Daily Readings for Friday, July 29, 2022



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


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.

MATTHEW 15:29-31

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.

Martyr Michael

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.