Thursday, July 31, 2014

St Arsenius the Bishop of Ninotsminda

Commemorated on July 31

Arsenius of Ninotsminda was an ascetic who labored in the 11th century. History tells us that he was a brilliant translator, writer, calligrapher, and theologian, and indeed one of the greatest Church figures of his time.

St. Arsenius was tonsured a monk in Jerusalem, and after some time he returned to Georgia, where he was consecrated bishop of Ninotsminda. But the venerable Arsenius longed to lead a life of solitude, so he approached King Davit Kuropalates for permission to resign from the bishopric and settle at a monastery. The king honored Arsenius’s request, and the pious man set off for the monastery with John Grdzeslidze, a man of letters and another great figure in the Church.

When the news of his decision reached the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos, Sts. John and Ekvtime invited the fathers to Mt. Athos, and the next year Arsenius and John arrived at the Holy Mountain. There they assisted St. Ekvtime in his translations of the Holy Scriptures and many theological books.

St. Arsenius labored fruitfully at the Iveron Monastery for many years and reposed peacefully at an advanced age. He was buried on Mt. Athos at the monastery’s church of St. Simeon the Stylite. St. George of the Holy Mountain later translated his relics to the ossuary of the monastery’s catholicon.


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

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Uncovering of the relics of the Venerable Herman of Solovki

The Uncovering of the Relics of Saint Herman of Solovki took place in the year 1484. St Herman lived as a hermit at the River Vyg, by a chapel. It was here in the year 1429 that St Sabbatius of Valaam monastery came upon him while seeking a solitary place for his ascetic deeds. Herman told Sabbatius about Solovki Island, and both monks, crossed the sea and settled on Solovki. They built themselves a cell beneath the Sekir Heights, where they lived for six years. Upon the repose of Sabbatius (September 27, 1435), St Herman continued his ascetic efforts on the island together with another wilderness-dweller, St Zosimus (April 17). Herman lived on the island for more than 50 years.

Being unlettered, but made wise by Divine Providence and wanting to preserve the memory of St Sabbatius to edify many others, he summoned clergy to write down his memories of Sts Sabbatius and Zosimus, and about the events which occurred during their lifetime. St Herman loved to listen to edifying readings, and in his final instruction to his disciples he bid them gather books at the monastery. For the domestic and other needs of the monastery the monk made dangerous sailings and prolonged journeys to the mainland into his old age. On one of these excursions to Novgorod in 1479 he died at the Antoniev monastery. They brought his body to the Solovki monastery, but because of some ruffians they had to bury him at a chapel in the village of Khavronin on the River Svira. In 1484, when it was decided to move the grave to the place where he had labored, his relics were found incorrupt.


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

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Venerable Constantine and Cosmas the Abbots of Kosinsk, Pskov

Sts Constantine and Cosmas were monastic followers of St Barlaam of Khutyn (November 6) and his successor, St Anthony of Dymsk (January 17). About the year 1220, they left the Khutyn monastery and settled upon a wilderness peninsula, situated 3 versts from the city of Staraya Rus, between the Rivers Polista and Smezhnya. In time they founded a monastery there in the name of St Nicholas, headed by St Constantine until his death (ca. 1240).

St Cosmas continued with the exploits of his mentor. He was buried in the same grave with St Constantine. Their bodies rest beneath the vestibule of the Nikolaev church, built in 1820 over the tomb of the saints.


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

Monday, July 28, 2014

Appearance of the Smolensk “Directress” Icon of the Mother of God brought from Constantinople

Commemorated on July 28

The Smolensk “Hodigitria” Icon of the Theotokos, or “She who leads the way,” was, according to Church Tradition, painted by the holy Evangelist Luke during the earthly life of the Most Holy Theotokos. The holy hierarch Demetrius of Rostov suggests that this icon was painted at the request of Theophilus, the prefect of Antioch. From Antioch the holy image was transferred to Jerusalem. From there the empress Eudokia, the spouse of Arcadius, gave it at Constantinople to Pulcheria, the sister of the emperor, who put the holy icon in the Blachernae church.

In 1046, the Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachos (1042-1054), gave his daughter Anna in marriage to Prince Vsevolod Yaroslavich, the son of Yaroslav the Wise. He blessed her on her way with this icon. After the death of Prince Vsevolod the icon went to his son Vladimir Monomachos, who transferred it at the beginning of the twelfth century into the Smolensk cathedral church in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. From that time, the icon was known as the Smolensk Hodigitria.

In the year 1238, at the bespeaking of the icon, the self-sacrificing Orthodox warrior Mercurius went by night into the camp of Batu and killed many of the enemy, in whose number was their most powerful warrior. Having accepted a martyr’s death in battle, he was included by the Church in the ranks of the Saints (November 24).

In the fourteenth century, Smolensk came into the possession of the Lithuanian princes. The daughter of prince Vitovt, Sophia, was given in marriage to the Moscow Great Prince Basil Dimitrievich (1398-1425). In 1398, she brought the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God with her to Moscow. They set the holy image in the Annunciation cathedral of the Kremlin, on the right side of the Royal Doors.

In 1456, at the request of the inhabitants of Smolensk with Bishop Misael at the head, the icon was solemnly returned to Smolensk in a church procession, and at Moscow there remained two copies. One was put in the Annunciation cathedral, and the other, “a measure for measure,” was put in the Novodevichi monastery, founded in memory of the return of Smolensk to Russia. The monastery was built on Devichi Pole (Virgin’s Field), where “with many tears” the Muscovites handed over the holy icon to Smolensk. In 1602 an exact copy was painted from the wonderworking icon (in 1666 together with the ancient icon they brought a new copy to Moscow for restoration), which they placed in the tower of the Smolensk fortress wall over the Dneprovsk Gates, under a specially constructed cover. Afterwards, in 1727, a wooden church was built there, and in 1802, a stone church.

The new copy took on the power of the old image, and when the Russian armies left Smolensk on August 5, 1812, they took the icon with them for defense from the enemy forces. On the eve of the Battle of Borodino they carried this icon through the camp, to encourage and inspire the soldiers to great deeds. The ancient image of the Smolensk Hodigitria, taken to the Dormition cathedral on the day of the Battle of Borodino went in procession with the Iveron and Vladimir Icons of the Mother of God through the Belo and Kitai quarters and the Kremlin walls, and then they sent it to the sick and wounded at the Lefortovo palace. After leaving Moscow, the icon was taken to Yaroslavl.

Thus were these sister-icons preserved, and the Mother of God defended Russia through Her icons. After the victory over the enemy forces the Hodigitria Icon was returned to Smolensk together with its glorified copy.

The celebration in honor of this wonderworking icon on July 28 was established in the year 1525 in memory of the return of Smolensk to Russia.

There exist many venerated copies of the Smolensk Hodigitria, for which the celebration is set on this day. There is also a day of celebration for the Smolensk Icon (November 5), glorified in the nineteenth century when this image was returned to Smolensk on the orders of the commander-in-chief of the Russian army M. I. Kutuzov. In memory of the expulsion of the enemy from Russia, it was decided to celebrate this day annually at Smolensk.

The holy icon of the Hodigitria Mother of God is one of the chief holy objects of the Russian Church. Believers have received and do receive from it an abundant help of grace. The Mother of God through Her holy icon intercedes for and strengthens us, guiding us on the way to salvation, and we call out to Her, “Thou art the All-Blessed Hodigitria for faithful peoples, Thou art the affirmation, the Praiseworthy of Smolensk and all the Russian land. Rejoice, Hodigitria, salvation of Christians!”


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

Sunday, July 27, 2014

90 Venerable Sisters of Mantinea in Asia Minor

When St Anthusa built a women’s monastery and a church dedicated to St Anna (July 25), ninety nuns gathered around her. The nuns were known for their obedience to their abbess and for their spiritual discipline.

During the iconoclastic controversy, Emperor Constantine Copronymus persecuted monks and nuns, who defended the veneration of icons. He sent soldiers to the monasteries in order to persuade monastics to agree with his heretical views, and to punish those who would not submit to his authority. St Anthusa and her nuns were among those who were interrogated and tortured.


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

Friday, July 25, 2014

Venerable Macarius the Abbot of Zheltovod and Unzha

Commemorated on July 25

Saint Macarius of Zheltovod and Unzha was born in the year 1349 at Nizhni-Novgorod into a pious family. At twelve years of age he secretly left his parents and accepted monastic tonsure at the Nizhni-Novgorod Caves monastery under St Dionysius (June 26). With all the intensity of his youthful soul he gave himself over to the work of salvation. He stood out among the brethren for his extremely strict fasting and precise fulfillment of the monastic rule.

The parents of St Macarius only learned three years later where he had gone. His father went to him and tearfully besought his son merely that he would come forth and show himself. St Macarius spoke with his father through a wall, saying that he would see him in the future life. “Extend your hand, at least,” implored the father. The son fulfilled this small request and the father, having kissed his son’s hand, returned home.

Burdened by fame, the humble Macarius set off for the shores of the River Volga, and here he pursued asceticism near the waters of Yellow Lake. Here by firm determination and patience he overcame the abuse of the Enemy of salvation. Lovers of solitude gathered to St Macarius, and in 1435 he organized a monastery for them in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity.

Here also he began to preach Christianity to the surrounding Cheremis and Chuvash peoples, and he baptized both Mohammedans and pagans in the lake, which received its name from the saint. When the Kazan Tatars destroyed the monastery in 1439, they took St Macarius captive. Out of respect for his piety and charitable love, the Khan released the saint from captivity and freed nearly 400 Christians with him. But in return, St Macarius promised not to settle by Yellow Lake.

St Macarius reverently buried those killed at his monastery, and he went 200 versts to the Galich border. During the time of this resettlement all those on the way were fed in miraculous manner through the prayers of the saint. Having arrived at the city of Unzha, St Macarius set up a cross 15 versts from the city, and built a cell on the shores of Lake Unzha. Here he founded a new monastery. During the fifth year of his life at Lake Unzha, St Macarius took sick and reposed at age 95.

While yet alive, St Macarius was granted a gift: he healed a blind and demon-afflicted girl. After the death of the monk, many received healing from his relics. The monks built a temple over his grave, and established a cenobitic rule at the monastery.

In 1522, Tatars fell upon Unzha and wanted to destroy the silver reliquary in the Makariev monastery, but they fell blind. In a panic, they took to flight. Many of them drowned in the Unzha. In 1532, through the prayers of St Macarius, the city of Soligalich was saved from the Tatars. In gratitude, the inhabitants built a chapel in the cathedral church in honor of the saint. More than 50 people received healing from grievous infirmities through the prayers of St Macarius. This was certified by a commission sent by Patriarch Philaret in 1619.


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

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Synaxis of the Smolensk Saints

Abramius the wonderworker. + August 21, ca. 1224.

Andrew, Prince. October 27(Uncovering of his relics) ca. 1390.

Anthony, Bishop of Vologda. + October 26, 1588 & January 17.

Arcadius, monk of Vyazma, disciple of St Ephraim of Novotorzhok. Ca. 1592. July 11, August 14 (translation of his relics in 1798), December 13.

Arcadius Dorogobuzhsky, disciple of St Gerasimus of Baldino. XVI century.

Constantine, Prince, son of St Theodore of Smolensk March 5 (translation of his relics), June 22, September 19.

David, prince and wonderworker, son of Theodore of Smolensk. March 5 (translation of his relics in 1321), June 22, September 9.

Ephraim of Novotorzhok + 1053. January 28, June 11 (translation of his relics in 1572).

Ephraim of Smolensk, disciple of St Abramius of Smolesk. + August 21, 1238.

Gerasimus of Baldino, + May 1, 1554.

Gleb (David in Baptism), prince and passion-bearer. May 2 (translation of his relics in 1115), July 24 (commemorated with St Boris), September 5 (his martyrdom in 1015). Gleb, prince of Smolensk. July 7 (XIV-XV century).

Ignatius, Bishop of Smolensk, wonderworker. + January 29, 1210.

Juliana, princess of Vyazma. June 2 (uncovering of her relics in 1819), December 21 (her
martyrdom in 1406).

Macarius (Glukharov), Apostle to the Altai + May 15, 1847.

Mercurius, warrior and martyr + November 24, 1239.

Mercurius, Hieromartyr, Bishop of Smolensk. + August 7, 1238.

Michael, Bishop of Smolensk + November 28, 1402.

Michael, Prince, son of St Theodore of Smolensk. September 19, 1290.

Nicholas, Archbishop of Japan, equal of the Apostles (in the world Ivan Dimitrievich
Kasatkin). + February 3, 1912.

Pitirim, Bishop of Tambov. + July 28, 1698.

Prochorus of the Kiev Caves, wonderworker. + February 10, 1107.

Rostislav (Michael in Baptism) Great Prince of Kiev. + 1167. March 14.

Simeon, Prince of Vyazma. + December 21, 1406.

Simeon, Metropolitan of Smolensk + January 4, 1699.

Simeon, disciple of St Sergius of Radonezh. + 1392.

Theodore, Prince and wonderworker + 1299. March 5 (translation of his relics in 1321), June 22, September 19.


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

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Holy Martyrs Trophimus, Theophilus, and Thirteen Martyrs with Them

Commemorated on July 23

The Holy Martyrs Trophimus, Theophilus, and thirteen martyrs with them, suffered during the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Brought to trial, they bravely confessed themselves Christians and refused to offer sacrifice to idols. After fierce tortures, they broke the legs of the holy martyrs and threw them into a fire. Strengthened by the Lord, they came out of the fire completely unharmed, and they glorified Christ all the more. Unable to break the will of the holy confessors, the torturers beheaded them. 


Your holy martyr Trophimus and his companions, O Lord, / through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God. / For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries, / and shattered the powerless boldness of demons. / Through their intercessions, save our souls!


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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Repose of the Venerable Cornelius of Pereyaslavl

Saint Cornelius of Pereyaslavl, in the world Konon, was the son of a Ryazan merchant. In his youth he left his parental home and lived for five years as a novice of the Elder Paul in the Lukianov wilderness near Pereyaslavl. Afterwards the young ascetic transferred to the Pereyaslavl monastery of Sts Boris and Gleb on the Sands [Peskakh]. Konon eagerly went to church and unquestioningly did everything that they commanded him.

The holy novice did not sit down to eat in the trapeza with the brethren, but contented himself with whatever remained, accepting food only three times a week. After five years, he received monastic tonsure with the name Cornelius. From that time no one saw the monk sleeping on a bed. Several of the brethren scoffed at St Cornelius as foolish, but he quietly endured the insults and intensified his efforts. Having asked permission of the igumen to live as a hermit, he secluded himself into his own separately constructed cell and constantly practiced asceticism in fasting and prayer.

Once the brethren found him barely alive, and the cell was locked from within. Three months St Cornelius lay ill, and he could take only water and juice. The monk, having recovered and being persuaded by the igumen, stayed to live with the brethren. St Cornelius was the sacristan in church, he served in the trapeza, and also toiled in the garden. As if to bless the saint’s labors, excellent apples grew in the monastery garden, which he lovingly distributed to visitors.

The body of St Cornelius was withered up from strict fasting, but he did not cease to toil. With his own hands he built a well for the brethren. For thirty years St Cornelius lived in complete silence, being considered by the brethren as deaf and dumb. Before his death on July 22, 1693, St Cornelius made his confession to the monastery priest Father Barlaam, received the Holy Mysteries and took the schema.
He was buried in the chapel. Nine years later, during the construction of a new church, his relics were found incorrupt. In the year 1705, St Demetrius, Metropolitan of Rostov (October 28), saw the relics of St Cornelius, and they were in the new church in a secluded place. The holy bishop composed a Troparion and Kontakion to the saint.


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

Monday, July 21, 2014

Prophet Ezekiel

Commemorated on July 21

The Holy Prophet Ezekiel lived in the sixth century before the birth of Christ. He was born in the city of Sarir, and descended from the tribe of Levi ; he was a priest and the son of the priest Buzi. Ezekiel was led off to Babylon when he was twenty-five years old together with King Jechoniah II and many other Jews during the second invasion of Jerusalem by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnessar .

The Prophet Ezekiel lived in captivity by the River Chebar. When he was thirty years old, he had a vision of the future of the Hebrew nation and of all mankind. The prophet beheld a shining cloud, with fire flashing continually, and in the midst of the fire, gleaming bronze. He also saw four living creatures in the shape of men, but with four faces (Ez. 1:6). Each had the face of a man in front, the face of a lion on the right, the face of an ox on the left, and the face of an eagle at the back (Ez. 1:10). There was a wheel on the earth beside each creature, and the rim of each wheel was full of eyes.

Over the heads of the creatures there seemed to be a firmament, shining like crystal. Above the firmament was the likeness of a throne, like glittering sapphire in appearance. Above this throne was the likeness of a human form, and around Him was a rainbow (Ez. 1:4-28).

According to the explanation of the Fathers of the Church, the human likeness upon the sapphire throne prefigures the Incarnation of the Son of God from the Most Holy Virgin Mary, who is the living Throne of God. The four creatures are symbols of the four Evangelists: a man (St Matthew), a lion (St Mark), an ox (St Luke), and an eagle (St John); the wheel with the many eyes is meant to suggest the sharing of light with all the nations of the earth. During this vision the holy prophet fell down upon the ground out of fear, but the voice of God commanded him to get up. He was told that the Lord was sending him to preach to the nation of Israel. This was the begining of Ezekiel’s prophetic service.

The Prophet Ezekiel announces to the people of Israel, held captive in Baylon, the tribulations it would face for not remaining faithful to God. The prophet also proclaimed a better time for his fellow-countrymen, and he predicted their return from Babylon, and the restoration of the Jerusalem Temple.

There are two significant elements in the vision of the prophet: the vision of the temple of the Lord, full of glory (Ez. 44:1-10); and the bones in the valley, to which the Spirit of God gave new life (Ez. 37:1-14). The vision of the temple was a mysterious prefiguring of the race of man freed from the working of the Enemy and the building up of the Church of Christ through the redemptive act of the Son of God, incarnate of the Most Holy Theotokos. Ezekiel’s description of the shut gate of the sanctuary, through which the Lord God would enter (Ez. 44: 2), is a prophecy of the Virgin giving birth to Christ, yet remaining a virgin. The vision of the dry bones prefigured the universal resurrection of the dead, and the new eternal life bestowed by the Lord Jesus Christ.

The holy Prophet Ezekiel received from the Lord the gift of wonderworking. He, like the Prophet Moses, divided the waters of the river Chebar, and the Hebrews crossed to the opposite shore, escaping the pursuing Chaldeans. During a time of famine the prophet asked God for an increase of food for the hungry.

Ezekiel was condemned to execution because he denounced a certain Hebrew prince for idolatry. Bound to wild horses, he was torn to pieces. Pious Hebrews gathered up the torn body of the prophet and buried it upon Maur Field, in the tomb of Sim and Arthaxad, forefathers of Abraham, not far from Baghdad. The prophecy of Ezekiel is found in the book named for him, and is included in the Old Testament.

St Demetrius of Rostov (October 28 and September 21) explains to believers the following concepts in the book of the Prophet Ezekiel: if a righteous man turns from righteousness to sin, he shall die for his sin, and his righteouness will not be remembered. If a sinner repents, and keeps God’s commandments, he will not die. His former sins will not be held against him, beause now he follows the path of righteousness (Ez. 3:20; 18:21-24).


The memory of Your prophet Ezekiel, / We celebrate today, O Lord. / By his prayers, we beseech You, / O Christ God, save our souls!


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

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Righteous Martyr Maria (Skobtsova)

Commemorated on July 20

Elizaveta Pilenko, the future Mother Maria, was born in 1891 in Riga, Latvia, then part of the Russian Empire, and grew up in the south of Russia on the shore of the Black Sea. Her father was mayor of the town of Anapa, while on her mother's side, she was descended from the last governor of the Bastille, the Parisian prison destroyed during the French Revolution.

Her parents were devout Orthodox Christians whose faith helped shape their daughter's values, sensitivities and goals. As a child she once emptied her piggy bank in order to contribute to the painting of an icon that would be part of a new church in Anapa. At seven she asked her mother if she was old enough to become a nun, while a year later she sought permission to become a pilgrim who spends her life walking from shrine to shrine.

At the age of 14, her father died, an event that seemed to her meaningless and unjust and led her to embrace atheism. "If there is no justice," she said, "there is no God." She decided God's nonexistence was well known to adults but kept secret from children. For her, childhood was over. When her widowed mother moved the family to St. Petersburg in 1906, she found herself in the country's political and cultural center — also a hotbed of radical ideas and groups — and became part of radical literary circles that gathered around such symbolist poets as Alexander Blok, whom she first met at age 15. Like many of her contemporaries, she was drawn to the left, but was often disappointed at the radicals she encountered. Though regarding themselves as revolutionaries, they seemed to do nothing but talk. "My spirit longed to engage in heroic feats, even to perish, to combat the injustice of the world," she recalled. Yet no one she knew was actually laying down his or her life for others. Should her friends hear of someone dying for the Revolution, she noted, "they will value it, approve or not approve, show understanding on a very high level, and discuss the night away till the sun rises and it's time for fried eggs. But they will not understand at all that to die for the Revolution means to feel a rope around one's neck."

In 1910, she married Dimitri Kuzmin-Karaviev, a Bolshevik and part of a community of poets, artists and writers, but she later commented that it was a marriage born "more of pity than of love." In addition to politics and poetry, she and her friends also talked theology, but just as their political ideas had no connection at all to the lives of ordinary people, their theology floated far above the actual Church. There was much they might have learned, she reflected later in life, from "any old beggar woman hard at her Sunday prostrations in church." For many intellectuals, the Church was an idea or a set of abstract values, not a community in which one actually lives.

Though still regarding herself an atheist, gradually her earlier attraction to Christ revived and deepened, not yet Christ as God incarnate but Christ as heroic man. In time, she found herself drawn toward the religious faith she had abandoned after her father's death. She prayed and read the Gospel and the lives of saints and concluded that the real need of the people was not for revolutionary theories but for Christ. She wanted "to proclaim the simple word of God," she told Blok in a letter written in 1916. Desiring to study theology, she applied for admission to St. Petersburg's Theological Academy of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, in those days an entirely male school whose students were preparing for ordination. As surprising as her wanting to study there was the rector's decision that she could be admitted.

By 1913, her marriage collapsed. Later that year, her first child, Gaiana, was born. Just as World War I was beginning, she returned with her daughter to southern Russia, where her religious life grew more intense. For a time she secretly wore lead weights sewn into a hidden belt as a way of reminding herself both "that Christ exists" and also to be more aware that minute-by-minute many people were suffering and dying in the war. She realized, however, that the primary Christian asceticism was not self-mortification, but caring response to the needs of other people.

In October 1917, she was present in St. Petersburg when Russia's Provisional Government was overthrown by the Bolsheviks. Taking part in the All-Russian Soviet Congress, she heard Lenin's lieutenant, Leon Trotsky, dismiss people from her party with the words, "Your role is played out. Go where you belong, into history's garbage can!" She grew to see how hideously different actual revolution was from the dreams of revolution that had once filled the imagination of so many Russians! In February 1918, she was elected deputy mayor of Anapa. Eventually, she was arrested, jailed, and put on trial for collaboration with the enemy. In court, she rose and spoke in her own defense: "My loyalty was not to any imagined government as such, but to those whose need of justice was greatest, the people. Red or White, my position is the same — I will act for justice and for the relief of suffering. I will try to love my neighbor." It was thanks to Daniel Skobtsov, a former schoolmaster who was now her judge, that she avoided execution. After the trial, she sought him out to thank him. Eventually they married.

As the course of the civil war was turning in favor of the Bolsheviks, the Skobtsovs fled to Georgia, where she gave birth to a son, Yura, in 1920. A year later, having relocated to Yugoslavia, she gave birth to Anastasia, Their long journey ended with their arrival in Paris in 1923, where to supplement their income she made dolls and painted silk scarves, often working ten or twelve hours a day.

A friend introduced her to the Russian Student Christian Movement, an Orthodox association founded in 1923. She began attending lectures and other activities and felt herself coming back to life spiritually and intellectually. In 1926, she grieved the death of her daughter Anastasia. She emerged from her mourning determined to seek a "new road before me and a new meaning in life, to be a mother for all, for all who need maternal care, assistance, or protection." She devoted herself to social work and theological writing. In 1927 two volumes, Harvest of the Spirit, were published, in which she retold the lives of many saints.

In 1930, she was appointed traveling secretary of the Russian Student Christian Movement, work which put her into daily contact with impoverished Russian refugees throughout France and neighboring countries. She often lectured, but she was quick to listen to others as they related some terrible grief that had burdened them for years. She took literally Christ's words, that He was always present in the least person. "Man ought to treat the body of his fellow human being with more care than he treats his own," she wrote. "Christian love teaches us to give our fellows material as well as spiritual gifts. We should give them our last shirt and our last piece of bread. Personal alms-giving and the most wide-ranging social work are both equally justified and needed."

In time, she began to envision a new type on community, "half monastic and half fraternal," that would connect spiritual life with service to those in need, in the process showing "that a free Church can perform miracles." Father Sergei Bulgakov, her confessor, was a source of support and encouragement, as was her bishop, Metropolitan Evlogy [Georgievsky], who was responsible from 1921 to 1946 for the many thousands of Russian expatriates scattered across Europe. Recognizing her devotion to social work, and knowing of her waning marriage, he suggested to her the possibility of becoming a nun. In time, Daniel came to accept the idea after meeting with Metropolitan Evlogy. In the spring of 1932, in the chapel at Paris' St. Sergius Theological Institute, she was professed as a nun with the name Maria. She made her monastic profession, Metropolitan Evlogy recognized, "in order to give herself unreservedly to social service." Mother Maria called it simply "monasticism in the world." Intent "to share the life of paupers and tramps," she began to look for a house of hospitality and found it at 9 villa de Saxe in Paris, which she leased with financial assistance from Metropolitan Evlogy. She began receiving guests, mainly young Russian women without jobs, giving up her own room to house them while herself sleeping on a narrow iron bedstead in the basement. A room upstairs became a chapel — she painted the iconostasis icons — while the dining room doubled as a hall for lectures and dialogues.

In need of larger facilities, a new location was found two years later in an area of Paris where many impoverished Russian refugees had settled. While at the former address she could feed only 25, here she could feed a hundred. Here her guests could regain their breath "until the time comes to stand on their two feet again." Her credo was: "Each person is the very icon of God incarnate in the world." With this recognition came the need "to accept this awesome revelation of God unconditionally, to venerate the image of God" in her brothers and sisters. As her ministry evolved, she rented other buildings, one for families in need, and another for single men. A rural property became a sanatorium. By 1937, she housed several dozen women, serving up to 120 dinners every day. Every morning, she would beg for food or buy cheaply whatever was not donated.

Despite a seemingly endless array of challenges, Mother Maria was sustained chiefly by those she served — themselves beaten down, people in despair, cripples, alcoholics, the sick, survivors of many tragedies. But not all responded to trust with trust. Theft was not uncommon. On one occasion a guest stole 25 francs. Everyone guessed who the culprit was, a drug addict, but Mother Maria refused to accuse her. Instead she announced at the dinner table that the money had not been stolen, only misplaced, and she had found it. "You see how dangerous it is to make accusations," she commented. At once the girl who stole the money burst into tears.

Mother Maria and her collaborators would not simply open the door when those in need knocked, but would actively seek out the homeless. One place to find them was an all-night café at Les Halles where those with nowhere else to go could sit for the price of a glass of wine. Children also were cared for, and a part-time school was opened at several locations. Turning her attention toward Russian refugees who had been classified insane, Mother Maria began a series of visits to mental hospitals. In each hospital five to ten percent of the Russian patients turned out to be sane and, thanks to her intervention, were released. Language barriers and cultural misunderstandings had kept them in the asylum. In time, she and her associates helped establish clinics for TB sufferers and a variety of other ministries. Another landmark was the foundation in September 1935 of a group named "Orthodox Action" — a name proposed by her friend, philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev. Cofounders included Father Sergei Bulgakov, historian George Fedotov, the scholar Constantine Mochulsky, the publisher Ilya Fondaminsky, and her long-time coworker Fedor Pianov, with Metropolitan Evgoly serving as honorary president. With financial support from supporters across Europe and the United States, a wider range of projects and centers were made possible: hostels, rest homes, schools, camps, hospital work, help to the unemployed, assistance to the elderly, publication of books and pamphlets, etc. In all of these growing ministries, Mother Maria's driving concern was that it should never lose its personal or communal character.

In October 1939, Father Dimitri Klepinin, then 35 years old, began to assist Mother Maria as she began the last phase of her life — a series of responses to World War II and Germany's occupation of France. While Mother Maria could have fled Paris when the Germans were advancing, or even sought refuge in America, she would not budge. "If the Germans take Paris, I shall stay here with my old women. Where else could I send them?" She had no illusions about the Nazi threat, which to her represented a "new paganism" bringing in its wake disasters, upheavals, persecutions and wars. With defeat came greater poverty and hunger, and the local authorities in Paris declared her house an official food distribution point, where volunteers sold at cost price whatever food Mother Maria had bought in that morning.

Russian refugees were among the particular targets of the occupiers. In June 1941, a thousand were arrested, including several close friends and collaborators of Mother Maria and Father Dimitri, who launched an aid project for prisoners and their dependents. Early in 1942, their registration now underway, Jews began to knock at Mother Maria's door, asking Father Dimitri if he would issue baptismal certificates to them. The answer was always yes. The names of those "baptized" were also duly recorded in his parish register in case there was any cross-checking by the police or Gestapo, as indeed did happen. Father Dimitri was convinced that in such a situation Christ would do the same. When the Nazis issued special identity cards for those of Russian origin living in France, with Jews being specially identified, Mother Maria and Father Dimitri refused to comply, though they were warned that those who failed to register would be regarded as citizens of the USSR — enemy aliens — and be punished accordingly.

With the subsequent mass arrest of Jews — 12,884, of whom 6,900 (two-thirds of them children) were brought to the Velodrome d'Hiver sports stadium and held for five days before being sent to Auschwitz — Mother Maria entered the stadium and for three days offered comfort to the children and their parents, distributing what food she could bring in. She even managed to rescue a number of children by enlisting the aid of garbage collectors and smuggling them out in trash bins. Meanwhile, her house house was bursting with people, many of them Jews. "It is amazing," Mother Maria remarked, "that the Germans haven't pounced on us yet." Father Dimitri, Mother Maria and their coworkers set up routes of escape to the unoccupied south. It was complex and dangerous work. Forged documents had to be obtained. A local resistance group helped secure provisions for those Mother Maria's community was struggling to feed.

On February 8, 1943, while Mother Maria was traveling, Nazi security police entered the house and found a letter in her son Yura's pocket in which Father Dimitri was asked to provide a Jew with a false baptismal document. Yura, now actively a part of his mother's work, was taken to the office of Orthodox Action, soon after followed by his distraught grandmother, Sophia Pilenko. The interrogator ordered her to bring Father Dimitri. Once the priest was there, said the interrogator, they would let Yura go. His grandmother Sophia was allowed to embrace Yura and give him a blessing. It was last time she saw him in this world.

The following morning, after celebrating the Divine Liturgy, Father Dimitri set off for the Gestapo office, where he was interrogated for four hours, making no attempt to hide his beliefs. The next day, February 10, Mother Maria was arrested and her quarters were searched. Several others were called for questioning and then held by the Gestapo. She was confined with 34 other woman at the Gestapo headquarters in Paris. Her son Yura, Father Dimitri and their coworker of many years, Feodor Pianov, were held in the same building. Pianov later recalled witnessing Father Dimitri being prod and beaten by an SS officer while Yura stood by, weeping. Father Dimitri "began to console him, saying the Christ withstood greater mockery than this."

In April, the prisoners were transferred to Compiegne, where Mother Maria was blessed with a final meeting with Yura, who said his mother "was in a remarkable state of mind and told me ... that I must trust in her ability to bear things and in general not to worry about her. Every day [Father Dimitri and I] remember her at the proskomidia ... We celebrate the Eucharist and receive Communion each day." Hours after their meeting,Mother Maria was transported to Germany.

On December 16, Yura and Father Dimitri were deported to Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany, followed several weeks later by Pianov. In January 1944, Father Dimitri and Yura were sent to another camp, Dora. Within ten days of arrival, Yura contracted furunculosis. On February 6, "dispatched for treatment" — a euphemism for "sentenced to death." Four days later Father Dimitri, lying on a dirt floor, died of pneumonia. His body was disposed of in the Buchenwald crematorium.

Meanwhile, Mother Maria — now "Prisoner 19,263" — was sent in a sealed cattle truck to the Ravensbruck camp in Germany, where she endured for two years, an achievement in part explained by her long experience of ascetic life. She was assigned to Block 27 and befriended the many Russian prisoners who were with her. Unable to correspond with friends, little testimony in her own words has come down to us, but prisoners who survived the war remembered her. One of them, Solange Perichon, recalls: "She was never downcast, never. She never complained.... She was full of good cheer, really good cheer. We had roll calls which lasted a great deal of time. We were woken at three in the morning and we had to stand out in the open in the middle of winter until the barracks [population] was counted. She took all this calmly and she would say, 'Well that's that. Yet another day completed. And tomorrow it will be the same all over again.' ... She allowed nothing of secondary importance to impede her contact with people."

Anticipating that her own exit point from the camp might be via the crematoria, Mother Maria asked a fellow prisoner whom she hoped would survive to memorize a message to be given at last to Father Sergei Bulgakov, Metropolitan Evlogy and her mother: "My state at present is such that I completely accept suffering in the knowledge that this is how things ought to be for me, and if I am to die, I see this as a blessing from on high." Her work in the camp varied. There was a period when she was part of a team of women dragging a heavy iron roller about the camp's pathways for 12 hours a day. In another period she worked in a knitwear workshop. Her legs began to give way. As her health declined, friends no longer allowed her to give away portions of her own food, as she had done in the past to help keep others alive.

With the Red Army approaching from the East, the concentration camp administrators further reduced food rations while greatly increasing the population of each block from 800 to 2,500. In serious decline, Mother Maria accepted a pink card freely issued to any prisoner who wished to be excused from labor because of age or ill health. In January 1945, those who had received such cards were transferred to what was called the Jugendlager — the "youth camp" — where the authorities said each person would have her own bed and abundant food. Mother Maria's transfer was on January 31. Here the food ration was further reduced and the hours spent standing for roll calls increased. Though it was mid-winter, blankets, coats and jackets were confiscated, and then even shoes and stockings. The death rate was at least fifty per day. Next all medical supplies were withdrawn. Those who still persisted in surviving now faced death by shootings and gas, the latter made possible by the construction of a gas chamber in March 1945, in which 150 were executed every day. Amazingly, Mother Maria survived five weeks in the "youth camp" before she was returned to the main camp on March 3. Though emaciated and infested with lice, with her eyes festering, she began to think she might actually live to return to Paris, or even go back to Russia.

Such was not to be the case. On March 30, 1945 — Great, Holy and Good Friday that year — Mother Maria was selected for the gas chambers, in which she perished the following day, on Great and Holy Saturday. Accounts are at odds about what happened. According to one, she was one of the many selected for death that day. According to another, she took the place of another prisoner, a Jew, who had been chosen. Although perishing in the gas chamber, she did not perish in the Church's memory. Survivors of the war who had known her would again and again draw attention to the ideas, insights and activities of the unusual nun who had spent so many years coming to the aid of people in desperate straights. Soon after the end of World War II, essays and books about her began to appear in France and Russia. A Russian film, "Mother Maria," was made in 1982. There have been two biographies in English and, little by little, the translation and publication in English of her most notable essays.

On January 18, 2004, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople recognized Mother Maria Skobtsova as a saint, along with her son Yuri; the priest who worked closely with her, Fr. Dimitri Klépinin; and her close friend and collaborator Ilya Fondaminsky. Their glorification took place in Paris' Cathedral of Saint Alexander Nevsky.


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

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Macrina the Righteous, sister of St. Basil

July 19

Saint Macrina, the elder sister of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, was sought after by many as a bride because of her beauty, wisdom, and illustrious birth, and in tender youth was espoused by her parents to a bridegroom of fitting nobility. When her betrothed died, Macrina refused any other suitors, and devoted herself to a life of virginity, asceticism, and prayer. When her brother Basil returned from a brilliant career in the best schools of Constantinople and Athens, puffed up with not a little youthful pride-for knowledge puffeth up-it was the ardent admonitions and holy example of his blessed sister that persuaded him to turn from seeking worldly glory to the service of God. Saint Macrina founded a convent, where she ended her earthly life in the year 379, and was buried by her brother Gregory, who wrote a moving account of her last days and his grief at seeing such a light pass out of the world.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
The image of God, was faithfully preserved in you, O Mother. For you took up the Cross and followed Christ. By Your actions you taught us to look beyond the flesh for it passes, rather to be concerned about the soul which is immortal. Wherefore, O Holy Macrina, your soul rejoices with the angels.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Since the light of righteousness shone brightly in thee, thou wast an example of the life of piety for all, teaching the virtues to them that cry: Rejoice, Macrina, thou boast of virginity.



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

Friday, July 18, 2014

Grand Duchess Elizabeth

Commemorated on July 18

Saint Elizabeth was the older sister of Tsarina Alexandra, and was married to the Grand Duke Sergius, the governor of Moscow. She converted to Orthodoxy from Protestantism of her own free will, and organized women from all levels of society to help the soldiers at the front and in the hospitals.

Grand Duke Sergius was killed by an assassin’s bomb on February 4, 1905, just as St Elizabeth was leaving for her workshops. Remarkably, she visited her husband’s killer in prison and urged him to repent.

After this, she began to withdraw from her former social life. She devoted herself to the Convent of Sts Martha and Mary, a community of nuns which focused on worshiping God and also helping the poor. She moved out of the palace into a building she purchased on Ordinka. Women from the nobility, and also from the common people, were attracted to the convent.

St Elizabeth nursed sick and wounded soldiers in the hospitals and on the battle front. On Pascha of 1918, the Communists ordered her to leave Moscow, and join the royal family near Ekaterinburg. She left with a novice, Sister Barbara, and an escort of Latvian guards.

After arriving in Ekaterinburg, St Elizabeth was denied access to the Tsar’s family. She was placed in a convent, where she was warmly received by the sisters.

At the end of May St Elizabeth was moved to nearby Alopaevsk with the Grand Dukes Sergius, John, and Constantine, and the young Count Vladimir Paley. They were all housed in a schoolhouse on the edge of town. St Elizabeth was under guard, but was permitted to go to church and work in the garden.

On the night of July 5, they were all taken to a place twelve miles from Alopaevsk, and executed. The Grand Duke Sergius was shot, but the others were thrown down a mineshaft, then grenades were tossed after them. St Elizabeth lived for several hours, and could be heard singing hymns.

The bodies of St Elizabeth and St Barbara were taken to Jerusalem in 1920, and buried in the church of St Mary Magdalene.


Emulating the Lord’s self-abasement on the earth, / You gave up royal mansions to serve the poor and disdained, / Overflowing with compassion for the suffering. / And taking up a martyr’s cross, / In your meekness / You perfected the Saviour’s image within yourself, / Therefore, with Barbara, entreat Him to save us all, O wise Elizabeth.


In the midst of worldliness, / thy mournful heart dwelt in Heaven; / in barbaric godlessness, / Your valiant soul was not troubled; / You longed to meet your Bridegroom as a confessor, / and He found you worthy of your martyric purpose. / O Elizabeth, with Barbara, / Your brave companion, / Pray to your Bridegroom for us.


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

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Passion-bearer Tsarina Alexandra

Commemorated on July 17

Saint Alexandra was born in 1872, and was raised as a Protestant. When Princess Alice of Hesse married the future Tsar Nicholas, she converted to Orthodoxy and received the name Alexandra.

She was shot by Bolshevik executioners on July 4, 1918, along with her husband and children.


Most noble and sublime was your life and death, O Sovereigns; / Wise Nicholas and blest Alexandra, we praise you, / Acclaiming your piety, meekness, faith, and humility, / Whereby you attained to crowns of glory in Christ our God, / With your five renowned and godly children of blessed fame. / O passion-bearers decked in purple, intercede for us.

Royalty and martyrdom were joined together, O blessed ones, / In your death for righteousness and right belief, O wise Sovereigns, / Nicholas and Alexandra, with your five children. / Hence, Christ our God counted you worthy of thrones in Heaven; / And with twofold crowns of glory, / You reign forever, adorned with grace divine.


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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Martyr Antiochus the Physician of Sebaste

Commemorated on July 16

The Holy Martyr Antiochus, a native of Cappadocian Sebastea, was the brother of the holy Martyr Platon (November 18), and he was a physician. The pagans learned that he was a Christian, and they brought him to trial and subjected him to fierce tortures. Thrown into boiling water, the saint remained unharmed. He was then given over to be eaten by wild beasts, but they did not harm him. Instead, the beasts lay peacefully at his feet.

Through the prayers of the martyr many miracles were worked and the idols crumbled into dust. The pagans beheaded St Antiochus. Seeing the guiltless suffering of the saint, Cyriacus, a participant in the execution, was converted to Christ. He confessed his faith in front of everyone and was also beheaded. They buried the martyrs side by side.


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

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Holy Martyrs Cyricus and His Mother Julitta

July 15

Saint Julitta was from the city of Iconium. Fearing the persecution of Diocletian, she took her son Cyricus, who was three years old, and departed for Seleucia; but finding the same evil there, she went over to Tarsus in Cilicia, where the ruler arrested her. He took her son from her and tried with flatteries to draw the youth to himself. But the little one, in his childish voice, called on the Name of Christ and kicked the ruler in the belly so hard, that the tyrant became enraged and cast him down the steps of the tribunal. In this manner, the child's head was crushed, and he gave up the spirit. As for his blessed mother, she first endured many torments, and finally was beheaded in the year 296.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Blessed Julitta, Christ God's rational ewe-lamb, with holy Cyricus, her three-year-old offspring, stood at the judgment seat and with authority and great boldness they proclaimed the true Faith of the Christians. In no wise were they afraid of the threats of the tyrants; and now in Heaven, wearing precious crowns, they both rejoice as they stand before Christ our God.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
As the Martyr of Christ God, the chaste Julitta, in her arms bare Cyricus, she cried out in the stadium with manful courage and boundless joy: Thou art the strength of the Martyrs, O Christ my God.



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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Venerable Onesimus of Magnesia

Saint Onesimus the Wonderworker was born in Caesarea in Palestine at the beginning of the fourth century, and entered a monastery in Ephesus.

Later, he founded a monastery at Magnesia and remained there for the rest of his life. He performed many miracles.


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

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Icon of the Mother of God “of the Three Hands” on Mt Athos

Commemorated on July 12

The Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Three Hands”: The wonderworking icon, before which St John of Damascus (December 4) received healing of his amputated hand, was given by him to the Lavra of St Sava the Sanctified. In the thirteenth century the icon was in Serbia, and afterwards it was miraculously transported to Athos to the Hilandar monastery. A more detailed account about the icon is located under June 28. 


From Palestine, the godly-minded Sava / brought us your venerable icon, O holy Bride of God, / which is known as the icon “Of the Three Hands”; / and now, since the monks of Hilandar possess it as their boast, / they send up hymns of praise and thanksgiving, / crying out in exultation: / Rejoice, O full of grace!


Podoben: “O victorious Leader...” / Come, let us revere the famed icon of the Queen of All, / known as the icon “Of the Three Hands” because of the marvel which it wrought; / and with fervent faith and longing let us cry out, / “O pure maiden, preserve your monastery and your flock from all dangers, / tribulations and adversities, for we cry to you: / Rejoice, O help and defense of all!”


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

Friday, July 11, 2014

Icon of the Mother of God of Rzhevsk

Commemorated on July 11

The Rzhevsk (or Okovetsk) Icon of the Mother of God is from the Rzhevets Monastery in Poltava. On May 26, 1539, on the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost), in Tver diocese, in Vyryshensk town situated in a virgin forest on the bank of the rivulet Vyryshna in the Okovetsk district, not far from the city of Rzhev, at a crossroads for people from four surrounding villages, the monk Stephen made a discovery: fastened to a pine tree was a large iron cross and on another tree an old painted icon depicting the Mother of God with Child, and also St. Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra. With the discovery of the holy cross and the icon there shone an extraordinary light and healings occurred. From the Day of the Holy Spirit to the start of the Apostles’ Fast, 27 healings occurred.

The monk Stephen, and right after him the Rzhevsk priest Gregory Onisiphorov, journeyed to Moscow with reports of the appearance of the holy icon and cross and the healing that occurred. The then head of the Russian Church, Metropolitan Joasaph (1539-1541) of Moscow, gave thanks to the Lord, and after verifying the miracles of that place, gave blessing to erect there two churches: one dedicated to the Procession of the Venerable Wood of the Cross of the Lord, and the other in honor of the Hodigitria Mother of God, having in it a chapel named for St Nicholas the Wonderworker. At the consecration of the churches a priest and deacon were sent from Moscow, together with church utensils, icons, vestments, books and bells.

In January 1541 the Rzhevsk icon was solemnly transferred to Moscow for the consecration of a church in honor of the Rzhevsk Icon of the Mother of God. After the consecration of the temple, the icon and cross were transferred to the Dormition cathedral, where they remained until July 11. On this day the Rzhevsk icon and cross were returned to the place of their miraculous appearance. The metropolitan together with all the assembled clergy of the capital, and with the young Tsar Ivan Vasilievich, and all the people, accompanied the icon from the Dormition cathedral to the church of the Rzhevsk Icon of the Mother of God, where a copy of this venerable icon was placed. In memory of this celebration the Feast of the Rzhevsk Icon of the Mother of God was established on July 11.


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

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Deposition of the Precious Robe of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Moscow

July 10

After the Crucifixion of our Lord, His most precious robe was obtained by lot by a certain Elioz, a Georgian soldier who took part in the execution. He in turn brought it to Georgia where it remained until that land was overrun by the Persians. Shah Abbas, seeking to establish good relations with Tsar Michael Feodorovich, sent the Robe to Moscow as a gift for the Tsar and Patriarch Philaret. This took place in March of 1625, and was appointed to be celebrated on this day in July.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
On this day let us the faithful run to the divine and healing robe of our Saviour and God, Who was pleased to wear our flesh and pour out His holy Blood on the Cross, whereby He hath redeemed us from slavery to the enemy. Wherefore, we thankfully cry to Him: By Thy precious robe save and defend Orthodox Christians, and bishops, and cities, and all men everywhere, and save our souls, for Thou art the Friend of man.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Thou hast bestowed upon all men, O Master, Thy precious robe as a divine treasure, as a garment of incorruption, healing, and salvation, for thereby wast Thou pleased to clothe the holy and life-giving flesh of Thine Incarnation. Receiving this relic with faith, we joyfully celebrate this glorious occasion, and praising Thee with fear and love as our Benefactor, we cry to Thee, O Christ: In Thy great mercy, keep Orthodox Christians and their pastors and all Thy people in peace.


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

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Holy Hieromartyr Pancratius, Bishop of Tauromenium in Sicily

July 9

This Saint, who was a contemporary of the Apostles, had Antioch as his homeland, where he was guided to the Faith of Christ by Peter, the Chief of the Apostles. Later, he came to Sicily, where he brought many to the Faith, and was finally put to death by the pagans.

Apolytikion 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 Pancratius. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
He that breathed with tongues of fire upon the holy Apostles gave thee, O Pancratius, the selfsame mystical graces; as the heir and true disciple of Simon Peter, thou didst shine upon the West with the saving Gospel and with blood didst seal thy preaching both as a hierarch and faithful Martyr of Christ.



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

Monday, July 07, 2014

Martyr Evangelicus the Bishop of Tomis, Constanta in Romania

Saint Evangelicus, a follower of the holy Apostle Andrew (November 30), is the first known bishop of the diocese of Tomis (Constantsa) in Dacia Pontica (Lesser Scythia, or Dobrogea). He was active around the mouths of the Danube toward the end of the third century.

Bishop Evangelicus converted many pagans of Dacia Pontica to Christianity. He is mentioned in the account of the martyrdom of Sts Epictetus and Astion (July 8), where he is described as the founder of churches in the province. The parents of these holy martyrs were baptized by St Evangelicus after being converted by the priest Bonosus.

It is believed that St Evangelicus suffered martyrdom during the persecution of Diocletian (284-305).


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

Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Holy Martyrs Marinus, Martha, Audifax, Habakkuk, Cyrenus, Valentinus the Presbyter, Asterius, and many others with them at Rome

The Holy Martyrs Marinus, Martha, Audifax, Habakkuk, Cyrenus, Valentinus the Presbyter, Asterius, and many others with them at Rome.

During the reign of the emperor Claudius II (268-270), St Marinus together with his wife Martha and their sons Audifax and Habakkuk journeyed from Persia to Rome, to pray at the graves of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. During this time fierce persecutions and executions befell the Roman Church. St Marinus and his wife and sons helped Christians locked up in the prisons, and also to request the bodies of executed martyrs. At one of these jails they met a prisoner named Cyrenus and they helped him, since he had endured many torments for faith in Christ.

The persecution spread, and even more Christians were arrested. During this time 260 Christians, among whom was the tribune Vlastus, had been sent under the court sentence to dig ground along the Salerian Way, and were executed by archers. When they learned about this vicious murder, Marinus, his family, and the presbyter John went by night and took the bodies of the martyrs to be buried in the catacombs. They returned later to the prison where St Cyrenus was incarcerated, but did not find him. He had been executed the day before and his body was thrown into the Tiber River. Doing their holy duty, Sts Marinus and Martha and their sons took the body of the holy martyr from the river and committed it to the earth. The holy workers were among Christians, who continued secretly to perform the divine services under the leadership of the holy Bishop Callistus, and hid them from their pursuers.

In consummation of their great charitable deeds the holy family was deemed worthy to glorify the Lord by martyrdom. The pagans beheaded the courageous confessor Valentinus the Presbyter, and the imperial gardener Asterius who had been converted by him, and the holy ascetics from Persia were arrested and given over to torture. By order of the emperor, Sts Marinus, Audifax and Habakkuk were beheaded in the year 269, and St Martha was drowned in a river.

The relics of the holy saints are in Rome at the Church of St John the Hut-Dweller, and the relics of St Valentinus are in the Church of the holy Martyr Paraskeva.


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

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Icon of the Mother of God “Economissa”

Commemorated on July 5

The Economissa (or Stewardess) Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos depicts the Mother of God seated on a throne, with Her Son on her left knee. St Athanasius of Mt Athos (July 5) stands on her right, holding a model of the Great Lavra. On her left is St Michael of Synnada (May 23). Two angels hold a crown above her head.

The Mother of God has been considered the Stewardess of the Holy Mountain ever since the tenth century when the Great Lavra was being built. St Athanasius of Mt Athos was abandoned by his monks because there was a shortage of food and money. He also left the half-built Lavra, and began walking toward Karyes, intending to ask for advice about whether or not to beg the emperor for the funds needed to complete the building. After about two hours, he saw a beautiful woman standing before him wearing a long blue veil.

“I know your sorrow,” She said, “and I would like to help. Where are you going?”

St Athanasius explained everything that had happened, and She asked, “Have you deserted your monastery for a morsel of bread? Go back! You will have everything you need in abundance, if you do not abandon your monastery.”

“Who are you?” the astonished saint inquired.

“I am the Mother of your Lord,” She replied.

St Athanasius hesitated to believe Her, afraid of being deceived by the Evil One. Then he asked Her how he could be sure that Her words were true.

“Do you see this rock?” she asked, pointing to the side of the path. “Strike it with your staff in the name of the Holy Trinity, and you will know who is speaking to you. Do not appoint a steward at any time, for from this time forward, I shall be the Stewardess of your monastery.”

St Athanasius did as he was told, and the rock split open. A stream of water began to flow out of the crack. When he turned to face the Mother of God and to ask forgiveness for his doubt, She had disappeared.

Returning to the monastery, St Athanasius found all the storerooms filled to capacity with food, wine, and oil. The building was completed, and soon the Lavra was filled with monks once again.

To this day, the Lavra does not have a steward. There is, however, a monk who serves as an assistant steward to the Mother of God. The Economissa Icon rests on a throne in the narthex of the main church, and She remains the Stewardess of the Lavra. Pilgrims venerate the Icon before entering the side chapel with the saint’s tomb.

The spring of St Athanasius still flows with healing water.



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

Friday, July 04, 2014

Burial of St Andrew the Prince

Commemorated on July 4

Holy Prince Andrew Bogoliubsky (1110-1174), a grandson of Vladimir Monomakh, was the son of Yurii Dolgoruky and a Polovetsian princess (in holy Baptism Maria). While still in his youth he was called “Bogoliubsky” (“God-loving”) for his profound attention to prayer, his diligence for church services and “his adoption of secret prayers to God.” From his grandfather, Vladimir Monomakh, the grandson inherited great spiritual concentration, love for the Word of God and the habit of turning to the Scripture in all the circumstances of life.

A brave warrior [Andrew means “brave”], a participant in his military father’s many campaigns, more than once he came close to death in battle. But each time Divine Providence invisibly saved the princely man of prayer. Thus for example, on February 8, 1150, in a battle near Lutsk, St Andrew was saved from the spear of an enemy German by a prayer to the Great Martyr Theodore Stratelates, whose memory was celebrated that day.

The chronicles also stress St Andrew’s peace-making activity, a rare trait among the princes and military commanders of those harsh times. The combination of military valor with love for peace and mercy, of great humility with indomitable zeal for the Church were present in Prince Andrew in the highest degree. A responsible master of the land, and a constant coworker in the city construction and church building activity of Yurii Dolgoruky, he built with his father: Moscow (1147), Iuriev-Polsk (1152), Dmitrov (1154), and he also adorned the cities of Rostov, Suzdal’, and Vladimir with churches. In 1162 St Andrew could say with satisfaction, “I have built up white Rus with cities and settlements, and have rendered it with much populace.”

When Yurii Dolgoruky became Great Prince of Kiev in 1154, he gave his son Vyshgorod near Kiev as his appanage (land given by kings and princes to their younger children for their support), but God willed otherwise. One night in the summer of 1155, the wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God in the Vyshgorod church was removed. This icon was painted by the holy Evangelist Luke, and in some period before this had been transferred here from Constantinople. Later, it was called the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. On this night with the icon in hand, holy Prince Andrew left Vyshgorod going northwards to the Suzdal territory, secretly and without the blessing of his father, mindful only of the will of God.

The miracle of this holy icon, which occured on the way from Vyshgorod to Vladimir, was recorded by a clergyman of Prince Andrew, “the priest Mikula” [Nicholas], in his “Reports of the Miracles of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God.”

Ten versts before reaching Vladimir, the horse bearing the icon suddenly stopped. During the night the Mother of God appeared to St Andrew with a scroll in her hand and commanded, “I do not want you to take my icon to Rostov, but rather leave it in Vladimir. Build a stone church here in the name of My Nativity.” In memory of this miraculous event, St Andrew commissioned an iconographer to paint an icon of the Mother of God the way that the All-Pure Virgin had appeared to him. He established Feast of this icon as June 18. The icon, named the Bogoliubsk, was afterwards glorified by numerous miracles.

Upon the place decreed by the Queen of Heaven, Prince Andrew built (in 1159) the church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. He also remained in the city of Bogoliubov, which became his constant dwelling and the place of his martyric end.

When his father Yurii Dolgoruky died (+ May 15, 1157), St Andrew did not take up his father’s throne at Kiev, but rather remained prince at Vladimir. During the years 1158-1160 was built the Dormition cathedral at Vladimir, and in it was placed the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. In the year 1164 the Golden Gates were set in place, over which was the church of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God, and also the church of the Savior at the princely court.

Thirty churches were built by Prince Andrew during the years of his rule. The finest of them is the Dormition cathedral. The richness and splendor of the church helped to spread Orthodoxy among the surrounding peoples and foreign merchants. St Andrew had directed that all travellers, whether Latins or pagans, were to be led into the churches he built and to have “true Christianity” pointed out to them. The chronicler writes: “Both Bulgars, and Jews, and every sort of common person, beholding the glory of God and churchly adornment, came to be baptized.”

The conquest of the great Volga journey-way became for St Andrew a fundamental task of his civil service to Russia. The Volga Bulgars from the time of the campaigns of Svyatoslav (+ 972) presented a serious danger to the Russian state. St Andrew continued with the initiatives of Svyatoslav.

A shattering blow was struck against the enemy in 1164, when Russian forces burned and destroyed several Bulgar fortresses. St Andrew took with him on this campaign the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God and a two-sided icon, on one side was depicted the Icon of the Savior “Not-Made-by-Hands,” and the “Veneration of the Cross” on the opposite side. [At the present time both icons are in the Tretyakov State Gallery.]

A great miracle from the holy icons occurred for the Russian army on the day of the decisive victory over the Bulgars, August 1, 1164. After the destruction of the Bulgar army, the princes (Andrew, his brother Yaroslav, his son Izyaslav and others) returned towards the infantry standing by the princely standards with the Vladimir Icon, and they made a prostration before the Icon, “bestowing on it praise and song.” And then all beheld the blinding rays of light, issuing from the face of the Mother of God and the Savior Not-Made-by-Hands.

Remaining a faithful son of the Orthodox Church in all things, vigilant in belief and canons, St Andrew turned to the Patriarch of Constantinople with a filial request to establish a separate metropolitan for northeastern Rus. And with the prince’s letter of accord there journeyed to Byzantium the candidate chosen by the prince, Archimandrite Theodore of Suzdal. Patriarch Luke Chrysoverges, however, only agreed to consecrate Theodore as Bishop of Vladimir, but not as Metropolitan. Yet at the same time, wanting to uphold the position of Prince Andrew as the most powerful among the rulers of the Russian Land, the Patriarch honored Bishop Theodore with the right to wear the white klobuk [monastic head covering], which in ancient Rus was a distinctive sign of church autonomy. Such recognition (the white klobuk) was also granted to the Archbishop of Novgorod. Evidently, since the Russian chronicles speak of Bishop Theodore with the title of “White Klobuk”, much later historians sometimes call him “the bishop of an autonomous diocese.”

In the year 1167 St Rostislav died at Kiev. He was the twin brother of Andrew, and had been able to carry out compromise during the complicated political and churchly life of the time. But after this, there was dispatched from Constantinople a new metropolitan, Constantine II. The new metropolitan demanded that Bishop Theodore come before him to be confirmed in his position. St Andrew again went to Constantinople for the affirmation of the autonomous status of the Vladimir diocese and again he requested a separate metropolitanate. The letter of reply from Patriarch Luke Chrysoverges has been preserved. It contains a categorical refusal for establishing a new metropolitan, a demand to accept the expelled bishop Leo, and to submit to the Metropolitan of Kiev.

In fulfilling this churchly obedience, St Andrew urged Bishop Theodore to journey in repentance to Kiev for the restoration of canonical relations with the Metropolitan. The repentance of Bishop Theodore was not accepted. Without investigation by a council, and in accord with the Byzantine morals of the time, Metropolitan Constantine condemned him to a terrible execution. St Theodore’s tongue was cut out, they cut off his right hand, and then they gouged out his eyes. After this he was drowned by servants of the Metropolitan (by other accounts, he died in prison).

Not only the churchly, but also the political affairs of Southern Rus demanded the decisive response of the Great Prince of Vladimir. On  March 8, 1169 an army of allied princes with Andrew’s son Mstislav at the head conquered Kiev. The city was devastated and burned, and the Polovetsians participating in the campaign did not spare even the churchly treasures. The Russian chronicles viewed this event as something that was deserved: “These misfortunes were for their sins (the Kievans), especially for the outrage perpetuated by the Metropolitan.” In the same year (1169) the prince moved an army against unruly Novgorod, but they were repulsed by a miracle of the Novgorod Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign (November 27), which had been carried along the city walls by holy Archbishop John (September 7). But when the understandable wrath of the Great Prince gave way to mercy, and in peace he summoned the Novgorod people to him, the blessing of God returned to him. Novgorod accepted the prince appointed by St Andrew.

In such a manner, towards the end of 1170, St Andrew Bogoliubsky was able to attain the unity of the Russian Land under his rule.

In the winter of 1172 he sent a large army under the command of his son Mstislav against the Volga Bulgars. The Russian forces gained the victory, but their joy was overshadowed by the death of the valiant Mstislav (March 28, 1172).

On the night of June 30, 1174 holy Prince Andrew Bogoliubsky accepted a martyr’s death at the hands of traitors in his own household. The Tver Chronicle relates that St Andrew was murdered at the instigation of his second wife (a Volga Bulgar), who participated in the conspiracy. At the head of the conspiracy stood her brothers, the Kuchkovichi: “and they commited murder in the night, as did Judas against the Lord.” A throng of assassins, twenty men, burst in upon the court, they killed the few guards and stormed into the bedchamber of the unarmed prince. The sword of St Boris, which hung constantly over his bed, had been treacherously removed that night by the steward Anbal. The prince succeeded in pushing the first of his assailants down on the floor. The conspirators then mistakenly ran him through with their swords. Soon they realised their mistake, “and then they perceived the prince, and he fought much with them, for he was strong, and they did thrust with swords and sabres, and gave him copious wounds.” The forehead of the holy prince was struck on the side with a spear, while all the remaining blows from the cowardly assassins were dealt from behind. When the prince finally fell, they abruptly rushed out of the bedchamber, taking along their murdered accomplice.

The saint was still alive, however. With his final strength he lowered himself along the palace stairway, hoping to alert a guard. Instead, his groans were heard by the assassins and they turned back. The prince was able to hide himself in a niche below the stairway and so they passed by him. The conspirators rushed to the bedchamber but did not find the prince there. “Disaster stands before us, since the prince is alive,” the assassins cried out in terror. But all around it was quiet, and no one came to the aid of the suffering prince. Then the evil-doers again regained their boldness, they lit candles and followed the bloody trail to seek out their victim. Prayer was on the lips of St Andrew when the assassins again surrounded him.

The Russian Church remembers and venerates its martyrs and makers. A special place belongs to St Andrew Bogoliubsky. Having taken in his hands the wonderworking icon of the Vladimir Mother of God, the holy prince, as it were, blessed the major events of Russian history with it. In 1395 was the year of the transfer of the Vladimir Icon to Moscow and the deliverance of the capital from the invasion of Tamerlane (August 26); the year 1480 marks the salvation of Rus from the invasion of Khan Akhmat and the ultimate collapse of the Mongol Horde (June 23); in the year 1521 Moscow was saved from the invasion of the Crimean Khan Makhmet-Girei (May 21). Through the prayers of St Andrew, his fondest dreams for the Russian Church came true. In the year 1300 Metropolitan Maximus transferred the metropolitan See of All-Russia from Kiev to Vladimir, making the Dormition cathedral the foremost cathedral of the Russian Church There rest the relics of St Andrew, and the Vladimir wonderworking Icon is its chief holy object.

Later on, when the center of the Russian Church was moved to Moscow, selections of the metropolitans and patriarchs of the Russian Church were made before the Vladimir Icon. In the year 1448, a Council of Russian bishops raised up the first metropolitan of the autocephalous Russian Church, St Jonah. On November 5, 1917, in front of it was made the selection of His Holiness Patriarch St Tikhon, the first such election after the restoration of the patriarchate in the Russian Church. And in 1971, on the Feast of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, the enthronment of His Holiness Patriarch Pimen took place.

The liturgical activity of St Andrew was multi-faceted and fruitful. In 1162 the Lord granted the holy prince a great solace: in Rostov there was discovered the relics of Rostov saints -- the holy hierarchs Isaiah and Leontius. The glorification of these Rostov saints throughout all the Church took place somewhat later, but St Andrew initiated their national veneration. In 1164 the military forces of St Andrew crushed their long-time enemy, the Volga Bulgars. The victories of the Orthodox nation were marked by a blossoming of liturgical creativity within the Russian Church.

In this same year of 1164, at the initiative of St Andrew, the Church established the Feast of the All-Merciful Savior and the Most Holy Theotokos on August 1 (venerated by the Russian people as “Savior of the First Honey”), in memory of the Baptism of Rus by holy Equal of the Apostles Vladimir and in memory of the victory over the Bulgars in 1164. The Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God on October 1 embodied in liturgical forms the faith of the holy prince and all the Orthodox nation in the acceptance by the Mother of God of Holy Rus beneath Her omophorion. The Protection of the Theotokos became one of the most beloved of Russian Church Feasts. The Protection is a Russian national holiday, unknown to the Latin West. It is a liturgical continuation and creative development of theological ideas inherent to the Feast of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God on July 2.

The first church consecrated to the new Feast was the Protection church at Nerla (1165), a remarkable monument of Russian Church architecture, built by the master artisans of St Andrew at the head-waters of the River Nerla, so that the prince could always see it from a window of his Bogoliubov garret.

St Andrew took an active part in the literary work of the Vladimir church writers. He participated in the compiling of the Service of the Protection (the most ancient copy is in the manuscript of a fourteenth century Psalter), and also a preface about the establishment of the Feast of the Protection in the Great Reading Meneion for October, as well as a “Discourse on the Protection.” He wrote an “Account of the Victory over the Bulgars and the Establishing of the Feast of the Savior in the Year 1164,” which in several of the old manuscripts is called, “Discourse concerning the Mercy of God by Great Prince Andrew Bogoliubsky.” The fate of Bogoliubsky is also noted in the Vladimir Chronicle entry for the year 1177, completed after the death of the prince by his confessor, the priest Mikula, who inserted his special “Account of the Murder of St Andrew.” To St Andrew’s time belongs also the final editing of the “Account of Boris and Gleb,” inserted into the “Dormition Sbornik” (“Compendium” or “Book of Collected Services” of these Rostov saints). The prince particularly venerated St Boris, and his chief household treasure was a cap belonging to St Boris. St Boris’s sword always hung over his bed. Another memorial of St Andrew’s prayerful inspiration is “A Prayer,” included in the chronicle under the year 1096 after the “Instructions of Vladimir Monomakh.”


O Champion of Orthodoxy, teacher of purity and of true worship, / The enlightener of the universe and the adornment of the Hierarchs: / O all-wise Father Andrew, your teachings have gleamed with light upon all things. / Intercede before Christ our God to save our souls!


Divine truth became glorious melodies in your mouth, O holy Andrew; / Therefore you became a guiding star illumined by the light of the Trinity. / We faithful cry out to you: / Never cease to intercede that our souls may be saved!


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