September 23 2020 - September 10 2020
Martyresses Menodora, Metrodora and Nymphodora (+ c. 305-311). Monk Paul the Obedient, of Pechersk in the Farther Caves (XIII-XIV). Monk Prince Andrei, in Monasticism Joasaph, of Kamensk (+ 1453). Monk Kassian, Hegumen of Kamensk (+ c. 1463). Disciples from the Seventy: Apellias, Lucius and Clement (I). Martyr Baripsaua (II). Nobleborn Greek Empress Pulcheria (+ 453). Saints Peter and Paul, Bishops of Nicea (IX). Saint Kallinikos. Three Holy Women, of a Desolate Mountain (X).
The Holy Virgins Menodora, Metrodora and Nymphodora (305-311), were sisters by birth, and they were from Bithynia (Asia Minor). Distinguished for their especial piety, the Christian sisters wanted to preserve their virginity and avoid worldly association. They chose for themselves a solitary place in the wilderness and spent their lives in deeds of fasting and prayer. Reports about the holy life of the virgins soon spread about, since through their prayers healings of the sick began to occur. The Bithynia region was governed at that time by a governor named Frontonus, who gave orders to arrest the sisters and bring them before him. At first he tried to persuade them to renounce Christ, promising great honours and rewards. But the holy sisters steadfastly confessed their faith before him, rejecting all the suggestions of the governor, and declaring to him, that they did not value temporal earthly blessings, and that they were prepared to die for their Heavenly Bridegroom. Going into a rage, the governor took out his wrath on the eldest of them – Saint Menodora. The saint bravely endured the torments and finally, she cried out: “Lord Jesus Christ, joy of my heart, my hope, in peace receive Thou my soul!” And with these words she gave up her spirit to God.
Four days later they brought to the court the younger sisters Metrodora and Nymphodora. They put before them the battered body of their elder sister to frighten them. The virgins wept over her, but they likewise remained steadfast. Then they subjected Saint Metrodora to torture. She died, crying out with her last breath to her beloved Lord Jesus Christ. Then they turned to the third sister Nymphodora. Before her lay the bruised bodies of her elder sisters. Frontonus hoped that this spectacle would intimidate the young virgin. Under pretense that he was charmed by her youth and beauty, he began amiably to urge her to worship the pagan gods, promising great rewards and honours. Saint Nymphodora rebuffed his words, and shared the fate of her older sisters. She was tortured to death with blows from iron rods.
The bodies of the holy martyrs were to be burnt on a bon-fire, but a strong rain extinguished the blazing fire, and lightning felled Frontonus and his servant. Christians took up the bodies of the holy sisters and reverently buried them at the so-called Warm Springs at Pythias (Bithynia). Part of the relics of the holy martyrs are preserved at Athos in the Pokrov-Protection cathedral of the Russian Panteleimon monastery, and the hand of Saint Metrodora is situated on the Holy Mountain in the monastery of the Pantocrator.
The Monk Paul the Obedient (XIII-XIV), was an ascetic in the Farther Caves at Kiev. Upon assuming the monastic form at the Pechersk monastery, the monk without a murmur underwent very burdensome obediences, on which the monastery head had sent him. He was never idle, and when he was not at an obedience, he ground the grain under the millstone, wearing down his body by this heavy work and keeping unceasing inner prayer. The Church honours his memory on 10 September, on the day of his name in common with Sainted Paul, Bishop of Nicea (X).
The Monk Joasaph of Kamensk, Vologda Wonderworker, in the world was named Prince Andrei (Andrew). His parents – prince Dimitrii Vasil’evich of Lesser Zaozersk (a descendant of holy Nobleborn Prince Theodore (Feodor) Rostislavich, of Smolensk and Yaroslavl'), and princess Maria – were known for their deep piety, which they imparted to the future ascetic. At twenty years of age Prince Andrei accepted tonsure at the Kubensk Spaso-Kamenyi monastery with the name Joasaph, in honour of Saint Joasaph, son of an emperor of India (Comm. 19 November). The Monk Joasaph gained a good reputation for himself by complete obedience, keeping of the fasts, zeal in prayer and love for books. The brethren of the monastery were amazed at the gracious meekness and sincerity of mind of the young ascetic. Under the spiritual nurture of the experienced elder Grigorii (Gregory), afterwards bishop of Rostov, Saint Joasaph progressed in virtue. He led the life of an hermit in his cell and attained to high spiritual talents. Saint Joasaph asceticised at the Spaso-Kamenyi monastery over the course of five years. In the final year of his life he partook of food only once during the week and communed the Holy Mysteries each Sunday. Before his end the monk took his farewell from the brethren, consoling and admonishing the monks not to grieve over his parting. In the presence of the brethren the monk made the monastic rule, said prayer to the Lord and to the Mother of God, then he lay down upon his death bed and quietly died with prayer on his lips, on the day of 10 September 1453.
The Holy Disciple Apellias (or Apelles) from amidst the Seventy Disciples was a bishop in the city of Smyrna (on the Eastern coast of the Aegean Sea). The holy Apostle Paul makes mention of him in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 16: 10).
The Holy Disciple Lucius (or Luke) from amidst the Seventy Disciples was bishop in Syrian Laodicia (a former chief city in Phrygia). The holy Apostle Paul likewise makes mention of him in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 16: 21), amongst the other Christians whom he greets.
The Holy Disciple Clement was bishop in Sardica (an ancient wealthy city of Lydia in Asia Minor). The holy Apostle Paul makes mention of his name in the Epistle to the Philippians (Phil. 4: 3). Addressing a certain “sincere co-worker of his”, Paul entreats him: “Assist them, which did asceticise and evangelise together with me and with Clement and my other co-workers, whose names be in the Book of Life” (the account about the Assemblage-Sobor of the Seventy Disciples is situated under 4 January).
The Nobleborn Empress Pulcheria, daughter of the Greek-Byzantine emperor Arcadius (395-408), was co-regent and adviser of her brother Theodosius the Younger (408-450). Having received a broad and well-rounded education, she distinguished herself by her wisdom and piety, firmly adhering to the Orthodox teaching of faith. Through her efforts the church of the MostHoly Mother of God at Blakhernae was built, and likewise other churches and monasteries. With her assist, the Third OEcumenical Council was convened in the year 431 at Ephesus, to deal with the heresy of Nestorius.
Through the intrigues of enemies and also Eudocia, the wife of the emperor Theodosius the Younger, Saint Pulcheria was stripped of rule. She withdrew into seclusion, where she lived a pious life. But without her things became disorderly, and after a certain while, upon the urgent request of her brother the emperor she returned, and the unrest provoked by emerging heresies was quelled. After the death of Theodosius the Younger, Marcian (450-457) was chosen emperor. Saint Pulcheria again wanted to withdraw into her seclusion, but both the emperor and officials besought her not to forsake the rule, and instead become the spouse of the emperor Marcian. For the common good she consented to become the wife of Marcian on the condition, that she be permitted to preserve her virginity within the marriage. In such manner the imperial spouses lived in purity, like brother and sister.
Through the efforts of Saint Pulcheria, the Fourth OEcumenical Council was convened in the year 451 at Chalcedon, to deal with the heresies of Dioskoros and Eutykhios.
Throughout the course of all her life Saint Pulcheria defended the Orthodox teaching of faith against the various heresies that emerged. Having distributed off her substance to the poor and to the Church, she died peacefully at age 54 in the year 453.
Saints Peter and Paul were bishops at Nicea. Saint Peter defended the Orthodox faith against the iconoclasts during the reign of Leo the Isaurian (813-820) and endured suffering for this. He died no earlier than the year 823: four Letters of Saint Theodore the Studite to Saint Peter are known of, written in the years 816-823. No account about the life of holy Bishop Paul of Nicea has been preserved. The first that his name is met with is in the so-called “Petrine” Greek Prologue of the XI Century.
© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos