Daily Readings for Saturday, January 29, 2022



Removal of the Relics of Ignatius the God-bearer, Ignatius and Nicandrus of Sinai, Laurence the Recluse of the Kiev Caves, Gildas the Wise


Brethren, recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on the prisoners, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised. "For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry; but my righteous one shall live by faith.

MARK 9:33-41

At that time, Jesus and his disciples came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, “If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” John said to him, “Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.”

Translation of the relics of the Hieromartyr Ignatius, the Godbearer and Bishop of Antioch

The Transfer of the Relics of the Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer: (See December 20). After the holy hieromartyr Ignatius was thrown to the lions in the year 107 on the orders of the emperor Trajan, Christians gathered up his bones and preserved them at Rome.

Later, in the year 108, the saint’s relics were collected and buried outside the gate of Daphne at Antioch. A second transfer, to the city of Antioch itself, took place in the year 438. After the capture of Antioch by the Persians, the relics of the Hieromartyr Ignatius were returned to Rome and placed into the church of the holy Hieromartyr Clement in the year 540 (in 637, according to other sources).

Saint Ignatius introduced antiphonal singing into Church services. He has left us seven archpastoral epistles in which he provided instructions on faith, love and good works. He also urged his flock to preserve the unity of the faith and to beware of heretics. He encouraged people to honor and obey their bishops, “We should regard the bishop as we would the Lord Himself.” (To the Ephesians 6)

In his Letter to Polycarp, Saint Ignatius writes: “Listen to the bishop, if you want God to listen to you… let your baptism be your shield, your faith a helmet, your charity a spear, your patience, like full armor.” (Compare Eph. 6:14-17 and the Wisdom of Solomon 5:17-20. Also THE LADDER 4:2)

Saint Laurence, Recluse of the Kiev Caves, Far Caves, and Bishop of Turov

Saint Laurence, Hermit of the Caves and Bishop of Turov, in the Near Caves at first lived as a hermit at the monastery of the Great Martyr Demetrius, built by Great Prince Izyaslav at Kiev near the Monastery of the Caves. Later, he transferred to the Kiev Caves monastery, and was glorified by a gift of healing.

He was elevated to the See of Turov in 1182 (Turov is a city in the Minsk region), and was a successor of Saint Cyril of Turov (April 28). He died in 1194, and was buried in the Near Caves. His memory is celebrated also on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.

Saint Gerasimus, Bishop of Perm

Saint Gerasimus was the third bishop of the Zyryan people, and a worthy successor of Saint Stephen, Enlightener of Perm. He was elevated to the See of Perm sometime after the year 1416, when only part of the Zyryani had been converted to Christianity.

He was concerned for his flock, which suffered incessant incursions from the Novgorodians and pagan Vogulians. He went into the Vogul camps, urging them to stop plundering the defenseless Christians of Perm. On one of these journeys in 1441, he was murdered by his Vogul servant (according to tradition he was strangled with his omophorion). He was buried in the Annunciation church of the village of Ust-Vym not far from the city of Yarenga, at the River Vychegda (also January 24).

Today’s common commemoration of these three saints acknowledges their apostolic activity in this Eastern expanse of Russia. Saint Gerasimus is also commemorated on January 24.

Saint Pitirim, Bishop of Perm

Archimandrite Pitirim succeeded Saint Gerasimus as bishop of Great Perm and Ustiug. Even during his time the Voguli had not ceased attacking the peaceful Zyryani, the settlers of Perm. Bishop Pitirim stood up for his flock just as his predecessor had done.

In 1447 he personally appealed to the Great Prince to help the Zyryani. The saint often visited his flock, which was spread out over a wide territory, instructing them in the Word of God and assisting them in their misfortunes. He undertook long journeys to enlighten the pagan Voguli, during which his life was frequently in danger, and he had to endure all sorts of privation. The saint did not slacken his efforts, he enlightened and instructed people in their homes, in churches, and in the open places.

By his preaching he converted many of the Voguli who lived along the tributaries of the River Pechora, to Christianity. Because of this he aroused the terrible wrath of the leader of the Voguli, Asyk, who murdered the saint in a field as he was serving a Molieben. This occurred not far from Ust-Vym on August 19, 1455. Saint Pitirim compiled the Life of Saint Alexis and the Canon for the uncovering of his relics.

The relics of Saint Pitirim rest in the Annunciation temple in Ust-Vym (in Vologda district).

The common commemoration of these three saints acknowledges their apostolic activity in this Eastern expanse of Russia. Saint Pitirim is also commemorated on August 19.

Saint Jonah, Bishop of Perm

After Saint Pitirim, Saint Jonah ascended the throne of Perm. He converted to Christianity the remaining part of Great Perm, i.e. the pagan tribes living along the Rivers Vishera, Kama, Chusova and others. By his efforts the idols were eradicated and in their place churches were built. Experienced pastors were sent to teach the new converts at the church-run schools of Us-Vym.

Saint Jonah reposed on June 6, 1470. His relics rest together with the relics of Saints Gerasimus and Pitirim in the Annunciation temple in Ust-Vym (in Vologda district).

The commemoration in common of these three saints acknowledges their apostolic activity in this Eastern expanse of Russia. Saint Jonah is also commemorated on June 6.

Martyrs Romanus, Jacob (James), Philotheus, Hyperechius, Abibus, Julian, and Paregonius, at Samosata

The Holy Martyrs Romanus, James, Philotheus, Hyperichius, Habib, Julian and Parigoreas suffered in the year 297, during the persecution by Diocletian (284-305), in the city of Samosata (in Syria on the River Euphrates). They bravely denounced the senseless worship of idols, for which they were arrested and given over to various terrible tortures. Their bodies were scraped with iron, heavy iron fetters were hung around their necks, and they were locked up in prison. Finally, nails were driven into their heads while they were suspended on crosses.

Martyr Ashot Curapalati, King of of Artanuji

In the year 786, Ashot, the son of Adarnerse, ascended the throne of Kartli. From the very beginning of his reign he fought fiercely for the reunification of Georgia. His first step was to take advantage of the Arab Muslims’ weariness and banish them from Tbilisi.

Three years passed and, under the leadership of a new ruler, the reinvigorated Muslims began to hunt for Ashot. The king was forced to flee after he delayed taking action against them. The enemy had again conquered Tbilisi.

Ashot was compelled to leave Kartli, and he departed for Byzantium with his family and small army. The refugees journeyed as far as Javakheti in southern Georgia and stopped near Lake Paravani for a rest. But while they were sleeping, a Saracen army assailed their camp. The king’s army was doomed, but “God helped Ashot Kuropalates and his scant army. He bestowed power upon them, and they defeated an enemy that greatly outnumbered them.” The king was deeply moved by God’s miraculous intervention and decided that, rather than journeying on to Byzantium as he had intended, he would remain in the region of Shavshet-Klarjeti.

At that time southern Georgia was suffering great calamities. A cholera epidemic intensified the struggles of a people devastated by a ruthless enemy. Very few had survived, but that powerless and wearied remnant gladly received Ashot Kuropalates as their new leader, and the king began to restore the region at once.

Ashot Kuropalates restored Artanuji Castle, which had originally been built by King Vakhtang Gorgasali and later ravaged by the Arab general Marwan “the Deaf.” Ashot founded a city nearby and proclaimed it the residence of the Bagrationi royal family of Klarjeti. He also constructed a church in honor of Saints Peter and Paul. As it is written, “God granted Ashot Kuropalates great strength and many victories.”

The region of Klarjeti took on a new life, and through the efforts of Saint Grigol of Khandzta and his companions, the former wasteland was transformed into a borough bustling with churches, monasteries, and schools. Georgian noblemen soon began traveling to Klarjeti to forge their nation’s future with King Ashot and the other God-fearing leaders.

Ashot Kuropalates was not only a leader who campaigned vigorously for the unification of Georgia—he was truly a godly-minded man. With great honor and joy he was the host of Fr. Grigol of Khandzta, a “heavenly man and an earthly angel.” Fr. Grigol blessed Ashot’s kingdom and his inheritance.

Upon those who labored at Khandzta Monastery, Ashot Kuropalates bestowed the best lands, including Shatberdi, to serve as rural estates, which would supply food for the monastery. His children, Adarnerse, Bagrat, and Guaram, would later contribute much of their own fortune to the revival of the monasteries in the Klarjeti Wilderness. (Udabno in Georgian. Translated as “wilderness,” these deserted places where hermits made their abodes often attracted monks and pious laymen as the fame of these holy men spread. Over the centuries, with the foundation of numerous monasteries, these deserts became veritable cities and only retained the name “wilderness” in a figurative sense.)

But after some time the usually virtuous King Ashot fell in love with a certain woman. He forgot his honor, his achievements, and his loyalty to God and the nation and took her to Artanuji Castle, an estate that had been built for the queen. Saint Grigol, however, heard about the king’s adulterous relationship and became exceedingly sorrowful.

He confronted the king about his behavior, and the desperate Ashot promised to leave the woman, but he could not bring himself to fulfill his promise. So Fr. Grigol took her to Mere Monastery and turned her over to the abbess, Mother Pebronia, without telling Ashot. Upon hearing what had happened, King Ashot pleaded with Mother Pebronia to return the woman, but the abbess refused. At long last Ashot bowed his head to the nun and repented, saying, “Blessed is the man who is no longer alive to this world.”

The king rediscovered his love for God and his country, and he prepared to return to Kartli. But his plans were foiled when a certain Muslim warrior named Khalil invaded, conquering the lands of Kartli, Hereti, and Kvemo Kartli.

Ashot sent his men to assemble an army, but before the troops had been gathered, the Saracens attacked and forced them to flee. The king then traveled to Nigali Gorge with the intent of enlarging his army. Some of the draftees turned out to be traitors, and when the king discovered the betrayal, it was already too late. He hid in a church, but the godless men found him and stabbed him to death in the sanctuary. “They murdered him on the altar, as though slaughtering a sacrificial lamb, and his blood remains there to this day,” writes Sumbat, the son of Davit, in his book Lives of the Bagrationis.

Thus the first Bagrationi king, “a believer, upon whom the inheritance of the Georgian people was established,” was also a martyr. The Georgians took revenge on the murderers of their beloved king. When the people of Doliskana heard that Ashot had been killed, they pursued his murderers and killed them near the Chorokhi River. Venerable Grigol and the Georgian people wept bitterly over the loss of their king and hope. Saint Ashot’s holy relics were buried in the Church of Saints Peter and Paul that he himself had built.

Saint Ignatius, Wonderworker and Bishop of Smolensk

Saint Ignatius, Bishop of Smolensk and Wonderworker (+ ca. 1210): By some accounts, Saint Ignatius was the first bishop of Smolensk. He was a friend of Saint Abraham (August 21), whom he ordained to the priesthood. Bishop Ignatius was a kindly and pious Elder, heading the trial instigated by Saint Abraham’s enemies, at which the monk was acquitted.

Saint Ignatius founded a monastery in honor of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God. To him is ascribed the construction of the most ancient Avraamiev monastery in which he spent the remainder of his days, after resigning as bishop. At the death of Saint Ignatius a miracle occurred: “A great light came down from heaven upon him, and all were filled with fear.” The relics of the saint rest in the Smolensk cathedral church.

Saint Aphraates of Persia

Saint Aphraates, a Persian who came to believe in Christ, disavowed his illustrious lineage and left his pagan countrymen by going to Edessa, and then to Antioch. He attracted many by his holy life, and preached the Word of God to them. He died in the year 370.

Martyrs Sarbelus and Bebaia of Edessa

The Holy Martyr Sarbelus was a pagan priest who lived during the reign of the emperor Trajan (98-117) He and his sister Bebaia were converted by Barsimaius, the Bishop of Edessa. They both received the crown of martyrdom.

Saints Sarbelus and Bebaia are also commemorated on October 15.

New Martyr Demetrius

No information available at this time.

Saint Akepsimas the Martyr

No information available at this time.