AFTERFEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR IN THE TEMPLE
Afterfeast of the Presentation of Our Lord and Savior in the Temple, The Synaxis of the Holy and Righteous Symeon the God-Receiver and the Holy Prophetess Anna, Stamatios, John, & Nicholas, New Martyrs of Spetses, Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos , Nicholas, Archbishop & Enlightener of Japan, Ansgar of Hamburg-Bremen, Werburga
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE HEBREWS 9:11-14
BRETHREN, when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
At that time, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Symeon and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, "Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel." And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Symeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed." And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Afterfeast of the Meeting of our Lord in the Temple
On this first day of the Afterfeast of the Meeting of the Lord, the Church commemorates the righteous Simeon and Anna the prophetess. The following words are ascribed to Christ in Ode 9 of the Canon: “I am not held by the Elder; it is I Who hold him, for he asks Me for forgiveness.”
Holy, Righteous Simeon the God-Receiver
Righteous Simeon the God-Receiver was, according to the testimony of the holy Evangelist Luke, a just and devout man waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him (Luke 2:25). God promised him that he would not die until the promised Messiah, Christ the Lord, came into the world.
Ancient historians tell us that the Egyptian pharaoh Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-247 B.C.) wished to include texts of Holy Scripture in the famous Library at Alexandria. He invited scholars from Jerusalem, and the Sanhedrin sent their wise men. The Righteous Simeon was one of the seventy scholars who came to Alexandria to translate the Holy Scriptures into Greek. The completed work was called “The Septuagint,” and is the version of the Old Testament used by the Orthodox Church.
Saint Simeon was translating a book of the Prophet Isaiah, and read the words: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a Son” (Is 7:14). He thought that “virgin” was inaccurate, and he wanted to correct the text to read “woman.” At that moment an angel appeared to him and held back his hand saying, “You shall see these words fulfilled. You shall not die until you behold Christ the Lord born of a pure and spotless Virgin.”
From this day, Saint Simeon lived in expectation of the Promised Messiah. One day, the righteous Elder received a revelation from the Holy Spirit, and came to the Temple. It was on the very day (the fortieth after the Birth of Christ) when the All-Pure Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph had come to the Temple in order to perform the ritual prescribed by Jewish Law.
When Saint Simeon beheld their arrival, the Holy Spirit revealed to him that the divine Child held by the All-Pure Virgin Mary was the Promised Messiah, the Savior of the world. The Elder took the Child in his arms and said, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).
There is a Christian epigram (Number 46) in “The Greek Anthology” which is addressed to Saint Simeon. It tells the righteous Elder to receive the Child Who was born before Adam, and Who will deliver Simeon from this life and bring him to eternal life. A similar idea is expressed in the Aposticha (Slavic use) for the Forefeast of the Nativity of the Lord (December 24). There the Mother of God refers to her Son as “older than ancient Adam.”
Simeon blessed the All-Pure Virgin and Saint Joseph, and turning to the Mother of God he said, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against. Yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35).
The holy Evangelist continues: “And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Aser. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband for seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not leave the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming at that very hour, also gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption at Jerusalem” (Luke 2:36-38).
The holy righteous Simeon the God-Receiver died at a great age (Tradition says he was 360). His holy relics were transferred to Constantinople in the sixth century. His grave was seen by the Russian pilgrim Saint Anthony, the future Archbishop of Novgorod (October 8) in 1200.
Holy, Righteous Anna the Prophetess
According to Saint Luke’s Gospel, “And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Aser. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband for seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not leave the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming at that very hour, also gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption at Jerusalem” (Luke 2:36-38).
Right-Believing Prince Roman of Uglich
The Holy Right-Believing Prince Roman of Uglich, son of Prince Vladimir and Princess Photina of Uglich, and nephew of Saint Basil (Basilko) of Rostov (March 4), was born on October 1, 1235. Upon the death of his father (in 1248) and his older brother Andrew (in 1261), Saint Roman, at the age of twenty-six, took upon himself the governance of Uglich and became a father to his subjects.
He established a poor-house and took in the destitute, who came to him from everywhere. In the principality he built fifteen more churches. Saint Roman was present every day at the divine services, and he often conversed with pious monks.
After the death of his wife in 1280, he devoted himself entirely to ascetic exploits of fasting, prayer and works of righteousness. He built the city Romanov (now Tutaev) on the high bank of the Volga. The holy prince died peacefully on February 3, 1285 and was buried in the Church of the Transfiguration in Uglich.
In 1486, the relics of Saint Roman were found to be incorrupt and were transferred into the new cathedral Church of the Transfiguration. In the year 1595 with the blessing of Patriarch Job in consequence of the fame concerning miracles the relics were witnessed to by the Metropolitan (later Patriarch) Saint Hermogenes (February 17), and Saint Roman was numbered among the saints. In 1609, the holy relics were burned along with the church during an invasion by the Poles.
The Holy Prophet Azariah1 was son of Oded (or Addo) and lived during the reign of King Asa (910-870 B.C. See 2 Chronicles 15:1) who was the son and successor of Abijah in the kingdom of Judah. Azariah came from the land of Sembatha and urged the people not to worship false “gods,” but to remain faithful to the Covenant with the Lord.
Asa worshiped the one true God, and removed the altars of foreign “gods” from his land, tearing down the pillars and cutting down their sacred groves. He told the people to seek earnestly the God of their fathers, and to obey the Law and the Commandments. After removing the pagan altars and idols from all the cities of Judah he commanded his people to fortify their cities with walls and towers.
King Asa had 300,000 warriors in Judah, and 280,000 mighty warriors in the land of Benjamin. According to the narratives of 2 Chronicles chapters 14 and 15, Zerah the Ethiopian2 went out against Judah with a million men.
Asa prayed fervently to God, asking that he might prevail, even against such overwhelming odds. The Lord smote the Ethiopians and Asa’s army pursued them and crushed them. He destroyed their towns and pillaged their cities, and then he returned to Jerusalem.
After King Asa had won the victory, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Azariah. He went out to meet Asa and said, “Hear me, King Asa, and all the people of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The Lord will be with you as long as you are with Him, worshiping His name and observing His commandments. When you seek Him you will find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will also forsake you.” These words ought to be esteemed by every State and by all people.
The Prophet Azariah reposed in peace and was buried in his field. In iconography he is depicted as an old man with curly hair. The name Azariah means “whom God helps.”
1 It is said that Azariah was actually son of Ananias (Tobit 5:12); perhaps an error for Zachariah the son of Addo (1 Esdras 6:1).
2 Zerah is a Hebrew name, and is not Ethiopian or Egyptian, as some have said.
Martyrs Papias, Diodorus and Claudianus, at Perge in Pamphylia
Saint Papias was martyred with Saints Claudianus and Diodorus at Perge, Pamphylia in 250.
Saint Savva of Ioannina
It is not known where Saint Savva was born. He lived a life of asceticism in the Holy Monastery of the Honorable Forerunner on an island in the lake of Ioannina around the middle of the XV century. He was the Spiritual Father of Saints Nektarios (+ 1550) and Theophanes (+ 1544), who were descended from the distinguished Apsaras family of the Byzantine Empire. They are commemorated jointly on May 17.
Saint Savva was the son of an aristocratic family, and from an early age he loved the poverty of Jesus Christ. Until his last breath, he lived as a humble and poor hermit. No one ever saw him angry, judgmental, or as a person who remembered wrongs. His heart overflowed with humility, concerning which he himself said: “Humility is the solid and indestructible cornerstone upon which the spiritual life is built.”
He was a hechycast, and his ascetical life was very strict. He prayed every night until morning. His food was plain, and he ate very little. No meat, fish, or cheese ever appeared on his table, and he never poured a drop of oil on his food.
Saint Savva reposed peacefully in 1505. When he delivered his soul to the Lord, an inexpressible fragrance arose from the tabernacle of his body. The saint was buried in the monastery of Honorable Forerunner. A holy relic of the saint is kept and revered in the Roussanou Monastery of the Transfiguration at Meteora.
Martyr Adrian at Caesarea, Cappadocia
Saint Adrian of Baneas of Caesarea in Cappadocia. suffered martyrdom under Governor Firmilianus. He was put to death by the sword, but entered into eternal life.
Martyr Eubulus at Caesarea, Cappadocia
Saint Eubulus, like Saint Adrian, was from Baneas, in Caesarea of Cappadocia. He went to Caesarea to visit Christians in prison, and was arrested by Governor Firmilianus. He was thrown to the wild beasts, and thereby received the crown of martyrdom.
Martyr Blaise of Caesarea, in Cappadocia
Saint Blaise of Caesarea lived in the third century. He was from Caesarea in Cappadocia (Asia Minor) and was a shepherd.
When a persecution against Christians began, Saint Blaise surrendered himself into the hands of the torturers. They subjected him to torture, and beat him with leather thongs, but the Lord healed his wounds. They then threw Blaise into a cauldron of boiling water, but he remained there unharmed. The pagan soldiers, seeing this miracle, came to believe in Christ.
The governor, wishing to show that the martyr remained unharmed because the water had cooled, jumped into the cauldron and died.
Having brought many to faith in Christ, Saint Blaise peacefully surrendered his soul to God. They thrust the saint’s shepherd’s staff into the ground, and it grew up into a large tree, which covered with its branches a church built over his relics.
Saint Simeon, Bishop of Polotsk and Tver
Saint Simeon, Bishop of Tver was descended from the Polotsk princes. He was the seventh bishop of Polotsk and the first bishop of the Tver diocese. The saint’s cathedra was first at Polotsk, but hostile attacks and conflicts with the Lithuanian princes, and the murder of the Polotsk prince (his relative) in 1263, compelled him to move to Tver (Prince Yaroslav Yaroslavich had become Great Prince of Russia, and he chose Tver as his ruling city).
Saint Simeon was well-disposed and kind to the down-trodden and destitute, attentive to the monastic and priestly orders, and a zealous defender of truth.
The Nikonov Chronicle relates that this holy bishop was “knowledgeable about medicine, and well versed in the books of Holy Scripture; he was a teacher, a virtuous man, concerned for the needy, widows and orphans, a defender of the down-trodden and deliverer of the oppressed.”
History preserves for us a conversation of Saint Simeon with Prince Constantine of Polotsk who, wishing to make a jest about his court, asked the saint at supper: “Where shall the courts be in that world?” Simeon answered, “Those courts shall also be where the prince is.”
The prince did not care for this, and he said, “A court might judge unjustly, and take bribes, or torture people, and is it I who do the harm?” The bishop explained to him, “If a prince is good and God-fearing, and is concerned for the people, and loves truth and he appoints good, God-fearing, intelligent and truth-loving men to his council, that prince shall be in Paradise and his court with him. If, however, a prince is without the fear of God, and is not concerned for Christians and does not think of orphans and widows, and if he appoints wicked counselors who lack integrity in order to bring him money, that prince shall be in Hell and his court with him.”
Saint Simeon died on February 3, 1289.
Saint Jacob, Archbishop of Serbia
No information available at this time.