ABSTAIN FROM MEAT
Righteous John Cassian the Confessor, Basil the Confessor, Jonah the Righteous Martyr of Lerios, Kyranna the New Martyr of Thessaloniki
ST. JOHN’S THIRD UNIVERSAL LETTER 1:1-15
The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in health; I know that it is well with your soul. For I greatly rejoiced when some of the brethren arrived and testified to the truth of your life, as indeed you do follow the truth. No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth.
Beloved, it is a loyal thing you do when you render any service to the brethren, especially to strangers, who have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey as befits God's service. For they have set out for his sake and have accepted nothing from the heathen. So we ought to support such men, that we may be fellow workers in the truth.
I have written something to the church; but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge my authority. So if I come I will bring up what he is doing, prating against me with evil words. And not content with that, he refuses himself to welcome the brethren, and also stops those who want to welcome them and puts them out of the church.
Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. He who does good is of God; he who does evil has not seen God. Demetrios has testimony from every one, and from the truth itself; I testify to him too, and you know my testimony is true.
I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink; I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face.
Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, every one of them.
LUKE 19:29-40; 22:7-39
At that time, when Jesus drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, "Go into the village opposite, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat; untie it and bring it here. If any one asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' you shall say this, 'The Lord has need of it.'" So those who were sent went away and found it as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, "Why are you untying the colt?" And they said, "The Lord has need of it." And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their garments on the colt they set Jesus upon it. And as he rode along, they spread their garments on the road. As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples." He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So he sent Peter and John, saying; "Go and prepare the passover for us, that we may eat it." They said to him, "Where will you have us prepare it?" He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house which he enters, and tell the householder, 'The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I am to eat the passover with my disciples?' And he will show you a large upper room furnished; there make ready." And they went, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the passover.
And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall never eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, "Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of man goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!" And they began to question one another, which of them it was that would do this.
A dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves.
You are those who have continued with me in my trials; and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren." And he said to him, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death." He said, "I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you three times deny that you know me.
And he said to them, "When I sent you out with no purse or bag or sandals, did you lack anything?" They said, "Nothing." He said to them, "But now, let him who has a purse take it, and likewise a bag. And let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one. For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me, 'And he was reckoned with transgressors'; for what is written about me has its fulfillment." And they said, "Look, Lord, here are two swords." And he said to them, "It is enough.
And he came out, and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him.
Venerable Basil the Confessor, companion of Venerable Procopius at Decapolis
Saint Basil the Confessor was a monk and suffered during the reign of the iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian (717-741). When a persecution started against those who venerated holy icons, Saint Basil and his companion Saint Procopius of Decapolis (February 27) were subjected to much torture and locked up in prison. Here both martyrs languished for a long while, until the death of the impious emperor.
When the holy Confessors Basil and Procopius were set free along with other venerators of holy icons, they continued in their monastic struggles, instructing many in the Orthodox Faith and the virtuous life. Saint Basil died peacefully in the year 750.
Blessed Nicholas (Salos) of Pskov the Fool-For-Christ
Blessed Nicholas of Pskov lived the life of a holy fool for more than three decades. Long before his death he acquired the grace of the Holy Spirit and was granted the gifts of wonderworking and of prophecy. The Pskov people of his time called him Mikula [Mikola, Nikola] the Fool. Even during his lifetime they revered him as a saint, even calling him Mikula the saintly.
In February 1570, after a devastating campaign against Novgorod, Tsar Ivan the Terrible moved against Pskov, suspecting the inhabitants of treason. As the Pskov Chronicler relates, “the Tsar came … with great fierceness, like a roaring lion, to tear apart innocent people and to shed much blood.”
On the first Saturday of Great Lent, the whole city prayed to be delivered from the Tsar’s wrath. Hearing the peal of the bell for Matins in Pskov, the Tsar’s heart was softened when he read the inscription on the fifteenth century wonderworking Liubyatov Tenderness Icon of the Mother of God (March 19) in the Monastery of Saint Nicholas (the Tsar’s army was at Lubyatov). “Be tender of heart,” he said to his soldiers. “Blunt your swords upon the stones, and let there be an end to killing.”
All the inhabitants of Pskov came out upon the streets, and each family knelt at the gate of their house, bearing bread and salt to the meet the Tsar. On one of the streets Blessed Nicholas ran toward the Tsar astride a stick as though riding a horse, and cried out: “Ivanushko, Ivanushko, eat our bread and salt, and not Christian blood.”
The Tsar gave orders to capture the holy fool, but he disappeared.
Though he had forbidden his men to kill, Ivan still intended to sack the city. The Tsar attended a Molieben at the Trinity cathedral, and he venerated the relics of holy Prince Vsevolod-Gabriel (February 11), and expressed his wish to receive the blessing of the holy fool Nicholas. The saint instructed the Tsar “by many terrible sayings,” to stop the killing and not to plunder the holy churches of God. But Ivan did not heed him and gave orders to remove the bell from the Trinity cathedral. Then, as the saint prophesied, the Tsar’s finest horse fell dead.
The blessed one invited the Tsar to visit his cell under the bell tower. When the Tsar arrived at the cell of the saint, he said, “Hush, come in and have a drink of water from us, there is no reason you should shun it.” Then the holy fool offered the Tsar a piece of raw meat.
“I am a Christian and do not eat meat during Lent”, said Ivan to him. “But you drink human blood,” the saint replied.
Frightened by the fulfillment of the saint’s prophecy and denounced for his wicked deeds, Ivan the Terrible ordered a stop to the looting and fled from the city. The Oprichniki, witnessing this, wrote: “The mighty tyrant … departed beaten and shamed, driven off as though by an enemy. Thus did a worthless beggar terrify and drive off the Tsar with his multitude of a thousand soldiers.”
Blessed Nicholas died on February 28, 1576 and was buried in the Trinity cathedral of the city he had saved. Such honors were granted only to the Pskov princes, and later on, to bishops.
The local veneration of the saint began five years after his death. In the year 1581, during a siege of Pskov by the soldiers of the Polish king Stephen Bathory, the Mother of God appeared to the blacksmith Dorotheus together with a number of Pskov saints praying for the city. Among these was Blessed Nicholas (the account about the Pskov-Protection Icon of the Mother of God is found under October 1).
At the Trinity cathedral they still venerate the relics of Blessed Nicholas of Pskov, who was “a holy fool in the flesh, and by assuming this holy folly he became a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem” (Troparion). He also “transformed the Tsar’s wild thoughts into mercy” (Kontakion).
Hieromartyr Proterius, Patriarch of Alexandria
The Hieromartyr Proterius, Patriarch of Alexandria, and those with him. The priest Proterius lived in Alexandria during the patriarchal tenure of Dioscorus (444-451), an adherent of the Monophysite heresy of Eutyches. Proterius fearlessly denounced the heretics and confessed the Orthodox Faith.
In 451 at the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, the heresy of Eutyches was condemned and the teaching of Christ as Perfect God and Perfect Man, existing in these two natures “unconfusedly” and “indivisibly” [and “immutably” and “inseparably”] was set forth. The heretic Dioscorus was deposed and exiled, and Proterius, distinguished for his strict and virtuous life, was placed upon the patriarchal throne of Alexandria.
However, many supporters of Dioscorus remained in Alexandria. Rebelling against the election of Proterius, they rioted and burned the soldiers who were sent out to pacify them. The pious emperor Marcian (450-457) deprived the Alexandrians of all the privileges they were accustomed to, and sent new and reinforced detachments of soldiers. The inhabitants of the city then quieted down and begged Patriarch Proterius to intercede with the emperor to restore their former privileges to them. The kindly saint consented and readily obtained their request.
After the death of Marcian the heretics again raised their heads. Presbyter Menignus (“the Cat”), himself striving for the patriarchal dignity, and taking advantage of the absence of the prefect of the city, was at the head of the rioters. Saint Proterius decided to leave Alexandria, but that night he saw in a dream the holy Prophet Isaiah, who said to him, “Return to the city, I am waiting to take you.” The saint realized that this was a prediction of his martyric end. He returned to Alexandria and concealed himself in a baptistry.
The insolent heretics broke into this refuge and killed the Patriarch and six men who were with him. The fact that it was Holy Saturday and the Canon of Pascha was being sung did not stop them. In their insane hatred they tied a rope to the body of the murdered Patriarch, and dragged it through the streets. They beat and lacerated it, and finally they burned it, scattering the ashes to the wind.
The Orthodox reported this to the holy Emperor Leo (457-474) and Saint Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople (July 3). An army arrived at Alexandria, the rebellion was crushed, and Menignus was brought to trial and exiled.
Regarding the death of the Hieromartyr Proterius, four Thracian bishops of his time wrote: “We consider His Holiness Proterius to be in the ranks and choir of the saints, and we beseech God to be compassionate and merciful to us through his prayers.”
Hieromartyr Nestor, Bishop of Magydos in Pamphylia
The Hieromartyr Nestor, Bishop of Magydos in Pamphylia During a persecution against Christians under the emperor Decius (249-251), he was arrested while praying in his home. He learned of the suffering awaiting him through a peculiar vision. He saw a lamb prepared for sacrifice.
The ruler of the city of Magydos sent him for trial to Perge. On the way there Saint Nestor was strengthened in spirit when he heard a Voice from Heaven, after which an earthquake occurred. After cruel tortures at Perge the hieromartyr was crucified in the year 250.
Venerable Marina and Kyra of Syria
Saints Marina (Marana) and Kyra (Cyra), sisters by birth, lived during the fourth century in the city of Veria (or Berea) in Syria. Their parents were illustrious and rich, but the sisters left home and departed the city when they had reached maturity.
Having cleared off a small plot of land, the holy virgins sealed up the entrance to their refuge with rocks and clay, leaving only a narrow opening through which food was passed to them. Their little hut had no roof, and so they were exposed to the elements.
On their bodies they wore heavy iron chains and patiently endured hunger. During a three year period, they ate food only once every forty days. Their former servants came to them, wanting to join their ascetic life. The saints put them in a separate hut next to their own enclosure and they spoke to them through a window, exhorting them to deeds of prayer and fasting.
The life of the holy ascetics Marana and Kyra was described by Bishop Theodoret of Cyrrhus in his Religiosa Historica. Out of respect for his hierarchical dignity, the holy virgins allowed him into their dwelling. Theodoret conversed with them and persuaded them to remove the heavy chains they wore under their clothing. Kyra, who was weak in body, was always stooped under their weight and was unable to sit upright. Once he left, however, they resumed wearing the chains.
So they lived in asceticism for forty years. They disturbed their solitude only to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to pray at the Sepulchre of the Lord. During their journey (which took twenty days) they ate no food until they had prayed at the Holy Places. On the way back, they also went without eating. They did the same thing at another time, when they journeyed to the grave of the Protomartyr Thekla (September 24) at Seleucia, Isauria.
Saints Marana and Kyra died in about the year 450. Their ascetical life equaled that of the great male ascetics of the desert, and they received the same crown of victory from Christ the Savior.
Venerable Domnica (Domnina) of Syria
Saint Domnica (Domnina) was a Syrian nun, and a companion of Saints Marana and Kyra.
Venerable John Cassian the Roman
Saint John Cassian the Roman was born around 360, probably in Lesser Scythia (in Dacia Pontica). His pious Christian parents gave him an excellent classical education, and also instructed him in the Holy Scriptures and in the spiritual life.
Saint John entered a monastery in the diocese of Tomis, where his friend and relative Saint Germanus labored as an ascetic. In 380, desiring to venerate the Holy Places, Saint John went to Jerusalem with his sister and his friend Saint Germanus. The two monks stayed at a Bethlehem monastery, not far from where the Savior was born.
After five years at the monastery, Saints John and Germanus traveled through the Thebaid and the desert monasteries of Sketis for seven years, drawing upon the spiritual experience of countless ascetics. The Egyptian monks taught them many useful things about spiritual struggles, prayer, and humility. Like honeybees they journeyed from place to place, gathering the sweet nectar of spiritual wisdom. The notes Saint John made formed the basis of his book called CONFERENCES WITH THE FATHERS in twenty-four chapters.
Returning to Bethlehem for a brief time, the spiritual brothers lived for three years in complete solitude. Then they went back to Egypt and lived there until 399. Because of the disturbances caused by Archbishop Theophilus of Alexandria to the monasteries along the Nile, they decided to go to Constantinople, after hearing of the virtue and holiness of Saint John Chrysostom. The great hierarch ordained Saint John Cassian as a deacon and accepted him as a disciple. John and Germanus remained with Saint John Chrysostom for five years, learning many profitable things from him.
When Chrysostom was exiled from Constantinople in 404, Saints John Cassian and Germanus went to Rome to plead his case before Innocent I. Cassian was ordained to the holy priesthood in Rome, or perhaps later in Gaul. After Chrysostom’s death in 407, Saint John Cassian went to Massilia [Marseilles] in Gaul (now France). There he established two cenobitic monasteries in 415, one for men and another for women, based on the model of Eastern monasticism.
At the request of Bishop Castor of Aptia Julia (in southern Gaul), Cassian wrote THE INSTITUTES OF CENOBITIC LIFE (De Institutis Coenobiorum) in twelve books, describing the life of the Palestinian and Egyptian monks. Written between 417-419, the volume included four books describing the clothing of the monks of Palestine and Egypt, their schedule of prayer and services, and how new monks were received into the monasteries.The last eight books were devoted to the eight deadly sins and how to overcome them. Through his writings, Saint John Cassian provided Christians of the West with examples of cenobitic monasteries, and acquainted them with the asceticism of the Orthodox East.
Cassian speaks as a spiritual guide about the purpose of life, about attaining discernment, about renunciation of the world, about the passions of the flesh and spirit, about the hardships faced by the righteous, and about prayer.
Saint John Cassian also wrote CONFERENCES WITH THE FATHERS (Collationes Patrum) in twenty-four books in the form of conversations about the perfection of love, about purity, about God’s help, about understanding Scripture, about the gifts of God, about friendship, about the use of language, about the four levels of monasticism, about the solitary life and cenobitic life, about repentance, about fasting, about nightly meditations, and about spiritual mortification. This last has the explanatory title “I do what I do not want to do.”
Books 1-10 of the CONFERENCES describe Saint John’s conversations with the Fathers of Sketis between 393-399. Books 11-17 relate conversations with the Fathers of Panephysis, and the last seven books are devoted to conversations with monks from the region of Diolkos.
In 431 Saint John Cassian wrote his final work, ON THE INCARNATION OF THE LORD, AGAINST NESTORIUS (De Incarnationem Domini Contra Nestorium). In seven books he opposed the heresy, citing many Eastern and Western teachers to support his arguments.
In his works, Saint John Cassian was grounded in the spiritual experience of the ascetics, and criticized the abstract reasoning of Saint Augustine (June 15). Saint John said that “grace is defended less adequately by pompous words and loquacious contention, dialectic syllogisms and the eloquence of Cicero (i.e. Augustine), than by the example of the Egyptian ascetics.” In the words of Saint John of the Ladder (March 30), “great Cassian reasons loftily and excellently.” His writings are also praised in the Rule of Saint Benedict.
Saint John Cassian lived in the West for many years, but his spiritual homeland was the Orthodox East. He fell asleep in the Lord in the year 435. His holy relics rest in an underground chapel in the Monastery of Saint Victor in Marseilles. His head and right hand are in the main church.
Venerable John-Barsanuphius, Bishop of Damascus
Saint John, called Barsanuphius, was a native of Palestine. He was baptized when he was eighteen years old, and later became a monk. Because of his ascetic life, Saint John was consecrated Archbishop of Damascus. Because of his love for the solitary life, Saint John gave up his position as hierarch and secretly withdrew to Alexandria, calling himself Barsanuphius. Then he went into the Nitrian desert, arrived at a monastery, and begged the igumen to accept him into the monastery to serve the Elders. He conscientiously fulfilled this obedience by day, and spent his nights in prayer.
Theodore of Nitria saw the monk, and knew that he was a bishop. Saint John concealed himself again and withdrew into Egypt, where he lived in asceticism until the end of his days.
The Holy Martyr Theokteristus, Igumen of the Pelekete monastery, suffered for the holy icons under the impious emperor Constantine Copronymos (741-775). Also subjected to tortures were Saint Stephen the New (November 28), and other pious monks. Saint Theokteristus was burned with boiling tar.
The holy martyr was a spiritual writer, and composed a Canon to the Mother of God “Sustainer in Many Misfortunes.”
Saint Leo of Cappadocia
Saint Leo of Cappadocia fulfilled the commandment to love his neighbor by suggesting to the Saracens, who had captured three sickly monks, that he take the place of these infirm captives with himself, since he was healthy and able to work.
While journeying in the desert, Saint Leo weakened and was not able to go any farther. He was beheaded with the sword, thereby laying down his life for his neighbor.
Saint Meletius, Archbishop of Khar'kov and Akhtyrsk
The name of Meletios Leontovich, Archbishop of Khar'kov and Akhtyrsk, who reposed righteously on February 29, 1840 was deeply respected and honored by his former flock. The residents of Khar'kov faithfully visit his grave in the Cave Church of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos Monastery. Here Memorial Services are offered for his soul, and at the same time, they ask for his prayers for themselves and their relatives. The memory of his saintly life, his love for the poor, and his meekness, still live among his contemporaries who call him "The Unmercenary Vladika." There are many stories about the meek way he governed his diocese.
The Most Reverend Meletios (Michael, in the world)1 was a teacher of the Greek language in 1814. He was transferred to the (Mogilev) Seminary in Kiev in 1817 as its director, and later became rector of the Kiev Academy. In 1826, he was consecrated as vicar bishop of the Metropolitan of Kiev, and then transferred to Irkutsk in Siberia. He came to Kharkov in 1835, the diocese which he governed for 5 and one half years.
We have the following narrative by a parish priest, concerning Vladika's all night prayer and abstinence. While visiting parishes of his Diocese, the Archbishop stopped for the night in the village of Preobrazhensk, in the Zmievsk region. The local priest, in whose house he was to stay, wanted to do his best for the comfort of his important guest. He prepared a room, furnishing it with rugs and soft furniture for the Archbishop's rest.
After the usual welcome and evening service, His Eminence retired to the room which had been prepared for him. As it later turned out, however, he was not concerned about rest for his body, but for the benefit of the soul, which finds rest in prayer and conversation with God. It happened that the door of the room had a small opening in it, so that by the light of the lampada, the priest who occupied the next room was able to see everything that happened in the Archbishop's room.
Unable to sleep, the priest heard a muffled noise in the next room and, with all possible caution, walked over to the opening in the door and looked. He saw the Archbishop clothed in just a cassock, with his head uncovered, kneeling and fervently praying with his hands raised. After watching him for a long time, the priest finally went to lie down, but some sort of fear would not allow him to go to sleep.
After a while, he went to the door again and saw the same thing. The Archbishop's prayerful conversation with God continued for almost the whole night. Only toward morning did the man of prayer remove his cassock and roll it up to use as a pillow. He lay on the floor and fell asleep, mussing the bedclothes somewhat to make it appear that he had slept in the bed all night. When the priest awoke at dawn, he rushed to the door again and saw the Archbishop at prayer, just as before.
His Father Confessor, Father Sergius, always remembered Vladika's humility and purity of heart. According to his words, the Archbishop's Confession was most touching, detailed, and sincere. Like many children, he regarded his smallest sins as very grave, and humbly repented of them. He confessed every month, and each Confession lasted for a long time. The Archbishop gave an account of all his deeds, and of his most secret thoughts. He would always weep after Confession, when he knelt and received absolution. After this Mystery, his face always shone with unearthly joy.
Once, the Father Confessor was touched by Vladika's great humility, and told him so. "Do you think it is easy to acquire this inner humility?" Archbishop Meletios asked with a meek smile.
In his relationships with everyone, the Archbishop was most welcoming and cordial. His conversations were absorbing, and brought untold pleasure to his listeners. Everyone, the wealthy dignitary, the poor clerk, the wretched widow, all received the same welcome from him.
To the rich he spoke mostly about the incorruptible treasures of everlasting life, and of the perishable nature of earthly treasures. He advised them to exchange worldly goods for the eternal good things.
He comforted the poor worker with the promise of a heavenly reward for his labors. He told the widow that God Himself is the Father of orphans and widows. While comforting everyone with his words, he also extended his hand to the needy with material help. He used up all his income for this purpose.
Vladika himself lived in utter want, even though he appeared before his visitors in garb suited to his rank, usually in something purple (his favorite color). After his death, only eight rubles in paper money and change was found.
Once, during the Divine Liturgy, a young man, who was inclined to piety, was amazed by Archbishop Meletios's reverence and prayerful spirit as he offered the Bloodless Sacrifice. Mentally, he recognized him as a righteous man, and thought to himself: "How fortunate those people who serve such a man must be."
At the end of the Holy Liturgy a monk came up to the young man and asked him to come with him, as the Archbishop had ordered. Amazed, he obeyed. The monk took him to Vladika's reception room, and then left. Soon Archbishop Meletios himself entered. Vladika warmly greeted the confused young man with great love and questioned him in detail. Suddenly, he asked him to become his cell attendant. Shocked by Vladika's clairvoyance, the young man fell at his feet and readily accepted the offer. Afterward, by his way of life, he fully proved the correctness of Vladika's choice, and later still, when he was a monk, he remembered this decisive event in his life with much tenderness.
During his last illness, Archbishop Meletios was so weak that he was unable to stand up to pray, so he performed his Rule of prayer while sitting on his bed, supported on all sides by pillows. Three days before his death, while seated in this position, Archbishop Meletios ordered his cell attendant to lie down in the same room with him, something he had never done before.
The cell attendant himself said later that he felt some sort of fear, and was unable to fall asleep. Noticing this, Vladika told him to cover himself with his (the Archbishop's) rasson, saying, "Now you will not be afraid, and perhaps you will soon fall asleep." Instantly, the cell attendant fell asleep.
While asleep, he had a vision foretelling the Archbishop's death. When the vision ended, the attendant's whole body shook, and he woke up. Before him he saw the Archbishop lying on his back, with his eyes raised up toward Heaven. His face shone with an unearthly radiance. Archbishop Meletios called the now awakened cell attendant to him and said in a quiet voice that he would die in three days, asking him not to say anything about this to anyone. The repose of Archbishop Meletios took place exactly three days later, on February 29, 1840, soon after he received the Holy Mysteries, and his departure was most peaceful and calm.
His much-laboring body rested in the church so the faithful could give him the last kiss, until the Bishop of Kursk could get there for the funeral. At this time, according to the testimony of his Father Confessor Father Sergius, Vladika's body was so soft that, when he came to wash him with rose water, he found it flexible. Noticing that the omophorion had been pushed to one side, Father Sergius bowed to the Archbishop as if he were still alive, then lifted the body and sat it down. After rearranging the omophorion, he laid the body down again, to the great amazement of those who were present.
Archbishop Meletios's body is buried in a crypt located under the lower church of the Protection Monastery. Now, in that section, there is a church dedicated to the Three Hierarchs (January 30), where Memorial Services were being conducted for the Archbishop's soul, as requested by pilgrims. Above the coffin there is an icon with a lampada before it. Now the peace is broken only rarely, by the footsteps of a pilgrim.
Saint Meletios of Khar'kov is also commemorated on February 12 (his Name Day).
1 He was born on November 6, 1784 in the Ekaterinoslav region, and received the name Michael in Holy Baptism. His father died when the child was quite young.
Saint Germanus of Dacia Pontica (Dobrogea)
Saint Germanus the Daco-Roman was born in the mid-fourth century, probably on the borders of Cassian and the Caves in the diocese of Tomis (in what is now Romania), and was related to Saint John Cassian (February 29). Saint Germanus, who was older than Saint John, was tonsured at one of the local monasteries when he was still a young man. The holy bishop Saint Theotimus I (April 20) may have been his Spiritual Father.
In turn, Saint Germanus became the Spiritual Father, friend, and teacher of Saint John Cassian, instructing him in monastic perfection. They both lived at one of the monasteries of Dacia Pontica for a short time, and then worked together in Bethlehem from 380-385. Later, they traveled to Egypt and visited some of its cenobitic monasteries. They also visited the hermits of Nitria and Mount Sinai, seeking to benefit from their holy example and wise counsel.
Saints Germanus and John went to Constantinople in 399 in order to be near Saint John Chrysostom (November 13), and around this time Germanus was deemed worthy of ordination to the holy priesthood. When Chrysostom was deposed and exiled in 404, the two saints journeyed to Rome in order to plead his case before Pope Innocent I.
Saint Germanus completed the course of his life in the early fifth century, perhaps at the monastery estabished by Saint John Cassian at Marseilles, or in one of the monasteries of Dacia Pontica.
The inscription on the saint’s scroll is an abbreviated quotation from Psalm 17/18:1. It reads: The Lord is my strength and deliverer.
Devpeteruv Icon of the Mother of God
This Icon appeared on February 29, 1392. One of the oldest shrines of the Devpeteruv (Девпетерувская) Icon of the Mother of God is now located in the Nikolaev church of the village of Batyushkova, or Batatkova, Dmitrovsky district of Moscow Province. In this image, the child Jesus is shown resting on the Virgin’s right shoulder; His left hand is on His Mother’s left shoulder, and her right hand is on His right shoulder.
In Tambov's Transfiguration Cathedral, above the tomb of St. Pitirim (July 28), there is another list of the miracles of the Devpeteruv Icon of the Mother of God. This image once belonged to St. Pitirim, and before it, he offered his fervent prayers to the Lord God. The Icon became especially famous in 1833 after a miracle took place.
A certain woman, whose husband was falsely accused of a crime and sent to prison, once saw an Elder whom she did not know in a dream. This Elder ordered her to search the cathedral for the Icon from St. Pitirim's cell, and to have a Moleben served before it. He also showed her the Icon itself. The woman found the Saint's Icon and asked for a Moleben to be served before it. Shortly afterward, her husband was acquitted and released from prison.