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A DAILY READING OF 366 SAINTS FROM THE

ORTHODOX TRADITION

CHAPTER

PAGE

Introduction

Orthodox Canonization Of Saints

Patriarchates Of The Orthodox Church

10

Ecumenical Patriarch

12

Orthodox Pascha (Easter) Dates

15

Icons In Orthodoxy

16

Incorrupt Relics

34

Glossary

44

Atlas

65

January Saints

83

February Saints

135

March Saints

177
2

CHAPTER

PAGE

April Saints

224

May Saints

282

June Saints

355

July Saints

405

August Saints

480

September Saints

523

October Saints

575

November Saints

617

December Saints

688

Sources For The Saint Of The Day

740

A PUBLICATION OF THE NORTH AMERICAN


EXARCHATE OF THE ORDER OF SAINT
EUGENE OF TREBIZOND
3

The objective of this book is for each Knight of the Order to have a
daily saints reading to give each Knight encouragement in their own
daily life. The example of these saints, many of whom gave their life
for their faith, is one which we should emulate. We do not need to
give up our wealth or move to the desert and live in a cave, but we do
need to follow these saints example of loving God and living in his
Holy Will.
We have also added a number of short chapters that will, hopefully,
answer many questions that the reader may have.
When the inspiration of an Orthodox Saint of the Day e-mail to the
Knights of the Order first materialized, there were a number of
concepts that were considered. Most were discarded, but a set of
guidelines were developed to standardize the daily post.
First, the saint must be Orthodox. Until the Great Schism in 1054, the
Roman and Orthodox branches of the Christian Church shared the
same

saints.

After

1054,

the

Orthodox

Church

began

to

recognized people within its sphere of influence as s a i n t s . I have


attempted to include in these saints postings:
4

Those saints who were recognized by one of the post-schism


Patriarchs
Those pre-schism saints who were from the geographical areas
of the world that would encompass the Orthodox regions
I did not always follow my guidelines, as I also included many of the
early church fathers who set the church on the course that it has
followed for the last 2,000 years. I also included some saints who are
reconized by the Orthodox Church that are well known, such as Saint
January (April 21) and Saint George the Dragon Slayer (April 23) and
Saint Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney (August 6).
Second, I attempted to find saints who were not well known.
Third, I attempted to include Saints who were ordinary people until
the Power of the Holy Spirit took control of their lives and they
became a human vessel of Gods Holy work.
The compiling of the daily postings into a booklet form was the
inspiration of the Count of Kyzikos, Sir Robert Cowan G.C.E.Tr., who
has spent hundreds of hours assuring that the daily postings were in
an acceptable format for this booklet. Sir Robert also compiled the
glossary and atlas, which required many more hours of research.
The review for accuracy of the articles in this booklet was conducted
by the Count of Thyatira, Sir Paul Fanning C.E.Tr., who kept me from
making monumental mistakes.
I personally would like to thank Sir Robert and Sir Paul for their many
hours of devotion to this project.

The compiling of the Daily Saints was at times challenging. It was


also a 14 month labor of spiritual gratification.
I hope you enjoy the following as much as I have enjoyed compiling
this book of Orthodox Saints.

The Orthodox Church does not follow any official procedure for the
"recognition" of saints. Initially the Church accepted as saints those
who had suffered martyrdom for Christ. The saints are saints thanks
to the grace of God, and they do not need official ecclesiastical
recognition. The Christian people, reading their lives and witnessing
their performance of miracles, accept and honor them as saints.
Saint John Chrysostom, persecuted and exiled by the civil and
ecclesiastical authorities, was accepted as a saint of the Church by
popular acclaim.

Saint Basil the Great was accepted immediately

after his death as a saint of the Church by the people. Recently, in


order to avoid abuses, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has issued
special

encyclical

letters

(tomoi)

in

which

the

Holy

Synod

"recognizes" or accepts the popular feelings about a saint.


Through the work of the Holy Trinity all Christians could be called
saints; especially in the early Church as long as they were baptized in
the name of the Holy Trinity, they received the Seal of the Spirit in
Chrismation and frequently participated in the Eucharist. In the same
spirit Saint Paul, when writing to the churches he had visited, calls all
the faithful "saints."

Writing to the Ephesians, he addresses "the

saints who live in Ephesus" (Eph. 1: 1); writing to the Corinthians he


uses the same expressions (2 Cor. 1: 11). Saint Basil, commenting on
this point, writes that Paul refers to all those who are united with
God, who is the Being, the Life and the Truth (Against Eunomius, II,
7

19).

Furthermore, Saint Paul writes to the Colossians that God has

reconciled men by Christ's death, "so that He may present you before
Himself holy, without blemish and innocent in His sight" (Col 1: 22).
In our society, however, who can be addressed as a saint? Who are
those men and women and children who may be called saints by the
Church today?

Many Orthodox theologians classify the saints in

seven categories:
1. The Apostles, who were the first ones to spread the message of
the Incarnation of the Word of God and of salvation through
Christ.
2. The Prophets, because they predicted and prophesied the
coming of the Messiah.
3. The Martyrs, for sacrificing their lives and fearlessly confessing
Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.
4. The Fathers and Hierarchs of the Church, who excelled in
explaining and in defending, by word and deed, the Christian
faith.
5. The Monastics, who lived in the desert and dedicated themselves
to spiritual exercise (askesis), reaching, as far as possible,
perfection in Christ.
6. The Just, those who lived in the world, leading exemplary lives
as clergy or laity with their families, becoming examples for
imitation in society.

7. The Wonderworkers, those who were able to perform miracles


while alive or at their gravesite.
Any one of the nine Patriarchs in the Orthodox Church can declare a
saint. It is for that reason that a person may be declared a saint by
the Serbian Patriarch and the same person is not recognized as a
saint by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

However, this division is

slowly fading even before the Ecumenical Patriarch suggested that all
saints, regardless of who created the saint, be recognized by all in
the Orthodox faith.

The ancient Patriarchates (in order of importance):


The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, chief of the
Orthodox Church of Constantinople and the Spiritual Leader
of Greek and Eastern Orthodoxy.
The Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa and the chief of
the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria.
The Patriarch of Antioch and the head of the Greek Orthodox
Church of Antioch and All the East in the Near East.
The Patriarch of Jerusalem and the chief of the Greek
Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and Holy Zion in Israel,
Palestine, Jordan and All Arabia.
The five junior Patriarchates created after the consolidation of
the Pentarchy, in chronological order of their recognition as
Patriarchates by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople:
The Patriarch of All Bulgaria and the chief of the Bulgarian
Orthodox Church in Bulgaria, recognized as a Patriarchate in
927.

10

The Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia and the chief of the


Georgian Orthodox Church in Georgia, recognized as a
Catholicate (Patriarchate) in 1008.
The Serbian Patriarch and the chief of the Serbian Orthodox
Church in Serbia (and the former Yugoslavia), recognized as
a Patriarchate in 1375.
The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the chief of the
Russian Orthodox Church in Russia, recognized as a
Patriarchate in 1589.
The Patriarch of All Romania and the chief of the Romanian
Orthodox Church in Romania, recognized as a Patriarchate
in 1925.

11

The Ecumenical Patriarch is the Archbishop of ConstantinopleNew


Rome and ranks as primus inter pares (first among equals) in the
Orthodox Communion.

Patriarch Bartholomew I currently holds this

position, the 271st person to hold this position.

This article will

speak to the position of the office, not to the person holding the
office.
The Ecumenical Patriarch has been historically known as the Greek
Patriarch of Constantinople, as distinct from the Armenian Patriarch
of Constantinople and the Crusader Latin Patriarch of Constantinople.
Historically, within the five ecumenical sees of Pentarchy, the
patriarch is regarded as the successor of Saint Andrew, the Apostle.
The Turkish government recognizes him as the spiritual leader of the
Greek minority in Turkey, and refer to him as the Greek Orthodox
Patriarch of the Phanar. The Patriarch was subject to the authority of
the Ottoman Empire after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453,
until the declaration of Turkish Republic in 1923.
The Patriarch of Constantinople has been designated the Ecumenical
Patriarch since the sixth century.
The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is first in honor among all
Eastern Orthodox bishops, presides in person - or through a delegate over any council of Orthodox primates and/or bishops in which he
takes part and serves as primary spokesman for the Orthodox
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communion, especially in ecumenical contacts with other Christian


denominations. He has no direct jurisdiction over the other patriarchs
or the other autocephalous Orthodox churches, but he, alone among
his fellow-primates, enjoys the right of convening extraordinary
synods consisting of them and/or their delegates to deal with ad hoc
situations and has also convened well-attended Pan-Orthodox Synods
in the last forty years.

He also has an influence over the other

Patriarchs.
In addition to being the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox
Christians worldwide, he is the direct administrative superior of
dioceses and archdioceses serving millions of Greek, Ukrainian,
Rusyn and Albanian believers in North and South America, Western
Europe, Australia and New Zealand, Hong Kong, Korea, Southeast
Asia and parts of modern Greece which, for historical reasons, do not
fall under the jurisdiction of another Patriarch.
He should not be confused with the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople,
an office that is now extinct, and created after the Latin capture of
Constantinople in 1204, during the Fourth Crusade. That office
became effectively redundant after the city was recaptured by the
Byzantine Greeks, half a century later.
He is also known, outside Orthodoxy, as the Greek Patriarch of
Constantinople. His official title is "His All-Holiness the Archbishop of
Constantinople New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch."

13

Seal of Bartholomew I

Saint Andrew, First Patriarch

Current Patriarch

Emblem found atop the front

Throne room inside the

entrance of the Ecumenical

Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Patriarchate of Constantinople

The Gospel is enthroned on the


dais; the Patriarch sits on the
lower throne in front.

14

2013 - Easter Sunday - May 5th


2014 - Easter Sunday - April 20th (same date as the Latin Church)
2015 - Easter Sunday - April 12th
2016 - Easter Sunday - May 1st
2017 - Easter Sunday - April 16th (same date as the Latin Church)
2018 - Easter Sunday - April 8th
2019 - Easter Sunday - April 28th
2020 - Easter Sunday - April 19th
2021 - Easter Sunday - May 2nd
2022 - Easter Sunday - April 24th
2023 - Easter Sunday - April 16th
2024 - Easter Sunday - May 5th

,
,

.
Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!

15

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE TREBIZONDA


A Publication Of The Order Of Saint Eugene Of Trebizond
(By Dr. Russell R. Fritz, Edited by Marilyn Findley K.S.C.)

A number of years ago, I was visiting Sacramento, California when Sir


Paul Fanning C.E.Tr, one of our Knights who was living in the area,
took me to a Serbian Orthodox Church that was in the final stages of
interior painting.

It was most beautiful.

Until that time, I had not

given much thought to the use of icons. Being raised a Baptist, and
being a minister in The Salvation Army, iconography had never been a
part of my life.

When I arrived home, the Exarch for Greece and

Cyprus, the Baron Sir Tonis Breidel~Hadjidemeetriou, G.C.E.Tr. had


sent me a wonderful icon on wood of Saint Eugene that he had
painted. This started a personal journey to discover iconography; to
understand and embrace this mystery.
The first thing that I found was that there are thousands of books
written on the subject, everything from general histories to definitive
construction of icons. The second thing I found is that there is no one
authority on icons. The third thing I found is that there is only one
rule to follow, not a set of inflexible rules like in Western Heraldry.
There are general guidelines that most artists follow, guidelines that
have been in practice for hundreds of years.

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It would be impossible to impart all information on icons in a short


article like this, so I will just cover the basics, and hopefully it will
inspire you to further your education in this subject.
The word icon, which derives from the Greek word Eikon (), is
a religious work of art in Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism. The
term is used in a number of contexts and means an image or
representation of something or someone of greater significance,i but
in the more restricted sense in which it is understood, it means a
sacred image representing Christ, the Virgin Mary, saints and angels,
as well as narrative scenes from the Old and the New Testament.
Orthodox tradition teaches that iconography began on the day Jesus
Christ pressed a cloth to His face and imprinted His divine-human
image on the cloth. Tradition also says that Luke the Evangelist
painted icons during his ministery. The book The Life of the Virgin
Mary, The Theotokos by the Holy Apostle Convent in Buena Vista,
Colorado, which is thought of as the most accurate and extensive
tome on the Theotokos ever published, tells us that there are known
Lukan icons ascribed to his hand. They are:
The Blessed Virgin of Megaspilaon on Morea, Peloponnese,
Greece
Kykkou Icon of Cypress
Theotokos of Mt. Soumela of Trebezond
Panagia of the Akathist, Monastery of Dionysiou, Mt. Athos
There are 6 classes of icons:ii
Icons of Christ Pantokrator - He who rules over everything
Icons of the Theotokos God Bearer Mother of God
Feast Day Icons Festal Icons
Icons of Angels
Icons and Lives of Saints
Special Icons events in Jesus life, Churches, Spiritual History
17

Today icons are used particularly among Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox,


Coptic and Byzantine Catholic Churches.
Christianity originated as a movement within Judaism, a religion that
traditionally did not tolerate figurative religious art.

This could

explain the reason that for the first centuries of its existence, the
new Christian religion, probably affected by its Jewish roots and the
Second Commandment Thou shall not make unto thee any graven
images, objected to figurative sacred art and to any representation
of the Deity.

The first Christian images appeared around the 2nd

century in the catacombs, especially in Rome, where painters with


the extended use of new and old familiar pagan symbols tried to
clarify the abstract notions of the new religion, to protect and conceal
the new ideas from their persecutors and to spread the basic
principles of Christianity.iii

In other words, the main aim was to

distinguish the spiritual Christian religion from idolatry.

During the

first centuries, Christians used art as a means to aid in the promotion


of religion, in that they incorporated various and distinct elements
from a number of sources:iv
The gracefulness and clarity of composition was borrowed from
Hellenic art
The hierarchical placement of figures and symmetry of design
was from Roman art
The

dynamic

movement

and

energy

of

the

represented

characters were based on Syrian art


The large almond-shaped eyes, the long thin noses and small
mouths were in turn borrowed from the Egyptian funeral
portraits.

18

After the adoption of Christianity as the only official religion in the


Byzantine Empire in the 4th century, the possibility was created for
the development and spread of a pure Christian art which would
become the official and dominant art of the Empire. Therefore, for the
first time, Christians were free to express their faith openly without
any fear of persecution by the state.
As a result, Christian art began to change not only in quality and
sophistication, but also in its nature. Gradually, the distinction from
the Greek-Roman Classic tradition begins.

The three dimensional

perceptive, the self-sufficient existence, the interest in the figure


itself

and

its

symmetrical

and

natural

connections

with

the

surroundings are no longer the first priority. The figure becomes two
dimensional, frontal, flat and static.

Byzantine Icon painters were

more interested in exhibiting in every possible way the spiritual and


divine nature than depicting and glorifying the human aspect of the
flesh. As a result, they no longer emphasized the precise depiction of
the natural characteristics of the figure or the idealization of nature,
but rather the face and especially the eyes that reflect the spirituality
of the figures that are stylized in a manner that emphasized their
holiness rather than their humanity, the permanent and stable value
of the person and the unchangeable and complete essence of its
existence.

Byzantine art becomes a type of expressionist art that

shows the inner spiritual life of the depicted figure and immaterializes
its existence without denying the nature itself.
Christianity teaches that the Divine God became human flesh in the
form of Jesus Christ, making it possible to create depictions of the
human

form

of

the

Son

of

God

and

not

defy

the

Second

Commandment. Byzantine iconography developed rigorously and the


basic compositional schemes became well established, resulting in
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an increase in the representations of holy figures and holy events.


Yet, suspicions of traditionalists who inflexibly obeyed the second
commandment and feared that any deviation from it would lead to
heresy or idol worship arose.

These fears were partially justified,

since not only the illiterate believers but also the churchmen
themselves could not understand how the Trinity of God as the One
and only God, and the divine and human nature of Christ could be
reconciled.
In the 726, a theological debate involving both the Byzantine state
and church, known as Iconoclasm, began. The Emperor Leo III and a
group of overzealous traditionalists arguing that misinterpretation and
misuse of religious images usually leads to heresy barred the
production and use of figural images and began a systematic
destruction of holy images in the Empire.

The iconoclastic debate

which spanned roughly a century, during the years 726-787 and 815843, centered on the appropriate use of Orthodox icons in religious
veneration

and

the

precise

relationship

between

the

sacred

personage and its image. The fear that the believer misdirected their
veneration towards the image rather than directing that veneration to
the holy person represented in the image lay at the heart of the
controversy. Old Testament prohibitions against worshipping graven
images provided one of the most powerful arguments for the
Byzantine iconoclasts.
The iconodules (the defenders of Orthodox Icons), who opposed to
iconoclasts, attempted to prove that icons were not worshipped but
venerated and that such veneration was not idolatry.

They based

their defense of Orthodox Icons on the Doctrine of the Incarnation and


on the dogma of the two natures of Christ. St. John of Damascus and
St. Theodore Studites wrote extensive treatises explaining the
20

reasons for and the importance of Orthodox Icon veneration. St. John
of Damascus argued that it is not divine beauty that is given form
and shape, but the human form that is rendered by the painters
brush.

Therefore, if the Son of God became man and appeared in

mans nature, why should his image not be made?v


St. Theodore Studites, in turn, defended the Orthodox Icons on the
basis of the ideas of identity and necessity: Man himself is created
by God after the image and likeness of God; therefore, there is
something divine in the art of making imagesas perfect man, Christ
not only can but also must be represented and worshipped in
imageslet this be denied and Christs economy of the salvation is
destroyed.vi
The iconoclasts wanted a religion freed from all contact with what is
material, for they thought that what is spiritual must be non-material,
but failed to fully take into account the Incarnation and fell into a kind
of dualism. If we allow no place for Christs humanity or his body, we
betray the Incarnation and forget that our body and soul must be
saved

and

transfigured.

The

Empress

Irene

suspended

the

iconoclastic persecutions in 780 AD. Seven years later, the seventh


Ecumenical Synod of Nice reaffirmed the veneration of the Orthodox
Icons: We salute the form of the venerable and life-giving Cross and
the holy relics of the Saints, and we receive, salute, and kiss the holy
and venerable iconsThese holy and venerable icons we honor and
salute and venerate..To these Icons should be given salutation and
honorable reverence, not indeed the true worship of faith, which
pertains to the divine natureTo these also shall be offered incense
and lights, in honor of them, according to the ancient pious
customFor the honor which is paid to the icon passes on to that

21

which the icon represents, and he who reveres in it the person who is
represented.
In 815 AD, Leo the Armenian renewed attacks on the Orthodox Icons.
However, the iconoclasts were defeated for good in 843 during the
reign of the Empress Theodora; the day of their defeat is celebrated
every year on the first Sunday after Lent as the Triumph of Orthodoxy.
This iconoclastic controversy had a profound effect on the production
of Byzantine Icons after their reintroduction in 843. After the triumph
of Orthodox Icons, iconography developed at an unprecedented rate
and changes shaped by this controversy included the evolution of
distinct portrait images, the growing popularity of certain subjects
such as Christs Resurrection from the depths of hell and the Virgin
Mary.

By the end of the 10th century the majority of iconographic

practices had been firmly established and exported to other Orthodox


countries (Bulgaria, Serbia and later, Russia) where they were further
developed and elaborated on.
Icons have been described as windows into heaven and as making
the invisible visible. Even though somber events may be depicted,
there is an underlying mood of confidence, joy, and sometimes a
playful humor.

The holy figures are shown in a blessed state,

suffused with golden light. They project an intense psychological


presence, and may seem to return your gaze, or even to initiate the
scrutiny.
Icons are not painted.

They are written.

And the finished icon is

called a book by iconographers.


In my research, I have concluded that there are three types of icon
painters:
22

Traditionalist: those artists who use ancient methods of writing


an icon (using a wood board, covered with white natural gesso,
mixed from animal skin glue, chalk dust, and marble dust, with
egg tempera base [juice of one egg yolk plus 2 tablespoons dry
white wine], made fresh and natural ground paint, and who look
at the Icon as a divinely inspired window into heaven.

A traditionalist artist at work


Betsy Porter, San Francisco

Contemporary: those artists who look on the finished book as a


divinely inspired window into heaven, but use modern painting
materials and methods to write their book.

A contemporary artist at work


Ioannis Petrakis, Elounda, Crete

Commercial Painters: those artists who paint Icons for profit.

23

In this article, we will discuss the more traditional art form, knowing
that

the

only

difference

between

the

traditionalist

and

the

contemporary is the medium used.


All Icons, whether they are Byzantine, Russian, Greek, Georgian and
Serbian, are filled with symbolism designed to convey information
about the person or event depicted.

For this reason, icons tend to

follow a prescribed methodology for how a particular person should


be depicted, including hair style, body position, clothing, and
background details.
Icon writing, in general, is not an opportunity for artistic expression,
though each iconographer brings a vision to the piece. It is far more
common for an icon to be copied from an older model, though with the
recognition of a new saint in the church, a new icon must be
created.vii
In iconography, a number of artistic traditions and conventions apply.
The underlying drawing is geometrically structured and proportioned.
Color areas are clearly defined. Figures are elongated, eyes large and
shadowed, eyebrows arched, noses long and straight, mouths closed,
hands gracefully stylized. The forehead (seat of the intellect) and the
collar bone (gateway to the heart) are emphasized. Both eyes and at
least one ear must be visible to enable the holy figure to see and hear
the viewer.

Out of respect for the commandment against graven

images, Orthodox icons avoid strongly three-dimensional effects, but


the complex cubist-like highlights hint at spiritual dimensions.
Perspective is flattened or even inversed.
The image is illustrative as well as representational, floating on a sea
of philosophy, theology, and mathematics.
24

Folds in the garments

converge and spiral into power points; hair curls and waves with the
saints energies; and increasingly bright layers of highlights symbolize
levels of consciousness. Light comes primarily from within the figure.
Linear perspective, which was introduced in the Thirteenth and
Fourteenth centuries, is constructed with great geometric precision.
This is illustrated in the wall painting of the Annunciation by Fra.
Angelico that is in the cloister of San Marco in Florence.

Here even the architectural details are used to create this type of
space. The space that is created lends to the figures a peaceful and
harmonious sense of "presence, yet the environment that they stand
in are closed.

The vanishing point is situated at the small window

which drawn the attention of the viewer into the picture. The viewer
must "enter into" the picture in order to witness the beauty of the
event.
Inverse or Byzantine perspective is frequently but not exclusively
used in the painting of icons. With this form of perspective the viewer

25

is the point of view of the objects in the icon and experiences


multiple point of perspective.

The intent of using this form of perspective is to allow the viewer a


window into the Kingdom of God and to bring them into relationship
with the Almighty. In choosing to not use the illusion of linear space
nor of external light and shadow and by placing the point of
perspective on the viewer the Divine spills out and over the confines
of the frame and rushes out to embrace the heart of man. This form
of perspective is very different from the perspective found in Western
European art and challenges the cultures way of seeing art.
As I indicated above, there is only one rule for icon writing: an
individual signature is never permitted to appear on the front of the
icon. Occasionally, a writer will put his name on the reverse, but this
is not common. More often, a number is placed on the reverse or on
the wrapping enclosure of the icon.
26

However, I have compiled guidelines that most Icon writers follow.


Below are a few of the more common guidelines:
There is a specific order to writing the icon: from the most
general space (background) to the most specific (the face).
The gold comes first because it is the background, the
"atmosphere" of heaven in which the saint dwells.

It is just

applied on the background areas and is not under the colors or


painted areas. It represents the space of heaven and situates
the figure.
Characters

in

the

icon

are

highlighted

based

upon

their

importance in comparison to other characters within the icon.


Heads on icons are rarely done in profile.

When they are, they

are awkwardly drawn and the profile indicates that the character
is less significant and perhaps even spiteful.
True function and realism in architecture are also suspended in
the icon. Natural proportions are completely ignored, and doors
and

windows

are

often

represented

without

taking

into

consideration realistic measurements.


Mary is identified by her three 8-pointed "stars of perfection," one
on each shoulder and one above her forehead.

The Eastern

Orthodox depiction of Mary the Theotokos is different from that


of the Roman Catholic one. The Theotokos is in a deep red
almost brown colored robe with the three eight-pointed stars, not
the blue and white traditional colors found in Western art and
religious imagery.
Teachers and prophets hold books and scrolls.
Saints and angels hold other symbolic objects that help us
identify them.
Archangels carry a slender spear and often a translucent globe
or disc. These are like an orb and scepter, indicating the angel's
27

high status. The spear is also a hiking stick, to show that the
angel is on a journey.

Although the spear is too delicate to

function well as a weapon, it does evoke the angelic calling to


defend the universe against evil. The translucent globe or disc
comes from ancient times, when a royal messenger would carry
a metal disc emblazoned with the recognizable symbol of his
king. Since saints and angels serve God, various emblems or
reminders of God may be used. Sometimes the face of Christ
appears in the globe.
Warrior saints also carry spears - again too slender to do much
physical damage, but an emblem of their battle against evil.
All major persons appearing in an icon are identified by name, or
in the case of Mary and Jesus, by abbreviations of their names.
The name is usually inscribed on the background near the
person's head, but may appear in a margin.

In addition, the

person may be holding a scroll or a book.


The usual color for lettering is bright red or dark red on a light
background.
Martyrs are usually shown with a red outer garment and most
often holding crosses.

Many of the martyrs found in Orthodox

icons with be seen holding a red three barred cross symbolizing


their martyrdom
Historically, beautiful icons and religious art were made in numerous
other forms and mediums, including mosaics, fresco painting, hot wax
encaustic painting, back-painted glass, embroidery, stone carving,
wood

carving,

precious

metals

(sometimes

set

with

jewels),

ceramics, illuminated manuscripts, woodcuts, tapestry weaving,


enameling on copper and silver, stained glass, ironwork, lace, and
more.

28

More recently, artists have made icons and sacred art in such
mediums as oil paint on canvas, acrylic paint, batik, beads, sequins,
felt, appliqu, quilting, collage, photography, and cold wax encaustic
painting, whatever art materials and methods they are accustomed to
use.
Most of the writers approach an icon in an attitude of reverence and
prayer.

RULES AND PRAYERS FOR ICONOGRAPHERS


(From Byzantine Iconography)

Rules
Before starting work, make the sign of the Cross; pray in silence
and pardon your enemies.
Work with care on every detail of your icon, as if you were
working in front of the Lord Himself.
During work, pray in order to strengthen yourself physically and
spiritually; avoid all useless words, and keep silence.
Pray in particular to the Saint whose face you are painting. Keep
your mind from distractions, and the Saint will be close to you.
When you choose a color, stretch out your hands interiorly to the
Lord and ask His Counsel.
Do not be jealous of your neighbors work; their success is your
success also.
When your icon is finished, thank God that His Mercy granted you
the grace to paint the Holy Images.
Have your new icon blessed by putting it on the Holy Table of
your parish church. Be the first to pray before it, before giving it
to others.
Never forget:
the joy of spreading icons throughout the world.
29

the joy of the work of icon writing.


the joy of giving the saint the possibility to shine through his/her
icon.
the joy of being in union with the Saint whose face you are
revealing.

A Prayer From Mt. Athos For Consecrating An Iconographer:


Thou Who hast so admirably imprinted Thy features on the cloth sent
to King Abgar of Edessa, and hast so wonderfully inspired Luke Thy
Evangelist: Enlighten my soul and that of Thy servant; Guide his hand
that he may reproduce Thy features, those of the Holy Virgin and of all
Thy saints, for the glory and peace of Thy Holy Church.

Spare him

from temptations and diabolical imaginations in the name of Thy


Mother, St. Luke, and all the saints. Amen.

A Prayer From Mt. Athos Before Beginning An Icon:


O Divine Lord of all that exists, Thou hast illumined the Apostle and
Evangelist Luke with Thy Holy Spirit, thereby enabling him to
represent Thy most Holy Mother, the One who held Thee in her arms
and said: The Grace of Him Who has been born of me is spread
through the world!
spirit.

Enlighten and direct my soul, my heart and my

Guide the hands of Thine unworthy servant so that I may

worthily and perfectly portray Thine icon, that of Thy Mother, and all
the Saints, for the glory, joy and adornment of Thy Holy Church.
Forgive my sins and the sins of those who will venerate these icons
and who, kneeling devoutly before them, give homage to those they
represent.

Protect them from all evil and instruct them with good

counsel. This I ask through the intercession of Thy most Holy Mother,
the Apostle Luke, and all the saints. Amen.

30

A Prayer From Mt. Athos After Completing an Icon:


Thou, Thyself, O Lord, art the fulfillment and completion of all good
things.

Fill my soul with joy and gladness, for Thou alone art the

Lover of mankind. Let Thy grace sanctify and dwell within this icon,
that it may edify and inspire those who gaze upon it and venerate it;
that in glorifying the one depicted, they may be repentant of their sins
and

strengthened

against

every

attack

of

the

adversary.

Through the prayers of the Theotokos, the holy Apostle and


Evangelist Luke, and all the Saints, O Savior, save us! Amen.
To secure a truly authentic icon written in the traditional school,
there are many Monasteries who specialize in true works of art.
There are many Orthodox Christians who approach writing an icon
with the same devotion and exactness as the writers of centuries
past. Just assure yourself that the icon you are receiving is not one
from commercial painters. It is far worse when everything is correct
in the physical, bodily sense, but the saint appears as an ordinary
man, as if he had been photographed, completely devoid of the
spiritual. When this is the case, the depiction cannot be considered
an icon.

Sometimes much attention is spent on making the icon

beautiful. If this is not detrimental to the spirituality of the icon, it is


good, but if the beauty distracts our vision to such an extent that we
forget what is most important, that one must save one's soul, must
raise one's soul to the heights of Heaven, the beauty of the depiction
is already detrimental. It may be very beautiful, but it is not an icon.
An icon is an image which leads us to a holy, God-pleasing person, or
raises us up to Heaven, or evokes a feeling of repentance, of prayer, a
feeling that one must bow down before this image. The value of an
icon lies in the fact that, when we approach it, we want to pray before
it with reverence. If the image elicits this feeling, it is an icon.
31

Thus, we see that an icon must indeed depict that which we see with
our eyes, preserving the characteristics of the body's form, for in this
world the soul acts through the body. Yet at the same time it must
point towards the inner, spiritual essence.

The task of the

iconographer is precisely to render, as far as possible and to as great


an extent as possible, those spiritual qualities whereby the person
depicted acquired the Kingdom of Heaven, whereby he won an
imperishable crown from the Lord, for the Church's true significance
is the salvation of man's soul.
Today, I have a number of icons. The Icon of Saint Eugene I received
from the Exarch of Greece we use at the North American Investitures
of new Knights. I have two in my study that remind me of the spiritual
road that I travel each day.

Both are Theotokos.

One is a

contemporary icon from an Orthodox Monastery that was written for


me by one of the brothers. The other is a 16th century Russian Black
Madonna that is silver framed.
It has been a long trek from my Baptist up-bringing to my appreciation
of icons, and I have enjoyed every step along this path!!
i

Rev. Dr. Steven Bingham, Early Christian Attitudes Toward Images, Orthodox
Research Institute, 2004

ii

Leonid Ouspensky, Theology of the Icon", St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1978

iii

Ernst Kitzinger, The Cult of Images in the Age before Iconoclasm, Dumbarton
Oaks, 1954
Valaimir Lossky with Leonid Ouspensky, The Meaning of Icons, by, SVS Press,

iv

1999.
v

Concerning the Veneration of Icons, Internet search, Russian Orthodox Church


of the Nativity

vi

Robin Cormack, Writing in Gold, Byzantine Society and its Icons, 1985, George
Philip, London

vii

Patricia Karlin-Hayter, The Oxford History of Byzantium, Oxford, 2002.


32

ICONS OF SAINT EUGENE OF TREBIZOND

33

The body of Saint Bernadette of Lourdes, found to be incorrupt by the Catholic Church.
(b. January 7, 1844 d. April 16, 1879).

Over the past few months while I have been compiling the Saint of the
Day for the Knights of the Order, I have had many questions and
comments sent me.

One of the most recurring comments is the

finding of a saints buried body incorruptible. I have been asked how


this can happen, as it is outside of the normal decaying processes.
34

Quite frankly, I did not have an answer, so I just ignored attempting


answer that question.
The easy answer would be to indicate that we need to place our faith
in God. If He wanted a saint to be incorruptible after their death, then
it was left in Gods hands.

After all, who are we to explain the

mysteries of God? I understood that the people asking the question


were believers, and all from North America. In North America, we do
not have much of a tradition that incorporates local saints in our daily
worship. Except for a very few American saints, all of our saints are
from Europe and only one that I am aware of from our local saints
have been found incorruptible.

Without this history of incorruptible

saints, it is easy to understand the questions of even strong believers.


We in North America have been taught that science is the answer to
life, and the mysteries of God have been replaced by science in our
daily lives.
In October, I read a newspaper article of shoes washing up on the
beaches of Washington State. What was interesting was that the foot
was still in the shoes.

Speculation was that they were from the

Japanese Tsunami, but there were recorded cases of feet washing


ashore in shoes years before Fukushima.

The article went on to

explain how this could happen. In the ocean, particularly in oxygenstarved environments, is the build-up of adipocere around a body.
Adipocere is a waxy substance, often found in soap. It builds up in
bodies that are exposed to bacteria, but not to air. The anaerobic
bacteria process the fat tissue and create adipocere.
Adipocere, also known as corpse, grave or mortuary wax, as it is a
wax-like organic substance formed by the

anaerobic bacterial

hydrolysis of fat in tissue, such as body fat in corpses. In its


35

formation, putrefaction is replaced by a permanent firm cast of fatty


tissues, internal organs and the face. Depending on whether it was
formed from white or brown body fat, adipocere is grayish white or
tan in color.
The transformation of fats into adipocere occurs best in the absence
of oxygen in a hot and humid environment, such as in wet ground or
mud at the bottom of a lake or a sealed casket, and it can occur with
both embalmed and untreated bodies. Adipocere formation begins
within a month of death, and in the absence of air it can persist for
centuries.

Adipocerous formation preserved the left hemisphere of

the brain of a 13th-century infant such that sulci, gyri, and even Nissl
bodies in the motor cortex could be distinguished in the 20th century.
An exposed, infested body or a body in a warm environment is
unlikely to form deposits of adipocere.
Corpses of women, infants and overweight persons are particularly
prone to adipocere transformation because they contain more body
fat. In forensic science, the utility of adipocere formation to estimate
the postmortem interval is limited because the speed of the process
is

temperature-dependent.

It

is

accelerated

by

warmth,

but

temperature extremes impede it.


So what apparently happened was that the saint was placed in an
airtight body wrap or placed in a sealed coffin that allowed the
formation of adipocere which in turn allowed the body shape and
facial features to be covered by adipocere.

When the curious

unearthed the body of the saint, they saw what to them was a wellpreserved body.
To the Orthodox Church, incorruptibility continues to be an important
element for the process of glorification. An important distinction is
36

made between natural mummification and what is believed to be


supernatural incorruptibility. There are a great number of Orthodox
saints whose bodies have been found to be incorrupt and are in much
veneration among the faithful. These include:
Anthony, John, and Eustathios
Saint Alexander of Svir the incorrupt relics of the saint were

removed from the Svir Monastery by the Bolsheviks on December


20, 1918 after several unsuccessful attempts to confiscate them.
Finally, the holy relics were sent to Petrograd's Military Medical
Academy. There they remained for nearly eighty years. A second
uncovering of St Alexander's relics took place in December 1997,
before their return to the Svir Monastery.
Saint Dmitry of Rostov
Saint Job of Pochayiv
Saint John the Russian
Saint John (Maximovich) of San Francisco and Shanghai, WonderWorker - He was the Archbishop of San Francisco and Western

America in San Francisco. His incorrupt relics are in the Russian


Orthodox Church Outside Russia Cathedral of the Mother of God
(Theotokos) "Joy of All Who Sorrow" since his death in 1966 and
was placed in a special crypt in the cathedral. He was canonized in
1994. While he was a ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside
Russia) Archbishop, the Russian and Serbian churches have all
accepted him, and even today you can enter Greek and Antiochian
churches and see his icon displayed. He was and still is a very
popular American saint and theologian, much loved and venerated,
much quoted and much considered an active wonder-worker.
Saint Ioasaph of Belgorod In 1918 the Bolsheviks removed Saint

Ioasaph's relics from his shrine in the cathedral of the Holy Trinity
at Belgorod, and for some seventy years their whereabouts
remained unknown. In 1927 the cathedral itself was demolished. In
37

the late 1980s the relics were discovered in Leningrad's Museum of


Religion and Atheism, and on 16 September 1991 they were
solemnly returned to the new Cathedral of the Transfiguration of
Our Lord in Belgorod, in the presence of Patriarch Alexy II.
Saint Nectarios of Aegina
Saint Parascheva of the Balkans
Saint Seraphim of Sarov
Saint Spyridon
Dionysios of Zakynthos
Gerasimus of Kefalonia
Saint Zosima
Saint Elizabeth

NOTABLE ORTHODOX AND ROMAN SAINTS WHOS


BODY REMAINEDS INCORRUPTIBLE

Saint Agatha

Saint Agnes of Montepulciano

Saint Albert the Great

Saint Alphege of Canterbury

Saint Alphonse Mary of Liguori

Saint Andrew Bobola

Saint Angela Merici

Saint Anthony Maria Zaccaria

Saint Antoninus

Saint Benedict the Moor

Saint Benezet

Saint Bernadette Soubirous

Saint Bernardine of Siena

Saint Camillus de Lellis

Saint Catherine Labour

Saint Catherine of Bologna


38

Saint Catherine of Genoa

Saint Catherine de Ricci

Saint Catherine of Siena

Saint Charbel Makhluf

Saint Charles Borromeo

Saint Cecilia

Saint Clare of Assisi

Saint Clare of Montefalco

Saint Coloman

Saint Cuthbert

Saint Diego of Alcal

Saint Dominic Savio

Saint Edmund Rich of Canterbury

Saint Edward the Confessor

Saint Etheldreda

Saint Eustochia Calafato

Saint Frances of Rome

Saint Francis de Sales

The body of Saint Clare of Assisi

39

Saint Francis Xavier

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

Saint George Preca

Saint Germaine Cousin

Saint Guthlac

Saint Annibale Maria di Francia

Saint Herculanus of Piegaro

Saint Hugh of Lincoln

Saint Idesbald

Blessed Imelda Lambertini

Saint Isidore the Farmer

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

Saint John-Mary-Baptist Vianney

Saint Jeanne de Lestonnac

Saint Joaquina de Vedruna

Saint John Bosco


40

The body of Saint John Mary Vianney

Saint John Neumann

Saint John of God

Saint John of the Cross

Saint John Southworth

Saint Josaphat

Saint Julie Billiart

Saint Louis Bertrand

Saint Louise de Marillac

Saint Luigi Orione

Saint Lucy Filippini

Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat

Blessed Mafalda of Portugal

Saint Margaret of Cortona

Venerable Mary of Jesus of greda

Venerable Mara de Len Bello y Delgado

Saint Maria Goretti

Saint Martin de Porres

Saint Mary Magdalene of Pazzi

Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart[7]

Saint Narcisa de Jess

Saint Nicholas of Tolentino

Saint Pacifico of San Severino

Saint Paula Frassinetti

Saint Pascal Baylon

Saint Peregrine Laziosi

Saint Philip Neri

Saint Pierre Julien Eymard

41

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

Saint Rafael Guzar Valencia

Saint Rita of Cascia

Saint Romuald

Saint Rose of Lima

Saint Rose of Viterbo

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

Saint Silvan

Saint Sperandia

Saint Stanislaus Kostka

Saint Teresa of vila

Saint Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart (Anna Maria Redi)

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

Saint Ubald of Gubbio

Saint Veronica Giuliani

Saint Vincent de Paul

Saint Vincent Pallotti

The body of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

42

Saint Virginia Centurione

Saint Waltheof

Saint Werburgh

Saint Withburga

Saint Wunibald

Saint Zita

The body of Saint Virginia Centurione

Remember what Saint Paul said in his book to the Hebrews. Now

faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not
see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we
understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that
what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
So I give you a deep theological concept:

If God wanted a Saints

body to be Incorruptible, He would make the Saint Incorruptible. All


we need is Faith in Gods Divine Plan.

43

ANTIMENSION - The antimension, (from the Greek: "instead of the


table;" in Slavonic: antimins), is among the most important furnishings
of the altar in Orthodox Christian liturgical traditions. It is a
rectangular piece of cloth, of either linen or silk, typically decorated
with

representations

of

the

entombment

of

Christ,

the

four

Evangelists, and scriptural passages related to the Eucharist. A small


relic of a martyr is sewn into it. The Eucharist cannot be celebrated
without an antimension. The antimension is placed in the center of
the altar table and is unfolded only during the Divine Liturgy, before
the Anaphora. At the end of the Liturgy, the antimension is folded in
thirds, and then in thirds again, so that when it is unfolded the
creases form a cross. When folded, the antimension sits in the center
of another slightly larger cloth, the eileton (Slavonic: Ilitn) which is
then folded around it in the same manner (3 x 3), encasing it
completely. A flattened natural sponge is also kept inside the
antimension, which is used to collect any crumbs which might fall
onto the Holy Table. When the antimension and eiliton are folded, the
Gospel Book is laid on top of them.

The antimension must be

consecrated and signed by a bishop. The antimension and the chrism


are the means by which a bishop indicates his permission for priests
under his omophorion to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and Holy
Mysteries in his absence, being in effect the churchs license to
conduct divine services. If a bishop were to withdraw his permission
to serve the Mysteries, he would do so by taking back the
antimension and chrism from the priest. Whenever a bishop visits a
church or monastery under his omophorion, he will enter the altar and
inspect the antimension to be sure that it has been properly cared for,
and that it is in fact the one that he issued. Only a bishop, priest, or
44

deacon is allowed to touch an antimension. Since the antimension is


a consecrated object, they must be vested when they do sothe
deacon should be fully vested, and the priest vested in at least stole
(epitrachelion) and cuffs (epimanikia). The antimension is a substitute
for the altar table. A priest may celebrate the Eucharist on the
antimension even if the altar table is not properly consecrated. In
emergencies, when an altar table is not available, the antimension
serves a very important pastoral need by enabling the use of
unconsecrated tables for divine services outside of churches or
chapels. Formerly if the priest celebrated at a consecrated altar, the
sacred elements were placed only on the eileton. However, in current
practice

the

priest

always

uses

the

antimension,

even

on

consecrated altar that has relics sealed in it. At the Divine Liturgy,
during the Litanies (Ektenias) that precede the Great Entrance the
eiliton is opened fully and the antimension is opened three-quarters of
the way, leaving the top portion folded. Then, during the Litany of the
Catechumens, when the deacon says, "That He (God) may reveal unto
them (the catechumens) the Gospel of righteousness," the priest
unfolds the last portion of the antimension, revealing the mystery of
Christ's death and resurrection. After the Entrance, the chalice and
diskos are placed on the antimension and the Gifts (bread and wine)
are consecrated. The antimension remains unfolded until after all
have received Holy Communion and the chalice and diskos are
returned to the Table of oblation (Prothesis). The deacon (or, if there
is no deacon, the priest) must very carefully inspect the antimension
to be sure there are no crumbs left on it. Then, it is folded, followed
by folding the eiliton, and after which the Gospel Book placed on top
of it.
APOSTLES - Disciples of Christ, accompanying Him in His public
service, and later spreading faith throughout the world.
45

ARCH - extreme; most fully embodying the qualities of the kind (e.g.
archconservative).
ARCHHERISIARCH - one who originates or is the chief proponent of a
heresy or heretical movement.
ARCHIMANDRITE - the title Archimandrite, primarily used in the
Eastern Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic churches, originally
referred to a superior abbot whom a bishop appointed to supervise
several ordinary abbots (each styled hegumenos) and monasteries,
or to the abbot of some especially great and important monastery.
The title is also used as one purely of honor, with no connection to
any actual monastery, and is bestowed on clergy as a mark of respect
or gratitude for service to the Church. This particular sign of respect
is only given to those priests who have taken vows of celibacy, that is
monks;

distinguished

married

clergy

may

receive

the

title

of

archpriest.
ARCHDEACON - an archdeacon is a senior clergy position in
Anglicanism, Chaldean Catholic, Syrian Malabar Nasrani, and some
other Christian denominations, above that of most clergy and below a
bishop. In the High Middle Ages it was the most senior diocesan
position below a bishop. An archdeacon is often responsible for
administration

within

an

subdivision of the diocese.

archdeaconry,

which

is

the

principal

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian

Church has defined an archdeacon as, A cleric having a defined


administrative authority delegated to him by the bishop in the whole
or part of the diocese.

The office has often been described

metaphorically as that of oculus episcopi, the bishops eye.

46

ARIANISM - Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius


(250-336), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the
relationship of God the Father to the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Arius
asserted that the Son of God was a subordinate entity to God the
Father. Deemed a heretic by the Ecumenical First Council of Nicaea
of 325, Arius was later exonerated in 335 at the regional First Synod
of Tyre, and then, after his death, pronounced a heretic again at the
Ecumenical First Council of Constantinople of 381.

The Roman

Emperors Constantius II (337-361) and Valens (364-378) were Arians


or Semi-Arians.
ASCETICISM - from the Greek: exercise or training. Describes a
lifestyle characterized by abstinence from worldly pleasures, often
with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals.
AUTOCEPHALY Autocephaly ((/tsfli/; from Greek: ,
meaning self-headed)) is the status of a hierarchical Christian church
whose head bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop (used
especially in Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches).
When an ecumenical council or a high-ranking bishop, such as a
patriarch or other primate, releases an ecclesiastical province from
the authority of that bishop while the newly independent church
remains in full communion with the hierarchy to which it then ceases
to belong, the council or primate is granting autocephaly.

For

example, the Cypriot Orthodox Church was granted autocephaly by


the Canon VIII Council of Ephesus and is ruled by the Archbishop of
Cyprus, who is not subject to any higher ecclesiastical authority,
although his church remains in full communion with the other Eastern
Orthodox churches. The question of who can grant autocephaly is a
controversial issue; notably, the Orthodox Church in America was
granted autocephaly by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1970, but
47

was not recognized by most patriarchates. The Russian Church


claims that its own autocephaly allows it the right to grant
autocephaly to its constituent parts, whereas Constantinople claims
that, "in its capacity as the 'mother church' and 'first among equals'",
the right to grant autocephaly belongs solely to an ecumenical
council. One step short of autocephaly is "autonomy". A church that
is autonomous has its highest-ranking bishop, such as an archbishop
or metropolitan, appointed by the patriarch of the mother church, but
is self-governing in all other respects. Kephale () means
"head" in Greek, whereas nomos () means "law"; hence,

autocephalous () denotes self-headed, or a head unto


itself, and autonomous denotes "self-legislated", or a law unto itself.
CATHOLICOS - plural Catholicoi, is a title used for the head of certain
churches in some Eastern Christian traditions, primarily in

the

Autocephaly Georgian Orthodox Church. The title implies autocephaly


and in some cases is borne by the designated head of an autonomous
church, in which case the holder might have other titles such as
Patriarch. In other cases a catholicos heads a particular church and
is subject to a patriarch or other church head.
CENOBITIC (COENOBITIC) - the monastic tradition that emphases
regulated community life, that is, in which the monks live together
under a set of rules established by the ruling abbot. It is the opposite
of eremitic.
CLEROS - choir.

Picture in your mind a floor plan of an Orthodox

Church. It is laid out in the form of a cross. The door is on the south
side and the round nave at the top is where the Altar is located. The
right arm is again rounded, and that is where the clergy often sit. The
left arm of the cross is also rounded and that is where the choir sits.
48

CONFESSORS - To the Russian Orthodox, this is a saint who did


indeed suffer and/or was tortured for their faith, but not a martyrs
death. One other definition would be one who confessed the faith at
all times in their life and ministry, and may have only suffered due to
the ascetic life. Theres also the other definition of one who does not
fill any other category, such as an apostle or martyr.
CHRISMATION - At ones baptism, the rite of Chrismation follows
directly after the baptism. Chrism, the Holy Oil, is placed upon the
newly baptized believer as it indicates the sealing of that individual
by the Holy Spirit to God and Christ. Some converts may only be
Chrismated and not baptized, depending on which Orthodox authority
one may be under. (The reason is the one baptism statement of the
creed.)
DORMITION - The Dormition of the Mother of God (Greek:
, Komsis Theotokos often anglicized as Kimisis, Slavic:
, Uspenie Presvetia Bogoroditsi) is a
Great Feast of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern
Catholic Churches which commemorates the "falling asleep" or death
of Mary, the mother of Jesus (literally translated as God-bearer), and
her bodily resurrection before being taken up into heaven. It is
celebrated on August 15 (August 28, N.S. for those following the
Julian Calendar) as the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God.
The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Dormition not on a
fixed date, but on the Sunday nearest August 15.
EPISCOPAL - a bishop, an overseer in the Christian Church.

49

EQUAL-TO-THE-APOSTLES - are saints who, like the Apostles, labored


to turn countries and peoples to Christ. Equal-to-the-Apostles are also
called more frequently an Isa-apostle. St. Helen, the mother of Saint
Constantine the Great is an example of one.
EPITRACHELION - The Epitrachil (or, "Epitrachelion") (from the Greek
"around the neck"; often called simply a stole in casual
English-language usage) is the liturgical vestment worn by priests and
bishops of the Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches as the
symbol of their priesthood, corresponding to the Western stole.
EREMITIC - a recluse, especially a religious recluse. Monks living in
isolation as hermits.
EUCHARIST - also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the
Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lords Supper, and other names, is
a Christian sacrament or ordinance.
FOOLS-FOR-CHRIST - taking on the appearance of madness and
suffering defamation from those around them, exposed human vices,
brought those in power to their senses, comforted the suffering.
GREAT SCHEMA - Monks whose abbots feel they have reached a high
level of spiritual excellence reach the final stage, call the Great
Schema.

The tonsure of a Schemamonk or Schemanun follows the

same format as the Stavrophore, and he makes the same vows and is
tonsured in the same manner.

But in addition to all the garments

worn by the Stavrophore, he is given the analavos which is the article


of monastic vesture emblematic of the Great Schema.

For this

reason, the analavos itself is sometimes itself called the Great


Schema. It drapes over the shoulders and hangs down in front and in
50

back, with the front portion somewhat longer, and is embroidered


with the instruments of the Passion and the Trisagion.

The Greek

form does not have a hood, the Slavic form has a hood and lappels on
the shoulders, so that the garment forms a large cross covering the
monks shoulders, chest, and back.

Another piece added is the

Polystavrion (Many Crosses), which consists of a cord with a


number of small crosses plaited into it. The polystavrion forms a yoke
around the monk and serves to hold the analavos in place, and
reminds the monastic that he is bound to Christ and that his arms are
no longer fit for worldly activities, but that he must labor only for the
Kingdom of Heaven. Among the Greeks, the mantle is added at this
stage. The paramandyas of the Megaloschemos is larger than that of
the Stavrophore, and if he wears the klobuk, it is of a distinctive
thimble shape, called a koukoulion, the veil of which is usually
embroidered with crosses. The Schemamonk also shall remain some
days in vigil in the church. On the eighth day after Tonsure, there is a
special service for the Removal of the Koukoulion. In some
monastic traditions the Great Schema is never given or is only given
to monks and nuns on their death bed, while in other, e.g., the
cenobitic monasteries on Mount Athos, it is common to tonsure a
monastic into the Great Schema only 3 years after commencing the
monastic life. In Russian and some other traditions, when a bearer of
some monastic title acquires the Great Schema, his title incorporates
the word schema.
called

For example, a hieromonk of Great Schema is

hieroschemamonk,

archimandrite

becomes

archimandrite, hegumen - schema-hegumen, etc.

schema-

In the Russian

Orthodox Tradition, in such cases the part schema is commonly


truncated to sche.

51

HAGIOGRAPHY - refers to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical


leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current
in English, although less common.
HIERARCHAL SAINTS - patriarchs, metropolitans, archbishops and
bishops, attaining sainthood by tireless care of their flock, guarding
Orthodoxy from heresy and schisms.
HEIRODEACON - sometimes translated deacon-monk, in Eastern
Othodox Christianity is a monk who has been ordained a deacon. The
term literally translates as sacred servant (of God), in accordance
with early Byzantine usage of the adjective sacred to describe
things monastic.

Normally, to be eligible for ordination to the

diaconate, a man must be either married or he must be tonsured a


monk. If he has his bishops permission, he may delay his marriage
until after being ordained a deacon. He may also delay his ordination
to the priesthood until after he marries, since after priestly ordination
he would not be permitted to marry.

In the Church heirachy, a

hierodeacon or a secular (i.e. non-monastic) deacon is of lower rank


than a hieromonk (a priest-monk) or a secular priest. Within their own
ranks, hierodeacons are assigned order of precedence according to
the date of their ordination.
Archdeacon or Protodeacon.

Ranking above Hierodeacon is an


In some countries, married clergy are

referred to as white clergy while monastic clergy are called black


clergy because monks should always wear black clothing but
married clergy in many parts of the world typically wear white (or
gray or colored) cassocks and rasons.
HEIROMARTYR - a martyr (one who dies for his beliefs in God) who
was a bishop or priest. Analogously, a monk who is a priest is known
as a heiromonk.
52

HEIROMONK

- also called a Priestmonk, is a monk who is also a

priest in the Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholicism. A hieromonk


can be either a monk who has been ordained to the priesthood or a
priest who has received monastic tonsure. When a married priest's
wife dies, it is not uncommon for him to become a monk, since the
Church forbids clergy to enter into a second marriage after ordination.
Ordination to the priesthood is the exception rather than the rule for
monastics, as a monastery will usually only have as many hieromonks
and hierodeacons as it needs to perform the daily services.

In the

church hierarchy, a hieromonk is of higher dignity than a hierodeacon,


just as a secular (i.e., married) priest is of higher dignity than a
deacon. Within their own ranks, hieromonks are assigned order of
precedence according to the date of their ordination. Ranking above
Hieromonk is a Hegumen and an Archimandrite.
HEXAEMERON - refers either to the genre of theological treatise that
describes God's work on the six days of creation or to the six days of
creation themselves. Most often these theological works take the
form of commentaries on Genesis. As a genre, hexameral literature
was popular in the early church and medieval periods.
HOLY MYSTERIES - the holy mysteries or sacraments in the Orthodox
Church are vessels of the mystical participation in divine grace of
mankind.

In a general sense, the Orthodox Church considers

everything which is in and of the Church as sacramental or mystical.


Generally, the Church recognized and counts eight (though sometimes
more) mysteries: Baptism, Chrismation, Eucharist, Confession, Holy
Unction, Marriage, Ordination and Martyrdom.

53

HOLY UNCTION - provides both physical and spiritual healing with


holy oil blessed by the Holy Spirit. It is most commonly celebrated
during Holy Week on Holy Wednesday evening, but private services
are also common.

Everyone in the parish in good ecclesiastical

standing may be anointed with the holy oil for the healing of spiritual
and bodily ills.

As this is one of the sacraments of the Orthodox

Church it may be administered only to Orthodox Christians. The oil


carries Gods grace both to renew the body and to cleanse the spirit.
The service follows the apostolic tradition mentioned in the New
Testament: ...let him call for the elders of the church, and let them
pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the
prayer of faith will save the sick man and the Lord will raise him up;
and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven (James 5:14-15).
Holy Unction is a mystery of great comfort to the faithful. It provides
uplifting and asks for patience to accept the will of God whatever the
physical outcome.
ICONOSTASIS

In

Eastern

Christianity

an

iconostasis

(plural:

iconostases) is a wall of icons and religious paintings, separating the


nave from the sanctuary in a church. Iconostasis also refers to a
portable icon stand that can be placed anywhere within a church. The
iconostasis evolved from the Byzantine templon, a process complete
by the fifteenth century. A direct comparison for the function of the
main iconostasis can be made to the layout of the great Temple in
Jerusalem. That Temple was designed with three parts. The holiest
and inner-most portion was that where the Ark of the Covenant was
kept. This portion, the Holy of Holies, was separated from the second
larger part of the building's interior by a curtain, the "veil of the
temple". Only priests were allowed to enter the Holy of Holies. The
third part was the entrance court. This architectural tradition for the
two main parts can be seen carried forward in Christian churches and
54

is still most demonstratively present in Eastern Orthodox churches


where the iconostatsis divides the altar, the Holy of Holies containing
the concecrated Eucharist the manifestation of the New Covenant,
from the larger portion of the church accessible to the faithful. In the
Eastern Orthodox tradition only men can enter the altar portion
behind the iconostasis. The word comes from the Greek () (eikonostsi(-on), still in common use in Greece and Cyprus),
which means "icon stand".
IGUMEN - the title for the head of a monastery, similar to abbot. The
head of a convent of nuns is called igumenia or ihumenia. The term
means The one who is in charge, or the leader in Greek.
igumen is not necessarily a member of the clergy.

An

In the Slavic

tradition, the title of Igumen also serves as a title for a priest-monk in


between Heiromonk and Archimandrite. The Greeks use the term
Hegumenos. It also may be spelled Hegumeos, Igumen for the
Russians, Serbs and Bulgarians, and Ihumen in the Ukraine.
KAZZANOE - an area where business is conducted. Today it means a
way of locating someone on the web.
KOLYVIA - Koliva is boiled wheat which is used liturgically in the
Eastern Catholic Churches and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. This
ritual food most likely was used even before Christianity since the
ingredients used have symbolic value relating to the Greek pantheon,
though not to Christian iconography. In the Eastern Churches, koliva
is blessed during the memorial Divine Liturgy performed at various
intervals after a death; at funerals and during the mnemosyna, i.e. the
Orthodox Memorial services. It may also be used on the first Friday of
the Great Lent, at slavas, or at mnemosyna in the Christmas meal. In

55

some countries, though not in Greece, it is consumed on non-religious


occasions as well.
LAVRA - In Orthodox Christianity and certain other Eastern Christian
communities, Lavra or Laura is the type of monastery consisting of a
cluster of cells or caves for hermits, with a church and sometimes a
refectory at the center; the term in Greek initially meant a narrow
lane or an alley in a city.
MARTYRS - those, who among saints constitute the majority, went
through suffering and death in Christs name, for the true faith or for
refusing to serve idols.
METROPOLITAN - in Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank
of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the
diocesan

bishop

or

archbishop

(then

more

precisely

called

metropolitan archbishop) of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a


historical

Roman

province,

ecclesiastical

province,

or

regional

capital.
MOLIEBEN - (also called a moeben, service of intercession, or service
of supplication) is a supplication prayer service in honor of either our
Lord Jesus Christ, the Mother of God, or a particular saint or martyr.
It is a Slavic service, but closely related to the Paraklesis service. A
molieben in usually served by an ordained priest, but a layman can
also do a molieben, although in a modified form.
MONASTIC HABIT - the same throughout the Eastern Church (with
certain slight regional variations), and it is the same for both monks
and nuns. Each successive grade is given a portion of the habit, the
full habit being worn only by those in the highest grade, known for
56

that reason as the Great Schema, or Great Habit. One is free to


enter any monastery of ones choice; but after being accepted by the
abbot (or abbess) and making vows, one may not move from place to
place without the blessing of ones ecclesiastical superior.

One

becomes a monk or nun by being tonsured, a rite which only a priest


can perform. This is typically done by the abbot. The priest tonsuring
a monk or nun must himself be tonsured into the same or greater
degree of monasticism that he is tonsuring into. In other words, only
a hieromonk who has been tonsured into the Great Schema may
himself tonsure a Schemamonk. A bishop, however, may tonsure into
any rank, regardless of his own; also, on rare occasion, a bishop will
allow a priest to tonsure a monk or nun into any rank.
NOVICE - literally one under obedience - Those wishing to join a
monastery begin their lives as novices.

After coming to the

monastery and living as a guest for not less than three days, the
abbot or abbess may bless the candidate to become a novice. There
is no formal ceremony for the clothing of a novice, he or she simply
receives permission to wear the clothing of a novice. In the Eastern
monastic tradition, novices may or may not dress in the black inner
cassock and wear the soft monastic hat (Skufia), depending on the
tradition of the local community, and in accordance to the abbots
directives. In some communities, the novice also wears the leather
belt. Monks are given a prayer rope and instructed in the use of the
Jesus Prayer. If a novice chooses to leave during the period of the
novitiate, no penalty is incurred. He may also be asked to leave at
any time if his behavior does not conform to the monastic life, or if
the superior discerns that he is not called to monasticism. When the
abbot or abbess deems the novice ready, he is asked if he wishes to
join the monastery.

Some, out of humility, will choose to remain

57

novices all their lives.

Every stage of the monastic life must be

entered into voluntarily.


OBLAST - a type of administrative division in Slavic countries,
including some countries of the former Soviet Union.

The word

oblast is a loanword in English, but it is nevertheless often


translated as Area, zone, province, or region.
OMOPHORION - the distinctive vestment of bishops of the Eastern
Church corresponding to the pallium of the Western Church but made
in two forms and worn in one form or the other by all bishops during
the celebration of liturgical offices. Originally of wool, it is a band of
brocade decorated with four crosses and an eight-pointed star and is
worn about the neck and shoulders.
PASCHA - also called Easter, is the feast of the Resurrection of the
Lord. Pascha is a transliteration of the Greek word, which is itself a
transliteration of the Hebrew pesach, both words meaning Passover.
(A majority of English-speaking Orthodox prefer the word 'Pascha over
Easter') Pascha normally falls either one or five weeks later than the
feast as observed by Christians who follow the Gregorian calendar.
However,

occasionally

the

two

observances

coincide,

and

on

occasion they can be four weeks apart. The reason for the difference
is that, though the two calendars use the same underlying formula to
determine the festival, they compute from different starting points.
The older Julian calendar's solar calendar is 13 days behind the
Gregorian's and its lunar calendar is four to five days behind the
Gregorian's. See the Pascha dates listed elsewhere in this book.
PASSION-BEARERS - those who died at the hands of murderers and
bandits, a term used throughout the Orthodox Church
58

PATERIKON - Patericon or paterikon (Greek: ), a short form


for ("father's book", usually Lives of the Fathers in
English), is a genre of Byzantine literature of religious character,
which were collections of sayings of saints, martyrs and hierarchs,
and tales about them.
PHELONION - is a liturgical vestment worn by a priest of the Eastern
Christian tradition. It is worn over the priests other vestments and is
equivalent to the chasuble of Western Christianity.
PRESBYTER - elder or priest in Christian usage.

In the New

Testament refers to a leader in local Christian congregations.


PROPHETS - persons who receive the gift of foresight from God,
relating to the world of His Providence.
PROTOMARTYR - is the first Christian martyr in a country or among a
particular group, such as a religious order. Similarly, the phrase the
Protomartyr (with no other qualification of country or region) can
mean Saint Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian church or Saint
Thecia, the first female martyr of the Christian church.
RASSOPHORE - literally robe-bearer.

If the novice continues on to

become a monk, he is clothed in the first degree of monasticism at a


service at which he receives the tonsure.

Although there are no

formal vows at this point, the candidate is normally required to affirm


his commitment to persevere in the monastic life. The abbot will then
perform the tonsure, cutting a small amount of hair from four spots on
the head, forming a cross. He is then given the outer cassock (Greek:
Rasson, Exorasson, or Mandorrason; Church Slavonic: Riassa), an
59

outer robe with wide sleeves, from which the name of Rassophore is
derived.

He is also given a kamilavkion, a cylindrical brimless hat,

which is covered with a veil called an epanokamelavkion. (These are


separate items in the Greek tradition; in the Russian tradition the two
are stitched together and collectively called a klobuk.) If he has not
previously received it, a leather belt is fastened around his waist. His
habit is usually black, signifying that he is now dead to the world, and
he receives a new name.

Although the Rassophore does not make

formal vows, he is still morally obligated to continue in the monastic


estate for the rest of his life.

Some will remain Rassophores

permanently without going on to the high degrees.


RUSYN - Rusyns, also known as Carpatho-Rusyns or Ruthenes also
sometimes referred to as Carpatho-Russians or Rusnaks, are a
primarily diasporic ethnic group who speak an Eastern Slavic
language, known as Rusyn. Carpatho-Rusyns descend from a minority
of Ruthenians who did not adopt the use of the ethnonym "Ukrainian"
in the early twentieth century. The use of the term Rusyn was
prohibited by some governments, as seen after 1945 in Soviet
Transcarpathia, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. Today, Slovakia, Poland,
Hungary, the Czech Republic, Serbia and Croatia officially recognize
contemporary Rusyns (or Ruthenes) as an ethnic minority. In 2007,
Carpatho-Rusyns were recognized as a separate ethnicity in Ukraine
by the Zakarpattia Regional Council, and in 2012 the Rusyn language
gained official regional status in certain areas of the province. Most
contemporary self-identified ethnic Rusyns live outside of Ukraine.
10.2 million people are of Rusyn origin.
SKETE - is a monastic community in Eastern Christianity that allows
relative isolation for monks, but also allows for communal services
and the safety of shared resources and protection. It is one of three
60

early monastic orders along with eremitic and coenobitic that became
popular during the early formation of the Christian Church.

Skete

communities usually consist of a number of small cells or caves that


act as the living quarters with a centralized church or chapel. These
communities are thought of as a bridge between strict hermetic
lifestyles and communal lifestyles since it was a blend of the two.
These communities were a direct response to the ascetic lifestyle
that early Christians aspired to live.
SOTERIOLOGY - is the study of religious doctrines of salvation.
Salvation theory occupies a place of special significance and
importance in many religions.

In the academic field of religious

studies, soteriology is understood by scholars as representing a key


theme in a number of different religions and is often studied in a
comparative context; that is, comparing various ideas about what
salvation is and how it is obtained.
STAVROPHORE - literally Cross-bearer is the next level for Eastern
monastics and takes place some years after the first tonsure when
the abbot feels the monk has reached an appropriate level of
discipline, dedication, and humility. This degree is also known as the
Little Schema, and is thought of as a betrothal to the Great Schema.
At this stage, the monk makes formal vows of stability of place,
chastity, obedience and poverty. Then he is tonsured and clothed in
the habit, which in addition to that worn by the Rassophore, includes
the paramandyas, a piece of square cloth worn on the back,
embroidered with the instruments of the Passion, and connected by
ties to a wooden cross worn over the heart.

The paramandyas

represents the yoke of Christ. Because of this addition he is now call


Stavrophore, or Cross-bearer. He is also given a wooden hand cross
(or profession cross) which he should keep in his icon corner, and a
61

beeswax candle, symbolic of monastic vigilance the sacrificing of


himself for God. He will be buried holding the cross, and the candle
will be burned at his funeral. In the Slavic practice, the Stavrophore
also wears the monastic mantle, which symbolizes 40 days of the
Lords fasting on the Mountain of Temptation. The rasson worn by the
Stavrophore is more ample than that worn by the Rassophore. After
the ceremony, the newly-tonsured Stavophore will remain in vigil in
the church for five days, refraining from all work, except spiritual
reading. The abbot increases the Stavrophore monks prayer rule,
allows a more strict personal ascetic practice, and give the monk
more responsibility.
STIKHERAS - another general title referring to a composed hymn
written in verses. Such hymns occur throughout Orthodox worship,
e.g.: they are inserted at the places appointed by the Typikon during
the chanting of "Lord, I call" (Psalms 141, 142, 130 and 117) at
Vespers. They are usually associated with Psalmody. The word in the
Greek and Russian prayer books is spelled Sticheras. When written
in Greek letters, the K is actually a C.
STYLITE - one who lives on a pillar or large rock.
SYNAXARIAN - is a term relating to compilations, lectionaries, and
indexes that have had differing definitions over the centuries. Today,
in the Orthodox Church, the Synaxarion is an abridged collection of
the Lives of the Saints, intended for reading in public worship and to
nourish the personal prayer life of the faithful.
THEOTOKOS - is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used
especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern
Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include "God62

bearer", "Birth-Giver of God" and "the one who gives birth to God."
Less literal translations include "Mother of God. The ancient use of
this term is emphasized in Churches of the Syriac Tradition who have
been using this title in their ancient liturgies for centuries. The
Anaphora of Mari and Addai (3rd Century) and the Liturgy of St. James
the Just (60). Roman Catholics and Anglicans use the title "Mother of
God" more often than "Theotokos." The Council of Ephesus decreed in
431 that Mary is Theotokos because her son Jesus is both God and
man: one Divine Person with two natures (Divine and human).
TONSURE - Tonsure refers to the practice of cutting or shaving some
or all of the hair on the scalp, as a sign of religious devotion or
humility. The term originates from the Latin word tonsra (to clip, or
cut) and referred to a specific practice in Monistic vows. Current
usage more generally refers to cutting or shaving for monks,
devotees, or mystics of any religion as a symbol of their renunciation
of worldly fashion and esteem. Tonsure also refers to the secular
practice of shaving all or part of the scalp to show support or
sympathy, or to designate mourning..
TRAPEZA - In a monastery a trapeza is the dining hall where monks
and pilgrims gather for food and conversation (although monks dont
usually talk during meals).
TROPARIA - A troparion in Byzantine music and in the religious music
of Eastern Orthodox Christianity is a short hymn of one stanza, or one
of a series of stanzas. The word probably derives from a diminutive of
the Greek tropos (something repeated, manner, fashion). The
early troparion was also called sticheron (probably from stichos,
verse); but currently the two terms are treated separately, with
different melodies used for each.
63

TYPIKON - The Typicon (or Typikon); plural Typica is a liturgical book


which contains instructions about the order of the Eastern Orthodox
office and variable hymns of the Divine Liturgy.
UNMERCENARIES - had the gift of healing and used it without
compensation.
VENERABLE - coming to resemble the Lord - saints attaining glory in
monastic toil.
VERST - A verst (Russian: , versta) is an obsolete Russian unit
of length. It is defined as being 500 sazhen long, which makes a verst
equal to 1.0668 kilometers, 0.6629 miles or 3,500 feet).

INSIDE AN ORTHORDOX CHURCH

64

AEGINA - is one of the Saronic Islands of Greece in the Saronic Gulf,


17 miles (27 km) from Athens.
AKHALTSIKHE - is a small city in Georgia's southwestern region
(mkhare) of Samtskhe-Javakheti. It is situated on the both banks of a
small river Potskhovi, which separates the city to the old city in the
north and new in the south. The name of the city translates from
Georgian as "new fortress."

ALEXANDRIA - is the second largest city and the second largest


metropolitan area in Egypt after Greater Cairo extending about 32 km
(20 mi) along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central
part of the country.
ANATOLIA - also known as Asia Minor.
ANCYRN - modern day Ankara, Turkey in the province of Galatia.
ANTIOCH - an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River in
Turkey. Its ruins lie near Ankara, Turkey.
APAMEA - on the right bank of the Orontes River in Syria, was a
treasure city and stud depot of the Seleucid kings, and was the
capital of Apamene.
ASIA MINOR - a peninsula also called Anatolia, comprises most of the
Asian part of Turkey. Most people there speak Turkish. The seas
65

surrounding Asia Minor are the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the
Mediterranean Sea.
ATHENS - is the capital and largest city of Greece.
ATHOS - see Mount Athos.
BITHYNIA - was an ancient region kingdom and Roman province in the
northwest of Asia Minor, adjoining the Propontis the Thracian
Bosporus and the Euxine (today Black Sea). It also includes the city
of Constantinople.
BREST - is a city in Belarus at the border with Poland opposite the
city of Terespol, where the Bug River and Mukhavets rivers meet. It is
the capital city of the Brest oblast.
CAESAREA - is a town in Israel located mid-way between Tel Aviv and
Haifa (45 km), on the Israeli coastal plain near the city of Hadera.
GANGRA - or ankr is the capital city of ankr Province, in Turkey,
about 140 km (87 mi) northeast of Ankara.
CAPPADOCIA - is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely in
Nevehir Province, in Turkey.
CARTHAGE - is a suburb of Tunis, Tunisia and was the center of the
Carthaginian Empire in antiquity.
CETINJE - is a city and old royal capital of Montenegro.
CHERNIGOV - a historic city in northern Ukraine.
66

CHIOS - is the fifth largest of the Greek islands, situated in the


Aegean Sea, 7 kilometers (4.3 mi) off the Anatolian coast.
CILICIA - was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the
central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite
times into the Byzantine Empire. Cilicia extends inland from the
southeastern coast of modern Turkey, due north and northeast of the
island of Cyprus.
CRETE - is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the
fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the thirteen
administrative regions of Greece. Located in Southern Greece.
CYPRUS - is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. One
half is ruled by Turkey.
CYRRHUS - a city in ancient Syria.
CYZICUS - was an ancient town of Mysia in Anatolia in the current
Balkesir Province of Turkey. It was located on the shoreward side of
the present Kapda Peninsula (the classical Arctonnesus), a tombolo
which is said to have originally been an island in the Sea of Marmara
only to be connected to the mainland in historic times either by
artificial means or an earthquake. Also known as Kyzikos.
DAMASCUS - is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after
Aleppo. Located in southwestern Syria. It is the longest continued
(oldest) settled city in the world, starting in the 15th century BC.

67

DAVIT-GAREJI WILDERNESS - located in the Kakheti region of Eastern


Georgia.
DECAPOLIS - The Decapolis ("Ten Cities"; Greek: deka, ten; polis, city)
was a group of ten cities on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire
in Jordan and Syria.
DREPANUM (HELENOPOLIS) - was an ancient Roman and Byzantine
town in Bithynia, Asia Minor, on the southern side of the Gulf of
Astacus. It has been identified with the modern village of Hersek, in
the district of Altnova, Yalova Province. It is traditionally considered
as the birthplace of Saint Helen, the mother of the Emperor Saint
Constantine the Great.
EDESSA - is the historical name of an ancient town in upper
Mesopotamia (modern-day Turkey), re-founded on an ancient site by
Seleucus I Nicator.
EPHESUS - Ephesus was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia,
three kilometers southwest of present-day Seluk in zmir Province,
Turkey.
EPIRUS - is a geographical and historical region in southeastern
Europe, shared between Greece and Albania. It lies between the
Pindus Mountains and the Ionian Sea, stretching from the Bay of Vlor
in the north to the Ambracian Gulf in the south. It is currently divided
between the region of Epirus in northwestern Greece and the counties
of Gjirokastr, Vlor, and Berat in southern Albania.
FILIATRA - Filiatra is situated near the Ionian Sea coast in western
Messenia.
68

GALICH - is a town in Kostroma Oblast, Russia.


GAREJI - is a rock-hewn Georgian Orthodox monastery complex
located in the Kakheti region of Eastern Georgia, on the half-desert
slopes of Mount Gareja, some 6070 km southeast of Georgia's capital
Tbilisi. The complex includes hundreds of cells, churches, chapels,
refectories and living quarters hollowed out of the rock face.
GAUL - was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and
Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and
Belgium, most of Switzerland, Northern Italy, as well as the parts of
the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the Rhine.
HELLESPONT - The Dardanelles, formerly known as Hellespont, is a
narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to
the Sea of Marmara. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with its
counterpart, the Bosphorus.
HERACLEA - an ancient Greek city in Thracian Macedonia, to the
south of the Struma River.
HERMOPOLIS - is the site of ancient Khmun, and is located near the
modern Egyptian town of El Ashmunein in Al Minya governorate.
HIMYARITIA - a kingdom in southern Yemen.
IBERIA - is a peninsula located in the extreme south-west of Europe
and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal,
Andorra, and part of France, as well as the British Overseas Territory
of Gibraltar.
69

ICONIUM - or Konya is a city in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey.


IMERETI - is a region in Georgia situated along the middle and upper
reaches of the Rioni River.
IOANNINA - often called Jannena within Greece, is the capital and
largest city of Epirus, an administrative region in north-western
Greece.
ISAURIA - Isauria in ancient geography is a rugged isolated district in
the interior of South Asia Minor, of very different extent at different
periods, but generally covering what is now the district of Bozkir and
its surroundings in the Konya province of Turkey, or the core of the
Taurus Mountains.
KAKHETI - a region formed in the 1990's in eastern Georgia from the
historical province of Kakheti and the small, mountainous province of
Tusheti.
KARTLI - is a historical region in central-to-eastern Georgia traversed
by the river Mtkvari (Kura), on which Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, is
situated.
KARYES - is a settlement in Mount Athos. It is the seat of the clerical
and secular administration of the Athonite monastic state.
KASHIN - is a town and the administrative center of Kashinsky
District of Tver Oblast, Russia, located around a rural agricultural
area on the Kashinka River (Volga's tributary) 204 kilometers (127 mi)
from Moscow and 25 kilometers (16 mi) from Kalyazin.
70

KAZAN - Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka


Rivers in European Russia.
KIEV - is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the
north central part of the country on the Dnieper River.
KLARJETI - was a province of ancient and medieval Georgia which is
now part of the Artvin Province.
KOSTROMA - is a historic city and the administrative center of
Kostroma Oblast, Russia. A part of the Golden Ring of Russian towns,
it is located at the confluence of the Volga and Kostroma Rivers.
KRONSTADT - is a municipal town in Kronshtadtsky District of the
federal city of St. Petersburg, Russia, located on Kotlin Island, 30
kilometers (19 mi) west of St. Petersburg proper near the head of the
Gulf of Finland.
KURST - is a city and the administrative center of Kursk Oblast
Russia, located at the confluence of the Kur, Tuskar, and Seym
Rivers.
LAMPSAKOS - was an ancient Greek city strategically located on the
eastern side of the Hellespont in the northern Troad. An inhabitant of
Lampsacus

was

called

Lampsacene.

The

name

has

been

transmitted in the nearby modern town of Lapseki.


LOTHARINGIA - was a medieval successor kingdom of the Carolingian
Empire, comprising the Low Countries, the western Rhineland, the

71

lands today on the border between France and Germany, and what is
now western Switzerland.
LYCIA - was a geopolitical region in Anatolia in what are now the
provinces of Antalya and Mula on the southern coast of Turkey, and
Burdur Province inland.
MESOPOTAMIA - is a name for the area of the TigrisEuphrates river
system, corresponding to modern-day Iraq, the northeastern section
of Syria and to a much lesser extent southeastern Turkey, smaller
parts of southwestern Iran and Kuwait.
MESSINIA - the southwestern part of the Peloponnese, Greece.
MITYLENE - is a town and a former municipality on the island of
Lesbos, North Aegean, Greece.
MONZA - is a city and commune on the River Lambro, a tributary of
the Po in the Lombardy region of Italy, about 15 kilometres (9 miles)
north-northeast of Milan.
MONTENEGRO - is a country in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on
the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the
west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the
northeast, Kosovo to the east and Albania to the south-east.
MOUNT ATHOS - is a mountain and peninsula in northern Greece. It is
a World Heritage Site and autonomous polity in the Hellenic Republic.
Mount Athos is home to 20 Stavropegial (self-ruled) Eastern Orthodox
monasteries

under

the

direct

jurisdiction

72

of

the

Patriarch

of

Constantinople. Today Greeks commonly refer to Mount Athos as the


"Holy Mountain."
MUKHRANI - is a historical lowland district in eastern Georgia,
currently within the borders of Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, north of the
town of Mtskheta. It lies within the historical borders of Kartli,
bounded by the river Mtkvari (Kura), and its two affluents: Ksani and
Aragvi.
MUROM - is a historical city in Vladimir Oblast, Russia, which sprawls
along the left bank of the Oka River.
MYRA - is an ancient town in Lycia, where the small town of Kale
(Demre) is situated today in present day Antalya Province of Turkey. It
was located on the river Myros (Demre ay), in the fertile alluvial
plain between Alaca Da, the Massikytos range and the Aegean Sea.
NAJRAN - formerly known as Aba al-Saud, is a city in southwestern
Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen.
NARNI - is an ancient hill town and commune of Umbria, in central
Italy.
NICAEA - (Nicea in modern English) is a Hellenic city in northwestern
Anatolia.
NICOMEDIA

an

ancient

city

in

northern

Turkey

close

to

Constantinople.
NINEVEH - was an ancient Assyrian city on the eastern bank of the
Tigris River, and capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire
73

NINOTSMINDA - is a town and a rayon (district) located in Georgia's


southern district of Samtskhe-Javakheti.
NOVGOROD - was a large medieval Russian state which stretched
from the Baltic Sea to the northern Ural Mountains between the 12th
and 15th centuries, which included the city of Novgorod and the Lake
Ladoga regions.
NYSSA - town of Cappadocia. It is located near to the modern town of
Harmandal Ortak district, Aksaray province, in south-central Turkey.
OBNORA - is a river in Vologda and Yaroslavl Oblasts of Russia. It is a
right tributary of the Kostroma River.
OCHRID - is a city in the Republic of Macedonia and the seat of Ochrid
Municipality.
PAPHLAGONIA - was an ancient area on the Black Sea coast of north
central Anatolia, situated between Bithynia to the west and Pontus to
the east, and separated from Phrygia (later, Galatia) by a prolongation
to the east of the Bithynian Olympus. According to Strabo, the river
Parthenius formed the western limit of the region, and it was bounded
on the east by the Halys River.
PAMPHYLIA - Was the region in the south of Asia Minor, between
Lycia and Cilicia, extending from the Mediterranean to Mount Taurus
(modern day Antalya province, Turkey). Located next to Cappadocia.
PEKING - is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of
the most populous cities in the world. Located in northern China.
74

PELOPONNESE - is a large peninsula and geographic region in


southern Greece. It is separated from the northern part of the country
by the Gulf of Corinth.
PELUSIUM - an important city in the eastern extremes of Egypt's Nile
Delta, 30 km to the southeast of the modern Port Said.
PERM - is a city and the administrative center of Perm Krai, Russia,
located on the banks of the Kama River in the European part of Russia
near the Ural Mountains.
PENTAPOLIS - is a geographic and/or institutional grouping of five
cities located on the eastern coast of present day Italy.
POLTAVA - is a city located on the Vorskla River in central Ukraine.
PONTUS - is a historical Greek designation for a region on the
southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day northeastern
Anatolia Turkey.
PHRYGIA - was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what
is now Turkey, centered on the Sakarya River.
PRINCES ISLANDS - The Prince Islands, are a chain of nine islands off
the coast of Istanbul (Constantinople) Turkey, in the Sea of Marmara.
The islands also constitute the Adalar (literally Islands) district of
Istanbul Province.

75

PSKOV - is a city and the administrative center of Pskov Oblast,


Russia, located about 20 kilometers (12 mi) east from the Estonian
border, on the Velikaya River.
RYAZAN - is a city and the administrative center of Ryazan Oblast,
Russia, located on the Oka River 196 kilometers (122 mi) southeast of
Moscow.
SALONICA is a port city in northeastern Greece on an inlet of the
Aegean Sea; second largest city of Greece.
SEBASTIA - is a Palestinian village of over 4,500 inhabitants, located
in the Nablus Governorate of the West Bank some 12 kilometers
northwest of the city of Nablus.
SIDE - is an ancient Greek city on the southern Mediterranean coast
of Turkey, a resort town and one of the best-known classical sites in
the country. It lies near Manavgat and the village of Selimiye, 75 km
from Antalya) in the province of Antalya.
SILISTRA - is a port city in the far northeast of Bulgaria, lying on the
southern bank of the lower Danube at the country's border with
Romania.
SMOLENSK - is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk
Oblast, Russia, located on the Dnieper River, 360 kilometers (220 mi)
west-southwest of Moscow.
SMYRNA - was an ancient city located at a central and strategic point
on the Aegean coast of Anatolia.

76

SUZDAL - is a town and the administrative center of Suzdalsky


District in Vladimir Oblast, Russia, located on the Kamenka River, 26
kilometers (16 mi) from the city of Vladimir.
SYNNADA - was an ancient town of Phrygia Salutaris in Asia Minor. Its
site is now occupied by the modern Turkish town of uhut, in
Afyonkarahisar Province.
TABENNISI - north of Thebes is considered the first coenobitic
monastery. It was a community founded by Pachomius on an island of
the Nile in Upper Egypt.
TAGASTE - is a municipality in Algeria. It is the capital of Souk Ahras
Province
TAO - was a province of ancient and medieval Georgia, which is now
part of the Artvin Province.
TARSUS - is a historic city in south-central Turkey, 20 km inland from
the Mediterranean Sea. It was the Apostle Pauls hometown.
THEBAID - The Thebaid or Thebais is the region of ancient Egypt
containing

the

thirteen

southernmost

nomes

(a

subnational

administrative division of ancient Egypt) of Upper Egypt, from Abydos


to Aswan. It acquired its name from its proximity to the ancient
Egyptian capital of Thebes.
THEBES - is a city in Boeotia, central Greece.
THESSALONIKI - (Thessalonica) the capital of the geographic region
of Greek Macedonia. It is in the northeastern part of Greece.
77

THRACE - is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe,


centered on the modern borders of Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. As a
geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the
Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean
Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on
the east. The areas it comprises are southeastern Bulgaria (Northern
Thrace), northeastern Greece (Western Thrace), and the European
part of Turkey (Eastern Thrace). The biggest part of Thrace is part of
present-day Bulgaria. In Turkey, it is also called Rumelia.
THYATIRA - The city was known as "Pelopia, but it was named
Thyateira () by king Seleucus I Nicator in 290 BC. He was at
war with Lysimachus when he learned that his wife had given birth to
a daughter. According to Stephanus of Byzantium, he called this city
"thuateira" from Greek "", "" (thugater, thugatera),
meaning "daughter," although it is likely that it is an older, Lydian
name. In classical times, Thyatira stood on the border between Lydia
and Mysia. It was famous for its dyeing and was a center of the indigo
trade.

Among the ancient ruins of the city, inscriptions have been

found relating to the guild of dyers in the city. More guilds are known
in Thyatira than any other contemporary city in the Roman province of
Asia (inscriptions mention the following: wool-workers, linen-workers,
makers of outer garments, dyers, leather-workers, tanners, potters,
bakers, slave-dealers, and bronze-smiths).

In early Christian times,

Thyatira was home to a significant Christian church, mentioned as


one of the seven Churches in Book of Revelation.
Revelation,

woman

named

Jezebel

(who

According to

called

herself

prophetess) taught and seduced the Christians of Thyatira to commit


sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols.

78

TOMBOLO - (from the Italian tombolo, derived from the Latin tumulus,
meaning 'mound,' and sometimes translated as ayre Old Norse eyrr,
meaning 'gravel beach'), is a deposition land form in which an island
is attached to the mainland by a narrow piece of land such as a spit
or bar. Once attached, the island is then known as a tied island.
TREBIZOND - The Empire of Trebizond was one of three Byzantine
Greek successor states of the Byzantine Empire, along with the
Empire of Nicea and the Despotate of Epirus.

Located at far

northeastern corner of Anatolia, it was the longest surviving of the


Byzantine successor states. After the Emperor John IV death in 1459,
his brother David Megas Komnenos came to power and misused the
alliances that John IV had forged with the Ottoman Empire. David
corresponded with various European powers for help against the
Ottomans, speaking of wild schemes that included the conquest of
Jerusalem. Mehmed II eventually heard of these intrigues, and was
further provoked to action by David's demand that Mehmed remit the
tribute imposed on his brother. Mehmed's response came in the
summer of 1461. He led a sizable army from Bursa, first to Sinope,
whose emir quickly surrendered, then south across Armenia to
neutralize Uzun Hasan. Having isolated Trebizond, Mehmed quickly
swept down upon it before the inhabitants knew he was coming, and
placed it under siege. The city held out for a month before David
surrendered on August 15, 1461. With the fall of Trebizond, the last
remnant of the Byzantine Empire, and thus also of the Roman Empire
from which the Byzantine Empire sprang, was extinguished.
TRIKKALA - is a city in northwestern Thessaly, Greece, in the
Peloponesse.

79

TRNOVO - is a town and municipality in the city of East Sarajevo,


Bosnia.
TROAD - The Troad is the historical name of the Biga peninsula in the
northwestern part of Anatolia Turkey. This region now is part of the
anakkale province of Turkey. Bounded by the Dardanelles to the
northwest, by the Aegean Sea to the west and separated from the
rest of Anatolia by the massif that forms Mount Ida.
TVER - is a city and the administrative center of Tver Oblast, Russia.
Located north of Moscow, Tver was formerly the capital of a powerful
medieval state and a model provincial town in the Russian Empire.
UGLICH - is a historic town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, which stands
on the Volga River.
UMBRIA - is a region of historic and modern central Italy.
URBNISI - is a village in Georgias Shida Kartli region, in the district of
Kareli.
VALAAM - is an archipelago in the northern portion of Lake Ladoga,
lying within the Republic of Karelia, Russian Federation.
VERKOLA - a village in northern Russia.
VOLISSOS - is the largest village in the northwest part of Chios,
Aegean Islands, Greece. The village is built in amphitheatrically style
on a hill and on top of it there is a Byzantine castle built in the
medieval times.

The castle has a trapezoid shape with six circular

towers.
80

WALES - is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island
of Great Britain bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic
Ocean and Irish Sea to its west.
ZARZMA - The Zarzma monastery is nested in the forested river valley
of Kvabliani in the Adigeni municipality, 30 km west of the city of
Akhaltsikhe. It is the complex of a series of buildings dominated by a
domed church and a belfry, one of the largest in Georgia.
ZHABYN - a village located between modern day Tula and Bryansk in
the Russian Federation.
ZVENIGOROD - a town in the Moscow oblast.

81

82

83

TODAY IS JANUARY 1

Saint Basil The Great, Archbishop of


Caesarea in Cappadoci
FEAST DAY

Saint Basil the Great was born about the end of the year 329 in
Caesarea of Cappadocia, to a family renowned for their learning and
holiness. His parents' names were Basil and Emily. His mother Emily
(commemorated July 19) and his grandmother Macrina (Jan. 14) are
Saints of the Church, together with all his brothers and sisters:
Macrina, his elder sister (July 19), Gregory of Nyssa (Jan. to), Peter of
Sebastia (Jan. 9), and Naucratius. Basil studied in Constantinople
under the sophist Libanius, then in Athens, where also he formed a
friendship with the young Gregory, a fellow Cappadocian, later called
"the Theologian." Through the good influence of his sister Macrina
(see July 19), he chose to embrace the ascetical life, abandoning his
worldly career. He visited the monks in Egypt, in Palestine, in Syria,
and in Mesopotamia, and upon returning to Caesarea, he departed to
a hermitage on the Iris River in Pontus, not far from Annesi, where his
mother and his sister Macrina were already treading the path of the
ascetical life; here he also wrote his ascetical homilies. About the
year 370, when the bishop of his country reposed, he was elected to
succeed to his throne and was entrusted with the Church of Christ,
which he tended for eight years, living in voluntary poverty and strict
asceticism, having no other care than to defend holy Orthodoxy as a
worthy successor of the Apostles. The Emperor Valens, and
Modestus, the Eparch of the East, who were of one mind with the
Arians, tried with threats of exile and of torments to bend the saint to
84

their own confession, because he was the bastion of Orthodoxy in all


Cappadocia, and preserved it from heresy when Arianism was at its
strongest. But he set all their malice at naught, and in his willingness
to give himself up to every suffering for the sake of the Faith, showed
himself to be a martyr by volition. Modestus, amazed at Basil's
fearlessness in his presence, said that no one had ever so spoken to
him. "Perhaps," answered the saint, "you have never met a bishop
before." The Emperor Valens himself was almost won over by Basil's
dignity and wisdom. When Valens' son fell gravely sick, he asked
Saint Basil to pray for him. The saint promised that his son would be
restored if Valens agreed to have him baptized by the Orthodox;
Valens agreed, Basil prayed, and the son was restored. But
afterwards the Emperor had him baptized by Arians, and the child died
soon after. Later, Valens, persuaded by his counsellors, decided to
send the saint into exile because he would not accept the Arians into
communion; but his pen broke when he was signing the edict of
banishment. He tried a second time and a third, but the same thing
happened, so that the Emperor was filled with dread, and tore up the
document, and Basil was not banished. The truly great Basil, spent
with extreme ascetical practices and continual labors, at the helm of
the church, departed to the Lord on the 1st of January, in 379, at the
age of forty-nine. His writings are replete with wisdom and erudition,
and rich are these gifts he set forth the doctrines concerning the
mysteries both of the creation (see his Hexaemeron) and of the Holy
Trinity (see On the Holy Spirit). Because of the majesty and keenness
of his eloquence, he is honored as "the revealer of heavenly things"
and "the Great."

85

TODAY IS JANUARY 2

Saint Seraphim The Wonderworker Of Sarov


FEAST DAY

Saint Seraphim was born in the town of Kursk in 1759. From tender
childhood he was under the protection of the most holy Mother of
God, who, when he was nine years old, appeared to him in a vision,
and through her icon of Kursk, healed him from a grave sickness
from which he had not been expected to recover. At the age of
nineteen he entered the monastery of Sarov, where he amazed all
with his obedience, his lofty asceticism, and his great humility. In
1780 the Saint was stricken with a sickness which he manfully
endured for three years, until our Lady the Theotokos healed him,
appearing to him with the Apostles Peter and John. He was
tonsured a monk in 1786, being named for the holy Hieromartyr
Seraphim, Bishop of Phanarion (Dec. 4), and was ordained deacon a
year later. In his unquenchable love for God, he continually added
labors to labors, increasing in virtue and prayer with titan strides.
Once, during the Divine Liturgy of Holy and Great Thursday, he was
counted worthy of a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who appeared
encompassed by the heavenly hosts. After this dread vision, he
gave himself over to greater labors.

In 1794, Saint Seraphim took

up the solitary life in a cell in the forest. This period of extreme


asceticism lasted some fifteen years, until 1810. It was at this time
that he took upon himself one of the greatest feats of his life.
86

Assailed with despondency and a storm of contrary thoughts raised


by the enemy of our salvation, the saint passed a thousand nights
on a rock, continuing in prayer until God gave him complete victory
over the enemy. On another occasion, he was assaulted by robbers,
who broke his chest and his head with their blows, leaving him
almost dead. Here again, he began to recover after an appearance
of the most holy Theotokos, who came to him with the Apostles
Peter and John, and pointing to Saint Seraphim, uttered those
awesome words, "This is one of my kind."

In 1810, at the age of

fifty, weakened with his more than human struggles, Saint Seraphim
returned to the monastery for the third part of his ascetical labours,
in which he lived as a recluse until 1825. For the first five years of
his reclusion, he spoke to no one at all, and little is known of this
period. After five years, he began receiving visitors little by little,
giving counsel and consolation to ailing souls. In 1825, the most
holy Theotokos appeared to the Saint and revealed to him that it
was pleasing to God that he fully end his seclusion; from this time
the number of people who came to see him grew daily. It was also
at the command of the holy Virgin that he undertook the spiritual
direction of the Diveyevo Convent. He healed bodily ailments,
foretold things to come, brought hardened sinners to repentance,
and saw clearly the secrets of the heart of those who came to him.
Through his utter humility and childlike simplicity, his unrivalled
ascetical travails, and his angel-like love for God, he ascended to
the holiness and greatness of the ancient God-bearing Fathers and
became like Anthony for Egypt, the physician for the whole Russian
land. In all, the most holy Theotokos appeared to him twelve times
in his life. The last was on Annunciation, 1831, to announce to him
that he would soon, enter into his rest. She appeared to him
accompanied by twelve virgins-martyrs and monastic saints; with
Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Theologian. With a body
87

ailing and broken from innumerable hardships, and an unspotted


soul shining with the light of Heaven, the Saint lived less than two
years after this, falling asleep in peace on January 2, 1833, chanting
Paschal hymns. On the night of his repose, the righteous Philaret of
the Glinsk Hermitage beheld his soul ascending to Heaven in light.
Because of the universal testimony to the singular holiness of his
life, and the seas of miracles that he performed both in life and after
death, his veneration quickly spread beyond the boundaries of the
Russian Empire to every corner of the earth.

TODAY IS JANUARY 3

Saint Gordios the Martyr of Caesarea


FEAST DAY

The Martyr Gordios who was from Caesarea of Cappadocia, was a


centurion by rank. Unable to bear the impiety of the heathen, he
withdrew to the wilderness to purify himself through prayer and
fasting. After he perceived that his ascetical training had prepared
him sufficiently, he came down from the mountains when a certain
pagan festival was held in Caesarea, attended by all, and presented
himself before the multitude. Although the spectacles of the festival
continued, no one paid them any heed, but all eyes were turned upon
him. From his sojourn in the mountains, his look was wild, his beard
was long, his raiment squalid, his body like a skeleton; yet a certain
grace shone round about him. He was recognized, and a loud shout
88

and tumult was made as his fellow Christians rejoiced, and the
enemies of the truth cried out for his death. He boldly professed his
faith before the Governor, and after torments was beheaded, in the
reign of Licinius in the year 314. Saint Basil the Great delivered a
homily on Saint Gordios, mentioning that some of those in his
audience had been present at the saint's martyrdom.

TODAY IS JANUARY 4

Synaxis of the Holy Seventy Apostles


FEAST DAY

After choosing the Twelve, Christ the Lord selected seventy lesser
apostles and sent them out to preach, as the holy Evangelist Luke
writes: After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also; and
sent them two and two before His face. The Twelve generally
remained at Christs side, serving as witnesses to His life; but the
Seventy preceded Him in every place He visited. We do not know the
names of all the original Seventy, for, as Saint John the Evangelist
tells us, the time came when many of His disciples went back, and
walked no more with Him. Then said Jesus unto the Twelve, Will ye
also go away? As the Lords Passion approached, the number of His
disciples decreased further: hardly any of the Seventy remained, and
one of the Twelve betrayed Him. After the Resurrection Matthias was
numbered with the Twelve, while the ranks of the Seventy were
89

gradually filled with men newly converted to piety by the Twelve


Apostles and Saint Paul, who was called by heaven to preside (with
Saint Peter) over the apostolic choir.

TODAY IS JANUARY 5

SAINT THEOPEMPTOS
FEAST DAY

Saint Theopemptos teaches us how we must be champions if we win


eternal glory, not this temporary world. Saint Theopemptos was
bishop during the reign of Emperor Diocletian where on January 23,
303 signed a decree merciless persecution against Christians. Saint
Theopemptos first confessed Christ Crucified to Diocletian. Of course,
immediately after he knew what awaited him. And indeed, underwent
a series of cruel tortures, which were simultaneously accompanied by
miracles. He was first put in a lit stove to burn, but miraculously came
out alive and unharmed. Then they put out an eye, and soon after,
required him to drink deadly poisons. Because, however, he was
saved by the Grace of God, he was harmless. To assure his death, he
was decapitated.

90

TODAY IS JANUARY 6

The Theophany Of Our Lord And Saviour


Jesus Christ
FEAST DAY

About the beginning of our Lord's thirtieth year, John the Forerunner,
who was some six months older than Our Savior according to the
flesh, and had lived in the wilderness since his childhood, received a
command from God and came into the parts of the Jordan, preaching
the baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins. Then our Savior
also came from Galilee to the Jordan, and sought and received
baptism though He was the Master and John was but a servant.
Whereupon, there came to pass those marvelous deeds, great and
beyond nature: the Heavens were opened, the Spirit descended in the
form of a dove upon Him that was being baptized and the voice was
heard from the Heavens hearing witness that this was the beloved
Son of God, now baptized as a man (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke
3:1-22). From these events the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and
the great mystery of the Trinity were demonstrated. It is also from
this that the present feast is called "Theophany," that is, the divine
manifestation, God's appearance among men. On this venerable day
the sacred mystery of Christian baptism was inaugurated; henceforth
also began the saving preaching of the Kingdom of the Heavens.

91

TODAY IS JANUARY 7

Saint Brannock of Braunton


FEAST DAY

St. Brannock lived in the sixth century, and tutored the children of the
Welsh ruler Brychan. He went with King Brychan on a pilgrimage to
venerate the tombs of the Apostles. On the way home, he stopped in
Brittany and remained there several years where he healed the sick
and did many more miracles. Eventually, the saint returned to Wales
and settled at Braunton, where he built a church. His holy relics are
said to rest beneath the altar of the Braunton church.

TODAY IS JANUARY 8

Saint Emilian the Confessor, Bishop of Cyzicus


FEAST DAY

92

Saint Emilian was a zealous defender of the holy icons during the
reign of

Emperor Leo the Armenian. He suffered torture and

martyrdom on August 8th in the year 820.

TODAY IS JANUARY 9

Saint Domnica of Constantinople


FEAST DAY

Saint Domnica came from Carthage to Constantinople in the time of


the holy Emperor Theodosius the Great. She was baptized by
Patriarch Nectarius and entered a womens monastery.

Through

strict and prolonged ascetic efforts, she attained high spiritual


perfection. The saint healed the sick, demonstrated power over the
natural elements, and predicted the future. By her miracles, she
moved inhabitants of the capital towards concerns about life eternal
and the soul. Adorned by virtues, the saint departed this life a
spotless virgin in her old age.

93

TODAY IS JANUARY10

Saint Gregory the Bishop of Nyssa


FEAST DAY

Saint Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, was a younger brother of St Basil the


Great (January 1). His birth and upbringing came at a time when the
Arian disputes were at their height. Having received an excellent
education, he was at one time a teacher of rhetoric. In the year 372,
he was consecrated by St. Basil the Great as bishop of the city of
Nyssa in Cappadocia. St. Gregory was an ardent advocate for
Orthodoxy, and he fought against the Arian heresy with his brother St.
Basil. Gregory was persecuted by the Arians, by whom he was falsely
accused of improper use of church property, and thereby deprived of
his see and sent to Ancyra. In the following year St. Gregory was
again deposed in absentia by a council of Arian bishops, but he
continued to encourage his flock in Orthodoxy, wandering about from
place to place. After the death of the emperor Valens (378), St.
Gregory was restored to his cathedral and was joyously received by
his flock. In the year 381 St. Gregory was one of the chief figures of
the Second Ecumenical Council, convened at Constantinople against
the heresy of Macedonius, who incorrectly taught about the Holy
Spirit. At this Council, on the initiative of St. Gregory, the Nicean
Symbol of Faith (the Creed) was completed. In the year 383, St.
Gregory of Nyssa participated in a Council at Constantinople, where
he preached a sermon on the divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit. In
386, he was again at Constantinople, and he was asked to speak the
94

funeral oration in memory of the empress Placilla. Again in 394 St.


Gregory was present in Constantinople at a local Council, convened
to resolve church matters in Arabia. St. Gregory of Nyssa was a fiery
defender of Orthodox dogmas and a zealous teacher of his flock, a
kind and compassionate father to his spiritual children, and their
intercessor

before

the

courts.

He

was

distinguished

by

his

magnanimity, patience and love of peace. Having reached old age, St.
Gregory of Nyssa died soon after the Council of Constantinople.
Together with his great contemporaries, Sts. Basil the Great and
Gregory the Theologian, St. Gregory of Nyssa had a significant
influence on the Church life of his time. St. Gregory left behind many
remarkable works of dogmatic character, as well as sermons and
discourses. He has been called "the Father of Fathers."

TODAY IS JANUARY 11

Saint Theodosius the Great


FEAST DAY

Saint Theodosius the Great lived during the fifth-sixth centuries, and
was

the

founder

of

cenobitic

monasticism.

He

was

born

in

Cappadocia of pious parents. Endowed with a splendid voice, he


zealously toiled at church reading and singing. St. Theodosius prayed
fervently that the Lord would guide him on the way to salvation. In his
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early years he visited the Holy Land and met with St. Simeon the
Stylite (September 1), who blessed him and predicted future pastoral
service for him. Yearning for the solitary life, Saint Theodosius settled
in Palestine into a desolate cave, in which, according to Tradition, the
three Magi had spent the night, having come to worship the Savior
after His Nativity. He lived there for thirty years in great abstinence
and unceasing prayer. People flocked to the ascetic, wishing to live
under his guidance. When the cave could no longer hold all the
monks, St. Theodosius prayed that the Lord Himself would indicate a
place for the monks. Taking a censer with cold charcoal and incense,
the monk started walking into the desert. At a certain spot the
charcoal ignited by itself and the incense smoke began to rise. Here
the monk established the first cenobitic monastery, or lavra (meaning
"broad" or "populous"). Soon the Lavra of St. Theodosius became
renowned, and up to 700 monks gathered at it. According to the final
testament of St. Theodosius, the lavra rendered service to neighbor,
giving aid to the poor and providing shelter for wanderers. St.
Theodosius was extremely compassionate. Once, when there was a
famine in Palestine and a multitude of people gathered at the
monastery, the monk gave orders to allow everyone into the
monastery enclosure. His disciples were annoyed, knowing that the
monastery did not have the means to feed all those who had come.
But when they went into the bakery, they saw that through the
prayers of the abbot, it was filled with bread. This miracle was
repeated every time St. Theodosius wanted to help the destitute. At
the monastery, St. Theodosius built a home for taking in strangers,
separate infirmaries for monks and laymen, and also a shelter for the
dying. Seeing that people from various lands gathered at the lavra,
the saint arranged for services in the various languages: Greek,
Georgian and Armenian. All gathered to receive the Holy Mysteries in
the large church, where divine services were chanted in Greek.
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During the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius (491-518) there


arose the heresy of Eutychius and Severus, which recognized neither
the sacraments nor the clergy. The emperor accepted the false
teaching,

and

the

Orthodox

began

to

suffer

persecution.

St.

Theodosius stood firmly in defense of Orthodoxy and wrote a letter to


the emperor on behalf of the monks, in which they denounced him and
refuted the heresy with the teachings of the Ecumenical Councils. He
affirmed moreover, that the desert-dwellers and monks would firmly
support the Orthodox teaching. The emperor showed restraint for a
short while, but then he renewed his persecution of the Orthodox. The
holy Elder then showed great zeal for the truth. Leaving the
monastery, he came to Jerusalem and in the church, he stood at the
high place and cried out for all to hear: "Whoever does not honor the
four Ecumenical Councils, let him be anathema!" For this bold deed
the monk was sent to prison, but soon returned after the death of the
emperor. St. Theodosius accomplished many healings and other
miracles during his life, coming to the aid of the needy. Through his
prayers he once destroyed the locusts devastating the fields in
Palestine. Also by his intercession, soldiers were saved from death,
and he also saved those perishing in shipwrecks and those lost in the
desert. Once, the saint gave orders to strike the semandron (a piece
of wood hit with a mallet), so that the brethren would gather at
prayer. He told them, "The wrath of God draws near the East." After
several days it became known that a strong earthquake had
destroyed the city of Antioch at the very hour when the saint had
summoned the brethren to prayer. Before his death, St. Theodosius
summoned to him three beloved bishops and revealed to them that he
would soon depart to the Lord. After three days, he died at the age of
105. The saint's body was buried with reverence in the cave in which
he lived at the beginning of his ascetic deeds.

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TODAY IS JANUARY 12

Saint Eupraxia the Elder


FEAST DAY

Saint Eupraxia the Elder was the mother of St. Eupraxia, maiden of
Tabennisi (July 25). She was the wife of the pious senator Antigonus,
who was related to the emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395).
Following the birth of their daughter, the couple decided to live from
that time forward as brother and sister. They distributed alms to the
poor, hoping to inherit the heavenly Kingdom. After she was widowed,
St. Eupraxia devoted herself completely to the service of the Lord.
After visiting several monastic establishments and bestowing liberal
alms, she came to the Tabennisi monastery in Egypt, where the
abbess was the nun Theodula, known for her strict rule. Deeply moved
by the pure way of monastic life, St. Eupraxia came often to this
monastery and always brought her eight-year-old daughter with her.
The virtues and prayers of her parents bestowed a particular grace of
God upon the child, who desired to dedicate herself to God. To her
mother's great joy, the abbess Theodula kept the younger Eupraxia at
the convent and blessed her to receive monastic tonsure. St. Eupraxia
the elder continued her works of charity, and increased her fasting
and prayer. Abbess Theodula, possessing the gift of clairvoyance, told
her of her impending end. Learning of her imminent death, Eupraxia
gave thanks to the Lord for His great mercy towards her. She bid
farewell to the sisters of the convent and to her daughter. She left her
98

with these parting words: "Love the Lord Jesus Christ, and respect
the sisters. Never dare to think that they are below you and should
serve you. Be poor in your thoughts in order to profit by spiritual
treasures. Also remember your father and me, and pray for the
salvation of our souls." After three days the saint surrendered her soul
to the Lord (+ 393) and was buried at the monastery, where her
daughter continued her ascetic struggles.

TODAY IS JANUARY 13

Saint Maximus Kavsokalyvites


FEAST DAY

Saint Maximus Kavsokalyvites was educated at the church of the


Most Holy Theotokos at Lampsakos. At seventeen years of age he left
his parental home, became a monk, and passed his obedience under
Elder Mark, the finest spiritual instructor in Macedonia. After the
death of his teacher, the saint pursued asceticism under the guidance
of

several desert

Fathers of

extremely strict

life. Arriving in

Constantinople, St. Maximus was constantly at the Blachernae church


of the Most Holy Theotokos, as though he had taken up his abode at
the entrance. From his youth, St. Maximus had a great love for the
Mother of God. He persistently entreated Her to grant him the gift of
unceasing mental prayer. One day, as he was venerating her icon, he
99

felt a warmth and a flame enter his heart from the icon. It did not burn
him, but he felt a certain sweetness and contrition within. From that
time, his heart began to repeat the Jesus Prayer of itself. In this way,
the Virgin Theotokos fulfilled his request. St. Maximus fulfilled his
obedience in the Lavra of St. Athanasius on Mt. Athos. In order to
conceal his ascetic deeds of fasting and prayer, and to avoid
celebrity, he behaved like a fool. One day, he had a vision of the
Mother of God, who told him to ascend the mountain. On the summit
of the Holy Mountain, he prayed for three days and nights. Again, the
Most Holy Theotokos appeared to him surrounded by angels, and
holding Her divine Son in Her arms. Prostrating himself, the saint
heard the All-Holy Virgin speak to him, "Receive the gift against
demons... and settle at the foot of Athos, for this is the will of My
Son." She told him that he would ascend the heights of virtue, and
become a teacher and guide for many. Then, since he had not eaten
for several days, a heavenly bread was given to him. As soon as he
put it in his mouth, he was surrounded by divine light, and he saw the
Mother of God ascending into Heaven. St. Maximus told his vision to a
certain Elder living by the church of the holy Prophet Elias at Carmel.
He was skeptical, but the saint turned his disbelief to good. He
pretended to be slightly crazy in order to conceal his prodigious
ascetic deeds, privations, his hardship and solitude. St. Maximus did
not live in a permanent abode, but wandered from place to place like
a lunatic. Whenever he moved, he would burn his hut down. Therefore,
he was called "Kavsokalyvites," or "Hut Burner." Those on the Holy
Mountain, knowing of the extreme deprivations and sorrows of St.
Maximus, for a long time regarded him with contempt, even though he
had attained the height and perfection of spiritual life. When St.
Gregory of Sinai (August 8) arrived on Athos, he encountered the holy
fool. After speaking to him, he began to call him an earthly angel. St.
Gregory persuaded St. Maximus to stop behaving like a fool and to
100

live in one place so that others might benefit from his spiritual
experience. Heeding the words of St. Gregory and the advice of other
Elders, St. Maximus selected a permanent dwelling in a cave near the
renowned Elder Isaiah. Knowing of his gift of clairvoyance, the
Byzantine

Emperors

John

Paleologos

(1341-1376)

and

John

Kantakouzenos (1341-1355) visited him and were surprised by the


fulfillment of his predictions. Theophanes, the igumen of Vatopedi
monastery, wrote about St. Maximus: "I invoke God as my witness,
that I myself saw several of his miracles. Once, for instance, I saw
him travel through the air from one place to another. I listened as he
made a prediction concerning me, that first I would be an igumen, and
then Metropolitan of Ochrid. He even revealed to me how I would
suffer for the Church." St. Maximus abandoned his solitude only just
before his death, and settled near the Lavra of St. Athanasius, where
he surrendered his soul to the Lord at 95 years of age (+ 1354). After
his death, as in life, St. Maximus was glorified by many miracles.

TODAY IS JANUARY 14

Saint Nino, Equal of the Apostles and


Enlightener of Georgia
FEAST DAY

The virgin Nino of Cappadocia was a relative of Great-martyr George


and the only daughter of a widely respected and honorable couple.
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Her father was a Roman army chief by the name of Zabulon, and her
mother, Sosana, was the sister of Patriarch Juvenal of Jerusalem.
When Nino reached the age of twelve, her parents sold all their
possessions and moved to Jerusalem. Soon after, Ninos father was
tonsured a monk. He bid farewell to his family and went to labor in the
wilderness of the Jordan. After Sosana had been separated from her
husband, Patriarch Juvenal ordained her a deaconess. She left Nino in
the care of an old woman, Sara Niaphor, who raised her in the
Christian Faith and related to her the stories of Christs life and His
suffering on earth. It was from Sara that Nino learned how Christs
Robe had arrived in Georgia, a country of pagans. Soon Nino began to
pray fervently to the Theotokos, asking for her blessing to travel to
Georgia and be made worthy to venerate the Sacred Robe that she
had woven for her beloved Son. The Most Holy Virgin heard her
prayers and appeared to Nino in a dream, saying, Go to the country
that was assigned to me by lot and preach the Gospel of our Lord
Jesus Christ. He will send down His grace upon you, and I will be your
protector. But the blessed Nino was overwhelmed at the thought of
such a great responsibility and answered, How can I, a fragile
woman, perform such a momentous task, and how can I believe that
this vision is real? In response, the Most Holy Theotokos presented
her with a cross of grapevines and proclaimed, Receive this cross as
a shield against visible and invisible enemies!

When she awoke,

Nino was holding the cross in her hands. She dampened it with tears
of rejoicing and tied it securely with strands of her own hair.
(According to another source, the Theotokos bound the grapevine
cross with strands of her own hair.) Nino related the vision to her
uncle, Patriarch Juvenal, and revealed to him her desire to preach the
Gospel in Georgia. Juvenal led her in front of the Royal Doors, laid his
hands on her, and prayed, O Lord, God of Eternity, I beseech Thee on
behalf of my orphaned niece. Grant that, according to Thy will, she
102

may go to preach and proclaim Thy Holy Resurrection. O Christ God,


be Thou to her a guide, a refuge, and a spiritual father. And as Thou
didst enlighten the Apostles and all those who feared Thy name, do
Thou also enlighten her with the wisdom to proclaim Thy glad
tidings. When Nino arrived in Rome, she met and baptized the
princess Rhipsimia and her nurse, Gaiana. At that time the Roman
emperor was Diocletian, a ruler infamous for persecuting Christians.
Diocletian fell in love with Rhipsimia and resolved to marry her, but
Sts. Nino, Rhipsimia, Gaiana, and fifty other virgins escaped to
Armenia. The furious Diocletian ordered his soldiers to follow them
and sent a messenger to Tiridates, the Armenian king, to put him on
guard. King Tiridates located the women and, following Diocletians
example, was charmed by Rhipsimias beauty and resolved to marry
her. But St. Rhipsimia would not consent to marry, and in his rage the
king had her tortured to death with Gaiana and the fifty other virgins.
St. Nino, however, was being prepared for a different, greater task,
and she succeeded in escaping King Tiridates persecutions by hiding
among some rose bushes. When she finally arrived in Georgia, St.
Nino was greeted by a group of Mtskhetan shepherds near Lake
Paravani, and she received a blessing from God to preach to the
pagans of this region. With the help of her acquaintances, St. Nino
soon reached the city of Urbnisi. She remained there a month, then
traveled to Mtskheta with a group of Georgians who were making a
pilgrimage to venerate the pagan idol Armazi. There she watched with
great sadness as the Georgian people trembled before the idols. She
was exceedingly sorrowful and prayed to the Lord, O Lord, send
down Thy mercy upon this nation that all nations may glorify Thee
alone, the One True God, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ. Suddenly a
violent wind began to blow and hail fell from the sky, shattering the
pagan statues. The terrified worshipers fled, scattering across the
city. St. Nino made her home beneath a bramble bush in the garden of
103

the king, with the family of the royal gardener. The gardener and his
wife were childless, but through St. Ninos prayers, God granted them
a child. The couple rejoiced, declared Christ to be the True God, and
became disciples of St. Nino. Wherever St. Nino went, those who
heard her preach converted to the Christian Faith in great numbers.
St. Nino even healed the terminally ill Queen Nana after she declared
Christ to be the True God. King Mirian, a pagan, was not at all pleased
with the great impression St. Ninos preaching had made on the
Georgian nation. One day while he was out hunting, he resolved to kill
all those who followed Christ. According to his scheme, even his wife,
Queen Nana, would face death for failing to renounce the Christian
Faith. But in the midst of the hunt, it suddenly became very dark. All
alone, King Mirian became afraid and prayed in vain for the help of the
pagan gods. When his prayers went unanswered, he finally lost hope
and, miraculously, turned to Christ: God of Nino, illumine this night
for me and guide my footsteps, and I will declare Thy Holy Name. I
will erect a cross and venerate it, and I will construct for Thee a
temple. I vow to be obedient to Nino and to the Faith of the Roman
people! Suddenly the night was transfigured, the sun shone radiantly,
and King Mirian gave great thanks to the Creator. When he returned to
the city, he immediately informed St. Nino of his decision. As a result
of the unceasing labors of Equal-to-the-Apostles Nino, Georgia was
established as a nation solidly rooted in the Christian Faith. St. Nino
reposed in the village of Bodbe in eastern Georgia and, according to
her will, she was buried in the place where she took her last breath.
King Mirian later erected a church in honor of St. George over her
grave.

104

TODAY IS JANUARY 15

Saint John the Hut-Dweller


FEAST DAY

Saint John the Hut-Dweller was the son of rich and illustrious parents,
and was born in Constantinople the early fifth century. He received a
fine education, and he mastered rhetoric and philosophy by the age of
twelve. He also loved to read spiritual books. Perceiving the vanity of
worldly life, he chose the path that was narrow and extremely
difficult. Filled with longing to enter a monastery, he confided his
intention to a passing monk. John made him promise to come back for
him when he returned from his pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and take him
to his monastery. He asked his parents for a Gospel so that he might
study the words of Christ. John's parents hired a calligrapher to copy
the text, and had the volume bound in a golden cover studded with
gems. John read the Gospel constantly, delighting in the Savior's
words. The monk kept his promise to come back for John, and they
went secretly to Bithynia. At the monastery of the "Unsleeping"
(Akoimitoi), he received monastic tonsure. The young monk began his
ascetical
unceasing

labors

with

prayer,

perseverance at

zeal,

humble

work.

astonishing
obedience,

After

six
105

the
strict

years, he

brethren

with

abstinence,
began

to

his
and

undergo

temptations. He remembered his parents, how much they loved him,


and what sorrow he caused them. He regretted leaving them, and was
filled with a burning desire to see them again. St. John explained his
situation to the igumen St. Marcellus and he asked to be released
from the monastery. He begged the igumen for his blessing and
prayers to return home. He bid farewell to the brethren, hoping that by
their prayers and with the help of God, he would both see his parents
and overcome the snares of the devil. The igumen then blessed him
for his journey. St. John returned to Constantinople, not to resume his
former life of luxury, but dressed as a beggar, and unknown to
anyone. He settled in a corner by the gates of his parents' home. His
father noticed the "pauper," and began to send him food from his
table, for the sake of Christ. John lived in a small hut for three years,
oppressed and insulted by the servants, enduring cold and frost,
unceasingly conversing with the Lord and the holy angels. Before his
death, the Lord appeared to the monk in a vision, revealing that the
end of his sorrows was approaching, and that in three days he would
be taken into the Heavenly Kingdom. Therefore, he asked the steward
to give his mother a message to come to him, for he had something to
say to her. At first, she did not wish to go, but she was curious to
know what this beggar had to say to her. Then he sent her another
message, saying that he would die in three days. John thanked her for
the charity he had received, and told her that God would reward her
for it. He then made her promise to bury him beneath his hut, dressed
in his rags. Only then did the saint give her his Gospel, which he
always carried with him, saying, "May this console you in this life, and
guide you to the next life." She showed the Gospel to her husband,
saying that it was similar to the one they had given their son. He
realized that it was, in fact, the very Gospel they had commissioned
for John. They went back to the gates, intending to ask the pauper
where he got the Gospel, and if he knew anything about their son.
106

Unable to restrain himself any longer, he admitted that he was their


child. With tears of joy they embraced him, weeping because he had
endured privation for so long at the very gates of his parental home.
The saint died in the mid-fifth century, when he was not quite twentyfive years old. On the place of his burial the parents built a church,
and beside it a hostel for strangers. When they died, they were buried
in the church they had built. In the twelfth century the head of the
saint was taken by Crusaders to Besanon (in France), and other
relics of the saint were taken to Rome.

TODAY IS JANUARY 16

Veneration of Apostle Peter's Precious Chains


FEAST DAY

Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great and king of the Jews,
grew wroth against the Church of Christ, and slew James, the brother
of John the Evangelist. Seeing that this pleased the Jews, he took
Peter also into custody and locked him up in prison, intending to keep
him there until after the feast of the Passover, so that he could win
the favor of the people by presenting him to them as a victim. But the
Apostle was saved when he was miraculously set free by an Angel
(Acts 12:1-19). The chains wherewith the Apostle was bound received
from his most sacred body the grace of sanctification and healing,
107

which is bestowed upon the faithful who draw nigh with faith. That
such sacred treasures work wonders and many healings is witnessed
by the divine Scripture, where it speaks concerning Paul, saying that
the Christians in Ephesus had such reverence for him, that his
handkerchiefs and aprons, taken up with much reverence, healed the
sick of their maladies: "So that from his body were brought unto the
sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them,
and the evil spirits went out of them" (Acts 19:12). But not only the
Apostles' clothing (which certainly touched the bodies of the sick),
but even their shadow alone performed healings. On beholding this,
people put their sick on stretchers and beds and brought them out
into the streets that, when Peter passed by, his shadow "might
overshadow some of them"(Acts 5:15). From this the Orthodox
Catholic Church has learned to show reverence and piety not only to
the relics of their bodies, but also in the clothing of God's Saints.

TODAY IS JANUARY 17

Saint Anthony the Great


FEAST DAY

Saint Anthony the Great is known as the Father of monasticism, and


the long ascetical sermon in The Life of St. Anthony by St. Athanasius
(Sections 16-34), could be called the first monastic Rule. He was born
108

in Egypt in the village of Coma, near the desert of the Thebaid, in the
year 251. His parents were pious Christians of illustrious lineage.
Anthony was a serious child and was respectful and obedient to his
parents. He loved to attend church services, and he listened to the
Holy Scripture so attentively, that he remembered what he heard all
his life. When St. Anthony was about twenty years old, he lost his
parents, but he was responsible for the care of his younger sister.
Going to church about six months later, the youth reflected on how
the faithful, in the Acts of the Apostles (4:35), sold their possessions
and gave the proceeds to the Apostles for the needy. Then he entered
the church and heard the Gospel passage where Christ speaks to the
rich young man: "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess
and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and
come follow Me" (Mt.19:21). Anthony felt that these words applied to
him. Therefore, he sold the property that he received after the death
of his parents, then distributed the money to the poor, and left his
sister in the care of pious virgins in a convent. Leaving his parental
home, St. Anthony began his ascetical life in a hut not far from his
village. By working with his hands, he was able to earn his livelihood
and also alms for the poor. Sometimes, the holy youth also visited
other ascetics living in the area, and from each he sought direction
and benefit. He turned to one particular ascetic for guidance in the
spiritual life. In this period of his life St. Anthony endured terrible
temptations from the devil. The Enemy of the race of man troubled the
young ascetic with thoughts of his former life, doubts about his
chosen path, concern for his sister, and he tempted Anthony with
lewd thoughts and carnal feelings. But the saint extinguished that fire
by meditating on Christ and by thinking of eternal punishment,
thereby

overcoming

the

devil.

Realizing

that

the

devil

would

undoubtedly attack him in another manner, St. Anthony prayed and


intensified his efforts. Anthony prayed that the Lord would show him
109

the path of salvation. And he was granted a vision. The ascetic beheld
a man, who by turns alternately finished a prayer, and then began to
work. This was an angel, which the Lord had sent to instruct His
chosen one. St. Anthony tried to accustom himself to a stricter way of
life. He partook of food only after sunset, he spent all night praying
until dawn. Soon he slept only every third day. But the devil would not
cease his tricks, and trying to scare the monk, he appeared under the
guise of monstrous phantoms. The saint however protected himself
with the Life-Creating Cross. Finally the Enemy appeared to him in the
guise of a frightful looking black child, and hypocritically declaring
himself beaten, he thought he could tempt the saint into vanity and
pride. The saint, however, vanquished the Enemy with prayer. For
even greater solitude, St. Anthony moved farther away from the
village, into a graveyard. He asked a friend to bring him a little bread
on designated days, then shut himself in a tomb. Then the devils
pounced upon the saint intending to kill him, and inflicted terrible
wounds upon him. By the providence of the Lord, Anthony's friend
arrived the next day to bring him his food. Seeing him lying on the
ground as if dead, he took him back to the village. They thought the
saint was dead and prepared for his burial. At midnight, St. Anthony
regained consciousness and told his friend to carry him back to the
tombs. St. Anthony's staunchness was greater than the wiles of the
Enemy. Taking the form of ferocious beasts, the devils tried to force
the saint to leave that place, but he defeated them by trusting in the
Lord. Looking up, the saint saw the roof opening, as it were, and a ray
of light coming down toward him. The demons disappeared and he
cried out, "Where have You been, O Merciful Jesus? Why didn't You
appear from the very beginning to end my pain?" The Lord replied, "I
was here, Anthony, but wanted to see your struggle. Now, since you
have not yielded, I shall always help you and make your name known
throughout all the world." After this vision St. Anthony was healed of
110

his wounds and felt stronger than before. He was then thirty-five
years of age. Having gained spiritual experience in his struggle with
the devil, St. Anthony considered going into the Thebaid desert to
serve the Lord. He asked the Elder (to whom he had turned for
guidance at the beginning of his monastic journey) to go into the
desert with him. The Elder, while blessing him in the then as yet
unheard of exploit of being a hermit, decided not to accompany him
because of his age. St. Anthony went into the desert alone. The devil
tried to hinder him, by placing a large silver disc in his path, then
gold, but the saint ignored it and passed by. He found an abandoned
fort on the other side of the river and settled there, barricading the
entrance with stones. His faithful friend brought him bread twice a
year, and there was water inside the fort. St. Anthony spent twenty
years in complete isolation and constant struggle with the demons,
and he finally achieved perfect calm. The saint's friends removed the
stones from the entrance, and they went to St. Anthony and besought
him to take them under his guidance. Soon St. Anthony's cell was
surrounded by several monasteries, and the saint acted as a father
and guide to their inhabitants, giving spiritual instruction to all who
came into the desert seeking salvation. He increased the zeal of
those who were already monks, and inspired others with a love for the
ascetical life. He told them to strive to please the Lord, and not to
become faint-hearted in their labors. He also urged them not to fear
demonic assaults, but to repel the Enemy by the power of the LifeCreating Cross of the Lord. In the year 311 there was a fierce
persecution against Christians, in the reign of the emperor Maximian.
Wishing to suffer with the holy martyrs, St. Anthony left the desert
and went to Alexandria. He openly ministered to those in prison, he
was present at the trial and interrogations of the confessors, and
accompanying the martyrs to the place of execution. It pleased the
Lord to preserve him, however, for the benefit of Christians. At the
111

close of the persecution, the saint returned to the desert and


continued his exploits. The Lord granted the saint the gift of
wonderworking, casting out demons and healing the sick by the
power of his prayer. The great crowds of people coming to him
disrupted his solitude, and he went off still farther, into the inner
desert where he settled atop a high elevation. But the brethren of the
monasteries sought him out and asked him to visit their communities.
Another time St. Anthony left the desert and arrived in Alexandria to
defend the Orthodox Faith against the Manichaean and Arian
heresies. Knowing that the name of St. Anthony was venerated by all
the Church, the Arians said that he adhered to their heretical
teaching. But St. Anthony publicly denounced Arianism in front of
everyone and in the presence of the bishop. During his brief stay at
Alexandria, he converted a great multitude of pagans to Christ.
People from all walks of life loved the saint and sought his advice.
Pagan philosophers once came to Abba Anthony intending to mock
him for his lack of education, but by his words he reduced them to
silence. Emperor Constantine the Great (May 21) and his sons wrote
to St. Anthony and asked him for a reply. He praised the emperor for
his belief in Christ, and advised him to remember the future judgment,
and to know that Christ is the true King. St. Anthony spent eighty-five
years in the solitary desert. Shortly before his death, he told the
brethren that soon he would be taken from them. He instructed them
to preserve the Orthodox Faith in its purity, to avoid any association
with heretics, and not to be negligent in their monastic struggles.
"Strive to be united first with the Lord, and then with the saints, so
that after death they may receive you as familiar friends into the
everlasting dwellings." The saint instructed two of his disciples, who
had attended him in the final fifteen years of his life, to bury him in
the desert and not in Alexandria. He left one of his monastic mantles
to St. Athanasius of Alexandria (January 18), and the other to St.
112

Serapion of Thmuis (March 21). St. Anthony died peacefully in the year
356, at age 105, and he was buried in the desert by his disciples.

TODAY IS JANUARY 18

Saint Ephraim the Lesser


FEAST DAY

Ephraim the Lesser, is the great 11th-century writer, translator,


philosopher,

and

defender

of

the

Georgian

Church.

His

work

Reminiscences and other sources, however, provide us with the


means to speculate about the major periods of his life and labors. In
1027, when King Bagrat IV (10271072) ascended the Georgian
throne, many noblemen of the Tao region in southern Georgia
relocated to Greece. Among them was the honorable Vache, son of
Karichi, whom scholars believe was Ephraims father. After receiving
a Greek education in Constantinople, Ephraim settled in the Black
Mountains near Antioch and began his labors there. His achievements
in Georgian theological and philosophical writing are immeasurable.
The number of his works is almost one hundred, and the subjects
cover nearly every branch of theological inquiry. Ephraim even
developed his own theory of translation, which later formed the
foundation for written composition in the Georgian language. His
theory consists of three essential points: 1. A composition must be
113

translated from the original, that is, from the language in which it was
first written. 2. The translation must carry the same literal meaning
as the original, but accuracy in this regard must not violate the nature
of the language into which the text is being translated. 3. A section of
commentary that examines all relevant historical, grammatical, and
literary issues should be included with the translated text. Ephraim
translated five of the works of St. Dionysius the Areopagite, The

Ascetic Rules of St. Basil the Great, the writings of St. Ephraim the
Syrian, commentaries on the Epistles and Psalms, and many other
important patristic writings. Among Ephraim the Lessors original
works, his most significant is An Explanation of the Reasons for the

Conversion of Georgia, a compilation of existing essays and his own


commentaries on the nations conversion. In the second half of the
11th century, the monks of Antioch and the Black Mountains began to
deny the independence of the Georgian Church. Among other claims,
they argued that none of the Apostles had preached the Christian
Faith in Georgia. It became necessary to prove that the Georgian
Church was indeed autocephalous, and members of the nations elite
accordingly called upon Ephraim to settle this issue. Ephraim studied
many patristic writings in the original Greek, gathered the ancient
sources, and succeeded in fully securing the independent existence
of the Georgian Church. St. Ephraim wrote the following about the
Apostles preaching: Know that from the time the Apostles were
preaching, according to the Prophet David: Their voice was heard
through all the earth, and their words resounded in every village. In
Georgia, Andrew the First-called preached the Gospel in Avazgia (now
Abkhazeti), and from there he journeyed to Ossetia (now Shida Kartli).
Bartholomew also preached in Georgia, in the Kartli region. St.
Ephraim never left the Black Mountains. In 1091 he was enthroned as
the abbot of Kastana Monastery (The precise location of Kastana is
unknown, but according to modern archaeologists, it was probably in
114

the Black Mountains. Our holy father Ephraim reposed in the Lord
around the year 1101. He is included in a list of the departed compiled
by the Council of Ruisi-Urbnisi in 1103, and the year of his death has
been approximated from the information given in this source. Saint
Ephraim was canonized by the Orthodox Church of Georgia because
of his God-pleasing life and the many commendable works he
performed on behalf of the Church and his nation.

TODAY IS JANUARY 19

Saint Mark, Bishop of Ephesus


FEAST DAY

The great teacher and invincible defender of the One, Holy, Orthodox,
and Apostolic Church, Saint Mark, was the offspring and scion of the
imperial city, Constantinople. Reared by most pious parents, and
instructed in secular and spiritual wisdom, he became preeminent in
both. Saint Mark lived as an ascetic on the Prince's Islands and later
in the monastery of Saint George Magana in Constantinople. He
passed through all the degrees of the priesthood, and was finally
advanced to the dignity of Archbishop and the lofty throne of the
Metropolis of Ephesus. At the insistence of Emperor John Paleologos,
the Saint was sent to the council of the Latins in Florence, to unite
the churches that had been divided for so many years. He astounded
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the papal teachers with the divine wisdom of his words, and was the
only one who did not sign the blasphemous decree of that false
council. Because of this, the Holy Church of Christ has ever honored
this great man as a benefactor, teacher, sole defender, and invincible
champion of the Apostolic Confession. He reposed in 1443.

TODAY IS JANUARY 20

Holy Martyrs Saints Inna, Pinna and Rimma


FEAST DAY

The Holy Martyrs Inna, Pinna and Rimma were Slavs from northern
Scythia (modern-day Bulgaria). They were disciples of the holy
Apostle Andrew the First-Called in the first century and preached the
Gospel of Christ and baptized many of those who sought the True
Faith. The women traveled with St. Andrew on many of his missions.
In present-day Kiev, they all stood on a hill and planted a cross,
prophesying that one day there would be a flowering of Christianity in
that city. Learning they were Christians, the local prince had them
seized and demanded that they offer sacrifice to the idols. However,
the women refused to denounce Christ. It was wintertime, and the
rivers were so frozen that not only people but horses with carts could
travel across the ice. The prince ordered that the women be tied to
logs. They were gradually lowered into the freezing water, and when
the ice reached their necks, they offered their blessed souls to the
Lord. The Cathedral of St. Andrew in Kiev, Ukraine, was built on the
same spot where the holy martyrs stood with St. Andrew.
116

TODAY IS JANUARY 21

The Holy Martyr Saint Eugene of Trebizond


FEAST DAY

The Holy Martyrs Eugene, Candidus, Valerian and Aquila suffered for
their faith in Christ during the reign of Diocletian (284-305) and
Maximian

(305-311),

under

the

regimental

commander

Lycius.

Valerian, Candidus and Aquila had hidden themselves in the hills near
Trebizond, preferring life among the wild beasts to living with the
pagans. They were soon found, however, and brought to Trebizond.
For their bold and steadfast confession of faith in Christ the holy
martyrs were whipped with ox thongs, scraped with iron claws, then
were burned with fire. Several days later St. Eugene was also
arrested, and subjected to the same tortures. Later, they poured
vinegar laced with salt into his wounds. After these torments, they
threw the four martyrs into a red-hot oven. When they emerged from it
unharmed, they were beheaded, receiving their incorruptible crowns
from God. Saint Eugene became the Patron Saint of Trebizond during
the Byzantine era (orderofsteugene.com).

117

TODAY IS JANUARY 22

Saint Macarius of Zhabyn


FEAST DAY

Saint Macarius of Zhabyn, Wonderworker of Belev, was born in the


year 1539. In his early years he was tonsured with the name
Onuphrius, and in the year 1585 he founded Zhabyn's Monastery of the
Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple near the River Oka,
not far from the city of Belev. In 1615 the monastery was completely
destroyed

by Polish

soldiers under the command of

Lisovski.

Returning to the charred remains, the monk began to restore the


monastery. He again gathered the brethren, and in place of the
wooden church a stone church was built in honor of the Entry of the
Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple, with a bell-tower at the gates.
The saint spent his life in austere monastic struggles, suffering cold,
heat, hunger and thirst, as the monastery accounts relate. He often
went deep into the forest, where he prayed to God in solitude. Once,
when he was following a path in the forest, he heard a faint moaning.
He looked around and saw a weary Polish man reclining against a tree
trunk, with his sabre beside him. He had strayed from his regiment
and had become lost in the forest. In a barely audible voice this
enemy, who might have been one of the destroyers of the monastery,
asked for a drink of water. Love and sympathy surged up within the
monk. With a prayer to the Lord, he plunged his staff into the ground.
At once, a fresh spring of water gushed forth, and he gave the dying
118

man a drink. When both the external and internal life of the monastery
had been restored, St. Onuphrius withdrew from the general monastic
life, and having entrusted the guidance of the brethren to one of his
disciples, he took the schema with the name Macarius. For the place
of his solitude, he chose a spot along the upper tributary of the River
Zhabynka. About one verst separated the mouth of the tributary and
the banks of the River Oka. The ascetical struggles of St. Macarius
were concealed not only from the world, but also from his beloved
brethren. He died in 1623 at the age of eighty-four, at the hour when
the roosters start to crow. He was buried opposite the gates of the
monastery on January 22, the commemoration of St. Timothy, where a
church was later built and named for him. The Iconographic Originals
has preserved a description of St. Macarius in his last years: he had
gray hair with a small beard, and over his monastic riassa he wore the
schema. Veneration of St. Macarius was established at the end of the
seventeenth century, or the beginning of the eighteenth. According to
Tradition, his relics remained uncovered, but by 1721 they were
interred in a crypt. In the eighteenth century the monastery became
deserted. The memory of his deeds and miracles was so completely
forgotten, that when the incorrupt relics of the monastery's founder
were uncovered during the construction of the church of St. Nicholas
in 1816, a general panikhida was served over them. The restoration of
the liturgical commemoration of St. Macarius of Belev is credited to
Igumen Jonah, who was born on January 22 (the Feast of St.
Macarius), and who began his own monastic journey at the Optina
monastery not far from the Zhabyn monastery. In 1875 Igumen Jonah
became head of the Zhabyn monastery. His request to re-establish the
Feast of St. Macarius was strengthened by the petition of the people
of Belev, who through the centuries had preserved their faith in the
saint. On January 22, 1888, the annual commemoration of St.
Macarius of Zhabyn was resumed. In 1889, a church dedicated to St.
119

Macarius was built at his tomb. Igumen Jonah, who lived at the
monastery and actually participated in the construction, decided that
in addition to the building project, the holy relics of St. Macarius
would also be uncovered. When everything was on the point of
readiness, St. Macarius appeared to the participants and sternly
warned them that they should not proceed with their intention, or
they would be punished. The memory of this appearance was
reverently preserved among the monks of the monastery.

TODAY IS JANUARY 23

The Holy Saint Hieromartyr Clement


Bishop of Ancyra
FEAST DAY

Saint Hieromartyr Clement, who was from Ancyra in Galatia, was the
son of an unbelieving father, but a believing mother whose name was
Sophia. At first he lived as a monk, later he became the bishop of his
city. He suffered so many things in confession of the Faith in Christ,
that the time of his sufferings and struggles stretched out over a
period of twenty-eight years. Finally he and Saint Agathangelus (who
was from Rome) were beheaded together during the reign of
Diocletian and Maximian, in the year 296.

120

TODAY IS JANUARY 24

Saint Xenia the Fool for Christ of St. Petersburg


FEAST DAY

Our righteous Mother Xenia of St. Petersburg was born about the year
1730. She was married to a Colonel named Andrew; when she was
twenty-six years old her husband died suddenly, having been drinking
with his friends. Left a childless widow, Xenia gave away all that she
had and vanished from St. Petersburg for eight years; it is believed
that she spent this time in a hermitage, learning the spiritual life.
When she returned to Saint Petersburg, she wore her husbands
military clothing, and would answer only to the name Andrew, that is,
the name of her late husband. She took up the life of a homeless
wanderer, and was abused by many as insane; she bore this with
great patience, crucifying the carnal mind through the mockery she
endured, and praying for her husbands soul. She was given great gifts
of prayer and prophecy, and often foretold things to come; in 1796 she
foretold the death of Empress Catherine II. Having lived forty-five
years after her husbands death, she reposed in peace at the age of
seventy one, about the year 1800. Her grave became such a source of
miracles, and so many came to take soil from it as a blessing, that it
was often necessary to replace the soil; when a stone slab was
placed over her grave, this too disappeared over time, piece by piece.
Saint Xenia is especially invoked for help in finding employment,
lodging, or a spouse.
121

The Gravestone of St. Xenia


The only record of "vital statistics" that has been left to us
concerning Blessed Xenia is the epitaph on her gravestone: In the

name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here rests the body of the
servant of God, Xenia Grigorievna, Wife of the imperial chorister,
Colonel Andrei Theodorovich Petrov. Widowed at the age of 26, a
pilgrim for 45 years. She lived a total of 71 years. She was known by
the name Andrei Theodorovich. May whoever knew me pray for my
soul that his own may be saved. Amen.

Blessed St. Xenia was a "fool-for-Christ," who, for 45 years, wandered


around the streets of St. Petersburg, Russia. For the first 26 years of
her life, Xenia had lived quite comfortably. However, after her
husband suddenly died, the Holy Spirit led her to give away all her
possessions to the poor. She put on her dead husbands clothes and
called herself by his name, saying that Xenia had died. Homeless, she
122

lived in the streets all year round for 45 years, owning only the ragged
clothes on her back. The Holy Spirit also led her to give away her
mind and her heart to God. By giving everything away, she became
rich in humility, simplicity, self-denial, kindness, and deep and
profound love for all. By pretending to be insane, she showed how
insane the world and its values are. By denying herself the comforts
of a home, a bed, decent clothes, food, and the appearance of being
"normal," she helps us to examine what really is important in life, and
what really is "normal." By her self-denial, Blessed St. Xenia daily died
to her old self and daily lived only for God. She trusted totally that
God would provide for her, as He provides for the birds. During the day
she wandered the streets, dressed in rags, enduring heat and cold,
snow and rain, mocked by people. At night she went out into the
fields and prayed all night, and at other times she spent the night at
the Smolensk Cemetery. It was at this cemetery that she helped the
workmen build the Church of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God
(photo below), by secretly carrying bricks up the scaffold during the
night.

One night the workmen hid to find out who was helping them, and
discovered that it was "Crazy Xenia." Whenever someone gave her
alms, she immediately gave it to the poor. As the years passed, the
Holy Spirit filled Xenia with greater riches, and she became
increasingly blessed. After a while, some people started to notice that
"crazy Xenia" wasnt so crazy after all, but was an instrument of
123

divine grace, to whom had been given deep spiritual powers: she
could see into peoples hearts and into the past and future, and
appeared to people in visions. Anyone whom she touched was
blessed. Because she gave up living for herself, she was able to live
for others, helping those in need. She especially helped families,
children and marriages, as she continues to do today. After she fell
asleep in the Lord, around 1803, she continued to help those who
asked for her assistance. Throughout the 19th century, tens of
thousands of people came every year to her grave, and countless
miracles occurred. In 1902 a chapel was built over her grave in the
Smolensk Cemetery, located on the western end of Vasiliev Island in
St. Petersburg. This chapel has now been reconstructed (photo
below), again welcoming the pilgrims who come there every day, and
the miracles continue to occur.

For 200 years people have been turning to the Blessed one, and she
has been helping them. Her great spiritual power and her deep love
for people transcend the grave and are manifested daily. One of the
most popular of Gods "chosen ones," her canonization in 1988 was
official recognition of what the faithful had long witnessed and
experienced.

124

TODAY IS JANUARY 25

Saint Gregory the Theologian


FEAST DAY

Saint Gregory the Theologian (329-390) was born in 329 AD in Arianzo,


town of Cappadocia, by Gregory, Bishop of Nazianzus and Nonnus. He
has two brothers: the Caesarea and known for piety of Gorgon sister.
Nazianzus In, taught elementary education, while the average in
Caesarea, where he meets a classmate Basil. Then go near famous
teachers of rhetoric in Palestine and Alexandria, and finally at the
University of Athens. The study lasted 13 years (from 17 to 30 years).
Following his studies in Athens Gregory returns to his homeland he
was offered seat yet overwhelming Professor. There, his father,
Bishop Nazianzus, the ordained presbyter. But St. Gregory prefers the
quiet of anachoritiriou at Sea, close to his friend Kingdom for more
exercise in spiritual life. Afterwards, however, from warm entreaties
of his own, he returns home and enters active service of the Church.
At 43 years old, God lifted the episcopal office. Headquarters was the
site of Gennadios which never poimane due Martian inhabitants. But
death comes to hurt his soul, with successive deaths of relatives.
First his brother Caesarea after his sister mermaid, after his father
and finally his mother Nonnus. After these tribulations, the divine
Providence brings him to Constantinople (378), which defends
amazing how Orthodoxy and critical hits Arians, who had flooded
Istanbul.

situation

was

very

difficult.
125

All

the

temples

of

Constantinople was in the hands of the heretics. But the Saint did not
despair. Converts a room in the house that hosted a church and gives
a symbolic name. Calls the church Agia Anastasia sample that
believed in the resurrection of the Orthodox Faith. Races are
dangerous. Heretics Uploaded over the roofs of the houses throw
stones, so the Saint Gregory tested much. In the church of St.
Anastasia utters the famous five theological reasons that gave him
the title of fair Theologian. After this match, Theodosius the Great
highlights

the

Patriarch

of

Constantinople

(381).

The

Second

Ecumenical Council recognized him as President. But a portion of the


bishops antipolitefetai for trivial reasons. Then Gregory, disgusted,
says the resignation, in leaving his native Arianzo peace and ends
with his life, in 390. Much is left of his writings. Of particular interest
are the 408 philosophical poems about 18,000 verses. They are
among the largest spirit of Christianity and of the greatest athletes of
the Orthodox faith. His skull is kept in the Monastery of Vatopedi on
Mount Athos.

TODAY IS JANUARY 26

Saint Xenophon
FEAST DAY

This Saint, a wealthy nobleman of Constantinople, was filled with


piety toward God. He had two sons, Arcadius and John, whom he sent
126

to Beirut to study law. But they were shipwrecked during their


voyage; barely saved, they forsook all things and departed for
Palestine. Saint Xenophon and his wife Mary, ignorant of what had
happened, went in search of their sons. On finding them in Jerusalem,
dressed in the habit of monks, they also took up the monastic life.
During Saint Xenophon life in Jerusalem, he became a great healer
and did many miracles. And thus, having completed their lives in
holiness, they departed for the Lord about the beginning of the sixth
century. Saint Xenophon and his sons reposed at Saint Sabbas
Monastery, and Mary at the Monastery of Saint Theodosius.

TODAY IS JANUARY 27

Saint Peter, Archbishop of Voronezh


FEAST DAY

Archbishop Peter was born on February 18, 1878, On graduating from


the Kazan Theological Academy, in 1902, he served as a teacher in
the Oryol theological seminary. In December, 1917 Vladyka was
arrested for the first time by the Tver Cheka and imprisoned as a
hostage. In May, 1921, Vladyka was arrested for "arousing religious
fanaticism." During an outbreak of typhus, Vladyka fell ill and was
transferred to the hospital of the Trinity skete, where he lay for 14
days. "I do not want to live any longer. The Lord is calling me to
127

Himself." And he wrote this several times. As he was writing "not" for
the last time, his hand fell, and he died. It was January 27.

TODAY IS JANUARY 28

Saint Isaac the Syrian, Bishop of Ninevah


FEAST DAY

Saint Isaac the Syrian, Bishop of Ninevah, lived during the sixth
century. He and his brother entered the monastery of Mar Matthew
near Ninevah and received the monastic tonsure. His learning, virtue,
and ascetic manner of life attracted the notice of the brethren, and
they proposed that he head the monastery. St. Issac did not want this
burden, preferring a life of silence, so he left the monastery to live
alone in the desert. His brother urged him more than once to return to
the monastery, but he would not agree. However, when the fame of
St. Isaac's holy life had spread, he was made Bishop of Ninevah.
Seeing the crude manners and disobedience of the inhabitants of the
city, the saint felt that it was beyond his ability to guide them, and
moreover, he yearned for solitude. Once, two Christians came to him,
asking him to settle a dispute. One man acknowledged that he owed
money to the other, but asked for a short extension. The lender
threatened to bring his debtor to court to force him to pay. St. Isaac,
128

citing the Gospel, asked him to be merciful and give the debtor more
time to pay. The man said, "Leave your Gospel out of this!" St. Isaac
replied, "If you will not submit to Lord's commandments in the Gospel,
then what remains for me to do here?" After only five months as
bishop, St. Isaac resigned his office and went into the mountains to
live with the hermits. Later, he went to the monastery of Rabban
Shabur, where he lived until his death, attaining a high degree of
spiritual perfection. From the early eighth century until the beginning
of the eighteenth century, nothing was known about St. Isaac of Syria
in Europe except for his name and works. Only in 1719 was a
biography of the saint published at Rome, compiled by an anonymous
Arab author. In 1896, more information on St. Isaac came to light. The
learned French soteriologist Abbot Chabot published some eighth
century works on Syrian history by Iezudena, bishop of Barsa, where
the account of St. Isaac the Syrian was found.

TODAY IS JANUARY 29

Martyr Saint Ashot Curapalati


King of of Artanuji
FEAST DAY

In the year 786, St. Ashot, the son of Adarnerse, ascended the throne
of Kartli. From the very beginning of his reign he fought fiercely for
129

the reunification of Georgia. His first step was to take advantage of


the Arab Muslims weariness and banish them from Tbilisi. Three
years passed and, under the leadership of

a new ruler, the

reinvigorated Muslims began to hunt for Ashot. The king was forced to
flee after he delayed taking action against them. The enemy had
again conquered Tbilisi. Ashot was compelled to leave Kartli, and he
departed for Byzantium with his family and small army. The refugees
journeyed as far as Javakheti in southern Georgia and stopped near
Lake Paravani for a rest. But while they were sleeping, a Saracen
army assailed their camp. The kings army was doomed, but God
helped Ashot Kuropalates and his scant army. He bestowed power
upon them, and they defeated an enemy that greatly outnumbered
them. The king was deeply moved by Gods miraculous intervention
and decided that, rather than journeying on to Byzantium as he had
intended, he would remain in the region of Shavshet-Klarjeti. At that
time southern Georgia was suffering great calamities. A cholera
epidemic intensified the struggles of a people devastated by a
ruthless enemy. Very few had survived, but that powerless and
wearied remnant gladly received Ashot Kuropalates as their new
leader, and the king began to restore the region at once. Ashot
Kuropalates restored Artanuji Castle, which had originally been built
by King Vakhtang Gorgasali and later ravaged by the Arab general
Marwan the Deaf. Ashot founded a city nearby and proclaimed it the
residence

of

the

Bagrationi

royal

family

of

Klarjeti.

He

also

constructed a church in honor of Sts. Peter and Paul. As it is written,


God granted Ashot Kuropalates great strength and many victories.
The region of Klarjeti took on a new life, and through the efforts of St.
Grigol of Khandzta and his companions, the former wasteland was
transformed into a borough bustling with churches, monasteries, and
schools. Georgian noblemen soon began traveling to Klarjeti to forge
their nations future with King Ashot and the other God-fearing
130

leaders. Ashot Kuropalates was not only a leader who campaigned


vigorously for the unification of Georgiahe was truly a godly-minded
man. With great honor and joy he was the host of Fr. Grigol of
Khandzta, a heavenly man and an earthly angel. Fr. Grigol blessed
Ashots kingdom and his inheritance. Upon those who labored at
Khandzta Monastery, Ashot Kuropalates bestowed the best lands,
including Shatberdi, to serve as rural estates, which would supply
food for the monastery. His children, Adarnerse, Bagrat, and Guaram,
would later contribute much of their own fortune to the revival of the
monasteries

in

the

Klarjeti

Wilderness.

(Udabno

in

Georgian.

Translated as wilderness, these deserted places where hermits


made their abodes often attracted monks and pious laymen as the
fame of these holy men spread. Over the centuries, with the
foundation of numerous monasteries, these deserts became veritable
cities and only retained the name wilderness in a figurative sense.)
But after some time the usually virtuous King Ashot fell in love with a
certain woman. He forgot his honor, his achievements, and his loyalty
to God and the nation and took her to Artanuji Castle, an estate that
had been built for the queen. St. Grigol, however, heard about the
kings adulterous relationship and became exceedingly sorrowful. He
confronted the king about his behavior, and the desperate Ashot
promised to leave the woman, but he could not bring himself to fulfill
his promise. So Fr. Grigol took her to Mere Monastery and turned her
over to the abbess, Mother Pebronia, without telling Ashot. Upon
hearing what had happened, King Ashot pleaded with Mother Pebronia
to return the woman, but the abbess refused. At long last Ashot
bowed his head to the nun and repented, saying, Blessed is the man
who is no longer alive to this world. The king rediscovered his love
for God and his country, and he prepared to return to Kartli. But his
plans were foiled when a certain Muslim warrior named Khalil
invaded, conquering the lands of Kartli, Hereti, and Kvemo Kartli.
131

Ashot sent his men to assemble an army, but before the troops had
been gathered, the Saracens attacked and forced them to flee. The
king then traveled to Nigali Gorge with the intent of enlarging his
army. Some of the draftees turned out to be traitors, and when the
king discovered the betrayal, it was already too late. He hid in a
church, but the godless men found him and stabbed him to death in
the

sanctuary.

They

murdered

him

on

the

altar,

as

though

slaughtering a sacrificial lamb, and his blood remains there to this


day, writes Sumbat, the son of Davit, in his book Lives of the

Bagrationis. Thus the first Bagrationi king, a believer, upon whom the
inheritance of the Georgian people was established, was also a
martyr. The Georgians took revenge on the murderers of their beloved
king. When the people of Doliskana heard that Ashot had been killed,
they pursued his murderers and killed them near the Chorokhi River.
Venerable Grigol and the Georgian people wept bitterly over the loss
of their king and hope. St. Ashots holy relics were buried in the
Church of Sts. Peter and Paul that he himself had built.

TODAY IS JANUARY 30

Blessed Saint Peter, the King of Bulgaria


FEAST DAY

Saint Peter, King of Bulgaria, was the son of the militant Bulgarian
prince Simeon. St. Peter was distinguished for his Christian piety, and
he often turned to St John of Rila, asking his prayers, spiritual
132

guidance and advice.

King Peter concluded peace with Byzantium on

terms advantageous for Bulgaria. He also gained recognition from the


Patriarch of Constantinople for the autonomy of the Bulgarian Church,
and the affirmation of a Patriarchal throne in Bulgaria, benefiting all
the Bulgarian Church. St. Peter aided in the successful extirpation of
the Bogomil heresy in his lands. He was martyred in the year 967 for
his belief in St. John of Rila, at fifty-six years of age.

TODAY IS JANUARY 31

Saint Theodota in Egypt


FEAST DAY

St. Theodota was the thirteen-year-old daughter of St. Athanasia. She


and her two sisters were arrested with their mother because they
were Christians. St. Theoctiste was fifteen, and St. Eudoxia was
eleven. Sts. Cyrus and John hastened to the prison to help them, for
they were concerned that the women might renounce Christ when
faced with torture. Sts. Cyrus and John gave them courage to endure
what lay before them. Learning of this, the ruler of the city arrested
Sts. Cyrus and John, and seeing their steadfast and fearless
confession of faith in Christ, he brought Athanasia and her daughters
to witness their torture. The tyrant did not refrain from any form of
torture against the holy martyrs. The women were not frightened by
the sufferings of Sts. Cyrus and John, but courageously continued to
133

confess Christ. They were flogged and then beheaded, receiving their
crowns of martyrdom.

INSIDE AN ORTHORDOX CHURCH

134

135

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 1

Martyr Saint Tryphon


FEAST DAY

The Martyr Tryphon was born in Phrygia, one of the districts of Asia
Minor, in the village of Lampsacus. From his early years the Lord
granted him the power to cast out demons and to heal various
maladies. He once saved the inhabitants of his native city from
starvation. St. Tryphon, by the power of his prayer, turned back a
plague of locusts that were devouring the grain and devastating the
fields. St. Tryphon gained particular fame by casting out an evil spirit
from the daughter of the Roman emperor Gordian (238-244). Helping
everyone in distress, he asked only one thing from them: faith in
Jesus Christ, by Whose grace he healed them. When the emperor
Decius (249-251) assumed the imperial throne, he began a fierce
persecution of Christians. Someone reported to the commander
Aquilinus that St. Tryphon was boldly preaching faith in Christ, and
that he led many to Baptism. The saint was arrested and subjected to
interrogation, during which he fearlessly confessed his faith. He was
subjected to harsh tortures: they beat him with clubs, raked his body
with iron hooks, they scorched his flesh with fire, and led him through
the city, after iron nails were hammered into his feet. St. Tryphon
bravely endured all the torments without complaint. Finally, he was
condemned to beheading with a sword. The holy martyr prayed before
his execution, thanking God for strengthening him in his sufferings.
He also asked the Lord to bless those who should call upon his name
136

for help. Just as the soldiers raised the sword over the head of the
holy martyr, he surrendered his soul into the hands of God. This event
occurred in the city of Nicea in the year 250. Christians wrapped the
holy body of the martyr in a clean shroud and wanted to bury him in
the city of Nicea, where he suffered, but St. Tryphon in a vision
commanded them to take his body to his native land to the village of
Lampsada. Later on, the relics of St. Tryphon were transferred to
Constantinople, and then to Rome. In Russia, St. Tryphon is regarded
as the patron saint of birds. There is a story that when Tsar Ivan the
Terrible was out hunting, his falconer carelessly allowed the Tsar's
favorite falcon to fly away. The Tsar ordered the falconer Tryphon
Patrikeiev to find the bird within three days, or else he would be put
to death. Tryphon searched all through the forest, but without luck.
On the third day, exhausted by long searching, he returned to Moscow
to the place called Marinaya Grove. Overcome with weariness, he lay
down to rest, fervently praying to his patron saint, the Martyr Tryphon,
for help. In a dream he saw a youth on a white horse, holding the
Tsar's falcon on his hand. The youth said, "Take the lost bird, go to
the Tsar and do not grieve." When he awakened, the falconer actually
spotted the falcon on a pine tree. He took it to the Tsar and told him
about the miraculous help he received from the holy Martyr Tryphon.
Grateful to St. Tryphon for saving his life, Tryphon Patrikeiev built a
chapel on the spot where the saint appeared. Later on, he also built a
church dedicated to the holy Martyr Tryphon in Moscow. The holy
martyr is greatly venerated in the Russian Orthodox Church as the
heavenly protector of Moscow. Many Russian icons depict the saint
holding a falcon on his arm.

137

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 2

Holy Martyr Saint Jordan of Trebizond


FEAST DAY

Slain by the sword at Constantinople in 1650

Saint Jordan was born in Trebizond. He worked as a coppersmith in


Constantinople. The Saint was once spending some time with some
Turks of the same trade. One of the Turks made fun of Saint Nicholas.
Jordan responded by making fun of the prophet Muhammad. The next
day he was told that the Turks had decreed death to anyone who
mocked their prophet. Jordan took refuge in the house of a Turkish
friend but his friend later gave him up as he feared the Turkish
authorities. At his trial the Turkish judge tried to convince Jordan to
convert to Islam to save his life. Jordan confessed Christ without any
fear and welcomed the death sentence with joy. He was allowed to
return to his workshop to pay off any debts. He distributed his
remaining assets to churches, monasteries and orphans. St. Jordan
was beheaded on the 2nd of February 1650.

138

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 3

Saint Prince Roman of Uglich


FEAST DAY

The Holy Right-Believing Roman, son of Prince Vladimir and Princess


Photina of Uglich, and nephew of St. Basil (Basilko) of Rostov (March
4), was born on October 1, 1235. Upon the death of his father (in 1248)
and his older brother Andrew (in 1261), St. Roman, at the age of
twenty-six, took upon himself the governance of Uglich and became a
father to his subjects. He established a poor-house and took in the
destitute, who came to him from everywhere. In the principality he
built fifteen more churches. St. Roman was present every day at the
divine services, and he often conversed with pious monks. After the
death of his wife in 1280, he devoted himself entirely too ascetic
exploits of fasting, prayer and works of righteousness. The holy
prince died peacefully on February 3, 1285 and was buried in the
Church of the Transfiguration in Uglich. In 1486, the relics of St.
Roman were found to be incorrupt and were transferred into the new
cathedral Church of the Transfiguration. In the year 1595 with the
blessing of Patriarch Job in consequence of the fame concerning
miracles the relics were witnessed to by the Metropolitan (later
Patriarch) St. Hermogenes (February 17), and St. Roman was
numbered among the saints. In 1609, the holy relics were burned
along with the church during an invasion by the Poles.

139

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 4

Saint Isidore of Pelusium


FEAST DAY

Saint Isidore of Pelusium lived during the fourth-fifth centuries. He


was a native of Alexandria, and was raised among pious Christians.
He was a relative of Theophilus, Archbishop of Alexandria, and of his
successor, St. Cyril (January 18). While still a youth he quit the world
and withdrew to Egypt to Mount Pelusium, which became the site of
his

monastic

efforts.

St.

Isidore's

spiritual

wisdom

and

strict

asceticism, combined with his broad learning and innate knowledge


of the human soul, enabled him to win the respect and love of his
fellow monks in a short time. They chose him as their head and had
him ordained a priest. Following the example of St. John Chrysostom,
whom

he

had

managed

to

see

and

hear

during

trip

to

Constantinople, St. Isidore devoted himself primarily to Christian


preaching, that "practical wisdom" which, in his own words, is both
"the foundation of the edifice and the edifice itself", while logic is "its
embellishment, and contemplation its crown." He was a teacher and a
willingly provided counsel for anyone who turned to him for spiritual
encouragement, whether it was a simple man, a dignitary, a bishop,
the Patriarch of Alexandria, or even the emperor. He left behind about
10,000 letters, of which 2,090 have survived. A large portion of these
letters reveal profound theological thought and contain morally
edifying interpretations of Holy Scripture. St. Photius (February 6)
140

calls Isidore a model of priestly and ascetical life, and also a master
of style. St. Isidore's love for St. John Chrysostom resulted in his
support of St. John when he was persecuted by the empress Eudoxia
and Archbishop Theophilus. After the death of St. John, St. Isidore
persuaded Theophilus' successor St. Cyril to inscribe the name of St.
John Chrysostom into the Church diptychs as a confessor. Through
the initiative of St. Isidore the Third Ecumenical Council was Isidore
the Third Ecumenical Council was convened at Ephesus (431), at
which the false teaching of Nestorius concerning the person of Jesus
Christ was condemned. St. Isidore lived into old age and died around
the year 436. The Church historian Evagrius (sixth century) writes of
St. Isidore, "his life seemed to everyone the life of an angel upon the
earth."

Another

historian,

Nicephorus

Callistus

(ninth

century),

praises St. Isidore thus, "He was a vital and inspired pillar of monastic
rules and divine vision, and as such he presented a very lofty image of
most fervent example and spiritual teaching."

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 5

Saint Theodosius, Archbishop of Chernigov


FEAST DAY

Saint

Theodosius,

Archbishop

of

Chernigov,

was

born

in

the

seventeenth century at the beginning of the decade of the thirties in


141

Podolsk governance. He was descended from a noble family, the


Polonitsky-Uglitskys. His parents were the priest Nikita and Maria.
The saint was taught Christian piety in his parents' home, and this
piety remained with him throughout his life. From childhood he was
distinguished by a fervent love for God and zeal for the Church. The
innate abilities of the youth came to light in the Kiev Brotherhood
school

at

Kiev's

Theophany

monastery. The

Kiev

Brotherhood

Theophany school was the chief center in the struggle of Orthodoxy


against the assaults of Catholic clergy, particularly the Jesuits. St.
Theodosius grew to spiritual maturity near the relics of Sts. Anthony
and Theodosius and other God-pleasers of the Kiev Caves, and he
tried to imitate their holy life as much as he could. He devoted all his
free time to prayer, meditation on God, and the reading of Holy
Scripture. Upon receiving his education, the future hierarch received
monastic tonsure at the Kiev Caves Lavra with the name Theodosius,
in honor of St. Theodosius of the Caves (May 3). Metropolitan
Dionysius (Balaban) of Kiev made him archdeacon of Kiev's cathedral
of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) , and then appointed him steward of
the episcopal household. Soon he left Kiev and went to the distant
Krupitsky monastery near Baturino (in the Chernigov diocese), which
was famed for its strict monastic life. There he was ordained to the
holy priesthood, but remained there only a short time. In 1662, St.
Theodosius was appointed Igumen of the Korsun monastery in Kiev
diocese, and in the year 1664 he was made head of the ancient KievVydubitsky monastery. This monastery had fallen into the hands of
the Uniates and Poles at the beginning of the seventeenth century
and was in complete ruin. Thanks to the energy and initiative of St.
Theodosius, the Vydubitsky Mikhailovsk monastery was quickly
restored. He was particularly concerned with the order of church
services. He formed an excellent choir, which was famed not only in
Little Russia, but also in Moscow. St. Theodosius sent his singers to
142

Moscow in 1685 to instruct their choirs in Kievan chant. As a strict


ascetic himself, St. Theodosius was concerned with the spiritual
growth of his monks. He founded a small skete on the island of
Mikhailovschina, not far from the monastery, for brethren wishing to
live in solitude. He appointed the hieromonk Job (Opalinsky), one of
the most zealous monks of his monastery, to organize and administer
the skete. When Archbishop Lazar became locum tenens of Kiev's
Metropolitan See in 1689, he appointed St. Theodosius as his vicar in
Kiev, while he remained at Chernigov. In his capacity as vicar of the
locum tenens of the Kiev Metropolitan See, St. Theodosius had an
active role in many churchly events. In 1685 he participated with the
right

of

decisive

vote

in

the

election

of

Bishop

Gideon

(Chetverinsky) as Metropolitan of Kiev, and he was sent to Moscow


with news of this event with Igumen Jerome (Dubin) of Pereyaslavl .
In Moscow, both representatives were received with honor and
esteem. Indeed, the result of this delegation was the reuniting of the
Kiev Metropolitan See with the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1688 St.
Theodosius

was

appointed

monastery,

replacing

the

archimandrite
deceased

of

Chernigov's

Archimandrite

Eletsy

Joannicius

(Golyatovsky). In appointing St. Theodosius, Archbishop Lazar told


him to spare no effort in placing the Eletsy monastery in good order.
This monastery had not yet been set aright after the expulsion of the
Jesuits and Dominicans, and it was in great disorder. Through the
efforts of St. Theodosius, in his two or three years as igumen, the
monastery's revenues and properties increased, the church of the
Dormition was repaired, and the Elets Icon (February 5) was
enshrined there. Because of his poor health, Archbishop Lazar wished
to see St. Theodosius consecrated to the episcopate, seeing in the
saint a worthy successor to himself. On September 11, 1692 the
election of St. Theodosius as Archbishop of Chernigov was confirmed,
and he was consecrated in the Dormition cathdral of the Moscow
143

Kremlin two days later. Little information regarding St. Theodosius's


administration of the Chernigov diocese has been preserved. The
saint worked incessantly to raise the level of true Christian piety in
his flock. He also focused on maintaining old monasteries, and
founding new communities. At the very beginning of his episcopate,
the

Pecheniksk

women's

monastery

was

established

with

his

blessing, and he himself consecrated the monastery church in honor


of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. In 1694, a skete was
founded near Liubech. The same year, at the Domnitsky men's
monastery, the saint consecrated a temple in honor of the Nativity of
the Most Holy Theotokos. In the summer of 1695, he consecrated a
majestic temple in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos, on the summit
of Boldino Hill, near the ancient monastery of St. Elias. Under St.
Theodosius there was a special enthusiasm for and strengthening of
monasticism in the Chernigov diocese. The saint also devoted much
attention to the clergy, and he tried to choose worthy candidates for
the priesthood. He also encouraged the pastoral education of the
Chernigov clergy. He invited learned monks from Kiev, among whom
was St. John (Maximovitch), the future Metropolitan of Tobolsk (June
10), and also a helper and successor of St. Theodosius in organizing
the Chernigov clergy school. Strict uprightness in regard to clergy and
flock, deep compassion, concern and Christian love of peace were
distinguishing features in the activity of St. Theodosius. Not only did
the Orthodox turn to him for help and advice, but even persons of
other confessions. St. Theodosius did not remain with his Chernigov
flock very long. Sensing the approach of death, he summoned the
administrator

of

the

Briansk

Svensk

monastery,

St.

John

(Maximovitch), and appointed him Archimandrite of the Chernigov


Elets monastery. St. Theodosius died on February 5, 1696, and was
buried in Chernigov's Sts. Boris and Gleb cathedral church, in a
special

crypt

near

the

right

cleros.
144

His

successor

St.

John

(Maximovitch),

who

was

healed

of

grievous

illness

by

St.

Theodosius, later placed a stone plaque over his grave with a poetic
inscription in gratitude for the saint's help. The special grace which
St. Theodosius attained is shown by his ascetic life and his
assistance to all who turn to him in prayer.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 6

Saint Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople


FEAST DAY

As for the thrice-blessed Photius, the great and most resplendent


Father and teacher of the Church, the Confessor of the Faith and
Equal to the Apostles, he lived during the years of the emperors
Michael (the son of Theophilus), Basil the Macedonian, and Leo his
son. He was the son of pious parents, Sergius and Irene, who suffered
for the Faith under the Iconoclast Emperor Theophilus; he was also a
nephew of Saint Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople. He was born in
Constantinople, where he excelled in the foremost imperial ministries,
while ever practicing a virtuous and godly life. An upright and
honorable man of singular learning and erudition, he was raised to the
apostolic, ecumenical, and patriarchal throne of Constantinople in the
year 857. The many struggles that this thrice-blessed one undertook
for the Orthodox Faith against the Manichaeans, the Iconoclasts, and
other heretics, and the attacks and assaults that he endured from
145

Nicholas I, the haughty and ambitious Pope of Rome, and the great
persecutions

and

distresses

he

suffered,

are

beyond

number.

Contending against the Latin error of the filioque, that is, the doctrine
that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son, he
demonstrated clearly with his Mystagogy on the Holy Spirit how the
filioque destroys the unity and equality of the Trinity. He has left us
many theological writings, panegyric homilies, and epistles, including
one to Boris, the Sovereign of Bulgaria, in which he set forth for him
the history and teachings of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. Having
tended the Church of Christ in holiness and in an evangelical manner,
and with fervent zeal having rooted out all the tares of every alien
teaching, he departed to the Lord in the Monastery of the Armenians
on February 6, 891.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 7

Holy Father Saint Parthenius


Bishop of Lampsacus
FEAST DAY

He was an illiterate fisherman, but always listened carefully to the


readings of Holy Scripture in church, and strove to put their teaching
into practice. Whatever he earned from his trade he gave to the poor,
146

keeping back nothing for himself. His charity became so well-known


that Philetus, Bishop of Melitopolis, ordained him to the priesthood,
charging him to travel throughout the diocese visiting Christians.
Parthenius fulfilled his mission admirably, and his many miracles and
healings even raising the dead to life showed that divine favor
rested on him. Ascalus, Metropolitan of Cyzicus, made him Bishop of
Lampsacus, at that time an almost completely pagan city. By virtue of
his preaching, prayer and fasting, St. Parthenius in time converted the
whole city to Christ. Miracles of healing poured forth from the holy
bishop so reliably (according to the Synaxarion) the city's doctors
became superfluous. Demons took flight at the Saint's approach.
Once, when he commanded a demon to depart from a poor man, the
spirit begged him, 'Give me a place to live, even swine!' 'No,' the
bishop replied, 'But you may come and dwell in me!' The demon fled,
crying as though burned, 'How can I enter God's house? Great is the
power of the Christians!' Once Parthenius visited Heraclea in Thrace,
whose Bishop Hypatian was extremely ill. The Saint revealed to the
bishop that avarice was the true cause of his ailment. 'Give to the
poor the goods that you are withholding from them, and you will
recover.' The Metropolitan had himself carried to the church on a
stretcher and publicly gave all his possessions to the poor. Three
days later he was completely cured. On leaving the city, Parthenius
told the Metropolitan that his own death was near and, soon after
returning to Lampsacus, reposed in peace.

147

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 8

Saint Theodore the Commander & Great Martyr


FEAST DAY

The Holy Martyr Theodore was from Euchaita of Galatia and dwelt in
Heraclea of Pontus. He was a renowned Commander and General in
the military, and the report came to the Emperor Licinius that he was
a Christian and abominated the idols. Licinius therefore sent certain
men to him from Nicomedia, to honor him and ask him to appear
before him. Through them, however, Saint Theodore sent back a
message that it was necessary for various reasons, that Licinius
come to Heraclea. Licinius, seeing in this a hope of turning Saint
Theodore away from Christ did as was asked of him. When the
Emperor came to Heraclea, Saint Theodore met him with honor, and
the Emperor in turn gave Theodore his hand, believing that through
him he would be able to draw the Christians to the worship of his
idols. Seated upon his throne in the midst of the people, he publicly
bade Theodore offer sacrifice to the gods. But Theodore asked that
the emperor entrust him with the most venerable of his gods, those of
gold and silver, that he might take them home and himself attend
upon them that evening, promising that the following day he would
honor them in public. The Emperor, filled with joy at these tidings,
gave command that Theodore's request be fulfilled. When the Saint
had taken the idols home, he broke them in pieces and distributed the
gold and silver to the poor by night. The next day a centurion named
148

Maxentius told Licinius that he had seen a pauper pass by carrying


the head of Artemis. Saint Theodore, far from repenting of this,
confessed Christ boldly. Licinius, in an uncontainable fury, had the
Saint put to many torments, then crucified. While upon the cross, the
holy Martyr was further tormented -- his privy parts were cut off, he
was shot with arrows, his eyes were put out, and he was left on the
cross to die. The next day Licinius sent men to take his corpse and
cast it into the sea; but they found the Saint alive and perfectly
whole. Through this, many believed in Christ. Seeing his own men
turning to Christ, and the city in an uproar, Licinius had Theodore
beheaded. The Saint's holy relics were returned to his ancestral home
on June 8.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 9

Bishop Saint Pagkratios Tayromenias


FEAST DAY

The Holy Martyr Bishop Saint Pagkratios Tayromenias came from


Antioch and lived in the years of the Apostles. Young still, visited with
his parents Jerusalem. After the death of his parents, what Pagratios
wanted to devote himself wholeheartedly to Christ and to the
spreading of the Gospel. How, though, would be that, with such
fortune were inherited from his parents? The solution found in the
149

words of the Lord: " ,


, ,
" . i" i.e. "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your
possessions and re-assigned to the poor, and you will have treasure in
heaven. And come follow me." Indeed, Pagratios freed the slaves, all
remaining wealth he distributed to poor, and free from any biotic care,
dedicated homself to spreading the Gospel. Followed by the Apostle
Peter at Antioch, he was appointed Bishop of Tayromenioy in Sicily.
As this he was a perfect pastor, teaching and ministering to with love
and virtue of the flock. Attracted by the preaching of the crowd of
people in the light of divine knowledge, and yet this ruler of Boniface.
Also he has founded Pro-target in this town and Church. However, the
Jews and the pagans, watching with envy the Evangelical work of
Pankration, killed him, while he prayed for them.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 10

Miracle of Saint Haralambos - Miracle at Filiatra


FEAST DAY

(Auto translated from Greek)


Those were the dark years of the German occupation. The German
headquarters, in Tripoli, learned about a sabotage, the rebels who
attempted to close Filiatra and decided to punish them hard partisan.
The general order sent from the headquarters of Tripoli to the German
150

Commander Filiatron Kounster and he in his turn, announced to the


officers and soldiers. According to the order the next day at 6 in the
morning the Germans killed some notables of Filiatra, one thousand
five hundred men sent them prisoners in Germany, and subsequently
burned all the houses in the city. Archimandrite Theodore Kotsakis,
Filiatrinos, who served in the Tripoli Temple, learned it, and fell into
deep grief. How to save his homeland from the terrible evil? He got a
Greek who knew German and was directed to the office of general.
From the hallway could be heard shouting, swearing, upset. They
understood that the atmosphere was electrifying. A Greek woman,
who was there, advised them to leave as soon as possible to avoid
them and execute them on the spot. Not fit most any human power.
The pious preacher then immediately alerted all Filiatrinous who lived
in

Tripoli,

pray

wholeheartedly

to

Saint

Charalambos

himself

overnight with embonate vigilant prayer. So did also the inhabitants


of Filiatra, who saw the extraordinary concern nocturnal movements
of Germans and understand how a great evil omen. Not disregard the
agonizing prayers the loving protector and patron Saint Charalambos
the most. At night, while sleeping soundly, the German commander,
was presented in front of the bed as solemn Orthodox Liturgy with His
priestly vestments and white long beard. The venerable Elder said
with hilarity, Listen, my child, the orders received, not the execution.
The city protects me. Saint soon disappeared and Kounster, he woke
briefly worried from the curious visitor thought he was dreaming and
fell off the other side to sleep. But after a while, again presented the
Saint in his sleep and says, What did I tell you to do. Not to execute
the order, and I will take care not to be punished. Woke up again, sit
up in bed for a while, went something to think about, but stopped.
Nurtured as was Kounster with sterile spirit of Protestantism, that
does not honor the saints and did not believe in miracles, and
hardened by the godless spirit of Nazism, did not decide to obey the
151

saint. Also knew well that did not fit disobedience to the orders of his
superiors. He slept again, when for the third time the venerable priest
appeared and wanted to convince him, assuring him of his safety, I
told you not to be afraid for your life. I would not care and you will be
punished. It will keep you and all your soldiers, and go back to your
homes without anyone to get you anything. He had not yet bent the
German Commander of Filiatra and Saint did not stop trying to rescue
his flock. Horrible dreams shook the rest of German night. Oimoges
heard lamentations and tortured by humans. Skiachtera ghosts
reached him, like female figures, grieving and give him curses for the
slaughter of their children. And even saw black clouds coming out of
the room and go up and shaded the sun and darkened the whole camp
of the Germans. The soldiers and horrified over the fear made the sign
of the cross. And we all ran behind the olive trees to hide. Kounster
stood trembling and confused. He remembered that he had left behind
family. The feeling of humanity awakened briefly in and began to
contemplate: Why are wars, people being killed and left athaftoi, like
dogs, why burn houses and estates and in a moment destroyed the
labors and sweats a whole life? Pondered for a while and again
prevailed in the spirit of fascism, I said I would burn the town and
will burn! His head felt heavy and dizzy from the interrupted sleep
and terrible dreams. He closed his eyes to sleep again, when she
appeared for the fourth time St. Charalambos and says urgently and
insistently, Watch out! The city will not be burned and the
inhabitants will be arrested. Are innocent. Do you hear? Sprang up
confused. He believe anymore that someone saint, patron of Filiatra,
trying to thwart their plan barbaric. With hands trembling, grabbed the
phone and called the Siratigeio in Tripoli. With timid voice began to
report to the General Governor of Peloponnese nightmarish night, and
spent the odd intervention of the saint. He was going to put the
voices, that definitely needs to be executed the order, again hum and
152

haw. What had happened? The evening was presented by the saint
and the General Commander of Tripoli, exactly as described and the
Officer of Filiatra and given the same instruction. Finally relented and
forth amazing coincidence dream and ordered, Written. Inhibit the
destruction of the city. Come immediately before me tomorrow noon.
The city of Filiatra saved. The joy that filled the hearts of all, as
announced the cancellation of resolute destruction, not described.
Hugged each other and solemnly poured on the streets, market
squares. The German Commander Filiatron called morning two priests
and told them their plans and rescue operation of the Holy Priest.
Asked to learn, saints protected their city and to the accompaniment
of priests and two other soldiers, took the turn all the churches of
Filiatra. Started by Saint John, Saint Nicholas, Saint Athanasius and
eventually went to the Church of Our Lady. Kounster sought to
recognize the saint who spoke repeatedly in his sleep. When he
entered the temple and saw the Virgin Mary at a shrine, and the icon
of St. Charalambous, he was wholly overwhelmed. He recognized the
venerable nocturnal visitor and was embarrassed about his infidelity,
and his repeatedly stubborn refusals. He understood that the
Orthodox faith is alive and that the saints are not just decorative
icons. He covered his face in his hands and said some prayers in his
own language. With ecstasy and holy shiver attendees priests and
laity observed the scene, and when he finished his prayer, said with
emotion of the vision of Saint Charalambos, and its many wonders.
When it was learned throughout the city in pansostiko this miracle of
Saint Charalambos rushed everyone to worship the great protector
and singing praises of thanks. All day the bells struck festive and
proclaimed the grand Filiatra joy, and for several days multitudes of
Christians from the surrounding villages and neighboring cities
flocked to venerate the miraculous Martyr. Agios Charalambos kept
his promises to the German commandant of Filiatra. Both he and all
153

the men of the garrison, when the war ended, they returned to their
homes without harm. Kounster found again in the warm family nest
with his wife and his children. The shocking incident but impressions
of St. Charalambous, could not be forgotten. Two years later his
family decided to come to Filiatra for the feast of Saint Charalambos.
On the eve he saw him again in his dream and told him to make the
trip, because the residents of Filiatra will accept it with great joy.
Arrived a little late on February 11, that is a day after the solemn
celebration of his memory. When the Filiatrinoe saw him, welcomed
him and were excited to honor him and to celebrate the day. They
sang in church official thanksgiving and continued the celebration
with feasting and plays. And for many years after, the feast day of St.
Charalambos the former commandant of Filiatra were mostly there to
pray with them and thank Filiatrinous with the patrons, who saved
them from the hand fire, massacres and concentration camps; not
one of the evils of war and especially by the dangerous plague of
infidelity.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 11

Blaise the Holy Martyr of Sebastia


FEAST DAY

Saint Blaise was Bishop of Sebastia. Divine grace, through which he


healed the diseases of men and beasts, and especially of infants,
154

made his name famous. He contested for the Faith under Licinius in
the year 316. Saint Blaise is invoked for the healing of throat
ailments.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 12

Saint Anthony the Patriarch of Constantinople


FEAST DAY

Saint Anthony, Patriarch of Constantinople, was a native of Asia, but


lived in Constantinople from his youth. He was born around 829 of rich
and pious parents. After the death of his mother, he entered a
monastery at the age of twelve, where following the example of the
igumen, he spent his nights in prayer and led a strict monastic life.
With the passage of time, and against his will, he was ordained to the
holy priesthood. Later, at the insistence of the Patriarch, he was
made an igumen. Serving in this rank, he tonsured his own father into
monasticism. St. Anthony was distinguished by his mercy, by his love
and concern for the destitute, and he provided generous help to them.
Elevated to the Patriarchal throne at Constantinople in 893, St.
Anthony intensified his care for the destitute, and especially for their
spiritual condition. With the assistance of the emperor Leo the Wise,
Patriarch Anthony did much good for the Church, and encouraged
piety in the people. He also built a monastery over the relics of St.
Kallia (February 12). Despite being stooped over with age, he went
around all the churches, fulfilling the command of the Savior to be the
155

servant of all the brethren. In the year 895, advanced in age, St.
Anthony went peacefully to the Lord.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 13

Saint Zoe
FEAST DAY

Saint Zoe remained on an island for six years in solitude, and then she
gave up her soul to God. Her death was reported by the sailor who
brought her food..

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 14

Saint Abraham, Bishop of Charres


FEAST DAY

156

Saint Abraham, Bishop of Charres, lived during the mid-fourth and


early fifth centuries, and was born in the city of Cyrrhus. In his youth
he entered a monastery. Later he became a hermit in Lebanon, a
place where many pagans lived. St. Abraham suffered much vexation
from the pagans, who wanted to expel him from their area. He once
saw tax-collectors beating those who were unable to pay. Moved to
pity, he paid the taxes for them, and those people later accepted
Christ. The Christian inhabitants of this village built a church and they
fervently besought St. Abraham to accept the priesthood and become
their pastor. The monk fulfilled their wish. Having encouraged his
flock in the faith, he left them another priest in place of himself , and
he again retired to a monastery. Petitions for prayer were sent to the
saint and when he prayed for the petitions, they were always
answered. For his deep piety he was made bishop of Charres; his
pastors the saint constantly taught by his God-pleasing life. From the
time of his accepting of the priesthood, he never used cooked food.
The emperor Theodosius the Younger wanted to meet the bishop and
made him an invitation. After he arrived in Constantinople, St.
Abraham soon died. His remains were solemnly transferred to the city
of Charres and there given over to burial.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 15

Saint Eusebius the Hermit


FEAST DAY

157

Saint Eusebius the Hermit lived in the fourth century and lived in
asceticism on a mountain near the village of Asicha in Syria. He led a
very strict life under the open sky, patiently enduring the summer
heat and winter cold. He wore skins for clothing, and nourished
himself on the pods of peas and beans. Though he was elderly and
infirm, he ate only fifteen figs during the Great Forty day Fast. When
many people began to flock to St. Eusebius as he was able to heal the
sick, he went to a nearby monastery, built a small enclosure at the
monastery walls and lived in it until his death. St. Eusebius died at the
age of ninety, sometime after the year 400.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 16

Saint Maruthas Bishop of Tagrith


FEAST DAY

Saint Maruthas was Bishop of Tagrith (Martyropolis), a city which he


founded between the Byzantine Empire and Persia. He was famed for
his knowledge and his piety, he wrote about the martyrs, and he
suffered for his faith in Christ under the Persian emperor Sapor. He
also left behind other works in the Syrian language, among which the
most famous are: "Commentary on the Gospel," "Verses of Maruthas,"

"Liturgy of Maruthas" and "The 73 Canons of the Ecumenical Council


at Nicea" (325) with an account of the acts of the Council. In the year
381 St. Maruthas participated in the Second Ecumenical Council at
Constantinople, convened against the heresy of Macedonius. In 383,
he attended the Council of Antioch against the Messalians. During the
158

years 403-404 St. Maruthas set off to Constantinople to plead with the
emperor Arcadius to protect Persian Christians. He was twice sent by
the emperor Theodosius the Younger to the Shah Izdegerd to secure
the peace between the Empire and Persia. In the year 414 St.
Maruthas, having done his duty as envoy to the court of Izdegerd.
When asked by what right he had to make such a request of the Shah,
the saint placed his staff on the floor where it became a snake,
persuading the Shah to a favorable disposition towards Christians.
The saint assisted greatly in the freedom of Christians in Persia. He
rebuilt Christian churches razed during the persecution by the Persian
ruler Sapor. He also located relics of saints who had suffered
martyrdom and transferred them to Martyropolis. He died there in 422.
The relics of St. Maruthas were later transferred to Egypt and placed
in a skete monastery of the Mother of God.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 17

Great Martyr Saint Theodore the Tyro


FEAST DAY

The Greek Tyron means "conscript." This holy Martyr of Christ came
from Pontus and was a conscript into the Roman legionary during
Maximian's persecution (~303). Though he had been a Christian since
childhood, he kept his faith secret while in the army. While his cohort
was stationed near a town called Euchaita, he learned that the people
there were being terrorized by a dragon which lived in the neighboring
159

forest. He set off to face the dragon, praying to God that the outcome
of the contest would be a sign to him of whether the time had come to
offer himself for martyrdom. He found the fire-spitting monster and,
arming himself with the sign of the Cross, drove his spear through its
head and killed it. His success convinced him that, having vanquished
this fleshly dragon, he was ready to vanquish the spiritual dragon, the
Devil. When the commander of his camp next ordered a sacrifice to
the gods, Theodore boldly refused, saying "I am a Christian!" Further,
he encouraged the other Christians in his company to do the same.
That night he went to a nearby pagan temple of Rhea, mother of the
gods, and burned it down. He was seen by the caretaker of the temple
and was brought unresisting to the governor Publius. Theodore was
thrown into a solitary dungeon cell; there he refused bread and water,
saying that Christ had promised him food from heaven. He spent his
time there chanting hymns with the angels, so that the guards were
convinced that other Christians had somehow joined him in his cell.
When all argument, cajolery, bribery and threat had failed to turn the
soldier from Christ, the governor resorted to torture, subjecting the
Saint to terrible mutilations; but when Theodore endured them calmly
and resolutely, the governor began to fear that his example would
encourage other Christians, and ordered that he be burned. Taken to
the stake, the Martyr walked freely into the flames, where he gave
back his soul to God. When his body was ransomed and taken from
the ashes by a pious Christian, it was found to be untouched. A
church was built in Euchaita in honor of the Martyr; many pilgrims
came there for the healing of soul and body. In 361, the Emperor
Julian the Apostate ordered the Prefect of Constantinople to have all
foods in the marketplaces sprinkled with blood of animals sacrificed
to the pagan gods during the first week of Lent, so that Christians
would be unable to escape contact with idolatry. But St. Theodore
appeared in a vision to Patriarch Eudoxius (360-364), warned him of
160

the plan and told him to instruct his flock not to buy any food in the
marketplace, but to eat kolyva made from boiled wheat grains. So,
through the saint's intervention, the people were preserved from the
stain of idolatry. Ever since, the Church has commemorated the
miracle on the first Saturday of Great Lent. Since that time kolyva has
come to be offered also in honor of the saints and in memory of the
departed. The whole grain represents the body, sown corruptible,
which will be raised incorruptible (2 Cor. 15:37); it is usually
sweetened with honey to signify the delights of Paradise.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 18

Saint Agapitus the Confessor


Bishop of Synnada in Phrygia
FEAST DAY

Saint Agapitus was born of Christian parents in Cappadocia during the


reign of the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284-305).
From his youth he yearned for the monastic life and so he entered a
monastery, where he struggled in fasting, prayer, and service to all
the brethren of the monastery. The Lord granted St. Agapitus the gift
of wonderworking. The emperor, Licinius (311-324), learned that St.
Agapitus

was

endowed

with

great

physical

strength,

and

he

commanded the saint to be conscripted into military service against


his wishes. During the persecution against the Christians initiated by
Licinius, St. Agapitus was wounded by a spear, but remained alive.
After the death of the emperor Licinius, he obtained his freedom from
161

military

service

in

the

following

manner:

The

holy

Emperor

Constantine the Great (306-337) heard that St. Agapitus had healed
people by his prayers. The emperor sent him a sick servant, who also
received healing. The emperor wanted to reward St. Agapitus, who
instead asked only that he be permitted to resign from military
service and return to his monastery. Permission was granted, and he
joyfully returned to the monastery. Soon after this, the Bishop of
Sinaus in Bithynia summoned St. Agapitus and ordained him to the
holy priesthood. After the death of the bishop, St. Agapitus was
unanimously chosen by the clergy and all the people to the See of
Sinaus. The new hierarch wisely governed his flock, guiding it in the
Orthodox faith and virtuous life. Through his prayers, numerous
miracles occurred. The saint died in peace.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 19

Our Venerable Mother Saint Philothea of Athens


FEAST DAY

"This bright star of compassion arose in the dark days of the Turkish
occupation to shed God's mercy upon the oppressed people of Athens
and to guide many endangered souls onto the path of righteousness."
(Synaxarion). She was born in 1528 to the prominent Venizelou family,
miraculously answering her mother's prayer of many years. Though
162

even in childhood she showed a love for ascesis and prayer, she was
much sought-after as a wealthy heiress, and was married at the age
of twelve to a rough, violent man. She endured his ill-treatment nobly,
and prayed daily for his conversion. After three years, the brutal
husband died, and Philothea gave herself entirely to a life of prayer
and fasting, living like a hermitess though still in her parents' house.
When her parents died ten years later, she used her entire fortune to
found a convent. Its design had been given her in a vision by the
Apostle Andrew, and it was dedicated to him. Alongside the
monastery, she founded a hospital, a hospice for the poor, and
schools where boys and girls could receive a Christian education,
something obviously not provided by the Turkish rulers. As soon as
the monastery was begun, she took monastic vows under the name of
Philothea, and she, her own maidservants, and many young women of
the city, became the first nuns there. Philothea continued in her
boundless compassion for the poor and infirm, which she visited and
tended. She was so free in her almsgiving that more than once the
monastery was left without food or other necessities of life, and the
sisters began to complain about her. But each time, large donations
appeared unexpectedly and saved the community from starvation.
Philothea offered asylum and refuge to Christian slave women who
had fled their masters to preserve their faith and chastity. This
angered the Turks, who surrounded the monastery, seized Philothea,
and brought her before the judge. She was told to deny Christ or die,
and when she refused was sentenced to death; but some influential
Athenian Greeks were able to intervene on her behalf and to obtain
her release. Immediately upon her release she redoubled her prayers,
her apostolic labors and her works of mercy, and was soon granted
the gift of working miracles and healings. So many disciples came to
join her that she established a second monastery. Her growing
influence aroused the hatred of some of the Turks, who broke into the
163

monastery one night and beat her violently, leaving her half-dead. She
bore the effects of her injuries patiently, and after a short time gave
back her soul to God in 1589. Twenty years after her repose, a
beautiful scent began to issue from her tomb. Her precious relics,
venerated at the Cathedral in Athens, remain incorrupt to this day.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 20

Saint Leo the Bishop of Catania in Sicily


FEAST DAY

Saint Leo was bishop of the city of Catania, in Sicily. He was famed
for his benevolence and charity, and his Christian love for the poor
and the vagrant. The Lord granted him the gifts of healing various
illnesses, and working miracles. When St. Leo was Bishop of Catania,
there was a certain sorcerer named Heliodorus, who impressed
people with his fake miracles. This fellow was originally a Christian,
but then he rejected Christ and became a servant of the devil. St. Leo
often urged Heliodorus to repent of his wicked deeds and return to
God, but in vain. Once, Heliodorus impudently entered the church
where the bishop was serving, and tried to create a disturbance,
sowing confusion and temptation by his sorcery. Seeing the people
beset by devils under the sorcerers spell, St. Leo realized that the
time for gentle persuasion had passed. He calmly emerged from the
altar and, tying his omophorion around the magician's neck, he led
him out of the church into the city square. There he forced Heliodorus
to admit to all his wicked deeds. He commanded that a fire be lit, and
164

jumped into the fire with the sorcerer. Thus they stood in the fire until
Heliodorus got burnt. St. Leo, by the power of God, remained
unharmed. This miracle brought St.
Leo great renown during his lifetime. When he died, a woman with an
issue of blood received healing at his grave. The body of the saint
was placed in a church of the holy Martyr Lucy, which he himself had
built. Later on, his relics were transferred into the church of St.
Martin the Merciful, Bishop of Tours.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 21

Saint Eustathius, Archbishop of Antioch


FEAST DAY

Saint Eustathius, Archbishop of Antioch (323-331) was born in Side,


Pamphylia in 324. He was Bishop of Beroea (modern Aleppo), and
enjoyed the love and esteem of the people, and at the request of his
flock he was elevated by the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council
(325) to the See of Antioch. St. Eustathius was a learned theologian,
and was also distinguished by his broad knowledge in secular
sciences. When the heresy of Arius began to spread in the East
(Arianism denied the consubstantiality of the Son of God with the
Father), St. Eustathius struggled zealously for the purity of the
Orthodox Faith through his words and his writings. The First
Ecumenical Council was convened in the year 325 by the holy God165

crowned Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337). The first to


preside over this Council was St. Eustathius. The Council condemned
the heretical teachings of Arius and incorporated the Orthodox
confession into the Symbol of Faith (the Nicene Creed). But the mad
Arius, as St. Eustathius called him, refused to renounce his errors. He
and those who shared his opinion were excommunicated from the
Church by the Council. Among the bishops who signed the Nicene
Symbol of Faith were some who sympathized with the heresy of Arius,
but signed the Acts of the Council through fear of excommunication.
After the Council, his enemies plotted against St. Eustathius. With
great cunning they gained his consent to convene a local Council at
Antioch. Having bribed a certain profligate woman, they persuaded
her to appear at the Council with an infant at her breast, and falsely
declare that St. Eustathius was the father of the infant. The Arians
declared St. Eustathius deposed, violating the Apostolic Rule that
accusations against the clergy must be substantiated by two
witnesses. Without a trial he was sent off into exile in Thrace. But the
lie was soon unmasked: the woman repented after falling grievously
ill. She summoned the clergy, and in the presence of many people,
she confessed her sin. St. Constantine the Great died around this
time, and his son Constantius (337-361), who shared the heretical
views of Arius and favored the Arian bishops, succeeded his father on
the throne. Even in exile, St. Eustathius struggled for Orthodoxy with
the same zeal. He died in exile, in the city of Philippi or Trajanopolis,
in the year 337. Convened in the year 381 at Constantinople, the
Second Ecumenical Council confirmed the Orthodox Symbol of Faith,
which St. Eustathius had so vigorously defended. The Arian heresy
was once again anathematized. In the year 482 the relics of St.
Eustathius were reverently transferred from Philippi to Antioch, to the
great joy of the Antioch people, who had not ceased to honor and love
their patriarch. St. Eustathius was esteemed by the great hierarchs of
166

the fourth century, Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Athanasius of


Alexandria, Epiphanius of Cyprus, Anastasius of Sinai, and Jerome of
Stridonia. The renowned church historian Bishop Theodoret of
Cyrrhus calls St. Eustathius a pillar of the Church and a man of piety,
of equal stature with St. Athanasius of Alexandria and the other
bishops at the forefront of the struggle for Orthodoxy.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 22

Saint Athanasius the Confessor of


Constantinople
FEAST DAY

Saint Athanasius the Confessor was born in Constantinople of rich


and pious parents. From his childhood he dreamed of devoting himself
entirely to God, and having reached maturity, he settled in one of the
Nicomedia monasteries, called the Pavlopetrios (i.e., in the names of
the holy Apostles Peter and Paul), and became a monk there. The
loftiness of his ascetic life became known at the imperial court. He
healed the sick that would seek him out, and prayed for farmers
crops. During the reign of the iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian
(813-820), St. Athanasius was subjected to torture for venerating
icons, and then underwent exile, grief and suffering. Confessing the
Orthodox Faith until the very end of his life, St. Athanasius died
peacefully in the year 821.
167

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 23

Hieromartyr Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna


FEAST DAY

He was born at Ephesus around the year 70. St. Irenaeus of Lyons, his
disciple, says that St. Polycarp was 'a disciple of the Apostles and
acquainted with those who had seen the Lord.' His parents died as
martyrs, and he was given into the care of a devout lady named
Callista.

As

child,

the

Saint

was

so

eager

to

follow

the

commandments of Christ that he repeatedly emptied his fostermother's pantry to feed the poor. Since her supplies were always
miraculously renewed, Callista changed his name from Pancratius to
Polykarpos, meaning 'Much fruit.' When grown, Polycarp became a
disciple of St. John the Theologian, and in time became Bishop of
Smyrna; it is told that the messages to the Church at Smyrna in the
Book of Revelation are addressed to St. Polycarp and his flock. He
knew

St.

Ignatius

of

Antioch

personally,

and

some

of

their

correspondence is preserved. Polycarp led his Church in holiness for


more than fifty years, and became known throughout the Christian
world as a true shepherd and standard-bearer of the Faith. About the
year 154 he traveled to Rome and consulted with Pope Anacletus on
the defense of the Faith. Not long after he returned to Smyrna, a
fierce persecution was unleashed against Christians in Asia Minor;
along with many others, St. Polycarp was arrested, having predicted
his imminent martyrdom. (The account of his martyrdom that follows
168

is based on eyewitness accounts gathered immediately after his


death.) On the evening of Holy Friday, soldiers burst into the
farmhouse where he was staying. The Bishop welcomed them
cheerfully, and ordered that a meal be prepared for them. He was
granted some time to pray, and for two hours stood commemorating
everyone that he had known and praying for the Church throughout
the world. His captors sorrowed that they had come to take such a
venerable man, and reluctantly took him to the Proconsul. When
urged to deny Christ and save his life, the aged Saint replied, 'For
eighty-six years I have been his servant, and he has wronged me in
nothing; how can I blaspheme my King and Savior?' Told that he
would die by fire if he did not apostatize, Polycarp replied 'You
threaten me with a fire that burns for a short time and then goes out,
while you know nothing of the fire of the judgment to come and of the
everlasting torment awaiting the wicked. Why wait any longer? Do
what you

will!'

Placed on the pyre, Polycarp lifted his eyes

heavenward and gave thanks to God for finding him worthy to share
with the holy Martyrs of the cup of Christ. When he had said his Amen,
the executioners lit the fire. The eyewitnesses write that the fire
sprang up around him like a curtain, and that he stood in its midst
glowing like gold and sending forth a delightful scent of incense.
Seeing that the fire was not harming him, the executioners stabbed
him with a sword. His blood flowed so copiously that it put out the
fire, and he gave back his soul to God. His relics were burned by the
persecutors, but Christians rescued a few fragments of bone, which
were venerated for many generations on the anniversary of his
repose.

169

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 24

Saint Erasmus of the Kievan Caves


FEAST DAY

Saint Simon, Bishop of Vladimir, wrote about him to his friend St.
Polycarp: "At the Caves was Erasmus the black-robed. He acquired a
legacy of fame because he used everything he possessed for the
adornment of the monastery church. He donated many icons, which
even now may be seen over the altar. The saint experienced great
temptations after he had given away his wealth. The Evil One began
to suggest to him that he should have given the money to the poor,
rather than spend it on the beautification of the church. St. Erasmus
did not understand such thoughts, so he fell into despondency and
began to live in a careless manner. Because of his former virtue the
gracious and merciful God saved him. He sent him a grievous illness,
and the monk lay near death. In this sickness Erasmus lay for seven
days, unable to see or speak, and hardly breathing. On the eighth day
the brethren came to him and, seeing the difficulty of his approaching
death, said, "Woe to the soul of this brother, for he lived in idleness
and in sin. Now his soul beholds something and tarries, not having the
strength to leave the body." Erasmus suddenly got up, as though he
had not been ill, and said to the monks, "Fathers and brethren! It is
true that I am a sinner, and have not repented, as you said. Today,
however,

our

monastic

fathers

Anthony

and

Theodosius

have

appeared to me, and said: 'We have prayed for you, and the Lord has
170

given you time for repentance.' Then I saw the All-Pure Mother of God
with Christ in Her arms, and She said to me, 'Erasmus, since you
adorned My Church with icons, I will also adorn you and exalt you in
the Kingdom of my Son! Arise, repent, take the angelic schema, and
on the third day you will be taken from this life.' Having said this,
Erasmus began to confess his sins before all without shame, then
went to church and was clothed in the schema, and on the third day
he died. St. Erasmus was buried in the Near Caves. His memory is
also celebrated on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great
Lent.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 25

Saint Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople


FEAST DAY

Saint Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople was of illustrious lineage.


He was born and raised in Constantinople, where he received a fine
education. He was rapidly promoted at the court of the emperor
Constantine VI Porphyrogenitos (780-797) and Constantine's mother,
the holy Empress Irene, and the saint attained the rank of senator.
During these times the Church was agitated by the turmoil of the
Iconoclast disturbances. The holy Patriarch Paul although he had
formerly supported Iconoclasm, later repented and resigned his
171

office. He withdrew to a monastery, where he took the schema. When


the holy Empress Irene and her son the emperor came to him, St. Paul
told them that the most worthy successor to him would be St.
Tarasius (who at this time was still a layman). Tarasius refused for a
long time, not considering himself worthy of such high office, but he
then gave in to the common accord on the condition, that an
Ecumenical Council be convened to address the Iconoclast heresy.
Proceeding through all the clerical ranks in a short while, St. Tarasius
was elevated to the patriarchal throne in the year 784. In the year 787
the Seventh Ecumenical Council was convened in the city of Nicea,
with Patriarch Tarasius presiding, and 367 bishops attending. The
veneration of holy icons was confirmed at the council. Those bishops
who repented of their iconoclasm, were again received by the Church.
St. Tarasius wisely governed the Church for twenty-two years. He led
a strict ascetic life. He spent all his money on God-pleasing ends,
feeding and giving comfort to the aged, to the impoverished, to
widows and orphans, and on Holy Pascha he set out a meal for them,
and he served them himself. The holy Patriarch fearlessly denounced
the emperor Constantine Porphyrigenitos when he slandered his
spouse, the empress Maria, the granddaughter of St. Philaretos the
Merciful, so that he could send Maria to a monastery, thus freeing him
to marry his own kinswoman. St. Tarasius resolutely refused to
dissolve the marriage of the emperor, for which the saint fell into
disgrace. Soon, however, Constantine was deposed by his own
mother, the Empress Irene. St. Tarasius died in the year 806. Before
his death, devils examined his life from the time of his youth, and they
tried to get the saint to admit to sins that he had not committed. "I
am innocent of that of which you accuse me," replied the saint, "and
you falsely slander me. You have no power over me at all." Mourned
by the Church, the saint was buried in a monastery he built on the
Bosphorus. Many miracles took place at his tomb.
172

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 26

Saint Sebastian
FEAST DAY

The Holy Martyr Sebastian died by the sword under Nero (54-68). He
was the companion of the holy Martyrs Photina and Christodoulus.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 27

Saint Asclepius
FEAST DAY

Saint Asclepius was a Syrian ascetic, and lived during the fifth
century. Theodoret of Cyrrhus speaks of them. St. Asclepius led an
ascetic life of temperance in his native village and was not hindered
by constant association with many people. Up until the end of his life,
the ascetic did not leave his hermitage, but spoke to visitors through
173

a small aperture in the wall, cut at an angle so that no one was able
to see him. He never kindled a fire or lit a lamp. Many people were
healed of sickness by standing by his dwelling and praying to the
Virgin for recovery. He had many imitators and followers.

One of

them was St. James, who secluded himself in a small dwelling near
the village of Nimuza.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 28

Saint Kyra
FEAST DAY

Saint Kyra lived during the fourth century in the city of Veria (or
Berea) in Syria. Her parents were illustrious and rich, but she left
home and departed the city when she had reached maturity. Having
cleared off a small plot of land, the holy virgin sealed up the entrance
to her refuge with rocks and clay, leaving only a narrow opening
through which food was passed to her. The little hut had no roof, and
so she was exposed to the elements. On her body she wore heavy
iron chains and patiently endured hunger. During a three year period,
she ate food only once every forty days. Her former servants came to
her, wanting to join her ascetic life. The saint put them in a separate
hut next to her own enclosure and spoke to them through a window,
exhorting them to deeds of prayer and fasting. The life of the holy
ascetic Kyra was described by Bishop Theodoret of Cyrrhus in his
174

RELIGIOSA HISTORIA. Out of respect for his hierarchical dignity, the


holy virgin allowed him into her dwelling. Theodoret conversed with
her and persuaded her to remove the heavy chains they wore under
their clothing. Kyra, who was weak in body, was always stooped
under their weight and was unable to sit upright. Once he left,
however, she resumed wearing the chains. So she lived in asceticism
for forty years. She disturbed her solitude twice, the first time to
make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to pray at the Sepulcher of the Lord.
During her journey (which took twenty days) she ate no food until she
had prayed at the Holy Places. On the way back, she also went
without eating. The second time, she journeyed to the grave of the
Protomartyr Thekla at Seleucia, Isauria. The two times she left her
dwelling, people were healed from sickness when they touched her
ragged clothing. St. Kyra died in about the year 450. Her ascetical life
equaled that of the great male ascetics of the desert, and she
received the same crown of victory from Christ the Savior.

TODAY IS FEBRUARY 29

Saint John~Barsanuphius
FEAST DAY

Our Holy Father St. Barsanuphius was born a pagan in the Holy Land.
As a young man he saw the truth of Christ, was baptized at the age of
eighteen and immediately became a monk, given the name of John.
Such was his reputation for virtue that in time he became Archbishop
of Damascus.

But, spurning worldly distinction and desiring only a


175

solitary life of prayer, he secretly left Damascus and travelled to the


Nitrian desert. He entered a monastery as the monk Barsanuphius,
telling no one of his past. He joyfully accepted the obedience of
water-carrier for the monastery, and lived out his life in humility,
becoming a model of monastic life for his brethren. Only at his death
was it revealed to the monks that their humble and obedient brother
Barsanuphius had been an Archbishop. He reposed in peace in 457.
Saint John~Barsanuphius Feast day is on February 29. But it is
celebrated on February 28 except in those years where there is a 29th
day.

INSIDE AN ORTHORDOX CHURCH

176

177

TODAY IS MARCH 1

Martyr Saint Antonina of Nicea, in Bithynia


FEAST DAY

The Holy Martyr Saint Antonina suffered at Nicea during a persecution


under the emperor Maximian (284-305). After fierce tortures, St.
Antonina was thrown into prison, but Maximian could not force the
saint to renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to idols. Angels of God
appeared to the holy martyr and the executioners took fright. Even
when they placed her on a red-hot metal bed, St. Antonina remained
unharmed, by the power of God. Finally, after long torture they sewed
the saint into a sack, filled it with rocks and sank it in a lake. The
angels of God lifted her body from the waters and floated her to the
dry lakeside.

Her tortures were so furious that she was delivered

from a drowning death, they cut open the sack and beheaded her on
the spot. Thus Saint Antoninas soul was lifted into heaven by the
angles of Christ.

178

TODAY IS MARCH 2

Saint Arsenius, Bishop of Tver,


FEAST DAY

Saint Arsenius, Bishop of Tver, was born at Tver, and in his early
years received monastic tonsure in the Kievan Caves monastery.
Even among the monks of this ancient monastery, distinguished for
their piety, Arsenius was noted for his saintly life as well as for his
strictness in keeping his monastic vows, his knowledge of the Church
typikon, his study of Holy Scripture, and his love for work. Whole
serving God as a Monk, he was able to teal the sick that traveled to
the Kiev Caves. It is said that over 550 people were healed by the
prayers of St. Arsenius. Under Metropolitan Cyprian of Kiev (13801382) he served as archdeacon, and when the Metropolitan was
absent, he governed the administration of the Kiev metropolitanate.
On July 3, 1390 he went with Metropolitan Cyprian to Tver, where at
the request of Prince Micjae of Tver, a Council of Russian and Greek
hierarchs

had

been

convened

to

pass

judgment

upon

Bishop

Euthymius of Tver. The prince and the bishop were involved in a


lengthy dispute, and many of the people of Tver made serious
accusations against the bishop. After unsuccessful attempts to
restore peace to the Tver church, Metropolitan Cyprian deposed
Euthymius as bishop and sent him off to Moscow to the Chudov
monastery. St. Arsenius was appointed to the Tver cathedral, but he
was both troubled and afraid to accept this position, in view of the
great enmity and spite in that place. Upon the return of Metropolitan
179

Cyprian and archdeacon Arsenius to Moscow, the Prince sent his


nobles to the Metropolitan with a petition to consecrate Arsenius as
Bishop of Tver. This time Arsenius also refused. In the words of the
chronicle for the year 1390 "even at the Metropolitan's entreaty,
Archdeacon Arsenius would not go to Tver." After threatening
Arsenius with suspension, the Metropolitan and the Prince finally got
him to agree to accept episcopal consecration, which took place on
August 15, 1390. Among the bishops taking part in the laying on of
hands was St. Stephen, Bishop of Perm (April 26). Bishop Arsenius, as
a man of great prayer and peacemaker, was able to end much of the
discord in the Tver principality. During his episcopacy, from 1390 to
1409, cathedrals were built and consecrated in honor of the
Archangel

Michael

at

Staritsa

and

Mikulina,

and

the

Savior-

Transfiguration cathedral was restored with the construction of a


cathedral belltower. The saint founded the Zheltikov monastery on
the river Tmaka near Tver, where a church was built in honor of Sts.
Anthony and Theodosius of the Kiev Caves (1394), and a stone
Dormition cathedral. Desiring that the monks of this new monastery
would always be edified by the asceticism of the Fathers of the
Caves, St. Arsenius gave orders to compile a list from the Kiev Caves
Paterikon, using the most ancient manuscripts of this precious
memorial of Russian literature. This compilation was known as the
Arseniev Redaction. The saint died on March 2, 1409, and was buried
in the Zheltikov monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy
Theotokos, which he founded. In 1483 his relics were found incorrupt
and were placed in the monastery cathedral. In the same year
hieromonk Theodosius composed a Life and a Canon in honor of the
holy bishop. In 1512, a man named Kovonich was healed of smallpox
while praying at Saint Arsenius grave. At a Council of 1547 St
Arsenius' commemoration was established throughout all the Church.

180

TODAY IS MARCH 3

Saint Theodore of the Boiled Wheat


FEAST DAY

Today we remember the miracle of St. Theodore and the boiled


wheat. Fifty years after the death of St. Theodore, the emperor Julian
the Apostate (361-363), wanting to commit an outrage upon the
Christians, commanded the city-commander of Constantinople during
the first week of Great Lent to sprinkle all the food provisions in the
marketplaces with the blood offered to idols. St. Theodore appeared
in a dream to Archbishop Eudoxius, ordering him to inform all the
Christians that no one should buy anything at the marketplaces for
one week, but rather to eat cooked wheat with honey (kolyva). Those
who defied Archbishop Eudoxius demand died within 2 days of eating
the defiled food.

181

TODAY IS MARCH 4

Saint Gerasimus the Righteous of Jordan


FEAST DAY

This Saint, who was from Lycia in Asia Minor, lived there for many
years as a hermit, and then went to Palestine. There he built the
great Lavra by the Jordan River, where a lion served him with
great obedience and devotion. One day the lion came looking for
Gerasimus that he might feed him, but his disciples took the lion to
the place where they had buried the Saint shortly before. The lion
fell at the Saint's grave and, after roaring with grief, died at that
very place. Saint Gerasimus reposed in 475.

TODAY IS MARCH 5

Saint Irais (Rhais) of Antinoe in Egypt


FEAST DAY

St. Irais was an Egyptian martyr. She was put to death at Antinoe,
Egypt during the persecutions of Christians by the Emperor Diocletian
in the early fourth century.

When Christians would ask repentance


182

and seek petitions from the Holy Mother at her burial site, their
prayers were answered.
answered.

Prayers for healing of sickness were also

Her grave became a pilgrim destination for those who

needed Gods help.

TODAY IS MARCH 6

42 Martyrs of Amorion in Phrygia


FEAST DAY

These Martyrs, men of high rank in the Byzantine Army, were taken
captive when the city of Amorion in Phrygia fell to the Moslem
Arabs in 838, during the reign of Theophilus the Iconoclast. Among
them were Aetius and Melissenus, the generals; Theodore, the
chief of the imperial ceremonial bodyguard; Craterus, the eunuch;
Callistus,

Constantine,

Bassoes,

and

Theophilius,

who

were

military officials; and certain others who held important positions.


Because of their experience in war and their virtue, the Moslems
did not slay them, but tried by all means to convert them to Islam
and have them to fight in their own campaigns. They kept the holy
Martyrs shut up in a dark dungeon in the city of Samarra in Syria,
threatening and abusing them, making promises of glorious rank
and magnificent riches, keeping them in hunger, oppression, and
darkness, not for a few weeks, or a few months, but for seven full
years. Finally, unable to break the courage and faith of their
captives, they beheaded them in the year 845.
183

TODAY IS MARCH 7

Venerable Saint Paul the Simple


FEAST DAY

Saint Paul the Simple of Egypt also lived in the fourth century and was
called the Simple for his simplicity of heart and gentleness. He had
been married, but when he discovered his wife's infidelity, he left her
and went into the desert to St. Anthony the Great (January 17). Paul
was already 60 years old, and at first St. Anthony would not accept
Paul, saying that he was unfit for the harshness of the hermit's life.
Paul stood outside the cell of the ascetic for three days, saying that
he would sooner die than go from there. Then St. Anthony took Paul
into his cell, and tested his endurance and humility by hard work,
severe fasting, with nightly vigils, constant singing of Psalms and
prostrations. Finally, St. Anthony decided to settle Paul into a
separate cell. During the many years of ascetic exploits the Lord
granted St. Paul both discernment, and the power to cast out demons.
When they brought a possessed youth to St. Anthony, he guided the
afflicted one to St. Paul saying, "I cannot help the boy, for I have not
received power over the Prince of the demons. Paul the Simple,
however, does have this gift." St. Paul expelled the demon by his
simplicity and humility. After living for many years, performing
numerous miracles, he departed to the Lord. He is mentioned by St.
John, the Abbot of Sinai (Ladder 24:30): "The thrice-blessed Paul the
184

Simple was a clear example for us, for he was the rule and type of
blessed simplicity."

TODAY IS MARCH 8

Saint Lazarus of Murom


FEAST DAY

St. Lazarus of Murom was a Greek, born at Constantinople. In his


native city he became a monk at the High-Mount monastery under the
Elder Athanasius Diskotes, builder of many monasteries. Eight years
later, Lazarus was under the guidance of Bishop Basil of Caesarea. In
the year 1343 Bishop Basil, wanting to encourage the Russian Church,
sent St. Lazarus as a noted iconographer together with monks and
gifts to St. Basil, Archbishop of Novgorod (February 10, October 4,
June 3). St. Lazarus made a copy of Novgorod's Icon of Sophia, the
Wisdom of God (August 15) for the Caesarea diocese, and compiled an
account of Novgorod churches and monasteries. Meeting the monk,
the Novgorod hierarch bowed to the ground to his guest and blessed
him to remain in a monastery he built. For ten years St. Lazarus
faithfully served St. Basil, and in 1352 upon the death of the holy
archpastor, he "dressed the holy body in the prepared clothing and
shed many tears." Grieved that he had been deprived of both his
guides (Previously, the saint had received letters informing him of the
death of Bishop Basil), St. Lazarus considered returning to his native
185

land. However, in a dream the Novgorod hierarch appeared to him and


directed him "to go northward towards the sea, to Mucha Island in
Lake Onega" (Murom Island in Lake Onega). In a short time his first
guide, Bishop Basil of Caesarea, commanded him in a dream to go to
that same place and found a monastery. The Chronicles say that at
this time the Novgorodians were making their first attempts to
convert the peoples of the White Sea coastal region to Christianity.
But St. Lazarus was not able to get to this island at once. For a long
time, the owner of the island, the Novgorod merchant Ivan, would not
permit him. The monk prayed fervently to the Most Holy Theotokos
and to St. John the Forerunner, and he wept at the grave of St. Basil.
And the owner's resistance was removed. St. Basil once appeared to
him in a dream and ordered him to bestow the island "to our friend
Lazarus", so that the Mother of God might be honored there. St.
Lazarus arrived alone at the blessed spot. He set up a cross, a hut,
and a chapel. Soon the Lopari and Chud natives living on the island
heard about him, and he endured much suffering from them. They
burned down his hut and did what damage they could. They beat him,
chased him from the island, and pursued him in order to kill him. But
God and the Queen of Heaven guarded the saint. At the site of the
burned hut the icon of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos again
appeared to St. Lazarus, miraculously undamaged by the fire. It was
with this icon that they had blessed him when he became a monk, and
from it was heard a commanding Voice: "The faithless people shall
become faithful, and there will be one Church and one flock of Christ.
Establish upon this place a church of the Dormition of the Most Holy
Theotokos." Another time the saint saw how this place was blessed
by "a Woman of majesty, radiant with golden hue, and resplendant
men who made reverence to Her." Soon the eldest of the Lopari came
to the monk and begged him to heal a child born blind: "... then we
shall depart from the island, as your servants have been commanded."
186

St. Lazarus perceived that this was an angel, and he gave thanks unto
the Lord. He healed the blind child after praying and sprinkling him
with holy water. Then, the "bad people" quit the island, and the father
of the healed child later became a monk, and all his sons were
baptized. From that time, people started coming to the saint from
faraway

places.

monasticism.

He

Even

baptized

his

fellow

them,

and

countrymen

tonsured
came

to

them

into

him

from

Constantinople, the holy Monks Eleazar, Eumenius and Nazarius (June


4), future founders of the Monastery of the Forerunner in the Olonetsk
region. Visiting Novgorod, St. Lazarus received from Bishop Moses
(1352-1360) his blessing for the construction of a monastery, together
with an antimension and some church vessels. A church was built in
honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, the first in all the
coastal region; also a church of the Resurrection of Lazarus, and even
a wooden church of St. John the Forerunner together with a trapeza.
The Murom Dormition monastery was built up and strengthened by its
zealous head St. Lazarus until his old age. The time of his death was
revealed to him in a vision by his faithful protector, St. Basil of
Novgorod. Having chosen a worthy successor, the Athonite Elder
Theodosius, and after receiving the Holy Life-Creating Mysteries and
blessing everyone, St. Lazarus departed to the Lord on March 8, 1391
at the age of 105 years. They buried him in a chapel beside the church
of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. The Life of St Lazaruss
was written by the Elder Theodosius from the words of the monk
himself.

TODAY IS MARCH 9

Saint Caesarius
FEAST DAY
187

He was the brother of St. Gregory the Theologian and, like his brother,
was a theological writer. In his works he gave an answer to the
question: How long did Adam and Eve spend in Paradise before the
Fall? Various writers had given estimates ranging from six hours to
three days. Saint Caesarius wrote that our first parents' time in
Paradise was forty days; and that for this reason Christ fasted for
forty days in the wilderness, being tempted by the Devil. "For, while
the old Adam was not able to withstand the devil's temptation in the
abundance of Paradise, the New Adam withstood him as a true knight
in hunger and thirst in the wilderness."

He was sought out for his

wisdom and knowledge of the scripture, but spoke to the common


man in a way that all understood.

TODAY IS MARCH 10

Saint John of Khakhuli the Oqropiri,


Also called Chrysostom
FEAST DAY

188

In the second half of the 10th century King Davit Kuropalates founded
Khakhuli Monastery in the historical region of Tao, at the gorge of the
Khakhuli River, where it joins the Tortumi River. Once famed for its
holiness and academic activity, today Khakhuli Monastery is a
Turkish possession and has become a tourist site. Nevertheless, the
Georgian nation continues to be illumined by its grace and the
radiance of the Georgian faithful who labored there. Some sources
claim that St. John was first consecrated bishop of Bolnisi and later
transferred to the Khakhuli diocese. It is generally agreed, however,
that he left Khakhuli around the year 1019 and traveled to Mt. Athos
with Arsen of Ninotsminda and John Grdzelisdze. While laboring on
Mt. Athos, St. John faithfully assisted St. Ekvtime of the Holy
Mountain, and these spiritual brothers became close friends. The
countless good works he performed from the bishops throne, the title
Chrysostom, and the many important writings accredited to him
attest to the piety, healing of the sick, wisdom, and patriotism of St.
John of Khakhuli. It is written in The Life of Giorgi of the Holy

Mountain that St. John reposed on Mt. Athos.

TODAY IS MARCH 11

Saint Sophronius the Patriarch of Jerusalem


FEAST DAY

Saint Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, was born in Damascus


around 560. From his youth he was distinguished for his piety and his
189

love for classical studies. He was especially proficient in philosophy,


and so he was known as Sophronius the Wise. The future hierarch,
however,

sought

the

true

philosophy

of

monasticism,

and

conversations with the desert-dwellers. He arrived in Jerusalem at


the monastery of St. Theodosius, and there he became close with the
hieromonk John Moschus, becoming his spiritual son and submitting
himself to him in obedience. They visited several monasteries, writing
down the lives and spiritual wisdom of the ascetics they met. From
these notes emerged their renowned book, the LEIMONARION or

SPIRITUAL MEADOW, which was highly esteemed at the Seventh


Ecumenical Council. To save themselves from the devastating
incursions of the Persians, Sts. John and Sophronius left Palestine
and went to Antioch, and from there they went to Egypt. In Egypt, St.
Sophronius became seriously ill. During this time he decided to
become a monk and was tonsured by St. John Moschus. After St.
Sophronius recovered his health, they both decided to remain in
Alexandria. There they were received by the holy Patriarch John the
Merciful (November 12), to whom they rendered great aid in the
struggle

against

the

Monophysite

heresy.

At

Alexandria

St.

Sophronius had an affliction of the eyes, and he turned with prayer


and faith to the holy Unmercenaries Cyrus and John, and he received
healing in a church named for them. In gratitude, St. Sophronius then
wrote the Lives of these holy Unmercenaries. When the barbarians
began to threaten Alexandria, Patriarch John, accompanied by Sts.
Sophronius and John Moschus, set out for Constantinople, but he died
along the way. Sts. John Moschus and Sophronius then set out for
Constantinople, but he died along the way. Sts. John Moschus and
Sophronius then set out for Rome with eighteen other monks. St. John
Moschus died at Rome. His body was taken to Jerusalem by St.
Sophronius and buried at the monastery of St. Theodosius. In the year
628, Patriarch Zacharias of Jerusalem (609-633) returned from his
190

captivity in Persia. After his death, the patriarchal throne was


occupied for two years by St. Modestus (December 18). After the
death of St. Modestus, St. Sophronius was chosen Patriarch. St.
Sophronius toiled much for the welfare of the Jerusalem Church as its
primate (634-644). Toward the end of his life, St. Sophronius and his
flock lived through a two year siege of Jerusalem by the Moslems.
Worn down by hunger, the Christians finally agreed to open the city
gates, on the condition that the enemy spare the holy places. But this
condition was not fulfilled, and St. Sophronius died in grief over the
desecration of the Christian holy places. Written works by Patriarch
Sophronius have come down to us in the area of dogmatics, and
likewise his Excursus on the Liturgy, the Life of St. Mary of Egypt
(April 1), and also about 950 troparia and stikheras from Pascha to the
Ascension.

While still a hieromonk, St. Sophronius reviewed and

made corrections to the Rule of the monastery of St. Sava the


Sanctified.

TODAY IS MARCH 12

Saint Nicholas (Planas), Priest in Athens


FEAST DAY

St. Nicholas was a simple parish priest in Athens, humble, poor, and
barely literate. He was born on Naxos in 1851 to moderately
prosperous parents; but when his father died, his mother was reduced
to near-poverty, and moved the family to Athens. St Nicholas married
191

at the age of seventeen, but his wife died after a short time, leaving
him with one son. He served the Divine Liturgy daily, never missing a
day for fifty years, despite illness, storms, and war. His liturgies
unfailingly lasted for several hours, mostly due to the hundreds of
commemorations that he included. The faithful would give him sheets
of paper containing names to be commemorated; he would carry all
the sheets with him in bulging satchels. A few of his spiritual children
made it their task to go through the papers secretly and discard the
oldest and most worn, so that the commemorations would not
increase without limit. In his conversation, the Saint had a simple and
childlike (his detractors would say childish) manner, and he was
widely despised by more sophisticated laymen, priests and hierarchs,
never being appointed to any but the smallest and poorest parishes.
Many, however, discerned his holiness, and a large synodia of
spiritual children slowly gathered around him. Once, a very young
altar boy ran out from the altar while Fr. Nicholas was serving and,
trembling with fear, cried to his mother, 'Mama, Father Nicholas is
floating in the air!' His mother, trying to comfort him, said 'Don't be
afraid, all priests do that when they serve the Liturgy.' St. Nicholas
was often in difficulties with the hierarchy because he continued to
keep the feasts according to the Old Calendar after the Church in
Greece had adopted the New Calendar. Nonetheless, he never broke
communion with the national church (nor they with him): his humility
left no room for Church politics. He was later proclaimed a Saint, both
by the official 'New Calendar' Church of Greece and their 'Old
Calendar' opposition. Like St. John Maximovich, his holiness has
transcended the canonical disputes that bedevil the Church. He
reposed in peace in 1932.

192

TODAY IS MARCH 13

Saint Christina Martyr of Persia


FEAST DAY

The Holy Martyr St. Christina of Persia was a slave girl, her mistress
being the wife of the leading wine merchant in in what is today Yazd.
She was scourged to death for confessing her faith in Christ, during
the fourth century. Her mistress was also a follower of Christ, but St.
Christina kept her secret to her death. St. Christinas body was left in
the desert to rot, but her former mistress and a small number of other
followers in Christ secretly placed her in a grave that was used by the
local believers for Christian meetings. Many people were healed from
sickness while praying at her gravesite.

TODAY IS MARCH 14

Venerable Saint Benedict of Nursia


FEAST DAY

Saint Benedict, founder of Western monasticism, was born in the


Italian city of Nursia in the year 480. When he was fourteen years of
193

age, the saints parents sent him to Rome to study. Unsettled by the
immorality around him, he decided to devote himself to a different
sort of life. At first St. Benedict settled near the church of the holy
Apostle Peter in the village of Effedum, but news of his ascetic life
compelled him to go farther into the mountains. There he encountered
the hermit Romanus, who tonsured him into monasticism and directed
him to live in a remote cave at Subiaco. From time to time, the hermit
would bring him food. For three years the saint waged a harsh
struggle with temptations and conquered them. People soon began to
gather to him, thirsting to live under his guidance. The number of
disciples grew so much, that the saint divided them into twelve
communities. Each community was comprised of twelve monks and
was a separate skete. The saint gave each skete an igumen from
among his experienced disciples, and only the novice monks
remained with St. Benedict for instruction. The strict monastic Rule
St. Benedict established for the monks was not accepted by
everyone, and more than once he was criticized and abused by
dissenters. Finally he settled in Campagna and on Mount Cassino he
founded the Monte Cassino monastery, which for a long time was a
center

of

theological

education

for

the

Western

Church.

The

monastery possessed a remarkable library. St. Benedict wrote his


Rule, based on the experience of life of the Eastern desert-dwellers
and the precepts of St. John Cassian the Roman (February 29). The
Rule of St. Benedict dominated Western monasticism for centuries (by
the year 1595 it had appeared in more than 100 editions). The Rule
prescribed the renunciation of personal possessions, as well as
unconditional obedience, and constant work. It was considered the
duty of older monks to teach the younger and to copy ancient
manuscripts. This helped to preserve many memorable writings from
the first centuries of Christianity. Every new monk was required to
live as a novice for a year, to learn the monastic Rule and to become
194

acclimated to monastic life. Every deed required a blessing. The head


of this cenobitic monastery is the igumen. He discerns, teaches, and
explains. The igumen solicits the advice of the older, experienced
brethren, but he makes the final decisions. Keeping the monastic Rule
was strictly binding for everyone and was regarded as an important
step on the way to perfection. St. Benedict was granted by the Lord
the gift of foresight and wonderworking. He healed many by his
prayers. The monk foretold the day of his death in 547. The main
source for his Life is the second Dialogue of St. Gregory. St.
Benedicts sister, St. Scholastica, also became famous for her strict
ascetic life and was numbered among the saints.

TODAY IS MARCH 15

Holy Martyr Saint Nicander


FEAST DAY

The Holy Martyr Nicander suffered in Egypt under the emperor


Diocletian. He was a physician and during a time of persecution he
visited Christians in prison. He assisted them, brought them food, and
buried the dead. Once, he came to the place where the bodies of the
martyrs were thrown to be eaten by wild beasts. Fearing to bury them
by day, he waited for night and buried the bodies under cover of
darkness. They discovered St. Nicander and subjected him to terrible
tortures: they skinned him alive and then beheaded him in 302.
195

TODAY IS MARCH 16

Our Holy Father Saint Christodoulos,


Wonderworker of Patmos
FEAST DAY

Our Holy Father Saint Christodoulos, Wonderworker of Patmos, was


from the region of Nicaea, and was named John by his parents
Theodore and Anna. He took up the monastic life at an early age, and
was renamed Christodoulos ('Slave of Christ'). After going far in the
ascetical life, he was given permission by the Emperor Alexis I (10811118) to establish a church and monastery on the island of Patmos,
dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. Both the church and the
monastery stand and continue in use to this day. When Patmos was
attacked by the Arabs, he and his disciples fled to Euboea, where he
reposed. The Saint's disciples brought his relics back to his own
monastery, where they continue to work miracles by healing the sick
and answered request by prayer.

196

TODAY IS MARCH 17

Saint Alexios, Man of God


FEAST DAY

The rare title, "Man of God," was bestowed on St. Alexios for the
manner in which he gave himself over to Jesus Christ, forsaking a
bride even at the altar in order to fulfill to the letter the admonition
read to him while he was contemplating enlistment in the service of
the Lord. He kept his true identity a secret for an entire lifetime rather
than run the risk of betraying the Master through his own emotions
and there is no telling how much mental anguish he suffered in
silence for the sake of his commitment. When he felt the call he
answered with a hesitation for which he judged himself too harshly
and which he bore in mute secrecy. Alexios was born in 380 in the
eternal city of Rome during the reign of Theodosios the Great and was
raised in a royal household by his parents, Ephemios and Aglaia, who
discerned a predilection for the Church in their son, a religious fervor
they could not share and which they sought to discourage for fear
they would lose him. They lost no time in arranging for his marriage
and in impressing upon him the debt he owed to his parents, for which
he should respect their wishes in all things. He had reluctantly
suppressed the call he felt to the Lord's service and had agreed to the
marriage when he had a vision one day of St. Paul, who said he should
answer the call to God at all costs, reading to him the passage in
Matthew which says: "He that loveth father or mother more than me
is not worthy of me." The bewildered Alexios was torn between his
197

sense of duty to his parents and that urging to serve the Lord, and
swayed between both, at long last deciding to go through with what
he had promised his family. The feeling that he should go the other
way gnawed at him even as he stood at the altar, and when the
ceremony had been completed he looked upon the Cross of Jesus and
without a word walked away from his bride, family and friends to do
what he had to do. He stepped into the anonymity of a Syrian
monastery where for the next eighteen years he assumed another
identity, and never looked back at Rome. Having made a choice they
had opposed, he suspected his parents had disinherited him and that
his bride had had the marriage annulled, but this was not the case. As
a matter of fact, the bride had gone to live with his parents in the fond
hope that Alexios would someday return, and the parents spared no
expense in trying to locate their son, but after eighteen years with no
word from him they presumed him to be dead. In his eighteen years in
the monastery, Alexios was transformed into a respected holy man
whose solemn dedication to Jesus was the subject of many
discussions among not only the monks but the community which he
served. Unlike other monks, he was a man of few words and left the
preaching

and

sermonizing

to

other

brother

monks

while

he

concentrated on writing on many issues concerning the faith. He was


also known as the Monk who Prayed, and many of the surrounding
villagers took to him their prayer request that they claimed were
answered after Saint Alexios prayed for an answer. The vision that he
had had many years before of St. Paul still haunted him and he had a
burning desire to go to Tarsus, Paul's birthplace. He boarded a boat
bound for the short trip up the coast, but while at sea a violent storm
arose and blew the vessel miles off course also leaving her a derelict
at the mercy of the wind and tides. They were finally picked up by a
ship bound for Rome and Alexios found himself back in the city of his
birth. Nostalgia seized him and he went to the family estate, primarily
198

to get a glimpse of his folks, but when they failed to recognize him he
felt compelled to remain and was given the task of spiritual
counselor, not only to the estate, but to the neighboring families as
well. The abandoned bride was still living with the parents and she
also failed to recognize him, for which he was grateful, for he found
contentment in being able to serve the Lord while not revealing his
true identity, which he considered would be a disservice to the Savior
after all the years of anonymity. He went about his duties with grace
acquired and enjoyed the respect of families for miles around. When
he felt death drawing near, Alexios wrote a letter to his family in
which he expressed his love for them, which he could not do in life.
The letter was read posthumously not only by his family but by the
bishop of Rome, who had him interred in the chapel of St. Peter's. He
died for Christ on 17 March 440, after thirty-four years of celibacy and
anonymity.

TODAY IS MARCH 18

Saint Cyril the Archbishop of Jerusalem


FEAST DAY

Saint Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem, was born in Jerusalem in the


year 315 and was raised in strict Christian piety. Upon reaching the
age of maturity, he became a monk, and in the year 346 he became a
presbyter. In the year 350, upon the death of Archbishop Maximus, he
succeeded him on the episcopal throne of Jerusalem. As Patriarch of
Jerusalem, St. Cyril zealously fought against the heresies of Arius and
199

Macedonius. In so doing, he aroused the animosity of the Arian


bishops, who sought to have him deposed and banished from
Jerusalem. There was a miraculous portent in 351 at Jerusalem: at
the third hour of the day on the Feast of Pentecost, the Holy Cross
appeared in the heavens, shining with a radiant light. It stretched
from Golgotha above the Mount of Olives. St. Cyril reported this
portent to the Arian emperor Constantius (351-363), hoping to convert
him to Orthodoxy. The heretic Acacius, deposed by the Council of
Sardica,

was

formerly

the

Metropolitan

of

Caesarea,

and

he

collaborated with the emperor to have St. Cyril removed. An intense


famine struck Jerusalem, and St. Cyril expended all his wealth in
charity. But since the famine did not abate, the saint pawned church
utensils, and used the money to buy wheat for the starving. The
saints enemies spread a scandalous rumor that they had seen a
woman in the city dancing around in clerical garb. Taking advantage
of this rumor, the heretics forcibly expelled the saint. The saint found
shelter with Bishop Silvanus in Tarsus. After this, a local Council at
Seleucia, at which there were about 150 bishops, and among them St.
Cyril. The heretical Metropolitan Acacius did not want to allow him to
take a seat, but the Council would not consent to this. Acacius
stormed out of the Council, and before the emperor and the Arian
patriarch Eudoxius, he denounced both the Council and St. Cyril. The
emperor had the saint imprisoned. When the emperor Julian the
Apostate (361-363) ascended the throne he repealed all the antiOrthodox decrees of Constantius, seemingly out of piety. St. Cyril
returned to his own flock. But after a certain while, when Julian had
become

secure

upon

the

throne,

he

openly

apostasized

and

renounced Christ. He permitted the Jews to start rebuilding the


Temple of Jerusalem that had been destroyed by the Romans, and he
even provided them part of the funds for the building from the state
treasury. St. Cyril predicted that the words of the Savior about the
200

destruction of the Temple down to its very stones (Luke. 21:6) would
undoubtedly transpire, and the blasphemous intent of Julian would
come to naught. Soon there was such a powerful earthquake, that
even the solidly set foundation of the ancient Temple of Solomon
shifted in its place, and what had been rebuilt fell down and shattered
into dust. When the Jews resumed construction, a fire came down
from the heavens and destroyed the tools of the workmen. Great
terror seized everyone. On the following night, the Sign of the Cross
appeared on the clothing of the Jews, which they could not remove by
any means. After this heavenly confirmation of St. Cyrils prediction,
they banished him again, and the bishops throne was occupied by St.
Cyriacus. But St. Cyriacus soon suffered a martyrs death (October
28). After the emperor Julian perished in 363, St. Cyril returned to his
See, but during the reign of the emperor Valens (364-378) he was
exiled for a third time. It was only under the holy emperor St
Theodosius the Great (379-395) that he finally returned to his
archpastoral activity. In 381 St. Cyril participated in the Second
Ecumenical Council, which condemned the heresy of Macedonius and
affirmed the Nicea-Constantinople Symbol of Faith (Creed). St. Cyrils
works include twenty-three Instructions (Eighteen are Catechetical,
intended for those preparing for Baptism, and five are for the newlybaptized) and two discourses on Gospel themes: On the Paralytic,
and Concerning the Transformation of Water into Wine at Cana. At
the heart of the Catechetical Instructions is a detailed explanation of
the Symbol of Faith. The saint suggests that a Christian should
inscribe the Symbol of Faith upon the tablets of the heart. The
articles of the Faith, St. Cyril teaches, were not written through
human cleverness, but they contain everything that is most important
in all the Scriptures, in a single teaching of faith. Just as the mustard
seed contains all its plethora of branches within its small kernel, so
also does the Faith in its several declarations combine all the pious
201

teachings of the Old and the New Testaments. St. Cyril, a great
ascetic and a champion of Orthodoxy, died in the year 386.

TODAY IS MARCH 19

Saint Innocent of Komel


FEAST DAY

Saint Innocent of Komel and Vologda was born at Moscow, and was
descended from the Moscow princely family of Okhlyabinin. He
became a monk in the monastery of St. Cyril of White Lake (June 9),
and was put under the guidance of St. Nilus of Sora (May 7). Sts.
Innocent and Nilus wandered through the East visiting Palestine,
Constantinople, and spent several years at the monasteries of Mt.
Athos. Having returned to Rus, the saints did not return to their
original St. Cyril of White Lake monastery, but to solitary cells for
monastic seclusion. Out of love for wilderness-life they then withdrew
into the impassable forest at the River Sora, some fifteen versts from
the monastery. Here they set up a cross, dug a well, and built
separate cells, after the manner of the skete monasteries. A church
was built on a marshy spot, and there the hermits led strict lives.
Foreseeing his own demise, St. Nilus sent St. Innocent to the River
Nurma and predicted to him: God is sending you there, and yours
shall be a cenobitic monastery; after my death, my wilderness
monastery will remain as it was during my life, with the brothers
202

living separately each in his own cell. Upon the death of St. Nilus, his
holy disciple withdrew into the Vologda hinterland and in 1491 he
built a cell at the River Eda, which flows into the River Nurma. In a
short while disciples began to gather to him. Following the final
command of his teacher, St. Innocent did not seek any donations for
it. St. Innocent labored for thirty years at building his monastery. He
left behind an instruction for the brethren, based on the works of the
holy Fathers, particularly the writings of St. Nilus of Sora. St Innocent
bade them first of all to avoid wrangling and disputes and asked them
to preserve love for Christ and spiritual peace. The saint forbade
young and beardless monks to be accepted and tonsured at his
monastery, and he forbade women to enter the monastery. A monk
who left the monastery lost his right to a cell, and if he returned, then
he could occupy it only with the consent of the igumen and the
brethren. The monk asked that a future church be consecrated in the
name of St. John the Forerunner, and Baptizer of the Lord, in
commemoration of the Third Finding of his Venerable Head, because
St. John is a patron for all monks and wilderness dwellers (later, the
monastery was called Transfiguration after its chief temple). St.
Innocent died on March 19, 1521 at 80 years of age. In accordance
with his last wish, he was buried in a corner of the monastery near a
marsh. A stone was placed on his grave inscribed with the year,
month and day of his repose. When a monk became ill, he would pray
at the gravesite and was healed.

No monk was ever sick for more

than one day, and when the monks reached the age of 80, they died of
old age.

203

TODAY IS MARCH 20

Saint Photini, the Samaritan Woman


FEAST DAY

St. Photini lived in first century Palestine. She was the Samaritan
woman who Christ visited at the well asking her for water. It was she
who accepted the living water offered her by Christ Himself after
repenting from her many sins (John. 4:5-42). She went and told her
townspeople that she had met the Christ. For this, she is sometimes
recognized as the first to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. She
converted her five sisters (Sts. Anatole, Photo, Photis, Paraskeve, and
Kyriake) and her two sons (Victor and Joses). They all became
tireless evangelists for Christ. The apostles of Christ baptized her and
gave her the name of Photini which means the enlightened one. She
is remembered by the Church as a Holy Martyr and Equal to the
Apostles. After Sts. Peter and Paul were martyred, St. Photini and her
family left their homeland of Sychar, in Samaria, to travel to Carthage
to proclaim the Gospel of Christ there. Reports of this reached Nero,
and he commanded that the Christians be brought to him at Rome.
The Lord Himself appeared to the confessors and said, Fear not, for I
am with you. Nero, and all who serve him, will be vanquished. The
Lord said to Victor, From this day forward, your name will be
Photinus, because through you, many will be enlightened and will
believe in Me. The Lord then told the Christians to strengthen and
encourage Joses to persevere until the end. All these things, and
even future events, were revealed to St. Photini. She left Carthage in
the company of several Christians and joined the confessors in Rome.
204

At Rome, Emperor Nero ordered the saints to be brought before him,


and he asked them whether they truly believed in Christ. All the
confessors refused to renounce the Savior. The emperor then gave
orders to smash the martyrs finger joints. During the torture, the
confessors felt no pain, and their hands remained unharmed. Nero
ordered that St. Joses be blinded and locked up in prison, and St.
Photini and her five sisters, Anatola, Phota, Photis, Paraskeva and
Kyriake, were sent to the imperial court under the supervision of
Neros daughter, Domnina. St. Photini converted Domnina and her
servants to Christ. She also converted a sorcerer, who had brought
her poisoned food that was meant to kill her. Three years passed, and
Nero sent to the prison for one of his servants, who had been locked
up. The messengers reported to him that St. Joses, who had been
blinded, had completely recovered, and that people were visiting him
to hear him preaching. Indeed, the whole prison had been transformed
into a bright and fragrant place where God was glorified. Nero then
gave orders to crucify the saints, and to beat their naked bodies with
straps. On the fourth day, the emperor sent servants to see whether
the martyrs were still alive. Approaching the place of the tortures, the
servants fell blind. An angel of the Lord freed the martyrs from their
crosses and healed them. The saints took pity on the blinded
servants, and restored their sight by their prayers to the Lord. Those
who were healed came to believe in Christ and were soon baptized. In
a rage, Nero gave orders to flay the skin from St. Photini and to throw
her down a well. Joses had his legs cut off, then had their skin flayed
off and they were thrown to dogs. The sisters of St. Photini also
suffered terrible torments. Nero gave orders to cut off their breasts
and to flay their skin. St. Photini was removed from the well and
locked up in prison for twenty days. After this, Nero had St. Photini
brought to him and asked if she would now relent and offer sacrifice
to the idols. St. Photini spat in his face, and laughing at him, said, O
205

most impious of the blind, you profligate and stupid man! Do you think
me so deluded that I would consent to renounce my Lord Christ and
instead offer sacrifice to idols as blind as you? Hearing such words,
Nero gave orders to throw St. Photini down a well, where she
surrendered her soul to God in the year 66.

TODAY IS MARCH 21

Saint Serapion
FEAST DAY

Serapion lived in Egypt in the fourth century. Those were exciting


times for the Church and for St. Serapion. As a young man, he
received an impressive education in Christian theology and secular
subjects. For a while, he directed the famous Christian school that
taught the faith in Alexandria. Then Serapion went out into the desert
and became a monk. He met the famous hermit, St. Anthony of Egypt.
Serapion tried very hard to learn from and imitate him. When he died,
Anthony left Serapion one of his cloaks, which he treasured for the
rest of his life. Serapion became bishop of Thmuis, a city in lower
Egypt. He went to a very important meeting of bishops in Sardica in
347. Serapion proved to be a very brave bishop. He loved the truths of
the faith and tried to protect them from those who wanted to change
Christian beliefs. He worked with St. Athanasius, another brave
bishop. Both were outstanding for their courage. They combated false
teachings or heresies with their homilies and with their writings. Most
206

of St. Serapion's writings were lost. They were letters full of


instruction about the faith and an explanation of the Psalms. His most
important work, called the "Euchologion," was lost for hundreds of
years. It was found and published at the end of the nineteenth
century. Serapion died around the year 370

TODAY IS MARCH 22

Venerable Saint Isaac, the Founder of the


Dalmatian Monastery at Constantinople
FEAST DAY

St. Isaac lived during the fourth century, received monastic tonsure
and pursued ascetic labors in the desert. During the reign of the
emperor Valens, a zealous adherent of the Arian heresy, there was a
persecution

of

the

Orthodox,

and

churches

were

closed

and

destroyed. Hearing of the persecution, St. 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 River Danube were making war against the Empire. They seized
Thrace and advanced toward Constantinople. When the emperor
Valens was leaving the capital with his soldiers, St. Isaac cried out,
Emperor, unlock the churches of the Orthodox, and then the Lord will
aid you! But the emperor, disdaining the words of the monk,
confidently continued on his way. The saint repeated his request and
prophecy three times. The angry emperor ordered St. Isaac to be
207

thrown into a deep ravine, filled with thorns and mud, from which it
was impossible to escape. St. Isaac remained alive by Gods help, and
he emerged, overtook the emperor and said, You wanted to destroy
me, but three angels pulled me from the mire. Hear me, open up the
churches for the Orthodox and you shall defeat the enemy. If,
however, you do not heed me, then you shall not return. You will be
captured and burned alive. The emperor was astonished at the saints
boldness and ordered his attendants Saturninus and Victor to take
the monk and hold him in prison until his return. St. Isaacs 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 afire. After receiving news of the
emperors death, they released St. Isaac and honored him as a
prophet. Then the holy Emperor Theodosius 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. St. 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
the saint in Constantinople, where monks gathered around him. St.
Isaac was the monasterys igumen and spiritual guide. He also
nourished laypeople, and helped many of the poor and suffering. When
he had reached an advanced age, St. Isaac made St. Dalmatus
(August 3) igumen. The monastery was later named for Dalmatus. St.
Isaac died in the year 383.

TODAY IS MARCH 23

Saint Basil the Virgin-Martyr of Mangazea


FEAST DAY
208

St. Basil was born in 1587 in the very old town of Yaroslavl. Yaroslavl
was an important port on the Volga River. Basils father, Theodore,
was a poor merchant and his family often had very little food. Even
when he was a very small boy, St. Basil used to go to the church
every time he could. He loved Gods house and he wanted to be there
more than any place else. In those days, when a boy was twelve years
old, he could become an apprentice. An apprentice is someone who
works for a company without pay just to learn the business. The boss
pays the boys father a certain amount and then gives the boy food
and a place to live. Because Basils family was very poor, he agreed
to become an apprentice. The Saint became an apprentice for a
merchant in the Siberian town of Mangazeya. Siberia was a very
dangerous place, full of wild animals, warlike native tribes and
lawless men. The journey to Mangazeya was long, difficult and full of
danger. When St. Basil arrived there safely, he hurried to the church
to give thanks to God for His protection on the road. Then the boy
went to the merchants office where he was given the job of clerk. St.
Basil was a very good and careful worker. Soon he was given a more
responsible job in the company. Unfortunately, at that time Siberia
was a frontier area, and there were almost no women there. Because
of this, some men who had bestial passions used to commit
homosexual acts with young men and boys. St. Basils boss was one
of those perverse men. Soon after St Basil had arrived in Mangazeya,
the boss tried to entice the youth into homosexual relations. He tried
flattery, he offered Basil money and finally, he tried threats and
209

punishments. St. Basil only continued to fast and pray and ask God to
help him remain pure. The boss began to hate Basil. He was angry
that the boy would not submit to his evil lust, and he hated Basils
prayerful, religious life. He especially hated Basil for his meek and
humble personality. But no matter how much he persecuted and
mistreated the innocent lad, St. Basil continued to faithfully and
honestly perform all his duties and responsibilities. Finally, the
persecutions and slanders reached a terrible point. During the
Paschal Matins, thieves robbed the merchandise house in which Basil
worked. The boss, discovering the theft, went to the governor and
reported the theft. But then a terrible deed occurred: the merchant
hated Basil so much and the evil in him was so strong that he formally
accused the innocent youth of being the robber. Thus, on the day of
Christs Bright Pascha, when the Holy Church calls all people to
peace and love, this innocent, God-fearing boy was betrayed by a
false witness, just as Christ had been betrayed by false witnesses.
The governor did not even investigate the charges. He sent officers to
arrest St. Basil and drag him right out of the church. The governor and
Basils boss began to torture the boy in order to force a confession
from him. In spite of all the fierce tortures, the blessed one would only
reply meekly, I am innocent. The pain from the tortures became so
unbearable that the youth fainted, but when he came to, he again
quietly repeated, I am innocent. The meek, humble, Christ-like
endurance and peaceful reply of the young saint enraged the evil
merchant even more. Finally, he flew into a demonic rage and struck
the innocent virgin in the head with a heavy chain of keys. St. Basil
fell to the floor, sighed heavily and gave up his pure soul into the
hands of the Lord, on the day of Christs Radiant Pascha, 1600. He
was thirteen years old. In order to hide this foul crime, the Governor,
Mr. Pushkin, and the passion crazed merchant placed the body of the
Holy Martyr into a rough coffin and lowered it into a nearby marsh,
210

weighted down with stones. Rumors of the brutal murder circulated


around the town of Mangazeya almost immediately after the incident,
but God chose to conceal the sacred relics of His Saint for fifty-two
years. In 1652, during the tenure of the military governor Ignaty
Stepanovich Korsakov, God willed to reveal the glory of His Holy
Virgin Martyr. In that year, many wondrous events began to occur in
the area around Mangazeya. Many pious people had dreams in which
a beardless youth appeared to them and many ill people were healed
by this holy boy. A strange light was seen over the marsh and unseen
voices were heard chanting nearby. Then, the coffin of this saint rose
slowly to the top of the mud. A pious archer, Steven Shiryaev, noticed
the coffin, but did nothing about it. St. Basil appeared to him in a
dream and told him to open the coffin. The whole story of St. Basils
martyrdom became known. The coffin was brought out of the swamp
and opened. Inside, they found the sacred relics of the saint, whole
and incorrupt. A chapel was built over the relics and many people
received healings through the prayers of the young Martyr.

TODAY IS MARCH 24

Martyr Saint Stephen of Kazan


FEAST DAY

The Holy Martyr Stephen of Kazan was a Tatar. For more than twenty
years, he suffered from a weakness of the legs. After the capture of
211

Kazan by Ivan the Terrible (1552), he believed in Christ and received


healing. The saint was baptized by Archpriest Menignus of the
Moscow cathedral, who had brought a letter from Metropolitan
Macarius to the Russian army. After the Russian army withdrew from
Kazan, the Tatars chopped the martyr Stephen into pieces, scattered
his body and plundered his house, because he remained faithful to
Christ.

TODAY IS MARCH 25

Hieromartyr Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow


FEAST DAY

Born in 1865, he was tonsured a monk in 1891, and consecrated a


Bishop in 1891. From 1900, he was Bishop of Alaska, with oversight of
the Church throughout North America. In America, he consecrated the
first Orthodox monastery on the continent and worked tirelessly to
unite all ethnic groups as one flock. In 1907 he was made Bishop of
Yaroslavl and returned to Russia. In 1917, he was elected to be the
first Patriarch of Moscow since the abolition of the Patriarchate by
Tsar Peter the Great more than 200 years before. Almost immediately,
the Russian Church was plunged into new and terrible persecution as
an atheist and totalitarian government seized control. Patriarch
Tikhon always sought not to quarrel with the Communist government,
but his refusal to deny his faith or his Church marked him in their eyes
as an enemy. In 1925 he died under mysterious circumstances, and is
212

generally thought to have been murdered by the Soviets. He is


commemorated as a Martyr.

TODAY IS MARCH 26

Saint Maxima
FEAST DAY

St. Maxima and her priest-husband, St. Montanus, lived in Singidunum


(present-day Belgrade in Serbia) in the fourth century during the time
of Emperor Diocletians persecution of Christians. The Emperors
deputy, Galerius, issued an edict requiring Christians to offer
sacrifices to the idols. The pious couple refused, and continued to
conduct their lives according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They
traveled

to

Sirmium

(west

of

Belgrade)

in

order

to

distance

themselves from the seat of power. However, in the year 304, they
were seized by Roman soldiers and brought to stand trial before
Governor Probus. As they stood before the governor on a bridge
overlooking the Sava River, the captives were given the choice of
sacrifice to the idols or death. St. Montanus showed great heroism
and explained that if he were to sacrifice to the idols, it would be
tantamount to rejecting Jesus Christ as God and Lord of heaven and
earth, and he refused to comply. Frustrated and intending to take
advantage of her weaker sex, Probus tried to persuade St. Maxima
213

to deny Christ. Much to the surprise of the crowd, her fidelity and
apostolic courage proved to be as great, if not greater, than her
husbands. St. Maxima defended her faith so convincingly and with
such eloquent zeal that Probus cut the trial short, fearing mass
conversions

to

Christianity.

Sts.

Maxima

and

Montanus

were

beheaded by the sword, and their remains were thrown into the Sava
River. The faithful, and those converted by the zeal of the holy couple,
willingly endangered their lives in order to rescue the bodies and
heads of the martyrs from the river. The relics were transported to
Rome and interred in the Catacombs of St. Priscilla on the Salarian
Way where they remained for 1,500 years. In 1804, certain tombs in
the Catacombs of St. Priscilla were opened. The many relics that
were discovered were presented to various Roman Catholic churches
and to notable families in Rome. St. Maximas relics were found to be
in a remarkable state of preservation. They were ultimately presented
to the influential Sinibaldi family, and for over a hundred years, her
relics were venerated at the altar of their private chapel in Rome. In
1927, the Sinibaldi family presented St. Maximas relics to the Poor
Clares of San Lorenzo Monastery in Rome who, in turn, presented
them to the Poor Clares Monastery in Chicago, Illinois, where they
remained for forty years. For the next few decades, St. Maximas
relics were transported from one monastery or priest to another,
including Father Joseph Louro, a Roman Catholic missionary in South
America. After Father Louros death, St. Maximas relics found a
permanent home with the Byzantine Poor Clares in North Royalton,
Ohio. Wherever her relics journeyed, veneration of St. Maxima grew
because of the boundless miracles that occurred through her
intercessions. It was, however, the impact of her life that most
impressed the faithful. The visible presence of a priests wife who, in
a time of confusion and darkness, confronted evil with selfless
courage and willingly gave her life confessing Christ has inspired
214

countless people to live their Christian faith without counting the


cost.

TODAY IS MARCH 27

Saint Gregory Palamas


FEAST DAY

St. Gregory Palamas (1296-1359), Archbishop of Thessaloniki, was the


defender of the Hesychasts [Greek: , hesychasmos, from
, hesychia, "stillness, rest, quiet, silence" is an eremitic
tradition of prayer in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern
Catholic

Churches

of

Byzantine

Rite

practised

(Gk:

hesychazo: "to keep stillness") by the Hesychast (Gr. ,


hesychastes)]. He upheld the doctrine that the human body played an
important part in prayer, and he argued that the Hesychasts did
indeed experience the Divine and Uncreated Light of Tabor [In
Eastern Orthodox theology, the Tabor Light (also Light of Tabor,
Tabor's Light, Taboric Light; Greek: , also as
, Uncreated Light, , Divine Light; Russian:
) is the light revealed on Mount Tabor at the Transfiguration of
Jesus, identified with the light seen by Paul at his conversion]. To
explain how this was possible, St. Gregory developed the distinction
between the essence and the energies of God. He set Hesychasm on
a firm dogmatic basis, by integrating it into Orthodox theology, and by
showing how the Hesychast vision of Divine Light in no way
215

undermined the doctrine that God can not be comprehended. His


teachings were confirmed by the local councils held in Constantinople
in 1341 and 1351. St. Gregory began by reaffirming the Biblical
doctrine of man and of the Incarnation; i.e. the whole man, united in
body and soul, was created in the image of God, and Christ, by taking
a human body at the Incarnation, has 'made the flesh an inexhaustible
source of sanctification'. The Hesychasts, so he argued, in placing
emphasis on the body's part in prayer, are not guilty of a gross
materialism but are simply remaining faithful to the Biblical doctrine
of man as a unity. Christ took human flesh and saved the whole man;
therefore it is the whole man that prays to God. How is it possible for
man to know God and, at the same time, affirm that God is by nature
unknowable? St. Gregory answered this question by quoting St. Basil
the Great who said "We know our God from His energies, but we do
not claim that we can draw near to His essence. For His energies
come down to us, but His essence remains unapproachable". St.
Gregory added "God is not a nature, for He is above all beings.... No
single thing of all that is created has or ever will have even the
slightest communion with the supreme nature, or nearness to it".
Even though God's essence may be remote from us, He has revealed
Himself through His energies (or grace). These energies do not exist
apart from God, but are God Himself in His action and revelation to
the world. It is through these energies that God enters into a direct
and immediate relationship with us. When we say that the saints are
'deified' by the grace of God, we mean that they have a direct
experience of God Himself through his energies (or grace), not in His
essence. The vision of Light that Hesychasts receive is the same
Light that surrounded Christ on Mount Tabor. It is a true vision of God
in His divine energies. Because his teaching was profound eternal
truths which were Divinely Inspired, he is revered as a saint of
Orthodoxy.
216

TODAY IS MARCH 28

Venerable Saint John, Bishop of Manglisi


FEAST DAY

Saint John (Saakadze) of Manglisi was born in 1668 and spiritually


nurtured in the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. Outstanding in virtue, John
was quickly ordained a hieromonk, and soon after consecrated
bishop of Manglisi. In 1724 St. John left Davit-Gareji for Derbend,
Dagestan, where he constructed a wooden church and began to
preach Christianity among the local people. He labored there with
eleven other pious believers. St. Johns humble life and the miracles
he performed attracted the attention of the Muslim Dagestanis, and
even the government took notice of his tireless evangelical activity.
Throughout his life, he was able to heal the sick, cast out daemons
and his intercessory prayers were always answered. At that time
the Georgian King Vakhtang VI (1703-1724) and Tsar Peter the
Great

of

Russia

were

corresponding

regularly

about

the

evangelization of the Caspian seacoast. Both kings recognized the


importance of St. Johns activity in regard to this matter, and they
generously contributed to his efforts. With their help, St. John built
one church in honor of the Nativity of the Theotokos and another in
honor of Great-martyr Catherine. In 1737 John left his disciples in
Dagestan and journeyed to Astrakhan, near the place where the
Volga flows into the Caspian Sea. There he constructed a church in
honor of St. John the Evangelist, which was converted into a
monastery in 1746. Archimandrite Herman, one of St. Johns
217

disciples, was elevated as abbot of this monastery. While in


Astrakhan, St. John discovered that many ethnic Georgians were
passing through the city of Kizliar in Ossetia, but they did not have
a church in which to celebrate the divine services. So he traveled to
Kizliar and, with help from his kinsmen, built a church and opened a
preparatory school for clergy nearby. On March 28, 1751, St. John
reposed in Kizliar at the age of eighty. He was buried in the church
that he himself had constructed. Later, by order of King Teimuraz II
(1744-1761), the myrrh-streaming relics of St. John were translated
to Tbilisi and buried in Sioni Cathedral, in front of the Manglisi Icon
of the Mother of God.

TODAY IS MARCH 29

Hieromartyr Saint Mark the Bishop of Arethusa


FEAST DAY

Hieromartyr [In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, a hieromartyr is is one


who suffers torture or is a martyr (one who dies for his beliefs) who
was a bishop or priest] Mark, Bishop of Arethusa, suffered for his faith
in Christ under the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). By order of
the emperor Constantine, St. Mark had once destroyed a pagan
temple and built a Christian church. When Julian came to the throne,
he persecuted Christians and tried to restore paganism. Some
218

citizens of Arethusa renounced Christianity and became pagans. Then


St. Marks enemies decided to take revenge on him. The old bishop
hid himself from the persecutors at first, but then gave himself up
when he learned that the pagans had tortured many people in their
search for him. The holy Elder was led through the city and given over
to torture. They tore out his hair, slashed his body, dragged him along
the street, dumped him in a swamp, tied him up, and cut him with
knives. The pagans demanded that the holy bishop pay them a large
sum of money to rebuild the pagan temple, and he refused to do so.
The persecutors invented several new torments: they squeezed the
Elder in a foot-press, and they cut off his ears with linen cords.
Finally, they smeared the holy martyrs body with honey and grease,
then hung him up in a basket in the hot mid-day sun to be eaten by
bees, wasps, and hornets. St. Mark did not seem to notice the pain,
and this irritated the tormentor all the more. The pagans kept
lowering the price he had to pay for their temple, but St. Mark refused
to give them a single coin. Admiring him for his courage and
endurance, the pagans stopped asking him for money and set him
free. When he returned to his loggings, he was healed of any marks of
the torture he had endured and from that day on he was able to heal
all those who were brought to him from their sickness. Many of his
tormenters turned to Christ after hearing his talks.

219

TODAY IS MARCH 30

Saint John Climacus of Sinai


FEAST DAY

St. John Climacus of Sinai accepted the ascetical life from the age of
about sixteen and was tonsured as a monk three or four years later.
Then, at the age of 35, he isolated himself from the world and lived as
a hermit for 40 years at a monastery church called Thola, about 10
kilometres from the Mount Sinai monastery. While living an ascetical
life he is reported to have received the gift of tears and the grace of
continual prayer. Fellow monks in large numbers began to seek him
out for spiritual guidance. When criticized for making a mockery of his
hermitage by entertaining so many people there, he decided to keep
total silence. After a year or so of this, those who had criticized him
pleaded with him to resume guiding others. Experienced both in the
solitary life of the hermit and in the communal life of cenobitic
[Cenobitic (or coenobitic) monasticism is a monastic tradition that
stresses community life] monasticism, he was appointed Abbot of the
Monastery at Mount Sinai (built at the site of the burning bush where
Moses spoke to God). The day he was made Abbot of Sinai, the
Prophet Moses was seen giving commands to those who served at the
table. St. John wrote a book containing thirty homilies. Each homily
deals with one virtue, and progressing from those that deal with holy
and righteous praxis [activity] unto those that deal with theoria
[divine vision], they raise a man up as though by means of steps unto
220

the height of Heaven; thus the book is called "The Ladder of Divine
Ascent", and the saint is known as "Climacus". "The Ladder of Divine
Ascent" is so God-inspired that this book greatly esteemed in the
Orthodox Christian Church that its author, St. John Climacus, is
celebrated twice a year - on 30th March (the day of his repose), and
the Fourth Sunday of the Great Lent. Each monastic community of the
Orthodox Church reads "The Ladder of Divine Ascent" during each day
of the Great Lent, in their common dining hall (or refectory) during the
daily meal. This is a period of strict fasting, struggle, prostration and
extensive prayers; when only one meal is eaten in the day and after 3
pm, and water is only consumed during 3-6pm. The book, by means of
thirty steps (or logoi), calls us to the spiritual life; it inspires,
instructs, speeds the reader towards the "things on high", and pointsout the dangers and pitfalls. Each step describes the origin of a
certain virtue or passion and the path it can take us. The Ladder does
not offer us a formula to accomplish salvation, for "the life you have is
hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3), but: "Let us try to learn Divine
truth more by toil and sweat than by mere word, for at the time of our
departure it is not words but deeds that will have to be shown" (Step
26:36 in St. John Climacus book). Saint John reposed in 603, at eighty
years of age.

TODAY IS MARCH 31

Saint Jonah the Metropolitan of Moscow


and All Russia
FEAST DAY

221

Saint Jonah, Metropolitan of Moscow and Wonderworker of All Russia,


was born in the city of Galich into a pious Christian family. The father
of the future saint was named Theodore. The youth received monastic
tonsure in one of the Galich monasteries when he was only twelve
years old. From there, he transferred to the Moscow Simonov
monastery, where he fulfilled various obediences for many years.
Once, St. Photius, Metropolitan of Moscow, visited the Simonov
monastery. After the Molieben, he blessed the archimandrite and
brethren, and also wished to bless those monks who were fulfilling
their obediences in the monastery. When he came to the bakery, he
saw St. Jonah sleeping, exhausted from his work. The fingers of the
saints right hand were positioned in a gesture of blessing. St Photius
said not to wake him. He blessed the sleeping monk and predicted to
those present that this monk would be a great hierarch of the Russian
Church, and would guide many on the way to salvation. The prediction
of St. Photius was fulfilled. Several years later, St. Jonah was made
Bishop of Ryazan and Murom. St. Photius died in 1431. Five years
after his death, St. Jonah was chosen Metropolitan of All Russia for
his virtuous and holy life. The newly-elected Metropolitan journeyed to
Constantinople in order to be confirmed as Metropolitan by Patriarch
Joseph II. Shortly before this the nefarious Isidore, a Bulgarian, had
already been established as Metropolitan by Joseph II. Spending a
short time at Kiev and Moscow, Isidore journeyed to the Council of
Florence (1438), where he embraced Catholicism. A Council of
Russian hierarchs and clergy deposed Metropolitan Isidore, and he
was compelled to flee secretly to Rome (where he died in 1462). St.
Jonah was unanimously chosen Metropolitan of All Russia. He was
222

consecrated by Russian hierarchs in Moscow, with the blessing of


Patriarch Gregory III of Constantinople. This was the first time that
Russian bishops consecrated their own Metropolitan. St. Jonah
became Metropolitan on December 15, 1448. With archpastoral zeal
he led his flock to virtue and piety, spreading the Orthodox Faith by
word and by deed. Despite his lofty position, he continued with his
monastic struggles as before. In 1451 the Tatars unexpectedly
advanced on Moscow; they burned the surrounding area and prepared
for an assault on the city. Metropolitan Jonah led a procession along
the walls of the city, tearfully entreating God to save the city and the
people. Seeing the dying monk Anthony of the Chudov monastery, who
was noted for his virtuous life, St. Jonah said, My son and brother
Anthony! Pray to the Merciful God and the All-Pure Mother of God for
the deliverance of the city and for all Orthodox Christians. The
humble Anthony replied, Great hierarch! We give thanks to God and
to His All-Pure Mother. She has heard your prayer and has prayed to
Her Son. The city and all Orthodox Christians will be saved through
your prayers. The enemy will soon take flight. The Lord has ordained
that I alone am to be killed by the enemy. Just as the Elder said this,
an enemy arrow struck him. The prediction of Elder Anthony was
made on July 2, on the Feast of the Placing of the Robe of the Most
Holy Theotokos. Confusion broke out among the Tatars, and they fled
in fear and terror. In his courtyard, St. Jonah built a church in honor of
the Placing of the Robe of the Most Holy Theotokos, to commemorate
the deliverance of Moscow from the enemy. St. Jonah reposed in the
year 1461, and miraculous healings began to take place at his grave.
In 1472 the incorrupt relics of Metropolitan Jonah were uncovered
and placed in the Dormition Cathedral of the Kremlin (the Transfer of
the holy Relics is celebrated May 27). A Council of the Russian Church
in 1547 established the commemoration of St. Jonah, Metropolitan of
Moscow.
223

224

TODAY IS APRIL 1

Martyr Saint Abraham of Bulgaria


FEAST DAY

The Holy Martyr St. Abraham the Bulgar, Vladimir Wonderworker, lived
during the thirteenth century, and was descended from the Kamska
Bulgars and brought up as a Moslem. He was good and kindly towards
the destitute, and when the Lord enlightened him with the light of
reason, he accepted Christianity. In the city of Bolgara, on the lower
stretches of the Volga, St. Abraham began to preach to his fellow
countrymen about the true God. They seized him and tried to force
him to renounce Christ, but the saint remained firm in his confession.
They tortured the martyr fiercely and for a long while, but he endured
everything with unshakable patience. On April 1, 1229 they quartered
the holy Martyr Abraham, and then cut off his venerable head. Russian
Christians living in the city buried the saints body in the Christian
cemetery. On March 6, 1230, the relics of St. Abraham were
transferred by the Great Prince St. George Vsevolodovich of Vladimir
to the Dormition cathedral of the Knyaginin (Princess) monastery.
Worshipers at his reliquary were healed by calling upon his name in
faithful prayer. His memory began to be celebrated from that time.

TODAY IS APRIL 2

Saint George Matskevereli of Georgia


FEAST DAY
225

St. George of Atsquri lived at the end of the 9th and the beginning of
the 10th centuries. A member of the aristocratic and pious Shuartqeli
family, St. George was raised and educated in the environs of
Georgias renowned Opiza Monastery in Klarjeti. Four years after the
death of the great feudal lord George Chorchaneli, St. George
succeeded him as ruler of the Samtskhe region. At that time a bitter
conflict arose over who was the rightful heir to Chorchanelis
inheritance, of which St. George prayed to go for victory that was
granted to him. While serving as the chief political leader of
Samtskhe, St. George also directed the regions spiritual life, wisely
administering the ancient Atsquri diocese for many years. According
to tradition, the diocese of Atsquri was founded by the holy Apostle
Andrew the First-called, who left there the Not-Made-By-Hands icon
of the Most Holy Theotokos (known as the Atsquri Icon of the Mother
of God) as an offering to the Georgian Church. Though his literary
works have not been preserved, St. George is also commemorated as
a great writer of the Church. A few biographical details about St.
George of Atsquri have been preserved in the writings of the famous
10th-century Georgian hagiographers George Merchule and Basil of
Zarzma.In his book The Life of St. Grigol of Khandzta, St. George
Merchule notes that St. George of Atsquri made some of the most
significant contributions to the biographical writings on St. Grigol of
Khandzta. St. George of Atsquri was a close companion of St.
Serapion of Zarzma. He was present at his burial and contributed
much to the hagiographical writings on his life and works.
226

TODAY IS APRIL 3

Saint Nicetas the Confessor


FEAST DAY

Our Holy Father (824) St. Nicetas the Confessor was born in Caesarea
of Bithynia. His widowed father became a monk, leaving Nicetas to
the care of his grandmother. Nicetas himself, when he was grown,
entered a monastery in Midikion, on the Sea of Marmara. After seven
years of monastic life he was ordained hieromonk [Hieromonk (Greek:
,

Ieromonachos;

Slavonic:

Ieromonakh,

Romanian:

Ieromonah), also called a Priestmonk, is a monk who is also a priest


in the Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholicism.] by Patriarch
Tarasios. When Nikephoros, the abbot of the monastery, died, the
brethren chose Nicetas as their new abbot. When Leo the Armenian
became Emperor, he revived the iconoclast heresy, even though it
had been put down under the Empress Irene and condemned by an
Ecumenical Council. The Emperor deposed and exiled the holy
Patriarch Nicephoros, putting a heretic in his place. Nicetas, because
he was known for his holiness and steadfast reverence for the holy
icons, was imprisoned and tortured, but did not waver in his defense
of Orthodoxy. Nicetas was taken from prison to prison, torture to
torture, and exiled twice, until at last Leo the Armenian died and the
Orthodox Emperor Michael came to the throne and freed all those
imprisoned for Orthodoxy. Once freed, Nicetas retired to a secluded
hermitage near Constantinople, where he passed the remainder of his
life in prayer and thanksgiving. When he died, his body was taken
back to his monastery; during the journey, many of the sick who
touched his holy body were healed.
227

TODAY IS APRIL 4

Saint Nicetas of Pojani and Serres


FEAST DAY

The holy New Martyr St. Nicetas was a Slav from Albania, but we
know nothing of his family or his early life. He lived on Mt. Athos in
the Russian monastery of St. Panteleimon, then lived in the Skete of
St. Anne. Burning with a desire for martyrdom, he decided to travel to
Serres. He arrived on March 30, 1808 (Great and Holy Monday) and
stopped at a local monastery. In speaking to the igumen, he revealed
that he was a hieromonk from Mt. Athos. At midnight, the igumen was
making his customary rounds of the monastery when he saw someone
standing in the moonlight praying on the church porch. As he came
closer, he could see that it was Father Nicetas, who revealed his
intention to shed his blood for Christ. After speaking with the saint for
a while, the igumen continued his rounds and left Fr. Nicetas to pray.
In

the

morning,

Fr.

Nicetas

received

Communion

from

the

Presanctified Gifts, then went to a mosque outside the city. There he


debated religion with a Moslem teacher and his disciples. St. Nicetas
approached one of them, noticing that he was lame. The saint asked
the man why he did not seek healing from his infirmity. The man said
that it was impossible for him to be cured, since he had been born
this way. The monk replied that the man could be cured easily, if he
would agree to obey him. The afflicted man looked at him with
amazement and asked, How must I obey you? Believe in Jesus
Christ as the one true God. If you are baptized, I promise you that you
228

will be healthy and no trace of your lameness will remain. The man
said nothing, but went to his teacher to report what the monk had
said to him. The teacher questioned St. Nicetas about where he had
come from, and what he had said to his disciple. Fearlessly, the
warrior of Christ told him he was from Albania and had come to
preach Christianity. Feeling pity for the lame man, he had advised him
to believe in Christ so that he might receive his bodily health and the
Kingdom of Heaven after death. The teacher sent word to the mayor
that a monk had come to their city and was speaking against their
religion. St. Nicetas was locked up in prison for the night, and the
next day he was interrogated by Moslem religious leaders. Since they
could not defeat him with reason, they tortured him and hanged him in
the evening of Great and Holy Saturday in 1808. He was left hanging
until Bright Tuesday, when Christians were given permission to take
his body and bury it. Pilgrims who even today pray at his gravesite
are healed of body sickness.

229

TODAY IS APRIL 5

Saint Mark of Trache


FEAST DAY

Our Holy Father Mark of Trache (270~400) is also called 'Mark the
Athenian' because he was born in Athens. When his parents died, he
pondered the transience of all earthly things, gave his goods to the
poor, and embarked on a plank in the sea, asking God to lead him
wherever He desired. By God's providence, Mark was cast up on the
shores of Libya, where he settled as a hermit on a mountain called
Trache. (Some say it was in Ethiopia, but this seems less likely.)
There he lived for ninety-five years, healing the sick and praying for
the poor. Saint Serapion visited him before his death and recorded his
life. Serapion asked Mark if there were any Christians whose faith
was so great that they could say to a mountain 'Get up and cast
yourself into the sea,' and it would be so. Immediately the mountain
on which they stood began to move like a wave, but Mark raised his
hand and stilled it. On his deathbed, St. Mark prayed for the salvation
of all men and gave up his soul to God. Saint Serapion saw an angel
carrying Mark's soul, and a hand extended from heaven to receive it.
Saint Mark was about 130 years old when he reposed.

230

TODAY IS APRIL 6

Saint Eutychius
FEAST DAY

St. Eutychius, patriarch of Constantinople (582) was born to devout


and noble parents in Phrygia. Though his father was a prominent
officer, he entered monastic life when young, and became abbot of a
monastery in Amasea at the age of thirty. In 553 he was sent to the
Fifth Ecumenical Council as the representative of the Metropolitan of
Amasea.

At

the

Council,

he

was

one

of

those

who

argued,

successfully, that heretics could be anathematized after their deaths.


The most prominent case in point was Origen, the brilliant Christian
philosopher who had written that all will eventually be saved.
Eutychius' position thus earned him the enmity of the Origenists, who
still made up an influential group in the Church. Saint Eutychius
became a trusted confidante of the Emperor Justinian, and when
Menas, Patriarch of Constantinople, reposed, Eutychius was chosen
to replace him. Eutychius ruled in peace for twelve years, but was
then cast into controversy when he boldly opposed one of the most
hard-to-pronounce

heresies

in

the

history

of

the

Church:

Aphthartodocetism, the belief that Christ, before his resurrection,


possessed an incorruptible body, not subject to hunger, thirst or pain
(though the scriptures plainly speak of Christ being weary, hungry,
thirsty, weeping). The Emperor Justinian for a time fell into this
variant of the Monophysite heresy, and exiled Eutychius to his
monastery for twelve years. During these years Eutychius showed
231

himself to be a wonder-worker, healing many of their diseases


through his prayers. Justinian repented shortly before his death, and
his successor, Justin II, called Eutychius back to the Patriarchal
throne, where he served the Church in peace until his repose at the
age of seventy.

TODAY IS APRIL 7

Saint George the Confessor


Bishop of Mitylene
FEAST DAY

Saint George, Metropolitan of Mytilene, from his youth he led a


monastic life, and was especially accomplished in the virtue of
humility. In the reign of Leo the Isaurian (716-741) the saint
underwent persecution from the iconoclasts and became a Confessor.
During the reign of the emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitos (780797) St. George was elevated to the archbishopal cathedral of the city
of Mytilene on the island of Lesbos. His life was radiant with prudence
and purity and resembled the life of angels. He possessed a gift of
wonderworking,

cast

out unclean

spirits and

healed incurable

diseases. The saint distinguished himself by his compassion, and he


helped all the needy. In 815, during the reign of the iconoclast Leo the
Armenian (813-820), the holy Archpastor was banished and sent to
Cherson, where he died after the year 820. At the hour of his death a
bright star shone in the heavens over the city of Mytilene.
232

TODAY IS APRIL 8

Saint Herodion
FEAST DAY

Holy Apostles St. Herodion is mentioned in the Epistles of St. Paul.


Herodion was a kinsmen of St. Paul: Greet Herodion, who is a
relative of mine (Romans 16:11). After many sufferings for the
Gospel, he worked with the Apostle Peter in Rome, and was beheaded
with him. His body was secretly carried to Cenchreae, a village about
7 kilometres (4.3 mi) southeast of Corinth, where he was buried in a
clandestine cave. When Christians from around the area visited the
cave to pray, their prayers were always answered.

TODAY IS APRIL 9

Monkmartyr Saint Bademus of Persia


FEAST DAY

Monk Martyr Archimandrite Bademus (Vadim) was born in the fourth


century in the Persian city of Bithlapata, and was descended from a
233

rich and illustrious family. In his youth, he was enlightened with the
Christian teaching. The saint gave away all his wealth to the poor and
withdrew into the wilderness, where he founded a monastery. He
would go up on a mountain for solitary prayer, and once was
permitted to behold the Glory of God. During this period the Persian
emperor

Sapor

(310-381)

began

to

persecute

Christians.

They

arrested St. Bademus and his seven disciples, and tortured them in
prison, hoping that they would renounce Christ and worship the sun
and fire. But St. Bademus and his disciples held firmly to the Christian
Faith. The confessors spent four months in jail. All this time St.
Bademus was a spiritual leader and support for the Christians living in
Persia. One of the associates of the emperor Sapor, Nirsanes, was a
Christian and suffered imprisonment for this. He did not hold up under
torture and denied Christ, promising to fulfill whatever the emperor
commanded. Sapor demanded that Nirsanes personally cut off the
head of St. Bademus. For this he was promised a reprieve and great
rewards. Nirsanes was not able to overcome his fear of new tortures,
and he agreed to follow the path of betrayal walked by Judas. When
they brought St. Bademus to him, he took the sword and turned
toward him, but overcome by conscience, he trembled and stood
petrified. St. Bademus said to him, Has your wickedness now
reached this point, Nirsanes, that you should not only renounce God,
but also murder His servants? Woe to you, accursed one! What will
you do on that day when you stand before the Dread Judgment Seat?
What answer will you give to God? I am prepared to die for Christ, but
I dont want to receive death at your hands. Nirsanes struck with the
sword, but his hands shook, and he could not behead the saint
immediately, and the fire-worshippers began to call him a coward.
The holy martyr Bademus stood motionless, enduring many terrible
blows, until the murderer succeeded in cutting off his head. The just
punishment for his misdeeds were not slow in overtaking the hapless
234

fellow. Tormented by his conscience, he did away with himself the


next day, throwing himself on a sword. After the death of the emperor
Sapor, the seven disciples of St. Bademus were released from prison.

TODAY IS APRIL 10

Saint Gregory, Patriarch of Constantinople


FEAST DAY

Hieromartyr Gregory, Patriarch of Constantinople (1821) was born on


the Peloponnese, and became Archbishop of Smyrna in 1785. He
served at a time when revolutionary feeling and activity was
increasing among the Greek people, and witnessed the cruel
retribution that the Ottoman Turks visited on any evidence of
rebellion among their subject people.

Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople shortly before his execution,


as depicted by Nikiphoros Lytras.

Once in Smyrna, seeing that an action he had taken was causing


discord in his dioceses, he came down from the hierarchical throne
during a service, prostrated himself before the faithful and asked their
forgiveness. He was elected Patriarch of Constantinople in 1797.
Under the Turkokratia, the Patriarch was not only the head of the
235

Greek churches but the secular ruler of the Greek people, bound by
oath to respect the authority of the Sultan. This, combined with
Gregory's personal experience of the treatment of Greek rebels, made
him a staunch opponent of revolutionary activity among his people.
Still, when revolutionaries on the Peloponnese declared Greek
independence from Turkey on March 25, 1821, Turkish retribution was
harsh: On Pascha, April 10, after serving the Paschal Liturgy, the aged
Patriarch was arrested by the Turkish authorities. He was tortured in
an effort to have him reveal the names of those heading the
revolution, then was offered his freedom if he would convert to Islam.
Gregory answered, 'You ask in vain: the Patriarch of Christians dies a
Christian.' He (along with other clergy and hierarchs) was hanged as a
traitor on the gate of the patriarchal compound. An eyewitness, a
British

clergyman

visiting

Constantinople,

wrote:

'His

body,

attenuated by abstinence and emaciated by age, had not sufficient


weight to cause immediate death. He continued for a long time in
pain which no friendly hand dared abridge, and the darkness of night
came on before his final convulsions were over.' His body was left
hanging for three days, then sold by the Turkish authorities to a
Jewish mob, who mutilated the body, then weighted it about the neck
with a stone and threw it into the sea. Despite this, the body was
found floating at sea by a Greek merchant ship captain. When the
body was identified as that of the martyred Patriarch, it was secretly
taken to Odessa, where Orthodox Church leaders took it under their
care. Tsar Alexander I ordered a state funeral for the holy hierarch,
which was celebrated on June 17 1821 in Odessa.

Painting by Peter von Hess depicting the casting of the corpse of Patriarch
Gregory V of Constantinople into the Bosphorus

236

In 1871 the relics were returned to Greece by Tsar Alexander III. They
were incorrupt, though fifty years had passed since his death. Saint
Gregory was officially glorified in 1921. His relics may be venerated at
the Metropolitan Cathedral in Athens.

TODAY IS APRIL 11

Saint Barsanuphius the Bishop of Tver


FEAST DAY

Saint Barsanuphius of Tver was born in the year 1495, and was from
Serpukhov. He was named John in Baptism, and he was taught to
read and write. While still a youth, he was captured by the Crimean
Tatars. Accepting this as the Lords will, he meekly submitted to his
masters, and dutifully accomplished the work they assigned him to
do. After three years, Johns father ransomed him. He then went to
Moscow and became a monk in the Andronikov Monastery, where he
received the monastic name Barsanuphius. Devoting himself to the
ascetical life, he became proficient in virtue and piety. In 1544, he
was appointed as igumen of the Pesnosha Monastery. Later, he went
to Kazan and founded a monastery dedicated to the Transfiguration of
the Lord. While in Kazan, Archimandrite Barsanuphius was able to
help St. Gurias in spreading Christianity among the Moslems and
pagans. His knowledge of the Tatar language proved to be very useful
in this work.

237

In 1567, Saint Barsanuphius was consecrated Bishop of Tver. He


healed many sick people with his knowledge of medicine, but he also
healed those suffering from infirmities of the soul. When the Godpleaser

reached

old

age,

he

returned

to

Kazan

and

to

the

Transfiguration Monastery which he founded. There he received the


Great Schema, and he died at the monastery in 1576. The holy relics
of Saint Barsanuphius were uncovered on October 4, 1596. They were
placed in shrines in a side chapel of the church at the orders of
Patriarch Job. On June 20, 1630 their grace-filled relics were
transferred from the Transfiguration Monastery to the Cathedral of the
Annunciation.

Today, people who pray at his relic site are often

healed.

INSIDE AN ORTHORDOX CHURCH

238

TODAY IS APRIL 12

Venerable Saint Anthusa the


Virginigumen of Constantinople
FEAST DAY

Saint Anthusa of Constantinople was the daughter of the Iconoclast


emperor Constantine Copronymos (741-775) and his first wife. She
and her brother, the future emperor Leo the Khazar (775-780), were
twins born on January 25, 750. The empress suffered very much with
their birth. Constantine Copronymos summoned Abbess Anthusa of
Mantinea

from

prison

and entreated

her

prayers.

The

abbess

predicted the birth of the twins and their fate, and the daughter was
named in her honor. When she grew up, the emperor began to urge her
to marry. But from her youth St. Anthusa yearned for monasticism and
would not agree to his suggestions. After the death of her father, she
used all her personal property to help the poor and the orphaned. The
devout empress Irene (780-802), wife of Leo the Khazar, regarded St.
Anthusa with love and esteem and invited her to be a co-regent. St.
Anthusa, however, did not desire worldly honors. Being at court, she
wore clothes befitting her position as an emperors daughter, but
underneath her finery she wore a hair-shirt. St. Anthusa was tonsured
by

the

holy

Patriarch

Tarasius

(784-806).

She

founded

at

Constantinople the Omonia monastery, known for its strict rule. St.
Anthusa was herself an example of humility. She did hard work, she
cleaned the church and carried water. She never sat at table during
meals, but instead served the sisters. She saw to it that no one left
239

the monastery without a special need.

She was known for her

prayers, and the people from the Empire would visit her at Omonia to
seek her blessings, healings and asking her to petition God on their
behalf. Her prayers were always answered for those who sought in
humbleness, but those bringing gifts or money to influence Saint
Anthusa were turned away. The humble and gentle ascetic lived to
the age of fifty-two, and died peacefully in 801.

TODAY IS APRIL 13

Womanmartyr Saint Thomais of Alexandria


FEAST DAY

The Holy martyr St. Thomais was born into a Christian family in the
city of Alexandria. She was raised in piety, and loved to read spiritual
books. When she was fifteen, the girl married a fisherman, who was
also a Christian. The young couple lived in the house of her husbands
family, where St. Thomais was loved for her mild and gentle
disposition, and for other good traits. St. Thomais father-in-law, at the
prompting of the devil, was captivated by her beauty. One night, when
his son went out fishing, he attempted to lead his daughter-in-law into
sin. Horrified, St. Thomais admonished the senseless old man,
reminding him of the Last Judgment and the penalty for sin. Infuriated
by her steadfastness, he seized a sword and threatened to cut off her
head. St. Thomais answered resolutely, Even if you cut me to pieces,
240

I shall not stray from the commandments of the Lord. Overcome with
passion, the old man cut St. Thomais in two with the sword. The saint
received the crown of martyrdom in the year 476. Divine punishment
overtook the murderer. He became blind and could not find the door in
order to escape. In the morning, the companions of the saints
husband came to the door. They saw the body of the saint, and the
blind old man covered with blood. The murderer confessed his evil
deed and asked to be taken to the judge for punishment. He was
beheaded for his crime. At this time, St. Daniel of Skete happened to
be in Alexandria. He told the monks of the Oktodekadian monastery
(at the eighteenth mile on the road leading west from Alexandria) to
bring the body of the martyr to the monastery and bury her in the
cemetery with the departed fathers. Some of the monks were
scandalized because he wanted to bury a womans body with the
monks. St. Daniel replied, She is a mother to me and to you, because
she died for her chastity. After the funeral St Daniel returned to
skete. Soon one of the young monks began to complain to him that he
was tormented by fleshly passions. St. Daniel ordered him to go and
pray at the grave of the holy martyr Thomais. The monk did the
bidding of the Elder. While he prayed at the grave, he fell into a light
sleep. St. Thomais appeared to him and said, Father, accept my
blessing and go in peace. When he awakened, the monk felt joy and
peace in his soul. After this, he told St. Daniel that he was no longer
bothered by the temptations of the flesh. Abba Daniel exclaimed,
Great is the boldness of those who have struggled for chastity.
Many found both spiritual joy and release from their passions at the
grave

of

St.

Thomais.

Her

holy

relics

were

transferred

to

Constantinople to one of the womens monasteries. The Russian


pilgrim Archdeacon Zosimas venerated them in 1420. St. Thomais is
invoked by those seeking deliverance from sexual impurity.

241

TODAY IS APRIL 14

Martyrs Saints Anthony, John,


and Eustathius of Vilnius, Lithuania
FEAST DAY

The Holy Martyrs Anthony, John, and Eustathius were brothers who
suffered for Christ under the Lithuanian Great Prince Olgerd (13451377). The prince was married to the Orthodox princess Maria
Yaroslavna (+ 1346). He was baptized and during his wifes lifetime he
allowed the preaching of Christianity. Two brothers, Nezhilo and
Kumets, received holy Baptism from the priest Nestor, and they
received the names Anthony and John. And at the request of Maria
Yaroslavna an Orthodox church was built at Vilnius (Vilna). After the
death of his spouse, Prince Olgerd began to support the pagan priests
of the fire-worshippers, who started a persecution against Christians.
Sts John and Anthony endeavored not to flaunt their Christianity, but
they did not observe pagan customs. They did not cut their hair as the
pagans did, and on fast days they did not eat forbidden foods. The
prince soon became suspicious of the brothers, so he interrogated
them and they confessed themselves Christians. Then he demanded
that they eat meat (it was a fast day). The holy brothers refused, and
the prince locked them up in prison. The brothers spent an entire year
behind bars. John took fright at the impending tortures and declared
that he would obey all the demands of the Great Prince. The delighted
Olgerd released the brothers and brought them to himself. But
Anthony did not betray Christ. When he refused to eat meat on a fast
242

day, the prince again locked him up in prison and subjected him to
brutal tortures. The other brother remained free, but both Christians
and pagans regarded him as a traitor and would not associate with
him. Repenting of his sin, John went to the priest Nestor and
entreated him to ask his brother to forgive him. When he openly
confesses Christ, we will be reconciled, Anthony replied. Once, while
serving the prince at the bath, St. John spoke privately with him
about his reconciliation with the Church. Olgerd did not display any
anger and said that he could believe in Christ, but must conduct
himself like all the pagans. Then St. John confessed himself a
Christian in the presence of numerous courtiers. They beat him
fiercely with rods and sent him to his brother in prison. The martyrs
met with joy, and received the Holy Mysteries that same day. Many
people went to the prison to see the new confessor. The brothers
converted many to Christ by their preaching. The prison was
transformed into a Christian school. The frightened pagan priests
demanded the execution of the brothers, but they did not fear death.
On the morning of April 14, 1347 the Martyr Anthony was hanged on a
tree after receiving the Holy Mysteries. This oak, which the pagans
considered sacred, became truly sacred for Orthodox Christians. The
pagan priests, who hoped that Christian preaching would stop with
the death of St. Anthony, were disappointed. A multitude of the
people gathered before the walls of the prison where St. John was
being held. On April 24, 1347 they strangled him and hanged his dead
body upon the same oak. The venerable bodies of both martyrs were
buried by Christians in the church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker.
A third sufferer for Christ was their relative Kruglets. At Baptism the
priest Nestor named him Eustathius. Kruglets stood out because of
his comeliness, valor and bravery, but even more because of his mind
and virtue of soul. A favorite of Olgerd, he could count on a very
promising future. However, he also refused to eat meat at the festal
243

table. St. Eustathius openly declared that he was a Christian and


would not eat meat because of the Nativity Fast. They began to beat
him with iron rods, but the youth did not make a sound. The prince
tried refining the torture. Olgerd gave orders to strip the martyr
naked, take him out on the street and to pour icy water in his mouth.
But this did not break his spirit. Then they broke his ankle bones, and
ripped the hair and skin from his head, and cut off his ears and nose.
St. Eustathius endured the torments with such gladness and courage,
that the very torturers themselves were astounded by the divine
power which strengthened him. The martyr Eustathius was sentenced
to death and hanged on the same oak where Sts. John and Anthony
received a martyrs death (December 13, 1347). For three days no one
was permitted to take down the body of the martyr, and a column of
cloud protected it from birds and beasts of prey. A church was later
built on the hill where the holy martyrs suffered. The trinity of
venerable passion bearers glorified the true God worshipped in the
Holy Trinity, Father and Son and Holy Spirit. The church was
dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity. The altar table was built on the
stump of the sacred oak on which the martyrs died. Soon their relics
were

found

to

be

incorrupt.

In

1364

Patriarch

Philotheus

of

Constantinople (1354-1355, 1364-1376) sent a cross with the relics of


the holy martyrs to St. Sergius of Radonezh. The Church established
the celebration of all three martyrs on April 14. The holy martyrs were
of immense significance for the entire Western frontier. Vilniuss
monastery of the Holy Trinity, where the holy relics are kept, became
a stronghold of Orthodoxy on this frontier. In 1915 during the invasion
of the Germans, these relics were taken to Moscow. The relics of the
holy

passion-bearers

were

returned

to

the

Vilnius

Holy

Spirit

monastery in 1946. The commemoration of their return (July 13) is


solemnly observed at the monastery each year.

244

TODAY IS APRIL 15

Saint Ephraim the Great of Atsquri


FEAST DAY

Saint Ephraim the Great of Atsqurione of the most important figures


in the Georgian Church of the 8th and 9th centurieswas a disciple
and companion of St. Grigol of Khandzta. On his way from Klarjeti in
southern Georgia to Abkhazeti in the northwest, St. Grigol met the
young Ephraim and immediately perceived in him a like-minded
companion and the future wonderworker and bishop of Atsquri. Grigol
promised to take the young man as his disciple. On his way back to
Klarjeti St. Grigol accompanied Ephraim and another youth, Arsenius,
the future Catholicos of Georgia. He entrusted the upbringing of these
two holy youths to his spiritual sons Christopher and Theodore. The
brothers of Khandzta Monastery objected to the arrival of the youths,
since the monastery rules prohibited young visitors. But St. Grigol told
them that God had revealed this as His will and that, after being
raised at the monastery, these young men would be like spiritual
successors of St. Ephraim the Syrian and St. Arsenius the Great. St.
Ephraim was later consecrated bishop of Atsquri and became a major
figure in the Church of his time. He significantly contributed to the
definitive strengthening of the autocephaly of the Georgian Church.
As a result of his labors, the Georgian Church received a blessing
from Antioch to prepare its own chrism in Mtskheta. St. Ephraim
administered the diocese of Atsquri for forty years. God endowed him
245

with the gifts of prophecy, wonder-working, and healing. He lived to


an advanced age and reposed peacefully. Even today, those who
approach his holy relics are healed of their infirmities. St. Ephraim of
Atsquri is also mentioned in the Life of St. Arsenius the Great.

TODAY IS APRIL 16

Virgin Martyrs Agape, Irene, and


Chionia in Illyria
FEAST DAY

Virgin Martyrs Saints Agape, Irene, and Chionia (Greek: ,

meaning

Love,

Purity,

and

Peace),

were

born

in

Thessalonica and were three virgin sisters who were martyred for
their faith in 304.These three sisters lived in Aquilea, Macedonia.
When the Emperor Diocletian was visiting there, he learned that they
were Christians and had them brought to him. When they would not
deny Christ, they were cast into prison, than handed over to a general
named Dulcitius for torture. Dulcitius conceived a passion for the
sisters, and entered the prison planning to defile them; but when he
tried to enter, he was deprived of his reason and fell upon the dirty
pots at the entrance, embracing and kissing them until he was
completely black with soot. Hearing of this, the Emperor appointed
246

another general to torment the sisters. After terrible tortures Agape


and Chionia were burned, but the sadistic general, knowing her
pledge of virginity to the Lord, ordered Irene to be put in a brothel.
When Irene was being led to the brothel, an angel turned the soldiers
back and led Irene to the top of a high hill. The next day the general
came with his soldiers to capture her, but were unable to climb it. The
general then ordered that Irene be shot with arrows. St. Anastasia, a
prophetess in that town, gathered the bodies of all three sisters and
gave them burial.

TODAY IS APRIL 17

Venerable Saint Zosimas the


Abbot of Solovki
FEAST DAY

Saint Zosimas, Igumen of Solovki a great luminary of the Russian


North, was the founder of cenobitic monasticism on Solovki Island. He
was born in Novgorod diocese, in the village of Tolvui near Lake
Onega. From his early years he was raised in piety, and after the
death of his parents Gabriel and Barbara, he gave away his
possessions and received monastic tonsure. In search of a solitary
place, he journeyed to the shores of the White Sea, and at the mouth
of the Suma he met St. Herman, who told him of a desolate sea island,
where he had spent six years with St. Sabbatius. Around the year
247

1436, the hermits crossed the sea and landed at the Solovki islands.
There St. Zosimas had a vision of a beautiful church in the sky. With
their own hands the monks built cells and an enclosure, and they
began to cultivate and sow the land. Once, in late autumn, St Herman
went to the mainland for provisions. Because of the autumn weather
he was not able to return. St. Zosimas remained alone on the island
all winter. He suffered many temptations in struggles with the
demons. Death by starvation threatened him, but miraculously two
strangers appeared and left him a supply of bread, flour and oil. In
spring St. Herman returned to Solovki with the fisherman Mark, and
he brought supplies of food and rigging for fishing nets. When several
hermits had gathered on the island, St. Zosimas constructed a small
wooden church in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord, and a
trapeza [In an Orthodox monastery, a trapeza (or refectory), is the
dining

hall

where

monks

and

pilgrims

gather

for

food

and

conversation (although monks don't usually talk during meals)]. At the


request of St. Zosimas, an igumen was sent from Novgorod to the
newly~formed monastery with an antimension [The antimension,
(from the Greek: "instead of the table"; in Slavonic: antimins), is
among the most important furnishings of the altar in Orthodox
Christian liturgical traditions. It is a rectangular piece of cloth, of
either linen or silk, typically decorated with representations of the
entombment of Christ, the four Evangelists, and scriptural passages
related to the Eucharist. A small relic of a martyr is sewn into it] for
the church. Thus the renowned Solovki monastery had its start. In the
severe conditions of the remote island the monks knew how to
economize. But the igumens sent from Novgorod to Solovki could not
stand life in such harsh conditions, and so the brethren chose St.
Zosimas as igumen. St. Zosimas occupied himself with building up the
inner life of the monastery, and he introduced a strict cenobitic
[Cenobitic (also spelled coenobitic) is the name associated with the
248

monastic tradition that emphases regulated community life, that is, in


which the monks live together under a set of rules established by the
ruling abbot. The opposite style of cenobitic in monasticism is called
eremitic, in which monks live in isolation as hermits] life. In 1465 he
transferred the relics of St. Sabbatius to Solovki from the River Vyg.
The monastery suffered from the Novgorod nobles, who confiscated
catches of fish from the monks. The saint was obliged to go to
Novgorod and seek the protection of the archbishop. On the advice of
the archbishop, he visited the homes of the nobles and asked them
not to permit the ruin of the monastery. The influential and rich
Martha Boretskaya impiously gave orders to throw St. Zosimas out,
but then repented and invited him to a meal. At this meal he suddenly
saw that six of the illustrious nobles sat without their heads. St.
Zosimas told about this vision to his disciple Daniel and predicted an
imminent death for the nobles. The prediction was fulfilled in the year
1478, when the boyars were executed, except for Martha Boretskaya,
during the capture of Novgorod by Ivan III (1462-1505). Shortly before
death, the saint prepared his own grave, in which he was buried
beyond the altar of the Transfiguration church (April 17, 1478). Later
on, a chapel was built over his relics. His relics and the relics of St.
Sabbatius were transferred to the chapel dedicated to them at the
Transfiguration cathedral on August 8, 1566. Many miracles took
place when St. Zosimas appeared to fishermen who were in danger of
perishing in the depths of the sea during storms. St. Zosimas is also a
patron of bee-keeping and preserver of beehives, and he is even
called Bee-keeper. Those who are sick hasten to St. Zosimas,
asking to be healed. The many hospital churches dedicated to him
attest to the curative nature of the saint.

249

TODAY IS APRIL 18

Saint Basil Ratishvili of Georgia


FEAST DAY

Saint Basil Ratishvili, one of the most prominent figures of the 13thcentury Church, was the uncle of Catholicos [Catholicos is a title
used by the ruling bishops or primates of several churches in the
Middle East, especially Georgia] Ekvtime III. He labored with the
other Georgian fathers at the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos.
Endowed with the gift of prophecy, St. Basil beheld a vision in which
the Most Holy Theotokos called upon him to censure King Demetres
impious rule (This is actually St. Demetre the Devoted, who in his
youth lived profligately but later laid down his life for his nation).
Having arrived in Georgia and been brought before the king George IV
Lasha, the God-fearing father denounced the sovereigns uncrowned
marriage [a conjugal union without the blessing of the Church]. He
promised the king that if he abandoned his present way of life, he
would find great happiness and success. St. Basil also condemned
the ungodly ways of Georgias apostate feudal lords. But the king and
his court disregarded the virtuous elders admonitions, and in
response St. Basil prophesied: A vicious enemy will kill you, and your
kingdom will remain without refuge. Your children will be scattered,
your kingdom conquered, and all your wealth seized. Know that,
according to the will of the Most Holy Theotokos, everything I have
told you will come to pass unless you repent and turn from this way of
250

life. Now I will depart from you in peace. St. Basil returned to Mt.
Athos and peacefully reposed at the Iveron Monastery. His vision was
fulfilled. The first Mongol expedition defeated two Georgian armies in
12211222 and left through Inner Caucasus. Georgians suffered heavy
losses in this war and the King himself was severely wounded. As a
result, King George IV Lasha became an invalid and died prematurely
at the age of 31.

TODAY IS APRIL 19

Saint Matrona of Moscow


FEAST DAY

Matrona was born in 1881 into a poor family in the village of SebinoEpifaniskaya (now Kimovski) in the Tula region of Russia. Blind from
birth, her eyes were without pupils, she bore her infirmity with
humility and patience, and God made her a vessel of grace. At the
moment of her baptism, the priest saw a cloud above the child, which
shed forth a sweet fragrance as a sign of divine favor. From the age of
six or seven, she exhibited an extraordinary gift of insight, discerning
sicknesses of soul and body in the many people who visited her,
revealing to them their secret sins and their problems, and healing
them through prayer and wise counsel. Around the age of fourteen,
she made a pilgrimage to the great holy places in Russia along with a
devout benefactress. When they arrived at Kronstadt to receive the
blessing of St. John, they became lost in the crowd. St. John suddenly
251

cried out, Matrona, come here! She will be my heir, and will become
the eighth pillar of Russia. At that time, no one understood the
meaning of this prophecy. When she turned seventeen, Matrona
became paralyzed and was unable to walk from then on. Knowing that
this was Gods will, she never complained but thanked the Lord. For
the rest of her life over fifty years she lived in a room filled with
icons, sitting cross legged on her bed. With a radiant face and a quiet
voice, she received all who came to seek divine consolation through
her presence. She foretold the great misfortunes that were to sweep
down upon the country after the Bolshevik revolution, placing her gift
of insight at the service of the people of God. One day when some
visitors commiserated with her about her disablement, she replied: A
day came on which God opened my eyes, and I saw the light of the
sun, the stars and all that exists in the world: the rivers, the forests,
the sea and the whole of creation. In 1925 she left her village to
settle in Moscow and, after her mothers death in 1945, she moved
frequently, welcomed secretly into the houses of the faithful. This
was because the Communists, fearing her influence among the
people, wanted to arrest her. But, every time, she had advance
knowledge, and when the police arrived they learned that she had
moved an hour or two earlier. One day, when a policeman arrived to
arrest her, she advised him to return home as quickly as possible,
promising him that she would not escape. When the man arrived
home, he discovered that his wife was on fire, and was just in time to
take her to the hospital.

The policeman and his wife became

believers after this miracle. St. Matrona led an ascetic life on her bed
of pain. She fasted constantly, slept little, her head resting on her
chest, and her forehead was dented by the innumerable signs of the
Cross that she made. Not only the Muscovites but also people from
afar, of all ages and conditions, thronged around her to ask her advice
and her prayers. In this way she truly became the support of afflicted
252

people, especially during World War II. To those who came to ask her
for news of their relatives in battle, she reassured some and
counseled others to hold memorial services. She spoke to some
directly, and to others in parables, having in view their spiritual
edification and recommending them to keep the Churchs laws, to
marry in the Church and to regularly attend Confession and take
Communion. When the sick and possessed were brought to her, she
placed her hands on their heads, saying several prayers or driving the
demons out with authority, always insisting that she was doing
nothing of herself but that God was healing by her mediation. When
asked why the Church was undergoing such great persecutions, she
replied that it was because of the sins of the Christians and their lack
of faith. All the peoples who have turned away from God have
disappeared from off the face of the earth, she affirmed. Difficult
times are our lot, but we Christians must choose the Cross. Christ has
placed us on His sleigh, and he will take us where He will. Having
foretold the day of her death, she gave instructions for her funeral.
Before falling asleep in peace on April 19, 1952, she cried out, Come
close, all of you, and tell me of your troubles as though I were alive!
Ill see you, Ill hear you, and Ill come to your aid. Miracles were
multiplied at her tomb and, ever since her translation to the womens
monastery of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God (March 13,
1998), the faithful who, in their thousands, line up to venerate
Moscows new protectress, turn to her icon and bring her their various
problems as though St. Matrona were alive in front of them.

253

TODAY IS APRIL 20

Venerable Saint Anastasius, Abbot of Sinai


FEAST DAY

Saint Anastasius of Sinai lived in the seventh century, and was one of
the great ascetics who flourished on Mt. Sinai. From his youth, he was
raised in great piety and love for God. When he reached manhood, St.
Anastasius left the world and entered a monastery to take upon
himself the yoke of Christ (Mt.11:29). Wishing to perfect himself in
virtue, he went to St. Catherines Monastery on Mt. Sinai, where St.
John of the Ladder was abbot. There he profited from the example of
many holy men who were proficient in monasticism. Because of his
humility, St. Anastasius received wisdom and spiritual discernment
from God. He wrote the Lives of several holy Fathers, as well as other
spiritually instructive books. In time, he was found worthy of
ordination to the holy priesthood. Following St. John and St. George of
Sini, St. Anastasius became abbot of Sinai. He was most zealous in
his opposition to heresy, exposing it, refuting it, and covering its
adherents with shame. He even traveled to Syria, Egypt, and Arabia to
uproot heresy and strengthen the Church of Christ. St. Anastasius
taught that God gives each Christian an angel to care for him
throughout his life. However, we can drive our Guardian Angel away
by our sins, just as bees are driven away by smoke. While the demons
work to deprive us of the heavenly Kingdom, the holy angels guide us
to do good. Therefore, only the most foolish individuals would drive
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away their Guardian Angel from themselves. After a long life of


faithfully serving God, St. Anastasius fell asleep in the Lord in the
year 685. After he was laid to his final resting place, monks of St.
Catherine monastery notated that whenever they passed his burial
site, a feeling of comfort and peace was instilled into their spirit.
Monks started to pray at his site, and they found that their illness was
healed along with the comfort and peace they received. This miracle
is repeated to today.

TODAY IS APRIL 21

Saint January
FEAST DAY

January was born in Benevento to a rich patrician family that traced


its descent to the Caudini tribe of the Samnites. At a young age of 15,
he became local priest of his parish in Benevento, which at the time
was relatively pagan. When Januarius was 20, he became Bishop of
Naples and befriended Juliana of Nicomedia and Saint Sossius whom
he

met

during

his

priestly

studies.

During

the

112 year-long

persecution of Christians by Emperor Diocletian, he hid his fellow


Christians and prevented them from being caught. St. January,
together with a very good team of Christians, fought the Holy cause of
virtue and brought in Christ many heathens. His deacons were
Prokoylos, Swssos, Faustus, Disiderios, Akontios the reader and
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Eftychios, When there was great persecution against the Christians,


they were arrested and suffered terrible tortures. On the way to
martyrdom, numerous Christians of Naples tried to get Saint January
out of the hands of soldiers. He, however, refused and told them:
"Leave, my children, to finish the good fight of martyrdom, and I
promise that I will always be your city's protector." So was. St.
January was thrown into a fire to burn, but with God's grace was left
unscathed. Immediately, the Saint was led to another place, where
they cut the nerves and thus he received the Crown of martyrdom.
Naples proclaimed him Patron Saint. The name January is of Latin
origin, and its meaning is "gateway".

Saint January was martyred in

the fourth century AD. Saint Januarius is famous for the miracle of the
annual liquefaction of his blood, which, according to legend, was
saved by a woman called Eusebia just after the saint's death.
Thousands of people assemble to witness this event in Naples
Cathedral on his feast day to commemorate his martyrdom.

TODAY IS APRIL 22

Venerable Saint Vitalius of Gaza


FEAST DAY

Saint Vitalius, a monk of the monastery of St. Seridus, arrived in


Alexandria when St. John the Merciful was Patriarch of Alexandria.
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When he was sixty years old, undertook an extraordinary task: he


wrote down from memory the names of all the prostitutes of
Alexandria and he began to pray for them. He worked from morning to
evening, earning twelve copper coins each day. In the evening the
saint bought a single bean, which he ate after sunset. Then he would
give the rest of the money to one of the harlots, whom he visited at
night and said, I beg you, take this money and do not sin with anyone
tonight. Then he stayed with the harlot in her room. While she slept,
the Elder spent the whole night at prayer, reading the Psalms, and
quietly left in the morning. He did this each day, visiting all the harlots
in turn, and he made them promise to keep the purpose of his visit
secret. The people of Alexandria, not knowing the truth, became
indignant over the monks behavior, and they reviled him. However, he
meekly endured their scorn, and he only asked that they not judge
others. The holy prayers of St. Vitalius saved many fallen women.
Some of them went to a monastery, others got married, and others
found respectable work. But they were forbidden to tell anyone the
reason why they had changed their life, and thereby stop the abuse
heaped upon St. Vitalius. They were bound by an oath they had made
to the saint. When of the woman began to break her oath and stood up
to defend the saint, she fell into a demonic frenzy. After this, the
people of Alexandria had no doubt concerning the sinfulness of the
monk. Certain of the clergy, scandalized by the behavior of St.
Vitalius, reported him to the holy Patriarch John the Merciful. But the
Patriarch did not believe the informers and he said, Cease to judge,
especially monks. Dont you know what happened at the First Council
of Nicea? Some of the bishops and the clergy brought letters of
denunciation against each other to the emperor St. Constantine the
Great. He commanded that a burning candle be brought, and not even
reading the letters, he burned them and said, If I had seen with my
own eyes a bishop sinning, or a priest, or a monk, then I would have
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veiled such with his garb, so that no one might see his sin. Thus the
wise hierarch shamed the calumniators. St. Vitalius continued on with
his difficult exploit: appearing himself before people under the guise
of a sinner and a prodigal, he led the prodigal to repentance. One
time, emerging from a house of ill repute, the monk encountered a
young man going there -- a prodigal fellow, who with an insult struck
him on the cheek and cried out that the monk was a disgrace to the
Name of Christ. The monk answered him: Believe me, that after me,
humble man that I be, thou also shalt receive such a blow on the
cheek, that will have all Alexandria thronging to thine cry. A certain
while afterwards St. Vitalius settled into a small cell and in it at night
he died. At that very hour a terrifying demon appeared before the
youth who had struck the saint, and the demon struck the youth on
the cheek and cried out: Here is a knock from St. Vitalius. The youth
went into a demonic madness. In a frenzy he thrashed about on the
ground, tore the clothing from himself and howled so loudly, that a
multitude of people gathered. When the youth finally came to his
senses after several hours, he then rushed off to the cell of the monk,
calling out: Have mercy on me, O servant of God, for I have sinned
against thee. At the door of the cell he came fully to his senses and
he told those gathered there about his former encounter with St.
Vitalius. Then the youth knocked on the door of the cell, but he
received no answer. When they broke in the door, they then saw, that
the monk was dead, on his knees before an icon. In his hand was a
scroll with the words: Men of Alexandria, judge not beforehand, til
cometh the Lord, the Righteous Judge. At this moment there came
up the demon-possessed woman, punished by the monk for wanting to
violate the secret of his exploit. Having touched the body of the saint,
she was healed and told the people about everything that had
happened with her. When the women who had been saved by St.
Vitalius learned about his death, they gathered together and told
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everyone about the virtues and mercy of the saint. St. John the
Merciful also rejoiced, in that he had not believed the calumniators,
and that a righteous man had not been condemned. And then together
with the throng of repentant women, converted by St. Vitalius, the
holy Patriarch solemnly conveyed his remains throughout all the city
and gave them reverent burial. And from that time many of the
Alexandria people made themselves a promise to judge no one.

TODAY IS APRIL 23

Saint George
FEAST DAY

Saint George (c. 275/281 23 April 303) was a Greek who became an
officer in the Roman army. His father was the Greek Gerondios from
Cappadocia Asia Minor and his mother was the Greek Polychronia
from the city Lydda. Lydda was a Greek city in Palestine from the
times of the conquest of Alexander the Great (333 BC), however it is
now known as its Hebrew name Lod and is now a part of modern
Israel. Saint George became an officer in the Roman army in the
Guard of Diocletian. He is venerated as a Christian martyr. In
hagiography, Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the
Western and Eastern Rites, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the
Oriental Orthodox churches. He is immortalized in the tale of Saint
George and the Dragon and is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. His
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memorial is celebrated on 23 April, and he is regarded as one of the


most prominent military saints. Many Patronages of Saint George
exist around the world, including: Georgia, England, Egypt, Bulgaria,
Aragon, Catalonia, Romania, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Iraq, Lithuania,
Palestine, Portugal, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia, as well as the cities
of

Genoa,

Amersfoort,

Beirut,

Botoani,

Drobeta

Turnu-Severin,

Timioara, Fakiha, Bteghrine, Cceres, Ferrara, Freiburg, Kragujevac,


Kumanovo, Ljubljana, Prouges, Pomorie, Preston, Qormi, Rio de
Janeiro, Lod, Lviv, Barcelona, Moscow and Victoria, as well as of the
Scout Movement and a wide range of professions, organizations and
disease sufferers. The traditional legends have offered a historicized
narration of George's encounter with a dragon. Chief among the
legendary sources about the saint is the Golden Legend, which
remains the most familiar version in English owing to William Caxton's
15th-century translation. It is likely that Saint George was born to a
Greek Christian noble family in Lydda [Lod], now in Israel, during the
late third century between about 275 and 285, and he died in the
Greek city Nicomedia, Asia Minor. His father, Gerontios, was a Greek,
from Cappadocia, Asia Minor, officer in the Roman army and his
mother, Polychronia, was a Greek from the city Lydda (Lod) PalestineIsrael. They were both Christians and from noble families of Anici, so
the child was raised with Christian beliefs. They decided to call him
Georgios(Greek), meaning "worker of the land". At the age of 14,
George lost his father; a few years later, George's mother died.
Orthodox accounts give the names of his parents as Anastasius and
Theobaste.

Saint George Killing the Dragon, 1434/35, by Martorell

260

Then George decided to go to Nicomedia, the imperial city of that


time, and present himself to Emperor Diocletian to apply for a career
as a soldier. Diocletian welcomed him with open arms, as he had
known his father, Gerontius one of his finest soldiers. By his late
20s, George was promoted to the rank of Tribunus and stationed as
an imperial guard of the Emperor at Nicomedia.

In the year 302,

Diocletian issued an edict that every Christian soldier in the army


should be arrested and every other soldier should offer a sacrifice to
the Roman gods of the time. However George objected and with the
courage of his faith approached the Emperor and ruler. Diocletian was
upset, not wanting to lose his best tribune and the son of his best
official, the late Gerontius. George loudly renounced the Emperor's
edict, and in front of his fellow soldiers and Tribunes he claimed
himself to be a Christian and declared his worship of Jesus Christ.
Diocletian attempted to convert George, even offering gifts of land,
money and slaves if he made a sacrifice to the Roman gods. The
Emperor made many offers, but George never accepted. Recognizing
the futility of his efforts, Diocletian was left with no choice but to
have him executed for his refusal. Before the execution George gave
his wealth to the poor and prepared himself. After various torture
sessions, including laceration on a wheel of swords in which he was
resuscitated three times, George was executed by decapitation
before Nicomedia's city wall, on April 23, 303. A witness of his
suffering convinced Empress Alexandra and Athanasius, a pagan
priest, to become Christians as well, and so they joined George in
martyrdom. His body was returned to Lydda in Palestine for burial,
where Christians soon came to honor him as a martyr. Orthodox
depictions of Saint George slaying a dragon often include the image of
the young maiden who looks on from a distance. The standard
iconographic interpretation of the image icon is that the dragon
represents both Satan (Rev. 12:3) and the Roman Empire. The young
261

maiden is the wife of Diocletian, Alexandra. Thus, the image as


interpreted through the language of Byzantine iconography, is an
image of the martyrdom of the saint. The episode of St. George and
the Dragon was a legend brought back with the Crusaders and retold
with the courtly appurtenances belonging to the genre of Romance.
The earliest known depiction of the legend is from early eleventhcentury Cappadocia. In the iconography of the Orthodox Church,
George had been depicted as a soldier since at least the seventh
century. The earliest known surviving narrative text is an eleventhcentury Georgian text.

White George on the coat of arms of Georgia.

In the fully developed version, which developed as part of the Golden


Legend, a dragon or crocodile makes its nest at the spring that
provides water for the city of "Silene" (perhaps modern Cyrene in
Libya or the city of Lydda in the Holy Land, depending on the source).
Consequently, the citizens have to dislodge the dragon from its nest
for a time, to collect water. To do so, each day they offer the dragon
at first a sheep, and if no sheep can be found, then a maiden must go
instead of the sheep. The victim is chosen by drawing lots. One day,
this happens to be the princess. The monarch begs for her life to be
spared, but to no avail. She is offered to the dragon, but there appears
Saint George on his travels. He faces the dragon, protects himself
with the sign of the Cross, slays the dragon, and rescues the princess.
The citizens abandon their ancestral paganism and convert to
Christianity. In the medieval romances, the lance with which St.
George slew the dragon was called Ascalon, named after the city of
Ashkelon in the Levant.
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The martyrdom of Saint George, by Paolo Veronese, 1564

A church built in Lydda during the reign of Constantine I (reigned 306


37), was consecrated to "a man of the highest distinction", according
to the church history of Eusebius of Caesarea; the name of the patron
was not disclosed, but later he was asserted to have been George.
During the fourth century the veneration of George spread from
Palestine through Lebanon to the rest of the Eastern Roman Empire
and Georgia. In Georgia the feast day on November 23 is credited to
St. Nino of Cappadocia, who in Georgian hagiography is a relative of
St. George, credited with bringing Christianity to the Georgians in the
fourth century. By the fifth century, Saint George had reached the
Western Roman Empire as well. In England the earliest dedication to
George, who was mentioned among the martyrs by Bede, is a church
at Fordington, Dorset, that is mentioned in the wars of Alfred the
Great. "Saint George and his feast day began to gain more widespread
fame among all Europeans, however, from the time of the Crusades."
The St. George's flag, a red cross on a white field, was adopted by
England and the City of London in 1190 for their ships entering the
Mediterranean to benefit from the protection of the Genoese fleet
during the Crusades, and the English Monarch paid an annual tribute
to the Doge of Genoa for this privilege. An apparition of George
heartened the Franks at the siege of Antioch, 1098, and made a
similar appearance the following year at Jerusalem. Chivalric military
Order of St. George were established in Aragon (1201), Genoa,
Hungary, and by Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, and in England
263

the Synod of Oxford, 1222 declared St. George's Day a feast day in the
kingdom of England. Edward III put his Order of the Garter under the
banner of St. George, probably in 1348. The chronicler Froissart
observed the English invoking St. George as a battle cry on several
occasions during the Hundred Years' War. In his rise as a national
saint George was aided by the very fact that the saint had no
legendary connection with England, and no specifically localized
shrine. Saint George is somewhat of an exception among saints and
legends, in that he is known and respected by Muslims, as well as
venerated by Christians throughout the Middle East, from Egypt to
Asia Minor. He is said to have killed a dragon near the sea in Beirut
and at the beginning of the 20th century Muslim women used to visit
his shrine in the area to pray to him. St. George is very much honored
by the Eastern Orthodox Church, wherein he is referred to as a "Great
Martyr", and in Oriental Orthodoxy overall. His major feast day is on
April 23 (Julian Calendar April 23 currently corresponds to Gregorian
Calendar May 6). If, however, the feast occurs before Easter, it is
celebrated on Easter Monday instead. The Russian Orthodox Church
also celebrates two additional feasts in honour of St. George: one on
November

commemorating

the

consecration

of

cathedral

dedicated to him in Lydda during the reign Constantine the Great


(30537). When the church was consecrated, the relics of the St.
George were transferred there. The other feast on November 26 for a
church dedicated to him in Kiev, 1054. In Egypt the Coptic Orthodox
Church of Alexandria refers to St George as the "Prince of Martyrs."
The Copts also celebrate the consecration of the first church
dedicated to him on 7th of the month of Hatour of the Coptic Calender
usually equivalent to 17 November. St. George is the patron saint of
England. His cross forms the national flag of England, and features
within the Union Flag of the United Kingdom, and other national flags
containing the Union Flag, such as those of Australia and New
264

Zealand. Traces of the cult of Saint George in England pre-date the


Norman Conquest in the eleventh century. By the fourteenth century
the saint had been declared both the patron saint and the protector of
the royal family. The country of Georgia, where devotions to the saint
date back to the fourth century, is not technically named after the
saint, but a large number of towns and cities around the Georgia are.
There are exactly 365 Orthodox churches in Georgia named after
Saint George according to the number of days in a year. According to
legend, Saint George appeared in person during the Battle of Didgori
to support the Georgian victory over the Seldjuk army and the
Georgian uprising against Persian rule. Saint George is considered by
many Georgians to have special meaning as a symbol of national
liberation. Devotions to Saint George in Portugal date back to the
twelfth century. The victory of the Portuguese in the battle of
Aljubarrota in the fourteenth century is attributed to Saint George.
During the reign of King John I (13571433) Saint George became the
patron saint of Portugal and the King ordered that the saint's image
on the horse be carried in the Corpus Christi procession. In fact, the
Portuguese Army motto means Portugal and Saint George, in perils
and in efforts of war. Saint George is also one of the patron saints of
the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo. In a battle between the
Maltese and the Moors, Saint George was alleged to have been seen
with Saint Paul and Saint Agata, protecting the Maltese. Besides
being the patron of Victoria where St. George's Basilica, Malta is
dedicated to him, St George is the protector of the island Gozo.

St George's Cross

265

The "Colours of Saint George", or St. George's Cross are a white flag
with a red cross, frequently borne by entities over which he is patron:
the Republic of Genoa, Liguria, England, Georgia, Catalonia, and
Aragon just to name the most known. The cross was originally the
personal flag of another saint and key Christian figure, St. Ambrose.
Adopted by the city of Milan (of which St. Ambrose was Archbishop)
at least as early as the Ninth century, its use spread over Northern
Italy including Genoa. Genoa's patron saint was St. George and
through the flag's use by the vast Genoese trading fleet, the
association was carried throughout Europe. The same color scheme
was used by Viktor Vasnetsov for the faade of the Tretyakov Gallery,
in which some of the most famous St. George icons are exhibited and
which displays St. George as the coat of arms of Moscow over its
entrance. In 1606, the flag of England (St. George's Cross), and the
flag of Scotland (St. Andrew's Cross), were joined together to create
the Union Flag. St. George is most commonly depicted in early icons,
mosaics and frescos wearing armor contemporary with the depiction,
executed in gilding and silver color, intended to identify him as a
Roman soldier. After the Fall of Constantinople and the association of
St George with the crusades, he is more often portrayed mounted
upon a white horse. At the same time St. George began to be
associated with St. Demetrius, another early soldier saint. When the
two saints are portrayed together mounted upon horses, they may be
likened to earthly manifestations of the archangels Michael and
Gabriel. St. George is always depicted in Eastern traditions upon a
white horse and St. Demetrius on a red horse. St. George can also be
identified in the act of spearing a dragon, unlike St. Demetrius. In
Russian Orthodox Christianity it is possible to find Icons of St. George
riding on Black horse, as well, there are various examples in Russian
Iconography, like the Icon in British Museum Collection. A 2003

266

Vatican stamp issued on the anniversary of the Saint's death depicts


an armored Saint George atop a white horse, killing the dragon.

TODAY IS APRIL 24

Saint Joseph the Confessor of Maramures


FEAST DAY

Saint Joseph was born in the seventeenth century, and was


consecrated as a bishop in Moldavia (northern Romania in 1690 by
Metropolitan Dositheus. This was a period of great trials and
sufferings for the people of Maramures (in northern Romania) because
the Roman Catholic authorities wanted to wipe out Orthodoxy in the
region. St. Joseph was a zealous defender of the Orthodox Faith, and
therefore he was jailed by the civil authorities. While in jail, his
prayers healed a guard of epilepsy and another prisoner of open
wounds that would not heal. His faith in Orthodoxy encouraged his
flock for centuries after his repose. He died in 1711 after suffering for
the truth and defending his flock. St. Joseph the Confessor was
glorified by the Orthodox Church of Romania in 1992.

267

TODAY IS APRIL 25

Venerable Saint Sylvester the Abbot of Obnora


FEAST DAY

Saint Sylvester of Obnora was a disciple and novice under St. Sergius
of Radonezh. After completing his obedience at the Trinity monastery,
St. Sylvester received a blessing to live alone in the wilderness. In the
deep forest at the River Obnora, flowing into the River Kostroma, he
set up a cross at his chosen spot and began his ascetical labors. For
a long time no one knew about the holy hermit. His cell was
discovered by a peasant who had lost his way. He told the distraught
hermit that people had seen bright rays, and a pillar of cloud above
his habitation. The monk shed tears of sorrow, because the place of
his solitude had been discovered. The pilgrim besought the saint to
tell about himself. St. Sylvester said that he had been living there a
long time, and that he ate tree bark and roots. At first he became
weak without bread, and fell on the ground from his weakness. Then
an angel appeared to him in the guise of a wondrous man and touched
his hand. From that moment St. Sylvester did not experience any
distress. Another time, the peasant came back to the saint and
brought him bread and flour for reserve supply. This one meeting was
sufficient for the exploits of the hermit to become known to many.
Soon

peasants

began

to

come

to

him

from

the

surrounding

settlements. St. Sylvester allowed them to build cells near his. When
the brethren had gathered, St. Sylvester went to Moscow and
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petitioned St. Alexis to bless the construction of a temple in honor of


the Resurrection of Christ. The hierarch gave him an antimension (a
cloth containing relics of martyrs, necessary for celebrating the
Divine Liturgy), and made him Igumen (Abbot) of the monastery. With
the construction of the church the number of brethren quickly grew,
and the saint frequently withdrew for solitary prayer in the dense
forest. This spot received the name Commanded Grove, since St.
Sylvester commanded that no trees should be cut there. In this grove
he dug three wells, and a fourth on the side of a hill at the River
Obnora. When the saint returned from his solitude, a number of people
awaited him at the monastery, and each wanted to receive his
blessing and hear his advice. The saint fell into a fatal illness, and the
brethren, who were distressed whenever he went into seclusion, were
even more distressed about his approaching death. Do not grieve
about this, my beloved brethren, he said to console them, for
everything is according to the will of God. Keep the commandments
of the Lord and dont be afraid to suffer misfortune in this life, so you
may receive a reward in Heaven. If I have found boldness before the
Lord and my life is pleasing to Him, then this holy place will not
diminish after my departure. Pray to the Lord God and His All-Pure
Mother, that you may be delivered from temptation. St. Sylvester
died on April 25, 1479 and was buried on the right side of the wooden
Resurrection church. A record of the saints miracles has been
preserved from the year 1645, in which twenty-three miracles are
described. The saint healed twelve people from demonic possession
and delirium, and six others from eye afflictions. An edifying miracle
occurred in 1645. The Hieromonk Job of the monastery ordered
peasants to cut down the forbidden forest grove for firewood, and he
was struck blind. After four weeks he acknowledged his sin, repented
and vowed not to act on his own will, but to follow the advice of the
brethren. The Hieromonk served a Molieben [A molben (Slavonic:
269

), also called a molieben, service of intercession, or service


of supplication, is a supplicatory prayer service used within the
Orthodox Christian Church in honor of Jesus Christ, the Mother of
God, a Feast, or a particular saint or martyr] in church, after which he
was brought to the reliquary of St. Sylvester, and there he regained
his sight.

TODAY IS APRIL 26

Saint Stephen the Bishop of Perm


FEAST DAY

Saint Stephen the Enlightener of Perm, and Apostle to the Zyrians,


was born around the year 1340 into the family of Simeon, a cleric of
the Ustiug cathedral. He was greatly influenced by his pious mother
Maria. Endowed with great abilities, he already displayed an unusual
zeal for the service of the Church: in a single year he learned to read
the Holy Books and he assisted his father in church during services,
fulfilling the duty of canonarch [A canonarch is a lead cantor or reader
in Orthodox Christian churches of the Byzantine tradition. The office
was used especially during the times when antiphonal singing was
common. The canonarch ensures that readers chant from the correct
texts and use the proper tones during church services. The canonarch
preserves the canonical order in the liturgical services through proper
use of the Typicon. The office has generally fallen out of use in the
270

modern age.], and also that of reader. The young saint received
monastic tonsure at the Monastery of St. Gregory the Theologian at
Rostov. The monastery was famed for its fine library. Since St.
Stephen wanted to read the holy Fathers in their original language, he
studied Greek. In his youth, when he had assisted his father in
church, he frequently spoke with the Zyrian [The Zyrians are an
ethnic group whose homeland is in the north-east of European Russia
around the basins of the Vychegda, Pechora and Kama rivers] people.
Now, having been immersed in the rich culture of the Church, St.
Stephen burned with a desire to convert the Zyrians to Christ. To
facilitate the enlightenment of the Zyrians, he compiled an alphabet
of their language and translated some of the Church books. For this
pious work Bishop Arsenius of Rostov ordained him to the rank of
hierodeacon. Having prepared himself for missionary activity, St.
Stephen journeyed to Moscow (1379) to see Bishop Gerasimus of
Kolomna, who then oversaw the affairs of the metropolitanate. The
saint implored him, Bless me, Master, to go into a pagan land, Perm. I
want to teach the holy Faith to the unbelieving people. I am resolved
either to lead them to Christ, or to lay down my life for them and for
Christ. The bishop joyfully blessed him and ordained him as a
hieromonk. He provided him with an antimension for the altar table,
holy chrism and service books, and Great Prince Demetrius gave him
a document of safe passage. From Ustiug St. Stephen made his way
along the North Dvina River up to the confluence of the Vychegda into
it, where settlements of the Zyrians began. The proponent of faith in
Christ suffered many toils and struggles, deprivation and sorrow,
living among the pagans who worshipped idols with fire, water,
trees, a stone and golden woman-figure, and shaman, and wizard, and
wood. Father Stephen was sad to see that the Zyrians continued to
worship a sacred birch tree. Immense in its thickness and height,
the birch tree grew on an elevated spot. The Zyrians gathered there
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and brought wild animals there for sacrifice. St. Stephens cell was
not far from the birch tree. He prayed and set fire to the tree in order
to end the superstition. The Zyrians, seeing that the tree had been
destroyed, meant to kill him. The saint said to them, Judge for
yourselves whether or not your gods have any power, since they are
not able to defend themselves from the fire. Can they be gods, when
they are so powerless? They have no mind, neither can they see or
hear. Your idol could not defend itself against me, a weak man. Are all
your other gods so powerless? The Christian God is not like this. He
sees everything, knows everything and is Almighty, since He created
the whole world and foresees everything. How good He is, particularly
to those who know Him! I desire only what is good for you, to bring
you to the true God. He will love you and bless you, when you
sincerely begin to honor Him. On the site of the sacred birch tree,
St Stephen built a church in honor of the Archangel Michael, the
vanquisher of the spirits of darkness. The newly-baptized Zyrians
themselves began to remove that which they once worshiped. They
cut down sacred trees, they destroyed idols, and they brought to St.
Stephen the rich gifts set aside for the pagan sacrifices. He told his
Zyrian helper Matthew to throw everything into the fire, except the
linen cloth which was used for foot wrappings. But things came to a
head among the Zyrians after St. Stephen got the better of their chief
priest Pama, who rose up against the spread of Christianity. The
pagan priest entered into a debate with St Stephen. Christian, you
have only one God, said Pama, but we have many helpers on the
land, and in the water, granting us good hunting in the forests, and
with its abundance providing food and pelts to Moscow, the Horde
and faraway lands. Our gods reveal to us the magic mysteries,
inaccessible to you. St. Stephen answered that the true God is one;
the Almighty is one, but experience has proven that the idols are
powerless. After a lengthy dispute the pagan priest Pama challenged
272

St. Stephen to pass through fire and water in a test of faith. St.
Stephen humbly replied, Great is the Christian God. I accept your
challenge. Pama, however, lost his nerve and entreated the saint to
save him from certain death. You are witnesses, said St. Stephen to
the people how he wished to resolve the dispute about faith by fire
and water, but he does not wish to be baptized. Who has regard for
Pama now? What is to be done with him? Let the deceiver be put to
death, the people said, for if Pama is set free, he will make mischief
for you. No, the saint replied, Christ has not sent me to hand
anyone over to death, but to teach. Since Pama does not wish to
accept the saving Faith, let his stubbornness punish him, but I will
not. Pama was banished. In thanksgiving for his victory over the
chief pagans, St. Stephen built a church in honor of St. Nicholas at
Vishero. After this, the saints preaching of Christ was more
successful. In 1383, St. Stephen was consecrated Bishop of Malaya
Perm [Lesser Perm]. Like a loving father he devoted himself to his
flock. To encourage the newly-converted, St Stephen opened schools
adjacent to the churches, where they studied the Holy Scriptures in
the Permian language. The saint supervised the instructions, and
taught them what they needed to know in order to become priests
and deacons. St. Stephen taught several of his students how to write
in the Permian language. The saint built churches, in which he placed
Zyrian priests, and services were conducted in the Zyrian language.
St. Stephen translated the HOROLOGION [Book of Hours], the

PSALTER, and other liturgical books into the Zyrian language. During
a crop failure the saint provided the Zyrians with bread. Many times
he protected them from the trickery of corrupt officials, gave them
alms, and defended them from the incursions of other tribes,
interceding for them at Moscow. The fruit of his efforts and good
deeds came in the conversion of all of Perm to Christianity. This great
deed was accomplished by his strength of faith and Christian love.
273

The life of the saint was a victory of faith over unbelief, of love and
meekness over malice and impiety. There was a touching meeting in
absence of St. Stephen of Perm with St. Sergius of Radonezh,
occurring in the year 1390 as St. Stephen journeyed to Moscow on
church business. St. Stephen fervently loved the Radonezh ascetic
and very much wanted to pay him a visit, but had no time to do so.
Ten versts [a verst equals 3,500 feet] from the monastery of St.
Sergius, St. Stephen turned in the direction of the monastery and with
a bow he said, Peace to you, my spiritual brother! St. Sergius, who
was eating a meal with the brethren, stood up, made a prayer and,
bowing towards the direction where the saint rode, answered, Hail
also to you, pastor of the flock of Christ, may the peace of God be
with you! The deep spiritual connection of St. Stephen of Perm and
St. Sergius of Radonezh is recalled even today in a certain prayer
recited each day in the trapeza. Besides building churches, St.
Stephen also founded several monasteries for the Zyrians: the Savior
Ulianov wilderness monastery 165 versts from Ust-Sysolsk, the
Stephanov 60 versts from Ust-Sysolsk, the Ust-Vym Archangel, and
the Yareng Archangel. In the year 1395 St. Stephen again went to
Moscow on affairs of his flock, and died there. His body was placed in
the Church of the Transfiguration in the Moscow Kremlin. The Zyrians
bitterly lamented the death of their archpastor. They earnestly
entreated the Moscow prince and the Metropolitan to send the body
of their patron back to Perm, but Moscow did not wish to part with the
relics of the saint. The glorification of St. Stephen began already at
the beginning of the fiftenth century. The life of the saint was written
soon after his death. The hieromonk Pachomius the Serb composed
the service to him, with the hieromonk Epiphanius the Wise, who was
a disciple of St. Sergius of Radonezh. He also knew St. Stephen and
loved to converse with him.

274

TODAY IS APRIL 27

Saint Stephen, Bishop of Vladimir


FEAST DAY

St. Stephen, Igumen of the Caves, Bishop of Vladimir in Volhynia,


pursued asceticism at the Kievan Caves monastery under the
guidance of St. Theodosius. St. Theodosius sometimes entrusted him
to exhort the brethren with edifying words. Before the death of St.
Theodosius the monks asked him to appoint St. Stephen as Igumen,
who was the domesticus (chief arranger for the choir). He grew up
under your instruction, they said, and he served you. Give him to
us. So St. Theodosius transferred the guidance of the monastery to
St. Stephen. During his tenure as Superior, he laid the foundations of a
spacious church in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy
Theotokos, begun under St. Theodosius. The cells of the brethren
were moved near the new church. At the front of the place there were
several cells for monks who were entrusted with burying the dead.
They served the Divine Liturgy each day, and also commemorated the
dead. In 1078 St. Stephen was removed from office and driven from
the monastery through the malice of an evil monk. He endured his
meekly and without bitterness, and continued to pray for those who
had turned against him. In God's time the holy monk was vindicated.
St. Stephen learned that master builders had come from Greece with
an icon of the Theotokos, and they told him of the appearance of the
Heavenly Queen at Blachernae. Because of this, St. Stephen also built
a church at Klovo in honor of the Theotokos in memory of the Placing
275

of

Her

Robe

at

Blachernae.

The

monastery

was

founded

in

thanksgiving for solicitude of the Most Holy Theotokos for the Caves
monastery. In 1091 St. Stephen was made Bishop of Vladimir in
Volhynia, and he participated in the transfer of the relics of St.
Theodosius from the cave to the monastery. He also labored to
convert the inhabitants of Volhynia to Christianity.

His prayers to

heal the sick were always answered, and it is recorded that he cast
out demons from 9 infested men and 11 infested women. St. Stephen
died on April 27, 1094 during the sixth hour of the night. He was
interned next to the Cathedral of Saint Demetrius after its completion
in 1191.

TODAY IS APRIL 28

Saint Cyril the Bishop of Turov


FEAST DAY

Saint Cyril, Bishop of Turov, was born of rich parents in the thirties of
the twelfth century in the city of Turov at the River Pripyat. From his
early years St. Cyril eagerly read the sacred books and attained a
profound understanding of them. He studied not only in Russian, but
also in Greek. When he reached maturity St. Cyril refused his
inheritance and was tonsured in Turovs Sts. Boris and Gleb
monastery. He struggled much in fasting and prayer and taught the
monks to obey the igumen. A monk who is not obedient to the igumen
does not fulfill his vow, and therefore is not able to be saved, he
276

wrote. Three writings of St. Cyril on monastic life have survived, one
of which, A Narrative on the Black Clergy from the Old Law and from
the New, may be ascribed to a period of his being in the monastery.
After a certain while St. Cyril lived on a pillar, where he increased his
asceticism, and meditated on the Holy Scripture. Many turned to him
for counsel in the spiritual life. Some claimed he had the power to
heal sickness. St. Cyrils holiness of life and profound enlightenment
became known to many, and so he was chosen as Bishop of Turov. In
1169 St. Cyril took part in a council censuring Bishop Theodore, who
occupied the Vladimir-Suzdal cathedra and who sought to separate
from the metropolitanate of Kiev. St. Cyril denounced the heresy of
Theodore and wrote many letters to the holy prince Andrew
Bogoliubsky, in which he provided him instruction and guidance in
discovering the cause of church disorders in the Rostov region.
Because of his love for solitude, St. Cyril left his See (by the year
1182, Bishop Laurence is mentioned as the Bishop of Turov) and he
devoted himself fully to spiritual writing. He composed a discourse on
the yearly cycle of the Lords Feasts, but not all of them have been
preserved. The works of St. Cyril deserve a place beside the works of
the holy Fathers in book collections. The most complete collection of
works by St. Cyril of Turov, published by Bishop Eugenius of Turov in
1880, includes: Sermon on Palm Sunday, from Gospel accounts;
Sermon on Holy Pascha on the Radiant Day of the Resurrection of
Christ, from the prophetic accounts; Sermon on the Sunday after
Pascha, on the Renewal of the Resurrection, on the Artos [loaf
blessed on Pascha], and on Thomas Touching the Side of the Lord
among 350 other preserved sermons. Later, the Sermon on the
Enlightenment of our Lord Jesus Christ was discovered. The saint
also composed a Great Canon of Repentance to the Lord in
Alphabetic Chapters. As a theologian St. Cyril believed his task was
to discern the true and hidden meaning of various texts of Holy
277

Scripture. St. Cyril died on April 28, 1183. His contemporaries


regarded him as a Russian Chrysostom. The saint humbly wrote of
himself: I am not a harvester, but I gather sheaves of grain; I am not
an artist in literary matters. He was always conscious of the sublime
hierarchical service to which the Lord had called him: If I were to
speak of my own opinions, you would do well not to come to church,
but I proclaim to you the Word of God. I read to you the accounts of
Christ. I present to you the words of God, finer than gold or other
stones, sweeter than mead or honeycomb, and you would be deprived
of them by not coming to church, but I praise and bless those of you
who do come.

TODAY IS APRIL 29

Saint Basil the Bishop of Ostrog


In Montenegro, Serbia
FEAST DAY

Saint Basil, Bishop of Zakholmsk, was born of pious parents in the


sixteenth century in the Popov district of Herzegovina. At the age of
maturity he left his parental home and settled in the Trebinsk
monastery in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, and
became a monk. As a monk, he was known for his very severe
asceticism. For his virtuous life and against his will the saint was
elevated to be Bishop of Zakholm and Skenderia where he served his
flock faithfully for many years, "keeping it from the cruelty of the
278

Turks and the guile of the Latins. When his monastery was destroyed
by the Turks he moved to Ostrog. He occupied the bishops cathedra
in the second half of the sixteenth century, a successor to Bishop
Paul and predecessor of Bishop Nicodemus. St. Basil was a good
pastor of the flock of Christ, and the Lord strengthened his discourse
with various miracles. For the sanctifying of soul with the wisdom of
holy ascetic fathers, the saint journeyed to Athos. St. Basil died
peacefully and was buried in the city of Ostrog in Chernogoria on the
border with Herzegovina. His body has remained whole, incorrupt,
healing and wonderworking to this day. Innumerable miracles have
been worked at his grave, and both Christians and Muslims seek out
his relics for healing from sicknesses and sufferings. (A story heard
from a parishioner at St. Basil of Ostrog Church in Illinois: while the
Saint's relics remain intact, reputedly his shoes wear out from time to
time and need to be replaced.)

TODAY IS APRIL 30

Saint Ignatius, Bishop of Stavropol


FEAST DAY

St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov), Bishop of Stavropol and Kavkaz (1867)


was born in 1807 into Russian aristocracy. His father was a wealthy
provincial Count. From a very early age he felt strongly called to
monastic life, but at that time it was almost unheard of for a
279

nobleman to take such a path, and Dimitri (as he was called in


baptism) entered the Pioneer Military School in St. Petersburg. There
he distinguished himself, and even attracted the attention of Grand
Duke Nicholas Pavlovich, an event which would profoundly affect his
later life. Despite his excellent record at the academy, young Dimitri
still longed only for the things of God. In 1827 he graduated from the
school and was commissioned as an officer in the army, but soon fell
critically ill, and was granted a discharge. This proved to be
providential: when he recovered his health, he immediately became a
novice, living at several different monasteries and coming under the
spiritual care of Starets Leonid, one of the celebrated fathers of the
Optina monastery. In 1821 he took his monastic vows and received
the

name

Ignatius.

Soon

afterwards

he

was

ordained to

the

priesthood. Soon after the newly-professed Fr. Ignatius had entered


the seclusion that he sought, Tsar Nicholas I, the former Grand Duke
Nicholas, visited the Pioneer Military School and asked what had
become of the promising cadet he had met a few years before. When
the Tsar learned that the former Dimitri was now a monk, he sought
him out, had him elevated to the rank of Archimandrite at age 26 [The
title Archimandrite (Greek: ), primarily used in the
Eastern Orthodox churches, originally referred to an abbot of some
especially great and important monastery. This particular sign of
respect is only given to those priests who have taken vows of
celibacy as monks] and made him Superior of the St. Sergius
Monastery in St. Petersburg. Tsar Nicholas instructed him to make
the monastery a model for all Russian religious communities. Though
he

had

desired

only

life

of

solitude

and

prayer,

the

new

Archimandrite devoted himself conscientiously to fulfilling the Tsar's


charge. The monastery did in fact become a kind of standard for
Russian monasticism, and its abbot acquired many spiritual children,
not only among his monks but among the laity in the capital. After
280

twenty-four years as superior of the monastery, St. Iganatius was


elevated to the episcopate in 1857, first as Bishop of Stavropol, then
as Bishop of Kavkaz. Only four years later (aged 54) he resigned and
spent the rest of his life in reclusion at the Nicolo-Babaevsky
Monastery in the diocese of Kostromo. There he continued the large
body of spiritual writings for which he is well known. His printed
Works fills five volumes; of these, at least two major works have been
translated into English: On the Prayer of Jesus and The Arena: an
offering to contemporary monasticism. Both are gems of spiritual
writing, profitable to every serious Orthodox Christian. St. Ignatius
reposed in peace in 1867. He was glorified in 1988 by the Moscow
Patriarchate, during the millennial celebrations in that year.

281

282

TODAY IS MAY 1

Saint Tamara, Queen of Georgia


FEAST DAY

In 1166 a daughter, Tamara, was born to King George III and Queen
Burdukhan of Georgia. The king proclaimed that he would share the
throne with his daughter from the day she turned twelve. The royal
court unanimously vowed its allegiance and service to Tamar, and
father and daughter ruled the country together for five years. After
King Georges death in 1184, the nobility recognized the young
Tamara as the sole ruler of all Georgia. Queen Tamara was enthroned
as ruler of all Georgia at the age of eighteen. She is called King in
the Georgian language because her father had no male heir and so
she ruled as a monarch and not as a consort. At the beginning of her
reign, Tamara convened a Church council and addressed the clergy
with wisdom and humility: Judge according to righteousness,
affirming good and condemning evil, she advised. Begin with me if
I sin I should be censured, for the royal crown is sent down from
above as a sign of divine service. Allow neither the wealth of the
nobles nor the poverty of the masses to hinder your work. You by
word and I by deed, you by preaching and I by the law, you by
upbringing and I by education will care for those souls whom God has
entrusted to us, and together we will abide by the law of God, in order
to escape eternal condemnation. You as priests and I as ruler, you
283

as stewards of good and I as the watchman of that good. She is


known in Georgia as the Holy Righteous Queen Tamar (
). The Church and the royal court chose a
suitor for Tamara: Yuri, the son of Prince Andrei Bogoliubsky of
Vladimir-Suzdal (in Georgia Yuri was known as George the Russian).
The handsome George Rusi was a valiant soldier, and under his
command the Georgians were victorious in many of their battles. His
marriage to Tamara, however, exposed many of the coarser sides of
his character. He was often drunk and inclined toward immoral deeds.
In the end, Tamars court banished him to Constantinople, along with
a generous allowance. Many Middle Eastern rulers were drawn to
Queen Tamaras beauty and desired to marry her, but she rejected
them all. Finally at the insistence of her court, she agreed to wed a
second time to ensure the preservation of the dynasty. This time,
however, she asked her aunt and nurse Rusudan to find her a suitor.
The man she chose, Davit-Soslan Bagrationi, was a descendant of
King George I, by whom she had two children, George and Rusudan,
the two successive monarchs on the throne of Georgia. In 1195 a joint
Muslim military campaign against Georgia was planned under the
leadership of the military commander, Abu Bakr of Persian Azerbaijan.
At Queen Tamaras command, a call to arms was issued. The faithful
were instructed by Metropolitan Anton of Chqondidi to celebrate Allnight Vigils and Liturgies and to generously distribute alms so that
the poor could rest from their labors in order to pray. In ten days the
army was prepared, and Queen Tamara addressed the Georgian
soldiers for the last time before the battle began. My brothers! Do not
allow your hearts to tremble before the multitude of enemies, for God
is with us . Trust God alone, turn your hearts to Him in
righteousness, and place your every hope in the Cross of Christ and in
the Most Holy Theotokos!

284

Tamar as depicted on a 13th-century mural from the Kintsvisi monastery

Having taken off her shoes, Queen Tamara climbed the hill to the
Metekhi Church of the Theotokos and knelt before the Icon of the
Most Holy Theotokos. She prayed without ceasing until the good
news arrived that the battle had ended in the unquestionable victory
of the Orthodox Georgian army. After this initial victory the Georgian
army launched into a series of triumphs over the Turks, and
neighboring countries began to regard Georgia as the protector of the
entire Transcaucasus. By the beginning of the 13th century, Georgia
commanded a political authority that was recognized by both the
Christian West and the Muslim East. Georgias military successes
alarmed the Islamic world. Sultan Rukn al-Din was certain that a
united Muslim force could definitively decide the issue of power in the
region, and his enormous armies marched on Georgia in 1203. Having
encamped near Basiani, Rukn al-Din sent a messenger to Queen
Tamara with an audacious demand: to surrender without a fight. In
reward for her obedience, the sultan promised to marry her on the
condition that she embrace Islam. However, he stated that if Tamara
were to cleave to Christianity, he would number her among the other
unfortunate concubines in his harem. When the messenger relayed
the sultans demand, a nobleman was so outraged that he slapped
him on the face, knocking him unconscious. At Queen Tamaras
command, the court generously bestowed gifts upon the ambassador
and sent him away with a Georgian envoy and a letter of reply. Your
proposal takes into consideration your wealth and the vastness of
285

your armies, but fails to account for divine judgment, Tamara wrote,
while I place my trust not in any army or worldly thing but in the right
hand of the Almighty God and the infinite aid of the Cross, which you
curse. The will of God and not your own shall be fulfilled, and the
judgment of God and not your judgment shall reign! The Georgian
soldiers were summoned without delay. Queen Tamara prayed for
victory before the Vardzia Icon of the Theotokos, then, barefoot, led
her army to the gates of the city. Hoping in the Lord and the fervent
prayers of Queen Tamara, the Georgian army marched toward
Basiani. The enemy was defeated. The victory at Basiani was an
enormous event not only for Georgia, but for the entire Christian
world. The military victories increased Queen Tamaras faith. During
the day, she shone in all her royal finery and wisely administered the
affairs of the government. At night, on bended knees, she beseeched
the Lord tearfully to strengthen the Georgian Church. She busied
herself with needlework and distributed her embroidery to the poor.
Once, exhausted from her prayers and needlework, Tamara dozed off
and saw a vision. Entering a luxuriously furnished home, she saw a
gold throne studded with jewels, and she turned to approach it, but
was suddenly stopped by an old man crowned with a halo. Who is
more worthy than I to receive such a glorious throne? Queen Tamara
asked him. He answered her, saying, This throne is intended for your
maidservant, who sewed vestments for twelve priests with her own
hands. You are already the possessor of great treasure in this world.
And he pointed her in a different direction. Having awakened, Queen
Tamara immediately took to her work and with her own hands sewed
vestments for twelve priests. History has preserved another poignant
episode from Queen Tamaras life: Once she was preparing to attend
a festal Liturgy in Gelati, and she fastened precious rubies to the belt
around her waist. Soon after she was told that a beggar outside the
monastery tower was asking for alms, and she ordered her entourage
286

to wait. Having finished dressing, she went out to the tower but found
no one there. Terribly distressed, she reproached herself for having
denied the poor and thus denying Christ Himself. Immediately she
removed her belt, the cause of her temptation, and presented it as an
offering to the Gelati Icon of the Theotokos. During Queen Tamaras
reign a veritable monastic city was carved in the rocks of Vardzia,
and the God-fearing Georgian ruler would labor there during the Great
Fast. The churches of Pitareti, Kvabtakhevi, Betania, and many others
were also built at that time. Queen Tamara generously endowed the
churches and monasteries not only on Georgian territory but also
outside her borders: in Palestine, Cyprus, Mt. Sinai, the Black
Mountains, Greece, Mt. Athos, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Thrace, Romania,
Isauria and Constantinople. Queen Tamara abolished the death
penalty and all forms of bodily torture. A regular, secret observance
of a strict ascetic regime fasting, a stone bed, and litanies chanted
in bare feet finally took its toll on Queen Tamaras health. For a long
time she had refrained from speaking to anyone about her condition,
but when the pain became unbearable she finally sought help. The
best physicians of the time were unable to diagnose her illness, and
all of Georgia was seized with fear. Everyone from the small to the
great prayed fervently for Georgias ruler and defender. The people
were prepared to offer not only their own lives, but even the lives of
their children, for the sake of their beloved ruler. God sent Tamara a
sign when He was ready to receive her into His Kingdom. She bade
farewell to her court and turned in prayer to an icon of Christ and the
Life-giving Cross: Lord Jesus Christ! Omnipotent Master of heaven
and earth! To Thee I deliver the nation and people that were
entrusted to my care and purchased by Thy Precious Blood, the
children whom Thou didst bestow upon me, and to Thee I surrender
my soul, O Lord! The burial place of Queen Tamara has remained a
mystery to this day. Some sources claim that her tomb is in Gelati, in
287

a branch of burial vaults belonging to the Bagrationi dynasty, while


others argue that her holy relics are preserved in a vault at the Holy
Cross Monastery in Jerusalem. Tamar outlived her consort, David
Soslan, and died of a "devastating disease" not far from her capital
Tbilisi, having previously crowned her son, George-Lasha, coregent.
Tamar's historian relates that the queen suddenly fell ill when
discussing the state affairs with her ministers at the Nacharmagevi
castle near the town of Gori. She was transported to Tbilisi and then
to the nearby castle of Agarani where Tamar died and was mourned
by her subjects. Her remains were transferred to the cathedral of
Mtskheta and then to the Gelati monastery, a family burial ground of
the Georgian royal dynasty. The prevalent scholarly opinion is that
Tamar died in 1213. In later times, a number of legends emerged
about Tamar's place of burial. One of them has it that Tamar was
buried in a secret niche at the Gelati monastery so as to prevent the
grave from being profaned by her enemies. Another version suggests
that Tamar's remains were reburied in a remote location, possibly in
the Holy Land. The French knight Guillaume de Bois in his letter,
dating from the early 13th century, written in Palestine and addressed
to the Bishop of Besanon, claimed that he had heard that the king of
the Georgians was heading towards Jerusalem with a huge army and
had already conquered many cities of the Saracens. He was carrying,
the report said, the remains of his mother, the "powerful queen
Tamar" who had been unable to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in
her lifetime and had bequeathed her body to be buried near the Holy
Sepulchre. In the 20th century, the quest for Tamar's grave became a
subject of scholarly research as well as a focus of a broader public
interest. The Georgian writer Grigol Robakidze wrote in his 1918
essay on Tamar: "Thus far, nobody knows where Tamar's grave is.
She belongs to everyone and to no one: her grave is in the heart of the
Georgian. And in the Georgians' perception, this is not a grave, but a
288

beautiful vase in which an unfading flower, the great Tamar,


flourishes." An orthodox academic view still places Tamar's grave at
Gelati, but a series of archaeological studies, beginning with
Taqaishvili in 1920, has failed to locate it at the monastery.

The Gelati monastery a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a presumptive


burial place of Queen Tamar

TODAY IS MAY 2

Saint Boris, Prince and Baptizer of Bulgaria


FEAST DAY

The Holy Equal of the Apostles Tsar Boris ( ), in Holy


Baptism Michael: His apostolic deeds were foretold by an uncle, St
Boyan. The first years of the reign of Tsar Boris were marked by
misfortune. The Bulgarians were frequently at war with surrounding
nations, famine and plague beset the land, and in the year 860
Bulgaria found itself in dire straits. Tsar Boris saw the salvation of his
land, which was darkened by paganism, in its enlightenment by the
faith in Christ. During one of the battles of the Bulgarians with the
Greeks he captured the illustrious courtier Theodore Kuphares, who
had become a monk. He was the first man to plant the seed of the
289

Gospel in the soul of the Bulgarian tsar. In one of the campaigns with
the Greeks the young sister of Tsar Boris was taken captive, and was
raised in the Orthodox Faith at the court of the Byzantine Emperor.
When the emperor Theophilus died, Tsar Boris decided to take
advantage of this circumstance to take revenge upon the Greeks for
his former defeats. But the widow of the emperor, Theodora, showed
courage and sent a messenger to the Bulgarian tsar saying that she
was prepared to defend the Empire and humiliate its opponents. Tsar
Boris agreed to a peace alliance, and Theodore Kuphares was
exchanged for the Bulgarian princess, who influenced her brother
toward Christianity. A while later St Methodius was sent into Bulgaria.
He and his brother St. Cyril were enlightening the Slavic peoples with
the light of Christ. St. Methodius baptized Tsar Boris, his family and
many of the nobles. When the pagan Bulgarians learned of this, they
wanted to kill Tsar Boris, but their plot was frustrated by the tsar.
Deprived of their rebellious leaders, the Bulgarian people voluntarily
accepted Baptism. A peace was concluded between Byzantium and
Bulgaria, based on their unity in faith, which was not broken until the
end of the reign of the noble tsar. The Patriarch Photius took great
interest in the spiritual growth of the Bulgarian nation. In 867,
preachers from Rome were sent into Bulgaria. This led to three years
of discord between the Greek and Roman Churches in Bulgaria. A
Council at Constantinople in 869 put an end to the quarrel, and on
March 3, 870 Bulgaria was joined to the Eastern Church, and
Orthodoxy was firmly established there. Bulgarias holy ascetics: Sts.
Gorazd and Clement of Ochrid were glorified as saints. Tsar Boris
adorned the land with churches and furthered the spread of piety.
Later, a Patriarchal See was established in Bulgaria. In his declining
years, Tsar Boris entered a monastery, leaving the throne to his sons
Vladimir and Simeon. While in the monastery the saint learned that
Vladimir, who succeeded him, had renounced Christianity. Distressed
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by this, St. Boris again donned his military garb, punished his
disobedient son and threw him in prison. After giving the throne to his
younger son Simeon, St. Boris returned to the monastery. He left it
once more to repel a Hungarian invasion. St. Boris, who was named
Michael in holy Baptism, reposed on May 2, 907.

TODAY IS MAY 3

Venerable Saint Theodosius


FEAST DAY

Saint Theodosius of the Caves the Abbot of the Kiev Far Caves
Monastery, and Founder of Coenobitic Monasticism in Russia. He was
born at Vasilevo, not far from Kiev. From his youth he felt an
irresistible attraction for the ascetic life, and led an ascetic lifestyle
while still in his parental home. He disdained childish games and
attractions, and constantly went to church. He asked his parents to
let him study the holy books, and through his ability and rare zeal, he
quickly learned to read the books, so that everyone was amazed at
his intellect. When he was fourteen, he lost his father and remained
under the supervision of his mother, a strict and domineering woman
who loved her son very much. Many times she chastised her son for
his yearning for asceticism, but he remained firmly committed to his
path. At the age of twenty-four, he secretly left his parents home and
St. Anthony at the Kievan Caves monastery blessed him to receive
monastic tonsure with the name Theodosius. After four years his
291

mother found him and with tearfully begged him to return home, but
the saint persuaded her to remain in Kiev and to become a nun in the
monastery of St. Nicholas at the Askold cemetery. St. Theodosius
toiled at the monastery more than others, and he often took upon
himself some of the work of the other brethren. He carried water,
chopped wood, ground up the grain, and carried the flour to each
monk. On cold nights he uncovered his body and let it serve as food
for gnats and mosquitoes. His blood flowed, but the saint occupied
himself with handicrafts, and sang Psalms. He came to church before
anyone else and, standing in one place, he did not leave it until the
end of services. He also listened to the readings with particular
attention. In 1054 St. Theodosius was ordained a hieromonk, and in
1057 he was chosen igumen. The fame of his deeds attracted a
number of monks to the monastery, at which he built a new church
and cells, and he introduced cenobitic rule of the Studion monastery,
a copy of which he commissioned at Constantinople. As igumen, St.
Theodosius continued his arduous duties at the monastery. He usually
ate only dry bread and cooked greens without oil, and spent his nights
in prayer without sleep. The brethren often noticed this, although the
saint tried to conceal his efforts from others. No one saw when St.
Theodosius dozed lightly, and usually he rested while sitting. During
Great Lent the saint withdrew into a cave near the monastery, where
he struggled unseen by anyone. His attire was a coarse hairshirt worn
next to his body. He looked so much like a beggar that it was
impossible to recognize in this old man the renowned igumen, deeply
respected by all who knew him. Once, St. Theodosius was returning
from

visiting

the

Great

Prince

Izyaslav.

The

coachman,

not

recognizing him, said gruffly, You, monk, are always on holiday, but I
am constantly at work. Take my place, and let me ride in the
carriage. The holy Elder meekly complied and drove the servant.
Seeing how nobles along the way bowed to the monk driving the
292

horses, the servant took fright, but the holy ascetic calmed him, and
gave him a meal at the monastery. Trusting in Gods help, the saint
did not keep a large supply of food at the monastery, and therefore
the brethren were in want of their daily bread. Through his prayers,
however, unknown benefactors appeared at the monastery and
furnished the necessities for the brethren. The Great Princes,
especially Izyaslav, loved to listen to the spiritual discourses of St.
Theodosius. The saint was not afraid to denounce the mighty of this
world. Those unjustly condemned always found a defender in him, and
judges would review matters at the request of the igumen. When
Prince Svyatoslav drove out his elder brother the pious Prince
Isyaslav, and ascended to the throne of Chernigov in his place, Saint
Theodosius courageously rebuked him, and continued reproving him
even when threatened with exile. At the request of Prince Shimon, the
son of a Varangian (Viking) prince, the Saint wrote a prayer for the
nobleman's forgiveness of sins, and, at his behest, had it placed in in
his coffin. He was particularly concerned for the destitute. He built a
special courtyard for them at the monastery where anyone in need
could receive food and drink. Sensing the approach of death, St.
Theodosius peacefully fell asleep in the Lord in the year 1074. He was
buried in a cave which he dug, where he secluded himself during
fasting periods. The relics of the ascetic were found incorrupt in the
year 1099, and he was glorified as a saint in 1108. Of the written
works of St. Theodosius six discourses, two letters to Great Prince
Izyaslav, and a prayer for all Christians have survived to our time. The
Life of St. Theodosius was written by St. Nestor the Chronicler, a
disciple of the great Abba, only thirty years after his repose, and it
was always one of the favorite readings of the Russian nation.

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TODAY IS MAY 4

Venerable Saint Nicephorus of Mt. Athos


FEAST DAY

Saint Nicephorus was the teacher of St. Gregory Palamas. He grew up


as a Roman Catholic, but he journeyed to the Byzantine Empire and
became Orthodox. St. Nicephorus lived as an ascetic on Mount Athos,
and is well-known for his insight in his many writings.

He left this

very concise description of the hesychast's path: "Gather you mind


and compel it to enter into your heart and remain there. When your
mind is firmly in your heart, it must not remain empty, but must
incessantly make the prayer: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have
mercy on me!' And it must never fall silent. Through this the whole
string of the virtues: love, joy, peace and the others, will make their
abode in you, by which, then, every request of yours to God will be
fulfilled." His treatise On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the
Heart is found in the fourth volume. He died in the year 1299. His
remains were found incorruptible in 1356.
Athos found healing at his burial site.

294

Many monks on Mount

TODAY IS MAY 5

Martyr Saint Ephraim


FEAST DAY

The holy New Martyr and wonderworker Saint Ephraim was born in
Greece on September 14, 1384. His father died when the saint was
young, and his pious mother was left to care for seven children by
herself. When Ephraim reached the age of fourteen, the all-good God
directed his steps to a monastery on the mountain of Amoman near
Nea

Makri

in

Attica.

The

monastery

was

dedicated

to

the

Annunciation and also to St. Paraskeva. Here he took on his shoulders


the Cross of Christ, which all His followers must bear (Matt. 16:24).
Being enflamed with love for God, St. Ephraim eagerly placed himself
under the monastic discipline. For nearly twenty-seven years he
imitated the life of the great Fathers and ascetics of the desert. With
divine zeal, he followed Christ and turned away from the attractions
of this world. By the grace of God, he purified himself from souldestroying passions and became an abode of the All-Holy Spirit. He
was also found worthy to receive the grace of the priesthood, and
served at the altar with great reverence and compunction. On
September 14, 1425, the barbarous Turks launched an invasion by
sea, destroying the monastery and and looting the surrounding area.
St. Ephraim was one of the victims of their frenzied hatred. Many of
the monks had been tortured and beheaded, but St. Ephraim remained
calm. This infuriated the Turks, so they imprisoned him in order to
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torture him and force him to deny Christ. They locked him in a small
cell without food or water, and they beat him every day, hoping to
convince him to become a Moslem. For several months, he endured
horrible torments. When the Turks realized that the saint remained
faithful to Christ, they decided to put him to death. On Tuesday May 5,
1426, they led him from his cell. They turned him upside down and
tied him to a mulberry tree, then they beat him and mocked him.
Where is your God, they asked, and why doesnt he help you? The
saint did not lose courage, but prayed, O God, do not listen to the
words of these men, but may Thy will be done as Thou hast ordained.
The barbarians pulled the saints beard and tortured him until his
strength ebbed. His blood flowed, and his clothes were in tatters. His
body was almost naked and covered with many wounds. Still the
Hagarenes were not satisfied, but wished to torture him even more.
One of them took a flaming stick and plunged it violently into the
saints navel. His screams were heart-rending, so great was his pain.
The blood flowed from his stomach, but the Turks did not stop. They
repeated the same painful torments many times. His body writhed,
and all his limbs were convulsed. Soon, the saint grew too weak to
speak, so he prayed silently asking God to forgive his sins. Blood and
saliva ran from his mouth, and the ground was soaked with his blood.
Then he lapsed into unconsciousness. Thinking that he had died, the
Turks cut the ropes which bound him to the tree, and the saints body
fell to the ground. Their rage was still not diminished, so they
continued to kick and beat him. After a while, the saint opened his
eyes and prayed, Lord, I give up my spirit to Thee. About nine
oclock in the morning, the martyrs soul was separated from his body.
These things remained forgotten for nearly 500 years, hidden in the
depths of silence and oblivion until January 3, 1950. By then a
womens monastery had sprung up on the site of the old monastery.
Abbess Makaria (+ April 23, 1999) was wandering through the ruins of
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the monastery, thinking of the martyrs whose bones had been


scattered over that ground, and whose blood had watered the tree of
Orthodoxy. She realized that this was a holy place, and she prayed
that God would permit her to behold one of the Fathers who had lived
there. After some time, she seemed to sense an inner voice telling
her to dig in a certain spot. She indicated the place to a workman
whom she had hired to make repairs at the old monastery. The man
was unwilling to dig there, for he wanted to dig somewhere else.
Because the man was so insistent, Mother Makaria let him go where
he wished. She prayed that the man would not be able to dig there,
and so he struck rock. Although he tried to dig in three or four places,
he met with the same results. Finally, he agreed to dig where the
abbess had first indicated. In the ruins of an old cell, he cleared away
the rubble and began to dig in an angry manner. The abbess told him
to slow down, for she did not want him to damage the body that she
expected to find there. He mocked her because she expected to find
the relics of a saint. When he reached the depth of four feet, however,
he unearthed the head of the man of God. At that moment an ineffable
fragrance filled the air. The workman turned pale and was unable to
speak. Mother Makaria told him to go and leave her there by herself.
She knelt and reverently kissed the body. As she cleared away more
earth, she saw the sleeves of the saints rasson. The cloth was thick
and appeared to have been woven on the loom of an earlier time. She
uncovered the rest of the body and began to remove the bones, which
appeared to be those of a martyr. Mother Makaria was still in that
holy place when evening fell, so she read the service of Vespers.
Suddenly she heard footsteps coming from the grave, moving across
the courtyard toward the door of the church. The footsteps were
strong and steady, like those of a man of strong character. The nun
was afraid to turn around and look, but then she heard a voice say,
How long are you going to leave me here? She saw a tall monk with
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small, round eyes, whose beard reached his chest. In his left hand
was a bright light, and he gave a blessing with his right hand. Mother
Makaria was filled with joy and her fear disappeared. Forgive me,
she said, I will take care of you tomorrow as soon as God makes the
day dawn. The saint disappeared, and the abbess continued to read
Vespers. In the morning after Matins, Mother Makaria cleaned the
bones and placed them in a niche in the altar area of the church,
lighting a candle before them. That night St. Ephraim appeared to her
in a dream. He thanked her for caring for his relics, then he said, My
name is Ephraim. From his own lips, she heard the story of his life
and martyrdom. Since St. Ephraim glorified God in his life and by his
death, the Lord granted him the grace of working miracles. Those who
venerate his holy relics with faith and love have been healed of all
kinds of illnesses and infirmities, and he is quick to answer the
prayers of those who call upon him.

TODAY IS MAY 6

Saint Sophia the Righteous


FEAST DAY

This holy ascetic, newly glorified in 2011, was born as Sophia Saoulidi
in 1883 in Trebizond, Turkey. In 1907 she married, but her husband
disappeared seven years later, leaving her with a newborn son. Not
long afterward her beloved only son also died. Turning from the world,
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she placed all her trust in God, spending her time in solitary prayer on
a mountain near her town. In 1919 she arrived in Greece as part of the
exchange of populations between Turkey and Greece. Not long after
her arrival the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to her in a vision and
said Come to my house. When Sophia asked her where to find her
house, the Virgin replied I am in Kleisoura. Heeding these holy
instructions, Sophia moved to the Monastery of the Nativity of the
Theotokos in Kleisoura in northern Greece, where she remained for
the rest of her life. She never took monastic tonsure, but lived in the
monastery kitchen. She slept only two hours a night, giving over the
rest of the night to prayer. She dressed in old, tattered clothes, but if
anyone tried to give her better clothing she would give it away to the
poor. Similarly, if anyone gave her money, she would hide it until she
could give it to someone in need. She ate very little and showed no
interest in food. Worldly people called her Crazy Sophia, but those
with discernment saw her as a living saint. She was endowed with
gifts of healing and prophecy: when visitors would come to her she
would greet them by name even if she had never met them before,
and would describe their family problems, offering counsel. Through
her prays thousands of people were healed after their visit with the
Saint.

In 1967 she was healed of a painful, life-threatening illness

through a vision of the Holy Theotokos, the Archangel Gabriel and St.
George. She fell asleep in the Lord on May 6 (New Calendar) 1974,
after a long life given over to prayer, asceticism and utter poverty.
Her relics are enshrined in the monastery where she spent most of
her life. When a member of the community of the Monastery of the
Nativity of the Theotokos is ill, they pray at her site where they are
healed.

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TODAY IS MAY 7

Saint Alexis Toth of Wilkes-Barre


FEAST DAY

This light of Orthodoxy in North America was born in Austro-Hungary


in 1854, to poor Carpatho-Russian parents. His father was a priest in
the Eastern-rite Roman Catholic church and, following in his father's
footsteps, he was ordained in 1878. In 1889 he was appointed to
serve as pastor to a Uniate parish in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Prompted partly by the strong hostility of the American Roman
Catholic hierarchy at that time to Eastern-rite practices, he convened
a

meeting

of

about

ten

Eastern-rite

priests

in

Wilkes-Barre

Pennsylvania, where the divinely-led decision was made to seek to


return to the Orthodox faith. Fr. Alexis contacted Bishop Vladimir of
the Russian church in San Francisco, who, in 1891, received Fr. Alexis
and 361 of his parishioners back into the faith of their ancestors.
From that time forward, Fr. Alexis worked tirelessly, at great personal
sacrifice, to proclaim the truths of the Orthodox faith, especially to
those still attached to its mimic, Byzantine Catholicism. For long
periods of time he received little or no salary and (despite claims that
he had embraced Orthodoxy to enrich himself) worked in a bakery to
support himself. He became responsible for the conversions of
approximately 20,000 Eastern Rite Catholics to the Russian Orthodox
Church, which contributed to the growth of Eastern Orthodoxy in the
United States and the eventual establishment of the Orthodox Church
300

in America. St. Alexis reposed in 1909; He was officially glorified in


1994. His holy relics can be venerated at St. Tikhon's Monastery in
South Canaan, Pennsylvania.

TODAY IS MAY 8

Saint Arsenios the Great


FEAST DAY

Fresco at Mount Athos, 14th century

Father Arsenios the Great was born in 350 AD, in Rome to a Christian,
Roman senatorial family. After his parents died, his sister Afrositty
was admitted to a community of virgins, and he gave all their riches
to the poor, and lived an ascetic life. Arsenius became famous for his
righteousness and wisdom. Arsenius is said to have been made a
deacon by Pope Damasus I who recommended him to Byzantine
Emperor Theodosius I the Great, who had requested the Emperor
Gratian and Pope Damasus around 383 to find him in the West a tutor
for his sons (future emperors Arcadius and Honorius). Arsenius was
chosen on the basis of being a man well read in Greek literature. He
reached Constantinople in 383, and continued as tutor in the imperial
family for eleven years, during the last three of which he also had
charge of his original pupil Arcadius's brother, Honorius. Coming one
day to see his sons at their studies, Theodosius found them sitting
301

while Arsenius talked to them standing. This he would not tolerate,


and caused the teacher to sit and the pupils to stand. On his arrival at
court Arsenius had been given a splendid establishment, and probably
because the Emperor so desired, he lived in great pomp, but all the
time felt a growing inclination to renounce the world. While living in
the Emperor's palace, God gave him grace in the sight of everyone,
and they all loved him. He lived a lavish life in the palace, but all the
time felt a growing inclination to renounce the world. One day he was
praying, and said, O God teach me how to be saved. And Gods voice
came to him through the Gospel, "For what is a man profited, if he
shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26).
He left Constantinople and came by sea to Alexandria and fled into
the wilderness. When he first presented himself to Saint Macarius the
Great, the father of the monks of Scetis, he recommended him to the
care of Saint John the Dwarf to try him. Sometime around the year
400 he joined the desert monks at Scetes, Egypt, and asked to be
admitted among the solitaries who dwelt there. Saint John the Dwarf,
to whose cell he was conducted, though previously warned of the
quality of his visitor, took no notice of him and left him standing by
himself while he invited the rest to sit down at table. When the repast
was half finished he threw down some bread before him, bidding him
with an air of indifference eat if he would. Arsenius meekly picked up
the bread and ate, sitting on the ground. Satisfied with this proof of
humility, St. John kept him under his direction. The new solitary was
from the first most exemplary yet unwittingly retained certain of his
old habits, such as sitting cross-legged or laying one foot over the
other. Noticing this, the abbot requested some one to imitate
Arsenius's posture at the next gathering of the brethren, and upon his
doing so, forthwith rebuked him publicly. Arsenius took the hint and
corrected himself. In 434 he was forced to leave due to raids on the
monasteries and hermitages there by the Mazici (tribesmen from
302

Libya). He relocated to Troe (near Memphis), and also spent some


time on the island of Canopus (off Alexandria). He spent the next
fifteen years wandering the desert wilderness before returning to
Troe to die c. 445 at the age of around 100. During the fifty-five years
of his solitary life he was always the most meanly clad of all, thus
punishing himself for his former seeming vanity in the world. In like
manner, to atone for having used perfumes at court, he never changed
the water in which he moistened the palm leaves of which he made
mats, but only poured in fresh water upon it as it wasted, thus letting
it become stenchy in the extreme. Even while engaged in manual
labour he never relaxed in his application to prayer. At all times
copious tears of devotion fell from his eyes. But what distinguished
him most was his disinclination to all that might interrupt his union
with God. When, after long search, his place of retreat was
discovered, he not only refused to return to court and act as adviser
to his former pupil, now Roman Emperor, Arcadius, but he would not
even be his almoner to the poor and the monasteries of the
neighborhood. He invariably denied himself to visitors, no matter what
their rank and condition and left to his disciples the care of
entertaining them. A biography of Arsenius was written by Theodore
the Studite. Saint Arsenius was a man who was very quiet and often
silent. He is most famous for always saying, Many times I spoke, and
as a result felt sorry, but I never regretted my silence. It was told of
him that, on Saturday evenings, he would stand, turn his back to the
setting sun, raise his hands in prayer, and pray without sitting down
until the sun shone on his face the following morning. A monk who
came to visit him looked into his cell and saw Arsenios at prayer, his
entire body glowing like a flame. His contemporaries so admired him
as to surname him "the Great". His feast day is celebrated on May 8 in
the Eastern Orthodox Church on 13 Pashons in the Coptic Orthodox
Church.
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TODAY IS MAY 9

Saint Joseph of Optina


FEAST DAY

Saint Joseph of Optina was born on November 2, 1837 in the village of


Gorodishcha in the province of Kharkov. His name in the world was
John Litovkin, and his parents Euthymius and Maria were simple but
pious people. They were generous to the poor, and often lent money
to those in need even when there seemed little chance that it would
be repaid. Euthymius also loved to receive monks who came to his
door collecting alms for their monasteries. Invariably, he would give
each one five rubles for the needs of the monastery. The Litovkins
had six children, and they often read to them from spiritual books,
especially from the Lives of the Saints. The second of their three sons
(the future St. Joseph) was baptized with the name John in honor of
St John the Merciful. Instead of providing them with earthly wealth,
the couple endowed their children with heavenly treasures, raising
them in piety, obedience, and in the fear of God. John learned to read
even before he started school, taught by his older sister Alexandra at
home. He was a sickly child, nearsighted and hard of hearing in one
ear. He also met with various accidents. Once he was knocked down
by another child and bit off the tip of his own tongue. Another time he
was scalded with boiling water. In spite of all this, he was a happy
and affectionate child. His father knew there was something special
304

about John, and others also believed that Gods special favor was
upon the boy. When he was only four, Johns beloved father died, and
his mother had to raise the children herself. When he was eight, John
was playing with some friends, and suddenly froze on the spot. He
raised his arms and his head toward the sky, then fell down
unconscious. They carried him home and put him to bed. When he
awoke, they asked him what had happened. He told them that he had
seen the Queen of Heaven in the air. What makes you think you saw
the Queen? they asked. Because she had a crown with a cross, he
replied. From that time on, the boy became more quiet and thoughtful,
and started to avoid childrens games. Soon after this, the family
moved into a new home. There was a great fire in the village, and
John prayed that the Mother of God would protect their house from
the flames. The Livotkin home was spared, even though everything
around it was burned. In 1848, their mother died during an outbreak of
cholera. John was only eleven at the time. His older brother Simeon
and his sister Anna were both married before their mother passed
away, and his sister Alexandra had gone to the Borisovsk monastery
in Kursk Province to become a nun. Simeon became the head of the
family, although his drinking problem made him rather unreliable.
Simeon took care of John for a while, and their younger brother Peter
went to live with Anna. Simeon decided to leave home, and so John
was placed in the care of various people, including a tavern keeper
and a grocer. Unable to endure conditions in the homes of such
people, John went to live with a cousin who was a deacon in
Novocherkassk. He ate nothing on his journey, for he was ashamed to
beg, and people did not offer him any food on their own. When he
arrived at the church where his cousin served, John sat down outside
and waited for the Liturgy to end. Two women with rolls passed by
and took pity upon him. One of them gave him a warm roll, which the
boy regarded as manna from heaven. John stayed with his cousin for
305

a brief time, then moved on to other places, taking various jobs to


support himself. Later in life he was asked whether he had ever had a
girlfriend when he was living in the world. He shook his head and said,
Since I was nearsighted, I couldnt really see anyone at a distance,
and I was too shy to approach anyone up close. While living in the
world John was often unhappy, and he found consolation in prayer
and in church services. One day he received a letter from his sister,
Mother Leonida, suggesting that he enter the skete at Optina, which
was blessed with experienced Elders. Then the desire to leave the
world and embrace the monastic life began to grow within him.
Learning that John was planning to make a pilgrimage to the Kiev
Caves, the man for whom he was working offered him his daughter in
marriage. Years later Fr. Joseph would say, Its always that way. As
soon as one begins to think of following the path to salvation,
obstacles and tempataions begin to appear. With his employers
permission, John started out for Kiev. On the way, he stopped to visit
his parents graves and the place where he had spent a happy
childhood. He stayed briefly at the Dormition Monastery in Kharkovs
Holy Mountains, but he did not wish to remain there. Finally he went
to the Borisovsk Womens Hermitage to visit his sister, Mother
Leonida. She had spoken to St. Macarius of Optina of her concern for
John. He told her not to worry, because John would become a monk.
Mother Leonidas Eldress, Schemanun Alypia, overheard some of their
conversation and said to John, Forget about Kiev. Go to the Elders at
Optina. Mother Leonida gave him a look indicating that John should
obey. He traveled to Optina with some nuns of the womens
monastery at Belev, driving the cart for them. St Macarius had already
departed to the Lord in 1860, and was succeeded as Elder by his
disciple, St. Ambrose. Knowing of Johns monastic inclinations, the
nuns jokingly introduced him as Brother John. St. Ambrose replied
solemnly, This Brother John will prove useful to us, and to you. On
306

March 1, 1861 John found himself standing before the Elder Ambrose,
telling him of his life, and asking for a blessing to go to Kiev. Fr.
Ambrose told him to remain at Optina, forseeing the blessings he
would bring to Optina, and to the womens monasteries which were
under the guidance of the Optina Elders. Taking St. Ambroses words
as an indication of Gods will, John murmured, May it be blessed.
John, like all new novices, was given an obedience in the kitchen. He
was assigned to help the cook in the skete. From the very start, John
demonstrated perfect obedience and humility. Life in the monastery
was everything he had hoped it would be, and he was glad to leave
the tumult of the world behind. In June the Superior of the Skete, Fr.
Paphnutius, asked John if he would like to move in with the Elder
Ambrose as his cell-attendant. The next day he moved to the Elders
quarters, where he remained for the next fifty years. As happy as he
was to be near the Elder, he was disturbed by the constant flow of
visitors. He felt that there was no time to pray or go to church, and
began to have misgivings. He was tempted by the thought that
perhaps he would be better off in Kiev or on Mount Athos, and did not
notice that Fr. Ambrose had entered the cell. Suddenly he felt a hand
on his shoulder and heard the Elder say, Brother John, its better
here than it is on Athos. Stay with us. John realized that his thoughts
had been sent by the Enemy of our salvation, and he fell down at Fr.
Ambroses feet in repentance. On April 15, 1872 he was tonsured as a
rassophore (wearer of the rassa), then on June 16, 1872 he was
tonsured as a monk, receiving the name Joseph in honor of St. Joseph
the Hymnographer. He was unexpectedly ordained as a deacon in
1877 in a way which demonstrated that God was directing the course
of his life.

On December 7 (Fr. Ambroses nameday), Igumen Isaac

served Liturgy in the skete church. Later, he visited Fr. Ambrose to


offer his congratulations, and the cell-attendants Fr. Joseph and Fr.
Michael served them tea. The Superior asked Fr. Ambrose about a
307

monk whom he proposed to recommend for ordination to the


diaconate. The Elder said that the time was not right for that
particular monk, recommending someone else instead. Noticing Fr.
Joseph standing nearby with a tray, Fr. Isaac smiled and said, Well
Father, you dont want my candidate, and I dont want yours. Lets
ordain Fr. Joseph. So it was that Fr. Joseph was sent to Kaluga,
where he was ordained by Bishop Gregory on December 9. It was
customary at Optina that a newly-ordained deacon or priest would
serve every day for forty days. Fr. Josephs health did not permit him
to fulfill the forty days, however. He developed an inflammation on his
right side, and he nearly died. Fr. Josephs life continued as it had
before, but with more responsibilities. He had no cell of his own, but
continued to sleep in the reception room, which the Elder used each
day until almost 11 P.M. Fr. Ambrose frequently tested his cellattendant in order to give him the opportunity to acquire patience and
humility, following the instructions of St. John of the Ladder. Fr.
Ambrose built the Shamordino Convent about eight miles from Optina,
and on October 1, 1884 Bishop Vladimir of Kaluga came for its
opening. At the Liturgy that day, Fr. Joseph was ordained as a priest.
From that day forward the nuns regarded him as their priest, and he
became the spiritual director of the convent after the repose of Fr.
Ambrose. Fr. Joseph now became the Elders senior cell-attendant,
and tried to protect him and also to placate the visitors who grumbled
about having to wait for so long to see Fr. Ambrose. In spite of his
duties, Fr. Joseph found time to read spiritual books. He particularly
loved the PHILOKALIA and the writings of the Fathers. In these books
he found spiritual wisdom, which he shared with those who came to
him for advice. St Josephs inner life was known only to God, but his
advice to others indicates that he practiced unceasing prayer of the
heart. Forseeing that Fr Joseph would serve as Elder after him, Fr.
Ambrose blessed some people to start going to Fr. Joseph for their
308

spiritual needs. Fr. Joseph attended St. Ambrose for thirty years, until
the Elders death on October 10, 1891. Fr. Ambrose prepared Fr.
Joseph for eldership, teaching him by word and by example. He would
also refer some visitors to Fr. Joseph for advice. There was such
oneness of mind between them that when people would ask Fr.
Joseph about something and then ask Fr. Ambrose about the same
thing, they would receive the very same answer. Fr. Josephs health
was not good, and he was susceptible to colds in winter. In February
1888 he became very ill and took to his bed, and he received the
Mystey of Holy Unction. The doctor recommended that he be moved
to the infirmary for treatment, but Fr. Joseph did not wish to leave Fr.
Ambrose. The Superior of the skete insisted on the transfer, however.
The ride to the monastery in a sleigh during cold weather only made
his illness worse. Fr. Joseph was tonsured into the schema (the
highest level of monasticism) during the Liturgy on February 14. The
next day, prayers for the Departure of the Soul were read for him, and
people came to bid him farewell. A novice, sitting behind a screen,
heard Fr. Joseph praying aloud. Peering through a slit in the screen,
he saw Fr. Joseph gazing at an icon of Christ and lifting up his hands.
This novice went to the infirmary later and heard someone behind the
screen say, Be patient, my dear one, only a little remains. He looked
behind the screen, but saw no one there except Fr. Joseph. Later, Fr.
Ambrose told people that Fr. Joseph had seen the Mother of God
during his illness. Though he had been quite near death, he got well.
After his recovery, Fr. Joseph began to hear confessions on a regular
basis, since this was becoming too difficult for Fr. Ambrose. He
blessed people to go to Fr. Joseph not just once, but always. In the
summer of 1888, Fr. Ambrose blessed Fr. Joseph to go on a pilgrimage
to Kiev. After nearly thirty years, he was able to fulfill his desire to
visit the holy places of Kiev. On his way back to Optina, he stopped to
visit his sister Mother Leonida at Borisovsk. Fr. Ambrose usually
309

spent three weeks during the summer at the Shamordino Convent,


accompanied by Fr. Joseph. In June of 1890 Fr. Joseph began to
prepare for the journey, but Fr. Ambrose said, Im not taking you this
time, youre needed here. He ordered Fr. Joseph to move into his cell
and to transfer a large Surety of Sinners Icon into the reception
room. Fr. Joseph had a premonition that Fr. Ambrose would never
return. Although he missed the Elder, Fr. Joseph resigned himself to
the situation. He did go to Shamordino once a month to visit Fr.
Ambrose, however. In the absence of Fr. Ambrose, many monks who
confessed to him began to go to Fr. Joseph. During the Nativity Fast
Fr. Ambrose started sending his spiritual children at Shamordino to
confess to Fr. Joseph as well. This was difficult for the nuns, who
were used to Fr. Ambrose. Even when he heard a nuns confession
himself, Fr. Ambrose would send her to Fr. Joseph for the prayers of
absolution. In this manner, he indicated that he was entrusting his
spiritual children to no one but Fr. Joseph. In September 1891 Fr.
Ambrose became ill, but no one thought it was serious. On October 8,
he was so critical that they sent for Fr. Joseph. That evening the
service of Holy Unction was performed, and the next morning Fr.
Joseph gave Fr. Ambrose Communion for the last time. St. Ambrose
reposed on the morning of October 10, and no one grieved more than
Fr. Joseph. Even in his sorrow, however, he comforted and consoled
others. Without any outside influence or pressure, the monks of
Optina began coming to Fr. Joseph just as they had come to Fr.
Ambrose. When the nuns of Shamordino asked to whom they should
go for spiritual direction, Fr. Isaac told them, At Optina all we have
Fr. Joseph as our common Elder, and he must be yours as well. For
the next twenty years, St. Joseph received visitors, gave spiritual
counsel to those who asked for his advice, and even performed
miracles of healing for the afflicted. Out of humility, Fr. Joseph never
said anything on his own authority, but quoted the words of Fr.
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Ambrose, or gave examples from his life. He spoke very little, and
then only to answer a question which had been put to him. Some
laymen, and even some of the monks, were annoyed with him
because he did not say more. One monk had the thought that since Fr.
Joseph was filled with spiritual wisdom and was so familiar with the
writings of the Fathers, he could have said many beneficial things to
people. The Elder explained this to him, quoting St. Peter of
Damascus, who said that one should not say anything helpful unless
asked by the brethren, because then the resulting benefit would come
from their free choice. Even concerning something which might be
useful for salvation, the ancient Fathers would not speak without
being asked, considering unsolicited advice as idle talk. His greatest
care was for the Shamordino Convent, which remained unfinished,
and for the spiritual welfare of its nuns. The Superior of the convent
now turned to Fr. Joseph to consult him about everything related to
the life of the convent, and would do nothing without his blessing. He
went there twice a year, during the Apostles Fast, and during the
Dormition Fast, to hear the confessions of the sisters. In the winter,
they would visit him at Optina for Confession. Soon he was obliged to
give up traveling to Shamordino because of his health. Fr. Joseph was
officially appointed as confessor for the Optina brotherhood near the
end of 1893 when Fr. Anatole became ill and could not fulfill this duty.
Many of the monks had already been confessing to Fr. Joseph, but
now they all came to him. On January 25, 1894 St. Anatole, the head
of the skete, fell asleep in the Lord. Archimandrite Isaac and the
bretheren unanimously chose Fr. Joseph to succeed Fr. Anatole as
Superior of the skete. Although he never sought this honor, Fr. Joseph
accepted his election with all humility. He discharged his duties, not
by issuing orders, but with paternal love and humility. As Superior, he
could have chosen to serve only on major Feast Days when the
priests concelebrated, and designated one of the priests of the skete
311

to serve on other days. He often served as a simple monk, however,


with only one deacon to assist him. During the last years of his life,
Fr. Joseph grew weaker and was often ill. In May of 1905 he felt that
he lacked the strength to carry out his duties, and he asked to retire
as Superior of the skete. He also had to give up hearing the
confessions of visitors, since this exhausted him. His spiritual
children were saddened by his decision, but the monks and nuns
continued to come to him with their spiritual wounds and afflictions.
In 1911 Fr. Joseph was weak and ill, but began to feel somewhat
better during Great Lent. He was unusually joyful during Holy Week,
which led some to believe that he had had some sort of vision. On
April 11, the third day of Pascha, Fr. Joseph developed a fever and
stopped seeing visitors. The following week, a doctor diagnosed him
with maleria, declaring that there was no hope for recovery. On April
20 the wonderworking Icon of the Sign was brought to his cell and a
molieben was served. In the afternoon, the Kazan Icon and the rassa
of St. Seraphim were brought to him. Two days later, he requested
that the skete brotherhood be permitted to come to him so that he
could bid them farewell and ask their forgiveness. Then he asked that
the Shamordino nuns also be allowed to come. Fr. Joseph stopped
taking food from April 28 on, nourishing himself only with the Holy
Mysteries of Christ. Up until the time of his death, he was conscious
and lucid, answering questions and dictating replies to letters. On
May 8 he felt a little better, then became weak again. On the morning
of May 9 he received Holy Communion, then at four in the afternoon
he received some people for a final blessing. That evening the Elder
lay resting on his bed with his eyes closed, and his face shone with an
unearthly radiance. At 10:45 he drew his last breath and departed to
the Lord with a smile on his face. After the body was prepared for
burial, panikhidas were served one after another for the departed
Elder. The saint appeared to some of the brethren in dreams both that
312

night and on subsequent days. Several miracles took place on the day
St. Joseph was laid to rest at the feet of Fr. Ambrose. Even today, he
continues to intercede with God and to work miracles for those who
entreat him with faith. St. Joseph became a great Elder because first
he had been a great disciple. He was obedient to his Elder Fr.
Ambrose in all things, and never contradicted him. Because he
renounced his own will, refrained from judging others, and reproached
himself for his own sins, Fr. Joseph acquired humility and the grace of
God. He also obtained from the Lord the discernment to recognize
every sort of spiritual illness, and how to treat it.

TODAY IS MAY 10

Blessed Saint Thais of Egypt


FEAST DAY

Saint Thais lived in Egypt in the fifth century. Left an orphan after the
death of her wealthy parents, she led a pious life, distributing her
wealth to the poor, and she gave shelter to pilgrims on her estate.
She decided that she would never marry, but would devote her life to
serving Christ. After spending all her inheritance, Thais was tempted
to acquire more money by any means, and began to lead a sinful life.
The Elders of Sketis near Alexandria heard of her fall, and asked St.
John the Dwarf (November 9) to go to Thais and persuade her to
repent. She was kind to us, they said, now perhaps we can help
313

her. You, Father, are wise. Go and try to save her soul, and we will
pray that the Lord will help you. The Elder went to her home, but
Thaiss servant did not want to allow him into the house. St. John
said, Tell your mistress that I have brought her something very
precious. Thais, knowing that the monks sometimes found pearls at
the shore, told her servant to admit the visitor. St. John sat down and
looked her in the face, and then began to weep. Thais asked him why
he was crying. How can I not weep, he asked, when you have
forsaken your Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, and are pleasing
Satan by your deeds? The Elders words pierced the soul of Thais
like a fiery arrow, and at once she realized how sinful her present life
had become. In fear, she asked him if God would accept the
repentance of a sinner like her. St. John replied that the Savior
awaited her repentance. That is why He came, to seek and to save
the perishing. He will welcome you with love, he said, and the
angels will rejoice over you. As the Savior said Himself, one repentant
sinner causes the powers of Heaven to rejoice (Luke 15:7). A feeling
of repentance enveloped her, and regarding the Elders words as a
call from the Lord Himself to return to Him, Thais trembled and
thought only of finding the path of salvation. She stood up and left her
house without speaking to her servants, and without making any sort
of disposition of her property, so that even St. John was amazed.
Following St. John into the wilderness, she hastened to return to God
through penitence and prayer. Night fell, and the Elder prepared a
place for Thais to lay down and sleep. He made a pillow for her from
the sand, and he went off somewhat farther, and went to sleep after
his evening prayers. In the middle of the night, he was wakened by a
light coming down from the heavens to the place where Thais was at
rest. In the radiant light he saw holy angels bearing her soul to
Paradise. When he went over to Thais, he found her dead. St. John
prayed and asked God to reveal to him whether Thais had been saved.
314

An angel of God appeared and told him, Abba John, her one hour of
repentance was equal to many years, because she repented with all
her soul, and a companionate heart. After burying the body of the
saint, St. John returned to Sketis and told the monks what had
happened. All offered thanks to God for His mercy toward Thais who,
like the wise thief, repented in a single moment.

TODAY IS MAY 11

Saint Christopher, called Christesia


FEAST DAY

Blessed St. Christesias family was from Egrisi in western Georgia.


From his youth Christesia longed for the divine services and the
solitary life, but he was forced by his master to marry, and by this
marriage he begot a son. Later, when both his wife and son had died,
his master insisted that hemarry again, but the pious Christesia would
not heed his masters order. Instead he related the order to his
spiritual father, who advised him to depart from the world and journey
to the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. Deeply inspired by his spiritual fathers
counsel, Christesia abandoned his possessions and his life in the
world and withdrew to the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in the
Davit-Gareji Wilderness. The holy father spent many years in humble
service to the Lord. He was assigned to gather firewood and bring
water for the monastery, and he performed these tasks obediently
315

and in perfect meekness. Every day he walked over four miles to fill a
pitcher with water and then carried it to a small hut nearby. He hung
the pitcher at the entrance to make it visible from a distance, and
travelers who passed by would come to quench their thirst. He also
kept a small vegetable garden to feed the passers-by. Every Saturday
he prepared kolio (a dish of wheat and honey traditionally offered to
commemorate the departed) and divided it in three parts: one part
commemorated the family and loved ones of those who had donated
the wheat and honey; the second, the deceased fathers of the
monastery; and the last, all departed Orthodox Christians. It always
disturbed St. Christesia to see his brothers and sisters at odds with
one another, so when he heard that two people were quarreling, he
would go and reconcile them. My children! he would say, If you do
not heed my words, I will leave in sorrow, and the devil, who is always
resistant to peace, will rejoice and send more tribulations upon you. I
came to you hungry, and I will depart hungry! His words warmed the
hearts of those whom he counseled and helped them to be reconciled
with one another. One hot evening after Vespers, St. Christesia set off
on foot for a certain village. He left during twilight, and when night fell
the sky was without a moon and extraordinarily dark. Before long it
became difficult to walk any farther, so St. Christesia stopped to pray,
and a bright light appeared before him to light the way. The divine
light guided him all through the night, until he reached the village of
Sartichala. St. Christesias cell was poor and cramped. He slept on a
bed of wooden planks that he covered in sheepskin, and instead of a
pillow he rested his head on a stone. The pious ascetic wore a
sheepskin coat and sandals made of bark. Whatever he received he
gave to the poor. Having placed complete trust in God, he would not
permit himself to worry about the morrow, nor did he bother to store
up food or supplies for the harsh winter months. Father Christesia
was already advanced in age when he was tonsured a monk and given
316

the new name Christopher. He reposed peacefully in 1771, at the age


of eighty.

TODAY IS MAY 12

Saint Dionysius the Archimandrite of


Saint Sergius Monastery
TODAY IS MAY

St. Dionysius of Radonezh, born in the world David Zobninovsky, was


born about 1570 in the city of Rzhev. A novice, and then head of the
Staritsky Dormition monastery, during the Time of Troubles he was
the foremost helper of St. Hermogenes, Patriarch of Moscow. From
1611, St. Dionysius was archimandrite of the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra.
Under his administration, a house and hospice for the injured and
those left homeless during the Polish-Lithuanian incursion was
opened near the monastery. During a famine, he told the brethren of
the Lavra to eat oat bread and water, leaving the wheat and the rye
bread for the sick. In 1611-1612, he and the steward of the TrinitySergiev monastery, the monk Abraham Palitsyn, wrote letters asking
the people of Nizhni-Novgorod and other cities to send fighting men
and money to liberate Moscow from the Poles. He also wrote to
Prince Demetrius Pozharsky and to all the military people, urging
them to hasten the campaign for Moscow. His monastic training
helped St Dionysius to maintain his own inner light undiminished
during the terrible years of this evil time. The saint achieved a high
317

degree of spiritual perfection through unceasing prayer, which gave


him the gift of working miracles. He carefully concealed his spiritual
life from other people, who might suffer harm from a superficial
knowledge of it. Do not ask a monk about things concerning his
monastic life, said St. Dionysius, since for us monks, it is a great
misfortune to reveal such secrets to laymen. It is written that what is
done in secret should not be known, even by your own left hand. We
must hide ourselves, so that what we do remains unknown, lest the
devil lead us into all manner of negligence and indolence. We can
only measure his spiritual development, and the knowledge of God
which he attained, by those things which became apparent when
circumstances compelled St. Dionysius to take an active part in the
life of the world around him. One such circumstance was his
involvement in the revision of the service books. In 1616 St Dionysius
spoke of work on correction of the Book of Needs by comparing it
with the ancient Slavonic manuscripts and various Greek editions.
During their work, investigators discovered discrepancies in other
books edited in the period between patriarchs (1612-1619). People did
not understand what the editors were doing, so they accused St
Dionysius and the others of heresy at a Council of 1618. Deposed from
his priestly rank and excommunicated from the Church, he was
imprisoned in the Novospassky (New Monastery of the Transfiguration
of the Savior) monastery, where they wanted to kill him by starvation.
The intervention of Patriarch Philaretos of Moscow and Patriarch
Theophanes of Jerusalem (1619-1633) won his release in 1619, and he
was cleared of the charges against him and was restored to his
position as archimandrite of the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra. St. Dionysius
was known for his strict observance of the monastery Rule, for
sharing in monastery tasks and in the rebuilding of the monastery
after the siege of the Lavra. He was also known for his quiet miracle
works, healing people and swearing them to secrecy. The Life and
318

Canon to the saint was composed by the Trinity-Sergiev monastery


steward Simon Azaryn and augmented by the priest John Nasedka, a
coworker of St Dionysius when he was correcting the service books.
St. Dionysius reposed on May 12, 1633 and was buried in the TrinitySergiev Lavra. At his service, hundreds of people testified on how St
Dionysius had healed them of illness.

TODAY IS MAY 13

Saint Euthymius of Athos the Translator


FEAST DAY

The venerable Euthymius of Mt. Athos was the son of St. John of Mt.
Athos,

military

commander

during

the

reign

of

King

Davit

Kuropalates, who abandoned the world to enter the monastic life.


While St. John was laboring on Mt. Olympus, the Byzantine emperor
returned a large portion of the conquered Georgian lands, but in
exchange for this benefaction he ordered that the children of certain
eminent aristocrats be taken to Constantinople as surety. Among his
hostages was St. Johns young son, Euthymius. When John discovered
that his son was being held captive in Constantinople, he departed
immediately to appeal to the emperor for his release. Eventually
Johns request was granted, and he took Euthymius back with him to
the monastery. However, by this time the young Euthymius had
319

already forgotten his native language. Soon St. Johns name was
known in every monastery on Mt. Olympus, so the holy father
withdrew with his son and several disciples to Mt. Athos, to the Lavra
of St. Athanasius the Great, to escape the homage and praise. From
his youth Euthymius received great grace from the Holy Spirit. While
still a child he fell deeply ill, and his father, losing hope in his
recovery, sent for a priest to bring him Holy Communion. Then he
went into a church, knelt before the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos,
and began to pray for his son. When he returned to his cell he was
greeted by the pleasant scent of myrrh and the sight of his son,
standing

in

perfect

health.

Euthymius

told

his

father

that

magnificent Queen had appeared to him and asked him in Georgian,


What has happened to you? What has disturbed you so, Euthymius?
I am dying, my Queen, he had said. Then the Queen embraced him,
saying, Arise, do not be afraid, but speak freely in your native
Georgian

tongue!

After

this

miraculous

healing

the

Georgian

language flowed from Euthymiuss mouth like water pouring forth


from a clear spring, and the young man surpassed all others in
eloquence. Venerable John gave great thanks to God and explained to
his son the meaning of the vision: My son! Our country is suffering
from a terrible shortage of books. But the Lord has bestowed upon
you a gift, and now you must labor diligently in order to more
abundantly recompence the Lord. St. Euthymius began his new task
with great joy, and many people marveled at his success. St. Giorgi of
Mt. Athos recorded the life of St. Euthymius, and his account
mentions more than fifty works that he translated from the original
Greek into Georgian. After St. Johns death, Euthymius succeeded him
as abbot of the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos. (St. John had founded
the Iveron Monastery with St. John-Tornike.) His leadership of the
monastery brought with it many responsibilities, and Euthymius was
obliged to continue his translations at night. St. Euthymius performed
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many miracles. Once, while his father was still living, Byzantium was
struck by a terrible drought. The earth became cracked, trees and
vineyards withered, and all the vegetation dried up after four months
without rain. St. John sent Euthymius and his brothers to the Church
of the Prophet Elijah to celebrate an All-Night vigil. (During periods of
drought Orthodox Christians have traditionally turned to the Prophet
Elijah to bring rain as he did in the Old Testament.) During the Gospel
reading a dark cloud formed in the sky, and at the moment Euthymius
received Holy Communion it began to rain. Once, during the Feast of
the Transfiguration, the faithful of Mt. Athos saw Fr. Euthymius
embraced by divine fire. The crowd of witnesses fell on their knees
before him, but the saint calmed them, saying, Do not be afraid, my
brothers; God has looked down on us, and Christ has glorified His
feast! But the devil could not tolerate the godly labors of the
venerable Euthymius and his brothers at the monastery, so he
persuaded a certain beggar, who resembled a monk, to kill the holy
father. When the killer approached Fr. Euthymiuss cell, two monks
blocked his way. So the assassin slashed them with his sword. Upon
hearing the noise, Father Euthymius came outside and served Holy
Communion to his fallen brothers. The two monks were fatally
wounded and crowned as martyrs of the Church, while the killer
confessed his sin and died, greatly afflicted in spirit. Later a
monastery gardener attempted to murder St. Euthymius, but when he
lifted his hand to strike the saint, it withered suddenly, and only the
prayers of Fr. Euthymius could heal it. St. Euthymius labored as abbot
of the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos for fourteen years. His literary
endeavors demanded much time and great effort, so, according to his
fathers will, he appointed a certain George (later St. George of Mt.
Athos, the Builder) his successor. Then he locked himself in his cell
and dedicated himself exclusively to his translations. Once the
Byzantine

Emperor

Constantine

VIII

321

(1027-1039)

summoned

Fr.

Euthymius to his court. Before departing for Constantinople, the


venerable father gathered his brothers, prepared for them a meal, and
asked them for their prayers. Then, just before he left on his journey,
he visited his childhood friend, the elder Theophan. When they were
bidding each other farewell, Theophan embraced him tearfully, crying
out, What grief I am suffering, O holy Father, for I will not see you
again in the flesh! The elders prophecy was soon fulfilled. The
emperor received St. Euthymius with great honor. On May 8th,
following the Liturgy for the feast of St. John the Theologian, St.
Euthymius set off to visit a certain iconographer from whom he had
earlier commissioned an icon. He was seated on a young mule and
sent on his way. But along the road he was approached by a beggar,
clad all in black, who asked alms of him. The venerable father
reached into his pocket, but when the mule suddenly noticed the
strange man by the roadside, he was frightened, lurched violently, and
cast the holy father to the ground, killing him. All of Byzantium
mourned the death of St. Euthymius. His holy relics are buried in the
Church of St. John the Baptist at the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos.

TODAY IS MAY 14

Saint Isidore Wonderworker of Rostov


FEAST DAY

Saint Isidore Tverdislov is the Wonderworker of Rostov. St Isidore is


termed Tverdislov [Constant of Word] since that he spoke
322

constantly. The title Tverdislov seems unique to St Isidore. He was


born in Germany of rich parents. From his youth, he led an unsullied
life and had a compassionate understanding. Leaving his parental
home and desiring the Kingdom of God, St. Isidore distributed his
wealth to the poor. Taking up the staff of a wanderer, he visited many
lands and cities. It is not known where he accepted the holy Orthodox
Faith, but he was raised in Catholicism. Finally, he arrived in Russia
and decided to live in Rostov. Here St. Isidore, in filth and snow and
rain and cold and enduring every outrage, settled in a rickety
wooden hut that he himself had made. St. Isidore spent all his time at
unceasing prayer, not allowing himself much sleep or rest. He stood
at all night vigil and praise to dedicate his body everlastingly to
God. By day the blessed one made the rounds of the city. Like Job
of old in his patience, Blessed Isidore, while still alive, was an
earthly angel and a heavenly man, a compassionate soul, and pure
of thought, and vigilant heart and faith unassailed, and true love
without pretense. During his life he received the grace to work
miracles. St Isidore reposed in the year 1474. They learned of his
death only when passing by his hut they noticed a special fragrance.
At the place of his burial in the city of Rostov the church of the
Ascension of the Lord was built, in which his relics rest in a crypt as a
source of miracles to the present day.

323

TODAY IS MAY 15

Saint Achilles the Bishop of Larissa


FEAST DAY

Saint Achilles, Bishop of Larissa, lived during the fourth century,


during the reign of St. Constantine the Great. Glorified for his holiness
of life and erudition, he was made Bishop of Larissa in Thessaly. St.
Achilles participated in the First Ecumenical Council, convened by St.
Constantine, where he boldly denounced the heretic Arius [Arius was
a fourth-century Alexandrian presbyter who was formally condemned
as a heretic by the Orthodox Church. His heresy, referred to as
Arianism, consisted of his teaching that the Son of God was not coeternal and consubstantial with His Father, but was rather a created
being, subordinate to the Father]. In his city he strove to promote
Christianity, destroyed idolatrous pagan temples, and he built and
adorned churches. St. Achilles had the gift of healing sickness,
especially demonic possession, and he worked many miracles. The
saint died peacefully in about the year 330. His relics have been in
Prespa, Bulgaria (now the village of Akhila, renamed in honor of the
saint) since 978.

324

TODAY IS MAY 16

Saint Nicholas Mystikos, Patriarch of


Constantinople (930)
FEAST DAY

St. Nicholas Mystikos was known for the purity and austerity of his
life. When the Emperor Leo VI married a fourth time (his three
previous wives having died), the Patriarch barred him from the
church. The Emperor sent the Patriarch into exile and had his
marriage approved by delegates of the Roman Pope. When the
Emperor died, Nicholas was restored to the Patriarchal throne, and
called a Council in 925, at which fourth marriages were forbidded in
the Church under any circumstance. He died peacefully. The title
Mystikos was given to some high-ranking members of the Imperial
council (perhaps because they met in secret). The Patriarch was a
courtier with this title before he forsook the world and was tonsured a
monk. {Note: From early times, the Eastern and Latin churches have
differed in their views on marriage. The Latin church held, and still
holds, that marriage is dissolved by death, so in theory any number of
re-marriages is permissible (a view that the Emperor Leo sought to
exploit). The Eastern Church has traditionally been uncomfortable
with any second marriage some of the Fathers even call the remarriage of widows or widowers "bigamy". Still the Eastern Church
tolerates re-marriage (even after divorce) as a concession for the
salvation of those who cannot sustain the single state. }

325

TODAY IS MAY 17

Saint Dodo of the Gareji Monastery, Georgia


FEAST DAY

A companion of St. Davit of Gareji, St. Dodo belonged to the royal


family Andronikashvili. He was tonsured a monk while still an youth,
and was endowed with every virtue. An admirer of poverty and
solitude, he labored as a hermit at Ninotsminda in Kakheti. Having
heard about the miracles of Davit of Gareji, St. Dodo set off for the
Gareji Wilderness to witness them himself. The venerable fathers
greeted one another warmly and began laboring there together. After
some time, St. Davit became deeply impressed with Dodos devotion
to the Faith, and he proposed that he take with him some of the other
monks and begin to construct cells on the opposite mountain. The
brothers built cells and began to labor there with great ardor. Before
long the number of cells had reached two hundred. St. Dodo isolated
himself in a narrow crevice, where there was barely room for one
man. Day and night, winter and summer, in the heat and the cold, he
prayed with penitent tears for the forgiveness of his sins, the
strengthening of the souls of his brothers, and the bolstering of the
true Faith throughout the country. Once St. Dodo miraculously healed
the son of Prince Bubakar of Rustavi. In return, the grateful prince
donated food and other necessities to the monks of Gareji Monastery.
St. Davit took part of his contributions and sent what remained to St.
Dodo. He advised Bubakar to have St. Dodo baptize him, and St. Dodo
joyously baptized Bubakar, his sons, and all his suite. St. Dodo
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labored to an advanced age in the monastery he had founded and


reposed peacefully. His spiritual sons and companions buried him in
the cave where he had labored, and a church was later built over his
grave.

TODAY IS MAY 18

Saint Innocent of Alaska


FEAST DAY

Our father among the Saints Innocent of Alaska, Equal-to-the-Apostles


and Enlighten of North America (1797-1879), was a Russian Orthodox
Priests, Bishop, Archbishop and Metropolitan of Moscow and all
Russia. He is known for his missionary work, scholarship, and
leadership in Alaska and the Russian Far East during the 1800s. He is
known for his great zeal for his work as well as his great abilities as a
scholar, linguist, and administrator. He was a missionary, later a
bishop and archbishop in Alaska and the Russian Far East. While
visiting native villages, he would heal many of the people who were
sick. He was known for his simple lifestyle that endured him to the
native peoples. He learned several native languages and was the
author of many of the earliest scholarly works about the natives and
their languages, as well as dictionaries and religious works in these
languages. He also translated the Bible into several native languages.

327

TODAY IS MAY 19

New Hieromartyr Saint John Karastamatis of


Santa Cruz California
FEAST DAY

Fr. John Karastamatis was born in 1937 in the Greek village of


Apoika, on the island of Andros. As a boy on the island of Andros,
John witnessed many miracles with which God blessed the pious
villagers, and thus he was made aware of the closeness of God to the
lives of those who seek Him. The heavenly saints, especially the local
ones, also manifested their closeness and the power of their
intercessory prayer by appearing to and helping the people. John
nourished his young soul by learning of the lives of these saints and
martyrs, whose unquenchable desire to be faithful to Christ in the
face of deprivation, torment and physical death inspired him to also
be a servant of God. Although he did not attend any theological
school, he wanted to put his faith into practice by someday becoming
a priest. In 1957, at the age of twenty, John came to the United
States. Five years later he married a young Greek woman, Athanasia
Matsellis, and soon became the father of two children, Maria and
Photios. The cities of the United States were in sharp contrast to the
village of his birth, but his acute awareness of the nearness of God
and the other world, given him in childhood, never left him. He now
found himself in the midst of those who not only did not want to be
328

close to God, but who actively fled from Him. Still he hoped in God,
knowing that the freedom of Christ can be found even in the most
stifling and evil surroundings. With the support and encouragement of
Fr. George Bogdanos, a Greek priest who recognized in him the
integrity and zeal of a true pastor, Fr. John was ordained to the
deaconate in 1971 with the blessing of Archbishop lakovos, who
supported him in this. Since both his love for the Church and the love
of the churchgoers for him was so apparent, he was made a priest
only a few weeks later by Bishop Meletios Christianopolis of San
Francisco.

He

first

served

the

Greek

Orthodox

community

in

Anchorage, Alaska, the land of newly-canonized St. Herman, who


became thus his guardian angel for the rest of his life. He was later
assigned to the St. George parish in Vancouver, Canada, and then to
All Saints parish in Anaheim, Pennsylvania. He then moved to Santa
Cruz, California, which had been named by the Spanish missionaries
after the Holy Cross of the Lord. There he labored with enthusiasm to
provide a haven of Orthodox Christianity for the faithful in the area,
who had long been without a nearby church. Because the community
in Santa Cruz was too small to immediately acquire its own Orthodox
church, Fr. John began to serve the Divine Liturgy in the nearby town
of Aptos, in the chapel of a Poor Clare convent. The nuns would have
their services very early on Sunday morning, leaving the church free
for Fr. John and his parishioners to use afterwards. The parishioners
were at first hesitant: they would come to Liturgy late, and would all
sit at the very back of the chapel, as if they were spectators and not
participants. Fr. John knew that he had much work to do. He was
sometimes disappointed at the lack of active interest among his
flock. His was a burning faith, and lukewarmness had always been
foreign to his soul. His task, he knew, was to ignite this fire within
each of his parishioners, so that they themselves would struggle for
the kingdom of heaven, the one thing needful, and not sit in the
329

background and expect their priest to do their work for them. He


could not demand too much at once, but had to be a gentle and loving
pastor, condescending to the weaknesses of his flock so as not to
overwhelm them and cause them to abandon the Orthodox faith
altogether. The gap between shepherd and sheep had to be bridged
gradually and carefully, and Fr. John had to spark the kinder in the
hearts of his flock without scorching them with the consuming fire
within him.

Sometimes Fr. John would speak forceful words of rebuke to awaken


his people from their spiritual sleep, but mostly he would inspire them
by his quiet and unobtrusive example. They began to see how hard he
struggled and were moved to help him fulfill his godly dreams. His
fervency and zeal, his unequivocal belief in the other world, was
something that they did not fully understand, and yet that they
inwardly -- and in some cases unconsciously -- longed for. Having
come to love him deeply, they were grateful that God had sent a
harvester to their field. By giving his parishioners new aspirations, Fr.
John instilled in them the desire to start their own church. They
collected and saved money and eventually found the perfect building
for their church: a former funeral home in Santa Cruz, across from the
public library and in the best park of town for missionary activity. Fr.
John did much of the interior work himself, fashioning a beautiful
white iconostasis and a large domed apse behind and above the altar.
When completed, the newly-consecrated church became a refuge
from the noisy bustle of the world, an island of holiness in the middle
of downtown Santa Cruz. The church was dedicated to the Prophet
Elias.

With

their

new

and

beautiful

church,

the

parishioners,

comprised of over 75 families, now had a sense of accomplishment.


330

They felt that they had come a long way from the days when they had
little choice but to use a chapel which was outside of town. Now they
could branch out into other activities. Fr. John by no means wanted
his Orthodox community to be a closed one, and he rejoiced to
discover any fervent young souls which came to him in search of the
fullness of Christianity. Santa Cruz has been a gathering place not
only of the darker and meaner elements of society, but also of
idealistic young people who have desired something more meaningful
than the American values of materialism and competition. By the time
Fr. John started his church in Santa Cruz, a small but significant
"Orthodox Christian movement" had already begun at the university
there. This was primarily the result of the missionary work of
Hieromonk Anastassy. Through him, many Santa Cruz university
students embraced the Orthodox faith and dedicated their lives to
serving Christ. In 1981, Fr. Seraphim Rose, at the request of the
Orthodox students there, gave two lectures at the university and
further inspired young souls to enter what he called "the saving
enclosure of the Church." The fellowship of Orthodox students turned
also to Fr. John and his church in order to receive spiritual
nourishment and to participate in the divine services, which lifted
them above the worldliness of university life. Fr. John always greeted
them with a radiant smile and warm love, seeing in their young faces
the freshness and enthusiasm that would keep Orthodoxy alive for
future generations. After these students graduated, Fr. John brought
other young people to the Orthodox faith, giving them all that they
needed for their growth in the faith and being to them a loving father
who was concerned for their spiritual welfare. Since the Prophet Elias
Church was in the middle of town, people would often come from off
the streets to ask questions and attend the services. Fr. John kept an
"open-door policy," making himself and his church available to anyone
with a pastoral need. The people of Santa Cruz came to know him as
331

being kind, trusting, full of love and open. He had great compassion
for the poor, and was helpful to all who came to him, disregarding
their religion or whether or not they were taking advantage of him. It
was not uncommon for him to be awakened at odd hours of the night
by needy people knocking at his back door. No one would be refused,
but would always be given alms for a meal. In the most outcast and
downtrodden of individuals, and perhaps especially in them, Fr. John
saw the image of Christ. With deep-felt Christian love, he once wrote
these words about the simple people who, although rejected by the
world, are faithful to Christ and follow the voice of their hearts: "We
see them lonely within the crowd, or following the life of a hermit as
they become symbols of truth and beacon lights of Christianity,
praying for peace and brotherly love on earth." Orthodox Christianity
was not just something "for Greeks," but rather was universal. His
love for God induced him to earnestly desire to bring forth fruits for
Him, as a son strives to please his father, and this made him a
zealous missionary to all peoples. He had services in public parks,
where the townspeople would stop to attend something, which,
although foreign to them, they found to be divinely beautiful. Hearing
Fr. John, with his full and resonant voice, chanting the ancient
Byzantine melodies along with his cantor, would unexpectedly catch
a vague and half-remembered glimpse of that sacred realm which
their souls knew but their minds had never been exposed to. In such a
way was Fr. John able to introduce the riches of Orthodoxy to the
spiritually impoverished American people. While Fr. John's fervent
pastoral work served to convert many non-Greek people, his first job
was, of course, to "convert" many of his own people -those who
were baptized Orthodox but whose commitment to Christ meant, at
most, only an external commitment to church attendance and
activities. By his own faith he demonstrated to them that Orthodoxy
is not merely a ritual, a system of dogmas or a behavior pattern, but is
332

instead a transforming power, which is tapped by conscious spiritual


struggle. The good works of Fr. John were too numerous and his
outreach too extensive not to evoke malicious actions from the
haters of God. The visibility of Fr. John and his church in the middle of
Santa Cruz made them more accessible not only to those in need of
help, but also to those who wished to destroy all that is holy. A few
months before Fr. John's death, the church was desecrated by
unknown occultists, who painted "666" and the five-pointed satanic
star on the front entrance. When the desecration was discovered, Fr.
John reconsecrated the church. Later he received anonymous
threats, but was undaunted by them. It was through Fr. John that the
Most Holy Mother of God bestowed a miraculous blessing on the
Prophet Elias Church. This occurred after Fr. John brought some
bulbs of the "lily of the Panagia" back from his native island of
Andros, where he visited with his family. The lily of the "Panagia" (or
the "Most Holy") is so named because of the tradition, often depicted
in icons, concerning the Archangel Gabriel presenting the Mother of
God with this species of lily at the time of the Annunciation. In the
monastery on Andros which Fr. John visited, stems from these lilies,
being many years old, sometimes bud miraculously at the time of the
Feast of the Dormition. Fr. John instructed his son Photios to plant
the lily bulbs in pots and to water them only with holy water, which
Photios did. After the lilies had grown from the bulbs in May of 1983,
Fr. John cut one of the flowers and placed it by the icon of the Mother
of God, which leaned against the iconostasis of his church. The
flower did not wilt for four weeks, although it had been cut and
removed from both water and earth. When it finally dropped its petals
(the first one having fallen on a radiant day when one of Fr. John's
converts from the university was baptized), Fr. John told his wife not
to vacuum up any of them, but to save them and place them by the
icon where the flower stem was still leaning. Ad then, within three
333

weeks, some fresh sprouts appeared on the stem! The stem


continued to produce new stems for many months, until the winter of
1983-4. Fr. John interpreted the miracle as an image of life coming
out of death through the Resurrection. On the night of Saturday, May
18, 1985, the eve of Righteous Job the Much-suffering, Fr. John was in
the church building preparing a sermon for the following morning. His
wife was at that time in Los Angeles visiting her daughter, who had
just given birth to her first child. Shortly before midnight, one or more
assailants entered the church. Evidently they had been watching Fr.
John, for they came at a time when he was alone, when both his wife
and 17 year-old son were gone. They attacked Fr. John in his church
office, stabbing him with a knife. During the struggle Fr. John was
severely beaten, and then was finally killed by a heavy blow on his
head. His son, who had dined with him earlier that evening, arrived at
1:30 a.m. at the church where the family lived. Outside the office he
discovered the body of his murdered father, and on the walls -- the
blood of a martyr. This time the church was not desecrated. In their
investigation, the police reported no signs of vandalism or theft, nor
were they able to locate any possible suspects. In the absence of a
more plausible reason for the crime, it is most likely that the killing,
like the church desecration a few months prior to it, was done at the
hands of those who hated Fr. John for his holy work, of those who are
the enemies of God and rebel against Him because they serve the
first rebel, Satan. But whether Fr. John was killed for overtly satanic
purposes or for other, irrational reasons, he had without doubt a
martyric death, giving his life for Christ and dying in the very church
in which he had diligently served Him. His face and fingers were so
mutilated that the coffin had to be closed during the funeral services.
"His life inspired and enlightened and cheered us!" wrote one of his
spiritual children. "His death has served to confirm in a most direct

334

way the realities of not only our Orthodox faith, but of the bizarre and
truly anti-Christian ways of our times."

TODAY IS MAY 20

Blessed Saint Dovmont the Prince of Pskov


FEAST DAY

The Holy Prince Dovmont (Domant) of Pskov, prince of Nalshinaisk


(Nalshensk), was a native of Lithuania, and at first he was a pagan. In
1265, escaping from internecine strife among the Lithuanian princes,
he was forced to flee Lithuania and he arrived in Pskov with 300
families. The land of Pskov became his second country. Here, in the
expression of the Chronicler, the grace of God was breathed upon
him, when he accepted Holy Baptism with the name Timothy and
received the great gifts of the Lord. Within a years time, the people of
Pskov chose him as their prince for his bravery and his true Christian
virtues. For thirty-three years he ruled the city and was the only
prince in the history of Pskov who died after living for so long in
peace and in harmony with the Pskov veche (city-council). He was
just and strict in pursuing justice for others, he gave alms generously,
took in the poor and strangers, he observed the church feasts, he was
a patron of the churches and monasteries and he founded a
monastery in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. After
335

his marriage to the daughter of Great Prince Demetrius, the grandson


of St. Alexander Nevsky, he became related to the Russian princely
line. Prince Dovmont, like St. Alexander Nevsky, was a glorious
defender of the Russian Land. The prime importance of Prince
Dovmont as a military leader and activist for the realm is that for
many years he defended the northwest boundaries of the Russian
realm from hostile incursions. In 1268, Prince Dovmont was one of the
heroes of the historic battle before Rakovor, where Russian forces
won the victory over the Danish and German armies. Before each
battle, St. Dovmont went into church, set down his sword at the steps
of the holy altar and received a blessing from the priest, who girded
on his sword for him. St. Dovmont made the Pskov fortress
impregnable. In memory of the glorious defender of the city, a stone
wall, built by the holy prince beside the Krom at the end of the
thirteenth century, was named the Dovmontov, and the territory
enclosed by the wall, to the present day is called Dovmontov town.
The saintly defenders House of the Holy Trinity was another pious
matter. In gratitude to the Lord in Whose Name he had gained victory
unharmed, holy Prince Dovmont built a church beside the Pskov
Kremlin in honor of the feastday on which he won the victory. Other
inhabitants of Pskov also built churches there in fulfillment of vows.
The territory of present day Dovmontov town was completely covered
with churches (the first temple in honor of St Dovmont-Timothy was
built in Dovmontov town in 1574). The brave warrior-prince won his
final victory on March 5, 1299 on the banks of the River Velika, where
he defeated a large German army with a small company. Meanwhile,
the Livonian Knights unexpectedly invaded the suburbs of Pskov, they
seized the Snetnogor and Mirozh monasteries and burned them,
cruelly murdering the inhabitants. They killed the founder of the
Snetnogor monastery, St. Joasaph, and seventeen monks, and also St.
Basil, igumen of Murozh. Holy Prince Dovmont, not waiting to raise a
336

large army, went to engage the enemy with his retainers and he
expelled the sacrilegious defilers from the boundaries of the Russian
Land. Several months later, holy Prince Dovmont-Timothy died and
was buried in the Trinity cathedral of Pskov. The Chronicler relates
that there was then great sadness in Pleskov for the men and woman
and small children on account of their good lord, the noble Prince
Timothy. The people of Pskov remembered how the holy prince had
cared for them during peaceful times, and when the city was
threatened by danger, how he led them into battle saying, Good men
of Pskov! Whoever is old among you is my father; whoever is young is
my brother. Stand fast for the Holy Trinity! Soon after the Princes
death he began to be venerated as a holy intercessor before God,
guarding the land from enemies and misfortune. The holy Saint
defended Pskov more than once after his death. In the year 1480,
when more than a hundred thousand Germans besieged the city, he
appeared in a dream to a certain citizen and said, Take my grave
cover, carry it three times around the city with a cross, and do not be
afraid. The people of Pskov fulfilled his instructions and the Germans
departed from the city. A service to the holy prince was composed
after this miraculous deliverance from enemies. Along with the relics
of the saint, his battle sword was preserved (now the sword is in a
Pskov museum). Thereafter, the sword was handed to the Pskov
princes upon their elevation to the princely throne. Holy Prince
Dovmont-Timothy and his wife, the future Schemanun Martha, were
depicted upon the wonderworking Murozh Icon of the Mother of God:
You have bestown a blessing on the all-pure image of Your icon, O
Mother of God, by portraying the likeness of our steadfast intercessor
Prince Dovmont and his pious spouse (Service to the holy Prince
Dovmont-Timothy). When the Mother of God appeared to the Elder
Dorotheus during a siege of Pskov by the Poles on August 27, 1581,
holy Saint Dovmont-Timothy was among the saints accompanying the
337

heavenly Protectress of Pskov. The relics of holy Prince DovmontTimothy rest in the Pskov cathedral of the Life-Creating Trinity. The
holy Prince Saint Dovmont aided Russian armies more than once in
defense of the countrys western borders. Then came the hour when
they were sent by the Leader of the Heavenly Hosts to rise up in
defense of the eastern frontiers. In the year 1640, the great national
movement to the east, the meeting of the sun, resulted in the
Russian explorers arriving at the mouth of the Amur River and the
Pacific Ocean. Rus bordered pagan China on these frontiers. The
bulwark of Orthodoxy became the Russian fortress of Albazin, famous
for the wonderworking Albazin Icon of the Mother of God and the
heroic defense of Albazin (1685-1686). In the summer of 1679,
during the Apostles Fast, Gabriel Florov and a company of cossacks
set out from Albazin to explore the Zea River valley. For three years
the cossacks did patrol duty on the Zea, making the rounds of the
surrounding settlements. They brought the Tungus settlers under
Russian rule, and they established winter quarters and a stockade.
Once, cossack riders encountered a man on a white horse, clad in
armor and armed with bows and swords. This was Saint Dovmont.
Speaking with the cossacks and learning that they were from Albazin,
the holy warrior-princes predicted the approach of Chinese armies
upon the Amur soon afterwards. He said the battle would be difficult,
but predicted the ultimate triumph of Russian arms. The Chinese will
come again, and enter into a great battle, and we shall aid the
Russian people in these struggles. The Chinese will not trouble the
city. Several times during 1684-1686 the Chinese horde advanced
towards Albazin, but did not take the city. By the miraculous help of
the Albazin Icon of the Mother of God and the holy Prince Saint
Dovmont of Pskov, the enemy was rendered powerless against the
Orthodox fortress. The Account of the Miracles of Holy Prince Saint
Dovmont was written by Gabriel Florov at Yakutsk on October 23,
338

1689. The fealty of these saints has not ceased. New generations
arise to change the face of the earth, but the Russian warrior Saint
Dovmont stand steadfast in sacred patrol of his country.

TODAY IS MAY 21

Saint Helen, Mother of the Emperor Constantine


FEAST DAY

Saint Helen was the mother of St Contantine the Great, and was
probably born at Drepanum (Helenopolis) in Asia Minor to parents of
humble means. She married Constantius Chlorus, and their son
Constantine was born in 274. Constantius divorced her in 294 in order
to further his political ambition by marrying a woman of noble rank.
After he became emperor, Constantine showed his mother great
honor and respect, granting her the imperial title Augusta. After
Constantine became the sole ruler of the Western Roman Empire, he
issued the Edict of Milan in 313 which guaranteed religious tolerance
for Christians. St. Helen, who was a Christian, may have influenced
him in this decision. In 323, when he became the sole ruler of the
entire Roman Empire, he extended the provisions of the Edict of Milan
to the Eastern half of the Empire. After three hundred years of
persecution, Christians could finally practice their faith without fear.
The emperor deeply revered the victory-bearing Sign of the Cross of
the Lord, and also wanted to find the actual Cross upon which our
Lord Jesus Christ was crucified. For this purpose he sent his own
339

mother, the holy Empress Helen, to Jerusalem, granting her both


power and money. Patriarch Macarius of Jerusalem and St. Helen
began the search, and through the will of God, the Life-Creating Cross
was miraculously discovered in 326. While in Palestine, the holy
empress did much of benefit for the Church. She ordered that all
places connected with the earthly life of the Lord and His All-Pure
Mother,

should

be

freed

of

all

traces

of

paganism, and

she

commanded that churches should be built at these places. The


emperor Constantine ordered a magnificent church in honor of
Christs Resurrection to be built over His tomb. S.t Helen gave the
Life-Creating Cross to the Patriarch for safe-keeping, and took part of
the Cross with her for the emperor. After distributing generous alms
at Jerusalem and feeding the needy (at times she even served them
herself), the holy Empress Helen returned to Constantinople, where
she died in the year 327. Because of her great services to the Church
and her efforts in finding the Life-Creating Cross, the empress Saint
Helen is called the Equal of the Apostles.

TODAY IS MAY 22

Saint Jovan Vladimir


FEAST DAY

Saint Jovan Vladimir (Serbian Cyrillic: ) was the ruler


of Duklja, the most powerful Serbian principality of the time, from
around 1000 to 1016. He ruled during the protracted war between the
340

Byzantine Empire and the First Bulgarian Empire. Vladimir was


acknowledged as a pious, just, and peaceful ruler. He is recognized as
a martyr and saint, with his feast day being celebrated on 22 May.
Jovan Vladimir had a close relationship with Byzantium but this did
not save Duklja from the expansionist Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria, who
conquered the principality in around 1010 and took Vladimir prisoner.
A medieval chronicle asserts that Samuel's daughter, Theodora
Kosara, fell in love with Vladimir and begged her father for his hand.
The tsar allowed the marriage and returned Duklja to Vladimir, who
ruled as his vassal. Vladimir took no part in his father-in-law's war
efforts. The warfare culminated with Tsar Samuel's defeat by the
Byzantines in 1014 and death soon after. In 1016, Vladimir fell victim
to a plot by Ivan Vladislav, the last ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire.
He was beheaded in front of a church in Prespa, the empire's capital,
and was buried there. He was soon recognized as a martyr and saint.
His widow, Kosara, reburied him in the Preista Krajinska Church,
near his court in southeastern Duklja. In 1381, his remains were
preserved in the Church of St. Jovan Vladimir near Elbasan, and since
1995 they have been kept in the Orthodox cathedral of Tirana,
Albania. The saint's remains are considered Christian relics, and
attract many believers, especially on his feast day, when the relics
are taken to the church near Elbasan for a celebration. The cross
Vladimir held when he was beheaded is also regarded as a relic.
Traditionally under the care of the Androvi family from the village of
Velji Mikulii in southeastern Montenegro, the cross is only shown to
believers on the Feast of Pentecost, when it is carried in a procession
to the summit of Mount Rumija. Jovan Vladimir is regarded as the first
Serbian saint and the patron saint of the town of Bar in Montenegro.
His

earliest,

lost

hagiography

was

probably

written

sometime

between 1075 and 1089; a shortened version, written in Latin, is


preserved in the Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja. His hagiographies in
341

Greek and Church Slavonic were first published, respectively, in 1690


and 1802. The saint is classically depicted in icons as a monarch
wearing a crown and regal clothes, with a cross in his right hand and
his own head in his left hand. He is fabled to have carried his severed
head to his place of burial.

The Cross of Vladimir, held by Milan Androvi during the Pentecost


liturgy at the summit of Mount Rumija (2009)

TODAY IS MAY 23

Saint Damiane the King and Hymnographer


FEAST DAY

Saint Damiane (in the world King Demetre I) was the son of Holy King
Davit I the Restorer. King Davit I proclaimed his son Saint Damiane
co-ruler of Georgia and crowned him with his own hands. He declared
that his son Demetre, through his wisdom, chastity, bravery, and
handsome appearance, would rule Georgia better than he himself had.
Demetre acquired great glory while his father was still alive. In 1117
Davit I sent him to Shirvan to fight, and the young commander
astonished the people with his deftness in battle. St. Demetre seized
342

Kaladzori Castle and returned home with many captives and much
wealth. King Demetre struggled tirelessly to protect the inheritance
he had received from his father: he guarded Georgias borders and
fought to enlarge its frontiers. Many regions, including Hereti,
Somkhiti, Tashiri, Javakheti, Artaani and the Tao border, were
repopulated during King Demetres rule. These regions had been
largely deserted after King Davit I joined Tbilisi to the region of HeretKakheti. King Demetre was never shaken by the evil intrigues plotted
against

him. First

his

noblemen

revolted,

demanding that

his

stepbrother, Vakhtang (Tsuata), replace him as king. (Ioane of Abuleti


was the leader of this conspiracy.) Then Saint Demetres own son
Davit II rebelled against him. Deeply disturbed by the behavior of his
first-born son, the pious king could no longer bear the vanity of the
worldhe was tonsured a monk in the Davit-Gareji Wilderness and
given the new name Damiane. He abdicated to his son, but Davit II
ruled just six months before he reposed. While laboring at Davit-Gareji
Monastery, Damiane composed many great hymns for the Church. His
hymn to the Theotokos, Thou Art the Vineyard, is outstanding
among these works. In order to protect the interests of the Georgian
kingdom after his sons death, Damiane was obliged to leave the
monastery. He returned to the throne and intervened in the affairs of
the government. At the same time he named another of his sons,
George, co-ruler. King Damiane-Demetre completed construction of
Gelati Monastery, which had been started by his father, Holy King
Davit I the Restorer. St. Damiane reposed in 1157; he was buried at
Gelati Monastery. A 12th-century image of St. Damiane-Demetre was
among the frescoes at the Davit-Gareji Monastery. In the 19th century
the Russian traveler Andrew Muraviev reported seeing the fresco
intact, but today only a narrow upper band of the image remains. A
fresco of the pious king and monk St. Demetre has been preserved in
the church at Matskhvarishi (now Latali) in the Svaneti region.
343

TODAY IS MAY 24

Venerable Saint Nikita the Stylite


Wonderworker of Pereyaslavl, Zalesski
FEAST DAY

Our Holy Father St. Nikita Stylites was born in 1186. As a youth, he
was heedless and corrupt; but one day he entered a church and heard
the words of Isaiah, 'Wash you, make you clean' (Is. 1:16). His life
changed completely: he left his family and property to enter a
monastery near Pereyaslavl, where he took on a life of severe
asceticism. He wore chains and in the words of the Prologue, 'shut
himself up in a pillar,' for which he was called the Stylite. He was
granted the gift of healing and by his prayers restored many who
came to him, including Michael, Prince of Chernigov, whom he healed
of palsy. Some thieves, seeing his chains and thinking that they were
made of silver, killed him one night and made off with the chains.
Soon afterward, Saint Nikita appeared to an elder named Simeon and
told him to put the chains with him in his grave when they were
found.

TODAY IS MAY 25

Saint Therapon the Bishop of Cyprus


FEAST DAY

344

The Hieromartyr Therapon, Bishop of Cyprus, lived a life of asceticism


in a monastery, and afterwards he served as a bishop on the island of
Cyprus. At the time of the persecution under Diocletian (284-305), St
Therapon bravely confessed the name of Christ and died a martyric
death. The relics of the hieromartyr were at first located on Cyprus
and were glorified by numerous miracles. Later, in the year 806, they
were transferred to Constantinople. The relics were moved because
of a danger of invasion by the Saracens. As the ship sailed to
Constantinople, myrrh began to flow from the relics, and travellers on
the ship were miraculously saved during a storm by their prayers to St
Therapon.

Upon

arrival

at

Constantinople,

the

relics

of

the

hieromartyr were placed in a temple built in honor of the Icon of the


Mother of God of Eleousa or the Merciful. In the year 806 the relics
were again transferred into a temple built in honor of the Hieromartyr
Therapon. As they were moved, myrrh flowed from them, and miracles
took place. Through the prayers of St. Therapon, those who are
seriously ill are healed, and the dying restored to life.

TODAY IS MAY 26

Greatmartyr Saint George the New at


Sofia, Bulgaria
FEAST DAY

345

The Holy Martyr Saint George the New was born into an illustrious
Bulgarian family, living in the capital city of Bulgaria, Sredets (now
the city of Sofia). St. Georges childless parents, John and Mary, in
their declining years entreated the Lord to send them a child. Their
prayer was answered, and they baptized the infant with the name of
the holy Great Martyr George. Young George received a fine
upbringing, he attentively studied the Holy Scriptures, and he was
pious and chaste. His parents died when George was twenty-five. At
that time Bulgaria found itself under the rule of the Turks, who
forcibly converted Christians to Islam. Once, several Moslems tried to
convert George. They put a fez on the saints head. This is a red
circular hat which Moslems wear to enter their house of prayer. But
George threw the fez on the ground. The Turks brought the martyr to
their governor with beatings and abuse. The governor was impressed
with St Georges appearance and bearing, and he urged him to accept
Islam, promising honors and wealth from Sultan Selim (1512-1520).
The saint boldly and steadfastly confessed his faith in the Lord Jesus
Christ, and reproached the errors of Islam. The governor in a rage
gave orders to beat St George with rods, but the saint persevered in
his confession of faith in Christ. The governor ordered the tortures to
be increased. The passion-bearer bore all his sufferings, calling on the
Lord Jesus Christ for help. Then they led the martyr through the city
to the beat of a drum and shouts: Do not insult Mohammed nor abase
the Moslem faith. Finally, a large fire was lit in the city, to burn St.
George. Weakened by his wounds, the saint fell to the ground. They
threw him into the fire still alive, and they threw corpses of dogs on
346

top of him so that Christians would not be able to find the relics of the
martyr. Suddenly, a heavy rain fell and extinguished the fire. With the
onset of darkness, the place where the body of the martyr was thrown
was illumined with a bright light. They gave permission to a certain
Christian priest to take the venerable relics of the martyr for burial.
Informed about the occurrence, Metropolitan Jeremiah and his clergy
went to the place of execution. In the ashes of the fire they located
the body of the holy Martyr George and carried it to the church of St
George the Great Martyr in the city of Sredets.

TODAY IS MAY 27

Venerable Saint Michael of Parekhi


FEAST DAY

Saint Michael of Parekhi was a native of the village of Norgiali in the


Shavsheti region of southern Georgia. He was tonsured a monk in the
Midznadzori

Wilderness.

Fr.

Michael

journeyed

to

Khandzta

Monastery, and with the blessing of the brotherhood, he built a small


chapel and dwelling for the monks nearby. Built in a cave on the side
of a cliff, St. Michaels establishment was difficult to reach (the new
monastery was called Parekhi, or Cave). God was pleased with his
good works, and He granted St. Michael the gift of working wonders
and miricles. In a divine revelation, St. Michael was instructed to
send his disciples Serapion and John to the region of Samtskhe.
347

There they established a beautiful monastery in the village of Zarzma.


After some time Father Michael abandoned his cell and settled at the
top of a large boulder. After 2 days, the devil caused him to stumble
off the rock, but the Lord protected him and he remained unharmed.
Frightened by the incident, Michael sent his disciples to bring St.
Gregory of Khandzta, and he related to him all that had happened. The
blessed Gregory assuaged his brothers fears, erected a cross on
either side of Michaels cell, and told him, These two crosses of
Christ will protect you, and the mercy of the Most Holy Trinity and the
Precious Cross will be upon you. St. Michael lived to an old age, and
he was buried at Parekhi Monastery. Many faithful pilgrims who have
visited his grave have been healed of their infirmities. According to
Basil of Zarzma, St. Michaels disciples wrote accounts of his labors,
wisdom, and miracles after his repose, but these works have
unfortunately not been preserved. What we know about the life of St.
Michael of Parekhi was preserved in the hagiographical writings of
the 10th and 11th centuries.

TODAY IS MAY 28

Saint Demetrios of Tripoli


FEAST DAY

Descended from the Peloponnese and was raised by devout parents.


Forcibly converted by the Turks, together with other young people,
probably after the Suppression of the revolt in the Peloponnese in
348

1769. This child was named Demetrios and when forcibly converted
was re-named Moystafas. By the nature of the intelligent and active,
Mustapha became prominent among Turks of Peloponnese and got
the rank of Prefect (improchwraga), and acquired much wealth and
slaves. But from the beginning wanted to return to the faith of his
fathers, so dazzled by the wealth of the Scriptures and values. So the
decision to go back to Christianity was made and he went to a
spiritual leader in Tripoli, where he confessed. He took his advice and
lived secretly as a Christian. But his life of a Christian scandalized
Muslims and they denounce him to the Pasha of Tripoli. When he
arrested in Mystras, he led to the Pasha of Tripoli and confessed that
he is ready to pour his blood for the love of Jesus Christ. Despite the
advice and promises of Pasha, the witness remained true to his faith.
After a certain period of time in prison, he was eventually decapitated
on 28 May 1794, Whit Sunday, in Tripoli. The relic of the Saint
received the Christians and buried in the Temple of the Holy great
martyr Demetrios in Tripoli. Saint Makarios of Corinth wrote the
history of Martyrdom of Demetrios.

349

TODAY IS MAY 29

Saint Theodosia
Virginmartyr of Constantinople
FEAST DAY

St. Theodosia of Constantinople lived during the eighth century and


was born in answer to the fervent prayers of her parents. After their
deaths, she was raised at the womens monastery of the Holy Martyr
Anastasia in Constantinople. After distributing what remained of her
parental inheritance to the poor, she became a nun. She also used
part of the money to commission gold and silver icons of the Savior,
the Theotokos, and St. Anastasia. When Leo the Isaurian ascended
the throne, he issued an edict that holy icons be destroyed
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 that the icon be
destroyed. The Virgin Martyr Theodosia and other women rushed to
protect the icon.

While an officer was executing the order,

Theodosia, shook the ladder strongly until the officer fell from it. The
man died from his injuries, and Theodosia was arrested. The women
then stoned Patriarch Anastasius. Emperor Leo ordered the women to
be beheaded. St. Theodosia, an ardent defender of icons, was thrown
in prison. She was given one hundred lashes a day for over one week.
On the eighth day, she was led naked through the city, being beaten
350

along the way. Ultimately, one of the soldiers stabbed her in the
throat with a rams horn, and she received the crown of martyrdom.
The body of the holy virgin martyr was reverently buried by Christians
in the St. Euphemia Monastery in Constantinople, near a place called
Dexiokratis. The tomb of St. Theodosia was glorified by numerous
healings of the sick. Theodosia became one among the most
venerated saints in Constantinople, being invoked particularly by the
infirm. The fame of the saint was increased by the recovery of a deafmute in 1306.

TODAY IS MAY 30

Saint Emilia the Mother of Saints.


FEAST DAY

The holy and righteous Emilia (also Emily or Emmelia), is the mother
of St. Basil the Great and several other children who are saints of the
Church. Churches of the Russian tradition keep her feast on January
3, along with her son Basil. Greek churches keep her feast on May 30,
along with her husband, St. Basil the Elder, and her mother-in-law, St.
Macrina the Elder. There are very few descriptions of St. Emilias life.
She was the daughter of a martyr and the daughter-in-law of Macrina
the Elder. Along with her husband, Basil the Elder, she gave birth to
ten children. She instilled the Orthodox faith in her children, teaching
them to pray and devote their lives to the service of the Church. As a
351

result of her zealous yet maternal instruction of her children, five of


them are commemorated as saints on the Church calendar: Sts.
Macrina, Basil, Peter of Sebaste, Gregory of Nyssa, and Theosebia, a
deaconess. Therefore, St. Emilia is often called the mother of
saints. When her son, Naucratius, suddenly died at the age of twentyseven, she was consoled by her eldest daughter, Macrina. Macrina
reminded her that it was not befitting a Christian to mourn as those
who have no hope and inspired her to hope courageously in the
resurrection promised to us by the Pascha of the Lord. After her
children left home, St. Emilia was persuaded by Macrina to forsake
the world. Together they founded a monastery for women. Emilia
divided the family property among her children. Retaining only some
meager possessions, she and Macrina withdrew to a secluded family
property in Pontus, picturesquely located on the banks of the Iris
River and not far from St. Basils wilderness home. A number of
liberated female slaves wished to join the pair, and a convent was
formed. They lived under one roof and held everything in common:
They ate, worked, and prayed together. They were so eager to
advance in virtue that they regarded fasting as food and poverty as
riches. The harmony of this model community of women was
unspoiled by anger, jealousy, hatred, or pride. Indeed, as the Church
sings of monastics, they lived like angels in the flesh. Living in this
manner for many years, Emilia reached old age. When an illness
signaled her departure from this world, her son St. Peter came to her
side. Together with Macrina, he tended to his mother in her last days.
As the oldest and the youngest, Macrina and Peter held a special
place in Emilias heart. Before committing her soul to the Lord, she
raised her voice to Heaven, saying, To you, O Lord, I give the first
fruits and the tithe of the fruit of my womb. The first fruit is my firstborn daughter, and the tithe is this, my youngest son. Let these be for
you a rightly acceptable sacrifice, and let your holiness descend upon
352

them! St. Emilia was buried as she had requested, beside her
husband in the chapel at their estate in Annesi, where Naucratius had
also been laid.

TODAY IS MAY 31

Hieromartyr Saint Nikolaevich Ornatskij


FEAST DAY

Hieromartyr Saint Nikolaevich Ornatskij was born on June 2 1860 and


was martyred on October 30 1918 at 58 years old. He was Glorified in
August, 2000. His Father, Nikolai P. Ornatskij, was a priest at the
Church of the Epiphany in Novorgovskoj 1, St. Petrinvskoj parish of
the County of Cherepovets. His wife Helen, ne Zaozerska, was the
daughter of the former sub-deacon of Metropolitan Isidore. Saint
Nikolaevich graduated from the Kirillovskoy spiritual school, the St.
Petersburg Theological Seminary (1881), the St. Petersburg spiritual
Academy with a degree in theology (1885). From 28 July 1885, he was
the priest of the church of the Prince Oldenburg orphanage in St.
Petersburg. In 1892, he became the rector of the Church of St.
Andrew of Crete in St. Petersburg. From 1895 onwards he held weekly
talks at the belilnoj factory for workers.

He also organized the

Christian Commonwealth School Youth Association. He was the editor


of the Petersburgs spiritual magazines such as "St. Petersburg
Spiritual journal", "Leisure" and "Christian Orthodox-Russian Word."
He wrote a book titled "my life in Christ in 1905. From 1913 onwards,
353

he was the Rector of the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg. During


the First World War gave his apartment to be used as an infirmary for
wounded warriors, and he and his family moved to a small room
kaznnoe. During the fighting, he repeatedly traveled, accompanying
transporting soldiers with necessary food and products. In 1917, led
by Bishop Veniamin, Saint Nikolaevich was one of the founders of the
Union of ecclesiastical Unity. He opposed the abolition of the
teaching of the law of God in schools. In January 1918 he participated
in the funeral service for Archpriest Petr Skipetrova who died at the
hands of the Bolsheviks. Metropolitan Veniamin forbade him to talk
over the coffin or give a speech, calling for "crying and praying" only
in an effort to gain favor with the Bolsheviks. Saint Nikolaevich
organized the protection of the relics of Alexander Nevsky Lavra,
which the Bolsheviks had intended to "requisition" in an effort to take
all the Churchs processions in the capital. Hieromartyr Saint
Nikolaevich was an outspoken opponent of the Bolsheviks. Saint
Nikolaevich was arrested in August 1918. Along with him were
arrested sons Nicholas (1886 1918, a doctor) and Boris (1887 1918,
a Captain of artillery). Parishioners demanded the release of their
priest, but to no avail. The authorities transferred him from Petrograd
to Kronstadt. Archpriest Saint Nikolaevich Ornatskij was shot during
the red terror on 30 October 1918. The shooting occurred in
Kronstadt,

near

the

Gulf

of

Finland

between

Ligovo

and

Oranienbaumom. His body, shot full of holes. was dumped in the Bay.
In August 2000 the Archpriest Saint Nikolaevich Ornatskij was listed
as a universal Jubilee Saint Used by the Cathedral of Russian
Orthodox Churchs.

354

355

TODAY IS JUNE 1

Saint Agapitus of the Kievan Caves


DAY OF CELEBRATION

A natural doctor, he was a disciple of St. Antony of Kiev. He healed


people by prayer and the prescribing of cabbage, which they made
into a sort of bread. Prince Vladimir Monomachus was healed in this
way, and this made Agapitus famed on all sides. The Prince's doctor,
an Armenian, hearing of this, began to spread slander about him.
When Agapitus became ill, the Armenian came and, looking at him,
said that he would die in three days and that, if he did not do so, then
he, the Armenian, would become a monk. Agapitus told him that it had
been revealed to him by God that he would die, not in three days but
in three months. And so it came to pass. After Agapitus's death, the
Armenian went to the abbot of the Monastery of the Caves and asked
him to make him a monk. He explained that Agapitus had appeared to
him from the other world and reminded him of his promise. And so the
one-time envier became a humble monk, by the providence of God
whose care it is that all men be saved. St. Agapitus entered into rest
in 1095."

356

TODAY IS JUNE 2

Saint Sophia the Mother of Orphans


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Every mother wins the Mother of the Year award in her own family,
but if a vote were taken for the Mother of the Thousand Years of the
Byzantine Empire, the unanimous choice would be a valiant woman
named Sophia who turned a personal tragedy into a triumph of the
spirit in the name of the Lord and so glorified His name in her every
thought and deed that she was sainted by popular acclaim. She
symbolizes motherhood in the purest sense, sanctifying the role all
mothers play in the daily grind of raising a family, elevating the
mothers of the world to a sacred level in the eyes of God and giving
them their due recognition in the divine plan of the universe. A woman
acquires a spark of divine grace in bearing a child, and thereafter in
caring for it she labors not only for herself but for the property of the
Almighty as well, for we are the children of God. The Noble Sophia
came into the world with every advantage, including wealth of beauty
and intelligence, as well as an abiding faith in Jesus Christ, and at
maturity she left nothing to be desired as a model wife. When she
married, she took leave of her parents to make a home of her own
with the prayer that she would be blessed with children, a prayer
which was answered. She became the mother of six children, all of
whom she loved deeply and none of whom lacked the religious fervor
of their mother. It was in her thirty-fourth year, when her happiness
357

knew no bounds that her greatest joy turned to stark tragedy. A


plague swept over the land and she watched helplessly as one by one
her children died; and when the pestilence had spent itself she had
lost all of her loved ones, including her husband. In numbing grief she
yearned to be stricken and join her family in death, but then her
Christian faith asserted itself, reminding her that there was much she
could do, not only for the Lord but in memory of her family. She
returned to her empty house intent upon putting it to good use, and
her life thereafter came to be a total commitment to the glory of the
Savior. She lost no time in seeking out the clergy of the community
and announcing plans to dispense her wealth among the poor,
keeping enough to maintain her house, which she hoped would
shelter underprivileged or orphaned children. In a span of twenty
years, Sophias house became a haven not only for little wanderers
but for the dispossessed on any age as well. She actually adopted
over one hundred children in this period, raising each of them as
though it were her own child and sending them out into the world full
of the love of Jesus Christ and quite prepared to make a useful place
in society. She came to be known as the Mother of Orphans,
marveled at by other mothers of the empire whose burdens were
made lighter when they compared their cares and worries to those of
the woman who had the strength and grace to make her life
worthwhile after suffering a loss that would have overwhelmed the
average mother. Many stories of tenderness and sacrifice are
attached to Sophia but the one that stands out as an example of her
proximity to God is the one concerning the bottomless wine pitcher, if
it can be called that. Her hospitality extended to all comers, and
when adults sought refuge in her house she customarily poured them
a glass of rare vintage from a Grecian urn. After she had first filled the
urn, she noticed that no matter how much she dispensed for her
guests, the wine was always at the same level when she went to use
358

it again. At first she presumed that someone had surreptitiously


refilled the urn when she was otherwise engaged, but she soon
realized that it was a phenomenon that could not be explained. She
mentioned it, however, to no one. Upon her death, great sadness
descended over the city. The children she had raised, the adults that
she had helped, clambered to the Patriarch of Constantinople for
Sophia to be made a Saint. So many people demanded this for over a
year that the Patriarch made his announcement with June 2 being her
celebration day.

TODAY IS JUNE 3

Holy Martyr Saint Dimitri, Tsarevich of Russia


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Holy Martyr Saint Dimitri, Tsarevich of Russia ( ,


, ; 19 October 1582 15
May 1591) was a Russian Tsarevich [Tsarevich is a Slavic title given
to tsars' sons], youngest son of Ivan the Terrible and the only child
born to Ivan the Terrible and Maria Nagaya. He was murdered at the
age of eight by the evil designs of Boris Godunov, in the town of
Uglich. After his death he appeared to a monk and accurately foretold
Boris Godunov's death. Countless miracles were worked at the grave
of the Tsarevich. When his tomb was opened fifteen years after his
death, his relics were found whole and incorrupt, and were solemnly
buried in the Church of the Archangel Michael in Moscow. The
circumstances of Boris Godunov's death are worth telling. Godunov's
359

first tried to kill the Tsarevich using the strongest poison, but it had
no effect, as God protected him. Godunov's then had the child publicly
beheaded. Not long afterwards a 'false Dimitri' arose, claiming to be
the Tsarevich, and rallied a great army against Godunov. Godunov
was driven to such a desperate position that he took his own life by
poison, the 'remedy' he had intended for the true Dimitri.

The Coat of Arms of the city of Uglich, featuring Tsarevich Dmitri

TODAY IS JUNE 4

Saint Metrophanes the first


Patriarch of Constantinople
DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Metrophanes, Patriarch of Constantinople, was a contemporary


of St. 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
360

time of terrible persecution of Christians at Rome, St. 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, St.
Titus ordained him presbyter. After the death of Titus first Dometius
(272) was elevated to the bishops throne, and thereafter his sons,
Probus (315) and in 316 St. Metrophanes. The emperor Constantine
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
St. Metrophanes, the emperor took him back to Rome. Soon
Constantine the Great transferred the capital from Rome to Byzantium
and he brought St. Metrophanes home. 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

St.

Metrophanes the title of Patriarch. Thus, the saint became the first
Patriarch of Constantinople. St. 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 St. Athanasius.

All of his prophesy were

fulfilled. St Metrophanes reposed in the year 326, at age 117. His


relics rest at Constantinople in a church dedicated to him.

TODAY IS JUNE 5

Saint Peter of Korisha


DAY OF CELEBRATION
361

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 childrens 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. St. Peters 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 St. 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 Lords will be done. They sold their
family possessions and distributed the money to the poor. Traveling
to Pec, they reached the Monastery of Sts. Peter and Paul. Peter
remained here, while Helena entered a nearby womens 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
362

spiritual counsel and healing. St. 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. St 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. St. 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. 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 St. 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. St. 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, St. Peter was
363

illumined by the grace of God, so no demon ever dared to approach


him again. Before St. Peters 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. Foreseeing
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, St. Peters face shone with radiance,
and a sweet fragrance came from his body. After the saints 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 St. Peters relics, and dedicated it to the Godbearing ascetic. The holy relics of St. 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 St. Peter proved
to be miracle working. The inscription reads: St Peter of Korisha,
desert-dweller and wonder-worker.

364

TODAY IS JUNE 6

Saint Bessarion the Great, wonder-worker


of Egypt
DAY OF CELEBRATION

An Egyptian by birth, 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 St. Gerasimus in the Jordanian wilderness, he viewed other
desert monasteries, and assimilated all the rules of monastic life.
Abba Bessarion was initiated into the angelic life by Saint Anthony
the Great. He later became a disciple of Saint Macarius, the founder
of Scetis, and then set out to lead the life of a wanderer, borne hither
and thither by Providence like a bird by the wind. All his wealth lay in
the Gospel, which he always had in his hand. Living in the open air, he
patiently endured all weathers, untroubled by care for a dwelling or
for clothing. Fortified by the strength of the faith, he thus remained
untouched by all the passions of the flesh. On coming to a monastery
where the brethren led the common life, he would sit weeping at the
gate. A brother once offered him hospitality and asked why he was
distressed. 'I cannot live under a roof, until I have regained the wealth
of my house,' he replied, meaning the heavenly inheritance lost since
Adam. 'I am afflicted, in danger of death every day, and without rest
because of my huge misfortunes, which oblige me ever to travel on in
365

order to finish my course.' He wandered for forty years without ever


lying down to sleep, and he spent all of forty days and forty nights
standing wide awake in a thorn bush. One winter's day, he was
walking through a village when he came upon a dead man. Without
hesitation, he took off his own coat and covered the body. A little
further on, he gave his tunic to a poor man who was shivering in the
cold. An army officer, who happened to be passing, saw the naked
ascetic and wanted to know who had stripped him of his clothing. 'He
did!' replied Bessarion, holding up the Gospel Book. On another
occasion, he met with a poor man and, having nothing to give him in
alms, he hurried to the market in order to sell his Gospel Book. On his
disciple's asking him where the Book was, he replied cheerfully, 'I
have sold it in obedience to the words which I never cease to hear:
God, sell what you possess and give to the poor (Matt. 19:21).
Through this evangelic way of life he became a chosen vessel of
Grace, and God wrought many miracles through him. One day, for
example, he made sea water sweet through the sign of the Cross, to
quench his disciple's thirst. When the latter wanted to keep some for
the remainder of the journey, he prevented him, saying, 'God is here,
God is everywhere!' At another time, having stood for two weeks in
prayer with hands raised to heaven, he brought about rain enough to
fill a thirsty brother's coat. Then there was the time when he stopped
the sun from setting until he reached the cell of an elder whom he
wished to meet; and the time when he walked across the waters of a
river. Through these and many other wonders wrought by the Saint,
God showed, as He did with Moses, Joshua and Elias, that He grants
His servants mastery even over natural phenomena. Through the
power of Christ, he raised a paralytic, drove out demons and showed
himself truly to be a 'gods man' upon the earth. 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
366

saying, I am a sinner, too. St. 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
around 470.

TODAY IS JUNE 7

Saint Daniel of Skete in Egypt


DAY OF CELEBRATION

He was a disciple of St. Arsenios the great and abbot of the Scetis in
Egypt (the monastic system known as the "Skete" takes its name
from Scetis). He lived the communal monastic life for forty years, then
in 420 retired to the desert, where he remained until his repose. From
the Prologue: "A saint has a very sensitive conscience. What ordinary
people may consider a small sin, a saint sees as a great crime. It is
said of Abba Daniel that highwaymen attacked him on three
occasions and took him off to the mountains. Twice he was rescued,
but the third time, in attempting to escape, he struck one of them
with a stone and killed him, and then made his escape. That murder
lay on his conscience like a lead weight. In perplexity as to what he
should do, he went to Timothy, the Patriarch of Alexandria, and asked
his advice. The Patriarch soothed him, and released him from all
penance. But his conscience continued to gnaw at him, so Daniel
visited the remaining patriarchs in turn; going to Constantinople,
367

Antioch and Jerusalem, confessing to each of them and asking for


advice. But he could find no peace. So he returned home to
Alexandria and declared himself to the authorities as a murderer, and
was flung into prison. At his trial before the governor, Daniel told how
everything had come about, and pleaded that he might be killed too,
that his soul might be saved from eternal fire. The governor was
amazed at the whole thing, and said to him: 'Go your way, Father, and
pray to God for me, even if you kill seven more!' Still dissatisfied with
this, Daniel resolved to take a leper into his cell and care for him until
he died, and then find another. He did as he had resolved, and in this
way brought peace to his conscience.

TODAY IS JUNE 8

Saint Ephraim, Patriarch of Antioch


DAY OF CELEBRATION

During the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius, Ephraim was


governor of the eastern regions. He was famed for his great piety and
compassion, and was much esteemed for these virtues. When the
rebuilding of Antioch, which had been destroyed by earthquake and
fire, was put in hand, the Emperor ordered Ephraim to oversee the
work. Ephraim performed this work with diligence and love. There
was among the ordinary workers a certain bishop who had left his see
for unknown reasons and was working as a laborer. Not a soul knew
368

that the man was a bishop. One day he lay down to take a rest from
the exhausting work with the other laborers, and fell asleep. Ephraim
glanced at him, and saw a flaming pillar rising above the man and
reaching up to heaven. Amazed and frightened, Ephraim summoned
him and bound him under oath to reveal who he was. The man
hesitated a long time, but finally admitted that he was a bishop and
foretold that Ephraim would shortly be consecrated Patriarch of
Antioch (the patriarchal throne having been empty since the old
Patriarch, Euphrasius, perished in the earthquake). Ephraim was
indeed elected and consecrated as Patriarch. For his goodness, purity
and zeal for Orthodoxy, a great gift of wonderworking was given him
by God. Once, in order to convince some heretic that Orthodoxy is the
true Faith, he placed his Omophor [In the Eastern Orthodox liturgical
tradition, the omophor () is the distinguishing vestment of
a bishop and the symbol of his spiritual and ecclesiastical authority.
Originally

of

wool,

it

is

band

of

brocade decorated

with

four crosses and an eight-pointed star and is worn about the neck and
shoulders] in the flames and prayed to God. The Omophor remained
unharmed in the fire for three hours. When the heretic saw this, he
was afraid and cast his heresy aside. Ephraim entered peacefully into
rest in 546.

369

TODAY IS JUNE 9

Saint David Gareji


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint David of Gareji was Syrian by birth. The future ascetic became a
disciple of St. John of Zedazeni and journeyed with him to Georgia. St.
David and his spiritual son Lucian settled on a mountain above Tbilisi,
the capital of Kartli. At that time Kartli was constantly under threat of
the Persian fire-worshippers. St. David would spend entire days in
prayer, beseeching the Lord for forgiveness of the sins of those who
dwelt in the city. When he was finished praying for the day, he would
stand on the mountain and bless the whole city. Once a week Sts.
David and Lucian would go down into the city to preach. A church
dedicated to St. David was later built on the mountain where he
labored. St. Davids authority and popularity alarmed the fireworshippers, and they accused him of adultery, in an attempt to
discredit him in the eyes of the people. As a witness they
summoned a certain expectant prostitute, who accused him of being
the childs father. Hoping in God, the Holy Father touched his staff to
the prostitutes womb and ordered the unborn child to declare the
truth. From out of the womb the infant uttered the name of his true
father. Outraged at this slander, the bystanders savagely stoned the
woman to death. St. David pleaded with them to stop, but he was
unable to placate the furious crowd. Deeply disturbed by these
events, St. David departed the region with his disciple Lucian. The
370

holy fathers settled in a small cave in the wilderness and began to


spend all their time in prayer. They ate nothing but herbs and the bark
of trees. When the herbs withered from the summer heat, the Lord
sent them deer. Lucian milked them and brought the milk to St. David,
and when the elder made the sign of the Cross over the milk it was
miraculously transformed into cheese. Shaken by the Holy Fathers
miracle, Lucian told him, Even if my body rots and wastes away from
hunger and thirst, I will not permit myself to fret over the things of
this temporal life. The fathers kept a strict fast on Wednesdays and
Fridaysthey ate nothing, and even the deer did not come to them on
those days. A frightful serpent inhabited a cave not far from where
they lived and attacked all the animals around it. But at St. Davids
command the serpent deserted that place. Once local hunters were
tracking the fathers deer, and they caught sight of Lucian milking
them as they stood there quietly, as though they were sheep. The
hunters paid great respect to St. David and, having returned to their
homes, reported what they had seen. Soon the Gareji wilderness filled
with people who longed to draw nearer to Christ. A monastery was
founded there, and for centuries it stood fast as a center and
cornerstone of faith and learning in Georgia. After some time St. David
set off on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He entrusted Lucian to fulfill his
responsibilities at the monastery and took some of the other brothers
with him. When the pilgrims were approaching the place called the
Ridge of Grace, from which the holy city of Jerusalem becomes
visible, St. David fell to his knees and glorified God with tears.
Judging himself unworthy to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ,
he was satisfied to gaze upon the city from afar. Then he stood at the
city gates and prayed fervently while his companions entered the
Holy City and venerated the holy places. Returning, St. David took
with him three stones from the Ridge of Grace. That night an angel
appeared to the patriarch of Jerusalem and informed him that a
371

certain pious man named David, who was visiting from afar, had taken
with him all the holiness of Jerusalem. The angel proceeded to tell
him that the venerable one had marched through the city of Nablus,
clothed in tatters and bearing on his shoulders an old sack in which
he carried the three holy stones. The patriarch sent messengers after
the stranger with a request that he return two of the stones and take
only one for himself. St. David returned the two stones, but he
declined the patriarchs invitation to visit him. He took the third stone
back with him to the monastery, and to this day it has been full of the
grace of miraculous healing. After St. David brought the miraculous
stone from Jerusalem, the number of brothers at the monastery
doubled.

The venerable

father

ministered

to

all

of

them

and

encouraged them. He also visited the cells of the elder hermits to


offer his solace. In accordance with his will, a monastery in the name
of St. John the Baptist was founded in the place called Mravalmta
(the Rolling Mountains). The Lord God informed St. David of his
imminent departure to the Kingdom of Heaven. Then he gathered the
fathers of the wilderness and instructed them for the last time not to
fall into confusion, but to be firm and ceaselessly entreat the Lord for
the salvation of their souls. He received Holy Communion, lifted up his
hands to the Lord, and gave up his spirit. St. Davids holy relics have
worked many miracles: approaching them, those blind from birth have
received their sight. To this day, believers have been healed of every
spiritual and bodily affliction at his grave.

TODAY IS JUNE 10

Hieromartyr Saint Metrophanes


Tsi-Chung of Peking
DAY OF CELEBRATION
372

Hieromartyr Metrophanes, first Chinese priest, and the Chinese


Martyrs of the Boxer Uprising (1900).

The Holy Martyrs of China were native Chinese Orthodox Christians


brought up in piety at the Russian Orthodox Mission in Peking, which
had been founded in 1685. During the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 against
the foreign powers occupying China, native Chinese Christians were
commanded by the Boxers to renounce Christianity or be tortured to
death. Two hundred and twenty-two members of the Peking Mission,
led by their priest Metrophanes Tsi-Chung and his family, refused to
deny Christ, and were deemed worthy of a martyric death (Great
Horologion).

TODAY IS JUNE 11

Saint Anna of Kashin


DAY OF CELEBRATION

The Holy Right-Believing Princess Anna of Kashin died on October 2,


1338. A Church council decided to glorify the holy Princess Anna as a
saint, and her holy relics were uncovered on July 21, 1649. In 1677,
Patriarch

Joachim

proposed

to

the

Moscow

Council

that

the

veneration of St. Anna of Kashin throughout Russia should be


373

discontinued because of the Old Believers Schism, which made use of


the name of St. Anna of Kashin for its own purposes. When she was
buried, her hand had been positioned to make the Sign of the Cross
with two fingers, rather than three. Therefore, only local veneration of
St. Anna was permitted. However, the memory of St. Anna, who had
received a crown of glory from Christ, could not be erased by decree.
People continued to love and venerate her, and many miracles took
place at her tomb. On June 12, 1909, her second glorification took
place, and her universally observed Feast day was established. Her
life describes her as a model of spiritual beauty and chastity, and an
example to future generations.

TODAY IS JUNE 12

Saint Peter the Athonite and the Demons


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Peter of Athos, a Greek by birth, served as a soldier in the


imperial armies and he lived at Constantinople. In the year 667, during
a war with the Syrians, St. Peter was taken captive and locked up in a
fortress in the city of Samara on the Euphrates River. For a long time
he languished in prison and he pondered over which of his sins had
brought Gods chastisement upon him. St. Peter remembered that
once he had intended to leave the world and go to a monastery, but
he had not done so. He began to observe a strict fast in the prison and
to pray fervently, and he besought St. Nicholas the Wonderworker to
intercede before God for him. St. Nicholas appeared in a dream to
374

Peter and advised him to call upon St. Simeon the God-Receiver for
help. St. Nicholas appeared to him once more in a dream, encouraging
the prisoner in patience and hope. The third time that he appeared it
was not in a dream, but with St. Simeon the God-Receiver. St. Simeon
touched his staff to the chains binding St. Peter, and the chains
melted away like wax. The doors of the prison opened, and St. Peter
was free. St. Simeon the God-Receiver became invisible, but St.
Nicholas conveyed St. Peter to the borders of the Greek territory.
Reminding him of his vow, St. Nicholas became invisible. St. Peter
then journeyed to Rome to receive monastic tonsure at the tomb of
the Apostle Peter. Even here St. Nicholas did not leave him without
his help. He appeared in a dream to the Pope of Rome and informed
him of the circumstances of St. Peters liberation from captivity, and
he commanded the Pope to tonsure the former prisoner into
monasticism. On the following day, in the midst of a throng of the
people who had gathered for divine services, the Pope loudly
exclaimed, Peter, you who are from the Greek lands, and whom St.
Nicholas has freed from prison in Samara, come here to me. St. Peter
stood in front of the Pope, who tonsured him into monasticism at the
tomb of the Apostle Peter. The Pope taught St. Peter the rules of
monastic life and kept the monk by him. Then with a blessing, he sent
St. Peter to where God had appointed him to journey. St. Peter
boarded a ship sailing to the East. The ship owners, after going
ashore, besought St. Peter to come and pray at a certain house,
where the owner and all the household lay sick. St. Peter healed them
through his prayer. The Most Holy Mother of God appeared in a dream
to Saint Peter and indicated the place where he should live till the
very end of his days Holy Mount Athos. When the ship sailed
alongside Athos, it then halted of its own accord. Saint Peter realized
that this was the place he had to go, and so he went ashore. This was
in the year 681. The Monk Peter then dwelt in the desolate places of
375

the Holy Mountain, not seeing another person for 53 years. His
clothing had tattered, but his hair and beard had grown out and
covered his body in place of clothes. The icon above depicts an
episode from the life of St. Peter the Athonite, the first ascetic of
Mount Athos. It shows the devil as an angel of light appearing to St.
Peter in order to persuade him away from the monastic path he
endured bravely. The first biography of St. Peter was written by St.
Gregory Palamas, who relates the story behind this icon. This is a
lesson which teaches us the great virtue of humility and obedience in
withstanding demonic attacks and deception. At first the Monk Peter
was repeatedly subjected to demonic assaults. Trying to force the
saint to abandon his cave, the devils took on the form at times of
armed soldiers, and at other times of fierce beasts and vipers that
seemed ready to tear apart the hermit. But through fervent prayer to
God and the Mother of God, the Monk Peter conquered the demonic
assaults. Then the enemy began to resort to trickery. Appearing under
the guise of a lad, sent to him from his native home, he with tears
besought the monk to leave the wilderness and return to his own
home. The monk was in tears, but without hesitation answered: "Here
has the Lord and the Most Holy Mother of God led me, and without Her
leave I will not leave from here." Hearing the Name of the Mother of
God, the demon vanished. After seven years the devil came before the
monk in the guise of a luminous angel and said that God was
commanding him to go into the world for the enlightening and
salvation of people needful of his guidance. The experienced ascetic
again replied, that without the permission of the Mother of God he
would not forsake the wilderness. The devil disappeared and did not
bother more to approach the saint. The Mother of God appeared to the
Monk Peter in a dream together with Saint Nicholas and said to the
brave hermit, that each 40 days an Angel would bring him Heavenly
manna. From that time the Monk Peter fasted for 40 days, and on the
376

fortieth day he fortified himself with the Heavenly manna, receiving


the strength for a further forty-day abstinence. Once, a hunter chasing
after a stag saw the naked man, covered with hair and girded about
the loins with leaves. He was afraid and was about to flee, but St.
Peter stopped him and told him of his life. The hunter asked to remain
with him, but the saint sent him home. St. Peter gave the hunter a
year for self-examination and forbade him to tell anyone about
meeting him. A year later the hunter returned with his brother, who
was afflicted with a demon, and several other companions. When they
entered the St. Peters cave, they saw that he had already reposed.
The hunter, with bitter tears, told his companions of the life of St.
Peter. His brother, after merely touching the saints body, received
healing. St. Peter died in the year 734. His holy relics were on Athos
at the monastery of St. Clement. During the Iconoclast period the
relics were hidden away, and in the year 969 they were transferred to
the Thracian village of Photokami. St. Peter once saw the Mother of
God in a vision, and she spoke of Her earthly domain, Mount Athos: I
have chosen this mountain and have received it from My Son and God
as an inheritance, for those who wish to forsake worldly cares and
strife.... Exceedingly do I love this place. I will aid those who come to
dwell here and who labor for God... and keep His commandments.... I
will lighten their afflictions and labors, and shall be an invincible ally
for the monks, invisibly guiding and guarding them. Generations of
Orthodox monks can attest to the truth of these words. The Mother of
God is regarded as the Abbess of the Holy Mountain, not just in name,
but in actual fact. For this reason, Mt. Athos is known as the Garden
of the Theotokos.

377

TODAY IS JUNE 13

Saint Anthimus, Bishop of Rimnicu Vilcea


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Anthimus of Iberia was one of the most highly educated people
of his time. He was fluent in many languages, including Greek,
Romanian, Old Slavonic, Arabic, and Turkish and well-versed in
theology, literature, and the natural sciences. He was unusually gifted
in the fine artsin painting, engraving, and sculpture in particular. He
was famed for his beautiful calligraphy. Finally, St. Anthimus was a
great writer, a renowned orator, and a reformer of the written
Romanian language. Little is known about the youth of St. Anthimus.
He was a native of the Samtskhe region in southern Georgia. His
parents, John and Mariam, gave him the name Andria at Baptism. He
accompanied King Archil to Russia and helped him to found a
Georgian print shop there, but after he returned he was captured by
Dagestani robbers and sold into slavery. Through the efforts of
Patriarch Dositheus of Jerusalem, Anthimus was finally set free, but
he remained in the patriarchs service in order to further his spiritual
education.

Already

famed

for

his

paintings,

engravings,

and

calligraphy, Anthimus was asked by Prince Constantine Brincoveanu


(1688-1714) of Wallachia (present-day Romania) to travel to his
kingdom around the year 1691. After he had arrived in Wallachia, he
began to manage a local print shop. The printing industry in that
country advanced tremendously at that time, and the chief inspiration
378

and driving force behind the great advances was the Georgian master
Anthimus. He succeeded in making Wallachia a center of Christianity
and a major publisher of books for all the East. In 1694 Anthimus was
enthroned as abbot of Snagov Monastery (in present-day Romania),
where he soon founded a print shop. In the same year his new print
shop published Guidelines for the Divine Services on May 21, All
Saints

Day.

The

book

was

signed

by

Subdeacon

Michael

Ishtvanovich, future founder of the first Georgian print shop. In 1705


Anthimus, the chosen among chosen abbots of Wallachia, was
consecrated bishop of Rimnicu Vilcea, and in 1708 he was appointed
metropolitan of Hungro-Wallachia. The whole country celebrated his
elevation. As one abbot proclaimed: The divine Anthimus, a great
man and son of the wise Iberian nation, has come to Wallachia and
enlightened our land. God has granted him an inexhaustible source of
wisdom, entrusted him to accomplish great endeavors, and helped to
advance our nation by establishing for us a great printing industry.
Under the direct leadership of St. Anthimus, more than twenty
churches and monasteries were erected in Wallachia. Of particular
significance is All Saints Monastery, located in the center of
Bucharest. The main gates of this monastery were made of oak and
carved with traditional Georgian motifs by St. Anthimus himself. The
metropolitan also established rules for the monastery and declared its
independence from the Church of Constantinople. From the day of his
consecration,

Metropolitan

Anthimus

fought

tirelessly

for

the

liberation of Wallachia from foreign oppressors. On the day he was


ordained he addressed his flock: You have defended the Christian
Faith in purity and without fault. Nevertheless, you are surrounded
and tightly bound by the violence of other nations. You endure
countless deprivations and tribulations from those who dominate this
world.... Though I am unworthy and am indeed younger than many of
youlike David, I am the youngest among my brothers the Lord God
379

has anointed me to be your shepherd. Thus I will share in your future


trials and griefs and partake in the lot that God has appointed for
you. His words were prophetic: In 1714 the Turks executed the
Wallachian

prince

Constantine

Brincoveanu,

and

in

1716

they

executed Stefan Cantacuzino, the last prince of Wallachia. In his


place they appointed the Phanariote (a member of one of the principal
Greek families of the Phanar, the Greek quarter of Constantinople,
who, as administrators in the civil bureaucracy, exercised great
influence in the Ottoman Empire after the Turkish conquest.) Nicholas
Mavrokordatos, who concerned himself only with the interests of the
Ottoman Empire. During this difficult time, Anthimus of Iberia
gathered around him a group of loyal boyar patriots determined to
liberate their country from Turkish and Phanariote domination. But
Nicholas Mavrokordatos became suspicious, and he ordered Anthimus
to resign as metropolitan. When Anthimus failed to do so, he filed a
complaint with Patriarch Jeremiah of Constantinople. Then a council
of bishops, which did not include a single Romanian clergyman,
condemned the conspirator and instigator of revolutionary activity
to anathema and excommunication and declared him unworthy to be
called a monk. But Nicholas Mavrokordatos was still unsatisfied and
claimed that to deny Anthimus the title of Metropolitan of HungroWallachia was insufficient punishment. He ordered Anthimus to be
exiled far from Wallachia, to St. Catherines Monastery on Mt. Sinai.
Metropolitan

Anthimus,

beloved

of

the

Romanian

people,

was

escorted out of the city at night since the conspirators feared the
reaction of the people. But Metropolitan Anthimus never reached Mt.
Sinai. On September 14, 1716, a band of Turkish soldiers stabbed St.
Anthimus to death on the bank of the Tundzha (Tunca) River where it
flows through Adrianople, not far from Gallipoli, and cast his
butchered remains into the river. Thus ended the earthly life of one
more Georgian sainta man who had dedicated all of his strength,
380

talent, and knowledge to the revival of Christian culture and the


strengthening of the Wallachian people in the Orthodox Faith. In 1992
the Romanian Church canonized Anthimus of Iberia. The Orthodox
Church commemorates him on June 13.

TODAY IS JUNE 14

Saint Methodius
Patriarch of Constantinople
DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople, was born in Sicily into a


rich family. Having a vocation to serve God, he went while still in his
youth off to a monastery on the island of Chios and renovated it with
his means. During the reign of the iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813820), Methodius held the high position of apokrisiaros (advocate for
Church matters) under the holy Patriarch Nicephoros. He was
dispatched by the patriarch to Rome on a mission to the papacy and
he remained there. During this period Leo the Armenian removed
Nicephoros from the patriarchal throne and put on it the iconoclast
Theodotus of Melissinea, given the nickname Kassiter (Tinman).
After the death of Leo the Armenian, Saint Methodius returned, and in
the

dignity

of

presbyter

he

struggled

incessantly

against

the

Iconoclast heresy. The emperor Michael the Stammerer (820-829) at


first was noted for his benevolence and he set free many imprisoned
381

by his predecessor for their veneration of icons, but after a while he


renewed the persecution against Orthodoxy. Saint Methodius was
locked up in prison in Akrita. After the death of Michael the
Stammerer, the ruler was Theophilus, who also was an iconocls.
More refined a man than his father, he set free Saint Methodius, who
likewise was a man of learning, superbly skilled in matters not only
ecclesial, but also civil. Having received his freedom, Saint Methodius
renewed the struggle with the heretics, and for a while the emperor
tolerated this. But after defeat in a war with the Arabs, Theophilus
vented his anger against Methodius, saying, that God had punished
him because he had let an icon-worshipper come close to him.
Methodius objected, saying that the Lord was angry with him for the
insults upon His holy icons. They gave the saint over to tortures, and
struck him much about the face, from which his jaw was broken. Ugly
scars remained on his face. Methodius was sent off to the island of
Antigonos and he was locked up there with two robbers in a deep
cave. In this dark prison where the light of day did not penetrate,
Methodius languished for 7 years until the death of the emperor
Theophilus. During this time, the holy Confessors Theodore and
Theophanes the Branded, who had also been sent to prison, sent
Methodius greetings in verse, and the prisoner replied with greetings
in verse, as well. After the death of Theophilus, his son Michael III
(842-867) began to rule, but not being of mature age, the Byzantine
Empire was actually ruled by his mother, the empress Theodora, a
venerater of icons.

382

The empress tried to extirpate the Iconoclast heresy, and gave orders
to free the confessors imprisoned for icon veneration. The heretic
Annios occupying the patriarchal throne was banished, and Saint
Methodius chosen in his place. At Constantinople was convened a
local Council with Saint Methodius presiding (842). The Council
restored icon veneration and established an annual celebration of the
triumph of Orthodoxy. The Synodikon of Orthodoxy compiled by
Saint Methodius is read on the First Sunday of Great Lent. Attempting
to undermine the authority of Saint Methodius, and also the love and
esteem of his flock for him, the heretics slandered him as having
transgressed chastity. The slander was exposed as such, and the
enemies of the saint put to shame. The final years of the saint passed
peacefully, he toiled much, wisely guided the Church and his flock,
renovated temples ruined by the heretics, gathered up the relics of
saints scattered about by the heretics, and transferred the relics of
Patriarch Nicephorus from the place of his imprisonment back to
Constantinople. Saint Methodius died in the year 846. He was
spiritually close to Ioannikos, who had foretold that he would become
patriarch and also the time of his death. Besides the Synodikon of
Orthodoxy, the holy hierarch also compiled a rule for those converted
to the Faith, three rites of marriage and several pastoral sermons and
church hymns.

383

TODAY IS JUNE 15

Saint Augustine Blessed


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Blessed Augustine was born in Africa, in the city of Tagaste


(Thagaste). He was raised by his mother, the pious Christian Monica,
and he received his education at Carthage. In the capacity of
professor of rhetoric, Augustine arrived at Mediolanum (Milan in Italy)
during the period of episcopacy of Sainted Ambrose. Under the
guidance of Saint Ambrose, Augustine studied the Holy Scriptures.
The Word of God produced in his soul a radical crisis he accepted
holy Baptism, gave all his wealth to the poor and was vowed into the
monastic form. In the year 391 Valerian, bishop of Ipponesia (Hippo),
ordained Saint Augustine to the dignity of presbyter; and in 395, to
the dignity of bishop, appointing him vicar-bishop to the Ipponesia
cathedral. After the death of Bishop Valerian, Sainted Augustine took
his place. During his 35 years as bishop, many of the works of Blessed
Augustine were devoted to combating the Donatist, Manichaean and
Pelagian heresies. Blessed Augustine wrote many works (in the
testimony of his student and biographer Possidias, the number
approached 1030). Of his works the best known are: "The City of God"
("De civitate Dei"), "The Confessions", 17 Books against the Pelagians
and "Handbook of Christian Knowledge" ("the Enchiridion"). Blessed
Augustine was concerned above all else that his compositions be
intelligent and edifying. "It is better, he said, for them to condemn
384

our grammar, than that people do not understand". Blessed Augustine


died on 28 August 430.

TODAY IS JUNE 16

Saint Tikhon, the Bishop of Amathus in Cyprus


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Tikhon, Bishop of Amathus, was born in the city Amathus on the
island of Cyprus. His parents raised their son in Christian piety, and
taught him the reading of sacred books. It is said that the gift of
wonderworking appeared in St. Tikhon at quite a young age. His
father was the owner of a bakery, and whenever he left his son alone
in the shop, the holy youth would give free bread to those in need.
Learning of this, his father became angry, but the son said that he had
read in the Scriptures, that in giving to God one receives back a
hundredfold. I, said the youth, gave to God the bread which was
taken, and he persuaded his father to go to the place where the grain
was stored. With astonishment the father saw that the granary, which
formerly was empty, was now filled to overflowing with wheat. From
that time the father did not hinder his son from distributing bread to
the poor. A certain gardener brought the dried prunings of vines from
the vineyard. St. Tikhon gathered them, planted them in his garden
and besought the Lord that these branches might take root and yield
fruit for the health of people. The Lord did so through the faith of the
385

holy youth. The branches took root, and their fruit had a particular
and very pleasant taste. It was used during the lifetime of the saint
and after his death for making wine for the Mystery of the Holy
Eucharist. They accepted the pious youth into the church clergy,
made him a reader. Later, Mnemonios, the Bishop of Amathus
ordained him a deacon. After the death of Bishop Mnemonios, St.
Tikhon by universal agreement was chosen as Bishop of Amathus. St.
Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus, presided at the service. St. Tikhon
labored zealously to eradicate the remnants of paganism on Cyprus;
he destroyed a pagan temple and spread the Christian Faith. The holy
bishop was generous, his doors were open to all, and he listened to
and lovingly fulfilled the request of each person who came to him.
Many people were healed when he prayed for them. Fearing neither
threats nor tortures, he firmly and fearlessly confessed his faith
before pagans. In the service to St. Tikhon it is stated that he foresaw
the time of his death, which occurred in the year 425.

TODAY IS JUNE 17

Saint Shalva of Akhaltsikhe


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Shalva of Akhaltsikhe was a brilliant military commander in the


army of Queen Tamar and the prince of Akhaltsikhe. After his victory
at Shamkori in the Ganja region, Shalva carried with him the flag of
386

the caliph, as a sign of the invincibility of the Christian Faith, and


conferred it, along with the wealth he had won, as an offering to the
Khakhuli Icon of the Theotokos. For his selfless service, Queen Tamar
honored him with the rank of commander-in-chief of the Georgian
army. During the reign of Queen Tamars daughter Rusudan (12221245), the armies of Sultan Jalal al-Din stormed into Georgia. Rusudan
rallied the Georgian forces and appointed a new commander-in-chief
by the name of John Atabeg. Six thousand Georgians confronted a
Muslim army of two hundred thousand near the village of Garnisi.
Command of the advance guard was entrusted to the brave and
valorous brothers Shalva and John of Akhaltsikhe, while John Atabeg
remained with the main body of the army for the decisive battle. The
advance guard fought fearlessly, though the enemys army greatly
surpassed it in number. The brothers fought with great devotion,
hoping for support from the commander-in-chief, but John Atabeg was
seized with envyrather than fearand never offered them his help.
O envy, source of every evil! wrote one chronicler of the incident.
The enemy devastated the Georgian army, killing four thousand of its
most valiant soldiers. Among them was John of Akhaltsikhe, whose
brother Shalva was captured and delivered as a slave to Jalal al-Din.
Jalal al-Din was overjoyed to have the famed soldier and military
leader brought before him. He received him with proper honor, offered
him cities of great wealth, and promised him more if he agreed to
convert to Islam. Jalal al-Din sought with great persistence to convert
Shalva to Islam, but his efforts were in vainShalva would not be
converted, and nothing in the world would change his mind. So the
sultan ordered that he be tortured to death. After hours of torment
failed to kill him, Jalal al-Dins servants cast the half-dead martyr in
prison, where he later reposed.

387

TODAY IS JUNE 18

Saints Mark and Marcellian


DAY OF CELEBRATION

According to tradition, Mark and Marcellian were twin brothers from a


distinguished family. They became deacons in the early Church. When
they refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods, they were arrested. Their
parents, Tranquillinus and Martia, visited them in prison, urging them
to

renounce

their

being

Christians.

However,

Saint

Sebastian

convinced them not to abandon their faith. Sebastian converted


Tranquillinus and Martia, as well as Tiburtius, the son of Chromatius,
the local prefect. Nicostratus, another official, and his wife Zoe, were
also converted. According to the legend, Zoe had been a mute for six
years. However, she made known to Sebastian her desire to convert
to the Church. As soon as she had, her speech returned to her.
Nicostratus then brought the rest of the prisoners; these were sixteen
people who were also converted by Sebastian. Chromatius and
Tiburtius became converts, and Chromatius set free all his prisoners,
resigned his position, and retired to Campania. Mark and Marcellian
were concealed by Castulus, a Christian officer, but they were
betrayed by an apostate, Torquatus. The twins were again taken into
custody. Chromatius's successor, Fabian, condemned them to be
bound head downwards to two pillars with their feet nailed to them.
Mark and Marcellian hung there for a full day until they were pierced
with lances. The twins were buried in the Via Ardeatina, near the
cemetery of Domitilla. The bodies of Marcus and Marcellianus were
moved, probably during the ninth century, to the Church of Santi
388

Cosma e Damiano. They were discovered there in 1583. The bodies


remain there in a tomb, near an ancient painting of the two martyrs
with a third person, who appears to be the Virgin Mary. In 1902, their
basilica in the catacombs of Saint Balbina was rediscovered.

TODAY IS JUNE 19

Venerable Saint Paisius the Great


DAY OF CELEBRATION

St. Paisius the Great lived in Egypt. After the death of her husband his
mother, on the suggestion of an angel, gave her young son Paisius to
the clergy of the church. The youth Paisius loved monastic life and
spent his time in one of the Egyptian sketes. Renouncing his own will,
he lived under the spiritual guidance of St. Pambo, finishing all the
tasks assigned him. The Elder said that a new monk in particular
needs to preserve his sight, in order to guard his senses from
temptation. Paisius, heeding the instruction, went for three years with
his eyes cast downwards. The saintly ascetic read spiritual books,
and he was known for his ascetic fasting and prayer. At first he did
not eat any food for a week, then two weeks. Sometimes, after
partaking of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, he survived without food for
seventy days. St. Paisius distinguished himself by his great humility,
and performed ascetic deeds of fasting and prayer, but he concealed
them from others as far as possible. When the monks asked which
virtue is the highest of all, the saint replied, Those which are done in
389

secret, and about which no one knows. St. Paisius died in the fifth
century at a great old age, and he was buried by the monks.

TODAY IS JUNE 20

Saint Nahum of Ochrid


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Naum of Ochrid, a Bulgarian by descent, was one of the


disciples of the holy Equals of the Apostles Cyril and Methodius and
he accompanied St. Clement of Okhrid when he preached the Gospel
in Bulgaria. When St. Clement set off to the southwestern regions, St.
Naum remained in the then capital city of Plisk. Afterwards St Naum
succeeded St. Clement in a monastery on the shores of Lake Okhrida,
where he labored for ten years. St. Naum reposed on December 23,
910, and his relics were glorified by numerous miracles, especially
healings of spiritual infirmities. The memory of the saint is also
celebrated on December 23.

390

TODAY IS JUNE 21

Venerable Saint Anastasia of Serbia


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Anastasia was the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Romanus,


and received the name Anna when she was baptized. She was the
mother of St Sava of Serbia. She married the Serbian king Stephen
Nemanya. On March 25, 1196, King Stefan, at age 84, summoned a
Council of nobles in Ras, where he officially abdicated in favour of his
second

son,

Stefan,

to

whom

he

bequeathed

all

his

earthly

possessions. Although Vukan was King Stefan eldest son, King Stefan
preferred to see Stefan II on the Serbian throne mostly because
Stefan was married to Byzantine princess Eudokia. This decision was
not in accordance with the traditional right of primogeniture,
according to which Vukan, his first son, should inherited the throne.
This was not accepted lightly by Vukan as he reacted on this change
in succession by declaring himself King of Duklja. King Stefan took
monastic vows with his wife Ana in the Church of Saint Peter and Paul
in Ras and adopted the monastic name of Simeon. St. Anna took the
name Anastasia. Simeon subsequently retired to his Studenica
monastery and St. Anastasia retired to the Monastery of the Mother of
Christ in Kurumlija. St. Anastasia finished her life as a nun, where
prayer request from her former subjects kept her in constant prayer.
It is recorded that most of the request St. Anastasia prayed for were
answered,

and

was

canonized

supplications.
391

because

of

her

miraculous

TODAY IS JUNE 22

Venerable Macarius of Zhabyn


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Macarius of Zhabyn, Wonderworker of Belev, was born in the


year 1539. In his early years he was tonsured with the name
Onuphrius, and in the year 1585 he founded Zhabyns Monastery of the
Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple near the River Oka,
not far from the city of Belev. In 1615 the monastery was completely
destroyed

by Polish

soldiers under the command of

Lisovski.

Returning to the charred remains, the monk began to restore the


monastery. He again gathered the brethren, and in place of the
wooden church a stone church was built in honor of the Entry of the
Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple with a bell-tower at the gates.
The saint spent his life in austere monastic struggles, suffering cold,
heat, hunger and thirst, as the monastery accounts relate. He often
went deep into the forest, where he prayed to God in solitude. Once,
when he was following a path in the forest, he heard a faint moaning.
He looked around and saw a weary Polish man reclining against a tree
trunk, with his sabre beside him. He had strayed from his regiment
and had become lost in the forest. In a barely audible voice this
enemy, who might have been one of the destroyers of the monastery,
asked for a drink of water. Love and sympathy surged up within the
monk. With a prayer to the Lord, he plunged his staff into the ground.
At once, a fresh spring of water gushed forth, and he gave the dying
man a drink. When both the external and internal life of the monastery
392

had been restored, St. Onuphrius withdrew from the general monastic
life, and having entrusted the guidance of the brethren to one of his
disciples, he took the schema with the name Macarius. For the place
of his solitude, he chose a spot along the upper tributary of the River
Zhabynka. About one verst separated the mouth of the tributary and
the banks of the River Oka. The ascetical struggles of St. Macarius
were concealed not only from the world, but also from his beloved
brethren. He died in 1623 at the age of eighty-four, at the hour when
the roosters start to crow. He was buried opposite the gates of the
monastery on January 22, the commemoration of St. Timothy, where a
church was later built and named for him. The Iconographic Originals
has preserved a description of St. Macarius in his last years: he had
gray hair with a small beard, and over his monastic riassa he wore the
schema. Veneration of St. Macarius was established at the end of the
seventeenth century, or the beginning of the eighteenth. According to
Tradition, his relics remained uncovered, but by 1721 they were
interred in a crypt. In the eighteenth century the monastery became
deserted. The memory of his deeds and miracles was so completely
forgotten, that when the incorrupt relics of the monasterys founder
were uncovered during the construction of the church of St Nicholas
in 1816, a general panikhida was served over them. The restoration of
the liturgical commemoration of St. Macarius of Belev is credited to
Igumen Jonah, who was born on January 22 (the Feast of St
Macarius), and who began his own monastic journey at the Optina
monastery not far from the Zhabyn monastery. In 1875 Igumen Jonah
became head of the Zhabyn monastery. His request to re-establish the
Feast of St. Macarius was strengthened by the petition of the people
of Belev, who through the centuries had preserved their faith in the
saint. On January 22, 1888, the annual commemoration of St.
Macarius of Zhabyn was resumed. In 1889, a church dedicated to St.
Macarius was built at his tomb. Igumen Jonah, who lived at the
393

monastery and actually participated in the construction, decided that


in addition to the building project, the holy relics of St. Macarius
would also be uncovered. When everything was on the point of
readiness, St. Macarius appeared to the participants and sternly
warned them that they should not proceed with their intention, or
they would be punished. The memory of this appearance was
reverently preserved among the monks of the monastery. St. Macarius
of Zhabynsk is also commemorated on September 22.

TODAY IS JUNE 23

Righteous Saint Artemius of Verkola


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Holy Righteous St. Artemius of Verkola was born in the village of


Dvina Verkola around the year 1532. The son of pious parents,
Artemius was a child who was courageous, meek and diligent for
every good deed. On June 23, 1545 the twelve-year-old Artemius and
his father were taken by surprise in a field by a thunderstorm. A clap
of thunder broke right over their heads, and the child Artemius fell
dead from a lighting strike. People thought that this was a sign of
Gods judgment, therefore they left the body in a pine forest without a
funeral, and without burial. Some years later in 1577, the village
reader beheld a light over the place where the body Artemius lay. His
remains were found incorrupt and was taken to the church of St.
Nicholas, where the holy relics were shown to be a source of
numerous healings. In this village a monastery was later built, called
394

the Verkola. In 1918, the impious Soviets chopped the holy relics into
pieces and threw them into a well.

TODAY IS JUNE 24

Saint John of Jerusaem


DAY OF CELEBRATION

John the Baptist is one of the most distinctive characters in the New
Testament. He had an unusual flair for fashion, wearing wild-looking
clothing made of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist. He
lived in the desert wilderness, ate locust and wild honey and
preached a strange message. Unlike so many people, John the
Baptist knew his mission in life. He clearly understood that he had
been set apart by God for a purpose. Through God's direction, John
the Baptist challenged the people to prepare for the coming of the
Messiah by turning away from sin and being baptized as a symbol of
repentance. Although he held no power or influence in the Jewish
political system, he delivered his message with the force of authority.
People could not resist the overpowering truth of his words, as they
flocked by the hundreds to hear him and be baptized. And even as he
attracted the attention of the crowds, he never lost sight of his
missionto point people to Christ. John's mother, Elizabeth, was a
395

relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The two women were pregnant
at the same time. The Bible says in Luke 1:41, when the two
expectant mothers met, the baby leaped within Elizabeth's womb as
she was filled with the Holy Spirit. The angel Gabriel had already
foretold the miraculous birth and prophetic ministry of John the
Baptist to his father Zechariah. The news was a joyous answer to
prayer for the previously barren Elizabeth. John was to become the
God-ordained messenger proclaiming the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus
Christ. The remarkable ministry of John the Baptist included the
Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. John did not lack boldness as
he challenged even Herod to repent of his sins. In approximately 29
AD, Herod Antipas had John the Baptist arrested and put in prison.
Later John was beheaded through a plot devised by Herodias, the
illegal wife of Herod and ex-wife of his brother, Philip. In Luke 7:28,
Jesus declared John the Baptist to be the greatest man to have ever
lived: "I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater
than John ..." John's greatest strength was his focused and faithful
commitment to the call of God on his life. Taking the Nazirite vow for
life, he personified the term "set apart for God." John knew he had
been given a specific job to do and he set out with singular obedience
to fulfill that mission. He didn't just talk about repentance from sin.
He lived with boldness of purpose throughout his uncompromising
mission, willing to die a martyr for his stand against sin. Undoubtedly,
moments after his beheading John the Baptist must have heard his
master say, "Well done!"

TODAY IS JUNE 25

Saint Febronia, the Wonderworker of Murom


DAY OF CELEBRATION
396

Holy Prince Peter and Holy Princess Febronia, Wonderworkers of


Murom. Prince Peter was the second son of the Murom prince Yuri
Vladimirovich. He entered upon the throne of Murom in the year 1203.
Several years before this St. Peter had fallen ill with leprosy, from
which no one was able to heal him. In a vision it was revealed to the
prince that the daughter of a bee-keeper would be able to heal him:
the pious maiden Febronia, a peasant of Laskova village in Ryazan
gubernia. St. Peter sent his emissaries to this village. When the prince
saw St. Febronia, he fell in love with her because of her piety, wisdom
and virtue, and vowed to marry her after being healed. St. Febronia
healed the prince and became his wife. The holy couple loved each
other through all their ordeals. The haughty boyars of Murom did not
wish to have a princess of common origin, and they urged that the
prince leave her. St. Peter refused, and so they banished the couple.
They sailed off on a boat from their native city along the River Oka,
and St. Febronia continued to console St. Peter. Soon the wrath of
God fell upon the city of Murom, and the people begged the prince
return together with St. Febronia. For the remainder of her life, St.
Febronia healed people by placing her hands on their head and
praying for the illness to leave the person. Everyone who St. Febronia
prayed for was always healed, and she always gave the credit for the
healing to the Glory of God. The holy couple was famous for their
piety and charity. They died on the same day and hour, June 25, 1228,
having received the monastic tonsure with the names David and
Evphrosyne. The bodies of the saints were put in the same grave. Sts.
397

Peter and Febronia showed themselves exemplary models of Christian


marriage, and are considered the patron saints of newly-weds.

TODAY IS JUNE 26

Saint Dionysius the Archbishop of Suzdal


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Dionysius, Archbishop of Suzdal, in the world David, was


tonsured at the Kievan Caves monastery. He arrived at the Volga with
an icon of the Mother of God that he had received as a blessing from
Sts. Anthony and Theodosius. St. Dionysius dug out a cave not far
from Nizhni-Novgorod and struggled in total solitude. Brethren
constantly thronged to the holy ascetic and in the year 1335 he
founded a monastery in honor of the Ascension of the Lord. Among his
students of St. Dionysius were Sts. Euthymius of Suzdal (April 1) and
Macarius of Zheltovod and Unzha (July 25). In the year 1352 the holy
Elder sent twelve of his brethren to the upper cities and countryside,
whom God would bless for the spiritual enlightenment of the people
and the organizing of new monasteries. The monastery of St.
Dionysius exerted a deep charitable influence on the inhabitants of
Nizhni-Novgorod.
monasticism

the

In

the

year

1371

forty-year-old

the

widow

saint
of

tonsured
Prince

into

Andrew

Constantinovich, an example of how he accepted into monasticism


various dignitaries: women, widowers, and virgins. In the year 1374
St. Dionysius was deemed worthy of the office of bishop. His years of
398

service as bishop occurred during a remarkable period, for Russia


was rising to cast off the Mongol-Tatar Yoke. On March 31, 1375 the
Tatar military-chief, having been shown to the bishops court by the
enslaved inhabitants of Nizhni-Novgorod, shot an arrow at St.
Dionysius, but the Lord preserved his chosen one, and the arrow
struck only the bishops mantle. In 1377, through the blessing of St.
Dionysius (who may have edited the document), the Lavrentian
Chronicle was compiled by St. Laurence, inspiring Russia in its
struggle for freedom. In 1379, preserving the integrity of the first
hierarchs cathedra, St. Dionysius was one of the bishops gathered in
Moscow by order of the prince, and he came out against the election
of the princes protge, the ill-reputed archimandrite Mityaya as
Metropolitan. In the same year of 1379 St. Dionysius journeyed to
Constantinople with a protest against the choice of Mityaya on
grounds of his complicity with the heretical Strigolniki. The saint
made a strong impression upon the Greeks by his sublime spiritual
frame of mind and his profound knowledge of Holy Scripture. Patriarch
Nilus, having termed the saint a warrior of God and a spiritual man,
wrote that he himself saw him at fasting and charity, and vigil, and
prayers, and tears, and every other virtue. From Constantinople St.
Dionysius sent two copies of the Hodigitria Icon of the Mother of God
to a Council at Suzdal. In 1382 the bishop received the title of
archbishop from the patriarch. Returning to Russia, the saint travelled
to Pskov and Novgorod to struggle against the heresy of the
Strigolniki. He visited Constantinople a second time in 1383 for
discussion with the patriarch on questions about the governance of
the Russian metropolitanate. In the year 1384 St. Dionysius was made
metropolitan for Russia by Patriarch Nilus. But upon his return to
Kiev the saint was arrested on orders of the Kiev prince Vladimir
Olgerdovich and subjected to imprisonment, where he died on
October 15, 1385. The burial of the saint was in the Kiev Cave of the
399

Great Anthony. St. Dionysius is commemorated on June 26 because


it is the Feast of his patron saint, St. David of Thessalonica, whose
name he was given in Baptism. In the Synodikon of the 1552 NizhniNovgorod Caves monastery, St. Dionysius is called a wonderworking
monk.

TODAY IS JUNE 27

Saint Sampson the Hospitable of Constantinople


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Sampson the Hospitable was the son of rich and illustrious
Roman parents. In his youth he received an excellent education, he
studied the medical arts, and doctored the sick without charge. After
the death of his parents St. Sampson generously distributed alms and
set his slaves free, preparing himself to go into the wilderness. With
this intent in mind he soon journeyed from Rome to the East. But the
Lord directed him onto a different path, that of service to neighbor,
and so St. Sampson came to Constantinople. Settling into a small
house, the saint began to take in homeless wanderers, the poor and
the sick, and he attended to them. The Lord blessed the efforts of St.
Sampson and endowed him with the power of wonderworking. He
healed the sick not only through being a skilled physician, but also as
a bearer of the grace of God. News of St. Sampson spread abroad. The
400

patriarch heard of his great virtue and ordained him to the holy
priesthood. It was revealed to the grievously ill Emperor Justinian
(527-565), that he could receive healing only through St. Sampson. In
praying, the saint put his hand on the afflicted area, and Justinian
was healed. In gratitude the emperor wanted to reward his healer
with silver and gold, but the saint refused and instead asked Justinian
to build a home for the poor and the sick. The emperor readily fulfilled
his request. St. Sampson devoted the rest of his life to serving his
neighbor. He survived into old age and after a short illness he
departed peacefully to the Lord. The saint was buried at the church of
the holy Martyr Mocius, and many healings were affected at his grave.
His hospice remained open, and the saint did not cease to care for the
suffering. He appeared twice to a negligent worker of the hospice and
upbraided him for his laziness. At the request of an admirer of St.
Sampson the hospice was transformed into a church, and beside it a
new edifice was built for the homeless. During the time of a powerful
fire at Constantinople the flames did not touch the hospice of St.
Sampson. Through his intercession a heavy rain quenched the fire.

401

TODAY IS JUNE 28

Saint Sergius The Wonderworker Of Valaam


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Sergius settled on the island of Valaam in 1329. The brethren


gathered by him spread the light of Orthodoxy in this frontier land.
The Karelian people began to regard Christianity with renewed
suspicion,

with

its

authority

in

the

fourteenth

century

being

undermined by the Swedes, who sought to spread Catholicism by


means of the sword. Saint Sergius struggled to maintain orthodoxy to
the Karelian people during this turbulent and dangers time. God
granted Saint Sergius the gift of healing which kept the Karelian
people in the fold of orthodoxy. St. Sergius died about the year 1353.

TODAY IS JUNE 29

Saint Cassius of Narni


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Cassius is venerated as a saint. He was a bishop of Narni in


Umbria from 537 to 558, the date of his death. As Bishop, he made a
402

blind woman see, a lame man walk and drove out demons from
possessed people. He was praised by St. Gregory the Great, and was
noted for his charity. Cassius died at Rome after going on pilgrimage
there. Cassius was married; his wife's name was Fausta. In the year
878, Cassius relics were taken to Basilica di San Frediano in Lucca
with those of Saints Juvenal of Narni and Cassius' wife Fausta. They
were taken by Adalbert, Margrave of Tuscany, but all of the relics
were returned to Narni two years later. The relics of Saint Cassius
were built in a restored shrine later known as the Sacello di San

Cassio. Juvenals relics are said to have been hidden.

TODAY IS JUNE 30

Holy Queen Saint Dinar


DAY OF CELEBRATION

The Church has preserved chronicles of the life of Queen Dinar, a


woman who achieved much on behalf of the Christian Faith. For years
scholars have disputed about the historical figure discussed in great
depth in the Church. Many believed that the sources described Holy
Queen Tamar, but the period of Tamars rule does not match that of
the figure described in the chronicles. The Georgian chronicle Kartli,
however, has preserved information about a certain Dinar, Queen of
Hereti (southeastern Georgia), who, along with her son Ishkhanik,
converted Hereti to the Orthodox Faith and delivered its people from
the Monophysite heresy in the 10th century. Queen Dinars story
403

resembles that recounted in the Chronicles more closely than any


other. According to the Armenian historian Moses of Kalankaytuk,
Slavic

tribes

that

carried

out

incursions

in

the

southernmost

Caucasus often journeyed through the Transcaucasus, and it was


with these tribes that the story of Queen Dinar made its way to
Russia. The Georgian Church renders great honor to Holy Queen
Dinar. As a result of her zealous labors and achievements, a large part
of the eastern Transcaucasus was saved from the Monophysite
heresy that dominated the region. Today, on the north wall of the
Throne Hall in the Moscow Kremlin, there hangs an image of Holy
Queen Saint Dinar mounted on a white horse, victorious over the
enemy.

404

405

TODAY IS JULY 1

Saint Leontius of Radauti


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Leontius was born in Radauti, Moldavia in the fourteenth


century. He was named Laurence when he received the monastic
tonsure. In time he was found worthy of ordination to the holy
priesthood, and founded a monastery near Radauti, which later
became known as St. Laurences Monastery. Among his many
disciples was St. Daniel the Hesychast. Because of his holy life, he
received from God the grace of working miracles. Many sick people
were healed by his prayers, and he became a father, teacher, and
protector to all. Prince Alexander the Good recommended that he be
made Bishop of Radauti. St. Leontius led his flock with wisdom for
many years, then retired to live alone in the wilderness. He received
the Great Schema with the name of Leontius, and departed to the
Lord soon afterward. His holy relics were found incorrupt, and many
people received healing at his tomb. St. Leontius was glorified by the
Orthodox Church of Romania in 1992.

TODAY IS JULY 2

Saint Juvenaly of Alaska


DAY OF CELEBRATION
406

The holy, glorious, right-victorious hieromarty Juvenaly of Alaska, or


Juvenal, Protomartyr of America, was a member of the first group of
Orthodox missionaries who came from the monastery of Valaam to
preach the Word of God to the native inhabitants of Alaska. He was
martyred while evangelizing among the Eskimos on the mainland of
Alaska in 1796. He was born in 1761 in Ekaterinburg, Russia, and was
named Jacob Govouchkin. In his monastic life he was tonsured and
given the name Juvenaly in memory of St. Juvenal, fifth century
Patriarch of Jerusalem. After becoming a monk he was successively
ordained deacon and then priest, becoming a hieromonk. He lived
much of his early monastic life in the area around Lake Ladoga in
northern

Russia

near

Finland

at

the

Konyavesky

and

Valaam

Monasteries. In 1793, a missionary group of eight monastics was


organized at the Monastery of Valaam, near Lake Ladoga, to preach
the Word of God to the natives of Alaska. This group of missionaries
was led by Archimandrite Joseph (Bolotov), and included four
hieromonks including Juvenaly and Makary, one hierodeacon, Steven,
and two lay monks including Herman. Their destination was the
Russian settlement on Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska, some 8,000
miles away across the length of Asia through Siberia and then the
cold Bering Sea of the northern Pacific Ocean. The group arrived on
Kodiak Island on September 24, 1794, to an unexpected scene. The
settlement was primitive beyond what they were told, and violence
407

was commonplace. The promised church was not there, and the
promised supplies for three years were absent. While Archimandrite
Joseph dealt with the leadership issues with Baranov, the leader of
the settlement, Hieromonk Juvenaly and the others in their party
began their missionary work. Within two years their zeal had brought
more than 12,000 Alaskans to the Orthodox Christian faith. They did
this not by degrading their former shaman based faith but by showing
them that Christianity was the fulfillment of that faith. As the group
continued preaching further away from the settlement on Kodiak,
Hieromonk Juvenaly began missionary work on the mainland of
Alaska 1796. Here he continued the success of the past two years as
he baptized hundreds of Chugach Sugpiag and Athabaskan Indians.
But as his mission continued along northwest toward the Bering Sea,
he disappeared. No material evidence of his disappearance has been
found, but among the Alaskan people oral tradition relates of his
martyrdom. The tradition is that as he moved into territory inhabited
by Eskimos, some Eskimos did not understand some of his gesturing
while making the sign of the cross. Disturbed, a Yupiat shaman
ordered an attack upon the hieromonk, and he was killed by spears
and arrows. Thus, Juvenaly became the first Orthodox martyr in the
Americas.

408

TODAY IS JULY 3

Saint George the God-Bearer


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint George the God-bearer and Recluse labored in the Black


Mountains near Antioch during a time when the churches and
monasteries there flourished. Orthodox Christians from many parts of
the world came to settle there, and as a result, tensions often arose
between monks of different nationalities. In order to remain detached
from the conflicts, St. George found refuge in an impregnable cleft of
a very high mountain. For this reason he is also called St. George the
Recluse. Nevertheless, the monks of the Black Mountains were well
aware of the pious life led by George the Recluse. Venerable George
of the Holy Mountain journeyed to the Black Mountains in search of a
spiritual guide and, after praying in each and every monastery, finally
asked St. George the Recluse, a man innocent as a dove, to fill this
role. George the Recluse received the young ascetic and found a
home for him in the monastery. His disciple remained with him for
three years, leading the strictest ascetic life, until finally George the
Recluse clothed him with the schema and perfected him in the
monastic life. Then, after sending him on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem,
he blessed George of the Holy Mountain to resettle at the Iveron
Monastery on Mt. Athos and to continue the holy work of St. Ekvtime
of Mt. Athos in translating holy books. George of the Holy Mountain
returned to the Holy Mountain but, instead of translating books as his
spiritual father had advised him, he performed other obediences for
409

seven years. When St. George the Recluse heard this, he sent his
disciple Theodore to Mt. Athos to rebuke him and remind him that he
was sent there to translate theological texts from the Greek to the
Georgian language. This time George of the Holy Mountain humbly
obeyed the will of his teacher. When he was not with George of the
Holy Mountain, St. George the Recluse confined himself to strict
solitude and, like his spiritual son, dedicated much of his time to
literary pursuits. He was closely acquainted with the writers of Iveron
and other Georgian monasteries, and he encouraged his spiritual son
to continue his labor of translating Orthodox theological literature. St.
George the Recluse copied Davit Mtbevaris translations of the Life of

Martha (the mother of Simeon of the Wonderful Mountain) and the Life
of St. Barlaam of the Syro-Caucasus. When George the Recluse heard
that no copies of these Lives existed on Mt. Athos, he transcribed the
texts and sent them to the Athonites. St. George the God-bearer and
reposed in 1068, after the death of his venerable disciple St. George
of the Holy Mountain.

TODAY IS JULY 4

Saint Andrew the Archbishop of Crete


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Andrew, Archbishop of Crete, was born in the city of Damascus


into a pious Christian family. Up until seven years of age the boy was
mute and did not talk. However, after communing the Holy Mysteries
410

of Christ he found the gift of speech and began to speak. From that
time the lad began earnestly to study Holy Scripture and the iscipline
of theology. At fourteen years of age he went off to Jerusalem and
there he accepted monastic tonsure at the monastery of St. Sava the
Sanctified. St. Andrew led a strict and chaste life, he was meek and
abstinent, such that all were amazed at his virtue and reasoning of
mind. As a man of talent and known for his virtuous life, over the
passage of time he came to be numbered among the Jerusalem clergy
and was appointed a secretary for the Patriarchate -- a writing clerk.
In the year 680 the locum tenens of the Jerusalem Patriarchate,
Theodore, included archdeacon Andrew among the representatives of
the Holy City sent to the Sixth Ecumenical Council, and here the saint
contended against heretical teachings, relying upon his profound
knowledge of Orthodox doctrine. Shortly after the Council he was
summoned back to Constantinople from Jerusalem and he was
appointed archdeacon at the church of Hagia Sophia, the Wisdom of
God. During the reign of the emperor Justinian II (685-695) St. Andrew
was ordained bishop of the city of Gortineia on the island of Crete. In
his new position he shone forth as a true luminary of the Church, a
great hierarch -- a theologian, teacher and hymnographer. St. Andrew
wrote many liturgical hymns. He was the originator of a new liturgical
form -- the canon. Of the canons composed by him the best known is
the Great Penitential Canon, including within its 9 odes the 250
troparia recited during the Great Lent. There have also been
preserved edifying Sermons of St. Andrew for certain of the Church
feasts. While Bishop, he was one of the people. His healing prayers
were offered to any person who asked, usually resulting in miraculous
healing. Church historians are not of the same opinion as to the date
of death of the saint. One suggests the year 712, while others the
year 726. He died on the island of Mytilene, while returning to Crete
from Constantinople, where he had been on churchly business. His
411

relics were transferred to Constantinople. In the year 1350 the pious


Russian

pilgrim

Stephen

Novgorodets

saw

the

relics

at

the

Constantinople monastery named for St. Andrew of Crete.

TODAY IS JULY 5

Saint Elizabeth the New Martyr of Russia


DAY OF CELEBRATION

St. Elizabeth was an older sister of the Empress Alexandra of Russia,


and was married to the Grand Duke Serge, a younger son of Tsar
Alexander III and the Governor of Moscow. She converted from the
Protestant faith to Orthodoxy several years after her marriage of her
own free will, and organized women from all levels of society to help
the sick and needy. Grand Duke Serge was killed by an assassins
bomb on February 4, 1905, just as St. Elizabeth was leaving for her
workshops. She visited her husbands killer in prison and urged him to
repent, giving him an icon. She eventually built a shrine over the site
of her husbands martyrdom (which was said to have been destroyed
by Vladimir Lenin himself in 1917). After her husbands murder, she
began to withdraw from her former social life. She founded the
Convent of Sts. Martha and Mary in Moscow, a community of nuns
which focused on worshiping God and helping the poor. She sold all
her fine clothes and jewels, and moved out of her palace into the
buildings that she had purchased on behalf of the convent. St.
412

Elizabeth and her sisters continued to visit the poor and hungry in
Moscow. During the First World War, she nursed sick and wounded
soldiers in the hospitals and on the battle front. She was respected
and admired throughout Russia and people came to her for spiritual
direction. After her brother-in-law, Tsar Nicholas II, abdicated the
throne and he and his family were placed under house arrest, St.
Elizabeth was urged to abandon her convent and seek shelter with
her remaining family in Western Europe. She refused all offers of help,
saying she would not leave the other sisters and would die in Russia if
that was His Will. On Pascha 1918, Soviet soldiers came to the
convent and ordered her to leave Moscow to join the royal family near
Ekaterinburg. She was allowed to leave with a novice, Sister Barbara,
but was not permitted to say goodbye to the other sisters. After
arriving in Ekaterinburg, St. Elizabeth was denied access to the Tsars
family. She and Sister Barbara were placed in a convent, where she
was warmly received by the sisters. At the end of May St. Elizabeth
and St. Barbara were moved to the nearby village of Alopaevsk with
the Grand Dukes Sergius, John, and Constantine, and the young Count
Vladimir Paley. They were all housed in a schoolhouse on the edge of
town. St. Elizabeth was placed under guard, but was permitted to go
to church and work in the garden. On the night of July 5, they were all
taken to a place in the woods, twelve miles from Alopaevsk, and
executed. Grand Duke Sergius was shot, but the others were thrown
down a mineshaft, with grenades being tossed in after them. St.
Elizabeth lived for several hours, and could be heard singing hymns by
local villagers who came up to the mineshaft after the murderers had
left. A few days later, the bodies of St. Elizabeth and St. Barbara were
recovered from the mineshaft after the pro-Tsarist armies took
Alopaevsk. They were ultimately taken to Jerusalem in 1920, and
buried in the church of St. Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives.

413

TODAY IS JULY 6

Saint Sisoes the Great


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Sisos the Great before the tomb of Alexander the Great
(16th c., Meteora Monastery), signifying the remembrance of death

Saint Sisos the Great, also Sisoi the Great, Sisoy the Great, Sisoes of
Scet or Shishoy (429) was a solitary monk, pursuing asceticism in
the Egyptian desert in a cave sanctified by the prayerful labors of his
predecessor, St. Anthony the Great. For his sixty years of labor in the
desert, St. Sisos attained to sublime spiritual purity and he was
granted the gift of wonderworking, so that by his prayers he once
restored a dead child back to life. His feast day is observed on July 6.
Saint Sisos was an Egyptian by birth. Having withdrawn the world
from his youth, he retired to the desert of Scet, and lived some time
under the direction of abbot Hor. The desire of finding a retreat yet
more unfrequented induced him to cross the Nile and hide himself in
the mountain where St. Antony died some time before. Extremely
strict with himself, Abba Sisos was very merciful and compassionate
to others, and he received everyone with love. The reputation of his
sanctity became so illustrious as to merit the full confidence of all the
neighboring solitaries. Some even came a great distance to be guided
in the interior ways of perfection; and, in spite of the pains he took he
was forced to submit his love of silence and retreat, to the greater
duty of charity. To those who visited him, the saint first of all always
taught humility, as the most necessary virtue. When one of the monks
asked how he might attain to a constant remembrance of God, St.
Sisos remarked, "That is no great thing, my son, but it is a great
414

thing to regard yourself as inferior to everyone else. This leads to the


acquisition of humility." Thus, while he never lost sight of the divine
presence, it was ever accompanied with the consciousness of his
own nothingness and misery. Asked by the monks whether one year is
sufficient for repentance if a brother sins, Abba Sisos said, "I trust in

the mercy of God that if such a man repents with all his heart, then
God will accept his repentance in three days." He often passed two
days without eating, and was so rapt in God that he forgot his food, so
that it was necessary for his disciple Abraham to remind him that it
was time to break his fast. His prayer was so fervent that it often
passed into ecstasy, his heart becoming inflamed with divine love. It
was a maxim with him that a solitary ought not to choose the manual
labor which is most pleasing to him. His ordinary work was making
baskets. He was tempted one day as he was selling them, to anger;
instantly he threw the baskets away and ran off. By efforts like these
to command his temper he acquired a meekness which nothing could
disturb. His zeal against vice was without bitterness; and when his
monks fell into faults, far from affecting astonishment or the language
of reproach, he helped them to rise again with a tenderness truly
paternal. Some Arians had the impudence to come to his mount, and
utter their heresy before his disciples. The saint, instead of an
answer, desired one of the monks to read St. Athanasiuss treatise
against

Arianism,

which

at

once

stopped

their

mouths

and

confounded them. He then dismissed them with his usual good


temper. The saint said one time, I am now thirty years praying daily

that my Lord Jesus may preserve me from saying an idle word, and
yet I am always relapsing. Thus he was singularly observant of the
times of retirement and silence, and kept his cell constantly locked to
avoid interruption, and always gave his answers to those who asked
his advice in the fewest words. When St. Sisos lay upon his
deathbed, the disciples surrounding the Elder saw that his face shone
415

like the sun. They asked the dying man what he saw. Abba Sisos
replied that he saw St. Anthony, the Prophets, and the Apostles. His
face increased in brightness, and he spoke with someone. The monks
asked, "With whom are you speaking, Father?" He said that angels
had come for his soul, and he was entreating them to give him a little
more time for repentance. The monks said, "You have no need for
repentance, Father" St. Sisos said with great humility, "I do not think
that I have even begun to repent." After these words the face of the
holy abba shone so brightly that the brethren were not able to look
upon him. St. Sisos told them that he saw the Lord Himself. Then
there was a flash like lightning, and a fragrant odor, and Abba Sisos
departed to the Heavenly Kingdom.

TODAY IS JULY 7

Martyr Saint Kyriake of Nicomedia


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Kyriake was the only child of Dorotheus and Eusebia. Since she
was born on a Sunday (Kyriake, in Greek), she was named Kyriake.
One day a wealthy magistrate wished to betroth Kyriake to his son.
Not only was she young and beautiful, but her parents were wealthy,
and the magistrate wished to control that wealth. The magistrate
went to her parents to request her hand, but St. Kyriake told him that
she wished to remain a virgin, for she had dedicated herself to Christ.
416

The magistrate was angered by her words, so he went to the emperor


Diocletian to denounce the saint and her parents as Christians who
mocked the idols, and refused to offer sacrifice to them. Diocletian
sent soldiers to arrest the family and have them brought before him.
He asked them why they would not honor the gods which he himself
honored. They told him that these were false gods, and that Christ
was the one true God. Dorotheus was beaten until the soldiers grew
tired and were unable to continue. Since neither flattery nor torment
had any effect, Diocletian sent Dorotheus and Eusebia to Melitene on
the eastern border between Cappadocia and Armenia. Then he sent
St. Kyriake to be interrogated by his son-in-law and co-ruler Maximian
at Nicomedia. Maximian urged her not to throw her life away,
promising her wealth and marriage to one of Diocletians relatives if
she would worship the pagan gods. St. Kyriake replied that she would
never renounce Christ, nor did she desire worldly riches. Enraged by
her bold answer, Maximian had her flogged. The soldiers who
administered this punishment became tired, and had to be replaced
three times. Shamed by his failure to overcome a young woman,
Maximian sent St. Kyriake to Hilarion, the eparch of Bithynia, at
Chalcedon. He told Hilarion to either convert Kyriake to paganism, or
send her back to him. Making the same promises and threats that
Diocletian and Maximian had made before, Hilarion was no more
successful than they were. St. Kyriake challenged him to do his
worst, because Christ would help her to triumph. The saint was
suspended by her hair for several hours, while soldiers burned her
body with torches. Not only did she endure all this, she also seemed
to become more courageous under torture. Finally, she was taken
down and put into a prison cell. That night Christ appeared to her and
healed her wounds. When Hilarion saw her the next day, he declared
that she had been healed by the gods because they pitied her. Then
Hilarion urged her to go to the temple to give thanks to the gods. She
417

told him that she had been healed by Christ, but agreed to go to the
temple. The eparch rejoiced, thinking that he had defeated her. In the
temple, St. Kyriake prayed that God would destroy the soulless idols.
Suddenly, there was a great earthquake which toppled the idols,
shattering them to pieces. Everyone fled the temple in fear, leaving
Hilarion behind. Instead of recognizing the power of Christ, the eparch
blasphemed the true God as the destroyer of his pagan gods. He was
struck by a bolt of lightning and died on the spot. St. Kyriake was
tortured again by Apollonius, who succeeded Hilarion as eparch.
When she was cast into a fire, the flames were extinguished. When
she was thrown to wild beasts, they became tame and gentle.
Therefore, Apollonius sentenced her to death by the sword. She was
permitted time to pray, so she asked God to receive her soul, and to
remember those who honored her martyrdom. Just as St. Kyriake
ended her prayer, angels took her soul before the soldiers could strike
off her head. Pious Christians took her relics and buried them in a
place of honor.

418

TODAY IS JULY 8

Saint Sunniva of Norway


DAY OF CELEBRATION

St. Sunniva was born in the tenth century and is the patron saint of
the Norwegian Orthodox Diocese of Bjrgvin, as well as all of Western
Norway. She was the heir of an Irish kingdom, but had to escape with
her brother and others when a pagan king, who wanted to marry her,
invaded. She and her companions became shipwrecked off the coast
of Norway, but eventually landed on Silje Island where they took
refuge in a cave. The local people suspected them of stealing their
sheep and demanded that they be arrested. Sunniva prayed to God
that they should not fall into the hands of the heathens, upon which
rocks fell down blocking the entrance to the cave. Sunniva and her
companions died in the cave, but in the years to come miracles were
reported on the island. When King Olaf Tryggvason excavated the
cave in 996, the body of Sunniva was found intact. Later, a monastery,
Selje Abbey, was built on the site, the ruins of which can still be seen.
During the fires in Bergen in 1170-71 and in 1198. Sunnivas remains
were taken from the monastery and placed near the flames. This
action halted the advance of the fire and was hailed as a miracle.
419

TODAY IS JULY 9

Saint Theodoros the Great Ascetic


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Our father Saint Theodoros the Great Ascetic (also known as St.
Theodore of Edessa and St. Theodore the Syrian) was a monk of the
monastery of St. Savas near Jerusalem. In 835, he was asked by the
Bishop of Jerusalem to take the Gospel of Christ to the Islamic area
of Edessa. The missionary work was difficult, but by 846 there was a
thriving community of Orthodox believers.

In 849, the Jerusalem

Patriarch made Theodoros bishop of Edessa in Syria. In the middle of


the 9th century, St. Theodoros of Edessa converted the "Saracen
king," Muawid, one of the three sons of the Umayyad caliph
Mutawakkil (847-861 A.D.), to Orthodoxy, baptizing him with the name

John together with his three confidants. His Life was written by
Basil of Emesa. The work A Century of Spiritual Texts is included in
the Philokalia and is believed to have been written by St.
Theodoros.

TODAY IS JULY 10

Saint Amalberga of Maubeuge


DAY OF CELEBRATION

420

Saint Amalberga of Maubeuge was a Lotharingian saint who lived in


the 7th century. She was the sister or niece of Pippin of Landen. She
married Prince Witger, Duke of Lotharingia and Count of Brabant. She
was the mother of early Orthodox Church leaders Emebert, Reineldis,
Pharaildis and Gudula.

In 724, Prince Witger became very ill.

doctors were unable to help the Prince.

The

After weeks of torturous

pain, Amalberga had the Prince moved to and placed on the altar of
the familys chapel.

Amalberga placed her hands on his head and

prayed to the Holy Mother to heal him.

Amalberga prayed for the

Prince, without moving for three days. At the end of the third day, the
Prince opened his eyes, sat up and was healed. This was witnessed
by 72 people who had crowded into the chapel to watch the strange
prayers of Amalberga. When forty two years later, weeks before his
death, Witger became a monk at Lobbes, St. Amalberga joined the
monastic community at Maubeuge Abbey. Her feast is celebrated on
July 10. (Amalberga of Maubeuge is not to be confused with the virgin
Amalberga of Temse who died in 722, and whose feast day is also on
July 10.)

421

TODAY IS JULY 11

Saint Olga in Baptism Called Helen


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Olga, was the wife of the Kievan Great Prince Igor. The struggle
of Christianity with paganism under Igor and Olga, who reigned after
Oleg (+ 912), entered into a new phase. The Church of Christ in the
years following the reign of Igor (+ 945) became a remarkable
spiritual and political force in the realm. The preserved text of a
treaty of Igor with the Greeks in the year 944 gives indication of this:
it was included by the chronicler in the Tale of Bygone Years, under
the entry recording the events of the year 6453 (945). The peace
treaty had to be sworn to by both the religious communities:
Baptized, i.e. the Christian, took place in the cathedral church of the
holy Prophet of God Elias; Unbaptized, i.e. the pagans, in turn swore
their oath on their weapons in the sanctuary of Perun the Thunderer.
The fact, that Christians are included in the document in the first
place, indicates their significant spiritual influence in the life of
Kievan. When the Byzantine emissaries arrived, conditions along the
River Dneipr had essentially changed. A pagan opposition had clearly
emerged, at the head of which stood the Varangian voevoda (militaryleader) Sveneld (or Sveinald) and his son Mstislav (Mtsisha) to whom
Igor had given holdings in the Drevlyani lands. Strong also was the
influence of the Khazar Jews, who could not but be displeased with
the thought of the triumph of Orthodoxy. Unable to overcome the
customary inertia, Igor remained a pagan and he concluded the treaty
422

in the pagan manner, swearing an oath on his sword. He refused the


grace of Baptism and was punished for his unbelief. A year later, in
945, rebellious pagans murdered him in the Drevlyanian land, cut
down betwixt two trees. But the days of paganism and the lifestyle of
the Slavic tribes basic to it were already numbered. The burden of
government fell upon the widow of Igor -- the Great-princess Olga, and
her three-year-old son Svyatoslav. Igors wife also had the Varangian
name Helga, which is pronounced Olga. The feminine name Olga
corresponds to the masculine name Oleg (Helgi), which means
holy [from Germanic heilig for holy]. Although the pagan
understanding of holiness was quite different from the Christian, it
also presupposed within a man a particular frame of reference, of
chastity and sobriety of mind, and of insight. The fact that people
called Oleg the Wise-Seer (Veschi) and Olga the Wise (Mudra)
shows the spiritual significance of names. Rather later traditions
regard her a native of a village named Vybuta, several kilometers from
Pskov up along the River Velika. The beginning of the independent
rule of Princess Olga is connected in the chronicles with the narrative
about her terrible revenge on the Drevlyani, who murdered Igor.
Having sworn their oaths on their swords and believing only in their
swords, the pagans were doomed by the judgment of God to also
perish by the sword (Mt. 26: 52). Worshipping fire among the other
primal elements, they found their own doom in the fire. And the Lord
chose Olga to fulfill the fiery chastisement. The struggle for the
subordination to the Kievan center of mutually divisive and hostile
tribes and principalities paved the way towards the ultimate victory of
Christianity in the Land. For Olga, though still a pagan, the Christian
Church and its Heavenly patron saint the holy Prophet of God Elias [in
icons depicted upon a fiery chariot] stood as a flaming faith and
prayer of a fire come down from the heavens, and her victory over the
Drevlyanidespite the severe harshness of her victory, was a victory
423

of Christian constructive powers in the realm over the powers of a


paganism, dark and destructive. The God-wise Olga entered into
history as a great builder of the civil life and culture of Kievan. The
chronicles

are

filled

with

accounts

of

her

incessant

goings

throughout the land with the aim of the well-being and improvement
of the civil and domestic manner of life of her subjects. Having
consolidated the inner strengthening of the might of the greatprincely throne, thereby weakening the influence of the hodge-podge
of petty local princes, Olga centralized the whole of state rule with
the help of the system of pogosti (administrative trade centers). In
the year 946 she went with her son and retinue through the Drevlyani
land, imposing tribute and taxes, noting the villages, inns and
hunting places, liable for inclusion in the great-princely holdings. The
next year she went to Novgorod, establishing administrative centers
along the Rivers Msta and Luga, everywhere leaving visible traces of
her

activity.

The

pogosti

established

by

Olga,

as

financial-

administrative and law-court centers, represented sturdy props of


great-princely power in these places. Being first of all, and in the
actual sense of the word, centers of trade and exchange (the
merchant as guest) gathered together and became organized
around the settlements (and in place of the humanly arbitrary
gathering of tribute and taxes, there now existed uniformity and order
with the pogosti system). Olgas pogosti became an important
network of the ethnic and cultural unification of the nation. Later on,
when Olga had become a Christian, they began to erect the first
churches at the pogosti; and church (parish) became inseparably
associated. (It was only afterwards with the existence of cemeteries
alongside churches that there developed the current meaning of the
word pogost to nowadays signify parish graveyard). Princess Olga
exerted much effort to fortify the defensive might of the land. The
cities were built up and strengthened, they were enclosed with stone
424

and oak walls (battlements), and they bristled them with ramparts
and palisades. Knowing how hostile many were to the idea of
strengthening the princely power and the unification, the princess
herself lived constantly on the hill over the Dneipr, behind the trusty
battlements of Kievan Vyshgorod (Verkhna-gorod or Upper-city),
surrounded by her faithful retainers. Two thirds of the gathered
tribute, as the chroniclers testify, she gave over for the use of the
Kiev veche (city-council), and the remaining one third went to Olga,
for Vyshgorod -- for the needs of building fortifications. Foreigners
hastened to Gardarika (the land of cities), with merchandise and
craftwares.

Swedes,

Danes,

Germans

all

eagerly

entered

as

mercenaries into the army. In her heart the wise Olga found the desire
for holy Orthodoxy, and she made the decision to become a Christian.
The sacrament of Baptism was made over her by the Constantinople
Patriarch Theophylactus (933-956), and her godfather was the
emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitos (912-959). At Baptism she was
given the name Helen in honor of Helen, the mother of St.
Constantine. At the conclusion of the rite, the Patriarch said: Blessed
are you among women, for you have forsaken the darkness and have
loved the Light. The people shall bless you in all the future
generations,

from

your

grandson

and

great-grandson

to

your

furthermost descendants. He instructed her in the truths of the Faith,


the churchly rules and the rule of prayer, he explained the commands
about fasting, chastity and charity. She, however, says the Monk
Nestor, bowed her head and stood, literally like a sponge absorbing
water, listening to the teaching, and bowing down to the Patriarch,
she said, By your prayers, O Master, let me be preserved from the
wiles of enemies. During the time of the reception, as Constantine
Porphyrogenitos relates, the Russian princess was presented a
golden plate inset with jewels. St. Olga offered it to the vestry of the
Sophia cathedral, where at the beginning of the thirteenth century it
425

was

seen

Yadeikovich

and

described

(who

by

the

afterwards

was

Russian
to

diplomat

become

the

Dobrynya
Novgorod

archbishop Anthony): The large golden official plate of Olga, when


she took it as tribute, having come to Constantinople; upon the plate
be precious stones, and upon it is written in these stones the name
Christ. St. Olga, after becoming a Christian, zealously devoted
herself to efforts of Christian evangelization among the pagans, and
also church construction: demanding the distressing of demons and
the beginning of life for Christ Jesus. Her days were numbered, and
her burdens and sorrows sapped her strength. On July 11, 969 St.
Olga died: and with great lament they mourned her, her son and
grandsons and all the people. In her final years, amidst the triumph
of paganism, she had to have a priest by her secretly, so she would
not evoke new outbursts of pagan fanaticism. But before death,
having found anew her former firmness and resolve, she forbade them
to make over her the pagan celebration of the dead, and she gave
final instructions to bury her openly in accord with Orthodox ritual.
Presbyter Gregory, who was with her at Constantinople in 957,
fulfilled her request. St. Olga lived, died, and was buried as a
Christian. And thus having lived and well having glorified God in
Trinity, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, having worshipped in the
blessed faith, she ended her life in the peace of Christ Jesus, our
Lord. As her prophetic testament to succeeding generations, with
deep Christian humility she confessed her faith concerning her nation:
Gods will be done! If it pleases God to have mercy upon my native
land, then they shall turn their hearts to God, just as I have received
this gift. Thus even after death St. Olga espoused life eternal and
resurrection, filling believers with joy and confounding non-believers.
She was, in the words of St. Nestor the Chronicler, a precursor in the
Christian land, like the dawn before sunrise or the twilight before the
light.
426

TODAY IS JULY 12

Saint John the Georgian of Mount Athos


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint John was born the son of a nobleman during the reign of King
Davit Kuropalates. For his love of Christ he left his family and the
world to be tonsured a monk. After informing the royal court of his
decision, St. John received a blessing from his spiritual father to
travel to Greece, where he settled at a monastery on Mt. Olympus. At
that time, as a sign of friendship, the Byzantine emperor returned
the Georgian lands he had conquered to King Davit Kuropalates, but
as a sign of dedication, he demanded that children of the nobility be
sent as surety. Among those sent to Byzantium was St. Johns son,
Ekvtime. St. John begged the Byzantine emperor to release his son,
and when Ekvtime was finally freed, John took him back with him to
the Monastery of St. Athanasius the Athonite. At that time the famed
Georgian military commander Tornike Eristavi came to visit St. John.
Tornike was soon tonsured a monk and given the new name JohnTornike, and he settled at the Monastery of St. Athanasius the
Athonite as well. Soon the Georgian faithful began to flock to the
Monastery of St. Athanasius, and St. John withdrew from the
monastery to a more secluded place, where he constructed a cell and
a church in honor of St. John the Theologian. Two more churches
were later built in that same area in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos
427

and St. John the Baptist.

In such a way the celebrated Iveron

Monastery of Mt. Athos was established, with St. John as its first
abbot. After the repose of his faithful friend and assistant JohnTornike, it became difficult for St. John to continue to labor on the
Holy Mountain. He and several of his disciples planned to leave Athos,
but in the end they remained at the insistence of the Byzantine
emperor. St. John soon fell ill with gout and was bedridden for several
years. Prior to his death he summoned his son, Ekvtime, confessed to
him his sins, and designated him abbot of the Iveron Monastery, then
blessed all the brothers and fell asleep among the ranks of the
righteous in the arms of his son. Ekvtime robed the holy relics of his
fleshly and spiritual father in costly linens and later erected a church
in honor of the Archangels over his grave.

TODAY IS JULY 13

Saint Stephen of Saint Sava Monastery


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Stephen of St. Savas Monastery, the nephew of St. John of


Damascus, was born in the year 725. When he was ten years old he
entered the Lavra of St. Sava the Sanctified and was tonsured as a
monk. He spent his whole life at this monastery, sometimes going out
into the desert to live in solitude and devote himself to spiritual
struggles. St. Stephens holy life was so pleasing to God that he was
given the gifts of wonderworking and clairvoyance. He healed the
428

sick, cast out devils, and was able to discern the thoughts of those
who came to him for counsel. He fell asleep in the Lord in the year
794, foretelling in advance the day of his death. The Life of St.
Stephen was compiled by his disciple Leontius. (Todays saint should
not be confused with the other St. Stephen of St. Savas Monastery
who is commemorated on October 28.)

TODAY IS JULY 14

Venerable Saint Hellius of Egypt


DAY OF CELEBRATION

St. Hellius lived and died in the fourth century. He was sent to a
monastery when he was still a child. There he was raised in piety,
temperance and chastity. When he grew up, he went into the Egyptian
desert, where through his ascetical struggles he attained great
proficiency in the spiritual life. He was endowed with the gift of
clairvoyance, and he knew all the thoughts and disposition of the
monks conversing with him. Great faith, simplicity of soul and deep
humility allowed St. Hellius to command wild animals. Once, the saint
became tired while carrying a heavy load to the monastery. He prayed
and called a wild donkey to carry his burden. The donkey meekly
carried the load to the place and was set free to return to the
wilderness. Another time, when St. Hellius needed to cross a river and
there was no boat, he summoned a crocodile from the water and
crossed to the opposite shore while standing on its back. One of the
429

young novices of the monastery, whom St. Hellius visited, asked him
to take him along into the far desert. St. Hellius warned him about the
great work, exploits and temptations which inevitably beset all the
hermits, but since the novice continued fervently to ask, he took him
along. On the first night the novice, frightened by terrible visions, ran
to St. Hellius. The monk comforted and calmed him down and ordered
him to return. Tracing the Sign of the Cross over the cave, the monk
told the young hermit not to fear, because he would not be disturbed
by these apparitions any more. Trusting the word of the saint, the
novice decided to remain in solitude and afterwards attained such
perfection that he, like his teacher Hellius, received food from an
angel. St. Hellius peacefully entered the heavenly mansions after
reaching an advanced age.

TODAY IS JULY 15

Saint Vladimir the Enlightener


DAY OF CELEBRATION

The Holy Great Prince Vladimir, Equal of the Apostles. Few names in
the annals of history can compare in significance with the name of St.
Vladimir, the Baptizer of Rus, who stands at the beginning of the
spiritual destiny of the Russian Church and the Russian Orthodox
people. Vladimir was the grandson of St. Olga, and he was the son of
Svyatoslav (+ 972). His mother, Malusha (+ 1001) was the daughter of
Malk Liubechanin, whom historians identify with Mal, prince of the
430

Drevlyani. Having subdued an uprising of the Drevlyani and conquered


their cities, Princess Olga gave orders to execute Prince Mal for his
attempt to marry her after he murdered her husband Igor, and she
took to herself Mals children, Dobrynya and Malusha. Dobrynya grew
up to be a valiant brave warrior, endowed with a mind for state
affairs, and he was later on an excellent help to his nephew Vladimir
in matters of military and state administration. The capable girl
Malusha became a Christian (together with Great Princess Olga at
Constantinople), but she preserved in herself a bit of the mysterious
darkness of the pagan Drevlyani forests. Thus she fell in love with the
austere warrior Svyatoslav, who against the will of his mother Olga
made her his wife. The enraged Olga, regarding as unseemly the
marriage of her housekeeper and captive servant to her son
Svyatoslav, heir to the Great Kiev principality, sent Malusha away to
her own native region not far from Vybut. And there in about the year
960 was born the boy with the Russian pagan name Volodimir,
meaning peaceful ruler, ruling with a special talent for peace. In the
year 970 Svyatoslav set out on a campaign from which he was fated
not to return. He had divided the Russian Land among his three sons.
At Kiev Yaropolk was Prince; at Ovrucha, the center of the Drevlyani
lands, was Oleg; at Novgorod was Vladimir. In his first years as
prince, we see Vladimir as a fierce pagan. He headed a campaign, in
which the whole of pagan Rus is sympathetic to him, against Yaropolk
the Christian, or in any case, according to the chronicles, having
given great freedom to the Christians, on July 11, 978 he entered into
Kiev, having become the sole ruler of the Kiev realm, having
subdued the surrounding lands, some by peaceful means, and the
unsubmissive ones by the sword. Though Vladimir indulged himself in
a wild, sensuous life, he was far from the libertine that they
sometimes portray him as being. He shepherded his land with truth,
valor and reason, as a good and diligent master, of necessity he
431

extended and defended its boundaries by force of arms, and in


returning from military campaigns, he made for his companions and
for all Kiev liberal and merry feasts. But the Lord prepared him for
another task. Where sin increases, there, in the words of the Apostle,
grace abounds (Rom. 5: 20). And upon him came visitation of the
Most High, and the All-Merciful eye of the Good God gazed upon him,
and shone forth the thought in his heart, of understanding the vanity
of idolous delusion, and of appealing to the One God, Creator of all
things both visible and invisible. The matter of accepting Baptism
was

facilitated

through external

circumstances.

The

Byzantine

Empire was in upheaval under the blows of the mutinous regiments of


Bardas Skliros and Bardas Phocas, each of whom sought to gain the
imperial throne. In these difficult circumstances the emperors, the
coregent brothers Basil the Bulgar-Slayer and Constantine, turned for
help to Vladimir. Events unfolded quickly. In August 987 Bardas
Phocas

proclaimed

himself

Emperor

and

moved

against

Constantinople, and in autumn of that same year the emissaries of


Emperor Basil were at Kiev. And having exhausted his (Basils)
wealth, it compelled him to enter into an alliance with the Emperor of
the Russians. They were his enemies, but he besought their help,
writes one of the Arab chronicles of events in the 980s. And the
Emperor of the Russians consented to this, and made common cause
with him. As a reward for his military help, Vladimir asked for the
hand of the emperors sister Anna, which for the Byzantines was an
unheard of audacity. Princesses of the imperial lineage did not marry
barbarian rulers, even if they were Christians. At the same time the
Emperor Otto the Great was seeking the hand of Anna for his son, and
he was refused. However, in Vladimirs case Constantinople was
obliged to consent. An agreement was concluded, according to which
Vladimir had to send the emperors six thousand Varangians, and to
accept holy Baptism. Under these conditions he would receive the
432

hand of the imperial daughter Anna. Thus in the strife of human


events the will of God directed the entering of Rus into the gracefilled bosom of the Ecumenical Church. Great Prince Vladimir
accepted Baptism and sent the military assistance to Byzantium. With
the aid of the Russians, the mutineers were destroyed and Bardas
Phocas killed. But the Greeks, gladdened by their unexpected
deliverance, were in no hurry to fulfill their part of the bargain. Vexed
at the Greek duplicity, Prince Vladimir hastened to collect his
forces and he moved against Korsun, the Greek city, the ancient
Chersonessos. The impenetrable rampart of the Byzantine realm on
the Black Sea fell. It was one of the vitally important hubs of the
economic and mercantile links of the empire. This blow was so much
felt, that its echo resounded throughout all the regions of Byzantium.
Vladimir again had the upper hand. His emissaries, the commanders
Oleg and Sjbern soon arrived in Constantinople for the imperial
daughter. Eight days passed in Annas preparation, during which time
her

brothers

consoled

her,

stressing

the

significance

of

the

opportunity before her: to enable the enlightening of the Russian


realm and its lands, and to make them forever friends of the Byzantine
realm. At Taurida St. Vladimir awaited her, and to his titles there was
added a new one: Caesar (Tsar). The haughty rulers of Constantinople
had to accede also in this, to bestow upon their new brother-in-law
the imperial insignia. In certain of the Greek historians, St. Vladimir is
termed from these times as a mighty basileios-king, he coins money
in the Byzantine style and is depicted on it with the symbols of
imperial might: in imperial attire, and on his head the imperial crown,
and in his right hand the scepter with cross. Together with the
empress Anna, there arrived for the Russian See Metropolitan Michael
ordained by holy Patriarch Nicholas II Chrysoberges. He came with
his retinue and clergy, and many holy relics and other holy things. In
ancient Chersonessos, where each stone brings to mind St. Andrew
433

the First-Called, there took place the marriage-crowning of St.


Vladimir and Blessed Anna, both reminiscent and likewise affirming
the oneness of the Gospel of Christ in Rus and in Byzantium. Korsun,
the empresss dowry, was returned to Byzantium. In the spring of
988 the Great Prince and his wife set out through the Crimea, Taman
and the Azov lands, which had come into the complexion of his vast
realm on the return trip to Kiev. Leading the princely cortege with
frequent Services of Thanksgiving and incessant priestly singing they
carried crosses, icons and holy relics. It seemed that the Ecumenical
Holy Church was moving into the spacious Russian land, and renewed
in the font of Baptism, Holy Rus came forth to meet Christ and His
Church. Then followed an unforgettable and quite singular event in
Russian history: the morning of the Baptism of the Kievans in the
waters of the River Dneipr. On the evening before, St. Vladimir
declared throughout the city: If anyone does not go into the river
tomorrow, be they rich or poor, beggar or slave, that one shall be my
enemy. The sacred wish of the holy Prince was fulfilled without a
murmur: all our land glorified Christ with the Father and the Holy
Spirit at the same time. It is difficult to overestimate the deep
spiritual transformation of the Russian people affected by the prayers
of St. Vladimir, in every aspect of its life and world-view. In the pure
Kievan waters, as in a bath of regeneration, there was realized a
sacramental transfiguration of the Russian spiritual element, the
spiritual birth of the nation, called by God to unforeseen deeds of
Christian service to mankind. Then did the darkness of the idols
begin to lift from us, and the dawn of Orthodoxy appears, and the Sun
of the Gospel illumined our land. In memory of this sacred event, the
regeneration of Rus by water and the Spirit, the Russian Church
established the custom of an annual church procession to the water
on August 1. Later, the Feast of the Procession of the Honorable Wood
of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord, which Russia celebrated with
434

the Greek Church, was combined with the Feast of the All-Merciful
Savior and the Most Holy Theotokos (established by St. Andrew
Bogoliubsky in the year 1164). In this combination of feasts there is
found a precise expression of the Russian theological consciousness,
for which both Baptism and the Cross are inseparable. Everywhere
throughout Holy Rus, from the ancient cities to the far outposts, St.
Vladimir gave orders to destroy the pagan sanctuaries, to flog the
idols, and in their place to clear land in the hilly woods for churches,
in which altars would be consecrated for the Bloodless Sacrifice.
Churches of God grew up along the face of the earth, at high elevated
places, and at the bends of the rivers, along the ancient trail from
the Variangians to the Greeks figuratively as road signs and lamps of
national holiness. Concerning the famed church-building activity of St.
Vladimir, the Metropolitan of Kiev St. Hilarion (author of the Word on
Law and Grace) exclaimed: They demolished the pagan temples,
and built up churches, they destroyed the idols and produced holy
icons, the demons have fled, and the Cross has sanctified the cities.
From the early centuries of Christianity it was the custom to raise up
churches upon the ruins of pagan sanctuaries or upon the blood of the
holy martyrs. Following this practice, St. Vladimir built the church of
St. Basil the Great upon a hill, where a sanctuary of Perun had been
located, and he built the stone church of the Dormition of the Most
Holy Theotokos (Desyatinnaya) on the place of the martyrdom of the
holy Varangian Martyrs (July 12). The magnificent temple was
intended to become the cathedral for the Metropolitan of Kiev and All
Rus, and thus the primal altar of the Russian Church. It was built in
five years, and was richly adorned with frescoes, crosses, icons and
sacred vessels, brought from Korsun. The day of the consecration of
the church of the Most Holy Theotokos, May 12 (in some manuscripts
May 11), was ordered by St. Vladimir to be inserted into the Church
calendar as an annual celebration. This event was linked with other
435

events celebrated on May 11, and it provided the new Church a


twofold sense of continuity. Under this day in the calendar is noted
the churchly Founding of Constantinople dedicated by the holy
emperor St. Constantine as the new capital of the Roman Empire, the
city of Constantine is dedicated to the Most Holy Theotokos (330). On
this same day of May 11, the church of Sophia, the Wisdom of God
was consecrated at Kiev (in the year 960 under St. Olga). St. Vladimir,
having had the cathedral church consecrated to the Most Holy
Theotokos, followed the example of St. Constantine in dedicating the
capital city of the Russian Land (Kiev) to the Queen of Heaven. Then a
tithe or tenth was bestowed on the Church; and since this church had
become the center of the All-Russian collection of churchly tithes,
they called it the Tithe Church. The most ancient text of the grant, or
church rule by holy Prince Vladimir spoke thus: For I do bestow on
this church of the Holy Mother of God a tenth of all my principality,
and also throughout all the Russian Land from all the princely
jurisdiction a tithe of squirrel-pelts, and from the merchant, a tithe of
the week, and from households each year, a tenth of every herd and
every livelihood, to the wondrous Mother of God and the wondrous
Savior. The grant also specified church people as being free from
the jurisdictional power of the prince and his tiuni (officials) and
placed them under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan. The chronicle
has preserved a prayer of St. Vladimir, with which he turned to the
Almighty at the consecration of the Dormition Tithe Church: O Lord
God, look down from Heaven and behold, and visit Your vineyard,
which Your right hand has planted. And make this new people, whom
You have converted in heart and mind to know You, the True God. And
look down upon this Your church, which Your unworthy servant has
built in the name of the Mother Who gave birth to Thee, the EverVirgin Theotokos. And whoever prays in this church, let his prayer be
heard, through the prayers of the All-Pure Mother of God. With the
436

Tithe Church and Bishop Anastasius, certain historians have made a


connection with the beginnings of Russian chronicle writing. At it
were compiled the Life of St. Olga and the account of the Varangian
Martyrs in their original form, and likewise the Account, How in the
Taking of Korsun, Vladimir came to be Baptized. Here also originated
the early Greek redaction of the Lives of the Holy Martyrs Boris and
Gleb. During the time of St. Vladimir, the Kiev Metropolitan See was
occupied successively by the Metropolitan St. Michael (September
30), Metropolitan Theophylactus, who transferred to Kiev from the
See of Armenian Sebaste (991-997), Metropolitan Leontius (997-1008),
and Metropolitan John I (1008-1037). Through their efforts the first
dioceses of the Russian Church were opened: at Novgorod (its first
representative was St. Joachim of Korsun (+ 1030), compiler of the
Joachimov

Chronicle),

Vladimir-Volyn

(opened

May

11,

992),

Chernigov, Pereslavl, Belgorod, and Rostov. And thus throughout all


the cities and villages there were set up churches and monasteries,
and the clergy increased, and the Orthodox Faith blossomed forth and
shone like the sun. To advance the Faith among the newly
enlightened people, learned people and schools were needed to help
prepare them. Therefore, St. Vladimir and the holy Metropolitan
Michael commanded fathers and mothers to take their young
children and send them to schools to learn reading and writing. St.
Joachim of Korsun set up such a school at Novgorod, and they did the
same in other cities. And there were a multitude of schools of
scholars, and of these were there a multitude of philosophers. With a
firm hand St. Vladimir held in check enemies at the frontiers, and he
built fortified cities. He was the first in Russian history to set up a
notched boundary, a line of defensive points against nomadic
peoples. Volodimir began to set up cities along the Desna, along the
Vystra, along the Trubezha, along the Sula and along the Stugna. And
he settled them with the Novgorodians, the Smolyani, the Chuds and
437

the Vyatichi. He made war against the Pechenegs and defeated


them. But the real reason for his success was the peaceful Christian
preaching among the pagans of

the steppes. In the Nikolsk

Chronicles under the year 990 was written: And in that same year
there came to Volodimir at Kiev four princes from the Bulgars and
they were illumined with Divine Baptism. In the following year the
Pecheneg prince Kuchug came and accepted the Greek faith, and he
was baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit, and served Vladimir with a pure heart. Under the influence of
the holy prince several apparent foreigners were also baptized. For
example, the Norwegian koenig (king) Olaf Trueggvason (+ 1000)
who lived several years at Kiev, and also the renowned Torvald the
Wanderer, founder of a monastery of St. John the Forerunner along
the Dneipr near Polotsk, among others. In faraway Iceland the poetskalds called God the Protector of the Greeks and Russians. In
addition to the Christian preaching, there were the renowned feasts
of St. Vladimir. After Liturgy on Sundays and Church Feasts there
were put out abundant feasting tables for the Kievans, they rang the
bells, choirs sang praise, the transported infirm sang bylini-ballads
and spiritual verses. On May 12, 996, for example, on the occasion of
the consecration of the Tithe Church, the prince made a bright
feast. He distributed goods to many of the poor, and destitute and
wanderers, and through the churches and the monasteries. To the
sick and the needy he delivered through the streets casks and barrels
of mead, and bread, and meat, and fish, and cheese, desiring that all
might come and eat, glorifying God. Feasts were likewise celebrated
in honor of the victories of Kievan warriors, and the regiments of
Vladimirs retinue: of Dobrynya, Alexander Popovich, Rogda the Bold.
In the year 1007 St. Vladimir transferred the relics of St. Olga to the
Tithe Church. Four years later, in 1011, his spouse and companion in
many of his undertakings, the Blessed Empress Anna, was also buried
438

there. After her death the prince entered into a new marriage with the
young

daughter

of

the

German

Graf

Kuno

von

Enningen,

granddaughter of the emperor Otto the Great. The era of St. Vladimir
was a crucial period for the formation of Orthodox Rus. The
unification of the Slavic lands and the formation of state boundaries
under the domain of the Rurikovichi resulted from a strenuous
spiritual and political struggle with neighboring tribes and states. The
Baptism of Rus by Orthodox Byzantium was a most important step in
its self-definition as a state. The chief enemy of Vladimir became
Boleslav the Brave, whose plans included the extensive unification of
the West Slavic and East Slavic tribes under the aegis of Catholic
Poland. This rivalry arose back when Vladimir was still a pagan: In
the year 6489 (981). Volodimir went against the Lakhs and took their
cities, Peremyshl, Cherven, and other cities, which be under Rus. The
final years of the tenth century are likewise filled with the wars of
Vladimir and Boleslav. After a brief lull (the first decade of the
eleventh century), the great stand-off entered into a new phase: in
the year 1013 a conspiracy against St. Vladimir was discovered at
Kiev. Svyatopolk the Accursed, who was married to a daughter of
Boleslav, yearned for power. The instigator of the conspiracy was
Boleslavs

cleric,

the

Kolobzheg

Catholic

bishop

Reibern.

The

conspiracy of Svyatopolk and Reibern was an all-out threat to the


historical existence of the Russian state and the Russian Church. St.
Vladimir took decisive measures. All the three involved were arrested,
and Reibern soon died in prison. St. Vladimir did not take revenge on
those that opposed and hated him. Under the pretense of feigned
repentance, Svyatopolk was set free. A new misfortune erupted in the
North, at Novgorod. Yaroslav, not yet the Wise, as he was later to be
known, in the year 1010 having become ruler of Novgorod, decided to
defect from his father the Great Prince of Kiev. He formed his own
separate army, moving on Kiev to demand the customary tribute and
439

tithe. The unity of the Russian land, for which St. Vladimir had
struggled all his life, was threatened with ruin. In both anger and in
sorrow St. Vladimir gave orders to secure the dams and set the
bridges, and to prepare for a campaign against Novgorod. His powers
were on the decline. In the preparations for his final campaign,
happily not undertaken, the Baptizer of Rus fell grievously ill and
surrendered his soul to the Lord in the village of Spas-Berestov on
July 15, 1015. He had ruled the Russian realm for thirty-seven years
(978-1015), twenty-eight of these years after his Baptism. Preparing
for a new struggle for power and hoping for Polish assistance, and to
play for time, Svyatopolk attempted to conceal the death of his father.
But patriotically inclined Kievan nobles, by night, secretly removed
the body of the deceased sovereign from the Berestov court, where
Svyatopolks people were guarding it, and they conveyed the body to
Kiev. At the Tithe Church the coffin with the relics of St. Vladimir was
met by Kievan clergy with Metropolitan John at the head of the
procession. The holy relics were placed in a marble crypt, set within
the St. Clement chapel of the Dormition church beside the marble
crypt of Empress Anna. The name and deeds of the holy Equal of the
Apostles St. Vladimir, whom the people called the Splendid Sun, is
interwoven with all the successive history of the Russian Church.
Through him we too have come to worship and to know Christ, the
True Life, testified St. Hilarion. His deeds were continued by his
sons, and grandsons and descendants, rulers of the Russian land for
almost six centuries, from Yaroslav the Wise, who took the first steps
towards the independent existence of the Russian Church, down to
the last of the Rurikovichi, Tsar Theodore Ioannovich, under whom (in
1589) the Russian Orthodox Church became the fifth independent
Patriarchate in the dyptichs of Orthodox Autocephalous Churches.
The festal celebration of the holy Equal of the Apostles Vladimir was
established

under

St.

Alexander
440

Nevsky,

in

memory

of

the

intercession of St. Vladimir on May 15, 1240, for his help in gaining
the renowned victory by Nevsky over Swedish crusaders. But the first
veneration of the holy prince began in Rus rather earlier. The
Metropolitan of Kiev St. Hilarion (+ 1053), in his Word on Law and
Grace, spoken on the day of memory of St. Vladimir at the saints
crypt in the Tithe church, calls him an apostolic sovereign, like St.
Constantine, and he compares his apostolic evangelization of the
Russian Land to the evangelizations by the holy Apostles.

TODAY IS JULY 16

Virginmartyr Saint Julia of Carthage


DAY OF CELEBRATION

The Virgin Martyr Julia was born in Carthage into a Christian family.
While still a girl she was captured by the Persians. They carried her
off to Syria and sold her into slavery. Fulfilling the Christian
commandments, St. Julia faithfully served her master. She preserved
herself in purity, kept the fasts and prayed much to God. No amount of
urging by her pagan master could turn her to idolatry. Once the
master set off with merchandise for Gaul and took St. Julia with him.
Along the way the ship stopped over at the island of Corsica, and the
master decided to take part in a pagan festival, but Julia remained on
the ship. The Corsicans plied the merchant and his companions with
wine, and when they had fallen into a drunken sleep, they took Julia
from the ship. St. Julia was not afraid to acknowledge that she was a
441

Christian, and the savage pagans crucified her. An angel of the Lord
reported the death of the holy martyr to the monks of a monastery,
located on a nearby island. The monks took the body of the saint and
buried it in a church in their monastery. In about the year 763 the
relics of the holy Martyr Julia were transferred to a womens
monastery in the city of Breschia.

TODAY IS JULY 17

Greatmartyr Saint Marina of Antioch in Pisidia


DAY OF CELEBRATION

The Holy Great Martyr St. Marina was born in Asia Minor, in the city of
Antioch of Pisidia (southern Asia Minor), into the family of a pagan
priest. In infancy she lost her mother, and her father gave her into the
care of a nursemaid, who raised Marina in the Orthodox Faith. Upon
learning that his daughter had become a Christian, the father angrily
disowned her. During the time of the persecution against Christians
under the emperor Diocletian, when she was fifteen years old, St.
Marina was arrested and locked up in prison. With firm trust in the will
of God and His help, the young prisoner prepared for her impending
fate. The governor Olymbrios, charmed with the beautiful girl, tried to
persuade her to renounce the Christian Faith and become his wife.
But the saint, unswayed, refused his offers. The vexed governor gave
the holy martyr over to torture. Having beaten her fiercely, they
fastened the saint with nails to a board and tore at her body with
442

tridents. The governor himself, unable to bear the horror of these


tortures, hid his face in his hands. But the holy martyr remained
unyielding. Thrown for the night into prison, she was granted heavenly
aid and healed of her wounds. They stripped her and tied her to a tree,
then burned the martyr with fire. Barely alive, the martyr prayed:
Lord, You have granted me to go through fire for Your Name, grant
me also to go through the water of holy Baptism. Hearing the word
water, the governor gave orders to drown the saint in a large
cauldron. The martyr besought the Lord that this manner of execution
should become for her holy Baptism. When they plunged her into the
water, there suddenly shone a light, and a snow-white dove came
down from Heaven, bearing in its beak a golden crown. The fetters
put upon St. Marina came apart by themselves. The martyr stood up in
the fount of Baptism glorifying the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit. St. Marina emerged from the fount completely healed, without
any trace of burns. Amazed at this miracle, the people glorified the
True God, and many came to believe. This brought the governor into a
rage, and he gave orders to kill anyone who might confess the Name
of Christ. 15,000 Christians perished there, and the holy Martyr Marina
was beheaded. The sufferings of the Great Martyr Marina were
described by an eyewitness of the event, named Theotimos. Up until
the taking of Constantinople by Western crusaders in the year 1204,
the relics of the Great Martyr Marina were in the Panteponteia
monastery. According to other sources, they were located in Antioch
until the year 908 and from there transferred to Italy. Now they are in
Athens, in a church dedicated to the holy Virgin Martyr. Her venerable
hand was transferred to Mount Athos, to the Batopedi monastery.

443

TODAY IS JULY 18

Hieromartyr Saint Kozman


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Over the centuries the monastic complex founded by St. David of


Gareji became a spiritual and cultural center for all of Georgia. Many
of the faithful flocked there with a desire to serve Christ. Among them
was the hieromonk Kozman, who would end his earthly life as a
martyr. Few details of the life of Holy Martyr Kozman have been
preserved. According to the Georgian catholicos Anton, St. Kozman
was a learned and righteous ascetic, well-versed in the canons of the
Orthodox Church. St. Kozman composed a set of Hymns to the GreatMartyr Queen Ketevan but his work has not been preserved.
According to the 19th-century historian Platon Ioseliani, Hieromonk
Kozman was taken captive and tortured to death in the year 1630,
when the Dagestanis were carrying out a raid on the Davit-Gareji
Wilderness.

TODAY IS JULY 19

Right-believing Prince Saint Roman of Ryazan


DAY OF CELEBRATION

444

The Holy Prince Roman Olegovich of Ryazan was from a line of


princes, who during the time of the Tatar (Mongol) Yoke won glory as
defenders of the Christian Faith and of their Fatherland. Both his
grandfathers perished for the Fatherland in the struggle with Batu.
Raised to love the holy faith (the prince lived in tears and prayers) and
his homeland, the prince with all his strength concerned himself
about his devastated and oppressed subjects. He defended them from
the coercion and plundering of the Khans baskaki (tax-collectors).
The baskaki hated the saint and they slandered him before the
Tatar Khan Mengu-Timur. Roman Olegovich was summoned to the
Horde, where Khan Mengu-Timur declared that he had to choose one
of two things: either a martyrs death or the Tatar faith. The noble
prince said that a Christian cannot change from the true Faith to a
false one. For his firmness in the confession of faith he was subjected
to cruel torments: they cut out his tongue, gouged out his eyes, cut
off his ears and lips, chopped off his hands and feet, tore off the skin
from his head and, after beheading him, they impaled him upon a
spear. This occurred in the year 1270. The veneration of the royal
martyr began immediately with his death. The chronicle says about
the saint: By your suffering, you have gained the Kingdom of Heaven,
and a crown from the hand of the Lord, together with your kinsman
Michael Vsevolodovich, co-sufferers with Christ for the Orthodox
Christian Faith. Since 1854, there have been church processions and
Moliebens at Ryazan on the Feast day of St. Roman. A church was
consecrated in honor of the holy Prince Roman at Ryazan in 1861.
445

TODAY IS JULY 20

Righteous Martyr Saint Maria (Skobtsova)


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Elizaveta Pilenko, the future Mother Maria, was born in 1891 in Riga,
Latvia, then part of the Russian Empire, and grew up in the south of
Russia on the shore of the Black Sea. Her father was mayor of the
town of Anapa, while on her mother's side, she was descended from
the last governor of the Bastille, the Parisian prison destroyed during
the French Revolution. Her parents were devout Orthodox Christians
whose faith helped shape their daughter's values, sensitivities and
goals. As a child she once emptied her piggy bank in order to
contribute to the painting of an icon that would be part of a new
church in Anapa. At seven she asked her mother if she was old
enough to become a nun, while a year later she sought permission to
become a pilgrim who spends her life walking from shrine to shrine.
At the age of 14, her father died, an event that seemed to her
meaningless and unjust and led her to embrace atheism. "If there is
no justice,"

she said, "there is no God."

She decided God's

nonexistence was well known to adults but kept secret from children.
For her, childhood was over. When her widowed mother moved the
family to St. Petersburg in 1906, she found herself in the country's
political and cultural center also a hotbed of radical ideas and
446

groups and became part of radical literary circles that gathered


around such symbolist poets as Alexander Blok, whom she first met
at age 15. Like many of her contemporaries, she was drawn to the
left, but was often disappointed at the radicals she encountered.
Though regarding themselves as revolutionaries, they seemed to do
nothing but talk. "My spirit longed to engage in heroic feats, even to
perish, to combat the injustice of the world," she recalled. Yet no one
she knew was actually laying down his or her life for others. Should
her friends hear of someone dying for the Revolution, she noted, "they
will value it, approve or not approve, show understanding on a very
high level, and discuss the night away till the sun rises and it's time
for fried eggs. But they will not understand at all that to die for the
Revolution means to feel a rope around one's neck." In 1910, she
married Dimitri Kuzmin-Karaviev, a Bolshevik and part of a community
of poets, artists and writers, but she later commented that it was a
marriage born "more of pity than of love." In addition to politics and
poetry, she and her friends also talked theology, but just as their
political ideas had no connection at all to the lives of ordinary people,
their theology floated far above the actual Church. There was much
they might have learned, she reflected later in life, from "any old
beggar woman hard at her Sunday prostrations in church." For many
intellectuals, the Church was an idea or a set of abstract values, not a
community in which one actually lives. Though still regarding herself
an atheist, gradually her earlier attraction to Christ revived and
deepened, not yet Christ as God incarnate but Christ as heroic man.
In time, she found herself drawn toward the religious faith she had
abandoned after her father's death. She prayed and read the Gospel
and the lives of saints and concluded that the real need of the people
was not for revolutionary theories but for Christ. She wanted "to
proclaim the simple word of God," she told Blok in a letter written in
1916. Desiring to study theology, she applied for admission to St.
447

Petersburg's

Theological

Academy

of

the

Alexander

Nevsky

Monastery, in those days an entirely male school whose students


were preparing for ordination. As surprising as her wanting to study
there was the rector's decision that she could be admitted. By 1913,
her marriage collapsed. Later that year, her first child, Gaiana, was
born. Just as World War I was beginning, she returned with her
daughter to southern Russia, where her religious life grew more
intense. For a time she secretly wore lead weights sewn into a hidden
belt as a way of reminding herself both "that Christ exists" and also to
be more aware that minute-by-minute many people were suffering and
dying in the war. She realized, however, that the primary Christian
asceticism was not self-mortification, but caring response to the
needs of other people. In October 1917, she was present in St.
Petersburg when Russia's Provisional Government was overthrown by
the Bolsheviks. Taking part in the All-Russian Soviet Congress, she
heard Lenin's lieutenant, Leon Trotsky, dismiss people from her party
with the words, "Your role is played out. Go where you belong, into
history's garbage can!" She grew to see how hideously different
actual revolution was from the dreams of revolution that had once
filled the imagination of so many Russians! In February 1918, she was
elected deputy mayor of Anapa. Eventually, she was arrested, jailed,
and put on trial for collaboration with the enemy. In court, she rose
and spoke in her own defense: "My loyalty was not to any imagined
government as such, but to those whose need of justice was greatest,
the people. Red or White, my position is the same I will act for
justice and for the relief of suffering. I will try to love my neighbor." It
was thanks to Daniel Skobtsov, a former schoolmaster who was now
her judge, that she avoided execution. After the trial, she sought him
out to thank him. Eventually they married. As the course of the civil
war was turning in favor of the Bolsheviks, the Skobtsovs fled to
Georgia, where she gave birth to a son, Yura, in 1920. A year later,
448

having relocated to Yugoslavia, she gave birth to Anastasia, Their


long journey ended with their arrival in Paris in 1923, where to
supplement their income she made dolls and painted silk scarves,
often working ten or twelve hours a day. A friend introduced her to
the Russian Student Christian Movement, an Orthodox association
founded in 1923. She began attending lectures and other activities
and felt herself coming back to life spiritually and intellectually. In
1926, she grieved the death of her daughter Anastasia. She emerged
from her mourning determined to seek a "new road before me and a
new meaning in life, to be a mother for all, for all who need maternal
care, assistance, or protection." She devoted herself to social work
and theological writing. In 1927 two volumes, Harvest of the Spirit,
were published, in which she retold the lives of many saints. In 1930,
she was appointed traveling secretary of the Russian Student
Christian Movement, work which put her into daily contact with
impoverished Russian refugees throughout France and neighboring
countries. She often lectured, but she was quick to listen to others as
they related some terrible grief that had burdened them for years. She
took literally Christ's words, that He was always present in the least
person. "Man ought to treat the body of his fellow human being with
more care than he treats his own," she wrote. "Christian love teaches
us to give our fellows material as well as spiritual gifts. We should
give them our last shirt and our last piece of bread. Personal almsgiving and the most wide-ranging social work are both equally
justified and needed." In time, she began to envision a new type on
community, "half monastic and half fraternal," that would connect
spiritual life with service to those in need, in the process showing
"that a free Church can perform miracles." Father Sergei Bulgakov,
her confessor, was a source of support and encouragement, as was
her bishop, Metropolitan Evlogy [Georgievsky], who was responsible
from 1921 to 1946 for the many thousands of Russian expatriates
449

scattered across Europe. Recognizing her devotion to social work,


and knowing of her waning marriage, he suggested to her the
possibility of becoming a nun. In time, Daniel came to accept the idea
after meeting with Metropolitan Evlogy. In the spring of 1932, in the
chapel at Paris' St. Sergius Theological Institute, she was professed
as a nun with the name Maria. She made her monastic profession,
Metropolitan Evlogy recognized, "in order to give herself unreservedly
to social service." Mother Maria called it simply "monasticism in the
world." Intent "to share the life of paupers and tramps," she began to
look for a house of hospitality and found it at 9 villa de Saxe in Paris,
which she leased with financial assistance from Metropolitan Evlogy.
She began receiving guests, mainly young Russian women without
jobs, giving up her own room to house them while herself sleeping on
a narrow iron bedstead in the basement. A room upstairs became a
chapel she painted the iconostasis icons while the dining room
doubled as a hall for lectures and dialogues. In need of larger
facilities, a new location was found two years later in an area of Paris
where many impoverished Russian refugees had settled. While at the
former address she could feed only 25, here she could feed a hundred.
Here her guests could regain their breath "until the time comes to
stand on their two feet again." Her credo was: "Each person is the
very icon of God incarnate in the world." With this recognition came
the need "to accept this awesome revelation of God unconditionally,
to venerate the image of God" in her brothers and sisters. As her
ministry evolved, she rented other buildings, one for families in need,
and another for single men. A rural property became a sanatorium. By
1937, she housed several dozen women, serving up to 120 dinners
every day. Every morning, she would beg for food or buy cheaply
whatever was not donated. Despite a seemingly endless array of
challenges, Mother Maria was sustained chiefly by those she served
themselves beaten down, people in despair, cripples, alcoholics,
450

the sick, survivors of many tragedies. But not all responded to trust
with trust. Theft was not uncommon. On one occasion a guest stole
25 francs. Everyone guessed who the culprit was, a drug addict, but
Mother Maria refused to accuse her. Instead she announced at the
dinner table that the money had not been stolen, only misplaced, and
she had found it. "You see how dangerous it is to make accusations,"
she commented. At once the girl who stole the money burst into
tears. Mother Maria and her collaborators would not simply open the
door when those in need knocked, but would actively seek out the
homeless. One place to find them was an all-night caf at Les Halles
where those with nowhere else to go could sit for the price of a glass
of wine. Children also were cared for, and a part-time school was
opened at several locations. Turning her attention toward Russian
refugees who had been classified insane, Mother Maria began a series
of visits to mental hospitals. In each hospital five to ten percent of
the Russian patients turned out to be sane and, thanks to her
intervention,

were

released.

Language

barriers

and

cultural

misunderstandings had kept them in the asylum. In time, she and her
associates helped establish clinics for TB sufferers and a variety of
other ministries. Another landmark was the foundation in September
1935 of a group named "Orthodox Action" a name proposed by her
friend, philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev. Co-founders included Father
Sergei Bulgakov, historian George Fedotov, the scholar Constantine
Mochulsky,

the

publisher

Ilya

Fondaminsky,

and

her

long-time

coworker Fedor Pianov, with Metropolitan Evgoly serving as honorary


president. With financial support from supporters across Europe and
the United States, a wider range of projects and centers were made
possible: hostels, rest homes, schools, camps, hospital work, help to
the unemployed, assistance to the elderly, publication of books and
pamphlets, etc. In all of these growing ministries, Mother Maria's
driving concern was that it should never lose its personal or
451

communal character. In October 1939, Father Dimitri Klepinin, then


35 years old, began to assist Mother Maria as she began the last
phase of her life a series of responses to World War II and
Germany's occupation of France. While Mother Maria could have fled
Paris when the Germans were advancing, or even sought refuge in
America, she would not budge. "If the Germans take Paris, I shall stay
here with my old women. Where else could I send them?" She had no
illusions about the Nazi threat, which to her represented a "new
paganism" bringing in its wake disasters, upheavals, persecutions
and wars. With defeat came greater poverty and hunger, and the local
authorities in Paris declared her house an official food distribution
point, where volunteers sold at cost price whatever food Mother Maria
had brought in that morning. Russian refugees were among the
particular targets of the occupiers. In June 1941, a thousand were
arrested, including several close friends and collaborators of Mother
Maria and Father Dimitri, who launched an aid project for prisoners
and their dependents. Early in 1942, their registration now underway,
Jews began to knock at Mother Maria's door, asking Father Dimitri if
he would issue baptismal certificates to them. The answer was
always yes. The names of those "baptized" were also duly recorded in
his parish register in case there was any cross-checking by the police
or Gestapo, as indeed did happen. Father Dimitri was convinced that
in such a situation Christ would do the same. When the Nazis issued
special identity cards for those of Russian origin living in France, with
Jews being specially identified, Mother Maria and Father Dimitri
refused to comply, though they were warned that those who failed to
register would be regarded as citizens of the USSR enemy aliens
and be punished accordingly. With the subsequent mass arrest of
Jews 12,884, of whom 6,900 (two-thirds of them children) were
brought to the Velodrome d'Hiver sports stadium and held for five
days before being sent to Auschwitz Mother Maria entered the
452

stadium and for three days offered comfort to the children and their
parents, distributing what food she could bring in. She even managed
to rescue a number of children by enlisting the aid of garbage
collectors and smuggling them out in trash bins. Meanwhile, her
house was bursting with people, many of them Jews. "It is amazing,"
Mother Maria remarked, "that the Germans haven't pounced on us
yet." Father Dimitri, Mother Maria and their coworkers set up routes
of escape to the unoccupied south. It was complex and dangerous
work. Forged documents had to be obtained. A local resistance group
helped secure provisions for those Mother Maria's community was
struggling to feed. On February 8, 1943, while Mother Maria was
traveling, Nazi security police entered the house and found a letter in
her son Yura's pocket in which Father Dimitri was asked to provide a
Jew with a false baptismal document. Yura, now actively a part of his
mother's work, was taken to the office of Orthodox Action, soon after
followed

by

his

distraught

grandmother,

Sophia

Pilenko.

The

interrogator ordered her to bring Father Dimitri. Once the priest was
there, said the interrogator, they would let Yura go. His grandmother
Sophia was allowed to embrace Yura and give him a blessing. It was
last time she saw him in this world. The following morning, after
celebrating the Divine Liturgy, Father Dimitri set off for the Gestapo
office, where he was interrogated for four hours, making no attempt
to hide his beliefs. The next day, February 10, Mother Maria was
arrested and her quarters were searched. Several others were called
for questioning and then held by the Gestapo. She was confined with
34 other woman at the Gestapo headquarters in Paris. Her son Yura,
Father Dimitri and their coworker of many years, Feodor Pianov, were
held in the same building. Pianov later recalled witnessing Father
Dimitri being prod and beaten by an SS officer while Yura stood by,
weeping. Father Dimitri "began to console him, saying the Christ
withstood greater mockery than this." In April, the prisoners were
453

transferred to Compiegne, where Mother Maria was blessed with a


final meeting with Yura, who said his mother "was in a remarkable
state of mind and told me ... that I must trust in her ability to bear
things and in general not to worry about her. Every day Father Dimitri
and I remember her at the proskomidia ... We celebrate the Eucharist
and receive Communion each day." Hours after their meeting, Mother
Maria was transported to Germany. On December 16, Yura and Father
Dimitri

were

deported

to

Buchenwald

concentration

camp

in

Germany, followed several weeks later by Pianov. In January 1944,


Father Dimitri and Yura were sent to another camp, Dora. Within ten
days

of

arrival,

Yura

contracted

furunculosis.

On

February

6,

"dispatched for treatment" a euphemism for "sentenced to death."


Four days later Father Dimitri, lying on a dirt floor, died of pneumonia.
His

body

was

disposed

of

in

the

Buchenwald

crematorium.

Meanwhile, Mother Maria now "Prisoner 19,263" was sent in a


sealed cattle truck to the Ravensbruck camp in Germany, where she
endured for two years, an achievement in part explained by her long
experience of ascetic life. She was assigned to Block 27 and
befriended the many Russian prisoners who were with her. Unable to
correspond with friends, little testimony in her own words has come
down to us, but prisoners who survived the war remembered her. One
of them, Solange Perichon, recalls: "She was never downcast, never.
She never complained.... She was full of good cheer, really good
cheer. We had roll calls which lasted a great deal of time. We were
woken at three in the morning and we had to stand out in the open in
the middle of winter until the barracks [population] was counted. She
took all this calmly and she would say, 'Well that's that. Yet another
day completed. And tomorrow it will be the same all over again.' ...
She allowed nothing of secondary importance to impede her contact
with people." Anticipating that her own exit point from the camp
might be via the crematoria, Mother Maria asked a fellow prisoner
454

whom she hoped would survive to memorize a message to be given at


last to Father Sergei Bulgakov, Metropolitan Evlogy and her mother:
"My state at present is such that I completely accept suffering in the
knowledge that this is how things ought to be for me, and if I am to
die, I see this as a blessing from on high." Her work in the camp
varied. There was a period when she was part of a team of women
dragging a heavy iron roller about the camp's pathways for 12 hours a
day. In another period she worked in a knitwear workshop. Her legs
began to give way. As her health declined, friends no longer allowed
her to give away portions of her own food, as she had done in the past
to help keep others alive. With the Red Army approaching from the
East, the concentration camp administrators further reduced food
rations while greatly increasing the population of each block from 800
to 2,500. In serious decline, Mother Maria accepted a pink card freely
issued to any prisoner who wished to be excused from labor because
of age or ill health. In January 1945, those who had received such
cards were transferred to what was called the Jugendlager the
"youth camp" where the authorities said each person would have
her own bed and abundant food. Mother Maria's transfer was on
January 31. Here the food ration was further reduced and the hours
spent standing for roll calls increased. Though it was mid-winter,
blankets, coats and jackets were confiscated, and then even shoes
and stockings. The death rate was at least fifty per day. Next all
medical supplies were withdrawn. Those who still persisted in
surviving now faced death by shootings and gas, the latter made
possible by the construction of a gas chamber in March 1945, in
which 150 were executed every day. Amazingly, Mother Maria
survived five weeks in the "youth camp" before she was returned to
the main camp on March 3. Though emaciated and infested with lice,
with her eyes festering, she began to think she might actually live to
return to Paris, or even go back to Russia. Such was not to be the
455

case. On March 30, 1945 Great, Holy and Good Friday that year
Mother Maria was selected for the gas chambers, in which she
perished the following day, on Great and Holy Saturday. Accounts are
at odds about what happened. According to one, she was one of the
many selected for death that day. According to another, she took the
place of another prisoner, a Jew, who had been chosen. Although
perishing in the gas chamber, she did not perish in the Church's
memory. Survivors of the war who had known her would again and
again draw attention to the ideas, insights and activities of the
unusual nun who had spent so many years coming to the aid of people
in desperate straits. Soon after the end of World War II, essays and
books about her began to appear in France and Russia. A Russian
film, "Mother Maria," was made in 1982. There have been two
biographies in English and, little by little, the translation and
publication in English of her most notable essays. On January 18,
2004,

the

Holy

Synod

of

the

Ecumenical

Patriarchate

of

Constantinople recognized Mother Maria Skobtsova as a saint, along


with her son Yuri; the priest who worked closely with her, Fr. Dimitri
Klpinin; and her close friend and collaborator Ilya Fondaminsky.
Their glorification took place in Paris' Cathedral of Saint Alexander
Nevsky.

TODAY IS JULY 21

Saint Salome the Georgian


DAY OF CELEBRATION

456

The details of the life of St. Salome the Georgian are preserved in the
Synaxarion of Jerusalems Holy Cross Monastery it is written: On this
day we commemorate the martyrdom of Salome the Georgian, who at
first yielded to the Persian threats and renounced Christ, but later
confessed the true Faith. For this she was beheaded and cast into the
flames. In his famous work Pilgrimage, the 18th-century historian
and archbishop Timote (Gabashvili) writes that the godless Persians
captured the holy martyr Salome and tortured her at Jerusalems Holy
Cross Monastery for defending the name of Christ. It appears that
Salome labored at one of the convents in Jerusalem. It is believed
that she was tortured to death after the martyrdom of Luka of
Jerusalem, around 12271228.

TODAY IS JULY 22

Martyr Saint Marcella of Chios


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Markella lived in the village of Volissos, Chios sometime after


the middle of the fourteenth century. Her parents were Christians, and
among the wealthiest citizens of Volissos. The saints mother died
when she was young, and so her father, the mayor of the village, saw
to her education. She had been trained by her mother to be respectful
and devout, and to guard her purity. She avoided associations with
other girls who were more outgoing than she was so that she would
not come to spiritual harm through such company. Her goal was to
457

attain the Kingdom of Heaven, and to become a bride of Christ. St


Markella increased in virtue as she grew older, fasting, praying, and
attending church services. She tried to keep the commandments and
to lead others to God. She loved and respected her father, and
comforted him in his sorrow. She told him she would take care of him
in his old age, and would not abandon him. As an adult, St. Markella
was loved by everyone for her beauty and for her spiritual gifts. The
Enemy of our salvation tried to lure her into sin by placing evil
thoughts in her mind. She resisted these temptations, and so the devil
turned away from a direct confrontation with the young woman.
Instead, he incited her father with an unnatural desire for his
daughter. Markellas father changed in his behavior toward her. He
became moody and depressed, forbidding her to go into the garden or
to speak with the neighbors. Unable to understand the reason for this
change, the saint went to her room and wept. She prayed before an
icon of the Mother of God, asking Her to help her father. Soon she fell
asleep, only to be awakened by her fathers shouting. The unfortunate
man had spent a long time struggling against his lust, but finally he
gave in to it. At times he would speak to his daughter roughly, then
later he would appear to be gentle. He wanted to be near her, and to
stroke her hair. Unaware of her fathers intentions, St. Markella was
happy to see him emerge from his melancholy state, thinking that her
prayer had been answered. One day, her father openly declared the
nature of his feelings for her. Horrified, the saint tried to avoid him as
much as she could. Even the neighbors realized that there was
something wrong with the man, so they stopped speaking to him. A
shepherd was tending his sheep near the beach one morning, and was
leading them into the shade of a plane tree to avoid the hot July sun.
Just as he was about to lie down, he heard a noise and looked up. He
saw a young woman with a torn dress running down the hill. She hid
in a nearby bush, ignoring its thorns. The shepherd wondered who
458

was chasing her, and how she had come to this spot. Then he heard
the sound of a horse approaching, and recognized the mayor of the
village. He asked the shepherd if he had seen his daughter. He said
that he had not seen her, but pointed to her hiding place with his
finger. The mayor ordered Markella to come out of the bush, but she
refused. Therefore, he set fire to the bush in order to force her out.
She emerged on the side opposite her father, and ran toward the
rocky shore, calling out to the Mother of God for help. Markella
continued to run, even though blood was flowing from her face and
hands. Feeling a sharp pain in her leg, she saw that she had been shot
with an arrow. She paused to pull it out, then took to flight once more.
She scrambled over the rocks, staining them with her blood. Hearing
her father getting closer, she prayed that the earth would open up and
swallow her. The saint sank to her knees, her strength all gone, and
then a miracle took place. The rock split open and received her body
up to the waist. Her father drew near with wild-eyed joy shouting, I
have caught you. Now where will you go? Drawing his sword, he
began to butcher his helpless daughter, cutting off pieces of her body.
Finally, he seized her by the hair and cut off her head, throwing it into
the sea. At once the calm sea became stormy, and large waves
crashed to the shore near the murderers feet. Thinking that the sea
was going to drown him because of his crime, he turned and fled. His
ultimate fate has not been recorded. In later years, pious Christians
built a church on the spot where St. Markella hid in the bush. The spot
where she was killed became known as The Martyrdom of St.
Markella, and the rock that opened to receive her is still there. The
rock appears to be a large stone that broke off from a mountain and
rolled into the sea. Soil from the mountain covers the spot on the side
facing the land. On the side facing the ocean is a small hole, about
the size of a finger. A healing water flows from the opening, which
cures every illness. The flow of water is not due to the movements of
459

the tide, because when the tide is out, there would be no water. This,
however, is not the case. The water is clear, but some of the nearby
rocks have been stained with a reddish-yellow color. According to
tradition, the lower extremities of St. Markellas body are concealed
in the rock. The most astonishing thing about the rock is not the
warmth of the water, nor the discoloration of the other rocks, but
what happens when a priest performs the Blessing of Water. A sort of
steam rises up from the water near the rock, and the entire area is
covered with a mist. The sea returns to normal as soon as the service
is over. Many miracles have occurred at the spot, and pilgrims flock
there from all over the world.

TODAY IS JULY 23

Icon of the Mother of God of Pochaev


DAY OF CELEBRATION

The Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God is among the most venerable
sacred items of the Orthodox Church. Located at the Dormition
Cathedral, Pochaev, Ukraine, the icon is renowned throughout the
Slavic world and is venerated by Orthodox Christians throughout the
world. Christians of other confessions also come to venerate the
wonderworking image of the Most Holy Theotokos, together with the
Orthodox. The wonderworking icon has been kept at the Pochaev
Lavra, an ancient bastion of Orthodoxy, for about 400 years. The
miracles which issued forth from the holy icon are numerous and are
460

testified to in the monastery books with the signatures of the faithful


who have been delivered from unclean spirits, liberated from
captivity, and sinners brought to their senses. In the year 1721,
Pochaev was occupied by Uniates. Even in this difficult time for the
Lavra, the monastery chronicle notes 539 miracles from the glorified
Orthodox icon. During the time of the Uniate rule in the second half of
the eighteenth century, for example, the Uniate nobleman Count
Nicholas Pototski became a benefactor of the Pochaev Lavra through
the

following

miraculous

circumstance.

Having

accused

his

coachman of overturning the carriage with frenzied horses, the count


took out a pistol to shoot him. The coachman, turning towards
Pochaev Hill, reached his hands upwards and cried out: Mother of
God, manifest in the Pochaev Icon, save me! Pototski several times
tried to shoot the pistol, which had never let him down, but the
weapon misfired. The coachman remained alive. Pototski then
immediately went to the wonderworking icon and decided to devote
himself and all his property to the building-up of the monastery. From
his wealth the Dormition cathedral was built, as well as buildings for
the brethren. The return of Pochaev into the bosom of Orthodoxy in
1832 was marked by the miraculous healing of the blind maiden Anna
Akimchukova, who had come on pilgrimage to the holy things
together with her seventy-year-old grandmother from KremenetsPodolsk, 200 versts away. In memory of this event, the Volhynia
archbishop and Lavra archimandrite Innocent (1832-1840) established
the reading of the Akathist on Saturdays before the wonderworking
icon. During the time of Archimandrite Agathangelus, Archbishop of
Volhynia (1866-1876), a separate chapel was constructed in the
galleries of the Holy Trinity church in memory of the victory over the
Tatars, which was dedicated on July 23, 1875.

461

TODAY IS JULY 24

Saint Hilarion of Tvali


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Hilarion of Tvali (Tulashvili) served as abbot of Khakhuli


Monastery in southwestern Georgia at the beginning of the 11th
century. He was a teacher, and young men would flock to him so they
could learn spiritual attributes of living. Saint Hilarion was also
reverenced for the prayers of healing God performed through him.
Saint Hilarion would place his hands in the head of the ill and call
upon God for healing. His prayers were always answered. In his work

The Life of George of the Holy Mountain, George the Lesser writes
that Venerable Hilarion was outstanding in virtue and celebrated for
his sermons and ascetic labors. St. Hilarion raised the young George
of the Holy Mountain to be a brilliant writer, translator, theologian and
patriot. From him George also received a blessing to enter the
monastic life. According to the chronicle Life of Kartli, St. Hilarion
was a famous translator and writer and an eminent theologian.
Eventually St. Hilarion moved from Khakhuli to Tvali Monastery, not
far from Antioch, where he remained for the rest of his life. According
to

the

19th-century

historian-iconographer

Hilarion reposed in the year 1041.

462

Michael

Sabinin,

St.

TODAY IS JULY 25

Saint Olympias (Olympiada) the


Deaconess of Constantinople
DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Olympias the Deaconess was the daughter of the senator


Anicius Secundus, and by her mother she was the granddaughter of
the noted eparch Eulalios (he is mentioned in the life of St. Nicholas).
Before her marriage to Anicius Secundus, Olympiass mother had
been married to the Armenian emperor Arsak and became widowed.
When St. Olympias was still very young, her parents betrothed her to
a nobleman. The marriage was supposed to take place when St.
Olympias reached the age of maturity. The bridegroom soon died,
however, and St. Olympias did not wish to enter into another
marriage, preferring a life of virginity. After the death of her parents
she became the heir to great wealth, which she began to distribute to
all the needy: the poor, the orphaned and the widowed. She also gave
generously to the churches, monasteries, hospices and shelters for
the downtrodden and the homeless. Holy Patriarch Nectarius (381397) appointed St. Olympias as a deaconess. The saint fulfilled her
service honorably and without reproach. St. Olympias provided great
assistance to hierarchs coming to Constantinople: Amphilochius,
Bishop of Iconium, Onesimus of Pontum, Gregory the Theologian, St.
Basil the Greats brother Peter of Sebaste, Epiphanius of Cyprus, and
she attended to them all with great love. She did not regard her
463

wealth as her own but rather Gods, and she distributed not only to
good people, but also to their enemies. St. John Chrysostom
(November 13) had high regard for St. Olympias, and he showed her
good will and spiritual love. When this holy hierarch was unjustly
banished, St. Olympias and the other deaconesses were deeply upset.
Leaving the church for the last time, St. John Chrysostom called out
to St. Olympias and the other deaconesses Pentadia, Proklia and
Salbina. He said that the matters incited against him would come to
an end, but scarcely more would they see him. He asked them not to
abandon the Church, but to continue serving it under his successor.
The holy women, shedding tears, fell down before the saint. Patriarch
Theophilus of Alexandria (385-412), had repeatedly benefited from the
generosity of St. Olympias, but turned against her for her devotion to
St John Chrysostom. She had also taken in and fed monks, arriving in
Constantinople, whom Patriarch Theophilus had banished from the
Egyptian desert. He leveled unrighteous accusations against her and
attempted to cast doubt on her holy life. After the banishment of St.
John Chrysostom, someone set fire to a large church, and after this a
large part of the city burned down. All the supporters of St. John
Chrysostom came under suspicion of arson, and they were summoned
for interrogation. They summoned St. Olympias to trial, rigorously
interrogating her. They fined her a large sum of money for the crime of
arson, despite her innocence and a lack of evidence against her. After
this the saint left Constantinople and set out to Kyzikos (on the Sea of
Marmara). But her enemies did not cease their persecution. In the
year 405 they sentenced her to prison at Nicomedia, where the saint
underwent much grief and deprivation. St. John Chrysostom wrote to
her from his exile, consoling her in her sorrow. In the year 409 St.
Olympias entered into eternal rest. St. Olympias appeared in a dream
to the Bishop of Nicomedia and commanded that her body be placed
in a wooden coffin and cast into the sea. Wherever the waves carry
464

the coffin, there let my body be buried, said the saint. The coffin was
brought by the waves to a place named Brokthoi near Constantinople.
The inhabitants, informed of this by God, took the holy relics of St.
Olympias and placed them in the church of the holy Apostle Thomas.
Afterwards, during an invasion of enemies, the church was burned,
but the relics were preserved. Under the Patriarch Sergius (610-638),
they were transferred to Constantinople and put in the womens
monastery founded by St. Olympias. Miracles and healings occurred
from her relics.

TODAY IS JULY 26

Saint Jacob Netsvetov the Enlightener of the


Peoples of Alaska
DAY OF CELEBRATION

Father Jacob (Netsvetov) of Alaska was born of pious parents in 1802


on Atka Island, Alaska. His father, Yegor Vasilevich Netsvetov was a
Russian from Tobolsk. His mother, Maria Alekseevna, was an Aleut
from Atka island. Yegor and Maria had four children who survived
infancy; Jacob was the first born, followed by Osip (Joseph), Elena,
and Antony. Yegor and Maria were devoted to their children and,
though of meager means, did all they could to provide them with the
education which would help them in this life as well as in the life to
come. Osip and Antony were eventually able to study at the St.
Petersburg Naval Academy in Russia, becoming a naval officer and a
465

shipbuilder, respectively. Their sister, Elena, married a successful and


respected clerk for the Russian-American Company. But Jacob
yearned for a different kind of success, a success that the world
might consider failure for the righteous live forever, their reward is
with the Lord (Wis. Sol. 5:15). And so, when the family moved to
Irkutsk in 1823, Jacob enrolled in the Irkutsk Theological Seminary
and placed all his hope in Christ by seeking first the Kingdom of God
(Mt. 6:33). Jacob was tonsured as a Subdeacon on October 1, 1825.
He married a Russian woman (perhaps also a Creole) named Anna
Simeonovna,

and

in

1826

graduated

from

the

Seminary

with

certificates in history and theology. On October 31, 1826, he was


ordained to the Holy Diaconate and assigned to serve the altar of the
Holy Trinity-St. Peter Church in Irkutsk. Two years later, on March 4,
1828, Archbishop Michael, who had earlier ordained Father John
Veniaminov (St. Innocent), elevated the godly deacon Jacob to the
Holy Priesthood. This, however, was no ordinary ordination. As if he
were a new Patrick, hearing the mystical call of his distant flock,
Father Jacob yearned to return to his native Alaska. And the all-good
God, who satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with
goodness (Ps.107:9) heard the prayer of his servant. Archbishop
Michael provided Father Jacob with two antimensia: one for the new
church which would be dedicated to the glory of God in honor of St.
Nicholas the Wonderworker in Atka, and one to be used for missionary
activity. On May 1, 1828 a molieben for travelers was served, and
Father Jacob, his father, Yegor, (now tonsured as reader for the Atka
Church), and his matushka, Anna, set out for Alaska. Who can tell of
the perils and trials associated with such a journey? Travel in those
days was never easy, either overland or over the waves of the sea.
Nevertheless, aided by prayer and confidence in Gods providence,
the Netsvetov family arrived safely in Atka over a year later, on June
15, 1829. The new assignment for the newly-ordained Father Jacob
466

would also prove to be quite a challenge. The Atka parish comprised


a territory stretching for nearly 2,000 miles and included Amchitka,
Attu, Copper, Bering and Kurile Islands. But this did not deter the
godly young priest, for when he was clothed in the garments of the
Priesthood, he was found to be clad with zeal as a cloak (Is. 59:17),
and so he threw himself wholly into his sacred ministry. His deep love
for God and for his flock was evident in everything that he did. Both in
Atka and in the distant villages and settlements which he visited,
Father Jacob offered himself as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1). Having
no worry about his life (Mt. 6:25), the holy one endured manifold
tortures of cold, wet, wind, illness, hunger and exhaustion, for to him
life was Christ (Phil 1:21). Showing himself as a rule of faith, his
example brought his people to a deep commitment to their own
salvation. Being fully bilingual and bicultural, Father Jacob was
uniquely blessed by God to care for the souls of his fellow Alaskans.
When he arrived in Atka, the Church of St. Nicholas had not yet been
built. So, with his own hands Father Jacob constructed a large tent
(Acts 18:3) in which he conducted the services. For Father Jacob the
services of the Church were life: life for his people and life for himself.
It was in the worship of God that he found both strength and joy. Later
he would transport this tent with him on his missionary journeys, and
like Moses in the wilderness, the grace of God was found wherever
this tent was taken (Num 4:1; 10:17). When his first six months had
ended (end of 1829), Father Jacob recorded that he had baptized 16,
chrismated 442, married 53 couples, and buried 8. Once the church
was constructed, Father Jacob turned his attention to the building of
a school in which the children would learn to read and write both
Russian and Unangan Aleut. The Russian American Company provided
some of the support initially, with the students providing the
remainder. This continued until 1841, when it was reorganized as a
parish school and ties with the company ceased. Father Jacob proved
467

to be a talented educator and translator whose students became


distinguished Aleut leaders in the next generation. Father Netsvetov
led an active physical and intellectual life, hunting and gathering for
his own subsistence needs, preparing specimens of fish and marine
animals for

the

natural history

museums

of

Moscow and

St.

Petersburg, corresponding with St. Innocent (Veniaminov) on matters


of linguistics and translations. He labored over the creation of an
adequate

alphabet

for

the

Unangan-Aleut

language,

and

the

translation of the Holy Scriptures and other appropriate literature into


that language. St. Innocent praised the young pastor for his holiness
of life, his teaching, and for continuing this work of translating which
he, himself, had begun earlier among the native peoples. After fifteen
years of service, Father Jacob was awarded the Nabedrennik,
Kamilavka, and Gold Cross. Later, he would be made Archpriest and
receive the Order of St. Anna. These ecclesiastical awards do not tell
of the personal sufferings of this warrior for Christ. In March of 1836,
his precious wife, Anna, died of cancer; his home burned to the
ground in July of 1836; and his dear father, Yegor, died of an
undetermined illness in 1837. Who can utter the depth of sorrow felt
by this God-pleaser? Yet he lifted up his voice with that ancient
sufferer and cried, shall we indeed accept good from God and shall
we not accept adversity? In all this he did not sin with his lips (Job
2:10). In his journal Father Jacob attributed all to the Will of Him
whose Providence and Will are inscrutable and whose actions toward
men are incomprehensible. He patiently endured hardships and
sufferings like the Holy Apostle Paul. He saw in these misfortunes not
a Victory by the hater of mens souls (i.e. the devil) but a call from
God to even greater spiritual struggles. With this in mind, Father
Jacob petitioned his ruling bishop to return to Irkutsk in order to enter
the monastic life. A year later, word reached him that permission was
granted contingent upon the arrival of a replacement. None ever
468

came. Instead, Bishop Innocent soon came to Atka and asked Father
Jacob to accompany him on a voyage by ship to Kamchatka. Who can
know the heavenly discourse enjoyed by these two lovers of Christ as
they traveled over the waves? This, however, is clear, the holy
archpastor was able to accomplish three things in Father Netsvetov.
Firstly, he applied the healing salve of the Spirit with words of
comfort; secondly, he dissuaded Father Jacob from entering the
monastery; and thirdly, he revealed to the godly priest the true plan of
the Savior for his life, that he might preach (Christ) among the
Gentiles (Gal. 1:16) deep in the Alaskan interior. Father Jacob
continued to serve his far-flung flock of the Atka parish until
December 30, 1844. A new zeal had taken hold of him, and it was then
that St. Innocent appointed him to head the new Kvikhpak Mission in
order to bring the light of Christ to the people of the Yukon. Here,
aided by two young Creole assistants, Innokentii Shayashnikov and
Konstantin Lukin, together with his young nephew, Vasilii Netsvetov,
Father Jacob settled in the wilderness of Alaska. He learned new
languages, embraced new peoples and cultures, devised another
alphabet, built another church and Orthodox community, and for the
next twenty years, until his health and eyesight failed, continued to
be an evangelical beacon of the grace of God in southwestern Alaska.
Establishing
Ikogmiute

his

headquarters

(todays

Russian

in

the

Mission)

Yupik
he

Eskimo
traveled

village
to

of

native

settlements hundreds of miles up and down Alaskas longest river (the


Yukon) as well as the Kuskokwim River region. At the insistence of
Indian leaders, he traveled as far as the middle of the Innoko River
baptizing hundreds of Indians from various, and often formerly hostile,
tribes. Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell
together in unity (Ps 133:1). He built the first Christian temple in this
region, and dedicated it to the feast of the Elevation of the Holy
Cross. Here Father Jacob, in spite of failing health, joyfully celebrated
469

the Churchs cycle of services, including all of the services prescribed


for Holy Week and Pascha. Finally, in 1863, the evil One, who walks
about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (I Pet 5:8),
sought one last time to get the better of the righteous one. So the
devil, the father of lies, (John 8:44), inspired an assistant of Father
Jacob to level spurious and slanderous charges against his master.
This resulted in a summons to Sitka, issued by Bishop Peter. The
godly pastor was quickly cleared of all charges, but due to his everworsening health, he remained in Sitka for his final year serving a
Tlingit chapel. He died on July 26, 1864 at the age of 60 and was
buried on the third day at the entry of the chapel. During his final
missionary travels in the Kuskokwim/Yukon delta region, he had
baptized 1,320 peopledistinguishing himself as the evangelizer of
the Yupik Eskimo and Athabascan Indian peoples. This brief history
has recounted the basic chronology of the saints life and labors, but
we must not neglect to relate his other deeds, that the light be not
hidden under a bushel (Mt.5:15). In 1841, Father Jacob encountered
a group of women from his flock in Amlia who had fallen victim to
certain demonic influences and teachings. Blaming himself for the
seduction and fall of his spiritual children by the evil one, he informed
the leader among them that he was going to pay them a visit. Upon
arriving, he found one of the women paralyzed, semi-conscious and
unable to speak. He ordered that she be removed to another house
apart, and on the next day when this was accomplished, he lit the
lampada before the icons of the beautiful corner, vested himself in his
priestly epitrachilion (stole), sprinkled holy water throughout the
room, and began the first prayers of exorcism. He then left. During the
night he was notified that the woman had begun to speak but
incoherently. He came immediately to her and performed a second
exorcism. This time, she sprang out of her bed and stood next to the
saint,

joined

her

prayer

to

his,
470

and

accompanied

them

with

prostrations. When the prayers were finished, Father Jacob again


sprinkled her with holy water and gave her the precious cross to kiss.
She regained full consciousness, a state of health and true reason
that is, even the false teachings of the evil spirits had no more part in
her. Once in November of 1845, Father Jacob was preaching in the
village of Kalskag, where the local chief was also the head shaman.
He spoke for all of the villagers and resisted the Word of God
forcefully. But the saint, calm and full of the Holy Spirit, continued to
sow the seeds of right belief and piety. After many hours, the chief fell
silent and finally came to believe. The villagers, in solidarity with their
leader, also joyously expressed their belief in the Triune God and
sought Holy Baptism. Father Jacob was a physician of bodies as well
as souls. He often cared for the sick among his flock even to his own
detriment. During the winter of 1850-1851 the saint was himself
ravaged with illness. Yet he cared for the sick and dispensed
medicine to them every day. Father Jacobs preaching often brought
together in the Holy Faith tribes who were traditional enemies. One
example from his journal reads: Beginning in the morning, upon my
invitation, all the Kolchane and Ingalit from the Yukon and the local
ones gathered at my place and I preached the word of God,
concluding at noon. Everyone listened to the preaching with attention
and without discussion or dissent, and in the end they all expressed
faith and their wish to accept Holy Baptism, both the Kolchane and
the Ingatit (formerly traditional enemies). I made a count by families
and in groups, and then in the afternoon began the baptismal service.
First I baptized 50 Kolchane and Ingalit men, the latter from the
Yukon and Innoko. It was already evening when I completed the
service. March 21, 1853. So it was that this apostolic man, this new
Job, conducted himself during his earthly course. There are many
other deeds and wonders which he performed, many known and many
more known only to God. Few missionaries in history have had to
471

endure the hardships which Father Jacob faced, yet he did so with
patience and humility. His life of faith and piety are the legacy which
he leaves to us, his spiritual children in America, and indeed to all
Christians throughout the world.

TODAY IS JULY 27

Greatmartyr and Healer Saint Panteleimon


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Clement, Bishop of Ochrid, Equal of the Apostles, Naum, Sava,


The Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon was born in the city of
Nicomedia into the family of the illustrious pagan Eustorgius, and he
was named Pantoleon. His mother St. Euboula was a Christian. She
wanted to raise her son in the Christian Faith, but she died when the
future martyr was just a young child. His father sent Pantoleon to a
pagan school, after which the young man studied medicine at
Nicomedia under the renowned physician Euphrosynus. One day the
saint found a dead child on the street. He had been bitten by a great
snake, which was still beside the childs body. Pantoleon began to
pray to the Lord Jesus Christ to revive the dead child and to destroy
the venomous reptile. He firmly resolved that if his prayer were
fulfilled, he would become a follower of Christ and receive Baptism.
The child rose up alive, and the snake died before Pantoleons eyes.
After this miracle, Pantoleon was baptized by St. Hermolaus with the
name Panteleimon (meaning all-merciful). Speaking with Eustorgius,
472

St.

Panteleimon

prepared

him

to

accept

Christianity.

When

Pantoleons father saw how his son healed a blind man by invoking
Jesus Christ, he then believed in Christ and was baptized by St.
Hermolaus together with the man whose sight was restored. After the
death of his father, St. Panteleimon dedicated his life to the suffering,
the sick, the unfortunate and the needy. He treated all those who
turned to him without charge, healing them in the name of Jesus
Christ. He visited those held captive in prison. These were usually
Christians, and he healed them of their wounds. In a short time,
reports of the charitable physician spread throughout the city.
Forsaking the other doctors, the inhabitants began to turn only to St.
Panteleimon.

The

envious

doctors

told

the

emperor

that

St.

Panteleimon was healing Christian prisoners. Maximian urged the


saint

to

refute

the charge by

offering sacrifice

to idols.

St.

Panteleimon confessed himself a Christian, and suggested that a sick


person, for whom the doctors held out no hope, should be brought
before the emperor. Then the doctors could invoke their gods, and
Panteleimon would pray to his God to heal the man. A man paralyzed
for many years was brought in, and pagan priests who knew the art of
medicine invoked their gods without success. Then, before the very
eyes of the emperor, the saint healed the paralytic by calling on the
name of Jesus Christ. The ferocious Maximian executed the healed
man, and gave St. Panteleimon over to fierce torture. The Lord
appeared to the saint and strengthened him before his sufferings.
They suspended the Great Martyr Panteleimon from a tree and
scraped him with iron hooks, burned him with fire and then stretched
him on the rack, threw him into a cauldron of boiling tar, and cast him
into the sea with a stone around his neck. Throughout these tortures
the martyr remained unhurt, and denounced the emperor. By order of
the emperor they brought the Great Martyr Panteleimon to the circus
to be devoured by wild beasts. The animals, however, came up to him
473

and licked his feet. The spectators began to shout, Great is the God
of the Christians! The enraged Maximian ordered the soldiers to stab
with the sword anyone who glorified Christ, and to cut off the head of
the Great Martyr Panteleimon. Portions of the holy relics of the Great
Martyr Panteleimon were distributed throughout the entire Christian
world. His venerable head is now located at the Russian monastery of
St. Panteleimon on Mt. Athos. St. Panteleimon is venerated in the
Orthodox Church as a mighty saint, and the protector of soldiers. This
aspect of his veneration is derived from his first name Pantoleon,
which means a lion in everything. His second name, Panteleimon,
given him at Baptism, which means all-merciful, is manifest in the
veneration of the martyr as a healer. The connection between these
two aspects of the saint is readily apparent in that soldiers, receiving
wounds more frequently than others, are more in need of a physicianhealer. Christians waging spiritual warfare also have recourse to this
saint, asking him to heal their spiritual wounds.

TODAY IS JULY 28

Saint Irene the Righteous of Chrysovalantou


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Irene, who was from Cappadocia, flourished in the ninth


century. Because of her great beauty and virtue, she was brought
to Constantinople as a prospective bride for the young Emperor
Michael (842-867); however, as Saint Joannicius the Great foretold,
474

it was God's will that she assume the monastic habit instead. She
shone forth in great ascetical labours, and suffered many attacks
from the demons; while yet a novice, she attained to the practice
of Saint Arsenius the Great, of praying the whole night long with
arms stretched out towards Heaven. God showed forth great signs
and wonders in her, and she became the Abbess of the Convent of
Chrysovalantou. She was granted the gift of clairvoyance and
knew the thoughts of all that came to her. She appeared in a vision
to the king and rebuked him for unjustly imprisoning a nobleman
who had been falsely accused. Through a sailor from Patmos to
whom he had appeared, Saint John the Evangelist sent her
fragrant and wondrous apples from Paradise. She reposed at the
age of 103, still retaining the youthful beauty of her countenance.
After her repose, marvelous healings beyond numbers have been
wrought by her to the present day.

TODAY IS JULY 29

Saint Eustathius of Mtskheta in Georgia


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Eustathius, a Persian by descent, was a fire-worshipper named


Gvirobandak prior to his baptism into the Christian Faith. When he
arrived in Georgia and settled in Mtskheta, he was deeply drawn to
475

the morals and traditions of the Georgian people, and he resolved to


convert to Christianity. His decision entailed a great risk, as the
Persians dominated eastern Georgia, persecuting Christians and
forcing all to worship fire, as they did. Catholicos Samoel himself
baptized Gvirobandak and called him Eustathius. The new convert
soon married a Georgian woman and was fully assimilated into
Georgian society and the life of the Church. Once the Persians who
were occupying Mtskheta invited Eustathius to a celebration, but he
declined, saying, I am stamped with the seal of Christ and far
removed from every darkness! After the celebration the fireworshippers reported Eustathius to Ustam, the chief of the Mtskheta
Fortress. The chief summoned Eustathius and threatened him, saying,
You will not remain a Christian without punishment. If you do not
voluntarily turn back from this way of misfortune, severe tortures will
await you! St. Eustathius calmly answered him, saying, For the sake
of Christ I am prepared to endure not only torture but even death
itself with rejoicing! Since he himself did not have the authority to
punish Eustathius, Ustam sent the accused to the marzban Arvand
Gushnasp. Then the informers appeared again before Ustam and
reported

that

seven

more

fire-worshippers

had

converted

to

Christianity. All eight of them were bound in chains and escorted to


Tbilisi. The furious marzban ordered his servants to shave the
captives heads and beards, bore holes in their noses, hang weights
round their necks, fetter their bodies in chains and cast them into
prison. Anyone who denied Christ was to be pardoned. Two of the
victims, Bakhdiad and Panagushnasp, could not bear the suffering and
denied Christ. The marzban freed them, while the six holy men
Gushnaki, Eustathius, Borzo, Perozak, Zarmil and Stevenremained in
confinement. Six months later Arvand Gushnasp was summoned to
Persia, so Catholicos Samoel, the chieftain Grigol of Mtskheta and the
nobleman Arshusha took advantage of the opportunity and requested
476

that he release the imprisoned Persian Christians. Arvand Gushnasp


yielded to the request of the Georgian dignitaries, but warned that the
Christian converts would soon meet their deaths. Meanwhile, the
betrayer Bakhdiad fell ill with epilepsy and died, while Panagushnasp
lived on in terrible poverty. Three years later Vezhan Buzmir was
appointed the new marzban of Kartli, and the pagan priests again
reported on Sts. Eustathiuss and Stevens conversion. St. Eustathius
asked to see his family and said to them: Farewell, for I am not
destined to return home again. I will not betray Christ, and for this
they will not forgive me. Imprisonment and beheading await me in
Tbilisi. My remains will be brought here according to Gods will.
Eustathius and Steven were escorted to the new marzban, and
Eustathius declared before him that he would not deny Christ. The
enraged marzban ordered that he be cast into prison and that his
head be chopped off that night and his body thrown behind the
fortress wall, to be torn to pieces by the birds. As directed, the
marzbans servants beheaded the saint and cast his body into the
abyss behind the fortress wall. But a group of faithful Christians
located St. Eustathiuss body and carried it in secret to Mtskheta.
Catholicos Samoel met the holy relics when they arrived, and with
great honor they were buried in Svetitskhoveli Cathedral under the
altar table.

INSIDE AN ORTHORDOX CHURCH

477

TODAY IS JULY 30

Blessed Saint Angelina Brancovich the


Princess of Serbia
DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saints Angelina and Stephen were the parents of St. John of Serbia.
The life of the Serbian ruler Stephen Brankovich and his family was
filled with instability and misfortune. After Serbia was seized in 1457
by

the

Turks,

the

then

Serbian

rulers

middle

son,

Stephen,

distinguished by a meek disposition and fine knowledge of Holy


Scripture, went to the capital of Turkey after his sister had been given
to Sultan Murat in marriage. Learning that the Turks had burned the
Mileshevsk monastery with fanatic cruelty, St. Stephen rose up to
defend Serbia from oppression. When he married Angelina, the
daughter of the Prince of Albania, the Turks threatened St. Stephen
and his family with punishment. With his wife and three children he
was forced to hide first in Albania, and then in Italy, where he died.
St. Angelina transferred the incorrupt relics of her spouse to
Kupinovo. At the end of the fifteenth century, their son St. John,
became ruler of Serbia. The incorrupt relics of St. John and his
parents were afterwards glorified by many miracles.

478

TODAY IS JULY 31

Saint Arsenius, Bishop of Ninotsminda


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Arsenius of Ninotsminda was an ascetic who labored in the 11th


century. History tells us that he was a brilliant translator, writer,
calligrapher, and theologian, and indeed one of the greatest Church
figures of his time. St. Arsenius was tonsured a monk in Jerusalem,
and after some time he returned to Georgia, where he was
consecrated bishop of Ninotsminda. But the venerable Arsenius
longed to lead a life of solitude, so he approached King Davit
Kuropalates for permission to resign from the bishopric and settle at
a monastery. The king honored Arseniuss request, and the pious man
set off for the monastery with John Grdzeslidze, a man of letters and
another great figure in the Church. When the news of his decision
reached the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos, Sts. John and Ekvtime
invited the fathers to Mt. Athos, and the next year Arsenius and John
arrived at the Holy Mountain. There they assisted St. Ekvtime in his
translations of the Holy Scriptures and many theological books. St.
Arsenius labored fruitfully at the Iveron Monastery for many years and
reposed peacefully at an advanced age. He was buried on Mt. Athos
at the monasterys church of St. Simeon the Stylite. St. George of the
Holy Mountain later translated his relics to the ossuary of the
monasterys catholicon.
479

480

TODAY IS AUGUST 1

Martyr Saint Solomonia,


Mother of Seven Holy Martyrs
DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Solomonia was the mother of the seven Maccabee brothers. She
encouraged her sons to remain faithful to the Law of God even when
threatened with death. This admirable mother is honored and
remembered for her great courage, for she watched all seven of her
sons die in a single day. May we also be faithful to Gods
commandments and the traditions of the Church.

TODAY IS AUGUST 2

Saint Nicodemus the Righteous


DAY OF CELEBRATION

The holy and righteous Nicodemus was a Pharisee who came to hear
the Lord by night. After the Crucifixion, he acted as one of the Holy
481

Myrrhbearers. Because of this, he is commemorated on the Sunday of


Myrrh-bearing Women, two weeks after Pascha. In the Gospel of John,
he appears three times. The first is the aforementioned encounter,
where he visits Jesus in the dead of the night (in order to avoid
persecution by the Sanhedrin, the Jewish temple leaders, of which he
was a member) to listen to his teachings (John 3:1-21). This meeting,
a poignant scene in the Gospel, is where Jesus tells Nicodemus that
one must be "born again" in order to enter into the Kingdom of God.
The second appearance is in John 7:45-51, where he states the law
concerning the arrest of Jesus at the Feast of Booths. Finally, his last
appearance is after the Crucifixion where he assists the Noble
Joseph in recovering Jesus' body and preparing it for burial (John
19:39-42). Not much is known outside of John's Gospel regarding the
life of St. Nicodemus after the Resurrection. Church tradition states
that he was possibly martyred sometime during the 1st Century.

TODAY IS AUGUST 3

Martyr Saint Razhden of Persia the Georgian


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Razhden the Protomartyr was descended from a noble Persian


family. When Holy King Vakhtang Gorgasali married the daughter of
the Persian king Hormuzd III Balunducht, the queen took Razhden
482

with her to Georgia. In Kartli Razhden converted to the Christian


Faith, and King Vakhtang presented him with an estate and appointed
him as a military adviser and commander. At that time Georgia was
under

heavy

political

pressure

from

Persia.

Enraged

at

King

Vakhtangs clearly Christian convictions, the Persian king Peroz (Son


of Yazgard III, 457-484) attacked Georgia with an enormous army. His
accomplishments in this battle earned Razhden his distinction as a
brave and virtuous warrior. Before long the furious King Peroz ordered
that a certain Persian aristocrat who had converted to Christianity
and survived the battle be taken captive. The Persians surrounded
Razhden, bound his hands and feet, and delivered him to their king.
Peroz received him with feigned tenderness, saying, Greetings, my
virtuous Razhden! Peace be to you! Where have you been all this time,
and for what reason have you turned from the faith of your fathers to
confess a creed in which your fathers did not instruct you? Razhden
fearlessly asserted that Christianity is the only true faith and that
Christ is the only true Savior of mankind. King Peroz tried to conceal
his anger and cunningly lure Razhden to his side, but his attempt was
in vain. Convinced that his efforts were futile, Peroz finally ordered
that the saint be beaten without mercy. The expert executioners
trampled St. Razhden, battered him, knocked out his teeth, dragged
him across jagged cliffs, then chained him in heavy irons and cast him
into prison. When the news of Razhdens suffering and captivity
spread to Mtskheta, the Georgian nobility came to Peroz and
requested that he free the holy man. Peroz consented to their request,
but made Razhden vow to return. Razhden arrived in Mtskheta, bid
farewell to his family and the beloved king Vakhtang Gorgasali and,
despite his loved ones admonitions to the contrary, returned to Peroz.
The Persian king tried again to return Razhden to the religion of the
fire-worshippers. But seeing that he would not be broken, Peroz
instead ordered his exile to a military camp at Tsromi in central
483

Georgia. Then he secretly ordered the chief of the Persian camp to


turn him away from Christianity and to execute him if he refused.
Your flattery and bribes are insulting to me. With joy I am prepared to
endure every suffering for the sake of Christ! Razhden replied to his
appeals. If he hopes in the Crucified One, then he also is fit to suffer
crucifixion! Such was the Persians verdict. They erected a cross,
crucified Christs humble servant, and prepared to shoot at the pious
man with bow and arrow. Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commit my spirit!
were the last words of St. Razhden. That night a group of Christians
stole the Persians cross, took the holy martyrs body down from it,
and buried his holy relics in secret. A few years later Vakhtang
Gorgasali translated St. Razhdens relics from Tsromi to Nikozi (in
central Georgia) and interred them in a cathedral that he had built
there not long before. Holy King Vakhtang later erected churches in
honor of Georgias first martyr in Ujarma and Samgori in eastern
Georgia.

TODAY IS AUGUST 4

Martyr Saint Eudokia of Persia


DAY OF CELEBRATION

The Holy Martyr Eudokia was a native of Anatolia, living in the fourth
century. The army of the Persian emperor Sapor took her into
captivity with 9,000 Christians. Since she knew the Holy Scriptures
484

well, she instructed the prisoners. The saint also preached to the
Persian women and converted many of them to Christianity. For this
she was subjected to lengthy and fierce tortures and then beheaded.

TODAY IS AUGUST 5

Saint John Jacob the Chozebite


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint John the Chozebite, the son of Maxim and Catherine Jacob, was
born July 23, 1913 in the Horodistea district of Moldavia. He was
named for the holy prophet Elias. In 1914, his father died in the war,
and his mother succumbed to a disease, leaving Elias as an orphan.
His grandmother Maria raised him until he was eleven. She was a nun,
so she was able to educate him in spiritual matters. She died in 1924,
so young Elias went to live with other relatives. He had a great love
for Christ and His Church, and longed for the monastic life. He entered
Neamts Monastery on August 15, 1933 when he was twenty years old.
Here his soul was nourished by the beauty of the services, the
experienced spiritual instructors, and the silence of the mountains.
The young monk loved prayer, vigils, spiritual reading, and solitude,
and soon he surpassed many experienced monks in obedience,
humility, and patience. Seeing his great love for spiritual books, the
igumen made him the monasterys librarian. Elias gave comfort to
485

many of the brethren by recommending specific books for each one to


read. Then he would advise them to read the book carefully, make
their confession, and not miss the services if they wanted to find
peace. His spiritual efforts attracted the notice of Archimandrite
Valerie Moglan, who recommended that Elias be permitted to receive
monastic tonsure. He was tonsured on April 8, 1936 and received the
name John. From that time, the young monk intensified his spiritual
efforts, conquering the temptations of the demons, and progressing
on the path of salvation. St. John made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land
with two other monks in 1936, and they decided to remain there. The
monk Damascene fell ill, however, and had to be taken back to
Romania by the monk Claudius after eight months. At first, St. John
lived in Bethlehem near St. Savas Monastery. Romanian monks had
lived at St. Savas since the sixteenth century, and John struggled
there for almost ten years. He was made librarian of the monastery,
and he fulfilled this obedience for about seven years. In 1945 St. John
longed for the peace and solitude of the desert, and so he went to live
as a hermit. He was ordained as a priest in 1947, and became igumen
of the Romanian Skete of St. John the Baptist by the Jordan. Pilgrims
often came to him for Confession, Communion, and consolation. In his
free time he composed religious poems and hymns. After five years,
he and his disciple went into the desert of Chozeba near Jericho. Here
they lived in asceticism for eight years in the cave where, according
to tradition, St. Anna had prayed. St. John Jacob died on August 5,
1960 at the age of forty-seven and was buried in his cave. On August
8, 1980 his relics were found incorrupt and fragrant. They now rest in
the St. George the Chozebite Monastery. In 1968 and 1970, St. Johns
book SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT was published in two volumes,
with the blessing of Patriarch Benedict of Jerusalem. St. John Jacob
was glorified by the Romanian Orthodox Church in 1992.

486

TODAY IS AUGUST 6

Saint Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney (8 May 1786 August 1859), commonly


known in English as St. John Vianney, was a parish priest who is
venerated as a saint and as the patron saint of all priests. He is often
referred to as the "Cur d'Ars". He became internationally notable for
his priestly and pastoral work in his parish because of the radical
spiritual transformation of the community and its surroundings.
Vianney came to be known internationally, and people from distant
places began traveling to consult him as early as 1827. "By 1855, the
number of pilgrims had reached 20,000 a year. During the last ten
years of his life, he spent 16 to 18 hours a day in the confessional.
Even the bishop forbade him to attend the annual retreats of the
diocesan clergy because of the souls awaiting him yonder". He spent
at least 11 or 12 hours a day in the confessional during winter, and up
to 16 in the summer. Vianney had a great devotion to St. Philomena.
Vianney regarded her as his guardian and erected a chapel and shrine
in honor of the saint. During May 1843, Vianney fell so ill he thought
that his life was coming to its end. He asked St. Philomena to cure
him and promised to say 100 Masses at her shrine. Twelve days later,
Vianney was cured and he attributed his cure to St. Philomena.
Vianney yearned for the contemplative life of a monk, and four times
ran away from Ars, the last time in 1853. He was a champion of the
poor and a recipient of the coveted French Legion of Honor. Other
priest attribute this to his saintly life, mortification, his persevering
ministry in the sacrament of confession, and his ardent devotion to
487

the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Philomena. On 4 August 1859,


Vianney died at age of 73. The bishop presided over his funeral with
300 priests and more than 6,000 people in attendance. Before he was
buried Vianney was fitted with a wax mask.

Biographers recorded

miracles performed throughout his life, obtaining money for his


charities and food for his orphans; he had supernatural knowledge of
the past and future, and could heal the sick, especially children.

TODAY IS AUGUST 7

Saint Theodora of Sihla


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Theodora, the greatest of Romanias holy ascetics, was born in


the village of Vanatori, Neamts in the first half of the seventeenth
century, and was the daughter of Stephen Joldea and his wife. She
was married to a man, Ismail, but had no children. Therefore, she and
her husband decided to enter the monastic life. Her husband went to
the Skete of Poiana Marului, where he was tonsured with the name
Eleutherius. He was also ordained to the holy priesthood. Theodora
also received the monastic tonsure in the Skete of Poiana Marului. In
just a few years, she advanced in obedience, prayer, and asceticism,
acquiring the grace of unceasing prayer of the heart. When her skete
was destroyed by the Turks, she fled to the Buzau Mountains with her
spiritual mother, Schemanun Paisia. They lived for several years in
488

fasting,

vigil

and

prayer,

enduring

cold, hunger,

and demonic

temptations. When her spiritual mother fell asleep in the Lord, St.
Theodora was led by God to the mountains of Neamts. After
venerating the wonderworking Neamts Icon of the Mother of God in
the monastery, she was told to seek the advice of Hieromonk
Barsanuphius of Sihastria Skete. Seeing her desire for the eremetical
life, and recognizing her great virtues, he gave her Holy Communion
and assigned Hieromonk Paul as her Father Confessor and spiritual
guide. Fr. Barsanuphius advised Theodora to go and live alone in the
wilderness for a year. If, by the grace of Christ, you are able to
endure the difficulties and trials of the wilderness, then remain there
until you die. If you cannot endure, however, then go to a womens
monastery, and struggle there in humility for the salvation of your
soul. Fr. Paul searched in vain for an abandoned hermitage where St.
Theodora might live. Then they met an old hermit living beneath the
cliffs of Sihla. This clairvoyant Elder greeted them and said, Mother
Theodora, remain in my cell, for I am moving to another place. Fr.
Paul left Theodora on Mount Sihla, blessing her before he returned to
the skete. St. Theodora lived in that cell for thirty years. Strengthened
with power from on high, she vanquished all the attacks of the Enemy
through patience and humility. She never left the mountain, and never
saw another person except for Fr. Paul, who visited her from time to
time to bring her the Spotless Mysteries of Christ and the supplies she
needed to survive. St. Theodora made such progress in asceticism
that she was able to keep vigil all night long with her arms lifted up
toward heaven. When the morning sun touched her face, she would
eat some herbs and other vegetation to break her fast. She drank
rainwater which she collected from a channel cut into the cliff, which
is still known as St. Theodoras Spring. When Turks attacked the
villages and monasteries around Neamts, the woods became filled
with villagers and monastics. Some nuns found St. Theodoras cell,
489

and she called out to them, Remain here in my cell, for I have
another place of refuge. Then she moved into a nearby cave, living
there completely alone. An army of Turks discovered the cave, and
were about to kill the saint. Lifting up her hands, she cried out, O
Lord, deliver me from the hands of these murderers. The wall of the
cave opened, and she was able to escape into the woods. As St.
Theodora grew old, she was forgotten and there was no one to care
for her. Placing all her hope in God, she continued her spiritual
struggles, and reached great heights of perfection. When she prayed
her mind was raised up to heaven, and her body was lifted up off the
ground. Like the great saints of earlier times, her face shone with a
radiant light, and a flame came forth from her mouth when she
prayed. In time her clothes became mere rags, and when her food ran
out, she was fed by birds like the Prophet Elias. They brought her
crusts of bread from the Sihastria Skete. Seeing the birds come to the
skete and then fly away with pieces of bread in their beaks, the
igumen sent two monks to follow them. Night fell as they walked
toward Sihla, and they lost their way in the woods. They decided to
wait for daylight, and began to pray. Suddenly, they saw a bright light
stretching up into the sky, and went to investigate. As they
approached, they saw a woman shining with light and levitating above
the ground as she prayed. St. Theodora said, Brethren, do not be
afraid, for I am a humble handmaiden of Christ. Throw me something
to wear, for I am naked. Then she told them of her life and
approaching death. She asked them to go to the skete and ask for Fr.
Anthony and the hierodeacon Laurence to come and bring her
Communion. They asked her how they could find their way to the
skete at night, for they did not know the way. She said that they
would be guided to the skete by a light which would go before them.
The next day at dawn, Fr. Anthony went to Sihla with the deacon and
two other monks. When they found St. Theodora, she was praying by a
490

fir tree in front of her cave. She confessed to the priest, then received
the Holy Mysteries of Christ and gave her soul to God. The monks
buried her in her cave with great reverence sometime during the first
decade of the eighteenth century. News of her death spread quickly,
and people came from all over to venerate her tomb. Her holy relics
remained incorrupt, and many miracles took place before them. Some
kissed the relics, others touched the reliquary, while others washed
in her spring. All who entreated St. Theodoras intercession received
healing and consolation. St. Theodoras former husband, Hieromonk
Eleutherius, heard that she had been living at Sihla, and decided to go
there. He found her cave shortly after her death and burial. Grieving
for his beloved wife, Eleutherius did not return to his monastery, but
made a small cell for himself below the cliffs of Sihla. He remained
close to her cave, fasting, praying, and serving the Divine Liturgy. He
lived there for about ten years before his blessed repose. He was
buried in the hermits cemetery, and the Skete of St. John the Baptist
was built over his grave. St Theodoras relics were taken to the Kiev
Caves Monastery between 1828 and 1834. There she is known as St.
Theodora of the Carpathians.

491

TODAY IS AUGUST 8

Saint Euthymius the Elder


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Euthymius was abbot of the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in
the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. In the chronicles of the monastery he is
commemorated as a man of many labors. According to the 19thcentury

historian

philosopher

and

Prince

John

theologian

and

Bagrationi,
an

Euthymius

outstanding

was

preacher.

a
He

dedicated his life to improving the monastery and rebuilt the nearby
village of Khashmi, which had been utterly razed by Dagestani
thieves. In Khashmi he constructed a mill and planted a vineyard with
a rare variety of grapes. He adorned the monastery and expanded the
estate surrounding the complex. At his instruction, a great number of
theological works were translated, and many rare books were
recopied. St. Euthymius instructed several of his pupils in philosophy
and theology as well. In 1797 the black plague broke out in Tbilisi and
residents fled from the city. Like true guardian angels, monastics and
hermits abandoned their isolated cells and arrived to minister to the
sick and the suffering. As he had in so many other worthy endeavors,
St. Euthymius served as the leader and inspiration behind these
works of mercy. The pious Euthymius reposed peacefully in the year
1804.

492

TODAY IS AUGUST 9

Holy Martyr Saint Anthony


DAY OF CELEBRATION

A native of Alexandria, he was brought before the pagan governor and


tortured for his faith, but would not renounce Christ. Finally he was
burned alive, but from the flames he called out: 'My beloved brethren,
do not be enslaved by your bodies, but give thought to your souls,
given to you by God and kin to God and to the heavenly powers.'

TODAY IS AUGUST 10

Saint Lawrence
DAY OF CELEBRATION

The holy, glorious and right-victorious Archdeacon and Martyr Saint


Lawrence was one of the seven deacons of the Church of Rome.
Emperor Valerian issued an edict commanding that all bishops,
priests, and deacons should be put to death immediately without trial.
This command was immediately carried out. The imperial authorities
soon came to St. Lawrence to demand access to the church treasury.
In the course of three days after the death of the bishop and his
493

fellow archdeacons, St. Lawrence worked quickly to distribute as


much of the ecclesiastical monies to the poor as possible. On the
third day, at the head of a small tribunal, he presented himself to the
prefect, and when ordered to give up the treasures of the Church, he
led them to a room. There he presented the poor, crippled, and
maimed, proclaiming, "Behold the jewels of the Church! The Church is
truly rich, far richer, than your emperor." On August 10, St. Lawrence
was perfected in holy martyrdom, grilled on a gridiron for his faith.
Legend says that he was so strong-willed that, instead of giving in
and releasing information to the Romans at the point of death, he
cried, "Im done on this side! Turn me over and eat!"

TODAY IS AUGUST 11

Saint Niphon the Patriarch of Constantinople


of Mount Athos
DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Niphon, Patriarch of Constantinople, was a native of Greece,


and accepted monasticism at Epidauros. After the death of Elder
Anthony, he went to Athos, where he occupied himself by the copying
of books. The saint was later chosen Metropolitan of Thessalonica,
and still later occupied the Patriarchal throne in Constantinople and
was primate of Valachia. Banished under accusation, the saint went
to Athos, at first to the Vaptopedi monastery, and then to the
494

monastery of St. John the Forerunner (Dionysiou). He concealed his


rank and held the lowest position. By Gods providence, his rank was
revealed to the brethren of the monastery. Once, when the saint was
returning from the forest where he had gone for firewood, all the
brethren went out towards him on the way and solemnly greeted him
as Patriarch. But even after this, the saint shared various tasks with
the brethren. He died on August 11, 1460 at 90 years of age.

TODAY IS AUGUST 12

Martyr Saint Serapion of the St


David Gareji Monastery
DAY OF CELEBRATION

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries the Dagestanis were


continually raiding and pillaging the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. They
destroyed churches and monasteries, stole sacred objects, and
tortured and killed many of the monks who labored there. A Dagestani
army invaded the Davit-Gareji Wilderness in the summer of 1851. They
looted the Davit-Gareji Lavra and carried off many of the monasterys
sacred treasures and books. Then they took many of the monks
captive and tortured a few of the most pious. First they stabbed
Hierodeacon Otar to death, then they beheaded Hieromonk Gerontius.
The unbelievers battered Hieromonk Serapion to death with their
495

swords. Monk Herman was stabbed in the stomach, then beheaded


Monk Besarion was also beheaded. The eighteen-year-old Simeon
tried to flee on foot but was shot at with bows and arrows, then
caught and beheaded. Monk Michael, the most outstanding among the
brothers in humility and silence, was subjected to the harshest
tortures. After their martyrdom the bodies of these holy men were
illumined with a divine light. The martyrdom of the holy fathers of the
Davit-Gareji Monastery was described in 1853 by Hieromonk Isaac of
Gaenati, who witnessed the tragedy. Hieromonk Isaac himself was
captured and led away to Dagestan by the merciless bandits. He was
later freed through the mediation of Tsar Nicholas I (1825-1855).

TODAY IS AUGUST 13

Saint Maximos the Confessor (662)


DAY OF CELEBRATION

He was from a noble family in Constantinople, and became the private


secretary of the Emperor Heraclius and his grandson Constans. But
when the Monothelite heresy (that Christ possesses one divine will,
rather than a divine and a human will) took hold in the Imperial court,
the Saint could not bear to be surrounded by this error and left the
court for the Monastery at Chrysopolis, where in time he became the
abbot. After moving, Maximus studied several Neo-Platonist writers
and became a prominent author. From the monastery he continued to
496

speak and write in defense of Orthodox belief. The Emperor Constans


ordered him either to accept Monothelite belief or to cease speaking
against it, but St. Maximos would do neither. For this, his tongue was
torn out, his right hand was cut off, and he was sent into exile, where
he reposed in 662. However, his theology was upheld by the Third
Council of Constantinople and he was venerated as a saint soon after
his death. His title of Confessor means that he suffered for the
Christian faith, but was not directly martyred. His Life of the Virgin
is thought to be the earliest complete biography of Mary, the mother
of Jesus.

TODAY IS AUGUST 14

Saint Marcellus the Bishop of Apamea


DAY OF CELEBRATION

The Hieromartyr Marcellus, Bishop of Apamea, was born of illustrious


parents on the island of Cyprus. Having received a fine education, he
occupied a high civil office. Everyone marveled at his purity of life,
mildness, kindness and eloquence. In the year 375, after his wife had
died, he and his sons moved to Syria where he devoted himself to a
monastic life. The people of Apamea, having him come to the city on
some practical matter, elected him as bishop. From the account of
Theodoret of Cyrrhus we learn that St. Marcellus received permission
from the emperor St. Theodosius the Great (379-395) to destroy a
497

strongly built temple of Jupiter at Apamea, but the saint didnt know
how to accomplish this. A certain worker promised to help him. He
undermined three of the huge columns, propping them up temporarily
with olive wood. Then he tried to set them afire, but the wood would
not burn. When St. Marcellus learned of this, he performed the Lesser
Blessing of Water, and he commanded that this water be faithfully
sprinkled around the wood. After this, the wood burned quickly, the
columns fell down and the whole pagan temple collapsed in upon
itself. When soldiers near Aulona in the Apamea district demolished
another pagan temple, the saint, watching from a distance, was
seized by pagans and thrown into a fire. The killers were found, and
the saints sons wanted to take revenge. A local Council forbade them
to do this, decreeing that it would be wrong to avenge such a death
as the saint had received. Instead, they ought to give thanks to God.

TODAY IS AUGUST 15

Saint Macarius the Roman, Abbot


DAY OF CELEBRATION

St. Macarius was born in Rome, into a wealthy and renowned Italian
family. He received a superior education and a brilliant future lay
before him. But this is not what concerned him. This was the time of
the Reformation, a schism which shook Western Christendom;
meanwhile, Rome was drowning in luxury and licentiousness. This
situation grieved the youth who could think of nothing but how to
498

save his soul. He sought answers to his tormenting perplexities in the


Holy Scriptures and patristic writings. And the Lord indicated to him
the way of salvation--through the Eastern Orthodox Church. So,
secretly, one night, dressed as a pilgrim, a staff in his hand, the youth
left his native land. He gave away his money to the poor and became
himself a poor man, leaving behind his family and close ones. His
journey to northern Russia, a land altogether foreign to him, was
difficult, but at last he reached Novgorod. The newcomer found the
city very much to his liking, with its numerous churches and
monasteries, the strict life of the monks and the patriarchal way of
life. He visited all its holy shrines and eventually came to the shores
of the river Svir, where St. Alexander had founded the Holy Trinity
Monastery. There he was warmly received. St. Alexander united the
newcomer to the Orthodox Church, accepted him into the brotherhood
and, finally, tonsured him, giving him the name Macarius. The new
monk, however, longed for the eremitic life. He again made a
pilgrimage to Novgorod and then secluded himself on a small island
on the marshy banks of the river Lezna, an area surrounded by dense
forest, located some 45 miles from Novgorod and 53 miles from
Petersburg. There he gave himself to ceaseless prayer and monastic
labors. Such a life could not have been easy for the native of sunny
Italy: the winters there were severe, the summers hot and humid, with
clouds of mosquitoes. The hermit nourished himself with forest
berries, grasses and roots. Bears came, and he would feed and pet
them. Once there was a knock on the door of his cell: some
exhausted travelers had lost their way. "If it weren't for your prayers,
O man of God, we would never have found your cell and would have
perished in the marshes where we were hunting!" "It was not my
sinful prayers," replied the saint, "but God's grace that led you here."
He gave them to eat of his humble fare and, after a brief
Conversation, prayed with them and showed them a safe route out of
499

the marsh. The hunters looked upon the holy hermit as an angel. They
were struck by his humility and especially by his patient endurance of
the ascetic life. In this way St. Macarius became known. People
began coming to him for counsel, for blessing and prayer. He never
denied anyone spiritual aid, but his solitude was disturbed, and the
glory was burdensome. He went deeper into the forest and, on the
banks of the same river, built himself another cell. Here, however,
God's will manifest itself clearly. Above his new cell appeared
sometimes a fiery pillar, sometimes a fragrant cloud, rising toward
heaven. And people again discovered his whereabouts. Many began
asking his blessing to settle there with him. "May God's will be done,"
said the saint. A church was built, dedicated to the Dormition of the
Mother of God, and cells for the brethren. Archbishop Macarius of
Novgorod ordained the Saint and, about the year 1540, appointed him
abbot of the new monastery. St. Macarius was granted the blessed
gifts of clairvoyance and wonderworking. After his repose he
frequently appeared in visions to sick people, blessed them to drink
water from the spring he had dug, and they were healed. Before he
died, St. Macarius returned to his first skete and there, on the feast of
Dormition, August 15, 1550, he gave his soul to the Lord. The brethren
buried him near the Dormition church and built another, dedicated to
St. Sabbatius of Solovki. In his testament, St. Macarius enjoined the
monks to adhere strictly to the monastic rule, to spread the Gospel
and take care for the spiritual enlightenment and the needs of the
local people. His testament was fulfilled. St. Macarius' Hermitage was
always poor and small in number. Over the years it suffered many
misfortunes and by the mid-19th century there remained little but
ruins. Local inhabitants, however, piously recalled its holy founder.
They continued to take holy water from the spring and, on the days of
his commemoration, gathered by the thousand. Finally, in 1894, the
hermitage was restored by a missionary abbot, Arsenius, and became
500

a missionary monastery with a strict Athonite typicon. It belonged to


those numerous but little-known, small monasteries which had such a
great influence on their surrounding populations.

TODAY IS AUGUST 16

Saint Joachim of Osogov


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Joachim of Osogov was one of four great hermits of Bulgaria. He


inspired hundreds and thousands of people to Christian asceticism by
his ascetic efforts.

He lived in the eleventh century, known only by a few, in a cave on a


mountain of Osogov where a monastery now stands.

TODAY IS AUGUST 17

Saint Tbeli Abuseridze


DAY OF CELEBRATION

501

The holy Father Saint Tbeli Abuseridze lived and labored in the 13th
century. His father John, the archduke of Upper Atchara, perished in a
battle with the Turks. After Tbelis mother was widowed, she was
tonsured a nun and given the name Katherine. Tbelis brothers,
Abuseri and Bardan, were also well-known figures in their time. St.
Tbeli received an education befitting his noble rank and succeeded in
fully developing his natural abilities. St. Tbeli left an indelible mark on
the history of Georgian culture as a hymnographer, an astronomer, an
expert in sacred music, and a scholar of diverse interests. We know
from his works that he built a church in honor of St. George in the
village of Khikhani (in upper Atchara), and it has been suggested that
he composed most of his works, including a chronicle of his own
ancestry, in that village. He had seven children whom he brought
there, and at the end of his chronicle he left a second testament,
commanding that his familys future generations be brought there as
well. St. Tbeli contributed immensely to the life of Gelati Academy.
Historians believe it was there that he received the broad education
that allowed him to express himself in so many different fields. St.
Tbelis collection of hymns to St. John the Baptist, St. John the
Theologian, and St. John Chrysostom reveals his true piety and talent
as a writer of the Church. The profound theological ideas, the
symbolic and mystical comprehension of phenomena, the knowledge
of the visible and comprehension of the invisible evident in this
work paint St. Tbeli as one equally endowed as both a scholar and a
theologian. St. Tbeli was fascinated by the science of chronology, and
502

he compiled a work called Chronicles: Complete Commentaries and

Rules to address some of the problems related to chronology.


Combining a solid understanding of astronomy and history, this work
conveys the cosmic meaning of the Julian calendar and Christian
eschatology. St. Tbelis famous hagiographical work The New

Miracle

of

Great-martyr

George

contains

valuable

historical

information about the Abuseridze familys efforts to revive Georgian


culture during the ancient feudal epoch. While pursuing his literary
and scholarly interests, St. Tbeli also labored as a holy and Godfearing pastor (Scholars believe that the saint was a bishop of Tbeti,
from which he received his appellation Tbeli). The Georgian Apostolic
Church has numbered our Holy Father Tbeli Abuseridze among the
saints in recognition of the countless good deeds he performed on
behalf of the Church and its people.

TODAY IS AUGUST 18

Venerable Saint Christodoulos the Philosopher


DAY OF CELEBRATION

The great Church figure and philosopher St. Christodoulos was from
the village of Sakara in the Imereti region. He possessed an
exceptional knowledge of the Holy Scriptures and spoke several
languages fluently. To support his prodigious understanding of the
Christian Faith, Christodoulos became thoroughly acquainted with
503

other creeds as well. To this purpose, he even memorized the Koran.


Once the Persian king Iamame arranged a debate on theological
issues between the Muslims and the Christians, and he invited the
elder Christodoulos to take part in this event. At first the king himself
debated with the elder and suffered an upset. Then a certain pagan
astrologer was brought to replace him, and when it became clear that
he too was no match for the elder-philosopher, he summoned a
renowned scholar to outwit him. In the debates with this scholar,
Christodoulos freely cited both the Holy Scriptures and the Koran, and
with his brilliant logic and rhetoric he triumphed over his rival. His
challengers were disgraced. In his work Pilgrimage, the famous
19th-century historian Archbishop Timote (Gabashvili) describes his
journey to Mt. Athos and notes that St. Christodoulos had labored with
the monks of the Iveron Monastery. Church historians believe that St.
Christodoulos labored first in Georgia, then moved to Mt. Athos, and
finally to the island of Patmos.

TODAY IS AUGUST 19

Saint Theophanes of Dochiariou of Mt. Athos


DAY OF CELEBRATION

St. Theophanes the New, a native of the city of Ioannina, lived during
the sixteenth century. As a young man, he received monastic tonsure
on Mount Athos at the Docheiariou monastery. He was later chosen
igumen of this monastery because of his lofty virtue. In giving refuge
504

to his own nephew (who had been forcibly converted to Islam) from
the Turks who had captured Constantinople, St. Theophanes, with the
help of God, freed the youth, hid him in his own monastery and
blessed him to enter the monastic life. The brethren, fearing revenge
on the part of the Turks, began to grumble against the saint. He, not
wanting to be the cause of discord and dissension, humbly withdrew
with his nephew from the Docheiariou monastery, quit the Holy
Mountain and went to Beroea. There, in the skete monastery of St.
John the Forerunner, St. Theophanes built a church in honor of the
Most Holy Theotokos. And as monks began to gather, he gave them a
cenobitic monastic rule. When the monastery flourished, the saint
withdrew to a new place at Naousa, where he made a church in honor
of the holy Archangels and founded there also a monastery. To the
very end of his days St. Theophanes did not forsake guiding the
monks of both monasteries, both regarding him as their common
father. In a revelation foreseeing his own end and giving his flock a
final farewell, the saint died in extreme old age at the Beroeia
monastery. Even during life the Lord had glorified his humble saint:
saving people from destruction, he calmed a storm by his prayer, and
converted sea water into drinking water. Even after death, the saint
has never forsaken people with his grace-filled help.

505

TODAY IS AUGUST 20

Holy Father Saint Horus


DAY OF CELEBRATION

St. Horus in his youth withdrew into the Thebaid desert [is the region
of ancient Egypt containing the thirteen southernmost nomes of
Upper Egypt, from Abydos to Aswan. It acquired its name from its
proximity to the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes] and struggled in
complete solitude for many years, leading the life of a strict hermit.
Having advanced in years, St. Horus was granted to see an angel, who
announced that the Lord had destined him for the salvation of the
many people who would seek his guidance. After this, the monk
began to accept everyone who came to him for advice and help. The
Lord granted him a gift of reading the Holy Scriptures, despite the fact
that the saint since childhood had not been taught reading and
writing. Gradually, a large monastery formed around StHorus, in which
the holy Elder was the spiritual guide. The monk never entered the
trapeza for food, nor did he eat on the day of partaking of the Holy
Mysteries. He often taught the brethren by means of stories about the
temptations which might beset a monk living in solitude. But he
always told them in such a way that everyone would know that he
was speaking of desert-dwellers personally known to him. The saint
concealed his own ascetic exploits. Once, when the saint still lived
with only one disciple, he brought to the Elder's attention the
approach of Holy Pascha. St. Horus immediately stood up at prayer,
506

and raising his hands, he stood thus for three days under the open
sky, in unceasing prayer. He then explained to his disciple that for a
monk every feast day, and especially Pascha, is celebrated by
removing oneself from everything mundane and lifting up one's mind
to unity with God. All the thoughts and deeds of his disciples were
revealed to St. Horus, and no one dared to lie to him. Having survived
well into old age, St. Horus founded several monasteries, comprising
altogether as many as 1,000 monastics. He died at age 90 in about
the year 390.

TODAY IS AUGUST 21

Saint Sarmean, the Catholicos of Kartli, Georgia


DAY OF CELEBRATION

The chronicles listing the generations of chief shepherds of Georgia


reveal that St. Sarmean was leader of the Georgian Apostolic Church
from the year 767 (or 760, according to some sources) until the year
774. These were years of Arab-Muslim rule in Georgia. The Arabs
persecuted the Christians, oppressed those who served in the Church,
and tried in every way to convert the country to Islam. Despite the
frightful abuses that the faithful endured and the transformation of
the city into a residence for the emir, many Tbilisi churches continued
to function. Sarmean was a firm defender of Orthodoxy. Once,
however, on Cheese-fare Thursday at Shio-Mgvime Monastery, a group
507

of strangers bearing gifts arrived at the monastery. He served Holy


Communion to them without ever inquiring into their faith. Later he
learned that they were Jacobites (members of one of the Monophysite
churches). His carelessness was revealed to him in a dream that
same night. When he awoke the next morning, Catholicos Sarmean
summoned the bishops, confessed his mistake, burned the gifts that
the Jacobites had given him before their eyes, and departed for an
isolated cave, where he wept over his sin with bitter tears. But the
All-merciful Lord sent a sign to St. Sarmean to inform him that his
transgression had been forgiven. The bishops sent him a message
from Mtskheta: O Great Sovereign Patriarch Sarmean! Rejoice! We,
your spiritual children, believers in your holiness, the entire council of
bishops, wish to inform you that St. Shio has appeared and told each
of the five of us that the Lord has remitted your sin. Make haste and
summon us to the monastery, that we may give thanks together to our
Holy Father Shio! Holy Catholicos Sarmean, divinely endowed with
humility, faith, love, and the fear of God, led his flock wisely to the
end of his days and reposed peacefully in the year 774.

TODAY IS AUGUST 22

Martyr Saint Agathonicus of Nicomedia


DAY OF CELEBRATION

He lived in Nicomedia, where he turned many pagans from their


idolatry to faith in Christ. For this he and several companions were
seized, beaten, bound by the Turks and taken to Byzantium. On the
508

way, several of Agathonicus' companions died from their harsh


treatment. The survivors, including Agathonicus himself, were taken
to Selyvria in Thrace, where they were tortured before the Emperor
himself, then beheaded.

TODAY IS AUGUST 23

Hieromartyr Saiunt Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons


DAY OF CELEBRATION

He was born in Asia Minor around the year 120, and was a disciple of
Saint Polycarp, who was in turn a disciple of St. John the Evangelist.
He succeeded the martyred St. Pothinus as Bishop of Lyons in Gaul.
He produced many writings contesting not only against paganism but
against Gnostic heresies that were then troubling the Church. When
Victor, Bishop of Rome, planned to excommunicate the Christians of
Asia Minor for celebrating Easter on a different date than the Church
of Rome, Irenaeus persuaded him to stay his hand and maintain unity
and peace in the Church. (This was before the date of Easter had
been set by the Ecumenical Councils). By his efforts Lyons became
for centuries a center and bastion of Orthodoxy in the West.

509

TODAY IS AUGUST 24

Saint Serapion, Abbot of the St. John the


Baptist Monastery
DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Serapion was abbot of the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in
the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. He was endowed by God with the ability
to work miracles. Once St. Serapion set off for the city, following at a
short distance behind several of the monasterys brothers. While they
were traveling, a group of bandits attacked the monks who were
walking in front of their abbot and made off with many of the church
vessels they were carrying. Terrified, the monks ran back to Serapion
and told him what had happened Great is God! said Serapion. I will
not permit the unbelievers to steal His sacred things! With staff in
hand, the elder raced ahead alone in pursuit of the robbers. When the
robbers turned back they saw a terrible flame issuing forth from the
elders staff and became greatly afraid. They abandoned the donkey
that had been carrying their spoils and took to their heels. Another
time Serapion suddenly burst out of his cell and cried to the brothers,
Woe is me! Woe is me! Robbers have attacked the servants on their
way to the monastery! Having made this frightening announcement,
he returned to his cell and began to pray. After a few hours the
distraught servants arrived at the monastery and reported that
bandits had attacked them along the way. The servants said that,
510

when fleeing their attackers, they had abandoned the mules that were
hauling the monasterys property. A short time later the mules arrived
at the monastery unaccompanied, bearing their load as before. St.
Serapion eventually abandoned his leadership of the monastery. He
was tonsured into the great schema and withdrew into seclusion.
Soon after, God revealed to him that his death was near, and he asked
the brothers to bury him under the church gates, in a grave that he
had prepared for himself. He intended for all who entered there to
walk over his grave. St. Serapion reposed in the year 1774.

TODAY IS AUGUST 25

Saint Barses the Confessor


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Barses and Eulogius, Bishops of Edessa, and Protogenes the


Confessor, Bishop of Carrhae, suffered from the Arians in the second
half of the fourth century. The emperor Valentius, wishing to
propagate the Arian heresy, fiercely persecuted the Orthodox. In the
city of Edessa he removed St. Barses, a champion for Orthodoxy, from
the bishops throne. He sent him for confinement on the island of
Arad. The Orthodox population there received the exiled saint with
great honor. They banished him farther, to the Egyptian city of
Oxyrhynchos, but there also the warm welcome was repeated. Then
St. Barses was banished to the very frontier of the imperial realm, to
the faraway city of Thenon where, exhausted by his exiles, he died.
511

TODAY IS AUGUST 26

Empress Irene, in monasticism, Saint Xenia


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Irene was the wife of the Byzantine emperor John II Comnenos
(1118-1143). She was very pious, and unequaled in her philanthropic
works. Instead of spending her money on jewelry, cosmetics, or other
worldly vanities, St. Irene used her wealth to care for the poor and the
sick. One of her greatest projects was the building of the royal
monastery of the Pantocrator in Constantinople, the largest, most
beautiful of all the City's monasteries. The Church of Christ has
numbered her among the saints because of her piety, philanthropy, as
well as for her determination to live her life according to the Gospel,
and her patronage of this monastery. Toward the end of her life, St.
Irene was tonsured as a nun with the name Xenia. She died in
Bithynia in 1124, but she and her husband were buried in the
monastery she had founded.

TODAY IS AUGUST 27

Saint Phanourius
DAY OF CELEBRATION

512

When the island of Rhodes had been conquered by Moslems, the new
ruler of the island wished to rebuild the walls of the city, which had
been damaged in previous wars. Several ruined buildings were near
the fortress, and stone from these buildings was used to repair the
walls at the end of the fifteenth century, or the beginning of the
sixteenth. While working on the fortress, the Moslems uncovered the
ruins of a beautiful church. Several icons, most of them badly
damaged, were found on the floor. One icon, of St. Phanourius, looked
as if it had been painted that very day. The local bishop, whose name
was Nilus, was called to see the icon. It said, Saint Phanourius. The
saint is depicted as a young soldier holding a cross in his right hand.
On the upper part of the cross is a lighted taper. Twelve scenes from
his life are shown around the border of the icon. These scenes show
him being questioned by an official, being beaten with stones by
soldiers, stretched out on the ground while soldiers whip him, then
having his sides raked with iron hooks. He is also shown locked up in
prison, standing before the official again, being burned with candles,
tied to a rack, thrown to the wild animals, and being crushed by a
large rock. The remaining scenes depict him standing before idols
holding burning coals in his hands, while a demon stands by
lamenting his defeat by the saint, and finally, the saint stands in the
midst of a fire with his arms raised in prayer. These scenes clearly
revealed

that

the

saint

was

martyr.

Bishop

Nilus

sent

representatives to the Moslem ruler, asking that he be permitted to


restore the church. Permission was denied, so the bishop went to
Constantinople and there he obtained a decree allowing him to rebuild
513

the church. At that time, there was no Orthodox bishop on the island
of Crete. Since Crete was under the control of Venice, there was a
Latin bishop. The Venetians refused to allow a successor to be
consecrated when an Orthodox bishop died, or for new priests to be
ordained, hoping that in time they would be able to convert the
Orthodox population to Catholicism. Those seeking ordination were
obliged to go to the island of Kythera. It so happened that three young
deacons had traveled from Crete to Kythera to be ordained to the holy
priesthood. On their way back, they were captured at sea by Moslems
who brought them to Rhodes to be sold as slaves. Lamenting their
fate, the three new priests wept day and night. While in Rhodes the
priests heard of the miracles performed by the holy Great Martyr
Phanourius. They began to pray to him with tears, asking to be freed
from their captivity. Each of the three had been sold to a different
master, and so remained unaware of what the others were doing. By
the mercy of God, each of the priests was allowed by his master to
pray at the restored church of St. Phanourius. All three arrived at the
same time and prostrated themselves before the icon of the saint,
asking to be delivered from the hands of the Hagarenes (Moslems,
descendents of Hagar). Somewhat consoled, the priests left the
church and returned to their masters. That night St. Phanourius
appeared to the three masters and ordered them to set the priests
free so that they could serve the Church, or he would punish them.
The Moslems ignored the saints warning, believing the vision to be
the result of sorcery. The cruel masters bound the priests with chains
and treated them even worse than before. Then St. Phanourius went
to the priests and freed them from their shackles, promising that they
would be freed the next day. Appearing once more to the Moslems,
the holy martyr told them severely, If you do not release your slaves
by tomorrow, you shall witness the power of God! The next morning,
all the inhabitants of the homes where the priests were held awoke to
514

find themselves blind, paralyzed, and in great pain. They considered


what they were to do, and so decided to send for the priests. When
the three priests arrived, they asked them whether they could heal
them. The priests replied, We will pray to God. May His will be done!
Once more St. Phanourius appeared to the Hagarenes, ordering them
to send to the church a document granting the priests their freedom.
He told them that if they refused to do this, they would never recover
their sight or health. All three masters wrote letters releasing the
priests, and sent the documents to the church, where they were
placed before the icon of St. Phanourius. Before the messengers
returned from the church, all those who had been blind and paralyzed
were healed. The priests joyfully returned to Crete, carrying with
them a copy of the icon of St. Phanourius. Every year they celebrated
the Feast of St. Phanourius with deep gratitude for their miraculous
deliverance. The saints name sounds similar to the Greek verb
phanerono, which means to reveal or to disclose. For this
reason, people pray to St. Phanourius to help them find lost objects.
When the object is recovered, they bake a sweet bread and share it
with the poor, offering prayers for the salvation of saints mother. Her
name is not known, but according to tradition, she was a sinful
woman during her life. St. Phanourius has promised to help those who
pray for his mother in this way.

515

TODAY IS AUGUST 28

Venerable Saint Moses the Black of Scete


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Moses Murin the Black lived during the fourth century in Egypt.
He was an Ethiopian, and he was black of skin and therefore called
Murin (meaning like an Ethiopian). In his youth he was the slave of
an important man, but after he committed a murder, his master
banished him, and he joined a band of robbers. Because of his bad
character and great physical strength they chose him as their leader.
Moses and his band of brigands did many evil deeds, both murders
and robberies. People were afraid at the mere mention of his name.
Moses the brigand spent several years leading a sinful life, but
through the great mercy of God he repented, left his band of robbers
and went to one of the desert monasteries. Here he wept for a long
time, begging to be admitted as one of the brethren. The monks were
not convinced of the sincerity of his repentance, but the former
robber would not be driven away nor silenced. He continued to ask
that they accept him. St. Moses was completely obedient to the
igumen and the brethren, and he poured forth many tears of sorrow
for his sinful life. After a certain while St. Moses withdrew to a
solitary cell, where he spent the time in prayer and the strictest
fasting in a very austere lifestyle. Once, four of the robbers of his
former band descended upon the cell of St Moses. He had lost none of
his great physical strength, so he tied them all up. Throwing them
over his shoulder, he brought them to the monastery, where he asked
the Elders what to do with them. The Elders ordered that they be set
516

free. The robbers, learning that they had chanced upon their former
ringleader, and that he had dealt kindly with them, followed his
example: they repented and became monks. Later, when the rest of
the band of robbers heard about the repentance of St. Moses, then
they also gave up their thievery and became fervent monks. St. Moses
was not quickly freed from the passions. He went often to the igumen,
Abba Isidore, seeking advice on how to be delivered from the
passions of profligacy. Being experienced in the spiritual struggle, the
Elder taught him never to eat too much food, to remain partly hungry
while observing the strictest moderation. But the passions did not
cease to trouble St. Moses in his dreams. Then Abba Isidore taught
him the all-night vigil. The monk stood the whole night at prayer, so
he would not fall asleep. From his prolonged struggles St. Moses fell
into despondency, and when there arose thoughts about leaving his
solitary cell, Abba Isidore instead strengthened the resolve of his
disciple. In a vision he showed him many demons in the west,
prepared for battle, and in the east a still greater quantity of holy
angels, also ready for fighting. Abba Isidore explained to St. Moses
that the power of the angels would prevail over the power of the
demons, and in the long struggle with the passions it was necessary
for him to become completely cleansed of his former sins. St. Moses
undertook a new effort. Making the rounds by night of the wilderness
cells, he carried water from the well to each brother. He did this
especially for the Elders, who lived far from the well and who were
not easily able to carry their own water. Once, kneeling over the well,
St. Moses felt a powerful blow upon his back and he fell down at the
well like one dead, laying there in that position until dawn. Thus did
the devils take revenge upon the monk for his victory over them. In
the morning the brethren carried him to his cell, and he lay there a
whole year crippled. Having recovered, the monk with firm resolve
confessed to the igumen, that he would continue to live in asceticism.
517

But the Lord Himself put limits to this struggle of many years: Abba
Isidore blessed his disciple and said to him that the passions had
already gone from him. The Elder commanded him to receive the Holy
Mysteries, and to go to his own cell in peace. From that time, St.
Moses received from the Lord power over demons. Accounts about his
exploits spread among the monks and even beyond the bounds of the
wilderness. The governor of the land wanted to see the saint. When
he heard of this, St. Moses decided to hide from any visitors, and he
departed his own cell. Along the way he met servants of the governor,
who asked him how to get to the cell of the desert-dweller Moses. The
monk answered them: Go no farther to see this false and unworthy
monk. The servants returned to the monastery where the governor
was waiting, and they told him the words of the Elder they had
chanced to meet. The brethren, hearing a description of the Elders
appearance, told them that they had encountered St. Moses himself.
After many years of monastic exploits, St. Moses was ordained a
deacon. The bishop clothed him in white vestments and said, Now
Abba Moses is entirely white! The saint replied, Only outwardly, for
God knows that I am still dark within. Through humility, the saint
believed himself unworthy of the office of deacon. Once, the bishop
decided to test him and he bade the clergy to drive him out of the
altar, reviling him as an unworthy Ethiopian. In all humility, the monk
accepted the abuse. Having put him to the test, the bishop then
ordained St. Moses to be presbyter. St. Moses labored for fifteen
years in this rank, and gathered around himself 75 disciples. When the
saint reached age 75, he warned his monks that soon brigands would
descend upon the skete and murder all that were there. The saint
blessed his monks to leave, in order to avoid violent death. His
disciples began to beseech the monk to leave with them, but he
replied: For many years already I have awaited the time when there
the words which my Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, should be fulfilled:
518

All who take up the sword, shall perish by the sword (Mt. 26: 52).
After this, seven of the brethren remained with the monk, and one of
them hid nearby during the attack of the robbers. The robbers killed
St. Moses and the six monks who remained with him. Their death
occurred in about the year 400.

TODAY IS AUGUST 29

Our Holy Mother Saint Theodora of Salonica


DAY OF CELEBRATION

A wealthy and devout woman, she lived on the island of Aegina, but,
when the Arabs over-ran the island, she moved to Salonica. There,
she gave her only daughter to a monastery, where she received the
monastic name Theopista. Her husband Theodorinus died very soon
thereafter, and then Theodora became a nun. She was a great
ascetic. She often heard angelic singing, and would say to her sisters:
'Don't you hear how wonderfully the angels are singing in heavenly
light?' She entered into rest in 879, and a healing myrrh flowed from
her body, which gave healing to many.

519

TODAY IS AUGUST 30

Saint Alexander
DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Alexander was sent to the First Ecumenical Council in


Nicaea

as

the

delegate

of

Saint

Metrophanes,

Bishop

of

Constantinople, to whose throne he succeeded in the year 325.


When Arius had deceitfully professed allegiance to the Council of
Nicaea, Saint Alexander, knowing his guile, refused to receive him
into communion; Arius' powerful partisans threatened that they
would use force to bring Arius into the communion of the Church
the following day. Saint Alexander prayed fervently all night that
God might spare the Church and as Arius was in a privy place
relieving nature, his bowels gushed forth with an effusion of blood,
and the arch-heresiarch died the death of Judas. Saint Alexander
was Bishop from 325 until 337, when he was succeeded by Saint
Paul the Confessor, who died a martyr's death at the hands of the
Arians.

520

TODAY IS AUGUST 31

Saint Gennadius, Patriarch of Constantinople


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Gennadius, (in Greek ), was the twenty-first


Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Gennadius is seen to have
been a learnt writer and followed the Antiochene school of literal
exegesis although little writings has been left about him. He was
known for his gentleness and his ascetical way of life. He would not
ordain any man who did not know the Psalter by heart. He presided at
a local council in which simony in the Church was anathematized. In
his own lifetime he worked miracles, and he was told the time of his
death in a vision. The famous monastery of Studion was built in his
time, with his blessing. Two Egyptian solitaries told John Moschus a
story which is also recorded by Theodorus Lector. The church of Saint
Eleutherius at Constantinople was served by a reader named Carisius,
who led a disorderly life. Gennadius severely reprimanded him in vain.
According to the rules of the church, the patriarch had him flogged,
which was also ineffectual. The patriarch sent one of his officers to
the church of Saint Eleutherus to beg that either the church correct
the unworthy reader or he would be taken from the world. Next day
Carisius was found dead, to the terror of the whole town. Theodorus
also relates how a painter, presuming to depict the Saviour under the
form of Jupiter, had his hand withered, but was healed by the prayers
of Gennadius. The buying and selling of holy orders was a crying
scandal of the age. Measures had been taken against simony by the
521

Council of Chalcedon. It seems not later than 459, Gennadius


celebrated a great council of eighty-one bishops, many of whom were
from the East and even from Egypt, including those who had been
dispossessed of their sees by Timothy Aelurus. The letter of this
council against simony is still preserved (J. D. Mansi, VII, 912). An
encyclical was issued, adding anathema to the former sentence. He
reposed in peace in 471.

INSIDE AN ORTHORDOX CHURCH

522

523

TODAY IS SEPTEMBER 1

Saint Meletius the New


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Meletius the New was born in Cappadocia in 1035. Many people
regarded him as an imbecile, but God hath made foolish the wisdom
of this world (I Cor. 1:20), and it has also pleased Him by the
foolishness of preaching to save them that believe (I Cor. 1:21). So
the Lord used the saint to draw many souls to Himself. St. Meletius
was given the gift of prophecy, and performed many miracles.
Motherless

women

would

seek

his

healing,

and his

prophecy

concerning the child was always true. He built a monastery on Mt.


Cytheron in Boeotia in central Greece, which was named for him.
After living as a hermit for many years, St. Meletius fell asleep in the
Lord on Mt. Cytheron in 1105. At his burial site, many healing of the
sick were given to those who petitioned the Saint until his grave
markings were destroyed by the godless Nazis.

TODAY IS SEPTEMBER 2

Saint John the Faster


the Patriarch of Constantinople
DAY OF CELEBRATION

524

Joannes (surnamed The Faster, Jejunator, sometimes also Cappadox)


was born at Constantinople of artisan parents, and worked as a
sculptor. In 587 or 588, he summoned the bishops of the East in the
name of "the Ecumenical Patriarch" to decide the cause of Gregory,
Patriarch of Antioch, who was acquitted and returned to his episcopal
see. Pope Pelagius II solemnly annulled the acts of this council. In
593, John was severely blamed by Pope Gregory I for having allowed
an Isaurian presbyter named Anastasius, who had been accused of
heresy, to be beaten with ropes in the church of Constantinople. Saint
John IV the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople (582-595), is famed in
the Orthodox Church as the compiler of a penitential nomokanon (i.e.
rule for penances), which has come down to us in several distinct
versions, but their foundation is one and the same. These are
instructions for priests on how to hear the confession of secret sins,
whether sins already committed, or merely sins of intent. Ancient
church rules address the manner and duration of public penances,
established for obvious and evident sinners. But it was necessary to
adapt these rules for the secret confession of undetected things. St.
John the Faster issued his penitential nomokanon (or Canonaria), so
that the confession of secret sins, unknown to the world, already
testifies to the good disposition of the sinner and his conscience in
being reconciled to God, and so the saint reduced the penances of the
ancient Fathers by half or more. On the other hand, he set more
exactly

the

character

of

the

penances:

severe

fasting,

daily

performance of a set number of prostrations to the ground, the


525

distribution of alms, etc. The length of penance is determined by the


priest. The main purpose of the nomocanon compiled by the holy
Patriarch consists in assigning penances, not simply according to the
seriousness of the sins, but according to the degree of repentance
and the spiritual state of the person who confesses. From the
sixteenth century in the Russian Church the nomocanon of St. John
the Faster was circulated in another redaction, compiled by the
monks and clergy of Mount Athos. In this form it was repeatedly
published at the Kievan Caves Lavra (in 1620, 1624, 1629). Saint John
IV died on September 2, 595 Constantinople and was entombed in the
Church of St. Polyeuctus.

TODAY IS SEPTEMBER 3

Martyr Saint Aristion the Bishop of Alexandria


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Aristion was the bishop of lesser Alexandria in Cilicia (Asia


Minor). He was born in the small town of Aribazo in the eparchy of
Apamea, Syria at the beginning of the second century. His parents
were pagans, and he spent his early years in an atmosphere of
idolatry. We do not know what sort of early education St. Aristion
received, nor where he studied, but it did not satisfy his search for the
truth. A ten-year-old boy who lived in the same town, the future martyr
Anthony, showed him the path which led to the truth. Anthony
526

instructed him in the true Faith, and Aristion increased in piety and
zeal for God. It is significant that Anthony, despite the constant fear
of persecution, exile and even danger to his own life, was not just a
member of the local church, but also preached the Faith to others. It
is certain that Aristion prayed for his young friend and remembered
his courage and strength, for Anthonys efforts to bring Aristion to the
saving Faith had born fruit and were not in vain. Not only did Anthony
give himself to the Church through his martyrdom at the age of
twenty, he also gave it another saint and martyr: St. Aristion. Years
later, St. Aristion was consecrated bishop for Isso in Cilicia, which is
found in lesser Alexandria. He was a good shepherd to his flock, and
cared diligently for their souls. One day the ruler of Alexandria had St.
Aristion arrested because he was a Christian. Although he was placed
on public trial, the holy bishop was calm and showed no fear. His
whole demeanor made the Roman eparch realize that it would not
easy to deal with this man who stood before him. He tried to turn
Aristion from Christ through flattery and promises of reward, but the
saint stood firm. Seeing that his words had no effect on the bishop, he
threatened him with fierce tortures. He was not influenced by these
threats, however. St. Aristion stood before the eparch and his
counselors, gazing at them with love and concern for their salvation.
Even in his weakness, this captive was stronger than his captors, and
he refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Before a multitude of
idolaters, St. Aristion spoke of the Triune God, by Whom all things
were created. He also told them about the Incarnation of the Lord
Jesus

Christ,

which

was

accomplished

through

Gods

saving

dispensation. He explained that Christ brings salvation to fallen man,


thereby giving him another chance to attain the true purpose of his
lifetheosis. How poor these soulless statues of the gods are, the
bishop said, and how helpless the eparch looks in his radiant
apparel. All who heard the saint speak were amazed and asked one
527

another where he got such courage. Aristion invited them to believe


in the truth which he was revealing to them. Those who watched
understood that this holy man was someone special, and they wanted
to hear more about his beliefs. The Roman eparch could not find any
way to resist Aristion except through violence, so he sentenced him
to death. He commanded his soldiers to prepare a large furnace and
then throw him into the flames. The saint went to his martyrdom
without resistance, remaining brave and strong until the end. The few
Christians who were present tried not to weep. They whispered
prayers for him, and were saddened because their father was leaving
them. They knew, however, that their archpastor would not cease
praying for them, especially now that he was going to Christ. They
could hear St. Aristion singing hymns in the fire until his last breath.
The eparch did not know what a terrible mistake he had made. He did
not realize that death is not the end for men, nor for the truth. Nothing
could separate St. Aristion from the Fountain of Life, and so the Lord
bestowed upon him an imperishable crown of glory. After the flames
died down, his spiritual

children approached the furnace and

collected as many of his bones as they could. With great reverence


they put the holy relics in a secret place, which remains unknown to
the present day. A more detailed biography of the saint has been
published (in Greek): THE HOLY HIEROMARTYR ARISTION by John
G. Thalassinos (Athens, 2003). This volume also contains the Service
to the saint, which was composed by Hieromonk Athanasius of
Simonopetra Monastery on Mt. Athos.

TODAY IS SEPTEMBER 4

Venerable Saint Simeon the Wonderworker


DAY OF CELEBRATION
528

Saint Simeon was raised at Davit-Gareji Monastery. He labored as a


simple monk until he reached an advanced age, and was chosen to be
abbot. Outstanding in virtue and humility, St. Simeon was endowed by
the Lord with the ability to work miracles.

During his lifetime, any

monk that was sick Saint Simeon would heal except those who were
sick unto death. He also healed the sick people who lived around
the Davit-Gareji Monastery. His fame as a healer grew so great that
there were days where he healed the sick lined up in front of the
Monastery from sun-up to sun-down. St. Simeon became deathly ill
and lay lifeless for more than an hour. Then, by Divine Providence, he
arose and distributed all of his possessions to the fathers of the
monastery to keep him in remembrance. When St. Serapion heard
about this miracle, he hastened to Abbot Simeon, his spiritual father,
and, enlightened with prophetic grace, comforted him: O honorable
Father, give me your holy hands that I may kiss them. How I desire for
these hands to bury the dust of my worthless bodybut now you are
departing this world ahead of me. You will go, Father, but without you
I will not remain long on this earth; soon I will follow after you! So
the fathers bade him farewell for the last time. St. Simeon settled his
affairs at the monastery, and in 1773 he reposed in peace, exactly
one week after he had recovered from his deathly illness.

529

TODAY IS SEPTEMBER 5

Martyr Saint Athanasius the Abbot of Brest


DAY OF CELEBRATION

The Hieromartyr Athansius of Bretsk was Belorussian and was born in


about the year 1597 into a pious Christian family named Philippovich.
He received a serious upbringing, and he knew the theological and
historical literature, as is evidenced in the diary of the saint, which
has been preserved. In his youth, St. Athanasius for a while was a
teacher in the houses of Polish merchants. In the year 1627, he
accepted tonsure under Igumen Joseph at the Vilensk monastery of
the Holy Spirit. St. Athanasius was ordained hieromonk in the year
1632, and made head of the Duboisk [Dubovsk] monastery near Pinsk.
St. Athanasius, with a special blessing of the Theotokos, reestablished Orthodoxy within the boundaries of the ancient Russian
territories that had been seized by the Polish Reche. Between the
years 1638-1648 St. Athanasius fulfilled his obedience as igumen of
the Bretsk-Simeonov monastery. The monk endured much abuse from
the Uniates and illegal persecution from the civil authorities. Three
times he endured being locked up in prison. The saint was sent to the
authorities at Kiev to appear before a religious tribunal, but he was
acquitted, and returned to his own monastery. For ten years St.
Athanasius, finding himself among persons maliciously disposed
towards him, led a constant struggle for Holy Orthodoxy, his
faithfulness to which is evidenced by his sufferings. Attempts to wear
530

down the spiritual endurance of the saint were to no avail. He again


went to trial, after which the monk was sentenced to death by
execution, for his cursing of the Unia, a local political affiliation. St.
Athanasius died as a martyr on the night of September 4-5, 1648. He
was buried at the Bretsk-Simeonov monastery. On November 8, 1815,
St. Simeon Church at the Bretsk Simeonov monastery burned down
together with the relics of St. Athanasius. The remains of the relics
were found in the ashes and placed under the altar in the monastery
trapeza church. In 1823, they were put in the sarcophagus so that
people could prey to St. Athanasius. On September 20, 1893, the
relics were taken to the newly built St. Athanasius of Brest Church in
Grodno. The next year part of the relics was given to the convent in
Lena Podlaska. When nuns were evacuated to Russia as World War I
began, the relics were taken to Siberia and then later to Provemont in
France. In the late 1990s, with the blessing of the then Primate of
ROCOR, Metr. Vitaly, the relics were brought by Abp. Seraphim
(Dulgov) of Brussels and Western Europe (ROCOR) to the Orthodox
Diocese of Lublin-Chem in Poland at the request of Abp. Abel
(Poplavsky) of Lublin-Chem. St. Athanasius is the patron-Saint of
Diocese of Lublin-Chem. On October 27, 1996, an icon of St.
Athanasius, with part of his relics, consecrated at the Monastery of
the Theotokos in Lena, was brought to Biaa Podlaska and placed in
St. Athanasius Orthodox Church.

531

TODAY IS SEPTEMBER 6

Saint Maxim Sandovich


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Our righteous father Maxim Sandovich (also Maximus) of Gorlice,


Protomartyr

of

the

Lemko

people,

was

Carpatho-Russian

hieromartyr who, in practicing his Orthodox faith as priest under the


rule of the Unia, as enforced by the Roman Catholic Austrian imperial
government, was arrested and then executed for his faith in August
1914. His feast days are celebrated on August 6 (repose) and
September 6 (glorification). Maxim Sandovich was born into the family
of a prosperous farmer, Timothy Sandovich, and his wife, Christina, in
the village of Zdyna, Galicia. His father served as the choir director in
the local parish. After finishing four years of study at the local high
school in Novy Sanch, Maxim crossed the border into Russia to
become a novice at the Pochaev Lavra in Volynia. Subsequently, he
attended the Orthodox seminary in Zhitomir. Completing his studies
he married a young Orthodox woman, Pelagia, and was ordained as a
deacon and then to the priesthood before returning to his home. It
was not very long before the Austrian militia discovered his Orthodox
pastoral and missionary service as he was denounced by a Ukrainian
teacher by the name of Leos, in 1912. Immediately the Austrian
gendarmes put Fr. Maxim in chains and sent him to prison in Lvov.
There he was held for two years without a trial or inquest while being
abused horribly and living in equally bad conditions. Then as World
War I was to begin he was released for lack of evidence. Fr. Maxim's
532

stay at his home in the village Hrab was to prove to be short as the
first shots of the war heralded a wave of new repressions of the
Orthodox Carpatho-Russians. The militia, on August 4, 1914, arrested
the whole family of the young priest and dragged them off in shackles
to the prison in Gorlice. Fr. Maxim, his father, mother, brother, and
wife were forced to travel on foot to the prison while being prodded
by the bayonets of the gendarmes. In prison they were placed in
separate cells and denied the opportunity to see each other. Then, on
Sunday, August 6, while at prayer at the dawn of the new day, Fr.
Maxim could hear the noise of a crowd beyond the walls of their
prison. The noise was accompanied finally by a loud thud as a
mustachioed German captain, named Dietrich, from Linz entered the
prison grounds, accompanied by two soldiers and four gendarmes.
The captain was known to be a cruel and sadistic person. This group
was followed by the prison wardens, some civil servants, officers, and
a group of curious women led by Pan Mitshka, the leader of the
Gorlice District. As silence fell, the order was given to the warden to
bring Fr. Maxim from his cell. With that order two soldiers led the
twenty-eight-year-old Orthodox priest from the prison. Fr. Maxim
suddenly realized where they were taking him and humbly and with
dignity asked, "Be so good as not to hold me. I will go peacefully
wherever you wish." Even the taunting of the crowd did not affect his
courageous bearing as he walked calmly and with a measured gait to
the fateful wall, as befitting a follower of Christ. Captain Dietrich
ripped Fr. Maxim's cross from his chest, tossing it on the ground
where he trampled it with his feet. As the captain bound Fr. Maxim's
hands behind his back and blind folded him, Fr. Maxim exclaimed that
it was not necessary as he had no intention of running away. But, the
"brave" captain laughed and then marked with white chalk a line on
Fr. Maxim's black cassock as a target for the riflemen. In the silence
of the moment as the executioners were arranged, Pan Mitshka read
533

the death sentence. With a short command from the captain, the
saber was raised and lowered. With that action, shots echoed through
the prison. Fr. Maxim's voice could then be heard, first strongly but
diminishing as he spoke, "Long live the Russian people." Then,
leaning against the wall, "Long live the Holy Orthodox Faith." And,
finally and barely audible, "Long live Slavdom." As his powerful frame
slid down the wall, a gendarme ended Fr. Maxim's suffering by firing
three shots from his pistol into Fr. Maxim's head. Through all this Fr.
Maxim's father and mother watched his heroic death in silence and as
the final shots echoed through the prison his wife fell senselessly to
the ground. Thus died Fr. Maxim Sandovich, a martyr for Orthodox
Christianity.

TODAY IS SEPTEMBER 7

Saint Kassiane
DAY OF CELEBRATION

Musical composition in all forms classical, religious, or otherwise


has been a creative expression that seems to have been restricted to
men, not because women lack the gift so much as they seem to have
avoided this art from. From Mozart to the present day, it is difficult to
recall a single classical composer on the distaff side but hidden
among the great hymnographers, of all time is the exceptional female
creator of church music whose creations have been heard for
534

centuries in Orthodox churches where the members are unaware that


a woman wrote the inspirational melody. The exceptional female
composer of hymns of the Orthodox Church was a woman named
Kassiane. She lived in Constantinople and was a regular attendant at
the Royal Court of Emperor Theophilos whose mother, Euphrosene,
saw in the brilliant and beautiful Kassiane a likely candidate to
become her sons bride. The field of eligible young women was
narrowed down to Kassiane and another lovely girl named Theodora
who hailed from Paphlogenia, apparently from a ranking family of the
Empire. The final choice was to be made by the young Emperor who
elected to have both the girls brought before him so that a final
comparison and decision could be made. Since both were extremely
attractive, the choice was not an easy one; but the one thing that
Theophilos wanted to make certain of was that his bride not exceed
him intellect. In a custom that dated back to the Persians, years
before the formation of the Byzantine Empire, a golden apple was to
be given to the one who was to be made Empress. Looking at
Kassiane, the Emperor stated, From woman came the worst in the
world (meaning Eve and her original sin). Kassiane calmly replied,
From woman also came the best (referring to the Virgin Mary who
bore the Son of God). The issue was settled then and there, and
Theodora got the golden apple. The last thing that Kassiane wanted
was to be Empress. She did not consider it a rejection, but rather that
she had been freed to pursue a higher calling as a bride of the King of
Kings in a nunnery. For years she had felt the call to devote herself to
the Savior, and she left the palace in a happier state than she would
have if the Emperor had handed her the apple. After completing her
training Kassiane was given leave to devote whatever time she
needed to compose an outpouring of music and lyrics born of deep
religious conviction and an abiding love for Jesus Christ. Taken not
too seriously at first because of male domination in this field,
535

Kassiane established herself as a hymnographer of the highest


caliber. Her hymns were so beautiful that they were brought to the
attention of the Church Fathers of the day, all of whom acknowledged
her gift and encouraged her to compose hymns lofty enough to suit
the occasion, the most famous of which is her familiar hymn sung
during Holy Week and which bears her name as the Hymn of
Kassiane. St. Kassianes hymn reads, in part as follows: the woman
who had fallen into many sins recognizes Thy Godhead, O Lord. She
takes upon herself the duty of myrrh-bearer and makes ready the
myrrh of mourning, against Thy entombment. Woe to me, saith she, for
my night is an ecstasy of excess, gloomy and moonless, and full of
sinful desire. Receive the sources of my tears, O Thou who dost
gather into clouds the waters of the seas There follow several
stanzas in praise of the Lord whose mercy is unbounded. This hymn
alone assures her place in the Church.

TODAY IS SEPTEMBER 8

Saint Athanasius of Thessalonika


DAY OF CELEBRATION

New Martyr Athanasius of Thessalonika was born to a distinguished


and pious Christian family in Thessalonika. After acquiring an
unusually good education he spent a few years in Constantinople,
then returned to his native city. He spoke both Turkish and Arabic
well, and often conversed with Muslims. In 1774, while speaking with
an emir, Athanasius pronounced the Muslim confession of faith to
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illustrate a point. The emir, seeing an opportunity, immediately


reported Athanasius to the Islamic judge, claiming that he had
converted to Islam. The judge found no merit in the case and would
have dismissed Athanasius; but the emir and other officials were
insistent, and the judge pressured Athanasius to convert. When
Athanasius answered that he knew no truth but that of Christ, he was
thrown in prison. When he appeared before the judge several days
later, he was still firm in his confession, and was sentenced to death.
He was hanged outside the city in 1774, at the age of twenty-five.

TODAY IS SEPTEMBER 9

Our Holy Father Saint Pimen the Great


DAY OF CELEBRATION

Saint Pimen the Great was born about the year 340 in Egypt. He went
to one of the Egyptian monasteries with his two brothers, Anoub and
Paisius, and all three received monastic tonsure. The brothers were
such strict ascetics that when their mother came to the monastery to
see her children, they did not come out to her from their cells. The
mother stood there for a long time and wept. Then St. Pimen said to
her through the closed door of the cell, "Do you wish to see us now, or
in the future life?" St. Pimen promised that if she would endure the
sorrow of not seeing her children in this life, then surely she would
see them in the next. The mother was humbled and returned home.
Fame of St. Pimen's deeds and virtues spread throughout the land.
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Once, the governor of the district wanted to see him. St. Pimen,
shunning fame, thought to himself, "If dignitaries start coming to me
and show me respect, then many other people will also start coming
to me and disturb my quiet, and I shall be deprived of the grace of
humility, which I have acquired only with the help of God." So he
refused to see the governor, asking him not to come. For many of the
monks, St. Pimen was a spiritual guide and instructor. They wrote
down his answers to serve for the edification of others besides
themselves. A certain monk asked, "If I see my brother sinning,
should I conceal his fault?" The Elder answered, "If we reproach the
sins of brothers, then God will reproach our sins. If you see a brother
sinning, do not believe your eyes. Know that your own sin is like a
beam of wood, but the sin of your brother is like a splinter (Mt. 7:3-5),
and then you will not enter into distress or temptation." Another monk
said to the saint, "I have sinned grievously and I want to spend three
years at repentance. Is that enough time?" The Elder replied, "That is
a long time." The monk continued to ask how long the saint wished
him to repent. Perhaps only a year? St. Pimen said, "That is a long
time." The other brethren asked, "Should he repent for forty days?"
The Elder answered, "I think that if a man repents from the depths of
his heart and has a firm intention not to return to the sin, then God
will accept three days of repentance." When asked how to get rid of
persistent evil thoughts, the saint replied, "This is like a man who has
fire on his left side, and a vessel full of water on his right side. If he
starts burning from the fire, he takes water from the vessel and
extinguishes the fire. The fire represents the evil thoughts placed in
the heart of man by the Enemy of our salvation, which can enkindle
sinful desires within man like a spark in a hut. The water is the force
of prayer which impels a man toward God." St. Pimen was strict in his
fasting and sometimes would not partake of food for a week or more.
He advised others to eat every day, but without eating their fill. Abba
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Pimen heard of a certain monk who went for a week without eating,
but had lost his temper. The saint lamented that the monk was able to
fast for an entire week, but was unable to abstain from anger for even
a single day. To the question of whether it is better to speak or be
silent, the Elder said, "Whoever speaks on account of God, does well,
and whoever is silent on account of God, that one also does well." He
also said, "If man seems to be silent, but his heart condemns others,
then he is always speaking. There may be a man who talks all day
long, but he is actually silent, because he says nothing unprofitable."
The saint said, "It is useful to observe three things: to fear God, to
pray often, and to do good for one's neighbor." "Wickedness never
eradicates wickedness. If someone does evil to you, do good to them,
and your goodness will conquer their wickedness." Once, after St.
Pimen and his disciples arrived at the monastery of Scetis, he learned
that the Elder living there was annoyed at his arrival and was also
jealous of him, because monks were leaving the Elder to see Abba
Pimen. In order to console the hermit, the saint