Daily Readings for Friday, May 19, 2023



Patrick the Hieromartyr and Bishop of Prusa and His Fellow Martyrs Acacius, Menander, and Polyaenus, Our Righteous Father Memnonus the Wonderworker, Theotima & Kyriake the Martyrs


IN THOSE DAYS, some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up, and said, "it is necessary to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses." The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the early days God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God who knows the heart bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us; and he made no distinction between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will." And all the assembly kept silence; and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

JOHN 10:17-28

The Lord said to the Jews who came to him, "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father."
There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, "He has a demon, and he is mad; why listen to him?" Others said, "These are not the sayings of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?
It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life.

Hieromartyr Patrick, Bishop of Prusa, and his companions

Saint Patrick lived during the first century and was bishop of the city of Prusa in Bythnia (Asia Minor). He openly and boldly preached Christ the Savior, and denounced the error of the pagans. Therefore, he and the priests, Acacius, Menander and Polyainus were arrested, and brought to Julius, the prefect of the city for interrogation.

Julius was going to the hot springs for treatment, and he ordered that the Christian bishop and the priests be brought along after him, bound in iron chains. After he washed in the hot springs, Julius offered sacrifice to his gods. He had Saint Patrick and the other prisoners brought before him, ordering them to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, threatening punishment if they refused.

Saint Patrick replied, “I am a Christian and I worship the one true God, Jesus Christ, Who has created the heavens and the earth, and these warm springs for the benefit of all mankind.”

Julius had the saint thrown into the hot spring, and with firm faith the martyr prayed, “Lord, Jesus Christ, help Your servant,” and he remained unharmed.

In an impotent rage, Julius ordered Saint Patrick and his three presbyters beheaded. They received their crowns of unfading glory from Christ around the year 100.

Venerable Cornelius, Abbot of Komel, Vologda

Saint Cornelius of Komel was descended from the boyar (noble) family Kriukov. His brother Lukian served at the court of the Great Prince of Moscow. When Lukian, who was getting old, decided to go to the monastery of Saint Cyril of White Lake, he was followed by Cornelius, who longed for the solitary life from a young age.

After he was tonsured, the young Cornelius began his monastic endeavors with a difficult obedience: he wore heavy chains in the bakery. In his spare time he occupied himself with copying church books. Because of his love for solitude, Saint Cornelius later left the White Lake monastery, and he visited Rostov.

At Novgorod, Saint Gennadius (December 4) attempted to hold on to him, but the ascetic settled in a desolate spot near Novgorod. When people began to visit here also, he moved to the Tver Sabbatiev wilderness monastery. Later, in 1497, he settled in the Komel forest, not far from Vologda, where he built a cell. Monks began to gather around the cell of Saint Cornelius. In 1501 he built a wooden church in honor of the Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos. In that year Metropolitan Simon ordained him as hieromonk.

In 1512, when the number of brethren had grown, the saint built a stone church and he compiled a Rule for the brethren, based on the Rules of Saints Joseph of Volokolamsk and Nilus of Sora. This was the third monastic Rule written by Russian saints.

Saint Cornelius of Komel was distinguished by his charity toward the unfortunate, and during a famine he built an orphanage in the monastery courtyard. Because of his love for the poor and orphaned, Saint Cornelius was often granted visions of Saint Anthony the Great (January 17), for whom he had a special reverence. He constructed a church at his monastery in honor of this great ascetic.

The saint’s strictness of life provoked some of the brethren to grumbling, and Saint Cornelius was compelled to leave the monastery. He settled at Lake Sursk, 70 versts from his monastery. At times he also lived at the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra. Interceding for the monks of the Korniliev monastery, Great Prince Basil Ivanovich urged the saint to return to his own monastery. The ascetic gave in, and having returned to his own monastery, he transferred its guidance to his disciple Laurence and shut himself in his cell.

During a Tatar incursion into the Vologda region Saint Cornelius went with the monks to the outskirts of White Lake. The saint died at the age of eighty-two on May 19, 1537. Many disciples of Saint Cornelius were also glorified for their holiness of life: Saints Gennadius of Liubimograd (January 23), Cyril of New Lake (February 4), Herodion of Iloezersk (September 28), Adrian of Poshekhonye (March 5), Laurence and Cassian of Komel (May 16).

The commemoration of Saint Cornelius (May 19) was established on January 25, 1600 by Patriarch Job and a council of bishops. The Life of the saint was written by his disciple Nathaniel in the year 1589. There is a service and an encomium to the saint, and the Rule of Saint Cornelius has been preserved.

Saint Cornelius is also commemorated at the Synaxis of the Saints of Vologda (Third Sunday after Pentecost); and at the Synaxis of the Saints of Tver (the Sunday after June 28).

Venerable Cornelius, Abbot of Paleostrov

Saint Cornelius of Paleostrov and Olonets, born at Pskov, was the founder of monastic life on Pali island in Lake Onega at the end of the fourteenth century. Despite the desolation of the island, brethren soon gathered near him. He built for them a church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, and a trapeza church in honor of the holy Prophet Elias.

The saint spent the final years of his life in a cave half a verst from the monastery, in unceasing prayer. The ascetic added the wearing of heavy chains to his struggles.

The saint’s blessed repose occurred around the year 1420. His relics were transferred to the monastery church by his disciple, Saint Abramius of Paleostrov (August 21), who was also glorified by his ascetical life, and was buried in the Paleostrov monastery beside his Elder.

Right-believing John, Prince of Uglich, tonsured as Ignatius

The holy Prince John of Uglich was a devout and God-fearing Christian from his youth. He and his brother Demetrius were thrown into prison by their uncle John, and remained there for thirty-two years.

Before his death, Prince John received monastic tonsure with the name Ignatius. He was known as a wonderworker.

Venerable Sergius of Shukhtom

Saint Sergius (Stephen, in the world) was a Schema-monk of Shukhtom (or Shukhtov) Monastery, located in the village of Shukhtom 50 km from the city of Cherepovets. His Holy Relics were buried under the floor of the monastery church, which later became the Protection parish church when the monastery was abolished.

Some information about the devout and ascetical life of Saint Sergius is given in a lengthy inscription on his tomb. It states that on May 19, 1609, the Feast of the Holy Martyr Patrick, the Bishop of Prussia, the servant of God, Schema-monk Sergius, reposed during the reign of Tsar Basil IV Shuisky, when His Holiness Ermogen (February 17 and May 12) was Patriarch of Moscow. The labor-loving body of Saint Sergius was buried in the chapel of the church of the Life-creating Trinity and the Protection of the Theotokos at Shukhtom, in the region of White Lake.

The Saint was born and raised in Kazan, and from his youth he had a profound reverence for the monastic Life, but considered himself unworthy of it. He spent three years wandering through Palestine, Constantinople, and Greece, worshipping at the holy places, and learning about the monastic life in various countries.

He visited Orthodox shrines from the Holy Land to Solovki Monastery, and his life was very austere. He fasted constantly, allowing himself to sleep only while sitting. Therefore, he received from God the great spiritual gifts of unceasing prayer, clairvoyance, and working miracles.

In 1603, the man of God came to the Vologda region, where he was tonsured with the name Sergius by the Superior, Archimandrite Isaiah of the Cherepovets Monastery of the Resurrection. Later, Father Isaiah painted an icon depicting the Saint's tonsure.

Saint Sergius reposed on May 19, 1609 at the age of seventy-nine, after fifty years of asceticism.

Saint John, Bishop of the Goths in the Crimea

Saint John, Bishop of the Goths, lived during the eighth century. The future saint was born in answer to the fervent prayer of his parents. From an early age, he lived a life of asceticism.

The saint made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and spent three years visiting all the holy places. Then he returned to his native country. At that time the emperor Constantine Copronymos the Iconoclast (741-775) banished the Gothic bishop, and the Goths fervently entreated Saint John to become their bishop.

Saint John went to Georgia, which was isolated from the Iconoclast heresy. There he was ordained. Upon his return to the Goths he was soon compelled to depart from them. Hidden away from the pursuing Khazars, he settled at Amastridia, where he dwelt for four years.

Hearing about the death of the Khazar kagan (ruler), the saint said, “After forty days I shall go to be judged with him before Christ the Savior.” Indeed, the saint died forty days later. This took place when he returned to his people, in the year 790.

The saint’s body was conveyed to the Parthenit monastery in the Crimea, at the foot of Mount Ayu-Dag, where the saint once lived in the large church he built in honor of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

Saint John, Bishop of the Goths, is also celebrated on June 26.

Right-believing Demetrios Donskoy, Grand Prince of Moscow

The right-believing Great Prince Demetrios of Moscow was born in 1350. His father died when Demetrios was just a young child, and so he was entrusted to the guidance of Saint Alexis of Moscow (February 12). The holy Prince Demetrios combined Christian piety with his remarkable political talents, devoting himself to the unification of the land of Russia and to the emancipation of Russia from the Tatar-Mongol Yoke.

On August 18, 1380, after gathering his forces for a decisive battle with Mamai of the Golden Horde, Saint Demetrios visited Saint Sergius of Radonezh (September 25) in order to receive his blessing. The Elder blessed two monks from his monastery, Schema-monk Andrew [Oslyaba] and Schema-monk Alexander [Peresvet], to go along and help the Prince. He also predicted that Saint Demetrios would be victorious. The Prince left Moscow with his army on August 20, and marched toward Kolomna.

One day, as they made camp before the Battle of Kulikovo, an Icon of St. Nicholas appeared in the air, hovering over a pine tree, and it descended into the hands of Saint Demetrios. There is a later Icon depicting this event, with Saint Demetrios kneeling before the Icon of Saint Nicholas, and laying his gold crown at the roots of the tree.

One of those who fought in the Battle of Kulikovo was a Lithuanian Prince by the name of Montvid Montvilo, who saved the life of Saint Demetrios by shielding him from a Tatar sword with his own body. That night he beheld Saint Nicholas in a dream. The holy wonderworker told him that he had cushioned the blow because Prince Montvilo wore on his chest an Icon of Saint Nicholas, which was a family heirloom. In return for saving the Prince's life, Saint Nicholas told Prince Montvilo that one of his descendants would render great service to Russia.

Over the years, the Lithuanian name Montvilo became the Russian Motovilov. Alexander Motovilov, a descendant of Prince Montvilo, proposed and was rejected by his intended bride Maria, and so he entered a monastery. His obedience was to work in the prosphora bakery, but one day he felt so exhausted that he fell asleep at noon. Saint Nicholas appeared to him and said, "Alexander, your path does not lie in the monastery, but in family life. You will find your happiness with Maria, who turned you down. She will bear you a son, whom you shall name Nicholas. God requires him! I am Saint Nicholas, and I shall be the patron saint of the Motovilov family. I have been so since your ancestor, Prince Montvid Montvilo, served in the army of Prince Demetrios of the Don. During the Battle of Kulikovo, the Tatar warrior who struck down the monks Alexander and Andrew rushed at the Great Prince with his sword, but your ancestor took the blow, and the sword struck my Icon, which he wore on his chest. He would have been killed if I had not cushioned the blow, and then struck down the Tatar by Montvid's hand."

The Icon of Saint Nicholas, which was damaged by the Tatar's sword, was treasured as a holy relic in the family of George Nikolaevich Motovilov.

Nicholas Alexandrovich Motovilov was born on May 3, 1809, and reposed on January 14, 1879. His great service to Russia, of course, was to write down his conversation with Saint Seraphim of Sarov (January 2) about the aim of the Christian life, and how to acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit.

After winning the battle, the Prince ordered a Moleben of Thanksgiving to God and to Saint Nicholas to be served. Later, he built a church and a monastery dedicated to St. Nicholas on that site.

Following his victory at Kulikovo Field, between the Don and Nepryadva Rivers (on September 8, the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos), Prince Demetrios received the honorific "of the Don." He established the Dormition Monastery at the Dubenka River, and the church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos near the graves of those who died for their country. The Memorial Saturday before the Feast of Saint Demetrios of Thessalonika (October 26) was established in memory of the Orthodox warriors who were killed at Kulikovo Field in the great battle against the Horde.

Saint Demetrios fell asleep in the Lord on May 19, 1389. He was buried in the cathedral of the Archangels in the Moscow Kremlin.

Martyr Caluf of Egypt

The Holy Martyr Caluf the Egyptian lived during the third century, and was from the city of Thebes. For his confession of faith in Christ he was arrested and taken before the prefect of the city. He was suspended head downward, and received a cruel beating. The sufferer repeated, “I endure everything in expectation of the future life.”

They then untied him and urged him to offer sacrifice to idols, but the saint did not consent. Finally, he was thrown into a fire and surrendered his soul to God. This occurred in the year 303.

The holy martyr Caluf suffered during the persecution by the emperor Maximian Hercules, who ruled jointly with Diocletian (284-305).

Entrance of Saint Nino (Nina) the Enlightener into Georgia

The holy Apostles Andrew the First-called and Simon the Canaanite first preached the Christian Faith in Georgia in the 1st century, but at the beginning of the 4th century most of the country was still pagan.

After the Theotokos revealed God’s will for her future, the Equal-to-the-Apostles Nino set off for Georgia to enlighten the Iberian people. She arrived in Armenia with the holy martyrs and virgins Rhipsimia, Gaiana and their fifty companions. The holy virgins were martyred in Armenia and, according to God’s will, Saint Nino journeyed on alone to Lake Paravani, entering Georgia from the Javakheti Mountains. She arrived in the spring, but the weather was unseasonably cold.

The Apostolic Church of Georgia has honored the Entrance of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Nino as a major feast day. The Church also commemorates her on January 14, the day of her repose.

Martyr Theotime

There is very little information about Saint Theotime (Θεοτίμη) except that
she was beheaded ca. 311, thereby receiving an incorruptible crown from Christ.