November 19 2020 - November 06 2020

Sainted Paul the Confessor, Bishop of Constantinople (+ 350).

Monk Varlaam of Khutynsk (+ 1192).

Sainted German, Archbishop of Kazan (+ 1567).

Monk Luke, Steward of Pechersk, in Nearer Caves (XIII).

Monk Varlaam of Keretsk (XVI). Women-Martyrs: Tecusa, Alexandra, Polacia, Claudia, Euphrosynia, Athanasia and Matrona (III). Monk Luke of Tauromenium (+ c. 800-820). Blessed Paul of Corinth. Martyr Victor. Martyr Nikander.

Sainted Paul, Archbishop of Constantinople, was chosen to the patriarchal cathedra-seat after the death of Patriarch Alexander (+ 340), when the Arian heresy had again flared up. Many of the Arians were present at the Council which selected the new Constantinople patriarch. They revolted in opposition to the choice of Saint Paul, but the Orthodox at the Council were in the majority. The emperor Constantius, ruling over the Eastern half of the Roman empire, was an Arian. At the time of the election of the patriarch he was not in Constantinople. Upon his return, he convened a council, which illegally declared the dethronement of Saint Paul, and the emperor banished him from the capital. In place of the saint they raised up Eusebios of Nicomedia. Patriarch Paul withdrew to Rome, where also were other Orthodox bishops banished by Eusebios.

Not for long did Eusebios rule the Constantinople Church. When he died, Saint Paul returned to Constantinople. He was greeted by his flock with love. But Constantius exiled the saint a second time, and so he returned to Rome. The Western emperor Constans wrote his Eastern co-ruler an harsh letter, which he dispatched to Constantinople along with the holy exiled archpastor. The threats worked, and Saint Paul was reinstated upon the patriarchal throne.

But soon the pious emperor Constans, a defender of the Orthodox, was treacherously murdered during a palace coup. They again banished Saint Paul from Constantinople and this time sent him off in exile to Armenia, to the city of Kukuz, where he accepted a martyr’s death. When the Patriarch was celebrating the Divine Liturgy, Arians rushed upon him by force and strangled him with his own hierarchical omophor. This occurred in the year 350. In the year 381 the holy Emperor Theodosius the Great solemnly transferred the relics of Saint Paul the Confessor from Kukuz to Constantinople. In 1326 the relics of Saint Paul were then transferred to Venice.

Saint Athanasias the Great, a contemporary of Saint Paul, writes briefly about his exiles: “Saint Paul the first time was dispatched by Constantine to Pontus, the second time fettered in chains by Constantius, and then he was locked up in Mesopotamian Syngara and from there moved to Emesus, and the fourth time to Cappadocian Kukuz in the Taurian wilderness”.

The Monk Varlaam of Khutynsk lived in the XII Century, the son of an illustrious Novgorodian, and he lived his childhood years at Novgorod. Withdrawing at an early age to the Lisich monastery near the city, the Monk Varlaam accepted tonsure. Later on he settled at a solitary hill below Volkhov, in a locale called Khutyn', 10 versts from Novgorod. In solitude the Monk Varlaam led a strict life, making unceasing prayer and keeping very strict fast. He was a zealous ascetic in his tasks – he himself felled timber in the forest, chopped firewood and tilled the soil, fulfilling the words of Holy Scripture: “If any shalt not work, neither shalt he eat” (2 Thess. 3: 10). Certain of the inhabitants of Novgorod gathered to him, wanting to share in monastic works and deeds. Instructing those that came, the Monk Varlaam said: “My children, be observant against all unrighteousness, and neither envy nor slander. Refrain from anger, and give not money over for usury. Beware to judge unjustly. Do not swear falsely giving an oath, but rather fulfill it. Be not indulgent to the bodily appetites. Always be meek and bear all things with love. This virtue – is the beginning and root of all good”.

Soon there was erected a church in honour of the Transfiguration of the Lord, and a monastery founded. The Lord sent down upon the monk, for his service to others, the gifts of wonderworking and perspicacity. When his days approached an end, by Divine Will there came from Constantinople the priestmonk Antonii – of the same age and a friend of the Monk Varlaam. The blessed saint, in turning to him, said: “My beloved brother! God’s blessing doth rest upon this monastery. And now into thine hand I transfer this monastery. Watch over and take concern for it. I do expire to the King of Heaven. But be not confused over this: while yet in the body I do leave you, still in spirit I shalt be with you always”. Having bestown guidance unto the brethren, with the command to preserve the Orthodox faith and dwell constantly in humility, the Monk Varlaam reposed to the Lord on 6 November 1192.

Sainted German, Archbishop of Kazan, lived during the XVI Century. He was born in the city of Staritsa, and was descended from the old boyar-noble line of the Polevi. In his youthful years Grigorii (such was his name in the world) took tonsure at the Josepho-Volokolamsk monastery under the Hegumen Gurii, who afterwards became likewise a Sainted-Archbishop of Kazan (+ 1563, Comm. 5 December). (Saint Gurii was head of the monastery from 1542 to 1551). At the monastery Saint German occupied himself with the copying of books, and he was close with the Monk Maxim the Greek, living there confined. In 1551 the brethren of the Staritsa Uspenie monastery, having learned of the piety of their native-son, chose him as their archimandrite.

Having entered into the guidance of this monastery, Saint German with a pastoral zeal concerned himself over its disposition, both outer and inner, – for the monk himself was a model of humility and meekness. He exhorted all to strictly observe their monastic commitment, and for guidance he introduced into his monastery the ustav/rule of the Monk Joseph of Volotsk (+ 1515, Comm. 18 October).

But after two and an half years Archimandrite German left the Staritsa monastery, having transferred its guidance to the priestmonk Job, who afterwards was to become the first Patriarch of Moscow, and was an ascetic and sufferer for the Russian Land. Saint German’s love for solitary efforts brought him to return to his original Volokolamsk monastery, where he strove towards his salvation as a simple monk. When however there appeared at Moscow the new heretic Matfei Bashkin, who refused to acknowledge the Holy Sacraments and denied faith in the Holy Trinity, Saint German together with his own father (who himself had received tonsure at the Volokolamsk monastery with the name Philothei) was called to the Moscow Sobor (Council) of 1553. The Sobor censured the heretic Bashkin and resolved to send him for enlightening to the Volokolamsk monastery to Saint German, as one known for his holy life and zeal for the faith in Christ.

In 1555, after the taking of Kazan, an archbishopal cathedra-seat was established there, upon which they designated as archbishop the former hegumen of Volokolamsk monastery, Saint Gurii. To him was entrusted to build for missionary purposes an Uspenie monastery in the city of Sviyazhsk. By decree of Saint Gurii, the designated head of this new monastery of the Uspenie-Dormition of the MostHoly Mother of God in Sviyazhsk was Saint German. A stone cathedral with bell-tower and monastic cells was built. And the monastery head himself lived very frugally, in a cramped cell beneathe the cathedral bell-tower. And Saint German concerned himself particularly over the gathering together of a monastery library.

Soon his monastery became far-famed for its doing of good, and it became a centre of enlightenment for the Kazan region.

On 12 March 1564, after the repose of Saint Gurii, Saint German was consecrated bishop of Kazan. The short duration of his cathedral guidance was marked nonetheless by concern over the building of churches and the enlightenment of the region. In 1566 Ivan the Terrible summoned Saint German to Moscow and gave orders to elect him to the Metropolitan cathedra-seat there. Saint German at first refused to have this burden imposed upon him. The tsar would not tolerate any objection and the saint was obliged to settle into the Metropolitan quarters until his elevation to the dignity of Metropolitan. And seeing the injustices on the part of the tsar’s inner circle, Saint German, true to his pastoral duty, attempted to reason with the tsar by his admonitions. – “Thou art not yet elevated to Metropolitan, and already thou placest constraints upon my freedom”, – communicated the tsar through his cronies and gave orders to expel Saint German from the Metropolitan quarters and hold him under surveillance. The saint survived for about two years in disgrace and on 6 November 1567 he died. They interred him in the church of Saint Nicholas the Hospitable. And later, at the request of the inhabitants of Sviyazhsk, the relics of the saint in 1592 were transferred from Moscow to the Sviyazhsk Uspenie monastery. Saint Ermogen, then Metropolitan of Kazan, paid visit to his grave.

The Monk Luke of Tauromenium was a native of the Sicilian city of Tauromenium. In his youth he left his parents and fiancee and went into the wilderness, where he spent many years in fasting and prayer. He asceticised at Mount Aetna. Towards the end of his life the Monk Luke, through a revelation to him, founded a monastery. In order to become familiar with the ustav/rule and life of other monasteries, the monk visited many other cities. During the time of one of these journeys he died at Corinth at the beginning of the IX Century.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos