Sunday, July 31, 2011

Righteous Eudocimus of Cappadocia

Commemorated on July 31

Saint Eudocimus, a native of Cappadocia (Asia Minor), lived during the ninth century during the reign of Emperor Theophilus (829-842). He was the son of the pious Christians Basil and Eudokia, an illustrious family known to the emperor. They raised their son "in discipline and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6: 4), planting in his soul a sincere faith and holy virtues.

The righteous life of St Eudocimus was devoted to pleasing God and serving his neighbor. Having given a vow to remain unmarried and chaste, he avoided conversation with women and did not look at them. He would speak only with his own mother, whom he greatly respected. The emperor valued his virtue and talents, so he appointed St Eudocimus as governor of Chorziane, Armenia. Fulfilling his duty as a servant of God, St Eudocimus governed the people justly and with kindness. He concerned himself with the unfortunate, and with orphans and widows, and he was a defender of the common people. His personal Christian exploits which he did in secret, were known only to God.

Eudocimus pleased God by his blameless life, and the Lord called him at age 33. Lying on his deathbed, St Eudocimus gave final instructions to place him in the grave in those clothes in which he would meet death. Then he sent everyone out of the room and entreated the Lord that no one would see his end, just as no one saw his secret efforts during life. His attendants buried him as he had instructed them. Right after the death of St Eudocimus miracles took place at his grave. Many sick people were healed, and the news of the miraculous healings spread.

After 18 months, the mother of St Eudocimus came from Constantinople to venerate his relics. She gave orders to remove the stone, dig up the ground, and open the grave. Everyone beheld the face of the saint, bright as if alive, altogether untouched by decay. A great fragrance came from him. They took up the coffin with the relics from the earth, and they dressed the saint in new clothes. His mother wanted to take the relics of her son to Constantinople, but the Kharsian people would not clear a path for their holy one. After a certain time the hieromonk Joseph, having lived and served at the grave of the saint, transported the relics of St Eudocimus to Constantinople. There they were placed in a silver reliquary in the church of the Most Holy Theotokos, built by the parents of the saint.

St Eudocimus is considered by the Russian Church to be one of the special protectors and intercessors before God of the family hearth. He was, as his name implies, truly successful in every virtue.


He who called you from earth to heaven, keeps your body unharmed after death, holy Eudocimus; for you lived a sober and holy life and did not defile your flesh; so with boldness intercede with Christ that we may be saved.


Today your honored memory has assembled us at the holy shrine of your sacred relics; all then who approach and venerate them are rescued from the evil malice of demons and are swiftly delivered from various diseases, blessed Eudocimus.


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

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Martyr John the Soldier at Constantinople

Commemorated on July 30

The Holy Martyr John the Warrior served in the imperial army of the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). He was sent with other soldiers to seek out and kill Christians.While appearing to be a persecutor, St John rendered great help to the Christians. He freed those who had been arrested, warned others of dangers threatening them, and assisted in their flight. St John showed charity not only to Christians, but to all the destitute and those needing help. He visited with the sick, and he consoled the grieving. When Julian the Apostate learned about the actions of the saint, he ordered him locked up in prison.

In the year 363 Julian the Apostate was killed in his war with the Persians. St John was set free and devoted his life to service of neighbor, and he lived in holiness and purity. He died in his old age.

The precise year of his death is unknown, and the place of burial of St John the Warrior was gradually forgotten. Then he appeared to a certain devout woman and indicated the location of his tomb. This became known throughout the region. His uncovered relics were placed in a church of the Apostle John the Theologian in Constantinople. The Lord granted the relics of St John the Warrior the power of healing. Through the prayers of St John, the aggrieved and sorrowing received comfort.

In the Russian Church, St John the Warrior is revered as a great intercessor in sorrows and difficult circumstances. We also pray to him for the recovery of stolen articles.


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

Friday, July 29, 2011

Martyr Eustathius of Mtskheta in Georgia

Commemorated on July 29

Saint Eustathius, a Persian by descent, was a fire-worshipper named Gvirobandak prior to his baptism into the Christian Faith. When he arrived in Georgia and settled in Mtskheta, he was deeply drawn to the morals and traditions of the Georgian people, and he resolved to convert to Christianity.

His decision entailed a great risk, as the Persians dominated eastern Georgia, persecuting Christians and forcing all to worship fire, as they did. Catholicos Samoel himself baptized Gvirobandak and called him Eustathius. The new convert soon married a Georgian woman and was fully assimilated into Georgian society and the life of the Church.

Once the Persians who were occupying Mtskheta invited Eustathius to a celebration, but he declined, saying, “I am stamped with the seal of Christ and far removed from every darkness!”

After the celebration the fire-worshippers reported Eustathius to Ustam, the chief of the Mtskheta Fortress. The chief summoned Eustathius and threatened him, saying, “You will not remain a Christian without punishment. If you do not voluntarily turn back from this way of misfortune, severe tortures will await you!”

St. Eustathius calmly answered him, saying, “For the sake of Christ I am prepared to endure not only torture but even death itself with rejoicing!”

Since he himself did not have the authority to punish Eustathius, Ustam sent the accused to the marzban Arvand Gushnasp. Then the informers appeared again before Ustam and reported that seven more fire-worshippers had converted to Christianity. All eight of them were bound in chains and escorted to Tbilisi.

The furious marzban ordered his servants to shave the captives’ heads and beards, bore holes in their noses, hang weights round their necks, fetter their bodies in chains and cast them into prison.

Anyone who denied Christ was to be pardoned. Two of the victims, Bakhdiad and Panagushnasp, could not bear the suffering and denied Christ. The marzban freed them, while the six holy men—Gushnaki, Eustathius, Borzo, Perozak, Zarmil and Steven—remained in confinement.

Six months later Arvand Gushnasp was summoned to Persia, so Catholicos Samoel, the chieftain Grigol of Mtskheta and the nobleman Arshusha took advantage of the opportunity and requested that he release the imprisoned Persian Christians. Arvand Gushnasp yielded to the request of the Georgian dignitaries, but warned that the Christian converts would soon meet their deaths.

Meanwhile, the betrayer Bakhdiad fell ill with epilepsy and died, while Panagushnasp lived on in terrible poverty.

Three years later Vezhan Buzmir was appointed the new marzban of Kartli, and the pagan priests again reported on Sts. Eustathius’s and Steven’s conversion. St. Eustathius asked to see his family and said to them: “Farewell, for I am not destined to return home again. I will not betray Christ, and for this they will not forgive me. Imprisonment and beheading await me in Tbilisi. My remains will be brought here according to God’s will.”

Eustathius and Steven were escorted to the new marzban, and Eustathius declared before him that he would not deny Christ. The enraged marzban ordered that he be cast into prison and that his head be chopped off that night and his body thrown behind the fortress wall, to be torn to pieces by the birds. As directed, the marzban’s servants beheaded the saint and cast his body into the abyss behind the fortress wall.

But a group of faithful Christians located St. Eustathius’s body and carried it in secret to Mtskheta. Catholicos Samoel met the holy relics when they arrived, and with great honor they were buried in Svetitskhoveli Cathedral under the altar table.


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

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Venerable Paul the Founder of the Xeropotamou Monastery On Mt Athos

Commemorated on July 28

Saint Paul of Xeropotamou, in the world Procopius, was the son of the Byzanatine Emperor Michael Kuropalatos, who later resigned the imperial office and became a monk in a monastery he built. Having received the finest education, Procopius became one of the most learned men of his time. His "Discourse on the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple," the "Canon to the Forty Martyrs", the "Canon to the Venerable Cross" and other works gained him great renown. But worldly knowledge and honors did not interest him. He exchanged his fine garb for beggar's rags, and he went to the Holy Mountain [Athos], to Xeropotamou. He built a cell there at the ruins of an old monastery founded by the empress Pulcheria in honor of the Forty Martyrs (March 9). From Cosmas, a hermit, he received monastic tonsure with the name Paul.

Out of humility the saint did not reveal his erudition to anyone. The fame of Paul's strict life quickly spread throughout the Holy Mountain. He became called Paul of Xeropotamou, and the monastery where he pursued monasticism, to the present day bears the name Xeropotamou ("dry river").

At that time the emperor Romanus, a relative of Paul, ascended the throne. Through the Protos of the Holy Mountain he requested the saint to come to Constantinople and planned a splendid reception for him. The humble Paul, not betraying his monastic duty, appeared with a cross and in torn robes amid the courtly splendor and magnificence. St Paul confirmed his fame as a chosen one of God, miraculously healing the grievously ill Romanus by placing his hand on him. But the vanity of courtly life, promised by the gratitude of the emperor, did not interest the saint; he returned to the Holy Mountain, having asked one favor of the emperor: to restore the Xeropotamou monastery.

In the holy altar in the consecrated cathedral church of the restored monastery, was put a piece of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord, given to St Paul by the emperor Romanus.

Soon the Xeropotamou monastery was filled by a throng of monks, wanting to put themselves under the guidance of the holy ascetic, but St Paul, having entrusted the rule of the monastery to one of the brethren, moved off to the remote wilderness. His quiet was again disturbed by disciples, not wanting to leave their Elder. Then the monk requested of the emperor the means for the building of a new monastery. Thus the saint founded a monastery in the name of the holy Great Martyr and Victory-Bearer St George. The first head of the new monastery was St Paul himself, who also brought a piece of the Venerable Wood of the Cross of the Lord there.

Having been informed in advance by the Lord of his impending end, the saint summoned the brethren of the Xeropotamou and the new Georgikos monasteries and gave them his final instructions. On the day of his death, St Paul donned the mantle, and read the prayer of St Joannicius, which he said continually: "My hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, my protection is the Holy Spirit, O Holy Trinity, glory to Thee," and he received the Holy Mysteries of Christ.

St Paul had instructed in his will to bury his body on the peninsula of Pongosa (opposite the Holy Mountain). But by the will of God the ship was driven to the shores of Constantinople, where the Emperor and Patriarch with the pious took the body of the saint and solemnly placed it in the Great Church (Hagia Sophia). After the sacking of Constantinople by the Crusaders, the relics of St Paul were transferred to Venice.


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

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Panteleimon the Great Marytr & Healer

July 27

This Saint, who had Nicomedia as his homeland, was the son of Eustorgius and Eubula. His father was an idolater, but his mother was a Christian from her ancestors. It was through her that he was instructed in piety, and still later, he was catechized in the Faith of Christ by Saint Hermolaus (see July 26) and baptized by him. Being proficient in the physician's vocation, he practiced it in a philanthropic manner, healing every illness more by the grace of Christ than by medicines. Thus, although his parents had named him Pantoleon ("in all things a lion"), because of the compassion he showed for the souls and bodies of all, he was worthily renamed Panteleimon, meaning "all-merciful." On one occasion, when he restored the sight of a certain blind man by calling on the Divine Name, he enlightened also the eyes of this man's soul to the knowledge of the truth. This also became the cause for the martyrdom of him who had been blind, since when he was asked by whom and in what manner his eyes had been opened, in imitation of that blind man of the Gospel he confessed with boldness both who the physician was and the manner of his healing. For this he was put to death immediately. Panteleimon was arrested also, and having endured many wounds, he was finally beheaded in the year 305, during the reign of Maximian. Saint Panteleimon is one of the Holy Unmercenaries, and is held in special honor among them, even as Saint George is among the Martyrs.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
O holy prizewinner and healer Panteleimon, intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the First Tone
O Champion and Martyr of God, imitating the Merciful and bearing from Him the grace of healing, cure our spiritual ills by your prayers, and set free from the temptation of the eternal enemy those who ceaselessly cry out, "Save us, O Lord."


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

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Paraskevi the Righteous Martyr of Rome

July 26

Saint Paraskevi, who was from a certain village near Rome, was born to pious parents, Agatho and Politia. Since she was born on a Friday (in Greek, Paraskevi), she was given this name, which means "preparation" or "preparedness" (compare Matt. 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, and John 19:31, where 'Friday' is called "the day of the preparation"). From childhood she was instructed in the sacred letters and devoted herself to the study of the divine Scriptures, while leading a monastic life and guiding many to the Faith of Christ. During the reign of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, she was apprehended because she was a Christian and was urged to worship the idols, but she answered with the words of Jeremias: "Let the gods that have not made heaven and the earth perish from off the earth" (Jer. 10:11). Because of this she endured exceedingly painful torments, and was beheaded in the year 140. The faithful pray to her for the healing of eye ailments.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
Showing a diligence befitting thy calling, O namesake of preparedness, thou hast gained, as thy dwelling, a faith worthy of thy name, O prizewinning Paraskeve. Hence, thou pourest forth healings and intercedest for our souls.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
O most majestic One, we have discovered your temple to be a spiritual clinic wherein all the faithful resoundingly honor you, O famed and venerable martyr Paraskevi.


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

Monday, July 25, 2011

Virginmartyr Eupraxia of Tabenna

Commemorated on July 25

Saint Eupraxia was daughter of the Constantinople dignitary Antigonos, a kinsman of the holy Emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395).

Antigonus and his wife Eupraxia were pious and bestowed generous alms on the destitute. A daughter was born to them, whom they also named Eupraxia. Antigonos soon died, and the mother withdrew from the imperial court. She went with her daughter to Egypt, on the pretext of inspecting her properties. Near the Thebaid there was a women's monastery with a strict monastic rule. The life of the inhabitants attracted the pious widow. She wanted to bestow aid on this monastery, but the abbess Theophila refused and said that the nuns had fully devoted themselves to God and that they did not wish the acquisition of any earthly riches. The abbess consented to accept only candles, incense and oil.

The younger Eupraxia was seven years old at this time. She liked the monastic way of life and she decided to remain at the monastery. Her pious mother did not stand in the way of her daughter's wish. Taking leave of her daughter at the monastery, Eupraxia asked her daughter to be humble, never to dwell upon her noble descent, and to serve God and her sisters.

In a short while the mother died. Having learned of her death, the emperor St Theodosius sent St Eupraxia the Younger a letter in which he reminded her that her parents had betrothed her to the son of a certain senator, intending that she marry him when she reached age fifteen. The Emperor desired that she honor the commitment made by her parents. In reply, St Eupraxia wrote to the emperor that she had already become a bride of Christ, and she requested of the emperor to dispose of her properties, distributing the proceeds for the use of the Church and the needy.

St Eupraxia, when she reached the age of maturity, intensified her ascetic efforts all the more. At first she partook of food once a day, then after two days, three days, and finally, once a week. She combined her fasting with the fulfilling of all her monastic obediences. She toiled humbly in the kitchen, she washed dishes, she swept the premises and served the sisters with zeal and love. The sisters also loved the humble Eupraxia. But one of them envied her and explained away all her efforts as a desire for glory. This sister began to trouble and to reproach her, but the holy virgin did not answer her back, and instead humbly asked forgiveness.

The Enemy of the human race caused the saint much misfortune. Once,while getting water, she fell into the well, and the sisters pulled her out. Another time, St Eupraxia was chopping wood for the kitchen, and cut herself on the leg with an axe. When she carried an armload of wood up the ladder, she stepped on the hem of her garment. She fell, and a sharp splinter cut her near the eyes. All these woes St Eupraxia endured with patience, and when they asked her to rest, she would not consent.

For her efforts, the Lord granted St Eupraxia a gift of wonderworking. Through her prayers she healed a deaf and dumb crippled child, and she delivered a demon-possessed woman from infirmity. They began to bring the sick for healing to the monastery. The holy virgin humbled herself all the more, counting herself as least among the sisters. Before the death of St Eupraxia, the abbess had a vision. The holy virgin was transported into a splendid palace, and stood before the Throne of the Lord, surrounded by holy angels. The All-Pure Virgin showed St Eupraxia around the luminous chamber and said that She had made it ready for her, and that she would come into this habitation after ten days.

The abbess and the sisters wept bitterly, not wanting to lose St Eupraxia. The saint herself, in learning about the vision, wept because she was not prepared for death. , She asked the abbess to pray that the Lord would grant her one year more for repentance. The abbess consoled St Eupraxia and said that the Lord would grant her His great mercy. Suddenly St Eupraxia sensed herself not well, and having sickened, she soon peacefully died at the age of thirty.


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

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Venerable Polycarp the Archimandrite of the Kiev Far Caves

Commemorated on July 24

Saint Polycarp the Archimandrite entered the Kiev Caves Monastery, where he received monastic tonsure and struggled for the salvation of his soul.

Soon Polycarp (whose name means "much fruit") began to bear fruits of repentance and virtue. His relative St Simon (May 10), who became Bishop of Vladimir and Suzdal, planted the seeds which St Polycarp developed. As the holy bishop taught Polycarp the principles of the spiritual life, the two became increasingly united in spirit, just as they were related by blood.

When St Simon left the Monastery of the Caves to assume his hierarchal responsibilities in Vladimir, he took Polycarp with him. St Polycarp wrote down the stories that St Simeon told him of the God-pleasing ascetics of the Kiev Caves so that others might also benefit from them. Therefore, he is also known as St Polycarp the Hagiologist. Although St Polycarp returned to the monastery, he always tried to live according to St Simeon's instructions.

After the repose of Igumen Akindynus, the brethren chose Polycarp to succeed him as the Superior of the Lavra. He proved to be a skilled guide for the brethren in their struggle for salvation, and also for those outside the monastery.

The Great Prince Rostislav was one of many who profited from the teaching of St Polycarp, and asked that he be allowed to become a monk. The saint told him, "God has appointed you to stand for the truth, to judge with justice, and to stand firmly before the Cross."

Rostislav answered, "Holy Father, one cannot be a prince in this world without falling into sin. I am already exhausted and weakened by daily cares and labors. Now in my old age I would like to serve God and emulate those who have followed the narrow and sorrowful path and received the Kingdom of Heaven. I have heard of how Constantine (May 21), great among kings, appeared to a certain Elder and said, 'If I had known what glory the monks receive in heaven… I would have taken off my crown and royal purple, and replaced them with the monastic garb'."

St Polycarp told him, "If you desire this from your heart, then may it be God's will."

However, as the prince was passing through Smolensk, he fell ill and asked to be taken home to Kiev. Seeing how weak he was, his sister Rogneda urged him to remain in Smolensk and be buried in the church they had built there.

Rostislav would not accept this suggestion. He said, "If I do not make it back to Kiev, then let me be placed in the church my father built in the Monastery of St Theodore. If God delivers me from this illness and grants me health, then I vow to become a monk at the Monastery of the Caves under Polycarp."

As he lay at death's door, Rostislav said to the priest Simeon, "You must answer before God since you hindered me from being tonsured by the holy one in the Caves Monastery, for I truly desired that. May the Lord not count it as a sin that I did not fulfill this."

St Polycarp went to the Lord on July 24, 1182. After this, no successor was chosen for a long time. Although there were many worthy Elders in the Lavra, they all declined the office of igumen out of humility. The brethren realized that they could not remain for long without a shepherd. They assembled in the church and prayed to Sts Anthony and Theodosius and St Polycarp to help them find someone worthy to take his place.

Then a voice was heard saying, "Let us go to the priest Basil in Schekovitsa. Let him be our Superior and rule the monastery in the monastic rank."

The monks went to the widowed priest Basil and asked him to be their Superior, but he refused for a long time. After many entreaties, he finally agreed and went with them to the monastery. He was tonsured as a monk and installed as igumen by Metropolitan Nicephorus of Kiev, Bishops Laurence of Turov and Nicholas of Polotsk. Igumen Basil proved to be a model of virtues and a worthy successor to St Polycarp.


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

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Phocas the Holy Martyr, Bishop of Sinope

July 23

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God, thou foundest discipline to be a means of ascent to divine vision. Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, thou didst also contest for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr Phocas. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
The Master hath established thee as a divinely-radiant, luminous, and spiritual sun shining upon the multitude of the church's faithful, O glorious Martyr Phocas; for He hath accepted thy life, faith, and contests as fragrant myrrh, since He alone is abundant in mercy.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):
This saint was known for the many miracles he worked and for his apostolic zeal in shepherding the flock of Sinope. He contested for the Faith during the reign of the Emperor Trajan, in the year 102, when he was burned to death in a bath-house. A homily in his honour was composed by Saint John Chrysostom. The translation of his holy relics is celebrated on July 23.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Martyr Marcella of Chios

Commemorated on July 22

Saint Markella lived in the village of Volissos, Chios sometime after the middle of the fourteenth century. Her parents were Christians, and among the wealthiest citizens of Volissos. The saint's mother died when she was young, and so her father, the mayor of the village, saw to her education.

She had been trained by her mother to be respectful and devout, and to guard her purity. She avoided associations with other girls who were more outgoing than she was so that she would not come to spiritual harm through such company. Her goal was to attain the Kingdom of Heaven, and to become a bride of Christ.

St Markella increased in virtue as she grew older, fasting, praying, and attending church services. She tried to keep the commandments and to lead others to God. She loved and respected her father, and comforted him in his sorrow. She told him she would take care of him in his old age, and would not abandon him.

As an adult, St Markella was loved by everyone for her beauty and for her spiritual gifts. The Enemy of our salvation tried to lure her into sin by placing evil thoughts in her mind. She resisted these temptations, and so the devil turned away from a direct confrontation with the young woman. Instead, he incited her father with an unnatural desire for his daughter.

Markella's father changed in his behavior toward her. He became moody and depressed, forbidding her to go into the garden or to speak with the neighbors. Unable to understand the reason for this change, the saint went to her room and wept. She prayed before an icon of the Mother of God, asking Her to help her father. Soon she fell asleep, only to be awakened by her father's shouting.

The unfortunate man had spent a long time struggling against his lust, but finally he gave in to it. At times he would speak to his daughter roughly, then later he would appear to be gentle. He wanted to be near her, and to stroke her hair. Unaware of her father's intentions, St Markella was happy to see him emerge from his melancholy state, thinking that her prayer had been answered.

One day, her father openly declared the nature of his feelings for her. Horrified, the saint tried to avoid him as much as she could. Even the neighbors realized that there was something wrong with the man, so they stopped speaking to him.

A shepherd was tending his sheep near the beach one morning, and was leading them into the shade of a plane tree to avoid the hot July sun. Just as he was about to lie down, he heard a noise and looked up. He saw a young woman with a torn dress running down the hill. She hid in a nearby bush, ignoring its thorns.

The shepherd wondered who was chasing her, and how she had come to this spot. Then he heard the sound of a horse approaching, and recognized the mayor of the village. He asked the shepherd if he had seen his daughter. He said that he had not seen her, but pointed to her hiding place with his finger.

The mayor ordered Markella to come out of the bush, but she refused. Therefore, he set fire to the bush in order to force her out. She emerged on the side opposite her father, and ran toward the rocky shore, calling out to the Mother of God for help.

Markella continued to run, even though blood was flowing from her face and hands. Feeling a sharp pain in her leg, she saw that she had been shot with an arrow. She paused to pull it out, then took to flight once more. She scrambled over the rocks, staining them with her blood. Hearing her father getting closer, she prayed that the earth would open up and swallow her.

The saint sank to her knees, her strength all gone, and then a miracle took place. The rock split open and received her body up to the waist. Her father drew near with wild-eyed joy shouting, "I have caught you. Now where will you go?

Drawing his sword, he began to butcher his helpless daughter, cutting off pieces of her body. Finally, he seized her by the hair and cut off her head, throwing it into the sea. At once the calm sea became stormy, and large waves crashed to the shore near the murderer's feet. Thinking that the sea was going to drown him because of his crime, he turned and fled. His ultimate fate has not been recorded.

In later years, pious Christians built a church on the spot where St Markella hid in the bush. The spot where she was killed became known as "The Martyrdom of St Markella," and the rock that opened to receive her is still there. The rock appears to be a large stone that broke off from a mountain and rolled into the sea. Soil from the mountain covers the spot on the side facing the land. On the side facing the ocean is a small hole, about the size of a finger. A healing water flows from the opening, which cures every illness.

The flow of water is not due to the movements of the tide, because when the tide is out, there would be no water. This, however, is not the case. The water is clear, but some of the nearby rocks have been stained with a reddish-yellow color. According to tradition, the lower extremities of St Markella's body are concealed in the rock.

The most astonishing thing about the rock is not the warmth of the water, nor the discoloration of the other rocks, but what happens when a priest performs the Blessing of Water. A sort of steam rises up from the water near the rock, and the entire area is covered with a mist. The sea returns to normal as soon as the service is over. Many miracles have occurred at the spot, and pilgrims flock there from all over the world.


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

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Venerable Onuphrius the Silent of the Kiev Far Caves

Commemorated on July 21

The Monk Onuphrius the Silent of the Caves was an ascetic in the Near Caves of St Anthony in the twelfth century. He is also commemorated on September 28 (Synaxis of the Fathers of the Near Caves).


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

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Icon of the Mother of God "Chukhloma" from Galich

Commemorated on July 20

The Chukhloma Icon of the Mother of God of Galich appeared in the year 1350 to St Abraham of Galich, who came there from the north for ascetical labors with the blessing of St Sergius of Radonezh. On the wild shores of the Galich lake near the large mountain, hidden in the dense forest, he turned with prayer to the Mother of God, asking Her blessing for his endeavors. After completing his prayer the saint sat down to rest, and suddenly a bright light appeared on the nearby mountainside and he heard a voice: "Abraham, come up the mountain, where there is an icon of My Mother."

The monk went up the mountain where the light shone, and indeed found an icon of the Mother of God with the Infant on a tree. With tenderness and in gratitude to God, the holy ascetic took the revealed icon and, strengthened by prayers to the Most Holy Theotokos, he built a chapel at that place, in which he put the icon.

After a certain time the Galich prince Demetrius Feodorovich, learned about the Elder's trip, and asked him to bring the icon. St Abraham rowed across the Galich lake in a boat and, accompanied by clergy and a throng of people, he took the wonderworking icon to the cathedral church of the city of Galich.

On this day a large number of the sick were healed by this icon. When St Abraham told about the appearance of the icon, the Prince offered money to build a monastery. Soon a church was built in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, around which a monastery grew. St Abraham founded several more monasteries, the last being founded was the Chukhloma, not far from the city of Chukhloma, from the name of this monastery the ascetic was named "of Chukhloma," and the wonderworking icon became known as the Chukhloma Icon of Galich.

The icon is also commemorated on May 28, July 4, and August 15.


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

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Venerable Paisius of the Kiev Far Caves

Commemorated on July 19

Saint Paisius of the Caves was a monk of the Kiev Caves monastery. From the Canon to the Kiev Caves monks, venerated in the Far Caves, it is known that he was connected by oneness of mind and brotherly love with St Mercurius (November 24). Both saints were inseparable, they lived in the same cell, and after death were placed in the same grave. At the present time their relics rest in separate reliquaries.

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

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hieromartyr Kozman

Commemorated on July 18

Over the centuries the monastic complex founded by St. David of Gareji became a spiritual and cultural center for all of Georgia. Many of the faithful flocked there with a desire to serve Christ.

Among them was the hieromonk Kozman, who would end his earthly life as a martyr.

Few details of the life of Holy Martyr Kozman have been preserved. According to the Georgian catholicos Anton, St. Kozman was a learned and righteous ascetic, well-versed in the canons of the Orthodox Church.

St. Kozman composed a set of “Hymns to the Great-Martyr Queen Ketevan” but his work has not been preserved. According to the 19th-century historian Platon Ioseliani, Hieromonk Kozman was taken captive and tortured to death in the year 1630, when the Dagestanis were carrying out a raid on the Davit-Gareji Wilderness.

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

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fathers of the First Six Councils

Commemorated on July 17

The Commemoration of the Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils.

In the Ninth Article of the Nicea-Constantinople Symbol of Faith proclaimed by the holy Fathers of the First and Second Ecumenical Councils, we confess our faith in "One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church." By virtue of the catholic nature of the Church, an Ecumenical Council is the Church's supreme authority, and possesses the competence to resolve major questions of church life. An Ecumenical Council is comprised of archpastors and pastors of the Church, and representatives of all the local Churches, from every land of the "oikumene" (i.e. from all the whole inhabited world).

The Orthodox Church acknowledges Seven Holy Ecumenical Councils: The First Ecumenical Council (Nicea I) (May 29, and also on seventh Sunday after Pascha) was convened in the year 325 against the heresy of Arius, in the city of Nicea in Bithynia under St. Constantine the Great, Equal of the Apostles.

The Second Ecumenical Council (Constantinople I) (May 22) was convened in the year 381 against the heresy of Macedonias, by the emperor Theodosius the Great.

The Third Ecumenical Council (Ephesus) (September 9) was convened in the year 431 against the heresy of Nestorius, in the city of Ephesus by the emperor Theodosius the Younger.

The Fourth Ecumenical Council (Chalcedon) (July 16) was convened in the year 451, against the Monophysite heresy, in the city of Chalcedon under the emperor Marcian.

The Fifth Ecumenical Council (Constnatinople II) (July 25) "Concerning the Three Chapters," was convened in the year 553, under the emperor Justinian the Great.

The Sixth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople III) (January 23) met during the years 680-681, to fight the Monothelite heresy, under the emperor Constantine Pogonatos.

The fact that the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Nicea II) is not commemorated today testifies to the antiquity of today's celebration. The Seventh Council, commemorated on the Sunday nearest to October 11, was convened at Nicea in the year 787 against the Iconoclast heresy, under the emperor Constantine and his mother Irene.

The Church venerates the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils because Christ has established them as "lights upon the earth," guiding us to the true Faith. "Adorned with the robe of truth," the doctrine of the Fathers, based upon the preaching of the Apostles, has established one faith for the Church. The Ecumenical Councils are the highest authority in the Church. Such Councils, guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and accepted by the Church, are infallible.

The Orthodox Church's conciliar definitions of dogma have the highest authority, and such definitions always begin with the Apostolic formula: "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us..." (Acts 15: 28).

The Ecumenical Councils were always convened for a specific reason: to combat false opinions and heresies, and to clarify the Orthodox Church's teaching. But the Holy Spirit has thus seen fit, that the dogmas, the truths of faith, immutable in their content and scope, constantly and consequently are revealed by the conciliar mind of the Church, and are given precision by the holy Fathers within theological concepts and terms in exactly such measure as is needed by the Church itself for its economy of salvation. The Church, in expounding its dogmas, is dealing with the concerns of a given historical moment, "not revealing everything in haste and thoughtlessly, nor indeed, ultimately hiding something" (St Gregory the Theologian).

A brief summary of the dogmatic theology of the First Six Ecumenical Councils is formulated and contained in the First Canon of the Council of Trullo (also known as Quinisext), held in the year 692. The 318 Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council are spoken of in this Canon I of Trullo as having: "with unanimity of faith revealed and declared to us the consubstantiality of the three Persons of the Divine nature and, ... instructing the faithful to adore the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with one worship, they cast down and dispelled the false teaching about different degrees of Divinity."

The 150 Holy Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council left their mark on the theology of the Church concerning the Holy Spirit, "repudiating the teaching of Macedonius, as one who wished to divide the inseparable Unity, so that there might be no perfect mystery of our hope."

The 200 God-bearing Fathers of the Third Ecumenical Council expounded the teaching that "Christ, the Incarnate Son of God is One." They also confessed that "she who bore Him without seed was the spotless Ever-Virgin, glorifying her as truly the Mother of God.

The 630 Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council decreed that "the One Christ, the Son of God... must be glorified in two natures."

The 165 God-bearing Holy Fathers of the Fifth Ecumenical Council "in synod anathematized and repudiated Theodore of Mopsuestia (the teacher of Nestorius), and Origen, and Didymus, and Evagrius, renovators of the Hellenic teaching about the transmigration of souls and the transmutation of bodies and the impieties they raised against the resurrection of the dead."

The 170 Holy Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council "taught that we ought to confess two natural volitions, or two wills [trans. note: one divine, and the other human], and two natural operations (energies) in Him Who was incarnate for our salvation, Jesus Christ, our true God."

In decisive moments of Church history, the holy Ecumenical Councils promulgated their dogmatic definitions, as trustworthy delimitations in the spiritual battle for the purity of Orthodoxy, which will last until such time, as "all shall come into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God" (Eph. 4: 13). In the struggle with new heresies, the Church does not abandon its former dogmatic concepts nor replace them with some sort of new formulations. The dogmatic formulae of the Holy Ecumenical Councils need never be superseded, they remain always contemporary to the living Tradition of the Church. Therefore the Church proclaims:

"The faith of all in the Church of God hath been glorified by men, which were luminaries in the world, cleaving to the Word of Life, so that it be observed firmly, and that it dwell unshakably until the end of the ages, conjointly with their God-bestown writings and dogmas. We reject and we anathematize all whom they have rejected and anathematized, as being enemies of Truth. And if anyone does not cleave to nor admit the aforementioned pious dogmas, and does not teach or preach accordingly, let him be anathema" (Canon I of the Council of Trullo).

In addition to their dogmatic definitions, the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils exerted great efforts towards the strengthening of church discipline. Local Councils promulgated their disciplinary canons according to the circumstances of the time and place, frequently differing among themselves in various particulars.

The universal unity of the Orthodox Church required unity also in canonical practice, i.e. a conciliar deliberation and affirmation of the most important canonical norms by the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils. Thus, according to conciliar judgment, the Church has accepted: 20 Canons from the First, 7 Canons from the Second, 8 Canons from the Third, and 30 Canons from the Fourth Ecumenical Synods. The Fifth and the Sixth Councils concerned themselves only with resolving dogmatic questions, and did not leave behind any disciplinary canons.

The need to establish in codified form the customary practices during the years 451-680, and ultimately to compile a canonical codex for the Orthodox Church, occasioned the convening of a special Council, which was wholly devoted to the general application of churchly rules. This was convened in the year 692. The Council "in the Imperial Palace" or "Under the Arches" (in Greek "en trullo"), came to be called the Council in Trullo. It is also called the "Quinisext" [meaning the "fifth and sixth"], because it is considered to have completed the activities of the Fifth and Sixth Councils, or rather that it was simply a direct continuation of the Sixth Ecumenical Council itself, separated by just a few years.

The Council in Trullo, with its 102 Canons (more than of all the Ecumenical Synods combined), had a tremendous significance in the history of the canonical theology of the Orthodox Church. It might be said that the Fathers of this Council produced a complete compilation of the basic codex from the relevant sources for the Orthodox Church's canons. Listing through in chronological order, and having been accepted by the Church the Canons of the Holy Apostles, and the Canons of the Holy Ecumenical and the Local Councils and of the holy Fathers, the Trullo Council declared: "Let no one be permitted to alter or to annul the aforementioned canons, nor in place of these put forth, or to accept others, made of spurious inscription" (2nd Canon of the Council in Trullo).

Church canons, sanctified by the authority of the first Six Ecumenical Councils (including the rules of the Seventh Ecumenical Council in 787, and the Constantinople Councils of 861 and 879, which were added later under the holy Patriarch Photius), form the basis of THE RUDDER, or KORMCHAYA KNIGA (a canon law codex known as "Syntagma" or "Nomokanon" in 14 titles). In its repository of grace is expressed a canonical norm, a connection to every era, and a guide for all the local Orthodox Churches in churchly practice.

New historical conditions can lead to the change of some particular external aspect of the life of the Church. This makes creative canonical activity necessary in the conciliar reasoning of the Church, in order to reconcile the external norms of churchly life with historical circumstances. The details of canonical regulation are not fully developed for the various eras of churchly organization all at once. With every push to either forsake the literal meaning of a canon, or to fulfill and develop it, the Church again and again turns for reasoning and guidance to the eternal legacy of the Holy Ecumenical Councils, to the inexhaustible treasury of dogmatic and canonical truths.


You are most glorious, O Christ our God!
You have established the Holy Fathers as lights on the earth!
Through them you have guided us to the true faith!
O greatly Compassionate One, glory to You!


 The Apostles' preaching and the Fathers' doctrines have established one faith for the Church. Adorned with the robe of truth, woven from heavenly theology, It defines and glorifies the great mystery of Orthodoxy!


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

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Icon of the Mother of God of Chirsk-Pskov

Commemorated on July 16
The Chirsk (Pskov) Icon of the Mother of God was initially in the Chirsk village church of the Pskov diocese. On July 16, 1420, during the time of Great Prince Basil Dimitrievich, Archbishop Simeon of Novgorod and Pskov, and Prince Theodore Alexandrovich were present in Pskov. In a time of a deadly pestilence, tears flowed from the eyes of the Chirsk Icon of the Mother of God. This was reported to authorities in the city of Pskov. Priests and devout men carried the wonderworking icon to Pskov. A church procession was formed to meet the icon, which was placed in the cathedral church of the Holy Trinity.

On the reverse of the icon are depicted the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke, and St Theodosius of the Kiev Caves.


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

Thursday, July 14, 2011

China Agrees To Erase Portion Of U.S. Debt If Americans Dress Up In Costumes And Perform Silly Dance For Them

Chinese president Hu Jintao said Americans should begin thinking of dance steps now.

Ok, so it seems everyone is doing the political thing on their blog so here's my stab.

From here.

BEIJING—In what it's describing as a magnanimous gesture toward an economy in decline, the Chinese government announced Monday it would forgive a portion of the staggering U.S. debt if Americans agreed to dress up in costumes and perform silly dances for their amusement.

With his nation holding $1.16 trillion in federal bonds and the U.S. showing no signs of ending its dependence on foreign credit, President Hu Jintao told reporters that allowing Americans to ease their fiscal burden in proportion to the number and quality of colorful dance numbers they perform is a mutually beneficial arrangement for both countries.
"Our great nation has generously agreed to decrease the considerable financial obligations of the United States," said Hu, standing before an enormous rack containing elaborate dance attire such as sequined vests and metallic lamé pants. "All we ask in return is that Americans put on outfits such as these and amuse us with buffoonish little kicks and twirls, preferably while slapping their big fat tummies. The U.S. will receive much needed debt relief, and China will enjoy watching the graceless flailing of decadent capitalists."

Addressing Americans directly, Hu continued: "In the seconds it will take you to object, your nation will slip hundreds of thousands of dollars further into our debt. That will mean 50 more of your countrymen having to put on a George Washington costume with a skirt and prance around with big smiles and heavily rouged cheeks while we pelt them with bits of your worthless currency from the windows of the Chinese embassy."

While Hu offered few specific rules to govern the debt-reduction scheme, he did provide a number of guidelines that he said would affect the amount deducted. Large, ambitious routines—the entire population of Ohio dressed in bright green leotards doing a high-stepping jig with Big Macs stuffed in their mouths, for example—could shave $20 billion from the debt in a matter of minutes. Meanwhile, smaller groups of Americans and even individuals could do their part by dressing up as cancan dancers and performing a kick line in front of the Vietnam Memorial, or by painting the Mandarin character for 'gorilla' on their faces and jumping up and down on their desks at work like "great big immoral apes."
Hu added that the dollar value of all dances could be increased by incorporating chants such as "I have no work ethic," "Look at what our pathetic democracy has done to us," and "I am so fat I must drive an SUV to go purchase a prostitute" into the routine. Conversely, acts may be disqualified entirely if professional dancers are employed or if participants do not seem suitably engaged in their performance.

Hu later confirmed that wearing brightly colored hats with bells on them could only help.

"All dancers will be required to demonstrate an exceptional level of commitment," said Hu, adding that, should a very large American dress up in a form-fitting outfit with his stomach hanging visibly over his waistband, and then pass out from physical exertion while his overweight children dance around him, an extra $12 million would be instantly knocked off the tab. "It will be insufficient to go through the motions. Any dancer who hand jives without proper rehearsal and a big smile is wasting his time."

"That is especially important," Hu added. "We want nice, big smiles from America."

Although any U.S. citizen is eligible to participate in the program, dances performed by members of the armed forces or practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism will be considered more valuable. Persons holding high office in the federal government stand to make the largest financial impact, especially, Hu said, if all 535 members of Congress perform a Yiddish bottle dance during his next state visit.

"I do not savor what I am going to do this evening," said a solemn President Obama, sitting at his Oval Office desk in the tiger-striped scoop neck he will wear for a salsa performance expected to cut the American debt by a whopping $30 billion. "I know that my partner, Speaker Boehner, shares my reluctance, but that we will both do what we must for the financial well-being of our country."

"But let me be clear," added a defiant Obama, the beads on his lacy sleeve jiggling as he emphatically pointed at the camera. "The United States will never dance for any nation on earth more than once. There will be no encore."

Venerable Hellius (Hellius) of Egypt

Commemorated on July 14

St Hellius lived and died in the fourth century. He was sent to a monastery when he was still a child. There he was raised in piety, temperance and chastity.

When he grew up, he went into the Egyptian desert, where through his ascetical struggles he attained great proficiency in the spiritual life. He was endowed with the gift of clairvoyance, and he knew all the thoughts and disposition of the monks conversing with him.

Great faith, simplicity of soul and deep humility allowed St Hellius to command wild animals. Once, the saint became tired while carrying a heavy load to the monastery. He prayed and called a wild donkey to carry his burden. The donkey meekly carried the load to the place and was set free to return to the wilderness. Another time, when St Hellius needed to cross a river and there was no boat, he summoned a crocodile from the water and crossed to the opposite shore while standing on its back.

One of the young novices of the monastery, whom St Hellius visited, asked him to take him along into the far desert. St Hellius warned him about the great work, exploits and temptations which inevitably beset all the hermits, but since the novice continued fervently to ask, he took him along. On the first night the novice, frightened by terrible visions, ran to St Hellius. The monk comforted and calmed him down and ordered him to return. Tracing the Sign of the Cross over the cave, the monk told the young hermit not to fear, because he would not be disturbed by these apparitions any more. Trusting the word of the saint, the novice decided to remain in solitude and afterwards attained such perfection that he, like his teacher Hellius, received food from an angel.

St Hellius peacefully entered the heavenly mansions after reaching an advanced age.


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

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Icon of the Mother of God "It Is Truly Meet"

Commemorated on July 13

The "It is Truly Meet" Icon of the Mother of God is in the high place of the altar of the cathedral church of the Karyes monastery on Mount Athos.

One Saturday night an Elder went to Karyes for the all-night Vigil. He left, instructing his disciple to remain behind and read the service in their cell. As it grew dark, the disciple heard a knock on the door. When he opened the door, he saw an unknown monk who called himself Gabriel, and he invited him to come in. They stood before the icon of the Mother of God and read the service together with reverence and compunction.

During the Ninth Ode of the Canon, the disciple began to sing "My soul magnifies the Lord…" with the Irmos of St Cosmas the Hymnographer (October 14), "More honorable than the Cherubim…."

The stranger sang the next verse, "For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden…." Then he chanted something the disciple had never heard before, "It is truly meet to bless Thee, O Theotokos, ever-blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God…" Then he continued with, "More honorable than the Cherubim.…"

While the hymn was being sung, the icon of the Theotokos shone with a heavenly light. The disciple was moved by the new version of the familiar hymn, and asked his guest to write the words down for him. When the stranger asked for paper and ink, the disciple said that they did not have any.

The stranger took a roof tile and wrote the words of the hymn on its surface with his finger. The disciple knew then that this was no ordinary monk, but the Archangel Gabriel. The angel said, "Sing in this manner, and all the Orthodox as well." Then he disappeared, and the icon of the Mother of God continued to radiate light for some time afterward.

The Eleousa Icon of the Mother of God, before which the hymn "It Is Truly Meet" was first sung, was transferred to the katholikon at Karyes. The tile, with the hymn written on it by the Archangel Gabriel, was taken to Constantinople when St Nicholas Chrysoberges (December 16) was Patriarch.

Numerous copies of the "It Is Truly Meet" Icon are revered in Russian churches. At the Galerna Harbor of Peterburg a church with five cupolas was built in honor of the Merciful Mother of God, and into it they put a grace-bearing copy of the "It Is Truly Meet" icon sent from Athos.


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

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Venerable John the Georgian, of Mt. Athos

Commemorated on July 12

Saint John was born the son of a nobleman during the reign of King Davit Kuropalates.

For his love of Christ he left his family and the world to be tonsured a monk. After informing the royal court of his decision, St. John received a blessing from his spiritual father to travel to Greece, where he settled at a monastery on Mt. Olympus.

At that time, as a “sign of friendship,” the Byzantine emperor returned the Georgian lands he had conquered to King Davit Kuropalates, but as a “sign of dedication,” he demanded that children of the nobility be sent as surety. Among those sent to Byzantium was St. John’s son, Ekvtime. St. John begged the Byzantine emperor to release his son, and when Ekvtime was finally freed, John took him back with him to the Monastery of St. Athanasius the Athonite (the Great Lavra).

At that time the famed Georgian military commander Tornike Eristavi came to visit St. John. Tornike was soon tonsured a monk and given the new name John (the saint is commemorated as John-Tornike), and he settled at the Monastery of St. Athanasius the Athonite as well.

Soon the Georgian faithful began to flock to the Monastery of St. Athanasius, and John withdrew from the monastery to a more secluded place, where he constructed a cell and a church in honor of St. John the Theologian. Two more churches were later built in that same area in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos and St. John the Baptist. In such a way the celebrated Iveron Monastery of Mt. Athos was established, with St. John as its first abbot.

After the repose of his faithful friend and assistant St. John-Tornike, it became difficult for St. John to continue to labor on the Holy Mountain. He and several of his disciples planned to leave Athos, but in the end they remained at the insistence of the Byzantine emperor.

John soon fell ill with gout and was bedridden for several years. Prior to his death he summoned his son, Ekvtime, confessed to him his sins, and designated him abbot of the Iveron Monastery. He told his son that St. Giorgi (later “the Builder”) should succeed him as abbot, then blessed all the brothers and “fell asleep among the ranks of the righteous in the arms of his son.”

St. Ekvtime robed the holy relics of his fleshly and spiritual father in costly linens and later erected a church in honor of the Archangels over his grave.

St. Gabriel was a monk of the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos. In summer he would withdraw to the inaccessible cliffs, and in winter he would return to the monastery and observe a strict rule of silence. Clad in a coarse robe and eating nothing but roots and herbs, St. Gabriel was truly a “heavenly man and an earthly angel.”

Once, at dusk, the monks of the monastery beheld a pillar of light shining forth upon the sea. The vision lasted for several days, and finally monks from every monastery on the Holy Mountain gathered and descended together to the sea.

They beheld an icon of the Mother of God shining brilliantly and floating upright upon the surface of the water. The fathers lowered a boat onto the water, hoping to bring the icon back with them to the shore, but each time their boat approached the icon, it drifted farther out to sea.

Finally the frustrated monks offered prayers and supplications to God in order to discern His will, and the Most Holy Theotokos appeared in a divine revelation and told them that the monk Gabriel alone was worthy to bring the icon bearing her image out from the sea. At the same time, she appeared to the God-fearing Gabriel and told him, “Enter onto the sea and walk out upon the waves with faith, and I will send my love and mercy upon all the monks of this monastery.”

The elders of Mt. Athos located the rocky dwelling of the hermit Gabriel not far from the Iveron Monastery. They brought Gabriel with them and went down to the sea with hymns and censing. Gabriel stepped out onto the water and, walking upon the waves as upon dry land, approached the icon. At the same time, the holy image drew nearer to him. Clutching the holy icon to his breast, Gabriel crossed back over the waves and delivered the icon safely to the shore. (The story of the miraculous Iveron Icon of the Theotokos is recounted in detail in the commemorations for February 12.)

St. Gabriel reposed peacefully on Mt. Athos.


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

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Venerable Anthony of the Kiev Far Caves, Founder of Monasticism in Russia

Commemorated on July 10

Saint Anthony of the Kiev Caves was born in the year 983 at Liubech, not far from Chernigov, and was named Antipas in Baptism. Possessing the fear of God from his youth, he desired to be clothed in the monastic schema. When he reached a mature age, he wandered until he arrived on Mt. Athos, burning with the desire to emulate the deeds of its holy inhabitants. Here he received monastic tonsure, and the young monk pleased God in every aspect of his spiritual struggles on the path of virtue. He particularly excelled in humility and obedience, so that all the monks rejoiced to see his holy life.

The igumen saw in St Anthony the great future ascetic, and inspired by God, he sent him back to his native land, saying, "Anthony, it is time for you to guide others in holiness. Return to your own Russian land, and be an example for others. May the blessing of the Holy Mountain be with you.

Returning to the land of Rus, Anthony began to make the rounds of the monasteries about Kiev, but nowhere did he find that strict life which had drawn him to Mt. Athos.

Through the Providence of God, Anthony came to the hills of Kiev by the banks of the River Dniepr. The forested area near the village of Berestovo reminded him of his beloved Athos. There he found a cave which had been dug out by the Priest Hilarion, who later became Metropolitan of Kiev (October 21). Since he liked the spot, Anthony prayed with tears, "Lord, let the blessing of Mt. Athos be upon this spot, and strengthen me to remain here." He began to struggle in prayer, fasting, vigil and physical labor. Every other day, or every third day, he would eat only dry bread and a little water. Sometimes he did not eat for a week. People began to come to the ascetic for his blessing and counsel, and some decided to remain with the saint.

Among Anthony's first disciples was St Nikon (March 23), who tonsured St Theodosius of the Caves (May 3) at the monastery in the year 1032.

The virtuous life of St Anthony illumined the Russian land with the beauty of monasticism. St Anthony lovingly received those who yearned for the monastic life. After instructing them how to follow Christ, he asked St Nikon to tonsure them. When twelve disciples had gathered about St Anthony, the brethren dug a large cave and built a church and cells for the monks within it.

After he appointed Abbot Barlaam to guide the brethren, St Anthony withdrew from the monastery. He dug a new cave for himself, then hid himself within it. There too, monks began to settle around him. Afterwards, the saint built a small wooden church in honor of the Dormition of the Mother of God over the Far Caves.

At the insistence of Prince Izyaslav, the igumen Barlaam withdrew to the Dimitriev monastery. With the blessing of St Anthony and with the general agreement of the brethren, the meek and humble Theodosius was chosen as igumen. By this time, the number of brethren had already reached a hundred men. The Kiev Great Prince Izyaslav (+ 1078) gave the monks the hill on which the large church and cells were built, with a palisade all around. Thus, the renowned monastery over the caves was established. Describing this, the chronicler remarks that while many monasteries were built by emperors and nobles, they could not compare with those which are built with holy prayers and tears, and by fasting and vigil. Although St Anthony had no gold, he built a monastery which became the first spiritual center of Rus.

For his holiness of life, God glorified St Anthony with the gift of clairvoyance and wonderworking. One example of this occurred during the construction of the Great Caves church. The Most Holy Theotokos Herself stood before him and St Theodosius in the Blachernae church in Constantinople, where they had been miraculously transported without leaving their own monastery. Actually, two angels appeared in Constantinople in their forms (See May 3, the account of the Kiev Caves Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos). Having received gold from the Mother of God, the saints commissioned master architects, who came from Constantinople to the Russian land on the command of the Queen of Heaven to build the church at the Monastery of the Caves. During this appearance, the Mother of God foretold the impending death of St Anthony, which occurred on July 10, 1073.

Through Divine Providence, the relics of St Anthony remain hidden.
Troparion - Tone 4

Having departed from worldly tumults,
In leaving the world you followed Christ according to the Gospel.
You reached the quiet refuge of the Holy Mount Athos,
Living there a life equal to the angels.
Therefore, with the blessing of the Fathers,
You came to the Kievan hills.
There having fulfilled a life loving of labors,
You illumined your homeland.
And having shown a multitude of monastics
The pathway leading to the heavenly kingdom,
You led them to Christ.
Beseech him, O Venerable Anthony,
That he may save our souls!

Kontakion - Tone 8

From your youth you gave yourself to God whom you loved above all, O Venerable One;
And in love you followed after him with your whole soul.
Scorning the passing corruption of the world, you made a cave in the earth;
And in it you struggled nobly facing the snares of the invisible enemy,
While illumining the ends of the earth like a bright, shining sun.
Therefore, with rejoicing you entered into the heavenly chambers.
Standing now before the throne of the Master together with the angels,
Remember us who honor your holy memory,
That we may cry out to you: Rejoice, Anthony our Holy Father!


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