July 20 2020 - July 07 2020

Monks: Thomas, at Maleia (X); Akakios, spoken of in the “Ladder” (VI).

The Nun Evdokia, in monasticism Evphrosynia, Princess of Moscow (+ 1407).

Martyrs Peregrinus, Lucian, Pompeius, Isichius, Papius, Satorninus and Germanus (II). MonkMartyrs Epictetos the Presbyter and Astion the Monastic (+ 290). Martyr Evangelus (III - IV). Martyress Kyriakia (IV). PriestMartyr Eustathios and Martyr Polykarp. WomenMartyrs Kyriakia, Bassa and others with them.

Blakhernai Icon of the Mother of God (Brought to Russia in 1654).

The Monk Thomas the Maleian was a military commander before accepting monasticism. Powerful and brave, he had participated in many a battle, and he brought victory to his countrymen, for which he gained glory and esteem. But, striving with all his heart towards God, Thomas left the world with its honours and he took monastic vows.

With great humility he visited monastic-elders, asking of them guidance in the spiritual life. After several years Thomas received the blessing for solitary wilderness life and, strengthened in particular by a revelation through the holy prophet of God Elias, he settled on Mount Maleia (eastern part of Athos). Dwelling in complete seclusion, Saint Thomas fought with invisible enemies with suchlike a courage, as before he had against the visible enemies of his country.

The life and deeds of Saint Thomas were not able to be concealed from the surrounding area. People began to flock to him seeking spiritual guidance, and even those suffering from sickness, since he received from God the blessing to heal infirmities.

Many believers received help through the prayers of the monk and upon his departure to God (X).

The Monk Akakios of Sinai (VI Century): The account about him is located under 29 November.

The Nun Evphrosynia, in the world Evdokia, was the daughter of the Suzdal' prince Dimitrii Konstantovich (+ 1383), and from 1367 was the spouse of the Moscow GreatPrince Dimitrii Donskoi. Their happy union was for Russia a pledge of union and peace between Moscow and Suzdal'. Great influence was had upon the spiritual life of the princess Evdokia by Sainted Alexei, Metropolitan of Moscow, and even by the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, who baptised one of the sons of Dimitrii and Evdokia. the godfather of another was the Monk Dimitrii of Prilutsk. The holy princess was a builder of churches. In 1387 she founded in the Moscow Kremlin the Ascension women’s-monastery. In 1395, – during the time of the invasion of Tamerlane into the southern regions of Russia, upon her advice the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was transferred to Moscow, miraculously defending the Russian land. In secret as an ascetic deed during Lent, the princess wore chains beneathe her splendid royal clothes. By her patronage was written the famous image of the Archangel Michael, set afterwards as the temple patron-saint icon of the Kremlin Archangel Cathedral.

Having raised five sons (a sixth died in infancy), the princess took monastic vows with the name Evphrosynia. Having completed her earthly journey in prayer and ascetic deeds, Saint Evdokia peacefully reposed on 7 July 1407 and was buried in the Ascension monastery founded by her.

An emotionally imbued memorial of old-Russian church poetry is known of, expounding the lament of the princess for her husband, who had died at age 39.

The Holy Martyrs Peregrinus, Lucian, Pompeius, Isichius, Papius, Satorninus and Germanus (II) were natives of Italy. They suffered for Christ under the emperor Trajan in the city of Dirrachium, located at the shore of the Adriatic sea.

Being present at the martyrdom of Bishop Astius, who was crucified by the Romans upon a cross, they openly praised the courage and firmness of the holy confessor, for which cause they were seized, and as confessors of faith in Christ, they were drowned in the sea. Their bodies, carried by the waves to shore, were hidden there in the sand by christians. The martyrs appeared to the bishop of Alexandria 90 years later with a command to bury their bodies and to raise up a church over them.

The MonkMartyrs Epictetos and Astion the Monastic lived during the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian in one of the eastern districts of the Roman empire. The virtuous presbyter Epictetos from the time of his youth had dedicated his life to God. He was vouchsafed the gift of wonderworking, and by his prayers he accomplished numerous healings of those afflicted by unclean spirits and other maladies.

Once during the time of a stroll, the son of the city-governor – the illustrious pagan-youth Astion, came upon Saint Epictetos. In a prolonged conversation Saint Epictetos enlightened Astion, he sowed the Word of God in the soul of the youth, telling him about the True God, about the great value of the immortal human soul, about the insignificance of transitory worldly pleasures. [trans. note: Epictetus was a pre-Christian Greek Stoic philosopher, and the trait-name bestown upon the saint may reflect a didactic message that pagan philosophy was a preparation of the pagan mind with a propensity for the ultimate Truth of the Gospel, as also the Pax Romana, etc.].

Having believed in Christ and having accepted holy Baptism, the blessed youth then began zealously to beseech of his guide to go together with him to some far-off land, so as to completely dedicate his life to God. Setting off on a ship, Saints Epictetos and Astion journeyed to the land of the Skythians. At the mouth of the River Danube (Dunaj) they settled not far from the city of Almirisium among the pagan Slavs, and passed their lives in deeds of prayer and fasting.

The God-pleasing lives of the hermits could not long remain unknown to the world. People began to come to the saints, those who were afflicted by various illnesses and oppressed by evil spirits, and they received healing by prayer. The pagans even began to ask help of the holy ascetics, and having received relief in their suffering, they were converted to Christ.

At this time the governor of the district, Latronian, arrived in the city of Almirisium, and pagan priests began to make denunciation against Saints Epictetos and Astion, that by sorcery they attracted people to their faith. They seized hold of the saints and began interrogation.

After thirty days locked in prison without food and water, the holy martyrs Epictetos and Astion were again brought to trial before Latronian. They remained ready to bravely accept new suffering for Christ.

They sentenced them to beheading with a sword (+ 290).

The parents of the holy Martyr Astion – Alexander and Marcellina – accepted holy Baptism from the bishop of the city Thomas the Evangeliser, who soon also suffered for Christ by beheading with a sword.

The Holy Martyress Kyriakia suffered for Christ at Nikomedia during the time of a persecution under Diocletian. She was the only daughter of the pious christians Dorotheos and Eusebia, who had given a vow to dedicate their daughter to God.

At the beginning of the persecution Saints Dorotheos and Eusebia were separated from their daughter and given over to trial under the governor Justus, but Saint Kyriakia was sent to Nikomedia to the co-ruler of Diocletian – Maximian Hercules. The holy martyress firmly endured the tortures, praying to God. The Lord worked many miracles to bring the idol-worshippers to their senses: idols fell down in the pagan temples, just as they brought the saint there; wild animals brought to the martyress lay down peacefully at her feet. Seeing this, many pagans were converted to Christ. When the sentence of death was read, Saint Kyriakia requested time for prayer. After a final prayer she peacefully died, delivered by the Lord out of the hands of the Roman executioners (IV).

The Blakhernai Icon of the Mother of God was discovered at Jerusalem by the empress Eudokia during the time of Sainted Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem (Comm. 2 July), and the Monk Euthymios the Great (Comm. 20 January). The holy icon was sent to Constantinople, where the empress Pulcheria set it within the Blakernai Church, there where was preserved the Venerable Robe of the Mother of God (celebrated 2 July).

This holy icon is also called the “Hodegetria”, that is, “Putevoditel’nitsa” or “Way‑Guide”. And in particular it was with this icon that Patriarch Sergios (610-631) made the rounds of the walls of Constantinople in the year 626 with moliebens during a siege of the capital by the Avars. In memory of this and other victories, gained thanks to the intercession of the MostHoly Virgin, there was established annually on Saturday of the Fifth Week of Great Lent to celebrate a feast of Praise to the MostHoly Mother of God (“Saturday Akathist”). At first the celebration was done only at the Blakhernai temple at Constantinople. In the IX Century the feast was included in the ustav (rule) of the Monk Sava the Sanctified and in the Studite ustav, but later was included in the Lenten Triodion and made universal for all the Orthodox Church.

After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Blakhernai Icon was transferred to Athos, and in 1654 it was sent by the Athos monks to Moscow as gift to the tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich.

The celebration of the Blakhernai Icon is done also on 2 July (on feast of the Robe-placing) and in the Saturday Akathist – on the Fifth Week of Great Lent.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos