Daily Readings for Friday, November 11, 2022



Menas of Egypt, Victor and Stephanie, Martyr Vincent, Theodore the Studite


Brethren, it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness, " who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, "I believed, and so I spoke, " we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

LUKE 13:31-35

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'”

Martyr Menas of Egypt

The Holy Great Martyr Menas (Mēnás), an Egyptian by birth, was a military officer and served in the Kotyaeion region of Phrygia under the centurion Firmilian during the reign of Emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (305-311). He was praised and admired for his bravery in battle, his patience, and his self-discipline.

In 298, the Emperors published an edict ordering everyone to worship the idols. Those serving in the Legions were ordered to capture and persecute Christians. As soon as Saint Menas heard this impious decree he threw down his soldier’s belt (a sign of military rank) and withdrew to a mountain above Kotyaeion, where he lived an ascetical life of fasting and prayer. He spent a long time in the wilderness, suffering great privation and laboring in feats of prayer, fasting, and nocturnal vigils. Thus, the Saint purified himself of every passion of soul and body.

When his heart was strengthened with godly zeal, and his soul aflame with love for God, divine grace came upon him and he had a vision. He regarded this as a sign that he was to follow the path of martyrdom. Therefore, he left the mountain and went into the city, where the people were celebrating a pagan festival.

At that time, Saint Menas was approximately fifty years old. Standing in the midst of the crowd, he shouted: "There is only one true God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Your "gods" are demons, and your idols have been fashioned by craftsmen. These inanimate objects are nothing but metal, wood, and stone."

Those who heard his voice left their dancing and their games and went to see who had disrupted their idolatrous festival, marveling at his boldness. They seized and beat him, then brought him before Pyrrhus, the City Prefect. When he saw Menas he asked him who he was, and why he was creating a disturbance. The Saint replied, "I am an Egyptian, a servant of Jesus Christ, the Ruler of all things. I was a soldier and I served in the Imperial Army for most of my life. But since the Emperor has chosen to follow the path of idolatry, and to persecute Christians, I chose to dwell with the wild animals in the wilderness rather than obey the impious commands of those who do not know God."

When the Prefect heard this he became enraged and had the Saint thrown into prison.

The next morning, Pyrrhus urged Saint Menas to return to the Army, offering to restore his former rank if he would offer sacrifice to the pagan "gods." Menas refused, and so he was subjected to many cruel tortures. The Prefect urged him to submit to the edict and offer sacrifice to the idols, but the Martyr remained firm in his Faith, saying that he would never deny Christ. Pyrrhus ordered further torments, but seeing that he could not persuade Saint Menas, he ordered that he be taken outside the city and beheaded. As he was being led to the place of execution, he asked his friends (who were secret Christians) to take his body back to Egypt for burial when the persecution had ceased. These friends gathered Martyr’s relics at night and hid them until the persecution was over. Later, they were brought to Egypt and placed in a church dedicated to Saint Menas southwest of Alexandria.

Saint Menas received the crown of martyrdom in the year 304. By God's grace he continues to work miracles for those who entreat him with faith and love. He is known for healing various illnesses, delivering people from demonic possession, and is a protector, especially during times of war.

In 1942, General Erwin Rommel had conquered almost all of North Africa, and was heading toward Alexandria. The Nazis had reached El Alamein,1 where they camped for the night, intending to attack Alexandria in the morning. Saint Menas, however, did not allow this to happen. At midnight (October 23-24). certain people noticed Saint Menas coming out of his ancient church leading camels into the German camp. Overcome by panic, weakness, and confusion, Rommel's troops fled. The battle ended on November 4th with the enemy in full retreat. It is regarded as a turning point in the whole war. Later, Winston Churchill said: "Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat."

The Allies offered that place to Patriarch Christophoros of Alexandria so that the church of Saint Menas could be rebuilt.

We pray to Saint Menas to ask for his help in finding lost objects.

1 A corruption of the name of Saint Menas.

Martyr Victor at Damascus

The Holy Martyr Victor at Damascus was a soldier during the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius the Philosopher (161-180). When the emperor began a persecution against Christians, Victor refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Such obligatory sacrifices were a test of a soldier’s loyalty to the gods, the emperor and the state. The saint was given over to torture, but he came through all the torments unharmed. By the power of prayer he was victorious over a sorcerer, who from that point gave up give sorcery and became a Christian.

Through Saint Victor’s prayers, blind soldiers suddenly received their sight. Witnessing the miracle worked by the Lord through Saint Victor, Stephanida, the young Christian wife of one of the torturers, openly glorified Christ, for which she was condemned to a cruel death. She was tied to two palm trees bent to the ground, which when released, sprung back and tore her apart. She was fifteen years old.

The torturer ordered that the holy Martyr Victor be beheaded. Hearing the commander’s order, Saint Victor told his executioners that they would all die in twelve days, and that the commander would be captured by the enemy in twenty-four days. As he foretold, so it came to pass.

The martyrs suffered in the second century at Damascus, where their venerable relics were buried.

Martyr Vincent of Spain

The Holy Martyr Vincent of Spain from his childhood was the disciple of a wise pastor Valerian, the bishop of the city of Augustopolis (now Saragossa, Spain). When he reached mature age, the virtuous, educated and eloquent Vincent was ordained deacon by Bishop Valerian. Since the bishop himself was not adept in speech, he gave a blessing to his deacon, an eloquent orator, to preach in church and among the people.

Diocletian (284-305) sent the governor Dacian to the city of Valencia, Spain with full authority to find and execute Christians. People denounced the wise bishop and his deacon to the governor, who arrested them. The soldiers, mounted on horses, dragged the Elder and his disciple behind them in chains from Augustopolis to Valencia, and there they cast them into prison beaten and tortured, giving them neither food nor water.

They subjected the bishop to the first interrogation. The Elder spoke quietly, but seemed tongue-tied and uncertain. Then Saint Vincent came forward and made the most eloquent speech of his life before the judges and assembled people. After he sent the bishop back to prison, the persecutor gave orders to torture the holy deacon.

The martyr underwent many torments: while nailed to a cross, he was whipped and burned with red-hot rods. When he was removed from the cross, he then himself joyfully climbed back upon it, saying that the executioners were lazy and had not fulfilled their master’s orders. They became angry and tortured him again, until they were all exhausted.

After the tortures they threw the martyr back into prison. That night the astonished guard heard him singing Psalms, and saw an unearthly radiant light in the prison. The next morning the holy martyr was condemned to be burned on a gridiron. Christians took the saint’s body and buried it with reverence. This occurred in the year 304.

Martyr Stephanida of Damascus

Saint Stephanida witnessed the martyrdom at Damascus of the Holy Martyr Victor, a soldier, during the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius the Philosopher (161-180). He was tortured, but he came through all the torments unharmed. By the power of prayer he was victorious over a sorcerer, who from that point gave up give sorcery and became a Christian.

Through Saint Victor’s prayers, blind soldiers suddenly received their sight. Witnessing the miracle worked by the Lord through Saint Victor, Stephanida, the young Christian wife of one of the torturers, openly glorified Christ, for which she was condemned to a cruel death. She was tied to two palm trees bent to the ground, which when released, sprung back and tore her apart. She was fifteen years old.

The martyrs suffered in the second century at Damascus, where their venerable relics were buried.

Venerable Theodore the Confessor, Abbot of the Studion

Saint Theodore the Confessor, Abbot of the Studion was born in the year 758 at Constantinople into a family of the imperial tax-collector Photinus and his spouse Theoctiste, both pious Christians. Saint Theodore received a good education from the best rhetoricians, philosophers and theologians in the capital city.

During this time the Iconoclast heresy had become widespread in the Byzantine Empire, and it was supported also by the impious emperor Constantine Kopronymos (741-775). The views of the emperor and his court conflicted with the religious beliefs of Photinus, who was a fervent adherent of Orthodoxy, and so he left government service. Later, Saint Theodore’s parents, by mutual consent, gave away their substance to the poor, took their leave of each other and accepted monastic tonsure. Their son Theodore soon became widely known in the capital for his participation of the numerous disputes concerning icon-veneration.

Saint Theodore was accomplished in oratory, and had a command of the terminology and logic of the philosophers, so he frequently debated with the heretics. His knowledge of Holy Scripture and Christian dogma was so profound that no one could get the better of him.

The Seventh Ecumenical Council put an end to dissension and brought peace to the Church under the empress Irene. The Ecumenical Council, as the highest authority in the life of the Church, forever condemned and rejected Iconoclasm.

Among the Fathers of the Council was Saint Platon (April 5), an uncle of Saint Theodore, and who for a long time had lived the ascetic life on Mount Olympos. An Elder filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, Saint Platon, at the conclusion of the Council, summoned his nephew Theodore and his brothers Joseph and Euthymius to the monastic life in the wilderness.

After leaving Constantinople, they went to Sakkoudion, not far from Olympos. The solitude and the beauty of the place, and its difficulty of access, met with the approval of the Elder and his nephews, and they decided to remain here. The brothers built a church dedicated to Saint John the Theologian, and gradually the number of monks began to increase. A monastery was formed, and Saint Platon was the igumen.

Saint Theodore’s life was truly ascetic. He toiled at heavy and dirty work. He strictly kept the fasts, and each day he confessed to his spiritual Father, the Elder Platon, revealing to him all his deeds and thoughts, carefully fulfilling all his counsels and instructions.

Theodore made time for daily spiritual reflection, baring his soul to God. Untroubled by any earthly concern, he offered Him mystic worship. Saint Theodore unfailingly read the Holy Scripture and works of the holy Fathers, especially the works of Saint Basil the Great, which were like food for his soul.

After several years of monastic life, Saint Theodore was ordained a priest according to the will of his spiritual Father. When Saint Platon went to his rest, the brethren unanimously chose Saint Theodore as Igumen of the monastery. Unable to oppose the wish of his confessor, Saint Theodore accepted the choice of the brethren, but imposed upon himself still greater deeds of asceticism. He taught the others by the example of his own virtuous life and also by fervent fatherly instruction.

When the emperor transgressed against the Church’s canons, the events of outside life disturbed the tranquility in the monastic cells. Saint Theodore bravely distributed a letter to the other monasteries, in which he declared the emperor Constantine VI (780-797) excommunicated from the Church by his own actions for abusing the divine regulations concerning Christian marriage.

Saint Theodore and ten of his co-ascetics were sent into exile to the city of Thessalonica. But there also the accusing voice of the monk continued to speak out. Upon her return to the throne in 796, Saint Irene freed Saint Theodore and made him igumen of the Studion monastery (dedicated to Saint John the Baptist) in Constantinople, in which there were only twelve monks. The saint soon restored and enlarged the monastery, attracting about 1,000 monks who wished to have him as their spiritual guide.

Saint Theodore composed a Rule of monastic life, called the “Studite Rule” to govern the monastery. Saint Theodore also wrote many letters against the Iconoclasts. For his dogmatic works, and also for his Canons and Three-Ode Canons, Saint Theoctistus called Saint Theodore “a fiery teacher of the Church.”

When Nikēphóros seized the imperial throne, deposing the pious Empress Irene, he also violated Church regulations by restoring to the Church a previously excommunicated priest on his own authority. Saint Theodore again denounced the emperor. After torture, the monk was sent into exile once again, where he spent more than two years.

Saint Theodore was freed by the gentle and pious emperor Michael, who succeeded to the throne upon the death of Nikēphóros and his son Staurikios in a war against barbarians. Their death had been predicted by Saint Theodore for a long while. In order to avert civil war, the emperor Michael abdicated the throne in favor of his military commander Leo the Armenian.

The new emperor proved to be an iconoclast. The hierarchs and teachers of the Church attempted to reason with the impious emperor, but in vain. Leo prohibited the veneration of holy icons and desecrated them. Grieved by such iniquity, Saint Theodore and the brethren made a religious procession around the monastery with icons raised high, singing of the troparion to the icon of the Savior Not-Made-by-Hands (August 16). The emperor angrily threatened the saint with death, but he continued to encourage believers in Orthodoxy. Then the emperor sentenced Saint Theodore and his disciple Nicholas to exile, at first in Illyria at the fortress of Metopa, and later in Anatolia at Bonias. But even from prison the confessor continued his struggle against heresy.

Tormented by the executioners which the emperor sent to Bonias, deprived almost of food and drink, covered over with sores and barely alive, Theodore and Nicholas endured everything with prayer and thanksgiving to God. At Smyrna, where they sent the martyrs from Bonias, Saint Theodore healed a military commander from a terrible illness. The man was a nephew of the emperor and of one mind with him. Saint Theodore told him to repent of his wicked deeds of Iconoclasm, and to embrace Orthodoxy. But the fellow later relapsed into heresy, and then died a horrible death.

Leo the Armenian was murdered by his own soldiers, and was replaced by the equally impious though tolerant emperor Michael II Traulos (the Stammerer). The new emperor freed all the Orthodox Fathers and confessors from prison, but he prohibited icon-veneration in the capital.

Saint Theodore did not want to return to Constantinople and so decided to settle in Bithynia on the promontory of Akrita, near the church of the holy Martyr Tryphon. In spite of serious illness, Saint Theodore celebrated Divine Liturgy daily and instructed the brethren. Foreseeing his end, the saint summoned the brethren and bade them to preserve Orthodoxy, to venerate the holy icons and observe the monastic rule. Then he ordered the brethren to take candles and sing the Canon for the Departure of the Soul From the Body. Just before singing the words “I will never forget Thy statutes, for by them have I lived,” Saint Theodore fell asleep in the Lord, in the year 826. At the same hour Saint Hilarion of Dalmatia (June 6) saw a vision of a heavenly light during the singing and the voice was heard, “This is the soul of Saint Theodore, who suffered even unto blood for the holy icons, which now departs unto the Lord.”

Saint Theodore worked many miracles during his life and after his death. Those invoking his name have been delivered from fires and from the attacks of wild beasts, and have received healing, thanks to God and to Saint Theodore the Studite. On January 26 we celebrate the transfer of the relics of Theodore the Studite from Cherson to Constantinople in the year 845.

Those with stomach ailments entreat the help of Saint Theodore.

Repose of the Blessed Maximus of Moscow

Saint Maximus of Moscow, the Fool for Christ. Nothing is known about his parents, or the time and place of birth. Saint Maximus chose one of the most difficult and thorny paths to salvation, having taken upon himself the guise of a fool for the sake of Christ. Summer and winter Maximus walked about almost naked, enduring both heat and cold. He had a saying, “The winter is fierce, but Paradise is sweet.”

Russia loved its holy fools, it esteemed their deep humility, it heeded their wisdom, expressed in the proverbial sayings of the people’s language. And everyone heeded the holy fools, from the Great Princes down to the least beggar.

Blessed Maximus lived at a difficult time for the Russian people. Tatar incursions, droughts, epidemics were endemic and people perished. The saint said to the unfortunate, “Not everything is by the weave of the wool, some is opposite… They have won the fight, submit, and bow lower. Weep not, you who are beaten; but weep, you who are unbeaten. Let us show tolerance, and in this at least, we shall be human. Gradually, even green wood will burn. God will grant salvation if we bear all with patience.”

But the saint did not only speak words of consolation. His angry denunciations frightened the mighty of his world. Blessed Maximus would often say to the rich and illustrious, “The house has an icon corner, but the conscience is for sale. Everyone makes the Sign of the Cross, not everyone prays. God sees every wrong. He will not deceive you, nor will you deceive Him.”

Blessed Maximus died on November 11, 1434 and is buried at the church of the holy Princes Boris and Gleb. Miraculous healings began occurring from the relics of God’s saint. In an encyclical of 1547, Metropolitan Macarius enjoined “the singing and celebration at Moscow for the new Wonderworker Maximus, Fool-for-Christ.” That same year on August 13 the incorrupt relics of Blessed Maximus were uncovered. The church of Saints Boris and Gleb, where the saint was buried, burned in the year 1568. On the site a new church was built, which they consecrated in the name of Saint Maximus, Fool-for-Christ. The venerable relics of Saint Maximus were placed in this church.

Venerable Martyrius, Abbot of Zelenets, Pskov

Saint Martyrius was a monk in the Veliki Luki (Great Meadows) Monastery, and shared a cell with Elder Bogolep. These holy ascetics ate only once a day. After the services in church, they would fulfill the rule of prayer in their cell, then they would work during the night milling corn.

Later, Saint Martyrius went to live at Zelenets (Green Island), and founded a monastery in the midst of the swamps. By 1582, he was already the igumen of the monastery, which had twelve monks. Several benefactors donated to the monastery, including Theodore Syrkov, Simeon Bekbulatov (the ruler of Kasim), and Tsar Theodore, who donated land.

Saint Martyrius fell asleep in the Lord in 1603. He is also commemorated on March 1.

Repose of Saint Stephen of Dečani, Serbia

Saint Stephen was the son of King Milutin and the father of King Dushan. He was blinded on the orders of his father. Saint Nicholas (December 6) appeared to him in the church of Ovche Polje (Sheep Pasture) and said, “Do not be afraid. Your eyes have been given to me, and I shall return them to you at the appropriate time.”

Saint Stephen lived in Constantinople for five years at the Monastery of the Pantocrator. He surpassed not only the monks, but also all the inhabitants of Constantinople, in his spiritual struggles, patience, and meekness. At the end of the five years, Saint Nicholas appeared to him again. Making the Sign of the Cross over his eyes, he restored Stephen’s sight. In gratitude for this miracle, Stephen built the Dečani Monastery in Serbia.

In his old age, Saint Stephen was drowned by his son, receiving the crown of martyrdom in 1336.

Saint Martin the Merciful, Bishop of Tours

Saint Martin the Merciful, Bishop of Tours, was born at Sabaria in Pannonia (modern Hungary) in 316. Since his father was a Roman officer, he also was obliged to serve in the army. Martin did so unwillingly, for he considered himself a soldier of Christ, though he was still a catechumen.

At the gates of Amiens, he saw a beggar shivering in the severe winter cold, so he cut his cloak in two and gave half to the beggar. That night, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to the saint wearing Martin’s cloak. He heard the Savior say to the angels surrounding Him, “Martin is only a catechumen, but he has clothed Me with this garment.” The saint was baptized soon after this, and reluctantly remained in the army.

Two years later, the barbarians invaded Gaul and Martin asked permission to resign his commission for religious reasons. The commander charged him with cowardice. Saint Martin demonstrated his courage by offering to stand unarmed in the front line of battle, trusting in the power of the Cross to protect him. The next day, the barbarians surrendered without a fight, and Martin was allowed to leave the army.

He traveled to various places during the next few years, spending some time as a hermit on an island off Italy. He became friendly with Saint Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers (January 14), who made Martin an exorcist. After several years of the ascetic life, Saint Martin was chosen to be Bishop of Tours in 371. As bishop, Saint Martin did not give up his monastic life, and the place where he settled outside Tours became a monastery. In fact, he is regarded as the founder of monasticism in France. He conversed with angels, and had visions of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29) and of other saints. He is called the Merciful because of his generosity and care for the poor, and he received the grace to work miracles.

After a life of devoted service to Christ and His Church, the saint fell ill at Candes, a village in his diocese, where he died on November 8, 397. He was buried three days later (his present Feast) at Tours. During the Middle Ages, many Western churches were dedicated to Saint Martin, including Saint Martin’s in Canterbury, and Saint Martin-in-the-Fields in London.

In 1008, a cathedral was built at Tours over the relics of Saint Martin. This cathedral was destroyed in 1793 during the French Revolution, together with the relics of Saint Martin and Saint Gregory of Tours (November 17). A new cathedral was built on the site many years later. Some fragments of the relics of Saint Martin were recovered and placed in the cathedral, but nothing remains of Saint Gregory’s relics.

Saint Martin’s name appears on many Greek and Russian calendars. His commemoration on October 12 in the Russian calendar appears to be an error, since ancient sources give the November date.