SATURDAY OF THE 12TH WEEK
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, DAIRY, EGGS
Daniel the Stylite of Constantinople, Luke the New Stylite of Chalcedon, Holy Martyrs Ascepsia and Aethal, Holy Martyrs Miracus and Barsabas, Leontios the Righteous of Monemvasia, The Glorious King Nikephoros Phokas
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS 1:3-10
Brethren, grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father; to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel – not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel of heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ.
The Lord said this parable, "The kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches." And again he said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened." He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. And some one said to him, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And he said to them, "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, open to us.' He will answer you, 'I do not know where you come from.' Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' But he will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!' There you will weep and gnash your teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God.
Saint Daniel the Stylite was born in the village of Bethara, near the city of Samosata in Mesopotamia. His mother Martha was childless for a long while and in her prayers she vowed that if she had a child, she would dedicate him to the Lord. Her prayers were heard, and Martha soon gave birth to a son, who was without a name until he was five years of age.
The boy’s parents desired that since he was born through the good-will of God, he should also receive his name from God. They took their son to a monastery located nearby and approached the igumen. The igumen gave orders to take down one of the service books, and unrolled it at random. He found the Prophet Daniel (December 17) mentioned in it. Thus did the boy receive his name. The parents asked that he might remain at the monastery, but the igumen would not accept him, since he was still only a small boy. At twelve years of age, saying nothing to anyone, the child left home for the monastery.
His parents were happy when they learned where their son was, and they went to the monastery. Seeing that he was still going about in his worldly clothes, they besought that the igumen should clothe him in the angelic garb. That Sunday the igumen fulfilled their request, but permitted them often to visit their son. The brethren of the monastery were astonished at the saint’s ascetical efforts.
Once, Saint Simeon the Stylite (September 1) visited the monastery. He foretold to the young monk that he too would undertake the feat of pillar-dwelling. Saint Daniel continued with his ascetic life in seclusion. When the place of a new exploit was revealed to him in a vision, he withdrew into the Thracian wilderness together with two disciples. They set up a pillar, upon which Saint Daniel dwelt for 33 years. People thronged to the pillar, the unfortunate and those who were sick, and all received help and healing from Saint Daniel. Byzantine emperors also sought the prayers of the holy ascetic. The most notable of the saint’s predictions was about a great fire in Constantinople. Saint Daniel possessed also the gift of gracious words. He guided many onto the path of correcting their lives. The monk reposed in his eightieth year.
Saint Nikon the Dry, the son of rich and illustrious parents, gave up everything for Christ and became a monk at the Kiev Caves monastery. In the year 1096, during the incursions of Khan Bonyak, he was taken into captivity with some other monks. The captors treated Saint Nikon harshly, while waiting for a ransom to be paid. When the saint refused to be ransomed, his masters began to torment him with hunger, and left him exposed in the heat of summer and the cold of winter. He was mistreated and beaten every day for about three years, for his captors thought he would change his mind and send word to his relatives, asking to be ransomed.
The saint gave thanks to God for everything, and once said to his tormentor that the Lord, through the prayers of Saints Anthony and Theodosius would return him to his monastery within three days, as Saint Eustratius (March 28) had predicted while appearing to him.
The captor cut the tendons in Saint Nikon’s legs and set a strong guard over him. But suddenly, on the third day at the sixth hour, the holy captive became invisible. At the moment the guard heard the words, “Praise the Lord from the Heavens” (Ps. 148).
Saint Nikon was transported to the Dormition church, where the Divine Liturgy was being served. The brethren surrounded him and began to ask how he got there. Saint Nikon wanted to conceal the miracle, but the brethren implored him to tell the truth.
Saint Nikon did not want to have his fetters removed, but the igumen said, “If the Lord had wanted you to remain fettered, He would not have delivered you from captivity.”
After a long while Saint Nikon’s former master came to the Kiev Caves monastery and recognized his former captive, who was withered from hunger and the loss of blood from his wounds. He came to believe in Christ, and accepted Baptism. After receiving monastic tonsure, he became a novice under Saint Nikon’s direction.
Saint Nikon died at the beginning of the twelfth century and was buried in the Near Caves. Though he did not enjoy good health in this life, his holy relics were glorified by incorruption. His memory is celebrated also on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.
The Holy Martyr Mirax was born into a Christian family living in the city of Tanis (Egypt) during the seventh century. He was raised in piety, but yielded to demonic temptation and trampled on a cross. He went to the Emir, the ruler of Egypt, and taking his sword in hand, he declared himself a Moslem.
His parents, grieving over the terrible downfall of their son, incessantly prayed for him. And then the grace of God illumined the heart of the prodigal. He deeply repented and returned home. His parents counselled him to acknowledge his fall into darkness and to show his repentance. Saint Mirax obeyed them. He went before the Emir and announced that he had become a Christian once more. The ruler condemned him to tortures, after which the saint was beheaded and cast into the sea (this occurred around the year 640).
The Holy Martyrs Akepsimas and Aithalas were from Persia. Akepsimas was a pagan priest in the city of Arbel. Having received healing through the prayers of a Christian bishop, he was converted to the faith in Christ and boldly confessed it. For this they threw Saint Akepsimas into prison.
Soon after, Saint Aithalas, a deacon of the Arbel Church, was imprisoned with him. They brought the martyrs before the ruler, where they again confessed their faith and were beheaded.
Saint Luke the New Stylite was a soldier under the Byzantine emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitos (912-959). During a war with Bulgaria (917), Saint Luke remained unharmed through the Providence of God. After this he became a monk, and having succeeded in his efforts, was ordained as a presbyter. Striving for an even higher degree of perfection, the monk put chains upon himself and ascended a pillar.
After three years standing on the pillar, through divine inspiration, he went to Mount Olympos, and then to Constantinople, and finally to Chalcedon, where he chose a pillar upon which he remained for 45 years, manifesting a gift of wonderworking. He died in about the year 980.
Having examined the history of Georgia and the hagiographical treasures attesting to the faith of the Georgian nation, we become convinced that Heavenly Georgia— the legion of Georgian saints, extolling the Lord in the Heavenly Kingdom with a single voice—is infinitely glorious. It is unknown how many cleansed themselves of their earthly sins in merciless warfare with the enemy of Christ, or how many purified their souls in unheated cells through prayer, fasting, and ascetic labors.
To God alone are known the names of those ascetics, forgotten by history, who by their humble labors tirelessly forged the future of the Georgian Church and people.
St. George of the Holy Mountain wrote: “From the time we recognized the one true God, we have never renounced Him, nor have our people ever yielded to heresy.”
A decree of the Church Council of Ruisi-Urbnisi states: “We will not depart from thee, the Catholic Church which bore us in holiness, nor will we betray thee, our pride—Orthodoxy—to which we have always been faithful, for we have been granted the honor to know thee, the witness of the Truth Itself!” This relationship to Orthodoxy is the cornerstone of the life of every Georgian believer.
It is impossible to count the names of all those Christians who have been raised up from the earthly Church in Georgia to the heavens, let alone to describe all the godly deeds they have performed. For this reason December 11 has been set aside for the commemoration not only of the saints whose Lives are known to us but also of the nearly three hundred more whose names, but not stories, have been preserved as well.
Most Georgian people bear the name of a saint who is commemorated on this day, and they entreat the saint to intercede before the Lord in their behalf.