Author Archives: Saint Peter Orthodox Church

Daily Readings for Thursday, September 29, 2022

THURSDAY OF THE 2ND WEEK

NO FAST

Cyriacus the Hermit of Palestine, Martyr Petronius, Malachi the New Righteous Martyr of Lindos, Theophanes the Merciful of Gaza, Dionysios I, Patriarch of Constantinople

ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS 5:22-26; 6:1-2

Brethren, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

LUKE 6:12-19

At that time, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaios, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all.

Venerable Cyriacus the Hermit of Palestine

Saint Cyriacus was born at Corinth to the priest John and his wife Eudokia. Bishop Peter of Corinth, who was a relative, seeing that Cyriacus was growing up as a quiet and sensible child, made him a reader in church. Constant reading of the Holy Scriptures awakened in him a love for the Lord and of a yearning for a pure and saintly life.

Once, when the youth was not yet eighteen years old, he was deeply moved during a church service by the words of the Gospel: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Mt.16:24). He believed these words applied to him, so he went right to the harbor without stopping at home, got onto a ship and went to Jerusalem.

After visiting the holy places, Cyriacus dwelt for several months at a monastery not far from Sion in obedience to the igumen Abba Eustorgius. With his blessing, he made his way to the wilderness Lavra of Saint Euthymius the Great (January 20). Saint Euthymius, discerning in the youth great gifts of God, tonsured him into the monastic schema and placed him under the guidance of Saint Gerasimus (March 4), pursuing asceticism at the Jordan in the monastery of Saint Theoctistus.

Saint Gerasimus, seeing the youthfulness of Cyriacus, ordered him to live in the community with the brethren. The young monk easily accomplished the monastic obediences: he prayed fervently, he slept little, he ate food only every other day, nourishing himself with bread and water.

During Great Lent it was the custom of Saint Gerasimus to go into the Rouva wilderness, returning to the monastery only on Palm Sunday. Seeing Cyriacus’ strict abstinence, he decided to take him with him. In complete solitude the ascetics redoubled their efforts. Each Sunday Saint Gerasimus imparted the Holy Mysteries to his disciple.

After the death of Saint Gerasimus, the twenty-seven-year-old Cyriacus returned to the Lavra of Saint Euthymius, but he was no longer among the living. Saint Cyriacus asked for a solitary cell and there he pursued asceticism in silence, communicating only with the monk Thomas. But soon Thomas was sent to Alexandria where he was consecrated bishop, and Saint Cyriacus spent ten years in total silence. At 37 years of age he was ordained to the diaconate.

When a split occurred between the monasteries of Saint Euthymius and Saint Theoctistus, Saint Cyriacus withdrew to the Souka monastery of Saint Chariton (September 28). At this monastery they received even tonsured monks as novices, and so was Saint Cyriacus received. He toiled humbly at the regular monastic obediences. After several years, Saint Cyriacus was ordained priest and chosen canonarch and did this obedience for eighteen years. Saint Cyriacus spent thirty years at the monastery of Saint Chariton.

Strict fasting and total lack of evil distinguished Saint Cyriacus even among the ascetics of the Lavra. In his cell each night he read the Psalter, interrupting the reading only to go to church at midnight. The ascetic slept very little. When the monk reached seventy years of age, he went to the Natoufa wilderness taking with him his disciple John.

In the desert the hermits fed themselves only with bitter herbs, which through the prayer of Saint Cyriacus was rendered edible. After five years one of the inhabitants found out about the ascetics and brought to them his demon-possessed son, and Saint Cyriacus healed him. From that time many people began to approach the monk with their needs, but he sought complete solitude and fled to the Rouva wilderness, where he dwelt five years more. But the sick and those afflicted by demons came to him in this wilderness, and the saint healed them all with the Sign of the Cross and by anointing them with oil.

At his 80th year of life Saint Cyriacus fled to the hidden Sousakim wilderness, where two dried up streams passed by. According to Tradition, the holy Prophet David brought Sousakim to attention: “Thou hast dried up the rivers of Etham” (Ps 73/74:15). After seven years, brethren of the Souka monastery came to him, beseeching his spiritual help during a period of debilitating hunger and illness, which God permitted. They implored Saint Cyriacus to return to the monastery, and he settled in a cave, in which Saint Chariton had once lived.

Saint Cyriacus rendered great help to the Church in the struggle with the spreading heresy of the Origenists. By prayer and by word, he brought the wayward back to the true path, and strengthened the Orthodox in their faith. Cyril, the author of the Life of Saint Cyriacus, and a monk of the Lavra of Saint Euthymius, was a witness when Saint Cyriacus predicted the impending death of the chief heretics Nonos and Leontius, and soon the heresy would cease to spread.

The Most Holy Theotokos Herself commanded Saint Cyriacus to keep to the Orthodox teaching in its purity: Having appeared to him in a dream together with the Saints John the Baptist and John the Theologian, She refused to enter into the cell of the monk because in it was a book with the words of the heretic Nestorius. “In your cell is My enemy,” She said (The appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos to Saint Cyriacus is commemorated on June 8).

At the age of ninety-nine, Saint Cyriacus again went off to Susakim and lived there with his disciple John. In the wilderness a huge lion waited on Saint Cyriacus, protecting him from robbers, but it did not bother wandering brethren and it ate from the monk’s hand.

Once in the heat of summer, all the water in the hollow of a rock dried up, where the ascetics had stored water during the winter, and there was no other source of water. Saint Cyriacus prayed, and rain fell, filling the pit with water.

For the two years before his death Saint Cyriacus returned to the monastery and again settled into the cave of Saint Chariton. Until the end of his life the righteous Elder preserved his courage, and prayed with fervor. He was never idle, either he prayed, or he worked. Before his death Saint Cyriacus summoned the brethren and blessed them all. He quietly fell asleep in the Lord, having lived 109 years.

Martyrs Dadas, Gabdelas, and Kazdoa of Persia

The Martyrs Dadas, Gabdelas and Kazdoa (Kasdoe) accepted death for Christ under the Persian emperor Sapor. Dadas was chief steward under Sapor, and Saints Gabdelas and Kazdoa were the cruel emperor’s own children.

Not knowing that Saint Dadas was a Christian, the emperor appointed him as governor of one of the Persian districts. When it was discovered, he was stripped of all honors, sent to the court of the cruel torturer Andromelik and was condemned to be burned. Approaching the stake, Saint Dadas shielded himself with the Sign of the Cross, and the fire went out.

Seeing this miracle, the emperor’s stunned son Gabdelas believed in Christ and in the hearing of all, confessed his faith. The judge reported this to the emperor, and he commanded Saint Gabdelas to be fiercely tortured. But in all the sufferings divine strength preserved the saint.

An angel of the Lord comforted him, and each time the Lord restored health and strength to him. Beholding the miraculous healing of the holy martyr, many prisoners in the prison with him became Christians, even the sorcerer Gargal, and thus accepted martyrdom. The emperor’s daughter Kazdoa, sister of the Martyr Gabdelas, secretly visited him in prison and brought him water.

Another time Kazdoa saw her brother when the torturers tortured him anew. The holy martyr was hung on a cross, and a volley of arrows shot at him, but the arrows bounced off and struck the archers. Seeing his sister, he prevailed upon her to believe in Christ. Saint Kazdoa confessed herself a Christian, and by the command of her father the emperor Sapor, she was cruelly beaten and thrown into prison where her brother languished.

Suffering from her wounds, Saint Kazdoa asked her brother to pray for her. Saint Gabdelas, having said the prayer, assured his sister that she would suffer no more. On the following day during new tortures Saint Gabdelas, saw two presbyters Dadias and Abdi, asked them to bring oil and water, since he deeply wanted to receive holy Baptism.

At this moment a cloud overshadowed the martyr, from which poured out water and oil, and a voice was heard: “Servant of God, you have already received Baptism.” The face of the martyr became radiant, and in the air was the fragrance of perfume. The torturer commanded the saint to be pierced with spears, and after several hours he died with prayer on his lips.

His body was cut into three parts, but the priests Dadias, Abdi and the deacon Armazates took the holy relics and buried them reverently. The body of the holy Martyr Dadas, whom they also tortured for a long time and cut in parts, was also secretly buried by Christians.

At midnight the Martyr Gabdelas appeared to the priest Dadias, gave him a vessel with oil and sent him to the martyr Kazdoa to anoint her with oil and give her the Holy Mysteries. The priest did this and, at the very last, said to the holy martyr: “Sleep, sister, until the coming of the Lord,” and Saint Kazdoa departed to the Lord. The mother of the holy martyr prepared her for burial and with joy buried her with the Martyr Gabdelas.

Venerable Theophanes the Merciful of Gaza

Saint Theophanes the Merciful was an inhabitant of the Syrian city of Gaza. He was very kind and merciful. He took in vagrants, he helped the poor and the sick, and he spent all his substance on help for the needy, while he himself remained in want.

Saint Theophanes did not grieve at all over the loss of his property, but he lost his health, and sickness caused him great suffering. His body began to swell up, to rot, and to give off a stench. This ordeal he also endured in good spirit, giving thanks to God for all things.

A fierce storm raged while he was dying, and his wife grieved that she would not be able to give him proper burial. The saint comforted her: “Weep not, woman, for up to now the trial has lasted, but here comes help from the Merciful God, since in the hour of my death the storm will cease, by the will of God.” So it occurred: just as he gave up his soul to God, calmness prevailed. After death the body of Saint Theophanes became completely cleansed of wounds and decay and became fragrant, giving forth abundant healing myrrh.

Saint Onuphrius of Saint David Gareji Monastery, Georgia

Saint Onuphrius of Gareji (Otar Machutadze in the world) lived and labored in the 18th century. He was a Kartlian aristocrat famed for his wealth, hospitality, and charity.

Longing for the ascetic life, Otar wore a hair shirt under his distinguished raiment and unceasingly prayed to God for the strength to lead the monastic life. He revealed his will to his wife: “I thirst to turn from this world and draw nearer to Christ,” he said. “Therefore, I beg your forgiveness for all my transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary.”

His faithful wife consented and permitted him to go in peace. Otar traveled with his two eldest sons to Tbilisi, blessed them, and bade them farewell for the last time. Then he set off for the David-Gareji Monastery, which at that time was led by the kindhearted superior Archimandrite Herman.

Archimandrite Herman received Otar with great joy, and after a short time he tonsured him a monk with the name Onuphrius.

Blessed Onuphrius was a peaceful, humble and obedient man and a tireless ascetic. He would keep vigil through the night, and after the morning prayers he would go down to the ravine and continue to chant psalms, shedding tears over his past transgressions. He ate just one meal a day of bread and water, after the hour of Vespers. Once the Dagestanis attacked the David-Gareji Monastery, plundered the church, and took captive several monks including Onuphrius, the priests Maxime and Ioakime, and four deacons. Onuphrius was the oldest among them. The unbelievers planned to stab him to death, but the Lord protected him from their evil scheme.

According to the will of the All-merciful God, Onuphrius was freed and returned to the monastery.

The brotherhood was impoverished after the invasion, so Archimandrite Herman sent Saint Onuphrius on a mission to solicit alms. It was difficult for Saint Onuphrius to depart from the monastery, but he unquestioningly obeyed the will of his superior: the former aristocrat began to walk from door to door, begging for charity. At Tskhinvali in Samachablo Saint Onuphrius attracted the attention of a crowd of people leading a young, demon-possessed man. The saint approached them and discovered that they were bringing the young man to a fortuneteller for help.

With love and great boldness Saint Onuphrius addressed the crowd, saying, “My children, such behavior is not fitting for Christian believers. Bring the young man to me!”

The young man’s mother fell on her knees before him, begging for help, but Saint Onuphrius raised her up and proclaimed: “I have come bearing earth from the grave of Saint David of Gareji. This will help your son!” He dissolved a pinch of the earth in water and gave it to the young man to drink, and he was immediately healed.

Saint Onuphrius took with him his youngest son, John, and returned to the monastery with a great quantity of provisions.

Once a certain Arab with a wounded eye came to the monastery seeking help. Saint Onuphrius washed his eye in water from the holy spring of David-Gareji, and he was immediately healed.

Later Saint Onuphrius desired to be tonsured into the great schema. The superior was hesitant, and told Onuphrius to remain for twenty or thirty days at the grave of Saint David praying and supplicating God to reveal His will. The saint remained there in prayer, and after thirty days God revealed to the abbot that Fr. Onuphrius was truly worthy of this honor. Then Schemamonk Onuphrius gave a vow of silence and began to sleep on a tattered mat. Under his clothing he wore a heavy chain, and he left his cell only to attend the divine services.

Soon Blessed Onuphrius became so exhausted that he was no longer able to stand. The brothers begged him to lie on a bed and rest his head on a pillow, but the blessed Onuphrius opened his mouth for the first time since taking the vow of silence and said, “I vow to end my days on this mat.”

Saint Onuphrius endured his infirmities with thanksgiving and repeated the Jesus Prayer incessantly. When people came to receive his blessing, he would welcome them, saying, “Let me kiss the edge of your garments and wash your feet with my tears!”

Sensing that the end of his days was approaching, Saint Onuphrius partook of the Holy Gifts and, eighteen days later, on the Feast of Theophany, fell asleep in the Lord.

Saint Onuphrius was buried on the south side of the grave of Saint David of Gareji, near the altar window.

Saint Cyprian of Ustiug

Saint Cyprian of Ustiug was a wealthy landowner, but turning from the vanities of the world, he received the Angelic Schema with the name Cyprian at the monastery of the Holy Trinity at Gledeno.

The inhabitants of the newly-established city of Ustiug begged Saint Cyprian to build a monastery somewhere near the city. Saint Cyprian, went around the city and observed its layout, then chose a place near shallow lakes at the Ostrozh falls and he started building a cell.

By the year 1212, he had established a monastery in honor of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos, and a church dedicated to the Archangel Michael, the Chief Commander of the Heavenly Hosts. The inhabitants of Ustiug, seeing the godliness of the holy ascetic, brought him all the things he needed to build the monastery, and many came to live the ascetic life with Saint Cyprian, who received everyone with joy and with love.

The holy monastery grew, and according to the account in the Ustiug Chronicle, Saint Cyprian “was chosen as the Superior of the holy monastery, and pastor of the flock of Christ, but out of humility he would not agree to be ordained to the holy priesthood.” There was a stone by his bed, which he used to rest his head. During his night prayers, the ascetic held it in his hands in order to maintain vigilance and to be constantly at prayer.

Saint Cyprian went to the Lord at 6 o’clock in the afternoon on September 29, 1276, and his body was buried in the monastery which he founded. Later, a church was built over his holy relics and was dedicated to the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, which also had a chapel in honor of Saint Cyprian of Carthage (August 31).

Daily Readings for Wednesday, September 28, 2022

CHARITON THE CONFESSOR

ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL

Chariton the Confessor, Our Righteous Father Alkeisonus, Metropolitan of Nicopolis; Old Epirus, Baruch the Prophet, Neophytos & Auxentios the Martyrs of Cyprus, Wenceslaus the Martyr, Prince of the Czechs

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.

LUKE 6:17-23

At that time, Jesus stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all. And he lifted up his eyes on His disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.”

Venerable Chariton the Confessor, Abbot of Palestine

Saint Chariton the Confessor was born at Iconium in the province of Lycaonia, and suffered there during a persecution against Christians in the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270-275). The example of the holy Protomartyr Thekla (September 24), who was also a native of his city, encouraged him to confess Christ, since he had a great devotion to her.

Saint Chariton bravely denounced the pagan gods and staunchly confessed faith in the one True God, Christ the Savior. The holy Confessor underwent fierce tortures but, by God's Providence, he survived. The persecution ended after Aurelian's death in 275. Saint Chariton was among the many Christians who were released from prison, and he resolved to dedicate his entire life to the service of the Lord. Although he escaped death, he grieved because he had not received the crown of martyrdom.

After arriving at Jerusalem on a pilgrimage to the holy places, he fell into the hands of thieves. They tied him up and threw him in a cave, intending to kill him later. After they left to find people to rob, the saint prayed fervently to God expecting to be put to death. He did not ask God to deliver him, but instead he entreated Him to do with him as He wished.

At this time a snake crawled into the cave and began to drink wine from a vessel setting there. Later it vomited forth its deadly venom, poisoning the wine. When they returned to the cave, the evil men drank the poisoned wine and they all perished. Thus, their wicked lives came to a fitting end. Saint Chariton gave thanks to God, and then he gave away the gold which the malefactors had stolen, distributing it to the poor, to churches, and to monasteries. He began his ascetic struggles in the place of his miraculous rescue, and there he built a church. In time a monastery was established: the renowned Pharan Lavra in Palestine. Saint Chariton's fame drew many disciples to him. He governed them with paternal affection, and he elevated them to the highest degrees of virtue.

Saint Chariton compiled a strict Rule for his monastery. Yearning for solitude, the monk withdrew farther into the desert in order to avoid the praise of men, but he never rejected anyone who sought his spiritual guidance. He founded two more monasteries: the Jericho (called the Monastery of Saint Chariton) and the Souka, which was called “the old Lavra.” He also brought many Jews and pagans to the Faith.

At the end of his life, Saint Chariton struggled in a cave atop a hill near the Souka monastery, but he did not cease to provide guidance for all three of the monasteries which he founded. He fell asleep in the Lord peacefully and at an advanced age on September 28, 350.

According to Tradition, Saint Chariton compiled the Office of the Monastic Tonsure. Saint Chariton was buried at the Pharan monastery, in accordance with his last wishes. His grace-filled relics were enshrined in the church that had been built on the site of the robbers' cave.

Synaxis of the Venerable Fathers of the Kiev Near Caves

The Synaxis of Monastic Fathers who are venerated in the Near Caves of Saint Anthony, is now celebrated on September 28. This general commemoration was originally on the first Saturday after the Leave-taking of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (i.e. after September 21).

The general commemoration of the monastic Fathers of the Near Caves of Saint Anthony on the Saturday after the Leave-taking of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross dates to the year 1670. During the restoration of the Caves, which had been damaged by an earthquake, some of the relics of the ancient ascetics were uncovered and a church was built in honor of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross.

In 1760 a stone church in honor of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross was built over the Caves. In 1886, under Metropolitan Platon of Kiev, the Synaxis of the Fathers of the Near Caves was moved to September 28 because of the celebration of the Synaxis of the Saints of the Far Caves on August 28.

There are two Canons to the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves. The first was compiled by the hieromonk Meletius the Orphan (inscribed in the Kiev Akathistnik of 1764). The second, found in the services in honor of the Fathers of the Kiev Caves, was compiled by Saint Demetrius of Rostov.

Among the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves are:

Monk Anthony the First-Founder (July 10)

Monk Abramius the Lover of Labor (August 21)

Monk Abramius the Recluse (October 29)

Monk Agapitus, Unmercenary Physician (June 1)

Monk Alexis the Recluse (April 24)

Monk Alypius the Iconographer (August 17)

Martyr Anastasius the Deacon (January 22)

Monk Anatolius the Recluse (July 3)

Monk Arethas the Recluse (October 24)

Monk Athanasius the Recluse (December 2)

Igumen Barlaam (November 19)

Hosiomartyrs Basil and Theodore (August 11)

Venerable Chariton of Senyazemsk (no information)

Hieromonk Damian the Healer (October 5)

Monk Elias of Murom (December 19)

Bishop Ephraim of Pereyaslavl (January 28)

Monk Erasmus the Black-Robed (February 24)

Martyr Eustratius (March 28)

Monk Gregory the Iconographer (August 8)

Martyr Gregory the Wonderworker (January 8)

Monk Helladius the Recluse (October 4)

Monk Isaac the Recluse (February 14)

Monk Isaiah the Wonderworker (May 15)

Monk Jeremiah the Clairvoyant (October 5)

Monk John the Faster (December 7)

John the God-pleasing (December 29)

Martyr John the Infant (December 29)

(commemorated with the 14,000 Infants killed at Bethlehem by Herod)

Monk John the Long-Suffering (July 18)

Nun Juliana, Princess of Olshansk (July 6)

Hieromartyr Kuksha, Enlightener of the Vyati (August 27)

Bishop Laurence the Recluse of Turov (January 29)

Monk Luke the Steward (November 6)

Monk Macarius (January 19)

Monk Mark the Grave-digger (December 29)

Monk Matthew the Clairvoyant (October 5)

Venerable Menignus the Steward of the Caves (no information)

Bishop Mercurius of Smolensk (August 7)

Martyr Moses the Hungarian (July 26)

Monk Nectarius the Obedient (November 29)

Monk Nestor the Chronicler (October 27)

Monk Nicholas Svyatosha, Prince of Chernigov (October 14)

Monk Νikόdēmos the Prosphora-baker (October 31)

Igumen Nikon (March 23)

Monk Nikon the Shriveled (December 11)

Bishop Niphon of Novgorod (April 8)

Monk Onesimus the Recluse (October 4 and July 21)

Monk Onesiphorus the Confessor (November 9)

Monk Onuphrius the Silent (July 21)

Monk Pimen the Faster (August 27)

Monk Pimen the Much-Ailing (August 7)

Archmandrite Polycarp (July 24)

Monk Prochorus the Orach-eater (February 10)

Monk Savva the God-pleasing (April 24)

Monk Sergius the Obedient (October 7)

Monk Simon, Bishop of Suzdal (May 10)

Monk Sisoes the Recluse (October 24)

Monk Spyridon the Prosphora-baker (October 31)

Monk Sylvester the Wonderworker (January 2)

Monk Theophanes the Faster (October 11)

Monks Theophilus the Mourner (December 29)

Monk Theophilus the Recluse (October 24)

Hieromonk Titus (February 27)

Twelve Master Architects of Constantinople who painted the monastery church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos (February 14)

Besides these Saints, there are thirty other Saints among the monks of the Kiev Caves, whose myrrh-producing heads were preserved. In the Service to the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves on September 28 Saint Ephraim the Priest is mentioned (Ode 9). The hieromonk Athanasius Kalpophyisky wrote in 1638, that his incorrupt body, clothed in priestly vestments, lay opposite the relics of Saint Elias of Murom. Hieromonk Athanasius also mentions Saint Eustathius, (Ode 8), who was a goldsmith before he came to the monastery.

In the Canon of Meletius the Orphan, Saint Dionysius, Archbishop of Suzdal (June 26 and also October 15) is also mentioned. The holy hierarch was detained by the Lithuanian prince at Kiev after his consecration as Metropolitan of Moscow by the Patriarch of Constantinople. He died on October 15, 1384 and was buried in the Antoniev Cave.

Besides the monks mentioned in the Services, the hieromonk Athanasius Kalpophyisky in his Manuscript of 1638 indicated even more Saints, whose uncovered relics they venerated: Saint Hieronymos, Recluse and Wonderworker; Saint Meladius, holy Elder and Wonderworker; Saint Pergius, holy Elder; Saint Paul, a monk of remarkable obedience.

The names of the priests Saint Meletius, Saint Serapion, Saint Philaretos, Saint Peter are preserved in the old manuscript Calendars.

On May 24,1853, in one of the branches of the Near Caves, an inscription was discovered on an eleventh century crypt: “Lord, preserve Thy servants Theodosius and Theophilus. Many Years.” “The Grave of the Cave-Dweller John. Here John the sinner lived and is now.” On an oak board: “John the Cave-Dweller.” Thus the names of the new Kiev Caves Fathers: Theophilus, Theodosius and John were revealed.

There is also a general commemoration of the Monks of the Near Caves together with the Monks of the Far Caves on the second Sunday of Great Lent, when the Synaxis of all the Monastic Fathers of Kiev Caves is celebrated. The Canon of the Hieromonk Meletius the Orphan enters into the Service of that feastday (the Service to the Kiev Caves Monastic Fathers, and to all the Saints who shone forth in Little Russia, inscribed from Akathists with a Canon). The service was printed by the Kiev Caves Dormition Lavra in 1866.

Without doubt, not all the names of the Fathers of the Kiev Caves are known. In the Synaxis, all the Fathers illumined by ascetic deeds in the Caves are glorified. In the Oikos of the Service of September 28 we sing: “Who can praise Your Saints, O Good One? I try to count their number, but they are multiplied more than the sands of the sea. O Master Christ, Who have numbered the stars and named them all, grant their petitions for us…”

Venerable Chariton of Syanzhemsk, Vologda

Saint Euthymius and his disciple Saint Chariton lived at the River Syanzhema during the close of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries. Saint Euthymius came to the Spasokamensk monastery from the outskirts of Volokolamsk. For a long time he continued as a novice at the monastery, but later he settled on the eastern shore of Lake Kuben near the mouth of the River Kushta.

The saint built a small cell in the impenetrable swamps and dense woods, where he struggled in total solitude. After a while, Saint Alexander of Kushta (June 9) came to him. He also had set out from the Spasokamensk monastery and at first settled at the River Syanzhema. Saint Alexander entreated Saint Euthymius to switch cells with him, since he was seeking a place of complete quiet.

Moving over to the River Syanzhema, Saint Euthymius did not refuse the local people his spiritual counsel and guidance. And there Saint Chariton also came to him.

Saint Euthymius built a church in honor of the Ascension of Christ and founded a monastery next to it. At Rostov, under the holy Archbishop Dionysius (1418-1425), he received the permission to build. Evidently, he was also ordained to the holy priesthood, and was made igumen of the monastery he established.

Both monks were an example to the brethren in prayer, and in the works of construction and supervision. They made do with food and clothing that even the brethren regarded as worthless. In church, Saint Euthymius stood in fear and trembling, and the brethren often saw tears of tenderness upon his face. While working at handicrafts, the saint always sang Psalms. Saint Euthymius died around the year 1465, though the actual day of his death is unknown.

His successor as igumen was his beloved disciple Saint Chariton. For more than forty years he continued the work at the monastery, and he died in old age on April 11, 1509. Both monks were buried at the Ascension church.

The memory of Saint Euthymius is celebrated also on January 20, and that of Saint Chariton on September 28, when their patron saints are commemorated.

Venerable Herodion, Abbot of Iloezersk

Saint Herodion of Elias Lake and Novgorod, was a disciple of Saint Cornelius of Komel (May 19, 1537). After the death of his mentor, he settled at Elias Lake, 20 kilometers from White Lake, and there on a peninsula he built himself a cell and established a church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, marking the beginning of the Elias Lake Ozadsk monastery.

The monk was strict at fasting, he spent the nights at prayer and he received the Holy Mysteries every Saturday. An angel told the monk of his approaching end. He died as a schemamonk on September 28, 1541 and was buried in the chapel he had built.

The first icon of Saint Herodion was painted after his appearance to a certain Sophonios. Sophonios impiously thrust his staff into the grave of Saint Herodion and was struck blind, but after praying to the saint, he recovered his sight.

With the blessing of Metropolitan (afterwards Patriarch) Nikon, a short Life of Saint Herodion was written by Archimandrite Metrophanes of White Lake monastery, who in 1653 witnessed a miracle worked from the relics of Saint Herodion. Then an annual commemoration of the saint was established. At the place of the chapel of Saint Herodion a church was built in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos together with a chapel dedicated to Saint Herodion of Elias Lake.

Prophet Baruch

The Holy Prophet Baruch (his name means "blessed"), that courageous lover of truth, lived in the VII century B.C. He was the son of Nerias and the devoted follower and divinely-inspired secretary of the Prophet Jeremiah (May 1).

When Jeremiah was imprisoned, Baruch wrote down the prophecies which he dictated (Jeremiah 36:4), ordering him to read them to the people. When King Joachim was informed of this, instead of benefitting from the Prophet's admonitions, he threw the scroll into the fire. Baruch was also imprisoned because the Jews hated him for loving truth, and for his courageous language. When the Jews fled to Egypt in fear, because of their stand against the king of Babylon, Baruch accompanied Jeremiah. Rabbinic tradition suggests that Baruch returned to Babylon after he witnessed Jeremiah's death by stoning and buried his body.

In his prophetic book, Baruch clearly foresaw the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The section from 3:9 to 4:4 is a beautiful description of the Divine Wisdom "Who showed Himself upon earth and conversed with men."

Here is what he said: "This is our God, and no other shall be compared to Him. He has found out all the way of knowledge, and has given it unto Jacob His servant, and unto Israel His beloved. Afterward He showed Himself upon earth, and conversed with men" (Baruch 3:36-38).

These words are read on the eve of the Nativity of Christ at the Third Hour, and are ascribed to the Prophet Jeremiah.

Saint John Chrysostom says, in the sixth of his Baptismal Instructions, "Here the Prophet is speaking about the Son. Of Whom does the Prophet speak? He does not say this about the Father, does He? Of course not." Saint John goes on to explain that Baruch was the first to say that God would become Man, yet remain as God. Christ is not only the Law-giver of the Old Testament, but also the Divine Wisdom, Word, and Power of God.

The Prophet Baruch is quoted or paraphrased several times in the Divine Services of the Church. On Palm Sunday we sing: "This is our God, and there is no other like Him…. He has shown Himself upon earth and lived among men. Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord our Savior" (Canon at Matins Tone 4, Ode 9).

On the Great Feast of Theophany we hear: "The Godhead has appeared in the flesh to the dwellers upon earth" (Matins of the Forefeast, Aposticha Tone 2).

On the Feast of the Lord's Transfiguration we sing this hymn to the Most Holy Theotokos: "Your giving birth was undefiled; God came forth from your womb, and He appeared upon earth wearing flesh and made His dwelling among men; therefore, we all magnify you, O Theotokos" (Canon at Matins Tone 4, Ode 9).

Again, on the Transfiguration, we extol the All-Holy Virgin: "Every ear trembled with fear at hearing of the ineffable condescension of God: how the Most High of His own will came down even unto the flesh, and was made Man from a virginal womb. Therefore, we faithful magnify the undefiled Theotokos" (Second Canon at Matins Ode 8, Irmos).

The Prophet Baruch also prophesied the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity, and Babylon's desolation. He is depicted in iconography as an old man with a rounded beard.

The Book traditionally ascribed to Baruch is regarded by Protestants as non-canonical, but is accepted by the Orthodox Church, and also by Roman Catholics.

Martyr Alexander and 30 others in Pisidia and Phrygia

The Holy Martyrs Alexander, Alpheius, Zosimus, Mark the Shepherd, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and others suffered for confessing the Christian Faith in various places of Asia Minor during the reign of Diocletian (284-305).

Saint Mark, a shepherd, was arrested for his open confession of the Christian Faith in Pisidian Antioch. The thirty soldiers guarding him were converted by Saint Mark, and they were beheaded at Nicea, but Saint Mark was sentenced to tortures.

The brothers Saints Alexander, Alpheius and Zosimus were blacksmiths from the settlement of Katalitea, or Kalitea. They were summoned to forge the instruments of torture which would be used on Saint Mark the Shepherd. The iron did not melt and fuse, however, and the hands of the blacksmiths grew numb. Hearing a voice summoning them to suffer with Saint Mark, the brothers believed in Christ. After fierce torture, the torturers poured molten tin down their throats.

After enduring many tortures, Saint Mark was beheaded at Claudiopolis. When they carried the head of the holy martyr into the pagan temple of Artemis, all the idols fell down and were smashed. The witnesses of this miracle, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and other young men and women, believed in Christ, confessed their faith and died martyrs at Maromilium.

Martyr Wenceslaus, Prince of the Czechs

The Holy Prince Wenceslaus (Vyacheslav) of the Czechs was a grandson of the holy Martyr and Princess Ludmilla (September 16), and he was raised by her in deep piety. He began to rule at age eighteen after the death of his father Prince Bratislav (+ 920).

In spite of his youthful age, he ruled wisely and justly and concerned himself much about the Christian enlightenment of the people. The holy prince was a widely educated man, and he studied in the Latin and Greek languages.

Saint Wenceslaus was peace-loving. He built and embellished churches, and in Prague, the Czech capital, he raised up a magnificent church in the name of Saint Vitus, and he had respect for the clergy. Envious nobles decided to murder the saint and, at first, to incite his mother against him, and later to urge his younger brother, Boleslav, to occupy the princely throne.

Boleslav invited his brother to the dedication of a church, and then asked him to stay another day. In spite of the warnings of his servants, the holy prince refused to believe in a conspiracy and exposed his life to the will of God. On the following day, September 28, 935, when Wenceslaus went to Matins, he was wickedly murdered at the doors of the church by his own brother and his brother’s servants. His body was stabbed and discarded without burial.

The mother, hearing of the murder of her son, found and placed his body in a recently consecrated church at the princely court. They were not able to wash off the blood splashed on the church doors, but after three days it disappeared by itself.

After repenting of his sin, the murderer transferred the relics of Saint Wenceslaus to Prague, where they were placed in the church of Saint Vitus, which the martyr himself had constructed (the transfer of the relics of Saint Wenceslaus is celebrated on March 4). The memory of Prince Wenceslaus has been honored from of old in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Schema-monk Cyril and Schema-nun Maria, the parents of Saint Sergius of Radonezh

Saint Cyril and his wife Maria were the parents of Saint Sergius of Radonezh (September 25). They belonged to the nobility, but more importantly, they were pious and faithful Christians who were adorned with every virtue.

People were astonished when the child in Maria’s womb cried out three times in church during the Divine Liturgy; before the reading of the Holy Gospel, during the Cherubic hymn, and when the priest said: “Holy Things are for the Holy.” Although she was frightened at first, Maria came to see this event as a sign from God that her child would become a chosen vessel of divine grace. She and her husband agreed that if the child was a boy, they would bring him to church and dedicate him to God. This child, the second of their three sons, was born around 1314, and was named Bartholomew in Holy Baptism.

Because of civil strife, Saint Cyril moved his family from Rostov to Radonezh when Bartholomew was still a boy.

Later, when their son expressed his desire to enter the monastic life, his parents asked him to wait and take care of them until they passed away, because his brothers Stephen and Peter were both married and had their own family responsibilities. The young Bartholomew obeyed his parents, and did everything he could to please them. Later they decided to retire to separate monasteries, and departed to the Lord after a few years. It is believed that Saints Cyril and Maria reposed in 1337.

Forty days after burying his parents, Bartholomew settled their estate, giving his share to his brother Peter. Then he went to the monastery at the age of twenty-three, and was tonsured on October 7 with the name Sergius (in honor of the martyr Saint Sergius, who is commemorated on that day). As everyone knows, Saint Sergius of Radonezh became one of Russia’s greatest and most revered saints.

The Chronicle of the Khot'kov Protection Monastery relates how people were healed of their ailments after praying to the Venerable Sergius and his parents. The relics of Schema-monk Cyril and Schema-nun Maria remained in the monastery's Protection Cathedral, even after its numerous reconstructions. As early as the XIV century, Saint Sergius's parents were depicted with haloes. Because Saint Sergius prayed for the repose of his parents at their grave before entering the monastery, pilgrims, on their way to Holy Trinity Lavra, had the custom of visiting Khot'kov Monastery first, in order to pray for his parents.

In the XIX century, the veneration of Schema-monk Cyril and Schema-nun Maria spread throughout Russia, as evidenced by the Menologia of that time. Unfortunately, after 1917, the Khot'kov Monastery was destroyed. Finally, in July of 1981, the Feast of the Synaxis of the Saints of Radonezh was established, and Schema-monk Cyril and Schema-nun Maria were glorified for local veneration. In 1989, the monastery's Protection Cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. Services resumed once again, and the relics of the righteous parents of Saint Sergius were transferred there.

Saints Cyril and Maria were glorified for universal veneration by the Orthodox Church of Russia in 1992. They are also commemorated on January 18 (Saint Cyril's Name Day), on June 5 (Synaxis of the Saints of Rostov & Yaroslavl), on July 6 (Synaxis of the Saints of Radonezh), and on the Thursday following the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee.

Daily Readings for Tuesday, September 27, 2022

TUESDAY OF THE 2ND WEEK

NO FAST

Callistratus the Martyr & his 49 Companions, Mark, Aristarchos, and Zenon, Apostles of the 70, Akylina the New Martyr of Thessaloniki, Gideon the Righteous

ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS 5:11-21

Brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the stumbling block of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves! For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

LUKE 5:12-16

At that time, Jesus was in one of the cities, and there came a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and besought him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And he stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one; but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” But so much the more the report went abroad concerning him; and great multitudes gathered to hear and to be healed of their infirmities. But he withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.

Martyr Callistratus and 49 companions

Saint Callistratus was a native of Carthage. An ancestor of Saint Callistratus, Neochorus, had served under the emperor Tiberius in Palestine, under the command of Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea, and was a witness to the suffering on the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, His voluntary death and glorious Resurrection.

The saint’s father was a Christian, and he raised his son in faith and piety. Also like his father, Saint Callistratus became a soldier and excelled among his pagan military comrades by his good conduct and gentle disposition.

At night when everyone slept, he usually stayed up at prayer. Once, a soldier sleeping nearby heard Saint Callistratus invoking the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he reported this to the military commander, who in turn summoned Callistratus, interrogated him and wanted to make him offer sacrifice to idols. The saint resolutely refused to do this, so the military commander ordered that the saint be beaten. Then, covered with wounds, the saint was dragged over sharp stones. The beating and the torments did not sway the firm will and brave endurance of the sufferer.

The saint was sewn up in a leather sack and drowned in the sea. By God’s mercy, however, the sack struck a sharp rock and was torn open. Saint Callistratus came to dry land unharmed, carried by dolphins. Viewing such a miracle, forty-nine soldiers came to believe in Christ. Then the military commander threw Saint Callistratus and the believing soldiers into prison. Before this, all of them were subjected to innumerable floggings.

In jail Saint Callistatus continued to preach the Word of God to the soldiers and he bolstered their spirits for martyrdom. Summoned again before the military commander, the sufferers firmly confessed their faith in Christ, after which they were bound hand and foot and thrown into the depths of a great lake behind a dam. But there their bonds broke, and with bright faces the holy martyrs stood in the water, rejoicing in their Baptism, which coincided with the act of martyrdom.

Beautiful bright crowns appeared over their heads, and all heard a voice: “Be brave, Callistratus, with your company, and come rest in the eternal habitations.” At the same time, the earth shuddered and an idol standing nearby fell down and smashed. Seeing this, another 135 soldiers also believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. The military commander, fearing a mutiny in the army, did not put them on trial, but again imprisoned Saint Callistratus with his 49 companions, where they fervently prayed and gave thanks to the Creator for giving them power to endure such sufferings.

At night the martyrs were cut to pieces with swords by order of the military commander. Their holy relics were buried by the 135 soldiers who remained alive. Later, a church was built on the spot of their sufferings, as Saint Callistatus had foretold.

Venerable Sabbatius, Wonderworker of Solovki

Saint Sabbatius of Solovki came to the Saint Cyril of White Lake monastery in the year 1396, where he received the monastic tonsure. He there pursued asceticism for a long time, unquestioningly fulfilling all obediences. His humility, gentle love towards the brethren and his strict life distinguished the monk Sabbatius among his fellow ascetics. He soon became burdened by the attention and esteem of the brethren and laity coming to him, and having learned that on Lake Ladoga is the rocky island of Valaam, he decided to settle there.

The brethren of the Saint Cyril of White Lake monastery were very sad to be parted from their Elder. At Valaam the worldly fame also began to disquiet the humble Elder. Then the monk learned that in the north was the uninhabited island of Solovki, and he began to ask the igumen’s blessing to settle there in solitude. But the igumen and the brethren did not want to be separated from their holy Elder.

At the command of God Saint Sabbatius left the Valaam monastery by night and set off to the shores of the White Sea. When he learned from the local people that the island was two days distant, that on it were many lakes and that no one lived on the island, he was even more eager to settle there. The astonished local people asked the ascetic, whitened with grey hair, how he would live there and what he would eat. “My Master,” replied the monk, “gives the fresh strength of youth to the frail, and nourishes the hungry to satiety.”

For a certain time Saint Sabbatius remained at the chapel near the mouth of the Vyg River, in the environs of Soroka. There he encountered Saint Germanus pursuing asceticism as a hermit, and together they decided to settle upon the island. In a frail boat, praying to God, the Elders set off upon the harsh sea and after three days they reached Solovki Island.

The ascetics settled by the Sekirna hill, where they raised up a cross and built their cells. In the severe conditions of the north, the Elders hallowed the unpopulated island by their exploits. Here also the Enemy of mankind, the devil, tempted the holy Elders. A certain fisherman with his wife, moved with a sense of envy, came somehow to the island and settled near the ascetics. But the Lord did not permit the laypeople to remain near the monks. Two youths in bright garb appeared to the wife of the fisherman and struck her with rods. The fisherman took fright, quickly gathered his things and he and his wife hastened to return to his former place of residence.

Once, when Saint Germanus had gone for supplies along the Onega River, Saint Sabbatius, alone and sensing his impending end, turned to God and prayed that He would grant him to partake of the Holy Mysteries. The monk sailed for two days to the mainland and at ten versts from the Vyg River encountered the igumen Nathanael, who had come to the distant settlement to commune a sick Christian. Igumen Nathanael rejoiced at meeting the monk, fulfilled his wish and heard the account of his exploits on the island. In parting, they agreed to meet at the church along the Vyg River.

Entering the temple, the holy Elder prayerfully gave thanks to God for Communion. He then enclosed himself in a cell located near the church, and began to prepare himself for death. During this time the Novgorod merchant John came to shore and, having venerated the holy icons in church, he went to the holy Elder. Having received his blessing and guidance, he offered the monk a portion of his wealth and was saddened when he heard a refusal. To comfort the merchant, Saint Sabbatius offered to let him stay over until morning, and promised him prosperity on further journeying. The merchant John, however, hastened to disembark.

Suddenly there was an earthquake, and a storm arose on the sea. Taking fright, the merchant stayed where he was. In the morning when he entered the cell for a blessing, he saw that the Elder was already dead. He and Igumen Nathanael, who had just arrived, buried Saint Sabbatius at the chapel and wrote a manuscript of his Life. This occurred on September 27, 1435. After thirty years, the relics of Saint Sabbatius were transferred to the Transfiguration church by Saint Zosimas (April 17) and the brethren of Solovki Island. In 1566, the relics of Saints Sabbatius and Zosimas were transferred into a church, named in their honor (August 8).

Apostle Mark of the Seventy

The Holy Apostle Mark of the Seventy, also named John, is mentioned by the holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 12:25, 15:37-39) and also by the holy Apostle Paul in both the Epistle to the Colossians (Col 4:10) and the Epistle to Philemon (Philemon 1:23).

The holy Apostle Mark preached the Word of God together with Paul and Barnabas and was made bishop of the Phoenician city of Biblos. The holy Apostle Mark attained great boldness before God, so that his very shadow healed the sick (also January 4 and April 15).

Apostle Aristarchus of the Seventy

Saint Aristarchus was one of the Seventy Apostles, whom the Lord Jesus Christ sent to proclaim the good news of the Gospel (Luke. 10:1-24).

Saint Aristarchus, a co-worker of the holy Apostle Paul, became bishop of the Syrian city of Apamea. His name is repeatedly mentioned in the Acts of the Holy Apostles (Acts 19:29, 20:4, 27:2) and in the Epistles of Saint Paul (Col. 4:10, Philemon 1:24). He accompanied Saint Paul on his travels (Acts 16:29).

Saint Aristarchus is also commemorated on April 15 with Saints Pudens and Trophimus and on January 4 with the Seventy Apostles.

Apostle Zenas of the Seventy

The Holy Apostle Zenas of the Seventy, a disciple and co-worker with the first-ranked Apostle Paul, was called a lawyer, since he was a learned man and led juridical matters in church courts. He is mentioned in the Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to Titus (Titus 3:13): “Help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing.” Afterwards, Saint Zenas became bishop of the city of Diospolis (or Lydda) in Palestine.

Martyr Epicharis of Rome

The Holy Martyr Epicharis lived in Rome during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). For her steadfast confession of Christ as Savior they subjected her to tortures: they suspended her and tore at her body with iron hooks, and then they beat at her with tin threshing rakes. The holy martyr prayed, and an angel of God struck down the torturers. Then Saint Epicharis was beheaded.

Venerable Ignatius, Abbot in Asia Minor

Saint Ignatius lived during the tenth century in Cappadocia, and from his youth he was dedicated by his parents to God. Upon attaining the age of maturity, he accepted monasticism and soon was ordained to the holy priesthood.

Later, Saint Ignatius was made igumen of a monastery of the Savior, called “Deep River,” close to Constantinople. Saint Ignatius concerned himself about the monastery, embellishing the churches and making an enclosure for the monastery. Saint Ignatius died in the city of Amoreia in the year 975. His relics were uncovered after a long period of time and found to be incorrupt.

Saint Flavian, Archbishop of Antioch

Saint Flavian, Archbishop of Antioch, was a contemporary of Saint John Chrysostom. He attempted to obtain from the emperor Theodosius (379-395) a pardon for the citizens of Antioch, who had angered the emperor by destroying his statue. Saint Flavian’s death was peaceful and without illness. He is also commemorated on February 16.

New Martyr Aquilina

Saint Aquilina (Akylina), the virgin martyr of Christ, was the daughter of pious parents who lived in the village of Zagliberi, Thessalonica in the diocese of Saint Ardamerios.

One day her father quarreled with a Turkish neighbor (for Turks and Christians lived together in that village), and struck the Turk, killing him. The authorities seized him and brought him to the pasha of Thessalonica to be executed for his crime. Fearing death, the unfortunate man converted to Islam in order to save his life. Saint Aquilina was still a babe at her mother’s breast when this happened. The saint’s mother remained a Christian, and she encouraged her daughter to adhere to the Christian Faith, and not to deny Christ.

After some time had passed, the Turks pressured Aquilina’s father to make her become a Moslem, too. He said, “Do not worry about my daughter, I’ll see to her. I will force her to convert to Islam in due course.”

When Saint Aquilina was eighteen, the Turks urged her father to make his daughter convert to their faith. He said to her, “The other Turks tell me that you must become a Moslem sooner or later. Do it one day sooner so that they will stop bothering me. “

She replied with great courage, “I will never deny the Lord Jesus Christ, Who died on the Cross for our sake. I am prepared to endure tortures, and even death, for love of my Christ.”

Seeing that she would not change her mind, her father went to the Turks and said, “I am not able to persuade my daughter to become a Moslem, so you may do as you wish with her.”

Hearing this, the Turks became angry, and sent servants to arrest the girl. When the saint’s mother saw them seize her daughter, she encouraged her to remain firm in confessing Christ, and to be brave in the face of the torments she was about to endure.

Aquilina replied, “That is my intention, Mother. May God help me. Pray for me.”

Then they said farewell with many tears and laments. Servants tied Aquilina with ropes and brought her to the judge. Her mother followed them, but the servants shut the door in her face and left her standing in the courtyard. Saint Aquilina was taken inside to appear before the judge, and her mother returned home to await the outcome.

The judge asked her, “Will you become a Moslem, you fool?”

She replied, “No, I will never deny my Faith or my Master Christ.”

Hearing these things, the judge became angry and ordered the saint to be stripped of her clothes, leaving her in her chemise. Then he ordered them to tie her to a pillar and to beat her with sticks, and it was done. Two servants beat her for a long time, but Saint Aquilina endured her sufferings with great courage.

Then once again the saint was brought before the judge and the other Turks. They began to flatter her, promising her many things. They even offered her gifts, if only she would deny her Christian Faith, but she regarded earthly riches as worthless. A prominent man among them, having more boldness than the others, said to her, “Become a Moslem, Aquilina, and I will marry you to my son.”

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The martyr of Christ replied, “May the devil take you and your son.”

When the Turks heard this, they were enraged and tied the saint up as before, beating her for a long time. Then she was untied and questioned for a third time.

Since Aquilina had received so many lashes, her chemise was torn to shreds, and it no longer covered her. The judge said, “You fool! Aren’t you ashamed to appear naked before so many people? Become a Moslem, or I’ll break your bones one by one.”

The holy virgin replied, “What could I possibly want with your faith? Why should I deny Christ?”

The Turks were furious, and this time they beat the saint so mercilessly that they left her for dead. The earth was saturated with her blood, and pieces of her flesh fell to the ground. Finally, they untied her and gave her to a certain Christian who happened to be at that place, and he brought her to her mother’s house.

When her mother saw that her daughter was almost dead, she embraced her and asked, “What have you done, my child?”

The martyr opened her eyes with difficulty and said, “Behold, I have preserved the confession of my Faith, just as we agreed.”

While she was speaking to her mother, Saint Aquilina gave her pure soul into God’s hands and received the imperishable crown of martyrdom on September 27, 1764.

On the way to the cemetery, Saint Aquilina’s holy relics gave forth a wondrous fragrance which filled the entire road. That night a heavenly light shone upon her tomb like a brilliant star, and the Christians who witnessed this glorified God.

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Saint Anthimus the Georgian

Saint Anthimus was born in Georgia, and his parents were called John and Mary. The child received the name Andrew in Baptism, and his parents raised him as an Orthodox Christian.

Andrew was captured by Turks who invaded Georgia when he was young, and he was one of many who were made slaves in Constantinople. There he learned to speak Greek, Arabic, and Turkish, and also became skilled in woodcarving, embroidery, and painting. After a few years as a slave, Andrew escaped and fled to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for refuge.

Around 1690, Andrew was invited to Wallachia by Prince Constantine Brancoveanu (August 16), who had heard of his talents. After a year or so, he became a monk and received the name Anthimus. Later, he was ordained to the holy priesthood. He was placed in charge of the royal print shop in Bucharest, and later set up a printing house in the Snagov Monastery.The monastery printed sixty-three books in Romanian, Greek, Arabic, and Georgian. Saint Anthimus was the author of thirty-eight of them. He was chosen to be the igumen of Snagov in 1696.

The saint was consecrated as Bishop of Rimnicu-Vilcea in 1705, and three years later he was made Metropolitan of Wallachia. As Metropolitan, he established schools for poor children, and built churches and monasteries. Since he was a woodcarver, he used his talent to beautify many churches.

Saint Anthimus was a zealous pastor who satisfied his flock’s hunger for spiritual knowledge. Preaching in the Romanian language, he taught them the saving truths of Orthodoxy, and offered words of encouragement and consolation. His edifying books and sermons are part of the spiritual legacy of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

Metropolitan Anthimus was arrested by the Turks in 1716 and sentenced to be exiled at Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mt. Sinai, but he never arrived at his destination. On September 27, 1716, he was killed by the soldiers who were escorting him. They cut his body into little pieces and threw them into the Tungia River, south of the Danube. Thus, the faithful servant of Christ received the crown of martyrdom.

Saint Anthimus was a true shepherd of his flock, and a father to his clergy. He was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Romania in 1992.

Daily Readings for Monday, September 26, 2022

THE FALLING ASLEEP OF ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST AND THEOLOGIAN

NO FAST

The Falling Asleep of St. John the Evangelist and Theologian, Removal of the Honorable Head of Apostle Andrew the First-Called

ST. JOHN’S FIRST UNIVERSAL LETTER 4:12-19

No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us.

JOHN 19:25-27; 21:24-25

At that time, standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Repose of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian

The Holy, Glorious All-laudable Apostle and Evangelist, Virgin, and Beloved Friend of Christ, John the Theologian was the son of Zebedee and Salome, a daughter of Saint Joseph the Betrothed. He was called by our Lord Jesus Christ to be one of His Apostles at the same time as his elder brother James. This took place at Lake Gennesareth (i.e. the Sea of Galilee). Leaving behind their father, both brothers followed the Lord.

The Apostle John was especially loved by the Savior for his sacrificial love and his virginal purity. After his calling, the Apostle John did not part from the Lord, and he was one of the three apostles who were particularly close to Him. Saint John the Theologian was present when the Lord restored the daughter of Jairus to life, and he was a witness to the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor.

During the Last Supper, he reclined next to the Lord, and laid his head upon His breast. He also asked the name of the Savior’s betrayer. The Apostle John followed after the Lord when they led Him bound from the Garden of Gethsemane to the court of the iniquitous High Priests Annas and Caiphas. He was there in the courtyard of the High Priest during the interrogations of his Teacher and he resolutely followed after him on the way to Golgotha, grieving with all his heart.

At the foot of the Cross he stood with the Mother of God and heard the words of the Crucified Lord addressed to Her from the Cross: “Woman, behold Thy son.” Then the Lord said to him, “Behold thy Mother” (John 19:26-27). From that moment the Apostle John, like a loving son, concerned himself over the Most Holy Virgin Mary, and he served Her until Her Dormition.

After the Dormition of the Mother of God the Apostle John went to Ephesus and other cities of Asia Minor to preach the Gospel, taking with him his own disciple Prochorus. They boarded a ship, which floundered during a terrible tempest. All the travellers were cast up upon dry ground, and only the Apostle John remained in the depths of the sea. Prochorus wept bitterly, bereft of his spiritual father and guide, and he went on towards Ephesus alone.

On the fourteenth day of his journey he stood at the shore of the sea and saw that the waves had cast a man ashore. Going up to him, he recognized the Apostle John, whom the Lord had preserved alive for fourteen days in the sea. Teacher and disciple went to Ephesus, where the Apostle John preached incessantly to the pagans about Christ. His preaching was accompanied by such numerous and great miracles, that the number of believers increased with each day.

During this time there had begun a persecution of Christians under the emperor Nero (56-68). They took the Apostle John for trial at Rome. Saint John was sentenced to death for his confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but the Lord preserved His chosen one. The apostle drank a cup of deadly poison, but he remained alive. Later, he emerged unharmed from a cauldron of boiling oil into which he had been thrown on orders from the torturer.

After this, they sent the Apostle John off to imprisonment to the island of Patmos, where he spent many years. Proceeding along on his way to the place of exile, Saint John worked many miracles. On the island of Patmos, his preaching and miracles attracted to him all the inhabitants of the island, and he enlightened them with the light of the Gospel. He cast out many devils from the pagan temples, and he healed a great multitude of the sick.

Sorcerers with demonic powers showed great hostility to the preaching of the holy apostle. He especially frightened the chief sorcerer of them all, named Kinops, who boasted that they would destroy the apostle. But the great John, by the grace of God acting through him, destroyed all the demonic artifices to which Kinops resorted, and the haughty sorcerer perished in the depths of the sea.

The Apostle John withdrew with his disciple Prochorus to a desolate height, where he imposed upon himself a three-day fast. As Saint John prayed the earth quaked and thunder rumbled. Prochorus fell to the ground in fright. The Apostle John lifted him up and told him to write down what he was about to say. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord, Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8), proclaimed the Spirit of God through the Apostle John. Thus in about the year 67 the Book of Revelation was written, known also as the “Apocalypse,” of the holy Apostle John the Theologian. In this Book were predictions of the tribulations of the Church and of the end of the world.

After his prolonged exile, the Apostle John received his freedom and returned to Ephesus, where he continued with his activity, instructing Christians to guard against false teachers and their erroneous teachings. In the year 95, the Apostle John wrote his Gospel at Ephesus. He called for all Christians to love the Lord and one another, and by this to fulfill the commands of Christ. The Church calls Saint John the “Apostle of Love”, since he constantly taught that without love man cannot come near to God.

In his three Epistles, Saint John speaks of the significance of love for God and for neighbor. Already in his old age, he learned of a youth who had strayed from the true path to follow the leader of a band of robbers, so Saint John went out into the wilderness to seek him. Seeing the holy Elder, the guilty one tried to hide himself, but the Apostle John ran after him and besought him to stop. He promised to take the sins of the youth upon himself, if only he would repent and not bring ruin upon his soul. Shaken by the intense love of the holy Elder, the youth actually did repent and turn his life around.

Saint John reposed when he was more than a hundred years old. He far outlived the other eyewitnesses of the Lord, and for a long time he remained the only remaining eyewitness of the earthly life of the Savior.

When it was time for the departure of the Apostle John, he went out beyond the city limits of Ephesus with the families of his disciples. He bade them prepare for him a cross-shaped grave, in which he lay, telling his disciples that they should cover him over with the soil. The disciples tearfully kissed their beloved teacher, but not wanting to be disobedient, they fulfilled his bidding. They covered the face of the saint with a cloth and filled in the grave. Learning of this, other disciples of Saint John came to the place of his burial. When they opened the grave, they found it empty.

Each year from the grave of the holy Apostle John on May 8 came forth a fine dust, which believers gathered up and were healed of sicknesses by it. Therefore, the Church also celebrates the memory of the holy Apostle John the Theologian on May 8.

The Lord bestowed on His beloved disciple John and John’s brother James the name “Sons of Thunder” an awesome messenger accompanied by the cleansing power of heavenly fire. And precisely by this the Savior pointed out the flaming, fiery, sacrificial character of Christian love, the preacher of which was the Apostle John the Theologian. The eagle, symbol of the lofty heights of his theological thought, is the iconographic symbol of the Evangelist John the Theologian. The appellation “Theologian” is bestown by Holy Church only to Saint John among the immediate disciples and Apostles of Christ, as being the seer of the mysterious Judgments of God.

Venerable Ephraim, Abbot of Perekop, Wonderworker of Novgorod

Saint Ephraim of Perekop, Novgorod, was born on September 20, 1412 in the city of Kashin. In Holy Baptism he was named Eustathius. His parents, Stephen and Anna, lived not far from the Kashin women’s monastery named in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Drawn to the solitary life, Eustathius left his parental home while still in his early years and settled in the Kalyazin monastery of the Most Holy Trinity. His parents wanted their son to return home, but he persuaded them to leave the world and accept monasticism. Later, they also finished their earthly paths living as hermits.

After three years in the monastery, Eustathius, through a miraculous revelation, transferred to the monastery of Saint Savva of Vishersk (October 1). It was there in 1437 that he accepted tonsure with the name Ephraim. While in the monastery, Saint Ephraim received a revelation from the Lord, commanding him to withdraw to a desolate place.

Having received the blessing of Saint Savva, in 1450 he went to Lake Ilmen, at the mouth of the River Verenda, and on the banks of the River Cherna he built a cell. After a certain while the Elder Thomas and two monks came to Saint Ephraim, and they settled not far from his cell. From that time, other hermits also began to gather to the new monastery. At their request Saint Ephraim was ordained a priest at Novgorod by Saint Euthymius (March 11).

Returning from Novgorod, Saint Ephraim built a church in honor of the Theophany of the Lord on an island, at the mouth of the River Verenda. To secure a ready supply of water for the monastery, the monk dug a canal to Lake Ilmen, from which the monastery received its name “Perekop” (from “perekopat’” meaning “to dig through”). Later on, Saint Ephraim built a stone church named for Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. Unable to find sufficient skilled builders, he sent several monks to Great Prince Basil with a request for sending stone-workers. The construction of the temple was completed in 1466.

Saint Ephraim reposed on September 26, 1492 and was buried at the church of Saint Nicholas. In 1509, because of frequent floodings that threatened the monastery with ruin, it was transferred to another location at the shore of Lake Ilmen. Saint Ephraim appeared to the igumen Romanus and pointed to the site of Klinkovo for relocating the monastery.

Over the saint’s tomb a chapel was built, since all the monastery churches were in ruins. On May 16, 1545 the relics of Saint Ephraim were transferred to the site of the new monastery. On this day there is an annual celebration of Saint Ephraim of Perekop at the monastery, confirmed after the glorification of the holy ascetic at the Council of 1549. (The Transfer of the Relics of Saint Ephraim of Perekop is celebrated May 16).

Arrival of the Ivḗron Icon of the Mother of God in Georgia

The Ivḗron Icon of the Mother of God (which is preserved on Mt. Athos) was kept in the home of a certain pious widow, who lived near Nicea. During the reign of the emperor Theophilus, the Iconoclasts came to the house of this Christian, and one of the soldiers struck the image of the Mother of God with a spear. Blood flowed from the place where it was struck.

The widow, fearing its destruction, promised the imperial soldiers money and implored them not to touch the icon until morning. When the soldiers departed, the woman and her son (later an Athonite monk), sent the holy icon away upon the sea to preserve it. The icon, standing upright upon the water, floated to Athos.

For several days, the Athonite monks had seen a fiery pillar on the sea rising up to the heavens. They came down to the shore and found the holy image, standing upon the waters. After a Molieben of thanksgiving, a pious monk of the Ivḗron Monastery, Saint Gabriel (July 12), had a dream in which the Mother of God appeared to him and gave him instructions. So he walked across the water, and taking up the holy icon, he placed it in the church.

On the following day, however, the icon was found not within the church, but on the gates of the monastery. This was repeated several times, until the Most Holy Theotokos revealed to Saint Gabriel Her will, saying that She did not want the icon to be guarded by the monks, but rather She intended to be their Protectress. After this, the icon was installed on the monastery gates. Therefore this icon came to be called “Portaitissa” or “Gate-Keeper” (October 13). This comes from the Akathist to the Mother of God: “Rejoice, O Blessed Gate-Keeper who opens the gates of Paradise to the righteous.”

There is a tradition that the Mother of God promised Saint Gabriel that the grace and mercy of Her Son toward the monks would continue as long as the Icon remained at the monastery. It is also believed that the disappearance of the Ivḗron Icon from Mt. Athos would be a sign of the end of the world.

The Ivḗron Icon is also commemorated on February 12, March 31, October 13 (Its arrival in Moscow in 1648), and Bright Tuesday (Commemorating the appearance of the Icon in a pillar of fire at Mt. Athos and its recovery by Saint Gabriel).

On September 26, 1989, a copy of this famous icon arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia from the Ivḗron Monastery on Mt. Athos. This copy had been painted by the monks on Mt. Athos as a symbol of love and gratitude to the Georgian people.

Daily Readings for Sunday, September 25, 2022

1ST SUNDAY OF LUKE

NO FAST

1st Sunday of Luke, Euphrosyne of Alexandria, Paphnoutios the Martyr & his 546 Companions in Egypt, Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos of Evangelistria, Mochos, Our Righteous Father Sergius of Radonezh, Finbar the Confessor, First Bishop of Cork

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.

LUKE 5:1-11

At that time, as Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, he saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he was astonished, and all who were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

Repose of Venerable Sergius the Wonderworker, Abbot of Radonezh

Saint Sergius of Radonezh was born in the village of Varnitsa, near Rostov, on May 3, 1314. His parents were the pious and illustrious nobles Cyril and Maria (September 28). The Lord chose him while still in his mother’s womb. In the Life of Saint Sergius it is reported that even before the birth of her son, Saint Maria and those praying heard the thrice-repeated cry of the infant at the Divine Liturgy: before the reading of the Holy Gospel, during the Cherubic hymn, and when the priest pronounced: “Holy Things are for the Holy.”

God gave Cyril and Maria a son whom they named Bartholomew. From his very first days of life the infant amazed everyone by his fasting. On Wednesdays and Fridays he would not accept milk from his mother, and on other days, if Maria used oil in the food, the infant also refused the milk of his mother. Noticing this, Maria refrained altogether from food with oil.

At the age of seven, Bartholomew was sent to study together with his two brothers: his older brother Stephen, and his younger brother Peter. His brothers learned successfully, but Bartholomew fell behind in his studies, even though the teacher gave him much special attention. The parents scolded the child, the teacher chastised him, and his classmates made fun of his lack of comprehension. Finally, Bartholomew besought the Lord with tears to grant him the ability to read.

Once, his father sent Bartholomew out after the horses in the field. Along the way he met an angel sent by God under the appearance of a monk. The Elder stood at prayer beneath an oak in a field. Bartholomew approached him, and bowing, waited for the Elder to finish praying. The monk blessed him, gave him a kiss and asked what he wanted.

Bartholomew answered, “With all my soul I want to learn reading and writing. Holy Father, pray for me to God, that He may help me to become literate.” The monk fulfilled Bartholomew’s request, offering up his prayer to God. In blessing the child he said to him: “Henceforth, my child, God gives you to understand reading and writing, and in this you will surpass your brothers and peers” (See the famous M. Nesterov painting “Vision of Bartholomew”).

Then the Elder took a vessel and gave Bartholomew a piece of prosphora. “Take, child, and eat,” said he. “This is given to you as a sign of the grace of God, and for the understanding of Holy Scripture.” The Elder wanted to leave, but Bartholomew asked him to visit at the home of his parents. His parents received their guest with joy and offered him their hospitality.

The Elder replied that it was proper to partake of spiritual nourishment first, and he bade their son to read the Psalter. Bartholomew began to read, and his parents were amazed at the change that had occured with their son. In parting, the Elder prophetically said of Saint Sergius, “Your son shall be great before God and the people. He shall become a chosen habitation of the Holy Spirit.”

After this the holy child read without difficulty and understood the contents of books. He became immersed in prayer with a special fervor, not missing a single church service. Already in childhood he imposed upon himself a strict fast. He ate nothing on Wednesdays and Fridays, and on the other days he sustained himself on bread and water.

About the year 1328, the parents of Saint Sergius moved from Rostov to Radonezh. When their older sons married, Cyril and Maria received the monastic schema shortly before their death at the Khot’kov monastery of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos, not far from Radonezh.

Later on, the older brother Stephen was widowed and became a monk at this monastery. Having buried his parents, Bartholomew and his brother Stephen withdrew into the forest (12 versts from Radonezh) to live in the wilderness. At first they made cells, and then a small church, and with the blessing of Metropolitan Theognostus, it was consecrated in the name of the Most Holy Trinity. But soon, unable to bear the difficulties of life in the wilderness, Stephen left his brother and went on to the Moscow Theophany monastery, where he became close to Saint Alexis, afterwards Metropolitan of Moscow. (February 12).

On October 7,1337 Bartholomew was tonsured by Igumen Metrophanes, taking the name of the holy Martyr Sergius (October 7), and he started to build a new habitation to the glory of the Life-Creating Trinity. Suffering temptations and demonic apparitions, Saint Sergius advanced from strength to strength. Gradually he became known to other monks seeking his guidance. Saint Sergius accepted all with love, and soon a brotherhood of twelve monks were gathered in the small monastery.

Their experienced spiritual guide distinguished himself by an extraordinary love for work. With his own hands he built several cells, he carried water, he chopped wood, baked bread, sewed clothing, prepared food for the brethren and humbly took on other tasks. Saint Sergius combined the heavy work with prayer, vigil and fasting.

The brethren were amazed that with such severe exertion the health of their guide did not deteriorate, but rather became all the more hearty. It was not without difficulty that they implored Saint Sergius to accept the position of igumen of the monastery.

In 1354 Bishop Athanasius of Volyn ordained the saint a hieromonk and elevated him to the rank of igumen. Just as before, monastic obediences were strictly fulfilled at the monastery. With the expansion of the monastery, its needs also grew. Often the monks had only scant food, but through the prayers of Saint Sergius unknown people provided the necessities.

Reports of the exploits of Saint Sergius became known even at Constantinople, and Patriarch Philotheus sent to the monk a cross, a “paraman” (monastic clothing, a four-cornered cloth tied with cords to the chest and worn beneath other garb, and adorned with symbols of the Lord’s Passion) and schema-robe in blessing for new deeds, and a grammota of blessing, in which the Patriarch counselled the chosen of God to organize a cenobitic monastery. The monk set off with the patriarchal missive to Saint Alexis, and received from him the counsel to introduce a strict manner of cenobitic life. The monks began to grumble at the strictness of the monastic Rule, and Saint Sergius was compelled to forsake the monastery. At the River Kirzhach he founded a monastery in honor of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos. Matters at the former monastery went quickly into disarray, and the remaining monks recoursed to Saint Alexis that he should get the saint to return.

Saint Sergius unquestioningly obeyed the holy hierarch, and left in place of himself at the Kirzhachsk monastery his disciple, Saint Roman.

Already during his lifetime Saint Sergius had been vouchsafed the gift of wonderworking. He raised a lad, at a point when the despairing father had given up on his only son as lost. Reports about the miracles worked by Saint Sergius began quickly to spread about, and the sick began to come to him, both from the surrounding villages and also from remote places. And no one left from Saint Sergius without receiving healing of infirmities and edifying counsel. Everyone gave glory for Saint Sergius, and reverenced him on an equal with the ancient holy Fathers. But human glory did not hold allure for the great ascetic, and as before he remained the example of monastic humility.

One time Saint Stephen, Bishop of Perm (April 27), who deeply revered Saint Sergius, was on journey from his diocese to Moscow. The roadway passed eight versts distant from the Sergiev monastery. Intending to visit the monastery on his return trip, the saint stopped, and having recited a prayer, he bowed to Saint Sergius with the words: “Peace be to thee, spiritual brother.” At this instant Saint Sergius was sitting in the trapeza for a meal with the brethren. In reply to the blessing of the holy hierarch, Saint Sergius rose up, recited a prayer, and made a return blessing to Saint Stephen. Certain of the disciples, astonished at the extraordinary action of Saint Sergius, hastened off to the indicated place, and became convinced of the veracity of the vision.

Gradually the monks began to witness also other similar actions. Once, during Liturgy, an angel of the Lord served with the saint, but Saint Sergius in his humility forbade anyone to tell about this until after his death.

Saint Sergius was connected with Saint Alexis by close bonds of spiritual friendship and brotherly love. Saint Alexis in his declining years summoned Saint Sergius to him and besought him to accept to be Russian Metropolitan, but Saint Sergius humbly declined to be primate.

The Russian Land at this time suffered under the Mongol-Tatar Yoke. Having gathered an army, Great-prince Demetrius Ioannovich of the Don went to monastery of Saint Sergius to ask blessing in the pending struggle. Saint Sergius gave blessing to two monks of his monastery to render help to the great-prince: the Schemamonk Andrei [Oslyaba] and the Schemamonk Alexander [Peresvet], and he predicted the victory for prince Demetrius. The prophecy of Saint Sergius was fulfilled: on September 8, 1380, on the feastday of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, Russian soldiers gained a total victory over the Tatar hordes at Kulikovo Pole (Kulikovo Field), and set in place the beginning of the liberation of the Russian Land from the Mongol Yoke. During the fighting Saint Sergius and the brethren stood at prayer and besought God to grant victory to the Russian forces.

For his angelic manner of life Saint Sergius was granted a heavenly vision by God. One time by night Abba Sergius was reading the rule of prayer beneath an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. Having completed the reading of the canon to the Mother of God, he sat down to rest, but suddenly he said to his disciple, Saint Mikhei (May 6), that there awaited them a wondrous visitation. After a moment the Mother of God appeared accompanied by the holy Apostles Peter and John the Theologian. Due to the extraordinary bright light Saint Sergius fell down, but the Most Holy Theotokos touched Her hands to him, and in blessing him promised always to be Protectress of his holy monastery.

Having reached old age, and foreseeing his own end six months beforehand, Saint Sergius summoned the brethren to him and designated his disciple Saint Nikon (November 17), who was experienced in the spiritual life and obedience, to be igumen. In tranquil solitude Saint Sergius fell asleep in the Lord on September 25, 1392. On the night before, the great saint of God summoned the brethren a final time to give them his final instruction: “Brethren, be attentive to yourselves. Have first the fear of God, purity of soul and unhypocritical love….”

Venerable Euphrosynē of Alexandria

Our venerable Mother Euphrosynē was born at the beginning of the fifth century in the city of Alexandria. She was the only child of illustrious and wealthy parents. When she was twelve years old, her mother reposed, and so the girl was raised by her Father, Paphnutios, who was a very devout Christian. He was in the habit of visiting a certain monastery, where the Igoumen was his Spiritual Father.

When Euphrosynē turned eighteen, her father wanted her to marry. He went to the monastery to obtain the Igoumen's blessing for his daughter's wedding. The Igoumen talked with her and gave her his blessing, but Saint Euphrosynē longed for the monastic life. One day, she gave away her possessions to the poor, and then she snuck out of the house.

The Saint had decided to enter a monastery in order to spend her life in solitude and prayer, but she was afraid that her father was apt to find find her in a women’s monastery. Therefore, she disguised herself as a man and entered the same men's monastery which she had visited with her father from her childhood, calling herself Smaragdos. The monks did not recognize Euphrosynē dressed in men’s clothes, and so they received her into the monastery. The monks were impressed by her spiritual struggles and by her willingness to serve everyone.

There in a solitary cell, Saint Euphrosynē spent 38 years in spiritual endeavors, fasting and prayer, thereby attaining a high level of spiritual accomplishment.

Paphnutios was deeply saddened by the loss of his beloved daughter; more than once, on the advice of his Spiritual Father, he spoke to the "monk" Smaragdos, disclosing his grief and receiving spiritual comfort. Before her death, Saint Euphrosynē revealed her secret to her grieving parent and insisted that no one but he should prepare her body for burial. After he buried his daughter, Paphnutios distributed all his wealth to the poor and to the monastery, and then he was tonsured. For ten years, until the time of his own repose, he labored in his daughter's cell.

By her life, Saint Euphrosynē reminds us that we must renounce "worldly passions and live soberly, uprightly, and devoutly" (Titus 2:12). That is, after rejecting the desires of this vain and sinful world, we ought to live abstemiously, with justice toward our fellow human beings, and with piety toward God.

Saint Paphnutios and his daughter Saint Euphrosynē are both commemorated today, and once again on February 15.

Venerable Euphrosynē of Suzdal

Saint Euphrosynē, Princess of Suzdal, was born in the year 1212. In holy Baptism she was given the name Theodoulia and she was the eldest daughter of the holy Martyr Michael, Great-prince of Chernigov (September 20). Prince Michael and his wife Theophania did not have children and they often visited the Kiev Caves monastery, where they prayed the Lord to grant them children. Princess Euphrosynē was their first daughter, sent from God in answer to their prayer. Three times the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to them and said that their prayer had been heard and that the Lord would grant them a daughter.

Theodulia was raised in deep faith and piety. The educated noble Theodore (September 20) had a large influence on her upbringing. The education and uncommon beauty of the princess attracted many.

The princess was betrothed to holy Prince Theodore (June 5), a brother of Saint Alexander Nevsky, but he died on the very day of his wedding. The princess withdrew to the Suzdal women’s monastery named in honor of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God, where she was tonsured with the name Euphrosynē, in honor of Saint Euphrosynē of Alexandria.

While still a young nun she fulfilled the monastic rule of life with an amazing zeal, and she remarkably surpassed the other residents of the monastery in her firmness of reason, spiritual insight and extreme abstinence. The Lord Himself visited the ascetic, commanding her to be vigilant and positive in her efforts. Saint Euphrosynē, to the very end of her life, kept the commandments of the Savior, and overcame countless temptations.

The extraordinary ascetic life of Saint Euphrosynē became known at Suzdal and beyond its borders. A multitude of people visited the monastery, in order to listen to the instructions of the nun Euphrosynē concerning love, prayer, obedience and humility.

Often after such talks, many accepted the monastic schema and began a more zealous service to God. The abbess of the monastery herself had recourse to the counsels of the nun. At the request of the ascetic, the sisters of the monastery were divided into two halves: virgins and widows. This facilitated the spiritual growth and strengthening of the sisters of the monastery in purity. After the death of the abbess, Saint Euphrosynē became Superior of the monastery.

The Lord foretold to the holy abbess her father’s martyrdom, and also the Mongol-Tatar invasion of Rus. In the year 1238, vast Tatar-Mongol hordes did actually descend upon the Russian realm. Destroying everything in their path, they came to Suzdal. The city was completely devastated and burned by them, and only the monastery of Saint Euphrosynē was spared through her prayers.

Saint Euphrosynē fell asleep in the Lord on September 25, 1250. At her grave believers were healed of various maladies. On September 18, 1698, with the blessing of Patriarch Adrian, Metropolitan Hilarion of Suzdal glorified the nun Euphrosynē as a saint.

First Translation of the relics of Saint Herman, Archbishop of Kazan

Today we commemorate the first translation of the relics of Saint Herman, Archbishop of Kazan, in 1595.

After his death on November 6, 1567 he was buried in the church of Saint Nicholas the Hospitable. In 1595, at the request of the inhabitants of Sviyazhsk, the saint’s relics were transferred from Moscow to the Sviyazhsk Dormition monastery.

Saint Herman is also commemorated on November 6 (his repose) and June 23 (second transfer of his relics in 1714).

Martyr Paphnutius and 546 companions in Egypt

The Holy Martyr Paphnutius hailed from Egypt and struggled in the desert. During the persecution against Christians under Diocletian (284-305), the governor Hadrian commanded that Saint Paphnutius be brought to him. The ascetic, not waiting for those sent to bring him, appeared before the governor, confessed his faith in Christ, and was subjected to torture.

The soldiers involved in his torture, Dionysius and Callimachus, seeing how the power of God preserved the martyr, believed in Christ the Savior themselves, for which they were then beheaded. Cast into prison after the tortures, Saint Paphnutius converted forty prisoners to the Faith. They were all burned alive.

After a while Saint Paphnutius was set free, and a Christian named Nestorius gladly took him in. He and all his family, after spiritual guidance, became steadfast in the Faith, and ultimately endured martyrdom. The saint strengthened many other Christians to confess our Lord Jesus Christ, and they all died as martyrs. Some were cut with swords, others were burned. There were 546 men in all.

Saint Paphnutius himself was thrown by the torturers into a river with a stone about his neck, but he miraculously floated to shore with the stone. Finally, they sent the holy martyr to the emperor Diocletian himself, who commanded him to be crucified on a date tree.

Saint Arsenius the Great, Catholicos of Georgia

Saint Arsenius the Great, a pupil and spiritual son of Gregory of Khandzta, was the youngest son of a certain aristocrat, Mirian, from Meskheti in southern Georgia.

On their way to Abkhazeti, Saint Gregory’s companions Theodore and Christopher stopped in Meskheti at the home of Arsenius’ family. Mirian and his wife, Kravaia, asked the monks to bless their children and, astonished at the fathers’ virtue, they entrusted their youngest son to their care.

Gregory of Khandzta later traveled to Abkhazeti to visit Theodore and Christopher, and on his way back to the monastery he brought with him the young Arsenius, the future catholicos of Georgia, and the youth Ephraim, the future wonderworker and bishop of Atsquri. The monks Theodore and Christopher journeyed with them as well.

The monks of Khandzta met the young men with grave displeasure, since the rules of the monastery forbade the presence of youths, but Saint Gregory assured the brothers that this was an exceptional circumstance in which God’s holy will would soon be revealed. Saint Gregory entrusted the young men’s upbringing to his companions and disciples, the hermits Theodore and Christopher.

When Arsenius had reached the appropriate age, his father Mirian bypassed the Church Council and had his son enthroned as catholicos of all Georgia by his own initiative (he was helped by a small group of bishops and laymen). Mirian’s interference in the affairs of the hierarchy was a blatant offense to the Church and the faithful.

A Church council assembled in Javakheti to decide on a way to address Mirian’s behavior. The circumstances were particularly difficult, since the leader of the council, Bishop Ephraim of Atsquri, had grown up with Saint Arsenius. But Church law upheld the judgment of the Church and the faithful, and it was decided to ask Arsenius to resign as catholicos. At that very moment, however, Saint Gregory arrived at the meeting and assured the holy fathers that Arsenius’s enthronement was a fulfillment of God’s holy will.

The disturbance was soon calmed and the love between Ephraim and Arsenius restored, and the catholicos blessed the old church at Khandzta. With his God-pleasing example and divine love Saint Arsenius enlightened the Georgian Church and the faithful until his final day on earth.

Saint Arsenius is also commemorated as a great historian and philologist. He is credited with the remarkable historical work On the Division of the Georgian and Armenian Churches. In this exposition Saint Arsenius logically proved that the Georgian Church had followed the path of true Christianity steadfastly throughout history, while the Armenian Church had strayed from the true path when it accepted the Monophysite heresy. To his pen also belong many remarkable hymns and Lives of Saints. His work The Life and Martyrdom of Abibos of Nekresi is particularly worthy of note.

Catholicos Arsenius the Great is known also as an active builder of churches. He constructed the Cathedral of Tkobi-Erda in the region of Ingushetia (near present-day Chechnya), in the Assa River Valley.

Saint Arsenius led the flock of the Georgian faithful for twenty-seven years and joyfully appeared before Christ in the year 887.

Commemoration of the Earthquake of 447

During the reign of Emperor Theodsios II (402-450) the city of Constantinople was shaken by earthquakes
for nearly four months. At that time several churches, houses, and the city's stone walls collapsed and were
destroyed. All the inhabitants of the city were terrified. Patriarch Proclus (November 20) organized a barefoot Cross Procession and solemnly prayed for God to protect them. While this was taking place, the tremors increased dramatically, and a young boy in the crowd was lifted up into Heaven by some invisible power, and the people, cried out, "Lord, have mercy."

After returning to earth, the boy told the people that he had heard the Angels glorifying God by singing "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us," and that a voice had commanded him to tell Patriarch Proclus that henceforth the people should supplicate God in this way, without adding anything to it. The Patriarch instructed the people to sing this hymn, whereupon the ground stopped shaking and the child reposed.

From that time the hymn was inserted into the Divine Liturgy, just as it was sung by the people during the earthquake, and as it is still sung up to the present day.

Daily Readings for Saturday, September 24, 2022

THE COMMEMORATION OF THE MIRACLE OF THE THEOTOKOS MYRTIDIOTISSIS IN KYTHYRA

NO FAST

The Commemoration of the Miracle of the Theotokos Myrtidiotissis in Kythyra, Thecla the Protomartyr & Equal to the Apostles, Silouan of Athos, Stephen the Martyr, The Most Holy Theotokos of Palianis, Coprios the Righteous, Juvenaly & Peter the Aleut, New Martyrs of Alaska

ST. PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO TIMOTHY 3:10-15

TIMOTHY, my son, you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, my sufferings, what befell me at Antioch, at lconion, and at Lystra, what persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

LUKE 10:38-42, 11:27-28

At that time, Jesus entered a village; and a woman called Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve you alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Synaxis of All Saints of Alaska

On the anniversary of the arrival of the Russian missionaries in Alaska (1794), we remember the New Martyrs Saint Peter the Aleut, Protomartyr of America, and Saint Juvenal.

Martyr Peter the Aleut

Saint Peter the Aleut is mentioned in the Life of Saint Herman of Alaska (December 13). Simeon Yanovsky (who ended his life as the schemamonk Sergius in the Saint Tikhon of Kaluga Monastery), has left the following account:

“On another occasion I was relating to him how the Spanish in California had imprisoned fourteen Aleuts, and how the Jesuits (actually Franciscans) were forcing all of them to accept the Catholic Faith. But the Aleuts would not agree under any circumstances, saying, ‘We are Christians.’ The Jesuits argued, ‘That’s not true, you are heretics and schismatics. If you do not agree to accept our faith then we will torture all of you to death.’ Then the Aleuts were placed in prisons two to a cell. That evening, the Jesuits came to the prison with lanterns and lighted candles. Again they tried to persuade two Aleuts in the cell to accept the Catholic Faith. ‘We are Christians,’ the Aleuts replied, ‘and we will not change our Faith.’ Then the Jesuits began to torture them, at first the one while his companion was a witness. They cut off one of the joints of his feet, and then the other joint. Then they cut the first joint on the fingers of his hands, and then the other joint. Then they cut off his feet, and his hands. The blood flowed, but the martyr endured all and firmly repeated one thing: ‘I am a Christian.’ He died in such suffering, due to a loss of blood. The Jesuit also promised to torture his comrade to death the next day.

“But that night an order was received from Monterey stating that the imprisoned Aleuts were to be released immediately, and sent there under escort. Therefore, in the morning all were sent to Monterey with the exception of the dead Aleut. This was related to me by a witness, the same Aleut who had escaped torture, and who was the friend of the martyred Aleut. I reported this incident to the authorities in Saint Petersburg. When I finished my story, Father Herman asked, ‘What was the name of the martyred Aleut?’ I answered, ‘Peter. I do not remember his family name.’ The Elder stood reverently before an icon, made the Sign of the Cross and said, ‘Holy New Martyr Peter, pray to God for us!’”

We know very little about Saint Peter, except that he was from Kodiak, and was arrested and put to death by the Spaniards in California because he refused to convert to Catholicism. The circumstances of his martyrdom recall the torture of Saint James the Persian (November 27).

Both in his sufferings and in his steadfast confession of the Faith, Saint Peter is the equal of the martyrs of old, and also of the New Martyrs who have shone forth in more recent times. Now he rejoices with them in the heavenly Kingdom, glorifying God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, throughout all ages.

Martyr Juvenal of Alaska

Saint Juvenal, the Protomartyr of America, was born in 1761 in Nerchinsk, Siberia. His secular name was John Feodorovich Hovorukhin, and he was trained as a mining engineer. In a letter to Abbot Nazarius of Valaam (December 13, 1819), Saint Herman says that Saint Juvenal “had been an assistant at our monastery and was a former officer.”

After his wife died in 1791, John entered a monastery at Saint Petersburg (Saint Herman’s Letter of December 13, 1819) and was tonsured with the name Juvenal. Three years later, he went to Alaska as a missionary.

During 1794, the hieromonks Juvenal and Macarius spent two months in the area around Kodiak teaching the inhabitants about Christ and baptizing them. They traveled in small boats of hide in all sorts of weather, dividing up the territory among themselves. Saint Herman tells of a conversation he heard one day as he walked with the hieromonks to a small hill on the south side of the harbor. They sat down facing the sea, and spoke of various things. Soon they began to discuss where each of them should go to preach. Aflame with zeal and eager to set out on their journey, a friendly argument ensued between Father Macarius and Father Juvenal. Father Macarius said he intended to go north to the Aleutian Islands, and then make his way to the Alaskan mainland, where the inhabitants had invited him to visit. The monks had a map of Captain Cook’s which indicated that some Russians were living near a certain river in that particular area, and Father Macarius hoped to find them.

Father Juvenal interrupted, saying that he believed that the Alaskan mainland was his territory. “I beg you to yield to me and not offend me in this,” he told Father Macarius, “since the ship is leaving for Yakutan. I shall begin preaching in the south, proceeding north along the ocean, cross the Kenai peninsula, then from the port there I shall cross to Alaska.”

Father Macarius became sorrowful and said, “No, Father. Do not restrict me in this way. You know the Aleutian chain of islands is joined to Alaska, therefore it belongs to me, and also the whole northern shore. As for you, the southern part of America is sufficient for your whole lifetime, if you please.”

As he listened to their apostolic fervor, Saint Herman says he “went from joy to rapture” (Letter to Abbot Nazarius, May 19, 1795).

In 1795, Father Juvenal baptized over 700 Chugatchi at Nushek, then he crossed Kenai Bay and baptized the local people there. In 1796, according to native oral tradition, Saint Juvenal came to the mouth of the Kuskokwim near the present village of Quinahgak, where he was killed by a hunting party. (There is a forged diary attributed to Ivan Petroff which gives a slanderous version of Father Juvenal’s death, and alleges that he was martyred at Lake Iliamna.)

The precise reason for Saint Juvenal’s murder by the natives is not known. However, they later told Saint Innocent something about his death. They said that Saint Juvenal did not try to defend himself when attacked, nor did he make any attempt to escape. After being struck from behind, he turned to face his attackers and begged them to spare the natives he had baptized.

The natives told Saint Innocent that after they had killed Saint Juvenal, he got up and followed them, urging them to repent. The fell upon him again and gave him a savage beating. Once more, he got to his feet and called them to repentance. This happened several times, then finally the natives hacked him to pieces. Thus, the zealous Hieromonk Juvenal became the first Orthodox Christian in America to receive the crown of martyrdom. His unnamed guide, possibly a Tanaina Indian convert, was also martyred at the same time.

It is said that a local shaman removed Saint Juvenal’s brass pectoral cross from his body and attempted to cast a spell. Unexpectedly, the shaman was lifted up off the ground. He made three more tries with the same result, then concluded that there was a greater power than his own at work here. Years later, a man showed up at the Nushagak Trading Post wearing a brass pectoral cross exactly like the one worn by Saint Juvenal.

A column of light arose from his holy relics and reached up to Heaven. It is not known how long this phenomenon continued.

Saint Juvenal, in his tireless evangelization of the native peoples of Alaska, served the Church more than all the other missionaries combined.

Protomartyr and Equal of the Apostles Thekla

The Holy Protomartyr and Equal of the Apostles Thekla was born in the city of Iconium. She was the daughter of rich and illustrious parents, and she was distinguished by extraordinary beauty. At eighteen years of age they betrothed her to an eminent youth. But after she heard the preaching of the holy Apostle Paul about the Savior, Saint Thekla with all her heart came to love the Lord Jesus Christ, and she steadfastly resolved not to enter into marriage, but rather to devote all her life to preaching the Gospel.

Saint Thekla’s mother was opposed to her daughter’s plans and insisted that she marry her betrothed. Saint Thekla’s fiancé also complained to the prefect of the city about the Apostle Paul, accusing him of turning his bride against him. The prefect locked up Saint Paul in prison.

During the night Saint Thekla secretly ran away from her house, and she bribed the prison guards, giving them all her gold ornaments, and so made her way into the prison to the prisoner. For three days she sat at the feet of the Apostle Paul, listening to his fatherly precepts. Thekla’s disappearance was discovered, and servants were sent out everywhere looking for her. Finally, they found her in the prison and brought her home by force.

At his trial Saint Paul was sentenced to banishment from the city. Again they urged Saint Thekla to consent to the marriage, but she would not change her mind. Neither the tears of her mother, nor her wrath, nor the threats of the prefect could separate Saint Thekla from her love for the Heavenly Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Her mother in a insane rage demanded from the judges a death sentence against her unyielding daughter, and Saint Thekla was sentenced to be burned. Without flinching, the holy martyr went into the fire and made the Sign of the Cross over herself. At this moment the Savior appeared to her, blessing her present deed, and inexpressible joy filled her holy soul.

The flames of the fire shot up high, but the martyr was surrounded by a light and the flames did not touch her. Thunder boomed, and a strong downpour of rain and hail extinguished the fire. The torturers scattered in fear. Saint Thekla, kept safe by the Lord, left the city and with the help of a certain Christian youth, searched for the Apostle Paul. The holy apostle and his companions, among whom was Saint Barnabas, were hidden in a cave not far from the city, praying fervently, that the Lord would strengthen Saint Thekla in her sufferings.

After this, Saint Thekla went with them preaching the Gospel in Antioch. In this city she was pursued by a certain dignitary named Alexander, who was captivated by her beauty. Saint Thekla refused his offer of marriage, and so she was condemned to death for being a Christian. Twice they set loose hungry wild animals upon her, but they would not touch the holy virgin. Instead, they lay down meekly and licked her feet.

The Providence of God preserved the holy martyr unharmed through all her torments. Finally, they tied her to two oxen and began to chase her with red-hot rods, but the strong cords broke asunder like cobwebs, and the oxen ran off, leaving Saint Thekla unharmed. The people began shouting, “Great is the God of the Christians!” The prefect himself became terrified, realizing that the holy martyr was being kept safe by the Almighty God, Whom she served. He then gave orders to set free the servant of God Thekla.

With the blessing of the Apostle Paul, Saint Thekla then settled in a desolate region of Isaurian Seleucia and dwelt there for many years, constantly preaching the Word of God and healing the sick through her prayer. Saint Thekla converted many pagans to Christ, and the Church appropriately names her as “Equal-to-the-Apostles.” Even a pagan priest, trying to assault her purity and punished for his impudence, was brought by her to holy Baptism. More than once the Enemy of the race of man tried to destroy Saint Thekla through people blinded by sin, but the power of God always preserved this faithful servant of Christ.

When Saint Thekla was already a ninety-year-old woman, pagan sorcerers became incensed at her for treating the sick for free. They were unable to comprehend that the saint was healing the sick by the power of the grace of Christ, and they presumed that the virgin-goddess Artemis was her special helper. Envious of Saint Thekla, they sent their followers to defile her. When they came near her, Saint Thekla cried out for help to Christ the Savior, and a rock split open and hid the holy virgin, the bride of Christ. Thus did Saint Thekla offer up her holy soul to the Lord.

The holy Church glorifies the Protomartyr Thekla as “the glory of women and guide for the suffering, opening up the way through every torment.” From of old many churches were dedicated to her, one of which was built at Constantinople by the holy Equal of the Apostles Constantine (May 21). The Protomartyr Thekla, a prayerful intercessor for ascetics, is also invoked during the tonsure of women into monasticism.

Venerable Nicander the Hermit of Pskov

Saint Nicander of Pskov (in Baptism Nikon) was born on 24 July 1507 into the peasant family of Philip and Anastasia in the village of Videlebo in the Pskov lands.

From childhood he dreamed of continuing the ascetic exploits of his fellow villager, Saint Euphrosynus of Spasoeleazar, the original Pskov wilderness-dweller (May 15). The first in Nikon’s family to accept monasticism was his older brother Arsenius. After the death of his father, the seventeen-year-old Nikon was able to convince his mother to dispose of the property and withdraw into a monastery, where she lived until her own end.

After visiting the monasteries of Pskov, and having venerated at the relics of Saint Euphrosynus and his disciple Saint Savva of Krypetsk (August 28), Nikon became firmly convinced of his calling to the solitary life.

In order to have the possibility of reading the Word of God, Nikon was employed as a worker for the Pskov resident Philip, who rewarded his ardor by sending him to study with an experienced teacher. Seeing the zeal of the youth, the Lord Himself directed him to the place of his ascetic effort. Intensely praying in one of the Pskov churches, he heard a voice from the altar commanding him to go to the wilderness place which the Lord would point out through His servant Theodore. The peasant Theodore led him off to the River Demyanka, between Pskov and Porkhov. Afterwards, both Philip and Theodore, who helped Saint Nicander attain his goal, were themselves to enter upon the path of monasticism, and were tonsured at the Krypetsk monastery with the names Philaret and Theodosius.

After several years of silence and severe ascetic deeds, emaciating his flesh, Nikon went to the monastery founded by Saint Savva of Krypetsk. The igumen, seeing his weakened body, would not agree to accept him at once, fearing that the difficulties of monastic life would be too much for him. Nikon fell down at the crypt of Saint Savva, and spoke to him as if to one alive, entreating him to take him into his monastery. The igumen relented and tonsured Nikon with the name Nicander.

Saint Nicander endured many temptations and woes on the path of asceticism. Blessed Nicholas (February 28) while still at Pskov predicted Saint Nicander’s “wilderness sufferings.” Through the prayers of all the Pskov Saints and Saint Alexander of Svir (August 30 and April 17), who twice appeared to him, guiding and strengthening him, and with the help of the grace of God, he overcame all the manifold snares of the Evil One.

By the power of prayer the monk conquered the weakness of flesh, human failings and diabolical apparitions. Once, robbers nearly killed him, running off with the hermit’s sole, very precious possessions, his books and icons. Through the prayers of the saint, two of them, taking fright at the sudden death of one of their comrades, repented of their wicked deeds and received forgiveness from the Elder.

Saint Nicander did not long live at the Krypetsk monastery, and he obtained a blessing to return to his own wilderness. Later, he came to live at the Krypetsk monastery once again, where he fulfilled the obediences of ecclesiarch and cellarer, and then he went into the wilderness again and lived there in fasting and prayer, meditating on the Word the God.

Once a year, during Great Lent, Saint Nicander came to the Damianov monastery, where he made his confession and received the Holy Mysteries of Christ. Eight years before his death he received the Great Schema. Many people began to come to the monk “for benefit,” since in the words of Saint John of the Ladder, “monastic life is a light for all mankind.” Believers turned to Saint Nicander for prayerful help, since the Lord had bestown on him many gifts of grace.

The wilderness-dweller had regard for all the needs of the visitors and even built lodging for them, “the guest-house at the oak,” for which he provided heat. The monk did not permit himself to show off his spiritual gifts. Going secretly to his cell, people always heard him praying with bitter tears. When he noticed there were people nearby, he immediately began to pray, concealing from them the gift of tears that he had received.

Saint Nicander to the end of his life remained a wilderness-dweller, but he gave final instructions that after his death the place of his ascetic efforts should not be forsaken, promising his protection to the settlers of a future monastery. The saint gave final directions to the deacon Peter of the Porkhov women’s monastery to build a church at his grave and transfer there the icon of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos from the Tishanka church cemetery.

He foresaw his own death, predicting that he would die when enemies invaded the fatherland, and foretelling this imminent assault. On September 24, 1581, during an invasion by the army of the Polish king Stephen Bathory, a certain peasant found the monk dead. He lay on his cot with his hands crossed on his chest. From Pskov came clergy and people who revered the monk, and among whom was also the deacon Peter, and they performed the rite of Christian burial.

In 1584 at the place of Saint Nicander’s ascetic deeds, sanctified by almost half a century of prayer, a monastery was built, which they began to call the Nikandrov wilderness-monastery. The builder of this monastery was Saint Isaiah, who had been healed through prayer to the saint.

The glorification of Saint Nicander occurred under Patriarch Joachim in 1696, and the feastdays in his memory were established for September 24, the day of his repose, and on the temple feast of the monastery, the Annunciation to the Most Holy Theotokos. During a reconstruction of the monastery cathedral church the relics of Saint Nicander were discovered, concealed in a wall. June 29 is celebrated as the day of the uncovering of his holy relics. At present, strong bonds of prayer connect believers with Saint Nicander, who is deeply venerated in the Pskov area.

Monastic Martyr Galacteon of Vologda

Monkmartyr Galacteon of Vologda: Fearing the wrath of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, kinsmen of the disgraced prince Ivan Ivanovich Belsky secretly brought his seven-year-old son Gabriel to the city of Staritsa. In the years of his growing up, and seeing the malice of the Tsar towards his family, the young prince withdrew to Vologda and lived with a shoemaker, from whom he learned the cobbler’s craft. His marriage did not last long, for his wife soon died, leaving Prince Gabriel to raise his infant daughter.

The adversities of his earthly life strengthened in him the intent to devote himself to God. Having sought out a place at the River Sodima, he dug a pit and made his cell near a church named for the Most Holy Trinity. After being tonsured with the name Galacteon, he began to labor in fasting and prayer. The ascetic did not give up his cobbler’s trade, and the money which he received from the work was divided into three portions. One part he dedicated to God, another portion he gave to the poor, and the third part he kept for his own needs.

Advancing in spiritual life, Saint Galacteon secluded himself in his cell, chaining himself to the wall. God-fearing Christians gave him food through a small window. The ascetic rested little, on his knees and holding on to the chain, and he ate only dry bread and water. In the cell of Saint Galacteon was nothing but the old matting with which he covered himself.

People soon began to come to the hermit for spiritual guidance. He received both the rich and the poor, and his words were filled with spiritual power. He consoled the grieving and brought the proud to their senses. In prayer Saint Galacteon achieved a special spiritual grace.

Once, when the Vologda region had gone a long time without rain, Bishop Anthony came to the church of the Holy Trinity with a church procession and sent a request to the hermit to come and pray with everyone for deliverance from the common woe. Saint Galacteon obediently left his cell and prayed in the church, and the Lord sent abundant rain upon the parched earth.

The ascetic had a revelation from God about impending misfortunes of Vologda. He emerged from his cell in his chains, went to an earthen hut and declared, “Our sins have brought the Poles and Lithuanians upon us. Let there be fasting and prayer, and preparations to build a temple in honor of the Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign (November 27), so that the Heavenly Queen might deliver Vologda from the wrath of God as She did before Novgorod.”

One of those present, Nechai Proskurov, said, “He is concerned not for us, but for himself; he only wants to have a church near him. And what will become of the temple when you die, Elder?”

Saint Galacteon answered gravely, “Wrath is approaching Vologda. As for me, there at my place God is glorified, and there also a monastery will be built.” He also said that the Trinity church built by Nechai would be burned and the house of Nechai laid waste. Passing the church dedicated to Saint Demetrius of Priluki (February 11), he said, “The Wonderworker Demetrius has prayed to the Savior for the city, but they insult him. Around his church they set up shops and hawk their wares. This church will be destroyed.”

The prophecy of the righteous one was soon fulfilled. In September 1612 the Polish and Lithuanians stormed into Vologda, and they killed many of the inhabitants. They defiled and plundered the churches of God, and they set afire the city and its surroundings. As Saint Galacteon predicted, the house and church built by Nechai were burned, as was also the city church named for Saint Demetrius.

Saint Galacteon was murdered by the invaders on September 24, 1612. Pious Christians buried the body of hosiomartyr in his cell. Over the place of his burial miraculous healings began to occur. In the time of Bishop Barlaam (1627-1645), a church was built in honor of the Sign Icon of the Mother of God over the relics of the hosiomartyr Galacteon, and a monastery was founded. With the blessing of Archbishop Marcellus (1645-1663), a cathedral church was built at the monastery in honor of the Holy Spirit, and the monastery took its name from this church.

Venerable Copres of Palestine

Saint Copres was found as a newborn infant by monks of the monastery of Saint Theodosius in Palestine. He lay upon a dung-hill (in Greek “kopria”), where his mother left him during an invasion of the Hagarenes (Moslems).

The monks took the infant, named him Copres, fed him goat’s milk and raised him in their monastery. Saint Copres later accepted monastic tonsure and spent his whole life in his monastery. Having attained to an high degree of virtue and the gift of wonderworking, Saint Copres died peacefully the age of ninety.

Venerable Abramius, Abbot of Mirozh, Pskov

Saint Abramius (Abraham) of Mirozh was the builder and first igumen of the Pskov Savior-Transfiguration monastery on the banks of the River Velika, where it meets the River Mirozha. The Mirozh monastery was founded in about the year 1156, in the time of Svyatopolk Mstislavich, by both Saint Abramius and by Saint Niphon, Bishop of Novgorod (April 8), a brother of the holy Prince Vsevolod-Gabriel (February 11).

This monastery, the most ancient in Pskov, was the first seed of monasticism transported to the Pskov soil from Kiev. On a chalice of Saint Niphon is inscribed: "Holy Bishop Niphon … enthroned, he built many holy monasteries and churches with the approval of Prince Vsevolod of Pskov, and upon the death of Prince Vsevolod he came … to Pskov and constructed … the church of the Transfiguration of the Lord, and a monastery of fame and beauty, and gathered brethren and appointed an igumen."

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, when the Transfiguration cathedral was remodeled, beautiful frescoes of the twelfth century were discovered, and which now receive universal acclaim. Saint Niphon also built a similar church at Ladoga, dedicated to Saint Clement of Rome, but only the foundations have been preserved.

There is little information about the life of Saint Abramius, because the monastery was inside the city walls and it was often laid waste, and served as quarters for enemy soldiers.

Saint Abramius reposed on September 24, 1158. His relics lie beneath a crypt of the cathedral church, dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Lord, in the monastery he built.

Saint Vladislav of Serbia

Holy King Vladislav of Serbia was the son of holy King Stephen, and he reigned for seven years. He was noted for his virtue and charity towards the poor, the vagrant and the misfortunate, and he built a monastery at Milesheva, where he died in 1239 and was buried.

Venerable Dorothy of Kashin

Saint Dorothy of Kashin was born in 1549 of a noble family. No information has come down to us about her name before she became a nun, or the place of her birth. From the age of twelve, she lived in a climate of civil unrest, and the area was subject to rebellion, invasion, and plague.

Later, she was married to Theodore Ladygin, and they lived north of Moscow in the region where the city of Kashin is located. They had a son named Michael. Dorothy’s husband was killed at the beginning of the seventeenth century defending the city in a battle against Polish and Lithuanian invaders. She was close to sixty years old at that time.

After suffering this terrible loss, Saint Dorothy decided to leave the world and enter the women’s monastery of the Meeting of the Lord in Kashin. In this same monastery were the relics of Saint Anna of Kashin (October 2). The monastery had been sacked along with the city, so conditions there were anything but easy.

Saint Dorothy built a small cell in the ruins, and there she engaged in ascetical struggles. She found the Korsun icon of the Mother of God (October 9) in the debris and kept it in her cell. This icon later became known for its miracles.

She did not move to another monastery when she grew older, but preferred to remain in the semi-wilderness around Kashin. She tried to help those who were suffering during this time, encouraging and consoling them. Whatever money she had left after her husband’s death was used to restore the monastery, or to benefit the poor.

Saint Dorothy had once lived in luxury, but now she was reduced to poverty, enduring every affliction and sorrow with great patience. She prayed continually for her husband, her monastery, and the city of Kashin.

Once the danger had passed, the other nuns started coming back to the monastery. Saint Dorothy’s holy and virtuous life also inspired other women to become nuns. They all wanted her as their abbess, but Saint Dorothy refused this office, preferring to live as a humble nun. For the rest of her life, however, she was an example to the sisters.

In 1615, Saint Dorothy received the Great Schema and increased her spiritual efforts. She fell asleep in the Lord when she was about eighty on September 24, 1629 after living in the monastery for more than twenty years.

She was buried on the north side of the monastery church. A white memorial stone was placed over her grave, and the inscription was clearly legible until the twentieth century. Many miracles have taken place at her grave for those who entreat her with faith.

Venerable Silouan of Mount Athos

No information available at this time.

“Mirozh” Icon of the Mother of God

The Mirozh Icon appeared at the Mirozh monastery in the year 1198. But later, during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, at a time when a plague raged at Pskov, an ancient report tells how tears flowed from both eyes of the icon. Many benefits and healings for man occured from the icon of the Mother of God.

The Mirozh Icon is an “Orans” (“Praying”) type. On either side of the Most Holy Theotokos stand the Pskov Saints: on the right, the holy Prince Dovmont-Timothy (May 20); on the left, his wife, the holy nun Martha, in the world named Maria Dimitrievna (November 8, 1300). Tsar Ivan Vasilievich took away the wonderworking icon from Pskov, but at the monastery an exact copy remained: the so-called “Great Panagia” from the Savior-Mirozh monastery.

On September 24, 1567, on the Feast of Saint Abraham at the Mirozh monastery there occurred a miraculous sign from an ancient icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. The celebration of the Mirozh Icon of the Sign was established in that same year, with the blessing of Archbishop Pimen of Novgorod and Pskov. A special service to this icon was composed, and was published in the 1666 MENAION.

Icon of the Mother of God “of the Myrtle Tree”

The Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Of the Myrtle Tree” (Myrtidiotissa) is in the monastery church of Myrtides on the Greek island of Kythera. It derives its name from the fact that it was found in a myrtle bush in the fourteenth century.

At that time, a shepherd was tending his sheep in a deserted valley which was filled with myrtle bushes. On September 24, forty days after the Dormition, the Mother of God appeared to him and told him to seek her icon which had been brought to that place many years before.

The shepherd fell to the ground in amazement, praying to the Theotokos. As soon as he got up and turned around, he saw the icon in the branches of a myrtle bush. Weeping for joy, he brought the icon home and told his friends and relatives about how he had found it.

When he awoke the next morning, the shepherd found the icon missing, and thought that perhaps someone had stolen it during the night. With a heavy heart, he led his sheep back to the spot where he had found the icon. To his amazement, he saw the icon once again in the branches of the myrtle bush. Glorifying God, the man took the icon home with him once more. The next morning, it had disappeared just as it had before. When this happened a third time, the shepherd realized that the Mother of God wanted her icon to remain where it had first appeared.

A small church was built to house the icon, and was called “Of the Myrtle Tree,” after the icon. The building was replaced and enlarged over the years, and many miracles took place there.

At the end of the sixteenth century Theodore Koumprianos, a descendant of the shepherd who found the icon, lived in the village of Kousoumari. He was a paralytic, and had an unshakeable faith that the Mother of God would heal him. Each year on September 24 he sent a family member to the church to light candles for him. One year he asked to be carried there by his family so that he might venerate the icon himself. During the Vigil, a great noise was heard coming from the direction of the sea. People fled the church, thinking that pirates were attacking. The paralytic remained in the church by himself, entreating the Mother of God for protection. Suddenly, he heard a voice from the icon telling him to get up and flee. He stood up, and then walked out of the church. Soon he was able to run and catch up with his relatives, who rejoiced upon seeing this miracle. As it turned out, there was no pirate attack, and the noise was regarded as a sign of God’s providence so that the paralytic could remain alone in church with the icon. Since that time the Koumprianos family has celebrated the icon’s Feast Day with a special reverence, since Theodore had been healed on that day.

Some of the other miracles associated with the Most Holy Theotokos and her icon “Of the Myrtle Tree” include protection of the island from the plague, ending the barrenness of a Jewish woman from Alexandria, saving people from death, and many other great wonders.

Pilgrims come to venerate the icon on the Feast of the Dormition (August 15), and also on the day of its discovery (September 24).

Venerable Simon of Serbia

No information available at this time.

Venerable David of Serbia

Saint David, a nephew of holy King Stephen, in the world had the name Demetrius. He built a monastery at Brodarova, at the River Lima, and there he received monastic tonsure with the name David and lived an ascetical life to the end of his days.

Holy King Stephen of Serbia

Holy King Stephen of Serbia was the first ruler of Serbia to be crowned as king. His father was Saint Stephen Nemanya (February 13). King Stephen died in 1224, accepting monastic tonsure with the name Simeon before his death. He was buried in the Studenitsa monastery.

Daily Readings for Friday, September 23, 2022

THE CONCEPTION OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST

ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL

The Conception of St. John the Baptist, Xanthippe & Polyxene the Righteous, John the New Martyr of Epiros, Nicholas the New Martyr

ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS 4:22-27

Brethren, Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in travail; for the children of the desolate one are many more than the children of her that is married.”

LUKE 1:5-25

At that time, in the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
And Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared." And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time." And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and they wondered at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she hid herself, saying, "Thus the Lord has done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.

Conception of the Honorable Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

The Conception of the Venerable Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John: The holy Prophet Malachi prophesied that before the Messiah’s birth His Forerunner would appear, and would indicate His coming. The Jews therefore in awaiting the Messiah also awaited the appearance of His Forerunner.

In a city of the hills of Judea in the land of Palestine lived the righteous priest Saint Zachariah and his wife Saint Elizabeth, zealously observing the commandments of the Lord. The couple, however, had a misfortune: they remained childless in their old age, and they prayed unceasingly to God to grant them a child.

Once, when Saint Zachariah took his turn as priest at the Temple of Jerusalem, he went into the Sanctuary to offer incense. Going behind the veil of the Sanctuary, he beheld an angel of God standing at the right side of the altar of incense.

Saint Zachariah was astonished and halted in fear, but the angel said to him, “Fear not, Zachariah, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.” But Zachariah did not believe the words of the heavenly messenger, and then the angel said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you the good news. Behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words….”

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zachariah and they were astonished that he had not come out from the Sanctuary after so long a time. And when he did come out, he was supposed to pronounce a blessing upon the people, but could not do so because he had been struck speechless. When Zachariah explained by gestures that he was unable to speak, the people then understood that he had experienced a vision. The prophecy of the Archangel was fulfilled, and Righteous Elizabeth was delivered from her barrenness, and gave birth to John, the Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord.

Saints Polyxene and Xanthippe, disciples of the Apostles, who died in Spain

The Monastic Women Xanthippe and Polyxene were sisters by birth and they lived in Spain in the time of the holy Apostles. They were among the first to hear the divine teaching of Christ the Savior from the holy Apostle Paul, when he preached in their land.

Saint Xanthippe and her husband Probus accepted Christianity, but Saint Polyxene was still a pagan when a certain man became entranced with her extraordinary beauty and forcibly carried her off to Greece on a ship. The Lord preserved her unharmed. On the voyage, the saint heard the preaching of the holy Apostle Peter and believed in Christ.

When she arrived in Greece, Saint Polyxene turned to the Christians for protection and defense and they hid her in the city of Patra in Achaia, where she formally accepted Christianity and was baptized by the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called himself.

She became a witness to his miracles, and how he patiently and humbly endured his sufferings and death. She stood at the cross upon which they crucified the holy Apostle Andrew. After his martyric death, Saint Polyxene returned to Spain, where she and her older sister Xanthippe converted many pagans to Christ. Saint Polyxene toiled for about forty years preaching the Gospel in Spain. Saint Xanthippe shared in her sister’s work and preached in the populous city of Toledo.

Saint Polyxene reposed in about the year 109, having preserved her virginity to the end of her earthly life.

Virgin Martyr Irais (Rhais) of Alexandria

The Holy Martyr Iraida lived at Alexandria. Once, she went to a well to draw water and saw a ship at the shore. On board were a large number of men, women, clergy and monks, all fettered in chains for their confession of the Christian Faith.

Casting aside her water pitcher, the saint voluntarily joined the prisoners for Christ, and fetters were placed on her, too. When the ship arrived in the Egyptian city of Antipolis, Saint Iraida was the first to undergo fierce torments and was beheaded with the sword. After her, the other martyrs sealed their confession of faith in Christ with their blood.

Martyrs Andrew, John, and John’s children: Peter and Antonius, of Syracuse, martyred in Africa

The Holy Martyrs Andrew and John, and John’s children Peter and Antoninus, suffered in the ninth century in the time of the cruel African ruler Ibrahim. After the capture and destruction of the Sicilian city of Syracuse, Ibrahim captured and brought to Africa Saint John and his two children, Peter and Antoninus, whom he compelled to study the Arab language and sciences.

When the youths had grown, Prince Ibrahim was so fond of them for their wisdom and virtuous life, that he named Antoninus his kinsman, and he appointed Peter as his chief steward. Once he learned that the youths secretly confessed faith in Christ, however, Ibrahim flew into a furious rage, ordering them to be bound with iron shackles and beaten with knotted rods.

After prolonged scourging, they put Saint Antoninus on a donkey, tied him on with straps, then drove him through the city, beating and ridiculing him with abuse. The martyr endured all the insults and gave thanks to God. Saint Peter was thrown into prison after a fierce beating with the rods.

An order was issued to arrest John, the father of the holy martyrs. The brutal Ibrahim grabbed him by the neck with his left hand, and with his right he thrust a knife into his throat. They cast the dead body of the father, together with the bodies of his sons, into a large fire.

As for Saint Andrew, the torturer wore him down with hunger, and then ran him through with a spear in the chest. When the martyr prayerfully began to give thanks to God, Ibrahim ran him through a second time. As he lay dying from loss of blood, they beheaded the righteous martyr with a sword.

Icon of the Mother of God of Slovenka

The Slovenka Icon of the Mother of God manifested itself on September 23, 1635 at the village of Slovenka, Kostroma district. A certain hunter while hunting by chance discovered a small rickety church, overgrown with moss. He went inside and saw that all the church utensils had rotted with time, except for the altar icon of the Mother of God, which was perfectly unharmed. A monastery was afterwards built at this place.