THIRD FINDING OF THE PRECIOUS HEAD OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Third Finding of the Precious Head of St. John the Baptist, Carpos and Alphaeus, Apostles of the 70, Alexandros the New Martyr of Thessaloniki, George the New of Sofia, Augustine, Archbishop of Canterbury
ST. PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 4:6-15
Brethren, it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness, " who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, "I believed, and so I spoke, " we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
At that time, when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.” As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way before you.’ Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has been coming violently and men of violence take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Apostle Carpus of the Seventy
Saint Carpus was one of the Seventy Apostles chosen and sent forth to preach by Christ (Luke 10:1). He was bishop of Verria in Macedonia.
Apostle Alphaeus of the Seventy
The Holy Apostle Alphaeus of the Seventy came from the Galilean city of Capernaum and was the father of the Apostles James and Matthew.
Greatmartyr George the New at Sofia, Bulgaria
The Holy Martyr George the New was born into an illustrious Bulgarian family, living in the capital city of Bulgaria, Sredets (now the city of Sofia). Saint George’s childless parents, John and Mary, in their declining years entreated the Lord to send them a child. Their prayer was answered, and they baptized the infant with the name of the holy Great Martyr George (April 23).
Young George received a fine upbringing, he attentively studied the Holy Scriptures, and he was pious and chaste. His parents died when George was twenty-five. At that time Bulgaria found itself under the rule of the Turks, who forcibly converted Christians to Islam.
Once, several Moslems tried to convert George. They put a fez on the saint’s head. This is a red circular hat which Moslems wear to enter their house of prayer. But George threw the fez on the ground. The Turks brought the martyr to their governor with beatings and abuse.
The governor was impressed with Saint George’s appearance and bearing, and he urged him to accept Islam, promising honors and wealth from Sultan Selim (1512-1520). The saint boldly and steadfastly confessed his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and reproached the errors of Islam. The governor in a rage gave orders to beat Saint George with rods, but the saint persevered in his confession of faith in Christ.
The governor ordered the tortures to be increased. The passion-bearer bore all his sufferings, calling on the Lord Jesus Christ for help. Then they led the martyr through the city to the beat of a drum and shouts: “Do not insult Mohammed nor abase the Moslem faith”.
Finally, a large fire was lit in the city, to burn Saint George. Weakened by his wounds, the saint fell to the ground. They threw him into the fire still alive, and they threw corpses of dogs on top of him so that Christians would not be able to find the relics of the martyr.
Suddenly, a heavy rain fell and extinguished the fire. With the onset of darkness, the place where the body of the martyr was thrown was illumined with a bright light. They gave permission to a certain Christian priest to take the venerable relics of the martyr for burial. Informed about the occurrence, Metropolitan Jeremiah and his clergy went to the place of execution. In the ashes of the fire they located the body of the holy Martyr George and carried it to the church of Saint George the Great Martyr in the city of Sredets.
On May 26, 1515 the holy relics of Saint George were removed from the grave, placed in a coffin, and then brought into the church, where they have remained ever since. The Church honors Saint George twice during the year: on February 11, the day of his martyrdom, and on May 26, the uncovering of his holy relics.
Uncovering of the relics of Venerable Macarius, Abbot of Kalyazin
The Uncovering of the Relics of Saint Macarius of Kalyazin occurred on May 26, 1521. A merchant from the city of Dmitrov, Michael Voronkov, offered the means for the construction of a stone church to replace the decaying wooden one at the Kalyazin monastery.
The igumen of the monastery, Joasaph, set up a cross at the spot designated for the altar, and gave a blessing to dig the trench for the foundation. During the work a grave was discovered, exuding an ineffable fragrance. Igumen Joasaph immediately recognized the grave of the monastery’s founder, Saint Macarius, who reposed in the year 1483.
The brethren of the monastery and a crowd of people sang a Panikhida during the transfer of the coffin to the church. From that day the incorrupt relics of the saint began to work healings. A report about this was made to Metropolitan Daniel of Moscow (1522-1539), who convened a Council at Moscow. After examining testimony about the sanctity of Macarius, he established a Feast day for the newly-appeared saint. The relics were solemnly transferred to the church of the Holy Trinity.
Theodosius of Tver composed the service for the Uncovering of the Relics. Until 1547, Saint Macarius was venerated only at this monastery. During the Moscow Council of 1547 under Metropolitan Macarius (1543-1564), Saint Macarius of Kalyazin was numbered among the saints, and his name added to the calendar of other Russian saints to be celebrated throughout all of Russia.
The Life of Saint Macarius of Kalyazin is found under March 17, the day of his blessed repose.
Martyrs Abercius and Helen, children of the Apostle Alphæus
According to Tradition, the Holy Martyrs Abercius and Helen were children of the holy Apostle Alphaeus. For confessing his faith in Christ, Saint Abercius was tied naked to a beehive and died from the bees’ sting. For confessing her faith in Christ, Saint Helen was pelted with stones.
Venenerable Confessor John Psykhaϊtēs
The Venerable Confessor John Psykhaϊtēs lived at the end of the VIII or the beginning of the IX century. Nothing is known about his early life, but he lived during the reign of Emperor Leo V (813 – 820). As a young man, he forsook the world and became a monk at the Psykhaϊtē Monastery (in the suburbs of Constantinople). The Saint was an ascetic who subdued the desires of the flesh by fasting, prayer, and austerity. Because of his holy life and deeds, he received from God the gift of casting out demons and healing diseases. The iconoclast heresy was raging at that time, and those who venerated holy icons were subjected to persecution.
Saint John was led away for interrogation, and they tried to force him to sign a document repudiating the veneration of the holy icons. Instead of repudiating the holy icons, the Saint denounced his persecutors, calling Emperor Leo the Isaurian (813 – 820) a heretic; therefore, he was sent into exile. He was a vigorous defender of the holy icons, and he fought against the impious iconoclasts. For this reason, he was arrested and exiled many times.
After every persecution, he returned more energetic and more aggressive than before, defeating the audacity of the iconoclasts, who despised the revered image of Christ. Saint John had tremendous spiritual strength and great boldness. His very appearance shook his opponents and strengthened his friends. Therefore, he was highly respected and honored by all. This was enhanced by the miraculous grace with which he had been endowed by God.
After living a godly life, and contesting mightily for the Orthodox Faith, Saint John reposed in peace
Saint John is commemorated on May 7 in Greek usage.
Saint Augustine of Canterbury, Evangelizer of England
Saint Augustine was from Italy, and a disciple of Saint Felix, Bishop of Messana. Saint Gregory Dialogus (March 12) chose him to lead a mission of forty monks to evangelize the people of Britain. They arrived at Ebbsfleet (on the isle of Thanet) in Kent in 597.
King Ethelbert, whose Frankish wife Bertha was a Christian, welcomed them. They were allowed to base their mission at the ancient church of Saint Martin in Canterbury, which was restored for their use. This church had been built during the Roman occupation of Britain, and the queen often went there to pray. At first, the king was reluctant to give up his pagan beliefs, but he promised not to harm them, and to supply them with whatever they needed. He also promised that he would not prevent them from preaching Christianity. Saint Augustine later converted the king to Christianity, along with thousands of his subjects. The holy right-believing King Ethelbert is commemorated on February 25.
Bede says that Saint Augustine was consecrated as Archbishop of Britain by Archbishop Etherius of Arles (others say that it was his successor Saint Virgilius of Arles [March 5] who consecrated Saint Augustine). Returning to Britain, he threw himself into the work of evangelizing the country with renewed zeal. Saint Augustine built Christ Church, predecessor of the present cathedral at Canterbury, and consecrated it on June 9, 603 (according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle). He also founded the monastery of Saints Peter and Paul east of the city. Here Saint Augustine, the Archbishops of Canterbury, and the Kings of Kent were buried. The monastery, now in ruins, was later known as Saint Augustine’s Monastery.
The saint was instrumental in founding the dioceses of Rochester and London. In 604 he consecrated Saint Justus (November 10) and Saint Mellitus (April 24) as bishops for those Sees. Saint Augustine also helped the king draft the earliest Anglo-Saxon laws, and founded a school in Canterbury.
Saint Augustine was not completely successful in all his efforts, however. He was not able to achieve unity with the already existing Christian communities who followed Celtic practices. He met with some of their bishops to urge them to abandon their Celtic traditions and to accept the Roman practices. He invited them to cooperate with him in evangelizing the country, but they refused to give up their ancient traditions. Before meeting with Saint Augustine in 603, the Celtic bishops asked a holy hermit whether or not to accept Augustine as their leader. The hermit replied, “If he rises to greet you, then accept him. If he remains seated, then he is arrogant and unfit to be your leader, and you should reject him.” Unfortunately, Saint Augustine did not rise to greet them. Perhaps Saint Augustine was, to some degree, a bit tactless and too insistent on conformity to Roman customs. On the other hand, Celtic resentment against Roman authority also contributed to the stormy relationship.
Known in his lifetime as a wonderworker, Saint Augustine fell asleep in the Lord on May 26, 604. He was laid to rest at the entrance of the unfinished church of Saints Peter and Paul. When the church was dedicated in 613, his holy relics were placed inside. An epitaph was composed for his tomb. In part, it reads: “Here lies the Lord Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, sent here by blessed Gregory, bishop of the city of Rome, who with the help of God, and aided by miracles, guided King Ethelbert and his people from the worship of idols to the Faith of Christ.”
Saint Bede (May 27) gives detailed information about Saint Augustine’s mission to Britain in his History of the English Church and People (Book I, 23-33. Book II, 1-3).