Daily Readings for Wednesday, May 03, 2023



3rd Wednesday after Pascha, The Holy Martyrs Timothy and Maura, Peter the Wonderworker, Theophan, Bishop of Peritheorion, Xenia of Kalamata the Great Martyr, Father Theodosius, Abbot of Kiev Caves Lavra, Ahmet the Calligrapher & Martyr, Oikoumenios the Wonderworker, Bishop of Trikka


In those days, when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, "Give me also this power, that any one on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity." And Simon answered, "Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.
Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

JOHN 6:35-39

The Lord said to the Jews who believed in him: "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day.

Martyr Timothy the Reader and his wife, Maura, in Egypt

Saints Timothy and Maura suffered for the faith during the persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Saint Timothy came from the village of Perapa (Egyptian Thebaid), and was the son of a priest named Pikolpossos. He was made a reader among the church clergy, and also a keeper and copyist of divine service books. Saint Timothy was denounced as a keeper of Christian books, which the emperor ordered to be confiscated and burned. They brought Saint Timothy before the governor Arian, who demanded that he hand over the sacred books. They subjected the saint to horrible tortures for his refusal to obey the command. They shoved two red-hot iron rods into his ears, from which the sufferer lost his eyesight and became blind.

Saint Timothy bravely endured the pain and he gave thanks to God, for granting him to suffer for Him. The torturers hung the saint head downwards, putting a piece of wood in his mouth, and they tied a heavy stone to his neck. Saint Timothy’s suffering was so extreme, that even those who tortured him implored the governor to ease up on the torture.

About this time they informed Arian that Timothy had a young wife named Maura, whom he had married only twenty days before. Arian ordered Maura to be brought, hoping that with her present, they could break Saint Timothy’s will. Saint Timothy urged his wife not to fear the tortures, but to follow his path. Saint Maura answered, “I am prepared to die with you,” and she boldly confessed herself a Christian. Arian commanded that the hair be torn from her head, and to cut the fingers off her hands.

Saint Maura underwent the torment with joy and even thanked the governor for the torture, which she endured so that her sins might be forgiven. Then Arian gave orders to throw Saint Maura into a boiling cauldron, but she did not feel any pain, and she remained unharmed. Suspecting that the servants had filled the cauldron with cold water out of sympathy for the martyr, Arian went up and ordered the saint to splash him on the hand with water from the cauldron. When the martyr did this, Arian screamed with pain and drew back his scalded hand. Then, momentarily admitting the power of the miracle, Arian confessed God in Whom Maura believed as the True God, and he ordered her to be released. But the devil still held great power over the governor, and soon he again began to urge Saint Maura to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Having gotten nowhere, Arian was overcome all the more by a satanic rage and he came up with new tortures. Then the people began to murmur and demand a stop to the abuse of this innocent woman. But Saint Maura, turning to the people, said, “Let no one defend me. I have one Defender, God, in Whom I trust.”

Finally, after torturing them for a long time, Arian ordered the martyrs to be crucified. For ten days they hung on crosses facing each other.

On the tenth day of martyrdom the saints offered up their souls to the Lord. This occurred in the year 286. Later, a solemn celebration of the holy martyrs Timothy and Maura was instituted at Constantinople, and a church was built in their honor.

Venerable Theodosius, Abbot of the Kiev Far Caves Monastery, and Founder of Coenobitic Monasticism in Russia

Saint Theodosius of the Caves, was the Father of monasticism in Russia. He was born at Vasilevo, not far from Kiev. From his youth he felt an irresistible attraction for the ascetic life, and led an ascetic lifestyle while still in his parental home. He disdained childish games and attractions, and constantly went to church. He asked his parents to let him study the holy books, and through his ability and rare zeal, he quickly learned to read the books, so that everyone was amazed at his intellect.

When he was fourteen, he lost his father and remained under the supervision of his mother, a strict and domineering woman who loved her son very much. Many times she chastised her son for his yearning for asceticism, but he remained firmly committed to his path.

At the age of twenty-four, he secretly left his parents’ home and Saint Anthony at the Kiev Caves monastery blessed him to receive monastic tonsure with the name Theodosius. After four years his mother found him and with tearfully begged him to return home, but the saint persuaded her to remain in Kiev and to become a nun in the monastery of Saint Nicholas at the Askold cemetery.

Saint Theodosius toiled at the monastery more than others, and he often took upon himself some of the work of the other brethren. He carried water, chopped wood, ground up the grain, and carried the flour to each monk. On cold nights he uncovered his body and let it serve as food for gnats and mosquitoes. His blood flowed, but the saint occupied himself with handicrafts, and sang Psalms. He came to church before anyone else and, standing in one place, he did not leave it until the end of services. He also listened to the readings with particular attention.

In 1054 Saint Theodosius was ordained a hieromonk, and in 1057 he was chosen igumen. The fame of his deeds attracted a number of monks to the monastery, at which he built a new church and cells, and he introduced cenobitic rule of the Studion monastery, a copy of which he commissioned at Constantinople.

As igumen, Saint Theodosius continued his arduous duties at the monastery. He usually ate only dry bread and cooked greens without oil, and spent his nights in prayer without sleep. The brethren often noticed this, although the saint tried to conceal his efforts from others.

No one saw when Saint Theodosius dozed lightly, and usually he rested while sitting. During Great Lent the saint withdrew into a cave near the monastery, where he struggled unseen by anyone. His attire was a coarse hairshirt worn next to his body. He looked so much like a beggar that it was impossible to recognize in this old man the renowned igumen, deeply respected by all who knew him.

Once, Saint Theodosius was returning from visiting the Great Prince Izyaslav. The coachman, not recognizing him, said gruffly, “You, monk, are always on holiday, but I am constantly at work. Take my place, and let me ride in the carriage.” The holy Elder meekly complied and drove the servant. Seeing how nobles along the way bowed to the monk driving the horses, the servant took fright, but the holy ascetic calmed him, and gave him a meal at the monastery. Trusting in God’s help, the saint did not keep a large supply of food at the monastery, and therefore the brethren were in want of their daily bread. Through his prayers, however, unknown benefactors appeared at the monastery and furnished the necessities for the brethren.

The Great Princes, especially Izyaslav, loved to listen to the spiritual discourses of Saint Theodosius. The saint was not afraid to denounce the mighty of this world. Those unjustly condemned always found a defender in him, and judges would review matters at the request of the igumen. He was particularly concerned for the destitute. He built a special courtyard for them at the monastery where anyone in need could receive food and drink. Sensing the approach of death, Saint Theodosius peacefully fell asleep in the Lord in the year 1074. He was buried in a cave which he dug, where he secluded himself during fasting periods.

The relics of the ascetic were found incorrupt, and he was glorified as a saint in 1108. Of the written works of Saint Theodosius six discourses, two letters to Great Prince Izyaslav, and a prayer for all Christians have survived to our time.

The Life of Saint Theodosius was written by Saint Nestor the Chronicler (October 27), a disciple of the great Abba, only thirty years after his repose, and it was always one of the favorite readings of the Russian nation. Saint Theodosius is also commemorated on September 2 and 28.

Saint Peter the Wonderworker, Bishop of Argos

Saint Peter the Wonderworker, Bishop of Argos in the Peloponnesos, lived during the ninth and early tenth centuries, and was raised by pious parents. Saint Peter’s parents, and later his brothers Paul, Dionysius, Platon and Saint Peter himself, all became monks. Saint Peter zealously devoted himself to monastic labors, and he excelled all his fellows. This came to the attention of the Italian bishop Nicholas (who from 895 was Patriarch of Constantinople), who wanted to elevate him to the rank of bishop. Saint Peter declined, accounting himself unworthy of such honor.

Bishop Nicholas consecrated Paul, Saint Peter’s brother, as Bishop of Corinth, and Saint Peter went to his brother and lived with him, taking upon himself the spiritual struggle of silence. After a year emissaries came to Bishop Paul from the city of Argos, where the bishop had died, and they asked for Saint Peter as their bishop. After long and intense entreaties, Saint Peter finally gave his consent. As bishop, Saint Peter toiled zealously in guiding his flock. He was extraordinarily compassionate, concerning himself with those in need, especially orphans and widows.

The saint fed the hungry in years of crop failure. Through his prayers the food set aside for the hungry never ran out. The saint also ransomed captives, healed the sick and the afflicted, and possessed the gift of insight. The saint predicted the day of his death, and departed to the Lord at the age of seventy. His relics were transferred from Argos to Nauplos in 1421, exuding myrrh, and working miracles and healings.

“Svena” Icon of the Mother of God

The Svena Caves Icon of the Mother of God was painted by Saint Alypios of the Caves (August 17). In the Icon the Mother of God is depicted sitting upon a throne, and with the Divine Infant on her lap. Saint Theodosios is on the right side of the throne, and Saint Anthony of the Caves on the left. Until the year 1288 it was in the Kiev Caves Monastery, where it was glorified by miracles. In 1288 it was transferred to the Bryansk-Svena Monastery, which is dedicated to the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Prince Roman of Chernigov became blind while at Bryansk. Hearing about the miracles worked by the Icon painted by Saint Alypios, the prince sent a courier to the Monastery asking that the Icon be brought to him at Bryansk. A priest was sent with the Icon along the River Desna. After the voyage the boat landed on the right bank of the Svena River. After resting for the night, they went to the opposite shore by boat the next morning to pray before the Icon, but they did not find it there. They saw it on a hill on the opposite bank, resting in the branches of an oak tree. News of this reached Prince Roman, and they led him to the Icon on foot.

The prince prayed fervently for his sight to return. A Moleben was served, and the prince was able to see. In his gratitude Prince Roman vowed to build a wooden church in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. The tree on which the Icon had rested was cut down and used to make boards for other icons. At the same time, an annual commemoration of the Svena Icon was established for May 3. It is also commemorated on August 17 (the day of the repose of Saint Alypios the Iconographer).

The icon was glorified by healings of the blind and of the possessed, and has long been regarded as a protector from enemies.

Translation of the Dormition Icon of the Mother of God from Constantinople to the Kiev Caves, Far Caves

The Kiev Caves Icon of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos is one of the most ancient icons in the Russian Orthodox Church. The Mother of God entrusted it to four Byzantine architects, who in 1073 brought the icon to Saints Anthony and Theodosius of the Caves. The architects arrived at the monks’ cave and asked, “Where do you want to build the church?” The saints answered, “Go, the Lord will point out the place.”

“How is it that you, who are about to die, have still not designated the place?” the architects wondered. “And they gave us much gold.”

Then the monks summoned all the brethren and they began to question the Greeks, saying, “Tell us the truth. Who sent you, and how did you end up here?”

The architects answered, “One day, when each of us was asleep in his own home, handsome youths came to us at sunrise, and said, ‘The Queen summons you to Blachernae.’ We all arrived at the same time and, questioning one another we learned that each of us had heard this command of the Queen, and that the youths had come to each of us. Finally, we beheld the Queen of Heaven with a multitude of warriors. We bowed down to Her, and She said, ‘I want to build Myself a Church in Rus, at Kiev, and so I ask you to do this. Take enough gold for three years.’”

“We bowed down and asked, ‘Lady Queen! You are sending us to a foreign land. To whom are we sent?’ She answered, ‘I send you to the monks Anthony and Theodosius.’”

“We wondered, ‘Why then, Lady, do You give us gold for three years? Tell us that which concerns us, what we shall eat and what we shall drink, and tell us also what You know about it.’”

“The Queen replied, ‘Anthony will merely give the blessing, then depart from this world to eternal repose. The other one, Theodosius, will follow him after two years. Therefore, take enough gold. Moreover, no one can do what I shall do to honor you. I shall give you what eye has not seen, what ear has not heard, and what has not entered into the heart of man (1 Cor.2:9). I, Myself, shall come to look upon the church and I shall dwell within it.’”

“She also gave us relics of the holy martyrs Menignus, Polyeuctus, Leontius, Acacius, Arethas, James, and Theodore, saying, ‘Place these within the foundation.’ We took more than enough gold, and She said, ‘Come out and see the resplendent church.’ We went out and saw a church in the air. Coming inside again, we bowed down and said, ‘Lady Queen, what will be the name of the church?’”

“She answered, ‘I wish to call it by My own name.’ We did not dare to ask what Her name was, but She said again, ‘It will be the church of the Mother of God.’ After giving us this icon, She said, ‘This will be placed within.’ We bowed down to Her and went to our own homes, taking with us the icon we received from the hands of the Queen.”

Having heard this account, all glorified God, and Saint Anthony said, “My children, we never left this place. Those handsome youths summoning you were holy angels, and the Queen in Blachernae was the Most Holy Theotokos. As for those who appeared to be us, and the gold they gave you, the Lord only knows how He deigned to do this with His servants. Blessed be your arrival! You are in good company: the venerable icon of the Lady.” For three days Saint Anthony prayed that the Lord would show him the place for the church.

After the first night there was a dew throughout all the land, but it was dry on the holy spot. On the second morning throughout all the land it was dry, but on the holy spot it was wet with dew. On the third morning, they prayed and blessed the place, and measured the width and length of the church with a golden sash. (This sash had been brought long ago by the Varangian Shimon, who had a vision about the building of a church.) A bolt of lightning, falling from heaven by the prayer of Saint Anthony, indicated that this spot was pleasing to God. So the foundation of the church was laid.

The icon of the Mother of God was glorified by numerous miracles. Two friends, John and Sergius, sealed their friendship before it. After many years John fell mortally ill. He gave part of his wealth to the the Caves monastery, and he gave Sergius the portion for his five-year-old son for safekeeping. He also entrusted his son Zachariah to his guardianship. When Zachariah turned fifteen, he asked for his inheritance, but Sergius persisted in saying that John had distributed everything to the poor. He even went into the Dormition church and swore before the wonderworking icon that he had taken nothing.

When he attempted to kiss the icon, he was not able to come near it. He went to the doors and suddenly shouted, “Saints Anthony and Theodosius! Let me not be struck down for my dishonesty. Entreat the Most Holy Theotokos to drive away the multitude of demons which torment me. Let the gold and silver be taken away. It is sealed up in my granary.” Zachariah gave away all his inheritance to the Caves monastery, where he also himself was tonsured a monk. From that time, no one would take oaths before the wonderworking icon (March 24).

More than once the icon defended the land from enemy invasion. In 1677, when the Turks laid siege to Chigirin and danger threatened Kiev, they carried the icon around the city for almost the entire day of August 27. The Mother of God blessed Russian armies going to the Battle of Poltava (1709). In 1812 they carried the icon around Kiev again. The icon is commemorated twice during the year: May 3 and August 15 .

Saint Mamai, Catholicos of Georgia

Saint Mamai served as chief shepherd of the Georgian faithful from 731 to 744.

The information we have about his life is scarce, but it is known that Saint Mamai was abbot of Zedazeni Monastery and died a martyr for Christ.

Outstanding in his achievements and endowed with profound spiritual wisdom, Saint Mamai was enthroned as Catholicos of Georgia at a time when the catholicos and the Georgian king were frequently the first victims of invading armies.

Saints Michael and Arsenius of Ulompo, Georgia

The biographies of Saints Michael and Arsenius the Georgians have unfortunately not been preserved.

It is believed that at some point Arsenius moved from Khandzta Monastery to Palestine and labored there with a certain Macarius of Leteti. Afterward, Saint Arsenius founded a Georgian monastery on Mt. Olympus in Asia Minor. Twenty years later, Venerable Ilarion the Georgian arrived on Mt. Olympus and found three Georgian monks who were almost certainly disciples of Michael and Arsenius.

It is known that they were contemporaries of Patriarch Sergius of Jerusalem (843-859). The following entry is recorded in the synodicon of Jerusalem’s Holy Cross Monastery: “Our Holy Fathers Michael and Arsenius, founders of Olympus.” The record indicates that Saints Arsenius and Michael established Georgian monasticism on Mt. Olympus.

Located in Bythinia of Asia Minor, southeast of Prousa, Mt. Olympus was an important monastic center from the 5th to the 14th centuries. The monasteries of Olympus came to include the monastic communities on the plain of Prousa. The number of monasteries in the region is numbered at around fifty, their apogee occurring between the 8th and 10th centuries, when Olympus occupied the first place in the list of holy mountains. Monasteries in the region included Atroa, Chenolakkos, Medikion, and Pelekete.

According to Paul Ingorokva, a scholar of the Georgian Middle Ages, Arsenius was probably a disciple of Saint Grigol of Khandzta. Ingorokva calls Arsenius “a handsome gentleman, a kind monk full of wisdom, the son of a great nobleman, and a relative of Saint Ephraim, bishop of Atsquri.”

Saint Ekouménios, Wonderworker of Trikala

There is much disagreement about Saint Ekouménios (Οικουμένιος), concerning his identity and exactly when he lived.

According to prevailing opinion, Saint Ekouménios lived in the late X century (ca. 995). He studied all the Fathers of the Church and became an excellent interpreter of Holy Scripture. At the same time, he wrote Commentaries on the Acts of the Apostles, the fourteen Epistles of Saint Paul, as well as his seven catholic Epistles.

His contemporaries esteemed him for his blameless character and his excellent education. Thus, he was chosen for the episcopal throne of Trίkkē (in Thessaly), where he proved himself as a faithful Archpastor and disciple of the Lord Christ. He reposed in peace.

However, according to another strong and persistent local tradition, Saint Ekouménios lived in the IV century, as the learned Metropolitan Anthony of Larίsa mentions in the Encomium he wrote for Saint Ekouménios in the XIV century.

According to this Encomium, Saint Ekouménios was from Cappadocia, and was the nephew of Saint Achilles of Larίsa (May 15) and the cousin of Saint Rēgίnos, Bishop of Skopelos (February 25). He followed his Spiritual Father and teacher Achilles to Larίsa, and finally he was elected Bishop of Trίkkē, thus fulfilling his uncle's great desire to see him enthroned as a Hierarch. Both of them participated in the First Ecumenical Synod (in 325), where they performed a miracle to prove which was the true Faith (they made water gush forth from a stone).

Saint Ekoumenios reposed full of days, and was shown to be a wonderworker.

The honored relics of Saint Ekouménios were kept in a shrine in the church of the Archangel Michael, which was located in the fortress (Trikala).

In the village of Haϊdeménē, Trίkkē there is a church dedicated to Saint Ekouménios opposite Refuge hill, where according to Tradition Saint Ekouménios withdrew for solitude.

Holy Great Martyr Xenίa of Kalamata

The Holy Great Martyr Xenίa was born in Kalamata in 291 to devout and God-loving parents, Nicholas and Despina, who were from the eastern part of Italy. Because of the persecution of Christians at that time, they fled to Kalamata in the Peloponnesos, where they had a farm outside the city, because her father was a farmer.

From a young age Saint Xenίa adorned her soul with fasting, temperance, silence, unceasing prayer, tears, vigils, and charity. When Dometian, the eparch of that region, happened to meet the Saint, he was dazzled by her beauty and wanted to make her his wife. Saint Xenίa absolutely refused to change her faith, or to become the wife of an idolater. Then Dometian had her arrested. The Saint was tortured mercilessly and then beheaded in 318. Thus, she entered into the joy of her Lord and received an unfading crown of glory from Christ God.

Father George Nasis, the rector of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in New York City from 1942-1967 was praying one day when a beautiful woman appeared to him. She said her name was Xenίa, a martyr who had been forgotten for almost 1700 years. She asked him to paint an icon, depicting her holding a cross.

At first Father George did not mention this to anyone, thinking that perhaps people would mock him. Then he decided to inform the Archbishop. Researchers tried to find references to Saint Xenίa of Kalamata, but they were not successful. Finally, they found her name in a list of Saints, where she is described as a young woman with blonde hair and blue eyes.

By God's grace, the Saint has worked many miracles after her death.

In 1993, a new parish church of the Holy Trinity was built in the western part of Kalamata, which has a chapel dedicated to Saint Xenia.