CHARITON THE CONFESSOR
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Chariton the Confessor, Our Righteous Father Alkeisonus, Metropolitan of Nicopolis; Old Epirus, Baruch the Prophet, Neophytos & Auxentios the Martyrs of Cyprus, Wenceslaus the Martyr, Prince of the Czechs
ST. PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 4:6-15
Brethren, it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness, " who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, "I believed, and so I spoke, " we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
At that time, Jesus stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all. And he lifted up his eyes on His disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.”
Saint Chariton the Confessor was born at Iconium in the province of Lycaonia, and suffered there during a persecution against Christians in the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270-275). The example of the holy Protomartyr Thekla (September 24), who was also a native of his city, encouraged him to confess Christ, since he had a great devotion to her.
Saint Chariton bravely denounced the pagan gods and staunchly confessed faith in the one True God, Christ the Savior. The holy Confessor underwent fierce tortures but, by God's Providence, he survived. The persecution ended after Aurelian's death in 275. Saint Chariton was among the many Christians who were released from prison, and he resolved to dedicate his entire life to the service of the Lord. Although he escaped death, he grieved because he had not received the crown of martyrdom.
After arriving at Jerusalem on a pilgrimage to the holy places, he fell into the hands of thieves. They tied him up and threw him in a cave, intending to kill him later. After they left to find people to rob, the saint prayed fervently to God expecting to be put to death. He did not ask God to deliver him, but instead he entreated Him to do with him as He wished.
At this time a snake crawled into the cave and began to drink wine from a vessel setting there. Later it vomited forth its deadly venom, poisoning the wine. When they returned to the cave, the evil men drank the poisoned wine and they all perished. Thus, their wicked lives came to a fitting end. Saint Chariton gave thanks to God, and then he gave away the gold which the malefactors had stolen, distributing it to the poor, to churches, and to monasteries. He began his ascetic struggles in the place of his miraculous rescue, and there he built a church. In time a monastery was established: the renowned Pharan Lavra in Palestine. Saint Chariton's fame drew many disciples to him. He governed them with paternal affection, and he elevated them to the highest degrees of virtue.
Saint Chariton compiled a strict Rule for his monastery. Yearning for solitude, the monk withdrew farther into the desert in order to avoid the praise of men, but he never rejected anyone who sought his spiritual guidance. He founded two more monasteries: the Jericho (called the Monastery of Saint Chariton) and the Souka, which was called “the old Lavra.” He also brought many Jews and pagans to the Faith.
At the end of his life, Saint Chariton struggled in a cave atop a hill near the Souka monastery, but he did not cease to provide guidance for all three of the monasteries which he founded. He fell asleep in the Lord peacefully and at an advanced age on September 28, 350.
According to Tradition, Saint Chariton compiled the Office of the Monastic Tonsure. Saint Chariton was buried at the Pharan monastery, in accordance with his last wishes. His grace-filled relics were enshrined in the church that had been built on the site of the robbers' cave.
The Synaxis of Monastic Fathers who are venerated in the Near Caves of Saint Anthony, is now celebrated on September 28. This general commemoration was originally on the first Saturday after the Leave-taking of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (i.e. after September 21).
The general commemoration of the monastic Fathers of the Near Caves of Saint Anthony on the Saturday after the Leave-taking of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross dates to the year 1670. During the restoration of the Caves, which had been damaged by an earthquake, some of the relics of the ancient ascetics were uncovered and a church was built in honor of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross.
In 1760 a stone church in honor of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross was built over the Caves. In 1886, under Metropolitan Platon of Kiev, the Synaxis of the Fathers of the Near Caves was moved to September 28 because of the celebration of the Synaxis of the Saints of the Far Caves on August 28.
There are two Canons to the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves. The first was compiled by the hieromonk Meletius the Orphan (inscribed in the Kiev Akathistnik of 1764). The second, found in the services in honor of the Fathers of the Kiev Caves, was compiled by Saint Demetrius of Rostov.
Among the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves are:
Monk Anthony the First-Founder (July 10)
Monk Abramius the Lover of Labor (August 21)
Monk Abramius the Recluse (October 29)
Monk Agapitus, Unmercenary Physician (June 1)
Monk Alexis the Recluse (April 24)
Monk Alypius the Iconographer (August 17)
Martyr Anastasius the Deacon (January 22)
Monk Anatolius the Recluse (July 3)
Monk Arethas the Recluse (October 24)
Monk Athanasius the Recluse (December 2)
Igumen Barlaam (November 19)
Hosiomartyrs Basil and Theodore (August 11)
Venerable Chariton of Senyazemsk (no information)
Hieromonk Damian the Healer (October 5)
Monk Elias of Murom (December 19)
Bishop Ephraim of Pereyaslavl (January 28)
Monk Erasmus the Black-Robed (February 24)
Martyr Eustratius (March 28)
Monk Gregory the Iconographer (August 8)
Martyr Gregory the Wonderworker (January 8)
Monk Helladius the Recluse (October 4)
Monk Isaac the Recluse (February 14)
Monk Isaiah the Wonderworker (May 15)
Monk Jeremiah the Clairvoyant (October 5)
Monk John the Faster (December 7)
John the God-pleasing (December 29)
Martyr John the Infant (December 29)
(commemorated with the 14,000 Infants killed at Bethlehem by Herod)
Monk John the Long-Suffering (July 18)
Nun Juliana, Princess of Olshansk (July 6)
Hieromartyr Kuksha, Enlightener of the Vyati (August 27)
Bishop Laurence the Recluse of Turov (January 29)
Monk Luke the Steward (November 6)
Monk Macarius (January 19)
Monk Mark the Grave-digger (December 29)
Monk Matthew the Clairvoyant (October 5)
Venerable Menignus the Steward of the Caves (no information)
Bishop Mercurius of Smolensk (August 7)
Martyr Moses the Hungarian (July 26)
Monk Nectarius the Obedient (November 29)
Monk Nestor the Chronicler (October 27)
Monk Nicholas Svyatosha, Prince of Chernigov (October 14)
Monk Νikόdēmos the Prosphora-baker (October 31)
Igumen Nikon (March 23)
Monk Nikon the Shriveled (December 11)
Bishop Niphon of Novgorod (April 8)
Monk Onesimus the Recluse (October 4 and July 21)
Monk Onesiphorus the Confessor (November 9)
Monk Onuphrius the Silent (July 21)
Monk Pimen the Faster (August 27)
Monk Pimen the Much-Ailing (August 7)
Archmandrite Polycarp (July 24)
Monk Prochorus the Orach-eater (February 10)
Monk Savva the God-pleasing (April 24)
Monk Sergius the Obedient (October 7)
Monk Simon, Bishop of Suzdal (May 10)
Monk Sisoes the Recluse (October 24)
Monk Spyridon the Prosphora-baker (October 31)
Monk Sylvester the Wonderworker (January 2)
Monk Theophanes the Faster (October 11)
Monks Theophilus the Mourner (December 29)
Monk Theophilus the Recluse (October 24)
Hieromonk Titus (February 27)
Twelve Master Architects of Constantinople who painted the monastery church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos (February 14)
Besides these Saints, there are thirty other Saints among the monks of the Kiev Caves, whose myrrh-producing heads were preserved. In the Service to the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves on September 28 Saint Ephraim the Priest is mentioned (Ode 9). The hieromonk Athanasius Kalpophyisky wrote in 1638, that his incorrupt body, clothed in priestly vestments, lay opposite the relics of Saint Elias of Murom. Hieromonk Athanasius also mentions Saint Eustathius, (Ode 8), who was a goldsmith before he came to the monastery.
In the Canon of Meletius the Orphan, Saint Dionysius, Archbishop of Suzdal (June 26 and also October 15) is also mentioned. The holy hierarch was detained by the Lithuanian prince at Kiev after his consecration as Metropolitan of Moscow by the Patriarch of Constantinople. He died on October 15, 1384 and was buried in the Antoniev Cave.
Besides the monks mentioned in the Services, the hieromonk Athanasius Kalpophyisky in his Manuscript of 1638 indicated even more Saints, whose uncovered relics they venerated: Saint Hieronymos, Recluse and Wonderworker; Saint Meladius, holy Elder and Wonderworker; Saint Pergius, holy Elder; Saint Paul, a monk of remarkable obedience.
The names of the priests Saint Meletius, Saint Serapion, Saint Philaretos, Saint Peter are preserved in the old manuscript Calendars.
On May 24,1853, in one of the branches of the Near Caves, an inscription was discovered on an eleventh century crypt: “Lord, preserve Thy servants Theodosius and Theophilus. Many Years.” “The Grave of the Cave-Dweller John. Here John the sinner lived and is now.” On an oak board: “John the Cave-Dweller.” Thus the names of the new Kiev Caves Fathers: Theophilus, Theodosius and John were revealed.
There is also a general commemoration of the Monks of the Near Caves together with the Monks of the Far Caves on the second Sunday of Great Lent, when the Synaxis of all the Monastic Fathers of Kiev Caves is celebrated. The Canon of the Hieromonk Meletius the Orphan enters into the Service of that feastday (the Service to the Kiev Caves Monastic Fathers, and to all the Saints who shone forth in Little Russia, inscribed from Akathists with a Canon). The service was printed by the Kiev Caves Dormition Lavra in 1866.
Without doubt, not all the names of the Fathers of the Kiev Caves are known. In the Synaxis, all the Fathers illumined by ascetic deeds in the Caves are glorified. In the Oikos of the Service of September 28 we sing: “Who can praise Your Saints, O Good One? I try to count their number, but they are multiplied more than the sands of the sea. O Master Christ, Who have numbered the stars and named them all, grant their petitions for us…”
Saint Euthymius and his disciple Saint Chariton lived at the River Syanzhema during the close of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries. Saint Euthymius came to the Spasokamensk monastery from the outskirts of Volokolamsk. For a long time he continued as a novice at the monastery, but later he settled on the eastern shore of Lake Kuben near the mouth of the River Kushta.
The saint built a small cell in the impenetrable swamps and dense woods, where he struggled in total solitude. After a while, Saint Alexander of Kushta (June 9) came to him. He also had set out from the Spasokamensk monastery and at first settled at the River Syanzhema. Saint Alexander entreated Saint Euthymius to switch cells with him, since he was seeking a place of complete quiet.
Moving over to the River Syanzhema, Saint Euthymius did not refuse the local people his spiritual counsel and guidance. And there Saint Chariton also came to him.
Saint Euthymius built a church in honor of the Ascension of Christ and founded a monastery next to it. At Rostov, under the holy Archbishop Dionysius (1418-1425), he received the permission to build. Evidently, he was also ordained to the holy priesthood, and was made igumen of the monastery he established.
Both monks were an example to the brethren in prayer, and in the works of construction and supervision. They made do with food and clothing that even the brethren regarded as worthless. In church, Saint Euthymius stood in fear and trembling, and the brethren often saw tears of tenderness upon his face. While working at handicrafts, the saint always sang Psalms. Saint Euthymius died around the year 1465, though the actual day of his death is unknown.
His successor as igumen was his beloved disciple Saint Chariton. For more than forty years he continued the work at the monastery, and he died in old age on April 11, 1509. Both monks were buried at the Ascension church.
The memory of Saint Euthymius is celebrated also on January 20, and that of Saint Chariton on September 28, when their patron saints are commemorated.
Saint Herodion of Elias Lake and Novgorod, was a disciple of Saint Cornelius of Komel (May 19, 1537). After the death of his mentor, he settled at Elias Lake, 20 kilometers from White Lake, and there on a peninsula he built himself a cell and established a church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, marking the beginning of the Elias Lake Ozadsk monastery.
The monk was strict at fasting, he spent the nights at prayer and he received the Holy Mysteries every Saturday. An angel told the monk of his approaching end. He died as a schemamonk on September 28, 1541 and was buried in the chapel he had built.
The first icon of Saint Herodion was painted after his appearance to a certain Sophonios. Sophonios impiously thrust his staff into the grave of Saint Herodion and was struck blind, but after praying to the saint, he recovered his sight.
With the blessing of Metropolitan (afterwards Patriarch) Nikon, a short Life of Saint Herodion was written by Archimandrite Metrophanes of White Lake monastery, who in 1653 witnessed a miracle worked from the relics of Saint Herodion. Then an annual commemoration of the saint was established. At the place of the chapel of Saint Herodion a church was built in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos together with a chapel dedicated to Saint Herodion of Elias Lake.
The Holy Prophet Baruch (his name means "blessed"), that courageous lover of truth, lived in the VII century B.C. He was the son of Nerias and the devoted follower and divinely-inspired secretary of the Prophet Jeremiah (May 1).
When Jeremiah was imprisoned, Baruch wrote down the prophecies which he dictated (Jeremiah 36:4), ordering him to read them to the people. When King Joachim was informed of this, instead of benefitting from the Prophet's admonitions, he threw the scroll into the fire. Baruch was also imprisoned because the Jews hated him for loving truth, and for his courageous language. When the Jews fled to Egypt in fear, because of their stand against the king of Babylon, Baruch accompanied Jeremiah. Rabbinic tradition suggests that Baruch returned to Babylon after he witnessed Jeremiah's death by stoning and buried his body.
In his prophetic book, Baruch clearly foresaw the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The section from 3:9 to 4:4 is a beautiful description of the Divine Wisdom "Who showed Himself upon earth and conversed with men."
Here is what he said: "This is our God, and no other shall be compared to Him. He has found out all the way of knowledge, and has given it unto Jacob His servant, and unto Israel His beloved. Afterward He showed Himself upon earth, and conversed with men" (Baruch 3:36-38).
These words are read on the eve of the Nativity of Christ at the Third Hour, and are ascribed to the Prophet Jeremiah.
Saint John Chrysostom says, in the sixth of his Baptismal Instructions, "Here the Prophet is speaking about the Son. Of Whom does the Prophet speak? He does not say this about the Father, does He? Of course not." Saint John goes on to explain that Baruch was the first to say that God would become Man, yet remain as God. Christ is not only the Law-giver of the Old Testament, but also the Divine Wisdom, Word, and Power of God.
The Prophet Baruch is quoted or paraphrased several times in the Divine Services of the Church. On Palm Sunday we sing: "This is our God, and there is no other like Him…. He has shown Himself upon earth and lived among men. Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord our Savior" (Canon at Matins Tone 4, Ode 9).
On the Great Feast of Theophany we hear: "The Godhead has appeared in the flesh to the dwellers upon earth" (Matins of the Forefeast, Aposticha Tone 2).
On the Feast of the Lord's Transfiguration we sing this hymn to the Most Holy Theotokos: "Your giving birth was undefiled; God came forth from your womb, and He appeared upon earth wearing flesh and made His dwelling among men; therefore, we all magnify you, O Theotokos" (Canon at Matins Tone 4, Ode 9).
Again, on the Transfiguration, we extol the All-Holy Virgin: "Every ear trembled with fear at hearing of the ineffable condescension of God: how the Most High of His own will came down even unto the flesh, and was made Man from a virginal womb. Therefore, we faithful magnify the undefiled Theotokos" (Second Canon at Matins Ode 8, Irmos).
The Prophet Baruch also prophesied the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity, and Babylon's desolation. He is depicted in iconography as an old man with a rounded beard.
The Book traditionally ascribed to Baruch is regarded by Protestants as non-canonical, but is accepted by the Orthodox Church, and also by Roman Catholics.
The Holy Martyrs Alexander, Alpheius, Zosimus, Mark the Shepherd, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and others suffered for confessing the Christian Faith in various places of Asia Minor during the reign of Diocletian (284-305).
Saint Mark, a shepherd, was arrested for his open confession of the Christian Faith in Pisidian Antioch. The thirty soldiers guarding him were converted by Saint Mark, and they were beheaded at Nicea, but Saint Mark was sentenced to tortures.
The brothers Saints Alexander, Alpheius and Zosimus were blacksmiths from the settlement of Katalitea, or Kalitea. They were summoned to forge the instruments of torture which would be used on Saint Mark the Shepherd. The iron did not melt and fuse, however, and the hands of the blacksmiths grew numb. Hearing a voice summoning them to suffer with Saint Mark, the brothers believed in Christ. After fierce torture, the torturers poured molten tin down their throats.
After enduring many tortures, Saint Mark was beheaded at Claudiopolis. When they carried the head of the holy martyr into the pagan temple of Artemis, all the idols fell down and were smashed. The witnesses of this miracle, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and other young men and women, believed in Christ, confessed their faith and died martyrs at Maromilium.
The Holy Prince Wenceslaus (Vyacheslav) of the Czechs was a grandson of the holy Martyr and Princess Ludmilla (September 16), and he was raised by her in deep piety. He began to rule at age eighteen after the death of his father Prince Bratislav (+ 920).
In spite of his youthful age, he ruled wisely and justly and concerned himself much about the Christian enlightenment of the people. The holy prince was a widely educated man, and he studied in the Latin and Greek languages.
Saint Wenceslaus was peace-loving. He built and embellished churches, and in Prague, the Czech capital, he raised up a magnificent church in the name of Saint Vitus, and he had respect for the clergy. Envious nobles decided to murder the saint and, at first, to incite his mother against him, and later to urge his younger brother, Boleslav, to occupy the princely throne.
Boleslav invited his brother to the dedication of a church, and then asked him to stay another day. In spite of the warnings of his servants, the holy prince refused to believe in a conspiracy and exposed his life to the will of God. On the following day, September 28, 935, when Wenceslaus went to Matins, he was wickedly murdered at the doors of the church by his own brother and his brother’s servants. His body was stabbed and discarded without burial.
The mother, hearing of the murder of her son, found and placed his body in a recently consecrated church at the princely court. They were not able to wash off the blood splashed on the church doors, but after three days it disappeared by itself.
After repenting of his sin, the murderer transferred the relics of Saint Wenceslaus to Prague, where they were placed in the church of Saint Vitus, which the martyr himself had constructed (the transfer of the relics of Saint Wenceslaus is celebrated on March 4). The memory of Prince Wenceslaus has been honored from of old in the Russian Orthodox Church.
Saint Cyril and his wife Maria were the parents of Saint Sergius of Radonezh (September 25). They belonged to the nobility, but more importantly, they were pious and faithful Christians who were adorned with every virtue.
People were astonished when the child in Maria’s womb cried out three times in church during the Divine Liturgy; before the reading of the Holy Gospel, during the Cherubic hymn, and when the priest said: “Holy Things are for the Holy.” Although she was frightened at first, Maria came to see this event as a sign from God that her child would become a chosen vessel of divine grace. She and her husband agreed that if the child was a boy, they would bring him to church and dedicate him to God. This child, the second of their three sons, was born around 1314, and was named Bartholomew in Holy Baptism.
Because of civil strife, Saint Cyril moved his family from Rostov to Radonezh when Bartholomew was still a boy.
Later, when their son expressed his desire to enter the monastic life, his parents asked him to wait and take care of them until they passed away, because his brothers Stephen and Peter were both married and had their own family responsibilities. The young Bartholomew obeyed his parents, and did everything he could to please them. Later they decided to retire to separate monasteries, and departed to the Lord after a few years. It is believed that Saints Cyril and Maria reposed in 1337.
Forty days after burying his parents, Bartholomew settled their estate, giving his share to his brother Peter. Then he went to the monastery at the age of twenty-three, and was tonsured on October 7 with the name Sergius (in honor of the martyr Saint Sergius, who is commemorated on that day). As everyone knows, Saint Sergius of Radonezh became one of Russia’s greatest and most revered saints.
The Chronicle of the Khot'kov Protection Monastery relates how people were healed of their ailments after praying to the Venerable Sergius and his parents. The relics of Schema-monk Cyril and Schema-nun Maria remained in the monastery's Protection Cathedral, even after its numerous reconstructions. As early as the XIV century, Saint Sergius's parents were depicted with haloes. Because Saint Sergius prayed for the repose of his parents at their grave before entering the monastery, pilgrims, on their way to Holy Trinity Lavra, had the custom of visiting Khot'kov Monastery first, in order to pray for his parents.
In the XIX century, the veneration of Schema-monk Cyril and Schema-nun Maria spread throughout Russia, as evidenced by the Menologia of that time. Unfortunately, after 1917, the Khot'kov Monastery was destroyed. Finally, in July of 1981, the Feast of the Synaxis of the Saints of Radonezh was established, and Schema-monk Cyril and Schema-nun Maria were glorified for local veneration. In 1989, the monastery's Protection Cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. Services resumed once again, and the relics of the righteous parents of Saint Sergius were transferred there.
Saints Cyril and Maria were glorified for universal veneration by the Orthodox Church of Russia in 1992. They are also commemorated on January 18 (Saint Cyril's Name Day), on June 5 (Synaxis of the Saints of Rostov & Yaroslavl), on July 6 (Synaxis of the Saints of Radonezh), and on the Thursday following the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee.