January 21 2020 - January 08 2020
Monk George Khozebites (VII) and Monk Emilian the Confessor (IX). Nun Domnica (+ c. 474).
Monk Gregory, Wonderworker of Pechersk, in Nearer Caves (+ 1093). Monk Gregory, Hermit of Pechersk, in Farther Caves (XIII-XIV). PriestMartyr Isidor the Presbyter and 72 Others suffering with him at Yur’ev from the Livonians (+ 1472). Monk Paisii of Uglich (+ 1504). PriestMartyr Karterias, Presbyter of Caesarea Cappadocia (+ 304). Martyrs Theophilos the Deacon and Helladias the Layman (IV). Martyrs Julian, Celsius, Anthony, Anastasias, Martyresses Basilissa and Marionilla, and 7 Youths and 20 Soldiers (+ 313). Monk Ilias of Egypt (V). Martyr Abo of Tbilela (+ 786). Sainted Cyrus, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 714). Sainted Atticos, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 425). Sainted Gregory, Bishop of Myzium (+ 1012). Martyr Eugene with Theophilos. Saint Zotikos. Sainted Theoktistos the Bishop.
The Monk Gregory Khozebites was born on the island of Crete. At the death of his parents he set off to Palestine to venerate at the holy places. Here he entered into the Khuzebite monastic community, situated between the River Jordan and Jerusalem, and he later became head of this monastery. The Monk George presented the monks example in fasting, vigil and physical efforts. Having lived upon the earth as though incorporeal, he died peacefully (VII).
The Nun Domnica came from Carthage to Constantinople during the time of the holy Emperor Theodosius the Great. Here she accepted Baptism from Patriarch Nektarios and entered a women’s monastery. By means of strict and prolonged ascetic effort she attained to high spiritual perfection. The saint healed the sick, demonstrated power over the natural elements, and predicted the future. By her miracles the saint moved inhabitants of the capital towards concerns about life eternal and the soul. Adorned by virtues, the saint expired from life a spotless virgin in her old age (+ 474).
The Monk Gregory was tonsured into monasticism at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery during the time of the Monk Theodosii (+ 1074, Comm. 3 May). The saint devoted much time to the reading of books, which were his sole possession. The monk had the ability to bring thieves to their senses. Several times robbers broke in on him in his cell or in the garden, but the saint mildly reasoned with them; the thieves became repentant, straightened themselves out and from that time they began to lead honest lives.
One time, when the monk went to the Dneipr River for water, young fellows marching off on a campaign with prince Rostislav, caught sight of the elder and began rudely to laugh and mock at him. The saint answered them: “Children, it becometh ye to be contrite and ask for my prayers, since over you is already decided the judgement of God. All ye together with your prince will find death in the water”. By orders of the enraged prince Rostislav, the monk was bound hand and foot and with a stone about his neck he was drowned in the Dneipr. But his prediction came true. Rostislav did not return from the campaign. In that same year of 1093 the twenty year old prince drowned in view of his brother, Vladimir Monomakh, trying to save himself in flight from the Polovetsians.
Several sources identify Saint Gregory with the Monk Gregory, a compiler of canons commemorating holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir, the Monk Theodosii, and the holy Martyrs Boris and Gleb. But the Monk Gregory, compiler of canons, lived later and died in about the year 1120. The Monk Gregory the Wonderworker died in 1093 and was buried in the Nearer Caves. His memory is made also on 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Monk Gregory, Hermit of Pechersk, lived during the XIV Century. In the “Accounts of the Lives of the Saints, Reposed in the Cave of the Monk Theodosii”, it says, that uncooked grass served as the food of the Monk Gregory all his life. He gave this grass to those coming to him, and the sick were healed. His memory is also 28 August and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The PriestMartyr Isidor was priest of the Nikol’sk church in the city of Yur’ev (Derpto, at present Taru in Estonia). According to the terms of a treaty concluded in 1463 between the Moscow Greatprince Ivan III and the Livonian knights, the latter were obligated to extend to the Orthodox at Derpto every protection. But the Livonian knights broke the treaty and began to try forcing the Orthodox into the Unia. Presbyter Isidor bravely stood forth in defense of Orthodoxy. He preferred to accept a martyr’s crown rather than submit to the Catholics. Blessed Isidor together with 72 of his parishioners were drowned in the ice-hole, cut open on the feast of Theophany after the blessing of waters in the River Amovzha (or Emaiyga, now Emajogi). In Spring, during a time of flooding, the undecayed bodies of the holy martyrs, and among them the fully-vested body of the PriestMartyr Isidor, were found by Russian merchants journeying along the River bank. They buried the saints around the Nikol’sk church.
The Monk Paisii of Uglich: the account is situated under 6 June.
The Holy Martyr Julian was born in the Egyptian city of Antinoe, and to satisfy his parents he entered into marriage with the nobleborn and rich maiden, Basilissa. In marriage the spouses remained virginal. Upon the death of their parents they built two monasteries: a men’s and a women’s, and they themselves accepted monasticism and headed these monasteries. In the year 313, during the reign of Diocletian, Saint Julian suffered cruelly for his faith in Christ. But by his bravery he converted Celsius, the son of his torturer the hegemon Marcian, and also that one’s wife, Marionilla. Having resurrected a dead pagan, the saint converted him also. The converts received Baptism from Presbyter Anthony. In Baptism the pagan was given the name Anastasias (i.e. “Resurrected”). After imprisonment they all accept a martyr’s crown, won through beheading by the sword. With them also were numbered 20 soldiers and 7 youths.
The Monk Ilias the Egyptian, having accepted monasticism, pursued asceticism for 75 years on a desolate mountain in a stone cave, and he died in the IV Century at age 110.
The Martyr Abo of Tbilela (Tbilisi), an Arab by descent, lived during the VIII Century in Baghdad and was a preparer of fragrant ointments. At 17-18 he found himself in Tbilisi, having followed the ruler of Kartla (Eastern Gruzia), Nerses. Nerses, having been slandered before the caliph, had spent three years at Baghdad imprisoned; but having been set free by a new caliph, he took Abo with him. In Tbilisi Abo learned the Gruzian (Georgian) language. By his virtues he gained the love and respect of the people. Abo began to study the Holy Scripture and quite frequently to visit the temples of God. Persevering in fasting and prayer, he sought the proper moment, to accept holy Baptism. During this time the ruler of Kartla, Nerses, was again denounced before the caliph and summoned to Baghdad. Nerses, wanting to flee retribution, journeyed north to Khazaria. In his retinue of 300 men was also Abo. In Khazaria he accepted holy Baptism. After several more months of following Nerses, Abo found himself at Abkhazia. He led there a strict ascetic life, constantly meditating upon the Holy Scripture, and he prayed long at church services. The pious life of Saint Abo became known both to the ruler and the bishop of Abkhazia. They often invited Saint Abo for spiritual conversation, marvelling at his deep faith and knowledge. But in wishing to shun earthly glory, and impressed by the exploit of the Monk Anthony the Great, Saint Abo devoted himself to quietude, and only after three months, on the day of the Radiant Resurrection of Christ did he break his silence, glorifying and preaching the Resurrection of the Saviour.
Nerses soon decided to return to Tbilisi, and Abo fearlessly followed him, although the ruler of Abkhazia besought him to remain, fearing for his fate. At Tbilisi, situated then under the power of the Mahometans, Saint Abo openly confessed Christ the Saviour, and by this he drew down upon himself the vindictive wrath of the Persians. Saint Abo was locked up in prison, and then brought to trial. They tried to get him to return to Mahometanism at first by persuasion and by promises of all sorts of riches and honours. But when they saw, that Abo remained unyielding, they again threw him in prison. On the 9th day of imprisonment an Angel of the Lord revealed to Saint Abo about the impending day of his martyr’s death.
At the third hour of the feast of Theophany Saint Abo received the Holy Mysteries and was soon led away by the guards for execution. Hoping by means of fear to compel a recanting from Christ, they three times struck at Saint Abo with the blunt side of the sword. The martyr however remained steadfast. He then died through the cutting off of his venerable head on that day, a Friday, 6 January 786.
The body of Saint Abo was smeared with naphtha and set afire at the rock-cleft edge of that place, where later was built the Tbilisi Metekhsk church. “The Lord did send to this place a star, shining like unto a lampada, which stood in the air until the third hour of the night and moreso… and itself did illumine all Tiflis”. The bones of Saint Abo were thrown over a bridge into the River Kura. On the next day, 7 January, they were glorified by a wondrous pillar of light coming out of the water, about which testified the contemporary of Saint Abo, John Sabanisdze, who compiled his life.
© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos