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Holy Virgin Martyr Anastasia the Roman

October 30, 2016 | Saints & Martyrs, Uncategorized


You endured behead­ing with a mighty heart, Off­spring of Rome Mar­tyr Anas­ta­sia. On the twen­ty-ninth Anas­ta­sia sub­mit­ted to a sharp sword.

The Ven­er­a­ble Mar­tyr Anas­ta­sia the Roman was born in Rome of well-born par­ents and left an orphan at the age of three. As an orphan, she was tak­en into a women’s monastery near Rome, where the abbess was one Sophia, a nun of a high lev­el of per­fec­tion. She raised Anas­ta­sia in fer­vent faith, in the fear of God and obe­di­ence. After sev­en­teen years, Anas­ta­sia was known to the Chris­tians as a great ascetic and to the pagans as a rare beau­ty.

The per­se­cu­tion against Chris­tians by the emper­or Decius (249–251)* began around that time. The pagan admin­is­tra­tor of the city, Probus, heard of her and sent sol­diers to bring Anas­ta­sia to him. The good Abbess Sophia coun­selled Anas­ta­sia for two hours on how to keep the faith, how to resist flat­ter­ing delu­sion and how to endure tor­ture. Anas­ta­sia said to her: “My heart is ready to suf­fer for Christ; my soul is ready to die for my beloved Jesus.” Blessed by her abbess to suf­fer for Christ, the young mar­tyr Anas­ta­sia humbly came out to meet the armed sol­diers.

Brought before the gov­er­nor Probus, Anas­ta­sia open­ly pro­claimed her faith in Christ the Lord. Probus asked for her name. She replied: “My name is Anas­ta­sia [“Res­ur­rec­tion”], because the Lord res­ur­rect­ed me, so that I could shame you today, and your father the dev­il.” On see­ing her youth and beau­ty, Probus first attempt­ed flat­tery to make her deny Christ and dis­suade her from the faith, “Why waste your youth, deprived of plea­sure? What is there to gain by endur­ing tor­tures and death for the Cru­ci­fied One? Wor­ship our gods, mar­ry a hand­some hus­band, and live in glo­ry and hon­or.” The holy maid­en stead­fast­ly replied, “My spouse, my rich­es, my life and my hap­pi­ness are my Lord Jesus Christ, and you will not turn me away from Him by your deceit! I am ready to die for my Lord, not once but — oh, if it were only pos­si­ble! — a thou­sand times.”

Probus then sub­ject­ed Anas­ta­sia to fierce tor­tures. The holy Mar­tyr brave­ly endured them, glo­ri­fy­ing and prais­ing the Lord. First she was struck in the face, then they stripped her naked, to humil­i­ate her. She cried out to the judge: “This dis­rob­ing isn’t shame­ful at all for me, because it’s a bril­liant, most fit­ting adorn­ment. I’ve been stripped of the old per­son and have donned the new, in right­eous­ness and truth. I’m now ready to suf­fer this death you hope to ter­ri­fy me with. I want it so much. Even if you cut up my mem­bers, rip out my tongue, my nails and my teeth, you’ll be grant­i­ng me an even greater bless­ing. I devote my whole being to my Cre­ator and Sav­ior. I desire that He be glo­ri­fied in all my mem­bers. I’ll present them to him as jew­els, with the adorn­ment of faith.”

The gov­er­nor then ordered that four posts be dri­ven into the ground, on which they stretched out the Mar­tyr and tied her, face-down. Under­neath, they lit a fire with oil, pitch and brim­stone, as well as oth­er inflam­ma­ble mate­ri­als, by which her breasts, stom­ach and inter­nal organs were burned. From above, the heart­less tor­tur­ers beat her back with sticks. She suf­fered and was thus tor­tured for a good long time and her spine and all her back were cut to pieces from the beat­ing. On her front, the flesh, the veins and her blood were all thor­ough­ly burned and she under­went such pain and agony that it was fright­en­ing to hear her. Only with her prayers, which were like dew, was she able to mod­er­ate the fierce­ness of the heat, because she remem­bered God’s for­mer mir­a­cles, such as the Baby­lon­ian fur­nace.

When the bru­tal and inhu­man beast saw that the Mar­tyr was not cowed by these tor­tures, he ordered her to be tied to a wheel. No soon­er said than done, and, when the wheel was turned by some mechan­i­cal device, all the Saint’s bones were shat­tered, her ten­dons and joints stretched, her body was pulled out of its nat­ur­al, har­mo­nious shape and she became a piti­ful sight.

When the tyrant saw that the Saint was able to with­stand this dread­ful tor­ture, he deter­mined to defeat her immense resilience with oth­er tor­tures. So he had all her teeth and nails pulled out and her breasts cut off. Again, the Saint thanked the Lord that she had become a shar­er and par­tic­i­pant in His suf­fer­ings. At the same time, she cursed the tyrant’s gods, call­ing them forces of dark­ness, demons and perdi­tion for the soul.

The judge could not bear to hear such words and, because the light was so hate­ful to his fee­ble eyes, he ordered that her tongue be torn out from the root. Yet again, the Saint was not cowed by this pun­ish­ment; she mere­ly asked for a lit­tle time in which to glo­ri­fy the Lord with her organs of speech. Hav­ing fin­ished her prayer, she told the exe­cu­tion­er to set about his work, which he did, cut­ting off her tongue. She faint­ed from the pain and a Chris­t­ian called Cyril gave her a lit­tle water to drink. When Probus heard this, he was so enraged that he ordered his head to be cut off.

An Angel of God appeared to Anas­ta­sia and upheld her. The peo­ple, see­ing the inhu­man and dis­gust­ing treat­ment of the Saint, became indig­nant, and the ruler was com­pelled to end the tor­tures. She was final­ly behead­ed with the sword out­side the city. The body of the Saint was thrown out beyond the city to be eat­en by wild ani­mals, but the Lord did not per­mit her holy relics to be dis­hon­ored. At the com­mand of a holy Angel, Abbess Sophia went to find Anastasia’s muti­lat­ed body, and with the help of two Chris­tians buried it in the earth.
In this man­ner, Saint Anas­ta­sia received the crown of mar­tyr­dom. Her feast day is cel­e­brat­ed on Octo­ber 29th.** Her shin­bone with skin on it as well as her right hand are kept today at Gre­go­ri­ou Monastery in Mount Athos.

* Some say it was dur­ing the reign of Dio­clet­ian.

** There is anoth­er Roman mar­tyr named Anas­ta­sia who is cel­e­brat­ed on Octo­ber 12th, but it is like­ly the same per­son. How­ev­er, this Anas­ta­sia should not be con­fused with Saint Anas­ta­sia the Phar­makoly­tria cel­e­brat­ed on Decem­ber 22nd.

Apoly­tikion in the Fourth Tone

O holy Vir­gin Anas­ta­sia, thou didst red­den thy robe of puri­ty with the blood of thy martyr’s con­test. Thou dost illu­mine the world with the grace of heal­ing, and inter­cede with Christ our God for our souls.

Kon­takion in the Third Tone
Puri­fied by the streams of thy vir­gin­i­ty, and crowned by the blood of mar­tyr­dom, thou dost grant heal­ing to those in sick­ness, and sal­va­tion to those who lov­ing­ly pray to thee. For Christ has giv­en thee strength which flows to us as a stream of grace, O Vir­gin Mar­tyr Anas­ta­sia.


The Life of Saint Nina

August 24, 2016 | Media, Saints & Martyrs, Uncategorized

Saint Ephrem the Syrian

August 19, 2016 | Media, Saints & Martyrs, Uncategorized

A Miracle of Saint John Maximovitch

July 1, 2016 | Saints & Martyrs, Uncategorized

Saint Isidore of Pelusium

February 4, 2016 | Saints & Martyrs, Uncategorized

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St. Isidore of Pelu­si­um: This Saint was from Alexan­dria and was a dis­ci­ple of Saint John Chrysos­tom. He strug­gled in asceti­cism in a monastery at Mount Pelu­si­um, and became abbot of the monks strug­gling in that monastery. He wrote a great many epis­tles replete with divine grace, wis­dom, and much prof­it. Over 2,000 of them are pre­served in Vol­ume 78 of Migne’s Patrolo­gia Grae­ca (PG 78:177‑1646); accord­ing to some, he wrote over 3,000 epis­tles, accord­ing to oth­ers, 10,000. He reposed on Feb­ru­ary 4, 440. Apoly­tikion in Pla­gal Fourth Mode The image of God, was faith­ful­ly pre­served in you, O Father. For you took up the Cross and fol­lowed Christ. By Your actions you taught us to look beyond the flesh for it pass­es, rather to be con­cerned about the soul which is immor­tal. Where­fore, O Holy Isidore, your soul rejoic­es with the angels. Kon­takion in Fourth Mode O All-Blessed Isidore, the Church hath found thee as anoth­er morn­ing star; and with the light­ning of thy words she is illu­mined and cri­eth out: Rejoice, O ven’rable Father of god­ly mind. #ortho­dox #ortho­doxy #ortho­dox­chris­tian­i­ty #icon #chiris­tian­i­ty #stisidore #faith

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Venerable Shio of Mgvime

May 23, 2015 | Saints & Martyrs, Uncategorized

Com­mem­o­rat­ed on May 9, May 7 and on Thurs­day of the Cheese-fare Week

An Anti­ochi­an by birth, St. Shio of Mgvime was among the Thir­teen Syr­i­an Fathers who preached the Chris­t­ian Faith in Geor­gia. His par­ents were pious nobles who pro­vid­ed their son with a sound edu­ca­tion.

When the twen­ty-year-old Shio heard about the great ascetic labors of St. John of Zedazeni and his dis­ci­ples who labored in the wilder­ness, he went in secret to vis­it them. St. John promised to receive Shio as a dis­ci­ple, pro­vid­ed his par­ents agreed to his deci­sion.

But when Shio returned home he said noth­ing to his par­ents about what had tran­spired.

Time passed and Shio’s par­ents both entered the monas­tic life.

Then Shio sold all his pos­ses­sions, dis­trib­uted the prof­its to the poor, wid­ows, orphans, and her­mits, freed all his family’s slaves, and returned to Fr. John.

St. John received Shio joy­ful­ly, ton­sured him a monk, and blessed him to remain in the wilder­ness. He labored there with St. John for twen­ty years. Then John was told in a divine rev­e­la­tion to choose twelve dis­ci­ples and trav­el to Geor­gia to increase the faith of its peo­ple. Shio was one of the dis­ci­ples cho­sen to fol­low him on this holy mis­sion.

The holy fathers arrived in Geor­gia and set­tled on Zedazeni Moun­tain. Then, with the bless­ings of Catholi­cos Evlavios and Fr. John, they dis­persed through­out the coun­try to preach the Word of God.

At his instructor’s com­mand, St. Shio set­tled in the Sarkineti caves near Mtskheta and began to lead a strict ascetic life. There was no water there and many wild ani­mals made their home in the caves, but the pri­va­tions and tribu­la­tions he encoun­tered did not shake St. Shio’s great faith. Like the Prophet Eli­jah, Shio received his food from the mouths of birds that car­ried it to him.

Once, after St. Shio had prayed at length, a radi­ant light appeared sud­den­ly in the place where he was, and the­Most Holy Theotokos and St. John the Bap­tist stood before him. After this mirac­u­lous vis­i­ta­tion St. Shio began to pray with even greater zeal, and he would spend hours alone in the wilder­ness.

Anoth­er time, St. Eva­gre (at that time ruler of Tsikhe­di­di and mil­i­tary advis­er to King Pars­man) went hunt­ing in the Sarkineti Moun­tains. There he encoun­tered St. Shio and, aston­ished by his piety, resolved to remain there with him. The news of the ruler’s con­ver­sion soon spread through all of Geor­gia, and many peo­ple flocked to wit­ness the ven­er­a­ble father’s mirac­u­lous deeds. Many remained there with them, fol­low­ing St. Evagre’s exam­ple.

Once St. Shio prayed to God to reveal to him the place where He desired a church to be built. He placed a lump of hot coal in his hand and sprin­kled incense on it, as though his hand were a censer. Then he fol­lowed the smoke as it swirled up from the hot coal. In the place where it rose straight up like a pil­lar, he took his staff and marked the ground where the church would be built.

When King Pars­man heard about his mil­i­tary adviser’s rad­i­cal change of life, he was deeply dis­turbed and wan­dered into the wilder­ness to find him. But when he wit­nessed the divine grace shin­ing on St. Shio’s face, he took off his crown and knelt humbly before him. Fr. Shio rev­er­ent­ly blessed the king, helped him to stand up, and replaced the crown on his head. Fol­low­ing the king’s exam­ple, all the roy­al court came to receive Shio’s bless­ing. A cer­tain noble­man with an injured eye knelt before St. Shio, touched his eye to the holy father’s foot, and received heal­ing at once.

At anoth­er time King Pars­man asked St. Shio if there was any­thing he need­ed, and he answered, “O Sov­er­eign King, God enlight­ens the hearts of kings. Do that which your heart tells you!” In response, the king donat­ed much wealth for the con­struc­tion of a church in the wilder­ness: the lands of four vil­lages, a holy chal­ice and diskos, a gold cross, and an ornate­ly dec­o­rat­ed Gospel that had belonged to the holy king Vakhtang Gor­gasali (†502).

When con­struc­tion of the church was com­plete, the king trav­eled there in the com­pa­ny of the catholi­cos, sev­er­al bish­ops and St. John of Zedazeni. The hier­ar­chs con­se­crat­ed the new­ly built church, and a monas­tic com­mu­ni­ty soon grew up on its grounds. Even­tu­al­ly, the num­ber of monks labor­ing at King Parsman’s monastery grew to near­ly two thou­sand. Many peo­ple vis­it­ed this place to receive St. Shio’s won­der-work­ing bless­ings, and they were healed from many dis­eases.

St. Shio per­formed many mir­a­cles: Once a wolf that had been prowl­ing the monastery grounds rav­aged a herd of don­keys. When St. Shio heard this, he prayed to God to trans­form the wolf into the pro­tec­tor of the herd. From that time on the wolf grazed peace­ful­ly among the oth­er ani­mals.

With the bless­ings of both his teacher, John of Zedazeni, and the catholi­cos of Geor­gia, St. Shio gath­ered his dis­ci­ples, advised them on the path they should fol­low, appoint­ed Eva­gre his suc­ces­sor as abbot, and went into reclu­sion in a well that he had dug for him­self. There St. Shio spent fif­teen years in prayer and fast­ing. Final­ly, when God revealed to him that his death was approach­ing, St. Shio par­took of the Holy Gifts and lift­ed up his hands, say­ing, “O Lord, receive the soul of Thy ser­vant!”

Lat­er, dur­ing one of the Per­sian inva­sions, the sol­diers of Shah Abbas uncov­ered the holy father’s relics and car­ried them back to Per­sia. In the same year Per­sia was rav­aged by a ter­ri­ble plague, and the fright­ened invaders returned the holy relics to the Shio-Mgvime Monastery.

© 2006 St. Her­man of Alas­ka Broth­er­hood.

The Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian

May 21, 2015 | Saints & Martyrs, Uncategorized

Com­mem­o­rat­ed on May 8, Sep­tem­ber 26

st-john-theologianThe Holy Apos­tle and Evan­ge­list John the The­olo­gian occu­pies an unique place in the ranks of the cho­sen dis­ci­ples of Christ the Sav­iour. Often in iconog­ra­phy the Apos­tle John is depict­ed as a gen­tle, majes­tic and spir­i­tu­al elder, with fea­tures of inno­cent ten­der­ness, with the imprint of com­plete calm upon his fore­head and the deep look of a con­tem­pla­tor of unut­tered rev­e­la­tions. Anoth­er main trait of the spir­i­tu­al coun­te­nance of the Apos­tle John is revealed through his teach­ing about love, for which the title “Apos­tle of Love” is pre­em­i­nent­ly des­ig­nat­ed to him. Actu­al­ly, all his writ­ings are per­me­at­ed by love, the basic con­cept of which leads to the com­pre­hen­sion, that God in His Being is Love (1 Jn. 4: 8). In his writ­ings, Saint John dwells espe­cial­ly upon the man­i­fes­ta­tions of the inex­press­ible love of God for the world and for mankind, the love of his Divine Teacher. He con­stant­ly exhorts his dis­ci­ples to mutu­al love one for anoth­er.
      The ser­vice of Love – was the entire path­way of life of the Apos­tle John the The­olo­gian.

      The qual­i­ties of calm­ness and pro­found con­tem­pla­tion were in him com­bined with an ardent fideli­ty, ten­der and bound­less love with inten­si­ty and even a cer­tain abrupt­ness. From the brief indi­ca­tions of the Evan­ge­lists it is appar­ent, that he was endowed in the high­est degree with an ardent nature, and his hearty pas­sion­ate­ness some­times reached such a stormy zeal­ous­ness, that Jesus Christ was com­pelled to give the admon­ish­ment, that it was dis­cor­dant with the spir­it of the new teach­ing (Mk. 9: 38–40; Lk. 9: 49–50, 54‑56) and He called the Apos­tle John and his broth­er by birth the Apos­tle James “Sons of Thun­der” (“Boan­erges”). Dur­ing this while Saint John shows scant mod­esty, and besides his par­tic­u­lar posi­tion among the Apos­tles as “the dis­ci­ple whom Jesus loved”, he did not stand out among the oth­er dis­ci­ples of the Sav­iour. The dis­tin­guish­ing fea­tures of his char­ac­ter were the obser­vance and sen­si­tiv­i­ty to events, per­me­at­ed by a keen sense of obe­di­ence to the Will of God. Impres­sions received from with­out rarely showed up in his word or actions, but they pen­e­trat­ed deeply and pow­er­ful­ly into the inner life of the holy Apos­tle John. Always sen­si­tive to oth­ers, his heart ached for the per­ish­ing. The Apos­tle John with pious trem­u­la­tion was atten­tive to the Divine­ly-inspired teach­ing of his Mas­ter, to the ful­ness of grace and truth, in pure and sub­lime com­pre­hend­ing the Glo­ry of the Son of God. No fea­ture of the earth­ly life of Christ the Sav­iour slipped past the pen­e­trat­ing gaze of the Apos­tle John, nor did any event occur, that did not leave a deep impres­sion on his mem­o­ry, since in him was con­cen­trat­ed all the ful­ness and whole­ness of the human per­son. The thoughts also of the Apos­tle John the The­olo­gian are imbued with such­like an inte­gral whole­ness. The dichoto­my of per­son did not exist for him. In accord with his pre­cepts, where there is not full devo­tion, there is noth­ing. Hav­ing cho­sen the path to ser­vice to Christ, to the end of his life he ful­filled it with com­plete and undi­vid­ed devo­tion. The Apos­tle John speaks about wholis­tic a devo­tion to Christ, about the ful­ness of life in Him, where­fore also sin is con­sid­ered by him not as a weak­ness and injury of human nature, but as evil, as a neg­a­tive prin­ci­ple, which is com­plete­ly set in oppo­si­tion to the good (Jn. 8: 34; 1 Jn. 3: 4, 8–9). In his per­spec­tive, it is nec­es­sary to belong either to Christ or to the dev­il, it is not pos­si­ble to be of a mediocre luke­warm, unde­cid­ed con­di­tion (1 Jn. 2: 22, 4: 3; Rev. 3: 15–16). There­fore he served the Lord with undi­vid­ed love and self-denial, hav­ing repu­di­at­ed every­thing that apper­tains to the ancient ene­my of mankind, the ene­my of truth and the father of lies (1 Jn. 2: 21–22). Just as strong­ly as he loves Christ, just as strong­ly he con­temns the Anti-Christ; just as intense­ly he loves truth, with an equal inten­si­ty does he con­temn false­hood, – for light doth expel dark­ness (Jn. 8: 12; 12: 35–36). By the man­i­fes­ta­tion of the inner fire of love he wit­ness­es with the unique pow­er of spir­it about the Divin­i­ty of Jesus Christ (Jn. 1: 1–18; 1 Jn. 5: 1–12).
      To the Apos­tle John was giv­en to express the last word of the Divine Rev­e­la­tion (i.e. the final book of the Holy Scrip­ture), ush­er­ing in the most trea­sured mys­ter­ies of the Divine inner life, known only to the eter­nal Word of God, the Only-Begot­ten Son.
      Truth is reflect­ed in his mind and in his words, where­in he sens­es and grasps it in his heart. He has com­pre­hen­sion of eter­nal Truth, and as he sees it, he trans­mits it to his beloved spir­i­tu­al chil­dren. The Apos­tle John with sim­plic­i­ty affirms or denies and speaks always with absolute pre­ci­sion (1 Jn. 1: 1). He hears the voice of the Lord, reveal­ing to him what He Him­self hears from the Father.
      The the­ol­o­gy of the Apos­tle John abol­ish­es the bor­der­line between the present and the future. Look­ing at the present time, he does not halt at it, but trans­ports his gaze to the eter­nal in the past time and to the eter­nal in the future time. And there­fore he, exhort­ing for holi­ness in life, solemn­ly pro­claims, that “all, born of God, sin not” (1 Jn. 5: 18; 3: 9). In com­mu­nion with God the true Chris­t­ian par­takes of life Divine, where­by the future of mankind is accom­plished already on earth. In his expla­na­tion and dis­clos­ing of the teach­ing about the Econo­mia of sal­va­tion, the Apos­tle John cross­es over into the area of the eter­nal present, in which Heav­en would co-incide with earth and the earth would be enlight­ened with the Light of Heav­en­ly Glo­ry.
      Thus did the Galilean fish­er­man, this son of Zebedee, become The­olo­gian pro­claim­ing through Rev­e­la­tion the mys­tery of world-exis­tence and the fate of mankind.
      The cel­e­bra­tion on 8 May of the holy Apos­tle John the The­olo­gian was estab­lished by the Church in remem­brance of the annu­al draw­ing forth on this day at the place of his bur­ial of fine rose ash­es, which believ­ers gath­ered for heal­ing from var­i­ous mal­adies. The account about the life of the holy Evan­ge­list John the The­olo­gian is sit­u­at­ed under 26 Sep­tem­ber, the day of his repose.

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

The Monk Vitalios

May 5, 2015 | Saints & Martyrs, Uncategorized

Com­mem­o­rat­ed on April 22

      The Monk Vital­ios, a monk of the monastery of Saint Serid, arrived in Alexan­dria when the Patri­arch of Alexan­dria was Saint­ed John the Mer­ci­ful (609−620, Comm. 12 Novem­ber).
      The saint, already up in age (he was 60 years old), made bold to take upon him­self an extra­or­di­nary exploit: he wrote down for him­self in mem­o­ry all the har­lots of Alexan­dria and he began fer­vent­ly to pray for them. The monk toiled from morn­ing to evening and he earned each day 12 cop­per coins. In the evening the saint bought him­self a sin­gle bean, which he ate not ear­li­er than sun­set. The remain­ing mon­ey he would give to one of the har­lots, to whom he went at night and said: “I beseech thee, for this mon­ey pre­serve thy­self in puri­ty this night, and sin with no one”. Then the monk shut him­self in with the har­lot in her room, and while she slept, the elder spent the whole night at prayer, read­ing the psalms, and in the morn­ing he qui­et­ly left. And such he did each day, vis­it­ing by turns all the har­lots, and he took from them a promise, to keep secret the pur­pose of his vis­it. The peo­ple of Alexan­dria, not know­ing the truth, became indig­nant over the behav­iour of the monk, and they every which way reviled him, but he meek­ly endured all the mock­ery and he only asked that they not judge oth­ers.

      The holy prayers of the Monk Vital­ios saved many a fall­en woman. Some of them went off to a monastery, oth­ers got mar­ried, and yet oth­ers start­ed respectable work. But to tell the rea­son of straight­en­ing out their life and lift the abuse heaped upon the Monk Vital­ios they could not: they were bound by an oath, giv­en to the saint. And when of the woman began to break her oath to stand up in defense of the saint, she fell into a demon­ic fren­zy. After this, the Alexan­dria peo­ple had no doubt con­cern­ing the sin­ful­ness of the monk.
      Cer­tain of the cler­gy, scan­dalised by the behav­iour of the monk, made denun­ci­a­tion against him to the holy Patri­arch John the Mer­ci­ful. But the Patri­arch did not believe the inform­ers and he said: “Cease to judge, espe­cial­ly monks. For know ye not, what tran­spired at the First Nicea Coun­cil? Cer­tain of the bish­ops and the cler­gy brought writ­ten let­ters of denun­ci­a­tion against each oth­er to the emper­or of blessed mem­o­ry Con­stan­tine the Great. He com­mand­ed that a burn­ing can­dle be brought, and not even read­ing the writ­ings, he burned them and said: “If I per­chance with mine own eyes had seen a bish­op sin­ning, or a priest, or a monk, then I would have veiled such with his garb, so that no one might see his sin”. Thus the wise hier­ar­ch shamed the calum­ni­a­tors.
      The Monk Vital­ios 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 an 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 the Monk Vital­ios set­tled into a small cell and in it at night he died. In that self­same 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 for thee is a knock from the Monk Vital­ios”. 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, in that 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 the Monk Vital­ios. 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 the Monk Vital­ios learned about his death, they gath­ered togeth­er and told every­one about the virtues and mer­cy of the saint.
      Saint 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 the Monk Vital­ios, 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.

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

Quote from the Monk Martyr Michael of St Savvas

September 18, 2014 | Saints & Martyrs, Uncategorized

The king then, full of wrath, said: “Do either of two things: deny thy faith or choose a bit­ter death.” The ath­lete of Christ answered:  “Do thou one of three things: leave me to go to my elder, for I have done no wrong; or send me to Christ with mar­tyr­dom; or become a Chris­t­ian and reign for eter­ni­ty in the heav­ens.”

The Lives of the Saints of the Holy Land and the Sanai Desert

Monk-Mar­tyr Michael of St. Sav­vas Lavra

The Holy Great-Martyress Irene

May 19, 2014 | Saints & Martyrs, Uncategorized

The Holy Great-Mar­tyress Irene lived dur­ing the I Cen­tu­ry and until bap­tism had the name Pene­lope. She was daugh­ter of the pagan Licinius, gov­er­nor of the city of Migdo­nia (in Mace­do­nia, or Thrace). Licinius built for his daugh­ter a sep­a­rate splen­did palace, where she lived with her gov­erness Karia, sur­round­ed by her peers and her ser­vants. Dai­ly there came to Pene­lope a tutor by the name of Apelian, who taught her the sci­ences. Apelian was a Chris­t­ian, and dur­ing the time of study he told the maid­en about Christ the Sav­iour and taught her the Chris­t­ian teach­ing and the Chris­t­ian virtues. 
      When Pene­lope became an ado­les­cent, her par­ents began to think about her mar­riage. Dur­ing this peri­od of her life the Lord instruct­ed her in a mirac­u­lous man­ner: to her at the win­dow there flew one after the oth­er of three birds – a dove with an olive twig, an eagle with a gar­land, and a raven with a snake. Penelope’s teacher Apelian explained to her the mean­ing of these signs: the Dove, sym­bol­is­ing the virtues of the maid­en, – humil­i­ty, meek­ness and chaste­ness, – bear­ing an olive twig, – the grace of God received in Bap­tism; the Eagle, – sym­bol of sub­lim­i­ty of spir­it, attained through med­i­ta­tion upon God, – bear­ing a gar­land for vic­to­ry over the invis­i­ble ene­my as a reward from the Lord. The Raven, how­ev­er, bear­ing the snake was a sign that the dev­il would rise up against her and would cause her grief, sor­row and per­se­cu­tion. At the end of the con­ver­sa­tion Apelian said, that the Lord wished to betroth her to Him­self and that Pene­lope would under­go much suf­fer­ing for her Heav­en­ly Bride­groom. After this Pene­lope refused mar­riage, accept­ed Bap­tism from the hands of the Dis­ci­ple Tim­o­thy, – who was a dis­ci­ple of the holy Apos­tle Paul, and she was named Irene. She began even to urge her own par­ents to accept the Chris­t­ian faith. The moth­er was pleased with the con­ver­sion of her daugh­ter to Christ; the father at first did not hin­der his daugh­ter, but then he began to demand of her the wor­ship to the pagan gods. When how­ev­er Saint Irene firm­ly and deci­sive­ly refused, the enraged Licinius then gave orders to tie up his daugh­ter and throw her beneathe the hooves of fren­zied hors­es. The hors­es remained motion­less. But one of them got loose from its har­ness, threw itself at Licinius, seized him by the right hand and tore it from his arm, then knocked Licinius down and began to tram­ple him. They then untied the holy maid­en, and through her prayer Licinius in the pres­ence of eye‑witnesses rose up unharmed, with his hand intact. See­ing such a mir­a­cle, Licinius with his wife and many of the peo­ple, in num­ber about 3000 men, believed in Christ and refrained from the pagan gods. Resign­ing the gov­er­nance of the city, Licinius set­tled into the palace of his daugh­ter, intend­ing to devote him­self to the ser­vice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Irene how­ev­er began to preach the teach­ing of Christ among the pagans and she con­vert­ed them to the path of sal­va­tion. She lived in the house of her teacher Apelian.

Hav­ing learned of this, Sede­cius, – the new gov­er­nor of the city, sum­moned Apelian and ques­tioned him about the man­ner of life of Irene. Apelian answered that Irene, just like oth­er Chris­tians, lived in strict tem­per­ance, in con­stant prayer and read­ing of holy books. Sede­cius sum­moned the saint to him and began to urge her to cease preach­ing about Christ and to offer sac­ri­fice to the gods. Saint Irene staunch­ly con­fessed her faith before the gov­er­nor, not fear­ing his wrath, and pre­pared to under­go suf­fer­ing for Christ. By order of Sede­cius she was thrown into a pit, filled with vipers and ser­pents. The saint spent 10 days in the pit and remained unharmed, since an Angel of the Lord pro­tect­ed her and brought her food. Sede­cius ascribed this mir­a­cle to sor­cery and he sub­ject­ed the saint to a cru­el tor­ture: he gave orders to saw her with an iron saw. But the saws broke one after the oth­er and caused no harm to the body of the holy vir­gin. Final­ly, a fourth saw red­dened the body of the holy mar­tyress with blood. Sede­cius with deri­sion said to the mar­tyress: “Where then is thy God? If He be pow­er­ful, let Him help thee!” Sud­den­ly a whirl­wind shot up, gave forth a blind­ing light­ning-flash, strik­ing down many of the tor­tur­ers, thun­der crashed, and a strong rain poured down. Behold­ing such a sign from Heav­en, many believed in Christ the Sav­iour. Sede­cius did not under­stand the obvi­ous dis­play of the pow­er of God and he sub­ject­ed the saint to new tor­ments, but the Lord pre­served her unharmed. Final­ly the peo­ple rebelled hav­ing to look upon the suf­fer­ings of the inno­cent vir­gin, and they rose up against Sede­cius and expelled him from the city.
      Hav­ing replaced Sede­cius as gov­er­nor, they still sub­ject­ed Saint Irene to var­i­ous cru­el tor­ments, dur­ing which while by the pow­er of God she con­tin­ued to remain unharmed, and the peo­ple under the influ­ence of her preach­ing and accom­plish­ing of mir­a­cles all the more in num­ber were con­vert­ed to Christ, hav­ing turned away from the wor­ship of soul-less idols. Over 10,000 pagans were con­vert­ed by Saint Irene.
      The saint went from her native city Migdo­nia to Kallipo­lis, and there she con­tin­ued to preach about Christ. The gov­er­nor of the city by the name of Babadonos sub­ject­ed the mar­tyress to new pun­ish­ments, but see­ing that the saint remained unharmed, he came to his sens­es and believed in Christ. A large num­ber of pagans believed togeth­er with him, all whom received holy Bap­tism from the Dis­ci­ple Tim­o­thy.
      After this Saint Irene set­tled in oth­er cities of Thrace – Kon­stan­ti­nos and then Mesem­bros, preach­ing about Christ and work­ing mir­a­cles, heal­ing the sick and under­go­ing suf­fer­ing for Christ. 
      In the city of Eph­esus the Lord revealed to her, that the time of her end was approach­ing. Then Saint Irene in the com­pa­ny of her teacher the elder Apelian and oth­er Chris­tians went out from the city to an hilly cave and, hav­ing signed her­self with the sign of the cross, she went into it, hav­ing direct­ed her com­pan­ions to close the entrance to the cave with a large stone, which they did. Four days after this, when Chris­tians vis­it­ed the cave, they did not find the body of the saint in it. Thus reposed the holy Great-Mar­tyress Irene.

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