January 24 2020 - January 11 2020
Monk Theodosios the Great, Founder of Coenobitic (Life-in-Common) Monasticism (+ 529).
Monk Michael of Klopsk and Novgorod (+ c. 1453-1456). Monk Theodosios of Antioch (+ c. 412). Sainted Theodosios of Trapezund (XIV). Saints Stephen, Theodore and Archimandrite Agapius. Martyr Mairus. Saint Romil the Hermit (XIII) (Serbia). Martyr Terence.
Fir-Tree (Eletska) Icon of the Mother of God. Egyptian Icon of the Mother of God.
The Monk Theodosios the Great lived during the V-VI Centuries, and was the initiator of common-life (coenobitic) monasteries. He was born in Cappadocia of pious parents. Endowed with a splendid voice, he zealously toiled at church reading and singing. And the Monk Theodosios prayed fervently, that the Lord would guide him on the way to salvation. In his early years he visited the Holy Land and met with the Monk Simeon the Stylite (“Pillar-Dweller”, + 459, Comm. 1 September), who blessed him and predicted future pastoral service for him. Yearning for the solitary life, Saint Theodosios settled in Palestine into a desolate cave, – in which by tradition, the three Magi had spent the night, having come to worship at the Nativity of the Saviour of the world. In it he dwelt for 30 years in great abstinence and unceasing prayer. Steadily there began to throng to the ascetic those wanting to live under his guidance. When the cave could no more hold all the gathered monks, the Monk Theodosios began to pray, that the Lord Himself would point out the place for the monks. Taking with him a censer with cold unlit coals, the monk went into the wilderness. At a certain spot the coals fired up and set the incense smoke to rising. Here also the monk founded the first common-life monastery, or Lavra [Greek “Laura” meaning “broad” or populous"; in Russia were four such: Trinity-Sergeev, Kievo-Pechersk, Alexander-Nevsk and Pochaev], under the ustav-rule of Saint Basil the Great (+ 379, Comm. 1 January). Soon the Lavra of the Monk Theodosios became reknown, and up to 700 monks gathered at it. According to the final testament of the Monk Theodosios, the Lavra rendered service to neighbour, giving aid to all the poor and providing shelter for wanderers.
The Monk Theodosios was extremely compassionate. One time when there was a famine in Palestine and a multitude of people gathered at the monastery, the monk gave orders to allow everyone into the monastery enclosure. His disciples were annoyed, knowing, that the monastery did not have the means to feed all those who had come. But when they went into the bakery, they saw that then through the prayers of the abba, that it was filled with bread. And suchlike a miracle was repeated every time, when the Monk Theodosios wanted to give help to the destitute.
At the monastery the Monk Theodosios built an home for taking in strangers, separate infirmaries for monks and laymen, and also a shelter for the dying. Seeing that at the Lavra were gathered people from various lands, the monk arranged for Divine-services in the various languages – Greek, Gruzian (Georgian) and Armenian. For communing the Holy Mysteries all gathered in the large church, where Divine-services were done in Greek.
During the reign of the Constantinople emperor Anastasias (491-518) there arose the heresy of Eutykhios and Severus, which recognised neither the sacraments nor the clergy. The emperor joined in with the false-teaching, and the Orthodox began to suffer persecution. The Monk Theodosios stood firmly in defense of Orthodoxy and on behalf of the wilderness monks wrote a missive to the emperor, in which they denounced him and refuted the condemned heresy with the teachings of the OEcumenical Councils. He affirmed moreover, that the wilderness-dwellers and monks would firmly support the Orthodox confession. The emperor showed restraint for a short while, but then he renewed persecution of the Orthodox. The holy elder then manifest great zeal for the truth. Leaving the monastery, he came to Jerusalem and in the “Great” church, stood at the high place and cried out for all to hear: “Whoever honoureth not the four OEcumenical Councils, let them be anathema!”. For this bold deed the monk was sent to prison, but soon returned after the death of the emperor.
The Monk Theodosios during his life accomplished many healings and other miracles, coming to the aid of the needy. One time by prayer he destroyed locusts that were devastating the fields in Palestine; also by his intercession, soldiers were kept from perishing, and he saved both those perishing in shipwreck and those lost in the desert.
One time the monk gave orders to strike the signal, so that the brethren would gather at prayer, and said: “The wrath of God draweth near the Eastern land”. After several days it became known, that a strong earthquake had destroyed the city of Antioch at that very hour, when the monk had summoned the brethren to prayer. Before his death, the Monk Theodosios summoned to him three beloved bishops and revealed to them, that he would soon expire to the Lord. After three days he died at the age of 105, in the year 529. The body of the saint was buried with reverence in the cave, in which he lived at the beginning of his ascetic deeds.
The Monk Michael of Klopsk was descended of boyar (noble) lineage, and he was a kinsman of GreatPrince Dimitrii Donskoi (1363-1389). He took upon himself the exploit of Fool-for-Christ: he left Moscow and in rags he arrived at the Klopsk monastery, near Novgorod. No one knew, how he got into the locked cell of the priest-monk Makarii, who then was making a censing at the 9th Ode of the Canon and was going round the cell censing. But there sat a man in monastic garb and beneathe a candle he wrote copying from the Acts of the holy Apostles. After the finish of matins the hegumen with brethren came and started to ask the stranger: who is he and of what name? But he answered only by a repeating of the questions and did not reveal his origin. In church the saint sang in the choir and read the Epistle, and at meals he read the Saint-Lives. All who listened were moved by the beauty and spirituality of his reading. On the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, the Klopsk monastery was visited by prince Konstantin Dimitrievich (son of GreatPrince Dimitrii Donskoi). After Communion he together with the princess was at the refectory, during the time of which the unknown stranger read from the Book of Job. Hearing the reading, the prince approached the reader and, having looked him over, he bowed down to him, calling him by name his kinsman Mikhail Maksimovich. The fool remarked: “The One Only Creator knoweth of me, who I be”, but confirmed that his name was Michael. The Monk Michael soon set example for the brethren in all the monastic efforts. He lived at the Klopsk monastery for 44 years, exhausting his body in work, vigils and various deprivations, and he received from the Lord the gift of perspicacity. He denounced the vices of people, not fearing the powerful of this world. He predicted the birth on 22 January 1440 of GreatPrince Ivan III (1462-1505), and the taking of Novgorod by him. He denounced prince Dimitrii Shemyaka for blinding his brother the GreatPrince Vasilii the Dark (1425-1462).
On a sandy spot the Monk Michael summoned forth a spring of water, having written upon the earth: “I shalt take up the cup of salvation (Ps. 115 : 13), let shew forth on this spot the well-spring”. And during a time of famine, the supplies of bread at the monastery granary did not diminish, though they distributed grain abundantly to the hungry.
Having directed beforehand the place of his burial, the monk died on 11 January (+ c. 1453-1456).
The Monk Theodosios of Antioch in his early years left the rich home of his illustrious parents and entered upon the strait and arduous path of asceticism. He settled into a small cell on the shore of the Gulf of Isska, in the surroundings of the city of Ossos. The saint vexed his body with the making of poklons (prostrations) and by laying upon the bare ground; he wore an hairshirt and heavy iron chains. His hair grew out such, that it covered his feet. By continuous feats of fasting and prayer he conquered the fleshly and spiritual passions, he quieted his temper, drove away unclean thoughts; he toiled much, tilling his garden and occupying himself with the plaiting of rope. In his native land the Monk Theodosios founded a monastery (Skupela). He imparted to the monks a love for bodily toil and for spiritual deeds. The Monk Theodosios with especial solicitude had concern for strangers. The sublime life of the saint was known even far beyond the bounds of the monastery. Both Christians and pagans knew him. Seafarers in time of peril called out for help from the God “of Theodosios”. It happened that from the mere name of the Monk Theodosios the waves of the sea were calmed. Brigands feared and respected him, and besought his prayers. Fleeing the praise of people, the saint settled near the village of Maraton, founding here the Maratoneia monastery. In it the great ascetic peacefully finished the days of his God-pleasing life (+ c. 412).
Sainted Theodosios, Hegumen of Athos, Metropolitan of Trapezund, was born in the village of Koritsa, near the Kastorian hills. At 18 years of age he accepted monasticism at Constantinople and set off to Athos, to the Philotheion monastery, in which he led a strict ascetic life. He was chosen hegumen of the monastery, and afterwards was made metropolitan of the Trapezund Church, and he died in the city of Trapezund in the XIV Century.
© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos