July 23 2020 - July 10 2020

Placing of the Venerable Robe of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Moscow (1625).

Forty-five Martyrs at Armenian Nikopolis: Leontios, Mauricios, Daniel, Anthony, Alexander, Janikitos, Sysinias, Meneas, Virilades and others (+ c. 319).

Monk Antonii (Anthony) of Pechersk at Kiev, the Original-First of all Russians Monks (+ 1073).

Monk Siluan, Pechersk SchemaMonk, in the Farther Caves (XIII-XIV). Martyr Apollonias (III). Martyrs Uianor (Vianor) and Siluanos (Sylvanus) (IV). Egyptian Monastic Wilderness-Dwellers, killed by fire and smoke (+ c. 398).

Konevsk Icon of Mother of God.

The Placing of the Venerable Robe of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Moscow (1625): The Saviour’s venerable Robe [Slavic “Riza”, Greek “himatia”, Latin “vestimenta”, literally “over-garments”] is not identically the same thing with His seamless “Chiton” [Greek and Slavic “khiton”, Latin “tunica”, literally “under-garb tunic”] – they are clearly distinct within Holy Scripture: “The soldiers then, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments (odezhdu, vestimenta, ta himatia) and divided them into four parts, to each soldier a part, and the chiton-shirt (et tunicam, kai ton khitona). The chiton indeed was without seam, woven whole from the top down, and so they did say one to another: let us not rend it asunder, but for it cast lots, whose it wilt become. Wherefore was fulfilled the saying in Scripture: they divided My raiment-garb (riza, vestimenta, ta imatia) amongst them, and upon My vesture-garb (imatisme, in vestem, epi ton himatismon) did they cast lots” (Jn. 19: 23-24; Ps. 21 [22]: 18-19).

According to the tradition of the Gruzinian (Georgian) Orthodox Church, the Chiton-tunic of the Lord was carried by the Hebrew rabbi Elioz from Jerusalem to Mtsketa and at present is beneathe a crypt in the foundations of the Mtsketian Patriarchal cathedral of Svetitskhoveli (the feast in honour of the Chiton-tunic of the Lord is celebrated on 1 October). None of the Mohamedan invaders ever ventured to enroach upon this spot, glorified with a sign by the mercy of God – the Life-Creating Pillar.

The Robe of the Lord, – actually one of its four parts, the lower portion namely (other parts of the Robe of the Lord are likewise known of in Western Europe: in the city of Trier in Germany, and in Argenteuil near Paris in France), just like the Chiton-tunic of the Lord, came to be in Gruzia. In contrast to the Chiton-tunic, the Robe portion was not kept underground, but was in the treasury of the Svetitskhoveli cathedral right up to the XVII Century, when the Persian shah Abbas I, in devastating Gruzia, carried off with other treasures also the Robe of the Lord. In order to ingratiate himself with tsar Mikhail Feodorovich, the shah in 1625 dispatched the Robe of the Lord as a gift to Patriarch Philaret (1619-1633) and tsar Mikhail. The authenticity of the Robe was testified to by Nektarii, Archbishop of Vologda, also by the Jerusalem Patriarch Theophanes who had come from Byzantium, and by Ioannikes the Greek, but especially also by the miraculous signs, manifest by the Lord through the venerable relic.

Afterwards two parts of the Robe came to be in Peterburg: one in the cathedral at the Winter Palace, and the other in the Petropavlovsk (Peter and Paul) cathedral. A portion of the Robe was preserved likewise at the Uspenie-Dormition cathedral in Moscow, and small portions – at the Kiev Sophia cathedral, at the Ipat’ev monastery near Kostroma and at certain other old temples. At Moscow annually on 10 July the Robe of the Lord is solemnly brought out of a chapel named for the holy Apostles Peter and Paul at the Uspensky cathedral, and it is placed on an analoi-stand for veneration during the time of Divine-services. After Liturgy they carry the Robe to its former place.

On this day likewise is proper a service to the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord, since the Placing of the Robe in the Uspensky cathedral in 1625 was done on 29 March, on the day which then occurred to be the Lenten Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross.

The Forty-five Martyrs of the Armenian City of Nikopolis suffered during the reign of the emperor Licinius (307-324), then a co-regent with Constantine the Great. Licinius fiercely persecuted Christians and in his Eastern districts of the empire he issued an edict to put to death anyone who would not consent to return to paganism. When the persecutions began at Nikopolis, more than forty of the persecuted of Christ decided to voluntarily appear before their persecutors, to openly confess their faith in the Son of God and accept martyrdom. The holy confessors were headed by Leontios, Mauricios, Daniel, Anthony and Alexander, and were distinguished by their virtuous life. The hegemon-procurator of the Armenian district, Licius, before whom the holy confessors presented themselves, was amazed at the directness and bravery of those who voluntarily doomed themselves to torture and death. He tried to persuade them to renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, but the saints remained steadfast. They refuted all the arguments of the governor, pointing out to him all the falseness of faith in the disgusting and vice-filled pagan gods, leading to ruin those that worship them. The hegemon-procurator gave orders to beat the confessors about the face with stones, and then shackle and imprison them.

In prison the saints rejoiced and sang psalms of David. Saint Leontios inspired and encouraged the brethren in the faith, readying them to accept new tortures for the true faith, and telling them of the bravery of all those formerly that had suffered for Christ. In the morning, after repeated refusal to offer sacrifice to the idols, the saints were again given over to torture. Saint Leontios, seeing the intense suffering of the martyrs and worrying, that certain of them might collapse in spirit and lose faith, prayed to God, that he might see a quick end of the matter for all.

When the holy martyrs sang psalms at midnight, an Angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to them, and the prison blazed with light. The Angel declared to the martyrs, that their deed was near its end, and their names already were inscribed in Heaven. Two of the prison guards, Meneas and Virilades, beheld what was happening and believed in Christ. On the following morning the governor decided to put to death the martyr-witnesses of Christ. After beastly tortures they burned them in a fire, and their bones they threw in a river (+ c. 318). Pious people found them, gathered them up and saved them. Later on, when freedom had been bestown to the Church of Christ, on this spot was built a church in the name of the holy 45 Martyrs.

The Monk Antonii (Anthony) of Pechersk was born in the year 983 not far from Chernigov, at the locale of Liubech. Possessing the fear of God from his youthful years, he desired to be clothed in the monastic form. Attaining maturity of age, he set off wandering, and having reached Athos, he burned with the desire to emulate the deeds of its holy inhabitants. Here he received monastic tonsure and in everything the young monk pleased God in his asceticising upon the path of virtue; he throve especially in humility and obedience, such that all the monks did rejoice to look upon his holy life.

The hegumen foresaw within Saint Antonii the great future ascetic, and on an inspiration from God, he sent him off back to his native land, saying: “Antonii! It is time for thee to guide others also into an holy life. Return to thine own Russian Land, and be thou upon thee the blessing of Holy Mount Athos, so that from thee shalt come a multitude of monks”.

Having returned to Rus', Antonii began to make the rounds of the monasteries about Kiev, but nowhere did he find that strict life, which had drawn him to Athos.

Through the Providence of God, on one of the hills of Kiev at a steep bank of the River Dneipr, reminiscent for him of the beloved Athos, in a forested area near the village of Berestovo, he espied a cave, dug out by the Priest Ilarion (who afterwards became Metropolitan of Kiev, Comm. 21 October). He began to asceticise there in prayer, fasting, vigil and work, eating over the course of a day but a bit of food, and sometimes he did not eat throughout the week. People began to come to the ascetic for blessing and counsel, and some decided to remain thereafter with the saint. Among the first disciples of the Monk Antonii was Saint Nikon, who in the year 1032 tonsured at the monastery the similarly arrived Monk Theodosii (Feodosii) of Pechersk (+ 1074, Comm. 3 May).

The holy life of the Monk Antonii brightened all the Russian Land with the beauty of monastic striving. Saint Antonii received with love those yearning for monasticism. After instructions on how one ought to follow Christ, he bid Blessed Nikon to tonsure those willing. When 12 men had gathered about the Monk Antonii, the brethren together dug out a large cave and within it was built a church and cells for the monks. Saint Antonii, having appointed Blessed Varlaam as hegumen over the brethren, himself withdrew from the monastery, and having dug out for himself a new cave, he secluded himself within it. But there also, around the place of his seclusion, monks soon began to settle. Thus were formed the Nearer and Farther Cave monasteries. Afterwards over the Farther Caves was built by the monk a small wooden church in honour of the Uspenie-Dormition of the Mother of God.

At the insistence of prince Izyaslav, the hegumen Varlaam withdrew to the Dimitriev monastery. With the blessing of the Monk Antonii and with the general agreement of the brethren , there was chosen as hegumen the meek and humble Theodosii. During this time the number of brethren had already reached an hundred men. The Kiev Great-prince Izyaslav (+ 1078) gifted to the monks the hill, on which was built the large church and cells, and around it was built a palisade wall. Thus was established the reknown monastery, which was called the Pechersk, foundationed over the caves. Giving the account of this, the chronicler remarks, that many a monastery exists built by rich emperors and nobility, they however cannot compare with those, which are built up by the prayers of saints, and by their tears, fasting and vigil. And thus though the Monk Antonii possessed not gold, he raised up by his efforts a monastery, incomparable with others, which became the first spiritual centre of Rus'.

For his holiness of life, God glorified the Monk Antonii with the gift of foresight and wonderworking. In an especial instance this occurred during their construction of the Great Pechersk church. The MostHoly Mother of God Herself stood before him and the Monk Theodosii in the Blakhernae church (in Byzantium), whither they had been miraculously transported and enraptured, without having left their Pechersk monastery (Vide account of this under 3 May, regarding the Kievo-Pechersk Icon of the MostHoly Mother of God). Having received gold from the Mother of God, the saints commissioned master-architects, who on the command of the Queen of Heaven set off (from Byzantium) to the Russian Land for building the church at the Pechersk monastery. During this appearance the Mother of God foretold the impending death of the Monk Antonii, which occurred at age 90 on 7 May 1073. The relics of the Monk Antonii, through Divine Providence, remain concealed.

The Monk Siluan, Kievo-Pechersk SchemaMonk, was a zealous preserver of purity both of soul and body, he beset his flesh with fasting and vigil, and he cleansed his soul with prayer and meditation on God. He was granted by the Lord an abundance of spiritual gifts: an especial prayerful boldness towards God, constant joy in the Lord, perspicacity and wonderworking. The monk lived at the end-XIII to beginning-XIV Centuries. His relics rest in the Theodosiev Caves.

The Holy Martyr Apollonias came from the city of Sardes, located in Lydia (Asia Minor). He declared himself a Christian and was arrested. When they demanded that he swear an oath on the name of the emperor, he refused, saying that it was improper to swear on the name of a mortal man. They tortured Saint Apollonias for a long time and then crucified him on a cross. This occurred at Iconium either under the emperor Decius (249-251) or the emperor Valerian (253-259).

The Holy Martyrs Uianor (Vianor) and Siluanos (Sylvanus): Saint Uianor came from the Psidia district in Asia Minor. As a confessor of Christianity they brought him to the governor of the city of Isauria in Likaoneia, who demanded that Saint Uianor renounce Christ. The saint stood steadfast in the true faith, in spite of the refined tortures. A man by the name of Siluanos beheld the suffering of the martyr. The endurance and bravery of Saint Uianor inspired the faith of Christ in Siluanos, and he openly declared this. They therewith cut out his tongue and then cut off his head. Saint Uianor after long torturing likewise was beheaded.

The date of the suffering of the holy Martyrs Uianor and Siluanos is not precisely known; it is presumed, that they died under the Roman emperor Diocletian (284-305).

The Konevsk Icon of the Mother of God: It was with this icon of Greek origin that John, hegumen of one of the Athos monasteries, did bless Saint Arsenii, founder of the Konevsk monastery (the account about him is located under 12 June). The holy icon was glorified by many graced signs. In the year 1610 during an invasion of the Swedes into the Novgorod lands, with the blessing of the Novgorod archbishop Isidor, the icon was transferred from the Konevsk monastery to the Novgorod Derevyanitsk monastery. At this monastery annually on 10 July was made a festal celebration of the MostHoly Mother of God on account of Her holy icon. In the year 1709, with the blessing of the Metropolitan of Peterburg and Novgorod Gavriil, the wonderworking icon was returned to the Konevsk monastery.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos