Tuesday, July 31, 2012

August 12, 2012 - 10th Sunday After Pentecost


The Holy Martyrs Photius and Anicetus of Nicomedia

Soldier-martyrs of Crete

Sergios & Stephen the Monks

Afterfeast of the Transfiguration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ


The Reading is from John 21:1-14

At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any fish?" They answered him, "No." He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish. The disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 21.1-14

Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἐφανέρωσεν ἑαυτὸν πάλιν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς τοῖς μαθηταῖς ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης τῆς Τιβεριάδος· ἐφανέρωσε δὲ οὕτως. ἦσαν ὁμοῦ Σίμων Πέτρος, καὶ Θωμᾶς ὁ λεγόμενος Δίδυμος, καὶ Ναθαναὴλ ὁ ἀπὸ Κανᾶ τῆς Γαλιλαίας, καὶ οἱ τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου, καὶ ἄλλοι ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ δύο. λέγει αὐτοῖς Σίμων Πέτρος· ὑπάγω ἁλιεύειν. λέγουσιν αὐτῷ· ἐρχόμεθα καὶ ἡμεῖς σὺν σοί. ἐξῆλθον καὶ ἐνέβησαν εἰς τὸ πλοῖον εὐθύς, καὶ ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ νυκτὶ ἐπίασαν οὐδέν. πρωΐας δὲ ἤδη γενομένης ἔστη ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς εἰς τὸν αἰγιαλόν· οὐ μέντοι ᾔδεισαν οἱ μαθηταὶ ὅτι ᾿Ιησοῦς ἐστι. λέγει οὖν αὐτοῖς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· παιδία, μή τι προσφάγιον ἔχετε; ἀπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ· οὔ. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· βάλετε εἰς τὰ δεξιὰ μέρη τοῦ πλοίου τὸ δίκτυον, καὶ εὑρήσετε. ἔβαλον οὖν, καὶ οὐκέτι αὐτὸ ἑλκύσαι ἴσχυσαν ἀπὸ τοῦ πλήθους τῶν ἰχθύων. λέγει οὖν ὁ μαθητὴς ἐκεῖνος, ὃν ἠγάπα ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς, τῷ Πέτρῳ· ὁ Κύριός ἐστι. Σίμων οὖν Πέτρος ἀκούσας ὅτι ὁ Κύριός ἐστι, τὸν ἐπενδύτην διεζώσατο· ἦν γὰρ γυμνός· καὶ ἔβαλεν ἑαυτὸν εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν· οἱ δὲ ἄλλοι μαθηταὶ τῷ πλοιαρίῳ ἦλθον· οὐ γὰρ ἦσαν μακρὰν ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς, ἀλλ᾽ ὡς ἀπὸ πηχῶν διακοσίων, σύροντες τὸ δίκτυον τῶν ἰχθύων. ὡς οὖν ἀπέβησαν εἰς τὴν γῆν, βλέπουσιν ἀνθρακιὰν κειμένην καὶ ὀψάριον ἐπικείμενον καὶ ἄρτον. λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· ἐνέγκατε ἀπὸ τῶν ὀψαρίων ὧν ἐπιάσατε νῦν. ἀνέβη Σίμων Πέτρος καὶ εἵλκυσε τὸ δίκτυον ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, μεστὸν ἰχθύων μεγάλων ἑκατὸν πεντήκοντα τριῶν· καὶ τοσούτων ὄντων οὐκ ἐσχίσθη τὸ δίκτυον. λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· δεῦτε ἀριστήσατε. οὐδεὶς δὲ ἐτόλμα τῶν μαθητῶν ἐξετάσαι αὐτὸν σὺ τίς εἶ, εἰδότες ὅτι ὁ Κύριός ἐστιν. ἔρχεται οὖν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς καὶ λαμβάνει τὸν ἄρτον καὶ δίδωσιν αὐτοῖς, καὶ τὸ ὀψάριον ὁμοίως. Τοῦτο ἤδη τρίτον ἐφανερώθη ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ἐγερθεὶς ἐκ νεκρῶν.

The Reading is from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 4:9-16

BRETHREN, God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are ill-clad and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, the off-scouring of all things. I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

Πρὸς Κορινθίους α' 4:9-16

Ἀδελφοί, ὁ θεὸς ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀποστόλους ἐσχάτους ἀπέδειξεν ὡς ἐπιθανατίους· ὅτι θέατρον ἐγενήθημεν τῷ κόσμῳ, καὶ ἀγγέλοις, καὶ ἀνθρώποις. Ἡμεῖς μωροὶ διὰ Χριστόν, ὑμεῖς δὲ φρόνιμοι ἐν Χριστῷ· ἡμεῖς ἀσθενεῖς, ὑμεῖς δὲ ἰσχυροί· ὑμεῖς ἔνδοξοι, ἡμεῖς δὲ ἄτιμοι. Ἄχρι τῆς ἄρτι ὥρας καὶ πεινῶμεν, καὶ διψῶμεν, καὶ γυμνητεύομεν, καὶ κολαφιζόμεθα, καὶ ἀστατοῦμεν, καὶ κοπιῶμεν ἐργαζόμενοι ταῖς ἰδίαις χερσίν· λοιδορούμενοι εὐλογοῦμεν· διωκόμενοι ἀνεχόμεθα· βλασφημούμενοι παρακαλοῦμεν· ὡς περικαθάρματα τοῦ κόσμου ἐγενήθημεν, πάντων περίψημα ἕως ἄρτι. Οὐκ ἐντρέπων ὑμᾶς γράφω ταῦτα, ἀλλʼ ὡς τέκνα μου ἀγαπητὰ νουθετῶ. Ἐὰν γὰρ μυρίους παιδαγωγοὺς ἔχητε ἐν Χριστῷ, ἀλλʼ οὐ πολλοὺς πατέρας· ἐν γὰρ Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου ἐγὼ ὑμᾶς ἐγέννησα. Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, μιμηταί μου γίνεσθε.

The Reading is from Matthew 17:14-23

At that time, a man came up to Him and kneeling before Him said, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; for often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not heal him." And Jesus answered, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me." And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" He said to them, "Because of your little faith. For truly I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move hence to yonder place,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting." As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, "The Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day."

Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 17.14-23

Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἐλθόντων αὐτῶν πρὸς τὸν ὄχλον προσῆλθεν αὐτῷ ἄνθρωπος γονυπετῶν αὐτὸν καὶ λέγων· Κύριε, ἐλέησόν μου τὸν υἱόν, ὅτι σεληνιάζεται καὶ κακῶς πάσχει· πολλάκις γὰρ πίπτει εἰς τὸ πῦρ καὶ πολλάκις εἰς τὸ ὕδωρ. καὶ προσήνεγκα αὐτὸν τοῖς μαθηταῖς σου, καὶ οὐκ ἠδυνήθησαν αὐτὸν θεραπεῦσαι. ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς εἶπεν· ὦ γενεὰ ἄπιστος καὶ διεστραμμένη! ἕως πότε ἔσομαι μεθ᾿ ὑμῶν; ἕως πότε ἀνέξομαι ὑμῶν; φέρετέ μοι αὐτὸν ὧδε. καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ τὸ δαιμόνιον καὶ ἐθεραπεύθη ὁ παῖς ἀπὸ τῆς ὥρας ἐκείνης. Τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ τῷ ᾿Ιησοῦ κατ᾿ ἰδίαν εἶπον· διατί ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό; ὁ δὲ ᾿Ιησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· διὰ τὴν ἀπιστίαν ὑμῶν. ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως, ἐρεῖτε τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ, μετάβηθι ἐντεῦθεν ἐκεῖ, καὶ μεταβήσεται, καὶ οὐδὲν ἀδυνατήσει ὑμῖν. τοῦτο δὲ τὸ γένος οὐκ ἐκπορεύεται εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ καὶ νηστείᾳ. ᾿Αναστρεφομένων δὲ αὐτῶν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· μέλλει ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου παραδίδοσθαι εἰς χεῖρας ἀνθρώπων καὶ ἀποκτενοῦσιν αὐτόν, καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἐγερθήσεται. καὶ ἐλυπήθησαν σφόδρα.


Τῇ ΙΒ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Φωτίου καὶ Ἀνικήτου.

Πῦρ Ἀνίκητον συμφλέγει τῷ Φωτίῳ,

Οὓς φωτὸς οἶκος ὡς ἀνικήτους φέρει.

Πῦρ κατὰ δωδεκάτην κτάνε Φώτιον ἠδ' Ἀνίκητον.

Οἱ ὅσιοι Κάστωρ καὶ Παλάμων, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦνται.

Οἱ ἅγιοι δώδεκα στρατιῶται μάρτυρες, οἱ ἐκ Κρήτης ὁρμώμενοι, ξίφει τελειοῦνται.

Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων μαρτύρων Παμφίλου καὶ Καπίτωνος, ξίφει τελειωθέντων.

Οἱ κείμενοι γῇ, καὶ λύθρῳ πεφυρμένοι,

Ξίφος μετῆλθον, Πάμφιλος καὶ Καπίτων.

Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῶν ὁσίων Σεργίου καὶ Στεφάνου ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειωθέντων.

Ἴσων ἱδρώτων, Σεργίῳ καὶ Στεφάνῳ,

Ἴσοι στέφανοι· καὶ γὰρ οὕτω τὸ πρέπον.

Ταῖς τῶν Ἁγίων σου πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.

These Martyrs contested in Nicomedia about the year 288. When Diocletian stirred up his persecution of the Christians, Anicetus presented himself openly and said that all who worship idols are blind and senseless. He was beaten with rods so ruthlessly that his bones appeared from the rents and wounds in his flesh. As he was suffering further torments, his nephew Photius came and embraced him, calling him his father and his uncle. He was also put to many tortures with him. They were then imprisoned together for three years. Finally they were cast into a furnace, where they gave up their spirits, and their bodies were preserved unharmed. Saint Anicetus is one of the Holy Unmercenaries.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Οι Μάρτυρές σου, Κύριε, εν τή αθλήσει αυτών, στεφάνους εκομίσαντο τής αφθαρσίας, εκ σού τού Θεού ημών, σχόντες γάρ τήν ισχύν σου, τούς τυράννους καθείλον, έθραυσαν καί δαιμόνων, τά ανίσχυρα θράση. Αυτών ταίς ικεσίαις, Χριστέ ο Θεός, σώσον τάς ψυχάς ημών.
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Τούς θείους πιστοί, οπλίτας ευφημήσωμεν, τό ζεύγος Χριστού, τής δόξης εγκωμιάσωμεν, καί στερρούς ως κήρυκας, ευσεβείας άπαντες φίλαθλοι, καί Θεού όντως εραστάς, εν ύμνοις ασμάτων καταστέψωμεν.
With anthems of praise, ye faithful, let us all extol the warriors of God, the yoke-pair of Christ's majesty; and let all of us who love martyrs' contests crown with our hymns of song the staunch heralds of piety, who truly were friends and lovers of our God.

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.

Πρέπει να μεταφερθούμε στα χρόνια των διωμών, για να αντιληφθούμε όλο το μεγαλείο του θανάτου των αγίων Μαρτύρων. Στη Νικομήδεια ο Διοκλητιανός δημηγορεί στον ιππόδρομο, βλασφημεί εναντίον του Θεού και απειλεί πως θα εξαλείψη από το πρόσωπο της γης κάθε χριστιανό. Τέτοιες απειλές είναι γνωστές πολλές στην Ιστορία, με αποτέλεσμα να ηττηθούν εκείνοι που τις έκαναν, όχι μετά καιρό, μα την ίδια ώρα. Δεν είχε τελειώσει την δημηγορία του και τις απειλές του ο Διοκλητιανός και βγήκε στη μέση ο άγιος Ανίκητος, για να ομολογήση τον Χριστό και να ελέγξη τον τύραννο. Κι όταν εστήθησαν αμέσως τα μηχανήματα του βασανισμού και οι δήμιοι ξάπλωσαν επάνω τον Μάρτυρα, τότε μέσ' από το πλήθος ένας νέος έτρεξεν, έπεσεν επάνω του και τον καταφιλούσε. Ήταν ο Φώτιος, ο ανεψιός του Ανίκητου. Αυτών των δύο Μαρτύρων την μνήμη γιορτάζει σήμερα η Εκκλησία, που εστάθηκαν ανίκητοι στις απειλές του τυράννου.

Οἱ Ἅγιοι Φώτιος καὶ Ἀνίκητος

Ὁ Φώτιος ἦταν ἀνεψιὸς τοῦ Ἀνίκητου. Κατάγονταν καὶ οἱ δυὸ ἀπὸ τὴν Νικομήδεια. Ὅταν ὁ Διοκλητιανὸς θέλησε νὰ κινήσει διωγμὸ κατὰ τῶν χριστιανῶν, μίλησε μπροστὰ στὴ Σύγκλητο μὲ τοὺς πιὸ ὑβριστικοὺς λόγους ἐναντίον τους. Ἐκεῖ ἦταν παρὼν καὶ ὁ Ἀνίκητος, ποὺ ὅταν ἄκουσε αὐτὰ τὰ λόγια του βασιλιᾶ, ὄχι μόνο δὲν φοβήθηκε, ἀλλὰ σηκώθηκε μὲ θάρρος, δήλωσε ὅτι εἶναι χριστιανὸς καὶ εἶπε στὸ Διοκλητιανό: «Πλανᾶσαι, βασιλιά, ἂν νομίζεις ὅτι μὲ τὰ μέτρα κατὰ τῶν Χριστιανῶν θὰ πετύχεις τοὺς ἀσεβεῖς σκοπούς σου. Μάθε ὅτι οἱ χριστιανοὶ ἀποτελοῦν σήμερα τὴν ὑγιέστερη μερίδα τῆς ρωμαϊκῆς αὐτοκρατορίας. Καὶ θὰ ἦταν ἀνόητοι καὶ ἀναίσθητοι ἂν πίστευαν στὰ εἴδωλα. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ ὅποια μέτρα καὶ ἂν πάρεις ἐναντίον τους, στὸ τέλος ζημιωμένος θὰ εἶσαι ἐσύ, ἐνῷ αὐτοὶ ἔνδοξοι μάρτυρες». Ὁ Διοκλητιανός, προσβεβλημένος ἀπὸ τὴν παρατήρηση τοῦ Ἀνίκητου, διέταξε καὶ τὸν ἔριξαν τροφὴ σὲ ἕνα τρομερὸ λιοντάρι. Ἀλλὰ τὸ λιοντάρι σταμάτησε τὴν ἄγρια ὁρμή του καὶ ἡμέρεψε σὰν πρόβατο. Τότε ἔγινε μεγάλος σεισμὸς καὶ συνετρίβησαν πολλὰ εἰδωλολατρικὰ ἀγάλματα. Κατόπιν τὸν ἔβαλαν σὲ τροχὸ μὲ ἀναμμένη φωτιὰ ἀπὸ κάτω. Ἀλλ᾿ ὢ τοῦ θαύματος, ὁ τροχὸς σταμάτησε καὶ ἡ φωτιὰ ἔσβησε. Τότε ἔτρεξε καὶ τὸν ἀγκάλιασε ὁ ἀνεψιός του Φώτιος. Μόλις εἶδαν αὐτὸ οἱ εἰδωλολάτρες, ἔδεσαν καὶ τοὺς δυὸ μέσα στὸ λεγόμενο λουτρὸ τοῦ Ἀντωνίου. Καὶ ἀφοῦ ὑπερθέρμαναν τὸ νερό, παρέδωσαν καὶ οἱ δυὸ ἔνδοξα τὸ πνεῦμα τους.

Ὁ Ὅσιος Παλάμων

Ἦταν γέροντας καὶ σοφὸς διδάσκαλος τοῦ μεγάλου Παχωμίου (15 Μάιου). Ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.

Martyrs Anicetas and Photius of Nicomedia (305)

These holy martyrs suffered victoriously in the year 305 (Prologue) or 288 (Great Horologion), during the reign of Diocletian, who visited Nicomedia to stir up a persecution of Christians there. Anicetas, one of the city governors, presented himself before the Emperor, boldly confessed his Christian faith, and denounced the worship of the idols. Anicetas was subjected to a series of cruelties: his tongue was cut out, but he miraculously continued to speak; he was thrown to a lion, but it refused to attack him; then he was savagely beaten with rods until his bones showed through his wounds. His nephew Photius, seeing his endurance of all these trials, ran forward, embraced his uncle, and declared to the Emperor that he too was a Christian. The Emperor ordered that he be beheaded immediately, but the executioner, raising his sword, gave himself such a wound that he died instead. After many tortures, the two were put in prison for three years, then brought out anc cast into a fiery furnace, where they died, though their bodies were brought out of the flames intact.

  Saint Anicetas is counted as one of the Holy Unmercenaries.

Hieromaryr Alexander, Bishop of Comana (3rd c.)

"He lived in the town of Comana near Neocaesarea as a simple charcoal-burner. When the Bishop of Comana died, St Gregory of Neocaesarea, the Wonderworker (Nov. 17), was invited to preside over the Council to choose a new bishop. At the Council there were both clergy and laymen. They were unable to come to agreement on one person, estimating the candidates they selected according to their outward worth and behaviour. St Gregory told them that they must not give so much weight to the outward impression as to the soul and the spiritual aptitude. Then some wag called out mockingly: 'Then let's choose Alexander the charcoal-burner as bishop!', and there was general laughter. St Gregory asked who this Alexander was. Thinking that his name would not have come up before the Council except by the providence of God, he commanded that he be brought. Being a charcoal-burner, he was black with soot and in rags, and his appearance provoked further mirth in the Council. Then Gregory took him aside and asked him to tell the truth about himself. Alexander told him that he had been a Greek philosopher, enjoying great honour and position, but that he had set it all aside, demeaned himself and made himself as a fool for Christ from the time that he had read and understood the Holy Scriptures. Gregory commanded that he be bathed and clad in new clothes, then went into the Council with him and, before them all, began to examine him in the Scriptures. All were filled with amazement at the wisdom and grace of Alexander's words, and were quite unable to recognize the former charcoal-burner in this wise man. With one voice, they chose him as bishop, and he received the love of his flock for his holiness, his wisdom and his goodness. He died a martyr for Christ under Diocletian." (Prologue)

Menologion 3.0

The Martyrs Anicetas and Photios (his nephew) were natives of Nicomedia. Anicetas, a military official, denounced the emperor Diocletian (284-305) for having set up in the city square an implement of execution for frightening Christians. The enraged emperor ordered Saint Anicetas to be tortured, and later condemned him to be devoured by wild beasts. But the lions they set loose became gentle and fondled up to him. Suddenly there began a strong earthquake, resulting in the collapse of the pagan temple of Hercules, and many pagans perished beneathe the crumbled city walls. The executioner took up a sword to cut off the saint's head, but he himself fell down insensible. They tried to break Saint Anicetas on the wheel and burn him with fire, but the wheel stopped and the fire went out. They threw the martyr into a furnace with boiling tin, but the tin got cold. Thus the Lord preserved His servant for the edification of many. The martyr's nephew, Saint Photios, saluted the sufferer and turn to the emperor, remarking: "O idol-worshipper, thine gods -- be nothing!" The sword, held over the new confessor, instead struck the executioner himself. Then the martyrs were thrown into prison. After three days Diocletian began to urge them: "Worship our gods, and I shalt give ye glory and riches". The martyrs answered: "Perish thou with thine honour and riches!" Then they tied them by the legs to wild horses, but the saints, dragged along the ground, remained unharmed. They did not suffer either in the heated up bath-house, which tumbled apart. Finally Diocletian ordered a great furnace to be fired up, and many Christians, inspired by the deeds of Saints Anicetas and Photios, went in themselves with the words: "We are Christians!" They all died with prayer on their lips. The bodies of Saints Anicetas and Photios were not harmed by the fire, and even their hair remained whole. seeing this, many of the pagans came to believe in Christ. This event happened in the year 305.

Sainted Alexander, Bishop of Comana, lived during the III Century not far from Neocaesarea. He studied the Holy Scripture and knew many a scientific discipline. Taking upon himself the exploit of holy fool, the saint lived in poverty, occupied with the selling of coal in the city square. Many, seeing his face always black from the grime of the coal flames, sneered at him with contempt. When the bishop of Comana happened to die, then among the candidates put forth for election as new bishop -- one was a man illustrious, others were learned or eloquent, while yet others -- were rich. Then Saint Gregory Thaumatourgos, Bishop of Neocaesarea (Comm. 17 November), having been invited for the ordination of their choice, pointed out, that a bishop ought to have not only outward worthiness and distinction, but foremost of all, a pure heart and holy life. These words caused some to laugh saying: "If outward appearance and nobility of origin be for naught, then even Alexander the collier might be made bishop". Saint Gregory perceived, that it was not without the Providence of God that this man came to be mentioned, and he asked that they call him. The appearance of the saint at the gathering evoked laughter. Having respectfully bowed to Saint Gregory, Saint Alexander stood there deeply absorbed in himself and ignoring the sneering: Saint Gregory put him to the test, and the collier was obliged to reveal, that he was formerly a philosopher, and had studied Holy Scripture, but that for the sake of God he had assumed upon himself voluntary poverty and humility. Saint Gregory then took the collier to his own lodging, where he washed off the grime, and gave him clean clothes. Returning then to the assembled people, Saint Gregory in front of everyone began to put to him questions from Holy Scripture, to which Saint Alexander answered like a knowledgeable and wise pastor. Seeing this, all were astonished at his humility and with one accord they elected him their bishop. Saint Gregory ordained him priest, and later bishop. After the imposition of hands the new bishop spoke a sermon to the people, full of power and the grace of God. And everyone rejoiced, that the Lord had sent them such a wise pastor. Under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) the saint bravely confessed Christ, and refused to worship idols; after tortures they threw him into a fire, and there he reposed to God. According to other sources, Saint Alexander suffered instead under the emperor Decius (249-251).

The Martyrs Pamphylos and Kapiton were beheaded by the sword in the locale of Oliurea near Constantinople.



Emperor Diocletian once visited the city of Nicomedia with the evil intention to completely exterminate the Christians. But when he began his merciless torture of Christians, St. Anicetas, one of the high ranking officials of the city, boldly confessed before the emperor his faith in Christ the Lord, God incarnate in the flesh for our salvation. Along with this, Anicetas also denounced the idols as deaf and dumb stones and the worship of which is unworthy of a rational man. The emperor ordered his tongue to be severed but Anicetas, by the power of God, continued to speak. They then released a lion against him but the lion cuddled around him. At that moment the temple of Hercules collapsed. Photius, a kinsman of Anicetas, seeing the miracles and endurance of Anicetas, kissed him, declared himself a Christian and cried out to the emperor: " O idolator, be ashamed, your gods are nothingness!" The emperor then ordered that Anicetas immediately be beheaded. However, the executioner, raising his hand against holy Photius, struck himself with the sword and died. After prolonged tortures, both Anicetas and Photius were cast into prison where they languished for three years. Then they were brought out, a fire was lighted in an enormous furnace and they cast them into the fire. Many other Christians, men, women and children, willingly followed them into the fire. From the fire was heard the prayer of the Christians who were praising God for the death of martydom. They all suffered about the year 305 A.D. "Saint Anicetas and Saint Photius are invoked in the prayers in the Sacrament of Anointing with Oil [Holy Unction] and in the Blessing of Water."


O holy Father, Physician of souls and bodies, who did send Your Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who heals every infirmity and delivers from death. Heal Thou, also Your servant [Name] from the ills of body and soul which do hinder [Him Her] and quicken [Him Her] by the grace of Your Christ: through the prayers of our Most Holy Lady, the Birth-giver of God and Ever-virgin Mary; through the intercession of the honorable Bodiless Powers of Heaven; through the might of the precious and Life-giving Cross, through the protection of the honorable, glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John; of the glorious and all-laudable Apostles; of the holy, glorious and right-victorious Martyrs; of our venerable and God-bearing Fathers; of the holy and healing, unmercenaries, Cosmas and Damian, Cyrus and John, Pantaleon and Hermolaus, Samson and Diomedes, Photius and Anicetas of the holy righteous Ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna; and all the Saints.

For You are the Fountain of healing, O our God, and unto You do we ascribe glory, together with Your Only-begotten Son and Your Spirit, one in essence, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.


As a simple charcoal-burner, Alexander lived in the town of Comana near Neo-Caesarea. When the bishop of Comana died, St. Gregory the miracle-worker and Bishop of Neo-Caesarea (November 17) was then called to preside at a council to elect a new bishop. Both clergy and laymen alike were present at the council. However, the electors were unable to agree on one person. At the time of evaluating a candidate, they all primarily paid attention to the points of his externals: external dignity and behavior. St. Gregory then said that they need not look so much at the external characteristics as much as at the spirit and spiritual capabilities. Then some jesters mocking cried out: then we should elect Alexander the charcoal-burner as our bishop! General laughter then ensued. St. Gregory asked: "Who is this Alexander?" And, thinking that his name was not mentioned at this council without God's Providence, Gregory ordered that Alexander be brought before the council. As a charcoal-burner, he was completely soiled and in rags. His appearance again evoked laughter in the council. Gregory then took Alexander aside and made him take an oath to speak the truth concerning himself. Alexander said that he was a Greek philosopher and that he enjoyed great honor and position but that he rejected all, humbled himself and made himself to be a "fool for the sake of Christ" from the time when he had read and understood Holy Scripture. Gregory ordered Alexander bathed and clothed in new attire and, with him, entered the council and before all began to examine Alexander in Holy Scripture. All were amazed at Alexander's wisdom and words of grace and could hardly recognize in this wise man, the former quiet charcoal-burner. Alexander was unanimously elected bishop. By his sanctity, wisdom and goodness, he gained the love of his flock. Alexander died a martyr's death for Christ during the reign of Diocletian.



Men look upon clothes and the face,

But God looks at the soul and the heart.

Glorious Alexander, a charcoal-burner, was,

With the charcoal-burner, the body is blackened

And from soot, which water cleanses,

In the sinner, the heart is darkened

Which only the fire of faith can cleanse

The fire of faith and the cry of repentance.

It is easier to cleanse the skin of a charcoal-burner

Than the blackened heart of a sinner.

Alexander, with humility, covered

In a cave concealed, as a hidden flame

For laughter, to the gullible world, he was.

The world did not see; Gregory saw,

With an acute spirit, the charcoal-burner discerned

And in him, found a saint,

In the dark cave, a beautiful flame,

Beneath the mask of insanity, great wisdom,

Beneath the dirty soot, a pure heart,

A royal soul in decayed rags.

That the light be hidden, the Lord does not permit,

At the appropriate time, the light proclaims,

For the benefit and salvation of men.

All is wonderful, what God judges.


Learn to respect and to love the lowly and simple people. Such as these are the most on earth: such as these are the most in the Kingdom of Heaven. In them, there is no pride, i.e., the basic madness from which the souls of the rich and the powerful of this world suffer. They carry out their duty in this world perfectly and yet it appears to them amusing when someone praises them for it, while the self-seeking men of this world seek praise for all their work and often, it is imperfectly completed. St. Alexander was an eminent philosopher and he left everything, hid himself from exalted society, the praise of the world and mingled with the lowliest and the simplest of men, as a charcoal-burner among charcoal-burners. Instead of former praises and honors, he endured with rejoicing that children ran after him and laughed at him because of his sootiness and raggedness. However, Alexander was not the only one who liked to live with the lowly and simple. Many kings and princes, learning of the sweetness of Christ's Faith, removed the crowns from their heads and fled from aristocratic vanity to be among the simple people. Did not He alone, the King of Kings, the Lord our Christ appear among shepherds and fishermen? St. Zeno counsels: "Do not choose a glorious place for living and do not associate with a man of a prominent name."


To contemplate the wondrous Providence of God at the election of Saul as king (1 Samuel 9 1 Kings 9):

1. How Saul went out to seek the lost asses;

2. How Samuel, to whom God revealed that Saul should be accepted as the king of Israel, met him;

3. How the Providence of God directs men and sometimes gives them that which they do not envision.


About the awesome vision of the Prophet Isaiah

"I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up" (Isaiah 6:1).

Here is the vision of visions! Here is the glory of glories and the majesty above majesties! God showed great mercy to all of mankind in that He gave them to see this great starry world to see, the work of His hands. Yet, He showed a yet greater mercy to those to whom He gave the eternal and wondrous angelic world to see. However, He showed the greatest mercy to a small number of His chosen ones, to whom He gave Himself to see, the Lord Sabaoth, the Only Uncreated One and Creator of both worlds. But, how can mortal man see the Immortal God? Did not God Himself say to Moses: "For there shall no man see me and live" (Exodus 33:20)? And, does not the Gospel say: "No man has seen God at any time" (St. John 1:18). Truly, no mortal one can see the face of God, i.e., the essence of God. But, by His condescension and infinite goodness and might, God can reveal to men, to some extent, and in some form, how accessible He is to men. In a particular form and appearance, He appeared to Moses, Elijah, Daniel and to John the Theologian not in His essence but in a particular form and appearance. Isaiah saw Him on a throne "high and lifted up" i.e., as the Judge raised above all the judges and all the earthly courts. The six-winged Seraphim stood around Him and cried one to another: "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts" (Isaiah 6:3). The Lord, therefore, is not alone but rather He is the King in His Invisible Kingdom surrounded by the most exalted of beings, who were created by His power. Around Him are the foremost orders of the heavenly hierarchy, the chief-commanders of His innumerable immortal hosts, the foremost lampstands of His light and His unendurable radiance.

This is the wondrous vision of Isaiah, the Son of Amos, the prophet of God.

O, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord, Thrice Holy, have mercy on us and save us, impure and sinful.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.