7TH SATURDAY AFTER PENTECOST
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 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work.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.