September 29 2020 - September 16 2020
GreatMartyress Euphemia the All-Praiseworthy (+ 304).
Sainted Kiprian, Wonderworker of Moscow and All Russia (+ 1406). Martyress Sebastiana (I). Martyress Meletina (II). Martyrs Victor and Sosthenes (+ c. 304). Monk Dorotheios, Egyptian Wilderness-Dweller (IV). Martyress Liudmila, Princess of Czechia-Bohemia (+ 927). Martyrs the Brothers Isaac and Joseph (+ 808, Gruzia). Monk Procopius (+ 1053). Monk Eubiotes the Studite.
Icons of the Mother of God: named “Support to the Humble” (“Prizri na cmirenie”) (1420), Kamensk “Znamenie-Sign” (near Opochka, 1426).
The Holy GreatMartyress Euphemia the All-Praiseworthy was the daughter of Christians – the senator Philophronos and Theodosia. She suffered for Christ in about the year 304 in the city of Chalcedon, located on the banks of the Bosphorus opposite Constantinople.
The Chalcedon governor Priscus circulated an order to all the inhabitants of Chalcedon and its surroundings to appear at a pagan feast for worship and to offer sacrifice to an idol of Ares (Mars), threatening grave torments for whomever failed to appear. During the time of this impious feast 49 Christians had hidden away at one house, where they secretly made Divine-services to the True God. The young maiden Euphemia was also among those praying there. Soon the hide-out of the Christians was discovered, and they were brought before Priscus to answer for themselves. Over the course of 19 days the martyrs were subjected to various tortures and torments, but none of them wavered in their faith nor consented to offer sacrifice to the idol. The governor, beside himself with rage and not knowing still any further means of forcing the Christians into renunciation, sent them for trial to the emperor Diocletian, but he separated from them the youngest – the maiden Euphemia, hoping that she, alone by herself, would not hold out.
Saint Euphemia, separated from her brethren in faith, fervently prayed the Lord Jesus Christ, that He Himself would strengthen her in the impending ordeal. Priscus at first urged the saint to recant, promising her earthly blessings, but then he gave the order to torture her. The martyress was tied to a wheel with sharp knives, which in turning cut at the body. The saint prayed loudly. And here it happened, that the wheel stopped by itself and would not move even with all the efforts of the executioners. An Angel of the Lord, having come down from Heaven, removed Euphemia from the wheel and healed her of her wounds, and with gladness the saint gave thanks unto the Lord.
Not perceiving the miracle that had occurred, the torturer ordered the soldiers Victor and Sosthenes to take the saint to a red-hot oven. But the soldiers, seeing amidst the flames two fearsome Angels, refused to carry out the order of the governor and became themselves believers in the God, Whom Euphemia worshipped. Boldly proclaiming that they too were Christians, Victor and Sosthenes bravely went to suffering. They were given over for devouring by wild beasts. During the time of execution they cried out for mercy to God, that the Lord should receive them into the Heavenly Kingdom. An heavenly Voice answered their cries, and they expired unto life eternal. The beasts however did not even touch their bodies.
Saint Euphemia, cast by other soldiers into the fire, remained unharmed. And with the help of God she emerged unharmed after many another torture and torment. Ascribing this to sorcery, the governor gave orders to dig out a new pit, and filling it with knives he had it covered over with ground and grass, so that the martyress would not know about the preparation for her execution; but here also Saint Euphemia remained safe, easily passing over the pit. Finally, they sentenced her to be devoured by wild beasts at the circus. Before execution the saint began to implore, that the Lord deem her worthy to die a violent death. But none of the beasts, set loose at her in the arena, attacked her. Finally, one of the she-bears struck her a small wound on the leg, from which came blood, and the holy GreatMartyr Euphemia instantly died. During this time there occurred an earthquake, and both the guards and the spectators ran in terror, so that the parents of the saint were able to take up her body and reverently bury it not far from Chalcedon.
A majestic church was afterwards erected over the grave of the GreatMartyr Euphemia. At this temple took place the sessions of the Fourth OEcumenical Council in the year 451, during the time of which in miraculous manner the holy GreatMartyress Euphemia confirmed the Orthodox confession, and setting limits to the Monophysite heresy, the details of which are related under the day of the commemoration of this miracle, 11 July.
With the taking of Chalcedon by the Persians in the year 617, the relics of the holy GreatMartyress Euphemia were transferred to Constantinople (in about the year 620). During the period of the Iconoclast heresy the reliquary with the relics of Saint Euphemia appears to have been thrown into the sea. Pious sailors pulled them out. They were afterwards taken to the Island of Lemnos, and in the year 796 they were returned to Constantinople.
Sainted Kiprian, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia, was by origin a Serb, and asceticised at Athos. By his pious life and education he came to the attention of the Constantinople Patriarch Philotheos (1354-1355, 1362-1376), who in 1375 ordained Kiprian as Metropolitan of Kiev and Lithuania. At the Constantinople Council it was decided, to avoid a fragmentation of the Russian metropolia, that “upon the death of Sainted Alexei, he should become the Metropolitan of All Rus'”. At Moscow Saint Kiprian endured many a sorrow from the great-prince, and therefore initially he lived either in Lithuania or at Constantinople. Only in the year 1390, during the time of Great-prince Vasilii Dimitrievich, was he accepted as primate at Moscow. Saint Kiprian concerned himself over the correction of the Divine-service books. There are preserved autographic manuscripts of certain Slavonic translations by the saint, witnessing to his great scientific work. And by his pastoral epistles he encouraged the faith of the Church. His activity in the translation of liturgical literature is widely known.
The Holy Martyress Sebastiana was a student of the holy Apostle Paul. During a persecution against Christians under the emperor Dometian (81-96), she was at trial as a Christian before the governor named Georgios in the city of Marcianopolis in the Mizea region. Saint Sebastiana firmly confessed her faith in Christ and for this she was subjected to cruel tortures. At first they beat her, and then they threw her into a red-hot oven, from which she emerged unharmed. They dispatched the saint to the city of Herakleia, where sentence was pronounced on her a second time. The governor named Pompian gave orders to tie the saint to a tree and lacerate her body with roof-tiles. The martyress remained unbroken in her faith. Then the governor gave her over for devouring by wild beasts. There too the Lord preserved the holy martyress, and the beasts refused to touch her. Then, by order of the governor, Saint Sebastiana was beheaded. Her body, thrown into the sea, was conveyed by Angels to the Island of Rhodes (in Thrace, in the Sea of Marmora).
The Holy Martyress Meletina lived in the city of Marcianopolis during the rule of the emperor Antoninus Pius ((138-161). She was a fervent Christian, and the Lord blessed her with the gift of wonderworking. By the power of prayers she shattered the idols of Apollo and Herakles. Her fiery preaching converted many pagans to Christ: among the converted was the spouse of the governor of the city of Marcianopolis. When the governor learned of this, he had Saint Meletina brought to trial, and sentenced her to be beheaded. In returning to his own country, the Macedonian Akakios reverently took up the body of Saint Meletina with the intention of burying her in Macedonia. But during the voyage Akakios fell sick and died. The ship stopped at the Island of Lemnos, where the body of the holy Martyress Meletina was consigned to burial, and alongside her grave they buried Akakios.
The Monk Dorotheios, Egyptian Wilderness-Dweller, a native of the Thebaid region in Egypt, asceticised for 60 years in the Skete wilderness, on the Western side of the River Nile. Palladius, bishop of Helenopolis and author of the reknown “Lausiaca”, had in his youthful years been a student of the Monk Dorotheios, and thus has passed along memories of him. The Monk Dorotheios led a austere and ascetic manner of life. After finishing his prayers, he went off into the noonday heat to gather up stones along the seashore and build cells for the other hermits. By night the saint wove baskets, in exchange for which he received the necessities of sustenance. Food for the Monk Dorotheios consisted of bread and the meagre grass in the wilderness. Once a day he partook of food and drank a little water. The monk did not lie down to sleep, and only but dozed off sometimes at work or after eating. One time the Monk Dorotheios sent off his student to go fetch water, but that one returned saying that he saw a snake in the well and that the water in the well was now poisoned. The Monk Dorotheios went then himself to the well, took up a ladle of water, and making the sign of the Cross over it he drank of it, saying: “Where there is the Cross, there the demonic powers do altogether no harm”. The Monk Dorotheios peacefully died up in age.
The Holy Martyress Liudmila, a Czech (Bohemian) princess, was married to the Czech prince Borivoy. Both spouses received holy Baptism from Saint Methodios, Archbishop of Moravia and Enlightener of the Slavs (Comm. 11 May). As Christians, they showed concerned for the enlightening of their subjects with the light of the true faith, they built churches and invited priests therein to make Divine-services. Prince Borivoy died early at age 36. Saint Liudmila as a widow led an austere pious life and continued to be concerned for the Church during the reign of her son Bratislav, which lasted for 33 years. Bratislav was married to Dragomira, from whom he had a son Vyacheslav. After the death of Bratislav, 18 year old Vyacheslav came on the throne. Taking advantage of the inexperience and youth of her son, Dragomira began to propagate pagan manners and customs in the country. Saint Liudmila of course opposed this. Dragomira came to hate her mother-in-law and tried to destroy her. When Saint Liudmila moved away to the city of Techin, Dragomira sent there two boyars in secret to murder her. At the time Saint Liudmila was praying, and the two assassins entered the house, carrying out Dragomira’s orders. The relics of the holy Martyress Liudmila was buried in Techin in the city wall. From her grave there occurred numerous healings. Prince Vyacheslav transferred the body of Saint Liudmila to the city of Prague and placed it in the church of Saint George.
The Holy Martyrs Isaac and Joseph, brothers by birth, were born in the city of Theodosiopolis, or Karna (now Erzerum). Their father was an illustrious Moslem, but their mother – a Christian. The good and pious woman educated her two sons, and also an older one whose name is uncertain, in the Christian faith. Having reached the age of maturity, all three brothers – Joseph alone being married – wanted to depart their Mahometan father in order confess their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ without hindrance. They recoursed by letter to the Byzantine emperor Nicephoros I (802-811), requesting his permission to resettle at Constantinople and to enter into service at his court. Having received a favourable reply from the Christian sovereign, the brothers began to ready themselves for the journey. The eldest soon set out for Constantinople, but Joseph and Isaac were detained by order of the emir of Theodosiopolis. Questioned about the purpose of their journey to Constantinople, the brothers answered, to the surprise of all those present including their father, that they were Christians from the time of their birth and therefore they were fleeing the impious, and wanting to confess freely their own faith. Neither by enticements nor by threats were they able to sway the brave martyrs. Having convened an assembly of officials, the emir sentenced the brothers to death. At the place of execution, on bended knee, Saints Isaac and Joseph offered up prayer to the Lord, after which the executioner chopped off their venerable heads. This occurred in the year 808. Upon the unburied bodies of the holy martyrs by night came down and shone an extraordinarily bright column of light over them. Struck by this sign, the Mahometans the next day besought the Christians of the city to give burial to the bodies of the holy martyrs. Later, at the place of burial of the saints was built a temple and consecrated in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity.
The Monk Procopius was born in Bohemia, in the village of Hotun. In his dignity of priest he toiled much for the propagating of the Christian faith in Czechia. By the River Zasava he founded a monastery in the name of Saint John the Precursor, at which he died in the year 1053.
The Icon of the Mother of God, named “Support to the Humble” (“Prizri na smirenie”), appeared in the year 1420 in the Pskov lands at Stony Lake. That same year on 16 September it was transferred to Pskov and put in the cathedral church. In memory of the transfer of this wonderworking icon there was established its celebration.
© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos