12TH TUESDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Apodosis of the Feast of the Forerunner, Alexander, John, and Paul the New, Patriarchs of Constantinople, Phantinos the Righteous of Calabria, 16 Monk-martyrs of Thebes, 6 Martyrs of Melitene, The Synaxis of the Holy Hierarchs of Serbia, The Holy New Martyrs of Serbia, Fiacre the Hermit of Meaux
ST. PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 5:15-21
Brethren, Christ died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
At that time, Jesus, passing along by the Sea of Galilee, saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boats mending the nets. And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him. And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.
Saints Alexander, John and Paul, Patriarchs of Constantinople, lived at different times, but each of them happened to clash with the activities of heretics who sought to distort the teachings of the Church. Saint Alexander (325-340) was a vicar bishop during the time of Saint Metrophanes (June 4), the first Patriarch of Constantinople.
Because of the patriarch’s extreme age, Alexander substituted for him at the First Ecumenical Synod at Nicea (325). Upon his death, Saint Metrophanes left instructions in his will to elect his vicar to the throne of Constantinople. During these times His Holiness Patriarch Alexander had to contend with the Arians and with pagans. Once, in a dispute with a pagan philosopher the saint said to him, “In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ I command you to be quiet!” and the pagan suddenly became mute. When he gestured with signs to acknowledge his errors and affirm the correctness of the Christian teaching, then his speech returned to him and he believed in Christ together with many other pagan philosophers. The faithful rejoiced at this, glorifying God Who had given such power to His saint.
The heretic Arius was punished through the prayer of Saint Alexander. Arius had apparently agreed to enter into communion with the Orthodox. When the Emperor asked him if he believed as the Fathers of Nicea taught, he placed his hand upon his breast (where he had cunningly concealed beneath his clothes a document with his own false creed written upon it) and said, “This is what I believe!” Saint Constantine (May 21), unaware of the deceitful wickedness of Arius, set a day for receiving him into the Church. All night long Saint Alexander prayed, imploring the Lord not to permit this heretic to be received into communion with the Church.
In the morning, Arius set out triumphantly for the church, surrounded by imperial counselors and soldiers, but divine judgment overtook him. Stopping to take care of a physical necessity, his bowels burst forth and he perished in his own blood and filth, as did Judas (Acts 1:18).
His Holiness Patriarch Alexander, having toiled much, died in the year 340 at the age of 98. Saint Gregory the Theologian (January 25) mentioned him afterwards in an encomium to the people of Constantinople.
The Service to Saint Alexander was printed in Venice in 1771. According to some ancient manuscripts, Saint Alexander ought to be commemorated on June 2. Today he is remembered together with the holy Patriarchs John the Faster (September 2) and Paul the New (eighth century).
Saint John IV the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople (582-595), is famed in the Orthodox Church as the compiler of a penitential Nomokanon (i.e. rule for penances), which has come down to us in several distinct versions, but their foundation is one and the same. These are instructions for priests on how to hear the confession of secret sins, whether these sins have been committed, or are merely sins of intention.
Ancient Church rules address the manner and duration of public penances which were established for obvious and manifest sinners. But it was necessary to adapt these rules for the secret confession of things which were not evident. Saint John the Faster issued his penitential Nomokanon (or “Canonaria”), so that the confession of secret sins, unknown to the world, bore witness to the good disposition of the sinner and of his conscience in being reconciled to God, and so the saint reduced the penances of the ancient Fathers by half or more.
On the other hand, he set more exactly the character of the penances: severe fasting, daily performance of a set number of prostrations to the ground, the distribution of alms, etc. The length of penance is determined by the priest. The main purpose of the Nomocanon compiled by the holy Patriarch consists in assigning penances, not simply according to the seriousness of the sins, but according to the degree of repentance and the spiritual state of the person who confesses.
Among the Greeks, and later in the Russian Church, the rules of Saint John the Faster are honored on a level “with other saintly rules,” and the Nomocanons of his book are accounted “applicable for all the Orthodox Church.” Saint Νikόdēmos of the Holy Mountain (July 14) included him in the Manual for Confession (Exomologitarion), first published in 1794, and in the Rudder (Pedalion), published in 1800.
The first Slavonic translation was done quite possibly by Saint Methodius, Equal of the Apostles, at the same time as he produced the Nomocanon in 50 Titles of the holy Patriarch John Scholastikos, whose successor on the throne of Constantinople was Saint John the Faster. This ancient translation was preserved in Rus in the “Ustiug Rudder” of the thirteenth century, which was published in 1902.
From the sixteenth century in the Russian Church the Nomocanon of Saint John the Faster was circulated in another redaction, compiled by the monks and clergy of Mount Athos. In this form it was repeatedly published at the Kiev Caves Lavra (in 1620, 1624, and 1629).
In Moscow, the Penitential Nomokanon was published in the form of a supplement to the Trebnik (Book of Needs): under Patriarch Joasaph in 1639, under Patriarch Joseph in 1651, and under Patriarch Nikon in 1658. The last edition since that time is that printed in the Great Book of Needs. A scholarly edition of the Nomocanon with parallel Greek and Slavonic texts and with detailed historical and canonical commentary was published by A. S. Pavlov (Moscow, 1897).
Saint John is also commemorated on September 2.
Saint Paul, by birth a Cypriot, became Patriarch of Constantinople (780-784) during the reign of the Iconoclast Emperor Leo IV the Khazar (775-780), and was a virtuous and pious, but timid man. Seeing the martyrdom which the Orthodox endured for the holy icons, the saint concealed his Orthodoxy and associated with the iconoclasts.
After the death of the emperor Leo, he wanted to restore icon veneration but was not able to accomplish this, since the iconoclasts were still quite powerful. The saint realized that it was not in his power to guide the flock, and so he left the patriarchal throne and went secretly to the monastery of Saint Florus, where he took the schema.
He repented of his silence and association with the iconoclasts and spoke of the necessity for convening the Seventh Ecumenical Council to condemn the Iconoclast heresy. Upon his advice, Saint Tarasius (February 25) was chosen to the patriarchal throne. At that time, he was a prominent imperial counselor. The saint died as a schemamonk in the year 804.
Saint Alexander of Svir was born on July 15, 1448, on the Feast Day of the Prophet Amos, and was named for him in Baptism. Saint Alexander was a beacon of monasticism in the deep forests of the Russian North, living in asceticism, and so he received remarkable gifts by the All-Holy Spirit.
His parents, Stephen and Vassa (Vasilisa) were peasants living in the village of Mandera near Lake Ladoga, on the shores of the Oyata River, a tributary of the Svira River. They had adult sons and daughters who had left the home of their parents. Stephen and Vassa longed to have another son, and prayed that God would grant their wish. The couple heard a voice from on high: “Rejoice, good man and wife, you shall bear a son, in whose birth God will give comfort to His Church.”
Amos grew up to be an extraordinary child. He was always obedient and gentle, he avoided games, jokes and foul talk; he wore poor clothing and so weakened himself with fasting that it caused his mother much anxiety. When he came of age, he met some monks from Valaam who had come to the Oyata to purchase various necessities, and on other monastery business.
By this time Valaam was already known as a monastery of great piety and strict ascetic life. After speaking with the monks, the young man was fascinated by their account of Skete life (with two or three monks living together) and the solitary life of the anchorite. Knowing that his parents had arranged a marriage for him, the young man fled secretly to Valaam when he was nineteen. An Angel of the Lord appeared to him the guise of a traveler, and showed him the way to the island.
Young Amos lived at the monastery as a novice for seven years, leading an austere life. He spent his days at work, and his nights in vigil and prayer. Sometimes, he prayed in the forest bare-chested, covered with mosquitoes and gnats, until it was time for Matins.
In the year 1474, Amos was tonsured with the new name Alexander. After several years, his parents eventually learned where their son had gone from some Karelians visiting Mandera. Following the example of their son, the parents also went to monasteries and were tonsured with the names Sergius and Barbara. After their deaths, Saint Alexander, with the blessing of the Igumen of the monastery, settled on an island, where he built a cell in the crevice of a cliff and continued his spiritual endeavors.
The fame of his asceticism spread far and wide. Then in 1485, Saint Alexander departed from Valaam and, after receiving instructions from on high, chose a place in the forest by the shores of a beautiful lake, which was later called Holy Lake. Here he built a shack, living in solitude for seven years, eating only what he gathered in the forest.1
During this time, Alexander experienced terrible suffering from hunger, frost, sickness and demonic temptations, but the Lord sustained the righteous one's spiritual and bodily strength. Once, he was afflicted with a terrible pain in his stomach. Not only was he unable to get up off the ground, but he couldn't even lift his head. He just lay there and chanted Psalms. Then an Angel appeared to him. Placing his hand on the sore spot, he made the Sign of the Cross over the Saint and healed him.
In 1493 while hunting for deer, a nearby landowner named Andrew Zavalishin happened to discover the Saint's cell. Andrew told him of a fiery pillar he had seen over this place, and begged him to tell him about his life. The Saint was deeply saddened by this, because he had not able to hide himself from men. After making the other promise not to tell anyone about him until after his death, Saint Alexander spoke to him about his life in the wilderness, where he had lived for seven years without seeing anyone, how he had subsisted on plants alone, and how he had been healed of a pain in his stomach by an Angel. After that, Andrew began to visit Saint Alexander often. Finally, following the Saint's advice, he went to Valaam, where he was tonsured with the name Adrian. Saint Adrian founded the Ondrusov monastery, and led a holy life (Saint Andrew is commemorated on August 26 and May 17).
Andrew Zavalishin was unable to remain silent about the holy ascetic, despite the promise he had given. News of the righteous one began to spread widely, and soon monks gathered around him. Therefore, Saint Alexander withdrew from the brethren and built a cell 130 sazhen from the monastery. There he encountered a multitude of temptations. The demons assumed the forms of wild animals. Hissing like snakes, they ordered him to leave. Saint Alexander's prayers scorched and scattered the demons like a fiery flame.
In 1508, twenty-three years after he came to this secluded spot, the Life-Creating Trinity appeared to Saint Alexander. One night he was praying in his cell. Suddenly, there was a dazzling light, and he saw three Angels in resplendent white garments approaching him. They shone with a pure brightness greater than the sun. Each held a staff in His hand. Saint Alexander fell down in terror, and after recovering his senses, he prostrated himself upon the ground. Raising him by the hand, the Angels said: “Have faith, blessed one, and do not be afraid.”
The Saint was told to build a church and a monastery. He fell to his knees, protesting his own unworthiness, but the Lord raised him up and ordered him to carry out the instructions he had been given. Saint Alexander asked to whom the church ought to be dedicated. The Lord said: "Beloved, as you see us speaking with you in Three Persons, so build the church in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, the consubstantial Trinity. Peace I leave you; my peace I give you.”
Then Saint Alexander beheld the Lord with outstretched wings, moving along the ground until He became invisible.
This appearance is acknowledged as unique in history of the Russian Orthodox Church After this vision, the Saint began thinking of where to build the church. Once, as he was praying to God, he heard a voice. Gazing up to the heavens, he saw an Angel of the Lord clothed in a mantiya and klobuk, such as Saint Pachomios (May 15) had seen.
The Angel, standing in the air with outstretched wings and upraised hands, proclaimed: “One is Holy, One is the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the Glory of God the Father. Amen.” Then he turned to Saint Alexander saying, “Build a church here in honor of the Lord Who has appeared to you in Three Persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Undivided Trinity.”
After making the Sign of the Cross over the place three times, the Angel became invisible.
In that same year he built a wooden church in honor of the Life-Creating Trinity (a stone church was built here in 1526). At the same time as the church was built, the brethren urged Saint Alexander to be ordained to the holy priesthood. For a long time he refused, considering himself unworthy. Then the brethren implored Saint Serapion, the Archbishop of Novgorod (March 16), to convince him to accept this office. So that very year Saint Alexander went to Novgorod and was ordained by the holy Archbishop. Soon afterward, the brethren also asked the Saint to be their Superior.
As Igumen, Saint Alexander became even more humble than before. He wore tattered clothes, and he slept on the bare ground. He himself prepared food, kneaded dough and baked bread. On one occasion, there was not enough firewood, so the steward asked the Saint to send any unoccupied monks to gather firewood. Saint Alexander replied, "I am not busy." Then he began to chop firewood. Another time, he carried water.
When all were asleep, the saint was often busy grinding wheat with hand-stones to make more bread. Every night, he went around to all the cells, and if he heard vain conversations, he tapped softly on the door and left. In the morning, if the brother readily acknowledged his guilt and repented, he was forgiven. On the other hand, if the brother tried to justify himself, he was admonished and given a penance.
Toward the end of his life, Saint Alexander decided to build a stone church in honor of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos. One evening, after chanting an Akathist to the Mother of God, he settled down to rest in his cell. Suddenly, he said to his cell attendant Athanasios, “Child, be sober and alert, because at this very hour we shall have a wondrous and astounding visitation."
Then a voice like thunder said, “Behold, the Lord and His Mother are coming.”
Saint Alexander hastened to the entrance to the cell, which it was illumined by a great light shining throughout the monastery, brighter than the rays of the sun. The Saint beheld the Most Pure Mother of God upon the foundation of the Protection church, and sitting where the altar would be, like a Queen upon a throne. She held the Infant Christ in her arms, and a multitude of Angels stood before her, with shining with indescribable radiance.
He fell down to the ground, unable to endure the great light. The Most Holy Theotokos said, “Arise, chosen one of my Son and God. I have come here to visit you, my dear one, and to see the foundation of my church. Since you have prayed for your disciples and for your monastery, henceforth they shall have all that they need; not only during your lifetime, but also after your death. I shall be with your monastery always, providing an abundance of what is required. Behold, and note carefully how many are the monks who have come into your flock. You must guide them on the path of salvation in the name of the Holy Trinity.”
The Saint arose and saw a multitude of monks carrying stones and bricks for the foundation. Again the Mother of God said: “My dear one, if someone brings even one brick for the building of my church, in the name of Jesus Christ, my Son and God, he shall not lose his reward.”
After saying this, she became invisible.
A year before his death, Saint Alexander foresaw the time of his departure from this life. He summoned the brethren and gave them his final instructions, commending them to the Mother of God. The brethren wept at the thought of being separated from their beloved Father. When they asked where he wished to be buried he said, "Bind my sinful body by the legs and drop it into a the marsh then, after covering it with moss, trample on it with your feet."
The brethren replied, "No, Father, we cannot do this.”
Then the holy ascetic said that if they would not do as he asked, then they should bury him near the church of the Transfiguration. Saint Alexander departed to the heavenly Kingdom on August 30, 1533 at the age of 85.
Countless miracles of healing took place at his grave for those who came there with faith.
In 1545, his disciple and successor, Igumen Herodion, compiled his Life. In 1547 local veneration of the Saint began and a Service was composed for him. On April 17,1641, during the rebuilding of the Transfiguration church, the incorrupt relics of Saint Alexander of Svir were uncovered, and his universal veneration was established on two dates: the day of his repose, August 30, and on April 17, the day of his glorification (and the uncovering of his relics).
Saint Alexander of Svir instructed a multitude of disciples, just as the Mother of God had promised him. These Include Ignatius of Ostrov, Leonid of Ostrov, Cornelius of Ostrov, Dionysios of Ostrov, Athanasios of Ostrov, Theodore of Ostrov, and Therapon of Ostrov.
In addition to these saints, there are disciples and conversers with Saint Alexander of Svir, who have separate days of commemoration: Saint Athanasios of Syandem (January 18), Saint Gennadios of Vasheozersk (February 9), Saint Makarios of Orodezh (August 9), Saint Adrian of Ondrosov (May 17), Saint Nikephoros of Vasheozersk (February 9), Saint Gennadios of Kostroma and Liubimograd (January 23).
All these saints (except Saint Gennadios of Kostroma) are depicted on the Icon of the monastic Fathers who shone forth in the land of Karelia (the icon is in the church at the Seminary in Kuopio, Finland). The Synaxis of the Saints who have shone forth in Karelia is celebrated by the Finnish Orthodox Church on the Saturday which falls between October 31 and November 6.
The incorrupt relics of Saint Alexander were removed from the Svir Monastery by the Bolsheviks on December 20, 1918 after several unsuccessful attempts to confiscate them. There was an infamous campaign to destroy the relics of the Saints which continued from 1919 to 1922. Many relics of Russsian Saints were stolen and subjected to "scientific examination” or displayed in anti-religious museums. Some of them were completely destroyed.2
A second uncovering of Saint Alexander’s relics took place in December of 1997.
The relics were found to be incorrupt, just as they were when they were confiscated. The saint’s appearance matched the description in the records from 1641. Once it was determined that these were truly the relics of Saint Alexander, Metropolitan Vladimir of Saint Petersburg permitted them to be taken to the church of Saint Sophia and her three daughters Faith, Hope, and Love (September 17) for four months before they were returned to the Monastery. As people venerated Saint Alexander’s relics, they noticed a fragrant myrrh flowing from them.
The holy relics were taken to the Saint Alexander of Svir Monastery in November 1998, and miraculous cures continue to take place before them.
1 Later at this place, Holy Lake, 36 versts from the future city of Olonets and 6 versts from the River Svira, Saint Alexander founded the monastery of the Life-Creating Trinity, and 130 sazhen (i.e. 910 feet) from it, at Lake Roschina, he built a cell on the future site of the Saint Alexander of Svir Monastery.
2 The Soviets conducted many tests, hoping to prove that the relics were fakes. However, the tests only confirmed that the relics were genuine. Finally, the holy relics were sent to Petrograd’s Military Medical Academy, where they remained for almost eighty years.
The Holy Prince Alexander Nevsky (in monastic schema Alexis) died on the return journey from the Horde at Gorodtsa on the Volga, on November 14, 1263, and on November 23, 1263 he was buried in the Cathedral Church of the Nativity Monastery in the city of Vladimir.1
Veneration of the Prince began right at his burial, where a remarkable miracle took place. The saint extended his hand for the prayer of absolution (a written document placed in the coffin). Great Prince John (1353-1359), in his spiritual testament written in the year 1356, left to his son Demetrius (1363-1389), the future victor of the Battle of Kulikovo, “an icon of Saint Alexander.” The incorrupt relics of the holy Prince were uncovered, because of a vision, before the Battle of Kulikovo in the year 1380, and then they were sent forth for a local celebration.
Russian commanders asked for the intercession of the holy Prince, glorified by his defense of the Fatherland, in the following times: On August 30, 1721 Peter I, after a lengthy and exhausting war with the Swedes, concluded the Nishtad Peace. On this day it was decided to transfer the relics of the holy Prince Alexander Nevsky from Vladimir to the new northern capital, Peterburg, on the banks of the Neva. Removed from Vladimir on August 11, 1723, the holy relics were greeted at Shlisselburg on September 20 of that year and remained there until 1724. On August 30, they were placed in the Trinity Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, where they now rest in Saint Petersburg. By an edict on September 2, 1724 a feastday was established on August 30.2
Archimandrite Gabriel Buzhinsky (later Bishop of Ryazan, + April 27, 1731) compiled a special service in remembrance of the Nishtad Peace, combining with it a service to Saint Alexander Nevsky.
The name of the Defender of the borders of Russia and the Patron of Soldiers is famous far beyond the borders of Russia. The numerous temples dedicated to Saint Alexander Nevsky bear witness to this. The most famous of them: the Patriarchal Cathedral at Sofia, the Cathedral church in Talinin, and a church in Tbilisi. These churches are a pledge of friendship of the Russian National-Liberator with brother nations.
1 There is now a memorial to the holy prince at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity Monastery. Another memorial is in the city of Pereslavl-Zalessk.
2 In 1727, the feast was discontinued because of secular matters, which involved clique struggles at the imperial court. In 1730, the Feast was again re-established.
The Holy Prince Daniel of Moscow, who was the son of Saint Alexander Nevsky (November 23 & August 30), went to the Lord on March 4,1303. On August 30, 1652 his relics were uncovered and found to be incorrupt. Later, they were transferred to the church dedicated to the Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. Now they rest in the Danilov Monastery in Moscow. Many of the faithful are healed of their infirmities when they pray at his shrine.
See March 4 for his Life.
Saint Christopher, a Roman, lived during the sixth century. He was tonsured into monasticism at the monastery of Saint Theodosius (January 11) in Palestine, near Jerusalem. The accounts of Abba Theodulus about Saint Christopher are contained in chapters 105 and 234 of the book The Spiritual Meadow (Limonarion)
Once Saint Christopher went to Jerusalem to worship at the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord and at the Life-Creating Cross. At the gateway of the church he beheld a monk not moving from the spot. Two ravens flew before his face. Saint Christopher discerned that these were demons, which held the monk back from entering the church.
He asked the brother: “Why do you stand at the gate and not enter?” The brother answered: “Pardon me, Father, but within me struggle two thoughts. One says: go and venerate the Venerable Cross. The other says: don’t go in, make some excuse, and come to venerate the Cross another time.” Then Saint Christopher took the brother by the hand and led him into the church. The ravens immediately disappeared, and the brother venerated the Cross and the Holy Sepulchre. Saint Christopher told this story to someone who was distracted by his duties and neglected his prayers.
By day Saint Christopher fulfilled his monastic obedience, and by night he retired to a cave, where at an earlier time Saint Theodosius and other Fathers had prayed. At each of the 18 steps leading into the cave, he made 100 prostrations, and spent the greater part of the night in prayer, before the semantron was sounded for Orthros. He spent eleven years doing this. One time, descending into the cave, he beheld a multitude of lamps in it. Two radiant youths were tending them.
“Why have you put the lamps here so that I cannot enter in and pray?” asked the monk.
“These are the lamps of the Fathers,” they replied.
“Tell me, does my lamp burn or not?”
They said, “Pray, and we will light it.”
“Pray?” he said, “What have I been doing up to now?”
Then the saint said to himself: “Christopher, if you wish to be saved, greater effort is needed!”
At dawn he went from the monastery to Mount Sinai, taking nothing with him. The monk toiled there for fifty years at great exploits. Finally, he heard a voice saying, “Christopher! Go to the monastery where you struggled earlier, so that you might rest there with your Fathers.”
Saint Fantinus the Wonderworker was born in Calabria (Italy) of parents George and Vriena. He was given over to a monastery, and from childhood he was accustomed to ascetic deeds. In his youth he wandered into the wilderness, remaining often without food or clothes for twenty days. The monk spent 60 years in such exploits.
Before the end of his life, fleeing before pursuing Saracens, he went with his disciples Vitalius and Nikēphóros to the Peloponnesos (Greece). Preaching the way of salvation, the monk visited Corinth, Athens, Larissa and Thessalonica, where he venerated the relics of the Great Martyr Demetrius (October 26). He died peacefully in extreme old age at the end of the ninth, and beginning of the tenth century.
The Synaxis of Serbian Hierarchs celebrates archpastors of the Serbian Church of the thirteenth—fourteenth centuries. The majority of them have individual days of celebration in addition to this general commemoration.
Saint Archbishop Savva I, January 12.
Saint Arsenius I, Archbishop of Serbia, October 28.
Saint Savva II, Archbishop of Serbia, February 8.
Saint Eustathius I, Archbishop of Serbia, January 4.
Saint Νikόdēmos, Archbishop of Serbia, May 11.
Saint Daniel, Archbishop of Serbia, December 20.
Saint Joannicius II, first Patriarch of Serbia, September 3.
Saint Ephraim II, Patriarch of Serbia, June 15.
Saint James the Serbian Hierarch, commemoration date unknown.
Saint Spyridon, Patriarch of Serbia (1382-1388), was much concerned about the monastic communities during difficult years of civil and ecclesial unrest. He was consecrated by Saint Ephraim II, Patriarch of Serbia (1367-1382), who then withdrew to the Archangelsk monastery of the Dushan church. Saint Spyridon termed Church singing “a spiritual flute,” and evidently he wrote church hymns for the Serbian Church. The saint died at almost the same time as the holy Prince Lazar (June 15), who was killed in the battle with the Turks at Kosovo Pole.
After the death of Saint Spyridon, the guidance of the Serbian Church was again placed upon Saint Ephraim II.
Saint Macarius, Patriarch of Serbia (1557-1574), toiled in particular for the spread of education in Serbia. Many church books were printed in his time. The brother of the saint was vizier under the sultan and assisted in the restoration of monasteries and churches despoiled by Moslem fanaticism, and also with the restoration of the patriarch’s monastery.
Saint Gabriel I, Patriarch of Serbia (family name Raicha), occupied the cathedra in the mid-seventeenth century, a time when the Moslem fanaticism had become intense. In the urgent need for both cathedral and country the saint went to collect alms at Walachia, and from there to Moscow.
In Moscow in 1655, he was present with the Patriarch of Antioch at a Church Council which sought to correct various aspects of church service books in accord with the Greek and Old Slavonic texts. The saint brought several manuscripts and three liturgies printed in the south as gifts to the Russian Church.
The saint returned to Serbia with generous alms for his Church and country. His cathedra had been given to another occupant, and moreover, Austrian Jesuits had slandered him with treason before the vizier. The saint’s innocence was obvious, because the vizier pretended he would spare his life and grant him an important official position, if the saint would betray his faith in the Savior.
“I am completely innocent of state crimes,” said Saint Gabriel, “this you admit yourself. I shall never agree to save my life by betraying the Christian Faith while I remain of sound mind. Keep your riches and honors, for I don’t need them.” After harsh torture, Saint Gabriel was hanged in October 1659.
In the general service of the Serblyak (collective services to Serbian saints) on August 30 are also remembered: Saint Iakov, Archbishop of Serbia (February 3, 1292), the holy Bishop Gregory (a descendant of the renowned Nehemanicha lineage), and also the saints: Archbishop Savva III (1305-1316), and the Patriarchs Cyril, Nikon, John, Maximus.
No information available at this time.