December 24 2020 - December 11 2020
Monk Daniel the Pillar-Dweller (+ 489-490).
Monk Nikon the Lean of Pechersk, in the Nearer Caves (XII). Martyr Mirax (VII). Martyrs Akepsios and Haifal. Monk Luke the Pillar-Dweller (+ c. 970-980). Martyr Barsaba. Martyrs Terence, Vicentius, Emilian, Viveus. Monk Leontios. Saint Peter the Ascetic. Saint Philemon. Sainted John, Metropolitan of Zikhno. Nobleborn Emperor Nicephoros Phocas (+ 969).
The Monk Daniel the Pillar-Dweller was born in the village of Bythar, near the city of Samosata in Mesopotamia. His mother Martha was childless for a long while and in her prayers gave a vow, that if she had a child, she would dedicate him to the Lord. Her prayers were heard, and Martha soon gave birth to a son, who until he was 5 years of age was without a name. The parents of the boy desired, that since he was born through the good-will of God, he should likewise receive from God his name. They took their son to a monastery located nearby and approached the hegumen. The hegumen gave orders to take down one of the Divine-service books, and at random having unrolled it, found in it the mention of the Prophet Daniel (Comm. 17 December). Thus did the lad receive his name. The parents asked that the lad might remain at the monastery, but the hegumen would not accept him, since he was still but a small boy. At 12 years of age, saying nothing to no one, the lad left home for the monastery.
His parents were happy when they learned where their son was, and they went to the monastery. Seeing that he was still going about in his worldly clothes, they besought that the hegumen should attire him in the Angelic garb. And on that Sunday the hegumen fulfilled their request, but permitted them often to visit their son. The brethren of the monastery were astonished at the efforts of the monk.
One time on a visit to the monastery came Saint Simeon the Pillar-Dweller (comm. 1 September), who foretold to the young monk, that he too would undertake the feat of pillar-dwelling. The Monk Daniel continued on with his ascetic life in seclusion. When in a vision the place of a new exploit was revealed to him, he withdrew into the Thracian wilderness together with two students, where they set up a pillar, upon which the Monk Daniel dwelt for 33 years. People thronged to the pillar, those who were misfortunate and those who were sick, and all received from the Monk Daniel help and healing. Byzantine emperors likewise besought the prayers of the holy ascetic. And from the numerous predictions of the monk, the most notable was about a strong conflagration in Constantinople. The Monk Daniel possessed also the gift of gracious words. He guided many onto the path of correcting their lives. The monk reposed in his 80th year.
The Monk Nikon the Lean, the son of rich and illustrious parents, gave up everything for Christ and accepted monasticism at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. In the year 1096, during the incursions of khan Bonyak, he together with other monks was taken into captivity. Expecting a rich ransom, the captor treated the Monk Nikon harshly. When the saint was refused ransom, the master began to torment him with hunger, and left him exposed in the heat of Summer and the cold of Winter. But the monk gave thanks to God for everything and once said to his tormentor, that the Lord, through the prayers of the Monks Antonii and Theodosii (Feodosii) would return him to his monastery, as the Monk Evstratii (+ 1097, Comm. 28 March) had predicted while appearing to him. The captor cut the leg-tendons of the Monk Nikon and set a strong guard over him. But on the third day at the sixth hour suddenly the holy captive became invisible, at the moment the guard hear the words: “Praise the Lord from the Heavens”. And thus he was transported to the Divine Liturgy at the Uspensk church. The brethren surrounded him and began to ask how he got there. The Monk Nikon wanted to conceal the miracle. But the brethren implored him to tell the truth. The Monk Nikon wanted to continue his ascetic deeds in his fetters from captivity, but the hegumen said: “If the Lord had wanted that thou shouldst remain bound, He would not have delivered thee from captivity”. After a long while the former master of the Monk Nikon came to the Kievo-Pechersk monastery and recognised his former captive, withered up from hunger and wounds. He came to believed, accepted Baptism, and having taken monastic tonsure, he himself became an obedient (novice) under the Monk Nikon. The Monk Nikon died at the beginning of the XII Century and was buried in the Nearer Caves. His memory is celebrated also on 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Holy Martyr Mirax was born into a Christian family that lived in the city of Tennes (Egypt) during the VII Century. He was raised in piety, but yielded to demonic temptation and renounced the Holy Cross, going over to the ruler of Egypt named Amir, and taking up sword in hand he entered into the service of the Arabs. His parents, grieving over the terrible downfall of their son, prayed for him incessantly. And then the grace of God illumined the heart of the prodigal. He deeply repented and returned home. His parents counselled him to openly declare about his fall into darkness and his repentance. Saint Mirax obeyed them. The ruler condemned him to tortures, after which the saint was beheaded and cast into the sea (this occurred not earlier than the year 640).
The Holy Martyrs Akepsios and Haifal hailed from Persia. Akepsios was a pagan priest in the city of Arbel. Having received healing through the prayers of a Christian bishop, he was converted to the faith in Christ and boldly confessed it. For this they threw Saint Akepsios into prison. Soon imprisoned with him was Saint Haifal, a deacon of the Arbel Church. They brought the martyrs before the ruler, where they again confessed their faith and were beheaded.
The Monk Luke the New Pillar-Dweller was a soldier under the Byzantine emperor Constantine Porphyrigenitos (912-959). During the time of a war with Bulgaria (917), Saint Luke through the Providence of God remained unharmed. After this he accepted monasticism, and having succeeded in his efforts, was elevated to the dignity of presbyter. Striving though towards an higher degree of perfection, the monk put chains upon himself and went up upon a pillar. After three years standing aloft, through a Divine inspiration, he went to Mount Olympos, and then to Constantinople, and finally to Chalcedon, where likewise he chose a pillar, upon which he was aloft for 45 years, , manifesting a gift of wonderworking. He died in about the year 980.
© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos