Orthodox River


July 10 2020 - June 27 2020

Monk Sampson the Hospitable-to-Strangers (+ c. 530). Righteous Joanna the Myrhbearer (I). Martyr Marcius and Martyress Marcia. PriestMartyr Pierios, Presbyter of Antioch. Martyr Anektos of Caesarea (+ c. 284-305). Saint Marcellinus. Monks: Luke the Wilderness-Dweller; John the Hermit; Severus the Presbyter (V); George of Iveria and Athos (+ 1065, Gruzia).

Blessed Martin of Turov (+ post 1146). Monk Serapion of Kozheezersk (+ 1611).

The Monk Sampson the Hospitable-to-Strangers was the son of rich and illustrious Roman parents. In his youth he received an excellent education, he studied the medical arts, and for free he doctored the sick. After the death of his parents Saint Sampson generously distributed alms and set free his slaves, preparing himself to go into the wilderness.

With this intent un mind he soon journeyed from Rome to the East. But the Lord directed him onto a different path, that of service to neighbour, and so Saint Sampson came to Constantinople. Settling into a small house, the saint began to take in the wandering homeless, the poor and the sick, and he attended to them zealously. The Lord blessed the efforts of Saint Sampson and endowed him with the power of wonderworking. He healed the sick not only through being a skilled physician, but also as a bearer of the grace of God. The news about Saint Sampson spread widely. The patriarch, having summoned him, ordained him as presbyter.

One time it was revealed to the grievously sick emperor Justinian (527-565), that he could receive healing only through Saint Sampson. In praying, the saint extended his hand in the direction of the sick emperor, who then received relief, and soon recovered altogether. In gratitude the emperor wanted to reward his healer with silver and gold, but the saint refused and instead asked Justinian to build a domicile for wanderers and the sick. The emperor readily fulfilled his request.

All the rest of his life Saint Sampson devoted to serving his neighbour. He survived into old age and after a short illness he with joy expired to the Lord (+ c. 530). The saint was buried at the church of the holy Martyr Mokias. Many an healing was effected at the grave of Saint Sampson. His home for wanderers and the hospice remained open, and the saint did not cease to care for the suffering. He twice appeared to a neglectful worker of the hospice and upbraided him for his laziness. At the request of an admirer of Saint Sampson the vagrants-home was transformed into a church, and alongside it was built a new edifice for taking in the homeless. During the time of a powerful conflagration at Constantinople the flames did not touch the vagrants-home of Saint Sampson: through his prayers a strong rain poured down, which quenched the fire.

Blessed Martin of Turov served as a cook under the Turov bishops Simeon, Ignatii, Joakim (1144-1146) and George. This last hierarch retired Saint Martin because of his age. But the old man did not want to part from the monastery (the bishops made residence at the monastery of Saints Boris and Gleb), and so he accepted monasticism.

In his former work he had often overexerted himself and therefore often fell ill.

One time Saint Martin lay motionless and in moaning with sickness. He fervently called on holy Saints Boris and Gleb for help, and on the third day the saints appeared to him, gave him a sip of water, and healed him from his illness. After this miraculous healing, Blessed Martin survived for yet another year.

The Monk Serapion of Kozheezersk was brought to Moscow amongst the Kazan Tatar captives in the year 1551. They called him Murza (Tatar-prince) Turtas Gravirovich. He accepted Baptism with the name Sergei and lived in the home of the Moscow boyar-noble Zakharii Plescheev. Saint Sergei so sincerely accepted the Christian faith, that he decided to devote himself entirely to God. On a desolate island of Lake Kozha in 1560 he encountered the monk-hermit Nyphontii and stayed to live with him. At the fervent request of Saint Sergei, the monk Nyphontii tonsured him into monasticism with the name Serapion. In 1584, after the death of the monk Nyphontii, the Monk Serapion set off to Moscow and besought of tsar Feodor Ioannovich (1584-1598) a grammota land-deed for a monastery. And after his return to the monastery, the Monk Serapion with the gathered brethren made a clearing in the forest and built two churches: one in honour of the Holy Theophany and the other in honour of Saint Nicholas. Patriarch Job (1589-1605, + 1607)provided the Monk Serapion with the antimins for the church-altars. In 1608, when the Monk Serapion had become old, he made his disciple Avraamii the hegumen in place of himself. The Monk Serapion died in 1611 and was buried at a church of the Kozheezersk monastery. In 1613 the Kozheezersk monk Bogolep wrote down an account about the founding of the monastery and about its initial construction under the Monk Serapion. He compiled also a life of the Monk Serapion.

Saint Joanna the Myhrbearer, wife of Chuza, – the household steward of king Herod, was one of the women following and attending the Lord Jesus Christ during the time of His preaching and public ministry. And together with the other Myhrbearing Women, after the death on the Cross of the Saviour, Saint Joanna went to the Sepulchre to anoint with myrh the Holy Body of the Lord, and she heard from the Angels the joyful proclamation of His All-Glorious Resurrection.

The Holy Martyr Anektos of Caesarea was beheaded by the sword for his confession of faith in Christ during the persecution by Diocletian (284-305).

The Monk Severus the Presbyter during the VI Century served in a church of the MostHoly Mother of God in the village of Interocleum in Central Italy. He was noted for his virtuous and God-pleasing life. One time, when the saint was working in his garden, cutting grapes in the vineyard, they summoned him to administer the Holy Mysteries for the dying. Saint Severus said: “Go back, and I shalt catch up with you presently”. There remained only but a few more grapes to cut off, and Saint Severus dallied for awhile in the garden to finish the work. When he arrived for the sick person, they told him that the person was already dead. Saint Severus, regarding himself as guilty in the death of a man without absolvement, started to tremble and loudly he began to weep. He went into the house wherein lay the deceased, and with loud groaning and calling himself a murderer, in tears he fell down before the dead person. Suddenly the dead man came alive and related to everyone, that the demons wanted to grab hold his soul, but one of the Angels said: “Give him back, since over him doth weep Presbyter Severus, and on account of his tears the Lord hath granted him this man”. Saint Severus, giving thanks to the Lord, confessed and communed the resuscitated man with the Holy Mysteries. And that man in constant prayer survived for yet another 7 days, and then with joy reposed to the Lord.

The Monk George of Iveria and Athos, was born at Trialeti (a region of Southern Gruzia, the European Georgia) in the year 1009 (or 1014 by some sources) into the family of illustrious landowners named Maria and Yakov. And his father under a commission of the Gruzian emperor George I (1014-1027) journeyed to the Persian shah in the capacity of an envoy.

When the boy turned age 7, his parents brought him to the Tadzri women’s monastery, where his elder sister Tekle (Thekla) was being educated. Saint George spent three years here, and during this time he was twice miraculously saved from perishing by the Providence of God (in the River Ktsia, and another time from the flames of a fire that raged through the monastery).

In 1019 at the request of his uncles (his father’s brothers) – George the Scribe and Savva, who pursued ascetic life at the Khakhul’ men’s monastery, – the lad George received the blessing of the Khakhul’ monastery head Makarios to be tutored under the strict ascetic Ilarion Tualevi, who was reknown for his knowledge and profound spiritual life.

In 1022 Saint George was sent off to Constantinople, where over the course of twelve years he diligently studied the sciences (i.e. various disciplines) and he received quite an excellent education.

After his return to Gruzia in 1034 he took monastic tonsure at the Khakhul’ monastery under the blessed elder Ilarion Tualevi. A certain while later the Monk George gave away all his clothing to the poor whilst attiring himself in old tatters of clothing, and set off to venerate the holy places in Palestine.

After a short stay at various monasteries on Black Mountain near Antioch, the Monk George set off to the Wondrous Mount, to the monastery of Saint Simeon Divnogorets (“of Wondrous Mount”, + 459). He found there a spiritual guide in the elder George the Silent (+ 1068), who was also a Gruzinian, living in the crevice of a cliff. He spent three years at the monastery of Saint Romanos (from 1036- to 1039). At thirty years of age the Monk George accepted the monastic great schema from the elder George the Silent. And then in parting from him, he set off to Athos, to the Iveria monastery. Along the way the saint visited Jerusalem and prayed prostrating himself at the Sepulchre of the Lord.

The Monk George arrived at Athos in the year 1040. Here he continued with the transcription work of the Divine-service books and the works of the holy fathers of the Church, a task that had been started by the Monk Euphemios of Iveria (Comm. 13 May).

And at present the Gruzian-Georgian Orthodox Church recognises as canonical and permissible for church useage only this redaction of the Holy Scripture, ascribed to the pen of the Monk George of Iveria, who worthily completed the work of the Monk Euphemios.

In the Vita-Life of the Monk George there is included an incomplete list of his translations from the Greek: the Great Synaxarion, the Acts and the Epistles of the Holy Apostles, the twelve Divine-service Meneions (i.e. for each month), the Oktoikon (“Eight Tones”), the Triodions (the Lenten and the Bright-Paschalion), the Trebnik (or Euchologion, “Book of Needs”), the Psalter, the complete Chasoslov (“Book of Hours”), the “Hexaemeron” (“Six Days”) of Saint Basil the Great, the Letters of Saint Ignatios the God-Bearer, the OEcumenical Letters of Saint Cyril of Alexandria, a Book of Saint Gregory of Nyssa, a Book of Saint Theodore the Studite, a Book of the Proceedings of the Sixth OEcumenical Council, and “many another useful and holy book”.

From the translations of Saint Gregory of Iveria, from the Latin into the Greek there has come down to us the reknown work of bishop Dorotheos: “Concerning the Seventy Disciples of the Lord”. Widely reknown also is an original work by the Monk George of Iveria, the “Vitae of John and Euphemios”, which provides a detailed account about the founding and inner life of the Athos Iveria monastery under its first elders and heads – the Monks John and Euthymios (Comm. 12 July and 13 May).

After a year of obedience, the Monk George in 1042 was ordained to the dignity of priest and was appointed elder priest-monk at the cathedral church. He fulfilled likewise the duties of regent (choir-master). His time not involved in Divine-services he devoted to translation activity and poetic creativity. The Athos hymn-writing of the Monk George of Iveria, in particular the reknown “Evening Bell” was afterwards translated into many an European language.

After the death of the Iveria monastery hegumen Stephanos Khartulyari, the Monk George was chosen the new hegumen (the lots thrice pointed to him). Under the charge of the new hegumen, the monastery cathedral church in honour of the Dormition of the MostHoly Mother of God was rebuilt and made more substantial, and Gruzian dominion over the Iveria monastery was acknowledged. To this end the Monk George made visit to Constantinople, where he was admitted by the emperor Constantine IX Monomakhos (1042-1055), and received from him a grammota deed of endowment.

Having returned to the Iveria monastery, the monk left as its head George Oltiseli in place of himself, and he set off to the Black Mountain near Antioch. Actually, he was compelled to do so, since he had to defend before the Antioch Patriarch Theodosios III (1057-1076) the brethren of his Iveria monastery, who were suspected by the Greeks of being non-Orthodox. The Monk George succeeded not only in accomplishing this task, but he also persuaded the Antioch primate of the canonical legality of the autocephaly of the Gruzian-Georgian Orthodox Church, – preserving its Apostolic Succession back to the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called. From Antioch, at the invite of the Gruzian emperor Bagrat IV ((1027-1072), the Monk George set off to Gruzia. In Gruzia he spent five years: he taught the people by word and by deed, he assisted in the improvement of church life and he introduced his books of translation. Due to their highly erudite and literary quality, they were acknowledged by the Gruzian-Georgian Church as exemplary.

Having in mind the spiritual enlightening of the land, the Monk George selected 80 Gruzian youths and set off with them to Athos, in order to give them the fundamentals of an education. Along the way he visited Constantinople. Despite the agreement with his students to put off a meeting with the emperor, because he had taken sick and was aware of his own approaching end, the saint nonetheless hastened to present his students before the emperor Constantine X Lukas (1059-1067), and he received a grammota-decree for their education at the Athos school.

On the following day, 29 June 1065, Saint George peacefully expired to the Lord. The body of the monk was reverently conveyed to Athos, and it was glorified along the way by evident signs of God’s mercy. It lay for a year in a coffin without burial in the church of All Saints. When the coffin was opened, the body of the saint was totally without decay: not one hair fell from his head or beard. The coffin of Saint George was put near the reliquary of Saint Euphymios on 24 May 1066, on the day commemorating the memory of the Monk Simeon Divnogorets. With the consent of the Katholikos-Patriarch of All Gruzia John IV (1110-1142), annually on this day was celebrated the memory of Saint George, but later it was moved to the day of his blessed repose, and at present it is celebrated on 27 June.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos