Orthodox River


October 10 2020 - September 27 2020

Martyr Callistratus and his comrades (+ 304). Monk Savvatii of Solovetsk (+ 1435). Disciples from the Seventy: Mark, Aristarchus and Zeno (I). Holy Martyress Epikharia (III). Monk Ignatios (+ 963-975). Martyrs Bishop Philemon and Fortunianus. Martyress Gaiana. Fifteen Martyrs burned on a ship. Martyress Akelina of Soluneia (+ 1764). Sainted Flavian, Patriarch of Antioch (381-404). Saint Victor the Hegumen. Saint Febronia. Monk Dorotheos. Martyr Gymnasios.

Saint Callistratus was a native of Carthage. An ancestor of Saint Callistratus, Neoscorus, has served under the emperor Tiberius in Palestine, under the command of the procurator of Judea Pontius Pilate, and was a witness to the suffering on the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, His martyr’s death and glorious Resurrection. The father of the saint was a Christian, and he raised his son in faith and piety. Also like his father, Saint Callistratus became a soldier and excelled among his pagan military comrades by good conduct and gentle disposition. During the nights when everyone slept, he usually stayed up at prayer. One time a soldier sleeping nearby him heard Saint Callistratus invoking the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he reported this to the military commander, who in turn summoned Callistratus, interrogated him and wanted to make him offer sacrifice to idols. To this the saint answered firmly with a resolute refusal. Then the military commander gave orders to beat the saint and then, covered with wounds, to drag him over sharp stones. The beating and the torments did not sway the firm will and brave endurance of the sufferer. The torturer gave orders to sew up the saint in a leather sack and drown him in the sea. By Divine Providence however the sack came upon a sharp rock tearing it, and Saint Callistratus, supported by dolphins, came to dry land unharmed. Viewing such a miracle, 49 soldiers came to believe in Christ. Then the military commander threw Saint Callistratus together with the believing soldiers into prison. Before this, all of them were subjected to innumerable floggings.

In confinement Saint Callistatus continued to preach the Word of God to the soldiers and he bolstered their spirits for the martyr’s act. Summoned again to the military commander, the sufferers firmly confessed their faith in Christ, after which they bound them hand and foot and threw them into a water-dam. But there their bonds broke, and with bright faces the holy martyrs stood in the water, rejoicing in their Baptism, which coincided with the act of martyrdom. Over them were beautiful bright crowns, and all heard a voice: “Be brave, Callistratus, with thine company, and come rest in the eternal habitations”. At the same time with this, the earth shuddered and an idol standing not far off fell down and smashed. Beholding this happening, another 135 soldiers also believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. The military commander, fearing a mutiny in the army, did not set about to judge them, but again imprisoned Saint Callistratus with the others, where they fervently prayed and gave thanks to the Creator, for having given them power to endure such sufferings. At night by order of the military commander they chopped the martyrs to pieces with swords. Their holy remains were buried by the remaining-alive 135 soldiers, and afterwards on the spot of their sufferings, as Saint Callistatus had foretold, a church was built.

The Monk Savvatii of Solovetsk came to the Kirillo-Beloezersk monastery in the year 1396, where he took monastic vows. He there pursued asceticism for a long time, unquestioningly fulfilling all obediences. His humility, gentle love towards the brethren and his strict life distinguished the monk Savvatii among his fellow ascetics. He soon became burdened by the attention and esteem of the brethren and laity coming to him, and having learned that on Lake Ladoga is the rocky island of Valaam, he decided to settle there. Quite sadly, the brethren of the Kirillo-Beloezersk monastery were parted from their starets (elder). At Valaam the worldly fame likewise began to disquiet the humble starets. Amidst this the monk learned, that in the North was the uninhabited island of Solovetsk, and he began to ask of the hegumen blessing to settle there in solitude. But the hegumen and the brethren did not want to be separated from their holy starets-elder. At the command of God the Monk Savvatii by night left the Valaam monastery and set off to the shores of the White Sea. When he learned from the local people that the island was situated at a two-day voyage, that on it were many lakes and that on the island no one lived, he all the more was embued with the desire to settle there. The astonished local people asked the ascetic, whitened with grey hair, how he would live there and what he would eat. “My Master is such, – answered the monk, – Who unto frailty giveth the fresh strength of youth, and nourisheth to fullness the hungry”.

For a certain while the Monk Savvatii remained at the chapel, set nearby the mouth of the Vyg River, in the environs of Soroka. There he encountered the Monk German – pursuing asceticism as an hermit, and together they decided to settle upon the island. In a frail boat, praying to God, the elders set off upon the harsh sea and after three days they reached Solovetsk Island. The ascetics settled by the Sekirna hill, where they raised up a cross and made their cells. In the severe conditions of the North the startsi-elders over the course of several years by their exploits hallowed the unpopulated island. And here likewise the enemy of mankind – the devil, tempted the holy elders. A certain fisherman with his wife, moved with a sense of envy, came somehow to the island and settled not far from the ascetics. But the Lord did not permit the laypeople to maintain themselves alongside the elders. Two youths in bright garb appeared to the wife of the fisherman and struck at her with rods. The fisherman took fright, quickly gathered his things and hastened to return to his former place of residence.

Once, when the Monk German had gone for cell-necessities off along the Onega River, the Monk Savvatii – remaining alone and sensing his impending end, with prayer turned to God, that He would grant him to commune the Holy Mysteries. The monk sailed for two days to the mainland and at ten versts from the Vyg River encountered the hegumen Nathanael, who had come to the distant settlement to commune a sick Christian. Hegumen Nathanael rejoiced at meeting the monk, fulfilled his wish and heard the account about his exploits on the island. In parting, they agreed to meet at the church along the Vyg River.

Entering the temple, the holy elder prayerfully gave thanks to God for Communion. He then enclosed himself in a cell located nearby the church, and began to prepare himself for hermitage in the eternal habitation. During this time the Novgorod merchant John came to shore and, having venerated the holy icons in church, he went to the holy elder. Having received blessing and guidance, he offered the monk a portion of his wealth and was saddened, when he heard a refusal. To comfort the merchant, the Monk Savvatii offered him to stay over until morning and promised him prosperity on further journeying. But the merchant John hastened to disembark. Suddenly there began an earthquake and on the sea a storm picked up. Having taken fright, the merchant stayed, and in the morning when entering the cell for a blessing, he saw that the elder was already dead. Together with the just-arrived hegumen Nathanael, they buried the Monk Savvatii at the chapel and compiled a manuscript of his life. This occurred on 27 September 1435. After 30 years the relics of the Monk Savvatii were transferred by the Monk Zosima (+ 1478, Comm. 17 April) and the brethren of Solovetsk Island, placing them in the Transfiguration church. In 1566 the relics of the Monks Savvatii and Zosima were transferred into a church, named in their honour (combined Commemoration 8 August).

The Holy Disciple from the Seventy – Mark, also named John, is mentioned by the holy Disciple and Evangelist Luke in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 12: 25, 15: 37-39) and also by the holy Apostle Paul in both the Epistle to the Colossians (Col. 4: 10) and the Epistle to Philemon (Phlm. 1: 23). The holy Disciple Mark preached the Word of God together with Paul and Barnabas and was made bishop by them of the Phoenician city of Biblos. The holy Disciple Mark attained great daring before God, such that his very shadow healed the sick (Comm. also 15 April).

The Holy Disciple from the Seventy – Aristarchus was mentioned by the holy Apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Colossians (Col. 4: 10) and in Philemon (Phlm. 1: 23). The holy Disciple Aristarchus accompanied the holy Apostle Paul, and afterwards was made bishop in the Syrian city of Apameia (Comm. also 15 April).

The Holy Disciple from the Seventy – Zenon, a disciple and co-worker with the first-ranked Apostle Paul, was called a “lawyer”, – since he was a learned man and led juridical matters in church courts. There is mention about him in the Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to Titus (Tit. 3: 13): “Take care to send off Zenon the lawyer and Apollos such that nothing be wanting for them”. Afterwards the disciple Zenon became bishop of the city of Diospolis (or Lydda) in Palestine.

The Holy Martyress Epikharia lived at Rome during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). For her steadfast confession of Christ as Saviour they subjected her to tortures: they suspended her and tore at her body with iron hooks, and then they beat at her with tin threshing-rakes. The holy martyress prayed, and an Angel of God struck down the torturers. Then Saint Epikharia was beheaded.

The Monk Ignatios lived during the X Century in Cappadocia and from his youth was dedicated by his parents to God. Upon attaining the age of maturity, he accepted monasticism and soon was ordained to the dignity of presbyter. Saint Ignatios afterwards was made hegumen of a monastery of the Saviour, called “Deep River”, nearby to Constantinople. The Monk Ignatios concerned himself about the monastery, embellishing the churches and making an enclosure for the monastery. The Monk Ignatios died in the city of Amoreia in the year 975. His relics after a long period of time were uncovered undecayed.

Sainted Flavian, Patriarch of Antioch, – the account about him is located under 16 February.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos