17TH TUESDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Xenia, Deaconess of Rome, Vavylas the Holy Martyr, Xenia of St. Petersburg, Fool-for-Christ, Philo the Wonderworker, Bishop of Karpasia in Cyprus
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS 5:22-26; 6:1-2
Brethren, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
At that time, a lawyer came up to Jesus and asked him a question, to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, "What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "The son of David." He said to them, "How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, 'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I put your enemies under your feet'? If David thus calls him Lord, how is he his son?" And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
Saint Xenia of Rome, in the world Eusebia, was the only daughter of an eminent Roman senator. From her youth she loved God, and wished to avoid the marriage arranged for her. She secretly left her parental home with two servants devoted to her, and set sail upon a ship. Through the Providence of God she met the head of the monastery of the holy Apostle Andrew in Milassa, a town of Caria (Asia Minor). She besought him to take her and her companions to Milassa. She also changed her name, calling herself Xenia [which means “stranger” or “foreigner” in Greek].
At Milassa she bought land, built a church dedicated to Saint Stephen, and founded a woman’s monastery. Soon after this, Bishop Paul of Milassa made Xenia a deaconess, because of her virtuous life. The saint helped everyone: for the destitute, she was a benefactress; for the grief-stricken, a comforter; for sinners, a guide to repentance. She possessed a deep humility, accounting herself the worst and most sinful of all.
In her ascetic deeds she was guided by the counsels of the Palestinian ascetic, Saint Euthymius. The sublime life of Saint Xenia drew many souls to Christ. The holy virgin died in 450 while she was praying. During her funeral, a luminous wreath of stars surrounding a radiant cross appeared over the monastery in the heavens. This sign accompanied the body of the saint when it was carried into the city, and remained until the saint’s burial. Many of the sick received healing after touching the relics of the saint.
Following the death of Saint Xenia, first one of her former servants died, then the other. They were buried at the saint’s feet.
Saint Gerasimus, Bishop of Great Perm and Ust’Vymsk, was the third bishop of the newly-enlightened Zyryani people, and he was a worthy successor to Saint Stephen, the Enlightener of Perm (April 26). He was elevated to the See of Perm sometime after 1416, and participated in many Church councils: one in 1438 to condemn the Unia and Metropolitan Isidore, and one in 1441, which defined the selection of the Metropolitan of All Rus by a Council of Russian pastors.
The saint assiduously cared for his newly-established flock, which suffered raids from Novgorodians, particularly from the pagan Vogulians. He went to their camps urging them to cease the pillaging of villages of the defenseless Christians of Perm. He was murdered by a Vogulian servant during one of his journeys through Perm in 1441 (according to Tradition, he was strangled with his omophorion). He was buried in the cathedral church of the first bishops of Perm, which later became the Annunciation church in the village of Ust’Vyma, northeast of the city of Yarenga, at the River Vychegda.
The celebration of his memory was established in 1607. On January 29 there is a general commemoration of the three Perm Hierarchs: Gerasimus, Pitirim, and Jonah.
The Martyr John of Kazan suffered for Christ in the city of Kazan on January 24, 1529. During the reign of Great Prince Basil the Tatars swooped down upon Nizhni Novgorod. Many of the inhabitants were taken into captivity and brought to Kazan. Also among their number was the fearless John.
When the captives were distributed to their new owners, he was given to Alei-Shnura, who was related to the Khan. By day John honestly served his master, but at night he went without sleep and prayed, patiently enduring insults and abuse. The master resolved to force his servant to become a Moslem, but John firmly declared that he worshiped Jesus Christ as God.
In the winter the Tatars tied him up and led him to a Russian cemetery, mortally wounded him with swords, and threw him into the snow. That night, Saint John reached the door of some Russians living in Kazan, and he asked them to summon a priest. He received the Holy Mysteries and prayed all night, then died the following morning.
The Holy Martyrs Babylas of Sicily and his two disciples Timothy and Agapius lived during the third century on the outskirts of Rome. Saint Babylas was born in the city of Reupolium into a rich family, and he was raised by his parents in the Christian Faith.
While still in his youth he abandoned the world, secretly going from the house of his parents to a mountain, where he spent all his time in fasting, prayer and silence. His two disciples, Timothy and Agapius, labored with him. Fleeing a persecution by the pagans, he went with his disciples to the island of Sicily, where they converted many unbelievers to Christ.
The governor of the island, angered by the missionary activity of Saint Babylas, ordered that he and his disciples be arrested, and he also had them tortured. The saints patiently endured their sufferings, and all three died by the sword. Their bodies were thrown into a fire, but the flames did not harm the warriors of Christ. They were buried on the island of Sicily by local Christians.
Saint Macedonius, a Syrian hermit, lived during the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth. When he first embarked upon the path of asceticism, he led the life of a wanderer, roaming through the cities of Phoenicia, Cilicia, and Syria. Afterward, he spent forty-five years in the wilderness, in a deep pit, living under the open sky with no roof over his head, shunning human glory. Thus, he was called "Gouvas," which means "pit" in Syrian.
Crowds of people visited him, seeking spiritual help and guidance. Only in his old age did he accede to the requests of those who begged him to live in a narrow cell they built for him. Throughout his life Saint Macedonius ate just barley and water. Therefore, he was called “Krithophagos" (Κριθοφάγος), or "Barley-Eater." Only as he felt his strength fading did he agree to eat baked bread.
Because of his ascetical life, God granted him the power to cast out demons, and to heal the sick. He also healed the mother of the historian Theodoret of Cyrrhus (a small town near Antioch), who had been barren for a long time before she conceived. During labor, however, something went wrong, and she feared that she would lose the child. The Saint traced the Sign of the Cross in a vessel of water with his fingers, and told her to drink it. The child was born without any further difficulty.
Saint Macedonius performed many other miracles. He lived to an advanced age and reposed in peace around the year 420, after reaching his seventieth year.
The uncovering of the relics of Saint Anastasios of Persia (January 22) took place in 638, ten years after his martyrdom. There are three traditions regarding his relics.
According to the first, which is also accepted by the English historian Saint Bede (May 27), the relics were transferred to Rome during the reign of Emperor Flavius Heraclius Augustus (reigned 610-645) and deposited in the Greek Monastery of the Three Fountains (“Tre Fontane”).
The second tradition states that the transfer of the relics to Constantinople, also during the reign of Heraclius, took place during the time of Pope Theodore I, who may have been from Jerusalem, and of Greek descent (see May 18).
The third tradition indicates that the relics were transferred to Venice from Constantinople in 1204 when the Doge Henry Dandolos removed them and placed them in the church of the Holy Trinity in Venice.
Today the Saint’s holy relics are in the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Francis in Venice. They survive in the form of a headless body, clothed in the garments of his time.
Metropolitan Sophronios Eustratiadis of Leontopolis declares that a Roman bishop transported the relics to Caesarea in Palestine, and later they were moved to Constantinople. His head is in Rome, where it is still kept.
Saint Dionysius of Olympus was born into a family of poor parents in the village of Platina. When he was an infant, the Cross shone over his crib. Fond of prayer and reading spiritual books from his youth, Saint Dionysius decided to become a monk after the death of his parents. With this aim he went to Meteora, and then to Mount Athos. There he lived with a pious Elder, the priest Seraphim, and under his guidance he began to lead an ascetic life, keeping a strict fast. During Passion Week he went into the forest, and ate only chestnuts. Soon he was ordained deacon, and then priest.
The exalted life of Saint Dionysius became known, and many monks came to hear his edifying words. He also guided many lawless people onto the path of salvation, among whom was a robber who intended to rob the saint’s cell, but was moved to repentance by the Elder’s kind and wise words.
The brethren of the Philotheou monastery lost their igumen and asked Saint Dionysius to be their head. However, he did not receive enough votes, and dissensions arose. Valuing peace and love most of all, Saint Dionysius withdrew and went to Verria. Later, he fled to Mount Olympus in order to avoid being consecrated as a bishop.
Here those zealous for monasticism began to flock to him. Dionysius built cells for them and also a church and they spent their time in fasting and prayer. Having attained the spiritual heights, he worked many miracles. Often, through the prayers of the saint, the Lord punished iniquitous people who oppressed the monks of Olympus or broke the commandments of Christ. The holdings of a Turk who had expelled the monks and wrecked their monastery were destroyed by severe drought and by hail. The cattle of a herdsman who had oppressed the monastery were stricken with disease and sickness; because of her impudence, a maiden from one of the villages was subjected to an assault of the devil. They all received healing and deliverance from misfortune through the prayers of Saint Dionysius, after being led to penitence by his lack of malice.
The saint compiled a Rule for monastic life, and was an example of monastic activity. He built a church on Olympus, and also a monastery dedicated to the Prophet Elias. He left the brethren his final testament about the monastic life based on the Rule of the Holy Mountain.
Saint Dionysius died in the sixteenth century at an advanced age, and was buried on Olympus, in the church portico of the monastery he founded.
Saint Philotheus, the founder of the Philotheou Monastery on Mount Athos, lived toward the end of the tenth century.
Saint Xenia lived during the eighteenth century, but little is known of her life or of her family. She passed most of her life in Petersburg during the reigns of the empresses Elizabeth and Catherine II.
Xenia Grigorievna Petrova was the wife of an army officer, Major Andrew Petrov. After the wedding, the couple lived in Saint Petersburg. Saint Xenia became a widow at the age of twenty-six when her husband suddenly died at a party. She grieved for the loss of her husband, and especially because he died without Confession or Holy Communion.
Once her earthly happiness ended, she did not look for it again. From that time forward, Xenia lost interest in the things of this world, and followed the difficult path of foolishness for the sake of Christ. The basis for this strange way of life is to be found in the first Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:18-24, 1 Cor. 2:14, 1 Cor. 3:18-19). The Lord strengthened her and helped her to bear sorrow and misfortune patiently for the next forty-five years.
She started wearing her husband’s clothing, and insisted that she be addressed as “Andrew Feodorovich.” She told people that it was she, and not her husband, who had died. In a certain sense, this was perfectly true. She abandoned her former way of life and experienced a spiritual rebirth. When she gave away her house and possessions to the poor, her relatives complained to the authorities. After speaking to Xenia, the officials were conviced that she was in her right mind and was entitled to dispose of her property as she saw fit. Soon she had nothing left for herself, so she wandered through the poor section of Petersburg with no place to lay her head. She refused all assistance from her relatives, happy to be free of worldly attachments.
When her late husband’s red and green uniform wore out, she clothed herself in rags of those colors. After a while, Xenia left Petersburg for eight years. It is believed that she visited holy Elders and ascetics throughout Russia seeking instruction in the spiritual life. She may have visited Saint Theodore of Sanaxar (February 19), who had been a military man himself. His life changed dramatically when a young officer died at a drinking party. Perhaps this officer was Saint Xenia’s husband. In any case, she knew Saint Theodore and profited from his instructions.
Saint Xenia eventually returned to the poor section of Petersburg, where she was mocked and insulted because of her strange behavior. When she did accept money from people it was only small amounts, which she used to help the poor. She spent her nights praying without sleep in a field outside the city. Prayer strengthened her, and in her heart’s conversation with the Lord she found the support she needed on her difficult path.
When a new church was being built in the Smolensk cemetery, Saint Xenia brought bricks to the site. She did this in secret, during the night, so that no one would know.
Soon her great virtue and spiritual gifts began to be noticed. She prophesied future events affecting the citizens of Petersburg, and even the royal family. Against her will, she became known as someone pleasing to God, and nearly everyone loved her.They said, “Xenia does not belong to this world, she belongs to God.” People regarded her visits to their homes or shops as a great blessing. Saint Xenia loved children, and mothers rejoiced when the childless widow would stand and pray over a baby’s crib, or kiss a child. They believed that the blessed one’s kiss would bring that child good fortune.
Saint Xenia lived about forty-five years after the death of her husband, and departed to the Lord at the age of seventy-one. The exact date and circumstances of her death are not known, but it probably took place at the end of the eighteenth century. She was buried in the Smolensk cemetery.
By the 1820s, people flocked to her grave to pray for her soul, and to ask her to intercede with God for them. So many visitors took earth from her grave that it had to be replaced every year. Later, a chapel was built over her grave.
Those who turn to Saint Xenia in prayer receive healing from illness, and deliverance from their afflictions. She is also known for helping people who seek jobs.
The Holy Martyrs and brothers according to the flesh Pausirius, Paul, and Theodotion lived in Egypt during the third century. Pausirius and Paul confessed their faith in Christ and suffered martyrdom under Diocletian (284-305). Theodotion converted to Christianity after witnessing their martyrdom. He also endured many torments before being put to death.
Saint Philon, Bishop of Kolpasteia (Crete) He died peacefully in the fifth century. He wrote a commentary on the Pentateuch, and on the Song of Songs.
The Hieromartyr Philippicus the Presbyter and the Martyr Barsimos and two brothers were beheaded for their confession of faith in Christ.
No information available at this time.