6TH FRIDAY OF LENT
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Crescens the Martyr, Leonidas, Bishop of Athens, Michael the New Martyr of Smyrna, The 9 Monk-martyrs of Corinth, Padarn, Bishop and Founder of Llandabarn Fawr
Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; that you may suck and be satisfied with her consoling breasts; that you may drink deeply with delight from the abundance of her glory." For thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall suck, you shall be carried upon her hip, and dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the LORD is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies. "For behold, the LORD will come in fire, and his chariots like the stormwind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire will the LORD execute judgment, and by his sword, upon all flesh; and those slain by the LORD shall be many. "Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one in the midst, eating swine's flesh and the abomination and mice, shall come to an end together, says the LORD. "For I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Put, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations. And they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their cereal offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the LORD. "For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before me, says the LORD; so shall your descendants and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from sabbath to sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, says the LORD. "And they shall go forth and look on the dead bodies of the men that have rebelled against me; for their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.
When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed, and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people. Then Joseph fell on his father's face, and wept over him, and kissed him. And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel; forty days were required for it, for so many are required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days.
And when the days of weeping for him were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, My father made me swear, saying, 'I am about to die: in my tomb which I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there shall you bury me.' Now therefore let me go up, I pray you, and bury my father; then I will return." And Pharaoh answered, "Go up, and bury your father, as he made you swear." So Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father's household; only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen. And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen; it was a very great company. When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and sorrowful lamentation; and he made a mourning for his father seven days. When the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning on the threshing floor of Atad, they said, "This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians." Therefore the place was named Abelmizraim; it is beyond the Jordan. Thus his sons did for him as he had commanded them; for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite, to possess as a burying place. After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father. When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil which we did to him." So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, "Your father gave this command before he died, 'Say to Joseph, Forgive, I pray you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.' And now, we pray you, forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father." Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him, and said, "Behold, we are your servants." But Joseph said to them, "Fear not, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones." Thus he reassured them and comforted them.
So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father's house; and Joseph lived a hundred and ten years. And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation; the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were born upon Joseph's knees. And Joseph said to his brothers, "I am about to die; but God will visit you, and bring you up out of this land to the land which he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob." Then Joseph took an oath of the sons of Israel, saying, "God will visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here." So Joseph died, being a hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
Open your mouth for the dumb, for the rights of all who are left desolate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, maintain the rights of the poor and needy. A good wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant, she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and tasks for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She girds her loins with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes herself coverings; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers girdles to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
Saint Aristarchus was one of the Seventy Apostles, whom the Lord Jesus Christ sent to proclaim the good news of the Gospel (Luke. 10:1-24).
Saint Aristarchus, a co-worker of the holy Apostle Paul, became bishop of the Syrian city of Apamea. His name is repeatedly mentioned in the Acts of the Holy Apostles (Acts 19:29, 20:4, 27:2) and in the Epistles of Saint Paul (Col. 4:10, Philemon 1:24). He accompanied Saint Paul on his travels (Acts 16:29), and was Bishop of Apamea, Syria.
Saint Aristarchus is commemorated on April 15 with Saints Pudens and Trophimus and on September 27 together with Saints Mark and Zenas.
Saint Pudens was one of the Seventy Apostles whom the Lord Jesus Christ sent before him with the good news of the Gospel (Luke 10:1-24).
Saint Pudens is mentioned in Saint Paul’s second Epistle to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:21). He occupied high position as a member of the Roman Senate. The saint received the foremost Apostles Peter and Paul in his home, where believing Christians gathered. His house was converted into a church, receiving the name “Pastorum”. According to Tradition, the holy Apostle Peter himself served in it as priest.
Saint Pudens suffered martyrdom at Rome under the emperor Nero (54-68). He is also commemorated on January 4.
Saint Trophimus was one of the Seventy Apostles, whom the Lord Jesus Christ sent to proclaim the good news of the Gospel (Luke. 10:1-24).
Saint Trophimus hailed from the city of Edessa. His name is mentioned in the Acts of the Holy Apostles (Acts 20:4) and in Saint Paul’s second Epistle to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:20). He was a disciple and companion of the Apostle Paul, sharing with him all the sorrows and persecution.
Saint Trophimus is also commemorated on January 4.
The Holy Women Martyrs Basilissa (Vasilissa) and Anastasia lived in Rome and were converted to Christianity by the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. They devoted themselves to the service of the Lord.
When the emperor Nero (54-68) persecuted Christians and gave them over to torture and execution, Saints Basilissa and Anastasia took the bodies of the holy martyrs and gave them reverent burial. Rumors of this reached Nero, so Saints Basilissa and Anastasia were locked up in prison. They subjected them to cruel tortures: they scourged them with whips, scraped their skin with hooks, and burned them with fire. The holy martyrs remained unyielding, however, and bravely confessed their faith in Christ the Savior. By Nero’s command, they were beheaded with the sword (+ ca. 68).
The Holy Martyr Suchias and his 16 Georgian Companions were illustrious dignitaries who served at the court of the Albanian (Hagbanite) ruler (i.e. “Caucasian Albania” on the present day territory of Azerbaizhan).
Escorting the Albanian ruler’s daughter Satenika, wife of the Armenian emperor Artaxar (88-123), Saint Suchias and his sixteen companions arrived in Artashat, the ancient capital of Armenia (the city was later destroyed by the Romans in the year 163).
Preaching there at the time was a Greek Christian named Chrysos, who had been enlightened and ordained by the holy Apostle Thaddeus (August 21). The Georgian dignitaries came to believe in Christ the Savior, and they resolved to devote their lives to the service of God. All seventeen of the newly-converted followed Chrysos into Mesopotamia. When Bishop Chrysos baptized them in the waters of the Euphrates, they were permitted to behold the Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ.
The holy martyrs set up a cross at the place of their Baptism and named it the “Cross of the Annunciation.” Bishop Chrysos gave all the saints new names: the eldest was called Suchias (replacing his old name Bagadras), and his companions were named Andrew, Anastasius, Talale, Theodoritus, Ivherion, Jordan, Kondrat, Lukian, Mimnenus, Nerangius, Polyeuctus, James, Phoka, Domentian, Victor and Zosimas.
After the martyric death of Bishop Chrysos, Saint Suchias became the spiritual leader of the brethren. All soon resettled in a wild locality on Mount Sukaketi, not far from the mountain village of Bagrevandi. Here the former dignitaries led very strict ascetic lives. The scant mountain vegetation served as their food, and they drank from a cold spring of water.
The new ruler of pagan Albania, Datianos, learned that his former officials had accepted Christianity and had gone into solitude. He sent his associate Barnapas with a detachment of soldiers to persuade them to return to court and return also to their former faith. Barnapas searched for Saint Suchias and his companions, but keeping their vow of service to God, they refused all entreaties.
Then by order of Barnapas, Saint Suchias and his companions were stretched out and nailed to the ground, and then burned. After this, their bodies were dismembered and scattered all about Mount Sukaketi, from which the martyrs received also the title the “Mesukevians” (more correctly, “Sukaketians”). This occurred in the year 123 (by another account, in the year 130; although an Athos manuscript of the eleventh century from the Ivḗron monastery gives the year as 100).
The holy relics of the martyrs remained incorrupt and unburied until the fourth century, when they were placed in graves and consigned to the earth by local Christians (the names of the holy martyrs were found written on a cliff).
The holy hieromartyr Gregory, Enlightener of Armenia (September 30), built a church on this spot and established a monastery. And afterwards, a curative spring of water was discovered there.
The Holy Martyr Savva, a Goth, lived during the fourth century. At this time the Arian bishop Wulfilas preached Christianity among the Goths, and Saint Savva was among those who were baptized.
Saint Savva led a virtuous life, devout, peaceful, temperate, simple, and quiet. He avoided women, and spent all his days in prayer. He often sang in church and devoted himself to its welfare, boldly preaching Christianity.
The Gothic princes and judges, under the influence of the pagan priests, began a persecution against the Christians and demanded that they eat meat offered to idols. Many of the pagans, to save the lives of their friends and relatives who had accepted Christianity, gave them ordinary meat instead of meat offered to idols.
Some Christians agreed to such a ruse, but Saint Savva refused and declared that Christians ought to confess their faith without dissimulation. After this, Saint Savva was driven out by those who lived in his village, but they later asked him to return. When the persecution of Christians had intensified, the fellow villagers of Saint Savva decided to go to the judge and swear that there were no Christians among them. Saint Savva declared, “Do not swear for me, because I am a Christian.”
The inhabitants then swore that there was only one Christian in their village. On the judge’s orders, Saint Savva was brought to him. The judge, seeing his poverty, decided that he could neither help nor harm anyone, so he set him free.
Meanwhile, the persecution continued. Soon, Atharid, one of the Gothic military commanders, descended on the village during the Feast of Holy Pascha. Saint Savva was preparing to greet the Great Feast with Bishop Guthik, but along the way an angel returned him to his own village. The priest Sapsal had recently arrived there from Greece. Soldiers arrested Sapsal and Saint Savva, whom they did not even allow to get dressed.
The priest rode on a cart, but Saint Savva had to walk naked behind the cart through the thorns, and they beat him with rods and switches. The Lord preserved the martyr, so that in the morning when they reached the city, Saint Savva said to his oppressors, “Look at my body, and see whether there are any traces of the thorns or of your blows.”
The soldiers were astonished, seeing the martyr healthy and unharmed, without the slightest trace of injury. Then they stretched Saint Savva on the axles of a cart, and they beat him the whole day. During the night, a certain pious woman got up to prepare food for the household, and seeing the martyr, she set him free. He began to help her with the housework.
During the day, by Atharid’s order, they suspended Saint Savva from the lintel of the house. They placed meat offered to idols before him and the priest, offering to set them free if they ate it. The priest Sapsal replied, “We would prefer that Atharid crucify us, than to eat meat defiled by devils.”
Saint Savva asked, “Who has sent this food?”
“Master Atharid,” the servant replied.
“There is only one Master, God, Who is in Heaven,” said the martyr. In anger one of the servants struck Saint Savva in the chest with a spear. Everyone thought that the martyr was dead, but the saint did not feel any pain. He said to the one who had struck him, “Your blow felt as if you had struck me with soft wool.”
Atharid gave orders to put Saint Savva to death. They left the priest Sapsal tied up, and led Saint Savva to the River Mussova to drown him. Along the way the saint gave thanks to God for allowing him to suffer for His Holy Name.
During all this the servants said, “Why shouldn’t we free this innocent man? Atharid will not find out if we free him.” Saint Savva heard them and cried out, “Do as you are commanded! For I see angels coming with glory to receive my soul!” Then they threw the martyr into the river, after they tied a large beam of wood to his neck.
Saint Savva suffered on April 12, 372, when he was thirty-eight years old. The executioners recovered the body of the martyr and threw it on shore, but Christians later hid it. Still later, one of the Scythian leaders, the Christian Junius Saran, brought the relics of Saint Savva to Cappadocia, where they were reverently received by Saint Basil the Great (January 1).
On June 20, 1992, the Romanian Orthodox Church glorified the Holy Martyr Savva of Buzău. This was the third canonization in its history, following those in 1517 and 1955-56.
The Romanian Orthodox Church has established the annual Feast Day of Saint Savva as April 12th. His Feast Day is on April 15 according to Slavic usage, but on April 18 in Greek practice.
Saint Ephraim the Great of Atsquri—one of the most important figures in the Georgian Church of the 8th and 9th centuries—was a disciple and companion of Saint Grigol of Khandzta.
On his way from Klarjeti in southern Georgia to Abkhazeti in the northwest, Saint Grigol met the young Ephraim and immediately perceived in him a like-minded companion and the future wonderworker and bishop of Atsquri.
Grigol promised to take the young man as his disciple. On his way back to Klarjeti Saint Grigol accompanied Ephraim and another youth, Arsenius, the future Catholicos of Georgia. He entrusted the upbringing of these two holy youths to his spiritual sons Christopher and Theodore.
The brothers of Khandzta Monastery objected to the arrival of the youths, since the monastery rules prohibited young visitors. But Saint Grigol told them that God had revealed this as His will and that, after being raised at the monastery, these young men would be like spiritual successors of Saint Ephraim the Syrian and Saint Arsenius the Great.
Saint Ephraim was later consecrated bishop of Atsquri and became a major figure in the Church of his time. He significantly contributed to the definitive strengthening of the autocephaly of the Georgian Church. As a result of his labors, the Georgian Church received a blessing from Antioch to prepare its own chrism in Mtskheta.
Saint Ephraim administered the diocese of Atsquri for forty years. God endowed him with the gifts of prophecy, wonderworking, and healing. He lived to an advanced age and reposed peacefully. Even today, those who approach his holy relics are healed of their infirmities.
Saint Ephraim of Atsquri is also mentioned in the Life of Saint Arsenius the Great [commemorated September 25].