September 16 2020 - September 03 2020

PriestMartyr Anthymos, Bishop of Nicomedia, and with him the Martyrs Theophilos the Deacon, Dorotheus, Mardonius, Migdonius, Peter, Indysos, Gorgonios, Zinon, the Virgin-Martyr Domna and Euthymios (+ 302). Saint Phoebe, Deaconess of Conchreia (I). Martyress Basilissa of Nicomedia (+ 309). PriestMartyr Aristion, Bishop of Syrian Alexandria. Martyrs Zinon, Chariton, Achrontion, Vitalian. Martyress Dasa. Martyr Polydoros (+ 1794).

Monk Theoktistos, Companion of Euthymios the Great (+ 467). Sainted Joannikii, Patriarch of Serbia (+ 1349). Blessed John, Rostov Wonderworker (+ 1580). Saint Constantine the New, Emperor (VII).

Icon of the Mother of God of Pisidia (608).

The PriestMartyr Anthymos, Bishop of Nicomedia, and the Martyrs with him suffered during the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284-305). The persecution of Christians became particularly intense after the occurrence of a conflagration at the imperial court at Nicomedia. The pagans accused the Christians of setting the fire and reacted against them with terrible ferocity. Thus, in Nicomedia alone, on the day of the Nativity of Christ, at a church as many as twenty thousand Christians were burned. But this monstrous inhumanity did not frighten off the Christians: they firmly confessed their faith and accepted a martyr’s death for Christ. And thus during this period of sufferings died Saints Dorotheus, Mardonius, Migdonius, Peter, Indysos and Gorgonios. One of them was beheaded by the sword, others perished – by burning, or being covered over in the ground or by drowning in the sea. Zinon, a soldier, for his bold denunciation of the emperor Maximian was stoned, and then beheaded. Then also perished at the hands of the pagans the holy Virgin-Martyr Domna – a former pagan-priestess, and also Saint Euthymios, because of their concern that the bodies of the holy martyrs should be buried. Bishop Anthymos, who headed the Nicomedia Church, at the request of his flock concealed himself in a village not far from Nicomedia. From there he sent missives to the Christians, urging them to cleave firmly to the holy faith and not to fear tortures. One of his letters, dispatched with the Deacon Theophilos, was intercepted and given over to the emperor Maximian. Theophilos was subjected to interrogation and died under torture, without revealing to his torturers the whereabouts of Bishop Anthymos. But after a certain while Maximian managed to learn where Saint Anthymos was situated, and he sent a detachment of soldiers after him. The bishop himself met up with them along the way. The soldiers did not recognise the identity of the saint. He invited them to join him and provided them a meal, after which he revealed that he was the one that they were searching for. The soldiers did not know what to do in this instance; indeed, they wanted to leave him be and tell the emperor that they had not found him. Bishop Anthymos was not one to tolerate a lie, and so he would not consent to this. The soldiers themselves came to believe in Christ and accepted holy Baptism. But amidst all this, the saint nonetheless demanded them to carry out the orders of the emperor. When Bishop Anthymos was brought before the emperor, the emperor gave orders that the instruments of execution be brought out and placed before him. “Dost thou think, emperor, to frighten me with these tolls of execution?” – asked the saint. – “No indeed, thou canst not frighten one that doth wish to die for Christ! Execution is frightening only for the cowardly of soul, for whom the present life is most precious”. The emperor then directed that the saint be fiercely tortured and beheaded by the sword. Bishop Anthymos to his last gasp with joy glorified God, for Whom he had been vouchsafed to suffer (+ 302; another account of the Nicomedia Martyrs is located under 28 December).

The Martyress Basilissa of Nicomedia suffered for her faith in Christ under the emperor Diocletian. The Nicomedia governor Alexander gave orders to arrest the nine year old Basilissa and force her to renounce Christ. But the young maiden displayed unshakable firmness in fidelity to her Lord and for this she was subjected to protracted and intense torture. But through the grace of God the holy martyress remained alive and unharmed. This was evident to all those present as a manifestation of the power of God, and it so shook up the governor Alexander, that he also came to believe in Christ and confessed himself a Christian. Baptised later by Bishop Anthymos, he lived for a short while afterwards in deep repentance, and then expired peacefully to the Lord, as also did Saint Basilissa some while after him. Her end was one of Christian peace and accompanied by miraculous signs of God’s mercy (+ 309).

Blessed John the Merciful of Rostov (also known as “Vlasatyi” – “the Hairy”) asceticised at Rostov in the exploit of holy folly (iurodstvo), in it enduring deprivation and sorrow. He did not have a permanent shelter and at times took his rest at the house of his spiritual father – a priest at the church of the All-Holy (“Veskhsvyatsk”), or with one of the aged widows. Living in humility, patience and unceasing prayer, he spiritually nourished many a person, in which number was also the Monk Irinarkh, Hermit of Rostov (Comm. 13 January). After his lengthy life of pursuing asceticism he died on 3 September 1580 and was buried, according to his final wishes, alongside the church of Saint Blaise beyond the altar.

He had “hair upon his head abundantly”, wherefore he was called “Vlasatyi” or “Hairy”. The title “Merciful” was bestown upon Blessed John for the many healings that occurred at his grave, and also in connection with the memory of the holy Patriarch John the Merciful (VII Century, Comm. 12 November), whose name he had in common.

Saint Phoebe the Deaconess is mentioned by the holy Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 16: 1-2).

Sainted Joannikii, Patriarch of Serbia, was a native of the city of Prizren. It is known of him, that at first he started out as a secretary under king Karl (Charles) of Serbia, and later on from the year 1339 – he guided the Church in the dignity of archbishop. In the year 1346 a Council (Sobor) of all the Serbian archpastors, and including also the Patriarch of Bulgaria, at the wish of king Dushan, chose Archbishop Joannikii as Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Sainted Joannikii reposed on 3 September 1349 and was buried in the Pech monastery.

The Pisidia Icon of the Mother of God was glorified by miracles in the city of Sozopolis. The account of its origin is unknown. In the missives about icon-veneration by Germanos, Patriarch of Constantinople, which were read at the Seventh OEcumenical Council, “the icon of the Ever-Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, located at Pisidian Sozopolis and exuding myrh from the hands thereof”, is termed “ancient”. The miracle-working effected from the icon dates back to the VI Century. One of the miracles was reported by the presbyter Eustathios, who was a contemporary of Patriarch Eutykhios (Comm. 6 April). At Amasea, just off from Sozopolis, there was a certain married couple, for whom children were born dead. Grieving over their misfortune, they turned to Patriarch Eutykhios for advice. Saint Eutykhios made prayer and with the words “in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ” he anointed them with holy oil from the Cross of the Lord and from the holy icon of the Mother of God. “Name your child Peter, and he wilt be alive”, – said he to them. Soon the couple gave birth to a son which they did indeed name Peter, and then they thereafter gave birth to a second son, whom they named John. The people of the city, in learning of this miracle, glorified God. For about 600 years myrh flowed from the Pisidian Icon of the Mother of God, a witness to which was Eleusios (a disciple of the Monk Theodore Sikeotes, of Saisota; Comm. 22 April). A copy in Russia of this ancient wonderworking icon was done in 1608, at the Moscow Novospassk monastery. The Mother of God is depicted with the Divine-Infant on Her left arm, and with Her right hand She gives blessing.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos