Holy Apostle Jude, the Brother of the Lord (80)
Commemorated on June 19/July 2
The Holy Apostle Jude, among the rank of the 12 disciples of
Christ, is descended from the lineage of King David and Solomon,
and was the son of Righteous Joseph the Affianced from his first
The Holy Apostle John the Theologian writes in his Gospel: "For none of
his brethren believe on Him" (Jn. 7, 5). Sainted Theophilact, ArchBishop
of Bulgaria, explains these words thus: at the beginning of the worldly ministry
of the Lord Jesus Christ – the sons of Joseph, among whose number was
Jude, did not believe in His Divine essence. The tradition relates that when
Righteous Joseph the Affianced, having returned from Egypt, began to divide
among his sons the worldly things belonging to him, he wanted to alot part
also to Christ the Saviour, born miraculously and incorruptibly from the
All-Pure Virgin Mary. The brothers were opposed to this and only the eldest
James, accepted Christ Jesus in a joint ownership of his allotment, and for
this he was termed Brother of the Lord. Later on Jude believed in Christ
the Saviour as the awaited Messiah, and with all his heart he turned to Him
was chosen by Him into the number of the closest 12 disciples. But mindful
of his sin, the Apostle Jude considered himself unworthy to be termed a brother
with God and in his own soborno-catholic Epistle he calls himself merely
the brother of James.
The Holy Apostle Jude also had other names: the Evangelist Matthew terms
nicknamed Thaddeus" (Mt. 10, 3). The Holy Evangelist Mark also calls
him Thaddeus (Mk. 3, 18), and in the Acts of the Holy Apostles he is mentioned
under the name Barsaba (Acts 15, 22). This was customary at that time.
After the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Jude set off preaching
the Gospel. He propagated the faith in Christ at first in Judea, Galilee,
Samaria and Idumeia, and later – in the lands of Arabia, Syria and Mesopotamia,
and finally he went to the city of Edessa. Here he finished that which was
not completed by his predecessor, the disciple from the 70 – Thaddeus.
There is preserved an account, that the Holy Apostle Jude went preaching
to Persia and from there wrote in the Greek language his soborno-catholic
in the brief wording of which consisted much profound truth. It contained
dogmatic teaching about the Holy Trinity, about the Incarnation of the Lord
about the separation of Angels good and bad, and about the Dread Last-Judgement.
In its moral content the Apostle urges believers to guard themselves against
fleshly impurity, to be diligent in their obligations in prayer, faith and
love, to convert the lost to the way of salvation, and to guard themselves
from the teachings of heretics. The Apostle Jude taught that faith alone
in Christ is not sufficient, good works also are necessary, the evidence
The Holy Apostle Jude died a martyr about the year 80 in Armenia in the city
of Arata, where he was crucified on a cross and pierced by arrows.
Venerable Paisius the Great of Egypt (400)
Commemorated on June 19/July 2
The Monk Paisias the Great lived in Egypt. His parents, Christians,
distributed generous alms to all the needy.
After the death of her husband his mother, on the suggestion of an Angel, gave
over her young son Paisias to clergy of the church.
The youth Paisias loved monastic life and spent his time in one of the Egyptian
sketes. Disavowing his own will, he lived under the spiritual guidance of
Saint Pambos (Comm. 18 July), finishing all the tasks assigned him. The starets/elder
said, that a newly-begun monk in particular needs to preserve his sight,
as to guard his senses from temptation, and Paisias, heeding the instruction,
went for three years with his eyes cast downwards. The saintly ascetic diligently
read spiritual books and he was especially notable for ascetic fasting and
prayer. At first he did not taste of food during the course of a week, then – of
two, and sometimes after partaking of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, he remained
without food for seventy days.
In search of solitary quiet the Monk Paisias went into the Nitreian wilderness,
where he lived in a cave carved out by his own hands. There the monk was
vouchsafed a wondrous vision – the Lord Jesus Christ revealed to him,
that because of his labours all the Nitreian wilderness would become inhabited
The monk was impelled to ask the Lord where in the wilderness would the monks
obtain the necessities of life? The Lord answered, that if they would fulfill
all His commandments, He Himself would obtain for them all the necessities,
to put them beyond demonic temptations and cunning.
With time there gathered to the Monk Paisias a number of monks and laymen,
and thus was established a monastery. The primary covenant of the Monk Paisias
was one: no one would do anything by his own will, but in all things would
fulfill the will of his mentors. Burdened by the disturbance of the quiet,
the monk withdrew to a yet farther cave. One time he was transported to a
paradaisical monastery and vouchsafed there to partake of the non-material
After his ascetic labours for salvation, the Lord granted His saint the gift
of foresight and healing the souls of men. In the life of the ascetic is
reported an instance when one of his disciples, with the blessing of the
monk, set off
to sell handicrafts in Egypt and on the way he encountered a Jew, who suggested
to the simple-minded monk that Christ the Saviour is not the Messiah, and
that another one, a true one, will come. Confused, the monk uttered: "Perhaps
it is true what thou sayest", – yet he did not attribute any particular
significance to his words. Having returned, he saw with grief that the Monk
Paisias would not acknowledge his arrival, and he asked the reason for his
anger. The monk said: "My disciple was a Christian, thou art not a Christian,
from thee hath departed the grace of Baptism". Having repented, the
monk with tears besought to have absolved his sin. Only then did the holy
rise up to prayer and seek forgiveness of the Lord for the monk.
A certain monk on his own initiative left the wilderness and re-settled not
far from a city. There he had encounters with a woman, who hated and blasphemed
Christ the Saviour. Having fallen under her influence, he not only left monasticism,
but also scorned faith in Christ and finally he arrived at total disbelief.
One time, through the blessed Providence of God, Nitreian monks came past his
home. Seeing them, the sinner remembered his own former life and he asked the
monks to convey to the Monk Paisias, that he pray for him to the Lord. Hearing
the request, the monk began to pray fervently, and his efficacious prayer was
heard. The Lord, appearing to His saint, promised to forgive the sinner. Soon
the seduced-monk's woman-companion died, and he returned to the wilderness
where, weeping and distressed about his sins, he began to labour at deeds of
The Monk Paisias distinguished himself by great humility, and accomplished
ascetic deeds of fasting and prayer, but as far as possible, he concealed
them from those aside. To a question of the monks, which virtue is highest
the monk answered: "those, which are done in secret and about which no
The Monk Paisias died in the V Cent. in extreme old age and he was buried with
veneration by many of the gathered monks. After some while his relics were
transferred by the Monk Isidoros Pelusiotes (Comm. 4 February) to the Pelusiot
Monastery and placed alongside the relics of the Monk Paul of the Wilderness,
with whom the Monk Paisias in life was in particular spiritually close.
Hieromartyr Methodius, bishop of Patara (312)
Commemorated on June 20/July 3
The PriestMartyr Methodios, Bishop of Patara (Lycian region in
Asia Minor), was distinguished for his genuine monastic humility.
Calmly and with mildness he instructed his flock, but together
with this he firmly defended the purity of Orthodoxy and he energetically
contended against heresies, especially the widespread heresy of
the Origenists. He left behind him a rich literary legacy: works
in defense of Christianity against paganism, explications of Orthodox
dogmas against the heresy of Origen, moral discourses, and explanations
of Holy Scripture.
Saint Methodios was arrested by the pagans, steadfastly confessed before them
his faith in Christ, and in the year 312 he was sentenced to death by beheading.
St. Nahum of Ochrid (910)
Commemorated on June 20/July 3
The Monk Naum of Okhrid, Bulgarian by descent, was one of the
disciple of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Cyril and Methodios
(Comm. 11 May), and he likewise accompanied Saint Kliment (Clement)
of Okhrid during the time of his preaching of the Gospel in Bulgaria.
When Saint Kliment set off to the south-western regions, the Monk
Naum remained in the then capital city of Plisk. Afterwards the
Monk Naum became successor to Saint Kliment in a monastery on the
shores of Lake Okhrida, where he asceticised for 10 years. The
Monk Naum reposed on 23 December 910, and his relics were glorified
by numerous miracles, especially healings of sicknesses of soul.
The memory of the saint is likewise celebrated on 23 December.
Martyr Julian of Tarsus in Cilicia (305)
Commemorated on June 21/July 4
The Holy Martyr Julian of Tarsis was born in the Asia Minor province
of Cilicia. He was the son of a pagan senator, but his mother confessed
Christianity. After the death of her husband the mother of Saint
Julian resettled to Tarsis, where the son was baptised and raised
in Christian piety. When Julian reached age 18, a persecution against
Christians started under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Among
others arrested was also Saint Julian. They brought him before
the governor Marcian for trial, where for a long time they urged
him to renounce Christ. Neither tortures nor threats, nor promises
of gifts and honours could convince the pious youth to offer pagan
sacrifice and a denial of Christ. The holy confessor remained steadfast
in his firm faith. For a whole year they led the martyr through
the cities of Cilicia, in each of them subjecting him to interrogation
and tortures, after which they threw him in prison. The mother
of Saint Julian followed after her son and prayed, that the Lord
would strengthen him yet more in faith and act. In the city of
Aegea under the pretext of urging her son to offer sacrifice to
idols, she besought the governor to permit her to visit the prison.
She spent three days in prison with Saint Julian, beseeching him
to be strong to the end.
Saint Julian was again brought to stand before the governor. Thinking, that
the mother had persuaded her son to submit to the imperial decree, the governor
began to praise her prudence. But suddenly the saint boldly confessed himself
a Christian. And the holy Martyr Julian all the more fearlessly and boldly
denounced the pagan polytheism. The governor then gave orders to cut off the
feet of the mother of Saint Julian, since she had accompanied her son from
Tarsis. They tied the Martyr Julian into a sack, filled with sand and poisonous
vipers, and threw it into the sea. The body of the sufferer was carried by
the waves to the shores of Alexandria, and with reverence was buried by a certain
pious Alexandrian Christian. The martyr's death occurred in about the year
305. Afterwards the relics of the holy martyr were transferred to Antioch.
Saint John Chrysostom honoured the memory of the holy Martyr Julian with a
sermon of laudation.
Hieromartyr Eusebius, bishop of Samosata (380)
Commemorated on June 22/July 5
Eusebios, Bishop of Samosata, stood firmly for the Orthodox confession
of faith confirmed at
the Ist OEcumenical
Council at Nicea in the year 325. For this he underwent persecution
by the Arians, being repeatedly deprived of his cathedra and
banished into exile. The emperor Constantius (337-361), patron
of the Arians,
having learned that Saint Eusebios kept a conciliar decree about
the election to the Antioch cathedra of the Orthodox Archbishop
Meletios, sent him a command to give up the decree. The saint
boldly refused to do as ordered. The enraged emperor sent a message,
if he did not give up the decree, then his right hand would be
cut off. Saint Eusebios stretched out both hands to the emissary
with the words: "Cut them off, but the Decree of the Council,
which doth denounce the wickedness and iniquity of the Arians,
I will not give up". The emperor Constantius marveled at
the audacity of the bishop, but did him no harm.
After Constantius, there reigned Justin the Apostate (361-363).
Even more difficult times ensued – there began an open persecution against Christians. Sainted
Eusebios, having concealed his dignity, went about in the garb of a soldier
across the whole of Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine, urging Christians to the
Orthodox faith. He established priests and deacons in desolated churches, he
put hands upon bishops renouncing the Arian heresy. After Julian the Apostate
perished, there ruled the pious emperor Jovian (363-364), during which time
the persecutions stopped. Having returned from exile, Archbishop Meletios upon
the advice of Saint Eusebios convened a Local Council at Antioch in the year
379. In it participated 27 bishops, and it re-affirmed the Orthodox teaching
of faith accepted at the Ist OEcumenical Council. The Arians, fearing the steadfast
defenders of Orthodoxy – Sainted-hierarchs Meletios, Eusebios and Pelagios,
who had great influence with the emperor, put their signatures under the conciliar
definition. After the death of the emperor Jovian began the rule of the Arian
Vanlentus (364-378). The Orthodox were again subjected to persecution. Saint
Meletios was banished to Armenia, Saint Pelagios – to Arabia, and Saint
Eusebios was condemned to exile in Thrace. Having received the imperial decree,
Saint Eusebios left Samosata by night so as to prevent tumult among the people
that esteemed him. Having learned about the departure of the bishop, believers
followed after him and with tears entreated him to return. The saint refused
to fulfill the entreaty of those who had come, saying that it was necessary
to obey the existing authorities. The saint urged his flock to hold firm
to Orthodoxy, blessed them and set off to the place of exile. The Arian Eunomios
was put upon the Samosata cathedra, but the people did not accept the heretic.
The Orthodox would not go to the church and avoided meeting with him. The
Arian perceived, that it was impossible to entice the independent flock to
The emperor Gracian (375-383) came upon the throne, and there were brought
back from exile all the Orthodox hierarchs banished under the Arians. Saint
Eusebios also returned to Samosata and continued with the task of building
up the church. Together with Saint Meletios he supplied Orthodox hierarchs
and clergy to Arian places. In about the year 380, he arrived in the Arian
city of Dolikhina to establish there the Orthodox bishop Marinos. An Arian
woman flung a roof tile which struck the head of the sainted-bishop. In dying,
he on the example of the Saviour asked her for wine and requested those around
not to do her any harm. The body of Sainted Eusebios was taken to Samosata
and with lamantation he was buried by his flock. In place of the saint was
raised up his nephew, Blessed Antiokhos, and the Samosata Church continued
to steadfastly confess the Orthodox faith, firmly spread through the efforts
of the holy Priestmartyr Eusebios.
Martyr Agrippina of Rome (253-260)
Commemorated on June 23/July 6
The Holy Martyress Agrippina, was by birth a Roman. She did not
wish to enter into marriage, and totally dedicated her life to
God. During the time of persecution against Christians under the
emperor Valerian (253-259) the saint went before the court and
bravely confessed her faith in Christ, for which she was given
over to torture. They beat the holy virgin with sticks so much,
that her bones broke. Afterwards they put Saint Agrippina in chains,
but an Angel freed her from her bonds. The holy confessor died
from the tortures she endured. The Christians Vassa, Paula and
Agathonica secretly took the body of the holy martyress and transported
it to Cilicia, where at her grave were worked many miracles. In
about the XI Century the relics of the holy Martyress Agrippina
were transferred to Constantinople.
The Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos in
memory of Saving of Moscow from the Invasion of Khan Achmed
Commemorated on June 23/July 6
The Feast of
the Mother of God in honour of Her Holy Vladimir Icon is celebrated
in thanksgiving for the deliverance
from an invasion of khan Akhmat. In 1480 during the time of GreatPrince
Ivan III Vasil'evich (1462-1505), khan Akhmat of the Golden Horde
approached with a vast host up to the River Ugra, which those
guarding the Moscow domain called "the Belt (Poyas) of the Mother of
God". For an entire day the army of the khan and that of the
Moscow prince stood opposite each other, not making the decision
to act – "the standing at the Ugra". All Moscow
prayed to its Patroness the MostHoly Mother of God for the safety
of the Orthodox capital. Metropolitan Gerontii (1473-1489) and
the father-confessor of the prince, Archbishop Vassion of Rostov,
praying, strengthened the Russian army with blessing and counsel.
The metropolitan wrote the prince a cathedral missive, in which
he called on him to stand bravely against the enemy, trusting
on the help of the Mother of God.
The MostHoly Mother of God interceded for the Russian land. The prince commanded
his army to fall back from the Ugra, hoping to await the passing over of the
Tatars; the enemy decided, however, that the Russians were luring them into
a trap, and they thus began to fall back, at first slowly, but by night they
fled, driven by fear. In thanksgiving for the deliverance of Russia from the
Tatars, this feast was established in honour of the Mother of God. (The account
about the Vladimir Icon is located under 26 August).
Nativity of St. John the Baptist
Commemorated on June 24/July 7
of the Holy Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John: The Gospel
(Lk. 1: 57-80) relates that the
of Saint John the Baptist – the Priest Zachariah and Elizabeth,
lived in the ancient city of Hebron, and reached old age being
childless, since Elizabeth was barren. One time, Saint Zachariah
was making Divine services at the Jerusalem Temple and saw the
Archangel Gabriel, standing on the right side of the incense offertory.
He predicted, that Saint Zachariah would father a son, who would
announce the Saviour – the Messiah, awaited by the Old Testament
Church. Zachariah was troubled, and fear fell upon him. He had
doubts that in old age it was possible to have a son, and he asked
for a sign. And it was given to him – it appeared at the
same time as a chastisement for his unbelief: Zachariah was struck
speechless until the time of the fulfillment of the archangel's
Saint Elizabeth came to be with child, and fearing derision over
the lateness of her pregnancy, she kept it secret for five months,
until there came visiting
her distant relative the All-Blessed Virgin Mary, to share with her Her own
joy. Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, was the first to greet
the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God. And together with her Saint John also – in
the womb of his mother Righteous Elizabeth – did greet "with leaps
as in song" the MostHoly Virgin Mary and the Son of God incarnated within
It became time, and Saint Elizabeth gave birth to a son, and all the relatives
and acquaintances rejoiced together with her. On the eighth day, in accord
with the law of Moses, was made the circumcision. His mother named him John.
Everyone was amazed, since no one in their family had been named such. When
they asked Saint Zachariah about this, he motioned for a tablet and wrote
on it: "John is his name" – and immediately the binding of his
tongue at the prediction of the archangel was unbound, and Saint Zachariah,
at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, glorified God and pronounced the words
of prophecy about the Advent-Coming into the world of the Messiah, and about
his own son John – the Forerunner of the Lord.
After the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ and the worship of the shepherds
and the Magi, wicked king Herod gave orders to kill all the infants. Hearing
about this, Saint Elizabeth fled into the wilderness and hid in a cave. Saint
Zachariah as a priest was at Jerusalem and was doing his priestly service in
the Temple. Herod sent soldiers to him to find out the abode of the infant
John and his mother. Zachariah answered, that their whereabouts were unknown
to him, and he was killed right there in the Temple. Righteous Elizabeth continued
to live in the wilderness with her son and she died there. The lad John, protected
by an Angel, dwelt in the wilderness until such time, when he came preaching
about repentance and was himself vouchsafed worthy to baptise the Lord Who
was come into the world.
Virgin-martyr Febronia of Nisibis (304)
Commemorated on June 25/July 8
The Virgin-Martyr Febronia suffered during the reign of Diocletian
(284-305). She was raised at a monastery in the city of Sivapolis
(Assyria region). The head of the women's monastery was the hegumenia
Brienna, the aunt of Saint Febronia, and being concerned about
the salvation of Saint Febronia, she assigned her a stricter form
of life than the other nuns. According to their monastic ustav-rule,
on Fridays the sisters left aside their other duties and spent
the whole day at prayer and the reading of Holy Scripture, and
usually the hegumenia appointed the reading to Saint Febronia.
News about her pious life spread throughout the city. The illustrious young
widow Hieria, a pagan, began to visit her, and under the influence of her guidance
and prayer she accepted holy Baptism, bringing then to the Christian faith
her parents and kinsfolk.
Diocletian dispatched to Assyria for the destruction of Christians a detachment
of soldiers under the command of Lysimachus, Selenus and Primus. Selenos, the
uncle of Lysimachus, was noted for his fierce attitude against Christians,
but Lysimachus was of a different frame of mind from him, since his mother
had sought to inspire love for the Christian faith in her son, and she had
died a Christian. And Lysimachus had discussed with his kinsman Primus how
far possible it would be to deliver Christians from the hands of the torturer.
When the detachment of soldiers approached the convent, its inhabitants hid.
There remained only the hegumenia Brienna, her helper Thomaida and Saint Febronia,
who at the time was seriously ill. It sorrowed the hegumenia terribly, that
her niece would fall into the hands of the torturers, possibly to defile her,
and she prayed fervently that the Lord would preserve her and strengthen her
in the confession of Christ the Saviour. Selenus gave orders to bring him all
the nuns of the convent. Primus with the detachment of soldiers found no one,
except the two old women and Saint Febronia. He regretted that they had not
hidden, and he suggested to the nuns to be gone. But the nuns decided not to
quit the place of their labours and they entrusted themselves to the will of
Primus told Lysimachus about the particular beauty of Saint Febronia and
advised him to take her for himself in marriage. Lysimachus answered, that
he did not
wish to seduce a virgin dedicated to God, and he asked Primus to hide the
other nuns somewhere, so that they would not fall into the hands of Selenus.
of the soldiers overheard the conversation and told Selenus. They led Saint
Febronia off to the military commander with her hands bound and a chain on
her neck. Selenus urged her to recant from the faith in Christ and he promised
her honours, rewards, and marriage with Lysimachus. The holy virgin firmly
and fearlessly answered, that she had the Immortal Bridegroom and she would
not exchange Him for some worldly blessing. Selenus subjected her to fierce
torture. The saint prayed: "My Saviour, do not abandon me in this terrible
hour!" They beat the martyress for a long time, and blood from her handcuffs
flowed from the wounds. In order to intensify the suffering of Saint Febronia,
they tied her to a tree and set a fire under it. The tortures were so inhuman,
that the people began to shout, urging a stop to the torture since there
was no confession of guilt by the girl. But Selenus continued to mock and
at the martyress. Saint Febronia became silent. Because of weakness she was
unable to utter a word. In a rage Selenus gave orders to tear out her tongue,
smash her teeth, and finally, to cut off both hands and legs. The people
were unable to bear such an horrid spectacle and they left the scene of the
cursing Diocletian and his gods.
Among the crowd was the Nun Thomaida, who afterwards recorded in detail the
martyr's act of Saint Febronia, and also her student Hieria. She came forth
out of the crowd and in the hearing of all reproached Selenus for his boundless
cruelty. He gave orders to arrest her, but learning that Hieria was of illustrious
standing whom he could not readily subject to torture, he stopped her, saying: "By
thy speech thou hast brought on Febronia yet greater torment". Finally,
they beheaded the holy Martyress Febronia.
Departing the place of execution, Lysimachus wept and withdrew to his quarters.
Selenus made ready to eat, but he was not able to take food, and went off
to the quiet of his own chambers. Suddenly, looking upwards, he all at once
his speech, bellowed like an ox, fell down, and having struck a marble column,
he cracked his head and there he died. When Lysimachus learned of this, he
said: "O Great God of the Christians, Who art worthy of respect, in that
innocent blood hath been revenged!" He prepared a coffin, placed in it
the mutilated body of the martyress and took it to the convent. Hegumenia Brienna
fell senseless, seeing the mutilated remains of Saint Febronia. By evening
time she returned to her senses and gave orders to open the convent gates,
so that all would be able to come and venerate the holy martyress and glorify
God – having given her such endurance in suffering for Christ the Saviour.
Lysimachus and Primus thereupon renounced their idol-worship, and accepted
both Baptism and monasticism. Hieria gave her wealth to the convent and petitioned
hegumenia Brienna to accept her at the convent in place of Saint Febronia.
Every year, on the day of the martyress death of Saint Febronia there was celebrated
at the convent a solemn feast. During the time of the all-night vigil the monastic
sisters always saw Saint Febronia, who occupied her usual place in church.
From the relics of Saint Febronia occurred numerous miracles and healings.
The Life of Saint Febronia was recorded by the Nun Thomaida, an eye-witness
to her deeds.
In the year 363 the relics of Saint Febronia were transferred to Constantinople.
Soon after the death of Saint Febronia, Saint James the Bishop of Niziba (Comm.
13 January) built a church and transferred into it part of the relics of the
Venerable David of Thessalonica (540)
Commemorated on June 26/July 9
The Monk David of Soluneia (Thessalonika) pursued asceticism
at the monastery of the holy Martyrs Theodore and Mercurios. Afterwards,
having settled near the city of Soluneia, he built himself an hut
under an almond tree and lived in it for 70 years, being in constant
prayer, keeping strict fast, and enduring heat and cold. The Monk
David received from God the gift of wonderworking, and he healed
many from sickness. The holy ascetic gave spiritual counsel to
all who came to him. Having attained to passionlessness, he was
like an angel in the flesh, and without harm he was able to take
into his hands the hot coals for the incensing. The monk died in
about the year 540.
Venerable Sampson the Hospitable of Constantinople (530)
Commemorated on June 27/July 10
The Monk Sampson the Hospitable-to-Strangers was the son of rich
and illustrious Roman parents. In his youth he received an excellent
education, he studied the medical arts, and for free he doctored
the sick. After the death of his parents Saint Sampson generously
distributed alms and set free his slaves, preparing himself to
go into the wilderness.
With this intent un mind he soon journeyed from Rome to the East. But the Lord
directed him onto a different path, that of service to neighbour, and so Saint
Sampson came to Constantinople. Settling into a small house, the saint began
to take in the wandering homeless, the poor and the sick, and he attended to
them zealously. The Lord blessed the efforts of Saint Sampson and endowed him
with the power of wonderworking. He healed the sick not only through being
a skilled physician, but also as a bearer of the grace of God. The news about
Saint Sampson spread widely. The patriarch, having summoned him, ordained him
One time it was revealed to the grievously sick emperor Justinian (527-565),
that he could receive healing only through Saint Sampson. In praying, the saint
extended his hand in the direction of the sick emperor, who then received relief,
and soon recovered altogether. In gratitude the emperor wanted to reward his
healer with silver and gold, but the saint refused and instead asked Justinian
to build a domicile for wanderers and the sick. The emperor readily fulfilled
All the rest of his life Saint Sampson devoted to serving his neighbour. He
survived into old age and after a short illness he with joy expired to the
Lord (+ c. 530). The saint was buried at the church of the holy Martyr Mokias.
Many an healing was effected at the grave of Saint Sampson. His home for wanderers
and the hospice remained open, and the saint did not cease to care for the
suffering. He twice appeared to a neglectful worker of the hospice and upbraided
him for his laziness. At the request of an admirer of Saint Sampson the vagrants-home
was transformed into a church, and alongside it was built a new edifice for
taking in the homeless. During the time of a powerful conflagration at Constantinople
the flames did not touch the vagrants-home of Saint Sampson: through his prayers
a strong rain poured down, which quenched the fire.
Translation of the relics (412) of the Holy and Wonderworking
Unmercenaries Cyrus and John (311)
Commemorated on June 28/July 11
The Transfer of the Relics of the Holy Martyrs, Unmercenaries
and Wonderworkers, Cyrus and John from the city of Konopa, near
Alexandria (where they suffered in the year 311) to the nearby
village of Manuphin, was done in the year 412. This Egyptian village
prompted fear in everyone, since in a former time there was here
a pagan temple and residence of evil spirits. Patriarch Theophilos
(385-412) wanted to cleanse this place of demons, but he died.
His wish was fulfilled by his successor upon the Alexandrian cathedra-chair,
holy Patriarch Cyril (412-444). He prayed fervently in carrying
out this project. An Angel of the Lord appeared in a vision to
the sainted-hierarch and commanded the venerable relics of Saints
Cyrus and John be transferred to Manuphin. His Holiness Patriarch
Cyril did the Angel's bidding and built at Manuphin a church in
the name of the holy martyrs.
From that time this place was cleansed from the powers of the enemy, and by
the prayers of the holy Martyrs Cyrus and John there began to occur many miracles,
healings of the sick and infirm.
The Holy UnMercenary Cyrus was a noted physician in the city of Alexandria,
where he was born and grew up. He was a Christian and he doctored all the sick
for free, not only offering help for bodily ills, but healing also infirmities
of soul, such as were causes of bodily sickness. Preaching the Gospel teaching,
the holy physician converted many pagans to Christ. During the time of the
persecution by Diocletian (284-305), Saint Cyrus withdrew into the Arabian
wilderness, where he took on the monastic life, and continued there also to
doctor people by his prayer, having received from God the gift to heal every
In the city of Edessa at this time lived the soldier John, a pious Christian.
When the persecution started, he went to Jerusalem and there, hearing about
Saint Cyrus, he began to search for him, and he went first to Alexandria
and then to Arabia. Having finally found Saint Cyrus, John with all his heart
attached to him and became his faithful follower. They learned that in Egypt
in the city of Canopis had been arrested the Christian Athanasia and her
three young daughters: Theoktista – age 15, Theodotia – age 13, and Eudoxia – age
11. Saints Cyrus and John hastened to go to them in help, worrying that fear
in the face of torture might impel them to renounce Christ. They visited
them in prison and gave them courage to stand what was before them. Learning
this, the governor of the city arrested Saints Cyrus and John, and convincing
himself of their steadfast and fearless confession of faith in Christ, he
gave them over to terrible tortures before the very eyes of Athanasia and
who in turn bravely endured all the tortures and were beheaded. After them
at the same place they executed the holy UnMercenaries Cyrus and John (+
311). Christians buried their bodies in a church of the holy Disciple and
Mark. In the V Century the relics of Saints Cyrus and John were transferred
from Canopis to Manuphin. Later on their relics were transferred to Rome,
and from there to Munchen (Munich) (an account further is located under 28
The Holy, Glorious and All-praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter
and Paul (67)
Commemorated on June 29/July 12
Sermon of Blessed Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (Ipponesia)
On this present day Holy Church piously remembers the suffering
of the Holy Glorious and All-Praiseworthy Apostles Peter and Paul.
Saint Peter, the fervent follower of Jesus Christ, for the profound
confession of His Divinity: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God", – was
deemed worthy by the Saviour to hear in answer: "Blessed art thou, Simon...
I tell thee, that thou art Peter (Petrus), and on this stone (petra) I build
My Church" (Mt. 16: 16-18). On "this stone" (petra), is on that
which thou sayest: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God", – it
is on this thy confession I build My Church. Wherefore the "thou art Peter":
it is from the "stone" (petra) that Peter (Petrus) is, and not from
Peter (Petrus) that the "stone" (petra) is – just as how the
christian is from Christ, and not Christ from the christian. Do you want to
know, from what sort of "rock" (petra) the Apostle Peter (Petrus)
was named? – Hear ye the Apostle Paul: "I do not want ye not to
know, brethren, – says the Apostle of Christ, – how our fathers
were all under a cloud, and all passed through the sea: and all in Moses were
baptised in the cloud and in the sea. And all thus eating spiritual food, and
all thus drinking spiritual drink: for they did drink from the spiritual accompanying
rock: for the rock indeed was Christ" (1 Cor. 10: 1-4). Here is the from
whence the "Rock" is Peter.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the final days of His earthly life, in the days
of His mission to the race of man, chose from among the disciples His twelve
for preaching the Word of God. Among them, the Apostle Peter for his fiery
ardour was vouchsafed to occupy the first place (Mt. 10: 2) and to be as
it were the representative person for all the Church. And therefore it is
to him, preferentially, after the confession: "And I give thee the keys
of the Kingdom of Heaven: and if thou bindest upon the earth, it will be bound
in the Heavens: and if thou loosenest upon the earth, it will be loosened in
the Heavens (Mt.16; 19). Wherefore it was not one man, but rather the One Universal
Church, that received these "keys" and the right "to bind and
loosen". And that actually it was the Church that received this right,
and not exclusively a single person, turn your attention to another place of
the Scriptures, where the same Lord says to also all His Apostles: "Receive
ye the Holy Spirit", – and further after this: "Whoseso sins
ye remit, are remitted them: and whoseso sins ye retain, are retained" (Jn.
20: 22-23); or: "with what ye bind upon the earth, will be bound in Heaven:
and with what ye loosen upon the earth, will be loosened in the Heavens" (Mt.
18: 18). Thus, it is the Church that binds, the Church that loosens; the Church,
built upon the foundational corner-stone – Jesus Christ Himself (Eph.
2: 20) doth bind and loosen. Let both the binding and the loosening be feared:
the loosening, in order not to fall under this again; the binding, in order
not to remain forever in this condition. Wherefore "by the passions of
his own sins, – says Wisdom, – is each ensnared" (Prov.
5: 22); and except for Holy Church nowhere is it possible to receive the
And after His Resurrection the Lord entrusted the Apostle Peter to shepherd
His spiritual flock not because, that among the disciples only Peter alone
was pre-deserved to shepherd the flock of Christ, but Christ addresses Himself
chiefly to Peter because, that Peter was first among the Apostles and as
such the representative of the Church; besides which, having turned in this
to Peter alone, as to the top Apostle, Christ by this confirms the unity
of the Church. "Simon of John, – says the Lord to Peter, – lovest
thou Me? – and the Apostle answered: "Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that
I love Thee"; and a second time it was thus asked, and a second time he
thus answered; being asked a third time, seeing that as it were not believed,
he was saddened. But how is it possible for him not to believe That One, Who
knew his heart? And wherefore then Peter answered: "Lord, Thou knowest
all; Thou knowest that I love Thee". "And sayeth Jesus to him" all
three times "Feed My sheep" (Jn. 20: 15-17). Besides this, the thrice
appealing of the Saviour to Peter and the thrice confession of Peter before
the Lord had a particular beneficial purpose for the Apostle. That one, to
whom was given "the keys of the kingdom" and the right "to bind
and to loosen", himself thrice bound himself by fear and cowardice (Mt.
26: 69-75), and the Lord thrice loosens him by His appeal and in turn by his
confession of strong love. And to shepherd literally the flock of Christ was
acquired by all the Apostles and their successors. "Attend yourself to
all the flock, – urges the Apostle Paul to church presbyters, – in
which the Holy Spirit hath established ye as bishops, to shepherd the Church
of the Lord God, acquired by His Blood" (Acts 20: 28); and the Apostle
Peter to the elders: "Feed among you the flock of Christ, attending to
it not by need, but by will and according to God: not for unrighteous profit,
but zealously: not as commanding parables, but be an image to the flock. And
when is appeared the Prince of pastors, ye will receive unfading crowns of
glory" (1 Pet. 5: 2-4).
It is remarkable that Christ, having said to Peter: "Feed My sheep", – did
not say: "Feed thy sheep", – but rather to feed, good servant,
the sheep of the Lord. "For was Christ divided, or is Paul crucified according
to you, or are ye baptised in the name of Peter or of Paul?" (1 Cor. 1:
13). "Feed My sheep". Wherefore "wolfish robbers, wolfish oppressors,
deceitful teachers and mercenaries, not being concerned about the flock" (Mt.
7: 15; Acts 20: 29; 2 Pet. 2: 1; Jn. 10: 12), having plundered a strange flock
and making of the spoils as though it be of their own particular gain, they
think that they feed their flock. Such are not good pastors, as pastors of
the Lord. "The good pastor lays down his life for the sheep" (Jn.
10: 11), entrusted to Him by the Prince of pastors Himself (1 Pet. 5: 4).
And the Apostle Peter, true to his calling, gave his soul for the very flock
Christ, having sealed his apostleship by a martyr's death, now glorified
throughout all the world.
And the Apostle Paul, being formerly Saul, was changed from a robbing wolf
into a meek lamb; formerly he was an enemy of the Church, then is manifest
as an Apostle; formerly he stalked it, then preached it. Having received
from the high-priests the authority at large to throw all christians in chains
execution, he was already on the way, "he breathed with rage and murder
against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9: 1), he thirsted for blood,
but – "the Living One in the Heavens mocked him" (Ps. 2: 4).
When he, "having persecuted and vexed" in such manner "the Church
of God" (1 Cor. 15: 9; Acts 8: 5), he came nigh to Damascus, and the Lord
from Heaven called to him: "Saul, Saul, wherefore persecutest thou Me?" – and
I am here, and I am there, I am everywhere: here is My head; there is My body.
There becomes nothing of a surprise in this; we ourselves – are members
of the Body of Christ. "Saul, Saul, wherefore persecutest thou Me; it
is terrible to thee to kick against the goad" (Acts 9: 4-5). Saul, however, "trembling
and frightened", cried out: "Who art Thou, Lord?" I am Jesus, – answered
the Lord to him, – Whom thou persecutest". And Saul suddenly undergoes
a change: "What wantest Thou me to do?" – he cries out. And
suddenly for him there is the Voice: "Rise up and go to the city, and
it will be told thee, what thou ought to do" (Acts 9: 6). Here the Lord
sends Ananias: "Rise up go upon the street" to a man, "by the
name of Saul", and baptise him, "for this one is a vessel chosen
by Me, to bear My Name before pagans and rulers and the sons of Israel" (Acts
9: 11, 15, 18). This vessel mustneeds be filled with My Grace. "Ananias
however answered: Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil
he hath done to Thine saints in Jerusalem: and to be here to have the authority
from the high-priests to seize all calling upon Thy Name" (Acts 9: 13-14).
But the Lord urgently commands Ananias: "Search for and fetch him, for
this vessel is chosen by Me: for I shalt tell him, how much mustneeds be for
him to suffer about My Name" (Acts 9: 11, 15-16).
And actually the Lord did direct the Apostle Paul, what things he had to
suffer for His Name. He instructed him the deeds; He did not stop at the
fetters, the prisons and shipwrecks; He Himself felt for him in his sufferings,
He Himself guided him towards this day. On a single day is done the memory
of the sufferings of both these Apostles, though they suffered on separate
days, but by the spirit and the closeness of their suffering they constitute
one. Peter went first, Paul followed soon after him, – formerly called
Saul, and then Paul, having transformed in himself his pride into humility,
as means also his very name (Paulus), meaning "small, little, less", – demonstrates
this. What is the Apostle Paul after this? Ask him, and he himself gives answer
to this: "I am, – says he, – the least of the Apostles: but
moreso than all I have laboured, yet not I, but the grace of God, which is
with me" (1 Cor. 15: 9-10).
And so, brethren, celebrating now the memory of the holy Apostles Peter and
Paul, remembering their venerable sufferings, we esteem their true faith
and holy life, we esteem the innocence of their sufferings and pure confession.
Loving in them the sublime quality and imitating them by great exploits, "in
which to be likened to them" (2 Thess. 3: 5-9), and we shall attain to
that eternal bliss which is prepared for all the saints. The path of our life
before was more grievous, thornier, harder, but "how great the cloud of
witnesses enveloping us" (Hebr. 12: 1), having passed by along it, made
now for us easier, and lighter, and more readily-passable. First there passed
along it "the Founder and Fulfiller of faith" our Lord Jesus Christ
Himself (Hebr. 12: 2); His daring Apostles followed after Him; then the martyrs,
children, women, virgins and a great multitude of witnesses. Who acted in them
and helped them on this path? – He that said: "Without Me ye are
able to do nothing" (Jn. 15: 5).
Synaxis of the Holy, Glorious and All-praised Twelve Apostles:
Peter, Andrew, James and John the sons of Zebedee, Philip, Bartholomew,
Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Jude the brother of
James, Simon the Zealot, Matthias
Commemorated on June 30/July 13
(Assemblage) of the Glorious and All-Praiseworthy 12 Apostles of
Christ appears an ancient feast. Holy Church, – honouring
each of the 12 Apostles at a separate time of the year, from
ancient times established a general commemoration of them on
the day following
after the commemoration of the Glorious and First-Ranked among
the Apostles Peter and Paul (+ c. 67). An account about each
of the Apostles is on the day of his individual commemoration:
Apostle Peter (+ c. 67; Comm. 29 June); the Apostle Andrew the
First-Called (+ 62, Comm. 30 November); the Apostle James son
of Zebedee (+ 44, Comm. 30 April); the Apostle and Evangelist
the Theologian (+ early II Century, Comm. 26 September); Apostle
Philip (Comm. 14 November); Apostle Bartholomew (Comm. 11 June);
Apostle Thomas (Comm. 6 October); Apostle and Evangelist Matthew
(+ 60, Comm. 16 November); Apostle James Alphaeus (Comm. 9 October);
Apostle Jude, brother of the Lord (+ c. 80, Comm. 19 June); Apostle
Simon Zelotes (Comm. 10 May); Apostle Matthias (+ c. 63, Comm.
The holy nobleborn emperor Constantine the Great (306-337) built at Tsar'grad
a temple in the name of the holy Twelve Apostles. Directions for the celebrating
of this feast are encountered from the IV Century.
[trans. note: Vide for varying-name Apostle lists: Mt. 10: 2, Mk. 3: 14, Lk.
6: 12, Acts 1: 13, 26].
Holy and Wonderworking Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian, martyrs
Commemorated on July 1/July 14
The Holy Martyrs,
Wonderworkers and UnMercenaries Cosmas and Damian – were brothers by birth, born at Rome, and physicians
by profession. They accepted a martyr's death at Rome under the
emperor Carinus (283-284). They were brought up by their parents
in the rules of piety, they led strict and chaste lives, and they
were granted by God the graced gift of healing the sick. By their
good and unselfish attitude towards people, combined with their
exceptional kindliness, the brothers converted many to Christ.
The saints usually said to the sick: "It be not by our power
that we treat the sick, but by the power of Christ, the True God.
Believe in Him and be healed". For their unselfish doctoring
of the infirm, the holy brothers were called "unmercenary
Their active service towards neighbour and spiritual influence on the surroundings,
leading many into the Church, attracted the attention of the Roman authorities.
Soldiers were sent after the brothers. Hearing about this, Christians implored
Saints Cosmas and Damian to hide themselves away for a while until they could
render them help. But the soldiers, not finding the brothers, arrested instead
other Christians of the settlement, where the saints lived. Saints Cosmas and
Damian then came out of hiding and delivered themselves over into the hands
of the soldiers, asking them to set free those arrested because of them.
At Rome, the saints were at first locked up in prison, and then were taken
for trial. The saints openly confessed before the Roman emperor and the judge
their faith in Christ God, having come into the world to save mankind and
redeem the world from sin, and they resolutely refused to offer sacrifice
to the pagan
gods. They said: "We have caused evil for no one, we have not involved
ourselves with the magic or sorcery, of which you accuse us. We doctor the
infirm by the power of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and we do not take
any sort of recompense for rendering aid to the sick, because our Lord commanded
His disciples: "Freely ye have received, freely give" (Mt. 10:
The emperor however continued with his demands. Through the prayer of the
holy brothers, imbued with the power of grace, God suddenly struck Carinus
so that he too in his own experience might know the almightiness of the Lord,
not forgiving blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The people, beholding the
miracle, cried out: "Great is the Christian God and no other is God, except
Him!" Many of those that believed besought the holy brothers to heal
the emperor, and he himself implored the saints, promising to convert to
God Christ the Saviour. The saints healed him. After this, Saints Cosmas
and Damian were with honour set free and again they set about doctoring the
But what the hatred of the pagans and the ferocity of the Roman authorities
could not do, was done by black envy, one of the strongest passions of the
sinful nature of man. An older physician – an instructor, under whom
in their time the holy brothers had studied the medical craft, became jealous
of their fame. Driven to madness by this malice, and all overcome by passion,
he summoned the holy brothers, formerly his most beloved students, that they
should all get together for a gathering of various medicinal herbs, and setting
far off into the mountains, he murdered them, throwing their bodies into
Thus as martyrs ended the earthly journey of these holy brothers – the
Unmercenary Healers Cosmas and Damian. They had devoted all their life to
a Christian service to neighbour, having escaped the Roman sword and prison,
but treacherously murdered by a teacher.
The Lord glorified His God-pleasing ones. And now through the prayers of the
holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian is received healing from God for all,
who with faith recourse to their saintly intercession.
The Placing of the Honorable Robe of the Most Holy Theotokos at
Blachernae (5th c.)
Commemorated on July 2/July 15
of the Venerable Robe of the MostHoly Mother of God at Blakhernae:
During the years of the reign of
emperor Leo the Great the Macedonian (457-474), the brothers
Galbius and Candidus, associates of the emperor, set out from Constantinople
to Palestine to venerate at the holy places. In a small settlement
near Nazareth they stopped for overnight lodging with a certain
quite aged Hebrew woman. In her house the burning of candles
smoking incense caught the attention of the pilgrims. To their
questions, as to what sort of sacred thing there was in her house,
the pious woman for a long time did not want to give an answer,
but after persistent requests she replied, that she had a very
precious sacred item – the Robe of the Mother of God, from
which had occurred many miracles and healings. The MostHoly Virgin
before the time of Her Dormition ("Falling-Asleep" or "Repose")
bequeathed one of her garments to a pious Jewish maiden from
the family-lineage of this house, having instructed her to hand
on after death to another virgin. Thus, from generation to generation,
the Robe of the Mother of God was preserved in this family.
The jewelled chest, containing the sacred Robe, was transferred to Constantinople.
Saint Gennadios, Patriarch of Tsar'grad-Constantinople (+ 471, Comm. 31 August),
and the emperor Leo, having learned of the sacred find, convinced themselves
of the incorruptness of the holy Robe and with trembling they certified its
authenticity. At Blakhernae, near the seacoast, there was erected a new church
in honour of the Mother of God. On 2 June 458 Sainted Gennadios with appropriate
solemnity transferred the sacred Robe into the Blakhernae church, placing it
within a new reliquary.
Afterwards into the reliquary, together with the Robe of the Mother of God,
was put also Her omophorion (i.e. the outer or over-robe) and part of Her
belt-sash. This circumstance also set its seal upon the Orthodox iconography
of the feast,
in conjoining the two events: the Placing of the Robe, and the Placing of
the Belt-Sash of the Mother of God in Blakhernae. The Russian pilgrim Stefan
visiting Tsar'grad in about the year 1350, testifies: "We arrived at Blakhernae,
wherein lies the Robe upon an altar-throne in an imprinted reliquary".
More than once during the invasion of enemies the MostHoly Mother of God
saved the city, to which She had bestown Her holy Robe. Thus it happened
time of a siege of Constantinople by the Avars in 626, by the Persians – in
677, and by the Arabs – in the year 717. Especially relevant for us
are events of the year 860, intimately connected with the history of the
On 18 June 860 the Russian fleet of prince Askol'd, in a force comprising
more than 200 boats, having laid waste the coastal regions of the Black Sea
the Bosphorus, entered into the Bay of the Golden Horn and threatened Constantinople.
The Russian ships sailed into sight of the city, setting ashore troops who "proceeded
before the city, stretching forth their swords". The emperor Michael
III (842-867), leaving off his heading of a campaign against the Arabs, returned
to the capital; all night he prayed, prostrate down upon the stone tiles
the church of the Blakhernae Mother of God. Holy Patriarch Photios turned
to his flock with preaching, calling for tears of repentance to wash away
and in fervent prayer to seek the intercession of the MostHoly Mother of
The danger grew with each passing hour. "The city was barely able to stand
against a spear", – says Patriarch Photios in another of his sermons.
Under these conditions the decision was made to save the church holy-things,
and foremost – the holy Robe of the Mother of God, which was kept in
the Blakhernae church, not far from the shore of the bay. After making an all-night
molieben, and taking it out from the Blakhernae church, they carried the sacred
Robe of the Mother of God in religious procession around the city walls, with
a prayer they dipped its edge into the waters of the Bosphorus, and then they
transported it to the centre of Tsar'grad – into the church of Saint
Sophia. The Mother of God by Her grace gave shelter and quelled the militance
of the Russian warriors. An honourable truce was concluded. Askol'd lifted
the siege of Constantinople. On 25 June the Russian army began to leave,
taking with them a large tribute payment. A week afterwards, on 2 July, the
Robe of the Mother of God was solemnly returned to its place in the reliquary
of the Blakhernae church. In remembrance of these events an annual feastday
of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God was established under 2 July
by holy Patriarch Photios.
Soon, in October-November of the year 860, a Russian delegation arrived in
Constantinople for concluding a treaty "in love and peace". In
the conditions of the peace treaty they included articles about the Baptism
Kievan Rus', about the payment of an annual tribute by the Byzantines to
the Russians, permission for them to serve with the Byzantine army, to carry
trade in the territory of the empire (primarily in Constantinople), and to
send a diplomatic mission to Byzantium.
Most important was the point about the Baptism of Rus'. The continuator of
the Byzantine "Theophanes Chronicles" relates, that "their delegation
arrived in Tsar'grad with a request for them to be made participants in holy
Baptism, which also was fulfilled". An Orthodox mission was sent to
Kiev to fulfill this mutual wish of the Russians and the Greeks. Not very
this (in 855) holy Equal to the Apostles Cyril (Kirill) the Philosopher (+
869, Comm. 14 February and 11 May) had crafted a Slavonic alphabet and translated
the Gospel. With the mission to Kiev essentially in particular there was
sent Saint Cyril with his brother, the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Methodios
Comm. 6 April and 11 May), together with books translated into Slavonic.
This was at the initiative of Sainted Photios, whose student Saint Cyril
brothers spent the winter of 860/861 at Kherson (Chersonessus), and in the
spring of 861 they were at the River Dneipr, with prince Askol'd.
There stood a difficult choice facing prince Askol'd, just as afterwards
it faced holy prince Vladimir: both the Jews on the one hand and the Mahometans
on the other wanted to bring him into their faith. But under the graced influence
of Saint Cyril, the prince made his choice in favour of Orthodoxy. At the
of the year 861 Cyril and Methodios returned to Constantinople and carried
with them from prince (or, as the Kievan princes called themselves during
the IX-XI Centuries, "kagan") Askol'd to emperor Michael III. Askol'd
thanked the emperor for sending him "such men, who showed by both word
and by example, that the Christian faith – is holy". "Persuaded, – Askol'd
further wrote, – that this is the true faith, we bid them to baptise
at their intent in the hope for us also to attain sanctity. We are all – friends
of the kingdom and prepared to be of service to thee, as requested".
Askol'd accepted holy Baptism with the name Nikolai, and many also of his
retinue were baptised. Right directly from Tsar'grad, the capital of Orthodoxy,
the efforts of the holy Apostles to the Slavs there arrived in Rus' both
the Slavonic Divine-services and the Slavonic written-language. At Kiev Saint
appointed the Metropolitan Michael, and the Russian metropolitan was entered
into the notation-lists of dioceses of the Constantinople Patriarchate. Holy
Patriarch Photios in a Circular missive of the year 867 called the Baptism
of the Bulgarians and the Russians as among the chief accomplishments of
his arch-hierarchical service. "The Russians, which lifted their hand against
the Roman might, – he wrote, almost quoting literally from the missive
of Askol'd, – at the present time replaced even the impious teaching,
which they held to formerly, with the pure and genuine Christian faith, and
with love having established themselves in the array of our friends and subjects".
(The Byzantines reckoned as "subjects" all accepting Baptism from
Tsar'grad and entering into military alliance with the empire.) "And to
such an extent has flared up within them the desire and zeal of faith, that
they have accepted bishops and pastors, and they embrace Christian sanctity
with great zeal and fervour".
The feastday of the Placement of the Robe of the MostHoly Mother of God in
Blakhernae reveals itself also as a feastday of the canonical establishing
of the Russian Orthodox metropolitanate in Kiev. By the blessing of the Mother
of God and by the miracle from Her holy Robe was accomplished not only the
salvation of Tsar'grad from the most terrible siege in all its history, but
also the salvation of the Russians from the darkness of pagan superstition,
to life eternal. Together with this, the year 860 brought recognition to Kievan
Rus' from Byzantium, and it signified an equitably-justified emergence of the
young Russian realm into the arena of history.
The attempt of prince Askol'd to renew the Christian evangelisation begun
by the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, and intended by him as a religious
and state reform, ended unsuccessfully. The time of affirmation of Christianity
in the Russian Land had not yet come. The adherents of the old paganism were
too strong, and the princely power was too weak. In the clash of Askol'd
the pagan Oleg in 882 the Kievans betrayed their prince – Askol'd accepted
a martyr's death at the hand of hired killers, tricked by deceit into the
camp of his enemies for talks.
But the deed of Blessed Askol'd (the Ioakimov Chronicle calls him such) was
not extinguished in the Russian Church. Oleg the Sage, having killed Askol'd,
after him occupied the Kiev princedom, and called Kiev the "Mother of
Russian Cities" – this is a literal translation of the Greek expression "Russian
metropolia" (i.e. "mater-polis"). The most ancient chronicles
of Kiev preserved the grateful memory of the first Kievan Christian-prince:
the church of the Prophet of God Elias, built by Askol'd and afterwards mentioned
in the Treaty of Igor with the Greeks (in year 944), is on the place where
at present stands the church of this name, and there is also the church of
Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, erected in the decade of the 950's over the
grave of Askol'd by holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Ol'ga. The most important achievement
of Askol'd, entering forever into the Church-inheritance not only of Rus',
but of also all Orthodox Slavdom – is the Slavonic Gospel and Slavonic
Divine-services, rendered such by the work of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles
Cyril and Methodios. In Kiev at the court of Askol'd in 861 was set the beginning
of their apostolic activity among the Slavs, and continued afterwards in Moravia
and Bulgaria. Following Blessed Askol'd, speaking the words of the ancient "Alphabetic
Prayers", "there soars in flight now the Slavonic tribe – to
Baptism all striving".
With the miracle of the Robe of the MostHoly Mother of God at Blakhernae
are connected several outstanding works of Byzantine Church hymnology and
To Saint Photios belong two sermons, one of which was given by him immediately
within days of the siege of Constantinople, and the other – soon after
the departure of the Russian forces. And with the campaign of Askol'd against
Tsar'grad is connected also the composition of a remarkable "Akathist
to the MostHoly Mother of God", the source of which certain Church histories
ascribe also to holy Patriarch Photios. This Akathist comprises a basic part
of the Divine-services of the day of Praise to the MostHoly Mother of God (i.e.
the "Saturday of the Akathist" – Saturday in the 4th Week
of Great Lent).
It is not only Byzantine sources that relate the events of the year 860,
but also Russian historical chronicles. The Monk Nestor the Chronicler, stressing
the significance of the Russian campaign against Tsar'grad, notes that from
this time "it was begun to be called the Russian Land". Certain
of the chronicles, among them the Ioakimov and Nikonov, preserved accounts
the Baptism of Prince Askol'd and Kievan Rus' after the campaign against
Tsar'grad. The popular commemoration concerning this is firmly associated
with the names
of the Kievan princes Askol'd and Dir, although in the opinion of historians,
Dir was prince of Kiev somewhat earlier than Askol'd.
The veneration of the feast of the Robe-placing was known of old in the Russian
Church. Saint Andrei Bogoliubsky (+ 1174, Comm. 4 July) erected in the city
of Vladimir at the Golden Gates a church in honour of this feastday. At the
end of the XIV Century part of the Robe of the Mother of God was transferred
from Constantinople to Rus' by Sainted Dionysii, Archbishop of Suzdal' (+ 1385,
Comm. 26 June).
The holy Robe of the Mother of God, earlier having saved the capital of Byzantium,
later also saved the capital Moscow from hostilities. Tatars of the Horde of
the princeling Mazovshi in the Summer of 1451 approached beneathe the walls
of Moscow. Saint Jona, Metropolitan of Moscow, by means of constant prayer
and church services encouraged the defenders of the capital. On the night of
2 July, relates the chronicle, great confusion occurred within the Tatar camp.
the enemy abandoned their plundered goods and in disarray speedily departed.
In memory of the miraculous deliverance of Moscow, the metropolitan Saint Jona
erected in the Kremlin the church in honour of the Robe-placing, making it
his primary church. It burned, but in its place thirty years afterwards was
built in the years 1484-1486 a new church, likewise dedicated to the feast
of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God. This temple, standing at present,
continued to serve as the primary church of Russian metropolitans and patriarchs
until the cathedral of the Twelve Apostles was built under patriarch Nikon.
Martyr Hyacinth of Caesarea in Cappadocia
Commemorated on July 3/July 16
The Holy Martyr
Jacinthus (Hyacinth), a native of Caesarea Cappadocia, grew up
in a Christian family. The Roman
emperor Trajan made
him his "cubicularius" (bed-chamberlain).
Once during the time of a pagan festival the emperor Trajan was feasting in
a pagan-temple together with his companions, eating of the idol-offered food,
but the youth Jacinthus, having remained at the palace, shut himself up in
a small room and prayed fervently to the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the servants
overheard the words of prayer. He made a denunciation to the emperor, that
Jacinthus, entrusted with an imperial position, did not honour the Roman gods
but was secretly praying to Christ.
They immediately arrested Saint Jacinthus and led him to Trajan. The emperor
demanded that he eat of the idol-offered meat, but the saint bravely refused
and declared himself a Christian. By order of Trajan, they locked up the holy
martyr in prison after fierce tortures, and they exhausted him with hunger
and thirst, so as to force him to eat of idolatrous food. On the 38th day,
one of the guards, bringing the idol-offering meat, saw Angels alongside the
martyr, dressing him in bright attire and placing on his head a crown.
The torturers decided to continue with the trial over the saint, but they found
him in prison already dead. The twelve year old Jacinthus died in the year
108 in the city of Rome. They afterwards transferred the relics of the saint
St. Andrew, archbishop of Crete (712-726)
Commemorated on July 4/July 17
Sainted Andrew, Archbishop of Crete, was born in the city of
Damascus into a pious Christian family. Up until seven years of
age the boy was mute and did not talk. However, after communing
the Holy Mysteries of Christ he found the gift of speech and began
to speak. And from that time the lad began earnestly to study Holy
Scripture and the discipline of theology.
At fourteen years of age he went off to Jerusalem and there he
accepted monastic tonsure at the monastery of Saint Sava the
Sanctified. Saint Andrew led a strict
and chaste life, he was meek and abstinent, such that all were amazed at
his virtue and reasoning of mind. As a man of talent and known
for his virtuous
life, over the passage of time he came to be numbered amongst the Jerusalem
clergy and was appointed a secretary for the Patriarchate – a writing
clerk. In the year 680 the locum tenens of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, Theodore,
included archdeacon Andrew amongst the representatives of the Holy City sent
to the Sixth OEcumenical Council, and here the saint contended against heretical
teachings, relying upon his profound knowledge of Orthodox doctrine. Shortly
after the Council he was summoned back to Constantinople from Jerusalem and
he was appointed archdeacon at the church of Saint Sophia, the Wisdom of God.
During the reign of the emperor Justinian II (685-695) Saint Andrew was ordained
bishop of the city of Gortineia on the island of Crete. In his new position
he shone forth as a true luminary of the Church, a great hierarch – a
theologian, teacher and hymnographer.
Saint Andrew wrote many a Divine-service song. He was the originator of a
new liturgical form – the canon. Of the canons composed by him the best known
is the Great Penitential Canon, including within its 9 odes the 250 troparia
recited during the Great Lent. In the First Week of Lent at the service of
Compline it is read in portions (thus called "methymony" [trans.
note: from the useage in the service of Compline of the "God is with us",
in Slavonic the "S'nami Bog", or in Greek "Meth' Humon ho Theos",
from which derives "methymony"], and again on Thursday of the Fifth
Week at the All-night Vigil during Matins.
Saint Andrew of Crete gained reknown with his many praises of the All-Pure
Virgin Mary. To him are likewise ascribed: the Canon for the feast of the Nativity
of Christ, three odes for the Compline-service of Palm Sunday and also in the
first four days of Holy Passion Week, as well as verses for the feast of the
Meeting of the Lord, and many another church-song. His hynographic tradition
was continued by the churchly great melodists of following ages: Saints John
of Damascus, Cosma of Maium, Joseph the Melodist, Theophan the Written-upon.
There have also been preserved edifying Sermons of Saint Andrew for certain
of the Church feasts.
Church historians are not of the same opinion as to the date of death of
the saint. One suggests the year 712, while others – the year 726.
He died on the island of Mytilene, while returning to Crete from Constantinople,
he had been on churchly business. His relics were transferred to Constantinople.
In the year 1350 the pious Russian pilgrim Stefan Novgorodets saw the relics
at the Constantinople monastery named for Saint Andrew of Crete.
Venerable Athanasius of Mt. Athos (1003) and his six disciples
Commemorated on July 5/July 18
The Monk Athanasias of Athos, in holy Baptism named Abraham,
was born in the city of Trapezund. He was early left orphaned,
and being raised by a certain good and pious nun, he copied his
adoptive mother in the habits of monastic life, in fasting and
in prayer. Doing his lessons came easily and he soon outpaced his
peers in study.
After the death of his adoptive mother, Abraham was taken to Constantinople,
to the court of the then Byzantine emperor Romanos the Elder, and was enrolled
as a student under the reknown rhetorician Athanasias. In a short while the
student attained the mastery of skill of his teacher and he himself became
an instructor of youths. Reckoning as the true life that of fasting and vigilance,
Abraham led a life strict and abstinent, he slept little and then only sitting
upon a stool, and barley bread and water were his nourishment. When his teacher
Athanasias through human weakness became jealous of his student, blessed Abraham
quit his teaching and went away.
During these days there had arrived at Constantinople the Monk Michael Maleinos
(Comm. 12 July), hegumen of the Kimineia monastery. Abraham told the hegumen
about his life, and revealed to him his secret desire to become a monk. The
holy elder, discerning in Abraham a chosen vessel of the Holy Spirit, became
fond of him and taught him much in questions of salvation. One time during
their spiritual talks Saint Michael was visited by his nephew, Nicephoros Phokas,
a reknown military officer and future emperor. The lofty spirit and profound
mind of Abraham impressed Nicephoros, and all his life he regarded the saint
with reverent respect and with love. Abraham was consumed by his zeal for the
monastic life. Having forsaken everything, he went to the Kimineia monastery
and, falling down at the feet of the holy hegumen, he besought to be received
into the monastic form. The hegumen fulfilled his request with joy and gave
him monastic vows with the name Athanasias.
With long fasts, vigils, bending of the knees, with works night and day Athanasias
soon attained such perfection, that the holy hegumen blessed him for the exploit
of silence in a solitary place not far from the monastery. Later on, having
left Kimineia, he made the rounds of many a desolate and solitary place, and
guided by God, he came to a place called Melanos, at the very extremity of
Athos, settling far off from the other monastic dwellings. Here the monk made
himself a cell and began to asceticise in works and in prayer, proceeding from
exploit to exploit towards higher monastic attainment.
The enemy of mankind tried to arouse in Saint Athanasias hatred for the place
chosen by him, and assaulted him with constant suggestions in thought. The
ascetic decided to suffer it out for a year, and then wherever the Lord should
direct him, he would go. On the last day of this year's length of time, when
Saint Athanasias set about to prayer, an Heavenly Light suddenly shone upon
him, filling him with an indescribable joy, all the thoughts dissipated,
and from his eyes welled up graced tears. From that moment Saint Athanasias
the gift of tenderness ("umilenie"), and the place of his solitude
he became as strongly fond of as before he had loathed it. During this time
Nicephoros Phokas, having had enough of military exploits, remembered his
vow to become a monk and from his means he besought the Monk Athanasias to
a monastery, i.e. to build cells for him and the brethren, and a church where
the brethren could commune the Divine Mysteries of Christ on Sundays.
Tending to shun cares and worries, Blessed Athanasias at first would not agree
to accept the hateful gold, but seeing the fervent desire and good intent of
Nicephoros, and discerning in this the will of God, he set about the building
of the monastery. He erected a large church in honour of the holy Prophet and
Forerunner of Christ John the Baptist, and another church at the foot of an
hill, in the name of the MostHoly Virgin Mother of God. Around the church were
the cells, and a wondrous monastery arose on the Holy Mount. In it were arrayed
a refectory, an hospice for the sick and for taking in wanderers, and other
Brethren flocked to the monastery from everywhere, not only from Greece,
but also from other lands – simple people and illustrious dignitaries,
wilderness-dwellers having asceticised long years in the wilderness, hegumens
from many a monastery
and hierarchs wanting to become simple monks in the Athos Laura of Saint
The saint established at the monastery a life-in-common ("coenobitic")
monastic-rule on the model of the old Palestinian monasteries. Divine-services
were made with all strictness, and no one made bold to chatter during the
time of service, nor to come late or leave without need from the church.
The Heavenly Patroness of Athos, the All-Pure Mother of God Herself, was
graciously disposed towards the saint. Many a time he was granted to behold
eyes. By the sufferance of God there once occurred such an hunger, that the
monks one after the other quit the Laura. The saint remained all alone and
in a moment of weakness he also considered leaving. Suddenly he beheld a
Woman beneathe an aethereal veil, coming to meet him. "Who art thou and whither
goest?" – She asked quietly. Saint Athanasias from an innate deference
halted. "I am a monk from here", – answered Saint Athanasias
and told about himself and his worries. "And on account of a morsel of
dry bread thou would forsake the monastery, which was intended for glory from
generation unto generation? Where is thy faith? Turn round, and I shalt help
thee". "Who art Thou?", – asked Athanasias. "I am
the Mother of thy Lord", – She answered and bid Athanasias to
strike his staff upon a stone, such that from the fissure there shot forth
of water, which exists even now, in remembrance of this miraculous visitation.
The brethren grew in number, and the construction work at the Laura continued.
The Monk Athanasias, foreseeing the time of his departure to the Lord, prophesied
about his impending end and besought the brethren not to be troubled over
what he foresaw. "For Wisdom disposeth otherwise than people do judge".
The brethren were perplexed and pondered over the words of the saint. Having
bestown on the brethren his final guidance and comforted all, Saint Athanasias
entered his cell, put on his mantle and holy kukol'-headpiece, which he wore
only on great feasts, and after prolonged prayer he emerged. Alert and joyful,
the holy hegumen went up with six of the brethren to the top of the church
to look over the construction. Suddenly, through the imperceptible will of
God, the top of the church collapsed. Five of the brethren immediately gave
up their spirit to God. The Monk Athanasias and the architect Daniel, thrown
upon the stones, remained alive. All heard, as the monk called out to the Lord: "Glory
to Thee, O God! Lord, Jesus Christ, help me!" The brethren with great
weeping began to dig out their father from amidst the rubble, but they found
him already dead.
Uncovering of the relics (1422) of Venerable Sergius of Radonezh
Commemorated on July 5/July 18
of the Venerable Relics of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh: The relics
of the Monk Sergei (+ 1392,
Comm. 25 September)
were uncovered on 5 July 1422 during a time when the Monk Nikon
(+ 1426, Comm. 17 November) was hegumen. In the year 1408, when
Moscow and its surroundings suffered invasion by the Tatar horde
of Edigei, the Trinity monastery was devastated and burnt, and
the monks headed by the hegumen Nikon hid themselves in the forests,
saving the icons, sacred vessels, books and other holy things
connected with the memory of the Monk Sergei. In a vision by night
eve of the Tatar incursion the Monk Sergei informed his disciple
and successor about the coming tribulations and foretold in consolation,
that the vexation would not be prolonged but rather that the
monastery, arising from the ashes, would flourish and grow even
Philaret wrote about this in the "Life of the Monk Sergei": "In
semblance to this, that it suited Christ to suffer, and through
the cross and death to enter into the glory of the Resurrection,
so also doth it become everyone, that wouldst be blest by Christ
in the length of days in glory, to be tested by one's own cross
and death". Going through its own fiery cleansing, the monastery
of the Life-Originating Trinity was resurrected in the length
of days, and the Monk Sergei himself rose up, so that forevermore
his holy relics should dwell within it.
Before the beginning of construction of the new temple in the
Name of the Life-Originating Trinity upon the spot of the former
wooden one (which was consecrated on 25
September 1412), the Monk Sergei appeared to a certain pious layman and bid
him inform the hegumen and the brethren: "Why do ye leave me such a while
in the grave, covered over by ground and in the water, constraining my body?" And
herewith during the construction of the cathedral, when they dug the ditches
for the foundations, the undecayed relics of the Monk Sergei were uncovered
and brought up, and all were astonished, that not only the body, but also the
clothing upon him was undecayed, although round about the grave there actually
stood water. Amidst a large throng of the devout and the clergy, in the presence
of the son of Dimitrii Donskoi – the prince of Zvenigorod Yurii Dimitrievich
(+ 1425), the holy relics were brought up from the ground and placed temporarily
in the wooden Trinity church (at this spot is located now the church of the
Descent of the Holy Spirit). With the consecration in 1426 of the stone Trinity
cathedral the relics were transferred into it, where at present they remain.
All the threads of the spiritual life of the Russian Church converge towards
the great Radonezh saint and wonderworker, and through all of Orthodox Rus'
the graced life-creating currents extend outwards from the Trinity monastery
founded by him.
Naming a church for the Holy Trinity within the Russian land began with holy
Equal-to-the-Apostles Ol'ga (+ 969, the account about her is under 11 July),
who erected the first Trinity temple at Pskov. Afterwards there were erected
similar churches in Great Novgorod and other cities.
The spiritual contribution of the Monk Sergei in the teaching of theology
about the Holy Trinity is quite significant. The monk had profound insight
secret mysteries of theology with the "mental eyes" of the ascetic – in
prayerful ascent to the Tri-Hypostatic (i.e. in Three-Persons) God, and in
the spiritual experience of communion with God and God-likeness.
"Co-heirs of the perfect light and contemplation of the MostHoly and All-Sovereign
Trinity, – explained Saint Gregory the Theologian, – are those which
become perfectly co-united in the perfection of the Spirit". The Monk Sergei
knew experientially the mystery of the Life-Originating Trinity, since in his
life he became co-united with God, he became a communicant to the very life of
the Divine Trinity, i.e. he attained as much as is possible on earth to the measure
of "theosis" ("divinisation", "obozhenie"), becoming
a "partaker of the Divine nature" (2 Pet. 1: 4). "Whoso loveth
Me, – saith the Lord, – that one wilt keep to My word; and My Father
wilt love him, and We shalt come unto him and make abode with him" (Jn.
14: 23). Abba Sergei, in everything observing the commands of Christ, belongs
to the rank of holy saints in the souls of whom the Holy Trinity "hath made
abode"; he fashioned himself into "an abode of the Holy Trinity",
and everyone with whom the Monk Sergei associated, he elevated and brought
into communion unto the Holy Trinity.
The Radonezh ascetic, with his disciples and conversants, enriched the Russian
and the OEcumenical Church with a new knowledge and vision of the Life-Originating
Trinity, the Beginning and Source of life, manifesting Itself unto the world
and to mankind in the "Sobornost'" ("Communality") of
the Church, with brotherly unity and the sacrificial redemptive love of its
In the spiritually symbolic gathering together of Rus' in unity and love,
the historical effort of the nation became a temple of the Life-Originating
erected by the Monk Sergei, "so that by constant attention to It would
be conquered the fright of the hateful discord of this world".
The worship of the Holy Trinity, in forms created and bequeathed by the holy
Hegumen of Radonezh Sergei, became one of the most profound and original
of features of Russian ecclesiality. With the Monk Sergei, in the Life-Originating
Trinity there was posited not only the holy perfection of life eternal, but
also an image-model for human life, a spiritual ideal towards which mankind
ought to strive, since that in the Trinity as "Indivisible" ("Nerazdel'nyi",
Grk. "Adiairetos") discord is condemned and "Sobornost'" ("Communality")
is blest, and in the Trinity as "Inseparable" ("Neslyannyi", "Akhoristos", – per
Fourth OEcumenical Council at Chalcedon in year 451) coercion is condemned
and freedom blest. In the teaching of the Monk Sergei about the MostHoly
Trinity the Russian nation sensed profoundly its own catholic and ecumenical
and comprehending the universal significance of the feastday, the people
embellished it with all the variety and richness of the ancient national
custom and people's
verse. All the spiritual experience and spiritual striving of the Russian
Church was embodied in the liturgical creativity of the feast of the Holy
of trinitarian church rituals, icons of the Holy Trinity, and churches and
monasteries of this nomen.
The theological insight of the Monk Sergei in transformation was rendered as
the wonderworking icon of the Life-Originating Trinity written by the Monk
Andrei (Andrew) of Radonezh, surnamed Rublev (+ 1430, Comm. 4 July), a monk-iconographer,
monasticised in the Trinity-Sergiev monastery, and written at the blessing
of the Monk Nikon in praised memory to holy Abba Sergei. (At the Stoglav Council
of 1551 this icon was affirmed as proper model for all successive church iconographic
depiction of the MostHoly Trinity).
"The hateful discord", quarrels and commotions of worldly life were
surmounted by the monastic life-in-common, planted by the Monk Sergei throughout
all Rus'. People would not have divisions, quarrels and war, if human nature,
created by the Trinity in the image of the Divine Tri-Unity, were not distorted
and impaired by Originial sin. Overcoming by his own co-crucifixion with the
Saviour the sin of particularity and separation, repudiating the "my own" and
the "myself", and in accord with the teachings of Saint Basil the
Great, the life-in-common monks restore the First-created unity and sanctity
nature. The monastery of the monk Sergei became for the Russian Church the
model for suchlike renewal and rebirth, in it were formed holy monks, bearing
thereof features of the true path of Christ to remote regions. In all their
works and actions the Monk Sergei and his disciples churchified life, giving
a living example of its possibility. Not for renouncing the earth, but rather
for transfiguring it, they proclaimed ascent and they themselves ascended unto
The school of the Monk Sergei, through the monasteries founded by him, his
disciples and the disciples of his disciples, embraces all the vastness of
the Russian land and threads its way through all the remotest history of
the Russian Church. One fourth a portion of all Russian monasteries, the strongholds
of faith, piety and enlightenment, was founded by Abba Sergei or his disciples.
The "Hegumen of the Russian land" was what people called the founder
of the Domicile of the Life-Originating Trinity. The Monks Nikon and Mikhei
of Radonezh, Syl'vester of Obnorsk, Stefan of Makhrisch and Avraam of Chukhlomsk,
Athanasii of Serpukhov and Nikita of Borovsk, Theodore of Simonovsk and Pherapont
of Mozhaisk, Andronik of Moscow and Savva of Storozhevsk, Dimitrii of Prilutsk
and Kirill of Belozersk – they were all disciples and conversants of "the
wondrous elder", Sergei. Sainted-hierarchs Alexei and Kiprian – Metropolitans
of Moscow, Dionysii ArchBishop of Suzdal', and Stephen Bishop of Perm, were
associated with him in spiritual closeness. The Patriarchs of Constantinople
Kallistos and Philotheos dispatched missives to him and sent their blessings.
Through the Monks Nikita and Paphnutii of Borovsk threads a spiritual legacy
to the Monk Joseph of Volotsk and others of his disciples, and through Kirill
of Belozersk – to Nil Sorsky, to German, Savvatii and Zosima of Solovetsk.
The Church venerates also disciples and co-ascetics of the Monk Sergei, whose
memories are not specifically noted within the "Mesyatseslov" lists
of saints under their separate day. We remember, that the first to arrive for
the Monk Sergei at Makovets was the elder Vasilii the Gaunt ("Sukhoi"),
called such because of his incomparable fasting. Second was the Monk Yakuta,
i.e. Yakov (James), of simple peasant stock, who without a murmur spent long
years at the monastery on errands of drudgery and difficult obedience. Among
his other disciples, there came to the Monk Sergei his fellow countrymen from
Radonezh the Deacon Onisim and son Elisei. When 12 monks had gathered and the
constructed cells were fenced in by an high enclosure, the abba appointed Deacon
Onisim the gate-keeper, since his cell was outermost from the entrance to the
monastery. Under the protective shadow of the Holy Trinity monastery the Hegumen
Mitrophan spent his final years, – he it was who formerly had vowed the
Monk Sergei into the angelic form and guided him in monastic efforts. The grave
of dead and soon blest Starets Mitrophan became the first in the monastery
cemetery. In the year 1357 there arrived at the monastery from Smolensk the
Archimandrite Simon, who resigned his venerable position as head of one of
the Smolensk monasteries, to become a simple obedient of the God-bearing Radonezh
hegumen. In recompense for his great humility, the Lord granted him to share
in the miraculous vision of the Monk Sergei about the future increase of his
monastic flock. With the blessing of the abba, the Blessed elder Isaakii the
Silent took upon himself the deed of prayerful silence; his silence was more
instructive than any words for the monks and those outside. Only one time after
a year of silence did the Monk Isaakii open his mouth – to testify, how
he had seen an Angel of God serve together at the altar of the Monk Sergei,
in making the Divine Liturgy. An eyewitness of the grace of the Holy Spirit,
co-effectualised for the Monk Sergei, was also the ecclesiarch Simon, who once
saw, how an heavenly fire came down upon the Holy Mysteries and that the saint
of God "did commune the fire unburningly". The Elder Epiphanii (+
1420) was somewhat later, during the time of hegumen Nikon, a priest of the
Sergiev flock. The Church names him Epiphanii the Wise for his deep learning
and great spiritual talents. He is known as the compiler of the Life of the
Monk Sergei and of his conversant Saint Stephen of Perm in eulogy to them;
he wrote also the "Account of the Life and Repose of GreatPrince Dimitrii
Donskoi". The vita of the Monk Sergei, compiled by Epiphanii 26 years
after the death of the monk, i.e. in 1418, was later reworked by the Monk-hagiographer
Pakhomii the Serb, called the Logothete, who had come from Athos.
To the monk Sergei, as to an inexhaustible font of spiritual prayer and grace
of the Lord, at all times came in veneration thousands of the people – for
edification and for prayers, for help and for healing. And each of those
having recourse with faith to his wonderworking relics he heals and renews,
with power and with faith, transforms and guides upwards with his light-bearing
But it was not only spiritual gifts and graced healings bestown to all, approaching
with faith the relics of the Monk Sergei; to him likewise was given by God
the grace to defend against enemies of the Russian land. The monk by his
prayers was with the army of Dimitrii Donskoi at the Battle of Kulikovo Pole
("Field"), – he
even blessed to go to the military effort his own monks, Aleksandr Peresvet
and Andrei Oslyab. He directed Ivan the Terrible the place for erection of
the fortress of Sviyazhsk and helped in the victory over Kazan. During the
time of the Polish incursion the Monk Sergei appeared in a dream to the Nizhni
Novgorod citizen Kozma Minin, ordering him to gather funds and equip an army
for the liberation of Moscow and the Russian realm. And when in 1612 after
a molieben to the Holy Trinity the militia of Minin and Pozharsky moved on
towards Moscow, a propitious breeze fluttered the Orthodox standards, "as
though from the grave of the Wonderworker Sergei himself".
To the period of the Time of Troubles and the Polish incursion belongs the
heroic "Trinity sitting-tight", when many a monk with the blessing
of the hegumen Saint Dionysii repeated the military holy deed of the Sergiev
disciples Peresvyet and Oslyab. For one and an half years – from 23 September
1608 to 12 January 1610 – the Polish laid siege to the monastery of the
Life-Originating Trinity, hoping to plunder and destroy this sacred bulwark
of Orthodoxy. But by the intercession of the MostHoly Mother of God and through
the prayers of the Monk Sergei, "with much disgrace" they fled
finally from the walls of the monastery, pursued by Divine wrath, and soon
leader Lisovsky perished a cruel death on precisely the Monk Sergei's day
of memory, 25 September 1617. In 1618 the son of the Polish king, Vladislav,
right up to the walls of the Holy Trinity monastery. But being powerless
against the grace of the Lord guarding the monastery, he was compelled to
a peace-treaty with Russia at the monastery village of Deulino. After this
a church was erected in the name of the Monk Sergei.
In the year 1619 the Jerusalem patriarch, Theophanes, visited the Lavra amidst
his journey to Russia. He especially wanted to see those monks who in time
of military danger made bold to put over their monastic garb the chain-mail
coat and with weapon in hand to go up onto the walls of the holy monastery,
warding off the enemy. The Monk Dionysii the hegumen (+ 1633, the account about
him is under 12 May), in speaking about the defense, presented to the patriarch
more than twenty monks.
The first of them was Athanasii (Oscherin), very up in years and with the
yellowed greyness of an elder. The patriarch asked him: "Didst thou go to war and
lead soldiers?". The elder answered: "Yes, holy Vladyko, it was made
necessary by bloody tears". – "What is most proper for a monk – prayerful
solitude or military exploits before the people?" Blessed Athanasii, making
poklon, answered: "Every thing and every deed has its own time. Here on
my head is a Latin signature, from a weapon. There are six more memorials of
lead in my body. Sitting in the cell at prayer, could I indeed have found suchlike
inducements towards moaning and groaning? I did all this not at my own pleasure,
but for the blessing of the service of God sent us". Touched by the
wise answer of the humble monk, the patriarch blessed and hugged him. He
also the other soldier-monks and expressed his admiration to all the brethren
of the Lavra of the Monk Sergei.
The deed of the monastery, during this grievous Time of Troubles for all
the nation, was recorded by the steward Avraam (Palitsyn) in "An Account about
the Happenings of the Time of Troubles", and also by the steward Simon
Azar'in in two hagiographic collections: "Book about the Miracles of the
Monk Sergei" and the "Life of the Monk Dionysii of Radonezh".
In the year 1650 Simeon Shakhovsky compiled an akathist to the Monk Sergei,
as "valiant voevoda (military-leader)" of the Russian land, in
memory of the deliverance of the Trinity monastery from the enemy siege.
in existence to the Monk Sergei was compiled in the XVIII Century, and its
author is considered to be the Moscow metropolitan, Platon (Levshin, + 1812).
In the times following, the monastery continued to be an inextinguishable torch
of spiritual life and church enlightenment. From its brethren one after the
other were chosen for service many famed hierarchs of the Russian Church. In
the year 1744, for its service to the country and the faith, the monastery
was entitled a Lavra. In 1742 within its enclosure was established the religious
seminary, and in the year 1814 the Moscow Spiritual Academy was transferred
And at present the Domicile of the Life-Originating Trinity serves as one
of the primary centres of grace of the Russian Orthodox Church. Here at the
of the Holy Spirit are done the acts of the Local Councils of the Russian
Church. At the monastery is a place of residence of His Holiness the Patriarch
and All Rus', which carries upon it the special blessing of the Monk Sergei,
in the established form, "Archimandrite of the Holy Trinity Sergiev Lavra".
The fifth of July, the day of the Uncovering of the relics of holy Abba Sergei,
hegumen of the Russian Land – is a crowded and solemn church feastday
at the monastery.
Venerable Sisoes the Great of Egypt (429)
Commemorated on July 6/July 19
The Monk Sisoi
the Great (+ 429) was an hermit-monk, pursuing asceticism in the
Egyptian wilderness in a cave sanctified
the prayerful labours of his predecessor – the Monk Anthony
the Great (Comm. 17 January). For his sixty years of wilderness
the Monk Sisoi attained to sublime spiritual purity and he was
vouchsafed a gift of wonderworking, such that by his prayer he
even once returned a dead lad back to life.
Extremely strict with himself, the Monk Sisoi was very merciful
and compassionate to those nearby and he received everyone with
love. Those, who visited him,
the monk first of all always taught humility. To the question of one of the
monks as to how might he attain to a constant mindfulness of God, the monk
remarked: "That is still not of much consequence, my son, but more important
is this – to account oneself below everyone else, because such disparagement
assists in the acquisition of humility". Asked by the monks, whether one
year is sufficient for repentance in having fallen into sin against a brother, – the
Monk Sisoi said: "I believe in the mercy of God the Lover-of-Mankind,
and if a man repent with all his soul, then God wilt accept his repentance
in the course of three days".
When the Monk Sisoi lay upon his death-bed, the disciples surrounding the
elder saw that his face did shine. They asked the dying man what he saw.
answered, that he looked upon the prophets and apostles. The disciples asked,
with whom did the monk converse? He said that Angels had come for his soul,
and he had entreated them to give him a short bit of time yet for repentance. "Thou,
father, hast not need for repentance," – replied the students. But
the Monk Sisoi, with his great humility, answered: "I do not know for
sure whether I have even begun to make my repentance". After these words
the face of the holy abba shone so, that the brethren were not able to look
upon him. The monk had time to tell them that he saw the Lord Himself, and
his holy soul expired to the Heavenly Kingdom.
Venerable Thomas of Mt. Maleon (10th c.)
Commemorated on July 7/July 20
The Monk Thomas the Maleian was a military commander before accepting
monasticism. Powerful and brave, he had participated in many a
battle, and he brought victory to his countrymen, for which he
gained glory and esteem. But, striving with all his heart towards
God, Thomas left the world with its honours and he took monastic
With great humility he visited monastic-elders, asking of them guidance in
the spiritual life. After several years Thomas received the blessing for solitary
wilderness life and, strengthened in particular by a revelation through the
holy prophet of God Elias, he settled on Mount Maleia (eastern part of Athos).
Dwelling in complete seclusion, Saint Thomas fought with invisible enemies
with suchlike a courage, as before he had against the visible enemies of his
The life and deeds of Saint Thomas were not able to be concealed from the surrounding
area. People began to flock to him seeking spiritual guidance, and even those
suffering from sickness, since he received from God the blessing to heal infirmities.
Many believers received help through the prayers of the monk and upon his departure
to God (X).
Martyr Cyriaca (Domnica or Nedelja) of Nicomedia (289)
Commemorated on July 7/July 20
The Holy Martyress Kyriakia suffered for Christ at Nikomedia
during the time of a persecution under Diocletian. She was the
only daughter of the pious christians Dorotheos and Eusebia, who
had given a vow to dedicate their daughter to God.
At the beginning of the persecution Saints Dorotheos and Eusebia
were separated from their daughter and given over to trial under
the governor Justus, but
Saint Kyriakia was sent to Nikomedia to the co-ruler of Diocletian – Maximian
Hercules. The holy martyress firmly endured the tortures, praying to God.
The Lord worked many miracles to bring the idol-worshippers to their senses:
fell down in the pagan temples, just as they brought the saint there; wild
animals brought to the martyress lay down peacefully at her feet. Seeing
this, many pagans were converted to Christ. When the sentence of death was
Saint Kyriakia requested time for prayer. After a final prayer she peacefully
died, delivered by the Lord out of the hands of the Roman executioners (IV).
Holy Great-martyr Procopius of Caesarea in Palestine (303)
Commemorated on July 8/July 21
The Holy GreatMartyr
Procopius, in the world Neanius, a native of Jerusalem, lived and
suffered during the reign of
Diocletian (284-305). His father, an eminent Roman by the name
of Christopher, was a Christian, but the mother of the saint,
Theodosia, remained a pagan. He was early deprived of his father,
young lad was raised by his mother. Having received an excellent
secular education, he was introduced to Diocletian in the very
first year of the emperor's accession to the throne, and he quickly
advanced in government service. Towards the year 303, when open
persecution against Christians was enacted, Neanius was dispatched
as a proconsul to Alexandria with orders to mercilessly persecute
the Church of God. But on the way to Egypt, near the Syrian city
of Apameia, Neanius had a vision of the Lord Jesus, just as once
formerly had happened with Saul on the road to Damascus. A Divine
voice exclaimed: "Neanius, why persecutest thou Me?" Neanius
asked: "Who art Thou, Lord?" – "I am the crucified
Jesus, the Son of God". And at this moment in the air appeared
a radiant cross. Neanius sensed in his heart an inexpressible
joy and spiritual happiness and he was transformed from being
into instead a zealous follower of Christ. From this point in
time Neanius became fondly disposed towards Christians and struggled
victoriously only against the barbarian pagans.
But for the saint there transpired the words of the Saviour,
enemies for a man – are of his own household" (Mt. 10: 36). His
mother, a pagan herself went to the emperor with a complaint against her son,
of not reverencing the ancestral gods. Neanius was summoned to the procurator
Judaeus Justus, where he was solemnly handed the missive of Diocletian. Having
read through the missive filled with its blasphemies, Neanius quietly before
the eyes of everyone tore it up. This itself was already a crime, which the
Romans regarded as an "insult to authority". Neanius was held under
guard and in chains sent off to Caesarea Palestine, where the Apostle Paul
once languished. After terrible torments they threw the saint into a dank
prison. By night in the prison room there shone a light, and the Lord Jesus
Himself, having come with luminous Angels, made Baptism for the suffering
confessor, and gave him the name Procopius.
Repeatedly they led Saint Procopius to the courtroom, demanding him to renounce
Christ and anew they subjected him to tortures. The stolidity of the martyr
and his fiery faith brought down God's abundant grace viewing the execution.
Inspired by the deed of Procopius, beneathe the sword of the executioner went
many of the holy prisoner's former guards and Roman soldiers together with
their tribunes Nicostrates and Antiochus. And with martyr's crowns was sealed
the faith of 12 Christian Women, having themselves come to the gates of the
Caesarea Praetorium. Struck by the great faith of the Christians and their
courage, and having seen the firmness of her son in bearing terrible sufferings,
Theodosia became repentant and stood amidst the line of confessors and was
executed. Finally the new procurator, Flavian, convinced of the uselessness
of the tortures, sentenced the holy GreatMartyr Procopius to beheading by the
sword. By night Christians took up the much-tortured body, and having wrapped
it in grave-clothes, with tears and prayers they committed it to earth (+ 303).
Hieromartyr Pancratius, bishop of Taormina in Sicily (1st c.)
Commemorated on July 9/July 22
The PriestMartyr Pankratios, Bishop of Tauromeneia, was born
at a time, when our Lord Jesus Christ yet lived upon the earth.
The parents of Pankratios were natives of Antioch. Hearing about the good-news
of Jesus Christ, the father of Pankratios took his young son with him and set
off to Jerusalem, in order to see for himself personally the great Teacher.
The miracles astonished him, and when he heard the Divine teaching, he then
believed in Christ as the Son of God. He became close with the disciples of
the Lord, especially with the holy Apostle Peter. And it was during this period
that young Pankratios got to know the holy Apostle Peter.
After the Ascension of the Saviour one of the Apostles came to Antioch and
baptised the parents of Pankratios together with all their household. When
the parents of Pankratios died, he left behind his inherited possessions and
went to a Pontine mountain and began to live in a cave, passing his days in
prayer and deep spiritual contemplation. The holy Apostle Peter, one time passing
through these parts, made a visit to Pankratios at Pontus, and took him along
to Antioch, and then to Cilicia, where the holy Apostle Paul then was. And
there the holy Apostles Peter and Paul ordained Saint Pankratios as bishop
of the Cilician city of Tauromeneia.
Saint Pankratios toiled zealously for the Christian enlightenment of the people.
Over the course of a single month he built a church, where he celebrated Divine-services.
The number of believers quickly grew, and soon almost all the people of Tauromeneia
and the surrounding cities accepted the Christian faith.
Saint Pankratios governed his flock peacefully for many years. But one time
pagans connived against the saint, and seizing an appropriate moment, they
fell upon him and stoned him. Thus did Saint Pankratios end his life as a martyr
(I). The relics of the saint rest in the church named for him, at Rome.
St. Theodore, bishop of Edessa (848)
Commemorated on July 9/July 22
Sainted Theodore, Bishop of Edessa, was born in the Syrian city
of Edessa. All his life the holy saint was a bright witness of
the great deeds of God, glorified in His Saints.
At twelve years of age, having lost his parents and given away his inheritance
to the poor, he set out to Jerusalem, where at the Laura of the Monk Sava the
Sanctified he took monastic tonsure. After 12 years of fervent monastic obedience
and then another 24 years of full seclusion and great abstinence the Lord summoned
the valiant ascetic to be bishop, so that he might bring light to the world.
For after the death of the Edessa bishop, no more worthy a successor was found
than Theodore, and through the mutual assent of the Antioch and Jerusalem Patriarchs,
and likewise of both clergy and laity, this fine man was chosen bishop. It
was not easy for Saint Theodore to forsake his quietude, but he submitted himself
to the will of God and entered into the guidance of the Edessa Church. This
occurred during the reign of the Greek emperor Michael and his mother Theodora
(842-855). During the time of the episcopal imposition of hands over the Monk
Theodore, there occurred a great miracle. The people beheld a dove white like
snow, soaring about beneathe the cupola of the church, which then came down
upon the head of the newly-made bishop. Setting about the governance of his
flock, Saint Theodore devoted all his abilities to this service. He was a model
for the faithful in word, in life, in love, and by the good example of his
holy ascetic life he guided the flock, entrusted to him by God, onto the path
of salvation. Theodore exerted much effort in the struggle with heretics, and
with a firm hand he guarded the Church from temptations and errant thought.
By his consolation and support for Saint Theodore, the perspicacious elder
and pillar-dweller the Monk Theodosios likewise served the spiritual community,
while asceticising not far from the city near the monastery of the holy GreatMartyr
With the blessing of the elder, Saint Theodore undertook a journey to Baghdad
to the caliph Mavi with a complaint about unjust measures against the Orthodox.
Having come to Mavi, the saint found him seriously ill. Calling on the help
of the Lord, the holy bishop threw into a vessel with water a bit of earth
from the Sepulchre of the Lord and gave it to the caliph to drink, and the
sick one was healed. The grateful Mavi, favourably disposed towards the saint,
happily heard out his teachings and finally, together with three close associates
he accepted holy Baptism with the name John.
Shortly afterwards for his open confession of faith in Christ before the Mussulmans,
the caliph John was killed with his three close associates. Having appeared
in a dream simultaneously to Saint Theodore and to the Pillar-Dweller Theodosios,
he reported that he had been granted to suffer for Christ, being numbered among
the rank of the Martyrs, and he would soon meet the two of them in the Kingdom
of Heaven. This was an indication to the saint of God, that his own end was
approaching. Three years later, again in solitude at the Laura of Saint Sava
the Sanctified, he peacefully expired to the Lord (IX). Saint Theodore has
left to Christians his writings of edification. The Life of Saint Theodore
of Edessa was a beloved reading in Rus' during the XVI-XVII Centuries and was
preserved in many a manuscript.
Holy 45 Martyrs at Nicopolis in Armenia, including Leontius, Maurice,
Daniel, Anthony, Alexander, Anicetus, Sisinius, Meneus, and Belerad
Commemorated on July 10/July 23
The Forty-five Martyrs of the Armenian City of Nikopolis suffered
during the reign of the emperor Licinius (307-324), then a co-regent
with Constantine the Great. Licinius fiercely persecuted Christians
and in his Eastern districts of the empire he issued an edict to
put to death anyone who would not consent to return to paganism.
When the persecutions began at Nikopolis, more than forty of the
persecuted of Christ decided to voluntarily appear before their
persecutors, to openly confess their faith in the Son of God and
accept martyrdom. The holy confessors were headed by Leontios,
Mauricios, Daniel, Anthony and Alexander, and were distinguished
by their virtuous life. The hegemon-procurator of the Armenian
district, Licius, before whom the holy confessors presented themselves,
was amazed at the directness and bravery of those who voluntarily
doomed themselves to torture and death. He tried to persuade them
to renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, but the
saints remained steadfast. They refuted all the arguments of the
governor, pointing out to him all the falseness of faith in the
disgusting and vice-filled pagan gods, leading to ruin those that
worship them. The hegemon-procurator gave orders to beat the confessors
about the face with stones, and then shackle and imprison them.
In prison the saints rejoiced and sang psalms of David. Saint Leontios inspired
and encouraged the brethren in the faith, readying them to accept new tortures
for the true faith, and telling them of the bravery of all those formerly that
had suffered for Christ. In the morning, after repeated refusal to offer sacrifice
to the idols, the saints were again given over to torture. Saint Leontios,
seeing the intense suffering of the martyrs and worrying, that certain of them
might collapse in spirit and lose faith, prayed to God, that he might see a
quick end of the matter for all.
When the holy martyrs sang psalms at midnight, an Angel of the Lord suddenly
appeared to them, and the prison blazed with light. The Angel declared to the
martyrs, that their deed was near its end, and their names already were inscribed
in Heaven. Two of the prison guards, Meneas and Virilades, beheld what was
happening and believed in Christ. On the following morning the governor decided
to put to death the martyr-witnesses of Christ. After beastly tortures they
burned them in a fire, and their bones they threw in a river (+ c. 318). Pious
people found them, gathered them up and saved them. Later on, when freedom
had been bestown to the Church of Christ, on this spot was built a church in
the name of the holy 45 Martyrs.
Venerable Anthony of the Kiev Caves (1073)
Commemorated on July 10/July 23
The Monk Antonii (Anthony) of Pechersk was born in the year 983
not far from Chernigov, at the locale of Liubech. Possessing the
fear of God from his youthful years, he desired to be clothed in
the monastic form. Attaining maturity of age, he set off wandering,
and having reached Athos, he burned with the desire to emulate
the deeds of its holy inhabitants. Here he received monastic tonsure
and in everything the young monk pleased God in his asceticising
upon the path of virtue; he throve especially in humility and obedience,
such that all the monks did rejoice to look upon his holy life.
The hegumen foresaw within Saint Antonii the great future ascetic,
and on an inspiration from God, he sent him off back to his native
land, saying: "Antonii!
It is time for thee to guide others also into an holy life. Return to thine
own Russian Land, and be thou upon thee the blessing of Holy Mount Athos, so
that from thee shalt come a multitude of monks".
Having returned to Rus', Antonii began to make the rounds of the monasteries
about Kiev, but nowhere did he find that strict life, which had drawn him to
Through the Providence of God, on one of the hills of Kiev at a steep bank
of the River Dneipr, reminiscent for him of the beloved Athos, in a forested
area near the village of Berestovo, he espied a cave, dug out by the Priest
Ilarion (who afterwards became Metropolitan of Kiev, Comm. 21 October). He
began to asceticise there in prayer, fasting, vigil and work, eating over the
course of a day but a bit of food, and sometimes he did not eat throughout
the week. People began to come to the ascetic for blessing and counsel, and
some decided to remain thereafter with the saint. Among the first disciples
of the Monk Antonii was Saint Nikon, who in the year 1032 tonsured at the monastery
the similarly arrived Monk Theodosii (Feodosii) of Pechersk (+ 1074, Comm.
The holy life of the Monk Antonii brightened all the Russian Land with the
beauty of monastic striving. Saint Antonii received with love those yearning
for monasticism. After instructions on how one ought to follow Christ, he bid
Blessed Nikon to tonsure those willing. When 12 men had gathered about the
Monk Antonii, the brethren together dug out a large cave and within it was
built a church and cells for the monks. Saint Antonii, having appointed Blessed
Varlaam as hegumen over the brethren, himself withdrew from the monastery,
and having dug out for himself a new cave, he secluded himself within it. But
there also, around the place of his seclusion, monks soon began to settle.
Thus were formed the Nearer and Farther Cave monasteries. Afterwards over the
Farther Caves was built by the monk a small wooden church in honour of the
Uspenie-Dormition of the Mother of God.
At the insistence of prince Izyaslav, the hegumen Varlaam withdrew to the Dimitriev
monastery. With the blessing of the Monk Antonii and with the general agreement
of the brethren , there was chosen as hegumen the meek and humble Theodosii.
During this time the number of brethren had already reached an hundred men.
The Kiev Great-prince Izyaslav (+ 1078) gifted to the monks the hill, on which
was built the large church and cells, and around it was built a palisade wall.
Thus was established the reknown monastery, which was called the Pechersk,
foundationed over the caves. Giving the account of this, the chronicler remarks,
that many a monastery exists built by rich emperors and nobility, they however
cannot compare with those, which are built up by the prayers of saints, and
by their tears, fasting and vigil. And thus though the Monk Antonii possessed
not gold, he raised up by his efforts a monastery, incomparable with others,
which became the first spiritual centre of Rus'.
For his holiness of life, God glorified the Monk Antonii with the gift of foresight
and wonderworking. In an especial instance this occurred during their construction
of the Great Pechersk church. The MostHoly Mother of God Herself stood before
him and the Monk Theodosii in the Blakhernae church (in Byzantium), whither
they had been miraculously transported and enraptured, without having left
their Pechersk monastery (Vide account of this under 3 May, regarding the Kievo-Pechersk
Icon of the MostHoly Mother of God). Having received gold from the Mother of
God, the saints commissioned master-architects, who on the command of the Queen
of Heaven set off (from Byzantium) to the Russian Land for building the church
at the Pechersk monastery. During this appearance the Mother of God foretold
the impending death of the Monk Antonii, which occurred at age 90 on 7 May
1073. The relics of the Monk Antonii, through Divine Providence, remain concealed.
Commemoration of the Miracle (451) of Great-martyr Euphemia the
All-praised, of Chalcedon (304)
Commemorated on July 11/July 24
The holy GreatMartyress
Euphemia (the account about her is located under 16 September)
suffered martyrdom in
the city of Chalcedon
in the year 304, during the time of the persecution against Christians
by the emperor Diocletian (284-305). One and an half centuries
later, – at a time when the Christian Church had become
victorious within the Roman empire, God deigned that Euphemia
should again be an especial witness and confessor of the purity
of the Orthodox teaching.
In the year 451 in the city of Chalcedon, in the very church
wherein rested the glorified relics of the holy GreatMartyress
Euphemia – there took
place the sessions of the Fourth OEcumenical Council (the account about it
is under 16 July). The Council was convened for determining the precise dogmatic
formulae of the Orthodox Church concerning the nature-composition of the God-Man
Jesus Christ. This had been necessitated because of the widely-dispersed heresy
of the Monophysites ["mono-phusis" meaning "one nature"],
who opposed the Orthodox teaching about the two natures in Jesus Christ – the
Divine and the Human natures [but in one Divine Person as Son of God within
the Holy Trinity of three Divine Persons]. The Monophysites falsely affirmed
that within Christ was only one nature – the Divine [i.e. that Jesus
is God but not man, by nature], causing discord and unrest within the Church.
At the Council were present 630 representatives from all the Local Christian
Churches. On the side of the Orthodox in the conciliar deliberations there
participated Sainted Anatolios, Patriarch of Constantinople (Comm. 3 July),
Sainted Juvenalios, Patriarch of Jerusalem (Comm. 2 July), and representatives
of Sainted Leo, Pope of Rome (Comm. 18 February). The Monophysites were present
in large numbers, headed by Dioscoros, the Alexandrian patriarch, and the
Constantinople archimandrite Eutykhios.
After prolonged discussions the two sides could not come to a decisive agreement.
The holy Patriarch of Constantinople Anatolios thereupon proposed that the
Council submit the decision of the Church dispute to the Holy Spirit, through
His undoubted bearer Saint Euphemia the All-Praiseworthy, whose wonderworking
relics had been discovered during the Council's discussions. The Orthodox hierarchs
and their opponents wrote down their confessions of faith on separate scrolls
and sealed them with their seals. They opened the tomb of the holy GreatMartyress
Euphemia and placed both scrolls upon her bosom. Then, in the presence of the
emperor Marcian (450-457), the participants of the Council sealed the tomb,
putting on it the imperial seal and setting a guard to watch over it for three
days. During these days both sides imposed upon themselves strict fast and
made intense prayer. After three days the patriarch and the emperor in the
presence of the Council opened the tomb with its relics: the scroll with the
Orthodox confession was held by Saint Euphemia in her right hand, and the scroll
of the heretics lay at her feet. Saint Euphemia, as though alive, raised her
hand and gave the scroll to the patriarch. After this miracle many of the hesitant
accepted the Orthodox confession, while those remaining obstinant in the heresy
were consigned to the Council's condemnation and excommunication.
After an invasion by the Persians during the VII Century, the relics of Saint
Euphemia were transferred from Chalcedon to Constantinople, into a newly
built church dedicated in her name. Many years later, during the period of
heresy, the reliquary with the relics of the saint was cast into the sea – by
order of the Iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian (716-741). The reliquary was
rescued from the sea by the ship-owning brothers Sergios and Sergonos, who
gave it over to the local bishop. The holy bishop ordered that the relics be
preserved in secret, beneathe a crypt, since the Iconoclast heresy was continuing
to rage. A small church was built over the relics, and over the reliquary was
put a board with an inscription stating whose relics rested therein. When the
Iconoclast heresy was finally condemned at the holy Seventh OEcumenical Council
(in the year 787), – during the time of Sainted Tarasios, Patriarch of
Constantinople (784-806) and the emperor Constantine VI (780-797) and his mother
Saint Irene (797-802), – the relics of the holy GreatMartyress Euphemia
were once again solemnly transferred to Constantinople.
Blessed Equal-to-the-Apostles Olga, princess of Russia, in holy
baptism called Helen (969)
Commemorated on July 11/July 24
Olga was the spouse of the Kiev GreatPrince Igor. The struggle
of Christianity with
paganism under Igor and
Olga, who reigned after Oleg (+ 912), entered into a new phase.
The Church of Christ in the years following the reign of Igor
(+ 945) became a remarkable spiritual and political force in the
realm. The preserved text of a treaty of Igor with the Greeks
in the year 944 gives indication of this: it was included by the
in the "Tale of Bygone Years", under the entry recording
the events of the Biblical year 6453 (945).
The peace treaty had to be sworn to by both the religious communities
of Kiev: "Baptised
Rus'", i.e. the Christian, took place in the cathedral church of the holy
Prophet of God Elias (Comm. 20 July); "Unbaptised Rus'", i.e. the
pagans, in turn swore their oath on their weapons in the sanctuary of Perun
the Thunderer. The fact, that Christians are included in the document in
the first place, indicates their significant spiritual influence in the life
Evidently at the moment when the treaty of 944 was being drawn up at Tsar'grad
(Constantinople), there were people in power in Kiev sympathetic to Christianity,
who recognised the historical inevitability of conjoining Rus' into the life-creating
Christian culture. To this trend possibly belonged even prince Igor himself,
whose official position did not permit him personally to go over to the new
faith, nor at that time of deciding the issue concerning the Baptism of the
whole country with the consequent dispersal throughout it of Orthodox Church
hierarchs. The treaty therefore was drawn up in the circumspect manner of expression,
which would not hinder the prince to ratify it in either the form of a pagan
oath, or in the form of a Christian oath.
But when the Byzantine emissaries arrived in Kiev, conditions along the River
Dneipr had essentially changed. A pagan opposition had clearly emerged, at
the head of which stood the Varangian voevoda (military-leader) Svenel'd (or
Sveinald) and his son Mstislav (Mtsisha) to whom Igor had given holdings in
the Drevlyani lands.
Strong also at Kiev was the influence of the Khazar Jews, who could not but
be displeased with the thought of the triumph of Orthodoxy in the Russian Land.
Unable to overcome the customary inertia, Igor remained a pagan and he concluded
the treaty in the pagan manner – with an oath on his sword. He refused
the grace of Baptism and was punished for his unbelief. A year later, in 945,
rebellious pagans murdered him in the Drevlyanian land, cut down betwixt two
trees. But the days of paganism and the lifestyle of the Slavic tribes basic
to it were already numbered. The burden of government fell upon the widow of
Igor – the Kiev Great-princess Olga, and her three year old son Svyatoslav.
The name of the future enlightener of the Russian Land and of her native
region is first to be met with in the "Tale of Bygone Years", – in
the phrase where it speaks about the marriage of Igor: "and they brought
him a wife from Pskov, by the name of Ol'ga". She belonged, so specifies
the Joakimov Chronicle, to the lineage of the Izborsk princes, – one
of the obscure ancient-Russian princely dynasties, of which in Rus' during
the X-XI Centuries there numbered no less than twenty, but who were all displaced
by the Rurikovichi or merged otherwise with them through marriage. Some of
them were of local Slavic descent, others – Varangian new-comers. It
is known, that the Scandinavian Viking "koenigs" (kinglets) called
to become princes in the Russian cities – invariably assimilated to
the Russian language, and often, they soon became genuinely Russian with
names and lifestyle, world-outlook and even physical appearance of attire.
The spouse of Igor thus also had the Varangian name "Helga", which
in the Russian "rendering" of pronunciation, is Ol'ga, Vol'ga. The
feminine name Ol'ga corresponds to the masculine name "Oleg" (Helgi),
which means "holy" [from Germanic "heilig" for "holy"].
Although the pagan understanding of holiness was quite different from the Christian,
it also presupposed within man a particular frame of reference, of chasteness
and sobriety, of mind and of insight. It reveals the spiritual significance
of names, that people termed Oleg the Wise-Seer ("Veschi") and Ol'ga – the
Rather later traditions regard her a native of a village named Vybuta, several
kilometers from Pskov up along the River Velika. They still not so long ago
used to point out at the river the Ol'ga Bridge, the ancient fording place,
Where Olga was met by Igor. The Pskov geographic features have preserved
not a few names, connected with the memory of this great descendent of Pskov:
village of Ol'zhinets and Ol'gino Pole (Ol'ga Field); the Ol'ga Gateway – one
of the branches of the River Velika; Ol'ga Hill and the Ol'ga Cross – near
Lake Pskov; and the Ol'ga Stone – at the village of Vybuta.
The beginning of the independent rule of Princess Olga is connected in the
chronicles with the narrative about her terrible revenge on the Drevlyani,
who murdered Igor. Having sworn their oaths on their swords and believing "only
in their swords", the pagans were doomed by the judgement of God to
also perish by the sword (Mt. 26: 52). Worshipping fire amongst the other
elements, they found their own doom in the fire. And the Lord chose Olga
to fulfill the fiery chastisement.
The struggle for the unity of Rus', for the subordination to the Kievan centre
of mutually divisive and hostile tribes and principalities paved the way
towards the ultimate victory of Christianity in the Russian Land. For Olga,
still a pagan, the Kiev Christian Church and its Heavenly patron saint the
holy Prophet of God Elias [in icons depicted upon a fiery chariot] stood
as a flaming faith and prayer of a fire come down from the heavens, and her
over the Drevlyani – despite the severe harshness of her victory, was
a victory of Christian constructive powers in the Russian realm over the
powers of a paganism, dark and destructive.
The God-wise Olga entered into history as a great builder of the civil life
and culture of Kievan Rus'. The chronicles are filled with accounts of her
incessant "goings" throughout the Russian land with the aim of the
well-being and improvement of the civil and domestic manner of life of her
subjects. Having consolidated the inner strengthening of the might of the Kiev
great-princely throne – with the consequent weakening of the influence
of the jumbled hodge-podge of petty local princes in Rus', Olga centralised
the whole of state rule with the help of the system of "pogosti" (administrative
trade centres). In the year 946 she went with her son and retinue through the
Drevlyani land, "imposing tribute and taxes", noting the villages,
inns and hunting places, liable for inclusion in the Kiev great-princely holdings.
The next year she went to Novgorod, establishing administrative centres along
the Rivers Msta and Luga, everywhere leaving visible traces of her activity. "Her
lovischa (hunting preserves) were throughout all the land, the boundary signs,
her places and administrative centres, – wrote the chronicler, – and
her sleighs stand at Pskov to this very day, as are her directed places for
snaring of birds along the Dneipr and the Desna Rivers; and her village of
Ol'zhicha stands to the present day".
The "pogosti" established by Olga, as financial-administrative
and law-court centres, represented sturdy props of great-princely power in
Being first of all, and in the actual sense of the word, centres of trade
and exchange (the merchant as "guest") gathered together and became organised
around the settlements (and in place of the "humanly arbitrary" gathering
of tribute and taxes, there now existed uniformity and order with the "pogosti" system).
Olga's "pogosti" became an important network of the ethnic and
cultural unification of the Russian nation.
Later on, when Olga had become a Christian, they began to erect the first
churches at the "pogosti"; from the time of the Baptism of Rus' the "pogost" and
church (parish) became inseparably associated. (It was only afterwards with
the existence of cemeteries alongside churches that there developed the current
meaning of the Russian word "pogost" to nowadays signify "parish
Princess Olga exerted much effort to fortify the defensive might of the land.
The cities were built up and strengthened, Vyshgorod (or Detintsa, Kroma)
they enclosed with stone and oak walls (battlements), and they bristled them
ramparts and pallisades. Knowing how hostile many were to the idea of strengthening
the princely power and the unification of Rus', the princess herself lived
constantly "on the hill" over the Dneipr, behind the trusty battlements
of Kievan Vyshgorod ("Verkhna-gorod" or "Upper-city"),
surrounded by her faithful retainers. Two thirds of the gathered tribute, as
the chroniclers testify, she gave over for the use of the Kiev "veche" (city-council),
and the remaining one third went "to Olga, for Vyshgorod" – for
the needs of building fortifications. And to the time period of Olga, historians
note the establishment of the first state frontiers of Russia – to the
west, with Poland. Heroic outposts to the south guarded the peaceful fields
of the Kievans from the peoples of the Wild Plains. Foreigners hastened to
Gardarika ("the land of cities"), as they called Rus', with merchandise
and craftwares. Swedes, Danes, Germans all eagerly entered as mercenaries into
the Russian army. The foreign connections of Kiev spread. This furthered the
developement of construction with stone in the city, the beginnings of which
was initiated under Olga. The first stone edifices of Kiev – the city
palace and Olga's upper enclosure – were discovered by archaeologists
only but in this century. (The palace, or more properly its foundations and
remains of the walls were found in excavations during the years 1971-1972).
But it was not only the strengthening of the civil realm and the improvement
of domestic norms of the manner of life for people that attracted the attention
of the wise princess. Even more urgent for her was the fundamental transformation
of the religious life of Rus', the spiritual transfiguration of the Russian
nation. Rus' had become a great power. Only two European realms could compare
with it during these years in significance and might: in Eastern Europe – the
ancient Byzantine empire, and in the West – the kingdom of Saxony.
The experience of both empires, connected with the exaltation in spirit of
Christian teaching, with the religious basis of life, showed clearly, that
the way to the future greatness of Rus' lay not through military means, but
first of all and primarily through spiritual conquering and attainment. Having
entrusted Kiev to her teenage son Svyatoslav, and seeking grace and truth,
Great-princess Olga in the Summer of 954 set off with a great fleet to Tsar'grad.
This was a peaceful "expedition", combining the tasks of religious
pilgrimage and diplomatic mission, but the political considerations demanded
that it become simultaneously a display of the military might of Rus' on the
Black Sea, which would remind the haughty "romanoi" [Byzantine Greeks]
of the victorious campaigns of Askol'd and Oleg, who in the year 907 advanced
in their shields "to the very gates of Tsar'grad".
The result was attained. The appearance of the Russian fleet in the Bosphorus
created the necessary effect for the developing of Russo-Byzantine dialogue.
In turn, the southern capital struck the stern daughter of the North with
its variety of beauty and grandeur of architecture, and its jumbled mixture
pagans and peoples from all over the world. But an especial impression was
produced by the wealth of Christian churches and the holy things preserved
in them. Tsar'grad-Constantinople, "the city of the imperial Caesar-tsar",
the Byzantine Greek empire, strove in everything to be worthy for its Heavenly
Mediatrix. At its very foundation (or more precisely, restoration), the city
had been consecrated in the year 330 by the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine
the Great (Comm. 21 May) to the MostHoly Mother of God (this event occurred
in the Greek Church on the date of 11 May and from there passed over into Russian
commemoration). The Russian princess was present at Divine-services in the
finest churches of Constantinople – Saint Sophia, the Mother of God
Blakhernae, and others.
In her heart the wise Olga found the desire for holy Orthodoxy, and she made
the decision to become a Christian. The sacrament of Baptism was made over
her by the Constantinople Patriarch Theophylaktos (933-956), and her godfather
was the emperor Constantine Porphyrigenitos (912-959). At Baptism there was
entrusted to her the name Elena (Helen) in honour of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles
Helen (Comm. 21 May), the mother of Saint Constantine, and she also had been
the discoverer of the Venerable Wood of the Cross of the Lord. In an edifying
word spoken at the conclusion of the sacramental rite, the patriarch said: "Blessed
art thou amongst Russian women, in that thou hast forsaken the darkness and
hast loved the Light. The Russian people shalt bless thee in all the future
generations, from thy grandson and great-grandson to thine furthermost descendants".
He instructed her in the truths of the faith, the churchly rules and the rule
of prayer, he explained the commands about fasting, chastity and charity. "She
however, – says the Monk Nestor, – bowed her head and stood, literally
like a sponge absorbing water she hearkened to the teaching, and bowing down
to the Patriarch, she did say: By thine prayers, Vladyka, let me be preserved
from the wiles of enemies".
It is precisely thus, with a slightly bowed head, that Saint Olga is depicted
on one of the frescoes of the Kiev Sophia cathedral, and likewise on a Byzantine
miniature contemporary to her, in a manuscript portrait of the Chronicles
of John Scilitius in the Madrid National Library. The Greek inscription,
the miniature, terms Olga "Archontessa (i.e. ruler) of the Russes", "a
woman, Helga by name, who came to the emperor Constantine and was baptised".
The princess is depicted in special head attire, "as a newly-baptised
Christian and venerable deaconess of the Russian Church". Alongside her
in the same attire of the newly-baptised – is Malusha (+ 1001), the
mother later on of the Equal-to-the-Apostles Saint Vladimir (Comm. 15 July).
For one who had originally so disliked the Russians as did the emperor Constantine
Porphyrigenitos, it was no trivial matter for him to become the godfather
to the "Archontessa of Rus'". In the Russian chronicles are preserved
narratives about this, how resolutely and on an equal footing Olga conversed
with the emperor, amazing the Greeks by her spiritual depth and wisdom of governance,
and displaying that the Russian nation was quite capable of accepting and assimilating
the highest attainments of the Greek religious genius, the finest fruition
of Byzantine spirituality and culture. And thus by a peaceful path Saint Olga
succeeded in "taking Tsar'grad", something which no other military
leader before her had ever been able to do. According to the witness of the
chronicles, the emperor himself had to admit, that Olga "had given him
the slip" (had outwitted him), and the popular mind, jumbling together
into one the traditions about Oleg the Wise and Olga the Wise, sealed in its
memory this spiritual victory in the bylina or folk-legend entitled "Concerning
the Taking of Tsar'grad by Princess Olga".
In his work "About the Ceremonies of the Byzantine Court" – which
has survived to the present-day in but one copy, Constantine Porphyrigenitos
has left us a detailed description of the ceremony surrounding the stay of
Saint Olga at Constantinople. He describes a triumphant reception in the famed
Magnaura palace, beneathe the singing of bronze birds and the roars of copper
lions, where Olga appeared with an impressive retinue of 108 men (not counting
the men of Svyatoslav's company). And there took place negotiations in the
narrower confines of the chambers of the empress, and then a state dinner in
the hall of Justinian. And here during the course of events, there providentially
met together at one table the four "majestic ladies": the grandmother
and the mother of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Saint Vladimir (Saint Olga and
her companion Malusha), and the grandmother and the mother of Saint Vladimir's
future spouse Anna (the empress Helen and her daughter-in-law Theophano). Slightly
more than half a century would pass, and at the Desyatin church of the MostHoly
Mother of God at Kiev would stand aside each other the marble tombs of Saint
Olga, Saint Vladimir and "Blessed Anna".
During the time of one of these receptions, – relates Constantine Porphyrigenitos, – the
Russian princess was presented a golden plate inset with jewels. Saint Olga
made an offering of it at the vestry of the Sophia cathedral, where at the
beginning of the XIII Century it was seen and described by the Russian diplomat
Dobrynya Yadeikovich (who afterwards was to become the Novgorod archbishop
Antonii): "The large golden official plate of Ol'ga of Russia, when she
took it as tribute, having come to Tsar'grad; upon the plate be precious stones,
and upon it is written in these stones the name Xpictoc-Christ".
Moreover, the wily emperor, having reported such details as would underscore
how "Olga had given him the slip", likewise presents a difficult
riddle for historians of the Russian Church. The matter involves this, – that
the Monk Nestor the Chronicler relates in the "Tale of Bygone Years" that
the Baptism of Olga took place in the Biblical year 6463 (955 or 954), and
this corresponds to the account of the Byzantine chronicles of Kedrinos. Another
Russian Church writer of the XI Century, Yakov Mnikh, – in his work "Eulogy
and Laudation to Vladimir... and how Vladimir's Grandmother Ol'ga was Baptised",
speaks about the death of the holy princess (+ 969) and he notes, that she
lived as a Christian for fifteen years, and he places the actual date of
Baptism as the year 954, which likewise corresponds within several months
to that indicated
by Nestor. In contrast to this, describing for us the stay of Olga at Constantinople
and providing the precise dates of the receptions given in her honour, Constantine
Porphyrigenitos has us to understand in no uncertain terms that all this
occurred in the year 957.
To reconcile the cited chronicles, on the one hand, with the testimony of
Constantine on the other hand, Russian Church historians are led to suppose
of two things: either Saint Olga journeyed a second time to Constantinople
in the year 957 to continue negotiations with the emperor, or that either – she
was in no wise baptised at Constantinople, having previously been baptised
at Kiev in 954, and that she was merely making pilgrimage to Byzantium, being
already a Christian. The first supposition is the more credible.
As for the immediate diplomatic outcome of the negotiations, there were basic
matters for Saint Olga that had been left unsettled. She had gained success
on questions concerning Russian trade within the territories of the Byzantine
empire, and also the reconfirmation of the peace accord with Byzantium, concluded
by Igor in the year 944. But she had not been able to sway the emperor on
two issues of importance to Rus': the dynastic marriage of Svyatoslav with
princess, and the conditions for restoring an Orthodox metropolitan to Kiev
as had existed at the time of Askol'd. The evidently inadequate outcome of
her mission is detected in her answer, when she had already returned home,
which was given to emissaries sent out by the emperor. To the emperor's inquiry
about promised military aid, Saint Olga through the emissaries curtly replied: "If
thou hadst spend a time with me similarly at Pochaina, as I did at the Court,
then would I give the soldiery in aid".
Amidst all this, in spite of her failed attempts at establishing the Church
hierarchy within Rus', Saint Olga in having become a Christian zealously
devoted herself to efforts of Christian evangelisation amongst the pagans,
church construction: "demanding the distressing of demons and the beginning
of life for Christ Jesus". She erected churches: of Saint Nicholas and
Saint Sophia at Kiev, of the Annunciation of the MostHoly Mother of God at
Vytebsk, and of the Holy Life-Originating Trinity – at Pskov. Pskov from
that period has been called in the chronicles the Domicile of the Holy Trinity.
The church, built by Olga at the River Velika at a spot pointed out to her
from on high, – according to the chronicler, – by a "light-beam
of the Thrice-Radiant Divinity", stood for more than one and an half
centuries. In the year 1137 holy Prince Vsevolod-Gabriel (+ 1138, Comm. 11
this wooden temple with one made of stone, which in turn in 1363 was rebuilt
and replaced finally with the presently existing Trinity cathedral.
Another verymost important monument of Russian "Monument Theology", – a
Church architecture frequently is termed, – connected with the name
of Saint Olga, is the temple of Sophia Wisdom of God at Kiev, which was started
soon after her return from Tsar'grad, and consecrated on 11 May 960. This
was afterwards observed in the Russian Church as a special Church feastday.
In the Mesyatseslov (calendar supplement)of a parchment Epistle-book from
1307, under 11 May is written: "On this day was consecration of Saint Sophia
at Kiev in the year 6460". The year-date of memory is indicated in the
so-called "Antioch" rather than generally-accepted Constantinople
manner of chronology, and it corresponds to the year 960 from the Birth of
It was no mere co-incidence that Saint Olga received in Baptism the name
of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Helen (Elena), who was the one to find
Wood of the Cross at Jerusalem. The foremost sacred item in the newly built
Kiev Sophia temple was a piece of the Holy Cross, brought by this new Helen
from Tsar'grad, and received by her in blessing from the Constantinople Patriarch.
The Cross, by tradition, was hewn out from an entire piece of the Life-Creating
Wood of the Lord. Upon the Cross-Wood was inscribed: "The Holy Cross for
the Regeneration of the Russian Land, Received by Noble Princess Ol'ga".
Saint Olga did much to eternalise the memories of the first Russian confessors
of the Name of Christ: over the grave of Askol'd was erected the Nikol'sk
(Nicholas) church, where according to certain accounts, she herself was afterwards
Over the grave of Dir – was built the afore-mentioned Sophia cathedral,
which stood for half a century and burned in the year 1017. On this spot Yaroslav
the Wise later on built a church of Saint Irene in 1050, but the sacred items
of Olga's Sophia temple were transferred into a stone church of the same name – standing
at present as the Kiev Sophia, started in 1017 and consecrated in about the
year 1030. In the Prologue account of the XIII Century, it said about the Olga
Cross: "for It be now at Kiev in Saint Sophia in the altar on the right
side". The plundering of Kiev's holy things, which after the Mongols
was continued by the Lithuanians who captured the city in 1341, did not spare
this. Under Jagiello in the period of the Liublin Unia, which in 1384 united
Poland and Lithuania into one state, the Olga Cross was snatched from the
Sophia cathedral and carried off by the Catholics to Liublin. Its further
But even in Olga's time there were at Kiev amongst the boyar-nobles and retinue-retainers
no few people who, in the words of Solomon, "hated Wisdom", and also
Saint Olga, for having built Wisdom's temple. Zealots of the old paganism became
all the more emboldened, viewing with hope the coming of age of Svyatoslav,
who decidedly spurned the urgings of his mother to accept Christianity, and
even becoming angry with her over this. It was necessary to hurry with the
intended matter of the Baptism of Rus'. The deceit of Byzantium, at the time
not wanting to promote Christianity in Rus', played into the hands of the pagans.
In search of a solution, Saint Olga turned her gaze to the west. No contradiction
here yet existed. Saint Olga (+ 969) belonged still to the undivided Church
(i.e. before the Great Schism of 1054), and she had scant possibility to study
the theological points involved between the Greek and Latin faith-confessions.
The opposition of West and East presented itself to her first of all as a political
rivalry – of secondary importance in comparison with her pertinent task – the
establishing of the Russian Church and the Christian enlightenment of Rus'.
Under the year 959, the German chronicler named "the Continuant of Reginon",
records: "to the king came emissaries of Helen, queen of the Russes, who
was baptised in Constantinople, and which did seek for their nation to have
bishop and priests". King Otto, the future founder of the German empire,
willingly acceded to the request of Olga, but he bid the matter not be in haste,
in quite German the ponderence. It was only on Nativity of the following year
960, that there was established a Russian bishop Libutius, from the monastery
brethren of Saint Alban am Mainz. But he soon died (15 March 961). In his place
was ordained Adalbert of Trier, whom Otto "generously furnishing all needs" dispatched,
finally, to Russia. It is difficult to say, what would have happened, had the
king not delayed for so long a while, but when in 962 when Adalbert showed
up at Kiev, he "did not succeed in the matter for which he had been sent,
and did consider his efforts to be in vain". Furthermore, on the return
journey "certain of his companions were murdered, and the bishop himself
escaped not mortal danger".
It turned out that after the passage of years, as Olga indeed had foreseen,
matters at Kiev had twisted ultimately in favour of paganism, and Rus' – having
become neither Orthodox nor Catholic, had second thoughts altogether about
accepting Christianity. The pagan reaction thus produced was so strong, that
not only did the German missionaries suffer, but also some of the Kiev Christians
who had been baptised with Olga at Tsar'grad. By order of Svyatoslav, Saint
Olga's nephew Gleb was killed and some of the churches built by her were
destroyed. It seems reasonable, that this transpired not without Byzantium's
given the possibility of a strengthened Rus' in alliance with Otto, the Greeks
would have preferred to support the pagans, with the consequent intrigues
against Olga and various disorders.
The collapse of the mission of Adalbert had providential significance for the
future Russian Orthodox Church, escaping papal dominion. Saint Olga was obliged
to accede to the humiliation and to withdraw fully into matters of personal
piety, handing over the reigns of governance to her pagan-son Svyatoslav. Because
of her former role, all the difficult matters were referred over to her in
her wisdom of governance. When Svyatoslav absented himself from Kiev on military
campaigns and wars, the governance of the realm was again entrusted to his
mother. But the question about the Baptism of Rus' was for the while taken
off the agenda, and this was ultimately bitter for Saint Olga, who regards
the good-news of the Gospel of Christ the chief matter in her life.
She meekly endured the sorrow and grief, attempting to help her son in civil
and military affairs, and to guide matters with heroic intent. The victories
of the Russian army were a consolation for her, particularly the destruction
of an old enemy of the Russian state – the Khazar kaganate. Twice, in
the years 965 and 969, the armies of Svyatoslav went through the lands of "the
foolish Khazars", forever shattering the might of the Jewish rulers
of Priazovia and lower Povolzhia. A subsequent powerful blow was struck at
Mahometan Volga Bulgars, and then in turn came the Danube Bulgars. Eighteen
years were spent on the Danube with the Kiev military forces. Olga was alone
and in worry: it was as though, absorbed by military matters in the Balkans,
Svyatoslav had forgotten about Kiev.
In the Spring of 969 the Pechenegs besieged Kiev: "and it was impossible
to lead out the horses to water, for the Pechenegs stood at the Lybeda".
The Russian army was far away, at the Danube. Having sent off messengers to
her son, Saint Olga herself headed the defense of the capital. When he received
the news, Svyatoslav rode quickly to Kiev, and "he hugged his mother and
his children and was distressed, with what had happened with them from the
Pechenegs". But after routing the nomads, the warrior prince began anew
to say to his mother: "It doth not please me to sit at Kiev, for I do
wish to live at Pereslavl' on the Dunaj (Danube) – since there be the
centre of my lands". Svyatoslav dreamed of creating a vast Russian holding
from the Danube to the Volga, which would unite all Rus', Bulgaria, Serbia,
the Near Black Sea region and Priazovia (Azov region), and extend his borders
to those of Tsar'grad itself. Olga the Wise understood however, that all the
bravery and daring of the Russian companies could not compare against the ancient
empire of the Byzantine Romanoi, and that the venture of Svyatoslav would fail.
But the son would not heed the admonitions of his mother. Saint Olga thereupon
said: "Thou dost behold, that I am ill. Why wishest thou to forsake me?
When thou buriest me, then set out whitherso thou dost will".
Her days were numbered, and her burdens and sorrows sapped her strength.
On 11 July 969 Saint Olga died: "and with great lament they bewept her, her
son and grandsons and all the people". The final years, amidst the triumph
of paganism, for her as once haughty ruler transpired with having a priest
secretly by her, so as to not evoke new outbursts of pagan fanaticism. But
before death, having found anew her former firmness and resolve, she forbade
them to make over her the pagan celebration of the dead, and she gave final
instructions to bury her openly in accord with Orthodox ritual. Presbyter
Gregory, who was with her at Constantinople in 957, fulfilled her request
Saint Olga lived, died, and was buried as a Christian. "And thus having
lived and well having glorified God in Trinity, Father and Son and Holy Spirit,
having worshipped in the blessed faith, she did end her life in the peace of
Christ Jesus, our Lord". As her prophetic testament to succeeding generations,
with deep Christian humility she confessed her faith concerning her nation: "God's
will be done! If God be pleased to have mercy upon my native Russian Land,
then shalt they be turned in heart towards God, as for me also wast this gift".
God glorified the holy toiler of Orthodoxy, the "initiator of faith" in
the Russian Land, by means of miracles and incorrupt relics. Yakov Mnikh (+
1072), an hundred years after her death, wrote in his work "Memory and
Laudation to Vladimir": "God hath glorified the body of His servant
Olena, and her venerable body be in the grave, incorrupt to this day".
Saint Olga glorified God with good deeds in all things, and God glorified
her. Under holy Prince Vladimir, ascribed by some as occurring in the year
the relics of Saint Olga were transferred into the Desyatin church of the
Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God and placed within a special
into suchlike as was customary to enclose the relics of saints in the Orthodox
East. "And hear ye concerning a certain miracle about her: the grave of
stone is small in the church of the Holy Mother of God, this church built by
blessed Prince Vladimir, and in the grave is Blessed Ol'ga. And atop the grave
was an opening wrought – for to behold the body of Blessed Ol'ga lying
there whole". But not everyone was given to see this miracle of the incorrupt
relics of the saint: "For whosoever with faith did come, the aperture
opened up, and there was beheld the venerable body lying intact, and one would
marvel at such a miracle – the body lying there for so many years without
decay. Worthy of all praise be this venerable body: in the grave whole, as
though sleeping at rest. But for another, who not in faith shouldst approach,
the grave aperture would not open up, and they would not catch sight of this
venerable body, but only the grave".
Thus even after death Saint Olga espoused life eternal and resurrection,
filling believers with joy and confounding non-believers. She was, in the
the Monk Nestor the Chronicler, "a precursor in the Christian land, like
the dawn before sunrise or light the twilight before the light".
The holy Equal-to-the-Apostles GreatPrince Vladimir, himself giving thanks
to God on the day of the Baptism of Rus', witnessed before his countrymen
concerning Saint Olga with the remarkable words: "The sons of Rus' do bless thee,
and also the generations of thine ultimate lineage".
Martyrs Proclus and Hilary of Ancyra (2nd c.)
Commemorated on July 12/July 25
The Holy Martyrs Proklos and Ilarion were natives of the village
of Kalipta, near Ancyra, and they suffered during the time of a
persecution under the emperor Trajan (98-117). Saint Proklos was
put under arrest first. Brought before the governor Maximus, he
fearlessly confessed his faith in Christ. The governor decided
to compel the saint by force to submit himself to the emperor to
offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. During the time of tortures,
the martyr predicted to Maximus, that soon he himself would be
compelled to confess Christ as the True God. They forced the martyr
to run after the chariot of the governor, heading towards the village
Kalipta. Exhausted along the way, Saint Proklos prayed, that the
Lord would halt the chariot. By the power of God the chariot halted,
and no sort of force could move it from the spot. The dignitary
sitting in it was as it were petrified and remained unmoving until
such time, at the demand of the martyr, that he would sign a statement
with a confession of Christ; only after this was the chariot with
the governor able to continue on its way.
The humiliated pagan took fierce revenge on Saint Proklos: after many tortures
he commanded that he be led out beyond the city, tied to a pillar and executed
with arrows. The soldiers, leading saint Proklos to execution, told him to
give in and save his life, but the saint said that they should do what they
had been ordered.
Along the way to the place of killing, there met them the nephew of Saint Proklos,
Ilarion, who with tears hugged his martyr-uncle and also confessed himself
a Christian. The soldiers seized him, and he was thrown into prison. The holy
Martyr Proklos beneathe the hail of arrows prayed for his tormentors and with
prayer gave up his soul to God.
Saint Ilarion, having been brought to trial, with the same fearlessness as
Saint Proklos confessed himself a Christian, and after tortures he was sentenced
to death. They tied the martyr's hands and dragged him by his feet through
the city, wounded and bloody, and then they beheaded him 3 days after the death
of his uncle, the holy Martyr Proklos. Christians buried them together in a
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos "Of the Three Hands",
Hilandar, Mt. Athos
Commemorated on July 12/July 25
The Icon of
the Mother of God, named "Three-Handed":
The wonderworking image, before which the Monk John Damascene
(Comm. 4 December) received healing of a cut-off hand, was given
by him to the Laura of the Monk Sava the Sanctified. In the XIII
Century the icon was situated in Serbia, and afterwards it was
miraculously transported to Athos to the Khilendaria monastery.
Icon of the Mother of God, named "Of Three Hands" ("Troeruchitsa"):
In the IX Century at the time of the Iconoclasts, the Monk John
Damascene (+ c. 780, Comm. 4 December) was zealous in his veneration
of holy icons. Because of this, he was slandered by the emperor
and iconoclast Leo III the Isaurian (717-740), who informed the
Damascus caliph that the Monk John was committing treasonous acts
against him. The caliph gave orders to cut off the hand of the
monk and take it to the marketplace. Towards evening Saint John,
having asked the caliph for the cut-off hand, put it to its joint
and fell to the ground before the icon of the Mother of God. The
monk begged Our Lady to heal the hand, which had written in defense
of Orthodoxy. After long prayer he fell asleep and saw in a dream,
that the All-Pure Mother of God had turned to him promising him
quick healing. Before this the Mother of God bid him toil without
fail with this hand. Having awakened from sleep, the Monk John
saw that his hand was unharmed. In thankfulness for this healing
the Monk John placed on the icon an hand fashioned of silver, from
which the icon received its name "Of Three Hands". According
to tradition, the Monk John wrote a song of thanksgiving to the
Mother of God – "All of creation rejoiceth in Thee,
O Full of Grace", which appears in place of the Mother of
God hymn "Mete it is in truth" in the Liturgy of Saint
Basil the Great.
Saint John Damascene accepted monasticism at the Laura monastery
of the Monk Sava the Sanctified and there bestowed his wonderworking
icon. The Laura presented
the icon "Of Three Hands" in blessing to Sainted Savva, ArchBishop
of Serbia (+ 1237, Comm. 12 January). During the time of an invasion of Serbia
by the Turks, Christians wanting to safeguard the icon entrusted it to the
safekeeping of the Mother of God Herself. They placed it upon a donkey, which
without a driver proceeded to Athos and stopped in front of the Khilendaria
monastery. The monks put the icon in the cathedral church. During the time
of discord over the choice of hegumen, the Mother of God deigned Herself
to accept to head the monastery, and from that time Her holy icon has occupied
the hegumen's place in the temple. And from that time at the Kilendaria monastery
there is chosen only a vicar, and the monks by monastic useage receive from
the holy icon blessing in every obedience.
Synaxis of the Holy Archangel Gabriel
Commemorated on July 13/July 26
The Sobor of the ArchAngel Gabriel is celebrated on the day following
after the Annunciation/Blagoveschenie, ie. 26 March. This feast
is celebrated a second time 13 July. The reason for its being established
probably served the dedication in the XVII Cent. of a church at
Constantinople, constructed in the name of the Holy Archi-Strategos
/ Chief of the Heavenly Hosts.
Gabriel was chosen by the Lord to make the blest-announcement to
the Virgin Mary about the Incarnation
of the Son of God from
Her, to the great rejoicing of all mankind. Therefore on the
day after the feast of the Annunciation – the day itself
on which the All-Pure Virgin Herself is glorified, we give thanks
Lord and we venerate His messenger Gabriel, who contributed to
the mystery of our salvation.
The holy Archistrategos (Leader of the Heavenly Hosts) Gabriel
acted in service to the Almighty God. He announced to Old Testament
mankind about the future
Incarnation of the Son of God; he inspired the Prophet Moses during the writing
of the Pentateuch books of the Bible, he announced to the Prophet Daniel
about the coming tribulations of the Hebrew People (Dan. 8: 16,
9: 21-24); he appeared
to Righteous Anna with the news of the birth from her of the Ever-Blessed
Virgin Mary. The holy Archangel Gabriel stayed constantly with
the Holy Virgin Mary
when She was a child in the Jerusalem Temple and afterwards watched over
Her throughout all Her earthly life. He appeared to the Priest
the birth of the Forerunner of the Lord – John the Baptist. The Lord
dispatched him to Saint Joseph the Betrothed: he appeared to him in a dream,
to reveal to him the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God from the
All-Pure Virgin Mary, and warned him of the wicked intentions of Herod, ordering
him to flee into Egypt with the Divine-Infant and the Mother of God. When the
Lord before His Passion prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane to the extent of
sweating blood, according to Church tradition, to strengthen Him there was
sent from Heaven the Archangel Gabriel, whose very name signifies "Strength
of God" (Lk. 22: 43).
The Myrh-Bearing Women heard from the Archangel the joyous news about the Resurrection
Mindful this day of the manifold appearances of the holy Archangel Gabriel
and of his zealous fulfilling of the Divine Will, and confessing his intercession
before the Lord for Christians, the Orthodox Church calls upon its children
with faith and with fervour to have recourse in prayer to the great Angel.
(The account about the Sobor-Assemblage of the Bodiless Powers is located under
Apostle Aquila of the Seventy, and St. Priscilla (1st c.)
Commemorated on July 14/July 27
It is possible, that he was a disciple of the Apostle Paul, a
native of Pontus and a Jew, living in the city of Rome with his
wife Priscilla (Comm. 13 February). During the reign of the emperor
Claudius (41-54) all the Jews were banished from Rome. Saint Aquilla
and his wife were compelled to leave. They settled in Corinth.
A short while afterwards the holy Apostle Paul arrived there from
Athens preaching the Gospel. Having made the acquaintance of Aquila,
he began to live at his house and laboured together with him over
the making of tents.
Having accepted Baptism from the Apostle Paul, Aquila and Priscilla bacame
his devoted and zealous disciples. They accompanied the apostle to Ephesus.
The Apostle Paul instructed them to continue the preaching of the Gospel at
Ephesus, and he himself set off to Jerusalem, in order to be present there
for the feast of Pentecost. At Ephesus Aquila and Priscilla heard the bold
preaching of a new-comer from Alexandria, the Jew Apollos, who had been instructed
in the fundamentals of the faith, but knew only the baptism of John the ForeRunner
[i.e. John the Baptist]. They called him over to themselves and explained more
precisely about the way of the Lord.
After the death of the emperor Claudius, Jews were permitted to return to
Italy, and Aquila and Priscilla then returned to Rome. The Apostle Paul in
to the Romans recollects about his faithful disciples: "Greet Priscilla
and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus, who put forth their heads for my
soul, whom I do not alone thank, but also all the Church of the Gentiles and
the church of their household" (Rom. 16: 3-4). Saint Aquila did not
long dwell in Rome: the Apostle Paul made him a bishop in Asia. Saint Aquila
laboured at preaching the Gospel in Asia, Achaeia and Herakleia: he converted
pagans to Christ, he confirmed in the faith newly-converted Christians, he
established presbyters and destroyed idols. Saint Priscilla constantly assisted
him in the apostolic work. Saint Aquila finished his life a martyr: pagans
murdered him. According to the tradition of the Church, Saint Priscilla was
killed together with him.
Martyrs Cyricus (Quiricus) and his mother Julitta of Tarsus (305)
Commemorated on July 15/July 28
The Holy Martyrs Kyrikos and Julitta lived in Asia Minor in the
city of Iconium in the Likaoneia region. Saint Julitta was descended
from an illustrious family and was a Christian. Widowed early on,
she raised her three year old son Kyrikos. During the time of the
persecution made against Christians by the emperor Diocletian (284-305),
Saint Julitta with her son and two trustworthy servants departed
the city, leaving behind her home and property and servants.
Under the guise of being impoverished she his out first at Seleucia,
and then at Tarsis. And it was there in about the year 305 that
she was recognised,
arrested and brought to trial before the governor named Alexander. Strengthened
by the Lord, she fearlessly gave answer to the questions of the judge and
she firmly confessed her faith in Christ. The governor gave orders
to beat the
saint with canes. During the time of torment Saint Julitta kept repeating: "I
am a Christian and will not offer sacrifice to demons".
The little boy Kyrikos cried, seeing his mother being tortured, and wanted
to go to her. The governor Alexander tried to hug him, but the boy broke
free and shouted: "Let me go to my mother, I am a Christian". The
governor flung the boy from the high rostrum onto the stone steps, and the
downwards striking the sharp edges, and died. The mother, seeing her lacerated
son, gave thanks to God that He had vouchsafed the boy a martyr's end. After
many cruel tortures they beheaded Saint Julitta with the sword.
The relics of Saints Kyrikos and Julitta were discovered during the reign of
holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine (+ 337, Comm. 21 May). In honour of
these holy martyrs there was built near Constantinople a monastery, and not
far off from Jerusalem was built a church. In popular custom, Saints Kyrikos
and Julitta are prayed to for family happiness, and the restoring to health
of sick children.
Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Great Prince Vladimir (in holy baptism
Basil), enlightener of the Russian Land (1015)
Commemorated on July 15/July 28
in the annals of history can compare in significance with the name
of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir,
of Rus', who stands forever at the onset of the foreordained
spiritual destiny of the Russian Church and the Russian Orthodox
Vladimir was the grandson of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Olga,
and he was the son of Svyatoslav (+ 972). His mother, Malusha (+
1001) – was
the daughter of Malk Liubechanin, whom historians identify with
Mal, prince of the Drevlyani. Having subdued an uprising of the
Drevlyani and conquered their cities, Princess Olga gave orders
to execute prince Mal, for his attempt to marry her after his
murder of her husband Igor, and she took to herself the children
Dobrynya and Malusha. Dobrynya grew up to be a valiant brave
warrior, endowed with a mind for state affairs, and he was later
on an excellent
help to his nephew Vladimir in matters of military and state
The "capable girl" Malusha became a Christian (together with GreatPrincess
Olga at Tsar'grad), but she preserved in herself a bit of the mysterious darkness
of the pagan Drevlyani forests. And thus she fell in love with the austere
warrior Svyatoslav, who against the will of his mother Olga made her his wife.
The enraged Olga, reckoning as unseemly the marriage of her "housekeeper" and
captive servant with her son Svyatoslav, heir to the Great Kiev principality,
sent Malusha away to her own native region not far off from Vybut'. And there
in about the year 960 was born the boy, called with the Russian pagan name – Volodimir,
meaning peaceful ruler, ruling with a special talent for peace.
In the year 970 Svyatoslav set out on a campaign from which he was fated
not to return. He had divided the Russian Land amongst his three sons. At
Yaropolk was prince; at Ovrucha, the centre of the Drevlyani lands, there
was Oleg; at Novgorod there was Vladimir. His first years as prince we see
as a fierce pagan. He heads a campaign, in which the whole of pagan Rus'
is sympathetic to him, against Yaropolk the Christian, or in any case, according
to the chronicles, "having given great freedom to the Christians",
on 11 July 978 he enters into Kiev, having become the "sole ruler" of
the Kiev realm, "having subdued the surrounding lands, some – by
peaceful means, and the unsubmissive ones – by the sword".
Young Vladimir indulged himself in a wild sensuous life, though far from
being the libertine that they sometimes portray him. He "shepherded his land
with truth, valour and reason", as a good and diligent master, of necessity
he extended and defended its boundaries by force of arms, and in returning
from military campaign, he made for his companions and for all Kiev liberal
and merry feastings.
But the Lord prepared him for another task. Where sin increases, there – in
the words of the Apostle, – grace abounds. "And upon him did come
visitation of the MostHigh, and the All-Merciful eye of the Good God didst
gaze upon him, and shine forth the thought in his heart, of understanding the
vanity of idolous delusion, and of appealing to the One God, Creator of all
things both visible and invisible". The matter of the acceptance of Baptism
was facilitated through external circumstances. The Byzantine empire was in
upheaval under the blows of the mutinous regiments of Bardas Skliros and Bardas
Phokas, each of which sought to gain the imperial throne. In these difficult
circumstances the emperors – the co-regent brothers Basil the Bulgar-Slayer
and Constantine, turned for help to Vladimir.
Events unfolded quickly. In August 987 Bardas Phokas proclaimed himself emperor
and moved against Constantinople, and in Autumn of that same year the emissaries
of emperor Basil were at Kiev. "And having exhausted his (Basil's) wealth,
it compelled him to enter into an alliance with the emperor of the Russes.
They were his enemies, but he besought their help, – writes one of the
Arab chronicles of events in the 980's. – And the emperor of the Russes
did consent to this, and did make common cause with him".
In reward for his military help, Vladimir besought the hand of the emperors'
sister Anna, which for the Byzantines was an unheard of audacity. Princesses
of the imperial lineage did not go off to marry "barbarian" rulers,
even though they be Christian. At this same time the emperor Otto the Great
was seeking the hand of this Anna for his son, and he was refused, but herein
regarding Vladimir Constantinople was obliged to consent.
An agreement was concluded, according to which Vladimir had to send in aid
to the emperors six thousand Varangians, to accept holy Baptism, and under
these conditions he would receive the hand of the imperial daughter Anna. Thus
in the strife of human events the will of God directed the entering of Rus'
into the graced bosom of the OEcumenical Church. GreatPrince Vladimir accepted
Baptism and dispatched the military assistance to Byzantium. With the aid of
the Russians, the mutineers were destroyed and Bardas Phokas killed. But the
Greeks, gladdened by their unexpected deliverance, were in no hurry to fulfill
their part of the agreement.
Vexed at the Greek duplicity, Prince Vladimir "hastened to collect his
forces" and he moved "against Korsun, the Greek city", the ancient
Chersonessus. The "impenetrable" rampart of the Byzantine realm
on the Black Sea fell, and it was one of the vitally important hubs of the
and mercantile links of the empire. This blow was so much felt, that its
echo resounded throughout all the regions of Byzantium.
Vladimir again had the upper hand. His emissaries, the voevoda-commanders
Oleg and Sjbern soon arrived in Tsar'grad for the imperial daughter. Eight
passed in Anna's preparation, during which time her brothers consoled her,
stressing the significance of the opportunity before her: to enable the enlightening
of the Russian realm and its lands, and to make them forever friends of the
Romanoi-Byzantine realm. At Taurida Saint Vladimir awaited her, and to his
titles there was added a new one – Caesar (tsar', emperor). It required
the haughty rulers of Constantinople to accede also in this – to bestow
upon their new brother-in-law the Caesar (i.e. imperial) insignia. In certain
of the Greek historians, Saint Vladimir is termed from these times as a "mighty
basileios-king", he coins money in the Byzantine style and is depicted
on it with the symbols of imperial might: in imperial attire, and on his head – the
imperial crown, and in his right hand – the sceptre with cross.
Together with the empress Anna, there arrived for the Russian cathedra-seat
metropolitan Michael – ordained by holy Patriarch Nicholas II Chrysobergos,
and he came with his retinue and clergy, and many holy relics and other holy
things. In ancient Chersonessus, where each stone brings to mind Saint Andrew
the First-Called, there took place the marriage-crowning of Saint Vladimir
and Blessed Anna, both reminiscent and likewise affirming the oneness of the
Gospel good-news of Christ in Rus' and in Byzantium. Korsun, the "empress
dowry", was returned to Byzantium. In the Spring of 988 the greatprince
with his spouse set out through the Crimea, Taman' and the Azov lands, which
had come into the complexion of his vast realm, on the trip of return to
Kiev. Leading the greatprincely cortege with frequent moliebens and incessant
singing they carried crosses, icons and holy relics. It seemed, that the
OEcumenical Holy Church was moving into the spacious Russian land, and renewed
in the font
of Baptism, Holy Rus' came forth to meet Christ and His Church.
There ensued the unforgettable and quite singular event in Russian history:
the morning of the Baptism of the Kievans in the waters of the River Dneipr.
On the evening beforehand, Saint Vladimir declared throughout the city: "If
anyone on the morrow goeth not into the river – be they rich or poor,
beggar or slave – that one be mine enemy". The sacred wish of the
holy prince was fulfilled without a murmur: "all our land all at the same
time did glorify Christ with the Father and the Holy Spirit".
It is difficult to overestimate the deep spiritual transformation – effected
by the prayers of Saint Vladimir, effected within the Russian people, in all
the entirety of its life and world-outlook. In the pure Kievan waters, as in
a "bath of regeneration", there was realised a mysteried transfiguration
of the Russian spiritual element, the spiritual birth of the nation, called
by God to yet unforeseen deeds of Christian service to mankind. – "Then
did the darkness of the idols begin to lift from us, and the dawn of Orthodoxy
appear, and the Sun of the Gospel didst illumine our land". In memory
of this sacred event, the renewal of Rus' by water and the Spirit, there was
established within the Russian Church the custom of an annual church procession "to
the water" on 1 August, combined afterwards with the feastday of the
Bring-Forth of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord,
in common with
the Greek Church, and likewise the Russian Church feastday of the All-Merciful
Saviour and the MostHoly Mother of God (established by Saint Andrei Bogoliubsky
in the year 1164). In this combination of feasts there is found a precise
expression of the Russian theological consciousness, for which both Baptism
and the Cross
Everywhere throughout Holy Rus', from the ancient cities to the far outposts,
Saint Vladimir gave orders to tumble down the pagan sanctuaries, to flog
the idols, and in their place to chop along the hilly woods for churches,
to consecrate altars for the Bloodless Sacrifice. Churches of God grew up
along the face of the earth, at high elevated places, and at the bends of
along the ancient trail "from the Variangians to the Greeks" – figuratively
as road signs, and lamps of national holiness. As regards the famed church-building
activity of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir, the Kiev Metropolitan Saint
Ilarion (author of the "Word about the Law and Grace") exclaimed: "They
demolished the pagan temples, and built up churches, they destroyed the idols
and produced holy icons, the demons are fled, and the Cross hath sanctified
the cities". From the early centuries of Christianity it was the custom
to raise up churches upon the ruins of pagan sanctuaries or upon the blood
of the holy martyrs. Following this practise, Saint Vladimir built the church
of Saint Basil the Great upon an hill, where a sanctuary of Perun had been
located, and he situated the stone church of the Uspenie-Dormition of the MostHoly
Mother of God (Desyatinnaya) on the place of the martyrdom of the holy Varangian-Martyrs
(Comm. 12 July). The magnificent temple intended to become the place of serving
for the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus' – and hence the primal-altar
of the Russian Church, was built in five years: it was richly adorned with
wall-fresco painting, crosses, icons and sacred vessels, brought from Korsun.
The day of the consecration of the church of the MostHoly Mother of God, 12
May (in some manuscripts 11 May), was ordered by Saint Vladimir to be inserted
as an annual celebration in the Church-kalendar lists. This event was tied
in with other previous happenings for the celebration of 11 May, and it provided
the new Church a twofold sense of succession. Under this day in the Saints
is noted the churchly "renewal of Tsar'grad" – dedicated by
the holy emperor Saint Constantine as the new capital of the Roman Empire,
the Constantine-city Constantinople, dedicated to the MostHoly Mother of God
(330). And on this same day of 11 May, under holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Olga,
there had been consecrated at Kiev the church of Sophia – the Wisdom
of God (in the year 960). Saint Vladimir, having had the cathedral church
consecrated to the MostHoly Mother of God, followed the example of Saint
dedicating the capital city of the Russian Land, Kiev, to the Queen of Heaven.
And then there was bestown on the Church a tithe or tenth; and since this
church had become the centre of the All-Russian gathering of churchly tithes,
called it the Desyatinnaya (Tithe) church. The most ancient text of the deed-grant
document, or churchly ustav-rule by holy Prince Vladimir spoke thusly: "For
I do bestow this church of the Holy Mother of God a tenth of all mine principality,
and likewise throughout all the Russian Land from all the princely jurisdiction
a tithe of squirrel-pelts, and from the merchant – a tithe of the week,
and from households each year – a tenth of every herd and every livelihood,
to the wondrous Mother of God and the wondrous Saviour". The ustav likewise
specified "church people" as being free from the jurisdictional power
of the prince and his "tiuni"-officials, and placed them under
the jurisdiction of the metropolitan.
The chronicle has preserved a prayer of Saint Vladimir, with which he turned
to the Almighty at the consecration of the Uspensky Desyatin-Tithe church: "O
Lord God, look Thou down from Heaven and behold, and visit Thine vineyard,
which Thy right-hand hath planted. And make this new people, whom Thou hast
converted in heart and mind – to know Thee, the True God. And look down
upon this Thine church, which Thy unworthy servant hath built in the name of
the Mother Who hath given birth to Thee, She the Ever-Virgin Mother of God.
And whosoever doth pray in this church, let his prayer then be heard, on account
of the prayers to the All-Pure Mother of God".
With the Desyatin-Tithe church and bishop Anastasii, certain historians have
made a connection with the beginnings of Russian chronicle writing. At it
were compiled the Vita-Life of Saint Ol'ga and the account of the Varangian-Martyrs
in their original form, and likewise the "Account, How in the Taking of
Korsun, Vladimir came to be Baptised". Here also there originated the
early Greek redaction of the Vitae-Lives of the holy Martyrs Boris and Gleb.
The Kiev Metropolitan cathedra-seat during the time of Saint Vladimir was
occupied successively by the Metropolitan Saint Michael (+ 15 June 991, Comm.
Metropolitan Theophylakt – transferred to Kiev from the see of Armenian
Sebasteia (991-997), Metropolitan Leontii (997-1008), and Metropolitan John
I (1008-1037). Through their efforts the first dioceses of the Russian Church
were opened: at Novgorod (its first representative was Sainted Joakim the Korsunite – +
1030, compiler of the Joakimov Chronicle), Vladimir-Volyn (opened 11 May 992),
Chernigov, Pereslavl', Belgorod, and Rostov. "And thus throughout all
the cities and villages there were set up churches and monasteries, and the
clergy did increase, and the Orthodox Faith did blossom forth and shine like
the sun". To advance the faith amongst the newly enlightened people, learned
people and schools were needed for their preparation. Saint Vladimir therefore
with holy Metropolitan Michael "did command fathers and mothers to take
their young children and send them to schools to learn reading and writing".
Saint Joakim the Korsunite (+ 1030) set up such a school at Novgorod, and they
did likewise in other cities. "And there were a multitude of schools of
scholars, and of these were there a multitude of wisdom-loving philosophers".
With a firm hand Saint Vladimir held in check enemies at the frontiers, and
he built cities with fortifications. He was the first in Russian history
to set up a "notched boundary" – a line of defensive points against
nomadic peoples. "Volodimir did begin to set up cities along the Desna,
along the Vystra, along the Trubezha, along the Sula and along the Stugna.
And he did settle them with the Novgorodians, the Smol'yani, the Chuds and
the Vyatichi. And he did war against the Pechenegs and defeated them".
But the actual means was often the peaceful Christian preaching amongst the
steppe pagans. In the Nikol'sk Chronicles under the year 990 was written: "And
in that same year there came to Volodimir at Kiev four princes from the Bulgars
and they were illumined with Divine Baptism". In the following year " there
came the Pecheneg prince Kuchug and accepted the Greek faith, and he was baptised
in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and did service to Vladimir
with a pure heart". Under the influence of the holy prince there were
baptised also several apparent foreigners, as for example, the Norwegian "koenig" (king")
Olaf Trueggvason (+ 1000) who lived several years at Kiev, and also the reknown
Torval'd the Wanderer – founder of a monastery of Saint John the Precursor
along the Dneipr near Polotsk, among others. In faraway Iceland the poet-skalds
called God the "Protector of the Greeks and Russians".
Amidst the Christian preaching was also the reknown feastings of Saint Vladimir:
after Liturgy on Sundays and Church Great-Feasts there were put out abundant
feasting tables for the Kievans, they rang the bells, choirs sang praise,
infirm" sang bylini-ballads and spiritual verses. On 12 May 996, for example,
on the occasion of the consecration of the Desyatin-Tithe church, the prince "made
a bright feast", "distributing goods to many of the poor, and destitute
and wanderers, and through the churches and the monasteries. To the sick and
the needy he delivered through the streets casks and barrels of mead, and bread,
and meat, and fish, and cheese, desiring that all might come and eat, glorifying
God". Feasts were likewise arrayed in honour of the victories of Kievan
bogatyr-warriors, and the regiments of Vladimir's retinue – of Dobrynya,
Aleksandr Popovich, Rogda the Bold.
In the year 1007 Saint Vladimir transferred the relics of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles
Ol'ga to the Desyatin-Tithe church. And four years later, in 1011, there
was also buried there his spouse and companion in many of his undertakings,
Blessed Empress Anna. After her death the prince entered into a new marriage – with
the young daughter of the German Graf Kuno von Enningen, grand-daughter of
the emperor Otto the Great.
The era of Saint Vladimir was a crucial initial period for the state formation
of Orthodox Rus'. The unification of the Slavic lands and the formation of
state boundaries under the domain of the Riurikovichi resulted from a strenuous
spiritual and political struggle with neighbouring tribes and states. The
Baptism of Rus' by Orthodox Byzantium was a most important step in its state
The chief enemy of Vladimir became Boleslav the Brave, whose plans included
the extensive unification of the West-Slavic and East-Slavic tribes under
the aegis of Catholic Poland. This rivalry arose still back in the times,
Vladimir was still a pagan: "In the year 6489 (981). Volodimir went against
the Lakhs and took their cities, Peremyshl', Cherven', and other cities, which
be under Rus'". The final years of the X Century are likewise filled
with the wars of Vladimir and Boleslav.
After a short lull (the first decade of the XI Century), the "great stand-off" enters
into a new phase: in the year 1013 at Kiev a conspiracy against Saint Vladimir
is discovered: Svyatopolk the Accursed, who is married to a daughter of Boleslav,
yearns for power. The instigator of the conspiracy is the clergyman of Boleslav – the
Kolobzheg Catholic bishop Reibern.
The conspiracy of Svyatopolk and Reibern was an all-out threat to the historical
existence of the Russian state and the Russian Church. Saint Vladimir took
decisive measures. All the three involved were arrested, and Reibern soon died
Saint Vladimir did not take revenge on those that "opposed and hated" him.
Under the pretense of feigned repentance, Svyatopolk was set free.
A new misfortune erupted in the North, at Novgorod. Yaroslav, still not so
very much "the Wise" – as he was later to go down in Russian
history, in the year 1010 having become ruler of Novgorod, decided to defect
from his father the greatprince of Kiev, and he formed his own separate army,
moving on Kiev to demand the customary tribute and tithe. The unity of the
Russian land, for which Saint Vladimir had struggled all his life, was threatened
with ruin. In both anger and in sorrow Saint Vladimir gave orders to "secure
the dams and set the bridges", and to prepare for a campaign against
Novgorod. His powers were on the decline. In the preparations for his final
happily not undertaken, the Baptiser of Rus' fell grievously ill and gave
up his spirit to the Lord in the village of Spas-Berestov, on 15 July 1015.
had ruled the Russian realm for thirty-seven years (978-1015), and twenty-eight
of these years had been spent since holy Baptism.
Preparing for a new struggle for power and hoping for Polish help in it, and
to play for time, Svyatopolk attempted to conceal the death of his father.
But patriotically inclined Kievan boyar-nobles, secretly by night, removed
the body of the deceased sovereign from the Berestov court, where Svyatopolk's
people were guarding it, and they conveyed the body to Kiev. At the Desyatin-Tithe
church the coffin with the relics of Saint Vladimir was met by Kievan clergy
with Metropolitan John at the head. The holy relics were placed in a marble
crypt, set within the Clement chapel of the Desyatin Uspenie church alongside
the marble crypt of Empress Anna...
The name and deeds of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir, whom the people
called the Splendid Sun, is interwoven with all the successive history of
the Russian Church. "Through him we too have come to worship and to know Christ,
the True Life, – testified Saint Ilarion. His deeds were continued by
his sons, and grandsons and descendants – rulers of the Russian land
over the course of almost six centuries: from Yaroslav the Wise with the taking
of the first steps towards the independent existence of the Russian Church – down
to the last of the Riurikovichi, tsar Feodor Ioannovich, under whom (in 1589)
the Russian Orthodox Church became the fifth independent Patriarchate in
the dyptich-lists of Orthodox Autocephalous Churches.
The feastday celebration to holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir was established
under Saint Alexander Nevsky, in memory of the intercession of Saint Vladimir
on 15 May 1240, for his help in gaining the reknown victory by Nevsky over
But the first reverencing of the holy prince began in Rus' rather earlier.
The Metropolitan of Kiev Saint Ilarion (+ 1053), in his "Word on Law and
Grace", spoken on the day of memory of Saint Vladimir at the saint's crypt
in the Desyatin-Tithe church, calls him "an apostolic sovereign", "like" Saint
Constantine, and he compares his apostolic evangelisation of the Russian
Land to that of the evangelisation by the holy Apostles.
Hieromartyr Athenogenes, bishop of Heracleopolis, and his ten
Commemorated on July 16/July 29
The PriestMartyr Athenogoras and his Ten Disciples suffered for
Christ during the time of persecution against Christians in the
city of Sebasteia. The governor Philomarkhos made a large festival
in honour of the pagan gods and summoned the Sebasteia citizenry
to offer sacrifice to the idols. But the inhabitants of Sebasteia,
Christian in the majority, refused to participate in the impious
celebration with its offering of sacrifice to idols. Soldiers were
ordered to kill people, and many Christians then accepted a martyr's
It came to the governor's attention, that Christianity was being widely spread
about by the graced preaching of Bishop Athenogoras. Orders were issued to
seek out the elder and arrest him. Saint Athenogoras and ten of his disciples
lived not far from the city in a small monastery. But not finding the bishop
there, the soldiers arrested his disciples. The governor gave orders to slap
them into chains and throw them in prison.
Saint Athenogoras came then to Sebasteia and began reproaching the judge
that those thrown into prison were guiltless. He was arrested. In prison,
Athenogoras encouraged his spiritual children for their impending deed. Led
forth to trial, all the holy martyrs confessed themselves Christians and
refused to offer sacrifice to idols. After undergoing fierce tortures, the
of the holy bishop were beheaded. And after the execution of the disciples,
the executioners were ordered to put the elder to the test of torture. Strengthened
by the Lord, Saint Athenogoras underwent the tortures with dignity. His only
request was – that he be executed in the monastery.
Taken to his own monastery, the saint in prayer gave thanks to God, and he
rejoiced in the sufferings that he had undergone for Him. Saint Athenogoras
besought of the Lord the forgiveness of sins of all those people, who should
remember both him and his disciples.
The Lord granted the saint to hear His Voice before death, announcing the
promise given to the penitent thief: "Today with Me thou shalt be in paradise".
The priestmartyr himself bent his neck beneathe the sword.
Virgin-martyr Julia of Carthage (440)
Commemorated on July 16/July 29
The Holy Martyress Julia was born in Carthagena into a Christian
family. While still a maiden she fell into captivity to the Persians.
They carried her off to Syria and sold her into slavery. Fulfilling
the Christian commandments, Saint Julia faithfully served her master,
and she preserved herself in purity, kept the fasts and prayed
much to God.
No amount of urging by her pagan master could sway her to idol-worship.
On time the master set off with merchandise for Gaul and took Saint Julia with
him. Along the way the ship stooped over at the island of Corsica, and the
master decided to take part in a pagan festivity, but Julia remained on the
ship. The Corsicans plied the merchant and his companions with wine, and when
they had fallen into a drunken sleep, they took Julia from the ship. Saint
Julia was not afraid to acknowledge that she was a Christian, and the savage
pagans crucified her on a cross.
An Angel of the Lord reported about the death of the holy martyress to the
monks of a monastery, situated on a nearby island. The monks took the body
of the saint and buried it in a church in their monastery.
In about the year 763 the relics of the holy Martyress Julia were transferred
to a women's monastery in the city of Breschia (historians give conflicting
years of the death of the saint: as either the V or VII Century).
Great-martyr Marina (Margaret) of Antioch in Pisidia (4th c.)
Commemorated on July 17/July 30
The Holy GreatMartyress
Marina was born in Asia Minor, in the city of Antioch, into the
family of a pagan priest.
she lost her mother, and her father gave her over into the care
of a nursemaid, who raised Marina in the Orthodox faith. Upon
learning that his daughter had become a Christian, the father angrily
her. During the time of the persecution against Christians under
the emperor Diocletian (284-305), Saint Marina at fifteen years
of age was arrested and locked up in prison. With firm trust
in the will of God and His help, the young prisoner prepared for
impending fate. The governor Olymbrios, charmed with the beautiful
girl, tried to persuade her to renounce the Christian faith and
become his wife. But the saint, unswayed, refused his false offers.
The vexed governor gave the holy martyress over to torture. Having
beaten her fiercely, they fastened the saint with nails to a
board and tore at her body with tridents. The governor himself,
to bear the horror of these tortures, hid his face in his hands.
But the holy martyress remained unyielding. Thrown for the night
into prison, she was granted Heavenly aid and healed of her wounds.
Tied to a tree, they scorched the martyress with fire. Barely
alive, the martyress prayed: "Lord, Thou hast granted me to go through
fire for Thine Name, grant me also to go through the water of holy
Hearing the word "water", the governor gave orders to drown the saint
in a large barrel. The martyress besought the Lord, that this manner of execution
should become for her holy Baptism. When they plunged her into the water, there
suddenly shone a light, and a snow-white dove came down from Heaven, bearing
in its beak a golden crown. The fetters put upon Saint Marina of themselves
came apart. The martyress stood up in the fount of Baptism glorifying the Holy
Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Saint Marina emerged from the
fount completely healed, without any trace of burns. Amazed at this miracle,
the people glorified the True God, and many came to believe. This brought
the governor into a rage, and he gave orders to kill anyone, who might confess
the Name of Christ. There then perished 15,000 Christians, and the holy Martyress
Marina was beheaded. The sufferings of the GreatMartyress Marina were described
by an eye-witness of the event, named Theotimos.
Up until the taking of Constantinople by Western crusaders in the year 1204,
the relics of the GreatMartyress Marina were situated in the Panteponteia monastery.
According to other sources, they were located in Antioch until the year 908
and from there transferred to Italy. Her venerable hand was transferred to
Athos, to the Batopedeia monastery.
Martyr Emilian of Silistra in Bulgaria (363)
Commemorated on July 18/July 31
The Holy Martyr Emelian, a Slav, suffered for Christ during the
reign of the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Julian wanted
to restore in the Roman empire the cult of the pagan gods, and
he circulated an edict throughout all the regions, according to
which all Christians would be subject to death.
The city of Dorostolum, situated on the banks of the River Dunaj (Danube),
where Saint Emelian lived, was governed by an official named Capitolinus. The
imperial edict was read in the city square. The people of Dorostolum said that
there were no Christians in the city.
Saint Emelian was a slave of the local city-head, and he was secretly a Christian.
Emboldened by the harsh edict, Saint Emelian snuck into the pagan temple, he
destroyed statues of the idols with an hammer, he overturned the altars and
the candle-stands, and then emerged without notice. But soon the pagans discovered,
that the pagan-temple was in ruins. An angry crowd began to beat up a certain
Christian, who by chance happened by. Saint Emelian then shouted out loudly,
that they should not lay hold of that innocent man, and then he said that he
himself had wrecked the pagan-temple. They seized hold of him and led him for
judgement to Capitolinus. By order of the official, Saint Emelian was for a
long time beaten mercilessly, and then he was condemned to burning. Thrown
into a bon-fire, he did not perish, but rather the flames burnt many of the
pagans standing about. And when the bon-fire had gone out, Saint Emelian lay
down upon the dying embers and with a prayer gave up his spirit to the Lord
(+ 363). At Constantinople afterwards there was built a church in honour of
the holy Martyr Emelian, wherein also they transferred his relics.
Martyr Hyacinth of Amastris (4th c.)
Commemorated on July 18/July 31
The Holy Martyr Iacynthos (Hyacinthe) (IV) was born into a pious
Christian family in the city of Amastridea (now Amastra in Anatolia).
An Angel which appeared gave him his name. As a three year old
boy Saint Iacynthos besought of God that a dead infant might be
resurrected, and the Lord hearkened to his childish prayer: the
dead one arose. Both lads afterwards grew up together, and together
they asceticised in virtuous life. Saint Iacynthos once noticed,
how the pagans were worshipping a tree, and so he chopped it down.
For this they subjected him to harsh tortures. They smashed out
all his teeth, and having bound him with rope, they dragged him
along the ground and threw him in prison. And it was there that
the holy sufferer expired to God.