Orthodox River


February 08 2020 - January 26 2020

Monk Xenophontes, his wife Maria and their sons Arkadios and John (V-VI). Monk Ksenofont of Robeiki (+ 1262). Martyrs Ananias the Presbyter, Peter the Prison Guard and with them 7 Soldiers (+ 295). Monk Simeon the Old (+ c. 390). Transfer of Relics of Monk Theodore, Hegumen of Studite Monastery (845). Sainted Joseph, ArchBishop of Soluneia (+ 830). NobleBorn David III the Restorer, Emperor of Iveria and Abkhazia (+ 1125). Sainted Ammon. Monk Gabriel, Hegumen of Jerusalem (V). Two Martyrs suffering at Phrygia. Monk Clement the Pillar-Dweller (+ 1111). Saint Paula the Widow (+ 404).

The Monk Xenophontes, his spouse Maria and their sons Arkadios and John, were noted citizens of Constantinople and lived in the V Century. Despite riches and position, they distinguished themselves by their simplicity of soul and goodness of heart. Wishing to give their sons John and Arkadios a more complete education, they sent them off to the Phoenician city of Beirut. Through Divine Providence the ship on which both brothers sailed became ship-wrecked. The brothers were pitched by the waves onto shore at different places. Aggrieved at being separated, the brothers dedicated themselves to God and accepted monasticism. For a long time the parents received no news about their children and presumed them to have perished. Xenophontes, however, now already quite old, maintained firm hope in the Lord and consoled his wife Maria, telling her not to sorrow but to believe that their children were watched over by the Lord. After several years the spouses made pilgrimage to the Holy places and at Jerusalem they met their sons, pursuing asceticsm at different monasteries. The joyful parents gave thanks to the Lord for providently re-uniting the whole family. For the remainder of their lives, the monastics Xenophontes and Maria dedicated themselves to God and accepted monasticism. The Monks Arkadios and John, having taken leave of their parents, went out into the wilderness, where after long ascetic toil they were glorified by gifts of wonderworking and perspicacity. The monastic elders Xenophontes and Maria, having pursued asceticism in silence and strict fasting, also received of God the gift of wonderworking.

Monk Ksenofont of Robeiki: the account about him is located under 28 June.

The Holy Martyrs Ananias the Presbyter, Peter the Prison Guard, and with them 7 Soldiers, suffered in Phoenicia in the year 295. During the time of persecution against christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), Saint Ananias was brought before Maximus the governor of Phoenicia, for confessing faith in Christ and refusal to worship idols. They beat him with hammers, burnt at him with fire, and on his scorched body they sprinkled salt. After his terrible sufferings, an idolatrous temple and the idols standing in it were destroyed through the prayers of the holy martyr. They locked up the holy martyr in prison. Stationed as witnesses to the tortures of holy presbyter Ananias and guarding him, were Peter and 7 other soldiers who came to believe in Christ. For this they were drowned in the sea after lengthy torture. For their act of martyrdom they, together with the holy martyr Ananias, received from Christ crowns of glory.

The Monk Simeon the Old was called this in distinction from the Monk Simeon the Stylite (Comm. 1 September). He practised asceticism in Syria in the V Century, and in his childhood years went out into the Syrian wilderness and settled in a cave in complete solitude. Constant prayer, inner meditation and thought about God were his constant occupation. The ascetic ate only the grass which grew about his cave. When people began to come to him to receive guidance, he in wishing to preserve his silence left his cave and settled on one of the mountains of the Aman range. But here also his ascetic solitude was disturbed by a throng of visitors. The Monk Simeon then withdrew onto Mount Sinai, where formerly the Prophet Moses (Comm. 4 September) received revelation from God. By Divine Providence, after a short stay on Sinai the holy ascetic returned to Aman and founded two monasteries: one at the top of the mountain, the other at its base. Being head of these monasteries, the Monk Simeon spiritually guided the monks, warning them about the wiles of the enemy of humankind, and he taught them to struggle against temptations. He inspired and encouraged them in ascetic deeds, rousing them to meditate about salvation. Because of the holiness of his life the Monk Simeon received of God the gift of grace-abundant wonderworking. After the many toils of his ascetic life the Monk Simeon expired to God in about the year 390.

The Transfer of the Relics of the Monk Theodore, Hegumen of the Studite Monastery, from Akritian Chersonessus to Constantinople occurred in the year 845. The account about the monk Theodore the Studite is located under 11 November.

Sainted Joseph, ArchBishop of Soluneia / Thessalonika, was brother of the Monk Theodore the Studite, and together with him pursued asceticism under the guidance of the Monk Platon (Comm. 5 April) at the Sakudion Monastery. Because of his ascetic life, the monk Joseph was unanimously chosen archbishop of the city of Soluneia. Together with his brother he came out against the unlawful marriage of the emperor Constantine (780-797), for which after torture he was condemned to confinement on a wild island. The emperor Michael Rangabes (811-813) freed Saint Joseph from imprisonment. Under the emperor Leo V the Armenian (813-820) the sainted hierarch again suffered together with his brother the monk Theodore for their veneration of holy icons. In prison they subjected him to torture, but he remained steadfast in his faith. The iconoclast emperor demanded him to sign the iconoclast confession of faith; for his refusal they threw him into another more fetid prison. Under the emperor Michael the Stammerer (820-829) Saint Joseph was set free, together with other monks that had suffered for their veneration of icons. He spent his final years at the Studite Monastery, where he died in 830. Sainted Joseph, ArchBishop of Soluneia, is reknown as a spiritual melodist. He compiled three odes and stikhera of the Lenten Triodion, a canon of repentance for the Sunday of Prodigal Son and other church-song. He wrote several sermons for feastdays, of which the best known is the Sermon on the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross of the Lord.

Holy NobleBorn David III the Restorer, Emperor of Iveria and Abkhazia (1089-1125; by other accounts 1084-1125; in the contemporary writings of David IV the Builder), – influenced the working of government, culture and church in Gruzia / Georgia. He was educated by his priest – the monk Arsenii of Ikaltoi (+ 1127, Comm. 6 February), reknown for his theological and encyclopaeic learning.

The Gruzian nation gave Holy Tsar David the title “Restorer” (Vozobnovitel’) for his great efforts to renew Gruzia for his great effort in the restoration of Gruzia and the re-invigoration of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Gruzia, mercilessly devastated by the Turks and suffering from internal strife, was united under the sceptre of David the Restorer into a strong centralised state. The Georgian Church, whose flourishing the tsar considered to be a guarantee for the security and unity of the state, became an object of his particular care. Saint David was distinguished for his deep piety – he sacredly honoured the church canons and by his power kept and affirmed them. Through the initiative of Saint the Restorer, a Church Council was convened in the year 1103 at Ruisa, the decrees of which contributed to the strengthening of the canonical life of the Church and affirming church piety.

An highly educated man, Saint David patronised a diversity of sciences. He founded the scholarly academies at Gelatia and Ikaltoi. During the reign of Saint David the Restorer, tens of churches and monasteries were built in Gruzia, and he built new cities and renewed old ones. The pious tsar displayed great concern for the well-being and prosperity of Georgian monasteries in Palestine and on Sinai, in Antioch and on Holy Mount Athos. When Saint David decided to erect a church in the name of the GreatMartyr George, to whose patronage he constantly resorted in his wars for liberation, Saint George appeared to him then in a vision and showed him the place for raising up the temple.

Thinking of peace-making as fulfillment of the Lord’s commandment (Mt. 5: 9), Tsar David reconciled the Kipchak khan Atrak with the Ossetian people and brought peace into the Dar’yal’ Valley.

In 1123, shortly before his death, the pious tsar liberated Armenia from Turkish dominion. He ordered churches to again be reconsecrated, having been transformed by the Turks into mosques. According to tradition, when the tsar entered into one of the churches to the grave of his grandmother – the spouse of the Armenian emperor Gagik I, and said: “Rejoice, tsaritsa! God hath delivered thy church from the Hagarites”, suddenly a voice was heard: “Thanks be to God!” The concern of Tsar David about reunion with the Armenian Church resulted in the convocation of a Church Council in the city of Ano, at which a part of the Armenian monophysite bishops swayed towards an acceptance of Orthodoxy (but in its entirety the Sobor did not arrive at the desired results). The patriotic efforts of Saint David did not hinder him from accomplishing spiritual efforts. From his early years the saint had the foundation of wisdom – the fear of God (Proverbs 1: 7), inspiring him to good deeds and aims. A beloved preoccupation of saint David was the reading of Holy Scripture. The “Penitential Kanon” composed by him testifies to his profound spirituality, and consists of nine sorrowful and moving odes.

Sensing the approach of death, holy Tsar David composed a spiritual testimony in which, having transferred the ruling of the country to his son Dimitrii, he wrote: “Now doth the Divine Providence of the Righteous God call me away, and it summon to the destined kingdom… All that I have accomplished is by the power of the Venerable LifeCreating Wood of the Cross and to it I do account its Sign bringing me bliss”. Having been communed the Holy Mysteries, “with praise on his lips he offered up his soul to the Lord in his 53rd year of life, on Saturday 24 January 1125”. The tsar was buried at Gelatia Monastery, under the entrance to the church at the gate. Some while later his relics, having been glorified by signs of Divine mercy, were transferred beneathe the altar-table of the cathedral church. At the end of the XIII Century holy tsar David III the Restorer was beatified, and a service then was composed to him. His commemoration is celebrated on 26 January.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos