May 23 2020 - May 10 2020

Apostle Simon Zelotes (I).

Sainted Simon, Bishop of Vladimir and Suzdal', and at Kiev, in the Nearer Caves (+ 1226).

Martyrs: Altheus, Philadelphus, Cyprian, Onysimus, Erasmus and others (+ 251); Isykhios of Antioch (IV); Vasilii (Basil) of Mangazeia (Transfer of Relics 1670). Nun Isidora the Fool (VI). Blessed Taisia (V). Monk Lawrence the Egyptian (VI).

Kievo-Bratsk Icon of the Mother of God (1654).

The Holy Apostle Simon Zelotes hailed from Cana of Galilee. He was a son of Joseph the Betrothed, and hence a brother of the Lord after the flesh, and he was also one of the 12 Apostles. The first miracle which the Saviour worked, – the transforming of water into wine, occurred at the house of Simon: at the time of a wedding-feast there was insufficient wine for the guests. Then the Lord, at the prompting of the MostHoly Mother of God, transformed water into wine. Struck by the miracle, Simon with all his heart and soul believed in the Lord Jesus as the Promised Messiah and, having left behind everything, he followed after Him. Simon received the title “Zelotes”, i.e. a zealot, meaning a person who is zealous. On the day of Pentecost he received the gift of the Holy Spirit together with the other Apostles. The holy Apostle Simon preached the teaching of Christ at Judea, Egypt, Libya, Cyrenia and Britain. At Abkhazia he accepted a martyr’s death, and was crucified on a cross. He was buried at the city of Nikopsia around Sukhum. Afterwards (in the XIX Century), at the place where the holy Apostle Simon asceticised near Mount Iveria, there was established the Novoathonite monastery of Simon the Canaanite. To the present day is preserved the cave wherein the holy Apostle Simon asceticised.

Sainted Simon, Bishop of Vladimir and Suzdal', was an author of the Lives of the Kievo-Pechersk monastic fathers, and he became a monk at the Pechersk monastery, sometime in the second half of the XII Century. In the year 1206 he was appointed hegumen of the Vladimir Nativity of the Mother of God monastery, and in 1214, at the wish of prince Georgii Vsevolodovich (+ 1238), he was made the first bishop of Vladimir-on-the-Klyazma and Suzdal'. In 1218 a church was consecrated by him at the Nativity monastery, and in the year 1225 – a cathedral church at Suzdal'. The greatprince deeply respected Saint Simon and was prepared to open up a new bishop’s cathedra-chair at Suzdal' for his friend, – the monk Polykarp of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery, who sought after spiritual vain-glory. But Sainted Simon, seeing into the spiritual condition of Polykarp, talked the greatprince out of his intent, and to Polykarp himself he wrote a deeply moving missive, in which he proffered his friend guidance against his defects of soul. The epistle of Simon was placed at the beginning of the Kievo-Pechersk Paterikon and presented the author under his name as a man of learning. On the eve of his repose in the year 1226, the saint took on the schema. Initially his body was buried at Vladimir, but later on, in accord with the last wishes of the saint himself, his body was transferred after several years to the Kievo-Pechersk Lavra, where it rests in the Antoniev Caves.

The Holy Martyrs Altheus, Philadelphus, Cyprian, Onysimus, Erasmus and 14 others suffering with them, lived during the III Century and came from Italy. Altheus, Philadelphus and Cyprian were sons of a governor in Italy, Vitelius. They were enlightened by faith in Christ and baptised by Saint Onysimus. During this period the emperor Licinius gave orders to seek out and hand over the Christians for torture. The brothers set off to Rome together with Onysimus, Erasmus and 14 other Christians. At Rome they crushed the chest of Saint Onysimus with an heavy stone, from which he died. Erasmus and the 14 Martyrs were beheaded. The brothers Altheus, Philadelphus and Cyprian suffered in Sicily, in the city of Mesopolis Leontii, where they had been dispatched to from Rome. This occurred in the year 251, under the emperor Decius. They cut out the tongue of Saint Altheus and he bled to death, Philadelphus they burnt over an iron lattice, and Cyprian they burnt on an hot pan. In the year 1517 their relics were discovered at Leontini (Lentini).

The Holy Martyr Isykhios of Antioch lived during the reign of Maximian Galerius (305-311) in the city of Antioch, where he occupied a notable and high official position from the imperial court. Maximian issued an edict, by which all Christians were deprived of military rank and expelled from military service. Those that would not change from the Christian faith he ordered to be taken from them the soldier’s belt and insignia of military decoration, and have them degraded to the level of hired servants. In this number also was Saint Isykhios. Maximian ordered Isykhios to remove from himself the garb of a dignitary, put on vulgar attire and be amidst the women-servants. After several days he summoned Isykhios and asked: “Lo, art thou not ashamed to remain in such dishonour?” Saint Isykhios answered: “The honours which I had from thee were but temporal”. Then Maximian gave orders to drown Saint Isykhios in a river, with a millstone tied about his neck. The exact year of death of the martyr is not known.

The Nun Isidora, Fool-for-Christ, asceticised in the Tabenea monastery (Egypt) during the VI Century. The maiden Isidora took upon herself the feat of folly, she acted like one insane and did not partake of food together with the sisters of the monastery. Many of them regarded her with contempt, but Isidora bore all this with great patience and meekness, blessing God in everything. She toiled in the kitchen and fulfilled at the monastery the very dirty and hard tasks, cleansing the monastery of every impurity. The Nun Isidora covered her head with a plain dish-rag, and in place of cooked food she drank the soapy wash-water from the pots and dishes. She never became angry, never insulted anyone with a word, never grumbled against God or the sisters, and was given to silence.

One time a wilderness monk, Saint Pitirim, had a vision. An Angel of God appeared to him and said: “Go to the Tabenea monastery. There thou wilt see a sister, wearing on her head a dish-rag. She doth serve them all with love and bears their contempt without grumbling. Her heart and her thoughts rest always with God. By comparison thou dost sit in solitude, but thine thoughts flit about all over the world”.

The elder set out to the Tabenea monastery, but among the sisters gathered he did not see the one pointed out to him in the vision. Then they led Isidora to him, considering her a demoniac. Isidora fell down at the knees of the elder, asking his blessing. But the Monk Pitirim himself bowed down to the ground to her and said: " Bless me first, venerable mother!" To the astonished questions of the sisters the elder answered: “Isidora before God is higher up than all of us!” Then the sisters began to repent, confessing all the insults hurled by them at Isidora, and they asked forgiveness of her. The saint, however, distressed over her fame, secretly hid herself away from the monastery, and her ultimate fate remained unknown. They presume that she died not later than the year 365.

In Egypt in the V Century lived a young Christian by the name of Taisia. Left an orphan after the death of her rich parents, she led a pious life, her wealth she distributed to the destitute, and on her estate she gave shelter to a skete of monks. Afterwards, however, Taisia was allured by worldly temptations and began to lead a sinful life. Then the elders of the skete besought the ascetic John the Short-statured (Kolobos, Comm. 9 November) to go to Taisia and persuade her to repent. The elder set off on the pathway, and the monks began to pray. Taisia’s servant did not want to allow the elder into the house. Whereupon he said: “Tell the mistress, that I bring to her something very precious”. Taisia mirthfully came to meet the monk. But the monk, looking her in the face, began to cry. “I weep, – said he, – over thee, since thou hast forsaken thy bridegroom the Lord Jesus Christ and given thyself over to satan”. The words of the elder pierced the soul of Taisia like a fiery arrow, and her gaiety instantly vanished. In fright she implored the elder, whether repentance was possible for such a sinner as she. The elder answered, that the Saviour awaited her turnabout, since this is why He came, to seek out and to save the perishing.

In the feeling of repentance that enveloped her, and hearing in the words of the elder a summoning of the Lord Himself to turn herself round to life eternal, Taisia stood up and went out from her house, not giving any sort of disposition over her property, such that even the monk marveled. In this very hour Taisia turned away from everything that connected her to her former, sinful life. Following after the elder into the wilderness, she hastened to re-union with God in penitence and in prayer. Night fell. The elder prepared for Taisia a place to lay down for sleep, having fashioned a pillow for her from the sand, and he himself went off somewhat farther, and fell asleep after making evening prayer. In the middle of the night he was wakened by a light coming down from the heavens to the place where Taisia was at rest. In the beams of the light the monk espied holy angels, ascending with the soul of Taisia. When he went over to Taisia, he found her already dead. Prayerfully giving the body of the saint over to burial, the Monk John returned to the skete and told the monks about what had happened; all offered up thanks to God for His mercy to Taisia, who repented in a single moment, like the wise repentant-thief.

The Holy Martyr Vasilii (Basil), Mangazeia Wonderworker, – was the first saint glorified in the Siberian land. He accepted a martyr’s death on 4 April 1602, and from the mid-XVII Century he is deeply venerated for manifold manifestations of grace in help of infirmities, in sorrow and in desperate straits.

Blessed Vasilii was the son of a not-rich inhabitant of Yaroslavl', Feodor by name, and was taken by a certain rich Yaroslavl' merchant to a place for the selling of his wares in sub-polar Mangazeia – one of the first Russian cities in Siberia.

Vasilii strictly fulfilled the Christian commandments. From his early years his integrity was obvious to all. Meekness and humility were his finery, and his heart was filled with faith in God and by piety. Love for prayer impelled him during time of Divine-services to leave off with mundane concerns and to go to the holy church.

The devout youth just barely turned age 19, when the All-Supreme, “looking out for his virtue, did intend to summon him to eternal blessedness, the which to attain from this temporal life is impossible otherwise, than by the narrow and afflicted path of an external testing”.

As the Church tradition testifies, one time, when Blessed Vasilii was at prayer in church during the Paschal matins, thieves plundered the wares of his master. An explanation was demanded of Vasilii. Despite the many shouts of his master, Righteous Vasilii remained in church until the end of the Divine-services. His money-loving master, at the instigation of the devil, suspected Vasilii of being an accomplice in the crime and upon his return from the church he was subjected to insults and beatings. The guiltless youth answered his tormentor: “I have in truth taken none of thine goods”. Then the master led Vasilii off to the city military-commander, who subjected the sufferer to new cruel torments. The merchant, enraged at the patient silence of Vasilii, in anger struck him with a ring of ware-house keys, and from this blow Blessed Vasilii died.

The body of the innocent martyr was put in a grave and without Christian burial was committed to the earth, “where it is duly moist from water”. But the All-Mighty Lord after the passage of 47 years willed for it to appear from the bosom of the earth and to be glorified by many miracles.

Saint Vasilii many a time helped lost and danger-threatened travelers and fur-hunters; he healed palsy, blindness, and various other maladies; through the prayers of mothers he healed children, and preserved the despondent from suicide. There have been preserved copies of the Life of Saint Vasilii (XVII-XIX Cent.) that testify about the abundant manifestations of grace through prayers to the Mangazeia wonderworker.

In 1659 with the blessing of the Tobolsk metropolitan, Simeon, there was made an inspection of the relics of the saint, and from that time there began to spread veneration of him as one truly God-pleasing. In 1670 with the construction of the Turokhansk monastery of the Holy Trinity, priestmonk Tikhon transferred the relics of Righteous Vasilii into the monastery founded by him. In 1719 this monastery was visited by the great Siberian missionary – the Tobolsk metropolitan, Philothei (Leschinsky), and he venerated the relics of the saint and compiled a canon to him. Towards the end of the first third of the XVIII Century there were compiled three services and several discourses on the day of memory of Righteous Vasilii.

The veneration of the God-pleasing saint contributed not a little to the conversion from paganism to Orthodoxy of the Tungus, Evenki and Yurak peoples. The peoples of the North turn to Saint Vasilii as a patron saint for the fur-hunter tradesmen.

One of the first icons of Saint Vasilii was written by a novice of the Tobolsk metropolitan Pavel – the painter Luke, on the occasion of his miraculous deliverance from death. On the holy icons Saint Vasilii is depicted “with a boyish face, and small of stature”, “in image of reverence, eyes having a sparkle, gazing intently, and the hair of his head dark blond”. On several of the icons of the saint the Trinity Turukhansk monastery is depicted, and over it on a mount is Vasilii praying – in but a shirt and without footwear. Sometimes also on the icons was depicted the suffering of the saint at the hands of the merchant and military-commander. Depictions of Saint Vasilii of Mangazeia are known of at the Vladimir cathedral in Kiev, at Novgorod, and at Moscow.

One of the first days of memory of the saint was on 22 March, when Holy Church remembers a saint of same name with him – the PriestMartyr Basil of Ancyra. Afterwards, at the Turukhansk Trinity monastery his memory began to be celebrated on 10 May, in honour of remembrance of the transfer of his relics from Mangazeia to Turukhan. An earlier commemoration of Righteous Vasilii of Manganzeia was done under 6 June, on the day of appearance of his relics.

The Kievo-Bratsk Icon of the Mother of God, besides 10 May, is celebrated also on 6 September, 2 June and on Saturday of the Fifth Week of great Lent. The account about this icon is located under 6 September.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos