christ -- the True God, and he became a Christian. Kyriakos later because of his pure and virtuous life was chosen and elevated to be Patriarch of Jerusalem.
During the time of the cruel persecution under Julian the Apostate, in the year 363, Saint Kyriakos accepted suffering for the faith. After prolonged tortures he was killed.
The Monk Avramii (Abraham), Archimandrite of Rostov, in the world Averkii, in his youth left from his parental home and entered upon the path of Christian asceticism. Having assumed the monastic form, Avramii settled at Rostov on the shore of Lake Nero. In the Rostov lands there were then yet many pagans, and the monk worked intensely at spreading the true faith. Not far off from the cell of the Saint there was a pagan temple, where the pagans worshipped a stone idol of Veles (Volos), which caused fright among the inhabitants of Rostov. In a miraculous vision the Apostle John the Theologian came to stand before Avramii, and gave him a staff crowned with a cross atop, with which the monk destroyed the idol. At the place of the pagan temple, Saint Avramii founded a monastery in honour of the Theophany and became its head. And in memory of the miraculous appearance, the monk erected a church in the name of the Apostle John the Theologian. Many of the pagans were persuaded and baptised by Saint Avramii. Particularly great was his influence with the children: he taught them reading and writing, he instructed them in the law of God, and tonsured monastics from amongst them. Everyone coming to the monastery of the saint was lovingly accepted. His life was a constant work of prayer and toil for the benefit of the brethren: he chopped firewood for the oven, he laundered the monks clothing and carried water for the kitchen. The monk reposed in old age and was buried in the church of the Theophany (+ XI Century). His holy relics were uncovered during the time of Greatprince Vsevolod (1176-1212). In the year 1551 tsar Ivan the Terrible, before his campaign against Kazan, made the rounds of holy places. At the Theophany-Avramiev monastery the showed him that staff, with which the Monk Avramii had destroyed the idol of Veles. The tsar took the staff with him on the campaign, but the cross remained at the monastery. And returning again after the subjugation of the Kazan khanate, Ivan the Terrible gave orders to build at the Avramiev monastery a new stone church in honour of the Theophany, with four chapels, and he sent there books and icons.
The MonasticMartyress Anastasia the Roman in infancy lost her parents, and she was then taken under the care of the head of a women's monastery, named Sophia. The hegumeness raised Anastasia in fervent faith, in the fear of God and obedience. During these times there began the persecution against Christians by the emperor Decius (249-251). The city administrator, Probus, on the orders of the emperor commanded that Anastasia be brought to him. Having been blessed by her eldress-mentor for the deed of suffering for the Name of Christ, the young Martyress Anastasia humbly came out to meet the armed soldiers. Seeing her youth and beauty, Probus at first attempted by false flattery to tempt her and lead her into a renunciation of faith in Christ: "Why waste thine years, deprived of pleasure? What is there to gain in giving thyself over to tortures and death for the Crucified? Worship our gods, get thyself some handsome husband, and live in glory and honour". The saint steadfastly replied: "My Bridegroom, my riches, my life and my happiness -- is my Lord Jesus Christ, and with the threat of torments thou canst not part me from the Lord!" Fiercesome tortures were then begun. The holy martyress bravely endured them, glorifying and praising the Lord. In anger the torturers cut out her tongue. The people, seeing the inhuman and disgusting treatment of the saint, became indignant, and the governor of the city was compelled to bring the torture to a close, by beheading the martyress. The body of Saint Anastasia was thrown out beyond the city for devouring by wild animals, but the Lord did not permit that a mockery should be made with the holy remains. Learning of this through the Lord, the hegumeness Sophia found the torn body of the martyress, and with the help of two Christians she consigned it to earth.
The Monk Abraham the Hermit and Blessed Maria, his niece, asceticised in the village of Chidan, near the city of Edessa. They were contemporaries and of the same country together with the Monk Ephrem the Syrian (Comm. 28 January), who afterwards wrote about their life. The Monk Abraham began his difficult exploit of the solitary life in the prime of youth. He left his parental home and settled in a desolate wilderness place, far off from worldly enticements, and he spent his days in unceasing prayer. After the death of his parents, the saint refused his inheritance and requested his kinsmen to give it away to the poor. By his strict ascetic life, fasting and love for mankind, Abraham attracted to him many, seeking after spiritual light, prayer and blessing. Soon his faith was put to a serious test: he was appointed presbyter in one of the pagan villages of Mesopotamia. For three years, and sparing no efforts, the monk toiled over the enlightenment of the pagans. He tore down a pagan temple and built up a temple of God. Humbly enduring derision and even beating from obstinate idol-worshippers, in prayer he beseeched the Lord: "Look down, O Master, upon Thine servant, hearken unto my prayer, strengthen me and set free Thy servants from diabolical snares and grant them to know Thee, the One True God". The zealous pastor was granted the happiness to see the culmination of his righteous efforts: the pagans came to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the monk himself baptised them. Having fulfilled his priestly duty, Abraham again withdrew into his wilderness, where he continued to glorify God, and doing His holy will. The devil, put to shame by the deeds of the monk, tried to entrap him with proud thoughts. One time at midnight, when Saint Abraham was at prayer in his cell, suddenly there shone a light and a voice was heard: "Blessed art thou, blessed as is no one amongst mankind!" Confuting the wiles of the enemy, the saint said: "I -- am a sinful man, but I trust on the help and grace of my God and I fear thee not". Another time the devil appeared before the saint in the form of a youth, lighted a candle and began to sing the Psalm: "Blessed is the undefiled on the way that walketh in the law of the Lord". Perceiving, that this also was a demonic temptation, the elder crossed himself and asked: "If thou knowest, what be the undefiled blessed, then why troublest thou them?" The temptor answered: "I provoke them in order to conquer them and turn them away from every good deed". To this the saint replied: "Thou gainest victory over those fallen away from God through their will, but for those loving God thou dost vanish, like smoke in the wind". After these words the devil vanished. And thus did Saint Abraham defeat the enemy, strengthened by Divine grace. After fifty years of ascetic life he peacefully expired to the Lord (+ c. 360).
Saint Abraham's Niece, the Nun Maria, grew up being edified by his spiritual instruction. But the enemy of the race of man tried to turn her from the true path. At twenty-seven years of age she left her cell, went to another city and began to live dissolutely. Learning of this, the Monk Abraham donned himself in soldier's garb, so that he should not be recognised, and he set off to the city. He sought out his niece and brought her to repentance. The Nun Maria returned to her cell and spent all the rest of her days in prayer and tears of repentance. The Lord vouchsafed her the gift of healing the sick. She died five years after the Monk Abraham.
The Holy Martyrs Claudius, Asterias, Neones and Theonilla suffered for Christ in the year 285 in Cilicia, during the reign of the emperor Diocletian. After their father's death, the step-mother, not wanting to give the inheritance over to the children, betrayed them to the persecutors of Christians. The governor of Cilicia named Lysias at length urged the martyrs to renounce Christ and instead worship idols, and employing various means of torture. They crucified the unyielding brothers, and the sister after torture was thrown into the sea.
The PriestMartyr Zenobios, Bishop of Egeia, and his sister Zenobia suffered a martyr's death in the year 285 in Cilicia. From childhood they were raised in the holy Christian faith by their parents, and they led pious and chaste lives. In their mature years, shunning the love of money, they distributed away their wealth, an inheritance, giving it to the poor. For his beneficence and holy life the Lord rewarded Zenobios with the gift of healing various maladies. And he was chosen bishop of a Christian community in Cilicia.
In the dignity of bishop, Saint Zenobios zealously spread the Christian faith among the pagans. When the emperor Diocletian (284-305) began a persecution against Christians, Bishop Zenobios was the first one arrested and brought to trial to the governor Licius. "I shalt speak with thee but briefly, -- said Licius to the saint, -- for I propose to thee: life -- if thou worshipest our gods, or death -- if thou dost not". The saint answered: "This present life without Christ is death; better I prepare to endure the present torment for my Creator, and then with Him live eternally, than to renounce Him because of the present life, and then be tormented eternally in hades".
By order of Licius, they nailed him to a cross and began the torture. The sister of the bishop, seeing the suffering of her brother, wanted then to stop it with him. She bravely confessed her own faith in Christ afront the governor, for which she also was given over to torture.
By the power of the Lord they remained alive after torture on a red-hot cot and in a boiling kettle. The saints were then beheaded. Presbyter Hermogenes secretly buried the bodies of the martyrs.
The Holy Disciples from the Seventy: Tertius (Tercias), Mark, Justus and Artemis. Saint Tertius was the second bishop in succession (after the holy Disciple Sosipater) in Iconium, where he converted many pagans to Christ, and here he ended his life as a martyr. The Apostle Paul makes mention of him in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 16: 22). Saint Mark, he that was John, (Acts 12: 12), a nephew of the Disciple Barnabas, was bishop of Apolloniada (Col. 4: 10). It was in the house of his mother Maria that the persecuted disciples found shelter after the Ascension of the Lord. Saint Justus, called Barsaba, a son of Saint Joseph the Betrothed, was chosen in place of Judas, together with Matthias. He was a bishop and died a martyr's death at Eleutheropolis.
Saint Artemis was bishop of the Lycian city of Lystra, and he died peacefully.
The Holy PriestMartyr Marcian, Bishop of Syracuse, a disciple of the Apostle Peter, was sent to Sicily. Here he settled into a cave near the city of Syracuse and successfully spread the faith in Christ. He died a martyr. His relics are situated in the Italian city of Gaeta. (The PriestMartyr Marcian is the same person as Saint Marcellus, Bishop of Sicily, whose memory is 9 February).
The Martyress Eutropia suffered for Christ in Alexandria in about the year 250. Often visiting Christians locked up in prison, she encouraged them to the patient endurance of suffering. For this the saint was arrested. At her trial she firmly confessed her faith in Christ and she died after grievous tortures.
Saint Stefan (Stephen) Miliutin, King of Serbia, his brother Dragutin, and their mother Elena (Helen): Saint Stefan was the younger son of king Stefan Urosh I, and grandson of First-Crowned King Saint Stefan (Comm. 24 September). He ruled Serbia from 1275 to 1320. Stefan Miliutin received the throne from his elder brother Dragutin, a true Christian, who after a short reign transferred power over to his brother, and he himself in loving solitude withdrew to Srem, where he did secret ascetic deeds in a grave-pit, dug by his own hand. During his righteous life, Saint Dragutin toiled much over converting the heretic Bogomils to the true faith. His death occurred on 2 March 1316.
Saint Stefan Miliutin, having become king, bravely by both word and by deed, defended the Orthodox Serbs and other same-faith peoples from numerous enemies. Pious Stefan did not forget to thank the Lord for His beneficence. More than 40 churches were built by him, as also many monastery and vagrant hostels. The saint particularly concerned himself with the Athonite monasteries.
When the Serbian kingdom fell, the monasteries remained centres of national culture and Orthodoxy for the Serb nation. Saint Stefan died on 29 October 1320 and was buried at the Bansk monastery. After two years his undecayed relics were uncovered.
Saint Elena, the pious mother to her sainted sons, after the death of her husband devoted her whole life to pious deeds: she built a shelter for the impoverished, and constructed a monastery for those wanting to live in purity and virginity. Near the city of Spich she erected the Rechesk monastery and endowed it with the necessities. Before her death, Saint Elena accepted monasticism and expired to the Lord on 8 February 1306.
The Holy Disciples from the Seventy: Stakhios, Amplias, Urban, Narcissos, Apellias and Aristoboulos. The holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called ordained Stakhias to the dignity of bishop of Byzantium, where he was bishop for sixteen years, zealously preaching the Gospel of Christ and converting pagans to the true faith. Saint Amplias was bishop in the city of Diospolis; Saint Urban -- in Macedonia. They also were bishops by the consecration of the holy Apostle Andrew. For preaching the Gospel they were put to a martyr's death by Jews and pagan Greeks. Saint Narcissos was bishop in the city of Athens. Saint Apellias was bishop at Heraclium. About Saint Aristoboulos the account is situated under 16 March.
The Holy Martyr Epimakhos was a native of Egypt. For a long time he lived in seclusion on Mount Peleusis. During the time of a persecution against Christians at Alexandria (about the year 250), Saint Epimakhos in his fervent zeal came into the city, destroyed pagan idols, and fearlessly confessed the teaching of Christ. For this the saint was put to torture. Among the people watching the torture was a woman with infirmity of the eyes; a droplet of blood from the martyr healed her infirmity. After fierce tortures the saint was beheaded by the sword.
The Monks Spiridon and Nikodim, Prosphora-Makers of Pechersk, for 30 years fulfilled their obedience -- they baked prophora. The Monk Spiridon came to the monastery during the time of the hegumen Pimen (1132-1141), already no longer young a man. The ascetic combined his work with unceasing prayer and the singing of psalms. Even during his life the Monk Spiridon was glorified by miracles. An instance is known, when he extinguished his mantle which had caught fire from the oven -- the fire was put out, but the mantle remained whole. Saint Nikodim toiled together with the Monk Spiridon and led a very strict life. Their relics are located in the Antoniev Cave. The fingers of the right hand of the Monk Spiridon are positioned together three-fingered. Their memory is also 28 September and the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Nun Maura pursued asceticism at Tsargrad, where she founded a monastery, and at which she died in the V Century.