Saturday, February 28, 2015

Venerable John-Barsanuphius the Bishop of Damascus

Commemorated on February 28

Saint John, called Barsanuphius, was a native of Palestine. He was baptized when he was eighteen years old, and later became a monk. Because of his ascetic life, St John was consecrated Archbishop of Damascus. Because of his love for the solitary life, St John gave up his position as hierarch and secretly withdrew to Alexandria, calling himself Barsanuphius. Then he went into the Nitrian desert, arrived at a monastery, and begged the igumen to accept him into the monastery to serve the Elders. He conscientiously fulfilled this obedience by day, and spent his nights in prayer.

Theodore of Nitria saw the monk, and knew that he was a bishop. St John concealed himself again and withdrew into Egypt, where he lived in asceticism until the end of his days.


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Friday, February 27, 2015

St James of Syria

Saints James and Asclepius were Syrian ascetics, and lived during the fifth century. Theodoret of Cyrrhus speaks of them. St Asclepius led an ascetic life of temperance in his native village and was not hindered by constant association with many people.

He had many imitators and followers. One of them was St James, who secluded himself in a small dwelling near the village of Nimuza. Up until the end of his life, the ascetic did not leave his hermitage, but spoke to visitors through a small aperture in the wall, cut at a angle so that no one was able to see him. He never kindled a fire or lit a lamp.


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Thursday, February 26, 2015

New Martyr John Kalphes, the Apprentice

The Holy New Martyr John Kalphes (the Apprentice) lived in a suburb of Constantinople, called Galata. He was a cabinetmaker by profession, and he had acquired great skill in his craft, so that important officials made use of his services. He was entrusted with the inner adornment of the sultan’s palace.

St John Kalphes was distinguished for his Christian charity, he provided for orphans and those locked up in prison, and many turned to him for help. One time a certain dignitary asked St John to take on his nephew as an apprentice. He agreed, and the youth received an honorable position at court upon the completion of his apprenticeship.

Once, encountering his former teacher and benefactor, he asked St John what it says in the Christian books about their “prophet” Mohammed. St John did not want to answer his question, but because of the persistent demands of the youth, he declared that Mohammed was a mere mortal, an uneducated man who did not perform a single miracle during his lifetime. He went on to say that Mohammed was no prophet, but rather an adversary of God. The youth, devoted to Islam, reported to his fellow Moslems that the cabinetmaker had insulted Mohammed.

St John was brought to trial, where they demanded that he renounce Christ, but he bravely confessed his faith in Christ. After torture, they sent the holy martyr off to penal servitude, where he spent six months. Then, for the next three months they beat him in the prison. Seeing that they could not coerce him into submitting to their will, they beheaded him in the crowded city square in Ergat-Bazara, near the Bedestan (a covered bazaar) on February 26, 1575.

The suffering of the holy Martyr John Kalphes were recorded by Father Andrew, the Chief Steward (Megas Oikonomos) of the Patriarch of Constantinople, who communed him with the Holy Mysteries in prison.


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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople

February 25

This Saint was the son of one of the foremost princes in Constantinople, and was originally a consul and first among the Emperor's private counselors. Then, in 784, he was elected Patriarch of Constantinople by the Sovereigns Irene and her son Constantine Porphyrogenitus. He convoked the Seventh Ecumenical Council that upheld the holy icons, and became the boast of the Church and a light to the clergy. He reposed in 806.

Apolytikion of Tarasius, Pat. Of Constantinople in the Fourth Tone
A model of faith and the image of gentleness, the example of your life has shown you forth to your sheep-fold to be a master of temperance. You obtained thus through being lowly, gifts from on high, and riches through poverty. Tarasios, our father and priest of priests, intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.

Kontakion of Tarasius, Pat. Of Constantinople in the Third Tone
Thou didst make the Church to shine with thy most Orthodox doctrines, teaching all to venerate and worship Christ's sacred image; so didst thou convict the godless and hateful doctrine of all them that fought against Christ's ven'rable icon; O Tarasius our Father most wise and blessed, to thee we all cry: Rejoice.



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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

First & Second Finding of the Venerable Head of John the Baptist

February 24

The first finding came to pass during the middle years of the fourth century, through a revelation of the holy Forerunner to two monks, who came to Jerusalem to worship our Saviour's Tomb. One of them took the venerable head in a clay jar to Emesa in Syria. After his death it went from the hands of one person to another, until it came into the possession of a certain priest-monk named Eustathius, an Arian. Because he ascribed to his own false belief the miracles wrought through the relic of the holy Baptist, he was driven from the cave in which he dwelt, and by dispensation forsook the holy head, which was again made known through a revelation of Saint John, and was found in a water jar, about the year 430, in the days of the Emperor Theodosius the Younger, when Uranius was Bishop of Emesa.

Apolytikion of 1st & 2nd Finding of the Head of the Forerunner in the Fourth Tone
The Forerunner's sacred head, having dawned forth from the earth, doth send incorruption's rays unto the faithful, whereby they find healings of their ills. From on high he gathereth the choirs of the Angels and on earth he summoneth the whole race of mankind, that they with one voice might send up glory to Christ our God.

Kontakion of 1st & 2nd Finding of the Head of the Forerunner in the Second Tone
Since we have obtained thy head as a most sacred rose from out of the earth, O Forerunner of grace divine, we receive sure healing in every hour, O Prophet of God the Lord; for again, now as formerly, thou preachest repentance unto all the world.


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Monday, February 23, 2015

Venerable Alexander the founder of the Monastery, of the “Unsleeping Ones”

Commemorated on February 23

Saint Alexander, Founder of the Monastery of the “Unsleeping Ones,” was born in Asia and received his education at Constantinople. He spent some time in military service but, sensing a calling to other service, he left the world and received monastic tonsure in one of the desert monasteries near Antioch under the guidance of Igumen Elias.

Having advanced through all the degrees of monastic obedience, he received a blessing from the igumen to dwell in the wilderness. The saint lived an ascetical life in the wilderness, taking only the Holy Gospel with him. Afterwards, the Lord summoned him to preach to pagans. He converted to the faith the local city-head Rabbul, who afterwards prospered in the service of the Church, attaining the rank of bishop and for thirty years he occupied the bishop’s cathedra in the city of Edessa.

Finally, St Alexander settled not far from the Euphrates River. Monks gathered around him, attracted by the loftiness of his prayerful asceticism and spiritual experience. A monastery of 400 monks eventually sprang up there.

Then the holy igumen in his prayerful zeal decided to offer never-ceasing praise to the Lord at the monastery both by day and by night. For three years the holy abba prayed that God might reveal to him whether it was pleasing to Him to establish such a monastic rule. He received an answer by divine revelation. All the monks were divided into twenty-four watches of prayer. Changing shifts each hour, two choirs sang the holy Psalms both day and night, except when divine services were celebrated in church. Hence the name “Monastery of Unsleeping Ones,” since the ascetics offered unceasing praise to God.

St Alexander guided the monastery on the Euphrates for twelve years. Thereafter, having left the experienced Elder Trophimus as igumen, he set off with some chosen brethren through the cities bordering on Persia, to preach the Gospel. Having arrived at Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire, he also established a monastery there with his Rule of unceasing praise. The abba died at a great old age after fifty years of monastic struggles. His death occurred in the year 430.

St Alexander is also commemorated on July 3.


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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Venerable Thalassius Hermit of Syria

Saint Thalassius of Syria, lived during the fifth century. At a young age he withdrew to a hill near the village of Targala and passed 38 years there in monastic deeds, having neither a roof over his head, nor any cell nor shelter.

For his simple disposition, gentleness and humility he was granted by the Lord the gift of wonderworking and healing the sick. Many wanted to live under his guidance, and the saint did not refuse those coming to him. He himself built cells for them. He died peacefully, granted rest from his labors.


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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Timothy the Righteous

February 21

Saint Timothy took up the monastic life from his youth, became a vessel of the Holy Spirit, and reposed in deep old age.

Apolytikion of Timothy the Righteous in the Fourth 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 of Timothy the Righteous in the Fourth Tone
Thou didst rise up from the East like a most bright star, shining with the splendour of the virtues of thy miracles within the hearts of all faithful men, O wonder worker of godly mind, Timothy.


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Friday, February 20, 2015

St Agathon the Pope of Rome

Commemorated on February 20

Saint Agathon, Pope of Rome, was the son of pious Christian parents, who provided him an excellent education. After their death, St Agathon distributed his inheritance to the poor and became a monk. His virtuous life could not remain concealed from people. In 679, he was elected as the Bishop of Rome, and he remained in this position until his death in 682.


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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Martyr Philothea the Monastic

Commemorated on February 19

The Monastic Martyr Philothea was born in Athens in 1522. Her parents, Syriga and Angelos Benizelos, were renowned not only for being eminent and rich, but also deeply devout. Often the kind-hearted Syriga had implored the Most Holy Theotokos for a child. Her fervent prayers were heard, and a daughter was born to the couple. They named her Revoula.

The parents raised their daughter in deep piety and right belief, and when she was twelve years old they gave her away in marriage. Her husband turned out to be an impious and crude man, who often beat and tormented his wife. Revoula patiently endured the abuse and she prayed to God, that He might bring her husband to his senses.

After three years Revoula’s husband died, and she began to labor in fasting, vigil and prayer. The saint founded a women’s monastery in the name of the Apostle Andrew the First-Called (November 30 and June 30). When the monastery was completed, the saint was the first to accept monastic tonsure, with the name Philothea.

During this time Greece was suffering under the Turkish Yoke, and many Athenians had been turned into slaves by their Turkish conquerors. St Philothea utilized all her means to free her fellow countrywomen, ransoming many from servitude. Once, four women ran away from their Turkish masters, who demanded that they renounce their Christianity, and took refuge in the monastery of St Philothea.

The Turks, having learned where the Greek women had gone, burst into the saint’s cell, and beat her. They took her to the governor, who threw the holy ascetic into prison. In the morning, a mob of Turks had gathered, and they led her out of the prison. The governor said that if she did not renounce Christ, she would be hacked to pieces.

Just when St Philothea was ready to accept a martyr’s crown, a crowd of Christians assembled by the grace of God. They pacified the judges and freed the holy ascetic. Returning to her monastery, St Philothea continued with her efforts of abstinence, prayer and vigil, for which she was granted the gift of wonderworking. In Patesia,an Athens suburb, she founded a new monastery, where she struggled in asceticism with the sisters.

During the Vigil for St Dionysius the Areopagite (October 3), the Turks seized St Philothea and tortured her. Finally, they threw her down on the ground half-dead. The sisters tearfully brought the holy martyr, flowing with blood, to Kalogreza, where she died on February 19, 1589. Shortly thereafter, the relics of the holy Monastic Martyr Philothea were brought to the Athens cathedral church.


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Monday, February 16, 2015

St Maruthas the Bishop of Martyropolis and the Persian Martyrs in Mesopotamia

Commemorated on February 16

Saint Maruthas was Bishop of Tagrith (Martyropolis), a city which he founded between the Byzantine Empire and Persia. He was famed for his knowledge and his piety, he wrote about the martyrs, and he suffered for his faith in Christ under the Persian emperor Sapor. He also left behind other works in the Syrian language, among which the most famous are: “Commentary on the Gospel,” “Verses of Maruthas,” “Liturgy of Maruthas” and “The 73 Canons of the Ecumenical Council at Nicea” (325) with an account of the acts of the Council.

In the year 381 St Maruthas participated in the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople, convened against the heresy of Macedonius. In 383, he attended the Council of Antioch against the Messalians.

During the years 403-404 St Maruthas set off to Constantinople to plead with the emperor Arcadius to protect Persian Christians. He was twice sent by the emperor Theodosius the Younger to the Shah Izdegerd to secure the peace between the Empire and Persia.

In the year 414 St Maruthas, having done his duty as envoy to the court of Izdegerd, persuaded the Shah to a favorable disposition towards Christians, and he assisted greatly in the freedom of Christians in Persia. He rebuilt Christian churches razed during the persecution by the Persian ruler Sapor. He also located relics of saints who had suffered martyrdom and transferred them to Martyropolis. He died there in 422. The relics of St Maruthas were later transferred to Egypt and placed in a skete monastery of the Mother of God.


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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Venerable Paphnutius of Alexandria

The Holy Martyr Paphnutius hailed from Egypt and struggled in the desert. During the persecution against Christians under Diocletian (284-305), the governor Hadrian commanded that St Paphnutius be brought to him. The ascetic, not waiting for those sent to bring him, appeared before the governor, confessed his faith in Christ, and was subjected to torture.

The soldiers involved in his torture, Dionysius and Callimachus, seeing how the power of God preserved the martyr, believed in Christ the Savior themselves, for which they were then beheaded. Cast into prison after the tortures, St Paphnutius converted forty prisoners to the Faith. They were all burned alive.

After a while St Paphnutius was set free, and a Christian named Nestorius gladly took him in. He and all his family, after spiritual guidance, became steadfast in the Faith, and ultimately endured martyrdom. The saint strengthened many other Christians to confess our Lord Jesus Christ, and they all died as martyrs. Some were cut with swords, others were burned. There were 546 men in all.

St Paphnutius himself was thrown by the torturers into a river with a stone about his neck, but he miraculously floated to shore with the stone. Finally, they sent the holy martyr to the emperor Diocletian himself, who commanded him to be crucified on a date tree.

St Paphnutius is also commemorated on September 25.


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Saturday, February 14, 2015

St Abraham the Bishop of Charres in Mesopotamia

Commemorated on February 14

Saint Abraham, Bishop of Charres, lived during the mid-fourth and early fifth centuries, and was born in the city of Cyrrhus. In his youth he entered a monastery. Later he became a hermit in Lebanon, a place where many pagans lived.

St Abraham suffered much vexation from the pagans, who wanted to expel him from their area. He once saw tax-collectors beating those who were unable to pay. Moved to pity, he paid the taxes for them, and those people later accepted Christ.

The Christian inhabitants of this village built a church and they fervently besought St Abraham to accept the priesthood and become their pastor. The monk fulfilled their wish. Having encouraged his flock in the faith, he left them in place of himself another priest, and he again retired to a monastery.

For his deep piety he was made bishop of Charres; his pastors the saint constantly taught by his God-pleasing life. From the time of his accepting of the priesthood, he never used cooked food. The emperor Theodosius the Younger wanted to meet the bishop and made him an invitation. After he arrived in Constantinople, St Abraham soon died. His remains were solemnly transferred to the city of Charres and there given over to burial.


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Friday, February 13, 2015

Aquilla & Priscilla the Apostles

February 13

Apolytikion of Apostles Aquila and Pricilla in the Third Tone
O Holy Apostles, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.


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Thursday, February 12, 2015

St Prochorus of Georgia

Commemorated on February 12

Saint Prokhore the Georgian, a descendant of the noble Shavteli family, was born at the end of the 10th century and grew up in a monastery. When he reached manhood he was ordained a hieromonk and labored for one year at the Lavra of St. Sabbas in Jerusalem. Then, with the blessing of his spiritual father Ekvtime Grdzeli, he began the reconstruction of the Holy Cross Georgian Monastery near Jerusalem.

According to tradition, at this spot Abraham’s nephew Lot planted three trees—a cypress, a pine, and a cedar. Eventually these three trees miraculously grew into one large tree. When the Temple of Solomon was being built, this tree was cut down but left unused. It is said that the Cross on which Christ our Savior was crucified was constructed from the wood of this tree.

In the 4th century, the land on which the miraculous tree had grown was presented to Holy King Mirian, the first Christian king of Georgia. Then in the 5th century, during the reign of Holy King Vakhtang Gorgasali, the Holy Cross Monastery was founded on that land. The monastery was destroyed several times between the 7th and 9th centuries.

Finally, in the 11th century, King Bagrat Kuropalates offered much of his wealth to Fr. Prokhore for the restoration of the monastery. St. Prokhore beautified the monastery, then gathered eighty monks and established the typicon (the monastic rule) for the community in accordance with that of the St. Sabbas Lavra.

When St. Prokhore had labored long and lived to an advanced age, he chose his disciple Giorgi to be the monastery’s next abbot.

Then he departed for the wilderness with two of his disciples, and after some time the righteous monk yielded up his spirit to God.

Beyond this, little is known about the life of St. Prokhore. According to Georgian researchers and scholars, he was probably born sometime between 985 and 990. He spent the years 1010 to 1015 in Jerusalem, and labored at the Lavra of St. Sabbas until 1025. He reposed in the year 1066, between the ages of 76 and 81.

The holy martyr Luka of Jerusalem lived in the 13th century. He was born to an honorable, pious Georgian family by the name of Mukhaisdze. After the repose of Luka’s father, his mother left her children and went to labor at a monastery in Jerusalem.

When Luka reached the age of twenty, he traveled to Jerusalem to visit his mother and venerate the holy places. After spending some time there he decided to remain and be tonsured a monk. He was later ordained a deacon and became fluent in Arabic. Soon the brothers of the monastery recognized his wisdom and asked him to guide them as abbot. For three years Luka directed the monastery in an exemplary manner.

But the devil was envious of the holy father and provoked a certain Shekh-Khidar, an influential Persian at the court of Sultan Penducht, (Probably Sultan Zakhir-Rukedin-Baibars-Bundukdar of Egypt (1260-1277)) to take up arms against St. Luka. Sultan Penducht then transferred possession of the Holy Cross Monastery to Shekh-Khidar, who “treated the Georgian monks in a beastly manner and finally ousted them from the monastery altogether.” Fulfilling his God-given duty, the blessed Luka insisted on personally confronting Shekh-Khidar in defense of his brotherhood.

Luka’s Christian brothers and sisters warned him, saying, “Shekh-Khidar is threatening you.... Flee and hide from him!” But Luka paid no heed to their admonitions, certain that it was more fitting to die for Christ than to live for the world. As he had insisted, he himself approached Shekh-Khidar and asked for the release of the imprisoned fathers.

Luka told him that he was prepared to accept any demands. The wicked Persian leader demanded nothing from Luka except that he convert to Islam, promising to make him emir if he consented. When he refused, the furious Shekh-Khidar ordered St. Luka’s beheading.

After the terrible deed had been performed, St. Luka’s severed head turned toward the east and gave thanks to God with an expression of pure peace. Soon after, his precious body was set on fire at the command of the bewildered Shekh-Khidar. This occurred in 1277. St. Nikoloz Dvali the Martyr was born at the end of the 13th century to a God-fearing couple who directed his path toward the spiritual life.

At the age of twelve Nikoloz traveled to the Klarjeti Wilderness and was tonsured a monk. From there he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and remained in the holy city, settling at the Holy Cross Monastery. Burning with desire for the apostolic life, Monk Nikoloz was determined to die a martyr’s death.

In Jerusalem a group of godless men arrested and tormented St. Nikoloz for publicly confessing the Christian Faith, but a group of Christians succeeded in rescuing him from prison. Then, in accordance with his abbot’s counsel, St. Nikoloz relocated to a Georgian monastery on Cyprus. There the pious monk beseeched the Lord to make him worthy of the crown of martyrdom. One day, while he was praying before the icon of St. John the Baptist, he heard a voice saying, “Nikoloz! Arise and go to Jerusalem. There you will find a Georgian monk who will teach you the way of righteousness and encourage you on the path of martyrdom. He has been appointed to guide you.”

Accordingly, St. Nikoloz returned to Jerusalem, met the monk whom God had appointed, and informed him of what had been revealed. The Most Holy Theotokos and St. John the Baptist appeared to St. Nikoloz’s spiritual father, who had been praying intensely for guidance, and told him that it was the Lord’s will for Nikoloz to journey to Damascus.

While in Damascus, the holy father entered a mosque and openly confessed Christ to be the Savior, reproving those present for their folly. The angry Muslims seized St. Nikoloz, beat him, and cast him into prison. After a great struggle, the metropolitan and local Christians succeeded in recovering him from captivity, but he immediately returned to the Muslims and began again to denounce their ungodly ways. Again they beat him mercilessly, lashed him five hundred times, and cast him in prison for a second time. But the holy martyr’s wounds were healed through the miraculous intercession of St. John the Baptist, and after two months he was released from prison.

By chance the emir of the city caught a glimpse of St. Nikoloz as he was preparing to return to Jerusalem. The emir recognized him and sent him to Dengiz, the emir of emirs. Dengiz flattered him and offered to convert him to Islam, but St. Nikoloz bravely defended his faith in Christ. In response, Dengiz ordered his execution.

At the hour appointed by Dengiz, the blessed martyr turned to the east, joyfully bowed his neck to the sword, and prayed, “Glory to Thee, O Christ God, Who hast accounted me worthy to die for Thy name’s sake.” The sword pierced his neck, but the severed head glorified God seven times, crying out, “Glory to Thee, O Christ our God!”

The Persians burned the saint’s body, and for three days a pillar of light shone at the place where it lay.
When St.Nikoloz’s spiritual father heard about his martyrdom, he prayed to God to reveal to him whether Nikoloz would be numbered among the saints. Then one day while he was reading, he saw a vision of a host of saints standing atop a mountain, illumined and surrounded by a cloud of incense. Among them the Great-martyr George shone especially brightly, and he called St. Nikoloz, saying, “Nikoloz! Come and see the monk, your spiritual father. He has shed many tears for you.”

Nikoloz greeted his spiritual father, saying, “Behold me and the place where I am, and from this day cease your sorrowing for me.”

St. Nikoloz Dvali was tortured to death on Tuesday, October 19, in the year 1314. The Georgian Church continues to commemorate him on that date.


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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Righteous Theodora, wife of the Emperor Theophilus, the Iconoclast

Commemorated on February 11

Holy Empress Theodora was the wife of the Byzantine emperor Theophilus the Iconoclast (829-842), but she did not share in the heresy of her husband and secretly venerated the holy icons. After the death of her husband, St Theodora governed the realm because her son Michael was a minor.

She convened a Council, at which the Iconoclasts were anathematized, and the veneration of icons was reinstated. St Theodora established the annual celebration of this event, the Triumph of Orthodoxy, on the first Sunday of the Great Fast. St Theodora did much for Holy Church and fostered a firm devotion to Orthodoxy in her son Michael.

When Michael came of age, she was retired from governing and spent eight years in the monastery of St Euphrosyne, where she devoted herself to ascetic struggles, and reading books that nourished her soul.

A copy of the Gospels, copied in her own hand, is known to exist. She died peacefully around the year 867.

In 1460, her relics were given by the Turks to the people of Kerkyra (Kephalonia).


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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Venerable Prochorus of the Kiev Near Caves

Commemorated on February 10

Saint Prochorus of the Caves was a native of Smolensk, and entered the Kiev Caves monastery under the igumen John (1089-1103). He was a great ascetic of strict temperance. In place of bread he ate pigweed (or orach), and so he was called “pigweed-eater.” Every summer, he gathered pigweed and made enough bread from it to last him for a whole year. He also ate prosphora from church now and then, and his only drink was water. Seeing the patience of St Prochorus, God transformed the usual bitterness of the pigweed into sweetness.

During the saint’s lifetime, a famine threatened Russia. Prochorus began to gather the pigweed even more zealously and to prepare his “bread”. Certain people followed his example, but they were not able to eat this weed because of its bitterness. Prochorus distributed his pigweed bread to the needy, and it tasted like it was made from fine wheat. Only the bread given with the blessing of St Prochorus was edible, and even pure and light in appearance. If anyone tried to prepare this bread himself, or take it without the saint’s blessing, it was not fit for consumption. This became known to the igumen and the brethren, and the fame of Prochorus spread far and wide.

After a certain while there was no salt at Kiev, and the people suffered because of this. Then the saint gathered ashes from all the cells, and began to distribute it to the needy. Through his prayers, the ashes became pure salt. The merchants, who hoped to take advantage of this shortage of salt for their own profit, became angry with St Prochorus for distributing free salt to the people.

Prince Svyatopolk confiscated the salt from Prochorus. When they transported it to the prince’s court, everyone saw that it was just ordinary ashes. After three days, Svyatopolk gave orders to discard it. St Prochorus blessed the people to take the discarded ashes, and they were again changed into salt.

This miracle reformed the fierce prince. He began to pray zealously, made peace with the igumen of the monastery of the Caves, and highly esteemed St Prochorus. When the last hour of the saint approached, the prince left his army and hastened to him, even though he was at war.

He received his blessing and with his own hands, carried the body of the saint to the cave and buried him. Returning to his army, Svyatopolk easily gained victory over the Polvetsians, turning them to flight and capturing their supply carts. Such was the great power of the prayer of St Prochorus.

The righteous one died in the year 1107, and was buried in the Near Caves. He is also commemorated on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


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Monday, February 09, 2015

Venerable Pancratius of the Kiev Caves

The holy hieromonk Pancratius performed the divine services with much grace, and received the gift of working miracles. He shared his gifts with those who asked, healing the sick with fasting, prayer, and by anointing them with holy oil.


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Sunday, February 08, 2015

Greatmartyr Theodore Stratelates “the General”

Commemorated on February 8

The Great Martyr Theodore Stratelates came from the city of Euchaita in Asia Minor. He was endowed with many talents, and was handsome in appearance. For his charity God enlightened him with the knowledge of Christian truth. The bravery of the saintly soldier was revealed after he, with the help of God, killed a giant serpent living on a precipice in the outskirts of Euchaita. The serpent had devoured many people and animals, terrorizing the countryside. St Theodore armed himself with a sword and vanquished it, glorifying the name of Christ among the people.

For his bravery St Theodore was appointed military commander [stratelatos] in the city of Heraclea, where he combined his military service with preaching the Gospel among the pagans subject to him. His gift of persuasion, reinforced by his personal example of Christian life, turned many from their false gods. Soon, nearly all of Heraclea had accepted Christianity.

During this time the emperor Licinius (311-324) began a fierce persecution against Christians. In an effort to stamp out the new faith, he persecuted the enlightened adherents of Christianity, who were perceived as a threat to paganism. Among these was St Theodore. Licinius tried to force St Theodore to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. The saint invited Licinius to come to him with his idols so both of them could offer sacrifice before the people.

Blinded by his hatred for Christianity, Licinius trusted the words of the saint, but he was disappointed. St Theodore smashed the gold and silver statues into pieces, which he then distributed to the poor. Thus he demonstrated the vain faith in soulless idols, and also displayed Christian charity.

St Theodore was arrested and subjected to fierce and refined torture. He was dragged on the ground, beaten with iron rods, had his body pierced with sharp spikes, was burned with fire, and his eyes were plucked out. Finally, he was crucified. Varus, the servant of St Theodore, barely had the strength to write down the incredible torments of his master.

God, however, in His great mercy, willed that the death of St Theodore should be as fruitful for those near him as his life was. An angel healed the saint’s wounded body and took him down from the cross. In the morning, the imperial soldiers found him alive and unharmed. Seeing with their own eyes the infinite might of the Christian God, they were baptized not far from the place of the unsuccessful execution.

Thus St Theodore became “like a day of splendor” for those pagans dwelling in the darkness of idolatary, and he enlightened their souls “with the bright rays of his suffering.” Unwilling to escape martyrdom for Christ, St Theodore voluntarily surrendered himself to Licinius, and discouraged the Christians from rising up against the torturer, saying, “Beloved, halt! My Lord Jesus Christ, hanging upon the Cross, restrained the angels and did not permit them to take revenge on the race of man.”

Going to execution, the holy martyr opened up the prison doors with just a word and freed the prisoners from their bonds. People who touched his robe were healed instantly from sicknesses, and freed from demonic possession. By order of the emperor, St Theodore was beheaded by the sword. Before his death he told Varus, “ Do not fail to record the day of my death, and bury my body in Euchaita.” He also asked to be remembered each year on this date. Then he bent his neck beneath the sword, and received the crown of martyrdom which he had sought. This occurred on February 8, 319, on a Saturday, at the third hour of the day.

St Theodore is regarded as the patron saint of soldiers. He is also commemorated on June 8.


Truly enlisted with the King of Heaven, / you became an outstanding general for Him, passion-bearer Theodore; / you armed yourself wisely with the weapons of faith / and conquered hordes of demons, revealing yourself as a victorious athlete. / Therefore, in faith we always call you blessed.


With the word of God as a spear in your hand, / in courage of soul and armed with faith, / you vanquished the enemy, Theodore, glory of martyrs, / with whom you unceasingly pray to Christ God for us all.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2014(with 2013's link here also and further:, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Parthenius, Bishop of Lampsacus

February 7

Saint Parthenius was born in Melitopolis on the Hellespont, the son of a deacon named Christopher. Because of the miracles that he wrought even as a young man, he was ordained a priest and then Bishop of Lampsacus in the days of Saint Constantine the Great, from whom he received great gifts and authority both to overturn the altars of the idols and to raise up a church to the glory of Christ. Working many miracles throughout his life, he reposed in peace an old man and full of days.

Apolytikion of Parthenius, Bishop of Lampsacus in the Fourth 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 of Parthenius, Bishop of Lampsacus in the Third Tone
Since thou hadst received God's grace to work ineffable marvels, godly-wise Parthenius, thou sacred worker of wonders, thou didst wholly cleanse the faithful of all their passions, casting wicked spirits out, O God-bearing Father; for this cause we sing thy praise as a great initiate of the divine grace of God.



SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2014(with 2013's link here also and further:, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Friday, February 06, 2015

Virginmartyr Dorothy at Caesarea and with her the Martyrs Christina, Callista and the Martyr Theophilus, in Cappadocia

Commemorated on February 6

The Holy Martyr Dorothy, the Martyrs Christina, Callista and the Martyr Theophilus lived in Caesarea of Cappadocia and suffered under the emperor Diocletian in either the year 288 or 300.

St Dorothy was a pious Christian maiden, distinguished by her great beauty, humility, prudence, and God-given wisdom, which astonished many. Arrested upon orders of the governor Sapricius, she steadfastly confessed her faith in Christ and was subjected to tortures.

Failing to break the will of the saint, the governor sent to her two women, the sisters Christina and Callista, who once were Christians, but fearing torture, they renounced Christ and began to lead impious lives. He ordered them to get St Dorothy to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, but just the reverse happened. St Dorothy convinced them that the mercy of God is granted to all who repent, so they corrected themselves and returned to Christ. The tormentors tied them back to back and burned them in a vat of tar. Through martyrdom, Christina and Callista atoned for their sin of apostasy, receiving from God not only forgiveness, but crowns of victory.

St Dorothy was again subjected to tortures, but she gladly endured them and accepted the death sentence. She cried out with joy, thanking Christ for calling her to Paradise and to the heavenly bridal chamber. As they led the saint to execution Theophilus, one of the governor’s counselors, laughed and said to her, “Bride of Christ, send me an apple and some roses from the Paradise of your Bridegroom.” The martyr nodded and said, “I shall do that.”

At the place of execution, the saint requested a little time to pray. When she finished the prayer, an angel appeared before her in the form of a handsome child presenting her three apples and three roses on a pure linen cloth. The saint requested that these be given to Theophilus, after which she was beheaded by the sword.

Having received the gracious gift, the recent mocker of Christians was shaken, and he confessed Christ as the true God. His friends were astonished, and wondered whether he were joking, or perhaps mad. He assured them he was not joking. Then they asked the reason for this sudden change. He asked what month it was. “February,” they replied. “In the winter, Cappadocia is covered with ice and frost, and the trees are bare of leaves. What do you think? From where do these apples and flowers come?” After being subjected to cruel tortures, St Theophilus was beheaded with a sword.

The relics of St Dorothy are in Rome in the church dedicated to her, and her head is also at Rome, in a church of the Mother of God at Trastevero.


Your lamb Dorothy, calls out to You, O Jesus, in a loud voice: / “I love You, my Bridegroom, Bridegroom, and in seeking You I endure endure suffering. / In baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in You, and I died so that I might live with You. / Accept me as a pure sacrifice, / for I have offered offered myself in love.” / Through her prayers save our souls, since You are merciful.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2014(with 2013's link here also and further:, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Icon of the Mother of God “the Rescuer of the Drowning”

Commemorated on February 5

The Divnogorsk-Sicilian Icon of the Mother of God received the first part of its title from where it was enshrined when it was glorified: the Dormition monastery of Divnogorsk, in the former Ostrogozhsk district in Voronezh governance. Its title of “Sicilian” comes from its place of origin, since by tradition this icon at Diva (i.e. “Wondrous Heights”) was brought from Sicily by the pious monastic Elders Xenophon and Joasaph. They suggest that these saints were Orthodox Greeks by birth, and that they had arrived there not earlier than the end of the fifteenth century. Xenophon and Joasaph founded a monastery at a scenic spot above the River Don, near the confluence of the River Tikha Sosna [Quiet Pine River]. The place was called Wondrous Heights by those struck by the form of the chalk columns throughout the hills.

It is said that Xenophon and Joasaph lived in a cave (where later the church of St John the Forerunner was built), and that they carved out the first church in a chalk column, into which also they put the Sicilian Icon of the Mother of God which they had brought with them. Here is where they found their eternal repose.

On the Divnogorsk-Sicilian Icon of the Mother of God, the Theotokos is depicted sitting in the clouds. In Her right hand is a white lily blossom, and with Her left arm She supports the Divine Infant, Who sits upright upon Her knees. The Savior holds a lily blossom in His left hand, and blesses with His right hand. Around the face of the Mother of God are eight angels. The two beneath are shown on bended knee and with hands upraised in prayer. Over the head of the Theotokos is the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.

The special glorification of the icon began in the year 1831, when cholera was raging. At Korotoyak, 7-8 versts from the monastery, the Most Holy Virgin appeared (as She is depicted in the Divnogorsk Icon) to a certain elderly woman, Ekaterina Kolomenska, in a dream. She commanded that Her icon be brought and a Molieben be served before it. The wonderworking icon was brought to Korotoyak, and after a Molieben before the holy icon, the cholera ceased.

By the intercession of the Mother of God, the city of Ostrogozhsk also was saved from cholera. The people of Korotoyak and Ostrogozhsk were also saved from cholera in 1847 and 1848 through the miraculous intercession of the Mother of God, which occurred after a church procession around these towns with the holy icon.

According to Tradition, the feastday of the wonderworking icon on February 5 was established already at its original habitation by Xenophon and Joasaph.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2014(with 2013's link here also and further:, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

St Evagrisi the disciple of St Shio

Commemorated on February 4

Saint Evagre was born to God-fearing and pious parents who read the Holy Scriptures to him from the earliest years of his childhood. When he reached manhood, Evagre became ruler of Tsikhedidi.

One day Evagre went hunting in the Sarkineti Mountains where Shio of Mgvime had settled. While he was hunting, his companions dispersed in various directions, and he was left alone to survey his surroundings. There he beheld a bird, resembling a dove, on its way to bring food to Fr. Shio, and noted the place where it landed.

The next day he located the hermit’s cave dwelling.

Astonished at Fr. Shio’s strict asceticism, St. Evagre was filled with holy envy, having a desire to emulate the hermit, and he told him, “God is truly alive. I will not leave you, I will not go back.” St. Shio advised him to be wary of such an impulsive decision, since it would be quite difficult for a man who had grown up in luxury to suddenly begin a new life in the wilderness. But Evagre answered him firmly, “Even if it means I must die here with you today, I will not depart from this place.”

In order to test his faith, St. Shio entrusted Evagre with his staff and instructed him, saying, “Put my staff in the Mtkvari River; it will part the water and clear a path for you to cross. Secure your home and return to me. On your return when you reach the Mtkvari, use my staff again to clear a path for yourself. If it fails, then continue on your way as before. That would mean that it is not God’s will to fulfill your desire.”

Evagre obediently took St. Shio’s staff and touched it to the water of the Mtkvari. The river parted, and he crossed confidently to the other side.

Having returned to the palace, Evagre distributed all his possessions to the poor, secured his home, and set off again to find Fr. Shio. He performed the same miracle on his return: the river parted in two, and the faithful Evagre passed through.

Fr. Shio tonsured Evagre into the monastic life, and the former ruler settled near the holy father’s cave. There he learned to be patient and watchful and how to pray, while acquiring other virtues as fruits of his ascetic labors.

St. Shio anticipated that the number of monks in the wilderness would multiply, and he built a church for them in a place that God had revealed. The great gifts of the holy fathers were soon made known, and many pilgrims journeyed to the Sarkineti Mountains to receive their blessings. When King Parsman heard, belatedly, that his beloved army chief had been tonsured a monk, he became sorrowful and personally traveled to St. Shio’s wilderness. His hope was to bring Evagre back into the world, but the blessed father responded with monastic composure: “O King! Why are you disturbing me, a man born to serve God, by asking me to become like a dog who returns to his own vomit (c.f. Prov. 26:11)?”

The news of St. Shio, Evagre, and the other holy strugglers spread throughout Georgia, and many laymen were inspired to enter the monastic life.

After many years St. Shio grew old, and he gathered the brotherhood of monks around him. “You must choose one from among you to lead this community. From now on I will labor in the well that I have prepared for my grave,” he told them. The brothers were exceedingly sorrowful at having to part with their beloved teacher, and in vain they pleaded with him to remain at the monastery. At last they asked Fr. Shio to appoint a successor, and he chose Evagre as the monastery’s next abbot.

The humble, gracious Evagre objected to this appointment, considering himself unfit to fulfill such a difficult responsibility. He begged St. Shio to reconsider his decision, but the elder simply responded, “If you consent to our will, you will receive a joyous reward from God: when He returns in His glory, He will repay you for your obedience.”

At last St. Evagre accepted his teacher’s counsel, and he directed the monastery’s activity with the help of God from that day forward.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2014(with 2013's link here also and further:, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Prophet Azariah

The name Azariah means “whom God helps.” The holy prophet lived during King Asa’s reign (2 Chron. 15:1).


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2014(with 2013's link here also and further:, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Monday, February 02, 2015

The Presentation of Our Lord and Savior in the Temple

February 2

When the most pure Mother and Ever-Virgin Mary's forty days of purification had been fulfilled, she took her first-born Son to Jerusalem on this, the fortieth day after His birth, that she might present Him in the temple according to the Law of Moses, which teaches that every first-born male child be dedicated to God, and also that she might offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons, as required by the Law (Luke 2:22-24; Exod. 13:2; Lev. 12:6-8). On this same day, a just and devout man, the greatly aged Symeon, was also present in the temple, being guided by the Holy Spirit. For a long time, this man had been awaiting the salvation of God, and he had been informed by divine revelation that he would not die until he beheld the Lord's Christ. Thus, when he beheld Him at that time and took Him up into his aged arms, he gave glory to God, singing: "Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, O Master. . ." And he confessed that he would close his eyes joyfully, since he had seen the Light of revelation for the nations and the Glory of Israel (Luke 2:25-32). From ancient times, the Holy Church has retained this tradition of the churching of the mother and new-born child on the fortieth day and of the reading of prayers of purification.

The Apodosis of the Feast of the Meeting in the Temple is usually on the 9th of February. This, however, may vary if the Feast falls within the period of the Triodion. Should this occur, the Typicon should be consulted for specific information concerning the Apodosis of the Feast.

Apolytikion of Presentation of Our Lord in the First Tone
Hail Virgin Theotokos full of Grace, for Christ our God, the Sun of Righteousness, has dawned from you, granting light to those in darkness. And you, O Righteous Elder, rejoice, taking in your arms, the Deliverance of our souls, who grants us Resurrection.

Kontakion of Presentation of Our Lord in the First Tone
Your birth sanctified a Virgin's womb and properly blessed the hands of Symeon. Having now come and saved us O Christ our God, give peace to Your commonwealth in troubled times and strengthen those in authority, whom You love, as only the loving One.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2014(with 2013's link here also and further:, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Venerable Peter the Hermit of Galatia Near Antioch, in Syria

Saint Peter of Galatia left home at the age of seven, then spent the rest of his life in ascetical labors as a monk. At first, he remained in Galatia, then went to Palestine. Later, he went to Antioch. There he enclosed himself in a tomb, devoting himself to deeds of prayer and strict abstinence. He partook of bread and water only every other day. Because of his holy life, God granted him the gift of wonderworking, healing infirmities and expelling devils.

St Peter died around the year 429 at the age of ninety-nine. His Life was written by Theodoret of Cyrrhus, whose mother had been healed by the saint.

This St Peter should not be confused with the other St Peter of Galatia, who is commemorated on October 9.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2014(with 2013's link here also and further:, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):