2ND SUNDAY OF LUKE
2nd Sunday of Luke, The Holy Hieromartyr Cyprian and the Virgin Martyr Justina, Theophilus the Confessor
ST. PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 6:1-10
Brethren, working together with him, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation.” Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in any one’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, hunger; by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
The Lord said, “As you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
Hieromartyr Cyprian, Virgin Martyr Justina, and Martyr Theoctistus, of Nicomedia
Saint Cyprian was a pagan and a native of Antioch. From his early childhood his misguided parents dedicated him to the service of the pagan gods. From the age seven until he was thirty, Cyprian studied at the leading centers of paganism: on Mount Olympus; in the cities of Argos and Tauropolis; in the Egyptian city of Memphis; and at Babylon. Once he attained eminent wisdom in pagan philosophy and the sorcerer’s craft, he was initiated into the pagan priesthood on Mount Olympus. Having discovered great power by summoning unclean spirits, he beheld the Prince of Darkness himself, speaking with him and receiving from him a host of demons to serve him.
After returning to Antioch, Cyprian was revered by the pagans as a prominent pagan priest, amazing people with his ability to cast spells, to summon pestilence and plagues, and to conjure up the dead. He brought many people to ruin, teaching them to serve the demons, and how to cast magic spells.
The holy virgin Justina lived in Antioch. After turning her own father and mother away from the error of paganism and leading them to faith in Christ, she dedicated herself to the Heavenly Bridegroom and spent her time in fasting and prayer. When the young man Aglaidas (Αγλαΐδας or Αγλαϊος) proposed marriage to her, the saint refused, for she wished to remain a virgin. Aglaidas sought Cyprian’s help. He said that he would arrange for Justina's heart to become filled with lust for the young man. No matter what Cyprian tried, he accomplished nothing, since the Saint overcame all the wiles of the devil by prayer and fasting.
Cyrian sent an unclean spirit to attack the holy virgin, and to arouse carnal passions in her, but she overcame them by the power of the Sign of the Cross, and by fervent prayer to the Lord.
Even though one of the demons, and Cyprian himself, assumed various guises by the power of sorcery, they were unable to influence Saint Justina, who was guarded by her firm faith in Christ. All the spells were dissipated, and the demons fled at the mention of Justina's name.
Cyprian, in his rage, sent down pestilence and plague upon Justina’s family and upon the entire city, but this was thwarted by her prayer. The sorcerer brought tribulation not only upon Justina and her family, but upon the entire city as well. Rumors spread that the city was being punished because Justina would not wed Aglaias. Several people went to her and demanded that she marry Aglaias so that Cyprian would not punish them with more afflictions. Justina calmed them and assured them that soon the misfortunes which Cyprian caused with the help of the demons would end. Saint Justina prayed to God, the power of the demons was destroyed, and everyone was healed of their illnesses and afflictions.
People began to praise Christ, and to mock Cyprian and his sorcery. Convinced that the devil was powerless against the Sign of the Cross, and trembled at the name of Christ, Cyprian came to his senses and realized that he had been corrupted by becoming a sorcerer, and participating in every sort of wickedness, doing harm to others and deceiving them. He killed many with his spells and potions, and he murdered many men and women as sacrificial offerings to the demons. He was already a partaker of the portion of the demons, and if he had died at that moment, he would have been cast into the depths of Hell. The Lord, however, in His infinite compassion, saved him from the abyss.
Saint Cyprian saw that the devil whom he served was afraid of Christ. The Evil One admitted that he was unable to conquer the maiden because he was afraid of "a certain sign" upon her.
“If you take fright at even the mere shadow of the Cross and if the mere name of Christ makes you tremble,” said Cyprian, “then what will you do when Christ Himself stands before you?”
The devil then threw himself upon the pagan priest and attempted to beat and strangle him. For the first time, Saint Cyrian tested the power of the Sign of the Cross and the name of Christ, guarding himself from the fury of the Enemy. Afterward, he went to the local bishop Anthimos in profound repentance, and threw all of his books into the flames. The very next day, he went into the church, and did not want to leave it, even though he had not yet been baptized.
By his efforts to follow after righteousness, Saint Cyprian understood the great power of faith in Christ, making up for more than thirty years of service to Satan. Seven days after his Baptism he was tonsured as a reader, on the twelfth day, subdeacon, on the thirtieth, deacon. After a year, he was ordained as a priest. Shortly after this, Saint Cyprian was elevated to the rank of bishop.
Saint Cyprian converted so many pagans to Christ that in his diocese no one was left to offer sacrifice to idols, and the pagan temples fell into disuse. Saint Justina withdrew to a monastery and was chosen as its Superior.
During the persecution against Christians under Enperor Diocletian, Bishop Cyprian and Saint Justina were arrested and brought to Nicomedia, where after horrible tortures they were beheaded with the sword. Saint Cyprian, fearful that the holy virgin’s courage might falter if she saw him put to death, asked for time to pray. Saint Justina inclined her neck and was beheaded first.
After seeing the torments of Saint Justina, a soldier named Theoktistos fell at Cyprian’s feet and declared himself a Christian, and he was beheaded with them.
The Hieromartyr Cyprian, the Virgin Martyr Justina, and the Martyr Theoktistos suffered for Christ at Nicomedia in the year 304.
The relics of Saints Cyprian and Justina are to be found in various places around the world. One of Saint Cyprian's feet is at Iviron Monastery on Mount Athos. A piece of Saint Cyprian's skull is in the church named for these Saints at Menikos Nicosia. A small piece of Saint Justina's skull is there as well. Fragments of the Holy Relics of Saints Cyprian and Justina are in the Monastery which is dedicated to them at Phylḗ, Attica. The head of Saint Justina is located in the Monastery of Panagia Panachrantou (the All-Holy Theotokos) on the Greek island if Andros. Part of the hand of Saint Cyprian is located in the Zlătari church (Calea Victoriei 14, Bucharest Romania).
Blessed Andrew the Fool-For-Christ at Constantinople
Blessed Andrew, Fool-for-Christ, was a Slav and lived in the tenth century at Constantinople. From his early years, he loved God’s Church and the Holy Scriptures. Once during a dream, the saint beheld a vision of two armies. In the one were men in radiant garb, in the other, black and fiercesome devils. An angel of God, who held wondrous crowns, said to Andrew, that these crowns were not adornments from the earthly world, but rather a celestial treasure, with which the Lord rewards His warriors, victorious over the dark hordes. “Proceed with this good deed,” the angel said to Andrew. “Be a fool for My sake and you will receive much in the day of My Kingdom.”
The saint perceived that it was the Lord Himself summoning him to this deed. From that time Andrew began to go about the streets in rags, as though his mind had become muddled. For many years the saint endured mockery and insults. With indifference he underwent beatings, hunger and thirst, cold and heat, begging alms and giving them away to the poor. For his great forebearance and humility the saint received from the Lord the gift of prophecy and wisdom, saving many from spiritual perils, and he unmasked the impiety of many.
While praying at the Blachernae church, Saint Andrew beheld the Most Holy Mother of God, holding her veil over those praying under her Protection (October 1). Blessed Andrew died in the year 936.
Repose of the Holy Right-believing Princess Anna of Kashin
The Holy Right-believing Princess Anna of Kashin, a daughter of the Rostov prince Demetrius Borisovich, in 1294 became the wife of the holy Great Prince Michael Yaroslavich of Tver, who was murdered by the Mongol-Tatars of the Horde in 1318, (November 22). After the death of her husband, Anna withdrew into Tver’s Sophia monastery and accepted tonsure with the name Euphrosynē. Later, she transferred to the Kashin Dormition monastery, and became a schemanun with the name Anna. She fell asleep in the Lord on October 2, 1338.
Saint Anna’s sons also imitated their father’s steadfast confession of faith in Christ. Demetrius Mikhailovich (“Dread Eyes”) was murdered at the Horde on September 15, 1325; and later, Alexander Mikhailovich, Prince of Tver, was murdered together with his son Theodore on October 29, 1339.
Miracles at Saint Anna’s grave began in 1611, during the siege of Kashin by Polish and Lithuanian forces. There was also a great fire in the city which died down without doing much damage. The saint, dressed in the monastic schema, appeared to Gerasimus, a gravely ill warden of the Dormition cathedral. She promised that he would recover, but complained, “People show no respect for my tomb. They ignore it and my memory! Do you not know that I am supplicating the Lord and His Mother to deliver the city from the foe, and that you be spared many hardships and evils?” She ordered him to tell the clergy to look after her tomb, and to light a candle there before the icon of Christ Not-Made-By-Hands.
At the Council of 1649 it was decided to uncover her relics for general veneration and to glorify the holy Princess Anna as a saint. But in 1677 Patriarch Joachim proposed to the Moscow Council that her veneration throughout Russia should be discontinued because of the Old Believers Schism, which made use of the name of Saint Anna of Kashin for its own purposes. When she was buried her hand had been positioned to make the Sign of the Cross with two fingers, rather than three. However, the memory of Saint Anna, who had received a crown of glory from Christ, could not be erased by decree. People continued to love and venerate her, and many miracles took place at her tomb.
On June 12, 1909 her second glorification took place, and her universally observed Feast day was established. Her Life describes her as a model of spiritual beauty and chastity, and an example to future generations.
On her Feast Days, the Orthodox Church honors Saint Anna of Kashin with this Magnification: We magnify you, O Venerable Mother, Great Princess Anna, and we honor your holy memory, teacher of monastics and converser with Angels.
Venerable Cassian of Uglich
Saint Cassian the Greek of Uglich, in the world Constantine, was a descendant of the Greek Mangupa princes. He arrived in Moscow as part of the delegation to Great Prince Ivan III, together with the daughter of the Byzantine emperor, Sophia Paleologa.
Having decided to devote his life to the service of God, the saint declined the offer to remain at the court of the Great Prince, and he resettled near Bishop Joasaph of Rostov. When the bishop withdrew to the Therapon monastery for solitude, Constantine followed him, and he led a strict ascetic life.
He accepted monasticism after a miraculous vision by night of Saint Martinian, urging him to take monastic tonsure. After a certain period of time, Saint Cassian left the monastery going not far from the city of Uglich, near the confluence of the Volga and Uchma Rivers, where he founded a monastery in honor of the Dormition of the Mother of God.
Reports of the monk spread widely, and many people began to come to receive his blessing, to see the wilderness habitation and converse with him. Saint Cassian accepted everyone with love, guiding them on the way to salvation with quiet words.
The monk died in great old age on October 2, 1504. In the Uglich Chronicles many miracles of the saint were recorded, in particular the protection of his monastery from Polish soldiers in the years 1609-1611 by his prayers.
The memory of Saint Cassian of Uglich is celebrated also on May 21, the day he shares with his namesake, the holy Emperor Constantine the Great.
Martyrs David and Constantine, Princes of Georgia
The 8th century was extremely difficult for the Georgian people. Marwan bin Muhammad (called “the Deaf” by the Georgians and “the Blind” by the Armenians), the Persian ruler and military leader for the Arab caliph, invaded eastern parts of the Byzantine Empire, then Armenia and Georgia.
With fire and the sword he fought his way across Georgia from the east to the city of Tskhumi (now Sokhumi) in the region of Abkhazeti. The princes David and Constantine Mkheidze of Argveti were faithful Christians and skilled military leaders. When they heard about the enemy’s invasion, the brothers prayed to God for protection, assembled their armies, and urged their people to pray fervently for God’s help.
The Persian warriors approached Argveti from Samtskhe and attacked the Georgians on Persati Mountain. The Georgian army won the battle, with David and Constantine leading the resistance against the fearsome conquerors.
But before long the enraged Marwan the Deaf gathered an enormous army and marched toward Argveti to take revenge. This time the enemy routed the Georgian army. Many were killed and those who survived were forced to flee to the forests. The commanders David and Constantine were taken captive.
The Persian soldiers bound David and Constantine and brought them before Marwan the Deaf, who began to mock them. But they reacted with complete composure, saying, “Your laughter and boasting are in vain, since earthly glory is fleeting and soon fades away. It is not your valor that has captured us, but our own sins. For the atonement of these sins have we fallen into the hands of the godless enemy!”
The furious Marwan ordered that the brothers be beaten without mercy, but they steadfastly endured the suffering. Stunned by the brothers’ resolve, Marwan decided to win them over with flattery instead. Promising him great honors and command of the armies, he turned to the older brother, David, saying, “I have heard of your valor, and I advise you to abandon your erroneous faith and submit yourself to the faith of Muhammad!”
St. David crossed himself and answered, “Let not this disgrace come upon us, that we would depart from the light and draw nearer to the darkness!” Then he condemned the error of the Islamic faith: “Muhammad converted you from the worship of fire, but he could not instill in you the knowledge of the True God. Therefore it appears as though you suffered a shipwreck and saved yourselves from the depths of the sea, but drowned in the shallow waters of the coast.”
Enraged at this reply, Marwan turned to the younger brother, Constantine, hoping to win him over to his side. But Constantine was also unbending, and he fearlessly glorified the Most Holy Trinity: “My brother David and I believe and follow the one Faith and one doctrine in which we have been instructed. Our faith is in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and we will die for the sake of the One True God!”
Marwan ordered that the brothers be starved to death. After they had suffered for ten days, Marwan sent sorcerers and charmers to arouse in them a desire to convert to Islam, but their efforts were in vain. Finally the holy brothers David and Constantine were led to the riverbank near the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian. There they were brutally beaten and bound. Heavy rocks were hung from their necks, and they were drowned in the river.
That night three beams of light descended from the heavens and lit up the place where the brothers had been drowned. According to God’s holy will, the ropes binding the holy martyrs were loosed, and their bodies floated to the surface. A group of faithful Christians carried them out of the river and buried them on the bank of the Tsqaltsitela River, in a church that Marwan the Deaf had devastated.
The place of their burial remained concealed until the beginning of the 12th century, during the reign of King Bagrat the Great (1072-1117). Then, in fulfillment of King Bagrat’s decree, the Monastery of the Martyrs (Motsameta) was built over that place, and the incorrupt relics of the Great Martyrs are still preserved there.
Righteous Admiral Theodore Ushakov of the Russian Naval Fleet
Saint Theodore, one of Russia’s greatest naval heroes of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was born in 1745.
The unvanquished Admiral was the terror of his country’s enemies, and the deliverer of those whom the barbarians had taken captive. He served during the Russo-Turkish War (1787—1791), and also fought against the French. Although he fought many naval battles in the Black Sea and in the Mediterranean, he never lost a single one, and he was never wounded.
Saint Theodore once visited the Greek island of Kerkyra (Corfu), where he venerated the relics of Saint Spyridon of Tremithus (December 12), and gave support and encouragement to the Orthodox Christians in that place.
Since his naval reforms were unpopular with his superiors, Saint Theodore was forced to retire in 1807 by Tsar Alexander I. Having neither wife nor children, the admiral settled in the town of Alekseevo near the Sanaxar Monastery, where he regularly attended services on Sundays and Feast Days. During Great Lent he would stay in the monastery, fasting with the monks and attending the services.
Igumen Nathaniel of Sanaxar regarded Saint Theodore as “a neighbor and a significant patron” of the monastery. In addition to his generous gifts to the monastery, the admiral frequently gave alms to the poor and needy. He never sought earthly glory or riches, but spent his life in serving God and his neighbor.
Saint Theodore died in 1817 at the age of seventy-two. After navigating the sea of life with all its storms and struggles, he entered the calm harbor of eternal rest. He was buried at Sanaxar Monastery beside the church. The monastery was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1991, and Saint Theodore’s grave was found in 1994.
Saint Theodore was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Russia in 2004, and a reliquary in the shape of a naval vessel was made to enshrine his holy relics.
The holy Admiral Theodore should not be confused with his relative Saint Theodore (Ushakov) of Sanaxar Monastery (February 19 and April 21), a monastic saint who lived from 1719 to 1791.
Saint Theodore is honored as a great military leader who defended Russia just as Saint Alexander Nevsky (November 23) and Saint Demetrius of the Don (May 19) did before him. One of the Russian Navy’s atomic cruisers has been named for him, and a movie has been made about his life and career. The composer Khachaturian has also written a musical piece called “Admiral Ushakov.”