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Lives of the Saints - an Information Only Thread

Athanasios

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Saint Rigobert - January 4

Benedictine archbishop, also known as Robert of Reims. After serving for a time as abbot of Orbais, he was appointed archbishop of Reims, France. As a result of a dispute with Charles Martel, the powerful Frankish mayor of the palace, he was banished and the see was bestowed upon the prelate Muon. When the matter was resolved and Rigobert returned to Reims, he chose not to pursue his rightful claim to the see and instead became a hermit. Rigobert was long venerated as a model of patience and was credited with many miracles.
 

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Martyrs Theopemptos and Theonas
(commemorated January 5)

When the persecution of Diocletian broke out in 290, Saint Theopemptus, a bishop, was taken for his confession of Christ, and convicted Diocletian to his face for his error and ungodliness. remaining unhurt after cruel, tortures, he was given poison to drink, which had been prepared by a sorcerer named Theonas. Protected by divine grace from this also, he drew Theonas to Christ, and after other torments, was beheaded. Saint Theonas was cast into a pit and buried alive.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
As a righteous priest of the ineffable mysteries and a godly minister of grace, in the contest of martyrdom thou didst initiate the glorious Theonas into the God-inspired Faith, O Theopemptus. And together with him, thou didst cry out in the stadium: Christ is the strength of the Martyrs.

http://www.goarch.org/en/chapel/saints.asp?contentid=372
 

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Saint Syncletica - January 5

She was born at Alexandria in Egypt, of wealthy Macedonian parents. From her infancy she had imbibed the lore of virtue, and in her tender years she consecrated her virginity to God. Her great fortune and beauty induced many young noblemen to become her suitors for marriage, but she had already bestowed her heart on her heavenly spouse. Flight was her refuge against exterior assaults, and, regarding herself as her own most dangerous enemy, she began early to subdue her flesh by austere fasts and other mortifications. She never seemed to suffer more than when obliged to eat oftener than she desired. Her parents, at their death, left her heiress to their opulent estate; for the two brothers she had died before them; and her sister being blind, was committed entirely to her guardianship. Syncletica, having soon distributed her fortune among the poor, retired with her sister into a lonesome monument, on a relation's estate; where, having sent for a priest, she cut off her hair in his presence, as a sign whereby she renounced the world, and renewed the consecration of herself to God. Mortification and prayer were from that time her principal employment; but her close solitude, by concealing her pious exercises from the eyes of the world, has deprived us in a great measure of the knowledge of them.    The fame of her virtue being spread abroad, many women resorted to her abode to confer with her upon spiritual matters. Her humility made her unwilling to take upon herself the task of instructing, but charity, on the other side, opened her mouth. Her pious discourses were inflamed with so much zeal, and accompanied with such an unfeigned humility, and with so many tears, that it cannot be expressed what deep impressions they made on her hearers. "Oh" said the saint, "how happy should we be, did we but take as much pains to gain heaven and please God, as worldlings do to heap up riches and perishable goods! By land they venture among thieves and robbers; at sea they expose themselves to the fury of winds and storms; they suffer shipwrecks, and all perils; they attempt all, try all, hazard all but we, in serving so great a master, for so immense a good, are afraid of every contradiction." At other times, admonishing them of the dangers of this life, she was accusoned to say, "We must be continually upon our guard, for we are engaged in a perpetual war; unless we take care, the enemy will surprise us, when we are least aware of him. A ship sometimes passes safe through hurricanes and tempests, yet, if the pilot, even in a calm, has not a great care of it, a single wave, raised by a sudden gust, may sink her. It does not signify whether the enemy clambers in by the window, or whether all at once he shakes the foundation, if at last he destroys the house. In this life we sail, as it were, in an unknown sea. We meet with rocks, shelves, and sands; sometimes we are becalmed, and at other times we find ourselves tossed and buffeted by a storm. Thus we are never secure, never out of danger; and, if we fall asleep, are sure to perish. We have a most intelligent and experienced pilot at the helm of our vessel even Jesus Christ himself, who will conduct us safe into the haven of salvation if, by our supineness, we cause not our own perdition." She frequently inculcated the virtue of humility, in the following words: "A treasure is secure so long as it remains concealed; but when once disclosed, and laid open to every bold invader, it is presently rifled; so virtue is safe so long as secret, but, if rashly exposed, it but too often evaporates into smoke. By humility, and contempt of the world, the soul, like an eagle, soars on high, above all transitory things, and tramples on the backs of lions and dragons. By these, and the like discourses, did this devout virgin excite others to charity, humility, vigilance, and every other virtue.    The devil, enraged to behold so much good, which all his machinations were not capable to prevent, obtained permission of God, for her trial, to afflict this his faithful servant, like another Job: but even this served only to render her virtue the more illustrious. In the eightieth year of her age she was seized with an inward burning fever, which wasted her insensibly by its intense heat; at the same time an imposthume was formed in her lungs; and a violent and most tormenting scurvy, attended with a corroding hideous stinking ulcer, ate away her jaws and mouth, and deprived her of her speech. She bore all with incredible patience and resignation to God's holy will; and with such a desire of an addition to her sufferings, that she greatly dreaded the physicians would alleviate her pains. It was with difficulty that she permitted them to pare away or embalm the parts already dead. During the three last months of her life, she found no repose. Though the cancer had robbed her of her speech, her wonderful patience served to preach to others more movingly than words could have done. Three days before her death she foresaw, that on the third day she should be released from the prison of her body; and on it, surrounded by a heavenly light, and ravished by consolatory visions, she surrendered her pure soul into the hands of her Creator, in the eighty-fourth year of her age. The Greeks keep her festival on the 4th, the Roman Martyrology mentions her on the 5th of January.
 

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Righteous Syncletiki of Alexandria
(commemorated Jan 5)

Saint Syncletike was from Alexandria in Egypt. She lived eighty-three years in virginity and asceticism, and became the leader and teacher of many nuns. What Saint Anthony the Great was to men, she became to women: a model of mortification of the flesh, of patience in afflictions, and of wise instruction; for this, she is known a "Amma," a title corresponding to "Abba." Towards the end of her long life, she was stricken with an exceedingly painful disease, which she endured with faith and magnanimity. She reposed in the middle of the fourth century. It is said of Saint Syncletike that she was the virgin who hid Saint Athanasius from the Arians for more than a year in the environs of Alexandria, and it is to Saint Athanasius that her life is ascribed (PG 18:1488-1557).

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
In thee the image was preserved with exactness, O Mother; for taking up thy cross, thou didst follow Christ, and by thy deeds thou didst teach us to overlook the flesh, for it passeth away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal. Wherefore, O righteous Syncletiki, thy spirit rejoiceth with the Angels.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
O divine Syncletike, our righteous God-bearing Mother, thou didst shine forth as a lamp bright with unquenchable virtues, laying bare the dark devices of the deceiver; and thy light guided a multitude of wise virgins to the heav'nly bridal chambers; together with them, pray that we all may be saved.

http://www.goarch.org/en/chapel/saints.asp?contentid=373
 

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St. Oswald

Commemorated on August 5

Saint Oswald was born around 605, the second of the seven sons of the Anglo-Saxon king Aethelfrith, who was the first ruler to unite the provinces of Bernicia and Deira into the kingdom of Northumbria.

King Edwin of Deira refused to accept the Bernician control of both provinces, so he attempted a coup while Aethelfrith was away in the north. Edwin was defeated and driven into exile. When Aethelfrith was killed later, Edwin became King of Northumbria.

Oswald's mother Acha (Edwin's sister) fled to Ireland (then called Scotland) with her children. It is believed that during his seventeen years of exile, St Oswald received Christian baptism at Iona and also learned the Gaelic language.

Edwin was killed in 633 while fighting King Penda of Mercia and King Caedwalla of Cwynedd (North Wales). Eanfrith, Oswald's older brother, returned to paganism and was killed in battle against Caedwalla. Now Oswald had to lead the struggle against the Britons.

In 634 Oswald assembled an army and prepared to meet the forces of Penda and Caedwalla at Heavenfield (Hefenfelth) near the Roman Wall seven miles north of Hexham. On the eve of the battle, St Oswald set up a great wooden cross on the field. With his own hands, the king steadied the cross while his men filled in the hole which had been dug to receive it. Although only a few of his men were Christians, Oswald ordered the army to kneel and pray to the true and living God to grant them victory.

"Let us now kneel down and pray to the omnipotent and only true God, that He will mercifully defend us from our proud enemy," he told them, "for He knows that we fight in a just war in defense of our lives and our country."

A modern replica of this cross now stands on the site, near the church of St Oswald.

The night before the battle, King Oswald had a vision of St Columba of Iona (June 9), who stretched his cloak over the sleeping soldiers and promised that the Saxon army would defeat Caedwalla the next day. Following the battle, Oswald established his supremacy in Northumbria and his right to the title of Bretwalda (High King of England). He was godfather to King Cynegils of Wessex at his baptism, and married his daughter of in 635. By 637, Oswald's authority was recognized by almost everyone.

For the next five years Britain was blessed with a rare period of stability. While governing his earthly realm, St Oswald also labored to attain a heavenly crown and to bring his people into the Kingdom of God. Turning to the Celtic monks of Iona, rather than the Roman clergy at Canterbury, Oswald invited missionaries to proclaim the Gospel to his subjects. The first bishop sent to lead the mission proved unsuitable, for he alienated many people by his harshness. The bishop was recalled, and an ideal candidate was found to replace him.

St Aidan (August 31) was consecrated bishop and sent to Northumbria to take charge of the mission. King Oswald gave him the island of Lindisfarne near the royal residence of Bamburg for his episcopal see. St Aidan also founded the famous monastery on Lindisfarne.

Since Bishop Aidan was not yet fluent in the Anglo-Saxon tongue, St Oswald would accompany him on his missionary journeys. The king translated the bishop's words and explained the Word of God to his subjects, playing an active role in the evangelization of his kingdom. People flocked to receive baptism, drawn partly by Aidan's preaching, and partly by King Oswald's example of godliness and virtue.

St Oswald was a devout and sincere Christian who was often seen sitting with his hands resting palms upwards on his knees in a gesture of prayer. He granted land and money for the establishment of monasteries, and he was famous for his generosity to the poor.

One year, after attending the services of Pascha, King Oswald sat down to a meal with Bishop Aidan. Just as the bishop was about to bless the food, a servant came in and informed the king that a great number of needy folk were outside begging for alms. The king ordered that his own food be served to the poor on silver platters, and that the silver serving dishes be broken up and distributed to them.There is a charming illustration of this incident in the thirteenth century Berthold Missal in New York's Pierpont Morgan Library (Morgan MS 710, fol. 101v). Aidan, deeply moved by St Oswald's charity, took him by the right hand and said, "May this hand never perish." According to tradition, St Oswald's hand remained incorrupt for centuries after his death. St Bede (May 27) says that the hand was kept in the church of St Peter at Bamburgh, where it was venerated by all. The present location of the hand, if it still survives, is not known.

St Oswald was killed in battle against the superior forces of King Penda on August 5, 642 at a place called Maserfield. He was only thirty-eight years old. Before his death, St Oswald prayed for the souls of his soldiers.This has become almost proverbial: "'O God, be merciful to their souls,' said Oswald when he fell."

Some identify the battle site with Oswestry (Oswald's tree, or cross) in Shropshire, but this seems an unlikely place for a battle between Mercians and Northumbrians. Others believe that Lichfield is the probable site. Lichfield means "field of the body," and was founded by Oswald's brother Oswy. The city was an archbishopric for seventeen years under Offa, who had a particular veneration for St Oswald.

Following the Battle of Maserfield, St Oswald's body was dismembered, and his head and arms were displayed on poles. Many miraculous healings took place at the site of the battle. This is not surprising, for during his lifetime St Oswald always helped the sick and the needy. Pilgrims took earth from the place where St Oswald fell, and many sick people were healed by mixing some of the dust with water and drinking it.

A year after his death, St Oswald's arms were brought to Bamburgh by Oswy, and his head was brought to Lindisfarne. There the grief-stricken Bishop Aidan interred it in the monastery church.

According to William of Malmesbury (twelfth century), St Oswald is the first English saint whose relics worked miracles. Portions of his relics were distributed to several churches in England in in Europe. Today St Oswald's head is in Durham Cathedral in St Cuthbert's coffin, but the rest of his relics seem to have been lost.

In December of 1069 a clergyman named Earnan had a vision of Sts Cuthbert (March 20) and Oswald. He described the king as being clad in a scarlet cloak, tall in stature, with a thin beard and boyish face. This is recorded by the historian Simeon of Durham.

In the Middle Ages, devotion to St Oswald spread from Britain to Spain, Italy, and Germany. Unfortunately, the fame of this most Christian king is somewhat obscured today, and his popularity diminished after the Norman Conquest in 1066. Before that, the Danish invaders destroyed many Anglo-Saxon political and legal institutions, as well as written records and oral traditions which had been preserved in the monasteries.

Though King Alfred the Great and even William the Conquerer were anxious to link themselves with St Oswald, the kings who reigned after the Conquest were less inclined to associate themselves to St Oswald's reputation as king. For three centuries the Norman kings of England spoke French, which became the language of the court, and they showed little interest in English history.

There were significant changes to the monastic culture after the Conquest as well. A number of monks were brought over from France, and they began to populate the English monasteries. By this time the English Church had become more solidly allied with Rome, and the old Celtic traditions began to disappear.

St Oswald deserves to be better known, but he has not been completely forgotten. There are over sixty churches dedicated to him in England, and his name is also associated with several place names and holy wells.

St Oswald is also commemorated on June 20 (the Transfer of his Relics).

From OCA.org
 

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Saint Athelm - January 8

Archbishop of Canterbury and uncle of St. Dunstan. A Benedictine, Atheim served as a monk at Glastonbury, England, becoming abbot of the famous monastery. In 909, Athelm was named the first bishop of Wells. He became the archbishop of Canterbury in 914.
 

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Saint Julian and Companions - January 9

Martyr with Anastasius, Anthony, Basilissa, Celsus, Marcionilla, and companions. Julian and Basilissa were married and used their home as a Christian hospital for the poor. Anthony was a priest, and Anastasius was a new convert. Marcionilla was the mother of young Celsus.They were martyred at Antioch.
 

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Saint Marcian - January 10

Confessor and hymnist of Constantinople. He was a member of a Roman family of Constantinople, related to Emperor Theodosius II. Ordained in 455, he was so ascetical that he was wrongly accused of Novatianism. Marcian was the treasurer of Hagia Sophia, was appointed Oikonomos - second only to the patriarch and restored several churches. He is also believed to have composed hymns and was a famous miracle worker.
 

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Saint Nicanor - January 10

Early martyr and one of the seven deacons of Jerusalem. A resident of Jerusalem, he was chosen by the Apostles to minister to the needs of those requiring assistance in the Holy City. According to tradition, he went to Cyprus where he was put to death during the reign of Emperor Vespasian, although this is now believed unlikely.
 

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Saint Peter Urseolus - January 10

Benedictine hermit. Also called Peter Orseolo, he was a member of one of the most noble houses of Venice and, at the age of twenty, became an admiral in the Venetian Navy. After a series of successful campaigns against the Dalmatian pirates, he was elected Doge of Venice in 967, supposedly securing his elevation by poisoning his predecessor Peter Candiani IV, as was charged by St. Peter Damian. For two years Peter ruled with consummate skill, assisting Venice to weather a series of political crises. Then, without any warning and without informing his family, he disappeared from Venice and secretly entered the Benedictine abbey of Cuxa, in the Spanish Pyrenees. There he devoted himself to a life of severe austerity and asceticism, working as a humble sacrist until St. Romuald suggested that he become a hermit. He lived alone until his death.
 

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Saint Theodosius the Cenobiarch - January 11

Abbot and founder. Born at Garissus, Cappadocia (modern Turkey), in 423, he undertook a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and after meeting with the famed St. Simeon Stylites, he entered a monastery. Later, he was named the head of a church between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, but departed to live as a hermit near the Dead Sea. As he attracted a large number of followers, Theodosius established a monastery which was divided among the various nationalities of the monks (Greek, Armenian, etc.), each with their own church. Appointed by the patriarch of Jerusalem to the post of visitor to all the cenobitical communities of Palestine, he used his influence as cenobiarch to oppose the spread of the heretical doctrines of Eutychianism, displaying such zeal in his preaching that Emperor Anastasius I (r. 491-518), who was sympathetic to the Eutychians, exiled him. Recalled by Emperor Justin soon after Anastasius' death, Theodosius spent his last years in poor health.
 

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Pope Saint Hyginus - January 11

Reigned about 138-142; succeeded Pope Telesphorus, who, according to Eusebius (Hist. eccl., IV, xv), died during the first year of the reign of the Emperor Antonius Pius -- in 138 or 139, therefore. But the chronology of these bishops of Rome cannot be determined with any degree of exactitude by the help of the authorities at our disposal today. According to the "Liber Pontificalis", Hyginus was a Greek by birth. The further statement that he was previously a philosopher is probably founded on the similarity of his name with that of two Latin authors. Irenaeus says (Adv. haereses, III, iii) that the Gnostic Valentine came to Rome in Hyginus's time, remaining there until Anicetus became pontiff. Cerdo, another Gnostic and predecessor of Marcion, also lived at Rome in the reign of Hyginus; by confessing his errors and recanting he succeeded in obtaining readmission into the bosom of the Church, but eventually he fell back into the heresies and was expelled from the Church. How many of these events took place during the time of Hyginus is not known. The "Liber Pontificalis" also relates that this pope organized the hierachy and established the order of ecclesiastical precedence (Hic clerum composuit et distribuit gradus). This general observation recurs also in the biography of Pope Hormisdas; it has no historical value, and according to Duchesne, the writer probably referred to the lower orders of the clergy. Eusebius (Hist. eccl. IV, xvi) claims that Hyginus's pontificate lasted four years. The ancient authorities contain no information as to his having died a martyr. At his death he was buried on the Vatican Hill, near the tomb of St. Peter. His feast is celebrated on 11 January.
 

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Myrrh-Bearer and Equal to the Apostles Mary Magdalene

Commemorated on July 22

The Holy Myrrh-Bearer Equal of the Apostles Mary Magdalene. On the banks of Lake Genesareth (Galilee), between the cities of Capharnum and Tiberias, was the small city of Magdala, the remains of which have survived to our day. Now only the small village of Mejhdel stands on the site.

A woman whose name has entered forever into the Gospel account was born and grew up in Magdala. The Gospel tells us nothing of Mary's younger years, but Tradition informs us that Mary of Magdala was young and pretty, and led a sinful life. It says in the Gospels that the Lord expelled seven devils from Mary (Luke. 8:2). From the moment of her healing Mary led a new life, and became a true disciple of the Savior.

The Gospel relates that Mary followed after the Lord, when He went with the Apostles through the cities and villages of Judea and Galilee preaching about the Kingdom of God. Together with the pious women Joanna, wife of Choza (steward of Herod), Susanna and others, she served Him from her own possessions (Luke 8:1-3) and undoubtedly shared with the Apostles the evangelic tasks in common with the other women. The Evangelist Luke, evidently, has her in view together with the other women, stating that at the moment of the Procession of Christ onto Golgotha, when after the Scourging He took on Himself the heavy Cross, collapsing under its weight, the women followed after Him weeping and wailing, but He consoled them. The Gospel relates that Mary Magdalene was present on Golgotha at the moment of the Lord's Crucifixion. While all the disciples of the Savior ran away, she remained fearlessly at the Cross together with the Mother of God and the Apostle John.

The Evangelists also list among those standing at the Cross the mother of the Apostle James, and Salome, and other women followers of the Lord from Galilee, but all mention Mary Magdalene first. St John, in addition to the Mother of God, names only her and Mary Cleopas. This indicates how much she stood out from all the women who gathered around the Lord.

She was faithful to Him not only in the days of His Glory, but also at the moment of His extreme humiliation and insult. As the Evangelist Matthew relates, she was present at the Burial of the Lord. Before her eyes Joseph and Nicodemus went out to the tomb with His lifeless Body. She watched as they covered over the entrance to the cave with a large stone, entombing the Source of Life.

Faithful to the Law in which she was raised, Mary together with the other women spent following day at rest, because it was the great day of the Sabbath, coinciding with the Feast of Passover. But all the rest of the peaceful day the women gathered spices to go to the Grave of the Lord at dawn on Sunday and anoint His Body according to the custom of the Jews.

It is necessary to mention that, having agreed to go on the first day of the week to the Tomb early in the morning, the holy women had no possibility of meeting with one another on Saturday. They went separately on Friday evening to their own homes. They went out only at dawn the following day to go to the Sepulchre, not all together, but each from her own house.

The Evangelist Matthew writes that the women came to the grave at dawn, or as the Evangelist Mark expresses, extremely early before the rising of the sun. The Evangelist John, elaborating upon these, says that Mary came to the grave so early that it was still dark. Obviously, she waited impatiently for the end of night, but it was not yet daybreak. She ran to the place where the Lord's Body lay.

Mary went to the tomb alone. Seeing the stone pushed away from the cave, she ran away in fear to tell the close Apostles of Christ, Peter and John. Hearing the strange message that the Lord was gone from the tomb, both Apostles ran to the tomb and, seeing the shroud and winding cloths, they were amazed. The Apostles went and said nothing to anyone, but Mary stood about the entrance to the tomb and wept. Here in this dark tomb so recently lay her lifeless Lord.

Wanting proof that the tomb really was empty, she went down to it and saw a strange sight. She saw two angels in white garments, one sitting at the head, the other at the foot, where the Body of Jesus had been placed. They asked her, "Woman, why weepest thou?" She answered them with the words which she had said to the Apostles, "They have taken my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." At that moment, she turned around and saw the Risen Jesus standing near the grave, but she did not recognize Him.

He asked Mary, "Woman, why weepest thou? Whom dost thou seek?" She answered thinking that she was seeing the gardener, "Sir, if thou hast taken him, tell where thou hast put Him, and I will take Him away."

Then she recognized the Lord's voice. This was the voice she heard in those days and years, when she followed the Lord through all the cities and places where He preached. He spoke her name, and she gave a joyful shout, "Rabbi" (Teacher).

Respect and love, fondness and deep veneration, a feeling of thankfulness and recognition at His Splendor as great Teacher, all came together in this single outcry. She was able to say nothing more and she threw herself down at the feet of her Teacher to wash them with tears of joy. But the Lord said to her: "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and tell them: "I ascend to My Father, and your Father; to My God and to your God."

She came to herself and again ran to the Apostles, to do the will of Him sending her to preach. Again she ran into the house, where the Apostles still remained in dismay, and proclaimed to them the joyous message, "I have seen the Lord!" This was the first preaching in the world about the Resurrection.

The Apostles proclaimed the Glad Tidings to the world, but she proclaimed it to the Apostles themselves.

Holy Scripture does not tell us about the life of Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection of Christ, but it is impossible to doubt, that if in the terrifying minutes of Christ's Crucifixion she was the foot of His Cross with His All-Pure Mother and St John, she must have stayed with them during the happier time after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. Thus in the Acts of the Apostles St Luke writes that all the Apostles with one mind stayed in prayer and supplication, with certain women and Mary the Mother of Jesus and His brethren.

Holy Tradition testifies that when the Apostles departed from Jerusalem to preach to all the ends of the earth, then Mary Magdalene also went with them. A daring woman, whose heart was full of reminiscence of the Resurrection, she went beyond her native borders and went to preach in pagan Rome. Everywhere she proclaimed to people about Christ and His teaching. When many did not believe that Christ is risen, she repeated to them what she had said to the Apostles on the radiant morning of the Resurrection: "I have seen the Lord!" With this message she went all over Italy.

Tradition relates that in Italy Mary Magdalene visited Emperor Tiberias (14-37 A.D.) and proclaimed to him Christ's Resurrection. According to Tradition, she took him a red egg as a symbol of the Resurrection, a symbol of new life with the words: "Christ is Risen!" Then she told the emperor that in his Province of Judea the unjustly condemned Jesus the Galilean, a holy man, a miracleworker, powerful before God and all mankind, had been executed at the instigation of the Jewish High Priests, and the sentence confirmed by the procurator appointed by Tiberias, Pontius Pilate.

Mary repeated the words of the Apostles, that we are redeemed from the vanity of life is not with perishable silver or gold, but rather by the precious Blood of Christ.

Thanks to Mary Magdalene the custom to give each other paschal eggs on the day of the Radiant Resurrection of Christ spread among Christians over all the world. On one ancient Greek manuscript, written on parchment, kept in the monastery library of St Athanasius near Thessalonica, is a prayer read on the day of Holy Pascha for the blessing of eggs and cheese. In it is indicated that the igumen in passing out the blessed eggs says to the brethren: "Thus have we received from the holy Fathers, who preserved this custom from the very time of the holy Apostles, therefore the holy Equal of the Apostles Mary Magdalene first showed believers the example of this joyful offering."

Mary Magdalene continued her preaching in Italy and in the city of Rome itself. Evidently, the Apostle Paul has her in mind in his Epistle to the Romans (16: 6), where together with other ascetics of evangelic preaching he mentions Mary (Mariam), who as he expresses "has bestowed much labor on us." Evidently, she extensively served the Church in its means of subsistence and its difficulties, being exposed to dangers, and sharing with the Apostles the labors of preaching.

According to Church Tradition, she remained in Rome until the arrival of the Apostle Paul, and for two more years following his departure from Rome after the first court judgment upon him. From Rome, St Mary Magdalene, already bent with age, moved to Ephesus where the holy Apostle John unceasingly labored. There the saint finished her earthly life and was buried.

Her holy relics were transferred in the ninth century to Constantinople, and placed in the monastery Church of St Lazarus. In the era of the Crusader campaigns they were transferred to Italy and placed at Rome under the altar of the Lateran Cathedral. Part of the relics of Mary Magdalene are said to be in Provage, France near Marseilles, where over them at the foot of a steep mountain a splendid church is built in her honor.

The Orthodox Church honors the holy memory of St Mary Magdalene, the woman called by the Lord Himself from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.

Formerly immersed in sin and having received healing, she sincerely and irrevocably began a new life and never wavered from that path. Mary loved the Lord Who called her to a new life. She was faithful to Him not only when He was surrounded by enthusiastic crowds and winning recognition as a miracle-worker, but also when all the disciples deserted Him in fear and He, humiliated and crucified, hung in torment upon the Cross. This is why the Lord, knowing her faithfulness, appeared to her first, and esteemed her worthy to be first to proclaim His Resurrection.

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St. Nicholas, Archbishop of Japan

Commemorated on February 3

Saint Nicholas, Enlightener of Japan Ivan Dimitrievich Kasatkin was born on August 1, 1836 in the village of Berezovsk, Belsk district, Smolensk diocese, where his father served as deacon. At the age of five he lost his mother. He completed the Belsk religious school, and afterwards the Smolensk Theological Seminary. In 1857 Ivan Kasatkin entered the Saint Peterburg Theological Academy. On June 24, 1860, in the academy temple of the Twelve Apostles, Bishop Nectarius tonsured him with the name Nicholas.

On June 29, the Feast of the foremost Apostles Peter and Paul, the monk Nicholas was ordained deacon. The next day, on the altar feast of the academy church, he was ordained to the holy priesthood. Later, at his request, Father Nicholas was assigned to Japan as head of the consular church in the city of Hakodate.

At first, the preaching of the Gospel in Japan seemed completely impossible. In Father Nicholas's own words: "the Japanese of the time looked upon foreigners as beasts, and on Christianity as a villainous sect, to which only villains and sorcerers could belong." He spent eight years in studying the country, the language, manners and customs of the people among whom he would preach.

In 1868, the flock of Father Nicholas numbered about twenty Japanese. At the end of 1869 Hieromonk Nicholas reported in person to the Synod in Peterburg about his work. A decision was made, on January 14, 1870, to form a special Russian Spiritual Mission for preaching the Word of God among the pagan Japanese. Father Nicholas was elevated to the rank of archimandrite and appointed as head of this Mission.

Returning to Japan after two years in Russia, he transferred some of the responsibility for the Hakodate flock to Hieromonk Anatolius, and began his missionary work in Tokyo. In 1871 there was a persecution of Christians in Hakodate. Many were arrested (among them, the first Japanese Orthodox priest Paul Sawabe). Only in 1873 did the persecution abate somewhat, and the free preaching of Christianity became possible.

In this year Archimandrite Nicholas began the construction of a stone building in Tokyo which housed a church, a school for fifty men, and later a religious school, which became a seminary in 1878.

In 1874, Bishop Paul of Kamchatka arrived in Tokyo to ordain as priests several Japanese candidates recommended by Archimandrite Nicholas. At the Tokyo Mission, there were four schools: for catechists, for women, for church servers, and a seminary. At Hakodate there were two separate schools for boys and girls.

In the second half of 1877, the Mission began regular publication of the journal "Church Herald." By the year 1878 there already 4115 Christians in Japan, and there were a number of Christian communities. Church services and classes in Japanese, the publication of religious and moral books permitted the Mission to attain such results in a short time. Archimandrite Nicholas petitioned the Holy Synod in December of 1878 to provide a bishop for Japan.

Archimandrite Nicholas was consecrated bishop on March 30, 1880 in the Trinity Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky Lavra. Returning to Japan, he resumed his apostolic work with increased fervor. He completed construction on the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Tokyo, he translated the service books, and compiled a special Orthodox theological dictionary in the Japanese language.

Great hardship befell the saint and his flock at the time of the Russo-Japanese War. For his ascetic labor during these difficult years, he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop.

In 1911, half a century had passed since the young hieromonk Nicholas had first set foot on Japanese soil. At that time there were 33,017 Christians in 266 communities of the Japanese Orthodox Church, including 1 Archbishop, 1 bishop, 35 priests, 6 deacons, 14 singing instructors, and 116 catechiSts

On February 3, 1912, Archbishop Nicholas departed peacefully to the Lord at the age of seventy-six. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church glorified him on April 10, 1970, since the saint had long been honored in Japan as a righteous man, and a prayerful intercessor before the Lord.

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Ss. Cyril and Methodius

Commemorated on May 11

Saints Cyril and Methodius, Equals of the Apostles, and Enlighteners of the Slavs came from an illustrious and pious family living in the Greek city of Thessalonica. St Methodius was the oldest of seven brothers, St Constantine [Cyril was his monastic name] was the youngest. At first St Methodius was in the military and was governor in one of the Slavic principalities dependent on the Byzantine Empire, probably Bulgaria, which made it possible for him to learn the Slavic language. After living there for about ten years, St Methodius later received monastic tonsure at one of the monasteries on Mount Olympus (Asia Minor).

St Constantine distinguished himself by his great aptitude, and he studied with the emperor Michael under the finest teachers in Constantinople, including St Photius, the future Patriarch of Constantinople (February 6).

St Constantine studied all the sciences of his time, and also knew several languages. He also studied the works of St Gregory the Theologian. Because of his keen mind and penetrating intellect, St Constantine was called "Philosopher" (wise). Upon the completion of his education, St Constantine was ordained to the holy priesthood and was appointed curator of the patriarchal library at the church of Hagia Sophia. He soon left the capital and went secretly to a monastery.

Discovered there, he returned to Constantinople, where he was appointed as instructor in philosophy. The young Constantine's wisdom and faith were so great that he won a debate with Ananias, the leader of the heretical iconclasts . After this victory Constantine was sent by the emperor to discuss the Holy Trinity with the Saracens, and again he gained the victory. When he returned, St Constantine went to his brother St Methodius on Olympus, spending his time in unceasing prayer and reading the works of the holy Fathers.

The emperor soon summoned both of the holy brothers from the monastery and sent them to preach the Gospel to the Khazars. Along the way they stayed in the city of Korsun, making preparations for their missionary activity. There the holy brothers miraculously discovered the relics of the hieromartyr Clement, Pope of Rome (November 25).

There in Korsun St Constantine found a Gospel and Psalter written in Russian letters [i.e. Slavonic], and a man speaking the Slavic tongue, and he learned from this man how to read and speak this language. After this, the holy brothers went to the Khazars, where they won a debate with Jews and Moslems by preaching the Gospel. On the way home, the brothers again visited Korsun and, taking up the relics of St Clement, they returned to Constantinople. St Constantine remained in the capital, but St Methodius was made igumen of the small Polychronion monastery near Mount Olympus, where he lived a life of asceticism as before.

Soon messengers came to the emperor from the Moravian prince Rostislav, who was under pressure from German bishops, with a request to send teachers to Moravia who would be able to preach in the Slavic tongue. The emperor summoned St Constantine and said to him, "You must go there, but it would be better if no one knows about this."

St Constantine prepared for the new task with fasting and prayer. With the help of his brother St Methodius and the disciples Gorazd, Clement, Sava, Naum and Angelyar, he devised a Slavonic alphabet and translated the books which were necessary for the celebration of the divine services: the Gospel, Epistles, Psalter, and collected services, into the Slavic tongue. This occurred in the year 863.

After completing the translation, the holy brothers went to Moravia, where they were received with great honor, and they began to teach the services in the Slavic language. This aroused the malice of the German bishops, who celebrated divine services in the Moravian churches in Latin. They rose up against the holy brothers, convinced that divine services must be done in one of three languages: Hebrew, Greek or Latin.

St Constantine said, "You only recognize three languages in which God may be glorified. But David sang, 'Praise the Lord, all nations, praise the Lord all peoples (Ps 116/117:1).' And the Gospel of St Matthew (28:18) says, 'Go and teach all nations....'" The German bishops were humiliated, but they became bitter and complained to Rome.

The holy brothers were summoned to Rome for a decision on this matter. Taking with them the relics of St Clement, Sts Constantine and Methodius set off to Rome. Knowing that the holy brothers were bringing these relics with them, Pope Adrian met them along the way with his clergy. The holy brothers were greeted with honor, the Pope gave permission to have divine services in the Slavonic language, and he ordered the books translated by the brothers to be placed in the Latin churches, and to serve the Liturgy in the Slavonic language.

At Rome St Constantine fell ill, and the Lord revealed to him his approaching death. He was tonsured into the monastic schema with the name of Cyril. On February 14, 869, fifty days after receiving the schema, St Cyril died at the age of forty-two.

St Cyril commanded his brother St Methodius to continue with their task of enlightening the Slavic peoples with the light of the true Faith. St Methodius entreated the Pope to send the body of his brother for burial in their native land, but the Pope ordered the relics of St Cyril to be placed in the church of St Clement, where miracles began to occur from them.

After the death of St Cyril, the Pope sent St Methodius to Pannonia, after consecrating him as Archbishop of Moravia and Pannonia, on the ancient throne of St Andronicus (July 30). In Pannonia St Methodius and his disciples continued to distribute services books written in the Slavonic language. This again aroused the wrath of the German bishops. They arrested and tried St Methodius, who was sent in chains to Swabia, where he endured many sufferings for two and a half years.

After being set free by order of Pope John VIII of Rome, and restored to his archdiocese, St Methodius continued to preach the Gospel among the Slavs. He baptized the Czech prince Borivoi and his wife Ludmilla (September 16), and also one of the Polish princes. The German bishops began to persecute the saint for a third time, because he did not accept the erroneous teaching about the procession of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son. St Methodius was summoned to Rome, but he justified himself before the Pope, and preserved the Orthodox teaching in its purity, and was sent again to the capital of Moravia, Velehrad.

Here in the remaining years of his life St Methodius, assisted by two of his former pupils, translated the entire Old Testament into Slavonic, except for the Book of Maccabbees, and even the Nomocanon (Rule of the holy Fathers) and Paterikon (book of the holy Fathers).

Sensing the nearness of death, St Methodius designated one of his students, Gorazd, as a worthy successor to himself. The holy bishop predicted the day of his death and died on April 6, 885 when he was about sixty years old. The saint's burial service was chanted in three languages, Slavonic, Greek, and Latin. He was buried in the cathedral church of Velehrad.

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St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Enlightener of All North America

Commemorated on April 7

St Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Apostle to America was born as Vasily Ivanovich Belavin on January 19, 1865 into the family of Ioann Belavin, a rural priest of the Toropetz district of the Pskov diocese. His childhood and adolescence were spent in the village in direct contact with peasants and their labor. From his early years he displayed a particular religious disposition, love for the Church as well as rare meekness and humility.

When Vasily was still a boy, his father had a revelation about each of his children. One night, when he and his three sons slept in the hayloft, he suddenly woke up and roused them. He had seen his dead mother in a dream, who foretold to him his imminent death, and the fate of his three sons. She said that one would be unfortunate throughout his entire life, another would die young, while the third, Vasily, would be a great man. The prophecy of the dead woman proved to be entirely accurate in regard to all three brothers.

From 1878 to 1883, Vasily studied at the Pskov Theological Seminary. The modest seminarian was tender and affectionate by nature. He was fair-haired and tall of stature. His fellow students liked and respected him for his piety, brilliant progress in studies, and constant readiness to help comrades, who often turned to him for explanations of lessons, especially for help in drawing up and correcting numerous compositions. Vasily was called "bishop" and "patriarch" by his classmates.

In 1888, at the age of 23, Vasily Belavin graduated from the St Petersburg Theological Academy as a layman, and returned to the Pskov Seminary as an instructor of Moral and Dogmatic Theology. The whole seminary and the town of Pskov became very fond of him. He led an austere and chaste life, and in 1891, when he turned 26, he took monastic vows. Nearly the whole town gathered for the ceremony. He embarked on this new way of life consciously and deliberately, desiring to dedicate himself entirely to the service of the Church. The meek and humble young man was given the name Tikhon in honor of St Tikhon of Zadonsk.

He was transferred from the Pskov Seminary to the Kholm Theological Seminary in 1892, and was raised to the rank of archimandrite. Archimandrite Tikhon was consecrated Bishop of Lublin on October 19, 1897, and returned to Kholm for a year as Vicar Bishop of the Kholm Diocese. Bishop Tikhon zealously devoted his energy to the establishment of the new vicariate. His attractive moral make-up won the general affection, of not only the Russian population, but also of the Lithuanians and Poles. On September 14, 1898, Bishop Tikhon was made Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska. As head of the Orthodox Church in America, Bishop Tikhon was a zealous laborer in the Lord's vineyard.

He did much to promote the spread of Orthodoxy, and to improve his vast diocese. He reorganized the diocesan structure, and changed its name from "Diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska" to "Diocese of the Aleutians and North America" in 1900. Both clergy and laity loved their archpastor, and held him in such esteem that the Americans made Archbishop Tikhon an honorary citizen of the United States.

On May 22, 1901, he blessed the cornerstone for St Nicholas Cathedral in New York, and was also involved in establishing other churches. On November 9, 1902, he consecrated the church of St Nicholas in Brooklyn for the Syrian Orthodox immigrants. Two weeks later, he consecrated St Nicholas Cathedral in NY.

In 1905, the American Mission was made an Archdiocese, and St Tikhon was elevated to the rank of Archbishop. He had two vicar bishops: Bishop Innocent (Pustynsky) in Alaska, and St Raphael (Hawaweeny) in Brooklyn to assist him in administering his large, ethnically diverse diocese. In June of 1905, St Tikhon gave his blessing for the establishment of St Tikhon's Monastery.

In 1907, he returned to Russia, and was appointed to Yaroslavl, where he quickly won the affection of his flock. They came to love him as a friendly, communicative, and wise archpastor. He spoke simply to his subordinates, never resorting to a peremptory or overbearing tone. When he had to reprimand someone, he did so in a good-natured, sometimes joking manner, which encouraged the person to correct his mistakes.

When St Tikhon was transferred to Lithuania on December 22, 1913, the people of Yaroslavl voted him an honorary citizen of their town. After his transfer to Vilna, he did much in terms of material support for various charitable institutions. There too, his generous soul and love of people clearly manifested themselves. World War I broke out when His Eminence was in Vilna. He spared no effort to help the poor residents of the Vilna region who were left without a roof over their heads or means of subsistence as a result of the war with the Germans, and who flocked to their archpastor in droves.

After the February Revolution and formation of a new Synod, St Tikhon became one of its members. On June 21, 1917, the Moscow Diocesan Congress of clergy and laity elected him as their ruling bishop. He was a zealous and educated archpastor, widely known even outside his country.

On August 15, 1917, a local council was opened in Moscow, and Archbishop Tikhon was raised to the dignity of Metropolitan, and then elected as chairman of the council. The council had as its aim to restore the life of Russian Orthodox Church on strictly canonical principles, and its primary concern was the restoration of the Patriarchate. All council members would select three candidates, and then a lot would reveal the will of God. The council members chose three candidates: Archbishop Anthony of Kharkov, the wisest, Archbishop Arseny of Novgorod, the strictest, and Metropolitan Tikhon of Moscow, the kindest of the Russian hierarchs.

On November 5, following the Divine Liturgy and a Molieben in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a monk removed one of the three ballots from the ballot box, which stood before the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev announced Metropolitan Tikhon as the newly elected Patriarch. St Tikhon did not change after becoming the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church. In accepting the will of the council, Patriarch Tikhon referred to the scroll that the Prophet Ezekiel had to eat, on which was written, "Lamentations, mourning, and woe." He foresaw that his ministry would be filled with affliction and tears, but through all his suffering, he remained the same accessible, unassuming, and kindly person.

All who met St Tikhon were surprised by his accessibility, simplicity and modesty. His gentle disposition did not prevent him from showing firmness in Church matters, however, particularly when he had to defend the Church from her enemies. He bore a very heavy cross. He had to administer and direct the Church amidst wholesale church disorganization, without auxiliary administrative bodies, in conditions of internal schisms and upheavals by various adherents of the Living Church, renovationists, and autocephalists.

The situation was complicated by external circumstances: the change of the political system, by the accession to power of the godless regime, by hunger, and civil war. This was a time when Church property was being confiscated, when clergy were subjected to court trials and persecutions, and Christ's Church endured repression. News of this came to the Patriarch from all ends of Russia. His exceptionally high moral and religious authority helped him to unite the scattered and enfeebled flock. At a crucial time for the church, his unblemished name was a bright beacon pointing the way to the truth of Orthodoxy. In his messages, he called on people to fulfill the commandments of Christ, and to attain spiritual rebirth through repentance. His irreproachable life was an example to all.

In order to save thousands of lives and to improve the general position of the church, the Patriarch took measures to prevent clergy from making purely political statements. On September 25, 1919, when the civil war was at its height, he issued a message to the clergy urging them to stay away from political struggle.

The summer of 1921 brought a severe famine to the Volga region. In August, Patriarch Tikhon issued a message to the Russian people and to the people of the world, calling them to help famine victims. He gave his blessing for voluntary donations of church valuables, which were not directly used in liturgical services. However, on February 23, 1922, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee published a decree making all valuables subject to confiscation.

According to the 73rd Apostolic Canon, such actions were regarded as sacrilege, and the Patriarch could not approve such total confiscation, especially since many doubted that the valuables would be used to combat famine. This forcible confiscation aroused popular indignation everywhere. Nearly two thousand trials were staged all over Russia, and more than ten thousand believers were shot. The Patriarch's message was viewed as sabotage, for which he was imprisoned from April 1922 until June 1923.

His Holiness, Patriarch Tikhon did much on behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church during the crucial time of the so-called Renovationist schism. He showed himself to be a faithful servant and custodian of the undistorted precepts of the true Orthodox Church. He was the living embodiment of Orthodoxy, which was unconsciously recognized even by enemies of the church, who called its members "Tikhonites."

When Renovationist priests and hierarchs repented and returned to the church, they were met with tenderness and love by St Tikhon. This, however, did not represent any deviation from his strictly Orthodox policy. "I ask you to believe me that I will not come to agreement or make concessions which could lead to the loss of the purity and strength of Orthodoxy," the Patriarch said in 1924.

Being a good pastor, who devoted himself entirely to the church's cause, he called upon the clergy to do the same: "Devote all your energy to preaching the word of God and the truth of Christ, especially today, when unbelief and atheism are audaciously attacking the Church of Christ. May the God of peace and love be with all of you!"

It was extremely painful and hard for the Patriarch's loving, responsive heart to endure all the Church's misfortunes. Upheavals in and outside the church, the Renovationist schism, his primatial labors, his concern for the organization and tranquility of Church life, sleepless nights and heavy thoughts, his confinement that lasted more than a year, the spiteful and wicked baiting of his enemies, and the unrelenting criticism sometimes even from the Orthodox, combined to undermine his strength and health.

In 1924, Patriarch Tikhon began to feel unwell. He checked into a hospital, but would leave it on Sundays and Feast Days in order to conduct services. On Sunday, April 5, 1925, he served his last Liturgy, and died two days later. On March 25/April 7, 1925 the Patriarch received Metropolitan Peter and had a long talk with him. In the evening, the Patriarch slept a little, then he woke up and asked what time it was. When he was told it was 11:45 P.M., he made the Sign of the Cross twice and said, "Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee." He did not have time to cross himself a third time.

Almost a million people came to say farewell to the Patriarch. The large cathedral of the Donskoy Monastery in Moscow could not contain the crowd, which overflowed the monastery property into the square and adjacent streets. St Tikhon, the eleventh Patriarch of Moscow, was primate of the Russian Church for seven and a half years.

On September 26/October 9, 1989, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church glorified Patriarch Tikhon and numbered him among the saints. For nearly seventy years, St Tikhon's relics were believed lost, but in February 1992, they were discovered in a concealed place in the Donskoy Monastery.

It would be difficult to imagine the Russian Orthodox Church without Patriarch Tikhon during those years. He did so much for the Church and for the strengthening of the Faith itself during those difficult years of trial. Perhaps the saint's own words can best sum up his life: "May God teach every one of us to strive for His truth, and for the good of the Holy Church, rather than something for our own sake."

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St. Andrew of Crete

Commemorated on July 4

Saint Andrew, Archbishop of Crete, was born in the city of Damascus into a pious Christian family. Up until seven years of age the boy was mute and did not talk. However, after communing the Holy Mysteries of Christ he found the gift of speech and began to speak. And from that time the lad began earnestly to study Holy Scripture and the discipline of theology.

At fourteen years of age he went off to Jerusalem and there he accepted monastic tonsure at the monastery of St Sava the Sanctified. St Andrew led a strict and chaste life, he was meek and abstinent, such that all were amazed at his virtue and reasoning of mind. As a man of talent and known for his virtuous life, over the passage of time he came to be numbered among the Jerusalem clergy and was appointed a secretary for the Patriarchate -- a writing clerk. In the year 680 the locum tenens of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, Theodore, included archdeacon Andrew among the representatives of the Holy City sent to the Sixth Ecumenical Council, and here the saint contended against heretical teachings, relying upon his profound knowledge of Orthodox doctrine. Shortly after the Council he was summoned back to Constantinople from Jerusalem and he was appointed archdeacon at the church of Hagia Sophia, the Wisdom of God. During the reign of the emperor Justinian II (685-695) St Andrew was ordained bishop of the city of Gortineia on the island of Crete. In his new position he shone forth as a true luminary of the Church, a great hierarch -- a theologian, teacher and hymnographer.

St Andrew wrote many liturgical hymns. He was the originator of a new liturgical form -- the canon. Of the canons composed by him the best known is the Great Penitential Canon, including within its 9 odes the 250 troparia recited during the Great Lent. In the First Week of Lent at the service of Compline it is read in portions (thus called "methymony" [trans. note: from the useage in the service of Compline of the "God is with us", in Slavonic the "S'nami Bog", or in Greek "Meth' Humon ho Theos", from which derives "methymony"], and again on Thursday of the Fifth Week at the All-night Vigil during Matins.

St Andrew of Crete gained renown with his many praises of the All-Pure Virgin Mary. To him are likewise ascribed: the Canon for the feast of the Nativity of Christ, three odes for the Compline of Palm Sunday and also in the first four days of Holy Passion Week, as well as verses for the feast of the Meeting of the Lord, and many another church-song. His hynographic tradition was continued by the churchly great melodists of following ages: Saints John of Damascus, Cosma of Maium, Joseph the Melodist, Theophan the Written-upon. There have also been preserved edifying Sermons of St Andrew for certain of the Church feasts.

Church historians are not of the same opinion as to the date of death of the saint. One suggests the year 712, while others -- the year 726. He died on the island of Mytilene, while returning to Crete from Constantinople, where he had been on churchly business. His relics were transferred to Constantinople. In the year 1350 the pious Russian pilgrim Stephen Novgorodets saw the relics at the Constantinople monastery named for St Andrew of Crete.

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St. John Climacus

Commemorated on March 18

The Fourth Sunday of Lent is dedicated to St John of the Ladder (Climacus), the author of the work, The Ladder of Divine Ascent. The abbot of St Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai (6th century) stands as a witness to the violent effort needed for entrance into God's Kingdom (Mt.10: 12). The spiritual struggle of the Christian life is a real one, "not against flesh and blood, but against ... the rulers of the present darkness ... the hosts of wickedness in heavenly places ..." (Eph 6:12). Saint John encourages the faithful in their efforts for, according to the Lord, only "he who endures to the end will be saved" (Mt.24:13).

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St. Simeon the New Theologian

Commemorated on March 12

Saint Simeon the New Theologian was born in the year 949 in the city of Galatea (Paphlagonia), and he was educated at Constantinople. His father prepared him for a career at court, and for a certain while the youth occupied a high position at the imperial court. When he was fourteen, he met the renowned Elder Simeon the Pious at the Studion Monastery, who would be a major influence in his spiritual development. He remained in the world for several years preparing himself for the monastic life under the Elder's guidance, and finally entered the monastery at the age of twenty-seven.

St Simeon the Pious recommended to the young man the writings of St Mark the Ascetic (March 5) and other spiritual writers. He read these books attentively and tried to put into practice what he read. Three points made by St Mark in his work "On the Spiritual Law" (see Vol. I of the English PHILOKALIA) particularly impressed him. First, you should listen to your conscience and do what it tells you if you wish your soul to be healed (PHILOKALIA, p. 115). Second, only by fulfilling the commandments can one obtain the activity of the Holy Spirit. Thirdly, one who prays only with the body and without spiritual knowledge is like the blind man who cried out, "Son of David, have mercy upon me (Luke 18:38) (PHILOKALIA, p. 111). When the blind man received his sight, however, he called Christ the Son of God (John 9:38).

St Simeon was wounded with a love for spiritual beauty, and tried to acquire it. In addition to the Rule given him by his Elder, his conscience told him to add a few more Psalms and prostrations, and to repeat constantly, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me." Naturally, he heeded his conscience.

Durint the day, he cared for the needs of people living in the palace of Patricius. At night, his prayers grew longer and he remained praying until midnight. Once, as he was praying in this way, a most brilliant divine radiance descended upon him and filled the room. He saw nothing but light all around him, and he was not even aware of the ground beneath his feet.

It seemed to him that he himself became light. Then his mind rose upward to the heavens, and he saw a second light brighter than the light which surrounded him. Then, on the edge of this second light, he seemed to see St Simeon the Pious, who had given him St Mark the Ascetic to read.

Seven years after this vision, St Simeon entered the monastery. There he increased his fasting and vigilance, and learned to renounce his own will.

The Enemy of our salvation stirred up the brethren of the monastery against St Simeon, who was indifferent to the praises or reproaches of others. Because of the increased discontent in the monastery, St Simeon was sent to the Monastery of St Mamas in Constantinople.

There he was tonsured into the monastic schema, and increased his spiritual struggles. He attained to a high spiritual level, and increased his knowledge of spiritual things through reading the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers, as well as in conversation with holy Elders.

Around the year 980, St Simeon was made igumen of the monastery of St Mamas and continued in this office for twenty-five years. He repaired and restored the monastery, which had suffered from neglect, and also brought order to the life of the monks.

The strict monastic discipline, for which St Simeon strove, led to great dissatisfaction among the brethren. Once, after Liturgy, some of the monks attacked him and nearly killed him. When the Patriarch of Constantinople expelled them from the monastery and wanted to hand them over to the civil authorities, St Simeon asked that they be treated with leniency and be permitted to live in the world.

About the year 1005, St Simeon resigned his position as igumen in favor of Arsenius, while he himself settled near the monastery in peace. There he composed his theological works, portions of which appear in the PHILOKALIA.

The chief theme of his works is the hidden activity of spiritual perfection, and the struggle against the passions and sinful thoughts. He wrote instructions for monks: "Theological and Practical Chapters," "A Treatise on the Three Methods of Prayer," (in Vol. IV of the English PHILOKALIA) and "A Treatise on Faith." Moreover, St Simeon was an outstanding church poet. He also wrote "Hymns of Divine Love," about seventy poems filled with profound prayerful meditations.

The sublime teachings of St Simeon about the mysteries of mental prayer and spiritual struggle have earned him the title "the New Theologian." These teachings were not the invention of St Simeon, but they had merely been forgotten over time.

Some of these teachings seemed unacceptable and strange to his contemporaries. This led to conflict with Constantinople's church authorities, and St Simeon was banished from the city. He withdrew across the Bosphorus and settled in the ancient monastery of St Makrina.

The saint peacefully fell asleep in the Lord in the year 1021. During his life he received the gift of working miracles. Numerous miracles also took place after his death; one of them was the miraculous discovery of his icon.

His Life was written by his cell-attendant and disciple, St Nicetas Stethatos.

Since March 12 falls during Great Lent, St Simeon's Feast is transfered to October 12.

fromoca.org
 

ytterbiumanalyst

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St. Moses the Black

Commemorated on August 28

Saint Moses Murin the Black lived during the fourth century in Egypt. He was an Ethiopian, and he was black of skin and therefore called "Murin" (meaning "like an Ethiopian"). In his youth he was the slave of an important man, but after he committed a murder, his master banished him, and he joined a band of robbers.

Because of his bad character and great physical strength they chose him as their leader. Moses and his band of brigands did many evil deeds, both murders and robberies. People were afraid at the mere mention of his name.

Moses the brigand spent several years leading a sinful life, but through the great mercy of God he repented, left his band of robbers and went to one of the desert monasteries. Here he wept for a long time, begging to be admitted as one of the brethren. The monks were not convinced of the sincerity of his repentance, but the former robber would not be driven away nor silenced. He continued to ask that they accept him.

St Moses was completely obedient to the igumen and the brethren, and he poured forth many tears of sorrow for his sinful life. After a certain while St Moses withdrew to a solitary cell, where he spent the time in prayer and the strictest fasting in a very austere lifestyle.

Once, four of the robbers of his former band descended upon the cell of St Moses. He had lost none of his great physical strength, so he tied them all up. Throwing them over his shoulder, he brought them to the monastery, where he asked the Elders what to do with them. The Elders ordered that they be set free. The robbers, learning that they had chanced upon their former ringleader, and that he had dealt kindly with them, followed his example: they repented and became monks. Later, when the rest of the band of robbers heard about the repentance of St Moses, then they also gave up their thievery and became fervent monks.

St Moses was not quickly freed from the passions. He went often to the igumen, Abba Isidore, seeking advice on how to be delivered from the passions of profligacy. Being experienced in the spiritual struggle, the Elder taught him never to eat too much food, to remain partly hungry while observing the strictest moderation. But the passions did not cease to trouble St Moses in his dreams.

Then Abba Isidore taught him the all-night vigil. The monk stood the whole night at prayer, so he would not fall asleep. From his prolonged struggles St Moses fell into despondency, and when there arose thoughts about leaving his solitary cell, Abba Isidore instead strengthened the resolve of his disciple.

In a vision he showed him many demons in the west, prepared for battle, and in the east a still greater quantity of holy angels, also ready for fighting. Abba Isidore explained to St Moses that the power of the angels would prevail over the power of the demons, and in the long struggle with the passions it was necessary for him to become completely cleansed of his former sins.

St Moses undertook a new effort. Making the rounds by night of the wilderness cells, he carried water from the well to each brother. He did this especially for the Elders, who lived far from the well and who were not easily able to carry their own water. Once, kneeling over the well, St Moses felt a powerful blow upon his back and he fell down at the well like one dead, laying there in that position until dawn. Thus did the devils take revenge upon the monk for his victory over them. In the morning the brethren carried him to his cell, and he lay there a whole year crippled. Having recovered, the monk with firm resolve confessed to the igumen, that he would continue to live in asceticism. But the Lord Himself put limits to this struggle of many years: Abba Isidore blessed his disciple and said to him that the passions had already gone from him. The Elder commanded him to receive the Holy Mysteries, and to go to his own cell in peace. From that time, St Moses received from the Lord power over demons.

Accounts about his exploits spread among the monks and even beyond the bounds of the wilderness. The governor of the land wanted to see the saint. When he heard of this, St Moses decided to hide from any visitors, and he departed his own cell. Along the way he met servants of the governor, who asked him how to get to the cell of the desert-dweller Moses. The monk answered them: "Go no farther to see this false and unworthy monk." The servants returned to the monastery where the governor was waiting, and they told him the words of the Elder they had chanced to meet. The brethren, hearing a description of the Elder's appearance, told them that they had encountered St Moses himself.

After many years of monastic exploits, St Moses was ordained deacon. The bishop clothed him in white vestments and said, "Now Abba Moses is entirely white!" The saint replied, "Only outwardly, for God knows that I am still dark within."

Through humility, the saint believed himself unworthy of the office of deacon. Once, the bishop decided to test him and he bade the clergy to drive him out of the altar, reviling him as an unworthy Ethiopian. In all humility, the monk accepted the abuse. Having put him to the test, the bishop then ordained St Moses to be presbyter. St Moses labored for fifteen years in this rank, and gathered around himself 75 disciples.

When the saint reached age 75, he warned his monks that soon brigands would descend upon the skete and murder all that were there. The saint blessed his monks to leave, in order to avoid violent death. His disciples began to beseech the monk to leave with them, but he replied: "For many years already I have awaited the time when therethe words which my Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, should be fulfilled: "All who take up the sword, shall perish by the sword" (Mt. 26: 52). After this, seven of the brethren remained with the monk, and one of them hid nearby during the attack of the robbers. The robbers killed St Moses and the six monks who remained with him. Their death occurred in about the year 400.

from oca.org
 

ytterbiumanalyst

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Martyr Christopher

Commemorated on May 9

The Holy Martyr Christopher lived during the third century and suffered about the year 250, during the reign of the emperor Decius (249-251). There are various accounts of his life and miracles, and he is widely venerated throughout the world. St Christopher is especially venerated in Italy, where people pray to him in times of contagious diseases.

There are various suggestions about his descent. Some historians believe that he was descended from the Canaanites, while others say from the "Cynoscephalai" [literally "dog-heads"] of Thessaly. Perhaps this is why certain unlearned painters foolishly portray St Christopher with a dog's head.

St Christopher was a man of great stature and unusual strength. According to tradition, St Christopher was very handsome, but wishing to avoid temptation for himself and others, he asked the Lord to give him an unattractive face, which was done. Before Baptism he was named Reprebus [Reprobate] because his disfigured appearance. Even before Baptism, Reprebus confessed his faith in Christ and denounced those who persecuted Christians. Consequently, a certain Bacchus gave him a beating, which he endured with humility.

Because of his renowned strength, 200 soldiers were assigned to bring him before the emperor Decius. Reprebus submitted without resistance. Several miracles occurred along the way; a dry stick blossomed in the saint's hand, loaves of bread were multiplied through his prayers, and the travellers had no lack thereof. This is similar to the multiplication of loaves in the wilderness by the Savior. The soldiers surrounding Reprebus were astonished at these miracles. They came to believe in Christ and they were baptized along with Reprebus by St Babylus of Antioch (September 4).

Christopher once made a vow to serve the greatest king in the world, so he first offered to serve the local king. Seeing that the king feared the devil, Christopher thought he would leave the king to serve Satan. Learning that the devil feared Christ, Christopher went in search of Him. St Babylas of Antioch told him that he could best serve Christ by doing well the task for which he was best suited. Therefore, he became a ferryman, carrying people across a river on his shoulders. One stormy night, Christopher carried a Child Who insisted on being taken across at that very moment. With every step Christopher took, the Child seemed to become heavier. Halfway across the stream, Christopher felt that his strength would give out, and that he and the Child would be drowned in the river. As they reached the other side, the Child told him that he had just carried all the sins of the world on his shoulders. Then He ordered Christopher to plant his walking stick in the ground. As he did so, the stick grew into a giant tree. Then he recognized Christ, the King Whom he had vowed to serve.

St Christopher was brought before the emperor, who tried to make him renounce Christ, not by force but by cunning. He summoned two profligate women, Callinike and Aquilina, and commanded them to persuade Christopher to deny Christ, and to offer sacrifice to idols. Instead, the women were converted to Christ by St Christopher. When they returned to the emperor, they declared themselves to be Christians.Therefore, they were subjected to fierce beatings, and so they received the crown of martyrdom.

Decius also sentenced to execution the soldiers who had been sent after St Christopher, but who now believed in Christ. The emperor ordered that the martyr be thrown into a red-hot metal box. St Christopher, however, did not experience any suffering and he remained unharmed. After many fierce torments they finally beheaded the martyr with a sword. This occurred in the year 250 in Lycia. By his miracles the holy Martyr Christopher converted as many as 50 thousand pagans to Christ, as St Ambrose of Milan testifies. The relics of St Christopher were later transferred to Toledo (Spain), and still later to the abbey of St Denis in France.

In Greece, many churches place the icon of St Christopher at the entrance so that people can see it as they enter and leave the building. There is a rhyming couplet in Greek which says, "When you see Christopher, you can walk in safety." This reflects the belief that whoever gazes upon the icon of St Christopher will not meet with sudden or accidental death that day.

The name Christopher means "Christ-bearer." This can refer to the saint carrying the Savior across the river, and it may also refer to St Christopher bearing Christ within himself (Galatians 2:20).

from oca.org
 

EofK

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Commemorated on August 4

The Seven Youths of Ephesus: Maximilian, Iamblicus, Martinian, John, Dionysius, Exacustodianus (Constantine) and Antoninus, lived in the third century. St Maximilian was the son of the Ephesus city administrator, and the other six youths were sons of illustrious citizens of Ephesus. The youths were friends from childhood, and all were in military service together.

When the emperor Decius (249-251) arrived in Ephesus, he commanded all the citizens to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Torture and death awaited anyone who disobeyed. The seven youths were denounced by informants, and were summoned to reply to the charges. Appearing before the emperor, the young men confessed their faith in Christ.

Their military belts and insignia were quickly taken from them. Decius permitted them to go free, however, hoping that they would change their minds while he was off on a military campaign. The youths fled from the city and hid in a cave on Mount Ochlon, where they passed their time in prayer, preparing for martyrdom.

The youngest of them, St Iamblicus, dressed as a beggar and went into the city to buy bread. On one of his excursions into the city, he heard that the emperor had returned and was looking for them. St Maximilian urged his companions to come out of the cave and present themselves for trial.

Learning where the young men were hidden, the emperor ordered that the entrance of the cave be sealed with stones so that the saints would perish from hunger and thirst. Two of the dignitaries at the blocked entrance to the cave were secret Christians. Desiring to preserve the memory of the saints, they placed in the cave a sealed container containing two metal plaques. On them were inscribed the names of the seven youths and the details of their suffering and death.

The Lord placed the youths into a miraculous sleep lasting almost two centuries. In the meantime, the persecutions against Christians had ceased. During the reign of the holy emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450) there were heretics who denied that there would be a general resurrection of the dead at the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some of them said, "How can there be a resurrection of the dead when there will be neither soul nor body, since they are disintegrated?" Others affirmed, "The souls alone will have a restoration, since it would be impossible for bodies to arise and live after a thousand years, when even their dust would not remain." Therefore, the Lord revealed the mystery of the Resurrection of the Dead and of the future life through His seven saints.

The owner of the land on which Mount Ochlon was situated, discovered the stone construction, and his workers opened up the entrance to the cave. The Lord had kept the youths alive, and they awoke from their sleep, unaware that almost two hundred years had passed. Their bodies and clothing were completely undecayed.

Preparing to accept torture, the youths once again asked St Iamblicus to buy bread for them in the city. Going toward the city, the youth was astonished to see a cross on the gates. Hearing the name of Jesus Christ freely spoken, he began to doubt that he was approaching his own city.

When he paid for the bread, Iamblicus gave the merchant coins with the image of the emperor Decius on it. He was detained, as someone who might be concealing a horde of old money. They took St Iamblicus to the city administrator, who also happened to be the Bishop of Ephesus. Hearing the bewildering answers of the young man, the bishop perceived that God was revealing some sort of mystery through him, and went with other people to the cave.

At the entrance to the cave the bishop found the sealed container and opened it. He read upon the metal plaques the names of the seven youths and the details of the sealing of the cave on the orders of the emperor Decius. Going into the cave and seeing the saints alive, everyone rejoiced and perceived that the Lord, by waking them from their long sleep, was demonstrating to the Church the mystery of the Resurrection of the Dead.

Soon the emperor himself arrived in Ephesus and spoke with the young men in the cave. Then the holy youths, in sight of everyone, lay their heads upon the ground and fell asleep again, this time until the General Resurrection.

The emperor wanted to place each of the youths into a jeweled coffin, but they appeared to him in a dream and said that their bodies were to be left upon the ground in the cave. In the twelfth century the Russian pilgrim Igumen Daniel saw the holy relics of the seven youths in the cave.

There is a second commemoration of the seven youths on October 22. According to one tradition, which entered into the Russian PROLOGUE (of Saints' Lives), the youths fell asleep for the second time on this day. The Greek MENAION of 1870 says that they first fell asleep on August 4, and woke up on October 22.

There is a prayer of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus in the GREAT BOOK OF NEEDS (Trebnik) for those who are ill and cannot sleep. The Seven Sleepers are also mentioned in the service for the Church New Year, September 1.

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Saint Simeon the New Theologian (949-1022) is one of the greatest mystical theologians of the Holy Orthodox Church, one of only 3 saints given the title "Theologian"; the others being Saint John the Beloved Apostle and St. Gregory Nanzianen.  He was a Greek and an abbot of a monastery in Constantinople.  His great work is "Hymns of Divine Love".  These are not hymns or even poems; they are prayers, very long prayers, that give a deep insight into this very holy man's spirituality and his relationship with Father-Jesus-Spirit, the Divine Trinity.  I strongly urge anyone  who is seeking a deeper union with God to read this and anything else by him. There is a very good English translation of "Hymns of Divine Love" by Father George Maloney S.J., a Russian-Byzantine Rite Catholic priest, a Jesuit.  This is the only English translation I know of.
 

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Saint Barbara, Patroness of the Field Artillery


   Saint Barbara was the extremely beautiful daughter of a wealthy heathen named Dioscorus, who lived near Nicomedia in Asia Minor. Because of her singular beauty and fearful that she be demanded in marriage and taken away from him, he jealously shut her up in a tower to protect her from the outside world.
   Shortly before embarking on a journey, he commissioned a sumptuous bathhouse to be built for her, approving the design before he departed. Barbara had heard of the teachings of Christ, and while her father was gone spent much time in contemplation. From the windows of her tower she looked out upon the surrounding countryside and marveled at the growing things; the trees, the animals and the people. She decided that all these must be part of a master plan, and that the idols of wood and stone worshipped by her parents must be condemned as false. Gradually she came to accept the Christian faith.

   As her belief became firm, she directed that the builders redesign the bathhouse her father had planned, adding another window so that the three windows might symbolize the Holy Trinity.

   When her father returned, he was enraged at the changes and infuriated when Barbara acknowledged that she was a Christian. He dragged her before the perfect of the province, who decreed that she be tortured and put to death by beheading. Dioscorus himself carried out the death sentence. On his way home he was struck by lightening and his body consumed.

   Saint Barbara lived and died about the year 300 A.D. She was venerated as early as the seventh century. The legend of the lightning bolt which struck down her persecutor caused her to be regarded as the patron saint in time of danger from thunderstorms, fires and sudden death.

   When gunpowder made its appearance in the Western world, Saint Barbara was invoked for aid against accidents resulting from explosions--since some of the earlier artillery pieces often blew up instead of firing their projectile, Saint Barbara became the patroness of the artillerymen.

From Ft. Sill Public Affairs Office
 

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St. Olaf of Norway

Martyr and King of Norway (1015-30), b. 995; d. 29 July, 1030. He was a son of King Harald Grenske of Norway. According to Snorre, he was baptized in 998 in Noddrway, but more probably about 1010 in Rouen, France, by Archbishop Robert. In his early youth he went as a viking to England, where he partook in many battles and became earnestly interested in Christianity. After many difficulties he was elected King of Norway, and made it his object to extirpate heathenism and make the Christian religion the basis of his kingdom. He is the great Norwegian legislator for the Church, and like his ancestor (Olaf Trygvesson), made frequent severe attacks on the old faith and customs, demolishing the temples and building Christian churches in their place. He brought many bishops and priests from England, as King Saint Cnut later did to Denmark. Some few are known by name (Grimkel, Sigfrid, Rudolf, Bernhard). He seems on the whole to have taken the Anglo-Saxon conditions as a model for the ecclesiastical organization of his kingdom. But at last the exasperation against him got so strong that the mighty clans rose in rebellion against him and applied to KingCnut of Denmark and England for help. This was willingly given, whereupon Olaf was expelled and Cnut elected King of Norway. It must be remembered that the resentment against Olaf was due not alone to his Christianity, but also in a high degree to his unflinching struggle against the old constitution of shires and for the unity of Norway. He is thus regarded by the Norwegians of our days as the great champion of national independence, and Catholic and Protestant alike may find in Saint Olaf their great idea.

After two years' exile he returned to Norway with an army and met his rebellious subjects at Stiklestad, where the celebrated battle took place 29 July, 1030. Neither King Cnut nor the Danes took part at that battle. King Olaf fought with great courage, but was mortally wounded and fell on the battlefield, praying "God help me". Many miraculous occurrences are related in connection with his death and his disinterment a year later, after belief in his sanctity had spread widely. His friends, Bishop Grimkel and Earl Einar Tambeskjelver, laid the corpse in a coffin and set it on the high-altar in the church of St. Clement in Nidaros (now Trondhjem). Olaf has since been held as a saint, not only by the people of Norway, but also by Rome. His cult spread widely in the Middle Ages, not only in Norway, but also in Denmark and Sweden; even in London, there is on Hart Street a St. Olave's Church, long dedicated to the canonized King of Norway. In 1856 a fine St. Olave's Church was erected in Christiania, the capital of Norway, where a large relic of St. Olaf (a donation from the Danish Royal Museum) is preserved and venerated. The arms of Norway are a lion with the battle-axe of St. Olaf in the forepaws.

From Catholic Encyclopedia

He used to be quite a popular saint in pre-reformation Finland. It's shame that he's not commemorated in the calendar of the Finnish Orthodox Church despite that he used to be so popular and he's enlightener of neighboring country. St. Olaf, ora pro nobis!
 

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Celtic and Old English Saints          12 December

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
* St. Finnian of Clonard
* St. Columba of Tyrdaglas
* St. Cormac
* St. Edburga of Thanet
* St. Colman of Glendalough
* St. Corentin
* St. Agatha of Wimborne
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


_______________________________________________
Fasting on 25 December:

[from Fr. Michael of Tasmania:] The Advent Fast is for forty days, through
to the eve of the Holy Nativity, during which period fish may be eaten.  The
exception to this is the Feast of Saint Finnian, Skellig Michael Monastery
and Orthodox Monasticism in the West (25th of December) on which day the
fast is entirely relaxed.

See ROCOR Western Rite fast rules
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Occidentalis/message/10251
______________________________________________



St. Finnian of Clonard, Bishop
(Finian, Finden, Vennianus, Vinnianus)
--------------------------------------------------------
Born in Leinster, Ireland, c. 470; died at Clonard (Cluain-Irard) Abbey
in Meath, Ireland, December 12, c. 552 (but the date ranges from
549-564).

Saint Finnian was an Irish monk who followed in the path of Saint
Patrick, whose disciples, including Saint Fortchern (f.d. February 17),
instructed him in the essentials of Christian virtue, and himself
initiated a strict form of Irish monasticism. Along with Saint Enda of
Aran (f.d. March 21), he is regarded as the founder of Irish
monasticism. He had close relations with the British Church.

He is said to have been born into a noble family at Myshall, County
Carlow, Ireland. He probably also received his education in that
district, where he also made his first three foundations at Rossacurra,
Drumfea, and Kilmaglush. Thereafter, he spent several years in Wales,
where he was trained in monasticism by Saints Cadoc of Llancarfan (f.d.
September 25), David of Menevia (f.d. March 1), and Gildas (f.d. January
29). He lived on bread, herbs, and water, and on the bare ground with a
stone for his pillow. About 520, Finnian returned to Ireland, armed with
the sanctity and sacred learning to reinvigorate the faith of his
countrymen.

To further God's work, he founded churches and several monasteries,
including Aghowle (County Wicklow) and Mugna Sulcain. His most notable
foundation was Clonard on the Boyne in Meath, which was the greatest
school of the period, renowned for several centuries for its biblical
studies (Finnian was a great Biblical scholar). During his abbacy, he is
said to have gathered 3,000 disciples at Clonard. As each left the
monastery to preach, he took with him a Book of the Gospels, a crozier,
and a reliquary around which he would built a church or monastery.

The rule of Clonard is believed to be based on the Rule of Lerins.
Finnian corresponded with Saint Gildas on matters of monastic
discipline, who had deplored the intrusion of wealth and power into the
episcopal office in Britain. Perhaps this was an influence in
development of a monastic rather than episcopal government within the
Irish Church.

He is often called the "Teacher of the Saints of Ireland."
At one time his pupils at Clonard included the so-called
Twelve Apostles of Ireland:

Brendan of Birr (f.d. November 29)
Brendan the Voyager (f.d. May 16)
Cainnech (f.d. October 11)
Ciaran of Clommacnois (f.d. September 9)
Columba of Iona (f.d. June 9)
Columba of Terryglass (f.d. today)
Comgall of Bangor (f.d. May 11)
Finian of Moville (f.d. September 10)
Kieran of Saigher (f.d. March 5)
Mobhi (f.d. October 12)
Molaise (Laserian) of Devendish (f.d. August 12)
Ninidh of Inismacsaint (f.d. January 18)
Ruadhan of Lothra (f.d. April 15)
Sinell of Cleenish (f.d.October 12).

(You might note that this is more than 12; this is a very elastic twelve
with different saints added at different times)

He died at Clonard of the yellow plague, which swept the country.
According to his biographer: "As Paul died in Rome for the sake of the
Christian people lest they should all perish in hell, so Finnian died at
Clonard for the sake of the people of the Gael, that they might not all
perish of the yellow pest." His relics were enshrined at Clonard until
they were destroyed in 887.

His monastery at Clonard survived the Viking raids, Norman aggressions,
and native strife, but not the Reformation, at which time it was
suppressed. At one point Clonard was converted into a house of
Augustinian canons, from whom there survives an office of Saint Finnian
with some elements taken from an otherwise unknown source. The
Protestant church of Clonard now houses an 11th-century, grey marble
baptismal font with figures from the Scriptures sculpted on its eight
panels as well as a stone head from the former abbey. All other traces
of Finnian's tomb, church, and abbey have been eradicated.

The contemporary collection of regulations for penitents, ascribed to
Vinnianus, was probably not the work of this Finnian but perhaps by
Finnian of Moville (f.d. September 10; d. c. 579). This oldest surviving
penitentiary is based on Welsh and Irish sources, as well as on those of
Saints Jerome (f.d. September 30) and John Cassian (f.d. July 23), and
influenced a similar work by Saint Columbanus (f.d. November 23). The
feast of Saint Finnian is observed throughout Ireland (Attwater,
Attwater 2, Benedictines, Coulson, D'Arcy, Delaney, Encyclopaedia,
Farmer, Healy, Husenbeth, Montague, Ryan).

Troparion of St Finnian of Clonard tone 8
Truly thou art the 'Tutor of the Saints of Ireland', O Founder of
Clonard, great Father Finnian./ As thou didst tirelessly teach the faith
in thy native land,/ so teach us to follow thy example that many may
come to know Christ and be led into the Way of Salvation.


Sources:
========

Attwater, D. (1983). The Penguin Dictionary of Saints,
2nd edition, revised and updated by Catherine Rachel John.
New York: Penguin Books.

Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate.
(1947). The Book of Saints. NY: Macmillan.

Coulson, J. (ed.). (1960). The Saints: A Concise Biographical
Dictionary. New York: Hawthorn Books.

D'Arcy, M. R. (1974). The Saints of Ireland. Saint Paul, Minnesota:
Irish American Cultural Institute. [This is probably the most
useful book to choose to own on the Irish saints. The author
provides a great deal of historical context in which to place the
lives of the saints.]

Delaney, J. J. (1983). Pocket Dictionary of Saints.
New York: Doubleday Image.

Encyclopaedia of Catholic Saints, October. (1966).
Philadelphia: Chilton Books.

Farmer, D. H. (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of Saints.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Healy, J. (1902). Ireland's Ancient Schools and Scholars.
Dublin: Sealy, Bryers and Walker.

Husenbeth, Rev. F. C., DD, VG (ed.). (1928). Butler's
Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints.
London: Virtue & Co.

Montague, H. P. (1981). The Saints and Martyrs of Ireland.
Guildford: Billing & Sons.

Ryan, J. (1931). Irish Monasticism. Dublin: Talbot Press.

For All the Saints:
http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/ss-index.htm

An Alphabetical Index of the Saints of the West
http://www.orthodoxengland.btinternet.co.uk/saintsa.htm

These Lives are archived at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints
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Robert W

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Saints Sergius and Herman of Valaam


Saint Sergius of Valaam founded Valaam Monastery together with Saint Herman of Valaam.

In tradition it is told that the founder, the Greek Sergius arrived from Byzantium to the north of Lake Ladoga. Initially he stayed at the island of Riekkala, close to the town of Sortavala, from where he moved to the island of Valaam. The island was an old pagan location and home to a site for sacrifice where many wise elders and local wizards lived.

Sergius settled to live in caves and a cave named Vaga became the Saint’s main habitation at the island of Valaam. From there he, without weapons and in the midst of violent pagans, preached the gospel and baptized the inhabitants of the island. Slowly a monastery grew on the premises and later it was to there the Karelian born Herman came and continued (not necessarily at the same time as Sergius) the work of Sergius. Herman is said to have been from the area close to Sortavala.

In some information it is said that the monastery was initially named Holy Trinity Monastery as opposed to the later name, Transfiguration Monastery.  According to tradition the monastery was said to have been founded in the year 992, however, it’s a disputed date. The founding could have be in the 1100s or even as late as in the 1300s according to tradition. So any set date for the founding is not available. All dates are more or less a guess which the researchers are still arguing about.

According to tradition the relics of the Saints where moved to safety from Valaam to Novgorod in 1163 where they remained until 1180. At that point they were transferred in a festive procession back to Valaam and that date September 24/11 is still celebrated in the Orthodox Church of Finland as the day for return of the relics. The Announciation of the Theotokos chapel was later built out of stone on the location where the relics where received back to the island.

The Orthodox Church of Finland honors both of the founders of the monastery Saints Sergius and Herman of Valaam as Enlighteners of Karelia as well as Saints. Their day of memory is celebrated yearly on June 28. The day of memory of All Enlighteners of Karelia is celebrated on the Saturday between the last day of October and November 6th.


Source: http://www.ortodoksi.net/tietopankki/henkilot/pyhat/karjalan_valistajat/sergius_and_herman_of_valaam.htm
Icon from Wikipedia
 

Robert W

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Saint Anna of Novgorod


Ingegerd Olofsdotter was born in the year 1000 and grew up in Sigtuna, Sweden. She was the daughter of the Swedish king Olof Skötkonung, one of the earliest Christian kings in Scandinavia.

She was destined for political marriage but her father would not let her marry before envoys came from the Grand Prince of Kiev, Yaroslav the Wise, asking for her hand. It is safe to assume that her father had some connection to Rus otherwise he would not have given away his daughter. During the viking era contacts with Slavic lands and beyond was not uncommon, northmen even served in the Varangian Guard, the bodyguards of the emperor of Constantinople (known as Miklagård to the vikings). Another likely connection is as some sources say that the mother of Ingegerd, Estrid, was the daughter of a Slavic high nobleman.

She married Yuroslav and by doing so, before she was 20 years old, became the Grandduchess of Novgorod and took the name Irina.

She is perhaps best known as the mother of Grand Prince Vladimir, the Enlightener of Rus and Equal-to-the-Apostles, and of Vsevolod of Pereyaslavl, himself the father of Vladimir Monomakh and progenitor of the Princes of Moscow. Her daughters were Queen Anne of France, Queen Maria of Hungary, and Queen Elizabeth of Norway.

She gave shelter to the outcast sons of British King Edmund, Edwin and Edward, as well as the son of St Olaf of Norway, Prince Magnus, who later returned to Norway. She also founded the convent of St. Irene the Great-Martyr.

When she was widowed she became a monastic, taking the name Anna. She reposed in 1050 and is remembered as a saint of the Church and the first ever Swedish saint.


Sources: http://historiska-personer.nu/min-s/peff25ed9.html (in Swedish)
             http://www.antiochian.org/node/17499
             http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varangians (nothing about st Anna, just historical details)

Icon: http://www.allmercifulsavior.com original probably located in  an Orthodox Church in Eskilstuna, Sweden (under the Serbian Patriarchate).
 

mike

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St. Martyr Youngling Gabriel

Commemorated on 20th of April (date of reposing) and 22nd of September (anniversary of cession his relics from Grodno (Belarus) to Białystok (Poland) in 1992)​

He was born in 22nd of March 1684 in a village called Zwierki (now northeastern Poland) in pious farmer family of Gowdel's. He used to be religious and calm child, he didn't take part in childlike plays. On 20th of April 1960 his parents found his body and realised he was dead. Landlord of the village Szutko had kidnapped him, took to Białystok (10 km far) and had tortured him. The boy died because of blood lost. His body was brought back to the village in secret and left in the forest nearby. It was guarded by dogs so that it wasn't depleted by the birds.

He was buried on the village graveyard. After 30 years his tomb was opened by accident and people realised that his body was intact. It was transferred to the Church. The epidemic, which was attacking people in the surroundings, marvellously stopped. In 1746 it survived the fire in the Church (only one hand was burned but it healed marvellously later). 9 years later it was moved to Slutzk (Belarus) so that it wouldn't be taken up by Greek Catholics.

He was canonised by Church of Russia in 1820. His relics changed their place several times (Białystok, Supraśl, Minsk and Grodno). In 1992 they came back to Białystok. Thousands of faithful took part in the ceremonies. Now they are in St. Nicholas Cathedral in Białystok but they will be moved to the Zwierki where Monastery is being built.

He is regarded as most important Saint who originates from area of Poland. He's a patron Saint of Polish Orthodox Youth Organisation. Annually in May (Julian is used) footage pilgrimage to Zwierki is hold.

source: http://cerkiew.pl/index.php?id=swieci&tx_orthcal[sw_id]=272&cHash=5a1142cdd3
 

Fr. George

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Over a year too late - I forgot to give St. Photios' full title in my post about him:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13801.msg196120.html#msg196120

St. Photios the Great, Patriarch of Constantinople, Confessor and Equal-to-the-Apostles.
 

mike

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St. Venerable-martyr Gregory Peradze

Commemorated on 6th of December​

He was born on 13 of September 1899 in Tbilisi (Georgia). His father was also a priest. He graduated the Theological Seminary in Tbilisi and wished to continue his education on university but he was recruited to the Soviet Army.

In 1921 he was ordered by Synaxis of Church of Georgia to study theology in Berlin (Germany). He was mostly interested in Georgian monasticism. In 1927, being still a layman, he set up Georgian parish in Paris (France). In 1931 he took monk's vows and was ordained to the priesthood. In 1933 he was asked by Polish Metropolitan Dionizy to teach patristics on Warsaw University's Orthodox Theological Section.

On 5th of May 1942 he was arrested by the Nazis. Propably because of aiding the Jews and cooperation with Polish conspiracy. In November he (beaten) was transferred  to the Extermination Camp in Auschwitz. 18 days later he died. According to the witnesses he changed to be killed instead of another prisoner (some say that it was Jewish father of many children). He was standing barefoot on the snow. He was set on by dogs, squirted with gasoline and burned alive.

After his reposing he was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite by Church of Constantinople. He was canonised by the Church of Georgia in 1995.

source: http://cerkiew.pl/index.php?id=swieci&tx_orthcal[sw_id]=526&cHash=51e3e7aa3d
 

mike

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St. Venerable Princess Euphrosyne of Polotsk, the Enlightener of Belarus

Commemorated on 23rd of May​

She was born in 1104 in Polotsk (northern Belarus) in ducal family. She was grand-grand-grand-daugther of St. Equeal-to-the-Apostles Prince Volodymyr (oddly from his pagan marriage before his baptism). She was taught by monks. She spoke Old Ruthenian, Greek and Latin fluently. Her lay-name was Pradslava. In the age of 12 she went to the monastery.

She was translating to Old Ruthenian works of St. John Goldenmouth, Byzantine philosophers, Plato and Aristotle. She also wrote the Chronicle of Polotsk, which was lost in XVth century. She also wrote about a dozen of religious hymns. She became the Abbes of Polotsk's female monastery. She set up two schools for girls, ordered to build many Churches.

In 1161 she ordered the goldsmith Lazarus Bokhsha to made golden cross-reliquary. It contained part of Holy Cross and many other relics. It was full of jewels and gems. It was lost during the World Was II but in 1997 a copy was made.

She wished to visit Jerusalem and being an elderly person she set off. She visited Constantinople en route, where she was welcomed with honors by the Patriarch. Being in Jerusalem she got ill and died after a few weeks on 23rd of May 1173.

 

mike

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St. Hieromartyr Basil Martysz

Commemorated on 21st of April and on first Sunday of June (Synaxis of Saints of Kholm and Podlachia)​

He was born in a village of Teratysz near Kholm (Pol. Chełm, eastern Poland) in the 1870s. His father used to be a judge but later he became a priest. Young Basil studied in Kholm's Theological Seminary. At the beginning of XXth century he was ordained and sent for mission to Alaska. He served on Kodiak and Afognak isles. Later he also served as a priest in Pennsylvania and in Canada for 12 years.

In 1912 he came back to Poland. He served in a city of Sosnowiec (Silesia). After outbreak of WWI he spent some time with his family in St. Andronic's Monastery in Moscow. To ensure his family for a living he worked as a manual labourer on railway station.

He came back to Sosnowiec but shortly after that he became Polish Army Military Chaplain. He was serving the soldiers for 20 years and finally became the Chief Polish Orthodox Chaplain. He also contributed Polish Metropolitans George and Dionisius in achieving the autocephaly.

After his retirement he moved with his wife and daughters to Teratyn. He spent there WWII. On Great Friday 1945 his house was attacked by Polish nationalists.  He was tortured and later killed. His family also suffered but survived.

In 2003 he was canonised by Church of Poland with other Saints of Synaxis of Saints of Kholm and Podlachia. His relics was exhumed and transferred to St. John Climacus Church in Warsaw.
 

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Saint David of Wales  -  1 March

Read his life ::  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints/message/3344



His reliquary in Saint David's cathedral, Wales

 

mike

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I would be grateful if someone posted life of St. Meropia/Miropia/Mhyrropia. She's commemorated on 25th of November and she's a patron-Saint of my mother Unfortunately we don't know completely anything about her.
 

Fr. George

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mike said:
I would be grateful if someone posted life of St. Meropia/Miropia/Mhyrropia. She's commemorated on 25th of November and she's a patron-Saint of my mother Unfortunately we don't know completely anything about her.
I've been looking for St. Meropia (with the alternate spellings) - unfortunately, I can't find her in my Great Synaxaristes, on the Goarch website, or in Greek texts for Nov 25; I can't even find her on Google!  There must be an alternate spelling...
 
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