Daily Readings for Saturday, April 22, 2023



Renewal Saturday, Theodore of Sykeon, Nathaniel, Luke, & Clemente the Apostles, Gregory Gravanos of Nisyros, Nearchos the Martyr


In those days, while the healed lame man clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s, astounded. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people, “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name, by faith in his name, has made this man strong whom you see and know; and the faith which is through him has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.”

JOHN 3:22-33

At that time, Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea; there He remained with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people came and were baptized. For John had not yet been put in prison.
Now a discussion arose between John's disciples and a Jew over purifying. And they came to John, and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you bore witness, here he is, baptizing, and all are going to him." John answered, "No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full. He must increase, but I must decrease.
He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth belongs to the earth, and of the earth he speaks; he who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony; he who receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.

Bright Saturday

The artos, which was blessed after the Liturgy of Pascha, is cut and distributed after Liturgy on Bright Saturday. The prayer read today speaks of Christ as the Bread of Life.

Saint Theodore the Sykeote, Bishop of Anastasiopolis

Saint Theodore the Sykeote was born in the mid-sixth century in the village of Sykeon, not far from the city of Anastasiopolis (in Galatia, Asia Minor), into a pious family. When his mother Maria conceived the Saint, she had a vision of a bright star shining over her womb. She consulted a clairvoyant Elder, who explained that this was the grace of God being poured forth upon her child.

When the boy reached the age of six, his mother presented him with a golden belt, since she wanted her son to become a soldier. That night the Holy Great Martyr George (April 23) appeared to Maria in a dream, and he told her not to seek a military career for her son, because the boy was destined to serve God. The Saint’s father, Cosmas, served as a messenger for Emperor Justinian the Great (527-565), but he died at a young age. The boy remained in the care of his mother Maria. His grandmother Elpidίa, his aunt Despoinίa, and his sister Blátta also lived with them.

In school, Saint Theodore displayed great apptitude in his studies, the most important being his rare gifts of reason and wisdom. He was quiet and mild, but he always knew how to calm his comrades, and he did not allow any fights or quarrels among them.

The pious Elder Stephen also lived at Maria’s house. At the age of eight, Saint Theodore started to imitate him, eating just a small morsel of bread in the evening during Great Lent. So that his mother would not force him to dine with everyone, the boy returned home from school only toward evening, after he had partaken of the Holy Mysteries with Elder Stephen. At Maria's request, the teacher began sending him home to supper at the end of his lessons. Saint Theodore, however, ran to the church of the Great Martyr George, where the Saint appeared to him in the form of a young man, and escorted him into the church.

When Saint Theodore turned ten, he fell deathly ill. He was brought to the church of Saint John the Baptist and was placed before the altar. The boy was healed by two drops of water which fell from the face of the Savior in the dome of the temple. At this time the Great Martyr George began appearing to him at night, and also leading him to his own temple to pray until morning. His mother, fearing the dangers of the forest, urged her son not to go out at night.

Once, when the boy had already left, Maria followed him to the church, dragged him out by his hair, and tied him to his bed. That very night Saint George appeared to her in a dream, and commanded her not to hinder the child from going to church. Both Elpidίa and Despoinίa had the same vision. It was then that the women recognized Saint Theodore’s special calling, and they hindered him no longer. Even his little sister Blátta began to emulate him.

When he was twelve years old, the Saint had a dream in which he saw Christ on the Throne of Glory, Who told him, “Struggle, Theodore, so that you may obtain a perfect reward in the Kingdom of Heaven. From that time, Saint Theodore began to intensify his labors. He spent both the First Week of Great Lent and the Week of the Veneration of the Cross in complete silence.

The devil set out to destroy him. He appeared to the Saint in the form of his classmate Gerontius, and urged him to jump off a precipice, but Saint George rescued him.

One another occasion, Saint Theodore went into the desert to obtain the blessing of the Elder Glykérios. There was a terrible drought throughout the land, and the Elder said, “Child, let us pray to the Lord on bended knee, asking Him to send rain. Then we shall learn whether our prayers are pleasing to the Lord.” The Elder and his disciple prayed, and all at once it started to rain. Then the Elder told Saint Theodore that the grace of God was upon him, and blessed him to enter a Monastery when the time came.

When he was fourteen, Saint Theodore left home and lived near the church of the Great Martyr George. His mother brought him food, but Saint Theodore left everything on the stones by the church, eating only a single prosphoron each day. Even at such a young age, Saint Theodore was granted the gift of healing. Through his prayers a demon-possessed youth was restored to his right mind.

Saint Theodore fled human glory and withdrew into complete solitude. Under a large boulder not far from the church of Saint George, he dug a cave and persuaded a certain deacon to cover the entrance with earth, leaving a small opening for air. The deacon brought him bread and water, but he told no one where the Saint had hidden himself. For two years Saint Theodore lived in seclusion and complete quietude. His relatives mourned him, thinking that he had been devoured by wild beasts.

At last, the deacon finally revealed his secret, since he feared that Saint Theodore would perish in the narrow cave, and he also felt pity for his mother Maria. Saint Theodore was removed from the cave, barely alive. His mother wished to take her son home and nurse him back to health, but the Saint remained by the church of Saint George, and after several days he was completely well.

News of the young man's exploits reached the local Bishop Theodosios, who ordained him to the diaconate, and later to the holy priesthood, even lthough the Saint was just seventeen years old. After a certain time had passed, Saint Theodore went to venerate the holy places in Jerusalem, and there at the Khozeba Lavra near the Jordan, he was tonsured as a monk.

When he returned to his native land, he continued to live near the church of Saint George. His grandmother Elpidίa, his sister Blátta, and his mother Maria entered a women’s monastery on the Saint’s advice. His aunt Despoinίa reposed there
in peace.

The ascetical life of the young Hieromonk attracted people who were seeking salvation. The Saint tonsured the young man Epiphánios, and later on a pious woman, whom the Saint healed of her sickness, brought her son Philoúmenos to him. Then the virtuous young man John also came to him. Thus, the brethren gradually gathered around the Saint.

Saint Theodore continued his strenuous ascetical labors. At his request a blacksmith made him an iron cage without a roof, so narrow that it was scarcely possible to stand. In this cage Saint Theodore wore heavy chains from Holy Pascha until the Nativity of Christ. From the Baptism of the Lord until Holy Pascha he secluded himself in his cave, from which he emerged only for Church Services on Saturdays and Sundays. Throughout the forty-day Fast the Saint ate only greens and bread on Saturdays and Sundays.

Living in such a manner, he received from the Lord the power over wild animals. Bears and wolves came to him and took food from his hand. By the Saint’s prayers, those afflicted with leprosy were healed, and demons were cast out from entire districts. In the nearby village of Magatia, when locusts threatened the crops, people turned to Saint Theodore for help. He told them to go to the church. After he served the Divine Liturgy for them, the villagers returned home and learned that all the locusts had died during the Service.

When the military commander Maurikios was returning to Constantinople by way of Galatia after fighting the Persians, the Saint predicted that he would become Emperor. His words came true, and Emperor Maurikios (582-602) granted the Saint’s request: he sent bread to the Monastery each year for the multitude of people who were being fed there.

The small temple of Saint George could not accommodate all those who wanted to pray in it. Then through the Saint's efforts, a beautiful new church was built. At that time, the Bishop of Anastasiopolis reposed. The people of the city asked Metropolitan Paul of Ancyra to install Saint Theodore as their bishop. So that the Saint would not resist, the Metropolitan's messengers and the people of Anastasiopolis dragged him out of his cell by force and carried him into the city.

As a Hierarch, Saint Theodore labored much for the welfare of the Church, but his soul yearned for solitary communion with God. After several years he went again to venerate the holy places in Jerusalem. And there, concealing his identity, he settled at the Lavra of Saint Savva, where he lived in solitude from the Nativity of Christ until Pascha. Then the Great Martyr George told him to return to Anastasiopolis.

Unknown enemies tried to poison the Saint, but the Mother of God gave him three small pieces of grain. Saint Theodore ate them and remained unharmed. Weighed down by the burden of being a bishop, Saint Theodore asked Patriarch Kyriakos of Constantinople (595-606) to release him to his own Monastery so that he might celebrate the services there.

Saint Theodore was venerated as a Saint, even during his lifetime. His sanctity was so evident that when he offered the Eucharist, the grace of the Holy Spirit appeared as a radiant purple light, shining on the Holy Gifts. Once, when the Saint elevated the diskos with the Holy Lamb and said: “Holy things are for the holy,” the Holy Lamb floated up in the air, and then settled upon the diskos once more.

In one of the cities of Galatia, a terrible event occurred: during a Church procession, the wooden crosses being carried began to strike each other by themselves. As a result, Patriarch Thomas (March 21) summoned Saint Theodore, asking him the meaning of this terrible portent. Having the gift of foresight, Saint Theodore explained that this indicated coming misfortunes for the Church of God (he was speaking of the future heresy of the Iconoclasts). In his grief the holy Patriarch Thomas begged the Saint to pray that he would soon repose, so that he would not have to witness the coming catastrophe.

In the year 610 the holy Patriarch Thomas reposed after asking for Saint Theodore's blessing. In that same year, Saint Theodore departed to the Lord.

Saint Theodore is also commemorated on June 15 (The Transfer of his relics).

Translation of the relics of Blessed Vsevolod (in Baptism Gabriel), Prince of Pskov

The Transfer of the Relics of Holy Prince Vsevolod-Gabriel of Pskov (1834): See February 11.

Apostle Nathaniel of the Seventy

Saint Nathanael, whose name means "the gift of God," was from Cana of Galilee (John 21:2). He was brought to the Savior by Phillip, as described in the Fourth Gospel (John 1:45-51). Christ calls him a true Israelite, which means "one who sees God." Nathanael was amazed when Christ says that He had seen him under the fig tree. Then He says that Nathanael will see even greater things; he will the heavens opened, and "the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

Saints John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, Epiphanios of Cyprus and other Fathers of the Church regard the Apostle Bartholomew (the son of Tholomai) as the same person as Nathanael. Thus, his name would be Nathanael, and his patronymic would be Bartholomew.

According to The Jerome Biblical Commentary (page 796), Nathanael was thought to be the same person as Bartholomew, because the latter's name followed Philip's in three lists of the Apostles (Matthew 10:2-5; Mark 3:14-19; and Luke 6:14-16). The Synoptic Gospels mention Bartholomew as one of the Twelve Apostles, but they do not mention Nathanael. On the other hand, Saint John's Gospel makes mention of Nathanael, but not of Bartholomew.

For the Life of Saint Bartholomew, see June 11.

Apostle and Evangelist Luke of the Seventy

The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke, was a native of Syrian Antioch, a companion of the holy Apostle Paul (Phil.1:24, 2 Tim. 4:10-11), and a physician enlightened in the Greek medical arts. Hearing about Christ, Luke arrived in Palestine and fervently accepted the preaching of salvation from the Lord Himself. As one of the Seventy Apostles, Saint Luke was sent by the Lord with the others to preach the Kingdom of Heaven during the Savior’s earthly life (Luke 10:1-3). After the Resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saints Luke and Cleopas on the road to Emmaus.

Luke accompanied Saint Paul on his second missionary journey, and from that time they were inseparable. When Paul’s coworkers had forsaken him, only Luke remained to assist him in his ministry (2 Tim. 4:10-11). After the martyric death of the First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul, Saint Luke left Rome to preach in Achaia, Libya, Egypt and the Thebaid. He ended his life by suffering martyrdom in the city of Thebes.

Tradition credits Saint Luke with painting the first icons of the Mother of God. “Let the grace of Him Who was born of Me and My mercy be with these Icons,” said the All-Pure Virgin after seeing the icons. Saint Luke also painted icons of the First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul. Saint Luke’s Gospel was written in the years 62-63 at Rome, under the guidance of the Apostle Paul. In the preliminary verses (1:1-3), Saint Luke precisely sets forth the purpose of his work. He proposes to record, in chronological order, everything known by Christians about Jesus Christ and His teachings. By doing this, he provided a firmer historical basis for Christian teaching (1:4). He carefully investigated the facts, and made generous use of the oral tradition of the Church and of what the All-Pure Virgin Mary Herself had told him (2:19, 51).

In Saint Luke’s Gospel, the message of the salvation made possible by the Lord Jesus Christ, and the preaching of the Gospel, are of primary importance.

Saint Luke also wrote the Acts of the Holy Apostles at Rome around 62-63 A.D. The Book of Acts, which is a continuation of the four Gospels, speaks about the works and the fruits of the holy Apostles after the Ascension of the Savior. At the center of the narrative is the Council of the holy Apostles at Jerusalem in the year 51, a Church event of great significance, which resulted in the separation of Christianity from Judaism and its independent dissemination into the world (Acts 15:6-29). The theological focus of the Book of Acts is the coming of the Holy Spirit, Who will guide the Church “into all truth” (John 16:13) until the Second Coming of Christ.

The holy relics of Saint Luke were taken from Constantinople and brought to Padua, Italy at some point in history. Perhaps this was during the infamous Crusade of 1204. In 1992, Metropolitan Hieronymus (Jerome) of Thebes requested the Roman Catholic bishop in Thebes to obtain a portion of Saint Luke’s relics for the saint’s empty sepulchre in the Orthodox cathedral in Thebes.

The Roman Catholic bishop Antonio Mattiazzo of Padua, noting that Orthodox pilgrims came to Padua to venerate the relics while many Catholics did not even know that the relics were there, appointed a committee to investigate the relics in Padua, and the skull of Saint Luke in the Catholic Cathedral of Saint Vico in Prague.

The skeleton was determined to be that of an elderly man of strong build. In 2001, a tooth found in the coffin was judged to be consistent with the DNA of Syrians living near the area of Antioch dating from 72-416 A.D. The skull in Prague perfectly fit the neck bone of the skelton. The tooth found in the coffin in Padua was also found to fit the jawbone of the skull.

Bishop Mattiazzo sent a rib from the relics to Metropolitan Hieronymus to be venerated in Saint Luke’s original tomb in the Orthodox cathedral at Thebes.

Saint Luke is also commemorated on October 18.

Holy Apostles of the 70 Apelles, Luke (Loukios), and Clement

Saint Apelles

Saint Apelles was an important figure in the early Church, who labored diligently to spread the message of the Gospel. His zeal led him to Rome, where he became a support for the faithful. He knew the Apostle Paul, who mentioned him in the Epistle to the Romans (16:10): "Greet Apelles, who is approved (or "has been tested") in Christ."

Saint Apelles is said to have died at Smyrna as a good soldier of Christ, laboring until his last breath to make firm the Gospel. Some say he was the Bishop of Heraklion in Trakhis.

Saint Luke (or Loukias)

Saint Luke, or Loukias (not the Evangelist), lived during the first century. Some lists of these Saints identify him as the Evangelist Luke, who was also one of the 70 Apostles, but Greek sources say he was someone other than the Evangelist Luke (άλλος του Ευαγγελιστή Λουκά). However, Saint Demetrios of Rostov, and Slavic Tradition say that he was the Evangelist Luke (See his Life on October 18).

Today's Saint was consecrated as the Bishop of Laodikeia in Syria, and completed the course of his life spreading the Gospel and caring for his flock, as a faithful servant of Jesus Christ.

Saint Clement

Saint Paul refers to Clement in his Epistle to the Phillipians (4:3). After mentioning the women Euodia and Syntykhe, who assisted him in proclaiming the Gospel, he speaks of Clement as one of his coworkers, "whose names are in the Book of Life."

Saint Clement later became a bishop at Sardika in Asia Minor. Eusebius mistakenly identified him with Clement of Rome (History of the Church 3. 15, 1). Today's Saint reposed after enduring many trials in order to strengthen his flock, and to hand down to them the truth of the Gospel.

Saints Apelles, Luke (Loukios), and Clement are also commemorated together on September 10.

Venerable Vitalius of Gaza

Saint Vitalius, a monk of the monastery of Saint Seridus, arrived in Alexandria when Saint John the Merciful (November 12) was Patriarch of Alexandria.

When he was sixty years old, undertook an extraordinary task: he wrote down from memory the names of all the prostitutes of Alexandria and he began to pray for them. He worked from morning to evening, earning twelve copper coins each day. In the evening the saint bought a single bean, which he ate after sunset. Then he would give the rest of the money to one of the harlots, whom he visited at night and said, “I beg you, take this money and do not sin with anyone tonight.” Then he stayed with the harlot in her room. While she slept, the Elder spent the whole night at prayer, reading the Psalms, and quietly left in the morning.

He did this each day, visiting all the harlots in turn, and he made them promise to keep the purpose of his visit secret. The people of Alexandria, not knowing the truth, became indignant over the the monk’s behavior, and they reviled him. However, he meekly endured their scorn, and he only asked that they not judge others.

The holy prayers of Saint Vitalius saved many fallen women. Some of them went to a monastery, others got married, and others found respectable work. But they were forbidden to tell anyone the reason why they had changed their life, and thereby stop the abuse heaped upon Saint Vitalius. They were bound by an oath they had made to the saint. When one of the women began to break her oath and stood up to defend the saint, she fell into a demonic frenzy. After this, the people of Alexandria had no doubt concerning the sinfulness of the monk.

Certain of the clergy, scandalized by the behavior of Saint Vitalius, reported him to the holy Patriarch John the Merciful. But the Patriarch did not believe the informers and he said, “Cease to judge, especially monks. Don’t you know what happened at the First Council of Nicea? Some of the bishops and the clergy brought letters of denunciation against each other to the emperor Saint Constantine the Great (May 21). He commanded that a burning candle be brought, and not even reading the letters, he burned them and said, ‘If I had seen with my own eyes a bishop sinning, or a priest, or a monk, then I would have veiled such with his garb, so that no one might see his sin.’” Thus the wise hierarch shamed the calumniators.

Saint Vitalius continued on with his difficult exploit: appearing himself before people under the guise of a sinner and a prodigal, he led the prodigal to repentance.

One time, emerging from an house of ill repute, the monk encountered a young man going there — a prodigal fellow, who with an insult struck him on the cheek and cried out, that the monk was a disgrace to the Name of Christ. The monk answered him: “Believe me, that after me, humble man that I be, thou also shalt receive such a blow on the cheek, that will have all Alexandria thronging to thine cry”.

A certain while afterwards Saint Vitalius settled into a small cell and in it at night he died. At that very hour a terrifying demon appeared before the youth who had struck the saint, and the demon struck the youth on the cheek and cried out: “Here is a knock from Saint Vitalius.” The youth went into a demonic madness. In a frenzy he thrashed about on the ground, tore the clothing from himself and howled so loudly, that a multitude of people gathered.

When the youth finally came to his senses after several hours, he then rushed off to the cell of the monk, calling out: “Have mercy on me, O servant of God, for I have sinned against thee.” At the door of the cell he came fully to his senses and he told those gathered there about his former encounter with Saint Vitalius. Then the youth knocked on the door of the cell, but he received no answer. When they broke in the door, they then saw that the monk was dead, on his knees before an icon. In his hand was a scroll with the words: “Men of Alexandria, judge not beforehand, til cometh the Lord, the Righteous Judge”.

At this moment there came up the demon-possessed woman, punished by the monk for wanting to violate the secret of his exploit. Having touched the body of the saint, she was healed and told the people about everything that had happened with her.

When the women who had been saved by Saint Vitalius learned about his death, they gathered together and told everyone about the virtues and mercy of the saint.

Saint John the Merciful also rejoiced, in that he had not believed the calumniators, and that a righteous man had not been condemned. And then together with the throng of repentant women, converted by Saint Vitalius, the holy Patriarch solemnly conveyed his remains throughout all the city and gave them reverent burial. And from that time many of the Alexandrian people made themselves a promise to judge no one.

Hieromartyr Savva (Trlajic) of Serbia

No information available at this time.

Hieromartyr Platon the Newmartyr of Banjaluka

No information available at this time.