Friday, February 28, 2014

Venerable John Cassian the Roman

Commemorated on February 28

Saint John Cassian the Roman was born around 360, probably in Lesser Scythia (in Dacia Pontica). His pious Christian parents gave him an excellent classical education, and also instructed him in the Holy Scriptures and in the spiritual life.

St John entered a monastery in the diocese of Tomis, where his friend and relative St Germanus labored as an ascetic. In 380, desiring to venerate the Holy Places, St John went to Jerusalem with his sister and his friend St Germanus. The two monks stayed at a Bethlehem monastery, not far from where the Savior was born.

After five years at the monastery, Sts John and Germanus traveled through the Thebaid and the desert monasteries of Sketis for seven years, drawing upon the spiritual experience of countless ascetics. The Egyptian monks taught them many useful things about spiritual struggles, prayer, and humility. Like honeybees they journeyed from place to place, gathering the sweet nectar of spiritual wisdom. The notes St John made formed the basis of his book called CONFERENCES WITH THE FATHERS in twenty-four chapters.

Returning to Bethlehem for a brief time, the spiritual brothers lived for three years in complete solitude. Then they went back to Egypt and lived there until 399. Because of the disturbances caused by Archbishop Theophilus of Alexandria to the monasteries along the Nile, they decided to go to Constantinople, after hearing of the virtue and holiness of St John Chrysostom. The great hierarch ordained St John Cassian as a deacon and accepted him as a disciple. John and Germanus remained with St John Chrysostom for five years, learning many profitable things from him.

When Chrysostom was exiled from Constantinople in 404, Sts John Cassian and Germanus went to Rome to plead his case before Innocent I. Cassian was ordained to the holy priesthood in Rome, or perhaps later in Gaul. After Chrysostom’s death in 407, St John Cassian went to Massilia [Marseilles] in Gaul (now France). There he established two cenobitic monasteries in 415, one for men and another for women, based on the model of Eastern monasticism.

At the request of Bishop Castor of Aptia Julia (in southern Gaul), Cassian wrote THE INSTITUTES OF CENOBITIC LIFE (De Institutis Coenobiorum) in twelve books, describing the life of the Palestinian and Egyptian monks. Written between 417-419, the volume included four books describing the clothing of the monks of Palestine and Egypt, their schedule of prayer and services, and how new monks were received into the monasteries.The last eight books were devoted to the eight deadly sins and how to overcome them. Through his writings, St John Cassian provided Christians of the West with examples of cenobitic monasteries, and acquainted them with the asceticism of the Orthodox East.

Cassian speaks as a spiritual guide about the purpose of life, about attaining discernment, about renunciation of the world, about the passions of the flesh and spirit, about the hardships faced by the righteous, and about prayer.

St John Cassian also wrote CONFERENCES WITH THE FATHERS (Collationes Patrum) in twenty-four books in the form of conversations about the perfection of love, about purity, about God’s help, about understanding Scripture, about the gifts of God, about friendship, about the use of language, about the four levels of monasticism, about the solitary life and cenobitic life, about repentance, about fasting, about nightly meditations, and about spiritual mortification. This last has the explanatory title “I do what I do not want to do.”

Books 1-10 of the CONFERENCES describe St John’s conversations with the Fathers of Sketis between 393-399. Books 11-17 relate conversations with the Fathers of Panephysis, and the last seven books are devoted to conversations with monks from the region of Diolkos.

In 431 St John Cassian wrote his final work, ON THE INCARNATION OF THE LORD, AGAINST NESTORIUS (De Incarnationem Domini Contra Nestorium). In seven books he opposed the heresy, citing many Eastern and Western teachers to support his arguments.

In his works, St John Cassian was grounded in the spiritual experience of the ascetics, and criticized the abstract reasoning of St Augustine (June 15). St John said that “grace is defended less adequately by pompous words and loquacious contention, dialectic syllogisms and the eloquence of Cicero (i.e. Augustine), than by the example of the Egyptian ascetics.” In the words of St John of the Ladder (March 30), “great Cassian reasons loftily and excellently.” His writings are also praised in the Rule of St Benedict.

St John Cassian lived in the West for many years, but his spiritual homeland was the Orthodox East. He fell asleep in the Lord in the year 435. His holy relics rest in an underground chapel in the Monastery of St Victor in Marseilles. His head and right hand are in the main church.


Having cleansed yourself through fasting, / You attained the understanding of wisdom, / And from the desert fathers You learned the restraint of the passions. / To this end through your prayers grant our flesh obedience to the spirit. / For you are the teacher, O venerable John Cassian, / Of all who in Christ praise your memory.


The image of God was truly preserved in you, O Father, / for you took up the Cross and followed Christ. / By so doing you taught us to disregard the flesh for it passes away / but to care instead for the soul, since it is immortal. / Therefore your spirit, venerable John Cassian, rejoices with the angels.


As a venerable monk, / You consecrated your life to God, / And radiant with virtue, O John Cassian, / You shine like the sun with the splendor of your divine teachings, / Illumining ever the hearts of all who honor you. / Entreat Christ earnestly in behalf of those / Who praise you with fervent love.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Venerable Thalelaeus the Hermit of Syria

Commemorated on February 27

Saint Thalelaeus lived during the fifth century. He was a native of Cilicia (Asia Minor), became a monk at the monastery of St Sava the Sanctified, and was ordained presbyter there. Later on, he moved to Syria, not far from the city of Habala, he found a dilapidated pagan temple surrounded by graves, and he settled there in a tent. This place had a rough reputation, since the unclean spirits residing there frightened travellers and caused them much harm.

Here the monk lived, praying day and night in total solitude. The demons often assailed the saint, trying to terrify him with sights and sounds. But by the power of God the saint ultimately gained victory over the power of the Enemy, after which he was troubled no more. He then intensified his efforts even more: he built a hut, so cramped that it was just possible to get into it, and only with an effort was it possible to raise his head. He lived there for about ten years.

The Lord granted to the ascetic the gift of wonderworking, and his miracles helped him to enlighten the pagan inhabitants. With the help of the inhabitants he converted to Christianity, he demolished the pagan temple, building a church where there were daily services.

St Thalelaeus died in old age in about the year 460. In the book entitled Leimonarion or Pratum [The Meadow], a composition of the Greek monk John Moschus (+ 622). St Thalelaeus is mentioned: “Abba Thalelaeus was a monk for sixty years and with tears never ceased saying, ‘Brethren, God has given us this time for repentance, and we must seek after Him’” (Ch. 59).


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

St Tarasius the Archbishop of Constantinople

Commemorated on February 25

Saint Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople was of illustrious lineage. He was born and raised in Constantinople, where he received a fine education. He was rapidly promoted at the court of the emperor Constantine VI Porphyrogenitos (780-797) and Constantine’s mother, the holy Empress Irene (August 7), and the saint attained the rank of senator.

During these times the Church was agitated by the turmoil of the Iconoclast disturbances. The holy Patriarch Paul (August 30) although he had formerly supported Iconoclasm, later repented and resigned his office. He withdrew to a monastery, where he took the schema. When the holy Empress Irene and her son the emperor came to him, St Paul told them that the most worthy successor to him would be St Tarasius (who at this time was still a layman).

Tarasius refused for a long time, not considering himself worthy of such high office, but he then gave in to the common accord on the condition that an Ecumenical Council be convened to address the Iconoclast heresy.

Proceeding through all the clerical ranks in a short while, St Tarasius was elevated to the patriarchal throne in the year 784. In the year 787 the Seventh Ecumenical Council was convened in the city of Nicea, with Patriarch Tarasius presiding, and 367 bishops attending. The veneration of holy icons was confirmed at the council. Those bishops who repented of their iconoclasm, were again received by the Church.

St Tarasius wisely governed the Church for twenty-two years. He led a strict ascetic life. He spent all his money on God-pleasing ends, feeding and giving comfort to the aged, to the impoverished, to widows and orphans, and on Holy Pascha he set out a meal for them, and he served them himself.

The holy Patriarch fearlessly denounced the emperor Constantine Porphyrigenitos when he slandered his spouse, the empress Maria, the granddaughter of St Philaretos the Merciful (December 1), so that he could send Maria to a monastery, thus freeing him to marry his own kinswoman. St Tarasius resolutely refused to dissolve the marriage of the emperor, for which the saint fell into disgrace. Soon, however, Constantine was deposed by his own mother, the Empress Irene.

St Tarasius died in the year 806. Before his death, devils examined his life from the time of his youth, and they tried to get the saint to admit to sins that he had not committed. “I am innocent of that of which you accuse me,” replied the saint, “and you falsely slander me. You have no power over me at all.”

Mourned by the Church, the saint was buried in a monastery he built on the Bosphorus. Many miracles took place at his tomb.

Troparion - Tone 4
You appeared to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence.  Because of your lowliness, Heaven was opened to you. Because of your poverty, riches were granted to you.O holy bishop, Tarasius, pray to Christ our God to save our souls!
Troparion - Tone 3
You shone forth as a light of the Spirit, adorned with an exemplary life and clothed in hierarchical vesture.You stilled the turbulence of heresy and became a pillar and foundation of the Church, which praises your struggles, holy Father Tarasius.
Kontakion - Tone 3
You illumined the Church with Orthodox doctrine and taught all to venerate and honor the precious image of Christ. You vanquished the godless doctrine of the iconoclasts.  Therefore we cry to you: "Rejoice, wise Father Tarasius."


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Venerable Erasmus of the Kiev Near Caves

Commemorated on February 24

Saint Erasmus of the Kiev Caves St Simon, Bishop of Vladimir (May 10), wrote about him to his friend St Polycarp (July 24): “At the Caves was Erasmus the black-robed. He acquired a legacy of fame because he used everything he possessed for the adornment of the monastery church. He donated many icons, which even now may be seen over the altar.

The saint experienced great temptations after he had given away his wealth. The Evil One began to suggest to him that he should have given the money to the poor, rather than spend it on the beautification of the church. St Erasmus did not understand such thoughts, so he fell into despondency and began to live in a careless manner. Because of his former virtue the gracious and merciful God saved him. He sent him a grievous illness, and the monk lay near death.

In this sickness Erasmus lay for seven days, unable to see or speak, and hardly breathing. On the eighth day the brethren came to him and, seeing the difficulty of his approaching death, said, “Woe to the soul of this brother, for he lived in idleness and in sin. Now his soul beholds something and tarries, not having the strength to leave the body.”

Erasmus suddenly got up, as though he had not been ill, and said to the monks, “Fathers and brethren! It is true that I am a sinner, and have not repented, as you said. Today, however, our monastic fathers Anthony and Theodosius have appeared to me, and said: ‘We have prayed for you, and the Lord has given you time for repentance.’ Then I saw the All-Pure Mother of God with Christ in Her arms, and She said to me, ‘Erasmus, since you adorned My Church with icons, I will also adorn you and exalt you in the Kingdom of my Son! Arise, repent, take the angelic schema, and on the third day you will be taken from this life.’
Having said this, Erasmus began to confess his sins before all without shame, then went to church and was clothed in the schema, and on the third day he died.” St Erasmus was buried in the Near Caves. His memory is also celebrated on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Venerable Polychronius, Ascetic of the Syrian Deserts

Commemorated on February 23

Saint Polychronius lived in Syria in the fifth century. He was the disciple of St Zebinas, and imitated the life of his Elder, spending both day and night in fasting and vigil. St Polychronius had no chains, but he dug up a heavy oaken root from the earth and carried it on his shoulders when he prayed. St Polychronius asked God to send rain during a drought, and he filled up a stone vessel with oil for the needy. 


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

9 Martyred brothers of Kola: Guram, Adarnerse, Baqar, Vache, Bardzim, Dachi, Juansher, Ramaz, and Parsman

Commemorated on February 22

Many centuries ago, the village of Kola was located at the source of the Mtkvari River. There Christians and pagans dwelt together as neighbors. Christian and pagan children would play together, but when the Christian children heard church bells ringing, they recognized the call to
prayer and dropped their games. Nine pagan children—Guram, Adarnerse, Baqar, Vache, Bardzim, Dachi, Juansher, Ramaz, and Parsman—would follow the Christian children to church.

But the Christians always stopped them near the gates of the church and reprimanded them, saying, “You are children of pagans. You cannot enter God’s holy house.” They would return sorry and dejected.

One day the nine pagan children tried to enter the church forcibly, but they were cast out and scolded. “If you want to enter the church, you must believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” they were told. “You must receive Holy Communion and join the community of Christian believers.”

With great joy the youths promised the Christians that they would receive Holy Baptism. When the Christians of Kola related to their priest the good news of the pagan boys’ desire, he recalled the words of the Gospel: He that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that takes not his cross, and follows after Me, is not worthy of Me. (Matt. 10:37-38).

He was not afraid of the anger that would follow from the pagan community, but rather took the boys on a cold winter night and baptized them in the icy river. A miracle occurred while the Holy Sacrament was being celebrated: the water became warm and angelic hosts appeared to the youths. Greatly encouraged in their faith, the children decided to remain in the Christian community rather than return to their parents.

When their parents learned that they had been baptized in the Christian Faith, they dragged their children away from the church, abusing and beating them into submission all the way home. The heroic children endured the abuses and, though they went hungry and thirsty for seven days, repeated again and again, “We are Christians and will not eat or drink anything that was prepared for idols!”

Neither gentle flattery, nor costly clothing, nor promises of good things to come could tempt the God-fearing youths. Rather they asserted, “We are Christians and want nothing from you but to leave us alone and allow us to join the Christian community!”

The enraged parents went and reported to the prince everything that had happened. But the prince was of no help—he simply told them, “They are your children, do with them as you wish.” The obstinate pagans asked the prince permission to stone the children. So a large pit was dug where the youths had been baptized, and the children were thrown inside.

“We are Christians, and we will die for Him into Whom we have been baptized!” proclaimed the holy martyrs, the Nine Children of Kola, before offering up their souls to God.

Their godless parents took up stones, and then others joined in, until the entire pit had been filled. They beat the priest to death, robbed him, and divided the spoils among themselves.

The martyric contest of the Nine Righteous Children of Kola occurred in the 6th century, in the historical region of Tao in southern Georgia.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Friday, February 21, 2014

St Zachariah, Patriarch of Jerusalem

Saint Zacharias, Patriarch of Jerusalem, lived from the end of the sixth to the early seventh centuries. He became Patriarch of Jerusalem in 609. In the year 614 the Persian emperor Chosroes fell upon Jerusalem, looted it, and led many Christians into captivity, including St Zacharias.

Chosroes also captured the Life-Creating Cross of Christ. During the invasion, as many as 90,000 Christians perished. Afterwards Chosroes was compelled to sue for peace with the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius (610-641). The Cross of the Lord was returned to Jerusalem. The Christian captives who remained alive also were returned, among them Patriarch Zacharias, who died peacefully in the year 633.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Beheading of the Venerable Cornelius the Abbot of the Pskov Caves

Commemorated on February 20

The Hieromartyr Cornelius of the Pskov Caves was born in the year 1501 at Pskov into the noble family of Stephen and Maria. In order to give their son an education, his parents sent him to the Pskov Mirozh monastery, where he worked under the guidance of an Elder. He made candles, chopped wood, studied his letters, transcribed and adorned books, and also painted icons. Having finished his studies, Cornelius returned to his parental home with the resolve to become a monk.

Once, the government clerk Misiur Munekhin took Cornelius with him to the Pskov Caves monastery in the woods, which then was in the worst condition of any church in Pskov. The beauty of nature, and the solemnity of services in the cave church produced such a strong impression on Cornelius that he left his parental home forever and received monastic tonsure at the Pskov Caves monastery.

In 1529, at the age of twenty-eight, St Cornelius was made igumen and became head of the monastery. While he was igumen, the Pskov Caves monastery reached its prime. The number of brethren increased from 15 to 200 men. This number of monks was not surpassed under any subsequent head of the monastery.

The activity of St Cornelius extended far beyond the bounds of the monastery. He spread Orthodoxy among the Esti [Aesti]) and Saeti people living around the monastery, he built churches, hospices, homes for orphans and those in need. During a terrible plague in the Pskov region St Cornelius walked through the plague-infested villages to give Communion to the living and to sing burial services for the dead.

During the Livonian war St Cornelius preached Christianity in the occupied cities, built churches, and distributed generous aid from the monastery storerooms to the Esti and Livonians suffering from the war. At the monastery he selflessly doctored and fed the injured and the maimed, preserved the dead in the caves, and inscribed their names in the monastery Synodikon for eternal remembrance.

In the year 1560, on the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, St Cornelius sent a prosphora and holy water as blessing for the Russian armies besieging the city of Thellin. On that very day the Germans surrendered the city.

In 1570 when a See was established in Livonian Yuriev, a certain igumen Cornelius was appointed as Bishop of Yuriev and Velyansk (i.e., Thellin). Some have identified him with St Cornelius, but this does not correspond with actual events.

St Cornelius was a great lover of books, and at the monastery there was quite a collection of books. In 1531 his work entitled, "An Account of the Origin of the Pechersk Monastery" appeared. In the mid-sixteenth century the Pskov Caves monastery took over the tradition of writing chronicles from the Spaso-Eleaszar monastery.

At the start of the chronicles were accounts of the first two Pskov chronicles from 1547 to 1567. Besides this, Igumen Cornelius left behind a great monastery Synodikon for remembering the deceased brothers and benefactors of the monastery, and from the year 1588 he began to maintain the "Stern Book" ["Kormovaya kniga." Since the rear of a ship is called the stern, the sense of the title is "looking back in remembrance"]. He also compiled a "Description of the Monastery" and a "Description of the Miracles of the Pechersk Icon of the Mother of God."

St Cornelius expanded and beautified the monastery, he further enlarged the monastery caves, he moved the wooden church of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste beyond the monastery enclosure to the monastery gate, and on its site he built a church in the name of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos in the year 1541. In 1559, he constructed a church dedicated to the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos.

The Caves monastery, on the frontier of the Russian state, was not only a beacon of Orthodoxy, but also a bulwark against the external enemies of Russia.

In 1558-1565, St Cornelius built a massive stone wall around the monastery, and over the holy gates, he built a stone church dedicated to St Nicholas, entrusting the protection of the monastery to him. In the church was a sculpted wooden icon of "Nicholas the Warrior."

In the chronicle compiled by the hierodeacon Pitirim, the martyric death of St Cornelius was recorded: "This blessed Igumen Cornelius ... was igumen forty-one years and two months. Not only as a monk, but also by his fasting and holy life, he was an image of salvation ... in these times there was much unrest in the Russian land. Finally, the earthly Tsar (Ivan the Terrible) sent him from this corruptible life to the Heavenly King in the eternal habitations, on February 20, 1570, in his 69th year." (This information is on a ceramic plate, from the ceramics covering the mouth of the tomb of St Cornelius).

In the ancient manuscripts of the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra it was written that Igumen Cornelius came out from the monastery gates with a cross to meet the Tsar. Ivan the Terrible, angered by a false slander, beheaded him with his own hands, but then immediately repented of his deed, and carried the body to the monastery. The pathway made scarlet by the blood of St Cornelius, along which the Tsar carried his body to the Dormition church, became known as the "Bloody Path." Evidence of the Tsar's repentance was the generous recompense he made to the Pskov Caves monastery after the death of St Cornelius. The name of the igumen Cornelius was inscribed in the Tsar's Synodikon.

The body of St Cornelius was set into the wall of "the cave formed by God," where it remained for 120 years without corruption. In the year 1690, Metropolitan Marcellus of Pskov and Izborsk, had the relics transferred from the cave to the Dormition cathedral church and placed in a new crypt in the wall.

On December 17, 1872 the relics of St Cornelius were transferred from the former tomb into a copper-silver reliquary. They were placed into a new reliquary in 1892. It is presumed that the service to the martyr was composed for the Uncovering of the Relics in the year 1690.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Philothei the Righteous Martyr of Athens

February 19

Saint Philothei was born in Athens in 1522 to an illustrious family. Against her will, she was married to a man who proved to be most cruel. When he died three years later, the Saint took up the monastic life and established a convent, in which she became a true mother to her disciples. Many women enslaved and abused by the Moslem Turks also ran to her for refuge. Because of this, the Turkish rulers became enraged and came to her convent, dragged her by force out of the church, and beat her cruelly. After a few days, she reposed, giving thanks to God for all things. This came to pass in the year 1589. She was renowned for her almsgiving, and with Saints Hierotheus and Dionysius the Areopagite is considered a patron of the city of Athens.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone
The famed city of Athens doth honour Philothei, the righteous Martyr, whose relics it now revereth with joy; for while living in sobriety and holiness, she hath exchanged all earthly things for the everlasting life through great contests as a Martyr; and she entreateth the Saviour to grant His mercy unto all of us.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
We all honour Philothei with jubilation of spirit, as this day we rev'rently worship her ven'rable relics. For she lived her whole life working kindness and mercy; and the righteous one, receiving a martyr's ending, is deemed worthy to entreat God that all be granted eternal life with the Saints.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Icon of the Mother of God Weeping “Tikhvin” on Mt Athos

Commemorated on February 17

The Weeping Tikhvin Icon of Mt. Athos is to be found behind the altar in the Prophet Elias Skete. On February 17, 1877 (Thursday of the Second Week of Lent) seven monks remained in the church after the Hours had been read. They were astonished to see tears flowing from the right eye of the icon, and collecting on the frame. Then a single large tear came from the left eye.

The monks wiped the tears from the icon’s face, then left the church and locked the doors behind them. Three hours later, they returned for Vespers and saw traces of tears on the icon, and a single tear in the left eye. Again they wiped the tears from the icon, but they did not reappear.

Regarding this manifestation of tears as a sign of mercy from the Mother of God, the monks established an annual commemoration of the icon on February 17. The weeping Tikhvin Icon of Mt. Athos is not to be confused with the original wonderworking Tikhvin Icon (June 26).


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

St Nicholas, Equal of the Apostles and Archbishop of Japan

Commemorated on February 16

Saint Nicholas, Enlightener of Japan Ivan Dimitrievich Kasatkin was born on August 1, 1836 in the village of Berezovsk, Belsk district, Smolensk diocese, where his father served as deacon. At the age of five he lost his mother. He completed the Belsk religious school, and afterwards the Smolensk Theological Seminary. In 1857 Ivan Kasatkin entered the Saint Peterburg Theological Academy. On June 24, 1860, in the academy temple of the Twelve Apostles, Bishop Nectarius tonsured him with the name Nicholas.

On June 29, the Feast of the foremost Apostles Peter and Paul, the monk Nicholas was ordained deacon. The next day, on the altar feast of the academy church, he was ordained to the holy priesthood. Later, at his request, Father Nicholas was assigned to Japan as head of the consular church in the city of Hakodate.

At first, the preaching of the Gospel in Japan seemed completely impossible. In Father Nicholas’s own words: “the Japanese of the time looked upon foreigners as beasts, and on Christianity as a villainous sect, to which only villains and sorcerers could belong.” He spent eight years in studying the country, the language, manners and customs of the people among whom he would preach.

In 1868, the flock of Father Nicholas numbered about twenty Japanese. At the end of 1869 Hieromonk Nicholas reported in person to the Synod in Peterburg about his work. A decision was made, on January 14, 1870, to form a special Russian Spiritual Mission for preaching the Word of God among the pagan Japanese. Father Nicholas was elevated to the rank of archimandrite and appointed as head of this Mission.

Returning to Japan after two years in Russia, he transferred some of the responsibility for the Hakodate flock to Hieromonk Anatolius, and began his missionary work in Tokyo. In 1871 there was a persecution of Christians in Hakodate. Many were arrested (among them, the first Japanese Orthodox priest Paul Sawabe). Only in 1873 did the persecution abate somewhat, and the free preaching of Christianity became possible.

In this year Archimandrite Nicholas began the construction of a stone building in Tokyo which housed a church, a school for fifty men, and later a religious school, which became a seminary in 1878.

In 1874, Bishop Paul of Kamchatka arrived in Tokyo to ordain as priests several Japanese candidates recommended by Archimandrite Nicholas. At the Tokyo Mission, there were four schools: for catechists, for women, for church servers, and a seminary. At Hakodate there were two separate schools for boys and girls.

In the second half of 1877, the Mission began regular publication of the journal “Church Herald.” By the year 1878 there were already 4115 Christians in Japan, and there were a number of Christian communities. Church services and classes in Japanese, the publication of religious and moral books permitted the Mission to attain such results in a short time. Archimandrite Nicholas petitioned the Holy Synod in December of 1878 to provide a bishop for Japan.

Archimandrite Nicholas was consecrated bishop on March 30, 1880 in the Trinity Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky Lavra. Returning to Japan, he resumed his apostolic work with increased fervor. He completed construction on the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Tokyo, he translated the service books, and compiled a special Orthodox theological dictionary in the Japanese language.

Great hardship befell the saint and his flock at the time of the Russo-Japanese War. For his ascetic labor during these difficult years, he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop.

In 1911, half a century had passed since the young hieromonk Nicholas had first set foot on Japanese soil. At that time there were 33,017 Christians in 266 communities of the Japanese Orthodox Church, including 1 Archbishop, 1 bishop, 35 priests, 6 deacons, 14 singing instructors, and 116 catechists.

On February 3, 1912, Archbishop Nicholas departed peacefully to the Lord at the age of seventy-six. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church glorified him on April 10, 1970, since the saint had long been honored in Japan as a righteous man, and a prayerful intercessor before the Lord.


O holy saint Nicholas / The enlightener of Japan, / You share a dignity and the throne of the Apostles; / You are a wise and faithful servant of Christ, / A temple chosen by the Divine Spirit, / A vessel overflowing with the love of Christ. / O hierarch equal to the Apostles, / Pray to the Life-Creating Trinity / For all your flock and for the whole world.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Venerable Paphnutius the Recluse of the Kiev Caves

Saint Paphnutius had the gift of tears, which St John of the Ladder says (Step 6:1) is preceded by the remembrance of death. For worldly people, this remembrance may lead to fear and distress, but for St Paphnutius it led to constant prayer and the guarding of his mind.

By remembering the hour of death and God’s judgment, St Paphnutius was able to free himself from worldly distractions and passions through prayer, repentance and fasting. This, in turn, led to tears.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Venerable Maron the Hermit of Syria

Commemorated on February 14

Saint Maron was born in the fourth century near the city of Cyrrhus in Syria. He spent almost all his time beneath the open sky in prayer, vigil, ascetical works and strict fasting. He obtained from God the gift of healing the sick and casting out demons. He counselled those who turned to him for advice to be temperate, to be concerned for their salvation, and to guard against avarice and anger.

St Maron, a friend of St John Chrysostom, died before 423 at an advanced age.

Some of St Maron’s disciples were James the Hermit (November 26), Limnius (February 23), and Domnina (March 1). St Maron founded many monasteries around Cyrrhus, and converted a pagan temple near Antioch into a Christian church.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Martinian of Palestine

February 13

Saint Martinian, who was from Caesarea of Palestine, flourished about the beginning of the fifth century. He struggled in the wilderness from his youth. After he had passed twenty-five years in asceticism, the devil brought a temptation upon him through a harlot, who when she heard the Saint praised for his virtue, determined to try his virtue, or rather, to undo it. Coming to his cell by night as it rained, and saying she had lost her way, she begged with pitiful cries to be admitted in for the night, lest she fall prey to wild beasts. Moved with compassion, and not wishing to be guilty of her death should anything befall her, he allowed her to enter. When she began to seduce him, and the fire of desire began to burn in his heart, he kindled a fire and stepped into it, burning his body, but saving his soul from the fire of Gehenna. And she, brought to her senses by this, repented, and, following his counsel, went to Bethlehem to a certain virgin named Paula, with whom she lived in fasting and prayer; before her death, she was deemed worthy of the gift of wonder-working. Saint Martinian, when he recovered from the burning, resolved to go to some more solitary place, and took a ship to a certain island, where he struggled in solitude for a number of years. Then a young maiden who had suffered a shipwreck came ashore on his island. Not wishing to fall into temptation again, he departed, and passed his remaining time as a wanderer, coming to the end of his life in Athens.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Thou didst quench the flame of temptation with the streams of thy tears, O blessed Martinian; and having checked the waves of the sea and the attacks of wild beasts, thou didst cry out: Most glorious art Thou, O Almighty One, Who hast saved me from fire and tempest.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
As is meet, let us praise with hymns the ever-venerable Martinian as a tried ascetic that struggled for piety, as an honorable athlete by deliberate choice, and a resolute citizen and inhabitant of the desert; for he hath trodden upon the serpent.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Icon of the Mother of God “Iveron”

Commemorated on February 12

During the reign of Emperor Theophilus (829-842) the Byzantine Empire raged with the heresy of iconoclasm. In accordance with the emperor’s command, thousands of soldiers pillaged the empire, searching every corner, city, and village for hidden icons.

Near the city of Nicaea there lived a certain pious widow who had concealed an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. Before long the soldiers discovered it, and one of them thrust his spear into the image.

But by God’s grace his terrible deed was overshadowed by a miracle: blood flowed forth from the wound on the face of the Mother of God.

The frightened soldiers quickly fled.

The widow spent the whole night in vigil, praying before the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. In the morning, according to God’s will, she took the icon to the sea and cast it upon the water. The holy icon stood upright on the waves and began to sail westward.

Time passed, and one evening the monks of the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos beheld a pillar of light, shining upon the sea like the sun (ca. 1004). The miraculous image lasted several days, while the fathers of the Holy Mountain gathered together, marveling. Finally they descended to the edge of the sea, where they beheld the pillar of light standing above the icon of the Theotokos. But when they approached it, the icon moved farther out to sea.

At that time a Georgian monk named Gabriel was laboring at the Iveron Monastery. The Theotokos appeared to the fathers of the Holy Mountain and told them that Gabriel alone was worthy to retrieve the holy icon from the sea. At the same time, she appeared to Gabriel and told him, “Enter the sea, and walk out upon the waves with faith, and all will witness my love and mercy for your monastery.”

The monks of Mt. Athos found Gabriel at the Georgian monastery and led him down to the sea, chanting hymns, and censing with holy incense. Gabriel walked out upon the water as though upon dry land, took the icon in his arms, and obediently carried it back to shore.

This miracle occurred on Bright Tuesday.

While the monks were celebrating a paraklesis of thanksgiving, a cold, sweet spring miraculously gushed forth from the ground where the icon stood. Afterwards they took the icon to a church and set it down in the sanctuary with great reverence.

But the next morning one of the monks came to light a lamp and discovered that the icon was no longer where they had left it; now it was hanging on a wall near the entrance gate. The disbelieving monks took it down and returned it to the sanctuary, but the next day the icon was again found at the monastery gate. This miracle recurred several times, until the Most Holy Virgin appeared to Gabriel, saying, “Announce to the brothers that from this day they should not carry me away. For what I desire is not to be protected by you; rather I will overshadow you, both in this life and in the age to come. As long as you see my icon in the monastery, the grace and mercy of my Son shall never be lacking!”

Filled with exceeding joy, the monks erected a small church near the monastery gate to glorify the Most Holy Theotokos and placed the wonder-working icon inside. The holy icon came to be known as the “Iveron Mother of God” and, in Greek, Portaitissa. By the grace of the miraculous Iveron Icon of the Theotokos, many miracles have taken place and continue to take place throughout the world.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Princess Anna of Novgorod

Commemorated on February 10

The Holy Princess Anna of Novgorod, wife of Great Prince Yaroslav the Wise, gave her children a true Christian upbringing, marked by a strong faith in God, love of work, integrity and learning.
Her son Mstislav later became Great Prince of Kiev, and her daughter the queen of a western European realm. St Anna left the world and went into a monastery, where she ended her days in strict obedience and prayer in the year 1056.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Saturday, February 08, 2014

The Holy Prophet Zacharias (Zachariah)

February 8

The Prophet Zacharias was the son of Barachias, and a contemporary of the Prophet Aggeus (Dec. 16). In the days of the Babylonian captivity, he prophesied, as it says, in the book of Ezra, "to the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem" (Ezra 5: 1); he aided Zerubbabel in the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. In the book of Ezra he is called "Zacharias the son of Addo (or Iddo)" but in his own prophetic book he is called more fully "Zacharias, the son of Barachias, the son of Addo the Prophet" (Zach. 1:1). When the captives returned from Babylon, he came to dwell in Jerusalem in his old age. His book of prophecy is divided into fourteen chapters and has the eleventh place among the books of the minor Prophets; his name means "Yah is renowned." Sozomen reports that under the Emperor Honorius, Zacharias' holy relics were found in Eleutheropolis of Palestine. The Prophet appeared in a dream to a certain Calemerus, telling him where he would find his tomb. His body was found to be incorrupt (Eccl. Hist., Book IX, 17).

Apolytikion in the Second Tone
As we celebrate the memory of Thy Prophet Zacharias, O Lord, through him we beseech Thee to save our souls.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
As a brightly-shining lamp that was illumined with the Spirit's fiery beams, O Zacharias most renowned, thou didst prefigure with clarity the Savior's great and untold condescension toward us.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Friday, February 07, 2014

Luke of Mount Stirion

February 7

Saint Luke was the descendant of a family from Aegina which, because of the frequent invasions of the Saracens, left Aegina and dwelt in Phocis, where the Saint was born in 896. From his earliest childhood Luke ate neither flesh, nor cheese, nor eggs, but gave himself over with his whole soul to hardship and fasting for the love of heavenly blessings, often giving away his clothing to the poor, for which his father punished him. After his father's death he secretly left home to become a monk, but the Lord, inclining to the fervent prayers of his mother, made him known, and he returned to her for a time to care for her. For many years he lived as a hermit, moving from place to place; he spent the last part of his life on Mount Stirion at Phocis, where there is a city named Stiris. The grace of God that was in him made him a wonder-worker, and his tomb in the monastery of Hosios Loukas, famous for its mosaics, became a source of healings and place of pilgrimage for the faithful. According to some he reposed in the year 946; according to others, in 953.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
O God of our Fathers, ever dealing with us according to Thy gentleness: take not Thy mercy from us, but by their entreaties guide our life in peace.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
God, Who by judgments known to Him chose thee ere thou wast formed that thou, O Luke, mightest be right well-pleasing unto Him, from the womb made thee His own and He sanctified thee; as His own true faithful servant hath He shown thee forth and hath set aright thy footsteps, ever guiding thee as the Friend of man; thou rejoicest before Him now.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Thursday, February 06, 2014

St Bucolus the Bishop of Smyrna

Commemorated on February 6

Saint Bucolus, Bishop of Smyrna, was a disciple of the holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, and became the first Bishop of Smyrna (Asia Minor).

By the grace of God, St Bucolus converted many of the pagans to Christ and baptized them. As a wise and experienced guide, he defended his flock from the darkness of heresy.

He died in peace between the years 100-105. He entrusted his flock to St Polycarp (February 23), one of the Apostolic Fathers, who was also a disciple of the holy Apostle John the Theologian. At the grave of St Bucolus grew a myrtle tree, which healed the sick.


You shone with the rays of virtue / received from him who leaned on the Master’s breast. / Resplendent, God-inspired hierarch, / you led your flock to the pastures of truth. / Entreat Christ our God for those who honor you, father Bucolus.


He who was beloved of Christ / saw the purity of your life; / he made you a shepherd of the Church / and a radiant lamp of godliness. / Holy father Bucolus, / you truly emulated his virtues.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Icon of the Mother of God “the Seeker of the Lost”

Commemorated on February 5

“Seeker of the Perishing” Icon of the Mother of God

From time immemorial the Russian people, with faith in the all-powerful help of the Most Holy Theotokos, considered the title “Seeker of the Perishing” to refer not only to those who are dying, but to those whose souls are in danger of spiritual death.

There are no reliable accounts of the origin of the icon, “Seeker of the Perishing.” There are, however, several wonderworking icons of this name, through which the Theotokos showed forth Her mercy to people on the very brink of death.

In the mid-eighteenth century, in the village of Bor of Kaluga governance, the pious peasant Thedotus Obukhov lost his way in a blizzard on the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism. The horse became exhausted and paused on the edge of an impassable ravine. Not seeing any way to save himself, Obukhov lay down in his sleigh, where he began to freeze.

In these terrible moments he prayed with all his being to the Queen of Heaven for help, and he vowed that if he was rescued he would have a “Seeker of the Perishing” icon painted and donate it to the local church. She heard his prayer and helped him in a marvelous way. A certain peasant in the nearby village heard a voice outside his window saying, “Take him.” He went out and saw the half-frozen Obukhov on his sleigh. When he recovered his health, Obukhov immediately fulfilled his vow and commissioned a copy of the icon from the St George church in the city of Bolkhov in the Orlov governance. From that time the Bor “Seeker of the Perishing” Icon was glorified by many manifestations of grace and miracles.

There are other “Seeker of the Perishing” Icons: one manifested itself in 1770 in the village of Malizhino in Kharkov governance, and delivered the people from cholera three times; there was another in the village of Krasnoe in Chernigov governance, and another from Voronezh and Kozlov in Tambov governance. In the year 1835, at the Moscow Alexandrov Orphanage Institute, a church was consecrated in honor of the “Seeker of the Perishing” Icon.

Of particular interest is the “Seeker of the Perishing” Icon in the Church of the Glorious Resurrection in Moscow. This icon had been transferred from the church of the Nativity of Christ to the Palashevska alley. Its final owner had become widowed and was on the verge of complete poverty.

Fervent prayer to the Most Holy Theotokos saved him from despair and arranged matters for his daughters. This man felt that he was not worthy to have this wonderworking icon in his house, so he gave it to the church.

In 1812 the Palashevsk church was pillaged by the French. The desecrated icon was found broken into three pieces among the rubble. With the finding of the icon, numerous miracles of healing took place. Brides entering into marriage pray before this icon that their marriage might be a happy one. People come to it, overwhelmed by drunkenness, perishing in poverty, suffering in illness, and they turn to the Icon in prayer as to a Mother with Her perishing children.

The Queen of Heaven sends down help and support for all: “Seek us who are perishing, O Most Holy Virgin, chasten us not according to our sins, but as you are merciful in your love for mankind, have pity, deliver us from hell, sickness and necessity, and save us” (Troparion, Tone 4).


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Venerable Nicholas the Confessor the Abbot of Studion

Commemorated on February 4

Saint Nicholas the Confessor, Igumen of the Studion Monastery, lived during the ninth century. He was born on the island of Crete in the village of Kedonia into a Christian family. When he was ten, his parents sent him to Constantinople to his uncle, St Theophanes (October 11), who was a monk at the Studion monastery. With the approval of St Theodore (November 11), the head of the Studion monastery, the boy was enrolled in the monastery school. When he finished school at sixteen years of age, he was tonsured a monk. After several years, he was ordained a priest.

During this time there was a fierce persecution, initiated by the Byzantine emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820), against those who venerated the holy icons. St Nicholas and St Theodore the Studite were repeatedly locked up in prison, tortured in various ways, and humiliated.
However, they zealously continued to defend Orthodoxy.
Under the holy Empress Theodora (February 11), who ruled the realm while her son Michael was still a minor, icon veneration was restored, and a time of relative peace followed. St Nicholas returned to the Studite monastery and was chosen its head. But this calm did not last very long.

The Empress Theodora was removed from the throne, and the emperor’s uncle, Bardas, a man who defiled himself by open cohabitation with his son’s wife, came to power. The attempts of Patriarch Ignatius (October 23) to restrain the impiety of Bardas proved unsuccessful. On the contrary, he was deposed from the patriarchal throne and sent into exile.

Unwilling to witness the triumph of iniquity, St Nicholas left Constantinople. He spent seven years at various monasteries. Later on, he returned as a prisoner to the Studite monastery, where he spent two years imprisoned, until the death of the emperor Michael (855-867) and Bardas. When the emperor Basil I the Macedonian (867-886) ascended the throne, St Nicholas was set free, and again became igumen on the orders of the emperor. Because of his life as a confessor and ascetic he received from God the gift of healing, which continued even after his repose in the year 868.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Monday, February 03, 2014

Martyr Blaise of Caesarea, in Cappadocia

Commemorated on February 3

Saint Blaise of Caesarea lived in the third century. He was from Caesarea in Cappadocia (Asia Minor) and was a shepherd.

When a persecution against Christians began, St Blaise surrendered himself into the hands of the torturers. They subjected him to torture, and beat him with leather thongs, but the Lord healed his wounds. They then threw Blaise into a cauldron of boiling water, but he remained there unharmed. The pagan soldiers, seeing this miracle, came to believe in Christ.

The governor, wishing to show that the martyr remained unharmed because the water had cooled, jumped into the cauldron and died.

Having brought many to faith in Christ, St Blaise peacefully surrendered his soul to God. They thrust the saint’s shepherd’s staff into the ground, and it grew up into a large tree, which covered with its branches a church built over his relics.


Your holy martyr Blaise, O Lord, / through his suffering has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God. / For having Your strength, he laid low his adversaries, / and shattered the powerless boldness of demons. / Through his intercessions, save our souls!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Sunday of Zacchaeus

Commemorated on February 2

The paschal season of the Church is preceded by the season of Great Lent, which is also preceded by its own liturgical preparation. The first sign of the approach of Great Lent comes five Sundays before its beginning. On this Sunday the Gospel reading is about Zacchaeus the tax-collector. It tells how Christ brought salvation to the sinful man, and how his life was changed simply because he “sought to see who Jesus was” (Luke 19:3). The desire and effort to see Jesus begins the entire movement through Lent towards Pascha. It is the first movement of salvation.

Our lenten journey begins with a recognition of our own sinfulness, just as Zacchaeus recognized his. He promised to make restitution by giving half of his wealth to the poor, and by paying to those he had falsely accused four times as much as they had lost. In this, he went beyond the requirements of the Law (Ex. 22:3-12).

The example of Zacchaeus teaches us that we should turn away from our sins, and atone for them. The real proof of our sorrow and repentance is not just a verbal apology, but when we correct ourselves and try to make amends for the consequences of our evil actions.

We are also assured of God’s mercy and compassion by Christ’s words to Zacchaeus, “Today salvation is come to this house” (Luke 19:9). After the Great Doxology at Sunday Matins (when the Tone of the week is Tone 1, 3, 5, 7) we sing the Dismissal Hymn of the Resurrection “Today salvation has come to the world,” which echoes the Lord’s words to Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus was short, so he climbed a tree in order to see the Lord. All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). We are also short in our spiritual stature, therefore we must climb the ladder of the virtues. In other words, we must prepare for spiritual effort and growth.

St Zacchaeus is also commemorated on April 20.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Holy Martyrs Perpetua, Felicitas and Saturus, the servants Felicitas, Revocatus, Saturninus and Secundulus, who were also Catechumens.

Commemorated on February 1

The Holy Martyrs Perpetua, Felicitas and those with them. Vibia Perpetua was from a patrician family, and lived in Carthage. She came to believe in Christ, and was baptized after her arrest as a Christian. A few days later, the twenty-two-year-old woman was taken to prison with her infant son. Arrested with her were her brother Saturus, the servants Felicitas, Revocatus, Saturninus and Secundulus, who were also catechumens.

Despite the exhortations of her father, who persistently appealed to her maternal feelings, the widowed St Perpetua refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods.

Before their execution, Sts Perpetua and Saturus had visions from God, which strengthened their souls. St Felicitas, who was eight months pregnant, gave birth to a baby girl while in prison. She rejoiced because now she would be permitted to die with her companions. There was a law forbidding the execution of pregnant women.

The martyrs were led from the prison into the amphitheatre. Saturninus and Revocatus had to face a leopard and a bear. Sts Perpetua and Felicitas were brought to the arena in nets, and they were pitted against a wild heifer. After being tossed to the ground by the heifer, the two women were led out of the arena. Saturus was bitten by a leopard, but did not die. The martyrs were then led to a certain spot to be killed by the sword. The young gladiator who was to execute St Perpetua was inexperienced and did not kill her with the first blow. She herself took his hand and guided it to her throat, and so she received the crown of martyrdom. This occurred in about the year 203.

The amphitheatre where these saints perished is located a few miles from the city of Tunis. In 1881, a room was discovered opposite the modern entrance into the arena. Some say this was a cell where the victims waited to be brought into the arena.


Your holy martyr Perpetua, O Lord, / Through her sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God. / For having Your strength, she laid low her adversaries, / And shattered the powerless boldness of demons. / Through her intercessions, save our souls!

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)