July 14 2020 - July 01 2020

Holy UnMercenaries Cosmas and Damian, Suffering at Rome (+ 284). Martyrs: Potitus (II); Constantine the Wonderworker and those with him (IV); 25 Nicomedean Martyrs, and another 2,000 Martyrs. Monks: Peter the Patrician (+ 854); Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain (“Nikodim Svyatogorets” + 1809); Basil (IX); Leo the Wilderness-Dweller. Saints Perpetua, Paul and those with them. Righteous Angelina, Despotess of Serbia (XVI).

The Holy Martyrs, Wonderworkers and UnMercenaries Cosmas and Damian – were brothers by birth, born at Rome, and physicians by profession. They accepted a martyr’s death at Rome under the emperor Carinus (283-284). They were brought up by their parents in the rules of piety, they led strict and chaste lives, and they were granted by God the graced gift of healing the sick. By their good and unselfish attitude towards people, combined with their exceptional kindliness, the brothers converted many to Christ. The saints usually said to the sick: “It be not by our power that we treat the sick, but by the power of Christ, the True God. Believe in Him and be healed”. For their unselfish doctoring of the infirm, the holy brothers were called “unmercenary physicians”.

Their active service towards neighbour and spiritual influence on the surroundings, leading many into the Church, attracted the attention of the Roman authorities. Soldiers were sent after the brothers. Hearing about this, Christians implored Saints Cosmas and Damian to hide themselves away for a while until they could render them help. But the soldiers, not finding the brothers, arrested instead other Christians of the settlement, where the saints lived. Saints Cosmas and Damian then came out of hiding and delivered themselves over into the hands of the soldiers, asking them to set free those arrested because of them.

At Rome, the saints were at first locked up in prison, and then were taken for trial. The saints openly confessed before the Roman emperor and the judge their faith in Christ God, having come into the world to save mankind and redeem the world from sin, and they resolutely refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. They said: “We have caused evil for no one, we have not involved ourselves with the magic or sorcery, of which you accuse us. We doctor the infirm by the power of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and we do not take any sort of recompense for rendering aid to the sick, because our Lord commanded His disciples: “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Mt. 10: 8).

The emperor however continued with his demands. Through the prayer of the holy brothers, imbued with the power of grace, God suddenly struck Carinus blind, so that he too in his own experience might know the almightiness of the Lord, not forgiving blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The people, beholding the miracle, cried out: “Great is the Christian God and no other is God, except Him!” Many of those that believed besought the holy brothers to heal the emperor, and he himself implored the saints, promising to convert to the True God Christ the Saviour. The saints healed him. After this, Saints Cosmas and Damian were with honour set free and again they set about doctoring the sick.

But what the hatred of the pagans and the ferocity of the Roman authorities could not do, was done by black envy, one of the strongest passions of the sinful nature of man. An older physician – an instructor, under whom in their time the holy brothers had studied the medical craft, became jealous of their fame. Driven to madness by this malice, and all overcome by passion, he summoned the holy brothers, formerly his most beloved students, that they should all get together for a gathering of various medicinal herbs, and setting far off into the mountains, he murdered them, throwing their bodies into a river.

Thus as martyrs ended the earthly journey of these holy brothers – the Unmercenary Healers Cosmas and Damian. They had devoted all their life to a Christian service to neighbour, having escaped the Roman sword and prison, but treacherously murdered by a teacher.

The Lord glorified His God-pleasing ones. And now through the prayers of the holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian is received healing from God for all, who with faith recourse to their saintly intercession.

The Holy Martyr Potitus suffered under the emperor Antoninus (138-161). His father was a pagan, but the youth, at but 13 years of age having become familiar with the Christian teaching, believed in the True God and accepted holy Baptism. Having learned of this, his father was extremely upset and tried at first by endearment, and then also by threats to dissuade his son from faith in Christ the Saviour. His efforts, however, were in vain. Impressed by the firmness of faith in the lad, the father himself likewise came to believe in the Son of God and became a Christian.

Saint Potitus travelled through many lands preaching about Christ and by the power of God he worked wondrous miracles.

In a region, called Epirus, there lived the illustrious woman named Kyriakia, wife of a senator, but afflicted with leprosy. Hearing about Saint Potitus, she summoned him and besought healing. The saint declared, that if she believed in Christ, she would be healed. The woman accepted holy Baptism and was immediately healed. Seeing such a miracle, her husband and all the household believed and were likewise baptised.

After this, the saint settled on Mount Gargara and lived in solitude, amidst the birds and the beasts. He was found there by servants of the emperor Antoninus, whose daughter was afflicted with demonic possession. The devil said through the lips of the maiden, that he would come out of her only with the coming of Potitus. They brought the holy youth to the emperor, and through the prayers of Saint Potitus the sick girl received healing. But in place of gratitude, the emperor treated the saint with inhuman cruelty. For his firm confession of faith in Christ the Saviour and his refusal to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, to which the emperor imputed the healing of his daughter, they tore out the tongue from Saint Potitus and blinded him. After lengthy torture, the saint was then beheaded.

The Monk Peter was born at the end of the VIII Century at Constantinople into a patrician family. During the reign of the Byzantine emperor Nicephorus (802-811) Peter was appointed as a military-commander and participated in the campaigns of the Greek army against Bulgaria. In one of the battles the Greeks suffered a set-back. The emperor was mortally wounded, and Peter amidst many other soldiers was taken captive.

One time by night, during a time of fervent prayer, the holy Evangelist John the Theologian appeared to him in a vision and released him from captivity. Having returned to Constantinople, Saint Peter left the world and withdrew into a monastery on Mount Olympos (Asia Minor) and became a monk. There he passed his time in constant ascetic efforts for 34 years under the guidance of the Monk Joannikios the Great (Comm. 4 November). The Monk Peter spent the whole time of his monastic life in strict fast and constant vigil, he wore a prickly hair-shirt and went about bare of foot. He lived the final 8 years of his life at Constantinople, where he founded a church and a monastery in the name of Saint Euandros.

The Monk Peter died in his seventieth year of life (+ 854) and was buried in his monastery.

The Monk Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain (Nikodim Svyatogorets), in Baptism Nicholas, was born in the year 1748 on the Greek island of Naksos. At age 26 he arrived on Holy Mount Athos and there, in the Dionysiata monastery, he accepted monastic tonsure with the name Nicodemos.

The Monk Nicodemos at first bore the obedience of reader and letter-writer. Two years after his entry into the monastery on Athos, there arrived there the metropolitan of Corinth, Makarios, who entrusted to the young monk the preparation for publication of the manuscript of the “Philokalia” (“Dobrotoliubie”), found by him in 1777 at the Batopedeia monastery. Work upon this book was the beginning of many years of literary work by the Monk Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain. The young monk soon transferred to the Pantokrator skete monastery, and was under obedience to the monastic-elder Arsenios Peloponnesos, under the guidance of whom he zealously studied Holy Scripture and the works of the holy fathers. In 1783 the Monk Nicodemos became schema-monk and for six years he dwelt in complete silence. When metropolitan Makarios of Corinth again arrived on Athos, he imposed on the Monk Nicodemos a new obedience – the editing of the work of the Monk Simeon the New Theologian. The Monk Nicodemos put aside the ascetic deed of silence and again occupied himself with literary work. And from this time until his death he continued zealously to toil in this endeavour.

Not long before his end, the Monk Nicodemos, worn down by bookwork and ascetic efforts, transferred his residence to the priestmonk iconographers Stephanos and Neophytes Skurtea (“Bobbed-Hair”). He besought them to help in the publication of his works, which his condition of infirmity was hindering him from doing. Here, at the Skurtea’s, the Monk Nicodemos peacefully expired to the Lord on 1 July 1809.

According to the testimony of his contemporaries, the Monk Nicodemos was a simple man, without malice, unassuming and distinguished by his profound concentration. He possessed a remarkable mental ability: he knew the Holy Scripture by heart, remembering even the chapter, verse and page, and by memory he could even recite much from the works of the holy fathers.

The literary work of the Monk Nicodemos was varied. He wrote a preface to the “Philokalia” (“Dobrotoliubie”), and short lives of ascetics. From the ascetic guidances of the saint, particularly well known is the book, “Unseen Warfare” (“Nevidimaya bran'"), rendered into the Russian language by the great theological-ascetic Theophan Zatvornik (“the Hermit”) (M(oscow), 1886, 5th ed. M(oscow), 1912). A remarkable work of the ascetic was his “Teaching about Confession” (“Uchenie ob ispovedi”) (Venice, 1804, 1818), summarised by his pervasive book, “Discourse on Repentance” (“Slovom o pokayanii”). An interesting book of the monk, “The Moral Christian” (“Blagonravie khristian”), was published in Venice in 1803. A great service of the saint was rendered also in the area of publishing of Divine-service books. In 1796 he published extracts from the Athos manuscript collections 62 canons to the MostHoly Mother of God under the title, “The Crown of the Ever-Virgin” (” Venets Prisnodevi”) (Venice, 1796, 1846).

The Monk Nicodemos prepared the edition of a new redaction of the “The Rudder” or “Pedalion” – the Greek for “Nourishment Books” (“Kormchei knigi”), – comprised of the rules of the Holy Apostles, of the holy Oecumenical and Local Councils, and of the holy fathers.

The monk devoted great attention to hagiography, which is witnessed also by his work, “A new Collection of the Lives of the Saints” (Venice 1803), and his posthumous book, “The New Synaxarion” in 3 volumes (Venice 1819). He accomplished a translation from old-Greek into the new-Greek language of the work, “Interpretations of the Epistles of the Holy Apostle Paul” by the Bulgarian archbishop Theophylakt. Saint Nicodemos himself wrote interpretations of the seven Conciliar Missives (published likewise at Venice in 1806 and 1819).

The Monk Nicodemos is known likewise as the author and interpreter of sacred song. Compiled by him (and accepted in the Russian Church): a canon in honour of the Mother of God “Quick-to-Hear” (“Skoroposlushnitsa”), and likewise “Service to the Monastic and God-Bearing Fathers, Illumined by Fasting”, “The Eortodromion, or the Exposition of Sung Canons, Which are Sung on the Eve of Feasts of the Lord and the Mother of God” (Venice 1836), “The New Ladder, or Interpretation of the 75 Degrees of song of the Eight-Tones Oktoekhos” (Constantinople, 1844).

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos