FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Martin the Confessor, Pope of Rome
Μεγάλη Παρασκευή: Ἐν ᾗ τά Ἅγια καί Σωτήρια καί Φρικτά Πάθη τοῦ Κυρίου καί Θεοῦ καί Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐπιτελοῦμεν.
Τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρός ἡμῶν Μαρτίνου, Πάπα Ρώμης, τοῦ Ὁμολογητοῦ.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 5:6-8
BRETHREN, a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (Galatians 3.13-14) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us - for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree" - that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Πρὸς Κορινθίους α' 5:6-8
Ἀδελφοί, μικρὰ ζύμη ὅλον τὸ φύραμα ζυμοῖ; Ἐκκαθάρατε τὴν παλαιὰν ζύμην, ἵνα ἦτε νέον φύραμα, καθώς ἐστε ἄζυμοι. Καὶ γὰρ τὸ Πάσχα ἡμῶν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἐτύθη Χριστός· ὥστε ἑορτάζωμεν, μὴ ἐν ζύμῃ παλαιᾷ, μηδὲ ἐν ζύμῃ κακίας καὶ πονηρίας, ἀλλʼ ἐν ἀζύμοις εἰλικρινείας καὶ ἀληθείας.
The Reading is from Matthew 27:62-66
Next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, "Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, 'After three days I will rise again.' Therefore order the sepulcher to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away, and tell the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' and the last fraud will be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can." So they went and made the sepulcher secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.
Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 27.62-66
Τῇ δὲ ἐπαύριον, ἥτις ἐστὶ μετὰ τὴν παρασκευήν, συνήχθησαν οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι πρὸς Πιλᾶτονλέγοντες· κύριε, ἐμνήσθημεν ὅτι ἐκεῖνος ὁ πλάνος εἶπεν ἔτι ζῶν, μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας ἐγείρομαι.κέλευσον οὖν ἀσφαλισθῆναι τὸν τάφον ἕως τῆς τρίτης ἡμέρας, μήποτε ἐλθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς κλέψωσιν αὐτὸν καὶ εἴπωσι τῷ λαῷ, ἠγέρθη ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν· καὶ ἔσται ἡ ἐσχάτη πλάνη χείρων τῆς πρώτης.ἔφη αὐτοῖς ὁ Πιλᾶτος· ἔχετε κουστωδίαν· ὑπάγετε ἀσφαλίσασθε ὡς οἴδατε.οἱ δὲ πορευθέντες ἠσφαλίσαντο τὸν τάφον σφραγίσαντες τὸν λίθον μετὰ τῆς κουστωδίας.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΙΓ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Μαρτίνου Πάπα Ῥώμης, τοῦ Ὁμολογητοῦ, καὶ τῶν σὺν αὐτῷ Ἐπισκόπων.
· Ὁ σὴν γεγηθὼς σάρκα Σῶτερ ἐσθίων,
· Ἀπεκδύσει γέγηθε σαρκὸς Μαρτῖνος.
· Ἀμφὶ τρίτῃ δεκάτῃ θάνε Μαρτῖνος περίπυστος.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Μαξίμου, Κυντιλλιανοῦ καὶ Δάδα.
· Τίνες κεφαλῶν οἶδε κείμενοι δίχα;
· Κυντιλλιανός, Μάξιμός τε καὶ Δάδας.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Ἐλευθερίου τοῦ Πέρσου.
· Ἐλευθέριος οὐκ ἐδουλώθη πλάνῃ.
· Ἐλεύθερος δὲ πρὸς ξίφους ἔστη στόμα.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Θεοδοσίου.
· Θεοῖς προσοίσειν μηδαμῶς πεισθεὶς δόσιν,
· Ἤχθη Θεοδόσιος τὴν ἐπὶ ξίφους.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Ζωΐλου.
· Τόξου βέλει, Ζώϊλε, πληγεὶς ἐν ξύλῳ,
· Πλήττεις τὸν εἰσάξαντα τὴν φθορὰν ξύλῳ.
Τῇ ἁγίᾳ καὶ μεγάλῃ Παρασκευῇ, τὰ ἅγια καὶ σωτήρια καὶ φρικτὰ Πάθη τοῦ Κυρίου καὶ Θεοῦ καὶ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐπιτελοῦμεν, τοὺς ἐμπτυσμούς, τὰ ῥαπίσματα, τὰ κολαφίσματα, τὰς ὕβρεις, τοὺς γέλωτας, τὴν πορφυρᾶν χλαίναν, τὸν κάλαμον, τὸν σπόγγον, τὸ ὄξος, τοὺς ἥλους, τὴν λόγχην, καὶ πρὸ πάντων, τὸν σταυρόν, καὶ τὸν θάνατον, ἃ δι' ἡμᾶς ἑκὼν κατεδέξατο, ἔτι δὲ καὶ τὴν τοῦ εὐγνώμονος Λῃστοῦ, τοῦ συσταυρωθέντος αὐτῷ, σωτήριον ἐν τῷ Σταυρῷ ὁμολογίαν.
Στίχοι εἰς τὴν Σταύρωσιν
· Ζῶν εἶ Θεὸς σύ, καὶ νεκρωθεὶς ἐν ξύλῳ,
· Ὦ νεκρὲ γυμνέ, καὶ Θεοῦ ζῶντος Λόγε.
Ἕτεροι εἰς τὸν εὐγνώμονα Λῃστὴν
· Κεκλεισμένας ἤνοιξε τῆς Ἐδὲμ πύλας,
· Βαλὼν ὁ Λῃστὴς κλεῖδα τό, Μνήσθητί μου.
Τῇ ὑπερφυεῖ καὶ περὶ ἡμᾶς παναπείρῳ σου εὐσπλαγχνίᾳ, Χριστὲ ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
When Friday dawned, Christ was sent bound from Caiaphas to Pontius Pilate, who was then Governor of Judea. Pilate interrogated Him in many ways, and once and again acknowledged that He was innocent, but to please the Jews, he later passed the sentence of death against Him. After scourging the Lord of all as though He were a runaway slave, he surrendered Him to be crucified.
Thus the Lord Jesus was handed over to the soldiers, was stripped of His garments, was clothed in a purple robe, was crowned with a wreath of thorns, had a reed placed in His hand as though it were a sceptre, was bowed before in mockery, was spat upon, and was buffeted in the face and on the head. Then they again clothed Him in His own garments, and bearing the cross, He came to Golgotha, a place of condemnation, and there, about the third hour, He was crucified between two thieves. Although both blasphemed Him at the first, the thief at His right hand repented, and said: "Remember me, O Lord, when Thou comest in Thy Kingdom," to which our Saviour answered, "Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise." As He hung upon the Cross, He was blasphemed by those who were passing by, was mocked by the high priests, and by the soldiers was given vinegar to drink mixed with gall. About the ninth hour, He cried out with a loud voice, saying, "It is finished." And the Lamb of God "Which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29) expired on the day when the moon was full, and at the hour when, according to the Law, was slain the Passover lamb, which was established as a type of Him in the time of Moses.
Even lifeless creation mourned the death of the Master, and it trembled and was altered out of fear. Yet, even though the Maker of creation was already dead, they pierced Him in His immaculate side, and forthwith came there out Blood and Water. Finally, at about the setting of the sun, Joseph of Arimathea came with Nicodemus (both of them had been secret disciples of Jesus), and they took down the all-holy Body of the Teacher from the Cross and anointed it with aromatic spices, and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. When they had buried Him in a new tomb, they rolled a great stone over its entrance.
Such are the dread and saving sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ commemorated today, and in remembrance of them, we have received the Apostolic commandment that a fast be observed every Friday.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Ὅτε οἱ ἔνδοξοι Μαθηταί, ἐν τῷ νιπτῆρι τοῦ Δείπνου ἐφωτίζοντο, τότε Ἰούδας ὁ δυσσεβής, φιλαργυρίαν νοσήσας ἐσκοτίζετο, καὶ ἀνόμοις κριταῖς, σὲ τὸν δίκαιον Κριτὴν παραδίδωσι. Βλέπε χρημάτων ἐραστά, τὸν διὰ ταῦτα ἀγχόνῃ χρησάμενον, φεῦγε ἀκόρεστον ψυχὴν τὴν Διδασκάλῳ τοιαῦτα τολμήσασαν. Ὁ περὶ πάντας ἀγαθός, Κύριε δόξα σοι.
When the glorious disciples were enlightened at the washing of the feet, then Judas the ungodly one was stricken and darkened with the love of silver. And unto the lawless judges did he deliver Thee, the righteous Judge. O thou lover of money, behold thou him that for the sake thereof did hang himself; flee from that insatiable soul that dared such things against the Master. O Thou Who art good unto all, Lord, glory be to Thee.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Τὸν δι' ἡμᾶς Σταυρωθέντα, δεῦτε πάντες ὑμνήσωμεν· αὐτὸν γὰρ κατεῖδε Μαρία ἐπὶ τοῦ ξύλου, καὶ ἔλεγεν· Εἰ καὶ σταυρὸν ὑπομένεις, σὺ ὑπάρχεις ὁ Υἱὸς καὶ Θεός μου.
Come, let us all praise Him Who was crucified for us. Mary beheld Him on the Tree and said, "Though You endure even the Cross, You are my Son and my God."
Saint Martin was born in Tuscany. He had been the papal delegate at Constantinople; upon the death of Pope Theodore, Saint Martin was elected his successor. At this time the Emperor Constans II, also known as Constantine Pogonatus (reigned 641-668), was seeking support of his confession of faith called the Typos, which espoused the Monothelite heresy, that is, that there is only one will and energy in the Incarnate Son of God. But the newly-consecrated Pope not only did not accept the Typos, but convened the Lateran Council of 649 (attended by 105 of his bishops, and Saint Maximus the Confessor, who was then in Rome), which anathematized the Typos and the Monothelite heresy. Because of this Saint Martin was seized by an imperial force in 653 and brought to Constantinople, where he was charged with sending money to the Saracens and conspiring with them, and blaspheming against the most holy Mother of God. Though innocent of these accusations, he was exiled to Cherson on the Black Sea, where, after many sufferings and privations, he received the crown of his courageous confession in the year 655.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ὁ Θεὸς τῶν Πατέρων ἡμῶν, ὁ ποιῶν ἀεὶ μεθ΄ ἡμῶν, κατὰ τὴν σὴν ἐπιείκειαν, μὴ ἀποστήσῃς τὸ ἔλεός σου ἀφ΄ ἡμῶν. Ἀλλὰ ταῖς αὐτῶν ἱκεσίαις, ἐν εἰρήνῃ κυβέρνησον τὴν ζωὴν ἡμῶν.
O God of our Fathers, ever dealing with us according to Thy gentleness: take not Thy mercy from us, but by their entreaties guide our life in peace.
Πολλά δεινά υπέστη η Εκκλησία στο πέρασμα των αιώνων από την ανάμιξη της πολιτικής εξουσίας στα εσωτερικά της ζητήματα. Στην φάλαγγα των Μαρτύρων ακολουθεί η χορεία των Ομολογητών, που διώχθηκαν, φυλακίσθηκαν, ταλαιπωρήθηκαν κι απέθαναν, επειδή με κανέναν τρόπο δεν δέχθηκαν να πετάξουν "τα άγια τοις κυσί". Δυστυχώς η πολιτική εξουσία δεν μπόρεσε πάντα να καταλάβη τα όρια της δικαιοδοσίας της και να ξεχωρίση ό,τι ανήκει στον Καίσαρα κι ό,τι ανήκει στον θεό, Κι όταν ακόμη η πολιτική εξουσία δέχεται την Εκκλησία σαν πνευματική αρχή μέσα στο κράτος, με δικούς της σκοπούς και τρόπους διοικήσεως, και τότε το κάνει, όχι γιατί πιστεύει πάντα στην Εκκλησία, μα τις περισσότερες φορές από πολιτική σκοπιμότητα. Ο ομολογητής Άγιος Μαρτίνος, Πάπας Ρώμης, τον οποίον τιμά σήμερα η Εκκλησία, είναι από τους ιερούς εκείνους άνδρας, που επλήρωσαν την ανάμιξη της πολιτικής εξουσίας στα εσωτερικά της Εκκλησίας.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Μαρτῖνος Πάπας Ῥώμης
Γεννήθηκε στὴν κεντρικὴ Ἰταλία, στὸ Τόδι τῆς Ὀμβρικῆς. Ἔγινε Πάπας Ῥώμης τὴν ἐποχὴ ποὺ τὴν Ἐκκλησία ταλαιπωροῦσε ἡ αἵρεση τῶν Μονοθελητῶν. Δυστυχῶς, τότε καὶ ἡ Ἐκκλησία τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως εἶχε πέσει στὰ δίχτυα αὐτῆς τῆς αἵρεσης, διότι ὁ Πατριάρχης Παῦλος ὁ Β´ ἦταν ὑπέρμαχος τοῦ Μονοθελητισμοῦ, μαζὶ μὲ τὸν αὐτοκράτορα Κώνστα τὸν Β´. Ὁ Πάπας Μαρτῖνος, ὑπέρμαχος τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας, προσπάθησε μὲ ἐπιστολή του, ἀλλὰ καὶ μὲ εἰδικοὺς ἀπεσταλμένους κληρικούς, νὰ ἐπαναφέρει τὸν Πατριάρχη Παῦλο στὸ ὀρθόδοξο δόγμα. Μάταια, ὅμως. Ὁ Πατριάρχης, ἐπηρεαζόμενος ἀπὸ τὸν αὐτοκράτορα, ἐπέμενε στὸ Μονοθελητισμὸ καὶ ἐξόρισε τοὺς ἀπεσταλμένους τοῦ Μαρτίνου σὲ διάφορα νησιά. Μάλιστα, ὁ Κώνστας ὁ Β´ ἔστειλε καὶ συνέλαβαν μὲ δόλο καὶ τὸν ἴδιο τὸ Μαρτῖνο καὶ ἀφοῦ τὸν ὁδήγησαν αἰχμάλωτο στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη, κατόπιν τὸν ἐξόρισαν στὴ Χερσώνα. Ἐκεῖ, πέθανε στὶς 16 Σεπτεμβρίου τοῦ 655, ἀφοῦ κυβέρνησε τὴν ἐκκλησία του ἕξι χρόνια. Τὸ σπουδαιότερο, ὅμως, εἶναι ὅτι ὁ θάνατος τὸν βρῆκε ἀγωνιζόμενο στὶς ἐπάλξεις τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας, «ὀρθοτομοῦντα τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας». Δηλαδή, νὰ διδάσκει ὀρθά, χωρὶς πλάνη, τὸ λόγο τῆς ἀλήθειας. (Ἡ μνήμη του, ἀπὸ ὁρισμένους Συναξαριστές, ἐπαναλαμβάνεται καὶ στὶς 16 καὶ 20 Σεπτεμβρίου).
Μνήμη Δύο Ἁγίων Δυτικῶν Ἐπισκόπων
Οἱ δυὸ ὁμολογητὲς αὐτοὶ δυτικοὶ ἐπίσκοποι, ἐξορίστηκαν στὴ Χερσώνα μαζὶ μὲ τὸν Ἅγ. Μαρτῖνο, ὅπου μετὰ ἀπὸ πολλὲς ταλαιπωρίες πέθαναν.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Κυντιλιανός. Μάξιμος καὶ Δάδας
Ἔζησαν στὰ χρόνια του αὐτοκράτορα Διοκλητιανοῦ, καὶ κατάγονταν ἀπὸ τὴν Ὀζοβία. Ὅταν ἔγινε ὁ διωγμὸς κατὰ τῶν χριστιανῶν, φυλακίστηκαν. Κατόπιν τοὺς κτύπησαν σκληρὰ καὶ τοὺς ἔριξαν πάλι στὴ φυλακή. Ἐκεῖ οἱ εἰδωλολάτρες κατέβαλαν πολλὲς καὶ ποικίλες προσπάθειες, γιὰ νὰ τοὺς παρασύρουν στὴν ἄρνηση τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Αὐτοὶ ὅμως ἔμειναν πιστοὶ μέχρι τέλους καὶ ἀξιώθηκαν τοῦ μαρτυρικοῦ στεφάνου, ἀφοῦ ἀποκεφαλίστηκαν γιὰ τὴν πίστη τους.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἐλευθέριος ὁ Πέρσης
Ὁ Ἅγιος αὐτὸς ἦταν χριστιανὸς ἀπὸ τὴν Περσία καὶ πῆγε στὸν ἐπίσκοπο Συμεὼν γιὰ νὰ διδαχθεῖ τελειότερα τὸν λόγο τῆς ἀληθείας. Ὅταν ἐπέστρεφε στὸ σπίτι του, στὸ δρόμο, δίδασκε στοὺς προσερχόμενους σ᾿ αὐτὸν τὰ περὶ τῆς οἰκονομίας τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Ἔτσι κατόρθωσε νὰ φέρει στὴ Χριστιανικὴ πίστη πολλοὺς ἀπίστους καὶ νὰ τοὺς βαπτίσει. Οἱ πυρολάτρες ὅμως Πέρσες τὸν κατάγγειλαν στὸν βασιλιά, ὁ ὁποῖος τὸν συνέλαβε καὶ ἀφοῦ δὲν μπόρεσε νὰ τὸν μεταπείσει ὁ ἴδιος, τὸν παρέδωσε στοὺς ἀρχιμάγους γιὰ νὰ τὸν πείσουν αὐτοὶ ν᾿ ἀρνηθεῖ τὸν Χριστό. Ἀφοῦ καὶ αὐτοί, κατόπιν πολλῶν βασανιστηρίων, δὲν μπόρεσαν νὰ τὸ κατορθώσουν, τελικὰ τὸν ἀποκεφάλισαν καὶ ἔτσι πῆρε τὸ ἀμάραντο στεφάνι τοῦ μαρτυρίου.
Hieromartyr Artemon, presbyter of Laodicea in Syria (303)
At the time of Diocletian's persecutions, he was a very old man, having served as a reader for sixteen years, then a deacon for twenty-eight years, and finally as a priest for thirty years, for a total of seventy-four years. The pagan judge put him in the Temple of Aesculapius, where large snakes were kept and worshiped as gods. Though the judge meant for Artemon to be attacked by the snakes, the holy priest immobilized them with the sign of the Cross, brought them out of the temple and, in front of the pagan priests, breathed on the snakes, which died instantly. The chief priest, Vitalis, fell to his knees and cried 'Great is the Christian God!' Artemon baptised him along with several of his friends.
The unrepentant judge then condemned Artemon to be thrown into burning pitch, but the judge himself was thrown off his horse into the pitch and died. After this, Artemon went free for a time and spent his time teaching the Faith to his people ("accompanied always by two tame deer," says St Nikolia Velimirovic!). But he was arrested again and beheaded in the year 303.
St Martin the Confessor, pope of Rome (655)
"Martin became Pope on July 5th, 649, at the time of a furious quarrel between the Orthodox and the Monothelite heretics. Constans the Second, Heraclius' grandson, was on the throne at the time, and Paul was Patriarch of Constantinople. To restore peace in the Church, the Emperor himself wrote a dogmatic decree, the Typos, which leaned heavily towards heresy. Pope Martin summoned a Council of 105 bishops, at which the Emperor's statement was condemned. At the same time, the Pope wrote a letter to Patriarch Paul, begging him to uphold the purity of the Orthodox faith and to counsel the Emperor to reject the theories of the heretics. This letter infuriated both the Patriarch and the Emperor. The Emperor sent one of his generals, Olympius, to take the Pope to Constantinople in bonds. The general did not dare to bind the Pope with his own hands, but instructed one of his soldiers to kill him with the sword in church. But, when the soldier entered the church with his sword concealed, he was instantly blinded. So, by the providence of God, Martin escaped death. At that time, the Saracens fell upon Sicily, and Olympius went off there, where he died. Then, by the intrigues of the heretic Patriarch Paul, the Emperor sent a second general, Theodore, to bind and take the Pope on the charge that he, the Pope, was in collusion with the Saracens and that he did not reverence the most holy Mother of God. [!!] When the general arrived in Rome and read the accusation against the Pope, he replied that it was a libel; that he had no contact of any sort with the Saracens, the opponents of Christianity, 'and whoever does not confess the most holy Mother of God and do her reverence, let him be damned in this age and in that which is to come.' But this did not affect the general's decision. The Pope was bound and taken to Constantinople, where he lay long in prison in great sickness, tortured by both anxiety and hunger,until he was finally sentenced to exile in Cherson, where he lived for two years before his death. He gave his soul into the hands of the Lord, for whom he had suffered so greatly, in 655. The evil Patriarch, Paul,died two years before him and, when the Emperor visited him on his deathbed, he smote his head against the wall, confessing with tears that he had greatly sinned against Pope Martin and asking the Emperor to set Martin free.' (Prologue)
In some menaia he is commemorated on April 14.
The PriestMartyr Artemon was born of Christian parents in Syrian Laodiceia in the first half of the III Century. From the time of his youthful years he dedicated himself to the service of the Church. At 16 years of age the saint was made a reader and in this position he laboured during the course of 12 years. For his zealousness in Divine Services, Sainted-bishop Sisinios ordained him to the dignity of deacon. Saint Artemon did also this service with fervour and diligence for 28 years, after which he was ordained to the priesthood. And in this dignity Saint Artemon served the Church of God for 33 years, preaching the Christian faith amongst pagans. When the emperor Diocletian (284-305) began a fierce persecution against christians, Saint Artemon was already old. The emperor issued an edict, that all christians were to offer sacrifice to idols.
Saint Sisinios, knowing about the impending arrival in the Laodiceian district of the military-commander Patricius, went together with the priest Artemon into the pagan-temple of the goddess Artemis. There they smashed and burnt the idols.
Afterwards, Saint Sisinios and Saint Artemon gathered the flock into the church and heatedly exhorted the christians to remain firm in the faith and not fear the threats of torturers.
Having arrived in Laodiceia, Patricius made a five-day celebration in honour of the pagan gods, and then went off to the temple of Artemis to offer sacrifice. He learnt who it was that had destroyed the temple, and set off with a detachment of soldiers to the church where the christians were praying. Not yet having gotten in front of the church, Patricius suddenly felt a chill, and afterwards heat, such that it left him hardly alive, and they entered into the first house they found along the way. "The Christians have put a curse on me, and this their God tormenteth me", -- he said to those about him. The prayers of Patricius to the idols did not relieve his sufferings. He dispatched a messenger to Saint Sisinios and asked for his help, promising by way of thanks to make a gold statue of the bishop. The Saint answered: "Thy gold keep to thyself, but if thou wishest to be healed, believe in Christ".
Patricius was afraid of dying and he declared that he believed in Christ. Through the prayer of Saint Sisinios the affliction left him. But even a miracle having been worked did not alter the obdurate soul of the pagan. Although he did not touch Saint Sisinios, he however set off to enforce the imperial edict against other christians in the city of Caesarea. Along the way he encountered an old man, for whom there went in pairs six wild donkeys and two deer. This man was the priest Artemon.
To Patricius' query, how he was able to lead after him these wild beasts, Saint Artemon answered, that everything in the world confesses the Name of Christ and with true faith in Christ nothing is impossible.
Patricius learned from the pagans that the old man he met along the way -- was the same Artemon, who had destroyed the pagan temple of Artemis. He gave orders to seize him and take him to the city of Caesarea.
Saint Artemon went along with the soldiers without fear, but he ordered the animals to go to Saint Sisinios.
One of the donkeys received the gift of speech from God and told the sainted-bishop that he had come from Saint Artemon. The sainted-bishop sent him in Caesarea a blessing and prosphora by deacon.
In Caesarea Patricius summoned Saint Artemon to trial and began to try to force him to offer sacrifice in the pagan temple of Asclepios. In this pagan temple there lived many poisonous vipers. The pagan priest never opened up the doors, nor previously carried in the sacrifice to the idol. But Saint Artemon, calling on the Name of Jesus Christ, went into the temple and let out from there the plethora of snakes. The pagans turned in flight, but the saint stopped them and by his breath killed the snakes. One of the pagan priests, Bitalios, believed in Christ and asked Saint Artemon to baptise him.
Patricius thought that Saint Artemon killed the snakes by means of sorcery, and he again started to interrogate and torture him. At this point in time there arrived in Caesarea the donkey which had spoken with Saint Sisinios. The donkey lay down at the feet of the martyr, and afterwards again having received from God the gift of speech, it denounced Patricius, predicting for him an impending death in a boiling cauldron. Patricius was scared, that the miracles done by Saint Artemon would draw still more people to him, and he gave orders to execute him.
The filled an enormous cauldron with boiling tar. Soldiers were needed to throw Saint Artemon therein. But when Patricius rode up on horseback to the kettle, wanting to be sure that the tar was indeed boiling, two Angels in the guise of eagles seized and threw him into the cauldron, but Saint Artemon remained alive. Through the prayer of the saint there issued from the ground a spring of water, in which he baptised the pagan priest Bitalios and many pagans, who had come to believe in Christ. On the following morning Saint Artemon communed the newly-baptised with the Holy Mysteries.
The bishop of Caesarea went to visit with Saint Artemon. He cleared off the place where the martyr suffered, and afterwards was built a church there. Many of the baptised were ordained to the deaconate and priesthood, and Bitalios was made bishop of Palestine. The Priestmartyr Artemon, through a calling by the Divine Voice, went preaching the Gospel into Asia, to the settlement of Bulos. Along the way an Angel appeared to him and transported him openly in view of the villagers. He converted many there to faith in Christ. Pagans seized the saint and beheaded him (+ 303).
The Holy Martyr Criscentios was descended from an illustrious family and lived in Lycian Myra. One time, when a throng of city inhabitants were on the way to the pagan temple, he began to urge them to forsake paganism and come to Christ. This incident became known to the city governor.
When the governor asked the saint about his parentage, the saint -- not wishing to bring unpleasantness to his parents -- said nothing except that he was a christian. The governor knew the father of Saint Criscentios and wanting to do him a favour, he suggested to Saint Criscentios to offer sacrifice to idols only in appearance, while in soul remaining a christian.
To this the holy martyr boldly answered: "It would be impossible for the body not to do that which the soul thinks, since the soul governs and moves the body". They beat the holy martyr Criscentios and gnashed at him with iron, and then burnt him in a flaming bon-fire.
Sainted Andrew of Crete (+ 740, Comm. 4 July) mentions about the Martyr Criscentios in his Sermon on the day of memory of Sainted Nicholas the Wonderworker -- 6 December -- also of Lycian Myra.
The Holy Martyress Thomaida was born into a Christian family in the city of Alexandria. In her childhood she was educated in piety and loved to read Holy Scripture.
At 15 years of age the girl entered into marriage with a fisherman, -- also a Christian. The young couple lived in the household of the husband's family, where Saint Thomaida was loved for her mild and gentle disposition, and virtue and prudence.
The father-in-law of Saint Thomaida, at the prompting of the devil, was captivated by her beauty. When his son went out at night for fishing, he began seeking to lead his daughter-in-law into sin. In vain did Saint Thomaida admonish the senseless old man, reminding him about the last Judgement and about the penalty for sin. Infuriated by the steadfastness of Saint Thomaida, he thoughtlessly seized a sword and began to threaten her with death. But Saint Thomaida answered resolutely: "Even if thou cut me in two, I shall not stray from the commandments of the Lord". Overcome with passion, the father-in-law swung the sword and struck Saint Thomaida. The saint received a martyr's death for her prudence and faith in the commandments of God in the year 476.
Divine chastisement befell the murderer. He instantly became blinded and was not able to go out the door to flee. In the morning there arrived companions of the saint's husband. They opened the doors and saw the body of the saint and the blood-stained blind old man. The murderer himself confessed his evil deed and asked to be condemned to death by execution.
During this time there arrived in Alexandria from a wilderness skete the Monk Daniel. He bid the monks of the nearby Oktodecadia monastery to take the body of the martyress to bury in the monastery cemetery. Some of the monks were perplexed, how it should be possible to bury a woman with monks. The monk Daniel answered: "This girl -- is a mother for me and you. She died for purity".
After a solemn funeral the Monk Daniel returned to his own skete. Soon one of the young monks began to complain to him, that fleshly passions tormented him. The monk Daniel ordered him to go and pray at the grave of the holy martyress Thomaida. The monk did the bidding of the elder. During the time of prayer at the grave he fell into a light sleep. Saint Thomaida then appeared to him and said: "Father, have my blessing and go in peace".
Having awakened, the monk felt at joy and peace in his soul. And after this the fleshly struggle no longer disturbed him. Abba Daniel explained to him: "The blessing -- was the gift of the martyress' prudence; the ascetic deeds of purity hold such power before God".
In later times many found at the grave of Saint Thomaida both spiritual joy and release from their passions. The relics of Saint Thomaida were transferred to Constantinople to one of the women's monasteries. In the year 1420 the Russian pilgrim archdeacon Zosima viewed them.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE PRIEST-MARTYR ARTEMON
Artemon was a priest in Laodicea during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. Before his tormenting judge, he spoke of himself: "I am called Artemon, a slave of Christ, my God. For sixteen years I was a lector and read books in the Church of my God. For twenty-eight years, I was a deacon and read the Holy Gospel. With the help of Christ, I have fulfilled thirty-three years as a presbyter teaching men and placing them on the path of salvation." The judge brought him to the temple of Aesculapius, where the soothsayers nursed large reptiles dedicated to this "god." They all assumed that the snakes would bite Artemon. Artemon crossed himself and by the power of the cross nailed all the snakes to the ground rendering them unable to move. After that, he brought them all out into the courtyard, breathed upon them and all of them died instantly. All of the soothsayers were in great fear. Upon seeing this miracle, Vitalis, the chief soothsayer of this temple, fell to his knees before Artemon and cried out: "Great is the Christian God!" The martyr then baptized him along with several of his friends. The malicious judge remained persistent in his malice and tortured the aged Artemon in various ways. Once, he wanted to throw him into a vat of boiling pitch but, he fell off his horse into the pitch and he himself was incinerated. Two eagles were seen who swooped down upon the judge, lifted him from the horse and dropped him into the pitch. St. Artemon remained free for a period of time and traveled about, always accompanied with his two beloved deer, and instructed the people. Again, he was captured and was beheaded in the year 303 A.D. and his soul took up habitation in the Kingdom of Christ our God, Whom St. Artemon faithfully served.
2. THE HOLY MARTYR CRESCENS
Crescens was from the city of Myra in Lycia. He was an honored and well known citizen. He openly confessed his faith in Christ and mocked the dead idols. Because of that he was burned to death by the pagans.
3. THE HOLY MARTYR THOMAIS
Thomais was born in Alexandria of honorable parents. She was taught piety from her youth. At the age of fifteen, she was married to an honorable man. Her father-in-law was a vile old man and in the absence of his son, attacked his daughter-in-law and desired to seduce her. Becoming terrified, Thomais, in fear reminded her father-in-law of the Law of God and slipped out of his hands. After a prolonged struggle, the father-in-law drew a knife and murdered his daughter-in-law and then cut her in half. At that moment, the punishment of God fell upon him. He was blinded instantly and was unable to find the door from which to leave. Here, in this room, he was apprehended in the act and turned over to the court which sentenced him to death. Thus, Thomais suffered for the Commandment of God regarding spousal fidelity and chastity. After that, many who would be tempted by adulterous passions directed their prayers to St. Thomais and received strong assistance from her. Daniel the great ascetic, translated her relics to the Scete [Monastery] and buried them in the cemetery of the heiromonks [priest-monks]. St. Thomais suffered in the year 476 A.D.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Whoever suffers because of his evil deeds
Does not have a share with the angels:
Whoever suffers for the will of God,
And for the sake of Christ, misfortunes endures,
Either from the faithful or from the unfaithful,
That one, will gaze upon the face of God.
Thomais, handmaiden of God,
According to her heart, was, a true, devoutly-praying person [Bogomoljka].
But, for the sake of God's law, she suffered
From her father-in-law, arrogant.
Leave, O father-in-law, my poor body alone!
Of the Most High God are you not afraid?
The human body, even though it is plain mud
Because of the soul, by God, to us, it is given.
If, with sin, the body we defile,
Of our soul, we are breaking the wings,
From the Living God, we are separating it,
And to the unclean one, we give it as a booty.
From passion blind, the father-in-law axed her to pieces;
May God forgive! The righteous one uttered.
But to the murderer, blindness befell -
The two-fold blindman, around Hades crawls.
When they brought the martyr Crescens, a nobleman of Myra in Lycia, to court the judge, in order to persuade him to worship idols, counseled him for a long time. When he did not succeed, he finally said to Crescens: "Worship [idols] only in the body and bow down before your God in the spirit!" To that, the honorable Crescens replied: "The body cannot do anything independent of the soul, which is its driving force and leader." For that Crescens was killed. An obvious lesson that a Christian cannot be duplicitous. Still another lesson: A Christian has an obligation to serve his Creator even with the body and not only with the soul. By this is refuted the false position of certain Christians who live physically as pagans and meanwhile praise themselves that they believe in God and love God with their souls. They divide themselves in two and place themselves in the service of two masters, even though the holiest lips [The Lips of Jesus Christ] proclaimed that as an impossibility.
To contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:
1. How because of Thomas, momentarily, the only one unbelieving among the disciples, He appeared again in His glorified Body;
2. How Thomas, believed again, when he placed his finger on the scars of the wounds of the All-Pure Body of the Lord and believed.
About the test by Thomas
"My Lord and my God" (St. John 20:28).
When the Apostle Thomas felt the wounds of the Lord Jesus, he cried out: "My Lord and my God!"
When Mary Magdalene heard the voice of the resurrected One in her soul, she cried out: "My Lord and my God!"
When Saul saw the light and heard the words of the resurrected One, he acknowledged: " My Lord and my God!"
When the pagans, in amazement, observed how the countless numbers of martyrs joyfully undergo pains and asked them: "Who is this Christ?" All of them replied: "My Lord and my God!"
When the scoffers ridiculed the army of ascetics and asked them: "Who is He, for Whom they took upon themselves the awesome burden of mortification? They all had one answer: "My Lord and my God!"
When the scorners derided the virgins who vowed their virginity and asked them: "Who is He for Whom they renounced marriage?" They all had one answer: "My Lord and my God!"
When the avaricious in astonishment asked the very wealthy: "Who is He for Whom they distribute their wealth and become beggarly?" All of them replied, one and the same: "My Lord and my God!"
Some have seen Him and have said: "My Lord and my God!" Some have only heard Him and said: "My Lord and my God!" Some have only felt Him and said: "My Lord and my God!" Some have only observed Him in the fabric of events and in the destinies of peoples and said: "My Lord and my God!" Some have felt His presence in their lives and cried out: "My Lord and my God!" Some have recognized Him by some sign, on themselves or on others, and cried out: "My Lord and my God!" Still some have only heard about Him from others and believed and cried out: "My Lord and my God!" Truly, these last ones are the most blessed!
Let us also exclaim, with all our hearts, regardless of how we have come to recognize Him or how we have come to learn about Him: "My Lord and my God!"