Archippus the Apostles,Philemon the Apostle & his wife, Apphia, Onesimos the Disciple of Paul
Holy Martyr Cecilia and Those with Her
Afterfeast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple
Τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἀποστόλου Φιλήμονος καί τῶν σύν αὐτῷ Ἀπφίας, Ἀρχίππου καί Ὀνησίμου.
Τῆς Ἁγίας Μάρτυρος Κικιλίας καί τῶν σύν αὐτῇ.
Τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρός ἡμῶν Καλλίστου, Πατριάρχου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως τοῦ Ξανθοπούλου.
Τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρός ἡμῶν Ἀνθίμου, Προέδρου Κρήτης.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to Philemon 1:1-25
PAUL, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker, and Apphia our sister and Archippos our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may promote the knowledge of all the good that is ours in Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you - I, Paul, an ambassador and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus - I appeal to you for my child, Onesimos, whose father I have become in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel; but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own free will. Perhaps this is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand, I will repay it - to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping through your prayers to be granted to you. Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchos, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Πρὸς Φιλήμονα 1:1-25
Παῦλος δέσμιος χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, καὶ Τιμόθεος ὁ ἀδελφός, Φιλήμονι τῷ ἀγαπητῷ καὶ συνεργῷ ἡμῶν, καὶ Ἀπφίᾳ τῇ ἀγαπητῇ, καὶ Ἀρχίππῳ τῷ συστρατιώτῃ ἡμῶν, καὶ τῇ κατʼ οἶκόν σου ἐκκλησίᾳ· χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου, πάντοτε μνείαν σου ποιούμενος ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν μου, ἀκούων σου τὴν ἀγάπην, καὶ τὴν πίστιν ἣν ἔχεις πρὸς τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν καὶ εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους, ὅπως ἡ κοινωνία τῆς πίστεώς σου ἐνεργὴς γένηται ἐν ἐπιγνώσει παντὸς ἀγαθοῦ τοῦ ἐν ἡμῖν εἰς χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν. Χάριν γὰρ ἔχομεν πολλὴν καὶ παράκλησιν ἐπὶ τῇ ἀγάπῃ σου, ὅτι τὰ σπλάγχνα τῶν ἁγίων ἀναπέπαυται διὰ σοῦ, ἀδελφέ. Διὸ πολλὴν ἐν χριστῷ παρρησίαν ἔχων ἐπιτάσσειν σοι τὸ ἀνῆκον, διὰ τὴν ἀγάπην μᾶλλον παρακαλῶ, τοιοῦτος ὢν ὡς Παῦλος πρεσβύτης, νυνὶ δὲ καὶ δέσμιος Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. Παρακαλῶ σε περὶ τοῦ ἐμοῦ τέκνου, ὃν ἐγέννησα ἐν τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου, Ὀνήσιμον, τόν ποτέ σοι ἄχρηστον, νυνὶ δὲ σοὶ καὶ ἐμοὶ εὔχρηστον, ὅν ἀνέπεμψα· σὺ δὲ αὐτόν, τοῦτʼ ἔστιν τὰ ἐμὰ σπλάγχνα, προσλαβοῦ· ὃν ἐγὼ ἐβουλόμην πρὸς ἐμαυτὸν κατέχειν, ἵνα ὑπὲρ σοῦ διακονῇ μοι ἐν τοῖς δεσμοῖς τοῦ εὐαγγελίου· χωρὶς δὲ τῆς σῆς γνώμης οὐδὲν ἠθέλησα ποιῆσαι, ἵνα μὴ ὡς κατὰ ἀνάγκην τὸ ἀγαθόν σου ᾖ, ἀλλὰ κατὰ ἑκούσιον. Τάχα γὰρ διὰ τοῦτο ἐχωρίσθη πρὸς ὥραν, ἵνα αἰώνιον αὐτὸν ἀπέχῃς· οὐκέτι ὡς δοῦλον, ἀλλʼ ὑπὲρ δοῦλον, ἀδελφὸν ἀγαπητόν, μάλιστα ἐμοί, πόσῳ δὲ μᾶλλον σοὶ καὶ ἐν σαρκὶ καὶ ἐν κυρίῳ. Εἰ οὖν με ἔχεις κοινωνόν, προσλαβοῦ αὐτὸν ὡς ἐμέ. Εἰ δέ τι ἠδίκησέν σε ἢ ὀφείλει, τοῦτο ἐμοὶ ἐλλόγει· ἐγὼ Παῦλος ἔγραψα τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί, ἐγὼ ἀποτίσω· ἵνα μὴ λέγω σοι ὅτι καὶ σεαυτόν μοι προσοφείλεις. Ναί, ἀδελφέ, ἐγώ σου ὀναίμην ἐν κυρίῳ· ἀνάπαυσόν μου τὰ σπλάγχνα ἐν κυρίῳ. Πεποιθὼς τῇ ὑπακοῇ σου ἔγραψά σοι, εἰδὼς ὅτι καὶ ὑπὲρ ὃ λέγω ποιήσεις. Ἅμα δὲ καὶ ἑτοίμαζέ μοι ξενίαν· ἐλπίζω γὰρ ὅτι διὰ τῶν προσευχῶν ὑμῶν χαρισθήσομαι ὑμῖν. Ἀσπάζονταί σε Ἐπαφρᾶς ὁ συναιχμάλωτός μου ἐν χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, Μᾶρκος, Ἀρίσταρχος, Δημᾶς, Λουκᾶς, οἱ συνεργοί μου. Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν. Ἀμήν.
The Reading is from Luke 17:26-37; 18:8
The Lord said, "As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man. They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was in the days of Lot -- they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all -- so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed. On that day, let him who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away; and likewise let him who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot's wife. Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together; one will be taken and the other left." And they said to him, "Where, Lord?" He said to them, "Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 17.26-37, 18.8
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος· Καθὼς ἐγένετο ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Νῶε, οὕτως ἔσται καὶ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου·ἤσθιον, ἔπινον, ἐγάμουν, ἐξεγαμίζοντο, ἄχρι ἧς ἡμέρας εἰσῆλθε Νῶε εἰς τὴν κιβωτόν, καὶ ἦλθεν ὁ κατακλυσμὸς καὶ ἀπώλεσεν ἅπαντας. ὁμοίως καὶ ὡς ἐγένετο ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Λώτ· ἤσθιον, ἔπινον, ἠγόραζον, ἐπώλουν, ἐφύτευον, ᾠκοδόμουν· ᾗ δὲ ἡμέρᾳ ἐξῆλθε Λὼτ ἀπὸ Σοδόμων, ἔβρεξε πῦρ καὶ θεῖον ἀπ᾿ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ἀπώλεσεν ἅπαντας. κατὰ τὰ αὐτὰ ἔσται ᾗ ἡμέρᾳ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἀποκαλύπτεται. ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ὃς ἔσται ἐπὶ τοῦ δώματος καὶ τὰ σκεύη αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ, μὴ καταβάτω ἆραι αὐτά, καὶ ὁ ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ ὁμοίως μὴ ἐπιστρεψάτω εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω.μνημονεύετε τῆς γυναικὸς Λώτ. ὃς ἐὰν ζητήσῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι, ἀπολέσει αὐτήν, καὶ ὃς ἐὰν ἀπολέσῃ αὐτήν, ζωογονήσει αὐτήν. λέγω ὑμῖν, ταύτῃ τῇ νυκτὶ δύο ἔσονται ἐπὶ κλίνης μιᾶς, εἷς παραληφθήσεται καὶ ὁ ἕτερος ἀφεθήσεται· δύο ἔσονται ἀλήθουσαι ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό, μία παραληφθήσεται καὶ ἡ ἑτέρα ἀφεθήσεται· δύο ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ, εἷς παραληφθήσεται καὶ ὁ ἕτερος ἀφεθήσεται. καὶ ἀποκριθέντες λέγουσιν αὐτῷ· ποῦ, Κύριε; ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ὅπου τὸ σῶμα, ἐκεῖ ἐπισυναχθήσονται καὶ οἱ ἀετοί. λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ποιήσει τὴν ἐκδίκησιν αὐτῶν ἐν τάχει. πλὴν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐλθὼν ἆρα εὑρήσει τὴν πίστιν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς;
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΚΒ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Ἀποστόλων ἐκ τῶν Ἑβδομήκοντα, Φιλήμονος, Ἀρχίππου, Ἀπφίας καὶ Ὀνησίμου, μαθητῶν γεγονότων Παύλου τοῦ Ἀποστόλου.
Χριστοῦ καλοῦντος, ὤφθητε δρόμῳ ξένῳ,
Χριστοῦ μαθηταί, δραμόντες πρὸς τὴν κλῆσιν.
Εἰκάδι δευτερίῃ, Φιλήμονα ἔνθεν ἄειραν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Κικιλίας, Βαλλεριανοῦ, καὶ Τιβουρτίου.
Λουτροῦ φέρεις ἔκκαυσιν, ὦ Κικιλία,
Λούῃ δὲ λουτρὸν αἵματος διὰ ξίφους.
Βαλλεριανὸν καὶ συναθλητὴν ἅμα
Κτείνει ξίφος, βάλλοντας ὕβρεσι πλάνην.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Μάρκου, Στεφάνου, καὶ ἑτέρου Μάρκου.
Τμηθεὶς ξίφει Στέφανε σὺν Μάρκοις δύω,
Πολλοὺς σὺν αὐτοῖς τοὺς στεφάνους λαμβάνεις.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Προκοπίου τοῦ ἐν Παλαιστίνῃ.
Πρὸς τὴν τομὴν ὥρμησεν οἷα πρὸς πάλην,
Καὶ Προκόπιος θρέμμα τῆς Παλαιστίνης.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Μενίγνου τοῦ κναφέως.
Κάραν, κναφεῦ Μένιγνε, τμηθεὶς ἐκ ξίφους,
Κνάπτεις σεαυτόν, κἂν ῥύπους εἶχες, πλύνῃ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Ἀββᾶ.
Ἀββᾶν, τὸν ἐκτύπωμα ὄντα Ἀββάδων,
Τιμῶ πρεπόντως, ὡς τεκνίων Πατέρα.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ἅγιοι Χριστοφόρος καὶ Εὐφημία ξίφει τελειοῦνται.
Τὴν Εὐφημίαν σοι συνευφημεῖν ἔγνων,
Σοὶ συσφαγεῖσαν, χριστόφρον Χριστοφόρε.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ἅγιοι Θαλλέλαιος καὶ Ἄνθιμος ξίφει τελειοῦνται.
Θαλλέλαιος Ἄνθιμος ἐκτετμημένοι,
Ἀειθαλῶς ἀνθοῦσιν ὡς θεῖα ξύλα.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ὅσιος Κάλλιστος ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Κάλλιστος ἐχθρὸν τὸν κάκιστον πτερνίσας,
Φίλος Θεῷ πρόσεισιν ἐκλελεγμένος.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Θαδδαῖος, ἐν τροχῷ δεθείς, καὶ κατὰ πρανοὺς ἀφεθείς, τελειοῦται.
Κατὰ πρανοῦς Θαδδαῖον ὁ τροχὸς στρέφει·
Φωνὴ δὲ βροντῆς ἐν τροχῷ, ψαλμὸς λέγει.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Ἀγαπίωνος, Σισινίου Ἱερομάρτυρος, καὶ Ἀγαπίου.
Ἀπῆλθε, θηρσὶ μὴ βλαβεὶς Ἀγαπίων.
Τοῦτον γὰρ ἠγάπησε καὶ θηρῶν φύσις
Εἶχες θύτην με νῦν δέ, καὶ θῦμα ξένον,
Ἔχεις με Σισίνιον, ἐκ ξίφους Λόγε.
Ὑπὲρ Θεοῦ, ταθέντος ἐν τῷ Κρανίῳ,
Ξίφει σὸν Ἀγάπιε τείνεις κρανίον.
Ταῖς τῶν σῶν ἁγίων πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεὸς ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Philemon, who was from Colossae, a city of Phrygia, was a man both wealthy and noble; Apphia was his wife. Archippos became Bishop of the Church in Colossae. All three were disciples of the Apostle Paul. Onesimos, who was formerly an unbeliever and slave of Philemon, stole certain of his vessels and fled to Rome. However, on finding him there, the Apostle Paul guided him onto the path of virtue and the knowledge of the truth, and sent him back to his master Philemon, to whom he wrote an epistle (this is one of the fourteen epistles of Saint Paul). In this epistle, Paul commended Onesimos to his master and reconciled the two. Onesimos was later made a bishop; in Greece he is honoured as the patron Saint of the imprisoned. All these Saints received their end by martyrdom, when they were stoned to death by the idolaters. Saint Onesimos is also commemorated on February 15.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Απόστολοι Άγιοι, πρεσβεύσατε τώ ελεήμονι Θεώ ίνα πταισμάτων άφεσιν, παράσχη ταίς ψυχάς ημών.
O Holy Apostles, intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offenses.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Ως Εκκλησίας θεμέλιοι κάι λαμπτήρες, καί τού Σωτήρος Απόστολοι θεηγόροι, Φιλήμον Απφία καί Ονήσιμε, καί σύν Αρχίππω άμα, υπέρ ημών πρεσβεύσατε, τώ Λόγω σοφοί ιεροκήρυκες.
We praise Christ's Apostles as bright stars illumining the ends of the world, glorious Philemon, Onesimos, Archippus, and with them, wise Apphia, crying: Pray unceasingly in behalf of us all.
Saint Cecilia was of an illustrious Roman family. On being betrothed to Valerian, she drew him to the Faith of Christ, and he in turn drew his own brother Tiburtius to the same. They contested in martyrdom during the reign of Diocletian, in the year 288.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Τήν νυμφευθείσαν, τώ Χριστώ εκουσίως, καί στολισθείσαν, αρεταίς τήν καρδίαν, θεοπρεπώς υμνήσωμεν Πιστών η πληθύς, αύτη γάρ κατήσχυνεν, Αλμακίου τό θράσος, λάμψασα ως ήλιος, μέσον τών εκζητούντων, καί μετά ταύτα ώφθη τοίς εν γή, στήριγμα θείον, τήν πίστιν κρατύνασα.
In godly wise let us, the hosts of the faithful, sing hymns to her wedded to Christ of her own will, Cecilia, whose pure heart with virtues was adorned; for she wholly put to shame the conceit of Almacius, and she shone bright as the sun amidst them that pursued her and then appeared to those upon the earth as a divine staff that strengthened the holy Faith.
"Άγγελον ειρήνης, πιστόν οδηγόν, φύλακα των ψυχών και των σωμάτων ημών παρά του Κυρίου αιτησώμεθα". Έτσι δέεται η Εκκλησία, γιατί είναι πίστη πως ένας άγιος Άγγελος του Θεού φυλάγει και παραστέκει κάθε πιστό. Αυτή την πίστη την βλέπομε αισθητή πραγματικότητα στη ζωή της αγίας παρθενομάρτυρος Καικιλίας, που είναι από τα αγνότερα και ευωδέστερα θύματα της πίστεως και της οποίας η Εκκλησία σήμερα γιορτάζει την μνήμη. Έβλεπεν η αγία του Θεού τον φύλακα Άγγελό της, που την προστάτευε και την ωδηγούσε στον βίο της. Η παρουσία του αγίου Αγγέλου την ετήρησε μέχρι τέλους αγνή για να γίνη προσφορά και θυσία στον ουράνιο νυμφίο της λογική και ευάρεστη. Μας δίνει μεγάλη ηθική δύναμη στους πειρασμούς και στους κινδύνους του κόσμου να επαναλαμβάνωμε την προσευχή: "Άγιε Άγγελε ... μη εγκαταλίπης με τον αμαρτωλόν, μηδέ αποστής απ' εμού...".
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Φιλήμων ὁ Ἀπόστολος, Ἄρχιππος, Ὀνήσιμος καὶ Ἀπφία
Καὶ γιὰ τοὺς τέσσερις Ἁγίους ἀναφέρει ὁ Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος στὴν πρὸς Φιλήμονα ἐπιστολή του. Ὁ Φιλήμων καὶ ἡ σύζυγός του Ἀπφία ἦταν χριστιανοὶ στὴν πόλη τῶν Κολοσσῶν, μὲ ἀνεπτυγμένο αἴσθημα φιλανθρωπίας. Χρησιμοποιοῦσαν δὲ τὰ πλούτη τους μὲ προθυμία γιὰ τὴν ἀνακούφιση φτωχῶν, ἀσθενῶν καὶ γιὰ τὴν ἀνάπτυξη τοῦ ἔργου τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Στὸ χριστιανισμὸ προσῆλθαν διὰ τοῦ Ἀποστόλου Παύλου, ὅταν αὐτὸς εἶχε ἔλθει στὴν πόλη τους. Μάλιστα, γιὰ τὶς ἀγαθοεργίες τοῦ Φιλήμονα γράφει συγκεκριμένα: «Χάριν ἔχομεν πολλὴν καὶ παράκλησιν ἐπὶ τὴν ἀγάπη σου ὅτι τὰ σπλάγχνα τῶν ἁγίων ἀναπέπαυται διὰ σοῦ, ἀδελφέ». Δηλαδή, ἔχουμε πολλὴ χαρὰ καὶ παρηγοριὰ γιὰ τὴν ἀγάπη σου, διότι οἱ καρδιὲς τῶν ἀδελφῶν χριστιανῶν ἔχουν βρεῖ ἀνάπαυση μὲ τὶς εὐεργεσίες καὶ ἀγαθοεργίες σου, ἀδελφέ. Γιὰ τὸν Ἄρχιππο λέγεται ὅτι ἦταν συγγενής, ἴσως καὶ γιὸς τοῦ Φιλήμονα καὶ τῆς Ἀπφίας. Ὁ Παῦλος, ἐπειδὴ ὁ Ἄρχιππος εἶχε μεγάλη ἀφοσίωση στὴ διάδοση τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου, στὴν πρὸς Φιλήμονα ἐπιστολή του τὸν ὀνομάζει στρατιώτη. Ὁ Ὀνήσιμος ἦταν ὑπηρέτης τοῦ Φιλήμονα, ἀπὸ τὸν ὁποῖο ἀπέδρασε καὶ πῆγε στὴ Ῥώμη. Ἐκεῖ ἔπεσε στὰ δίχτυα τοῦ Ἀποστόλου Παύλου, ποὺ τὸν ἔστειλε πίσω στὸ Φιλήμονα, χριστιανὸ πλέον. Καὶ παρακαλεῖ τὸν Φιλήμονα νὰ δεχθεῖ τὸν Ὀνήσιμο, ὄχι σὰν ὑπηρέτη, ἀλλὰ σὰν ἀδελφό. Κατὰ τὴν παράδοση, ὅλοι μαρτύρησαν γιὰ τὴν διάδοση τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Κικιλία, Βαλεριανός καὶ Τιβούρτιος
Ἔζησαν τὸν 3ο αἰῶνα μετὰ Χριστόν. Οἱ γονεῖς τῆς Κικιλίας ἦταν εἰδωλολάτρες, ἀπὸ τοὺς πιὸ εὐγενεῖς καὶ ἐπισήμους. Ἀλλ᾿ ἡ κόρη τους ἄκουσε τὴν διδασκαλία τοῦ Χριστοῦ, τὴν ἀγάπησε καὶ βαπτίστηκε. Μετὰ ἀπὸ λίγο τὴν πάντρεψαν μὲ τὸν Βαλεριανό, νέο με εὐγενικὰ αἰσθήματα ποὺ μὲ τὴν ἐπίδραση τῆς ἐκλεκτῆς συζύγου, ἀσπάσθηκε καὶ αὐτὸς τὴ χριστιανικὴ θρησκεία. Κατόπιν μάλιστα, καὶ οἱ δυὸ μαζί, ἔφεραν στὸ χριστιανισμὸ καὶ τὸν ἀδελφὸ τοῦ Βαλεριανοῦ Τιβούρτιο. Κατὰ τὸν διωγμὸ ἐναντίον τῶν χριστιανῶν ἐπὶ Διοκλητιανοῦ, ἀπειράριθμοι ὑπῆρξαν αὐτοὶ ποὺ ἀκολούθησαν τὸ δρόμο τοῦ μαρτυρίου. Ἔτσι καὶ ἡ Κικιλία, ὁ Βαλεριανὸς καὶ ὁ Τιβούρτιος δὲν φρόντισαν νὰ κρυφτοῦν. Φανερὰ παρηγοροῦσαν τὶς χῆρες καὶ συντηροῦσαν τὰ ὀρφανὰ τῶν μαρτύρων, ἀκόμα καὶ περισυνέλεγαν τὰ λείψανά τους καὶ τὰ ἔθαβαν μὲ εὐλάβεια. Ὅταν τοὺς ἔπιασαν γιὰ τὸ ἔργο ποὺ ἔκαναν, ὁμολόγησαν μὲ θάῤῥος τὴν πίστη τους καὶ θανατώθηκαν μὲ ἀποκεφαλισμό. Ἡ ἐκκλησία τῆς Ῥώμης θρήνησε τὴν μεγάλη ἀπώλεια, καὶ ἔθαψε τὰ λείψανά τους μὲ μεγάλη εὐλάβεια.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Μάξιμος ὁ Καπιτουλάριος
Ἦταν δεσμοφύλακας κάποιας φυλακῆς τῆς Ῥώμης, πίστεψε στὸν Χριστὸ διὰ τῶν Ἅγιων Βαλεριανοῦ καὶ Κικιλίας (βλέπε πιὸ πάνω), ὁμολόγησε τὴν πίστη του καὶ ὑπέστη μαρτυρικὸ θάνατο (αἰκισθεὶς τελειοῦται).
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Μᾶρκος, Στέφανος καὶ Μᾶρκος
Μαρτύρησαν στὰ χρόνια τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Διοκλητιανοῦ καὶ ἡγεμόνα Μάγου τὸ ἔτος 290 μ.Χ. Κατάγονταν ἀπὸ τὴν Ἀντιόχεια τῆς Πισιδίας καὶ ἐπειδὴ ὁμολόγησαν τὸν Χριστὸ σὰν ἀληθινὸ Θεό, ἀποκεφαλίστηκαν.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Προκόπιος ὁ Παλαιστίνιος
Ὑπῆρξε ἀσκητὴς διάσημος, ἀλλὰ καὶ πολυμαθὴς θεολόγος καὶ φιλόσοφος. Ἐγκαταστάθηκε στὴ Σκυθόπολη τῆς Παλαιστίνης καὶ ἐπιτελοῦσε τὰ καθήκοντα τοῦ ἀναγνώστη καὶ κήρυκα. Καταγγέλθηκε ὅμως ὅτι εἵλκυε πλήθη εἰδωλολατρῶν στὴ Χριστιανικὴ θρησκεία, συνελήφθη καὶ ὁδηγήθηκε δέσμιος στὴν Καισαρεία τῆς Παλαιστίνης. Ἐκεῖ προσπάθησαν νὰ τὸν πείσουν ὅτι ἡ ἀλήθεια βρίσκεται στὸ πολυθεϊκὸ θρήσκευμα. Ἐκεῖνος, ἀνατρέποντας τὰ ἐπιχειρήματα τῶν ἀντιπάλων του, παρέθεσε μεταξὺ ἄλλων καὶ τὴν Ὁμηρικὴ φράση: «Οὐκ ἀγαθὸν πολυκοιρανίη, εἷς κοίρανος ἔστω». Ἐπιμένοντας ἔτσι στὴν ἀληθινὴ πίστη του, καταδικάστηκε σὲ θάνατο διὰ ξίφους.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Μένιγνος ὁ κναφέας
Μαρτύρησε στὰ χρόνια τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Δεκίου (251) καὶ γεννήθηκε στὴν πόλη Πάριο τῆς Κολωνίας στὸν Ἑλλήσποντο, μεταξὺ Κυζίκου καὶ Λαμψάκου. Ὅταν σηκώθηκε ὁ διωγμός, ὁ Μένιγνος, ἀψηφῶντας τὶς σκληρὲς τιμωρίες, ὁμολόγησε στὴ μέση της ἀγορᾶς τὸν Ἰησοῦ καὶ προέτρεψε τοὺς χριστιανοὺς νὰ σταθοῦν ἰσχυροὶ ἀπέναντι τῶν ἀσεβῶν αὐτοκρατορικῶν διαταγμάτων καὶ νὰ μείνουν ἀσάλευτοι στὴ χριστιανικὴ πίστη. Συνελήφθη καὶ ἐπειδὴ δὲν θέλησε νὰ προσκυνήσει τὰ εἴδωλα, ὁδηγήθηκε στὸν τόπο τοῦ ἀποκεφαλισμοῦ. Ὅταν τὸ πληροφορήθηκε ἡ σύζυγός του ἔτρεξε κοντά του καὶ τὸν παρακολουθοῦσε κλαίγοντας. Ἐκεῖνος, παρηγορώντας την, τῆς ἔλεγε ὅτι ὁ θάνατός του θὰ ἐξασφάλιζε τὴν παντοτινή τους ἕνωση. Διότι, μόνο ὅσοι μένουν μὲ τὸν Θεὸ ἑνωμένοι, δὲν εἶναι δυνατὸ νὰ χωριστοῦν ποτέ. Μετὰ ἀπὸ λίγο τὸ κεφάλι του ἔπεφτε καὶ τάφηκε ἐκεῖ στὸν τόπο τοῦ μαρτυρίου του.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Ἄββας
Αὐτὸς προηγουμένως ἦταν Ἀγαρηνὸς καὶ πίστεψε στὸν Χριστὸ μέσῳ ἑνὸς μοναχοῦ, γιὰ νὰ γίνει στὴ συνέχεια καὶ ὁ ἴδιος μοναχός. Μὲ τὴν συνοδεία τοῦ μοναχοῦ λοιπόν, ποὺ τὸν ἔκανε χριστιανό, πῆγε στὸν μεγάλο ἀσκητὴ Εὐσέβειο (15 Φεβρουαρίου), ποὺ ἀσκήτευε πάνω σ᾿ ἕνα βουνὸ κοντὰ στὸ χωριὸ Ἄσιχα καὶ ἔμεινε κοντά του. Μετὰ τὸν θάνατο τοῦ Εὐσεβείου, ὁ Ἄββας τὸν διαδέχτηκε στὴν ἐπιστασία τῆς δημιουργηθείσας Μονῆς καὶ ὑπῆρξε τύπος αὐστηροῦ ἀσκητῆ στοὺς ὑφισταμένους του. Ἔζησε μὲ μεγάλη σκληραγωγία, πολλὴ ἐγκράτεια καὶ ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Κάλλιστος ὁ Β´, Πατριάρχης Κωνσταντινουπόλεως
Ἀνέβηκε στὸν πατριαρχικὸ θρόνο τὸ ἔτος 1397. Διακρίθηκε γιὰ τὴν ζωντανὴ εὐσέβεια καὶ φιλανθρωπία του. Ἄφησε ὅμως τὴν πατριαρχεία, ἐπειδὴ τὰ χρόνια ἐκεῖνα ἦταν πολὺ ταραγμένα καὶ ἀποσύρθηκε σὲ Μονή, ὅπου καὶ ἀσκητεύοντας ἀπεβίωσε.
Holy Apostle Philemon and Sts Apphia, Archippus and Onesimus
Philemon is addressed in the Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul that bears his name. He was a nobleman from Colossae; Apphia was his wife. Archippus was Bishop of Colossae. All three were disciples of the Apostle Paul. Onesimus was a pagan slave of Philemon, who stole from his master and fled to Rome. There St Paul led him to faith in Christ, and wrote the Epistle to Philemon, urging Onesimus' master to forgive him and take him back as a brother in Christ. This Philemon did, and Onesimus later became a bishop. In Greece he is venerated as the patron Saint of the imprisoned. All of these holy followers of Christ died as martyrs, stoned to death by pagans.
Holy Martyrs Cecilia, Valerian, Tiburtius and Maximus, at Rome (3rd c.)
Saint Cecilia was born to a prominent pagan family in Rome. In her youth she secretly became a disciple of Christ. When her parents betrothed her to a young man named Valerian, she brought him to faith in Christ and persuaded him that they should live in virginity. Valerian was baptised by Pope Urban, and in his turn went on to bring his brother Tiburtius to the Faith.
At the time, Christians in Rome were being violently persecuted, many to the point of martyrdom; Cecilia, her husband, and his brother made it their work to go out by night and secretly give pious burial to the martyrs and give charitable help to their families. Eventually, this was discovered, and the two brothers were in their own turn arrested and condemned as Christians. At the moment of their beheading, the Roman officer Maximus saw heaven open and angels come to receive their souls; he, along with several other onlookers, confessed Christ, and in his turn died under torture. Finally, Cecilia herself was arrested and, after faithfully enduring various tortures, was beheaded.
Because St Cecilia is described in her first biography as a lover of music, she is honored as patroness of church music in the West, and is often shown playing the organ.
Holy Prince and Passion-Bearer Peter Yaropolk (1086)
"Saint Peter Yaropolk, the son of Grand Prince Iziaslav Yaroslavovich, took part in all his father's campaigns as an obedient son, and went with him into exile. The meek and humble Prince had much to suffer from the members of his family, but he always forgave them. Every day he earnestly prayed to be counted worthy of holy death, like Saints Boris and Gleb (24 July), in order to be cleansed of his many sins by the shedding of his blood and to be freed from the vanity of this world. He was assasinated on 21 November 1086." (Synaxarion)
The term 'Passion-bearer' is used in the Russian Church for Saints who, though they were not killed for their faith and are thus not strictly Martyrs, suffered death with resignation and in the spirit of the Gospel. Saints Boris and Gleb are the first and model Passion-bearers.
Holy Grand Prince and Martyr Michael of Tver (1318)
He was born in Tver in 1272 to Prince Yaroslav Yaroslavovich, who was the brother of St Alexander Nevsky (November 23). Michael was brought up in the faith by his mother, who later became a nun. Such was his fervor that from childhood he was certain that he must end his life either as a monk or a martyr. He succeeded his brother as Prince of Tver in 1285, and later became Grand Prince of Vladimir, the Russian capital during the Mongol conquest.
When Prince Michael lost the throne of Vladimir through the plotting of his kinsman Prince George, his advisers urged him to go to war against George; but he preferred to lose power rather than to subject his people to bloodshed. When George attacked Tver itself, Michael took up arms to defend it, and was victorious. One of his prisoners was Princess Agatha, George's wife and the sister of the Tatar Khan. When she died in captivity, the full wrath of both George and the Tatars was aroused against Michael. The Prince knew that the only way to avert catastrophe for his people was to go to the Golden Horde to be judged at the Khan's court. Michael's kinsmen and advisors knew that such a course would surely lead to his death, but none were able to dissuade him from going to save his people.
Michael was kept prisoner with a wooden yoke around his neck, and subjected to many humiliations by the Tatars. But as he awaited his sentence he remained calm, spending his days in chanting the Church services and the Psalms. On the night of 21-22 November he had a revelation of his impending death. He attended the Liturgy, took Communion, and embraced his family. Then, opening the Psalter, he read the words Cast thy burden on the Lord, and He will sustain thee: He will never permit the righteous to be moved (Ps 54). He then calmly greeted his kinsman George and his minions, who pounced on the Prince and ran him through with swords. Prince Michael's relics were returned to Moscow, then translated to Tver in 1320. When the city was besieged in 1549, St Michael appeared to the inhabitants in the form of a mounted knight, armed for battle.
The Holy Disciple Philemon and his spouse Apphia lived in the city of Colossa in Phrygia. Upon receiving Baptism from the holy Apostle Paul, they converted their house into an house of prayer, where all the Colossian believers in Christ gathered together and made Divine services. They devoted themselves to the service of the sick and downcast. The Disciple Philemon was made bishop of the city of Gaza and he preached the Word of God throughout all Phrygia. The holy Apostle Paul did not cease being his guide, and directed to him his Epistle filled with love, and in which he sends blessings "to Philemon our friend and co-worker, and Apphia our beloved sister, and Archippos our co-striver, and their household the church" (Phil. 1: 1-3). Onysimos, about whom it speaks in the Epistle, -- a Disciple from among the Seventy -- was a former servant of Philemon. During the persecution of Nero (54-68) Saints Philemon and Apphia, and likewise the holy Disciple Archippos (who also lived at Colossa), all received the crown of martyrdom. During the time of a pagan feast an enraged crowd rushed into the Christian church when Divine-services were being made. All fled in terror, and only Saints Philemon, Archippos and Apphia remained. They seized hold of them and led them off to the city governor. The crowd like beasts beat up and stabbed at Saint Archippos with knives, and on the way to the court he died. Saints Philemon and Apphia were stoned to death by order of the governor.
The memory of the holy Disciples Philemon and Archippos and Equal-to-the-Apostles Apphia is celebrated also on 19 February.
Holy Nobleborn Prince Michael of Tver was born in the year 1272, already after the death of his father Greatprince Yaroslav Yaroslavich, -- a brother by birth of holy Nobleborn Prince Alexander Nevsky (Comm. 23 November). On the journey to the Horde prince Yaroslav had fallen ill, and having taken monastic vows with the name Athanasii (Afanasii), he died. Michael's mother, Xenia (Ksenia), raised her son in fervent love towards God. Michael was educated and studied under the guidance of the Novgorod archbishop (probably Kliment). He took the place of his older brother Svyatoslav in the Tver principality. In 1285 he built a stone church in honour of the Saviour's Transfiguration in place of the wooden church of Saints Cosmas and Damian. Upon the death of Greatprince Andrei Alexandrovich (+ 1305), Michael -- through right of seniority, received at the Horde the yarlyk-grant to the greatprincely throne. But the Moscow prince Yurii Danilovich would not submit to this, since he sought the greatprincely rule for himself. He was often at the Golden Horde of the new khan Uzbek, who had accepted Mahometanism and was distinguished by his cruelty and fanaticism. Prince Yurii knew how to please the khan, and he married his sister Konchaka and became greatprince. And even with this he did not quiet down, but instead began an internecine war with Tver. In the army of Yurii was also a detachment of Tatars sent by Uzbek, with Kavgadi at the head. But the men of Tver, with holy Prince Michael at the head, on 22 December 1317 defeated Yurii in a route. Many captives were taken, in which number were Kavgadi -- whom Saint Michael released, and the Moscow prince's wife Konchaka, who unexpectedly died at Tver. Prince Yurii slandered Saint Michael afront the khan, accusing him of poisoning Konchaka. The khan became enraged, threatening to destroy the princely votchina-holding of Saint Michael, and demanded that he appear to render an answering. Not wishing to spill Russian blood in an unequal struggle with the khan, Saint Michael humbly set out to the Horde, realising that this meant death for him. He took his farewell from his family and from the Tver people, and received blessing for his exploit of martyrdom from his spiritual father hegumen John. "Father, -- said the saint, -- I was much concerned about the peace of Christians, but through my sins, I was not able to stop internecine war. Now give me blessing, if it should hold having my blood spilled for them, that they might have some respite, and that for me the Lord forgive my sins".
At the Horde an unjust trial was held over the saint, which pronounced him guilty in disobedience to the khan and sentenced him to death. They removed him under guard and put him in an heavy wooden stock. As was his habit, in prison Saint Michael constantly read the Psalter and blessed the Lord for granting him to suffer. He asked not to be abandoned in his present torments. Since the hands of the holy sufferer were secured in the stock, a boy sat before him and turned the pages of the Psalter. The holy prince-captive long languished at the Horde, enduring beatings and ridicule. They suggested that he flee, but the saint bravely answered: "In all my life I never fled an enemy, and if in saving myself my people remained in peril, what glory is it to me? No, let it be as the Lord doth will". Through the mercy of God, he was not deprived of Christian solace: Orthodox priests attended to him, -- the hegumens Aleksandr and Mark, and he each week made confession and communed the Holy Mysteries of Christ, receiving before his death a Christian preparation. At the instigation of prince Yurii and Kavgadi, who took revenge on the holy prince for their defeat, assassins rushed into the encampment where the captive was held. They fiercely beat the martyr and kicked at him with their feet, after which one of them stabbed Saint Michael with a knife (+ 1318).
The stripped body of the holy martyr was exposed for abuse, and later they covered him with a cloth and placed him on a large board, attached to a cart. By night two guards were set to watch the body, but fear seized them and they fled. In the morning his body was not on the board. On the previous night many, not only Orthodox by also Tatars, had seen how two radiant clouds did shine over the place where lay the body of the martyr, and although many wild animals roamed the steppes, not one of them had touched him. In the morning everyone said: "Prince Michael is a saint, and innocently murdered". From the Horde the body of the prince was transferred to Moscow, where they buried him in the church of the Saviour-Wood in the Kremlin. It was only a year later in 1319 that at Tver they learned about the fate of their prince. At the wish of his spouse, Princess Anna (Comm. 2 October), and at the request of the Tver people, the relics of Saint Michael of Tver were transferred to his native city and on 6 September 1320 were placed in the church built by him in honour of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Local festal celebration of the holy nobleborn prince began soon after the transfer of his relics to Tver, and at a 1549 Sobor (Council) there took place the general Church glorification of the saint. On 24 November 1632 the undecayed relics of Saint Michael were uncovered. The holy prince has often rendered graced help to the Russian land. In 1606 the Polish and Lithuanians besieging Tver saw repeatedly, how from the city there rode out a wondrous horseman upon a white horse with sword in hand, turning them to flight. Later viewing an icon of holy nobleborn Prince Michael, they affirmed with an oath to the Tver archbishop Theoktist, that the horseman was indeed Saint Michael himself.
Holy Nobleborn Prince Yaropolk Izyaslavich, in Holy Baptism Peter, was the grandson of Yaroslav the Wise, and great-grandson of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir. He shared the sad fate of his father, the Kievan Greatprince Izyaslav, expelled by his brothers from Kiev. Yaropolk journeyed on various missions for his father to the Polish king, the German emperor, and the Roman Bishop Saint Gregory VII (1073-1085). Upon the death of Greatprince Svyatoslav in 1078, prince Izyaslav was restored to the greatprincely throne, and Yaropolk received Vyzhgorod. After the death of his father there was given him the appanage-holding the city of Vladimir-Volynsk, from whence the Rostislavichi attempted to displace him. On the way from Vladimir to Zvenigorod-Galitsk, Yaropolk was treacherously murdered by Neryadets, one of his retainers (+ 1086). The murderer indeed had been bribed by the Rostislavichi. The body of Yaropolk was transferred to Kiev and on 5 December was buried in the church of Saint Peter, which he himself had begun to build. Many Church memorials, beginning with the Chronicle of the Monk Nestor, testify, that the murdered nobleborn prince Yaropolk be venerated in the rank of Saints well-pleasing to God.
The Holy Martyress Cecelia (Cesilia) and the Holy Martyrs Valerian, Tiburtius and Maximus: The holy Martyress Cecelia was a Roman of rich and noted lineage. From her youth she was raised in the Christian faith and she prayed fervently, she helped those in need, and beneathe her fine clothing she wore an hairshirt. Her parents decided to give her in marriage to the illustrious pagan Valerian. The saint did not dare oppose the will of her parents, but with tears she prayed to God, that her betrothed would believe in Christ, and that she would preserve her virginity. The saint persuaded her fiance to go with her to bishop Urban, hiding away from the persecution in a cave along the Appian Way. The instructions of the wise elder permeated the soul of Valerian, and both he and his brother Tiburtius believed in Christ and were converted to Christianity. The brothers distributed part of their inheritance to the poor, cared for the sick, and buried Christians tortured to death by the persecutors.
The governor Ammachus, having learned of this, gave orders to arrest the brothers and bring them to trial. He demanded that the saints renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. The brothers refused. Then they mercilessly began to scourge the brothers. Saint Valerian under torture urged Christians not to be afraid of torments, but rather stand firm for Christ.
The governor, wanting to prevent the holy preacher from influencing the people, gave orders to take the martyrs beyond the city limits and there execute them. The detachment of soldiers accompanying the martyrs to execution was commanded by Maximus. He was amazed at the courage of the saints. He asked them why they did not fear death. The holy brothers answered, that they were relinquishing temporal life for life eternal. Maximus wanted to learn in detail the teaching of Christians. He took Saints Valerian and Tiburtius to his own house and all night engaged them in conversation. Having learned of this, Saint Cecelia went with a priest to Maximus, and he with all his family accepted holy Baptism.
On the following day when they beheaded the Martyrs Valerian and Tiburtius, Saint Maximus confessed before everyone that he saw how their holy souls had gone up to Heaven. For this confession the holy Martyr Maximus was scourged to death with whips (+ 230).
The governor wanted to confiscate the property of the executed, but having learned that Saint Cecelia had already distributed all her remaining wealth to the poor and by her preaching had converted 400 men, he gave orders to execute her. For three days they tormented her with fire and smoke in a red-hot bath-house, but the grace of God succoured her. Then they decided to behead her. The executioner struck the saint with a sword, but only wounded her. The holy martyress suffered yet three more days in full consciousness, encouraging in the faith those around her, and died with prayer on her lips.
The Holy Martyr Prokopios was a reader in the Jerusalem Church. He led a strict ascetic life, for which he acquired from the Lord the gift to cast out demons. The zealous preacher of the Word of God was arrested and brought to trial in Palestinian Caesarea. For his refusal to offer sacrifice to idols, he was beheaded.
The Holy Martyr Menignos was a simple artisan, occupied in the making of linen. The Lord granted him His especial mercy. Twice in his life he heard a voice from Heaven, calling on him to suffer for Christ. During the time of the persecution of Christians under the emperor Decius (249-251) there occurred a miracle: an Angel led Christians out of prison. Having learned of this, Saint Menignos rejoiced and loved the Saviour with all his heart. Calling to mind the Heavenly summons to suffer for Christ, he therewith destroyed the decree of the impious Decius which hung in the city square, and which ordered the persecution of Christians. The saint declared himself a follower of Christ. For this he was arrested and after fierce tortures he was beheaded (+ 250). From the mouth of the martyr flew out a snow-white dove.
The Monk Hagabba was by birth an Ishmaelite (Arab) and pursued asceticism in Syria. He was a novice under the Monk Eusebios, from whom he learned inner prayer and silence, and he lived 38 years as an hermit. The saint always went barefoot, wore chains on his loins and never sat nor lay down. The Monk Hagabba spent both day and night standing or kneeling, constantly at prayer. His ascetic life finished with a peaceful end.
Holy Michael the Warrior, among the first Christians of Bulgaria, lived in the city of Potok during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Michael III P'yanos ("the Fat") (855-867). He was descended from an old Bulgarian line. While still an infant they had called him a "saintly child". From his youth he led an immaculate life, possessed the fear of God, fasted, generously distributed alms to the poor and visited the sick, and was meek and humble. At 24 years of age Saint Michael was made head of a troop of soldiers. The Turks were warring against Christians. Saint Michael inspired all his troop by his bravery in battle. When the allies of the Bulgarians, the Greeks, fled from the field of battle, he fell to the earth and prayed with tears for the saving of Christians. Then he led his own soldiers against the enemy. Rushing at the centre of the enemy formation, he put it into disarray and himself remained unharmed.
Returning homewards after the war, he rescued the inhabitants of a certain city in the Raipha wilderness from an huge snake, which emerged from a lake and attacked children. Having returned home, Saint Michael some days later gave up his spirit to the Lord, Whom he had loved since his youth. He wrought many miracles after death, granting healing to those recoursing to him with reverence.
The transfer of the relics of the saint from Potok to Tyrnovo occurred in the year 1206, and at the beginning of the XIX they were transferred to Valakhia.
Sainted Kallistos II, known under the name Kallistos Xanthopoulos, pursued asceticism at the Xanthopulos monastery on Holy Mount Athos (apparently, in the monastery of the Pantokrator). In 1397 he was elevated to the patriarchal throne and was hierarch during the days of Manuel Paleologos (1391-1425). Resigning the guidance of the Constantinople Church, he withdrew into solitude. Together with his fellow ascetic Ignatios of Xanthopulos he compiled the Hundred Chapters located in the second part of the Slavonic edition of the "Dobrotoliubie" ("Philokalia"). As asserted by their contemporary, Sainted Simeon of Soluneia-Thessalonika, Saints Kallistos and Ignatios of Xanthopulos witnessed the Divine Radiance, as had the apostles on Mount Tabor. Their faces seemed "shining like the sun".
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. The Holy Martyr Cecilia
Cecilia was born in Rome of wealthy and eminent parents. She had great faith in Christ the Lord and a great zeal for the Faith. Vowing life-long virginity to God, St. Cecilia wore a coarse hair shirt beneath the costly raiment that her parents gave her. When her parents coerced her into marriage with Valerian, a pagan, Cecilia counseled her bridegroom on their wedding night to go to Bishop Urban to be baptized, and then live in chastity. Accepting the Christian Faith, Valerian also converted his brother Tiburtius. Soon after, both brothers were condemned to death for their faith. But their faithfulness did not falter, even in the face of death. Led to the place of execution, these wonderful brothers also succeeded in converting the captain of the guard, Maximus, to the Faith. Then all three suffered together for Christ the Lord. St. Cecilia buried their bodies together. Cecilia was then brought to trial, for she tirelessly won pagans over to the Christian Faith. In only one evening, she won over four hundred souls. When the judge asked her from whence such boldness came, she answered: ``From a pure conscience and undoubting faith.'' After cruel torture, Cecilia was condemned to beheading. The executioner struck her three times on the neck with the sword, but he was unable to kill her. She was only wounded, and blood flowed from her wounds, which the faithful collected in handkerchiefs, sponges and bowls for the sake of healing. Three days after this, the martyr and virgin of Christ gave her soul to her Lord, with Whom she eternally rejoices. St. Cecilia suffered with the others in about the year 230. Her relics lie in Rome, in the church dedicated to her. In the Western Church, St. Cecilia is regarded as the patroness of church singing and music.
2. Saint Callistus, Patriarch of Constantinople
Callistus is called ``Xanthopoulos'' after the cell of that name on Mount Athos, where he lived for a long time in asceticism with his companion, Ignatius. With this same Ignatius, St. Callistus wrote in one hundred chapters of his personal experience of a life of stillness. This work occupies a very prominent place in ascetical literature. Callistus was greatly influenced by his teacher, St. Gregory of Sinai, and wrote his Life. Having become Patriarch of Constantinople, St. Callistus became ill and reposed while on a journey to Serbia. Before he undertook his journey this was prophesied to him by St. Maximus of Kapsokalyvia of the Holy Mountain.
3. The Holy Martyr Menignus
Menignus was born on the Hellespont. He worked as a linen-bleacher, for which he was called ``the Fuller.'' At the time of Emperor Decius, he tore up the imperial decree declaring a persecution of Christians. For this, he was thrown into prison, where the Lord Himself appeared to him and encouraged him, saying: ``Be not afraid, I am with thee.'' At that moment his chains melted like wax, the prison opened of itself, and he went out. He was arrested again and tried. They tortured him inhumanly, severing his fingers and toes and beheading him. At night, his severed head glowed like a lamp.
4. The Holy Righteous Michael the Soldier
Michael was a Bulgarian by birth. With his companions, he fought in the Greek army against the Hagarenes and Ethiopians, where he displayed marvelous fearlessness. He killed a terrible serpent and freed a maiden. Soon afterward, this righteous man took up his abode in eternal life. He lived and reposed in the ninth century. He was first buried somewhere in Thrace, but Emperor Kalo-John translated his relics to Trnovo in 1206.
5. The Holy Apostles Philemon and Archippus, and the Holy Martyr Apphia (See February 19)
HYMN OF PRAISE
The Holy Martyr Cecilia
Cecilia-strong in faith, rich in faith-
Her faith is more beautiful than the stars, more precious than gold.
She nailed herself to the Lord, as to the Cross,
And sacrificed youth, joy, marriage and honor for Christ!
The cruel demon could steal nothing from her;
And when only her body remained, she gave it to Christ.
For the love of Christ, she gave the whole world-
Even two worlds: her body and her pure soul.
Thus does the flame of faith burn, and the flame of love,
And by that flame, Cecilia glorified herself.
Every effort of learning is in vain without the effort of attaining purity of faith and life. The heavenly world is revealed not to the learned but to the pure. When St. Cecilia was led to the bridal chamber with her bridegroom Valerian on the first night, she said him: ``I want to tell you a mystery: standing here is an angel of God, the guardian of my virginity, whom you do not see. He stands ready to protect me, his handmaid, from assault. If you only touch me, he will kill you.'' Valerian begged Cecilia to show him the angel, so that he could see it, too. The virgin replied: ``You are a man who knows not the true God. You cannot see the angel of God until you cleanse yourself of the foulness of your unbelief.'' When Valerian was baptized, he saw the angel in great light and ineffable beauty. So, too, when Valerian's brother Tiburtius changed his life from impurity to purity in baptism, he saw holy angels and spoke with them. Maximus their fellow sufferer as well, when the two brothers were beheaded, vowed with a great oath before the executioners and the people, saying: ``I see angels of God shining like the sun, taking the souls of these martyrs from their bodies like beautiful virgins from the bridal chamber, and leading them to heaven with great glory.'' But that which he saw, none of the impure unbelievers were able to see.
Contemplate the wondrous creation of the world (Genesis 2):
1. How God planted a paradisal garden in Eden and placed man there;
2. How God made trees in Paradise, beautiful to look at and good for food;
3. How God brought all the animals before man and he named them.
on that which constitutes the unity of the faithful
… One Lord, one Faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:5-6).
Here is the all-important and extremely obvious reason for all Christians to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3) and be one body and one spirit (Ephesians 4:4). For the One Lord Jesus Christ is our Creator, Redeemer and Resurrector. There are not two true Christs, that there should be division among us. One and the same blood was shed upon the Cross for us all, just as one and the same mouth prayed for us all in Gethsemane. We have one Faith in the Holy Trinity, undivided and life-creating-the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one in Essence and three in Persons-the Unbegotten Father, the Begotten Son and the Spirit proceeding from the Father. We have one Baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This Baptism is by threefold immersion in water, for death to sin and the devil, and for the resurrection and life in Christ the Lord. One God and Father of all-the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, Who through Christ and because of Christ adopts us and gives us the right to say to Him, Our Father.
Do you see, my brethren, how strong are the bonds that unite us? Not even the stars themselves are bound by stronger bonds, nor the water to the earth, nor fire to the air. Do you see the overwhelming reasons that we have for unity? Everything else that, from the left hand, would urge us to division is inconsequential compared to these reasons, like a grain of sand compared to the high mountains. The devil cannot destroy our unity if we do not help him. The devil can never conquer us if we do not surrender ourselves to him.
O Lord Jesus, sweet and gracious, how firmly Thou hast bound us for eternal good! Keep us, we pray, in this bond.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.