6TH FRIDAY AFTER PASCHA
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Lucillian of Byzantium, 4 martyred Youths and Paula the Virgin, Athanasios the Wonderworker, Kevin, Abbot of Glendalough
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 19:1-8
In those days, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve of them in all. And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, arguing and pleading about the kingdom of God.
The Lord said to his disciples, "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.
Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father?' Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me.
Saint Lucillian was a pagan priest during the reign of the Roman emperor Aurelian (270-275). In his old age he became persuaded of the falseness of the pagan religion, and with all his heart he turned to the faith in Christ the Savior, and was baptized.
Under the influence of his preaching many pagans were converted to Christianity. Then certain Jews, seeing that he was spreading faith in Christ Whom they crucified, reported Lucillian to the Nicomedia prefect Silvanus, who urged the old man to return to idol-worship. When he refused, they smashed the saint’s jawbone, beat him with rods and suspended him head downward, and then they locked him in prison. Here he met four youths who were confessors of Christianity: Claudius, Hypatius, Paul and Dionysius. Saint Lucillian urged them to stand firm in the Faith, and to fear neither tortures nor death.
After a while they brought them to trial and then threw them into a red-hot furnace. Suddenly, rain fell and extinguished the flames, and the martyrs remained unharmed. The governor sentenced them to death, sending them to Byzantium to be executed. The holy youths were beheaded by the sword, and the holy martyr Lucillian was nailed to a cross with many nails.
The holy virgin Paula witnessed the contest of the holy martyrs. She had dedicated herself to the service of those suffering for Christ. She provided food to Christian prisoners, washed their wounds, brought medications, and also buried the bodies of martyrs. After the death of Saint Lucillian and the four young men, she returned to Nicomedia and continued with her holy service. The holy virgin was arrested and cast into a furnace, but by the power of God she remained unharmed. Then they sent her off to Byzantium, where the holy martyr was beheaded.
The Tsarevich Saint Demetrius, murdered on May 15, 1591, was glorified in the year 1606 “to stop lying lips and blind unbelieving eyes from saying that the Tsarevich had escaped alive from the hands of the murderers” after the appearance of a pretender, who declared himself to be the Tsarevich Demetrius.
The holy relics were solemnly transferred and placed in the Arkhangelsk cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, “in the side altar of John the Forerunner, where his father and his brothers were buried.”
After numerous miracles of healing from the holy relics, three feastdays for the Tsarevich Demetrius were established during this same year of 1606, his birthday (October 19), his murder (May 15), and the transfer of his relics to Moscow (June 3).
The Hieromartyr Lucian lived in Rome, and his pagan name was Lucius. He was converted to Christ by the Apostle Peter, and was baptized. After Saint Peter’s death, Saint Lucian preached the Gospel in Italy. Saint Dionysius the Areopagite (October 3), a disciple of Saint Paul, arrived in Rome at this time. At the request of Saint Clement, Pope of Rome (November 25), he agreed to preach the Gospel in the West, and gathered companions and helpers for this task. Saint Clement consecrated Saint Lucian a bishop, then sent him off with Saint Dionysius, Saints Marcellinus and Saturninus, the Presbyter Maximian, and the Deacon Julian.
The holy preachers sailed from Italy to Gaul (modern France). Saint Marcellinus and those accompanying him continued on to Spain. Saint Saturninus went to Gaul, and Saint Dionysius and the others went to the region of Paris. From there Saint Lucian went to Belgium with Maximian and Julian.
Saint Lucian’s preaching was very successful. By the power of his words and the example of his life, he converted a large number of pagans to Christianity. Saint Lucian was a strict ascetic, and all day long he ate only a morsel of bread and some water. Towards the converted he was kindly, always joyful and cheerful of face. Soon almost all the settlements of Belgium were converted to Christ.
During this period, the Roman emperor Dometian (81-96) initiated a second persecution against Christians (after that of Nero, 54-68), and he issued an edict prescribing torture and execution for anyone who refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods.
Three officials were sent to Belgium to carry out the edict. The Lord revealed to Saint Lucian the ordeal facing him. He gathered the flock together, urging them not to fear threats, tortures or death, and then he gave thanks to God for granting him the possibility of joining the company of the holy martyrs. After praying, Saint Lucian and the priest Maximian and Deacon Julian withdrew to the summit of a hill, where he continued to teach the people who came with him.
Here the soldiers of the emperor came upon the saints and led them away for trial. Saints Maximian and Julian were urged to renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to idols, but both refused and were beheaded.
Then the judge began to interrogate Saint Lucian, accusing him of sorcery and disobedience to the emperor and Senate. The saint replied that he was not a sorcerer, but rather a servant of the true God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he refused to offer sacrifice to idols made by human hands.
The saint was subjected to fierce beatings, during which he repeated, “Never will I cease to praise Christ, the Son of God, in my heart, and with my lips.” Then the holy martyr was beheaded. A heavenly light shone over his body, and the Voice of the Savior was heard, summoning the valiant sufferer into the heavenly Kingdom to receive the martyr’s crown. By the power of God the saint stood up, picked up his severed head, and crossed over the river. Reaching the burial spot he had chosen, he lay down upon the ground and reposed in peace.
Because of this great miracle about 500 pagans were converted to Christ. Later, a church was built over Saint Lucian’s grave, to which the relics of the martyrs Maximian and Julian were transferred.
Saint Kevin (Coemgen) was born in Leinster in the early decades of the sixth century, the age of Saints Columba (June 9), Columbanus of Luxeuil (November 21), Comgall of Bangor (May 10), Finnian of Clonard (December 12), Kieran of Clonmacnoise (September 9), and many other great saints.
This holy ascetic belonged to a noble family which had included several Kings of Leinster. He himself, however, was a model of humility and self-denial. There are several miraculous stories connected with his birth and childhood, but most are unreliable.
The holy youth was baptized by a priest named Cronan and was named Kevin, which means "fair-begotten." There are so many saints named Cronan that it is not clear which one baptized Saint Kevin. When he was seven years old, his parents sent him to be taught by Saint Petroc (June 4), who happened to be visiting Ireland at the time.
As a boy of twelve, Saint Kevin was placed in the charge of three holy Elders: Eogoin of Ardstraw (August 23), Lochan, and Enna. Little is known of these teachers or where their establishment was located. His secular studies were certainly enhanced by spiritual instruction. He learned to read the Holy Scriptures, and to profit from the example of the virtuous men and women of the Old and New Testaments.
Saint Kevin was so handsome that a young girl named Kathleen became inflamed with desire for him, but the holy youth resisted all her allurements. She pestered him so much with her attentions that he fled from her, just as Joseph fled from Potiphar's wife (Genesis 39:12). Kathleen followed him and found him alone in a field, so she approached him and threw her arms around him. Arming himself with the Sign of the Cross, and filled with the Holy Spirit, Saint Kevin broke away from her and ran into the woods. She soon discovered him hiding in a bed of nettles. Grabbing a bunch of nettles, the saint struck her about the face, hands and feet. Wounded by the nettles, the girl's passion quickly cooled. She fell on her knees in repentance, begged forgiveness from God and from Saint Kevin, and promised to become a nun.
After successfully resisting the temptations of the flesh, Saint Kevin continued to devote himself to his studies, and longed to live the monastic life as a hermit. This was a common practice in the Celtic Church, which was influenced by the lives of the Egyptian desert dwellers, and by monks who had come from Gaul. Saint Kevin was anxious to leave the monastery, but his three Elders would not let him go. However, he had acquired a reputation for holiness, and people from the surrounding area came to seek his advice. Desiring to flee from such unwelcome attention, he left the monastery in secret and went into the wilderness.
It is said that an angel led him to Glendalough (the Vale of the Two Lakes) where he lived in the hollow of a tree somewhere by the shores of the Upper Lake. The ascetic remained in this place for several days, living on wild herbs and water. A cow wandered off and came to the tree where the Saint was living, and began to lick his clothing. After some time had passed, the cow showed an unusual increase in its milk, so her owner told his herdsman follow the animal. She led him to Glendalough, and there the herdsman discovered Saint Kevin, weak with hunger, and hiding in the tree.
The herdsman had to remove Saint Kevin on a litter by force, since the holy ascetic did not wish to leave. As he was being carried off, the trees bent down to make way for them. Saint Kevin then bestowed his blessing on the forest.
News of Saint Kevin reached his three Elders, who came to bring him back to their monastery. Recognizing the holiness of his life, they understood that they had nothing more to teach him, so they blessed him to leave the monastery.
A certain Bishop Lugidus ordained Sain Kevin to the priesthood, and sent him and a few other monks to found a new church. He spent a little time converting people at Cluainduach, but later moved back to Glendalough.
Guided by an angel, Saint Kevin crossed the Wicklow Mountains and established a monastery in the lower part of the valley where two rivers flow together. Once the monastery was organized, he appointed one of the monks as abbot, and then he retired to the upper valley a mile away to resume his life of solitude. He built a small dwelling on a narrow place between the mountain and the lake, where there were dense woods and clear rivulets. Some sources say that Saint Kevin lived there for four years, while others say seven years.
During this period of his life, wild animals would come to drink water out of his hands. Once during Lent, Saint Kevin stood praying in his hut with his hand sticking out of the window. Just then a blackbird nested in his hand and laid an egg. So gentle and compassionate was the Saint that he remained in this position until the eggs hatched and the fledglings were able to fly away.
There is a small cave above the Upper Lake known as Saint Kevin's Bed. One year he retired there for Lent, and an angel came and told him he would have to move because a rock was about to fall on that spot. Saint Kevin told the angel he could not interrupt his Lenten struggles or leave that place. On the eve of Pascha the angel returned to take him away. The venerable one protested that he would like to remain there for the rest of his life. He was persuaded to go, however, by the angel's promise that great benefits would follow for all who would come there in the future, both to live in the monastic city and to be buried there. Just as he was leaving with the angel, the rock came tumbling down and landed on the very spot where he had been standing.
Crossing over the lake, they discussed the problem of finding sufficient space for so many people. The angel said that if Saint Kevin wished, God could transform the four mountains surrounding the valley to level fields, fruitful and easy to work. The holy ascetic replied that he would not want God's creatures to perish on his account. All of the animals of those mountains were tame and humble toward him, and they would be saddened by this proposal.
When they arrived at the chosen spot, Saint Kevin saw that the ground was rocky and unsuitable for burial. The angel fixed that by clearing all the stones away. The site is to the east of the smaller (Lower) lake. Saint Kevin told the local chieftain Dimma and his sons to cut away the thorns and thistles, and to make this a beautiful spot. It is not certain just where in the valley Saint Kevin fell asleep in the Lord. It was not at the hermitage, however, because he sent a party of monks there to pray for him. Local tradition says that Saint Kevin is buried in the church of the Mother of God in that vicinity.
Saint Kevin was succeeded as abbot by his nephew Molibba (Jan. 8), who seems to have been the first bishop there. According to the Annals of Ulster, the holy abbot and confessor Kevin departed to Christ on June 3, 618.