October 24 2020 - October 11 2020

Disciple Philip, of the Seven Deacons (I). Monk Theophanes, Confessor and Composer of Canons, Bishop of Nicea (+ c. 850).

Monk Theophan, Faster of Pechersk, in Nearer Caves (XII). Martyresses Zinaida and Philonilla (I). Saint Victorina. Sainted-Hierarchs Nektarios (381-397), Arsakios (404-405), Attikos (406-425) and Sisinias (426-427), Patriarchs of Constantinople.

Remembrance of a Miracle from an Icon of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Beirut.

The Holy Disciple Philip from amongst the Seventy (not to be confused with Saint Philip the Apostle from amongst the Twelve, the Commemoration of whom is on 14 November), was born in Palestine. He was married and had children.

After the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Twelve Apostles made him a deacon in the Jerusalem Church, and with the other six deacons they entrusted him to deal with the offerings of the faithful and attend to the concerns of the widowed, the orphaned and the needy. The eldest among the Seven First-Deacons was the holy Archdeacon Stephen. When a persecution began, and the Jews had stoned the First-Martyr Stephen, the Disciple Philip departed from Jerusalem. He settled in Samaria, and there he successfully preached Christianity. Among the converts of the disciple was the noted magician Simon who, “having been baptised, did not leave from Philip” (Acts 8: 9-13).

At the command of an Angel of the Lord the disciple set out upon the road connecting Jerusalem with Gaza, and there he met a dignitary of the empress of Ethiopia, whom also he converted to Christianity (Acts 8: 26-39). The holy disciple Philip tirelessly preached the Word of God in many of the lands of the Near East adjoining Palestine. At Jerusalem the Apostles ordained him to the dignity of bishop and sent him to Lydia, where he baptised many. Saint Philip died in old age.

The Monk Theophanes the Confessor, Composer of Canons, Bishop of Nicea, was the younger brother of the Monk Theodore the Lettered-Upon (Comm. 27 December). The brothers received an excellent education, and were particularly involved in philosophy. Striving towards knowledge of God, they settled in the Laura monastery of Saint Sava. Here the Monk Theophanes was tonsured, and after a certain while became a presbyter.

The holy brothers were famed as advocates of icon-veneration. They boldly fulfilled the mission entrusted them by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and set off to Constantinople to denounce the iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820). And afterwards they denounced also the iconoclast emperors Michael Balbos (820-829) and Theophilos (829-842).

The saints had to endure imprisonment, hunger, even tortures. The emperor Theophilos gave orders to inscribe upon their faces with red-hot needles a phrase insulting to the glorious confessors (wherefore they are called “Lettered-Upon”). “Write whatever thou dost wish, but at the Last Judgement thou shalt read thine writing”, – said the agonised brothers to the emperor. They dispatched Theodore to prison, where also he died (+ 833), but Theophanes they sent into exile. With the restoration of Icon-veneration the Monk Theophanes was returned from exile and ordained bishop of Nicea. The saint wrote about 150 canons, among which is a beautiful canon in defense of holy icons. The monk died peacefully in about the year 850.

The Martyresses Zinaida and Philonilla were kinswomen of the holy Apostle Paul, and were natives of Tarsus. The saints left their home and settled in a cave near the city of Demitriada and they lived in constant prayer and work. They mastered the art of healing and they gladly treated everyone who turned to them for help, healing their souls by conversion to the True God. For their holy zeal in preaching about the Lord they received crowns of martyrdom: idol-worshippers stoned them.

Remembrance of the Miracle from an Icon of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Beirut: At the fourth session of the Seventh OEcumenical Council (year 787) Sainted Peter, Bishop of Nicomedia, in evidence of the necessity of icon-veneration, presented an account of Saint Athanasias and about a miracle, which occurred in the city of Berit (now Beirut).

In this city lived a Christian near the Jewish synagogue. Having moved off to another place, he left behind at the house an icon of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Jew, who moved into the house, paid no attention to the icon. One time his friend took note of the image of Jesus Christ on the wall, and said to the home-owner: “Why dost thou, a Jew, have in thy house an icon?” He then went to the synagogue and reported about this transgression of Jewish law. The Jews cast out from the synagogue the owner of the house, and they took the icon from the wall and began to scoff over it: “As once our fathers mocked at Him, so we also mock at Him”. They spit at the face of the Lord, lashed at the icon, hurling abuses, they thrust thorns about the head, and put a sponge with vinegar to the mouth. Finally, they took a spear, and one of the Jews thrust with it into the side of the Saviour. Suddenly from the opening, pierced by the spear in the icon, flowed blood and water. The Jewish rabbis, seeing the miracle, decided: “The followers of Jesus Christ affirm, that He could heal the sick. We shall take this blood and water into the synagogue and we shall anoint those afflicted with infirmities, and then we shall see, whether this be spoken truly of Him”.

A vessel with the blood was put in the synagogue. Having learned about the miracle, the inhabitants of Beirut began to bring and to lead into the synagogue those suffering from various illnesses, and they all were healed, having been anointed with the blood from the icon of the Saviour. All the high-priests, priests and Jewish people believed in Christ and exclaimed: “Glory to Thee, O Christ, Whom our fathers crucified, Whom we also crucified in the guise of Thine icon. Glory to Thee, O Son of God, for having worked such a miracle! We believe in Thee, wherefore be Thou merciful to us and receive us!” The Jews went to the bishop of Berit and, having shown him the wonderworking icon, the blood and water having flowed from it, they told about their misdeed. The bishop, seeing their sincere repentance, accepted them, chatechised them for many days and then baptised them, and then consecrated the synagogue into the church of our Saviour Jesus Christ. At the request of the Jews, he consecrated also other synagogues into churches, dedicated to the holy martyrs. And “there became great joy in that city, not only that many people were healed and quickened, but that many souls passed from the kingdom of the dead unto life eternal”.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos