Monthly Archives: February 2023

Daily Readings for Thursday, February 23, 2023



Polycarp the Holy Martyr & Bishop of Smyrna, Proterios, Archbishop of Alexandria, Gorgonia the Righteous, sister of Gregory the Theologian, Damian the New Martyr of Mount Athos, Boswell, Abbot of Melrose Abbey


Beloved, woe to the ungodly, for they walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error, and perish in Korah's rebellion. These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they boldly carouse together, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, carried along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars for whom the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved for ever.
It was of these also that Enoch in the seventh generation from Adam prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness which they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own passions, loud-mouthed boasters, flattering people to gain advantage.
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; they said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions." It is these who set up divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And convince some, who doubt; save some, by snatching them out of the fire; on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.

LUKE 23:1-31, 33, 44-56

At that time, the chief priests, the scribes, and elders of the people brought Jesus before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, "We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king." And Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" And he answered him, "You have said so." And Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, "I find no crime in this man." But they were urgent, saying, "He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.
When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length; but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then, arraying him in gorgeous apparel, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.
Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him; neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Behold, nothing deserving death has been done by him; I will therefore chastise him and release him." Now he was obliged to release one man to them at the festival.
But they all cried out together, "Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas" — a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city, and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; but they shouted out, "Crucify, crucify him!" A third time he said to them, "Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him." But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, whom they asked for; but Jesus he delivered up to their will.
And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!' Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us'; and to the hills, 'Cover us.' For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?
And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left.
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, and said, "Certainly this man was innocent!" And all the multitudes who assembled to see the sight, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance and saw these things.
Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their purpose and deed, and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud, and laid him in a rock hewn tomb, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and saw the tomb, and how his body was laid; then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.
On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Hieromartyr Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna

Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who was “fruitful in every good work” (Col. 1:10), was born in the first century, and lived in Smyrna in Asia Minor. He was orphaned at an early age, but at the direction of an angel, he was raised by the pious widow Kallista. After the death of his adoptive mother, Polycarp gave away his possessions and began to lead a chaste life, caring for the sick and the infirm. He was very fond of and close to Saint Bucolus, Bishop of Smyrna (February 6). He ordained Polycarp as deacon, entrusting to him to preach the Word of God in church. He also ordained him to the holy priesthood.

The holy Apostle John the Theologian was still alive at this time. Saint Polycarp was especially close to Saint John, and sometimes accompanied him on his apostolic journeys.

Shortly before his death, Saint Bucolus expressed his wish that Polycarp be made Bishop of Smyrna. When Saint Polycarp was consecrated as a bishop, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him. Saint Polycarp guided his flock with apostolic zeal, and he was also greatly loved by the clergy. Saint Ignatius the God-Bearer of Antioch (December 20) also had a high regard for him. Setting out for Rome where execution awaited him, he wrote to Saint Polycarp, “This age is in need of you if it is to reach God, just as pilots need winds, and as a storm-tossed sailor needs a port.”

The emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180) came to the Roman throne and started up a most fierce persecution against Christians. The pagans demanded that the judge search for Saint Polycarp, “the father of all the Christians” and “the seducer of all Asia.”

During this time Saint Polycarp, at the persistent urging of his flock, stayed in a small village not far from Smyrna. When the soldiers came for him, he went out to them and invited them in to eat. He asked for time to pray, in order to prepare himself for martyrdom. His suffering and death are recorded in the “Epistle of the Christians of the Church of Smyrna to the Other Churches,” one of the most ancient memorials of Christian literature.

Having been brought to trial, Saint Polycarp firmly confessed his faith in Christ, and was condemned to be burned alive. The executioners wanted to nail him to a post, but he declared that God would give him the strength to endure the flames, so they could merely tie him with ropes. The flames encircled the saint but did not touch him, coming together over his head in the shape of a vault. Seeing that the fire did him no harm, the pagans stabbed him with a dagger. So much blood flowed from this wound that it extinguished the flames. The body of the hieromartyr Polycarp was then cremated. The Christians of Smyrna reverently gathered up what remained of his holy relics, and each year they celebrated the day of his martyrdom.

A story has been preserved about Saint Polycarp by his disciple, Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, which Eusebius cites in his ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY (V, 20):

“I was still very young when I saw you in Asia Minor at Polycarp’s,” writes Saint Irenaeus to his friend Florinus, “but I would still be able to point out the place where Blessed Polycarp sat and conversed, and be able to depict his walk, his mannerisms in life, his outward appearance, his speaking to people, his companionable wandering with John, and how he himself related, together with other eyewitnesses of the Lord, those things that he remembered from the words of others. He also told what he heard from them about the Lord, His teachings and miracles….

“Through the mercy of God to me, I then already listened attentively to Polycarp and wrote down his words, not on tablets, but in the depths of my heart. Therefore, I am able to bear witness before God, that if this blessed and apostolic Elder heard something similar to your fallacy, he would immediately stop up his ears and express his indignation with his usual phrase: ‘Good God! That Thou hast permitted me to be alive at such a time!’”

During his life the holy bishop wrote several Epistles to the flock and letters to various individuals. The only one that has survived to the present day is his Epistle to the Philippians which, Saint Jerome testifies, was read in the churches of Asia Minor at divine services. It was written by the saint in response to the request of the Philippians to send them some letters of the hieromartyr Ignatius (December 20) which Saint Polycarp had in his possession.

The composer H.I.F. Bibier (1644-1704) has written a Sonata “Scti Polycarpi” for eight trumpets in honor of the holy martyr.

Venerable Polycarp of Briansk

Saint Polycarp of Briansk, in the world, was Prince Peter Ivanovich Boryatinsky, a descendant of Saint Michael, Prince of Chernigov (September 20). This supposition has been put forward because Boryatinsky is connected with the destiny of the Briansk Savior Transfiguration monastery.

The name of Prince Peter Boryatinsky is often encountered in documents of the sixteenth century. Thus, he was among those sent off to wage war against the Swedish king at the river Sestra. In 1576, he was named voevod at Tula. In 1580, Boryatinsky, having been appointed voevod at Kholm, was captured by the Lithuanians under a siege headed by Panin. Upon his release from captivity under Boris Godinov, Boryatinsky returned home in disgrace.

In 1591 he was named voevod at Tiumen, but after several years he left the world, settled at Briansk and received monastic tonsure with the name Polycarp. From his means the monk built a monastery of the Transfiguration of the Lord and established in it a Rule of strict ascetical life. Saint Polycarp was the first Superior of this monastery. He died and was buried there in 1620 or 1621.

Venerable John, Ascetic of the Syrian Deserts

Saint John, disciple of Saint Limnaeus (February 22), lived in Syria in the fifth century, and chose for himself the ascetic struggle of “a shelterless life.” He settled on a hill, sheltered from the wind on all sides, and lived there for twenty-five years. He ate only bread and salt, and he exhausted his body under heavy chains. When one of the nearby ascetics planted an almond tree on the hill so that Saint John could enjoy its shade and get out of the vicious heat, the saint told him to cut it down. This he did in order to deny his body any respite.

Venerable Antiochus and Antoninus, ascetics of the Syrian Deserts

Saints Antiochus and Antoninus also lived in asceticism with Saint John. They continued their ascetical struggles until they reached an advanced age, offering an example of spiritual strength, and overcoming every obstacle.

Venerable Moses, Ascetic of the Syrian Deserts

Saint Moses lived in Syria in the fifth century. Imitating Saint John, he settled on a high mountain near the village of Rama. He was a disciple of Saint Polychronius, and lived with him. Emulating his Elder in everything, Saint Moses was the very model of an austere ascetical life.

Saint Moses died in Syria in the fifth century.

Venerable Zebinas, Ascetic of the Syrian Deserts

Saint Zebinas lived in Syria during the fifth century. He lived an ascetical life on the same mountain as Saint Moses. He never sat down during his Rule of prayer, but sometimes he leaned on his staff. The neighboring inhabitants venerated Saint Zebinas, and they received great help in their sorrows and needs through his prayers.

He reached a great old age, then departed to the Lord.

Venerable Polychronius, Ascetic of the Syrian Deserts

Saint Polychronius lived in Syria in the fifth century. He was the disciple of Saint Zebinas, and imitated the life of his Elder, spending both day and night in fasting and vigil. Saint Polychronius had no chains, but he dug up a heavy oaken root from the earth and carried it on his shoulders when he prayed. Saint Polychronius asked God to send rain during a drought, and he filled up a stone vessel with oil for the needy.

Venerable Damian, Ascetic of the Syrian Deserts

Saint Damian lived in Syria in the fifth century. He withdrew to a monastery named Ieros and lived there in asceticism. In his cell he had only a small box of lentils from which he ate.

Venerable Alexander, founder of the Monastery of the “Unsleeping Ones”

Saint Alexander, Founder of the Monastery of the “Unsleeping Ones,” was born in Asia and received his education at Constantinople. He spent some time in military service but, sensing a calling to other service, he left the world and received monastic tonsure in one of the desert monasteries near Antioch under the guidance of Igumen Elias.

Having advanced through all the degrees of monastic obedience, he received a blessing from the igumen to dwell in the wilderness. The saint lived an ascetical life in the wilderness, taking only the Holy Gospel with him. Afterwards, the Lord summoned him to preach to pagans. He converted to the faith the local city-head Rabbul, who afterwards prospered in the service of the Church, attaining the rank of bishop, and for thirty years, he occupied the bishop’s cathedra in the city of Edessa.

Finally, Saint Alexander settled not far from the Euphrates River. Monks gathered around him, attracted by the loftiness of his prayerful asceticism and spiritual experience. A monastery of 400 monks eventually sprang up there.

Then the holy igumen in his prayerful zeal decided to offer never-ceasing praise to the Lord at the monastery both by day and by night. For three years the holy abba prayed that God might reveal to him whether it was pleasing to Him to establish such a monastic rule. He received an answer by divine revelation. All the monks were divided into twenty-four watches of prayer. Changing shifts each hour, two choirs sang the holy Psalms both day and night, except when divine services were celebrated in church. Hence the name “Monastery of Unsleeping Ones,” since the ascetics offered unceasing praise to God.

Saint Alexander guided the monastery on the Euphrates for twelve years. Thereafter, having left the experienced Elder Trophimus as igumen, he set off with some chosen brethren through the cities bordering on Persia, to preach the Gospel. Having arrived at Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire, he also established a monastery there with his Rule of unceasing praise. The abba died at a great old age after fifty years of monastic struggles. His death occurred in the year 430.

Saint Alexander is also commemorated on July 3.

Venerable Damian of Esphigmenou of Mount Athos

Saint Damian lived in the thirteenth century. He was a hesychast on Mt. Athos, and struggled in the skete of Esphigmenou monastery, on a mountain called Samareia, between the monasteries of Hilandar and Esphigmenou, and also in one of the caves where the Father of Russian Monasticism, Saint Anthony of the Caves (July 10), had lived in asceticism.

Known for his ascetic life and for the miracles he performed, he was truly obedient and kept the injunctions of the Fathers.

Saint Damian reposed in his cell in the year 1280, and a miraculous fragrance issued from his grave for forty days. His Life was written by his friend Saint Cosmas of Zographou Monastery (September 22).

Monastic Martyr Damian of Philotheou

Saint Damian of Philotheou was a disciple of Saint Dometius (August 7). He was from the village of Richovon (Merichovon) near Agrapha. He went to Mt. Athos when he was quite young, and received the monastic tonsure at Philotheou Monastery. After spending some time there, he withdrew to a hermitage under the guidance of an Elder named Dometius.

After three years, he heard a voice telling him to go forth and teach. He obeyed these instructions, preaching in many areas of Greece. He urged his fellow Christians to repent of their sins, to abstain from all vices, to obey God’s commandments, and to devote themselves to God-pleasing works.

As he was on his way to a village, Saint Damian was arrested by the Turks and thrown into prison. After fifteen days of torture, he was hanged and then thrown into a fire.

Saint Damian received the crown of martyrdom on February 23, 1568.

New Hieromartyr Nicholas (Dmitrov) of Tver

No information available at this time.

Saint Gorgonia, Sister of Saint Gregory the Theologian

Most of the information about Saint Gorgonia (Γοργονία) comes from her brother, Saint Gregory Nazianzus (January 25) in his Oration VIII, "On his Sister Gorgonia," which was delivered sometime after their brother Saint Caesarius (March 9) went to the Lord in 369, and before the repose of their father, the elder Saint Gregory Nazianzus, in 374.

She was the daughter of Saint Gregory Nazianzus (January 1) and Saint Nonna (August 5), and was named for her maternal grandmother Gorgonia. Saint Gregory the Theologian tells us that she derived her existence and her reputation from their parents, because they sowed in her the seeds of piety.

In praising her virtues, Saint Gregory states that her modesty surpassed those of her own time, and those who lived before her. She blended the excellence of the married state with that of the unmarried state, avoiding the disadvantages of each, while combining all that is best in both. Thus, Saint Gorgonia proved that "neither of them absolutely binds us to, or separates us from, God or the world." It is the mind which nobly presides over marriage and virginity, arranging and working on them as "the raw material of virtue."

Saint Gorgonia had consecrated herself to God, and also won her husband Alypios to her side. He was from the city of Iconium, where Faustinus was the bishop. She made Alypios "a good fellow servant, instead of an unreasonable master." This pious couple had five children; two sons who became bishops, and three daughters: Alypianḗ, Eugenia, and Nonna. Moreover, she made her children and their children's children the fruit of her spirit, dedicating to God not only her soul, but also her entire family and household. As long as she lived, she showed herself as an example of all that is good. Her devoted brother even compared her to King Solomon's virtuous woman (Proverbs 31:10-31).

This daughter of a saintly family took both her natural and spiritual parents as her models of virtue, and they were the source of her goodness. She did not wear fine clothes or expensive jewelry, nor did she use pigments to enhance her beauty. The only red coloring dear to her was the blush of modesty; and her only white coloring was the tint of temperance.

She adorned the churches with offerings, and thereby presented herself to God as a living temple. She opened her house to members of her family who were in want, and even to strangers. She was sympathetic to those in trouble, and compassionate toward widows. She "dispersed abroad" and "gave to the poor" (Psalm 111/112:9). The only wealth she left to her children was the excellence of her example.

In her fasting, her chanting of the Psalms, her vigils, her tears, and her prayers, she surpassed not only women, but also the most devout men, thereby demonstrating that the distinction between male and female is one of body, not of soul.

One day, as Saint Gorgonia was riding in her carriage, the mules bolted and the carriage was overturned. She was dragged over the ground and suffered serious injury. Those who were not Christians were scandalized that God would permit such a thing to happen to this righteous woman. Although she was bruised in her bones and limbs, she would not allow a physician to examine her, in order to preserve her modesty. She trusted that God would heal her, and He did. Seeing her unexpected recovery, people concluded that the accident had occurred so that by her patient endurance and her miraculous healing, God would be glorified.

Saint Gorgonia longed for death, preferring to be with Christ rather than remain on earth. She had a vision in which the day of her death was revealed to her so that she might prepare herself. As that time drew near she took to her bed, and spent her last day giving instructions to her husband, her children, and her friends. After discoursing about spiritual matters, she reposed in the year 370 at the age of thirty-eight. Her last words were, “I will both lie down in peace and sleep” (Psalm 4:8).

Daily Readings for Wednesday, February 22, 2023



The Finding of the Precious Relics of the Holy Martyrs in the Quarter of Eugenius, Our Righteous Fathers Thalassius and Baradatus, Anthousa the Martyr & her 12 Servants

JOEL 3:12-21

Let the nations bestir themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehosh'aphat; for there I will sit to judge all the nations round about.
Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.
Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.
And the Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shake. But the Lord is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel.
So you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who dwell in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy and strangers shall never again pass through it.
And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the stream beds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord and water the valley of Shittim.
Egypt shall become a desolation and Edom a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the people of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall be inhabited for ever, and Jerusalem to all generations. I will avenge their blood, and I will not clear the guilty, for the Lord dwells in Zion."

JOEL 2:12-26

Yet even now, " says the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments." Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil. Who knows whether he will not turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind him, a cereal offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God?
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber.
Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say, "Spare thy people, O Lord, and make not thy heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'
Then the Lord became jealous for his land, and had pity on his people. The Lord answered and said to his people, "Behold, I am sending to you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations.
I will remove the northerner far from you, and drive him into a parched and desolate land, his front into the eastern sea, and his rear into the western sea; the stench and foul smell of him will rise, for he has done great things.
Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things! Fear not, you beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit, the fig tree and vine give their full yield.
Be glad, O sons of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord, your God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before.
The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will restore to you the years which the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.

Uncovering of the relics of the Holy Martyrs at the Gate of Eugenius at Constantinople

During the persecutions against Christians the relics of these Holy Martyrs were usually buried by the faithful in hidden places. Thus, at Constantinople, near the Eugenios Gate and tower, the incorrupt relics of several Martyrs were found. Their names are not known, but they are written in the Book of Life.

Wishing to glorify His servants, God began healing people of their infirmities at the place where the relics of the Martyrs were found. They were transferred to a church with great honor by a certain Hierarch. After the fragrant relics were revealed, there were more miracles of healing, and demons were cast out of those who were possessed.

It was revealed to a devout clergyman, Nicholas the Calligrapher, that among the relics discovered at the Eugenios gate were the relics of the holy Apostle Andronikos of the Seventy and his helper Junia (May 17), whom the Apostle Paul mentions in his Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:7). In the XII century, a large domed church was built at the place where the relics of the Holy Martyrs were discovered. This work was undertaken by Emperor Andronikos (1183-1185), whose patron Saint was the Holy Apostle Andronikos.

Martyrs Maurice and his son, Photinus, and Martyrs Theodore, Philip, and 70 soldiers, at Apamea in Syria

Saint Maurice, a military commander of Syrian Apamea, suffered in the year 305 under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311) together with his son Photinus and seventy soldiers under his command (only two of the soldiers’ names are known, Theodore and Philip).

During a persecution, pagan priests reported to the emperor that Saint Maurice was spreading the faith in Christ. Brought to trial, Saint Maurice, his son and his soldiers firmly confessed their faith and they yielded neither to entreaties nor to threats. They were then beaten without mercy, burned with fire and raked with iron hooks. Young Photinus, having endured the tortures, was beheaded by the sword before the very eyes of his father. But this cruel torment did not break Saint Maurice, who was happy that his son had been vouchsafed the martyr’s crown.

They then devised even more subtle tortures for the martyrs: they led them to a swampy place full of mosquitoes, wasps and gnats, and they tied them to trees, having smeared their bodies with honey. The insects fiercely stung and bit the martyrs, who were weakened by hunger and thirst.

The saints endured these torments for ten days, but they did not cease praying and glorifying God until finally the Lord put an end to their sufferings. The wicked torturer gave orders to behead them and leave their bodies exposed without burial, but Christians secretly buried the venerable relics of the holy martyrs by night at the place of their horrible execution.

Venerable Thalassius Hermit of Syria

Saint Thalassius of Syria lived during the fifth century. At a young age he withdrew to a hill near the village of Targala and passed 38 years there in monastic deeds, having neither a roof over his head, nor any cell nor shelter.

For his simple disposition, gentleness and humility he was granted by the Lord the gift of wonderworking and healing the sick. Many wanted to live under his guidance, and the saint did not refuse those coming to him. He himself built cells for them. He died peacefully, granted rest from his labors.

Venerable Limnaeus Hermit of Syria

Saint Limnaeus began his efforts under the guidance of Saint Thalassius and dwelt with him for a sufficient time to acquire the virtues of his teacher: simplicity of manner, gentleness and humility. Then Saint Limnaeus joined Saint Maron (February 14).

On a hill he built a small stone enclosure without a roof, and through a small aperture, he conversed with those who came to see him. His heart was full of compassion for people. Wanting to help all the destitute, he built a wanderers’ home on the hillside with the help of his admirers, a dwelling for the poor and the crippled, and he fed them with what pious people brought him.

The holy ascetic even sacrificed his own quiet and solitude for these poor brethren, and took upon himself the responsibility for for their spiritual nourishment, inducing them to pray and glorify the Lord. For his holy life he was granted the gift of wonderworking. He once cured himself of a snakebite through prayer.

Venerable Baradates, Hermit of Syria

Saint Baradates the Syrian began to live as a desert-dweller in a hut near Antioch. He then built a stone cell upon a hill, so cramped and low that the ascetic could stand in it only in a stooped position. It had neither window nor door, and the wind, rain and cold came in through the cracks, and in summer he was not protected from the heat.

After many years Patriarch Theodoretos of Alexandria urged the monk to leave the cramped hut. Then the saint withdrew into a new seclusion: covered in leather from head to foot with a small opening for his nose and mouth, he prayed standing with hands upraised to heaven. The grace of God strengthened him in his works and purified his heart from passions. People began to flock to him for spiritual counsel, and Saint Baradates with deep humility guided them. Having acquired many spiritual gifts, Saint Baradates departed to the Lord in peace in 460.

Saint Athanasius the Confessor of Constantinople

Saint Athanasius the Confessor was born in Constantinople of rich and pious parents. From his childhood he dreamed of devoting himself entirely to God, and having reached maturity, he settled in one of the Nicomedia monasteries, called the Pavlopetrios (i.e., in the names of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul), and became a monk there.

The loftiness of his ascetic life became known at the imperial court. During the reign of the iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820), Saint Athanasius was subjected to torture for venerating icons, and then underwent exile, grief and suffering. Confessing the Orthodox Faith until the very end of his life, Saint Athanasius died peacefully in the year 821.

9 Martyred brothers of Kola: Guram, Adarnerse, Baqar, Vache, Bardzim, Dachi, Juansher, Ramaz, and Parsman

Many centuries ago, the village of Kola was located at the source of the Mtkvari River. There Christians and pagans dwelt together as neighbors. Christian and pagan children would play together, but when the Christian children heard church bells ringing, they recognized the call to prayer and dropped their games. Nine pagan children—Guram, Adarnerse, Baqar, Vache, Bardzim, Dachi, Juansher, Ramaz, and Parsman—would follow the Christian children to church.

But the Christians always stopped them near the gates of the church and reprimanded them, saying, “You are children of pagans. You cannot enter God’s holy house.” They would return sorry and dejected.

One day the nine pagan children tried to enter the church forcibly, but they were cast out and scolded. “If you want to enter the church, you must believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” they were told. “You must receive Holy Communion and join the community of Christian believers.”

With great joy the youths promised the Christians that they would receive Holy Baptism. When the Christians of Kola related to their priest the good news of the pagan boys’ desire, he recalled the words of the Gospel: He that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that takes not his cross, and follows after Me, is not worthy of Me. (Matt. 10:37-38).

He was not afraid of the anger that would follow from the pagan community, but rather took the boys on a cold winter night and baptized them in the icy river. A miracle occurred while the Holy Sacrament was being celebrated: the water became warm and angelic hosts appeared to the youths. Greatly encouraged in their faith, the children decided to remain in the Christian community rather than return to their parents.

When their parents learned that they had been baptized in the Christian Faith, they dragged their children away from the church, abusing and beating them into submission all the way home. The heroic children endured the abuses and, though they went hungry and thirsty for seven days, repeated again and again, “We are Christians and will not eat or drink anything that was prepared for idols!”

Neither gentle flattery, nor costly clothing, nor promises of good things to come could tempt the God-fearing youths. Rather they asserted, “We are Christians and want nothing from you but to leave us alone and allow us to join the Christian community!”

The enraged parents went and reported to the prince everything that had happened. But the prince was of no help—he simply told them, “They are your children, do with them as you wish.” The obstinate pagans asked the prince permission to stone the children. So a large pit was dug where the youths had been baptized, and the children were thrown inside.

“We are Christians, and we will die for Him into Whom we have been baptized!” proclaimed the holy martyrs, the Nine Children of Kola, before offering up their souls to God.

Their godless parents took up stones, and then others joined in, until the entire pit had been filled. They beat the priest to death, robbed him, and divided the spoils among themselves.

The martyric contest of the Nine Righteous Children of Kola occurred in the 6th century, in the historical region of Tao in southern Georgia.

Finding of the Relics of Saint Tikhon of Moscow

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February 22, 1992: Patriarch Aleksy presides at the opening of St. Tikhon's recovered relics.

As widely reported, 2017 marked the 100th Anniversary of the Election and Enthronement of Saint Tikhon as Patriarch of Moscow during the All-Russian Church Council. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and a delegation representing the Orthodox Church in America departed for Moscow on Thursday, November 30, 2017 to participate in the celebration of this ever-memorable occasion that directly relates to the life of the Church in Russia and America, inasmuch as Saint Tikhon served as Bishop and later Archbishop of North America from 1898 until 1907, when he returned to his homeland.

2017 also marked the 25th Anniversary of the discovery and recovery of the relics of Saint Tikhon, which were secured after his death in Moscow's Donskoy Monastery.

Saint Patriarch Tikhon fell asleep in the Lord on April 7, 1925. He had suffered greatly during the years of turmoil and persecution that followed the Russian Revolution. He was laid to rest in the monastery's small "winter" cathedral. Subsequently the monastery was closed and repurposed, and the relics of Saint Tikhon were moved for safe keeping.

The Donskoy Monastery subsequently was returned to the Church and has been restored. It was on Saturday, February 22, 1992, that Saint Tikhon's relics were discovered, hidden deep beneath the floor of the small cathedral.

Just weeks before this joyous event, Protopresbyter Daniel Hubiak, together with Matushka Dunia, had arrived in Moscow as the Orthodox Church in America's first Representative to the Russian Orthodox Church. Little did they realize at the time that they would be witnesses to the recovery of Saint Tikhon's relics on that cold February afternoon.

Both Father Daniel and Matushka Dunia wrote first-hand accounts of the discovery of Saint Tikhon's relics, now enshrined in the Donskoy Monastery's main cathedral.

In conjunction with the Anniversary of Saint Tikhon's Enthronement in 1917, we offer the Hubiaks' accounts of the discovery of Saint Tikhon's relics.

Account of Matushka Dunia Hubiak

It is Saturday, February 22, 1992, in Moscow. Father Dan and I are living at the Danilovsky Hotel. We arrived in Moscow a month ago for Father Dan to begin his new assignment as Representative of the Orthodox Church in America to the Russian Orthodox Church (The Moscow Patriarchate).

Because no church was yet designated as our Representation Church, Father Dan would call Father Matfey Stadniuk on Saturday mornings to be told where he was to be for the Vigil and Divine Liturgy that weekend (usually at the Patriarchal Cathedral). This Saturday morning (February 22) Father Matfey could not be reached. Finally, around noon he answered the phone and told Father Dan to be at the Donskoy Monastery for a special service at 2:00 p.m.

The receptionists at the hotel (who were always very helpful) ordered a car and driver for us, and off we were to the Donskoy Monastery. Upon our arrival at the main gate of the monastery, a mass of people, including clergy of all ranks, was gathering. A sense of excitement permeated the scene.

What could all of this mean?

We arrived at the winter church and saw more people, clergy and TV cameras! Father Dan was separated from me to join the clergy – I was left behind. At that time, a month after arriving in Moscow, my linguistic ability was almost nonexistent, so I was unable to ask anyone anything. So I stood there, trying to not get squeezed trying to see. We were standing around what looked like a crypt in the vestibule.

Patriarch Aleksy entered and began the service. More and more people crowded into the space, and again I was pushed to the side, unable to see. However, I could still hear, and to my astonishment I discovered that we were standing at the tomb of the recently canonized Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia – in many ways OUR Patriarch whom we commemorate as “the Enlightener of North America.”

The Molieben service began and the coffin was opened. I made my way to a side of the area and found a chair on which I stood. When the reality dawned on me as to what was taking place, I was very much moved and could hardly see because of my tears.

After most of the crowd had pushed and shoved its way to the side, I was able to look down and found the Mantia still intact with the eagles on the shoulders and at the hem.

Father Dan was given a piece of wood from the casket.

Just think! If Father Dan had not reached Father Matfey, who was in his office all of two minutes, we would have missed this once in a lifetime experience!

Account of Father Daniel Hubiak

At the end of the meeting of the Permanent Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksy was informed that the grave of Saint Tikhon had been found in the smaller Cathedral of Our Lady of the Don in the Donskoy Monastery. The Patriarch immediately went to the site and arranged for the opening of the casket at a special service at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 22, 1992.

The top of the simple wooden casket was removed, revealing the mantia which covered the body of the saint. Two gold brocaded emblems on the mantia were shining as new. His Holiness said that the green patriarchal mantia was special in that it was one of only three made with that material and special style. The stones in the cross of the Saint’s miter glistened as camera lights flashed.

A Molieben was sung. Patriarch Aleksy spoke of the significance of this discovery and stated that a crypt will be made for the Saint’s relics.

The discovery of the Saint’s grave was miraculous. Three different rumors pointed to the improbability of ever finding the remains of the Saint. One version had it that the remains of the Saint had been cremated, another that he was buried in an unmarked grave in one cemetery, another that his remains were in another, unidentified cemetery. The Church had no plans of trying to find the grave.

A fire at the smaller Cathedral of Our Lady of the Don made it necessary to undertake an extensive renovation of the church. In the process of this renovation, a grave marker was found, but there was no body under the stone. It was thought that perhaps the burial place was to one side or another of the stone. A search of the area proved fruitless. But under the stone was a large heating pipe that appeared to be intact. An archeological expert examined the site and noticed that in fact the pipe, not detectable to the untrained eye, had indeed been disturbed. The pipe was removed and beneath it, covered by earth, was a grave vault. The vault was opened and the casket of Saint Tikhon was discovered there. On the casket was a plaque identifying it as the casket of the Saint. Those who buried the Saint took special pains to keep his body and his burial place secure and safe.

The finding of the Saint’s grave was a miracle. The presence of the Representative of the OCA at the opening of the grave was another sign of God’s providence. By chance I had called Father Matrfey Stadniuk to discuss the schedule of services for the weekend. He was in his office for only for a few minutes – and that was when I called. He told me to be at the Donskoy Monastery for a Molieben. It appears that the person who was to have informed me simply forgot to do so.

An Act of the Opening of the Grave was signed by the Patriarch, the hierarchs, clergy and lay persons present. My name and my wife’s name appear on the document. I obtained a piece of wood from the top of the Saint’s casket.

O Holy Father Patriarch Tikhon, pray unto God for us!

2/26 announcements

February 26, 2023

Sunday of Cheese Fare

The theme of the Sunday before Lent is FORGIVENESS (cheese fare) and the Gospel lesson is Matthew 6:14-21 which teaches us both of forgiveness and of fasting. “To forgive is to put between me and my enemy the radiant forgiveness of God Himself. To forgive is to reject the hopeless dead-ends of human relations and to refer them to Christ. Forgiveness is truly a breakthrough of the Kingdom into this sinful and fallen world” (Great Lent, Page 28). And to fast is to first fast before God and not men so as to curb the desires and cravings of our fallen nature. This effort can help free us from the dictatorship of the flesh over our spirit, so we can more fully love and forgive.

May God be with us as we approach the Holy Season of Lent.

Romans 13:11-14:4: Brethren, now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk becomingly, as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in chambering and licentiousness, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts. But as for the one who is weak in faith, receive him, but not for disputes over opinions. For one believes he may eat anything; but the weak person eats herbs. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to be the judge over the servant of a stranger? To his own master he either stands or falls; but he will be made to stand; for God is able to make him stand.

Matthew 6:14-21: The Lord said to His Disciples: If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father Who is in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Troparion of the Resurrection: Having learned the joyful message of the Resurrection from the angel, the women Disciples cast from them their parental condemnation, and proudly broke the news to the Disciples, saying, Death has been spoiled. Christ God is risen, granting the world Great Mercy.

Troparion of the Chains of St. Peter: O Holy Apostle, Peter, thou dost preside over the Apostles by the precious chains which thou didst bear. We venerate them with faith and beseech thee that by thine intercessions we be granted the great mercy.

Kontakion of Cheese Fare Sunday: O thou who guidest to wisdom, and givest understanding and intelligence, the Instructor of the ignorant and Helper of the poor, strengthen my heart and grant it understanding, O Master. Give me word, O Word of the Father; for behold, I shall not refrain my lips from crying to thee, O merciful One, have mercy upon me who am fallen.


UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE: All services listed on the calendar will be available through streaming and webcast.

Sunday, February 26 (Cheese Fare Sunday)

8:50 a.m. — Orthros (webcast)

9:00 a.m. — Christian Education

10:00 a.m. — Divine Liturgy (webcast)

12:00 p.m. — Teen Fundraiser Meal

6:30 p.m. — Forgiveness Vespers

Monday, February 27 (Clean Monday)


Father Herman off

6:30 P.M. — Canon of St. Andrew of Crete

Tuesday, February 28

1:00 p.m. — Ladies’ Lunch

6:30 p.m. — Canon of St. Andrew of Crete

Wednesday, March 1

6:30 p.m. — Pre-sanctified Liturgy followed by Soup Supper

Thursday, March 2

6:30 p.m. — Canon of St. Andrew of Crete

Friday, March 3

6:30 p.m. — Small Compline with the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos

Saturday, March 4

4:45 p.m. — Choir Practice

6:00 p.m. — Great Vespers

Sunday, March 5 (Sunday of Orthodoxy)

8:50 a.m. — Orthros (webcast)

9:00 a.m. — Christian Education
10:00 a.m.

Daily Readings for Tuesday, February 21, 2023



Timothy the Righteous, John III, Patriarch of Constantinople, Eustathius, Bishop of Antioch, Zachariah, Patriarch of Jerusalem


Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For admission has been secretly gained by some who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Master and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now I desire to remind you, though you were once for all fully informed, that the Lord saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day; just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
Yet in like manner these men in their dreamings defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you." But these men revile whatever they do not understand, and by those things that they know by instinct as irrational animals, they are destroyed.

LUKE 22:39-42, 45-71; 23:1

At that time, when Jesus came out, he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place he said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation." And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done." And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, "Why do you sleep? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.
While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, "Judas, would you betray the Son of man with a kiss?" And when those who were about him saw what would follow, they said, "Lord, shall we strike with the sword?" And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, "No more of this!" And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house. Peter followed at a distance; and when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a maid, seeing him as he sat in the light and gazing at him, said, "This man also was with him." But he denied it, saying "Woman, I do not know him." And a little later someone else saw him and said, "You also are one of them." But Peter said, "Man, I am not." And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, "Certainly this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean." But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are saying." And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, "Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.
Now the men who were holding Jesus mocked him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and asked him, "Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?" And they spoke many other words against him, reviling him.
When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes; and they led him away to their council, and they said, "If you are the Christ, tell us." But he said to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God." And they all said, "Are you the Son of God, then?" And he said to them, "You say that I am." And they said, "What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.
Then the whole company of them arose, and brought him before Pilate.

Venerable Timothy of Symbola in Bithynia

Saint Timothy of Symbola was of Italian descent. He became a monk at a young age and pursued asceticism at a monastery called “Symbola”, in Asia Minor near Mount Olympus. At that time Theoctistus was the archimandrite of the monastery. Saint Timothy was the disciple of Theoctistus and also of Saint Platon of the Studion Monastery (April 5).

Attaining a high degree of spiritual perfection, he received from God the gift of healing the sick and casting out unclean spirits. He spent many years as a hermit, roaming the wilderness, the mountains and forests, both day and night offering up prayer to the Lord God. He died at a great old age, in the year 795.

Saint Eustathius, Archbishop of Antioch

Saint Eustathius, Archbishop of Antioch (323-331) was born in Side, Pamphylia in 324. He was Bishop of Beroea (modern Aleppo), and enjoyed the love and esteem of the people, and at the request of his flock he was elevated by the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council (325) to the See of Antioch.

Saint Eustathius was a learned theologian, and was also distinguished by his broad knowledge in secular sciences. When the heresy of Arius began to spread in the East (Arianism denied the consubstantiality of the Son of God with the Father), Saint Eustathius struggled zealously for the purity of the Orthodox Faith through his words and his writings.

The First Ecumenical Council was convened in the year 325 by the holy God-crowned Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337). The first to preside over this Council was Saint Eustathius. The Council condemned the heretical teachings of Arius and incorporated the Orthodox confession into the Symbol of Faith (the Nicene Creed).

But the mad Arius, as Saint Eustathius called him, refused to renounce his errors. He and those who shared his opinion were excommunicated from the Church by the Council. Among the bishops who signed the Nicene Symbol of Faith were some who sympathized with the heresy of Arius, but signed the Acts of the Council through fear of excommunication.

After the Council, his enemies plotted against Saint Eustathius. With great cunning they gained his consent to convene a local Council at Antioch. Having bribed a certain profligate woman, they persuaded her to appear at the Council with an infant at her breast, and falsely declare that Saint Eustathius was the father of the infant.

The Arians declared Saint Eustathius deposed, violating the Apostolic Rule that accusations against the clergy must be substantiated by two witnesses. Without a trial he was sent off into exile in Thrace. But the lie was soon unmasked: the woman repented after falling grievously ill. She summoned the clergy, and in the presence of many people, she confessed her sin.

Saint Constantine the Great died around this time, and his son Constantius (337-361), who shared the heretical views of Arius and favored the Arian bishops, succeeded his father on the throne. Even in exile, Saint Eustathius struggled for Orthodoxy with the same zeal. He died in exile, in the city of Philippi or Trajanopolis, in the year 337.

Convened in the year 381 at Constaninople, the Second Ecumenical Council confirmed the Orthodox Symbol of Faith, which Saint Eustathius had so vigorously defended. The Arian heresy was once again anthematized.

In the year 482 the relics of Saint Eustathius were reverently transferred from Philippi to Antioch, to the great joy of the people of Antioch, who had not ceased to honor and love their patriarch.

Saint Eustathius was esteemed by the great hierarchs of the fourth century: Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Athanasius of Alexandria, Epiphanius of Cyprus, Anastasius of Sinai, and Jerome of Stridonia. The renowned church historian Bishop Theodoret of Cyrrhus calls Saint Eustathius a pillar of the Church and a man of piety, of equal stature with Saint Athanasius of Alexandria and the other bishops at the forefront of the struggle for Orthodoxy.

Saint George, Bishop of Amastris on the Black Sea

Saint George was born at Kromne near Amastris in Paphlagonia on the Black Sea in 750. He was the son of pious parents, Theodosios and Megethousa. After completing his primary studies in his homeland, he left for the mountain of Syrikēs, or Sērikḗs (Συρίκης ή Σηρικής). There he found an old ascetic who taught him about the solitary life and tonsured him.

After the repose of his Elder, George went to Vonitsa in Akarnania, where he continued his ascetical struggles.

In 788, the Bishop of Amastris fell asleep in the Lord, and the Church rewarded George's virtues. Against his will, he was elected as the Bishop of that city, but in the end he submitted to this as God's will. He was consecrated at Constantinople by Patriarch Tarasios (February 25).

Upon his return to Amastris, Saint George was like a lamp which is not placed under a bushel, but put on a lampstand, so that it gives light to all those in the house (Matthew 5:15). He instructed his flock, he beautified several churches, defended widows and orphans, and fed the poor. In all things, he was an example of a God-pleasing life.

By the power of his prayers he drove away the Saracens who were ravaging the countryside near Amastris. He also rescued some Amastrian merchants who had been wrongfully condemned to death in the city of Trebizond.

He also composed several Canons in honor of the Saints, which are sung on February 7 and 26; April 13; August 1; October 8, etc.

Saint George went to the Lord peacefully in 805, during the reign of Emperor Nikēphoros I, after shepherding the flock which had been entrusted to him by Christ in a God-pleasing manner. He performed many miracles, both during his lifetime, and after his blessed repose.

In Slavic usage, Saint George is commemorated on February 21. In Greek usage he is commemorated on October 25.

“Kozelshchansk” Icon of the Mother of God

The Kozelshchansk Icon of the Mother of God was glorified in the late nineteenth century, though it is older than that. This icon is of Italian origin and was brought to Russia by one of Empress Elizabeth’s (1741-1761) maids of honor, who was Italian. The owner of the icon married a records clerk of the Zaporozhsky-Cossack army, Siromakh. So, the icon went to the Ukraine with them.

During the nineteenth century it belonged to the family of Count Vladimir Kapnist, and was one of their sacred possessions. The icon was in the village of Kozelschina, Poltava governance. During Cheesefare Week in the year 1880, Maria, the daughter of V. I. Kapnist, dislocated some bones in her foot. The local doctor said the problem was not serious. Dr. Grube, a noted surgeon in Kharkov, agreed with the diagnosis, and he applied a plaster cast to Maria’s foot. He also prescribed hot baths and iron supplements. To lessen the discomfort of the foot while walking, a special shoe was made with metal bands that went around the girl’s leg. Lent passed, but the girl did not feel any relief.

After Pascha, Maria’s other foot became twisted. Then both shoulders and her left hip became dislocated, and she developed pain in her spine. The doctor advised Count Kapnist to take his daughter immediately to the Caucasus for the curative mineral waters and mountain air. The journey to the Caucasus and the curative treatments caused even greater affliction. The girl lost all feeling in her hands and feet, and did not even feel pinches.

Because of the advanced degree of the illness, and since therapy was not helping, they were compelled to return home.

In the month of October, the father journeyed with his sick daughter to Moscow. Here he consulted specialists, who declared that they could do nothing for Maria.

The parents and the sick girl began to despair. However, an unexpected opportunity for help from a foreign professor presented itself. Since it would be some while before his arrival in Moscow, the sick girl asked to return home. The Count sent her back to the village, and his wife promised to bring their daughter back to Moscow when he received news of the the professor’s arrival. On February 21, 1881, they received a telegram saying that the professor had arrived in Moscow.

On the day before the appointment, Maria’s mother suggested that she pray before the family icon of the Mother of God. She said to her daughter, “Masha [a diminutive form of Maria], tomorrow we go to Moscow. Take the icon, let us clean its cover and pray to the Most Holy Theotokos that your infirmity be cured.”

The girl, who had no confidence in earthly physicians, placed all her hope in God. This icon had long been known as wonderworking. According to Tradition, young women would pray before it to have a happy family. It was also the custom to clean the cover of the icon, and the one praying would wipe it with cotton or linen.

Pressing the holy icon to her bosom, the sick girl, with the help of her mother, cleaned it and poured out all her sorrow and despair of soul to the Mother of God. All at once, she felt the strength return to her body and she cried out loudly, “Mama! Mama! I can feel my legs! I can feel my hands!” She tore off the metal braces and bandages and began to walk about the room, while continuing to hold the icon of the Mother of God in her hands.

The parish priest was summoned at once and celebrated a service of Thanksgiving before the icon. The joyous event quickly became known throughout all the surrounding villages. The Countess and Maria went to Moscow and took with them the holy icon of the Mother of God. News of the healing quickly spread about Moscow and people began to throng to the hotel, and then to the church, where they had brought the icon.

The icon continued to work several more healings. When the family returned home to Kozelschina, people had already heard about the miracles of the Kozelschansk icon of the Mother of God in Moscow, and many came to venerate the icon. It was no longer possible to keep the icon at home, so by the order of Archbishop John of Poltava, the icon was transferred to a temporary chapel on April 23, 1881. Every day from early morning, services of Thanksgiving and Akathists were served before the icon.

In 1882 a chapel was built on the grounds of the estate, and then a church. At the decision of the Holy Synod on March 1, 1885 a women’s monastery was established, and on February 17, 1891 it was dedicated to the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos.

At present, the Kozelschansk Icon is in the Krasnogorsk Protection women’s monastery (Kiev diocese). In the lower left corner of the icon is a table with a cup and a spoon. It is believed that this symbolizes the Mother of God as a “bowl for mixing the wine of joy” (Akathist, Ikos 11). A Service and an Akathist have been composed for the Kozelschansk Icon.

Saint John “Scholasticus”, Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint John Scholasticus, Patriarch of Constantinople, was born in Sirimion near Antioch, and studied law. He was ordained a priest because of his great holiness and piety. Later he was elevated to the patriarchal throne, where he spent the years 565 to 577.

While still a presbyter, he compiled a collection of Church Rules in Fifty Chapters, and later during his time as patriarch he made a Codex of civil laws relating to the Church. From these collections was compiled the Nomocanon (i.e. “Law-canon”), used in church administration. Saint John also composed the “Cherubic Hymn”, and “Of Thy Mystical Supper.”

Saint Zacharias, Patriarch of Jerusalem

Saint Zacharias, Patriarch of Jerusalem, lived from the end of the sixth to the early seventh centuries. He became Patriarch of Jerusalem in 609. In the year 614 the Persian emperor Chosroes fell upon Jerusalem, looted it, and led many Christians into captivity, including Saint Zacharias.

Chosroes also captured the Life-Creating Cross of Christ. During the invasion, as many as 90,000 Christians perished. Afterwards Chosroes was compelled to sue for peace with the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius (610-641). The Cross of the Lord was returned to Jerusalem. The Christian captives who remained alive also were returned, among them Patriarch Zacharias, who died peacefully in the year 633.

Saint Makarios of Glinsk Hermitage

The holy Elder Hieromonk Makarios (Matthew Terent'evich Sharov in the world) was born in 1802, and came from a wealthy bourgeois family in the city of Ephraimov in Tula Province. His mother was particularly devout, always walking with a prayer rope in her hands, and she raised her children in the fear of God. Following the example of his parents, Matthew Terent'evich was also devout, humble, and led a restrained life: he did not eat quickly, he read spiritual books, avoided worldly fuss, diligently visited the temple of God and often prayed to God at home. In 1822, when he was twenty years old, he finally decided to forsake the world and enter the Glinsk Hermitage under the guidance of the ever-memorable Igoumen Philaretos (Danielevskii), a man known for the sanctity of his life.

He arrived at Glinsk Hermitage when its ever-memorable restorer, Igoumen Philaretos, was the Superior. In 1828, he was enrolled in the monastery's brotherhood. As is well-known, Father Philaretos kept a close watch over the newcomers. To him, a newcomer was a child who needed spiritual milk (I Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12; I Peter 2:2), and the Igoumen supplied it in abundance. Into this school of piety came Matthew Sharov. In the person of Father Philaretos he found a knowledgeable spiritual guide, who had learned through personal experience, the difficulty of the path to salvation. He had studied this path to such a degree that the person under his guidance was fully assured of reaching his goal. Matthew soon felt this and entrusted himself to the wise instructor in absolute obedience. After learning Matthew's capabilities, this spiritual guide assigned him to various obediences, which did not correspond to his abilities or spiritual needs, and the young novice carried them out in a zealous manner.

At first, he was appointed to work in the monastery's apiary, where Father Igoumen often visited and watched the newcomer closely, paternally instructing him in the monastic life. His ardent performance of his duties, and his humble and willing obedience to his Elder's will predisposed Father Philaretos toward him, and he often spoke to the young struggler in a paternal way. In a short time he was so prepared that he made his monastic vows on December 16, 1833, fully aware of what he was doing. He was tonsured by his great Elder and was named Makarios.

While still a novice, he kept watch over his soul, and after becoming a monk his vigilance increased. His humility was shown in his every word, as well as in his actions, his appearance, his clothing, and in every movement. In other words, he became an image of humility in a short time. By keeping watch over his heart, he blocked the passions from entering therein with the weapon of noetic prayer. Elder Philaretos rejoiced exceedingly over his spiritual child and taught him how a true warrior of Christ must do battle with the Enemy of our salvation. The attentive disciple of this wise instructor was quickly perfected in the virtues, reaching such a level that Father Philaretos deemed him worthy of ordination.

Father Makarios tried to cleanse his heart of all earthly matters, and those things which are displeasing to God, so that he might become worthy of the grace which was given to him at his ordination. He always served with special reverence, which was noticed by those around him, even though he tried to hide it from everyone. His serving was distinguished by a profound feeling of humility, with fear and trembling before the greatness of Almighty God, before Whose altar he now stood.

Father Philaretos, seeing his disciple and spiritual son rapidly ascending the steps of perfection, wished to see him in the rank of a priest during his lifetime. Father Makarios was ordained on February 29, 1839, and his elevation to the priesthood served to make him more attentive in his spiritual life. He had it very well under the protection of his wise teacher, Father Philaretos, who always had the correct solution, his clairvoyant counsels, and his timely and necessary directives. However, on March 31, 1841, Glinsk Hermitage was deprived of its Superior, and Hieromonk Makarios lost his earthly guardian angel. But the seeds the Elder had sown were watered by his prayers from Heaven, and were strengthened by his disciple's zeal for salvation here below. Not only were these seeds not lost, but they also bore fruit a hundredfold.

Soon Hieromonk Makarios became an example for all the monks to emulate. He studied the Holy Scriptures; he had great knowledge of the exalted Christian virtues, and of the monastic virtues. He tried to put these into practice in his own life in order to be filled with the virtues indicated to us by our Lord Jesus Christ: love of God and love for one's neighbor, strict reclusion, and mortifying the body through fasting and prayer. By God's grace these became so strong in him that he wished to embrace the whole world, and to lead everyone to God. This same ardent love drew him to the service of the salvation of many people.

Father Makarios was appointed as Dean of the monastery in 1844, despite the fact that not so long ago this zealous doer of the Lord's commandments was enrolled with the state because of illness.

After assuming the difficult position of Dean of the monastery, Father Makarios devoted himself to the performance of his duty. Only his humility and his Christian love toward all led him to accept this heavy and burdensome duty, but he gave his all to it. While he was Dean, there was exemplary behavior in the monastery. Relying on the Dean's vigilance, the Superior was at peace because he knew that for the sake of holy obedience Father Makarios was ready to sacrifice his own comfort for that of all the brethren; and he also knew that they would maintain their good conduct out of respect for Father Makarios. How did Father Dean act? He divided his love in half, as it were: one half was for the Superior, whose orders he regarded as sacred; giving the other half, and himself, to the brethren. Of course, some of them did not always conduct themselves as the Superior required.

Some refused to carry out their assigned obediences out of stubbornness or self-love. Father Makarios tried to carry out their obediences himself. For example, he often made the dough for bread at night, and did other heavy work. Father Makarios tried to conceal the weakness of some of the monks from the Superior, and often he got into trouble because of this.

While covering up for the others, Father Makarios was deeply grieved by their weaknesses. He begged and begged them to correct themselves, and tried to counsel them. His instructions, coming from a heart aflame with love for God and for his neighbor, were so effective that those toward whom they were directed involuntarily gave way before the power of his words, and submitted themselves to holy obedience. Once they corrected themselves, Father Makarios was at peace concerning them. He knew that those who had been corrected would not permit any conduct which was contrary to the rules of the monastery, because they did not wish to grieve him.

Because of his position, he was obliged to come into contact with worldly people, and found ways to converse with them and to be useful to them. Beginning with the usual topics, imperceptibly he would lead the conversation toward the soul's salvation. Then he would become inspired and, as if from a pure spring, he would give spiritual drink to his listeners. Enthralled by the power of his words, they listened attentively to the ascetic and many learned the science of Christian life through him. However, while caring for the salvation of others, Father Makarios did not neglect his own. He knew how to conduct himself so that his contact with worldly people did not have an adverse effect upon him. He was rewarded abundantly when he saw that a human soul, under the influence of his tender paternal counsels, recognized its Creator.

In his cell, Father Makarios had only a few icons and books, and that was all. He did not acquire anything else. So that he would not be distracted, he glued paper over the windows of his cell, or painted them over, so that nothing could be seen through them. Prayer and solitude were his only food. Weakened by illness, he lay down on a rug and read the Psalter. At night the Elder got up to pray, supported by two crutches, and read the Holy Gospels, conversing with God for such a long time that one could not understand how he could do this, since he was ill. But God's "power is perfected in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9).

It is said that sometimes the Elder would take a book and go into the forest. Then he would sit down somewhere to read or to pray. Finding a suitable tree stump, the ascetic would place the book on it and kneel down before it. Then his pure soul would fly to Heaven on the wings of prayer. Once, Father Makarios, as usual, went for one of these strolls in the woods, and became very tired. He sat down by the side of the road in order to rest a little, but he was so deep in meditation that he did not hear a peasant's horse-drawn wagon approaching. Suddenly, as the wagon came closer, he stood up. The horse became frightened and veered to the side. Father Makarios said, "Forgive me, brother," and bowed to him.

The peasant smiled and said, "If it were anyone else… but, since it is Father Makarios, then we shall say nothing."

This little incident shows just how much Father Makarios was respected, not only by the brethren of the monastery, but also by those who lived outside its gates.

His great ascetical labors finally caused his already fragile health to deteriorate. So, in June of 1848, he was relieved of his duties at his own request. After this, he did not leave his cell, except to go to church, and for infrequent solitary walks in the woods. At such times he was seen in the cemetery, where there was much that his humble and attentive soul knew and loved. Even though his solitary retreat in his cell was not full reclusion, all his ascetical labors were truly those of a real recluse.

One evening, two monks were going to his cell together in order to speak with him. Among the other things they mentioned about Father Makarios, one of them said, "He has locked himself in. It is easy to be saved in reclusion, because one does not behold any temptations. If he lived as we do, however, having temptations before his eyes, and if he could live as if he did not have them, then that would be a great ascetic feat indeed!"

Later, one of them had to pass by the cell of Father Makarios in order to get to his own. Father Makarios opened his door and asked him to come in. "Brother," he said, "forgive me, a sinner, and a weak one, who is unable to struggle as you do, but hides from worldly temptations in his cell. For the sake of God, forgive me."

The monk was stricken, not so much by the Elder's humility, but by the very words which the monk himself had spoken only a few moments before, and were now repeated by the Elder. This monk who had judged others made a prostration before the humble ascetic, and sincerely asked to forgiven.

The many admirers of Father Makarios, who were deprived of the great benefit of his counsels after he had locked himself in his cell, tried to come to him now in his cell, but they were turned away. Then some of them, having great faith, and who loved the Elder, asked the Superior to order Father Makarios to receive those who came to him, for the sake of obedience. As usual, the humble Elder now preferred the benefit and the will of others to his own solace, and so he opened the door of his cell to everyone. They had been waiting for a long time to hear his grace-filled words, and now that his door was open, they came to him often, and at all times, knowing that Father Makarios would always give them just the right advice and the necessary help from God. His cell was a place where many of their spiritual needs were met, and many questions were answered. From early morning until the evening, many people disclosed to him the thoughts of their hearts, weeping many warm and salvific tears of repentance. They vowed to correct themselves, and their perplexities were resolved.

The Elder’s calmness when counseling people was amazing. He listened to both the nonsensical superstitions of the common folk, and the disbelief and the foolish freethinking of educated persons. He heard the senseless complaints of a peasant woman, and the fanciful curiosity of a wealthy woman, as well as the simple stories of a peasant, and the deceitfully elegant conversations of the wise of this world. Nothing could disturb his Christian patience and his complete spiritual peace, however. He conquered all by his most profound humility. Pure joy shone on his radiant countenance, reflecting the purity of his heart. His eyes expressed his angelic meekness and inner peace. Those who entered his cell in sadness emerged in a state of happiness. The sorrowful received comfort; the despairing came out with the hope of repentance; the self-confident became humble.

As for his great piety, many people wrote to ask him for advice and guidance in the spiritual life, or about their doubts and sorrows. The loving Elder, who was always ready to help his neighbor, did not refuse to reply. As someone who had received only the most elementary education at home, he was not learned in worldly wisdom, but he attained great perfection by obeying Christ’s commandments, by his attentive study of the Holy Scriptures, and the writings of the Holy Fathers.

Many of those who came to Father Makarios with faith noticed that he had the gift of clairvoyance. One hieromonk tells us: “When I entered the monastery, I was given a cell not far from that of Father Makarios. He always had so many people waiting to see him that they stood at his door from Matins until Vespers. I often saw Father Makarios open the door, and those who were closest would fall to the floor before him. He, as though he did not notice them, would call out to someone far in the back: “John,” or “Anna, come here.” When people made their way through the crowd with difficulty, he would ask them to tell him their name, something about their life, and their reason for coming to him. Then after giving advice, he would let the person go forth in peace, and then he would call the next person in the same way. Sometimes it happened that a person who had traveled a great distance, perhaps thousands of miles, never got to see the Elder. Later, it was noticed that those he called had a greater need for his godly-wise conversation than the others.”

“Invited and blessed by Father Makarios, I often came to help out in his cell. Once, as a reward for my efforts, the Elder blessed me with a Priest’s Service Book and said, ‘Do not be proud or judge others; humble yourself and you will be a good monk. Later, you will bless others.’

“These words seemed impossible to me, because at that time I was barely able to read. Later, events revealed the truth of the Elder’s clairvoyant words, foretelling that I would become a priest.

“About two weeks after he took up residence in the tower located in the ‘Bishop’s Garden,’ I went to see him. I came to his tower and saw that there were no crowds waiting for him, only one woman who tossed some white object on the Elder’s steps as I approached. I had just reached the door, and before I had time to say the prayer, I heard the Elder’s voice: ‘Timothy, Timothy, hurry and open the door.’ The Elder could not have seen me because at the time he was lying down on his little rug with the Psalter in his hand. ‘Why do you come to me so seldom now?’ he asked.

‘Forgive me, Batushka,’ I replied. ‘I don’t have the time, because of my obedience.’

‘It is good that you have come,’ he said. Pointing to a jar of ointment in the window he said, ‘You can rub me with that. My chest hurts, and it is hard to breathe.’

“Because of his illness, the Elder’s chest was swollen. As I rubbed him I, the sinful one, thought: ‘The Elder still has some fat on him.’

“He replied to my thoughts on the spot: ‘Timothy, do you see how smooth I am? I eat so much; you can see how fat I am.’

‘Forgive me, Batushka,’ I said, struck by his clairvoyance.

“Then he said, ‘Go out and bring what is on the steps. Didn’t you see anything?’

“I forgot that I had witnessed the woman’s actions and replied, ‘No, Batushka, I did not, but bless me and I will see if there is something there, and if so, I shall bring it.’

‘No,’ he said, ‘don’t go. It isn’t necessary.’

“After finishing some of the chores which needed to be done, I said, ‘Batushka, perhaps you will bless me to go home now?’

‘God will bless you,’ he said, ‘but come to see me more often. When you go out, you will see a man and a woman standing on the ground. They are married, and live very much in harmony. His name is John, and hers is Eudokia. Tell them to come in.’

‘Bless me,’ I said.

“I went down the steps thinking: ‘Is someone here now? When I came in, there was no one around, and one cannot see from the cell because the windows are facing the forest, and besides, the Elder could not get up from the floor.’

“I went down the steps with these thoughts, and I saw a man and a woman. I thought I should ask them their names.

‘Are you here to see Father Makarios?’ I asked.

‘Yes, to see Father Makarios,’ they replied.

“I asked the man his name, and he said, ‘John.’

‘And yours?’ I asked the woman.

“She said, ‘Eudokia.’

“I asked them how they were related, and they said, ‘We are husband and wife.’

‘Go on up,’ I said.

“Then I understood the Elder’s wondrous gift of clairvoyance. I went back to my cell, not understanding why the Elder was so open with me this time. He knew, however, that this would be my last visit to him, and so he did not conceal his gift. Soon after this, he became ill. When I went to see him at the infirmary, he was unable to speak, because of his weakness. He gestured feebly for me to come close to him. Even then, when he was ill and close to death, and in pain, he still kept me in prayerful remembrance.”

Receiving those who came to him, Father Makarios with his spiritual eyes knew their future destiny, and often revealed it to them. A certain devout monk tells us the following:

“One day, my mother, my brother, and I came to Glinsk to receive Father Makarios’s blessing. As he was blessing us the Elder pointed to me and said to my mother, ‘Give this child to the Queen of Heaven, and keep this one (pointing to my brother) for yourself.’ In her simplicity, and because of her sincere faith in God’s will, as expressed to her through the Elder, she said that she was prepared to leave both of us with him. The Elder, however, repeated what he had just said.”

Later, as it happened, the older of the two boys, who had a sincere disposition toward monasticism, was proficient in that capacity. The other one, because of his leanings, could not endure monastic life.

Hieromonk A. said, “I came to Glinsk Hermitage from the Maloyaroslavets-St. Nicholas Monastery. The late Father Archimandrite Innocent, for special reasons, did not usually accept monks from other monasteries into his. When I requested to be accepted into the Hermitage, the Archimandrite refused, although he did not set a time limit on my stay at the monastery guesthouse. I lived there for three months without leaving the monastery, which had become so dear to me. In the end, I decided to go to Father Makarios for advice. The ever-memorable Elder was already sick in bed when I went to see him. Bowing to the ground before him, I described my sorrow because I could not stay and work there, since the Superior would not accept me.

“Go and ask him,” Batushka said, “and he will take you in.”

“I did as I was told, and contrary to all expectation, Father Innocent made an exception for me and took me in. Of course, it was through the prayers of Father Makarios that he accepted me.”

A certain elderly nun, a disciple of Father Makarios, describes how she entered the monastery which he indicated to her by his clairvoyance.

“Once, when I was young, I was at Glinsk Hermitage on a certain Feast Day, and attended a solemn Moleben. Among those who were serving, I saw a tall, thin Hieromonk with sunken eyes. I wanted to see his face, and just as I had that thought, he turned and looked straight at me. This, as I found out later, was Father Makarios. On another occasion, I was at Glinsk Hermitage with a little girl. I had heard a great deal about Father Makarios, but I was afraid to go see him. After the Divine Liturgy, I went back to our room in the guesthouse, and the little girl disappeared without me noticing. After a short time, she returned with a booklet: Brief Instructions for Monks. ‘I was told to give this to you,’ she said, handing me the booklet.

“After that, I wanted to see Father Makarios in person, and I asked the monk in the guesthouse to find out if he would receive me. I received this reply: ‘She must go to the monastery, and when they accept her, she may come to me for a blessing.’

“When I arrived back home, I became quite bored with everything, and could find no relief in anything I did, so I was forced to go back to Glinsk Hermitage to see Father Makarios. He received me very kindly, comforting me and ordering me to enter a monastery. When I asked which one, and where, he replied that God Himself would arrange everything.

“Returning home to my family, I regarded myself as a stranger with them. Life in the world had lost all its meaning for me. Through some acquaintances, I asked Father Makarios what I should do. He ordered them to tell me that when the time came for me to enter the monastery, I would not remain at home for even a moment. I traveled, wishing to distract myself from my terrible boredom. I visited one maiden’s monastery to pray, but did not want to enter. When I received the blessing of the Igoumeness, however, I suddenly asked to be accepted into the monastery, and she took me in. After that, I went to see Father Makarios. He received me as a father would meet a beloved child. He opened the door to his cell and told me to look things over.

“Look here, look at everything,” he said.

“In his cell he had only an Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Passion” (August 13), a cross, a few books, a table, a chair, and a simple wooden bench upon which was placed an old peasant’s coat. On the table there was an apple. After showing me his cell, he sat on the steps and instructed me about humility, patience, non-acquisitiveness, and in general, how a nun must live. After this, he embraced my head and kissed it, like a loving mother.1 Then he said, ‘Do you want your sister to die?’

“He was asking about my younger sister who was always sick, and whom I loved very much. I did not wish to be separated from her, however. I did not answer, and the Elder asked me again. Then, as if he was replying to my thoughts, he said, ‘You do not desire this, but it would be better if she did die. Pray about it.’ But I could not pray for my sister’s death.

“Eventually, she got better and grew up, but she had a very unhappy life. Now I regret that she did not die back then. After a year, I wanted to leave the monastery. There were many sorrows, and I did not have the patience to bear them. So, I went to Father Makarios again. He ordered me to go to another monastery and to remain there for a while. I asked to be accepted there, and I was. But I went to Father Makarios in order to find out where I must live. I returned to Batushka and he told me to go back to the first monastery, saying that God Himself had decreed that this is where I must live.

“When I returned and told Matushka Igoumeness about my trip, she would not let me go, and ordered me to make prostrations for a week (probably at trapeza) as a punishment for my willful absence. I was comforted by Father Makarios in this sorrow, and I received his wise counsel until the end of his life.”

There was a certain nun (Mother Agnes) who had money, and a nice cell; the Igoumeness loved her, and all the sisters respected her. This, however, was not good for the salvation of her soul, because "it is through many tribulations that we must enter into the Kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).2 The Elder prayed and arranged for her to bear these saving sorrows. As a wise instructor, he did not leave her to face these sorrows without warning her ahead of time. He prepared her for all this in advance, foretelling the grief, persecution, and want that she would face. "Weep a little, weep a little! It doesn't matter why you weep," he said, "it is better than being happy."

She did not believe any of this, thinking that the Elder was joking with her. She did not realize the wisdom of the Elder's predictions until she returned to the monastery and discovered that her position had changed. His prophecy came true, exactly as he said it would. Even then, he did not leave her without help. He sent her comforting letters, saying that all this would pass, and that she would live as before. This also came true, but it was no longer harmful for her soul, because she had passed through the fire of temptation, and knew the value of worldly goods, and the fickleness of human love.

In general, the Elder consoled some people by offering a better outlook for the future; others were warned of troubles to come, preparing them in time, so that their sorrow would be easier to bear.

Large crowds of people were drawn to Father Makarios by his counsels, which came from his gift of grace, his admonitions, and by his healing of bodily infirmities. Because of this, it was sometimes difficult to move in the monastery courtyard, or near its gates, or by the cell of Father Makarios. On one occasion, people were waiting to be received, each in his turn, by the godly Elder. Hieromonk Joseph, a disciple of Father Makarios, had to make his way through the crowd. Because of the great multitude, his progress was very slow, and he was displeased. He thought, “Look at the crowd the old man has brought here. Why does he care for them? They will not let me by.”

When he walked by the Elder’s cell, he heard a tapping on the window. He went in and asked him, “Did you call me?”

“Yes, I did call you,” he replied. “Please tell me, for God’s sake, what am I to do with the people? You see how many have come and I, a wretched old man, must care for them, and they will not let me go by.”

Father Joseph then understood that the Elder had discerned his thoughts and called him in to ask him what to do with all the people. Stricken by this, Hieromonk Joseph asked for forgiveness. The Elder forgave him and said that he, “a sinner,” was not acting on his own, but in obedience to the command of the Queen of Heaven, and was doing her will. We do not know how this will was expressed: in a vision, or by the Superior’s blessing for him to receive visitors. In any case, a certain vision may have had something to do with it. Father Makarios himself told some nuns that he once had a vision on his way to church. In the monastery courtyard, and all around him, many swallows were flying. Some of them landed on his hands, and others on his shoulders, and he was able to hold them in his hands and blow on them. After that, when he was returning from church, he was carrying a cross on his head. On the roof of the cells there were many crows cawing at him. He understood that the vision of the swallows meant that he should not refuse to receive women who sought his advice. The vision where he was carrying the cross meant that this was a difficult task. The crows which cawed at him represented the brethren who complained because he received women.

Among his many spiritual gifts, Father Makarios received the gift of healing human sickness. Once, a possessed person was brought to him. He was calm, but as soon as his companions turned toward the cell of Father Makarios, the possessed man became frantic. They dragged him to the Elder by force, and Christ’s true follower laid his hands on him and healed the man by his powerful prayer to God.

His words did not have the elegance of the learned people of the world, but they were permeated with wisdom from on high, and were fervent because of his meekness and love, and so they were vibrant and effective. His words were filled with spiritual rationality, which the Fathers call the highest of all virtues.

Beyond any doubt, we know that everyone who followed the Elder’s advice received not only spiritual benefit, but they also became more successful in their worldly affairs. There are so many examples of this that it is superfluous to mention all of them here.

Sometimes the Elder’s many visitors succeeded in getting him to accept some small gift (which did not happen often). He sent all of these to the Superior, however, without pausing for a moment. Upon his death, only a small coin was in found in one of his books, because he used it as a bookmark and then forgot about it. The Elder only kept incense and candles, which he used in his cell.

In return the visitors often asked Father Makarios for some small thing as a blessing and memento. The Elder gave away everything he received to the pilgrims, and when he had nothing left, he would say, "What can I give you? I have nothing left but a few crusts of bread left over from trapeza."

His visitors were happy to receive even these crusts and accepted them with sincere reverence. By God's grace, these were more precious to them than gold or silver. Faith in the power of the Elder's prayer gave his things, even a crust of bread, similar power. According to the testimony of those who received them, they healed people of their illnesses.

Father Makarios, who helped everyone in their inner renewal, did not forget his closest fellow ascetics in the monastery. In all circumstances, and the attacks of the Enemy, the brethren ran to Batushka. Once, when Hieromonk Moses was stricken with spiritual sorrow, he hoped to receive comfort from Heaven by speaking with the Elder. But Father Makarios was so exhausted from receiving visitors that he could hardly breathe, so he asked Father Moses to come back to him in the morning. Father Moses left the Elder's cell with a heavy heart, and silently turned to Heaven, and his prayer was heard.

The next morning, as dawn was breaking, Father Makarios sent for Father Moses. When he came to the Elder's cell Father Makarios bowed before him and said, "Forgive me, a sinner, Father and brother, for refusing you yesterday. Last night I suffered terribly because of it." From that time forward, the Elder devoted himself completely to his disciples. They were able to come to him at any time without having to wait. They only had to say the customary Jesus Prayer at the door. After this they no longer were afraid of coming at inconvenient times, or of disturbing the Elder. His peace was in the spiritual peace of his disciples. Truly, one could say that Father Makarios was a worthy disciple of a worthy teacher: the ever-memorable Igoumen Philaretos. He in his turn became a worthy spiritual guide for others.

Among the brethren of Glinsk Hermitage, with whom Father Makarios was on especially friendly terms, was the nearly one-hundred-year-old Monk Theodotos. Elder Makarios was also the spiritual brother of the strict ascetic and Elder, Father Schema-Archimandrite Heliodoros (1797-1879). Even between these great spiritual men, however, there arose spiritual discontentment. Father Makarios, filled with love for everyone, had yielded to the requests of his many admirers, and he agreed to have some photographic visiting cards made.

Elder Heliodoros was deeply offended by this, and when Father Makarios came to visit him, he told him so. He believed that this decision of Father Makarios was inconsistent with monastic humility, and he criticized him harshly, "You are not an Elder, but an old man with a basket" (the Russian word he used refers to a large basket which peasants use to carry things). Then he explained the reason for his unusual words. Father Makarios explained that he did not act as he had from a desire to glorify himself, but because he didn't want to scorn the love of others. Father Heliodoros, however, refused to listen to Father Makarios. He said, "You did not do this according to God’s will. Bishops are luminaries, but who are you? This is the sort of thing which is done by those who do not care about a heavenly reward.

What had been done could not be changed, and this is the only reason we have the Elder's portrait. Father Makarios, however, took the stern disapprobation of Elder Heliodoros to heart. Hieromonk Pankratios, who was loved by Elder Makarios, and who learned much from him about his ascetical life, and himself had witnessed many signs of God's grace by the Elder's prayers, kept a secret journal about these things. Somehow, Father Makarios found out about it. Recalling Father Heliodoros's stern criticism, and through fear of eternal damnation, he ordered Father Pankratios to destroy all his notes. The latter did so, though much against his will.

This tireless worker for the glory of God, and for the salvation of his neighbor, did not spare his own health, sacrificing everything for the sake of others. After a time, although the inner man continued to grow, the temple of his body became weaker and weaker. He received some sort of revelation concerning his approaching death. As the Elder said later, he wished to "depart to live with the Angels in Heaven," and he desired to be tonsured into the Great Schema. He was tonsured on June 1, 1863 with the same name. To the repetition of his monastic vows he added even more to his former great works.

He attended all the lengthy services at the Hermitage as usual. Standing at the kleros3 and leaning on his crutch, he stood until the end of the service, ignoring the swelling of his legs and the festering wounds which covered his body, causing him to suffer a great deal. Just as before, he wore the mantiya and klobuk, with the Great Schema beneath. It was only rarely that he wore all the garments pertaining to the Great Schema. That is because after Elder Heliodoros was tonsured into the Great Schema, he wore all the garments of the Great Schema when he came to church. These, as we know, are adorned with many crosses. In their simplicity, some commoners made the Sign of the Cross and made prostrations before him. This disturbed and grieved the humble Elder so much that he never wore the garments of the Schema before the people again, but only the mantiya and klobuk. Elder Makarios imitated the example of Elder Heliodoros.

Disregarding his weakness, Elder Makarios served the Divine Liturgy with the same reverence as before. He slept very little now, sitting in the chair which had served him as a bed for seventeen years. After his tonsure into the Schema, he stopped corresponding with people by mail, but he received those who wished to see him and to receive his blessing, although not as many as before. Now he received almost no women. This continued until he was forced to take to his bed.

The cause of his last illness was a cold. As long as he was able, the Elder read all the Church Services in his cell (alone, or with the help of others), and when he was confined to bed by his illness, he listened attentively to the prayers being read by others. Now he began to partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ more frequently, knowing full well that soon he would be separated from the bonds of his body. Provided with the Church’s Mysteries, and with his disciples weeping over him, he surrendered his soul peacefully and quietly on February 21, 1864, at the age of sixty-three.

As a good and faithful servant, Father Makarios did not sever his ties with the world below after he had passed into the joy of his Lord. There are several testimonials about this. The aforementioned woman Eudokia, who told the Elder all the circumstances of her life, was experiencing great sorrow. She often remembered Father Makarios and thought, “If only he were still alive, he would console me with his grace-filled words.”

That night, after she had fallen into a light sleep, she beheld a beautiful bower covered with greenery, and Father Makarios was inside. She rushed toward him, intending to tell him of her grief, but before she could do so, the Elder gave her an icon of Christ the Savior, and a small bottle of olive oil, and then he disappeared. In this case, the bottle of oil represented the oil of consolation, because by the Elder’s prayers, her sorrow soon passed away.

Here is another case. In a certain village, about four miles from Glinsk Hermitage, there lived a poor peasant with his wife and children. He became ill, so that he was not only unable to work, but he could not even walk. This sickness lasted for four years. His poor wife labored beyond her strength so that they would not all die from starvation. The man was not helped by village medications, and under the circumstances, they could not even think of getting a doctor to treat him. They were so poor that a dry crust of bread was regarded as a great mercy from God. She often bowed down before the holy Icon, broken-hearted and in tears, beseeching the Mother of God to heal her husband. One day, after praying in this manner, she fell asleep and saw a majestic Elder standing before her. “Why do you weep?” he asked.

“How can I not weep, Batushka?” and the unfortunate woman told him of her sorrow.

“Do not weep,” he told her, “but go to Glinsk Hermitage and ask the Superior to serve a Moleben to the Mother of God with a procession to the Skete, and your husband shall be healed.”4

“But how shall I do this?” the woman asked. “I have no money, not even a kopek.”

The Elder said, “You go to the Superior. He is kind, and he will do it without payment.”

Then she asked, “What is your name, Batushka?”

“Makarios,” he replied, and then he vanished.

This unusual dream made such an impression on the woman that she went to the Hermitage at once without saying anything to anyone. The first person she met was Father Gurios, the vestment-keeper, and she told him everything she had seen. Father Gurios related all this to Igoumen Innocent, who blessed for a Moleben to be served without any payment. The Moleben for the sick man’s health began, and at the end of the Akathist, the man himself entered the church and prayed with great fervor.

All those who heard the woman’s account of her husband’s hopeless illness were astonished when he came in, most of all, the wife herself. As he recounted later, the man had seen Father Makarios, whom he had known personally, in his dream. The Elder came and took him by the hand saying, “Why do you lay there? Get up and go to Glinsk Hermitage. Your wife will pray at the Skete, and you must pray as well.”

When he awoke, the man felt his strength returning, and he was able to move, but only with difficulty. Even so, he was able to get to the Skete before the end of the Moleben. Everyone who has experienced something similar will understand how great the joy of these poor peasants was. Even now, many people who knew Father Makarios, or who have only heard about him, take dust and leftover rain water from his grave stone with faith. Because of their faith, and the prayers of the ever-memorable ascetic, they receive help, by the grace of God.

On August 16, 2008, at the Glinsk Nativity of the Mother of God Hermitage, Saint Makarios was glorified for local veneration, along with the holy venerable Elders of Glinsk. His name was added to the Menaion of the Russian Orthodox Church by the decision of the Council of Bishops in 2017.

1 This unusual gesture, kissing a person on the head the way one would venerate a saint’s relic, indicates the wish that the person might also become a saint.

2 However: "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but out of all of them the Lord will deliver them" (Psalm 33/34:19). [FrJF]

3 The area at the front of the church where the Readers and singers stand. The right and left choirs. The name is derived from κλήρος, which means "the drawing of lots." In the earlier times the Readers and singers were chosen by lots. (A Manual of the Orthodox Church's Divine Services, by Archpriest D. Sokolof. New York and Albany, 1899. Pages 18-19.)

4 At Glinsk Hermitage, on several days during the summer, there is a procession from the monastery to the Skete with the wonderworking Icon of the Nativity of the Theotokos.

Daily Readings for Monday, February 20, 2023



Cheesefare Monday, Leo, Bishop of Catania, Agathus, Pope of Rome, Bessarion the Great, Sadok the Bishop and the 128 other Martyrs of Persia, Plotinus


The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in health; I know that it is well with your soul. For I greatly rejoiced when some of the brethren arrived and testified to the truth of your life, as indeed you do follow the truth. No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth.
Beloved, it is a loyal thing you do when you render any service to the brethren, especially to strangers, who have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey as befits God's service. For they have set out for his sake and have accepted nothing from the heathen. So we ought to support such men, that we may be fellow workers in the truth.
I have written something to the church; but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge my authority. So if I come I will bring up what he is doing, prating against me with evil words. And not content with that, he refuses himself to welcome the brethren, and also stops those who want to welcome them and puts them out of the church.
Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. He who does good is of God; he who does evil has not seen God. Demetrios has testimony from every one, and from the truth itself; I testify to him too, and you know my testimony is true.
I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink; I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face.
Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, every one of them.

LUKE 19:29-40; 22:7-39

At that time, when Jesus drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, "Go into the village opposite, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat; untie it and bring it here. If any one asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' you shall say this, 'The Lord has need of it.'" So those who were sent went away and found it as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, "Why are you untying the colt?" And they said, "The Lord has need of it." And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their garments on the colt they set Jesus upon it. And as he rode along, they spread their garments on the road. As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples." He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So he sent Peter and John, saying; "Go and prepare the passover for us, that we may eat it." They said to him, "Where will you have us prepare it?" He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house which he enters, and tell the householder, 'The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I am to eat the passover with my disciples?' And he will show you a large upper room furnished; there make ready." And they went, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the passover.
And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall never eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, "Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of man goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!" And they began to question one another, which of them it was that would do this.
A dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves.
You are those who have continued with me in my trials; and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren." And he said to him, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death." He said, "I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you three times deny that you know me.
And he said to them, "When I sent you out with no purse or bag or sandals, did you lack anything?" They said, "Nothing." He said to them, "But now, let him who has a purse take it, and likewise a bag. And let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one. For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me, 'And he was reckoned with transgressors'; for what is written about me has its fulfillment." And they said, "Look, Lord, here are two swords." And he said to them, "It is enough.
And he came out, and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him.

Saint Leo, Bishop of Catania in Sicily

Saint Leo was born in Ravenna, Italy, of pious and noble parents. He was famed for his benevolence and charity, as well as his Christian love for the poor and wanderers. After completing his studies, he was ordained as a priest at Ravenna, and later, because of his purity and his most spiritual life, he was consecrated as Bishop of Catania in Sicily. He became the protector of orphans and widows, teaching and shepherding his flock.

The Saint was also distinguished for his struggles against heretics, whom he defeated and shamed, not only by his words, but also through his writings. The Lord honored him with the charisms of healing people from various diseases, and of working miracles.

During Saint Leo's episcopate, there was a sorcerer named Heliódoros who lived in Catania and deceived people with his fraudulent miracles. He was once a Christian, but then he denied the Savior and became a servant of the devil. Saint Leo urged Heliódoros to refrain from his evil deeds and return to God, but all in vain. One day Heliódoros audaciously entered the church where the bishop was performing the Divine Services, and tried to create a disturbance, sowing confusion and temptation with his sorcery.

Seeing the people beset by demons under the sorcerer's spell, Saint Leo knew that the time for meek exhortation had passed. He came out of the altar and tied his omophorion around the sorcerer's neck, leading him out of the church and into the city square. There he forced Heliódoros to confess all his wicked deeds. Then he commanded that a fire be lit, and jumped into the flames with the sorcerer. There they stood until Heliódoros was consumed by the fire. Saint Leo, by God's grace, remained unharmed. This miracle brought the Hierarch great renown during his lifetime, therefore, the Saint was invited to visit Constantinople by Emperors Leo IV (775 – 780) and Constantine VI (780 – 798), where he received many honors. Saint Leo reposed peacefully in 785.

After his death, a woman with an issue of blood received healing at his grave. The Saint's body was placed in the church of the holy Martyr Lucy (December 13), which he himself had built. Later on, his relics were transferred to the church of Saint Martin, the Bishop of Tours (November 11) in Rome.

Venerable Agathon, Wonderworker of the Kiev Caves

Saint Agathon of the Kiev Caves was a great ascetic, and he healed the sick by a laying his hands upon them. He also possessed the gift of prophecy and foretold the time of his own death. His memory is celebrated also at the Synaxis of the Monks of the Far Caves on August 28.

Beheading of Venerable Cornelius, Abbot of the Pskov Caves

The Hieromartyr Cornelius of the Pskov Caves was born in the year 1501 at Pskov into the noble family of Stephen and Maria. In order to give their son an education, his parents sent him to the Pskov Mirozh monastery, where he worked under the guidance of an Elder. He made candles, chopped wood, studied his letters, transcribed and adorned books, and also painted icons. Having finished his studies, Cornelius returned to his parental home with the resolve to become a monk.

Once, the government clerk Misiur Munekhin took Cornelius with him to the Pskov Caves monastery in the woods. The solemnity of services in the cave church produced such a strong impression on Cornelius that he left his parental home forever and received monastic tonsure at the Pskov Caves monastery.

In 1529, at the age of twenty-eight, Saint Cornelius was made igumen and became head of the monastery. While he was igumen, the Pskov Caves monastery reached its prime. The number of brethren increased from 15 to 200 men. This number of monks was not surpassed under any subsequent head of the monastery.

The activity of Saint Cornelius extended far beyond the bounds of the monastery. He spread Orthodoxy among the Esti [Aesti] and Saeti people living around the monastery, he built churches, hospices, homes for orphans and those in need. During a terrible plague in the Pskov region Saint Cornelius walked through the plague-infested villages to give Communion to the living and to sing burial services for the dead.

During the Livonian war Saint Cornelius preached Christianity in the occupied cities, built churches, and distributed generous aid from the monastery storerooms to the Esti and Livonians suffering from the war. At the monastery he selflessly doctored and fed the injured and the maimed, preserved the dead in the caves, and inscribed their names in the monastery Synodikon for eternal remembrance.

In the year 1560, on the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, Saint Cornelius sent a prosphora and holy water as blessing for the Russian armies besieging the city of Thellin. On that very day the Germans surrendered the city.

In 1570 when a See was established in Livonian Yuriev, a certain igumen Cornelius was appointed as Bishop of Yuriev and Velyansk (i.e., Thellin). Some have identified him with Saint Cornelius, but this does not correspond with actual events.

Saint Cornelius was a great lover of books, and at the monastery there was quite a collection of books. In 1531 his work entitled, “An Account of the Origin of the Pechersk Monastery” appeared. In the mid-sixteenth century the Pskov Caves monastery took over the tradition of writing chronicles from the Spaso-Eleaszar monastery.

At the start of the chronicles were accounts of the first two Pskov chronicles from 1547 to 1567. Besides this, Igumen Cornelius left behind a great monastery Synodikon for remembering the deceased brothers and benefactors of the monastery, and from the year 1588 he began to maintain the “Stern Book” [“Kormovaya kniga”: since the rear of a ship is called the stern, the sense of the title is “looking back in remembrance”]. He also compiled a “Description of the Monastery” and a “Description of the Miracles of the Pechersk Icon of the Mother of God.”

Saint Cornelius expanded and beautified the monastery, he further enlarged the monastery caves, he moved the wooden church of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste beyond the monastery enclosure to the monastery gate, and on its site he built a church in the name of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos in the year 1541. In 1559, he constructed a church dedicated to the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos.

The Caves monastery, on the frontier of the Russian state, was not only a beacon of Orthodoxy, but also a bulwark against the external enemies of Russia.

In 1558-1565, Saint Cornelius built a massive stone wall around the monastery, and over the holy gates, he built a stone church dedicated to Saint Nicholas, entrusting the protection of the monastery to him. In the church was a sculpted wooden icon of “Nicholas the Warrior.”

In the chronicle compiled by the hierodeacon Pitirim, the martyric death of Saint Cornelius was recorded: “This blessed Igumen Cornelius … was igumen forty-one years and two months. Not only as a monk, but also by his fasting and holy life, he was an image of salvation … in these times there was much unrest in the Russian land. Finally, the earthly Tsar (Ivan the Terrible) sent him from this corruptible life to the Heavenly King in the eternal habitations, on February 20, 1570, in his 69th year.” (This information is on a ceramic plate, from the ceramics covering the mouth of the tomb of Saint Cornelius).

In the ancient manuscripts of the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra it was written that Igumen Cornelius came out from the monastery gates with a cross to meet the Tsar. Ivan the Terrible, angered by a false slander, beheaded him with his own hands, but then immediately repented of his deed, and carried the body to the monastery. The pathway made scarlet by the blood of Saint Cornelius, along which the Tsar carried his body to the Dormition church, became known as the “Bloody Path.” Evidence of the Tsar’s repentance was the generous recompense he made to the Pskov Caves monastery after the death of Saint Cornelius. The name of the igumen Cornelius was inscribed in the Tsar’s Synodikon.

The body of Saint Cornelius was set into the wall of “the cave formed by God,” where it remained for 120 years without corruption. In the year 1690, Metropolitan Marcellus of Pskov and Izborsk, had the relics transferred from the cave to the Dormition cathedral church and placed in a new crypt in the wall.

On December 17, 1872 the relics of Saint Cornelius were transferred from the former tomb into a copper-silver reliquary. They were placed into a new reliquary in 1892. It is presumed that the service to the martyr was composed for the Uncovering of the Relics in the year 1690.

Hieromartyr Sadoc (Sadoth), Bishop of Persia, and 128 Martyrs with him

The Hieromartyr Sadoc, Bishop of Persia, and 128 Martyrs with him suffered in Persia under Sapor II. Saint Sadoc was successor of the hieromartyr Simeon (April 17). He once had a dream, in which Saint Simeon told him of his own impending martyric death. Standing in great glory atop a ladder reaching up to Heaven, Saint Simeon said, “Ascend to me, Sadoc, and be not afraid. Yesterday I ascended, and today you will ascend.”

Soon the emperor Sapor, renewing the persecution against Christians, ordered that Saint Sadoc be arrested with his clergy and flock. In all, 128 people were arrested, including nine virgins. They were thrown into prison, where they were cruelly tortured for five months. They were told to renounce the Christian Faith and instead to worship the sun and fire. The holy martyrs bravely answered, “We are Christians and worship the One God.” They were sentenced to beheading by the sword.

Saint Agathon, Pope of Rome

Saint Agathon, Pope of Rome, was the son of pious Christian parents, who provided him an excellent education. After their death, Saint Agathon distributed his inheritance to the poor and became a monk. His virtuous life could not remain concealed from people. In 679, he was elected as the Bishop of Rome, and he remained in this position until his death in 682.