Daily Readings for Tuesday, April 18, 2023



Renewal Tuesday: The Commemoration of Saints Raphael, Nicholas, Irene, and the Other Newly-revealed Martyrs of Lesbos, Holy Father John the Righteous, disciple of St. Gregory of Decapolis, Euthemios the Enlightener of Karelia, Cosmas, Bishop of Calcydon, John the New Martyr of Epiros, Athanasia the Wonderworker of Aegina


In those days, Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maid servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day. And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'”

LUKE 24:12-35

At that time, Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home wondering at what had happened.
And behold, two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see." And he said to them, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Bright Tuesday

Commemoration of Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of Lesbos

The Newly-Appeared Martyrs of Lesbos, Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene These Saints were martyred by the Turks on Bright Tuesday
(April 9, 1463) ten years after the Fall of Constantinople. For nearly 500 years, they were forgotten by the people of Lesbos, but “the righteous Judge… opened the things that were hid” (2 Maccabees 12:41).

For centuries the people of Lesbos would go on Bright Tuesday to the ruins of a monastery near Thermḗ, a village northwest of the capital, Mytilene. As time passed, however, no one could remember the reason for the annual pilgrimage. There was a vague recollection that once there had been a monastery on that spot, and that the monks had been killed by the Turks.

In 1959, a pious man named Angelos Rallis decided to build a chapel near the ruins of the monastery. On July 3 of that year, workmen discovered the relics of Saint Raphael while clearing the ground. Soon, the Saints began appearing to various inhabitants of Lesbos and revealed the details of their lives and martyrdom. These accounts form the basis of Photios Kontoglou’s 1962 book A Great Sign (in Greek).

Saint Raphael was born on the island of Ithaka around 1410, and was raised by pious parents. His baptismal name was George, but he was named Raphael when he became a monk. He was ordained to the holy priesthood, and later attained the offices of Archimandrite and Chancellor.

In 1453, Saint Raphael was living in Macedonia with his fellow monastic, Deacon Nicholas, a native of Thessaloniki. In 1454, the Turks invaded Thrace, so the two monks fled to the island of Lesbos. They settled in the Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos near Thermi, where Saint Raphael became the Igoumen.

In the spring of 1463, the Turks raided the monastery and captured the monks. They were tortured from Holy Thursday until Bright Tuesday. Saint Raphael was tied to a tree, and the ferocious Turks sawed through his jaw, killing him. Saint Nicholas was also tortured, and he died while witnessing his Elder’s martyrdom. He appeared to people and indicated the spot where his relics were uncovered on June 13, 1960.

Saint Irene was the twelve-year-old daughter of the village mayor, Basil. She and her family had come to the monastery to warn the monks of the invasion. The cruel Hagarenes cut off one of her arms and threw it down in front of her parents. Then the pure virgin was placed in a large earthen cask and a fire was lit under it, suffocating her within. These torments took place before the eyes of her parents, who were also put to death. Her grave and the earthen cask were found on May 12, 1961 after Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene had appeared to people and told them where to look.

Others who received the crown of martyrdom on that day were Basil and Maria, the parents of Saint Irene; Theodore, the village teacher; and Eleni, the fifteen-year-old cousin of Saint Irene.

The Saints appeared separately and together, telling people that they wished to be remembered. They asked that their icon be painted, that a Church Service be composed for them, and they indicated the place where their holy relics could be found. Based on the descriptions of those who had seen the Saints, the master iconographer Photios Kontoglou painted their icon. The ever-memorable Father Gerasimos of Little Saint Anne Skete on Mount Athos composed their Church Service.

Many miracles have taken place on Lesbos, and throughout the world. These Saints hasten to help those who invoke them, healing the sick, consoling the sorrowful, granting relief from pain, and bringing many unbelievers and impious individuals back to the Church.

Saint Raphael is tall, middle-aged, and has a beard of moderate length. His hair is black with some grey in it. His face is majestic, expressive, and filled with heavenly grace. Saint Nicholas is short and thin, with a small blond beard. He stands before Saint Raphael with great respect. Saint Irene usually appears with a long yellow dress reaching to her feet. Her blonde hair is divided into two braids which rest on either side of her chest.

Saints Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene (and those with them) are also commemorated on Bright Tuesday. Dr. Constantine Cavarnos has given a detailed account of their life, miracles, and spiritual counsels in Volume 10 of his inspirational series Modern Orthodox Saints (Belmont, MA, 1990).

The Appearance of the Ivḗron (Portaίtissa) Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos on Mount Athos

This Icon was the property of a pious widow who lived in the area of Nicaea in Asia Minor during the time of the iconoclastic Emperor Theophilos (829-842). When the Emperor’s men arrived there to find and destroy every holy icon, this faithful widow threw the wonderworking Icon of the Theotokos into the sea. Then she beheld a strange wonder. The Icon stood upright on the water and traveled westward across the waves in this position.

After a time the Icon arrived in front of the Ivḗron Monastery on Mount Athos. A certain ascetic named Gabriel took it from the water, and gave it to the monks. They built a small church for the Icon near the gate of the monastery, and placed the Icon there. From that time it was known as the Portaίtissa, or Gate-Keeper.

Since then the Most Holy Theotokos has worked many miracles through her holy Icon. She has cured those who were possessed by demons, healed those who were lame, and given sight to the blind. At the same time, she has protected the monastery from every danger and saved it from invasions of foreigners. Among those who received benefit from the Portaitissa was a Russian princess, the daughter of Tsar Alexei Michailovitch (1651).

The Icon arrived at the Holy Mountain on Bright Tuesday in 1004. Therefore, the Ivḗron Monastery celebrates this radiant festival even to the present day. The Divine Liturgy takes place in the church by the sea, where a spring gushed forth at the place where the Icon had rested.

The Ivḗron (Portaitissa) Icon is also commemorated on February 12, March 31, and October 13.

Ktitórissa or Bematárissa Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos of Vatopaidi Monastery. (Παναγία Κτιτόρισσα ή Βηματάρισσα)

When certain Arabs invaded Vatopaidi Monastery, Hierodeacon Savva, the Bematáris (custodian of the sanctuary) was responsible for the sacred relics and other valuables kept there. He managed to hide the Icon and Constantine's Cross in a well of the Holy Altar, with an oil lamp burning before them. The monastery was looted and the monks were taken captive and brought to Crete. Seventy years later, Hierodeacon Savva was released and he returned to his monastery. There he found some young monks whom he didn't know, and they knew nothing about the hidden relics. Then they uncovered the well and discovered the Icon and the Cross standing upright upon the water, with the oil lamp still burning!

Today the Ktitórissa Icon is in the synthronon (stone seats behind the altar) of the Holy Sanctuary, and it is also called the Foundress, or Builder, because her discovery may be related to the rebuilding of the monastery by three brothers (the monks Athanasios, Nicholas and Anthony) who lived there around the end of the X century.

In memory of this event, the Paraklesis (Canon of Supplication) to the Theotokos is sung every Monday evening, and the Divine Liturgy is served every Tuesday morning in the katholikon. The Ktitórissa Icon is honored on Bright Tuesday, when it is taken around the Monastery in procession.

The Martyrs of Saint David of Garesja Monastery in Georgia in 1616 (also April 4)

Venerable Patápios, Nikon, and Hypomonḗ.

These Saints struggled in a cave where the Monastery of Saint Patápios was built (in the metropolis of Corinth). There the skulls of Saint Patápios the New and Saint Hypomonḗ are treasured, and also the jaw of Saint Nikon the New. These holy relics were placed in silver reliquaries by the Most Reverend Metropolitan Panteleimon (Karanikola).

Saint Patápios is also commemorated on December 8.

Venerable John, disciple of Venerable Gregory of Decapolis

Saint John was born at the end of the eighth century. At a young age he became a disciple of Saint Gregory of Decapolis (November 20) and accepted monastic tonsure from him at a monastery in Thessalonica. Under the guidance of this experienced teacher, Saint John attained great spiritual perfection.

When the emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820) renewed the persecution against Orthodox Christians because they venerated the holy icons, Saint Gregory of Decapolis and Saint Joseph the Hymnographer (April 4) and his disciple Saint John went from Thessalonica to Constantinople, to raise opposition to the Iconoclast heresy.

In spite of persecution, Saints Gregory and John fearlessly defended Orthodoxy for several years, and preached the veneration of icons. After many hardships Saint Gregory died (around 820), and soon after, his faithful disciple John also departed to the Lord. Saint Joseph the Hymnographer transferred the relics of Saints Gregory and John and placed them in the church of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker.

Martyr Victor, and his companions, of Nicomedia

The Holy Martyrs Victor, Zoticus, Acindynus, Zeno, Severian and Caesarius suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) when he began a fierce persecution against Christians. One of the first to suffer was the holy Great Martyr and Victory-Bearer George (April 23). Saint George’s unshakable faith and bravery during his suffering led many pagans to Christ.

The saints were struck with astonishment that Saint George suffered no harm from the wheel of torture, and they declared in the hearing of all that they also believed in Christ. At the judge’s order, the holy martyrs were beheaded at Nicomedia in 303.

Saint Cosmas, Bishop of Chalcedon, and his fellow ascetic, Saint Auxentius

Saint Cosmas, Bishop of Chalcedon, and his companion Saint Auxentius, lived during the ninth century, at a time when the Iconoclasts oppressed the Orthodox. Saint Cosmas while still in his youth had entered a monastery and received monastic tonsure. Later, he was consecrated as Bishop of Chalcedon, and zealously defended the Orthodox Faith against the Iconoclast heretics. Saint Auxentius helped the saint in this struggle.

The Iconoclasts tried in many ways to win the saint over to their side, but he remained faithful to Orthodoxy until the very end. Saint Cosmas did not obey the decree of Emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820) ordering the removal of the holy icons from the churches. For this he was expelled from his See and exiled to prison.

When the saint returned from exile, he and Saint Auxentius continued to defend the veneration of holy icons. At the end of the persecution, Saint Cosmas was weak in body, but remained strong in spirit. Saint Cosmas and Saint Auxentius steadfastly preserved the Orthodox Faith until the end of their lives.

New Martyr John the New of Epirus

The holy martyr John Kulikos was born in the Greek district of Epirus, in the city of Ioannina. His parents were pious, but he was orphaned at an early age, and he went to Constantinople. With the means left him by his parents, he built a small stall in the city bazaar and was occupied with trade.

He loved to work, he honorably filled all his orders, and his business was successful. However, his soul did not yearn for earthly blessings, but for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Saint John lived during difficult times. Constantinople was under the dominion of the Turks, and Christians were subjected to oppressions. Many Christian tradesmen and merchants went over to the Moslem religion. Saint John reproached them for their betrayal of Christ, and he also sustained the unwavering in their faith. The apostates were filled with hatred for Saint John, and they desired his ruin. The saint knew this, but was not afraid. He was willing to suffer for Christ.

On Great and Holy Friday he went to his spiritual Father and asked his blessing to seek martyrdom. The priest counselled the youth to examine himself and to prepare himself by fasting and prayer, so that at the time of torture he would not deny Christ. Saint John prayed ardently to the Lord to strengthen him. At night on Great and Holy Saturday he saw himself in a dream, standing in a fiery furnace and singing praises to the Lord. Interpreting this vision as an indication to go to martyrdom, Saint John received the Holy Mysteries and asked the priest’s blessing.

When Saint John arrived at the market, the vexed tradesmen began to reproach him that he had promised to renounce Christ, but that he was not fulfilling his word. In reply, the martyr declared that he was a Christian and had never renounced, nor would he ever renounce Christ.

Then the envious merchants had him arrested. The judge tried to persuade Saint John to accept Islam, for he respected him as a skilled master craftsman. But the martyr steadfastly confessed himself a Christian. For several days, they wearied him with hunger and thirst, and beat him without mercy. They sentenced the martyr to be burned alive.

Saint John met his sentence with joy. When they led him to the blazing fire, he went boldly into the midst of the flames. The torturers, seeing that Saint John was prepared to die in the fire, pulled him out and beheaded him with the sword (+ 1526). They then threw the martyr’s head and body into the fire.

Christians gathered up the bones of the martyr which remained from the fire, and reverently brought them to the cathedral church.

Venerable Euthymius, Enlightener of Karelia, Finland and the Righteous Anthony and Felix

According to an ancient manuscript Hemerologion (Ημερολογιον), Saint Euthymios was born in the
second half of the XIV century. From his youth, he felt drawn to the monastic life, so when he reached adulthood, he travelled north around the year 1400, in order to live as an Anchorite. Later, about 1410, several disciples came to him, begging him to guide them in the monastic life. On the shores of the White Sea in Karelia, 34 versts from Archangelsk, they built a monastery dedicated to the Holy Wonderworker Saint Nicholas of Myra in Lycia (December 6), with cells for the monks.

At first, nothing seemed to go well for the monks, who had settled in an area inhabited by pagans. Saint Euthymius knew, however, that in the place where they labored, one day the monastic life would be firmly established, and the Faith would flourish.

In 1418, the Venerable Anthony and Felix, the two devout sons of Martha Boretska, the wife of a government official (посадница) from Novgorod, were drowned at the mouth of the North Dvina River while exploring the land. These young brothers were buried at Saint Nicholas monastery. In life, they were distinguished for their works of charity, and their grief-stricken mother asked Saint Euthymius to pray for the sons who had been taken from her. Subsequently, their names were included in the manuscript Lives of the Saints of Saint Nicholas Monastery.

In 1419, the monastery was destroyed by Norwegian invaders, who descended upon the monastery, burned the church, and killed several of the monks. Saint Euthymius decided that he would rebuild the monastery, and Martha Boretska gave a large sum of money for the monastery to be rebuilt over the graves of her sons.

Saint Euthymius reposed peacefully in 1435, and was buried at the monastery in Karelia, as were his disciples Stephen the Ascetic, Isaiah, and Nikanor.

In 1641, Saint Euthymios of Karelia was glorified for his apostolic labors in Karelia, and his holy relics were uncovered in 1647. Now they rest in a hidden place within the monastery.

A Church Service has been composed for Saints Euthymius, Anthony and Felix. They are commemorated on April 18, and again on May 21, the Synaxis of All Saints of Karelia.

“Maximov” Icon of the Mother of God

The Saint Maximus Icon is in the cathedral church of the city of Vladimir. Metropolitan Maximus (December 6), a Greek by birth, painted the Icon in 1299, as he was told to do in a vision while he slept in his cell. When St. Maximus arrived in Vladimir from Kiev, the Mother of God appeared to him in a dream and gave him an omophorion saying, "My servant Maximus, it is good that you have come to visit my city. Take this omophorion and shepherd the rational flock of my city."

When he awoke, he found he was holding an omophorion. The appearance of the Mother of God was regarded as a sign of approval for the transfer of the metropolitan See from Kiev to Vladimir.

A description of this vision was inscribed on the left side of his crypt. The Mother of God is shown in full stature, holding the Divine Child on her left arm. With her right hand, she offers the omophorion to Saint Maximus, who is standing on a pillar. The contrast in the size of their figures is meant to show the difference in their spiritual states. A variant Icon depicts Saint Maximus kneeling at the feet of the Theotokos.

Later, a golden coffer was made, and the omophorion was placed inside. This omophorion was kept in the Vladimir cathedral as a relic for 112 years. It was hidden by the cathedral’s doorkeeper Patrick in 1412 during an invasion by the Tartars, Patrick was killed when he refused to show them where the cathedral's treasures were hidden. The coffer has not yet been found.

This Icon, which measures five feet by two and a half feet, has been glorified by many miracles.

Saint Basil Ratishvili of Georgia

Saint Basil Ratishvili, one of the most prominent figures of the 13th-century Church, was the uncle of Catholicos Ekvtime III. He labored with the other Georgian fathers at the Ivḗron Monastery on Mt. Athos. Endowed with the gift of prophecy, Saint Basil beheld a vision in which the Most Holy Theotokos called upon him to censure King Demetre’s impious rule. (This is actually Saint Demetre the Devoted, who in his youth lived profligately but later laid down his life for his nation.)

Having arrived in Georgia and been brought before the king, the God-fearing father denounced the sovereign’s uncrowned marriage [i.e., a conjugal union without the blessing of the Church]. He promised the king that if he abandoned his present way of life, he would find great happiness and success. Saint Basil also condemned the ungodly ways of Georgia’s apostate feudal lords.

But the king and his court disregarded the virtuous elder’s admonitions, and in response Saint Basil prophesied: “A vicious enemy will kill you, and your kingdom will remain without refuge. Your children will be scattered, your kingdom conquered, and all your wealth seized. Know that, according to the will of the Most Holy Theotokos, everything I have told you will come to pass unless you repent and turn from this way of life. Now I will depart from you in peace.”

Saint Basil returned to Mt. Athos and peacefully reposed at the Ivḗron Monastery.

His vision was fulfilled.