March 01 2020 - February 17 2020
GreatMartyr Theodore of Tyre (+ c. 306). PriestMartyr Ermogen, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, WonderWorker (+ 1612). Monk Feodor (Theodore) the Silent of Pechersk Lavra, in Farther Caves (XIII). Righteous Mariam, Sister of the Apostle Philip (I). Uncovering of Relics of Martyr Menos Kallikelados (867-889). Sainted Auxivius, Bishop of Cypriot Solunum (+ 102). Martyr Theodore of Byzantium (+ 1795). Monk Theodosii (Feodosii) the Bulgarian (+ 1362) and his disciple Roman. Holy Emperor Marcian (+ 457). 17 Martyrs in Syria. Saint Papias. Saint Porphyrios.
The Holy Martyr Theodore of Tyre was a soldier in the city of Alasium of the Pontine district (northeast province of Asia Minor, stretching alongside the coast of the Pontus Euxine, i.e. the Black Sea), under the command of a certain Brincus. They commanded him to offer sacrifice to idols. Saint Theodore firmly and in a loud voice confessed his faith in Christ the Saviour. The commander gave him several days to think it over, during which time Saint Theodore prayed intensely. They charged him with setting afire a pagan temple and threw him into prison for death by starvation. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him there, comforting and encouraging him. Brought again to the governor, Saint Theodore yet once more boldly and fearlessly confessed his faith, for which he was subjected to new torments and condemned to burning. The martyr Theodore without hesitation climbed onto the bon-fire and with prayer and laudation gave up his holy soul to God.
This occurred in about the year 306 under the Roman emperor Gallerius (305-311). Unharmed by the fire, the body of Saint Theodore was buried in the city of Eukhaitakheia, not far from Amasium. His relics were afterwards transferred to Tsar’grad, to a church dedicated to his name. His head is situated in Italy, in the city of Gaeto.
Later on, 50 years after the martyr’s death of Saint Theodore, the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363), wanting to commit an outrage upon the christians, commanded the city-commander of Constantinople during the first week of Great Lent to sprinkle all the food provisions in the market-places with the blood of idol-sacrifices. Saint Theodore, having appeared in a dream to archbishop Eudoxios, ordered him to inform all the christians, – that no one should buy anything at the market-places, but rather to eat cooked wheat with honey – kolivo ( kut’ya or sochivo). In memory of this occurrence the Orthodox Church annually makes celebration of the holy GreatMartyr Theodore of Tyre on Saturday of the first week of Great Lent. On the eve of Saturday, on Friday, in the Divine Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts after the amvon prayer there is read the molieben-kanon to the holy GreatMartyr Theodore, compiled by the monk John Damascene. After this, kolivo is blessed and distributed to the faithful. The celebration to the GreatMartyr Theodore on Saturday of the first week of Great Lent was set by the Patriarch of Constantinople Nektarios (381-397).
The PriestMartyr Ermogen, Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus', was descended from the Don Cossacks. In the testimony of the Patriarch himself, he was priest in the city of Kazan at a church, near the Kazan bazaar, in the name of Sainted Nicholas (Comm. 6 December and 9 May). Soon he became a monk and from 1582 was archimandrite of the Saviour-Transfiguration monastery at Kazan. On 13 May 1589 he was ordained bishop and became the first Kazan metropolitan.
During the service of His Holiness the Patriarch at Kazan there occurred the appearance and discovery of the Wonder-Working Kazan Icon of the Mother of God in the year 1579. Being then still only a priest, but with the blessing of the then Kazan archbishop Jeremii, he carried the newly-appeared icon from the place of its discovery to the Church of Saint Nicholas. Having remarkable literary talent, the saint himself in 1594 compiled an account about the appearance of the wonderworking icon and the miracles accomplished through it. In 1591 the saint gathered newly-baptised Tatars into the cathedral church and during the course of several days instructed them in the faith.
In 1592 there was the transfer of relics of Sainted German, the second archbishop of Kazan (Comm. 25 September, 6 November, and 23 June), who had died at Moscow on 6 November 1567 during the time of a pestilential plague, and buried in Saint Nicholas Church. With the blessing of Patriarch Job (1589-1605), Saint Ermogen made the re-burial at the Sviyazhsk Uspenie monastery. On 9 January 1592 Saint Ermogen directed a letter to Patriarch Job, in which he stated that at Kazan there was celebrated no particular remembrance of the Orthodox soldiers, who gave their life for the Faith and Fatherland beneathe Kazan, and he petitioned to establish an assigned day of memory. At the same time he reported about three martyrs who had suffered at Kazan for their faith in Christ, – one of which was a Russian by the name of John (Comm. 24 January) born at Nizhny Novgorod and captured by the Tatars, while the other two, – Stephen and Peter (Comm. 24 March) were newly-converted Tatars. The saint expressed regret that these martyrs were not inserted into the synodikon read on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, and that memory eternal was not sung for them. In answer to Saint Ermogen, the Patriarch issued an ukaz (decree) of 25 February, which decreed: – “for all the Orthodox soldiers, killed at Kazan and the Kazan surroundings, to celebrate at Kazan and throughout all the Kazan metropolitanate a panikhida on the Saturday following the (1 October) feastday of Pokrov / Protection of the MostHoly Mother of God, and to inscribe them in the great synodikon read on the Sunday of Orthodoxy”, and ordered to inscribe in the synodikon also the three Kazan martyrs, entrusting to Saint Ermogen to set the day of their memory. Saint Ermogen circulated the Patriarchal ukaz throughout his diocese, adding, that in all the churches and monasteries they should celebrate liturgy and panikhida for the three Kazan martyrs and should remember them also at litya and liturgy on 24 January. Saint Ermogen displayed zeal in the faith and firmness in the observance of church traditions, and he concerned himself with the enlightening of Kazan Tatars by the faith of Christ.
In 1595, with the active participation of the saint there occurred the discovery and opening of the relics of the Kazan Wonderworkers: Sainted Gurii, the first archbishop of Kazan (Comm. 4 October, 5 December, 20 June), and Sainted Varsonophii bishop of Tver' (Comm. 4 October, 11 April). Tsar Feodor Ioannovich (1584-1598) had given orders to erect at the Kazan Saviour-Transfiguration monastery a new stone church on the place of the first one, wherein the saints were buried. When the graves of the saints were discovered, Saint Ermogen came with a gathering of clergy, he commanded the graves to be opened and, having beheld the undecayed relics and garb of the saints, he notified the Patriarch and the tsar. With the blessing of Patriarch Job and by order of the tsar, the relics of the newly-appeared wonderworkers were placed in the new church. Saint Ermogen himself compiled the lives of Sainted-hierarchs Gurii and Varsonophii.
Having been deigned the arch-pastoral position – metropolitan Ermogen was chosen to the arch-hierarchical cathedra (chair), and on 3 July 1606 he was elevated to the assemblage / sobor of sainted-hierarchs upon the Patriarchal throne at Moscow Uspensky (Dormition) cathedral. Metropolitan Isidor handed the Patriarch the staff of Sainted-hierarch Peter, Moscow WonderWorker (Comm. 5 October, 21 December, 24 August), and the tsar gave as a gift to the new Patriarch a panagia, embellished with precious stones, a white klobuk and staff. In the ancient manner Patriarch Ermogen made his entrance upon a donkey.
The activity of Patriarch Ermogen co-incided with a difficult period for the Russian state – the incursion of the imposter the False-Dimitrii and the Polish king Sigismund III. The arch-hierarch devoted all his powers to the service of the Church and the Fatherland. Patriarch Ermogen was not alone in this exploit: his self-sacrificing fellow-countrymen copied his example and assisted him. With an especial inspiration His Holiness the Patriarch stood up against the traitors and enemies of the Fatherland, who wanted to install Uniatism and Western Catholicism in Russia and to wipe out Orthodoxy, while enslaving the Russian nation. When the imposter arrived at Moscow and settled himself at Tushino, Patriarch Ermogen dispatched two missives to the Russian traitors. In one of them he wrote: “…You have forgotten the vows of our Orthodox faith, in which we are born, baptised, nourished and raised, ye have violated the oath and the kissing of the cross to stand to the death for the house of the MostHoly Mother of God and for the Moscow realm, but have fallen for your false would-be tsarlet… My soul aches, my heart is sickened, all within me agonises, and all my frame doth shudder; I weep and with sobbing I lament: have mercy, have mercy, brethren and children, on your own souls and your parents departed and living… Consider, how our Fatherland is devastated and plundered by foreigners, who offer insult to the holy icons and churches, and how innocent blood is spilled, crying out to God. Think, against whom do ye take up arms: is it not against God, Who hath created you? Is it not against your own brothers? Do ye not devastate your own Fatherland?… I adjure you in the Name of God, give up your undertaking, there is yet time, that ye perish not at the end”. In the second gramota / document the Arch-hierarch appeals: “For the sake of God, come to your senses and turn round, gladden your parents, your wifes and children; and we stand to pray God for you…”
Soon the righteous judgement of God was realised upon the Tushino thief: a sad and inglorious fate befell him just as it did his predecessor [another false-Dimitrii]; – he was killed by his own close associates on 11 December 1610. But Moscow continued to remain in peril, since in it were situated the Poles and traitor-boyars, having made betrayal to Sigismund III. The gramoti / documents, dispatched by Patriarch Ermogen throughout the cities and villages, exhorted the Russian nation to liberate Moscow from the enemies and to choose a lawful Russian tsar. The Muscovites raised up a rebellion, in answer to which the Poles burned the city, and shut themselves up within the Kremlin. Together with Russian traitors they forcefully seized hold of Patriarch Ermogen from the patriarchal throne and imprisoned him in the Chudov monastery under guard. On Bright Monday in 1611 the Russian militia approached Moscow and began the seige of the Kremlin, which continued for several months. Besieged within the Kremlin, the Poles many a time sent messengers to the Patriarch with the demand that he order the Russian militia to leave the city, threatening for refusal a death by execution. The saint firmly replied: “What are your threats to me? Only God do I fear. If all of you, Lithuanian people, go from the Moscow realm , I shall bless the Russian militia to go from Moscow, but if ye remain here, I shall bless all to stand against you and to die for the Orthodox faith”. While still in prison, the Priest-martyr Ermogen turned with a final missive to the Russian nation, blessing the liberating army against the invaders. The Russian commanders could not come to an agreement over a way to take the Kremlin and free their Arch-hierarch. He languished more than nine months in dreadful confinement, and on 17 February 1612 he died a martyr’s death from starvation.
The liberation of Russia, for which Saint Ermogen stood with such indestructible valour, was successfully concluded by the Russian nation. The body of the Priest-martyr Ermogen was buried in the Chudov monastery, but in 1654 was transferred to the Moscow Uspenie cathedral. The glorification of Patriarch Ermogen into the rank of Sainted-hierarchs occurred on 12 May 1913.
The Monk Feodor (Theodore) the Silent of Pechersk chose the exploit of silence, so as to dwell constantly in thought of God and to safeguard himself in temptation even in word. He was glorified by the Lord with a gift of wonderworking. His memory is celebrated also on 28 August.
Righteous Mariam, – the sister of the holy Apostle from the 12 Philip (Comm. 14 November), made a vow of virginity and became companion of her brother Philip and the holy Apostle Bartholomew (Comm. 11 June), actively assisting them in their apostolic work. The Church historian Nikephoros Kallistos gives an account about their successful preaching in the Phrygian city of Hieropolis, where they were arrested and locked up in prison. They subjected the Apostle Philip to death, hung on a cross, but Saint Mariam and the Apostle Bartholomew were set free. The Apostle Bartholomew set out to preach the Gospel in India. Saint Mariam, having taken up the body of the holy Apostle Philip, preached the Gospel at Likaion (Asia Minor). She died peacefully there.
The Holy Martyr Menos Kallikelades (Krasno-rechivii, i.e. Fine-Speaking), an Anthenian, died a martyr together with Saints Hermogenes and Eugraphos in about the year 313 (Comm. 10 December). During the time of the Constantinople emperor Basilios the Macedonian (867-886), by command of the saint himself who had appeared in a dream to a certain pious man, – his relics were discovered by the military commander Marcian.
Sainted Auxivius was born at Rome in a rich family. He was raised together with his brother Tempstagoras. From an early age he displayed remarkable talents. In the schools of Rome he easily learned the secular sciences. His parents wanted to marry off their son. Having learned of this, the youth secretly departed Rome and set off to the East. Having arrived upon the island of Cyprus, he settled in the environs of Limnitis, not far from the city of Solunum. By the Prescience (Fore-knowing) of God he encountered the holy Disciple and Evangelist Mark (Comm. 27 September, 30 October, 4 January, 25 April), preaching the Word of God at Cyprus. The Disciple Mark established Auxivius as bishop in the city of Solunum, and himself set off for preaching to Alexandria.
Saint Auxivius went towards the western gates of the city and settled near the pagan temple of Zeus. Gradually he converted to Christianity the local pagan-priest and other idol-worshippers. One time Saint Heraklides came to Saint Auxivius. He had been made a bishop in Cyprus earlier by the Disciple Mark, and he consulted with Saint Auxivius to openly preach the Gospel of Christ. One day Saint Auxivius arrived at the market-square and began to preach to the people about Christ. Many, seeing the miracles and the signs worked by the saint, believed in Christ. Among the converted were many people from the surrounding villages. One man, by the name of Auxinios, remained with Saint Auxivius and assisted him in service to the end of his days.
After a certain while there came from Rome the brother of Saint Auxivius, Tempstagoras. He was baptised together with his wife, accepted the presbyteral dignity and served in one of the churches. Sainted Auxivius guided his diocese for 50 years and died peacefully in the year 102, leaving upon the cathedra (chair) his disciple Auxinios.
The Holy Martyr Theodore the Byzantine was a native of the settlement Neokhoreia near Constantinople. In childhood they seduced him into Mahometanism. For his return to the Christian faith he was hung by the Turks in the city of Mytilene in 1795.
The Monks Theodosii (Feodosii) the Bulgarian and his Disciple Roman: The monk Theodosii began his exploit in the city of Viddino, at the Nikolaev monastery. After the death of the hegumen Job he settled not far from Tirnovo, then the capital city of Bulgaria, at the Svyatogorsk monastery of the MostHoly Mother of God in search of a spiritual guide. He left the Holy Mount (Svyatogorsk) monastery and for a long while went about from monastery to monastery. Finally, he learned about the wilderness-monastery termed “Concealed” where in pursuit of asceticism the monk Gregory the Sinaite (Comm. 8 August) had moved from Athos. The monk Theodosii found in him an experienced guide of the contemplative life. The monk Gregory taught: “Before death we lay in hades; whosoever does not recognise sincerely that he is a sinner, that the beasts and cattle are more pure, – that one is more wicked than the demons, in having become their obedient slave”.
The wilderness monastery of the monk Gregory the Sinaite suffered often from robbers. The abba sent the monk Theodosii to the emperor Alexander with a request for defense of the monastery. The pious Bulgarian tsar, at the request of the ascetic, provided him greater means to wall in the monastery by strong walls with towers, and made secure the monastery with grounds and cattle. During the time of his final journey to Tirnovo with an errand of the abba to the tsar, a nobleman turned to the monk Theodosii with a request to take him along to the monastery. The holy ascetic brought him to the monk Gregory the Sinaite. This was Roman, – becoming the sincere and beloved disciple of the monk Theodosii. After the death of the monk Gregory the Sinaite, the monk Theodosii refused to accept being head of the monastery, and together with his disciple Roman he set off from the monastery for solitary efforts. They founded a monastery on an hill round about Tirnovo, afterwards called Theodosiev. The monk Theeodosii was famous as a zealous defender of Orthodoxy against the many heresies then appearing, especially the Bogomils, Judaisers and Messalians. Their false teachings were especially pernicious. The Patriarch and the tsar rendered great help to the monk Theodosii in the struggle with the heretics. In addition to this, the holy ascetic translated Greek writings into the Slavonic language. In 1360 he became grievously ill. Wishing to meet with his friend the monk Kallistos, he set off to him at Tsar’grad, entrusting the guidance of the monastery to his disciple Roman.
On 17 February 1362 the monk Theodosii died at Tsar’grad. His disciple the monk Roman became head of the monastery founded by him.
© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos