THE COMMEMORATION OF THE MIRACLE WROUGHT BY ARCHANGEL MICHAEL IN COLOSSAE (CHONAE)
The Commemoration of the Miracle Wrought by Archangel Michael in Colossae (Chonae), Holy Martyr Calodote
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE HEBREWS 2:2-10
Brethren, if the message declared by angels was valid and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his own will. For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, “What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou carest for him? Thou didst make him for a little while lower than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for every one. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering.
The Lord said to his disciples, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”
Commemoration of the Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Colossae
In Phrygia, not far from the city of Hieropolis, in a place called Cheretopos, there was a church named for the Archangel Michael, built over a miraculous spring.
This church was built by a certain inhabitant of the city of Laodicia in gratitude to God for healing his mute daughter. The holy Chief Commander Michael appeared to this man in a dream and revealed to him that his daughter would receive the gift of speech after drinking from the water of the spring. The girl actually did receive healing and began to speak. After this miracle, the father and his daughter and all their family were baptized. In fervent gratitude, the father built the church in honor of the holy Chief Commander Michael. Not only did Christians begin to come to the spring for healing, but also pagans. In so doing, many of the pagans turned from their idols and were converted to the faith in Christ.
At this church of the holy Chief Commander Michael, a certain pious man by the name of Archippus served for sixty years as church custodian. By his preaching and by the example of his saintly life he brought many pagans to faith in Christ. With the general malice of that time towards Christians, and especially against Archippus, the pagans thought to destroy the church in order to prevent people from coming to that holy place of healing, and at the same time kill Archippus.
Toward this end they made a confluence of the Lykokaperos and Kufos Rivers and directed its combined flow against the church. Saint Archippus prayed fervently to the Chief Commander Michael to ward off the danger. Through his prayer the Archangel Michael appeared at the temple, and with a blow of his staff, opened a wide fissure in a rock and commanded the rushing torrents of water to flow into it. The temple remained unharmed. Seeing such an awesome miracle, the pagans fled in terror. Archippus and the Christians gathered in church glorified God and gave thanks to the holy Archangel Michael for the help. The place where the rivers plunged into the fissure received the name “Chonae”, which means “plunging.”
The Chudov (“of the Miracle”) monastery in Moscow is named for this Feast.
Martyrs Eudoxius, Zeno, and Macarius
The Martyrs Eudoxius, Zeno, Macarius and their Companions received a martyric death for Christ under the emperor Maximian Galerius, the successor of the emperor Diocletian.
Saint Eudoxius held the high position of a military commander in the imperial armies. He was a Christian, as were his friend Zeno and his house steward Macarius. After the emperor Diocletian issued an edict that Christians who refused to offer sacrifice to idols were to be put to death, many people fled to various lands with their families to avoid torture and death. At this time Saint Eudoxius resigned his high position, and with his wife Saint Basilissa and all their family abandoned their property and went into hiding in the region of Armenian Melitene.
The governor of Melitene sent soldiers to search for Eudoxius. When they found Eudoxius, he was attired in white garb. Not recognising him, the soldiers began to question whether a certain military commander Eudoxius had come into these parts. Not revealing who he was, the saint invited the soldiers into his home, fed them and gave them lodging for the night.
Saint Eudoxius considered his encounter with the soldiers as a sign from the Lord of his impending death by martyrdom. In the morning, he disclosed to his guests that he was the one whom they were seeking. In gratitude for the hospitality, the soldiers offered to conceal from the authorities that they had found Saint Eudoxius. However, the saint would not consent to this.
Setting his affairs in order, he told his wife not to weep for him, but on the contrary to celebrate the day of his martyric death. Donning his military garb, he went with the soldiers to the governor. Saint Basilissa and his friends Saints Zeno and Macarius followed after Saint Eudoxius.
The governor tried to persuade Saint Eudoxius to offer sacrifice to the idols and by this safeguard his life, exalted rank and property. Saint Eudoxius firmly refused, denouncing the folly of anyone who would worship soulless idols. He removed his soldier’s belt, the emblem of his authority, and threw it in the governor’s face.
Soldiers present at this, secret Christians, did the same thing, and they numbered more than a thousand men. The embarrassed governor asked the emperor what he should do. He was ordered to try the ringleaders and set the others free.
After prolonged tortures, they led Saint Eudoxius forth to execution. Following after her husband, Saint Basilissa wept, and his friend Saint Zeno also wept for the martyr. Saint Eudoxius again urged his wife not to mourn him, but rather to rejoice that he was worthy of the crown of martyrdom. He asked that she bury his body in a place called Amimos.
To his weeping friend Saint Zeno Saint Eudoxius predicted that they would enter the Kingdom of Heaven at the same time. Emboldened by these words, Zeno loudly declared himself a Christian, for which he was immediately sentenced to death.
Later, Saint Basilissa took her husband’s body without hindrance, and buried it in the place where he had requested. After this, they arrested the saint and led her before the governor. Desiring to share the fate of her husband, she fearlessly denounced both the governor and his false gods, the idols. The governor, however, saw her intent and would not torture her, but instead sent her away. As she left, the saint said to him that God would see her intention to suffer for her faith and would accept this intent as an accomplished deed.
Seven days later, Saint Eudoxius appeared to his wife in a vision and bade her to inform his friend and house steward Macarius, that both he and Saint Zeno awaited the arrival of Macarius. Macarius immediately went to the governor and declared himself a Christian, for which he was sentenced to death and beheaded. Many Christians also suffered martyrdom during this time.
Saint Archippus of Herapolis
Saint Archippus, son of devout Christians from the city of Hieropolis, at age ten went to pray in the church of the holy Chief Commander Michael and he remained at this temple to serve as church caretaker. He led a strict and ascetic manner of life, constantly at fasting and prayer.
He persuaded many pagans who came to the holy spring to accept holy Baptism, to forsake pagan impiety, and to turn to the One True God and Savior Jesus Christ. Tenacious pagans headed by idolous priests repeatedly tried to kill Saint Archippus, but each time the Lord delivered him out of their hands.
Finally, the pagans devised a plan to destroy the church and at the same time kill also Archippus by flooding the spot where both the church and the curative spring stood. Seeing the preparations for this wicked deed, Saint Archippus firmly resolved not to abandon the holy place, and he prayed to God and to the Archangel Michael to preserve the church and the spring. The Lord heard his prayer, and the saint witnessed the great Miracle of the Chief Commander Michael at Colossae. Miraculously delivered from death, Saint Archippus lived at the church into his old age, and he died peacefully at the age of 70. Christians buried the saint at Colossae, at the place of his deeds.
Martyr Romulus and with him many others
The Martyr Romulus lived during the reign of the emperor Trajan (98-117) and was a confidant of the emperor by virtue of his office of military commander. At the time, Trajan was waging war in the East to put down uprisings against the Romans by the Iberians, Sarmatians, and Arabs.
In the year 107, and again a second time in 115, the emperor conducted a review of the military strength of his army, and found in his troops upwards of 11,000 Christians. Trajan immediately sent these Christians into exile in Armenia in disgrace. Saint Romulus, in view of this, reproached the emperor for his impiety and the sheer folly to diminish the army’s strength during a time of war. Saint Romulus, moreover, acknowledged that he himself was a Christian. The enraged Trajan had the holy martyr subjected to a merciless beating, after which Saint Romulus was beheaded.
The Christian soldiers sent into exile in Armenia were killed by various forms of execution.
Hieromartyr Cyril, Bishop of Gortyna
The Hieromartyr Cyril, Bishop of Gortyna, lived during the time of the emperor Diocletian and his co-emperor Maximian (284-305). As a Christian he was brought to trial before the governor Agrippina and after interrogation he was thrown into prison. One night the saint heard a voice commanding him to go to Rome.
In the morning the doors of the prison were open, and the idols overthrown and destroyed. On the road to Rome Saint Cyril had a vision: Saint Philoxenos appeared and said that he would receive two crowns, one of a hierarch and the other of a martyr.
At Rome, Saint Cyril rendered great help to the Church by his preaching. When a persecution against Christians started up, Saint Cyril went to Jerusalem to encourage the Christians living there. Along the way he had a vision and received a command not to neglect Crete.
When he arrived there, Saint Cyril was chosen bishop of the city of Gortyna. He was then 60 years of age. Still on the episcopal throne of Gortyna at age 95, Saint Cyril was brought to trial at the start of a new persecution against Christians and sentenced to death. He was beheaded with the sword in the vicinity of Raukos at the beginning of the fourth century.
Saint Cyril is commemorated on June 14 on the Greek calendar.
Martyrs Cyriacus, Faustus the Presbyter, Abibas the Deacon, and 11 others, at Alexandria
The Martyrs Cyriacus, Faustus the Presbyter, (Habib) Abibas the Deacon, and eleven other martyrs suffered martyrdom for Christ at Alexandria under the emperor Decius (249-251). During the persecution, they all steadfastly confessed themselves as Christians before the governor Valerius. They were beheaded by the sword, about the year 250. Their bodies were buried by Christians in Alexandria.
Saint David of Hermopolis, Egypt
Saint David of Egypt before his entry into a monastery was the leader of a band of bandits in Egypt, in the desert of Hermopolis. He had committed many murders and other wicked deeds. As he grew older, he contemplated his life and was filled with fear because of his past crimes. Leaving his gang of bandits, he went to the monastery intending to repent of his wickedness.
He begged the igumen to accept him as one of the brethren, but the igumen refused. He explained to David that their monastic life was very severe and would be beyond his strength. David persisted and finally, he revealed to the igumen, that he was the notorious robber David. He said that if they did not accept him, he would return to his former life, then come back and plunder the monastery and kill the monks.
Then the igumen allowed him into the monastery, and to the surprise of all, David became an excellent monk. By his severe efforts David surpassed all the monks. After a certain time the Lord sent the Archangel Gabriel to David to say that the Lord had forgiven him. Saint David, in his great humility, could not believe that the Lord would forgive such a great sinner as he was, in such a short time. The Archangel then said to him, that because of his doubt David would become speechless. David asked that he should be permitted to say his prayers, monastic rule and share in the church services. This was granted him, but the rest of the time he remained speechless. Towards the end of his life, Saint David received from God the power to perform miracles. He healed many of the sick and cast out evil spirits. Having lived in such manner for many years, he fell asleep in the Lord.
Hieromartyr Maxim Sandovich
Saint Maxim was born in 1886 in Zdynia in the Lemko region of Carpatho-Rus which was then a part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in present day Poland. His father, Tymofej, was the cantor of Zydnia’s Greek Catholic church. After completing his education in the nearby town of Jaslo and Nowy Sacz, he entered the Greek Catholic Basilian monastery in Krakow. Dissatisfied with the attempts to Latinize the Eastern rite to make it more acceptable to the Roman Catholic majority and also attempts to denationalize the Rusyns, he crossed the border into the Russian empire and entered the famed Orthodox monastery at Pochaev. It was while at the monastery that his outstanding potential attracted the attention of the illustrious Bishop Anthony (Khrapovitsky) who enrolled him in the Orthodox seminary in Zhitomir.
He completed his seminary studies in 1911 and that same year married Pelagia Grigoryuk and was ordained to the Holy Priesthood. At that time in the Lemko region there was a growing movement away from the Greek Catholic Church to the Orthodox Faith of their ancestors. Fr. Maxim returned home to serve the Orthodox faithful in the villages of Hrab, Vysovatka and Dovhe. After serving his first Divine Liturgy in Hrab on December 2, 1911, the Austrian authorities, suspicious of the Orthodox Faith for its alleged “Russian sympathies,” issued an order forbidding any further Orthodox services. Father Maxim ignored the order and continued to conduct services in village homes. He was repeatedly fined and held under temporary arrest. Before Pascha in 1912, he was again arrested with his friend and spiritual father, Father Ignatij Hudyma, and held in prison for two years in a Lviv prison until their trial began on March 9, 1914. After being found not guilty he immediately returned to his native village and continued minister to his Orthodox parishioners.
With the outbreak of World War I, Father Maxim was again arrested and imprisoned on August 4, 1914 along with his entire family. Father Maxim, his father, mother, brother, and wife were forced to travel on foot to the prison while being prodded by the bayonets of the soldiers. In prison they were placed in separate cells and denied the opportunity to see each other. This time, however, there would be no court trial. On the morning of September 6, Father Maxim awoke in his cell and read his morning prayers as usual. Austrian soldiers led the twenty-eight year old priest from his cell to a wall in the prison courtyard where he was bound and blindfolded. As he was being led from his cell Father Maxim realized where they were taking him and humbly and with dignity asked, “Be so good as not to hold me. I will go peacefully wherever you wish.” There they ripped his priestly cross from his chest and threw it to the dirt, marking an “X” with chalk over his heart for a target. Before the command to execute the priest was given, Father Maxim was heard to shout: “Long live the Rus’ people, long live Orthodoxy!” As the shots rang out the martyr slumped to the ground. To assure that he was dead three more blasts of a revolver were emptied into his head. On September 12, Saint Maxim’s father, his pregnant wife, and brother were sent to the concentration camp at Talerhof in the far western part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. While in the camp Pelagia gave birth to a son she named Maxim in honor of his father. Like his father, the younger Maxim also entered the priesthood serving the Lemko Rusyn people faithfully until his death in 1991.
In September 1994, the official glorification of Saint Maxim began in the courtyard of the Gorlice Court House where the saint had been martyred, where a bronze plaque marking the tragic event was placed on the wall. Following this service, a procession of hierarchs, including our Metropolitan Nicholas of blessed memory, clergy and faithful entered the Holy Trinity Church in Gorlice for the service of glorification.
For the glorification of a saint, ordinarily the saint’s relics would be exhumed from their grave and transferred in procession to the church. The bishops of the Orthodox Church of Poland decided to delay the transfer, fearing it would provoke the areas’ Roman Catholics who reluctantly tolerate the Orthodox presence. Finally on September 5-6, 2007, the martyr’s relics were transferred from the village cemetery in Zdynia to the Holy Trinity Church in Gorlice, Poland where they are enshrined on the right side of the icon screen.
The Witness of Martyrs
Our Lord said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). The life of this new hieromartyr (priest-martyr) echo the words of Jesus. Saint Maxim had no fear of threats from the government, imprisonment, abuse, insults and even a firing squad. When this newly-ordained priest was arrested for serving an Orthodox Divine Liturgy his first action on being freed was to immediately return to his flock and resume his priestly ministry. The Lord’s words in the Book of Revelation apply well to Saint Maxim: “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
In my many years working as a hospice chaplain I have often been summoned by doctors and nurses to the bedside of a terminally ill patient who is fearful of his approaching death. These medical professionals assume, rightly so, that it is primarily an active faith that can help a person face this fear. The promise of the Lord Jesus to us is that if we believe in Him and our lives are joined to His we have nothing to fear in death. But while the death and resurrection of our Savior have removed our fear of death, Jesus does not desire that all of our fears vanish. He does want us to be afraid of something! He wants us to be afraid of the right things, to be fearful of things that should be fear: “…fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). The life of Saint Maxim Sandovich, faithful priest shines forth this truth!
— Father Edward Pehanich
Icon of the Mother of God of Kiev-Bratsk
The Kiev-Bratsk Icon of the Mother of God was at first in the church of Saints Boris and Gleb in the city of Vyshgorod (Kiev), where it miraculously appeared in the year 1654. In 1662, when Russia was at war with Poland (1659-1667), the city was dealt heavy losses by the Crimean Tatars fighting on the side of the Polish. The temple of the holy Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb was destroyed and defiled. But the Providence of God preserved the holy wonderworking icon of the Mother of God, which was taken out of the church beforehand and set off along the Dniepr. The relics of the saints were hidden beneath a crypt.
The river carried the icon to the Podol section of Kiev, where it was joyfully taken up by the Orthodox and with due reverence transferred to the Bratsk (Brotherhood) monastery. The icon is described in the records of church property of the Kiev-Bratsk monastery, made in the year 1807.
There existed a “Song about the Wonderworking Kiev-Bratsk Icon of the Mother of God”, compiled soon after the year 1692. The Kiev-Bratsk Icon of the Mother of God is commemorated four times during the year: September 6, May 10, June 2, and on Saturday of the Fifth Week of Great Lent. All these days are dedicated to the miraculous appearance of the holy icon in 1654. The original icon has not been preserved. The copy was painted from it “measure for measure,” and is at present located in the Kiev monastery of the Protection of the Mother of God.
“Arapet” Icon of the Mother of God
The Arapet, or “Arabian” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos appeared while the holy Apostle Thomas (October 6) was evangelizing Ethiopia, Arabia, and India.
Instead of the usual three stars (signifying the perpetual virginity of the Mother of God), the outer garment of the Theotokos has three circles with the head of an angel inside each one. In this feature, it resembles the icons “In Giving Birth you Preserved your Virginity” (“A Virgin Before and After Giving Birth”) (October 17) and “O All-Hymned Mother” (October 6).