KYRIAKE THE GREAT MARTYR
Kyriake the Great Martyr, Thomas the Righteous of Malea, Akakios of Sinai, Willibald, Bishop of Eichstatt
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.”
Saint Thomas of Mt. Maleon was a military commander before he became a monk. Strong and brave, he had participated in many battles, and brought victory to his countrymen, for which he gained glory and esteem. But, striving with all his heart towards God, Thomas abandoned the world and its honors, and he took monastic vows.
With great humility he visited monastic Elders, asking for guidance in the spiritual life. After several years Thomas received the blessing for solitary wilderness life and, led by a pillar of fire at night by the holy Prophet Elias, he settled on Mount Maleon (on the eastern part of Athos). Dwelling in complete seclusion, Saint Thomas fought with invisible enemies with as much courage as he had displayed against the visible enemies of his country.
The life and deeds of Saint Thomas could not be concealed from the surrounding area. People began to flock to him seeking spiritual guidance, and even those suffering from sickness, since he received from God the blessing to heal infirmities.
Many believers received help through the prayers of the holy monk. Even after his death, he does not cease to heal those who seek his aid, from every passion and sickness.
Saint Acacius of Sinai lived during the sixth century and was a novice at a certain monastery in Asia. The humble monk distinguished himself by his patient and unquestioning obedience to his Elder, a harsh and dissolute man. He forced his disciple to toil excessively, starved him with hunger, and beat him without mercy. Despite such treatment, Saint Acacius meekly endured the affliction and thanked God for everything. Saint Acacius died after suffering these torments for nine years.
Five days after Acacius was buried, his Elder told another Elder about the death of his disciple. The second Elder did not believe that the young monk was dead. They went to the grave of Acacius and the second Elder called out: “Brother Acacius, are you dead?” From the grave a voice replied, “No, Father, how is it possible for an obedient man to die?” The startled Elder of Saint Acacius fell down with tears before the grave, asking forgiveness of his disciple.
After this he repented, constantly saying to the Fathers, “I have committed murder.” He lived in a cell near the grave of Saint Acacius, and he ended his life in prayer and in meekness. Saint John Climacus (March 30) mentions Saint Acacius in THE LADDER (Step 4:110) as an example of endurance and obedience, and of the rewards for these virtues.
Saint Acacius is also commemorated on November 29.
Saint Euphrosynē, in the world Eudokia, was the daughter of the Suzdal prince Demetrius Constantovich (+ 1383), and from 1367 was the wife of the Moscow Great Prince Demetrius of the Don. Their happy union was for Russia a pledge of unity and peace between Moscow and Suzdal.
Saint Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow, and even Saint Sergius of Radonezh, who baptized one of the sons of Demetrius and Eudokia, had a great influence upon the spiritual life of Princess Eudokia. Saint Demetrius of Priluki (February 11) was the godfather of another son.
The holy princess was a builder of churches. In 1387 she founded the Ascension women’s monastery in the Moscow Kremlin. In 1395, during Tamerlane’s invasion into the southern regions of Russia, the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was transferred to Moscow upon her advice, miraculously defending the Russian land. During Lent, the princess secretly wore chains beneath her splendid royal garb. By her patronage the famous icon of the Archangel Michael was painted, and later became the patronal icon of the Kremlin’s Archangel Cathedral.
After raising five sons (a sixth died in infancy), the princess was tonsured as a nun with the name Euphrosynē. She completed her earthly journey on July 7, 1407 and was buried in the Ascension monastery she founded.
An old Russian church poem has survived, the lament of the princess for her husband, who had died at the age of thirty-nine.
Saint Euphrosynē is also commemorated on May 17.
The Holy Martyrs Peregrinus, Lucian, Pompeius, Hesychius, Papius, Saturninus and Germanus were natives of Italy. They suffered for Christ under the emperor Trajan in the city of Dyrrachium, located at the shore of the Adriatic sea.
Witnessing the martyrdom of Bishop Astius, who was crucified by the Romans, they openly praised the courage and firmness of the holy confessor. Because of this, they were seized, and as confessors of faith in Christ, they were drowned in the sea. Their bodies, carried to shore by the waves, were hidden in the sand by Christians. The martyrs appeared to the Bishop of Alexandria ninety years later, ordering him to bury their bodies and to build a church over them.
Saint Evangelicus, a follower of the holy Apostle Andrew (November 30), is the first known bishop of the diocese of Tomis (Constanța, pronounced: Constantsa) in Dacia Pontica (Lesser Scythia, or Dobrogea). He was active around the mouths of the Danube toward the end of the third century.
Bishop Evangelicus converted many pagans of Dacia Pontica to Christianity. He is mentioned in the account of the martyrdom of Saints Epictetus and Astion (July 8), where he is described as the founder of churches in the province. The parents of these holy martyrs were baptized by Saint Evangelicus after being converted by the priest Bonosus.
It is believed that Saint Evangelicus suffered martyrdom during the persecution of Diocletian (284-305).
Saint Kyriake was the only child of Dorotheus and Eusebia. Since she was born on a Sunday (Kyriake, in Greek), she was named Kyriake.
One day a wealthy magistrate wished to betroth Kyriake to his son. Not only was she young and beautiful, but her parents were wealthy, and the magistrate wished to control that wealth. The magistrate went to her parents to request her hand, but Saint Kyriake told him that she wished to remain a virgin, for she had dedicated herself to Christ.
The magistrate was angered by her words, so he went to the emperor Diocletian to denounce the saint and her parents as Christians who mocked the idols, and refused to offer sacrifice to them.
Diocletian sent soldiers to arrest the family and have them brought before him. He asked them why they would not honor the gods which he himself honored. They told him that these were false gods, and that Christ was the one true God.
Dorotheus was beaten until the soldiers grew tired and were unable to continue. Since neither flattery nor torment had any effect, Diocletian sent Dorotheus and Eusebia to Melitene on the eastern border between Cappadocia and Armenia. Then he sent Saint Kyriake to be interrogated by his son-in-law and co-ruler Maximian at Nicomedia.
Maximian urged her not to throw her life away, promising her wealth and marriage to one of Diocletian’s relatives if she would worship the pagan gods. Saint Kyriake replied that she would never renounce Christ, nor did she desire worldly riches. Enraged by her bold answer, Maximian had her flogged. The soldiers who administered this punishment became tired, and had to be replaced three times.
Shamed by his failure to overcome a young woman, Maximian sent Saint Kyriake to Hilarion, the eparch of Bithynia, at Chalcedon. He told Hilarion to either convert Kyriake to paganism, or send her back to him.
Making the same promises and threats that Diocletian and Maximian had made before, Hilarion was no more successful than they were. Saint Kyriake challenged him to do his worst, because Christ would help her to triumph. The saint was suspended by her hair for several hours, while soldiers burned her body with torches. Not only did she endure all this, she also seemed to become more courageous under torture. Finally, she was taken down and put into a prison cell.
That night Christ appeared to her and healed her wounds. When Hilarion saw her the next day, he declared that she had been healed by the gods because they pitied her. Then Hilarion urged her to go to the temple to give thanks to the gods. She told him that she had been healed by Christ, but agreed to go to the temple. The eparch rejoiced, thinking that he had defeated her.
In the temple, Saint Kyriake prayed that God would destroy the soulless idols. Suddenly, there was a great earthquake which toppled the idols, shattering them to pieces. Everyone fled the temple in fear, leaving Hilarion behind. Instead of recognizing the power of Christ, the eparch blasphemed the true God as the destroyer of his pagan gods. He was struck by a bolt of lightning and died on the spot.
Saint Kyriake was tortured again by Apollonius, who succeeded Hilarion as eparch. When she was cast into a fire, the flames were extinguished. When she was thrown to wild beasts, they became tame and gentle. Therefore, Apollonius sentenced her to death by the sword. She was permitted time to pray, so she asked God to receive her soul, and to remember those who honored her martyrdom.
Just as Saint Kyriake ended her prayer, angels took her soul before the soldiers could strike off her head. Pious Christians took her relics and buried them in a place of honor.
The Blachernae Icon of the Mother of God was discovered at Jerusalem by the empress Eudokia during the time of Saint Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem (July 2), and Saint Euthymius the Great (January 20). The holy icon was sent to Constantinople, where the empress Pulcheria placed it in the Blacernae Church, where the Venerable Robe of the Mother of God (July 2) was preserved.
This holy icon is also called the Hodēgḗtria, or “She who leads the way.” It was with this icon that Patriarch Sergius (610-631) made the rounds of the walls of Constantinople in the year 626 with Moliebens during a siege of the capital by the Avars. In memory of this and other victories, which were won thanks to the intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos, an annual celebration was established on Saturday of the Fifth Week of the Great Fast to offer Praises to the Most Holy Theotokos (Saturday of the Akathist). At first the celebration took place only at the Blachernae church in Constantinople. In the ninth century the Feast was included in the Typikon of Saint Savva the Sanctified, and in the Studite Rule. Later, it was included in the Lenten Triodion and made universal for all the Orthodox Church.
After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Blachernae Icon was transferred to Mt. Athos, and in 1654 it was sent by the Athonite monks to Moscow as gift to the Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich.
The Blachernae Icon is celebrated on July 2, and in the Fifth Week of Great Lent (Saturday of the Akathist).
Saint Prosper (Prosper Tiro), "The Eradicator of Heresies," as Saint Photios (February 6) calls him, was born in the Aquitaine around the year 390. He was a renowned lay theologian, although few details of his life are known.
We know Saint Prosper chiefly from his writings. A contemporary writer described him as "a holy and venerable man." Many of Saint Prosper's writings echo the teaching of Saint Augustine (June 15) on grace. Like Saint Augustine, Saint Prosper was also an opponent of the Pelagian heresy. This wise man seems to have spent his life embroiled in controversies with heretics. For the semi-Pelagians in particular, Saint Prosper was one of their most fearsome adversaries.
In Saint Prosper, science was joined to virtue. It is evident that he applied himself to literature, and especially to acquiring knowledge of Holy Scripture. He was no less an expert in human sciences than he was in theology. He excelled particularly in mathematics, astronomy, and chronology. His great learning and holiness made him well known throughout the entire Church.
Saint Prosper has sometimes been identified, mistakenly, with Saint Paulinus of Reggio (June 25), who was a bishop. Everything we know about him leads us to believe that Saint Prosper was not a bishop, nor even a priest. In a poem to his wife he wrote: "Lift me up again if I fall; correct yourself if I point out some fault. Let it never be sufficient for us to be one body, let us also be one soul." By 428, Saint Prosper persuaded his wife to become a nun, and he entered a monastery at Marseilles. When Saint Leo the Great was chosen as the Bishop of Rome in 440, he sent for Prosper to become his secretary. Many historians believe that the admirable treatise "On the Incarnation of the Word," which is ascribed to Saint Leo, is actually the work of Saint Prosper. It is possible, however, that Saint Leo may have reworked it in his own style.
Saint Prosper reposed in Rome, sometime after 455.
The icon of Saint Prosper depicts him holding a scroll which reads: "The Orthodox Faith subdues the monster of heresy."