ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Holy Tuesday, The Holy Hieromartyr Paphnutius, Tryphon, Patriarch of Constantinople, George the Confessor, Aelphege the Hieromartyr of Canterbury
MATTHEW 22:15-46; 23:1-39
At that time, the Pharisees went and took counsel against Jesus, how to entangle him in his talk. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the money for the tax." And they brought him a coin. And Jesus said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said, "Caesar's." Then he said to them, "Render, therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. " When they heard it, they marveled; and they left him and went away.
The same day the Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question saying, "Teacher, Moses said, 'If a man dies, having no children, his brother must marry the widow, and raise up children for his brother.' Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married, and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother. So too the second and third, down to the seventh. After them all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, to which of the seven will she be wife? For they all had her.
But Jesus answered them, "You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living." And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying: "What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "The son of David." He said to them, "How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, 'The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, till I put your enemies under your feet'? If David thus calls him Lord, how is he his son?" And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did any one dare to ask him any more questions.
Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men, but you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows' houses and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of Gehenna as yourselves.
Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'If any one swears by the temple, it is nothing; but if any one swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, 'If any one swears by the altar, it is nothing; but if any one swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.' You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; and he who swears by the temple, swears by it and by him who dwells in it; and he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like white-washed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, saying, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to Gehenna? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all this will come upon this generation.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'
MATTHEW 24:36-51; 25:1-46; 26:1-2
The Lord said to his disciples, "Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but the Father only. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed, ' and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise replied, 'Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us.' But he replied, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of man shall come.
For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.' And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.' He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' But his master answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.'
When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.' And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, "You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of man will be delivered up to be crucified.
Holy Week: A Liturgical Explanation for the Days of Holy Week
3. MONDAY, TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY: THE END
These three days, which the Church calls Great and Holy have within the liturgical development of the Holy Week a very definite purpose. They place all its celebrations in the perspective of End Times; they remind us of the eschatological meaning of Pascha. So often Holy Week is considered one of the “beautiful traditions” or “customs,” a self-evident “part” of our calendar. We take it for granted and enjoy it as a cherished annual event which we have “observed” since childhood, we admire the beauty of its services, the pageantry of its rites and, last but not least, we like the fuss about the Paschal table. And then, when all this is done we resume our normal life. But do we understand that when the world rejected its Savior, when “Jesus began to be sorrowful and very heavy… and his soul was exceedingly sorrowful even unto death,” when He died on the Cross, “normal life” came to its end and is no longer possible. For there were “normal” men who shouted “Crucify Him” who spat at Him and nailed Him to the Cross. And they hated and killed Him precisely because He was troubling their normal life. It was indeed a perfectly “normal” world which preferred darkness and death to light and life…. By the death of Jesus the “normal” world, and “normal” life were irrevocably condemned. Or rather they revealed their true and abnormal inability to receive the Light, the terrible power of evil in them. “Now is the Judgment of this world” (John 12:31). The Pascha of Jesus signified its end to “this world” and it has been at its end since then. This end can last for hundreds of centuries, but this does not alter the nature of time in which we live as the “last time.” “The fashion of this world passeth away…” (I Cor. 7:31).
Pascha means passover, passage. The feast of Passover was for the Jews the annual commemoration of their whole history as salvation, and of salvation as passage from the slavery of Egypt into freedom, from exile into the promised land. It was also the anticipation of the ultimate passage—into the Kingdom of God. And Christ was the fulfillment of Pascha. He performed the ultimate passage: from death into life, from this “old world” into the new world into the new time of the Kingdom. And he opened the possibility of this passage to us. Living in “this world” we can already be “not of this world,” i.e. be free from slavery to death and sin, partakers of the “world to come.” But for this we must also perform our own passage, we must condemn the old Adam in us, we must put on Christ in the baptismal death and have our true life hidden in God with Christ, in the “world to come….”
And thus Easter is not an annual commemoration, solemn and beautiful, of a past event. It is this Event itself shown, given to us, as always efficient, always revealing our world, our time, our life as being at their end, and announcing the Beginning of the new life…. And the function of the three first days of Holy Week is precisely to challenge us with this ultimate meaning of Pascha and to prepare us to the understanding and acceptance of it.
1. This eschatological (which means ultimate, decisive, final) challenge is revealed, first, in the common troparion of these days:
Behold the Bridegroom comes at midnight,
And blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching,
And again unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless.
Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep,
Lest you be given up to death and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom.
But rouse yourself crying: Holy, Holy, Holy, are You, O our God!
Through the Theotokos have mercy on us!
Midnight is the moment when the old day comes to its end and a new day begins. It is thus the symbol of the time in which we live as Christians. For, on the one hand, the Church is still in this world, sharing in its weaknesses and tragedies. Yet, on the other hand, her true being is not of this world, for she is the Bride of Christ and her mission is to announce and to reveal the coming of the Kingdom and of the new day. Her life is a perpetual watching and expectation, a vigil pointed at the dawn of this new day. But we know how strong is still our attachment to the “old day,” to the world with its passions and sins. We know how deeply we still belong to “this world.” We have seen the light, we know Christ, we have heard about the peace and joy of the new life in Him, and yet the world holds us in its slavery. This weakness, this constant betrayal of Christ, this incapacity to give the totality of our love to the only true object of love are wonderfully expressed in the exapostilarion of these three days:
“Thy Bridal Chamber I see adorned, O my Savior
And I have no wedding garment that I may enter,
O Giver of life, enlighten the vesture of my soul
And save me.”
2. The same theme develops further in the Gospel readings of these days. First of all, the entire text of the four Gospels (up to John 13: 31) is read at the Hours. This recapitulation shows that the Cross is the climax of the whole life and ministry of Jesus, the Key to their proper understanding. Everything in the Gospel leads to this ultimate hour of Jesus and everything is to be understood in its light. Then, each service has its special Gospel lesson.
At Matins: Matthew 22: 15-23, 39. Condemnation of Pharisees, i.e. of the blind and hypocritical religion, of those who think they are the leaders of man and the light of the world, but who in fact “shut up the Kingdom of heaven to men.”
At the Presanctified Liturgy: Matthew 24: 36-26, 2. The End again and the parables of the End: the ten wise virgins who had enough oil in their lamps and the ten foolish ones who were not admitted to the bridal banquet; the parable of ten talents “. . . Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.” And, finally the Last Judgment.
3. These Gospel lessons are explained and elaborated in the hymnology of these days: the stichiras and the triodia (short canons of three odes each sung at Matins). One warning, one exhortation runs through all of them: the end and the judgment are approaching, let us prepare for them:
“Behold, O my soul, the Master has conferred on thee a talent
Receive the gift with fear;
Lend to him who gave; distribute to the poor
And acquire for thyself thy Lord as thy Friend;
That when He shall come in glory,
Thou mayest stand on His right hand
And hear His blessed voice:
Enter, my servant, into the joy of thy Lord.”
4. Throughout the whole Lent the two books of the Old Testament read at Vespers were Genesis and Proverbs. With the beginning of Holy Week they are replaced by Exodus and Job. Exodus is the story of Israel’s liberation from Egyptian slavery, of their Passover. It prepares us for the understanding of Christ’s exodus to His Father, of His fulfillment of the whole history of salvation. Job, the Sufferer, is the Old Testament icon of Christ. This reading announces the great mystery of Christ’s sufferings, obedience and sacrifice.
5. The liturgical structure of these three days is still of the Lenten type. It includes, therefore, the prayer of Saint Ephrem the Syrian with prostrations, the augmented reading of the Psalter, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts and the Lenten liturgical chant. We are still in the time of repentance, for repentance alone makes us partakers of the Pascha of Our Lord, opens to us the doors of the Paschal banquet. And then, on Great and Holy Wednesday, as the last Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is about to be completed, after the Holy Gifts have been removed from the altar, the priest reads for the last time the Prayer of Saint Ephrem. At this moment, the preparation comes to an end. The Lord summons us now to His Last Supper.
by THE VERY REV. ALEXANDER SCHMEMANN
Saint John of the Ancient Caves is so called because he lived during the eighth century in the Lavra of Saint Chariton (September 28). This was called the “Old,” or ancient cave, since it was one the oldest of the Palestinian monasteries. The Lavra was situated not far from Bethlehem, near the Dead Sea.
Saint John in his early years left the world, went to venerate the holy places of Jerusalem, and settled at the Lavra, where he labored in fasting, vigil, and prayer. He was ordained to the holy priesthood, and glorified by his ascetic life.
The Holy Martyrs Christopher, Theonas, and Anthony were officers in the army of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They were present at the sufferings of the Holy Great Martyr George (April 23), they saw the miracles accomplished by the power of God, and they witnessed Saint George’s faith and unshakable courage.
The soldiers came to believe in the Savior, threw down their golden military belts, and declared themselves Christians in front of the emperor. They were immediately thrown into prison. The next day the emperor urged the former soldiers to renounce Christ, but they firmly confessed their faith and glorified the Savior as the true God.
The emperor ordered that the martyrs be beaten with iron rods, and their bodies to be raked with hooks. The holy martyrs endured all the torments and remained unyielding. Then Diocletian gave orders to burn them. The martyric death of Saints Christopher, Theonas, and Anthony occurred in the year 303.
Hieromartyr Paphnutius of Jerusalem was a bishop. He underwent many sufferings from the pagans and was tortured by fire, wild beasts, and finally was beheaded by the sword.
Some suggest that the hieromartyr Paphnutius was an Egyptian bishop and suffered together with many other Egyptians, exiled to the Palestinian mines during the persecution by Diocletian (284-305).
The myrrh-streaming relics of the hieromartyr were glorified by miracles. The Canon in his honor was composed during the Iconoclast period (before 842). In the final Ode is a petition for the hieromartyr to put an end to the heresy disrupting the Church.
Saint George the Confessor, Bishop of Antioch in Pisidia, lived during the Iconoclast period. In his youth he became a monk, was known for his holiness of life and was made bishop of Antioch in Pisidia.
Saint George was at Constantinople during the iconoclastic persecution under Emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820). He denounced the Iconoclast heresy at a Council of bishops, calling on the emperor to abandon it. When Saint George refused to remove the icons from the church, as ordered by the emperor’s decree, he was exiled to imprisonment (813-820).
Saint Tryphon, Patriarch of Constantinople, was a monk from the time of his youth, distinguished by his meekness, lack of malice, full submission to the will of God, and his firm faith and love for the Church. At this time the emperor Romanus (919-944) ruled in Constantinople. He wanted to elevate his younger son Theophylactus to the patriarchal throne. When Patriarch Stephanos (925-928) died, Theophylactus was only sixteen years old. The emperor then suggested that Saint Tryphon be “locum tenens” of the patriarchal throne until Theophylactus came of age.
Saint Tryphon meekly accepted the burden of patriarchal service and for three years he wisely governed the Church. When Theophylactus turned twenty (931), the emperor told Saint Tryphon to resign the patriarchal throne. Saint Tryphon did not consider it proper to hand over the throne to an inexperienced youth, and he refused to do so. The emperor could not intimidate Saint Tryphon, since his life was blameless. Then Romanus employed the cunning counsels of Bishop Theophilus of Caesarea.
The deceitful bishop went to Saint Tryphon and urged him not to obey the emperor, and not to resign the patriarchal throne. Then Bishop Theophilus craftily obtained Saint Tryphon’s signature on a blank sheet of paper. Not suspecting any treachery, the guileless saint took a clean sheet of paper and wrote: “Tryphon, by the Mercy of God, Archbishop of Constantinople, the New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch.”
When they presented this paper to the emperor, he ordered them to write over the saint’s signature: “I hereby resign the position of Patriarch, because I consider myself unworthy of this office.” When this false document was read before the imperial dignitaries, servants removed Saint Tryphon from the patriarchal chambers.
Saint Tryphon patiently endured the injustice done to him, and returned to his own monastery. He lived there as a simple monk for a year before his death (+ 933). His body was taken to Constantinople and buried with the Patriarchs.
Saint Nikēphóros was born at Constantinople into a rich and illustrious family. His parents, Andrew and Theodora, raised their son in the Christian Faith. After their death, young Nikēphóros distributed all his wealth to the poor and went to Chalcedon. The strict monastic life at the Monastery of Saint Andrew appealed to Nikēphóros, and he remained there with the brethren.
From the very start, the saint displayed unusual fervor in prayer and at work. He had such endurance in asceticism, that soon the igumen sent the saint to a Phoenician island to preach Christ, and he was made igumen of a monastery dedicated to the Most Holy Theotokos.
Saint Nikēphóros lived on the island for thirty-three years, and he brought many pagans to Christ. A church was built on the island on the site of a pagan temple.
Sensing the approach of death, the saint was carried aboard a ship and said to the captain, “I am going to the Lord, but take my body to Chalcedon to the monastery of Saint Andrew.” As soon as he said these words, he died.
The ship sailed to Chalcedon, and the brethren of the monastery of Saint Andrew reverently buried the body of the holy ascetic.
The Monkmartyr Agathangelus, in the world Athanasius, was born in the city of Enos, Thrace, and was raised in a strict Orthodox family. After the death of his parents Constantine and Krystalia, he became a sailor. The Turks wanted to convert the skilled and intelligent youth to Islam, but knew that he would not do so of his own free will. So they arrested him in the city of Smyrna, wounded him and threatened him with death, then demanded that he become a Moslem.
The youth was terrified and promised to do as they asked, hoping to escape from the bullies and then go back on his promise. However, he was unable to do this for a long time. Tormented by pangs of conscience, he was able to quit the city and seek refuge on Mount Athos. Igumen Euthymius of Esphigmenou monastery confessed him and blessed him to become a novice.
Saint Athanasius considered even his most intense efforts insufficient to atone for his sin of apostasy. He believed that he had to suffer martyrdom for Christ, and he began to pray about this.
On the fourth Sunday of Great Lent the nineteen-year-old youth was tonsured as a monk with the name Agathangelus.
Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker appeared to the new monk in a dream and promised to help him. The igumen of the monastery saw this as a special sign, and blessed Saint Agathangelus to bear witness to Christ at Smyrna before those who forced him to become a Moslem.
In the Ottoman courtroom the confessor told how they had compelled him to accept an alien faith. Then he publicly renounced Islam and confessed himself a Christian. They began to cajole and admonish Saint Agathangelus to reconsider his statement. He replied, “I will not give in to you, nor to your threats, nor to your promises. I love only Christ, I follow only Christ, only in my Christ do I hope to know happiness.”
The judge threatened him with death by torture. “I am prepared to endure all for my Christ! I accept every manner of torment with the greatest joy! I ask only that you do not tarry in carrying out your word,” the saint replied.
They bound Saint Agathangelus with heavy chains, hammered his feet into wooden boots, and threw him into prison. With him were two other wrongly condemned Christians. One of them, Nicholas, gave an account of the saint’s martyrdom.
On the following day, Saint Agathangelus was again brought before the judge in fetters. Bravely enduring all the torments which the Turks had readied for him, he again was sent to prison. Nicholas told him that a certain influential man would intervene before the judge for his release, but Saint Agathangelus wrote a note to this man asking that he not attempt to free him, but to pray to God that he be strengthened for martyrdom.
The saint readied himself for the final trial. At midnight, it was revealed to him in a vision that they would execute him no later than five o’clock, and he waited for the appointed hour. At about the fourth hour, a watch was placed over him. Seeing no possibility of converting the confessor from his faith in Christ, the judges decided to execute him. Absorbed in prayer, the martyr did not take notice the preparations for execution, nor the large throng of people.
He was beheaded at the fifth hour of the morning, on April 19, 1818. Christians gathered up the holy relics of the martyr and buried them in the city of Smyrna, in the church of the Great Martyr George.
A portion of the relics of Saint Agathangelus was sent to the Esphigmenou monastery on Mount Athos in 1844.
Saint Simeon the Bare-Foot [Bosoi] was the son of a priest. When he was fifteen years old, he came under the spiritual guidance of Pachomius, the Bishop of Demetriada (Larissa diocese), who tonsured him and ordained him as hierodeacon. Desiring to follow a strict monastic life, Saint Simeon soon went to a monastery near Mount Olympus, and then to Mount Athos, to the Lavra of Saint Athanasius.
By his humility and obedience he gained the respect of the brethren and was ordained hieromonk. After he transferred to the Philotheou monastery, he intensified his God-pleasing labors, he became an example for the brethren, and was unanimously chosen as head of this monastery. Later, through the cunning of the Enemy of mankind, Saint Simeon had to endure the complaints of monks who thought he was too strict.
Leaving it to God to judge the culprits, Saint Simeon left the monastery and went to Mt. Phlamourion on Mt. Pelion. There, in solitude and quiet, with neither roof nor fire, the holy hermit engaged in spiritual struggles dressed in old clothing, with almost no food, in constant prayer either standing or on bended knees. After three years, he was found by certain God-loving people. Inspired with reverence for his way of life, they begged him to allow them to live with him.
After seven years, through the efforts and zeal of Saint Simeon, a monastery was formed. A church was built in honor of the Most Holy Trinity, where he served the Divine Liturgy every day. When the life of the brethren in the wilderness monastery had been put in order, the wise servant left the monastery and began to preach the Word of God in Epirus, Thessaly and Athens.
By his instructions and teaching the saint strengthened the wavering in their faith, and he set those in error on the path to salvation. He made those who were strong in their faith even stronger, and he taught everyone to love one another, and to attend church on Sundays and feastdays.
The boldness of the holy confessor aroused the malice of the opponents of Christianity. In the city of Euripa they slandered Saint Simeon before the city ruler, Ayan, accusing him of converting a Turk to Christianity. The saint was arrested and sentenced to public burning. However, God did not permit the unjust sentence to be carried out.
The condemned one was led to his interrogation in shackles, barefoot [bosoi] and in an old rassa. Saint Simeon, inspired by the Holy Spirit, answered the governor so wisely that Ayan could not impose the death sentence. The saint received his freedom and continued his efforts, sealing his preaching with healings and miracles.
Many followed Saint Simeon and submitted themselves to him. He accepted everyone, blessed them for the monastic life, and sent them to his monastery.
Saint Simeon ended his life at Constantinople. He fell asleep in the Lord and was buried by the Patriarch at Chalke, in a church dedicated to the Most Holy Theotokos. After two years, when the monks of the Phlamourion monastery decided to transfer his holy relics to their monastery, and his grave was opened, an ineffable fragrance came forth, and healings began.
The Life and the Service to Saint Simeon were published at Smyrna in 1646.