November 18 2020 - November 05 2020

Sainted Jona, Archbishop of Novgorod (+ 1470).

Martyrs Galaktion and Epistimia (III).

Disciples from the Seventy: Patrobus, Hermas, Linus, Caius, Philologos (I). Martyrs: Domninos, Timothy, Theophilos, Theotimos, Dorotheos the Presbyter, Eupsykhios, Karterias, Nearchos and Pamphylos, suffering in Palestine (+ 307). PriestMartyr Castor the Bishop and Martyr Agathangelus.

Sainted Jona, Archbishop of Novgorod, in the world named John (Ioann), was early on left orphaned and then adopted by a certain pious widow living in Novgorod. She raised the child and sent him off to school. Blessed Michael Klopsky, one time chancing to meet John on the street, foretold that he would become archbishop of Novgorod. John received tonsure at the Otensk wilderness-monastery, 50 versts distant from the city, and he became hegumen of this monastery. It was from here that the Novgorod people chose him as their archbishop in 1458, after the death of Sainted Evphymii. Saint Jona enjoyed great influence at Moscow, and during his time as hierarch the Moscow princes did not infringe upon the independence of Novgorod. The Moscow Metropolitan Saint Jona (1449-1461) was a friend of the Novgorod Archbishop Saint Jona, and desired to see him become his successor. Archbishop Jona built for the first time in the Novgorod lands – a church in honour of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh (in 1463). Concerning himself over reviving traditions of the old days in the Novgorod Church, he summoned to Novgorod the reknown compiler of Saints' Lives – Pakhomii the Logothete, who wrote on the basis of local sources both services and vitae of the best known Novgorod Saints.

And to this time period belongs also the beginnings of the founding of the Solovetsk monastery. Saint Jona rendered much help and assistance in the organising of the monastery. To the Monk Zosima he gave a special land-grant letter of blessing (in conjunction with the secular authorities of Novgorod), by which was bestown over the whole of Solovetsk Island under the land-holdings of the new monastery.

The saint, after his many toils, and sensing the approach of his end, wrote a spiritual last-instruction to bury his body at the Otensk monastery. On 5 November 1470, having communed the Holy Mysteries, the saint expired to the Lord.

There has survived to the present day a Letter of Saint Jona to metropolitan Theodosii, written in the year 1464. The life of the saint was written in the form of a short account in the year 1472 (included in the work, “Memorials of Old Russian Literature”, and likewise in the “Veliki Chet’i-Minei” (“Great Reading Menaion”) of Metropolitan Makarii, under 5 November). In 1553, after the uncovering of the relics of Archbishop Jona, an account was compiled about this event, from the pen of the monk Zinovii of Otensk. A special work about the miracles of the saint is to be met with in manuscripts of the XVII Century.

The Holy Martyrs Galaktion and Epistimia: A rich and distinguished couple named Klitophon and Leukippia lived in the city of Phoenician Emesa, and for a long time they were childless. The spouses gave over much gold to the pagan priests, but still they remained childless.

The city of Emesa in the III Century was governed by a Syrian named Secundus, put there by the Roman Caesars. He was a merciless and zealous persecutor of Christians, and to intimidate them he gave orders to display out on the streets the instruments of refined torture. The slightest suspicion of belonging to “the sect of the Galileian” (as thus Christians were called by the pagans), sufficed to get a man arrested and handed over for torture. In spite of this, many Christians voluntarily gave themselves over into the hands of the executioners, in their desire to suffer for Christ.

A certain old man, by the name of Onuphrios, concealing beneathe his beggar’s rags his monastic and priestly dignity, walked from house to house in Emesa, begging alms. Everywhere where he saw the possibility to turn people away from the pagan error, there he preached about Christ. One time he came to the magnificent house of Leukippia. In accepting alms from her he sensed, that the woman was in sorrow, and he asked what was the cause of this sadness. She told the elder about her familial misfortune. In consoling her, Onuphrios began to tell her about the One True God, about His almightiness and mercy, and that He always grants the prayer of those turning to Him with faith. Hope filled the soul of Leukippia. She believed and accepted Holy Baptism. Soon after this in a dream it was revealed to her, that she would give birth to a son, who would be a true follower of Christ. At first Leukippia concealed from her husband her delight, but after the infant was born, she revealed the secret to her husband and persuaded him likewise to be baptised.

They named the baby Galaktion. His parents raised him in the Christian faith and provided him a fine education. He could make for himself an illustrious career, but Galaktion sought rather for an immaculate and monastic life – in solitude and prayer.

When Galaktion turned age 24, his father resolved to marry him off and they found him a bride, a beautiful and illustrious girl by the name of Epistimia. The son did not oppose the will of his father; however, through the will of God, the nuptials were for a certain while postponed. Visiting often with his betrothed, Galaktion gradually revealed about his faith to her, and he converted her to Christ and he himself secretly baptised her. Together with Epistimia he baptised also one of her servants, Eutolmios. The newly-illumined decided, on the initiative of Galaktion, to devote themselves to a monastic life. Quitting the city, they hid themselves away on Mount Publion, where there were two monasteries, one for men and the other for women. The new monastics had to take with them all the necessities for physical toil, since the inhabitants of both monasteries were both old and infirm. For several years the monastics asceticised at work, fasting and prayer. But one time Epistimia had a vision in her sleep: Galaktion and she stood in a wondrous palace before the Resplendent King, and the King bestowed on them golden crowns. This was a presentiment of their impending martyr’s end.

The existence of the monasteries became known to the pagans, and a military detachment was sent off to apprehend their inhabitants. But the monks and the nuns succeeded in hiding themselves away in the hills. Galaktion however had no desire to flee and so he remained in his cell, reading Holy Scripture. When Epistimia saw that the soldiers were leading away Galaktion in chains, she began to implore the hegumeness to permit her to go also, since she wanted to accept torture for Christ together with her fiancee-teacher. The hegumeness with tears blessed Epistimia to do so.

The saints endured terrible torments, whilst supplicating and glorifying Christ. By order of the judge they were quartered asunder.

Eutolmios, the former servant of Epistimia, and who had become her brother in Christ and co-ascetic in monastic deeds, secretly gave reverent burial to the bodies of the holy martyrs. He later wrote in eulogy of their lives, for both his contemporaries and posterity.

The Disciples from the Seventy: Patrobus, Hermas, Linus, Caius and Philologos (I) preached the Gospel in diverse cities, each enduring various hardships in their service as bishops. Saint Patrobus (Rom. 16: 14) was bishop of Neopolis (now Naples) and Puteola in Italy. The Disciple Hermas was bishop in the city of Philippoplis he died a martyr). Linus (2 Tim. 4: 21) was a successor to the Apostle Peter at Rome. Saint Caius (Rom. 16: 23), after the Disciple Timothy, was bishop of Ephesus. The Apostle Andrew ordained Saint Philologos (Rom. 16: 15) as bishop of the city of Sinope (in the Black Sea region).

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos