Saint Helen, a pious mother to her sons Stephen Milutin and Dragutin,
devoted her whole life to pious deeds after the death of her husband.
She built a shelter for the poor, and a monastery for those who wished
to live in purity and virginity. Near the city of Spich, she built the
Rechesk monastery and endowed it with the necessities.
Before her death, St Helen received monastic tonsure and departed to the Lord on February 8, 1306.
Saint Anastasia, who was young in age and lived in a
convent, was seized by the impious. Confessing Christ openly and with
boldness and enduring manifold torments, she was beheaded in the year
256, during the reign of Valerian.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
Made most pure, O righteous one, with chaste virginity's waters,
and washed in martyric blood, O Anastasia, thou grantest unto those in
need the healing of every illness, and to those who come with love thou
grantest salvation; for the well-spring of unfailing grace, even Christ
God, bestoweth power on thee.
Bound together by natural bonds / And clothed with the might of faith, /
You walked the path of martyrdom with your seven children. / O holy
Martyrs Terrence and Neonilla, / Pray that those who honor your contest
may receive forgiveness of their sins.
KONTAKION - TONE 4
Today the memory of the martyrs / Is bringing gladness to all the
faithful. / Let us fervently ask them for healing, / For they received
this grace from the Spirit / To heal the infirmities and sickness of our
Saint Athanasius of Medikion Monastery (+ ca. 814) loved the
monastic life and secretly left his parental home, but was forcibly
returned by his father. After a certain time Athanasius entered the
Medikion monastery in Bithynia with his father’s consent.
He was a
companion of St Nicetas (April 3) and he died about the year 814. A
cypress tree grew up on his grave; from which occurred many healings, by
the grace of God.
Saint Tabitha, the widow raised from the dead by the Apostle Peter,
was a virtuous and kindly woman, belonged to the Christian community in
Joppa. Being grievously ill, she suddenly died. At the time, the Apostle
Peter was preaching at Lydda, not far from Joppa. Messengers were sent
to him with an urgent request for help. When the Apostle arrived at
Joppa, Tabitha was already dead. On bended knee, St Peter made a fervent
prayer to the Lord. Then he went to the bed and called out, “Tabitha,
get up!” She arose, completely healed (Acts 9:36).
St Tabitha is
considered the patron saint of tailors and seamstresses, since she was
known for sewing coats and other garments (Acts 9:39).
TROPARION - TONE 1
With the flow of the many-streamed river of almsgiving / You watered the
dry earth of the needy. / Showering alms on the widows and the poor, /
You shone with the light of your works / And were radiant with grace, O
Tabitha. / Glory to Christ who loves you! / Glory to Christ who has
blessed you! / Glory to Christ whom you followed as a true disciple and a
KONTAKION - TONE 2
You served the Savior in holiness / By your God-fearing deeds, / And
were a model of love as his disciple. / O Tabitha, we praise your
Saint Athanasius I, Patriarch of Constantinople (1289-1293;
1303-1311), in the world Alexius, was from Adrianopolis. While still in
his youth, thriving upon the knowledge of the wisdom of Christ, he left
his home and went to Thessalonica, where he was tonsured in one of the
monasteries with the name Acacius. He soon withdrew to Mount Athos and
entered the brethren of the Esphigmenou monastery, where for three years
he served in the trapeza. In his works and his ascetic deeds he
acquired the gift of tears, and by his virtuous acts he won the overall
goodwill of the brethren.
Shunning praise, Acacius humbly left
Mt. Athos at first for the holy places in Jerusalem, and then to Mount
Patra, where for a long time he lived ascetically as an hermit. From
there the ascetic transferred to the Auxention monastery, and then to
Mount Galanteia to the monastery of Blessed Lazarus, where he accepted
the great angelic schema with the name Athanasius, was ordained a priest
and became ecclesiarch (monk in charge of the sacred relics and vessels
in the church). Here the saint was granted a divine revelation: he
heard the Voice of the Lord from a crucifix, summoning him to pastoral
Wishing to strengthen his spirit still more in silence
and prayer, St Athanasius again settled on Mount Athos after ten years.
But because of disorders arising there he returned to Mount Galanteia.
Here also he was not long to remain in solitude. Many people thronged to
him for pastoral guidance, and so he organized a women’s monastery
During this time the throne of the Church of
Constantinople fell vacant after the disturbances and disorder of the
period of the Patriarch John Bekkos. At the suggestion of the pious
emperor Andronicus Paleologos, a council of hierarchs and clergy
unanimously chose St Athanasius to the Patriarchal throne of the Church
Patriarch Athanasius began fervently to fulfill his new
obedience and did much for strengthening the Church. His strictness of
conviction roused the dissatisfaction of influential clergy, and in 1293
he was compelled to resign the throne and to retire again to his own
monastery, where he lived an ascetic life in solitude. In 1303 he was
again entrusted with the staff of patriarchal service, which he worthily
fulfilled for another seven years. In 1308 St Athanasius established St
Peter as Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus (December 21).
because of some sort of dissatisfaction, and not wanting to be the cause
of church discord, St Athanasius resigned the governance of the Church
in 1311. He departed to his own monastery, devoting himself fully to
Toward the end of his life, the saint was again
found worthy to behold Christ. The Lord reproached him because
Athanasius had not carried out his pastoral duty to the end. Weeping,
the saint repented of his cowardice and received from the Lord both
forgiveness and the gift of wonderworking. St Athanasius died at the age
According to some, this Saint was a son of Joseph the
Betrothed, born of the wife that the latter had before he was betrothed
to the Ever-virgin. Hence he was the brother of the Lord, Who was also
thought to be the son of Joseph (Matt. 13: 55). But some say that he was
a nephew of Joseph, and the son of his brother Cleopas, who was also
called Alphaeus and Mary his wife, who was the first cousin of the
Theotokos. But even according to this genealogy, he was still called,
according to the idiom of the Scriptures, the Lord's brother because of
This Iakovos is called the Less (Mark 15:4) by the
Evangelists to distinguish him from Iakovos, the son of Zebedee, who was
called the Great. He became the first Bishop of Jerusalem, elevated to
this episcopal rank by the Apostles, according to Eusebius (Eccl. Hist.,
Book II: 23), and was called Obliah, that is, the Just, because of his
great holiness and righteousness. Having ascended the crest of the
Temple on the day of the Passover at the prompting of all, he bore
testimony from there concerning his belief in Jesus, and he proclaimed
with a great voice that Jesus sits at the right hand of the great power
of God and shall come again upon the clouds of heaven. On hearing this
testimony, many of those present cried, "Hosanna to the Son of David."
But the Scribes and Pharisees cried, "So, even the just one hath been
led astray," and at the command of Ananias the high priest, the Apostle
was cast down headlong from thence, then was stoned, and while he prayed
for his slayers, his head was crushed by the wooden club wielded by a
certain scribe. The first of the Catholic (General) Epistles written to
the Jews in the Diaspora who believed in Christ was written by this
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
As the Lord's disciple, O righteous One, you received the Gospel,
as Martyr, you have unwavering courage, as the Lord's brother, you have
forthrightness, as Hierarch, intercession. Intercede with Christ our
God, that our souls may be saved.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
O wondrous Iakovos, God the Logos, only-begotten of the Father,
who dwelt among us in latter days, declared you, the first shepherd and
teacher of Jerusalem, and faithful steward of the spiritual mysteries.
Wherefore, we all honor you, O Apostle.
The Martyrs Alexander the Bishop, Heraclius the Soldier, and Women
Martyrs Anna, Elizabeth, Theodota and Glyceria at Adrianopolis were
killed during the third century at Adrianopolis for their confession of
Christ. This century is noted as a time of the spread of Christianity
among the pagans. Despite the persecutions against the Christians,
Bishop Alexander fearlessly converted and baptized many pagans into the
holy saving faith.
The governor of the region where the saint
lived, ordered his soldiers to use torture to force Bishop Alexander to
deny Christ. The saint patiently endured terrible tortures. Struck by
this, the soldier Heraclius believed in Christ, for Whom the saint
suffered. And after him, the Women Martyrs Anna, Elizabeth, Theodota and
Glyceria confessed themselves to be Christians.
[Faithfully] following the steps of Christ [our God], you left
behind you all the pleasures of the world, and imitated in the flesh the
lifestyle of the angels. Wherefore with the gifts bestowed by the
Spirit you brightened up your homeland, the Island of Chios, O Maiden
extolled by all. And therefore it cries out to you joyfully: Rejoice, O
He was the hierarch of a Persian district. When the Persian emperor
Sapor learned that Sadoc was preaching faith in Christ, he gave orders
to arrest and imprison him together with 128 Christian believers. For
several months they attempted to persuade the righteous martyrs to
repudiate the holy Faith, but unable to accomplish this, they executed
Saint David of Serpukhov, a disciple of St Paphnutius of
Borov (May 1), lived as a hermit at the River Lopasna, 23 versts from
Serpukhov. In 1515, on the right bank of the river, he built a church
dedicated to the Ascension, and laid the foundations of the Davidov
According to some, Hosea, whose name means "God is help,"
was from the tribe of Issachar, or more likely, from that of Reuben; he
was the son of Beeri. He is the first in order of the twelve minor
Prophets and the most ancient of all. He prophesied in the days of the
divided Kingdom; the Lord told him to take a harlot to wife (Hosea 1:2),
and then an adulteress (ibid., 3:1). The harlot, a known sinner, was a
figure of the Kingdom of Israel in Samaria, which openly worshipped
idols; the adulteress, lawfully married yet sinning secretly with her
lovers, was a figure of the Kingdom of Judah in Jerusalem, which, while
having the Temple, and the priesthood, and the divine worship according
to the Law, stealthily served the idols also. The Prophet Hosea
prophesied for sixty years, and lived for some ninety years, from 810 to
720 B.C. His book is divided into fourteen chapters.
Apolytikion in the Second Tone
As we celebrate the memory of Thy Prophet Hosea, O Lord, through him we beseech Thee to save our souls.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Initiated by divine illumination, thou wast deemed worthy of the
lofty gift of prophecy and foretoldest of the promise of grace, O
Prophet. O Hosea, since thou dwellest in God's glory now, do thou
rescue from all manner of adversity us who cry to thee: Rejoice, thou
vessel of grace divine.
Saint Longinus, the Gate-Keeper of the Kiev Caves, Far Caves,
made his monastic obedience at the Kiev Caves monastery. His prayerful
fervor and humble love for work were rewarded by the Lord. The venerable
gatesman was granted the gift of discernment. He encouraged the people
who came to the Lavra with good intent, but he denounced those inclined
to wickedness and urged them to repentance. He was buried in the Far
St Longinus is also commemorated on August 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.
This Saint was from Samosata, the son of pious parents. He
established a catechetical school in Antioch, and taught the correct
doctrines of the Faith and made clear the parts of the divine Scriptures
that were difficult to understand. He edited the Old Testament
translation from the Hebrew tongue, and published it in an excellent
edition, free from every heretical corruption and interpolation. He
travelled to Nicomedia to strengthen the faithful there in their
contests for Christ, and was accused before Maximinus, with whom he
conversed openly. When he had made a defence of the Christian Faith, he
was condemned to imprisonment where, in 311, he died of hunger and
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received
the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal
God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and
wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God,
by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
We all gloriously acclaim thee with hymns, O Lucian, thou most
brilliant luminary, who wast first illustrious in asceticism and then
shonest forth in contest: Intercede unceasingly for us all.
The Holy Hieromartyr Silvanus of Gaza, was a native of the
city of Gaza. He was first a soldier, then a priest. He was falsely
accused of a crime and sentenced to labor in the copper mines. In spite
of many tribulations, the saint did not renounce Christ. In his old age,
he was beheaded together with forty other Christians.
The Martyr Florentius was a native of Thessalonica. Zealous
for the glory of God, he fearlessly unmasked the darkness of idolatry
and led many to the light of true knowledge of God. He taught faith in
Christ and fulfilled the will of God. For this the pagans subjected him
to cruel tortures, and then burned him.
The Jerusalem Icon of the Mother of God, by tradition, was painted by
the holy Evangelist Luke fifteen years after the Ascension of the Lord
In the year 463, the icon was transferred to
Constantinople. The Byzantine army carried the Jerusalem Icon into
battle when they turned back an invasion of the Scythians. In 988 the
icon was transferred to Korsun and given to the holy Prince Vladimir.
When the people of Novgorod accepted Christianity, St Vladimir sent them
this icon. In 1571, Ivan the Terrible transferred the icon to the
Moscow Dormition cathedral. During the Napoleonic invasion of 1812, the
original was stolen by the French and brought to Paris. An authenticated
copy was placed in the Dormition cathedral.
The Jerusalem Icon is also commemorated on November 13, and on the Fifth Saturday of Great Lent.
Saint Theophanes, the brother of Saint Theodore the
Branded, was a Palestinian by race. Both were monks at the Monastery of
Saint Sabbas. They were called "the Branded" because Theophilus, the
last of the Iconoclast emperors, had twelve iambic verses branded by hot
irons on their foreheads and then sent them into exile, where Theodore
died in the year 838. After the death of Theophilus in 842, Theophanes
was elected Bishop of Nicaea. Both brothers composed many canons and
hymns, thereby adorning the services of the Church.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
You are a guide of Orthodoxy, a teacher of piety and modesty, a
luminary of the world, the God inspired pride of monastics. O wise
Theophanes, you have enlightened everyone by your teachings. You are the
harp of the Spirit. Intercede to Christ our God for the salvation of
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
To the Church thou hast appeared like a new daystar, for thou
dost enlighten her with all thy doctrines' brilliant beams, O righteous
Father Theophanes, since thou indeed art a true priest of Christ our
Alexander Michailovich Grenkov was born
Nov. 23, 1812 in the Russian province of Tambov. His parents raised him
strictly and with fervent piety. Since he was of a priestly family, it
was no surprise when he entered the Tambov theological seminary in 1830.
He did well in his studies and was ranked among the top students.
a year before graduation Alexander became seriously ill. He promised
that if God healed him, he would become a monk. Although his prayer was
answered, Alexander seemed to forget his promise.
from the seminary he took a position as tutor to the children of a
certain landowner and remained with this family for a year and a half.
After this he became a teacher at the local parochial school.
day in 1839 Alexander and a friend visited the famous hermit Father
Hilarion to ask him what they should do with their lives. Alexander was
surprised when he was told to go to the monastery of Optina Pustin,
where they had great need of him. In September of that same year,
however, he seemed to be prepared to continue with his teaching career.
night he was invited to spend a pleasant evening with some friends. His
conversation was witty and brilliant, and all his jokes and puns were
on the mark. Although his hosts were amused and impressed by him,
Alexander was disgusted by his own frivolity. Perhaps his unfulfilled
promise to become a monk weighed on his conscience.
morning he quit his job and arrived at Optina in October of 1839. After a
trial period he decided to remain in the monastery and dedicate his
life to God. He received the monastic tonsure in 1842, and was given the
name Ambrose in honor of St Ambrose of Milan (December 7). Ambrose knew
the famous spiritual directors Elder Leonid and Elder Macarius. He was
the cell attendant of Elder Macarius, who undoubtedly influenced the
young monk’s spiritual development.
Ordained as a priest in 1845,
Father Ambrose’s reverence and piety in celebrating the divine services
were noticed by the other monks. His health began to decline shortly
afterward, and he had to ask to be relieved of all duties. In 1846 he
was so ill that the Mystery of Holy Unction was administered to him. He
bore his illness without complaint and slowly regained his strength. By
1848 he was able to walk with the aid of a cane.
began to help Elder Macarius with his correspondence and in preparing
the Russian edition of St John Climacus’s LADDER OF DIVINE ASCENT, which
was published by the monastery.
When Father Macarius had to go to
Moscow in 1852, he designated Father Ambrose to take his place until
his return. Father Ambrose never gave his personal opinions when he was
asked for advice, but always referred people to the writings of the
Fathers. If someone did not understand the text he was given to read,
Father Ambrose would explain it in simple terms.
died in 1860 without naming anyone to succeed him as Elder. By divine
providence, all the other possible candidates either died or were
appointed as abbots of other monasteries. This left Father Ambrose as
the undisputed spiritual director of the monastery. In his role as
Elder, Father Ambrose had to receive many people each day to hear
confessions and give advice. He used to say, “The Lord has arranged it
so that I would have to talk to people all my life. Now I would be happy
to remain silent, but I cannot.”
An average day in St Ambrose’s
life began at 4 A.M. when his cell attendant came into his cell to read
the morning Rule of prayer for him. After this he would wash and have
some tea, then he would dictate replies to the many letters he received
every day. Visitors would be lining up even as he was having breakfast.
Sometimes he would take a break after two hours, but more often he would
continue seeing people until noon when he had his lunch.
lunch he would go out into the next room and greet more visitors. People
would call out questions and he would give an appropriate response. He
took a short rest at 3 P.M. then talked to people until the evening. At 8
P.M. he had dinner then received more visitors until 11 P.M. At that
hour the evening Rule of prayer was read, and Father Ambrose begged
forgiveness of the brethren whom he may have offended by thought, word,
or deed. After three or four hours of sleep it would all begin again.
This routine would fatigue a strong man. It is remarkable that St
Ambrose, who was often in poor health, was able to keep it up for so
From all over Russia, people flocked to the venerable
Elder. The writer Tolstoy visited him on at least three occasions, and
left impressed by the wisdom of the holy monk. Fyodor Dostoevsky came to
Optina in 1878 after the death of his son Alyosha and was profoundly
affected by his meeting with St Ambrose. The novelist used Father
Ambrose as a model for Starets Zosima in The Brothers Karamazov.
saint founded Shamordino convent in 1884. This convent, which was near
Optina, opened its doors to women who were poor, sickly, or even blind.
Most convents were very poor and had to rely on the incomes of women who
had a certain personal wealth in order to remain open. St Ambrose made
it possible for any woman who wished to become a nun to follow this path
Shamordino began to decline after the death of the
first abbess, Mother Sophia. St Ambrose went there in June 1890 to
straighten out the convent’s affairs. He was unable to return to Optina
due to illness, then winter made it impossible for him to travel. Father
Ambrose continued to see visitors at Shamordino, even though his health
continued to deteriorate in 1891.
By September, it was clear that
he had not long to live. He fell asleep in the Lord at 11:30 A.M. on
the morning of October 10 1891. Throngs of people attended his funeral
and also his burial at Optina. Fathers Joseph, Anthony, Benedict, and
Anatole succeeded him as Elder until the monastery was closed after the
The Moscow Patriarchate authorized local
veneration of the Optina Elders on June 13,1996. The work of uncovering
the relics of Sts Leonid, Macarius, Hilarion, Ambrose, Anatole I,
Barsanuphius and Anatole II began on June 24/July 7, 1998 and was
concluded the next day. However, because of the church Feasts (Nativity
of St John the Baptist, etc.) associated with the actual dates of the
uncovering of the relics, Patriarch Alexey II designated June 27/July 10
as the date for commemorating this event. The relics of the holy Elders
now rest in the new church of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God.
The Optina Elders were glorified by the Moscow Patriarchate for universal veneration on August 7, 2000.
St Ambrose was glorified in 1988 by the Patriarchate of Moscow as part of the Millennium celebration of the Baptism of Rus.
Saints Andronicus and Athanasia were from Antioch, and finished their lives in asceticism about the year 500.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone
Ye adorned your divinely-wrought robe of chastity with the
sublime varied colours of sacred virtues in God, when with one accord ye
strove in the ascetic life. Wherefore, your silence on the earth was
received equally with the thrice-holy hymn in heaven; O wise Andronicus,
pray God, with Athanasia, that we all be saved.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Let us the faithful crown with laurels of befitting hymns the
wise Andronicus, who lived in blameless righteousness, with the godly
Athanasia, his spouse in Christ God; who have shown the type of lawful
wedlock to the world and became divine examples of monastic life. Let
us cry to them: Rejoice, O yoke-mates in holiness. SOURCE:
Saint Philotheus was a native of Thessalonica, and received
the monastic tonsure at an early age. After living for a time at Mt
Sinai, he went to Mt Athos and became the igumen of the Great Lavra.
1347 he became Metropolitan of Heraclea, Thrace. Later, he served as
Patriarch of Constantinople from 1354-1355, and again from 1364-1376.
living on the Holy Mountain and even after he left there, St Philotheus
wrote religious books which reveal his great learning and spirituality.
Many of his works are directed against the anti-hesychasts, and he also
wrote on liturgical and hagiographical themes.
ordained that St Gregory Palamas (November 14) be commemorated on the
second Sunday of Great Lent, presided at his glorification as a saint,
and even composed the Service in his honor.
These 99 martyrs were from Crete. The most prominent among them was
called John, and he was known as a wonderworker. He knelt so much in
prayer that he was not able to walk, and had to move about on his knees.
One day a woodsman saw him going about in this way. Thinking
that it was some wild animal, he shot the saint with an arrow. It is
said that the other ninety-eight Fathers also died on that same day.
Glorification of St Innocent, Metropolitan of Moscow, Enlightener of
the Aleuts and Apostle to America (in the world John Popov-Veniaminov),
was born on August 26, 1797 in the village of Anginsk in the Irkutsk
diocese, into the family of a sacristan. The boy mastered his studies at
an early age and by age seven, he was reading the Epistle in church. In
1806 they sent him to the Irkutsk seminary. In 1814, the new rector
thought it proper to change the surnames of some of the students. John
Popov received the surname Veniaminov in honor of the deceased
Archbishop Benjamin of Irkutsk (+ July 8, 1814). On May 13, 1817 he was
ordained deacon for the Irkutsk Annunciation church, and on May 18,
1821, he was ordained priest.
The missionary service of the
future Apostle of America and Siberia began with the year 1823. Father
John spent 45 years laboring for the enlightenment of the peoples of
Kamchatka, the Aleutian Islands, North America, Yakutsk, the Khabarov
frontier, performing his apostolic exploit in severe conditions and at
great risks to life. Saint Innocent baptized ten thousand people, and
built churches, beside which he founded schools and he himself taught
the fundamentals of the Christian life. His knowledge of various crafts
and arts aided him in his work.
Father John was a remarkable
preacher. During the celebration of the Liturgy, memorial services and
the all-night Vigil, he incessantly guided his flock. During his time of
endless travels, Father John studied the languages, customs and habits
of the peoples, among whom he preached. His work in geography,
ethnography and linguistics received worldwide acclaim. He composed an
alphabet and grammar for the Aleut language and translated the
Catechism, the Gospel and many prayers into that language. One of the
finest of his works was the Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of
Heaven (1833), translated into the various languages of the peoples of
Siberia and appearing in more than 40 editions. Thanks to the toil of
Father John, the Yakut people in 1859 first heard the Word of God and
divine services in their own native language.
On November 29,
1840, after the death of his wife, Father John was tonsured a monk with
the name Innocent by St Philaret, the Metropolitan of Moscow, in honor
of St Innocent of Irkutsk. On December 15, Archimandrite Innocent was
consecrated Bishop of Kamchatka, the Kurile and Aleutian Islands. On
April 21, 1850 Bishop Innocent was elevated to the rank of archbishop.
the Providence of God on January 5, 1868, St Innocent succeeded
Metropolitan Philaret on the Moscow cathedra. Through the Holy Synod,
Metropolitan Innocent consolidated the secular missionary efforts of the
Russian Church (already in 1839 he had proposed a project for improving
the organization of missionary service).
Under the care of
Metropolitan Innocent a Missionary Society was created, and the
Protection monastery was reorganized for missionary work. In 1870 the
Japanese Orthodox Spiritual Mission headed by Archimandrite Nicholas
Kasatkin (afterwards Saint Nicholas of Japan, (February 3) was set up,
to whom St innocent had shared much of his own spiritual experience. The
guidance by St Innocent of the Moscow diocese was also fruitful, by his
efforts, the church of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos was
built up into the Moscow Spiritual Academy.
St Innocent fell
asleep in the Lord on March 31, 1879, on Holy Saturday, and was buried
at the Holy Spirit Church of the Trinity-St Sergius Lavra. On October 6,
1977, St Innocent was glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church. His
memory is celebrated three times during the year: on March 31, the day
of his blessed repose, on October 5 (Synaxis of the Moscow Hierarchs),
and on October 6, the day of his glorification.
TROPARION - TONE 4
O Holy Father Innocent / In obedience to the will of God / You accepted
dangers and tribulations / Bringing many peoples to the knowledge of
truth. / You showed us the way, / Now by your prayers help lead us into
the Kingdom of Heaven.
TROPARION - TONE 4
You evangelized the northern people of America and Asia, / proclaiming
the Gospel of Christ to the natives in their own tongues. / Holy
Hierarch Father Innocent, / enlightener of Alaska and all America, /
your ways were ordered by the Lord! / Pray to Him for the salvation of
our souls in His heavenly Kingdom!
KONTAKION -TONE 2
A true celebration of the providence and grace of God / Is your life, O
holy father Innocent, Apostle to our land. / In hardships and dangers
you toiled for the Gospel’s sake / And God delivered and preserved you
unharmed. / From obscurity He highly exalted you as an example / That
the Lord truly guides a man in the way he should go.
Saint Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, was the son of wealthy pagan
parents. He converted to Christianity at a mature age, and became a
pupil of Origen. Later, he was appointed as the head of Alexandria’s
Catechetical School, and then became Bishop of Alexandria in the year
St Dionysius devoted much effort to defend the Church from
heresy, and he encouraged his flock in the firm confession of Orthodoxy
during the persecution under the emperors Decius (249-251) and Valerian
The holy bishop endured much suffering in his
lifetime. When the Decian persecution broke out, St Dionysius was forced
to flee Alexandria, but returned when the Emperor died. He was later
exiled to Libya during the reign of Valerian.
When he was able to
resume his duties in Alexandria in 261, St Dionysius had to contend
with civil war, famine, plague, and other difficulties. The saint called
upon his flock to tend sick Christians and pagans alike, and to bury
the dead. Concerning the death of his spiritual children he wrote, “In
such a manner the best of our brethren have departed this life. This
generation of the dead, a deed of great piety and firm faith, is no less
of a martyrdom.”
St Dionysius illumined his flock through his
preaching, and with deeds of love and charity. An illness prevented him
from attending the Council of Antioch (264- 265), and he fell asleep in
the Lord while it was in session.
The influence of St Dionysius
extended beyond the limits of his diocese, and his writings dealt with
practical as well as theological subjects (“On Nature,” “On
Temptations,” “On the Promises,” etc.). He was also familiar with Greek
philosophy. Only fragments of his writings survive today, most of them
preserved in Eusebius, who mentions him in his CHURCH HISTORY ( Book 7)
and calls him “Dionysius the Great.”
Two complete letters of St Dionysius are extant, one addressed to Novatian, and the other to Basilides.
Saint Cassian the Greek of Uglich, in the world Constantine,
was a descendant of the Greek Mangupa princes. He arrived in Moscow as
part of the delegation to Great Prince Ivan III, together with the
daughter of the Byzantine emperor, Sophia Paleologa.
decided to devote his life to the service of God, the saint declined the
offer to remain at the court of the Great Prince, and he resettled near
Bishop Joasaph of Rostov. When the bishop withdrew to the Therapon
monastery for solitude, Constantine followed him, and he led a strict
He accepted monasticism after a miraculous vision by
night of St Martinian, urging him to take monastic tonsure. After a
certain period of time, St Cassian left the monastery going not far from
the city of Uglich, near the confluence of the Volga and Uchma Rivers,
where he founded a monastery in honor of the Dormition of the Mother of
Reports of the monk spread widely, and many people began to
come to receive his blessing, to see the wilderness habitation and
converse with him. St Cassian accepted everyone with love, guiding them
on the way to salvation with quiet words.
The monk died in great
old age on October 2, 1504. In the Uglich Chronicles many miracles of
the saint were recorded. In particular, the protection of his monastery
from Polish soldiers in the years 1609-1611 by his prayers.
memory of St Cassian of Uglich is celebrated also on May 21, the day he
shares with his namesake, the holy Emperor Constantine the Great.
The Protection of
the Most Holy Theotokos: "Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the
Church, and with choirs of Saints she invisibly prays to God for us.
Angels and Bishops venerate Her, Apostles and prophets rejoice together,
Since for our sake she prays to the Eternal God!"
miraculous appearance of the Mother of God occurred in the mid-tenth
century in Constantinople, in the Blachernae church where her robe,
veil, and part of her belt were preserved after being transferred from
Palestine in the fifth century.
On Sunday, October 1, during
the All Night Vigil, when the church was overflowing with those at
prayer, the Fool-for-Christ St Andrew (October 2), at the fourth hour,
lifted up his eyes towards the heavens and beheld our most Holy Lady
Theotokos coming through the air, resplendent with heavenly light and
surrounded by an assembly of the Saints. St John the Baptist and the
holy Apostle John the Theologian accompanied the Queen of Heaven. On
bended knees the Most Holy Virgin tearfully prayed for Christians for a
long time. Then, coming near the Bishop's Throne, she continued her
After completing her prayer she took her veil and
spread it over the people praying in church, protecting them from
enemies both visible and invisible. The Most Holy Lady Theotokos was
resplendent with heavenly glory, and the protecting veil in her hands
gleamed "more than the rays of the sun." St Andrew gazed trembling at
the miraculous vision and he asked his disciple, the blessed Epiphanius
standing beside him, "Do you see, brother, the Holy Theotokos, praying
for all the world?" Epiphanius answered, "I do see, holy Father, and I
am in awe."
The Ever-Blessed Mother of God implored the Lord
Jesus Christ to accept the prayers of all the people calling on His Most
Holy Name, and to respond speedily to her intercession, "O Heavenly
King, accept all those who pray to You and call on my name for help. Do
not let them not go away from my icon unheard."
and Epiphanius were worthy to see the Mother of God at prayer, and "for a
long time observed the Protecting Veil spread over the people and
shining with flashes of glory. As long as the Most Holy Theotokos was
there, the Protecting Veil was also visible, but with her departure it
also became invisible. After taking it with her, she left behind the
grace of her visitation."
At the Blachernae church, the
memory of the miraculous appearance of the Mother of God was remembered.
In the fourteenth century, the Russian pilgrim and clerk Alexander, saw
in the church an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos praying for the world,
depicting St Andrew in contemplation of her.
Chronicle of St Nestor reflects that the protective intercession of the
Mother of God was needed because an attack of a large pagan Russian
fleet under the leadership of Askole and Dir. The feast celebrates the
divine destruction of the fleet which threatened Constantinople itself,
sometime in the years 864-867 or according to the Russian historian
Vasiliev, on June 18, 860. Ironically, this Feast is considered
important by the Slavic Churches but not by the Greeks.
Primary Chronicle of St Nestor also notes the miraculous deliverance
followed an all-night Vigil and the dipping of the garment of the Mother
of God into the waters of the sea at the Blachernae church, but does
not mention Sts Andrew and Epiphanius and their vision of the Mother of
God at prayer. These latter elements, and the beginnings of the
celebrating of the Feast of the Protection, seem to postdate St Nestor
and the Chronicle. A further historical complication might be noted
under (October 2) dating St Andrew's death to the year 936.
year of death might not be quite reliable, or the assertion that he
survived to a ripe old age after the vision of his youth, or that his
vision involved some later pagan Russian raid which met with the same
fate. The suggestion that St Andrew was a Slav (or a Scythian according
to other sources, such as S. V. Bulgakov) is interesting, but not
necessarily accurate. The extent of Slavic expansion and repopulation
into Greece is the topic of scholarly disputes.
PROLOGUE, a Russian book of the twelfth century, a description of the
establishment of the special Feast marking this event states, "For when
we heard, we realized how wondrous and merciful was the vision... and it
transpired that Your holy Protection should not remain without festal
celebration, O Ever-Blessed One!"
Therefore, in the festal
celebration of the Protection of the Mother of God, the Russian Church
sings, "With the choirs of the Angels, O Sovereign Lady, with the
venerable and glorious prophets, with the First-Ranked Apostles and with
the Hieromartyrs and Hierarchs, pray for us sinners, glorifying the
Feast of your Protection in the Russian Land." Moreover, it would seem
that St Andrew, contemplating the miraculous vision was a Slav, was
taken captive, and became the slave of the local inhabitant of
Constantinople named Theognostus.
Churches in honor of the
Protection of the Mother of God began to appear in Russia in the twelfth
century. Widely known for its architectural merit is the temple of the
Protection at Nerl, which was built in the year 1165 by holy Prince
Andrew Bogoliubsky. The efforts of this holy prince also established in
the Russian Church the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God,
about the year 1164.
At Novgorod in the twelfth century there
was a monastery of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos (the
so-called Zverin monastery) In Moscow also under Tsar Ivan the Terrible
the cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God was built at the
church of the Holy Trinity (known as the church of St Basil the
On the Feast of the Protection of the Most Holy
Theotokos we implore the defense and assistance of the Queen of Heaven,
"Remember us in your prayers, O Lady Virgin Mother of God, that we not
perish by the increase of our sins. Protect us from every evil and from
grievous woes, for in you do we hope, and venerating the Feast of your
Protection, we magnify you."
Troparion - Tone 4
the faithful celebrate the feast with joy illumined by your coming, O
Mother of God. Beholding your pure image we fervently cry to
you:"Encompass us beneath the precious veil of your protection; deliver
us from every form of evil by entreating Christ,your Son and our God
that He may save our souls."
Kontakion - Tone 3
the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church and with choirs of saints
she invisibly prays to God for us.Angels and bishops worship,apostles
and prophets rejoice together,since for our sake she prays to the