Thursday, March 31, 2016

Venerable Apollonius, Ascetic, of Egypt

Saint Apollonius, when he was a fifteen-year-old youth, withdrew into the inner Thebaid desert (Lower Egypt), where he spent forty years in monastic struggles. Directed by God, he founded a monastery near Hermopolis, where eventually about five hundred monks gathered. St Apollonius was strict in fasting, only on Sundays did he eat cooked food, and on other days he ate wild plants.

All the monks followed the example of St Apollonius, engaging in spiritual struggles at the monastery. The holy ascetic died in the fourth century.


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

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Prophet Joad

Holy Prophet Joad came from Samaria and prophesied during the tenth century before Christ (See 1/3 Kings 13). The prophet was sent by the Lord from Judea to Bethel to denounce the Israelite king Jereboam for polluting his nation with idol worship.

The Lord commanded the prophet, “Eat no bread, and drink no water, and do not return by the way you came” (1/3 Kings 13:9). The prophet Joad appeared to King Jereboam and prophesied to him concerning the wrath of the Lord. When the king tried to gesture with his hand to seize the prophet, his hand suddenly withered. The king entreated the prophet to pray to the Lord that his hand would be healed. By Joad’s prayer he received healing.

Deceived by the false prophet Emba of Bethel, Joad disobeyed the command given him by the Lord. The older man lied and told Joad that an angel had commanded him to bring him to his home and feed him. Because of his disobedience, the prophet Joad was killed by a lion. His body did not rest with his fathers, but was buried near the abode of the false prophet who led him astray.


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

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Holy Martyrs Jonas and Barachesius

March 29

As for the holy Martyrs Jonas and Barachesius, they were monks from Persia who lived in the reign of Sapor II, King of Persia from 325 to 379. These Saints found nine Christians in prison suffering for their faith, and comforted them, encouraging them to stand fast till the end, which they did, and received the crown of martyrdom. Because of this, Saints Jonas and Barachesius also were seized, and commanded to worship the fire, the sun, and the water. When they refused, Jonas, among other tortures, had his hands and feet cut off, was crushed in a device that broke his bones, and was sawn asunder. Barachesius was dragged naked over thorns, his whole body was pierced with sharp reeds and then broken in the same device employed upon Jonas, and when boiling pitch was poured down his throat, he gave up his soul into the hands of God.

Apolytikion of Martyrs Jonas and Barachesius in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Since they had slain through their abstinence and struggles the fiery ragings and fierce motions of the passions, the staunch Martyrs of Christ God laid hold on the graces to drive off the pains and illnesses of the sick and work wonders both while living and after death. Strange indeed is the miracle! That these bare bones should pour forth such overflowing streams of cures. Glory be to our only God.


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

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Venerable Basil the New, Anchorite, Near Constantinople

Saint Basil the New left the world in his youth, and struggled in a desolate place. Once, courtiers of the Byzantine Emperor were passing by and saw him dressed in rags, and were alarmed by his strange appearance. Suspicious of the holy ascetic, they captured him and brought him to the city, where the patrician Samon questioned him. When asked who he was, the saint merely said that he was a stranger in the land.

They subjected the monk to terrible tortures, but he endured it in silence, not wishing to reveal the details of his ascetic life to them. Samon lost his patience and asked St Basil, “Impious one, how long will you hide, who are you, and from where do you come?”

The saint replied, “It is more appropriate to call impious those who, like yourself, lead a life of impurity.” After his public humiliation, Samon ordered his men to hang the saint upside down with his hands and feet tied. These torments were so cruel that those witnessing them murmured against Samon.

When they released the holy ascetic after three days of torture, they found him alive and unharmed. Samon attributed this miracle to sorcery and had St Basil thrown to a lion. However, the lion did not touch the saint, and lay peacefully at his feet. Samon ordered St Basil to be drowned in the sea, but two dolphins brought him to shore.

The saint went into the city, where he met a sick man named John, who was suffering from fever. St Basil healed the sick man in the name of the Savior, and accepted John’s invitation to stay in his home.

Numerous believers came to the saint for advice and guidance, and also to receive healing from sickness through his prayers. St Basil, endowed with the gift of discernment, guided sinners on the path of repentance, and he could predict future events.

Among those who visited St Basil was a certain Gregory, who became his disciple and later wrote a detailed Life of his teacher. Gregory once found an expensive sash at an inn, which had been dropped by the inn-keeper’s daughter. He hid it on his person, intending to sell it and give the money to the poor. On the way home, he lost the sash and some other things.

St Basil admonished him in a dream, showed him a broken pot and said, “If anyone steals such a worthless thing, they will be chastized four times over. You hid a valuable sash, and you will be condemned as a thief. You should return what you found.”

After the death of St Theodora, who had attended St Basil, Gregory very much wanted to learn about her life beyond the grave, and he often asked the holy ascetic to reveal this to him. Through the saint’s prayers, Gregory saw St Theodora in a dream. She told him how her soul underwent tribulations after death, and how the power of the prayers of St Basil had helped her (The Feast Day of St Theodora of Constantinople is December 30).

St Basil died in about the year 944 at the age of 110.

The Church calls him Basil the New to distinguish him from other ascetics of the same name.


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

Friday, March 25, 2016

Annunciation of the Theotokos

March 25

Six months after John the Forerunner's conception, the Archangel Gabriel was sent by God to Nazareth, a town of Galilee, unto Mary the Virgin, who had come forth from the Temple a mature maiden (see Nov. 21). According to the tradition handed down by the Fathers, she had been betrothed to Joseph four months. On coming to Joseph's house, the Archangel declared: "Rejoice, thou Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." After some consideration, and turmoil of soul, and fear because of this greeting, the Virgin, when she had finally obtained full assurance concerning God's unsearchable condescension and the ineffable dispensation that was to take place through her, and believing that all things are possible to the Most High, answered in humility: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." And at this, the Holy Spirit came upon her, and the power of the Most High overshadowed her all-blameless womb, and the Son and Word of God, Who existed before the ages, was conceived past speech and understanding, and became flesh in her immaculate body (Luke 1:26-38).

Bearing in her womb the Uncontainable One, the blessed Virgin went with haste from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea, where Zacharias had his dwelling; for she desired to find Elizabeth her kinswoman and rejoice together with her, because, as she had learned from the Archangel, Elizabeth had conceived in her old age. Furthermore, she wished to tell her of the great things that the Mighty One had been well-pleased to bring to pass in her, and she greeted Elizabeth and drew nigh to her. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, she felt her six-month-old babe, Saint John the Baptist, prophesied of the dawning of the spiritual Sun. Immediately, the aged Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and recognized her as the Mother of her Lord, and with a great voice blessed her and the Fruit that she held within herself. The Virgin also, moved by a supernatural rejoicing in the spirit, glorified her God and Savior, saying: "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour," and the rest, as the divine Luke hath recorded (1:39-55).

Apolytikion of Annunciation of the Theotokos in the Fourth Tone
Today marks the crowning of our salvation and the revelation of the mystery before all ages. For the Son of God becomes the son of the Virgin, and Gabriel proclaims the grace. Wherefore, we also cry out with him, "Hail, O full of grace, the Lord is with you."

Kontakion of Annunciation of the Theotokos in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
To you, Theotokos, invincible Defender, having been delivered from peril, I, your city, dedicate the victory festival as a thank offering. In your irresistible might, keep me safe from all trials, that I may call out to you: "Hail, unwedded bride!"


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

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Martyr Peter of Kazan

The Holy Martyr Peter of Kazan was a newly-baptized Tatar who suffered because he converted to Christianity from Islam.

After the Russian army left Kazan, the inhabitants dragged Peter from his home by force, and addressed him by his former Moslem name, hoping that he would deny Christ. But to all flattery and persuasion St Peter answered, “My father and mother is God Who is glorified in Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If you believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, then you are my family. I was named Peter in holy Baptism, and I will not answer to the name by which you address me.”

Seeing that he would remain steadfast in the Faith, his family had him tortured. He endured fierce torments, but he did not cease to confess the Name of Christ, saying, “I am a Christian.” The holy martyr was buried in Kazan on the site where the church of the Resurrection of Christ later stood, at the Zhitny-Grain marketplace.

For the Lives of the holy martyrs Stephen and Peter of Kazan see: “Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate,” 1977, No. 9, p. 79-80.


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

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Basil the Holy Martyr of Ancyra

March 22

Saint Basil strove in martyrdom during the short reign of Julian the Apostate, from 361-363. The Saint was denounced as a Christian to Saturninus, Governor of Ancyra, who, when Basil would not deny Christ, had him hanged from a post and scraped on his sides, then beaten, and cast into prison. A few days later, when Julian himself came through Ancyra, the Saint was brought before him and was asked to deny Christ, Whom he rather confessed the more. Julian then had strips cut in his flesh, so that they were left hanging from his body in front and in back. The valiant Martyr tore one of these strips off of his body and cast it into Julian's face. At this Julian commanded that iron spits be heated fiery hot; Saint Basil's belly, his back, and all his joints were pierced with them, and he received the crown of martyrdom.

Apolytikion of Hieromartyr Basil of Ancyra in the Fourth Tone
As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God, thou foundest discipline to be a means of ascent to divine vision. Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, thou didst also contest for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr Basil. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.


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

Monday, March 21, 2016

Venerable Seraphim of Vyritsa

Commemorated on March 21

Basil Muraviev (the future St Seraphim) was born in 1865 in the town of Cheremovsky in the Yaroslavl province. His parents, Nicholas and Chione, were peasants. When Basil was ten years old, his father died, and he was left to care for his ailing mother and his sister Olga.

A kind neighbor took Basil with him to St Petersburg, and found him a job as a store clerk. The boy had a secret desire to become a monk, so one day he went to the St Alexander Nevsky Lavra to speak to one of the Elders about this. The Elder advised him to remain in the world and raise a family, then after their children had grown, he and his wife were to serve God in the monastic life.

Basil accepted these words as the will of God, and so he lived his life as the Elder had directed. Returning to the store, Basil continued to work and send money home to his family. When he was twenty-four years old, Basil married his wife Olga.

He started his own business as a furrier, and became very wealthy. He had a son, Nicholas and a daughter, Olga. After their daughter's death, Basil and his wife agreed to live together as brother and sister from that time forward.

When he was around thirty, Basil gave away most of his wealth, donating money to various monasteries. When Nicholas was grown, Basil and Olga went to monasteries to serve God. Olga was tonsured in 1919 with the name Christina, and lived in the Resurrection-New Divyevo Monastery in St Petersburg. Later, she was tonsured into the schema and was given the name Seraphima. She died in 1945.

We do not know where Basil received monastic tonsure (some say it was on Mt Athos), nor the new name he was given at that time.

In 1927, he arrived at the St Alexander Nevsky Lavra, where he became Father Confessor to the monks. There he was tonsured into the schema with the name Seraphim. Soon it became apparent that St Seraphim had received from God the gifts of clairvoyance and healing, and many people came to him seeking his help and advice.

Bishop Alexei (Shimansky) of Novgorod came to the Elder in 1927 to ask if he should leave Russia, since many bishops and priests were facing arrest and execution under the Communist yoke. Before the bishop could utter a word, St Seraphim said, "Many now wish to leave Russia, but there is nothing to fear. You are needed here. You will become Patriarch and will rule for twenty-five years."

A time of trial came for the Lavra. Monks were arrested, exiled, and sent to labor camps. Many of them were executed. Beginning in 1929, the Elder was arrested fourteen times. He continued his priestly ministry in the prison camps, where he strengthened and encouraged his fellow-prisoners.

In 1933, the Elder returned from the camps and settled in Vyritsa. This was a very beautiful place with forests and a river, and it was known for its healthy climate. St Seraphim's health had deteriorated in the prison camps, and he had been beaten many times.

A wooden church in honor of the Kazan Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos had been built in Vyritsa in 1913 to commemorate the three hundredth anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. The upper church has two altars: one dedicated to the Kazan Icon, the other to St Nicholas. The lower church was dedicated to St Seraphim of Sarov.

After he had recovered somewhat, Fr Seraphim began to receive visitors who came seeking advice and comfort from him. Many of those afflicted with illness received healing by his prayers. The authorities soon noticed the great numbers of people who came to him. His cell was searched many times, usually at night. Once, the police came to arrest the Elder, but a doctor told them that Fr Seraphim would not survive the trip because of his many infirmities. They decided to leave him alone, and so the Lord preserved the life of His servant.

The Germans entered Vyritsa in September of 1941, but no one was harmed, and there was no looting. During the War, Fr Seraphim became weak and now served only rarely in the chapel of St Seraphim. Starting in 1945, Fr Alexei Kibardin began serving in the Kazan church.

By the spring of 1949, St Seraphim was very weak and had to remain in bed. Still, he permitted visitors to come to him as before.

Shortly before his death, the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to St Seraphim and told him to receive Holy Communion every day. Fr Alexei Kibardin would bring him Communion at 2 AM, but once he overslept and did not come until 4 AM. He apologized to the Elder for his tardiness, and noticed that there was a certain radiance around the saint. The Elder said, "Father, do not worry. The holy angels have already brought me Communion." Seeing his face, Fr Alexei knew that this was absolutely true!

The Elder told Fr Alexei to go to Moscow and inform Patriarch Alexei I that he would depart to the Lord in two weeks. When Fr Alexei relayed the message, the Patriarch turned to the holy icons and crossed himself. When he turned around again, tears were streaming down his cheeks. "I have been Patriarch for four years," he said. "Twenty-one years remain to me. This is what the holy Elder told me." Patriarch Alexei died in 1970, just as St Seraphim foretold.

St Seraphim departed to the Lord on March 21, 1949 (April 3 N.S.). In the hours before his death, he asked that the Akathists to the Most Holy Theotokos, to St Seraphim of Sarov, and to St Nicholas be read. For a week after his blessed repose, a sweet fragrance permeated Vyritsa.

St Seraphim was buried in the cemetery next to the church of the Kazan Icon in Vyritsa. Great throngs of people came for the funeral, and Vyritsa became a place of pilgrimage.

The schemamonk St Seraphim was glorified by the Church of Russia in August of 2000.


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

Sunday, March 20, 2016

St Nicetas the Confessor the Archbishop of Apollonias in Bithynia

Saint Nicetas the Confessor, Archbishop of Apollonias in Bithynia, was noted for his profound knowledge of Holy Scripture, and was a pious and kindly man. During the reign of the Iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820), the saint championed the veneration of holy icons, and so was exiled and died in prison.


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Friday, March 18, 2016

Holy Martyrs Trophimus and Eucarpion of Nicomedia

Martyr Eucarpion

Commemorated on March 18

The Holy Martyrs Trophimus and Eucarpion were soldiers at Nicomedia during the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They distinguished themselves by their great ferocity in carrying out all of the emperor’s decrees.

Once, when these soldiers had caught up with some Christians, they suddenly saw a large fiery cloud which had come down from the sky, thickening in form as it drew close to them. From out of the cloud came forth a Voice: “Why are you so zealous in threatening My servants? Don’t be deluded! No one can suppress those believing in Me through their own strength. It is better to join them and discover the Heavenly Kingdom yourselves.”

The soldiers fell to the ground in fright, not daring to lift up their eyes, and only said to one another, “Truly this is the great God, Who has manifested Himself to us. We would do well to become His servants.” The Lord then spoke saying, “Rise up, repent, for your sins are forgiven.” As they got up, they beheld within the cloud the image of a Radiant Man and a great multitude standing about Him.

The astonished soldiers cried out with one voice, “Receive us, for our sins are inexpressibly wicked. There is no other God but You, the Creator and true God, and we are not yet numbered among Your servants.” But just as they spoke this, the cloud receded and rose up into the sky.

Spiritually reborn after this miracle, the soldiers released all the jailed Christians from the prisons. For this Sts Trophimus and Eucarpion were handed over to terrible torments: they suspended the saints and tore their bodies with iron hooks. They gave thanks unto God, certain that the Lord would forgive them their former sins. When a fire had been lit, the holy martyrs went willingly into the fire and there gave up their souls to God.


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

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

St Pimen of Salosi the Enlightener of Dagestan and the North Caucasus People and St Anthony (Meskhi), the Censurer of Kings

Commemorated on March 16

Saint Pimen the Fool-for-Christ and Anton Meskhi (of Meskheti, in southern Georgia) lived in the 13th century, when the Mongols were regularly invading Georgia. The entire country, and the Church in particular, languished under the yoke of Mongol oppression. The Georgian people were once again faced with a terrible choice: to preserve their temporal flesh or attain spiritual salvation. Most would not yield to the temptation of the enemy and chose instead to die as martyrs for Christ.

At that time a monk named Pimen, a fool-for-Christ, labored in the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. His ancestral roots were in the Kakheti region of eastern Georgia. Pimen rebuked kings and condemned the unjust and immoral acts of the nobility. The pious monk Anton Meskhi labored with him.

Enlightened by divine grace, the fathers recognized that the Georgian people were following their king’s poor example. Thus, the monks began a struggle for the spiritual salvation of the nation’s people that demanded the censure of the king. In addition to their labors of foolishness and censuring of kings, the saints preached Christianity among the Dagestani. (located to the northeast of Georgia and borders the Caspian Sea.)

For their great spiritual achievements and struggles on behalf of godly purity, the Christian Faith, and the spread of the Gospel among the Dagestanis, the Georgian Church has counted Pimen the Fool-for-Christ and Anton Meskhi worthy to be numbered among the saints.


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

Monday, March 14, 2016

Beginning of Great Lent

Commemorated on March 14

In the Orthodox Church, the last Sunday before Great Lent—the day on which, at Vespers, Lent is liturgically announced and inaugurated—is called Forgiveness Sunday. On the morning of that Sunday, at the Divine Liturgy, we hear the words of Christ:

“If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses...” (Mark 6:14-15).

Then after Vespers—after hearing the announcement of Lent in the Great Prokeimenon: “Turn not away Thy face from Thy child, for I am afflicted! Hear me speedily! Draw near unto my soul and deliver it!”, after making our entrance into Lenten worship, with its special melodies, with the prayer of St Ephraim the Syrian, with its prostrations—we ask forgiveness from each other, we perform the rite of forgiveness and reconciliation. And as we approach each other with words of reconciliation, the choir intones the Paschal hymns, filling the church with the anticipation of Paschal joy.

What is the meaning of this rite? Why is it that the Church wants us to begin the Lenten season with forgiveness and reconciliation? These questions are in order because for too many people Lent means primarily, and almost exclusively, a change of diet, the compliance with ecclesiastical regulations concerning fasting. They understand fasting as an end in itself, as a “good deed” required by God and carrying in itself its merit and its reward. But the Church spares no effort in revealing to us that fasting is but a means, one among many, towards a higher goal: the spiritual renewal of man, his return to God, true repentance and, therefore, true reconciliation. The Church spares no effort in warning us against a hypocritical and pharisaic fasting, against the reduction of religion to mere external obligations. As a Lenten hymn says:

“In vain do you rejoice in not eating, O soul!
For you abstain from food,
But from passions you are not purified.
If you persevere in sin, you will perform a useless fast!”

Now, forgiveness stands at the very center of Christian faith and of Christian life because Christianity itself is, above all, the religion of forgiveness. God forgives us, and His forgiveness is in Christ, His Son, whom He sends to us so that by sharing in His humanity we may share in His love and be truly reconciled with God. Indeed, Christianity has no other content but love. And it is primarily the renewal of that love, a growth in it, that we seek in Great Lent, in fasting and prayer, in the entire spirit and the entire effort of that season. Thus, truly forgiveness is both the beginning of, and the proper condition for, the Lenten season.

One may ask, however: Why should I perform this rite when I have no “enemies?” Why should I ask forgiveness from people who have done nothing to me, and whom I hardly know? To ask these questions is to misunderstand the Orthodox teaching concerning forgiveness. It is true that open enmity, personal hatred, real animosity may be absent from our life, though if we experience them, it may be easier for us to repent, for these feelings openly contradict Divine commandments. But the Church reveals to us that there are much subtler ways of offending Divine Love. These are indifference, selfishness, lack of interest in other people, of any real concern for them—in short, that wall which we usually erect around ourselves, thinking that by being “polite” and “friendly” we fulfill God’s commandments. The rite of forgiveness is so important precisely because it makes us realize—be it only for one minute—that our entire relationship to other men is wrong, makes us experience that encounter of one child of God with another, of one person created by God with another, makes us feel that mutual “recognition” which is so terribly lacking in our cold and dehumanized world.

On that unique evening, listening to the joyful Paschal hymns we are called to make a spiritual discovery: to taste of another mode of life and relationship with people, of life whose essence is love. We can discover that always and everywhere Christ, the Divine Love Himself, stands in the midst of us, transforming our mutual alienation into brotherhood. As I advance towards the other, as the other comes to me—we begin to realize that it is Christ who brings us together by His love for both of us.

And because we make this discovery—and because this discovery is that of the Kingdom of God itself: the Kingdom of Peace and Love, of reconciliation with God and, in Him, with all that exists—we hear the hymns of that Feast, which once a year “opens to us the doors of Paradise.” We know why we shall fast and pray, what we shall seek during the long Lenten pilgrimage.

Forgiveness Sunday: the day on which we acquire the power to make our fasting—true fasting; our effort—true effort; our reconciliation with God—true reconciliation.

—Father Alexander Schmemann


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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Removal of the relics of Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople

March 13

The main feast day of this Saint is June 2. The translation of his holy relics took place in 846, when Saint Methodius (see June 14) was Ecumenical Patriarch.

Apolytikion of Nicephorus, 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. Nicephoros, our father and priest of priests, intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.



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

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Righteous Phineas the grandson of Aaron

The Righteous Phineas, grandson of the High Priest Aaron (also commemorated today) and son of the High Priest Eleazar, was also a priest and zealous in his service.

When the Israelites, after the holy Prophet Moses (September 4) led them out of Egypt, were already near the Promised Land, their neighbors the Moabites and Midianites were overcome by fear and envy. Not trusting in their own strength, they summoned the magician Balaam to put a curse on the Israelites. The Lord revealed His will to Balaam, and Balaam refused to curse the People of God, seeing that God was pleased to bless them (Num. 24:1).

Then the Moabites drew the Israelites into the worship of Baal-Peor. God punished the Jews for their apostasy, and they died by the thousands from a plague. Many, beholding the wrath of God, came to their senses and repented.

At this time a certain man named Zimri, of the tribe of the Simeon, “brought his brother a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, and they wept at the door of the tabernacle of witness” (Num. 25:6). Phineas, filled with wrath, went into Zimri’s tent and killed both him and the Midianite woman with a spear.

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Phineas... has caused My wrath against the children of Israel to cease, when I was exceedingly jealous among them.... Behold, I give him a covenant of peace, and he and his descendants shall have a perpetual covenant of priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel’” (Num. 25:10-13).

After this, at the command of God, Phineas went at the head of the Israelite army against the Moabites and brought chastisement upon them for their impiety and treachery. After the death of the High Priest Eleazar, St Phineas was unanimously chosen as High Priest. The high priesthood, in accord with God’s promise, continued also with his posterity. St Phineas died at an advanced age around 1500 B.C.


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

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Martyr Domnus of the Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Commemorated on March 9

Saint Domnus was one of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and suffered for Christ around 320. Licinius, the co-ruler of St Constantine the Great, was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight against Constantine, he feared mutiny and so he decided to remove all Christians from his army.

A company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles, was stationed in the Armenian city of Sebaste under the command of the pagan Agricola. When these soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison.

It was winter, and there was a severe frost. The holy soldiers were lined up and thrown into a lake near the city, and a guard was stationed on the shore to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath house was set up on the shore. One of the soldiers came out of the water to offer sacrifice, and the guard Aglaius took his place.

In the morning, the torturers were surprised to see that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aglaius was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death.

They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor.

There is a pious custom of baking “skylarks” (pastries shaped like skylarks) on this day, because people believed that birds sing at this time to announce the arrival of spring. Forty “skylarks” are prepared in honor of the Forty Martyrs.


Together let us honor the holy company united by faith, / Those noble warriors of the Master of all. / They were divinely enlisted for Christ, / And passed through fire and water. / Then they entered into refreshment praying for those who cry: / Glory to him who has strengthened you! / Glory to him who has crowned you! / Glory to him who has made you wonderful, O holy Forty Martyrs!


You abandoned all earthly armies, / cleaving to the heavenly Master, O Forty Martyrs of the Lord. / Having passed through fire and water, O Blessed Ones, / you have fittingly received heavenly glory and many crowns.


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

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Venerable Athanasius of Murom

Saint Athanasius was igumen at the monastery of St Lazarus during the mid-fifteenth century. After his death, the ascetic’s body was buried in a separate chapel, where the chains of the saint were preserved as evidence of his exploits.

The veneration of this saint goes back a long time. In the second half of the seventeenth century they called St Athanasius “a wonderworking monk.”

There is troparion and kontakion to the saint.


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

Monday, March 07, 2016

St Emilian of Rome

Saint Emilian of Italy (in the world Victorinus) was a Roman by birth, and until he was an old man, he led a sinful life. He finally repented, withdrew to a monastery, and became a monk with the name of Emilian. For the remainder of his days he humbly served God, astounding the brethren by his uncomplaining obedience and strict fasting. The monks noticed that at night Emilian secretly visited a cave near the monastery. Once, the igumen followed him and found St Emilian in the cave, praying with tears of contrition, and illumined by an unearthly light. He heard a Voice saying, “Emilian, your sins are forgiven.”

Deeply moved by all that had happened, the igumen after morning services asked the Elder to tell the brethren his secret, and the saint told everyone of God’s great mercy toward him. Then the igumen said to the brethren, “The Lord could have forgiven him his sin in secret, but for our sake He revealed His mercy with light and a voice, so that we might behold His grace and mercy toward sinners who repent.”

St Emilian spent the remainder of his days in spiritual joy, and peacefully departed to the Lord.


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

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Sunday of Meatfare of the Last Judgment

Commemorated on March 6

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 25:31-46, the parable of the Last Judgment. It reminds us that while trusting in Christ’s love and mercy, we must not forget His righteous judgment when He comes again in glory. If our hearts remain hardened and unrepentant, we should not expect the Lord to overlook our transgressions simply because He is a good and loving God. Although He does not desire the death of a sinner, He also expects us to turn from our wickedness and live (Ezek. 33:11). This same idea is expressed in the prayer read by the priest after the penitent has confessed his or her sins (Slavic practice).

The time for repentance and forgiveness is now, in the present life. At the Second Coming, Christ will appear as the righteous Judge, Who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6). Then the time for entreating God’s mercy and forgiveness will have passed.

As Father Alexander Schmemann reminds us in his book GREAT LENT (Ch. 1:4), sin is the absence of love, it is separation and isolation. When Christ comes to judge the world, His criterion for judgment will be love. Christian love entails seeing Christ in other people, our family, our friends, and everyone else we may encounter in our lives. We shall be judged on whether we have loved, or not loved, our neighbor. We show Christian love when we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit those who are sick or in prison. If we did such things for the least of Christ’s brethren, then we also did them for Christ (Mt.25:40).
 If we did not do such things for the least of the brethren, neither did we do them for Christ (Mt.25:45).
Today is the last day for eating meat and meat products until Pascha, though eggs and dairy products are permitted every day during the coming week. This limited fasting prepares us gradually for the more intense fasting of Great Lent.


When You, O God, shall come to earth with glory, / all things shall tremble / and the river of fire shall flow before Your judgment seat; / the books shall be opened and the hidden things disclosed! / Then deliver me from the unquenchable fire, / and make me worthy to stand at Your right hand, righteous Judge!


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

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Martyr Eulogius of Palestine

The Holy Martyr Eulogius was a native of Palestine. After the death of his pagan parents he gave away all his inheritance to the poor, and he himself became a wanderer and went through Palestine, converting pagans to Christianity. During the time of a persecution he was arrested, subjected to terrible tortures and beheaded.


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

Friday, March 04, 2016

Right-believing Prince Wenceslaus of the Czech Lands

Commemorated on March 4

The Translation of the Relics of the Right-Believing Prince St Wenceslaus (Vyacheslav) of the Czech Lands.

On September 28, 935, when St Wenceslaus went to Matins, he was wickedly murdered at the doors of the church by his own brother and his brother’s servants. His body was stabbed and discarded without burial.

The mother, hearing of the murder of her son, found and placed his body in a recently consecrated church at the princely court. They were not able to wash off the blood splashed on the church doors, but after three days it disappeared by itself.

After repenting of his sin, the murderer transferred the relics of St Wenceslaus to Prague, where they were placed in the church of St Vitus, which the martyr himself had constructed. The memory of Prince Wenceslaus is honored from of old in the Russian Orthodox Church.

St Wenceslaus is also commemorated on September 28.


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

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Hesychius the Martyr

March 2

Holy martyr Hesychius lived during the reign of king Maximian in 302. He was the first and the leader in the royal palace and the Senate, because he was magistrianus by office. When Maximian ordered that all Christians who were royal soldiers ought to be deprived of their belts (which were a sign of their royal merit) and live as civilians and without honour, many Christians preferred to live without any outward honour due to this illegal order than to be honoured and lose their soul. St. Hesychius was numbered with these Christians as well. When the king heard this, he ordered that the saint ought to be stripped of the expensive clothes, which he used to wear, and be dressed with a shabby mantle without sleeves woven from hair and to be as disgraced and disdained as to consort with women.

When this had been carried out, the king invited him and asked him: "Aren't you ashamed, Hesychius, that you lost the honour and office of magistrianus and that you have been debased to this kind of life? Or maybe you don't know that the Christians, whose way of life you preferred, have no power to restore you to your previous great honour and office?" The saint replied: "Your honour, o king, is temporary but the honour and glory which Christ gives is eternal and without end." Because of these words the king got angry and ordered his men to tie a great millstone around the saint's neck and then to throw him in the middle of river Orontus, which lies in Coele Syria and which is commonly called Oronge. Thus, the blessed man received the crown of martyrdom from the Lord.

Apolytikion of Martyr Hesychius 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 Hesychius in the Fourth Tone
When thou didst follow in the steps of the Martyrs, thou didst ascend unto the height of divine love, which made thee Godlike, O most wise Hesychius; when thou didst forsake the court of a king that was earthly, thou wast honoured in the courts of the King of the Angels; and cast into the river, thou didst find the living water of true and eternal life.


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