SATURDAY OF THE 2ND WEEK
The Holy Protection of the Theotokos, Ananias, Apostle of the 70, Romanos the Melodist, John Koukouzelis the Psalti
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 9:10-19
In those days, there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying, and he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon thy name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized, and took food and was strengthened.
At that time, as Jesus was teaching, there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before him; but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?” When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you, ‘ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the man who was paralyzed — “I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose before them, and took up that on which he lay, and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”
The Protection of our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary
This miraculous appearance of the Mother of God occurred in the mid-tenth century in Constantinople, in the Blachernae church where her robe, veil, and part of her belt were preserved after being transferred from Palestine in the fifth century.
On Sunday, October 1, during the All Night Vigil, when the church was overflowing with those at prayer, the Fool-for-Christ Saint Andrew (October 2), at the fourth hour, lifted up his eyes towards the heavens and beheld our most Holy Lady Theotokos coming through the air, resplendent with heavenly light and surrounded by an assembly of the Saints. Saint John the Baptist and the holy Apostle John the Theologian accompanied the Queen of Heaven. On bended knees the Most Holy Virgin tearfully prayed for Christians for a long time. Then, coming near the Bishop’s Throne, she continued her prayer.
After completing her prayer she took her veil and spread it over the people praying in church, protecting them from enemies both visible and invisible. The Most Holy Lady Theotokos was resplendent with heavenly glory, and the protecting veil in her hands gleamed “more than the rays of the sun.” Saint Andrew gazed trembling at the miraculous vision and he asked his disciple, the blessed Epiphanius standing beside him, “Do you see, brother, the Holy Theotokos, praying for all the world?” Epiphanius answered, “I do see, holy Father, and I am in awe.”
The Ever-Blessed Mother of God implored the Lord Jesus Christ to accept the prayers of all the people calling on His Most Holy Name, and to respond speedily to her intercession, “O Heavenly King, accept all those who pray to You and call on my name for help. Do not let them go away from my icon unheard.”
Saints Andrew and Epiphanius were worthy to see the Mother of God at prayer, and “for a long time observed the Protecting Veil spread over the people and shining with flashes of glory. As long as the Most Holy Theotokos was there, the Protecting Veil was also visible, but with her departure it also became invisible. After taking it with her, she left behind the grace of her visitation.”
At the Blachernae church, the memory of the miraculous appearance of the Mother of God was remembered. In the fourteenth century, the Russian pilgrim and clerk Alexander, saw in the church an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos praying for the world, depicting Saint Andrew in contemplation of her.
The Primary Chronicle of Saint Nestor reflects that the protective intercession of the Mother of God was needed because an attack of a large pagan Russian fleet under the leadership of Askole and Dir. The feast celebrates the divine destruction of the fleet which threatened Constantinople itself, sometime in the years 864-867 or according to the Russian historian Vasiliev, on June 18, 860. Ironically, this Feast is considered more important by the Slavs then by the Greeks.
The Primary Chronicle of Saint Nestor also notes the miraculous deliverance followed an all-night Vigil and the dipping of the garment of the Mother of God into the waters of the sea at the Blachernae church, but does not mention Saints Andrew and Epiphanius and their vision of the Mother of God at prayer. These latter elements, and the beginnings of the celebrating of the Feast of the Protection, seem to postdate Saint Nestor and the Chronicle. A further historical complication might be noted under (October 2) dating Saint Andrew’s death to the year 936.
The year of death might not be quite reliable, or the assertion that he survived to a ripe old age after the vision of his youth, or that his vision involved some later pagan Russian raid which met with the same fate. The suggestion that Saint Andrew was a Slav (or a Scythian according to other sources, such as S. V. Bulgakov) is interesting, but not necessarily accurate. The extent of Slavic expansion and repopulation into Greece is the topic of scholarly disputes.
In the Prologue, a Russian book of the twelfth century, a description of the establishment of the special Feast marking this event states, “For when we heard, we realized how wondrous and merciful was the vision… and it transpired that Your holy Protection should not remain without festal celebration, O Ever-Blessed One!”
Therefore, in the festal celebration of the Protection of the Mother of God, the Russian Church sings, “With the choirs of the Angels, O Sovereign Lady, with the venerable and glorious prophets, with the First-Ranked Apostles and with the Hieromartyrs and Hierarchs, pray for us sinners, glorifying the Feast of your Protection in the Russian Land.” Moreover, it would seem that Saint Andrew, contemplating the miraculous vision was a Slav, was taken captive, and became the slave of the local inhabitant of Constantinople named Theognostus.
Churches in honor of the Protection of the Mother of God began to appear in Russia in the twelfth century. Widely known for its architectural merit is the temple of the Protection at Nerl, which was built in the year 1165 by holy Prince Andrew Bogoliubsky. The efforts of this holy prince also established in the Russian Church the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God, about the year 1164.
At Novgorod in the twelfth century there was a monastery of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos (the so-called Zverin monastery) In Moscow also under Tsar Ivan the Terrible the cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God was built at the church of the Holy Trinity (known as the church of Saint Basil the Blessed).
On the Feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos we implore the defense and assistance of the Queen of Heaven, “Remember us in your prayers, O Lady Virgin Mother of God, that we not perish by the increase of our sins. Protect us from every evil and from grievous woes, for in you do we hope, and venerating the Feast of your Protection, we magnify you.”
Apostle Ananias of the Seventy
The Holy Apostle Ananias of the Seventy (October 1), was the first Bishop of Damascus. The Lord ordered him to restore the sight of Saul, the former persecutor of Christians, then baptize him (Acts 9:10-19, 22:12). Saul became the great preacher and Apostle Paul. Saint Ananias boldly and openly confessed Christianity before the Jews and the pagans, despite the danger.
From Damascus he went to preach at Eleutheropolis, where he healed many of their infirmities. Lucian, the prefect of the city, tried to persuade the holy one to offer sacrifice to idols. Because of Ananias’ staunch and solid confession of Christ, Lucian ordered that he be tortured. Harsh torments did not sway the witness of Truth. Then the torturers led him out beyond the city, where they stoned him. The saint prayed for those who put him to death. His relics were later transferred to Constantinople.
Venerable Romanus the Melodist, “Sweet-Singer”
Saint Romanus the Melodist was born in the fifth century in the Syrian city of Emesa of Jewish parents. After moving to Constantinople, he became a church sacristan in the temple of Hagia Sophia. The monk spent his nights alone at prayer in a field or in the Blachernae church beyond the city.
Saint Romanus was not a talented reader or singer. Once, on the eve of the Nativity of Christ, he read the kathisma verses. He read so poorly that another reader had to take his place. The clergy ridiculed Romanus, which devastated him.
On the day of the Nativity, the Mother of God appeared to the grief-stricken youth in a vision while he was praying before her Kyriotissa icon. She gave him a scroll and commanded him to eat it. Thus was he given the gift of understanding, composition, and hymnography.
That evening at the all-night Vigil Saint Romanus sang, in a wondrous voice, his first Kontakion: “Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One…” All the hymns of Saint Romanus became known as kontakia, in reference to the Virgin’s scroll. Saint Romanus was also the first to write in the form of the Oikos, which he incorporated into the all-night Vigil at his places of residence (In Greek, “oikos”).
For his zealous service Saint Romanus was ordained as a deacon and became a teacher of song. Until his death, which occurred about the year 556, the hierodeacon Romanus the Melodist composed nearly a thousand hymns, many of which are still used by Christians to glorify the Lord. About eighty survive.
Venerable Savva, Abbot of Vishera, Novgorod
Saint Savva of Vyshera was the son of the noble boyar Ivan Borozda of Kashin. From his youth Savva was noted for his piety. As a young man, he was attracted to monasticism, and he was tonsured in one of the monasteries at Tver. Then he settled in the wilderness (later called the Saint Savva-Tver Hermitage) about twenty versts from Tver. Seeing Saint Savva's virtuous life, the brethren chose him as their Igoumen. Disdaining honors, he left around 1411 and went to Mount Athos. He returned from the Holy Mountain with a copy of The Rudder, a book containing the Canons of the Ecumenical and local Councils of the Orthodox Church, which was used subsequently by Archbishop Bassian (Ryle) of Rostov.
After his return from Mount Athos, Saint Savva's chose a solitary spot seven versts from Novgorod, on the banks of the Vyshera River. Here, with the blessing of Archbishop Simon of Novogorod, the Saint founded a small monastic community in 1418, and dedicated it to the Ascension of the Lord. Saint Savva set up a pillar near the monastery and lived as a stylite.
Saint Savva reposed in 1461 at the advanced age of 80. As his successor, he appointed his disciple
Andrew, who was known for his strict ascetical life.
Saint Savva's local veneration was approved by Archbishop Jonah of Novgorod (+ 1470), after the Igoumen of Saint Savva – Vyshera Monastery was healed after praying to the Saint.Then Archbishop Jonah commissioned an icon of Saint Savva to be painted, as well as a Canon composed in his honor.
The Church-wide glorification of Saint Savva took place at the Moscow Council of 1549. A Church Service was composed by the Serbian Hieromonk Pakhomios.
Martyr Domninus of Thessalonica
No information available at this time.
Martyr Michael, Abbot in Armenia, and 36 Fathers with him
The Monastic Martyr Michael was the Igoumen of Zobē Monastery (Μονή Ζώβη), near Sebastopol in Armenia. There he labored in asceticism with thirty-six other monks at the end of the VIII century, during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VI and his mother Empress Irene. When the land was invaded by the Hagarenes (Saracens). Emir Alim seized the Monastery and tried to persuade the monks to to deny Christ and convert to Mohammedanism. However, strengthened from above, the Holy Fathers paid no attention to the words of the infidels.
Standing in the midst of his monks, Saint Michael encouraged them to face death courageously for the sake of Christ. First, the monks were beheaded with swords, and then Saint Michael was tortured and beheaded. Thus, they all received crowns of glory from Christ around the year 790.
Venerable John (Koukouzelis) the Hymnographer of Mount Athos
Saint John Koukouzelis, a native of Dirrachia (Bulgaria), was orphaned in childhood. Endowed with a very fine voice, he entered the Constantinople court school. He found favor with the emperor John Comnenos (1118-1143) and became a chief court singer. The sumptuousness and luxury of the imperial court bothered the pious youth. Once, when asked what he had eaten for dinner, he replied, “Beans and peas.” The name Koukouzelis (beans and peas) stuck with him ever after.
John began to seek ways to escape the enticements of the court, as well as a marriage arranged for him by the emperor. By the will of God, John met an igumen from Mt. Athos who had come to Constantinople on monastery business. John revealed to the Elder his desire to leave the court. The Elder blessed John to come to the Holy Mountain. There John was accepted and tonsured a monk.
He was given the obedience of tending the monastery’s flock of goats. He took the flock to remote areas of the Holy Mountain to graze. There in the wilderness the youth was able to to pray, contemplate God, and sing the divine hymns in solitude. Charmed by the angelic beauty of his voice, the animals gathered around him and listened as though entranced.
Out of modesty and humility the singer did not reveal his gift to the brethren. But once, a wilderness dweller overheard his moving pastoral song and informed the igumen. Saint John then revealed to the igumen that he had been a court singer. He tearfully implored him to remain in the wilderness with his flock.
The igumen was afraid that the emperor would find out that his favorite court singer was on the Holy Mountain and force him to return to court. Wishing to avoid the emperor’s displeasure the igumen journeyed to Constantinople to explain what had become of John and begged him not to hinder the young man from his salvific path.
Thereafter John Koukouzelis sang on the right cleros in the cathedral on Sundays and feastdays. Once, after singing an Akathist before an icon of the Mother of God, John was granted a great mercy. The Mother of God appeared to him in a dream and said, “Rejoice, John, and do not cease to sing. For that, I shall not forsake you.” With these works she placed into John’s hand a golden coin, then became invisible. This coin was placed beneath the icon. Many miracles have been credited to the coin and the icon. The icon, named the “Koukouzelissa” in memory of Saint John is located in the Lavra monastery of Saint Athanasius. It is commemorated on October 1, and on the 10th Friday after Pascha.
The Mother of God appeared to Saint John again and healed him of a grievous affliction of his legs, caused by the long standing in church. Saint John’s remaining days were spent in intense ascetic efforts. He also worked hard on the discipline of church singing, gaining the title of both master teacher and regent (overseer).
He arranged and compiled melodies for church stichera verses, troparia and kontakia. He edited texts of hymns and wrote his own troparia. Some of his compositions are also in the following manuscripts: “A Book, by the Will of God Encompassing All the Order of Progression of Church Services, Compiled by Master Teacher John Koukouzelis,” “Progression of Services, Compiled by Master Teacher John Koukouzelis, “From the Beginning of Great Vespers through to the Completion of the Divine Liturgy,” and “The Science of Song and Singing Signs with all the Legitimate Hand-Placement and with all the Arrangements of Song.”
Foreseeing the hour of his death, Saint John took his leave of the brethren, and in his last wishes bade them to bury him in the Church of the Archangel that he built. Church singers reverence Saint John Koukouzelis as their own special patron saint.
Venerable Gregory Domesticus of the Great Lavra, Mount Athos
Saint Gregory Domesticus (leading chanter) was the contemporary of Saint John Koukouzelis, and lived in the Great Lavra of Mt. Athos in piety and asceticism. Like Saint John, he also sang in the right choir in the Great Lavra, and was even called Gregory Koukouzelis in honor of his instructor. Saint Gregory was known for his technical skill and for the sweetness of his voice. He chanted the Vigil service with great reverence and compunction, never sitting down in church.
Patriarch Callistus I (June 20) had started the practice of singing “All of creation rejoices” at the Liturgy of Saint Basil in place of “It is truly meet….” Patriarch Philotheus (October 8), who succeeded him, restored “It is truly meet” to Saint Basil’s Liturgy. Soon after this Saint Gregory sang “All of creation rejoices” at Liturgy on the eve of Theophany in the presence of Patriarch Gregory of Alexandria. The Most Holy Theotokos appeared to Saint Gregory and thanked him for singing the hymn in her honor. She also handed him a gold coin. From that time forward, “All of creation” has been sung at the Liturgy of Saint Basil.
Saint Gregory fell asleep in the Lord in 1355.
“Pskov-Protection” Icon of the Mother of God
The Feast of the Pskov-Protection Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos was established in memory of the miraculous deliverance of Pskov from the invading troops of the Polish king Stephen Bathory in 1581. During the siege, they carried forth the wonderworking Dormition Icon of the Mother of God in procession from the monastery.
On the eve of the decisive fighting, the pious blind Elder Dorotheus the Smith had a vision of the Most Holy Theotokos at the spot where the enemy had prepared to attack, at a corner of the fortress of the monastery in honor of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos.
The Most Holy Virgin appeared to the Elder Dorotheus with various Russian Saints: the holy Great Prince Vladimir and the Pskov Princes Vsevolod-Gabriel and Dovmont-Timothy, Saint Anthony of Kiev Caves, Cornelius of Pskov, Euphrosynus of Spaso-Elazar and Savva of Krypetsk, Blessed Nicholas of Pskov and Saint Niphon, Archbishop of Novgorod, the organizer of the Pskov Spaso-Mirozh monastery.
Proceeding from the Pechor side from the Spaso-Mirozhsk monastery across the River Velika, the Mother of God with the Saints entered the church of the Protection monastery. The Saints besought the All-Pure Virgin to have pity on the sinful citizens of Pskov and save the city “from the imposition of woes.” The Most Holy Theotokos, having promised the city Her mercy, gave orders to set up the Pechersk icon at the place of Her appearance.
During the battle the Polish tried to breach the fortress wall, but through the intercession of the Mother of God and the Saints, they were not able to break through into the city. After their deliverance from the enemy, the grateful people of Pskov built a church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos.
For the temple of the Protection Most Holy Theotokos, the Pskov-Pechersk icon of the Mother of God was painted, which has also been given the name, “Appearance of the Mother of God to the Elder Dorotheus.” The appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos occurred on September 7, and celebration of the Pskov-Pechersk Icon was established on October 1. A special service was compiled for the Feast of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Equals of the Apostles, Emperor Mirian and Empress Nana of Georgia; Saint Sidonia; the Commemoration of the apparition of the Pillar with the Robe of the Lord under it at Mtskheta in Georgia
During the reign of King Aderki of Kartli, the Jewish diaspora in Mtskheta learned that a wondrous Child had been born in Jerusalem. Then, thirty years later, a man came from Jerusalem to deliver this message: “The youth has grown up. He calls Himself the Son of God and preaches to us the New Covenant. We have sent envoys to every Jewish diaspora to urge the scholars of the religion to come to Jerusalem and judge what measures should be taken in regard to this matter.”
In response to the envoy’s request and at the recommendation of the Jewish Sanhedrin, Elioz of Mtskheta and Longinoz of Karsani were chosen to journey to Jerusalem. Elioz of Mtskheta was born to a pious family, and as his mother prepared him for the journey, she tearfully begged him not to take any part in the spilling of the blood of the Messiah.
When the Roman soldiers were nailing our Savior to the Cross on Golgotha, Elioz’s mother miraculously heard each strike of the hammer. She cried out in fear, “Farewell majesty of the Jews! For inasmuch as you have killed your Savior and Redeemer, henceforth you have become your own enemies!” With this she breathed her last.
After the soldiers had cast lots for the Robe of our Lord, it was acquired by Elioz and Longinoz, and with great honor they carried it back with them to Mtskheta. Upon their arrival, Elioz met his sister Sidonia, who took from him the Sacred Robe. With much grief she listened to the story of our Savior’s Crucifixion, clutched the Robe to her breast, and immediately gave up her spirit.
Many miracles were worked by the Robe, and news of this flashed like lightning throughout Mtskheta. King Aderki had a great desire to possess the Robe but, frightened by the miracles, he did not attempt to free it from Sidonia’s embrace. Elioz was obliged to bury his sister and the Precious Robe together. A cypress tree grew up on Sidonia’s grave. When the disciples of Christ cast lots after Pentecost, the lot for evangelizing Georgia fell to the Most Holy Theotokos. But Christ revealed to His Mother that it was not His will for her to preach there. “You have been entrusted to protect the Georgian nation,” He said, “but the role of evangelizing that land belongs to My disciple Andrew the First-called. Send him with an image of your face “Not-Made-By-Hands” to protect the Georgian people to the end of the ages!”
According to the will of God and the blessing of the Theotokos, Saint Andrew the First-called set off for Georgia to preach the Christian Faith. He entered Georgia from the southwest, in the region of Atchara, and subsequently preached in every region of the nation. He established a hierarchy for the Georgian Church and then returned to Jerusalem for Pascha. When he visited Georgia for the second time, the Apostle Andrew was accompanied by the Apostles Matthias and Simon the Canaanite.
Years passed and, under threat from Persian fire-worshippers and other pagan communities, the memory of Christ faded from the minds of the Georgian people.
Then, at the beginning of the 4th century, according to God’s will and the blessing of the Most Holy Theotokos, the holy virgin Nino arrived in Kartli to preach the Christian Faith. She settled in the outskirts of Mtskheta, in the bramble bushes of the king’s garden. Saint Nino inquired as to the whereabouts of our Lord’s Robe, but no one could remember where it had been preserved. In her quest for the Precious Robe, she became acquainted with Elioz’s descendants, the Jewish priest Abiatar and his daughter, Sidonia. Saint Nino converted them to Christianity.
Saint Nino was blessed by God with the gift of healing. She healed the afflicted through the name of our crucified Savior and through the grace of the cross formed from grapevines by the Theotokos and bound with strands of Saint Nino’s hair.
At that time King Mirian ruled Kartli. Following in the footsteps of his ancestors, he worshiped the idol Armazi, but in the depth of his heart he was drawn to the Faith that the holy virgin was preaching. Mirian’s wife, Queen Nana, was the daughter of a famous military leader of Pontus. Thus, the king had received some prior knowledge of the Faith of the Greeks.
Once Queen Nana fell deeply ill, and only through the prayers of Saint Nino was she spared from death. After this miraculous healing, King Mirian became intrigued by the Faith that Saint Nino was preaching, and he began asking the newly enlightened Abiatar about the Holy Scriptures.
Once, while he was hunting on Mount Tkhoti near Mtskheta, King Mirian was suddenly gripped by an evil spirit, and he burned with a desire to destroy the Christian people of his land and—above all others— the virgin Nino. But suddenly the sun was eclipsed, and the king was surrounded by darkness. The frightened Mirian prayed to the pagan gods to save him from this terror, but his prayers went unanswered. Then, in utter despair, he began to pray to the Crucified God-man and a miracle occurred: the darkness scattered and the sun shone as before. Raising his hands to the east, Mirian cried out, “Truly Thou art the God preached by Nino, God of gods and King of kings!”
Having returned to the capital, King Mirian went immediately to the bramble bushes where Saint Nino dwelt. He greeted her with great honor and spent several hours seeking her counsel. Upon her recommendation, he sent messengers to Emperor Constantine in Byzantium, requesting that he send priests to baptize the people of Kartli and architects to build churches.
This happened on June 24 of the year 324, which was a Saturday. King Mirian began to construct a church so that the priests arriving from Constantinople would have a place to serve. Seven columns to support the church were formed from the wood of a cypress tree that had grown in the king’s garden. Six of the columns were erected without a problem, but the seventh could not be moved from the place where it had been carved. Saint Nino and her disciples prayed through the night, and at dawn they watched as a youth, encompassed by a brilliant light, descended from the heavens and raised the column. The miraculous column began to shine and stopped in mid-air at a height of twelve cubits.
Sweet-smelling myrrh began to flow from under the Holy Pillar’s foundations, and the entire population of Mtskheta flocked to that place to receive its blessing. Approaching the Life-giving Pillar, the sick were healed, the blind received sight, and the paralyzed began to walk.
By that time a certain Bishop John and his suite had arrived from Constantinople. Saint Constantine the Great sent a cross, an icon of the Savior, a fragment from the Life-giving Cross of our Lord (from the place where His feet lay), and a nail from His Crucifixion as gifts to the newly enlightened King Mirian and his people.
At the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi Rivers in Mtskheta, the king and queen, the royal court, and all the people of Kartli were baptized into the Christian Faith. After the glorious baptism, Bishop John and his retinue from Constantinople set off toward southern Georgia, for the village of Erusheti. There they built churches and presented the Christian community with the nail from our Lord’s Crucifixion. Soon after, they began to construct Manglisi Church and placed the fragment from the Life-giving Cross inside.
King Mirian wanted to keep some of the newly obtained sacred objects in the capital city, but Saint Nino informed him that one of the holiest objects, the Robe of our Savior, was already located in Mtskheta. The king summoned the priest Abiatar and inquired about the Robe, then rejoiced greatly after Abiatar confirmed Saint Nino’s words that the Robe of the Lord was held in the embrace of Sidonia, who was buried under the stump of the cypress tree which now served as the pedestal for the Life-giving Pillar.
At that time a lush, sweet-smelling, wonderworking tree grew up on a mountain over Mtskheta and, at Bishop John’s suggestion, Prince Revi, the son of King Mirian, ordered that the tree be chopped down and a cross formed from its wood. The tree was chopped down and replanted, without its roots, next to a church that was under construction. For thirty-seven days the tree retained its original appearance—even its leaves did not fade or wither. Then, after thirty-seven days had passed, three crosses were formed from its wood.
For many days after this miracle the people of Mtskheta saw a vision: during the night a fiery cross shone above the church, surrounded by stars. When morning came, two of the stars had moved away from the cross in opposite directions—one to the west and the other to the east. The fiery cross headed to the north, stopped for some time over the hill on the other side of the River Aragvi, then disappeared.
Saint Nino advised King Mirian to erect one of the three crosses in the west, on Tkhoti Mountain, and another in the east, in the village of Ujarma. But it was unclear where the third cross should be erected, so King Mirian prayerfully beseeched the Lord to reveal to him the place.
The Lord heard his prayers and sent an angel to show him the place: a rocky hill to the north of the capital, at the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari Rivers. Today this hill is called Jvari (Cross) and upon it towers the magnificent church of Jvari Monastery. At the moment the cross was erected on this hill, all the idols in Mtskheta fell and shattered to pieces.
Prior to his death King Mirian blessed his heir, Prince Bakar, and urged him to dedicate his life to the Holy Trinity and fight ceaselessly against idolaters. Then he peacefully reposed in the Lord.
According to his will, Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles King Mirian was buried in the upper church at Samtavro, where today a convent in honor of Saint Nino is located. The king was too modest to be buried in the lower church, the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, in which the Life-giving Pillar had been preserved.
Queen Nana reposed two years later and was buried next to her husband.
Icon of the Mother of God of Gerbovets
The Gerbovets Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God was acknowledged as wonderworking in the year 1859, but it was revered by believers of the Kishinev diocese even earlier. According to Tradition, this icon was brought to the Gerbovets monastery (Bessarabia, Romania) in the year 1790.
Icon of the Mother of God of Barsk
The Barsk Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God is an ancient icon of Byzantine origin from the Barsk monastery in the Podosk diocese. The icon was historically venerated as holy by both Orthodox and Catholics. The solemn celebration was established in 1887.
Icon of the Mother of God of Kasperov
The wonderworking Kasperov Icon of the Mother of God is a great sacred treasure of the cities of Kherson and Odessa, where it is kept for about six months a year. The days of its arrival at Odessa (October 1), and of its departure – on the fourth day of Pascha (Bright Wednesday) – have become important Church celebrations.
The appearance of this small Icon, painted with oils on a canvas pasted on a board, produces a strong impression. The Sovereign Lady and the Divine Child are depicted only as far as the upper part of the chest. With a sorrowful expression on her face, the Mother of God, presses the Child Christ to her cheek, holding His head with both hands. Clinging to the Most Pure Virgin, the Infant grasps the veil covering her head with His left hand, and in His right hand He holds a scroll.
According to legend, this Icon was brought to Russia from Transylvania at the end of the XVI century by a Serb who settled in Olviopol district, Kherson gubernia. Passed down from parents to children, in 1809 the Holy Icon was inherited by the maiden Juliania Ioannovna, who lived in the Olviopol district, on the estate of Novo-Ivanovka. She was the future wife of Staff Captain Nicholas Kasperov, and the owner of the Kasperovka estate (Novo-Ivanovka; now the village of Kizomys, Belozersky District, Bashkortostan, Kherson Province, Ukraine.
By the time she inherited it, the board had deteriorated, and the painting had darkened to such an extent that it was difficult to make out the features of the Mother of God and the Savior. According to Mrs. Kasperova, her parents died at an early age, and during their lifetime she was not interested in the Icon's origin. That is why its story is unknown (see Priest Sergius Petrovsky 1889. p. 8), based on the fact that Nicholas Kasperov belonged to a Russian-Serbian family, he suggested that the Icon could have been brought to Russia by some noble Serb who came from Transylvania at the invitation of the Russian government, and that the Icon was passed down in the family. According to this assumption, the Icon could not have been in Russia prior to 1751, when the first settlers came to Novo Serbia on the territory of Ukraine.
One night in February 1840, while experiencing great sorrows, Juliana Kasperova prayed for a long time before the Icon. As she prayed she noticed that the faces of the Mother of God and the Child had become brighter, and the Icon had miraculously renewed itself. Later, several other miracles and healings occurred before the Holy Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, which was in the landowner's house. Following an investigation, after which the Icon was recognized by the Holy Synod as miraculous, many pilgrims flocked to Juliana's home. In 1844 Mrs. Kasperova decided that it was impossible to keep the wonderworking Icon, so she brought it to the local church of Saint Nicholas.
In 1852, the residents of Kherson applied for permission to have an annual Cross Procession on the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord, and to have the wonderworking Icon brought to them. Since 1853, the residents of Nikolaev received permission to venerate the Kasperov Icon of the Mother of God in their churches from July 1 until August 1.
During the Sevastopol (Crimean) War of 1853–1855, Odessa was besieged by the enemy fleet, and times were very difficult. In August 1854, the wonderworking Icon was solemnly transferred to the city cathedral in procession, remaining there until May 20, 1856.
On October 1, 1855, the Feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos, after Archbishop Innocent (Borisow) of Odessa served a Moleben to the Kasperov Icon before a large gathering of the faithful, the enemy retreated, and the city remained unharmed. According to general belief, Odessa was saved by the grace of the miraculous Icon. It was decided "that this event should not be forgotten in the teaching of posterity, and to make this event unforgettable, and that October 1 be kept as a most sacred Feast Day."
The main home of the wonderworking Kasperov Icon continues to be the village of Kasperovka, but it does not remain there very long. Every year by October 1, it is brought from Kasperovka to Odessa and remains there until it is returned on Bright Wednesday. It is placed at the south wall of the front of the cathedral. For the remainder of Bright Week, the Icon is at Kasperovka. On the Feast of the Ascension, it is transferred to Kherson, where it stays until June 29, and then until August 1, it is venerated by the residents of Nikolaev. In every place where the Icon stays, on Fridays an Akathist is read before it.
The Kasparov Icon (31×26.5 cm) is painted in oils on canvas pasted on a board. On the sides, below the faces of the Theotokos and the Child Jesus, are icons of Saint John the Baptist and of the Great Martyr Tatiana on the other side.
Dates of commemoration: October 1 (Deliverance of Odessa, 1855), April 5, Bright Wednesday (a movable Feast), and on June 29 (1853-1855).
Saint Melchizedek I, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia
After the repose of Catholicos Simeon, leadership of the Georgian Church passed to Catholicos Melchizedek I. Saint Melchizedek led the Church from approximately 1010 to 1030, during the reigns of Kings Bagrat III, George I, and Bagrat IV.
It is believed that Saint Melchizedek was the first Georgian Catholicos to be commemorated as Catholicos-Patriarch.
According to historical sources, Catholicos Melchizedek was of a noble lineage and was a pupil of King Bagrat III.
Under his leadership Svetitskhoveli Cathedral was restored and adorned. He journeyed to Byzantium to raise funds for this project, and while he was there he visited Emperor Basil II (the Bulgar-slayer). Saint Melchizedek returned to his motherland with generous gifts and began the greatest construction project of the century: the adornment of Svetitskhoveli Cathedral with gold, silver, pearls, and precious stones.
Saint Melchizedek made several journeys to Byzantium during his life, and historians believe that during one of those visits the patriarchs of the East approved “Catholicos-Patriarch” as the official title of the chief shepherd of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church.
History has preserved Saint Melchizedek’s will, in which he bequeathed a long list of holy objects, monasteries, and villages to Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. In his will the chief shepherd of the Georgian Church is referred to as “Catholicos-Patriarch.” Melchizedek’s will also reveals that he specified the location where he wished to be buried. Saint Melchizedek was canonized on October 17, 2002.
“Terebovlya” Icon of the Mother of God
October 1 commemorates the transfer of the Terebovlya Icon of the Mother of God from the town of Terebovlya to Lvov in 1672.
This icon of the Most Holy Theotokos originally appeared in the principality of Galich during the time of the Terebovlya princes, in the thirteenth, or perhaps as early as the twelfth century. After the decline of the Galich principality in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Roman Catholics tried many times to seize the icon and bring it to their own church.
The Orthodox believers of Galich and Terebovlya always prayed fervently before the Terebovlya icon, asking the Mother of God to protect them whenever Russia was attacked by enemy forces, and its citizens were led into captivity.
In the spring of 1672, a Turkish army of 300,000 men took the town of Kamenets Podolski. This same army was defeated at Terebovlya, and was forced to retreat. The holy icon of the Mother of God was taken from the Church of the Protection in town and moved to the church in the ancient castle. There the people of Terebovlya thanked God for their deliverance.
On the Feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God in 1672, the Bishop of Lvov, with the clergy and the faithful, transferred the icon to the cathedral of Saint George in Lvov so that it would not be stolen. This translation took place when Bishop Joseph (Shumlyansky) of Lvov, who later became a Uniate, was still a hierarch of the Orthodox Church.
In 1973, when it was decided to celebrate the 300th anniversary of its translation, the icon was provided with a gilded cover, thanks to the efforts of Metropolitan Nicholas of Lvov and Ternopol.