Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hierarch Samuel, Second Catholicos of Georgia

Commemorated on November 30

Saint Peter was the first catholicos of Georgia. He led the Church of Kartli from the 460s through the beginning of the 6th century. According to God’s will, St. Peter inaugurated the dynasty of the chief shepherds of Georgia.

It is written in the biography of Holy King Vakhtang IV Gorgasali that the king was introduced to Peter, a pupil of St. Gregory the Theologian, during one of his visits to Byzantium, and he became very close to him. At that time he was also introduced to the future catholicos Samuel.

The close spiritual bond of the holy king and the catholicos, combined with their concerted efforts on behalf of the Church, contributed immeasurably to the establishment of friendly political relations between Georgia and Byzantium and the proclamation of the autocephaly of the Georgian Apostolic Church.

Having returned to his own capital, King Vakhtang sent an envoy to Byzantium to find him a wife. He also sent a request that the hierarch Peter be elevated as catholicos and that the priest Samuel be consecrated bishop. He pleaded with the patriarch to hasten the arrival of Catholicos Peter and the twelve bishops with him.

The patriarch of Constantinople approved King Vakhtang’s request to institute the rank of catholicos of Georgia. Since the Georgian Church was still under the jurisdiction of Antioch, Peter and Samuel were sent to the Antiochian patriarch himself to be elevated. The autocephaly of the Georgian Church was proclaimed upon the arrival of the holy fathers in Georgia.

St. Peter ruled the Church according to the principle of autocephaly and established a form of self-rule that would later help to increase the authority of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church.

The mutual respect and cooperation of the catholicos and the holy king laid the foundations for future, harmonious relations between secular and Church authorities in Georgia. Their example defined the authority of the Church and a national love and respect for the king.

Peter accompanied Holy King Vakhtang Gorgasali to war with the Persians in 502. It is written that “the fatally wounded king Vakhtang summoned the catholicos, the queen, his sons and all the nobility.” St. Peter heard the king’s last confession, granted the remission of his sins, presided at his funeral service, and blessed the prince Dachi (502–514) to succeed him as king of Kartli.

Holy Catholicos Peter led the Georgian Church with great wisdom to the end of his days.

St. Samuel ascended the throne of the Apostolic Orthodox Church of Georgia in the 6th century, after the holy catholicos Peter.

Like St. Peter, Samuel was a native of Byzantium. He arrived with Catholicos Peter in Georgia as a bishop, at the invitation of King Vakhtang Gorgasali and with the blessing of the patriarch of Constantinople.

At that time Svetitskhoveli in Mtskheta was the residence of the catholicos.

After the repose of Catholicos Peter, Samuel succeeded him, and King Dachi “bestowed upon him the city of Mtskheta, according to the will of King Vakhtang.” St. Samuel led the Georgian Church during the reigns of King Dachi and his son Bakur. He initiated construction of Tsqarostavi Church in the Javakheti region.

What we know of St. Samuel’s activity paints him as a pastor who demonstrated great foresight and cared deeply about his flock. He was also a close acquaintance of the holy martyr Queen Shushanik.

St. Samuel faithfully served the Autocephalous Church of Georgia and labored to strengthen the Christian Faith of the Georgian people to the end of his days.

The Holy Synod of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church canonized the holy catholicos Peter and the holy catholicos Samuel on October 17, 2002.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Monday, November 29, 2010

Venerable Acacius of Sinai, who is mentioned in the Ladder

Commemorated on November 29
Saint Acacius of Sinai lived during the sixth century and was a novice at a certain monastery in Asia. The humble monk distinguished himself by his patient and unquestioning obedience to his Elder, a harsh and dissolute man. He forced his disciple to toil excessively, starved him with hunger, and beat him without mercy. Despite such treatment, St Acacius meekly endured the affliction and thanked God for everything. St Acacius died after suffering these torments for nine years.

Five days after Acacius was buried, his Elder told another Elder about the death of his disciple. The second Elder did not believe that the young monk was dead. They went to the grave of Acacius and the second Elder called out: "Brother Acacius, are you dead?" From the grave a voice replied, "No, Father, how is it possible for an obedient man to die?" The startled Elder of St Acacius fell down with tears before the grave, asking forgiveness of his disciple.

After this he repented, constantly saying to the Fathers, "I have committed murder." He lived in a cell near the grave of St Acacius, and he ended his life in prayer and in meekness. St John Climacus (March 30) mentions him in THE LADDER (Step 4:110) as an example of endurance and obedience, and of the rewards for these virtues.

St Acacius is also commemorated on July 7.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Holy Martyrs and Confessors Stephen, Basil, Gregory, another Gregory, John and many others

Commemorated on November 28

The Holy Martyrs Stephen, Basil, Gregory, another Gregory, John and many others suffered for the veneration of holy icons with the Monk Martyr Stephen the New, with whom they languished together in prison. After his martyric death, they were executed.

Monkmartyr and Confessor Stephen the New of Mt St Auxentius 


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Saturday, November 27, 2010

St James the Bishop and Wonderworker of Rostov

Commemorated on November 27

Saint James, Bishop of Rostov According to a local tradition, he received monastic tonsure at Kopyrsk monastery on the River Ukhtoma, 80 kilometers from Rostov. For a long time he was igumen of this monastery, and in the year 1385 he was made Bishop of Rostov when Pimen was Metropolitan and Demetrius of the Don was Great Prince.

In defending a woman condemned to execution, the saint followed the example of the Savior, inviting whoever considered himself to be without sin to cast the first stone at her (John 8:7), and he then sent the woman forth to repentance. The Prince and the Rostov nobles, disgruntled over the bishop's judgment, threw St James out of Rostov.

Leaving the city, the saint proceeded to Lake Nero, spread his bishop's mantiya on the water, and having signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, he sailed off on it as if on a boat, guided by the grace of God. Traveling one and a half versts from the city, St James emerged on shore at the site of his future monastery. The prince and the people, repenting their actions, besought the saint's forgiveness. The gentle bishop forgave them, but he did not return again.

On the shore of Lake Nero he made himself a cell and built a small church in honor of the Conception of the Most Holy Theotokos by Righteous Anna, marking the beginning of the Conception-St James monastery. St James died there on November 27, 1392.

There is a story that St James fought against the Iconoclast heresy of a certain fellow named Markian, who appeared in Rostov toward the end of the fourteenth century. The more ancient Lives of our saint do not mention this, and even the great hagiographer St Demetrius of Rostov was unaware of it. More recent hagiographers were wont to draw material from the Service to St James of Rostov. But the Service itself, preserved in copies from the sixteenth-seventeenth centuries, was compiled by borrowing from the Service to St Bucolus (February 6), who struggled against the first century heretic Marcian, and from the Service to St Stephen of Surozh (December 15), who contended against the emperor Constantine Kopronymos (741-775).

St James is also commemorated on May 23.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Friday, November 26, 2010

Repose of St Innocent the first Bishop of Irkutsk

Commemorated on November 26
Saint Innocent, Bishop of Irkutsk, (in the world John) was descended from the noble Kulchitsky family. His parents moved from Volhynia to the Chernigov region in the mid-seventeenth century. The saint was born in about the year 1680, and educated at the Kiev Spiritual Academy. He accepted monastic tonsure in 1710 and was appointed an instructor at the Moscow Slavonic-Greek-Latin Academy as prefect and professor of theology.

In 1719 St Innocent transferred to the St Peterburg Alexander Nevsky Lavra, and was appointed chief naval chaplain. In 1720 he served as vice-regent of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra.

On February 14, 1721, hieromonk Innocent was consecrated as Bishop of Pereyaslavl and appointed to the Peking Spiritual Mission in China. But the Chinese government refused to allow him to enter the country, because the Senate Commission on External Affairs had indiscretely characterized him as "a spiritual personage, a great lord." The saint was compelled to spend three years at Selingin on the Chinese border, suffering much deprivation because of the uncertainty of his position, and grief from the disarray of the civil government in Siberia. Diplomatic blunders of the Russian Mission in China by Graf Raguzinsky, and intrigues by the Irkutsk archimandrite Anthony Platkovsky led to the appointment of Archimandrite Anthony in China. By decree of the Most Holy Synod St Innocent was named in 1727 to be Bishop of Irkutsk and Nerchinsk. And so he entered into the governance of the newly-formed dioceses.

The proximity of the Chinese border, the expanse and sparsely-settled dioceses, the great number of diverse nationalities (Buryat, Mongol, and others), mostly unenlightened by the Christian Faith, the lack of roads and the poverty - all this made St Innocent's pastoral work burdensome and his life full of deprivations. Through a strange oversight of the Senate, he did not receive any money until the time of his death, and he endured extreme want. In these difficult condition of scant funds the Irkutsk Ascension monastery still maintained two schools opened under him, one Mongol and the other Russian. The constant concern of the saint was directed towards the schools: the selection of worthy teachers, and providing the necessary books, clothing and other provisions for students.

The saint toiled tirelessly at organizing the diocese, and strengthening its spiritual life. His many sermons, pastoral letters and directives bear witness to this. In his work and deprivations St Innocent found spiritual strength, humility, and insight.

In the spring of 1728, the Baikal region began to suffer a drought. Famine from a poor grain harvest had threatened the diocese already back in 1727. With the blessing of the holy hierarch, in May within the churches of Irkutsk and the Irkutsk region they began to include a Molieben for an end to the drought at each Liturgy. On Saturdays they sang an Akathist to the Mother of God, and on Sundays they served a Molieben. "The supplications," said the saint, "should end on the Feast of St Elias" (July 20). Indeed, on that very day a storm raged at Irkutsk with such strong rains, that in the streets of the city water stood up to people's knees, and thus the drought ended.

Through the efforts of St Innocent, construction was started on a stone church to replace the wooden one at the Ascension monastery, and the boundaries of the diocese were expanded to include not only Selingin, but also the Yakutsk and Ilimsk surroundings.

The saint, not noted for robust health, and under the influence of the severe climate and his afflictions, departed to the Lord at a rather young age (51). He reposed on the morning of November 27, 1731.

In the year 1764, the body of the saint was discovered incorrupt during restoration work on the monastery's Tikhvin church. Many miracles occurred not only at Irkutsk, but also in remote places of Siberia, for those who flocked to the saint with prayer. This moved the Most Holy Synod to uncover the relics and to glorify the saint in the year 1800.

In the year 1804, a feastday was established to celebrate his memory throughout all Russia on November 26, since the Sign Icon of the Mother of God is commemorated on the actual day of his repose (November 27). St Innocent is also remembered on February 9.

In 1921, the relics of St Innocent were taken from their shrine and placed in a Soviet anti-religious museum. They were moved to another museum in Yaroslav in 1939, and were exhibited as "mummified remains of an unknown man." In 1990, they were brought to the newly-reopened Tolga Monastery in the Yaroslav diocese. In September of 1990, the holy relics arrived in Irkutsk and were placed in the cathedral, to the joy of all the faithful.

Troparion - Tone 3
Radiant light of the church,
You illumined the earth by your deeds.
Those who drew near to you in faith, you healed and so glorified God.
Therefore, O holy Father Innocent, we beseech you,
Encompass this land with your prayers,
And protect us from all harm and misdeed.

Kontakion - Tone 2

The Trinity delights in you
O Holy Bishop Innocent.
You are divine thunder, a spiritual trumpet,
A planter of the faith and destroyer of heresies.
As you ever stand with the angels,
Entreat without ceasing for us all!

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Katherine the Great Martyr of Alexandria

November 25

Saint Catherine, who was from Alexandria, was the daughter of Constas (or Cestus). She was an exceedingly beautiful maiden, most chaste, and illustrious in wealth, lineage, and learning. By her steadfast understanding, she utterly vanquished the passionate and unbridled soul of Maximinus, the tyrant of Alexandria; and by her eloquence, she stopped the mouths of the so-called philosophers who had been gathered to dispute with her. She was crowned with the crown of martyrdom in the year 305. Her holy relics were taken by Angels to the holy mountain of Sinai, where they were discovered many years later; the famous monastery of Saint Catherine was originally dedicated to the Holy Transfiguration of the Lord and the Burning Bush, but later was dedicated to Saint Catherine. According to the ancient usage, Saints Catherine and Mercurius were celebrated on the 24th of this month, whereas the holy Hieromartyrs Clement of Rome and Peter of Alexandria were celebrated on the 25th. The dates of the feasts of these Saints were interchanged at the request of the Church and Monastery of Mount Sinai, so that the festival of Saint Catherine, their patron, might be celebrated more festively together with the Apodosis of the Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos. The Slavic Churches, however, commemorate these Saints on their original dates.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone
Let us praise the most auspicious bride of Christ, the divine Katherine, protectress of Sinai, our aid and our help. For, she brilliantly silenced the eloquence of the impious by the sword of the spirit, and now, crowned as a martyr, she asks great mercy for all.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
O friends of martyrs, now divinely raise up a renewed chorus, praising the all-wise Katherine. For, she proclaimed Christ in the arena, trampled on the serpent, and spat upon the knowledge of the orators.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Venerable Mercurius the Faster of the Kiev Caves

Commemorated on November 24

Saint Mercurius of Kiev Caves pursued asceticism in the Farther Caves in the fourteenth century, and was strict in fasting. During his lifetime St Mercurius had a deep spiritual friendship with St Paisius, and when they died, they were buried in the same grave.

The November 24 commemoration of the saint is made because of his namesake, the holy Great Martyr Mercurius. He is also remembered on August 28, the Synaxis of the Saints of the Far Caves; and on the second Sunday of Great Lent, the Synaxis of all the monastic Fathers of the Kiev Caves.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

3rd Meeting of the Inter-Orthodox Network for Initiatives and the Study of Religions and Injurious Cults

From here.

3rd Meeting of the Inter-Orthodox Network for Initiatives and the Study of Religions and Injurious Cults

Press Bulletin

Great success was noted at the 3rd Meeting of the Inter-Orthodox Network for Initiatives and the Study of Religions and Injurious Cults, which took place between October 1-3, 2010 at the Holy Monastery of Saint George-Hadjidimovo in Nevrocopi, Bulgaria.

Many research specialists on heresies and injurious cults took part in the conference: from Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, Russia, Belarus and Serbia. The network’s third meeting had the following general topic:

“The Neo-Pentecostal Movement. Pastoral and social problems and ways of facing them.” Among other things, opening remarks were given by the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Nevrocopi Nathaniel (Bulgaria), the Most God-loving Bishop of Karpasia Christopher (Cyprus), Cypriot Member of Parliament Tasos Metsopoulos, Russian Professor Alexander Dvorkin, as well as the mayor and police chief of Nevrocopi.

From the submissions that followed, it became obvious that the teachings and proceedings of the Neo-Pentecostals have nothing in common with Orthodoxy, or more generally, with Christianity. Their beliefs are considered obscure (secret) and blasphemous (not only to the Orthodox faith but also to all Christians). Their proceedings are also wily, deceiving and harmful to the person, family, and to society at large.

The distinguished speakers provided many examples on the efforts of Neo-Pentecostals to infiltrate education, the health system, orphanages, old age homes, drug addiction treatment programs and civilian life in general of Orthodox countries. In consideration of the infiltration efforts of the Neo-Pentecostal movement in Orthodox Churches, and generally throughout the world, the members of the network recommend a) alertness, b) exposure of the harmful activities of these groups, c) help from experts on heresies and harmful cults when necessary, d) educating and informing the Orthodox flock on the harmful methods used by these groups (such as the presentation of pertinent films, exposure of their real purpose which is the collection of money and power through deceit), e) that contact be made with the victims and not with the organizations that take advantage of them, always carefully and with love, f) that the government enact new laws for the protection of the individual from brainwashing and from the crafty methods used by such secretive organizations, g) that the local Church place importance on the problem and h) that Orthodox catechism be reinforced as a defense against cultism. The Neo-Pentecostals with their falsehoods overturn the whole evangelical message and nullify salvation in Christ to their victims. The problem the activities of the Neo-Pentecostals create is not only theological and pastoral. It has dimensions and repercussions on all areas of man’s life (personal, family, social, etc.), exacting terrible damage on their victims – such as psychological, neurological and even physical damage, sometimes even leading to death.

At the conference the following pastoral findings and explanations were presented. It is observed that in our days a joint effort is being made by different factors (unfortunately even by members of the Church) to remove the clearly ecclesiological term “heresy” from our vocabulary. They do not acknowledge our pastoral right to stress the difference – through the use of this term – between Orthodox teaching and life and these Neo-Pentecostals and various other groups, even though they are highly harmful to the individuality and life of people.

We, the Orthodox shepherds and Christians, must first understand this ourselves but also make it plainly clear to all ecclesiastical, political and social bodies that our reference to heresies is not grounded in bigotry, nor does it aim at the annihilation or abolition of heretics but at the protection of the faithful members of our Church and of the social system in general.

Note: The complete proceedings of the 3rd Meeting of the network will be published soon.
From the Secretariat of the Inter-Orthodox Network for Initiatives and the Study of Religions and Injurous Cults.

Source (Greek):Pan-Cyprian Parents Union

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Repose of St Alexander Nevsky

Commemorated on November 23

The Holy Prince Alexander Nevsky was born on May 30, 1220 in the city of Pereslavl-Zalessk. His father Yaroslav II, Theodore in Baptism (+1246), "a gentle, kindly and genial prince", was the younger son of Vsevolod III Large Nest (+ 1212), brother of the Holy Prince Yuri Vsevolodovich (February 4). St Alexander's mother, Theodosia Igorevna, a Ryazan princess, was Yaroslav's third wife. Their older son was the Holy Prince Theodore (June 5), who departed to the Lord at age fifteen. St Alexander was their second son.

His childhood was spent at Pereslavl-Zalessk, where his father was prince. The princely tonsure of the lad Alexander (a ceremony of initiation to be soldier) was done in the Savior Transfiguration Cathedral of Pereslavl by St Simon, Bishop of Suzdal (May 10), one of the compilers of the Kiev Caves Paterikon (Lives of the Fathers). From this Elder-hierarch, St Alexander received his first blessing for military service in the name of God, to defend the Russian Church and the Russian Land.

In 1227 Prince Yaroslav, at the request of the people of Novgorod, was sent by his brother Yuri, the Great Prince of Vladimir, to rule as prince in Novgorod the Great. He took with him his sons, Sts Theodore and Alexander. Dissatisfied with the Vladimir princes, the people of Novgorod soon invited St Michael of Chernigov (September 20), and in February 1229 Yaroslav with his sons departed to Pereslavl. The matter ended peacefully: in 1230 Yaroslav with his sons returned to Novgorod, and St Michael's daughter Theodosia was betrothed to St Theodore, the elder brother of St Alexander. After the death of the bridegroom in 1233 the young princess went to a monastery and became famous in monastic exploits as the nun St Euphrosyne of Suzdal (September 25).

From his early years St Alexander went along on his father's campaigns. In 1235 he participated in a battle at the River Emajogi (in present-day Estonia), where the forces of Yaroslav totally routed the Germans. In the following year Yaroslav went to Kiev, "settling" his son, St Alexander, to rule independently as prince at Novgorod. In 1239 St Alexander entered into marriage, taking as wife the daughter of the Polotsian prince Briacheslav. Some histories relate that the day the princess was baptized was the Name Day of her saintly spouse, and she was named Alexandra. His father, Yaroslav, blessed them at betrothal with the holy wonderworking icon of the Theodore Mother of God (the father was named Theodore in Baptism). Afterwards, St Alexander constantly prayed before this icon. Later, it was taken from the Gorodetsk Monastery, where he died, by his brother Basil of Kostroma (+1276), and transferred to Kostroma.

A very troublesome time had begun in Russian history: from the East came the Mongol Horde destroying everything in their path; from the West came the forces of the Teutonic Knights, which blasphemously and with the blessing of the Roman Pope, called itself "Cross-bearers" by wearing the Cross of the Lord. In this terrible hour the Providence of God raised up for the salvation of Russia holy Prince Alexander, a great warrior, man of prayer, ascetic and upholder of the Land of Russia. "Without the command of God there would not have been his prince."

Abetted by the invasion of Batu, by the ruin of Russian cities, by the dismay and grief of the nation, by the destruction of its finest sons and leaders, a horde of crusaders made incursions into the borders of Russia. First were the Swedes. "A king of Roman faith from the midnight land," Sweden, in 1240 gathered a great armed force and sent them to the Neva on many ships under the command of his son-in-law, Yarl (Prince) Birger. The haughty Swede sent his messengers to Novgorod to say to St Alexander: "Fight me if you have the courage, for I am already here and I am taking your land captive."

St Alexander, then not yet twenty years old, prayed a long time in the church of St Sophia, the Wisdom of God. He recited the Psalm of David, saying: "Judge, O Lord, those who injure me, fight against those who fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and rise up to help me" (Ps. 34/35). Archbishop Spyridon blessed the holy prince and his army for the battle. Leaving the church, St Alexander exhorted his troops with words of faith: "The power of God is not in numbers, but in truth." With a smaller force, trusting in the Holy Trinity, the prince hastened towards the enemy to await help from his father, not knowing whether the enemy would attack, nor when.

But there was a miraculous omen: at dawn on July 15 the warrior Pelgui, in Baptism Philip, saw a boat, and on it were the Holy Martyrs Boris and Gleb, in royal purple attire. Boris said: "Brother Gleb, let us help our kinsman Alexander." When Pelgui reported the vision to the prince, St Alexander commanded that no one should speak about the miracle. Emboldened by this, he urged the army to fight valiantly against the Swedes.

"There was a great slaughter of the Latins, and a countless multitude was killed, and their leader was left with a mark upon his face from a sharp spear." An angel of God invisibly helped the Orthodox army: when morning came, on the opposite bank of the River Izhora, where the army of St Alexander was unable to proceed, was a multitude of the slain enemy. Because of this victory at the River Neva on July 15, 1240, the nation called the saint Alexander Nevsky.

The Teutonic Knights remained a dangerous enemy. In a lightning-quick campaign in 1241 St Alexander recaptured the ancient Russian fortress of Kopore, expelling the knights. But in 1242, the Germans succeeded capturing Pskov. The enemy boasted of "subjecting all the Slavic nation." St Alexander, setting forth in a winter campaign, liberated Pskov, that ancient home of the Holy Trinity, and in spring of the year 1242 fought a decisive battle against the Teutonic Order. On the ice of Lake Chud both armies clashed on April 5, 1242. Raising his hands towards the heavens, St Alexander prayed: "Judge me, O God, and judge my strife with a boastful nation and grant help to me, O God, as to Moses of old against Amalek, and to my great-grandfather Yaroslav the Wise against accursed Svyatopolk."

By his prayer, by the help of God, and by military might the Crusaders were completely destroyed. There was a terrible slaughter, and there was such a crashing of striking spears and swords that it seemed as though the frozen lake were in motion and not solid ice, since it was covered with blood. When they turned to flee, the enemy was pursued and slashed by Alexander's army "as if they sped through the air, and there was nowhere for the enemy to flee." Later, they led a multitude of captives behind the holy prince, marching in disgrace.

Contemporaries clearly understood the universal historical significance of the Great Battle of the Ice, and the name of St Alexander was celebrated throughout Holy Russia, "through all the lands, from the Egyptian Sea to Mount Ararat, from both sides of the Varangian Sea to Great Rome."

The western boundaries of the Russian land were safely secured, and it was time to guard Russia from the East. In 1242 St Alexander Nevsky and his father Yaroslav journeyed to the Horde. Metropolitan Cyril blessed them for this new service of many hardships: it was necessary to turn the Tatars from enemies and plunderers into honorable allies, and this required "the meekness of an angel and the wisdom of a snake."

The Lord crowned the holy mission of the defenders of the Russian land with success, but this required years of hardship and sacrifice. Prince Yaroslav passed from this life. Having made an alliance with Khan Batu, he was required, however, to travel to faraway Mongolia, to the capital of all the nomadic empire. The situation of Batu himself being precarious, he sought the support of the Russian princes, wishing to break with his own Golden Horde from faraway Mongolia. And there in turn, they trusted neither Batu nor the Russians.

Prince Yaroslav was poisoned. He died in agony, surviving the Holy Martyr Michael of Chernigov, whose relative he nearly became, by only ten days. Since his father bequeathed him an alliance with the Golden Horde, it was necessary for St Alexander Nevsky to hold fast to it in order to avert a new devastation of Russia. Sartak, the son of Batu, had accepted Christianity, and was in charge of Russian affairs with the Horde. He became his friend, and like a brother to him. Vowing his support, St Alexander allowed Batu to launch a campaign against Mongolia, to become the chief power in all the Great Steppes, and to raise up the Tatar Christian leader, Khan Munke (most of his Tatar Christians were Nestorians) on the throne in Mongolia.

Not all the Russian princes possessed the wisdom of St Alexander Nevsky. Many hoped for European help in the struggle against the Mongol Yoke. St Michael of Chernigov, Prince Daniel of Galich, and Andrew, St Alexander's brother, conducted negotiations with the Roman Pope. But St Alexander well knew the fate of Constantinople, seized and devastated by Crusaders in the year 1204. His own personal experience taught him not to trust the West. The alliance of Daniel of Galich with the Pope, giving him nothing in return, was a betrayal of Orthodoxy, a unia with Rome. St Alexander did not want this to happen to his Church.

When ambassadors of the Roman Pope appeared in 1248 to seduce him also, he wrote in answer that the Russians were faithful to the Church of Christ and to the belief of the Seven Ecumenical Councils: "These we know very well, but we do not accept your teaching." Catholicism was unsuitable for the Russian Church, and a unia signified a rejection of Orthodoxy, a rejection of the source of spiritual life, a rejection of the historical future foreordained by God, and the dooming of itself to spiritual death.

In the year 1252 many Russian cities rose up against the Tatar Yoke, supporting Andrew Yaroslavich. The situation was very risky. Again there arose a threat to the very existence of Russia. St Alexander had to journey to the Horde once more, in order to prevent a punitive Tatar incursion on the Russian lands. Defeated, Andrew fled to the Swedes seeking the help of those very robbers whom his great brother had crushed with the help of God at the Neva.

St Alexander became the ruling Great Prince of All Rus: Vladimir, Kiev and Novgorod. A great responsibility before God and history lay upon his shoulders. In 1253, he repelled a new German incursion against Pskov; in 1254 he made a treaty with Norway concerning peacetime borders; in 1256 he went on a campaign to the Finnish land. The chronicler called it "the dark campaign," because the Russian army went along through the polar night, "going to impassable places, unable to see neither day nor night". Into the darkness of paganism St Alexander brought the light of Gospel preaching and Orthodox culture. All the coastal region was enlightened and opened up by the Russians.

In 1256 Khan Batu died, and soon his son Sartak was poisoned, the one who was like a brother to Alexander Nevsky. The holy prince journeyed a third time to Sarai in order to confirm peaceful relations of Rus and the Horde with the new Khan, Berke. Although the successor to Batu had accepted Islam, he needed the alliance with Orthodox Rus. In 1261, by the diligent efforts of St Alexander and Metropolitan Cyril, a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church was established at Sarai, the capital of the Golden Horde.

There followed an epoch of great Christianization of the pagan East, and St Alexander Nevsky prophetically speculated about the historical vocation of Rus. The holy prince used every possibility to uplift his native land and the ease its allotted cross. In 1262 by his decree in many of the cities the Tatar collectors of tribute and the conscription of soldiers were stopped. They waited for a Tatar reprisal. But the great intercessor of the nation again journeyed to the Horde and he wisely directed the event into quite another channel. Having been dismissed for the uprising of the Russians, Khan Berke ceased to send tribute to Mongolia and proclaimed the Golden Horde an independent entity, making it a veritable shield for Russia from the East. In this great uniting of the Russian and Tatar lands and peoples the future multi-national Russian State was matured and strengthened. Later, within the bounds of the Russian Church, was encompassed nearly the entire legacy of Ghenghis Khan to the coasts of the Pacific Ocean.

This diplomatic journey of St Alexander Nevsky to Sarai was his fourth and last. The future of Rus was rescued, his duty before God was fulfilled. But his power was wholly devoted, and his life put to the service of the Russian Church. On the return journey from the Horde St Alexander fell deathly ill. Unable to reach Vladimir, in a monastery at Gorodets the prince-ascetic gave up his spirit to the Lord on November 14, 1263, completing his difficult earthly path by receiving the monastic schema with the name of Alexis.

Metropoltan Cyril, the spiritual Father and companion of the holy prince, said in the funeral eulogy: "Know, my child, that already the sun has set for the land of Suzdal. There will be no greater prince in the Russian land." They took his holy body to Vladimir, the journey lasted nine days, and the body remained undecayed.

On November 23, before his burial at the Nativity Monastery in Vladimir, there was manifest by God "a wondrous miracle and worthy of memory." When the body of St Alexander was placed in the crypt, the steward Sebastian and Metropolitan Cyril wanted to take his hand, in order to put in it the spiritual gramota (document of absolution). The holy prince, as though alive, reached out his hand and took the document from the hand of the Metropolitan. "Because of their terror, and they were barely able to stumble from his tomb. Who would not be astonished at this, since he was dead and the body was brought from far away in the winter time."

Thus did God glorify the saintly Soldier-Prince Alexander Nevsky. The universal Church glorification of St Alexander Nevsky took place under Metropolitan Macarius at the Moscow Cathedral in 1547. The Canon to the saint was compiled at that time by the monk Michael of Vladimir.

Troparion - Tone 4

Christ revealed you, O Blessed Alexander
As a new and glorious worker of wonders;
A man and a prince well pleasing to God
And a divine treasure of the Russian Land.
Today we assemble in faith and love
To glorify the Lord by joyously remembering you.
He granted you the grace of healing,
Therefore entreat Him to strengthen your suffering spiritual children,
And to save all Orthodox Christians.

Kontakion - Tone 8

We honor you as a most radiant, spiritual star,
Rising up from the east; going down in the west!
As you enriched the Russian people with good works and miracles,
So now enlighten us who remember you in faith, O Blessed Alexander.
Today as we celebrate your falling asleep, we ask you to beseech the Lord
That He may strengthen his suffering servants and save all Orthodox Christians!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Holy Virgin Martyr Cecilia and the Holy Martyrs Valerian, Tiburtius and Maximus at Rome

Commemorated on November 22
The Holy Virgin Martyr Cecilia and the Holy Martyrs Valerian, Tiburtius and Maximus: St Cecilia was born in Rome of wealthy and illustrious parents. From her youth she was raised in the Christian Faith. She prayed fervently, she helped those in need, and beneath her fine clothing she wore a hairshirt.

Though she had vowed to preserve her virginity for Christ, her parents decided to give her in marriage to the noble pagan Valerian. The saint did not dare oppose the will of her parents, but with tears she prayed to God that her betrothed would believe in Christ, and that He would send an angel to preserve her virginity.

On the night of their marriage, Cecilia told her husband that an angel stood by to guard her. She warned him that he would be slain if he dared to touch her. Valerian asked to see this angel, but his bride told him that he could not see the angel until he had been cleansed of the impurity of unbelief.

"How may I be cleansed?" he asked. She said that if he asked Bishop Urban for Baptism, he would be able to see the angel. The saint persuaded her fiancé to go with her to Bishop Urban, who was hiding from the persecution in a cave along the Appian Way. The instructions of the wise bishop permeated the soul of Valerian, and both he and his brother Tiburtius believed in Christ and were converted to Christianity. The brothers distributed part of their inheritance to the poor, cared for the sick, and buried Christians tortured to death by the persecutors.

The governor Almachius, having learned of this, gave orders to arrest the brothers and bring them to trial. He demanded that the saints renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, and the brothers refused. Then they mercilessly began to scourge the brothers. St Valerian under torture urged Christians not to be afraid of torments, but to stand firm for Christ.

The governor, wanting to prevent the holy preacher from influencing the people, ordered that the martyrs be taken outside the city limits and executed there. The detachment of soldiers accompanying the martyrs to execution was commanded by Maximus. He was amazed at the courage of the saints, and asked them why they did not fear death. The holy brothers answered that they were relinquishing this temporal life for life eternal. Maximus wanted to learn the teaching of Christians in detail. He took Sts Valerian and Tiburtius to his own house and conversed with them all night. When she heard of this, St Cecilia went with a priest to Maximus, and he with all his family accepted holy Baptism.

On the following day when they beheaded the Martyrs Valerian and Tiburtius, St Maximus confessed before everyone that he saw how their holy souls had gone up to Heaven. For this confession the holy Martyr Maximus was scourged to death with whips.

The governor wanted to confiscate the property of the executed, but when he was told that St Cecilia had already distributed all her remaining wealth to the poor and by her preaching had converted 400 men, he ordered her execution. For three days they tormented her with fire and smoke in a red-hot bath-house, but the grace of God helped her. Then they decided to behead her. The executioner struck the saint three times with a sword, but only wounded her. The holy Martyr lived three more days in full consciousness, encouraging those around her, and died with prayer on her lips.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Venerable Diodorus the Abbot of Yuregorsk

Commemorated on November 20
Saint Diodorus of Yuregorsk was born in the village of Turchasovo at the River Onega. His parents, Jerothei and Maria, named their son Diomid. As a fifteen-year-old youth he went on pilgrimage to the Solovki monastery, and then remained there as a novice. There he received monastic tonsure when he was nineteen under the igumen Anthony.

He lived with the hermits on desolate islands, and then he settled at Lake Vodla. He spent seven years there with his disciple Prochorus. Resolving to found a monastery in honor of the Most Holy Trinity on Mount Yurev, the monk went to Moscow, where he received approval from Tsar Michael (1613-1645) and also money for the building of the monastery from the Tsar's mother, the nun and Eldress Martha.

Somewhat before his death, St Diodorus was obliged to journey to Kargopol on monastery matters. Taking leave of the brethren, he predicted his impending death. He died on November 27, 1633 and was buried at Kargopol. After two years his incorrupt body was transferred to the Trinity monastery and buried at the south wall of the cathedral church.

The memory of St Diodorus is celebrated on November 20 because of the Feast of the Icon of the Mother of God "Of the Sign," with which his repose coincides.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Monks Barlaam the Wilderness-Dweller, Joasaph the son of the Emperor of India, and his Father Abenner

Commemorated on November 19

The Monks Barlaam the Wilderness-Dweller, Joasaph the son of the Emperor of India, and his Father Abenner:

The emperor Abenner ruled in India, which had once received the Christian Faith through the evangelization of the holy Apostle Thomas. He was an idol-worshipper and fierce persecutor of Christians. For a long time he did not have any children. Finally, a son was born to the emperor, and named Joasaph. At the birth of this son the wisest of the emperor's astrologers predicted that the emperor's son would accept the Christian Faith which was persecuted by his father. The emperor, in an effort to prevent the prediction from being fulfilled, commanded that a separate palace be built for his son. He also arranged matters so that his son should never hear a single word about Christ and His teachings.

When he was a young man, Joasaph asked his father's permission to go out the palace, and he saw such things as suffering, sickness, old age and death. This led him to ponder the vanity and absurdity of life, and to engage in some serious thinking.

At that time a wise hermit, St Barlaam, lived in a remote wilderness. Through divine revelation he learned about the youth agonizing in search of truth. Forsaking his wilderness, St Barlaam went to India disguised as a merchant. After he arrived in the city where Joasaph's palace was, he said that he had brought with him a precious stone, endowed with wondrous powers to heal sickness. Brought before Joasaph, he began to teach him the Christian Faith in the form of parables, and then from the Holy Gospel and the Epistles. From the instructions of St Barlaam the youth reasoned that the precious stone is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he believed in Him and desired to accept holy Baptism. Having made the Sign of the Cross over the youth, St Barlaam told him to fast and pray, and he went off into the wilderness.

The emperor, learning that his son had become a Christian, fell into rage and grief. On the advice of one of his counsellors, the emperor arranged for a religious debate between the Christians and the pagans, at which the magician Nakhor appeared in the guise of Barlaam. In the debate Nakhor was supposed to acknowledge himself beaten and thereby turn the imperial youth away from Christianity.

St Joasaph learned about the deception in a dream, and he threatened Nakhor with a fiercesome execution if he were beaten in the debate. Nakhor not only defeated the pagans, but he himself came to believe in Christ, and he repented and accepted holy Baptism and went off into the wilderness.

The emperor also tried to turn his son away from Christianity by other methods, but the youth conquered all the temptations. Then on the advice of his counsellors, Abenner bestowed on his son half the realm. When St Joasaph became emperor, he restored Christianity in his lands, rebuilt the churches, and finally, converted his own father Abenner to Christianity.

The emperor Abenner died soon after Baptism, and St Joasaph abdicated his throne and went off into the wilderness in search of his teacher, Elder Barlaam. For two years he wandered about through the wilderness, suffering dangers and temptations, until he found the cave of St Barlaam, laboring in silence. The Elder and the youth began to struggle together.

When St Barlaam's death approached, he served the Divine Liturgy, partook of the Holy Mysteries and communed St Joasaph, then he departed to the Lord. He lived in the wilderness for seventy of his one hundred years. After he buried the Elder, St Joasaph remained in the cave and continued his ascetic efforts. He dwelt in the wilderness for thirty-five years, and fell asleep in the Lord at the age of sixty.

Barachias, St Joasaph's successor as emperor, with the help of a certain hermit, found the incorrupt and fragrant relics of both ascetics in the cave, and he brought them back to his fatherland and buried them in a church built by the holy Emperor Joasaph.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Holy Martyrs Alphaeus, Reader of Caesarea and Zacchaeus Deacon of Caesarea in Palestine

Commemorated on November 18

The Holy Martyrs Alphaeus, Reader of Caesarea, and Zacchaeus, Deacon of Gadara, suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). The Diocletian persecution was so fierce that many did not endure, and frightened of the tortures, they agreed to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods.

St Alphaeus, a reader of the church of Caesarea, zealous for the glory of God, approached a crowd of those fallen away from Christ on their way to offer pagan sacrifice. He urged them not to defile themselves with the impious sacrifices.

They arrested St Alphaeus and after tortures and torments they shackled him together with St Zacchaeus. They threw the martyrs into prison for the night, where they prayed continually, supporting one another in their resolve to endure all the sufferings for the name of Christ and thereby gain eternal life. The next morning, the holy Martyrs Zacchaeus and Alphaeus were beheaded for confessing Christ.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Venerable Gennadius of Vatopedi, Mt Athos

Commemorated on November 17
Saint Gennadius was the steward of the Vatopedi monastery on Mt Athos in the fourteenth century, and was in charge of supplies. When the monastery's oil began to run low, he tried to be economical with what remained by using oil just for the needs of the church. The cook began to complain to the Igumen, saying that he had no oil for preparing meals. The Igumen ordered St Gennadius to place his trust in the Mother of God, and to supply the oil for all the monastery's needs.

One day, St Gennadius went to the storeroom and saw the tank overflowing with oil covering the floor as far as the door. This miracle was ascribed to the Most Holy Theotokos, and to Her Elaiovrytissa icon which stood nearby. Since that time, the icon has hung in the storeroom and has emitted an ineffable fragrance.

The Elaiovrytissa ("Flowing with oil") Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is commemorated on Bright Friday.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Apostle and Evangelist Matthew


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

"An Entire Body" film using Kyklos Greek Cafe(my little shop) for filming tomorrow November 16, 2010

Kyklos Greek Cafe is very pleased to participate in the making of the film, An Entire Body.  The crew for the film will be out on Tuesday November 16 sometime before lunch time, using Kyklos Greek Cafe for one of their scenes.

The people I have spoken with have been very kind and I look forward to Tuesday! I also look forward to seeing the film, not only because of Kyklos' invlolvement, but also I find the the storyline compelling. It promises to be a drama which is well written and the characters are well defined. I like movies like that and think that oftentimes, in many modern movies, characters do not tend to "grab me". So this is welcome indeed in a film.

Click on the link to read the synopsis as well as to see who the actors are and if you are in the neighborhood, stop on by to see the filming(and eat as well!).

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Holy Martyrs Elpidius, Marcellus and Eustochius suffered under Julian the Apostate

Commemorated on November 15

The Holy Martyrs Elpidius, Marcellus and Eustochius suffered under the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). St Elpidius was a senator. They tried him before the imperial judge on charges of being a Christian.

The martyrs endured many terrible torments, and they died after being thrown into a fire. At the place where Christians buried the relics of the saints, Christ appeared with an host of angels and resurrected Elpidius. Then the emperor gave orders to arrest the holy martyr again.

During the torture, idols standing nearby crumbled into dust through the prayer of the saint. More than six thousand pagans witnessed this miracle and were converted to Christ. St Elpidius was burned again.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Sunday, November 14, 2010

St Justinian the Emperor

Commemorated on November 14

Saint Justinian, a major figure in the history of the Byzantine state, was also a great champion of Orthodoxy, a builder of churches and a Church writer. He is said to be of Slavic descent, perhaps born in Bulgaria. During his reign (527-565) Byzantium won glory with military victories in Persia, Africa, Italy, as a result of which paganism was decisively routed among the Germanic Vandals and Visigoth tribes. By command of the emperor Justinian the pagan schools in Athens were closed. Justinian sent John, the Bishop of Ephesus, throughout the regions of Asia Minor with the aim of spreading Christianity. John baptized more than 70 thousand pagans.

The emperor gave orders to build ninety churches for the newly-converted, and he generously supported church construction within the Empire. His finest structures of the time are considered to be the monastery at Sinai, and the church of Hagia Sophia at Constantinople. Under St Justinian many churches were built dedicated to our Most Holy Lady Theotokos. Since he had received a broad education, St Justinian assiduously concerned himself with the education of clergy and monks, ordering them to be instructed in rhetoric, philosophy and theology.

The right-believing sovereign devoted much attention and effort to the struggle with the Origenists of his time, who then were reviving the Nestorian heresy. To counter their heretical speculations, the Church hymn "Only-Begotten Son and Immortal Word of God, Who for our salvation..." was composed, and Justinian commanded that it be sung in the churches. From that time to the present day, this hymn is sung at the Divine Liturgy before the Small Entrance after the second Antiphon.

At the command of the sovereign, the Fifth Ecumenical Council was convened in the year 553, censuring the teachings of Origen and affirming the definitions of the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon. He also attempted to secure religious unity within the Empire through his (unsuccessful) dialogues with the non-Chalcedonians.

The holy Emperor Justinian wished to have orderly rule and law within the realm. Under his guidance and supervision a complete compendium of Roman law was compiled. It has come down to us as a law codex known as "the Justinian Codex." The "Church laws" of Justinian are included in all the variants of the Russian collections of Canon Law.

In his personal life, St Justinian was strictly pious, and he fasted often. During Great Lent he would not eat bread nor drink wine. He is also remembered for promoting the idea of "symphony" between church and state. The holy Emperor Justinian died in the year 565.

The Empress Theodora, who died in the year 548, was also numbered among the saints with her husband. She was at first a notorious harlot and actress, and an adherent of the Monophysite heresy, but then she repented. After becoming empress, she led a virtuous life, maintaining purity of both soul and body. She provided wise counsel for her husband during his reign, and she also saved his throne during the Nika riots of 532 by her political intelligence and expertise.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Martyr Antoninus of Cæsarea in Palestine

Commemorated on November 13

Saint Antoninus was beheaded with Sts Nicephorus and Germanus in Caesarea of Palestine during the reign of Maximian by the ruler Firmilian.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Friday, November 12, 2010

Venerable Nilus the Myrrhgusher of Mt Athos

Commemorated on November 12

Saint Nilus the Myrrh-Gusher of Mt Athos was born in Greece, in a village named for St Peter, in the Zakoneia diocese. He was raised by his uncle, the hieromonk Macarius. Having attained the age of maturity, he received monastic tonsure and was found worthy of ordination to hierodeacon, and then to hieromonk.

The desire for greater monastic struggles brought uncle and nephew to Mt Athos, where Macarius and Nilus lived in asceticism at a place called the Holy Rocks. Upon the repose of St Macarius, the venerable Nilus, aflame with zeal for even more intense spiritual efforts, found an isolated place almost inaccessible for any living thing. Upon his departure to the Lord in 1651, St Nilus was glorified by an abundant flow of curative myrrh, for which Christians journeyed from the most distant lands of the East.

St Nilus has left a remarkably accurate prophecy concerning the state of the Church in the mid-twentieth century, and a description of the people of that time. Among the inventions he predicted are the telephone, airplane, and submarine. He also warned that people's minds would be clouded by carnal passions, "and dishonor and lawlessness will grow stronger." Men would not be distinguishable from women because of their "shamelessness of dress and style of hair." St Nilus lamented that Christian pastors, bishops and priests, would become vain men, and that the morals and traditions of the Church would change. Few pious and God-fearing pastors would remain, and many people would stray from the right path because no one would instruct them.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Venerable Theodore the Confessor the Abbot of the Studion

Commemorated on November 11

Saint Theodore the Confessor, Abbot of the Studion was born in the year 758 at Constantinople into a family of the imperial tax-collector Photinus and his spouse Theoctiste, both pious Christians. St Theodore received a good education from the best rhetoricians, philosophers and theologians in the capital city.

During this time the Iconoclast heresy had become widespread in the Byzantine Empire, and it was supported also by the impious emperor Constantine Kopronymos (741-775). The views of the emperor and his court conflicted with the religious beliefs of Photinus, who was a fervent adherent of Orthodoxy, and so he left government service. Later, St Theodore's parents, by mutual consent, gave away their substance to the poor, took their leave of each other and accepted monastic tonsure. Their son Theodore soon became widely known in the capital for his participation of the numerous disputes concerning icon-veneration.

St Theodore was accomplished in oratory, and had a command of the terminology and logic of the philosophers, so he frequently debated with the heretics. His knowledge of Holy Scripture and Christian dogma was so profound that no one could get the better of him.

The Seventh Ecumenical Council put an end to dissension and brought peace to the Church under the empress Irene. The Ecumenical Council, as the highest authority in the life of the Church, forever condemned and rejected Iconoclasm.

Among the Fathers of the Council was St Platon (April 5), an uncle of St Theodore, and who for a long time had lived the ascetic life on Mount Olympos. An Elder filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, St Platon, at the conclusion of the Council, summoned his nephew Theodore and his brothers Joseph and Euthymius to the monastic life in the wilderness.

After leaving Constantinople, they went to Sakkoudion, not far from Olympos. The solitude and the beauty of the place, and its difficulty of access, met with the approval of the Elder and his nephews, and they decided to remain here. The brothers built a church dedicated to St John the Theologian, and gradually the number of monks began to increase. A monastery was formed, and St Platon was the igumen.

St Theodore's life was truly ascetic. He toiled at heavy and dirty work. He strictly kept the fasts, and each day he confessed to his spiritual Father, the Elder Platon, revealing to him all his deeds and thoughts, carefully fulfilling all his counsels and instructions.

Theodore made time for daily spiritual reflection, baring his soul to God. Untroubled by any earthly concern, he offered Him mystic worship. St Theodore unfailingly read the Holy Scripture and works of the holy Fathers, especially the works of St Basil the Great, which were like food for his soul.

After several years of monastic life, St Theodore was ordained a priest according to the will of his spiritual Father. When St Platon went to his rest, the brethren unanimously chose St Theodore as Igumen of the monastery. Unable to oppose the wish of his confessor, St Theodore accepted the choice of the brethren, but imposed upon himself still greater deeds of asceticism. He taught the others by the example of his own virtuous life and also by fervent fatherly instruction.

When the emperor transgressed against the Church's canons, the events of outside life disturbed the tranquility in the monastic cells. St Theodore bravely distributed a letter to the other monasteries, in which he declared the emperor Constantine VI (780-797) excommunicated from the Church by his own actions for abusing the divine regulations concerning Christian marriage.

St Theodore and ten of his co-ascetics were sent into exile to the city of Thessalonica. But there also the accusing voice of the monk continued to speak out. Upon her return to the throne in 796, St Irene freed St Theodore and made him igumen of the Studion monastery (dedicated to St John the Baptist) in Constantinople, in which there were only twelve monks. The saint soon restored and enlarged the monastery, attracting about 1,000 monks who wished to have him as their spiritual guide.

St Theodore composed a Rule of monastic life, called the "Studite Rule" to govern the monastery. St Theodore also wrote many letters against the Iconoclasts. For his dogmatic works, and also for his Canons and Three-Ode Canons, St Theoctistus called St Theodore "a fiery teacher of the Church."

When Nicephorus seized the imperial throne, deposing the pious Empress Irene, he also violated Church regulations by restoring to the Church a previously excommunicated priest on his own authority. St Theodore again denounced the emperor. After torture, the monk was sent into exile once again, where he spent more than two years.

St Theodore was freed by the gentle and pious emperor Michael, who succeeded to the throne upon the death of Nicephoros and his son Staurikios in a war against barbarians. Their death had been predicted by St Theodore for a long while. In order to avert civil war, the emperor Michael abdicated the throne in favor of his military commander Leo the Armenian.

The new emperor proved to be an iconoclast. The hierarchs and teachers of the Church attempted to reason with the impious emperor, but in vain. Leo prohibited the veneration of holy icons and desecrated them. Grieved by such iniquity, St Theodore and the brethren made a religious procession around the monastery with icons raised high, singing of the troparion to the icon of the Savior Not-Made-by-Hands (August 16). The emperor angrily threatened the saint with death, but he continued to encourage believers in Orthodoxy. Then the emperor sentenced St Theodore and his disciple Nicholas to exile, at first in Illyria at the fortress of Metopa, and later in Anatolia at Bonias. But even from prison the confessor continued his struggle against heresy.

Tormented by the executioners which the emperor sent to Bonias, deprived almost of food and drink, covered over with sores and barely alive, Theodore and Nicholas endured everything with prayer and thanksgiving to God. At Smyrna, where they sent the martyrs from Bonias, St Theodore healed a military commander from a terrible illness. The man was a nephew of the emperor and of one mind with him. St Theodore told him to repent of his wicked deeds of Iconoclasm, and to embrace Orthodoxy. But the fellow later relapsed into heresy, and then died a horrible death.

Leo the Armenian was murdered by his own soldiers, and was replaced by the equally impious though tolerant emperor Michael II Traulos (the Stammerer). The new emperor freed all the Orthodox Fathers and confessors from prison, but he prohibited icon-veneration in the capital.

St Theodore did not want to return to Constantinople and so decided to settle in Bithynia on the promontory of Akrita, near the church of the holy Martyr Tryphon. In spite of serious illness, St Theodore celebrated Divine Liturgy daily and instructed the brethren. Foreseeing his end, the saint summoned the brethren and bade them to preserve Orthodoxy, to venerate the holy icons and observe the monastic rule. Then he ordered the brethren to take candles and sing the Canon for the Departure of the Soul From the Body. Just before singing the words "I will never forget Thy statutes, for by them have I lived," St Theodore fell asleep in the Lord, in the year 826. At the same hour St Hilarion of Dalmatia (June 6) saw a vision of a heavenly light during the singing and the voice was heard, "This is the soul of St Theodore, who suffered even unto blood for the holy icons, which now departs unto the Lord."

St Theodore worked many miracles during his life and after his death. Those invoking his name have been delivered from fires, and from the attacks of wild beasts, they have received healing, thanks to God and to St Theodore the Studite. On January 26 we celebrate the transfer of the relics of Theodore the Studite from Cherson to Constantinople in the year 845.

Those with stomach ailments entreat the help of St Theodore.

Troparion - Tone 8

O champion of Orthodoxy, teacher of purity and of true worship,
The enlightener of the universe and the adornment of the hierarchs:
O all-wise Father Theodore, your teachings have gleamed with light upon all things.
Intercede before Christ our God to save our souls!

Kontakion - Tone 2

You girded yourself with every ascetic practice
To protect your angelic life,
With the grace of God you conquered,
Becoming like the angels.
Never cease to intercede with them, O Theodore, before Christ our God,
That He may have mercy on us all!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):