Daily Readings for Saturday, July 23, 2022



Phocas the Holy Martyr, Bishop of Sinope, Ezekiel the Prophet, Pelagia the Righteous of Tinos, Trophimos & Theophilios and the 13 others martyred in Lycia, St. Anna of Levkadio, The Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos of Pochaev, Icon of the Mother of God


Brethren, I am speaking the truth in Christ, I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen by race. They are Israelites, and to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed for ever. Amen.

MATTHEW 9:18-26

At that time, a ruler came in and knelt before Jesus, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment; for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I shall be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house, and saw the flute players, and the crowd making a tumult, he said, “Depart; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went through all that district.

Martyr Trophimus and 14 Others in Lycia

The Holy Martyrs Trophimus, Theophilus, and thirteen martyrs with them, suffered during the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Brought to trial, they bravely confessed themselves Christians and refused to offer sacrifice to idols. After fierce tortures, they broke the legs of the holy martyrs and threw them into a fire. Strengthened by the Lord, they came out of the fire completely unharmed, and they glorified Christ all the more. Unable to break the will of the holy confessors, the torturers beheaded them.

Hieromartyr Apollinaris, Bishop of Ravenna

Saint Apollinaris was a disciple of the Apostle Peter, whom he followed from Antioch to Rome sometime during the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius (41-54). Saint Peter appointed Apollinaris as Bishop of Ravenna. Arriving in Ravenna as a stranger, Saint Apollinaris asked shelter of a local inhabitant, the soldier Irenaeus, and during their conversation he revealed the purpose for which he had come.

Irenaeus had a blind son, whom Saint Apollinaris healed, after he had prayed to the Lord. The soldier Irenaeus and his family were the first people in Ravenna to believe in Christ. The saint stayed at the house of Irenaeus and preached about Christ to everyone who wished to hear his words. One of the miracles that Saint Apollinaris performed was the healing of Thekla, the incurably sick wife of the tribune. Through the prayers of the saint, she got up from her bed completely healthy. Not only did she believe in Christ, but so did her husband the tribune. In their house Saint Apollinaris set up a small church, where he celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Saint Apollinaris ordained two presbyters, Aderetus and Calocyrus, and also two deacons for the newly-baptized people of Ravenna.

Saint Apollinaris labored with great zeal, preaching the Gospel at Ravenna for twelve years, and the number of Christians steadily increased. Pagan priests complained about the bishop to the governor Saturninus. The hierarch was brought to trial and subjected to grievous tortures. Thinking that he had died, the torturers took him out of the city to the seacoast and threw him into the water. The saint, however, was still alive. A certain pious Christian widow helped him and gave him shelter in her home. Saint Apollinaris stayed with her for six months, and secretly continued to preach about Christ. The saint’s whereabouts became known when he restored the power of speech to an illustrious resident of the city named Boniface, whose wife had requested the saint to help her husband.

After this miracle many pagans were converted to Christ, and once again Saint Apollinaris was brought to trial and tortured. His bare feet were placed on red-hot coals. They expelled him from the city a second time, but the Lord again kept him alive. The saint did not cease preaching until he left the city. For a certain time Saint Apollinaris found himself elsewhere in Italy, where he continued to preach the Gospel as before. Returning to his flock in Ravenna, Saint Apollinaris went on trial yet again and was sentenced to banishment.

In heavy fetters, he was placed on a ship bound for Illyrica and the Danube River. Two soldiers were responsible for escorting him to his place of exile. Three of the clergy voluntarily followed their bishop into exile. Along the way the vessel was wrecked and everyone drowned, except for Saint Apollinaris, his clergy and the two soldiers. The soldiers, listening to Saint Apollinaris, believed in the Lord and were baptized. Not finding any shelter, the travelers came to Moisia in Thrace, where Saint Apollinaris healed a certain illustrious inhabitant from leprosy. Both he and his companions were given shelter at the man’s home. In this land Saint Apollinaris preached tirelessly about Christ and he converted many of the pagans to Christianity, for which he was subjected to persecution by the unbelievers. They beat the saint mercilessly, then they sent him back to Italy aboard a ship.

After a three year absence, Saint Apollinaris returned to Ravenna and was joyfully received by his flock. The pagans, however, entered the church where the saint was serving the Divine Liturgy, scattered those at prayer, and dragged the saint before the idolatrous priests at the pagan temple of Apollo. The idol fell and shattered to pieces just as the saint was brought in. The pagan priests brought Saint Apollinaris to Taurus, the new governor of the district for trial. Apollinaris performed a new miracle, healing the son of the governor, who had been blind from birth. In gratitude for the healing of his son, Taurus tried to protect Saint Apollinaris from the angry crowd. He sent him to his own estate outside the city. Although Taurus’s wife and son were baptized, he feared the anger of the emperor, and did not receive Baptism. However, he was filled with gratitude and love toward his benefactor.

Saint Apollinaris lived for five years at Taurus’s estate and preached without hindrance. During this time pagan priests sent letters of denunciation to Emperor Vespasian requesting a sentence of death or exile for the Christian “sorcerer” Apollinaris. But the emperor told the pagan priests that the gods were sufficiently powerful to take revenge for themselves, if they felt insulted. All the wrath of the pagans fell upon Saint Apollinaris: they seized him and beat him fiercely as he was leaving the city for a nearby settlement. Christians found him barely alive and took him to the settlement, where he lived for seven days. During his final illness the saint did not cease to teach his flock. He predicted that after the persecutions ended, Christians would enter upon better times when they could openly and freely confess their faith. After bestowing his archpastoral blessing upon those present, the hieromartyr Apollinaris fell asleep in the Lord. Saint Apollinaris was Bishop of Ravenna for twenty-eight years, and he reposed in the year 75.

Icon of the Mother of God “the Joy of All who Sorrow” (with coins) in St. Petersburg

The Icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” (With Coins) was glorified in the year 1888 in St. Petersburg, when during the time of a terrible thunderstorm lightning struck in a chapel. All was burned or singed, except for this icon of the Queen of Heaven. It was knocked to the floor, and the poor box broke open at the same time. Somehow, twelve small coins (half-kopeck pieces), became attached to the icon. A church was built in 1898 on the site of the chapel.

Hieromartyr Vitalius, Bishop of Ravenna

No information available at this time.

Icon of the Mother of God of Pochaev

Commemoration of the Miraculous Appearance of the Mother of God at Pochaev, which saved the Monastery from the assault of the Tatars and Turks

The Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God is among the most revered sacred objects of the Orthodox Church. Located in the Dormition Cathedral at Pochaev, Ukraine, the Icon is reknowned throughout the entire Slavic world, and is venerated in Russia, Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and in other places. Christians of other confessions also venerate the Pochaev Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. The wonderworking Icon has been treasured at the Pochaev Lavra for over 400 years.

Numerous miracles have taken place before the holy Icon, and these are recorded in special books at the monastery. The books contain the personal testimonies of people who prayed before the Pochaev Icon and were healed of their illnesses, delivered from unclean spirits, or freed from captivity. Many sinners were also brought to repentance.

Today's Feast Day in honor of the Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God was appointed to commemorate the deliverance of the Dormition Lavra from a siege by the Turks on July 20-23, 1675.

In the summer of 1675 during the Zbarazhsk War with the Turks, in the reign of the Polish King Jan Sobesski (1674-1696), regiments composed of Tatars under the command of Khan Nurredin via Vishnevets fell upon the Pochaev monastery, surrounding it on three sides. The weak monastery walls and its stone buildings did not offer much protection against a siege. Igoumen Joseph Dobromirsky urged the brethren and laypeople to pray to their heavenly intercessors, the Most Holy Theotokos and Saint Job of Pochaev (October 28).

The monks and the people prayed fervently, prostrating themselves before the wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God, and the reliquary containing the relics of Saint Job. At sunrise on the morning of July 23, as the Tatars prepared to attack the monastery, the Igoumen ordered an Akathist to the Theotokos to be sung. At the opening words, “O Queen of the Heavenly Hosts,” the Mother of God suddenly appeared over the church, in “an unfurled radiant white omaphorion,” with angels holding unsheathed swords. Saint Job stood beside the Mother of God, bowing to her and beseeching her to defend the monastery.

The Tatars believed that the heavenly army was a vision, and in their confusion they started shooting arrows at the Most Holy Theotokos and Saint Job, but the arrows turned backwards and wounded those who shot them. The enemy, gripped by terror, fled in panic, trampling upon and killing each other. The defenders of the monastery pursued them and took many prisoners. Later, some of the prisoners converted to the Orthodox Faith and remained at the monastery thereafter.

In the year 1721, Pochaev was occupied by the Uniates. Even during this difficult time for the Lavra, the monastery Chronicle lists 539 miracles of the Pochaev Icon. In the second half of the eighteenth century, a Uniate nobleman, Count Nicholas Pototski, became a benefactor of the Pochaev Lavra through the following miraculous circumstance. After accusing his coachman of overturning the carriage with runaway horses, the Count took out a pistol to shoot him. The coachman, turning towards the mountain of Pochaev, stretched out his hands and cried: "Mother of God, depicted in the Pochaev Icon, save me!”

Several times Pototski tried to shoot the pistol, which had never failed him, but the weapon misfired and the coachman remained alive. Pototski went at once to the wonderworking Icon and resolved to devote himself and all his property to building up the monastery. With the money he contributed, the Dormition cathedral was built, as well as other buildings for the brethren.

The return of the Pochaev Monastery to the Orthodox Church in 1832 was marked by the miraculous healing of the blind maiden Anna Akimchukova, who had come on pilgrimage to the holy shrine along with her seventy-year-old grandmother from Kremenets-Podolsk, 200 versts away. In memory of this event, the Archbishop of Volhynia and Archimandrite Innocent of the Lavra (1832-1840) appointed that an Akathist be read on Saturdays before the wonderworking Icon. During the time of Archimandrite Agathangelus, Archbishop of Volhynia (1866-1876), a separate chapel was built in the galleries of the Holy Trinity church, which was dedicated on July 23, 1875 in memory of the victory over the Tatars.

The wonderworking Pochaev Icon is also commemorated on Friday of Bright Week, and on September 8.

Saint Anna of Leukadio

Saint Anna (Susanna) of Leukadio (or Leukati) was born in Constantinople in 840 during the reign of Emperor Theophilos the iconoclast (829-842), and was the daughter of a wealthy and distinguished family. She had many physical and spiritual
gifts because she was raised “in the discipline and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

After the death of her parents, she inherited her father’s estate, which she shared with the poor. This beautiful young woman was loved by a certain Hagarene1 who lived in Constantinople and asked her to marry him, and he obtained the consent of Emperor Basil I the Macedonian. Anna turned down the proposal, since she did not wish to marry him. The Hagarene tormented her and declared that he would have her as his wife, even if she did not wish it. The Saint tearfully entreated God to deliver her from this temptation. Indeed, the compassionate and righteous God heard her prayers. Punished for his impudence, the Hagarene was struck down by divine judgment and he died.

Around 896 Anna went to a certain church dedicated to the Mother of God in Constantinople. There she devoted herself to fasting, vigil, and prayer. For fifty years she lived in this angelic way. After a slight illness, she delivered her blessed soul to God. Years after her burial, her relics were found to be whole, incorrupt, and emitting a divine fragrance. By her grace-filled relics, demons were cast out, the blind received their sight, and the lame walked. So, in this manner, God glorifies those who glorify Him.

1 The Moslems were regarded as descendants of Hagar, Abraham's concubine (see Genesis, chapter 16).