2ND SATURDAY AFTER PENTECOST
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, DAIRY, EGGS
Leavetaking of the Nativity of the Forerunner John the Baptist, The Righteous Martyr Febronia, Methodius of Nevritos, Prokopios the New Martyr, Dionysius & Dometios the Righteous of Mount Athos, Orentios, Pharmakios, Eros, Phirmos, Phirminos, Kyriakos, and Longinos the Martyrs and Brothers
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE ROMANS 3:19-24
Brethren, we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.
The Lord said, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye, ' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you. Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Virgin Martyr Febronia of Nisibis
The Virgin Martyr Febronia suffered during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). She was raised at a monastery in the city of Sivapolis (Assyria). The head of the women’s monastery was the abbess Bryaίnē, the aunt of Saint Febronia. Being concerned about her niece’s salvation, she assigned her a stricter form of life than the other nuns. According to their monastic rule, on Fridays the sisters put aside their other duties and spent the whole day in prayer and the reading of Holy Scripture. The abbess usually assigned the reading to Saint Febronia.
News of her pious life spread throughout the city. The illustrious young widow Hieria, a pagan, began to visit her, and under the influence of her guidance and prayer she accepted holy Baptism, bringing her parents and kinsfolk to the Christian Faith.
Diocletian sent a detachment of soldiers to Assyria under the command of Lysimachus, Selinus and Primus for the destruction of Christians. Selenos, the uncle of Lysimachus, was noted for his fierce attitude against Christians, but Lysimachus was of a different frame of mind from him, since his mother had sought to inspire love for the Christian faith in her son, and she had died a Christian. Lysimachus had discussed with his kinsman Primus how it would be possible to deliver Christians from the hands of the torturer. When the detachment of soldiers approached the convent, its inhabitants hid. There remained only the abbess Bryaίnē, her helper Thomais and Saint Febronia, who was seriously ill at the time.
It grieved the abbess terribly that her niece might fall into the hands of the torturers, who might defile her. She prayed fervently that the Lord would preserve her and strengthen her in the confession of Christ the Savior. Selinus gave orders to bring him all the nuns of the convent. Primus with the detachment of soldiers found no one, except the two old women and Saint Febronia. He regretted that they had not hidden, and he suggested to the nuns that they flee. But the nuns decided not to leave the place of their labors and they entrusted themselves to the will of the Lord.
Primus told Lysimachus about the particular beauty of Saint Febronia and advised him to take her for himself. Lysimachus said that he would not seduce a virgin dedicated to God, and he asked Primus to hide the other nuns somewhere so that they would not fall into the hands of Selinus. One of the soldiers overheard the conversation and told Selinus. They led Saint Febronia off to the military commander with her hands bound and a chain around her neck. Selinus urged her to deny Christ, promising her honors, rewards, and marriage with Lysimachus. The holy virgin firmly and fearlessly answered that she had an Immortal Bridegroom, and she would not exchange Him for any mortal man. Selinus subjected her to fierce torture. The saint prayed, “My Savior, do not abandon me in this terrible hour!”
They beat the martyr for a long time, and blood flowed from her wounds. In order to intensify the suffering of Saint Febronia, they tied her to a tree and set a fire under it. The tortures were so inhuman, that the people began to demand an end to the torture, since there was no confession of guilt by the girl. Selinus continued to mock and jeer at the martyr, but Saint Febronia became silent. Because of weakness she was unable to utter a word. In a rage Selinus gave orders to tear out her tongue, smash her teeth, and finally, to cut off both hands and feet. The people were unable to bear such a horrid spectacle and they left the scene of the torture, cursing Diocletian and his gods.
Among the crowd was the nun Thomais, who afterwards recorded Saint Febronia’s martyrdom in detail, and also her student Hieria. She came forth out of the crowd and in the hearing of all reproached Selinus for his boundless cruelty. He gave orders to arrest her, but learning that Hieria was of illustrious standing whom he could not readily subject to torture, he said, “By your speech you have brought on Febronia even greater torment.” Finally, they beheaded the holy Martyr Febronia.
Departing the place of execution, Lysimachus wept and withdrew to his quarters. Selinus made ready to eat, but he was not able to take food, and went off to the quiet of his own chambers. Suddenly, he became like one deranged. Looking up to the heavens, he raved and bellowed like a bull, then fell down and struck his head on a marble column and died. When Lysimachus learned of this, he said, “ Great is the God of the Christians, Who has avenged Febronia’s blood, so unrighteously shed!” He prepared a coffin, placed the martyr’s body in it, and took it to the convent.
Abbess Bryaίnē fell senseless, seeing the mutilated remains of Saint Febronia. Later, she recovered her senses and gave orders to open the convent gates so that all would be able to come and venerate the holy martyr and glorify God Who had given her such endurance in suffering for Christ. Lysimachus and Primus renounced their idol worship and accepted both Baptism and monasticism. Hieria gave her wealth to the convent and petitioned Abbess Bryaίnē to accept her at the convent in place of Saint Febronia.
Every year, on the day of the martyric death of Saint Febronia, a solemn feast was celebrated at the convent. During the time of the all-night Vigil the nuns always saw Saint Febronia, at her usual place in church. From the relics of Saint Febronia occurred numerous miracles and healings. The Life of Saint Febronia was recorded by the nun Thomais, an eyewitness to her deeds.
In the year 363 the relics of Saint Febronia were transferred to Constantinople.
Soon after the death of Saint Febronia, Saint James the Bishop of Nisibis (January 13) built a church and transferred into it a portion of the of the holy martyr’s relics.
Saints Peter and Fevronia (tonsured David and Euphrosynē), Wonderworkers of Murom
Holy Prince Peter (David in monasticism) and Holy Princess Febronia (Euphrosynē in monasticism), Wonderworkers of Murom. Prince Peter was the second son of the Murom prince Yuri Vladimirovich. He entered upon the throne of Murom in the year 1203. Several years before this Saint Peter had fallen ill with leprosy, from which no one was able to heal him. In a vision it was revealed to the prince that the daughter of a bee-keeper would be able to heal him: the pious maiden Febronia, a peasant of Laskova village in Ryazan gubernia. Saint Peter sent his emissaries to this village.
When the prince saw Saint Febronia, he fell in love with her because of her piety, wisdom and virtue, and vowed to marry her after being healed. Saint Febronia healed the prince and became his wife. The holy couple loved each other through all their ordeals. The haughty boyars did not wish to have a princess of common origin, and they urged that the prince leave her. Saint Peter refused, and so they banished the couple. They sailed off on a boat from their native city along the River Oka, and Saint Febronia continued to console Saint Peter. Soon the wrath of God fell upon the city of Murom, and the people begged the prince return together with Saint Febronia.
The holy couple was famous for their piety and charity. They died on the same day and hour, June 25, 1228, having received the monastic tonsure with the names David and Evphrosyne. The bodies of the saints were put in the same grave.
Sts Peter and Febronia showed themselves exemplary models of Christian marriage, and are considered as the patron saints of newly-weds.
Saint Dionysios, the builder of Prodromou Monastery, Mount Athos
Saint Dionysios was born in the village of Korissos, Kastoria, to pious parents who were farmers. At a young age, he went to Mount Athos near his brother Theodosios. Dionysios, with the help of his brother’s own teacher, learned to study the Holy Scriptures, and quickly became distinguished for his humble mind and his charitable character.
A few years later, Emperor Alexios Komnenos III (1350 – 1390), Theodosios became a Metropolitan in Trebizond. Dionysios was very pleased when he learned of this, first out of brotherly love, and second because now he could more easily carry out a plan of his own.
After his ordination to the priesthood, Saint Dionysios transferred his place of asceticism to the steep mountain of little Athos or Antiathos, the so-called Old Prodromos and the Panagia. Shortly thereafter, he wanted to build a church and a suitable monastery. That plan eventually succeeded by the grace of God. Thus, in 1375, Alexios III, through the intercession of his brother, Metropolitan Theodosios, approved the building of the Monastery of the honorable Forerunner and Baptist John. The emperor in Dionysios gave 50 somia (400,000 grosia), and then three thousand komninata for his work. Thus Saint Dionysios built the Monastery of the honorable Forerunner, which was known afterwards by the name given by her builder.
Saint Dionysius reposed in Trebizond, where he had gone to ask for further help from the emperor for the iconography of the
Venerable Dometius of Dionysiou
No information on the life of this saint is available at this time.
Monastic Martyr Procopius of the Ivḗron Monastery on Mount Athos
No information on the life of this saint is available at this time.
New Martyr Procopius of Varna
No information available at this time.
Venerable Nikon of Optina
Saint Nikon was born on September 26, 1888, the son of Metrophanes and Vera Belyaev, and was named Nicholas at his Baptism. His parents, who were both very devout, belonged to one of Moscow’s merchant families.
The Belyaev family received a visit from Saint John of Kronstadt when Nicholas was in his first year. He blessed Vera and gave her a signed photograph of himself.
Both Nicholas and his brother John loved going to church and reading the Holy Scriptures and other spiritual books. When John and Nicholas decided to embrace monasticism, they cut up a list of Russia’s monasteries from an old book, and Nicholas was asked to pick one of the strips after praying to God. The strip he selected read, “The Optina Hermitage of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, Kozelsk.” Until that moment, neither of them had ever heard of this monastery.
The brothers traveled to Optina on February 24, 1907 with their mother’s blessing, and were accepted into the monastery on December 9, the commemoration of the “Unexpected Joy” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Nicholas was assigned as secretary to Father Barsanuphius, the Superior of the Skete, in October 1908. Except for reading and serving in church, this became his chief monastic obedience for the rest of his life. Saint Barsanuphius (April 1) foresaw that he would become an excellent monk as well as a worthy disciple. Nicholas was devoted to the Elder, and followed his will in all matters. Father Barsanuphius gave him the benefit of his knowledge and experience, guiding him to ascend the spiritual ladder of virtues.
Nicholas was tonsured into the Lesser Schema on May 24, 1915 with the new name Nikon in honor of the martyr Saint Nikon (September 28). He was ordained as a deacon on April 30, 1916, and as a priest on November 3, 1917. Father Nikon could not help but remember the prophecy of Father Barsanuphius made several years before the Russian Revolution. Saint Barsanuphius foresaw times of difficulty for monasteries when Christians would be persecuted and suffer martyrdom. He predicted that he himself would be dead before this happened, and that Father Nikon would live through those terrible times.
Father Nikon was arrested and jailed on September 18, 1919 without the benefit of a trial, just because he was a monk. He was later released and permitted to return to Optina, where the monks had formed a farming cooperative.
The Soviets closed the cooperative in 1923, and the monastery was turned into a museum. Two monks were allowed to stay and work in the museum, while the others were expelled and told to go wherever they wished. Father Nikon was blessed by Father Isaac to serve in the church dedicated to the Kazan Icon and to receive visitors. When people came to him for advice, he always quoted the words of the Optina Elders.
The last church at Optina was closed early in 1924, and Father Nikon was obliged to leave in June. He went to live at Kozelsk with Father Cyril Zlenko. There he continued to receive visitors and offer spiritual counsel, sharing money and food with those who were too old, or too sick to work. Father Nikon was a wise spiritual Father, who was able to help people overcome their shame and reveal the sins which had troubled them for a long time. People would leave Father Nikon feeling cleansed and renewed.
Father Nikon, Father Cyril, and Father Agapitus Taub were arrested and thrown into prison in June of 1927. Father Nikon and Father Agapitus were sent to the “Kemperpunkt” camp, where Father Nikon was assigned the duty of guarding the storehouses.
Saint Nikon wrote to his spiritual children from the camp with cheerful words of encouragement. Although he accepted his imprisonment as God’s will, it was nevertheless difficult for him to endure. When their prison term ended, the two monks were sent into exile at Archangelsk. Before leaving the camp, Father Nikon was examined and found to have tuberculosis. The doctors advised him to request that his place of exile be changed to a place with a more suitable climate.
He asked the advice of Father Agapitus, who told him not to make such a request. At Archangels, Father Nikon lodged in the home of an elderly woman who gave him little rest or peace. Every week he had to travel three kilometers to present himself before the authorities in the city of Pinyega.
While shoveling snow at the beginning of Great Lent, Father Nikon’s leg began to hemorrhage, and he developed a high fever. His landlady did not feel any pity for him, but told him that he must leave her house so that the others would not become infected with tuberculosis.
Soon, Father Nikon was visited by Father Peter, who had once lived at Optina. He begged Father Peter to take him in, which he did. Father Peter cared for the Elder to the best of his ability. For the last two months of his life, Father Nikon received Holy Communion almost every day, and his sufferings seemed to grow less severe. He often dictated letters to his spiritual children to Father Peter. One day, Father Nikon saw Saint Macarius of Optina (September 7) in a vision and told Sister Irene to pull up a chair for him. She was slow to obey him so he said, “Forgive her, Father, for she is not very experienced.”
On June 25, 1931 Father Nikon was so weak that he could not speak. Archimandrite Nikḗtas was called to bring him Communion, and to read the Canon for the Departure of the Soul. That night the Elder fell asleep in the Lord at the age of forty-three.
The Moscow Patriarchate authorized local veneration of the Optina Elders on June 13,1996, glorifying them for universal veneration on August 7, 2000.
New Martyr George of Attalia
No Information is available at this time.
Saint Moloug of Lismore
No information available at this time.