5TH MONDAY AFTER PASCHA
Michael the Confessor, Bishop of Synnada, Mary the Myrrhbearer & wife of Cleopas
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 12:12-17
In those days, Peter went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran and told that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are mad.” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking; and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell this to James and to the brethren.” Then he departed and went to another place.
The Lord said to the Jews who came to him, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But, because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? He who is of God hears the words of God; the reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.
The Jews answered him, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" Jesus answered, "I have not a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it and he will be the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if any one keeps my word, he will never see death.
Saint Michael the Confessor, Bishop of Synnada
Saint Michael the Confessor From his youth he longed for the monastic life and was sent by Patriarch Tarasius (784-806) to a monastery on the coast of the Black Sea. Saint Theophylactus (March 8), the future Bishop of Nicomedia also entered the monastery together with him.
At the monastery both monks engaged in spiritual struggles and were soon glorified by gifts from the Lord. Once, during a harvest, when the people were weakened by thirst, an empty metal vessel was filled with water by the prayer of the monks.
Patriarch Tarasius consecrated Saint Michael as bishop of the city of Synnada. Through his holy life and wisdom, Saint Michael won the love of believers, and the notice of the emperors Nikēphóros I (802-811) and Michael I Rangabe (811-813). Saint Michael was present at the Seventh Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 787.
When the Iconoclast heretic Leo the Armenian (813-820) assumed the throne, he began to expel Orthodox hierarchs from their Sees, appointing heretics in their place.
Saint Michael defended Orthodoxy, bravely opposing the heretics and denouncing their error. Leo the Armenian brought Saint Michael to trial, but not fearing torture he answered resolutely, “I venerate the holy icons of my Savior Jesus Christ and the All-Pure Virgin, His Mother, and all the saints, and it is to them I bow down. I shall not obey your decrees to remove icons from churches.”
Leo then banished Saint Michael to the city of Eudokiada, where the confessor died about the year 821. The head of Saint Michael is preserved in the Great Lavra of Saint Athanasius on Mount Athos, and part of the relics are at the Ivḗron monastery.
Synaxis of the Saints of Rostov
The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.
Archimandrite Abraham the Wonderworker (October 29, 1073-1077)
Prince Basil (+ 1238)
Metropolitan Demetrius (+ October 28, 1709 and September 21)
Bishop Ignatius (+ May 28, 1288)
Monk Irenarchus the Hermit (+ 1616)
Bishop Isaiah, wonderworker (+ May 15, 1090)
Blessed Isidore, Fool-for-Christ (+ 1474)
Bishop James (+ November 27, 1391)
Blessed John of the Hair-Shirt (the Merciful), Fool-for-Christ (+ 1580)
Bishop Leontius (+ May 23, 1073)
Peter, Tsarevich of Ordynsk (+ 1290)
Archbishop Theodore (+ November 28, 1394)
Princes Basil (+ 1249), Constantine (+ 1257), Theodore (+ 1299) and his sons David (+ 1321) and Constantine (XIV)
Prince Alexander Nevsky (+ 1263)
Prince Andrew of Smolensk (15th c.)
Monk Daniel the Archimandrite (+ 1540)
Monk Nikḗtas the Stylite (+ 1186)
Monk Cassian (+ 1504)
Tsarevich Demetrius (+ 1591)
Monk Ignatius of Lomsk (+ 1591)
Monk Paisius (+ 1504)
Prince Roman (+ 1285)
Hieromartyr Adrian (+ 1550)
Monk Gennadius of Liubimograd and Kostroma (+ 1565)
Monk Sebastian (+ 1542)
Monk Sylvester of Obnora (+ 1379)
Venerable Euphrosynē, Abbess of Polotsk
Saint Euphrosynē, Abbess of Polotsk, was named Predslava in the world, and was the daughter of Prince George Vseslavich. From her childhood she was noted for her love of prayer and book learning. After turning down a proposal of marriage, Predslava received monastic tonsure with the name Euphrosynē. With the blessing of Bishop Elias of Polotsk, she began to live near the Sophia cathedral, where she occupied herself by the copying of books.
Around the year 1128 Bishop Elias entrusted the nun with the task of organizing a women’s monastery. Setting out for Seltso, the site of the future monastery, the ascetic took only her holy books. At the newly constructed Savior-Transfiguration monastery the saint taught the girls to copy books, singing, sewing and other handicrafts.
Through her efforts, a cathedral was built in 1161, which survives to the present day. Saint Euphrosynē also founded a men’s monastery dedicated to the Mother of God. Patriarch Luke of Constantinople sent a copy of the wonderworking Ephesus Icon of the Mother of God at her request. Shortly before her death, Saint Euphrosynē journeyed on pilgrimage to the Holy Places with her nephew David and sister Eupraxia.
After venerating the holy things at Constantinople, she arrived in Jerusalem, where at the Russian monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos the Lord granted her a peaceful end on May 24, 1173.
In 1187 the body of the saint was transferred to the Kiev Caves monastery, and the relics were transferred to Polotsk in 1910 to the monastery she founded.
Saint Euphrosynē of Polotsk was glorified in the Russian Church as a patroness of women’s monasticism.
Venerable Paisius, Abbot of Galich
No information is available at this time.
Martyr Michael “the Black-Robed” of Saint Savva Monastery
The Venerable Michael lived in the ninth century, and was from the city of Edessa in Mesopotamia, the son of Christian parents. After their death he distributed his inheritance to the poor, then went to Jerusalem to venerate the Holy Places. The Holy Land at that time was under Moslem rule.
Michael remained in Palestine and settled in the Lavra of Saint Savva, where he became the disciple of his relative, Saint Theodore of Edessa (July 9), who spent his time both in the monastery and living as an anchorite in the Judean desert. Saint Theodore accepted him and tonsured him right away. The two made baskets of reeds together in order to support themselves. Saint Michael would take the baskets to the marketplace in Jerusalem in order to sell them.
One day while at the marketplace, the eunuch of the Muslim Queen Seida, seeing that the baskets were both fine and well-made, took him along to the Queen, who was visiting the city with her husband King al-Ma’mun (813-833). The handsome monk aroused the desire of the Queen, who tried to lead him into the sin of adultery, but he did not accept her suggestions. The enraged Seida told her husband to have the monk beaten with rods because he had insulted her, and accused him of being an enemy of Islam.
There was a debate about which faith is the true one, Christianity or Islam, and the king said, “Do as I tell you, and confess that Mohammed is a prophet and an apostle of Christ, then I will adopt you as my son.” Saint Michael said, “Mohammad is neither an apostle nor a prophet, but a deceiver and the forerunner of the antichrist. Either send me back to my Elder at the monastery, or be baptized into our Christian faith and reign forever in the heavens, or send me to Christ through martyrdom.”
The king gave the Saint a cup with deadly poison to drink. Saint Michael made the Sign of the Cross over the cup, and he drank it, but he remained unharmed, according to the promise of the Lord (Mark16:18). After this the king ordered that he be decapitated. The monks of the Lavra of Saint Savva wanted to take the Saint’s relics to their Lavra, but the Christians of Jerusalem would not permit this. They said that since he was martyred in Jerusalem, his relics ought to remain there.The monks of the Lavra disagreed with them, saying that he was nurtured in the Lavra and so he should be buried there. There was such a heated argument that the king decided that the relics would go to the Lavra.
On the same day that Saint Michael was put to death, the Lord revealed this to Saint Theodore. After informing the brethren, he sent some monks to bring the relics to the Lavra. As the relics were carried to the Lavra, there was a pillar of fire from Heaven accompanying the relics, and it remained until they reached the Lavra. Saint Theodore and the monks came out to meet the procession with lit candles, and singing hymns. The holy relics were buried with the other holy Fathers who had endured martyrdom. Many miracles took place before the relics of Saint Michael, as a sign that he had found favor with God.
At the beginning of the twelfth century the relics of Saint Michael were seen by Daniel, the Igoumen of the Kiev Caves Monastery, while on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Saint Michael is commemorated twice during the year: on May 23 (his repose) and July 29 (the transfer of his relics).
Saint Damiane (Demetrius), King and Hymnographer
Saint Damiane (in the world King Demetre I) was the son of Holy King Davit the Restorer.
King Davit proclaimed his son co-ruler of Georgia and crowned him with his own hands. He declared that his son Demetre, through his wisdom, chastity, bravery, and handsome appearance, would rule Georgia better than he himself had. Demetre acquired great glory while his father was still alive. In 1117 Davit sent him to Shirvan to fight, and the young commander astonished the people with his deftness in battle. Demetre seized Kaladzori Castle and returned home with many captives and much wealth.
King Demetre I struggled tirelessly to protect the inheritance he had received from his father: he guarded Georgia’s borders and fought to enlarge its frontiers. Many regions, including Hereti, Somkhiti, Tashiri, Javakheti, Artaani and the Tao border, were repopulated during King Demetre’s rule. These regions had been largely deserted after King Davit joined Tbilisi to the region of Heret-Kakheti.
King Demetre was never shaken by the evil intrigues plotted against him. First his noblemen revolted, demanding that his stepbrother, Vakhtang (Tsuata), replace him as king. (Ioane of Abuleti was the leader of this conspiracy.) Then Demetre’s own son Davit rebelled against him. Deeply disturbed by the behavior of his first-born son, the pious king could no longer bear the vanity of the world—he was tonsured a monk in the Davit-Gareji Wilderness and given the new name Damiane. He abdicated to his son, but Davit ruled just six months before he reposed.
While laboring at Davit-Gareji Monastery, Damiane composed many great hymns for the Church. His hymn to the Theotokos, “Thou Art the Vineyard,” is outstanding among these works. In order to protect the interests of the Georgian kingdom after his son’s death, Damiane was obliged to leave the monastery. He returned to the throne and intervened in the affairs of the government. At the same time he named another of his sons, George, co-ruler.
King Damiane-Demetre completed construction of Gelati Monastery, which had been started by his father, Holy King Davit the Restorer.
Saint Damiane reposed in 1157; he was buried at Gelati Monastery. A 12th-century image of Saint Damiane-Demetre was among the frescoes at the Davit-Gareji Monastery. In the 19th century the Russian traveler Andrew Muraviev reported seeing the fresco intact, but today only a narrow upper band of the image remains. A fresco of the pious king and monk Demetre has been preserved in the church at Matskhvarishi (now Latali) in the Svaneti region.
Icon of the Mother of God “You are a Vineyard” (Georgian: Shen khar venakhi)
The name of this Icon is derived from a poem to the Mother of God which was composed by Saint Damiane (King Demetre I before his monastic tonsure): "You are a vineyard newly-blossomed…."
Similar imagery may be found in other liturgical texts, such as the Theotokion of the Third Hour: (Tone 6) "You are the true vine who has blossomed forth the fruit of life. We beseech you, intercede, O Lady, together with the Apostles, and all the Saints, that mercy may be shown to our souls." and The Akathist to the Kursk Root Icon of the Theotokos (November 27), Ikos 4: "Hail, fruitful vine which quenches the thirst of all with the wine of compunction."
The Virgin is depicted holding the Divine Child on her left arm, with her left hand on His head. In her right hand, she holds a cluster of grapes. Both Saint Damiane and the Icon are commemorated today.
This Icon is also commemorated on January 1, the Feast of Saint Basil the Great, because on that day, through her Icon, the Most Holy Theotokos healed an unbelieving man of an incurable disease. After he was healed, he began to believe. Later, the Icon flowed with myrrh, and a multitude of healing miracles occurred.
Holy Myrrh-bearer Mary, the wife of Cleopas
According to Church Tradition, Saint Mary was the daughter of Saint Joseph the Betrothed by his first wife. She was still very young when the Most Holy Virgin Mary was betrothed to the Righteous Joseph and brought to his house. Thus, Saint Mary became the childhood friend of the Most Holy Theotokos.
After the Righteous Joseph returned to Nazareth from Egypt with the Savior and the Mother of God, he married his daughter to his younger brother Cleopas, so she is known as Mary, the wife of Cleopas.
The blessed fruit of that marriage was the Holy Hieromartyr Symeon (April 27), an Apostle of the Seventy, a kinsman of the Lord, and the second Bishop of the Church of Jerusalem.
Saint Mary, the wife of Cleopas, along with other pious women, accompanied the Lord during His public ministry. She was present during His suffering on the Cross, and at His burial. After the Sabbath had passed, she went to the tomb with other Myrrh-bearers to anoint the body of Jesus. There, she and the others heard the joyous news of the Lord's Resurrection from an Angel (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; Luke 24:4-11; John 19:25).
Saint Mary, the wife of Cleopas, is also commemorated on the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers, the third Sunday of Pascha.