SATURDAY OF THE 10TH WEEK
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, DAIRY, EGGS
Alypius the Stylite of Adrianopolis, Nikon Metanoeite, Stylianos the Monk of Paphlagonia, Akakios of Sinai who is mentioned in The Ladder, George the New Martyr of Chios, Innocent of Irkutsk
ST. PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 11:1-6
Brethren, I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if some one comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough. I think that I am not in the least inferior to these superlative apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not in knowledge; in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
The Lord said to his disciples, "Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
The Righteous Gideon, whose name means “destroyer,” appears in chapters 6-8 of Judges. He was the son of Joash the Abiezrite. One day, as he was beating out wheat in the wine press, the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and commanded him to deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Gideon gathered an army of men from various towns to fight the Midianites, then asked God to give him a sign that he would be able to deliver Israel. First, he placed a fleece of wool on the floor of the threshing room. Then he said, “If there is dew on the fleece alone, and if the ground is dry, then I shall know that thou wilt deliver Israel by my hand, as thou hast said.”
The next morning Gideon got up early and squeezed the fleece, wringing out enough water to fill a bowl. Then he asked God to let the fleece remain dry and to let there be dew on the ground. When Gideon saw that this had been done, the powerful warrior of Manasseh led an army of 300 men to victory over the Midianites.
The people entreated him to be their ruler, and also his son and grandson, but he would not agree to this, because the Lord was their ruler. However, Gideon was a Judge for forty years, and during that time the land had rest.
The Righteous Gideon is referenced in Ode 9 of the second Canon for the Feast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos: “Let us all magnify the radiant cloud, in which the Master of all descended, as dew from Heaven upon the fleece” (Judges 6:37). He is also mentioned in Hebrews 11:32 with others “who through faith conquered kingdoms.”
Saint Alypius the Stylite was born in the city of Adrianopolis in Paphlagonia. His mother, a Christian, was widowed early, and she sent her son to be educated by Bishop Theodore. She distributed her substance to the poor, then began to live an ascetic life near the church as a deaconess.
Saint Alypius, from his early years, wanted to devote his life to God and yearned for the solitary life, although Bishop Theodore would not give him permission to do so. Once, when Saint Alypius was accompanying his bishop to Constantinople, the holy Martyr Euphemia (September 16) appeared to him in a vision, summoning Saint Alypius to return to Adrianopolis and found a church in her name.
With contributions offered by believers in Adrianopolis, Saint Alypius did build a church in the name of the holy Martyr Euphemia, on the site of a dilapidated pagan temple infested by legions of devils. Beside the church, under the open sky, the saint erected a pillar over a pagan tomb. For fifty-three years Saint Alypius struggled upon the pillar, praying to God and teaching those who came to him.
The demons which infested the pagan cemetery fell upon the ascetic by night and pelted him with stones. Saint Alypius, wanted nothing to stand in the way of the attacks of the spirits of darkness, then even took down the boards that served him as a roof, protecting him from the rain and wind. In the face of the saint’s conquering steadfastness, the demons forever fled the place, which had been sanctified by his deed of voluntary martyrdom.
Fourteen years before his death, Saint Alypius was no longer able to stand. He was compelled to lie on his side because of the weakness of his legs, and endured grievous sufferings with humble gratitude. Around the saint’s pillar two monasteries sprang up: a men’s monastery on the one side, and a women’s monastery on the other. Saint Alypius introduced strict monastic rules for both monasteries and he directed both monasteries until his death. Saint Alypius reposed in the year 640, at age 118. The body of the venerable stylite was buried in the church he founded in honor of the holy Martyr Euphemia. The relics of the saint of God healed many of those who came in faith.
The Consecration of the Church of the Great Martyr George at Kiev: Beginning with the holy Prince Vladimir (July 15), it was the pious custom of Russian princes to build a church in honor of their patron saint. Thus, Saint Vladimir (in Baptism Basil) built at Kiev and Vyshgorod temples dedicated to Saint Basil the Great (January 1).
Prince Izyaslav I (1054-1068) (in Baptism Demetrius) built a church and monastery at Kiev in the name of the Holy Great Martyr Demetrius (October 26). Prince Yaroslav the Wise (in Baptism George) started to build a church and men’s monastery in honor of his patron saint, the Holy Great Martyr George (April 23). He also built a church named for his wife’s patron saint, the Holy Great Martyr Irene (May 5). The temple in honor of the Great Martyr George was consecrated by Saint Hilarion, Metropolitan of Kiev (October 21), and a yearly commemoration was established in honor of this event.
Saint Innocent, Bishop of Irkutsk, (in the world John) was descended from the noble Kulchitsky family. His parents moved from Volhynia to the Chernigov region in the mid-seventeenth century. The saint was born in about the year 1680, and educated at the Kiev Spiritual Academy. He accepted monastic tonsure in 1710 and was appointed an instructor at the Moscow Slavonic-Greek-Latin Academy as prefect and professor of theology.
In 1719 Saint Innocent transferred to the Saint Peterburg Alexander Nevsky Lavra, and was appointed chief naval chaplain. In 1720 he served as vice-regent of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra.
On February 14, 1721, hieromonk Innocent was consecrated as Bishop of Pereyaslavl and appointed to the Peking Spiritual Mission in China. But the Chinese government refused to allow him to enter the country, because the Senate Commission on External Affairs had indiscretely characterized him as “a spiritual personage, a great lord.” The saint was compelled to spend three years at Selingin on the Chinese border, suffering much deprivation because of the uncertainty of his position, and grief from the disarray of the civil government in Siberia. Diplomatic blunders of the Russian Mission in China by Graf Raguzinsky, and intrigues by the Irkutsk archimandrite Anthony Platkovsky led to the appointment of Archimandrite Anthony in China. By decree of the Most Holy Synod Saint Innocent was named in 1727 to be Bishop of Irkutsk and Nerchinsk. And so he entered into the governance of the newly-formed dioceses.
The proximity of the Chinese border, the expanse and sparsely-settled dioceses, the great number of diverse nationalities (Buryat, Mongol, and others), mostly unenlightened by the Christian Faith, the lack of roads and the poverty—all this made Saint Innocent’s pastoral work burdensome and his life full of deprivations. Through a strange oversight of the Senate, he did not receive any money until the time of his death, and he endured extreme want. In these difficult conditions of scant funds, the Irkutsk Ascension monastery still maintained two schools opened under him, one Mongol and the other Russian. The constant concern of the saint was directed towards the schools: the selection of worthy teachers, and providing the necessary books, clothing and other provisions for students.
The saint toiled tirelessly at organizing the diocese, and strengthening its spiritual life. His many sermons, pastoral letters and directives bear witness to this. In his work and deprivations Saint Innocent found spiritual strength, humility, and insight.
In the spring of 1728, the Baikal region began to suffer a drought. Famine from a poor grain harvest had threatened the diocese already back in 1727. With the blessing of the holy hierarch, in May within the churches of Irkutsk and the Irkutsk region they began to include a Molieben for an end to the drought at each Liturgy. On Saturdays they sang an Akathist to the Mother of God, and on Sundays they served a Molieben. “The supplications,” said the saint, “should end on the Feast of Saint Elias” (July 20). Indeed, on that very day a storm raged at Irkutsk with such strong rains, that in the streets of the city water stood up to people’s knees, and thus the drought ended.
Through the efforts of Saint Innocent, construction was started on a stone church to replace the wooden one at the Ascension monastery, and the boundaries of the diocese were expanded to include not only Selingin, but also the Yakutsk and Ilimsk surroundings.
The saint, not noted for robust health, and under the influence of the severe climate and his afflictions, departed to the Lord at a rather young age (51). He reposed on the morning of November 27, 1731.
In the year 1764, the body of the saint was discovered incorrupt during restoration work on the monastery’s Tikhvin church. Many miracles occurred not only at Irkutsk, but also in remote places of Siberia, for those who flocked to the saint with prayer. This moved the Most Holy Synod to uncover the relics and to glorify the saint in the year 1800.
In the year 1804, a feastday was established to celebrate his memory throughout all Russia on November 26, since the Sign Icon of the Mother of God is commemorated on the actual day of his repose (November 27). Saint Innocent is also remembered on February 9.
In 1921, the relics of Saint Innocent were taken from their shrine and placed in a Soviet anti-religious museum. They were moved to another museum in Yaroslav in 1939, and were exhibited as “mummified remains of an unknown man.” In 1990, they were brought to the newly-reopened Tolga Monastery in the Yaroslav diocese. In September of 1990, the holy relics arrived in Irkutsk and were placed in the cathedral, to the joy of all the faithful.
Saint James the Solitary (Hermit) was the disciple of Saint Maron (February 14). He lived in asceticism on a mountain not far from the city of Cyrrhus in Syria. He suffered grievous ills, but he always wore chains, ate food only in the evening, and prayed constantly. By such efforts he attained to high spiritual perfection, receiving from the Lord power over demons, the gift of healing and even of raising the dead. Saint James peacefully fell asleep in the Lord.
Saint Stylianus was born in Paphlagonia of Asia Minor sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries. He inherited a great fortune from his parents when they died, but he did not keep it. He gave it away to the poor according to their need, desiring to help those who were less fortunate.
Stylianus left the city and went to a monastery, where he devoted his life to God. Since he was more zealous and devout than the other monks, he provoked their jealousy and had to leave. He left the monastery to live alone in a cave in the wilderness, where he spent his time in prayer and fasting.
The goodness and piety of the saint soon became evident to the inhabitants of Paphlagonia, and they sought him out to hear his teaching, or to be cured by him. Many were healed of physical and mental illnesses by his prayers.
Saint Stylianus was known for his love of children, and he would heal them of their infirmities. Even after his death, the citizens of Paphlagonia believed that he could cure their children. Whenever a child became sick, an icon of Saint Stylianus was painted and was hung over the child’s bed.
At the hour of his death, the face of Saint Stylianus suddenly became radiant, and an angel appeared to receive his soul.
Known as a protector of children, Saint Stylianus is depicted in iconography holding an infant in his arms. Pious Christians ask him to help and protect their children, and childless women entreat his intercession so that they might have children.
Saint Nikon Metanoeite (“the Preacher of Repentance”) was born at Pontus Polemoniacus at the beginning of the tenth century. He was the son of a wealthy landowner, and he was given the name Nicetas in Baptism.
Since he had no desire to take over the management of his family’s wealth and estates, Nicetas entered the monastery of Chrysopetro, where he shone forth in prayer and asceticism. When he received the monastic tonsure, he was given the new name Nikon. The new name symbolizes a new life in the Spirit (Romans 7:6), and the birth of the new man (Ephesians 4:24). A monk is expected to stop associating himself with the old personality connected to his former life in the world, and to devote himself entirely to God.
Saint Nikon had a remarkable gift for preaching. When he spoke of virtue and spiritual matters, his listeners were filled with heartfelt compunction and love for God. His words produced such spiritual fruit in those who heard him that he was asked to travel through the eastern regions to preach. He visited Armenia, Crete, Euboea, Aegina, and the Peloponnesus, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ.
“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” This was the message of Saint John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2), and of Christ Himself (Matthew 4:17). This was also the message of Saint Nikon. Wherever he went, he would begin his sermons with “Repent,” hence he was called “Nikon Metanoeite,” or “Nikon, the Preacher of Repentance.”
At first, people paid little heed to his message. Then gradually he won their hearts through his preaching, his miracles, and his gentle, loving nature. He stressed the necessity for everyone to repent, warning that those who utter a few sighs and groans and think that they have achieved true repentance have deluded themselves. Saint Nikon told the people that true sorrow for one’s sins is cultivated by prayer, self-denial, almsgiving, ascetical efforts, and by confession to one’s spiritual Father.
After sowing the seeds of piety, Saint Nikon began to see them bear fruit. People started to change their lives, but he urged them to strengthen their souls in virtue and good works so that they would not be overwhelmed by the cares of this world.
Eventually, Saint Nikon settled in a cave outside Sparta. Soon he moved into the city, because so many people were coming to hear him. In the center of Sparta, he built a church dedicated to Christ the Savior. In time a monastery grew up around the church.
Saint Nikon never ceased to preach the Word of God, and to lead people back to the spiritual life of the Church. He also healed the sick, and performed many other miracles.
Saint Nikon fell asleep in the Lord in 998, and his memory was honored by the people around Sparta. During the Turkish occupation of Greece, however, he was all but forgotten, except in Sparta. After the Greek Revolution in 1821, a service to Saint Nikon was composed by Father Daniel Georgopoulos, and was based on the saint’s Life, which had been written by Igumen Gregory of Saint Nikon’s Monastery in 1142.
Saint Nikon was recognized as the patron saint of the diocese of Monemvasia and Lakedaimonia in 1893 when the cathedral church in Sparta was dedicated to Saint Nikon, the Preacher of Repentance.
Saints Athanasios (nicknamed "the Iron Staff") and Theodosios, were disciples of Saint Sergius of Radonezh, and they settled in the Novgorod region, on the border of Cherepovets, at the confluence of the Yagorba River and the Sheksna. There, in the dense, impenetrable forests, they built a church in honor of the Holy Trinity, and a monastery was also established. Nothing is known for certain about Saint Theodosios, and almost no information has been preserved about Saint Athanasios, because during the Time of Troubles the Monastery was razed almost to the ground, and the written records were destroyed. We do know that the Monastery church built by Saints Athanasios and Theodosios, was dedicated to the Holy Trinity, as well as to Saints Sergius and Nikon of Radonezh. On the basis of this information, it is thought that both Saint Athanasios and Saint Theodosios were tonsured at Trinity-Sergius Monastery, for the ancient hermits used to build monasteries on the model of those in which they became monks.
There is written testimony about these Saints in an inscription in a loose-leaf book from 1568 which reads: "This is the book of the Monastery of the Resurrection of Christ and the Life-giving Trinity, and of our Venerable Fathers Theodosios and Athanasios."
In the the chronicle of the Saints it says: "Venerable Athanasios, called 'Iron Staff,' the disciple of Saint Sergius the Wonderworker; who reposed in the year 1392." The Stroganov Manual of Iconography describes the Saint's appearance: "Venerable Athanasios… a grey beard, narrower and shorter than Blaise's."
Shortly before the arrival of the monks in that region, a chapel was built through the efforts of a merchant. This man decided to build a chapel after a miracle occurred. One day he was transporting goods in a boat, when suddenly in the middle of the day, it grew dark, and the boat ran aground. The frightened merchant began to pray, and soon the darkness lifted, and a nearby mountain was illumined with a bright light. The man climbed the mountain and was so amazed at the beautiful view that he returned to the area and built a chapel the following year.
Very little information about these Saints has come down to us. We know that Saint Athanasios carried an iron staff, and Saint Theodosios may have been the merchant who built the chapel.
In 1764, the Resurrection Monastery was abolished, and its church became a parish church. Since 1780 it has been called the Resurrection Cathedral of the city of Cherepovets. Hidden under this church, the relics of Saint Athanasios and Saint Theodosios now rest. The Cherepovets Resurrection Cathedral also has icons of Saints Athanasios and Theodosios.
The Saints reposed in the year 1388, and were buried in the Monastery’s cathedral church. They are also commemorated on July 5 and September 25.