REMOVAL OF THE RELICS OF THEODORE THE COMMANDER
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Removal of the Relics of Theodore the Commander, Kalliope the Martyr, Melania the Righteous, Anastasios the New Martyr of Constantinople, Theophanes the New Martyr of Constantinople
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS 2:4-10
Brethren, God who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God: not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
The Lord said to his disciples, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”
Translation of the relics of the Greatmartyr Theodore Stratelates
The Holy Great Martyr Theodore Stratelates suffered for Christ in Heraklea on February 8, 319. At the time of his sufferings the holy Great Martyr Theodore ordered his servant Varus to bury his body on the estate of his parents in Euchaita. The transfer of the relics of the Great Martyr Theodore took place on June 8, 319.
On this day we also recall a miracle of the icon of the Great Martyr Theodore in a church dedicated to him at a place called Karsat, near Damascus. A group of Saracens had turned this church into their residence. There was a fresco on the wall depicting Theodore. One of the Saracens shot an arrow into the icon of the Great Martyr. From the saint’s face, where the arrow had stuck into the wall, blood flowed before the eyes of everyone. A short while later, the Saracens who had settled in the church killed each other. Accounts of this miracle are given by Saints [or, “by the holy Fathers”] Anastasius of Mt. Sinai (April 20) and John of Damascus (December 4).
Saint Theodore, first Bishop of Rostov and Suzdal
The great wonderworker Saint Theodore, who was a Greek by birth, was the first Bishop of Rostov. He was consecrated as a bishop in the year 991 or 992. At that time, most of the Rostov territory was still pagan, and Saint Theodore worked tirelessly to proclaim the Gospel to the people of that area.
The inhabitants subjected the hierarch to many insults, and they even drove him away on one occasion. Then Saint Theodore moved to Suzdal, where he brought many souls to Christ. He fell asleep in the Lord at Suzdal in 1023, resting from his fruitful apostolic labors. His holy relics are in Suzdal's Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos Cathedral.
Portions of his holy relics are also kept in two other churches at Suzdal: that of the Kazan Icon, and that of Saints Constantine and Helen.
Saint Theodore is also commemorated at the Synaxis of the Saints of Rostov and Yaroslavl (May 23), and at the Synaxis of the Saints of Vladimir (June 23).
Today's saint should not be confused with Saint Theodore of Rostov (November 28), who reposed in 1395, and was the nephew of Saint Sergius of Radonezh (September 25).
Finding of the Relics of Saints Basil and Constantine, Princes of Yaroslavl
The holy Princes Basil and Constantine Vsevolodovich of Yaroslavl.
In their youth they lost their father, Vsevolod, who fell in battle with the Tatars (Mongols). Saint Basil, the elder brother, succeeded to the throne. As prince, he had to face a multitude of concerns, tasks and sorrows. The city and the villages were devastated from the invasion of the Tatars, many households remained without shelter and food, and he had to concern himself about everything and about everyone. Besides this, it was necessary to gain the good will of the Tatar Khan, and the holy prince more than once journeyed for this reason to the Horde. He suffered also a family misfortune, the loss of his only son.
All his tribulations the holy prince suffered without complaint, and he ruled the princedom, like a true Christian. He did not enter into disputes with other princes, he concerned himself with the unfortunate among his subjects, and he built churches. But soon his life, filled with many sorrows, exhausted the strength of the prince, and he took sick and died in the year 1249.
After him holy Prince Constantine succeeded to the throne. He strove to imitate his brother, but to his great dismay, everywhere he saw pillage and murdering done by the Tatars. In 1257 the Tatars fell upon Yaroslavl itself. The prince came out to fight the enemy, but here in this battle he gave up his life for his country. In the year 1501 the incorrupt relics of the holy princes were uncovered and now rest in the Yaroslav cathedral.
Saint Ephraim, Patriarch of Antioch
Saint Ephraim, Patriarch of Antioch, a Syrian, was a military general under the emperors Anastasius (491-518) and Justin (518-527). The saint was distinguished for his virtue, piety, and compassion for all the destitute.
In the year 526 the Lord punished Antioch for Christians falling into the heresies of Nestorius and Eutyches: an earthquake destroyed this magnificent city. A large number of the inhabitants perished. Patriarch Euphrasios was crushed beneath a fallen column.
The emperor summoned Ephraim to oversee the restoration of the ruined city. Among the workers was a bishop who left his see for unknown reasons. He predicted to Ephraim his election to the patriarchal throne and asked him not to abandon deeds of charity, and to struggle firmly against the heretics. In the year 527 Ephraim was indeed elected to the patriarchal throne. He governed his flock firmly and wisely by the example of his life. He also defended it against heretical teachings through his sermons and letters.
The following event gives some idea of his faith. Near Herakleia was a stylite practicing asceticism, who had fallen into heresy. Learning about the ascetic, Ephraim went to him and urged him to be reunited to the Orthodox Church. The stylite was not agreeable. He decided to frighten the patriarch and he offered to kindle a large bonfire, so that they both might enter the fire. The bonfire was set, but the stylite did not dare to go into it. The patriarch prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ to show that his was the correct faith and, removing his omophorion, he put it in the bonfire. After three hours the firewood was consumed, but the omophorion of the saint was taken out unharmed. The stylite was converted from his heresy and reunited to the Church.
Ephraim fell asleep in the Lord in the year 545 AD.
Among his labors, Ephraim defended the teaching of the Orthodox Church on the union of two natures, the divine and the human, in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Venerable Zosimus of Phoenicia, Syria
Saint Zosimus of Phoenicia was born in the Syrian village of Synda, near the city of Tyre. He accepted monasticism and was zealous in his fasting, prayer, labors and other virtues. The monk received from God the gift of clairvoyance. When he was at Caesarea, he foresaw the terrible earthquake which destroyed Antioch in the year 526.
Once, the patrician Arkesilaos visited the monk. During this time a messenger informed Arkesilaos that his wife had punctured her eye with a needle and was in terrible pain. But the monk put his guest at ease and said that the holy Bishop John the Chozebite (October 3) had healed his wife.
Zosimus attained such a degree of spiritual accomplishment that wild beasts were submissive to him. Once on the way to Caesarea a hungry lion pounced upon the monk’s donkey, and dragged it away to eat it. Finding the beast, the monk said, “Friend, I have not the strength to carry the load because of old age. You carry it, and then return into the wilderness and again be fierce according to your nature.” The lion meekly carried the load to Caesarea, then the monk set him free.
Icon of the Mother of God of Yaroslavl
The Yaroslavl Icon of the Mother of God Little is known of this, one of the earliest Russian icons, except that it belonged to the holy Princes Basil and Constantine (July 3). The lower chapel of the Ilinsk church in Yaroslavl was dedicated to the wonderworking icon.
Icon of the Mother of God of White Lake
This holy icon belonged to Saint Cyril of White Lake (June 9), and he kept it in his cell.
Saint Cyril was living at the Simonov Monastery, but his soul yearned for solitude, and he asked the Mother of God to show him a place conducive for salvation. One night he was reading an Akathist in his cell before the Hodēgḗtria icon of the Mother of God, and had just reached the eighth Kontakion, “Seeing the strange Nativity, let us become strangers to the world and transport our minds to heaven.” Then he heard a voice say, “Go to White Lake (Belozersk), where I have prepared a place for you.”
He left the Simonov Monastery and at the desolate and sparsely populated White Lake, he found the place which he had seen in the vision. Saint Cyril and his companion Saint Therapon of White Lake and Mozhaisk (May 27), set up a cross and dug a cell in the ground near Mount Myaura at Siversk Lake.
The White Lake Icon is also commemorated on July 28.
Hieromartyr Theodore (Tevdore) of Kvelta
Saint Tevdore was a simple priest who labored in the 16th century in the village of Kvelta. At that time the Ottoman Empire and Persia were locked in a bitter feud over control of the Near East. At the beginning of 1609 the Ottomans conquered first the city of Baghdadi, then part of Samtskhe in southern Georgia. In June of that year they launched an attack on eastern Georgia.
At that time the Georgian ruler was the young King Luarsab II. When the Ottomans penetrated Kartli, the king was absent, abiding in his summer residence, Tskhireti Castle. But the Ottomans knew the location of his castle, and they also knew that his troops were small in number. They plotted to lay siege to the castle, capture the king, and ultimately annex all of Georgia.
The Ottomans quickly crossed the Trialeti mountain range and advanced into Manglisi, pillaging the lands and laying waste to the people as they went. Miraculously, the Manglisi Church of the Most Holy Mother of God remained unharmed. One chronicler wrote: “A dense fog surrounded the church and village, concealing it from the enemy.”
Saint Luarsab had received no warning of the attack, and the enemy was just minutes from his castle.
In the village of Kvelta, not far from Manglisi, the Turks captured the priest Tevdore, a man sincere before God and devoted to his king and motherland. Fr. Tevdore was unable to escape to the woods with the other villagers, so he locked the doors to the church and concealed its sacred treasures. When the Ottoman Turks found Fr. Tevdore, they commanded him to lead them to Tskhireti Castle and threatened to kill him if he refused.
Hoping to deceive them, Tevdore led the Ottomans along a narrow, rocky mountain path away from Tskhireti Castle. Many horses and soldiers fell from the path to their deaths.
But after some time the Ottomans realized that the priest had led them in the wrong direction. Embittered and hungry for revenge, they beheaded Fr. Tevdore.
As a result of Saint Tevdore’s great sacrifice, Saint Luarsab had time to strengthen his fortifications, assemble his armies, and finally annihilate the enemy.