Orthodox River


September 06 2020 - August 24 2020

PriestMartyr Eutykhios, Disciple of Apostle John the Theologian (I). Transfer of Relics of Sainted Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow (1479). Monk Arsenii of Komel’sk (+ 1550). Sainted Martyrii of Novgorod (+ 1199). Martyr Tation (+ 305). VirginMartyr Sira of Persia (+ 558). Monk George Limniotes (III). Monk Serapion the WonderWorker, Head of Natlismtsemel’sk Monastery (Gruzia) (+ 1747).

Petrovsk Icon of the Mother of God (c. 1306). Celebration of Appearance of MostHoly Mother of God to the Monk Sergei of Radonezh.

The PriestMartyr Eutykhios, a disciple of the holy Apostles John the Theologian and Paul, lived from the I Century into the beginning II Century, and was from the city of Palestinian Sebasteia. Although Saint Eutykhios is not reckoned among the number of the 70 Disciples, he received the title Disciple for his labours together with the older Apostles, by whom he was made bishop. Having heard the preaching about Christ the Saviour, Saint Eutykhios at first became a student of the Apostle John the Theologian, and then having met the Apostle Paul, he preached together with him on the early journeys. Saint Eutykhios underwent many sufferings: they starved him with hunger, struck at his body with iron, they flung him in the fire and then for devouring by wild beasts. One time there was let loose upon the saint a lion, which brought fright to everyone in that it rendered praise to the Creator – having been given human voice. The Priestmartyr Eutykhios finished with his works in his native city, where he was beheaded with a sword at the beginning of the II Century.

Sainted Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow, died on 21 December 1326. (The account about him is located under 21 December). The first transfer of his relics was on 1 July 1472 – a feastday then established. The second transfer of the relics of Sainted Peter was after the consecration of the Uspensk (Dormition) Cathedral – constructed anew – on 24 August 1479, and the feastday of 1 July was replaced. A feastday of appearing-forth of the relics of Sainted Peter (4 August) is also known of – upon the occasion of an appearance to the spouse of Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584), – the tsaritsa Anastasia (1547-1560). Sainted Peter appeared to tsaritsa Anastasia and allowed no one to open up his grave. He commanded the grave to be sealed and a feastday established.

From Sainted Peter are preserved three epistles. The first was to priests with an exhortation to worthily pursue their pastoral service, and to tend zealously their spiritual children. It concluded with an account of Church law concerning widowed priests: with the aim of protecting them from reproach and temptation he advised them to settle in a monastery, and their children to be enrolled for upbringing and instruction in a monastery school. In the second missive, the saint urged priests to be true pastors and not hirelings, and to be concerned about the strengthening of oneself with Christian and pastoral virtues. In the third missive, Saint Peter again gives an exhortation to priests concerning their pastoral obligations, and he urges laypeople to fulfill the commandments of Christ.

Prominent in church-state affairs, Sainted Peter even for his contemporaries gave good cause to compare him with Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. The principal effort of Saint Peter was in the struggle for an unified Russian state and the blessing of Moscow as the unifier of the Russian land.

The monk Arsenii of Komel’sk was born in Moscow, and was descended from a family of nobility, the Sakharusov. In his youth he took monastic vows at the Trinity-Sergiev monastery, and he occupied himself there with the copying of books: a Gospel is known of copied by him in the year 1506. In the years 1525-1527 the monk was hegumen at the Trinity-Sergiev monastery. He often withdrew to the solitary Makrisch monastery. GreatPrince Vasilii IV (1505-1533) – making a visit at the monastery at that time, was surprised to behold the hegumen of a prosperous monastery in old clothes covered with patches. The brethren explained that the Monk Arsenii wished to travel in the wilderness.

Setting out together with his own cell elder to the Komel’sk forest – located 50 versts from Vologda, the Monk Arsenii made a large wooden cross and with this cross on his shoulders he set out through the forest to pick out a spot for a future wilderness monastery. Coming to a marshy place through a swamp, the monk stumbled under the heavy cross and fell. An heavenly beam of light flashed upon the ascetic at this very moment and convinced him to establish it on this site. He set up the cross and built the first cell.

The local inhabitants, going therabouts to hunt wild animals, killed the cell-mate of the Monk Arsenii, and he himself was forced to withdraw into the Shilegonsk forest. There soon gathered at his new monastery several monks, and afterwards there settled at it fugitives from a Tatar incursion upon the surrounding populace. The Monk Arsenii, seeking after silence, desired to live in a more quiet spot. In the year 1530 GreatPrince Vasilii gave him a gramota (deed) for land in the Komel’sk forest at the Kokhtisha River. The monk began here to clear the forest together with his student Gerasim. By prayer the saint tamed the wild beasts. When several monks had gathered about him, he built a church in honour of the Placing of the Veil of the MostHoly Mother of God. Visiting the Shilegonsk monastery, the monk instructed the peasants, who had settled in the area of the monastery. He bid them reverently to observe feastdays and Sundays. One time when a peasant had heard him and started to work on a feastday, a wind suddenly arose scattering all his sheaves.

Having spent his life in fasting, prayer and constant work, the monk died on 24 August 1550. His Life was written soon after his death, but burned during the time of a conflagration in the Komel’sk monastery in 1596. In shortened form it was restored from the surviving manuscripts and added to with posthumous miracles by a monk of the monastery, John. An hundred years later after the death of the monk, the hegumen Joasaph built at the monastery a stone church in honour of the Placing of the Veil of the MostHoly Mother of God. Two chapels of this church show the spiritual bond of teacher and student. The left chapel was dedicated to the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, and the right – to the Monk Arsenii of Komel’sk.

Sainted Martyrii, ArchBishop of Novgorod, was born in Stara Rus’. On the northeast side of the city, near the right bank of the Polista River he founded in the year 1192 the Preobrazhenie (Transfiguration) men’s monastery. At the Novgorod cathedral, Saint Martyrii was chosen by lot after the death of Sainted Gregory (+ 1193, Comm. 24 May). On 10 December 1193 in Kiev, he was elevated to the dignity of archbishop. Sainted Martyrii became famous as an indefatigable builder of churches. In May 1195 he contracted for a church in the name of the Mother of God at the city gates, on 13 September 1196 he consecrated a church in honour of the Resurrection (Voskresenie) of Christ in a new women’s monastery at Lake Myachina. In January 1197 the saint consecrated a church in the name of Sainted Cyril of Alexandria at the same-named men’s monastery 3 versts from Novgorod. In the year 1197 he contracted in the carpenter’s quarter of Novgorod for a women’s monastery in the name of the holy GreatMartyress Euthymia – built by pious young women of the city. In January 1197 Sainted Martyrii consecrated at the Preobrazhenie monastery in Stara Rus’ a temple in the name of Sainted Nicephoros, Patriarch of Tsargrad. In May 1198 he began to build a stone church in honour of the Transfiguration of the Lord, and on 15 August of the same year he consecrated it. And in that same year princess Elena, spouse of prince Yaroslav Vladimirovich, built on the merchants’ side at Molotkova a church in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God at the monastery, founded by Saint Martyrii. The church was built in memory of the following miracle. A certain devout Novgorod person went to church each day. One time he returned home, and becoming tired, he fell asleep and dropped a prosphora imprinted with the Mother of God. The dogs, smelling bread, ran up to the prosphora but jumped away, driven off by an invisible power.

GreatPrince Vsevolod became disaffected with the Novgorod people, and in 1199 Saint Martyrii together with representatives of the townspeople set off to Vladimir. Along the way – on the shore of Lake Seliger, he died on 24 August 1199. His body was taken to Novgorod in the Martyriev Portico of the Sophia Cathedral – receiving this designation because it was built by Saint Martyrii. His image is known of in the altar of the Novgorod Sophia Cathedral.

The Martyr Tation lived in Bythnia and suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). When the persecutors of Christians learned that he believed in Christ, they arrested him and took him to the city of Claudiopolis to the governor, Urban. Many times they urged the saint to recant from Christ, and they locked him in prison and gave him over to various tortures. They beat him with sticks and dragged him beyond the city for execution. The holy martyr, having made the sign of the cross, died along the way (+ 305).

The Martyress Sira lived during the VI Century in Persia and was the daughter of an illustrious pagan-priest of the fire-worshippers (i.e. Zoroastrians) from Karkh-Seleucia in Elimiade (Abizarde). Sira’s father, fearing the influence of Christianity on his daughter, sent her after the death of her mother to the city of Tharsis for education as a pagan-priestess, which taught her the pagan-priestly craft. Sira became a priestess at the heathen-temple of fire, and occupied herself with honourable activity. But once, having conversed with some Christian beggars, Sira believed in Christ the Saviour and began to live as a Christian: she began to learn prayers and psalms, to fast and to read Christian books.

One time Sira fell ill. She was not able to discover a remedy for her sickness, and she went to the Christian church and asked the presbyter only but to give her some of the ashes from the church, hoping to receive healing from it. The presbyter, knowing Sira to be a servitor of idols, refused her request. Sira was not angered, knowing about her own unworthiness, but she with faith touched the robe of the priest, as once formerly the woman with the issue of blood did touch the robe of the Saviour (Mt. 9: 20-22). She immediately received healing and she returned home healthy. Sira’s family began to suspect that she wanted to accept Christianity, and they asked Sira’s step-mother to persuade her to abandon her intention. The step-mother, making a pretense, as though she herself were a secret christian, with sweetness talked with Sira to keep her faith in secret, and outwardly to continue to serve the fire, so as not to fall away from Christ altogether by being subjected to torture. Sira began to hesitate about accepting Baptism, but having received a vision in her sleep about the desolate fate which befell her mother after death, and about the luminous abodes foreordained for Christians, she made up her mind and went to the bishop, asking him to baptise her. The bishop declined fulfilling her request, fearing to give the pagan-priests occasion for persecuting Christians. Besides this, he thought that Sira, fearing her father’s wrath, would recant from Christ. The bishop advised her first to openly confess her faith in the Saviour in front of her kinsfolk.

One time during the making of the morning sacrifice, Saint Sira was stoking the priestly fire – worshipped by the Persians as their god, and overturning the sacrifice she proclaimed loudly: “I am a Christian and reject false gods and I believe in the True God!” The father beat his daughter until he became exhausted, and then threw her in prison. With tears and entreaties he urged her to return to her former faith, but Sira was unyielding. The father then made denunciation against her to the pagan high-priest, and afterwards to the governor and to the emperor Khozroes the Elder. They tortured the holy maiden for a long time in prison, but the Lord strengthened her, and she stood firmly on her faith in Christ. One time, having bribed the prison guard, Saint Sira went to the bishop and received Baptism. The Lord vouchsafed Saint Sira the gift of wonderworking. When the Persians gave the martyress over for the leering of impious men, they began to jeer at the saint, saying: “What’s the fable told about thee, that the chains themselves fall from thee, from thy neck, hands and legs? Let us see now, how the chains fall off!” Against such words Saint Sira prayed in the depths of her heart to the Saviour, and immediately the chains fell from her. And this was not the only time. Succumbing to her tortures, Saint Sira fell deathly ill. She began to entreat the Lord that He not allow her to die from the illness, but rather vouchsafe her a martyr’s crown. The Lord heard her and granted healing. Seeing the martyress healthy, the prison guard and jail warden went to dishonour the holy maiden, but the Lord struck one with illness and the other one was struck dead. The martyress was condemned to strangling.

They conducted the execution with refined cruelty: after a while they left go of the rope, asking the saint whether she wanted to change her mind and remain among the living. But the martyress, barely alive, answered a refusal and requested the execution be done quickly. The body of the saint was thrown to dogs for devouring, but they would not touch it. Christians buried the body of Saint Sira (+ 558).

The Monk George Limniotes lived during the VIII Century and was a monk of the Olympia monastery near Constantinople. He suffered for venerating icons under the Iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian (716-741). They burned his head and cut off his nose. The Monk George died in about the year 716.

The Petrovsk Icon of the MostHoly Mother of God was termed such because it was done by Sainted Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow (+ 21 December 1326)in his sojourn as hegumen of the Ratsk monastery near Volynia. During the time of a visit to the Ratsk monastery by Sainted Maksim, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia (+ 6 December 1306), Saint Peter gave him this icon as a gift. The metropolitan took it to Vladimir at Klyazma – where his cathedral was then located. Upon the death of Sainted Maksim, the hegumen Gerontii – having decided to occupy the metropolitan throne, went with this icon to the Constantinople Patriarch Athanasias (1303-1311). During the time of sailing, hegumen Gerontii was beset by a terrible storm. By night the MostHoly Mother of God appeared to him and said: “Not for thee is allotted the dignity of bishop, but rather for that one who did write My Image”. When he came before Patriarch Athanasias, Saint Peter was already in Constantinople. The Patriarch gave over the icon to Sainted Peter with the words: “Take the holy image of the Mother of God, which thou didst inscribe with thine own hands, wherefore because of this is granted thee the gift of the Ever-Virgin Herself, as She foretold of thee”. Sainted Peter took the icon to Vladimir, and in the year 1325 upon the transfer of the metropolitan cathedral to Moscow they placed the icon as being of great sanctity in the Moscow Uspenie (Dormition) Cathedral.

The Appearance of the MostHoly Mother of God to the Monk Sergei of Radonezh: One time, in the deep of night, the Monk Sergei (1314-1392) was reading an a akathist to the Mother of God. Having finished his habitual rule, he sat down to rest a bit, but suddenly he said to his cell-mate, the Monk Mikhei (+ 6 May 1385): “Take courage, child, we shall have a wondrous visit”. Scarcely had he uttered these words when a voice was heard: “the All-Pure Virgin doth approach!” The Monk Sergei rushed from the cell to the entrance, and suddenly it was illumined by a bright light, brighter than that of the sun. He beheld nearby in imperishable glory the Mother of God, accompanied by the Apostles Peter and John. Unable to bear the miraculous radiance, the Monk Sergei reverently prostrated himself before the Mother of God, and She said to him: “Fear not, My chosen one! I am come to visit thee. Sorrow thee no more about thy students and thy place. Thy prayer is heard. Henceforth all thine habitation shalt prosper, not only in thy lifetime, but also after thy departure to God shall it persist for thy monastery, granting abundantly its petitions and preserving it in all needs”. Having said this, the Mother of God became invisible. For a long time the Monk Sergei was in an inexpressible rapture, and having come to himself, he raised up the Monk Mikhei. “Tell me, father, – asked the cell‑mate, –what is the meaning for this miraculous vision? From terror my soul nearly departed the body!” But the Monk Sergei was silent; only his luminous face spoke of the spiritual joy which he experienced. “Wait a bit, – he said finally to his disciple, – until my soul doth calm down from this wondrous vision”. After a certain while the Monk Sergei summoned two of his disciples, the Monks Isaac and Simon, and communicated to them the common joy and hope. All of them together celebrated a molieben prayer to the Mother of God. The Monk Sergei spent the remaining part of the night without sleep, calling to mind the Divine vision. The appearance of the Mother of God at the cell of the Monk Sergei, at the present place of the Serapionov chamber, was on one of the Fridays of the Nativity fast in the year 1385. The commemoration of the visit of the Mother of God to the Troitsky (Trinity) monastery and of Her promise was reverently kept by the disciples of the Monk Sergei. On 5 July 1422 was the uncovering of his holy relics, and soon after on the grave of the Monk Sergei was placed an icon of the Appearance of the Mother of God. The icon was honoured with great reverence. In the year 1446 GreatPrince Vasilii Vasil’evich (1425-1462) was besieged at the Troitsky monastery by the armies of princes Dimitrii Shemyaka and Ioann of Mozhaisk. He barricaded himself into the Trinity cathedral, and when he heard that he was sought, he took the icon of the Appearance of the Mother of God and with it met prince Ioann at the southern church doors, saying: “Brother, we kissed the LifeCreating Cross and this icon in this church of the LifeBeginning Trinity at this grave of the Wonderworker Sergei, that we would neither intend nor wish any evil to any of our brethren amongst ourselves; and here now I know not, what will happen with me”.

The Trinity monk Amvrosii (mid-XV Century) reproduced the icon of the Appearance of the Mother of God to the Monk Sergei, carved in wood.

Tsar Ivan the Terrible took along the icon of the Appearance of the Mother of God on his Kazan campaign (1552). The most famous icon, inscribed in the year 1588, was by the steward of the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra, Evstaphii Golovkin (1571-1581; 1583‑1593) on a board from the wooden reliquary of the Monk Sergei, which was taken apart in the year 1585 in connection with the placing of the relics of the Monk Sergei in a silver reliquary (14 August). Through this icon the Mother of God repeatedly protected the Russian army. Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich (1645-1676) took it on the Polish campaign in 1657. In the year 1703 the icon took part in all the military campaigns against the Swedish king Charles XII, and in 1812 Metropolitan Platon sent it to the Moscow military levy. The icon took part in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 and during the time of World War I it was at the quarters of the supreme commander-in-chief in 1914.

Over the grave of the monk Mikhei was built a church and named through its consecration on 10 December 1734 in honour of the Appearance of the MostHoly Mother of God together with the holy Apostles to the Monastic Father Sergei of Radonezh. On 27 September 1841 the church was restored and consecrated by the Metropolitan of Moscow Philaret, who said: “By the grace of the All-Holy and All-Sacred Spirit is now accomplished the restoration of this temple, fashioned before us in honour and memory of the Appearance of our Lady the MostHoly Mother of God to the Monk our God-bearing father Sergei, to which also by his account the Monk Mikhei was an eye-witness, in sweet reverence here honoured”. Rightly was the commemoration of this grace-bearing event honoured by the consecration of a church, although however, all this monastery is a memorial of that miraculous visit. Wherefore its purpose in the continuing centuries was the fulfilling of the promise of the heavenly Visitor: “This place shalt persist”. In memory of the visit of the Mother of God at Trinity cathedral of the Trinity-Sergiev monastery is read on Fridays an akathist to the MostHoly Mother of God, and a special service in honour of the appearance of the mother of God is done at the monastery on 24 august, on the second day of the leave-taking of the feast of Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos