Thursday, June 30, 2011

Apostle Philip of the Seventy

Commemorated on June 30

The Synaxis of the Glorious and All-Praiseworthy Twelve Apostles of Christ appears to be an ancient Feast. The Church honors each of the Twelve Apostles on separate dates during the year, and has established a general commemoration for all of them on the day after the commemoration of the Glorious and First-Ranked among the Apostles Peter and Paul.

The holy, glorious, all-laudable Apostle Philip is also commemorated on November 14.

For lists of the Apostles' names, see: Mt.10:2, Mark 3:14, Luke 6:12, Acts 1:13, 26.

Troparion - Tone 4

First-enthroned of the apostles,
teachers of the universe:
Entreat the Master of all
to grant peace to the world,
and to our souls great mercy!

Kontakion - Tone 2

Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honor
The rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles,
Together with Paul and the company of the twelve,
Whose memory we celebrate with eagerness of faith,
Giving glory to the one who gave glory to them!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Holy Glorious and All-Praised Leader of the Apostles, Paul

Commemorated on June 29

The hymns for their Feast speak of Sts Peter and Paul as the leaders (koryphaioi), and chiefs of the Apostles. They are, without a doubt, the foremost in the ranks of the Apostles.

The koryphaioi were leaders of the chorus in ancient Greek tragedy. They set the pattern for the singing, and also for the dance movements and gestures of the chorus. Before Sophocles, there were twelve members of the chorus, and Sts Peter and Paul were the leaders of the twelve Apostles.

St Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin, and lived in Tarsus in Cilicia. He once described himself as a Hebrew, an Israelite of the seed of Abraham (2 Cor. 11:22). He was also a Pharisee and a tent-maker (Acts 18:3) who had studied the Law with Gamaliel at Jerusalem.

At first, he was called Saul, and had persecuted the Church. He was present at the stoning of St Stephen (Acts 7: 58). Then, on the road to Damascus, he was converted when Christ appeared to him. Blinded by the vision, he was healed when Ananias laid his hands on him. After his cure, he was baptized (Acts 9:18).

St Paul preached the Gospel in Greece, Asia Minor, and in Rome, and wrote fourteen Epistles. Tradition says that he was martyred in Rome about the year 68.

Troparion - Tone 4

First-enthroned of the apostles,
teachers of the universe:
Entreat the Master of all
to grant peace to the world,
and to our souls great mercy!

Kontakion - Tone 2

O Lord, You have taken up to eternal rest
and to the enjoyment of Your blessings
the two divinely-inspired preachers, the leaders of the Apostles,
for You have accepted their labors and deaths as a sweet-smelling sacrifice,
for You alone know what lies in the hearts of men.

Kontakion - Tone 2

Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honor
The rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles,
Together with Paul and the company of the twelve,
Whose memory we celebrate with eagerness of faith,
Giving glory to the one who gave glory to them!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

The Spread of Christianity Through Persecutions

From here.

From Jesus Christ's Birth through the Edict of Theodosius

In order to prove the deceit of the claims of neopagans, that supposedly Christians prevailed through persecuting gentiles, we will show through numbers the way in which Christians increased and conquered the Roman Empire, despite the constant persecutions that they suffered for three continuous centuries by idolaters and their Jewish collaborators.


c. 4 BC: Birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

c. 27 AD: Beginning of Jesus Christ's public preaching.

At the time the Roman Empire was as follows: Population: 33,000,000 (50% slaves). The Jews in the empire numbered 2,300,000 (7% of the empire's population), mostly proselytes to Judaism. Palestine's population was 580,000 Jewish and 233,000 gentiles.

c. 30 AD: Crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Christ. His commandment is given: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19) .
There were approximately 4,000 believers in Christ in all of Palestine during the days of Jesus’ appearances after His resurrection.

Pentecost. After the miraculous descent of the Holy Spirit and all that they had witnessed, 3,000 Jewish proselytes from every place of the known world were baptized as Christians, and then departed taking the Christian faith to Jews in all the places from which they had come (Acts 2:41). (Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Libya, Syria, Italy etc.)

c. 34 AD: Martyrdom of the protomartyr Stephen, and persecution of the Christians of Judaea by the Jews. The persecution forces Christians to flee to other areas and to spread the Gospel. First Christians in Ethiopia from the Ethiopian eunuch, and in Samaria from Philip. Conversion of Saul to the Christian faith, who is then named Paul.

c. 35 AD: Multiplication of Christians in Judaea and Samaria (Acts 9:31). First Christians in Armenia.

36 - 40 AD: Entry of gentiles into Christian faith starting with Cornelius. Vast inflow of Roman Italian citizens from Peter in Caesarea (Acts 10:1-48). Christians in Antioch, Greece and Rome. 

42 AD: Multitudes believe in Alexandria, Phoenicia and Cyprus (Acts 11:21).

43 AD: The number of Christians in Antioch (with Paul's and Barnabas' help) are 500. They are named Christians for the first time (Acts 11:21).

44 AD: Persecution of Christians in Jerusalem by  the Jews, by king Herod Agrippa I. Beheading of James. Imprisonment and escape of Peter.

c. 50 AD: Jews and Christians are exiled from Rome. Paul preaches in Macedonia, Achaea and Asia (Acts 16:6).

52 AD: The Apostle Thomas preaches in India.

57 AD: Rome had approximately 3,000 Christians, 5 congregations. Total population of Rome: 800,000.

c. 60 AD: First Christians in Dalmatia and Illyria (Yugoslavia).

61 AD: Start of the Celtic Church.

63 AD: Mark's Martyrdom in Bokalia, near Alexandria.

64 AD: The great fire of Rome. 1st great persecution of Christians by Nero. Apostles Peter and Paul martyr together with thousands of Christians. The historian Tacitus (born around 56 AD) states that Nero, in order to remove himself from all suspicion, accused the Christians of the fire, who then “were torn by dogs and died” and “were burned by being thrown to the flames to be used as night lighting, when daylight diminished. Nero offered his gardens for this spectacle” (Chronicles, Book XV, para. 44). 

66 AD: Anti-Jewish riots and organized massacres of Jews in Egypt. 50,000 were killed in Alexandria and 60,000 elsewhere.

67 AD: Vespasian, together with 60,000 soldiers, suppresses a Jewish riot and reoccupies Galilee.

69 AD: The Jewish diaspora that has heard the Christian Gospel from Christians, are already 4,000,000.

70 AD: Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus together with 4 legions. 600,000 Jews are killed in Judaea, 10,000 Jews are crucified, 90,000 are brought to Rome as slaves. The Christians that were formerly Jewish in Jerusalem were mindful of Christ's prophesy regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and escaped before the destruction, they scattered into other areas spreading the Gospel. End of Jewish Christians. The center of Christianity for the Eastern Empire is now Antioch.

Within 30 years (only one generation) after Christ, the percentage of the world which has been Christianized is about 0.1%. 15% of the world has heard the Gospel, and the Scriptures have been translated into 5 languages.

71 AD: The Colosseum is built in Rome. A large number of Christians are thrown to beasts or martyred in other ways. 

c. 80 AD: The missionary center of the Christian faith translocates to Ephesus because on account of John the Apostle. The first Christians reach France via Italy, and Christianity spreads for the first time to Tunisia.

81 AD: The 2nd Roman imperial mass persecution by Domitian (81-86 AD).

As an excuse he used “the two-drachma tax,” which Christians were not paying since they were no longer Jewish, and initiated a cruel persecution against Christians. At that time the first bishop of Athens, Dionysius the Areopagite, became a martyr through fire, as well as Timothy the bishop of Ephesus, a student of Paul the Apostle. Pouplios would follow.

It was a short but very violent persecution. He put into effect the system of betrayal, of accusation and confiscation of property. Christians were persecuted because they refused to take part in  worshiping the emperor. Approximately 40,000 Christians were murdered throughout Rome and the whole of Italy, among whom was Flavius Clemens, the emperor's cousin, while his wife, Flavia Domitila, was exiled. John the Apostle was also exiled to Patmos, where he wrote the Apocalypse. (Haley encyclopedia p. 959,1053,1059).

c. 90 AD: First Christians in (what is today) Western Germany.

98 AD: The 3rd Roman imperial mass persecution by Trajan (98-117 AD).

The Christians were accused because they did not worship the emperor and did not sacrifice to the Roman gods. It lasted all through the emperor's reign. An apocalyptic correspondence between the emperor and Plinius regarding the persecution has been preserved. In it Plinius seems disappointed because the Christians in his region are so many, that pagan temples are deserted, and only after the persecutions sacrifices began again. 

Under those persecutions the following became martyrs: Simeon, Jesus Christ's brother and bishop of Jerusalem, who was crucified in 107 AD, as well as Ignatius, the second bishop of Antioch, who was taken to Rome, and thrown to beasts. In Philippi, Parmenas and Zosimus became martyrs along with others, and in 109-110 AD Astios, Bishop of Dyrrhachium.

100 AD: 2 generations (60 years) after Christ, the world is 0.6% Christian. 28% has heard the Gospel, and the Scriptures have been translated into 6 languages. Christianity is mainly urban. It is spread from town to town by way of city roads.

First Christians in Monaco, in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), in Saudi Arabia, in Romania (then the Roman province of Dacia), and first Christians (Latin speaking) in Algeria (then the Roman province of Mauritania).

115 AD: Martyrdom of Saint Ignatius Bishop of Antioch.

117 AD: Persecution by Hadrian (117-138 A.D.)

He persecuted Christians, though moderately. Telephoros, patron of the Church of Rome, became a martyr along with many others. In the days of this emperor, Christianity grew very strong, winning over faithful even from the higher social levels. During Hadrian's reign, the first plea by Quadratus and Aristides is put together (125-126 AD). The Christian community in Athens almost fell apart due to persecutions, but this was prevented through Quadratus' speeches and encouragement.

132 AD: Second Jewish revolt under Bar Kokhba. Second destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. Almost all of Palestine's population died or escaped.

136 AD: Hadrian refounds Jerusalem. In the place of Jerusalem's temple he erects the Temple of Zeus.

138 AD: Persecution by Antonius Pius (138-161 AD). 

This emperor, even though he did not persecute Christians in particular, was obsessed with law enforcement, many of which were impossible for Christians to comply with, and so during his reign many Christians indirectly became martyrs, among them was Polycarp, whose detailed martyrdom has been saved in the homonymous book: (Martyrdom of Polycarp). Persecutions then stop in Larissa, Thessaloniki and Athens.

c. 150 AD: First Christians in Anchialos and Delvetos along the Black Sea. First Roman Christians in Portugal.

156 AD: Death of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, by impalement.

161 AD: The 4th Roman imperial mass persecution during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD).

These were the cruelest persecutions since the time of Nero. Just like Hadrian, he also considered it a political necessity to support the empire's official religion. He relentlessly beheaded and threw to beasts many thousands of Christians, among whom was the famous first Christian writer Justin the Martyr. His atrocities were particularly witnessed in South Galatia. He subjected his victims to incredible torture. A Christian slave, Vlantina, while being tortured from the morning till late at night, did nothing else but say: “I am Christian. None of us has done anything wrong.” During those years, St. Paraskevi was tortured and beheaded. Marcus Aurelius visits Greece and there are victims from the persecutions. The persecutions are continued by his son Commodus.

174 AD: First Christians in Austria.

180 AD: Christians are now situated in all the provinces of the Roman Empire and Mesopotamia. Pantaenus forms a school for educating missionaries in Alexandria, Egypt. Nine years later, there is mention of Christians in India owing to that missionary school.

190 AD: Extensive conversions to Christianity in North Africa, in large numbers.

193 AD: The 5th Roman imperial mass persecution during the reign of Septimius Severus (193-211 AD).

During Severus' reign, a law was renewed (202 AD) which prohibited proselytes.

This persecution proved very harsh, but not general. Egypt, Galatia and North Africa suffered the most. In Alexandria they burned in fire, crucified or beheaded numerous martyrs on a daily basis, among whom were Leonides (Origen's father), Irenaeus Bishop of Lugdunum (today Lyon of France) and Saint Perpetua in Carthage, an aristocrat with her faithful servant Felicity, who were torn up by beasts. The persecution lasted from 202 to 211.

197 AD: Tertullian writes: “The blood of the martyrs has been spilt” and “Indeed there is no nation that is not Christian.”

200 AD: The world 6 generations (160 years) after Christ: The world is 3.4% Christian. 32% have heard the Gospel. Scriptures have been translated into 7 languages.

Persecutions in Egypt, with thousands of Christian martyrs.

First Christians in Switzerland (then called the Roman province of Raetia). First Christians in Sahara and Belgium.

Edessa (today Urfa) becomes the first city–state to appoint Christianity as their official national religion.

c. 205 AD: Alexandria's Clement writes: “The whole world, including Athens and Greece (has) already been designated under the supremacy of the Word.” 

c. 210 AD: First Christians in Qatar (Then a Persian province of Bet Katraye). (Primary evidence from 224 AD).

225 AD: Over 20 Assyrian Church bishoprics in the areas of Tigris and Euphrates, in the Caspian sea and Bahrain.

235 AD: The 6th Roman imperial mass persecution under Maximinus (235-238 AD).

In those persecutions, particularly Christian leaders were pursued and killed. Origen escaped having been hid.

c. 240 AD: Gregory the Wonderworker becomes bishop of Pontus, an area with a pagan majority. He initiates a mass movement towards Christianity. By the time of his death in 270 AD,  95% turned to Christ.

249 AD: The 7th Roman imperial mass persecution under the military leader Decius. Systematic national attempts to destroy Christianity (249-251 AD).

He decided to terminate Christianity. He believed Christians were the cause for the fall of the Roman Empire. During that time, they mainly arrested and tortured the clergy and bishops. The persecution extended all over the empire and was utterly violent. Entire Christian crowds were murdered using the most cruel torture in Rome, North Africa, Egypt and Asia Minor. Cyprian writes that “the whole world has been deserted.” The persecution lasted for the entirety of his reign. Among the Athenians, Heraclius, Paulinus and Benedimus are killed. In Corinth, Cyprian Paul also receives a martyr’s death.

During the persecution, countless women were put to death, as was Saint Harissa. In Athens Bishop Leonidas was hung after being tortured. They later built him a royal “Martyrdom” in Ilissos, discovered during excavations. The same thing occurred in Crete (Kyrill, 84 years old, and Theodoulos, Saturninos, Euporos, Gelasios, Eunikios, Agathopus, Zotikos, Kleomenis, Vasilidis and Euarestos) in Chios (Saint Isidoros), in Corinth (13 martyrs) and in Thessaloniki (Elkionis,  commemorated on May 28).

250 AD: More than 100 bishoprics exist in Southern Italy. First Christians in the province of then Pannonia (Hungary) and Luxembourg. A Church is founded in Kherson (Sevastopol), Crimea and Ukraine. First Christians with a bishopric in Bahrain.

251 AD: The city of Rome: 30,000 Christians among 1,000,000 idolaters (3% of its population) – 46 presbyters, 7 deacons, 42 sextons, 52 exorcists, 1,500 widows and needy people. Christians withstand and continue to grow.

252 AD: Catastrophic plague epidemic assails the people of the Mediterranean and kills 25% of the Roman Empire's total population in 20 years, while 50% of Alexandria's people die. In Carthage, Bishop Cyprian organizes medical help.

253 AD:  The 8th Roman imperial mass persecution under Valerian (253-260 AD).

Second persecution since Decius' last one. It lasted from 257-259 AD. He killed countless people, among whom was Cyprian, Carthage's bishop.

260 AD: The Christians of the Roman Empire rise to 40% and are growing rapidly.

270 AD: The first Basilicas are built (square Christian churches).

The 9h Roman imperial mass persecution under Aurelian (270-275 AD).

287 AD: Mass acceptance of the Christian faith in Armenia at the time of Gregory the Illuminator. Christianity is declared the nation's official religion.

295 AD: David Varsa hears the Gospel in India. 

300 AD: The world 9 generations after Christ: The world is 4.4% Christian and 35% have heard the Gospel. The Scriptures have been translated into 10 languages. The areas of the Roman Empire with the strongest Christian growth are: Syria, Asia Minor, Egypt, N. Africa, Rome and Lyon, with the largest numbers in the East. There is no region that has not heard of Christ. In Italy, bishoprics sum up to more than 200.

Missionary activity materializes in Georgia. First Christians in Afghanistan (then Khorasan).

303 AD: 10th and last Roman imperial mass persecution under Diocletian, spurred by Caesar Galerius. The destruction of all Church buildings and Scriptures was ordered. Approximately 500,000 Christians were executed in 9 years during systematic massacres (284-305 AD).

The worst of all persecutions, the harshest and most destructive and universal throughout the whole empire. For 9 years, the emperor's subjects persecuted Christians in forests and caves to burn them or throw them to the beasts, and to subject them to every possible torment that idolater savage could think of. In Asia Minor, it is calculated that 15,000 Christians were put to death, in Egypt 140,000 lost their lives. But Christians withstood again. Diocletian and also Galerius himself, came to the conclusion that they were unable to consume Christianity, and so in 311 AD, he himself proclaimed secularism.

Under Diocletian's reign St. Demetrius is killed, in Palestine St. George, in Egypt St. Catherine. Under Galerius an extensive massacre was committed in Corinth, where the following names have been evidenced: Myron, Victorinos, Victor, Nikiforos, Caludianos, Sarapion, Papias, Kodratos, Corinthii. And around Corinth: Cyprian, Dionysos, Anektos, Paul, Kriskis, Leonidas, Irene, Adrianos. In Nikea, the following become martyrs from Thessaloniki: Agapi, Hionia and Irene. In Thessaloniki: Matrona, Alexandre, Anysia, deacon Agathopus, reader Theodoulos, Floredios, Taurion. In Corfu, the following martyrs were burned alive: Zenon, Efsevios, Neon and Vitalios.  

c. 310 AD: Galatia is still 70% idolaters.

313 AD: Constantine the Great issues an Edict of Tolerance, that legalizes Christianity throughout the whole empire.

319 AD: Pagan sacrifices are prohibited throughout the Roman Empire.

330 AD: The world 10 generations after Christ: 12% of the total population is Christian and 36% of the world has heard the Gospel. The Scriptures have been translated into 10 languages. Translocation of the empire's capital to Constantinople.

339 AD: Heavy persecution of Christians in Persia up until 379 AD.Continuous and intense persecutions under the Sasanian leaders until 640 AD, when it was conquered by Islam.

c. 340 AD: Bishoprics in Egypt number 100.

345 AD: Persecution in Eastern Syria.

c. 350 AD: With the disintegration of the Kingdom of Meroe over the next 100 years, the three succeeding nations are officially declared Christian. The first Christians (monks from Crete) settle in Ireland. 

361 AD: Julian the Apostate attempts to revive the pagan religion for the last time in the Roman Empire.

378 AD: Hieronymos writes: “From India to Britain, all nations echo Christ's death and resurrection (Isaiam Cliv, Epistol. XIII Ad Paulinum). From the data he possessed, he estimated that 1,900,000 have become martyrs since 30 AD.

380 AD: City of Antioch: With a population of 500,000, 50% are Christian and are rapidly increasing. The Eastern emperor, Theodosius, recognizes Christianity as the nation's official religion and orders all of Rome's nationals to become Christian.

395 AD: The Roman Empire is permanently split. The western part is ruled by Rome (plundered in 410, 455 and 476) while the eastern part from Constantinople.

400 AD: The world 12 generations after Christ: 17.1% of the population is Christian, and 39% have heard the Gospel. The Scriptures have been translated into 11 languages.

It is well known that a few million Christians were buried in catacombs in close proximity to Rome for 3 centuries before this date. The Christian graves that Rome's catacombs hide are estimated to range from 2 to 7 million, and more than 4,000 inscriptions have been found that date back to the period of Tiberius up to that of Constantine (Haley Dictionary, p. 1061).

8,000 Greek Christians were buried in Milos' catacombs during the first three centuries A.D. This is proof that Christianity was widespread and accepted, as was the imperial acceptance and support of the new religion. Milos' population, during the first 100 years after Christ numbered around 20,000 souls (Romans, Greeks, Jews and slaves).

First Christians in the Roman province of Mauritania.

409 AD: Arian Visigoths invade the Iberian peninsula.

410 AD: Fall of Rome to Alaric and Visigoths.

438 AD: Theodosian Code which codifies Roman Legislation. Using intimidation, it prohibits (not practically) pagan religion.

In the above chronological events, it is obvious that Christians – through three centuries of persecutions – managed to increase in number and conquer the Roman Empire. When Theodosius started forbidding the national religion FOR POLITICAL REASONS, but also to preserve ancient works of art from fanatical pseudo-Christians, already Christians were the majority. Already, by 260 AD Christians constituted 40% of the Roman Empire, and only in the uneducated rural areas did inhabitants remain pagan, attached to idolatry. Certainly, Theodosius facilitated Christians by imposing in absolute terms his edicts, but he only accelerated what was going to occur either way. The empire's inhabitants, by their own will, and despite three centuries of suffering constant persecutions by idolater emperors, but also from pan-national actions, accepted the Gospel of salvation by Jesus Christ, and conquered the empire.

Any effort to prove Christian prevalence came through the so-called persecution of idolaters is a historically false and poor excuse. It is like the thief shouting in order to frighten the master of the house.

The data for this chronological catalog were taken for the most part from the second part of the Global Christian Encyclopedia, published by the Brotherhood of Orthodox Foreign Missions (Thessaloniki, 1990). The following encyclopedias were also used: Contemporary School Encyclopedia, Publication Piperi Sotiria, p.188. Encyclopedia Giovani, Volume 7, p.155.

Transcription N.M.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Venerable Sergius and Herman the Wonderworkers of Valaam

Saint Sergius                                                                                     Saint Herman  

Commemorated on June 28

Saints Sergius and Herman settled on the island of Valaam in 1329. The brethren gathered by them spread the light of Orthodoxy in this frontier land. The Karelian people began to regard Christianity with renewed suspicion, with its authority in the fourteenth century being undermined by the Swedes, who sought to spread Catholicism by means of the sword.

Sts Sergius and Herman died about the year 1353. They are also commemorated on September 11 (The translation of their holy relics).
Troparion - Tone 4

Fulfilling the Gospel of Christ and loving him alone,
Despising earthly cares you settled on an island.
There you fought against the invisible foe,
Subjecting you bodies to the Spirit by fasting, vigil and prayer.
Crowned with glory and now standing before the Trinity,
Pray, O Fathers Sergius and Herman,
That our souls may be saved!

Kontakion - Tone 4

You left the world to follow in Christ's footsteps,
Reaching Lake Neva and the island of Valaam.
There you lived the angelic life
And were translated to the heavenly bridal chamber.
As you stand with the angels remember the children whom you gathered,
That we may joyfully cry to you:
Rejoice, blessed Fathers Sergius and Herman!"


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Icon of the Mother of God "Neamts"

Commemorated on June 26

The Neamts Icon of the Mother of God was given as a gift by the Byzantine emperor Andronicus Paleologos to the Moldavian ruler Alexander the Voevod in 1399, and then placed into the Moldavian Neamts Ascension monastery.

One of the Moldavian princes gave a copy of the icon to a Russian landowner by the name of Chertkov. One of Chertkov's descendants presented this copy to his village church in 1846. An inscription on the icon says that this is a faithful copy of the icon sent by the Byzantine Emperor Andronicus. However, the Emperor in 1399 was Manuel II Paleologos. One of his sons was named Andronicus, and perhaps he sent the icon to Moldavia.

At this place, many ascetics of the Russian Church became saints under the holy Elder, schema-archimandrite Paisius Velichkovsky (November 15), and also through the guidance of the Mother of God.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Venerable Nikon of Optina

Commemorated on June 25

Saint Nikon was born on September 26, 1888, the son of Metrophanes and Vera Belyaev, and was named Nicholas at his Baptism. His parents, who were both very devout, belonged to one of Moscow's merchant families.

The Belyaev family received a visit from St John of Kronstadt when Nicholas was in his first year. He blessed Vera and gave her a signed photograph of himself.

Both Nicholas and his brother John loved going to church and reading the Holy Scriptures and other spiritual books. When John and Nicholas decided to embrace monasticism, they cut up a list of Russia's monasteries from an old book, and Nicholas was asked to pick one of the strips after praying to God. The strip he selected read, "The Optina Hermitage of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, Kozelsk." Until that moment, neither of them had ever heard of this monastery.

The brothers traveled to Optina on February 24, 1907 with their mother's blessing, and were accepted into the monastery on December 9, the commemoration of the "Unexpected Joy" Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Nicholas was assigned as secretary to Fr Barsanuphius, the Superior of the Skete, in October 1908. Except for reading and serving in church, this became his chief monastic obedience for the rest of his life. St Barsanuphius (April 1) foresaw that he would become an excellent monk as well as a worthy disciple. Nicholas was devoted to the Elder, and followed his will in all matters. Fr Barsanuphius gave him the benefit of his knowledge and experience, guiding him to ascend the spiritual ladder of virtues.

Nicholas was tonsured into the Lesser Schema on May 24, 1915 with the new name Nikon in honor of the martyr St Nikon (September 28). He was ordained as a deacon on April 30, 1916, and as a priest on November 3, 1917. Fr Nikon could not help but remember the prophecy of Fr Barsanuphius made several years before the Russian Revolution. St Barsanuphius foresaw times of difficulty for monasteries when Christians would be persecuted and suffer martyrdom. He predicted that he himself would be dead before this happened, and that Fr Nikon would live through those terrible times.

Fr Nikon was arrested and jailed on September 18, 1919 without the benefit of a trial, just because he was a monk. He was later released and permitted to return to Optina, where the monks had formed a farming cooperative.

The Soviets closed the cooperative in 1923, and the monastery was turned into a museum. Two monks were allowed to stay and work in the museum, while the others were expelled and told to go wherever they wished. Fr Nikon was blessed by Fr Isaac to serve in the church dedicated to the Kazan Icon and to receive visitors. When people came to him for advice, he always quoted the words of the Optina Elders.

The last church at Optina was closed early in 1924, and Fr Nikon was obliged to leave in June. He went to live at Kozelsk with Father Cyril Zlenko. There he continued to receive visitors and offer spiritual counsel, sharing money and food with those who were too old, or too sick to work. Fr Nikon was a wise spiritual Father, who was able to help people overcome their shame and reveal the sins which had troubled them for a long time. People would leave Fr Nikon feeling cleansed and renewed.

Fr Nikon, Fr Cyril, and Fr Agapitus Taub were arrested and thrown into prison in June of 1927. Fr Nikon and Fr Agapitus were sent to the "Kemperpunkt" camp, where Fr Nikon was assigned the duty of guarding the storehouses.

St Nikon wrote to his spiritual children from the camp with cheerful words of encouragement. Although he accepted his imprisonment as God's will, it was nevertheless difficult for him to endure. When their prison term ended, the two monks were sent into exile at Archangelsk. Before leaving the camp, Fr Nikon was examined and found to have tuberculosis. The doctors advised him to request that his place of exile be changed to a place with a more suitable climate.

He asked the advice of Fr Agapitus, who told him not to make such a request. At Archangels, Fr Nikon lodged in the home of an elderly woman who gave him little rest or peace. Every week he had to travel three kilometers to present himself before the authorities in the city of Pinyega.

While shoveling snow at the beginning of Great Lent, Fr Nikon's leg began to hemorrhage, and he developed a high fever. His landlady did not feel any pity for him, but told him that he must leave her house so that the others would not become infected with tuberculosis.

Soon, Fr Nikon was visited by Fr Peter, who had once lived at Optina. He begged Fr Peter to take him in, which he did. Fr Peter cared for the Elder to the best of his ability. For the last two months of his life, Fr Nikon received Holy Communion almost every day, and his sufferings seemed to grow less severe. He often dictated letters to his spiritual children to Fr Peter. One day, Fr Nikon saw St Macarius of Optina (September 7) in a vision and told Sister Irene to pull up a chair for him. She was slow to obey him so he said, "Forgive her, Father, for she is not very experienced."

On June 25, 1931 Fr Nikon was so weak that he could not speak. Archimandrite Nikita was called to bring him Communion, and to read the Canon for the Departure of the Soul. That night the Elder fell asleep in the Lord at the age of forty-three.

The Moscow Patriarchate authorized local veneration of the Optina Elders on June 13,1996, glorifying them for universal veneration on August 7, 2000.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Holy Martyrs Eustochius, Gaius, Probius, Lollia and Urban of Ancyra

 Commemorated on June 23

The Holy Martyrs Gaius, Eustochius, Probius, Lollia and Urban suffered for Christ during the time of a persecution under the emperor Maximian (286-310).

St Eustochius was a pagan priest, but seeing the unyielding courage of the Christian martyrs, and the miracles worked by them, he converted to Christ. He went to Bishop Eudoxius of Antioch, was baptized by him, and was ordained to the priesthood. In the city of Lystra St Eustochius converted his nephew Gaius and all his household, among which included the children Probus, Lollias and Urban. Soldiers of the emperor arrested St Eustochius and took him for trial, but tortures could not turn Eustochius from his faith. They then sent the saint to the governor Agrippinus in the Galatian city of Ancyra. The newly-converted Gaius was also sent with him with his household. All of them, even the women and children, underwent fierce torture, but the martyrs did not deny Christ and so were beheaded.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

St Alban the Protomartyr of Britain

Commemorated on June 22

Saint Alban (or Albanus), the protomartyr of Britain, was a Roman citizen who lived at Verulamium (modern St Albans), a few miles northwest of London, during a time of persecution. Nothing is known about his family or his occupation.

The chief magistrate of the city had orders to arrest all Christian clergy. One of them, a priest named Amphibalus, fled to Alban's home in order to hide from the soldiers who wished to kill him. Alban was impressed by the priest's constant prayer and vigil, and so he questioned Amphibalus about his beliefs. As a result, Alban came to believe in Christ and asked to be baptized.

Eventually, Amphibalus was forced to move on, and Alban changed clothes with him so that he could get away. The soldiers heard there was a priest hiding in Alban's house, so they came to search it. Seeing Alban dressed in the priest's clothes, they arrested him and brought him before the judge.

The magistrate was offering sacrifice to idols when St Alban appeared before him. After questioning him, he discovered how Alban and the priest had switched clothes. Furious because Alban had allowed a fugitive to escape, the magistrate threatened him with death unless he returned to paganism and revealed where Amphibalus had gone. St Alban replied, "I am also a Christian, and I worship the true God."

After having the saint beaten and tortured, the magistrate threatened him with execution. St Alban rejoiced and glorified God. The magistrate ordered the soldiers to take St Alban to the Holmhurst Hill to be beheaded. When they came to the river Ver, they saw that the bridge was crowded with people who had come to witness Alban's martyrdom. Since they could not proceed because of the multitude of people, St Alban prayed and made the Sign of the Cross over the river. At once, the waters parted so that they were able to cross over to the other side.

The executioner was so astonished by the miracle that he threw down his sword and refused to behead the saint. He was arrested, and another man was found to behead them both. There is a tradition that St Alban became thirsty while climbing the hill and asked for water. A small spring gushed forth near the top of the hill, and he was able to drink from it. Pilgrims used to come and drink from St Alban's well, but it is now dry.

The date of St Alban's martyrdom is uncertain, but it is believed that it took place during the reign of Decius (ca. 251) or Valerian (ca. 257). The eighteenth century Turin manuscript (which may be based on a fifth century source) suggests that St Alban may have been executed as early as 209, when the emperor Septimus Severus and his two sons were in Britain. The name of the executioner who was converted has not been preserved. The priest Amphibalus was ultimately caught and put to death at a place called Redbourn, four miles from Verulamium.

When people began to cry out against the magistrate, he put an end to the persecution. In later years a cathedral was built on the site of the martyrdom, and the relics of St Alban, the priest Amphibalus, and perhaps even the executioner were enshrined within. St Bede (May 27) tells us that miracles frequently took place at St Alban's tomb. When the Danes invaded England in 860, the relics were removed for safekeeping, then later returned.

A new chapel and shrine were built for the relics in the early fourteenth century. Two hundred years later, during the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, the marble shrine was destroyed. Much later, the fragments of the shrine were reassembled on its former site. What happened to the relics is uncertain, but it is probable that they were either destroyed or buried in an unmarked spot.

Although St Alban is sometimes depicted in military garb, there is no evidence that he was a soldier. After all, he was living in a private home when he was arrested, and not in a barracks. There is a medieval painting in the south aisle beside the Choir in the Abbey which depicts St Alban with red hair. A medieval seal, now in the Durham Cathedral Chapter Library, shows him with a thick beard. He is stocky, with a high, round and balding forehead, and a cloak covers his left side and right shoulder.

Troparion - Tone 4

In his struggle your holy martyr Alban,
Gained the crown of life, O Christ our God.
For strengthened by you and in purity of heart,
He spoke boldly before the judges of this world,
Offering up his head to you, the Judge of all!

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Martyr Archil II the King of Georgia

Commemorated on June 21

The Holy Martyr Archil II, King of Georgia belonged to the dynasty of the Chosroidoi, and he was a direct descendant of the holy emperor St Mirian (+ 342).

During the reign of Archil II, Georgia was subjected to a devastating invasion by Murvana-Kru ("the Wild"), so called by the Georgian people for his inexorable cruelty. The position of the Georgian people was desperate, and the emperor Archil II, together with his brother Myro, the ruler of Western Georgia, tearfully implored the intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos, and She showed forth Her mercy.

At a battle by the Rivers Abasha and Tskhenis-Tskhali the Georgian forces miraculously gained the victory over the significantly superior forces of Murvana-Kru.

After this victory the emperor Archil II was occupied with the restoration of the Georgian kingdom. He rebuilt the city of Nukhpatis, rebuilt ruined churches in Mtskheta and furthered the acceptance of Christianity by many of the mountain tribes. But soon Georgia suffered a new Arab invasion with the sudden appearance of Dzhidzhum-Asim (Jijum-Asim). Having paid a tribute to the Arabs, the emperor did not expect this invasion. In order to deliver the land from new devastation and avert the intrusion of Islam upon it, he deemed it beneficial to go himself to Dzhizhum-Asim, and subject formerly independent Georgia to the Arabs, and ask for peace. Placing all his hope on the mercy of God and ready to offer up his soul for his holy Faith and for his nation, St Archil went to the camp of the Arabs. Dzhidzhum-Asim received him hospitably and promised his suzerainty, but insisted on acceptance of Mohammedanism. As the "Georgian Chronicle" relates, the holy emperor Archil calmly said, "It will not be, that I should forsake Christ, the True God, Who for our salvation took upon Himself human flesh. I know, if I obey you, then I shall die a spiritual death and shall suffer eternally. If for my firmness you put me to death, I shall then rise as did my Lord, and I shall go to Him".

Hearing these words, Dzhidzhum-Asim gave orders to seize the confessor and take him off to prison. But neither tortures nor promises could make the eighty-year-old emperor Archil apostasize.

On March 20, 744 the holy emperor Archil was beheaded. The body of the martyr was secretly taken by Georgian Christians to the locale Ertso and buried in Kakhetia, in the Notkor church built by the holy emperor himself.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Monday, June 20, 2011

St Callistus the Patriarch of Constantinople

Commemorated on June 20

Saint Callistus I, Patriarch of Constantinople, at first struggled on Athos under the spiritual guidance of St Gregory of Sinai (August 8), whose Life he wrote. In 1350, he was elected as Patriarch of Constantinople, serving in that position during the reign of the emperors John Kantakuzenos (1341-1355) and John Paleologos (1341-1376).

In 1354, he withdrew to live in silence at the monastery he had built in honor of St Mamas at Tenedos. Later, he was elevated to the Patriarchal throne once again (1355-1363). The holy Patriarch Callistus reposed in the year 1363 in Serbia, where he had travelled with an embassy of Emperor John Paleologos. St Callistus is also known as a spiritual writer, and his edifying works appear in the PHILOKALIA with the writings of his close friend Ignatius of Xanthopoulos.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Repose of St Job the Patriarch of Moscow, and All Russia

Commemorated on June 19

Saint Job, the first Patriarch of Moscow, was born into the family of pious tradesmen in Staritsa near Tver in the 1530s. His baptismal name was John.

After his death in 1607, the relics of Patriarch Job were buried by the western doors of the Dormition Church of the monastery in Staritsa. Many miracles took place at his grave.

In 1652, on the recommendation of Metropolitan Nikon of Novgorod, Tsar Alexei ordered that the relics of St Job and St Philip (January 9) be transferred to Moscow.

Metropolitan Barlaam of Rostov presided at the uncovering of St Job's relics in Staritsa. The Patriarch's incorrupt and fragrant relics became the source of healing for many who were afflicted by physical and mental illnesses.

On March 27 a procession set off for Moscow with the relics. On Monday of the sixth week of Lent (April 5), the relics of Patriarch Job were brought to the Passions Monastery. From there, the procession proceeded to the Kremlin, and the relics of the saint were placed in the Dormition cathedral. A few days later, Patriarch Joseph died and was buried next to St Job.

St Job has long been revered as a worker of miracles. The Altar Crosses in the churches of the Staritsa monastery and the Tver cathedral contained particles of his holy relics.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Saturday, June 18, 2011

1st Saturday after Pentecost

June 18

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, Who hast shown forth the fishermen as supremely wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit, and through them didst draw the world into Thy net. O Befriender of man, glory be to Thee.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Once, when He descended and confounded the tongues, the Most High divided the nations; and when He divided the tongues of fire, He called all men into unity; and with one accord we glorify the Allholly Spirit


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Friday, June 17, 2011

St Shalva of Akhaltsikhe

Commemorated on June 17

Saint Shalva of Akhaltsikhe was a brilliant military commander in the army of Queen Tamar and the prince of Akhaltsikhe. After his victory at Shamkori in the Ganja region, Shalva carried with him the flag of the caliph, as a sign of the invincibility of the Christian Faith, and conferred it, along with the wealth he had won, as an offering to the Khakhuli Icon of the Theotokos. For his selfless service, Queen Tamar honored him with the rank of commander-in-chief of the Georgian army.

During the reign of Queen Tamar’s daughter Rusudan (1222–1245), the armies of Sultan Jalal al-Din stormed into Georgia. Rusudan rallied the Georgian forces and appointed a new commander-in-chief by the name of John Atabeg.

Six thousand Georgians confronted a Muslim army of two hundred thousand near the village of Garnisi. Command of the advance guard was entrusted to the brave and valorous brothers Shalva and John of Akhaltsikhe, while John Atabeg remained with the main body of the army for the decisive battle.

The advance guard fought fearlessly, though the enemy’s army greatly surpassed it in number. The brothers fought with great devotion, hoping for support from the commander-in-chief, but John Atabeg was seized with envy—rather than fear—and never offered them his help. “O envy, source of every evil!” wrote one chronicler of the incident.

The enemy devastated the Georgian army, killing four thousand of its most valiant soldiers. Among them was John of Akhaltsikhe, whose brother Shalva was captured and delivered as a slave to Jalal al-Din.

Jalal al-Din was overjoyed to have the famed soldier and military leader brought before him. He received him with proper honor, offered him cities of great wealth, and promised him more if he agreed to convert to Islam.

Jalal al-Din sought with great persistence to convert Shalva to Islam, but his efforts were in vain—Shalva would not be converted, and nothing in the world would change his mind. So the sultan ordered that he be tortured to death.

After hours of torment failed to kill him, Jalal al-Din’s servants cast the half-dead martyr in prison, where he later reposed.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):