Category Archives: Daily Readings

Daily Readings for Wednesday, June 07, 2023



1st Wednesday after Pentecost, The Holy Martyr Theodotus of Ancyra, Our Righteous Father Panagis (Paisios) Basias, Tarasios & John the Martyrs, Sebastian the Wonderworker, Zenais the Martyr


Brethren, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

MATTHEW 5:20-26

The Lord said to his disciples, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother without cause shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.”

Hieromartyr Theodotus, Bishop of Ancyra

The Holy Martyr Theodotus lived in Ancyra of Galatia in the third century. He was distinguished by his kindliness and concern. At the height of the persecution under Diocletian (284-305) he provided Christians with everything they needed, and gave them shelter in his home. There they secretly celebrated church services.

Saint Theodotus visited the Christian captives in prison, paid their bail, and reverently buried the bodies of martyrs who had been thrown to the wild beasts. Once he buried the bodies of seven holy women martyrs, who were drowned in the sea (May 18). This was reported to the governor.

After refusing to offer sacrifice to idols, and denouncing the folly of paganism, Saint Theodotus confessed Christ as God, for which they subjected him to terrible tortures and beheaded him with a sword. They wanted to burn the holy martyr’s body, but could not do so because of a storm which had arisen, so they gave his holy relics to a certain Christian for burial.

Saint Theodotus is also commemorated on May 18.

Hieromartyr Marcellinus, Pope of Rome, and those with him

Saint Marcellinus was Pope of Rome during the height of the persecution against Christians under Diocletian and Maximian (284-305), when 17,000 men were martyred a single month. During this time Saint Marcellinus was also arrested. Afraid of the fierce tortures, he burned incense and offered sacrifice to idols. The emperor called him his friend and clothed him in splendid robes. Although he had encouraged others to undergo torture for Christ, he gave in to cowardice. He wept bitterly, filled with remorse.

During this time, a Synod of 180 bishops and presbyters met at the city of Sinuessa (in Campania). Saint Marcellinus appeared at the assembly in penitential sackcloth, his head sprinkled with ashes. He confessed his sin before the delegates and asked them to judge him. The Fathers of the Council said, “Judge yourself! From your lips this sin came forth, from your lips let judgment be pronounced. We know that even Saint Peter denied Christ out of fear, but he wept bitterly for his sin, and received forgiveness from the Lord.”

Then Marcellinus pronounced sentence upon himself, “I strip myself of the priestly dignity, of which I am unworthy. After death, do not bury my body, but instead throw it to the dogs. Cursed be the one who dares to bury it.”

Upon his return to Rome Marcellinus went to the emperor, threw down the fine clothing given him, and said that he regretted his renunciation of Christ. The enraged emperor had him tortured, and sentenced him to death.

Saint Marcellinus prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who mercifully receives sinners who repent, then willingly placed his head beneath the sword. The holy martyrs Claudius, Cyrinus and Antoninus were beheaded with him.

The body of Saint Marcellinus lay for thirty-six days along the wayside. Appearing in a vision to the new bishop Marcellus, the holy Apostle Peter said, “Why have you not buried the body of Marcellinus?”

“I fear his curse,” replied Saint Marcellus.

“Perhaps you do not remember,” said the Apostle Peter, “that it is written: ‘He that humbles himself shall be exalted.’ Therefore, go bury his body with reverence.”

Fulfilling the command of the Apostle Peter, Saint Marcellus buried the body of Saint Marcellinus in a crypt, built for the burial of the bodies of martyrs by the illustrious Priscilla, along the Via Salaria.

Hieromartyr Sisinius the Deacon of Rome and those with him

Saint Sisinius the deacon suffered at Rome along with the hieromartyr Marcellinus, Bishop of Rome, the holy deacon Cyriacus; also Smaragdus, Largus, Apronian, Saturninus, Crescentian, Papias and Maurus and the holy women martyrs Priscilla, Lucy and the Emperor’s daughter Artemia during the persecution of Diocletian and Maximian (284-305) and their successors, Galerius (305-311) and Maxentius (305-312).

The emperor Maximian, ruler of the Western Roman Empire, deprived all Christians of military rank and sent them into penal servitude.

A certain rich Christian, Thrason, sent food and clothing to the prisoners through the Christians Sisinius, Cyriacus, Smaragdus and Largus. Marcellus thanked Thrason for his generosity, and ordained Sisinius and Cyriacus as deacons.

While rendering aid to the captives, Sisinius and Cyriacus also were arrested and condemned to harsh labor. They fulfilled not only their own work quota, but worked also for the dying captive Saturninus. Therefore, Maximian sent Sisinius to Laodicius, the governor of the district.

They locked the saint in prison. The head of the prison, Apronian, summoned Sisinius for interrogation but, seeing his face shine with a heavenly light, he believed in Christ and was baptized. Later, he went with Sisinius to Marcellus and received Chrismation. Marcellus served the Liturgy, and they partook of the Holy Mysteries.

On June 7, Saints Sisinius and Saturninus were brought before Laodicius in the company of Apronian. Apronian confessed that he was a Christian, and was beheaded. Saints Sisinius and Saturninus were thrown into prison. Then Laodicius gave orders to bring them to a pagan temple to offer sacrifice. Saturninus said, “If only the Lord would turn the pagan idols into dust!”

At that very moment the tripods, on which incense burned before the idols, melted. Seeing this miracle, the soldiers Papias and Maurus confessed Christ. After prolonged tortures Sisinius and Saturninus were beheaded, and Papias and Maurus were locked up in prison, where they prayed to receive illumination by holy Baptism. The Lord fulfilled their desire. Leaving the prison without being noticed, they received Baptism from Marcellus and returned to the prison.

At the trial they again confessed themselves Christians and died under terrible tortures. Their holy bodies were buried by the priest John and Thrason.

Saints Cyriacus, Smaragdus, Largus and other Christian prisoners continued to languish at hard labor.

Diocletian’s daughter Artemia suffered from demonic oppression. Having learned that the prisoner Cyriacus could heal infirmities and cast out devils, the emperor summoned him to the sick girl. In gratitude for the healing of his daughter, the emperor freed Cyriacus, Smaragdus and Largus. Soon the emperor sent Cyriacus to Persia to heal the daughter of the Persian emperor.

Upon his return to Rome, Cyriacus was arrested on orders of the emperor Galerius, the son-in-law of Diocletian, who had abdicated and retired as emperor. Galerius was very annoyed at his predecessor because his daughter Artemia had converted to Christianity. He gave orders to drag Cyriacus behind his chariot stripped, bloodied, and in chains, to be shamed and ridiculed by the crowds.

Marcellus denounced the emperor openly before everyone for his cruelty toward innocent Christians. The emperor ordered the holy bishop to be beaten with rods, and dealt severely with him. Saints Cyriacus, Smaragdus, Largus, and another prisoner, Crescentian, died under torture. And at this time the emperor’s daughter Artemia and another twenty-one prisoners were also executed with Cyriacus.

Marcellus was secretly freed by Roman clergy. Exhuming the bodies of the holy martyrs Cyriacus, Smaragdus and Largus, they reburied them on the estates of two Christian women, Priscilla and Lucy, on the outskirts of Rome, after they had transformed Lucy’s house into a church.

Ascending the throne, Maxentius gave orders to destroy the church and turn it into a stockyard, and he sentenced the holy bishop to herd the cattle. Exhausted by hunger and cold, and wearied by the tortures of the soldiers, Marcellus became ill and died in the year 310.

Martyrs Kyriake, Kaleria, and Mary of Caesarea, in Palestine

The holy women martyrs Kyriake, Kaleria (Valeria), and Mary lived in Palestinian Caesarea during the persecution under Diocletian (284-305). Having received instruction in the Christian Faith, they abandoned paganism, settled in a solitary place and spent their lives in prayer, beseeching the Lord that the persecution against Christians would come to an end, and that the Faith of Christ would shine throughout all the world.

The governor tried to force them to worship idols, but they bravely confessed their faith in Christ. For this reason, they were tortured and received the crown of martyrdom.

Martyr Zēnaίda (Zenais) of Caesarea in Palestine

There is very little information about Saint Zēnaίda, except that she was born in 284, in Caesarea of Palestine, and that she was found worthy of the charism of working miracles. She ended the course of her life with a martyric death.

The Byzantine Synaxarion mentions that Saint Zēnaίda's veneration was widespread in Constantinople, where her Synaxis took place on June 6, at a church dedicated to her in the Basilisk district.

There are a number of hagiographic sources which mention the name of Saint Zēnaίda. Among them, a Neapolitan calendar of the IX century (June 7); a printed Greek Menaion (Venice, 1591; and the Synaxaristes of Saint Νikόdēmos of the Holy Mountain.

In the Roman Martyrology of Cardinal Caesar Baronius, Zēnaίda is mistakenly listed under June 5 with the martyrs Valeria, Kyriakḗ, and Maria.

Venerable Daniel of Sketis

Abba Daniel lived in the sixth century, becoming a monk at Sketis when he was a young boy. He was taken prisoner when Sketis was attacked by barbarians, who held him captive for two years. Saint Daniel was was bought by a devout Christian, but then he was recaptured. After six months, while attempting to escape, he struck one of his captors with a stone and killed him, and then he made his escape and returned to Sketis. The sin of murder was a heavy burden on his conscience. Uncertain about what he ought to do, he went to Patriarch Timothy of Alexandria, and asked for his advice.

The Patriarch heard his Confession, but did not give him a penance. Still his conscience continued to trouble him, and he went to Rome to see the Pope. The Pope gave him the same reply as the Patriarch had done. Disappointed, Abba Daniel visited the other Patriarchs in turn, going to Constantinople, Antioch and Jerusalem, confessing to each of them and asking for advice. He found no peace, however. So he returned home to Alexandria and surrendered himself to the civil authorities as a murderer, and was thrown into prison. At his trial before the governor, Daniel told him all that had happened, and begged to be executed, so that his soul might be saved from the eternal fire. The governor was astonished by his story, and said to him, "Go your way, Father, and pray to God for me, and I wish you had killed seven more!"

Still dissatisfied with this, Daniel resolved to take a leper into his cell and care for him until he died, and then he would find another. He did as he had resolved, and in this way brought peace to his conscience.

Once, as Abba Daniel and Abba Ammon were walking together, Abba Ammon said, "When will we sit in our own cell, Father?" Abba Daniel replied, "Who can separate us from God? God is in the cell, and God is also outside of it."

He became so renowned for his virtues that he was named Igoumen of Sketis and he was revered throughout Egypt as "a new Abraham, and the host of Christ." He visited Saint Anastasia the Patrician (March 10) on the day of her death. She had disguised herself as a eunuch and lived in a men's monastery eighteen miles from Sketis. Saint Daniel discovered that she was a woman when he prepared her body for burial.

Abba Daniel encountered saints who wished to remain hidden, such as the Mark the Fool of Alexandria, or the nun at the Ermopoleos Monastery of Abba Jeremiah. She feigned drunkenness, earning the contempt of the other nuns. Saint Daniel and his disciple sought shelter in the monastery, and at night they saw that nun lifting her arms to Heaven, weeping copiously, and making prostrations. The following night they had the Igoumeness watch with them so she could see how that despised nun spent her nights. When her holy life became known, she left the monastery so that she would not be praised by the other nuns.

Saint Daniel is also mentioned in the Life of Saint Thomais, who was killed by her father-in-law because she wished to preserve her chastity (April 13 in Slavic usage, April 14 in Greek usage), in the Life of Saint Eulogios the Hospitable (April 27), in the Life of Saints Andronikos and Athanasia (October 9), as well as in the Life of Abba Doula.

Daily Readings for Tuesday, June 06, 2023



1st Tuesday after Pentecost, Hilarion the New of Dalmation Monastery, Bessarion the Wonderworker of Egypt, 5 Virgins of Caesarea: Martha, Mary, Cyris, Valeria & Marcia


Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ; To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I want you to know, brethren, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish: so I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

MATTHEW 4:23-25;5:1-13

At that time, Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Dekapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.
You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.

Postfeast of Pentecost — 3rd Day of the Trinity

Many of the hymns of Pentecost are repeated in the postfestal services of this week, and references to the Holy Spirit, and to fire, abound. In particular, we are reminded of the Unburnt Bush (Exodus 3:2), the zealous Prophet Elias who ascended to Heaven in a chariot of fire, the three youths in the fiery furnace, and the Lord descending on Mt. Sinai in fire (Exodus 19:18).

As we commemorate the Holy Spirit this week, we look forward to the Sunday of All Saints, those righteous men and women of all nations and in every age, who were perfected and sanctified by the same Holy Spirit.

Venerable Bessarion, Wonderworker of Egypt

Saint Bessarion, Wonderworker of Egypt was an Egyptian. He was baptized while still in his youth, and he led a strict life, striving to preserve the grace given him during Baptism. Seeking to become more closely acquainted with the monastic life, he journeyed to the holy places. He was in Jerusalem, he visited Saint Gerasimus (March 4) in the Jordanian wilderness, he viewed other desert monasteries, and assimilated all the rules of monastic life.

Upon his return, he received monastic tonsure and became a disciple of Saint Isidore of Pelusium (February 4). Saint Bessarion took a vow of silence, and partook of food only once a week. Sometimes he remained without food or drink for forty days. Once, the saint stood motionless for forty days and forty nights without food or sleep, immersed in prayer.

Saint Bessarion received from God the gift of wonderworking. When his disciple was very thirsty, he sweetened bitter water. By his prayer the Lord sent rain upon the earth, and he could cross a river as if on dry land. With a single word he cast out devils, but he did this privately to avoid glory.

His humility was so great that once, when a priest ordered someone from the skete to leave church for having fallen into sin, Bessarion also went with him saying, “I am a sinner, too.” Saint Bessarion slept only while standing or sitting. A large portion of his life was spent under the open sky in prayerful solitude. He peacefully departed to the Lord in his old age.

Venerable Hilarion the New, Abbot of the Dalmatian Monastery

Saint Hilarion the New was born of pious parents, Peter and Theodosia, who raised him in the virtues and instructed him in Holy Scripture. At twelve years of age Saint Hilarion was tonsured as a monk at the Hesychius monastery near Constantinople, and from there he transferred to the Dalmatus monastery, where he received the Great Schema and became a disciple of Saint Gregory the Dekapolite (November 20).

The monk deeply venerated his God-bearing patron Saint Hilarion the Great (October 21), and he strove to imitate his life, so he came to be called Hilarion the New. At the Dalmatus monastery, he was ordained presbyter. After the death of the igumen the brethren wanted to elect Saint Hilarion to this position, but learning of this, he secretly fled to Constantinople.

Then the monks of Dalmatus monastery sent a petition to Patriarch Nikēphóros, asking that Saint Hilarion be assigned as igumen. The Patriarch summoned the saint and persuaded him to give his assent. Saint Hilarion submitted out of holy obedience. For eight years he peacefully guided the monastery, but in the year 813 the iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820) occupied the imperial throne. The saint refused to dishonor the holy icons, and he boldly accused the emperor of heresy, for which he endured many torments. They locked him up in prison for awhile, and vexed him with hunger and thirst.

The impious Patriarch Theodotus, who replaced the exiled Patriarch Nikēphóros, caused the monk much suffering in demanding that he abandon Orthodoxy. The monks of the Dalmatus monastery went to the emperor and asked him to release the saint, promising to submit to the imperial will. After they returned to the monastery, however, Saint Hilarion and the monks continued to venerate the holy icons. The enraged emperor again threw the monk into prison. He gave the saint over to torture with all the means at his disposal, hoping to change his mind.

The wrath of God soon overtook the wicked emperor. He was cut down by his own soldiers in church at the very spot where he had once thrown down a holy icon. The new emperor Michael II (820-829) freed Saint Hilarion from his imprisonment, and the saint settled into a monastic cell. Upon the death of Saint Theodore the Studite (November 11), who also suffered for the holy icons, Saint Hilarion beheld holy angels taking the soul of Saint Theodore to Heaven.

Under the iconoclast emperor Theophilus (829-842), Saint Hilarion was again put under guard and beaten terribly, then they confined him on the island of Aphousia.

After the death of Theophilus, the holy empress Saint Theodora (842-855) gave orders to recall the confessors from exile. Saint Hilarion returned to the Dalmatus monastery, again agreeing to be igumen. He departed peacefully in the year 845.

Saint Jonah, Bishop of Perm

Saint Jonah, Bishop of Great Perm, was successor to Saint Pitirim, Bishop of Perm (August 19), who was murdered by the Vogulani in 1455. In the year 1462 Saint Jonah converted the inhabitants of Great Perm to Christ. He journeyed throughout his extensive diocese to spread and consolidate the Christian Faith. The saint reposed on June 6, 1470 and was buried at Ust-Vym at the Annunciation cathedral.

Venerable Paisius, Abbot of Uglich

Saint Paisius of Uglich was igumen of the Protection monastery, near Uglich. He was born in the Tver district near the city of Kashin, and he was a nephew of Saint Macarius of Kalyazin (March 17).

Saint Paisius entered his uncle’s monastery after the death of his parents, when he was just an eleven-year-old child. Under his uncle’s guidance, Saint Paisius led a monastic life of obedience, fasting and prayer, and he was put to work copying soul-saving books.

“A man wondrous of spirit, famed teacher of holiness and most astounding wonderworker, he founded (in 1464) the cenobitic Protection monastery three versts from Uglich at the wish of Prince Andrew, and he was chosen igumen.” Saint Paisius was also “founder and organizer of the holy Nikolsky Grekhozaruchnya monastery in 1489.”

Struggling at the Protection monastery, Saint Paisius lived into old age and died on June 6, 1504. His relics, glorified by miracles, rest beneath a crypt in the Protection monastery.

Saint Paisius is also commemorated on January 8.

Venerable Jonah, Abbot of Klimetzk

Saint Jonah of Klimetzk, in the world John, became a monk, and founded the Klimetzk Trinity Monastery in fulfillment of a vow.

In 1490 he had been caught by a storm on Lake Onega. When there was no hope for survival, John cried out to the Lord, entreating Him to preserve his life so he might repent and serve God. The boat was thrown onto a sandbar by the waves. There he heard the voice of the Lord commanding him to found a monastery in honor of the Life-Creating Trinity.

He miraculously discovered a holy icon on a juniper tree. The saint fulfilled the will of the Lord and built a monastery with two churches, one dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity and the other in honor of Saint Nicholas, protector of those who sail and those who travel.

Refusing the rank of igumen, Saint Jonah remained a simple monk at the monastery. He died on June 6, 1534. A church was built over his relics, and was dedicated to Saints Zachariah and Elizabeth.

Virgin Martyrs Archelais, Thekla, and Susanna, at Salerno

The Holy Virgin Martyrs Archelais, Thekla and Susanna sought salvation in a small monastery near Rome. During the persecution by Diocletian (284-305), the holy virgins dressed themselves in men’s clothing, cut their hair and went to the Italian province of Campania. Settling in a remote area, they continued to pursue an ascetical life of fasting and prayer. They received the gift of healing from God, and treated the local inhabitants, converting many pagans to Christ.

When the governor of the district heard about them, he had them brought to Salerno. He threatened Saint Archelais with torture and death if she did not offer sacrifice to idols. With firm hope in the Lord, the saint refused to submit to the command, and she denounced the folly of worshipping soulless statues. Then the governor ordered the saint to be torn apart by hungry lions, but the beasts meekly lay at her feet. In a rage the governor ordered the lions to be killed, and locked the holy virgins in prison.

In the morning, having suspended Saint Archelais, the torturers began to rake her with iron utensils and pour hot tar on the wounds. The saint prayed even more loudly, and suddenly a light shone over her and a voice was heard, “Fear not, for I am with you.”

The saint was defended by the power of God. When they wanted to crush her with an immense stone, an angel pushed it to the other side, and it crushed the torturers instead. A judge ordered soldiers to behead the holy virgins, but the soldiers did not dare to put their hands upon the saints. Then Saints Archelais, Thekla and Susanna said to the soldiers, “If you do not fulfill the command, you shall have no respect from us.” The holy martyrs were beheaded in 293.

In the nineteenth century, Saint Susanna appeared to a disciple of Elder Boniface saying, “We must pray to God with the soul, the mind, and the heart.” She is described as a maiden of untold beauty, with a soft, pleasant voice.

Pimenov Icon of the Mother of God

The first mention of the Pimenov Icon dates from the second half of the XVI century. There is a brief chronicler's note for the years 1404-1407 in the book Grades of Royal Genealogy: "A miracle occurred in Moscow at the home of the Tyutryum family, where myron flowed from the icons of the Mother of God and of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker." This is supplemented by the following information: "Metropolitan Pimen of all Russia brought the miraculous Icon from Constantinople, and for many years it remained in the great cathedral church."

"Tyutryum, a certain well-known merchant, begged the clergy of the cathedral to bring the Icon to his house and serve a Moleben, as is the custom; for because of his faith, he had a great desire to see the Icon of the Mother of God in his home."

This Hodēgḗtria Icon is associated with Metropolitan Pimen of Kiev and all Rus who, according to tradition, brought the wonderworking Icon from Constantinople in 1381 or 1386. At first, the Icon was in the altar of the Dormition cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, then it was moved to the Annunciation cathedral. Until 1918 it was in the Peace Chamber of the Kremlin palace, and then in the State Historical Museum, from which it was transferred to the Tretyakov Gallery in 1930.

Metropolitan Pimen (circa 1304 – September 11, 1389) was known as Pimen the Greek, and served as Metropolitan of Moscow (technically Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus') from 1382–1384. He is not numbered among the Saints, however.

Martyr Gelasius

Saint Gelasius, the holy martyr of Christ, lived during a time of fierce persecution. He gave away all his property and possessions to the poor, put on a long white garment, and went to visit those who were facing martyrdom.

Since these Christians had been tortured in various ways, Saint Gelasius kissed their wounds and encouraged them to remain steadfast in their confession of Christ. When the pagans saw him doing this they seized him and brought him before their ruler. When he was questioned he proclaimed Christ as the true God, denouncing the idols as deaf and inanimate objects.

The governor mocked him and had him flogged. Finally, he ordered that the saint’s head be cut off, and so Saint Gelasius received the unfading crown of martyrdom from the Lord.

This saint should not be confused with the third century saint Gelasius (one of the ten martyrs of Crete, commemorated on December 23), Saint Gelasius of Palestine (December 31), nor with Saint Gerasimus the actor of Heliopolis (February 27).

Daily Readings for Monday, June 05, 2023



Monday of the Holy Spirit, The Holy Hieromartyr Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre, Holy Martyrs Nicandrus, Gorgus and Apollonus and those with them, Christophoros & Konon the Martyrs of Rome


Brethren, walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.

MATTHEW 18:10-20

The Lord said, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. For the Son of man came to save the lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven, for where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Postfeast of Pentecost — Day of the Holy Spirit

On the day after every Great Feast, the Orthodox Church honors the one through whom the Feast is made possible. On the day following the Nativity of the Lord, for example, we celebrate the Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos (December 26). On the day after Theophany, we commemorate Saint John the Baptist (January 7), and so on.

Today we honor the all-Holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, Who descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost in the form of fiery tongues in fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to send the Comforter to His disciples (JN 14:16). That same Holy Spirit remains within the Church throughout the ages, guiding it “into all truth” (JN 16:13).

One of the hymns at Vespers on Saturday evening tells us that the Holy Spirit “provides all things. He gushes forth prophecy, He perfects the priesthood, … He holds together the whole institution of the Church.”

At Vespers on the day of Pentecost, we hear that the Holy Spirit is “the Fountain of goodness, through Whom the Father is known, and the Son is glorified.” He is “the living Fountain of spiritual gifts” Who “purifies us from our sins.” It is by the Holy Spirit that “the prophets, divine Apostles, and martyrs are crowned.” He is the source of life and of sanctification.

In the services of this day, we sing the same hymns as on Pentecost, except the Canon of the Holy Spirit, which is sung at Compline. The Vigil is not prescribed for the eve of today’s feast. We sing the Great Doxology at Matins, but not the Polyeleos. The Irmos of the Ninth Ode (“Hail, O Queen, glory of mothers and virgins…”) is sung in place of the Song of the Theotokos (“My soul magnifies the Lord…”).

At the Liturgy, the priest or deacon chants the Entrance Verse (“Be exalted in Thy strength, O Lord. We will sing and praise Thy power.”) as on the day of Pentecost. “Holy God” replaces “As many as have been baptized….” The dismissal of Pentecost is also used.

This whole week is fast-free, and the Leave-taking of Pentecost occurs on Saturday.

Hieromartyr Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre

The Hieromartyr Dorotheus was bishop of the Phoenician city of Tyre, during the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Heeding the words of the Gospel (Mt.10:23), the saint withdrew from Tyre and hid from the persecutors. He returned to Tyre during the reign of Saint Constantine the Great (306-337, May 21), again occupying the bishop’s throne he guided his flock for more than fifty years, and converted many of the pagans to Christianity. When the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) began openly to persecute Christians, Saint Dorotheus was already over 100 years old. He withdrew from Tyre to the Myzean city of Udum (present day Bulgarian Varna). Delegates of the emperor arrested him there for his refusal to offer sacrifice to idols. They began to torture the holy Elder, and under torture he surrendered his soul to the Lord (+ ca. 362) at the age of 107.

Some ascribe to Saint Dorotheus the compilation of a work, “The Synopsis”, a collection of sayings, and including lives of the holy prophets and apostles.

Translation of the relics of the Right-believing Igor-George, Tonsured Gabriel, Grand Prince of Chernigov, and Kiev

The Transfer of Relics of Saint Igor, Great Prince of Kiev The Kievan Great Prince Igor Ol’govich, in holy Baptism George (September 19), in the year 1146 suffered defeat and was taken captive by prince Izyaslav, who imprisoned him in one of the monasteries of Russian or Southern Pereyaslavl’ (now Pereyaslavl’-Khmel’nitsk). Far removed from the vanities of this world, and grievously ill, he began to repent of his sins and asked permission to be tonsured a monk. On January 5, 1147 Bishop Euthymius of Pereyaslavl’ tonsured him into monasticism with the name Gabriel. Soon he recovered his health and transferred to the Kiev Theodorov monastery, where he became a schemamonk with the name Ignatius, and devoted himself entirely to monastic efforts.

But a storm of fratricidal hatred raged over Kiev. The Chernigov princes, cousins of Igor, plotted to entice Izyaslav of Kiev into a joint campaign with the aim of capturing, or even killing him. The plot was uncovered when the prince was already on the way to Chernigov. The Kievans were in an uproar in learning of the ruse of the Chernigovichi, and they stormed into the place where the innocent Saint Igor was. Saint Igor was brutally murdered on September 19, 1147.

The Lord glorified the sufferer with miracles. With the blessing of Metropolitan Clement Smolyatich, Igumen Ananias of the Theodorov monastery buried the passion-bearer in the church of the Kiev Simonov monastery. On June 5, 1150, when the Kiev throne had become occupied by Yuri Dolgoruky, his confederate and the murdered Igor’s brother, the Chernigov prince Svyatoslav Ol’govich, solemnly transferred the holy relics of Saint Igor to Chernigov his native region, where they were placed into a reliquary in the Savior cathedral church. Then also the Feastday in memory of the saint was established.

Blessed Constantine, Metropolitan of Kiev

In 1147 Saint Igor Ol’govich (September 19, June 5) was defeated and captured by Izyaslav Mstislavich, the grandson of Saint Vladimir (July 15). Izyaslav then replaced Saint Igor as Great Prince.

The See of Kiev had been left vacant after the death of Metropolitan Michael in 1145, and Izyaslav chose the learned Schemamonk Clement of Smolensk to succeed him. He wanted the candidate to be consecrated by bishops in Russia, instead of sending him to Constantinople for consecration. Because of the great distance between Kiev and Constantinople Izyaslav called a council of Russian bishops, and ordered them to consecrate Clement as Metropolitan of Kiev.

Not all of the bishops were in agreement with this plan, notably the holy Archbishop Niphon of Novgorod (April 8). Other hierarchs also refused to participate in the consecration without the blessing of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Clement’s consecration took place in spite of the objections that had been raised.

After Izyaslav’s reign, he was succeeded by Yuri (George) Dolgoruky. This Great Prince regarded the consecration as illegal and uncanonical, and so he sent Saint Constantine (Smolyatich) to Constantinople to be consecrated as Metropolitan of Kiev by the Patriarch. Upon his return to Kiev, Saint Constantine, by the authority of the Patriarch, deposed Clement from his rank, and also deposed those who had been ordained by him.

When the Great Prince Yuri completed the course of his life disputes arose over who should succeed him as Great Prince. There was also disagreement about who was the rightful Metropolitan of Kiev, and Izyaslav’s son Mstislav supported Clement. Therefore, the Russian princes decided that both Clement and Constantine should be deposed, and requested the Patriarch of Constantinople to send them a new Metropolitan for Kiev.

Hoping to put an end to the disputes among the princes, the Patriarch sent Theodore to Kiev as the new Metropolitan. Saint Constantine, wishing to avoid further tumult in the Church, stepped down as Metropolitan and went to Chernigov, where he became gravely ill.

Feeling that he was approaching the end of his life, Saint Constantine composed a Testament, which he entrusted to Bishop Anthony of Chernigov. He also made Bishop Anthony promise that he would fulfill all the directives contained in the Testament after Constantine’s death.

When Saint Constantine reposed in 1159, Bishop Anthony took the Testament to Prince Svyatoslav of Chernigov, broke the seal, and read the document aloud. One of the provisions of the Testament was that Saint Constantine’s body should not be buried, but dragged out of the city to be left as food for dogs. This was because he felt responsible for the discord in the Church.

Everyone who heard the reading of the Testament was filled with horror. Prince Svyatoslav told the bishop to do as he saw fit. Since he had given his promise to Saint Constantine to abide by the terms of the Testament, he did not dare to go back on his word. So the saint’s body was taken from the city and left in a field.

On that very day the sky grew dark over Kiev, and strong winds, earthquakes, thunder and lightning broke out. It is said that eight people were hit by lightning at the same time.

Prince Rostislav of Kiev was in Povari at Vyshgorod at the time. He had received news of the death of Metropolitan Constantine, so he sent messages to the Church of the Holy Wisdom and to other churches, asking for all-night vigils to be conducted throughout the city. He believed that the citizens of Kiev were being punished by the Lord for their sins.

While all of these things were taking place in Kiev, the sun shone brightly in Chernigov. However, three pillars of fire appeared at night over the body of Saint Constantine. Seeing this marvel, many were filled with fear. On the third day that the body lay in the field, Prince Svyatoslav ordered that the body of the Metropolitan be buried with all the honor befitting his rank.

The body of the saint was carried into the city and buried in the church of the Savior, where Saint Igor, who was killed by the inhabitants of Kiev, had also been interred. After the burial of Saint Constantine, peace returned to Kiev, and all the people glorified God.

Repose of Saint Theodore Yaroslavich, older brother of Saint Alexander Nevsky

Holy Prince Theodore of Novgorod, the elder brother of Saint Alexander Nevsky, was born in the year 1218. His princely service to his native land began at a very early age. In 1229 both brothers had been left in Novgorod by their father Yaroslav Vsevolodovich as his representatives. But not even a year passed before the young princes had to quit Novgorod. The turbulent Novgorod people in their “veche” (“government council”) decided to invite another prince. But in the very next year, 1230, during a time of famine and epidemic, the Novgorodians again invited Yaroslav to rule them. On December 30, 1230 he sat as prince in Novgorod for the fourth time, but he remained in the city for only two weeks, when he installed his sons there and went off to Pereyaslavl-Zalessk. In 1232 the fourteen-year-old Theodore was already summoned to serve God not only in prayer, but also by the sword. He took part in a campaign of the Russian troops against the pagan Mordovian princes.

In the year 1233 at the wish of his father he was obliged to enter into marriage with Theodoulia, the daughter of the holy Prince Michael of Chernigov. When the guests had already gathered at the wedding feast, the bridegroom suddenly died. After the unexpected death of her groom, the princess left the world and was tonsured in one of the Suzdal monasteries, famed in her monastic efforts as Saint Euphrosynē of Suzdal (September 25).

Saint Theodore was buried in the Yuriev monastery in Novgorod. In the year 1614 the Swedes, having pillaged the monastery, broke open the tomb of the prince and finding him whole and incorrupt, they mocked the holy relics, and finally abandoned the body in the churchyard. Years later, Metropolitan Isidore of Novgorod transferred the relics to Novgorod’s cathedral of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia), placing them in the chapel of the holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John. There they remained until 1919, when they were removed by the Bolsheviks.

The service to Saint Theodore was compiled in the year 1787 by Metropolitan Gabriel of Petersburg and Novgorod (+ 1801).

Finding of the Relics of Venerable Bassian and Jonah, Monks of Pertominsk

Saints Bassian and Jonah were monks of the Solovki Transfiguration monastery and disciples of Igumen Philip, who later became Metropolitan of Moscow (January 9).

These holy monks were glorified by the Lord after their death in 1561.

Fishermen and sailors came to pray in the chapel, built in 1599 over their grave by the Trinity-Sergiev monastery Elder Mamant. There in 1623 the hieromonk James founded a monastery, called Pertominsk.

Martyrs Marcian, Nicander, Hyperechius, Appolonius, Leonidas, Arius, Gorgias, Pambo, Selenia, and Irene of Egypt

The Holy Martyrs Marcian, Nicander, Hyperechius, Apollonius, Leonidas, Arius, Gorgias, Pambo, and the women martyrs Selenia and Irene were natives of Egypt and suffered during the reign of Maximian (305-311). For their steadfast confession of faith in Christ they were subjected to a fierce scourging. They then threw the sufferers barely alive into prison, where an angel appeared to them and healed their wounds. The holy martyrs died in prison from hunger and thirst.

Venerable Theodore, Wonderworker and Hermit of the Jordan

Saint Theodore the Wonderworker lived during the sixth century. In his youth he forsook the world in order to become a monk, withdrawing into the Jordanian wilderness. He lived a life of asceticism, and so he received from God the gift of wonderworking. Once, while he was journeying to Constantinople by ship, the ship went off course. Soon they ran out of drinking water, and the travelers were nearly dead from thirst. Saint Theodore prayed to God and made the Sign of the Cross over the sea. Then he told the sailors to draw some water from the sea and drink it. When they did so, they discovered that the water was fresh.

The passengers began to thank the saint and to honor him for saving them by providing fresh water. Saint Theodore said that they ought to thank God, who had performed this miracle because of His love for mankind. In his humility, he told them that it was not the result of his unworthy prayers.

Saint Theodore departed to the Lord in the year 583.

Venerable Anubius the Confessor and Anchorite of Egypt

Saint Anubius the Ascetic bravely endured tortures during the time of persecutions against Christians in the fourth century, but he remained alive and withdrew into the wilderness, where he dwelt until old age. He founded a small skete, in which he lived with six monks, one of whom was his brother Saint Pimen the Great (August 27). Once robbers laid waste to the skete, and the monks had to hide themselves in the ruins of a pagan temple, while having given their word not to speak with each other for a week. In the morning all week long Saint Anubius threw a stone at the face of the statue of the pagan god, and in the evening he said to it, “I have sinned.”

At the end of the week the brethren asked Abba Anubius what his actions signified, and the Elder explained that just as the statue did not get angry when he struck it, nor get flattered when he asked forgiveness of it, so the brethren ought to live. Three days before his end Saint Anubius was visited by the desert-dwellers Cyrus, Isaiah, and Paul, who asked the Elder to tell them about his life for the edification of believers. The saint replied, “I do not recall that I did anything great or glorious.” However, swayed by the entreaties of his questioners, in deep humility he related to them that during the time of persecutions he confessed the Name of Christ under torture, after this he had never defiled his lips with a lie, since after he had confessed Truth, he did not want to utter falsehood.

Three days later, Saint Anubius reposed in spiritual joy. The aforementioned Fathers said that they heard the singing of angels who came to receive his soul.

His heart was ever filled with a thirst for communion with the Lord, and he had often seen angels and the holy saints of God standing before the Lord. He also beheld Satan and his angels committed to the eternal flames. He is mentioned in the LAUSIAC HISTORY of Palladius, and his sayings can be found in the Paradise of the Fathers and in the Evergetinos.

Venerable Abba Dorotheus of Palestine

The Holy Abba Dorotheus was a disciple of Saint John the Prophet in the Palestinian monastery of Abba Seridus in the sixth century.

In his youth he had zealously studied secular science. “When I sought worldly knowledge,” wrote the abba, “it was very difficult at first. When I would come to take a book, I was like a man about to touch a wild beast. When I forced myself to study, then God helped me, and diligence became such a habit that I did not know what I ate, what I drank, whether I had slept, nor whether I was warm or not. I was oblivious to all this while reading. I could not be dragged away by my friends for meals, nor would I even talk with them while I was absorbed in reading. When the philosopher let us go, I went home and washed, and ate whatever was prepared for me. After Vespers, I lit a lamp and continued reading until midnight.” — so absorbed was Abba Dorotheus in his studies at that time.

He devoted himself to monastic activity with an even greater zeal. Upon entering the monastery, he says in his tenth Instruction, he decided that his study of virtue ought to be more fervent than his occupation with secular science had been.

One of the first obediences of Abba Dorotheus was to greet and to see to pilgrims arriving at the monastery. It gave him opportunity to converse with people from various different positions in life, bearing all sorts of burdens and tribulations, and contending against manifold temptations. With the means of a certain brother Saint Dorotheus built an infirmary, in which also he served. The holy abba himself described his obedience, “At the time I had only just recovered from a serious illness. Travellers would arrive in the evening, and I spent the evening with them. Then camel drivers would come, and I saw to their needs. It often happened that once I had fallen asleep, other things arose requiring my attention. Then it would be time for Vigil.” Saint Dorotheus asked one of the brethren to wake him up for for Vigil, and another to prevent him from dozing during the service. “Believe me,” said the holy abba, “I revered and honored them as though my salvation depended upon them.”

For ten years Abba Dorotheus was cell-attendant for Saint John the Prophet (Feb. 6). He was happy to serve the Elder in this obedience, even kissing the door to his cell with the same feeling as another might bow down before the holy Cross. Distressed that he was not fulfilling the word of Saint Paul that one must enter the Kingdom of Heaven through many tribulations (Acts 14:22), Abba Dorotheus revealed this thought to the Elder. Saint John replied, “Do not be sad, and do not allow this to distress you. You are in obedience to the Fathers, and this is a fitting delight to the carefree and calm.” Besides the Fathers at the monastery of Abba Seridus, Saint Dorotheus visited and listened to the counsels of other great ascetics of his time, among whom was Abba Zosima.

After the death of Saint John the Prophet, when Abba Barsanuphius took upon himself complete silence, Saint Dorotheus left the monastery of Abba Seridus and founded another monastery, the monks of which he guided until his own death.

Abba Dorotheus wrote 21 Discourses, several Letters, and 87 Questions with written Answers by Saints Barsanuphius the Great and John the Prophet. In manuscript form are 30 Talks on Asceticism, and written counsels of Abba Zosima. The works of Abba Dorotheus are imbued with a deep spiritual wisdom, distinguished by a clear and insightful style, but with a plain and comprehensible expression. The Discourses deal with the inner Christian life, gradually rising up in measure of growth in Christ. The saint resorted often to the advice of the great hierarchs, Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and Gregory of Nyssa. Obedience and humility, the combining of deep love for God with love for neighbor, are virtues without which spiritual life is impossible. This thought pervades all the writings of Abba Dorotheus.

In his writings the personal experience of Abba Dorotheus is felt everywhere. His disciple, Saint Dositheus (February 19), says of him, “Towards the brethren laboring with him he responded with modesty, with humility, and was gracious without arrogance or audacity. He was good-natured and direct, he would engage in a dispute, but always preserved the principle of respect, of good will, and that which is sweeter than honey, oneness of soul, the mother of all virtues.”

The Discourses of Abba Dorotheus are preliminary books for entering upon the path of spiritual action. The simple advice, how to proceed in this or that instance, together with a most subtle analysis of thoughts and stirrings of soul provide guidance for anyone who resolves to read the works of Abba Dorotheus. Monks who begin to read this book, will never part from it throughout their life.

The works of Abba Dorotheus are to be found in every monastery library and are constantly reprinted. In Russia, his soul-profiting Instruction, together with the Replies of the Monks Barsanuphius the Great and John the Prophet, were extensively copied, together with The Ladder of Divine Ascent of Saint John Climacus and the works of Saint Ephraim the Syrian. Saint Cyril of White Lake (June 9), despite his many duties as igumen, with his own hand transcribed the Discourses of Abba Dorotheus, as he did also the Ladder of Divine Ascent.

The Discourses of Abba Dorotheus pertain not only to monks; this book should be read by anyone who aspires to fulfill the commands of Christ.

Saint Peter of Korisha

Saint Peter was born in 1211 in the village of Unjimir between the city of Pech and the Field of Kosovo. As a child, he was meek and humble, and seldom participated in children’s games. At an early age, he and his younger sister Helena devoted themselves to prayer and fasting. When he was ten years old, the future saint told his parents that he wished to serve God by becoming a monk.

Saint Peter’s father died when the boy was fourteen, so he put off his plans to enter the monastery in order to care for his mother and sister. At the same time, he increased his ascetical efforts. When Saint Peter was sixteen, his beloved mother reposed. Determined to enter a monastery, he asked his sister whether she intended to be married, for his conscience would not allow him to abandon her unless he had provided for her. Helena said that it was her wish to preserve her virginity and become a nun. She said she would share his life of prayer and asceticism if only he would take her with him. Peter rejoiced and replied, “May the Lord’s will be done.”

They sold their family possessions and distributed the money to the poor. Traveling to Pec, they reached the Monastery of Saints Peter and Paul. Peter remained here, while Helena entered a nearby women’s monastery. After several years, both were granted permission to live in solitude.

Peter built two cells, one for himself and one for his sister, near the monastery. They spent their time in continual prayer and fasting, freeing themselves from worldly attachments, subduing the flesh, and struggled on the path of salvation.

These two spiritual lamps could not remain hidden for very long. People started coming to them for spiritual counsel and healing. Saint Peter and his sister agreed to avoid the snare of vainglory by moving to a more remote area. They went to Crna Reka (the town of Black River) on the Ibar River.

Saint Peter wished to move even farther into the woods for a life of even greater asceticism, but was reluctant to leave his sister. On the other hand, he was concerned that she might risk her physical and spiritual health if she were to come with him, so he decided to slip away and leave her in order to live alone on a mountain. He did not get very far before she noticed he was gone. She caught up to him and they traveled together to a mountain near the town of Prizren. On top of the mountain was a town called Korisha (modern Kabash), where they stopped to rest. Helena went to sleep there in the grass. Saint Peter wept and made the Sign of the Cross over her, then went off into the forest. When she awoke and found him gone, she wept and called his name. Finally, she went down from the mountain and lived in Prizren for the rest of her life. Saint Helena is also commemorated on June 5 with her brother, Saint Peter.

The holy ascetic lived in a cave near Korisha, where he continued his spiritual struggles in the heat of summer and in the cold of winter. He withstood the temptations and attacks of the demons which assailed him. When this happened, he sang Psalms and hymns all night until the sun came up in the morning. He fervently prayed for God to help and comfort him in his struggles. The Archangel Michael appeared to him and drove away the demons, promising Saint Peter that they would never enter his cell again. The Archangel warned him to be vigilant and to persevere, for the Devil wished to destroy him. After advising the saint to call upon the name of the Lord whenever he was attacked by the forces of evil, the holy Archangel vanished.

Saint Peter still endured temptations, but was victorious against all of them. Realizing his own weakness, he turned to Christ, Who strengthened him and sustained him. After these victories, the Lord consoled him with a vision of the Uncreated Light which lasted several days. From that time forward, Saint Peter was illumined by the grace of God, so no demon ever dared to approach him again.

Before Saint Peter’s death, many monks were sent to him by God, and he guided all of them. He blessed them and tonsured them, and permitted them to live in the caves below his cave. Forseeing the approach of death, he dug out a tomb for himself in the wall of his cell.

Acceding to the wish of his disciples, he told them the story of his life. Then he and his disciples received the Life-Giving Mysteries of Christ. After bidding each brother farewell, he surrendered his soul to God on June 5, 1275.

On the night of his blessed repose, a heavenly light was seen in his cave, and the singing of angels was heard by the other monks. In the morning, Saint Peter’s face shone with radiance, and a sweet fragrance came from his body. After the saint’s burial, many of those who came to his tomb were healed of their physical and spiritual infirmities. Seventy years later, King Dushan built a church at Korisha over Saint Peter’s relics, and dedicated it to the God-bearing ascetic.

The holy relics of Saint Peter were later transferred to the Black River monastery, then to the church of the Archangel Michael in the city of Kalashin.

Many of the icons of Saint Peter proved to be miracle working. The inscription reads: “Saint Peter of Korisha, desert-dweller and wonderworker.”

Icon of the Mother of God of Igor

The Igor Icon of the Mother of God.

The holy Passion-Bearer and Great Prince of Kiev Igor Ol’govich (September 19, 1147), prayed before this icon during the last moments of his life. It was in the chapel of Saint John the Theologian in the Dormition cathedral of the Kiev Caves Lavra. This icon was of old Greek origin, and had an inscription saying that it belonged to Saint Igor.

Daily Readings for Sunday, June 04, 2023



Holy Pentecost, Our Father Metrophanes, Archbishop of Constantinople, Mary & Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, Sophia of Thrace, The Mother of Orphans, Petroc, Abbot of Padstow


WHEN THE DAY of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontos and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

JOHN 7:37-52; 8:12

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
When they heard these words, some of the people said, "This is really the prophet." Others said, "This is the Christ." But some said, "Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?" So there was a division among the people over him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, "Why did you not bring him?" The officers answered, "No man ever spoke like this man!" The Pharisees answered them, "Are you led astray, you also? Have any of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed." Nikodemos, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, "Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?" They replied, "Are you from Galilee too? Search and you will see that no prophet is to rise from Galilee." Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

Holy Pentecost

In the Church’s annual liturgical cycle, Pentecost is “the last and great day.” It is the celebration by the Church of the coming of the Holy Spirit as the end—the achievement and fulfillment—of the entire history of salvation. For the same reason, however, it is also the celebration of the beginning: it is the “birthday” of the Church as the presence among us of the Holy Spirit, of the new life in Christ, of grace, knowledge, adoption to God and holiness.

This double meaning and double joy is revealed to us, first of all, in the very name of the feast. Pentecost in Greek means fifty, and in the sacred biblical symbolism of numbers, the number fifty symbolizes both the fulness of time and that which is beyond time: the Kingdom of God itself. It symbolizes the fulness of time by its first component: 49, which is the fulness of seven (7 x 7): the number of time. And, it symbolizes that which is beyond time by its second component: 49 + 1, this one being the new day, the “day without evening” of God’s eternal Kingdom. With the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s disciples, the time of salvation, the Divine work of redemption has been completed, the fulness revealed, all gifts bestowed: it belongs to us now to “appropriate” these gifts, to be that which we have become in Christ: participants and citizens of His Kingdom.


The all-night Vigil service begins with a solemn invitation:

“Let us celebrate Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit,
The appointed day of promise, and the fulfillment of hope,
The mystery which is as great as it is precious.”

In the coming of the Spirit, the very essence of the Church is revealed:

“The Holy Spirit provides all,
Overflows with prophecy, fulfills the priesthood,
Has taught wisdom to illiterates, has revealed fishermen as theologians,
He brings together the whole council of the Church.”

In the three readings of the Old Testament (Numbers 11:16-17, 24-29; Joel 2:23-32; Ezekiel 36:24-28) we hear the prophecies concerning the Holy Spirit. We are taught that the entire history of mankind was directed towards the day on which God “would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh.” This day has come! All hope, all promises, all expectations have been fulfilled. At the end of the Aposticha hymns, for the first time since Easter, we sing the hymn: “O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth…,” the one with which we inaugurate all our services, all prayers, which is, as it were, the life-breath of the Church, and whose coming to us, whose “descent” upon us in this festal Vigil, is indeed the very experience of the Holy Spirit “coming and abiding in us.”

Having reached its climax, the Vigil continues as an explosion of joy and light for “verily the light of the Comforter has come and illumined the world.” In the Gospel reading (John 20:19-23) the feast is interpreted to us as the feast of the Church, of her divine nature, power and authority. The Lord sends His disciples into the world, as He Himself was sent by His Father. Later, in the antiphons of the Liturgy, we proclaim the universality of the apostles’ preaching, the cosmical significance of the feast, the sanctification of the whole world, the true manifestation of God’s Kingdom.


The liturgical peculiarity of Pentecost is a very special Vespers of the day itself. Usually this service follows immediately the Divine Liturgy, is “added” to it as its own fulfillment. The service begins as a solemn “summing up” of the entire celebration, as its liturgical synthesis. We hold flowers in our hands symbolizing the joy of the eternal spring, inaugurated by the coming of the Holy Spirit. After the festal Entrance, this joy reaches its climax in the singing of the Great Prokeimenon:

“Who is so great a God as our God?”

Then, having reached this climax, we are invited to kneel. This is our first kneeling since Easter. It signifies that after these fifty days of Paschal joy and fulness, of experiencing the Kingdom of God, the Church now is about to begin her pilgrimage through time and history. It is evening again, and the night approaches, during which temptations and failures await us, when, more than anything else, we need Divine help, that presence and power of the Holy Spirit, who has already revealed to us the joyful End, who now will help us in our effort towards fulfillment and salvation.

All this is revealed in the three prayers which the celebrant reads now as we all kneel and listen to him. In the first prayer, we bring to God our repentance, our increased appeal for forgiveness of sins, the first condition for entering into the Kingdom of God.

In the second prayer, we ask the Holy Spirit to help us, to teach us to pray and to follow the true path in the dark and difficult night of our earthly existence. Finally, in the third prayer, we remember all those who have achieved their earthly journey, but who are united with us in the eternal God of Love.

The joy of Easter has been completed and we again have to wait for the dawn of the Eternal Day. Yet, knowing our weakness, humbling ourselves by kneeling, we also know the joy and the power of the Holy Spirit who has come. We know that God is with us, that in Him is our victory.

Thus is completed the feast of Pentecost and we enter “the ordinary time” of the year. Yet, every Sunday now will be called “after Pentecost”—and this means that it is from the power and light of these fifty days that we shall receive our own power, the Divine help in our daily struggle. At Pentecost we decorate our churches with flowers and green branches—for the Church “never grows old, but is always young.” It is an evergreen, ever-living Tree of grace and life, of joy and comfort. For the Holy Spirit—“the Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life—comes and abides in us, and cleanses us from all impurity,” and fills our life with meaning, love, faith and hope.

Father Alexander Schmemann (1974)

Saint Metrophanes, first Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint Metrophanes, Patriarch of Constantinople, was a contemporary of Saint Constantine the Great (306-337). His father, Dometius, was a brother of the Roman emperor Probus (276-282). Seeing the falseness of the pagan religion, Dometius came to believe in Christ. During a time of terrible persecution of Christians at Rome, Saint Dometius set off to Byzantium with two of his sons, Probus and Metrophanes. They were instructed in the law of the Lord by Bishop Titus, a man of holy life. Seeing the ardent desire of Dometius to labor for the Lord, Saint Titus ordained him presbyter. After the death of Titus first Dometius (272-303) was elevated to the bishop’s throne, and thereafter his sons, Probus (303-315) and in 316 Saint Metrophanes.

The emperor Constantine once came to Byzantium, and was delighted by the beauty and comfortable setting of the city. And having seen the holiness of life and sagacity of Saint Metrophanes, the emperor took him back to Rome. Soon Constantine the Great transferred the capital from Rome to Byzantium and he brought Saint Metrophanes there. The First Ecumenical Council was convened in 325 to resolve the Arian heresy. Constantine the Great had the holy Fathers of the Council bestow upon Saint Metrophanes the title of Patriarch. Thus, the saint became the first Patriarch of Constantinople.

Saint Metrophanes was very old, and was not able to be present at the Council, and he sent in his place the chorepiscopos (vicar bishop) Alexander. At the close of the Council the emperor and the holy Fathers visited with the ailing Patriarch. At the request of the emperor, the saint named a worthy successor to himself, Bishop Alexander. He foretold that Paul (at that time a Reader) would succeed to the patriarchal throne after Alexander. He also revealed to Patriarch Alexander of Alexandria that his successor would be the archdeacon Saint Athanasius.

Saint Metrophanes reposed in the year 326, at age 117. His relics rest at Constantinople in a church dedicated to him.

It should be noted that the Canons to the Holy Trinity in the Midnight Office in the Octoechos were not composed by this Metrophanes, but by Bishop Metrophanes of Smyrna, who lived in the middle of the ninth century.

Righteous Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus

The righteous sisters Martha and Mary were believers in Christ even before He raised their brother Saint Lazarus (October 17) from the dead. After the murder of the holy Archdeacon Stephen a persecution against the Jerusalem Church broke out, and Righteous Lazarus was cast out of Jerusalem. The holy sisters then assisted their brother in the proclaiming of the Gospel in various lands.

Saints Martha and Mary are also commemorated on the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women.

Venerable Methodius, Abbot of Peshnosha, Disciple of Venerable Sergius of Radonezh

Saint Methodius, Igumen of Peshnosha was the founder of the Peshnosha monastery. In his youth he went to Saint Sergius of Radonezh and spent several years under his guidance. Later on, with the blessing of Saint Sergius, he withdrew to a solitary place and built himself a cell in the forest beyond the River Yakhroma. Soon several disciples came to him in this marshy place, wishing to imitate his life. Saint Sergius visited him and advised him to build a monastery and church. Saint Methodius himself toiled at the construction of the church and the cells, “on foot carrying” wood along the river, and from that time the monastery began to be called “the Peshnosha.”

In 1391 Saint Methodius became igumen of this monastery. At times he withdrew two versts from the monastery and struggled in prayer. Here also Saint Sergius came to him for spiritual conversation, therefore this spot became known as “Beseda” (“Conversation-place”).

Saint Methodius died in 1392 and was buried at the monastery he founded. A church dedicated to Saints Sergius of Radonezh and Methodius of Peshnosha was built over his relics in 1732. The beginning of his local veneration dates from the late seventeenth—early eighteenth centuries.

Saint Methodius is also commemorated on June 14.

Martyrs Frontasius, Severinus, Severian, and Silanus, of Gaul

The Holy Martyrs Frontasius, Severinus, Severian, and Silanus suffered for Christ under the emperor Claudius (41-54). They had been sent to preach the Word of God in southern Gaul (now France) by Bishop Frontonus of Petragorium. The governor, a pagan named Squiridonus, arrested them and demanded that they renounce Christ. But the martyrs firmly confessed their faith, saying they had but one desire, to either live or die for Christ. The enraged Squiridonus ordered that the saints be taken out before the city, tied to pillars, and have nails thrust into their heads like a crown of thorns. After this they were beheaded.

Tradition says that the holy martyrs continued to live by the power of God. They picked up their heads and went to the church of the Mother of God, where the holy bishop Frontonus, who had sent them preaching, was at prayer. Placing their heads at the feet of the bishop, they crossed themselves and died.

Martyr Concordius of Spoleto

The Holy Martyr Concordius, son of the presbyter Gordian, was raised in piety and faith in Christ, and therefore Bishop Pius of Rome made him a subdeacon. Together with his father, Saint Concordius fasted and prayed, and he generously distributed alms to the needy. With the permission of his father he settled not far from Rome with his kinsman Eutychius, spending his days in prayer and good deeds. The report of his pious life reached Torquatus, the head of the Tussa region. He summoned the saint and urged him to renounce Christ, promising to make him a priest of the pagan gods.

Saint Concordius in turn urged Torquatus to turn to the true God, Jesus Christ. They beat the martyr and threw him in prison. Bishop Anthimus, a friend of Torquatus, asked him to release the prisoner to him. Saint Concordius lived with him for a while and was ordained presbyter. When Torquatus again summoned the saint and asked him what he thought about his life, the saint replied that life, for him, is Christ. They bound him and locked him up in prison, chaining him to the wall by his neck and hands.

Three days later Torquatus sent his assistant to the prison, ordering the martyr to offer sacrifice to the gods, or be condemned to death. The saint cried out, “Glory to Thee, Lord Jesus Christ,” and spat on the idol of Zeus carried by the soldiers. For this, he was beheaded around the year 175. His relics rest in Italy, not far from the city of Spoleto.

Hieromartyr Astius, Bishop of Dyrrachium in Macedonia

The Hieromartyr Astius was bishop of the city of Dyrrachium (Macedonia) during the time of the emperor Trajan (98-117), a persecutor of Christians. The saint once had a dream, a foreboding of his impending suffering and death for Christ. He was arrested and beaten fiercely with leaden rods and oxhide whips, but Saint Astius did not renounce Christ. They smeared his body with honey, so as to increase his suffering with the stings of hornets and flies, and crucified him. The martyr’s body was reverently buried by Christians.

Venerable Father Zosima, Bishop of Babylon

Saint Zosima, Bishop of Babylon, was born in Cilicia (Asia Minor). While still a youth he left the world and settled on Mount Sinai, and later he withdrew to a more solitary place in Lebanon. One time he encountered an elderly ascetic, who foretold that he would be bishop in Babylon. When Zosima returned to Sinai, he was sent on an errand to Alexandria. The Patriarch of Alexandria made him Bishop of Babylon, and into old age he wisely guided his flock. Sensing the approach of death, he returned to Sinai and peacefully fell asleep in the Lord (5th century).

Venerable Sophia of Ainos

Our venerable Mother Sophia was born in the province of Ainos in southeastern Thrace , and was the daughter of pious Christian parents. When she was of age, her parents arranged for her to be married. She and her husband had six children. Though she was occupied with worldly cares and responsibilities, she still kept the commandments of God and lived a virtuous life. She loved to attend the Church services, and so she progressed in virtue.

After sickness carried off Sophia's husband and all her children in succession, she did not despair, but became even more devoted to God. Within a period of twenty years, she adopted one hundred children, and raised them to love God. Because of this, she is sometimes called Saint Sophia the Mother of Orphans. She sold her property and gave the proceeds to the poor and to widows. She led an austere life, eating nothing but bread and water. She preferred to do without the necessities of life herself rather than allow any poor person to leave her home empty-handed. The Psalms of the Prophet-King David were always on her lips, and tears flowed continuously from her eyes.

Because of her humility and her love for the poor, God blessed her in the following way. In her home there was a container of wine which she reserved for the poor. She noticed that no matter how much she took from the container, it remained full. However, as soon as she told someone about the miracle and glorified God, the container became empty. Saint Sophia became sorrowful, believing that the wine had failed because of her unworthiness. Therefore, she increased her ascetical labors until her health suffered.

Sensing that the end of her life was near, she received the monastic tonsure. From that time, she devoted herself completely to the worship of God. Saint Sophia reposed peacefully at the age of fifty-three. It is not known when she lived.

Hieromartyr Joannicius of Serbia

No information available at this time.

Hieromartyr George of Serbia

No information available at this time.

Martyrs of Niculitsel

The graves of Saints Zoticus, Atallus, Camisius and Philip were discovered in 1971.

Lesser Scythia (modern Romania), between the Danube and the Black Sea in the northeastern territory of the Roman Empire, was a place of exile or death for Christians who refused to worship the pagan gods. During the persecutions of Decius (249-251), Diocletian and Maximilian (284-305), and Licinius (308-324) thousands of people died there from cold, hunger, or torture. The relics of those who endured martyrdom because they openly proclaimed their faith in Christ were taken by Christians and buried in secret places. Accounts of the lives and sufferings of these holy martyrs were written and preserved so they would not be forgotten. When the persecutions ended, the relics were moved from their temporary resting places and placed in special crypts (martyria). Churches were built over these crypts, and the ruins of some of them may be seen today in Dobrogea.

In September 1971 a creek overflowed its banks near the village of Niculitsel in the county of Tulcea, revealing one of the oldest of these martyria. The crypt, which is made of bricks, is divided into two rooms, one on top of the other. In the upper room, the relics of four martyrs were found in a single wooden coffin. All had been decapitated. The heads of three martyrs were found atop their necks, while the head of the fourth martyr was resting on his chest. An inscription on the left wall reads: “Christ’s martyrs.” The names of the four martyrs (Zoticus, Attalus, Camasius, and Philip) were scratched into the right wall.

According to the records which have been preserved, these martyrs were tried by the Roman authorities of Noviodunum (modern Isaccea) and sentenced to death. They were beheaded, then buried at Niculitsel. The exact date of their martyrdom is not known. Some believe that they were slain early in the fourth century during the persecutions of Diocletian or Licinius. Others, however, think the four men may have been martyred north of the Danube during the persecution of the Gothic king Athanaric (370-372) against the Christians.

About a hundred fragments of the bones of two men (aged between 45-50) were found in the lower crypt. It is thought that they died during the persecution of Decius, and then their relics were reinterred at Niculitsel around 370-380. The names of these martyrs are not known.

The Syrian Martyrologion and Saint Jerome’s Martyrologion give June 4 as the date of the martyrs’ execution. The Synaxaria list these four martyrs along with six others: Eutychius, Quirinus, Julia, Saturninus, Ninita, Fortunio. Twenty-five others were also beheaded with these martyrs, but are not named.

The relics of these holy martyrs were moved to the Cocosh Monastery in 1971, where they are venerated by the faithful.

New Martyr Archbishop Andronicus of Perm

The holy New Martyr Archbishop Andronicus of Perm was an outspoken critic of the Communist decree which ordered the separation of Church and State. Upon reading the Moscow Overland Assembly’s instructions on the matter, Archbishop Andronicus ordered his archdeacon to anathematize the Communists. The Archbishop was arrested, shot by two members of the Perm CHEKA, then buried on the road from Perm to Motoviliha.

Bishop Theophanes, an assistant to Archbishop Andronicus, was also arrested about this time. He was then drowned in the River Kama. When they learned of the execution of the Perm bishops, the Moscow Church Assembly sent a special commission, headed by Bishop Basil of Chernigov, to investigate their murder. The Communists, however, took steps to conceal the facts from the investigators.

As the members of the commission were on their way back to Moscow, their train was attacked by Red soldiers somewhere between Perm and Viatka. Bishop Basil and the others were killed, and their bodies were thrown from the coach. The bodies were buried by peasants, but were later dug up and burned by the Communists when pilgrims began flocking to the graves.

Hieromartyr Joanicus, Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Coast

No information available at this time.

Hieromartyr Savva, Bishop of Upper Karlovac

No information available at this time.

Daily Readings for Saturday, June 03, 2023



The Saturday of Souls, Lucillian of Byzantium, 4 martyred Youths and Paula the Virgin, Athanasios the Wonderworker, Kevin, Abbot of Glendalough


But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.

JOHN 21:14-25

At that time, Jesus revealed himself to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. And he said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, “Follow me.” Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” The saying spread abroad among the brethren that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” 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. Amen.

Memorial Saturday

Today we remember all pious and Orthodox Christians who have fallen asleep in the Lord, and also recall the dread Day of Judgment. May Christ our God be merciful to them, and to us.

Two Epistles (Acts 28:1-31, I Thess. 4:13-17) and two Gospels (JN 21:14-25, JN 5:24-30) are appointed to be read at Liturgy. The readings from Acts and the Gospel of Saint John, which began on Pascha, now come to an end. The book of Acts does not end, as might be expected, with the death of Saints Peter and Paul, but remains open-ended.

In his article “With all the Saints,” Father Justin Popovich says that the Lives of the Saints are nothing less than a “continuation of the Acts of the Apostles.” Just as the book of Acts describes the works of Christ which the Apostles accomplished through Christ, Who was dwelling in them and working through them, the saints also preach the same Gospel, live the same life, manifest the same righteousness, love, and power from on High. As we prepare for the Sunday of All Saints, we are reminded that each of us is called to a life of holiness.

On this seventh Saturday of Pascha, Saint John Chrysostom’s “Homily on Patience and Gratitude” is appointed to be read in church. It is also prescribed to be read at the funeral service of an Orthodox Christian.

Martyr Lucillian and those who suffered with him at Byzantium

Saint Lucillian was a pagan priest during the reign of the Roman emperor Aurelian (270-275). In his old age he became persuaded of the falseness of the pagan religion, and with all his heart he turned to the faith in Christ the Savior, and was baptized.

Under the influence of his preaching many pagans were converted to Christianity. Then certain Jews, seeing that he was spreading faith in Christ Whom they crucified, reported Lucillian to the Nicomedia prefect Silvanus, who urged the old man to return to idol-worship. When he refused, they smashed the saint’s jawbone, beat him with rods and suspended him head downward, and then they locked him in prison. Here he met four youths who were confessors of Christianity: Claudius, Hypatius, Paul and Dionysius. Saint Lucillian urged them to stand firm in the Faith, and to fear neither tortures nor death.

After a while they brought them to trial and then threw them into a red-hot furnace. Suddenly, rain fell and extinguished the flames, and the martyrs remained unharmed. The governor sentenced them to death, sending them to Byzantium to be executed. The holy youths were beheaded by the sword, and the holy martyr Lucillian was nailed to a cross with many nails.

The holy virgin Paula witnessed the contest of the holy martyrs. She had dedicated herself to the service of those suffering for Christ. She provided food to Christian prisoners, washed their wounds, brought medications, and also buried the bodies of martyrs. After the death of Saint Lucillian and the four young men, she returned to Nicomedia and continued with her holy service. The holy virgin was arrested and cast into a furnace, but by the power of God she remained unharmed. Then they sent her off to Byzantium, where the holy martyr was beheaded.

Translation of the relics of slain Crown Prince Demetrius of Moscow

The Tsarevich Saint Demetrius, murdered on May 15, 1591, was glorified in the year 1606 “to stop lying lips and blind unbelieving eyes from saying that the Tsarevich had escaped alive from the hands of the murderers” after the appearance of a pretender, who declared himself to be the Tsarevich Demetrius.

The holy relics were solemnly transferred and placed in the Arkhangelsk cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, “in the side altar of John the Forerunner, where his father and his brothers were buried.”

After numerous miracles of healing from the holy relics, three feastdays for the Tsarevich Demetrius were established during this same year of 1606, his birthday (October 19), his murder (May 15), and the transfer of his relics to Moscow (June 3).

Hieromartyr Lucian, Bishop of Beauvais, and those with him in France

The Hieromartyr Lucian lived in Rome, and his pagan name was Lucius. He was converted to Christ by the Apostle Peter, and was baptized. After Saint Peter’s death, Saint Lucian preached the Gospel in Italy. Saint Dionysius the Areopagite (October 3), a disciple of Saint Paul, arrived in Rome at this time. At the request of Saint Clement, Pope of Rome (November 25), he agreed to preach the Gospel in the West, and gathered companions and helpers for this task. Saint Clement consecrated Saint Lucian a bishop, then sent him off with Saint Dionysius, Saints Marcellinus and Saturninus, the Presbyter Maximian, and the Deacon Julian.

The holy preachers sailed from Italy to Gaul (modern France). Saint Marcellinus and those accompanying him continued on to Spain. Saint Saturninus went to Gaul, and Saint Dionysius and the others went to the region of Paris. From there Saint Lucian went to Belgium with Maximian and Julian.

Saint Lucian’s preaching was very successful. By the power of his words and the example of his life, he converted a large number of pagans to Christianity. Saint Lucian was a strict ascetic, and all day long he ate only a morsel of bread and some water. Towards the converted he was kindly, always joyful and cheerful of face. Soon almost all the settlements of Belgium were converted to Christ.

During this period, the Roman emperor Dometian (81-96) initiated a second persecution against Christians (after that of Nero, 54-68), and he issued an edict prescribing torture and execution for anyone who refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods.

Three officials were sent to Belgium to carry out the edict. The Lord revealed to Saint Lucian the ordeal facing him. He gathered the flock together, urging them not to fear threats, tortures or death, and then he gave thanks to God for granting him the possibility of joining the company of the holy martyrs. After praying, Saint Lucian and the priest Maximian and Deacon Julian withdrew to the summit of a hill, where he continued to teach the people who came with him.

Here the soldiers of the emperor came upon the saints and led them away for trial. Saints Maximian and Julian were urged to renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to idols, but both refused and were beheaded.

Then the judge began to interrogate Saint Lucian, accusing him of sorcery and disobedience to the emperor and Senate. The saint replied that he was not a sorcerer, but rather a servant of the true God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he refused to offer sacrifice to idols made by human hands.

The saint was subjected to fierce beatings, during which he repeated, “Never will I cease to praise Christ, the Son of God, in my heart, and with my lips.” Then the holy martyr was beheaded. A heavenly light shone over his body, and the Voice of the Savior was heard, summoning the valiant sufferer into the heavenly Kingdom to receive the martyr’s crown. By the power of God the saint stood up, picked up his severed head, and crossed over the river. Reaching the burial spot he had chosen, he lay down upon the ground and reposed in peace.

Because of this great miracle about 500 pagans were converted to Christ. Later, a church was built over Saint Lucian’s grave, to which the relics of the martyrs Maximian and Julian were transferred.

Saint Kevin of Glendalough

Saint Kevin (Coemgen) was born in Leinster in the early decades of the sixth century, the age of Saints Columba (June 9), Columbanus of Luxeuil (November 21), Comgall of Bangor (May 10), Finnian of Clonard (December 12), Kieran of Clonmacnoise (September 9), and many other great saints.

This holy ascetic belonged to a noble family which had included several Kings of Leinster. He himself, however, was a model of humility and self-denial. There are several miraculous stories connected with his birth and childhood, but most are unreliable.

The holy youth was baptized by a priest named Cronan and was named Kevin, which means "fair-begotten." There are so many saints named Cronan that it is not clear which one baptized Saint Kevin. When he was seven years old, his parents sent him to be taught by Saint Petroc (June 4), who happened to be visiting Ireland at the time.

As a boy of twelve, Saint Kevin was placed in the charge of three holy Elders: Eogoin of Ardstraw (August 23), Lochan, and Enna. Little is known of these teachers or where their establishment was located. His secular studies were certainly enhanced by spiritual instruction. He learned to read the Holy Scriptures, and to profit from the example of the virtuous men and women of the Old and New Testaments.

Saint Kevin was so handsome that a young girl named Kathleen became inflamed with desire for him, but the holy youth resisted all her allurements. She pestered him so much with her attentions that he fled from her, just as Joseph fled from Potiphar's wife (Genesis 39:12). Kathleen followed him and found him alone in a field, so she approached him and threw her arms around him. Arming himself with the Sign of the Cross, and filled with the Holy Spirit, Saint Kevin broke away from her and ran into the woods. She soon discovered him hiding in a bed of nettles. Grabbing a bunch of nettles, the saint struck her about the face, hands and feet. Wounded by the nettles, the girl's passion quickly cooled. She fell on her knees in repentance, begged forgiveness from God and from Saint Kevin, and promised to become a nun.

After successfully resisting the temptations of the flesh, Saint Kevin continued to devote himself to his studies, and longed to live the monastic life as a hermit. This was a common practice in the Celtic Church, which was influenced by the lives of the Egyptian desert dwellers, and by monks who had come from Gaul. Saint Kevin was anxious to leave the monastery, but his three Elders would not let him go. However, he had acquired a reputation for holiness, and people from the surrounding area came to seek his advice. Desiring to flee from such unwelcome attention, he left the monastery in secret and went into the wilderness.

It is said that an angel led him to Glendalough (the Vale of the Two Lakes) where he lived in the hollow of a tree somewhere by the shores of the Upper Lake. The ascetic remained in this place for several days, living on wild herbs and water. A cow wandered off and came to the tree where the Saint was living, and began to lick his clothing. After some time had passed, the cow showed an unusual increase in its milk, so her owner told his herdsman follow the animal. She led him to Glendalough, and there the herdsman discovered Saint Kevin, weak with hunger, and hiding in the tree.

The herdsman had to remove Saint Kevin on a litter by force, since the holy ascetic did not wish to leave. As he was being carried off, the trees bent down to make way for them. Saint Kevin then bestowed his blessing on the forest.

News of Saint Kevin reached his three Elders, who came to bring him back to their monastery. Recognizing the holiness of his life, they understood that they had nothing more to teach him, so they blessed him to leave the monastery.

A certain Bishop Lugidus ordained Saint Kevin to the priesthood, and sent him and a few other monks to found a new church. He spent a little time converting people at Cluainduach, but later moved back to Glendalough.

Guided by an angel, Saint Kevin crossed the Wicklow Mountains and established a monastery in the lower part of the valley where two rivers flow together. Once the monastery was organized, he appointed one of the monks as abbot, and then he retired to the upper valley a mile away to resume his life of solitude. He built a small dwelling on a narrow place between the mountain and the lake, where there were dense woods and clear rivulets. Some sources say that Saint Kevin lived there for four years, while others say seven years.

During this period of his life, wild animals would come to drink water out of his hands. Once during Lent, Saint Kevin stood praying in his hut with his hand sticking out of the window. Just then a blackbird nested in his hand and laid an egg. So gentle and compassionate was the Saint that he remained in this position until the eggs hatched and the fledglings were able to fly away.

There is a small cave above the Upper Lake known as Saint Kevin's Bed. One year he retired there for Lent, and an angel came and told him he would have to move because a rock was about to fall on that spot. Saint Kevin told the angel he could not interrupt his Lenten struggles or leave that place. On the eve of Pascha the angel returned to take him away. The venerable one protested that he would like to remain there for the rest of his life. He was persuaded to go, however, by the angel's promise that great benefits would follow for all who would come there in the future, both to live in the monastic city and to be buried there. Just as he was leaving with the angel, the rock came tumbling down and landed on the very spot where he had been standing.

Crossing over the lake, they discussed the problem of finding sufficient space for so many people. The angel said that if Saint Kevin wished, God could transform the four mountains surrounding the valley to level fields, fruitful and easy to work. The holy ascetic replied that he would not want God's creatures to perish on his account. All of the animals of those mountains were tame and humble toward him, and they would be saddened by this proposal.

When they arrived at the chosen spot, Saint Kevin saw that the ground was rocky and unsuitable for burial. The angel fixed that by clearing all the stones away. The site is to the east of the smaller (Lower) lake. Saint Kevin told the local chieftain Dimma and his sons to cut away the thorns and thistles, and to make this a beautiful spot. It is not certain just where in the valley Saint Kevin fell asleep in the Lord. It was not at the hermitage, however, because he sent a party of monks there to pray for him. Local tradition says that Saint Kevin is buried in the church of the Mother of God in that vicinity.

Saint Kevin was succeeded as abbot by his nephew Molibba (Jan. 8), who seems to have been the first bishop there. According to the Annals of Ulster, the holy abbot and confessor Kevin departed to Christ on June 3, 618.

Daily Readings for Friday, June 02, 2023



The Apodosis of the Feast of the Holy Ascension, Nicephorus the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople, Erasmos of Ochrid & his Companion Martyrs, Demetrios the New Martyr of Philadelphia, Constantine the New Martyr of the Hagarenes

ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 27:1-44; 28:1

IN THOSE DAYS, when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort, named Julius. And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchos, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. The next day we put in at Sidon; and Julius treated Paul kindly, and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for. And putting to sea from there we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. And when we had sailed across the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy, and put us on board. We sailed slowly for a number of days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidos, and as the wind did not allow us to go on, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.
As much time had been lost, and the voyage was already dangerous because the fast had already gone by, Paul advised them, saying, "Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives." But the centurion paid more attention to the captain and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to put to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, looking northeast and southeast, and winter there.
And when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close inshore. But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land; and when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven. And running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the boat; after hoisting it up, they took measures to undergird the ship; then, fearing that they should run on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and so were driven. As we were violently storm-tossed, they began next day to throw cargo overboard; and the third day they cast with their own hands the tackle of the ship. And when neither sun nor stars appeared for many a day, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.
As they had been long without food, Paul then came forward among them and said, "Men, you should have listened to me, and should not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. I now bid you take heart; for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and lo, God has granted you all those who sail with you.' So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we shall have to run on some island.
When the fourteenth night had come, as we were drifting across the sea of Adria, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. So they sounded and found twenty fathoms; a little farther on they sounded again and found fifteen fathoms. And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let out four anchors from the stern, and prayed for the day to come. And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the boat into the sea, under pretense of laying out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, 'Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved." Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the boat, and let it go.
As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, "Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food; it will give you strength, since not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you." And when he had said this, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. (We were in all two hundred and seventy-six persons in the ship.) And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea.
Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned if possible to bring the ship ashore. So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders; then hoisting the foresail to the wind they made for the beach. But striking a shoal they ran the vessel aground; the bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was broken up by the surf. The soldiers' plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape; but the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their purpose. He ordered those who could swim to throw themselves overboard first and make for the land, and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all escaped to land.
After we had escaped, we then learned that the island was called Malta.

JOHN 17:18-26

At that time, Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, "As you, Father, did send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.
I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you; and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Saint Nikēphóros the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint Nikēphóros was a dignitary at the court of the Empress Irene (797-802). After embracing monasticism, he became widely known for his piety. He assumed the Patriarchal Throne of Constantinople in 806 and became a zealous defender of the holy Icons. In 815, the Iconoclast Emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820) exiled him to Prokonnis, where he fell asleep in the Lord in 828.

Saint Nikēphóros left behind three writings against Iconoclasm.

In 846, the relics of Patriarch Nikēphóros were returned to Constantinople and placed in the Great Church of Hagia Sophia for one day before being transferred to and enshrined in the Church of the Holy Apostles.

New Martyr John the New of Sochi, who suffered at Belgrade

The Holy Great Martyr John the New of Sochi, lived in the fourteenth century in the city of Trebizond. He was a merchant, devout and firm in his Orthodoxy, and generous to the poor.

Once, he happened to be sailing on a ship while pursuing his trading activities. The captain of the ship was not Orthodox, but got into an argument about the Faith with Saint John. Having been vanquished by the saint’s words, the captain resolved to make trouble for him when they got to Belgrade. During the ship’s stay at Belgrade, the captain went to the city ruler, a fire-worshipper, and suggested that on his ship was a studious man who also desired to become a fire-worshipper.

The city ruler invited Saint John to join the fire-worshippers and renounce his faith in Christ.

The saint prayed secretly, calling on the help of Him Who said, “When they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what you shall speak, neither do you premeditate; but whatsoever will be given you in that hour, speak that, for it is not you that speaks, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11). And the Lord gave him the courage and understanding to counter all the claims of the impious and firmly confess himself a Christian. After this, the saint was so fiercely beaten with rods that his entire body was lacerated, and the flesh came off in pieces. The holy martyr thanked God for being found worthy to shed his blood for Him and thereby wash away his sins.

Afterwards they put him in chains and dragged him away to prison. In the morning the city ruler ordered the saint brought forth again. The martyr came before him with a bright and cheerful face. The intrepid martyr absolutely refused to deny Christ, denouncing the governor as a tool of Satan. Then they beat him again with rods, so that all his insides were laid bare.

The gathering crowd could not bear this horrible spectacle and they began to shout angrily, denouncing the governor for tormenting a defenseless man. The governor, having the beating stopped, gave orders to tie the Great Martyr to the tail of a wild horse to drag him by the legs through the streets of the city. Residents of the Jewish quarter particularly scoffed at the martyr and threw stones at him. Finally, someone took a sword and cut off his head.

Saint John’s body with his severed head lay there until evening, and none of the Christians dared to take him away. By night a luminous pillar was seen over him, and a multitude of burning lamps. Three light-bearing men sang Psalms and censed the body of the saint. One of the Jews, thinking that these were Christians coming to take up the remains of the martyr, grabbed a bow and tried to shoot an arrow at them, but he was restrained by the invisible power of God, and became rigid.

In the morning the vision vanished, but the archer continued to stand motionless. Having told the gathering inhabitants of the city about the vision and what was done to him by the command of God, he was freed from his invisible bonds. Having learned about the occurrence, the ruler gave permission to bury the body of the martyr in the local church. This occurred between the years 1330 and 1340. There is some question about the year of the saint’s martyrdom. Saint Νikόdēmos of the Holy Mountain gives the year as 1642, while others say it was 1492.

The captain who had betrayed Saint John repented of his deed, and decided secretly to convey the relics to his own country, but the saint appeared in a dream to the priest of the church, and prevented this. After seventy years the relics were transferred to Sochi, the capital of the Moldo-Valachian principality, and placed in the cathedral church.

Uncovering of the relics of Venerable Juliana, Princess of Vyazma

The relics of the holy Princess Juliana of Vyazma were uncovered in 1819.

Saint Juliana’s body was buried in the Torzhok cathedral on the right side by the south doors in 1407. Later, a tomb for her relics was built at the Savior-Transfiguration cathedral, where she healed many. In connection with the glorification of Saint Juliana on June 2, 1819 a chapel was built on the right-hand side, and dedicated to her

In 1906 church was built and dedicated to Saint Juliana at the cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Lord, where previously there had been a chapel over the saint’s grave.

Saint Juliana is also commemorated on December 21.

Icon of the Mother of God of Kiev-Bratsk

The Kiev-Bratsk Icon of the Mother of God is also commemorated on September 6, May 10, and on Saturday of the Fifth Week of Great Lent.

Venerable Erasmus of Ochrid

No information available at this time.

Daily Readings for Thursday, June 01, 2023



Justin the Philosopher and Martyr and his Companions, Pyrros the Hieromartyr


IN THOSE DAYS, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to welcome Festus. And as they stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul's case before the king, saying, "There is a man left prisoner by Felix; and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews gave information about him, asking for sentence against him. I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up any one before the accused met the accusers face to face, and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him. When therefore they came together here, I made no delay, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought in. When the accusers stood up, they brought no charge in his case of such evils as I supposed; but they had certain points of dispute with him about their own superstition and about one Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive.

JOHN 16:23-33

The Lord said to his disciples, "Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name. Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
I have said this to you in figures; the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figures but tell you plainly of the Father. In that day you will ask in my name; and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from the Father. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father.
His disciples said, "Ah, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure! Now we know that you know all things, and need none to question you; by this we believe that you came from God." Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, every man to his home, and will leave me alone; yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace.

Martyr Justin the Philosopher and those with him at Rome

The Holy Martyr Justin the Philosopher was born around 114 at Sychem, an ancient city of Samaria. Justin’s parents were pagan Greeks. From his childhood the saint displayed intelligence, love for knowledge and a fervent devotion to the knowledge of Truth. When he came of age he studied the various schools of Greek philosophy: the Stoics, the Peripatetics, the Pythagoreans, the Platonists, and he concluded that none of these pagan teachings revealed the way to knowledge of the true God.

Once, when he was strolling in a solitary place beyond the city and pondering about where to seek the way to the knowledge of Truth, he met an old man. In the ensuing conversation he revealed to Justin the essential nature of the Christian teaching and advised him to seek the answers to all the questions of life in the books of Holy Scripture. “But before anything else,” said the holy Elder, “pray diligently to God, so that He might open to you the doors of Light. No one is able to comprehend Truth, unless he is granted understanding from God Himself, Who reveals it to each one who seeks Him in prayer and in love.”

In his thirtieth year, Justin accepted holy Baptism (between the years 133 and 137). From this time Saint Justin devoted his talents and vast philosophical knowledge to preaching the Gospel among the pagans. He began to journey throughout the Roman Empire, sowing the seeds of faith. “Whosoever is able to proclaim Truth and does not proclaim it will be condemned by God,” he wrote.

Justin opened a school of Christian philosophy. Saint Justin subsequently defended the truth of Christian teaching, persuasively confuting pagan sophistry (in a debate with the Cynic philosopher Crescentius) and heretical distortions of Christianity. He also spoke out against the teachings of the Gnostic Marcian.

In the year 155, when the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) started a persecution against Christians, Saint Justin personally gave him an Apology in defense of two Christians innocently condemned to execution, Ptolemy and Lucias. The name of the third remains unknown.

In the Apology he demonstrated the falseness of the slander against Christians accused unjustly for merely having the name of Christians. The Apology had such a favorable effect upon the emperor that he ceased the persecution. Saint Justin journeyed, by decision of the emperor, to Asia Minor where they were persecuting Christians with particular severity. He proclaimed the joyous message of the imperial edict throughout the surrounding cities and countryside.

The debate of Saint Justin with the Rabbi Trypho took place at Ephesus. The Orthodox philosopher demonstrated the truth of the Christian teaching of faith on the basis of the Old Testament prophetic writings. Saint Justin gave an account of this debate in his work Dialogue with Trypho the Jew.

A second Apology of Saint Justin was addressed to the Roman Senate. It was written in the year 161, soon after Marcus Aurelius (161-180) ascended the throne.

When he returned to Italy, Saint Justin, like the Apostles, preached the Gospel everywhere, converting many to the Christian Faith. When the saint arrived at Rome, the envious Crescentius, whom Justin always defeated in debate, brought many false accusations against him before the Roman court. Saint Justin was put under guard, subjected to torture and suffered martyrdom in 165. The relics of Saint Justin the Philosopher rest in Rome.

In addition to the above-mentioned works, the following are also attributed to the holy martyr Justin the Philosopher:

1) An Address to the Greeks

2) A Hortatory Address to the Greeks

3) On the Sole Government of God

Saint John of Damascus preserved a significant part of Saint Justin’s On the Resurrection, which has not survived. The church historian Eusebius asserts that Saint Justin wrote books entitled

The Singer

Denunciation of all Existing Heresies and

Against Marcian

In the Russian Church the memory of the martyr is particularly glorified in temples of his name. He is invoked by those who seek help in their studies.

The holy martyrs Justin, Chariton, Euelpistus, Hierax, Peonus, Valerian, Justus and the martyr Charito suffered with Saint Justin the Philosopher in the year 166. They were brought to Rome and thrown into prison. The saints bravely confessed their faith in Christ before the court of the prefect Rusticus. Rusticus asked Saint Justin, whether he really thought that after undergoing tortures he would go to heaven and receive a reward from God. Saint Justin answered, “Not only do I think this, but I know and am fully assured of it.”

The prefect proposed to all the Christian prisoners that they offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. When they refused he issued a sentence of death, and the saints were beheaded.

Venerable Dionysius, Abbot of Glushitsa, Vologda

Our holy Father Dionysius, a native of Vologda, was one of the greatest ascetics of Russia’s Northern Thebaid (See A. Muraviev, The Russian Thebiad of the North, Saint Petersburg, 1855), and had links to some of the most important figures of Russian monasticism, including Saint Cyril of White Lake (June 9), whose portrait he painted.

Saint Dionysius spread Saint Cyril’s tradition of inner spiritual activity and love for the poor throughout the northern regions of Russia. He also combined within himself the Athonite traditions of his Elder Saint Dionysius with those of Saint Sergius of Radonezh (September 25 & July 5).

His Spiritual Father was Saint Dionysius the Athonite (October 18) who later became the Archbishop of Rostov. It was this saint who tonsured the younger Dionysius as a monk at the Spasso-Kameni Island Monastery, bestowing his own name upon him because he had such a great love for him. After nine years he left the monastery, with the blessing of his Elder, and went with his disciple Pachomius to a remote area known as Saint Luke, because once there had been a monastery in that place which was dedicated to the holy Apostle and Evangelist Saint Luke (October 18).

The two monks built a church and dedicated it to Saint Nicholas (December 6). Desiring even greater solitude, Saint Dionysius left Pachomius at Saint Luke’s one day in 1393 and went deeper into the Vologda forest so that he might not be deprived of an opportunity for ascetical struggles. That evening, he decided to rest for the night by the Glushitsa River. As he slept he heard the ringing of bells, which he took as a sign that he should build a monastery there. Saint Dionysius made a crude shelter for himself near a bird-cherry tree. The small, black cherries contain tannin and have a bitter-sweet taste. For this reason they are sometimes known as choke cherries, or hackberries. Saint Dionysius used to give these cherries to those who were ill, and they would then become well.

Soon disciples began to gather around the saint, not only men, but also women who thirsted for God. As disciples began to gather around him it became necessary to build cells to accomodate them. A local prince ordered woodsmen to clear a spot for the building of a monastery. Monastic cells were built, and also a small church in honor of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos (October 1).

The number of monks increased, and one night Saint Dionysius had a dream where he saw a young man who told him to build a larger church. The man told him that he would always have the protection of the Mother of God.

In the morning, after Matins, he informed the brethren of his dream, and told them that they should obey the young man’s instructions. The church was built, and was adorned with icons painted by Saint Dionysius, who was an accomplished iconographer. His icon of the Dormition, which was a wonderworking icon, was given to the Monastery of the Seven Hills, which had been founded by the saint’s disciples, and was also located by the Glushitsa River.

In 1407, Prince George Boktiuzhinsky expressed his wish to donate funds for the foundation of the Glushitsa Monastery. Saint Dionysius would not allow him to do this, but he did bless him to provide food for the brethren.

When this monastery became too crowded, Saint Dionysius found an isolated place called Sosnovetsk (so named because of the large, very old pine tree which grew there) on the banks of the Glushitsa River. There he built a church in honor of Saint John the Baptist, and a few cells for those who also desired greater solitude.

The righteous one increased his ascetical efforts, standing in prayer all night, and living on bread and water. He even dug his own grave. Once he told the brethren that they were to remain at that place, but only if he was buried there. He assured them that if they stayed, they would have their reward from God. If he was not buried there, however, he declared that they should not remain. In time the Glushitsa Monastery was abandoned, but monks continued to live at the Sosnovetsk Monastery until recent times.

Saint Dionysius was the first to establish a women’s monastery with an Athonite Typikon. After a visit to Rostov, where his Elder Dionysius was now the Archbishop, he returned to his monastery and established a women’s monastery near him, dedicating it to Saint Leontius of Rostov (May 23). The monastery flourished and was a model of the monastic ideal for women.

During a time of famine, Saint Dionysius gave alms to all who came to the monastery for assistance. When the number of people increased, his alms-giving also increased. Once the steward informed him that the monastery’s supplies were almost depleted. Saint Dionysius rebuked him and said that their alms-giving would be a great help to the monks on the Day of Judgment. Giving to the poor, he said, was like lending to God Himself.

Before his death, he named his disciple Saint Amphilochius as his successor. He also heard the voice of the Mother of God, promising to protect the brethren of the monastery from every evil and necessity.

The saint’s final illness began on May 29, 1437 and it was revealed to him that he would die in three days. Early on the morning of June 1, he asked his disciple Saint Macarius to serve the Divine Liturgy so that he would be able to receive Holy Communion for the last time. After the service he called the brothers to him so that he might give them his final blessing and bid them farewell. At six A.M. his face shone with a divine radiance, and peacefully he surrendered his soul to God at the age of 74. The cell was filled with an ineffable fragrance, and Saint Amphilochius saw a crown on the head of his Spiritual Father.

Many of the disciples of Saint Dionysius also became Igumens of other monasteries. Among them are Saint Amphilochius of Glushitsa (October 12), who reposed in 1452, and Saint Gregory of Peshma (September 30), who reposed in 1451. He and Saint Dionysius had such mutual love that they seemed to be of one mind. Saint Dionysius told him, “Do good while you have the time, be true in glorifying God and doing His will.” Saint Macarius of Sosnovetsk (October 12 & May 13) was also a disciple. He completed the course of his God-pleasing life in 1480.

Saint Dionysius was buried at Sosnovetsk, in accordance with his desire. Through his holy prayers, may we also be found worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Venerable Agapitus the Unmercenary Physician of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Agapitus of the Caves. This holy Unmercenary Physician was born at Kiev. He was a novice and disciple of Saint Anthony of the Caves, and lived during the eleventh century. If any of the monastic brethren fell ill, Saint Agapitus came to him and selflessly attended to the sick one. He fed his patient boiled herbs which he himself prepared, and the person recovered through the prayers of the saint. Many laymen also turned to the monastic physician with the gift of healing.

In Kiev at this time was an experienced Armenian physician, who was able to diagnose the nature of the illness and even accurately determine the day of death just by looking at a patient. When one of these doomed patients turned to Saint Agapitus, the grace-bearing healer gave him some food from the monastery trapeza (dining area), and the patient became well. Enflamed with envy, the physician wanted to poison Saint Agapitus, but the Lord preserved him, and the poison had no effect.

Saint Agapitus healed Prince Vladimir Monomakh of Chernigov, the future Great Prince of Kiev (1114-1125), by sending him boiled herbs. The grateful prince went to the monastery and wanted to see his healer, but the humble ascetic hid himself and would not accept gifts.

When the holy healer himself became sick, that same Armenian physician came to him and after examining him, he said that he would die in three days. He swore to became an Orthodox monk if his prediction were not fulfilled. The saint said that the Lord had revealed to him that He would summon him only after three months.

Saint Agapitus died after three months (on June 1, not later than 1095), and the Armenian went to the igumen of the Caves monastery and received monastic tonsure. “It is certain that Agapitus was a saint of God,” he said. “I well knew, that it was impossible for him to last three days in his sickness, but the Lord gave him three months.” Thus did the monk heal sickness of the soul and guide to the way of salvation.

Martyrs Shio, David, Gabriel, and Paul of Akhalkalaki in Georgia

The holy monk-martyrs Shio the New, David, Gabriel and Paul labored in the David-Gareji Wilderness at the end of the 17th century.

Saint Shio was from the village of Vedzisi in the Kartli region. His parents, Papuna and Tamar, were wealthy and highly influential people. They had eight children: five sons and three daughters. After their parents died, Shio’s brothers quarreled so intensely over their inheritance that the eldest brother finally killed the youngest.

Deeply disturbed by this tragedy, blessed Shio sought to withdraw from the vanity of the world—a world in which brother can murder brother and a son can murder his father. Shio confessed his desire to his spiritual father, and he was advised to journey to the David-Gareji Monastery and be tonsured a monk. In fact, the abbot, Fr. Onopre (Machutadze), had invited Shio to the monastery several times before, saying, “Come, brother Shio, and let us finish our lives here.”

With great joy Onopre received Shio, who was already revered by many for his faith and chastity. He directed him to a cell and clothed him as a novice.

Blessed Shio’s tireless labors, humility, and manifest love for his brothers inspired many to seek his counsel. The abbot himself often trusted Shio to administer the affairs of the monastery in his absence.

Once Fr. Onopre departed to attend to some matters outside the monastery, leaving Shio in charge. After Vespers and a meal, the exhausted brothers were settling down to rest when a band of Dagestani robbers suddenly stormed the monastery grounds. They ransacked the monastery and captured Hieromonk Shio and the monks David, Gabriel and Paul and killed them. Some of the brothers who remained tried to flee, but they were caught and brutally slain.

The cells of the David-Gareji Monastery were soaked with blood. Then the Dagestanis, yet unsatisfied, seized and destroyed nearly all the monastery’s property. They stole some of the clerical vestments, and the rest they cut in pieces and tossed in a well. Then they hacked the holy icons to pieces with their axes.

With the blessing of the catholicos and by order of the king, the mutilated relics of the holy martyrs were buried in the courtyard south of the grave of Saint David of Gareji.

Daily Readings for Wednesday, May 31, 2023



Hermias the Martyr at Comana, Eustathios, Patriarch of Constantinople, Eusebius and Haralambos the Monk-martyrs


IN THOSE DAYS, Paul, looking intently at the council, said, “Brethren, I have lived before God in all good conscience up to this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God shall strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?” And Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ ” But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead I am on trial.” And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. Then a great clamor arose; and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?” And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them and bring him into the barracks. The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also at Rome.”

JOHN 16:15-23

The Lord said to his disciples, "All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me." Some of his disciples said to one another, "What is this that he says to us, 'A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'; and, 'because I go to the Father'? " They said, "What does he mean by 'a little while'? We do not know what he means." Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him; so he said to them, "Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, 'A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being is born into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day, you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name.

Apostle Hermas of the Seventy

The Holy Apostle Hermas was a bishop in Philippopolis, Thrace. He was a Greek, but he spent some time in Rome. The holy Apostle Paul greets him in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom 16:14). The Apostle Hermas endured much grief from the pagans for preaching the Gospel, but he died in peace.

According to Tradition, Saint Hermas is the author of The Shepherd, an instructive book based on revelations from angels.

Martyr Hermias at Comana

Holy Martyr Hermias suffered for Christ in the city of Comana during the persecution under the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161). The governor Sebastian, who was in Cappadocia to arrest Christians, urged the saint to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, promising him honors and mercy from the emperor.

The old soldier bravely confessed his faith in Christ. After long exhortation, the governor gave orders to torture the saint. They beat him on the face so that the skin peeled from his face, and they threw him into a red-hot oven. When the oven was opened after three days, the martyr Hermias emerged from it unharmed.

The governor Sebastian ordered the sorcerer Marus to poison Saint Hermias with a potion. The poisonous drink did the saint no harm. A second goblet with even stronger poison also failed to kill the saint. The sorcerer believed in Christ the Savior, and was immediately beheaded. Saint Marus was baptized in his own blood, and received a martyr’s crown.

Saint Hermias was subjected to even more terrible tortures. They raked his body with sharp instruments, threw him in boiling oil, and gouged out his eyes, but he gave thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ. Then they suspended the martyr head downward. For three days he hung in this position.

People sent by the governor to verify his death found him alive. Struck by the miracle, they were blinded with fright and began to call out to the saint to help them. The holy martyr ordered the blind to approach him, and healed them in the Name of Jesus Christ.

In anger the governor ordered the skin flayed from the saint’s body, but he remained alive. Then the crazed Sebastian beheaded him with his own sword. Christians secretly buried the body of the martyr Hermias, whose relics bestowed numerous healings.

Martyr Philosophus at Alexandria

Holy Martyr Philosophus suffered for Christ in Alexandria during the persecution by the emperor Decius (249-251). They urged the youth to deny Christ, but he remained steadfast.

After suffering various tortures, he was placed on a soft bed, bound hand and foot, and a harlot was put in the room with him to tempt him to sin. In order not to yield to sin, the saint bit off his tongue and spit it in the harlot’s face. She was so horrified that she fled from him. The executioners, seeing the martyr’s bravery and fearlessness, beheaded the saint with a sword.

Hieromartyr Philósophos of St. Petersburg

The Hieromartyr Archpriest Philósophos N. Ornatsky was born on May 21, 1860 in the churchyard of Novaya Yerga, Cherepovets County, Novgorod Governorate,1 into the family of a village priest. One of his brothers was married to the niece of Saint John of Kronstadt. Philósophos studied first in Kirillov Theological School, and then in the Novgorod Theological Seminary. In 1885 he graduated from the St. Petersburg Theological Academy with the degree of Candidate. In the summer of 1885, Philósophos married Elena Zaozerskaya, the daughter of the former subdeacon of Metropolitan Isidore, and soon he was ordained to the priesthood.

Initially, the young priest served as rector in the church of the orphanage of the Prince of Oldenburg, where he had once taught the Law of God (catechism). From 1892 to 1912, he served as the rector of the church at the Expedition for the Procurement of State Papers. For twenty-six years he was the chairman of the Society for the Dissemination of Religious and Moral Education in the Spirit of the Orthodox Church, successfully counteracting anti-church movements.

In 1893, Father Ornatsky was elected as a member of the St. Petersburg City Duma from the clergy and held this office until 1917. He took part in the establishment of shelters in the city: orphanages and almshouses. Through his efforts in St. Petersburg and the surrounding area, twelve churches were built, the largest of which was the church of the Resurrection of Christ at the Varshavsky railway station. In addition, we should also mention the churches of Daints Peter and Paul in Lesnoy, Saint Sergius of Radonezh on Novosivkovskaya Street, Saint Seraphim of Sarov behind the Narva outpost, the church of the Forerunner on the Vyborg side, Saint Gerasimos church, and Saint Isidore of Yuriev church.

The Saint lived quite modestly, though his was a large family (he had ten children). The whole array of public titles and offices which he held for the glory of God, did not bring in any means of subsistence. As Chairman of the Temple Building Committees, large sums of money passed through his hands, yet he was obliged to give private lessons in order to feed his family.

Father Ornatsky was also the editor and censor of such metropolitan spiritual magazines as "St. Petersburg Spiritual Herald" (published from 1894), "The Christian's Rest" (1901), and "Orthodox-Russian Word" (1902).

Father Philósophos was one of the closest companions of the Hieromartyr Metropolitan Benjamin (Kazansky), of Petrograd and Gdovsk, who, when he was a student of the Theological Academy, was actively engaged in preaching activities in the working neighborhoods of St. Petersburg. Bonds of spiritual friendship also sprang up between him and His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon.

For almost twenty years, Father Philósophos was the spiritual son of Saint John of Kronstadt, who often visited him at home and blessed all his undertakings for the good of the Church. The holy pastor entrusted Father Philósophos with being an intermediary in his correspondence with Saint Theophánēs, the Recluse of Vysha.

In 1913, the Archpriest was appointed to the post of rector of the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg. During the First World War, Father Philósophos gave up his apartment to be used as an infirmary for wounded soldiers, and he and his family moved to a small state-owned room. Repeatedly, he went to the areas of hostilities, accompanying the transports with needed supplies for the soldiers, and trying with all his might to inspire and support the defenders of Russia.

His son Nicholas (born in 1886) was a military doctor who was part of the Ninth Russian Army; another son, Boris (born in 1887), was a staff captain of the 23rd Artillery Brigade, who graduated from the Konstantinov Artillery School, and fought heroically on the Austro-Hungarian front. Father Ornatsky's gift of preaching attracted those who were seeking the words of life, and he repeatedly urged his flock not to accept the corrupting ideas of Bolshevism. Knowing that Orthodoxy is at the heart of Russian life, Batiushka urged the intelligentsia to realize this. He never tired of repeating: "Our intellectuals have to become Russian."

During the Revolution, he saw his wife's sister's husband, Peter Skipetrov (+ January 20) shot before his eyes. At the funeral service, Father Philósophos gave a sermon, fearlessly denouncing the Bolsheviks. He repeatedly called upon his flock to surround the churches and to protect the shrines of their land. In January 1918, when Father Peter Skipetrov was killed at the Lavra, Father Philósophos organized a defense of the shrines of Saint Alexander Nevsky Lavra, organizing Cross Processions to it from all the churches of the capital.

On August 9, 1918, he was arrested, along with his two eldest sons, Nicholas and Boris. At the time of his arrest he was absolutely impassive and calm. Parishioners gathered by the thousands and walked along Nevsky Prospekt, demanding the release of their shepherd. The Chekists received the delegation of believers, promising to do what they asked. But on the same night (July 20, 1918), Father Philósophos was transported to prison in the city of Kronstadt. Around October 30, 1918, thirty-two men were brought from different prisons, all officers of the Imperial Army, who were being taken to be shot. Some were young, and others were older. One said he was a Colonel of the Guards. He told their escorts, "You will all perish, perhaps in twenty years, but you will perish like dogs. Russia will be Russia again, but you will perish." Their escorts said nothing. As they were being led to the place of execution, Father Philósophos read aloud the prayer for the departure of the soul over his two sons and the rest of the convicts.

Some say the place of execution was in Kronstadt, while others say it was not far from the Gulf of Finland, between Ligovo and Oranienbaum. The bodies of those who were shot were dumped into the bay. Father Ornatsky's body did not sink, but was tossed onto the shore by the waves near Oranienbaum. There it was buried secretly by the inhabitants.

These Saints were canonized as New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia at the Jubilee Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in August 2000 for general Church veneration.

Saint Philósophos is also commemorated on July 20, and on the Third Sunday after Pentecost (Movable Feast: Synaxis of the Saints of St. Petersburg.

1 Now the Cherepovetsky District of Vologda Oblast.

Metropolitan Philotheos of Tobolsk, Enlightener of Siberia

The Most Reverend hierarch, the renowned Metropolitan of Siberia and Tobolsk, was from a noble, but poor family and received a theological degree at the then famous Kiev Theological Academy.

At the end of the course, he was ordained as a priest for one of the rural churches, but he was soon widowed. He was tonsured as a monk with the name Philotheos, and joined the brotherhood of the Kiev Caves Lavra.

In Siberia Christianity began to spread among the native pagans and Mohammedans from the very conquest of this country by the Russian state (in 1581), but conversions of the Siberian non-Russians to faith in Christ were generally insignificant and mostly individual.

The newly-baptized aliens left their former places of residence and their compatriots and, settling in Russian cities and villages, they entered into the Russian population, so their conversion did not influence the masses, who still remained solid pagans or Mohammedans. All this was known to the great converter of Russia, Tsar Peter I, who decided to take measures to enlighten the Siberian aliens with the light of Christianity and with them their neighbors, the Mongols and Chinese. To implement this wise plan, by a decree of June 18, 1700, the Sovereign commanded Metropolitan Barlaam Yasinsky of Kiev to “find” in the Russian cities and monasteries Archimandrites, Igumens, and other monks to occupy the cathedra of Tobolsk, which had remained vacant after Metropolitan Ignatius. He wanted “Pastors who are not only good and adorned with a blameless life, but also scholars who would take with them to Siberia any educated monks who were capable of learning the local languages. With God’s help, and with their help, the Metropolitan of Tobolsk could gradually lead the blind inhabitants of Siberia, Mongolia and China, who were stagnating in idolatry, to the knowledge of the true God. ”

Metropolitan Barlaam’s choice fell on the Novgorod-Seversk Archimandrite Demetrios Tuptalo, later Saint Demetrios, the wonderworker of Rostov, who was summoned to Moscow in early 1700. On March 23, at the age of 50, he was consecrated as the Metropolitan of Siberia and Tobolsk. Saint Demetrios ruled his Siberian flock for only nine months, but he did not live in Siberia.

When Saint Demetrios of Rostov was appointed to the Siberian Diocese, primarily for missionary purposes, he refused to go to Siberia for good and was transferred to the cathedra of Rostov. Then Archimandrite Philotheos Leschinsky was appointed as someone who was well-known for his pious life, high education and energy. He was consecrated as Metropolitan of Siberia and Tobolsk on January 4, 1702.

The Diocese of Tobolsk and Siberia is extensive today; but in the 17th and early 18th centuries it was incomparably more extensive; its borders were then in the north – the Arctic Sea, in the east – the Pacific Ocean, in the south – lands under the Chinese emperor, i.e. Dauria and so on, and the Kirghiz-kaysati steppe, in the west – the Urals and even part of European Russia, to the fortress of Beerskaya and Achitskaya. In general, the diocese occupied more than 300,000 square miles, a space in which there are currently more than nine independent dioceses with several vicariates.

The difficulty of administering such a huge diocese was increased by its complete lack of organization. But the new bishop of Siberia, Metropolitan Philotheos, energetically set to work. In the very first year of his stay in Siberia he followed the example of the pastors of the first centuries of Christianity, and decided to assemble a spiritual council from representatives of the Siberian clergy for the improvement of the Siberian Church.

Such a council took place in Tobolsk in December 1702. It developed a number of rules and instructions to the clergy regarding the streamlining of their pastoral work.

Then, the new Metropolitan of Siberia occupied himself with the Tobolsk episcopal residence, multiplying churches in Siberia, increasing the number of clergy, improving their condition, etc. They paid great attention to widespread education, and he first set an example by teaching foreign children in the religious schools he established.

In order to provide the diocese with good pastors, Metropolitan Philotheos started a “Slavic-Russian” school in the episcopal residence, and paid for it with his own money. This became the progenitor of all educational institutions in the city of Tobolsk. He also got several learned monks from Kiev as teachers for the school. When Metropolitan Philotheos took over the administration of the Tobolsk diocese, there were only 160 churches throughout its vast area. The saint made tremendous efforts to multiply of the churches of God in Siberia, and the Lord blessed these works with success. By the time he left the diocese there were already up to 448 churches and 37 monasteries.

Building new churches, he also took care of maintaining their well-being and beauty: he asked the government for permission to renovate some of the monasteries; he stopped issuing “wax, incense, and red wine” to the congregational and unpaid churches. At the cathedral, permission was given to form a choir of singers from the exiled Little Russians.

The missionary activity of Metropolitan Philotheos among the Siberian pagans was the main subject of his cares and labors and was crowned with good success, which the archpastor achieved, however, not during his administration of the diocese, but after his release from it, when he devoted himself entirely to the apostolic ministry. The hierarch began his educational activity from Kamchatka, where in 1705 he sent a missionary, Archimandrite Martinian, and after him the missionary monk Ignatius Kozyrevsky, but the preaching of these missionaries was not particularly successful, since the missionaries had to experience many obstacles. The hierarch’s second mission was sent in 1707 to the Ostyaks of the Berezovsky Territory, and the third to Mongolia, to the Kutuhta (high priest) of the Buddhists, to the town of Khalkhas.

The preaching of the Tobolsk Metropolitan among the Ostyaks, Voguls and other Siberian aliens was particularly successful. Accompanied by an insignificant retinue, with the then impossible ways of communication, the ever-memorable missionary spent most of his archpastoral ministry in Siberia in constant journeys among savages, teaching the Samoyeds, Voguls, Ostyaks, building churches in the far north, in the Kyrgyz territory in the Altai, then enlightening the distant sons of the outskirts of Siberia, Laplanders and Chukchi, helping them spiritually and materially. During all the time of his archpastoral ministry, he enlightened and baptized up to 400,000 foreigners, not to mention how many churches this great architect built across Siberia, how many parishes he founded, how many cornerstones he laid, so to speak, for the spread of Christianity among the pagans. It was not easy for Metropolitan Philotheos. Not to mention the incredible difficulties traveling along the wild outskirts, across steppes and marshes, taiga and northern tundra; not to mention all sorts of hardships associated with traveling under such conditions; the very life of the Metropolitan was repeatedly endangered.

Once he came to the Ostyaks of Burinsky. Those who were invited to be baptized replied that they were Muslims and no one had the right to baptize them. They left him and locked themselves in one large yurt.1 His Eminence nevertheless remained in their territory and from time to time he sent them missionaries who were with him to summon the Ostyaks. These same savages, in order to put an end to the matter all at once, according to the suggestion of the Tatar preacher hiding from them, seized their weapons, and fiercely rushed at the Orthodox missionaries. One of them was wounded in the head with an arrow, the other in the shoulder, and the third was punctured through and through by their hands. In fright, the unarmed Russians all fled from the shore onto the ships. The Metropolitan, who was then praying for the restraint of his enemies, was left alone on the shore. Then the Ostyak foreman Uman fired a rifle at the Metropolitan, but God preserved His Apostle-Preacher. The bullet passed through his clothing without touching his body.

On another occasion, the Metropolitan was threatened with danger in Konda. When he stayed in the Katyshev yurts to rest, a messenger came to him from Vogulsky Prince Satyga inviting him to hasten to the nomad camp because a lot of people had gathered there, desiring to be baptized. In fact, as it turned out, Satyga was deceived by a Tatar from Tobolsk, as though the Tsar himself wanted the Metropolitan’s death, and that there would be no punishment for the murderers. He intended to kill Philotheos and all those with him. But for now, the Metropolitan avoided danger. Sataga’s envoys were received kindly by the Metropolitan, and after receiving generous gifts, they informed Philotheos of the danger that threatened him. Horror overtook the missionaries, and many advised him to flee to Tobolsk. Some, however, argued that such cowardice would impair the future work of preaching the Word of God. The Metropolitan agreed with those who wished to stay, and it was decided to sail down to the nomad camp. Satyga was frightened when he learned that his plans were known to the Metropolitan. The intruders fled into the forest, and the remaining Voguls were willingly baptized.

Metropolitan Philotheos not only cared about the spiritual enlightenment of the pagans who converted, but he also tried to deliver those or other benefits to the converts in civil matters. At his request, those who were persecuted by the unbaptized were protected from being chased by guards; newly-baptized slaves were given their freedom, and those who were included in the head tax were exempted from it. Everyone was relieved of the obligation to supply carts, and received benefits in the payment of the yasak, and they were protected from insults and harassment by the Cossacks and minor officials. The Metropolitan distributed a significant amount of bread and money to the newly-baptized poor, and, in general, he helped as much as he could, anyway. The newly-baptized loved the Metropolitan as a father. When he visited them, they immediately went out to meet him and greeted him with cordiality and pleasure clearly written on their faces; willingly they heeded his instructions, and gave a firm promise to put his advice into practice. In general, they accepted the Metropolitan as their benefactor and their protector, as a man sent from God. The memory of Metropolitan Philotheos still lives among the aliens who were enlightened by him. For example, the Ostyaks, when they were asked about him, usually said: “He was a kindly old man; the people did not give offense; he loved the Ostyaks very, very much…. ”

In 1711, Metropolitan Philotheos was relieved of the administration of the diocese “due to illness,” and retired to the Tyumen Holy Trinity Monastery, where he received the schema and the name Theodore. The Metropolitan did not give up his archiepiscopal cathedra for rest and peace, now that he was burdened with age and illnesses, but for even more difficult feats of missionary work in the harsh north of Siberia. In June 1712, Metropolitan Schema-monk Theodore, with the blessing of the then Siberian archpastor, Metropolitan John Maximovitch (June 10), by his own desire and inclination, and at the suggestion of Prince M. Gagarin, who was then the governor of Siberia, who fulfilled the command of Peter I to begin preaching the Gospel among Siberians, and personally entered into this apostolic spiritual exploit(подвиг). In that year, the hierarch made his first missionary journey to Berezovsky territory along the rivers Irtysh, Ob and Sosve. Metropolitan John, who ruled the diocese, gave him capable employees, and Prince Gagarin supplied him from the treasury with a vessel for sailing, rowers, interpreters of the native languages, a guard for preserving the mission, the sum of 2000 rubles, and various gifts for newly-baptized.

According to the ukaz of Peter the Great, the evangelizer of Siberia wished to prepare the ground of this field on his previous journey; that is, to destroy the pagan places of worship with their idols, and to show the pagans how powerless their imaginary gods are to protect even themselves. With the help of God, Metropolitan Schema-monk Theodore managed to convince the Ostyaks, who lived near Samarov and in the yurts of Sherkal, to destroy the idols which were especially honored in those districts.

On June 10, 1715, Metropolitan John Maximovich of Tobolsk reposed, and the aged Metropolitan Schema-monk Theodore was again entrusted with the administration of the Siberian Diocese, but he did not stop his favorite missionary activity. Metropolitan Schema-monk Theodore was so fond of the enlightened Ostyaks that, a year before his death, being retired and ill for the second time, the patient visited Nizovsky territory again in 1726 and even reached far off Obdorsk. But this was to be the last journey of the ever-memorable hierarch.

During his second administration of the diocese, Metropolitan Theodore paid attention to the overseas Beijing mission, which from 1714 was headed by Archimandrite Hilarion of Lezhaysk, who was sent to the capital of China by imperial command, under Metropolitan John Maximovich. Upon the death of this Archimandrite, his successor Anthony Platkovsky was appointed head of the mission, and returned to Russia in 1721, because according to the suggestion of the Most Reverend Theodore and the Siberian governor, as well as the highest levels of government, it was decided to send a bishop to Beijing.

Even during his first administration of the Tobolsk diocese, he had a vicar bishop, Barlaam Kossovsky, the Bishop of Irkutsk from 1706. He lived in Irkutsk until 1714, when he returned to Moscow, and he was soon appointed to the archiepiscopal cathedra of Tver. Metropolitan Theodore’s second tenure in the Siberian Diocese lasted for five years. In 1720, at his own request, Tsar Peter I sent him a letter granting him retirement, in which he gave thanks to the holy hierarch of God for his zealous pastoral service, especially for his tireless and successful work in the missionary field. In addition, the archpastor received a retirement pension: 200 rubles in cash, 50 quarters of bread (3000 bushels of grain) per year. The exhausted hierarch settled in the Tyumen monastery which he himself had built. On May 31, 1727, he reposed at the age of 76, among the brethren and children of the newly-baptized.

Judging by his portraits, Metropolitan Philotheos was tall, lean, with a long nose, and gray hair. As to his character, in the words of the Siberian Chronicle of Cherepanov, “he was quiet, very indulgent to all, and had very little vanity.” His life was most active and simple; in the summertime, he often used to go on foot to Tobolsk to the Ivanov monastery and fished there in the Shantalyne River.

Living alone, he taught the children of the newly-baptized to read, write, and sing in his leisure hours. Many of them lived in his cell. Sometimes he composed Church hymns; for example – the Troparion and Kontakion of the wonderworker Saint Simeon of Verkhoturye (December 18), a Canon to the martyr Basil of Mangazea (March 23),2 and others, as well as poems of religious content. With his own hand, he wrote many of the documents which he issued, especially those concerning the newly-baptized, or pertaining to the episcopal estates.

Not only the residents of Tyumen, but also those from other places in Siberia, visit the grave of the pious archpastor with reverence and offer memorial services for him.3 After the Russian Revolution, his relics were secretly reburied. On October 21, 2006, the incorrupt relics of Saint Philotheos were found in Tyumen in the Ascension-Saint George Church.

Saint Philotheos is commemorated on May 31, and also on June 10, the Synaxis of Siberian saints.

1 A yurt was a sort of tepee made from animal skins.
2 See Orthodox Life # 2, 1972.
3 Source: The Russian Pilgrim, 1900 (Русский Паломник, 1900 г.)

Saint Apollonios (Apollo) of the Egyptian Thebaid

The Venerable Apollonios was the son of the pious parents, Aisi and Amani. According to one version, he had an elder brother, a monk, who died before his birth, who appeared to him in a dream. According to other sources, his parents were childless before the birth of Apollonios.

At the age of fifteen, the Saint retired to the inner desert of the Thebaïd (in Lower Egypt), along with his kinsman Abib. After fourteen years of the solitary life, Saint Apollonios was granted a Divine Revelation. A Voice said: “Apollonios, by your hands I will destroy the wisdom of the wise men of Egypt, and I will remove their knowledge, which is not true knowledge. You will also overthrow those who are reputed to be the wise men of Babel (the Babylon of Egypt), and all their service to devils (idolatry). Now go quickly to the desert, to the region which is near the habitations of men. There you shall beget for me a holy people, who will be exalted by their good works.”

Soon he became known for the multitude of miracles which he performed. He was the head of many monks; and he directed them profitably by his spiritual instructions.

During the reign of Julian the Apostate, God commanded the Saint to go to the near desert. In a spot close to Hermopolis he founded a monastery in which about five hundred monks would gather in the future.The brethren of the Monastery partook of the Holy Mysteries in the morning, and then in the afternoon they studied the Holy Scriptures. Only after sunset did they eat a little food, and then they went off into the desert alone, “in the darkness of the night, devoting themselves to the contemplation of God and His Holy Word,” while some of the monks remained in the monastery.

The monks would eat food just once a day. Apollonios condemned those who adhered to the harsher forms of austerity – these did not cut their hair and wore chains – regarding such things as a sign of vanity. At the same time, Apollonios himself was a strict faster, he ate boiled food on Sundays, and on other days he ate only wild plants.

Once one of the monks was forcibly recruited for military service and was locked up in a prison for refusing to serve. Apollonios and some other monks visited him in the prison. They comforted him and advised him to remain steadfast. When the centurion heard about this, he became very angry and locked Apollonios and his companions in prison, posting many guards. However, an angel of the Lord appeared at midnight, to open the doors of the prison, and the monks left unhindered.

Near the monastery were ten pagan settlements. Saint Apollonios was once a witness to a pagan ritual: priests of the idols, accompanied by a crowd, carried an idol around to the villages, “raging like bacchants.” By the Saint’s prayers, the idolaters were halted and could not continue the procession. Upon learning of the cause of the incident, many of them followed Apollonios, and the idol was destroyed. After this miracle, many pagans became Christians, and some of them even remained in the monastery. Soon there were almost no pagans left in the vicinity of the monastery.

When there was strife between two villages near the monastery, Saint Apollonios managed to convert a robber (who may have been the instigator of the quarrel) to Christ, and so peace was restored.

On another occasion, Apollonios was able to prevent bloodshed between the Christian and pagan villages, punishing the leader of the pagans with a terrible death. When famine occurred at the Thebaid, Apollonios supplied the inhabitants with food.

Saint Apollonios reposed in peace around the year 395, at very advanced age.

Much of the information about Saint Apollonios was recorded in chapter 9 of Saint Jerome’s History of the Monks of Egypt. The author had visited Apollonios shortly before the latter’s repose, along with his companions. They lived in his monastery for about a week.

Sozomon also provides some details about Apollonios in Book VI, chapter 29 of his Church History, citing Timothy, the primate of the Church of Alexandria, as the source for what we know about Saint Apollonios’s personal discipline as well as his “divine and marvelous deeds.” The Coptic Church has also preserved an ancient testimony of Saint Apollonios in a description of Abba Paul’s journey from Antinoë through the monasteries of Egypt, and another account from a Jacobite Synaxarion (in Arabic). This Synaxarion under 5 Amshire (January 30) calls Apollonios “an Equal of the angels.” The Coptic Church commemorates Saint Apollonios on 25 Papo (October 22).

Daily Readings for Tuesday, May 30, 2023



Isaacius, Abbot of the Monastery of Dalmatus, Macrina, grandmother of St. Basil the Great, Barlaam the Monk of Caesarea, Natalios the Martyr, Emilia, mother of Saint Basil the Great


IN THOSE DAYS, Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself with them and went into the temple, to give notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for every one of them. When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, who had seen him in the temple, stirred up all the crowd, and laid hands on him, crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching men everywhere against the people and the law and this place; moreover he also brought Greeks into the temple, and he has defiled this holy place.” For they had previously seen Trophimos the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. Then all the city was aroused, and the people ran together; they seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. And as they were trying to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. He at once took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them; and when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

JOHN 16:2-13

The Lord said to his disciples, "The hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them.
I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

Venerable Isaac, Founder of Dalmátos Monastery at Constantinople

Saint Isaac lived during the IV century, received the monastic tonsure and pursued ascetic labors in the desert. During the reign of Emperor Valens (364-378), a zealous adherent of the Arian heresy, there was a persecution of the Orthodox, and churches were closed and destroyed.

Hearing of the persecution, Saint Isaac left the wilderness and went to Constantinople to console and encourage the Orthodox, and to fight against the heretics. At that time, barbarian Goths along the Danube River were making war against the Empire. They seized Thrace and advanced toward Constantinople.

When Emperor Valens was leaving the capital with his soldiers, Saint Isaac cried out, “Emperor, reopen the churches of the Orthodox, and then the Lord will aid you!” But the Emperor, disdaining the Saint's words, continued confidently on his way. The Saint repeated his request and prophecy three times. The angry Emperor ordered Saint Isaac to be thrown into a deep ravine, filled with thorns and mud, from which it was impossible to escape.

Saint Isaac remained alive by God’s help, and when he emerged he overtook the Emperor and said, “You wanted to destroy me, but three Angels pulled me from the mire. Hear me, reopen the churches for the Orthodox and you shall defeat the enemy. If you do not heed me, then you shall not return. You will be captured and burnt alive.” The Emperor was astonished at the Saint's boldness and ordered his attendants Saturninus and Victor to seize him and hold him in prison until his return.

Saint Isaac’s prophecy was soon fulfilled. The Goths defeated and pursued the Greek army. The Emperor and his Arian generals took refuge in a barn filled with straw, and the attackers set it ablaze. After news of the Emperor's death was received in Constantinople, Saint Isaac was released and honored as a prophet.

Then the holy Emperor Theodosios the Great (379-395) came to the throne. On the advice of Saturninus and Victor, he summoned the Elder, treating him with great respect. Obeying his instructions, he banished the Arians from Constantinople and restored the churches to the Orthodox. Saint Isaac wanted to return to his desert, but Saturninus and Victor begged him not to leave the city, but to remain and protect it by his prayers.

Saturninus built a monastery for Saint Isaac in Constantinople, where monks gathered around him. Saint Isaac was the Monastery’s Igoumen and spiritual guide. He also nourished laypeople, and helped many of the poor and suffering.

When he had reached an advanced age, Saint Isaac made Saint Dalmátos (August 3) Igoumen. The Monastery was later named for Dalmátos.

Saint Isaac reposed in the year 383, and his memory is also celebrated on March 22.

The Monastery of Saint Isaac in Saint Petersburg is dedicated to this Saint.

Saint Emmeleίa

Saint Emmeleia was from a pious family of Caesarea in Cappadocia. Her father became a Martyr during the last persecutions. Her life was a good root which produced sweet fruits (her children) who emerged as prominent members of society, and most of them were also Saints of the Church, such as Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Peter of Sebasteίa, the nun Makrina, and the monk Naukratios. From a holy root come holy shoots; that is, from holy parents come blessed and holy children.

Saint Emmeleίa experienced many sorrows in her life, as is usually the case with the elect. Some of these were the death of her parents, even before she married, the death of her husband, as soon as their son Peter was born, the untimely death of her son Naukratios, and raising her children alone in the discipline and admonition of the Lord, but she faced these with exemplary faith, courage, and patience. She taught her children mainly by her own example. Along with her milk, she gave them the unadulterated milk of faith, and taught them the mysteries of the Church.

She ended her days in a Monastery, where her daughter Saint Makrina (July 19) was the Igoumeness.

Saint Emmeleίa is commemorated on January 1 in Slavic usage, and on May 30 in Greek usage.

Daily Readings for Monday, May 29, 2023



Theodosia the Virgin-Martyr of Tyre, Theodosia, Virgin-Martyr of Constantinople, Seven New Martyrs of Kastoria, Andrew the New Martyr of Argentes, John of Smyrna the New Martyr


IN THOSE DAYS, the apostles departed and came to Caesarea; and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. And he had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. While we were staying for some days, a prophet named Agabos came down from Judea. And coming to us he took Paul’s girdle and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this girdle and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'” When we heard this, we and the people there begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “The will of the Lord be done.”

JOHN 14:27-15:7

The Lord said to his disciples, "Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go hence.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.

Holy Virgin Martyr Theodosίa of Tyre

Saint Theodosίa of Tyre lived during the III and IV centuries. Once, during a persecution against Christians, which had already lasted for five years, the seventeen-year-old Theodosίa visited some condemned Christian prisoners in the Praetorium at Caesarea in Palestine. It was the day of Holy Pascha, and the Martyrs were speaking about the Kingdom of God. Saint Theodosίa asked them to remember her when they appeared before the Lord.

When the soldiers saw that the girl had bowed to the prisoners, they seized her and led her before the governor, Urban. The governor urged the Saint to offer sacrifice to the idols, but she refused, professing her faith in Christ. Then she was subjected to cruel tortures; her sides and breasts were raked with iron claws until her bones were exposed. She endured this in silence with astonishing courage. Again Urban told her to sacrifice, but she mocked him saying: “Foolish man, why do you persist? Can you not see that I have received everything I prayed for, and that I am honored to share the fate of these Martyrs for Christ?"

After saying this, she was tormented even more severely than before. The holy virgin was cast into the sea with a stone tied around her neck, but Angels rescued her from the depths. Then they tossed her into the arena to be eaten by wild animals. Seeing that the beasts would not touch her, the soldiers beheaded her.

That night Saint Theodosίa appeared to her parents, who had tried to persuade their daughter not to let herself be tortured. She wore radiant garments, a crown upon her head, and held a luminous gold cross in her hand. She said to them, “Behold the great glory of which you wished to deprive me!”

The Holy Virgin Martyr Theodosίa of Tyre suffered for Christ on April 3 in the year 307 or 308. She is also commemorated on May 29 (the transfer of her relics to Constantinople, and later to Venice).

Repose of the Blessed John of Ustiug the Fool-for-Christ

Blessed John, the Fool-for-Christ and Wonderworker of Ustiug, was born in the village of Pukhovo, near Old Ustiug, of pious parents Savva and Maria. From his youth he distinguished himself by a strict life of fasting. On Wednesdays and Fridays he ate nothing, and on other days he ate only bread and water. His parents moved to the city of Orlets along the Iug River, forty versts from Ustiug. Left as a widow, the Saint’s mother was tonsured at Holy Trinity Monastery in Orlets with the monastic name Natalia. The young John began by keeping silence, and then he embraced the path of foolishness for the sake of Christ.

Going about the city of Ustiug, he lived in a hut that had been built for him, and spent his nights at unceasing prayer. By day, however, he went through the streets of the city barefoot and in rags all year long, resting sometimes on a dung heap. He endured much abuse and derision from the people of the city.

Even during his lifetime, the Saint was granted the gift of wonderworking. He reposed at a young age on May 29, 1494, and was buried near the Dormition cathedral in the city of Ustiug. Later, a church dedicated to him was built over his relics.

The Service to Blessed John of Ustiug was composed in the XVI century. His Life was written in 1554, based on the recollections of people who had known him. The holy ascetic was famed as an intercessor during the invasions of enemies, and as a healer of those afflicted with various ailments.

Blessed John of Ustiug is also commemorated on the Third Sunday after Pentecost (Synaxis of the Vologda Saints).

Virgin Martyr Theodosia the Nun of Constantinople

The Virgin Martyr Theodosia of Constantinople lived during the eighth century. She was born in answer to the fervent prayers of her parents. After their death, she was raised at the women’s monastery of the holy Martyr Anastasia in Constantinople. Saint Theodosia became a nun after she distributed to the poor of what remained of her parental inheritance. She used part of the money to commission gold and silver icons of the Savior, the Theotokos, and Saint Anastasia.

When Leo the Isaurian (717-741) ascended the imperial throne, he issued an edict to destroy holy icons everywhere. Above the Bronze Gates at Constantinople was a bronze icon of the Savior, which had been there for more than 400 years. In 730, the iconoclast Patriarch Anastasius ordered the icon removed.

The Virgin Martyr Theodosia and other women rushed to protect the icon and toppled the ladder with the soldier who was carrying out the command. Then they stoned the impious Patriarch Anastasius, and Emperor Leo ordered soldiers to behead the women. Saint Theodosia, an ardent defender of icons, was locked up in prison. For a week they gave her a hundred lashes each day. On the eighth day, they led her about the city, fiercely beating her along the way. One of the soldiers stabbed the nun in the throat with a ram’s horn, and she received the crown of martyrdom.

The body of the holy virgin martyr was reverently buried by Christians in the monastery of Saint Euphemia in Constantinople, near a place called Dexiokratis. The tomb of Saint Theodosia was glorified by numerous healings of the sick.

Icon of the Mother of God “the Surety of Sinners”

The Icon of the Mother of God “Surety of Sinners” is known by this name because of the inscription on the icon: “I am the Surety of sinners for My Son Who has entrusted Me to hear them, and those who bring Me the joy of hearing them will receive eternal joy through Me.” The Mother of God embraces Her Child, Who holds Her right hand with both His hands so that Her thumb is in His right hand, and Her small finger in His left hand. This is the gesture of one who gives surety for another.

Although we do not know when or by whom the icon was originally painted, it is believed that the basis of the icon is to be found in the Akathist to the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos: “Rejoice, You Who offer Your hands in surety for us to God.”

This icon was first glorified by miracles at the Saint Nicholas Odrino men’s monastery of the former Orlov gubernia in the mid-nineteenth century (The “Assuage My Sorrows Icon” commemorated on October 9 is also from this monastery). The “Surety of Sinners” icon of the Mother of God was in an old chapel beyond the monastery gates, and stood between two other ancient icons. Because it was so faded and covered with dust, it was impossible to read the inscription.

In 1843 it was revealed to many of the people in dreams that the icon was endowed with miraculous power. They solemnly brought the icon into the church. Believers began to flock to it to pray for the healing of their sorrows and sicknesses. The first to receive healing was a crippled child, whose mother prayed fervently before the icon in 1844. The icon was glorified during a cholera epidemic, when many people fell deathly ill, and were restored to health after praying before the icon.

A large stone church with three altars was built at the monastery in honor of the wonderworking icon.

In 1848, through the zeal of Lt. Col. Demetrius Boncheskul, a copy of the wonderworking image was made and placed in his home. Soon it began to exude a healing myrrh, which was given to many so they might recover their health after grievous illnesses. Boncheskul donated this wonderworking copy to the church of Saint Nicholas at Khamovniki in Moscow, where a chapel was built in honor of the icon.

The “Surety of Sinners” Icon is also commemorated on March 7 and on Thursday of the week of All Saints.

Martyred Fathers and Mothers of Atchara

Atchara has been a Christian stronghold since apostolic times. It was through this region that Saint Andrew the First-called entered Georgia, preaching the Gospel for the first time in the Iberian land. In this land, in the village of Gonio, the holy relics of the martyred Apostle Matthias are buried.

Since the 16th century Atchara has been subject to constant assaults by the Turks. Having attained a victory in the Ottoman-Persian War, the Turks gained a large part of southern and western Georgia: Samtskhe, Atchara, and Chaneti were declared Turkish provinces. The invaders knew well that, in order to completely conquer the Georgian people, it was necessary to uproot Christianity. Thus they instituted a systematic campaign of forced conversion to Islam.

When they failed to achieve their goal with bribery and deception, they resorted to violence.

In his work The Islamization of Georgia, or the Spread of Islam in Western Georgia in the 17th-18th Centuries, the renowned early twentieth-century scholar Zakaria Chichinadze retold a story he had heard from one elderly Atcharan man: “In Atchara the implanting of Islam faced a powerful opposition. Many of the elderly men and the majority of women stood firmly by the Christian Faith, and even challenged and debated the Turkish mullahs…. The number of these aged men in Atchara was considerably high. In the end an order was issued: to arrest all dissidents, forcibly convert them to Islam, and execute those who resisted. Before long all the elderly Christians of Atchara were arrested and cast in prison. Then they were led to the River Atcharistsqali, to a 12th-century bridge known as the ‘Bridge of Queen Tamar.’ On that bridge the Ottomans erected a guillotine.

“They chopped off the heads of the elderly people, sent the ends of their tongues to the pasha, and threw their bodies into the river. This happened one hundred years ago, in the year 1790.”

Gallows and a guillotine were erected in the villages of Atcharistsqali, Keda, Chakvi, Khulo, Machakhela, and Gonio. The documents preserved in the manuscript collection at Akhaltsikhe Museum describe in even more horrific detail the martyrdom of the Atcharan Christians: “The human tongue is powerless to describe the tortures that the Georgians suffered in those years for confessing Christianity. While they were still alive their flesh was stripped and their bodies quartered; they were slashed to pieces with swords, their bellies ripped open; they were roasted over campfires. They were pierced with flaming rods, thrown into cauldrons of boiling water; molten lead was poured down their throats; they were tossed into pools of hot lime….”

The Georgian Apostolic Church has numbered among the saints all the holy fathers and mothers of Atchara who sacrificed their lives in defense of the Christian Faith.