FATHERS OF THE 1ST COUNCIL
Fathers of the 1st Council, The Holy Hieromartyr Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre, Holy Martyrs Nicandrus, Gorgus and Apollonus and those with them, Christophoros & Konon the Martyrs of Rome
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 20:16-18, 28-36
IN THOSE DAYS, Paul had decided to sail past Ephesos, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. And from Miletos he sent to Ephesos and called to him the elders of the church. And when they came to him, he said to them: "Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities, and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by so toiling one must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, 'it is more blessed to give than to receive.' " And when he had spoken thus, he knelt down and prayed with them all.
At that time, Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work which you gave me to do; and now, Father, you glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made.
I have manifested your name to the men whom you gave me out of the world; yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you; for I have given them the words which you gave me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you did send me. I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are mine; all mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
Commemoration of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council
On the seventh Sunday of Pascha, we commemorate the holy God-bearing Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council.
The Commemoration of the First Ecumenical Council has been celebrated by the Church of Christ from ancient times. The Lord Jesus Christ left the Church a great promise, “I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18). Although the Church of Christ on earth will pass through difficult struggles with the Enemy of salvation, it will emerge victorious. The holy martyrs bore witness to the truth of the Savior’s words, enduring suffering and death for confessing Christ, but the persecutor’s sword is shattered by the Cross of Christ.
Persecution of Christians ceased during the fourth century, but heresies arose within the Church itself. One of the most pernicious of these heresies was Arianism. Arius, a priest of Alexandria, was a man of immense pride and ambition. In denying the divine nature of Jesus Christ and His equality with God the Father, Arius falsely taught that the Savior is not consubstantial with the Father, but is only a created being.
A local Council, convened with Patriarch Alexander of Alexandria presiding, condemned the false teachings of Arius. However, Arius would not submit to the authority of the Church. He wrote to many bishops, denouncing the decrees of the local Council. He spread his false teaching throughout the East, receiving support from certain Eastern bishops.
Investigating these dissentions, the holy emperor Constantine (May 21) consulted Bishop Hosius of Cordova (Aug. 27), who assured him that the heresy of Arius was directed against the most fundamental dogma of Christ’s Church, and so he decided to convene an Ecumenical Council. In the year 325, 318 bishops representing Christian Churches from various lands gathered together at Nicea.
Among the assembled bishops were many confessors who had suffered during the persecutions, and who bore the marks of torture upon their bodies. Also participating in the Council were several great luminaries of the Church: Saint Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia (December 6 and May 9), Saint Spyridon, Bishop of Tremithos (December 12), and others venerated by the Church as holy Fathers.
With Patriarch Alexander of Alexandria came his deacon, Athanasius [who later became Patriarch of Alexandria (May 2 and January 18)]. He is called “the Great,” for he was a zealous champion for the purity of Orthodoxy. In the Sixth Ode of the Canon for today’s Feast, he is referred to as “the thirteenth Apostle.”
The emperor Constantine presided over the sessions of the Council. In his speech, responding to the welcome by Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, he said, “God has helped me cast down the impious might of the persecutors, but more distressful for me than any blood spilled in battle is for a soldier, is the internal strife in the Church of God, for it is more ruinous.”
Arius, with seventeen bishops among his supporters, remained arrogant, but his teaching was repudiated and he was excommunicated from the Church. In his speech, the holy deacon Athanasius conclusively refuted the blasphemous opinions of Arius. The heresiarch Arius is depicted in iconography sitting on Satan’s knees, or in the mouth of the Beast of the Deep (Rev. 13).
The Fathers of the Council declined to accept a Symbol of Faith (Creed) proposed by the Arians. Instead, they affirmed the Orthodox Symbol of Faith. Saint Constantine asked the Council to insert into the text of the Symbol of Faith the word “consubstantial,” which he had heard in the speeches of the bishops. The Fathers of the Council unanimously accepted this suggestion.
In the Nicean Creed, the holy Fathers set forth and confirmed the Apostolic teachings about Christ’s divine nature. The heresy of Arius was exposed and repudiated as an error of haughty reason. After resolving this chief dogmatic question, the Council also issued Twelve Canons on questions of churchly administration and discipline. Also decided was the date for the celebration of Holy Pascha. By decision of the Council, Holy Pascha should not be celebrated by Christians on the same day with the Jewish Passover, but on the first Sunday after the first full moon of the vernal equinox (which occured on March 22 in 325).
The First Ecumenical Council is also commemorated on May 29.
Hieromartyr Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre
The Hieromartyr Dorotheus was bishop of the Phoenician city of Tyre, during the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Heeding the words of the Gospel (Mt.10:23), the saint withdrew from Tyre and hid from the persecutors. He returned to Tyre during the reign of Saint Constantine the Great (306-337, May 21), again occupying the bishop’s throne he guided his flock for more than fifty years, and converted many of the pagans to Christianity. When the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) began openly to persecute Christians, Saint Dorotheus was already over 100 years old. He withdrew from Tyre to the Myzean city of Udum (present day Bulgarian Varna). Delegates of the emperor arrested him there for his refusal to offer sacrifice to idols. They began to torture the holy Elder, and under torture he surrendered his soul to the Lord (+ ca. 362) at the age of 107.
Some ascribe to Saint Dorotheus the compilation of a work, “The Synopsis”, a collection of sayings, and including lives of the holy prophets and apostles
Translation of the relics of the Right-believing Igor-George, Tonsured Gabriel, Grand Prince of Chernigov, and Kiev
The Transfer of Relics of Saint Igor, Great Prince of Kiev The Kievan Great Prince Igor Ol’govich, in holy Baptism George (September 19), in the year 1146 suffered defeat and was taken captive by prince Izyaslav, who imprisoned him in one of the monasteries of Russian or Southern Pereyaslavl’ (now Pereyaslavl’-Khmel’nitsk). Far removed from the vanities of this world, and grievously ill, he began to repent of his sins and asked permission to be tonsured a monk. On January 5, 1147 Bishop Euthymius of Pereyaslavl’ tonsured him into monasticism with the name Gabriel. Soon he recovered his health and transferred to the Kiev Theodorov monastery, where he became a schemamonk with the name Ignatius, and devoted himself entirely to monastic efforts.
But a storm of fratricidal hatred raged over Kiev. The Chernigov princes, cousins of Igor, plotted to entice Izyaslav of Kiev into a joint campaign with the aim of capturing, or even killing him. The plot was uncovered when the prince was already on the way to Chernigov. The Kievans were in an uproar in learning of the ruse of the Chernigovichi, and they stormed into the place where the innocent Saint Igor was. Saint Igor was brutally murdered on September 19, 1147.
The Lord glorified the sufferer with miracles. With the blessing of Metropolitan Clement Smolyatich, Igumen Ananias of the Theodorov monastery buried the passion-bearer in the church of the Kiev Simonov monastery. On June 5, 1150, when the Kiev throne had become occupied by Yuri Dolgoruky, his confederate and the murdered Igor’s brother, the Chernigov prince Svyatoslav Ol’govich, solemnly transferred the holy relics of Saint Igor to Chernigov his native region, where they were placed into a reliquary in the Savior cathedral church. Then also the Feastday in memory of the saint was established.
Blessed Constantine, Metropolitan of Kiev
In 1147 Saint Igor Ol’govich (September 19, June 5) was defeated and captured by Izyaslav Mstislavich, the grandson of Saint Vladimir (July 15). Izyaslav then replaced Saint Igor as Great Prince.
The See of Kiev had been left vacant after the death of Metropolitan Michael in 1145, and Izyaslav chose the learned Schemamonk Clement of Smolensk to succeed him. He wanted the candidate to be consecrated by bishops in Russia, instead of sending him to Constantinople for consecration. Because of the great distance between Kiev and Constantinople Izyaslav called a council of Russian bishops, and ordered them to consecrate Clement as Metropolitan of Kiev.
Not all of the bishops were in agreement with this plan, notably the holy Archbishop Niphon of Novgorod (April 8). Other hierarchs also refused to participate in the consecration without the blessing of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Clement’s consecration took place in spite of the objections that had been raised.
After Izyaslav’s reign, he was succeeded by Yuri (George) Dolgoruky. This Great Prince regarded the consecration as illegal and uncanonical, and so he sent Saint Constantine (Smolyatich) to Constantinople to be consecrated as Metropolitan of Kiev by the Patriarch. Upon his return to Kiev, Saint Constantine, by the authority of the Patriarch, deposed Clement from his rank, and also deposed those who had been ordained by him.
When the Great Prince Yuri completed the course of his life disputes arose over who should succeed him as Great Prince. There was also disagreement about who was the rightful Metropolitan of Kiev, and Izyaslav’s son Mstislav supported Clement. Therefore, the Russian princes decided that both Clement and Constantine should be deposed, and requested the Patriarch of Constantinople to send them a new Metropolitan for Kiev.
Hoping to put an end to the disputes among the princes, the Patriarch sent Theodore to Kiev as the new Metropolitan. Saint Constantine, wishing to avoid further tumult in the Church, stepped down as Metropolitan and went to Chernigov, where he became gravely ill.
Feeling that he was approaching the end of his life, Saint Constantine composed a Testament, which he entrusted to Bishop Anthony of Chernigov. He also made Bishop Anthony promise that he would fulfill all the directives contained in the Testament after Constantine’s death.
When Saint Constantine reposed in 1159, Bishop Anthony took the Testament to Prince Svyatoslav of Chernigov, broke the seal, and read the document aloud. One of the provisions of the Testament was that Saint Constantine’s body should not be buried, but dragged out of the city to be left as food for dogs. This was because he felt responsible for the discord in the Church.
Everyone who heard the reading of the Testament was filled with horror. Prince Svyatoslav told the bishop to do as he saw fit. Since he had given his promise to Saint Constantine to abide by the terms of the Testament, he did not dare to go back on his word. So the saint’s body was taken from the city and left in a field.
On that very day the sky grew dark over Kiev, and strong winds, earthquakes, thunder and lightning broke out. It is said that eight people were hit by lightning at the same time.
Prince Rostislav of Kiev was in Povari at Vyshgorod at the time. He had received news of the death of Metropolitan Constantine, so he sent messages to the Church of the Holy Wisdom and to other churches, asking for all-night vigils to be conducted throughout the city. He believed that the citizens of Kiev were being punished by the Lord for their sins.
While all of these things were taking place in Kiev, the sun shone brightly in Chernigov. However, three pillars of fire appeared at night over the body of Saint Constantine. Seeing this marvel, many were filled with fear. On the third day that the body lay in the field, Prince Svyatoslav ordered that the body of the Metropolitan be buried with all the honor befitting his rank.
The body of the saint was carried into the city and buried in the church of the Savior, where Saint Igor, who was killed by the inhabitants of Kiev, had also been interred. After the burial of Saint Constantine, peace returned to Kiev, and all the people glorified God.
Repose of Saint Theodore Yaroslavich, older brother of Saint Alexander Nevsky
Holy Prince Theodore of Novgorod, the elder brother of Saint Alexander Nevsky, was born in the year 1218. His princely service to his native land began at a very early age. In 1229 both brothers had been left in Novgorod by their father Yaroslav Vsevolodovich as his representatives. But not even a year passed before the young princes had to quit Novgorod. The turbulent Novgorod people in their “veche” (“government council”) decided to invite another prince. But in the very next year, 1230, during a time of famine and epidemic, the Novgorodians again invited Yaroslav to rule them. On December 30, 1230 he sat as prince in Novgorod for the fourth time, but he remained in the city for only two weeks, when he installed his sons there and went off to Pereyaslavl-Zalessk. In 1232 the fourteen-year-old Theodore was already summoned to serve God not only in prayer, but also by the sword. He took part in a campaign of the Russian troops against the pagan Mordovian princes.
In the year 1233 at the wish of his father he was obliged to enter into marriage with Theodoulia, the daughter of the holy Prince Michael of Chernigov. When the guests had already gathered at the wedding feast, the bridegroom suddenly died. After the unexpected death of her groom, the princess left the world and was tonsured in one of the Suzdal monasteries, famed in her monastic efforts as Saint Euphrosynē of Suzdal (September 25).
Saint Theodore was buried in the Yuriev monastery in Novgorod. In the year 1614 the Swedes, having pillaged the monastery, broke open the tomb of the prince and finding him whole and incorrupt, they mocked the holy relics, and finally abandoned the body in the churchyard. Years later, Metropolitan Isidore of Novgorod transferred the relics to Novgorod’s cathedral of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia), placing them in the chapel of the holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John. There they remained until 1919, when they were removed by the Bolsheviks.
The service to Saint Theodore was compiled in the year 1787 by Metropolitan Gabriel of Petersburg and Novgorod (+ 1801).
Finding of the Relics of Venerable Bassian and Jonah, Monks of Pertominsk
Saints Bassian and Jonah were monks of the Solovki Transfiguration monastery and disciples of Igumen Philip, who later became Metropolitan of Moscow (January 9).
These holy monks were glorified by the Lord after their death in 1561.
Fishermen and sailors came to pray in the chapel, built in 1599 over their grave by the Trinity-Sergiev monastery Elder Mamant. There in 1623 the hieromonk James founded a monastery, called Pertominsk.
Martyrs Marcian, Nicander, Hyperechius, Appolonius, Leonidas, Arius, Gorgias, Pambo, Selenia, and Irene of Egypt
The Holy Martyrs Marcian, Nicander, Hyperechius, Apollonius, Leonidas, Arius, Gorgias, Pambo, and the women martyrs Selenia and Irene were natives of Egypt and suffered during the reign of Maximian (305-311). For their steadfast confession of faith in Christ they were subjected to a fierce scourging. They then threw the sufferers barely alive into prison, where an angel appeared to them and healed their wounds. The holy martyrs died in prison from hunger and thirst.
Venerable Theodore, Wonderworker and Hermit of the Jordan
Saint Theodore the Wonderworker lived during the sixth century. In his youth he forsook the world in order to become a monk, withdrawing into the Jordanian wilderness. He lived a life of asceticism, and so he received from God the gift of wonderworking. Once, while he was journeying to Constantinople by ship, the ship went off course. Soon they ran out of drinking water, and the travelers were nearly dead from thirst. Saint Theodore prayed to God and made the Sign of the Cross over the sea. Then he told the sailors to draw some water from the sea and drink it. When they did so, they discovered that the water was fresh.
The passengers began to thank the saint and to honor him for saving them by providing fresh water. Saint Theodore said that they ought to thank God, who had performed this miracle because of His love for mankind. In his humility, he told them that it was not the result of his unworthy prayers.
Saint Theodore departed to the Lord in the year 583.
Venerable Anubius the Confessor and Anchorite of Egypt
Saint Anubius the Ascetic bravely endured tortures during the time of persecutions against Christians in the fourth century, but he remained alive and withdrew into the wilderness, where he dwelt until old age. He founded a small skete, in which he lived with six monks, one of whom was his brother Saint Pimen the Great (August 27). Once robbers laid waste to the skete, and the monks had to hide themselves in the ruins of a pagan temple, while having given their word not to speak with each other for a week. In the morning all week long Saint Anubius threw a stone at the face of the statue of the pagan god, and in the evening he said to it, “I have sinned.”
At the end of the week the brethren asked Abba Anubius what his actions signified, and the Elder explained that just as the statue did not get angry when he struck it, nor get flattered when he asked forgiveness of it, so the brethren ought to live. Three days before his end Saint Anubius was visited by the desert-dwellers Cyrus, Isaiah, and Paul, who asked the Elder to tell them about his life for the edification of believers. The saint replied, “I do not recall that I did anything great or glorious.” However, swayed by the entreaties of his questioners, in deep humility he related to them that during the time of persecutions he confessed the Name of Christ under torture, after this he had never defiled his lips with a lie, since after he had confessed Truth, he did not want to utter falsehood.
Three days later, Saint Anubius reposed in spiritual joy. The aforementioned Fathers said that they heard the singing of angels who came to receive his soul.
His heart was ever filled with a thirst for communion with the Lord, and he had often seen angels and the holy saints of God standing before the Lord. He also beheld Satan and his angels committed to the eternal flames. He is mentioned in the LAUSIAC HISTORY of Palladius, and his sayings can be found in the Paradise of the Fathers and in the Evergetinos.
Venerable Abba Dorotheus of Palestine
The Holy Abba Dorotheus was a disciple of Saint John the Prophet in the Palestinian monastery of Abba Seridus in the sixth century.
In his youth he had zealously studied secular science. “When I sought worldly knowledge,” wrote the abba, “it was very difficult at first. When I would come to take a book, I was like a man about to touch a wild beast. When I forced myself to study, then God helped me, and diligence became such a habit that I did not know what I ate, what I drank, whether I had slept, nor whether I was warm or not. I was oblivious to all this while reading. I could not be dragged away by my friends for meals, nor would I even talk with them while I was absorbed in reading. When the philosopher let us go, I went home and washed, and ate whatever was prepared for me. After Vespers, I lit a lamp and continued reading until midnight.” — so absorbed was Abba Dorotheus in his studies at that time.
He devoted himself to monastic activity with an even greater zeal. Upon entering the monastery, he says in his tenth Instruction, he decided that his study of virtue ought to be more fervent than his occupation with secular science had been.
One of the first obediences of Abba Dorotheus was to greet and to see to pilgrims arriving at the monastery. It gave him opportunity to converse with people from various different positions in life, bearing all sorts of burdens and tribulations, and contending against manifold temptations. With the means of a certain brother Saint Dorotheus built an infirmary, in which also he served. The holy abba himself described his obedience, “At the time I had only just recovered from a serious illness. Travellers would arrive in the evening, and I spent the evening with them. Then camel drivers would come, and I saw to their needs. It often happened that once I had fallen asleep, other things arose requiring my attention. Then it would be time for Vigil.” Saint Dorotheus asked one of the brethren to wake him up for for Vigil, and another to prevent him from dozing during the service. “Believe me,” said the holy abba, “I revered and honored them as though my salvation depended upon them.”
For ten years Abba Dorotheus was cell-attendant for Saint John the Prophet (Feb. 6). He was happy to serve the Elder in this obedience, even kissing the door to his cell with the same feeling as another might bow down before the holy Cross. Distressed that he was not fulfilling the word of Saint Paul that one must enter the Kingdom of Heaven through many tribulations (Acts 14:22), Abba Dorotheus revealed this thought to the Elder. Saint John replied, “Do not be sad, and do not allow this to distress you. You are in obedience to the Fathers, and this is a fitting delight to the carefree and calm.” Besides the Fathers at the monastery of Abba Seridus, Saint Dorotheus visited and listened to the counsels of other great ascetics of his time, among whom was Abba Zosima.
After the death of Saint John the Prophet, when Abba Barsanuphius took upon himself complete silence, Saint Dorotheus left the monastery of Abba Seridus and founded another monastery, the monks of which he guided until his own death.
Abba Dorotheus wrote 21 Discourses, several Letters, and 87 Questions with written Answers by Saints Barsanuphius the Great and John the Prophet. In manuscript form are 30 Talks on Asceticism, and written counsels of Abba Zosima. The works of Abba Dorotheus are imbued with a deep spiritual wisdom, distinguished by a clear and insightful style, but with a plain and comprehensible expression. The Discourses deal with the inner Christian life, gradually rising up in measure of growth in Christ. The saint resorted often to the advice of the great hierarchs, Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and Gregory of Nyssa. Obedience and humility, the combining of deep love for God with love for neighbor, are virtues without which spiritual life is impossible. This thought pervades all the writings of Abba Dorotheus.
In his writings the personal experience of Abba Dorotheus is felt everywhere. His disciple, Saint Dositheus (February 19), says of him, “Towards the brethren laboring with him he responded with modesty, with humility, and was gracious without arrogance or audacity. He was good-natured and direct, he would engage in a dispute, but always preserved the principle of respect, of good will, and that which is sweeter than honey, oneness of soul, the mother of all virtues.”
The Discourses of Abba Dorotheus are preliminary books for entering upon the path of spiritual action. The simple advice, how to proceed in this or that instance, together with a most subtle analysis of thoughts and stirrings of soul provide guidance for anyone who resolves to read the works of Abba Dorotheus. Monks who begin to read this book, will never part from it throughout their life.
The works of Abba Dorotheus are to be found in every monastery library and are constantly reprinted. In Russia, his soul-profiting Instruction, together with the Replies of the Monks Barsanuphius the Great and John the Prophet, were extensively copied, together with The Ladder of Divine Ascent of Saint John Climacus and the works of Saint Ephraim the Syrian. Saint Cyril of White Lake (June 9), despite his many duties as igumen, with his own hand transcribed the Discourses of Abba Dorotheus, as he did also the Ladder of Divine Ascent.
The Discourses of Abba Dorotheus pertain not only to monks; this book should be read by anyone who aspires to fulfill the commands of Christ.
Saint Peter of Korisha
Saint Peter was born in 1211 in the village of Unjimir between the city of Pech and the Field of Kosovo. As a child, he was meek and humble, and seldom participated in children’s games. At an early age, he and his younger sister Helena devoted themselves to prayer and fasting. When he was ten years old, the future saint told his parents that he wished to serve God by becoming a monk.
Saint Peter’s father died when the boy was fourteen, so he put off his plans to enter the monastery in order to care for his mother and sister. At the same time, he increased his ascetical efforts. When Saint Peter was sixteen, his beloved mother reposed. Determined to enter a monastery, he asked his sister whether she intended to be married, for his conscience would not allow him to abandon her unless he had provided for her. Helena said that it was her wish to preserve her virginity and become a nun. She said she would share his life of prayer and asceticism if only he would take her with him. Peter rejoiced and replied, “May the Lord’s will be done.”
They sold their family possessions and distributed the money to the poor. Traveling to Pec, they reached the Monastery of Saints Peter and Paul. Peter remained here, while Helena entered a nearby women’s monastery. After several years, both were granted permission to live in solitude.
Peter built two cells, one for himself and one for his sister, near the monastery. They spent their time in continual prayer and fasting, freeing themselves from worldly attachments, subduing the flesh, and struggled on the path of salvation.
These two spiritual lamps could not remain hidden for very long. People started coming to them for spiritual counsel and healing. Saint Peter and his sister agreed to avoid the snare of vainglory by moving to a more remote area. They went to Crna Reka (the town of Black River) on the Ibar River.
Saint Peter wished to move even farther into the woods for a life of even greater asceticism, but was reluctant to leave his sister. On the other hand, he was concerned that she might risk her physical and spiritual health if she were to come with him, so he decided to slip away and leave her in order to live alone on a mountain. He did not get very far before she noticed he was gone. She caught up to him and they traveled together to a mountain near the town of Prizren. On top of the mountain was a town called Korisha (modern Kabash), where they stopped to rest. Helena went to sleep there in the grass. Saint Peter wept and made the Sign of the Cross over her, then went off into the forest. When she awoke and found him gone, she wept and called his name. Finally, she went down from the mountain and lived in Prizren for the rest of her life. Saint Helena is also commemorated on June 5 with her brother, Saint Peter.
The holy ascetic lived in a cave near Korisha, where he continued his spiritual struggles in the heat of summer and in the cold of winter. He withstood the temptations and attacks of the demons which assailed him. When this happened, he sang Psalms and hymns all night until the sun came up in the morning. He fervently prayed for God to help and comfort him in his struggles. The Archangel Michael appeared to him and drove away the demons, promising Saint Peter that they would never enter his cell again. The Archangel warned him to be vigilant and to persevere, for the Devil wished to destroy him. After advising the saint to call upon the name of the Lord whenever he was attacked by the forces of evil, the holy Archangel vanished.
Saint Peter still endured temptations, but was victorious against all of them. Realizing his own weakness, he turned to Christ, Who strengthened him and sustained him. After these victories, the Lord consoled him with a vision of the Uncreated Light which lasted several days. From that time forward, Saint Peter was illumined by the grace of God, so no demon ever dared to approach him again.
Before Saint Peter’s death, many monks were sent to him by God, and he guided all of them. He blessed them and tonsured them, and permitted them to live in the caves below his cave. Forseeing the approach of death, he dug out a tomb for himself in the wall of his cell.
Acceding to the wish of his disciples, he told them the story of his life. Then he and his disciples received the Life-Giving Mysteries of Christ. After bidding each brother farewell, he surrendered his soul to God on June 5, 1275.
On the night of his blessed repose, a heavenly light was seen in his cave, and the singing of angels was heard by the other monks. In the morning, Saint Peter’s face shone with radiance, and a sweet fragrance came from his body. After the saint’s burial, many of those who came to his tomb were healed of their physical and spiritual infirmities. Seventy years later, King Dushan built a church at Korisha over Saint Peter’s relics, and dedicated it to the God-bearing ascetic.
The holy relics of Saint Peter were later transferred to the Black River monastery, then to the church of the Archangel Michael in the city of Kalashin.
Many of the icons of Saint Peter proved to be miracle working. The inscription reads: “Saint Peter of Korisha, desert-dweller and wonderworker.”
Icon of the Mother of God of Igor
The Igor Icon of the Mother of God.
The holy Passion-Bearer and Great Prince of Kiev Igor Ol’govich (September 19, 1147), prayed before this icon during the last moments of his life. It was in the chapel of Saint John the Theologian in the Dormition cathedral of the Kiev Caves Lavra. This icon was of old Greek origin, and had an inscription saying that it belonged to Saint Igor.