Orthodox River


August 12 2020 - July 30 2020

Holy Disciples from the Seventy: Silas, Sylvanus (Siluanos), Criscentus, Epenetus and Andronicus (I).

Holy Martyr John the Warrior (IV).

Uncovering of Relics of Monk German of Solovetsk (1484).

Martyrs: Polychronios, Bishop of Babylon, Presbyters Parmenias, Elimos and Chrysotelos, Deacons Luke and Muko, Abdones and Sennis Princes of Persia, and Holy Martyrs Olympios and Maximos (+ c. 251). Martyr Timon. PriestMartyr Bishop Valentine (Valentinus or Ualentinos), and his Three Disciples Proculus, Ephibius and Apollonius, and Righteous Avundius (+ c. 273). Sainted Paul, Bishop, and Presbyter John. Saints Gelasius; Germanos; Agnes and Lucy.

Okonsk Icon of the Mother of God.

The Holy Disciples from the Seventy: Silas, Sylvanus (Siluanos), Crescentius, Epenetos and Andronikos – were disciples of the Saviour.

The Disciple from the Seventy, Saint Silas, was a respected figure in the original Church at Jerusalem, “of the chief men amongst the brethren” (Acts 15: 22). The Council of the Apostles was convened at Jerusalem in the year 51 to deal with the question, whether it be necessary for Christians converted from among the Gentile-pagans to observe the (Old Testament) Mosaic Law [the Law-code contained in the Pentateuch, or Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament]. The Apostles afterwards sent a message with Paul and Barnabas to the Antioch Christians, in which they reported by resolve of the Council, Christians of Gentile-pagan origin were free from having to observe the prescripts of the Mosaic Law. But it was prescribed for them, nonetheless, that they refrain of partaking of foods offered to idols, from things strangled and from blood, to refrain from fornication, and to do naught else than that which be seemly (Acts 15: 20-29). Together with Saints Paul and Barnabas, the Council of the Apostles sent along members of the Jerusalem Church, Saints Silas and Jude, to explain the message in greater detail, since they both were filled with the indwelling grace of the Holy Spirit. Saint Jude thereafter was sent back to Jerusalem, but Saint Silas remained at Antioch and zealously assisted Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, on his missionary journeys preaching the Gospel. They visited Syria, Cilicia, Macedonia.

In the city of Philippi they were accused of inciting unrest among the people, and for this they were arrested, thrashed with canes, and then thrown into prison. At midnight, when the holy saints were at prayer, suddenly there occurred a strong earthquake, their chains fell off from them and the doors of the prison opened. The prison guard, supposing that the prisoners had fled, wanted to kill himself, but was stopped by the Apostle Paul. Then, all atremble he fell down at the feet of the saints, and with faith accepted their “euangelos” (“good-news”) about Christ. He then led them out of the prison and took them to his own home, where he washed their wounds, and was baptised together with all his household.

From Philippi Saints Paul and Silas proceeded on to the cities of Amphypolis, Apollonia and Soluneia (Thessalonika). In each city they made new converts to Christ and built up the Church.

At Corinth the holy Disciple Silas was ordained bishop, and he there worked many a miracle and sign, and there too he finished his life.

The Holy Disciple Sylvanus (Siluanos) preached the Word of God together with the chief Apostles Peter and Paul. In his First OEcumenical Epistle, the holy Apostle Peter makes mention of him: “This in brief have I written to ye through Sylvanus, your true brother, I do think…” (1 Pet. 5: 12). Saint Sylvanus was made bishop at Soluneia (Thessalonika) and died there a martyr, having undergone many a sorrow and misfortune for the Lord’s sake.

About the Holy Disciple Crescentius the holy Apostle Paul makes mention in his Second Epistle to Timothy (2 Tim. 4: 10), saying that Crescentius had gone preaching to Galatia. He was made bishop there, and afterwards he preached the Word of God in Gaul (modern-day France). In the city of Vienna (modern-day Austria) the holy Disciple Crescentius established his student Zacharius as bishop. Having returned to Galatia, he died a martyr under the emperor Trajan (98-117).

The Holy Disciple Epenetus was made bishop at Carthage. In his Epistle to the Romans, the holy Apostle Paul writes: “Greet my dear Epenetus, who is from the beginnings in Achaia [alt. Asia] for Christ” (Rom. 16: 5).

The Disciple Andronicus is mentioned also in this same Epistle by the Apostle Paul: “Greet Andronicus and Junia [June], my kinsfolk, famed amongst the Apostles and even before me believing in Christ” (Rom. 16: 7). The holy Disciple Andronicus was bishop in Pannonia (modern-day Hungary) (Comm. of Saints Andronicus and Junia is 17 May).

The Holy Martyr John the Warrior served in the imperial army of the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Amidst other soldiers he was dispatched to seek out and kill Christians. Keeping up the external appearances of being a persecutor, Saint John in fact rendered great help to persecuted Christians: those who had been arrested – he set free, others he warned of dangers threatening them, and assisted in their flight. Saint John showed charity not only to Christians, but to all the destitute and those needing help: he visited with the sick, and he consoled the grieving. When Julian the Apostate learned about the actions of the saint, he ordered him locked up in prison.

In the year 363 Julian the Apostate was killed in his war with the Persians. Saint John was set free and devoted his life to service of neighbour, and he lived in holiness and purity. He died in his old age.

The precise year of his death is unknown, and the place of burial of Saint John the Warrior was gradually forgotten. But then he appeared to a certain pious woman and indicated the place of his repose. It became known throughout the region. His uncovered relics were placed in a church of the Apostle John the Theologian in Constantinople. The Lord granted the relics of Saint John the Warrior the graced power of healing. Through the prayers of Saint John the aggrieved and sorrowing received comfort.

In the Russian Church, Saint John the Warrior is sacredly revered as a great intercessor in sorrows and difficult circumstances.

The Uncovering of the Relics of the Monk German of Solovetsk occurred in the year 1484. Saint German lived as an hermit at the River Vyg, by a chapel. It was here in about the year 1429 that the Monk Savvatii, from Valaamo monastery, came upon him, in seeking a solitary place for his ascetic deeds. German told Savvatii about Solovetsk Island, and both monks, in negotiating the sea, settled upon Solovetsk. They built themselves a cell beneathe the Sekir Heights, where they lived for six years. Upon the repose of Savvatii (+ 27 September 1435), the Monk German continued his ascetic efforts on the island together with another wilderness-dweller, the Monk Zosima (Comm. 17 April). German lived on the island for more than 50 years.

Being unlettered, but made wise by Divine Providence and wanting to preserve the memory about the efforts of the Monk Savvatii to edify many others, he summoned clergy to write down his memories about the Monks Savvatii and Zosima, and about the events which occurred during their lifetime. The Monk German loved to listen to edifying readings and in his final instruction to his students he bid them gather books at the monastery. For the domestic and other needs of the monastery the monk into his old age made dangerous sailings and prolonged journeys to the mainland. On one of these excursions to Novgorod in 1479 he died at the Antoniev monastery. They conveyed his body to the Solovetsk monastery, but because of some ruffians they had to make burial at a chapel in the village of Khavron’in on the River Svira. In 1484, when it was decided to move the grave to the place of the activities of the monk, his relics were found undecayed.

The PriestMartyr Polychronios, Bishop of Babylon, Presbyters Parmenias, Elimos and Chrysotelos, Deacons Luke and Muko, Holy Persian Prince-Martyrs Abdones and Sennis, and the Holy Martyrs Olympios and Maximos suffered during the III Century during a time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Decius (249-251). Decius, having gained a victory over the Persians and having seized territories from them, found there many a Christian and he began a persecution against them. The Babylonian bishop, Saint Polychronios, his presbyters Parmenias, Elimos, Chrysotelos and two deacons, Luke and Muko, were arrested and brought to the emperor, who commanded them to offer sacrifice to idols. But Saint Polychronios boldly replied to Decius: “We do offer ourselves in sacrifice to our Lord Jesus Christ, but your insignificant idols, wrought by human hands, we shalt never worship”. For these words the enraged Decius had the confessors thrown into prison. At a second interrogation Saint Polychronios stood silent. Thereupon Decius said to the presbyters: “Your leader is voiceless”. Saint Parmenias retorted: “The holy bishop is not without voice, but he doth not wish to defile his pure lips and “cast pearls before swine”” (Mt. 7: 6). In a rage Decius commanded the tongue of Saint Parmenias to be cut out for these words. In spite of this happening, Parmenias, in turning to Saint Polychronios, clearly uttered the words: “Pray thou for me, father, for I behold upon thee the Holy Spirit”. By order of Decius they began to strike the holy Bishop Polychronios about the mouth with stones, and he, lifting up his eyes to heaven, gave up the spirit. They left his body laying there afront the pagan-temple of Saturn. By night there came the two Persian princes, Abdones and Sennis, secret Christians, and they buried the body of the holy martyr along the city walls.

Decius soon set off to the city of Kordula and gave orders to bring along the three presbyters and two deacons. At Kordula he again demanded the martyrs to offer sacrifice to idols, but Saint Parmenias, in spite of his cut-out tongue, loudly and firmly answered refusal for all.

Reckoning that Saint Parmenias could speak without a tongue through some sort of magic power, Decius gave orders to intensify the tortures and to burn at the confessors with fire. At this moment was heard a Voice from Heaven: “Come unto Me, ye humble of heart”. Decius considered this Voice also the work of magic and he gave orders to behead the martyrs. The Persian princes Abdones and Sennis by night carried off the bodies of the martyrs and buried them in their own village, near Kordula. Reports of this were made to Decius. They arrested the princes and brought them to the emperor who, in seeing their brave and steadfast confession of faith in Christ, commanded the holy princes to be locked up in prison. The saints rejoiced and glorified God for such a fate.

And on this same day another two Persians named Olympios and Maximos were brought before Decius on charges of being Christians. For their bold confession of faith in Christ, the holy martyrs after being fiercely tortured were beheaded by the sword. For five days their bodies lay unburied, but on the sixth day Christians secretly by night gave their remains reverent burial.

Returning to Rome, Decius took with him the captives Abdones and Sennis in chains. And at Rome, having summoned the pagan-priests, Decius demanded the saints to offer sacrifice to the gods, promising freedom and honours. The holy martyrs answered: “We offer ourselves in sacrifice only to our God Jesus Christ, – wherefore offer thy sacrifice to thine own gods”. Decius thereupon sentenced them to be devoured by wild beasts. They set loose upon them two lions, and later on four bears, which would not touch the holy martyrs but instead lay only at their feet. Then they ran through Abdones and Sennis with swords. Their bodies lay for three days afront an idol to frighten Christians. By night a secret Christian, Cyrenius by name, took the bodies of the martyrs and buried them in his own home. The holy Martyrs Abdones and Sennis suffered in the year 251. Their relics are preserved in the church of Saint Mark at Rome.

The PriestMartyr Bishop Valentine (Valentinus or Ualentinos) and his Three Disciples the Holy Martyrs Proculus, Ephibius and Apollonius, and Righteous Avundius lived during the III Century. Saint Valentine was bishop in Umbria (Italy), in the city of Interamnum. He had the gift from God of healing various maladies through prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ. during this time there had come from Athens to Rome the three pagan youths Proculus, Ephibius and Apollonius, for further study in the Roman sciences and language. They found themselves a tutor, by the name of Craton, and lived in his home. It so happened, that the son of Craton named Cherimon fell grievously ill, and his spine was so contorted that it left his head at his knees. Craton turned to Bishop Valentine with an ardent request for help for his sick son. Having come to Rome for Craton, the holy bishop secluded himself in the same room with the sick youth and prayed fervently all night. When day came, the happy parents beheld their son all healed, they believed in Christ and were baptised together with all their household. Craton’s students, the youths Proculus, Ephibius and Apollonius likewise accepted holy Baptism and became, together with Cherimon, devoted disciples of Saint Valentine. Fame about the spiritual teacher quickly spread, and many a youth and lad was converted to the faith in Christ. In their number was also the city-head’s son, Avundius, who having accepted holy Baptism was ablaze in spirit and openly confessed himself a Christian in front of everyone. This was a bold thing to do, since at this time pagan polytheism ruled in the world, and Christianity was persecuted. The wrath of the youth’s father and other city leaders fell upon holy Bishop Valentine, the teacher of the youths. They began to demand that renounce Christ and worship idols. After much torture they threw him into prison, where his students started coming to him. Learning of this, the city-head gave orders to take Valentine out of the prison and behead him. Saint Valentine’s students Proculus, Ephibius and Apollonius took the body of their teacher and carried it off to the city of Interamnum, where with reverence they buried it. They spent their days at the grave of the holy bishop in prayer, and to them gathered both believers and pagans also, whom they converted to the true faith. This became known to the authorities. They arrested the youths and threw them in prison. Fearing that people might break the sufferers out of prison, the executioners by night beheaded them. Righteous Avundius, learning that his friends had been locked up in prison, hastened off to them, but finding them no longer alive, he grieved deeply. He took up their bodies and buried them at the grave of holy Bishop Valentine.

The Okonsk Icon of the Mother of God, by tradition, was received by the Gruzian (Georgian) emperor Vakhtang IV from Jerusalem and initially it was situated at the Gaenat monastery in Gruzia. The Gruzian emperor’s son George Alexandrovich transferred the holy icon to the cathedral church of the village of Lyskov, Nizhegorod diocese.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos