Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cyprian the Hieromartyr & Bishop of Carthage

August 31

Saint Cyprian was born of pagan parents in Carthage of Roman Africa about the year 190. An eloquent teacher of rhetoric, he was converted and baptized late in life, and his conversion from a proud man of learning to a humble servant of Christ was complete; he sold his great possessions and gave them to the poor, and because of his zeal and virtue, was ordained presbyter in 247, then Bishop of Carthage in 248. He was especially steadfast in defending the sanctity and uniqueness of the Baptism of the Church of Christ against the confusion of those who would allow some validity to the ministrations of heretics; his writings continue to guide the Church even in our own day. Having survived the persecution of Decius about the year 250, he was beheaded in confession of the Faith during the persecution of Valerian in 258, on September 14; that day being the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, his feast is kept today.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Guide of Orthodoxy, teacher of piety and holiness, luminary of Carthage, God-inspired adornment of confessors, O wise Cyprian, by thy teachings thou has enlightened all, O harp of the Spirit. Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion in the First Tone
We honour thee, O Cyprian, as a true shepherd * who with thy sacred words and divinely-wise doctrines * hast shown us the bound'ry-stones marking out the one Church of Christ. * Even unto death didst thou bear witness with courage; * wherefore, we extol thee as a hierarch and Martyr. * Entreat that we all be saved.



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

Friday, August 30, 2013

St Fantinus of Calabria

Commemorated on August 30

Saint Fantinus the Wonderworker was born in Calabria (Italy) of parents George and Vriena. He was given over to a monastery, and from childhood he was accustomed to ascetic deeds. In his youth he wandered into the wilderness, remaining often without food or clothes for twenty days. The monk spent 60 years in such exploits.
Before the end of his life, fleeing before pursuing Saracens, he went with his disciples Vitalius and Nicephorus to the Peloponnesos (Greece). Preaching the way of salvation, the monk visited Corinth, Athens, Larissa and Thessalonica, where he venerated the relics of the Great Martyr Demetrius (October 26). He died peacefully in extreme old age at the end of the ninth, and beginning of the tenth century.


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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Beheading of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

August 29

The divine Baptist, the Prophet born of a Prophet, the seal of all the Prophets and beginning of the Apostles, the mediator between the Old and New Covenants, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, the God-sent Messenger of the incarnate Messiah, the forerunner of Christ's coming into the world (Esaias 40: 3; Mal. 3: 1); who by many miracles was both conceived and born; who was filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb; who came forth like another Elias the Zealot, whose life in the wilderness and divine zeal for God's Law he imitated: this divine Prophet, after he had preached the baptism of repentance according to God's command; had taught men of low rank and high how they must order their lives; had admonished those whom he baptized and had filled them with the fear of God, teaching them that no one is able to escape the wrath to come if he do not works worthy of repentance; had, through such preaching, prepared their hearts to receive the evangelical teachings of the Savior; and finally, after he had pointed out to the people the very Savior, and said, "Behold the Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sin of the world" (Luke 3:2-18; John 1: 29-36), after all this, John sealed with his own blood the truth of his words and was made a sacred victim for the divine Law at the hands of a transgressor.

This was Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Galilee, the son of Herod the Great. This man had a lawful wife, the daughter of Arethas (or Aretas), the King of Arabia (that is, Arabia Petraea, which had the famous Nabatean stone city of Petra as its capital. This is the Aretas mentioned by Saint Paul in II Cor. 11:32). Without any cause, and against every commandment of the Law, he put her away and took to himself Herodias, the wife of his deceased brother Philip, to whom Herodias had borne a daughter, Salome. He would not desist from this unlawful union even when John, the preacher of repentance, the bold and austere accuser of the lawless, censured him and told him, "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife" (Mark 6: 18). Thus Herod, besides his other unholy acts, added yet this, that he apprehended John and shut him in prison; and perhaps he would have killed him straightway, had he not feared the people, who had extreme reverence for John. Certainly, in the beginning, he himself had great reverence for this just and holy man. But finally, being pierced with the sting of a mad lust for the woman Herodias, he laid his defiled hands on the teacher of purity on the very day he was celebrating his birthday. When Salome, Herodias' daughter, had danced in order to please him and those who were supping with him, he promised her -- with an oath more foolish than any foolishness -- that he would give her anything she asked, even unto the half of his kingdom. And she, consulting with her mother, straightway asked for the head of John the Baptist in a charger. Hence this transgressor of the Law, preferring his lawless oath above the precepts of the Law, fulfilled this godless promise and filled his loathsome banquet with the blood of the Prophet. So it was that that all-venerable head, revered by the Angels, was given as a prize for an abominable dance, and became the plaything of the dissolute daughter of a debauched mother. As for the body of the divine Baptist, it was taken up by his disciples and placed in a tomb (Mark 6: 21 - 29). Concerning the finding of his holy head, see February 24 and May 25.

Apolytikion in the Second Tone
The memory of the just is celebrated with hymns of praise, but the Lord's testimony is sufficient for thee, O Forerunner; for thou hast proved to be truly even more venerable than the Prophets, since thou was granted to baptize in the running waters Him Whom they proclaimed. Wherefore, having contested for the truth, thou didst rejoice to announce the good tidings even to those in Hades: that God hath appeared in the flesh, taking away the sin of the world and granting us great mercy.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the First Tone
The glorious beheading of the Forerunner was a certain divine dispensation, that the coming of the Saviour might also be preached to those in Hades. Let Herodias lament, then, that she demanded a wicked murder; for she loved not the Law of God, nor eternal life, but one false and fleeting.


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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Job of Pochaev

August 28

Saint Job of Pochaev was born about 1551 in southwest Galicia of a pious Orthodox family. In his tenth year the Saint departed for the Ugornitsky Monastery of our Saviour in the Carpathian Mountains. Tonsured after two years, he was ordained hieromonk about 1580. Renowned for his meekness and humility, Job was invited by the great zealot for Holy Orthodoxy in the Carpatho-Russia, Prince Constantine Ostrozhky, to be Abbot of the Monastery of the Cross in Dubno. In his zeal for the preservation and propagation of the Orthodox Faith, and to counteract the propaganda of the Uniates, he printed and widely disseminated Orthodox spiritual and liturgical books. About 1600 he removed to the Mountain of Pochaev where at insistence of the brethren, he became Abbot of the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos, which he enlarged and made to flourish. Through his labours, a large printing works was founded at Pochaev and greatly assisted in the nurture of the Orthodox faithful in that region. His monastery became the center of the Orthodox Church in western Ukraine. The Saint reposed, having taken the schema with the name of John, in 1651, at the advanced age of one hundred.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Having acquired the patience of the long-suffering forefather, having resembled the Baptist in abstinence, and sharing the divine zeal of both, thou wast granted to receive their names, and wast a fearless preacher of the true Faith. In this way thou didst bring a multitude of monastics to Christ, and thou didst strengthen all the people in Orthodoxy, O Job, our holy father. Pray that our souls be saved.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Thou wast a pillar of the true Faith, a zealot for the commandments of the Gospel, a convicter of pride, an intercessor and teacher of the humble. Wherefore, ask that forgiveness of sins be granted unto them that bless thee; and do thou keep thy community unharmed, O Job our Father, who dost resemble the much-suffering patriarch.


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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Venerable Pimen of Palestine

Saint Pimen of Palestine lived during the sixth century in a cave in the Rouba desert. The holy Fathers Sophronius and John speak of him in Chapter 167 of THE SPIRITUAL MEADOW (Limonarion).

Once, during winter the monk Agathonicus came to St Pimen for guidance and remained to spend the night in an adjoining cave. In the morning, he said that he had suffered much from the cold. St Pimen answered that he had been uncovered, but did not feel the cold because a lion came and lay beside him, warming him.

“But I know,” added the ascetic “that I shall be devoured by wild beasts, since when I lived in the world and herded sheep, my dogs attacked a man and tore him apart. I could have saved him, but I did not. It was later revealed to me that I would die a similar death.” So it came to pass: three years later, at the end of the sixth century, St Pimen of Palestine was torn apart by wild beasts.


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

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Holy Martyrs Adrian and Natalie

August 26

The holy Martyrs Adrian and Natalie confessed the Christian Faith during the reign of Maximian, in Nicomedia, in the year 298. Adrian was a pagan; witnessing the valor of the Martyrs, and the fervent faith with which they suffered their torments, he also declared himself a Christian and was imprisoned. When this was told to his wife Natalie, who was secretly a believer, she visited him in prison and encouraged him in his sufferings. Saint Adrian's hands and feet were placed on an anvil and broken off with a hammer; he died in his torments. His blessed wife recovered part of his holy relics and took it to Argyropolis near Byzantium, and reposed in peace soon after.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Thou didst deem that Faith which hath salvation to be riches never lost or plundered. Thou forsookest thy fathers' impiety, and thou didst follow thy Master, becoming rich in His divine gifts, O glorious Adrian. With the godly-minded Natalie, who emboldened thee, entreat Christ God, O Martyr, that our souls be saved.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Having wisely laid to heart all the divine words of thy godly-minded wife, Adrian, Martyr of Christ God, in torments thou strovest ardently; and with thy yoke-mate thou now hast received thy crown.


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

Sunday, August 25, 2013

St John the Cappadocian, Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint John the Cappadocian, Patriarch of Constantinople, occupied the patriarchal throne from 518-520. The holy Patriarch Photius (857-867) termed him “a habitation of virtues.”


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

Friday, August 23, 2013

Our Holy Father Ireneaus, Bishop of Lyons

August 23

The Holy Hieromartyr Irenaeus was born in Asia Minor about the year 120, and in his youth was a disciple of Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna. Saint Irenaeus was sent to Lyons in Gaul, to be a fellow labourer of Pothinus, Bishop of Lyons (celebrated June 2), who had also been a disciple Saint Polycarp. After the martyrdom of Saint Pothinus, Saint Irenaeus succeeded him as Bishop of Lyons. Besides the assaults of paganism, Irenaeus found himself compelled to do battle with many Gnostic heresies, against which he wrote his greatest work, A Refutation and Overthrow of Knowledge Falsely So Called . He was also a peace-maker within the Church. When Victor, Bishop of Rome, was prepared to excommunicate the Christians of Asia Minor for following a different tradition celebrating Pascha, Irenaeus persuaded him to moderate his zeal, and mediated peace. He made Lyons an illustrious bastion of Orthodoxy and a school of piety, and sealed his confession with martyrdom about the year 202, during the reign of Septimius Severus. He is not to be confused with Saint Irenaeus, Bishop of Sirmium, also celebrated today, who was beheaded and cast into a river in 304 under Diocletian.


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

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Icon of the Mother of God of Georgia

Commemorated on August 22

The Georgian Icon of the mother of God: In 1622 the Persian Shah Abbas conquered Georgia. Many Christian holy things were stolen, and many were sold to the Russian merchants in Persia. Thus, the Georgian Icon of the Mother of God came to a certain merchant named Stephen, who piously kept it.

In Yaroslavl, the merchant George Lytkin, on whose business Stephen was in Persia, received a revelation in a dream about the holy object found by Stephen, and he was commanded to send it to the Chernogorsk monastery in the Arkhangelsk diocese, founded in 1603.

When Stephen returned home in 1629 and showed the icon to George Lytkin, he remembered his vision and he set off to the Dvina outskirts to the Chernogorsk monastery (so called because it was built on a hilly and somber place. From of old it had been named “Black Hill”, but afterwards the monastery changed the name to “Pretty Hill”.

The icon was glorified there by miracles. In 1654, during a pestilential plague, the icon was transferred to Moscow, and those praying before it escaped the deadly plague. The numerous copies of the icon testify to its deep veneration. In 1658, with the blessing of Patriarch Nikon, there was established an annual feastday of the Georgian Icon of the Mother of God. The service was written in 1698 under the supervision of Theodore Polykarpov of the Moscow printing office.


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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Holy Apostle Thaddaeus

August 21

The Apostle Thaddaeus was from Edessa, a Jew by race. When he came to Jerusalem, he became a disciple of Christ, and after His Ascension he returned to Edessa. There he catechized and baptized Abgar (see Aug. 16). Having preached in Mesopotamia, he ended his life in martyrdom. Though some call him one of the Twelve, whom Matthew calls "Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus" (Matt. 10:3), Eusebius says that he is one of the Seventy: "After [Christ's] Resurrection from the dead, and His ascent into Heaven, Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles, inspired by God, sent Thaddaeus, one of the seventy disciples of Christ, to Edessa as a preacher and evangelist of Christ's teaching" (Eccl. Hist. 1: 13).

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
O Holy Apostle Thaddeus, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
The Apostle's joyous feast is come with radiant splendour; let us keep it on this day with jubilation and gladness. For to them who ever honour him in sincere faith, it doth grant their sins' forgiveness and true divine health; for he hath great boldness as a divine initiate of Christ's omnipotent grace.


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

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Samuel the Prophet

August 20

This most holy man, a Prophet of God from childhood, was the last judge of the Israelite people, and anointed the first two Kings of Israel. He was born in the twelfth century before Christ, in the city of Armathaim Sipha, from the tribe of Levi, the son of Elkanah and Hannah (Anna). He was the fruit of prayer, for his mother, being barren, conceived him only after she had supplicated the Lord with many tears; wherefore she called him Samuel, that is, "heard by God." As soon as Hannah had weaned him, she brought him to the city of Silom (Shiloh), where the Ark was kept, and she consecrated him, though yet a babe, to the service of God, giving thanks to Him with the hymn found in the Third Ode of the Psalter: "My heart hath been established in the Lord . . ." Samuel remained in Silom under the protection of Eli the priest. He served in the Tabernacle of God, and through his most venerable way of life became well-pleasing to God and man (I Kings 2: 26). While yet a child, sleeping in the tabernacle near the Ark of God, he heard the voice of God calling his name, and foretelling the downfall of Eli; for although Eli's two sons, Ophni and Phineas, were most lawless, and despisers of God, Eli did not correct them. Even after Samuel had told Eli of the divine warning, Eli did not properly chastise his sons, and afterwards, through various misfortunes, his whole house was blotted out in one day.

After these things came to pass, Samuel was chosen to be the protector of the people, and he judged them with holiness and righteousness. He became for them an example of all goodness, and their compassionate intercessor before God: "Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; yea, I will serve the Lord, and show you the good and the right way" (ibid. 12:23). When he asked them -- having God as witness -- if he ever wronged anyone, or took anyone's possessions, or any gift, even so much as a sandal, they answered with one voice: "Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, nor afflicted us, neither hast thou taken anything from anyone's hand" (ibid. 12:4). When Samuel was old, the people asked him for a king, but he was displeased with this, knowing that God Himself was their King. But when they persisted, the Lord commanded him to anoint them a king, saying, "They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me from reigning over them" (ibid. 8:7); so Samuel anointed Saul. But Saul transgressed the command of God repeatedly, so Samuel anointed David. Yet, since Samuel was a man of God, full of tender mercy, when the Lord told him that He had rejected Saul, Samuel wept for him the whole night long (ibid. 15:11); and later, since he continued to grieve, the Lord said to him, "How long wilt thou mourn for Saul?" (ibid. 16:1). Having lived blamelessly some ninety-eight years, and become an example to all of a God-pleasing life, he reposed in the eleventh century before Christ. Many ascribe to him the authorship of the Books of judges, and of Ruth, and of the first twenty-four chapters of the First Book of Kings (I Samuel).

Apolytikion in the Second Tone
As we celebrate the memory of Thy Prophet Samuel, O Lord, through him we beseech Thee to save our souls.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Thy hallowed mother dedicated thee unto the Lord even before she had conceived thee; and when thou wast born thou didst serve Him from thine infancy like an Angel. And, O Prophet of the Most High, for thy fervent faith, thou wast granted to foretell things that should come to pass. Hence, we cry to thee: Rejoice, O ven'rable Samuel.


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

Monday, August 19, 2013

St Pitirim the Bishop of Perm

Saint Pitirim, Bishop of Great Perm, was chosen and consecrated to the See of Perm after the suffering and death of St Gerasimus of Perm (January 24). Before becoming bishop, Archimandrite Pitirim was head of the Chudov monastery. He later became known as the composer of the Canon to St Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow (February 12), and also wrote his Life.

As bishop, St Pitirim first occupied himself with establishing friendly relations between the Zyryani and Voguli peoples. He circulated admonitory letters and messages, seeking to defend the Zyryani from pillage. The Voguli leader Asyka however, taking advantage of princely dissention and the remoteness of the bishop from the capital, plundered Christian settlements and killed defenseless people.

Novgorod landowners held lands at the Rivers Vyg and Dvina, suffering death from the constant pillaging. In the year 1445, they marched out against the Voguli and took Asyka captive. The crafty pagan swore friendship to Perm and vowed to harass Christians no longer. Set free, Asyka waited for a convenient moment to attack Ust’-Vym with the aim of killing St Pitirim, to whom he attributed his defeat by the Novgorodians.

During this time St Pitirim was twice in Moscow: in 1447 to address an encyclical to Prince Demetrius Shemyaka, having broken a treaty (it is supposed that the writer was St Pitirim); and again in the year 1448 for the consecration of St Jonah, Metropolitan of Moscow (March 31). Taking advantage of St Pitirim’s absence, Asyka again made an attack on a Zyryani settlement near the Pechora, robbing and killing the inhabitants. Not only the Zyryani, but also the Voguli living their nomadic life near the Pechora tributary, had become convinced of the truth of the preachings of St Pitirim, and they had begun to accept Baptism.

Embittered by this, Asyka committed a new crime. On August 19, 1456 he murdered St Pitirim, when he was out blessing the waters at the point of land formed by the confluence of the Rivers Vaga and Vychegda. The body of the saint remained for 40 days in a grave at the place of his death (since they awaited an answer to the sad news of his death). In spite of the hot weather, decay did not touch him. The saint was buried in the Ust’-Vym cathedral church of the Annunciation next to his predecessor St Gerasimus. The memory of his repose was already entered into a typikon in the year 1522. In the year 1607 the joint commemoration of the three Great Perm holy Hierarchs: Gerasimus, Pitirim and Jonah, was established (January 29). They succeeded one another at the Ust’-Vym cathedral.


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

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hieromartyr Emilian and Martyrs Hilarion, Dionysius, and Hermippus

Saints Emilian the Bishop, and with him Hilarion, Dionysius, and Hermippus were born and lived in Armenia. After the death of their parents, the hieromartyrs Emilian, Dionysius, and Hermippus (they were brothers), and their teacher Hilarion left their native land and arrived in Italy, in the city of Spoleto.

St. Emilian began to preach the Gospel to the pagans. He won the deep respect of the Christian community because of his strict and virtuous life, and he was chosen bishop of the city of Trebium. He was consecrated by Marcellinus, the Bishop of Rome). After moving to Trebium, St. Emilian converted many pagans to Christ, for which he was brought to trial before the emperor Maximian (284-305).

The saint suggested that the emperor see for himself the power of prayer to Christ. A man who had been crippled for a long time was brought before him. However much the pagan priests tried to heal him by appealing to the idols, they accomplished nothing. Then St. Emilian prayed to the Lord and commanded the crippled man, in the name of Jesus Christ, to get up. The man stood up healthy and went home rejoicing.

This miracle was so convincing that the emperor was inclined to admit the truth about Christ, but the pagan priests told him that the saint had worked magic. He was subjected to fierce tortures, in which the Lord encouraged him, saying: “Fear not, Emilian, I am with you.”

They tied him to a wheel, threw him on hot tin, dunked him in a river, and put him in the arena to be eaten by wild beasts, but he remained unharmed. In view of all these miracles the people began to shout: “Great is the Christian God! Free His servant!” On this day 1000 men believed in Christ, and all received the crown of martyrdom.

In a rage, the governor ordered that the beasts be killed since they did not attack the saint. The martyr gave thanks to the Lord because even the wild beasts accepted death for Christ. They locked St. Emilian in prison together with his brothers and teacher, and after fierce tortures the hieromartyrs Hilarion, Dionysius, and Hermippus were beheaded with the sword.

St. Emilian was executed outside the city. When the executioner struck the martyr on the neck with a sword, it became soft like wax, and did not wound the saint. Soldiers fell on their knees to him asking forgiveness and confessing Christ as the True God. The saint prayed on his knees for them and asked the Lord to grant him a martyr’s death. His prayer was heard, and another executioner cut off the saint’s head. Seeing a milky liquid flowing from his wounds, many of the pagans believed in Christ and they buried the martyr’s body with honor.


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

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Myron the Martyr of Cyzicus

August 17

Saint Myron was a priest during the reign of Decius, when Antipater was ruler of Achaia. On the day of our Lord's Nativity, Antipater entered the church to seize the Christians and punish them. Saint Myron, kindled with holy zeal, roundly insulted Antipater, for which he was hung up and scraped, then cast into a raging furnace, but was preserved unharmed. When Myron refused to worship the idols, Antipater commanded that strips be cut in the Saint's flesh from his shoulders to his feet; the Saint took one of the strips of his flesh and flung it in the tyrant's face. He was beaten, and scraped again upon his beaten flesh; then he was thrown to wild beasts, but when Antipater saw them leaving off their fierce nature and protecting the Saint from harm, he was overcome with unbearable shame and slew himself. The Saint was then sent to Cyzicus, where the proconsul had him beheaded, about the year 250.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Since thou didst love Christ from childhood, O all-lauded one, and strictly didst keep His precepts and divine commands, thou didst run whole-heartedly unto Him, O Myron, and foundest rest and with Angels glorifiest Him, while asking divine forgiveness for us all.


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

Friday, August 16, 2013

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

August 16

Apolytikion 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.


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

Thursday, August 15, 2013

St Macarius the Roman

Saint Macarius the Roman was born at the end of the fifteenth century into a wealthy family of Rome. His parents raised him in piety and gave him an excellent education. He might have expected a successful career in public service, but he did not desire honors or earthly glory. Instead, he focused on how to save his soul.

He lived in an age when the Christian West was shaken by the Protestant Reformation. While others around him were pursuing luxury and lascivious pleasures, he studied the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers. St Macarius was grieved to see so many darkened by sin and worldly vanity, and was disturbed by the rebellions and conflicts within the Western Church. With tears, he asked God to show him the path of salvation, and his prayer did not go unanswered. He came to realize that he would find the safe harbor of salvation in the Orthodox Church.

St Macarius left Rome secretly, and set out for Russia without money, and wearing an old garment. After many sufferings on his journey, he arrived in Novgorod, where he rejoiced to see so many churches and monasteries. One of these monasteries had been founded three centuries before by his fellow countryman, St Anthony the Roman (August 3).

St Macarius came to the banks of the River Svir, where St Alexander of Svir (April 17 and August 30) had founded the monastery of the Holy Trinity. St Alexander received Macarius into the Orthodox Church and tonsured him as a monk. Macarius, however longed for the solitary life. He moved to an island on the River Lezna, forty-five miles from Novgorod, where he engaged in ascetical struggles and unceasing prayer.

The winters were very cold, and the summers were hot and humid. The marshy area was also a breeding ground for mosquitos, which tormented the saint. St Macarius survived on berries, roots, and herbs. Sometimes bears would come to him for food, and they allowed him to pet them.

Such a great lamp of the spiritual life could not remain hidden for long. One rainy night someone knocked on his door and asked him to open it. Several people, who seemed to be hunters, entered his cell. Astonished by his appearance, and the divine light shining from his face, the men asked for his blessing. They told him they had come to the forest to hunt, and only by the prayers of the saint did God permit them to find him.

“It is not my sinful prayers,” he told them, “but the grace of God which led you here.”

After feeding them, he spoke and prayed with them, then showed them the way out of the marsh. St Macarius was concerned that his peace would be disturbed, now that his dwelling place was known. His fears were justified, because many people sought him out to ask for his advice and prayers.

The holy ascetic decided to move even farther into the wilderness, choosing an elevated place on the left bank of the Lezna. Even here, however, he was not able to conceal himself for very long. Sometimes a pillar of fire would rise up into the sky at night above his place of refuge. During the day, the grace of God was made manifest by a fragrant cloud of smoke. Drawn by these signs, the local inhabitants of the region were able to find him once more.

Some of his visitors begged St Macarius to permit them to live near him and to be guided by his counsels. Seeing that this was the Lord’s will, he did not refuse them. He blessed them to build cells, and this was the foundation of his monastery.

In 1540, they built a wooden church dedicated to the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. St Macarius was ordained to the holy priesthood by Bishop Macarius of Novgorod, who later became Metropolitan of All Russia. The hierarch also appointed St Macarius as igumen of the monastery.

St Macarius was an example to the others, and was given the gifts of clairvoyance and wonderworking from God. He wore himself out with his labors and vigils, encouraging others not to become faint-hearted in their own struggles.

After several years, he entrusted the monastery to one of his disciples, and returned to the island where he had first lived. There he fell asleep in the Lord on August 15, 1550. His disciples buried him outside on the left side of the Dormition church which he had founded.

The Hermitage of St Macarius was never a prosperous monastery with many monks, but it was distinguished by the high level of spiritual life. In the seventeenth century, many of the monasteries near Novgorod were plundered by Swedish invaders. The Hermitage of St Macarius was also burned in 1615, and some of the monks were put to the sword.

By the eighteenth century, the monastery had become a dependency of the St Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St Petersburg. The Empress Catherine closed it in 1764, just as she had closed other monasteries, and it was designated as a parish church. Although pilgrims still came to venerate the saint’s relics and to celebrate his Feast Day, the buildings soon fell into ruin.

In the mid-nineteenth century, some benefactors restored the two churches and the miraculous healing spring which the saint himself had dug. About this time an old priest was living there, and he celebrated the church services until his death. In 1894, the monastery began to function once more under the noted missionary Hieromonk Arsenius, who introduced the Athonite Typikon. The monastery was destroyed by the Soviets in 1932.

St Macarius the Roman is commemorated on August 15 (the date of his repose), and also on January 19 (his nameday).


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

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

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

August 14

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
In faith, O ye people, leap for joy while clapping your hands; and gather in gladness on this day with longing and shout in radiant jubilance. For the Theotokos cometh nigh to departing from the earth unto the heights; and we glorify her with glory as the Mother of God in our unceasing hymns

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
In the Immaterial Spirit, the whole world hath been mystically adorned upon the glorious memory; and it doth cry to thee joyously: Rejoice, O Virgin, thou boast of the Christian race.


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

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Apodosis of the Transfiguration

August 13

Apolytikion 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.


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

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Martyrs Anicetus and Photius and Martyrs with them

Commemorated on August 12

The Martyrs Anicetus and Photius (his nephew) were natives of Nicomedia. Anicetus, a military official, denounced the emperor Diocletian (284-305) for setting up in the city square an implement of execution for frightening Christians. The enraged emperor ordered St Anicetus to be tortured, and later condemned him to be devoured by wild beasts. But the lions they set loose became gentle and fawned at his feet.

Suddenly there was a strong earthquake, resulting in the collapse of the pagan temple of Hercules, and many pagans perished beneath the demolished city walls. The executioner took up a sword to cut off the saint’s head, but he fell down insensible. They tried to break St Anicetus on the wheel and burn him with fire, but the wheel stopped and the fire went out. They threw the martyr into a furnace with boiling tin, but the tin became cold. Thus the Lord preserved His servant for the edification of many.

 Martyr Anicetus

The martyr’s nephew, St Photius, saluted the sufferer and turned to the emperor, saying, “O idol-worshipper, your gods are nothing!” The sword, held over the new confessor, struck the executioner instead. Then the martyrs were thrown into prison.

After three days Diocletian urged them, “Worship our gods, and I shall give you glory and riches.” The martyrs answered, “May you perish with your honor and riches!” Then they tied them by the legs to wild horses. Though the saints were dragged along the ground, they remained unharmed. They did not suffer in the heated bath house, which fell apart. Finally, Diocletian ordered a great furnace to be fired up, and many Christians, inspired by the deeds of Sts Anicetus and Photius, went in themselves saying, “We are Christians!” They all died with a prayer on their lips. The bodies of Sts Anicetus and Photius were not harmed by the fire, and even their hair remained whole. Seeing this, many of the pagans came to believe in Christ. This occurred in the year 305.

Sts Anicetus and Photius are mentioned in the prayers for the Blessing of Oil and the Lesser Blessing of Water (BOOK OF NEEDS, 1987, p. 230).


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

Sunday, August 11, 2013

St Theodosius (Prince Theodore of Ostrog) of the Kiev Caves

Saint Theodore, Prince of Ostrozh, gained fame with the construction of churches and by his defense of Orthodoxy in Volhynia against the enroachment of Papism. He was descended from St Vladimir (July 15), through a great-grandson Svyatopolk-Michael, prince of Turov (1080-1093) and later Great Prince of Kiev (+1113).

The first time the name of the holy Prince Theodore is mentioned is in the year 1386, when the Polish king Jagiello and the Lithuanian prince Vitovt affirmed his hereditary possession of the Ostrozh district, and they augmented the Zaslavsk and Koretsk surroundings.

In 1410 St Theodore participated in the defeat of the Teutonic Knights of the Catholic Order at the Battle of Gruenwald. In 1422 the holy prince, because of sympathy for the Orthodox in Bohemia, supported the Hussites in their struggle with the German emperor Sigismund. Theodore introduced the Hussite formation (i.e., the Taborite, adopted by the Ukrainian Cossacks) into Russian military strategy.

In 1432, after winning a series of victories over the Polish forces, St Theodore compelled Prince Jagiello to guarantee the freedom of Orthodoxy in Volhynia under the law. Prince Svidrigailo, apprehensive of the strengthening of his ally, locked St Theodore into prison, but the people who loved the saint rose up in rebellion, and he was freed.

St Theodore was reconciled with the offender and went to him for help in the struggle against the Lithuanians and the Poles. In 1438, the holy prince took part in a battle with the Tatars. In 1440, with the accession to the Polish throne of Cazimir, youngest son of Prince Jagiello, St Theodore received the rights of administration of the city of Vladimir, Dubno, Ostrog, and he was granted extensive holdings in the best regions of Podolia and Volhynia.

St Theodore left all this behind, together with princely power and fame. After 1441 he entered the Kiev Caves monastery, where he received the monastic tonsure with the name Theodosius, he struggled there for the salvation of his soul until the time of his blessed repose.

The year of St Theodore’s death is unknown, but it is probable that he died in the second half of the fifteenth century at a great old age (S. M. Soloviev in his HISTORY OF RUSSIA gives the year of his death as 1483). The saint was buried in the Far Caves of St Theodosius (He is also commemorated on the Synaxis of the Monastic Fathers of the Far Caves, August 28). His glorification apparently took place at the end of the sixteenth century, since in the year 1638 the hieromonk Athanasius Kal’nophysky testified that “St Theodore rests in the Theodosiev Cave, where his body was discovered incorrupt.”


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

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Blessed Laurence the Fool-For-Christ at Kaluga

Commemorated on August 10

Blessed Laurence, Fool-for-Christ and Kaluga Wonderworker, lived at the beginning of the sixteenth century at the distance of half a verst from old Kaluga near a forest church in honor of the Nativity of Christ, set upon a high hill.

There was a long underground entrance from his dwelling to the church, where he attended services. He lived also at the home of the Kaluga prince Simeon Ioannovich. It is conjectured that Blessed Laurence was descended from the noble Khitrov lineage, since his name initiates their lineage memorial at the Peremyshl’sk Liotykov monastery, in the Kaluga diocese. Blessed Laurence went barefoot both winter and summer, in a shirt and sheepskin coat. By his struggles he so raised himself up that while still alive he was glorified by gifts of grace.

When the Crimean Tatars fell upon Kaluga in May 1512, Blessed Laurence, then in the home of the prince, suddenly shouted out in a loud voice: “Give me my sharp axe, for the curs fall upon Prince Simeon and it is necessary to defend him!” Saying this, he seized the axe and left. Suddenly having come on board ship next to the prince, Righteous Laurence inspired and encouraged the soldiers, and in that very hour they defeated the enemy.

He is depicted in icons with an axe in his right hand, set upon a long handle. It is certain that Prince Simeon (+ 1518), owing him his safety, built a monastery in his memory on the site of the saint’s ascetic labors.
Blessed Laurence died on August 10, 1515, on his nameday. The memory of the saint is honored also on July 8.

Blessed Laurence was glorified, it seems, in the second half of the sixteenth century. Thus, Tsar Ivan the Terrible in a deed of donation to the monastery (1565) wrote: “Monastery of the Nativity of Christ, where lies Laurence, the Fool-for-Christ.” In the Life, the first posthumous miracle is recorded under the year 1621: the healing of the paralyzed boyar Kologrivov, who became well after a Molieben to the saint.


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

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Valaam Icon of the Mother of God

Commemorated on August 7

One of the greatest treasures in the possession of the Monastery of New Valamo in Heinävesi, Finland is the wonder-working icon of the Mother of God of Valaam. Painted on lime wood, the 132 x 79.5 cm icon depicts the Virgin Mary as a full-length figure standing on a cloud with lowered gaze, clothed in a bright red cloak and a dark turquoise undergarment. She is holding the Christ child, who is dressed in a thin, pale yellow smock, on her left arm. With her right hand, she points to Christ, in the style of the “hodigitria” icons of the Mother of God. Christ blesses with His right hand and holds an orb, surmounted by a cross, in His left hand, signifying that He is the Creator of the world and King of all.

According to the inscription, the icon was painted in 1878, “the work of the monks of Valaam.” It is customarily attributed, however, to Father Alipy, one of the leading iconographers at the original Valaam Monastery in Lake Ladoga in Russian Karelia. Father Alipy painted the icon only a few years after he arrived at the monastery, before he had become a novice there. He was tonsured to monastic orders in 1884 and ordained as priestmonk in 1893.

Following the conventions of the late 19th century, the icon was painted in a “naturalistic” style, employing a technique that combined the use of tempera and oils.

Originally, the icon was to have been placed in the Valaam Monastery’s Church of the Dormition. This never occurred, however, and subsequently the icon was misplaced. In 1897, the icon was rediscovered and gained its miracle-working reputation on the strength of a succession of visions of the Mother of God experienced by an elderly woman with serious rheumatoid arthritis, Natalia Andreyevna Andreyeva, who was cured of her illness.

Despite the Valaam Monastery’s long history, it had never had an icon of the Mother of God of its own design, although Father Alipy’s icon came to occupy such a position in subsequent years. In the turmoil of World War II, the icon was transported to safety in Finland, along with many other treasures from Valaam and the majority of the monks. It now occupies a prominent position in the Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord at the New Valaam Monastery.

In 1987, the bishops of the autonomous Orthodox Church of Finland established an annual feast in the Valaam Icon’s honor on August 7. The troparion and kontakion for the feast were written by the late Archbishop Paul of Finland.

On July 29, 2005, the Valaam Icon of the Mother of God was brought for the first time to North America by His Eminence, Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland.


“Mother dear, is it true that you live at Valaam?”

The story of the icon of the Mother of God of Valaam, as recorded in 1897

In a corner behind the choir enclosure on the south side of the lower main church at the monastery of Valaam, where the miracle-working remains of the monastery’s founders, the Saints Sergei and Herman of Valaam, lie at rest interred in the rock, stands an icon of the All-Holy Mother of God. This full length image of the Queen of Heaven holding the divine child in her arms is known as the icon of the Mother of God of Valaam. It is a work of considerable artistic merit that was painted by a local artist-monk and later hieromonk, Father Alipi, in 1878. Nowadays this icon is one of the most cherished objects of reverence at Valaam.

As if by some divine providence, no suitable place could be found for the icon at first when it was finished, and it was placed in the entrance hall to the upper main church, where it remained until that church was demolished to make way for a new one. At that stage the majority of the icons, including this one, were taken to the Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God, where the monastery held its regular services until the lower main church was completed. The icon was hung in a relatively high position on a pillar to the left of the entrance to the church.

When the lower main church was ready for consecration, all the icons that had been moved to the Church of the Dormition were returned to it, but again, for some inexplicable reason known only to God, no place could be found for this one. As scarcely any services were held in the Church of the Dormition any longer, this icon, along with some others, was placed in temporary storage in the Church of St Nicholas the Miracle-Worker. There it lay forgotten for many years, until it was moved to its present place in response to a vision experienced by a holy woman servant of God. The story of the indescribable act of grace bestowed upon this woman by the Queen of Heaven is recounted below in her own words.

‘I am a member of the peasant estate from the village of Zarino in the parish of Paskina, part of the district of Korchevski within the province of Tver. My name is Natalia Andreyevna Andreyeva. I am now sixty-four years of age and live in St Petersburg, in the Brusnitsyn old peoples’ home, at Kosaya Line no. 15 on Vasili Island. I was placed in this home, through the grace of God, by the lady in whose service I was a serf in former days.

In the year 1878 or 1879 I caught a bad cold on one occasion when washing clothes and developed rheumatism in my arms and legs. I began to seek treatment for this, but my health became worse year by year. I went to the Mariski Hospital for massage for a long time, but it didn’t help, and I went to the Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna’s clinic opposite the Tauria gardens for as long as I could. I was more or less a cripple for most of the winter. All my money went on doctors’ fees and medicines, but the Lord God didn’t look kindly on my afflictions. In the end I was told that my illness had reached the stage of serious rheumatoid arthritis and that the only way of curing it was to go to a spa and take warm water baths.

What could I do? By that time I could scarcely afford to eat, so how could I find the money for treatment at a spa? And so, sinner that I am, I began to pray ardently to the Mother of God that in her mercy she would help me in my sufferings. I could walk only with great difficulty, leaning on a stick, and I had such pains in my hands and arms from time to time that I could no longer hold on to the stick. Sometimes I could make my way into the Church of the Sign only by crawling up the steps on all fours. I lived as a beggar, on food that people gave me as alms. This went on until 1887.

At that point my former mistress heard about my pitiful state and invited me to come and live with her at Käkisalmi in the province of Viipuri in Finland and look after her children as far as my health would permit. There was no other work that I could think of doing in the condition that I was in. The family was not a rich one, and so I was not to receive any wages for this - but, thank God, at least I was sure of food and a roof over my head.

While I was at Käkisalmi I heard many accounts of the miraculous cures that had taken place at the tomb of the Saints Sergei and Herman of Valaam, and this aroused a powerful desire in me to visit Valaam and prostrate myself before the tomb of these saints who had been acceptable unto the Lord and entreat their help in my serious state of illness. I had heard a lot about Valaam earlier, while I was living in St Petersburg, and I had often thought of visiting the monastery to pay reverence to its founder saints, but in all the vanities of life I had never got round to it. The main reason had been the cost of the journey, of course, but now the monastery was closer. Also, there was an inner voice speaking to me all the time, “Go to Valaam and be cured!”

I could no longer resist this desire, and I asked the lady of the house for leave to go there. As I had no money at all, I pawned my warm scarf for four roubles and started to make preparations for the journey.
As the day of departure approached I began to feel uneasy and distressed. I was an old woman who was utterly sick and lacking in strength. How could I travel alone? I had very little money, only just enough for the journey. How could I set out at all on such a journey? And if something were to happen, what would a poor creature like me do then? Thoughts like this began to haunt me until I was quite distraught.

The night before I set out I just lay on my bed and wept. What should I do? I wanted so much to make this journey, but still I was frightened for some reason. Then - I don’t know whether I was asleep or awake - I saw quite clearly a tall woman clad in pink velvet and with a child in her arms, surrounded by an amazing light. The thought immediately struck me, could this be the Mother of God? I didn’t dare to call out to her by that name, though. I wanted to go to her, but she stepped back and said, “Don’t weep. The Saviour is coming, and I am coming to you!”

Then I said to her, “Mother dear, how beautiful and good you are! Is it true that you live at Valaam?”
“Yes, I live there. You will see me at Valaam!” After that the vision disappeared, but now that the Mother of God had spoken to me it was as if a stone had been lifted from my heart. My mind was at ease and all my fears had been swept away.

The next day the ship came and I set out joyfully on my journey. The old ladies sitting beside me began to offer me food and drink, one bread, another tea and yet another coffee, so that I was not short of anything all the way. It was a happy journey. The only problem was that my legs were very painful because of the rocking of the ship. At Valaam they were celebrating not only the annual feast of the Saints Sergei and Herman but also the laying of the foundation stone for a new church. There were a huge number of pilgrims there, and also the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich and his wife the Duchess. There were throngs of people everywhere.

Once I had arrived and rested after the strenuous journey, I made my way to the tomb of the Saints Sergei and Herman and prayed there ardently so that the tears streamed from my eyes. I asked the saints who had been acceptable unto God to help me, to grant me, sinful as I was, relief from my illness. I spent the last coins that I had on a short service of prayer to them, so that I had nothing left but twenty kopecks and my return fare.

The evening service was held in the Church of the Dormition, and the crowd was so enormous that with my illness, I stood no chance of pushing my way into the church but had to stand, or rather sit, in the entrance.
The following day I had to return home. I would have liked to stay there longer to pray, but I couldn’t, as even a few days would have cost so much that I would not have had any money for the fare home.

Just before the ship was due to leave, some unseen force began to drive me back to the Church of the Dormition once more to pray. Although I was frightened of missing the ship, I didn’t dare to resist this inner voice which ordered me into the church, so I gathered up all my strength and practically ran back there.
As soon as I stepped into the church I involuntarily looked to the left - and stood rooted to the spot. My legs went weak beneath me, and I would certainly have fallen down if it hadn’t been for the railings beside the stairs leading to the upper church.

The reason for my surprise and bewilderment was something quite miraculous. Hanging on the pillar to the left of the door, in a golden frame, and looking at me was the Mother of God! And what was more, I recognised in Her the same figure who had appeared to me in a dream on the eve of my departure for Valaam and strengthened my failing spirit for the journey. I couldn’t take my eyes off the icon, and I became more and more convinced that this was the same dear mother who had been gracious enough to visit me in a dream. I recognised Her radiant face and Her merciful gaze. Even Her clothing was the same, and She held the Child in just the same way as I had seen in my dream.

As soon as I had recalled all this I wanted to have a service of prayer for the Mother of God and to kiss Her holy icon, but this was evidently not a suitable moment for Her, as our defender, to receive my unworthy prayers. The ship’s siren sounded in the distance, announcing its departure, and the icon was hung so high up that it was impossible for me to kiss it. I just had time to buy a candle with my last twenty kopecks and place it in front of the icon. Then, with tears in my eyes, I had to leave for the ship.

It was only during the voyage that I recovered my composure. I was delighted beyond words with this miracle that had been granted to me, a sinner, although I was also saddened by the fact that I had seen the icon of the All-Holy Mother of God only in the last few minutes before leaving Valaam. This had evidently been Her wish.

* * * * * * * *

A few days after I arrived back in Käkisalmi I began to feel much better. I could walk without a stick and do little jobs around the house. I resolved at once to go back to the monastery again at the first opportunity to thank God and the holy fathers and definitely to have a service of prayer said in front of the icon of the Mother of God. But the Lord determined otherwise.

The lady in whose house I was living decided to move into the country, and I had to go back to St Petersburg again and rely on assistance from the good people there. The years went by. My life was a hard one, and I was often facing hunger. My illness became worse, and I again had to walk with a stick. I prayed ardently to the Mother of God for help. Then, in 1896, nine years after my visit to Valaam, I came home from Vespers one Saturday evening, said my prayers and went to bed. Again I had a dream. The Mother of God appeared to me in exactly the same form as on the first occasion, and said, “So your enthusiasm has waned and you’ve forgotten your promise to return to Valaam. You were shown the way, but you didn’t follow it.”

“I am poor,” I answered, “I haven’t the money.”

“You find money for everything else, but not for this. Alas, this is a bitter disappointment for me,” the Mother of God complained.

I was horrified at this vision. I had evidently offended our dear mother. What was I to do now? Suddenly I heard that my former mistress had recently returned to St Petersburg, and so I went to her and told her the reason for my sorrow. She again came to my rescue - may God grant her all his goodness - and unexpectedly gave me five roubles. With these I was able to travel to Valaam at once.

As soon as I reached the monastery I went to the new church to pray at the tomb of the founder saints, and then to the Church of the Dormition to pray to the Mother of God. To my great sorrow, however, I couldn’t find Her icon where it had been on the first occasion. I began to ask the monks where it was, and the former treasurer Father Evgeni advised me to ask the master of the church furnishings, Father Pafnuti, who was responsible for all the icons. Even he couldn’t tell me exactly where the icon of the Mother of God that had been in the Church of the Dormition now was, and thought it might have been sent to the monastery’s chapel on Vasili Island in St Petersburg. I was very, very upset that I had not found my Queen of Heaven, and shed many bitter tears as I prayed to the Mother of God and the Saints Sergei and Herman that they would not abandon me in my sin.

I stayed at Valaam for two and a half weeks, looking everywhere for the icon, but I couldn’t find it. My health was poor, and my soul weighed heavy within me. Eventually I went back to St Petersburg and called at the Valaam chapel on Vasili Island, but the icon was not there, either. I was more grief-stricken than ever.
Another year passed, and my illness began to grow worse again, so that I could scarcely walk even with a stick. I had scrimped and saved all year and gradually collected the kopecks together for another journey to Valaam. I set out to spend the feast of St Peter at the monastery and to look for the icon of the Mother of God once again.

Although I was exhausted by the time I arrived, I prayed earnestly at the tomb of the founder saints and with tears in my eyes prayed to the Mother of God that she would show me where I could find Her blessed icon. And my prayer was answered.

That night I had another dream. I was walking through the yard of the monastery and past the now abandoned Church of St Nicholas. I was crying and praying to the Mother of God, “Oh mother dear, if only I could see you once more!” I was greatly surprised, but I went on praying.

Again I heard a voice, but this time it was someone else’s. “What are you so sad about? What are you looking for?” I turned round and there was a grey-bearded old monk in a blue biretta standing behind me.

“I am looking for the Mother of God,” I replied.

“Wait. We will find Her.”

“How can you find Her so quickly,” I asked, “when Father Pafnuti searched for three weeks without finding her?”

“He searched in the wrong places. He had forgotten where She is,” the old monk said.

I followed him to a door. “This door is closed,” I said.

He opened it. “She is in here.”

I looked into the inside of the church, and in one corner, amidst a heap of furnishings and old icons, was the icon of the Mother of God, half wrapped in a linen cloth and sacking. I recognised it at once as the icon I was looking for. “Here She is!” I exclaimed in a loud voice. It was then that the other women in the same room woke me up.

The next day, a Wednesday, I went to the Liturgy early in the morning, after which Father Pafnuti conducted a service of prayer at the tomb of the founder saints. I told him about my dream. “In the name of God, forgive me,” he said. “I looked for the icon at first and then forgot all about it. I will go and search for it at once. Now I remember. I’m sure it’s in the Church of St Nicholas the Miracle-Worker.”

I intended to take Communion on the Saturday, and the night before I had another dream. It was as if I were standing alone in the lower church. There were just two monks beside the founders’ tomb, Father Seraphim and Father Nikolai. I was waiting impatiently for something and could not take my eyes off the outer door. Suddenly the door opened and the icon of the Mother of God was carried in by Father Pafnuti and a young monk in a short, grey cassock. “There She is, my dear mother!” I cried, and threw myself on the floor, thinking that the icon would be carried over me and I would be made well. But Father Pufnuti said, “There is nothing ready for you here. We have to hold a short service to bless the holy water before a sick person can be made well.” And at that I awoke.

In the morning I took Communion. I told Father Pafnuti of my dream and, sobbing, entreated him to go and look for the icon. Before the later Liturgy I was in a chapel when I suddenly saw a crowd of people hurrying from the hotel to the church. “What is happening?” I asked. They told me that the missing icon of the Mother of God had been found and that it was being taken to the lower church. I went into the church and saw the icon on the steps in front of the iconostasis.

“Is this the icon you meant?” Father Pafnuti asked me.

“Yes, this is the one,” I replied.

“Then be comforted and pray to the Holy Mother of God,” he said. I asked him to hold a service of prayer to the Mother of God, and he did so, with a blessing of water as well, and lit a lamp in front of the icon.
Hieromonk Alipi was reading a service of prayer at the tomb of the founder saints just then, and I was told that it was he who had painted the icon. I went to him and bowed down to the ground before him. My breath stuck in my throat and tears streamed down my cheeks from the sheer joy of finding at last the icon of the Mother of God who had appeared to me, and I gave thanks to the Lord with all my heart for the unspeakable mercy he had shown to me.

The holy water was poured into a bottle for me, and when I drank it I felt my strength return. I took some oil from the lamp and went to my room. There I spread it on my hands and feet. The pain abated, and for the first time for many years I was able to sleep peacefully. I week later I could walk without a stick.

After giving thanks with all my soul and from the bottom of my heart to the Mother of God for the miracle that She had worked on me in my unworthiness, I returned to St Petersburg. I began to gain in strength all the time without any medicine, and by Easter I had completely recovered. It was then that I decided that I would buy a lamp for the icon. By the grace of God I managed to gather together eight roubles from the little that I had, but a lamp cost ten roubles. Then a friend of mine who had bought a charity lottery ticket promised that if she won she would give me the two roubles I needed, and she did win a gold watch, so that I was able to buy the lamp and send it to the monastery. Many people asked me to give them a photograph of the icon. Now I am in perfect health. I can do washing and scrub floors, and I have even been helping with the haymaking at the Konevits Monastery. I have no pain at all in my legs. Altogether the illness lasted twelve years. At one time I couldn’t even get my arms into the sleeves of my clothes, and sometimes I could only climb steps by crawling on my hands and knees. I shed countless tears at such times and prayed to the Mother of God that I might be cured. Now I am healthy again and have everything that I need. There are even good people around me who have put me in an old people’s home. Glory be to the Queen of Heaven!’

Natalia Andreyevna’s story of the discovery of the icon in the abandoned Church of St Nicholas is thoroughly plausible. It would have been impossible for her to know anything about the contents of the church or about the objects stored there beforehand. The church is kept closed and no people other than the monastery staff are allowed into it. Everything really happened as she had seen in her dream. Following her instructions, Father Pafnuti went into the church, found the icon in a corner and brought it to the lower main church. There he placed it on the right-hand side of the church, on a pillar behind the right-hand choir enclosure, where it has been to this day. And by some miraculous means the person who helped Father Pufnuti carry the icon was indeed dressed in a short, grey cassock.

Natalia Andreyevna released this account of her visions on 7th August 1897, and it was written down in the present form on 26th July 1898.


O Virgin Theotokos, / we rejoice in beholding your holy icon, / for devout prayers offered in front of it were fulfilled on the island of Valaam / and the ascetics’ failing strength was renewed. / Hear our prayers, also, O Most Holy One. / Strengthen us in faith and love, / entreating peace for the world / and great mercy for our souls.


With minds elevated, / we come before your Holy Icon, / O Most Honorable Theotokos! / Your akathistos hymn was sung while it was being painted on the island of Valaam. / You appeared three times to the widow you healed, / and you showed the location of your forgotten icon. / Strengthen us in our afliction. / Increase in our hearts humility, love and silence of prayer. / Be a constant protection of your monastery / and our courage before your Son, / O praised Mother of God and heavenly Queen.


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

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The Holy Transfiguration of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ (the Second “Feast of the Savior” in August)

Commemorated on August 6

Discourse on the Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ of Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica

For an explanation of the present Feast and understanding of its truth, it is necessary for us to turn to the very start of today’s reading from the Gospel: “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother, and led them up onto a high mountain by themselves” (Mt.17:1).

First of all we must ask, from whence does the Evangelist Matthew begin to reckon with six days? From what sort of day is it? What does the preceding turn of speech indicate, where the Savior, in teaching His disciples, said to them: “For the Son of Man shall come with his angels in the glory of His Father,” and further: “Amen I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death, until they have seen the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Mt.16:27-28)? That is to say, it is the Light of His own forthcoming Transfiguration which He terms the Glory of His Father and of His Kingdom.

The Evangelist Luke points this out and reveals this more clearly saying: “Now it came to pass about eight days after these words, that He took Peter and John and James, and went up the mountain to pray. And as He prayed, His countenance was altered, and His raiment became a radiant white” (Luke 9:28-29). But how can the two be reconciled, when one of them speaks definitively about the interval of time as being eight days between the sayings and the manifestation, whereas the other (says): “after six days?”

There were eight on the mountain, but only six were visible. Three, Peter, James and John, had come up with Jesus, and they saw Moses and Elias standing there and conversing with Him, so altogether there were six of them. However, the Father and the Holy Spirit were invisibly with the Lord: the Father, with His Voice testifying that this was His Beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit shining forth with Him in the radiant cloud. Thus, the six are actually eight, and there is no contradiction regarding the eight. Similarly, there is no contradiction with the Evangelists when one says “after six days,” and the other says “eight days after these words.”

But these twofold sayings as it were present us a certain format set in mystery, and together with it that of those actually present upon the Mount. It stands to reason, and everyone rationally studying in accordance with Scripture knows that the Evangelists are in agreement one with another. Luke spoke of eight days without contradicting Matthew, who declared “after six days.” There is not another day added on to represent the day on which these sayings were uttered, nor is the day on which the Lord was transfigured added on (which a rational person might reasonably imagine to be added to the days of Matthew).

The Evangelist Luke does not say “after eight days” (like the Evangelist Matthew says “after six days”), but rather “it came to pass eight days after these words.” But where the Evangelists seem to contradict one another, they actually point out to us something great and mysterious. In actual fact, why did the one say “after six days,” but the other, in ignoring the seventh day, have in mind the eighth day? It is because the great vision of the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is the mystery of the Eighth Day, i.e., of the future age, coming to be revealed after the passing away of the world created in six days.

About the power of the Divine Spirit, through Whom the Kingdom of God is to be revealed, the Lord predicted: “There are some standing here who shall not taste death, until they have seen the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Mt.16:28). Everywhere and in every way the King will be present, and everywhere will be His Kingdom, since the advent of His Kingdom does not signify the passing over from one place to another, but rather the revelation of its power of the Divine Spirit. That is why it is said: “come in power.” And this power is not manifest to simply ordinary people, but to those standing with the Lord, that is to say, those who have affirmed their faith in Him like Peter, James and John, and especially those who are free of our natural abasement. Therefore, and precisely because of this, God manifests Himself upon the Mount, on the one hand coming down from His heights, and on the other, raising us up from the depths of abasement, since the Transcendent One takes on mortal nature. Certainly, such a manifest appearance by far transcends the utmost limits of the mind’s grasp, as effectualized by the power of the Divine Spirit.

Thus, the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is not something that comes to be and then vanishes, nor is it subject to the sensory faculties, although it was contemplated by corporeal eyes for a short while upon an inconsequential mountaintop. But the initiates of the Mystery, (the disciples) of the Lord at this time passed beyond mere flesh into spirit through a transformation of their senses, effectualized within them by the Spirit, and in such a way that they beheld what, and to what extent, the Divine Spirit had wrought blessedness in them to behold the Ineffable Light.

Those not grasping this point have conjectured that the chosen from among the Apostles beheld the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord by a sensual and creaturely faculty, and through this they attempt to reduce to a creaturely level (i.e., as something “created”) not only this Light, the Kingdom and the Glory of God, but also the Power of the Divine Spirit, through Whom it is meet for Divine Mysteries to be revealed. In all likelihood, such persons have not heeded the words of the Apostle Paul: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love Him. But to us God has revealed them through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Cor.2:9-10).

So, with the onset of the Eighth Day, the Lord, taking Peter, James and John, went up on the Mount to pray. He always prayed alone, withdrawing from everyone, even from the Apostles themselves, as for example when with five loaves and two fish He fed the five thousand men, besides women and children (Mt.14:19-23). Or, taking with Him those who excelled others, as at the approach of His Saving Passion, when He said to the other disciples: “Sit here while I go over there and pray” (Mt.26:36). Then He took with Him Peter, James and John. But in our instance right here and now, having taken only these same three, the Lord led them up onto a high mountain by themselves and was transfigured before them, that is to say, before their very eyes.

“What does it mean to say: He was transfigured?” asks the Golden-Mouthed Theologian (Chrysostom). He answers this by saying: “It revealed something of His Divinity to them, as much and insofar as they were able to apprehend it, and it showed the indwelling of God within Him.” The Evangelist Luke says: “And as He prayed, His countenance was altered” (Luke 9:29); and from the Evangelist Matthew we read: “And His face shone as the sun” (Mt.17:2). But the Evangelist said this, not in the context that this Light be thought of as subsistent for the senses (let us put aside the blindness of mind of those who can conceive of nothing higher than what is known through the senses). Rather, it is to show that Christ God, for those living and contemplating by the Spirit, is the same as the sun is for those living in the flesh and contemplating by the senses. Therefore, some other Light for the knowing the Divinity is not necessary for those who are enriched by Divine gifts.

That same Inscrutable Light shone and was mysteriously manifest to the Apostles and the foremost of the Prophets at that moment, when (the Lord) was praying. This shows that what brought forth this blessed sight was prayer, and that the radiance occured and was manifest by uniting the mind with God, and that it is granted to all who, with constant exercise in efforts of virtue and prayer, strive with their mind towards God. True beauty, essentially, can be contemplated only with a purified mind. To gaze upon its luminance assumes a sort of participation in it, as though some bright ray etches itself upon the face.

Even the face of Moses was illumined by his association with God. Do you not know that Moses was transfigured when he went up the mountain, and there beheld the Glory of God? But he (Moses) did not effect this, but rather he underwent a transfiguration. However, our Lord Jesus Christ possessed that Light Himself. In this regard, actually, He did not need prayer for His flesh to radiate with the Divine Light; it was but to show from whence that Light descends upon the saints of God, and how to contemplate it. For it is written that even the saints “will shine forth like the sun” (Mt.13:43), which is to say, entirely permeated by Divine Light as they gaze upon Christ, divinely and inexpressibly shining forth His Radiance, issuing from His Divine Nature. On Mount Tabor it was manifest also in His Flesh, by reason of the Hypostatic Union (i.e., the union of the two perfect natures, divine and human, within the divine Person [Hypostasis] of Christ, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity). The Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon defined this Hypostatic union of Christ’s two natures, divine and human, as “without mingling, without change, without division, without separation.”

We believe that at the Transfiguration He manifested not some other sort of light, but only that which was concealed beneath His fleshly exterior. This Light was the Light of the Divine Nature, and as such, it was Uncreated and Divine. So also, in the teachings of the Fathers, Jesus Christ was transfigured on the Mount, not taking upon Himself something new nor being changed into something new, nor something which formerly He did not possess. Rather, it was to show His disciples that which He already was, opening their eyes and bringing them from blindness to sight. For do you not see that eyes that can perceive natural things would be blind to this Light?

Thus, this Light is not a light of the senses, and those contemplating it do not simply see with sensual eyes, but rather they are changed by the power of the Divine Spirit. They were transformed, and only in this way did they see the transformation taking place amidst the very assumption of our perishability, with the deification through union with the Word of God in place of this.

So also she who miraculously conceived and gave birth recognized that the One born of her is God Incarnate. So it was also for Simeon, who only received this Infant into his arms, and the aged Anna, coming out [from the Jerusalem Temple] for the Meeting, since the Divine Power illumined, as through a glass windowpane, giving light for those having pure eyes of heart.

And why did the Lord, before the beginning of the Transfiguration, choose the foremost of the Apostles and lead them up onto the Mount with Him? Certainly, it was to show them something great and mysterious. What is particularly great or mysterious in showing a sensory light, which not only the foremost, but all the other Apostles already abundantly possessed? Why would they need a transforming of their eyes by the power of the Holy Spirit for a contemplation of this Light, if it were merely sensory and created? How could the Glory and the Kingdom of the Father and the Holy Spirit project forth in some sort of sensory light? Indeed, in what sort of Glory and Kingdom would Christ the Lord come at the end of the ages, when there would not be necessary anything in the air, nor in expanse, nor anything similar, but when, in the words of the Apostle, “God will be all in all” (1 Cor.15: 28)? That is to say, will He alter everything for all? If so, then it follows that light is included.

Hence it is clear that the Light of Tabor was a Divine Light. And the Evangelist John, inspired by Divine Revelation, says clearly that the future eternal and enduring city “has no need of the sun or moon to shine upon it. For the Glory of God lights it up, and the Lamb will be its lamp” (Rev 21:23). Is it not clear, that he points out here that this [Lamb] is Jesus, Who is divinely transfigured now upon Tabor, and the flesh of Whom shines, is the lamp manifesting the Glory of divinity for those ascending the mountain with Him?
John the Theologian also says about the inhabitants of this city: “they will not need light from lamps, nor the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shed light upon them, and night shall be no more” (Rev 22:5). But how, we might ask, is there this other light, in which “there is no change, nor shadow of alteration” (Jas 1:17)? What light is there that is constant and unsetting, unless it be the Light of God? Moreover, could Moses and Elias (and particularly the former, who clearly was present only in spirit, and not in flesh [Elias having ascended bodily to Heaven on the fiery chariot]) be shining with any sort of sensory light, and be seen and known? Especially since it was written of them: “they appeared in glory, and spoke of his death, which he was about to fulfill at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:30-31). And how otherwise could the Apostles recognize those whom they had never seen before, unless through the mysterious power of the Divine Light, opening their mental eyes?

But let us not tire our attention with the furthermost interpretations of the words of the Gospel. We shall believe thus, as those same ones have taught us, who themselves were enlightened by the Lord Himself, insofar as they alone know this well: the Mysteries of God, in the words of a prophet, are known to God alone and His perpetual proximity. Let us, considering the Mystery of the Transfiguration of the Lord in accord with their teaching, strive to be illumined by this Light ourselves and encourage in ourselves love and striving towards the Unfading Glory and Beauty, purifying our spiritual eyes of worldly thoughts and refraining from perishable and quickly passing delights and beauty which darken the garb of the soul and lead to the fire of Gehenna and everlasting darkness. Let us be freed from these by the illumination and knowledge of the incorporeal and ever-existing Light of our Savior transfigured on Tabor, in His Glory, and of His Father from all eternity, and His Life-Creating Spirit, Whom are One Radiance, One Godhead, and Glory, and Kingdom, and Power now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.


You were transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God, / revealing Your glory to Your disciples as far as they could bear it. / Let Your everlasting Light also shine upon us sinners, / through the prayers of the Theotokos. / O Giver of Light, glory to You!


On the Mountain You were Transfigured, O Christ God, / And Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could see it; / So that when they would behold You crucified, / They would understand that Your suffering was voluntary, / And would proclaim to the world, / That You are truly the Radiance of the Father!


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