Daily Readings for Thursday, June 23, 2022



Agrippina the Martyr of Rome, Holy Martyrs Aristocleus the Priest, Demetrius the Deacon and Athanasius the Reader, The Holy New Bishop Martyrs Gerasimus of Crete, Neophytos of Knossos, Joachim of Cherronisos, Hierotheos of Lampi, Zachariah of Sitia, Joachim of Petra, Gerasimos of Rethymno, Kallinikos of Kydonia, Melchizedek of Kissamos, Kallinikos of Diopolos, and those Martyred with them (1821-1822), Mark, Bishop of Ephesus, Etheldreda the Queen


Brethren, if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation.
Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned — sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification.

MATTHEW 8:23-27

At that time, when Jesus got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, "Save us, O Lord; we are perishing." And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?" Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?

Martyr Agrippina of Rome

The Holy Martyr Agrippina, was by birth a Roman. She did not wish to enter into marriage, and totally dedicated her life to God. During the time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Valerian (253-259) the saint went before the court and bravely confessed her faith in Christ, for which she was given over to torture. They beat the holy virgin with sticks so severely that her bones broke. Afterwards they put Saint Agrippina in chains, but an angel freed her from her bonds.

The holy confessor died from the tortures she endured. The Christians Bassa, Paula and Agathonike secretly took the body of the holy martyr and transported it to Sicily, where many miracles were worked at her grave. In the eleventh century the relics of the holy Martyr Agrippina were transferred to Constantinople.

Righteous Artemius of Verkola

Holy Righteous Artemius of Verkola was born in the village of Dvina Verkola around the year 1532. The son of pious parents, Artemius was a child who was courageous, meek and diligent for every good deed. On June 23, 1545 the twelve-year-old Artemius and his father were taken by surprise in a field by a thunderstorm. A clap of thunder broke right over their heads, and the child Artemius fell dead. People thought that this was a sign of God’s judgment, therefore they left the body in a pine forest without a funeral, and without burial.

Some years later, the village reader beheld a light over the place where the incorrupt body of the Righteous Artemius lay. Taken to the church of Saint Nicholas in 1577, the holy relics were shown to be a source of numerous healings. In this village a monastery was later built, called the Verkola. In 1918, the impious Soviets chopped the holy relics into pieces and threw them into a well. The memory of Saint Artemius is also celebrated on October 20.

Second Translation of the relics of Saint Herman, Archbishop of Kazan

Today we commemorate the second translation of the relics of Saint Herman, Archbishop of Kazan, in 1714.

St Herman is also commemorated on November 6 (his repose) and on September 25 (transfer of his relics in 1595).

Martyrs Eustochius, Gaius, Probus, Lollius, and Urban, of Ancyra

The Holy Martyrs Eustochius, Gaius, Probus, Lollia and Urban suffered for Christ during the time of a persecution under the emperor Maximian (286-310).

Saint Eustochius was a pagan priest, but seeing the unyielding courage of the Christian martyrs, and the miracles worked by them, he converted to Christ. He went to Bishop Eudoxius of Antioch, was baptized by him, and was ordained to the priesthood. In the city of Lystra Saint Eustochius converted his nephew Gaius and all his household, among which included the children Probus, Lollia and Urban. Soldiers of the emperor arrested Saint Eustochius and took him for trial, but tortures could not turn Eustochius from his faith. They then sent the saint to the governor Agrippinus in the Galatian city of Ancyra. The newly-converted Gaius was also sent with him with his household. All of them, even the women and children, underwent fierce torture, but the martyrs did not deny Christ and so were beheaded.

Synaxis of the Saints of Vladimir

No information available at this time.

Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God in memory of the Saving of Moscow from the Invasion of Khan Achmed

Today the church celebrates the miracle of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, which led to the saving of Moscow from the invasion of Khan Achmed in 1480.

The Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is also commemorated on May 21 and August 26.

“Tenderness” Icon of the Mother of God of the Pskov Caves

According to Tradition, a copy of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was painted in 1521 by the devout Hieromonk Arsenios Khitrosh. Between 1529-1570 the Icon was brought to the Pskov Caves Monastery by the merchants Basil and Theodore, when Saint Cornelius († February 20, 1571) was the Igoumen. Since then, the Icon has repeatedly shown its mercy and miraculous assistance to the Russian Orthodox people.

Not just once have blind persons been cured while praying before the Icon. On May 28, 1587, when the Icon was in Pskov, Maria Terent'eva, a widow who was blind for about three years, was healed after she prayed before the Tenderness Icon in Holy Trinity Cathedral. Another miracle occurred on March 26, 1603, when the peasant Patapios Grigor'ev was cured after six years of blindness. At the same time, Ivan Supitsyn, a young man from a noble family, was healed of his ailment: the muscles of his left hand had been paralyzed for two years.

An ancient chronicle of the Monastery says: "Not only are the Orthodox healed by the Mother of God, but even non-believers, who come to the Most Pure Theotokos and to her wonderworking Icon with faith."

The Pskov Caves Tenderness Icon of the Mother of God was especially venerated during the reign of Ivan the Terrible in 1581, when Pskov and the Pskov Caves Monastery were besieged by the army of the Polish king Stephen Bathory. Several days before the siege, the Mother of God appeared to the pious Elder Father Dorótheos. The Most Holy Theotokos warned him of the impending disaster and explained that the people's sins were the cause of the misfortune which had befallen them, and told him how they might escape it. Then the Archbishop summoned Igoumen Tikhon of the Pskov Caves Monastery and ordered him to take the wonderworking Dormition (August 15) and Tenderness (June 23) Icons from the Caves, and to serve Molebens in the places which the Mother of God herself had chosen at the time of her appearance.

Stephen Bathory's 100,000 man army went to Pskov, because if he succeeded there, the king planned to go even farther in order to conquer Novgorod and Moscow. The wonderworking Tenderness Icon was brought from the Monastery to the city of Pskov. The Polish army shelled the city and the Monastery with heated cannonballs from the bell tower of Mirozh Monastery. One of the cannonballs struck the Icon of the Mother of God, which was in an opening of the wall, but it did not harm the Icon, nor the people who stood around it. The siege lasted for five months, and thirty times the Poles attempted to take Pskov, but they were unable to do so.

At the beginning of the XVII century the Monastery was attacked by several armies of Swedish, Lithuanian, and Polish invaders. In 1812 the French army threatened Russia. Napoleon's soldiers captured Polotsk on August 17-18, 1812, and the city of Pskov was endangered as well. The citizens asked for the Tenderness and Dormition Icons of the Mother of God to be brought from the Monastery, and also a banner depicting the Icon Not-made-by-hands. On October 7, a procession with the miraculous icons went through the city, and that very day the Russian army retook the city of Polotsk. A church in honor of Holy Archangel Michael was built there (1815-1827) to commemorate the event, and the Tenderness Icon of the Mother of God is kept there now.

In the XX century the Pskov Caves Monastery had to endure two World Wars. But the ancient traditions faithfully preserved in the Monastery were not forgotten, even at that difficult time for Russian monasticism. On February 2, 1920, the Monastery and the city of Pechora were annexed to the territory of Estonia until 1940. For that reason, the Holy Dormition Pskov Caves Monastery was not subjected to ruin or desecration during the Soviet anti-Christian campaign. The Pskov Caves Monastery was one of few XX century Russian Orthodox monasteries which did not cease its prayerful service to God. Although neither the revolution nor the wars spared the Monastery (in May 1945 it lay in ruins), work and the prayer of the monastic brethren overcame further devastation, and again restored the Monastery to its beauty and splendor.

The Pskov Caves Tenderness Icon of the Mother of God belongs to the iconographic type "Eleousa," which comes from the Greek word for mercy. The Theotokos is depicted holding the Child Christ in her right hand, with His cheek pressed to hers. On the Eleousa Icons of the Theotokos (the symbol and ideal of the human race) there is no distance between the Virgin and the Son of God, their love is boundless. The Icon is a prototype of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross, as the highest expression of God's love for His people.

The Pskov Caves Tenderness Icon is commemorated on the following days: May 21 (Meeting of the Vladimir Icon, 1521); August 26 (Meeting of the Vladimir Icon, 1395); June 23 (Main Feast Day); October 7 (Procession around Pskov with the Tenderness and Dormition icons of the Mother of God, 1812); and on the Seventh Sunday of Pascha, the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod (Movable Feast).

Saints Nikḗtas and Daniel

Saint Nikḗtas of Thebes was a resident of the city of Heptapyle (Seven Gates) in Thebes. At the age of sixteen he became a monk and gathered around himself other ascetics who were attracted by his spiritual character and high moral standards. He was accounted worthy of the charism of working miracles, and fell asleep in the Lord, full of days.

In the Life of Saint Nikḗtas it is stated that he once traveled to Patras, where he met the ascetic Saint Daniel in the citadel. Saint Daniel lived in the 11th century and was from Patras, where he lived in great asceticism and prayer. He received from God the gift of hospitality, such as that of Abraham; that is, to receive and host people, offering them rest by giving them spiritual guidance.

Úglich Portaίtissa (Gatekeeper) Icon of the Mother of God

The Most Holy Theotokos first appeared to Igoumen Evangelos, who was the Superior of the Monastery from 1864-1872. The late XIX century researcher I. Vinogradov dates the Icon's presence in the Monastery to
that period. If he was correct in thinking that the Icon was painted during that time, then it was lost for almost thirty years.

The Icon was found in the Monastery storeroom in 1894. On June 23 of that year, a sick merchant from St. Petersburg arrived alone at the Monastery. Speaking to the Igoumen, he told him in detail about his illness, and of the vision he had in a dream. The Mother of God told the merchant to go to Úglich, where her Icon was located, and to pray before it, promising that he would be healed.

The Igoumen ordered that a search be made for the Icon. This was done, and the Icon was moved into the Monastery's Dormition church in great triumph. When the sick merchant prayed before the Icon, he soon recovered. In gratitude for the healing he had received, he covered the Icon with a silver gilded riza.

Since that time, the wonderworking Úglich Portaίtissa Icon of the Theotokos has granted healing and consolation to those who resort to the Queen of Heaven with faith in her intercession before God.

In this Icon the Mother of God is depicted as a nun with a staff and a prayer rope in her left hand, and a candle in her right hand. This image is located in the Alekseev Women's Monastery in Úglich, Yaroslavl Province, and it is also known as the "Inextinguishable Candle."

The Úglich Portaίtissa Icon of the Mother of God bears a striking resemblance to the Igoumeness of Mount Athos Icon, which is commemorated on the second Sunday after Pentecost, along with All Saints of Mount Athos.