Romans 15:1-7: Brethren, we who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good for his edification. For Christ also did not please Himself; but, as it is written: “The reproaches of those who reproached Thee fell on Me.” For whatever was written beforehand was written for our learning, that we might have hope, through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be of the same mind with one another, according to Christ Jesus, that with one accord and one mouth you may glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, receive one another, even as Christ has also received you, to the glory of God.
Matthew 9:27-35: At that time, as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud: “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When He entered the house, the blind men came to Him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly charged them, “See that no one knows it.” But they went away and spread His fame through all that district. As they were going away, behold, a dumb demoniac was brought to Him. And when the demon had been cast out, the dumb man spoke; and the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.” And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity.
Troparion of the Resurrection: When Mary stood at thy grave looking for thy sacred body, angelic powers shone above thy revered tomb, and the soldiers who were to keep guard became as dead men. Thou led hades captive and wast not tempted thereby. Thou didst meet the Virgin and didst give life to the world; O thou who art risen from the dead! O Lord, glory to thee.
Troparion of St. Eudokimos: The One that hath called thee from earth to Heaven to dwell preserveth thy body uncorrupted after thy death, O saintly Eudokimos; for in living modestly and chastely, O blest one, thou didst keep thy flesh free of all stain and defilement; with boldness, therefore, pray unto Christ that we all be saved.
Troparion of the Chains of St. Peter: O Holy Apostle, Peter, thou dost preside over the Apostles by the precious chains which thou didst bear. We venerate them with faith and beseech thee that by thine intercessions we be granted the great mercy.
Kontakion of the Transfiguration: Thou wast transfigured on the mount, and thy Disciples, in so far as they were able, beheld thy glory, O Christ our God; so that, when they should see thee crucified, they would remember that thy suffering was voluntary, and could declare to all the world that thou art truly the effulgent Splendor of the Father.
UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE: All services listed on the calendar will be available through streaming and webcast.
Please continue to follow the CDC Guidelines to limit contagion and the spread of the COVID virus.
Sunday, July 31 (Seventh Sunday after Pentecost)
9:00 a.m. — Orthros (webcast)
10:00 a.m. — Divine Liturgy (webcast)
Monday, August 1 (Procession of the Holy Cross)
Father Herman off
6:30 p.m. — Paraklesis Service
Tuesday, August 2
Wednesday, August 3
6:30 p.m. — Paraklesis Service
7:15 p.m. — Chanters’ Practice
Thursday, August 4
11:30 a.m. — Men’s Lunch
Friday, August 5
6:30 p.m. — Paraklesis Service
Saturday, August 6 (Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord)
The Eucharist Bread …was offered by the Algoods for the Divine Liturgy this morning.
Eucharist Bread Schedule:
Eucharist BreadCoffee Hour
July 31 Algood Algood/Schelver
August 6 (Sat. a.m.) Schelver Lasseter/Pacurari/Miller
August 7 Morris D. Root/Baker/Cooper
August 14 Jones POT LUCK MEAL
August 21 D. Root Dansereau/Alaeetawi
August 28 Karam Ellis/Zouboukos/Waites
Schedule for Epistle Readers – Page numbers refer to the Apostolos (book of the Epistles) located on the Chanters’ stand at the front of the nave. Please be sure to use this book when you read.
July 31 Brenda Baker Rom. 15:1-7 119
August 6 (Sat. a.m.) Walt Wood II Pet. 1:10-19 401
August 7 Walt Wood I Cor. 1:10-17 124
August 14 Kh. Sharon Meadows I Cor. 3:9-17 130
August 21 Sh. Charlotte Algood I Cor. 4:9-16 135
August 28 Brenda Baker I Cor. 9:2-12 141
Also, please remember that we still need your tithes and offerings which may be placed in the tray that is passed during the Divine Liturgy, in the tithe box at the back of the nave or be mailed to: St. Peter Orthodox Church, P.O. Box 2084, Madison, MS 39130-2084.
Continue to pray for Metropolitan Paul (who is also the brother of our Patriarch) and the Syriac Archbishop John of Aleppo who were abducted while on a humanitarian mission in Syria.
Please remember Fr. Joseph and Kh. Joanna Bittle, and their daughter Abigail, in your prayers.
Please remember the following in your prayers: Aidan Milnor, the Milnor family; Lamia Dabit and her family; Mary Greene (Lee and Kh. Sharon’s sister); Jay and Joanna Davis; Fr. Leo and Kh. Be’Be’ Schelver and their family; Kathy Willingham; Marilyn (Kyriake) Snell; Jack and Jill Weatherly; Lottie Dabbs (Sh. Charlotte Algood’s mother), Sh. Charlotte and their family; Maria Costas (currently at St. Catherine’s Village); Reader Basil and Brenda Baker and their family; Buddy Cooper.
If you are not feeling well, PLEASE do not attempt to come to the services. This also includes anyone who may have been exposed to you during this time. Also, please let Fr. Herman know if you are not feeling well and have COVID like symptoms.
Many thanks to Daniel and Elizabeth Root and all those volunteers who helped to make this year’s Vacation Church School a success!
His Grace Bishop NICHOLAS will be with us for the wedding of Tiffany Strain on September 3rd and will be serving Hierarchical Divine Liturgy that Sunday.
Father Herman will be on vacation the week of August 8-12. Father John will be covering for him that week.
We will celebrate the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos on Sunday, August 14th instead of Monday, August 15th. Please be aware of this transfer. Since we are celebrating the feast on that Sunday, our scheduled Pot Luck will be a festal and not a fasting meal.
Please mark your calendars now for this year’s Diocesan Fall Retreat. It will be hosted by St. Ignatius in Franklin, TN again this year, on September 9-10. Registration will be available soon.
* The men of the parish meet for lunch at 11:30 a.m. on the first Thursday of the month.
* The Ladies meet at the church at 10:00 a.m. on the second Saturday of the month to pray the Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children on behalf of our children.
* The Ladies meet for lunch on the last Tuesday of the month.
* The Fast of the Dormition begins on August 1st and runs until the 15th. As is our custom during the fast, we will pray the Paraklesis service to the Theotokos on the Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays of the first two weeks of August. We have been given permission to celebrate the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos on Sunday morning, August 14th since the feast falls on Monday this year.
* We will celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord with Orthros followed by Divine Liturgy on Saturday, August 6th, beginning at 9:00 a.m.
* The remaining date for Stewpot for 2022 is Saturday, September 3rd.
PARENTS, a problem has arisen due to the nursery room being left messy after Coffee Hour. No food of any kind should be taken into that room. Also, it is necessary for a parent to be in the room whenever their children are in there playing. Thank you for your assistance with this.
Fasting Discipline for August
The Fast of the Dormition begins tomorrow and runs through August 15th. During this time the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, dairy, eggs, fish, wine or oil) is observed on all days of the week, except Saturday and Sunday when wine and oil are allowed and August 6th (Feast of the Transfiguration) when fish, wine and oil are allowed. Following the 15th, the traditional fasting discipline is observed on the remaining Wednesdays and Fridays of the month. The feastday of the Beheading of the Forerunner on August 29th is a strict fast day.
Major Commemorations for August
August 1 Procession of the Holy Cross
August 6 Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord
August 15 Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos
August 25 Apostles Bartholomew and Titus
August 29 Beheading of the Forerunner
August 31 Deposition of the Belt of the Theotokos
Instructions for streaming our services can be found on the parish website.
Quotable “While we are living improperly, we fear all kinds of things. When we recognize God, there occurs a fear of judgement. But when we start to love God, all fear vanishes.”
St. Isaac the Syrian
Worship: Sunday, August 7, 2022 (Eighth Sunday after Pentecost; After-feast of the Transfiguration)
Scripture: I Corinthians 1:10-17; Matthew 14:14-22
7th Sunday of Matthew, Forefeast of the Precious Cross, Dionysios the Righteous Martyr of Vatopaidi, Joseph the Righteous of Arimathea, Eudocimus the Righteous of Cappadocia
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE ROMANS 15:1-7
Brethren, we who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves; let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him. For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached thee fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
At that time, as Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, "Have mercy on us, Son of David." When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to him, "Yes, Lord." Then he touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith be it done to you." And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly charged them, "See that no one knows it." But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.
As they were going away, behold, a dumb demoniac was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the dumb man spoke; and the crowds marveled, saying, "Never was anything like this seen in Israel." But the Pharisees said, "He casts out demons by the prince of demons.
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people.
Forefeast of the Procession of the Honorable and Lifegiving Cross of the Lord
No information available at this time.
Righteous Eudocimus of Cappadocia
Saint Eudocimus, a native of Cappadocia (Asia Minor), lived during the ninth century during the reign of Emperor Theophilus (829-842). He was the son of the pious Christians Basil and Eudokia, an illustrious family known to the emperor. They raised their son “in discipline and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6: 4), planting in his soul a sincere faith and holy virtues.
The righteous life of Saint Eudocimus was devoted to pleasing God and serving his neighbor. Having given a vow to remain unmarried and chaste, he avoided conversation with women and did not look at them. He would speak only with his own mother, whom he greatly respected. The emperor valued his virtue and talents, so he appointed Saint Eudocimus as governor of Chorziane, Armenia. Fulfilling his duty as a servant of God, Saint Eudocimus governed the people justly and with kindness. He concerned himself with the unfortunate, and with orphans and widows, and he was a defender of the common people. His personal Christian exploits which he did in secret, were known only to God.
Eudocimus pleased God by his blameless life, and the Lord called him at age 33. Lying on his deathbed, Saint Eudocimus gave final instructions to place him in the grave in those clothes in which he would meet death. Then he sent everyone out of the room and entreated the Lord that no one would see his end, just as no one saw his secret efforts during life. His attendants buried him as he had instructed them. Right after the death of Saint Eudocimus miracles took place at his grave. Many sick people were healed, and the news of the miraculous healings spread.
After 18 months, the mother of Saint Eudocimus came from Constantinople to venerate his relics. She gave orders to remove the stone, dig up the ground, and open the grave. Everyone beheld the face of the saint, bright as if alive, altogether untouched by decay. A great fragrance came from him. They took up the coffin with the relics from the earth, and they dressed the saint in new clothes. His mother wanted to take the relics of her son to Constantinople, but the Kharsian people would not clear a path for their holy one. After a certain time the hieromonk Joseph, having lived and served at the grave of the saint, transported the relics of Saint Eudocimus to Constantinople. There they were placed in a silver reliquary in the church of the Most Holy Theotokos, built by the parents of the saint.
Saint Eudocimus is considered by the Russian Church to be one of the special protectors and intercessors before God of the family hearth. He was, as his name implies, truly successful in every virtue.
Martyr Julitta at Caesarea
The Holy Martyr Julitta lived at Caesarea in Cappadocia during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). A certain pagan stole all her property, and when Julitta turned for relief to the courts, her antagonist reported to the judge that she was a Christian, which placed her outside the law’s protection.
The judge demanded that the saint renounce Christ, for which he promised to return her unlawfully taken property. Saint Julitta resolutely refused the deceitful conditions, and for this she was burned to death in the year 304 (or 305). Saint Basil the Great wrote an Encomium to Saint Julitta 70 years after her death as a martyr.
Saint Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre
Saint Germanus was born at Auxerre around 389, and studied rhetoric and law at Rome. There he practiced as a lawyer.
The emperor Honorius sent him back to Gaul as a provincial governor, with his headquarters at Auxerre. He also married about this time. In 418 he was chosen to succeed Saint Amator (May 1) as Bishop of Auxerre. From that time on, his faith became deeper, and his prayer more fervent. He gave away his possessions to the poor, and ate coarse barley bread only in the evening. He often fasted for several days, and dressed in simple monastic garb.
Pope Celestine I sent him to Britain in 429 with Saint Lupus of Troyes (July 29) to fight the Pelagian heresy, where they defeated the teachers of this false doctrine. During one of his two trips to Britain Saint Germanus took command of an army and defeated a combined force of Saxons and Picts.
When savage barbarians threatened the city of Armorica (now Brittany), Saint Germanus met their leader, seized his horse’s bridle, and turned him around. After defusing the threat, the saint traveled to Ravenna seeking pardon for the rebels from the emperor Valentian III. He was received with honor, and died there on July 31, 448.
The body of Saint Germanus was brought back to Auxerre for burial. Centuries later, his holy relics were scattered by the Huguenots.
Hieromartyr Benjamin, Metropolitan of Petrograd and Gdovsk, and those with him
The New Hieromartyr Benjamin (Kazansky) was appointed Metropolitan of Petrograd in the summer of 1917. During those tumultuous times, he was one of the few people in Russia with no interest in politics. He was more concerned with caring for his diocese and his flock.
In 1922, the Communists began confiscating Church treasures. They professed that they wanted to sell them in order to buy food for the starving population. When the people protested, there were bloody reprisals. Metropolitan Benjamin did not resist turning over the Church’s valuables, for he believed it was his duty to help save people’s lives. He wanted this sacrifice to be voluntary, however, and not a plundering of church property by the government.
On March 6, 1922 Metropolitan Benjamin met with a commission which had been formed to help the starving. They agreed to his request that the dispersal of funds from voluntary contributions should be controlled by the parishes. Newspapers of that time praised the Metropolitan and his clergy for their charitable spirit.
Party leaders in Moscow did not approve of the decision made by the Communists of Petrograd allowing voluntary contributions to be administered by the parishes, and declared that the confiscation of Church property would continue. Protesters gathered in Petrograd, shouting and throwing stones at those who were stealing from the churches.
On March 24, 1922 “Pravda” printed a letter from twelve priests who broke ranks with the other clergy, referring to them as “counter-revolutionaries” and blaming them for the famine. Most of these twelve would later be active in the “Living Church.” They called for unconditional surrender of all Church valuables to the Soviets.
The clergy of Petrograd were outraged by the letter from the twelve. Metropolitan Benjamin, hoping to avoid confrontations between the people and the Communists, tried to calm his priests. He also asked for a meeting with the authorities. Vvedensky and Boyarsky, two of the twelve, were delegated to talk with Soviet leaders, and came to an agreement. Parishes would be permitted to keep their sacred vessels if they substituted other property of equal value. This program seemed to work well for a time.
Vvedensky, Boyarsky, and others tried to wrest control of the Church from Patriarch Tikhon and the bishops. They informed Metropolitan Benjamin of the new state of affairs, declaring that Vvedensky had been appointed as the Petrograd representative of the new Church administration.
The Metropolitan could not accept this threat to Church order, so he proclaimed that Vvedensky would be regarded as being outside the Church until he repented of his error. This decree was published in the newspapers, and served to enrage the Soviets.
Vvedensky and the Petrograd commandant Bakaev went to see the Metropolitan and ordered him to rescind his decree. If he did not, they told him, he and others close to him would be placed on trial. They warned Metropolitan Benjamin that he and others would be put to death if he made the wrong choice. He refused to submit.
The courageous archpastor began meeting with his friends in order to say farewell. He also gave instructions for the administration of the diocese. A few days later, the Metropolitan was placed under house arrest. Not long after that, he was taken to prison.
As his trial began, the Metropolitan entered the courtroom with Bishop Benedict and other clergy. When everyone stood up for him, Metropolitan Benjamin blessed them. The judges tried to get the Metropolitan to renounce the idea of the parishes voluntarily contributing church valuables in order to feed the hungry, or to provide the names of those who had conceived this idea. It would suit their purposes very well if he could be made to “repent” or back away from his previous statements and submit to the authorities.
The other clergy and civilians on trial with Metropolitan Benjamin did not try to ingratiate themselves with the court, and did not accuse others in order to win leniency for themselves. During the trial, Archimandrite Sergius (Shein) explained that as a monk he had renounced the world in order to dedicate himself to God. Only the flimsiest of threads still connected him with the outside world, he asserted. “Does this tribunal imagine,” he said, “that severing this thread which connects me with life could frighten me? Do your deed. I pity you, and I pray for you.”
The trial lasted for two weeks, and the prosecutors presented witnesses who had been hired to bring false accusations against the defendants.
Many witnesses were called, and their testimony seemed to support Metropolitan Benjamin and to weaken the government’s case against him. A certain professor of the Technological Institute named Egorov angered the court by his testimony. He was accused of being a follower of the Metropolitan, so he was arrested on the spot.
In spite of all the evidence, the defendants were found guilty. Government supporters and members of the Red Army in the court broke into applause. The defense attorney addressed the court, saying that he knew that any pleas he might offer would be useless. “Political considerations come first with you, and all verdicts must favor your policy,” he declared. Even though everyone understood that the trial was a farce, the Soviet government could not afford to make a martyr out of Metropolitan Benjamin. The example of history, he pointed out, should warn them against such a course.
When the defense attorney had finished, there was loud clapping. The judges tried to restore order, but found that many Communists in the audience had also joined in the applause.
The defendants were given a chance to speak, and the Metropolitan stood to address the court. He said it grieved him to be called an enemy of the people, for he had always loved the people and dedicated his life to them. The rest of his comments were a defense of the others on trial with him. When the presiding judge asked him to say something about himself, he said that no matter what sentence the court decreed he would thank God by saying, “Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee for all things.”
At 9:00 P.M. on July 5, the chairman of the tribunal announced that ten defendants, including the Metropolitan, were to be shot.
Saint Benjamin and those with him (Archimandrite Sergius, George, and John of Petrograd) were executed on July 31, 1922. They had been shaved and dressed in rags so that the firing squad would not know that they were shooting members of the clergy.
These saints are also commemorated at the Synaxis of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia (January 25 or the Sunday after the 25th).
Saint Arsenius, Bishop of Ninotsminda
Arsenius of Ninotsminda was an ascetic who labored in the 11th century. History tells us that he was a brilliant translator, writer, calligrapher, and theologian, and indeed one of the greatest Church figures of his time.
Saint Arsenius was tonsured a monk in Jerusalem, and after some time he returned to Georgia, where he was consecrated bishop of Ninotsminda. But the venerable Arsenius longed to lead a life of solitude, so he approached King Davit Kuropalates for permission to resign from the bishopric and settle at a monastery. The king honored Arsenius’s request, and the pious man set off for the monastery with John Grdzeslidze, a man of letters and another great figure in the Church.
When the news of his decision reached the Ivḗron Monastery on Mt. Athos, Saints John and Ekvtime invited the fathers to Mt. Athos, and the next year Arsenius and John arrived at the Holy Mountain. There they assisted Saint Ekvtime in his translations of the Holy Scriptures and many theological books.
Saint Arsenius labored fruitfully at the Ivḗron Monastery for many years and reposed peacefully at an advanced age. He was buried on Mt. Athos at the monastery’s church of Saint Simeon the Stylite. Saint George of the Holy Mountain later translated his relics to the ossuary of the monastery’s catholicon.
Righteous Joseph of Arimathea
Righteous Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. As a member of the Sanhedrin he did not participate in the “counsel and deed” of the Jews in passing a death sentence for Jesus Christ. After the Crucifixion and Death of the Savior he made bold to go to Pilate and ask him for the Body of the Lord, to Which he gave burial with the help of Righteous Νikόdēmos, who was also a secret disciple of the Lord.
They took down the Body of the Savior from the Cross, wrapped it in a winding-cloth, and placed it in a new tomb, in which no one had ever been buried, in the Garden of Gethsemane, in the presence of the Mother of God and the holy Myrrh-Bearing Women (St Joseph had prepared this tomb for himself). Having rolled a heavy stone before the entrance of the tomb, they departed (John. 19: 37-42; Mt. 27: 57-61; Mark 15: 43-47; Luke. 24: 50-56).
Saint Joseph traveled around the world, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. He died peacefully in England.
Silas, Silvan, Crescens, Epenetus and Andronicus the Apostles of the 70, Julitta of Caesaria
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 15:35-41
IN THOSE DAYS, Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Come, let us return and visit the brethren in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’ And Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp contention, so that they separated from each other; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
MATTHEW 10:37-42, 11:1
The Lord said, "He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." And when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.
Apostle Silas of the Seventy
The Holy Apostle of the Seventy Silas was a disciple of the Savior.
Saint Silas was a respected figure in the original Church at Jerusalem, one of the “chief men among the brethren” (Acts 15:22). The Council of the Apostles was convened at Jerusalem in the year 51 to deal with the question of whether Gentile Christian converts should be required to observe the Mosaic Law. The Apostles sent a message with Paul and Barnabas to the Christians of Antioch, giving the decision of the Council that Christians of Gentile origin did not have to observe the prescriptions of the Mosaic Law. Nonetheless, they were told that they must refrain from partaking of foods offered to idols, from things strangled and from blood, to refrain from fornication (Acts 15:20-29). Together with Saints Paul and Barnabas, the Council of the Apostles sent Saints Silas and Jude to explain the message in greater detail, since they both were filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit. Saint Jude was later sent back to Jerusalem, but Saint Silas remained at Antioch and zealously assisted Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, on his missionary journeys preaching the Gospel. They visited Syria, Cilicia, and Macedonia.
In the city of Philippi they were accused of inciting unrest among the people, and for this they were arrested, beaten with rods, and then thrown into prison. At midnight, when the saints were at prayer, suddenly there was a strong earthquake, their chains fell off from them and the doors of the prison opened. The prison guard, supposing that the prisoners had fled, wanted to kill himself, but was stopped by the Apostle Paul. Then, he fell down trembling at the feet of the saints, and with faith accepted their preaching about Christ. He then led them out of the prison and took them to his own home, where he washed their wounds, and was baptized together with all his household.
From Philippi Saints Paul and Silas proceeded on to the cities of Amphipolis, Apollonia and Thessalonica. In each city they made new converts to Christ and built up the Church.
At Corinth the holy Apostle Silas was consecrated as bishop, and worked many miracles and signs, and there he finished his life.
Apostle Silvanus of the Seventy
The Holy Apostle of the Seventy Silvanus was a disciple of the Savior.
The Holy Apostle Silvanus preached the Word of God together with the chief Apostles Peter and Paul. In his First Epistle, the holy Apostle Peter makes mention of him: “By Silvanus, a faithful brother to you, as I suppose, I have written briefly…” (1 Peter 5:12). Saint Silvanus was made bishop at Thessalonica and died there a martyr, having undergone many sorrows and misfortunes for the Lord’s sake.
Apostle Crescens of the Seventy
The Holy Apostle of the Seventy Crescens was a disciple of the Savior.
The Holy Apostle Crescens is mentioned by the holy Apostle Paul (2 Tim. 4:10), saying that Crescens had gone preaching to Galatia. He was made bishop there, and afterwards he preached the Word of God in Gaul (modern-day France). In the city of Vienna (modern Austria) the holy Apostle Crescens established his student Zacharias as bishop. Having returned to Galatia, he died as a martyr under the emperor Trajan (98-117).
Apostle Epenetus of the Seventy
The Holy Apostle of the Seventy Epenetus was a disciple of the Savior.
The Holy Apostle Epenetus was made bishop at Carthage. In his Epistle to the Romans, the holy Apostle Paul writes: “Greet my dear Epenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ” (Rom. 16:5).
Apostle Andronicus of the Seventy
The Holy Apostle of the Seventy Andronicus was a disciple of the Savior.
The Apostle Andronicus is mentioned by Saint Paul: “Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, … who are of note among the Apostles, who also were in Christ, before me” (Rom. 16:7). The holy Apostle Andronicus was bishop in Pannonia (modern-day Hungary).
Saints Andronicus and Junia are also commemorated on May 17.
Martyr John the Soldier at Constantinople
The Holy Martyr John the Soldier served in the Roman army during the reign of Emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). He was sent with other soldiers to find and kill Christians. Although he seemed to persecute them, Saint John was actually a secret Christian, and provided much help to his fellow Christians. He freed those who had been arrested, warned others of the dangers which threatened them, and helped them to escape. Saint John displayed charity not only to Christians, but to all the destitute, and to those who needed help. He visited the sick, and consoled the grieving. When Emperor Julian the Apostate learned of the Saint's activities he arrested him and sent him to a prison in Constantinople.
In the year 363 the wicked Emperor who had denied Christ was killed in a war with the Persians. Saint John was set free and devoted his life to serving his neighbor, and living a life of holiness and purity. He reposed at an advanced age, but the exact year of his death is not known.
In time, Saint John's tomb was gradually forgotten. One day he appeared to a certain devout woman and revealed to her the details of his life. He also showed her the location of his tomb, and this became known throughout the region. His holy relics, which had the power to heal various ailments, were transferred to the church of the Apostle John the Theologian at Constantinople. Through the prayers of Saint John the Soldier, those who suffer grief and sorrow receive comfort.
In the Russian Orthodox Church, Saint John is revered as the protector of soldiers, and a great intercessor for those who experience sorrow and difficult circumstances. He is also invoked for the recovery of stolen articles and fugitive slaves.
In iconography, Saint John is usually depicted as a middle-aged man with light brown (or dark) hair, a high forehead, and a short beard. He is dressed in armor and a cloak. In some icons he may hold a cross, a scroll, or military weapons, while in others he is shown in patrician clothing, wearing a cloak over a long chiton.
Saint John the Soldier is commemorated on July 29 in Greek usage, and on July 30 in Slavic usage.
Uncovering of the relics of Venerable Herman of Solovki
The Uncovering of the Relics of Saint Herman of Solovki took place in the year 1484. Saint Herman lived as a hermit at the River Vyg, by a chapel. It was here in the year 1429 that Saint Sabbatius of Valaam monastery came upon him while seeking a solitary place for his ascetic deeds. Herman told Sabbatius about Solovki Island, and both monks crossed the sea and settled on Solovki. They built themselves a cell beneath the Sekir Heights, where they lived for six years. Upon the repose of Sabbatius (September 27, 1435), Saint Herman continued his ascetic efforts on the island together with another wilderness-dweller, Saint Zosimus (April 17). Herman lived on the island for more than 50 years.
Being unlettered, but made wise by Divine Providence and wanting to preserve the memory of Saint Sabbatius to edify many others, he summoned clergy to write down his memories of Saints Sabbatius and Zosimus, and about the events which occurred during their lifetime. Saint Herman loved to listen to edifying readings, and in his final instruction to his disciples he bid them gather books at the monastery. For the domestic and other needs of the monastery the monk made dangerous sailings and prolonged journeys to the mainland into his old age. On one of these excursions to Novgorod in 1479 he died at the Antoniev monastery. They brought his body to the Solovki monastery, but because of some ruffians they had to bury him at a chapel in the village of Khavronin on the River Svira. In 1484, when it was decided to move the grave to the place where he had labored, his relics were found incorrupt.
Hieromartyr Polychronius, Bishop of Babylon, and those with him
The Hieromartyr Polychronius, Bishop of Babylon; the presbyters Parmenius, Helimenas, and Chrysotelus; the deacons Luke and Mocius; the holy Persian Martyrs Abdon and Sennen; and the holy martyrs Olympius and Maximus suffered during the third century under the emperor Decius (249-251).
When Decius conquered Babylon, he found many Christians there and he began a persecution against them. He arrested Saint Polychronius, Bishop of Babylon, the three priests Parmenius, Helimenas, Chrysotelus, and two deacons, Luke and Mocius. They were brought before the emperor, who commanded them to offer sacrifice to idols. Saint Polychronius boldly replied, “We offer ourselves in sacrifice to our Lord Jesus Christ, but we shall never worship idols made by human hands.”
The enraged Decius had the confessors thrown into prison. When they were brought out for a second interrogation, Saint Polychronius remained silent. Decius said, “Your leader is voiceless.” Saint Parmenius replied, “The holy bishop is not without a voice, but he does not wish to defile his pure lips and ‘cast pearls before swine’” (Mt. 7:6). In a rage Decius commanded that Saint Parmenius’ tongue be cut out. In spite of this, Parmenius spoke clearly to Saint Polychronius, saying, “Pray for me, Father, for I behold the Holy Spirit upon you.”
By order of Decius the holy Bishop Polychronius was struck in the mouth with stones, and he gave up his spirit. They left his body lying in front of the temple of Saturn. Two Persian princes, Abdon and Sennen, who were secret Christians, came at night and buried the body of the holy martyr by the city walls.
Decius left for the city of Kordula, and ordered that the three presbyters and two deacons be taken along. At Kordula he again demanded that the martyrs offer sacrifice to idols. Saint Parmenius, despite his missing tongue, loudly and firmly refused.
Believing that Saint Parmenius was able speak through some sort of magic power, Decius increased the tortures and ordered that the confessors be burned with fire. Then a Voice was heard from Heaven, “Come to Me, ye humble of heart.” Decius believed that this was also the work of magic, and he ordered the priests and deacons beheaded with an axe.
The Persian princes Abdon and Sennen took the bodies of the martyrs by night and buried them in their own village near Kordula.This was reported to Decius.The princes were arrested and brought before the emperor, who commanded that the holy princes be locked up in prison. The saints rejoiced and glorified God.
On the same day two other Persians, Olympius and Maximus, were brought before Decius and charged with being Christians. The holy martyrs were fiercely tortured and beheaded for their bold confession of faith in Christ. For five days their bodies lay unburied, but on the sixth day Christians secretly buried them at night.
Decius returned to Rome with Abdon and Sennen in chains. He told the saints to offer sacrifice to the gods, promising them freedom and honors. The holy martyrs answered, “We offer ourselves in sacrifice to our God Jesus Christ, therefore offer your sacrifice to your own gods.” Decius sentenced them to be eaten by wild beasts. They set two lions upon them, and later on four bears, which would not touch the holy martyrs, but instead lay at their feet. Then they ran Abdon and Sennen through with swords. Their bodies lay for three days before an idol to frighten Christians. By night a secret Christian named Cyrenius took the bodies of the martyrs and buried them in his own home.
The holy Martyrs Abdon and Sennen suffered in the year 251. Their relics are preserved in the church of Saint Mark at Rome.
Hieromartyr Valentine, Bishop of Interamna, Terni in Italy, and those with him
The Hieromartyr Bishop Valentine and his three disciples, Proculus, Ephebus and Apollonius, and the righteous Abundius lived during the third century. Saint Valentine was a bishop in Umbria (Italy), in the city of Interamna. He received from God the gift of healing various maladies.
At this time three pagan youths, Proculus, Ephebus and Apollonius, came from Athens to Rome to study.They found a tutor named Craton, and lived in his home. Craton’s son Cherimon fell grievously ill, and his spine was so contorted that his head was bent down to his knees. Craton asked Bishop Valentine to help his sick son.
The holy bishop went into the sick child’s room and prayed fervently all night. When day came, the happy parents saw their son had been healed. They believed in Christ and were baptized with all their household.
Craton’s students, Proculus, Ephebus and Apollonius were also baptized and became devoted disciples of Saint Valentine. The bishop’s fame quickly spread, and many were converted to Christ. Among them was the city prefect’s son, Abundius, who openly confessed himself a Christian. This was a bold thing to do, since paganism prevailed in the world, and Christianity was persecuted.
The wrath of the prefect and other city leaders fell upon Bishop Valentine, the teacher of the youths. They demanded that he renounce Christ and worship the idols.
After much torture they threw him into prison, where his followers visited him. Learning of this, the prefect gave orders to take Valentine out of the prison and behead him. Saint Valentine’s students Proculus, Ephebus, and Apollonius took the body of their teacher and carried it to the city of Interamnum, where they buried it.
Both believers and pagans were drawn to them, and they converted many idolaters to the true Faith. When the authorities heard about this, they arrested the youths and threw them in prison. Fearing that people might break the sufferers out of prison, the executioners beheaded them by night.
Abundius, learning that his friends had been locked in prison, hastened to see them, but found that they had already been executed. He buried their bodies near the grave of holy Bishop Valentine.
Venerable Angelina of Serbia
Saint Angelina was the daughter of Prince George Skenderbeg of Albania. Her mother’s name is not known, but she raised her daughter in Christian piety and taught her to love God.
Saint Stephen Brancovich (October 9 and December 10), the ruler of Serbia, had come to Albania to escape those who wished to kill him. Some time before he arrived in Albania, Saint Stephen was unjustly blinded by the Turkish Sultan for some perceived offense. Since he was innocent, he bore his affliction with courage.
Saint Stephen was not only Prince George’s guest, but he was also treated as a member of his family. Not surprisingly, Stephen and Angelina eventually fell in love. With her parents’ blessing, they were married in church. After a few years, they were blessed with two sons: George and John.
When the boys were grown, Saint Stephen and his family were forced to flee to Italy for their safety. At that time the Turks invaded Albania and began to slaughter men, women, and even children.
Saint Stephen died in 1468, leaving Angelina a widow. In her distress, she turned to the ruler of Hungary for help. He gave them the town of Kupinovo in Sirmie.
Saint Angelina left Italy with her sons in 1486, stopping in Serbia to bury Saint Stephen’s incorrupt body in his native land.
The children of these pious parents also became saints. George gave up his claim to the throne in favor of his brother John, then entered a monastery and received the name Maximus.
John was married, but had no sons. He died in 1503 at a young age, and many miracles took place before his holy relics.
Saint Angelina survived her husband and both of her sons. Mindful of her soul’s salvation, she entered a women’s monastery. She departed to the Lord in peace, and her body was buried in the same tomb as her sons in the monastery of Krushedol in Frushka Gora.
Saint Angelina is also commemorated on December 10 with her husband Saint Stephen and her son Saint John.
Icon of the Mother of God of Okonsk
The Okonsk Icon of the Mother of God, by tradition, was received by the Georgian emperor Vakhtang IV from Jerusalem and initially it was at the Gaenat monastery in Georgia. The Georgian emperor’s son George Alexandrovich transferred the holy icon to the cathedral church of the village of Lyskov, Nizhegorod diocese.
Venerable Anatole II of Optina
Saint Anatole the Younger (Alexander Potapov in the world) longed to be a monk from his youth. His mother would not give her blessing for this, so he entered Optina monastery only after her death.
Anatole lived in the Skete for many years as cell attendant to Saint Ambrose (October 10). After his death Father Anatole functioned as an Elder, even though he was still a deacon.
Saint Anatole received everyone with love, and there were always crowds of visitors at his cell. He got very little sleep, since the people would not leave his cell until late at night.
The Elder was always very kind and ready to help anyone who came to him with problems or sorrows. One day he was visited by a man whose family had no roof over their head, and little money. No one was able to help him, so he began to drink. Then he decided to leave his wife and children and look for work in Moscow. Somehow he decided to go to Optina first and speak with Father Anatole.
As he was blessing the man, Saint Anatole tapped him lightly on the head. Then the man said that he wanted to die. When questioned by the Elder, the man poured out his whole story. Father Anatole listened patiently, blessed him again and told him that he would move into a new home in three days. This indeed came to pass, and the man’s whole life changed.
In the early 1920s Saint Anatole was mocked and tormented by soldiers of the Red Army. He endured much suffering, but continued to receive visitors. He was supposed to be arrested on July 22, 1922, but asked for time to prepare himself.
Soldiers came the next morning and asked the Elder’s cell attendant if he was ready. Father Barnabas invited them to come in, and they found Father Anatole lying in his coffin. The Lord had taken him during the night to spare him further suffering.
The Moscow Patriarchate authorized local veneration of the Optina Elders on June 13, 1996. The work of uncovering the relics of Saints Leonid, Macarius, Hilarion, Ambrose, Anatole I, Barsanuphius and Anatole II began on June 24/July 7, 1998 and was concluded the next day. However, because of the church Feasts (Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, etc.) associated with the actual dates of the uncovering of the relics, Patriarch Alexey II designated June 27/July 10 as the date for commemorating this event. The relics of the holy Elders now rest in the new church of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God.
The Optina Elders were glorified by the Moscow Patriarchate for universal veneration on August 7, 2000.
Saint Tsotne Dadiani the Confessor
Saint Tsotne Dadiani, a virtuous military leader and the prince of Egrisi, lived in the middle of the 13th century.
During that time Georgia languished under the yoke of Mongol oppression.
After the death of Queen Rusudan, the Mongols began to exact exorbitant fees from the Georgian princes, and they established compulsory military service for their Georgian subjects. The situation became unbearable, and the Georgian nobility planned a massive rebellion against the invaders.
Having assembled at the peak of Mt. Kokhta (in the Meskheti region of southern Georgia), rulers from all over Georgia agreed to assemble the troops in Kartli and attack on a single front. Tsotne Dadiani and the ruler of Racha were the first to muster their armies. But there were traitors among them, and the Mongols learned of the conspiracy. They surrounded Mt. Kokhta, arrested the rebels—save for Tsotne Dadiani and the ruler of Racha—and led them away to the Mongol ruler at Anis-Shirakavan.
The prisoners denied every accusation and asserted that the purpose of the gathering on Mt. Kokhta was to collect the tribute that the Mongol authorities had demanded. Infuriated at their insurgency, the Mongols stripped them bare, bound their hands and feet, smeared them with honey, threw them under the scorching sun, and interrogated them daily about the gathering on Mt. Kokhta.
Having heard what had transpired, Tsotne Dadiani became deeply distressed and took upon himself the blame for this tragic turn of events. Escorted by two servants, he journeyed voluntarily to Anis to lay down his life and suffer together with his brothers. Arriving in Anis and seeing his kinsmen doomed to death, the prince promptly undressed, tied himself up, and lay down next to them under the scorching sun.
The disbelieving Mongols informed their ruler about the strange man who had willingly lain down beside those who were condemned.
The ruler summoned him and demanded an explanation. “We gathered with a single goal—to collect the tribute and fulfill your command. If it was for this that my countrymen were punished, I also desire to share in their lot!” answered the courageous prince.
Tsotne’s chivalrous deed made a dramatic impression on the Mongols, and every one of the prisoners was set free.
Tsotne Dadiani is not mentioned in accounts of the next conspiracy against the Mongols, in the year 1259. Historians believe that he had already reposed by that time.
The virtues of Saint Tsotne Dadiani are known to all throughout Georgia. His heroism and integrity are an example of faith, love and devotion to every generation, and the faithful of every era have honored his holy name.
Tsotne Dadiani was numbered among the saints on October 26, 1999, according to a decree of the Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
The Holy Martyr Callinicus, Theodota the Martyr and her Children, Constantine III, Patriarch of Constantinople, Pious King Theodosius the New, Holy Virgin Martyr Theodota, Seraphima the Virgin-martyr of Antioch, Olaf of Norway
ST. PAUL’S FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 7:35-40; 8:1-7
Brethren, I am speaking for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. If any one thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his virgin, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry – it is not sin. But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his virgin, he will do well. So that he who married his virgin does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better. A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If the husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. But in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I have the Spirit of God.
Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that "all of us possess knowledge." "Knowledge" puffs up, but love builds up. If any one imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if one loves God, one is known by him. Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that "an idol has no real existence, " and that "there is no God but one." For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords" – yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, though being hitherto accustomed to idols, eat food as really offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak is defiled.
At that time, Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain, and sat down there. And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the dumb, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the throng wondered, when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.
Martyr Callinicus of Gangra in Asia Minor
The Holy Martyr Callinicus, a native of Cilicia, was raised from childhood in the Christian Faith. Grieving that many misguided people would perish for eternity because they worshiped idols, he went through the cities and villages to proclaim Jesus Christ and His teachings to the pagans, and with the Word of God he converted many to Christianity.
In the Galatian city of Ancyra the holy confessor was arrested and brought to trial before a governor named Sacerdonus, a fierce persecutor of Christians. The governor, threatening tortures and death, ordered the saint to offer sacrifice to the idols. The saint fearlessly declared that he was not afraid of martyrdom, since every believer in Christ receives from Him strength in ordeals, and through death inherits an eternal blessed life.
They cruelly beat the saint with ox thongs and tore at his body with iron hooks, but he endured everything with patience and calm. This aroused still greater fury in Sacerdonus, and he ordered that sandals with sharp nails be placed on the saint’s feet, and that they should drive the martyr with whips to the city of Gangra to be burned.
The pathway was arduous, and the soldiers who accompanied the condemned man were weak from thirst. In despair they began to implore the saint to pray the Lord for water. The saint, taking pity on his tormentors, with the help of God caused a miraculous spring of water to gush forth from a stone. The astonished soldiers were filled with sympathy for their rescuer, and they wanted even to set him free. Fear of execution, however, compelled them to bring the martyr farther. In Gangra, Saint Callinicus joyfully offered thanks to the Lord, Who had vouchsafed him the crown of martyrdom. He went into the blazing fire and gave up his soul to God. His body, remaining unharmed, was reverently buried by believers.
Venerable Constantine and Cosmas, Abbots of Kosinsk
Saints Constantine and Cosmas were monastic followers of Saint Barlaam of Khutyn (November 6) and his successor, Saint Anthony of Dymsk (January 17). About the year 1220, they left the Khutyn monastery and settled upon a wilderness peninsula, situated 3 versts from the city of Staraya Rus, between the Rivers Polista and Smezhnya. In time they founded a monastery there in the name of Saint Nicholas, headed by Saint Constantine until his death (ca. 1240).
Saint Cosmas continued with the exploits of his mentor. He was buried in the same grave with Saint Constantine. Their bodies rest beneath the vestibule of the Nikolaev church, built in 1820 over the tomb of the saints.
Virgin Martyr Seraphima (Serapia) of Antioch
The Holy Virgin Martyr Seraphima, a native of Antioch, lived in Rome in the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117-138). She resided with Sabina, a woman from a prominent senatorial family, whom the saint had converted to Christianity. During the persecution against Christians ordered by the Emperor, the governor Virilus had Saint Seraphima brought before him for questioning. Wishing to obtain a crown of martyrdom from the Lord, she went fearlessly to face Virilus, and her devoted friend Sabina accompanied her. When he saw that illustrious lady, Virilus at first set the maiden free, but after several days he summoned Saint Seraphima once again and began the trial.
The governor insisted that she honor the pagan gods and offer sacrifice, but she boldly confessed her faith in the one true God, Jesus Christ. Then Virilus gave her to two shameless young men of Egyptian descent so they could defile her. Saint Seraphima begged the Lord to protect her. Suddenly there was an earthquake, and the two men fell to the ground paralyzed and unable to speak. On the following day the governor learned that his plan had failed. Believing that the saint was a sorceress, Virilus told her to restore the young men to health so that they could relate what had happened to them.
After praying to the Lord, Saint Seraphima ordered the men to stand up. They got up at once and informed the governor that an Angel of the Lord had shielded the saint, and prevented them from approaching her. The cruel governor did not believe his servants, and he continued to urge Saint Seraphima to offer sacrifice to the idols. The holy martyr remained steadfast, however, even when they burned her with flaming torches and mercilessly beat her with sticks. Then harsh punishment overtook the governor. Splinters from the sticks with which the saint was beaten, struck him in his right eye,
and after three days the tormentor became blind. Powerless before the unyielding Christian, Virilus ordered her to be beheaded. Sabina buried the body of her holy mentor with all due honor and reverence.
Martyr Theodota and her three sons in Bithynia
The Holy martyr Theodota and her three young children lived during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). She was a Christian, a native of the city of Nicea, Bithynia. After being widowed, Saint Theodota led a pious life and raised her sons in the Christian Faith. She had a spiritual friendship with Saint Anastasia (December 22).
When the persecution against Christians began, they arrested the holy women. At the trial, the dignitary Leucadius was captivated by the beautiful Theodota and he decided to take her home with him, intending to marry her. Finding herself in the home of Leucadius with her children, Saint Theodota kept herself in purity, yielding neither to inducements nor charms, nor threats by the pagan.
Angered at the steadfastness of the saint, Leucadius sent her and her children to Bithynia, to the district governor Nicetas. At the interrogation, when the judge began to threaten her with torture, Saint Theodota’s eldest son Evodus said that Christians do not fear tortures, but rather fear being forsaken by God. They cruelly beat the boy before the eyes of his mother, so that his blood began to flow. Saint Theodota prayed that the Lord would strengthen her son in his sufferings, and rejoiced in that he was being given a martyr’s death for the sake of truth.
They gave Saint Theodota over to be defiled, but the Lord preserved her. An angel of the Lord held back everyone who tried to approach the saint. Imputing this miracle to sorcery, the judge sentenced the saint and her children to death by fire.
The memory of the holy Martyrs Theodota, the child Evodus and her other two small sons is celebrated also on December 22, together with the memory of Saint Anastasia the Deliverer from Potions.
Martyr Eustathius of Mtskheta in Georgia
Saint Eustathius, a Persian by descent, was a fire-worshipper named Gvirobandak prior to his baptism into the Christian Faith. When he arrived in Georgia and settled in Mtskheta, he was deeply drawn to the morals and traditions of the Georgian people, and he resolved to convert to Christianity.
His decision entailed a great risk, as the Persians dominated eastern Georgia, persecuting Christians and forcing all to worship fire, as they did. Catholicos Samoel himself baptized Gvirobandak and called him Eustathius. The new convert soon married a Georgian woman and was fully assimilated into Georgian society and the life of the Church.
Once the Persians who were occupying Mtskheta invited Eustathius to a celebration, but he declined, saying, “I am stamped with the seal of Christ and far removed from every darkness!”
After the celebration the fire-worshippers reported Eustathius to Ustam, the chief of the Mtskheta Fortress. The chief summoned Eustathius and threatened him, saying, “You will not remain a Christian without punishment. If you do not voluntarily turn back from this way of misfortune, severe tortures will await you!”
Saint Eustathius calmly answered him, saying, “For the sake of Christ I am prepared to endure not only torture but even death itself with rejoicing!”
Since he himself did not have the authority to punish Eustathius, Ustam sent the accused to the marzban Arvand Gushnasp. Then the informers appeared again before Ustam and reported that seven more fire-worshippers had converted to Christianity. All eight of them were bound in chains and escorted to Tbilisi.
The furious marzban ordered his servants to shave the captives’ heads and beards, bore holes in their noses, hang weights round their necks, fetter their bodies in chains and cast them into prison.
Anyone who denied Christ was to be pardoned. Two of the victims, Bakhdiad and Panagushnasp, could not bear the suffering and denied Christ. The marzban freed them, while the six holy men—Gushnaki, Eustathius, Borzo, Perozak, Zarmil and Steven—remained in confinement.
Six months later Arvand Gushnasp was summoned to Persia, so Catholicos Samoel, the chieftain Grigol of Mtskheta and the nobleman Arshusha took advantage of the opportunity and requested that he release the imprisoned Persian Christians. Arvand Gushnasp yielded to the request of the Georgian dignitaries, but warned that the Christian converts would soon meet their deaths.
Meanwhile, the betrayer Bakhdiad fell ill with epilepsy and died, while Panagushnasp lived on in terrible poverty.
Three years later Vezhan Buzmir was appointed the new marzban of Kartli, and the pagan priests again reported on Saints Eustathius’s and Steven’s conversion. Saint Eustathius asked to see his family and said to them: “Farewell, for I am not destined to return home again. I will not betray Christ, and for this they will not forgive me. Imprisonment and beheading await me in Tbilisi. My remains will be brought here according to God’s will.”
Eustathius and Steven were escorted to the new marzban, and Eustathius declared before him that he would not deny Christ. The enraged marzban ordered that he be cast into prison and that his head be chopped off that night and his body thrown behind the fortress wall, to be torn to pieces by the birds. As directed, the marzban’s servants beheaded the saint and cast his body into the abyss behind the fortress wall.
But a group of faithful Christians located Saint Eustathius’s body and carried it in secret to Mtskheta. Catholicos Samoel met the holy relics when they arrived, and with great honor they were buried in Svetitskhoveli Cathedral under the altar table.
Martyr Bessarion, Bishop of Smolyan
No information available at this time.
Child Schemamonk Bogolep
The Child Schemamonk Bogolep was the son of a Moscow nobleman Iakov Lukich Ushakov and his wife Katherine. He was born in 1660 at Moscow. At Baptism they gave him the name Boris, in honor of the holy Passion-Bearer Boris (July 24).
Ushakov was appointed voevoda (military-commander) in the city of Chernyi Yar (Black Ravine), situated 250 versts from Astrakhan. He was known for his integrity. From infancy Boris displayed unusual traits. On Wednesdays and Fridays he would not drink milk from his mother’s breasts. When the bells pealed at the church, he began to cry, and became quiet only when they brought him into the church. When they did not take the infant to church, he cried all day and ate nothing.
In 1662 a deadly pestilence spread about in Russia. The child fell ill, and the pestilence afflicted him in the legs. He became lame, but continued to walk to church. The parents prayed for the health of their son and they tried everything in their power to heal him. But no sooner had the one illness gone, than upon his face there appeared another, called scales.
Once during his illness the child saw a wandering monk who visited at their home. The angelic garb so impressed the child, that he began to implore his parents to sew him such clothing and permit him to receive monastic tonsure. The holy child proclaimed: “You will see for yourselves, when you tonsure and grant me the angelic garb, I shall be well.” The parents consented. The child was invested in the schema with the name Bogolep (the Russian version of the Greek name Theoleptos, meaning “similar to God”).
On the next day the child schemamonk was completely healthy, his face was clear and there remained no trace of the illness. But on the third day there was a new illness, he developed a fever, and it struck down the child. He died on August 1, 1667 and was buried at the left wall of the wooden Black Ravine church in honor of the Resurrection of Christ. (This church was built after a great fire in Black Ravine, on July 24, 1652 the Feast of Saint Boris). A chapel was built over the grave of the child.
The Life of the holy Schemamonk Bogolep was compiled under a vow by the Black Ravine merchant Savva Tatarinov during the years 1731-1732.
Icons of the saint, with the Troparion and Kontakion to him, were widely dispersed throughout the Astrakhan region.
In 1750 on the place of the wooden church a stone church was built with a side-altar in honor of the holy Martyr John the Warrior. The grave of the holy schemamonk was enclosed in this side altar.
The bank of the river, where the church of the Resurrection of Christ stood, was constantly eroding. By the mid-nineteenth century the structure of the church was threatened, and they removed all the holy things from it. For a long time the people of Black Ravine did not remove the chief holy object: the grave of the holy schemamonk. Finally, in 1851 when the water had already approached 4 ft. 8 inches, the people petitioned the Most Holy Synod with a request to transfer the holy relics of the Schemamonk Bogolep, and they received permission for this. The small child’s coffin was laid bare, but just when the city head took it into his hands, it slid out of his hands and disappeared into the waters of the Volga.
This disappearance of the relics just at the opening of the grave was accepted as the Will of God, since the holy child had repeatedly appeared to many either in sleep, or awake while walking along the river bank, or coming down the hill. He consoled them, promising that he would be present spiritually with believers.
The simple life of the holy Schemamonk Bogolep, full of the mysteries of God, illustrates the words of the Savior concerning children: “Let the children come unto Me and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter therein. And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them” (Mark 10: 14-16).
We pray to Saint Bogolep for children, and also for protection against lightning.
Saint Roman of Kirzhachsk
Saint Roman of Kirzhachsk was a co-ascetic and student of Saint Sergius, Igumen of Radonezh (September 25 and July 5). Saints Sergius and Roman built a church in the forests of Vladimir governia at the River Kirzhach in honor of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos, and established a new monastery (in 1371). Three years later, with the blessing of Saint Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow (February 12), Saint Sergius returned to the Trinity monastery, and Saint Roman remained to head the newly-created wilderness monastery.
Ordained to the priesthood by Saint Alexis, the new head of the Annunciation monastery fulfilled the precepts of his spiritual father and teacher, Saint Sergius with great fervor. A zealous ascetic, a good and demanding instructor, Saint Roman was an example for all the brethren.
The saint died on July 29, 1392 and was buried in the Annunciation temple. In the manuscripts, Saint Roman is numbered among the saints and is called a wonderworker.
Martyr Michael “the Black-Robed” of Saint Savva Monastery
The Venerable Michael lived in the ninth century, and was from the city of Edessa in Mesopotamia, the son of Christian parents. After their death he distributed his inheritance to the poor, then went to Jerusalem to venerate the Holy Places. The Holy Land at that time was under Moslem rule.
Michael remained in Palestine and settled in the Lavra of Saint Savva, where he became the disciple of his relative, Saint Theodore of Edessa (July 9), who spent his time both in the monastery and living as an anchorite in the Judean desert. Saint Theodore accepted him and tonsured him right away. The two made baskets of reeds together in order to support themselves. Saint Michael would take the baskets to the marketplace in Jerusalem in order to sell them.
One day while at the marketplace, the eunuch of the Muslim Queen Seida, seeing that the baskets were both fine and well-made, took him along to the Queen, who was visiting the city with her husband King al-Ma’mun (813-833). The handsome monk aroused the desire of the Queen, who tried to lead him into the sin of adultery, but he did not accept her suggestions. The enraged Seida told her husband to have the monk beaten with rods because he had insulted her, and accused him of being an enemy of Islam.
There was a debate about which faith is the true one, Christianity or Islam, and the king said, “Do as I tell you, and confess that Mohammed is a prophet and an apostle of Christ, then I will adopt you as my son.” Saint Michael said, “Mohammad is neither an apostle nor a prophet, but a deceiver and the forerunner of the antichrist. Either send me back to my Elder at the monastery, or be baptized into our Christian faith and reign forever in the heavens, or send me to Christ through martyrdom.”
The king gave the Saint a cup with deadly poison to drink. Saint Michael made the Sign of the Cross over the cup, and he drank it, but he remained unharmed, according to the promise of the Lord (Mark16:18). After this the king ordered that he be decapitated. The monks of the Lavra of Saint Savva wanted to take the Saint’s relics to their Lavra, but the Christians of Jerusalem would not permit this. They said that since he was martyred in Jerusalem, his relics ought to remain there.The monks of the Lavra disagreed with them, saying that he was nurtured in the Lavra and so he should be buried there. There was such a heated argument that the king decided that the relics would go to the Lavra.
On the same day that Saint Michael was put to death, the Lord revealed this to Saint Theodore. After informing the brethren, he sent some monks to bring the relics to the Lavra. As the relics were carried to the Lavra, there was a pillar of fire from Heaven accompanying the relics, and it remained until they reached the Lavra. Saint Theodore and the monks came out to meet the procession with lit candles, and singing hymns. The holy relics were buried with the other holy Fathers who had endured martyrdom. Many miracles took place before the relics of Saint Michael, as a sign that he had found favor with God.
At the beginning of the twelfth century the relics of Saint Michael were seen by Daniel, the Igoumen of the Kiev Caves Monastery, while on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Saint Michael is commemorated twice during the year: on May 23 (his repose) and July 29 (the transfer of his relics).
Nativity of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker
On July 29, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the Nativity of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, the Bishop of Myra in Lycia, who is one of the most revered saints in Russia.
In addition to the two main holidays dedicated to Saint Nicholas, celebrated on December 6 (the saint's blessed repose) and May 9 (the transfer of his holy relics to the city of Bari), there are other days when the Church remembers the God-pleaser Nicholas.
The Feast of his Nativity was not very widely known in Russia, but in 2004, with the blessing of Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia, the celebration of the Nativity of Saint Nicholas was revived.
The Hosiomartyr Michael, a disciple of Saint Theodore of Edessa (July 9), was beheaded during the ninth century for his confession of faith in Christ. His memory is celebrated also on May 23.
Emperor Theodosios the Younger
The Emperor Theodosios II began his reign in the year 408 at the age of seven, succeeding his father, Arkadios. He was called “the younger” in order to distinguish him from his grandfather Theodosios the Great. His sister Pulcheria instructed him in Christian piety, and so he had a great reverence for the Orthodox Faith. When Theodosios II assumed the throne, with the help of his sister Pulcheria, he was a strong supporter of the truth of the Orthodox Faith and defender of the Nicene Creed.
By his imperial decree of November 19, 430, the Third Ecumenical Synod met on June 22, 431 in Ephesus, which condemned the heretical beliefs of Nestorius. Because of the fervent piety and great service to Orthodoxy of Theodosius II, the Church has numbered him among its Saints.
Prochoros, Nicanor, Timon, & Parmenas the Apostles of the 70, Irene the Righteous of Chrysovalantou, Our Righteous Father Paul of Xeropotamou
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 6:1-7
In those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, “it is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochoros, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaos, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and so passes on? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon.
Holy Apostles of the Seventy and Deacons: Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, and Parmenas
Saints Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon and Parmenas, Apostles of the Seventy were among the first deacons in the Church of Christ.
In the Acts of the Holy Apostles (6:1-6) it is said that the twelve Apostles chose seven men: Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicholas, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, and appointed them to serve as deacons.
They are commemorated together on July 28, although they died at various times and in various places.
At first, Saint Prochorus accompanied the holy Apostle Peter, who made him bishop in the city of Nicomedia. After the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, Prochorus was a companion and coworker of the holy Apostle John the Theologian and was banished with him to the island of Patmos. There he wrote down the Book of Revelation concerning the final fate of the world. Upon returning to Nicomedia, Saint Prochorus converted pagans to Christ in the city of Antioch, where he suffered martyrdom.
Although Saint Nicanor suffered on the same day that the holy Protomartyr Stephen (December 27) and many other Christians were killed by stoning, he is also commemorated on December 28.
Saint Timon was later appointed by the Apostles as bishop of the city of Bostra in Arabia and suffered from the Jews and pagans for preaching the Gospel. He was thrown into a furnace, but by the power of God he came out of it unharmed. The tradition of the Roman Church says that Saint Timon died by crucifixion. Saint Timon is also commemorated on December 30.
Saint Parmenas zealously preached Christ in Macedonia. He died after being afflicted with an illness. Some say that Saint Parmenas suffered martyrdom under Trajan (98-117) in the final year of his reign.
Saint Pitirim, Bishop of Tambov
Saint Pitirim, Bishop of Tambov, in the world Procopius, was born 27 February 1645 (or 1644) in the city of Vyazma. From his youth, the Lord prepared Procopius for high spiritual service. While still a child, he learned reading and writing, attended church services, and acquired the habit of prayer. Procopius loved to read the writings of the holy Fathers and the Lives of the Saints. This furthered the future hierarch’s spiritual growth. The boy was remarkable for his overall love of work, broad knowledge and mature judgment. He was endowed with artistic talent, and he successfully occupied himself with the painting of icons and church singing. A sublime spiritual disposition led Procopius onto the pathway of monastic life. Having resolved to dedicate himself completely to God, he entered into the Vyazma’s monastery of Saint John the Baptist, known for its strict rule. When he was twenty-one, he was tonsured with the name of Pitirim.
The young monk earned the respect of his brethren by his ascetic life, and was chosen igumen. In 1684 he was raised to the dignity of archimandrite. Saint Pitirim, following the decree of the Tsar and the Patriarch, was diligent in removing “poorly executed,” westernized icons from churches, and from private use. During a procession he confiscated such an icon painted by an unskilled iconographer. Those who had brought the icon grumbled and cursed, and many people were stirred up against the saint. The affair became known to Patriarch Joachim, who praised the courage and zeal of Archimandrite Pitirim and approved of his actions, and summoned him to Moscow for higher service to the Church.
On September 1, 1684 Saint Pitirim was nominated to be a bishop, and on February 15, 1685 Patriarch Joachim consecrated him Bishop of Tambov. Saint Pitirim did not leave immediately, but remained in Moscow for a year to prepare himself for his new responsibilities.
Organized in 1682, the Tambov diocese suffered from the frontier poverty and the illiteracy of its inhabitants. Pagans comprised the greater part of the settlers: the Mordovians, the Cheremysi, the Mereschi. On the territory of the diocese lived also many Moslem Tatars, bitter opponents of Christianity. Among the Christian settlers of the diocese were many schismatics, fugitives from justice, or banished criminals.
The saint zealously devoted himself to the tasks set before him. On the site of the old wooden church at Tambov he began to build a two-story stone cathedral in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord with a chapel named for Saint Nicholas. Saint Pitirim not only supervised the construction of the temple, but even participated in the building work himself. The saint devoted great effort to the spiritual enlightenment of his flock. He built a special school for clergy, where worthy Church pastors were trained under his guidance. In his home the saint had collected a library of spiritual literature (in the inventory of the Moscow’s Dormition cathedral there are mentioned “two books of Dionysius the Areopagite, leather bound, one in red, the other in black, with gilt edges,” belonging to Saint Pitirim). The saint continually instructed his flock, preaching the Word of God. He often made trips throughout the diocese, in order to familiarize himself with the needs of the communities.
The holy archpastor was constantly concerned with the return of schismatics and dissenters to the Orthodox Church. His deep piety, active compassion towards neighbor, and wise patience in conversations with the schismatics and dissenters disposed them to trust his word. By the fine example of his holy life and by the power of grace-filled discourse, the saint led many to the true Faith. The saint’s sister, Katherine, became the first abbess of the Ascension women’s monastery, which he founded in 1690.
Being a bold man of prayer and intercessor before God, Saint Pitirim never lost his Christian humility. Not relying on his own human strength, the archpastor shielded the city of Tambov entrusted him by God with icons of the Savior and the Kazan Mother of God, placing them at the two chief gates.
Saint Pitirim prayed much and taught his flock about prayer. He was present at divine services every day and often served them himself. On those days when the saint did not serve, he sang in the kliros (choir), teaching the choir proper church singing and reading. In his cell the saint very often prayed before icons of the Devpeteruv Mother of God (February 29) and Saint Nicholas.
Saint Pitirim loved the beauty of nature in his land, which roused in him a feeling of prayerful thanksgiving to the All-Holy Trinity for the visible world. In the forest, near the place where he went for solitary prayer, he built the Tregulaev monastery of Saint John the Baptist. He founded it together with his spiritual friend, Saint Metrophanes of Voronezh (November 23 and August 7). There the saint set up a large wooden cross with an image of the Savior.
Like the great ascetics, Saint Pitirim allotted much time to physical work. The wells he dug with his own hands at the Tregulaev Monastery of Saint John the Baptist, near the Tambov Cathedral, and in the forest thicket where he withdrew for silence and prayer, are evidence of this.
Saint Pitirim died in 1698 at age fifty-three. The body of the saint was buried in the lower level of the Tambov Savior-Transfiguration cathedral, at the south wall of the right side chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas.
The death of Saint Pitirim did not dissolve his spiritual ties with his flock. People came to his tomb to seek his intercession, and soon obtained healing from God. With each year the number of pilgrims grew. On July 28, the anniversary of the saint’s blessed repose, they would attend services at the Tambov cathedral. Each new sign of God’s mercy, obtained by prayers to Saint Pitirim, inspired assurance for the people that the bishop they venerated was truly a man of God. From the year 1819 a record of miracles and personal testimonies began to be kept, and the veneration of Saint Pitirim extended far beyond the Tambov diocese. On July 28, 1914 the holy wonderworker Pitirim, Bishop of Tambov, was numbered among the saints.
Venerable Moses, Wonderworker of the Kiev Caves
Saint Moses lived in the Kiev Caves Monastery during the XIII-XIV centuries, and was completely dedicated to God. He wore chains and a heavy copper cross. His continuous and favorite ascetical struggle was psalmody and making innumerable prostrations. Therefore, he received the gift of working miracles.
The relics of the righteous Moses are in the Far (Theodosios) Caves. He should not be confused with Saint Moses the Hungarian (July 26).
Martyr Julian of Dalmatia
The Holy Martyr Julian suffered during the reign of Antoninus Pius (138-161) in the Italian province of Campagna. The governor Flavian gave orders to search out and bring Christians to him for trial. During this time the young Christian Julian arrived in Campagna from Dalmatia. Having met with soldiers of the governor, he greeted them with the words: “Peace, brothers!” The soldiers began to interrogate him, asking where he was from and what faith he confessed. Julian, willing to suffer and die for Christ, bravely declared that he was a Christian. The soldiers were amazed at the courage of the youth, but obeying their orders, they bound him and led him to the governor. “We shall see,” they said, “how true your words are, whether you are willing to die for the Crucified One.”
Having undergone a beating, the saint prayed that the Lord would grant him the strength to endure the torture to the end. His prayer was heard, and he heard a Voice: “Fear not, Julian, I am with you and shall give you strength and courage.” The holy youth was locked up in a prison, called “the Cold Pit,” in which they held him for seven days without food or water. An angel of God brought food and heartened the confessor.
At the following interrogation the governor harassed the youth, saying, that it was shameful for such a handsome youth to worship the Crucified One, and urged him to offer sacrifice to idols. Saint Julian replied that he was prepared to die for the true Faith. The governor gave orders to tie the youth to a tree and beat him. The martyr began to pray and again heard a Voice: “Fear not, Julian, remain brave.” Saint Julian turned to the crowd standing about, and said, “Listen, accursed ones, do not trust your gods, which you have made with your hands. Know, rather, the God Who out of nothing, has created Heaven and earth.”
After his speech more than 30 men were converted to Christ, and they again led off the saint to prison. In the morning, when new tortures began, they announced that the temple of the pagan god Serapis and the idols standing in it were destroyed. Everyone arrived in shock and was terrified, but the Christians were heartened and glorified Christ God. The pagans attributed this destruction to magical power, and they demanded his immediate execution.
They decided to kill the holy youth at the site of a ruined pagan temple. Before execution, Saint Julian knelt and prayed, thanking the Lord for granting him to endure death for His Holy Name. A third time he heard the Voice, summoning him to the Kingdom of Heaven. They beheaded the holy martyr with a sword, and he departed to the Lord, Whom he loved more than earthly life.
Martyr Eustathius (Eustace) of Apamea
The Holy Martyr Eustathius was a soldier. He was arrested and brought before the head of the city of Ancyra for confessing the Christian Faith. At the interrogation, the saint firmly and bravely confessed himself a Christian and was sentenced to tortures. They beat him without mercy, they bore into the heels and, having tied him with rope, they dragged him in the city to the River Sagka (Sangara).
At the bank of the river they put the martyr into a wooden chest and threw it in the water, but an angel of God brought the chest to shore. The saint, in the chest, was singing the 90th (91st) Psalm: “He who dwelleth in the help of the Most High…” Beholding the miracle and sensing himself disgraced, the governor drew his sword and killed himself. The holy martyr, having received Communion from the hand of an angel, gave up his soul to God. His holy relics were buried in the city of Ancyra.
Venerable Paul, founder of the Xeropotamou Monastery on Mount Athos
Saint Paul of Xeropotamou, in the world Procopius, was the son of the Byzantine Emperor Michael Kuropalatos, who later resigned the imperial office and became a monk in a monastery he built. Having received the finest education, Procopius became one of the most learned men of his time. His “Discourse on the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple,” the “Canon to the Forty Martyrs”, the “Canon to the Venerable Cross” and other works gained him great renown. But worldly knowledge and honors did not interest him. He exchanged his fine garb for beggar’s rags, and he went to the Holy Mountain [Athos], to Xeropotamou. He built a cell there at the ruins of an old monastery founded by the empress Pulcheria in honor of the Forty Martyrs (March 9). From Cosmas, a hermit, he received monastic tonsure with the name Paul.
Out of humility the saint did not reveal his erudition to anyone. The fame of Paul’s strict life quickly spread throughout the Holy Mountain. He became called Paul of Xeropotamou, and the monastery where he pursued monasticism, to the present day bears the name Xeropotamou (“dry river”).
At that time the emperor Romanus, a relative of Paul, ascended the throne. Through the Protos of the Holy Mountain he requested the saint to come to Constantinople and planned a splendid reception for him. The humble Paul, not betraying his monastic duty, appeared with a cross and in torn robes amid the courtly splendor and magnificence. Saint Paul confirmed his fame as a chosen one of God, miraculously healing the grievously ill Romanus by placing his hand on him. But the vanity of courtly life, promised by the gratitude of the emperor, did not interest the saint; he returned to the Holy Mountain, having asked one favor of the emperor: to restore the Xeropotamou monastery.
In the holy altar in the consecrated cathedral church of the restored monastery, was put a piece of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord, given to Saint Paul by the emperor Romanus.
Soon the Xeropotamou monastery was filled by a throng of monks, wanting to put themselves under the guidance of the holy ascetic, but Saint Paul, having entrusted the rule of the monastery to one of the brethren, moved off to the remote wilderness. His quiet was again disturbed by disciples, not wanting to leave their Elder. Then the monk requested of the emperor the means for the building of a new monastery. Thus the saint founded a monastery in the name of the holy Great Martyr and Victory-Bearer Saint George. The first head of the new monastery was Saint Paul himself, who also brought a piece of the Venerable Wood of the Cross of the Lord there.
Having been informed in advance by the Lord of his impending end, the saint summoned the brethren of the Xeropotamou and the new Georgikos monasteries and gave them his final instructions. On the day of his death, Saint Paul donned the mantle, and read the prayer of Saint Joannicius, which he said continually: “My hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, my protection is the Holy Spirit, O Holy Trinity, glory to Thee,” and he received the Holy Mysteries of Christ.
Saint Paul had instructed in his will to bury his body on the peninsula of Pongosa (opposite the Holy Mountain). But by the will of God the ship was driven to the shores of Constantinople, where the Emperor and Patriarch with the pious took the body of the saint and solemnly placed it in the Great Church (Hagia Sophia). After the sacking of Constantinople by the Crusaders, the relics of Saint Paul were transferred to Venice.
Appearance of the Smolensk “Directress” Icon of the Mother of God brought from Constantinople
The Smolensk “Hodēgḗtria” Icon of the Theotokos, or “She who leads the way,” was, according to Church Tradition, painted by the holy Evangelist Luke during the earthly life of the Most Holy Theotokos. The holy hierarch Demetrius of Rostov suggests that this icon was painted at the request of Theophilus, the prefect of Antioch. From Antioch the holy image was transferred to Jerusalem. From there the empress Eudokia, the spouse of Arcadius, gave it at Constantinople to Pulcheria, the sister of the emperor, who put the holy icon in the Blachernae church.
In 1046, the Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachos (1042-1054), gave his daughter Anna in marriage to Prince Vsevolod Yaroslavich, the son of Yaroslav the Wise. He blessed her on her way with this icon. After the death of Prince Vsevolod the icon went to his son Vladimir Monomachos, who transferred it at the beginning of the twelfth century into the Smolensk cathedral church in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. From that time, the icon was known as the Smolensk Hodēgḗtria.
In the year 1238, at the bespeaking of the icon, the self-sacrificing Orthodox warrior Mercurius went by night into the camp of Batu and killed many of the enemy, in whose number was their most powerful warrior. Having accepted a martyr’s death in battle, he was included by the Church in the ranks of the Saints (November 24).
In the fourteenth century, Smolensk came into the possession of the Lithuanian princes. The daughter of prince Vitovt, Sophia, was given in marriage to the Moscow Great Prince Basil Dimitrievich (1398-1425). In 1398, she brought the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God with her to Moscow. They set the holy image in the Annunciation cathedral of the Kremlin, on the right side of the Royal Doors.
In 1456, at the request of the inhabitants of Smolensk with Bishop Misael at the head, the icon was solemnly returned to Smolensk in a church procession, and at Moscow there remained two copies. One was put in the Annunciation cathedral, and the other, “a measure for measure,” was put in the Novodevichi monastery, founded in memory of the return of Smolensk to Russia. The monastery was built on Devichi Pole (Virgin’s Field), where “with many tears” the Muscovites handed over the holy icon to Smolensk. In 1602 an exact copy was painted from the wonderworking icon (in 1666 together with the ancient icon they brought a new copy to Moscow for restoration), which they placed in the tower of the Smolensk fortress wall over the Dneprovsk Gates, under a specially constructed cover. Afterwards, in 1727, a wooden church was built there, and in 1802, a stone church.
The new copy took on the power of the old image, and when the Russian armies left Smolensk on August 5, 1812, they took the icon with them for defense from the enemy forces. On the eve of the Battle of Borodino they carried this icon through the camp, to encourage and inspire the soldiers to great deeds. The ancient image of the Smolensk Hodēgḗtria, taken to the Dormition cathedral on the day of the Battle of Borodino went in procession with the Ivḗron and Vladimir Icons of the Mother of God through the Belo and Kitai quarters and the Kremlin walls, and then they sent it to the sick and wounded at the Lefortovo palace. After leaving Moscow, the icon was taken to Yaroslavl.
Thus were these sister-icons preserved, and the Mother of God defended Russia through Her icons. After the victory over the enemy forces the Hodēgḗtria Icon was returned to Smolensk together with its glorified copy.
The celebration in honor of this wonderworking icon on July 28 was established in the year 1525 in memory of the return of Smolensk to Russia.
There exist many venerated copies of the Smolensk Hodēgḗtria, for which the celebration is set on this day. There is also a day of celebration for the Smolensk Icon (November 5), glorified in the nineteenth century when this image was returned to Smolensk on the orders of the commander-in-chief of the Russian army M. I. Kutuzov. In memory of the expulsion of the enemy from Russia, it was decided to celebrate this day annually at Smolensk.
The holy icon of the Hodēgḗtria Mother of God is one of the chief holy objects of the Russian Church. Believers have received and do receive from it an abundant help of grace. The Mother of God through Her holy icon intercedes for and strengthens us, guiding us on the way to salvation, and we call out to Her, “Thou art the All-Blessed Hodēgḗtria for faithful peoples, Thou art the affirmation, the Praiseworthy of Smolensk and all the Russian land. Rejoice, Hodēgḗtria, salvation of Christians!”
Martyr Acacius of Apamea
The Holy Martyr Acacius was brought to trial for his belief in Christ. Three governors attempted to compel the holy martyr to offer sacrifice to idols, having subjected him to fierce tortures. Governor Licinius gave orders to rend the body of Saint Acacius with instruments of torture. He then sent him to Governor Terence, who gave orders to throw Acacius into a cauldron filled with boiling tar and tallow, but the martyr remained unharmed. Terence went to the cities of Apamea and Apollonia and gave orders to bring the martyr after him. In one of these cities Saint Acacius was led into a pagan temple, but by his prayer all the idols there fell down.
They beat the saint viciously and gave him over to be eaten by wild beasts. When they saw that he remained unharmed, they threw him into a red-hot furnace. The martyr also remained unharmed there. The governor, wanting to check whether the furnace was sufficiently hot, went near it and was burned himself. They then took the holy Martyr Acacius for torture to a certain Posidonius, who put heavy fetters on the holy martyr and gave orders to take him to the city of Miletus. There also the saint, by his prayer, destroyed idols. Finally, the exhausted torturers beheaded Saint Acacius. A priest by the name of Leontius buried his body in the city of Synados (Asia Minor).
No information available at this time.
Saint Irene Chrysovolantou
Saint Irene was the daughter of a wealthy family from Cappadocia, and was born in the ninth century.
After the death of her husband Theophilus, the empress Theodora ruled the Byzantine Empire as regent for her young son Michael. Saint Theodora (February 11) helped to defeat the iconoclast heresy, and to restore the holy icons. We commemorate this Triumph of Orthodoxy on the first Sunday of Great Lent.
When Michael was twelve years of age, Saint Theodora sent messengers throughout the Empire to find a suitably virtuous and refined girl to be his wife. Saint Irene was chosen, and she agreed to the marriage. While passing Mt. Olympus in Asia Minor, Irene asked to stop so she could receive the blessing of Saint Joannicius (November 4), who lived on the mountain. The saint, who showed himself only to the most worthy pilgrims, foresaw the arrival of Saint Irene, and also her future life.
The holy ascetic welcomed her and told her to proceed to Constantinople, where the women’s monastery of Chrysovalantou had need of her. Amazed at his clairvoyance, Irene fell to the ground and asked Saint Joannicius for his blessing. After blessing her and giving her spiritual counsel, he sent her on her way.
When the party arrived in Constantinople, Irene’s relatives met her with great ceremony. Since “the steps of a man are rightly ordered by the Lord” (Ps. 36/37:23), God arranged for Michael to marry another girl a few days before, so that Irene might be free to become a bride of Christ. Far from being disappointed, Irene rejoiced at this turn of events.
Remembering the words of Saint Joannicius, Irene visited the Monastery of Chrysovalantou. She was so impressed by the nuns and their way of life that she freed her slaves and distributed her wealth to the poor. She exchanged her fine clothing for the simple garb of a nun, and served the sisters with great humility and obedience. The abbess was impressed with the way that Irene performed the most menial and disagreeable tasks without complaint.
Saint Irene often read the Lives of the Saints in her cell, imitating their virtues to the best of her ability. She often stood in prayer all night with her hands raised like Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 17:11-13). Saint Irene spent the next few years in spiritual struggles defeating the assaults of the demons, and bringing forth the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
When the abbess sensed the approach of death, she told the other nuns that they should not accept anyone but Irene as the new abbess. Irene was not told of the abbess’s instructions, and when she died the community sent representatives to go and seek the advice of the patriarch, Saint Methodius (June 14). He asked them whom they wanted as their superior. They replied that they believed he would be guided by the Holy Spirit. Without knowing of the late abbess’s instructions to the nuns, he asked if there was a humble nun by the name of Irene in their monastery. If so, he said, they should choose her. The nuns rejoiced and gave thanks to God. Saint Methodius elevated Irene to the rank of abbess and advised her how to guide those in her charge.
Returning to the monastery, Irene prayed that God would help her to care for those under her, and redoubled her own spiritual efforts. She displayed great wisdom in leading the nuns, and received many revelations from God to assist her in carrying out her duties. She also asked for the gift of clairvoyance so that she would know what trials awaited her nuns. Thus, she was in a better position to give them the proper advice. She never used this knowledge to embarrass others, but only to correct their confessions in a way which let them know that she possessed certain spiritual gifts.
Although Saint Irene performed many miracles during her life, let us mention only one. On great Feasts it was her habit to keep vigil in the monastery courtyard under the starry skies. Once, a nun who was unable to sleep left her cell and went into the courtyard. There she saw Abbess Irene levitating a few feet above the ground, completely absorbed in prayer. The astonished nun also noticed that two cypress trees had bowed their heads to the ground, as if in homage. When she finished praying, Irene blessed the trees and they returned to their upright position.
Afraid that this might be a temptation from the demons, the nun returned the next night to see if she had been mistaken. Again she saw Irene levitating as she prayed, and the cypress trees bowing down. The nun tied handkerchiefs to the tops of the two trees before they went back to their places. When the other sisters saw the handkerchiefs atop the trees, they began to wonder who had put them there. Then the nun who had witnessed these strange events revealed to the others what she had seen. When Saint Irene learned that the nun had witnessed the miracle and told the others, she was very upset. She warned them not to speak of it to anyone until after her death.
Saint Irene observed the Feast of Saint Basil (January 1) with great devotion, since he also came from Cappadocia. One year, after celebrating the feast, Saint Irene heard a voice during the night telling her to welcome the sailor who would come to the door the next day. She was told to rejoice and eat the fruit which the sailor would bring her. During Matins, a sailor did come to the door and remained in church until after Liturgy. He told her that he had come from Patmos, where he boarded a ship. As the ship set sail, he noticed an old man on the shore calling for them to stop. In spite of a good wind, the ship came to a sudden halt. Then the old man walked across the water and entered the ship. He gave the sailor three apples which God was sending to the patriarch “from His beloved disciple John.” Then the old man gave the sailor three more apples for the abbess of Chrysovalantou. He told the sailor that if Irene ate the apples, all that her soul desired would be granted, “for this gift comes from John in Paradise.”
Saint Irene fasted for a week, giving thanks to God for this wonderful gift. For forty days, she ate small pieces of the first apple every day. During this time she had nothing else to eat or drink. On Holy Thursday, she told the nuns to receive the Holy Mysteries, then gave each one a piece of the second apple. They noticed an unusual sweetness, and felt as if their very souls were being nourished.
An angel informed Saint Irene that she would be called to the Lord on the day after Saint Panteleimon’s feast. The monastery’s feast day fell on July 26, so Saint Irene prepared by fasting for a week beforehand. She took only a little water and small pieces of the third apple sent to her by Saint John. The whole monastery was filled with a heavenly fragrance, and all discord disappeared.
On July 28, Saint Irene called the nuns together in order to bid them farewell. She also told them to select Sister Mary as her successor, for she would keep them on the narrow way which leads to life (Matthew 7:14). After entreating God to protect her flock from the power of the devil, she smiled when she saw the angels who had been sent to receive her soul. Then she closed her eyes and surrendered her soul to God.
Saint Irene was more than 101 years old when she died, yet her face appeared young and beautiful. A great crowd of people came for her funeral, and many miracles took place at her tomb.
In some parishes it is customary to bless apples on the feast of Saint Irene Chrysovalantou.
Icon of the Mother of God of Greben
The Greben Icon of the Mother of God, glorified by miracles and located in a church in the city of Greben (on the River Chira, flowing into the Don), was presented by the inhabitants of the city to Great Prince Demetrius of the Don upon his return from the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380.
In 1471, after a successful campaign against Novgorod, Great Prince Ivan III built the church of the Dormition in Moscow at Lubyanka and placed in it the Greben icon of the Mother of God, which he had taken with him on the campaign. He adorned the icon with a silver riza covered with precious stones, and ordered an Akathist to be written in honor of the icon. When the church burned in 1617, the icon miraculously was preserved. The icon, almost a reverse image of the Ivḗron icon (February 12, March 31, October 13), is recognized by the distinctive folds of the Virgin’s omaphorion and the position of the Christ Child’s legs.
Icon of the Mother of God “of Tenderness” from Seraphim-Diveyevo
The Seraphim-Diveyevo “Tenderness” Icon of the Mother of God belonged to Saint Seraphim of Sarov, and was the icon he kept in his cell. The saint anointed the sick with oil from the lampada burning before this icon, and they received healing . The holy ascetic reposed while praying before the icon on January 2, 1833. Father Niphon, the Superior of the monastery, gave the holy “Tenderness” icon to the sisters of the Seraphim-Diveyevo monastery.
Icon of the Mother of God of White Lake
The White Lake Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos resembles the Vladimir Icon (May 21, June 23, August 26) in appearance. It was originally in the cell of Saint Cyril of White Lake (June 9), who often prayed before it.
One day, while he was chanting the Akathist before this icon, the Mother of God appeared to Saint Cyril and told him to establish a monastery on White Lake.
The Archangels Michael and Gabriel are seen on either side of the Virgin’s head, and various saints are depicted around the border of the icon.
The White Lake Icon is also commemorated on June 8.
Icon of the Mother of God of Kostroma
The Kostroma Hodēgḗtria Icon of the Mother of God was painted in 1672 on the wall of the southwest tower of the Kostroma Theophany monastery. In 1779 a great conflagration occurred at the monastery, and the tower was all enveloped by flames, but the holy Icon of the Mother of God did not suffer from the fire. In the year 1824 a church was built at the tower.
Icon of the Mother of God of Ustiuzhena
The Ustiuzhena Icon of the Mother of God (1290), glorified by many miracles, was situated in the city of Ustiuzhna under Novgorod governance (now Vologda district). At the beginning of the seventeenth century the inhabitants of Ustiushna, praying for salvation before this holy icon, were delivered from an invasion of the Swedes and Polish by the intercession of the Queen of Heaven.
Icon of the Mother of God of Voroninsk
The Holy Icon of the Voroninsk Mother of God was situated in the Voroninsk Dormition of the Mother of God hermitage in the Cherepovetsk district of Novgorod governance. Its appearance occurred in 1524.
Icon of the Mother of God of “Saint Christopher”
In 1555, the Icon of the Mother of God “Of Saint Christopher” was put in the church of the monastery founded by Saint Christopher of Solvychegodsk (July 25), a disciple of Saint Longinus of Koryazkemsk (February 10). This icon was glorified by many miracles, and near the monastery a spring of healing water flows from the earth.
The Saint Christopher Icon is one of the Hodēgḗtria type.
Icon of the Mother of God of Suprasl
The Holy Suprasl Icon of the Mother of God was in the Annunciation women’s monastery of Grodnensk governance at the beginning of the sixteenth century. It was glorified by many miracles and both Orthodox and Catholics piously reverence it.
The icon is one of the Hodēgḗtria type.
Icon of the Mother of God of Vydropussk
The Vydropussk Hodēgḗtria Icon of the Mother of God in the fifteenth century was in the church of the Great Martyr George in the village of Vydropussk, Novgorod governia. During the time of a conflagration of the church, this holy icon remained undamaged. After the taking of Novgorod by the Moscow Great Prince Ivan III, his army returned to Moscow. One of the soldiers, a Murom native, having gone into the church took from it the icon of the Mother of God, and going to his own estate put it in a church of Saint Nicholas.
When they served the first service of thanksgiving before the stolen holy icon, after the reading of the words of the Gospel: “…and returned to Her own house” (Luke. 1:56) suddenly a whirlwind flew, the canopy of the temple opened, the Icon of the Mother of God was raised up in the air and miraculously transported to the church of the village of Vydropussk.
The guilty thief of the holy icon repented and came on foot to Vydropussk, beseeching the Mother of God to forgive him. In the sixteenth century this holy icon was taken to Moscow, and from it an exact copy was made for the church of the village of Vydropussk, and the original was put in the temple of the Transfiguration in the city of Torzhek.
Icon of the Mother of God of Yuga
The Wonderworking Yuga Icon of the Mother of God appeared at the beginning of the seventeenth century to the Elder Saint Dorotheus, schemamonk of the Pskov Caves monastery. The Mother of God, during an invasion of the Swedes, commanded him to take Her image to a place She specified, and to bring the icon to Yaroslav diocese and to start a monastery there .
The igumen of the monastery would not agree to give up the Icon of the Mother of God, but She appeared to him in a vision commanding him to fulfill Her will and let Elder Dorotheus take Her icon. Elder Dorotheus came to the place specified in the vision, stopped to rest, and put the holy icon upon a tree.
When he wanted to continue the journey, then some invisible power prevented him from taking the holy icon from the tree. Saint Dorotheus realized that the Queen of Heaven wanted to remain in this place. He then built a small hut and stayed near the holy icon. News of the Elder’s arrival quickly spread through the surrounding villages. Pilgrims came to venerate the holy icon, from which many healings took place. Money was collected by the pious local inhabitants, and construction of a new monastery began.
Saint Dorotheus died in the year 1622. Clergy presented accounts of miracles to Patriarch Philaret. They received his blessing to establish a monastery at the River Yuga with church dedicated to the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. The monastery became known as the Yuga. In 1654, by the intercession of the Mother of God, a deadly pestilence was halted in that place.
Icon of the Mother of God of Igritsa
The Holy Igritsa Icon of the Mother of God appeared in the year 1624 in Igritsa at the River Pesochna not far from the city of Kostroma. Local peasants found the icon in an old half-ruined church, for fifty years it was left neglected after a deadly plague. The icon stood in the altar and shone with bright hues, as though newly painted.
After the first service of thanksgiving served in front of this holy icon, a boyar’s (nobleman’s) blind son Emilian gained his sight. Then four devout Christians stayed to live around the desolate church and took monastic vows. At the place of the appearance of the icon of the Mother of God there afterwards was built a new church and a monastic community emerged.
Icon of the Mother of God of Shui
The Holy Hodēgḗtria Icon of the Mother of God, named the Shui, appeared in the city of Shui of Vladimir diocese at the very height of a raging deadly epidemic in the years 1654-1655. The inhabitants of the city combatted this misfortune by prayer, and gathered together in the churches, beseeching mercy of the Lord. A certain pious parishioner of the Resurrection church discussed with his compatriots to gather together the means and to commission a copy of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God and place it in the temple, which was done.
The icon was painted in seven days, during which time the inhabitants of Shui fasted and made fervent prayer to the Mother of God. Having communed the Holy Mysteries, they with a priest at the head carried the newly painted icon into the church. And from that time the deadly pestilence ceased. In 1831 by the intercession of the Mother of God a cholera epidemic at Shui ceased. From this holy icon the lad James received healing from demonic possession, and also many of the sick.
“Seven Lakes” Icon of the Mother of God
The Seven Lakes (Sedmiezernaya) Icon of the Mother of God was glorified by great miracles in the seventeenth century in the area around the city of Kazan. This holy icon was in the Seven Lakes hermitage near the city of Kazan. Originally, seven small lakes surrounded the monastery, but these later merged into one large body of water.
The wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God was brought from Great Ustiug near Kazan on October 13, 1615 by the monk Euthymius, founder of the Seven Lakes monastery. He placed this icon in the temple of the newly established monastery.
In the middle of the seventeenth century, a deadly plague raged throughout all Russia, and reached Kazan. There 48,000 men died within a short time, almost all the inhabitants of the city.
A certain pious monk had a vision in a dream: a radiant man apeared to him and commanded that the inhabitants of the city should establish a seven-day fast and go out to meet the icon of the Mother of God which was coming to them from the Seven Lakes hermitage for their deliverance.
The monk told the authorities about the vision. The Seven Lakes Icon was brought through the city gates in procession. After circling the entire stone city, it was placed in the church of the Annunciation. After an All Night Vigil and Liturgy the next morning, the icon was carried to visit homes in the wooden city. After seven days of prayer and processions, the deadly pestilence began to abate.
When the monks asked to have their icon returned, it was decided to celebrate an All Night Vigil, then to carry the icon in procession back to the hermitage. A heavy snow storm came up, however, which prevented them from leaving the church. This was repeated three times, so it was decided to let the holy icon remain in Kazan for a time. It was returned to the Seven Lakes monastery in 1655.
Today’s Feast commemorates a second deliverance of Kazan from pestilence in 1771. Orthodox inhabitants of Kazan and the surrounding area deeply revere this holy icon, and receive healing from sickness and help in misfortune from the Mother of God.
The Seven Lakes Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is also commemorated on October 13 and June 26.
Icon of the Mother of God of the Trinity-Saint Sergius Lavra
The Holy Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God is located at the Holy Trinity Sergiev Lavra in the Smolensk church on the left side of the Royal Doors. From this icon in 1730 there a cantor, whose hands were bent and rigid to the back, received healing. The Mother of God appeared to him in a vision and healed him. This occurrence was attested to by physicians.
Venerable George the Builder
The venerable George the Builder was the third abbot of the Ivḗron Monastery on Mt. Athos. According to some sources, he was a nephew of Saint John, the founder and first abbot of the Ivḗron Monastery.
George was elevated to the rank of abbot after Saint Ekvtime left the monastery to travel to Jerusalem. Under his leadership, the main church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos was constructed. An inscription on the wall of the church reads: “I established these columns and they will not be shaken unto the ages. Monk George the Georgian, Builder.”
For most of his life Abbot George was highly respected and even revered in the imperial court of Byzantium, but he was eventually slandered, accused of treason, and exiled to the island of Monovatia, where he reposed in the year 1029.
The exile of Abbot George proved fatal for the Ivḗron Monastery: his persecutors followed that act by stealing and desecrating all the treasures of the monastery, which had been purchased by the blood and sweat of the holy fathers. (The rightful property of the Ivḗron Monastery was later recovered during the reign of the pious Emperor Michael.)
The Georgian monks translated Saint George’s incorrupt relics from the island of Monovatia to Athos and buried them there in a marble tomb.
Panteleimon the Great Martyr & Healer, Nicholas of Novgorod the fool-for-Christ, Anthousa the Righteous Confessor, 853 Martyrs of Thrace who were drowned, Manuel the Righteous
ST. PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO TIMOTHY 2:1-10
Timothy, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hardworking farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything.
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal. But the word of God is not fettered. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory.
JOHN 15:17-27; 16:1-2
The Lord said to his disciples: "This I command you, to love one another. If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It is to fulfill the word that is written in their law, 'They hated me without a cause.' But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning. I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.
Greatmartyr and Healer Panteleimon
The Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon was born in the city of Nicomedia into the family of the illustrious pagan Eustorgius, and he was named Pantoleon. His mother Saint Euboula (March 30) was a Christian. She wanted to raise her son in the Christian Faith, but she died when the future martyr was just a young child. His father sent Pantoleon to a pagan school, after which the young man studied medicine at Nicomedia under the renowned physician Euphrosynus. Pantoleon came to the attention of the emperor Maximian (284-305), who wished to appoint him as royal physician when he finished his schooling.
The hieromartyrs Hermolaus, Hermippus and Hermocrates, survivors of the massacre of 20,000 Christians in 303 (December 28), were living secretly in Nicomedia at that time. Saint Hermolaus saw Pantoleon time and again when he came to the house where they were hiding. Once, the priest invited the youth to the house and spoke about the Christian Faith. After this Pantoleon visited Saint Hermolaus every day.
One day the saint found a dead child on the street. He had been bitten by a great snake, which was still beside the child’s body. Pantoleon began to pray to the Lord Jesus Christ to revive the dead child and to destroy the venomous reptile. He firmly resolved that if his prayer were fulfilled, he would become a follower of Christ and receive Baptism. The child rose up alive, and the snake died before Pantoleon’s eyes.
After this miracle, Pantoleon was baptized by Saint Hermolaus with the name Panteleimon (meaning “all-merciful”). Speaking with Eustorgius, Saint Panteleimon prepared him to accept Christianity. When the father saw how his son healed a blind man by invoking Jesus Christ, he then believed in Christ and was baptized by Saint Hermolaus together with the man whose sight was restored.
After the death of his father, Saint Panteleimon dedicated his life to the suffering, the sick, the unfortunate and the needy. He treated all those who turned to him without charge, healing them in the name of Jesus Christ. He visited those held captive in prison. These were usually Christians, and he healed them of their wounds. In a short time, reports of the charitable physician spread throughout the city. Forsaking the other doctors, the inhabitants began to turn only to Saint Panteleimon.
The envious doctors told the emperor that Saint Panteleimon was healing Christian prisoners. Maximian urged the saint to refute the charge by offering sacrifice to idols. Saint Panteleimon confessed himself a Christian, and suggested that a sick person, for whom the doctors held out no hope, should be brought before the emperor. Then the doctors could invoke their gods, and Panteleimon would pray to his God to heal the man. A man paralyzed for many years was brought in, and pagan priests who knew the art of medicine invoked their gods without success. Then, before the very eyes of the emperor, the saint healed the paralytic by calling on the name of Jesus Christ. The ferocious Maximian executed the healed man, and gave Saint Panteleimon over to fierce torture.
The Lord appeared to the saint and strengthened him before his sufferings. They suspended the Great Martyr Panteleimon from a tree and scraped him with iron hooks, burned him with fire and then stretched him on the rack, threw him into a cauldron of boiling tar, and cast him into the sea with a stone around his neck. Throughout these tortures the martyr remained unhurt, and denounced the emperor.
At this time the priests Hermolaus, Hermippus and Hermocrates were brought before the court of the pagans. All three confessed their faith in the Savior and were beheaded (July 26).
By order of the emperor they brought the Great Martyr Panteleimon to the circus to be devoured by wild beasts. The animals, however, came up to him and licked his feet. The spectators began to shout, “Great is the God of the Christians!” The enraged Maximian ordered the soldiers to stab with the sword anyone who glorified Christ, and to cut off the head of the Great Martyr Panteleimon.
They led the saint to the place of execution and tied him to an olive tree. While the martyr prayed, one of the soldiers struck him with a sword, but the sword became soft like wax and inflicted no wound. The saint completed his prayer, and a Voice was heard from Heaven, calling the passion-bearer by his new name and summoning him to the heavenly Kingdom.
Hearing the Voice, the soldiers fell down on their knees before the holy martyr and begged forgiveness. They refused to continue with the execution, but Saint Panteleimon told them to fulfill the emperor’s command, because otherwise they would have no share with him in the future life. The soldiers tearfully took their leave of the saint with a kiss.
When the saint was beheaded, the olive tree to which the saint was tied became covered with fruit. Many who were present at the execution believed in Christ. The saint’s body was thrown into a fire, but remained unharmed, and was buried by Christians. Saint Panteleimon’s servants Laurence, Bassos and Probus witnessed his execution and heard the Voice from Heaven. They recorded the life, the sufferings and death of the saint.
Portions of the holy relics of the Great Martyr Panteleimon were distributed throughout all the Christian world. His venerable head is now located at the Russian monastery of Saint Panteleimon on Mt. Athos.
The veneration of the holy martyr in the Russian Orthodox Church was already known in the twelfth century. Prince Izyaslav (in Baptism, Panteleimon), the son of Saint Mstislav the Great, had an image of Saint Panteleimon on his helmet. Through the intercession of the saint he remained alive during a battle in the year 1151. On the Feast of the Great Martyr Panteleimon, Russian forces won two naval victories over the Swedes (in 1714 near Hanhauze and in 1720 near Grenham).
Saint Panteleimon is venerated in the Orthodox Church as a mighty saint, and the protector of soldiers. This aspect of his veneration is derived from his first name Pantoleon, which means “a lion in everything”. His second name, Panteleimon, given him at Baptism, which means “all-merciful”, is manifest in the veneration of the martyr as a healer. The connection between these two aspects of the saint is readily apparent in that soldiers, receiving wounds more frequently than others, are more in need of a physician-healer. Christians waging spiritual warfare also have recourse to this saint, asking him to heal their spiritual wounds.
The holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon is invoked in the Mystery of Anointing the Sick, at the Blessing of Water, and in the Prayers for the Sick.
Blessed Nicholas Kochanov the Fool-For-Christ at Novgorod
Blessed Nicholas Kochanov, Novgorod Fool-for-Christ (+ 1392), was born at Novgorod into a rich and illustrious family. From his youthful years he loved piety, he went to church faithfully, and he loved fasting and prayer. Seeing his virtuous life, people began to praise him. Blessed Nicholas, disdaining glory from men, began the difficult exploit of folly for the Lord’s sake. He ran about the city in the bitter cold dressed in rags, enduring beatings, insults and mockery. Blessed Nicholas and another Novgorod fool, Blessed Theodore (January 19), pretended to be irreconcilable foes, and graphically demonstrated to the people of Novgorod the pernicious character of their internecine strife.
Once, having overcome his sham opponent, Blessed Nicholas went along the Volkhov as if on dry land, and threw a head of cabbage at Blessed Theodore, therefore he was called “Kochanov” (i.e. “cabbage-head”). The Lord glorified Blessed Nicholas with the gift of miracles and clairvoyance.
Once, after being turned away by servants from a feast to which he had been invited, he left. Immediately, the wine disappeared from the barrel. Only upon the return of the fool, and through his prayer, did it reappear again. When he died, Blessed Nicholas was buried at the end of the cemetery by the Yakovlev cathedral.
The relics of Blessed Nicholas rest under a crypt in the church of the Great Martyr Panteleimon which was built over his grave.
Venerable Anthusa, Abbess of Mantinea in Asia Minor, and her 90 sisters
Saint Anthusa the Confessor lived at Mantinea, Paphlygonia in Asia Minor during the eighth century. Leaving the world at a young age, Saint Anthusa lived in asceticism in the mountains in complete solitude. She received monastic tonsure from the hieromonk Sisinius, and became abbess of a monastery of ninety nuns. The nuns were known for their obedience to their abbess and for their spiritual discipline.
Saint Anthusa and her nuns suffered during the reign of the emperor Constantine Copronymos, who demanded that they renounce the veneration of holy icons. Saint Anthusa and her nuns were subjected to torture, since they disobeyed the emperor’s order.
Among those who witnessed the torture was the emperor’s wife, for whom the saint predicted the birth of a son and daughter. When Saint Anthusa’s prediction was fulfilled, she was allowed to return to her convent, where she died in great old age. The daughter born to the emperor’s wife was named Anthusa (April 12).
Having lived a life pleasing to God, she reposed in 759 and now lives with Him forever. She was buried in her cell.
Saint Clement of Ochrid, Equal of the Apostles, Bishop of Greater Macedonia, and his companions Nahum, Savva, Gorazd and Angelar
Saints Clement, Bishop of Ochrid, Equal of the Apostles, Nahum, Savva, Gorazd and Angelar1 were Slavs, disciples of Saints Cyril and Methodios (May 11). At first they lived as ascetics in Moravia, where Saint Gorazd succeeded Saint Methodios as bishop. He was fluent in Slavonic, Greek and Latin. Saints Clement, Nahum, Angelar and Savva were priests.
The Enlighteners of the Slavs were opposed by German missionaries, who had the support of the Pope and the patronage of the Moravian Prince Svyatopolk. The struggle centered around the questions of the need for Divine Services in Slavonic, the Filioque, and Saturday fasting. Pope Stephen VI prohibited the use of Slavonic in church.
The proponents of the three-tongued heresy (who wanted to use only Hebrew, Greek, or Latin for Church Services), after setting aside the ancestral language of the Slavic peoples, brought the disciples of Saint Methodios to trial, including Saint Clement. They subjected them to fierce torture: dragging them through thorns, and holding them in prison for a long time, just as they had done with their Spiritual Father, Saint Methodios.
In 886, some of the prisoners were sold to slave-traders, and ended up in the Venice marketplace. The ambassador of the Byzantine Emperor Basil the Macedonian went to Venice, ransomed the Saints and took them to Constantinople. The older confessors were banished. It is not known where Saint Gorazd went, nor where Saint Savva found shelter. Saints Nahum and Angelar went to Bulgaria.
In 907 Moravia collapsed under the onslaught of the Magyars, and Moravian refugees by the same routes followed earlier by the Saints they had exiled.
The Bulgarians received the Slavonic confessors with respect and requested them to conduct Divine Services in the Slavonic language. The Bulgarian Prince Boris sought people such as the disciples of Saint Methodios, who labored for the enlightenment of his nation. Right away, the Saint began to study Slavonic books collected by the Bulgarian nobles.
Saint Angelar soon reposed, and Saint Clement was appointed to teach at Kutmichivitsa, in southwest Macedonia. In the Eastern Church, a teacher had to be a worthy person, someone known for his devout life, and who was able to speak well in public. Saint Clement was a teacher while he was still in Moravia. In Bulgaria, he worked as an instructor until 893. He organized a school at the princely court, which was highly regarded by the time of Simeon's reign. In southwest Macedonia he created separate schools for adults and children.
Saint Clement instructed the children in reading and in writing. The total number of his students was enormous. Those chosen and accepted for ordination amounted to 3500 men. In the year 893, Saint Clement became Bishop of Dremvitsa, or Velitsa, and Saint Nahum took his place.
Saint Clement was the first Bulgarian hierarch to serve, preach and write in the Slavonic language. To this end he systematically trained clergy from among the Slavic people. The holy bishop labored for the glory of God into his old age. When his strength failed, and he was unable to fulfill his responsibilities in the cathedral, he asked Tsar Simeon to let him retire.
The Tsar urged the Saint not to abandon his cathedral, and Saint Clement agreed to continue his episcopal service. After this he went to Okhrid, to a monastery he founded. There he continued his work of translation, including some important portions of the Pentecostarion.
Saint Clement became seriously ill and departed to the Lord in the year 916. His body was placed in a coffin, which he had made with his own hands, and was buried at Okhrid's Saint Panteleimon Monastery.
Saint Clement is considered the first Slavonic author. Not only did he continue the translation work begun by Saints Cyril and Methodios, he also left behind works of his own composition, the first samples of Slavonic spiritual literature.
Many of the lessons and sermons of Saint Clement were brought to Russia, where they were read and lovingly copied by devout Russian Christians.
The relics of Saints Gorazd and Angelar rest near Berat in Albania, and Saint Nahum’s relics are in the monastery which bears his name, near Lake Okhrid.
Saint Clement is also commemorated on November 22 (Greek usage), and on November 25 (his Name Day).
1 His name may come from the Greek word αναγορεύω (to proclaim).
Paraskeve the Righteous Martyr of Rome, The Holy Hieromartyrs Hermolaus, Hermippus, and Hermocrates, Prisca the Righteous Martyr, Moses the Hungarian, Jacob Netsvetov the Enlightener of Alaska
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS 3:23-29; 4:1-5
Brethren, before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no better than a slave, though he is the owner of all the estate; but he is under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. So with us; when we were children, we were slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe. But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
At that time, a great crowd followed Jesus and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.” And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?'” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
Repose of Saint Jacob Netsvetov, Enlightener of the Peoples of Alaska
Father Jacob (Netsvetov) of Alaska was born of pious parents in 1802 on Atka Island, Alaska. His father, Yegor Vasil’evich Netsvetov was a Russian from Tobolsk. His mother, Maria Alekseevna, was an Aleut from Atka island. Yegor and Maria had four children who survived infancy; Jacob was the first born, followed by Osip (Joseph), Elena, and Antony. Yegor and Maria were devoted to their children and, though of meager means, did all they could to provide them with the education which would help them in this life as well as in the life to come. Osip and Antony were eventually able to study at the Saint Petersburg Naval Academy in Russia, becoming a naval officer and a shipbuilder, respectively. Their sister, Elena, married a successful and respected clerk for the Russian-American Company. But Jacob yearned for a different kind of success, a success that the world might consider failure for “the righteous live forever, their reward is with the Lord” (Wis. Sol. 5:15). And so, when the family moved to Irkutsk in 1823, Jacob enrolled in the Irkutsk Theological Seminary and placed all his hope in Christ by seeking first the Kingdom of God (Mt. 6:33).
Jacob was tonsured as a Subdeacon on October 1, 1825. He married a Russian woman (perhaps also a Creole) named Anna Simeonovna, and in 1826 graduated from the Seminary with certificates in history and theology. On October 31, 1826, he was ordained to the Holy Diaconate and assigned to serve the altar of the Holy Trinity-Saint Peter Church in Irkutsk. Two years later, on March 4, 1828, Archbishop Michael, who had earlier ordained Father John Veniaminov (Saint Innocent), elevated the godly deacon Jacob to the Holy Priesthood. This, however, was no ordinary ordination. As if he were a new Patrick, hearing the mystical call of his distant flock, Father Jacob yearned to return to his native Alaska. And the all-good God, who “satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Ps.107:9) heard the prayer of his servant.
Archbishop Michael provided Father Jacob with two antimensia: one for the new Church which would be dedicated to the glory of God in honor of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker in Atka, and one to be used for missionary activity. On May 1, 1828 a molieben for travelers was served, and Father Jacob, his father, Yegor, (now tonsured as reader for the Atka Church), and his matushka, Anna, set out for Alaska.
Who can tell of the perils and trials associated with such a journey? Travel in those days was never easy, either overland or over the waves of the sea. Nevertheless, aided by prayer and confidence in God’s providence, the Netsvetov family arrived safely in Atka over a year later, on June 15, 1829. The new assignment for the newly-ordained Father Jacob would also prove to be quite a challenge. The Atka “parish” comprised a territory stretching for nearly 2,000 miles and included Amchitka, Attu, Copper, Bering and Kurile Islands. But this did not deter the godly young priest, for when he was clothed in the garments of the Priesthood, he was found to be “clad with zeal as a cloak’ (Is. 59:17), and so he threw himself wholly into his sacred ministry. His deep love for God and for his flock was evident in everything that he did. Both in Atka and in the distant villages and settlements which he visited, Father Jacob offered himself as a “living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1). Having “no worry about his life” (Mt. 6:25 ff), the holy one endured manifold tortures of cold, wet, wind, illness, hunger and exhaustion, for to him life was Christ (Phil 1:21). Showing himself as a “rule of faith,” his example brought his people to a deep commitment to their own salvation. Being fully bilingual and bicultural, Father Jacob was uniquely blessed by God to care for the souls of his fellow Alaskans.
When he arrived in Atka, the Church of Saint Nicholas had not yet been built. So, with his own hands Father Jacob constructed a large tent (Acts 18:3) in which he conducted the services. For Father Jacob the services of the Church were life: life for his people and life for himself. It was in the worship of God that he found both strength and joy. Later he would transport this tent with him on his missionary journeys, and like Moses in the wilderness, the grace of God was found wherever this tent was taken (Num 4:1 ff; 10:17 ff).
When his first six months had ended (end of 1829), Father Jacob recorded that he had baptized 16, chrismated 442, married 53 couples, and buried 8.
Once the church was constructed, Father Jacob turned his attention to the building of a school in which the children would learn to read and write both Russian and Unangan Aleut. The Russian American Company provided some of the support initially, with the students providing the remainder. This continued until 1841, when it was reorganized as a parish school and ties with the company ceased. Father Jacob proved to be a talented educator and translator whose students became distinguished Aleut leaders in the next generation.
Father Netsvetov led an active physical and intellectual life, hunting and gathering for his own subsistence needs, preparing specimens of fish and marine animals for the natural history museums of Moscow and Saint Petersburg, corresponding with Saint Innocent (Veniaminov) on matters of linguistics and translations. He labored over the creation of an adequate alphabet for the Unangan-Aleut language, and the translation of the Holy Scriptures and other appropriate literature into that language. Saint Innocent praised the young pastor for his holiness of life, his teaching, and for continuing this work of translating which he, himself, had begun earlier among the native peoples. After fifteen years of service, Father Jacob was awarded the Nabedrennik, Kamilavka, and Gold Cross. Later, he would be made Archpriest and receive the Order of Saint Anna.
These ecclesiastical awards do not tell of the personal sufferings of this warrior for Christ. In March of 1836, his precious wife, Anna, died of cancer; his home burned to the ground in July of 1836; and his dear father, Yegor, died of an undetermined illness in 1837. Who can utter the depth of sorrow felt by this God-pleaser? Yet he lifted up his voice with that ancient sufferer and cried, “shall we indeed accept good from God and shall we not accept adversity? In all this he did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10). In his journal Father Jacob attributed all to “the Will of Him whose Providence and Will are inscrutable and whose actions toward men are incomprehensible.” He patiently endured hardships and sufferings like the Holy Apostle Paul. He saw in these misfortunes not a Victory by the hater of men’s souls (i.e. the devil) but a call from God to even greater spiritual struggles. With this in mind, Father Jacob petitioned his ruling bishop to return to Irkutsk in order to enter the monastic life. A year later, word reached him that permission was granted contingent upon the arrival of a replacement. None ever came.
Instead, Bishop Innocent soon came to Atka and asked Father Jacob to accompany him on a voyage by ship to Kamchatka. Who can know the heavenly discourse enjoyed by these two lovers of Christ as they traveled over the waves? This, however, is clear, the holy archpastor was able to accomplish three things in Father Netsvetov. Firstly, he applied the healing salve of the Spirit with words of comfort; secondly, he dissuaded Father Jacob from entering the monastery; and thirdly, he revealed to the godly priest the true plan of the Savior for his life, that he ‘might preach (Christ) among the Gentiles” (Gal. 1: 16) deep in the Alaskan interior. Father Jacob continued to serve his far-flung flock of the Atka parish until December 30, 1844. A new zeal had taken hold of him, and it was then that Saint Innocent appointed him to head the new Kvikhpak Mission in order to bring the light of Christ to the people of the Yukon. Here, aided by two young Creole assistants, Innokentii Shayashnikov and Konstantin Lukin, together with his young nephew, Vasilii Netsvetov, Father Jacob “settled’ in the wilderness of Alaska.
He learned new languages, embraced new peoples and cultures, devised another alphabet, built another church and Orthodox community, and for the next twenty years, until his health and eyesight failed, continued to be an evangelical beacon of the grace of God in southwestern Alaska.
Establishing his headquarters in the Yup’ik Eskimo village of Ikogmiute (today’s ‘Russian Mission’) he traveled to native settlements hundreds of miles up and down Alaska’s longest river (the Yukon) as well as the Kuskokwim River region. At the insistence of Indian leaders, he traveled as far as the middle of the Innoko River baptizing hundreds of Indians from various, and often formerly hostile, tribes. “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Ps 133:1). He built the first Christian temple in this region, and dedicated it to the feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross. Here Father Jacob, in spite of failing health, joyfully celebrated the Church’s cycle of services, including all of the services prescribed for Holy Week and Pascha.
Finally, in 1863, the evil One, who “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet 5:8), sought one last time to get the better of the righteous one. So the devil, the father of lies, (John 8:44), inspired an assistant of Father Jacob to level spurious and slanderous charges against his master. This resulted in a summons to Sitka, issued by Bishop Peter. The godly pastor was quickly cleared of all charges, but due to his ever-worsening health, he remained in Sitka for his final year serving a Tlingit chapel. He died on July 26, 1864 at the age of 60 and was buried on the third day at the entry of the chapel. During his final missionary travels in the Kuskokwim/Yukon delta region, he had baptized 1,320 people—distinguishing himself as the evangelizer of the Yup’ik Eskimo and Athabascan Indian peoples.
This brief history has recounted the basic chronology of the saint’s life and labors, but we must not neglect to relate his other deeds, that the light be not “hidden under a bushel” (Mt.5:15). In 184 1, Father Jacob encountered a group of women from his flock in Amlia who had fallen victim to certain demonic influences and teachings. Blaming himself for the seduction and fall of his spiritual children by the evil one, he informed the leader among them that he was going to pay them a visit.
Upon arriving, he found one of the women paralyzed, semi-conscious and unable to speak. He ordered that she be removed to another house apart, and on the next day when this was accomplished, he lit the lampada before the icons of the beautiful corner, vested himself in his priestly epitrachilion (stole), sprinkled holy water throughout the room, and began the first prayers of exorcism. He then left.
During the night he was notified that the woman had begun to speak but incoherently. He came immediately to her and performed a second exorcism. This time, she sprang out of her bed and stood next to the saint, joined her prayer to his, and accompanied them with prostrations. When the prayers were finished, Father Jacob again sprinkled her with holy water and gave her the precious cross to kiss. She regained full consciousness, a state of health and true reason—that is, even the false teachings of the evil spirits had no more part in her.
Once in November of 1845, Father Jacob was preaching in the village of Kalskag, where the local chief was also the head shaman. He spoke for all of the villagers and resisted the Word of God forcefully. But the saint, calm and full of the Holy Spirit, continued to sow the seeds of right belief and piety. After many hours, the chief fell silent and finally came to believe. The villagers, in solidarity with their leader, also joyously expressed their belief in the Triune God and sought Holy Baptism.
Father Jacob was a physician of bodies as well as souls. He often cared for the sick among his flock even to his own detriment. During the winter of 1850-1851 the saint was himself ravaged with illness. Yet he cared for the sick and dispensed medicine to them every day. Father Jacob’s preaching often brought together in the Holy Faith tribes who were traditional enemies. One example from his journal reads:
“Beginning in the morning, upon my invitation, all the Kol’chane and Ingalit from the Yukon and the local ones gathered at my place and I preached the word of God, concluding at noon. Everyone listened to the preaching with attention and without discussion or dissent, and in the end they all expressed faith and their wish to accept Holy Baptism, both the Kol’chane and the Ingatit (formerly traditional enemies). I made a count by families and in groups, and then in the afternoon began the baptismal service. First I baptized 50 Kol’chane and Ingalit men, the latter from the Yukon and Innoko. It was already evening when I completed the service. March 21, 1853.”
So it was that this apostolic man, this new Job, conducted himself during his earthly course. There are many other deeds and wonders which he performed, many known and many more known only to God. Few missionaries in history have had to endure the hardships which Father Jacob faced, yet he did so with patience and humility. His life of faith and piety are the legacy which he leaves to us, his spiritual children in America, and indeed to all Christians throughout the world.
Hieromartyr Hermolaus and Martyrs Hermippus and Hermocrates at Nicomedia
Hieromartyrs Hermolaus, Hermippus and Hermocrates of Nicomedia, were among the small number of those remaining alive after 20,000 Christians were burned alive in a church at Nicomedia in the year 303 (December 28), on the orders of the emperor Maximian (284-305). They lived in remote places and did not cease to preach Christianity to the pagans.
The young pagan named Pantoleon (Holy Great Martyr Panteleimon, July 27) often passed by the house in which Saint Hermolaus had concealed himself. Once Saint Hermolaus chanced to meet the youth and asked him to stop by his house. In their conversation Saint Hermolaus began to explain to his guest the falseness, impiety and vanity of worshipping the pagan gods. From that day on, Pantoleon began to visit Saint Hermolaus daily and received holy Baptism from him.
When the trial of the holy Great Martyr Panteleimon was being held, Saints Hermolaus, Hermippus and Hermocrates, were also arrested. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saint Hermolaus one evening and revealed to him that on the following day he would suffer for Him and receive a martyr’s crown.
Saints Hermippus and Hermocrates were arrested and brought to trial after Saint Hermolaus. All three were given the chance to deny Christ and offer sacrifice to idols. But they resolutely refused, confessed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and were prepared gladly to die for Him.
The pagans began to threaten the holy priests with torture and death. Suddenly, a strong earthquake occurred, and the idols and pagan temple collapsed and shattered. This was reported to the emperor. The enraged Maximian gave the holy martyrs over to torture and pronounced upon them a sentence of death. Bravely enduring all the torments, the holy Hieromartyrs Hermolaus, Hermippus and Hermocrates were beheaded in about the year 305.
Venerable Moses the Hungarian of the Kiev Near Caves
Saint Moses the Hungarian of the Caves, was a brother of Saint Ephraim of Novy Torg (January 28), and of Saint George. Together with them he entered into the service of the holy Prince Boris (July 24). After the murder of Saint Boris in 1015 at the River Alta (Saint George also perished with him), Saint Moses fled and hid himself at Kiev with Predislava, sister of prince Yaroslav. In 1018, when the Polish king Boleslav seized Kiev, Saint Moses and his companions wound up in Poland as captives.
Tall and handsome, Saint Moses attracted the attention of a certain rich Polish widow, who burned with a passionate desire for him and wanted to ransom him from captivity and make him her husband. Saint Moses resolutely refused to exchange captivity for slavery to a wife. Despite his refusal, the Polish woman bought the captive.
She did everything in her power to seduce the youth, but he preferred hunger pains to banquets of food. Then the Polish woman began to convey Saint Moses through her lands, thinking to captivate him by power and riches. Saint Moses told her that he would not trade spiritual riches for the perishable things of this world, and that he wished to become a monk.
Passing through the area, an Athonite hieromonk tonsured Saint Moses a monk. The Polish woman gave orders to stretch Saint Moses on the ground and to beat him with iron rods, so that the ground became soaked with his blood. She sought permission of Boleslav to do with the captive all that she pleased. The shameless woman once gave orders to put Saint Moses in a bed with her. She kissed and embraced him, but she accomplished nothing by this.
Saint Moses said, “From the fear of God I loathe you as impure”. Hearing this, the Polish woman gave orders to give the saint each day a hundred lashes, and then to emasculate him. Boleslav soon began a persecution against all the monks in the land, but sudden death overtook him. A revolt arose in Poland, in which the widow also was killed.
Having recovered from his wounds, Saint Moses arrived at the Kiev Caves monastery, bearing on himself martyr’s wounds and a crown of a confessor and courageous warrior of Christ. The Lord provided him strength in his sufferings. A certain monastic brother, oppressed by impure passion, went to Saint Moses and sought his help, saying, “I promise to keep until death everything you tell me to do.” Saint Moses said: “As long as you live, do not speak a word to any woman.” The brother promised to obey the advice of the monk. Saint Moses had in his hand a staff, without which he was not able to walk because of the wounds which he had received. With this staff Saint Moses struck the chest of the brother who had approached him, and immediately he was delivered from temptation.
Saint Moses pursued asceticism at Kiev for 10 years; he died in about the year 1043 and was buried in the Near Caves. After venerating the saint’s holy relics and fervent prayer to him, the monks were healed of fleshly temptations.
Martyr Paraskevḗ of Rome
Holy Virgin Martyr Paraskevḗ of Rome was the only daughter of Christian parents, Agathon and Politia, and from her early years she dedicated herself to God. She spent much of her time in prayer and the study of the Holy Scriptures. After the death of her parents Saint Paraskevḗ distributed all of her inheritance to the poor, and consecrated her virginity to Christ. Emulating the holy Apostles, she began to preach to the pagans about Christ, converting many to Christianity.
She was arrested during the reign of Antoninus Pius (138-161) because she refused to worship the idols. She was brought to trial and fearlessly confessed herself a Christian. Neither enticements of honors and material possessions, nor threats of torture and death shook the firmness of the saint nor turned her from Christ. She was given over to beastly tortures. They put a red-hot helmet on her head and threw her in a cauldron filled with boiling oil and pitch. By the power of God the holy martyr remained unharmed. When the emperor peered into the cauldron, Saint Paraskevḗ threw a drop of the hot liquid in his face, and he was burned. The emperor began to ask her for help, and the holy martyr healed him. After this the emperor set her free.
Traveling from one place to another to preach the Gospel, Saint Paraskevḗ arrived in a city where the governor was named Asclepius. Here again they tried the saint and sentenced her to death. They took her to an immense serpent living in a cave, so that it would devour her. But Saint Paraskevḗ made the Sign of the Cross over the snake and it died. Asclepius and the citizens witnessed this miracle and believed in Christ. She was set free, and continued her preaching. In a city where the governor was a certain Tarasius, Saint Paraskevḗ endured fierce tortures and was beheaded in the year 140.
Many miracles took place at the saint’s tomb: the blind received sight, the lame walked, and barren women gave birth to children. It is not only in the past that the saint performed her miracles, but even today she helps those who call on her in faith.
Venerable Gerontius of Saint Anne Skete, Mount Athos
Saint Gerontius founded the Skete of Saint Anna on Mount Athos.
Icon of the Mother of God in Constantinople of “Emvolon”
No information available at this time.
Saint Savva III of Serbia
Saint Savva III was Archbishop of Serbia from 1305 -1316. He is also commemorated on August 30.
You must be logged in to post a comment.