The Finding of the Precious Relics of the Holy Martyrs in the Quarter of Eugenius, Our Righteous Fathers Thalassius and Baradatus, Anthousa the Martyr & her 12 Servants
ST. JOHN’S FIRST UNIVERSAL LETTER 3:9-22
BRETHREN, no one born of God commits sin; for God's nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God. By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, and not be like Cain who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. Do not wonder, brethren, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Any one who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But if any one has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth, and reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask.
At that time, Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray Jesus to them. And when they heard it they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him. And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the passover?” And he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the householder, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I am to eat the passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the passover. And when it was evening he came with the twelve. And as they were at table eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful, and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. For the Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said vehemently, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. And they went to a place which was called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time, and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come; the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
During the persecutions against Christians the relics of the holy martyrs were usually buried by believers in hidden places. So at Constantinople, near the gates and tower in the Eugenius quarter, the bodies of several martyrs were found. Their names remain unknown by the Church.
When miracles of healing began to occur at this spot, the relics of the saints were discovered and transferred to a church with great honor. It was revealed to a certain pious clergyman, Nicholas Kalligraphos, that among the relics discovered at Eugenius were the relics of the holy Apostle Andronicus of the Seventy and his helper Junia (May 17), whom the Apostle Paul mentions in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom 16:7). In the twelfth century, a great domed church was built on the spot where the relics of the holy martyrs were discovered. This work was undertaken by the emperor Andronicus (1183-1185), whose patron saint was the holy Apostle Andronicus.
Saint Maurice, a military commander of Syrian Apamea, suffered in the year 305 under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311) together with his son Photinus and seventy soldiers under his command (only two of the soldiers’ names are known, Theodore and Philip).
During a persecution, pagan priests reported to the emperor that Saint Maurice was spreading the faith in Christ. Brought to trial, Saint Maurice, his son and his soldiers firmly confessed their faith and they yielded neither to entreaties nor to threats. They were then beaten without mercy, burned with fire and raked with iron hooks. Young Photinus, having endured the tortures, was beheaded by the sword before the very eyes of his father. But this cruel torment did not break Saint Maurice, who was happy that his son had been vouchsafed the martyr’s crown.
They then devised even more subtle tortures for the martyrs: they led them to a swampy place full of mosquitoes, wasps and gnats, and they tied them to trees, having smeared their bodies with honey. The insects fiercely stung and bit the martyrs, who were weakened by hunger and thirst.
The saints endured these torments for ten days, but they did not cease praying and glorifying God until finally the Lord put an end to their sufferings. The wicked torturer gave orders to behead them and leave their bodies exposed without burial, but Christians secretly buried the venerable relics of the holy martyrs by night at the place of their horrible execution.
Saint Thalassius of Syria lived during the fifth century. At a young age he withdrew to a hill near the village of Targala and passed 38 years there in monastic deeds, having neither a roof over his head, nor any cell nor shelter.
For his simple disposition, gentleness and humility he was granted by the Lord the gift of wonderworking and healing the sick. Many wanted to live under his guidance, and the saint did not refuse those coming to him. He himself built cells for them. He died peacefully, granted rest from his labors.
Saint Limnaeus began his efforts under the guidance of Saint Thalassius and dwelt with him for a sufficient time to acquire the virtues of his teacher: simplicity of manner, gentleness and humility. Then Saint Limnaeus joined Saint Maron (February 14).
On a hill he built a small stone enclosure without a roof, and through a small aperture, he conversed with those who came to see him. His heart was full of compassion for people. Wanting to help all the destitute, he built a wanderers’ home on the hillside with the help of his admirers, a dwelling for the poor and the crippled, and he fed them with what pious people brought him.
The holy ascetic even sacrificed his own quiet and solitude for these poor brethren, and took upon himself the responsibility for for their spiritual nourishment, inducing them to pray and glorify the Lord. For his holy life he was granted the gift of wonderworking. He once cured himself of a snakebite through prayer.
Saint Baradates the Syrian began to live as a desert-dweller in a hut near Antioch. He then built a stone cell upon a hill, so cramped and low that the ascetic could stand in it only in a stooped position. It had neither window nor door, and the wind, rain and cold came in through the cracks, and in summer he was not protected from the heat.
After many years Patriarch Theodoretos of Alexandria urged the monk to leave the cramped hut. Then the saint withdrew into a new seclusion: covered in leather from head to foot with a small opening for his nose and mouth, he prayed standing with hands upraised to heaven. The grace of God strengthened him in his works and purified his heart from passions. People began to flock to him for spiritual counsel, and Saint Baradates with deep humility guided them. Having acquired many spiritual gifts, Saint Baradates departed to the Lord in peace in 460.
Saint Athanasius the Confessor was born in Constantinople of rich and pious parents. From his childhood he dreamed of devoting himself entirely to God, and having reached maturity, he settled in one of the Nicomedia monasteries, called the Pavlopetrios (i.e., in the names of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul), and became a monk there.
The loftiness of his ascetic life became known at the imperial court. During the reign of the iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820), Saint Athanasius was subjected to torture for venerating icons, and then underwent exile, grief and suffering. Confessing the Orthodox Faith until the very end of his life, Saint Athanasius died peacefully in the year 821.
Many centuries ago, the village of Kola was located at the source of the Mtkvari River. There Christians and pagans dwelt together as neighbors. Christian and pagan children would play together, but when the Christian children heard church bells ringing, they recognized the call to prayer and dropped their games. Nine pagan children—Guram, Adarnerse, Baqar, Vache, Bardzim, Dachi, Juansher, Ramaz, and Parsman—would follow the Christian children to church.
But the Christians always stopped them near the gates of the church and reprimanded them, saying, “You are children of pagans. You cannot enter God’s holy house.” They would return sorry and dejected.
One day the nine pagan children tried to enter the church forcibly, but they were cast out and scolded. “If you want to enter the church, you must believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” they were told. “You must receive Holy Communion and join the community of Christian believers.”
With great joy the youths promised the Christians that they would receive Holy Baptism. When the Christians of Kola related to their priest the good news of the pagan boys’ desire, he recalled the words of the Gospel: He that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that takes not his cross, and follows after Me, is not worthy of Me. (Matt. 10:37-38).
He was not afraid of the anger that would follow from the pagan community, but rather took the boys on a cold winter night and baptized them in the icy river. A miracle occurred while the Holy Sacrament was being celebrated: the water became warm and angelic hosts appeared to the youths. Greatly encouraged in their faith, the children decided to remain in the Christian community rather than return to their parents.
When their parents learned that they had been baptized in the Christian Faith, they dragged their children away from the church, abusing and beating them into submission all the way home. The heroic children endured the abuses and, though they went hungry and thirsty for seven days, repeated again and again, “We are Christians and will not eat or drink anything that was prepared for idols!”
Neither gentle flattery, nor costly clothing, nor promises of good things to come could tempt the God-fearing youths. Rather they asserted, “We are Christians and want nothing from you but to leave us alone and allow us to join the Christian community!”
The enraged parents went and reported to the prince everything that had happened. But the prince was of no help—he simply told them, “They are your children, do with them as you wish.” The obstinate pagans asked the prince permission to stone the children. So a large pit was dug where the youths had been baptized, and the children were thrown inside.
“We are Christians, and we will die for Him into Whom we have been baptized!” proclaimed the holy martyrs, the Nine Children of Kola, before offering up their souls to God.
Their godless parents took up stones, and then others joined in, until the entire pit had been filled. They beat the priest to death, robbed him, and divided the spoils among themselves.
The martyric contest of the Nine Righteous Children of Kola occurred in the 6th century, in the historical region of Tao in southern Georgia.
As widely reported, 2017 marked the 100th Anniversary of the Election and Enthronement of Saint Tikhon as Patriarch of Moscow during the All-Russian Church Council. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and a delegation representing the Orthodox Church in America departed for Moscow on Thursday, November 30, 2017 to participate in the celebration of this ever-memorable occasion that directly relates to the life of the Church in Russia and America, inasmuch as Saint Tikhon served as Bishop and later Archbishop of North America from 1898 until 1907, when he returned to his homeland.
2017 also marked the 25th Anniversary of the discovery and recovery of the relics of Saint Tikhon, which were secured after his death in Moscow's Donskoy Monastery.
Saint Patriarch Tikhon fell asleep in the Lord on April 7, 1925. He had suffered greatly during the years of turmoil and persecution that followed the Russian Revolution. He was laid to rest in the monastery's small "winter" cathedral. Subsequently the monastery was closed and repurposed, and the relics of Saint Tikhon were moved for safe keeping.
The Donskoy Monastery subsequently was returned to the Church and has been restored. It was on Saturday, February 22, 1992, that Saint Tikhon's relics were discovered, hidden deep beneath the floor of the small cathedral.
Just weeks before this joyous event, Protopresbyter Daniel Hubiak, together with Matushka Dunia, had arrived in Moscow as the Orthodox Church in America's first Representative to the Russian Orthodox Church. Little did they realize at the time that they would be witnesses to the recovery of Saint Tikhon's relics on that cold February afternoon.
Both Father Daniel and Matushka Dunia wrote first-hand accounts of the discovery of Saint Tikhon's relics, now enshrined in the Donskoy Monastery's main cathedral.
In conjunction with the Anniversary of Saint Tikhon's Enthronement in 1917, we offer the Hubiaks' accounts of the discovery of Saint Tikhon's relics.
Account of Matushka Dunia Hubiak
It is Saturday, February 22, 1992, in Moscow. Father Dan and I are living at the Danilovsky Hotel. We arrived in Moscow a month ago for Father Dan to begin his new assignment as Representative of the Orthodox Church in America to the Russian Orthodox Church (The Moscow Patriarchate).
Because no church was yet designated as our Representation Church, Father Dan would call Father Matfey Stadniuk on Saturday mornings to be told where he was to be for the Vigil and Divine Liturgy that weekend (usually at the Patriarchal Cathedral). This Saturday morning (February 22) Father Matfey could not be reached. Finally, around noon he answered the phone and told Father Dan to be at the Donskoy Monastery for a special service at 2:00 p.m.
The receptionists at the hotel (who were always very helpful) ordered a car and driver for us, and off we were to the Donskoy Monastery. Upon our arrival at the main gate of the monastery, a mass of people, including clergy of all ranks, was gathering. A sense of excitement permeated the scene.
What could all of this mean?
We arrived at the winter church and saw more people, clergy and TV cameras! Father Dan was separated from me to join the clergy – I was left behind. At that time, a month after arriving in Moscow, my linguistic ability was almost nonexistent, so I was unable to ask anyone anything. So I stood there, trying to not get squeezed trying to see. We were standing around what looked like a crypt in the vestibule.
Patriarch Aleksy entered and began the service. More and more people crowded into the space, and again I was pushed to the side, unable to see. However, I could still hear, and to my astonishment I discovered that we were standing at the tomb of the recently canonized Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia – in many ways OUR Patriarch whom we commemorate as “the Enlightener of North America.”
The Molieben service began and the coffin was opened. I made my way to a side of the area and found a chair on which I stood. When the reality dawned on me as to what was taking place, I was very much moved and could hardly see because of my tears.
After most of the crowd had pushed and shoved its way to the side, I was able to look down and found the Mantia still intact with the eagles on the shoulders and at the hem.
Father Dan was given a piece of wood from the casket.
Just think! If Father Dan had not reached Father Matfey, who was in his office all of two minutes, we would have missed this once in a lifetime experience!
Account of Father Daniel Hubiak
At the end of the meeting of the Permanent Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksy was informed that the grave of Saint Tikhon had been found in the smaller Cathedral of Our Lady of the Don in the Donskoy Monastery. The Patriarch immediately went to the site and arranged for the opening of the casket at a special service at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 22, 1992.
The top of the simple wooden casket was removed, revealing the mantia which covered the body of the saint. Two gold brocaded emblems on the mantia were shining as new. His Holiness said that the green patriarchal mantia was special in that it was one of only three made with that material and special style. The stones in the cross of the Saint’s miter glistened as camera lights flashed.
A Molieben was sung. Patriarch Aleksy spoke of the significance of this discovery and stated that a crypt will be made for the Saint’s relics.
The discovery of the Saint’s grave was miraculous. Three different rumors pointed to the improbability of ever finding the remains of the Saint. One version had it that the remains of the Saint had been cremated, another that he was buried in an unmarked grave in one cemetery, another that his remains were in another, unidentified cemetery. The Church had no plans of trying to find the grave.
A fire at the smaller Cathedral of Our Lady of the Don made it necessary to undertake an extensive renovation of the church. In the process of this renovation, a grave marker was found, but there was no body under the stone. It was thought that perhaps the burial place was to one side or another of the stone. A search of the area proved fruitless. But under the stone was a large heating pipe that appeared to be intact. An archeological expert examined the site and noticed that in fact the pipe, not detectable to the untrained eye, had indeed been disturbed. The pipe was removed and beneath it, covered by earth, was a grave vault. The vault was opened and the casket of Saint Tikhon was discovered there. On the casket was a plaque identifying it as the casket of the Saint. Those who buried the Saint took special pains to keep his body and his burial place secure and safe.
The finding of the Saint’s grave was a miracle. The presence of the Representative of the OCA at the opening of the grave was another sign of God’s providence. By chance I had called Father Matrfey Stadniuk to discuss the schedule of services for the weekend. He was in his office for only for a few minutes – and that was when I called. He told me to be at the Donskoy Monastery for a Molieben. It appears that the person who was to have informed me simply forgot to do so.
An Act of the Opening of the Grave was signed by the Patriarch, the hierarchs, clergy and lay persons present. My name and my wife’s name appear on the document. I obtained a piece of wood from the top of the Saint’s casket.
O Holy Father Patriarch Tikhon, pray unto God for us!