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Saint Angelina

September 26, 2019 | Saints & Martyrs

Saint Angelina was the daughter of Prince George Skenderbeg of Albania. Her mother’s name is not known, but she raised her daughter in Christian piety and taught her to love God.

Saint Stephen Brancovich (October 9 and December 10), the ruler of Serbia, had come to Albania to escape those who wished to kill him. Some time before he arrived in Albania, Saint Stephen was unjustly blinded by the Turkish Sultan for some perceived offense. Since he was innocent, he bore his affliction with courage.

Saint Stephen was not only Prince George’s guest, but he was also treated as a member of his family. Not surprisingly, Stephen and Angelina eventually fell in love. With her parents’ blessing, they were married in church. After a few years, they were blessed with two sons: George and John.

When the boys were grown, Saint Stephen and his family were forced to flee to Italy for their safety. At that time the Turks invaded Albania and began to slaughter men, women, and even children.

Saint Stephen died in 1468, leaving Angelina a widow. In her distress, she turned to the ruler of Hungary for help. He gave them the town of Kupinovo in Sirmie.

Saint Angelina left Italy with her sons in 1486, stopping in Serbia to bury Saint Stephen’s incorrupt body in his native land.

The children of these pious parents also became saints. George gave up his claim to the throne in favor of his brother John, then entered a monastery and received the name Maximus.

John was married but had no sons. He died in 1503 at a young age, and many miracles took place before his holy relics.

Saint Angelina survived her husband and both of her sons. Mindful of her soul’s salvation, she entered a women’s monastery. She departed to the Lord in peace, and her body was buried in the same tomb as her sons in the monastery of Krushedol in Frushka Gora.
Saint Angelina is also commemorated on December 10 with her husband Saint Stephen and her son Saint John.


The Monk Alexander of Svirsk

September 13, 2019 | Saints & Martyrs

Comorated on August 30, April 17

The Monk Alexander of Svirsk was born on 15 July 1448, on the day of memory of the Prophet Amos, and at Baptism was named in honour of him. Dwelling all his life far off from historical events, the Monk Alexander – a beacon light of monasticism in the deep forests of the Russian North – worked a different and spiritual history and was bestown extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit.

His parents, Stefan and Vassa (Vasilisa) were peasants of the nigh-close to Lake Ladoga village of Mandera, at the bank of the River Oyata, a tributary of the River Svira. They had two children, who were already grown and lived away from their parents. But Stefan and Vassa wanted still to have another son. They prayed fervently and heard a voice from above: “Rejoice, good wedded, ye shall bear a son, in whose birth God wilt give comfort to His Church”.

Amos grew up a special lad. He was always obedient and gentle, he shunned games, jokes and foul-talk, he wore poor clothes and so weakened himself with fasting, that it caused his mother anxiety. Upon coming of age he once met Valaamsk monks who had come to the Oyata for the purchase of necessities and concerning other economic needs. Valaam at this time had already the reputation as a monastery of deep piety and strict ascetic life. Having spoken with them, the youth became interested by their account about the skete (with two or three together) and about the monastic hermit life. Knowing that his parents wanted to marry him off, the youth at age 19 went secretly to Valaam. Under the guise of being a companion, an Angel of God appeared to him, showing the way to the island.

Amos lived for seven years at the monastery as a novice, leading an austere life. He spent his days at work, and his nights – in vigilance and prayer. Sometimes bare of chest, all covered by mosquitoes and gnats, he prayed in the forest to the morning song of the birds.

In the year 1474 Amos took monastic vows with the name Alexander. After some several years his parents eventually learned from Karelians arriving in Mandera, whither their son had disappeared. Through the example of their son, even the parents soon went to the monastery and took vows with the names Sergei and Varvara (Barbara). After their death the Monk Alexander, with the blessing of the hegumen of the monastery, settled on a solitary monastery island, where in the crevice of a cliff he built a cell and continued his spiritual exploits.

The fame of his exploits spread far. Then in 1485 the Monk Alexander departed from Valaam and, upon a command from above, chose a place in the forest on the shore of a beautiful lake, which afterwards was named Holy (Svyata). Here the monk built himself an hut and in solitude he dwelt for seven years, eating only that which he gathered in the forest (Afterwards at this place, – Lake Svyata, 36 versts from the future city of Olonets and 6 versts from the River Svira, the Monk Alexander founded the monastery of the Life-Originating Trinity, and 130 sazhen (i.e. 910 feet) off from it, at Lake Roschina, he built himself a “withdrawing place”, – on the spot where the Alexandro-Svirsk monastery later emerged). During this time the saint experienced fierce sufferings from hunger, frost, sickness and demonic temptations. But the Lord continually sustained the spiritual and bodily strength of the righteous one. Once when suffering with terrible infirmities, the monk not only was not able to get up from the ground, but also even was unable to lift his head, he just lay there and sang psalms. And hereupon there appeared to him a glorious man. Placing his hand on the pained spot, he signed the saint with the sign of the cross and healed him.

In 1493 while hunting for deer, the adjoining land-owner Andrei Zavalishin happened to come upon the hut of the monk. Andrei spoke to him about a light, seen earlier at this place, and he entreated the monk to tell him about his life. From that point Andrei started often to visit with the Monk Alexander, and finally through the monk’s guidance, he himself departed for Valaam, where he took vows with the name Adrian, founding later on the Ondrusovsk monastery, and glorifying himself with a saintly life (Comm. 26 August and 17 May, + 1549).

Andrei Zavalishin was not able to keep quiet about the ascetic, in spite of the promise given to him. News about the righteous one began to spread widely, and monks started to gather about him. The monk thereupon withdrew himself from all the brethren and built himself a “withdrawing spot” a distance of 130 sazhen from the common dwelling. The he encountered a multitude of temptations. The demons took on beastly shapes, they hissed like snakes, urging the monk to flee. But the prayer of the saint, as it were a fiery flame, scorched and dispersed the devils.

In 1508, the 23th year of the monk’s dwelling at this secluded spot, there appeared to him the Life-Originating Trinity. The monk was praying at night at his “withdrawing spot”. Suddenly an intense light shone, and the monk beheld approaching him Three Men, robed in radiant white garb. Hallowed by Heavenly Glory, They did shine in a pure brightness greater than the sun. Each of Them held in Their hand a staff. The monk fell down in terror, and having come to his senses, prostrated himself on the ground. Taking him up by the hand, the Men said: “Trust thou, blessed one, and fear not”. The monk received orders to construct a church and to build up a monastery. He again fell to his knees, crying out about his own unworthiness, but the Lord raised him up and ordered him to fulfill the commands. The monk asked, in whose name the church ought to be. The Lord thereupon said: “Beloved, as thou beholdest Those speaking with thee in Three Persons, so also construct thou the church in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity One-in-Essence. I leave thee peace and My peace I give thee”. And immediately the Monk Alexander beheld the Lord with out-stretched wings, going as though along the ground, and He became invisible. In the history of the Russian Orthodox Church this Divine Descent is acknowledged as unique. After this vision the monk began to think, where to build the church. Once during a time of prayer to God, he heard a voice from above. Having gazed up to the heights, he saw an Angel of God in mantle and klobuk, such as the Monk Pakhomios had seen. The Angel, standing in the air with out‑stretched wings and up-raised hands, proclaimed: “One is Holy, One is the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Glory of God the Father, Amen”. And then he turned to the monk: Alexander, upon this spot construct the church in the Name of the Lord Who hath appeared to thee in Three Persons, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, the Trinity Undivided”. And having thrice made the cross over the place, the Angel became invisible.

In that same year was built a wooden church of the Life-Originating Trinity (in 1526 was built here a stone church). And at the same time as the building of the church, the brethren began to urge the monk to accept the priesthood. For a long time he refused, considering himself unworthy. Then the brethren began to implore Saint Serapion, Archbishop of Novgorod (+ 1516, Comm. 16 March), that he convince the monk to accept the dignity. And so in that very year the monk journeyed to Novgorod and received ordination from the holy archbishop. Soon afterwards the brethren also besought the monk to accept being hegumen.

Having become hegumen, the monk became even more humble than before. His clothes were all in tatters, and he slept on the bare ground. He himself prepared food, kneaded dough and baked bread. One time there was not sufficient firewood and the steward asked the hegumen to dispatch after firewood any of the monks that were idle. “I am idle”, – said the monk, and he began to chop firewood. Another time likewise he began to carry water. And by night when all were asleep, the monk was often grinding away with hand-stones for making more bread. By night the monk made the round of the cells and if he heard anywhere vain conversations, he lightly tapped on the door and departed, but in the morning he admonished the brother, imposing a penance on the culprit.

Towards the end of his life the Monk Alexander decided to build a stone church of the Pokrov (Protection) of the MostHoly Mother of God. One time in the evening, after doing an akathist to the MostHoly Mother of God, the monk settled down to rest in the cell and suddenly said to the cell-attendant Afanasii: “Child, be sober and alert, because in this hour will be a wondrous and astounding visit”. There followed a voice, like thunder: “Behold cometh the Lord and His Birth-Giver”. The monk hastened to the entrance to the cell, and a great light illumined it, spreading over all the monastery brighter than the rays of the sun. Gazing, the monk beheld over the foundation of the Pokrov church sitting at the altar place, as it were an empress upon a throne, the All-Pure Mother of God. She held the Infant-Christ in Her arms, and a multitude of the angelic rank, shining with an indescribable brightness, stood before Her. The monk fell down, unable to bear the great light. The Mother of God said: “Rise up, thou chosen one of My Son and God. For I have come here to visit thee, My dear one, and to look upon the foundation of My church. And for this, I have made entreaty for thy disciples and monastery, from hence all wilt be abundant; not only during thine life, but also upon thy departure persistently from thy monastery will be a granting of all necessities in abundance. Behold and watch carefully, how many monks are gathered into thy flock, which by thee mustneeds be guided on the way of salvation in the Name of the Holy Trinity”. The monk rose up and beheld a multitude of monks. Again said the Mother of God: “My dear one, if someone doth bear one brick for the building of My church, in the Name of Jesus Christ, My Son and God, his treasure perisheth not”. And She became invisible.
      Before his death the monk displayed wondrous humility. He summoned the brethren and bid them: “Bind my sinful body by the legs and drag it to a swampy thicket and, having enclosed it in skins, submerse it by the legs”. The brethren answered: “No, father, it is not possible to do this”. Then the monk bid that his body not be kept at the monastery, but at a place of withdrawal, the church of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Having lived 85 years, the monk expired to the Lord on 30 August 1533.

The Monk Alexander of Svirsk was glorified by wondrous miracles during his life and upon his death. In 1545 his disciple and successor, Hegumen Irodion, compiled his life. In 1547 was begun the local celebration of the monk and a service compiled to him. In the year 1641, on 17 April, during the rebuilding of the Transfiguration church, the incorrupt relics of the Monk Alexander of Svirsk were uncovered and the universal Church celebration to him was established on two dates: the day of repose – 30 August, and the day of glorification (Uncovering of Relics) – 17 April.

The Monk Alexander of Svirsk instructed and raised up a whole multitude of disciples, as the Mother of God had bequeathed him. These are the Sainted-Monks: Ignatii of Ostrovsk (XVI), Leonid of Ostrovsk (XVI), Kornilii of Ostrovsk (XVI), Dionysii of Ostrovsk (XVI), Athanasii (Afanasii) of Ostrovsk (XVI), Theodore (Feodor) of Ostrovsk (XVI), Ferapont of Ostrovsk (XVI). Besides these saints, there are known disciples and those conversing with the Monk Alexander of Svirsk, which have separate days of memory: the Monk Athansii (Afanasii) of Syandemsk (XVI, Comm. 18 January), the Monk Gennadii of Vasheozersk (+ 8 January 1516, Comm. 9 February), the Monk Makarii of Orodezhsk (+ 1532, Comm. 9 August), the Monk Adrian of Ondrosovsk (+ 26 August 1549, Comm. 17 May), the Monk Nikifor of Vasheozersk (+ 1557, Comm. 9 February), the Monk Gennadii of Kostroma and Liubimograd (+ 1565, Comm. 23 January). All these saints (except the Monk Gennadii of Kostroma) are imaged on the Icon of the Monastic Fathers, illumined in the Karelia land (icon from the church at the Spiritual Seminary in the city of Kuopio, Finland). The festal celebration of the Sobor-Assemblage of the Saints Illumined in the Karelian Land is done by the Finnish Orthodox Church on the Saturday falling between 31 October and 6 November.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.


The Monk Dometios

August 20, 2019 | Saints & Martyrs

Commemorated on August 7

The Monk Dometios lived during the IV Century, and he was by birth a Persian. In his youthful years he was converted to the faith by a Christian named Uaros. Forsaking Persia, he withdrew to the frontier-city of Niziba (in Mesopotamia), where he accepted Baptism in one of the monasteries and was tonsured into monasticism. But then fleeing the ill-will of the monastery inhabitants, the Monk Dometios moved on to the monastery of Saints Sergios and Bacchus in the city of Theodosiopolis. The monastery was under the guidance of an archimandrite named Nurbelos – a strict ascetic, about whom it was reported, that over the course of 60 years he did not taste of cooked food, nor did he lay down for sleep, but rather took his rest standing up, supporting himself upon his staff. In this monastery the Monk Dometios was ordained to the dignity of deacon, but when the archimandrite decided to have him made a presbyter, the saint in reckoning himself unworthy hid himself away on a desolate mountain in Syria, in the region of Cyr. Reports about him constantly spread about among the surrounding inhabitants. They began to come to him for healing and for help. Many a pagan was brought to the faith in Christ by Dometios. And one time, in the locality where Saint Dometios asceticised with his disciples, the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) arrived, journeying along on his campaign against the Persians. By order of the emperor, soldiers searched out Saint Dometios praying with his disciples in a cave, and stoned them to death (+ 363).

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.


The Monks Simeon, Fool-for-Christ, and his Fellow-Ascetic John

August 3, 2019 | Saints & Martyrs

Commemorated on July 21

The Monks Simeon, Fool-for-Christ, and his Fellow-Ascetic John were Syrians, and they lived in the VI Century at the city of Edessa. From childhood a close friendship held them together. The older of them, Simeon, was unmarried and lived with his aged mother. John, however, although he entered into marriage, lived with his father (his mother was dead) and with his young spouse. Both friends belonged to wealthy families. When Simeon became 30 years old, and John 24, they made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem on the feast of the Exaltation of the Venerable and Life-Creating Cross of the Lord. On the return journey home the friends conversed about the ways of salvation for the soul. Journeying with horses, they sent the servants with the horses on ahead, and they themselves went on foot. Going through Jordan, they saw monasteries, situated at the edge of the wilderness. Both of them were filled with an irrepressible desire to leave the world and spend their remaining life in monastic deeds. They turned off from the road, along which their servants went into Syria, and they prayed zealously to God, to guide them towards the monasteries on the opposite side. They besought the Lord to indicate which monastery for them to choose and they resolved to enter whichever monastery the gates of which would be open. At this time in a dream the Lord informed the hegumen Nikon of a monastery to open the monastery gates, and that the sheep of Christ would enter in. In great joy the comrades came through the open gates of the monastery, where they were warmly welcomed by the hegumen, and they remained at the monastery. In a short while they took monastic vows. Having dwelt for a certain while at the monastery, Simeon became keen with the desire to intensify his effort, to go into the deep wilderness and there to pursue asceticism in complete solitude. John did not wish to be left behind by his companion and he decided to share with him the work of wilderness-dweller. The Lord revealed to the hegumen Nikon the intentions of the companions, and on that night when the Monks Simeon and John intended to depart the monastery, he himself opened for them the gates, he prayed with them, gave them his blessing and sent them into the wilderness. Having begun wilderness life, the spiritual brothers at first underwent the strong assault of the devil, suggesting to them grief over abandoning their families, frightening the ascetics, directing upon them weakness, despondency and idleness. The brothers Simeon and John, firmly mindful of the monastic vows given by them, and trusting on the prayers of their starets the hegumen Nikon, continued straight upon their chosen path, and they passed the time in unceasing prayer and strict fasting, encouraging each the other in their struggle against temptation. After a certain while, with the help of God, the temptations stopped. The monks received from God the report, that the mother of Simeon and the spouse of John had died and that the Lord had vouchsafed them the blessing of paradise. After this Simeon and John dwelt in the wilderness for 29 years, and they attained complete dispassion (apatheia) and an high degree of spirituality. The Monk Simeon, through the inspiration of God, pondered about that it now was proper that he should serve people, and for this it was necessary to leave the wilderness solitude and go into the world. But Saint John, reckoning that he had not attained to such a degree of dispassion as his companion, decided not to quit the wilderness. The brethren parted with tears. Simeon journeyed to Jerusalem, and there he worshipped at the Tomb of the Lord and all the holy places. By his great humility the holy ascetic zealously besought the Lord to permit him to serve his neighbour in suchlike manner, that they should not acknowledge him. Saint Simeon chose for himself the difficult task of fool-for-Christ. Having come to the city of Emessus, he stayed in it and passed himself off as a simpleton, doing strange acts, for which he was subjected to insults, abuse and beatings, and amidst which he accomplished many good deeds. He cast out devils, healed the sick, delivered from immanent death, brought the unbelieving to faith, and sinners – to repentance. All these good deeds he did under the guise of foolishness, and in no wise did he receive praise or thanks from people. But the Monk John highly esteemed his spiritual brother: when someone of the inhabitants of the city of Emessus visited him in the wilderness, asking advice and prayer, he would invariably direct them to “the fool Simeon”, who could better offer them spiritual counsel. For three days before his death Saint Simeon ceased to appear on the streets, and he enclosed himself in his hut, in which, except for bundles of fire-wood, there was nothing. Having remained at unceasing prayer for three days, Saint Simeon reposed to the Lord. Some of the city poor, companions with him, and not coming across the fool, went to his hut and there found him dead. Taking up the dead body, they carried him without church singing to a place, where the homeless and strangers were buried. While they carried the body of Saint Simeon, several of the inhabitants heard a wondrous church singing, but could not comprehend from whence it came. After Saint Simeon, the Monk John peacefully expired to the Lord in the wilderness. Shortly before death, Saint Simeon was given to behold the crown upon the head of his spiritual brother with the inscription: “For endurance in the wilderness”.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.


The Holy Great Martyress Marina

July 31, 2019 | Saints & Martyrs

Commemorated on July 17

holy-great-martyress-marinaThe Holy GreatMartyress Marina was born in Asia Minor, in the city of Antioch, into the family of a pagan priest. In infancy she lost her mother, and her father gave her over 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 (284-305), Saint Marina at fifteen years of age 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 false offers. The vexed governor gave the holy martyress over to torture. Having beaten her fiercely, they fastened the saint with nails to a board and tore at her body with tridents. The governor himself, unable to bear the horror of these tortures, hid his face in his hands. But the holy martyress remained unyielding. Thrown for the night into prison, she was granted Heavenly aid and healed of her wounds. Tied to a tree, they scorched the martyress with fire. Barely alive, the martyress prayed: “Lord, Thou hast granted me to go through fire for Thine 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 barrel. The martyress 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 Saint Marina of themselves came apart. The martyress stood up in the fount of Baptism glorifying the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Saint 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. There then perished 15,000 Christians, and the holy Martyress Marina was beheaded. The sufferings of the GreatMartyress Marina were described by an eye-witness of the event, named Theotimos.

Up until the taking of Constantinople by Western crusaders in the year 1204, the relics of the GreatMartyress Marina were situated in the Panteponteia monastery. According to other sources, they were located in Antioch until the year 908 and from there transferred to Italy. Her venerable hand was transferred to Athos, to the Batopedeia monastery.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.


The Monk Varlaam of Khutynsk

July 5, 2019 | Saints & Martyrs

Commemorated on the 1st Friday of Apostles’ Fast and November 6

monk-varlaam-khutynsk

The Monk Varlaam of Khutynsk lived in the XII Century, the son of an illustrious Novgorodian, and he lived his childhood years at Novgorod. Withdrawing at an early age to the Lisich monastery near the city, the Monk Varlaam accepted tonsure. Later on he settled at a solitary hill below Volkhov, in a locale called Khutyn’, 10 versts from Novgorod. In solitude the Monk Varlaam led a strict life, making unceasing prayer and keeping very strict fast. He was a zealous ascetic in his tasks – he himself felled timber in the forest, chopped firewood and tilled the soil, fulfilling the words of Holy Scripture: “If any shalt not work, neither shalt he eat” (2 Thess. 3: 10). Certain of the inhabitants of Novgorod gathered to him, wanting to share in monastic works and deeds. Instructing those that came, the Monk Varlaam said: “My children, be observant against all unrighteousness, and neither envy nor slander. Refrain from anger, and give not money over for usury. Beware to judge unjustly. Do not swear falsely giving an oath, but rather fulfill it. Be not indulgent to the bodily appetites. Always be meek and bear all things with love. This virtue – is the beginning and root of all good”.

Soon there was erected a church in honour of the Transfiguration of the Lord, and a monastery founded. The Lord sent down upon the monk, for his service to others, the gifts of wonderworking and perspicacity. When his days approached an end, by Divine Will there came from Constantinople the priestmonk Antonii – of the same age and a friend of the Monk Varlaam. The blessed saint, in turning to him, said: “My beloved brother! God’s blessing doth rest upon this monastery. And now into thine hand I transfer this monastery. Watch over and take concern for it. I do expire to the King of Heaven. But be not confused over this: while yet in the body I do leave you, still in spirit I shalt be with you always”. Having bestown guidance unto the brethren, with the command to preserve the Orthodox faith and dwell constantly in humility, the Monk Varlaam reposed to the Lord on 6 November 1192.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.


The Holy Virgin Pelagia

May 17, 2019 | Saints & Martyrs

holy-virgin-pelagiaThe Holy Virgin Pelagia lived during the III Century in the city of Tarsis in the Cilician district of Asia Minor. She was the daughter of illustrious pagans and when she heard preaching from her Christian acquaintances about Jesus Christ the Son of God, she believed in Him and desired to preserve her chastity, dedicating her whole life to the Lord. The heir of emperor Diocletian (a youth adopted by him), having seen the maiden Pelagia, was captivated by her beauty and wanted to take her to be his wife. But the holy virgin told the youth, that she was betrothed to the Immortal Bridegroom, – the Son of God, and therefore she had renounced earthly marriage. This answer of Pelagia caused great anger in the imperial youth, but he decided to leave her in peace for awhile, hoping, that she would change her frame of mind. This same while Pelagia convinced her mother to send her off to her nurse who had raised her in childhood – secretly hoping to locate the bishop of Tarsis Klinon, who had fled to a mountain during a time of persecution against Christians, and to accept Holy Baptism from him. In a dream vision there appeared the form of the bishop – Klinon, profoundly impressing itself upon her memory. Saint Pelagia set off to her nurse in a chariot, in rich clothes and accompanied by a whole retinue of servants, as her mother had desired her to. Along the way Saint Pelagia, through some particular ordering of events by God, met bishop Klinon. Pelagia immediately recognised the bishop, whose image had appeared to her in the dream. She fell at his feet, requesting baptism. At the prayer of the bishop there flowed from the ground a spring of water. Bishop Klinon made the sign of the cross over Saint Pelagia, and during the time of the mystery (sacrament) Angels appeared and covered the chosen one of God with a bright mantle. Having communed the pious virgin with the Holy Mysteries, bishop Klinon raised himself up in prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord together with her, and then sent her off to continue her journey. Having returned to the servants awaiting her, Saint Pelagia preached to them about Christ, and many of them were converted and believed. She tried to convert her own mother to faith in Christ, but the obdurate woman sent a message to the imperial youth, – that Pelagia was a Christian and did not wish to be his spouse. The youth comprehended that Pelagia was lost for him, and not wishing to give her over to torture, he fell upon his sword. Pelagia’s mother thereupon became fearful of the wrath of the emperor, tied her daughter and led her to the court of Diocletian as being a Christian and also the probable cause of the death of the heir to the throne. The emperor was captivated by the unusual beauty of the maiden and tried to sway her from her faith in Christ, promising her every earthly blessing and to make her his own wife. But the holy maiden refused the offer of the emperor with contempt and said: “Thou art insane, emperor, telling me such a speech. Know, that I wilt not do thine bidding, and I loathe thy vile marriage, since I have a Bridegroom – Christ, the King of Heaven. I desire not thy imperial, worldly, short-durationed crowns, since my Lord in the Heavenly Kingdom has prepared for me three imperishable crowns. The first for faith – since I have believed with all my heart in the True God; the second for purity – because I have entrusted to Him my virginity; the third for martyrdom – since I want to accept for Him every suffering and to offer up my soul because of my love for Him”. Diocletian thereupon sentenced Pelagia to be burnt in a glowing red-hot copper oven. Not permitting the executioners to touch her body, the holy martyress herself – signing herself with the sign of the cross, went with a prayer into the red-hot oven – in which her flesh melted like myrh, filling all the city with fragrance; the bones of Saint Pelagia remained unharmed and were removed by the pagans to outside the city. Four lions then came from out of the wilderness and sat around the bones – letting get at them neither bird nor wild beast. The lions protected the remains of the saint until such time as bishop Klinon came to that place. He gathered them up and buried them with honour. During the reign of emperor Constantine (306-337), when the persecutions against Christians had stopped, there was built a church at the place of burial of Saint Pelagia.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.


Saints Timothy and Maura

May 17, 2019 | Saints & Martyrs

Commemorated on May 3

Saints Timothy and Maura suffered for the faith during the time of persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Saint Timothy came from the village of Perapa (Egyptian Thebaid), and was the son of a priest by the name of Pikolpossos. He was made a reader among the church clergy and likewise a keeper and copyist of Divine-service books. Saint Timothy came under denunciation that he was a keeper of Christian books, which by order of the emperor were to be confiscated and burned. They brought Saint Timothy before the governor Arian, who demanded him to hand over the clergy books. For his refusal to obey the command, they subjected the saint to horrible tortures. They shoved into his ears two red-hot iron rods, from which the sufferer lost his eyesight and became blind. Saint Timothy bravely endured the pain and he gave thanks to God, for granting him to suffer for Him. The torturers hung up the saint head downwards, putting in his mouth a piece of wood, and they tied an heavy stone to his neck. The suffering of Saint Timothy was so extreme, that the very ones executing the torment began to implore the governor to ease up on the torture. And about this time they informed Arian, that Timothy had a young wife by the name of Maura, whom he had married a mere 20 days before. Arian gave orders to bring Maura, hoping, that with her present they could break the will of the martyr. At the request of Maura, they removed the piece of wood from the mouth of the martyr, so that he could speak. Saint Timothy urged his wife not to be afraid of the tortures and to go the path with him. Saint Maura answered: “I am prepared to die with thee”, – and boldly she confessed herself a Christian. Arian gave orders to tear out the hair from her head and to cut off the fingers from her hands. Saint Maura with joy underwent the torment and even thanked the governor for the torture, suffered in the redemption of sins. Then Arian gave orders to throw Saint Maura into a boiling cauldron, but she did not sense any pain and she remained unharmed. Suspecting that the servants out of sympathy for the martyress had filled the cauldron with cold water, Arian went up and ordered the saint to splash him on the hand with water from the cauldron. When the martyr did this, Arian screamed with pain and drew back his scaulded hand. Then, momentarily admitting the power of the miracle, Arian confessed God in Whom Maura believed as the True God, and he gave orders to release the saint. But the devil still held great power over the governor, and soon he again began to urge Saint Maura to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Having gotten nowhere, Arian was overcome all the more by a satanic rage and he began to come up with new tortures. Then the people began to murmur and demand a stop to the abuse of this innocent woman. But Saint Maura, turning to the people, said: “Let no one defend me, I have one Defender – God, on Whom I trust”.

Finally, after long torments Arian gave orders to crucify the martyrs. Over the course of ten days they hung on crosses face to face with each other.

On the tenth day of martyrdom the saints offered up their souls to the Lord. This occurred in the year 286. Afterwards at Constantinople there began solemn celebration of the memory of the holy Martyrs Timothy and Maura, and a church was built in their honour.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

Holy Martyred Nun Pelagia, Troparion, in Tone IV —
Thy ewe-lamb Pelagia crieth out to Thee with a loud voice, O Jesus: “I love Thee, O my Bridegroom, and, seeking Thee, I pass through many strug­gles: I am crucified and buried with Thee in Thy baptism, and suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; I die for Thee that I might live with Thee. As an unblemished sacrifice accept me, who sacrifice myself with love for Thee By her supplications save Thou our souls, in that Thou art merciful.

Kontakion, Tone III —
Disdaining transitory things, having become a partaker of the good things of heaven and received a crown for thy suffering, O most honored Pelagia, thou didst bring the torrents of thy blood as a gift to Christ the Master. Pray thou, that He deliver from misfortunes us who honor thy memory


Blessed Martyrs and Fathers of the Saint David-Gareji Monastery

May 7, 2019 | Saints & Martyrs

Commemorated on the Tuesday of the Bright Week

In 1616 the Persian shah Abbas I led his enormous army in an attack on Georgia. Having quenched his thirst for the blood of the Christians, he arranged a hunt in the valley of Gare (Outer) Kakheti. He encamped with his escorts in the mountains of Gareji and spent the night in that place.

At midnight the shah’s attention was drawn to a flaming column of lights advancing up the mountain. At first he took it to be an apparition. He was soon informed, however, that a famous monastery was situated in that place and on that night the monks were circling their church three times with lighted candles in celebration of Christ’s Holy Resurrection. Immediately the shah commanded his army to march to the monastery and destroy all those found celebrating.

That same night an angel of the Lord appeared to Abbot Arsenius of David-Gareji and told him, “Our Lord Jesus Christ is calling the brothers to His Heavenly Kingdom. On this night great suffering awaits you—you will be killed by the sword. He who desires to prolong his earthly life, let him flee, but he who thirsts to purify his soul for eternity, let him perish by the sword, and the Lord God will adorn him with the crown of immortality. Tell this to all who dwell in the monastery, and let each man choose for himself!”

The abbot informed the monks about his vision, and they began to prepare for their imminent sufferings. Only two young monks feared death and fled to a mountain not far from the monastery. At the chanting of the Lord’s Prayer near the end of the Paschal Liturgy, the monastery was completely surrounded by Persian warriors. Abbot Arsenius stepped out of the church and approached their leader to request that the monks be given a bit more time to finish the service and for all the brothers to receive Holy Communion.

The Persians consulted among themselves and agreed to honor this request. The fathers partook of the Holy Gifts, encouraged one another, and presented themselves clad in festive garments before the unbelievers. First the Persians beheaded Abbot Arsenius; then they massacred his brothers in Christ without mercy.

After the Persians finished killing the monks, they were organized into several regiments and made their way towards the other monasteries of the Gareji Wilderness. Halfway between the Chichkhituri and St. John the Baptist Monasteries the Muslims captured the two young monks who had earlier fled and demanded that they convert to Islam.

The monks refused to abandon the Christian Faith and for this they were killed. A rose bush grew up in the place where they were killed and continued to fragrantly blossom through the 19th century, despite the dry and rocky soil.

At the end of the 17th century, King Archil gathered the bones of the martyrs with great reverence and buried them in a large stone reliquary to the left of the altar in the Transfiguration Church of David-Gareji Monastery. Their holy relics continue to stream myrrh to this day.

The brothers of the Monasteries of St. David of Gareji and St. John the Baptist received a blessing from Catholicos Anton I to compose a commemorative service for the martyrs and to designate their feast day as Bright Tuesday, or the third day of Holy Pascha.

© 2006 St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood.


The Holy Martyress Thomaida

April 25, 2019 | Saints & Martyrs

Commemorated on April 13

holy-martyress-thomaidaThe Holy Martyress Thomaida was born into a Christian family in the city of Alexandria. In her childhood she was educated in piety and loved to read Holy Scripture.

At 15 years of age the girl entered into marriage with a fisherman, – also a Christian. The young couple lived in the household of the husband’s family, where Saint Thomaida was loved for her mild and gentle disposition, and virtue and prudence.

The father-in-law of Saint Thomaida, at the prompting of the devil, was captivated by her beauty. When his son went out at night for fishing, he began seeking to lead his daughter-in-law into sin. In vain did Saint Thomaida admonish the senseless old man, reminding him about the last Judgement and about the penalty for sin. Infuriated by the steadfastness of Saint Thomaida, he thoughtlessly seized a sword and began to threaten her with death. But Saint Thomaida answered resolutely: “Even if thou cut me in two, I shall not stray from the commandments of the Lord”.

Overcome with passion, the father-in-law swung the sword and struck Saint Thomaida. The saint received a martyr’s death for her prudence and faith in the commandments of God in the year 476.

Divine chastisement befell the murderer. He instantly became blinded and was not able to go out the door to flee. In the morning there arrived companions of the saint’s husband. They opened the doors and saw the body of the saint and the blood-stained blind old man. The murderer himself confessed his evil deed and asked to be condemned to death by execution.

During this time there arrived in Alexandria from a wilderness skete the Monk Daniel. He bid the monks of the nearby Oktodecadia monastery to take the body of the martyress to bury in the monastery cemetery. Some of the monks were perplexed, how it should be possible to bury a woman with monks. The monk Daniel answered: “This girl – is a mother for me and you. She died for purity”.

After a solemn funeral the Monk Daniel returned to his own skete. Soon one of the young monks began to complain to him, that fleshly passions tormented him. The monk Daniel ordered him to go and pray at the grave of the holy martyress Thomaida. The monk did the bidding of the elder. During the time of prayer at the grave he fell into a light sleep. Saint Thomaida then appeared to him and said: “Father, have my blessing and go in peace”.

Having awakened, the monk felt at joy and peace in his soul. And after this the fleshly struggle no longer disturbed him. Abba Daniel explained to him: “The blessing – was the gift of the martyress’ prudence; the ascetic deeds of purity hold such power before God”.

In later times many found at the grave of Saint Thomaida both spiritual joy and release from their passions. The relics of Saint Thomaida were transferred to Constantinople to one of the women’s monasteries. In the year 1420 the Russian pilgrim archdeacon Zosima viewed them.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.