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
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE HEBREWS 9:1-7
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.
LUKE 10:38-42, 11:27-28
At that time, Jesus entered a village; and a woman called Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve you alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
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.