11TH MONDAY AFTER PENTECOST
The Holy Martyr Agathonicus, Holy Martyr Anthuse, Athanasios the Hieromartyr & Bishop of Tarsus, New Martyrs Manuel and John, The Synaxis of the Icon of the Mother of God of Prusa, Afterfeast of the Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary
ST. PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 2:3-15
Brethren, my joy is the joy of you all. For I wrote you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.
But if any one has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure – not to put it too severely – to you all. For such a one this punishment by the majority is enough; so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, for he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Any one whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, to keep Satan from gaining the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his designs.
When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, a door was opened for me in the Lord; but my mind could not rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
The Lord said to the Jews who had come to him, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows' houses and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'If any one swears by the temple, it is nothing; but if any one swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, 'If any one swears by the altar, it is nothing; but if any one swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.' You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; and he who swears by the temple, swears by it and by him who dwells in it; and he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.
The Church continues to honor the passage of the Most Holy Theotokos from death to life. Just as Christ once dwelt in the virginal womb of His Mother, now He takes Her “to dwell in His courts.”
The Martyrs Agathonicus, Zoticus, Theoprepius, Acindynus, Severian, Zeno and others accepted death for Christ during the reign of the emperor Maximian (284-305).
The Martyr Agathonicus was descended from the illustrious lineage of the Hypasians, and he lived at Nicomedia. Well versed in Holy Scripture, he converted many pagans to Christ, including the most eminent member of the Senate (its “princeps” or leader). Comitus Eutolmius was sent to the Pontine (lower Black Sea) region, where he crucified the followers of the Christian Zoticus, who had refused to offer sacrifice to idols. He took Zoticus with him.
In Nicomedia, Eutolmius arrested the Martyr Agathonicus (together with the princeps), and also Theoprepius, Acindynus and Severian. After tortures, Eutolmius ordered that the martyrs be taken to Thrace for trial by the emperor.
But along the way, in the vicinity of Potama, the Martyrs Zoticus, Theoprepius and Acindynus were unable to proceed further behind the chariot of the governor because of wounds received during torture. Therefore, they were put to death. The Martyr Severian was put to death at Chalcedon, and the Martyr Agathonicus together with others was beheaded with the sword by order of the emperor, in Selymbria.
The relics of the Martyr Agathonicus were in a church named for him at Constantinople, and were seen in the year 1200 by the Russian pilgrim Anthony. And in the fourteenth century Philotheus, the archbishop of Selymbria, devoted an encomium to the Martyr Agathonicus.
The Hieromartyr Athanasius, bishop of the Cilician city of Tarsus, who baptized the holy Nun Anthusa, was beheaded by the sword under the emperor Aurelian (270-275).
Saint Anthusa, a native of the city of Seleucia (in Syria), was the daughter of illustrious pagans. Learning of the teachings of Christ, she under pretense of visiting her benefactress, journeyed instead to Tarsus to Saint Athanasius and received Baptism from him.
Her parents were enraged at their daughter for becoming a Christian. She received monastic tonsure from Saint Athanasius, then settled in the desert, where she spent 33 years at ascetic deeds. She died at the end of the third century while she was praying. The Martyrs Charisimos and Neophytus, who had been baptized together with the Nun Anthusa, were her servants, and they too accepted death for Christ.
The Martyr Eulalia lived in Spain, near the city of Barcionum (now Barcelona), and she was raised by her parents in piety and the Christian Faith. Already at fourteen years of age, the maiden spent a solitary life in her parental home with others of her own age, occupied in prayer, the reading of Holy Scripture, and handicrafts.
During the time of a persecution against Christians under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (305-311), the governor Dacian arrived in the city of Barcionum to rid it of Christians. Hearing of this, the maiden secretly left her home at night, and by morning had made her way into the city. Pushing her way through the throng of people, the girl made a bold denunciation of the judge for forcing people to renounce the True God in order to offer sacrifice to devils instead.
Dacian gave orders to strip the girl and beat her with rods, but she steadfastly endured the torment and told the judge that the Lord would deliver her from the pain. They tied the martyr to a tree and tore her skin with iron claws, and they then burned her wounds with torches.
During her torment, Dacian asked the saint, “Where then is your God, Whom you have called upon?” She answered that the Lord was beside her, but that Dacian in his impurity could not see Him. During the saint’s prayer: “Behold, God helps me, and the Lord is the defender of my soul” (Ps. 53/54:4), the flames of the torches turned back upon the torturers, who fell to the ground.
The Martyr Eulalia began to pray that the Lord would take her to Heaven to Himself, and with this prayer she died. People saw a white dove come from her mouth and fly up to Heaven. Then a sudden snowstorm covered the martyr’s naked body like a white garment (the saint’s commemoration is sometimes given as December 10, which may be more correct, in view of the snow).
Three days later, the martyr’s parents came and wept before her hanging body, but they were also glad that their daughter would be numbered among the saints. When they took Saint Eulalia from the tree, one of the Christians, named Felix, said with tears of joy: “Lady Eulalia, you are the first of us to win the martyr’s crown!”
Saint Felix himself soon accepted death for Christ, and is also commemorated on this day.
In 1622, the Persian Shah Abbas I, after the devastating invasion of Orthodox Georgia, took part of the Robe of the Lord, and some especially revered icons. Three years later, when the Russian clerk Stephen Lazarev, who was in Persia to do some trading, a certain person from the Shah's retinue offered to let him purchase one of the stolen Georgian icons: an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. At the same time, at Yaroslavl, the merchant Gregory Lytkin, by whom Stephen was employed, had a revelation of his clerk's imminent arrival with the precious acquisition.
Lytkin had been instructed by a voice from above to take the Icon from Yaroslavl to Arkhangelsk, near the Pinega River. Here, 16 versts from Kholmogorsk, was the Black Mountain monastery (which took its name from the mountain, on which a church was built in 1603.) Later, it was called Krasnogorsk (Beautiful Mountain).
Here the merchant delivered the Georgian Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos in 1629, during the reign of Tsar Michael. On August 22, with a large contingent of the faithful, the Icon was reverently placed in the monastery. At the same time, the miraculous healing of the blind and deaf monk Pitirim took place. The subsequent manifestations of the Icon's miraculous power prompted Metropolitan Nikon of Novgorod (later the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia) to investigate. Afterward, from 1650, the annual celebration of this Icon took place on August 22, the day of its arrival at Krasnogorsk Monastery.
From that time, the Georgian Icon of the Mother of God was brought to Arkhangelsk each year with honors. The revered Icon was left for a certain time in the main cathedral of the city, for the sanctification of the city and of the Christ-loving people. During the reign of Tsar Alexei (1645-1676), the miraculous Icon was taken to Vologda, Great Ustyug, Pereyaslavl-Zalessky, and Siberia.
In 1654, Hieromonk Makarios of Krasnogorsk Monastery brought the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (which had been brought from Persia) to Moscow for restoration, and to be covered with a new riza. It was placed in the newly-built church, dedicated to the Life-giving Trinity, at Nikitnikov Lane near the Saint Barbara Gate, where the Kremlin masters carried on their iconographic work. Gregory Nikitnikov had built the church on his property at his own expense (1628-1651). In the church was a chapel dedicated to Saint Nikḗtas (September 15). Members of the Nikitnikov family were also entombed there.
About that time, a plague or pestilence was raging in Moscow. At the request of the master silversmith Gabriel Evdokimov, whose son was near death, a Moleben was served in his house before the Georgian Icon of the Mother of God from Krasnogorsk Monastery. The patient soon recovered. In gratitude for this miraculous healing, a copy of Georgian Icon was made and placed in Holy Trinity church. From that time, the church was also called Georgian.
The gracious help of the Most Holy Theotokos continued to be conferred by the aforementioned copy of her Icon. During the plague epidemic of 1654, the Moscow merchant Stephanov prayed continuously to the Queen of Heaven. The Most Holy Virgin appeared to him three times in a dream saying: "Pray to the Georgian Theotokos, on the Glinishchi at the mills, and you will be spared." The Holy Trinity church at Nikitniki was also called the church of the Great Martyr Nikḗtas (one of the chapels) on Glinishchi, near the mills. The merchant did not take his family from Moscow as he intended, but began to pray fervently in the Holy Trinity church. The epidemic did not touch him or his family.
The Churchwide celebration of the Georgian Icon of the Mother of God was established with the blessing of Patriarch Nikon in 1654. In 1698, the caretaker of the Moscow printing house Theodore Polikarpov compiled a
second edition of the Service.
After the liberation of Moscow from Napoleon's troops, on December 1, 1812 the wonderworking Georgian Icon of the Mother of God, along with other miraculous Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos (Vladimir, Iveron, and Assuage my Sorrows) were carried in solemn procession around the Kremlin.
In 1904, a chapel was built in Holy Trinity church in honor of the Georgian Icon of the Mother of God. Now this Icon is in the church of the Holy Trinity in Nikitnikov (Razin Street).
Miraculous healings were granted by the Most Holy Theotokos through her wonderworking Icon, which were documented and verified at the end of the XIX century. For example, on June 17, 1887, Lydia Tserkovnitskaya, the wife of a priest in the village of Shuysk, Vologda Province, was critically ill. She recovered after praying before the wonderworking Georgian Icon. There is historical evidence of four more Georgian icons of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Concerning the Georgian Icon of the Mother of God, which was in Moscow's Alekseevsky Convent, church evidence reports that it is not a copy of the Icons from Krasnogorsk Monastery nor from Holy Trinity church at Nikitnikov, which were brought from Georgia. In the same deadly plague epidemic of 1654, one of the nuns at the Alekseev Convent fell ill. While she addressed long prayers to the Heavenly Healer, the sick woman suddenly remembered the miraculous recovery she had heard about from the Icon of the Mother of God, which is in the church of the Life-giving Trinity by Saint Barbara's Gate. However, there was no one to send there. After some time, an unknown monk came to the Convent. Turning to the sick nun, he said: "Do not be sad that the Georgian Icon of the Mother of God cannot be brought here. You have here exactly the same Icon as the one brought from Georgia. You will find it in the cave, and you shall behold God's mercy."
The allegorical meaning of these words became clear afterward in the monastery sacristy, which was laid out like caves, when a hitherto unknown Icon of the Mother of God was discovered. After a Moleben, the miraculous Icon was carried to the cells of the nuns who were suffering from the pestilence. All of them were healed. From that time, the epidemic in Moscow began to abate.
Through the prayerful intercession of the Georgian Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos at the Alekseev Convent, the blind Princess Martha Prozorovskaya received miraculous healing in 1662. She gained her sight by the prayers of her parents, after seven years of serious illness.
To the northwest of Kazan, 18 versts from the city of Sviyazhsk, in the middle of the XVII century was the Raithu communal Hermitage of the Theotokos, which got its name from one of its churches, which was dedicated to the Venerable Fathers slain at Sinai and Raithu (January 14). Tradition states that during the construction of the monastery, Metropolitan Laurence of Kazan, by a revelation from above, sent the best local iconographers to Pinega, to the Krasnogorsk Monastery, which was very far from Kazan, in order to make a faithful copy of the wonderworking Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, which was brought from Persia.
In 1661, a skillfully executed copy of the Georgian Icon of the Mother of God was delivered from Arkhangelsk. It became highly revered by the local population. Subsequently, this Icon was placed in the cathedral church in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos.
In the XVIII century, the pious peasants of the village of Klyucharev, Korchev county, Tver Province, presented the caretaker of the Moscow Archangel Cathedral with a copy of the Georgian Icon of the Mother of God, which became highly regarded by the locals, when the rye crop was threatened with destruction in the late 1860s. Vast fields of newly-sprouted crops were being eaten by an unknown worm, and nothing they did was of any use. Then the peasants prayed for help to the Most Holy Theotokos, whose Georgian Icon they revered. After a Cross Procession around the fields with the Icon, a sudden, unprecedented torrential rain fell. Streams of water washed the worms out of the ground, which were eaten by a large flock of birds. See also other revered copies of the Georgian Icon of the Mother of God in the Protection church at Vorontsov Field, and in the Holy Cross Church in the city of Tula.
The Icon disappeared after the closure of the monastery (1920-1922), and later it was returned to the monastery. In his 1946 report to the Moscow Patriarchate, Bishop Leonty (Smirnov) of Arkhangelsk states that the Georgian Icon was carried in a procession, which took place at Arkhangelsk in 1946. The further fate of the Georgian Icon is unknown.
Saint Bogolep lived during the XV and XVI centuries and was a disciple of Saint Paisios of Uglich (June 6). The Yaroslavl Paterikon (1912) credits Saint Bogolep with finding the wonderworking Icon of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos in 1482, which is mentioned in the Life of Saint Paisios. The Life states that "a certain baker" from the Uglich men's Monastery of the Lord's Theophany (later called Protection) went to the Volga early one morning for water. On the shore under the mountain he saw an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. It is not known how it came to the Monastery. The monk ran to the Monastery and reported the incident to Saint Paisios. That baker was Saint Bogolep, who had worked as a baker when he was still in the world. After entering the Monastery, he carried out the same obedience.
Because of his piety and humility, Saint Basil was ordained as a priest before his death, and was tonsured into the Schema.
The date of Saint Basil's local glorification is not known. His Feast Day is celebrated on August 22, perhaps because the martyr Theoprepios (Феопрепий in Russian), who suffered martyrdom in the IV century with Saint Agathonikos of Nikomedia, is commemorated on that date.
The local canonization of Saint Bogolep was confirmed with the inclusion of his name in the Synaxis of the Rostov-Yaroslavl Saints, by the decision of His Holiness Patriarch Alexei I of Moscow and the Holy Synod on March 10, 1964.
The Synaxis of the Rostov-Yaroslavl Saints is celebrated on May 23/June 5.
Saint Isaac (Antimonov) fell asleep in the Lord on August 22, 1894.
The Moscow Patriarchate authorized local veneration of the Optina Elders on June 13,1996, glorifying them for universal veneration on August 7, 2000.