October 18 2020 - October 05 2020

Sainted Hierarchs Peter, Alexei, Jona, Philip, Ermogen – Wonderworkers of Moscow and All Russia.

The Holy Martyress Charitina (+ 304).

Monks Damian the Presbyter and Healer (+ 1071), Jeremii (Jeremiah) (+ c. 1070) and Matfei (Matthew) (+ c. 1083) the Perspicacious, of Pechersk Lavra in the Nearer Caves. The Nun Kharitina, Princess of Lithuania, asceticising at Novgorod (+ 1281).

Priestmartyr Dionysios, Bishop of Alexandria (264-265). Martyress Mamelkhva the Persian (+ c. 344). Monk Gregory Khandzti (+ 861, Gruzia). Saint Kosma the Monastic (X). Uncovering of Relics of Monk Eudokimos of Batopedia Monastery on Athos (1841).

The celebration of a day in common to honour the All-Russian Sainted Hierarchs Peter, Alexei and Jona was established by Patriarch Job on 5 October 1596. Sainted Philip was enumerated to it in the year 1875, by petition of Sainted Innocent (Innokentii), Metropolitan of Moscow (Comm. 31 March and 23 September); and Sainted Ermogen – was added only in the year 1913.

Celebrating the memory of the Sainted-Hierarchs on a day in common, the Church offers each of them equal honour, as heavenly protectors of the city of Moscow and prayerful intercessors for the Fatherland.

Information about the Lives of the Sainted-Hierarchs is located under the day of their memory: Saint Peter – 21 December, Saint Alexei – 12 February, Saint Jona – 31 March, Saint Philip – 9 January, Saint Ermogen – 17 February.

The Holy Martyress Charitina was orphaned in childhood and raised like an actual daughter by the pious Christian Claudius. The young woman was very pretty, very sensible, kind and fervent in faith. She imparted to other people her love for Christ, and she converted many to the way of salvation.

During a time of persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), Saint Charitina was subjected to horrible torments for her strong confession of the Lord Jesus Christ, and she died with prayer to the Lord (in the year 304).

The Lives of the Monks Damian the Presbyter and Healer, Jeremii (Jeremia) and Matfei (Matthew) the Perspicacious, Wonderworkers of Pechersk, were described by the Monk Nestor the Chronicler (Comm. 27 October).

The Monk Damian (+ 1071) still remembered the Baptism of Rus (in year 988). The zealous imitator of the Monk Feodosii (Theodosii, Comm. 3 May) was gentle, industrious and obedient, to the joy of all the brethren. He spent the entire night at prayer and reading the Divine Scriptures. Saint Damian was strict at fasting and, except for bread and water, he ate nothing. The Lord rewarded him with the gift of treating maladies.

The Monk Jeremii had of the Lord the gift to see into the future, and to see into the moral condition of a person. The monk died in old age (+ c. 1070).

The Monk Matfei (+ c. 1088) was also endowed with the gift of seeing into the spiritual world. By his insight the elder would tell brethren, things to avoid doing of danger for the soul.

In the Iconographic Original it says: “Matfei with the image of a perspicacious elder, from black greyed of beard like Vlas, in black klobuk, a monastic robe, hands pressed to the heart”.

The general tropar to these saints is: “By the light of Christ’s commandments your hearts were enlightened, and ye did dispel the dread darkness: like an abode of the Trinity ye three art fathers, Damian, Jeremii with Matfei, from whom grace we do receive, ye heal the infirm, and the future ye do announce with the Angel in co-communion of essence, pray ye to Christ God to grant unto us the communion of the saints”. Their memory is also on 28 September and the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.

The Nun Kharitina, Princess of Lithuania, pursued asceticism in a Novgorod women’s monastery in honour of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, built in Sinich hill.

Having resolved to dedicate her life to the Lord, she accepted monasticism. For her virtuous life the nun was made hegumeness of the monastery. And until the time of her death, she was a sister to all by way of humility, purity and strict temperance. She reposed in the year 1281 and was buried in the Petropavlov (Peter and Paul) monastery church.

In the Iconographic Original it says: “The holy and righteous Kharitina, head of the Petrovsk maidens monastery, at Novgorod. She was born of Lithuanian royalty; by likeness a maiden of simple appearance, in a single garb without mantle”.

The PriestMartyr Dionysios, Bishop of Alexandria, was at mature age converted to Christianity by the reknown teacher of the Church, Origen (III), and became his student. Afterwards, he was the head of the Alexandrian Catechetical School, and then in the year 247, he was elevated to bishop of Alexandria.

Saint Dionysios exerted much effort for the defence of Orthodoxy from heresy, and he encouraged his flock in the firm confession of the True Faith during times of persecution under the emperors Decius (249-251) and Valerian (253-259).

The holy bishop underwent much suffering. When a plague appeared in Alexandria, the saint called on his flock to tend sick christians and pagans alike, and to bury the dead. About the repose of his spiritual children he wrote: “By such manner the best of our brethren have departed life. This generation of the dead – a deed of great piety and firm faith, no wise less a martyrdom”. Saint Dionysios none the less illumined his flock with deeds of love and charity. He died in the year 264 or 265.

The Holy Martyress Mamelkhva the Persian before conversion to the Christian faith was a pagan priestess to the goddess Artemida.

The sister of the saint convinced her to accept Baptism. When the pagans saw Mamelkhva in the white baptismal garb, they pelted her with stones. The saint suffered in the year 344.

The Monk Gregory Khandzti was the founder and head of the Klardzheti monastery. He was descended from an illustrious Gruzian (Georgian) lineage, flourishing by the good will of the emperor Ashuta Kuropalata (786-826). The vocation to monastic life was evident even in the childhood years of the monk. Thus did he explain to his mother about leaving home to enter upon the ascetic way: “Forgive me, my mother, but I am departed from thee not on a whim, but because it happened that it was pleasing to God”.

The Monk Gregory spent all his life in unceasing prayer, in tears, temperance, patience, meekness, in deepest humility and untiring works. He worthily gained for himself the glory of a pious and zealous servant of the Church of Christ, and he was chosen under the emperor Ashuta Kuropalata as the hegumen of the Khandzti monastery. Distinguished by his profound obedience to the will of God, Saint Gregory saw the meaning of earthly life to be particularly in obedience, as bestowing the supreme blessed freedom of all creatures. He placed obedience to a spiritual father at the foundation of all the way of monastic life, inspiring monastic institutions throughout all Klardzeti, and afterwards in future as an archimandrite – throughout all Gruzia.

During this time in Byzantium, after the iconoclastic council of 815, the Orthodox were forcefully oppressed. Georgian (Gruzian) monasticism, spiritually nourished by the Monk Gregory Khandzti, defended and affirmed the purity of the Orthodox faith, while simultaneously struggling with Monophysitism.

In 825 Gregory Khandzti “upon arrival at Constantinople, venerated the Wood of Life and all the holy relics, and he joyfully made the rounds of all the places of Divine-pilgrimage”, and he took with him to Gruzia “relics of the saints, holy icons and other blessed items in abundance”. Saint Gregory was a zealous advocate of the co-operation of Church and state, independent and equal in relation to each other. His views were favourably received in the decisions of a Church Council, convened in Dzhavakheti, and they assisted in the consolidation of the Autocephalous Gruzian Orthodox Church. The spiritual son of the Monk Gregory Khandzti, Bishop Ephrem of Atskur, “established the blessing of myrh (chrism) in Gruzia, with the blessing of the Jerusalem Patriarch and his witness”, as Gregory Merchuli testifies in his compilation of the Life of Saint Gregory Khandzti.

According to tradition, Saint Gregory Khandzti spent the final month of his life in a solitary cell, where he was vouchsafed blessed visions. The monks of the monastery saw a radiance lighting up his cell, and they were convinced that it was “not a burning fire, but the Spirit of God” that beshone the righteous, like the Light of Tabor. The Gruzian (Georgian) Church makes the memory of Saint Gregory Khandzti on 5 October, on the day of his blessed death.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos