July 17 2020 - July 04 2020

Sainted Andrew, Archbishop of Crete (+ c. 712-726). Nun Martha, Mother of Monk Simeon Divnogorets (+ 551).

Nobleborn GreatPrince Andrei (Andrew) Bogoliubsky (+ 1174). Monk Evphymii, Suzdal' Wonderworker (Uncovering of Relics, 1507).

Sainted-Hierarchs: Donatos, Bishop of Lebanon; Michael, Archbishop of Athens (+ 1216). PriestMartyrs: Theodore, Bishop of Cyrenia (+ 310); Theophilus. Martyrs Theodotos and Theodotia (+ 108). Saints: Theodotos of Lebanon; Asclepiada the Wonderworker. Righteous Menignos. Monk Mark the Confessor.

Galatian Icon of the Mother of God.

Sainted Andrew, Archbishop of Crete, was born in the city of Damascus into a pious Christian family. Up until seven years of age the boy was mute and did not talk. However, after communing the Holy Mysteries of Christ he found the gift of speech and began to speak. And from that time the lad began earnestly to study Holy Scripture and the discipline of theology.

At fourteen years of age he went off to Jerusalem and there he accepted monastic tonsure at the monastery of Saint Sava the Sanctified. Saint Andrew led a strict and chaste life, he was meek and abstinent, such that all were amazed at his virtue and reasoning of mind. As a man of talent and known for his virtuous life, over the passage of time he came to be numbered amongst the Jerusalem clergy and was appointed a secretary for the Patriarchate – a writing clerk. In the year 680 the locum tenens of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, Theodore, included archdeacon Andrew amongst the representatives of the Holy City sent to the Sixth OEcumenical Council, and here the saint contended against heretical teachings, relying upon his profound knowledge of Orthodox doctrine. Shortly after the Council he was summoned back to Constantinople from Jerusalem and he was appointed archdeacon at the church of Saint Sophia, the Wisdom of God. During the reign of the emperor Justinian II (685-695) Saint Andrew was ordained bishop of the city of Gortineia on the island of Crete. In his new position he shone forth as a true luminary of the Church, a great hierarch – a theologian, teacher and hymnographer.

Saint Andrew wrote many a Divine-service song. He was the originator of a new liturgical form – the canon. Of the canons composed by him the best known is the Great Penitential Canon, including within its 9 odes the 250 troparia recited during the Great Lent. In the First Week of Lent at the service of Compline it is read in portions (thus called “methymony” [trans. note: from the useage in the service of Compline of the “God is with us”, in Slavonic the “S’nami Bog”, or in Greek “Meth' Humon ho Theos”, from which derives “methymony”], and again on Thursday of the Fifth Week at the All-night Vigil during Matins.

Saint Andrew of Crete gained reknown with his many praises of the All-Pure Virgin Mary. To him are likewise ascribed: the Canon for the feast of the Nativity of Christ, three odes for the Compline-service of Palm Sunday and also in the first four days of Holy Passion Week, as well as verses for the feast of the Meeting of the Lord, and many another church-song. His hynographic tradition was continued by the churchly great melodists of following ages: Saints John of Damascus, Cosma of Maium, Joseph the Melodist, Theophan the Written-upon. There have also been preserved edifying Sermons of Saint Andrew for certain of the Church feasts.

Church historians are not of the same opinion as to the date of death of the saint. One suggests the year 712, while others – the year 726. He died on the island of Mytilene, while returning to Crete from Constantinople, where he had been on churchly business. His relics were transferred to Constantinople. In the year 1350 the pious Russian pilgrim Stefan Novgorodets saw the relics at the Constantinople monastery named for Saint Andrew of Crete.

The Nun Martha, mother of Saint Simeon of the Wondrous-Mount (Divnogorets; – his account is located under 24 May), lived during the VI Century and was a native of Antioch. From her early years she yearned for monasticism, but her parents persuaded her to marry. Her husband, John, soon died, and righteous Martha with all her strength devoted herself to the raising of her son. She was for her son an example of high Christian temperament: often she visited the temple of God, attentively and with piety she hearkened to the church services, and frequently she communed the Holy Mysteries of Christ. Righteous Martha each night rose up to pray, and her prayers she made with heartfelt warmth and tears. She particularly venerated the Baptist of the Lord Saint John the Precursor, who was for her a protector frequently appearing to her in visions. The Nun Martha was charitable towards the poor, she fed and clothed them, she visited the convalescent and she attended to the sick, she buried the dead, and for those preparing to receive holy Baptism she with her own hands reading the clothing.

The Nun Martha was reserved, and no one heard from her a frivolous, false or vain word, no one saw her angry, nor fighting with anyone nor bitter. She was a model of chaste and pious life and by her example she guided many on the pathway to salvation. When her son, Saint Simeon, had become a reknown ascetic, she in visiting him urged him not to exalt himself by his efforts, but in everything to add in an act of thankfulness to God.

It was made known beforehand to the Nun Martha about her approaching end: she beheld Angels with candles saying, that they would come for her in another year’s time. The saint was likewise granted visions of the abode of paradise, and the All-Pure Virgin Herself showed to her the Heavenly habitation, prepared for the righteous.

The end of Saint Martha was peaceful (+ 551), and her body was buried on the Wondrous-Mount, at the place of the ascetic deeds of her son, the Monk Simeon the Pillar-Dweller.

Holy Nobleborn Prince Andrew (Andrei) Bogoliubsky (1110-1174), a grandson of Vladimir Monomakh, was the son of Yurii Dolgoruky and a Polovetsian princess (in holy Baptism Maria). While still in his youth he was called “Bogoliubsky” (“God-loving”) for the constantly inherent to him profound attention to prayer, his diligence for church services and “his adoption of secret prayers to God”. From his grandfather, Vladimir Monomakh, the grandson inherited great spiritual concentration, love for the Word of God and the habit of turning to the Scripture in all the circumstances of life.

A brave warrior (Andrew – means “brave”), a participant of the many campaigns of his military father, more than once in the fray of battle he was close to death. But each time Divine Providence invisibly saved the princely man of prayer. Thus for example, on 8 February 1150, in a battle near Lutsk Saint Andrew was saved from the spear of an enemy German by a prayer to the GreatMartyr Theodore Stratilates, whose memory was celebrated that day.

The chronicles stress together with this the peace-making activity of Saint Andrew, rare amongst the princes and military commanders of these harsh times. The combination of military valour with love for peace and mercy, of great humility with indomitable zeal for the Church were in the highest degree innate to Prince Andrew. A responsible master of the land, and a constant co-worker in the city construction and church building activity of Yurii Dolgoruky, he built with his father: Moscow (1147), Iur’ev-Pol’sk (1152), Dmitrov (1154), and he adorned with churches the cities of Rostov, Suzdal', and Vladimir. In 1162 Saint Andrew could say with satisfaction: “I have built up white Rus' with cities and settlements, and have rendered it with much populace”.

When Yurii Dolgoruky became greatprince of Kiev in 1154, he gave his son as appanage portion Vyshgorod nearby Kiev. But God destined otherwise. One time by night in the Summer of 1155, the wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God in the Vyshgorod church was removed. This icon was written by the holy Evangelist Luke, and in some period before this had come transferred hither from Tsar’grad (Constantinople), and afterwards it was given the name – the Vladimir Mother of God. On this night with the icon in hand, holy Prince Andrew left Vyshgorod going northwards to the Suzdal' land, secretly and without the blessing of his father, heedful only to the will of God.

The miracle from this holy icon, occurring on the way from Vyshgorod to Vladimir was recorded by a clergyman of Prince Andrew, “the priest Mikula” (Nikolai), in his “Reports of Miracles of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God”.

Ten versts before reaching Vladimir, the horse, bearing the icon bound for Rostov, suddenly stopped. And during the night the Mother of God appeared to Saint Andrew with scroll in hand and commanded: “I want not that thou shouldst bear My image to Rostov, but rather establish it in Vladimir, and upon this place erect thou a stone church in the name of My Nativity”. In memory of this miraculous event, Saint Andrew commissioned an iconographer to write an icon of the Mother of God suchlike as the All‑Pure Virgin had appeared to him, and he established feastday for this icon as 18 June. The icon, named the Bogoliubsk, was afterwards glorified by numerous miracles.

Upon the place decreed by the Queen of Heaven, Prince Andrew built (in 1159) the church of the Nativity of the Mother of God. He situated here also the city of Bogoliubov, which became his constant dwelling and the place of his martyr’s end.

When his father Yurii Dolgoruky died (+ 15 May 1157), Saint Andrew did not take up his father’s throne at Kiev, but rather remained prince at Vladimir. During the years 1158-1160 was built the Uspenie (Dormition) cathedral at Vladimir, and into it was placed the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. In the year 1164 there were erected the Golden Gates, with the over-gate church of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God, and also the church of the Saviour at the princely court.

Thirty churches were built by Prince Andrew during the years of his rule. The finest of them – is the Uspenie cathedral. The richness and splendour of the church served in spreading Orthodoxy amongst the surrounding peoples and foreign merchants. All the travellers, whether Latins or pagans, – Saint Andrew had directed, – were to be led into the churches built by him and to have pointed out to them “true Christianity”. The chronicler writes: “Both Bulgars, and Jews, and every sort of common person, beholding the glory of God and churchly adornment, came to be baptised”.

The conquest of the great Volga journey-way became for Saint Andrew a fundamental task of his civil service to Russia. The Volga Bulgars from the time of the campaigns of Svyatoslav (+ 972) presented a serious danger for the Russian state. Saint Andrew continued with the initiative of Svyatoslav.

A shattering blow was struck against the enemy in 1164, when Russian forces burnt and destroyed several Bulgar fortresses. Saint Andrew took with him on this campaign the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God and a two-sided icon, on which was imaged upon the one side the “Saviour Not-Wrought-by-Hand”, and the “Veneration to the Cross” on the opposite side. (At the present time both icons are in the Tret’yakov State Gallery).

A great miracle from the holy icons occurred for the Russian army on the day of the decisive victory over the Bulgars, 1 August 1164. After the destruction of the Bulgar army, the princes (Andrew, his brother Yaroslav, his son Izyaslav and others) returned towards the “footmen” (infantry) standing by the princely standards with the Vladimir Icon, and they made prostration to the Icon, “bestowing it praise and song”. And then all beheld the blinding rays of light, issuing from the face of the Mother of God and the Saviour Not-Wrought-by-Hand.

Remaining in everything a faithful son of the Orthodox Church, vigilant in belief and canons, Saint Andrew turned to the Patriarch of Tsar’grad with a filial request to establish a separate metropolitan for north-eastern Rus'. And with the prince’s letter of accord there journeyed to Byzantium the candidate chosen by the prince, – the Suzdal' archimandrite Theodore (Feodor). Patriarch Luke Chrysobergos however consented to consecrate Theodore only as bishop of Vladimir, but not as metropolitan. Yet at the same time, wanting to uphold the position of Prince Andrew as the most powerful amongst the rulers of the Russian Land, the patriarch dignified bishop Theodore with the right to wear the “white klobuk” (hierarch’s headgarb), which in ancient Rus' was a distinctive sign of churchly autonomy – a recognition of esteem likewise granted the archbishop of Novgorod by his white klobuk. Evidently, since the Russian chronicles bespeak bishop Theodore with the title of “White Klobuk”, much later historians sometimes call him “an autocephalous bishop”.

In the year 1167 Saint Rostislav died at Kiev. He was the twin brother of Andrew, and had been able to carry out compromise amongst the complicated political and churchly life of the time. But after this, there was dispatched from Tsar’grad a new metropolitan, Constantine II. The new metropolitan demanded that bishop Theodore come before him for confirmation of position. Saint Andrew again recoursed to Tsar’grad for affirmation of the autonomous status of the Vladimir diocese and again he requested a separate metropolitanate. The letter of reply from patriarch Luke Chrysobergos has been preserved: it contains a categorical refusal for establishing a new metropolitan, a demand to accept the expelled bishop Leon, and to submit to the Kiev metropolitan.

In fulfilling the duty of this churchly obedience, Saint Andrew urged bishop Theodore to journey in repentance to Kiev for the restoration of canonical relations with the metropolitan. The repentance of bishop Theodore was not accepted. Without investigation by a council, and in accord with the Byzantine morals of the time, metropolitan Constantine condemned him to a terrible execution: they cut out the tongue from Theodore, they cut off his right hand and then they gouged out his eyes. After this he was drowned by servants of the metropolitan (by other accounts, he died in prison).

Not only the churchly, but also the political affairs of Southern Rus' demanded the decisive response of the Vladimir Great-prince. On 8 March 1169 an army of allied princes with Andrew’s son Mstislav at the head conquered Kiev. The city was devastated and burned, and the Polovetsians participating in the campaign did not spare even the churchly treasures. The Russian chronicles viewed this event as a merited requital: “These misfortunes were for their sins (the Kievans), especially for the outrage perpetuated by the metropolitan”. In the same year 1169 the prince moved an army against unruly Novgorod, but they were repulsed by a miracle from the Novgorod Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign (Comm. 27 November), which had been carried along the city walls by holy Archbishop John (+ 1186, Comm. 7 September). But when the understandable wrath of the greatprince gave way to mercy, and in peace he summoned the Novgorod people to him, the blessing of God returned to him: Novgorod accepted the prince appointed by Saint Andrew.

In such a manner, towards the end of 1170 Saint Andrew Bogoliubsky was able to attain the unity of the Russian Land under his rule.

In the Winter of 1172 he dispatched against the Volga Bulgars a large army under the command of his son Mstislav. The Russian forces gained the victory, but their joy was overshadowed by the death of the valiant Mstislav (+ 28 March 1172).

…On the night of 30 June 1174 holy Prince Andrew Bogoliubsky accepted a martyr’s death at the hands of traitors in his own household. The “Tver Chronicle” relates, that Saint Andrew was murdered at the instigation of his second wife (a Volga Bulgar), who participated in the conspiracy. At the head of the conspiracy stood her brothers, the Kuchkovichi: “and they did commit murder in the night, as did Judas against the Lord”. A throng of assassins, twenty men, burst in upon the court, they killed the few guards and stormed into the bedchamber of the unarmed prince. The sword of Saint Boris, which hung constantly over his bed, had been treacherously removed that night by the steward Anbal. The prince succeeded in shoving down upon the floor the first of his assailants, whom the conspirators then mistakenly ran through with their swords. But soon they realised their mistake: “and then they did perceive the prince, and he fought much with them, for he was strong, and they did thrust with swords and sabres, and copious wounds did give him”. The forehead of the holy prince was struck on the side with a spear, while all the remaining blows from the cowardly assassins were dealt from behind. When the prince finally fell, they abruptly rushed out of the bedchamber, taking along their murdered accomplice.

But the saint was still alive. With his final strength he lowered himself along the palace stairway, hoping to alert a guard. But his groans were heard by the assassins, and they turned back. The prince was able to hide himself in a niche below the stairway and so be bypassed by them. The conspirators rushed to the bedchamber but did not find the prince there. “Disaster stands afront us, since the prince is alive”, – in terror cried out the assassins. But all around it was quiet, and no one came to the aid of the suffering prince. Then the evil-doers again regained their boldness, they lit candles and followed along the bloody trail to seek out their victim. Prayer was on the lips of Saint Andrew when the assassins again surrounded him.

The Russian Church remembers and venerates its martyrs and makers. A special place belongs to Saint Andrew Bogoliubsky within it. Having taken in his hands the wonderworking image of the Vladimir Mother of God, the holy prince as it were blessed with it both then and through the centuries the major events of Russian history. In 1395 was the year – of the transfer of the Vladimir Icon to Moscow and the deliverance of the capital from the invasion of Tamerlane (Comm. 26 August); the year 1480 – was the salvation of Rus' from the invasion of khan Akhmat and the ultimate collapse of the Mongol Horde (Comm. 23 June); the year 1521 – was the salvation of Moscow from the invasion of the Crimean khan Makhmet-Girei (Comm. 21 May). Through the prayers of Saint Andrew, his fondest dreams for the Russian Church came true. In the year 1300 metropolitan Maksim transferred the All-Russian Metropolitan seat from Kiev to Vladimir, making the Uspensky sobor (Dormition cathedral), – wherein rest the relics of Saint Andrew, the foremost cathedral of the Russian Church, and the Vladimir wonderworking Icon – its chief holy thing therein.

Later on, when the All-Russian churchly centre shifted to Moscow, selections of the metropolitans and patriarchs of the Russian Church were made before the Vladimir Icon. In the year 1448 in front of it, a Council of Russian bishops raised up the first Russian autocephalous metropolitan – Sainted Jona. On 5 November 1917, in front of it was made the selection of His Holiness Patriarch Saint Tikhon – the first such after the restoral of the patriarchate in the Russian Church. And in 1971, on the feastday of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, there took place the enthronation of His Holiness Patriarch Pimen.

The liturgical activity of Saint Andrew was multi-faceted and fruitful. In 1162 the Lord granted the holy prince a great solace: in Rostov there was discovered the relics of Rostov saints – the Sainted-hierarchs Isaiah and Leontii. The glorification throughout all the Church of these Rostov saints took place somewhat later, but Saint Andrew initiated the beginning of their national veneration. In 1164 the military forces of Saint Andrew crushed their long-time enemy, the Volga Bulgars. The victories of the Orthodox nation were marked by a blossoming of liturgical creativity within the Russian Church. In this same year of 1164, at the initiative of Saint Andrew, the Church established the feastday to the All-Merciful Saviour and the MostHoly Mother of God on 1 August (venerated by the Russian people as “Saviour of First-Honey”), – in memory of the Baptism of Rus' by holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir and in memory of the victory over the Bulgars in 1164.The soon thereafter instituted feastday of the Protection (Pokrov) of the Mother of God under 1 October embodied in liturgical forms the faith of the holy prince and all the Orthodox nation – in the acceptance by the Mother of God of Holy Rus' beneathe Her omophorion. The “Pokrov” of the Mother of God became one of the most beloved of Russian Church feastdays. The Protection – is a Russian national feastday, unknown to both the Latin West, and the Greek East. It is a liturgical continuation and creative developement of theological ideas, inherent to the feast of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God, on 2 July.

The first church, consecrated to the new feastday, was the Protection at Nerla (1165), a remarkable monument of Russian Church architecture, built by the master artisans of Saint Andrew at the head-waters of the River Nerla, such that the prince could always see it from a window of his Bogoliubov garret.

Saint Andrew took an active part in the literary work of the Vladimir church writers. He participated in the compiling of the Service of Pokrov (the most ancient copy is on the parchment of a XIV Century Psalter), and also a preface account about the establishing of the feastday of the Protection (Great Chet' Minei [Great Reading Meneion] under month October), as well as a “Discourse on the Protection”. He wrote an “Account about the Victory over the Bulgars and the Establishing of the Feast of the Saviour in the Year 1164”, – which in several of the old manuscripts is entitled thus: “Discourse concerning the Mercy of God by GreatPrince Andrei Bogoliubsky”. The fate of Bogoliubsky is also noted in the Vladimir Chronicle entry for the year 1177, completed after the death of the prince by his confessor, the priest Mikula, who inserted therein his special “Account about the Murder of Saint Andrew”. To Saint Andrew’s time belongs also the final redaction of the “Account about Boris and Gleb”, inserted into the “Uspensk Sbornik” (“Compendium” or “Collected-service Book”). The prince venerated particularly Saint Boris, and his chief household sacred-treasure was a cap of Saint Boris. The sword of Saint Boris hung always over his bed. A memorial likewise of prayerful inspiration of Saint Andrew is “A Prayer”, included in the chronicle under the year 1096 after the “Instructions of Vladimir Monomakh”.

The Uncovering of the Relics of the Monk Evphymii of Suzdal' the Wonderworker, – who died on 1 April 1405, occurred in the year 1507 during the construction of a new stone church when the monastery was headed by the hegumen Kirill (later bishop of Rostov). The incorrupt relics were the source of numerous miracles, and they were placed in the Transfiguration cathedral of the monastery. In 1511 after its restorations, the church (a rare memorial of XIV Century architecture) was consecrated in the name of the Monk Evphymii.

The PriestMartyr Theodore, Bishop of Cyrenia, lived during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Skilled at writing, and having accomplished great mastery in his beloved task, he transcribed many a copy of books for the churches. His son by birth Leo denounced him to the district governor, Dignianus, saying that his father possessed Christian books and was turning people away from idol-worship, and instead drawing them to faith in Christ the Saviour. Saint Theodore was brought to trial. Many Christians followed after him, in which number were the women Lucy and Hieroa. The holy bishop was ordered to surrender his books and renounce Christ, but he refused this demand. They beat him with tin rods. But Saint Theodore was not intimidated, and with a fiery zeal for the truth he destroyed the pagan sacrificial offerings. They tortured him for a long while, they cut out his tongue, and then they threw him in prison, where he died. Put to death also were the women Lucy and Hieroa and all, who had accepted holy Baptism from the holy bishop.

The Galatian Icon of the Mother of God is situated in Galata (one of the districts of Constantinople), at Pergia (in a tower). In honour of the holy icon a monastery was formed, which existed until the XVII Century. An exact copy of the image is located in Moscow, in the Church of Sainted Tikhon, at the Arbat Gate.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos