December 26 2020 - December 13 2020

Martyrs Eustratios, Auxentios, Eugene (Eugenios), Mandarias and Orestes (+ c. 284‑305). Martyress Lucy (+ 304).

Monk Arkadii of Vyazemsk and Novotorzhsk (XI). Monk Mardarii, Hermit of Pechersk, in Farther Caves (XIII). Monk Arsenios (VIII-X). Monk Nicodemus (Roumanian). Sainted Gabriel, Archbishop of Serbia (+ 1659). Righteous Aris. Martyress Cypriana. Saints Aza and Anastasius.

The Holy Martyrs Eustratios, Auxentius, Eugene (Eugenios), Mardarias and Orestes suffered for Christ under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) at Sebasteia, in Armenia. Among those first Christians then undergoing torture then was the presbyter of the Arabian Church, the Martyr Auxentios, locked up in prison. Looking on at the steadfastness of the Christians was the nobleborn military-commander Saint Eustratios, city-governor of the city of Sataleon. He was secretly a Christian, and he decided on an open confession of faith, for which he was subjected to torture: they beat him, put iron sandals on his feet, and burnt at him with fire. And after these cruel torments they burned him, and beheaded the Martyr Auxentios. Witnessing their death by martyrdom, one of the common people, Saint Mardarias, likewise confessed his faith and was suspended upside down. Before death he uttered the prayer: “O Master Lord God, Father Almighty…”, which is read at the end of the 3rd Hour and at the All-Night Vigil. For the Martyr Eugene (Eugenios) they cut out his tongue, they cut off his hands and feet and then they cut off his head with a sword. The young soldier Saint Orestes confessed himself a Christian and for this stood trial. He was sentenced to burning upon a red-hot iron bed, whither he went encouraged by the prayer of Saint Eustratios (“Greatly I do exalt Thee, O Lord…") which is read at the Saturday All-Night Vigil. The Martyr Eustratios died on 13 December.

The Monk Arkadii of Vyazemsk and Novotorzhsk was from the city of Vyaz’ma of common folk pious parents, who from childhood taught him prayer and obedience. The gentle, perceptive, prudent and good youth chose for his ascetic deed being a fool-for-Christ. He ate by alms, and slept where he put himself, – whether in the forest, or on the church portico. His blessed unconcern and closeness to nature imparted to the figure of young Arkadii a peculiar spiritual aspect and distance from worldly vanity. In church, absorbed in prayer, Saint Arkadii often wept tears of tenderness and spiritual joy. His advice was precise, his predictions happened, and his look intelligent. An experienced guide, the Monk Ephrem – Wonderworker of Novotorzhsk (Comm. 28 January, helped the young ascetic to avoid the spiritual dangers in passing through the difficult and in this time uncommon exploit of foolishness. And after this the people of Vyaz’ma became witnesses of several miracles, done through the prayer of Blessed Arkadii, but he fled human fame and set out along the upper Tvertsa River. Here the Monk Arkadii divided the work with his spiritual guide the Monk Ephrem of Novotorzhsk, and shared together with him in the founding of a church and monastery in honour of the holy Nobleborn Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb (+ 1015; first transfer of their holy relics was in 1072; General Comm. 2 May).

Entering into the new-built monastery, the Monk Arkadii accepted monasticism and took upon himself the exploit of full obedience to his spiritual father, the Monk Ephrem. The Monk Arkadii never missed Liturgy and for Matins he appeared first together with his spiritual guide. After the repose of the Monk Ephrem (28 January 1053), the Monk Arkadii continued to pursue asceticism in accord with the last-wishes of his starets-elder, dwelling in prayer, fasting and quietude. And with the subsequent passage of some years he likewise expired to the Lord (13 December 1077).

In 1594 a chapel in the name of the Monk Arkadii was built at one of the churches of Vyaz’ma. A combined celebration to the Monks Arkadii and Ephrem was established under Metropolitan Dionysii in the years 1584-1587. The relics of the Monk Arkadii, glorified by miracles of healing, were uncovered on 11 July (in earlier times his memory was celebrated on this day) 1677, in a stone crypt of the Borisoglebsk cathedral of the city of Torzhk. In 1841 on the left side of the Borisogleb cathedral church was built a chapel in honour of the Monk Arkadii. Solemn celebration of the 300 years from the time of the uncovering of the holy relics of the Monk Arkadii took place in the city of Torzhk in the year 1977.

The Monk Mardarii, Hermit of Pechersk, asceticised in the Farther Caves during the XIII Century. According to the manuscript calendar, in the tropar and kondak he is called “non-covetous”, and by the superscription over the relics – “without cell”. His name is remembered in the 7th Ode of the Service of the Sobor-Assemblage of the Fathers of the Farther Caves (28 August) together with the Monk Ammon (Comm. 4 October), where he is called a “zealot of poverty”. He was buried in the Farther Caves. His memory is celebrated also on 28 August and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.

The Monk Arsenios, the son of rich, illustrious and pious parents, was born at Constantinople. The emperor decorated him and made him military-commander and a patrician of the Cyberrhiote military thema. One time, when he was sailing with his soldiers upon the sea, a storm came up. The ships sank. Of all the soldiers only Saint Arsenios was saved. After this he accepted monasticism and he wearied the flesh by fasting, vigil and fetters. After such doings he came to a certain place on Mount Latros, situated in Asia Minor. There he killed a poisonous viper by his prayer and the sign of the cross, and then he settled in the nearby Kelliboreia monastery on the north side of the mountain, where he was chosen hegumen. From the monastery the Monk Arsenios set off to a cave, where he repelled wild beasts by prayer. Brethren gathered to him. Usually he sat the entire week in the narrow cell, and on Sunday he took food and instructed the brethren. Finally, the Monk Arsenios attained such perfection, that he was nourished by an Angel. By his staff he changed bitter water into sweet, and having done many other miracles, he peacefully died amidst the brethren.

They suggest the lifetime of the Monk Arsenios as between the VIII and X Centuries.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos