11TH WEDNESDAY AFTER PENTECOST
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Eutyches the Hieromartyr & Disciple of St. John the Theologian, Cosmas of Aetolia, Equal to the Apostles, The Translation of the Relics of Dionysios of Zakynthos, Bishop of Aegina, The Translation of the Holy Relics of Saint Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow
ST. PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 3:4-11
Brethren, such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit; for the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Now if the dispensation of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such splendor that the Israelites could not look at Moses' face because of its brightness, fading as this was, will not the dispensation of the Spirit be attended with greater splendor? For if there was splendor in the dispensation of condemnation, the dispensation of righteousness must far exceed it in splendor. Indeed, in this case, what once had splendor has come to have no splendor at all, because of the splendor that surpasses it. For if what faded away came with splendor, what is permanent must have much more splendor.
The Lord said to the Jews who had come to him, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, saying, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all this will come upon this generation.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'
The Hieromartyr Eutyches, a disciple of the holy Apostles John the Theologian and Paul, lived from the first century into the beginning of the second century, and was from the Palestinian city of Sebastea.
Although Saint Eutyches is not one of the 70 Apostles, he is called an Apostle because of his labors with the older Apostles, by whom he was made bishop. After hearing about Christ the Savior, Saint Eutyches first became a disciple of the Apostle John the Theologian. Later he met the Apostle Paul, and preached together with him on the early journeys.
Saint Eutyches underwent many sufferings: they starved him with hunger, beat him with iron rods, they threw him into the fire, and then to be devoured by wild beasts. Once, a lion was let loose upon the saint, which astonished everyone because it praised the Creator with a human voice. The hieromartyr Eutyches completed his labors in his native city, where he was beheaded with a sword at the beginning of the second century.
Saint Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow, died on December 21, 1326. The first transfer of his relics was on July 1, 1472 and a feastday was established. The second transfer of the relics of Saint Peter was after the consecration of the Dormition Cathedral, rebuilt on August 24, 1479, and the July 1 feastday was replaced.
There was a feastday of the appearance of the relics of Saint Peter (August 4) upon the occasion of an appearance to the wife of Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584), the Tsaritsa Anastasia (1547-1560). Saint Peter appeared to Tsaritsa Anastasia and would permit no one to open his grave. He commanded the grave to be sealed and a feastday established.
Three epistles of Saint Peter are preserved. The first was to priests with an exhortation to pursue their pastoral service worthily, and to tend their spiritual children with zeal. It concluded with an account of Church law concerning widowed priests, and intended to protect them from reproach and temptation. He advised them to settle in a monastery, and for their children to be enrolled in a monastery school for upbringing and instruction. In the second missive, the saint urged priests to be true pastors and not hirelings, and to be concerned about the strengthening of themselves with Christian and pastoral virtues. In the third letter, Saint Peter again exhorts priests concerning their pastoral obligations, and he urges laypeople to fulfill the commandments of Christ.
Prominent in church-state affairs, there was good reason even for his contemporaries to compare Saint Peter with Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. The principal effort of Saint Peter was in the struggle for an unified Russian state and the blessing of Moscow as the unifier of the Russian land.
Saint Arsenius of Komel was born in Moscow, and was descended from a noble family, the Sakharusov. In his youth he was tonsured at the Trinity-Sergiev monastery, and he occupied himself there with the copying of books. There is a Gospel that he copied in the year 1506. In the years 1525-1527 the monk was igumen at the Trinity-Sergiev monastery. He often withdrew to the solitary Makrisch monastery. Great Prince Basil IV (1505-1533), making a visit to the monastery at that time, was surprised to behold the igumen of a prosperous monastery in old clothes covered with patches. The brethren explained that Saint Arsenius wished to travel in the wilderness.
Setting out together with his own cell elder to the Komel forest located 50 versts from Vologda, Saint Arsenius made a large wooden cross, and with this cross on his shoulders he set out through the forest to pick out a spot for a future monastery. Coming to a marshy place through a swamp, the monk stumbled under the heavy cross and fell. A heavenly beam of light flashed upon the ascetic at this very moment and convinced him to establish his monastery on this site. He set up the cross and built the first cell.
The local inhabitants, went there to hunt wild animals, and killed the disciple of Saint Arsenius. He himself was forced to withdraw into the Shelegod forest. Several monks soon gathered at his new monastery, and afterwards fugitives from a Tatar incursion upon the surrounding populace settled there. Saint Arsenius, seeking after silence, desired to live in a quieter spot.
In the year 1530 Great Prince Basil gave him a deed for land in the Komel forest at the Kokhtisha River. The monk began here to clear the forest together with his disciple Gerasimus. By prayer, the saint tamed the wild beasts. When several monks had gathered about him, he built a church in honor of the Placing of the Veil of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Visiting the Shelegod monastery, the monk instructed the peasants who had settled in the area of the monastery. He bid them reverently to observe feastdays and Sundays. Once when a peasant who had heard him started to work on a feastday, a wind suddenly arose scattering all his sheaves.
Having spent his life in fasting, prayer and constant work, Saint Arsenius died on August 24. 1550. His Life was written soon after his death, but burned in a fire in the Komel monastery in 1596. In shortened form, it was restored from the surviving manuscripts and augmented with posthumous miracles by John, a monk of the monastery.
A hundred years later after the death of the saint, the igumen Joasaph built a stone church at the monastery in honor of the Placing of the Veil of the Most Holy Theotokos. The left chapel of the church was dedicated to Saint Sergius of Radonezh, and the right chapel to Saint Arsenius of Komel.
The Martyr Tation lived in Bythnia and suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). When the persecutors of Christians learned that he believed in Christ, they arrested him and took him to the city of Claudiopolis to the governor, Urban.
Many times they urged the saint to deny Christ, and they locked him in prison and gave him over to various tortures. They beat him with sticks and dragged him beyond the city for execution. The holy martyr, after making the Sign of the Cross, died along the way.
The martyr Syra lived during the sixth century in Persia and was the daughter of an illustrious pagan priest of the fire-worshippers (i.e. Zoroastrians) from Karkh-Seleucia in Elimiade (Abizarde). Syra’s father, fearing the influence of Christianity on his daughter, sent her to the city of Tharsis after the death of her mother to be educated as a pagan priestess.
Syra became a priestess at the heathen temple of fire, and occupied herself with honorable activity. But once, after speaking with some Christian beggars, Syra believed in Christ the Savior and began to live as a Christian. She began to learn prayers and Psalms, to fast and to read Christian books.
Syra once fell ill. She was not able to find a remedy for her sickness, so she went to the Christian church and asked the priest only to give her some of the ashes from the church, hoping to receive healing from them. The priest, knowing Syra to be a servitor of idols, refused her request.
Syra was not angered, recognizing her own unworthiness, but with faith she touched the robe of the priest, as the woman with the issue of blood once touched the robe of the Savior (Mt. 9: 20-22). She immediately received healing and she returned home healed.
Syra’s family began to suspect that she wanted to accept Christianity, and they asked Syra’s stepmother to persuade her to abandon this intention. The stepmother, pretending that she herself was a secret Christian, talked sweetly with Syra, telling her to keep her faith secret. She also told Syra to continue to serve the fire outwardly, so she would not fall away from Christ altogether by being subjected to torture.
Syra began to hesitate about accepting Baptism, but when she saw a vision in her sleep about the desolate fate which befell her mother after her death, and about the luminous abodes foreordained for Christians, she made up her mind and went to the bishop, asking him to baptize her. The bishop declined to fulfill her request, fearing to give the pagan priests a reason for persecuting Christians. Besides this, he thought that Syra, fearing her father’s wrath, would deny Christ. The bishop advised her first to openly confess her faith in the Savior before her kinsfolk.
Once during the morning sacrifice, Saint Syra was stoking the priestly fire worshipped by the Persians as their god, and overturning the sacrifice she proclaimed loudly: “I am a Christian and reject false gods and I believe in the True God!”
The father beat his daughter until he became exhausted, and then threw her in prison. With tears and entreaties he urged her to return to her former faith, but Syra was unyielding. The father then denounced her to the pagan high priest, and afterwards to the governor and to the emperor Chozroes the Elder.
They tortured the holy maiden for a long time in prison, but the Lord strengthened her, and she stood firmly on her faith in Christ. After she bribed the prison guard, Saint Syra went to the bishop and received Baptism. The Lord granted Saint Syra the gift of wonderworking. When the Persians gave the martyr over for the leering of impious men, they began to jeer at the saint, saying: “What’s the fable told about you, that the chains fall from your neck, hands and legs by themselves? Let us see now how the chains fall off!” Saint Syra prayed in the depths of her heart to the Savior, and immediately the chains fell from her. And this was not the only time.
Succumbing to her tortures, Saint Syra fell deathly ill. She began to entreat the Lord that He not permit her to die from the illness, but rather to grant her a martyr’s crown. The Lord heard her and granted healing. Seeing the martyr healed, the prison guard and jail warden went to dishonor the holy maiden, but the Lord struck one with illness and the other one was struck dead. The martyr was condemned to be strangled.
They conducted the execution with refined cruelty. After a while they left go of the rope, asking the saint whether she wanted to change her mind and remain among the living. But the martyr, barely alive, refused and requested the execution be done quickly. The body of the saint was thrown to dogs to be devoured, but they would not touch it. Christians then buried the body of Saint Syra.
Saint George Limniotes lived during the seventh and eighth centuries and was a monk of the Olympian monastery near Constantinople. He suffered for venerating icons under the Iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian (716-741). They burned his head and cut off his nose. Saint George died in the year 718.
The New Hieromartyr Cosmas, Equal of the Apostles, in the world Constas, was a native of Aitolia. He studied at first under the guidance of the archdeacon Ananias Dervisanos, and afterwards continued his education on Mount Athos, at the Vatopedi school renowned for teachers such as Nicholas Tzartzoulios (from Metsovo) and Eugenius Voulgaris (afterwards in the years 1775-1779 the archbishop of Ekaterinoslav and the Chersonessus).
Remaining on Athos at the Philotheou monastery to devote himself to spiritual labors, he was tonsured a monk with the name Cosmas, and later was ordained hieromonk. The desire to benefit his fellow Christians, to guide them upon the way of salvation and strengthen their faith, impelled Saint Cosmas to seek the blessing of his spiritual fathers and go to Constantinople. There he mastered the art of rhetoric and, having received a written permit of Patriarch Seraphim II (and later from his successor Sophronius) to preach the Holy Gospel.
So the saint began to proclaim the Gospel at first in the churches of Constantinople and the surrounding villages, then in the Danube regions, in Thessalonica, in Verroia, in Macedonia, Chimaera, Akarnania, Aitolia, on the islands of Saint Maura, Kephalonia and other places.
His preaching, filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, was simple, calm, and gentle. It brought Christians great spiritual benefit. The Lord Himself assisted him and confirmed his words with signs and miracles, just as He had confirmed the preaching of the Apostles.
Preaching in the remote areas of Albania, where Christian piety had almost disappeared among the rough and coarse people entrenched in sin, Saint Cosmas led them to sincere repentance and improvement with the Word of God.
Under his guidance, church schools were opened in the towns and villages. The rich offered their money for the betterment of the churches, for the purchase of Holy Books (which the saint distributed to the literate), veils (which he gave women, admonishing them to come to church with covered heads),for prayer ropes and crosses (which he distributed to the common folk), and for baptismal fonts so that children could be baptized in the proper manner.
Since the churches could not accommodate everyone wanting to hear the wise preacher, Saint Cosmas with forty or fifty priests served the Vigil in the fields, and in city squares, where thousands of people prayed for the living and for the dead, and were edified by his preaching. Everywhere that Saint Cosmas halted and preached, the grateful listeners set up a large wooden cross, which remained thereafter in memory of this.
The apostolic service of Saint Cosmas was brought to a close by his martyric death in the year 1779. At 65 years of age, he was seized by the Turks and strangled. His body was thrown into a river, and after three days, was found by the priest Mark and buried near the village of Kolikontasi at the monastery of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos. Afterwards, part of his relics were transferred to various places as a blessing.
He was glorified by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1961.
The Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Of Saint Peter” was so called because it was painted by Saint Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow (+ December 21, 1326) while he was igumen of the Ratsk monastery near Volhynia. During a visit to the Ratsk monastery by Saint Maximus, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia (+ December 6, 1306), Saint Peter gave him this icon as a gift. The Metropolitan took it to Vladimir at Klyazma, where his cathedral was then located.
Upon the death of Saint Maximus, the igumen Gerontius, who wished to become the new metropolitan, intended to take this icon to Patriarch Athanasius of Constantinople (October 24). The journey of Igumen Gerontius was delayed, however, by a terrible storm at sea. During this storm, the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to him and said: “The office of bishop will not be conferred upon you, but rather on the one who painted My Icon.”
When he came before Patriarch Athanasius, Saint Peter was already in Constantinople and had been consecrated as Metropolitan. The Patriarch gave the icon to Saint Peter with the words: “Take the holy icon of the Mother of God, which you painted with your own hands, for this reason the Ever-Virgin Herself has granted you this gift, and She foretold your path.”
Saint Peter took the icon to Vladimir, and when the metropolitan cathedral was transfered to Moscow in the year 1325, the icon was placed in the Dormition Cathedral above the table of oblation.
Saint Martyrius, Archbishop of Novgorod, was born in Stara Rus. On the northeast side of the city, near the right bank of the Polista River he founded in the year 1192 the Transfiguration men’s monastery.
At the Novgorod cathedral, Saint Martyrius was chosen by lot after the death of Saint Gregory (May 24). On December 10, 1193 in Kiev, he was elevated to the rank of archbishop. Saint Martyrius became famous as an indefatigable builder of churches. In May 1195, he contracted for a church in the name of the Mother of God at the city gates. On September 13, 1196, he consecrated a church in honor of the Resurrection of Christ in a new women’s monastery at Lake Myachina.
In January 1197 the saint consecrated a church in honor of Saint Cyril of Alexandria at the men’s monastery of the same name 3 versts from Novgorod. In the year 1197, he contracted in the carpenter’s quarter of Novgorod for a women’s monastery in the name of the holy Great Martyr Euphemia, built by devout young women of the city.
In January 1197 Saint Martyrius consecrated at the Transfiguration monastery in Stara Rus a temple dedicated to Saint Nikēphóros, Patriarch of Constantinople. In May 1198, he began to build a stone church in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord, and on August 15 of the same year he consecrated it.
In that same year Princess Elena, wife of Prince Yaroslav Vladimirovich, built on the merchants’ side at Molotkova a church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos at the monastery, founded by Saint Martyrius. The church was built in memory of the following miracle. A certain devout man of Novgorod went to church each day. Once he returned home, and became tired, fell asleep, and dropped a prosphora stamped with the image of the Theotokos. The dogs, smelling bread, ran up to the prosphora but jumped away, driven off by an invisible power.
Great Prince Vsevolod became disaffected with the people of Novgorod. In 1199 Saint Martyrius went to Vladimir with representatives of the townspeople. Along the way, on the shore of Lake Seliger, he died on August 24, 1199. His body was taken to Novgorod to the Martyriev Portico of the Sophia Cathedral, so named because it was built by Saint Martyrius. His icon is in the altar of the Novgorod Sophia Cathedral.
The Appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos to Saint Sergius of Radonezh: Once, late at night, Saint Sergius (1314-1392) was reading an Akathist to the Mother of God. Having finished his habitual rule, he sat down to rest a bit, but suddenly he said to his disciple, Saint Micah (May 6): “Be alert, my child, for we shall have a wondrous visitation.” Scarcely had he uttered these words than a voice was heard: “The All-Pure One approaches!”
Saint Sergius rushed from the cell to the entrance, and suddenly it was illumined by a bright light, brighter than the sun. He beheld nearby in imperishable glory the Mother of God, accompanied by the Apostles Peter and John. Unable to bear such a vision, Saint Sergius reverently prostrated himself before the Mother of God. She said to him, “Fear not, My chosen one! I have come to visit you. Your prayer for your disciples and your monastery has been heard. Do not be troubled, for your habitation shall prosper, not only in your lifetime, but also after your departure to God. I will be with your monastery, supplying its needs abundantly, and protecting it.” Having said this, the Mother of God became invisible.
For a long time Saint Sergius was in an inexpressible rapture, and having come to himself, he raised up Saint Micah. “Tell me, Father,” he asked, “what is the meaning of this miraculous vision? My soul nearly left my body from terror!” But Saint Sergius was silent, and only his luminous face spoke of the spiritual joy which he had experienced. “Wait a bit,” he said finally to his disciple, “my soul also trembles because of this wondrous vision.”
After a while Saint Sergius summoned two of his disciples, Saints Isaac and Simon, and shared with them the vision and the promise of the Theotokos. They all sang a Molieben to the Mother of God. Saint Sergius spent the remaining part of the night without sleep, calling to mind the divine vision.
The appearance of the Mother of God at the cell of Saint Sergius, at the present place of the Serapionov chamber, was on one of the Fridays of the Nativity Fast in the year 1385. The commemoration of the visit of the Mother of God to the Trinity monastery and of Her promise was reverently kept by the disciples of Saint Sergius.
On July 5, 1422 the holy relics of Saint Sergius were uncovered, and soon after an icon of the Appearance of the Mother of God was placed on the grave of Saint Sergius. The icon was honored with great reverence.
In the year 1446 Great Prince Basil (1425-1462) was besieged at the Trinity monastery by the armies of Princes Demetrius Shemyaka and John of Mozhaisk. He barricaded himself into the Trinity cathedral, and when he heard that he was being sought, he took the icon of the Appearance of the Mother of God and with it met Prince John at the southern church doors, saying: “Brother, we kissed the Life-Creating Cross and this icon in this church of the Life-Creating Trinity at this grave of the Wonderworker Sergius, that we would neither intend nor wish any evil to any of our brethren among ourselves. Now I do not know what will happen to me here.”
The Trinity monk Ambrose reproduced the icon of the Appearance of the Mother of God to Saint Sergius, carved in wood (mid-fourteenth century).
Tsar Ivan the Terrible took the icon of the Appearance of the Mother of God on his Kazan campaign (1552). The most famous icon, painted in the year 1588, was by the steward of the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra, Eustathius Golovkin on a board from the wooden reliquary of Saint Sergius, which was taken apart in the year 1585 when the relics of Saint Sergius were placed in a silver reliquary (August 14).
Through this icon, the Mother of God repeatedly protected the Russian army. Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich (1645-1676) took it on the Polish campaign in 1657. In the year 1703, the icon took part in all the military campaigns against the Swedish king Charles XII, and in 1812 Metropolitan Platon sent it to the Moscow military levy. The icon was carried in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, and during World War I it was at the quarters of the supreme commander-in-chief in 1914.
A church was built over the grave of Saint Micah and at its consecration on December 10, 1734 was named in honor of the Appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos and the holy Apostles to Saint Sergius of Radonezh.
On September 27, 1841 the church was restored and consecrated by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, who said: “By the grace of the All-Holy and All-Sacred Spirit the restoration of this temple is now accomplished, fashioned before us in honor and memory of the Appearance of our Lady the Most Holy Theotokos to our holy God-bearing Father Sergius, to which Saint Micah was also an eyewitness.”
The commemoration of this grace-bearing event is rightly marked by the consecration of a church, however, this whole monastery is a memorial of that miraculous visit. Therefore, its purpose in the continuing centuries was the fulfillment of the promise of the heavenly Visitor: “This place shall endure.”
In memory of the visit of the Mother of God at the Trinity-Sergiev monastery, an Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos is sung on Fridays, and a special service in honor of the appearance of the Mother of God is celebrated at the monastery on August 24, on the second day of the leave-taking of the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Saint Serapion was abbot of the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist in the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. He was endowed by God with the ability to work miracles.
Once Saint Serapion set off for the city, following at a short distance behind several of the monastery’s brothers.
While they were traveling, a group of bandits attacked the monks who were walking in front of their abbot and made off with many of the church vessels they were carrying.
Terrified, the monks ran back to Serapion and told him what had happened.
“Great is God!” said Serapion. “I will not permit the unbelievers to steal His sacred things!”
With staff in hand, the elder raced ahead alone in pursuit of the robbers. When the robbers turned back they saw a terrible flame issuing forth from the elder’s staff and became greatly afraid. They abandoned the donkey that had been carrying their spoils and took to their heels.
Another time Serapion suddenly burst out of his cell and cried to the brothers, “Woe is me! Woe is me! Robbers have attacked the servants on their way to the monastery!” Having made this frightening announcement, he returned to his cell and began to pray. After a few hours the distraught servants arrived at the monastery and reported that bandits had attacked them along the way. The servants said that, when fleeing their attackers, they had abandoned the mules that were hauling the monastery’s property. A short time later the mules arrived at the monastery unaccompanied, bearing their load as before.
Saint Serapion eventually abandoned his leadership of the monastery. He was tonsured into the great schema and withdrew into seclusion. Soon after, God revealed to him that his death was near, and he asked the brothers to bury him under the church gates, in a grave that he had prepared for himself. He intended for all who entered there to walk over his grave.
Saint Serapion reposed in the year 1774.