8TH WEDNESDAY AFTER PENTECOST
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Isaacius, Dalmatus, & Faustus, Ascetics of the Dalmation Monastery, Salome the Holy Myrrhbearer, Theoctistus the Wonderworker
ST. PAUL’S FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 10:12-22
Brethren, let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, shun the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible men: judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider Israel according to the flesh: are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of the demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of the demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
At that time, Jesus strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you." But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men." Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.
Saint Isaac (May 30) was a soldier before he became a monk. After he was tonsured, he attained such a degree of spiritual perfection that he was accounted worthy of beholding divine visions.
When Saint Isaac heard about how the Emperor Valens had fallen into the Arian heresy and was persecuting the Orthodox Christians, he left his monastery and traveled to Constantinople to confront the emperor. At that time Valens was planning a campaign against the Goths. Saint Isaac tried to change the emperor’s mind several times, but was unable to convince him. He prophesied that Valens would die in flames because of his actions. The emperor ordered that Saint Isaac be thrown into prison, and promised to deal with him when he returned from his expedition. On August 9, 378 Valens was defeated at Adrianople and died in a fire after hiding in a barn, just as the saint had predicted.
Emperor Theodosius the Great, who had a great love for the saint, released him from prison and banned Arianism. Saint Isaac attended the Second Ecumenical Council (381), where he defended the Orthodox Faith against the Arian heresy.
Saint Isaac hoped to return to his monastic life in the wilderness, but a wealthy man built a monastery for him at Constantinople, and he became its first igumen. The monastery was later named for his disciple Dalmatus.
When Saint Isaac was approaching the end of his earthly life, he named Saint Dalmatus to succeed him as igumen. He lived to a ripe old age and reposed in the year 383.
Saint Dalmatus served in the army of the holy emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395) and attracted his notice. The saint was soon filled with the desire to dedicate himself to his Lord and Creator. Therefore, sometime between the years 381-383, he left the service of an earthly ruler in order to serve the King of Heaven. He went with his son Faustus to Saint Isaac’s monastery near Constantinople in order to speak with him. Saint Isaac (May 30) tonsured both father and son into monasticism, and they both began to lead a strict ascetic life.
Saint Dalmatus excelled all the other monks in virtue. Once, during Great Lent, Saint Dalmatus did not eat any food for the forty days. Later he regained his strength and was found worthy of a divine vision.
The holy ascetic was chosen to be the igumen after the death of the most devout Isaac. In fact, at the Third Ecumenical Council which met in Ephesus in 431 A. D. which condemned the heresy of Nestorius, Saint Dalmatus was honored for his defense of the Orthodox Faith.
After the Council the holy Fathers elevated Saint Dalmatus to be the archimandrite of his monastery, where he died peacefully at the age of ninety (after 446). He was succeeded by his son Faustus, who proved to be a worthy successor of his father.
Saint Faustus and his father Dalmatus received the monastic tonsure from Saint Isaac (May 30) at his monastery near Constantinople.
Saint Faustus, like his father, had attained the heights of monasticism, and excelled at fasting. Following the death of his father, he succeeded him as igumen of the monastery. The details of his ascetical life are not known.
Saint Anthony the Roman was born at Rome in 1067 to rich parents who adhered to the Orthodox Faith, and they raised him in piety. After losing his parents at age 17, he took up the study of the Fathers in the Greek language. Afterwards, he distributed part of his inheritance to the poor, and the other portion he put into a wooden barrel and threw it into the sea. Then he was tonsured at one of the wilderness monasteries, where he lived for 20 years.
A persecution of the Latins against the Orthodox forced the brethren to separate. Saint Anthony wandered from place to place until he came upon a large rock upon the shore of the sea, where he lived for a whole year in fasting and prayer. On September 5, 1105 a terrible storm tore away the stone on which Saint Anthony stood, and threw it into the sea. By divine Providence, the stone floated to Novgorod. On the Feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, the stone halted 3 versts from Novgorod on the banks of the River Volkhov near the village of Volkhov. This event is testified to in the Novgorod Chronicles.
At this place the monk, with the blessing of Saint Nikḗtas the Hermit (May 14), founded a monastery in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. In another year, fishermen recovered the barrel containing Saint Anthony’s inheritance, cast into the sea many years before. The saint recognized his barrel, but the fishermen did not want to give it to him. Before a judge, Saint Anthony described the contents of the barrel, and it was returned to him. The saint used the money to buy land for the monastery. Spiritual asceticism was combined at the monastery with intense physical labor.
Saint Anthony was concerned that help should be given to the needy, orphans and widows from monastery funds. In 1117, the saint built a stone church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. The church, built during the lifetime of Saint Anthony in the years 1117-1119 by the renowned Novgorod architect Peter, and adorned with frescoes in the year 1125, has been preserved to the present time. In 1131, Saint Niphon of Novgorod made Saint Anthony igumen of the monastery. He died on August 3, 1147 and was buried by Saint Niphon.
Saint Anthony was glorified in 1597. His memory is also celebrated (uncovering of his relics) on the first Friday after the Feast of the Foremost Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29), and on January 17, on the same day that Saint Anthony the Great is commemorated. The first Life of Saint Anthony the Roman was written soon after his death by his disciple and successor as igumen, the hieromonk Andrew. A Life, with an account of the uncovering of the relics, was written by a novice of the Antoniev monastery, the monk Niphon, in the year 1598.
Saint Razhden the Protomartyr was descended from a noble Persian family. When Holy King Vakhtang Gorgasali married the daughter of the Persian king Hormuzd III Balunducht, the queen took Razhden with her to Georgia.
In Kartli Razhden converted to the Christian Faith, and King Vakhtang presented him with an estate and appointed him as a military adviser and commander.
At that time Georgia was under heavy political pressure from Persia. Enraged at King Vakhtang’s clearly Christian convictions, the Persian king Peroz (Son of Yazgard III.)(457-484) attacked Georgia with an enormous army. His accomplishments in this battle earned Razhden his distinction as a brave and virtuous warrior.
Before long the furious King Peroz ordered that “a certain Persian aristocrat who had converted to Christianity and survived the battle” be taken captive. The Persians surrounded Razhden, bound his hands and feet, and delivered him to their king. Peroz received him with feigned tenderness, saying, “Greetings, my virtuous Razhden! Peace be to you! Where have you been all this time, and for what reason have you turned from the faith of your fathers to confess a creed in which your fathers did not instruct you?”
Razhden fearlessly asserted that Christianity is the only true faith and that Christ is the only true Savior of mankind. King Peroz tried to conceal his anger and cunningly lure Razhden to his side, but his attempt was in vain. Convinced that his efforts were futile, Peroz finally ordered that the saint be beaten without mercy. The expert executioners trampled Saint Razhden, battered him, knocked out his teeth, dragged him across jagged cliffs, then chained him in heavy irons and cast him into prison.
When the news of Razhden’s suffering and captivity spread to Mtskheta, the Georgian nobility came to Peroz and requested that he free the holy man. Peroz consented to their request, but made Razhden vow to return.
Razhden arrived in Mtskheta, bid farewell to his family and the beloved king Vakhtang Gorgasali and, despite his loved ones’ admonitions to the contrary, returned to Peroz. The Persian king tried again to return Razhden to the religion of the fire-worshippers. But seeing that he would not be broken, Peroz instead ordered his exile to a military camp at Tsromi in central Georgia. Then he secretly ordered the chief of the Persian camp to turn him away from Christianity and to execute him if he refused. “Your flattery and bribes are insulting to me. With joy I am prepared to endure every suffering for the sake of Christ!”
Razhden replied to his appeals, “If he hopes in the Crucified One, then he also is fit to suffer crucifixion!” Such was the Persians’ verdict. They erected a cross, crucified Christ’s humble servant, and prepared to shoot at the pious man with bow and arrow. “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commit my spirit!” were the last words of Saint Razhden.
That night a group of Christians stole the Persians’ cross, took the holy martyr’s body down from it, and buried his holy relics in secret. A few years later Vakhtang Gorgasali translated Saint Razhden’s relics from Tsromi to Nikozi (in central Georgia) and interred them in a cathedral that he had built there not long before. Holy King Vakhtang later erected churches in honor of Georgia’s first martyr in Ujarma and Samgori in eastern Georgia.
Saint Cosmas the Hermit lived during the sixth century in the Pharan wilderness of Palestine. An account of the Bikaneia presbyter Abba Basil about Saint Cosmas is located in the book Spiritual Meadow (Ch. 40) compiled by Saint John Moschus. He was strict of fasting, a firm defender of the Orthodox Faith and Church dogmas, and profoundly knowledgeable in Holy Scripture and the works of the Church Fathers.
Saint Cosmas particularly revered the works of Saint Athanasius the Great and told those to whom he spoke: “If you come across a word of Saint Athanasius and have no paper, write it upon your clothing.” He had the habit to stand at prayer all night Saturday through Sunday.
Having once come to Antioch, he died there, and the patriarch buried his body at his monastery. Abba Basil relates that when he came to venerate the grave of Saint Cosmas, he found there a beggar, who told him: “It is a great Elder whom you have buried here!” He explained that he had been paralyzed for twelve years, and received healing through the prayers of Saint Cosmas.
On the Feast of the Annunciation in the year 1625, the Georgians annihilated the army of the Persian shah Abbas I in the Battle of Martqopi. The victory unified Georgia’s eastern provinces of Kartli and Kakheti. It also instilled hope in other enslaved peoples of the Transcaucasus, and rebellions began to break out everywhere.
Soon the enraged Shah Abbas marched his finest and largest army toward Georgia under the leadership of Isa-Khan Qurchibash. A Georgian army of some twenty thousand men encamped near Kojori-Tabakhmela in preparation for the attack, while the enemy’s army, which numbered in excess of fifty thousand men, encamped at Marabda. According to tradition, the Georgian soldiers received Holy Communion at dawn before the battle.
Bishop Domenti (Avalishvili) of Ruisi prepared to serve the Holy Gifts to the soldiers but they cried out with a single voice: “If you will join us and take up your sword and fight, then do so. We can receive Holy Communion from another!”
Inspired by these words, the bishop joined in, proclaiming, “Today we will fight a battle for faith and for Christ; therefore my blood must be spilled before yours!” With his vestments as armor, the bishop blessed the soldiers and took his place in the front line.
The banner of the Georgian army was entrusted to the nine Kherkheulidze brothers.
The Persians panicked upon coming face-to-face with the courage and fortitude of the Georgian soldiers, but the experienced commander Isa-Khan Qurchibash would not yield in battle. Help arrived from Beglerbeg Shaybani-Khan, and with the extra forces the Persians soon gained the advantage over the Georgian army. The Georgian colonel Teimuraz Mukhranbatoni was fatally wounded, and rumors of his death threw the soldiers into a frenzy, since they erroneously believed that the dead man was King Teimuraz I of Kakheti, the commander of their army.
Believing that their leader had fallen, the Georgian soldiers became anxious and their army was enfeebled. Before long they recognized their mistake, but it was too late—the fate of the battle had already been decided.
The military leaders Davit Jandieri, Aghatang Kherkheulidze and Baadur Tsitsishvili and the bishops of Rustavi and Kharchasho all fell in the battle at Marabda. The nine banner-bearing Kherkheulidze brothers were also killed. When the banner that had led their army through the battles at Didgori and Basiani fell from the hands of the youngest brother, their sister grabbed hold of it immediately, and when she also fell, the banner and symbol of Georgian invincibility was raised up again by their mother.
King Teimuraz fought until sunset, when every sword he had held in his hands had been broken. Even his rings were broken in the combat. The uniform of the brilliant military leader Giorgi Saakadze was stained with blood from top to bottom. Atabeg Manuchar of Samtskhe and his sons also fought bravely in this battle.
Utterly exhausted and debilitated by the heat, the Georgians fought heroically to the last moment. But the battle that had begun at dawn finally ended late that night with the defeat of the Georgian army. Nine thousand Georgians gave their lives for Christ and their motherland on the battlefield at Marabda.
Saint Theodora was born in Aegina. After her marriage, she and her husband moved to Thessaloniki because of the raids of the Saracens. After her husband's death she entered the Monastery of Saint Stephen with her daughter Theopiste. She lived a life of great virtue and reposed in the year 892.
Although the commemoration of these saints is on August 29, their celebration was moved to August 3 because of the Feast of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.