Orthodox River


November 05 2020 - October 23 2020

Apostle James, Brother of the Lord after the Flesh (+ c. 63).

Righteous Iakov (James) of Borovich, Novgorod Wonderworker (+ c. 1540). Sainted Ignatios, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 877-878).

Monk Nikephoros (V). Martyr Maximus.

The Apostle James, Brother of the Lord – was the son of Righteous Joseph the Betrothed (Comm. 26 December). From his early years James was a Nazorite, a man especially dedicated to God. The Nazorites gave a vow to preserve virginity, to abstain from wine, to refrain from eating meat, and not to cut their hair. The vow of the Nazorites symbolised a life of holiness and purity, commanded formerly by the Lord for all Israel. When the Saviour began to teach the nation about the Kingdom of God, Saint James believed in Christ and became His apostle. For his God-leasing life he was chosen first bishop in the Church at Jerusalem. Saint James presided over the Council of the Apostles at Jerusalem, and his word was decisive (Acts 15). In his thirty years as bishop the Apostle James converted many of the Jews to Christianity. Annoyed by this, the Pharisees and the Scribes plotted together to kill Saint James. Having led the saint up on the roof of the Jerusalem Temple, they demanded that he renounce the Saviour of the world. But the holy Apostle James instead began to bear witness, that Christ is the True Messiah. Then the Jewish teachers shoved him off downwards. The saint did not die immediately, but gathering his final strength, he prayed to the Lord for his enemies, who at this while were stoning him. The martyr’s death of Saint James occurred in about the year 63.

The holy Apostle James composed a Divine Liturgy, which has formed the basis of the liturgies, composed by Saints Bail the Great and John Chrysostomos. The Church has preserved an Epistle of the Apostle James, which under his name is included among the books of the New Testament of Holy Scripture. In the year 1853 the Alexandria Patriarch Hierotheos sent to Moscow a portion of the relics of the holy Apostle James. The Church makes a distinction between the holy Apostle James, Brother of the Lord, from James the son of Zebedee (Comm. 30 April) and James Alphaeus (Comm. 9 October).

Righteous Iakov (James) Borovich, Novgorod Wonderworker, in his youth took upon himself the ardous task of fool-for-Christ. Most of the details of his life are unknown. The Lord glorified him after death. In the year 1540, on the third day of Pascha, a large block of ice floated up against the current along the River Msta to the village of Borovich (in Novgorod district), and on this block of ice stood the coffin (an oaken log) without cover, upon which lay the body of the youth. Shunning their responsibility, peasants with poles shoved the block of ice to mid-stream, but it returned to the shore. This was repeated three times. By night the youth appeared in a dream to the elders of the village, who had seen him upon the ice-floe, and said: “I too am a Christian just like ye. Push me not away. My name is Iakov, and I received my name in honour of Saint Iakov (James), Brother of the Lord”.

The relics of the holy lad were at first placed in a chapel, and in 1544 transferred to the Holy Spirit church. Then was established a festal celebration to him. The Lord, having glorified his God-pleasing one, granted the relics of Saint Iakov a curative power. A feastday with matins was established in 1572. In the Iconographic Originals it says about Saint Iakov: “The likeness of a lad, bare, girded with a piece of cloth”. In 1657 Patriarch Nikon dispatched part of the relics to Valdai, to the Iversk monastery.

Sainted Ignatios, Patriarch of Constantinople (847-857; 867-877), in the world Nikita, was of imperial lineage. When his father, the emperor Michael I (811-813), was deposed from the imperial throne by Leo the Armenian (813-820), the 15 year old youth Ignatios was imprisoned in a monastery. Life in the monastery strengthened Saint Ignatios in faith and in piety. Soon he was made hegumen of the monastery, and later on he was chosen Patriarch of Constantinople.

The emperor Michael III (855-867) was still a minor in age, and the country was actually governed by his uncle, Bardas – a man impious and unchaste. The holy patriarch urged Bardas to forsake his sinful life, and he boldly denounced him in his iniquity. When Bardas attempted to force Saint Ignatios to impose monastic tonsure upon the holy Empress Theodora, – mother of the emperor, so as to remove her from governance of the realm, holy Patriarch Ignatios did not only not consent to this, but also publicly excommunicated Bardas from Communion. They tortured the holy patriarch for fifteen days to force him to resign, and then they sent him off into exile. When the new emperor came to power, Saint Ignatios was recalled from prison, and was Patriarch for another 10 years. He died in the year 877 in a monastery.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos