RENEWAL FRIDAY: THEOTOKOS OF THE LIFE-GIVING SPRING
Renewal Friday: Theotokos of the Life-giving Spring, The Holy Hieromartyr Januarius and Those With Him, Our Holy Father Maximian, Patriarch of Constantinople, Theodore the Holy Martyr & his mother Philippa of Perge, Alexandra the Martyr, Anastasios the Monk of Sinai, Beuno, Abbot of Clynnog
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 3:1-8
In those days, Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful to ask alms of those who entered the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
At that time, Jesus came to Capernaum with his mother and his brothers and his disciples; and there they stayed for a few days.
The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; you shall not make my Father's house a house of trade." His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me." The Jews then said to him, "What sign have you to show us for doing this?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?" But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
Bright Friday: The Life Giving Fountain of the Mother of God
Today we commemorate the Life-Giving Fountain of the Most Holy Theotokos.
There once was a beautiful church in Constantinople dedicated to the Mother of God, which had been built in the fifth century by the holy Emperor Leo the Great (January 20) in the Seven Towers district.
Before becoming emperor, Leo was walking in a wooded area where he met a blind man who was thirsty and asked Leo to help him find water. Though he agreed to search for water, he was unable to find any. Suddenly, he heard a voice telling him that there was water nearby. He looked again, but still could not find the water. Then he heard the voice saying “Emperor Leo, go into the deepest part of the woods, and you will find water there. Take some of the cloudy water in your hands and give it to the blind man to drink.Then take the clay and put it on his eyes. Then you shall know who I am.” Leo obeyed these instructions, and the blind man regained his sight. Later, Saint Leo became emperor, just as the Theotokos had prophesied.
Leo built a church over the site at his own expense, and the water continued to work miraculous cures. Therefore, it was called “The Life-Giving Fountain.”
After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the church was torn down by the Moslems, and the stones were used to build a mosque. Only a small chapel remained at the site of the church. Twenty-five steps led down into the chapel, which had a window in the roof to let the light in. The holy Fountain was still there, surrounded by a railing.
After the Greek Revolution in 1821, even this little chapel was destroyed and the Fountain was buried under the rubble. Christians later obtained permission to rebuild the chapel, and work began in July of 1833. While workmen were clearing the ground, they uncovered the foundations of the earlier church. The Sultan allowed them to build not just a chapel, but a new and beautiful church on the foundations of the old one.
Construction began on September 14, 1833, and was completed on December 30, 1834. Patriarch Constantine II consecrated the church on February 2, 1835, dedicating it to the Most Holy Theotokos.
The Turks desecrated and destroyed the church again on September 6, 1955. A smaller church now stands on the site, and the waters of the Life-Giving Fountain continue to work miracles.
There is also a Life-Giving Fountain Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos which is commemorated on April 4.
Appearance of the Icon of the Mother of God “The Footprint” at Pochaev
On Bright Friday we commemorate the Appearance of the Icon of the Mother of God “The Footprint” at Pochaev.
In the year 1340, two monks came and settled in a cave on the hill where the monastery is now located. After reading his usual Prayer Rule, one of them went to the top of the hill, and and suddenly he beheld the Theotokos standing on a rock and enveloped in flames. He summoned the other monk, who also witnessed the miracle. A third witness of the vision was the shepherd John Bosoy. He ran to the hill, and the three of them glorified God. The Most Holy Theotokos left the imprint of her right foot on the stone where she had stood, and this filled up with water. Since that time, many people have been healed at this miraculous spring.
Hieromartyr Januarius, Bishop of Benevento, and his companions, at Pozzuoli
Hieromartyr Januarius Bishop of Benevento, and the deacons Proculus, Sossius and Faustus, Desiderius the Reader, Eutychius and Acution suffered martyrdom for Christ about the year 305 during the persecution ordered by the emperor Diocletian (284-305).
They arrested Saint Januarius and led him to trial before Menignus, the governor of Campagna (central Italy). Because of his firm confession of Christianity, they threw the saint into a red-hot furnace. But like the Babylonian youths, he came out unharmed. Then at Menignus’s command, they stretched him out on a bench and beat him with iron rods until his bones were exposed.
In the crowd were Deacon Faustus and the Reader Desiderius, who wept at the sight of their bishop’s suffering. The pagans surmised that they were Christians, and threw them into prison with the hieromartyr Januarius, in the city of Puteolum. At this prison were two deacons who had been jailed for confessing Christ: Saints Sossius and Proculus, and also two laymen, Saints Eutychius and Acution.
On the following morning they led out all the martyrs into the circus to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch them. Menignus claimed that all the miracles were due to sorcery on the part of the Christians, and immediately he became blinded and cried out for help. The gentle hieromartyr Januarius prayed for his healing, and Menignus recovered his sight. The torturer’s blindness of soul, however, was not healed. He accused the Christians of sorcery, and ordered the martyrs beheaded before the walls of the city (+ 305).
Christians from surrounding cities took up the bodies of the holy martyrs for burial, and those of each city took one, in order to have an intercessor before God. The inhabitants of Neapolis (Naples) took the body of the hieromartyr Januarius. With the body, they also collected his dried blood.
Since the fifteenth century, the blood liquifies when the container is placed near another relic, believed to be the martyr’s head. Many miracles proceeded from the relics of the hieromartyr Januarius. During an eruption of Vesuvius around 431, the inhabitants of the city prayed to Saint Januarius to help them. The lava stopped, and did not reach the city.
Hieromartyr Theodore of Perge in Pamphylia, his mother, Philippa, and Martyrs Dioscorus, Socrates, and Dionysius
The Holy Martyrs Theodore, his mother Philippa, Dioscorus, Socrates and Dionysius suffered during the reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) in Perge, Pamphylia. When they were conscripting robust and healthy young men for military service, then they led the youth Theodore and the others to the military commander Theodotus.
The military commander ordered the youth to offer sacrifice to idols, but the martyr submitted neither to persuasion nor threats. Then the military commander had him placed on a red-hot plate and poured liquid tar on him. Suddenly, there was an earthquake, and a torrent of water gushed forth from the ground and extinguished the fire.
The martyr Theodore remained unharmed, and gave praise to God. The commander ascribed his deliverance to sorcery, so Saint Theodore suggested that he test the power of his gods by putting the pagan priest Dioscorus through the same trials.
The commander told Dioscorus to lie upon the red-hot plate, and call on the help of Zeus. Saint Dioscorus replied that he believed in Christ, and he was prepared to throw the idol of Zeus into the fire. Again the military commander commanded him to get on the heated plate. Saint Dioscorus fell at the knees of Saint Theodore, asking that he pray for him. Then he got onto the plate, crying out: “I thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, that You have numbered me among Your servants. Accept my soul in peace.” Then he died, having been delivered from terrible torment.
They continued to torture Saint Theodore. They tied him to wild horses, which began to run. But at the city walls the horses fell down and collapsed, and the martyr Theodore remained unharmed. Two soldiers, Socrates and Dionysius, saw how a fiery chariot came down from the heavens to Saint Theodore, on which the martyr was carried off.
The astonished soldiers shouted: “Great is the God of the Christians!” They seized them and on the next day threw them into a fiery furnace with the martyr Theodore. But a heavenly dew cooled the furnace, and the saints remained alive.
In the morning, the military commander ordered soldiers to look upon the burned bodies of the martyrs. The soldiers returned and reported that the three youths were unharmed. Saint Theodore’s mother, Philippa, encouraged the martyrs in their act.
The military commander told Saint Philippa to save her son, by urging him to offer sacrifice to the idols. Saint Philippa said that when her son was born it was revealed to her that he would be crucified for Christ. Hearing this, the military commander commanded them to crucify Saint Theodore, and to cut off the heads of the other martyrs. Saint Theodore hung on the cross for three days, offering prayers to God until he finally died.
Martyrs Isaac, Apollos, and Quadratus, of Nicomedia
The Holy Martyrs Isaac, Apollos and Quadratus were pagans who served at the court of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They were among the spectators who witnessed the sufferings of the Holy Great Martyr George (April 23).
His faith, valor and miracles caused them to believe in Christ. The saints openly declared themselves Christians, and reproached the emperor for his impiety and cruelty. They were sentenced to death. The martyr Quadratus was beheaded with a sword, and the martyrs Apollos and Isaac perished by starvation (+ 303).
Saint Maximian, Patriarch of Constantinople
Saint Maximian (or Maximus) was born in Rome to wealthy and pious parents. He was a guiless man who preferred to live far from worldly vanity. He was also learned, intelligent, and was known for his many virtues, the integrity of his life, and his incomparable character. Because of his pure and holy life, Patriarch Sisinίos of Constantinople ordained him as a priest. At his own expense, Saint Maximian would pay for the burial of persons who were conspicuous for the holiness of their lives.
After the heresiarch Nestorios was deposed and exiled, Saint Maximian became Patriarch on October 25, 431, with the fervent support of both the reigning Emperor Theodosios the Younger (408-450), and the faithful people.
Saint Maximian reposed peacefully on April 21, 434 (Great and Holy Thursday).
The Recovery of the Relics of Saint Theodore of Sanaxar
The Relics of Hieromonk Theodore (Ushakov) the restorer of the Monastery, were recovered on April 21, 1999, and he was glorified for local veneration on June 28/July 11, 1999.
Present at the celebrations and the rite of canonization, which was performed by the ruling Bishop, His Grace Bishop Barsanuphios of Saransk and Mordovia, the Archimandrite of the Monastery, and ruling bishops from the neighboring dioceses: His Eminence Archbishop Seraphim of Penza and Kuznetsk, and His Eminence Archbishop Proklos of Simbirsk and Melekes.
Saint Theodore is commemorated on February 19, (the day of his blessed repose), on April 21/May 21 (the recovery of his holy relics), and on May 23/June 5 (the Synaxis of the Saints of Rostov and Yaroslavl).
The relics of Saint Theodore of Sanaxar now rest in the cathedral church of Saint John the Baptist.