5TH SATURDAY AFTER PASCHA
Hieromartyr Eutychius, Bishop of Melitene, Nikitas, Bishop of Chalcedon, Helikonis the Martyr, Heladios the Hieromartyr of the East, Zacharias the New Martyr
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 15:35-41
IN THOSE DAYS, Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Come, let us return and visit the brethren in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’ And Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp contention, so that they separated from each other; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
The Lord said to the Jews who came to him, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.
The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?" The Jews answered him, "It is not for a good work that we stone you but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God." Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, you are gods?' If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and scripture cannot be broken), do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming, ' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe my works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.
Saint Nikḗtas, Bishop of Chalcedon, lived during the second half of the eighth century. For his God-pleasing life he was consecrated as Bishop of Chalcedon.
Saint Nikḗtas distinguished himself by his charity, he always helped the poor, he lodged travelers in his home, he cared for orphans and widows, and he interceded for those who had been wronged.
During the reign of the iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820), Saint Nikḗtas bravely denounced the Iconoclast heresy and urged his flock to venerate the holy icons of Christ, the Theotokos, and the saints. Saint Nikḗtas endured much suffering from the impious emperor and his like-minded cohorts. He was subjected to tortures and sent off to exile.
The holy confessor Nikḗtas died at the beginning of the ninth century. From his relics occurred many miracles of healing. The Canon of the service, written by the priest Joseph of Constantinople, also includes Saint Nikḗtas’s brother, Saint Ignatius, among the saints.
Saint Ignatius was Bishop of Rostov, and shepherded his flock for twenty-six years. After his death on May 28, 1288, his body was brought to the church. Some people saw him leave his coffin, and float in the air above the church. He blessed the people and the city, then went back to his coffin.
Many miracles took place at his grave.
The Hieromartyr Eutychius, Bishop of Melitene, was a co-worker with the Holy Apostles, and he suffered for Christ in the city of Melitene during the first century.
The Holy Martyr Heliconis lived during the third century in the city of Thessalonica. Saint Heliconis arrived in the city of Corinth during a persecution of Christians, and urged the pagans to stop serving senseless idols and instead to worship the one true God, the Creator of the universe.
She was arrested and brought before the governor Perinus, who vainly attempted to persuade the saint to offer sacrifice to idols, both by flattery and by threats. The holy martyr was subjected to tortures, but she bravely endured them. Then they threw her into a hot furnace, but she emerged from it unharmed, because an angel of the Lord had cooled the flames.
Thinking the saint was a sorceress, the governor invented new torments for her. They tore the skin from her head, and burned her breasts and head with fire. After halting the torture, the judge again attempted to urge Saint Heliconis to offer sacrifice to the idols, promising her honors and the title of priestess. The saint seemed to consent, and the pagan priests and the people led her to the pagan temple with the sounds of trumpet and drum.
At the saint’s request, they left her there alone. Saint Heliconis, filled with heroic strength, cast down and smashed all the idols. When some time had passed, the pagan priests entered their temple. Seeing the destruction, they were even more enraged and cursed the holy virgin shouting, “Put the sorceress to death!” They beat the holy martyr, and then they threw her into prison, where she spent five days.
Christ the Savior and the holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel appeared to the holy martyr in prison and healed her of her wounds. Finally, they sent the saint to be torn apart by wild beasts. They set loose three hungry lions upon her, but the beasts came up to the martyr meekly and lay down at her feet. The pagan mob shouted and cried, “Death to the sorceress.”
But at this point the lions jumped out of the arena and pounced on the people, who fled in terror. Not knowing what else to do, the governor ordered that Saint Heliconis be beheaded. The saint went to execution with joy and heard a Voice summoning her to the heavenly habitations.
She contested in the year 244, and her body was reverently buried by Christians.
The Hieromartyr Helladius the Bishop was thrown into fire because of his faith in Christ, but he remained unharmed. He died as a martyr from the terrible beating inflicted upon him.
In the Service to Saint Helladius it is said that the Lord Jesus Christ visited him in prison and healed him of his wounds. According to certain sources, Saint Helladius suffered under the Persians during their invasion into the Eastern part of the Roman Empire in the fourth century.
Saint Germanus was born near Autun in 496. He was abbot of Saint Symphorian’s monastery at Autun, and was made Bishop of Paris around 536. He was tireless and courageous in his efforts to end civil strife and to restrain the viciousness of the Frankish kings, though he was not very successful in this. Saint Radegund (August 13) appealed to him for protection from her cruel husband King Chlotar I.
Saint Germanus founded a monastery at Paris, and was buried in its church after his death in 576. This is the renowned monastery of Saint Germaine-des-Pres.
The “Softener (or “Consoler”) of Evil Hearts” Icon of the Mother of God is similar to the “Seven Arrows” Icon (August 13). It depicts the Theotokos with seven swords piercing her heart (Luke 2:35). There are three swords on the right side, three on the left, and one from below. In Holy Scripture the
number seven indicates wholeness, completeness, and fullness. In this case, it represents the fullness of sorrow, grief, and pain which the Most Holy Theotokos endured during her earthly life. The icon appears to be of Western origin.
The “Softener of Evil Hearts” Icon is also commemorated on the Sunday of All Saints.
The Venerable Sophronios (Stephen in the world) was from the village of Penkovts (Пенкьовци) in Bulgaria, and lived during the XV and XVI centuries. He was a Hieromonk at the Penkovsky Monastery near Sofia. Learning that Turkish invaders were about to attack the monastery, he fled to Vlahia (in what is now Romania) and lived in a monastery near the Danube River.
Later, the Saint devoted himself to continual ascetical labors of fasting, vigil, and prayer, in the monastic community of Rusensk, which may have been founded by Saint Joachim (January 18), the Patriarch of Trnovo.
Saint Sophronios reposed peacefully on May 28, 1510, and was known for his philanthropy and almsgiving. Some sources say that he was murdered by a servant, and that after three years his relics were found incorrupt.
No information available at this time.
The Nicaea Icon of the Mother of God appeared in the city of Nicaea in Asia Minor in the year 304, as the city was under siege. One of the soldiers, whose name was Constantine, saw the Icon of the Theotokos and threw a stone at it. Then he began to trample it underfoot. That night, the Mother of God appeared in a dream to the soldier who had perpetrated this sacrilege and said: "You have insulted me most grievously, and it shall lead to your death."
The following day, during the battle, the impious man was struck in the head with a stone and fell down dead.
This event was mentioned by the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council in 325, and they ordained that the following hymn, "Your womb has become a Holy Table, which held the Heavenly Bread. Those who partake of it shall not die, as the Nourisher of all has said, O Theotokos." should be sung before the Nicaea Icon of the Mother of God.
Christ stated that He is the Bread of Life which had come down from Heaven when He spoke to the crowd at Capernaum (John 6:50).
This Theotokion is sung at Mid-Pentecost during Ode 5 of the Second Canon (Tone 8), which was composed by Saint Andrew of Crete. In some Orthodox Prayer Books, it is one of the Prayers After the Evening Meal.
The Nicaea Icon is very similar in appearance to the “Inexhaustible Chalice” Icon (May 5).
No information available at this time.