FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Sunday of the Holy Fathers
The Holy Martyrs Cyricus and His Mother Julitta
Vladimir, Equal-to-the-Apostles of Kiev
The Finding of the Head of St. Matrona of Chios
Τῶν Ἁγίων καί θεοφόρων 630 Πατέρων τῆς Ἁγίας καί Οἰκουμενικῆς Δ΄ Συνόδου, ἐν Χαλκηδόνι.
Τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Κηρύκου καί Ἰουλίττης τῆς μητρός αὐτοῦ.
Τῶν Ὁσιομαρτύρων Νεοφύτου τοῦ Ἀμοργινοῦ, Ἰωνᾶ τοῦ Λερίου, Νεοφύτου τοῦ Φαζοῦ, Ἰωνᾶ τοῦ Γαρμπῆ καί Παρθενίου τοῦ Φιλιπποπουλίτου.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from Luke 24:36-53
At that time, Jesus, having risen from the dead, stood in the midst of his disciples and said to them, "Peace to you." But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have." And when he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.
Then he said to them, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high."
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.
Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 24.36-53
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ,ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἔστη ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· εἰρήνη ὑμῖν. πτοηθέντες δὲ καὶ ἔμφοβοι γενόμενοι ἐδόκουν πνεῦμα θεωρεῖν. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τί τεταραγμένοι ἐστέ, καὶ διατί διαλογισμοὶ ἀναβαίνουσιν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν; ἴδετε τὰς χεῖράς μου καὶ τοὺς πόδας μου, ὅτι αὐτὸς ἐγώ εἰμι· ψηλαφήσατέ με καὶ ἴδετε, ὅτι πνεῦμα σάρκα καὶ ὀστέα οὐκ ἔχει καθὼς ἐμὲ θεωρεῖτε ἔχοντα. καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἐπέδειξεν αὐτοῖς τὰς χεῖρας καὶ τοὺς πόδας. ἔτι δὲ ἀπιστούντων αὐτῶν ἀπὸ τῆς χαρᾶς καὶ θαυμαζόντων εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ἔχετέ τι βρώσιμον ἐνθάδε; οἱ δὲ ἐπέδωκαν αὐτῷ ἰχθύος ὀπτοῦ μέρος καὶ ἀπὸ μελισσίου κηρίου, καὶ λαβὼν ἐνώπιον αὐτῶν ἔφαγεν. εἶπε δὲ αὐτοῖς· οὗτοι οἱ λόγοι οὓς ἐλάλησα πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἔτι ὢν σὺν ὑμῖν, ὅτι δεῖ πληρωθῆναι πάντα τὰ γεγραμμένα ἐν τῷ νόμῳ Μωϋσέως καὶ προφήταις καὶ ψαλμοῖς περὶ ἐμοῦ. τότε διήνοιξεν αὐτῶν τὸν νοῦν τοῦ συνιέναι τὰς γραφάς, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὅτι οὕτω γέγραπται καὶ οὕτως ἔδει παθεῖν τὸν Χριστὸν καὶ ἀναστῆναι ἐκ νεκρῶν τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ, καὶ κηρυχθῆναι ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ μετάνοιαν καὶ ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, ἀρξάμενον ἀπὸ ῾Ιερουσαλήμ. ὑμεῖς δέ ἐστε μάρτυρες τούτων. καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ πατρός μου ἐφ᾿ ὑμᾶς· ὑμεῖς δὲ καθίσατε ἐν τῇ πόλει ῾Ιερουσαλὴμ ἕως οὗ ἐνδύσησθε δύναμιν ἐξ ὕψους.
᾿Εξήγαγε δὲ αὐτοὺς ἔξω ἕως εἰς Βηθανίαν, καὶ ἐπάρας τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῦ εὐλόγησεν αὐτούς. καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εὐλογεῖν αὐτὸν αὐτοὺς διέστη ἀπ᾿ αὐτῶν καὶ ἀνεφέρετο εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν. καὶ αὐτοὶ προσκυνήσαντες αὐτὸν ὑπέστρεψαν εἰς ῾Ιερουσαλὴμ μετὰ χαρᾶς μεγάλης, καὶ ἦσαν διὰ παντὸς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ αἰνοῦντες καὶ εὐλογοῦντες τὸν Θεόν. ἀμήν.
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to Titus 3:8-15
TITUS, my son, the saying is sure. I desire you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to apply themselves to good deeds; these are excellent and profitable to men. But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels over the law, for they are unprofitable and futile. As for a man who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned.
When I send Artemas or Tychicos to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. And let our people learn to apply themselves to good deeds, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not to be unfruitful.
All who are with me send greeting to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.
Πρὸς Τίτον 3:8-15
Πιστὸς ὁ λόγος, καὶ περὶ τούτων βούλομαί σε διαβεβαιοῦσθαι, ἵνα φροντίζωσιν καλῶν ἔργων προΐστασθαι οἱ πεπιστευκότες θεῷ. ταῦτά ἐστιν καλὰ καὶ ὠφέλιμα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις · μωρὰς δὲ ζητήσεις καὶ γενεαλογίας καὶ ἔριν καὶ μάχας νομικὰς περιΐστασο, εἰσὶν γὰρ ἀνωφελεῖς καὶ μάταιοι. αιῥετικὸν ἄνθρωπον μετὰ μίαν καὶ δευτέραν νουθεσίαν παραιτοῦ, εἰδὼς ὅτι ἐξέστραπται ὁ τοιοῦτος καὶ ἁμαρτάνει, ὢν αὐτοκατάκριτος. Ὅταν πέμψω Ἀρτεμᾶν πρὸς σὲ ἢ Τυχικόν, σπούδασον ἐλθεῖν πρός με εἰς Νικόπολιν, ἐκεῖ γὰρ κέκρικα παραχειμάσαι. Ζηνᾶν τὸν νομικὸν καὶ Ἀπολλῶν σπουδαίως πρόπεμψον, ἵνα μηδὲν αὐτοῖς λείπῃ. μανθανέτωσαν δὲ καὶ οἱ ἡμέτεροι καλῶν ἔργων προΐστασθαι εἰς τὰς ἀναγκαίας χρείας, ἵνα μὴ ὦσιν ἄκαρποι. Ἀσπάζονταί σε οἱ μετ ᾽ἐμοῦ πάντες. Ἄσπασαι τοὺς φιλοῦντας ἡμᾶς ἐν πίστει. ἡ χάρις μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν.
The Reading is from Matthew 5:14-19
The Lord said to his disciples, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 5.14-19
Εἶπεν ὁ Κὐριος τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ μαθηταῖς· ῾Υμεῖς ἐστε τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου. οὐ δύναται πόλις κρυβῆναι ἐπάνω ὄρους κειμένη·οὐδὲ καίουσι λύχνον καὶ τιθέασι αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ τὴν λυχνίαν, καὶ λάμπει πᾶσι τοῖς ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ.οὕτω λαμψάτω τὸ φῶς ὑμῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὅπως ἴδωσιν ὑμῶν τὰ καλὰ ἔργα καὶ δοξάσωσι τὸν πατέρα ὑμῶν τὸν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον καταλῦσαι τὸν νόμον ἢ τοὺς προφήτας· οὐκ ἦλθον καταλῦσαι, ἀλλὰ πληρῶσαι.ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ, ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται.ὃς ἐὰν οὖν λύσῃ μίαν τῶν ἐντολῶν τούτων τῶν ἐλαχίστων καὶ διδάξῃ οὕτω τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, ἐλάχιστος κληθήσεται ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν· ὃς δ᾿ ἂν ποιήσῃ καὶ διδάξῃ, οὗτος μέγας κληθήσεται ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΙΕ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Κηρύκου καὶ Ἰουλίττης.
Ἰουλίττα σύναθλος υἱῷ Κηρύκῳ,
Ἡ λαιμότμητος τῷ κάραν τεθλασμένῳ, Πέμπτῃ.
Ἰουλίτταν δεκάτῃ τάμον, υἷα δ' ἔαξαν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου μάρτυρος Λολλιανοῦ.
Ποσὶ προθύμοις ἔδραμε τρίβον τέλους.
Ὁ Λολλιανός, οὗ ποσίκρουστον τέλους,
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Ἀβουδίμου.
Ἀβουδίμῳ μάχαιρα πρόξενος τέλους,
Αὕτη δὲ τούτῳ πρόξενος καὶ τοῦ στέφους.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
On the Sunday that falls from the 13th to the 19th of the present month, we chant the Service to the Holy and God-bearing Fathers who came together in the Seven Ecumenical Councils, that is: the First Council, of the 318 Fathers who assembled in Nicaea in 325 to condemn Arius, who denied that the Son of God is consubstantial with the Father; the Fathers of the First Council also ordained that the whole Church should celebrate Pascha according to the same reckoning; the Second Council, of the 150 Fathers who assembled in Constantinople in 381 to condemn Macedonius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who denied the Divinity of the Holy Spirit; the Third Council, of the 200 Fathers who assembled in Ephesus in 431, to condemn Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who called Christ a mere man and not God incarnate; the Fourth Council, of the 630 who assembled in Chalcedon in 451, to condemn Eutyches, who taught that there was only one nature, the divine, in Christ after the Incarnation, and Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who illegally received Eutyches back into communion and deposed Saint Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople, who had excommunicated Eutyches; the Fifth Council in 535, of the 165 who assembled in Constantinople for the second time to condemn Origen and Theodore of Mopsuestia, the teacher of Nestorius; the Sixth Council in 680, of the 170 who assembled in Constantinople for the third time, to condemn the Monothelite heresy, which taught that there is in Christ but one will, the divine; and the Seventh Council in 787, of the 350 who assembled in Nicaea for the second time to condemn Iconoclasm.
Resurrectional Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone
Τὸν συνάναρχον Λόγον Πατρὶ καὶ Πνεύματι, τὸν ἐκ Παρθένου τεχθέντα εἰς σωτηρίαν ἡμῶν, ἀνυμνήσωμεν πιστοὶ καὶ προσκυνήσωμεν, ὅτι ηὐδόκησε σαρκί, ἀνελθεῖν ἐν τῷ σταυρῷ, καὶ θάνατον ὑπομεῖναι, καὶ ἐγεῖραι τοὺς τεθνεῶτας, ἐν τῇ ἐνδόξῳ Ἀναστάσει αὐτοῦ.
Let us worship the Word who is unoriginate * with the Father and the Spirit, and from a Virgin was born * for our salvation, O believers, and let us sing His praise. * For in His goodness He was pleased * to ascend the Cross in the flesh, and to undergo death, * and to raise up those who had died, * by His glorious Resurrection.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Ὑπερδεδοξασμένος εἶ, Χριστὲ ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν, ὁ φωστῆρας ἐπὶ γῆς τοὺς Πατέρας ἡμῶν θεμελιώσας, καὶ δι' αὐτῶν πρὸς τὴν ἀληθινὴν πίστιν, πάντας ἡμᾶς ὁδηγήσας· πολυεύσπλαγχνε, δόξα σοι.
You are greatly glorified, O Christ our God, who established our Fathers as luminaries upon the earth, and through them led us all to the true Faith. O Most compassionate, glory to You.
Seasonal Kontakion in the Second Tone
Προστασία τῶν Χριστιανῶν ἀκαταίσχυντε, μεσιτεία πρὸς τὸν Ποιητὴν ἀμετάθετε, μὴ παρίδης ἁμαρτωλῶν δεήσεων φωνᾶς· ἀλλὰ πρόφθασον ὡς ἀγαθή, εἰς τὴν βοήθειαν ἠμῶν, τῶν πιστῶς κραυγαζόντων σοί· Τάχυνον εἰς πρεσβείαν, καὶ σπεῦσον εἰς ἱκεσίαν, ἡ προστατεύουσα ἀεί, Θεοτόκε τῶν τιμώντων σέ.
O Protection of Christians that cannot be put to shame, mediation unto the creator most constant: O despise not the voices of those who have sinned; but be quick, O good one, to come unto our aid, who in faith cry unto thee: Hasten to intercession and speed thou to make supplication, O thou who dost ever protect, O Theotokos, them that honor thee.
Resurrectional Kontakion in the Plagal of the First Tone
Μιμητής υπάρχων Πρός τόν Άδην Σωτήρ μου συγκαταβέβηκας, καί τάς πύλας συντρίψας ως παντοδύναμος, τούς θανόντας ως Κτίστης συνεξανέστησας, καί θανάτου τό κέντρον Χριστέ συνέτριψας, καί Αδάμ τής κατάρας ερρύσω Φιλάνθρωπε, διό πάντες σοί κράζομεν. Σώσον ημάς Κύριε.
You descended to Hades, my Savior, and shattered its gates, as the Almighty. As Creator, You raised the dead with yourself, and smashed the sting of death, O Christ. You freed Adam from the curse, O Lover of humanity. Therefore we all cry out to You, Save us, O Lord.
Saint Julitta was from the city of Iconium. Fearing the persecution of Diocletian, she took her son Cyricus, who was three years old, and departed for Seleucia; but finding the same evil there, she went over to Tarsus in Cilicia, where the ruler arrested her. He took her son from her and tried with flatteries to draw the youth to himself. But the little one, in his childish voice, called on the Name of Christ and kicked the ruler in the belly so hard, that the tyrant became enraged and cast him down the steps of the tribunal. In this manner, the child's head was crushed, and he gave up the spirit. As for his blessed mother, she first endured many torments, and finally was beheaded in the year 296.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Η λογική Χριστού αμνάς, Ιουλίττα, σύν Τριετεί αμνώ αυτής τώ Κηρύκω, δικαστικού πρό βήματος παρέστησαν, ευθαρσώς κηρύττοντες, τήν Xριστώνυμον κλήσιν, ουδόλως επτοήθησαν απειλάς τών τυράννων, καί στεφηφόροι νύν εν ουρανοίς, αγγαλιώνται Χριστώ παριστάμενοι.
Blessed Julitta, Christ God's rational ewe-lamb, with holy Cyricus, her three-year-old offspring, stood at the judgment seat and with authority and great boldness they proclaimed the true Faith of the Christians. In no wise were they afraid of the threats of the tyrants; and now in Heaven, wearing precious crowns, they both rejoice as they stand before Christ our God.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Εν αγκάλαις φέρουσα, η χριστομάρτυς, Ιουλίττα Κήρυκον, εν τώ σταδίω μητρικώς, αγαλλομένη εκραύγαζε, Σύ τών Μαρτύρων, Χριστέ το κραταίωμα.
As the Martyr of Christ God, the chaste Julitta, in her arms bare Cyricus, she cried out in the stadium with manful courage and boundless joy: Thou art the strength of the Martyrs, O Christ my God.
Grandson of Saint Olga, Saint Vladimir ascended the throne of Kiev in 980. Though a zealous idolater, he was illumined by the grace of God, accepted the Christian Faith, and completely changed his ways. He was baptized in Cherson in 988, receiving the name Basil; he came forth from the font not only healed of a blindness lately afflicting him, but also from being passionate and warlike, he became meek, peaceable, and exceedingly godly. Whereas his grandmother had refused marriage with the Emperor in Constantinople (see July 11), he married Anna, sister of the Emperors Basil and Constantine, and was accompanied home by priests from Constantinople. Diligently seeking to spread Christianity throughout his realm like a new Constantine, he destroyed the idols (having the chief diety Perun scourged and then cast into the Dnieper River), and summoned all his subjects to Holy Baptism. He reposed in peace in 1015.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thou wast like a merchant who seeketh a goodly pearl, O glorious Sovereign Vladimir, sitting on the height of the throne of the mother of cities, God-protected Kiev. Searching and sending to the imperial city to know the Orthodox Faith, thou didst find Christ, the priceless Pearl, Who chose thee as a second Paul, and Who did shake off thy spiritual and bodily blindness in the holy font. Wherefore, we who are thy people celebrate thy falling asleep. Pray that thy land of Russia be saved, and that Orthodox people be granted peace and great mercy.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Like the great Apostle Paul, O most glorious Vladimir, in thy maturity thou didst forsake all zeal for idols and a childish sophism, and as a full-grown man thou wast adorned with the royal purple of divine Baptism. And now as thou standest in joy in the presence of Christ our Saviour, pray that thy land of Russia be saved, and that Orthodox people be granted peace and great mercy.
Στην δύσκολη περίοδο των διωγμών της Εκκλησίας η μανία των διωκτών ωδήγησε στο μαρτύριο ανθρώπους κάθε ηλικίας. Άνδρες και γυναίκες πάνω στα καλά τους χρόνια, γέροντες ασπρομάλληδες και σεβάσμιοι, μικρά παιδιά και νήπια σύρθηκαν στα κριτήρια, έσκυψαν την κεφαλή κάτω από το ξίφος του δημίου, ανέβηκαν στη φωτιά, ρίχθηκαν στα θηρία. Μια περίπτωση μαρτυρίου μητέρας και παιδιού μαζί είναι των αγίων Μαρτύρων Κηρύκου και Ιουλίττης, τους οποίους γιορτάζει σήμερα η Εκκλησία. Προηγήθηκε στο μαρτύριο ο άγιος Κήρυκος, παιδί ακόμη στην αγκαλιά της μητέρας του, που μόλις ήξερε να ψελλίζη το όνομα Χριστός, σαν ομολογία της πίστεώς του. Η μητέρα του Ιουλίττα, με τις ίδιες ωδίνες που το γέννησε, είδε το παιδί της να πεθαίνη και το ακολούθησε στον ένδοξο μαρτυρικό του θάνατο. Διδακτικώτατο είναι τούτο το παράδειγμα για τους χριστιανούς γονείς, που έχουν χρέος να μεταδίνουν στα παιδιά τους "από βρέφους" τον ατίμητο θησαυρό της πίστεως.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Κήρυκος καὶ Ἰουλίττα ἡ μητέρα του
Ἡ Ἁγία Ἰουλίττα καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὸ Ἰκόνιο. Ἦταν ἐνάρετη χριστιανὴ γυναῖκα καὶ ὅταν χήρεψε δὲν ξαναπαντρεύτηκε, ἀλλὰ ζοῦσε μὲ εὐσέβεια, ἀφοσιωμένη στὴν ἀνατροφὴ τοῦ γιοῦ της Κηρύκου. Ὅταν ξέσπασε ὁ σκληρὸς διωγμὸς ἐπὶ Διοκλητιανοῦ, ἡ Ἰουλίττα πῆρε τὸν τριετὴ γιό της καὶ κατέφυγε στὴ Σελεύκεια. Ἀλλὰ ὁ διωγμὸς εἶχε ἐπεκταθεῖ κι ἐκεῖ. Τότε, μὲ τὸ γιό της στὴν ἀγκαλιά, πῆγε στὴν Ταρσὸ τῆς Κιλικίας. Ὁ ἔπαρχος Ἀλέξανδρος ἔμαθε γιὰ τὴν Ἰουλίττα καὶ ἀμέσως τὴν συνέλαβε. Προσπάθησε μὲ ποικίλους κολακευτικοὺς λόγους νὰ τὴν ἑλκύσει στὰ εἴδωλα. Καὶ ὅταν εἶδε ὅτι δὲν τὰ κατάφερε, πῆρε τὸν Κήρυκο ἀπὸ τὴν ἀγκαλιά της (τὴ στιγμὴ ποὺ τὸ ἅγιο παιδὶ ψέλλιζε μπροστά του τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Χριστοῦ) καὶ τὸν ἔριξε μὲ δύναμη στὶς σκάλες τοῦ βήματος, μὲ ἀποτέλεσμα νὰ τοῦ σπάσει τὸ κεφάλι καὶ τὸ παιδὶ νὰ πεθάνει ἐπὶ τόπου. Πύρινο μαχαίρι πέρασε ἀπὸ τὴν καρδιὰ τῆς Ἰουλίττας. Ἕσφιξε τὶς παλάμες της καὶ εἶπε: «Κακοῦργε ἄρχοντα, ὅπως συνέτριψες τὸ κεφάλι τοῦ παιδιοῦ μου, ἔτσι θὰ συντριβεῖ καὶ ἡ ψεύτικη θρησκεία σου». Θυμωμένος τότε ὁ ἔπαρχος, ἀμέσως ἀποκεφάλισε καὶ τὴν ἴδια, γιὰ νὰ μιμηθεῖ ἔτσι τὴν γενναία μητέρα τῶν Μακκαβαίων, γιὰ τὴν ὁποία λέει ἡ Ἅγια Γραφή: «Ὑπεραγόντως δὲ ἡ μήτηρ θαυμαστὴ καὶ μνήμης ἀγαθῆς ἀξία, ἥτις ἀπολυμένους υἱοὺς ἑπτὰ συνορῶσα μίας ὑπὸ καιρὸν ἡμέρας εὐψύχως ἔφερε διὰ τὰς ἐπὶ Κύριον ἐλπίδας». Δηλαδή, εἶναι ἀξιοθαύμαστη καὶ ἄξια ἀγαθῆς μνήμης ἡ μάνα, ποὺ ἂν καὶ ἔβλεπε νὰ πεθαίνουν τὰ ἑπτὰ παιδιά της μέσα σὲ μία μέρα, αὐτὴ τὸ ὑπέμεινε γενναῖα, διότι στήριζε τὶς ἐλπίδες της στὸν Κύριο.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Λολλιανός
Μαρτύρησε, ἀφοῦ θανατώθηκε ἀπὸ δήμιους μὲ κλωτσιές.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀβούδιμος
Ὁ θαῤῥαλέος αὐτὸς στρατιώτης τοῦ Χριστοῦ καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν νῆσο Τένεδο καὶ ὑπῆρξε ἀπὸ τὰ πρῶτα ὁλοκαυτώματα τῆς πίστεως, στὸν τότε διωγμὸ κατὰ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας ἐπὶ Διοκλητιανοῦ. Ἐπειδὴ δὲν θέλησε νὰ θυσιάσει στὰ εἴδωλα, τὸν ἔδεσαν καὶ τὸν ἔδειραν σκληρά. Ὁ Ἀβούδιμος ὅμως, μία ἀπάντηση εἶχε συνεχῶς στὸ στόμα του: «ΕΙΜΑΙ ΧΡΙΣΤΙΑΝΟΣ». Κατόπιν τοῦ ἔσχισαν τὰ πλευρὰ μὲ σιδερένια νύχια, καὶ ἐπειδὴ συνέχιζε νὰ ὁμολογεῖ τὸ Χριστό, τὸν θανάτωσαν μὲ ἀποκεφαλισμό.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Βλαδίμηρος ὁ Ἰσαπόστολος, βασιλιὰς τῶν Ρώσων
Ἅγιος της Ρωσικῆς Ὀρθόδοξης Ἐκκλησίας καὶ γιὸς τοῦ ἡγεμόνα τοῦ Κιέβου Σβιατοσλάβ. Γεννήθηκε τὸ ἔτος 949 μ.Χ. Ἡ μητέρα του ὀνομαζόταν Μαλοῦσα καὶ ἦταν πρῶτα ὑπηρέτρια τῆς μητέρας τοῦ συζύγου της, δηλαδὴ τῆς Ἁγίας βασίλισσας Ὄλγας, ποὺ ἦταν ἡ πρώτη ποὺ ἔγινε χριστιανὴ στὴ Ρωσία καὶ ὁδήγησε πολλοὺς στὴν εὐσέβεια. Ὅταν ὁ Βλαδίμηρος κατέλαβε τὸν θρόνο τοῦ Κιέβου, στὴν ἀρχὴ ἦταν εἰδωλολάτρης καὶ ἔτσι ἐνεργοῦσε. Πῆρε πολλὲς συζύγους καὶ ἀπόκτησε 12 γιοὺς καὶ 11 θυγατέρες. Κατόπιν ὅμως, μὲ τὶς θερμὲς προσευχὲς τῆς ἁγίας γιαγιᾶς του καὶ τὴν θεία φώτιση - πολλὰ σημεῖα λέγονται γιὰ τὴν προσέλευσή του στὸν χριστιανισμὸ - πίστεψε στὸν Χριστὸ καὶ βαπτίστηκε στὸ Κίεβο τὸ ἔτος 897. Παντρεύτηκε τὴν ἀδελφὴ τοῦ αὐτοκράτορα τοῦ Βυζαντίου Βασιλείου Β´ τοῦ Βουλγαροκτόνου Ἄννα καὶ γκρέμισε ὅλα τὰ εἴδωλα ποὺ ὑπῆρχαν στὴ χώρα. Βάπτισε τοὺς περισσότερους Ρώσους χριστιανοὺς καὶ ἔκτισε δυὸ ὡραῖες ἐκκλησίες στὸ Κίεβο. Ἡ ζωή του ἄλλαξε ριζικὰ καὶ ἔγινε ἀληθινὸς Χριστιανὸς καὶ βοήθησε πάρα πολὺ γιὰ τὴν ἐξάπλωση τοῦ Χριστιανισμοῦ. Ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικὰ στὶς 15 Ἰουλίου τοῦ ἔτους 1015.
Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Great Prince Vladimir (in holy baptism Basil), enlightener of the Russian Land (1051)
Though his grandmother, Queen Olga, had been a Christian, his father Svyatoslav reverted to paganism, and Prince Vladimir spent the early part of his life believing and living the beliefs of the pagan Russian people. But he sought for something more, and sent emissaries to study the faiths of the Jews, the Muslims, the Western Christians and the Orthodox. After attending services in Agia Sophia in Constantinople, they told him 'We knew not if we were on earth or in heaven,' and Prince Vladimir determined to embrace the Christian faith. He was baptised in Cherson in 988, receiving the name Basil. "He came forth from the font not only healed of a blindness lately afflicting him, but also from being passionate and warlike, he became meek, peaceable, and exceedingly godly." (Great Horologion). He married Princess Anna, sister of the Emperor, and returned home with a retinue of priests from Constantinople. He immediately set about building a Christian nation: casting down the idols, baptizing the people, and establishing a Christian government. His legislation for his recently barbarian nation was modeled on the Gospel, and in its conformity to Christ's commandments exceeded even the other Christian nations of the time. He reposed in peace in 1015, leaving behind a kingdom that grew to be the largest Orthodox nation in the world.
Holy Martyrs Cyricus and His Mother Julitta (304)
"Holy Julitta was of noble birth. She was widowed young, and left with a newborn child, Cerycus. She lived in Iconium, a city of Lycaonia, and was a very devout Christian. She had her son baptised immediately after his birth and, when he was three years old, instructed him in the Faith and taught him to pray insofar as a child of that age is capable of learning. When Diocletian launched a persecution of Christians, much innocent blood was shed in the city of Iconium. Julitta took her son and hid from the wrath of the pagans in the town of Seleucid, but things were no better there. Julitta was arrested as a Christian and brought to trial. Seeing Julitta so courageously proclaim her faith in the Lord Jesus, the judge, to distress her and make her waver, took the child in his arms and began to kiss it. But Cerycus shouted: 'I am a Christian; let me go to my mother!', and he began to scratch the judge, turning his face away from him. The judge was furious, threw the child to the ground and kicked it, and the child rolled down the stone steps and gave his holy and innocent soul to God. Seeing how Cerycus suffered before her, Julitta was filled with joy and gave thanks to God that her son had been counted worthy of the wreath of martyrdom. After harsh torture, Julitta was beheaded, in the year 304. The relics of Ss Cerycus and Julitta have wonderworking power to this day. A part of the relics of these saints is to be found in Ochrid, in the Church of the Holy Mother of God, the Healer." (Prologue)
Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Great Prince Vladimir: Few names in the annals of history can compare in significance with the name of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir, the Baptiser of Rus', who stands forever at the onset of the foreordained spiritual destiny of the Russian Church and the Russian Orthodox people. Vladimir was the grandson of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Olga, and he was the son of Svyatoslav (+ 972). His mother, Malusha (+ 1001) -- was the daughter of Malk Liubechanin, whom historians identify with Mal, prince of the Drevlyani. Having subdued an uprising of the Drevlyani and conquered their cities, Princess Olga gave orders to execute prince Mal, for his attempt to marry her after his murder of her husband Igor, and she took to herself the children of Mal, Dobrynya and Malusha. Dobrynya grew up to be a valiant brave warrior, endowed with a mind for state affairs, and he was later on an excellent help to his nephew Vladimir in matters of military and state administration.
The "capable girl" Malusha became a Christian (together with GreatPrincess Olga at Tsar'grad), but she preserved in herself a bit of the mysterious darkness of the pagan Drevlyani forests. And thus she fell in love with the austere warrior Svyatoslav, who against the will of his mother Olga made her his wife. The enraged Olga, reckoning as unseemly the marriage of her "housekeeper" and captive servant with her son Svyatoslav, heir to the Great Kiev principality, sent Malusha away to her own native region not far off from Vybut'. And there in about the year 960 was born the boy, called with the Russian pagan name -- Volodimir, meaning peaceful ruler, ruling with a special talent for peace.
In the year 970 Svyatoslav set out on a campaign from which he was fated not to return. He had divided the Russian Land amongst his three sons. At Kiev Yaropolk was prince; at Ovrucha, the centre of the Drevlyani lands, there was Oleg; at Novgorod there was Vladimir. His first years as prince we see Vladimir as a fierce pagan. He heads a campaign, in which the whole of pagan Rus' is sympathetic to him, against Yaropolk the Christian, or in any case, according to the chronicles, "having given great freedom to the Christians", on 11 July 978 he enters into Kiev, having become the "sole ruler" of the Kiev realm, "having subdued the surrounding lands, some -- by peaceful means, and the unsubmissive ones -- by the sword".
Young Vladimir indulged himself in a wild sensuous life, though far from being the libertine that they sometimes portray him. He "shepherded his land with truth, valour and reason", as a good and diligent master, of necessity he extended and defended its boundaries by force of arms, and in returning from military campaign, he made for his companions and for all Kiev liberal and merry feastings.
But the Lord prepared him for another task. Where sin increases, there -- in the words of the Apostle, -- grace abounds. "And upon him did come visitation of the MostHigh, and the All-Merciful eye of the Good God didst gaze upon him, and shine forth the thought in his heart, of understanding the vanity of idolous delusion, and of appealing to the One God, Creator of all things both visible and invisible". The matter of the acceptance of Baptism was facilitated through external circumstances. The Byzantine empire was in upheaval under the blows of the mutinous regiments of Bardas Skliros and Bardas Phokas, each of which sought to gain the imperial throne. In these difficult circumstances the emperors -- the co-regent brothers Basil the Bulgar-Slayer and Constantine, turned for help to Vladimir.
Events unfolded quickly. In August 987 Bardas Phokas proclaimed himself emperor and moved against Constantinople, and in Autumn of that same year the emissaries of emperor Basil were at Kiev. "And having exhausted his (Basil's) wealth, it compelled him to enter into an alliance with the emperor of the Russes. They were his enemies, but he besought their help, -- writes one of the Arab chronicles of events in the 980's. -- And the emperor of the Russes did consent to this, and did make common cause with him".
In reward for his military help, Vladimir besought the hand of the emperors' sister Anna, which for the Byzantines was an unheard of audacity. Princesses of the imperial lineage did not go off to marry "barbarian" rulers, even though they be Christian. At this same time the emperor Otto the Great was seeking the hand of this Anna for his son, and he was refused, but herein regarding Vladimir Constantinople was obliged to consent.
An agreement was concluded, according to which Vladimir had to send in aid to the emperors six thousand Varangians, to accept holy Baptism, and under these conditions he would receive the hand of the imperial daughter Anna. Thus in the strife of human events the will of God directed the entering of Rus' into the graced bosom of the OEcumenical Church. GreatPrince Vladimir accepted Baptism and dispatched the military assistance to Byzantium. With the aid of the Russians, the mutineers were destroyed and Bardas Phokas killed. But the Greeks, gladdened by their unexpected deliverance, were in no hurry to fulfill their part of the agreement.
Vexed at the Greek duplicity, Prince Vladimir "hastened to collect his forces" and he moved "against Korsun, the Greek city", the ancient Chersonessus. The "impenetrable" rampart of the Byzantine realm on the Black Sea fell, and it was one of the vitally important hubs of the economic and mercantile links of the empire. This blow was so much felt, that its echo resounded throughout all the regions of Byzantium.
Vladimir again had the upper hand. His emissaries, the voevoda-commanders Oleg and Sjbern soon arrived in Tsar'grad for the imperial daughter. Eight days passed in Anna's preparation, during which time her brothers consoled her, stressing the significance of the opportunity before her: to enable the enlightening of the Russian realm and its lands, and to make them forever friends of the Romanoi-Byzantine realm. At Taurida Saint Vladimir awaited her, and to his titles there was added a new one -- Caesar (tsar', emperor). It required the haughty rulers of Constantinople to accede also in this -- to bestow upon their new brother-in-law the Caesar (i.e. imperial) insignia. In certain of the Greek historians, Saint Vladimir is termed from these times as a "mighty basileios-king", he coins money in the Byzantine style and is depicted on it with the symbols of imperial might: in imperial attire, and on his head -- the imperial crown, and in his right hand -- the sceptre with cross.
Together with the empress Anna, there arrived for the Russian cathedra-seat metropolitan Michael -- ordained by holy Patriarch Nicholas II Chrysobergos, and he came with his retinue and clergy, and many holy relics and other holy things. In ancient Chersonessus, where each stone brings to mind Saint Andrew the First-Called, there took place the marriage-crowning of Saint Vladimir and Blessed Anna, both reminiscent and likewise affirming the oneness of the Gospel good-news of Christ in Rus' and in Byzantium. Korsun, the "empress dowry", was returned to Byzantium. In the Spring of 988 the greatprince with his spouse set out through the Crimea, Taman' and the Azov lands, which had come into the complexion of his vast realm, on the trip of return to Kiev. Leading the greatprincely cortege with frequent moliebens and incessant priestly singing they carried crosses, icons and holy relics. It seemed, that the OEcumenical Holy Church was moving into the spacious Russian land, and renewed in the font of Baptism, Holy Rus' came forth to meet Christ and His Church.
There ensued the unforgettable and quite singular event in Russian history: the morning of the Baptism of the Kievans in the waters of the River Dneipr. On the evening beforehand, Saint Vladimir declared throughout the city: "If anyone on the morrow goeth not into the river -- be they rich or poor, beggar or slave -- that one be mine enemy". The sacred wish of the holy prince was fulfilled without a murmur: "all our land all at the same time did glorify Christ with the Father and the Holy Spirit".
It is difficult to overestimate the deep spiritual transformation -- effected by the prayers of Saint Vladimir, effected within the Russian people, in all the entirety of its life and world-outlook. In the pure Kievan waters, as in a "bath of regeneration", there was realised a mysteried transfiguration of the Russian spiritual element, the spiritual birth of the nation, called by God to yet unforeseen deeds of Christian service to mankind. -- "Then did the darkness of the idols begin to lift from us, and the dawn of Orthodoxy appear, and the Sun of the Gospel didst illumine our land". In memory of this sacred event, the renewal of Rus' by water and the Spirit, there was established within the Russian Church the custom of an annual church procession "to the water" on 1 August, combined afterwards with the feastday of the Bring-Forth of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord, in common with the Greek Church, and likewise the Russian Church feastday of the All-Merciful Saviour and the MostHoly Mother of God (established by Saint Andrei Bogoliubsky in the year 1164). In this combination of feasts there is found a precise expression of the Russian theological consciousness, for which both Baptism and the Cross are inseparable.
Everywhere throughout Holy Rus', from the ancient cities to the far outposts, Saint Vladimir gave orders to tumble down the pagan sanctuaries, to flog the idols, and in their place to chop along the hilly woods for churches, in which to consecrate altars for the Bloodless Sacrifice. Churches of God grew up along the face of the earth, at high elevated places, and at the bends of the rivers, along the ancient trail "from the Variangians to the Greeks" -- figuratively as road signs, and lamps of national holiness. As regards the famed church-building activity of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir, the Kiev Metropolitan Saint Ilarion (author of the "Word about the Law and Grace") exclaimed: "They demolished the pagan temples, and built up churches, they destroyed the idols and produced holy icons, the demons are fled, and the Cross hath sanctified the cities". From the early centuries of Christianity it was the custom to raise up churches upon the ruins of pagan sanctuaries or upon the blood of the holy martyrs. Following this practise, Saint Vladimir built the church of Saint Basil the Great upon an hill, where a sanctuary of Perun had been located, and he situated the stone church of the Uspenie-Dormition of the MostHoly Mother of God (Desyatinnaya) on the place of the martyrdom of the holy Varangian-Martyrs (Comm. 12 July). The magnificent temple intended to become the place of serving for the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus' -- and hence the primal-altar of the Russian Church, was built in five years: it was richly adorned with wall-fresco painting, crosses, icons and sacred vessels, brought from Korsun. The day of the consecration of the church of the MostHoly Mother of God, 12 May (in some manuscripts 11 May), was ordered by Saint Vladimir to be inserted as an annual celebration in the Church-kalendar lists. This event was tied in with other previous happenings for the celebration of 11 May, and it provided the new Church a twofold sense of succession. Under this day in the Saints is noted the churchly "renewal of Tsar'grad" -- dedicated by the holy emperor Saint Constantine as the new capital of the Roman Empire, the Constantine-city Constantinople, dedicated to the MostHoly Mother of God (330). And on this same day of 11 May, under holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Olga, there had been consecrated at Kiev the church of Sophia -- the Wisdom of God (in the year 960). Saint Vladimir, having had the cathedral church consecrated to the MostHoly Mother of God, followed the example of Saint Constantine in dedicating the capital city of the Russian Land, Kiev, to the Queen of Heaven.
And then there was bestown on the Church a tithe or tenth; and since this church had become the centre of the All-Russian gathering of churchly tithes, they called it the Desyatinnaya (Tithe) church. The most ancient text of the deed-grant document, or churchly ustav-rule by holy Prince Vladimir spoke thusly: "For I do bestow this church of the Holy Mother of God a tenth of all mine principality, and likewise throughout all the Russian Land from all the princely jurisdiction a tithe of squirrel-pelts, and from the merchant -- a tithe of the week, and from households each year -- a tenth of every herd and every livelihood, to the wondrous Mother of God and the wondrous Saviour". The ustav likewise specified "church people" as being free from the jurisdictional power of the prince and his "tiuni"-officials, and placed them under the jurisdiction of the metropolitan.
The chronicle has preserved a prayer of Saint Vladimir, with which he turned to the Almighty at the consecration of the Uspensky Desyatin-Tithe church: "O Lord God, look Thou down from Heaven and behold, and visit Thine vineyard, which Thy right-hand hath planted. And make this new people, whom Thou hast converted in heart and mind -- to know Thee, the True God. And look down upon this Thine church, which Thy unworthy servant hath built in the name of the Mother Who hath given birth to Thee, She the Ever-Virgin Mother of God. And whosoever doth pray in this church, let his prayer then be heard, on account of the prayers to the All-Pure Mother of God".
With the Desyatin-Tithe church and bishop Anastasii, certain historians have made a connection with the beginnings of Russian chronicle writing. At it were compiled the Vita-Life of Saint Ol'ga and the account of the Varangian-Martyrs in their original form, and likewise the "Account, How in the Taking of Korsun, Vladimir came to be Baptised". Here also there originated the early Greek redaction of the Vitae-Lives of the holy Martyrs Boris and Gleb.
The Kiev Metropolitan cathedra-seat during the time of Saint Vladimir was occupied successively by the Metropolitan Saint Michael (+ 15 June 991, Comm. 30 September), Metropolitan Theophylakt -- transferred to Kiev from the see of Armenian Sebasteia (991-997), Metropolitan Leontii (997-1008), and Metropolitan John I (1008-1037). Through their efforts the first dioceses of the Russian Church were opened: at Novgorod (its first representative was Sainted Joakim the Korsunite -- + 1030, compiler of the Joakimov Chronicle), Vladimir-Volyn (opened 11 May 992), Chernigov, Pereslavl', Belgorod, and Rostov. "And thus throughout all the cities and villages there were set up churches and monasteries, and the clergy did increase, and the Orthodox Faith did blossom forth and shine like the sun". To advance the faith amongst the newly enlightened people, learned people and schools were needed for their preparation. Saint Vladimir therefore with holy Metropolitan Michael "did command fathers and mothers to take their young children and send them to schools to learn reading and writing". Saint Joakim the Korsunite (+ 1030) set up such a school at Novgorod, and they did likewise in other cities. "And there were a multitude of schools of scholars, and of these were there a multitude of wisdom-loving philosophers".
With a firm hand Saint Vladimir held in check enemies at the frontiers, and he built cities with fortifications. He was the first in Russian history to set up a "notched boundary" -- a line of defensive points against nomadic peoples. "Volodimir did begin to set up cities along the Desna, along the Vystra, along the Trubezha, along the Sula and along the Stugna. And he did settle them with the Novgorodians, the Smol'yani, the Chuds and the Vyatichi. And he did war against the Pechenegs and defeated them". But the actual means was often the peaceful Christian preaching amongst the steppe pagans. In the Nikol'sk Chronicles under the year 990 was written: "And in that same year there came to Volodimir at Kiev four princes from the Bulgars and they were illumined with Divine Baptism". In the following year " there came the Pecheneg prince Kuchug and accepted the Greek faith, and he was baptised in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and did service to Vladimir with a pure heart". Under the influence of the holy prince there were baptised also several apparent foreigners, as for example, the Norwegian "koenig" (king") Olaf Trueggvason (+ 1000) who lived several years at Kiev, and also the reknown Torval'd the Wanderer -- founder of a monastery of Saint John the Precursor along the Dneipr near Polotsk, among others. In faraway Iceland the poet-skalds called God the "Protector of the Greeks and Russians".
Amidst the Christian preaching was also the reknown feastings of Saint Vladimir: after Liturgy on Sundays and Church Great-Feasts there were put out abundant feasting tables for the Kievans, they rang the bells, choirs sang praise, the "transported infirm" sang bylini-ballads and spiritual verses. On 12 May 996, for example, on the occasion of the consecration of the Desyatin-Tithe church, the prince "made a bright feast", "distributing goods to many of the poor, and destitute and wanderers, and through the churches and the monasteries. To the sick and the needy he delivered through the streets casks and barrels of mead, and bread, and meat, and fish, and cheese, desiring that all might come and eat, glorifying God". Feasts were likewise arrayed in honour of the victories of Kievan bogatyr-warriors, and the regiments of Vladimir's retinue -- of Dobrynya, Aleksandr Popovich, Rogda the Bold.
In the year 1007 Saint Vladimir transferred the relics of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Ol'ga to the Desyatin-Tithe church. And four years later, in 1011, there was also buried there his spouse and companion in many of his undertakings, the Blessed Empress Anna. After her death the prince entered into a new marriage -- with the young daughter of the German Graf Kuno von Enningen, grand-daughter of the emperor Otto the Great.
The era of Saint Vladimir was a crucial initial period for the state formation of Orthodox Rus'. The unification of the Slavic lands and the formation of state boundaries under the domain of the Riurikovichi resulted from a strenuous spiritual and political struggle with neighbouring tribes and states. The Baptism of Rus' by Orthodox Byzantium was a most important step in its state self-definition. The chief enemy of Vladimir became Boleslav the Brave, whose plans included the extensive unification of the West-Slavic and East-Slavic tribes under the aegis of Catholic Poland. This rivalry arose still back in the times, when Vladimir was still a pagan: "In the year 6489 (981). Volodimir went against the Lakhs and took their cities, Peremyshl', Cherven', and other cities, which be under Rus'". The final years of the X Century are likewise filled with the wars of Vladimir and Boleslav.
After a short lull (the first decade of the XI Century), the "great stand-off" enters into a new phase: in the year 1013 at Kiev a conspiracy against Saint Vladimir is discovered: Svyatopolk the Accursed, who is married to a daughter of Boleslav, yearns for power. The instigator of the conspiracy is the clergyman of Boleslav -- the Kolobzheg Catholic bishop Reibern.
The conspiracy of Svyatopolk and Reibern was an all-out threat to the historical existence of the Russian state and the Russian Church. Saint Vladimir took decisive measures. All the three involved were arrested, and Reibern soon died in prison.
Saint Vladimir did not take revenge on those that "opposed and hated" him. Under the pretense of feigned repentance, Svyatopolk was set free.
A new misfortune erupted in the North, at Novgorod. Yaroslav, still not so very much "the Wise" -- as he was later to go down in Russian history, in the year 1010 having become ruler of Novgorod, decided to defect from his father the greatprince of Kiev, and he formed his own separate army, moving on Kiev to demand the customary tribute and tithe. The unity of the Russian land, for which Saint Vladimir had struggled all his life, was threatened with ruin. In both anger and in sorrow Saint Vladimir gave orders to "secure the dams and set the bridges", and to prepare for a campaign against Novgorod. His powers were on the decline. In the preparations for his final campaign, happily not undertaken, the Baptiser of Rus' fell grievously ill and gave up his spirit to the Lord in the village of Spas-Berestov, on 15 July 1015. He had ruled the Russian realm for thirty-seven years (978-1015), and twenty-eight of these years had been spent since holy Baptism.
Preparing for a new struggle for power and hoping for Polish help in it, and to play for time, Svyatopolk attempted to conceal the death of his father. But patriotically inclined Kievan boyar-nobles, secretly by night, removed the body of the deceased sovereign from the Berestov court, where Svyatopolk's people were guarding it, and they conveyed the body to Kiev. At the Desyatin-Tithe church the coffin with the relics of Saint Vladimir was met by Kievan clergy with Metropolitan John at the head. The holy relics were placed in a marble crypt, set within the Clement chapel of the Desyatin Uspenie church alongside the marble crypt of Empress Anna...
The name and deeds of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir, whom the people called the Splendid Sun, is interwoven with all the successive history of the Russian Church. "Through him we too have come to worship and to know Christ, the True Life, -- testified Saint Ilarion. His deeds were continued by his sons, and grandsons and descendants -- rulers of the Russian land over the course of almost six centuries: from Yaroslav the Wise with the taking of the first steps towards the independent existence of the Russian Church -- down to the last of the Riurikovichi, tsar Feodor Ioannovich, under whom (in 1589) the Russian Orthodox Church became the fifth independent Patriarchate in the dyptich-lists of Orthodox Autocephalous Churches.
The feastday celebration to holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir was established under Saint Alexander Nevsky, in memory of the intercession of Saint Vladimir on 15 May 1240, for his help in gaining the reknown victory by Nevsky over Swedish crusaders.
But the first reverencing of the holy prince began in Rus' rather earlier. The Metropolitan of Kiev Saint Ilarion (+ 1053), in his "Word on Law and Grace", spoken on the day of memory of Saint Vladimir at the saint's crypt in the Desyatin-Tithe church, calls him "an apostolic sovereign", "like" Saint Constantine, and he compares his apostolic evangelisation of the Russian Land to that of the evangelisation by the holy Apostles.
The Holy Martyrs Kyrikos and Julitta lived in Asia Minor in the city of Iconium in the Likaoneia region. Saint Julitta was descended from an illustrious family and was a Christian. Widowed early on, she raised her three year old son Kyrikos. During the time of the persecution made against Christians by the emperor Diocletian (284-305), Saint Julitta with her son and two trustworthy servants departed the city, leaving behind her home and property and servants.
Under the guise of being impoverished she his out first at Seleucia, and then at Tarsis. And it was there in about the year 305 that she was recognised, arrested and brought to trial before the governor named Alexander. Strengthened by the Lord, she fearlessly gave answer to the questions of the judge and she firmly confessed her faith in Christ. The governor gave orders to beat the saint with canes. During the time of torment Saint Julitta kept repeating: "I am a Christian and will not offer sacrifice to demons".
The little boy Kyrikos cried, seeing his mother being tortured, and wanted to go to her. The governor Alexander tried to hug him, but the boy broke free and shouted: "Let me go to my mother, I am a Christian". The governor flung the boy from the high rostrum onto the stone steps, and the boy tumbled downwards striking the sharp edges, and died. The mother, seeing her lacerated son, gave thanks to God that He had vouchsafed the boy a martyr's end. After many cruel tortures they beheaded Saint Julitta with the sword.
The relics of Saints Kyrikos and Julitta were discovered during the reign of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine (+ 337, Comm. 21 May). In honour of these holy martyrs there was built near Constantinople a monastery, and not far off from Jerusalem was built a church. In popular custom, Saints Kyrikos and Julitta are prayed to for family happiness, and the restoring to health of sick children.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE HOLY MARTYR JULITTA AND HER SON, CYRIACUS [QUIRICUS]
Saint Julitta was of noble birth. She was widowed at an early age with her newborn child Cyriacus. She lived in Iconium in the town of Lycaonia and was completely devoted to the Faith of Christ. She immediately baptized her son after his birth and when he was three years old instructed him in the Faith and taught him to pray as much as a child of that age was capable. When Diocletian decreed the persecution of the Christians in the town of Iconium, much innocent blood was shed. Julitta took her son and hid from the wrath of the heathen in the city of Seleucid. It was not any better there. Julitta was arrested and, as a Christian, was brought before the judge. Since Julitta courageously confessed her faith in the Lord Jesus, the judge, in order to make her feel sorrow and cause her to waver, took the child in his arms and began to caress him. Cyriacus cried out loudly: "I am a Christian, release me to my mother!" Cyriacus turning his face away from the judge began to scratch him with his hands. The judge became so enraged that he hurled the child to the ground and pushed him with his feet. The child slid along the stone stairs and gave up his holy and innocent soul to God. Seeing how Cyriacus suffered before her eyes, St. Julitta was joyful and gave thanks to God because He made her son worthy of the martyr's wreath. After much suffering, Julitta was beheaded in the year 304 A.D. The relics of Saints Cyriacus and Julitta, even today, are miracle working. Part of the relics of these saints is to be found in Ohrid in the hospital chapel of the Holy Birth-giver of God.
2. SAINT VLADIMIR THE GREAT, PRINCE OF RUSSIA
At baptism Vladimir was called Basil and was the son of Prince Svyatoslav, and the grandson of Igor and Olga. In the beginning Vladimir was a total pagan both in his belief and in his lifestyle. Learning that other faiths exist, he carefully began to inquire as to which of them was the very best. For this reason he sent emissaries to Constantinople. When the emissaries returned they informed the prince that they attended a service in the Orthodox Church of the Divine Wisdom and that they were "outside themselves, not knowing whether they were on earth or in heaven." This inspired Vladimir to be baptized and to baptize his people. The main idol, Perun, was removed from the hill of Kiev and hurled into the Dnieper river. After embracing the Christian Faith, Vladimir completely changed his life and exerted all of his efforts to correctly fulfill all the rules of this Faith. In place of the destroyed idols, Vladimir ordered churches to be built throughout his state and he built a beautiful church to the All-Holy Mother of God in Kiev. This church was built on the same spot where St. Theodore and his son, John, earlier suffered martyrdom for Christ (July 12). With that same irresistible effort with which Vladimir earlier protected idolatry, he now spread Christianity. He found repose in the Lord in the year 1015 A.D.
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINTS JULITTA AND CYRIACUS
The rage of idolatry, when it ruled the world,
Julitta, with the child Cyriacus suffered,
Two innocent victims, two neo-symbols,
Of the Incarnate Word, two living witnesses.
Of all earthly riches, more precious is truth,
Neither for herself nor for her son did the mother grieve,
Over youth, wealth nor strength, did not grieve,
Follows in Christ's footsteps, without turning back
Who, the truth recognizes, is born again,
To peace and freedom, truth leads him.
Blessed Julitta, the truth sensed
When with the Cross she was baptized and with the Faith illumined.
Full of God's peace and true freedom
Without screams and fear, she saw her son dead
Without screams and fear, her head she placed under the sword
By a martyr's death, she glorified the Truth.
Hospitality is respected in other faiths but Christianity emphasized hospitality as an obligation and responsibility. On the other hand, gratitude for hospitality is no less an obligation and responsibility for Christians. He who learns to be grateful to men for hospitality will know how to be grateful even to God for hospitality. For what are we here on earth except as guests of God? What are angels in heaven except as guests of God. The story is told about Emperor Philip of Macedonia, how he severely punished one of his courtiers for ingratitude. The emperor sent his courtier overseas to fulfill a task for him. The courtier accomplished this task and returned by boat. A tempest destroyed the boat and the courtier found himself in the waves. Fortunately, it was not too far from the shore. A fisherman saw the man drowning, hurried to his assistance with his small boat and brought him ashore. After he recovered and rested, the courtier returned to the emperor and related the misfortunate incident about the tempest on the sea. The emperor wishing to reward the courtier asked him what does he wish the emperor to give him? The courtier mentioned that fisherman and said to the emperor that he would like most of all if he would grant him the property along the sea belonging to the fisherman. The emperor granted the courtier his wish. When the courtier settled on the estate of his greatest benefactor [the fisherman], then the fisherman in great despair went to the emperor, related all and complained. He said that he saved the life of the courtier and now he ousted him from his home. Upon hearing this, the emperor became furious with the ungrateful courtier and ordered that he be branded on his forehead with the words: "ungrateful guest."
To contemplate the miraculous blossoming of Aaron's rod (Numbers 17):
1. How God, in order to quiet the murmuring against Moses and Aaron, ordered that the rods of all the elders of the tribes be placed in the Meeting Tent;
2. How overnight only the withered rod of Aaron became green and blossomed and brought forth fruit;
3. How even the souls of men, dead to sin, God can enliven.
About grace and peace
"Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" (2 Peter 1:2).
Brethren, grace and peace multiplies "through the knowledge of God." However, brethren, through the knowledge of creation outside of God, as cut off from God or contrary to God, sorrow and unrest multiplies. Sorrow and unrest is multiplied among those who are familiarizing themselves with things without the knowledge of God; does it not sufficiently witness to the multitude of suicides precisely among those who chose, as a trade for themselves, to study the nature and life of mankind without God? O how great a multitude among them are nervous, irritated, embittered, darkened and hysterical souls who are only separated by a day or a month from suicide. However, grace and peace multiples "through the knowledge of God." That, the apostle personally experienced and his precious experience he passes on to others.
Neither grace nor peace are the gifts of the earth but rather are the gifts of heaven. God bestows these gifts to those who labor to multiply their knowledge about Him.
Brethren, what is the quickest path which leads to the knowledge of God? Without a doubt, through "Christ Jesus our Lord." He is the Revealer and He is the Revelation, He is the Wise and the Wisdom, He is the Teacher and the Knowledge. Grace is from Him. Peace is from Him. He who knows God through the knowledge of created beings in nature and through the laws of nature, as the heathens do, does nothing wrong but progresses along the path in a round about manner and proceeds on an indirect path upon which many go astray and are lost. But he who comes to the knowledge of God through conscience and destiny of men, as the moralists do, does nothing wrong but that one also goes by in a round about manner and difficult path and can go astray and become lost. But he who knows God by knowing the Lord Christ is on the shortest and surest path.
O Lord Jesus, help us on the path to You and to Your Father and the Holy Spirit.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.