Wednesday, August 31, 2016

St Gennadius the Patriarch of Constantinople

Commemorated on August 31

Saint Gennadius, Patriarch of Constantinople, ascended the throne of the Church of Constantinople in the year 458, during the reign of the holy emperor Leo the Great (457-474). His life is known from the book THE SPIRITUAL MEADOW in which tales of Sts Sophronius and John, monks of Salamis monastery near Alexandria, were recorded. These monks were clergy of the Church of Constantinople under Patriarch Gennadius.

St Gennadius was distinguished for his mildness, tolerance, purity and abstinence. One may get some idea of the power of his prayer from the following instance: in the church of the holy Martyr Eleutherius at Constantinople was a disreputable reader Charisius, spending his life in idleness, impurity and even occupying himself with murder and sorcery. For a long time, St Gennadius admonished him with gentleness and patience, but Charisius did not change his conduct. The Patriarch resorted to strictness and gave orders to chastize and discipline the disreputable cleric. But even after the punishment, he did not correct himself.

Patriarch Gennadius then sent his emissary in his name to the holy Martyr Eleutherius (August 4) in whose church Charisius served as a reader. Entering the temple, the emissary of the Patriarch came before the altar, stretched out his hand to the grave of the martyr and said: “Holy Martyr Eleutherius! Patriarch Gennadius declares to you, through me a sinner, that the cleric Charisius, serving in your temple, does much iniquity and creates great scandal; therefore, either improve him or cut him off from the Church.”

On the following morning, Charisius was found dead.

Another instance, displaying the great strength of prayer of St Gennadius, occurred with one of the portrait painters who dared to paint an image of Christ, giving the Savior the features of the pagan god Zeus. The hand of the painter, having done such blasphemy, immediately withered. The repentant painter was brought in the church and confessed all his sins to the Patriarch. St Gennadius prayed over the sinner, and the hand of the painter was healed.

To settle iniquitous actions and false teachings arising in the Church, St Gennadius summoned a local Council which condemned the Eutychian heresy and prohibited simony (ordination for a payment of money). The saint would not ordain a man to the priesthood unless he was quite knowledgeable in Holy Scripture, and knew the Psalter by heart.

During the patriarchate of St Gennadius, a temple was built in honor of St John the Forerunner. Then a certain senator Studius of Rome founded a monastery which later became known as the Studion. The church steward under the holy Patriarch Gennadius was St Marcian (January 10). The Patriarch also ordained St Daniel the Stylite (December 11) to the priesthood.

St Gennadius was the author of dialogues and commentaries on the Prophet Daniel (the works have not survived). There is also his Encyclical Against Simony, affirmed by a Council of the year 459. St Gennadius governed the Church of Constantinople for thirteen years. He died peacefully in the year 471.

One night while he was praying, it was revealed to the saint that a powerful enemy would fall upon his flock. He incessantly offered up prayer for the peace of the Church, that the Lord would preserve it invincible against the gates of Hades.


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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

St Daniel, Archbishop of Serbia

Commemorated on August 30

The Synaxis of Serbian Hierarchs celebrates archpastors of the Serbian Church of the thirteenth—fourteenth centuries. The majority of them have individual days of celebration in addition to this general commemoration. St Daniel is commemorated on December 20.


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Friday, August 26, 2016

Icon of the Mother of God “Virgin of Tenderness” of the Pskov Caves

Commemorated on August 26

The “Tenderness” Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God was found in the monastery of the caves in 1521, and was transferred to the city of Pskov by the pious Christians Basil and Theodore. The Icon is particularly renowned for the deliverance of Pskov and the Pskov Caves monastery from the army of Stephen Bathory (1533-1586) in 1581. It is commemorated on May 21, June 23, August 26, October 7, and on the Seventh Sunday of Pascha.

The Tenderness Icon of the Mother of God is of the Eleousa (Umilenie) type, and is regarded as the patroness of the city of Pskov.

The October 7 commemoration was established in thanksgiving for the deliverance of Pskov from the invading army of Napoleon in 1812.


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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Appearance of the Mother of God to St Sergius of Radonezh

Commemorated on August 24

 Once, late at night, St Sergius (1314-1392) was reading an Akathist to the Mother of God. Having finished his habitual rule, he sat down to rest a bit, but suddenly he said to his disciple, St Micah (May 6): “Be alert, my child, for we shall have a wondrous visitation.” Scarcely had he uttered these words than a voice was heard: “The All-Pure One approaches!”

St Sergius rushed from the cell to the entrance, and suddenly it was illumined by a bright light, brighter than the sun. He beheld nearby in imperishable glory the Mother of God, accompanied by the Apostles Peter and John. Unable to bear such a vision, St Sergius reverently prostrated himself before the Mother of God. She said to him, “Fear not, My chosen one! I have come to visit you. Your prayer for your disciples and your monastery has been heard. Do not be troubled, for your habitation shall prosper, not only in your lifetime, but also after your departure to God. I will be with your monastery, supplying its needs abundantly, and protecting it.” Having said this, the Mother of God became invisible.

For a long time St Sergius was in an inexpressible rapture, and having come to himself, he raised up St Micah. “Tell me, Father,” he asked, “what is the meaning of this miraculous vision? My soul nearly left my body from terror!” But St Sergius was silent, and only his luminous face spoke of the spiritual joy which he had experienced. “Wait a bit,” he said finally to his disciple, “my soul also trembles because of this wondrous vision.”

After a while St Sergius summoned two of his disciples, Sts Isaac and Simon, and shared with them the vision and the promise of the Theotokos. They all sang a Molieben to the Mother of God. St Sergius spent the remaining part of the night without sleep, calling to mind the divine vision.

The appearance of the Mother of God at the cell of St Sergius, at the present place of the Serapionov chamber, was on one of the Fridays of the Nativity Fast in the year 1385. The commemoration of the visit of the Mother of God to the Trinity monastery and of Her promise was reverently kept by the disciples of St Sergius.

On July 5, 1422 the holy relics of St Sergius were uncovered, and soon after an icon of the Appearance of the Mother of God was placed on the grave of St Sergius. The icon was honored with great reverence.

In the year 1446 Great Prince Basil (1425-1462) was besieged at the Trinity monastery by the armies of Princes Demetrius Shemyaka and John of Mozhaisk. He barricaded himself into the Trinity cathedral, and when he heard that he was being sought, he took the icon of the Appearance of the Mother of God and with it met Prince John at the southern church doors, saying: “Brother, we kissed the Life-Creating Cross and this icon in this church of the Life-Creating Trinity at this grave of the Wonderworker Sergius, that we would neither intend nor wish any evil to any of our brethren among ourselves. Now I do not know what will happen to me here.”

The Trinity monk Ambrose reproduced the icon of the Appearance of the Mother of God to St Sergius, carved in wood (mid-fourteenth century).

Tsar Ivan the Terrible took the icon of the Appearance of the Mother of God on his Kazan campaign (1552). The most famous icon, painted in the year 1588, was by the steward of the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra, Eustathius Golovkin on a board from the wooden reliquary of St Sergius, which was taken apart in the year 1585 when the relics of St Sergius were placed in a silver reliquary (August 14).

Through this icon, the Mother of God repeatedly protected the Russian army. Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich (1645-1676) took it on the Polish campaign in 1657. In the year 1703, the icon took part in all the military campaigns against the Swedish king Charles XII, and in 1812 Metropolitan Platon sent it to the Moscow military levy. The icon was carried in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, and during World War I it was at the quarters of the supreme commander-in-chief in 1914.

A church was built over the grave of St Micah and at its consecration on December 10, 1734 was named in honor of the Appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos and the holy Apostles to St Sergius of Radonezh.
On September 27, 1841 the church was restored and consecrated by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow , who said: “By the grace of the All-Holy and All-Sacred Spirit the restoration of this temple is now accomplished, fashioned before us in honor and memory of the Appearance of our Lady the Most Holy Theotokos to our holy God-bearing Father Sergius, to which St Micah was also an eyewitness.”

The commemoration of this grace-bearing event is rightly marked by the consecration of a church. However, this whole monastery is a memorial of that miraculous visit. Therefore, its purpose in the continuing centuries was the fulfillment of the promise of the heavenly Visitor: “This place shall endure.”

In memory of the visit of the Mother of God at the Trinity-Sergiev monastery, an Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos is sung on Fridays, and a special service in honor of the appearance of the Mother of God is celebrated at the monastery on August 24, on the second day of the leave-taking of the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.


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Monday, August 22, 2016

St Felix of Spain

The Martyr Eulalia lived in Spain, near the city of Barcionum (now Barcelona), and she was raised by her parents in piety and the Christian Faith. Already at fourteen years of age, the maiden spent a solitary life in her parental home with others of her own age, occupied in prayer, the reading of Holy Scripture, and handicrafts.

During a persecution against Christians under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (305-311), the governor Dacian arrived in the city of Barcionum to rid it of Christians. Hearing of this, the maiden secretly left her home at night, and by morning had made her way into the city. Pushing her way through the throng of people, the girl made a bold denunciation of the judge for forcing people to renounce the True God in order to offer sacrifice to devils instead.

Dacian gave orders to strip the girl and beat her with rods, but she steadfastly endured the torment and told the judge that the Lord would deliver her from the pain. They tied the martyr to a tree and tore her skin with iron claws, and they then burned her wounds with torches.

During her torment, Dacian asked the saint, “Where then is your God, Whom you have called upon?” She answered that the Lord was beside her, but that Dacian in his impurity could not see Him. During the saint’s prayer: “Behold, God helps me, and the Lord is the defender of my soul” (Ps. 53/54:4), the flames of the torches turned back upon the torturers, who fell to the ground.

The Martyr Eulalia began to pray that the Lord would take her to Heaven to Himself, and with this prayer she died. People saw a white dove come from her mouth and fly up to Heaven. Then a sudden snowstorm covered the martyr’s naked body like a white garment (the saint’s commemoration is sometimes given as December 10, which may be more correct, in view of the snow).

Three days later, the martyr’s parents came and wept before her hanging body, but they were also glad that their daughter would be numbered among the saints. When they took St Eulalia from the tree, one of the Christians, named Felix, said with tears of joy: “Lady Eulalia, you are the first of us to win the martyr’s crown!”

St Felix himself soon suffered death for Christ, and is also commemorated on this day.


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Thursday, August 18, 2016

St George the Patriarch of Constantinople


 Saint George I was Patriarch of Constantinople from 678-683. He lived during the reign of the emperor Constantine Pogonatos (668-685)


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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Martyr Paul and Martyr Juliana of Syria

The Holy Martyr Paul and his sister Juliana were executed under the emperor Aurelian (270-275) in the Phoenician city of Ptolemais. The emperor happened to visit Ptolemais, and among those who met him was Paul, who made the Sign of the Cross. They arrested him and threw him in prison.

On the following day, when they brought him to trial, he openly and boldly confessed his faith in Christ, for which he was subjected to fierce tortures. Juliana, seeing the suffering of her brother, began to denounce the emperor for his injustice and cruelty, for which she was also subjected to torture.

They beat the martyrs, tore their bodies with iron hooks, burned them over red-hot grates, but they were not able to break the wondrous endurance of the Lord’s confessors. Three soldiers torturing the saints were struck by the courageous spirit of the martyrs, and they in turn believed in Christ These newly chosen of God were named Quadratus, Acacius and Stratonicus, and they were immediately executed.

The tormentor tried to seduce St Juliana with a promise to marry her, if she were to renounce Christ, but the saint refused the offer and remained steadfast. By order of the emperor they sent her to a brothel to be defiled. The Lord also preserved her there, and anyone who tried to touch the saint lost his sight. Then the enraged emperor commanded that they again burn the bodies of the saints. Those who saw the suffering of the saints began to murmur loudly, and Aurelian gave orders to behead the martyrs. With gladdened face the brother and sister went to execution singing, “For Thou hast saved us from those who afflicted us and hast shamed those who hated us” (Ps. 43/44:7).


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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Venerable Gerasimus the New Ascetic of Cephalonia

Commemorated on August 16

Saint Gerasimus the New Ascetic of Cephalonia was born in the village of Trikkala in the Peloponessos. As a young adult, he became a monk on the island of Zakynthos. On the Holy Mountain he became a schemamonk and studied with the ascetics of Mt Athos. Receiving a blessing from the Elders, the monk went to Jerusalem to worship at the Life-bearing Tomb of the Savior. After visiting many holy places in Jerusalem, Mount Sinai, Antioch, Damascus, Alexandria and Egypt, he returned to Jerusalem where he became a lamp-lighter at the Sepulchre of the Lord.

The monk was ordained a deacon and then a priest by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Germanus (1534-1579). St Gerasimus maintained the discipline of an ascetic. For soltitude he withdrew to the Jordan, where he spent forty days without respite. Having received the Patriarch’s blessing for a life of silence, St Gerasimus withdrew to Zakynthos in solitude, eating only vegetation.

After five years he was inspired to go the the island of Cephalonia, where he lived in a cave. He restored a church at Omala, and he founded a women’s monastery where he lived in constant toil and vigil for thirty years. He prayed on bent knees stretched out on the ground. For his exalted life he was granted a miraculous gift: the ability to heal the sick and cast out unclean spirits.

At 71 years of age, the venerable Gerasimus knew that he would soon die. He gave his blessing to the nuns and peacefully fell asleep in the Lord on August 15, 1579. Two years later, his grave was opened and his holy relics were found fragrant and incorrupt with a healing power.

Since the Feast of the Dormition falls on August 15, St Gerasimus is commemorated on August 16th. Today’s Feast celebrates the uncovering of his holy relics in 1581.


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Monday, August 15, 2016

The Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary

August 15

Concerning the Dormition of the Theotokos, this is what the Church has received from ancient times from the tradition of the Fathers. When the time drew nigh that our Savior was well-pleased to take His Mother to Himself, He declared unto her through an Angel that three days hence, He would translate her from this temporal life to eternity and bliss. On hearing this, she went up with haste to the Mount of Olives, where she prayed continuously. Giving thanks to God, she returned to her house and prepared whatever was necessary for her burial. While these things were taking place, clouds caught up the Apostles from the ends of the earth, where each one happened to be preaching, and brought them at once to the house of the Mother of God, who informed them of the cause of their sudden gathering. As a mother, she consoled them in their affliction as was meet, and then raised her hands to Heaven and prayed for the peace of the world. She blessed the Apostles, and, reclining upon her bed with seemliness, gave up her all-holy spirit into the hands of her Son and God.

With reverence and many lights, and chanting burial hymns, the Apostles took up that God-receiving body and brought it to the sepulchre, while the Angels from Heaven chanted with them, and sent forth her who is higher than the Cherubim. But one Jew, moved by malice, audaciously stretched forth his hand upon the bed and immediately received from divine judgment the wages of his audacity. Those daring hands were severed by an invisible blow. But when he repented and asked forgiveness, his hands were restored. When they had reached the place called Gethsemane, they buried there with honor the all-immaculate body of the Theotokos, which was the source of Life. But on the third day after the burial, when they were eating together, and raised up the artos (bread) in Jesus' Name, as was their custom, the Theotokos appeared in the air, saying "Rejoice" to them. From this they learned concerning the bodily translation of the Theotokos into the Heavens.

These things has the Church received from the traditions of the Fathers, who have composed many hymns out of reverence, to the glory of the Mother of our God (see Oct. 3 and 4).

Apolytikion of Dormition of the Theotokos in the First Tone
In birth, you preserved your virginity; in death, you did not abandon the world, O Theotokos. As mother of life, you departed to the source of life, delivering our souls from death by your intercessions.

Kontakion of Dormition of the Theotokos in the Second Tone
Neither the grave nor death could contain the Theotokos, the unshakable hope, ever vigilant in intercession and protection. As Mother of life, He who dwelt in the ever-virginal womb transposed her to life.


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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Icon of the Mother of God of Constantinople

In the Constantinople Icon of the Mother of God, the child Christ is naked to the waist, and is carried in His Mother’s right hand. Her left hand rests on His knees.


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Sunday, August 07, 2016

Martyr Marinus the Soldier and Martyr Asterius the Senator at Caesarea in Palestine

Commemorated on August 7

The Holy Martyr Marinus (December 16) was a soldier during the reign of the pagan emperors Valerian (253-259) and his son Gallienus (260-268).

When he was about to be promoted to centurion, Marinus refused to swear the customary oath invoking the pagan gods, or to offer sacrifice to idols. St Marinus was beheaded in Caesarea Philippi after cruel tortures.

The Holy Martyr Asterius the Senator also lived during the reign of the pagan emperors Valerian. Although he was a Roman senator, Asterius nonetheless held firmly to the Christian Faith, in spite of the persecutions occurring during those times.

Once, while in Palestine, he came to the city of Caesarea Philippi, where by custom a pagan feast was made with the offering of sacrifice to an idol. The demon residing in the idol made the sacrifice disappear, and this was looked upon as a great wonder. St Asterius expelled the demon by prayer. The sacrifice ceased to be invisible, and the pagans ceased to celebrate this impious festival.

St Asterius also happened to be present at the sufferings of the Martyr Marinus. When the execution was over, he took off his senatorial garb, spread it upon the ground and wrapped the head and body of St Marinus in it. On his own shoulders he carried the martyr’s relics to the grave and reverently consigned them to earth. For doing this, he was himself sentenced to death and beheaded in the year 260.


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Saturday, August 06, 2016

Transfiguration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

August 6

Our Lord had spoken to His disciples many times not only concerning His Passion, Cross, and Death, but also concerning the coming persecutions and afflictions that they themselves would endure. Since all these evils were near at hand, but the enjoyment of good things which they hoped to receive in their stead was yet to come, our Savior desired to give them full assurance, evidently and openly, concerning that glory which is prepared for those who endure to the end. Therefore, fulfilling that which He had promised shortly before, that "there be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His Kingdom" (Matt. 16:28), He took His three foremost disciples and ascended Mount Tabor, where He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as the light. Suddenly, together with this dread and marvelous effulgence of light, there appeared those pinnacles of the Prophets, Moses and Elias, who spoke with the Lord Jesus concerning His saving Passion which was about to take place. Standing before Him as reverent servants, they showed that He is the Lord of both the living and the dead, for Moses came forth from Hades, having died many centuries before, and Elias, as it were from heaven, whither he had been taken up while yet alive. After a little while a radiant cloud overshadowed them and out of the cloud they heard that same voice which had been heard at the Jordan at the Baptism of Christ, testifying to the Divinity of Jesus and saying: "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased; hear ye Him" (Matt. 17: 5).

Such are the marvels, truly worthy of God, celebrated in this present feast, which is an image and prefiguring of the future state of the righteous, whose splendor the Lord spoke of, saying: "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun" (Matt. 13:43). It is because of this that the Kontakion of this Feast is said daily (when there is not a great feast) in the Service of the Typica in perpetual commemoration of the glory that will be the lot of the Saints. According to tradition, the Lord's Transfiguration came to pass forty days before His Crucifixion; this is why the Transfiguration is celebrated forty days before the Exaltation of the Cross.

Apolytikion of Holy Transfiguration in the Grave Tone
You were transfigured on the Mount, Christ God revealing Your glory to Your disciples, insofar as they could comprehend. Illuminate us sinners also with Your everlasting light, through the intercessions of the Theotokos. Giver of light, glory to You.

Kontakion of Holy Transfiguration in the Grave Tone
You were transfigured upon the mount, O Christ our God, and Your disciples, in so far as they could bear, beheld Your glory. Thus, when they see You crucified, they may understand Your voluntary passion, and proclaim to the world that You are truly the effulgence of the Father.


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Friday, August 05, 2016

St John Jacob the Chozebite

Commemorated on August 5

Saint John the Chozebite, the son of Maxim and Catherine Jacob, was born July 23, 1913 in the Horodistea district of Moldavia. He was named for the holy prophet Elias (July 20). In 1914, his father died in the war, and his mother succumbed to a disease, leaving Elias as an orphan. His grandmother Maria raised him until he was eleven. She was a nun, so she was able to educate him in spiritual matters. She died in 1924, so young Elias went to live with other relatives. He had a great love for Christ and His Church, and longed for the monastic life.

He entered Neamts Monastery on August 15, 1933 when he was twenty years old. Here his soul was nourished by the beauty of the services, the experienced spiritual instructors, and the silence of the mountains. The young monk loved prayer, vigils, spiritual reading, and solitude, and soon he surpassed many experienced monks in obedience, humility, and patience. Seeing his great love for spiritual books, the igumen made him the monastery’s librarian. Elias gave comfort to many of the brethren by recommending specific books for each one to read. Then he would advise them to read the book carefully, make their confession, and not miss the services if they wanted to find peace.

His spiritual efforts attracted the notice of Archimandrite Valerie Moglan, who recommended that Elias be permitted to receive monastic tonsure. He was tonsured on April 8, 1936 and received the name John. From that time, the young monk intensified his spiritual efforts, conquering the temptations of the demons, and progressing on the path of salvation.

St John made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with two other monks in 1936, and they decided to remain there. The monk Damascene fell ill, however, and had to be taken back to Romania by the monk Claudius after eight months.

At first, St John lived in Bethlehem near St Sava’s Monastery. Romanian monks had lived at St Sava’s since the sixteenth century, and John struggled there for almost ten years. He was made librarian of the monastery, and he fulfilled this obedience for about seven years.

In 1945 St John longed for the peace and solitude of the desert, and so he went to live as a hermit. He was ordained as a priest in 1947, and became igumen of the Romanian Skete of St John the Baptist by the Jordan. Pilgrims often came to him for Confession, Communion, and consolation. In his free time he composed religious poems and hymns.

After five years, he and his disciple went into the desert of Chozeba near Jehrico. Here they lived in asceticism for eight years in the cave where, according to Tradition, St Anna had prayed.

St John Jacob died on August 5, 1960 at the age of forty-seven and was buried in his cave. On August 8, 1980 his relics were found incorrupt and fragrant. They now rest in the St George the Chozebite Monastery.

In 1968 and 1970, St John’s book SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT was published in two volumes, with the blessing of Patriarch Benedict of Jerusalem.

St John Jacob was glorified by the Romanian Orthodox Church in 1992.


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Thursday, August 04, 2016

Martyr Eudokia of Persia

Commemorated on August 4

The Holy Martyr Eudokia was a native of Anatolia, living in the fourth century. The army of the Persian emperor Sapor took her into captivity with 9,000 Christians. Since she knew the Holy Scriptures well, she instructed the prisoners. The saint also preached to the Persian women and converted many of them to Christianity. For this she was subjected to lengthy and fierce tortures and then beheaded.


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Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Blessed Basil of Kubensk

The blessed Basil of Kamen lived during the fifteenth century and was a monk at the Savior-Kamen monastery, on an island of Lake Kuben (not far from Vologda). At the shrine of his relics, built afterwards in a church in honor of St Basil of Moscow, is a full-length icon of St Basil of Kamen, with heavy iron chains and a cap of iron strips.


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