Saint Frumentius, Archbishop of Inda (Ethiopia, formerly
Abysssinia), was a native of the city of Tyre. While still a child, he
came to Abyssinia by divine Providence. Growing up near the imperial
court, he became a friend and chief counselor of the Abyssinian emperor,
and afterwards tutor to his son, who ascended the throne while still a
minor after the death of his father.
With the consent of the new
emperor, St Frumentius journeyed to his native land and afterwards
visited Alexandria and its patriarch, St Athanasius the Great (May 2).
With the blessing of St Athanasius, Frumentius was elevated to become
Bishop of Abyssinia and he returned to that country, which had sheltered
him from his childhood.
After he returned from his consecration,
St Frumentius began to perform miracles, bringing many people to the
Church. The emperor said to him, “You have lived among us for many
years, yet we never saw you perform such wonders. Why is it that you do
so now?” The saint replied, “This has nothing to do with me, but is due
to the grace of the priesthood.” Then the emperor and many of his
subjects received holy Baptism.
Having accomplished the apostolic
task of converting the Abyssinian nation to Christ, St Frumentius
zealously and fruitfully guided the Church entrusted him by God for many
years, then peacefully departed to the Lord in great old age.
Saint Nectarius the Obedient of the Caves, a monk of the Kiev
Caves monastery, pursued asceticism during the twelfth century. For his
unquestioning obedience to the will of his elder, the brethren and his zeal for
work, he was termed “the Obedient.” St Nectarius was buried in the
Antoniev Cave. His memory is also celebrated on September 28 and the
second Sunday of Great Lent.
These Saints were imprisoned by Julian the Apostate
(331-363) together Saint Timothy was a bishop who imprisoned by Julian the Apostate
(331-363) together with his fellow bishop Theodore; the priests Peter,
John, Sergius, Theodore, Nicephorus; the deacons Basil and Thomas; the
monks Hierotheus, Daniel, Chariton, Socrates, Comasius; and Etymasius.
They all suffered martyrdom in Tiberiopolis in 361.
Saints Athanasius (“the Iron Staff”) and Theodosius of
Cherepovets were disciples of St Sergius of Radonezh. They settled in
the region of Novgorod at the border of Cherepovets where the Rivulet
Yagorba flows into the River Sheksna. Here they labored in monastic
struggles. They built a church in honor of the Most Holy Trinity, and
founded the Cherepovets Resurrection monastery.
The saints died
in the year 1388, and were buried in the monastery’s cathedral church.
Their memory is also celebrated on September 25.
Saints Clement, Bishop of Ochrid, Equal of the Apostles, Naum, Sava,
Gorazd and Angelar were Slavs, disciples of Sts Cyril and Methodius (May
11). At first they lived as ascetics in Moravia, where St Gorazd
succeded St Methodius as bishop. He was fluent in Slavonic, Greek and
Latin. Sts Clement, Naum, Angelar and Sava were priests.
Enlighteners of the Slavs were opposed by German missionaries, who had
the support of the Pope and the patronage of the Moravian prince
Svyatopolk. The struggle centered around the questions of the need for
divine services in Slavonic, the Filioque and Saturday fasting. Pope
Stephen VI prohibited the use of Slavonic in church.
proponents of the three-tongued heresy (who wanted to use only Hebrew,
Greek, or Latin for Church purposes), after setting aside the ancestral
language of the Slavic peoples, brought the disciples of St Methodius to
trial, including St Clement. They subjected them to fierce torture:
dragging them through thorns, and holding them in prison for a long
time, just as they had done with their spiritual Father, St Methodius.
886, some of the prisoners were sold to slave-traders, and ended up in
the Venice marketplace. The ambassador of the Byzantine Emperor Basil
the Macedonian went to Venice, ransomed the saints and brought them to
Constantinople. The older confessors were banished. It is not known
where St Gorazd went, nor where St Sava found shelter. Naum and Angelar
went to Bulgaria.
In 907 Moravia collapsed under the onslaught of
the Magyars, and Moravian refugees escaped along those same paths
followed earlier by the saints they had exiled.
received the Slavonic confessors with respect and requested them to
conduct divine services in the Slavonic language. The Bulgarian prince
Boris sought out such people as the disciples of St Methodius, who
labored for the enlightenment of his nation. The saints immediately
began to study Slavonic books collected by the Bulgarian nobles.
Angelar soon died, and St Clement received the appointment to teach at
Kutmichivitsa, a region in southwest Macedonia. In the Eastern Church a
worthy man was chosen to be a teacher, someone known for his pious life,
and possessed with a gift of words. St Clement was a teacher while he
was still in Moravia. In Bulgaria, St Clement worked as an instructor
until 893. He organized a school at the princely court, which attained
high esteem during the reign of Simeon. In southwest Macedonia he
created separate schools for adults and for children.
instructed the children in reading and in writing. The total number of
his students was enormous. Those chosen and accepted for the clergy
amounted to 3500 men. In the year 893, St Clement became Bishop of
Dremvitsa, or Velitsa, and St Naum took his place.
St Clement was
the first Bulgarian hierarch to serve, preach and write in the Slavonic
language. To this end he systematically prepared clergy from among the
Slavic people. The holy bishop labored for the glory of God into his old
age. When his strength failed, and he was unable to fulfill his
responsibilities in the cathedral, he asked Tsar Simeon to let him
The Tsar urged the saint not to forsake the cathedral,
and St Clement agreed to continue his episcopal service. After this he
went to Ochrid, to a monastery he founded. There the saint continued
with his translation activities and translated important parts of the
Soon the saint became seriously ill and departed
to the Lord in the year 916. The saint’s body was placed in a coffin he
made with his own hands, and was buried in Ochrid’s St Panteleimon
St Clement is considered the first Slavonic author. He
not only continued the translation work begun by Sts Cyril and
Methodius, but also left behind works of his own composition, the first
samples of Slavonic spiritual literature.
Many of the lessons and
sermons of St Clement were brought to Russia, where they were read and
lovingly copied by pious Russian Christians.
Archimandrite Gregory (Peradze) was born August 31, 1899, in the
village of Bakurtsikhe, in the Sighnaghi district of Kakheti. His
father, Roman Peradze, was a priest.
In 1918, Gregory completed
his studies at the theological school and seminary in Tbilisi and
enrolled in the philosophy department at Tbilisi University. Three years
later, in 1921, he began to teach at the university, but the Georgian
Church soon sent him to Germany to study theology. From 1922 to 1925,
Gregory studied theology and eastern languages at the University of
Berlin, and in 1925 he transferred to the philosophy department at the
University of Bonn, where he received a doctoral degree in philosophy
for his dissertation “The Monastic Life in Georgia from Its Origins to
1064.”Gregory continued to attend lectures in theology at the University
of Louvain until 1927.
In 1927, Gregory moved to England to
continue his career in academia, and there he became acquainted with the
old patristic manuscripts that were preserved in the library
collections of the British Museum and Oxford University. In July of that
year, Gregory was named an associate professor at the University of
Bonn, and he returned there to lecture on the history of Georgian and
Armenian literature. In 1931, Gregory was tonsured a monk, ordained a
priest, and appointed dean of the Georgian church in Paris. A year later
he was invited to Oxford to lecture on Georgian history.
period in St. Gregory’s life began later in 1932, when the Metropolitan
of all Poland, Dionysius Waledinsky, invited him to be a professor of
Patrology and the chair of Orthodox Theology at Warsaw University. He
often delivered lectures at academic conferences and in academic centers
throughout Europe. He sought tirelessly for ancient Georgian
manuscripts and historical documents on the Georgian Church. His
searches took him to Syria, Palestine, Greece, Bulgaria, Austria,
Romania, Italy and England. As a result of his labors, many long-lost
Georgian manuscripts surfaced again.
Humility and industriousness
characterized the Hieromartyr Gregory throughout his life. In difficult
moments he often repeated the words of St. John Chrysostom: “Glory be to
God for all things!”
In the 1920s, as the Red Army was securing
its occupation of Georgia, the nation’s treasures were carried away to
France for safekeeping. Later, in the 1940s, Georgian society was
unaware that, due to St. Gregory’s efforts alone, many treasures of
Georgian national culture were spared confiscation by the Nazis in
Paris. Risking execution at the hands of a firing squad, St. Gregory
wrote in the official documentation presented to the Nazis that these
items were of no particular value but were precious to the Georgians as
part of their national consciousness.
Nor did most of Georgian
society know that, in Paris, Archimandrite Gregory had founded a
Georgian church in honor of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Nino and a
parish journal called Jvari Vazisa, or “The Cross of Vines.”
May of 1942, St. Gregory was arrested by the Gestapo. The priceless
Georgian manuscripts he had preserved and many sacred objects that had
been crafted by ancient Georgian masters and collected by St. Gregory
during his travels (in hopes of returning them to Georgia) disappeared
after his apartment was searched.
Archimandrite Gregory was
arrested for sheltering and aiding Jews and other victims of the fascist
persecutions. He was incarcerated at Pawiak Prison in Warsaw, and
deported to Auschwitz at the beginning of November.
In the camp an
inmate killed a German officer. The guards drove everyone out of the
barracks absolutely naked, forcing them to stay in the below-freezing
temperatures until someone confessed. St. Gregory decided to take the
blame for the murder, thus saving innocent prisoners from freezing to
death. The guards let loose the dogs on the martyr, poured gasoline over
him, and lit him on fire. Then they said, “Poles, go warm yourselves
around him, your intercessor.”
According to the official German
documentation, Gregory Peradze died on December 6, 1942 [November 23,
old style], at 4:45 in the afternoon. (According to another account, the
martyr entered the gas chamber in place of a Jewish man with a large
family. This was reported by a former prisoner, who, after being
liberated, visited Metropolitan Dionysius and gave him St. Gregory’s
cross.) In the end, like Christ Himself, Archimandrite Gregory died for
having taken upon himself the sin of another.
According to the tradition of the Church, the Theotokos
was brought to the Temple at three years of age, where she was
consecrated to God and spent her days until she was fourteen or fifteen
years old; and then, as a mature maiden, by the common counsel of the
priests (since her parents had reposed some three years before), she was
betrothed to Joseph.
Apolytikion of Entry of the Theotokos in the Fourth Tone
Today is the prelude of God's pleasure and the proclamation of
man's salvation. The Virgin is clearly made manifest in the temple of
God and foretells Christ to all. Let us also cry out to her with mighty
voice, "Hail, fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation."
Kontakion of Entry of the Theotokos in the Fourth Tone
Today, the most pure temple of the Savior, the precious bridal
chamber and Virgin, the sacred treasure of God, enters the house of the
Lord, bringing the grace of the Divine Spirit. The Angels of God praise
her. She is the heavenly tabernacle.
The Holy Martyrs Eustathius, Thespesius and Anatolius,
natives of the city of Gangra, were the children of a rich merchant.
They were baptized by Bishop Anthimus of Nicomedia (September 3). They
died as martyrs at Nicea, after suffering fierce tortures.
Saint Barlaam, Igumen of the Kiev Caves, lived during the
eleventh century at Kiev, and was the son of an illustrious noble. From
his youth, he yearned for the monastic life and he went to St Anthony of
the Caves (July 10), who accepted the pious youth so firmly determined
to become a monk, and he bade St Nikon (March 23) to tonsure him.
Barlaam’s father tried to return him home by force, but finally became
convinced that his son would never return to the world, so he gave up.
When the number of monks at the Caves began to increase, St Anthony made
St Barlaam igumen, while he himself moved to another cave and again
began to live in solitude.
St Barlaam became the first igumen of
the Kiev Caves monastery. In the year 1058, after asking St Anthony’s
blessing, St Barlaam built a wooden church in honor of the Dormition of
the Most Holy Theotokos. Afterwards, St Barlaam became igumen of the
newly-formed monastery in honor of the Great Martyr Demetrius.
Barlaam twice went on pilgrimage to the holy places in Jerusalem and
Constantinople. After he returned from his second journey, he died in
the Vladimir Holy Mountain monastery at Volhynia in 1065 and was buried,
in accord with his final wishes, at the Caves monastery in the Near
Caves. His memory is celebrated September 28 and on the second Sunday of
Our righteous Mother Hilda was of noble birth, being a
kinswoman of Saint Edwin, King of Northumbria (celebrated Oct. 12). At
the age of thirty-three she renounced the world, and lived another
thirty-three years as a nun and abbess. The last six years of her life
she suffered a burning fever with patience and nobility, and reposed in
peace in the year 680.
Apolytikion of Mother Hilda of Whitby in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
The image of God, was faithfully preserved in you, O Mother. For
you took up the Cross and followed Christ. By Your actions you taught us
to look beyond the flesh for it passes, rather to be concerned about
the soul which is immortal. Wherefore, O Holy Hilda, your soul rejoices
with the angels.
Kontakion of Mother Hilda of Whitby in the First Tone
For three and thirty years in the world, chaste and modest, for
three and thirty years as a righteous monastic, thou camest, O Hilda,
unto Christ's stature, and perfect man; and on being cleansed through
grievous bodily sickness, thou wast taken up in light and glory to
Heaven, Where thou dost pray God for us.
This Apostle, who was also called Levi, was the son of
Alphaeus and had Galilee as his homeland. A publican before being called
by Christ, he became one of the Twelve Apostles, and an Evangelist.
While still in Palestine, he wrote his Gospel first in Hebrew, being
also the first of all to write the Gospel. When he is depicted in icons,
there is portrayed next to him the likeness of a man, one of the
symbolic living creatures mentioned by Ezekiel (1.10), which, as Saint
Irenaeus writes, is a symbol of our Saviour's Incarnation.
Apolytikion of Apostle and Evangelist Matthew in the Third Tone
O Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.
Kontakion of Apostle and Evangelist Matthew in the Fourth Tone
When thou didst cast away the publican's balance and wast united
to the yoke of uprightness, then didst thou prove a merchant of great
excellence, one that gathered in the wealth of the wisdom of Heaven; for
this cause, the word of truth thou didst herald, O Matthew, and didst
arouse the souls of sluggish men by signifying the dread day of
Constantine was born on the island of Hydra in the 18th
century. Born to a pious Orthodox Christian family, he left the island for the city of Rhodes in order to find work. There he worked for the
Turkish governor and converted to Islam. He soon repented and returned
to his Christian faith and lived on Mt Athos for a period of time as a
monastic. He returned to Rhodes to confront the governor and
confess his Christian faith. He died the death of a martyr by being
beheaded on November 14, 1800.
Saint Nilus, who had Constantinople as his homeland, was a
disciple of Saint John Chrysostom. He had formerly been an eparch of
the city, then became an ascetic on Mount Sinai. He wrote epistles and
various ascetical works, and reposed about 451.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
With the rivers of your tears, you have made the barren desert
fertile. Through sighs of sorrow from deep within you, your labors have
borne fruit a hundred-fold. By your miracles you have become a light,
shining upon the world. O Nilus, our Holy Father, pray to Christ our
God, to save our souls.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
By thine unsleeping prayer, O Father Nilus blest of God, thou
didst most keenly cut away all the material that enkindleth the revolts
of the body's passions; and since thou possessest boldness with the Lord
of all, from all dangers that can be do thou deliver me that I may cry
to thee: Rejoice, O universal Father.
Saint Stephen was the son of King Milutin and the father of King
Dushan. He was blinded on the orders of his father. St Nicholas
(December 6) appeared to him in the church of Ovche Polje (Sheep
Pasture) and said, “Do not be afraid.Your eyes have been given to me,
and I shall return them to you at the appropriate time.
Stephen lived in Constantinople for five years at the Monastery of the
Pantocrator. He surpassed not only the monks, but also all the
inhabitants of Constantinople, in his spiritual struggles, patience, and
meekness. At the end of the five years, St Nicholas appeared to him
again. Making the Sign of the Cross over his eyes, he restored Stephen’s
sight. In gratitude for this miracle, Stephen built the Dechani
Monastery in Serbia.
In his old age, St Stephen was drowned by his son, receiving the crown of martyrdom in 1336.
Saint Theoctiste was born in the city of Methymna on the
island of Lesbos. At an early age she was left a complete orphan, and
relatives sent her to a monastery to be raised. The girl was happy to be
removed from the world of sin, and she liked the monastic life, the
long church services, monastic obedience, the strict fasting and
unceasing prayer. She learned much of the singing, prayer and psalmody
In the year 846 when she was already eighteen years
old, she set off with the blessing of the abbess, on the Feast of the
Resurrection of Christ, to a neighboring village to visit her sister and
she remained there overnight. Arabs invaded the settlement, and they
took captive all the inhabitants, loaded them on a ship, and by morning
they were at sea.
The brigands took the captives to the desolate
island of Paros so that they might examine them in order to assign a
value to each when they were sold at the slave-market. The Lord helped
the young maiden to flee, and the Arabs did not catch her. From that
time St Theoctiste dwelt on the island for 35 years. An old church in
the name of the Most Holy Theotokos served as her dwelling, and her food
was sunflower seeds. All her time was spent in prayer.
group of hunters landed upon the island. One of them, pursuing his prey,
went far off from the coast into the forest and suddenly he saw the
church. He went into the church so as to offer up a prayer to the Lord.
After the prayer the hunter saw what looked like a human form in a dim
corner, not far from the holy altar table, through thick cobwebs. He
went closer and heard a voice, “Stay there, fellow, and come no closer
to shame me, since I am a naked woman.” The hunter gave the woman his
outer clothing and she came out from concealment. He beheld a
grey-haired woman with worn face, calling herself Theoctiste. With a
weak voice she told of her life fully devoted to God.
finished her story, the saint asked the hunter, if he happened to come
to this island again, that he should bring her a particle of the
Presanctified Gifts. During all her time of living in the wilderness she
not once was granted to partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ.
year later, the hunter again arrived upon the island and brought a
small vessel with a particle of the Holy Mysteries. St Theoctiste met
the Holy Gifts in the church, fell down to the ground and prayed long
with tears. Standing up, she took the vessel and with reverence and in
the fear of God she received the Body and Blood of Christ.
following day the hunter saw the dead body of the nun Theoctiste in the
church. After digging a shallow grave, the hunter placed the venerable
body of the nun in it. As he did so, he impudently cut off her hand, so
as to take with him part of the relics of the great saint of God. All
night the ship sailed upon a tempestuous sea, and in the morning it
found itself at the very place from which it began. The man then
perceived that taking the relic was not pleasing to God.
returned to the grave and placed the hand with the body of the saint.
After this the ship sailed off unhindered. On the journey the hunter
told his companions everything that had happened on the island.
Listening to him, they all decided immediately to return to Paros, to
venerate the relics of the great ascetic, but they could not find her
holy body in the grave.
All the Angels, according to the Apostle Paul, are
ministering spirits, - sent forth to minister to them who shall be
heirs of salvation - (Heb. 1:14). God set them as overseers of every
nation and people, and guides to that which is profitable (Deut. 32:8);
and while one Angel is appointed to oversee each nation as a whole, one
is also appointed to protect each Christian individually. He commands
them to guard them that hope on Him, that nothing should harm them,
neither should any evil draw nigh to their dwelling (Ps. 90:10-12). In
the Heavens they always behold the face of God, sending up to Him the
thrice-holy hymn and interceding with Him in our behalf, seeing they
rejoice over one sinner that repents (Esaias 6:2-3; Matt. 18:10; Luke
15:7). In a word, they have served God in so many ways for our benefit,
that the pages of Holy Scripture are filled with the histories thereof.
It is for these reasons that the Orthodox Catholic Church, wisely
honouring these divine ministers, our protectors and guardians,
celebrates today the present Synaxis that is, our coming together in
assembly for their common feast to chant their praises, especially for
the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, who are mentioned in the Scriptures
by name. The name Michael means "Who is like God?" and Gabriel means
"God is mighty." The number of Angels is not defined in the divine
Scriptures, where Daniel says that thousands of thousands ministered
before Him, and ten thousands of ten thousands attended upon Him -(Dan.
7:10). But all of them are divided into nine orders which are called
Thrones, Cherubim, Seraphim, Dominions, Powers, Authorities,
Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
O Commanders of the Heavenly Host, we the unworthy beseech you,
that through your entreaties you will fortify us, guarding us in the
shelter of the wings of your ethereal glory, even as we fervently bow
before you crying: "Deliver us from all danger, as Commanders of the
Powers on high! "
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Chief Commanders of God; ministers of divine glory; guides for
men and leadership of the Incorporeal; as Chief Commanders of the
Incorporeal, plead for our welfare and for great mercy.
Our righteous Father Lazarus was born in 967 in Magnesia
of Asia Minor, and passed through various regions of the East, visiting
monasteries. He was tonsured a monk, and then ordained priest, at the
Monastery of Mar Sabbas in Palestine. In 1005 he returned to his
homeland, and beginning in the year 1012, he built the monasteries that
are on Mount Galesion. He raised up a pillar, on which he lived as a
stylite for many years, enduring unspeakable hardships for the love of
Christ, and reposed in the Lord in deep old age in the year 1053, during
the reign of Constantine Monomachus (1042-1055).
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
In thy vigilant prayers, thou didst drench thy pillar with
streams of tears; by thy sighings from the depths, thou didst bear fruit
a hundredfold in labours; and thou becamest a shepherd, granting
forgiveness to them that came to thee, O our righteous Father Lazarus.
Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
With great joy, the Church of Christ doth glorify thee on this
day with psalmic hymns as a great light unto us all; hence never cease
thou to intercede with Christ to grant the forgiveness of sins to all.
Saint Paul was from Thessalonica. He became the secretary
of Alexander, Patriarch of Constantinople (see Aug. 30), a deacon, and
then the successor of Saint Alexander in about 337. Because of his
virtue, his eloquence in teaching, and his zeal for Orthodoxy, the
Arians hated and feared him. When the Arian Emperor Constantius, who was
in Antioch, learned of Paul's election, he exiled Paul and proclaimed
the Arian Eusebius Patriarch. Saint Paul went to Rome, where he found
Saint Athanasius the Great also in exile. Provided with letters by Pope
Julius, Paul returned to Constantinople, and after the death of Eusebius
in 342, ascended again his rightful throne; the Arians meanwhile
elected Macedonius, because he rejected the Son's con-substantiality
with the Father (and the divinity of the Holy Spirit besides). When
Constantius, yet at Antioch, learned of Paul's return, he sent troops to
Constantinople to drive Paul out. The Saint returned to Rome, where
Saint Athanasius also was again in exile. Constans, Emperor of the West,
Constantius' brother, but Orthodox, wrote to Constantius that if
Athanasius and Paul were not allowed to return to their sees, he would
come with troops to restore them him-self. So Paul again returned to his
throne. After the death of Constans, however, Constantius had Paul
deposed. Because of the love of the people for Saint Paul, Philip the
Prefect, who was sent for him, was compelled to arrest him secretly to
avoid a sedition. Paul was banished to Cucusus, on the borders of
Cilicia and Armenia; a town through which his most illustrious
successor, Saint John Chrysostom would also pass on his way to Comana in
his last exile. In Cucusus, about the year 350, as Saint Paul was
celebrating the Divine Liturgy in the little house where he was a
prisoner, the Arians strangled him with his own omophorion, so much did
they fear him even in exile. His holy relics were brought back to
Constantinople with honour by the Emperor Theodosius the Great.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Thy confession of the one divine Faith showed thee to the Church
to be a new Paul and a zealot among priests, O holy one. The righteous
blood both of Abel and Zachary with thee doth cry out together unto the
Lord. Righteous Father, intercede with Christ God in our behalf that His
great mercy may be granted unto us.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Thou shonest on earth, a star bright with celestial light, and
now thou dost shine enlightenment on all the Church, in behalf of which
thou didst struggle, laying down thine own life, O Paul, and like Abel
and Zachary, thy blood doth cry out most clearly to the Lord.
Saint Snandulia of Persia is mentioned in the account of the
martyrdom of Sts Joseph the priest and Aithalas the deacon. The
historian Sozomen also describes their sufferings in his CHURCH HISTORY
(Book 2, ch. 13).
Snandulia was a devout Christian of the city
of Arbela who visited those who suffered in prison for the sake of
Christ. When she learned that Sts Joseph and Aithalas were in the
prison, she went with her servants by night and bribed the guards with
gold. They allowed her to take the saints to her home until daybreak.
They were barely alive and unable to speak. She took them home and put
them to bed, tending their wounds, and kissing their shattered hands and
St Joseph recovered consciousness and saw Snandulia
weeping. He told her that the compassion she had shown for him and for
Aithalas was pleasing to God, but he thought that her bitter
lamentations were contrary to Christian hope.
She replied, “When one is moved by compassion, it is natural to weep.”
St Joseph said, “you should not weep for us, for tortures born for the
sake of Christ are followed by eternal joy.”
The two saints were
returned to prison the next morning, as promised. After six months their
wounds had healed to some extent. They could stand and walk a little,
but Aithalas’s hands hung at his side limp and useless.
was appointed as a judge, and he entered the city offering sacrifice to
the gods in the various temples. Some of the priests told him about Sts
Joseph and Aithalas, who had been tortured on the orders of Prince
Ardasabor, the head of all the Magi of Persia. They explained to
Zerothus that their execution was being delayed until they recovered
from their wounds.
When he heard this, Zerothus ordered that the
martyrs be brought before him. He used flattery and then threats in an
attempt to persuade them to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. When this
proved unsuccessful, the judge had them beaten for a long time.
they were brought before the judge again, Zerothus tried to get the
saints to eat food which had been offered to the idols, but they
refused. Then the judge had them beaten again, and ordered other
Christians to stone them. Soldiers went to the homes of the Christians
to force them to come to the judgment hall. They dug a hole and placed
St Joseph in it, then put stones in the hands of the Christians and
compelled them to stone him.
St Snandulia was among these
Christians, but she refused to throw stones at the aged priest. Then
they gave her a lance and told her to kill St Joseph. She said that she
would rather drive the lance into her own heart than to wound the saint
St Joseph was eventually killed by all the stones that
were thrown at him, and the holy deacon Aithalas was also stoned in the
St Snandulia stretched forth her arms to needful works
and opened her hands to the needy (Proverbs 31:19-20), but she refused
to lift her hands to do evil against St Joseph.
The Shuiu-Smolensk Wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God was
painted in the years 1654-1655 in the Resurrection parish of the city of
Shuiu, where an unrelenting pestilence raged. Trusting in the mercy of
God and the intercession of the Mother of God, the parishioners of the
Resurrection church commissioned a certain pious monk to paint the icon
of the Smolensk Mother of God, an icon long attributed with being a
rescuer of the Russian people from enemies and misfortune.
parishioners spent the whole week in prayer and fasting while the image
was being painted. When the icon was finished, the priest and the people
took it to the church and set it in a specially built place. From that
time the pestilence began to ease, at first in the area of the
Resurrection parish, and then also in all the city.
From the Icon
of the Mother of God many miracles of healing took place, especially of
eye diseases. The icon is also celebrated on July 11, July 28, and