12TH SUNDAY OF LUKE
12th Sunday of Luke, Veneration of Apostle Peter’s Precious Chains, Righteous Hierodeacon Makarios of Kalogeras, Romilo the Monk of Mount Athos, Nicholas the New-Martyr of Mytilene, Peusippos, Elasippos, and Mesippos the siblings, and their grandmother Neonilla
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE COLOSSIANS 3:4-11
Brethren, when Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all.
At that time, as Jesus entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’s feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus: “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him: “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
The Veneration of the Honorable Chains of the Holy and All-Praised Apostle Peter: In about the year 42, on the orders of Herod Agrippa, the Apostle Peter was thrown into prison for preaching about Christ the Savior. In prison he was held secure by two iron chains. During the night before his trial, an angel of the Lord removed these chains from the Apostle Peter and led him out from the prison (Acts 12:1-11).
Christians who learned of the miracle took the chains and kept them as precious keepsakes. For three centuries the chains were kept in Jerusalem, and those who were afflicted with illness and approached them with faith received healing. Patriarch Juvenal (July 2) presented the chains to Eudokia, wife of the emperor Theodosius the Younger, and she in turn transferred them from Jerusalem to Constantinople in either the year 437 or 439.
Eudokia sent one chain to Rome to her daughter Eudoxia (the wife of Valentinian), who built a church on the Esquiline hill dedicated to the Apostle Peter and placed the chain in it. There were other chains in Rome, with which the Apostle Peter was shackled before his martyrdom under the emperor Nero. These were also placed in the church.
On January 16, the chains of Saint Peter are brought out for public veneration.
Blessed Maximus, Priest of Totma, was for a certain time, a priest in the city of Totma in the Vologda diocese. For forty years he undertook the difficult exploit of foolishness for Christ, constantly in fasting and in prayer. Saint Maximus died in great old age on January 16, 1650 and was buried at the Resurrection church in which he served. The local veneration of the saint began in 1715, because of the numerous miracles occurring at his grave.
The Holy Martyrs Speusippus, Eleusippus, Meleusippus, and their grandmother Leonilla together with Neon, Turbo and Jonilla suffered in Gaul (by another account, in Cappadocia) in the second century, during the persecution under Marcus Aurelius (161-180).
Leonilla received Baptism in her old age from one of the disciples of Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, and she afterwards converted her three grandsons (who were triplets) to Christ. The brothers, in their zeal for the Lord, pulled down idols and reproached the pagans for their folly. The judge ordered Leonilla to go to the prison and tell her grandchildren to renounce Christ and worship the idols. Instead, she praised them for their bravery and their firm confession of faith. All three were hanged on a tree, then flogged. Finally, the martyrs were thrown into a fire, but their bodies were undamaged by the flames.
After the torture and death of her grandchildren, Saint Leonilla was beheaded with a sword. Saint Jonilla also suffered with her. She saw the steadfast faith of the holy martyrs and said that she too was a Christian. The torturers hung her up by the hair, lacerated her body, then beheaded her. She left behind her husband and young son.
Saint Neon witnessed the exploits of the holy brothers, and wrote an account of their sufferings. He gave his manuscript to Turbo, and openly confessed himself a Christian, for which he was fiercely beaten and died from his beating.
Saint Turbo, after he copied out the exploits of the passion-bearers, also ended his life by martyrdom. These martyrs are particularly revered in Spain, where many churches are dedicated to them. The relics of the holy martyrs were given by the Byzantine emperor Zeno to a French nobleman from the city of Langres, where they now rest.
The Holy Martyr Danax lived during the second century and served as reader at a church in Auleneia in Macedonia. During an invasion by pagans, the saint took the church vessels and intended to hide them, but he was seized by soldiers. Refusing to worship their loathsome idols, he was stabbed with a sword.
Saint Honoratus was born in Gaul (modern France) about 350, and came from a distinguished Roman family. After a pilgrimage to Greece and Rome, he became a hermit on the isle of Lerins, where he was joined by Saints Lupus of Troyes (July 29), Eucherius of Lyons (November 16), and Hilary of Arles (May 5), among others.
The saint depleted his youthful vigor through fasting and asceticism, and so “the powers of the body made way for the power of the spirit.” Though in poor health, he managed to follow the same rule of fasting and keeping vigil as those who were younger and stronger than he. He would visit the sick when he was even sicker than they were, offering consolation for body and soul. Then, fearing he had not done enough for them, he would review each case in his mind to determine how he could ease their suffering.
Adorned with virtues, Saint Honoratus treated a variety of spiritual diseases, freeing many from their enslavement to vice. His insight into each person’s character enabled him to apply the appropriate remedies for restoring souls to spiritual health.
Saint Honoratus died in 429 shortly after being consecrated as Bishop of Arles. Saint Hilary, his relative and successor, delivered a eulogy which still survives.
The Hieromartyr Damascene the New was born in the village of Gabrovo of the Trnovo diocese in Bulgaria. He left his home as a young man and went to the Hilandar monastery on Mount Athos. Over time, he was ordained deacon and priest, fulfilling various obediences in the monastery. Later he was chosen as the igumen.
Saint Damascene often journeyed to various places on monastery business. One day Father Damascene was sent to Svishtov [Svištov, in Serbian], Bulgaria to collect rent from a Moslem on some property owned by the monastery. To avoid paying the debt, the man sent a Moslem woman to the room where the saint was staying. Then he and others broke in and accused Father Damascene of impropriety. If he was found guilty, he could be put to death.
The kadi (judge) did not believe that Father Damascene was guilty of the charges, but since the other Moslems had given false testimony against him, the judge had to find him guilty. Before taking him to be executed, he was given the choice of being put to death, or of saving his life by converting to Islam. The saint replied, “I was born a Christian, and I shall die a Christian; for to deny Christ is to forfeit eternal life. It would be madness if I agreed to preserve this temporary life in exchange for eternal perdition. I am sorry for you if you do not understand this.”
Seeing that nothing would induce the saint to deny Christ and accept their religion, the Moslems brought him to the place of execution. Saint Damascene asked for some time to pray, and his request was granted. After completing his prayers he made the Sign of the Cross and told them that he was ready. The holy New Martyr Damascene was hanged at Svishtov on January 16, 1771, and received an incorruptible crown of glory from Christ.
The wrath of God was not slow in overtaking the evil-doers, however. After they put the saint to death they got into a boat to cross the Danube River, and the boat capsized in a storm, drowning them.
Saint Romilus the Hesychast was the disciple of Saint Gregory of Sinai (August 8). He was born in Vidin, Bulgaria of a Greek father and a Bulgarian mother. As a child, he possessed a maturity beyond his years, and disdained childish games and pursuits. His friends, and even his teacher, admired him for his learning and piety.
His parents wanted to marry him to a woman, but he longed for the monastic life. When he learned that they planned to force him into marriage, he fled to the Hodēgḗtria Monastery at Trnovo. The abbot accepted him and tonsured him with the name Romanus. From the beginning of his life as a monk, Romanus was known for his virtue and for his humility.
The monk Romanus, hearing of the monastery established by Saint Gregory of Sinai in the wilderness of Paroria, longed to dwell there. Although the abbot realized that the young man wished to live in a more remote area far from worldly distractions, he was reluctant to let him go. The desire of Romanus to go to Paroria grew stronger day by day. He spoke to the abbot again, and the Elder was grieved at the thought of losing the exemplary and well-loved Romanus. He realized, however, that keeping Romanus there might not be according to the will of God. Therefore, he blessed Romanus to depart, and gave him provisions for his journey.
Romanus traveled to Paroria with another monk named Hilarion and explained to Saint Gregory who they were and that they had come to be his disciples. Saint Gregory received them and assigned them to their obediences in the monastery. Since Hilarion was weaker, he was given lighter duties. Romanus, who was strong, received heavier labors. He would carry wood from the mountain, or sometimes stones. He also carried water from the river, and helped in the kitchen and in the bakery. He even tended the sick, who seemed to improve under his care. Seeing his humility, his cheerful obedience, and his piety, the other monks called him “Romanus the Good.”
Romanus received instruction in the spiritual life from Saint Gregory, who trained him to be a great ascetic. When Saint Gregory fell asleep in the Lord, Romanus grieved for him day and night. He did not wish to remain in that place without being subject to an Elder. He found another instructor who had already accepted Romanus’s fellow-traveler Hilarion as a disciple. Romanus subjected himself to this Elder, obeying him as he had obeyed Saint Gregory.
Because the three monks were assailed by robbers who deprived them of the necessities of life, they left Paroria and went back to Zagora. They settled at a place called Mogrin, about one day’s journey from Trnovo. For some reason, Romanus left the Elder to dwell in a remote place by himself. Hearing of the Elder’s death, he returned and fell upon his grave with tears, filled with regret that he had deserted his instructor. Then he fell at Hilarion’s feet and said, “Since I disobeyed the Elder’s order and left this place, I place myself under you from this day forward.” Hilarion, knowing that Romanus surpassed him in virtue, would not agree to this. Romanus insisted saying, “Unless you accept me under your authority, I shall not get up from the ground.” Seeing his great humility, Hilarion finally agreed to accept Romanus.
Hearing that the robbers had been subdued by Tsar Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria, Romanus and Hilarion decided to go back to Paroria, where they could live in solitude and contemplation. Later, Romanus was tonsured into the Great Schema with the name Romilus.
The incursions of the Moslems forced Romilus to return yet again to Zagora, where he built a hut in a remote place. Other monks in the area, through envy or jealousy, resented Romilus, so he traveled to Mt. Athos. There many monks came to him for spiritual counsel, and they disturbed his quietude. Fleeing human glory, he went from place to place until he came to Mt. Melana near Karyes. Even there, monks gathered around him, and he was able to console and instruct them for their profit. He taught them to wage war against the passions, and against the demons who seek the destruction of the soul. He also taught them to love God and their neighbor, seeking the good things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard (I Cor. 2:9).
Not only did he correct his own disciples, but sometimes an Elder would send his disciples to Saint Romilus for correction. He urged them not to question or contradict their Elder’s orders, but to obey him just as Christ obeyed the will of the Father (John 6:38). He warned them that those who refuse to submit to authority are easily led astray by the Enemy. He also urged the Elders to be gentle with their disciples, and to avoid harsh treatment.
Once again, the number of monks who sought spiritual conversation with him hindered his own spiritual struggles and prayer. Therefore, he moved to the northern part of Mt. Athos and built a cell where he could live in solitude. The more he fled worldly glory, however, the more this glory found him. When the location of his cell became known, they flocked to him just as before.
The Serbian despot John Ugljela was killed by the Turks at the Battle of Marica on September 26, 1371. This allowed the Moslems to attack Mt. Athos, so many of the monks (including Saint Romilus) fled to other places. Saint Romilus went to Valona in Albania. He thought that in this obscure place he would find solitude, but he was mistaken. Many monks and laymen came to him, afflicted with ignorance, enslaved to base passions, with no shepherd to guide them. Through his words and his example, he led many from darkness into the light of Christ.
Saint Romilus left Valona with his disciples and moved to Ravenica in Serbia, where there was a monastery dedicated to the Most Holy Theotokos. He settled near this place with his disciples. In 1375, he surrendered his soul to God and went to the heavenly Kingdom. It is said that his grave emitted an ineffable fragrance.
Even after his death, Saint Romilus performed great miracles, casting out demons, and healing all sorts of diseases and suffering. Through his holy prayers, may we obtain the forgiveness of our sins and great mercy from Christ our God, to Whom is due all glory, honor and worship, together with His unoriginate Father, and the Most Holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.