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Author Topic: Lives of the Saints - an Information Only Thread  (Read 82323 times) Average Rating: 0
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Fr. George
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« on: December 06, 2007, 01:37:25 PM »

I want to start a location where we can post lives of the Saints, for people's edification, and to help bolster the resource material here on OC.net.

NO DEBATE PLEASE.

Below is a list of the Saints whose stories & sayings are in this thread, in order of posting.  A * indicates a duplicate entry (the first entry will not have the *).

If you are considering posting a new entry, please scan this list before you post.  You can use the search function of your browser to expedite the process, but remember that there may be alternate spellings (e.g. -us instead of -os) for the Saint's name.

Please include at least the name & feastday of the Saint, and a link to where the information comes from.

PAGE 1
St. Nicholas of Myra (Dec 6)
St. George (Apr 23)
All Saints of Britain and Ireland
St. Dympna of Gheel (May 15)
St. Peter of Alexandria (Hatour 29)
St. Kosmas Aitolos
Sts. Justinian & Theodora (Nov 14)
St. John of Damascus (Dec 4)
St. John of Otzoon
St. Lucy  (Dec 13)
Sts. Hermagoras and Fortunatus (Jul 12)
St. Juliana of Lazarevo
St. Savas the Sanctified (Dec 5)
Sts. Constantine & Helen (May 21)
St. Photios the Great (Feb 6)
St. Mark of Ephesus (Jan 19)
Sts. Rufus and Zosimus (Dec 18)
St. Sebastian & his companions
St. Elias the Cave-dweller (Sep 11)
St. Vrtanes
St. Krikoris
St. Husig
St. Patrick (Mar 17)
St. Sebastian of Rome (Dec 18)*
St. Laurence of Rome (Aug 10)
St. Maria Skobtsova (Jul 20)
St. Aristakes
St. Martin the Confessor (Apr 14)
St. Peter the Aleut (Sep 24/Dec 12)
St. Philothei (Feb 19)
St. Agatha of Palermo (Feb 5)
St. Ambrose of Milan (Dec 7)
Sts. Nicholas, Raphael, and Irene
St. Herman of Alaska (Aug 9 / Dec 13)
St. Hilary of Poitiers (Jan 13)
St. Martin of Tours (Nov 11)
St. Genevieve of Paris (Jan 3)

PAGE 2
St. Catherine (Nov 24)
St. Mary of Egypt (Apr 1)
St. Anastasia (Dec 22)
St. Sylvester (Jan 2)
St. Ammon (Dec 20)
St. Hripsime & St. Gayane & their companions
St. Ignatius (Dec 20)
St. Anastasios XII (Dec 21)
St. Moses
Sts. Sergius & Bacchus (Oct 7)
St. Juliana & her companions (Dec 21)
St. Zeno (Dec 22)
St. Chaeromon (Dec 22)
The Uncondemning Monk (Mar 30)
Sts. Emiliana & Tarsilla (Dec 24)
St. Stephen (Dec 27)
Sts. Gaspar & Balthasar (Dec 25)
10 Martyrs of Crete (Dec 23)
St. Matrona of Moscow (April 19)
St. John the Evangelist
St. Theodore the Confessor
St. Aileran (Dec 29)
Sts. Sarkis & Mardiros
St. Nicholas Planas (Mar 2)
Sts. Anysia & Anysios (Dec 30)
St. Sabinus (Dec 30)
St. Liberius (Dec 30)
St. Sylvester (Dec 31)
St. Melania (Dec 31)
St. Zoticos (Dec 31)
St. Aidan (Aug 31)
10 Martyrs of Crete (Dec 23)
St. Basil the Great (Jan 1)
St. Gregory Nazianzus
St. Aquilinus (Jan 4)
St. Rigobert (Jan 4)
St. Mavilus (Jan 4)
Sts. Theopemptos & Theonas (Jan 5)
St. Syncletica (Jan 5)
St. Syncletiki (Jan 5)
St. Oswald (Aug 5)
St. Athelm (Jan 8 )
St. Foellan (Jan 9)
St. Julian & companions (Jan 9)
St. Marcian (Jan 10)

PAGE 3
St. Nicanor (Jan 10)
St. Peter Urseolus (Jan 10)
St. Alexander (Jan 11)
St. Theodosius (Jan 11)
St. Theodosius Cenobiarch (Jan 11)
St. Hyginus (Jan 11)
St. Mary Magdalene (Jul 22)
St. Nicholas of Japan (Feb 3)
Sts. Cyril & Methodius (May 11)
St. Tikhon (Apr 7)
St. Andrew of Crete (Jul 4)
St. John Climacus (Mar 18)
St. Simeon the New Theologian (Mar 12)
St. Moses the Black (Aug 28)
St. Christopher (May 9)
7 Youths of Ephesus (Aug 4)
St. Simeon the New Theologian
St. Barbara (Dec 4)
St. Olaf (July 29)
St. Finnian of Clonard (Dec 12)
Sts. Sergius and Herman of Valaam
St. Anna of Novgorod
St. Gabriel the Youngling (Apr 20)
St. Gregory Peradze (Dec 6)
St. Euphrsyne of Polotsk (May 23)
St. Basil Martysz (Apr 21)
St. David of Wales (Mar 1)
St. Myrope of Ephesus and Chios (Dec 2)
St. Brigid
St. Benedict of Nursia (Mar 14)
Ruadan
St. Enda of Arranmore (Mar 21)
The Holy Orthodox Popes of Rome
St. Bishoy (Jul 15)
St. Anthony of Supraśl (Feb 4)
St. Cyril of Turov (Apr 28)
St. Maxim of Gorlice (Sep 6)
St. Sophia, Dutchess of Slutsk (Mar 19)
St. Matthew the Far-Sighted (Oct 5)

PAGE 4
St. Vladimir (Jul 15)
St. Benedict of Nursia (Mar 14)
St. Januarius (Apr 21)
St. Dionysios (Dec 17)
St. John Maximovich (Jul 2)
St. Athanasius of Brest (Sep 6)
St. Ignatius of Jableczna (Jul 28)
St. Finnian of Clonard (Dec 12/ 25)
St. Stylianus (Nov 26)
St. Manach of Lemonaghan (Jan 24)
St. Anthony the Great (Jan 17)
St. Adalbert the Hieromartyr, the Enlightener of Prussia (Apr 23)
St. Paul the Hieromartyr and St. Joanna the Martyr (Aug 15)
"Some Irish Saints of March"
St. Alexios, the Man of God (Mar 17)
St. James the Confessor (mar 21)
St. Anatole of Optina (Jul 30)
St. Rupert of Salzburg (Mar 14)
The Pre-Schism Orthodox Saints Who Evangelized Western Europe & The Scandinavian Lands
St. Irene the Great Martyr (May 5)
St. Anthony the Roman of Novgorod (Jan 17)
St. Attracta  (Aug 11)
St. Nicholas of Alma-Ata and Kazakhstan (Oct 12)
St. Barnabas the New Confessor (Oct 30)
34 Holy Martyrs of Valaam Monastery (Feb 20)
St. Frumentius
St. Ninian
St. Bruno of Querfurt (Feb 14)
St. Claudia (Aug 7)
Saints Benedict, John, Matthew, Isaac and Christian, the Protomartys of Poland (Nov 12)
St. Patrick (Mar 17)
« Last Edit: March 17, 2012, 08:55:54 AM by Michał Kalina » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2007, 01:37:58 PM »

The Life of St. Nicholas of Myra

http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsLife.asp?FSID=103484

St Nicholas the Wonderworker and Archbishop of Myra in Lycia
Commemorated on December 6

 
Saint Nicholas, the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia is famed as a great saint pleasing unto God. He was born in the city of Patara in the region of Lycia (on the south coast of the Asia Minor peninsula), and was the only son of pious parents Theophanes and Nonna, who had vowed to dedicate him to God.

As the fruit of the prayer of his childless parents, the infant Nicholas from the very day of his birth revealed to people the light of his future glory as a wonderworker. His mother, Nonna, after giving birth was immediately healed from illness. The newborn infant, while still in the baptismal font, stood on his feet three hours, without support from anyone, thereby honoring the Most Holy Trinity. St Nicholas from his infancy began a life of fasting, and on Wednesdays and Fridays he would not accept milk from his mother until after his parents had finished their evening prayers.

From his childhood Nicholas thrived on the study of Divine Scripture; by day he would not leave church, and by night he prayed and read books, making himself a worthy dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. Bishop Nicholas of Patara rejoiced at the spiritual success and deep piety of his nephew. He ordained him a reader, and then elevated Nicholas to the priesthood, making him his assistant and entrusting him to instruct the flock.

In serving the Lord the youth was fervent of spirit, and in his proficiency with questions of faith he was like an Elder, who aroused the wonder and deep respect of believers. Constantly at work and vivacious, in unceasing prayer, the priest Nicholas displayed great kind-heartedness towards the flock, and towards the afflicted who came to him for help, and he distributed all his inheritance to the poor.

There was a certain formerly rich inhabitant of Patara, whom St Nicholas saved from great sin. The man had three grown daughters, and in desparation he planned to sell their bodies so they would have money for food. The saint, learning of the man's poverty and of his wicked intention, secretly visited him one night and threw a sack of gold through the window. With the money the man arranged an honorable marriage for his daughter. St Nicholas also provided gold for the other daughters, thereby saving the family from falling into spiritual destruction. In bestowing charity, St Nicholas always strove to do this secretly and to conceal his good deeds.

The Bishop of Patara decided to go on pilgrimage to the holy places at Jerusalem, and entrusted the guidance of his flock to St Nicholas, who fulfilled this obedience carefully and with love. When the bishop returned, Nicholas asked his blessing for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Along the way the saint predicted a storm would arise and threaten the ship. St Nicholas saw the devil get on the ship, intending to sink it and kill all the passengers. At the entreaty of the despairing pilgrims, he calmed the waves of the sea by his prayers. Through his prayer a certain sailor of the ship, who had fallen from the mast and was mortally injured was also restored to health.

When he reached the ancient city of Jerusalem and came to Golgotha, St Nicholas gave thanks to the Savior. He went to all the holy places, worshiping at each one. One night on Mount Sion, the closed doors of the church opened by themselves for the great pilgrim. Going round the holy places connected with the earthly service of the Son of God, St Nicholas decided to withdraw into the desert, but he was stopped by a divine voice urging him to return to his native country. He returned to Lycia, and yearning for a life of quietude, the saint entered into the brotherhood of a monastery named Holy Sion, which had been founded by his uncle. But the Lord again indicated another path for him, "Nicholas, this is not the vineyard where you shall bear fruit for Me. Return to the world, and glorify My Name there." So he left Patara and went to Myra in Lycia.

Upon the death of Archbishop John, Nicholas was chosen as Bishop of Myra after one of the bishops of the Council said that a new archbishop should be revealed by God, not chosen by men. One of the elder bishops had a vision of a radiant Man, Who told him that the one who came to the church that night and was first to enter should be made archbishop. He would be named Nicholas. The bishop went to the church at night to await Nicholas. The saint, always the first to arrive at church, was stopped by the bishop. "What is your name, child?" he asked. God's chosen one replied, "My name is Nicholas, Master, and I am your servant."

After his consecration as archbishop, St Nicholas remained a great ascetic, appearing to his flock as an image of gentleness, kindness and love for people. This was particularly precious for the Lycian Church during the persecution of Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Bishop Nicholas, locked up in prison together with other Christians for refusing to worship idols, sustained them and exhorted them to endure the fetters, punishment and torture. The Lord preserved him unharmed. Upon the accession of St Constantine (May 21) as emperor, St Nicholas was restored to his flock, which joyfully received their guide and intercessor.

Despite his great gentleness of spirit and purity of heart, St Nicholas was a zealous and ardent warrior of the Church of Christ. Fighting evil spirits, the saint made the rounds of the pagan temples and shrines in the city of Myra and its surroundings, shattering the idols and turning the temples to dust.

In the year 325 St Nicholas was a participant in the First Ecumenical Council. This Council proclaimed the Nicean Symbol of Faith, and he stood up against the heretic Arius with the likes of Sts Sylvester the Bishop of Rome (January 2), Alexander of Alexandria (May 29), Spyridon of Trimythontos (December 12) and other Fathers of the Council.

St Nicholas, fired with zeal for the Lord, assailed the heretic Arius with his words, and also struck him upon the face. For this reason, he was deprived of the emblems of his episcopal rank and placed under guard. But several of the holy Fathers had the same vision, seeing the Lord Himself and the Mother of God returning to him the Gospel and omophorion. The Fathers of the Council agreed that the audacity of the saint was pleasing to God, and restored the saint to the office of bishop.

Having returned to his own diocese, the saint brought it peace and blessings, sowing the word of Truth, uprooting heresy, nourishing his flock with sound doctrine, and also providing food for their bodies.

Even during his life the saint worked many miracles. One of the greatest was the deliverance from death of three men unjustly condemned by the Governor, who had been bribed. The saint boldly went up to the executioner and took his sword, already suspended over the heads of the condemned. The Governor, denounced by St Nicholas for his wrong doing, repented and begged for forgiveness.

Witnessing this remarkable event were three military officers, who were sent to Phrygia by the emperor Constantine to put down a rebellion. They did not suspect that soon they would also be compelled to seek the intercession of St Nicholas. Evil men slandered them before the emperor, and the officers were sentenced to death. Appearing to St Constantine in a dream, St Nicholas called on him to overturn the unjust sentence of the military officers.

He worked many other miracles, and struggled many long years at his labor. Through the prayers of the saint, the city of Myra was rescued from a terrible famine. He appeared to a certain Italian merchant and left him three gold pieces as a pledge of payment. He requested him to sail to Myra and deliver grain there. More than once, the saint saved those drowning in the sea, and provided release from captivity and imprisonment.

Having reached old age, St Nicholas peacefully fell asleep in the Lord. His venerable relics were preserved incorrupt in the local cathedral church and flowed with curative myrrh, from which many received healing. In the year 1087, his relics were transferred to the Italian city of Bari, where they rest even now (See May 9).

St Nicholas is the patron of travelers, and we pray to him for deliverance from floods, poverty, or any misfortunes. He has promised to help those who remember his parents, Theophanes and Nonna.

St Nicholas is also commemorated on May 9 (The transfer of his relics) and on July 29 (his nativity).
« Last Edit: December 06, 2007, 01:44:18 PM by cleveland » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2007, 01:44:51 PM »

Life of St. George the Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer

http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsLife.asp?FSID=101184

Greatmartyr, Victory-bearer and Wonderworker George
Commemorated on April 23

 
The Holy Great Martyr George the Victory-Bearer, was a native of Cappadocia (a district in Asia Minor), and he grew up in a deeply believing Christian family. His father was martyred for Christ when George was still a child. His mother, owning lands in Palestine, moved there with her son and raised him in strict piety.

When he became a man, St George entered into the service of the Roman army. He was handsome, brave and valiant in battle, and he came to the notice of the emperor Diocletian (284-305) and joined the imperial guard with the rank of comites, or military commander.

The pagan emperor, who did much for the restoration of Roman might, was clearly concerned with the danger presented to pagan civilization by the triumph of the Crucified Savior, and intensified his persecution against the Christians in the final years of his reign. Following the advice of the Senate at Nicomedia, Diocletian gave all his governors full freedom in their court proceedings against Christians, and he promised them his full support.

St George, when he heard the decision of the emperor, distributed all his wealth to the poor, freed his servants, and then appeared in the Senate. The brave soldier of Christ spoke out openly against the emperor's designs. He confessed himself a Christian, and appealed to all to acknowledge Christ: "I am a servant of Christ, my God, and trusting in Him, I have come among you voluntarily, to bear witness concerning the Truth."

"What is Truth?" one of the dignitaries asked, echoing the question of Pontius Pilate. The saint replied, "Christ Himself, Whom you persecuted, is Truth."

Stunned by the bold speech of the valiant warrior, the emperor, who had loved and promoted George, attempted to persuade him not to throw away his youth and glory and honors, but rather to offer sacrifice to the gods as was the Roman custom. The confessor replied, "Nothing in this inconstant life can weaken my resolve to serve God."

Then by order of the enraged emperor the armed guards began to push St George out of the assembly hall with their spears, and they then led him off to prison. But the deadly steel became soft and it bent, just as the spears touched the saint's body, and it caused him no harm. In prison they put the martyr's feet in stocks and placed a heavy stone on his chest.

The next day at the interrogation, powerless but firm of spirit, St George again answered the emperor, "You will grow tired of tormenting me sooner than I will tire of being tormented by you." Then Diocletian gave orders to subject St George to some very intense tortures. They tied the Great Martyr to a wheel, beneath which were boards pierced with sharp pieces of iron. As the wheel turned, the sharp edges slashed the saint's naked body.

At first the sufferer loudly cried out to the Lord, but soon he quieted down, and did not utter even a single groan. Diocletian decided that the tortured one was already dead, and he gave orders to remove the battered body from the wheel, and then went to a pagan temple to offer thanks.

At this very moment it got dark, thunder boomed, and a voice was heard: "Fear not, George, for I am with you." Then a wondrous light shone, and at the wheel an angel of the Lord appeared in the form of a radiant youth. He placed his hand upon the martyr, saying to him, "Rejoice!" St George stood up healed.

When the soldiers led him to the pagan temple where the emperor was, the emperor could not believe his own eyes and he thought that he saw before him some other man or even a ghost. In confusion and in terror the pagans looked St George over carefully, and they became convinced that a miracle had occurred. Many then came to believe in the Life-Creating God of the Christians.

Two illustrious officials, Sts Anatolius and Protoleon, who were secretly Christians, openly confessed Christ. Immediately, without a trial, they were beheaded with the sword by order of the emperor. Also present in the pagan temple was Empress Alexandra, the wife of Diocletian, and she also knew the truth. She was on the point of glorifying Christ, but one of the servants of the emperor took her and led her off to the palace.

The emperor became even more furious. He had not lost all hope of influencing St George, so he gave him over to new and fiercesome torments. After throwing him into a deep pit, they covered it over with lime. Three days later they dug him out, but found him cheerful and unharmed. They shod the saint in iron sandals with red-hot nails, and then drove him back to the prison with whips. In the morning, when they led him back to the interrogation, cheerful and with healed feet, the emperor asked if he liked his shoes. The saint said that the sandals had been just his size. Then they beat him with ox thongs until pieces of his flesh came off and his blood soaked the ground, but the brave sufferer, strengthened by the power of God, remained unyielding.

The emperor concluded that the saint was being helped by magic, so he summoned the sorcerer Athanasius to deprive the saint of his miraculous powers, or else poison him. The sorcerer gave St George two goblets containing drugs. One of them would have quieted him, and the other would kill him. The drugs had no effect, and the saint continued to denounce the pagan superstitions and glorify God as before.

When the emperor asked what sort of power was helping him, St George said, "Do not imagine that it is any human learning which keeps me from being harmed by these torments. I am saved only by calling upon Christ and His Power. Whoever believes in Him has no regard for tortures and is able to do the things that Christ did" (John 14:12). Diocletian asked what sort of things Christ had done. The Martyr replied, "He gave sight to the blind, cleansed the lepers, healed the lame, gave hearing to the deaf, cast out demons, and raised the dead."

Knowing that they had never been able to resurrect the dead through sorcery, nor by any of the gods known to him, and wanting to test the saint, the emperor commanded him to raise up a dead person before his eyes. The saint retorted, "You wish to tempt me, but my God will work this sign for the salvation of the people who shall see the power of Christ."

When they led St George down to the graveyard, he cried out, "O Lord! Show to those here present, that You are the only God in all the world. Let them know You as the Almighty Lord." Then the earth quaked, a grave opened, the dead one emerged from it alive. Having seen with their own eyes the Power of Christ, the people wept and glorified the true God.

The sorcerer Athanasius, falling down at the feet of St George, confessed Christ as the All-Powerful God and asked forgiveness for his sins, committed in ignorance. The obdurate emperor in his impiety thought otherwise. In a rage he commanded both t Athanasius and the man raised from the dead to be beheaded, and he had St George again locked up in prison.

The people, weighed down with their infirmities, began to visit the prison and they there received healing and help from the saint. A certain farmer named Glycerius, whose ox had collapsed, also visited him. The saint consoled him and assured him that God would restore his ox to life. When he saw the ox alive, the farmer began to glorify the God of the Christians throughout all the city. By order of the emperor, St Glycerius was arrested and beheaded.

The exploits and the miracles of the Great Martyr George had increased the number of the Christians, therefore Diocletian made a final attempt to compel the saint to offer sacrifice to the idols. They set up a court at the pagan temple of Apollo. On the final night the holy martyr prayed fervently, and as he slept, he saw the Lord, Who raised him up with His hand, and embraced him. The Savior placed a crown on St George's head and said, "Fear not, but have courage, and you will soon come to Me and receive what has been prepared for you."

In the morning, the emperor offered to make St George his co-administrator, second only to himself. The holy martyr with a feigned willingness answered, "Caesar, you should have shown me this mercy from the very beginning, instead of torturing me. Let us go now to the temple and see the gods you worship."

Diocletian believed that the martyr was accepting his offer, and he followed him to the pagan temple with his retinue and all the people. Everyone was certain that St George would offer sacrifice to the gods. The saint went up to the idol, made the Sign of the Cross and addressed it as if it were alive: "Are you the one who wants to receive from me sacrifice befitting God?"

The demon inhabiting the idol cried out, "I am not a god and none of those like me is a god, either. The only God is He Whom you preach. We are fallen angels, and we deceive people because we are jealous."

St George cried out, "How dare you remain here, when I, the servant of the true God, have entered?" Then noises and wailing were heard from the idols, and they fell to the ground and were shattered.

There was general confusion. In a frenzy, pagan priests and many of the crowd seized the holy martyr, tied him up, and began to beat him. They also called for his immediate execution.

The holy empress Alexandra tried to reach him. Pushing her way through the crowd, she cried out, "O God of George, help me, for You Alone are All-Powerful." At the feet of the Great Martyr the holy empress confessed Christ, Who had humiliated the idols and those who worshipped them.

Diocletian immediately pronounced the death sentence on the Great Martyr George and the holy Empress Alexandra, who followed St George to execution without resisting. Along the way she felt faint and slumped against a wall. There she surrendered her soul to God.

St George gave thanks to God and prayed that he would also end his life in a worthy manner. At the place of execution the saint prayed that the Lord would forgive the torturers who acted in ignorance, and that He would lead them to the knowledge of Truth. Calmly and bravely, the holy Great Martyr George bent his neck beneath the sword, receiving the crown of martyrdom on April 23, 303.
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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2007, 05:25:46 PM »

Russian Church Institutes Feastday of All Saints of Britain and Ireland

(in English)  http://www.interfax.ru/e/B/politics/28.html?id_issue=11842406(in
(in Russian) http://www.interfax.ru/r/B/politics/2.html?id_issue=11842306


Moscow, August 21, 2007, Interfax - The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church instituted a holiday to honour Christians who lived on the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and were canonized before the 1054 schism that divided Christendom into the Western Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

The holiday will be an annual event observed on the third Sunday after Pentecost in the Julian Calendar.

The Synod, which met on Tuesday, also ordered that these saints' names be included in the Menology after their Christian exploits have been studied.

The Synod's decision follows an appeal of March 3, 2007, in which the diocese of Sourozh, a Russian Orthodox diocese having the islands of Great Britain and Ireland for its territory, asked the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II, and its Holy Synod to institute a holiday for pre-1054 British and Irish saints.

All Saints of Britain and Ireland pray to God for us.
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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2007, 05:29:31 PM »

I'd like to post some Lives of the Celtic Saints as their feastdays come along through the year.  But there are about 15,000 - too many to post all of them!

I put out a daily e-mail via Yahoo! with their Lives if anyone is interested in subscribing.

Lives of the Celtic Saints  - by daily e-mail
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints
 
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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2007, 05:51:57 PM »

Father,

Can you post the life of our Holy Mother St Dymphna?

Theophan.
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« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2007, 11:50:38 PM »

Hello,

Can we include those Saints on the Roman Calendar that the Orthodox might not have on theirs (i.e., Saint John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, etc.)?

Not to be insulting or dismissive, but this being an Orthodox Christian discussion forum, I'm not sure that would be such a good idea to post stories of men and women whom we Orthodox don't glorify as saints.  Not my call to make, however (AFAIK).
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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2007, 12:04:21 AM »

Can you post the life of our Holy Mother St Dymphna?
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From
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints/message/2678

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
St. Dympna of Gheel      15 May
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Died c. 650. Dympna is said to have been the daughter of a pagan Irish (from Monaghan?), British, or Amorican king and a Christian princess who died when she was very young, but who had baptized her daughter. As Dympna grew into a young woman, her uncanny resemblance to her dead mother aroused an incestuous passion in her father.

On the advice of her confessor, Saint Gerebernus (f.d. today), Dympna fled from home. Accompanied by Gerebernus and attended by the court jester and his wife, she took a ship to Antwerp. She then travelled through wild forest country until she reached a small oratory dedicated to Saint Martin on the site of the present-day town of Gheel (25 miles from Antwerp). The group settled there to live as hermits and during the several months before they were found, Dympna gained a reputation for holiness because of her devotion to the poor and suffering.

Dympna's father had pursued her to Antwerp, and he sent spies who found them by tracing their use of foreign coins. The king tried to persuade her to return, but when she refused, the king ordered that she and Gerebernus be killed. The king's men killed the priest and their companions but hesitated to kill Dympna. The king himself struck off her head with his sword. The bodies were left on the ground. They were buried by angelic or human hands on the site where they had perished.

The whole story gripped the imagination of the entire countryside especially because, according to tradition, lunatics were cured at her grave. Great interest in her cultus was renewed and spread when the translation of the relics of Dympna was followed by the cures of a number of epileptics, lunatics, and persons under evil influences who had visited the shrine.

Under her patronage, the inhabitants of Gheel have been known for the care they have given to those with mental illnesses. By the close of the 13th century, an infirmary was built. Today the town possesses a first-class sanatorium, one of the largest and most efficient colonies for the mentally ill in the world. It was one of the first to initiate a program through which patients live normal and useful lives in the homes of farmers or local residents, whom they assist in their labour and whose family life they share. The strength of Dympna's cultus is evidenced by this compassionate work of the people of Gheel for the mentally ill at a time when they were universally neglected or treated with hostility.

The body of Dympna is preserved in a silver reliquary in the church bearing her name. Only the head of Gerebernus rests there, the remains have been removed to Sonsbeck in the diocese of Muenster.

Many children in Belgium are called Dympna, but in Ireland she is remembered under the form Damhnat, while in England Daphne is used.

Dympna is invoked against insanity, mental illness of all types, asylums for the mentally ill, nurses of the mentally ill, sleepwalking, epilepsy, and demoniac possession (Roeder). Her feast day is kept in Ireland and Gheel.

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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2007, 10:59:04 AM »

The Coptic Synaxarium Reading for: Hatour 29
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The Martyrdom of St. Peter, the Seal of the Martyrs, 17th Pope of Alexandria.
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This day marks the martyrdom of St. Peter, the 17th Pope of Alexandria and the seal of the martyrs. His father was the archpriest of Alexandria whose name was Theodosius, and his mother's name was Sophia.

St Peter's parents were God-fearing people and they had no children. On the fifth day of the Coptic month of Abib, the feast of the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, St Peter's mother went to church and saw other mothers carrying their children. She was exceedingly sorrowful and she wept. She besought our Lord Jesus Christ with many tears, to grant her a son. That night, Sts Peter and Paul appeared to her and told her that the Lord had accepted her prayers and that He would give her a son, and to call him Peter. They commanded her to go to the Patriarch, to bless her. When she woke up, she told her husband about what she saw and he was exceedingly glad. Then she went to the father, the Patriarch and told him about what she saw and asked him to pray for her. He prayed and blessed her.

Shortly after, she gave birth to this saint and called him Peter. When he was 7 years old, they gave him to Pope Theonas, as was done with Samuel the prophet and he became as a son to him. He placed him in the theological school where he received his education and excelled in preaching and counseling. He then ordained him as a reader, then as a deacon, and shortly after as a priest. He relieved the Pope of many church administrative duties.

Before Pope Theonas' departure, he recommended that Abba Peter be his successor. When he was enthroned on the See of St. Mark, the church was enlightened by his teachings.

It came to pass in the city of Antioch, that a man of high authority had agreed with Diocletian the Emperor, to return to paganism. That man had two children and because of him, their mother could not baptize them there. Therefore, she took them to Alexandria. On her way there, the sea was troubled by a violent storm and she was afraid that her two sons would drown and die without being baptized. She therefore dipped them in the sea three times saying, "In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit," then she cut her breast and with her blood made the sign of the Holy Cross over their foreheads.

Eventually, the troubled sea calmed down and she arrived safely to Alexandria with her sons. On the same day, she brought them to be baptized. Whenever the Patriarch St. Peter tried to baptize them, the water would solidify as stone. This happened three times. When he questioned her, she informed him of what had happened to her at sea. He marvelled and praised God saying, "That is what the church proclaims, that it is one baptism." Therefore, the baptism she performed in the sea was accepted by the Lord.

Also in the days of this Pope, Arius the heretic appeared and St. Peter advised him several times to turn from his wicked thoughts, but he would not hearken to him. Consequently, he excommunicated him and prevented him from fellowship with the church.

Arius contacted Emperor Maximianus, the infidel, and reported to him that Peter, the Patriarch of Alexandria, incited the people not to worship the gods. The Emperor was outraged and he sent messengers with orders to cut off his head. When they arrived in Alexandria, they attacked the people and destroyed most of the cities of Egypt. They robbed all their valuables, their women and children. In total, about 840 thousand of them were killed, some with the sword, some with starvation and some with imprisonment. Then they returned to Alexandria and captured the father, the Patriarch, and imprisoned him.

When the people heard about their shepherd's arrest, they gathered in front of the prison door and wanted to save him by force. The officer in charge of his slaying was worried that the general peace would be disrupted, so he postponed the execution till the next day. When the saint saw what had happened, he wanted to deliver himself to death for his people, for he feared what might happen to his flock. He wished to depart and be with Christ, without causing any disturbances or troubles. He sent for his people and he comforted them and advised them to adhere to the true faith.

When Arius, the infidel, learned that St. Peter was departing to be with the Lord, leaving him under the band of excommunication, he entreated him, through the high priests, to absolve him. St. Peter refused and told them that the Lord Christ had appeared to him this night in a vision, wearing a torn robe. St. Peter asked Him, "My Lord, who rent Your robe?" The Lord replied, "Arius has rent My robe, because he separated Me from My Father. Beware of accepting him."

After this, St. Peter summoned the Emperor's messenger in secret and advised him to dig a hole in the prison's wall on the side where there were no Christians. The officer was amazed at the bravery of the father and he did as he commanded him. He took him out of prison secretly and brought him outside the city, to where the tomb of St. Mark the evangelist, Egypt's evangelist. There, he kneeled down and asked the Lord, "Let the shedding of my blood mark the end of the worship of idols and be the end of the shedding of the blood of Christians." A voice came from heaven and was heard by a saintly virgin who was near that place. It said, "Amen. May it be to you according to your wishes." When he finished his prayer, the swordsman advanced and cut off his holy head.

The body remained in its place until the people went out hurriedly from the city to the place where he was martyred, because they did not know what had happened. They took the pure body and dressed it in the pontifical clothes and seated him on the seat of St. Mark, which he refused to sit on during his life. He used to say that he saw the power of God sitting on the Chair and therefore, he did not dare to sit on it.

Then they placed his body with the bodies of the saints. He occupied the throne of St. Mark for 11 years.

His prayers be with us. Amen.
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« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2007, 04:48:43 PM »

One of the most important and attractive individuals to appear among the Greek people during the period they were subject to the Ottoman Turks was a diminutive monk named Kosmas. Because he was a native of the province of Aitolia in western Greece, he is best known as Kosmas the Aitolian, although among the people of his time he was simply referred to as Father Kosmas.

His love, concern, and tireless labor among ordinary people, his honest and forthright preaching, his unassuming character, his sterling and uncompromising personality, and his great love for and dedication to Jesus Christ earned for him the titles of 'Equal to the Apostles,' 'Teacher of the Greek Nation,' and the 'Apostle of the Poor.'

The impact Father Kosmas had on the people-both lay and clergy-was such that he was considered a saint many years before he was cruelly put to death by the Turks. The secret of his great success was due, above all, to the fact that he not only preached the Gospel but lived it in such a way that many who heard him were moved to follow in his footsteps.

According to Kostes Loverdos, a writer of the past century:

The anchorite and hieromonk Kosmas arrived [in Kephallenia] in 1777. Initially, he preached in the rural areas and then in the city, being followed by thousands of inhabitants of every class and sex. The austerity of his character, the evangelical simplicity of his words and the power of his arguments brought about such a transformation of life that families that were enemies were seen living together as brothers, having exchanged the kiss of peace and asking of each other forgiveness. Men who had committed serious crimes were seen crying bitterly over their sins. Broken marriages of long standing were restored again. Prostitutes abandoned their shameful work and returned filled with repentance and prudence. Rich upper class young ladies gave away their valuable jewelry to the poor or to churches. Court trials ceased. Stolen articles were returned. Insults were forgiven. Depraved men took up the monastic habit and followed the preacher. In a few words, the appearance of the island was transformed." (See Historia tes nesou Kephallenias. . . [Kephallenia, 18881, pp. 171-72.)

Kosmas, who was baptized Konstas, was born in a mountain village named Mega Dendron (Great Tree) in 1714 to parents who hailed from Epiros but had moved to the province of Aitolia, where they worked as weavers. Kosmas remained and worked with his parents until the age of twenty. He had received little or no formal education during this time, although his brother Chrysanthos had given him the rudiments, of an education when he was much younger.

Unhappy with his life and with his inability to understand the Gospel which he loved to hear in church, Kosmas decided to leave his village and his parents to receive an education.

Kosmas first attended the school in the village of Segditsa. Later he moved on to the School in Lompotina, where he studied with the teacher Ananias Dervisianos. In four years, Kosmas had made such progress in his studies that he was appointed an assistant teacher in the same school.

Kosmas, however, did not confine himself to teaching; he often preached in the church as well, thus giving an early expression to what would be his life's work.

From the village of Lompotina Kosmas moved on to the school in the village of Gouva, in the area of Vragiana, whose school was directed by his brother Chrysanthos. There Kosmas studied Greek, theology, and even some medicine. The latter would prove very useful to him during his ministry among the poor and often illiterate mountain populations he felt called to serve.

How long Kosmas remained in Vragiana is not known. Nor do we know many details of his life for the next ten years, for Father Kosmas rarely spoke of himself, and his biographer and disciple, Sapheiros Christodoulides, adds few facts. Father Kosmas was too modest, while Christodoulides was more interested in the Teaching of Kosmas and in the miracles that accompanied his preaching and work than in biographical details.

Once, feeling the need to introduce himself to his audience, Kosmas said:


My false, earthly, and fruitless homeland is the province of Arta, in the district of Apokouro. My father, my mother, my family are pious Orthodox Christians. However, I too am, my brethren, a sinful man, worse than anyone. But I'm a servant of our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified - . . . Leaving my homeland fifty years ago, I traveled to many places . . . and especially to Constantinople. I stayed the longest on the Holy Mountain, seventeen years, where I wept over my sins. (See page 157)

We know that Kosmas went to Mount Athos in 1749 to attend the Theological Academy established there in the same year by Patriarch Kyrillos V (I 748-5 1 ; 1752-57) at the Monastery of the Great Lavra. At Athonias, the name by which the Academy was known, Kosmas studied under such well-known clergymen-teachers as Neophytos Kafsokalyvites, Panagiotes Palamas, and especially Evgenios Voulgares, who was the school's most distinguished director and teacher.

Unfortunately for theological education, within ten years trouble and conflict arose in the Academy which resulted in Voulgares' departure. Months later, Kosmas also left (the Academy would close within the next year) and entered the Monastery of Philotheou where he became a monk, changing his name from Konstas to Kosmas.

In Kosmas' own words: "I stayed the longest on the Holy Mountain, seventeen years, where I wept over my sins. Among the countless gifts which my Lord has granted me, he made me worthy to acquire a little Greek learning and I became a monk." (page 15)

Months later, Kosmas the monk responded to the invitation of his fellow monks and was ordained deacon and then priest. But the life of a cloistered monk was insufficient for Kosmas. He felt the very strong need to leave the quiet of the monastery to enter the 'world' and serve his fellow Christians. "Studying the holy and sacred Gospel," he said, "I found in it many and different teachings which are all pearls, diamonds, treasures, riches, joy, gladness eternal life. Among the other things I also found this teaching which Christ says to us: no Christian, man or woman, should be concerned only with himself, how he can be saved, but must be concerned also with his brethren so that they may not fall into sin." (pages 15-16)

Convinced that he had a call to preach, Kosmas received permission from Patriarch Sophronios 11 of Constantinople (1757-61). For the next nineteen years, beginning in 1760, Father Kosmas became an itinerant preacher, spending most of his time among the poorest and most unfortunate of his fellow Orthodox Christians. Traveling on foot, by donkey and by ship, followed by scores and often by hundreds and even thousands of men and women, priests and monks, Kosmas undertook three 'apostolic' journeys. The first took him from Mt. Athos to Constantinople (Istanbul), through European Turkey and Macedonia, Thessaly, and Aitolia, crossing over to the island of Kephallenia. On his second journey he covered much of the same provinces except that he visited the islands of Skiathos and Skopelos instead of Kephallenia and spent much additional time in Aitolia, going northward into Epiros and southern and central Albania. His third and final journey was spent primarily in Albania, Epiros, Aitolia and Thessaly, but also included the Ionian Islands, the Kyklades, and even some of the Dodecanese Islands.

Among the factors contributing to Kosmas' enormous success as a preacher were his humility and his identification with the people among whom he moved and worked.

"Not only," he said of himself, "am I not worthy to teach you, but not even worthy to kiss your feet, for each of you is worth more than the entire world." (page 14) On another occasion he said: "I'm a servant of our Lord God Jesus Christ who was crucified. Not that I'm worthy to be a servant of Christ, but Christ condescended to have me because of his compassion." (page 15)

He spoke in their language, taking his illustrations from the experiences and surroundings with which they were familiar. He was selfless, ex ' pending all of his time and energy in the service of others, while never accepting any payment for his services.

Hearing, my brethren, this sweetest teaching which our Christ spoke, that we should labor among our brethren without charge, it seemed to me in the beginning to be very hard. Later, however, it seemed very sweet, like a honeycomb, and I glorified and glorify my Christ a thousand times because he guarded me from the passion for money. So with the grace of our Lord and God Jesus Christ, the Crucified One, I have neither purse, nor house, nor chest, nor another cassock from the one I am wearing." (pages 16-17)

Although he was a monk who believed monks could only be saved if they remained in monasteries, Father deliberately took Ms chances:

A monk can't be saved in any other way except to escape far from the world . . . But you may say, you too are a monk. Why are you involved in the world? I too, my brethren, do wrong. But because our race has fallen into ignorance, I said to myself, let Christ lose me, one sheep, and let him win the others. Perhaps God's compassion and your prayers will save me too." (page 111)

In addition to feeding the soul, Father Kosmas attempted to feed the body as well as the mind. He spoke out against social injustices, against the abuse of the poor and uneducated and against the inequities that existed between men and women. Moreover, Kosmas was a great foe of illiteracy and a strong advocate of education.

Against social injustice and the abuse of the poor by the economically more affluent he said:


We too, my brethren, if we wish to call our God father must be compassionate, and cause our brethren to rejoice, and then we can call God father. If, however, we are merciless, hardhearted, and we cause our brethren to be poisoned, we put death in their hearts." (page 22)

On another occasion he urged:


You elders who are heads of the villages, if you wish to be saved, should love all the Christians as your children and should apportion taxes according to each person's ability to pay and not play favorites. (page 53)

Against what today we could call male chauvinism, Kosmas boldly preached to the mountaineers of Epiros and Albania:

Don't treat your wife like a slave, because she is God's creature as you are. God was crucified for you as he was for her. You call God father; she calls him father too. You have one faith, one baptism. God does not consider her inferior. (page 28)
On another occasion he said:

There are women who are better than men. If perhaps you men wish to be better than women, you must do better works than they do. If women do better works they go to paradise and we men who do evil works go to hell. What does it profit us if we are men? It would be better if we were not born. (pages 97-98)

On the subject of schools and education, Father Kosmas said:

It is better, my brother, for you to have a Greek school in your village rather than fountains and rivers, for when your child becomes educated, then he is a human being. The school opens churches; the school opens monasteries. (page 77)
He advised the people of the town of Parga: "Take care to establish without fail a Greek School in which your children will learn all that you are ignorant of." Kosmas believed that our faith wasn't established by ignorant saints, but by wise and educated saints who interpreted the Holy Scriptures accurately and who enlightened us sufficiently by inspired teachings." (page 145)

Father Kosmas was persuasive enough so that in over two hundred towns and villages he was instrumental in establishing schools where none existed before. His moral authority was such that he was able not only to raise the money needed to establish the schools and to maintain them, but with the consent of the inhabitants to appoint teachers and overseers for those schools, as illustrated from his letters.

I appointed, with the consent of all, Mr. Ioannes, son of Panos, trustee; and Mr. Demos, son of Ioannes the priest, and Mr. Stavros, son of Demos, overseers and his assistants to govern the school as the Lord inspires them. '(page 150)
Kosmas' invaluable and fundamental contribution to education has caused the Greek people to regard him as a 'National Saint' and a 'Teacher of the Nation.'

"My beloved children in Christ," he said, "bravely and fearlessly preserve our holy faith and the language of our Fathers, because both of these characterize our most beloved homeland, and without them our nation is destroyed." (page 146).

Father Kosmas' primary interest in education, however, was religious. He saw in education an indispensable tool for the understanding of Orthodoxy. "Schools enlighten people. They open the eyes of the pious and Orthodox Christians to learn the Sacraments." (page 91 ) In another Teaching he said: "Schools may open the way to the church. We learn what God is, what the Holy Trinity is, what an angel is, what virtues, demons, and hell are." (page 108) Elsewhere he noted: "Blessed Christians, a large number of churches neither preserve nor strengthen our faith as much as they should if those who believe in God aren't enlightened by both the Old and New Testaments." (page 145)

In the eighteenth century the Orthodox Church was faced with a growing number of defections among the poor and illiterate Orthodox to Islam, especially in the areas of Albania and western Greece. There the Orthodox were under especially severe social, economic, and religious pressures by the dominant Moslems. It was Father Kosmas' belief that the establishment of schools where the Orthodox faith would be taught would be able to stem the tide.

So, my children, [he advised the people of Parga] to safeguard your faith and the freedom of your homeland, take care to establish without fail a Greek School. (page 145)
But Father Kosmas was realistic enough to know that this was not enough. "How can our nation be preserved," he asked, "without harm in its religion and freedom when the sacred clergy is disastrously ignorant of the meaning of the Holy Scriptures which are the light and foundation of the faith?" (page 145)

The only schools available at that time, besides the Moslem schools, were those conducted in Greek. This is why Kosmas discouraged the use of other languages (Albanian and Romanian) and strongly urged the Orthodox to use Greek. "Teach [your children] their letters, and especially Greek, because our Church uses the Greek language." (page 80)

Perhaps the most significant of Father Kosmas' teachings is his treatment of Christian love. For this 'Apostle of Love,' love is not something a person theorizes about, but something that one practices.

Kosmas never tired of saying:

God has many names ... but his principle name is love ... All Christians must have two loves, one for God and one for our fellow human beings. Without [these two loves], it is impossible to be saved. (pages 90-91)
Standing on a low pulpit a gift of one of the local Turkish officials-in front of a large wooden Cross, as was his custom, Father Kosmas was not content merely to repeat the above words concerning love, but he immediately challenged people to love and translate this love into effective and meaningful assistance to those in need. Agreeing that love was important and necessary was meaningless for Father Kosmas unless one was willing to prove it with deeds.

"How can I determine, my son, whether or not you love your brethren?" he challenged someone in his audience.

"Do you love that poor boy?" "I do," was the reply.

"If You loved him you would buy him a shirt because he is naked ... Will you do it?"

"Yes." (page 22)

Father Kosmas was able to challenge his listeners to respond Positively to the call to love because he himself was an example of that kind of love. Therefore, when he said: "Perfect love is to sell all your possessions and to give alms, and even to sell yourself as a slave, and whatever you get to give in alms," and "whoever has wronged any Christian, Jew or Turk, return what you have taken unjustly because it is cursed and You'll never get ahead," his listeners responded immediately and Positively. (pages 46, 63)

Father Kosmas took his vow of poverty very seriously and never accepted anything for himself. But money was given to his followers and disciples. This money, however, was used to buy various articles which were distributed by the thousands among the people: kerchiefs, combs, crosses, prayer ropes, candles, booklets, and even baptismal fonts.

Consequently, when he advised men to allow their beards to grow, he provided them with combs which they could not buy for themselves. When he urged women to cover their heads, he gave them kerchiefs. When he advised parents to baptize their children, he helped provide various churches with baptismal fonts, and finally, when he counseled Christians to practice the Jesus Prayer he distributed prayer ropes to aid them in their concentration.

Any preacher who deals with social issues is bound to alienate some people whose interests are threatened. This happened to Father Kosmas as well. This attempt to elevate the educational level of the people and to eliminate illiteracy displeased those who preferred people ignorant. Village elders, landowners, and wealthy merchants felt their interests threatened when Father Kosmas called for just taxation, fair prices,
and equitable rents.

The atmosphere created by the unsuccessful revolution of the Greeks in the Peloponnese in 1770, inspired and led by the Orlov brothers, together with the real and imagined presence of Russian agents among the Orthodox people of the Balkans, made it easy for the Ottoman Turks to believe that Father Kosmas was himself an agent. Undoubtedly, the thousands of people who left their fields and jobs to follow Father Kosmas from place to place added to the uneasiness of the Turks and raised grave suspicions about his activities.

Father Kosmas waged a strong battle against the desecration of the Christian Sabbath. Town fairs and country bazaars were often held on Sundays, something Kosmas opposed and did everything in his power to change. He insisted that they be held on Saturdays. In this he was opposed by Jewish merchants, who naturally did not wish to engage in commerce on their own Sabbath. Allied with them were Christian merchants for whom Sunday was also more convenient. Consequently, Father Kosmas' death was fashioned by many interests: Christian, Jewish, and Turkish.

On 24 August 1779, Father Kosmas was in the city of Berat, Albania. Permission to seize him was secured from the local governor, Kurt Pasha, who was generously bribed and who heard Kosmas falsely accused of various crimes. To prevent any demonstration on the part of Father Kosmas' followers, he was apprehended in secret and many of his closest friends were imprisoned in a neighboring monastery.

Father Kosmas was taken to the neighboring village of Kalinkontasi, where he was hanged. After he died, his body was thrown into a nearby river from which it was retrieved a few days later by the priest Markos of the same village. Father Kosmas was buried in Father Markos' church with Metropolitan Ioasaph of Velegrada in attendance.

It is interesting to note that the initiative for the first church to be built in memory of Father Kosmas was taken by the Moslem ruler of Albania, Ali Pasha, who held Father Kosmas in high esteem not only because he believed Kosmas to be a holy man but also because Kosmas had earlier predicted great success for him.

In 1810 Ali Pasha became master of the city of Berat and its environs. Within four years he succeeded in raising the money required to build the first church in honor of St. Kosmas. Moreover, he personally contributed not only toward the building of the church but paid to have a silver reliquary made in which Kosmas' skull was placed and saw to it that the Saint's service (akolouthia) was composed. It was later printed in Venice by the Epirot printer Nicholas Glykys.

The people whom Father Kosmas loved and served did not wait for any official proclamation of his sainthood (this took place almost two hundred years later on 20 April 1961) to honor him as one of God's special servants. Father Kosmas became one of the most popular saints among Greek and Albanian Christians, a popularity which has increased as time has gone by.



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« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2007, 04:50:06 PM »

PROPHECIES AND SAYINGS of St. Kosmas


You will see people flying in the sky like blackbirds and hurling fire on the earth. Those alive then will run to the graves and shout: "Come out, you who are dead, and let us who are living in."

The cause of the general war will come from Dalmatia. Austria will be dismembered first and then Turkey.

That which is desired [i.e., freedom] will come in the third generation. Your grandchildren will see it.

France will liberate Greece, [while] Italy (will liberate) Epiros.

The villages of the plain will suffer destruction, while people at the foot of (Mount) Kissavo will go to sleep slaves and will awaken free.

The time will come when your enemies will take away from you even the ashes from your fires, but don't give up your faith as others will do.

The red hats [ie., the French] will come here [Kephallenia], and then the English for fifty-four years, and then this place will become Roman [i.e., Greek Orthodox].

The time will come when people will speak from one far place to another, for example, from Constantinople to Russia, as though they were in adjoining rooms.

A time will come when the harmony that exists now between clergy and laymen will not be.

Clergymen will become worse and more impious than everyone.

People will become impoverished because they will have no love for trees.

You will see in the plain a carriage without horses which will run faster than a rabbit.

The rich will become poor and the poor will die.

The time will come when the Romans [i.e., the Greek Orthodox] will fight among themselves. I recommend harmony and love.

A foreign army will come. It will believe in Christ, but it will not speak the (Greek) language.

After the general war, the wolf will live with the lamb.

People will become poor because they will become lazy.

They will ask for your rifles. Retain two. Give one and keep the other. A single rifle will save a hundred souls.

Out of schools will come things which your mind can't imagine.

http://www.stmaryofegypt.org/kosmas/prophecies.html

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« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2007, 11:14:32 AM »

Not to be insulting or dismissive, but this being an Orthodox Christian discussion forum, I'm not sure that would be such a good idea to post stories of men and women whom we Orthodox don't glorify as saints.  Not my call to make, however (AFAIK).

You might start a parrallel thread on the Orthodox-Catholic forum.

You might want to put ones like Josaphat Kuntsevych on the private forum.
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« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2007, 11:54:05 AM »

Hello,

You might start a parrallel thread on the Orthodox-Catholic forum.

You might want to put ones like Josaphat Kuntsevych on the private forum.

I was just going to ask that very question. Well, you know what they say about great minds ... Wink
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« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2007, 08:15:34 PM »

The Holy and Right-Believing Emperor Justinian I and Empress Theodora

Commemorated on:

November 14th


Justinian

Justinian's full name was Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Justinianus. He is said to be of Slavic descent, probably born in a small village called Tauresium in Illyricum, near Scupi (present day Skopje, Macedonia), on May 11, 483, to Vigilantia. His mother Vigilantia was the sister of the highly esteemed General Justin, who rose from the ranks of the army to become emperor. His uncle adopted him and ensured the boy's education. Justinian was superbly well educated in jurisprudence, theology and Roman history. His military career featured rapid advancement, and a great future opened up for him when, in 518, Justin became emperor. Justinian was appointed consul in 521, and later as commander of the army of the east. He was functioning as virtual regent long before Justin made him associate emperor on April 1, 527.

Four months later, Justinian became the sole sovereign upon Justin I's death. His administration had world-wide impact, constituting a distinct epoch in the history of the Byzantine Empire and the Orthodox Church. He was a man of unusual capacity for work (sometimes called the "emperor who never sleeps") and possessed a temperate, affable, and lively character, but he was also unscrupulous and crafty when it served him. He was the last emperor to attempt to restore the Roman Empire to the territories it enjoyed under Theodosius I.

He surrounded himself with men and women of extraordinary talent, "new men" culled not from the aristocratic ranks, but appointed based on merit. In 523 he married Theodora, who was by profession a courtesan (or actress or circus performer, according which source one believes) about 20 years his junior. According to the historian Procopius, notorious for his slanderous dislike of the royal couple, Justinian is said to have met her at a show where she and a trained goose performed Leda and the Swan, a play that managed to mock Greek mythology and Christian morality at the same time. Justinian would have, in earlier times, been unable to marry her because of her class, but his uncle Emperor Justin I had passed a law allowing intermarriage between social classes. Theodora would become very influential in the politics of the empire, and later emperors would follow Justinian's precedent and marry outside of the aristocratic class. The marriage was a source of scandal, but Theodora would prove to be very intelligent, "street smart," a good judge of character, and Justinian's greatest supporter.

Justinian achieved lasting influence for his judicial reforms, notably the summation of all Roman law, something that had never been done before. Justinian commissioned quaestor Tribonian to the task, and he issued the first draft of the Corpus Juris Civilis on April 7, 529, in three parts: Digesta (or Digest or Pandectae), Institutiones (or Institutes), and the Codex. The Corpus forms the basis of Latin jurisprudence (including ecclesiastical canon law: "ecclesia vivit lege romana," "the Church lives under Roman law"). It ensured the survival of Roman law, which would pass to the West in the 12th century and later to Eastern Europe, including Russia. It remains influential to this day.

Justinian also took a very firm stance in his support of Orthodoxy; he fought different heresies throughout his rule. At the beginning of his reign, he promulgated by law belief in the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation, and subsequently declared that he would deprive all disturbers of orthodoxy due process of law. He made the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed the sole symbol of the Church and accorded legal force to the canons of the four Ecumenical Councils. At the command of the sovereign, the Fifth Ecumenical Council was convened in the year 553, censuring the teachings of Origen and affirming the definitions of the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon. He also attempted to secure religious unity within the Empire through his (unsuccessful) dialogues with the non-Chalcedonians. He appointed Theodora, a convert from Monophysitism, as his special envoy to deal with those who rejected Chalcedon. Besides Monophysitism, other ecclesiastical tensions had begun to emerge between the East and the West; the "Three Chapters" controversy brought all of these to a head.

The Emperor was instrumental in the building of numerous churches. He gave orders to build 90 churches for the newly-converted and generously supported church construction within the Empire. The finest structures of the time are considered to be the monastery at Sinai, and the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. Under St. Justinian many churches were built dedicated to the Theotokos. Since he had received a broad education, St. Justinian assiduously concerned himself with the education of clergy and monks, ordering them to be instructed in rhetoric, philosophy, and theology. He neglected no opportunity for securing the rights of the Church and clergy, for protecting and extending monasticism: his law codes contain many enactments regarding donations, foundations, and the administration of ecclesiastical property; election and rights of bishops, priests, and abbots; monastic life, residential obligations of the clergy, conduct of divine service, and episcopal jurisdiction.

Justinian's standardization of the Divine Liturgy included introducing the Cherubic Hymn, and two oft-used troparia of the Church, Only Begotten Son and O Gladsome Light are traditionally accredited to him.

In his personal life, St. Justinian was strictly pious, and he fasted often. During Great Lent he would not eat bread nor drink wine, but lived on only water and vegetables. He is also remembered for promoting the idea of "symphony" between church and state.


Theodora

There are two histories concerning the early life of Theodora. The best known account is the Secret History allegedly written by Procopius. Its authorship is questioned by most scholars because it was discovered in the Vatican three centuries after the empress's death and the style of the writing bears no resemblance to Procopius's other works. According to this account, Theodora was born into the lowest class of Byzantine society, the daughter of a bearkeeper for the circus. Critics of this work dismiss it as pornographic and western propaganda.

The second source was written by Bishop Eusebius, a contemporary of Theodora. Eusebius states that she was the daughter of a Roman senator who died during Theodora's early childhood. After her father's death, Theodora and her mother lived in Egypt, where her mother died soon after. According to Eusebius, Theodora spent the remaining part of her young life in an Egyptian monastery, which accounted for her sympathetic views of Monophysitism.

It is believed by some scholars that sometime before meeting Justinian she became an adherent of the Monophysite Christianity, which claims Christ was of one nature, and remained their partisan throughout her life. Others instead argue that her association with Monophysitism is largely because of Justinian's putting her in charge of courting the Monophysites' reunion with the Chalcedonian party in the Church, and so while remaining Chalcedonian herself, she was pastorally favorable toward the non-Chalcedonians.

In 523 Theodora married Justinian, the magister militum praesentalis in Constantinople. On his ascension to the Roman Imperial throne in 527 as Justinian I, he made her joint ruler of the empire, and appears to have regarded her as a full partner in their rulership. This proved to be a wise decision. A strong-willed woman, she showed a notable talent for governance. In the Nika riots of 532, her advice and leadership for a strong (and militant) response caused the riot to be quelled and probably saved the empire. She also helped to mitigate the breach in Christianity that loomed large over her time; she probably had a large part in Justinian's efforts to reconcile the Monophysites to orthodoxy.

Many regard Theodora's achievements for women not as those of a modern feminist who encouraged abortion or adultery but rather as those of a truly egalitarian ruler who strove to give women the same legal rights as men. Theodora freed prostitutes from their pimps, established homes for them, and passed laws prohibiting forced prostitution. She also advocated granting women more rights in divorce cases, allowing women to own and inherit property, enacting the death penalty for rape, and allowing noblemen to marry women from lower classes. These changes raised women's status far above that current in the Western portion of the Empire.

Theodora died of cancer (probably breast cancer) before the age of 50, some 20 years before Justinian died. Her body was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles, one of the splendid churches the emperor and empress had built in Constantinople. Both Theodora and Justinian are represented in beautiful mosaics that exist to this day in the Church of San Vitale at Ravenna in northern Italy, which was completed a year before her death.
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« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2007, 10:29:51 PM »

St. John the Damascene, Hymnwriter and Defender of the Faith
Commemorated on December 4 (my patron saint)

--From the Lives of Saints by by Saint Nikolai (Velimirovich) Bishop of Zhica

John was first the chief minister to Caliph Abdul-Malik and later a monk in the Monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified. Because of his ardent defense of the veneration of icons during the reign of the iconoclastic Emperor Leo the Isaurian, John was maligned by the emperor to the Caliph, who cut off his right hand. John fell down in prayer before the icon of the Most-holy Theotokos, and his hand was rejoined and miraculously healed. Seeing this miracle the Caliph repented, but John no longer desired to remain with him as a nobleman. Instead, he withdrew to a monastery, where, from the beginning, he was a model to the monks in humility, obedience and all the prescribed rules of monastic asceticism. John composed the Funeral Hymns and compiled the Octoechos (The Book of Eight Tones), the Irmologion, the Menologion and the Paschal Canon, and he wrote many theological works of inspiration and profundity. A great monk, hymnographer, theologian and soldier for the truth of Christ, Damascene is numbered among the great Fathers of the Church. He entered peacefully into rest in about the year 776 at the age of 104.

HYMN OF PRAISE
Saint John Damascene


O wondrous trumpet of the Orthodox Faith,
O glorious monk of a glorious cenobium,
John the poet, champion of the Faith,
Holy sufferer for the holy icons,
Having glorified God you are now glorified;
Immortal trumpeter of eternal life,
You left the world for the sake of the Living Christ.
Having humbled yourself, you are glorified the more.
You took upon yourself the path of asceticism;
Through tears you beheld the heavenly mysteries;
By prayer and faith you performed miracles;
You conversed with the Mother of God.
The Faith-who could better expound it?
Who could glorify God with a sweeter hymn?
O harp of eternal truth, there is none like you,
No one like you, glorious Father Damascene.
Oh, raise even now your pure mouth,
And implore the Life-giving Christ for us,
That His mercy accompany us until death,
That we with you may glorify Him.


REFLECTION


Obedience, coupled with humility, is the foundation of the spiritual life, the foundation of salvation and the foundation of the overall structure of the Church of God. The great John Damascene-great in every good thing-as a monk left a deep impression on the history of the Church by his exceptional example of obedience and humility. Testing him one day, his elder and spiritual father handed him woven baskets and ordered him to take them to Damascus and sell them there. The elder established a very high price for the baskets, thinking that John would not be able to sell them at that price but would have to return with them. John, therefore, firstly had to go on a long journey; secondly, he had to go as a poor monk to the city where he, at one time, had been the most powerful man after the Caliph; thirdly, he had to seek a ridiculously high price for the baskets; and fourthly, should he not sell the baskets, he would have made this enormous journey, there and back, for nothing. In this way, the elder wished to test the obedience, humility and patience of his famous disciple. John silently prostrated before the elder and, without a word, took the baskets and started on his journey. Arriving in Damascus, he stood in the market place and awaited a buyer. When he told the interested passers-by the price of his goods, they laughed at and mocked him as a lunatic. He stood there the whole day, and the whole day he was exposed to derision and ridicule. But God, Who sees all things, did not abandon His patient servant. A certain citizen passed by and looked at John. Even though John was clad in a poor monk's habit and his face was withered and pale from fasting, this citizen recognized in him the one-time lord and first minister of the Caliph, in whose service he had also been. John also recognized him, but they both began to deal as strangers. Even though John named the all-too-high price of the baskets, the citizen purchased and paid for them without a word, recalling the good that John Damascene had once done for him. As a victor, holy John returned to the monastery rejoicing, and brought joy to his elder.


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What earthly joy remains untouched by grief?--St. John Damascene
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« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2007, 10:47:14 PM »

Hello,

Can we include those Saints on the Roman Calendar that the Orthodox might not have on theirs (i.e., Saint John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, etc.)?


Hello,

I was just going to ask that very question. Well, you know what they say about great minds ... Wink

So go ahead and start a new thread in Orth-Cath!
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« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2007, 12:24:44 AM »

St. John of Otzoon:

St. John of Otzoon served as Catholicos Hovhan between 717 and 728 A.D.  Born in the province of Dashratz in the village of Otzoon, he studied with celebrated theologians.  During the Arab rule of Armenia, he endeared himself to Arab leaders and ushered in a period of tolerance and cooperation.  Through his farsightedness, statesmanship, and piety, he secured some basic and important rights for Armenian Christians, such as religious freedom, exemption from taxes for churches, and the right to worship freely.  He also stopped forced conversion of Christians to Islam. 
As a writer, he contributed to the Book of Sharagans, and wrote many epistles and essays.  Respected for his personality, for being righteous, pious, brave, and humble, in addition to being a great statesmen and writer, St. John lived his later years as a monk in a mountain monastery.

http://www.armenianchurch.net/prayer/saints/johns.html
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« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2007, 11:26:44 PM »

Saint Lucy - December 13

Lucy's name means "light", with the same root as "lucid" which means "clear, radiant, understandable." Unfortunately for us, Lucy's history does not match her name. Shrouded in the darkness of time, all we really know for certain is that this brave woman who lived in Syracuse lost her life in the persecution of Christians in the early fourth century. Her veneration spread to Rome so that by the sixth century the whole Church recognized her courage in defense of the faith.

Because people wanted to shed light on Lucy's bravery, legends grew up. The one that is passed down to us tells the story of a young Christian woman who had vowed her life to the service of Christ. Her mother tried to arrange a marriage for her with a pagan. Lucy apparently knew that her mother would not be convinced by a young girl's vow so she devised a plan to convince her mother that Christ was a much more powerful partner for life. Through prayers at the tomb of Saint Agatha, her mother's long illness was cured miraculously. The grateful mother was now ready to listen to Lucy's desire to give her money to the poor and commit her life to God.

Unfortunately, legend has it, the rejected bridegroom did not see the same light and he betrayed Lucy to the governor as a Christian. This governor tried to send her into prostitution but the guards who came to take her way found her stiff and heavy as a mountain. Finally she was killed. As much as the facts of Lucy's specific case are unknown, we know that many Christians suffered incredible torture and a painful death for their faith during Diocletian's reign. Lucy may not have been burned or had a sword thrust through her throat but many Christians did and we can be sure her faith withstood tests we can barely imagine.

Lucy's name is probably also connected to statues of Lucy holding a dish with two eyes on it. This refers to another legend in which Lucy's eyes were put out by Diocletian as part of his torture. The legend concludes with God restoring Lucy's eyes.

Lucy's name also played a large part in naming Lucy as a patron saint of the blind and those with eye-trouble.

Whatever the fact to the legends surrounding Lucy, the truth is that her courage to stand up and be counted a Christian in spite of torture and death is the light that should lead us on our own journeys through life.
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« Reply #18 on: December 18, 2007, 12:27:32 AM »

Sts. Hermagoras and Fortunatus  -  July 12

Died c. 66. According to tradition, Hermagoras was chosen by Saint Mark to tend his converts in Aquileia, Italy, of which he was consecrated first bishop by Saint Peter. With his deacon Fortunatus, Hermagorus preached in the area until arrested by Sebastius, a representative of Emperor Nero, and then was tortured and beheaded with Fortunatus. Fortunatus's connection with Hermagorus, despite the tradition, has never been proven, but he did suffer martyrdom in Aquileia.





Icon of the Episcopal Consecration of St. Hermagoras, Bishop in Aquileia. On the left is St. Peter the Apostle, performing the consecration. In the centre is St. Hermagoras. On the right is St. Mark (St. Hermagoras was the disciple of St. Mark the Evangelist).

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« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2007, 12:16:22 PM »

St. Juliana of Lazarevo:

Righteous Juliana of Lazarevo and Murom presents an astonishing example of a self-denying Russian Christian woman. She was the daughter of the nobleman Justin Nediurev. From her early years she lived devoutly, kept the fasts strictly and set aside much time for prayer. Early on having become orphaned, she was given over into the care of relatives, who did not take to her and laughed at her. Juliana bore everything with patience and without complaint. Her love for people was expressed by nursing the sick and sewing clothing for the poor.

The pious and virtuous life of the maiden attracted the attention of the Lazarevo village owner, Yurii Osoryin, who soon married her. The husband's parents loved their gentle daughter-in-law and left the running of the household in her hands. Domestic concerns did not disrupt the spiritual efforts of Juliana. She always found time for prayer and she was always prepared to feed the orphaned and clothe the poor. During a harsh famine, she herself remained without food, having given away her last morsel to someone begging. When an epidemic started after the famine, Juliana devoted herself completely to the nursing of the sick.

Righteous Juliana had six sons and a daughter. After the death of two of her sons she decided to withdraw to a monastery, but her husband persuaded her to remain in the world, and to continue to raise their children. On the testimony of Juliana's son, Kallistrat Osoryin, who wrote her Life, at this time she became all the more demanding towards herself: she intensified her fasting and prayer, slept not more than two hours at night, and then laying her head upon a board.

Upon the death of her husband, Juliana distributed to the poor her portion of the inheritance. Living in extreme poverty, she was none the less vivacious, cordial, and in everything she thanked the Lord. The saint was vouchsafed a visitation by St Nicholas the Wonderworker and guidance by the Mother of God in church. When Righteous Juliana fell asleep in the Lord, she was then buried beside her husband at the church of St Lazarus. Here also her daughter, the schemanun Theodosia was buried. In 1614 the relics of Righteous Juliana were uncovered, exuding a fragrant myrrh, from which many received healing.

(Taken from OCA.org.)
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« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2007, 12:22:55 PM »

Venerable Sava the Sanctified

Commemorated on December 5

Saint Sava the Sanctified was born in the fifth century at Cappadocia of pious Christian parents, John and Sophia. His father was a military commander. Journeying to Alexandria on military matters, his wife went with him, but they left their five-year-old son in the care of an uncle. When the boy reached eight years of age, he entered the monastery of St Flavian located nearby. The gifted child quickly learned to read and became an expert on the Holy Scriptures. In vain did his parents urge St Sava to return to the world and enter into marriage.

When he was seventeen years old he received monastic tonsure, and attained such perfection in fasting and prayer that he was given the gift of wonderworking. After spending ten years at the monastery of St Flavian, he went to Jerusalem, and from there to the monastery of St Euthymius the Great (January 20). But St Euthymius sent St Sava to Abba Theoctistus, the head of a nearby monastery with a strict cenobitic rule. St Sava lived in obedience at this monastery until the age of thirty.

After the death of the Elder Theoctistus, his successor blessed St Sava to seclude himself in a cave. On Saturdays, however, he left his hermitage and came to the monastery, where he participated in divine services and ate with the brethren. After a certain time St Sava received permission not to leave his hermitage at all, and he struggled in the cave for five years.

St Euthymius attentively directed the life of the young monk, and seeing his spiritual maturity, he began to take him to the Rouba wilderness with him. They set out on January 14, and remained there until Palm Sunday. St Euthymius called St Sava a child-elder, and encouraged him to grow in the monastic virtues.

When St Euthymius fell asleep in the Lord (+ 473), St Sava withdrew from the Lavra and moved to a cave near the monastery of St Gerasimus of Jordan (March 4). After several years, disciples began to gather around St Sava, seeking the monastic life. As the number of monks increased, a lavra sprang up. When a pillar of fire appeared before St Sava as he was walking, he found a spacious cave in the form of a church.

St Sava founded several more monasteries. Many miracles took place through the prayers of St Sava: at the Lavra a spring of water welled up, during a time of drought there was abundant rain, and there were also healings of the sick and the demoniacs. St Sava composed the first monastic Rule of church services, the so-called "Jerusalem Typikon", accepted by all the Palestine monasteries. The saint surrendered his soul to God in the year 532.

Troparion - Tone 8

By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile,
and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance.
By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe!
Our Father Sabbas, pray to Christ God to save our souls!

Kontakion - Tone 8

From your youth you offered yourself to God as a blameless sacrifice,
having been dedicated to Him before your birth, blessed Sabbas.
You were an adornment of the righteous and a praiseworthy citizen of the desert.
Therefore, we cry to you: "Rejoice, ever glorious Father."

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« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2007, 12:34:59 PM »

May 21: Feast of the Holy Great Sovereigns Constantine and Helen, Equal to the Apostles
Icon of Saints Constantine and Helen provided by Athanasios Clark and used with permission.

http://www.goarch.org/en/special/listen_learn_share/constantineandhelen/learn/

Life of the Saints

This great and renowned sovereign of the Christians was the son of Constantius Chlorus (the ruler of the westernmost parts of the Roman empire), and of the blessed Helen. He was born in 272, in (according to some authorities) Naissus of Dardania, a city on the Hellespont. In 306, when his father died, he was proclaimed successor to his throne. In 312, on learning that Maxentius and Maximinus had joined forces against him, he marched into Italy, where, while at the head of his troops, he saw in the sky after midday, beneath the sun, a radiant pillar in the form of a cross with the words: "By this shalt thou conquer." The following night, our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him in a dream and declared to him the power of the Cross and its significance. When he arose in the morning, he immediately ordered that a labarum be made (which is a banner or standard of victory over the enemy) in the form of a cross, and he inscribed on it the Name of Jesus Christ. On October 28 he attacked and mightily conquered Maxentius, who drowned in the Tiber River while fleeing. The following day, Constantine entered Rome in triumph and was proclaimed Emperor of the West by the Senate, while Licinius, his brother-in-law, ruled in the East. But out of malice, Licinius later persecuted the Christians. Constantine fought him once and again, and utterly destroyed him in 324, and in this manner he became monarch over the West and the East. Under him and because of him all the persecutions against the Church ceased. Christianity triumphed and idolatry was overthrown.

In 325 he gathered the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, which he himself personally addressed. In 324, in the ancient city of Byzantium, he laid the foundations of the new capital of his realm, and solemnly inaugurated it on May 11, 330, naming it after himself, Constantinople. Since the throne of the imperial rule was transferred to Constantinople from Rome, it was named New Rome, the inhabitants of its domain were called Romans, and it was considered the continuation of the Roman Empire. Falling ill near Nicomedia, he requested to receive divine Baptism, according to Eusebius (The Life of Constantine. Book IV, 61-62), and also according to Socrates and Sozomen; and when he had been deemed worthy of the Holy Mysteries, he reposed in 337, on May 21 or 22, the day of Pentecost, having lived sixty-five years, of which he ruled for thirty-one years. His remains were transferred to Constantinople and were deposed in the Church of the Holy Apostles, which had been built by him (see Homily XXVI on Second Corinthians by Saint John Chrysostom).

As for his holy mother Helen, after her son had made the Faith of Christ triumphant throughout the Roman Empire, she undertook a journey to Jerusalem and found the Holy Cross on which our Lord was crucified (see Sept. 13 and 14). After this, Saint Helen, in her zeal to glorify Christ, erected churches in Jerusalem at the sites of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, in Bethlehem at the cave where our Saviour was born, another on the Mount of Olives whence He ascended into Heaven, and many others throughout the Holy Land, Cyprus, and elsewhere. She was proclaimed Augusta, her image was stamped upon golden coins, and two cities were named Helenopolis after her in Bithynia and in Palestine. Having been thus glorified for her piety, she departed to the Lord being about eighty years of age, according to some in the year 330, according to others, in 336.


Orthodox Christian Celebration of the Feast of Saints Constantine and Helen

The feast and commemoration of Saints Constantine and Helen is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom which is conducted on the morning of the feast and preceded by a Orthros service. A Great Vespers may be conducted on the evening before the day of the Feast.

Scripture readings for the Feast of Saints Constantine and Helen are: At the Vespers: I Kings 8:22-23, 27-30; Isaiah 61:10-62:5; Isaiah 60:1-16 At the Orthros (Matins): John 10:9-19. At the Divine Liturgy: Acts 26:1, 12-20; John 10:1-9.


Hymns of the Saint

Apolytikion: Plagal of the Fourth Tone
He beheld the image of Your Cross in the Heavens and, as Paul, he too did not receive the call from men. Your Apostle among Kings placed the care of the Royal City in Your hands. Through the intercessions of the Theotokos, O only Loving Lord, keep it ever in peace.

Kontakion: Third Tone
Today, Constantine with his mother Helen present the Cross, the most precious wood. It shames unbelievers. It is a weapon of faithful kings against their adversaries. A great sign has come forth for us which is awesome in battle.

Reading courtesy of Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA
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« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2007, 12:46:54 PM »

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photius

St. Photios I (also spelled Photius), or St. Photios the Great (Greek: Φώτιος, Phōtios) (c. 820 – February 6, 893) was Patriarch of Constantinople from 858 to 867 and from 877 to 886. Photios is widely regarded as the most powerful and influential Patriarch of Constantinople since John Chrysostom. He is recognized as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church and some of the Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine tradition. His feast is celebrated on 6 February.

Life

Little is known of his origin or family, but Photios was a relative of the Patriarchs Tarasios and John VII Grammatikos. Byzantine writers report that Emperor Leo VI once angrily called St. Photios "Khazar-faced", but whether this was a generic insult or a reference to his ethnicity is unclear.[1]

As soon as he had completed his own education, St. Photios began to teach grammar, rhetoric, divinity and philosophy. The way to public life was probably opened for him by (according to one account) the marriage of his brother Sergios to Irene, a sister of the Empress Theodora, who upon the death of her husband Theophilos in 842, had assumed the regency of the empire. St. Photios became a captain of the guard and subsequently chief imperial secretary (prōtasēkrētis). At an uncertain date, Photios participated in an embassy to the Arabs.

The dissension between the patriarch Ignatios and the Caesar Bardas, the uncle of the youthful Emperor Michael III, concerning Bardas' relationship with his daughter-in-law, brought promotion to St. Photios. Ignatios was arrested and imprisoned in 858, and upon refusing to resign his office was deposed, while Photios was inducted into the priesthood within six days, and was installed as patriarch in his place.

Ignatios continued to refuse abdication, and his supporters appealed to Pope Nicholas I when St. Photios began to alter his predecessor's policies. When in 863 Nicholas anathematized and deposed St. Photios, the latter replied with a counter-excommunication. The situation was additionally complicated by the question of papal authority over the entire Church and by disputed jurisdiction over newly-converted Bulgaria.

This state of affairs changed with the murder of St. Photios' patron Bardas in 866 and of the emperor Michael in 867, by his colleague Basil the Macedonian, who now usurped the throne. St. Photios was deposed as patriarch, not so much because he was a protegé of Bardas and Michael, but because Basil I was seeking an alliance with the Pope and the western emperor. St. Photios was removed from his office and banished about the end of September 867, and Ignatios was reinstated on November 23. During his second patriarchate, Ignatios followed a policy not very different from that of St. Photios. This perhaps helped improve relations between the two, and in c. 876 St. Photios was suddenly recalled to Constantinople and entrusted with the education of the emperor's children. On the death of Ignatios in October 877, Photios, after the requisite show of reluctance, was restored to the patriarchal throne.

Photios now obtained the formal recognition of the Christian world in a council convened at Constantinople in November 879. The legates of Pope John VIII attended, prepared to acknowledge Photios as legitimate patriarch, a concession for which the pope was much censured by Latin opinion. The patriarch stood firm on the main points contested between the Eastern and Western Churches, the demanded apology to the Pope, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction over Bulgaria, and the introduction of the filioque clause into the creed. Eventually Photios refused to apologize or accept the filioque, and the papal legates made do with his return of Bulgaria to Rome. This concession, however, was purely nominal, as Bulgaria's return to the Byzantine rite in 870 had already secured for it an autocephalous church. Without the consent of Boris I of Bulgaria, the papacy was unable to enforce its claims.

During the altercations between Basil I and his heir Leo VI, Photios took the side of the emperor. Consequently, when Basil died in 886 and Leo became senior emperor, St. Photios was dismissed and banished, although he had been Leo's tutor. St. Photios was sent into exile to the monastery of Bordi in Armenia. From this time Photios disappears from history. No letters of this period of his life are extant. The precise date of his death is not known, but it is said to have occurred on February 6, 893.

For the Eastern Orthodox, St. Photios was long the standard-bearer of their church in its disagreements with the pope of Rome; to Catholics, he was a proud and ambitious schismatic: the relevant work of scholars over the past generation has somewhat modified partisan judgements. All agree on the virtue of his personal life and his remarkable talents, even genius, and the wide range of his intellectual aptitudes. Pope Nicholas himself referred to his "great virtues and universal knowledge." It may be noted, however, that some anti-papal writings attributed to St. Photios were apparently composed by other writers about the time of the East-West Schism of 1054 and attributed to Photios as the champion of the independence of the Eastern Church.

The Eastern Orthodox Church venerates Photios as a saint; he is also included in the liturgical calendar of Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine Rite, though not in the calendars of other Eastern Catholic Churches. His feast day is February 6.

Writings

The most important of the works of Photios is his renowned Bibliotheca or Myriobiblon, a collection of extracts and abridgments of 280 volumes of classical authors (usually cited as Codices), the originals of which are now to a great extent lost. The work is specially rich in extracts from historical writers.

To St. Photios we are indebted for almost all we possess of Ctesias, Memnon, Conon, the lost books of Diodorus Siculus, and the lost writings of Arrian. Theology and ecclesiastical history are also very fully represented, but poetry and ancient philosophy are almost entirely ignored. It seems that he did not think it necessary to deal with those authors with whom every well-educated man would naturally be familiar. The literary criticisms, generally distinguished by keen and independent judgment, and the excerpts vary considerably in length. The numerous biographical notes are probably taken from the work of Hesychius of Miletus.

The Lexicon, published later than the Bibliotheca, was probably in the main the work of some of his pupils. It was intended as a book of reference to facilitate the reading of old classical and sacred authors, whose language and vocabulary were out of date. The only manuscript of the Lexicon is the Codex Galeanus, which passed into the library of Trinity College, Cambridge.

His most important theological work is the Amphilochia, a collection of some 300 questions and answers on difficult points in Scripture, addressed to Amphilochius, archbishop of Cyzicus. Other similar works are his treatise in four books against the Manichaeans and Paulicians, and his controversy with the Latins on the Procession of the Holy Spirit. St. Photios also addressed a long letter of theological advice to the newly-converted Boris I of Bulgaria.

The chief contemporary authority for the life of Photios is his bitter enemy, Niketas David Paphlagon, the biographer of his rival Ignatios.

Notes

   1. "Photius may have felt a direct and personal interest in Khazaria, for possibly he was himself of Khazar extraction. So, it seems, we might best explain the epithet "Khazar-face", applied to him once in anger by the Emperor Michael III." Dunlop 194 (citing Symeon Magister, ex. Bonn, 673.)
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« Reply #23 on: December 18, 2007, 12:53:13 PM »

St. Mark the Archbishop of Ephesus

Commemorated on January 19

Saint Mark Eugenikos, Archbishop of Ephesus, was a stalwart defender of Orthodoxy at the Council of Florence. He would not agree to a union with Rome which was based on theological compromise and political expediency (the Byzantine Emperor was seeking military assistance from the West against the Moslems who were drawing ever closer to Constantinople). St Mark countered the arguments of his opponents, drawing from the well of pure theology, and the teachings of the holy Fathers. When the members of his own delegation tried to pressure him into accepting the Union he replied, "There can be no compromise in matters of the Orthodox Faith."

Although the members of the Orthodox delegation signed the Tomos of Union, St Mark was the only one who refused to do so. When he returned from Florence, St Mark urged the inhabitants of Constantinople to repudiate the dishonorable document of union. He died in 1457 at the age of fifty-two, admired and honored by all.



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« Reply #24 on: December 18, 2007, 01:36:49 PM »

Saints Rufus and Zosimus - December 18

Rufus and Zosimus were citizens of Antioch (or perhaps Philippi) who were brought to Rome with St. Ignatius of Antioch during the reign of Emperor Trajan. They were condemned to death for their Christianity and thrown to wild beasts in the arena two days before the martyrdom of Ignatius. Feast Day December 18.
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« Reply #25 on: December 18, 2007, 01:51:32 PM »

Sebastian the Martyr & his Companions

Reading:
This Saint, who was from the city of Milan, was a member of the Senate as well as a zealot for the Faith of Christ, and had converted many to the knowledge of God. When Diocletian and Maximian began a Persecution against the Christians, Saint Sebastian was arrested and pierced with sharp arrows, and the bones of his body were shattered with clubs; and being cut into pieces, he gave up his spirit to God in the year 288. Together with him there were others also who died while enduring various tortures. Their names are Marcellinus and Mark the brethren, Tranquillinus their father, Nicostratus and his spouse Zoe, Tiburtius, Claudius, Castulus, and Castor.

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

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Since thou wast great in zeal for godly religion, thou didst assemble an alliance of Martyrs, and in their midst, thou shonest like a flashing star. With the arrows that did pierce thy much-suffering body, thou didst slay the enemy, O Great Martyr Sebastian; and thou thyself didst fly as from a bow into the Heavens, where Christ hath received thy soul.

http://www.goarch.org/en/chapel/saints.asp?contentid=343
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« Reply #26 on: December 18, 2007, 03:06:09 PM »

St Elias the Cave-Dweller



Commemorated on September 11

St Elias was born to a wealthy family of nobles in Reggio in Calabria in the year 864. One day a monk approached him in church and upbraided him for his rich clothes and frivolous life. The young man changed at once and at the age of eighteen ran away to Taormina to escape marriage. From here he travelled to Rome to venerate the tombs of the Apostles, but seeing the dissoluteness in the city and its clergy, he returned to Reggio.

Here he found a spiritual father, Arsenius, who tonsured him as a monk. Elias worked very hard and spent his nights in hymns, prayers and genuflexions. He said: 'He who works with his hands and prays in his heart becomes doubly rich, for he serves Christ both as Mary and as Martha'. The two holy fathers always avoided disputes with others and when God revealed to them the forthcoming Saracen/Arab invasion, they both left for Greece. Here, near Patras, they lived for eight years, expelling demons and working wonders.

When the Saracen danger was over, they returned to their monastery of St Eustratius in Calabria and joined with two other ascetics in forming a monastery in a cave. Arsenius became the Abbot but, foreknowing his death, reposed in 904, having chosen Elias the new Abbot. Later, St Arsenius' tomb was opened by the Saracens, who found his relics not only incorrupt but also indestructible.

Advised in a dream to take on new disciples, Elias soon found himself at the head of a large brotherhood. The cave of these troglodytes was now too small for them, but they discovered a much larger cave which they made into a monastery with a church dedicated to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Soon the nearby caves also filled with monks, who followed the example of the life of their Abbot, who taught them how to defeat the demons. Once he worked the miracle of changing water into wine in order to serve the liturgy. Another time he scolded a bear who was destroying the monks' crops: the bear walked away chastened. He gave wise advice to his monks, teaching them obedience by example and protecting them though his prayers. He also did much to improve the customs of the local people and delivered the possessed of demons. Many poor and the sick were drawn to his monastery.

When the Arabs attacked, as they often did, St Elias would either flee into the mountains, hardly eating or drinking, or else would go into the town, upbraiding the inhabitants for their loose morals which had incurred such disasters. In old age, the saint received the gift of tears, but spent the nights before feast-days singing to God in joy. Having predicted his death a year in advance, he went on pilgrimage to the tomb of St Elias of Sicily. He returned, tonsured many novices and then withdrew to his own cave. Here he suffered great pain in silence for twenty-five days, before entering into the heavenly kingdom on 11 September 960, aged 96. He was buried in his cave in the presence of the local Bishop and a great throng of the faithful.

St Elias lived constantly under the threat of the Saracen Muslim attacks. Feasted on 11 September, he should therefore be an intercessor and protector in our own sad times. Let us recall that like other Calabrian saints, he clearly understood and openly proclaimed that the Muslim attacks and invasions of his day were allowed to happen by God on account of the loose morals of the so-called Christians of the age.

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« Reply #27 on: December 18, 2007, 09:53:09 PM »

St. Vrtanes, one of the sons of St. Gregory the Illuminator of Armenia:


St. Vrtanés

The elder son of St. Gregory the Illuminator chose to lead a secular life and got married while still in Caesarea. At a later time he was ordained a priest, either in Caesarea or Armenia. He and his wife’s desire to have children, and their prayers to God towards this end, were answered only in an advanced age. They were blessed with twins, Krikoris and Husig, who were reared in the Armenian court and given a solid education. He presumably lost his wife during the pontificate of his brother Arisdagés, and after the latter’s death Vrtanés himself was raised to the episcopal throne of Greater Armenia. Vrtanés probably received episcopal ordination from his brother’s hand, since there is no reference in the historians to any ceremony of ordination, either in Caesarea or elsewhere.

St. Vrtanés’ activities as chief bishop of Greater Armenia were closely linked with those of the Christian kings of Armenia: first Drtad, and later his son Khosrov Godag (330-337) and grandson Diran (337-344). Vrtanés stood by the side of the kings during various Persian invasions into Armenia as well as during internal rebellions. As an active pastor he continued the work of his father and brother.

Despite the declaration of Christianity as the national religion of Armenia and the royal support that the church thereby received, certain people of high position were not pleased with the new religion. Their displeasure led to serious repercussions. King Drtad, who had been responsible for the kingdom’s conversion, died at a ripe old age—but not of natural causes. Certain Armenian princes in the service of the court hastened his demise by giving him a poisoned cup to drink. From another version of the story about King Drtad’s death, we learn that the anti-Christian princes collaborated with the King of Kings of Iran, and were instigated by the latter to put him to death. While on a hunt, they shot Drtad with an arrow, and as the wounded king was recuperating from his wound, they gave him a poisoned cup to drink.

Vrtanés himself almost fell victim to a scheme of a different nature. At the annual commemoration in Ashdishad of St. John the Baptist and Bishop Athenogenes, as instituted by St. Gregory, the chief bishop was celebrating the Divine Liturgy, when two thousand mountaineers from Sasun converged on the place, with the intent of assassinating Vrtanés. The assassins were unconverted idol worshippers, instigated by certain magnates and particularly by the queen of Armenia, whom Vrtanés had formerly rebuked for committing adultery. We are told that the hand of God made the conspirators motionless until Vrtanés released them. Overwhelmed by what had happened, the mountaineers heeded the admonitions of the bishop, and after completing the period of penance set by him they were baptized. Subsequently the bishop withdrew to his paternal estate in Til, near Erzinjan.

St. Vrtanés is said to have ordained a special day of commemoration for the Armenian forces under General Vaché Mamigonian, who perished in a battle against the Persians in 338. He consoled the king, his magnates and soldiers for the devastating effect of the war. According to this ordinance, the commemoration was to be repeated annually. He also instituted a special canon for all those who should die for Christian Armenia, that they be commemorated “before God’s holy altar at that point in the liturgy when the names of the saints are enumerated, and after them.” This commemoration was later replaced with that of St. Vartan Mamigonian and his 1,036 companions, which has been celebrated every year up to the present day.

St. Vrtanés’ name is closely connected with a contemporary non-Armenian churchman of renown, namely St. Macarius, bishop of Jerusalem (313-334). Macarius was one of the fathers of the Council of Nicaea (325), responsible (with a few others) for drafting the Nicene Creed, which we recite in church during the Divine Liturgy. It was during his tenure of office that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built in Jerusalem. St. Vrtanés had the distinction of receiving a letter from Macarius. The letter, originally written in Greek, is preserved only in Armenian and bears the title: “To the Christ-loving and pious Chief Bishop Vrtanés and all the bishops and priests of Armenia.” According to this docu ment, Vrtanés had sent certain priests to Jerusalem with specific ques tions about church traditions. In his answer, Macarius dwells on various traditions and practices that must be observed in the rite of baptism.

St. Vrtanés died in the third year of King Diran—that is, in a.d. 340. He was buried near his father in Tortan, and his grave was shown inside the village church.

http://www.armenianchurch.net/church/gregory-sons3.html
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« Reply #28 on: December 18, 2007, 10:57:00 PM »

St. Krikoris, son of St. Vrtanes and grandson of St. Gregory the Illuminator of Armenia:


The missionary work initiated by St. Gregory in the regions of northern Armenia, Georgia and Caucasian Albania was not neglected by his successors. To this end, St. Vrtanés’ son Krikoris was raised to the episcopal rank and appointed bishop of Georgia and Albania at a relatively young age.

The young bishop extended his missionary activities over a vast expanse of territory reaching the shores of the Caspian Sea. He established churches and evangelized among the peoples and tribes under his care. Among the different northern semi-barbaric nomadic tribes to whom he preached the gospel were the Mazkuts, who were ruled by a line of Arshaguni kings related to the royal dynasty of Armenia. At first, the Mazkuts accepted St. Krikoris’ instructions favorably and were inclined to convert to Christianity.

But when they learned that Christian teachings forbade some practices of their nomadic way of life—such as looting, pillaging, killing, coveting others possession—they became disgusted and greatly angered. They saw in St. Krikoris’ teachings a plot on the part of the Armenian king to stop their plundering raids into Armenia. St. Krikoris was tied to the tail of a wild horse and driven over a plain. The bishop died as a result. His body was claimed by his followers and taken to Amaras, which is located in present-day Karabagh. He was buried in the church built by St. Gregory. At the end of the fifth century, a crypt was built to house his grave. That structure is now located under the main altar of the church of the Monastery of Amaras and is a place of pilgrimage.

The martyrdom of St. Krikoris took place shortly before the Mazkut invasion of Armenia and the seizure of its capital city, Vagharshabad. That event took place in a.d. 335. St. Krikoris’ relics were discovered in the latter part of the fifth century and were buried in a newly built crypt, which is still extant, as stated above.


http://www.armenianchurch.net/church/gregory-sons4.html
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« Reply #29 on: December 18, 2007, 11:54:23 PM »

Yet another son of St. Vrtanes and grandson of St. Gregory the Illuminator:

St. Husig

St. Husig, the second son of St. Vrtanés, followed his father’s example by embracing secular life. Nourished by King Diran, he was forced into marrying the king’s daughter, much against his will. He and his wife had twin sons, Bab and Athenogenes. His inclination towards a celibate life, however, alienated his wife and invited on him the hostility of the royal court. Their pressure was terminated by his wife’s death, after which St. Husig devoted himself to raising his children. In a dream, the Lord appeared to him and told him that from his children there “will be born other children, and they will be illuminators of knowledge and fonts of spiritual wisdom for the realm of Armenia.”

After his father’s demise, St. Husig was in line for the succession of the episcopal throne of Greater Armenia. King Diran immediately dispatched a delegation of thirteen high-ranking princes and dignitaries to accompany St. Husig to Caesarea. There, St. Husig was elevated to the episcopal rank. On his return to Armenia he was met by the king and taken to the city of Ardashad, where he was officially enthroned. Like his father and grandfather, he became a wonderful pastor of his flock.

St. Husig’s woes began when he, as the upholder of the moral precepts of the church, began to castigate the king and his magnates for their unchristian behavior: they had engaged in immoral acts and had shed innocent blood for political ends. St. Husig excommunicated them, forbidding their entry into the church. Predictably, this invited on him the royal court’s animosity. On one occasion—a day of annual celebration when St. Husig, on a pastoral visit to the western province of Great Dzopk, was present at the palatine church in the royal fortress of Pnapegh—King Diran arrived with his retinue and tried to enter the church. Learning about their arrival, St. Husig stepped out and cried aloud: “You are unworthy! Why have you come? Do not go inside!” Angered by this, the king's attendants dragged him inside the sanctuary and beat him with rods, shattering his bones. The servants of the church of Pnapegh carried the battered bishop, who was still alive, to his ancestral estate in Tortan. Unable to recover from his injuries, St. Husig died there and was buried near the graves of his father and grandfather. His tomb was shown inside the church of Tortan. The martyrdom of St. Husig is dated to a.d. 344.

http://www.armenianchurch.net/church/gregory-sons5.html
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« Reply #30 on: December 18, 2007, 11:58:42 PM »

One of the great Western saints of the Orthodox Church and one for whose work I am most thankful:

St. Patrick the Bishop of Armagh and Enlightener of Ireland

Commemorated on March 17

Saint Patrick, the Enlightener of Ireland was born around 385, the son of Calpurnius, a Roman decurion (an official responsible for collecting taxes). He lived in the village of Bannavem Taberniae, which may have been located at the mouth of the Severn River in Wales. The district was raided by pirates when Patrick was sixteen, and he was one of those taken captive. He was brought to Ireland and sold as a slave, and was put to work as a herder of swine on a mountain identified with Slemish in Co. Antrim. During his period of slavery, Patrick acquired a proficiency in the Irish language which was very useful to him in his later mission.

He prayed during his solitude on the mountain, and lived this way for six years. He had two visions. The first told him he would return to his home. The second told him his ship was ready. Setting off on foot, Patrick walked two hundred miles to the coast. There he succeeded in boarding a ship, and returned to his parents in Britain.

Some time later, he went to Gaul and studied for the priesthood at Auxerre under St Germanus (July 31). Eventually, he was consecrated as a bishop, and was entrusted with the mission to Ireland, succeeding St Palladius (July 7). St Palladius did not achieve much success in Ireland. After about a year he went to Scotland, where he died in 432.

Patrick had a dream in which an angel came to him bearing many letters. Selecting one inscribed "The Voice of the Irish," he heard the Irish entreating him to come back to them.

Although St Patrick achieved remarkable results in spreading the Gospel, he was not the first or only missionary in Ireland. He arrived around 432 (though this date is disputed), about a year after St Palladius began his mission to Ireland. There were also other missionaries who were active on the southeast coast, but it was St Patrick who had the greatest influence and success in preaching the Gospel of Christ. Therefore, he is known as "The Enlightener of Ireland."

His autobiographical Confession tells of the many trials and disappointments he endured. Patrick had once confided to a friend that he was troubled by a certain sin he had committed before he was fifteen years old. The friend assured him of God's mercy, and even supported Patrick's nomination as bishop. Later, he turned against him and revealed what Patrick had told him in an attempt to prevent his consecration. Many years later, Patrick still grieved for his dear friend who had publicly shamed him.

St Patrick founded many churches and monasteries across Ireland, but the conversion of the Irish people was no easy task. There was much hostility, and he was assaulted several times. He faced danger, and insults, and he was reproached for being a foreigner and a former slave. There was also a very real possibility that the pagans would try to kill him. Despite many obstacles, he remained faithful to his calling, and he baptized many people into Christ.

The saint's Epistle to Coroticus is also an authentic work. In it he denounces the attack of Coroticus' men on one of his congregations. The Breastplate (Lorica) is also attributed to St Patrick. In his writings, we can see St Patrick's awareness that he had been called by God, as well as his determination and modesty in undertaking his missionary work. He refers to himself as "a sinner," "the most ignorant and of least account," and as someone who was "despised by many." He ascribes his success to God, rather than to his own talents: "I owe it to God's grace that through me so many people should be born again to Him."

By the time he established his episcopal See in Armargh in 444, St Patrick had other bishops to assist him, many native priests and deacons, and he encouraged the growth of monasticism.

St Patrick is often depicted holding a shamrock, or with snakes fleeing from him. He used the shamrock to illustrate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Its three leaves growing out of a single stem helped him to explain the concept of one God in three Persons. Many people now regard the story of St Patrick driving all the snakes out of Ireland as having no historical basis.

St Patrick died on March 17, 461 (some say 492). There are various accounts of his last days, but they are mostly legendary. Muirchu says that no one knows the place where St Patrick is buried. St Columba of Iona (June 9) says that the Holy Spirit revealed to him that Patrick was buried at Saul, the site of his first church. A granite slab was placed at his traditional grave site in Downpatrick in 1899.

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« Reply #31 on: December 19, 2007, 12:01:47 AM »

Another saint, commemorated today (Dec. 18, NC), a martyr whose story is quite compelling:

Martyr Sebastian at Rome

Commemorated on December 18

The Holy Martyr Sebastian was born in the city of Narbonum in Gaul (modern France), and he received his education at Mediolanum (now Milan). Under the co-reigning emperors Diocletian and Maximian (284-305) he occupied the position of head of the imperial guards. St Sebastian was respected for his authority, and was loved by the soldiers and those at court. He was a brave man filled with wisdom, his word was honest, his judgment just, insightful in advice, faithful in his service and in everything entrusted to him. He was a secret Christian, not out of fear, but so that he could provide help to the brethren in a time of persecution.

The noble Christian brothers Marcellinus and Mark had been locked up in prison, and at first they firmly confessed the true Faith. But under the influence of the tearful entreaties of their pagan parents (Tranquillinus and Marcia), and also their own wives and children, they began to waver in their intent to suffer for Christ. St Sebastian went to the imperial treasurer, at whose house Marcellinus and Mark were held in confinement, and addressed the brothers who were on the verge of yielding to the entreaties of their family.

"O valiant warriors of Christ! Do not cast away your everlasting crowns of victory because of the tears of your relatives. Do not remove your feet from the necks of your enemies who lie prostrate before you, lest they regain their strength and attack you more fiercely than before. Raise your banner high over every earthly attachment. If those whom you see weeping knew that there is another life where there is neither sickness nor death, where there is unceasing gladness and everything is beautiful, then assuredly they would wish to enter it with you. Anyone who fears to exchange this brief earthly life for the unending joys of the heavenly Kingdom is foolish indeed. For he who rejects eternity wastes the brief time of his existence, and will be delivered to everlasting torment in Hades."

Then St Sebastian said that if necessary, he would be willing to endure torment and death in order to show them how to give their lives for Christ.

So St Sebastian persuaded the brothers to go through with their act of martyrdom, and his speech stirred everyone present. They saw how his face shone like that of an angel, and they saw how seven angels clothed him in a radiant garment, and heard a fair Youth say, "You shall be with Me always."

Zoe, the wife of the jailer Nicostratus, had lost her ability to speak six years previously, and she fell down at the feet of St Sebastian, by her gestures imploring him to heal her. The saint made the Sign of the Cross over the woman, and she immediately began to speak and she glorified the Lord Jesus Christ. She said that she had seen an angel holding an open book in which everything St Sebastian said was written. Then all who saw the miracle also came to believe in the Savior of the world. Nicostratus removed the chains from Marcellinus and Mark and offered to hide them, but the brothers refused.

Mark said, "Let them tear the flesh from our bodies with cruel torments. They can kill the body, but they cannot conquer the soul which contends for the Faith." Nicostratus and his wife asked for Baptism, and St Sebastian advised Nicostratus to serve Christ rather than the Eparch. He also told him to assemble the prisoners so that those who believed in Christ could be baptized. Nicostratus then requested his clerk Claudius to send all the prisoners to his house. Sebastian spoke to them of Christ, and became convinced that they were all inclined to be baptized. He summoned the priest Polycarp, who prepared them for the Mystery, instructing them to fast in preparation for Baptism that evening.

Then Claudius informed Nicostratus that the Roman eparch Arestius Chromatus wanted to know why the prisoners were gathered at his house. Nicostratus told Claudius about the healing of his wife, and Claudius brought his own sick sons, Symphorian and Felix to St Sebastian. In the evening the priest Polycarp baptized Tranquillinus with his relatives and friends, and Nicostratus and all his family, Claudius and his sons, and also sixteen condemned prisoners. The newly-baptized numbered 64 in all.

Appearing before the eparch Chromatus, Nicostratus told him how St Sebastian had converted them to Christianity and healed many from sickness. The words of Nicostratus persuaded the eparch. He summoned St Sebastian and the presbyter Polycarp, and was enlightened by them, and became a believer in Christ. Nicostratus and Chromatus, his son Tiburtius and all his household accepted holy Baptism. The number of the newly-enlightened increased to 1400. Upon becoming a Christian, Chromatus resigned his office of eparch.

During this time the Bishop of Rome was St Gaius (August 11). He blessed Chromatus to go to his estates in southern Italy with the priest Polycarp. Christians unable to endure martyrdom also went with them. Father Polycarp went to strengthen the newly-converted in the Faith.

Tiburtius, the son of Chromatus, desired to accept martyrdom and he remained in Rome with St Sebastian. Of those remaining, St Gaius ordained Tranquillinus as a presbyter, and his sons Marcellinus and Mark were ordained deacons. Nicostratus, his wife Zoe and brother Castorius, and Claudius, his son Symphorian and brother Victorinus also remained in Rome. They gathered for divine services at the court of the emperor together with a secret Christian named Castulus, but soon the time came for them to suffer for the Faith.

The pagans arrested St Zoe first, praying at the grave of the Apostle Peter. At the trial she bravely confessed her faith in Christ. She died, hung by her hair over the foul smoke from a great fire of dung. Her body then was thrown into the River Tiber. Appearing in a vision to St Sebastian, she told him about her death.

The priest Tranquillinus was the next to suffer: pagans pelted him with stones at the grave of the holy Apostle Peter, and his body was also thrown into the Tiber.

Sts Nicostratus, Castorius, Claudius, Victorinus ,and Symphorian were seized at the riverbank, when they were searching for the bodies of the martyrs. They were led to the eparch, and the saints refused his command to offer sacrifice to idols. They tied stones to the necks of the martyrs and then drowned them in the sea.

The false Christian Torquatus betrayed St Tiburtius. When the saint refused to sacrifice to the idols, the judge ordered Tiburtius to walk barefoot on red-hot coals, but the Lord preserved him. Tiburtius walked through the burning coals without feeling the heat. The torturers then beheaded St Tiburtius, and his body was buried by unknown Christians.

Torquatus also betrayed the holy Deacons Marcellinus and Mark, and St Castulus (March 26). After torture, they threw Castulus into a pit and buried him alive, but Marcellinus and Mark had their feet nailed to the same tree stump. They stood all night in prayer, and in the morning they were stabbed with spears.

St Sebastian was the last one to be tortured. The emperor Diocletian personally interrogated him, and seeing the determination of the holy martyr, he ordered him taken out of the city, tied to a tree and shot with arrows. Irene, the wife of St Castulus, went at night in order to bury St Sebastian, but found him alive and took him to her home.

St Sebastian soon recovered from his wounds. Christians urged him to leave Rome, but he refused. Coming near a pagan temple, the saint saw the emperors approaching and he publicly denounced them for their impiety. Diocletian ordered the holy martyr to be taken to the Circus Maximus to be executed. They clubbed St Sebastian to death, and cast his body into the sewer. The holy martyr appeared to a pious woman named Lucina in a vision, and told her to take his body and bury it in the catacombs. This she did with the help of her slaves. Today his basilica stands on the site of his tomb.
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« Reply #32 on: December 19, 2007, 12:07:13 AM »

Martyr and Archdeacon Laurence of Rome
(My family's patron Saint)



Commemorated on August 10

The Martyrs Archdeacon Laurence, Pope Sixtus, Deacons Felicissimus and Agapitus, the Soldier Romanus were citizens of Rome, and suffered in the year 258 under the emperor Valerian (253-259). Holy Pope Sixtus, born at Athens, received a fine education, preached in Spain and was made bishop in Rome following the martyr's death of Holy Pope Stephen (253-257, commemorated on August 2). These were times when a pope occupying the Roman throne, was known to choose death for the faith. In a short while St Sixtus also was arrested and put in prison together with his deacons Felicissimus and Agapitus.

When the holy archdeacon Laurence visited Pope Sixtus, whom they held in prison, he cried out with tears: "Whither art thou gone, father? Why hast thou forsaken thine archdeacon, with whom always thou hast offered the Bloodless Sacrifice? Take thy son with thee, that I may be thy companion in having blood shed for Christ!" St Sixtus answered him: "I have not forsaken thee, my son. I am old and go to an easy death, but yet greater sufferings await thee. Know, that after three days upon our death thou shalt follow after me. And now go, take the church treasury and distribute it to the poor and needy Christians." St Laurence zealously did the bidding of the holy hierarch.

Having heard, that Pope Sixtus had been taken to trial with the deacons, St Laurence went there so as to witness their deed, and he said to the holy bishop: "Father, I have already fulfilled thy command, and distributed by hand thine treasury; forsake me not!" Hearing something about treasure, soldiers put him under guard, and the other martyrs were beheaded (+6 August 258). The emperor locked up St Laurence in prison and ordered the chief jailer Hyppolitus to keep watch over him. In prison St Laurence with prayer healed the sick gathered together with him and he baptized many.

Astonished by this, Hyppolitus himself believed and accepted Baptism from St Laurence together with all his household. Soon the archdeacon Laurence was again brought to the emperor and commanded to produce the hidden treasure. St Laurence answered: "Give me a period of three days, and I shalt show thee this treasure". During this time the saint gathered up a crowd of the poor and the sick, who ate only because of the charity of the Church, and bringing them he explained: "Here are the vessels in which is contained the treasure. And everyone, who puts their treasure in these vessels, will receive them in abundance in the Heavenly Kingdom".

After this they gave St Laurence over to fierce tortures, urging him to worship idols. The martyr was scourged (with a fine iron flail with sharp needles), they burned his wounds with fire, and struck at him with metal switches. At the time of the martyr's suffering, the soldier Romanus suddenly cried out: "St Laurence, I behold a bright youth, who standeth about thee healing thy wounds. Beseech thy Lord Christ not to forsake me!" After this they stretched St Laurence on a rack and returned him to prison to Hyppolitus. Romanus brought there a waterpot with water and besought the martyr to baptize him. And immediately after the Baptism of the soldier, he was beheaded (+9 August). When they took St Laurence to his final torture, St Hyppolitus wanted to declare himself a Christian and die together with him, but the confessor said: "Conceal for now thy confession in thy heart.

After some length of time I shall summon thee, and thou shalt hear and come unto me. Weep not for me, but rather rejoice, for I go to receive a glorious crown of martyrdom." They placed him in an iron cage, under which they set an intense fire, and the flames of the fire flicked towards the body of the martyr. St Laurence, glancing at the governor, said: "Here now, you burn only but one side of my body, turn over the other and do my whole body". Dying, he uttered: "I thank Thee, Lord Jesus Christ, that Thou hast accounted me worthy to enter into Thy gates" -- and with these words he gave up the spirit.

St Hyppolitus took the body of the martyr by night, he wrapped it in a shroud with ointments and gave it over to the priest Justin. Over the relics of the martyr in the home of the widow Kyriake they made an all-night vigil and Divine Liturgy. All the Christians present partook of the Holy Mysteries and with honor they buried the body of the holy martyr Archdeacon Laurence in a cave on 10 August 258. St Hyppolitus and other Christians suffered three days after the death of St Laurence (13 August), as he had foretold them of this.


Troparion - Tone 4

Victorious martyr of Christ our God,
by the sign of the Cross you gave sight to the blind;
you distributed the riches of the Church to the poor;
you were tried by fire and no evil was found in you.
As you endured the burning,
may your prayers extinguish the flames of our many sins,
blessed Archdeacon Lawrence!

Kontakion - Tone 2

Your heart burned with divine fire
as the flames of the passions died within you.
God-bearing martyr Lawrence, the pillar of those who struggle,
you cried out in the midst of your contest:
"Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ."

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« Reply #33 on: December 19, 2007, 12:10:42 AM »

St. Maria Skobtsova


The holy and glorious venerable-martyr Maria Skobtsova (also Saint Mary of Paris or Mother Maria) was a nun and martyr in Paris in the early twentieth century. She encouraged hospitality and love of one's neighbor, often in the most uncompromising of terms. She considered this to be the foundation of the Christian gospel, and she embodied it in her life. She is often compared to Dorothy Day, an American Roman Catholic who founded the Catholic Worker movement. Saint Mary died a martyr in Ravensbrück prison. She was glorified by the Church of Constantinople on January 16, 2004, along with her companions, Priest Dmitri Klepinin, her son George (Yuri) Skobtsov, and Elie Fondaminsky.
Contents

Life
Born to a well to do, upper-class family in 1891 in Latvia, she was given the name Elizaveta Pilenko. Her father died when she was a teenager, and she embraced atheism. In 1906 her mother took the family to St. Petersburg, where she became involved in radical intellectual circles. In 1910 she married a Bolshevik by the name of Dimitri Kuzmin-Karaviev. During this period of her life she was actively involved in literary circles and wrote much poetry. Her first book, Scythian Shards, was a collection of poetry from this period. By 1913 her marriage to Dimitri had ended.

Through a look at the humanity of Jesus – "He also died. The sweated blood. They struck his face" – she began to be drawn back into Christianity. She moved – now with her daughter, Gaiana – to the south of Russia where her religious devotion increased.

In 1918, after the Bolshevik Revolution, she was elected deputy mayor of the town of Anapa in Southern Russia. When the White Army took control of Anapa, the mayor fled and she became mayor of the town. The White Army put her on trial for being a Bolshevik. However, the judge was a former teacher of hers, Daniel Skobtsov, and she was acquitted. Soon the two fell in love and were married.

Soon, the political tide was turning again. In order to avoid danger, Elizaveta, Daniel, Gaiana, and Elizaveta's mother Sophia fled the country. Elizaveta was pregnant with her second child. They traveled first to Georgia (where her son Yuri was born) and then to Yugoslavia (where her daughter Anastasia was born). Finally they arrived in Paris in 1923. Soon Elizaveta was dedicating herself to theological studies and social work.

In 1926, Anastasia died of influenza – a heartbreaking event for the family. Gaiana was sent away to Belgium to boarding school. Soon, Daniel and Elizaveta's marriage was falling apart. Yuri ended up living with Daniel, and Elizaveta moved into central Paris to work more directly with those who were most in need.

Her bishop encouraged her to take vows as a nun, something she did only with the assurance that she would not have to live in a monastery, secluded from the world. In 1932, with Daniel Skobtov's permission, an ecclesiastical divorce was granted and she took monastic vows. In religion she took the name Maria. Her confessor was Father Sergius Bulgakov. Later, Father Dmitri Klepinin would be sent to be the chaplain of the house.

Mother Maria made a rented house in Paris her "convent." It was a place with an open door for refugees, the needy and the lonely. It also soon became a center for intellectual and theological discussion. In Mother Maria these two elements - service to the poor and theology – went hand-in-hand.

Death
When the Nazis took Paris in World War II, Jews soon approached the house asking for baptismal certificates, which Father Dimitri would provide them. Many Jews came to stay with them. They provided shelter and helped many escape. Eventually the house was closed down. Mother Maria, Father Dimitri, Yuri, and Sophia were all taken by the Gestapo. Father Dimitri and Yuri both died at the prison camp in Dora.

Mother Maria was sent to the camp in Ravensbruck, Germany. On Holy Saturday, 1945, Mother Maria was taken to the gas chamber and entered eternal life. It is suggested that she took the place of another who had been selected for that death.

Glorification

Mother Maria was glorified by act of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on January 16, 2004. The glorification of Mother Maria, together with Fr. Dimitri, Yuri, and Ilya Fondaminsky took place at the Cathedral of Saint Alexander Nevsky in Paris on May 1 and 2, 2004. Their feast day is July 20.

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Maria_Skobtsova
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« Reply #34 on: December 19, 2007, 12:11:54 AM »

I just have to include St. Gregory the Illuminator's other son, St. Aristakes.  He succeeded St. Gregory as Catholicos and attended the First Ecumenical Council.


While still a layman in Caesarea (Kayseri), St. Gregory and his wife Mariam were blessed with two sons, Vrtanés and Arisdagés. When St. Gregory and Mariam parted, Arisdagés was still very young and in need of motherly care. Mariam took him with her to the convent she joined. Influenced by his early upbringing in the convent, Arisdagés entered the service of God at an early age and became a hermit in the mountains. He became renowned for his austere way of life, attracting young disciples who sought his company for pious instruction. He was particularly versed in Greek letters and philosophy.

Years passed, and when King Drtad (by now a Christian convert) learned that St. Gregory had sired two sons in his younger days, he sent certain nobles to Caesarea to bring the sons to Armenia. (St. Gregory himself had withdrawn to the wilderness to lead a solitary life.) At the time, St. Arisdagés was living in a hermitage; he initially refused to leave his austere way of life and go to the court of the king. Ultimately, he yielded to the plea of Christians not to refuse the pastoral work that lay before him.

Upon the arrival of Sts. Arisdagés and Vrtanés, King Drtad took them with him to look for St. Gregory. Finding the saint in the wilderness, he begged St. Gregory to ordain his son Arisdagés a bishop and take him as his assistant. After his ordination, St. Arisdagés diligently pursued his pastoral work, preaching and wiping out the vestiges of pagan customs and traditions.

St. Arisdagés represented the Armenian Church at the Holy Council of Nicaea, which met in a.d. 325 at the order of the Roman Emperor Constantine. His name appears on the list alongside those of the 318 bishops who participated in that council. He returned to Armenia, bringing with him the canons of the renowned council. These canons are still venerated in the Armenian Church and form the foundation of discipline and order in our tradition.

After St. Gregory’s complete withdrawal from pastoral life and his demise, St. Arisdagés succeeded him as the chief bishop of Greater Armenia. As a pastor he surpassed the accomplishments of his father, as attested by the historian of the conversion of Armenia.

St. Arisdagés himself died as a martyr, and that is one of the reasons why he is considered a saint of the Armenian Church. The circumstances of his assassination are not very clear. All we know is that, at some point in his career as chief bishop of Armenia, he had reprimanded a high dignitary named Archilaeus, who had been appointed governor of the province of Dzopk in western Armenia. We are not told what Archilaeus had done to deserve St. Arisdagés’ reprimand, but he kept a grudge. When the bishop was on a pastoral visit in those parts, Archilaeus met him on the road and slew him. In order to avoid arrest and prosecution for his crime, he fled to the Taurus Mountains in Cilicia. St. Arisdagés’ disciples took his body to the village of Til near Erzinjan and buried him there. His grave was later shown within the confines of the Chukhdag Hayrabedats Vank (“The Monastery of the Twin Patriarchs”), which was still extant until 1915.

St. Arisdagés is said to have presided as the chief bishop of Armenia for seven years. The date of his martyrdom is calculated to have taken place at about a.d. 328.

http://www.armenianchurch.net/church/gregory-sons2.html
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« Reply #35 on: December 19, 2007, 12:23:19 AM »

St. Martin the Confessor, Pope of Rome



Commemorated on April 14

Saint Martin the Confessor, Pope of Rome, was a native of the Tuscany region of Italy. He received a fine education and entered into the clergy of the Roman Church. After the death of Pope Theodore I (642-649), Martin was chosen to succeed him.

At this time the peace of the Church was disturbed by the Monothelite heresy (the false doctrine that in Christ there is only one will. He has a divine, and a human will). The endless disputes of the Monothelites with the Orthodox took place in all levels of the population. Even the emperor Constans (641-668) and Patriarch Paul of Constantinople (641-654) were adherents of the Monothelite heresy. The emperor Constans II published the heretical "Pattern of Faith" (Typos), obligatory for all the population. In it all further disputes were forbidden.

The heretical "Pattern of Faith" was received at Rome in the year 649. St Martin, a firm supporter of Orthodoxy, convened the Lateran Council at Rome to condemn the Monothelite heresy. At the same time St Martin sent a letter to Patriarch Paul, persuading him to return to the Orthodox confession of faith. The enraged emperor ordered the military commander Olympius to bring St Martin to trial. But Olympius feared the clergy and the people of Rome who had descended upon the Council, and he sent a soldier to murder the holy hierarch. When the assassin approached St Martin, he was blinded. The terrified Olympius fled to Sicily and was soon killed in battle.

In 654 the emperor sent another military commander, Theodore, to Rome. He accused St Martin of being in secret correspondence with the enemies of the Empire, the Saracens, and of blaspheming the Most Holy Theotokos, and of uncanonically assuming the papal throne.

Despite the proofs offered by the Roman clergy and laity of St Martin's innocence, the military commander Theodore with a detachment of soldiers seized St Martin by night and took him to Naxos, one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. St Martin spent an entire year on this almost unpopulated island, suffering deprivation and abuse from the guards. Then they sent the exhausted confessor to Constantinople for trial.

They carried the sick man on a stretcher, but the judges callously ordered him to stand up and answer their questions. The soldiers propped up the saint, who was weakened by illness. False witnesses came forward slandering the saint and accusing him of treasonous relations with the Saracens. The biased judges did not even bother to hear the saint's defense. In sorrow he said, "The Lord knows what a great kindness you would show me if you would deliver me quickly over to death."

After such a trial they brought the saint out in tattered clothes to a jeering crowd. They shouted, "Anathema to Pope Martin!" But those who knew the holy Pope was suffering unjustly, withdrew in tears. Finally the sentence was announced: St Martin was to be deposed from his rank and executed. They bound the half-naked saint with chains and dragged him to prison, where they locked him up with thieves. These were more merciful to the saint than the heretics.

In the midst of all this the emperor went to the dying Patriarch Paul and told him of the trial of St Martin. He turned away from the emperor and said, "Woe is me! This is another reason for my judgment." He asked that St Martin's torments be stopped. The emperor again sent a notary and other persons to the saint in prison to interrogate him. The saint answered, "Even if they cripple me, I will not have relations with the Church of Constantinople while it remains in its evil doctrines." The torturers were astonished at the confessor's boldness, and they commuted his death sentence to exile at Cherson in the Crimea.

There the saint died, exhausted by sickness, hunger and deprivations on September 16, 655. He was buried outside the city in the Blachernae church of the Most Holy Theotokos, and later the relics of the holy confessor Martin were transferred to Rome.

The Monothelite heresy was condemned at the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680.


Troparion - Tone 3

You strengthened the Church with true doctrine,
wise hierarch Martin.
You declared the two natures of Christ,
putting heresy to shame.
Entreat the Lord to grant us His great mercy.

Kontakion - Tone 8

High Priest and teacher of the mysteries,
you poured forth streams of doctrine.
You expounded the true doctrine of the two natures and wills of Christ.
Intercede for those who cry: "Rejoice, blessed Father Martin."

Source
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« Reply #36 on: December 19, 2007, 12:25:47 AM »

Of course, this thread would not be complete for me personally without this info on my patron saint, the martyr Peter the Aleut.



Commemorated on September 24 (and, as Fr. Chris pointed out on another thread, December 12)

Saint Peter the Aleut is mentioned in the Life of St Herman of Alaska (December 13). Simeon Yanovsky (who ended his life as the schemamonk Sergius in the St Tikhon of Kaluga Monastery), has left the following account:

"On another occasion I was relating to him how the Spanish in California had imprisoned fourteen Aleuts, and how the Jesuits (actually Franciscans) were forcing all of them to accept the Catholic Faith. But the Aleuts would not agree under any circumstances, saying, 'We are Christians.' The Jesuits argued, 'That's not true, you are heretics and schismatics. If you do not agree to accept our faith then we will torture all of you to death.' Then the Aleuts were placed in prisons two to a cell. That evening, the Jesuits came to the prison with lanterns and lighted candles. Again they tried to persuade two Aleuts in the cell to accept the Catholic Faith. 'We are Christians,' the Aleuts replied, 'and we will not change our Faith.' Then the Jesuits began to torture them, at first the one while his companion was a witness. They cut off one of the joints of his feet, and then the other joint. Then they cut the first joint on the fingers of his hands, and then the other joint. Then they cut off his feet, and his hands. The blood flowed, but the martyr endured all and firmly repeated one thing: "I am a Christian.' He died in such suffering, due to a loss of blood. The Jesuit also promised to torture his comrade to death the next day.

But that night an order was received from Monterey stating that the imprisoned Aleuts were to be released immediately, and sent there under escort. Therefore, in the morning all were sent to Monterey with the exception of the dead Aleut. This was related to me by a witness, the same Aleut who had escaped torture, and who was the friend of the martyred Aleut. I reported this incident to the authorities in St Petersburg. When I finished my story, Father Herman asked, 'What was the name of the martyred Aleut?' I answered, 'Peter. I do not remember his family name.' The Elder stood reverently before an icon, made the Sign of the Cross and said, "Holy New Martyr Peter, pray to God for usl"

We know very little about St Peter, except that he was from Kodiak, and was arrested and put to death by the Spaniards in California because he refused to convert to Catholicism. The circumstances of his martyrdom recall the torture of St James the Persian (November 27).

Both in his sufferings and in his steadfast confession of the Faith, St Peter is the equal of the martyrs of old, and also of the New Martyrs who have shone forth in more recent times. Now he rejoices with them in the heavenly Kingdom, glorifying God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, throughout all ages.

http://www.oca.org/FS.NA-Saint.asp?SID=4&Saint=Peter


Troparion - Tone 4

Today Alaska rejoices and America celebrates
for the New World has been sanctified by martyrdom.
Kodiak echoes with songs of thanksgiving,
Iliámna and Kenái observe the Festival of Faith.
The apostle and martyr Juvenaly is glorified
and Peter the Aleut is exalted by his voluntary sacrifice.
In their devotion and love for the Lord
they willingly endured persecution and death for the Truth.
Now in the Kingdom of Heaven they intercede for our souls.


Kontakion - Tone 4

Today Valaam joins Alaska in celebrating this joyous feast,
as her spiritual son Juvenaly embraces the New Martyr Peter with love.
Together they suffered for the Lord in America
and united the Old World with the New by their voluntary sacrifice.
Now forever they stand before the King of Glory and intercede for our souls.

http://www.oca.org/FSTropars.asp?SID=13&ID=102713
« Last Edit: December 19, 2007, 12:26:21 AM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
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« Reply #37 on: December 19, 2007, 12:50:50 AM »

St. Philothei

Philothei was born in 1550 Athens into a very affluent family. Her family was loving and caring as well as patient, and she was married to a young man and widowed before she was even sixteen. After returning to live with her parents, she took on an active position in the family as well as the church and city. She was only content when she was helping others, and this peace of mind drew her closer to God and the Church. Her family’s wealth assisted in her charitable work, and before she had reached adulthood she had earned the love and respect of the community.

After her family had passed away, Philothei became the sole owner of extensive wealth, but desiring to become a nun, she assigned control of her belongings to the care of others in order to move to an Orthodox convent. In the meantime her money continued helping the poor and also funded the building of several churches and nunneries in and around Athens. At her own convent, Philothei transferred the nuns’ interests from passive to active. She taught them to supplement their worship and devotions with crafts that could benefit the Church community. Her work set the example for the handiwork that has been the trademark of nunneries for years.

During this time in history, Turkish Moslems were holding Greece hostage, challenging Christianity. However, they became frustrated because their attempts at conversion were unsuccessful. They had hoped the mere pressure of their presence would lead to the gradual replacement of Christianity by their own Moslem faith. Eventually the Turks endeavored to discredit the many faithful Christian leaders in Athens, but this was also unsuccessful. Philothei and other spiritual leaders only gained stronger resolve and greater devotion to God.

Philothei began to give refuge to women who had escaped from Turkish harems and fled to her convent. Some became nuns, others were kept hidden in the convent until a safe house could be found for them. A woman ahead of her time, St. Philothei had established the first women's refuge in the 16th Century.

When it became apparent that Islam could not reach the hearts of the Christian Athenians, the Turks deliberately chose Philothei as a target, not only because of her open defiance but because they considered her sex to be a weakness and hoped she would succumb to surrender more easily. However, she remained a faithful and strong guide for the Athenians. Enraged, the Turks began a brutal course of terrorism.

During a service in Saint Andrew church, one of the beautiful chapels erected by her magnanimity, Philothei and some of her friends were attacked. The women were brutally beaten with clubs and stones, then dragged into the street to be murdered in front of the devastated townspeople. Philothei was carried out alive from this barbaric scene, but yielded to her wounds and gave up the spirit on February 19th, 1589.

Several miracles have been attributed to the Holy Martyr Philothei, mostly at the Cathedral in Athens and the Saint Andrew Church, still standing today and where her relics are enshrined. The many churches and nunneries she funded are still evident, and many organizations of women are named to honor this Athenian Saint.

Troparion to Saint Philothei

(Tone 5)

The Faithful of Athens and all the world

honors Philothei the martyred nun

and rejoices in her holy relics.

For she has exchanged this passing life

for the life that knows no end

through her struggle and martyrdom;

and she begs the Savior to have mercy on us all.

St. Philothei’s feast is celebrated on February 19th. Translated, her name means "friend of God."
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« Reply #38 on: December 19, 2007, 01:07:57 AM »

Martyr Agatha of Palermo in Sicily



Commemorated on February 5

The Holy Virgin Martyr Agatha was the fifteen-year-old daughter of rich and respected Christian parents from the city of Palermo (formerly Panormos) in Sicily. During the persecution under the emperor Decius (249-251), the city prefect of Catania, Quintianus, having heard about Agatha's wealth and beauty, sent his soldiers after her to bring her to trial as a Christian.

At Catania they housed the saint with a certain rich woman, who had five daughters. They all attempted to tempt St Agatha with fine clothes, amusements and entertainment, urging her to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, but the saint disdained all these things. The more they tried to move her, the more resolute she became. She prayed that she might soon face martyrdom.

During her interrogation under Quintianus, the holy martyr was swayed neither by the flattery, nor by the threats, and she was subjected to cruel torments. They also tried to remove her breasts with metal tongs, and when this failed, they used knives.

The holy Apostle Peter appeared to her in prison and healed her wounds. St Agatha was led to torture again, and Quintianus was astonished to see her completely healed, with no trace of cutting. Then the torture began once more.

At this moment an earthquake took place in the city, and many buildings were destroyed. Among those killed were two of Quintianus's advisors. The terrified inhabitants rushed to Quintianus, demanding an end to Agatha's tortures. Fearing a revolt by the people, Quintianus sent St Agatha back to prison. There the martyr, offering thanks to God, peacefully surrendered her soul to the Lord.


Troparion - Tone 4

Your lamb Agatha, calls out to You, O Jesus, in a loud voice:
"I love You, my Bridegroom, Bridegroom, and in seeking You I endure endure suffering.
In baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in You, and I died so that I might live with You.
Accept me as a pure sacrifice,
for I have offered offered myself in love."
Through her prayers save our souls, since You are merciful.

Kontakion - Tone 4

May the Church be robed today in a garment of glorious porphyry,
dyed by the pure blood of the martyr Agatha,
and let us cry out: "Rejoice, pride of Catania!"


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« Reply #39 on: December 19, 2007, 01:37:46 AM »

St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan



Commemorated on December 7

Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, was born in the year 340 into the family of the Roman prefect of Gaul (now France). Even in the saint's childhood there appeared presentiments of his great future. Once, bees covered the face of the sleeping infant. They flew in and out of his mouth, leaving honey on his tongue. Soon they flew away so high that they could no longer be seen. Ambrose's father said that the child would become something great when he reached manhood.

After the death of the father of the family, Ambrose journeyed to Rome, where the future saint and his brother Satyrius received an excellent education. About the year 370, upon completion of his course of study, Ambrose was appointed to the position of governor (consular prefect) of the districts of Liguria and Aemilia, though he continued to live at Mediolanum (now Milan).

In the year 374 Auxentius, the Arian Bishop of Mediolanum, died. This led to complications between the Orthodox and the Arians, since each side wanted to have its own bishop. Ambrose, as the chief city official, went to the church to resolve the dispute.

While he was speaking to the crowd, suddenly a child cried out,"Ambrose for bishop!" The people took up this chant. Ambrose, who at this time was still a catechumen, considered himself unworthy, and tried to refuse. He disparaged himself, and even tried to flee from Mediolanum. The matter went ultimately before the emperor Valentinian the Elder (364-375), whose orders Ambrose dared not disobey. He accepted holy Baptism from an Orthodox priest and, passing through all the ranks of the Church clergy in just seven days, on December 7, 374 he was consecrated Bishop of Mediolanum. He dispersed all his possessions, money and property for the adornment of churches, the upkeep of orphans and the poor, and he devoted himself to a strict ascetic life.

Ambrose combined strict temperance, intense vigilance and work within the fulfilling of his duties as archpastor. St Ambrose, defending the unity of the Church, energetically opposed the spread of heresy. Thus, in the year 379 he traveled off to establish an Orthodox bishop at Sirmium, and in 385-386 he refused to hand over the basilica of Mediolanum to the Arians.

The preaching of St Ambrose in defense of Orthodoxy was deeply influential. Another noted Father of the Western Church, St Augustine (June 15), bore witness to this, having accepted holy Baptism in the year 387 by the grace of the preaching of the bishop of Mediolanum.

St Ambrose also actively participated in civil matters. Thus, the emperor Gracian (375-383), having received from him the "Exposition of the Orthodox Faith" (De Fide), removed, by decree of the saint, the altar of Victory from the halls of the Senate at Rome, on which oaths were wont to be taken. Displaying a pastoral boldness, St Ambrose placed a severe penance on the emperor Theodosius I (379-395) for the massacre of innocent inhabitants of Thessalonica. For him there was no difference between emperor and commoner. Though he released Theodosius from the penance, the saint would not permit the emperor to commune at the altar, but compelled him to do public penance.

The fame of Bishop Ambrose and his actions attracted to him many followers from other lands. From faraway Persia learned men came to him to ask him questions and absorb his wisdom. Fritigelda (Frigitil), queen of the military Germanic tribe of the Markomanni, which often had attacked Mediolanum, asked the saint to instruct her in the Christian Faith. The saint in his letter to her persuasively stated the dogmas of the Church. And having become a believer, the queen converted her own husband to Christianity and persuaded him to conclude a treaty of peace with the Roman Empire.

The saint combined strictness with an uncommon kindliness. Granted a gift of wonderworking, he healed many from sickness. One time at Florence, while staying at the house of Decentus, he resurrected a dead boy.

The repose of St Ambrose, who departed to the Lord on the night of Holy Pascha, was accompanied by many miracles. He even appeared in a vision to the children being baptized that night. The saint was buried in the Ambrosian basilica in Mediolanum, beneath the altar, between the Martyrs Protasius and Gervasius (October 14).

A zealous preacher and valiant defender of the Christian Faith, St Ambrose received particular renown as a Church writer. In dogmatic compositions he set forth the Orthodox teaching about the Holy Trinity, the Sacraments, and Repentance: "Five Books on the Faith" (De Fide); "Explication of the Symbol of the Faith" (Explanatio Symboli); "On the Incarnation" (De Incarnationis); "Three Books on the Holy Spirit" (De Spiritu Sancto); "On the Sacraments" (De Sacramento); "Two Books on Repentance" (De Paenitentia). In writings about Christian morality, he explained the excellence of Christian moral teaching compared to pagan moral teaching.

A well-known work of St Ambrose, "On the Duties of the Clergy" (De Officiis Ministrorum) evidences his deep awareness of pastoral duty. He stresses that those who serve in the Church should have not only the proper knowledge of Church services, but also the proper knowledge of moral precepts.

St Ambrose was also a reformer of Church singing. He introduced antiphonal singing (along the Eastern or Syrian form) into the Western Church, which became known as "Ambrosian Chant." He also composed twelve hymns which were used during his lifetime. The hymn, "Thee, O God, we praise" (Te Deum), attributed to St Ambrose, entered into the divine services of the Orthodox Church (Molieben).


Troparion - Tone 4

In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith,
an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence;
your humility exalted you;
your poverty enriched you.
Hierarch Father Ambrose,
entreat Christ our God
that our souls may be saved.

Kontakion - Tone 3

You shone forth with divine doctrine eclipsing the deception of Arius,
shepherd and initiate of the mysteries, Ambrose.
you worked miracles through the power of the Spirit,
healing various passions;
righteous father, entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.


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« Reply #40 on: December 19, 2007, 02:31:51 AM »

Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of Lesvos.

For many years a monk had been seen walking on the hill at Karyes in Lesbos,Mytillini in Greece.Many Christians and Turks had seen him.The hill was also called Kaloyeros after the monk, who was seen holding a censor and would disappear in a splendour of light.

In 1917 the Turk who owned an estate with olive trees on the hill at Karyes,Hasan Bei,commisioned the police officer of Thermi, Efstratios Sitara to solve this mystery.The short investigation was soon abandoned as the belief was held that these visions were of a supernatural nature.

There was a small chapel there in the name of Panayia. Residents of Thermi held a service there every Easter Tuesday without hindrance from the Turkish owner of the property.
Many saw the monk.Shepherds grazing their flocks heard singing and bells from the chapel.
Tradition said the monk was killed by the Turks but when this had happened,no one knew.There had also been a female monastery there, but had been destroyed by barbarians.There was a strong belief that the place had Divine Grace and was Holy.

After the destruction and problems suffered by the Greeks in Asia Minor,the Turkish olive tree property was given to a Mr Marangos and his family.They sought permission to build a church.

On 3rd July 1959, excavations began for the foundations of the church.A grave was found containing a human skeleton and giving off a sweet fragrance.The head of the skeleton was resting on a round stone, much like a pillow.The head was about 30cms away from the body. The lower jaw was missing. The excavators also found a ceramic tile from the Byzantine era with a Cross engraved on it.

After the discovery of the grave,amazing phenomena started to occur.The bones were put in a sack by a Mr Doukas Tsolakis. He was in charge of the excavations.He could not lift the sack up due to the excessive weight.Noises were heard from the bones.They were also producing a fragrant incense. One of the workers, a Mr Leonidas Sideras kicked the sack and his leg went numb. Tsolakis hand remained motionless.He could not lift the sack.The priest was asked to do a Trisagion-a prayer for the departed. The night before he was due to conduct the service, he was wondering what name he should use.During the night Saint Raphael appeared to the Priest. He told him who he was, and that he was born on the island of Ithaka.

Since then St Raphael has appeared many times to different people.He suffered martyrdom on 9th April 1463.

St Raphael was born Georgios Laskaridis. His father was called Dionysios and his mother Maria. They were a devout family.St Raphael served in the army. He then became a monk and clergyman taking the name of Raphael.

He served as parish priest in the parish of St Demetrios of Loumbardiaris in Athens.He then became Archimandrite and Bishop at the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

It was when he travelled to France that he met St Nicholas at Morlaix.Nicholas was from a wealthy family .He was a young student from Thessalonika studying at a French university.Nicholas was moved by the teaching of st Raphael and they became firm friends.

They lived in the monastery for nine years. In 1462 Mohammed the conqueror captured Lesvos after a seventeen day siege. It fell on 17th September 1462.The Turks did not disturb the Monastery immediately.After 6 months,in April 1463, during Holy Week, a movement occured in Thermi,causing some agitation. The Christians went up to Karyes to hide.The teacher Theodoros and the Commumity Chief Vasillios together with his family went up to the Monastery.St Raphael conducted the Divine Liturgy for the last time on Holy Thursday.On Good Friday the Turks came to the Monastery seized
Abbot Raphael, Deacon Nicholas,the family of the Community Chief and the Teacher Theodoros.Everyone else had fled to the mountains.The Turks started torturing them to find out the hideout of the others.

Irene, the twelve year old daughter of the Community Chief had her hand cut off in front of her parents, who were tied to a tree.She was then put in a big earthen pot and burned to death.Her father, mother, and the teacher Theodoros were all murdered.St Raphael was horribly tortured in front of Saint Nicholas.St Nicholas died of heart failure, on seeing his mentor murdered.

The Monastery was then torched and the Turks fled.The next night some devout christians buried the Holy Martyrs secretly.

When St Raphael started to appear to people he revealed everything-where the bones of the Martyrs were buried, the pot where little Irene was burned, the grave of the Teacher Theodoros, and the graves of Irene and her father.
At The site of the Ancient Church, icons were found,Holy water, Sheets from handwritten Gospels and a round icon of Jesus.St Raphael also revealed the spot where his jaw was.

The grave of Igoumene Mother Superior Olympia who suffered Martyrdom in 1235 when pirates destroyed Panaghias Old Monastery, and killed the nuns was also found.Three large nails were found in her skull.More nails were found on her body.

In 1963 at the place of the Holy Martyrdom a Convent for Ladies was established.

http://www.churchsaints.btinternet.co.uk/straphael/straphael.htm
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« Reply #41 on: December 19, 2007, 03:32:25 AM »

St. Herman of Alaska


Commemorated on August 9 & December 13

Venerable Herman of Alaska, Wonderworker of All America. A spiritual mission was organized in 1793, made up of monks of the Valaam Monastery. They were sent to preach the Word of God to the native inhabitants of northwestern America, who only ten years before had come under the sovereignty of Russia. St Herman was among the members of this Mission.

St Herman came from a family of merchants of Serpukhov, a city of the Moscow Diocese. His name before he was tonsured, and his family name are not known. (The monastic name is given when a monk takes his vows). He had a great zeal for piety from youth, and at sixteen he entered monastic life. (This was in 1772, if we assume that Herman was born in 1756, although sometimes 1760 is given as the date of his birth.) First he entered the Trinity-Sergius Hermitage which was located near the Gulf of Finland on the Peterhof Road, about 15 versts (about 10 miles) from St Petersburg.

MIRACULOUS HEALING OF HERMAN At the St Sergius Hermitage there occurred the following incident to Father Herman. On the right side of his throat under his chin there appeared an abcess. The swelling grew rapidly, disfiguring his face. It became difficult for him to swallow, and the odor was unbearable. In this critical condition Father Herman awaited death. He did not appeal to a physician of this world, but locking his cell he fell before an lcon of the Queen of Heaven. With fervent tears he prayed, asking of Her that he might be healed. He prayed the whole night. Then he took a wet towel and with it wiped the face of the Most Holy Mother, and with this towel he covered the swelling. He continued to pray with tears until he fell asleep from sheer exhaustion on the floor. In a dream he saw the Virgin Mary healing him.

When Herman awoke in the morning, he found to his great surprise that he was fully healed. The swelling had disappeared, even though the abscess had not broken through, leaving behind but a small mark as though a reminder of the miracle. Physicians to whom this healing was described did not believe it, arguing that it was necessary for the abscess to have either broken through of its own accord or to have been cut open. But the words of the physicians were the words of human experience, for where the grace of God operates there the order of nature is overcome. Such occurrences humble human reason under the strong hand of God's Mercy.

HERMAN'S LIFE AT VALAAM For five or six years Father Herman continued to live in the St Sergius Hermitage, and then he transferred to the Valaam Monastery, which was widely scattered on the large islands in the waters of the great Lake Ladoga. He came to love the Valaam haven with all his soul, as he came to love its unforgettable Superior, the pious Elder Nazarius, and all the brethren. He wrote to Father Nazarius later from America, "Your fatherly goodness to me, humble one, will be erased out of my heart neither by the terrible, unpassable Siberian lands, nor by the dark forests. Nor will it be wiped out by the swift flow of the great rivers; nor will the awful ocean quench these feelings. In my mind I imagine my beloved Valaam, looking to it beyond the great ocean." He praised the Elder Nazarius in his letters as,"the most reverend, and my beloved father." (Batushka) and the brethren of Valaam he called, "my beloved and dearest." The place where he lived in America, deserted Spruce Island, he called "Now Valaam." And as we can see, he always remained in spiritual contact with his spiritual homeland', for as late as 1823, that is after thirty years of his life within the borders of America, he wrote letters to the successor of Father Nazarius, the lgumen Innocent.

Father Barlaam, later lgumen of Valaam, and a contemporary of Father Herman, who accepted his tonsure from Father Nazarius, wrote thus of the life of Father Herman.

"Father Herman went through the various obediences here, and being ‘well disposed toward every thing’ was in the course of events sent to Serdobol to oversee there the work of quarrying marble. The Brothers loved Father Herman, and awaited impatiently his return to the cloisters from Serdobol. Recognizing the zeal of the young hermit the wise elder, Father Nazarius, released him to take abode in the wilderness. This wilderness was in the deep forest about a mile from the cloister: to this day this place has retained the name 'Herman's.' On holy days, Father Herman returned to the monastery from the wilderness. Then it was that at Little Vespers he would stand in the choir and sing in his pleasant tenor the responses with the brethren from the Canon, 'O Sweetest Jesus, save us sinners. Most Holy Theotokos, Save us,' and tears would fall like hail from his eyes."

THE FIRST MISSION TO AMERICA In the second half of the 18th century the borders of Holy Russia expanded to the north. In those years Russian merchants discovered the Aleutian Islands which formed in the Pacific Ocean a chain from the eastern shares of Kamchatka to the western shares of North America. With the opening of these islands there was revealed the sacred necessity to illumine with the light of the Gospel the native inhabitants. With the blessing of the Holy Synod, Metropolitan Gabriel gave to the Elder Nazarius the task of selecting capable persons from the brethern of Valaam for this holy endeavor. Ten men were selected, and among them was Father Herman. The chosen men left Valaam for the place of their great appointment in 1793. (The members of this historical mission were: Archimandrite Joseph (Bolotoff), the Hieromonks, Juvenal, Macarius, Athanasius, Stephan and Nectarius, Hierodeacons, Nectarius and Stephen, and the monks Joasaph, and Herman.)

As a result of the holy zeal of the preachers the light of the evangelic sermon quickly poured out among the sons of Russia, and several thousand pagans accepted Christianity. A school for the education of newly-baptized children was organized, and a church was built at the place where the missionaries lived. But by the inscrutable providence of God the general progress of the mission was unsatisfactory. After five years of very productive labor, Archimandrite Joasaph, who had just been elevated to the rank of bishop, was drowned with his party. (This occurred on the Pacific Ocean been Kamchatka and the Aleutian Islands. The ship, Phoenix, one of the first sea-going ships built in Alaska, sailed from Okhotsk carrying the first Bishop for the American Mission and his party. The Phoenix was caught in one of the many storms which periodically sweep the northern Pacific, and the ship and all hands perished together with Bishop Joasaph and his party.) Before this the zealous Hieromonk Juvenal was granted the martyr's crown. The others died one after another until in the end only Father Herman remained. The Lord permitted him to labor longer than any of his brethren in the apostolic task of enlightening the Aleutians.

THE NEW VALAAM - SPRUCE ISLAND In America Father Herman chose as his place of habitation Spruce Island, which he called New Valaam. This island is separted by a strait about a mile and a quarter wide from Kodiak Island on which had been built a wooden monastery for the residence of the members of the mission, and a wooden church dedicated to the Resurrection of the Savior. (New Valaam was named for Valaam on Lake Ladoga, the monastery from which Father Herman came to America. It is interesting to note that Valaam is also located on an island, although, this island is in a fresh water lake, whereas, Spruce Island is on the Pacific Ocean, although near other islands and the Alaskan mainland.)

Spruce Island is not large, and is almost completely covered by a forest. Almost through its middle a small brook flows to the sea. Herman selected this picturesque island for the location of his hermitage. He dug a cave out of the ground with his own hands, and in it he lived his first full summer. For winter there was built for him a cell near the cave, in which he lived until his death. The cave was converted by him into a place for his burial. A wooden chapel, and a wooden house to be used as a schoolhouse and a guest house were built not too distant from his cell. A garden was laid out in front of his cell. For more than forty years Father Herman lived here.

FATHER HERMAN'S WAY OF LIFE Father Herman himself spaded the garden, planted potatoes and cabbage and various vegetables in it. For winter, he preserved mushrooms, salting or drying them. The salt was obtained by him from ocean water. It is said that a wicker basket in which the Elder carried seaweed from the shore, was so large that it was difficult for one person to carry. The seaweed was used for fertilizing the soil. But to the astonishment of all, Father Herman carried a basket filled with seaweed for a long distance without any help at all. By chance his disciple, Gerasim, saw him one winter night carrying a large log which normally would be carried by four men; and he was bare footed. Thus worked the Elder, and everything that he acquired as a result of his immeasurable labors was used for the feeding and clothing of orphans and also for books for his students.

His clothes were the same for winter as for summer. He did not wear a shirt; instead he wore a smock of deer skin, which he did not take off for several years at a time, nor did he change it, so that the fur in it was completely worn away, and the leather became glossy. Then there were his boots or shoes, cassock (podrasnik), an ancient and faded out cassock (riasa) full of patchwork, and his headdress (klobuk). He went everywhere in these clothes, and at all times; in the rain, in snowstorms, and during the coldest freezing weather. In this, Father Herman followed the example of many Eastern Ascetic Fathers and Monks who showed the greatest concern for the welfare and needs of others. Yet, they themselves wore the oldest possible clothes to show their great humility before God, and their contempt for worldly things.

A small bench covered with a time-worn deerskin served as Father Herman's bed. He used two bricks for a pillow; these were hidden from visitors by a skin or a shirt. There was no blanket. Instead, he covered himself with a wooden board which lay on the stove. This board Father Herman, himself called his blanket, and he willed that it be used to cover his remains; it was as long as he was tall. "During my stay in the cell of Father Herman," writes the creole Constantine Larionov, "I, a sinner, sat on his 'blanket'-and I consider this the acme of my fortune!" ('creole' is the name by which the Russians referred to the children of mixed marriages of native Indians of Alaska, Eskimo and Aleuts with Russians.)

On the occasions when Father Herman was the guest of administrators of the American Company and in the course of their soul-saving talks he sat up with them until midnight. He never spent the night with them, but regardless of the weather he always returned to his hermitage. If for some extraordinary reason it was necessary for him to spend the night away from his cell, then in the morning the bed which had been prepared for him would be found untouched; the Elder not having slept at all. The same was true in his hermitage where having spent the night in talks, he never rested.

The Elder ate very little. As a guest, he scarcely tasted the food, and remained without dinner. In his call his dinner consisted of a very small portion of a small fish or some vegetables.

His body, emaciated as a result of his labors, his vigils, and fasting, was crushed by chains which weighed about sixteen pounds. These chains are kept to this day in the chapel.

Telling of these deeds of Father Herman, his disciple, the Aleut lgnaty Aligyaga, added, "Yes, Apa led a very hard life, and no one can imitate his life!" (Apa, Aleutian word means Elder or grandfather, and it is a name indicative of the great affection in which he was held).

Our writing of the incidents in the life of the Elder deal, so to speak, with the external aspects of his labor. "His most important works," says the Bishop Peter, "were his exercises in spiritual endeavor in his isolated cell where no one saw him, but outside the cell they heard him singing and celebrating services to God according to the monastic rule." This witness of the Bishop is supported by the following answers of Father Herman, himself, "How do you manage to live alone in the forest, Father Herman? Don't you ever become lonesome?" He answered, "No I am not there alone! God is here, as God is everywhere. The Holy Angels are there. With whom is it better to talk, with people, or with Angels? Most certainly with Angels."

FATHER HERMAN AND THE NATIVES The way in which Father Herman looked upon the natives of America, how he understood his own relations with them, and how he was concerned for their needs he expressed himself in one of his letters to the former administrator of the colony, Simeon Yanovsky.

He wrote, "Our Creator granted to our beloved homeland this land which like a newly-born babe does not yet have the strength for knowledge or understanding. It requires not only protection, because of its infantile weakness and impotence, but also his sustenance. Even for this it does not yet have the ability to make an appeal on its own behalf. And since the welfare of this nation by the Providence of God, it is not known for how long, is dependent on and has been entrusted into the hands of the Russian government which has now been given into your own power, therefore I, the most humble servant of these people, and their nurse (nyanka) stand before you in their behalf, write this petition with tears of blood. Be our Father and our Protector. Certainly we do not know how to be eloquent, so with an inarticulate infant's tonque we say: Wipe away the tears of the defenseless orphans, cool the hearts melting away in the fire of sorrow. Help us to know what consolation means."

The Elder acted the way he felt. He always interceded before the governors in behalf of those who had transgressed. He defended those who had been offended. He helped those who were in need with whatever means he had available. The Aleuts, men, women and children, often visited him. Some asked for advice, others complained of oppression, others sought out defense, and still others desired help. Each one received the greatest possible satisfaction from the Elder. He discussed their mutual difficulties, and he tried to settle these peacefully. He was especially concerned about reestablishing understanding in families. If he did not succeed in reconciling a husband and wife, the Elder prevailed upon them to separate temporarily. The need for such a procedure he explained thus, "it is better to let them live apart, or believe me, it can be terrible if they are not separated. There have been incidents when a husband killed his wife, or when a wife destroyed her husband."

Father Herman especially loved children. He made large quantities of biscuits for them, and he baked cookies (krendelki) for them; and the children were fond of the Elder. Father Herman's love for the Aleuts reached the point of self-denial.

AN EPIDEMIC STRIKES A ship from the United States brought to Sitka Island, and from there to Kodiak Island, a contagious disease, a fatal illness. It began with a fever, a heavy cold, and difficult respiration, and it ended with chills; in three days the victim died. On the island there was neither a doctor nor medicine. The illness spread rapidly through the village, and then throughout the nearby areas. The disease affected all, even infants. The fatalities were so great that for three days there was no one to dig graves, and the bodies remained unburied. An eyewitness said, "I cannot imagine anything more tragic and horrible than the sight which struck me when I visited an Aleutian 'Kazhim'. This was a large building, or barracks, with dividing sections, in which the Aleuts lived with their families; it contained about 100 people. Here some had died, their cold bodies lay near the living; others were dying; there were groans and weeping which tore at one's soul."

"I saw mothers over whose bodies cold in death crawled a hungry child, crying and searching in vain for its food...My heart was bursting with compassion! It seemed that if anyone could paint with a worthy brush the full horror of this tragic scene, that he would have successfully aroused fear of death in the most embittered heart." Father Herman, during this terrible sickness which lasted a whole month, gradually dying out towards the end, visited the sick, never tiring. He admonished them in their fear, prayed, brought them to penance, or prepared them for death. He never spared himself.

FATHER HERMAN AS A SPIRITUAL TEACHER The Elder was concerned in particular for the moral growth of the Aleuts. With this end in mind a school was built for children-the orphans of the Aleuts. He himself taught them the Law of God and church music. For this same purpose he gathered the Aleuts on Sunday and Holy Days for prayer in the chapel near his cell. Here his disciple read the Hours and the various prayers while the Elder himself read the Epistle and Gospel. He also preached to them. His students sang, and they sang very well. The Aleuts loved to hear his sermons, gathering around him in large numbers. The Elder's talks were captivating, and his listeners were moved by their wonderous power. He himself writes of one example of the beneficial results of his words.

"Glory to the holy destinies of the Merciful God! He has shown me now through his unfathomable Providence a new occurence which I, who have lived here for twenty years had never seen before on Kodiak. Recently after Easter, a young girl about twenty years of age who knows Russian well, came to me. Having heard of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of Eternal Life, she became so inflamed with love for Jesus Christ that she does not wish to leave me. She pleaded eloquently with me. Contrary to my personal inclination and love for solitude, and despite all the hindrances and difficulties which I put forward before accepting her, she has now been living near the school for a month and is not lonesome."

"I, looking on this with great wonder, remembered the 'words of the Savior: that which is hidden from the wise and learned is revealed to babes." (Matt. 11:25)

This woman lived at the school until the death of the Elder. She watched for the good conduct of the children who studied in his school. Father Herman willed that after his death she was to continue to live on Spruce Island. Her name was Sophia Vlasova.

Yanovsky writes about the character and the eloquence of the talks of the Elder thus:

"When I met Father Herman I was thirty years old. I must say that I was educated in the naval corps school; that I knew many sciences having read extensively. But to my regret, the Science of sciences, that is the Law of God, I barely remembered the externals - and these only theoretically, not applying them to life. I was a Christian in name only, but in my soul and in reality, I was a freethinker. Furthermore, I did not admit the divinity and holiness of our religion, for I had read through many atheistic works. Father Herman recognized this immediately and he desired to reconvert me. To my great surprise he spoke so convincingly, wisely - and he argued with such conviction- that it seemed to me that no learning or worldly wisdom could stand one's ground before his words. We conversed with him daily until midnight, and even later, of God's love, of eternity, of the salvation of souls, and of Christian living. From his lips flowed a ceaseless stream of sweet words! By these continual talks and by the prayers of the holy Elder the Lord returned me completely to the way of Truth, and I became a real Christian. I am indebted for all this to Father Herman he is my true benefactor."

"Several years ago," continues Yanovsky, "Father Herman converted a certain naval captain G. to Orthodoxy from the Lutheran Faith. This captain was well educated. Besides many sciences, he was well versed in languages. He knew Russian, English, German, French, Italian and also some Spanish. But for all this he could not resist the convictions and proofs of Father Herman. He changed his faith and was united to the Orthodox Church through Chrismation. When he was leaving America, the Elder said to him while they were parting, "Be on guard, if the Lord should take your wife from you then do not marry a German woman under any circumstance. If you do marry a German woman, undoubtedly she will damage your Orthodoxy." The Captain gave his word, but he failed to keep it. The warning of the Elder was prophetic. Indeed, after several years the Captain's wife did die, and he married a German woman. There is no doubt that his faith weakened or that he left it; for he died suddenly without penance."

Further on Yanovsky writes, "Once the Elder was invited aboard a frigate which came from St Petersburg. The Captain of the frigate was a highly educated man, who had been sent to America by order of the Emperor to make an inspection of all the colonies. There were more than twenty-five officers with the Captain, and they also were educated men. In the company of this group sat a monk of a hermitage, small in stature and wearing very old clothes. All these educated conversationalists were placed in such a position by his wise talks that they did not know how to answer him. The Captain himself used to say, 'We were lost for an answer before him.'

"Father Herman gave them all one general question: 'Gentlemen, What do you love above all, and what will each of you wish for your happiness?' Various answers were offered ... Some desired wealth, others glory, some a beautiful wife, and still others a beautiful ship he would captain; and so forth in the same vein. 'It is not true,' Father Herman said to them concerning this, 'that all your various wishes can bring us to one conclusion - that each of you desires that which in his own understanding he considers the best, and which is most worthy of his love?' They all answered, 'Yes, that is so!' He then continued, 'Would you not say, Is not that which is best, above all, and surpassing all, and that which by preference is most worthy of love, the Very Lord, our Jesus Christ, who created us, adorned us with such ideals, gave life to all, sustains everything, nurtures and loves all, who is Himself Love and most beautiful of all men? Should we not then love God above every thing, desire Him more than anything, and search Him out?' "

All said, "Why, yes! That's self-evident!" Then the Elder asked, "But do you love God?" They all answered, "Certainly, we love God. How can we not love God?" "And I a sinner have been trying for more than forty years to love God, I cannot say that I love Him completely," Father Herman protested to them. He then began to demonstrate to them the way in which we should love God. "if we love someone," he said, "we always remember them; we try to please them. Day and night our heart is concerned with the subject. Is that the way you gentlemen love God? Do you turn to Him often? Do you always remember Him? Do you always pray to Him and fulfill His holy commandments?" They had to admit that they had not! "For our own good, and for our own fortune," concluded the Elder, "let us at least promise ourselves that from this very minute we will try to love God more than anything and to fulfill His Holy Will!" Without any doubt this conversation was imprinted in the hearts of the listeners for the rest of their lives.

"in general, Father Herman liked to talk of eternity, of salvation of the future life, of our destinies under God. He often talked on the lives of the Saints, on the Prologue, but he never spoke about anything frivolous. It was so pleasant to hear him that those who conversed with him, the Aleuts and their wives, were so captivated by his talks that often they did not leave him until dawn, and then they left him with reluctance;" thus witnesses the creole, Constantine Larionov.

A DESCRIPTION OF FATHER HERMAN Yanovsky writes a detailed description of Father Herman. "I have a vivid memory," he said, "Of all the features of the Elder's face reflecting goodness; his pleasant smile, his meek and attractive mien, his humble and quiet behavior, and his gracious word. He was short of stature. His face was pale and covered with wrinkles. His eyes were greyish-blue, full of sparkle, and on his head there were a few gray hairs. His voice was not powerful, but it was very pleasant." Yanovsky relates two incidents from his conversations with the Elder. "Once," he writes, "I read to Father Herman the ode, 'God,' by Derzhavin. The Elder was surprised, and entranced. He asked me to read it again. I read it once more, "Is it possible that a simple, educated man wrote this?" he asked. "Yes, a learned poet," I answered. "This has been written under God's inspiration," said the Elder.

THE MARTYRDOM OF PETER "On another occasion I was relating to him how the Spanish in California had imprisoned fourteen Aleuts, and how the Jesuits were forcing all of them to accept the Catholic Faith. But this Aleut would not agree under any circumstances, saying, 'We are Christians.' The Jesuits protested, 'That's not true; you are heretics and schismatics. If you do not agree to accept our faith then we will torture all of you.' Then the Aleuts were placed in cells until evening; two to a cell. At night the Jesuits came to the prison with lanterns and lighted candles. They began to persuade the Aleuts in the cell once again to accept the Catholic Faith. 'We are Christians,' was the answer of the Aleuts, 'and we will not change our Faith.' Then the Jesuits began to torture them, at first the one while his companion was the witness. They cut the toes off his feet, first one joint and then the other joint. And then they cut the first joint on the fingers of the hands, and then the other joint. Afterwards they cut off his feet, and his hands; the blood flowed. The martyr endured all and steadfastly insisted on one thing: "I am a Christian.' In such suffering, he bled to death. The Jesuit promised to torture to death his comrades also on the next day.

But that night an order was received from Monterey stating that the imprisoned Aleuts were to be released immediately, and sent there under escort. Therefore, in the morning all were dispatched to Monterey with the exception of the martyred Aleut. This was related to me by a witness, the same Aleut who was the comrade of the tortured Aleut. Afterwards he escaped from imprisonment, and I reported this incident to the supreme authorities in St Petersburg. When I finished my story, Father Herman asked, 'And how did they call the martyred Aleut?' I answered, 'Peter; I do not remember his family name.' The Elder stood up before an icon reverently, made the sign of the Cross and pronounced, "Holy newly-martyred Peter, pray to God for usl"

THE SPIRIT OF FATHER HERMAN’S TEACHING In order to express the spirit of Father Herman's teaching, we present here a quotation from a letter that was written by his own hand.

"The empty years of these desires separate us from our heavenly homeland, and our Love for these desires and our habits clothe us, as it were, in an odious dress; it is called by the Apostle 'the external (earthy) man.' (I Cor. 15:47). We who are wanderers in the journey of this life call to God for aid. We must divest ourselves of this repulsiveness, and put on new desires, and a new love for the coming age. Thus, through this we will know either an attraction or a repulsion for the heavenly homeland. It is possible to do this quickly, but we must follow the example of the sick, who wishing for desired health, do not stop searching for means of curing themselves. But I am not speaking clearly."

Not desiring anything for himself in life; long ago when he first came to America having refused, because of his humility, the dignity of hiero-monk and archimandrite; and deciding to remain forever a common monk, Father Herman, without the least fear before the, powerful, strove with all sincerity for God. With gentle love, and disregarding the person, he criticized many for intemperate living, for unworthy behalvor, and for oppressing the Aleuts. Evil armed itself against him and gave him all sorts of trouble and sorrow. But God protected the Elder. The Administrator of the Colony, Yanovsky, not having yet seen Father Herman, after receiving one of those complaints, had already written to St Petersburg of the necessity of his removal. He explained that it seemed that he was arousing the Aleuts against the administration. But this accusation turned out to be unjust, and in the end Yanovsky was numbered among the admirers of Father Herman.

Once an inspector came to Spruce Island with the Administrator of the Colony N. and with company employees to search through Father Herman's call.

This party expected to find property of great value in Father Herman's call. But when they found nothing of value, an employee (of the American Company), Ponomarkhov, began to tear up the floor with an axe, undoubtedly with the consent of his seniors. Then Father Herman said to him, "My friend, you have lifted the axe in vain; this weapon shall deprive you of your life." Some time later people were needed at Fort Nicholas, and for that reason several Russian employees were sent there from Kodiak; among them was Ponomarkhov; there the natives of Kenai cut off his head while he slept.

THE TEMPTATIONS OF FATHER HERMAN Many great sorrows were borne by Father Herman from evil spirits. He himself revealed this to his disciple, Gerasim. Once when he entered Father Herman's cell without the usual prayer he received no answer from Father Herman to any of his questions. The next day Gerasim asked him the reason for his silence. On that occasion Father Herman said to him, "When I came to this island and settled in this hermitage the evil spirits approached me ostensibly to be helpful. They came in the form of a man, and in the form of animals. I suffered much from them; from various afflictions and temptations. And that is why I do not speak now to anyone who enters into my presence without prayer." (It is customary among devout laymen, as well as clergy, to say out loud a prayer, and upon hearing a response ending with Amen, to enter and go to the icon in the room to reverence it, and to say a prayer before greeting the host).

SUPERNATURAL GIFTS FROM GOD Herman dedicated himself fully for the Lord's service; he strove with zeal solely for the glorification of His Most Holy Name. Far from his homeland in the midst of a variety of afflictions and privations Father Herman spent several decades performing the noblest deeds of self-sacrifice. He was privileged to receive many supernatural gifts from God.

In the midst of Spruce Island down the hill flows a little stream into the sea. The mouth of this stream was always swept by surf. In the spring when the brook fish appeared the Elder raked away some of the sand at its mouth so that the fish could enter, and at their first appearance they rushed up the stream'. His disciple, lgnaty, said, "it was so that if 'Apa' would tell me, I would go and get fish in the streaml" Father Herman fed the birds with dried fish, and they would gather in great numbers around his call. Underneath his cell there lived an ermine. This little animal can not be approached when it has had its young, but the Elder fed it from his own hand. "Was not this a miracle that we had seen?" said his disciple, lgnaty. They also saw Father Herman feeding bears. But when Father Herman died the birds and animals left; even the garden would not give any sort of crops even though someone had willingly taken care of it, lgnaty insisted.

On Spruce Island there once occurred a flood. The inhabitants came to the Elder in great fear. Father Herman then took an icon of the Mother of God from the home where his students lived, and placed it on a "laida" ( a sandy bank) and began to pray. After his prayer he turned to those present and said, "Have no fear, the water will not go any higher than the place where this holy icon stands." The words of the Elder were fullfilled. After this he promised the same aid from this holy icon in the future through the intercessions of the Most Immaculate Queen. He entrusted the icon to his disciple, Sophia; in case of future floods the icon was to be placed on the "laida."

At the request of the Elder, Baron F. P. Wrangel wrote a letter to a Metropolitan - his name is not known - which was dictated by Father Herman. When the letter was completed and read, the Elder congratulated the Baron upon his attaining the rank of admiral. The Baron was taken aback. This was news to him. It was confirmed, but only after an elapse of some time and just before he departed for St. Petersburg.

Father Herman said to the administrator Kashevarov from whom he accepted his son from the font (during the Sacrament of Baptism), "I am sorry for you my dear 'kum.' It's a shame, the change will be unpleasant for you!" In two years during a change of administration Kashevarov was sent to Sitka in chains.

Once the forest on Spruce Island caught fire. The Elder with his disciple, Ignaty, in a thicket of the forest made a belt about a yard wide in which they turned over the moss. They extended it to the foot of the hill. The Elder said, "Rest assured, the fire will not pass this line." On the next day according to the testimony of lgnaty there was no hope for salvation (from the fire) and the fire, pushed by a strong wind, reached the place where the moss had been turned over by the Elder. The fire ran over the moss and halted, leaving untouched the thick forest which was beyond the line.

The Elder often said that there would be a bishop for America; this at a time when no one even thought of it, and there was no hope that there would be a bishop for America;this was related by the Bishop Peter and his prophecy was fulfilled in time.

"After my death," said Father Herman, "there will be an epidemic and many people shall die during it and the Russians shall unite the Aleuts." And so it happened; it seems that about a half a year after his passing there was a smallpox epidemic; the death rate in America during the epidemic was tremendous. In some villages only a few inhabitants remained alive. This led the administration of the colony to unite the Aleuts; the twelve settlements were consolidated into seven.

"Although a long time shall elapse after my death, I will not be forgotten," said Father Herman to his disciples. "My place of habitation will not remain empty. A monk like myself who will be escaping from the glory of men, will come and he will live on Spruce Island, and Spruce Island will not be without people."

(This prophecy has now been fulfilled in its entirety. Just such a monk as Father Herman described lived on Spruce Island for many years; his name was Archimandrite Gerasim, who died on October 13, 1969. This monk took on himself the responsibility of taking care of the Chapel under which at first was buried the Elder Herman. Metropolitan Leonty soon after his elevation to the primacy of the Russian Orthodox Church in America made a pilgrimage to Spruce Island, and the grave of Herman.)

HERMAN'S PROPHECIES FOR THE FUTURE The creole Constantine, when he was not more than twelve years old, was asked by Father Herman, "My beloved one, what do you think; this chapel which they are now building, will it ever stand empty?" The youngster answered, "I do not know, 'Apa." "And indeed," said Constantine, "I did not understand his question at that time, even though that whole conversation with the Elder remains vivid in my memory." The Elder remained silent for a short time, and then said, "My child remember, in time in this place there will be a monastery."

Father Herman said to his disciple the Aleut lgnaty Aiigyaga, "Thirty years shall pass after my death, and all those living on Spruce Island will have died, but you alone will remain alive. You will be old and poor when I will be remembered." And indeed after the death of Father Herman thirty years passed when they were reminded of him, and they began to gather information and facts about him; on the basis of which was written his life. "It is amazing," exclaims lgnaty, "how a man like us could know all this so long before it happened! However, no, he was no ordinary man! He knew our thoughts, and involuntarily he led us to the point where we revealed them to him, and we received counsel from him!"

"When I die," said the Elder to his disciples, "you will bury me alongside Father Joasaph. You will bury me by yourself, for you will not wait for the priest! Do not wash my body. Lay it on a board, clasp my hands over my chest, wrap me in my 'mantia' (the monk's outer cloak), and with its wings cover my face and place the 'kiobuk' on my head. (The 'klobuk' is the monastic head-dress.) If anyone wishes to bid farewell to me, let them kiss the Cross. Do not show my face to anyone . . ."

THE DEATH OF FATHER HERMAN The time of the Elder's passing had come. One day he ordered his disciple, Gerasim, to light a candle before the icons, and to read the Acts of the Holy Apostles. After some time his face glowed brightly and he said in a loud voice, "Glory to Thee, O Lord!" He then ordered the reading to be halted, and he announced that the Lord had willed that his life would now be spared for another week. A week later again by his orders the candies were lit, and the Acts of the Holy Apostles were read. Quietly the Elder bowed his head on the chest of Gerasim; the cell was filled with a pleasant smelling odor; and his face glowed, and Father Herman was no more! Thus in blessedness he died, he passed away in the sleep of a righteous man in the 81st year of his life of great labor, the 25th day of December, 1837. (According to the Julian Calendar, the 13th of December 1837, although there are some records which state he died on the 28th of November, and was buried on the 26th of December).

Those sent with the sad news to the harbor returned to announce that the administrator of the colony Kashevarov had forbidden the burial of the Elder until his own arrival. He also ordered that a finer coffin be made for Father Herman, and that he would come as soon as possible and would bring a priest with him. But then a great wind came up, a rain fell, and a terrible storm broke. The distance from the Harbor to Spruce Island is not great - about a two hour journey - but no one would agree to go to sea in such weather. Thus it continued for a full month and although the body lay in state for a full month in the warm house of his students, his face did not undergo any change at all, and not the slightest odor emanated from his body. Finally through the efforts of Kuzma Uchilischev, a coffin was obtained. No one arrived from the Harbor, and the inhabitants of Spruce Island alone buried in the ground the remains of the Elder. Thus the words which Herman uttered before his death were fulfilled. After this the wind quieted down, and the surface of the sea became as smooth as a mirror.

One evening from the village Katani (on Afognak) was seen above Spruce Island an unusual pillar of light which reached up to heaven. Astonished by the miraculous appearance, experienced elders and the creole Gerasim Vologdin and his wife, Anna, said, "it seems that Father Herman has left us," and they began to pray. After a time, they were informed that the Elder had indeed passed away that very night. This same pillar was seen in various places by others. The night of his death in another of the settlements on Afognak was seen a vision; it seemed as though a man was rising from Spruce Island into the clouds.

The disciples buried their father, and placed above his grave a wooden memorial marker. The priest on Kodiak, Peter Kashevarov, says, "I saw it myself, and I can say that today it seems as though it had never been touched by time; as though it had been cut this day."

Having witnessed the life of Father Herman glorified by his zealous labors, having seen his miracles, and the ful- fillment of his predictions, finally having observed his blessed falling-asleep, "in general all the local inhabitants" witnesses Bishop Peter, "have the highest esteem for him, as though he was a holy ascetic, anti are fully convinced thdt he has found favor in the presence of God."

In 1842, five years after the passing away of the Elder, Innocent, Archbishop of Kamchatka and the Aleutians, was near Kodiak on a sailing vessel which was in great distress. He looked to Spruce Island, and said to himself, "if you, Father Herman, have found favor in God's presence then may the wind change!" It seems as though not more than fifteen minutes had passed, said the Bishop, when the wind became favorable, and he successfully reached the shore. In thanksgiving for his salvation, Archbishop Innocent himself conducted a Memorial Service over the grave of the Blessed Elder Herman.

In 1970, the Orthodox Church in America glorified the monk Herman as the Venerable Herman of Alaska, Wonderworker of All America.

http://www.oca.org/FS.NA-Saint.asp?SID=4&Saint=Herman
« Last Edit: December 19, 2007, 03:34:00 AM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
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« Reply #42 on: December 19, 2007, 03:53:15 AM »

St Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers



Commemorated on January 13

The Holy Hierarch Hilary was born of pagan parents in Gaul, and was trained in philosophy and rhetoric. At a time when paganism was still strong in Gaul, St Hilary understood the falsehood of polytheism, and became a Christian, and a great defender of his new Faith. About the year 350 AD, he was ordained Bishop of Poitiers, when Aries and Milan were in the hands of the Arians and the Arian Constantius was sole Emperor. Like his contemporary St Athanasius, St Hilary's Episcopate was one long struggle against the Arians. As Bishop of Poitiers, St Hilary foresaw the future greatness of Martin, and attached him to himself. In 355 AD, when required to agree to the condemnation of St Athanasius passed by the Synod of Milan, Hilary wrote an epistle to Constantius convicting the wrongs done by the Arians and requesting, among other things, the restoration of the Orthodox Bishops, including Athanasius. For this, Hilary was banished to Asia Minor, where he wrote his greatest work, On the Trinity. St Hilary returned to his See in 360 AD, where St Martin sought him out again. It was at this time that St Hilary blessed Martin to found a monastery near Poitiers, where Martin remained until being consecrated Bishop of Tours in 371 AD. In his last years, St Hilary strove for the deposition of Auxentius, the Arian Bishop of Milan, but by affecting an Orthodox confession Auxentius retained his See. St Hilary reposed in peace about the year 368 AD. Auxentius died in 374 AD and was succeeded by St Ambrose, who continued St Hilary's battle against Arianism.


Dismissal Hymn of St Hilary

Guide of Orthodoxy, teacher of piety and holiness, luminary of the world, God-inspired adornment of Hierarchs, O wise Hilary, by thy teachings thou hast enlightened all, O harp of the Spirit. Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.


Kontakion of St Hilary
As first fruits of our nature

Enduring exile for the Faith delivered to the Church of Christ, you withstood the deceit of the Arians, O holy Hierarch Hilary. By your prayers and your teachings, O defender of Orthodoxy and right belief, convert the Western lands and entreat Christ for us, who honour you.

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« Reply #43 on: December 19, 2007, 03:59:29 AM »

St Martin the Merciful, Bishop of Tours



Commemorated on November 11

Saint Martin the Merciful, Bishop of Tours, was born at Sabaria in Pannonia (modern Hungary) in 316. Since his father was a Roman officer, he also was obliged to serve in the army. Martin did so unwillingly, for he considered himself a soldier of Christ, though he was still a catechumen.

At the gates of Amiens, he saw a beggar shivering in the severe winter cold, so he cut his cloak in two and gave half to the beggar. That night, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to the saint wearing Martin's cloak. He heard the Savior say to the angels surrounding Him, "Martin is only a catechumen, but he has clothed Me with this garment." The saint was baptized soon after this, and reluctantly remained in the army.

Two years later, the barbarians invaded Gaul and Martin asked permission to resign his commission for religious reasons. The commander charged him with cowardice. St Martin demonstrated his courage by offering to stand unarmed in the front line of battle, trusting in the power of the Cross to protect him. The next day, the barbarians surrendered without a fight, and Martin was allowed to leave the army.

He traveled to various places during the next few years, spending some time as a hermit on an island off Italy. He became friendly with St Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers (January 14), who made Matrin an exorcist. After several years of the ascetic life, St Martin was chosen to be Bishop of Tours in 371. As bishop, St Martin did not give up his monastic life, and the place where he settled outside Tours became a monastery. In fact, he is regarded as the founder of monasticism in France. He conversed with angels, and had visions of Sts Peter and Paul (June 29) and of other saints. He is called the Merciful because of his generosity and care for the poor, and he received the grace to work miracles.

After a life of devoted service to Christ and His Church, the saint fell ill at Candes, a village in his diocese, where he died on November 8, 397. He was buried three days later (his present Feast) at Tours. During the Middle Ages, many Western churches were dedicated to St Martin, including St Martin's in Canterbury, and St Martin-in-the-Fields in London.

In 1008, a cathedral was built at Tours over the relics of St Martin. This cathedral was destroyed in 1793 during the French Revolution, together with the relics of St Martin and St Gregory of Tours (November 17). A new cathedral was built on the site many years later. Some fragments of the relics of St Martin were recovered and placed in the cathedral, but nothing remains of St Gregory's relics.

St Martin's name appears on many Greek and Russian calendars. His commemoration on October 12 in the Russian calendar appears to be an error, since ancient sources give the November date.


Troparion - Tone 4

In signs and in miracles you were renowned throughout Gaul.
By grace and adoption you are a light for the world, O Martin,
blessed of God.
Almsdeeds and compassion filled your life with their splendors,
Teaching and wise counsel were your riches and treasures,
Which you dispense freely to those who honor you.


Kontakion - Tone 8

As a devoted man of God, you proclaimed His mysteries,
And as a seer of the Trinity, you shed your blessings on the Occident.
By your prayers and entreaties, O adornment of Tours and glory of all the Church,
Preserve us, O Saint Martin, and save all who praise your memory.

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« Reply #44 on: December 19, 2007, 04:06:28 AM »

Venerable Genevieve of Paris



Commemorated on January 3

Saint Genevieve was born of wealthy parents in Gaul (modern France) in the village of Nanterre, near Paris, around 422. Her father's name was Severus, and her mother was called Gerontia. According to the custom of the time, she often tended her father's flocks on Mt. Valerien.

When she was about seven years old, St Germanus of Auxerre (July 31) noticed her as he was passing through Nanterre. The bishop kissed her on the head and told her parents that she would become great in the sight of God, and would lead many to salvation. After Genevieve told him that she wished to dedicate herself to Christ, he gave her a brass medal with the image of the Cross upon it. She promised to wear it around her neck, and to avoid wearing any other ornaments around her neck or on her fingers.

When it was reported that Attila the Hun was approaching Paris, Genevieve and the other nuns prayed and fasted, entreating God to spare the city. Suddenly, the barbarians turned away from Paris and went off in another direction.

Years later, when she was fifteen, Genevieve was taken to Paris to enter the monastic life. Through fasting, vigil and prayer, she progressed in monasticism, and received from God the gifts of clairvoyance and of working miracles. Gradually, the people of Paris and the surrounding area regarded Genevieve as a holy vessel (2 Tim. 2:21).

St Genevieve considered the Saturday night Vigil service to be very important, since it symbolizes how our whole life should be. "We must keep vigil in prayer and fasting so that the Lord will find us ready when He comes," she said. She was on her way to church with her nuns one stormy Saturday night when the wind blew out her lantern. The nuns could not find their way without a light, since it was dark and stormy, and the road was rough and muddy. St Genevieve made the Sign of the Cross over the lantern, and the candle within was lit with a bright flame. In this manner they were able to make their way to the church for the service.

There is a tradition that the church which St Genevieve suggested that King Clovis build in honor of Sts Peter and Paul became her own resting place when she fell asleep in the Lord around 512 at the age of eighty-nine. Her holy relics were later transferred to the church of St Etienne du Mont in Paris. Most of her relics, and those of other saints, were destroyed during the French Revolution.

In the Middle Ages, St Genevieve was regarded as the patron saint of wine makers.

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