Here is the homily for Sunday, October 30, 2022.
You can also download the homily here .
Here is the homily for Sunday, October 30, 2022.
You can also download the homily here .
MONDAY OF THE 7TH WEEK
Stachys, Andrew, Amplias, Apelles, Urban, Aristobulus & Narcissus of the 70, Martyr Epimachus of Alexandria, Egypt, Nicholas the New Martyr of Chios
Brethren, I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreai, that you may receive her in the Lord as befits the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a helper of many and of myself as well. Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I but also all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks; greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epainetos, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ. Greet Mary, who has worked hard among you. Greet Andronicos and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners; they are men of note among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatos, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulos. Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissos. Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaina and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, eminent in the Lord, also his mother and mine. Greet Asyncritos, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brethren who are with them. Greet Philologos, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
At that time, when the crowds were increasing, Jesus began to say, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation. The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a bushel, but on a stand, that those who enter may see the light.”
The Life of Saint John Kochurov, Hieromartyr, Missionary in America, First Clergy Martyr of the Russian Revolution.
On October 31, 1917, in Tsarskoye Selo, a bright new chapter, full of earthly grief and heavenly joy, was opened in the history of sanctity in the Russian Church: the holiness of the New-Martyrs of the twentieth century. The opening of this chapter is linked to the name of the Russian Orthodox shepherd who became one of the first to give his soul for his flock during this twentieth century of fighters against God: Archpriest John Kochurov.
Father John Kochurov was born on July 13, 1871, in the village of Bigildino-Surky of the district of Danky in the Ryazan region, to a pious family of many children. His parents were the priest Alexander Kochurov and his wife Anna. Father Alexander Kochurov served almost all his life in the Church of Theophany in Bigildino-Surky village in the Diocese of Ryazan from the moment of his ordination on March 2, 1857, and having combined all those years of service in the parish with the fulfillment of his obligations as a teacher of the God’s Law in the Bigildin’s public school, imprinted in the consciences of his sons, and particularly in that of John, the most spiritually sensitive of them, a radiant image of the parish priest, full of deep humility and high inspiration.1
Fr. John’s upbringing, being based on the remarkable traditions of many generations of the clergy and bound with the people’s natural following after Orthodox piety, foretold his setting out on the path of preparation for pastoral service. Father John’s study — initially at Danky Theological School and afterwards at Ryazan Theological Seminary — was marked not only with outstanding success in the mastery of theological and secular disciplines, but with remarkable examples of Church piety which he demonstrated during a time when the everyday life of a provincial theological school was not always spotless in the moral sense.
The future Father John successfully graduated in 1891 from the Theological Seminary in Ryazan. Having passed the entrance exams for the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy, he became a student at one of the best theological schools in Russia.2
During the period of Fr. John’s study at the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy, his propensity to regard theological education as a preparation primarily for future service as a parish priest became clearly defined, while at the same time, Fr. John already during his student days coupled the possibility of his service as a parish priest with that of missionary activity, in which he saw the embodiment of the ideal of the Orthodox pastor. After his graduation from Saint Petersburg Theological Academy with the distinction of a true student, Fr. John was sent, in accordance with his long desire for missionary service, to the Diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska.3
Not long after his marriage to Alexandra Chernyshova, Fr. John’s arrival in protestant America put him in touch with a life dissimilar in many respects from his accustomed life in Orthodox Russia. For his first sojourn in the U.S.A. Fr. John arrived in New York, which with its mundane ways was so different from the spiritual life of the Russian cities. Not having yet learned the English language, Fr. John, thanks to the brotherly support of the New York Orthodox community — at that time of modest size — did manage to adjust himself to the life of the country, till then unknown to him, without any particular psychological or other complications. It must be noted that Church life in the Diocese of Alaska and the Aleuts was very different in character from that in other parts of the country, which was vast in its territory but rather small in the number of clergy. Specifically, the Russian Orthodox missions in Northern California, on the Aleutian Islands, and in Alaska had at that time already existed for about a hundred years, and Church life was conducted on a foundation of rather numerous parish communities which possessed significant financial resources, having become accustomed over several generations to life in America. But Orthodox life in the rest of the country was only being initiated, and it required a great deal of evangelical activity by the clergy to create normal Orthodox parishes within the multinational and multiconfessional local population. It was precisely to that part of the diocese that Fr. John was destined to be sent when he was ordained to the dignity of a priest on August 27, 1895, by the Most Reverend Nicholas, Bishop of Alaska and the Aleuts.4
The beginning of Fr. John’s parish service was associated with the opening, by Bishop Nicholas, of the Orthodox parish in Chicago in 1892. Assigned in 1895 by order of the Holy Synod to be a parish priest at Saint Vladimir’s Cathedral in Chicago, Fr. John was put in touch with a parish life that was strikingly different from the Orthodox parishes in Russia, which were organized and rooted in a living tradition many centuries old. Being a lonely island of Orthodox Christian life, remotely situated many hundreds of miles from the other scattered Orthodox parishes in North America, Saint Vladimir’s Church in Chicago,5 together with the Church of the Three Hierarchs in the town of Streator with which it was affiliated, in the less than three years of its existence still had not managed to become formed as a parish in the full sense of this word, and it indeed required heroic labors from the young Fr. John to be established in a proper way.
Beginning his work at the parish of Chicago and Streator, which was rather small and multinational in its constituency, Fr. John nourished these people, who were representatives of a rather poor class of immigrants, in the Orthodox confession. He was never able to be supported in his work by a sound parish community having at its disposal sufficiently large material means. In one of his articles, written in December 1898, Fr. John gave the following vivid description of the Chicago-Streator parish community: “The Orthodox parish of Saint Vladimir’s Church in Chicago consists of a small number of the original Russians, Galician and Hungarian Slavs, Arabs, Bulgarians, and Aravians. The majority of the parishioners are working people who earn their bread by toiling not far from where they live, on the outskirts of the city. Affiliated with this parish in Chicago is the Church of the Three Hierarchs in the city of Streator. This place, and the town of Kengley, are situated ninety-four miles from Chicago, and they are famous for their coal mines. The Orthodox parish there consists of the Slovaks who work there who have been converted from the Unia.”6
The unique characteristics of the Chicago-Streator parish community demanded of Fr. John a deft combination of pastoral-liturgical skills, with missionary ones. These abilities would permit him not only to stabilize the membership of his parish community spiritually and administratively, but to enlarge his flock continually by means of conversions, or by the return to Orthodoxy of the ethnically diverse Christians living in Illinois. Already during the first three years of Fr. John’s parish service 86 Uniats and 5 Catholics were added to the Orthodox Church,7 bringing the number of permanent parishioners up to 215 men in Chicago, and 88 in Streator. There were two functioning church schools affiliated with the parishes, with more than 20 pupils enrolled in them. The course consisted of Saturday classes during the school year, and daily classes during the school vacations. 8
In his work, Fr. John continued the best traditions of the Russian Orthodox Diocese in North America. He organized, in Chicago and Streator, the Saint Nicholas and Three Hierarchs Brotherhoods, which established a goal of setting up a program of social and material mutual aid among the parishioners of the Chicago-Streator parish, as members of the Orthodox Mutual Aid Society.9
Father John’s abundant labors for building up a healthy, flourishing parish life in the communities entrusted to him did not hinder him from fulfilling other important diocesan responsibilities that were laid upon him. So it was that, on April 1, 1897, Fr. John was appointed to be one of the members of the newly created Censorship Committee of the Diocese of Alaska and the Aleutians on texts in the Russian, Ukrainian, and English languages,10 and on May 22, 1899, Fr. John was appointed Chairman of the Board of the Mutual Aid Society11 by a decree of Tikhon, Bishop of Alaska and the Aleutians, who had recently arrived in the diocese. The varied labors of Fr. John were soon rewarded; after just the first years of his pastoral service, he received the marks of priestly distinction from the Most Reverend Bishop Nicholas.12
A significant obstacle to the normal functioning of the Church liturgical cycle at the Chicago-Streator parish was the condition of the buildings, which were unfit for the purpose. Saint Vladimir’s Church in Chicago occupied a small part of a rented edifice located in the southwestern part of the city. On the ground floor of the house the church itself was separated by a wall from the kitchen and a room where an attendant lived. On the first floor there were several small rooms which were occupied by Fr. John together with his family and by the church Reader. The church of the Three Hierarchs in Streator employed the lobby of the Russian section of the Chicago World Exhibition [the Columbian Exposition of 1892—Ed.].13
The assignment of Bishop Tikhon, the future Patriarch of Moscow, to the Diocese of Alaska and the Aleutians on 30 November, 1898, was especially significant for the resolution of problems of church life in the parish entrusted to Fr. John. Zealously fulfilling his hierarchical obligations, Bishop Tikhon already during the first months of his leadership of the see managed to visit practically all the Orthodox parishes scattered around the vast territory of the Diocese of Alaska and the Aleutians, in an effort to discern the most fundamental needs of the diocesan clergy. Arriving in Chicago for the first time on April 28, 1899, Bishop Tikhon gave his archpastoral blessing to Fr. John and to his flock, and by the next day he had already inspected a plot of land proposed as the site where the new church — so necessary for the parish in Chicago — would be constructed. On April 30, Bishop Tikhon visited the Three Hierarchs Church in Streator and served the vigil service at Saint Vladimir’s Church in Chicago. On the following day, after serving the Divine Liturgy, he approved the minutes of the meeting of the committee for the construction of the new church in Chicago, which was chaired by Fr. John.14
The limited financial resources of the Chicago-Streator parish, where the people being ministered to were primarily poor, did not permit Fr. John to begin the construction immediately. And since more than five years had already passed since the time of Fr. John’s arrival in North America, his great desire to visit his beloved Orthodox Russia for at least a brief time prompted him to submit an application to Bishop Tikhon requesting leave for the journey to his motherland.
Being above all mindful of the needs of the parish entrusted to him, Fr. John decided to use the vacation granted to him from January 15 till May 15, 1900, to collect money in Russia which would allow the Chicago parish to commence construction of the new church building and of the first Orthodox cemetery in the city.15 Successfully combining his journey to his motherland with significant fundraising for the parish, Fr. John soon after his return from leave embarked on the construction of the church, with Bishop Tikhon arriving on March 31, 1902, for the ceremony of the laying of its foundation.16
With true pastoral inspiration combined together with sober, practical record-keeping, Fr. John managed the construction of the new church, which was finished in 1903, requiring a very significant sum of money for that time, fifty thousand dollars.17 The consecration of the new temple, which was named in honor of the Holy Trinity, was performed by Bishop Tikhon, and it became a real festivity for the whole of the Russian Orthodox diocese in North America. Two years later, in greeting Fr. John on the occasion of his first ten years of service as a priest in the Church, the highest praise went to his careful pastoral labors in the construction of the Holy Trinity Church, which had become one of the most remarkable Orthodox churches in America: “The year has been filled with the most vivid of impressions, sometimes agonizing, sometimes good. A year of endlessly trying fund-raising in Russia, a year of sleepless nights, worn-out nerves, and countless woes — and here is the testimonial of your care: a temple made with hands, in the image of a magnificent Russian Orthodox temple, shining with its crosses in Chicago, and the peace and love not made with hands that are springing up in the hearts of your flock!”18 For his inspiring labors, Fr. John, thanks to the intercession of Bishop Tikhon, was awarded the Order of Saint Anna of the Third Degree, on May 6, 1903. 19
Zealously fulfilling his numerous obligations as a parish priest, he was the only priest there during the first nine years of his service in the parishes of Chicago and Streator. At the same time, Fr. John continued to participate actively in resolving various issues in the life of the North American diocese. In February 1904, Fr. John was assigned as a chairman of the Censor Committee of the Diocese of Alaska and the Aleutians, where he had already participated as a member of the council for seven years.20 In June 1905, he was an active participant in the preparatory meetings of diocesan clergy, held in Old Forge [Pa.] under the guidance of Bishop Tikhon, where issues were discussed in connection with preparation for the first Council in the history of the Diocese of North America and the Aleutians. It was in the solemn atmosphere of the sessions of this Council, on July 20, 1905, that Fr. John’s first decade of priestly service was celebrated, the actual date of the anniversary being August 27.
In Saint Michael’s Church in Old Forge, before a large group of diocesan clergy presided over by the Most Reverend Raphael, Bishop of Brooklyn, Fr. John was awarded a gold pectoral cross, and the speeches offered a perceptive and thoroughly objective description of the whole period of Fr. John’s pastoral service in North America. “Directly after your study at seminary, having left the motherland, you came to this strange land to expend all your youthful energy, to devote all your strength and inspiration for that holy concern to which you were attracted in your vocation. A hard legacy was left for you: the church in Chicago was located then in an untidy church setting, in a wet, half-ruined building, the parish with its loosely defined parish membership scattered over the huge city with a heterodox population torn asunder by the wild beasts — all that could fill the soul of a young laborer with great confusion, but you bravely accepted the task of selecting a precious spark from the pile of rubbish, to fan the sacred fire into a small group of faithful! You were forgetful of yourself: calamities, illnesses, the poor location of your house, with its ramshackle walls, floors, and cracks that gave open access to the outer elements, with destructive effects on your health, and the health of your family members…. Your babies were sick, your wife was not quite healthy, and bitter bouts of rheumatism seemed to wish to destroy your confidence, to exhaust your energy…. We greet you, remembering another of your good deeds, the performance of which is plaited as an unfading laurel in the crown of honor of your decade of sacred service: we have in mind here your sacrificial service in the office of Chairman of our beloved Mutual Aid Society, in the office of Censor to our enlightening missionary publishing house, and in spreading wide our evangelical efforts — organizing the parishes in Madison [Ill.] and Hartshorne [Okla.]. To complete your tribute, let us mention another circumstance, which magnifies the valor of your labor and the grandeur of its results. The remoteness of your parish in Chicago has torn you from your bonds with your colleagues in America, depriving you during these years of the chance to see your brother-pastors … You were bereft of that which for the majority of us adorns the missionary service through which we pass. How touching, and how great a degree of isolation was yours, is witnessed by the fact that you had to baptize your children yourself, because of the absence of the other priests around you … Let this Holy Cross we present serve you as a sign of our brotherly love, and the image of our Lord’s Crucifixion on it permit you to accept the hardships, misfortunes, and sufferings that are so often met with in the life of a missionary priest, and let it encourage you to more and more labors for the glory of the Giver of Exploits and the Chief Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ.”21
Less than a year after the celebration of the tenth anniversary of Fr. John’s priestly service he was granted by the highest Church authority one of the most honorable priestly orders, which deservedly crowned his genuine exploits in the Diocese of North America and the Aleutians. By order of the Holy Synod on May 6, 1906, Fr. John was elevated to the dignity of Archpriest.22
Thus, there began a qualitatively new period in Fr. John’s service: having become one of the most respected archpriests of the Diocese thanks to his outstanding pastoral work in his parish and in diocesan administrative activities, Fr. John, at the initiative of Bishop Tikhon who valued him highly, became more and more deeply involved in resolving the most pressing issues of diocesan administration. In May 1906, Fr. John was appointed dean of the New York area of the Eastern States,23 and in February 1907, he was destined to be one of the most energetic participants of the first North American Orthodox Council in Mayfield, which dealt with the rapidly increasing conversions within the Diocese of North America and the Aleutians in the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America, which was the basis on which the Orthodox Church in America was later founded.
During the period 1903-1907, the Chicago-Streator parish, built by his labors, was transformed into one of the most self-sufficient and flourishing diocesan parishes. But however successful the external circumstances of Fr. John’s service in North America may have seemed, his deep, fervent homesickness for his beloved Russia, which he had only seen once for a leave of several months in recent years, and the necessity of providing his three elder children with an undergraduate education in Russia, compelled Fr. John to think about the possibility of continuing his priestly ministry in his native Russian land. A rather significant circumstance furthering Fr. John’s submission of an application for transfer back to Russia was the insistent request of his elderly and seriously ailing father-in-law, who was a clergyman of the Diocese of Saint Petersburg, and who dreamt of handing over his parish to the guidance of such a deserving priest as Fr. John had shown himself to be. In accordance with his application, Fr. John received, on May 20, 1907, a release from his service in the Diocese of North America and the Aleutians, whereupon he began preparing himself for his move back to Russia. The week before their departure, however, Fr. John and his family had to bear some sudden startling news from Russia: Matushka Alexandra’s beloved parent had succumbed in advance of their return. In July 1907, leaving the Chicago-Streator parish which was so dear to his heart, and where he had given twelve years of missionary service, Fr. John set out for the unknown future that awaited him in his motherland, where he would spend the rest of his priestly service from thenceforth.24
Fr. John’s return to Russia in the summer of 1907 signified for him not only the beginning of his service in the Diocese of Saint Petersburg — familiar to him from his student years — but it challenged him with the need to apply the pastoral skills he had earlier acquired in America in the field of theological education. By order of the Saint Petersburg Church Consistory, in August 1907 Fr. John was assigned to the clergy of Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in Narva, and beginning August 15, 1907, he began to perform his duties as a teacher of Law in the male and the female gymnasiums in Narva.25 By order of the chief of the Saint Petersburg Area Educational Department, effective October 20, 1907, Fr. John was confirmed in his service in the male gymnasium as a teacher of God’s Law [this Russian term refers to the totality of Orthodox teaching — Ed.] and was a hired teacher of the same subject in the female gymnasium of Narva, which became the main sphere of his Church service for the next nine years of his life.26
The common way of life in small, provincial Narva, where the Russian Orthodox inhabitants consisted of scarcely half the population, brought back to Fr. John in some measure the atmosphere familiar to him in America, where he performed his pastoral service in a social environment permeated with heterodox influences. However, the circumstances of his work as a teacher of God’s Law in two secondary schools where the Russian cultural element and Orthodox religious ethos indisputably dominated, permitted Fr. John to feel that he was breathing an atmosphere of Russian Orthodox life reminiscent of his childhood.
Father John’s teaching load as a rule consisted in those years of sixteen hours a week in the male gymnasium and ten hours in the female one. This required of him a fairly significant effort, taking into account that to teach God’s Law in the different classes, because of the breadth of the subject, necessitated that a teacher be familiar with various matters of theological as well as of a mundane character.27 However, inasmuch as the twelve years of his labors at the Chicago-Streator parish had transformed Fr. John from an inexperienced beginner into one of the most authoritative pastors in the diocese, his nine years service of teaching God’s Law — not marked by any spectacular events, but filled with concentrated work in imparting spiritual enlightenment, was one in which Fr. John became a most conscientious practical Church teacher and learned Orthodox preacher. After just five years of teaching Divine Law in the Narva schools, Fr. John was awarded the Order of Saint Anna, Second Degree,28 on May 6, 1912, and after another four years Fr. John’s achievements in the field of theological education were celebrated by his being awarded the order of Saint Vladimir, Fourth Degree, which — added to numerous Church and State awards — gave the deserving archpriest the right of receiving the title of nobility.29
The manifest successes of Fr. John in his activity as a teacher during all these years were supplemented by his joy at the fact that all of his four elder sons, while studying in Narva gymnasium, had the opportunity to receive their spiritual upbringing under his immediate guidance.30
However, along with undeniable advantages of this new period of the pastoral service of Fr. John, after his return to his fatherland following many years of absence, there still existed a circumstance which could not help but burden the heart of such a genuine parish pastor as Fr. John was for the whole of his life. Being only attached to the Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in Narva, and not being a member of its staff clergy, Fr. John, because of the peculiarity of this situation, on account of his fulfilling his duties as a teacher of Gods Law at the gymnasium, was deprived not only of the chance to lead, but even to participate fully in the parish life of Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in Narva. Only in November of 1916, by order of the Saint Petersburg Church Consistory, was Fr. John assigned as a parish priest to the vacant second position at Saint Katherine’s Cathedral in Tsarskoye Selo,31 whereby his dream of resuming service as a parish pastor in the motherland was fulfilled.
Tsarskoye Selo, which had become the remarkable incarnation of a whole epoch in the history of Russian culture, happily combined in itself the qualities of a quiet provincial town with those of the resplendent capital of Saint Petersburg. Saint Katherine’s Cathedral occupied a special place in the town; of the parish churches there, which were predominantly parishes of the imperial court and of the military, it was the largest. In becoming a member of the clergy at Saint Katherine’s Cathedral, and taking up residence there together with his matushka and five children (the oldest son, Vladimir, was at the time fulfilling his military service),32 Fr. John received, at last, his longed-for chance to be immersed fully in the life of a parish priest in one of the most notable churches of the Saint Petersburg diocese. Having been warmly and respectfully received by the flock of Saint Katherine’s, Fr. John, from the first months of his service there, showed himself to be zealous and inspiring not only as a celebrant of the divine service, but also as an eloquent and well-informed preacher, who gathered under the eaves of Saint Katherine’s Cathedral Orthodox Christians from all around the town of Tsarskoye Selo.33 It seemed that so successful a beginning of parish service at Saint Katherine’s Cathedral would open for Fr. John a new period in his priestly service. In this period, Fr. John’s pastoral inspiration and sacrificial demeanor, so characteristic of him in his former activity, might be combined with the daily routine of the outward conditions of his service and with the spiritual and harmonious personal relationships between a diligent pastor and his numerous pious flock. But the cataclysms of the February Revolution that burst out in Petrograd just three months after Fr. John’s assignment to Saint Katherine’s began little by little to involve Tsarskoye Selo in the treacherous vortex of revolutionary events.
The soldiers’ riots that had taken place in the military headquarters at Tsarskoye Selo already during the first days of the Revolution, and the imprisonment of the royal family at Alexandrovsky palace over a period of many months, brought the town to the attention of representatives of the most extreme revolutionary elements. These circles had propelled the country toward the path of civil war, and eventually, complete internal political division, the beginnings of which lay in Russia’s participation in the bloodshed of World War I. These developments gradually changed the quiet atmosphere of Tsarskoye Selo, diverting the inhabitants’ attention from the conscientious fulfillment, day by day, of their Christian and civil responsibilities to Church and fatherland. And during all these troubled months the inspiring message of Fr. John continued to sound forth from the ambon of Saint Katherine’s Cathedral, as he strove to instill feelings of reconciliation into the souls of the Orthodox Christians of Tsarskoye Selo, calling them to the spiritual perception of their own inner life, so that they might understand the contradictory changes taking place in Russia.
For several days after the October 1917 seizure of power by the Bolsheviks in Petrograd, reverberations from the momentous events happening in the capital were felt in Tsarskoye Selo. Attempting to drive Gen. Paul Krasnov’s Cossack troops, which were still loyal to the Provisional Government, out of Tsarskoye Selo, the armored groups of the Red Guard — the soldiers and sailors supporting the Bolshevik upheaval — were coming there from Petrograd. On the morning of October 30, 1917, stopping at the outskirts of Tsarskoye Selo, the Bolshevik forces began to expose the town to artillery fire. The inhabitants of Tsarskoye Selo, like those in all of Russia, still did not suspect that the country was involved in a civil war. A tumult erupted, with many people running to the Orthodox churches, including Saint Katherine’s, in hopes of finding prayerful serenity at the services, and of hearing from the ambon a pastoral exhortation pertaining to the events taking place. All the clergy of Saint Katherine’s Cathedral eagerly responded to their flock spiritual entreaties, and a special Moleben, or prayer service, seeking an end to the civil conflict, was offered beneath the arches of the church, which was jammed with worshippers. Afterwards, the dean of the Cathedral, the archpriest N. Smirnov, together with two other priests, Fr. John and Fr. Steven Fokko, reached a decision to organize a sacred procession in the town, with the reading of fervent prayers for a cessation of the fratricidal civil strife. The pages of the newspaper All-Russian Church Social Messenger presented, for several days, the testimony of a certain Petrograd newspaper correspondent describing the events which had taken place, as follows: “The Sacred Procession had to be relocated under the conditions of an artillery bombardment, and notwithstanding any predictions it was rather crowded. The lamentations and cries of women and children drowned out the words of the peace prayer. Two priests delivered sermons during the procession, calling the people to preserve tranquility in view of the impending trials. I was fortunate enough to understand clearly that the priests’ sermons did not contain any political tinges.”
The Holy Procession lingered. Twilight changed into darkness. Candles were lit in the hands of the praying people. Everybody was singing.
Precisely at that time the Cossacks were withdrawing from the town. The priests were warned about it. Isn’t it time to stop the prayers?! We shall carry our duties to completion, they declared. These have departed from us, and those who are coming are our brothers! What kind of harm will they do us?!34
Wishing to prevent an outbreak of fighting in the streets of Tsarskoye Selo, the Cossack leadership began to withdraw troops from the town on the evening of October 30, and on the morning of the 31st the Bolshevik forces entered Tsarskoye Selo, encountering no opposition. One of the anonymous witnesses to the aftermath of these tragic events wrote a letter to the prominent Saint Petersburg Archpriest F. Ornatsky, who himself was destined to receive martyrdom at the hands of the godless authorities. The writer told in simple but profound words of the passion-bearing that became the destiny of Fr. John. “Yesterday (on October 31),” he wrote, “when the Bolsheviks, together with the Red Guard, entered Tsarskoye Selo, they began to make the rounds of the apartments of the military officers, making arrests. Fr. John (Alexandrovich Kochurov) was conveyed to the outskirts of the town, to Saint Theodore’s Cathedral, and there they assassinated him because of the fact that those who organized the sacred procession had allegedly been praying for a victory by the Cossacks, which surely was not, and could not have been, what actually happened. The other clergymen were released yesterday evening. Thus, there has appeared another Martyr for the Faith in Christ. The deceased, though he had not been in Tsarskoye Selo for long, had gained the utmost love of all, and many people used to gather to listen to his preaching.”35
The Petrograd journalist mentioned earlier reconstructed a terrifying picture of Fr. John’s martyrdom and its aftermath, ascertaining these details: The priests were captured and sent to the headquarters of the Council of the Working and Soldiers Deputies. A priest, Fr. John Kochurov, was trying to protest and to clarify the situation. He was hit several times on his face. With cheers and yelling the enraged mob conveyed him to the Tsarskoye Selo airdrome. Several rifles were raised against the defenseless pastor. A shot thundered out, then another, after which the priest fell down on the ground, and blood spilled upon his cassock. Death did not come to him immediately … He was pulled by his hair, and somebody suggested, “Finish him off like a dog.” The next morning the body was brought into the former palace hospital. According to the newspaper The Peoples’ Affair, the head of the State Duma, together with one of its members, saw the body of the priest, but the pectoral cross was already gone from his breast…36
This latter circumstance accompanying Fr. John’s martyrdom, as mentioned by the reporter, takes on a particular spiritual significance when viewed against the background of some words spoken by Fr. John twelve years before his death, which proved to be prophetic. In faraway America, when he received his gold pectoral cross at the ceremony marking the tenth anniversary of his priestly service, he said with emphasis, “I kiss this Holy Cross, a gift of your brotherly love for me. Let it be my support in times of tribulation. I will utter no pathetic comments about my intention not to be separated from it even till my grave: that would have a grandiloquent sound, but would not be prudent. It does not have any place in a grave. Let it remain here on earth for my children and posterity as a family Holy Relic, and as a clear proof that brotherhood and friendship are the most sacred things on the earth….”37
In this manner did Fr. John express his gratitude towards his colleagues and his flock, not suspecting that this very prayer about that brotherhood and friendship would descend on the Russian Orthodox people at a time when love and clemency were scarce in long-suffering Russia — provoking a pitiless hatred towards him from the side of the apostates, who deprived him of his earthly life and snatched away the pectoral cross from his chest, but were not able to rob him of the imperishable glory of Orthodox martyrdom.
At the beginning of November 1917, the Bolshevik power could not yet secure unfettered control even over the suburbs of Petrograd, and terror on a state level had not yet become an unavoidable part of Russian life. So, with the populace of Tsarskoye Selo and Petrograd in a state of complete horror and exasperation, this first malicious execution of a Russian Orthodox priest inspired the former organs of power, who were not yet ousted by the Bolsheviks, to form an investigating commission which included the two representatives of the Petrograd city council. It was soon abolished by the Bolsheviks, without having managed to identify Fr. John’s murderers.38
For Russian Church life, however, this first martyrdom of a Russian Orthodox pastor in the twentieth century was deeply significant.
It aroused a profound spiritual response within the hearts of many laity, clergy, and hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Church service for the departed and his burial in the crypt of Saint Katherine’s Cathedral in Tsarskoye Selo39 were served by the shocked local clergy in an atmosphere of great dismay and anxiety. At the time, the Most Reverend Benjamin, Metropolitan of Petrograd, the future Holy Martyr, was attending the All-Russian Church Council being held in Moscow. Within a few days after the burial, the leadership of the Petrograd diocese, with Metropolitan Benjamin’s blessing, published the following announcement in the newspaper All-Russian Church-Social Herald:
“On Wednesday, November 8, the ninth day after the death of Fr. John Kochurov who was murdered October 31 in Tsarskoye Selo, a hierarchical Panikhida will be served in Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral at 3 p.m. for the eternal memory of Archpriest John and of all the Orthodox Christians who have perished in a time of civil conflict. Parish clergy free of serving obligations are invited for the Panikhida. Vestments should be white.40
“Soon after this hierarchical Panikhida served in Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral, the diocesan council of Petrograd published a proclamation To the Clergy and the Parish councils of the Diocese of Petrograd. This became the first official recognition of the martyric character of Fr. John’s death pronounced in the name of the Church, but also the first Church statement to specify concrete measures of assistance to the families of clergymen persecuted and assassinated by the theomachists in Russia. In this remarkable document of church history — eloquently expressed, with deep humility in the face of the anticipated future persecution of the Church, and embodying genuine sympathy for Fr. John’s bereaved family — the leadership of the Petrograd diocese reacted to the death of the first diocesan Holy Martyr:
“Dear brothers,” began the statement by the Petrograd diocesan council, “on October 31 of this year the town of Tsarskoye Selo suffered the martyrdom of one of the good shepherds of the Petrograd diocese, the Archpriest of the local Cathedral, John Alexandrovich Kochurov. Without any blame or justification for this on his part, he was seized in his apartment, conveyed to the suburbs, and was there, in an open field, shot by the possessed mob….
“It was with feelings of profound sorrow that the Petrograd diocesan council received this news; the grief has been considerably augmented by the realization that, with the Archpriest’s demise, a large family is left behind, consisting of six members who now are without food, shelter, or any means of subsistence.
“God is the Judge of the cunning villains who violently ended the life that was still young. Even if they flee unpunished from trial at the hands of men, they can never elude the judgment of God. But our obligation now is not only to pray for the peace of soul of this innocent sufferer, but with all our sincere love to attempt to treat the deep and incurable wound that has been inflicted on the very hearts of the poor bereaved family. The diocese and the diocesan clergy are directly obligated to provide for the martyred pastors orphaned family, to give them the opportunity to live in material comfort, and to provide the children with a proper education.
“The diocesan Church council, being moved by the loftiest of sentiments, now appeals to the clergy, parish councils, and all the Orthodox faithful of the diocese of Petrograd with an ardent entreaty, asking most earnestly, for the sake of Christ’s love, that you stretch forth a brotherly helping hand, and by whatever amount you can offer, support a poor family left to be at the mercy of fate. Great is the need, and it should not be delayed!
“…His martyrdom is, for each of us, a dire reminder, an ominous warning. We therefore must be ready for anything. And to prevent such situations of destitution as we now have, we must prepare, between the times of trial, an assistance fund to be allotted for the defenseless, persecuted, and tormented clergy that in such cases and in similar ones they may have material aid from their kindred in spirit.
“…Through the deans special lists will be sent to each parish in the diocese for the collection of donations, those that are voluntary and from the Church funds, for help to the family of the deceased Archpriest John Kochurov, and also for the establishment of the special fund for assistance to the clergy in all similar cases.
“…An immense task requires means commensurate with it. The diocesan Church council hopes that with God’s help such means will be found. The modest offering of the diocese and clergy, made voluntarily and laid on the Christian conscience of each person, will provide an opportunity for drying the tears of the unhappy orphans and for making a beginning of that concern for good brotherly assistance, for which our clergy have a great need particularly now….
“It has thundered; now is the time to make the sign of the Cross!”41
On one of his regular visits to his diocese during the All-Russian Church Council in Moscow, Metropolitan Benjamin served the Divine Liturgy on November 26, for the patronal feast at Saint Katherine’s Cathedral in Tsarskoye Selo. The Liturgy ended with a fervent exhortation from the hierarch, during which he appealed to the people for unity, love, and brotherhood, wrote a correspondent for the All Russian Church-Social Herald. The Metropolitan also mentioned the terrible event, the assassination of the beloved pastor of the local Church, Fr. John Kochurov; he noted that though it is a very sad occasion, it has been a cause of reconciliation as well, through the realization that the pastor had laid down his life for love of God and of neighbor, providing an example of martyrdom. The archpastoral message had a strong effect on everyone, and tears were seen on many faces. Following the Liturgy, the Litia for the departed took place at Fr. John’s tomb in the burial-vault of the cathedral. After the service the Metropolitan visited the rectory, where he met the family of the deceased.42 Thus, a second time — and now from the mouth of the diocesan hierarch, who remembered the slain clergyman of his diocese — the Russian Orthodox Church characterized Fr. John’s death as a martyrdom.
The All-Russian Church Council was just then taking place in Moscow, and this death had deeply touched the hearts of the delegates, arousing loud lamentation. Archpriest P. Mirtov was commissioned to compose a proclamation expressing the sense of the Council, giving information about the untimely death of the deceased Fr. John Kochurov, who fell victim while zealously fulfilling the obligations of his rank.43
The Most Holy Patriarch Tikhon had become well acquainted with Fr. John during the many years they worked together in the diocese of North America and the Aleutians, and felt therefore a deep respect for him. Expressing a genuine conviction formed at the Council that the Russian Orthodox Church had gained a new martyr saint in the event of Fr. John’s death, the Patriarch dispatched a letter of sympathy to Alexandra Kochurova, the deceased pastor’s widow: “With great sadness the Most Holy Council of the Russian Orthodox Church has received a report concerning the martyrdom of Father John Alexandrovich Kochurov, who has fallen victim while zealously fulfilling the obligations of his rank,” wrote the future Confessor, the Most Holy Patriarch Tikhon. “Joining our prayers with those of the Holy Council for the repose of the soul of the slain Archpriest John, we share your great grief, and we do that with a special love, because we knew well the deceased Archpriest, and have always held his inspiring and strong pastoral activity in high estimation.
“We bear in our hearts the sure hope that the deceased pastor, adorned with the wreath of martyrdom, now stands at the Throne of God among the elect of Christ’s true flock. The holy Council, with earnest sympathy for your bereaved family, has decided to petition the Holy Synod to give you the proper assistance.
“May the Lord help you to endure the trial sent to you by the ways of God’s Providence, and preserve you and your children unharmed amid the storms and calamities of our time.
“We invoke God’s blessing on you and on your family. Patriarch Tikhon.”
Exactly five months after Fr. Johns death, on March 31, 1918 — by which time the number of murdered clergymen known to the Holy Synod had already reached fifteen — the first Memorial Liturgy for the New Hieromartyrs and Martyrs in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church in the twentieth century was served in the church of the Moscow Theological Seminary, by the Most Holy Patriarch Tikhon, four other hierarchs, and ten archimandrites and protopresbyters. At the Memorial Liturgy and Panikhida, when the supplicatory prayer was pronounced for the repose of the servants of God who have perished for the Faith and the Orthodox Church, following mention of the first slain hierarch, Metropolitan Vladimir, the first-slain Archpriest, Father John Kochurov, was remembered, who by his passion-bearing death ushered in the service offered by the confessors, the assembly of the Russian New-Martyrs of the twentieth century.45
Sources and Literature
1. The central state historical archive of Saint Petersburg (CSHA of S.-P.), F. 14 University of Petrograd, 3, f.31575, the personal folder of the student Dmitry Alexandrovich Kochurov.
2. CSHA of S.-P., F.19 The Church Consistory of Petrograd, 113, f.4167, the clergy list of the Holy Transfiguration cathedral in Narva from 1908, f.4333; ibid. from 1916, f.4366, the clergy list of the Saint Katherine cathedral in Tsarkoye Selo.
3. CSHA of S.-P., F.139 the Office of the dean of the department of education of Saint Petersburg, 1, f.11305, the annual assessment of the condition of the male gymnasium in Narva from 1908.
4. CSHA of S.-P., F.277 Saint Petersburg Theological Academy, 1, f.3220, the lists of the seminarians come to the examinations in the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy in August of 1891.
5. American Orthodox Messenger (until 1898 The Orthodox American Messenger), 1896, NN1, 7; N14; 1898, N24; 1899, N11; 1900, N10; 1901, N1; 1902, N8; 1904, N5; 1905 N17; 1906, NN10,11; 1907, N14.
6. Vserosiysky Tserkovno-Obschestvenniy Vestynik, 1917, 2 Nov., 5 Nov., 1 Dec., 15 Dec.
7. Pribavleniye k Tserkovnim vedomostyam, 1918, N5-16.
8. Tsarskoselskoye Delo, 1916, 18 Nov.
9. Tserkovniye vedomosty, 1912, N18; 1916, N18-19; 1917, N48-50; 1918, N15-16.
10. Circulars of the Department of Education of Saint Petersburg from 1907.
11. Maltsev, A. The Orthodox Church and Russian establishments abroad (in Russian; Saint Petersburg, 1906).
1The central state historical archive of Saint Petersburg (CSHA of S.-P.), F. 14,3, f. 31575, 1.8, 10.
2CSHA of S.-P., F. 277, 1, f. 3220, par. 1,2,3,4,5,6,8.
3CSHA of S.-P., F. 19, 113, f. 4167, par. 37.
4American Orthodox Messenger (AOM), 1907, N14, p. 269.
5SCHA of S.-P., F. 19, 113, f. 4167, par. 37.
6AOM, 1898, N24, pp. 681-682.
7AOM, 1896, N7, p. 117.
8AOM, 1898, N24, p. 682.
10AOM, 1897, N14, p. 290.
11AOM, 1900, N10, p. 215.
12AOM, 1896, N1, p. 14; CSHA of S.-P., F. 19, 113, f. 4167, par. 38-39.
13AOM, 1898, N24, p. 682.
14AOM 1899, N11, pp. 305-306.
15AOM, 1901, N1, pp. 26, 32.
16AOM, 1902, N8, pp. 171-173.
17A. Maltsev. The Russian Orthodox churches and institutions abroad. Saint Petersburg, 1906, p. 419 (in Russian).
18AOM, 1905, N17, pp. 340-341.
19CSHA of S.-P., F. 19, 113, f. 4167, par. 40.
20AOM, 1904, N5, p. 81.
21AOM, 1905, N17, pp. 340-342.
22AOM, 1906, N10, p. 206.
23AOM, 1906, N11, p. 229.
24AOM, 1907, N14, pp. 269-270.
25CSHA of S.-P., F. 19, 113, f. 4167, par. 37.
26Circular of the Department of Education of Saint Petersburg, from 1907, p. 294.
27CSHA of S.-P., F. 139, 1, f. 11305, par. 28.
28Tserkovniye vedornosty, a newspaper, 1912, N18, p. 128.
29Ibid., 1916, N18-19, p. 167.
30CSHA of S.-P., F. 19, 113, f. 4333, p. 12.
31Tsarskoselskoye Delo, 1916, 18 Nov.
32CSHA of S.-P., F. 19, 113, f. 4366, 1.20.
33Vserosiysky Tserkovno-0bschestvenniy vestnik (VTOV), 1917, 5 Nov.
37AOM, 1905, N17, pp. 340-342.
38VTOV, 1917, 5 Nov.
39VTOV, 1917, 1 Dec.
40VTOV, 1917, 7 Nov.
41Tserkovniye vedomosty, 1917, N48-50. pp. 2-3.
42VT OV, 1917, 1 Dec.
43VTOV, 1917, 2 Nov.
44VTOV, 1917, 15 Dec.
45Pribavleniye k Tserkovnym vedomostyam, 1918, N15-16, p.519.
Saint Stachys, one of the Seventy Apostles, was ordained as Bishop of Byzantium by Saint Andrew (November 30). He founded a church at Argyropolis, and many people gathered there to hear him preach. He was a good shepherd to his flock, zealously proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, converting many to the true Faith, and laboring tirelessly for their salvation for sixteen years. He departed to the Lord in peace.
Saints Amplίas and Urban were also made Bishops by Saint Andrew. Amplίas was the Bishop of Diopolis, and Urban was the Bishop of Macedonia. They also suffered martyrdom because they were destroying the pagan idols.
Saint Nárcissus was appointed as Bishop of Athens by the Apostle Philip. He was tortured and put to death by the idol-worshippers because of his zeal in proclaiming the truth of the Gospel.
Saint Apellēs was the Bishop of Herakleia, and he brought many to the Christian Faith.
Saint Aristóboulos, one of the Seventy Apostles, was the brother of Saint Barnabas (June 11) and proclaimed the Gospel in Britain, where he died in peace. He is also commemorated on March 16, but on March 15 in Greek usage.
Saint Aristobulus, one of the Seventy Apostles, was the brother of Saint Barnabus (June 11) and proclaimed the Gospel in Britain, where he died in peace. He is also commemorated on March 16.
The Holy Martyr Epίmakhos of Alexandria was a native of Egypt. For a long time he lived in seclusion on Mount Pēlousium. When he learned that Christians were being persecuted in Alexandria, Saint Epίmakhos entered the city and destroyed some pagan idols, declaring that he too was a Christian. Apellianos, the eparch of Alexandria, ordered him to sacrifice to the idols, and when the Saint refused to do this, he commanded that he be tortured.
Among those who witnessed his suffering was a woman who was blind in one eye. A drop of the Martyr's blood fell into her eye and she received her sight. Thus, the woman came to believe in Christ. After enduring many fierce torments, the Saint was beheaded with a sword.
The Holy Martyr Epίmakhos is also commemorated on March 11 (the transfer of his relics).
Saints Spyridon and Νikόdēmos, the Prosphora-bakers of the Kiev Caves fulfilled their obedience of baking prosphora for thirty years. Saint Spyridon came to the monastery in the time of Igoumen Pimen (1132-1141), when he was no longer a young man. He was illiterate, but knew the entire Psalter by heart. The ascetic combined his work with unceasing prayer and chanting all the Psalms every day. Even during his lifetime Saint Spyridon was glorified by miracles.
Once, his mantiya caught fire from the stove. The fire was extinguished, but his mantiya remained whole. Saint Νikόdēmos labored with Saint Spyridon and led a very strict life. Their relics are in the Near Caves of Saint Anthony. The fingers of Saint Spyridon’s right hand are positioned to make the Sign of the Cross with three fingers.
Saints Spyridon and Νikόdēmos are also commemorated on August 28 (Synaxis of the Saints of the far Caves of Saint Theodosios), September 28 (Synaxis of the Saints of the Near Caves of Saint Anthony), and on the second Sunday of Great Lent (Synaxis of all the Venerable Fathers of the Kiev Caves).
Saint Maura pursued asceticism at Constantinople, where she founded a monastery, where she died in the fifth century.
In 1227 Sultan Jalal al-Din of Khwarazm and his army of Turkmen attacked Georgia. On the first day of the battle the Georgian army valorously warded off the invaders as they were approaching Tbilisi. That night, however, a group of Persians who were living in Tbilisi secretly opened the gates and summoned the enemy army into the city.
According to one manuscript in which this most terrible day in Georgian history was described: “Words are powerless to convey the destruction that the enemy wrought: tearing infants from their mothers’ breasts, they beat their heads against the bridge, watching as their eyes dropped from their skulls….”
A river of blood flowed through the city. The Turkmen castrated young children, raped women, and stabbed mothers to death over their children’s lifeless bodies. The whole city shuddered at the sound of wailing and lamentation. The river and streets of the city were filled with death.
The sultan ordered that the cupola of Sioni Cathedral be taken down and replaced by his vile throne. And at his command the icons of the Theotokos and our Savior were carried out of Sioni Cathedral and placed at the center of the bridge across the Mtkvari River. The invaders goaded the people to the bridge, ordering them to cross it and spit on the holy icons. Those who betrayed the Christian Faith and mocked the icons were spared their lives, while the Orthodox confessors were beheaded.
One hundred thousand Georgians sacrificed their lives to venerate the holy icons. One hundred thousand severed heads and headless bodies were carried by the bloody current down the Mtkvari River.
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5TH SUNDAY OF LUKE
5th Sunday of Luke, The Holy Martyrs Zenobius and His Sister Zenobia, Cleopas and Artemas of the 70 Apostles, Joseph, Patriarch of Constantinople
Brethren, I would have you know that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; and I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.
The Lord said, "There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazaros, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazaros in his bosom. And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazaros to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazaros in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' But Abraham said, 'They have Moses, and the prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to them, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'
The Hieromartyr Zenobius, Bishop of Aegea, and his sister Zenobia suffered a martyr’s death in the year 285 in Cilicia. From childhood they were raised in the holy Christian Faith by their parents, and they led pious and chaste lives. In their mature years, shunning the love of money, they distributed away their inherited wealth giving it to the poor. For his beneficence and holy life the Lord rewarded Zenobius with the gift of healing various maladies. He was also chosen bishop of a Christian community in Cilicia.
As bishop, Saint Zenobius zealously spread the Christian Faith among the pagans. When the emperor Diocletian (284-305) began a persecution against Christians, Bishop Zenobius was the first one arrested and brought to trial to the governor Licius. “I shall only speak briefly with you,” said Licius to the saint, “for I propose to grant you life if you worship our gods, or death, if you do not.” The saint answered, “This present life without Christ is death. It is better that I prepare to endure the present torment for my Creator, and then with Him live eternally, than to renounce Him for the sake of the present life, and then be tormented eternally in Hades.”
By order of Licius, they nailed him to a cross and began the torture. The bishop’s sister, seeing him suffering, wanted to stop it. She bravely confessed her own faith in Christ before the governor, therefore, she also was tortured.
By the power of the Lord they remained alive after being placed on a red-hot iron bed, and then in a boiling kettle. The saints were then beheaded. The priest Hermogenes secretly buried the bodies of the martyrs in a single grave.
Saint Zenobius is invoked by those suffering from breast cancer.
Saint Tertius was the second bishop (after Saint Sosipater) in Iconium, where he converted many pagans to Christ, and ended his life as a martyr. The Apostle Paul mentions him in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 16:22).
Saint Mark, also called John, (Acts 12:12), was a nephew of Saint Barnabas, and was Bishop of Apollonia (Col. 4:10). It was in the house of his mother Maria that the persecuted disciples found shelter after the Ascension of the Lord.
Saint Justus, called Barsaba, a son of Saint Joseph the Betrothed, was chosen with Matthias to replace Judas. He was a bishop and died a martyr’s death at Eleutheropolis.
Saint Artemas was bishop of Lystra, Lycia. He died in peace.
The Holy Hieromartyr Marcian, Bishop of Syracuse, a disciple of the Apostle Peter, was sent to Sicily. Here he settled in a cave near the city of Syracuse and successfully spread the faith in Christ. He died a martyr. His relics are in the Italian city of Gaeta. The Hieromartyr Marcian is the same person as Saint Marcellus, Bishop of Sicily, commemorated on February 9.
The Martyr Eutropia suffered for Christ in Alexandria in about the year 250. Often visiting Christians locked up in prison, she encouraged them to endure suffering with patience. For this, the saint was arrested. At her trial she firmly confessed her faith in Christ. As she was being burned with candles, a man appeared beside her and soothed her sufferings. He bedewed her so that she did not feel the heat of the flames. She died after these grievous tortures.
Saint Anastasia lived in the second half of the third century during the persecutions of Decius, Gallus, Valerian, and Diocletian. She was executed in Rome between 256-259 after enduring many tortures.
Saint Stephen was the younger son of King Stephen Urosh I, and grandson of First-Crowned King Saint Stephen (September 24). He ruled Serbia from 1275 to 1320. Stephen Milutin received the throne from his elder brother Saint Dragutin who, after a short reign, transferred power over to Stephen.
Saint Stephen Milutin, after he became king, bravely defended, by both word and by deed, the Orthodox Serbs and other Orthodox peoples from their enemies. Saint Stephen did not forget to thank the Lord for His beneficence. He built more than forty churches, and also many monasteries and hostels for travelers. The saint particularly concerned himself with the Athonite monasteries.
When the Serbian kingdom fell, the monasteries remained centers of national culture and Orthodoxy for the Serbian nation. Saint Stephen died on October 29, 1320 and was buried at the Bansk monastery. After two years his incorrupt relics were uncovered.
Saint Dragutin was the brother of Saint Stephen Milutin, the son of King Stephen Urosh I, and the grandson of First-Crowned King Saint Stephen (September 24). Dragutin, a true Christian, after a short reign, abdicated in favor of his brother Stephen. He withdrew to Srem, secretly living as an ascetic in a grave which he dug with his own hands. During his righteous life, Saint Dragutin toiled much over converting the Bogomil heretics to the true Faith. He surrendered his soul to God on March 2, 1316.
Saint Helen, a pious mother to her sons Stephen Milutin and Dragutin, devoted her whole life to pious deeds after the death of her husband. She built a shelter for the poor, and a monastery for those who wished to live in purity and virginity. Near the city of Spich, she built the Rechesk monastery and endowed it with the necessities.
Before her death, Saint Helen received monastic tonsure and departed to the Lord on February 8, 1306.
The Ozeryanka Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is from an area near Kharkov, and is of the Hodēgḗtria type.
In 1446 George VIII was crowned ruler of a united Georgian kingdom. Filled with every virtue, the valiant warrior and God-fearing king dedicated the twenty years of his reign to a ceaseless struggle for the reunification of his country. He was constantly warding off foreign invaders, surmounting internal strife, and suffering the betrayal of his fellow countrymen.
One of the separatists was the ruler of Samtskhe, the atabeg Qvarqvare Jakeli II (1451-1498). In 1465 King George led his troops toward southern Georgia to attack the rebellious atabeg.
Near Lake Paravani the traitors dispatched assassins to the king’s camp.
Among those who served in the royal court was a certain Jotham Zedgenidze, a man deeply devoted to his king. He heard about the dreadful conspiracy and warned the king, but the noble and fearless George did not believe that such a loathsome betrayal could ever take place.
Desperate to convince the king of the very real and imminent danger, the devoted Jotham told him, “Allow me to spend this night in your bed and prove the truth of my words!”
Certain that his beloved courtier was mistaken and that his unmeasured love and dedication were the reasons for his suspicions, King George permitted him to spend the night in the royal bed.
The next morning King George entered his tent and found his beloved Jotham lying in a pool of blood. Immediately he began weeping bitterly over his error. He arrested and executed the conspirators and buried his faithful servant with great honor.
The Georgian Church numbers Jotham Zedgenidze among the saints for his devotion to God’s anointed king.
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October 30, 2022
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Galatians 1:11-19: Brethren, I would have you know that the Gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the Church of God violently and tried to destroy it; and I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people; so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when He Who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son to me, in order that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other Apostles except James the Lord’s brother.
Luke 16:19-31: The Lord said, “There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
Troparion of the Resurrection: Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad; for the Lord hath done a mighty act with his own arm. He hath trampled down death and become the First-born from the dead. He hath delivered us from the depths of hades, granting the world the Great Mercy.
Troparion of Sts. Zenobius and Zenobia: Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ strengthless presumption. O Christ our God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Troparion of the Chains of St. Peter: O Holy Apostle, Peter, thou dost preside over the Apostles by the precious chains which thou didst bear. We venerate them with faith and beseech thee that by thine intercessions we be granted the great mercy.
Kontakion of the Theotokos: O undisputed intercessor of Christians, O mediatrix, who is unrejected by the Creator, turn not away from the voice of our petitions though we be sinners; come to us in time, who cry to thee in faith, for thou art good. Hasten to us with intercessions, O Theotokos, who didst ever intercede for those who honor thee.
UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE: All services listed on the calendar will be available through streaming and webcast.
Sunday, October 30 (Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost)
8:50 a.m. — Orthros (webcast)
9:00 a.m. — Christian Education
10:00 a.m. — Divine Liturgy (webcast)
Monday, October 31
Father Herman off
Tuesday, November 1 (Cosmas and Damian of Asia)
Wednesday, November 2
6:30 p.m. — Daily Vespers
7:15 p.m. — Chanters’ Practice
Thursday, November 3 (Dedication of the Church of St. George)
Friday, November 4
Saturday, November 5 (Raphael, Bishop of Brooklyn)
9:00 a.m. — Orthros followed by Divine Liturgy
NO Great Vespers
Sunday, November 6 (Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost)
8:50 a.m. — Orthros (webcast)
9:00 a.m. — Christian Education
10:00 a.m. — Divine Liturgy (webcast)
The Eucharist Bread …was offered by the Davises for the Divine Liturgy this morning.
Eucharist Bread Schedule:
Eucharist Bread Coffee Hour
October 30 Davis Meadows/Pacurari/Cooper
November 5 (Sat. a.m.) Meadows Pigott/Stewart
(Feast of St. Raphael, Bishop of Brooklyn)
November 6 D. Root Algood/Schelver
November 13 Karam POT LUCK MEAL
November 20 Brock D. Root/Baker
November 20 (Sun. p.m.) R. Root (Artoklasia Bread)
(Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple)
November 27 Pacurari Henderson/Jones
Schedule for Epistle Readers – Page numbers refer to the Apostolos (book of the Epistles) located on the Chanters’ stand at the front of the nave. Please be sure to use this book when you read.
Reader Reading Page#
October 30 Sophie Dansereau Gal. 1:11-19 188
November 5 (Sat. a.m.) Ian Jones Heb. 7:26-8:2 334
November 6 Brenda Baker Gal. 2:16-20 193
November 13 Walt Wood Heb. 7:26-8:2 334
November 20 Sam Habeeb Eph. 2:4-10 202
November 27 Sh. Charlotte Algood Eph. 2:14-22 207
Also, please remember that we still need your tithes and offerings which may be placed in the tray that is passed during the Divine Liturgy, in the tithe box at the back of the nave or be mailed to: St. Peter Orthodox Church, P.O. Box 2084, Madison, MS 39130-2084.
Please remember the following in your prayers: Aidan Milnor, the Milnor family; Lamia Dabit and her family; Mary Greene (Lee and Kh. Sharon’s sister); Jay and Joanna Davis; Fr. Leo and Kh. Be’Be’ Schelver and their family; Kathy Willingham; Marilyn (Kyriake) Snell; Jack and Jill Weatherly; Lottie Dabbs (Sh. Charlotte Algood’s mother), Sh. Charlotte and their family; Maria Costas (currently at St. Catherine’s Village); Reader Basil and Brenda Baker and their family; Buddy Cooper; Georgia and Bob Buchanan.
Continue to pray for Metropolitan Paul (who is also the brother of our Patriarch) and the Syriac Archbishop John of Aleppo who were abducted while on a humanitarian mission in Syria.
Please remember Fr. Joseph and Kh. Joanna Bittle, and their daughter Abigail, in your prayers.
Instructions for streaming our services can be found on the parish website.
Many Years to Chad Miller who was tonsured as a Reader by Bishop NICHOLAS last Sunday.
October is Teen Month in our Archdiocese. In keeping with that, our teens will be reading the Epistle during the Divine Liturgy this month.
Sunnybrook Children’s Home is beginning a Transitional Home for children aging out of foster care. Their goal is to make sure these children complete high school, and help them pursue further education and develop life skills to allow them to function well in their lives as adults. If you wish to make a donation to this worthwhile endeavor, please make your check out to St. Peter and be sure to mark “Sunnybrook” on the memo line. (This is separate from our annual St. Nicholas Offering.)
Time Change for Liturgy for the Feast of the Nativity: We have been given permission to celebrate the liturgy for the Feast at an earlier time instead of the late-night service we have had in the past. This year Orthros will begin at 5:30 p.m. on December 24th followed by the Divine Liturgy around 6:30 p.m. We will have our festal meal afterwards and hope to be finished around 9:00 – 9:30 p.m.
PARENTS, a problem has arisen due to the nursery room being left messy after Coffee Hour. No food of any kind should be taken into that room. Also, it is necessary for a parent to be in the room whenever their children are in there playing. Thank you for your assistance with this.
* The men of the parish meet for lunch at 11:30 a.m. on the first Thursday of the month.
* The Ladies meet at the church at 10:00 a.m. on the second Saturday of the month to pray the Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children on behalf of our children. However, the ladies will NOT meet for the month of November, due to the wedding on November 12th. (See Calendar Items below.)
* The Ladies meet for lunch on the last Tuesday of the month.
* Gabriella Alaeetawi and Gavin McIntire will be married at St. Peter on Saturday, November 12th at 10:30 a.m. Please remember them in your prayers.
* The Fast of the Nativity begins on November 15th and runs through December 24th. As is our custom in the parish during this fast, we will celebrate the Advent Paraklesis service on Wednesday evenings instead of Daily Vespers. However, there will be no service on Wednesday evening, November 23rd due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
* Andrew Spiehler will be chrismated and Noah Shockley will be baptized on Saturday, November 19th. Please keep them both in your prayers.
* We will celebrate the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple with Great Vespers with Litia and Artoklasia on Sunday evening, November 20th, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The DOMSE Annual Clergy and Winter Retreat will be held once more at St. Elias Church in Atlanta. The dates are as follows:
Clergy Retreat January 25-26, 2023
Winter Retreat January 27-28, 2023
Winter Camp will be held at Camp St. Thekla on February 17-20, 2023 for ages 12-17. Registration for campers is available November 1 – December 15, 2022.
Fasting Discipline for November
In November, the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, dairy, eggs, fish, wine or oil) is observed on Wednesdays and Fridays until the 15th of the month, when the Fast of the Nativity begins. During this fast the traditional fasting discipline is observed on each day of the week. Note, however, through December 19th there is a katlysis on Tuesdays and Thursdays when wine and oil are permitted, and on Saturdays and Sundays when fish, wine and oil are permitted.
Major Commemorations for November
November 1 Cosmas and Damian of Asia
November 3 Dedication of the Church of St. George
November 5 Raphael, Bishop of Brooklyn
November 8 Archangels Michael and Gabriel
November 9 Nektarios of Pentapolis
November 13 John Chrysostom (repose)
November 14 Apostle Philip
November 16 Apostle Matthew
November 21 Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple
November 25 Great-martyrs Catherine and Mercurios
November 30 Apostle Andrew, the First-called
Quotable: “If a man has no worries about himself at all for the sake of love toward God and the working of good deeds, knowing that God is taking care of him, this is a true and wise hope. But if a man takes care of his own business and turns to God in prayer only when misfortunes come upon him which are beyond his power, and then he begins to hope in God, such a hope is vain and false. A true hope seeks only the Kingdom of God… the heart can have no peace until it obtains such a hope. This hope pacifies the heart and produces joy within it. “
+St. Seraphim of Sarov
Worship: Sunday, November 6, 2022 (Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost)
Scripture: Gal. 2:16-20; Luke 8:41-56
Celebrant: Father Herman
Epistle Reader: Brenda Baker
Prosphora: D. Root
Coffee Hour: Algood/Schelver
SATURDAY OF THE 6TH WEEK
Anastasia the Martyr of Rome, Our Righteous Father Abramius
Brethren, we do not want you to be ignorant of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead; he delivered us from so deadly a peril, and he will deliver us; on him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us in answer to many prayers.
The Lord said, "No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light. Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.
Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him for the crowd. And he was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you." But he said to them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.
The Monastic Martyr Anastasia the Roman lost her parents when she was three years old, and was taken to be raised by the Igoumeness of a women’s monastery, whose name was Sophia, a nun who had attained a high degree of spiritual perfection. She raised Anastasia in fervent faith, in the fear of God, and obedience. After seventeen years, Anastasia became known as a great ascetic, and she was very beautiful.
The Emperor Decius (249-251) began his persecution of Christians at that time. The city administrator, Probus, following the Emperor's orders, commanded that Anastasia be brought to him. Blessed by her Igoumeness to suffer for Christ, the young martyr Anastasia went out to meet the armed soldiers. Seeing her youth and beauty, Probus first tried flattery to make her deny Christ.
“Why do you waste your youth deprived of pleasure?" he asked. "What is to be gained by enduring tortures and death for the Crucified? Worship our gods, marry a handsome husband, and live with glory and honor.”
While Saint Anastasia stood before the ruler, her mind stood before Christ, and with her spiritual eyes, she beheld the comeliness of her Bridegroom.
The Saint replied, “My spouse, my riches, my life and my happiness are my Lord Jesus Christ, and you cannot turn me away from Him by your deceit!”
Probus had her stripped of her clothing, in order to humiliate her. She told him, "You can have me whipped, beaten, and cut to pieces, and then my nakedness will be hidden by my wounds, and my blood will cover my shame."
Probus subjected Anastasia to horrible tortures. The holy martyr bravely endured all of them, glorifying and praising God. When she became thirsty she asked for some water, and a Christian named Cyril gave her a drink. She thanked him, but Probus had him beheaded.
Then her tormentors cut off her breasts and ripped out her tongue, while an Angel held her upright. When the people witnessed the inhuman and disgusting treatment the Saint received, they became indignant, and Probus was forced to end the tortures by having her beheaded. In this manner, Saint Anastasia received the unfading crown of martyrdom.
Saint Anastasia's body was thrown outside the city limits to be eaten by wild animals, but the Lord did not permit her holy relics to be dishonored. By the instructions of a holy Angel, Igoumeness Sophia found Saint Anastasia’s mutilated body. With the help of two Christians, she buried it in the earth.
Saint Anastasia the Roman should not be confused with Saint Anastasia Pharmakolytria, who is commemorated on December 22.
Saint Abramius the Hermit and Blessed Maria, his niece of Mesopotamia, lived the ascetic life in the village of Chidan, near the city of Edessa. They were contemporaries and fellow countrymen of Saint Ephraim the Syrian (January 28), who afterwards wrote about their life.
Saint Abramius began his difficult exploit of the solitary life in the prime of youth. He left his parents’ home and settled in a desolate wilderness place, far from worldly enticements, and he spent his days in unceasing prayer. After the death of his parents, the saint refused his inheritance and requested his relatives to give it away to the poor. By his strict ascetic life, fasting, and love for mankind, Abramius attracted to him many seeking after spiritual enlightenment, prayer and blessing.
Soon his faith was put to a serious test, as he was appointed presbyter in one of the pagan villages of Mesopotamia. For three years, and sparing no efforts, the saint toiled over the enlightenment of the pagans. He tore down a pagan temple and built a church. Humbly enduring derision and even beatings from obstinate idol-worshippers, he entreated the Lord, “Look down, O Master, upon Your servant, hear my prayer. Strengthen me and set Your servants free from diabolical snares, and grant them to know You, the one true God.” The zealous pastor was granted the happiness to see the culmination of his righteous efforts: the pagans came to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and Saint Abramius baptized them himself.
Having fulfilled his priestly duty, Abramius again withdrew into his wilderness, where he continued to glorify God and do His holy will. The devil, put to shame by the deeds of Saint Abramius, tried to entrap him with proud thoughts. Once at midnight, when Saint Abramius was at prayer in his cell, suddenly a light shone and a voice was heard, “Blessed are you, Abramius, for no other man has done my will as you have!” Confuting the wiles of the enemy, the saint said: “I am a sinful man, but I trust in the help and grace of my God. I do not fear you, and your illusions do not scare me.” Then he ordered the devil to depart, in the name of Jesus Christ.
Another time, the devil appeared before the saint in the form of a youth, lit a candle and began to sing Psalm 118/119, “Blessed are the blameless in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.” Perceiving that this also was a demonic temptation, the Elder crossed himself and asked, “If you know that the blameless are blessed, then why trouble them?”
The temper answered, “I provoke them in order to conquer them and turn them away from every good deed.” To this the saint replied, “You gain victory over those who, like yourself, have fallen away from God. You are forced to vanish, like smoke in the wind, from before the face of those who love God.” After these words the devil vanished. Thus Saint Abramius defeated the Enemy, being strengthened by divine grace. After fifty years of ascetic life, he peacefully fell asleep in the Lord.
Saint Abramius’s niece, the Nun Maria, had grown up being edified by his spiritual instruction. Her father died when she was seven, and so she had been raised by her saintly uncle. But the Enemy of the race of man tried to turn her from the true path. At twenty-seven years of age she fell into sin with a man. Thoroughly ashamed, she left her cell, went to another city, and began living in a brothel. Two years later, when he had learned of this, Saint Abramius clad himself in soldier’s garb, so that he would not be recognized, and went to the city to find his niece. He pretended to be one of her “clients,” and revealed his identity once they were alone. With many tears and exhortations, he brought her to repentance and took her back to her cell.
Saint Maria returned to her cell and spent the rest of her days in prayer and tears of repentance. The Lord forgave her and even granted her the gift of healing the sick. She died five years after Saint Abramius.
Saint Abramius, Archimandrite of Rostov, in the world Abercius, left his parents’ home in his youth and entered upon the path of Christian asceticism. Having assumed the monastic schema, Abramius settled at Rostov on the shore of Lake Nero. In the Rostov lands there were many pagans, and the saint worked intensely at spreading the true Faith.
Not far from the cell of the saint was a pagan temple, where the pagans worshipped a stone idol of Veles (Volos), which caused fright among the inhabitants of Rostov. In a miraculous vision the Apostle John the Theologian stood before Abramius, and gave him a staff with a cross on top, with which the venerable one destroyed the idol. At the place of the pagan temple, Saint Abramius founded a monastery in honor of the Theophany and became its head.
In memory of the miraculous appearance, the holy monk built a church named for Saint John the Theologian. Many of the pagans were persuaded and baptized by Saint Abramius. Particularly great was his influence with the children to whom he taught the ability to read and write, instructing them in the law of God, and tonsuring monastics from among them.
Everyone who came to the monastery was accepted with love. The saint’s life was a constant work of prayer and toil for the benefit of the brethren: he chopped firewood for the oven, he laundered the monks’ clothing and carried water for the kitchen. Saint Abramius reposed in old age and was buried in the church of the Theophany.
His holy relics were uncovered in the time of Great Prince Vsevolod (1176-1212). In the year 1551, Tsar Ivan the Terrible, before his campaign against Kazan, made the rounds of holy places. At the Theophany-Abramiev monastery the monks showed him the staff with which Saint Abramius had destroyed the idol of Veles. The Tsar took the staff with him on the campaign, but the cross remained at the monastery. And returning again after the subjugation of the Khan, Ivan the Terrible gave orders to build a new stone church at the Abramiev monastery in honor of the Theophany, with four chapels, and he also supplied it with books and icons.
The Martyrs Claudius, Asterius, Neones, and Theonilla of Aegae in Cilicia suffered for Christ in the year 285 during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-311). After their father’s death, the stepmother, who did not want to give the children their inheritance, betrayed them to the persecutors of Christians. The governor of Cilicia, who was named Licius, urged the martyrs to renounce Christ and instead to worship idols, and he employed various means of torture. They crucified the unyielding brothers. Saint Theonilla was hung up by her hair and flogged, and had burning coals placed on her chest. When she departed to the Lord, her body was thrown into the sea.
Saint Anna and her son Saint John lived in the ninth century. Saint Anna was the daughter of a deacon of the Blachernae church in Constantinople. After the death of her husband, she dressed in men’s clothing and called herself Euthymianus. She and her son Saint John lived in asceticism in one of the Bythinian monasteries near Olympus.
Saint Anna died in Constantinople in 826. Her memory is also celebrated on October 29.
No information available at this time.
Saint Serapion of Zarzma was the son of a Klarjeti aristocrat famed for his wealth and good deeds. Serapion had two brothers, who were still young when their mother died.
Their father also reposed soon after.
From childhood Saint Serapion longed to lead the life of a hermit. With his younger brother, John, he set off for Parekhi Monastery, where he requested the spiritual guidance of “the spiritual father and teacher of orphans,” the great wonderworker Michael of Parekhi.
The older brother remained at home to continue the family tradition of caring for wanderers and the poor.
Saint Michael perceived in the young Serapion true zeal for a divine ministry and blessed him to enter the priesthood.
Once, while he was praying, Saint Michael was instructed in a vision to send his disciples Serapion and John to Samtskhe to found a monastery.
Serapion was alarmed at the thought of such a great responsibility, but he submitted to his spiritual father’s will and set off for Samtskhe with several companions. He took with him a wonderworking icon of Our Lord’s Transfiguration.
The monks climbed to the peak of a very high mountain and, having looked around at their environs, decided to settle there and begin construction of the monastery. But soon the villagers chased the monks away, and the holy fathers located the exact place that their shepherd, Saint Michael, had seen in the vision. At that time a faithful nobleman named George Chorchaneli ruled in this mountainous region. Once, while he was out hunting, George saw smoke over the dense forest and sent a servant to discover the cause. He was soon informed that two remarkable monks had settled in that place. Immediately he set off for the spot, humbly greeted the monks, venerated the wonderworking icon, and asked for the fathers’ blessings.
Overjoyed and inspired by Serapion’s preaching, the prince fell on his knees before him and promised to help him in every way to establish the new monastery. Having donated this land and the surrounding area to the monastery, he presented the monks with a deed assigning ownership of all the territory the monks could cover on foot in one day to the future monastery. The prince sent his servant to accompany them.
The brothers walked over unexplored territory, through dense forests, and over rocky paths. Two local residents, the God-fearing Ia and Garbaneli, accompanied them. But not all the local people received the monks so warmly: the residents of Tsiskvili met them with hostility and tried to block their path.
That very same night a miracle occurred: an earthquake split the rocks that were holding back Lake Satakhve and washed away the entire village of Tsiskvili. Only two brothers survived. To this day this place has been called “Zarzma” [the word “zari” is often used to denote a tragic occurrence].
The brethren began to search for a suitable place to build their church. Saint Serapion wanted to construct the church on a high hill, but John and the other brothers objected. “It is not necessary, Holy Father, to build in this place,” they said. “It is high and cold here, and the brothers are dressed only in rags.”
To resolve this question, the holy fathers filled two small icon lamps with equal amounts of oil. Serapion placed one of them at the top of the hill, John placed the other near a stream on the southern side of the hill, and they began to pray. At daybreak Serapion’s lamp had already gone out, but John’s lamp continued to burn until midday. Thus they began to build the church in the place that John had chosen.
The monks faced many obstacles in the construction of their church. The area was covered with dense forest, and the stones necessary for building could be found only in the river. At George Chorchaneli’s suggestion, they salvaged the stone from a church that had been destroyed by the earthquake.
After three years of construction, the monastery was completed, and the wonderworking icon of the Transfiguration was placed in the altar of the church. The monks fashioned cells, and Saint Serapion established the Rule of the monastery.
When he was approaching death, Michael of Parekhi sent two of his disciples to Serapion and John. When he learned that the construction of the monastery was completed, he rejoiced exceedingly and blessed its benefactor, George Chorchaneli. Then he took the withered branch of a box tree and presented it to him, saying, “My son, plant this tree near the church and, if it blossoms again, know that it is God’s will that you zealously continue the work you have begun in His name.” After some time the branch blossomed, and this miracle became known to many.
When the blessed Serapion sensed the approach of death, he summoned the brothers, bade them farewell, and appointed Hieromonk George his successor as abbot. He was buried with great honor on the eastern side of the altar at the monastery church.
THE HOLY PROTECTION OF THE THEOTOKOS
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
The Holy Protection of the Theotokos, Holy Martyrs Terrence and Eunice, Our Righteous Father Steven the Sabbaite, Arsenios and Athanasios of Androusa in Messenia, Patriarchs of Constantinople, Angelis, Manuel, George, & Nicholas, New Martyrs of Crete, Rostislav, the Great Illumined Duke of Moravia
BRETHREN, the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties; but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people.
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!”
Saint Stephen the Hymnographer of Saint Savva Monastery, lived the ascetic life at the Lavra of Saint Savva in Palestine. He and Andrew the Blind were among the first to compose hymns (idiomela) for the period between the Publican and Pharisee and Palm Sunday. He does not appear to be the same Saint Stephen who is celebrated on July 13.
Saint Arsenius, Archbishop of Pec, was born in Srem. He spent a large part of his life as a monk at the Zhicha monastery under the spiritual direction of Saint Savva (January 14). Because of his strict ascetic life, Saint Savva made him the igumen of the monastery.
When Serbia was invaded by Hungary, Saint Savva sent Saint Arsenius to find a safer place in the south for a new episcopal See. Arsenius chose Pec, where he built a monastery and a church which was dedicated to the Holy Apostles, and then to the Lord’s Ascension.
Before leaving for Jerusalem, Saint Savva designated Arsenius as his successor.
In 1223, Saint Savva died in Trnovo on the way home, and Saint Arsenius urged King Vladislav to bring his body home for burial in Serbia. After thirty-three years of wisely guiding his flock, Saint Arsenius fell asleep in the Lord in the year 1266. His relics were buried at the Pec monastery, but now rest in the Zhrebaonik, Montenegro.
The Great Martyr Paraskevḗ of Iconium, lived during the third century in a rich and pious family. The parents of the saint especially reverenced Friday, the day of the Passion of the Lord, and therefore they called their daughter Paraskevḗ. This name, Paraskevḗ, also means Friday.
Young Paraskevḗ with all her heart loved purity and the loftiness of the virginal life, and she took a vow of celibacy. She wanted to devote all her life to God and to enlighten pagans with the light of Christ.
Because of her confession of the Orthodox Faith, the pagans in a frenzy seized her and brought her to the city prefect. They demanded that she offer unholy sacrifice to the pagan idols. With a steady heart, and trusting on God, the saint refused this demand. For this she underwent great torments: after stripping her, they tied her to a tree and beat her with rods. Then the torturers raked her pure body with iron claws. Finally, they threw her into prison, exhausted by the torture and lacerated to the bone. But God did not forsake the holy sufferer, and miraculously healed her wounds. Not heeding this divine miracle, the executioners continued with their torture of Saint Paraskevḗ, and finally, they cut off her head.
Saint Paraskevḗ has always enjoyed a special love and veneration among the Orthodox people. Many pious customs and observances are associated with her. In the ancient Russian accounts of the Saints’ Lives, the name of the Great Martyr is inscribed as: “Saint Paraskevḗ, also called Piatnitsa (in Russian: Friday).” Churches dedicated to Saint Paraskevḗ in antiquity were given the name Piatnitsa. Small wayside chapels in Rus received the name Piatnitsa. The simple Russian people called the Martyr Paraskevḗ variously Piatnitsa, Piatina, Petka.
Icons of Saint Paraskevḗ were especially venerated and embellished by the faithful. Russian iconographers usually depicted the martyr as an austere ascetic, tall of stature, with a radiant crown upon her head. Icons of the saint guard pious and happy households. By Church belief, Saint Paraskevḗ is protectress of fields and cattle. Therefore, on her Feastday it was the custom to bring fruit to church to be blessed. These blessed objects were kept until the following year. Moreover, Saint Paraskevḗ is invoked for protection of cattle from disease. She is also a healer of people from grievous illness of both body and soul.
Saint Job, Abbot and Wonderworker of Pochaev (in the world named Ivan Zhelezo), was born around 1551 in Pokutia in Galicia. At age ten he came to the Transfiguration Ugornits monastery, and at age twelve he received monastic tonsure with the name Job. The venerable Job from his youth was known for his great piety and strict ascetic life, and he was accounted worthy of the priestly office.
Around the year 1580, at the request of the renowned champion of Orthodoxy Prince Constantine Ostrozhsky, Saint Job was appointed the head of the Exaltation of the Cross monastery near the city of Dubno, and for more than twenty years he governed the monastery amidst the growing persecution of Orthodoxy on the part of the Catholics and Uniates.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century, Saint Job withdrew to Pochaev hill and settled in a cave not far from the ancient Dormition monastery, famed for its wonderworking Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God (July 23). The holy hermit, beloved by the brethren of the monastery, was chosen as their Igumen. Saint Job zealously fulfilled his duty as head of the monastery, kind and gentle with the brethren, he did much of the work himself, planting trees in the garden, and strengthening the waterworks at the monastery.
Saint Job was an ardent defender of the Orthodox Faith against the persecution of the Catholics. Following the Union of Brest (1596), many Orthodox living in Poland were deprived of their rights, and attempts were made to force them to convert to Catholicism. Many Orthodox hierarchs became apostates to Uniatism, but Saint Job and others defended Orthodoxy by copying and disseminating Orthodox books. Prince Ostrozhsky was also responsible for the first printed edition of the Orthodox Bible (1581).
In taking an active part in the defense of Orthodoxy and the Russian people, Saint Job was present at the 1628 Kiev Council, convened against the Unia. After 1642, he accepted the great schema with the name John.
Sometimes he completely secluded himself within the cave for three days or even a whole week. The Jesus Prayer was an unceasing prayer in his heart. According to the testimony of his disciple Dositheus, and author of the Life of Saint Job, once while praying in his cave, the saint was illumined by a heavenly light. Saint Job reposed in the year 1651. He was more than 100 years old, and had directed the Pochaev monastery for more than fifty years.
The uncovering of Saint Job’s relics took place on August 28, 1659. There was a second uncovering of the relics on August 27-28, 1833.
Saint Demetrius, Metropolitan of Rostov (in the world Daniel Savvich Tuptalo), was born in December 1651 in the locale of Makarovo, not far from Kiev. He was born into a pious family and grew up a deeply believing Christian. In 1662, soon after his parents resettled to Kiev, Daniel was sent to the Kiev-Mogilyansk college, where the gifts and remarkable abilities of the youth were first discovered. He successfully learned the Greek and Latin languages and the entire series of classical sciences. On July 9,1668 Daniel accepted monastic tonsure with the name Demetrius, in honor of the Great Martyr Demetrius of Thessalonica. Prior to the spring of 1675 he progressed through the monastic obediences at Kiev’s Kirillov monastery, where he began his literary and preaching activity.
The Archbishop of Chernigov Lazar (Baranovich) ordained Demetrius as hieromonk on May 23, 1675. For several years Hieromonk Demetrius lived as an ascetic and preached the Word of God at various monasteries and churches in the Ukraine, Lithuania and Belarus. In 1684, while he was Igumen of the Maximov monastery (later the Baturinsk Nikol’sk monastery), he was summoned to the Kiev Caves Lavra. The Superior of the Lavra, Archimandrite Barlaam (Yasinsky), knowing the high spiritual disposition of his former disciple, his education, his proclivity for scientific work, and also his undoubted literary talent, entrusted the hieromonk Demetrius with organizing the MENAION, the Lives of the Saints for the whole year.
From this time, all the rest of Saint Demetrius’s life was devoted to the fulfilling of this ascetic work, all-encompassing in its scope. The work demanded an enormous exertion of strength, since it necessitated the gathering and analyzing of a multitude of various sources and their exposition in a fluent language, worthy of the lofty subject of exposition and at the same time accessible to all believers. Divine assistance did not abandon the saint for his twenty-year labor.
According to the testimony of Saint Demetrius himself, his soul was filled with impressions of the saints, which strengthened him both in spirit and body, and they encouraged faith in the felicitous completion of his noble task. At this time, the venerable Demetrius was head of several monasteries (in succession).
The works of the ascetic brought him to the attention of Patriarch Adrian. In 1701, by decree of Tsar Peter I, Archimandrite Demetrius was summoned to Moscow, where on March 23 at the Dormition cathedral of the Kremlin he was consecrated as Metropolitan of the Siberian city of Tobolsk. But after a certain while, because of the importance of his scientific work and the frailty of his health, the saint received a new appointment to Rostov-Yaroslavl, and on March 1, 1702 assumed his duties as Metropolitan of Rostov.
Just as before, he continued to be concerned about the strengthening of the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church, weakened by the “Old Believers” schism.
From his inspired works and preachings many generations of Russian theologians drew spiritual strength for creativity and prayer. He remains an example of a saintly, ascetic, non-covetous life for all Orthodox Christians. Upon his death on October 28, 1709, it was discovered that he had few possessions, except for books and manuscripts.
The glorification of Saint Demetrius, Metropolitan of Rostov, took place on April 22, 1757. He is also remembered on September 21, the day of the uncovering of his holy relics.
No information available at this time.
Saint Terence was from Syria, and suffered for Christ with his wife Neonila and their seven children Sabelus, Photius, Theodoulus, Vele, Hierax, Nitus, and Eunice. They were denounced as Christians and brought before the authorities for interrogation.
The saints confessed Christ and mocked the pagan gods, even as their sides were raked with iron hooks. Vinegar was poured into their wounds, which were then set afire. The saints encouraged one another and prayed to God to help them. He sent angels to free them from their bonds and to heal their wounds.
Then the saints were thrown to the wild beasts, who became gentle and did not harm them. Afterward, they were thrown into a cauldron filled with hot pitch, but they were not burned. Seeing that nothing could harm the saints, the pagans beheaded them.
The Hieromartyr Cyriacus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, was a Jew who pointed out to the holy Empress Helen the place where the Life-Creating Cross of Christ lay buried (September 14). Being present at the discovery of the Cross, Cyriacus (before Baptism he was named Jude) sincerely came to believe in Christ the true God, and he became a Christian. Cyriacus, because of his pure and virtuous life, was later chosen to be Patriarch of Jerusalem. He suffered martyrdom under the emperor Julian.
During the cruel persecution under Julian the Apostate, in the year 363, Saint Cyriacus accepted suffering for the Faith. He was killed after prolonged tortures.
Saint John the Chozebite, Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine (587-596), was famed for his struggle against the Eutychian heresy, and also for his grace-filled gifts of discernment and wonderworking. He was born in the Egyptian city of Thebes and while still a youth he spent a long time with his uncle, an ascetic, in the Thebaid wilderness.
The emperor, who learned of John’s holy life, decided to make him bishop of the city of Caesarea. But the saint, yearning for solitude, withdrew into the Chozeba wilderness (between Jerusalem and Jericho) and pursued asceticism there until the end of his life.
Whenever he served the Divine Liturgy, he saw a heavenly light in the altar.
The holy hieromartyr Neophytus of Urbnisi descended from a line of Persian fire-worshippers.
In the 7th century, by order of the Saracen emir Mumni (Mu’min), the military leader Ahmad attacked Georgia with an enormous army. After overrunning the central part of Shida (Inner) Kartli, Ahmad dispatched two of his commanders, Omar and Burul, to the capital city of Mtskheta. At the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, across from the village of Tsikhedidi in the rocky Sarkineti region, the invaders discovered a group of caves and plotted to occupy them. They tried to cross the Mtkvari but were unable.
Having suffered a setback, the enemies asked their captives what was located in those caves. They were told that this was the Shio-Mgvime Monastery, where dwelt God’s chosen, who had deprived themselves of every earthly blessing.
Surprised at this reply, the commanders decided to pass this information on to Ahmad. Then, as though it were commonplace, Ahmad sent Omar to the monastery to ask the monks to pray for him and remember him at the grave of their abbot, Saint Shio. “Pray for me, O slaves of God, and accept these gifts of aloe and incense. Offer these as a sacrifice to your abbot,” he told them.
Approaching the monastery caves, Omar sent a messenger to inform the monks that he was coming to them in peace and bearing gifts. Drawing near to the monastery gates, the commander saw an army of incorporeal hosts descending from the heavens and among them an elder, radiant with a great light.
The meek and modest behavior of the monks left a great impression on Omar. He soon understood that the strange armies he had seen on the steps of the monastery were angels of God and that the elder was Saint Shio of Mgvime, abbot of the monastery. He related his vision to the monks and vowed to return to them, receive the sacrament of Holy Baptism, be tonsured a monk, and remain there to join in their holy labors.
Soon Omar abandoned all his possessions, his military rank, and his wealth and was baptized in the Christian Faith at the Shio-Mgvime Monastery as he had promised. Two of his slaves were baptized with him as well. Omar received the new name Neophytus (Newly Planted / From the Greek word neophytos, which in I Tim. 3:6 refers to a new convert), and his slaves became Christodoulus (Christ’s Slave) and Christopher (Christ-bearer).
According to God’s will, Saint Neophytus was consecrated bishop of Urbnisi, and all were amazed at his wisdom and steadfastness. He was a true father to his flock: “He strengthened the weak, healed the sick, raised the fallen, cleansed the possessed, directed the lost and sought out those who were perishing, protecting them, and forbidding them to wander off again.”
But the enemy could not tolerate the native Persian’s apostolic activity, and he convinced the fire-worshippers to kill the Christian shepherd. So the unbelievers devised an ambush and attacked Neophytus’ isolated cell, then tied him up and began to mock, curse, and revile him. They knew that Saint Neophytus longed to become like the holy protomartyr Stephen, and they plotted to stone him to death.
When his time to depart this world had arrived, Saint Neophytus turned to his persecutors with a tender voice, saying, “Sweet is death to me, O unbelievers! Sweet it is to me. I desire to sunder the link between my mortal and immortal nature…. With my own blood I will confirm the Holy Church, which is founded upon the Precious Blood of the Son and Word of God, Whom I preach. May that which was foreordained for me by the Providence of God be fulfilled, for He has called me to His light from the depths of ungodliness!”
The furious pagans stoned the saint to death. With his last breath Holy Hieromartyr Neophytus cried out, “Lord Jesus Christ receive my soul!”
Saint Athanasius I, Patriarch of Constantinople (1289-1293; 1303-1311), in the world Alexius, was from Adrianopolis. While still in his youth, thriving upon the knowledge of the wisdom of Christ, he left his home and went to Thessalonica, where he was tonsured in one of the monasteries with the name Acacius. He soon withdrew to Mount Athos and entered the brethren of the Esphigmenou monastery, where for three years he served in the trapeza. In his works and his ascetic deeds he acquired the gift of tears, and by his virtuous acts he won the overall goodwill of the brethren.
Shunning praise, Acacius humbly left Mt. Athos at first for the holy places in Jerusalem, and then to Mount Patra, where for a long time he lived ascetically as an hermit. From there the ascetic transferred to the Auxention monastery, and then to Mount Galanteia to the monastery of Blessed Lazarus, where he accepted the great angelic schema with the name Athanasius, was ordained a priest and became ecclesiarch (monk in charge of the sacred relics and vessels in the church). Here the saint was granted a divine revelation: he heard the Voice of the Lord from a crucifix, summoning him to pastoral service.
Wishing to strengthen his spirit still more in silence and prayer, Saint Athanasius again settled on Mount Athos after ten years. But because of disorders arising there he returned to Mount Galanteia. Here also he was not long to remain in solitude. Many people thronged to him for pastoral guidance, and so he organized a women’s monastery there.
During this time the throne of the Church of Constantinople fell vacant after the disturbances and disorder of the period of the Patriarch John Bekkos. At the suggestion of the pious emperor Andronicus Paleologos, a council of hierarchs and clergy unanimously chose Saint Athanasius to the Patriarchal throne of the Church in 1289.
Patriarch Athanasius began fervently to fulfill his new obedience and did much for strengthening the Church. His strictness of conviction roused the dissatisfaction of influential clergy, and in 1293 he was compelled to resign the throne and to retire again to his own monastery, where he lived an ascetic life in solitude. In 1303 he was again entrusted with the staff of patriarchal service, which he worthily fulfilled for another seven years. In 1308 Saint Athanasius established Saint Peter as Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus (December 21).
Again, because of some sort of dissatisfaction, and not wanting to be the cause of church discord, Saint Athanasius resigned the governance of the Church in 1311. He departed to his own monastery, devoting himself fully to monastic deeds.
Toward the end of his life, the saint was again found worthy to behold Christ. The Lord reproached him because Athanasius had not carried out his pastoral duty to the end. Weeping, the saint repented of his cowardice and received from the Lord both forgiveness and the gift of wonderworking. Saint Athanasius died at the age of 100.
Saint Arsenius of Farasa is the priest who baptised Elder Paisios the Athonite and gave him his Christian name—Arsenios.
Here is the homily for Sunday, October 23, 2022.
You can also download the homily here .
THURSDAY OF THE 6TH WEEK
Nestor the Martyr of Thessaloniki, Kyriakos, Patriarch of Constantinople, Procla, wife of Pontius Pilate
Brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is not irksome to me, and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evil-workers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh. Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee, as to zeal a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ.
At that time, Jesus was casting out a demon that was dumb; when the demon had gone out, the dumb man spoke, and the people marveled. But some of them said, "He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons"; while others, to test him, sought from him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace; but when one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoil. He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.
The holy Martyr Nestor was very young in age, handsome in appearance, and he was known to the holy Great Martyr Demetrios (October 26), for he had instructed Nestor in the faith.
The Emperor was visiting Thessaloniki, and he built a high platform in the midst of the city so that a gigantic barbarian named Lyaios could wrestle there and be seen by everyone. Beneath the platform many spears and other sharp weapons were placed pointing upward. When Lyaios defeated his opponents, he threw them down onto the spears and they died. Many Christians were forced to fight Lyaios, and were killed. When Nestor saw how Emperor Maximian rejoiced over the victories of his champion, he disdained his pride. Seeing the miracles of Saint Demetrios, however, he took courage and went to the prison where the holy Martyr was confined, and fell at his feet.
“Pray for me, O Servant of God Demetrios,” he said, “that by your prayers, God may help me to beat Lyaios, and put an end to him who brings reproach upon the Christians.”
The Saint, after sealing Nestor with the Sign of the Cross, told him that he would prevail over Lyaios, and then suffer for Christ. Nestor mounted the platform without fear and exclaimed: “Help me, O God of Demetrios.” After he defeated Lyaios, he hurled him down onto the spears, where he gave up his wretched soul.
Maximian became enraged and ordered that both Nestor and Demetrios should be put to death. Saint Demetrios was stabbed with spears, and Saint Nestor was beheaded. Thus, by his example Saint Nestor teaches us that in every human challenge we must say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me.” (Psalm 117/118:6, Hebrews 13:6).
Saint Nestor the Chronicler, of the Kiev Caves, Near Caves was born at Kiev in 1050. He came to Saint Theodosius (May 3) as a young man, and became a novice. Saint Nestor took monastic tonsure under the successor to Saint Theodosius, the igumen Stephen, and under him was ordained a hierodeacon.
Concerning his lofty spiritual life it says that, with a number of other monastic Fathers he participated in the casting out of a devil from Nikḗtas the Hermit (January 31), who had become fascinated by the Hebrew wisdom of the Old Testament. Saint Nestor deeply appreciated true knowledge, along with humility and penitence. “Great is the benefit of book learning,” he said, “for books point out and teach us the way to repentance, since from the words of books we discover wisdom and temperance. This is the stream, watering the universe, from which springs wisdom. In books is a boundless depth, by them we are comforted in sorrows, and they are a bridle for moderation. If you enter diligently into the books of wisdom, then you shall discover great benefit for your soul. Therefore, the one who reads books converses with God or the saints.”
In the monastery Saint Nestor had the obedience of being the chronicler. In the 1080s he wrote the “Account about the Life and Martyrdom of the Blessed Passion Bearers Boris and Gleb” in connection with the transfer of the relics of the saints to Vyshgorod in the year 1072 (May 2). In the 1080s Saint Nestor also compiled the Life of the Monk Theodosius of the Kiev Caves. And in 1091, on the eve of the patronal Feast of the Kiev Caves Monastery, he was entrusted by Igumen John to dig up the holy relics of Saint Theodosius (August 14) for transfer to the church.
The chief work in the life of Saint Nestor was compiling in the years 1112-1113 The Russian Primary Chronicle. “Here is the account of years past, how the Russian land came to be, who was the first prince at Kiev and how the Russian land is arrayed.” The very first line written by Saint Nestor set forth his purpose. Saint Nestor used an extraordinarily wide circle of sources: prior Russian chronicles and sayings, monastery records, the Byzantine Chronicles of John Malalos and George Amartolos, various historical collections, the accounts of the boyar-Elder Ivan Vyshatich and of tradesmen and soldiers, of journeymen and of those who knew. He drew them together with a unified and strict ecclesiastical point of view. This permitted him to write his history of Russia as an inclusive part of world history, the history of the salvation of the human race.
The monk-patriot describes the history of the Russian Church in its significant moments. He speaks about the first mention of the Russian nation in historical sources in the year 866, in the time of Saint Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople. He tells of the creation of the Slavonic alphabet and writing by Saints Cyril and Methodius; and of the Baptism of Saint Olga at Constantinople. The Chronicle of Saint Nestor has preserved for us an account of the first Orthodox church in Kiev (under the year 945), and of the holy Varangian Martyrs (under the year 983), of the “testing of the faiths” by Saint Vladimir (in 986) and the Baptism of Rus (in 988).
We are indebted to the first Russian Church historian for details about the first Metropolitans of the Russian Church, about the emergence of the Kiev Caves monastery, and about its founders and ascetics. The times in which Saint Nestor lived were not easy for the Russian land and the Russian Church. Rus lay torn asunder by princely feuds; the Polovetsian nomads of the steppes lay waste to both city and village with plundering raids. They led many Russian people into slavery, and burned churches and monasteries. Saint Nestor was an eyewitness to the devastation of the Kiev Caves monastery in the year 1096. In the Chronicle a theologically thought out patriotic history is presented. The spiritual depth, historical fidelity and patriotism of the The Russian Primary Chronicle establish it in the ranks of the significant creations of world literature.
Saint Nestor died around the year 1114, having left to the other monastic chroniclers of the Kiev Caves the continuation of his great work. His successors in the writing of the Chronicles were: Igumen Sylvester, who added contemporary accounts to the The Russian Primary Chronicle; Igumen Moses Vydubitsky brought it up to the year 1200; and finally, Igumen Laurence, who in the year 1377 wrote the most ancient of the surviving manuscripts that preserve the Chronicle of Saint Nestor (this copy is known as the “Lavrentian Chronicle”). The hagiographic tradition of the Kiev Caves ascetics was continued by Saint Simon, Bishop of Vladimir (May 10), the compiler of the Kiev Caves Paterikon. Narrating the events connected with the lives of the holy saints of God, Saint Simon often quotes, among other sources, from the Chronicle of Saint Nestor.
Saint Nestor was buried in the Near Caves of Saint Anthony. The Church also honors his memory in the Synaxis of the holy Fathers of the Near Caves commemorated September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent when is celebrated the Synaxis of all the Fathers of the Kiev Caves. His works have been published many times, including in English as “The Russian Primary Chronicle”.
The Uncovering of the relics of Saint Andrew, Prince of Smolensk at Pereslavl occurred in the year 1539 through the involvement of Saint Daniel of Pereslavl (April 7).
The holy Prince Andrew was the son of the Smolensk prince Theodore Fominsky. While still in his youth, he was grieved by the disputes of his brothers, and he left his native city going as a simple wanderer to Pereslavl Zalessk. In humility and meekness he spent thirty years as church warden at the church of Saint Nicholas, near which he is buried. After his death they discovered a princely ring, a gold chain and an inscription with the words, “I am Andrew, one of the Smolensk princes.”
Saints Capitolina (Καπιτωλίνη) and Eroteis (Ερωτηίς) lived during the reign of Emperor Diocletian, when Zilikinthios (Ζιλικίνθιος) was the magistrate of Cappadocia (ca. 304).
Capitolina was a noble and wealthy lady, but she had no regard for riches. Therefore, she divided all of her property among the poor, and freed her slaves. When she was arrested as a Christian and appeared before Zilikinthios, she confessed her faith in Christ. He ordered her to be thrown into a nearby prison, and she was beheaded the next day.
Eroteis who was Capitolina’s servant, picked up some stones and threw them at the magistrate. Outraged, he commanded his guards to beat her mercilessly with sticks. By the grace of Christ, however, the Saint remained unharmed. Then he ordered them to behead her with a sword. In this manner, both of these Saints, the lady and her servant, died by the sword, thereby winning imperishable crowns of glory from Christ.
Saint Matthew is the only Evangelist to mention Pilate’s wife, who told him “Have nothing to do with that just man, because I have suffered many things in a dream today because of him” (Matthew 27:19). She is not identified by name, but the author of the apocryphal Acts of Paul says that she received Baptism from the Apostle of the Gentiles. In the apocryphal Gospel of Νikόdēmos she is called Procla, or Procula. Beginning in the late fourth, or early fifth century, she is known as Claudia Procula.
Pontius Pilate would not free Christ, because he was afraid of the Jews, After her husband’s death, Claudia Procula is said to have embraced Christianity. After living her life in the utmost goodness and piety, she surrendered her soul in peace. There are other accounts, however, which say that she was a martyr.
Saints Mark, Soterikhos, and Valentine were from Asia. They were arrested by the idolaters in the year 304 because they were Christians. After enduring many tortures, they were dragged over sharp stones until they were dead. Later, their holy relics were brought to the island of Thasos, which lies between Thrace and the Athonite peninsula.
These holy martyrs are commemorated on October 24 in Greek usage.
The main commemoration of the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “of the Sign” is November 27.
Saint Demetrius of Basarabov in Bulgaria lived in the wilderness as an ascetic near the city of Ruschuk, Bulgaria. He died in 1685.
On July 8, 1779 his relics were transferred to Bucharest.
Saint Nestor (not the Chronicler) of the Kiev Caves, is to be distinguished from Saint Nestor the Chronicler, who lived as an ascetic in the Far Caves. His memory is celebrated October 27 it seems, because he was named for the Saint Nestor of Thessalonica.
The name of Saint Nestor (not the Chronicler) is mentioned in the General Service to the Monastics of the Far Caves: “The Word of God, understood by man, instructed you not by written wisdom, O holy Nestor, but from on high; you beheld it through the prayers of the angel, and you foresaw your death. May we also be made partakers with you, we pray, in honoring your memory.” His memory is celebrated also on August 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.
The holy hierarch Alexander (Alexi Okropiridze in the world) was born in 1824, in the village of Disevi in the Gori district, to the family of the village priest. Growing up around the church, he received his primary education at Gori Theological School and later continued his education at Tbilisi Seminary.
Having completed his course of study at the seminary in 1845, he was tonsured a monk at the Tbilisi Monastery of the Transfiguration and given the new name Alexander. From Tbilisi the young monk Alexander traveled to the theological academy in Kazan to continue his studies. He graduated with honors and returned to his homeland. Hieromonk Alexander taught the Holy Scriptures, Latin, moral theology, and archaeology at Tbilisi Seminary until July 27, 1851.
Then, at the order of the Holy Synod, he was appointed dean of the theological school in Abkhazeti on September 21, 1851. He was also entrusted with overseeing monastic life in the Abkhazeti diocese and with supervising the instruction at Kutaisi Theological School.
Alexander considered a broadening of the network of theological institutions most essential to the strengthening of the Christian Faith in his country. From the very beginning of his labors in Abkhazeti, he exerted an enormous amount of effort to improve the Ilori Theological School in Ochamchire. At first Alexander was active as a pedagogue, then from February 29, 1856, as an archimandrite, and from March 4, 1862, as a bishop. He was as beloved throughout all of Georgian society as he was by the local population, and many called him the “Second Apostle to Abkhazeti.”
Alexander’s pastoral activity coincided with a difficult period in Georgian history. The divine services were no longer being celebrated in the Georgian language, and as a result many of the people began to drift away from the Church. Many Georgian churches and monasteries, considered cultural and academic centers from ancient times, were deserted. (By this time Georgia had been incorporated into the Russian Empire, and the tsarist government had initiated a policy of forced Russification.) The Georgian language was no longer being taught in schools, and the poorest families could not afford to educate their children.
The learned and erudite Bishop Alexander considered the revival of spiritual life and learning, firmly rooted in the national consciousness, the principal means by which to reinvigorate the national spirit and encourage cultural advance.
Alexander’s efforts on behalf of the revival of the churches and monasteries in Abkhazeti are, among his many labors, most worthy of note. Through his efforts alone two churches were restored in Sokhumi. Outside of Abkhazeti, Alexander renewed the magnificent monasteries of Shio-Mgvime, Zedazeni, Davit-Gareji, and Shemokmedi. He restored Jvari Church, Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Disevi Church, and many other churches in Guria-Samegrelo, Atchara, and Imereti. He devoted special attention to the Shio-Mgvime Monastery and the surrounding area, which had been devastated by that time.
Owing to Saint Alexander’s generous financial contributions, a diocesan school for women was founded in Tbilisi in 1878.
By his initiative and personal contributions, a great number of spiritual and historical books, textbooks and collections of sacred hymns were published. Not a single God-pleasing project was undertaken without Alexander’s support.
Saint Alexander spent the remainder of his days at the Shio-Mgvime Monastery, which he himself had restored. Only once—on September 9, 1907, the day his spiritual son Saint Ilia the Righteous was buried— did he step outside the monastery walls. The eighty-three year-old Alexander outlived the great son of Georgia by two months and fell asleep in the Lord on October 27 of the same year. Saint Alexander is buried at Shio-Mgvime Monastery.
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