May 25 2020 - May 12 2020
Sainted-Hierarchs: Epiphanios, Bishop of Cyprus (+ 403); Sabinos, Archbishop of Cyprus (V); Polybios, Bishop of Rinocyreia (V); Germanos, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 740); Epiphanios and others.
PriestMartyr Ermogen, Patriarch of Moscow and of All Russia the Wonderworker (Glorification 1913). Monk Dionysii, Archimandrite of Radonezh (+ 1633). Monks Proterias and Theodore.
Martyrs: John Vlakhos (+ 1622); Pancratius (+ 304); Saint Philip Argyrius (Silversmith) (V).
Consecration of Desyatin Temple of the Uspenie (Dormition / Repose) of the MostHoly Mother of God at Kiev (996).
Sainted Epiphanios, Bishop of Cyprus, lived during the IV Century in Phoenicia. By descent he was Jewish, and in his youth he received a fine education. He was converted to the Christian faith after he saw how a certain monk, Lucian by name, gave away his own clothing to a poor person. Struck by the compassion of the monk, Epiphanios besought him to instruct him in Christianity. He accepted Baptism and settled in the monastery, organised by his teacher Lucian. At the monastery he pursued asceticism under the guidance of the experienced elder Ilarion, and he occupied himself with the copying of Greek books and progressing in the monastic life. Saint Epiphanios for his ascetic deeds was granted the gift of wonderworking, but in order to avoid human glory, he set out from the monastery into the Spanidrion wilderness. Robbers caught him there and held him for three months in captivity. By his talk about repentance, the saint brought one of the gang of robbers to the holy faith in the True God. When they set free the holy ascetic, with him also went the robber. Saint Epiphanios took him to his monastery and baptised him with the name John. And from that time he became a faithful disciple of Saint Epiphanios, and he carefully recorded in writing about the life and miracles of his preceptor. Reports about the righteous life of Saint Epiphanios spread far beyond the bounds of the monastery. The saint set out a second time into the wilderness with his disciple John. But even in the wilderness disciples started to come to him. Thus emerged a new monastery. After a certain while Saint Epiphanios undertook a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for veneration of its holy artifacts and from there returned to the Spanidrion monastery. The people of the city of Lycia dispatched the monk Polybios to Saint Epiphanios with a request to occupy the bishop’s throne of their dead archpastor. But the perspicacious ascetic, having learned of this intention, secretly set out into the Pathysian wilderness to the great ascetic Ilarion (Comm. 21 October), under whose guidance he pursued asceticism in his youthful years. The saints spent two months in mutual prayer, and then Ilarion sent Saint Epiphanios to Salamis. Bishops were gathered there for the selecting of a new archpastor in place of one recently died. The Lord revealed to the eldest of them, Bishop Papios, that the Monk Epiphanios arriving in the city should be chosen bishop. When Epiphanios arrived, Saint Papios led him into the church, where in obedience to the will of the participants of the Council, Epiphanios was obliged to give his consent. Thus occurred the elevation of Saint Epiphanios to the bishop’s cathedra of Salamis in about the year 367.
Sainted Epiphanios won reknown upon the archpastoral chair by his great zeal for the faith, love and charity towards the poor, and simplicity of character. He underwent much from the slander and enmity of some of his clergy. For his purity of life, Sainted Epiphanios received the granting to see at Divine Liturgy the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Holy Gifts. One time the saint, celebrating the Mystery, was deprived of this vision. He then became suspicious of one of the clergy and quietly said to him: “Depart, my son, since today thou art unworthy to participate at the celebrating of the Mystery”.
On this event the writings of his disciple John break off, since he then fell sick and died. The further record of the life of Saint Epiphanios was continued by a second of his disciples, Polybios (afterwards bishop of city of Rinocyreia).
Through the intrigues of the empress Eudoxia and the Alexandria patriarch Theophilos, towards the end of his life Saint Epiphanios was summoned to Constantinople for a church council, which was convened for judgement upon the great saint, John Chrysostom (Comm. 14 September and 13 November). But Saint Epiphanios, not wanting to take part in a lawless council, left Constantinople. While sailing upon the ship, the saint sensed the nearness of his death, and he gave his disciples final instructions – to keep the Commandments of God and to preserve the mind from impure thoughts – and two days later he died. The people of Salamis met the body of their archpastor with carriages, and on 12 May 403 they buried him with reverence in a new church built by the saint.
The Seventh OEcumenical Council (Sobor) named Sainted Epiphanios as a Father and Teacher of the Church. In the writings of Saint Epiphanios, the “Panarion” and the “Ankoratos” contain refutation of the Arian and other heresies. In others of his works are encountered valuable church-historical traditions and directives on the Greek translation of the Bible.
Sainted Sabinos, Bishop of Cyprus, was born in the Phoenician city of Lyceia. Having learned of the reknown ascetic, – the Monk Epiphanios of Cyprus, Sabinos journeyed to him and took monastic vows. During the course of five years he pursued asceticism with the Monk Epiphanios in the wilderness. Afterwards he wrote about the life and doings of Saint Epiphanios. When Sainted Epiphanios was elevated to the Cypriot cathedra (bishop’s chair), he then ordained Saint Sabinos to the dignity of presbyter. After the death of his ordaining-bishop and spiritual guide, Sainted Sabinos became his successor upon the Cyprus cathedra. The sagacious archpastor zealously fulfilled a new obedience, defending the Church from heretics. He died in his declining years in the mid‑V Century.
Sainted Polybios was from his youthful years a disciple of Saint Epiphanios of Cyprus; he accompanied him on all his journeys and he wrote down about the life and miracles of his teacher.
Saint Polybios accompanied Saint Epiphanios when he was returning from Constantinople, – not wanting to take part in the council condemning Saint John Chrysostomos. Dying, Saint Epiphanios instructed Saint Polybios: “Go to Egypt, and after death I shall concern myself about thee”. Saint Polybios with humility fulfilled the bidding of his teacher and, not waiting for the burial of the body, he set out to Egypt, where he was made bishop of the city of Rinocyreia. For his virtuous ascetic life, Saint Polybios was granted the gift of wonderworking. Thus, the Lord once through his prayer sent rain during a time of drought and made abundant the harvest upon the fields. Saint Polybios reposed to God in old age in the V Century.
Sainted Germanos, Patriarch of Constantinople, was born at Constantinople in the VII Century. His father, one of the foremost senators in Byzantium, was killed by order of the emperor Constantine Pogonatos (668-685), and the boy Germanos was emasculated and given over to church clergy, where he deeply studied Holy Scripture. For his sanctity of life, Germanos was made bishop in the city of Kizikum. Saint Germanos rose up steadfastly in defense of the Orthodox faith against the iconoclast heretics. He was later made patriarch of Constantinople. Saint Germanos continued to stand up against the iconoclasts and to their spokesman, the emperor-heretic Leo III the Isaurian (717-741). But the contest was unequal, and he was forced to put his omophor upon the prestol' (altar-table) in the altar, and to resign the archpastoral cathedra. Then the enraged emperor, – having accused the Patriarch the day before of heresy, sent soldiers, who subjected the saint to beatings and threw him out of the patriarchal residence. Saint Germanos was Patriarch for 14 years and 5 months. He settled into a monastery, where he spent the remaining days of his life. Holy Patriarch Germanos died in the year 740, at age 95, and was buried in the Khoron monastery in Constantinople. Afterwards his relics were transferred to France.
At the Seventh OEcumenical Council (787), the name of Patriarch Germanos was written into the diptych-list of the saints. Written by him was: “Meditation on church matters or Commentary on the liturgy”; also a composition, devoted to an explanation of difficult places of Holy Scripture, and another work concerning the rewards of the righteous after death. Providing a wealth of historical accounts is his important work about the various heresies that had arisen since apostolic times, and also about the church councils taking place during the reign of the emperor Leo the Iconoclast. There are preserved also three missives from the Patriarch about the veneration of icons, which were read at the Seventh OEcumenical Council. His other works present his hymns in praise of the saints, discourses on the feasts of the Entry into the Temple, the annunciation and the Uspenie (Repose) of the MostHoly Mother of God, and on the restoration of the church in honour of the Placing of the Venerable Belt (Poyas, Zona) of the MostHoly Mother of God.
The PriestMartyr Ermogen, Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus', was glorified into the rank of the saints on 12 May 1913.
During the course of three centuries from generation to generation the memory of Patriarch Ermogen as a sainted bishop-martyr was passed on, and popular faith in him grew as an intercessor and supplicant for the Russian land before the Throne of the Almighty. During terrible years of national hardship, the supplicative thought of the nation turned itself to the memory of the heroic Patriarch. The Russian people came to his tomb with their personal tribulations, sickness and infirmity, reverently asking help of sainted Ermogen, believing him a fervent suppliant and intercessor before the Lord. And the All‑Merciful Lord rewarded their belief…
Towards the day of his solemn glorification – 300 years from the time of death of the Priest-martyr Ermogen, – believers from all ends of Russia began to flock to Moscow. Pilgrims hastened to venerate the relics of the holy Patriarch, located in the Uspensky Sobor (Dormition Cathedral) of the Kremlin, where panikhidai were done almost without interruption. On the eve of the glorification a procession was made, at the head of which they carried an icon of Saint Ermogen, and after it a grave-cover, on which the saint was depicted full-length in mantle and with staff. Alongside the icon of the Patriarch they carried an icon of the Monk Dionisii of Radonezh – his fellow-striver in the spiritual and the patriotic deeds in the liberation of the Russian land from Polish-Lithuanian usurpers. At the bell-tower of Ivan the Great glistened a tremendous banner: “Rejoice, Priest-Martyr Ermogen, Great Intercessor of the Russian land”. An hundred thousand candles blazed in the hands of believers proclaiming the Saint of God. At the conclusion of the procession, ‑‑ at the shrine with the relics of the Patriarch, they began readings of the Paschal Canon together with an appended Canon to Sainted Ermogen.
The all-night vigil was done under the open skies on all the Kremlin squares. On this night there occurred a number of healings through the graced prayers of Sainted Ermogen. Thus, for example, a certain sick person came to the Uspensky Sobor on crutches, but became aware of healing as he approached the shrine with the relics of the Saint. Another sick person was healed, having suffered from terrible crippling. They brought him on a stretcher to the reliquary of the Priest-martyr Ermogen, where he received full healing. These and other similar healings, eye-witnessed by a multitude of the faithful, became remarkable proofs of the saintliness of the new Russian wonderworker.
On Sunday, 12 May, at 10:00 in the morning was celebrated Divine Liturgy at the Uspensky Sobor. At the celebration of the solemn glorification of the new Saint was His Beatitude Gregorios, Patriarch of Antioch, presiding over the service. At the finish of Liturgy in all the churches of Moscow there were served moliebens to Sainted Ermogen and procession made to the Moscow Kremlin, – in which took part more than 20 hierarchs, accompanying the solemn procession singing: “O Holy Hierarchical Father Ermogen, pray unto God for us”. From this day began liturgical veneration of Sainted Ermogen. Thus was fulfilled the wish of the faithful Russian people, through whose prayers the Russian Orthodox Church received a beneficent Heavenly Patron of the Fatherland.
The Holy Synod of the Russian Church established as days of celebration to the Priest-Martyr Ermogen, Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus': 17 February – his repose (the account about his life and works are located under this day), and 12 May – his glorification into the ranks of Sainted-hierarchs.
Great is the all-national significance of Sainted Ermogen, a tireless struggler for the purity of Orthodoxy and the unity of the Russian land. His ecclesial and civil-patriotic activity during the course of several centuries serves as an outstanding example of his ardent faith and love for the Russian people. The ecclesial activity of the Arch-hierarch is characterised by an attentive and strict regard for Divine-services. Under him were published: a Gospel, a Monthly Meneion for September (1607), October (1609), November (1610), and the first twelve days of December, and also there was printed the “Great Primary Ustav / Rule” in 1610. In this Sainted Ermogen did not limit himself to providing a blessing of the edition, but carefully oversaw the accuracy of the text. With the blessing of Sainted Ermogen also was translated from Greek into the Russian language the Service to the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called (Comm. 30 November) and the celebration of memory was initiated in the Uspensky Sobor. Under the supervision of the Arch-hierarch, there were made new presses for the printing of Divine-service books and a new building for printing was built, – which however was damaged during the time of the 1611 conflagration, when Moscow was burnt by the Poles. Concerned about the order of Divine-services, Saint Ermogen compiled a “Missive directed to all the people, especially priests and deacons, about the improvement of Church singing”. The “Missive” chastises clergy-servers in the non-ustav doing of Church services – for much-talking, and laypeople for irreverent attitudes towards Divine-services.
The literary activity of the Arch-hierarch of the Russian Church is widely known. He wrote: – An Account about the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God and the Service to this Icon (1594); A Missive to Patriarch Job, containing an account about the Kazan Martyrs (1591); a collection of articles in which are examined questions about Divine-services (1598); patriotic documents and appeals, directed to the Russian nation (1606-1613), and other works.
The remarks of his contemporaries speak of Patriarch Ermogen as a man of outstanding mind and erudition: “a Master of great reason and thought and of sharp mind”, “very remarkable and of much deliberation”, “very accomplished of wisdom and refined in book learning”, “ever concerning himself about Divine literature and all the books about the Old Law and the New Grace, and chasing down to the end various Church ustavs and law principles”. Saint Ermogen busied himself much in the monastic libraries, foremost of which, – in the very rich library of the Moscow Chudov monastery, where he copied out from ancient manuscripts very precious historical accounts, located in the their original in the chronicle manuscripts. In the XVII Century they called the Chronicle by His Holiness Patriarch Ermogen the “Voskresensk Chronicle”. In the collected works of the Arch-pastor of the Russian Church and his arch-pastoral documents there are constantly encountered references to Holy Scripture, and examples taken from history, that testify to his profound knowledge of the Word of God and his erudition in the Church literature of his time.
Patriarch Ermogen brought together and displayed aspects from this erudition in his preaching and teaching. The remarks of his contemporaries characterise the moral figure of the Arch-hierarch as “a man of reverence”, “of known purity of life”, “a true pastor of the flock of Christ”, “a sincere upholder of the Christian faith”.
These qualities of Saint Ermogen were quite especially apparent during the Time of Troubles, when the Russian land was overwhelmed by the misfortune of internal chaos, and worsened by the Polish-Lithuanian intrigue. During this dark period, the Arch-hierarch of the Russian Church selflessly guarded the Russian realm, by word and by deed defending the Orthodox faith from Latinism, and also the unity of the Fatherland from enemies both internal and external. For his act of saving his native land, Sainted Ermogen won the crown of a martyr’s death, having passed over into an Heavenly and graciously prayerful intercessor for our fatherland before the Throne of the Holy Trinity.
The Monk Dionysii of Radonezh, – in the world David Zobninovsky, was born about 1570 in the city of Rzhev. A novice, and then head of the Staritsk Uspenie monastery, – during the time of the Time of Troubles he was the foremost helper of Sainted Ermogen, Patriarch of Moscow. From 1611 the Monk Dionysii was archimandrite of the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra. Under him, in the monastery environs was opened an house and hospice for the suffering, the injured and those left homeless during the time of the Polish-Lithuanian incursion. During time of famine under his direction the brethren of the Lavra ate oat bread and water, in order to save the wheat and the rye bread for the sick. In 1611-1612, together with the steward of the Trinity-Sergiev monastery – the monk Avraam Palitsyn (+ 1625), he wrote circulative missives with an appeal to send fighting men and monetary means for the liberation of Moscow from the Poles, and also to prince Dimitrii Pozharsky and to all the military people with an appeal to hasten the campaign upon Moscow.
Monastery schooling helped the Monk Dionysii during the very difficult circumstances of the bad years to preserve unextinguished his inner light of the commands of Christ. An high degree of monastic attainment, reached by the monk through unceasing prayer, imparted to him a gift of wonderworking. But he carefully kept secret his spiritual life from people, to whom this knowledge might serve only to detriment. “Ask not the monk about the doings of the monk, – said the Monk Dionysii, – since for us, monks, it is a great misfortune – to reveal secrets to laymen. It is written about this, that let it be done in secret, so that thy left hand not steal it away… it behooves us to be secretive, so that our deeds be unknown, since by this the devil cannot lead us to all manner of negligence and indolence”. About the deep inner ponderings and comprehensions by him of secrets of the knowledge of God it is possible to judge only by those things which became apparent, when circumstances compelled the Monk Dionysii to openly active deeds.
One such known event was his propensity for correction of the Divine-service books. In 1616 the Monk Dionysii spoke of work on correction of the printed Trebnik (Needs-Book) – on the basis of comparison of the ancient Slavonic manuscripts and various Greek editions. During the time of work, investigators discovered discrepancies in other books, edited in the period between patriarchs (1612-1619). But in response to these shortcomings, people accused the Monk Dionysii of heresy at a Council of 1618. Deprived of the right of priestly-service and excommunicated from the Church, he was imprisoned in the Novospassky monastery, where they wanted to kill him by starvation. The intervention in 1619 of the Jerusalem Patriarch Philaret (1619-1633) halted his imprisonment, and he was cleared of the charges. The Monk Dionysii was known for his strict oversight of the monastery ustav (rule), for his personal participation with the brethren in monastery tasks and in the rebuilding of the monastery after the siege of the Lavra. The Life of and Canon to the monk was composed by the Trinity-Sergiev monastery steward Simon Azaryn and added to by the priest Ioann Nasedka, a co-worker of the Monk Dionysii during the time of correcting the Divine-service books. The Monk Dionysii reposed on 12 May 1633 and was buried in the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra.
The Holy Martyr Pancratius was a native of Phrygia, and as a fourteen year old youth he suffered martyrdom at Rome for his faith in Christ during the time of the persecution under Diocletian (284-305). His relics were buried in a Roman church, named in his honour. The Martyr Pancratius is especially venerated by the Western Church.
The Holy Martyr John Vlakhos, born of a boyar, at age fifteen fell into captivity to the Turks and was taken to Constantinople. For his refusal to violate Christianity and accept Islam, he was hung by the Turks after fierce tortures on 12 May 1662 at Parmak‑kapi.
Saint Philp Argyrius (Silversmith) was a deacon, and then presbyter during the reign of the emperor Arcadius (395-408). For his holiness of life he was vouchsafed the gift of casting out demons. The saint of God died at the beginning of the V Century, and his body was buried in the city of Arcironum in Sicily.
© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos