October 14 2020 - October 01 2020

Protection (Pokrov) of Our MostHoly Lady Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary.

Disciple from the Seventy: Ananias (I). Monk Romanos the Melodist (VI).

Monk Savva of Vishersk (+ 1461). Martyr Domninos of Soluneia (Thessalonika) (IV). Martyrs: Priscus, Crescentus, Evagrius, Denegotius, Faustinus, Marcial, Januarius, Alexander, Evprobus, Digna, Gotius, Saturnicia, Vera, Castus, Primus, Donatus, Passicus, Propus (Prepus), and Digna (+ 320). MonkMartyr Michael, Hegumen of Zobeia, and with him 36 MonkMartyrs near Armenian Sebasteia (+ 780-790). Monks John Kukuzel (XII) and Gregory of Athos (IV). Sainted-Bishop Peter. Sainted-Hierarch Kiriuk.

Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Emperor of Iveria Mirian (+ 342) and Holy Empress Nana (IV) of Gruzia. Feast in Honour of the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord and the Life-Creating Pillar.

Liublinsk, Kukuzelisa, Pskovo-Pokrovsk, Kasperovsk, Brailovsk, Gerbovetsk and Barsk Icons of the Mother of God.

The Protection (Pokrov) of the MostHoly Mother of God: “The Virgin today doth stand forth within the Church, and with the choirs of the Saints invisibly for us doth pray to God: angels with hierarchs make reverence, and apostles with prophets sing forth: for us the Birthgiver of God prayeth the Praeternal God” – this miraculous appearance of the Mother of God occurred in the mid-X Century at Constantinople, in the Blakhernae church where there was preserved the Robe of the Mother of God, Her Head-Veil (mathoria) and part of the Belt-Sash, transferred from Palestine in the V Century. On Sunday, 1 October, during the time of the all-night vigil, when the church was overflowing with those at prayer, the Fool-for-Christ Saint Andrew (Comm. 2 October) at the fourth hour of the night lifted up his eyes towards the heavens, and beheld coming through the air our MostHoly Lady Mother of God resplendent with an Heavenly light and surrounded by an assembly of the Saints. The holy Baptist of the Lord John and the holy Apostle John the Theologian accompanied the Queen of Heaven. On bended knee the MostHoly Virgin began with tears to pray for Christians and for a long time was at prayer. Then, coming nigh the Prestol'-Throne, She continued Her prayer, which having completed She then took from Her head the veil and spread it over the people praying in church, protecting them from enemies both visible and invisible. The MostHoly Lady Mother of God was resplendent with Heavenly glory, and the protecting veil in Her hands gleamed “more than the rays of the sun”. Saint Andrew gazed atrembling at the miraculous vision and he asked of his disciple Blessed Epiphanios standing alongside him: “Dost thou see, brother, the Queen and Lady, praying for all the world?” Epiphanios answered: “I do see, holy father, and I be in awe”. The Ever-Blessed Mother of God implored of the Lord Jesus Christ to accept the prayers of all the people, calling on His MostHoly Name and hastening in recourse to Her intercession. “O Heavenly King, – sayeth in prayer the Immaculate Queen standing aethereally amidst the Angels, – accept every person, that prayeth unto Thee and calleth on My Name for help, let them not go empty away unheard from before My Visage”. Saints Andrew and Epiphanios, granted to behold the Mother of God at prayer, “for a long time did gaze at the protecting veil spread over the people and the lightning like flashes in glory to the Lord; as long as the MostHoly Mother of God was there, so likewise was the protecting veil visible; but with Her departure it likewise became invisible, and though having taken it with Her, She left behind the grace of having been there”. At the Blakhernae church was preserved the memory of the miraculous appearance of the Mother of God. In the XIV Century, the Russian pilgrim and clerk Aleksandr saw within the church an icon of the MostHoly Mother of God praying for the world, and written such, as depicting Saint Andrew in contemplation of Her. But the Greek Church does not know this feast. [trans. note: i.e. does not historically celebrate this feast. Our Russian source is here reticent concerning the historical circumstances occasioning the necessary protective intercession of the Mother of God, and it reflects a great irony, that for the Russians rather than for the Greeks this should be an important feast, since it celebrates the Divine destruction by a storm of a large pagan-Russian fleet under Askold and Dir which threatened Constantinople itself, sometime in the years 864-867, or per the Russian historian Vasiliev on 18 June 860. The Russian Primary Chronicle of Saint Nestor notes this miraculous deliverance following the all-night vigil and the dipping of the garment of the Mother of God into the waters of the sea at the Blakhernae church, but without mention of Saints Andrew and Epiphanios and their vision of the Mother of God at prayer. These latter elements, and the beginnings of the celebrating of the feast of Pokrov, seem to postdate Saint Nestor and the Chronicle. A further historical complication might be noted under the 2 October entry for Saint Andrew – that of his demise in the year 936. Either this year of death might not be quite reliable, or that he survived into quite extreme old age after the vision of his youth, or that his vision involved some historically later pagan-Russian raid which met with the same fate. The below suggestion likewise that the Saint Andrew of the vision was a Slav (or a Skyth per other sources, such as S. V. Bulgakov) – is a nice touch, but not necessarily chauvinism: the extent of historical South Slavic penetration and re-population into Greece is the stuff of scholarly disputes].

In the Prologue, a Russian book of the XII Century, is contained a description about the establishing of the special feastday in honour of this event: “For lo, when we heard, – we realised, how wondorus and merciful was the vision and moreover an expectation and intercession on our behalf, without celebration… and it transpired, that Thy holy Pokrov-Protection should not remain without festal-celebration, O Ever-Blessed One!”. Wherefore in the festal celebration of the Divine-services to the Pokrov-Protection of the Mother of God, the Russian Church intones: " With the choirs of the Angels, O Sovereign Lady, with the venerable and glorious prophets, with the First-Ranked Apostles and with the PriestMartyrs and Sainted-hierarchs pray Thou for us sinners, glorifying the feast of Thine Protection in the Russian Land". And moreover, it would seem that Saint Andrew, contemplating the miraculous vision, was a Slav, taken captive and at Constantinople given over into slavery to the local inhabitant named Theognost.

Churches in honour of the Pokrov-Protection of the Mother of God appeared in Russia in the XII Century. Widely known on its architectural merit is the temple of the Pokrov at Nerla, which was built in the year 1165 by holy Prince Andrei Bogoliubsky. Through the efforts of this holy prince was also established in the Russian Church the feast itself, the Pokrov-Protection of the Mother of God, in about the year 1164. At Novgorod in the XII Century there existed a monastery of the Pokrov of the MostHoly Mother of God (the so-called Zverinsk monastery); at Moscow also under tsar Ivan the Terrible was built the cathedral of the Pokrov of the Mother of God at the church of the Holy Trinity (known as the church of Saint Basil the Great).

On the feast of the Pokrov-Protection of the MostHoly Mother of God we implore the defense and assist of the Queen of Heaven: “Remember us in Thine prayers, O Lady Virgin Mother of God, that we perish not by the increase of our sins, protect us from every evil and from grievous woes; for on Thee do we hope, and venerating the feast of Thine Pokrov, Thee do we magnify”.

The Holy Disciple Ananias, bishop of the city of Damascus, was one of the Seventy Disciples. At the command of God, it was he that baptised the converted persecutor of Christians Saul, afterwards to become the great preacher and Apostle Paul (Acts 9: 10-19). Saint Ananias, despite the danger, boldly and openly confesses Christianity afront the Jews and the pagans. From Damascus he set off in evangelising to Eleutheropolis, where he healed many of their infirmities. The governor of the city, Lucian, tried to persuade the holy disciple to offer sacrifice to idols, but seeing his staunchness and solid confession of Christ, he gave orders to torture the saint. Harsh torments did not sway the witness of Truth. Then the torturers led him out beyond the city where they then stoned him. The saint expired to the Lord while at prayer for his murderers (+ I Century). His relics were afterwards transferred to Constantinople.

The Monk Romanos the Melodist was born in the V Century in the Syrian city of Emessa. Having moved on to Constantinople, he became a church-attendant in the temple of Saint Sophia. The monk spent his nights alone at prayer in a field or in the Blakhernae church out beyond the city.

Saint Romanos did not initially have the talent for reading and song. One time, on the eve of the Nativity of Christ, he read the kathisma verses, but so poorly, that another reader had to take his place, and the clergy made fun of Romanos. The youth for a long while in grief prayed before an icon of the MostHoly Mother of God. The Mother of God appeared at night in a dream-vision to the saint, and haven given him a scroll (in Greek “kondakion” or “khontakhion”), commanded him to eat it. Thus did the Monk Romanos receive the gift of book understanding, compostion and the making of churchly song. This was on the day of the Nativity of Christ. For the all-night vigil Saint Romanos in a wondrous voice sang forth in church his first kondak: “Today the Virgin giveth birth to the Transcendent One…”. From this scroll (“kondakion”) all the songs of the monk became known as kondakions or kondaks. Saint Romanos was also the first to write in the form of the “ikos”, – a song-form which he incorporated into the all-night vigil at his places of domicile (in Greek “oikos”).

For his zealous service Saint Romanos was ordained to the dignity of deacon and became a teacher of song. Up until his death, which occurred in about the year 556, the Monk-deacon Romanos the Melodist composed nearly a thousand church-songs, many of which Christians still use to glorify the Lord.

The Monk Savva of Vishersk was the son of the boyar-noble, Ivan Borozda, from Kashin. From childhood the monk was noted for his piety. He initially asceticised at the Tver Savvino wilderness monastery, where the brethren chose him hegumen. In shunning honours, the Monk Savva went off to Athos, where he toiled over the copying of Divine-service books. Upon his return from Athos he selected for his ascetic efforts a solitary place 7 versts from Novgorod at the banks of the River Vishera. Here, with the blessing of the Novogorod archbishop Simon, the monk in 1418 organised a small monastery in honour of the Ascension of the Lord. The Monk Savva set up a pillar nearby the monastery and asceticised upon it. He died in 1461 at the advanced old age of 80. He appointed as his successor his disciple Andrei, known for a strict and ascetic life.

The local commemoration was established under the Novgorod archbishop Jona (+ 1470), in connection with the healing of the hegumen of the Savvo-Vishersk monastery. Archbishop Jona thereupon ordered an icon of the monk be written and a canon composed. The general churchly glorification of the Monk Savva took place at the Moscow Sobor (Council) of 1549. The service to him was composed by priest-monk Pakhomii the Serb.

The Monk John Kukuzel, a native of Dirrachia (Bulgaria), in childhood was left orphaned [“kukuzel'” per another source indicates “raised on beans”, reflecting his great poverty as an orphan]. Endowed with a very fine voice, he entered the Constantinople court school, where for his talent he found favour with the emperor John Comnenos (1118-1143) and became a chief court singer. But the enticements of the imperial court bothered the pious youth. Not wanting to remain amidst the sumptuousness and luxury, and to evade a marriage prepared for him by the emperor, young John began to seek out ways to quit the capital and hide away in an outlying wilderness. By the will of God he met up with an Athonite elder – an hegumen, who had come to Constantinople on monastic business. John revealed to him his intent, and with his blessing, he went off with him to the Holy Mountain. There he was accepted, tonsured into monasticism and entrusted to tend a monastic flock. Walking away with the flock to far-off wilderness places of the Holy Mountain, the youth without hindrance could give himself over in solitude to prayer, contemplation of God and the singing of Divine hymns. The angelic beauty of his voice charmed even the animals, which gathered about the shepherd and listened as though entranced. Out of modesty and humility, the youthful singer did not reveal to the brethren about his gift. But one time the moving pastoral song touched a certain wilderness dweller, and he informed the hegumen about the wondrous singer. Young John revealed, that formerly he had been a singer at court, and he tearfully implored the hegumen to let him remain at his former pastoral obedience. Fearing that there might be the displeasure of the emperor, who eventually might find his favourite and make him return from the Holy Mountain, the hegumen himself journeyed off to Constantinople, where he told the emperor everything about what had become of his former subject, and he besought him not to hinder the youthful monk from the salvific path chosen by him.

John Kukuzel thereafter on Sundays and feastdays sang in the cathedral on the right kleros-choir. For his singing the monk was granted a great mercy by the Mother of God Herself. One time after an akathist, sung before an icon of the Mother of God, She Herself appeared in a subtle dream and said to him: “Sing, and do not cease to sing. I for this shalt not forsake thee”. With these words She placed into John’s hand a golden coin and became invisible. This coin was hung beneathe the icon, and from that time from the coin and icon there began to occur miracles. This icon, named the “Kukuzelisa”, is located even now in the Lavra monastery of Saint Athanasias. Its remembrance is made twice, on 1 October and on the 10th Friday after Pascha.

The Mother of God afterwards another time appeared to Saint John and healed him from a grievous problem with his legs, caused by the long standing in church. The remaining days of Saint John were spent in intense ascetic efforts. Foreseeing the hour of his death, he took his leave of the brethren, and in his last wishes bidding them to bury him in the Archangel church built by him. Church singers reverence Saint John Kukuzel as their own especial patron-saint.

An experienced singer, the Monk John Kukuzel also toiled much in the discipline of church singing, and he rightfully gained for himself the title of both “magister” [“master-teacher”] and “regent” [“overseer”]: he himself improved on and compiled melody for church stikhera-verses, tropars and kondaks and for every church service; he reworked texts of song, and wrote his own tropars. In manuscripts are known also his compostions: “A Book, by the Will of God Encompassing All the Order of Progression of Church Services, Compiled by Magister Master John Kukuzel”. – “Progression of Services, Compiled by Magister John Kukuzel, From the Beginning of Great Vespers through to the Finish of Divine Liturgy”. – “Science of Song and Singing Signs with all the Legitimate Hand-Placement and with all the Arrangements of Song”, – and also more otherwise.

The Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Emperor of Iveria Mirian and the Holy Empress Nana (IV): the account about them is located in the biography of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Saint Nina, Enlightener of Gruzia (Georgia) (Comm. 14 January).

The Feast in Honour of the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord and the Life-Creating Pillar – is the temple feast of the Mtskheta patriarchal cathedral in honour of the Twelve Holy Apostles, named the Sveti-Tskhoveli (which in translation means “Life-Creating Pillar”). According to the tradition of the Gruzian (Georgian) Orthodox Church, the Chiton (Greek word, in Latin “Tunic”) of the Lord – the seamless garment of the Saviour (Jn. 19: 23) – came to the ancient capital city of Gruzia, Mtskheta, in the following manner.

Eleazar (or Elioz), rabbi of the Mtskheta community of Jews, had resettled to Gruzia from Jerusalem already by the year 70 A.D. Having received news from the Jerusalem high-priest Annas about the impending execution of Christ, he hastened to Jerusalem in the company of Longinus Carsnitus [or “carsnifex”, the Latin meaning “executioner”]. They became eye-witnesses to the Passion of the Lord and the casting of lots for His garment (Jn. 19: 23-24; Ps. 21 [22]: 18). At the moment when the All-Pure Body of the Lord was nailed to the Cross, the mother of Elioz, situated in Mtskheta, sensed the blows of the hammer in her heart and shuddered out of great fright. Having related to her daughter Sidonia about the crucifixion sufferings of the Saviour, guiltlessly given over unto death, the mother of Elioz then died. Elioz then acquired the Chiton from the soldier who by lots had won it, and he took it with him to Mtskheta. Sidonia, meeting her brother Elioz in tears, told him about the death of their mother and her words just before her death. Elioz confirmed the words of their mother and he showed his sister the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord. Taking hold the Chiton, Righteous Sidonia kissed it all over, pressed it to her bosom and herewith fell down lifeless. No one, not even the emperor Aderk (2 B.C.-55 A.D.)was able to open the grasp of Sidonia nor take from her the Chiton. Righteous Sidonia (Comm. 1 October) was secretly consigned to earth by her brother Elioz in the imperial garden at Mtskheta.

The holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Nina told about this to the Kartalin Hebrew highpriest Aviathar – a descendent of rabbi Elioz. He came to believe in Christ, having listened to the explanation by Saint Nina of the ancient prophecies concerning the Messiah, and how these prophecies were fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. And the Gruzian emperor Mirian (265-342) was also converted by holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Saint Nina, and he decided to build a Christian church on the spot whereupon the Chiton of the Lord was situated. A massive cedar tree had grown on the grave of Sidonia, which they sawed, and wanted to use its truck as a foundation pillar for supporting the main cupola of the church, but they were not able to raise it upright. Saint Nina prayed all night for Divine help. and visions were manifest to her, in which were revealed the historical courses of destiny of Gruzia.

At dawn an Angel of the Lord approached the pillar and raised it in the air. The pillar, shining with a wondrous light, was elevated and then lowered in the air, until it was set over its base. From the stump of the cedar issued a fragrant myrh. Thus the Angel of the Lord indicated the place, where the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord was concealed in the ground. This event, witnessed to by many of the inhabitants of Mtskheta, is depicted on the icon, “Glorification of the Gruzian Church”. Afterwards at the place of the wooden church was erected the majestic stone cathedral of Sveti-Tskhoveli. The Life-Creating Pillar, from which occurred many healings, has at present a stone four-cornered covering and is crowned by a light-loft, not touching the arch of the cathedral. The Pillar is positioned in the Sveti-Tskhoveli cathedral with a model alongside of the Church of the Sepulchre of the Lord at Jerusalem.

The Gruzian (Georgian) Orthodox Church established the feastday on 1 October in honour of the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord and the Life-Creating Pillar.

The Feastday of the MostHoly Mother of God in Honour of Her Icon, named the Pskovo-Pokrovsk, was established in memory of the miraculous deliverance of Pskov from the invading troops of the Polish king Stefan Bathory in 1581. During the time of the siege, within the city they carried forth in church procession the wonderworking Uspenie-Dormition Icon of the Mother of God from the Pechersk monastery. On the eve of the decisive fighting, the pious blind elder Dorophei the Smith had a vision of the MostHoly Mother of God at the spot, where the enemy had prepared to assault – at a corner of the fortress of the monastery in honour of the Pokrov-Protection of the MostHoly Mother of God. The MostHoly Virgin appeared to the elder Dorophei amidst a representation of Russian Saints: the Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir and the Pskov Princes Vsevolod-Gavriil and Dovmont-Timophei, the Monks Antonii of Kievo-Pechersk, Kornilii of Pskovo-Pechersk, Evphrosyn of Spasoelazarsk and Savva of Krypetsk, Blessed Nikolai of Pskov and Sainted Nyphont, Archbishop of Novgorod, the organiser of the Pskov Spaso-Mirozhsk monastery.

Proceeding from the Pechor side from the Spaso-Mirozhsk monastery across the River Velika, the Mother of God with the Saints entered into the church of the Pokrov monastery. The Saints with tears besought the All-Pure Virgin to have pity on the sinful Pskovites and save the city “from the imposition of woes”. The MostHoly Mother of God, having promised the city Her mercy, gave orders to set up on the place of Her appearance the Pechersk image. At the time of the battle the Polish tried to breach the fortress wall, but through the intercession of the Mother of God and the holy Saints, they were not able to break through into the city. After their deliverance from the enemy, the thankful people of Pskov built a church in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God. For the temple of the Pokrov-Protection MostHoly Mother of God, in the corner at the breach-point was written the Pskovo-Pechersk image of the Mother of God, having likewise been given the name, “Appearance of the Mother of God to the Elder Dorophei”. The appearance of the MostHoly Mother of God occurred on 7 September, and celebration of the Pskovo-Pechersk Icon was established under 1 October. A special service was compiled for the feastday of the MostHoly Mother of God.

The Kasperovsk Icon of the MostHoly Mother of God during the War of 1853‑1855 defended the city of Odessa against an incursion of hostile forces. Under archbishop Innokentii (Borisov) it was directed “that this event should not be forgotten in the teaching of posterity”, and to make celebration on 1 October. The icon had already been acknowledged as wonderworking and glorified by the MostHoly Synod in 1840, after investigation of a whole series of miracles. Before this, the image had been kept by the landowner Juliania Ioannovna Kasperova, who received it inheritance as a sacred family heirloom in 1809.

The Gerbovetsk Icon of the MostHoly Mother of God was acknowledge as wonderworking in the year 1859, but even before this it was especially revered by believers of Kishinev diocese. According to tradition, this image was brought to the Gerbovetsk monastery in the year 1790.

The Barsk Icon of the MostHoly Mother of God – is an ancient image of Byzantine origin from the Barsk monastery in Podol’sk diocese. The icon from of old was venerated as holy by both Orthodox and Catholics. The solemn celebration was established in 1887.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos