FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Forefeast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
Juliana of Nicomedia & her 630 Companion Martyrs
Themistocles the Martyr of Myra
Saint Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow
Προεόρτια τῆς Χριστοῦ Γεννήσεως.
Τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Ἰουλιανῆς τῆς ἐν Νικομηδείᾳ καί Θεμιστοκλέους.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Second Letter to Timothy 4:9-22
TIMOTHY, my son, do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you; for he is very useful in serving me. Tychicos I have sent to Ephesos. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpos at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will requite him for his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense no one took my part; all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the message fully, that all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphoros. Erastos remained at Corinth; Trophimos I left ill at Miletos. Do your best to come before winter. Eubulos sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linos and Claudia and all the brethren.
The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.
Πρὸς Τιμόθεον β' 4:9-22
Τέκνον Τιμόθεε, σπούδασον ἐλθεῖν πρός με ταχέως· Δημᾶς γάρ με ἐγκατέλιπεν, ἀγαπήσας τὸν νῦν αἰῶνα, καὶ ἐπορεύθη εἰς Θεσσαλονίκην· Κρήσκης εἰς Γαλατίαν, Τίτος εἰς Δαλματίαν. Λουκᾶς ἐστὶν μόνος μετʼ ἐμοῦ. Μάρκον ἀναλαβὼν ἄγε μετὰ σεαυτοῦ· ἔστιν γάρ μοι εὔχρηστος εἰς διακονίαν. Τυχικὸν δὲ ἀπέστειλα εἰς Ἔφεσον. 13 Τὸν φελόνην ὃν ἀπέλιπον ἐν Τρῳάδι παρὰ Κάρπῳ, ἐρχόμενος φέρε, καὶ τὰ βιβλία, μάλιστα τὰς μεμβράνας. Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ χαλκεὺς πολλά μοι κακὰ ἐνεδείξατο· ἀποδῴη αὐτῷ ὁ κύριος κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ· ὃν καὶ σὺ φυλάσσου, λίαν γὰρ ἀνθέστηκεν τοῖς ἡμετέροις λόγοις. Ἐν τῇ πρώτῃ μου ἀπολογίᾳ οὐδείς μοι συμπαρεγένετο, ἀλλὰ πάντες με ἐγκατέλιπον· μὴ αὐτοῖς λογισθείη. Ὁ δὲ κύριός μοι παρέστη, καὶ ἐνεδυνάμωσέν με, ἵνα διʼ ἐμοῦ τὸ κήρυγμα πληροφορηθῇ, καὶ ἀκούσῃ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη· καὶ ἐρρύσθην ἐκ στόματος λέοντος. Καὶ ῥύσεταί με ὁ κύριος ἀπὸ παντὸς ἔργου πονηροῦ, καὶ σώσει εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτοῦ τὴν ἐπουράνιον· ᾧ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν. Ἄσπασαι Πρίσκαν καὶ Ἀκύλαν, καὶ τὸν Ὀνησιφόρου οἶκον. Ἔραστος ἔμεινεν ἐν Κορίνθῳ· Τρόφιμον δὲ ἀπέλιπον ἐν Μιλήτῳ ἀσθενοῦντα. Σπούδασον πρὸ χειμῶνος ἐλθεῖν. Ἀσπάζεταί σε Εὔβουλος, καὶ Πούδης, καὶ Λῖνος, καὶ Κλαυδία, καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ πάντες. Ὁ κύριος Ἰησοῦς χριστὸς μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματός σου. Ἡ χάρις μεθʼ ὑμῶν. Ἀμήν.
The Reading is from Mark 10:11-16
The Lord said, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.
Κατὰ Μᾶρκον 10.11-16
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος· Ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ καὶ γαμήσῃ ἄλλην, μοιχᾶται ἐπ᾿ αὐτήν· καὶ ἐὰν γυνὴ ἀπολύσασα τὸν ἄνδρα γαμηθῇ ἄλλῳ, μοιχᾶται. Καὶ προσέφερον αὐτῷ παιδία, ἵνα αὐτῶν ἅψηται· οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ ἐπετίμων τοῖς προσφέρουσιν. ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἠγανάκτησε καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ἄφετε τὰ παιδία ἔρχεσθαι πρός με, καὶ μὴ κωλύετε αὐτά· τῶν γὰρ τοιούτων ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ. ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὃς ἐὰν μὴ δέξηται τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ ὡς παιδίον, οὐ μὴ εἰσέλθῃ εἰς αὐτήν. καὶ ἐναγκαλισάμενος αὐτὰ κατηυλόγει τιθεὶς τὰς χεῖρας ἐπ᾿ αὐτά.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΚΑ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, μνήμη τῆς Ἁγίας μάρτυρος Ἰουλιανῆς.
Ἰουλιανῆς ἀγλάϊσμα τὸ ξίφος,
Ὡς προξενῆσαν ἀγλαὸν ταύτῃ στέφος.
Ἔκτανον εἰκάδι πρώτῃ Ἰουλιανὴν ἐρατεινήν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ ἅγιοι πεντακόσιοι Μάρτυρες, οἱ ἐν Νικομηδείᾳ διὰ τῆς Ἁγίας Ἰουλιανῆς πιστεύσαντες, ξίφει τελειοῦνται.
Πεντακοσίους εἶδεν ἐκτετμημένους,
Ἡ Νικομήδους Μάρτυρας νικηφόρους.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Αἱ Ἅγιαι ἑκατὸν τριάκοντα γυναῖκες αἱ ἐν Νικομηδείᾳ, ξίφει τελειοῦνται.
Σὺν πενταπλῇ προὔτεινεν εἰκάδι ξίφει,
Τριπλῇ γυναικῶν μαρτύρων δεκὰς κάρας.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Θεμιστοκλέους.
Τὰς ἐκ σιδηρῶν ὀξέων ἥλων ξέσεις,
Ὥς τις σιδηροῦς καρτερεῖς Θεμιστόκλεις.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ετοιμάζου Βηθλεέμ, ήνοικται πάσιν η Εδέμ, Ευτρεπίζου Εφραθά, ότι τό ξύλον τής ζωής, εν τώ Σπηλαίω εξήνθησεν εκ τής Παρθένου, Παράδεισος καί γάρ, η εκείνης γαστήρ, εδείχθη νοητός, εν ώ τό θείον φυτόν, εξ ού φαγόντες ζήσομεν, ουχί δέ ως ο Αδάμ τεθνηξόμεθα, Χριστός γεννάται, τήν πρίν πεσούσαν, αναστήσων εικόνα.
Be thou ready, Bethlehem, Eden hath opened unto all. Ephratha, prepare thyself, for now, behold, the Tree of life hath blossomed forth in the cave from the Holy Virgin. Her womb hath proved a true spiritual Paradise, wherein the divine and saving Tree is found, and as we eat thereof we shall all live, and shall not die as did Adam. For Christ is born now to raise the image that had fallen aforetime.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Εν τή Βηθλεέμ, ορώντες σπαργανούμενον, τόν πάσαν τήν γήν, κρατούντα τή χειρί αυτού, προεόρτια άσματα, τή Τεκούση τούτον προσενέγκωμεν, μητρικώς γαρ ευφραίνεται, κρατούσα εν κόλποις τόν Υιόν τού Θεού.
In Bethlehem now beholding Him in swaddling clothes, that holdeth the earth within the hollow of His hand, we all offer our prefestal songs to the Mother that gave Him birth, who rejoiceth maternally to hold in her bosom the true Son of God.
Saint Juliana, who was from Nicomedia, lived during the years of Maximian and was the daughter of wealthy parents. They were pagans, but she was secretly a Christian. Without consulting her, her parents betrothed her to an idolater named Eleusius, who was a member of the Senate. She, not wishing to marry him, told him that unless he became eparch, she would not marry him. When he had obtained this position, she told him that unless he renounced the religion of the idols and became a Christian, she would have nothing to do with him. Eleusius then told Juliana's father of this. He attempted to turn her from the Faith of Christ, but when he saw that she could not change her constancy, he gave her up to the Eparch, Eleusius her betrothed, to be tried according to the law. When he could not persuade her to do his will, he subjected her to the most inhuman tortures and after imprisoning her, cast her into a furnace. But by the grace of God, the furnace was marvellousy quenched. Seeing this, some five hundred men and one hundred and fifty women believed in Christ and were beheaded for His sake. After further torments, she was beheaded, in the year 299.
Kontakion in the First Tone
Παρθένος παγκαλής, καί περίδοξος Μάρτυς, εδείχθης αληθώς, θείω φίλτρω τρωθείσα, διό αμφοτέρωθεν, διαλάμπουσα ένδοξε, πρός ουράνιον, μετεβιβάσθης νυμφώνα, ικετεύουσα, διά παντός Αληφόρε, υπέρ τών τιμώντων σε.
A comely virgin wast thou, O wise Juliana; and as thy soul was wounded with love for thy Maker thy body was also pierced through with comely martyric wounds, which adorned thee as the bride of Christ and His Martyr; now as thou dost dwell in the bridechambers of Heaven, thou prayest for all of us.
Our holy and wonderworking Father Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow, was born in Volhynia, tonsured a monk at twelve years of age, and later ordained a priest. He lived in solitude for a time in a desert place north of Lvov and founded the Holy Transfiguration Monastery; afterwards he was sent to Constantinople, where the holy Patriarch Athanasius consecrated him Metropolitan of Kiev in 1308, and he returned to Vladimir, where the Metropolitans of Kiev had their residence at that time (see Saint Jonas on June 15). In 1325, he moved to Moscow, where he founded the Dormition Cathedral, and after his repose in December 21, 1326, was buried there. He was also an iconographer, and two of his icons, the Dormition and the Petrovskaya, are found in the Dormition Cathedral (see also Oct. 5 and Aug. 24).
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Now the formerly fruitless land rejoiceth; for behold, Christ hath revealed a light in thee that shineth forth clearly in the world, and healeth our infirmities and sicknesses. Wherefore, dance and be merry with boldness; he is a hierarch indeed of the Most High, Who was his fellow-worker in these things.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
On this day, we hasten to thee with love, fashioning a song, O God-bearing champion and marvellous wonderworker of our land. Since thou hast boldness before the Lord, deliver us from diverse afflictions, that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, O support of our city.
Οι χριστιανές γυναίκες που δεν ξέρουν ποιά ήταν η θέση της γυναικός πριν να έλθη ο Χριστός και κάνουν αγώνα για τα δικαιώματα δήθεν "της γυναίκας", διαβάζουν άρα γε τους άθλους των αγίων Μαρτύρων γυναικών; Εκεί θα δουν και θα διδαχτούν με τί μαρτύρια και με πόσα αίματα νίκησε ο χριστιανισμός τον κόσμο, για να εξασφαλίση μαζί με τ' άλλα και την θέση της γυναικός στη ζωή και την τιμή της σαν προσώπου δίπλα στον άνδρα. Το "ουκ ένι άρσεν και θήλυ", που εκήρυξεν ο Απόστολος, είχεν εφαρμογή και στο μαρτύριο, όπου άνδρες και γυναίκες παράδιναν τα σώματά τους σε θάνατο με την ίδια πίστη και την ίδια ανδρεία. Η αγία Ιουλιανή, της οποίας η Εκκλησία σήμερα γιορτάζει την μνήμη, παραδόθηκε στους δήμιους από τον πατέρα της και τον μνηστήρα της, δεκαοκτώ χρονών νέα, κι άντεξε στο μαρτύριο σαν το γενναιότερο παλληκάρι. "Ηρίστευσαν γυναίκες, τω σω Σταυρώ κρατυνθείσαι, Χριστέ παντοδύναμε...", ψάλλει η Εκκλησία.
Ἡ Ἁγία Ἰουλιανή
Οἱ γονεῖς τῆς Ἰουλιανῆς ἦταν εἰδωλολάτρες καὶ θέλησαν νὰ τὴν μνηστεύσουν μὲ κάποιο διακεκριμένο ἀξιωματοῦχο τῆς Ἀντιοχείας, τὸν Ἐλεύσιο. Ἀλλὰ ἡ Ἰουλιανὴ ἀρνήθηκε σθεναρά. Ἡ ἄρνησή της κατέπληξε τοὺς γονεῖς της, διότι μέχρι ἐκείνη τὴν στιγμὴ δὲν τοὺς εἶχε φέρει καμιὰ ἀντίῤῥηση καὶ ἦταν ὑπάκουη κόρη. Ὁ Ἐλεύσιος μὲ πληγωμένο ἐγωισμὸ ζητοῦσε ἐκδίκηση. Ἀφοῦ ἐρεύνησε καὶ παρακολούθησε γιὰ πολὺ καιρὸ τὴν Ἰουλιανή, ἔμαθε ὅτι ἐν ἀγνοίᾳ τῶν γονέων της εἶχε γίνει χριστιανή. Ἔτσι ὁ Ἐλεύσιος τὴν κατήγγειλε στὸν ἔπαρχο, μὲ ἀποτέλεσμα νὰ συλληφθεῖ καὶ νὰ φυλακισθεῖ. Μέσα στὴ φυλακή, συνεχίστηκαν οἱ προσπάθειες νὰ γίνει σύζυγος τοῦ Ἐλευσίου καὶ νὰ ἀποφύγει τὸν κίνδυνο τοῦ θανάτου. Ἀλλὰ ἡ Ἰουλιανὴ προτιμοῦσε νὰ πεθάνει, παρὰ νὰ πάρει εἰδωλολάτρη σύζυγο. Τότε ὁ Ἐλεύσιος μὲ διαταγὴ τοῦ ἔπαρχου καὶ πολὺ μῖσος τὴν μαστίγωσε ἀνελέητα. Ἔπειτα, ἔκαψε τὸ πρόσωπό της μὲ πυρακτωμένο σίδερο, καὶ τῆς εἶπε: «Πήγαινε τώρα στὸν καθρέπτη νὰ καμαρώσεις τὴν ὀμορφιά σου». Ἡ δὲ Ἰουλιανή, μὲ ἕνα ἐλαφρὸ μειδίαμα τοῦ ἀπάντησε: «Στὴν ἀνάσταση τῶν δικαίων, στὰ πρόσωπα δὲ θὰ ὑπάρχουν πληγὲς καὶ ἐγκαύματα. Θὰ ὑπάρχουν μόνο οἱ πληγὲς τῶν ψυχῶν ἀπὸ τὴν ἁμαρτία. Γι᾿ αὐτό, Ἐλεύσιε προτιμῶ τώρα τὶς πληγὲς τοῦ σώματος, ποὺ εἶναι προσωρινές, παρὰ τὶς πληγὲς τῆς ψυχῆς, ποὺ βασανίζουν αἰώνια». Μετὰ ἀπὸ λίγο, τὸ ξίφος τοῦ δημίου ἔκοψε τὸ νεανικὸ κεφάλι τῆς Ἰουλιανῆς. Ἀργότερα ὁ Ἐλεύσιος, ὅταν βρέθηκε ναυαγὸς σὲ κάποιο ἄγνωστο νησί, βρῆκε τραγικὸ τέλος, ὅταν τὸν κατασπάραξε ἕνα ἄγριο λιοντάρι.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι 500 Μάρτυρες
Αὐτοὶ πίστεψαν στὸν Χριστὸ διὰ τῆς Ἁγίας Ἰουλιανῆς καὶ κατόπιν ὅλοι μαρτύρησαν διὰ ξίφους.
Οἱ Ἁγίες 130 γυναῖκες
Αὐτὲς πίστεψαν στὸν Χριστὸ διὰ τῆς Ἁγίας Ἰουλιανῆς καὶ στὴ συνέχεια ὅλες μαρτύρησαν διὰ ἀποκεφαλισμοῦ.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Θεμιστοκλῆς
Προστάτης τῶν διωκομένων χριστιανῶν μπορεῖ νὰ χαρακτηριστεῖ ὁ ἅγιος Θεμιστοκλῆς. Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὰ Μῦρα τῆς Λυκίας καὶ ἔζησε στὰ μέσα του 3ου αἰῶνα μετὰ Χριστόν. Ὅταν ἐπὶ διωγμοῦ τοῦ Δεκίου ἔπασχαν ἀνήκουστα πράγματα οἱ χριστιανοί, ὁ Θεμιστοκλῆς, βοσκὸς τὸ ἐπάγγελμα, ἔκρυψε πολλοὺς σὲ δυσπρόσιτα ὀρεινὰ μέρη. Καταγγέλθηκε γι᾿ αὐτό, ἀλλὰ ἀρνήθηκε νὰ δείξει τὰ κρησφύγετα τῶν διωκομένων. Καταδικάστηκε λοιπὸν καὶ αὐτός, σύρθηκε δὲ σὲ ἔδαφος, στὸ ὁποῖο εἶχαν μπήξει σιδερένια καρφιὰ καὶ ἔτσι παρέδωσε στὸν Θεὸ τὴν ἁγία του ψυχή.
Holy Martyr Juliana of Nicomedia and those with her (304)
She was the daughter of a prominent family in Nicomedia during the reign of the persecutor Maximian (286-305). Her parents betrothed her to a nobleman named Eleusius, but without his knowledge, or that of her parents, she had already committed her life to Christ, and consecrated her virginity to him. To put off her suitor, she told him that she would not marry him until he became Prefect. Eleusius went to work using his fortune to bribe and influence those in power, and succeeded in being appointed Prefect of Nicomedia. When he went to Juliana to claim her as his wife, she was forced to confess herself a Christian, saying that she would never marry him unless he gave up the worship of idols and embraced the faith of Christ. For her confession, she was arrested and taken before the Prefect: Eleusius, her once-ardent suitor. He was now filled with an ardent rage toward her and, when she would not renounce her faith, had her subjected to the most sadistic tortures imaginable. Miraculously, she endured these without harm. Witnessing this wonder, 500 men and 130 women from among the pagans confessed Christ. The enraged Prefect had all of them beheaded immediately, followed by Juliana herself. She was eighteen years old when she won the Martyr's crown.
Our Holy Father Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow (1326)
"Saint Peter was born in Volhynia in 1260 and entered a monastery there at the age of thirteen. Making the Ladder of Saint John Climacus his guide in the monastic life, his obedience, meekness and willingness to undertake tasks that were repugnant to his brethren made him beloved of them all. He also painted icons and was the originator of the Muscovite style of Russian iconography. After some years, he left for the small Monastery of the Transfiguration in order to find the quiet favourable to prayer. Saint Maximus, the metropolitan of Kiev (6 Dec.) visited this monastery and was greatly edified by the virtues of Peter, whom he decided should be his successor as head of the Russian Church. He was confirmed in this resolve by an apparition of the Mother of God, and he made the request to the Patriarch of Constantinople on whom the Russian Church depended. In 1325 therefore Saint Peter was consecrated Metropolitan of Kiev, of which the see had been transferred to Vladimir by Saint Maximus, after the sack of Kiev by the Tatars. Peter's election was confirmed by a Council, but he immediately encountered opposition from the Russian princes, who were vying with one another for influence over the leader of the Church. Peter's meekness and charity towards his enemies won him their respect; but although conciliatory in all that concerned himself personally, he was nonetheless strict as regards the faith and moral uprightness. He energetically opposed intense Muslim propaganda, and travelled throughout Russia to confirm the faith. He did not hesitate to risk his life for the sake of making peace among the princes and, foreseeing that Russia would reunite around the principality of Moscow, he transferred his Metropolitanate see to that city and began the construction of the renowned Cathedral of the Dormition in the Kremlin. He gave up his soul to God while at prayer on 21 December 1326, and many miracles of healing were wrought at his tomb." (Synaxarion)
Saint Procopius of Vyatka, Fool for Christ (1627)
"Saint Procopius, the son of devout peasants, first feigned madness to escape a marriage that was being urged on him. He spent his life in the streets half-naked, slept wherever night overtook him and would never accept the shelter of a house. He used signs to make himself understood and never spoke a word, except to his spiritual father, with whom he would converse normally as a man in possession of all his faculties. When he was given an article of clothing, he wore it for a while out of obedience and then give it away to someone poor. When he visited the sick, he set fire to the beds of those who were going to get better, and rolled up in their sheets those who were going to die. He made many predictions, often by means of disconcerting prophetic signs, whose meaning became clear with the event. He spent thirty years in foolishness for Christ and, having foretold his death, fell asleep in peace in 1627." (Synaxarion)
The Holy Martyress Juliania, daughter of an illustrious pagan named Africanus, was born in the city of Nicomedia. In her adolescent years she was betrothed to a certain Eleusios. Saint Juliania was endowed with a profound intellect and an inclination to goodness of soul, and she saw through the delusion and deception of the pagan faith. She secretly accepted holy Baptism. When the time of the wedding approached, Juliania resolutely refused to be married. Her father began to urge her not to break the long engagement but, not getting his wish, he began to beat her viciously. Then Africanus handed his daughter over to the magistrate of the city, -- which was that very Eleusios, the former fiancee of Juliania. Eleusios heatedly asked Juliania to marry him, promising not to require of her a change of faith. Saint Juliania refused and preferred the torture. They beat the saint both long and harshly, but after each beating she received from God healing and new strength. Her beating was done before a large number of people. Of these, 500 men and 150 women came to confess Christ -- having witnessed the steadfastness and courage of the holy virgin miraculously healed from her wounds. They were beheaded, having been baptised in their own blood. Convinced finally of his own hopeless attempt to tear the holy virgin away from her Heavenly Bridegroom, Eleusios sentenced Juliania to death. She accepted the sentence with joy and glorified the Lord for permitting her to receive a martyr's crown. The execution of the holy Martyress Juliania was done in the year 304.
Sainted Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow, was born in Volhynia of the pious parents Feodor and Evpraksia. Even before the birth of her son, the Lord revealed to Evpraksia the blessed pre-chosenness of her son. At 12 years of age, young Peter entered a monastery. He successfully studied the book sciences of those times and eagerly fulfilled his monastic obediences. The future saint devoted much time to an attentive study of the Holy Scriptures and he learned iconography. The icons, written by the Monk Peter, were distributed to the brethren and to Christians visiting the monastery. Because of his virtuous and ascetic life, the hegumen of the monastery had the Monk Peter ordained to the dignity of priestmonk. After some number of years of ascetic deeds at the monastery, the priestmonk Peter, having gained the blessing of the hegumen, left the monastery in search of a solitary place. At the Rata River he made a cell and began to pursue asceticism in silence. Afterwards at this place of his ascetic exploits was formed a monastery, called the Novodvorsk. A church in the Name of the Saviour was built for the arriving monks. Chosen as hegumen, Saint Peter guided his spiritual children, never becoming angry with a guilty monk, but rather by word and by example he instructed the brethren. The virtuous hegumen and ascetic became known far beyond the bounds of the monastery. The prince of Galich Yuri L'vovich came frequently to the monastery to hear spiritual guidance from the holy ascetic.
One time the Vladimir Metropolitan Maxim visited the monastery, in his travels through the Russian land with words of instruction and edification. Having received the Saint Maxim's blessing, Saint Peter offered him as a gift in return an image written by him of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God -- before which Saint Maxim until the end of his days prayed for the salvation of the Russian land entrusted him by God.
When Metropolitan Maxim died, the Vladimir cathedra-chair remained for a certain time unoccupied. The Greatprince of Vladimir, -- at this time it was Saint Michael of Tver (Comm. 22 November), -- dispatched to the Patriarch of Constantinople his chosen like-minded associate the hegumen Gerontii with a petition that he be elevated to Metropolitan of Russia.
On the suggestion of the Galich prince Yuri, hegumen Peter also set out to the Constantinople Patriarch for consideration to the hierarch cathedra. God chose Saint Peter for the nourishing of the Russian Church. The Mother of God appeared to Gerontii, sailing amidst the Black Sea by night during a storm, and said: "In vain dost thou endeavour, the hierarchical dignity is not allotted thee. That one, who hath written Me [upon icon], the Rata hegumen Peter, shalt be elevated to the throne of the Russian metropolitan". The words of the Mother of God were fulfilled in full: the Patriarch of Constantinople Athanasias (1289-1293) with a council elevated Saint Peter to Russian metropolitan, bestowing upon him the hierarchical vestments, staff and icon, brought by Gerontii. Upon his return to Russia in 1308, Metropolitan Peter after the course of a year arrived at Kiev, and then proceeded on to Vladimir.
The chief hierarch was tested by many trials during his first years of guiding the Russian metropolitanate. In its suffering beneath the Tatar (Mongol) Yoke the Russian land was in turmoil, and Saint Peter was obliged often to change the place of his residence. During this period particularly important were the labours and concerns of the saint to affirm the true faith and morality in the realm. During this time of constant journeying throughout the diocese he incessantly instructed the people and clergy about strict preservation of Christian piety. The quarrelsome princes he summoned to love of peace and unity.
In the year 1312 the saint made a journey to the Horde, where he received from khan Uzbek an edict, guarding the rights of Russian clergy.
In 1325 Metropolitan Peter, at the request of Greatprince Ivan Kalita (1328-1340), transferred the metropolitan cathedra-chair from Vladimir to Moscow. This event had very great significance for all the Russian land. Saint Peter prophetically predicted deliverance from the Tatar Yoke and the future emergence of Moscow as the centre of all Russia.
By his blessing, in August 1326 in the Moscow Kremlin was put down the foundation of the cathedral in honour of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God. This was a profoundly symbolic blessing by the chief-hierarch of the Russian land. On 21 December 1326 Saint Peter expired to God. The holy body of the saint was buried in the Uspensk cathedral in a stone crypt, which he himself had prepared. Many miracles were done through the prayers of the saint. Many healings even were done secretly, which testifies to the deep humility of the saint even after death. The deep veneration of the Chief-hierarch of the Russian Church was affirmed and spread throughout all the Russian land. In 1339, 13 years later under Sainted Theognost (Comm. 14 March), Saint Peter was enumerated to the ranks of the saints. And at the tomb of the saint, princes kissed the cross as a symbol of fidelity to the Greatprince of Moscow. As a particularly venerated protector of Moscow, Saint Peter was called on in witness in the drawing up of government treaties. The Novgorod people, formerly having the right to choose their own bishop of Saint Sophia, after their annexation to Moscow under Ivan III, gave promise with an oath to establish their archbishops only at the grave of Sainted Peter the Wonderworker. And it was at the grave of the saint that Russian chief-hierarchs were named and chosen.
The Russian chronicles make mention about him constantly, and no significant state undertaking was initiated without prayer at the grave of Saint Peter. In 1472 and 1479 was made a transfer of the relics of Saint Peter. In memory of these events feastdays were established for 5 October and 24 August.
Nobleborn Juliania, Princess of Vyazemsk and Novotorzh, a daughter of the boyar-noble Maksim Danilov, was glorified by a deep marital prudence. Her spouse, the Vyazemsk prince Simeon Mstislavich, and also the Smolemsk prince Yuri Svyatoslavich, were compelled to flee their native lands, which the Lithuanian prince Vitovt had seized. Then the Moscow prince Vasilii Dimitrovich bestowed the exiled princes the Tver city of Torzhok. Prince Yuri Svyatoslavich became captivated by the beauty of Juliania and tried every which way to persuade her to adultery, but Juliania strictly kept her marital fidelity. One time during a feast, prince Yuri killed the husband of Juliania, in the hope of taking her by force. Saint Juliania resisted the ravisher. The enraged prince Yuri gave orders to cut off her hands and feet, and to throw her body into the Tvertsa River. The martyrdom of Saint Juliania was done in the winter of 1406. From pricks of conscience prince Yuri fled to the Tatars, but even there he did not find peace. He then settled in the Ryazan wilderness (where also he died in 1408). In the spring of 1406 they saw the body of the blessed princess floating in the far current. A certain paralytic heard a voice from above, commanding to bury the body of Saint Juliania at the south gate of the cathedral in Torzhok. A tomb with the body was afterwards built at the Saviour-Transfiguration cathedral, where many received healing from her. In connection with the glorification of Saint Juliania on 2 June 1819 was built a chapel at the right-hand side, dedicated to her name. At the cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Lord, where earlier there was a chapel over the grave of the saint, a church was built and also dedicated to the name of Saint Juliania in 1906.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. The Holy Martyr Juliana and 630 Martyrs with her
This glorious virgin and martyr was born in Nicomedia of pagan parents. Hearing the Gospel preached, she turned to Christ with all her heart and began to live in exact observance of the Lord's commandments. Eleusius, a senator, was her betrothed. In order to turn him away, Juliana told him that she would marry him only if he became the eparch of that city. She suggested this to him, thinking that this young man would never attain such a high position. Nevertheless, Eleusius tried and, by flattery and bribery, attained the post of Eparch of Nicomedia. Juliana then revealed to him that she was a Christian and could not enter into marriage with him until he embraced her Faith, saying: ``What does it benefit us to be united physically but divided spiritually?'' Embittered by this, Eleusius denounced her to her father. The enraged father scorned her, beat her, and then handed her over to the eparch for torture. The eparch ordered that they severely beat her, then she was cast into prison, all wounded and bloody. However, the Lord healed her in prison, and she appeared before the eparch completely well. He then threw her into a glowing furnace but the fire did not burn her. Seeing this miracle, many believed in Christ God. Five hundred men and one hundred and thirty women were converted. The eparch condemned them all to death and ordered them all to be beheaded. Thus their souls entered Paradise. Then the wicked judge condemned holy Juliana to be beheaded. With a joyful spirit, Juliana went out to the place of execution, prayed to God on her knees, and placed her head on the block. Her head was severed and her soul went to the Kingdom of Christ's eternal light in the year 304. God's punishment quickly befell Eleusius: as he was sailing on the sea, his ship broke up and he fell into the water. He did not find death in the water, but swam to an island, where dogs tore him to pieces and devoured him.
2. Saint Peter the Wonderworker, Metropolitan of Russia
Peter was born in the province of Volhynia and embraced the monastic life at the age of twelve. He was a wonderful ascetic and iconographer. He founded a monastery on the river Rata and became its abbot. Against his will, he was appointed Metropolitan of Kiev and consecrated in Constantinople by Patriarch Athanasius. As metropolitan, he endured much at the hands of the envious and the heretics. He governed the Church for eighteen years as a good and zealous shepherd. During his lifetime he built a crypt for himself in the Church of the Dormition, where his holy and miracle-working relics repose even today. He entered into rest in the year 1326 and went to his true homeland.
3. The Holy Martyr Themistocles
As a shepherd, the young Themistocles tended sheep in a field near the city of Myra in Lycia. At that time the persecutors of Christians were pursuing St. Dioscorides, and they came upon Themistocles in the field. They asked him if he saw the one being pursued and if he knew where he was hiding. Themistocles, although he knew, refused to say, but instead declared himself a Christian. He was tortured and beheaded at the time of Decius in the year 251.
HYMN OF PRAISE
The Mother of Saint Peter, Metropolitan of Russia
The glorious mother of Peter the Saint,
When she was pregnant with Peter,
Dreamed a dream, and saw in that dream
That, in her hands, she held a lamb:
With slender horns, a lamb all white.
Between the lamb's horns was a most beautiful tree,
And on the tree were fragrant flowers,
And fragrant fruits around the flowers.
The tree's branches were adorned with candles,
Glowing candles like shining stars,
Redolent with a heavenly scent.
The dream of the mother was wonderfully realized:
The meek lamb prefigured Peter,
The horns-Peter's bravery,
The beautiful tree-the soul of the saint,
The multicolored flowers-his multitude of virtues,
The fruits-his works of mercy,
The glowing candles-his faith and prayer.
That which was revealed in an image to the mother
Was shown in truth in Peter.
Whoever climbs to the Kingdom of Christ must encounter obstacles, and these obstacles are numerous and varied. Especially dangerous are the evils of the demons. Therefore, every man zealous for the spiritual life must be especially cautious and not accept every shining vision from the other world as a divine revelation. That even the devil is able to appear as an angel of light is shown in the life of the Holy Martyr Juliana. When this holy virgin lay in prison, the devil appeared to her in angelic light, and he counseled her to offer sacrifice to the idols so as to end her tortures. The frightened Juliana asked: ``Who are you?'' The devil replied: ``I am an angel of God! God is greatly concerned about you. Therefore, He sent me with the message that you should submit to the eparch, so that your body will not be destroyed by pain; the Lord is gracious and will forgive you because of the weakness of your wounded body.'' The martyr was horrified at these words. Confused, she fell down in tears in prayer to God, asking Him to reveal who had spoken with her. Then a voice from heaven came to her: ``Be brave, Juliana, I am with you; I give you authority and power over him who came to you, and from him alone will you discover who he is.'' And the devil was bound and forced to acknowledge that he was the same one who had deceived Eve in Paradise, who had told Cain to murder Abel, Herod to slaughter the children of Bethlehem, the Jews to stone Stephen, Nero to crucify Peter upside down and to behead Paul, and so forth. Thus, this holy virgin, girded with the power of God, did not allow herself to be deluded by the evil spirit, but she defeated him by her vigilant and ardent prayers to God.
Contemplate David's repentance:
1. How King David did not sin while he was a shepherd and a simple subject;
2. How, as king, he sinned against God;
3. How he immediately recognized his sin, confessed it and repented bitterly.
on Elias the Prophet
As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years but according to my word (I Kings 17:1).
These words are terrible sounding to every mortal ear, for a man spoke them, a man subject to like passions as we are (James 5:17). You ask yourselves, brethren, how can a mortal man shut up the heavens and stop the rain? But ask yourselves: how can a mortal man open the heavens and bring down rain upon the parched ground? We know that even now God opens the heavens and gives rain at the prayers of men: And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive (Matthew 21:22), says our Savior. As Moses, by living faith and prayer, worked awesome miracles in Egypt and in the wilderness, as Joshua the son of Nun held back the course of the sun, so also God's prophet Elias shut and opened the heavens, brought down fire from heaven, and worked other mighty and awesome miracles all through faith and prayer. God gave Elias the power to work such miracles, for Elias was zealous for the glory of God and not for his own glory: I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts (I Kings 19:14). This man of God sought nothing for himself but sought everything for God. God was everything to him: all glory, all strength, all good. Therefore, God crowned him with immortal glory, awesome might, and treasure which does not decay and which moths do not corrupt. God did not permit Elias to die but took him to heaven as he did Enoch. St. Elias had a soul as pure as the morning dew, a body as chaste as a child's, and a heart and mind as blameless as that of an angel of God. Therefore, he was and remains a vessel of God's power. He worked wonders then and works them today.
O Living Lord, the God of Thy Prophet Elias, Who hast adopted us through baptism by Thy holy grace: enkindle also in us the faith and zeal of Thy holy prophet.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.