FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Translation of the Relics of Stephen the Protomartyr
Holy Glorious New Martyr Theodore of Dardanelles
Phocas the Martyr
Ἡ ἀνακομιδή τοῦ ἱ. Λειψάνου τοῦ Ἁγίου Πρωτομάρτυρος καί Ἀρχιδιακόνου Στεφάνου.
Τοῦ Ἁγίου ἐνδόξου Νεομάρτυρος Θεοδώρου τοῦ ἐν Δαρδανελλίοις.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from Acts of the Apostles 6:8-15; 7:1-5, 47-60
IN THOSE DAYS, Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, arose and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated men, who said, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God." And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and set up false witnesses who said, "This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place, and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us." And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
And the high priest said, "Is this so?" And Stephen said: "Brethren and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, 'Depart from your land and from your kindred and go into the land which I will show you.' Then he departed from the land of the Chaldeans, and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living; yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot's length, but promised to give it to him in possession and to his posterity after him, though he had no child.
"But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with hands; as the prophet says, 'Heaven is my throne, and earth my footstool. What house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?'
"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it."
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Πράξεις Ἀποστόλων 6:8-15;7:1-5,47-60
Ἐν ταῖς ἡμεραῖς ἐκείναις, Στέφανος δὲ πλήρης πίστεως καὶ δυνάμεως ἐποίει τέρατα καὶ σημεῖα μεγάλα ἐν τῷ λαῷ. Ἀνέστησαν δέ τινες τῶν ἐκ τῆς συναγωγῆς τῆς λεγομένης Λιβερτίνων, καὶ Κυρηναίων, καὶ Ἀλεξανδρέων, καὶ τῶν ἀπὸ Κιλικίας καὶ Ἀσίας, συζητοῦντες τῷ Στεφάνῳ. Καὶ οὐκ ἴσχυον ἀντιστῆναι τῇ σοφίᾳ καὶ τῷ πνεύματι ᾧ ἐλάλει. Τότε ὑπέβαλον ἄνδρας λέγοντας ὅτι Ἀκηκόαμεν αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος ῥήματα βλάσφημα εἰς Μωϋσῆν καὶ τὸν θεόν. Συνεκίνησάν τε τὸν λαὸν καὶ τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους καὶ τοὺς γραμματεῖς, καὶ ἐπιστάντες συνήρπασαν αὐτόν, καὶ ἤγαγον εἰς τὸ συνέδριον, ἔστησάν τε μάρτυρας ψευδεῖς λέγοντας, Ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὗτος οὐ παύεται ῥήματα βλάσφημα λαλῶν κατὰ τοῦ τόπου τοῦ ἁγίου καὶ τοῦ νόμου· ἀκηκόαμεν γὰρ αὐτοῦ λέγοντος ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος οὗτος καταλύσει τὸν τόπον τοῦτον, καὶ ἀλλάξει τὰ ἔθη ἃ παρέδωκεν ἡμῖν Μωϋσῆς. Καὶ ἀτενίσαντες εἰς αὐτὸν ἅπαντες οἱ καθεζόμενοι ἐν τῷ συνεδρίῳ, εἶδον τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ὡσεὶ πρόσωπον ἀγγέλου. Εἶπεν δὲ ὁ ἀρχιερεύς, Εἰ ἄρα ταῦτα οὕτως ἔχει; Ὁ δὲ ἔφη, Ἄνδρες ἀδελφοὶ καὶ πατέρες, ἀκούσατε. Ὁ θεὸς τῆς δόξης ὤφθη τῷ πατρὶ ἡμῶν Ἀβραὰμ ὄντι ἐν τῇ Μεσοποταμίᾳ, πρὶν ἢ κατοικῆσαι αὐτὸν ἐν Χαρράν, καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν, Ἔξελθε ἐκ τῆς γῆς σου καὶ ἐκ τῆς συγγενείας σου, καὶ δεῦρο εἰς γῆν ἣν ἄν σοι δείξω. Τότε ἐξελθὼν ἐκ γῆς Χαλδαίων κατῴκησεν ἐν Χαρράν· κἀκεῖθεν, μετὰ τὸ ἀποθανεῖν τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ, μετῴκισεν αὐτὸν εἰς τὴν γῆν ταύτην εἰς ἣν ὑμεῖς νῦν κατοικεῖτε· καὶ οὐκ ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ κληρονομίαν ἐν αὐτῇ, οὐδὲ βῆμα ποδός· Σολομῶν δὲ ᾠκοδόμησεν αὐτῷ οἶκον. Ἀλλʼ οὐχ ὁ ὕψιστος ἐν χειροποιήτοις ναοῖς κατοικεῖ, καθὼς ὁ προφήτης λέγει, Ὁ οὐρανός μοι θρόνος, ἡ δὲ γῆ ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν μου· ποῖον οἶκον οἰκοδομήσετέ μοι; λέγει κύριος· ἢ τίς τόπος τῆς καταπαύσεώς μου; Οὐχὶ ἡ χείρ μου ἐποίησεν ταῦτα πάντα;
Σκληροτράχηλοι καὶ ἀπερίτμητοι τῇ καρδίᾳ καὶ τοῖς ὠσίν, ὑμεῖς ἀεὶ τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἁγίῳ ἀντιπίπτετε· ὡς οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν, καὶ ὑμεῖς. Τίνα τῶν προφητῶν οὐκ ἐδίωξαν οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν; Καὶ ἀπέκτειναν τοὺς προκαταγγείλαντας περὶ τῆς ἐλεύσεως τοῦ δικαίου, οὗ νῦν ὑμεῖς προδόται καὶ φονεῖς γεγένησθε· οἵτινες ἐλάβετε τὸν νόμον εἰς διαταγὰς ἀγγέλων, καὶ οὐκ ἐφυλάξατε. Ἀκούοντες δὲ ταῦτα, διεπρίοντο ταῖς καρδίαις αὐτῶν, καὶ ἔβρυχον τοὺς ὀδόντας ἐπʼ αὐτόν. Ὑπάρχων δὲ πλήρης πνεύματος ἁγίου, ἀτενίσας εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν, εἶδεν δόξαν θεοῦ, καὶ Ἰησοῦν ἑστῶτα ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ εἶπεν, Ἰδού, θεωρῶ τοὺς οὐρανοὺς ἀνεῳγμένους, καὶ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκ δεξιῶν ἑστῶτα τοῦ θεοῦ. Κράξαντες δὲ φωνῇ μεγάλῃ, συνέσχον τὰ ὦτα αὐτῶν, καὶ ὥρμησαν ὁμοθυμαδὸν ἐπʼ αὐτόν· καὶ ἐκβαλόντες ἔξω τῆς πόλεως, ἐλιθοβόλουν· καὶ οἱ μάρτυρες ἀπέθεντο τὰ ἱμάτια παρὰ τοὺς πόδας νεανίου καλουμένου Σαύλου. Καὶ ἐλιθοβόλουν τὸν Στέφανον, ἐπικαλούμενον καὶ λέγοντα, Κύριε Ἰησοῦ, δέξαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου. Θεὶς δὲ τὰ γόνατα, ἔκραξεν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ, Κύριε, μὴ στήσῃς αὐτοῖς τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ταύτην. Καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἐκοιμήθη.
The Reading is from Mark 12:1-12
The Lord said this parable, "A man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a pit for the wine press, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him, and sent him away empty handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed; and so with many others, some they beat and some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son; finally he sent him to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But those tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' And they took him and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants, and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture: 'The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?" And they tried to arrest him, but feared the multitude, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them; so they left him and went away.
Κατὰ Μᾶρκον 12.1-12
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος τήν παραβολαῖς λέγειν· ἀμπελῶνα ἐφύτευσεν ἄνθρωπος καὶ περιέθηκε φραγμὸν καὶ ὤρυξεν ὑπολήνιον καὶ ᾠκοδόμησε πύργον, καὶ ἐξέδοτο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς καὶ ἀπεδήμησε.καὶ ἀπέστειλε πρὸς τοὺς γεωργοὺς τῷ καιρῷ δοῦλον, ἵνα παρὰ τῶν γεωργῶν λάβῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ καρποῦ τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος.καὶ λαβόντες αὐτὸν ἔδειραν καὶ ἀπέστειλαν κενόν.καὶ πάλιν ἀπέστειλε πρὸς αὐτοὺς ἄλλον δοῦλον· κἀκεῖνον λιθοβολήσαντες ἐκεφαλαίωσαν καὶ ἀπέστειλαν ἠτιμωμένον.καὶ πάλιν ἄλλον ἀπέστειλε· κἀκεῖνον ἀπέκτειναν, καὶ πολλοὺς ἄλλους, οὓς μὲν δέροντες, οὓς δὲ ἀποκτέννοντες.ἔτι οὖν ἕνα υἱὸν ἔχων, ἀγαπητὸν αὐτοῦ, ἀπέστειλε καὶ αὐτὸν ἔσχατον πρὸς αὐτοὺς λέγων ὅτι ἐντραπήσονται τὸν υἱόν μου.ἐκεῖνοι δὲ οἱ γεωργοί, θεασάμενοι αὐτὸν ἐρχόμενον, πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς εἶπον ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ κληρονόμος· δεῦτε ἀποκτείνωμεν αὐτόν, καὶ ἡμῶν ἔσται ἡ κληρονομία.καὶ λαβόντες ἀπέκτειναν αὐτὸν καὶ ἐξέβαλον αὐτὸν ἔξω τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος.τί οὖν ποιήσει ὁ κύριος τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος; ἐλεύσεται καὶ ἀπολέσει τοὺς γεωργοὺς τούτους, καὶ δώσει τὸν ἀμπελῶνα ἄλλοις.οὐδὲ τὴν γραφὴν ταύτην ἀνέγνωτε, λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες,οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας· παρὰ Κυρίου ἐγένετο αὕτη,καὶ ἔστι θαυμαστὴ ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν; Καὶ ἐζήτουν αὐτὸν κρατῆσαι, καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν τὸν ὄχλον· ἔγνωσαν γὰρ ὅτι πρὸς αὐτοὺς τὴν παραβολὴν εἶπε. καὶ ἀφέντες αὐτὸν ἀπῆλθον.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ Β' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τῆς Ἀνακομιδῆς τοῦ λειψάνου τοῦ Ἁγίου Πρωτομάρτυρος, καὶ Ἀρχιδιακόνου Στεφάνου.
Ἔχεις Σιὼν πάμπολλα θεῖα καὶ ξένα.
Νεκρὸν Στεφάνους δὸς πόλει Κωνσταντίνου.
Δευτερίῃ νέκυος Στεφάνου γένετ' Ἀνακομιδή.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῆς εὑρέσεως τῶν λειψάνων τῶν ἁγίων μαρτύρων Μαξίμου, Δάδα καὶ Κυντιλιανοῦ.
Τρεῖς ἐκφέρουσα γῆ νεκροὺς ζωηφόρους,
Πόλῳ λέγειν ἔοικε· Σὺ κρύψας ἔχε.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῶν Ἐγκαινίων τοῦ θείου Ναοῦ τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἀποστόλου καὶ Εὐαγγελιστοῦ, Ἰωάννου τοῦ Θεολόγου, πλησίον τῆς ἁγιωτάτης μεγάλης Ἐκκλησίας.
Σὸν Ναὸν σῇ χάριτι καθιεροῦμεν,
Ἰωάννη πάνσοφε ἠγαπημένε.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Φωκᾶ, καὶ τοῦ ἐν εὐσεβεῖ τῇ μνήμῃ γενομένου Βασιλέως Ἰουστινιανοῦ ἐν τοῖς ἁγίοις Ἀποστόλοις.
Φωκᾶς ὁ μάρτυς εκλιπὼν γῆς χωρίον,
Νῦν εγκατοικεῖ τῆς τρυφῆς τῷ χωρίῳ
Οὐκ ἐκποδών σοι σκῆπτρον ὤφθη ὧ ἄναξ,
Σὺ γὰρ κατοικεῖς Βασιλείαν τὴν ἄνω.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
After the First Martyr had been stoned to death (see Dec. 27), Gamaliel, his teacher, encouraged certain of the Christians to go by night and take up the Saint's body and bury it in his field, which was at a distance of some twenty miles from Jerusalem and was called by his name, "Kaphar-gamala," that is, "the field of Gamala," where Gamaliel himself was later buried. About the year 427, a certain pious man called Lucian, who was the parish priest of a church near to that field, received from God a revelation in a dream concerning the place where the First Martyr was buried. He immediately made this known to John, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Thus, coming to the place indicated, and digging there, they found a box with the word "Stephen" in Aramaic letters. On opening it, they took these most sacred relics and transferred them to Jerusalem with great honor and in the company of a very great multitude of the faithful.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Βασίλειον διάδημα, εστέφθη σή κορυφή, εξ άθλων ών υπέμεινας, υπέρ Χριστού τού Θεού, Μαρτύρων πρωτόαθλε, σύ γάρ τήν Ιουδαίων, απελέγξας μανίαν, είδές σου τόν Σωτήρα, τού Πατρός δεξιόθεν, Αυτόν ούν εκδυσώπει αεί, υπέρ τών ψυχών ημών.
For the struggles you endured for Christ God, a royal diadem crowns your head, O First Champion of Martyrs. For you refuted the folly of the Jews and beheld your Savior on the right of the Father. Ever beseech Him, therefore, for our souls.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Πρώτος εσπάρης επί γής υπό τού ουρανίου Γεωργού πανεύφημε, πρώτος τό αίμα επί γής διά Χριστόν εξέχεας μακάριε, πρώτος υπ' αυτού τόν τής νίκης στέφανον ανεβήσω εν ουρανώ, ως Αθλητών προοίμιον, Στεφανίτα τών Mαρτύρων ο Πρώταθλος.
Thou wast the first to be sown upon earth by the Heavenly Husbandman, O all-famed Stephen; thou wast the first to shed thy blood upon the earth for Christ, O blessed one; thou wast the first to be honoured by Him with the crown of victory in Heaven, as the spearhead of the athletes, O first crowned champion of the Martyrs.
Σήμερα η Εκκλησία γιορτάζει την ανεύρεση και την ανακομιδή των ιερών λειψάνων του αγίου Πρωτομάρτυρος Στεφάνου. Η φροντίδα της Εκκλησίας για τα λείψανα των Αγίων ήταν πάντα πολύ μεγάλη κι η ευλάβεια των χριστιανών προς αυτά δικαιολογημένη. Από τα ιερώτερα πράγματα που η γη κρατεί στα σπλάχνα της είναι τα ιερά λείψανα των Αγίων, των ηρώων εκείνων της πίστεως, που έζησαν τον βίο τους με φόβο Θεού και είτε εκοιμήθηκαν ειρηνικά είτε έλαβαν το στέφανο του μαρτυρίου. Σε έναν ωραίο ύμνο της ψάλλει η Εκκλησία· "Ως απαρχάς της φύσεως τω φυτουργώ της κτίσεως η οικουμένη προσφέρει σοι, Κύριε, τους θεοφόρους μάρτυρας...". Σαν τα πρωτογεννήματα του ανθρωπίνου γένους προσφέρει η Εκκλησία στο Δημιουργό τους αγίους και θεοφόρους Μάρτυρας. Πρώτος μέσα σε όλους, νεανίας ωραίος στην ψυχή και το σώμα, είναι ο πρωτοδιάκονος και πρωτομάρτυρας Στέφανος, "πλήρης πίστεως και δυνάμεως".
Ἀνακομιδὴ τοῦ Λειψάνου τοῦ Ἁγίου Πρωτομάρτυρος Στεφάνου
Τὸ γεγονὸς αὐτὸ συνέβη στὰ χρόνια ποὺ οἱ μεγάλοι διωγμοὶ τῶν πρώτων χριστιανῶν εἶχαν κοπάσει καὶ αὐτοκράτωρ ἦταν ὁ Μέγας Κωνσταντῖνος. Τότε, ὁ Ἅγιος Στέφανος φανερώθηκε τρεῖς φορὲς σὲ κάποιον εὐσεβῆ γέροντα ἱερέα, τὸ Λουκιανό, καὶ τοῦ ἀποκάλυψε τὸν τόπο, ὅπου ἦταν κρυμμένο τὸ λείψανό του. Αὐτὸς ἀμέσως τὸ ἀνέφερε στὸν Πατριάρχη Ἱεροσολύμων Ἰωάννη, ποὺ μὲ τὴν σειρά του πῆγε στὸν ὑποδεικνυόμενο τόπο καὶ πράγματι βρῆκε τὸ Ἱερὸ λείψανο τοῦ Ἁγίου Στεφάνου. Κατὰ τὴν εὕρεση ἔγινε μεγάλος σεισμός, καὶ τὸ λείψανο τοῦ Ἁγίου πλημμύρισε εὐωδιὰ τοὺς παρευρισκόμενους στὸν τόπο ἐκεῖνο. Λέγεται ὅτι ἀπὸ τὸν οὐρανὸ ἀκούστηκαν ἀγγελικὲς φωνές, ποὺ ἔλεγαν «Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις Θεῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη, ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία». Δηλαδή, δόξα ἂς εἶναι στὸ Θεό, στὰ ὕψιστα μέρη τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ στὴν ταραγμένη ἀπὸ τὴν ἁμαρτία γῆ ἂς βασιλεύσει ἡ θεία εἰρήνη, διότι ὁ Θεὸς φανέρωσε τὴν εὐαρέσκειά Του στοὺς ἀνθρώπους, μὲ τὴν ἐνανθρώπιση τοῦ Υἱοῦ Του. Φανέρωναν, ἔτσι, οἱ ἄγγελοι περίτρανα ὅτι ὁ πρωτομάρτυρας Στέφανος μαρτύρησε γιὰ τὴν ἀγάπη καὶ τὴν δόξα τοῦ Θεοῦ. Ἀργότερα, τὰ λείψανα τοῦ Ἁγίου μεταφέρθηκαν ἀπὸ τὴν Ἱερουσαλὴμ στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη καὶ ἐναποτέθησαν στὸν - ἐπ᾿ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ - ἀνεγερθέντα Ναὸ ὑπὸ τοῦ Μ. Κωνσταντίνου.
Εὕρεσις τῶν Λειψάνων τῶν Ἁγ. Μαρτύρων Μαξίμου, Δάδα καὶ Κυντιλλιανοῦ
Οἱ ἅγιοι αὐτοὶ ἔζησαν στὰ χρόνια τῶν βασιλέων Διοκλητιανοῦ καὶ Μαξιμιανοῦ (296 μ.Χ.), στὴν πόλη Δωρόστολο στὴ χώρα τῆς δεύτερης Μυσίας, ὅπως ἀναφέρει ὁ Ἅγ. Νικόδημος ὁ Ἁγιορείτης. Ὅταν τοὺς συνέλαβε ὁ Ὑπατος Ταρκίνιος, διέταξε νὰ θυσιάσουν στὰ εἴδωλα. Ἐπειδὴ ὅμως οἱ Ἅγιοι ἀρνήθηκαν νὰ ἐκτελέσουν τὴν διαταγή, μαστιγώθηκαν ἀλύπητα. Ἔπειτα τοὺς ὁδήγησαν σ᾿ ἕνα τόπο, ποὺ εἶχε τὴν ὀνομασία Ὀζοβίας καὶ ἐκεῖ -13 Ἀπριλίου- τοὺς ἀποκεφάλισαν. σ᾿ αὐτὴ τὴν τοποθεσία λοιπόν, ἔμειναν γιὰ πολλὰ χρόνια κρυμμένα τὰ λείψανά τους. Ἀλλὰ τὴν 2α Αὐγούστου, ἄγγελος Κυρίου φανέρωσε τὸν τόπο ὅπου ἦταν κρυμμένα τὰ ἅγια λείψανα τῶν τριῶν Μαρτύρων, καὶ μεταφέρθηκαν στὸ ναὸ τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου (στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη), στὸν τόπο Βιγλεντίου λεγόμενο, ὅπου καὶ πανηγυρίζουν στὴ μνήμη τους.
Ἐγκαίνια Ἱεροῦ Ναοῦ Ἁγίου Ἰωάννου Θεολόγου πλησίον τῆς ἁγιωτάτης Μεγάλης Ἐκκλησίας
Ὁ Ἅγιος Φωκᾶς
Δὲν ὑπάρχει κανένα βιογραφικό του στοιχεῖο, ἁπλὰ ἀναφέρεται σὰν Ἅγιος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας.
Ἡ Κοίμησις τοῦ εὐσεβοῦς βασιλέως Ἰουστινιανοῦ Β´ ποὺ τάφηκε στοὺς Ἁγίους Ἀποστόλους
Πρόκειται γιὰ τὸν Ἰουστινιανὸ Β´ τὸν νέο τὸν Ρινότμητο, ποὺ βασίλευσε ἀπὸ τὸ ἔτος 685 ἕως τὸ ἔτος 695.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Θεόδωρος ὁ Νεομάρτυρας ποὺ μαρτύρησε στὰ Δαρδανέλλια
Ἀσυμβίβαστος μέχρι θανάτου ἀπέναντι στὶς Τουρκικὲς προκλήσεις γιὰ τὴν πίστη του. Ὁ νεομάρτυρας Θεόδωρος γεννήθηκε σ᾿ ἕνα χωριὸ τῆς ἐπαρχίας Ἑλλησπόντου καὶ Τρωάδος, ποὺ Τούρκικα ὀνομαζόταν Ἐρένκιοϊ. Ἀνατράφηκε δὲ ἀπὸ εὐσεβεῖς γονεῖς, τὸν Γεώργιο καὶ τὴν Κυριακή. Σὲ νεαρὴ ἡλικία πῆγε στὴν πόλη Τανὰκ Καλὲ (Δαρδανέλλια), ὅπου ἔμαθε καὶ ἐξασκοῦσε τὴν τέχνη ἐπεξεργασίας σουσαμιοῦ. Ἂν καὶ ἦταν μόλις 20 χρονῶν, ὁ Θεὸς τὸν εἶχε προικίσει μὲ πλούσια ἀρετή. Αὐτὸ ὅμως τὸ πρόσεξε καὶ κάποιος πλούσιος Τοῦρκος τῆς πόλης, ποὺ θέλησε νὰ τὸν ἐξισλαμίσει καὶ νὰ τὸν κάνει γαμπρό του καὶ κληρονόμο του. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ καὶ χρησιμοποίησε πολλὰ δόλια μέσα. Ἀλλ᾿ ὁ Θεόδωρος ἀπέρριψε ὅλες τὶς προτάσεις του. Τότε ὁ Τοῦρκος τὸν συκοφάντησε στὸν κριτὴ τῆς πόλης, ὅτι δῆθεν ὁ Θεόδωρος -μετὰ ἀπὸ μία ἀρρώστια του - εἶπε ὅτι θὰ γίνει μωαμεθανός, ἂν γίνει ὑγιής. Ὁ Κριτὴς ρώτησε τὸν Θεόδωρο ἂν ἀληθεύουν ὅλα αὐτά. Τότε ὁ μάρτυρας ἀπάντησε: «Ἐγὼ εἶμαι χριστιανὸς ἀπ᾿ τοὺς γονεῖς μου καὶ χριστιανὸς θέλω νὰ πεθάνω. Τὸν Ἰησοῦ μου δὲν ἀρνοῦμαι καὶ τὴν μιαρὴ θρησκεία σας ἀπεχθάνομαι». Ἀμέσως τότε τὸν ἅρπαξαν καὶ ὑπέστη πολλὰ καὶ φρικτὰ βασανιστήρια. Τελικὰ στὶς 2 Αὐγούστου 1690, στὶς 3μ.μ. τὸν ἀποκεφάλισαν. Τὸ 1922 ἡ τίμια κάρα τοῦ Ἁγίου μεταφέρθηκε στὸν Ἱερὸ Ναὸ τῆς Ὁσίας Ξένης στὴ Νίκαια Πειραιῶς.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Βασίλειος ὁ διὰ Χριστὸν σαλὸς καὶ θαυματουργὸς στὴ Μόσχα (Ρῶσος)
Ἡ Ὁσία Φωτεινὴ ἢ Φώτου ἡ Κυπρία
Translation of the relics of the Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen (428)
After the First Martyr Stephen was stoned to death, his body was left for the dogs; but his teacher Gamaliel had his body secretly taken to a place outside Jerusalem and buried by night. About the year 427, a Fr Lucian, the parish priest near the place, was told in a dream where the relics of the Protomartyr were buried. He told Patriarch John of Jerusalem, and they went together to the place revealed. Digging there they found a box labeled with the word "Stephen" in Aramaic letters. They took the sacred relics to Jerusalem in solemn procession.
Hieromartyr Stephen, Pope of Rome (257), and those with him
As Bishop of Rome from 254 to 257, he battled the Novatian heresy. By his prayers he once healed Lucilla, the daughter of the Roman tribune Nemesius; for this both father and daughter were baptized into Christ. Saint Stephen and twelve of his priests were beheaded during a celebration of the Liturgy, during the reign of Valerian.
Blessed Basil of Moscow, fool-for-Christ (1552)
At the age of sixteen, he took up the podvig of folly for Christ, in which he continued for seventy-two years, living to the age of eighty-eight. He was homeless, barefood and dressed in tatters, wandering the streets of Moscow. Though mocked by many, he spoke to strangers of their secret sins, rebuked nobles for their hard-heartedness, and slowly became known as a Saint. Tsar Ivan and the Metropolitan of Moscow attended his funeral. He was buried in the church in Moscow that now bears his name.
The Transfer from Jerusalem to Constantinople of the Relics of the Holy FirstMartyr Stephen occurred in about the year 428.
After the holy FirstMartyr Archdeacon Stephen was pelted with stones by the Jews, they threw his holy body without burial for devouring by the beasts and birds. The reknown Jewish law-teacher Gamaliel, having begun to be inclined towards faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah and also defending the Apostles at the Sanhedrin (Acts 5: 34-40), on the second night sent people devoted to him to take up the body of the Firstmartyr. Gamaliel gave him burial on his own grounds, in a cave, not far from Jerusalem. When in turn there died the secret disciple of the Lord, Nicodemus, who had come to Christ at night (Jn. 3: 1-21; 7: 50-52; 19: 38-42), Gamaliel likewise buried him nearby the grave of Archdeacon Stephen. Afterwards Gamaliel himself, having accepted holy Baptism together with his son Habib, was buried near the grave of the FirstMartyr Stephen and Saint Nicodemus. In the year 415 the relics of the saint were uncovered in a miraculous manner and solemnly transferred to Jerusalem by the archbishop John together with the bishops Eleutherios of Sebasteia and Eleutherios of Jericho. From that time began healings from the relics.
Afterwards, during the reign of holy nobleborn emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450), the relics of the holy FirstMartyr Stephen were transferred from Jerusalem to Constantinople and placed in a church in honour of the holy Deacon Laurentius, and after the construction of a temple in honour of the FirstMartyr Stephen the relics were transferred there on 2 August. The right hand of the FirstMartyr is preserved in the Serapionov chamber of the Troitsky-Sergiev Lavra.
Blessed Saint Vasilii (Basil), Moscow Wonderworker, was born in December 1468 on the portico of the Elokhovsk church in honour of the Vladimir Icon of the MostHoly Mother of God, outside Moscow. His parents were common folk and sent their son for training in the cobbler's (shoemaker's) craft. During the time of teaching his apprentice the master happened to be a witness to a certain remarkable occurrence, wherein he perceived, that his student was no ordinary man. A certain merchant had brought grain to Moscow on a barge and then went to order boots, specifying to make them such and so, since he would not pick them up for a year. Blessed Vasilii uttered weeping: "I would thee leave them such, since thou will not wear them out". To the perplexed questioning of the master the apprentice explained, that the man making the order would not put on the boots, but rather would soon be dead. After several days the prediction came true.
At age 16 the saint arrived in Moscow and began the thorny exploit of foolishness. In the burning Summer hear and in the crisp harsh frost he walked about bare-legged and bare-foot through the streets of Moscow. His actions were strange: here he would upset a stand with kalachi, and there he would spill a jug with kvas. Angry merchants throttled the blessed saint, but he took the beatings with joy and he thanked God for them. But then it was discovered, that the kalachi were poorly cooked, the kvas was badly prepared. The reputation of Blessed Vasilii quickly grew: in him they perceived a fool, a man of God, a denouncer of wrong.
A certain merchant was intent to build on Pokrovna in Moscow a stone church, but thrice its arches collapsed. The merchant turned for advice to the blessed saint, and he pointed him toward Kiev: "Find there John the Cripple, he will give thee the advice, how to construct the church". Having journeyed to Kiev, the Merchant sought out John, who sat a poor hut and rocked an empty cradle. "Whom dost thou rock?" -- asked the merchant. "My beloved mother I do beweep, long indigent for my birth and upbringing". Only then did the merchant remember his own mother, whom he had thrown out of the house, and it became clear to him, why he was in no wise able to build the church. Having returned to Moscow, he brought his mother home, begged her forgiveness and built the church.
Preaching mercy, the blessed saint helped first of all those, who were ashamed to ask for alms, but who all the while more were more in need of help than others. There was an instance, where he gave away a rich imperial present to a foreign merchant, who was left without anything at all and, although for three days already the man had eaten nothing, he was not able to turn for help, since he wore fine clothing.
Harshly did the blessed saint condemn those, who gave alms for selfish reasons, not from compassion for the poor and destitute, but hoping for an easy way to attract the blessings of God upon their affairs. One time the blessed saint saw a devil, which took on the guise of a beggar. He sat at the gates of the All-Pure Virgin's church, and to everyone who gave alms, he rendered speedy help in their affairs. The blessed saint exposed the wicked trick and drove away the devil. For the salvation of one's neighbours Blessed Vasilii visited also the taverns, where he endeavoured, even in people very much gone to ruin, to see a grain of goodness, and to strengthen and encourage them by kindness. Many observed, that when the saint passed by an house in which they madly made merry and drank, he with tears clasped the corners of that house. They enquired of the fool what this meant, and he answered: "Angels stand in sorrow at the house and are distressed about the sins of the people, but I with tears entreat them to pray to the Lord for the conversion of sinners".
Purified by great deeds and by the prayer of his soul, the blessed saint was vouchsafed also the gift of foreseeing the future. In 1547 he predicted the great conflagration of Moscow; by prayer he extinguished a conflagration at Novgorod; one time he reproached tsar Ivan the Terrible, that during the time of Divine-services he was preoccupied with thoughts about the construction of a palace on the Vorob'ev hills.
Blessed Vasilii died on 2 August 1557. Saint Metropolitan of Moscow Makarii with an assemblage of clergy made the funeral of the saint. His body was buried at the Trinity church, in the trench where in 1554 was being annexed the Pokrov cathedral in memory of the conquest of Kazan. The glorification of Blessed Vasilii was by a Sobor-Council on 2 August 1588, which His Holiness Patriarch Job proclaimed.
In a description of the appearance of the saint characteristic details were preserved: "All bare, in the hand a staff". The veneration of Blessed Vasilii was always so strong, that the Trinity temple and the attached Pokrov church are to the present named the temple of Blessed Vasilii [i.e. the famous Saint Basil's in Moscow].
The chains of the saint are preserved at the Moscow Spiritual Academy.
Blessed Vasilii of Kamensk lived during the XV Century, was a monk at the Saviour-Kamen monastery, situated on an island of Lake Kuben (not far from Vologda). At the shrine of his relics, -- built afterwards in a church in honour of Saint Vasilii (Basil) of Moscow, is an icon in full stature of Saint Vasilii of Kamensk, with heavy iron chains and a cap of iron strips.
The PriestMartyr Stephen, Pope of Rome, suffered in the year 257 during the reign of the emperor Valerian. Saint Stephen, occupying the throne (253-257) of the Sainted First-Bishop of Rome, zealously contended against the heresy of Novatus, which taught that it is not proper to receive back those returning from heresy. In hiding during a time of persecution against Christians, the saint baptised many pagans, in which number was the military tribune Nemesius -- converted to Christ after the saint healed his daughter Lucilla. Nemesius, ordained to the dignity of deacon, and also his daughter, were beheaded by the sword. Their steward Symphronius, brought by the tribune Olympius into the temple of Mars for torture, by prayer shattered the golden idol, after which the tribune with his wife Exuperia and his son Theodolus believed and were baptised. They were all burnt. Their remains were buried by holy Pope Stephen. Then were beheaded his 12 clergy: Bonus, Faustus, Maurus, Primitivus, Calumniosus, John, Exuperantus, Cyril, Theodore, Basil, Castelus, Honoratus and Tertullinus, all converted by Saint Stephen. Finally, Saint Stephen himself was led before the emperor Valerian, who condemned him to beheading with a sword in the temple of Mars. But by the prayers of the saint, a large part of the pagan-temple was destroyed, and the soldiers fled. The saint concealed himself in the catacombs (the resting place of Saint Lucina or Lucy), where afterwards he was killed by arriving soldiers while he was teaching Christians.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE VENERABLES ISAAC [ISAACIUS,] DALMATUS [DALMATIUS] AND FAUST [FAUSTUS]
Venerable Isaac is celebrated again separately on May 30. At first, St. Dalmatus was an officer during the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Great whom the emperor held in great esteem. When the spirit awakened in him, he despised all earthly things, resigned his rank and took his only son Faust and, with him, went to the community of St. Isaac in the outskirts of Constantinople where they both were tonsured as monks. Dalmatus was completely devoted to a god-pleasing life for which the elder Isaac rejoiced. When Isaac approached the hour of death, he appointed Dalmatus as abbot in his place. Later, this community was named after him - the so-called Dalmatus. Dalmatus devoted himself to fasting, at times for forty days. By fasting he conquered the invisible demonic power. He participated in the Third Ecumenical Council [Ephesus 431 A.D.] and fought against the Nestorian heresy. Pleasing God, he died peacefully in the fifth century. His son Faust supported his father in everything and, after a God-pleasing life, died peacefully in this Dalmatus community.
2. VENERABLE COSMAS, THE EUNUCH
Cosmas was a monk from the Pharan Lavra. He was well versed in Holy Scripture. So much did he value the words of St. Athanasius the Great that he said to his disciples: "Whenever you hear any word from the books of St. Athanasius and, if you have no paper, write it down on your handkerchief." In his old age, Cosmas came to Antioch to Patriarch Gregory (+584 A.D.) and there ended his life. The patriarch ordered that the body of Cosmas be buried in the monastery of the partiarchate. A man frequently came to the grave of Cosmas, honoring the saint and prayed to God there. Asked why he did this, he revealed that he lay paralyzed for twelve years and that St. Cosmas had healed him.
3. VENERABLE ANTHONY, THE ROMAN
Anthony was born in Rome in 1086 A.D. of devout and wealthy parents. At that time, the Roman Church separated from the Eastern Church and all who remained faithful to the Eastern Church were persecuted by the Roman clergy. Among the persecuted was Anthony. He distributed all of his inherited wealth and was tonsured a monk. Anthony lived a life of mortification by standing on a rock in the sea for fourteen months. Meanwhile, the rock separated from its base and by miraculous providence sailed the waters to Novgorod. In Novgorod, Archbishop Nicetas received him kindly and helped him build a church to the Holy Birth-giver of God, later to become a monastery. Anthony lived a long time as the abbot of this monastery and manifested the great power of grace through many miracles. He died peacefully in the year 1146 A.D. and took up habitation in the mansions of the Lord.
4. SAINT SALOME, THE MYRRH-BEARER
Salome was the mother of the Apostles James and John, the wife of Zebedee and the daughter of Joseph, the betrothed of the All-Holy Birth-giver of God. She served the Lord during His earthly life and was deemed worthy to be among the first to proclaim His resurrection.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE VENERABLE ANTHONY OF NOVGOROD
A lifeless rock and a man on the rock,
The turbulent sea, around it foams
Anthony, in God, engrossed
His mind, to God, ceaselessly raised
And prayers, with the heart, ascended.
The rock moved and Anthony remains silent,
Completely in God, about evil, does not suspect,
Frightened are all evils, before a hero
But mostly, before a true monk.
Man, by Providence, is directed
And, through the saints, God glorifies Himself.
Through Anthony, God is glorified,
Anthony, as a star, shown
In the great city of Novgorod,
Where, to the people, a miracle was proclaimed.
Anthony nourished humility,
His mind to God, ceaselessly raised,
Humble soul, to God a sweet sacrifice,
And prayer the incense of true sacrifice,
Anthony, both incense and sacrifice
A dead saint, God never saw
As the discerning saint neither saw God [as dead].
Holy souls read Holy Scripture with great diligence concentrating on every word and placing themselves before the mirror of the Word of God as before the Dread Judgment. Their diligence was so great in this that some of the ascetics undertook distant journeys in order to come to a spiritual sage who would interpret for them a word or a saying from Holy Scripture. Whenever it was possible, this was accomplished through correspondence. It is from this that a complete collection of the letters of the saints remained [survived] such as those of Saints Basil, Gregory, Chrysostom, Isidore of Pelusium, Nilus of Sinai and many others. One day St. Cosmas pondered on the words of the Lord Christ when He, in the Garden of Gethsemane, asked His disciples whether they had a sword. When His disciples said to Him: "Lord, behold, here are two swords. And He said to them, it is enough" (St. Luke 22:38). Being unable to explain these words himself, St. Cosmas decided to cross over the wilderness to the distant Lavra called Pirga to the illustrious Abba Theophilus to inquire of him. With great difficulty did St. Cosmas succeed to reach his goal. Theophilus explained to him: "The two swords signify the two-fold order of a god-pleasing life: deeds and visions, i.e., labor and awakening of the mind to godly thoughts and prayer. Whoever has both of these, he is perfect."
To contemplate the ingratitude of the Jews toward God the Deliver and on God's punishment (Judges 13):
1. How the sons of Israel again did that which is wicked before the Lord;
2. How the Lord handed them over into the hands of the Philistines for forty years;
3. How the ungratefulness of a liberated people toward God the Deliver, even today, is punished by bondage under foreigners.
About human ingratitude unseen even among the animals
"The ox knoweth hisowner and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider" (Isaiah 1:3).
The ingratitude of man is most strongly exposed by the gratitude of animals. When the irrational ox knows who his master is and when the ass knows from whose crib it is fed, how then can rational man not know about God, His Creator and Nourisher? The word Israel means "one who sees God." And every rational man should by his rationality be "one who sees God", to know God, to feel the presence of God and to serve God as once did the meek and wonderful Jacob. But when rational man, whose entire dignity is in the knowledge of God, does not know God, i.e., when the "one who sees God" becomes blind toward God, then the dignity of the ox and the ass is raised in dignity above such a man. For an ox, without exception, recognizes his master and the ass, without exception, recognizes the one who feeds him while among men there exists exceptions, i.e., there exist men and, very often leaders of men, who do not recognize their Lord nor their Nourisher. In all of created nature, godlessness is a disease only among men for godliness is the condition of normality and health only for men and not for animals. Thus, godlessness is not the disease of animals but of men; alas, only of men, only they who are destined to be "ones who see God" and who, when they lose their godliness, become poorer than the ox and the ass.
This is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the Prophet of God.
O God of meek Jacob, of Israel, enlightened one "who sees God", help us to maintain our human dignity, the dignity of one "who sees God" and that in every day and every hour, we may know and recognize You with gratitude, as our Lord and Nourisher.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.