Orthodox River


February 06 2020 - January 24 2020

Nun Xenia (Eusebia) (V). Sainted Gerasim of Velikopermsk (GreatPerm) (Ust’Vymsk) (+ 1441). Martyr John of Kazan (+ 1529). Martyrs Babyla of Sicily and his Disciples Timothy and Agapius (III). Monk Macedonias, Syrian Hermit (+ c. 420). Transfer of Relics of MonkMartyr Anastasias of Persia (VII). Monk Dionysios (XVI). Martyrs Paul, Pausyrios and Theodotion (III). Monk Philonos, Bishop of Kolpasteia (V). PriestMartyr Philippikos and Martyress Barsima. Monk Zosima of Sinai. Martyress Chrysoploca.

The Nun Xenia (V), in the world Eusebia, was the only daughter of an eminent Roman senator. From her youth she yearned for God. In order to evade the marriage set up for her, she secretly left from her parental home together with two servants devoted to her and they set sail upon a ship. Through the Providence of God meeting up with the head of the monastery of the holy Apostle Andrew, which was situated in the city of Milassa, in Caesarea, she besought him to take her with her companions to Milassa. Having changed her name, she called herself Xenia [which in Greek means “stranger” or foreigner"]. At Milassa she bought land, built a church in the name of Saint Stephen and founded a woman’s monastery. Soon after this the bishop of Milassa, Paul, consecrated Xenia a deaconess, as fully worthy of that calling through virtuous life. The saint rendered aid to all: for the destitute she was a benefactress, for the grief-stricken – a comforter, for sinners – a guide. She possessed deep humility, accounting herself worst and most sinful of all. In her ascetic deeds she was guided by the counsels of the Palestinian ascetic, the Monk Euthymios. By her lofty life Saint Xenia attracted many a soul to salvation. The death of the holy virgin, during a time of prayer, was marked by the Lord with the appearance over the monastery in the heavens of an apparition in the form of a luminous crown with a radiant cross amidst it, which accompanied the body of the saint when it was carried into the city to the people, and it stayed until the moment of burial. Many of the sick, having touched to the remains of the saint, received healing.

Sainted Gerasim, Bishop of Velikopermsk (GreatPerm) and Ust’vymsk, was the third bishop of the newly-enlightened Zyryani people, and he was a worthy successor to Sainted Stephen, the Enlightener of Perm. Having been elevated onto the Perm cathedra-seat sometime after the year 1416, he was a participant in Church Sobor-Councils: in that of the year 1438 condemning the Unia and metropolitan Isidor, and in that of the year 1441, which defined the selection of the metropolitan of All Rus’ by means of a Sobor of Russian pastors. The saint unrelentingly concerned himself about his newly-established flock, which suffered raids from Novgorodians, and in particular from the pagan Vogulians – where he fearlessly showed up in their camps urging them to cease the pillaging of villages of the defenseless Perm Christians. During the time of one of his journeys through the Perm land in 1441, he was murdered (according to tradition, strangled with his omophor) by a Vogul servant. He was buried in the cathedral church of the first bishops of Perm, – later becoming the Annunciation church in the village of Ust’Vyma, situated northeast of the city of Yarensk, at the River Vychegda. The celebration of his memory was established in 1607. On 29 January is made a general commemoration to the three Perm Sainted-Hierarchs: Gerasim, Pitirim and Jona.

The Martyr John of Kazan suffered for Christ in the city of Kazan on 24 January 1529. During the reign of greatprince Vasilii Ivanovich the Tatars swooped down upon Nizhni Novgorod. Many of the inhabitants were taken into captivity and led off to Kazan. Among their number was also the fearless John. At the dividing up of the captives he was given over to the khan’s kinsman Alei-Shnura. By day John honestly served his master, but at nights he prayed, going without sleep, patiently enduring insults and abuse. The master resolved to force his involuntary captive to worship Mahomet, but John firmly declared, that he confessed Jesus Christ as the Lord God. In winter the Tatars led him to a Russian graveyard, mortally wounded him with swords and threw him still tied up into the snow. Stumbling in the night, Saint John reached the door of some Russians living in Kazan, where he asked them to summon a priest, and having communed the Holy Mysteries and praying the night, in the morning he died.

The Holy Martyrs Babyla of Sicily and his two Disciples Timothy and Agapius lived during the III Century on the outskirts of Rome. Saint Babyla was born in the city of Reupolium into a rich family, and he was raised by his parents in the Christian faith. While still in his youth he abandoned the world, secretly going from the house of his parents to a mountain, where he spent all his time in fasting, prayer and silence. Together with him asceticised his two disciples: Timothy and Agapius. Fleeing a persecution by the pagans, he set off with his disciples to the island of Sicily, where they converted many of the unbelieving to Christ. The governor of the island, angered by the enlightening activity of Saint Babyla, gave orders to arrest him together with his disciples, and he then gave them over to fierce tortures. The saints patiently endured the sufferings, and all three died from the sword. Their bodies were thrown into a fire, but the flames did not harm the warriors of Christ. They were buried on the island of Sicily by local Christians.

The Monk Macedonias, a Syrian Hermit, lived during the end-IV early-V Centuries. At the start of his ascetic path he led the life of a wanderer, roving through the cities of Phoenicia, Cilicia and Syria for 25 years, and then he found a shelter in a deep ditch and lived under the open sky in the Syrian wilderness, shunning human glory. A multitude of people came out to him, seeking spiritual help and guidance. Only in his old age did he accede to the requests of people to live in a narrow cell built for him. Throughout his continuous life Saint Macedonias ate only barley, ground up and mixed with water, for which he was called “Kritophagos” (“Barley-Eater”) (Grk. ´ç êñéèç’ – “barley” and öá’ãïìáé – to eat). Only when he sensed the decline of his powers did he begin to use soft bread. For his ascetic life he was granted of God the gift to cast out demons and to heal the sick. The monk died in about the year 420, having reached his 70th year of age.

The Monk Dionysios (XVI Century) was born into a family of poor parents in the village of Platina. The infancy of the monk was marked by a sign: over his crib shone the Cross. Fond of reading the Divine books and of prayer from the time of his youth, Saint Dionysios upon the death of his parents decided to accept monasticism and with this aim he set out for Holy Mount Athos. There he settled with a pious elder, the priest Seraphim, and under his guidance he began to lead an ascetic life, in particular keeping strict fast. Thus during Passion Week, having gone off into the forest, he ate only chestnuts. Soon they ordained him to deacon, and then to presbyter.

The lofty life of the monk became known about, and many a monk began to come to him, to hear from him words of edification. The monk also directed onto the path of salvation many a lawless person, among which was a robber, wanting to rob the cell of the saint and was moved by the kindly and wise discourse into profound penitence. The brethren of the Philotheion monastery, having lost their hegumen, besought Saint Dionysios to be their head. Among the brethren, however, insufficient were found choosing him, and dissensions arose. Valuing most of all peace and love, the Monk Dionysios put aside the calling of hegumen and withdrew to Berroeia, and then to Mount Olympos. Here the zealous for monasticism began to flock to him. Dionysios built cells for them and also a church and together with them spent the time in fasting and prayer. Having attained the spiritual heights, he worked many miracles. Many a time, through the prayers of the monk, the Lord punished iniquitous people that oppressed the monks of Olympos or broke the commandments of Christ, – and thus were destroyed by severe drought and by hail the holdings of a Turk, who had expelled the monks and wrecked their monastery; by cattle disease and by sickness also was punished an herdsman, who had oppressed the monastery; a maiden from one of the villages for her impudence was subjected to an assault of the devil. Yet they all, likewise through the prayers of the saint, received healing and deliverance from misfortune, having been led to penitence through the saint’s lack of malice.

The monk compiled a rule for monastic life, himself giving example of monastic activity. On Olympos he built a church, and later also a monastery in the name of the Prophet of God, Elias (Elijah). He bequeathed to the brethren a final testament about monastic life based on the Ustav (Monastic Rule) of the Holy Mountain of Athos.

The monk died in old age, and was buried on Olympos, in the church portico of the monastery founded by him.

The Holy Martyrs Paul, Pausyrios and Theodotion were brothers by birth. They suffered in the III Century in Egypt under Diocletian (284-305).

Sainted Philonos, Bishop of Kolpasteia (island of Crete): He died peacefully in the V Century. To him they attribute a commentary on the Pentateuch of Moses, and an Excursus on the “Song of Songs”.

The PriestMartyr Philippikos the Presbyter and the Martyress Barsima with Two Brothers were beheaded for their confession of faith in Christ.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos