Wednesday, November 30, 2016

St Vakhtang Gorgasali, King of Georgia

Commemorated on November 30

The holy and right-believing king Vakhtang I ascended the throne of Kartli at the age of fifteen. At that time Kartli was continually being invaded by the Persians from the south and by the Ossetians from the north. The situation was no better in western Georgia: the Byzantines had captured all the lands from Egrisi to Tsikhegoji.

After his coronation, the young King Vakhtang summoned his court and addressed his dedicated servants with great wisdom. He said that the sorrowful circumstances in which the nation had found itself were a manifestation of God’s anger at the sins of the king and the people. He called upon everyone to struggle in unity and selflessness on behalf of the Faith and motherland.

King Vakhtang led a victorious campaign against the Ossetians, freed the captive princess (his older sister), and signed several treaties with the Caucasian mountain tribes to secure their cooperation in the struggle against foreign conquerors. Then he carried out another campaign in western Georgia, freed that region from the Byzantines, reinforced the authority of King Gubaz, and returned in triumph to Kartli.

King Vakhtang was remarkable in faith, wisdom, grace, virtue, and appearance (he towered above all others at a stately seven feet ten inches). He spent many nights in prayer and distributed alms to the poor, in this way dedicating his life to God. King Vakhtang could fight tirelessly in battle. Vested in armor and fully armed, he could carry a war-horse on his shoulders and climb from Mtskheta to the Armazi Fortress in the mountains outside the city. On foot he could outrun a deer. The holy king was judicious in politics, displayed great composure, and preserved a sense of calm even when critical decisions needed to be made.

On the brow of Vakhtang’s military helmet was depicted a wolf, and on the back, a lion. Catching a glimpse of the helmet with the wolf and lion, the Persians would cry out to one another: “Dar’ az gurgsar!” (“Beware of the wolf ’s head!”) This was the source of King Vakhtang’s appellation “Gorgasali.”

During King Vakhtang’s reign the Georgian Church was first recognized as autocephalous. When the holy king banished the pagan fire-worshippers from Georgia, he also sent a certain Bishop Michael—who was inclined to the Monophysite heresy, which had been planted in Georgia by the Persians—to Constantinople to be tried by the patriarch. The bishop had disgracefully cursed the king and his army for rising up against the Monophysites. In fact, he was so infuriated that when King Vakhtang approached him to receive his blessing, he kicked him in the mouth and broke several of his teeth.

The patriarch of Constantinople subsequently defrocked Bishop Michael and sent him to a monastery to repent.

More importantly perhaps, the patriarch and the Byzantine emperor then sent to the patriarch of Antioch several clergymen whom King Vakhtang had chosen for consecration. In Antioch the patriarch consecrated twelve of these clergymen as bishops and enthroned a certain Petre as the first Catholicos of Georgia.

Vakhtang fulfilled the will of Holy King Mirian by founding the Georgian Holy Cross Monastery in Jerusalem. In addition, he replaced a wooden church that had been built in Mtskheta at the time of St. Nino with a church made of stone. During his reign several new dioceses were founded. King Vakhtang built a cathedral in Nikozi (Inner Kartli) and established a new diocese there, to which he translated the holy relics of the Protomartyr Razhden.

King Vakhtang built fortresses at Tukhari, Artanuji, and Akhiza; founded monasteries in Klarjeti at Artanuji, Mere, Shindobi, and Akhiza; and established many other strongholds, churches, and monasteries as well. He built a new royal residence in Ujarma and laid the foundations of the new Georgian capital, Tbilisi. His political creed consisted of three parts: an equal union of the Georgian Church with the Byzantine Church, national independence, and the unity of the Church and nation.

In the year 502 the sixty-year-old King Vakhtang was obliged to defend his country for the last time. In a battle with the Persians he was fatally wounded when a poisoned arrow pierced him under the arm. Before he died, King Vakhtang summoned the clergy, his family and his court and urged them to be strong in the Faith and to seek death for Christ’s sake in order to gain eternal glory.

All of Georgia mourned the passing of the king. His body was moved from the royal residence in Ujarma to Mtskheta, to Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, which he had himself built. There he was buried with great honor.
Some fifteen centuries later, with the blessing of Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II, an addition was built onto the Sioni Patriarchal Cathedral in Holy King Vakhtang Gorgasali’s name, and a cathedral in his honor was founded in the city of Rustavi.


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Monday, November 28, 2016

Irenarchos & his Companion Martyrs at Sebaste

November 28

Saint Irenarchos, who was from Sebastia, lived during the reign of Diocletian. In his youth he ministered to the holy Martyrs during the time of their punishment in prison. Once, on beholding seven women being tormented in behalf of Christ, and marvelling at their courage, and seeing how, although they were weak in body, they nonetheless became like men before the tyrant and put him to shame, the Saint was enlightened by divine grace and confessed Christ with boldness. Tried by fire and water, he was beheaded together with the holy women in the year 298.

Apolytikion of Martyr Irenarchos 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 of Martyr Irenarchos in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
As a triumphant man of war enlisted with the Prince of Peace, the prince of darkness didst thou destroy utterly in thy courageous martyrdom. And now, by thine entreaties, do thou ever preserve in peace and in godliness, O Martyr Irenarchos, all them that acclaim thy valiant deeds.



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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Dedication of the Church of the Greatmartyr George at Kiev

Beginning with the holy Prince Vladimir (July 15), it was the pious custom of Russian princes to build a church in honor of their patron saint. Thus, St Vladimir (in Baptism Basil) built at Kiev and Vyshgorod temples dedicated to St Basil the Great (January 1).

Prince Izyaslav I (1054-1068) (in Baptism Demetrius) built a church and monastery at Kiev in the name of the Holy Great Martyr Demetrius (October 26). Prince Yaroslav the Wise (in Baptism George) started to build a church and men’s monastery in honor of his patron saint, the Holy Great Martyr George (April 23). He also built a church named for his wife’s patron saint, the Holy Great Martyr Irene (May 5). The temple in honor of the Great Martyr George was consecrated by St Hilarion, Metropolitan of Kiev (October 21), and a yearly commemoration was established in honor of this event.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2015(with 2014's link here also and further:  2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008  and even 2007!):

Friday, November 25, 2016

Hieromartyr Clement the Pope of Rome

Commemorated on November 25

The Hieromartyr Clement, Pope of Rome, was born at Rome into a rich and illustrious family. Separated from his parents from childhood by force of circumstances, Clement was raised by strangers. Living in Rome, the youth received a fine education, he was surrounded by luxury, and had access to the imperial court. But these comforts brought him no joy, and pagan wisdom failed to attract him. He began to ponder the meaning of life.

When the news of Christ and His teaching began to reach the capital, St Clement left his home and estate and went to the lands where the Apostles were preaching. At Alexandria St Clement met the holy Apostle Barnabas, listening to his words with deep attention, and perceiving the power and truth of the Word of God. Arriving in Palestine, St Clement was baptized by the holy Apostle Peter and became his zealous disciple and constant companion, sharing his toil and sufferings with him. Shortly before his own sufferings and death, St Peter consecrated St Clement as Bishop of Rome. After the death of the Apostle Peter, St Linus (67-79) was the next Bishop of Rome, succeeded by St Anacletus (79-91), and then St Clement (92-101).

The virtuous life, charitable works and prayerful activity of St Clement converted many to Christ. He once baptized 424 people on the day of Pascha. Among the baptized were people of all social classes: slaves, officials, and even members of the imperial family.

The pagans, seeing the success of his apostolic preaching, denounced St Clement to the emperor Trajan (98-117), accusing the saint of insulting the pagan gods. The emperor banished St Clement from the capital, sending him to the Crimea, to work at a stone quarry near the city of Cherson. Many of the saint’s disciples followed after him voluntarily, preferring to go into exile rather than live without their spiritual Father.

When he arrived at the place of exile, St Clement found many Christian believers there, sentenced to labor under harsh conditions amidst a scarcity of water. He prayed together with the condemned, and the Lord appeared to him in the form of a lamb and revealed the location of a spring, from which gushed forth a veritable river of water. This miracle attracted a multitude of people to St Clement. Hearing the zealous preacher, hundreds of pagans were converted to Christ. Each day 500 or more men were baptized. And there in the stone quarry, a church was built, in which he served as priest.

The apostolic activity of the saint aroused the wrath of the emperor Trajan, and he ordered that St Clement be drowned. They threw the martyr into the sea with an anchor tied to his neck. This occurred in the year 101.

The saint’s faithful disciples Cornelius and Fibius asked the people to pray that the Lord would permit them to see the martyr’s body. The sea drew back a distance of three miles from the shore and the people walked out on the seabed until they found a marble cave shaped like a church. There they found the incorrupt body of their archpastor in this “Angelic Church” formed by God. After this, each year on the anniversary of St Clement’s martyric death the sea receded, and for seven days Christians were able to venerate his holy relics.

During the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus (802-811), by divine providence, the sea failed to withdraw, and the relics of St Clement became inaccessible for fifty years. In the time of the emperor Michael and his mother Theodora (855-867), Sts Cyril and Methodius visited Cherson. When they learned of the concealed relics of St Clement, they asked Bishop George of Cherson to pray that the Lord would show them the relics of the hieromartyr.

Sts Cyril and Methodius walked along the shore in procession with the clergy who came with them from Constantinople. Through the fervent prayers of everyone gathered there, the holy relics of St Clement miraculously appeared on the surface of the sea at midnight. They solemnly took them to the Church of the Holy Apostles at Constantinople. A portion of the relics were then brought to Rome by Sts Cyril and Methodius, but a large portion of the relics was later brought to Kiev by the holy Prince Vladimir (July 15) and placed in the Desyatin-Tithe church, together with the relics of St Fibius, where a chapel dedicated to St Clement had been built. The hieromartyr Clement is widely venerated in Russia. From ancient times, many churches have been dedicated to him.

St Clement, who belongs to the Apostolic Fathers, has left to us a spiritual legacy (two Epistles to the Corinthians) the first written examples of Christian teaching after the writings of the holy Apostles.


O God of our Fathers, / always act with kindness towards us; / take not Your mercy from us, / but guide our lives in peace / through the prayers of the hierarchs Clement and Peter.


 Podoben: “Today You have shown forth...” / Unshakeable and godlike towers of the Church, / truly inspired and mighty pillars of the Faith, / all-praised Clement and Peter, protect us all by your prayers.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2015(with 2014's link here also and further:  2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008  and even 2007!):

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple

November 21

According to the tradition of the Church, the Theotokos was brought to the Temple at three years of age, where she was consecrated to God and spent her days until she was fourteen or fifteen years old; and then, as a mature maiden, by the common counsel of the priests (since her parents had reposed some three years before), she was betrothed to Joseph.

Apolytikion of Entry of the Theotokos in the Fourth Tone
Today is the prelude of God's pleasure and the proclamation of man's salvation. The Virgin is clearly made manifest in the temple of God and foretells Christ to all. Let us also cry out to her with mighty voice, "Hail, fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation."

Kontakion of Entry of the Theotokos in the Fourth Tone
Today, the most pure temple of the Savior, the precious bridal chamber and Virgin, the sacred treasure of God, enters the house of the Lord, bringing the grace of the Divine Spirit. The Angels of God praise her. She is the heavenly tabernacle.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2015(with 2014's link here also and further:  2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008  and even 2007!):

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Gregory the Righteous of Decapolis

November 20

Saint Gregory who was from Irenopolis of the Decapolis of Asia Minor, was the son of Sergius and Mary. He became a monk as a young man, and after struggling for many years in virtue and prayer under obedience to a wise spiritual father, he was informed by revelation that it was the will of God for him to live, like the Patriarch Abraham, with no certain dwelling, moving from place to place. His journeyings took him to Ephesus, Constantinople, Corinth, Rome, Sicily, Thessalonica, and again to Constantinople, where, after many labours in defence of Orthodoxy against Iconoclasm, he reposed in peace in the first half of the ninth century. He had two disciples, one of whom was Saint Joseph the Hymnographer (see Apr. 3), who wrote the Menaion service for Saint Gregory, his father in Christ.

Kontakion of Gregory Decapolite in the Third Tone
The Church knoweth thee to be a shining sun that enlight'neth all men with the rays of cures and with the beauty of virtue. Hence, O truly blessed Father, Christ's faithful servant, we all celebrate thy venerable memorial, O wise Gregory most righteous; and we now honour thy valiant struggles for Christ.



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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

St Hypatius of Gangra

Commemorated on November 16

Hieromartyr Hypatius, Bishop of Gangra, was bishop of the city of Gangra in Paphlagonia (Asia Minor). In the year 325 he participated in the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea, at which the heresy of Arius was anathematized.

When St Hypatius was returning in 326 from Constantinople to Gangra, followers of the schismatics Novatus and Felicissimus fell upon him in a desolate place. The heretics ran him through with swords and spears, and threw him into a swamp. Like the Protomartyr Stephen, St Hypatius prayed for his murderers.

An Arian woman struck the saint on the head with a stone, killing him. The murderers hid his body in a cave, where a Christian who kept straw there found his body. Recognizing the bishop’s body, he hastened to the city to report this, and the inhabitants of Gangra piously buried their beloved archpastor.

After his death, the relics of St Hypatius were famous for numerous miracles, particularly for casting out demons and for healing the sick.

From of old the hieromartyr Hypatius was particularly venerated in the Russian land. Thus in the year 1330 the Ipatiev monastery was built at Kostroma, on the place where the Mother of God appeared with the Pre-eternal Christ Child, the Apostle Philip, and the hieromartyr Hypatius, Bishop of Gangra. This monastery later occupied a significant place in the spiritual and social life of the nation, particularly during the Time of Troubles.

The ancient copies of the Life of the hieromartyr Hypatius were widely distributed in Russian literature, and one of these was incorporated into THE READING MENAION of Metropolitan Macarius (1542-1564). In this Life there is an account of the appearance of the Savior to St Hypatius on the eve of the martyr’s death.

The entry for the saint’s Feast consists of his Life, some prayers, and words of praise and instruction. The pious veneration of St Hypatius was also expressed in Russian liturgical compositions. During the nineteenth century a new service was written for the hieromartyr Hypatius, distinct from the services written by St Joseph the Studite, contained in the March MENAION.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2015(with 2014's link here also and further:  2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008  and even 2007!):

Monday, November 14, 2016

St Theodora the Empress

Commemorated on November 14

Saint Theodora was the wife of St Justinian the emperor, and lived during the sixth century.

The Empress Theodora was at first a notorious harlot and actress, and an adherent of the Monophysite heresy, but then she repented. After becoming empress, she led a virtuous life, maintaining purity of both soul and body. She provided wise counsel for her husband during his reign, and she also saved his throne during the Nika riots of 532 through her political intelligence and expertise.

St Theodora died in 548.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2015(with 2014's link here also and further:  2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008  and even 2007!):

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Martin, Bishop of Tours

November 12

Saint Martin, the great luminary of Gaul, was the son of pagan parents. When he was still quite young he became a catechumen; at the age of twenty-two he received Holy Baptism. Then he undertook the labours of a monk, and was afterwards consecrated Bishop of Tours, renowned as an ascetic and wonderworker, a faithful shepherd of Christ's flock. He converted many both from paganism and heresy, cast out demons and raised the dead, and while undertaking all the apostolic burdens of a bishop, he never ceased to be a simple monk and man of prayer. His monastery became a center of monasticism not only for Gaul, but for all of Western Europe. A widely celebrated incident of his life took place when he was still a catechumen, fulfilling his military service. Seeing an ill-clad beggar asking alms at the gate of the city of Amiens and being overlooked by passersby, Saint Martin, having nothing else to give, rent his military cloak in two with his sword and gave half to the beggar, so that he might cover himself in the cold. That night, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him, clothed with the half of the cloak he had given to the beggar. Saint Martin's cloak - capella in Latin - was kept in a sanctuary which came to be called capella, from which the word "chapel" is derived; and they under whose care it was kept were called cappellani, from which "chaplain" is derived. Saint Martin reposed in peace in the year 397.

Apolytikion of Martin, Bis. of Tours in the Fourth Tone
In signs and in miracles thou wast renowned throughout Gaul; by grace and adoption now thou art a light for the world, O Martin, most blest of God. Almsdeeds and compassion filled thy life with their splendour; teaching and wise counsel were thy riches and treasures, which thou dost dispense freely unto all them that honour thee.

Kontakion of Martin, Bis. of Tours in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
As a devoted man of God, thou didst proclaim His mysteries. And as a seer of the Trinity, thou didst shed thy blessings on the Occident. By thy prayers and entreaties, O adornment of Tours and glory of all the Church, preserve us, O Saint Martin, and save all who praise thy memory.


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Friday, November 11, 2016

Martyr Stephanida of Spain

Saint Stephanida witnessed the martyrdom of the Holy Martyr Victor at Damascus, a soldier during the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius the Philosopher (161-180). He was tortured, but he came through all the torments unharmed. By the power of prayer he was victorious over a sorcerer, who from that point gave up give sorcery and became a Christian.

Through St Victor’s prayers, blind soldiers suddenly received their sight. Witnessing the miracle worked by the Lord through St Victor, Stephanida, the young Christian wife of one of the torturers, openly glorified Christ, for which she was condemned to a cruel death. She was tied to two palm trees bent to the ground, which when released, sprung back and tore her apart. She was fifteen years old.

The martyrs suffered in the second century at Damascus, where their venerable relics were buried.


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Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Martyr Hermeningilda the Goth of Spain

The Holy Martyr Hermeningilda, Prince of the Goths in Spain (+ 586), abandoned the Arian heresy and was converted to Orthodoxy. His father, Leovigild, was King of the Goths, and an Arian. Neither by flattery nor by threats was he able to sway his son to return to his former faith. Therefore, Leovigild gave orders to throw him into prison.

On Pascha, as Hermeningilda lay there in his fetters, Leovigild sent an Arian bishop to the prison so that his son might receive the vile communion of the heretics. The king offered to free Hermeningilda and restore him to his former position if he would partake of that communion. The saint, however, drove the Arian bishop away, upbraiding him for his heresy. An Orthodox priest came to the prison secretly and imparted the Life-Giving Mysteries of Christ to St Hermeningilda.

When the Arian bishop reported St Hermeningilda’s words to the king, he ordered him to be executed. After he was beheaded, angels were heard singing over his holy relics. The faithful glorified God when they heard of this, and the martyr’s father repented of his evil deed.

Although he did not accept Orthodoxy himself, he nonetheless permitted the holy Bishop Leander to convert his successor Rekhardt to the true Faith. After he became king, Rekhardt affirmed Orthodoxy in his domain.
The full account of St Hermeningilda may be found in St Gregory the Great’s Dialogues (Book I, Ch. 31).


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2015(with 2014's link here also and further:  2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008  and even 2007!):