THE COMMEMORATION OF THE MIRACLE OF THE THEOTOKOS MYRTIDIOTISSIS IN KYTHYRA
The Commemoration of the Miracle of the Theotokos Myrtidiotissis in Kythyra, Thecla the Protomartyr & Equal to the Apostles, Silouan of Athos, Stephen the Martyr, The Most Holy Theotokos of Palianis, Coprios the Righteous, Juvenaly & Peter the Aleut, New Martyrs of Alaska
ST. PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO TIMOTHY 3:10-15
TIMOTHY, my son, you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, my sufferings, what befell me at Antioch, at lconion, and at Lystra, what persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
LUKE 10:38-42, 11:27-28
At that time, Jesus entered a village; and a woman called Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve you alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
On the anniversary of the arrival of the Russian missionaries in Alaska (1794), we remember the New Martyrs Saint Peter the Aleut, Protomartyr of America, and Saint Juvenal.
Saint Peter the Aleut is mentioned in the Life of Saint Herman of Alaska (December 13). Simeon Yanovsky (who ended his life as the schemamonk Sergius in the Saint Tikhon of Kaluga Monastery), has left the following account:
“On another occasion I was relating to him how the Spanish in California had imprisoned fourteen Aleuts, and how the Jesuits (actually Franciscans) were forcing all of them to accept the Catholic Faith. But the Aleuts would not agree under any circumstances, saying, ‘We are Christians.’ The Jesuits argued, ‘That’s not true, you are heretics and schismatics. If you do not agree to accept our faith then we will torture all of you to death.’ Then the Aleuts were placed in prisons two to a cell. That evening, the Jesuits came to the prison with lanterns and lighted candles. Again they tried to persuade two Aleuts in the cell to accept the Catholic Faith. ‘We are Christians,’ the Aleuts replied, ‘and we will not change our Faith.’ Then the Jesuits began to torture them, at first the one while his companion was a witness. They cut off one of the joints of his feet, and then the other joint. Then they cut the first joint on the fingers of his hands, and then the other joint. Then they cut off his feet, and his hands. The blood flowed, but the martyr endured all and firmly repeated one thing: ‘I am a Christian.’ He died in such suffering, due to a loss of blood. The Jesuit also promised to torture his comrade to death the next day.
“But that night an order was received from Monterey stating that the imprisoned Aleuts were to be released immediately, and sent there under escort. Therefore, in the morning all were sent to Monterey with the exception of the dead Aleut. This was related to me by a witness, the same Aleut who had escaped torture, and who was the friend of the martyred Aleut. I reported this incident to the authorities in Saint Petersburg. When I finished my story, Father Herman asked, ‘What was the name of the martyred Aleut?’ I answered, ‘Peter. I do not remember his family name.’ The Elder stood reverently before an icon, made the Sign of the Cross and said, ‘Holy New Martyr Peter, pray to God for us!’”
We know very little about Saint Peter, except that he was from Kodiak, and was arrested and put to death by the Spaniards in California because he refused to convert to Catholicism. The circumstances of his martyrdom recall the torture of Saint James the Persian (November 27).
Both in his sufferings and in his steadfast confession of the Faith, Saint Peter is the equal of the martyrs of old, and also of the New Martyrs who have shone forth in more recent times. Now he rejoices with them in the heavenly Kingdom, glorifying God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, throughout all ages.
Saint Juvenal, the Protomartyr of America, was born in 1761 in Nerchinsk, Siberia. His secular name was John Feodorovich Hovorukhin, and he was trained as a mining engineer. In a letter to Abbot Nazarius of Valaam (December 13, 1819), Saint Herman says that Saint Juvenal “had been an assistant at our monastery and was a former officer.”
After his wife died in 1791, John entered a monastery at Saint Petersburg (Saint Herman’s Letter of December 13, 1819) and was tonsured with the name Juvenal. Three years later, he went to Alaska as a missionary.
During 1794, the hieromonks Juvenal and Macarius spent two months in the area around Kodiak teaching the inhabitants about Christ and baptizing them. They traveled in small boats of hide in all sorts of weather, dividing up the territory among themselves. Saint Herman tells of a conversation he heard one day as he walked with the hieromonks to a small hill on the south side of the harbor. They sat down facing the sea, and spoke of various things. Soon they began to discuss where each of them should go to preach. Aflame with zeal and eager to set out on their journey, a friendly argument ensued between Father Macarius and Father Juvenal. Father Macarius said he intended to go north to the Aleutian Islands, and then make his way to the Alaskan mainland, where the inhabitants had invited him to visit. The monks had a map of Captain Cook’s which indicated that some Russians were living near a certain river in that particular area, and Father Macarius hoped to find them.
Father Juvenal interrupted, saying that he believed that the Alaskan mainland was his territory. “I beg you to yield to me and not offend me in this,” he told Father Macarius, “since the ship is leaving for Yakutan. I shall begin preaching in the south, proceeding north along the ocean, cross the Kenai peninsula, then from the port there I shall cross to Alaska.”
Father Macarius became sorrowful and said, “No, Father. Do not restrict me in this way. You know the Aleutian chain of islands is joined to Alaska, therefore it belongs to me, and also the whole northern shore. As for you, the southern part of America is sufficient for your whole lifetime, if you please.”
As he listened to their apostolic fervor, Saint Herman says he “went from joy to rapture” (Letter to Abbot Nazarius, May 19, 1795).
In 1795, Father Juvenal baptized over 700 Chugatchi at Nushek, then he crossed Kenai Bay and baptized the local people there. In 1796, according to native oral tradition, Saint Juvenal came to the mouth of the Kuskokwim near the present village of Quinahgak, where he was killed by a hunting party. (There is a forged diary attributed to Ivan Petroff which gives a slanderous version of Father Juvenal’s death, and alleges that he was martyred at Lake Iliamna.)
The precise reason for Saint Juvenal’s murder by the natives is not known. However, they later told Saint Innocent something about his death. They said that Saint Juvenal did not try to defend himself when attacked, nor did he make any attempt to escape. After being struck from behind, he turned to face his attackers and begged them to spare the natives he had baptized.
The natives told Saint Innocent that after they had killed Saint Juvenal, he got up and followed them, urging them to repent. The fell upon him again and gave him a savage beating. Once more, he got to his feet and called them to repentance. This happened several times, then finally the natives hacked him to pieces. Thus, the zealous Hieromonk Juvenal became the first Orthodox Christian in America to receive the crown of martyrdom. His unnamed guide, possibly a Tanaina Indian convert, was also martyred at the same time.
It is said that a local shaman removed Saint Juvenal’s brass pectoral cross from his body and attempted to cast a spell. Unexpectedly, the shaman was lifted up off the ground. He made three more tries with the same result, then concluded that there was a greater power than his own at work here. Years later, a man showed up at the Nushagak Trading Post wearing a brass pectoral cross exactly like the one worn by Saint Juvenal.
A column of light arose from his holy relics and reached up to Heaven. It is not known how long this phenomenon continued.
Saint Juvenal, in his tireless evangelization of the native peoples of Alaska, served the Church more than all the other missionaries combined.
The Holy Protomartyr and Equal of the Apostles Thekla was born in the city of Iconium. She was the daughter of rich and illustrious parents, and she was distinguished by extraordinary beauty. At eighteen years of age they betrothed her to an eminent youth. But after she heard the preaching of the holy Apostle Paul about the Savior, Saint Thekla with all her heart came to love the Lord Jesus Christ, and she steadfastly resolved not to enter into marriage, but rather to devote all her life to preaching the Gospel.
Saint Thekla’s mother was opposed to her daughter’s plans and insisted that she marry her betrothed. Saint Thekla’s fiancé also complained to the prefect of the city about the Apostle Paul, accusing him of turning his bride against him. The prefect locked up Saint Paul in prison.
During the night Saint Thekla secretly ran away from her house, and she bribed the prison guards, giving them all her gold ornaments, and so made her way into the prison to the prisoner. For three days she sat at the feet of the Apostle Paul, listening to his fatherly precepts. Thekla’s disappearance was discovered, and servants were sent out everywhere looking for her. Finally, they found her in the prison and brought her home by force.
At his trial Saint Paul was sentenced to banishment from the city. Again they urged Saint Thekla to consent to the marriage, but she would not change her mind. Neither the tears of her mother, nor her wrath, nor the threats of the prefect could separate Saint Thekla from her love for the Heavenly Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Her mother in a insane rage demanded from the judges a death sentence against her unyielding daughter, and Saint Thekla was sentenced to be burned. Without flinching, the holy martyr went into the fire and made the Sign of the Cross over herself. At this moment the Savior appeared to her, blessing her present deed, and inexpressible joy filled her holy soul.
The flames of the fire shot up high, but the martyr was surrounded by a light and the flames did not touch her. Thunder boomed, and a strong downpour of rain and hail extinguished the fire. The torturers scattered in fear. Saint Thekla, kept safe by the Lord, left the city and with the help of a certain Christian youth, searched for the Apostle Paul. The holy apostle and his companions, among whom was Saint Barnabas, were hidden in a cave not far from the city, praying fervently, that the Lord would strengthen Saint Thekla in her sufferings.
After this, Saint Thekla went with them preaching the Gospel in Antioch. In this city she was pursued by a certain dignitary named Alexander, who was captivated by her beauty. Saint Thekla refused his offer of marriage, and so she was condemned to death for being a Christian. Twice they set loose hungry wild animals upon her, but they would not touch the holy virgin. Instead, they lay down meekly and licked her feet.
The Providence of God preserved the holy martyr unharmed through all her torments. Finally, they tied her to two oxen and began to chase her with red-hot rods, but the strong cords broke asunder like cobwebs, and the oxen ran off, leaving Saint Thekla unharmed. The people began shouting, “Great is the God of the Christians!” The prefect himself became terrified, realizing that the holy martyr was being kept safe by the Almighty God, Whom she served. He then gave orders to set free the servant of God Thekla.
With the blessing of the Apostle Paul, Saint Thekla then settled in a desolate region of Isaurian Seleucia and dwelt there for many years, constantly preaching the Word of God and healing the sick through her prayer. Saint Thekla converted many pagans to Christ, and the Church appropriately names her as “Equal-to-the-Apostles.” Even a pagan priest, trying to assault her purity and punished for his impudence, was brought by her to holy Baptism. More than once the Enemy of the race of man tried to destroy Saint Thekla through people blinded by sin, but the power of God always preserved this faithful servant of Christ.
When Saint Thekla was already a ninety-year-old woman, pagan sorcerers became incensed at her for treating the sick for free. They were unable to comprehend that the saint was healing the sick by the power of the grace of Christ, and they presumed that the virgin-goddess Artemis was her special helper. Envious of Saint Thekla, they sent their followers to defile her. When they came near her, Saint Thekla cried out for help to Christ the Savior, and a rock split open and hid the holy virgin, the bride of Christ. Thus did Saint Thekla offer up her holy soul to the Lord.
The holy Church glorifies the Protomartyr Thekla as “the glory of women and guide for the suffering, opening up the way through every torment.” From of old many churches were dedicated to her, one of which was built at Constantinople by the holy Equal of the Apostles Constantine (May 21). The Protomartyr Thekla, a prayerful intercessor for ascetics, is also invoked during the tonsure of women into monasticism.
Saint Nicander of Pskov (in Baptism Nikon) was born on 24 July 1507 into the peasant family of Philip and Anastasia in the village of Videlebo in the Pskov lands.
From childhood he dreamed of continuing the ascetic exploits of his fellow villager, Saint Euphrosynus of Spasoeleazar, the original Pskov wilderness-dweller (May 15). The first in Nikon’s family to accept monasticism was his older brother Arsenius. After the death of his father, the seventeen-year-old Nikon was able to convince his mother to dispose of the property and withdraw into a monastery, where she lived until her own end.
After visiting the monasteries of Pskov, and having venerated at the relics of Saint Euphrosynus and his disciple Saint Savva of Krypetsk (August 28), Nikon became firmly convinced of his calling to the solitary life.
In order to have the possibility of reading the Word of God, Nikon was employed as a worker for the Pskov resident Philip, who rewarded his ardor by sending him to study with an experienced teacher. Seeing the zeal of the youth, the Lord Himself directed him to the place of his ascetic effort. Intensely praying in one of the Pskov churches, he heard a voice from the altar commanding him to go to the wilderness place which the Lord would point out through His servant Theodore. The peasant Theodore led him off to the River Demyanka, between Pskov and Porkhov. Afterwards, both Philip and Theodore, who helped Saint Nicander attain his goal, were themselves to enter upon the path of monasticism, and were tonsured at the Krypetsk monastery with the names Philaret and Theodosius.
After several years of silence and severe ascetic deeds, emaciating his flesh, Nikon went to the monastery founded by Saint Savva of Krypetsk. The igumen, seeing his weakened body, would not agree to accept him at once, fearing that the difficulties of monastic life would be too much for him. Nikon fell down at the crypt of Saint Savva, and spoke to him as if to one alive, entreating him to take him into his monastery. The igumen relented and tonsured Nikon with the name Nicander.
Saint Nicander endured many temptations and woes on the path of asceticism. Blessed Nicholas (February 28) while still at Pskov predicted Saint Nicander’s “wilderness sufferings.” Through the prayers of all the Pskov Saints and Saint Alexander of Svir (August 30 and April 17), who twice appeared to him, guiding and strengthening him, and with the help of the grace of God, he overcame all the manifold snares of the Evil One.
By the power of prayer the monk conquered the weakness of flesh, human failings and diabolical apparitions. Once, robbers nearly killed him, running off with the hermit’s sole, very precious possessions, his books and icons. Through the prayers of the saint, two of them, taking fright at the sudden death of one of their comrades, repented of their wicked deeds and received forgiveness from the Elder.
Saint Nicander did not long live at the Krypetsk monastery, and he obtained a blessing to return to his own wilderness. Later, he came to live at the Krypetsk monastery once again, where he fulfilled the obediences of ecclesiarch and cellarer, and then he went into the wilderness again and lived there in fasting and prayer, meditating on the Word the God.
Once a year, during Great Lent, Saint Nicander came to the Damianov monastery, where he made his confession and received the Holy Mysteries of Christ. Eight years before his death he received the Great Schema. Many people began to come to the monk “for benefit,” since in the words of Saint John of the Ladder, “monastic life is a light for all mankind.” Believers turned to Saint Nicander for prayerful help, since the Lord had bestown on him many gifts of grace.
The wilderness-dweller had regard for all the needs of the visitors and even built lodging for them, “the guest-house at the oak,” for which he provided heat. The monk did not permit himself to show off his spiritual gifts. Going secretly to his cell, people always heard him praying with bitter tears. When he noticed there were people nearby, he immediately began to pray, concealing from them the gift of tears that he had received.
Saint Nicander to the end of his life remained a wilderness-dweller, but he gave final instructions that after his death the place of his ascetic efforts should not be forsaken, promising his protection to the settlers of a future monastery. The saint gave final directions to the deacon Peter of the Porkhov women’s monastery to build a church at his grave and transfer there the icon of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos from the Tishanka church cemetery.
He foresaw his own death, predicting that he would die when enemies invaded the fatherland, and foretelling this imminent assault. On September 24, 1581, during an invasion by the army of the Polish king Stephen Bathory, a certain peasant found the monk dead. He lay on his cot with his hands crossed on his chest. From Pskov came clergy and people who revered the monk, and among whom was also the deacon Peter, and they performed the rite of Christian burial.
In 1584 at the place of Saint Nicander’s ascetic deeds, sanctified by almost half a century of prayer, a monastery was built, which they began to call the Nikandrov wilderness-monastery. The builder of this monastery was Saint Isaiah, who had been healed through prayer to the saint.
The glorification of Saint Nicander occurred under Patriarch Joachim in 1696, and the feastdays in his memory were established for September 24, the day of his repose, and on the temple feast of the monastery, the Annunciation to the Most Holy Theotokos. During a reconstruction of the monastery cathedral church the relics of Saint Nicander were discovered, concealed in a wall. June 29 is celebrated as the day of the uncovering of his holy relics. At present, strong bonds of prayer connect believers with Saint Nicander, who is deeply venerated in the Pskov area.
Monkmartyr Galacteon of Vologda: Fearing the wrath of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, kinsmen of the disgraced prince Ivan Ivanovich Belsky secretly brought his seven-year-old son Gabriel to the city of Staritsa. In the years of his growing up, and seeing the malice of the Tsar towards his family, the young prince withdrew to Vologda and lived with a shoemaker, from whom he learned the cobbler’s craft. His marriage did not last long, for his wife soon died, leaving Prince Gabriel to raise his infant daughter.
The adversities of his earthly life strengthened in him the intent to devote himself to God. Having sought out a place at the River Sodima, he dug a pit and made his cell near a church named for the Most Holy Trinity. After being tonsured with the name Galacteon, he began to labor in fasting and prayer. The ascetic did not give up his cobbler’s trade, and the money which he received from the work was divided into three portions. One part he dedicated to God, another portion he gave to the poor, and the third part he kept for his own needs.
Advancing in spiritual life, Saint Galacteon secluded himself in his cell, chaining himself to the wall. God-fearing Christians gave him food through a small window. The ascetic rested little, on his knees and holding on to the chain, and he ate only dry bread and water. In the cell of Saint Galacteon was nothing but the old matting with which he covered himself.
People soon began to come to the hermit for spiritual guidance. He received both the rich and the poor, and his words were filled with spiritual power. He consoled the grieving and brought the proud to their senses. In prayer Saint Galacteon achieved a special spiritual grace.
Once, when the Vologda region had gone a long time without rain, Bishop Anthony came to the church of the Holy Trinity with a church procession and sent a request to the hermit to come and pray with everyone for deliverance from the common woe. Saint Galacteon obediently left his cell and prayed in the church, and the Lord sent abundant rain upon the parched earth.
The ascetic had a revelation from God about impending misfortunes of Vologda. He emerged from his cell in his chains, went to an earthen hut and declared, “Our sins have brought the Poles and Lithuanians upon us. Let there be fasting and prayer, and preparations to build a temple in honor of the Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign (November 27), so that the Heavenly Queen might deliver Vologda from the wrath of God as She did before Novgorod.”
One of those present, Nechai Proskurov, said, “He is concerned not for us, but for himself; he only wants to have a church near him. And what will become of the temple when you die, Elder?”
Saint Galacteon answered gravely, “Wrath is approaching Vologda. As for me, there at my place God is glorified, and there also a monastery will be built.” He also said that the Trinity church built by Nechai would be burned and the house of Nechai laid waste. Passing the church dedicated to Saint Demetrius of Priluki (February 11), he said, “The Wonderworker Demetrius has prayed to the Savior for the city, but they insult him. Around his church they set up shops and hawk their wares. This church will be destroyed.”
The prophecy of the righteous one was soon fulfilled. In September 1612 the Polish and Lithuanians stormed into Vologda, and they killed many of the inhabitants. They defiled and plundered the churches of God, and they set afire the city and its surroundings. As Saint Galacteon predicted, the house and church built by Nechai were burned, as was also the city church named for Saint Demetrius.
Saint Galacteon was murdered by the invaders on September 24, 1612. Pious Christians buried the body of hosiomartyr in his cell. Over the place of his burial miraculous healings began to occur. In the time of Bishop Barlaam (1627-1645), a church was built in honor of the Sign Icon of the Mother of God over the relics of the hosiomartyr Galacteon, and a monastery was founded. With the blessing of Archbishop Marcellus (1645-1663), a cathedral church was built at the monastery in honor of the Holy Spirit, and the monastery took its name from this church.
Saint Copres was found as a newborn infant by monks of the monastery of Saint Theodosius in Palestine. He lay upon a dung-hill (in Greek “kopria”), where his mother left him during an invasion of the Hagarenes (Moslems).
The monks took the infant, named him Copres, fed him goat’s milk and raised him in their monastery. Saint Copres later accepted monastic tonsure and spent his whole life in his monastery. Having attained to an high degree of virtue and the gift of wonderworking, Saint Copres died peacefully the age of ninety.
Saint Abramius (Abraham) of Mirozh was the builder and first igumen of the Pskov Savior-Transfiguration monastery on the banks of the River Velika, where it meets the River Mirozha. The Mirozh monastery was founded in about the year 1156, in the time of Svyatopolk Mstislavich, by both Saint Abramius and by Saint Niphon, Bishop of Novgorod (April 8), a brother of the holy Prince Vsevolod-Gabriel (February 11).
This monastery, the most ancient in Pskov, was the first seed of monasticism transported to the Pskov soil from Kiev. On a chalice of Saint Niphon is inscribed: "Holy Bishop Niphon … enthroned, he built many holy monasteries and churches with the approval of Prince Vsevolod of Pskov, and upon the death of Prince Vsevolod he came … to Pskov and constructed … the church of the Transfiguration of the Lord, and a monastery of fame and beauty, and gathered brethren and appointed an igumen."
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, when the Transfiguration cathedral was remodeled, beautiful frescoes of the twelfth century were discovered, and which now receive universal acclaim. Saint Niphon also built a similar church at Ladoga, dedicated to Saint Clement of Rome, but only the foundations have been preserved.
There is little information about the life of Saint Abramius, because the monastery was inside the city walls and it was often laid waste, and served as quarters for enemy soldiers.
Saint Abramius reposed on September 24, 1158. His relics lie beneath a crypt of the cathedral church, dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Lord, in the monastery he built.
Holy King Vladislav of Serbia was the son of holy King Stephen, and he reigned for seven years. He was noted for his virtue and charity towards the poor, the vagrant and the misfortunate, and he built a monastery at Milesheva, where he died in 1239 and was buried.
Saint Dorothy of Kashin was born in 1549 of a noble family. No information has come down to us about her name before she became a nun, or the place of her birth. From the age of twelve, she lived in a climate of civil unrest, and the area was subject to rebellion, invasion, and plague.
Later, she was married to Theodore Ladygin, and they lived north of Moscow in the region where the city of Kashin is located. They had a son named Michael. Dorothy’s husband was killed at the beginning of the seventeenth century defending the city in a battle against Polish and Lithuanian invaders. She was close to sixty years old at that time.
After suffering this terrible loss, Saint Dorothy decided to leave the world and enter the women’s monastery of the Meeting of the Lord in Kashin. In this same monastery were the relics of Saint Anna of Kashin (October 2). The monastery had been sacked along with the city, so conditions there were anything but easy.
Saint Dorothy built a small cell in the ruins, and there she engaged in ascetical struggles. She found the Korsun icon of the Mother of God (October 9) in the debris and kept it in her cell. This icon later became known for its miracles.
She did not move to another monastery when she grew older, but preferred to remain in the semi-wilderness around Kashin. She tried to help those who were suffering during this time, encouraging and consoling them. Whatever money she had left after her husband’s death was used to restore the monastery, or to benefit the poor.
Saint Dorothy had once lived in luxury, but now she was reduced to poverty, enduring every affliction and sorrow with great patience. She prayed continually for her husband, her monastery, and the city of Kashin.
Once the danger had passed, the other nuns started coming back to the monastery. Saint Dorothy’s holy and virtuous life also inspired other women to become nuns. They all wanted her as their abbess, but Saint Dorothy refused this office, preferring to live as a humble nun. For the rest of her life, however, she was an example to the sisters.
In 1615, Saint Dorothy received the Great Schema and increased her spiritual efforts. She fell asleep in the Lord when she was about eighty on September 24, 1629 after living in the monastery for more than twenty years.
She was buried on the north side of the monastery church. A white memorial stone was placed over her grave, and the inscription was clearly legible until the twentieth century. Many miracles have taken place at her grave for those who entreat her with faith.
No information available at this time.
The Mirozh Icon appeared at the Mirozh monastery in the year 1198. But later, during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, at a time when a plague raged at Pskov, an ancient report tells how tears flowed from both eyes of the icon. Many benefits and healings for man occured from the icon of the Mother of God.
The Mirozh Icon is an “Orans” (“Praying”) type. On either side of the Most Holy Theotokos stand the Pskov Saints: on the right, the holy Prince Dovmont-Timothy (May 20); on the left, his wife, the holy nun Martha, in the world named Maria Dimitrievna (November 8, 1300). Tsar Ivan Vasilievich took away the wonderworking icon from Pskov, but at the monastery an exact copy remained: the so-called “Great Panagia” from the Savior-Mirozh monastery.
On September 24, 1567, on the Feast of Saint Abraham at the Mirozh monastery there occurred a miraculous sign from an ancient icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. The celebration of the Mirozh Icon of the Sign was established in that same year, with the blessing of Archbishop Pimen of Novgorod and Pskov. A special service to this icon was composed, and was published in the 1666 MENAION.
The Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Of the Myrtle Tree” (Myrtidiotissa) is in the monastery church of Myrtides on the Greek island of Kythera. It derives its name from the fact that it was found in a myrtle bush in the fourteenth century.
At that time, a shepherd was tending his sheep in a deserted valley which was filled with myrtle bushes. On September 24, forty days after the Dormition, the Mother of God appeared to him and told him to seek her icon which had been brought to that place many years before.
The shepherd fell to the ground in amazement, praying to the Theotokos. As soon as he got up and turned around, he saw the icon in the branches of a myrtle bush. Weeping for joy, he brought the icon home and told his friends and relatives about how he had found it.
When he awoke the next morning, the shepherd found the icon missing, and thought that perhaps someone had stolen it during the night. With a heavy heart, he led his sheep back to the spot where he had found the icon. To his amazement, he saw the icon once again in the branches of the myrtle bush. Glorifying God, the man took the icon home with him once more. The next morning, it had disappeared just as it had before. When this happened a third time, the shepherd realized that the Mother of God wanted her icon to remain where it had first appeared.
A small church was built to house the icon, and was called “Of the Myrtle Tree,” after the icon. The building was replaced and enlarged over the years, and many miracles took place there.
At the end of the sixteenth century Theodore Koumprianos, a descendant of the shepherd who found the icon, lived in the village of Kousoumari. He was a paralytic, and had an unshakeable faith that the Mother of God would heal him. Each year on September 24 he sent a family member to the church to light candles for him. One year he asked to be carried there by his family so that he might venerate the icon himself. During the Vigil, a great noise was heard coming from the direction of the sea. People fled the church, thinking that pirates were attacking. The paralytic remained in the church by himself, entreating the Mother of God for protection. Suddenly, he heard a voice from the icon telling him to get up and flee. He stood up, and then walked out of the church. Soon he was able to run and catch up with his relatives, who rejoiced upon seeing this miracle. As it turned out, there was no pirate attack, and the noise was regarded as a sign of God’s providence so that the paralytic could remain alone in church with the icon. Since that time the Koumprianos family has celebrated the icon’s Feast Day with a special reverence, since Theodore had been healed on that day.
Some of the other miracles associated with the Most Holy Theotokos and her icon “Of the Myrtle Tree” include protection of the island from the plague, ending the barrenness of a Jewish woman from Alexandria, saving people from death, and many other great wonders.
Pilgrims come to venerate the icon on the Feast of the Dormition (August 15), and also on the day of its discovery (September 24).
No information available at this time.
Saint David, a nephew of holy King Stephen, in the world had the name Demetrius. He built a monastery at Brodarova, at the River Lima, and there he received monastic tonsure with the name David and lived an ascetical life to the end of his days.
Holy King Stephen of Serbia was the first ruler of Serbia to be crowned as king. His father was Saint Stephen Nemanya (February 13). King Stephen died in 1224, accepting monastic tonsure with the name Simeon before his death. He was buried in the Studenitsa monastery.