FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Euplus the Holy Martyr & Archdeacon of Cantania
Our Holy Father Niphonus, Patriarch of Constantinople
Commemoration of St. Spyridon's Miracle in Corfu against the Turkish invasion of 1716
Afterfeast of the Transfiguration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans 15:30-33
BRETHREN, I appeal to you, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Πρὸς ῾Ρωμαίους 15:30-33
Ἀδελφοί, παρακαλῶ δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, καὶ διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης τοῦ πνεύματος, συναγωνίσασθαί μοι ἐν ταῖς προσευχαῖς ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ πρὸς τὸν θεόν· ἵνα ῥυσθῶ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀπειθούντων ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ, καὶ ἵνα ἡ διακονία μου ἡ εἰς Ἱερουσαλὴμ εὐπρόσδεκτος γένηται τοῖς ἁγίοις· ἵνα ἐν χαρᾷ ἔλθω πρὸς ὑμᾶς διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ, καὶ συναναπαύσωμαι ὑμῖν. Ὁ δὲ θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν. Ἀμήν.
The Reading is from Matthew 17:24-27; 18:1-4
At that time, the collectors of the half-shekel tax went up to Peter and said, "Does not your teacher pay the tax?" He said, "Yes." And when he came home, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from others?" And when he said, "From others," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook, and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel; take that and give it to them for me and for yourself."
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 17.24-27, 18.1
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, προσῆλθον οἱ τὰ δίδραχμα λαμβάνοντες τῷ Πέτρῳ καὶ εἶπον· ὁ διδάσκαλος ὑμῶν οὐ τελεῖ τὰ δίδραχμα; λέγει, ναί. καὶ ὅτε εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν, προέφθασεν αὐτὸν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς λέγων· τί σοι δοκεῖ, Σίμων; οἱ βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς ἀπὸ τίνων λαμβάνουσι τέλη ἢ κῆνσον; ἀπὸ τῶν υἱῶν αὐτῶν ἢ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων; λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Πέτρος· ἀπὸ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων. ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· ἄραγε ἐλεύθεροί εἰσιν οἱ υἱοί. ἵνα δὲ μὴ σκανδαλίσωμεν αὐτούς, πορευθεὶς εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν βάλε ἄγκιστρον καὶ τὸν ἀναβάντα πρῶτον ἰχθὺν ἆρον, καὶ ἀνοίξας τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ εὑρήσεις στατῆρα· ἐκεῖνον λαβὼν δὸς αὐτοῖς ἀντὶ ἐμοῦ καὶ σοῦ. Ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ προσῆλθον οἱ μαθηταὶ τῷ ᾿Ιησοῦ λέγοντες· τίς ἄρα μείζων ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν; καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς παιδίον ἔστησεν αὐτὸ ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν καὶ εἶπεν· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἐὰν μὴ στραφῆτε καὶ γένησθε ὡς τὰ παιδία, οὐ μὴ εἰσέλθητε εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν. ὅστις οὖν ταπεινώσει ἑαυτὸν ὡς τὸ παιδίον τοῦτο, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ μείζων ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΙΑ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μεγαλομάρτυρος Εὔπλου τοῦ Διακόνου.
Ἐκ τῆς στολῆς μέν, σεπτὸς Εὖπλος Λευΐτης.
Ἐκ τῆς τομῆς δέ, στερρὸς ὄντως ὁπλίτης.
Πλήγη ἑνδεκάτῃ ξίφει Εὖπλος κοπήεντι.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῶν Ἐγκαινίων τοῦ σεβασμίου καὶ περικαλλοῦς οἴκου καὶ θείου Ναοῦ τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Δεσποίνης ἡμῶν Θεοτόκου τῆς Ἐλεούσης.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Διήγησις περὶ τῆς ἀχειροποιήτου Εἰκόνος τοῦ Κυρίου καὶ Θεοῦ καὶ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
Μνήμη τῶν ἁγίων μαρτύρων Νεοφύτου, Ζήνωνος, Δαΐου, Μάρκου, Μακαρίου καὶ Δαϊανοῦ, διὰ πυρὸς τελειωθέντων.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Πασσαρίων ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Ταῖς τῶν Ἁγίων σου πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεὸς ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
This Martyr was from Catania in Sicily and contested during the reign of Diocletian. He presented himself of his own accord to Calvisianus the Governor, who put him to exceedingly harsh torments. As Euplus was on the rack, Calvisianus commanded him to worship Mars, Apollo, and Aesculapius; he answered he worshipped the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He was beheaded in the year 304.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ο Μάρτυς σου Κύριε, έν τή αθλήσει αυτού, τό στέφος εκομίσατο τής αφθαρσίας, εκ σού τού Θεού ημών, έχων γάρ τήν ισχύν σου, τούς τυράννους καθείλεν, έθραυσε καί δαιμόνων, τά ανίσχυρα θράση, αυτού ταίς ικεσίαις Χριστέ, σώσον τάς ψυχάς ημών
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Kontakion in the First Tone
Τούς νόμους τού Χριστού, ταίς χερσί περιφέρων, επέστης εκβοών, τοίς εχθροίς εν σταδίω, Αυτόκλητος πάρειμι, εναθλήσων στερρότατα, όθεν κλίνας σου, περχαρώς τόν αυχένα, υποδέδεξαι, τήν εκτομήν τήν τού ξίφους, τελέσας τόν δρόμον σου.
While bearing in thy hands the divine laws of Christ God, thou camest to thy foes, in the stadium crying: Now being self-called, I come to contend with most firm resolve. Wherefore, having bent thy neck in great jubilation, thou was then beheaded with the sword, O wise Euplus, completing thy valiant course.
Apolytikion in the Grave Tone
Μετεμορθώθης εν τώ όρει Χριστέ ο Θεός, δείξας τοίς Μαθηταίς σου τήν δόξαν σου, καθώς ήδυναντο, Λάμψον καί ημίν τοίς αμαρτωλοίς, τό φώς σου τό αϊδιον, πρεσβείαις τής Θεοτόκου, φωτοδότα δόξα σοι.
You were transfigured on the Mount, Christ God revealing Your glory to Your disciples, insofar as they could comprehend. Illuminate us sinners also with Your everlasting light, through the intercessions of the Theotokos. Giver of light, glory to You.
Ενός διακόνου την μνήμη γιορτάζει και σήμερα η Εκκλησία, του αγίου Εύπλου. Όταν τον έπιασαν, κρατούσε στα χέρια του το Ευαγγέλιο. "Διάβασέ μου κάτι, να δω τι γράφει", του είπε ο κριτής μπροστά στον οποίο τον ωδήγησαν. Κι ο άγιος άνοιξε και διάβασε· "Μακάριοι οι δεδιωγμένοι ένεκεν δικαιοσύνης...". Χαρά σε κείνους, αλήθεια, που διώκονται για την δικαιοσύνη, σε κείνους που έρχονται σε αντίθεση προς την παράνομη θέληση και την ωμή βία των ισχυρών. Δεν είν' ευχάριστο πράγμα να διώκεται κανείς, να ονειδίζεται και να υποφέρη, μα όταν οι διωγμοί κι ο θάνατος ακόμα είναι για την δικαιοσύνη, για την αλήθεια δηλαδή του Θεού και για το δίκηο του φτωχού, τότε δεν υπάρχει μεγαλύτερη χαρά και τιμή για κείνον που διώκεται. "Υπέρ αληθείας μάχου μέχρι θανάτου", έλεγαν οι αρχαίοι, κι η Εκκλησία γι' αυτό τιμά τους Μάρτυρας· διώχθηκαν για τον Χριστό, που είναι η αλήθεια κι έμειναν στον αγώνα τους οι πιστοί "άχρι θανάτου".
Ὁ Ἅγιος Εὖπλος ὁ Διάκονος, ὁ Μεγαλομάρτυρας
Ἔζησε στὰ τέλη τοῦ 3ου αἰῶνα μ.Χ., ὅταν αὐτοκράτορας ἦταν ὁ Διοκλητιανός. Γεννήθηκε στὴν Κατάνη τῆς Σικελίας, ὅπου ἦταν καὶ διάκονος τῆς ἐκεῖ Ἐκκλησίας. Θερμὸς κήρυκας τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου ὁ Εὖπλος, προσπαθοῦσε νὰ στερεώσει τὴν πίστη τῶν διωκόμενων χριστιανῶν καὶ τοὺς προέτρεπε νὰ προτιμοῦν τὰ πιὸ φρικτὰ μαρτύρια παρὰ νὰ ἀρνηθοῦν τὸ Χριστό. Διότι «εἰ ὑπομένομεν, καὶ συμβασιλεύσομεν εἰ ἀρνούμεθα κακεῖνος ἀρνήσεται ἡμᾶς». Ἐάν, δηλαδή, δείχνουμε ὑπομονή, τότε καὶ θὰ βασιλεύσουμε μαζὶ μ᾿ αὐτὸν (τὸ Χριστό). Ἐάν, ὅμως, Τὸν ἀρνούμαστε, καὶ Ἐκεῖνος θὰ μᾶς ἀρνηθεῖ. Οἱ εἰδωλολάτρες, βλέποντας αὐτὴ τὴν δραστηριότητα τοῦ Εὔπλου, τὸν κατήγγειλαν στὸν Ἔπαρχο Καλβισιανό. Αὐτὸς προσπάθησε μὲ συζήτηση νὰ πείσει τὸν Εὖπλο ὅτι ἦταν μωρία νὰ πιστεύει στὸν Τριαδικὸ Θεὸ καὶ ἔπρεπε τὸ συντομότερο νὰ Τὸν ἀρνηθεῖ. Ὁ Εὖπλος ἀκαταμάχητος συζητητής, διέλυσε ἕνα πρὸς ἕνα ὅλα τὰ ἐπιχειρήματα τοῦ ἐπάρχου. Ὁ Καλβισιανός, ἀφοῦ εἶδε ὅτι δὲν τὰ ἔβγαζε πέρα μὲ τὸν Εὖπλο, διέταξε καὶ τοῦ ἔσχισαν τὶς σάρκες μὲ σιδερένια νύχια. Κατόπιν τοῦ ἔσπασαν τὶς κνῆμες μὲ σφυριὰ καὶ στὸ τέλος τὸν ἀποκεφάλισαν. Ἐνῷ ὁ Εὖπλος ἐξακολουθοῦσε νὰ μὴν ἀρνεῖται τὸ Χριστό, μέχρι καὶ τὴν τελευταία του πνοή.
Ἐγκαίνια Ἱεροῦ Ναοῦ τῆς Θεοτόκου τῆς Ἐλεούσης
Διήγηση γιὰ τὴν Ἀχειροποίητο Εἰκόνα τοῦ Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ
Πρόκειται γιὰ παρόμοια διήγηση μὲ αὐτὴ τῆς 9ης Αὐγούστου. Πάντα βέβαια σύμφωνα μὲ τὴν παράδοση. Ἀναφέρονται λεπτομερῶς καὶ οἱ δυὸ διηγήσεις στὸν Συναξαριστὴ τοῦ Ἁγίου Νικόδημου.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Νεόφυτος, Ζήνων, Γάιος, Μᾶρκος, Μακάριος καὶ Γαϊανὸς
Μαρτύρησαν διὰ πυρός. «Τελεῖται δὲ ἡ αὐτῶν Σύναξις ἐν τῷ ἑξαέρῳ οἴκῳ τῶν Ἁγίων καὶ ἐνδόξων Ἀναργύρων Κοσμᾶ καὶ Δαμιανοῦ ἐν τῆς Δαρείου».
Ὁ Ὅσιος Πασσαρίων
Ὁ Ἅγιος Νήφων Πατριάρχης Κωνσταντινουπόλεως
Πρόκειται γιὰ τὸν Πατριάρχη Νήφωνα τὸν Β´, ποὺ πατριάρχευσε τρεῖς φορές: α) 1486-1489 β) 1497-1498 καὶ γ) 1502. Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Πελοπόννησο καὶ γεννήθηκε ἀπὸ τοὺς Μανουὴλ καὶ Μαρία. Τὸ κοσμικό του ὄνομα ἦταν Νικόλαος. Προσκολλήθηκε σὲ κάποιον μοναχὸ Ἀντώνιο καὶ ἔγινε μοναχὸς στὴν Ἐπίδαυρο μὲ τὸ ὄνομα Νήφων. Μετὰ τὸν θάνατο τοῦ γέροντά του, πῆγε στὸ κάστρο τῆς Νάρδας, ὅπου γνώρισε τὸν ἐνάρετο Ἁγιορείτη Ζαχαρία, μὲ τὸν ὁποῖο ἐγκαταστάθηκε στὴ Μονὴ τῆς Θεοτόκου στὴν Ἀχρίδα. Ὅταν ὁ Ζαχαρίας ἐκλέχτηκε ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Ἀχριδῶν, ὁ Νήφων ἀναχώρησε στὸ Ἅγιον Ὄρος, ὅπου χειροτονήθηκε διάκονος καὶ ἱερέας στὴ Μονὴ Διονυσίου. Ἀπὸ τὴν Μονὴ αὐτὴ κλήθηκε νὰ γίνει Μητροπολίτης Θεσσαλονίκης καὶ ἀπὸ ἐκεῖ, μετὰ τὸν θάνατο τοῦ Συμεών, ἀνέλαβε τὸν οἰκουμενικὸ θρόνο. Ἀπομακρύνθηκε δυὸ φορὲς ἀπὸ τὸν θρόνο καὶ κατέφυγε στὴ Βλαχία καὶ ἀπὸ κεῖ στὸ Ἅγιον Ὄρος στὴ Μονὴ Διονυσίου. Τὴν τρίτη φορὰ ποὺ κλήθηκε στὸν Οἰκουμενικὸ θρόνο δὲν πῆγε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη καὶ πέθανε στὴ Μονή, ἀφοῦ ἔζησε ζωὴ ἀσκητική.
Ἀνάμνηση θαύματος Ἁγίου Σπυρίδωνος
Πρόκειται γιὰ τὴν ἐκδίωξη τῶν Ἀγαρηνῶν με θαυματουργικὸ τρόπο ἀπὸ τὸν Ἅγιο Σπυρίδωνα, ὅταν αὐτοὶ ἀπειλοῦσαν μὲ ὁλοκληρωτικὴ καταστροφὴ τὴν Κέρκυρα τὸ 1716.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Ἀναστάσιος ὁ Πανερὰς καὶ Δημήτριος ὁ Μπεγιάζης
Οἱ καλλίνικοι αὐτοὶ Ἅγιοι Νεομάρτυρες τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ μὲν Ἀναστάσιος, ἡλικίας 20 χρονῶν, καταγόταν ἀπὸ τοὺς Ἀσωμάτους, ὁ δὲ Δημήτριος, 18 χρονῶν, ἀπὸ τὴν Ἁγιάσο τοῦ νησιοῦ Λέσβου. Μαρτύρησαν καὶ οἱ δυὸ γιὰ τὴν Ἁγία Πίστη τοῦ Χριστοῦ στὸν Κασαμπὰ τῆς Μικρᾶς Ἀσίας, τὸ ἔτος 1816 ἢ 1819. Οἱ νεομάρτυρες αὐτοί, ἔκαναν στὸν Κασαμπὰ τὸ ἐπάγγελμα τοῦ καλαθοποιοῦ, πιθανῶς μάλιστα νὰ ἦταν καὶ συγγενεῖς. Ἀλλὰ συγχρόνως μὲ τὴν ἐξάσκηση τοῦ ἐπαγγέλματός τους, κήρυτταν τὸ Εὐαγγέλιο στοὺς Χριστιανούς, ποὺ ἦταν κάτω ἀπὸ τὸν Τούρκικο ζυγό. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ τὸ λόγο οἱ Τοῦρκοι τοὺς συνέλαβαν, τοὺς φυλάκισαν καὶ τοὺς βασάνισαν φρικτά. Ἐπειδὴ ὅμως συνέχιζαν νὰ ὁμολογοῦν καὶ νὰ κηρύττουν τὴν πίστη τους, τοὺς ἀπαγχόνισαν κάτω ἀπὸ ἕναν πλάτανο. Στὸ ὄνομα καὶ τῶν δυὸ Ἁγίων, ἀνεγέρθηκε στὴν Ἁγιάσο μεγαλοπρεπὴς ναός, ὅπου καὶ γιορτάζεται ἡ μνήμη τους 11 Αὐγούστου.
Holy Martyr and Archdeacon Euplus of Catania (304)
He was a deacon from Catania in Sicily during the reign of Diocletian. During a persecution of Christians there, Euplus presented himself to the governor and proclaimed himself a Christian. While he was being tortured on the rack, the governor ordered him to worship Mars, Apollos, and Aeculapius, but he answered that he worshipped the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He was beheaded in 304. His wonderworking relics are preserved in the village of Vico della Batonia near Naples.
The Holy Martyr Susanna the Virgin, and those with her (295-296)
She was the daughter of Gavinius, a Christian priest in Rome, and the niece of Pope Gaius. The Emperor Diocletian's adopted son Maximian wished to marry Susanna, but she had no desire to marry any one, least of all a pagan. The patricians Claudia and Maxima were sent to Susanna by the Emperor to present Maximian's suit; but instead she turned both of them, and all their households, to the Faith. The enraged Emperor had Claudia, Maxima and their families executed, then had Susanna herself beheaded. The Emperor's wife, Serena, was a secret Christian, and took Susanna's body secretly and buried it. Soon after this Susanna's father Gavinius and her uncle Pope Gaius also met martyrdom.
Saint Niphon, Patriarch of Constantinople (1508)
He was born in Greece and became a monk at a young age, spending many years in asceticism on the Holy Mountain. Against his desire, he was made Bishop of Thessalonika, then Patriarch of Constantinople. He was banished by the Sultan (the Prologue does not say why), served as archbishop in Wallachia for a time, then returned to Dionysiou monastery on the Holy Mountain, where he reposed at the age of ninety. He composed the 'Prayer at Departing' used in the funeral service.
Repose of Fr Georges Florovsky (1979) (July 29 OC)
The Martyr Archdeacon Euplus suffered in the year 304 under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284-305). He served in the Sicilian city of Catania. Always carrying the Gospel with him, Saint Euplus preached constantly to the pagans about Christ. One time, while he read and explained the Gospel to the gathered crowd, they arrested him and took him to the governor of the city, Calvisianus. Saint Euplus confessed himself a Christian and denounced the impiety of idol-worship. For this they sentenced him to torture. They threw the injured saint into prison, where he dwelt at prayer for 7 days. The Lord issued forth a spring of water into the prison to the martyr for the quenching of his thirst. Brought to trial a second time, strengthened and rejoicing, he again confessed his faith in Christ and denounced the torturer for spilling the blood of innocent Christians. The judge commanded to tear off the ears and chop off the head of the saint. When they led the saint to execution, they hung the Gospel on his neck. Having implored time for prayer, the archdeacon began again to read and explain the Gospel to the people. Many of the pagans believed in Christ. The soldiers took hold of the archdeacon and beheaded him with a sword.
The MonkMartyrs Feodor (Theodore) and Vasilii (Basil) of Pechersk pursued asceticism in the XI Century in the Nearer Caves of Kiev. Saint Feodor distributed his riches to the poor, set off to the monastery and settled into the Varangian Cave, adjoining the Caves of the Monk Feodosii (Theodosii). He dwelt here many years in strict temperance. When the enemy sowed sorrow in him about the giving away of his possessions, Saint Vasilii comforted him: "I implore thee, brother Feodor, forget not the reward; if thou wish possessions, take everything that is mine". The Monk Feodor repented himself and dearly loved as a friend the Monk Vasilii, with whom he lived in the cell. One time the Monk Vasilii during the course of three months was on a monastic errand outside the monastery. The devil, having assumed his form, appeared to the Monk Feodor and indicated that there was a treasure, hidden somewhere in the cave by robbers. The monk wanted still to leave the monastery to buy possessions to live in the world. But when the Monk Vasilii returned, the demonic illusion disappeared. From that time the Monk Feodor started to be more attentive to himself. In order not to be distracted by idle thoughts during moments of inactivity, he set up for himself a millstone and by night he ground grain. Thus by long and zealous ascetic action he freed himself from the passion of avarice.
A report reached prince Mstislav Svyatopolkovich, that the Monk Feodor had found much treasure in the cave. He summoned the monk to him and commanded him to show the spot, where the valuables were hidden. Saint Feodor answered the prince, that indeed he had seen in the cave much gold and vessels, but from temptation he together with the Monk Vasilii had buried them, and God took from him the memory, where it was hidden. Not believing the saint, the prince gave orders to torture him to death. They beat Saint Feodor so much, that his hair-shirt was wet with blood, and then they hung him head-downwards, having put beneathe him a bon-fire. In a drunken condition the prince commanded to torture also Saint Vasilii, and then to kill him with an arrow. Dying, the MonkMartyr Vasilii threw the arrow at the feet of prince Mstislav and predicted that he himself would soon be mortally wounded by it. The prophecy was fulfilled: on 15 July 1099 on the wall of the Vladimir fortress prince Mstislav during the time of an internecine war with David Igorevich was suddenly struck in the chest by an arrow through an opening in the timbers, and on the following night he died. Recognising his own arrow, the prince said: "I die because of the monkmartyrs Vasilii and Feodor".
The Monk Feodor (Theodore), Prince of Ostrozh, gained fame with the construction of churches and by his defense of Orthodoxy in Volynia against the enroachment of Papism. He was descended from the lineage of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir (Comm. 15 July), through a great-grandson Svyatopolk-Michael, prince of Turov (1080-1093) and later GreatPrince of Kiev (+ 1113). The first time the name of the Monk-prince Feodor is mentioned is under the year 1386, when the Polish king Jagiello and the Lithuanian prince Vitovt affirmed for him hereditary possession -- of the Ostrozh district and they augmented the Zaslavsk and Koretsk surroundings. In 1410 the Monk-prince Feodor participated in the defeat of the Teutonic Knights of the Catholic Order at the Battle of Gruenwald. In 1422 the holy prince, because of sympathy to the Orthodox in Bohemia, supported the Hussites in their struggle with the German emperor Sigismund. (The holy prince introduced into Russian military arts a particular tactic -- the Hussite formation, i.e. the Taborite, adopted by the Ukrainian Cossacks). In 1432, having gained a series of victories over the Polish forces, Saint Feodor compelled prince Jagiello to protect by law the freedom of Orthodoxy in Volynia. Prince Svidrigailo, having become apprehensive of the strengthening of his ally, locked the Monk Feodor into prison, but the people loving the saint rose up in rebellion, and he was freed. The Monk Feodor was reconciled with the offender and presented himself to him for help in the struggle with the Lithuanian-Polish parties. In 1438 the holy prince participated in a battle with the Tatars. In 1440 with the entering upon the Polish throne of Cazimir, -- youngest son of prince Jagiello, Saint Feodor received the rights of administration of the city of Vladimir, Dubno, Ostrog, and became possessor of extended holdings of the best regions of Podolia and Volynia. All this together with princely power and fame the Monk Feodor left behind, having entered after 1441 the Kievo-Pechersk monastery where, -- having taken on monasticism with the name Feodosii (Theodosii), he pursued asceticism for the salvation of his soul until the time of his repose to God. The year of repose of the Monk Feodor is unknown, but it is without doubt, that he died in the second half of the XV Century. In extreme old age (S. M. Solov'ev in his "History of Russia" reckons the year of his death as 1483). The monk was buried in the Farther Caves of the Monk Feodosii (the Comm. of Sobor/Assemblage of the Monastic Fathers of the Farther Caves is 28 August). The glorification, apparently, was at the end of the XVI Century, since in the year 1638 the priestmonk Athanasii Kal'nophysky testified, that "the Monk Feodor rests in the Theodosiev Cave discovered whole in body".
The Holy Martyress Susanna the Virgin was the daughter of Presbyter Gavinius and a niece of the Holy Pope of Rome Caius (283-296). She was raised in strict Christian piety and in her youthful years dedicated herself to God. The family of the saint occupied a position of kinship with the emperor Diocletian (284-305), to whom there reached reports about her virtue and beauty. Having decided to give Saint Susanna in marriage to his co-ruling emperor Maximian Hercules (284-305), the emperor sent to presbyter Gavinius his own kinsman the dignitary Claudius, and then his own brother Maximus. Both of them together with the wife of Claudius Prepedigna and her sons Alexander and Cythius -- after conversation with the pious family accepted Baptism. Having learned of this, that the entire family of the imperial kinsfolk had been converted to Christianity, Diocletian sent them into exile. Soon they burned the martyrs at Ostia, not far from Rome, and threw the ashes into the sea. They took the holy virgin Susanna to the palace, and the empress was entrusted to persuade her to submit. But the empress, secretly a Christian, supported the martyress in her intention to preserve her virginity for the sake of the Lord. She explained to the emperor about the unwillingness of the virgin to enter into marriage with a pagan. Diocletian gave permission to his co-ruler to dishonour the holy virgin, but an Angel defended her. [here apparently is a lacuna] Macedonius began to urge the martyress to offer sacrifice to the idols. "I offer myself in sacrifice to my Lord", -- she answered. Then Macedonius cut off the head of the martyress. The empress secretly buried the body of the saint; the room, where the murder occurred, was consecrated into a church by Holy Pope Caius. Soon the father of Saint Susanna -- Presbyter Gavinius -- accepted a martyr's end, as also in the year 296 did Sainted Caius.
The Monk Passarion pursued asceticism in the first half of the V Century. He founded a monastery in Jerusalem. He was "chor-episkop" (vicar-bishop) of Palestine, and conversant with the Monk Euthymios the great (Comm. 20 January).
Saint Mary Sugkletika (i.e. of Senate Rank) was healed by the Image of the Saviour Not-Made-by-Hand, having appeared during the reign of the emperor Tiberias (578-582).
Saint Nyphontes, Patriarch of Constantinople, was a native of Greece, and accepted monasticism at Epidaurion. After the death of his elder Anthony, he set off to Athos, where he occupied himself by the copying of books. The saint was later chosen Metropolitan of Soluneia (Thessalonika), and still later occupied the Patriarchal throne in Constantinople and was primate of Valakhia. Banished under accusation, the saint set off to Athos at first to the Baptopedia monastery, and then to the monastery of Saint John the Fore-Runner (Dionyisate). He concealed his dignity and held the lowest position. By a particular revelation his dignity was revealed to the brethren of the monastery. Once, when the saint was returning from the forest, where he had gone for firewood, all the brethren went out towards him on the way and solemnly greeted him as Patriarch. But even after this the saint shared various tasks with the brethren. The monk died on 11 August 1460 at 90 years of age.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE HOLY MARTYR EUPLUS
Euplus was a deacon in Catania, Sicily. Emperor Diocletian dispatched Commander Pentagurus to Sicily to exterminate any Christians he found there. Pentagurus did not find a single Christian, for the few that were there, hid from the persecutor and did not reveal themselves. Then someone accused St. Euplus of taking a book to secret Christians and reading to them. This book was the Holy Gospel. They soon brought him to court, hung that book around his neck and led him to prison. After seven days of imprisonment and hunger Euplus was handed over for torture. While they were beating him with iron rods, Euplus, mockingly said to the torturing judge: "O ignorant one, do you not see that because of God's help, these tortures are for me as a cobweb? If you can, find other harsher tortures, for all of these are as toys." Finally, they led the martyr of Christ out to the scaffold. Then St. Euplus opened the Holy Gospel and read from it to the people for a long time. Many converted to the Faith of Christ. St. Euplus was beheaded in the year 304 A.D. and took up habitation in the Kingdom of Heaven. His miracle-working relics repose in a village near Naples called Vico della Batonia.
2. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR SUSANNA THE VIRGIN, AND OTHERS WITH HER
Susanna was the daughter of a Roman presbyter Gavinius and the niece of Pope Gaius. Gaius and Gavinius were of royal lineage and kinsmen to the then Emperor Diocletian. Emperor Diocletian had an adopted son Maximian Galerius, whom he [Diocletian] wanted to marry Susanna. But Susanna, completely dedicated to Christ the Lord, did not want to hear at all about marriage and particularly not about marriage with an unbaptized man. Those who asked her to marry the emperor's son, the aristocrats, Claudia and Maxima, Susanna converted to the Christian Faith along with their entire household. Enraged by this, the emperor ordered that the executioners take Claudia and Maxima, with their families to Ostia where they were burned alive and their ashes thrown into the sea. However, Susanna was beheaded in the home of Gavinius. The emperor's wife Serena, secretly a Christian, removed Susanna's martyred body at night and honorably buried it, and Pope Gaius converted that house where Susanna was slain into a church and celebrated services there. Shortly following the suffering of this bride of Christ, her father Gavinius and her uncle Pope Gaius also suffered. They all suffered honorably for the Lord and received the wreath of glory in the years 295 A.D. and 296 A.D.
3. SAINT NIPHON, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE
Niphon was born in Greece. He was tonsured a monk in his youth and, at first, lived a life of asceticism outside the Holy Mountain [Athos] and, after that, on the Holy Mountain in various monasteries, remaining the longest in Vatopedi and Dionysiou. He was loved by all the holy Agiorites as much for his rare wisdom, as well as for his unusual meekness. He became the Bishop of Thessalonica against his will. Two years later, he journeyed to Constantinople on business and there, was elected to the vacant throne of the partiarchate. He was banished by the Sultan to Jedrene where he lived in exile. The Wallachian [Romanian] Prince Radul besought him from the Sultan and named Niphon as archbishop of the Wallachians. Because of Radul's transgressions, Niphon departed Wallachia and returned to Mount Athos to the community of Dionysiou where he lived a life of asceticism until his ninetieth year, when he took up habitation in the Kingdom of God in the year 1460 A.D. He composed the "Prayer of Absolution" read at the Burial Service:
[O Lord Jesus Christ, by His divine grace, as also by
the gift and power vouchsafed unto His holy
Disciples and Apostles, that they should bind and
Loose the sins of men: (For He said to them: Receive you
The Holy Spirit: whosoever sins you remit, they are
remitted; and whosoever sins you retain they are retained.
And whatsoever you shall bind or loose upon earth shall be bound or loosed also in Heaven. By the same power, also, transmitted to us from
them, this my spiritual child, [Name], is absolved through me, unworthy though I be, from all things wherein, as mortal [He-She] have sinned against God, whether in word or deed or thought and with all [His-Her] senses, whether voluntary or involuntary; whether with knowledge or through ignorance. If [He-She] be under the ban or excommunication of a bishop or if a priest; or has sinned by any oath; or has been bound, as a man, by any sins whatsoever, but has repented him thereof, with contrition of heart: [He-She] is now absolved from all those faults and bonds. May all those things which have proceeded from the weakness of [His-her] mortal nature be consigned to oblivion and be remitted to [Him-Her]: Through His loving-kindness; through the prayers of our Most-holy and Blessed and Glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary; of all the holy, glorious and all-laudable Apostles and all of the Saints. Amen.]
4. THE VENERABLES BASIL AND THEODORE OF THE MONASTERY OF THE CAVES IN KIEV
Both Basil and Theodore died by violence at the hands of the avaricious [money-loving] Prince Istislav in the year 1098 A.D. The hagiography of St. Theodore is especially instructive for the avaricious. Theodore was very wealthy and distributed all of his wealth to the poor and was tonsured a monk. After that, he repented and grieved for his wealth and was greatly tempted by the evil spirit of avarice from which St. Basil freed him.
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT SUSANNA, THE VIRGIN
Branch of Paradise, planted,
And on earth raised.
The branch grew and matured
With heaven, with the heart combined.
The black earth did not darken her
The evil of the world, did not bend her,
Susanna, a branch of Paradise is,
By God's Spirit, illumined,
Virgin, of Christ the God
The son of the emperor, scorned,
The emperor became angry; the emperor threatened her,
That he will bitterly avenge.
But, Susanna did not even want to listen,
In her, the mind of God contemplates
Her heart, illumined,
To Christ, betrothed.
The kinsmen were amazed
And in Christ, all were baptized
All the kinsmen, baptized were
And, martyrs became.
The emperor, his bloody hand, raised,
Upon Susanna, suffering imposed,
But, all the suffering is aimless,
When the soul, in the faith is powerful.
Susanna's head fell,
And her soul, in Paradise stood
In Paradise, stood before her Christ
Susanna's pure soul.
If a man sets off on the path of righteousness let him walk only by the path of righteousness with both feet and let him not step with one foot on the righteous path and, with the other foot on the unrighteous path. For God said through the prophet about the righteous who commit unrighteousness: "All his righteousness that he has done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he has trespassed and in his sins that he has sinned, in them shall he die" (Ezekiel 18:24). The Wallachian Prince Radul was a just man and performed many good deeds. He brought St. Niphon out of bondage in Jedrene and made him the Archbishop of Bucharest. But suddenly, Radul committed a dreadful transgression: he gave his sister to be the wife of the corrupt Prince Bogdan of Moldavia while Bogdan's wife was still living. Radul did not heed the protests of Niphon. Niphon prophesied an evil end for Radul, publicly excommunicating him from the Church and departed from Wallachia. Shortly thereafter, there was a drought and a great famine in Wallachia and Radul fell into an incurable illness and his entire body was covered with sores. And because of the stench, no one was able to approach him. When Radul was buried, his grave shook for three days, as once did the grave of Empress Eudoxia, the persecutor of St. John Chrysostom.
To contemplate the self-will of the Jewish people (1 Samuel 8 1 Kings 8):
1. How the Jews sought of Samuel that he appoint a king for them;
2. How Samuel protested this in the name of the Lord Who proclaimed that He is the only King;
3. How the people remained stubborn, rejecting the will of God and the counsels of Samuel.
About how ugliness comes with sin
"Instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness …and burning instead of beauty" (Isaiah 3:24).
This is the word about extravagant and wayward women, about the daughters of Zion who have become haughty and "walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go and making a tinkling with their feet" (Isaiah 3:16). What was it that made the Hebrew women proud? Was it virtue? Virtue never made anyone proud for, in fact, virtue is a cure against pride. Was it the strength of a people and the stability of the State? No, on the contrary, the prophet exactly fortells the imminent bondage of the people and the destruction of the State. And, as one of the main causes for slavery and destruction, the prophet cites vain extravagance, spiritual nothingness and wayward women. What, therefore, made them so proud and haughty? Ornaments and embroideries stranded beads and necklaces, trinkets and hairpins, garters and girdles, perfumes and rings, quivers and mirrors. Behold, this is what made them proud and haughty! Exactly, all of this is an expression of their ignorant pride but the true cause of their pride is spiritual nothingness. From spiritual nothingness comes pride and that external melange [mixture] of colors which women drape over their bodies is only an obvious manifestation of their ignorant pride. What will become of all this in the end? Stench, disheveledness, baldness and burning. This will occur when the people fall into bondage. As usually happens: first, the spirit is enslaved by the body and then the body is enslaved by an external enemy.
Thus, that will be even then when the inescapable conqueror of our bodies comes death. Sweet smells will not help in the grave, the kingdom of stench. Neither will there be a need for girdles for a naked spine [skeleton]. Neither will braided hair save the skull from baldness nor all the beauty from the black remains of burning. This is the inescapable fate of the most beautiful, the healthiest the wealthiest and the most extravagant women. But this is not the greatest misfortune. The greatest misfortune is that the souls of these women with their stench, disheveledness, baldness, and burning will come before God and before the heavenly hosts of the most beautiful of God's angels and righteous ones. For the stench of the body connotes the stench of the soul from depraved vices; a disheveled body connotes the insatiability of the soul for bodily pleasures; the baldness of the body connotes the baldness of the soul of good works and pure thoughts; burning of the body connotes the burning of the conscience and the mind.
O, how dreadful is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos; dreadful then and even dreadful today; dreadful, because it is true.
O, Lord Holy and All-pure, help the women who make the sign with Your Cross, that they may remember their souls and to cleanse their souls before Your Righteous Judgment, so that their souls, together, with their bodies do not become eternal stench.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.