THURSDAY OF THE 8TH WEEK
Erastus, Olympas, Rodion, Sosipater, Quartus, and Tertios, Apostles of the 70, Orestes the Martyr of Cappadocia, Holy Father Arsenius of Cappadocia, Our Holy Father Gregory, Bishop of Assa
ST. PAUL’S FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 4:9-16
Brethren, God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are ill-clad and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, the off-scouring of all things. I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.
At that time, there were some present who told Jesus of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." And he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, 'Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?' And he answered him, 'Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'
The holy Apostles Erastus, Sosipater (April 28), Olympas (January 4), Rodion (April 8), Quartus and Tertius (October 30) were disciples of Saint Paul. They all lived during the first century.
The Apostle to the Gentiles speaks of them in the Epistle to the Romans, “And Erastus, the city treasurer, greets you, and Quartus, a brother” (Rom 16: 23).
Saint Sosipater, a native of Achaia, was Bishop of Iconium, where he also died. Saint Paul mentions him in Romans 16:21.
Saint Olympas was mentioned by the holy Apostle Paul (Rom 16:15). He was also a companion of the Apostle Peter. Saint Rodion (Herodion), was a kinsman of the Apostle Paul (Romans 16:11), and left the bishop’s throne at Patras to go to Rome with the Apostle Peter. Saints Rodion and Olympas were beheaded on the very day and hour when Saint Peter was crucified.
Saint Quartus endured much suffering for his piety and converted many pagans to Christ, dying peacefully as a bishop in the city of Beirut.
Saint Tertius is mentioned in the Epistle to the Romans, “I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord” (Rom 16:22). Saint Tertius, to whom Saint Paul dictated the Epistle to the Romans, was the second Bishop of Iconium, where also he died.
The Martyr Orestes the Physician lived in the city of Tyana in Cappadocia during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-311). He was an illustrious and capable soldier, and from his childhood he had been a devoted servant of Christ, offering a sacrifice of praise to God with a pure heart, and refusing to worship the demons which the pagans call "gods."
At the Emperor's command, the military officer Maximinus was sent to Tyana to stamp out Christianity, which by then had spread throughout Cappadocia. Orestes was among the first brought to trial before Maximinus. Courageously, he confessed his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The prosecutor offered the Saint riches, honors and fame if he would become an idolater, but Saint Orestes would not agree to this.
Maximinus tried in many ways, to force him to deny Christ. Even with the pressures they exerted upon him, they were unable to convince him to worship the idols. Then they stripped him naked, beat him up, and flogged him as a punishment. Afterward, he was put in jail for seven days.
At the end of the seventh day he was taken to a pagan temple to offer sacrifice and worship to the idols. Maximinus asked him, "Do you still refuse to convert to the worship which is offered with such reverence by our august emperors?"
Orestes replied that he was a willing subject when it came to political and earthly matters. Apart from that, however, he would not recognize any king except the one true God.
Maximinus ordered that Orestes be taken to a pagan temple and once again, demanded that he worship the idols. When he refused, forty soldiers took turns, one after the other, beating the holy martyr with lashes, with rods, with rawhide, and then they tormented him with fire. Saint Orestes cried out to the Lord, “Establish with me a sign for good, let those who hate me see it and be put to shame” (Psalm 85/86:17).
The Lord heard the prayer of His faithful servant. The earth began to tremble, and the idols toppled and were smashed. Everyone rushed out of the temple, and when Saint Orestes came out, the entire temple collapsed.
Infuriated, Maximinus ordered the holy martyr to be locked up in prison for seven days giving him neither food nor drink, and to resume the torture on the eighth day. They hammered twenty nails into the martyr’s legs, and then tied him to a wild horse. Dragged over the stones, the holy martyr departed to the Lord in the year 304, and his relics were thrown into the sea.
In 1685, when Saint Dēmḗtrios, later the Bishop of Rostov, (October 28) had just finished writing the Life of Saint Orestes to be printed by the Kiev Caves Lavra, he became tired and fell asleep. Saint Orestes appeared to him one night in a dream, during the Nativity Fast, just before Matins. With a joyful countenance, he said, "I suffered more torments for Christ than these."
Then the Martyr bared his chest and showed Saint Dēmḗtrios the deep wound in his left side. "Here," he said, "they pierced me with a spear."
Then Saint Orestes showed him his right elbow and said, "Here they cut off my arm."
Next, he showed him his left arm with a similar wound, saying "They cut off this arm here."
After this he bent over and showed him one leg, and then the other, with wounds behind the knee. He said, "My legs were cut off with a scythe."
After this the Martyr stood up and looked the writer in the face, and declared, "Now you see that I suffered more torments for Christ than you have described.”
The humble monk wondered whether this was Saint Orestes, one of the Five Martyrs of Sebaste (December 13). As if in answer to his thoughts the Martyr said, “I am not that Orestes, but him whose Life you have just finished writing.”
Just then, the bells rang for Matins, and the vision ended.
The Persian Martyr Mίlos was once a General. Later, he was chosen as the Bishop of Telepolis (Susa, or Shushan in Syriac), where the Prophet Daniel saw visions.1 Because of his devout ascetical life, Saint Mίlos received from God the gifts of prophecy and healing. He was ordained by Bishop Bēthlapát of Geddēgoupólis. When the pagans expelled him from the city of Susa, his episcopal See, he fled to Jerusalem. From there, he went to Alexandria, where he met Saint Anthony the Great (January 17).
After two years the Hierarch returned to Persia, where he and his disciples were arrested by the ruler Basiliskos. Saint Mίlos was put to death by the sword. His disciples2 Ebórēs, Papas, and the Deacon Senóei (or Sebórēs), were killed with wooden clubs and stones. Thus, they all received the immortal crown of martyrdom in the year 341.
1 Daniel 8:2 (LXX).
2 Some sources say there were two disciples: Abrosim and Sinon. Others list three disciples: Ebórēs, Papas, and the Deacon Senóei (or Sebórēs). The difference in the names might be explained by alternate transcriptions of the Persian names into other languages. Papas may be a proper name, or it may be that Ebórēs was a priest. If that is the case, however, one would expect to see the title πρεσβύτερος.
Saint Theosteriktos (Θεοστήρικτος) was the Igoumen of Symbola Monastery on Mount Olympus in Bithynia (others say Peletiki Monastery at Triglia). He lived during the reign of Constantine V Copronymos (741-755), who persecuted the Orthodox because they venerated icons.
On Holy Thursday, the governor, Michael Lachonodrakon attacked Theosteriktos’s monastery. Thirty-eight monks were placed under arrest, while others were tortured and mutilated. Igoumen Theosteriktos had his nose cut off, and he was put in jail in Constantinople with Saint Stephen the Younger (November 28) and many others.
When the iconoclastic persecution had ceased, Saint Theosteriktos returned to his monastery, which he rebuilt with the help of Saint Nikḗtas of Medikion (April 3).
Saint Theosteriktos reposed in peace. He is also commemorated on February 17.
The 9th century was one of the most difficult periods in Georgian history. The Arab Muslims wreaked havoc throughout the region of Kartli, forcibly converting many to Islam with fire and the sword. Many of the destitute and frightened were tempted to betray the Faith of their fathers.
At that time the valorous aristocrat and faithful Christian, Prince Constantine, was living in Kartli. He was the descendant of Kakhetian princes, hence his title “Kakhi.”
As is meet for a Christian believer, Saint Constantine considered himself the greatest of sinners and often said, “There can be no forgiveness of my sins, except through the spilling of my blood for the sake of Him Who shed His innocent blood for us!”
While on a pilgrimage to the holy places of Jerusalem, Constantine distributed generous gifts to the churches, visited the wilderness of the Jordan, received blessings from the holy fathers, and returned to his motherland filled with inner joy. After that time Constantine would send thirty thousand pieces of silver to Jerusalem each year.
In the years 853 to 854, when the Arab Muslims invaded Georgia under the command of Buga-Turk, the eighty-five-year-old Prince Constantine commanded the army of Kartli with his son Tarkhuj.
Outside the city of Gori an uneven battle took place between the Arabs and the Georgians. Despite their fierce resistance, the Georgians suffered defeat, and Constantine and Tarkhuj were taken captive.
The captive Constantine-Kakhi was sent to Samarra (a city in central Iraq) to the caliph Ja’far al Mutawakkil (847-861). Ja’far was well aware of the enormous respect Constantine-Kakhi received from the Georgians and all the Christian people who knew him. Having received him with honor, he proposed that Constantine renounce the Christian Faith and threatened him with death in the case of his refusal. Strengthened by divine grace, the courageous prince fearlessly answered, “Your sword does not frighten me. I am afraid of Him Who can destroy my soul and body and Who has the power to resurrect and to kill, for He is the true God, the almighty Sovereign, Ruler of the world, and Father unto all ages!”
The enraged caliph ordered the beheading of Saint Constantine-Kakhi. Bowing on his knees, the holy martyr lifted up a final prayer to the Lord. Saint Constantine-Kakhi was martyred on November 10, 852, the day on which Great-martyr George is commemorated. The holy martyr’s body was hung from a high pillar to intimidate the Christian believers, but after some time it was buried.
A few years later a group of faithful Georgians translated Saint Constantine’s holy relics to his motherland and reburied them there with great honor. In that same century the Georgian Orthodox Church numbered Prince Constantine-Kakhi of Kartli among the saints.
Celebrated by the whole Christian world, Great-martyr George was slain by Emperor Diocletian in the year 303.
The holy martyr is appropriately considered the intercessor for all Christians and the patron saint of many. He is regarded with special reverence among the Georgian people, since he is believed to be the special protector of their nation. Historical accounts often describe how Saint George appeared among the Georgian soldiers in the midst of battles.
The majority of Georgian churches (in villages especially) were built in his honor and, as a result, every day there is a feast of the great-martyr George somewhere in Georgia. The various daily commemorations are connected to one of the churches erected in his name or an icon or a particular miracle he performed.
November 10 marks the day on which Saint George was tortured on the wheel. According to tradition, this day of commemoration was established by the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Nino, the Enlightener of Georgia. Saint Nino was a relative of Saint George the Trophy-bearer.
She revered him deeply and directed the people she had converted to Christianity to cherish him as their special protector.
The Founding of the Church of the Great Martyr George in Georgia: Georgia was enlightened with the Christian faith by the holy Equal of the Apostles Nino (January 14), a kinswoman of the holy Great Martyr George the Victory-Bearer (April 23). Therefore, Georgia has special veneration for Saint George as its patron saint.
The name Georgia is derived from George (this name is preserved now in many languages of the world). Saint Nino established a feastday in his honor. It is celebrated in Georgia on November 10, in remembrance of the sufferings of Saint George. In 1891, near the village of Kakha in the Zakatalsk region of the Caucasus, a new church in place of the old was built in honor of the holy Great Martyr George the Victory-Bearer, and many of the heterodox Bogomils came in droves to it.