September 17 2020 - September 04 2020
PriestMartyr Babyla, Bishop of Great Antioch, and with him the 3 Lads: Urban, Prilidian, Eppolonias and their Mother Christodoula (+ c. 251). Holy Prophet and God-Seer Moses (+ 1531 B.C.).
Uncovering of Relics of Sainted Joasaph, Bishop of Belgorod (1911). Martyress Hermionia, Daughter of the Disciple Philip the Deacon (+ c. 117). Martyrs Babyla of Nicomedia, Ammanias, Donatos and 82 Lads (IV). Martyrs Theodore, Mianos, Julian and Kion (+ 305-311). Martyrs Theotimos and Theodoulos. Monk Svimon Garedze (Gruzia). Saint Eutykhios. Monk Petronias (+ c. 349).
Icon of the Mother of God, named “Unconsumed Burning Bush” (“Neopalimaya Kupina”) (1680).
The PriestMartyr Babyla and with him the 3 Lads Urban, Prilidian, Eppolonias and their Mother Christodoula died as martyrs under the emperor Decius (249-251). During a time of his stay at their city of Antioch, the emperor arranged for a large festival in honour of the pagan gods. During this same time the holy and God-fearing bishop of Antioch, Babyla, was making Divine Liturgy in church; he prayed for his flock and taught it bravely to undergo all the tribulations for the faith in Christ. After his abomination of idol-worship, Decius– wanting to behold the making of the Divine Mysteries, decided to enter the church and by his visit to defile the Sanctuary of the Lord. News of this reached the bishop, and he, not wanting to permit impiety in the temple of God, went out to meet him and block the path to the church. When the emperor tried to get closer to the church doors, Saint Babyla shoved him away with his hands, such that the emperor had to forego his intent. He wanted to take his revenge on the saint right away, but seeing the large throng of Christians, he feared having them riot.
The next day the angry emperor gave orders to set fire to the Christian temple, and to bring Bishop Babyla before him. To the question about why he should insult the imperial dignity, and not allow the emperor into the church nor render him due respect of position, the holy bishop answered: “Anyone that would rise up against God and want to desecrate His sanctuary, – such an one not only is not worthy of respect, but is become the enemy of the Lord”.
The emperor demanded, that the holy bishop worship the idols and in such manner redeem his offence against the emperor, or else face execution. But having convinced himself that the martyr would remain steadfast in his faith, he commanded the military-commander Victorinus to put him in heavy chains and lead him through the city in disgrace. To this the holy martyr replied: “Emperor, for me these chains be as venerable, as for thee is thine imperial crown, and the suffering for Christ for me is as acceptable, as is the imperial power for thee; death for the Immortal King for me is as desirable, as thine life be for thee”.
At the trial with Bishop Babyla were three young brothers, who did not forsake him even in this most difficult moment. Seeing them, the emperor asked: “Who are these children? " “These are my spiritual children, – answered the saint, – and I have raised them in piety, I have nourished them with an education, cultivated them with guidance, and here in a small body before thee are these great young men and perfect Christians. Test and see”.
The emperor tried in all sorts of ways to entice the youths and their mother Christodoula into a renunciation of Christ, but in vain. Then in a rage he gave orders to whip each of them in a number equivalent to their years of age. The first they whipped with 12 blows, the second – 10, and the third – 7. Having dismissed the mother and children, the torturer again summoned the bishop, telling him that the children had renounced Christ. But the lie quickly unraveled and brought no success. Then in a rage he commanded all the martyrs be tied on a tree and burnt at with fire. But seeing the stoic bravery of the saints, the emperor finally condemned them to the death of martyrdom by beheading with the sword (+ c. 251).
The Holy Prophet and God-Seer Moses: his life is narrated within the Bible (Exod. 2 through Deut. 34: 12).
Sainted Joasaph was born at Proluka, in the former Poltava governance, on 8 September 1705, the feastday of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God. At Baptism he was named Joakim. He was descended from the old and venerable Little Russian (Ukrainian) lineage of the Gorlenkovi. In 1712 his father enrolled the 7 year old Joakim in the Kiev Spiritual Academy. Within the walls of the academy he felt the attraction towards monastic life. And over the course of 7 years he studied it further, and finally revealed his intent to his parents. For a long time his mother and father pleaded with their first-born son not to accept monastic tonsure. But in 1725, in secret from them, he became a “ryasophor” (“robe-wearing novice”) with the name Ilarion at the Kiev Mezhigorsk monastery, and on 21 November 1727 he was tonsured in monk’s-mantle with the name Joasaph at the Kievo-Bratsk monastery. This event co-incided with the completion of his studies at the spiritual academy. After the death of His Grace Varlaam, the Kiev cathedra-chair was governed by archbishop Raphael Zaborovsky. Archbishop Raphael directed his attention to the evident abilities of the young ascetic and drew him into still more widespread a service to the Church. He was entrusted the responsible obedience of the office of examiner of the Kiev archbishopric. In November 1734 archbishop Raphael ordained the monk-deacon Joasaph to the dignity of priest-monk, and he transferred over from the Bratsk monastery school to the Kievo-Sophia archbishop’s house. At the same time he was appointed a member of the Kiev religious consistory. In fulfilling the office of examiner, he exerted much effort towards the correction of moral deficiencies among the parish clergy. The consistory office service of the saint proved a fine schooling for his administrative abilities. During this time he made a good study of the needs of clergy-servers, noting both the good points and the failings of the diocese. Herein in clear form developed Joasaph’s many-sided ability for matter, combined with great inner spiritual efforts. He quickly rose up the ladder of spiritual perfection, to which he witnesses in his work, “The Conflict of the Seven Venerable Virtues with the Seven Deadly Sins”.
On 24 June 1737 Priest-monk Joasaph was appointed head of the Holy Transfiguration Mgarsk monastery, with elevation to the dignity of hegumen. Here the hegumen worked with all his strength to get the monastery in good order, which was an old bulwark of Orthodoxy in the struggle with the Unia. In this monastery were situated relics of Sainted Athanasias, Patriarch of Constantinople and Lubensk Wonderworker (Comm. 2 May). And several times Sainted Athanasias appeared to Hegumen Joasaph, witnessing to his patronal protection.
In 1744 metropolitan Raphael elevated Hegumen Joasaph to the dignity of archimandrite. Towards the end of that same year he was called to Moscow and soon, at the direction of the MostHoly Synod, he was appointed vicar of the Holy Trinity Sergiev Lavra monastery. At this monastery of the Monk Sergei he likewise unstintingly fulfilled obedience to the Church (this year required much exertion for the rebuilding of the monastery after a conflagration).
On 2 June 1748 at the Petropavlovsk (Peter and Paul) cathedral in Peterburg, Archimandrite Joasaph was ordained bishop of Belgorod. Entering upon the archbishop cathedra-chair, Saint Joasaph strictly concerned himself with piety and the condition of the churches, with the proper making of Divine-services and especially the moral condition of his flock. The saint devoted great attention to the education of the clergy, and the correct observance by them of churchly norms and traditions. And just as before, the saint worked with all his strength at the archpastoral service, without regard for his health. To his cell‑attendant Stefan, on the eve of his repose, the saint forbade him to aspire to the priestly dignity and he predicted, that in case of disobedience he would meet with an untimely end. To another dell-attendant Vasilii, the saint indicated that he would be a deacon, but would never attain the dignity of priesthood. And this prediction was afterwards fulfilled. On 10 December 1754 the saint died. Sainted Joasaph was glorified to the ranks of the Saints on 4 September 1911.
The Holy Martyress Hermionia was a daughter of the holy Apostle Philip (Comm. 14 November). Wanting to see the holy Apostle John the Theologian, Hermionia with her sister Euthykhia set off to Asia (Asia Minor) in search of the saint, but during the time of their journey they learned the saint had died. Continuing on, the sisters met up with a disciple of Saint Paul named Petronias, and copying him in everything, they became his disciples. Saint Hermionia, having mastered the healing arts, rendered help to many a Christian and by the power of Christ she healed the sick.
During this period, the emperor Trajan (98-117) waged war against the Persians and he came with his army through the village where the saint lived. When they reported that Hermionia was a Christian, he gave orders to bring her to him. At first the emperor with casual admonitions sought to persuade the saint to renounce Christ. When this did not succeed, he commanded that she should be struck on the face at length, but she joyfully endured this suffering. Moreover, she was comforted by a vision of the Lord, sitting upon the throne of judgement, in semblance of Petronias. Convincing himself that she was adamant in her faith, Trajan sent her away. Hermionia later built an hospice in which she took in the sick, doctoring their infirmities both of body and soul.
Trajan’s successor as emperor, Adrian, again commanded that the saint be brought to trial for confessing the Christian faith. At first, the emperor commanded that she be beaten mercilessly, then they pierced the soles of her feet with nails, and finally they threw her into a cauldron with boiling tar, tin and sulphurous brimstone. But the saint bore everything giving thanks to God. And the Lord rendered her His mercy: the fire went out, the tin flowed off, and the saint remained unharmed. Adrian in surprise went up to the place of torture and touched at the cauldron, to ascertain whether it had cooled. But just as he touched at the cauldron, he burned the skin on his hand. But even this did not dissuade the torturer. He gave orders to heat red-hot a sort of frying-pan and put upon it the holy martyress. And here again happened another miracle. An Angel of the Lord scattered about the hot coals and burnt many that stood about the fire. The saint stood on the frying-pan, as though on green grass, hymning forth praise to the Lord. Descending the frying-pan, the holy martyress seemed to appear willing to offer sacrifice to the pagan god Hercules. The delighted emperor gave orders to take her off to the idolous temple. When however the saint prayed there to God, a loud thunder-clap was heard, and all the idols in the pagan temple fell and shattered. In a rage the emperor ordered that Hermionia be led out beyond the city and beheaded. Two servants – Theodoulos and Timothy – were entrusted to carry out the execution. Going along the way, they wanted to commit iniquity against the saint, but just as they were considering this, their hands withered. Then they believed in Jesus Christ and with repentance they fell at the feet of Saint Hermionia. They besought her to pray to the Lord, that He should summon them to Himself before her, which through this prayer transpired. After this, having prayed, she also expired to the Lord (+ c. 117).
The Martyr Babyla, and with him his 84 Students, suffered in the city of Nicomedia for their confessing of Christianity during the reign of the emperor Maximian (284-305). The emperor, then in Nicomedia, renewed the persecution against Christians. Just as with many another amongst believers, denunciation was made to Maximian regarding Babyla, that he was instructing children in Christian piety. When the elder Babyla was brought before the emperor, and after his confession of faith in the True God, he was given over to many torments. During the time of his sufferings the holy martyr cried out to God: “I give Thee thanks, O Lord, that Thou hast rendered me, old and infirm, to be young and strong”. After a pummelting with stones his bloodied body was thrown in irons and they took him off to prison. Then they led the students of the saint before the emperor. Neither affable urgings nor promise of gifts were able to sway the Christian convictions of the children. Two of them, Ammonias and Donatos, firmly declared: “We – are Christians, and we do not offer sacrifice to deaf and dumb devils”. The emperor, going into a rage over the unexpected and firm rebuke on the part of the children, at first ordered them to be whipped, and later to be put to death by beheading, together with their teacher. Going to execution, the holy Martyr Babyla intoned the benediction to God: “Lo, I and the children, which God hath given me!” With spiritual rejoicing at first Saint Babyla, and then all his 84 students, accepted death by martyrdom.
The Holy Martyrs Theodore, Mianos, Julian and Kion lived during the reign of Maximian (305-311) and were from the village of Quandababa (near Nicomedia). For confessing faith in Christ they were arrested and given over to torture. At first their bodies were torn at with sharp iron hooks, and then they were locked into an hot and flooded bath-house. And so that they should not escape, the doors were locked and sealed with the imperial signet-ring. But an Angel of the Lord freed them. Soldiers again arrested the martyrs and led them beyond the city for execution. The saints at their request were given time for prayer, and then they gave up their souls to the Lord. Their bodies were hacked into pieces and thrown into a fire.
© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos