5TH SATURDAY AFTER PASCHA
The Holy Martyr Thalleleus, Lydia of Philippi, Equal to the Apostles, Mark the Hermit, Father Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow, John, Joseph, and Nikitas the Monks of Chios
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 15:35-41
IN THOSE DAYS, Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Come, let us return and visit the brethren in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’ And Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp contention, so that they separated from each other; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
The Lord said to the Jews who came to him, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.
The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?" The Jews answered him, "It is not for a good work that we stone you but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God." Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, you are gods?' If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and scripture cannot be broken), do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming, ' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe my works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.
Unmercenary Physician Thallélaios at Aegae in Cilicia and his companions, Martyrs Alexander and Astérios
The Martyrs Thallélaios, Alexander, and Astérios lived during the reign of Emperor Numerian (283-284). The prefect Theodore of the city of Aegea in Cilicia sent soldiers out to search for Christians. They brought him an eighteen-year-old young man named Thallélaios. In answer to the prefect’s questions Saint Thallélaios said, “I am a Christian from Lebanon. My father, Beroukias was a military commander, and my mother was called Romylίa. My brother is a subdeacon, and I am studying medicine under the physician Makarios. During a former persecution against Christians in Lebanon, I was brought before the prefect Tiberius, and barely escaped execution. Now that I stand before this tribunal, you may do with me as you will. I want to die for Christ, my Savior and my God, and I hope to endure all torments with His help.”
The enraged prefect ordered the two torturers Alexander and Astérios to bore through the Martyr's knees, and pass a rope through the bone, and then suspend him head downward. But the executioners, by God’s design, bored into a block of wood, which they hung up in place of the Martyr. When the prefect Theodore saw that they had deceived him, he ordered that Alexander and Astérios be whipped. They confessed themselves to be Christians and glorified God, and so the prefect ordered them to be beheaded at once. Twice he attempted to carry out the execution and to bore through the Saint’s knees, but God's grace prevented him from doing so. Then he commanded that Saint Thallélaios be drowned.
Theodore's servants told the prefect that they had carried out the execution, but just as they finished their report, Saint Thallélaios appeared in a white garment. For a long time, everyone was numb with terror, but finally the prefect said, “Behold, this sorcerer has bewitched even the sea.”
Then one of his advisers, the magician Urbician, told the prefect to have the Saint thrown to the wild beasts. But neither the vicious bear, nor the hungry lion and lioness, would touch the Saint. Instead, all the animals meekly lay down at his feet. Seeing this marvel, the people began to shout, “Great is the God of the Christians. O God of Thallélaios, have mercy on us!”
The crowd seized Urbician and threw him to the beasts, which tore the magician apart. Finally, the prefect told his men to kill the holy Martyr with a sword. They led Saint Thallélaios to the place of execution, where he prayed to God, and then bent his neck beneath the sword. This took place in the year 284.
The Martyr Thallélaios was beheaded at Aegea, in the autumn of the year 284 (according to others in May of 289) and received the unfading crown of martyrdom. Some Monasteries celebrated the memory of Saint Thallélaios on September 3, while others did so on August 23, the day on which he was brought in for interrogation.
The relics of the holy Martyr Thallélaios were placed in the church of Saint Agathónikos in Constantinople and have worked many miracles. Saint Thallélaios treated the sick without payment, and for this reason, the Church calls him an Unmercenary Physician. He is invoked in prayers for the sick in the Mystery of Holy Unction, and during the Blessing of Water.
Portions of the Saint's holy relics are in the Monasteries of Dionysίou and Konstamonίtou on Mount Athos.
Uncovering of the relics of Saint Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow and Wonderworker of All Russia
The Uncovering of the Relics of Saint Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Rus. Before his blessed repose in 1378 Saint Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow, left instructions to place his body in the Chudov (Miracle of the Archangel Michael) monastery in the Kremlin. He designated a burial place outside the altar of the church, since in his humility he did not want to be buried in the temple. But the pious Great Prince Demetrius Ivanovich Donskoy (1363-1389), greatly esteeming the holy hierarch, gave orders to place the body of Metropolitan Alexis inside the church, near the altar.
On May 20, 1431 the stairway of the temple where the saint rested crumbled from old age. During the construction of a new temple, the incorrupt relics of Saint Alexis were uncovered. At a Council of Russian hierarchs the commemoration of Metropolitan Alexis was established on the day of his repose, February 12, and on the day of the uncovering of his relics, May 20. He is also commemorated on October 5.
In 1485, the relics of the saint were transferred into a church dedicated to him. At present, they rest at the Patriarchal Theophany cathedral in Moscow. The Life of Saint Alexis is found under February 12.
Blessed Dovmont (Timothy), Prince of Pskov
The Holy Prince Dovmont (Domant) of Pskov, prince of Nalshinaisk (Nalshensk), was a native of Lithuania, and at first he was a pagan. In 1265, escaping from internecine strife among the Lithuanian princes, he was forced to flee Lithuania and he arrived in Pskov with 300 families. The land of Pskov became his second country.
Here, in the expression of the Chronicler, “the grace of God was breathed upon him,” when he accepted Holy Baptism with the name Timothy and received the great gifts of the Lord. Within a year’s time, the people of Pskov chose him as their prince for his bravery and his true Christian virtues. For thirty-three years he ruled the city and was the only prince in the history of Pskov who died after living for so long in peace and in harmony with the Pskov veche (city-council).
He was just and strict in pursuing justice for others, he gave alms generously, took in the poor and strangers, he observed the church feasts, he was a patron of the churches and monasteries and he founded a monastery in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos.
After his marriage to the daughter of Great Prince Demetrius, the grandson of Saint Alexander Nevsky (November 23 and August 30), he became related to the Russian princely line. Prince Dovmont, like Saint Alexander Nevsky, was a glorious defender of the Russian Land. The prime importance of Prince Dovmont as a military leader and activist for the realm is that for many years he defended the northwest boundaries of the Russian realm from hostile incursions.
In 1268, Prince Dovmont was one of the heroes of the historic battle before Rakovor, where Russian forces won the victory over the Danish and German armies. Before each battle, Saint Dovmont went into church, set down his sword at the steps of the holy altar and received a blessing from the priest, who girded on his sword for him.
Saint Dovmont made the Pskov fortress impregnable. In memory of the glorious defender of the city, a stone wall, built by the holy prince beside the Krom at the end of the thirteenth century, was named the Dovmontov, and the territory enclosed by the wall, to the present day is called Dovmontov town.
The saintly defender’s “House of the Holy Trinity” was another pious matter. In gratitude to the Lord in Whose Name he had gained victory unharmed, holy Prince Dovmont built a church beside the Pskov Kremlin in honor of the feastday on which he won the victory. Other inhabitants of Pskov also built churches there in fulfillment of vows. The territory of present day Dovmontov town was completely covered with churches (the first temple in honor of Saint Dovmont-Timothy was built in Dovmontov town in 1574).
The brave warrior-prince won his final victory on March 5, 1299 on the banks of the River Velika, where he defeated a large German army with a small company. Meanwhile, the Livonian Knights unexpectedly invaded the suburbs of Pskov, they seized the Snetnogor and Mirozh monasteries and burned them, cruelly murdering the inhabitants. They killed the founder of the Snetnogor monastery, Saint Joasaph, and seventeen monks, and also Saint Basil, igumen of Murozh (March 4). Holy Prince Dovmont, not waiting to raise a large army, went to engage the enemy with his retainers and he expelled the sacrilegious defilers from the boundaries of the Russian Land.
Several months later, holy Prince Dovmont-Timothy died and was buried in the Trinity cathedral of Pskov. The Chronicler relates that “there was then great sadness in Pleskov for the men and woman and small children on account of their good lord, the noble Prince Timothy.” The people of Pskov remembered how the holy prince had cared for them during peaceful times, and when the city was threatened by danger, how he led them into battle saying, “Good men of Pskov! Whoever is old among you is my father, whoever is young is my brother. Stand fast for the Holy Trinity!”
Soon after the Prince’s death he began to be venerated as a holy intercessor before God, guarding the land from enemies and misfortune. The holy prince defended Pskov more than once after his death. In the year 1480, when more than a hundred thousand Germans besieged the city, he appeared in a dream to a certain citizen and said, “Take my grave cover, carry it three times around the city with a cross, and do not be afraid.”
The people of Pskov fulfilled his instructions and the Germans departed from the city. A service to the holy prince was composed after this miraculous deliverance from enemies. Along with the relics of the saint, his battle sword was preserved (now the sword is in a Pskov museum). Thereafter, the sword was handed to the Pskov princes upon their elevation to the princely throne.
Holy Prince Dovmont-Timothy and his wife, the future Schemanun Martha (November 8), were depicted upon the wonderworking Murozh Icon of the Mother of God (September 24): “You have bestown a blessing on the all-pure image of Your icon, O Mother of God, by portraying the likeness of our steadfast intercessor Prince Dovmont and his pious spouse” (Service to the holy Prince Dovmont-Timothy).
When the Mother of God appeared to the Elder Dorotheus during a siege of Pskov by the Poles on August 27, 1581, holy Prince Dovmont-Timothy was among the saints accompanying the heavenly Protectress of Pskov (the related account about the Pskov Protection Icon of the Mother of God is found under October 1).
The relics of holy Prince Dovmont-Timothy rest in the Pskov cathedral of the Life-Creating Trinity.
The holy Princes Vsevolod and Dovmont aided Russian armies more than once in defense of the country’s western borders. Then came the hour when they were sent by the Leader of the Heavenly Hosts to rise up in defense of the eastern frontiers.
In the year 1640, the great national movement to the east, “the meeting of the sun,” resulted in the Russian explorers arriving at the mouth of the Amur River and the Pacific Ocean. Rus bordered pagan China on these frontiers. The bulwark of Orthodoxy became the Russian fortress of Albazin, famous for the wonderworking Albazin Icon of the Mother of God (March 9) and the heroic “defense of Albazin” (1685-1686).
In the summer of 1679, during the Apostles’ Fast, Gabriel Florov and a company of cossacks set out from Albazin to explore the Zea River valley. For three years the cossacks did patrol duty on the Zea, making the rounds of the surrounding settlements. They brought the Tungus settlers under Russian rule, and they established winter quarters and a stockade.
Once, cossack riders encountered two men on white horses, clad in armor and armed with bows and swords. These were Saints Vsevolod and Dovmont. Speaking with the cossacks and learning that they were from Albazin, the holy warrior-princes predicted the approach of Chinese armies upon the Amur soon afterwards. They said the battle would be difficult, but predicted the ultimate triumph of Russian arms. “The Chinese will come again, and enter into a great battle, and we shall aid the Russian people in these struggles. The Chinese will not trouble the city.”
Several times during 1684-1686 the Chinese horde advanced towards Albazin, but did not take the city. By the miraculous help of the Albazin Icon of the Mother of God and the holy Princes Vsevolod and Dovmont of Pskov, the enemy was rendered powerless against the Orthodox fortress.
“The Account of the Miracles of Holy Princes Vsevolod and Dovmont” was written by Gabriel Florov at Yakutsk on October 23, 1689. The fealty of these saints has not ceased. New generations arise to change the face of the earth, but the Russian warriors Saints Vsevolod and Dovmont stand steadfast in sacred patrol of their country.
Martyr Asclas of Egypt
The Holy Martyr Asclas was a Christian, born in the city of Great Hermopolis (Middle Egypt). The saint suffered under Diocletian (284-305). Brought before the governor Arrian, Saint Asclas boldly confessed his faith and refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. The saint predicted to Arrian that there would come a time when he himself would be forced to call on Jesus Christ as the one true God.
By Arrian’s order, they began to torture the saint cruelly, they suspended him and raked him with iron instruments, so that pieces of his flesh fell to the ground. Saint Asclas quietly endured the torments. When one of those present said, “Look, he is already unconscious and near to death,” the holy martyr answered, “I have not lost consciousness, and unceasingly do I glorify my God and Savior.”
The governor Arrian gave orders to to resume the martyr’s tortures in the city of Antinoe, on the opposite bank of the Nile, where he himself soon intended to go. But the martyr prayed to God, beseeching Him to hold back Arrian’s boat until he confessed the Lord Jesus Christ before all the people.
The boat suddenly halted in the middle of the river, and not even oars could move it from the spot. Arrian ascribed the miracle to sorcery. In drawing up the sentence of the saint, the governor happened to say something about the one true God, and then the boat sailed on to shore. Going into the city, Arrian again gave orders to suspend Saint Asclas and scorch him with fire.
Finally, the saint was sentenced to be drowned in the river. The martyr said to the Christians accompanying him, “Strive, brethren, to receive the rewards of the Lord God. My children, come to the north part of the city in three days and find my body. Bury it with the stone that will be tied to it.”
The martyrdom of Saint Asclas occurred around the year 287, not far from the city of Antinoe. On the third day, Christians found the body of the martyr and buried it with the stone.
Glorification of Venerable Zabulon and Sosanna, parents of Saint Nino, Enlightener of Georgia
According to Holy Tradition, Saint Nino and Great-martyr George were blood relatives. At the same time as Saint George’s martyrdom, a certain nobleman, the servant of God Zabulon, arrived in Rome from Cappadocia. Zabulon began to serve in the emperor’s army, and before long he was widely recognized as a courageous cavalryman and a fine soldier.
During a battle with the Franks the Lord granted victory to Zabulon—he captured the Frankish king and his suite and delivered them to the Roman emperor. The emperor sentenced the captives to death, but before they were executed they confessed their desire to be baptized into the Christian Faith. Zabulon relayed this to the emperor, and Zabulon himself became their godfather. Then he pleaded with the emperor to have mercy on his godchildren, and the emperor set them free.
Nearly all the Franks were converted to Christianity as a result of Zabulon’s struggles on behalf of the Faith. A 9th-century Georgian hymnographer wrote, “Her father Zabulon converted Gaul with his sword, and blessed Nino converted Georgia with the Life-giving Cross.”
Some time later, Saint Zabulon journeyed to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage. While he was there he distributed all his possessions to the poor and began to serve Patriarch Juvenal of Jerusalem. There he met Sosana, the sister of the patriarch. Shortly thereafter they were joined in marriage by the patriarch.
The newly wedded couple moved to Cappadocia, where they had a baby girl whom they named Nino. While raising Nino, Saint Sosana served God and the needy with great dedication.
When Nino reached the age of twelve, her parents sold all their possessions and moved back to Jerusalem. With the blessing of Patriarch Juvenal, Zabulon departed for the wilderness to begin a life of asceticism. The place where he labored is known only to God. With the patriarch’s blessing, Sosana ministered to the poor and infirm. On December 10, 1996, the Georgian Orthodox Church declared Zabulon and Sosana, the parents of Saint Nino, confessors of the Christian Faith. Living during a time when pagan religions were still widely practiced and Christians were often persecuted, they converted many people and then abandoned worldly things to follow God alone.
Venerable Stephen of Piperi, Serbia
No information available at this time.
Saint Lydia of Philippi
While Saint Paul was at Troas, he beheld a certain Macedonian in a dream (Acts 16:9), who entreated him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” He heeded this voice as if it were the voice of God, and he decided to journey to Macedonia without delay, accompanied by Saints Timothy, Silas, and Luke.
They disembarked at Neapolis and made their way to Philippi. On the outskirts of Philippi, on the banks of a river, there was a Jewish place of prayer. It was the Sabbath and, to the women who had gathered there, the Apostle of the Gentiles preached the Word of God in Europe for the first time.
The God-fearing women listened to the words of this unknown Jew carefully and with reverence. The one who was most enthusiastic was Saint Lydia, a proselyte and a seller of purple from Thyatira. As she listened, the Lord opened her heart to heed the words that were being spoken by Saint Paul. When she heard him talk about the Messiah, she accepted the truth of what he said and she believed in Christ.
Saint Lydia and her entire household were baptized in the waters of the river. Thus, she became the first woman of Macedonia to be enrolled as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. Her heart was filled with gratitude toward those who had opened the eyes of her soul, and so she asked them to accept the hospitality of her house. “If you have judged me to be a believer in the Lord, come to my house and remain there.” And she insisted that they should come (Acts 16:15).
The Orthodox Church honors Saint Lydia as an Equal of the Apostles, and at the holy place of her baptism on the banks of the Zygaktos River, a baptistery has been built, which is similar to the early Christian basilicas of Philippi.
Saint Lydia is commemorated on March 23 (Slavic usage) and on May 20 (Greek usage). She was glorified by the Church of Constantinople on May 23, 1972.