FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
20,000 Martyrs burned in Nicomedia
Holy Martyr Glycerus
Simon the Myrrhbearer, Founder of Simonopetra, Monastery of Mount Athos
Afterfeast of the Nativity
Τῶν Ἁγίων Δισμυρίων Μαρτύρων τῶν ἐν Νικομηδείᾳ καέντων.
Τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Γλυκερίου.
Τοῦ Ὁσίου Σίμωνος τοῦ Μυροβλύτου, κτήτορος τῆς ἐν τῷ Ἄθῳ Ἱερᾶς Μονῆς Σιμωνοπέτρας.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 11:8-16
Prokeimenon. Grave Mode.
Exalt the Lord our God.
Verse: The Lord reigns; let the people tremble.
BRETHREN, by faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
Πρὸς Ἑβραίους 11:8-16
Προκείμενον. Ἦχος βαρύς.
Ὑψοῦτε Κύριον τὸν Θεὸν ἡμῶν.
Στίχ. Ὁ Κύριος ἐβασίλευσεν, ὀργιζέσθωσαν λαοί.
Ἀδελφοί, πίστει καλούμενος Ἀβραὰμ ὑπήκουσεν ἐξελθεῖν εἰς τὸν τόπον ὃν ἤμελλεν λαμβάνειν εἰς κληρονομίαν, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν μὴ ἐπιστάμενος ποῦ ἔρχεται. Πίστει παρῴκησεν εἰς γῆν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, ὡς ἀλλοτρίαν, ἐν σκηναῖς κατοικήσας μετὰ Ἰσαὰκ καὶ Ἰακώβ, τῶν συγκληρονόμων τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῆς αὐτῆς· ἐξεδέχετο γὰρ τὴν τοὺς θεμελίους ἔχουσαν πόλιν, ἧς τεχνίτης καὶ δημιουργὸς ὁ θεός. Πίστει καὶ αὐτὴ Σάρρα δύναμιν εἰς καταβολὴν σπέρματος ἔλαβεν, καὶ παρὰ καιρὸν ἡλικίας ἔτεκεν, ἐπεὶ πιστὸν ἡγήσατο τὸν ἐπαγγειλάμενον. Διὸ καὶ ἀφʼ ἑνὸς ἐγεννήθησαν, καὶ ταῦτα νενεκρωμένου, καθὼς τὰ ἄστρα τοῦ οὐρανοῦ τῷ πλήθει, καὶ ὡς ἡ ἄμμος ἡ παρὰ τὸ χεῖλος τῆς θαλάσσης ἡ ἀναρίθμητος. Κατὰ πίστιν ἀπέθανον οὗτοι πάντες, μὴ λαβόντες τὰς ἐπαγγελίας, ἀλλὰ πόρρωθεν αὐτὰς ἰδόντες, καὶ ἀσπασάμενοι, καὶ ὁμολογήσαντες ὅτι ξένοι καὶ παρεπίδημοί εἰσιν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. Οἱ γὰρ τοιαῦτα λέγοντες ἐμφανίζουσιν ὅτι πατρίδα ἐπιζητοῦσιν. Καὶ εἰ μὲν ἐκείνης ἐμνημόνευον ἀφʼ ἧς ἐξῆλθον, εἶχον ἂν καιρὸν ἀνακάμψαι. Νῦν δὲ κρείττονος ὀρέγονται, τοῦτʼ ἔστιν, ἐπουρανίου· διὸ οὐκ ἐπαισχύνεται αὐτοὺς ὁ θεός, θεὸς ἐπικαλεῖσθαι αὐτῶν· ἡτοίμασεν γὰρ αὐτοῖς πόλιν.
The Gospel of 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 ΚΗ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Δισμυρίων, τῶν ἐν Νικομηδείᾳ καέντων.
Ὡς προσφοραὶ σοι Σῶτερ ἐξωπτημέναι,
Οἱ Δισμύριοι τοῦ νεὼ κεῖνται μέσον.
Ἀνέρας ὀγδοάτῃ κτάνεν εἰκάδι Δισμυρίους πῦρ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν ἁγίων Μαρτύρων, τῶν ἀπὸ τῆς Συγκλήτου, ἔξω τῆς πυρᾶς ἀπολειφθέντων, καὶ τελειωθέντων.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἴνδης, ἐν τῇ θαλάσση βληθείς, τελειοῦται.
Ἴνδην ἀκούω τοῦ βίου λαβεῖν πέρας,
Ἄκρον καταντήσαντα πρὸς βυθοῦ πέρας.
Οἱ ἅγιοι Γοργόνιος καὶ Πέτρος ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ τελειοῦνται.
Πόντος καλύπτει Γοργόνιον καὶ Πέτρον,
Μνήμη δὲ τούτων οὐ καλύπτεται χρόνῳ.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Μάρτυς Ζήνων ξίφει τελειοῦται.
Ζήνων κεφαλὴν τέμνεται διὰ ξίφους,
Μὴ προσκυνεῖν ἄγαλμα τοῦ Ζηνὸς θέλων.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Μάρτυς Μαρδόνιος πυρὶ τελειοῦται.
Καὶ Μαρδόνιον Μαρτύρων ἔγνων ἕνα,
Στέργοντα Χριστόν, καὶ στέργοντα πῦρ φλέγον.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Δωρόθεος, ὁ Πρεπόσιτος, ξίφει τελειοῦται.
ὁ Δωρόθεος, τὴν κεφαλήν μου, λέγει,
Δῶρον κομίζω τῷ Θεῷ τετμημένην.
Ὁ ἅγιος Θεόφιλος ὁ Διάκονος λιθοβοληθεὶς τελειοῦται.
Ἀπόγραφε βληθέντα συχνοῖς τοῖς λίθοις,
Καὶ Θεόφιλον συλλόγῳ Θεοῦ φίλων.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Μυγδόνιος βόθρῳ ἐγχωσθείς, τελειοῦται.
Κἂν χωννύηται Μυγδόνιος ἐν βόθρῳ
Ἐγνωσμένος τοῖς πᾶσι Μάρτυς τυγχάνει.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Γλυκέριος, ὁ Πρεσβύτερος, πυρὶ τελειοῦται.
Ὁ Γλυκέριος, εἰς τὸ πῦρ βεβλημένος,
Ἔφη, Γλυκὺς μοι τῆς τελευτῆς ὁ τρόπος.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ἡ Ἁγία Δόμνα, ξίφει τμηθεῖσα, τῷ πυρὶ τελειοῦται.
Ἕκτην συνάπτω ταῖς φρονίμοις Παρθένοις,
Τὴν ψευδόμωρον Δόμναν ἐκτετμημένην.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον, καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
All these Saints, some 20,000 in number, were burned alive in the year 303, while they were gathered in church. This came to pass during the reign of Diocletian and Maximian. According to the Synaxarion, this took place on the day of Christ's Nativity. Eusebius (Eccl. Hist. VIII, 6) says that, of the Christians then living in Nicomedia, all were slain by imperial decree - some by the sword, and others by fire, and that, because of their divine and inexpressible ardour, both men and women cast themselves into the fire. Besides those burned in church. the following, who were slain in the same Persecution, are commemorated today. Indus, Gorgonius, and Peter were cast into the sea; Glycerius the Presbyter and Mardonius were burned; Dorotheus the Prefect and Zeno were beheaded; Theophilus the Deacon was stoned; Mygdonius was buried alive; and Domna, who had been a priestess of the idols, believed in Christ, and was baptized, was beheaded and cast into the fire. See also the account of Saint Anthimus on September 3.
Apolytikion in the Second Tone
Ἀθλοφόροι Κυρίου, μακαρία ἡ γῆ, ἡ πιανθεῖσα τοὶς αἵμασιν ὑμῶν, καὶ ἅγιαι αἱ σκηναί, αἱ δεξάμεναι τὰ πνεύματα ὑμῶν, ἐν σταδίῳ γὰρ τὸν ἐχθρὸν ἐθριαμβεύσατε, καὶ Χριστὸν μετὰ παρρησίας ἐκηρύξατε, αὐτὸν ὡς ἀγαθὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἱκετεύσατε, σωθῆναι δεόμεθα τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν.
Blessed is the earth that drank your blood, O prizewinners of the Lord, and holy are the tabernacles that received your spirit; for in the stadium ye triumphed over the enemy, and ye proclaimed Christ with boldness. Beseech Him, we pray, since He is good, to save our souls.
Kontakion in the First Tone
Στράτος εν αριθμώ, δισμυρίων Μαρτύρων, ώς άδυτος φυστήρ, ανατέλλει φωτίζων καρδίας κάι νοήματα, ευσεβών διά πίστεως, εξαρθέντες γάρ, θεία στοργή τού Δεσπότου, τέλος άγιον, διά πυρός οι γενναίοι, προθύμως εδέξαντο.
A twenty-thousand numbered battalion of Martyrs ariseth like an unwaning star great with brightness, enlight'ning by faith the hearts and the minds of all godly folk. For, enkindled with divine love unto the Master, this courageous host received a sanctified ending when eagerly burned with fire.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ἡ γέννησίς σου Χριστὲ ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν, ἀνέτειλε τῶ κόσμω, τὸ φῶς τὸ τῆς γνώσεως, ἐν αὐτῇ γὰρ οἱ τοὶς ἄστροις λατρεύοντες, ὑπὸ ἀστέρος ἐδιδάσκοντο, σὲ προσκυνεῖν, τὸν Ἥλιον τῆς δικαιοσύνης, καὶ σὲ γινώσκειν ἐξ ὕψους ἀνατολήν, Κύριε δόξα σοί.
Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, hath shined the light of knowledge upon the world; for thereby they that worshipped the stars were instructed by a star to worship Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on high. O Lord, glory be to Thee.
Για την αγία Μάρτυρα Δόμνα, της οποίας η Εκκλησία σήμερα τιμά την μνήμη, διασώζεται η εξής ευσεβής παράδοση. Κάπου βρήκε τις Πράξεις των Αποστόλων και τις Επιστολές του Παύλου, διάβασε τον λόγο του Θεού, φωτίσθηκε η ψυχή της από το φως της θείας αλήθειας και πίστεψε στον Χριστό. Την μεταστροφή της επισφράγισε στο τέλος με μαρτυρικό θάνατο και συναριθμήθηκε, σαν έκτη, στις πέντε φρόνιμες παρθένους, έτσι όπως το θέλει ο εγκωμιαστικής στο ιαμβικό δίστιχο: "Έκτην συνάπτω ταις φρονίμοις παρθένοις / την ... Δόμναν εκτετμημένην". Ας σκεφθούμε πόση εσωτερική δύναμη και πόση δραστικότητα έχει ο θείος λόγος, για να επιφέρη τέτοια θαυμαστή αλλοίωση και ριζική μεταβολή στις συνειδήσεις των ανθρώπων. Είναι "αλλοίωσις της δεξιάς του υψίστου", που επικυρώνει κάθε φορά τα λόγια του αγίου Παύλου, ότι ο λόγος του Θεού είναι "ζων και ενεργής και τομώτερος υπέρ πάσαν μάχαιραν δίστομον...".
Οἱ Ἅγιοι δισμύριοι (20.000) Μάρτυρες ποὺ κάηκαν στὴ Νικομήδεια
Τὸν 4ο αἰῶνα μ.Χ., ἐπὶ Διοκλητιανοῦ καὶ Μαξιμιανοῦ, οἱ χριστιανοὶ τῆς Νικομήδειας ἦταν ἀρκετὰ πολυπληθεῖς. Ὁ ἐπίσκοπος Ἄνθιμος, ἄνδρας ἄξιος καὶ μὲ αὐταπάρνηση, κοπίαζε νύχτα-μέρα γιὰ τὶς ψυχὲς τῶν πιστῶν. Ἡ πρόοδος αὐτὴ τῶν χριστιανῶν κέντρισε τὸ φθόνο τῶν εἰδωλολατρῶν ἀρχόντων καὶ θέλησαν νὰ ἐξοντώσουν τὴ χριστιανικὴ Ἐκκλησία, προπάντων στὰ μεγαλύτερα καὶ πολυπληθέστερα κέντρα της. Σχεδίασαν λοιπόν, ἀνήμερα Χριστούγεννα νὰ κάνουν γενικὴ σφαγὴ τῶν χριστιανῶν τῆς Νικομήδειας. Οἱ χριστιανοὶ εἶχαν μαζευτεῖ καὶ πανηγύριζαν τὸ κοσμοσωτήριο γεγονὸς τῆς γεννήσεως τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Ὁ ἐπίσκοπος, μόλις πληροφορήθηκε ὅτι τοὺς εἶχαν περικυκλώσει στρατὸς καὶ ὄχλος εἰδωλολατρῶν μὲ ὅπλα καὶ ῥόπαλα, διέταξε νὰ γίνει γρήγορα ἡ κοινωνία τῶν ἀχράντων Μυστηρίων. Ἔπειτα, βάπτισε τοὺς κατηχουμένους, γιὰ νὰ ἔχουν ἀσφαλῆ ἐφόδια στὴν αἰώνια σωτηρία. Τότε οἱ εἰδωλολάτρες ἔβαλαν φωτιὰ στὸ ναό, μὲ ἀποτέλεσμα νὰ καοῦν χιλιάδες πιστοί. Τὸ τραγικὸ αὐτὸ γεγονός, ἀντὶ νὰ μειώσει τὸν ἀριθμὸ τῶν μελῶν τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, ἀντίθετα τὸν πολλαπλασίασε καὶ χαλύβδωσε ἀκόμα περισσότερο τὸ ἠθικὸ τῶν πιστῶν. Ἔτσι καὶ στὴν περίπτωση αὐτὴ ἀποδείχθηκε περίτρανα αὐτὸ ποὺ εἶπε ἡ κεφαλὴ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας Ἰησοῦς Χριστός: «καὶ πύλαι ᾅδου οὐ κατισχύσουσιν αὐτῆς». Ὁ θάνατος δηλαδὴ καὶ οἱ ὀργανωμένες δυνάμεις τοῦ κακοῦ, δὲ θὰ ὑπερισχύσουν, οὔτε θὰ κατανικήσουν τὴν Ἐκκλησία, ποὺ εἶναι αἰώνια καὶ ἀθάνατη. (Συναξαριακὴ πηγή, μαζὶ μὲ τὴν μνήμη τῶν πιὸ πάνω Μαρτύρων, ἀναφέρει καὶ τὴν μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Δημοσθένους, Δημοκλέους καὶ Δημοκρίτου. Ἡ ὕπαρξη ὅμως τῶν Ἁγίων αὐτῶν εἶναι ἀμφίβολη, διότι τὰ ὀνόματά τους καθὼς καὶ βιογραφικὰ στοιχεῖα γι᾿ αὐτοὺς δὲν ἀναφέρονται ἀπὸ καμία Ἁγιολογικὴ πηγή. Ἴσως εἶναι οἱ ἴδιοι καὶ συγχέονται μὲ τοὺς ὁμώνυμούς τους Μάρτυρες τῆς 10ης Ἀπριλίου).
Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων συγκλητικῶν, Ἴνδη, Γοργονίου, Πέτρου, Ζήνωνος, Δωροθέου τοῦ Πραιποσίτου Μαρδονίου, Γλυκερίου τοῦ Πρεσβύτερου, Θεοφίλου τοῦ Διακόνου καὶ Μυγδονίου
Αὐτοὶ ἀπέμειναν ἔξω ἀπὸ τὸν Ναὸ ποὺ κάηκε μὲ προσταγὴ τοῦ Μαξιμιανοῦ στὴ Νικομήδεια, ὅπου κάηκαν ζωντανοὶ οἱ 20.000 χριστιανοί. Αὐτοὶ λοιπόν, ποὺ ἦταν συγκλητικοί, συνελήφθησαν καὶ οἱ μὲν τρεῖς πρῶτοι μαρτύρησαν διὰ πνιγμοῦ μέσα στὴ θάλασσα, οἱ ἑπόμενοι δυὸ μαρτύρησαν διὰ ἀποκεφαλισμοῦ, οἱ ἄλλοι δυὸ μαρτύρησαν διὰ πυρός, ὁ Θεόφιλος διὰ λιθοβολισμοῦ καὶ ὁ Μυγδόνιος θανατώθηκε μέσα σὲ βόθρο.
Ἡ Ἁγία Δόμνα
Ἡ Ἁγία Δόμνα ἦταν ἱέρεια τῶν εἰδώλων ἐπὶ Μαξιμιανοῦ στὴ Νικομήδεια καὶ συγκεκριμένα στὸν ναὸ τοῦ Δωδεκάθεου. Οἱ ἐπιστολὲς τοῦ Ἀποστόλου Παύλου ἄνοιξαν τὰ πνευματικά της μάτια καὶ βαπτίστηκε χριστιανή, μαζὶ μὲ τὸν ὑπηρέτη της Ἴνδη, ἀπὸ τὸν ἐπίσκοπο Νικομήδειας Κύριλλο. Ἀπὸ τότε ἔκανε συνειδητὴ χριστιανικὴ ζωή, μοιράζοντας στοὺς φτωχοὺς ὅ,τι εἶχε ἀπὸ τὴν περιουσία της, ἀλλὰ καὶ ὅ,τι ἔπαιρνε ἀπὸ τὸ παλάτι. Κάποτε ὅμως, τὸ ἔμαθε αὐτὸ ὁ ἀρχιυπηρέτης τοῦ παλατιοῦ καὶ ὅταν ἦταν νὰ τιμωρήσει τὴν Δόμνα, αὐτὴ ἔκανε τὴν τρελὴ καὶ στάλθηκε στὸν ἐπίσκοπο γιὰ θεραπεία. Ἔπειτα γιὰ νὰ μὴ συλληφθεῖ, ντύθηκε ἀνδρικὰ καὶ ἔθαβε τὰ λείψανα τῶν μαρτύρων. Ὅταν ὅμως ἐπέστρεψε ὁ Μαξιμιανὸς στὴ Νικομήδεια, ζήτησε τὴν Δόμνα καὶ ὅταν ἔμαθε ὅτι ἔγινε χριστιανή, διέταξε νὰ τὴν συλλάβουν. Ἐπειδὴ ὅμως δὲν τὴν βρῆκε, διέταξε τὸν γενικὸ φόνο τῶν χριστιανῶν, μεταξὺ τῶν ὁποίων ἀναγνωρίστηκε καὶ ἡ Δόμνα καὶ ἔτσι τὴν ἀποκεφάλισαν. (Συναξαριακὴ πηγή, μαζὶ μὲ τὴν μνήμη τῆς Ἁγίας Δόμνας, ἀναφέρει καὶ τὴν μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Θεοφίλης τῆς Παρθένου καὶ Ἀγάπης τῆς Προεστώσας).
Ὁ Ἅγιος Σεκοῦνδος
Φωτιστῆ τῶν Ἰσπανῶν θὰ μποροῦσαμε νὰ χαρακτηρίσουμε τὸν ἅγιο Σεκοῦνδο. Ἔζησε τὸν πρῶτο αἰῶνα μετὰ Χριστόν. Καὶ κατὰ τὴν παράδοση, στάλθηκε ἀπὸ τοὺς ἀποστόλους στὴν Ἱσπανία γιὰ νὰ κηρύξει ἐκεῖ τὸ Εὐαγγέλιο τοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Μετὰ ἀπὸ ἕνα εὐχάριστο ταξίδι, ἀποβιβάστηκε στὴν πόλη, ποὺ σήμερα λέγεται Κάδιξ. Ἐκεῖ, ἀπὸ τὸ ἕνα μέρος μὲ τὸ κήρυγμα καὶ τὴν ἀρετή του, ἀπὸ τὸ ἄλλο μὲ τὰ θαύματα, ποὺ ἡ θεία χάρη ἐνεργοῦσε μέσῳ αὐτοῦ, πολλοὶ ἀπὸ τοὺς κατοίκους πίστεψαν στὸ Χριστό. Στὴ συνέχεια ὁ Σεκοῦνδος πῆγε καὶ σὲ ἄλλες πόλεις τῆς Ἱσπανίας, μιμούμενος καὶ σ᾿ αὐτὸ τὸ παράδειγμα τῶν ἀποστόλων, οἱ ὁποῖοι ὡς γνωστόν, πήγαιναν ἀπὸ πόλη σὲ πόλη καὶ κήρυτταν παντοῦ τὸ Εὐαγγέλιο καὶ ἵδρυσαν νέες Ἐκκλησίες. Τοὺς τελευταίους κόπους καὶ ἀγῶνες τοῦ Σεκούνδου, στεφάνωσε μαρτυρικὸς θάνατος.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Σίμων Μυροβλύτης κτήτορας τῆς Ἱ. Μονῆς Σιμωνόπετρας
Δὲν ὑπάρχουν σαφῆ καὶ συγκεκριμένα στοιχεῖα γιὰ τὴ ζωή του. Μόνο ὅτι ἔζησε ἀσκητικὰ καὶ ὑπῆρξε κτήτορας τῆς Ἱερᾶς Μονῆς Σιμωνόπετρας Ἁγίου Ὄρους. Ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά. Κάποιες λεπτομέρειες (μερικὲς ἴσως καὶ φανταστικές), βλέπε στὸν «Μέγα Συναξαριστή» τοῦ Ματθαίου Λαγγῆ τόμος 12ος, σελ. 724, ἔκδοση 1993. Ἡ Ἀκολουθία τοῦ συγκεκριμένου Ὁσίου, κυκλοφόρησε τὸ 1924 ἀπὸ τὸν ἡγούμενο τῆς Σίμωνος Πέτρας Ἱερώνυμο.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Στέφανος ὁ θαυματουργός
Πρόκειται γιὰ τὸ ἴδιο πρόσωπο μ᾿ αὐτὸ τῆς 31ης Μαρτίου. Ἐλάχιστα μηνολόγια τοποθετοῦν ἐδῶ τὴν μνήμη του. Στὸν Παρισινὸ Κώδικα 1623 φ. 1436 βρίσκονται ἀπομεινάρια τῆς Ἀκολουθίας του. Ἀπ᾿ αὐτὴ γίνεται φανερό, ὅτι ἦταν ἀσκητής, ἄγνωστο ποὺ καὶ πότε, ὅτι εὐαρέστησε τὸν Θεὸ καὶ πέθανε ὁσιακά. Ὁ δὲ Σ. Εὐστρατιάδης εἰκάζει ὅτι καθόλου ἀπίθανο νὰ πρόκειται γιὰ τὸν Ἅγιο Στέφανο τὸν Σαββαΐτη τὸν θαυματουργό, ποὺ ἡ μνήμη του ἑορτάζεται τὴν 28ηὈκτωβρίου.
The Twenty Thousand Martyrs burned to death in their church in Nicomedia (~304).
During a fierce persecution by the Emperor Maximian of all who would not worship the idols, the Christians of Nicomedia were subjected to especially savage treatment. (Eusebius writes that every Christian in the city was killed.) Along with many others put to the sword or otherwise butchered there, we especially commemorate the large company who, despite all danger, gathered in the church to commemorate Christ's Nativity. The Emperor, hearing of this, sent troops to surround the building so that no-one could escape, and piled heaps of timber and brush around it. Criers then gave notice that any who wished to save their lives must come out and make sacrifice to the pagan gods.
"As this announcement penetrated the church, a divine zeal, more fiery than any flame in the world, seized the deacon Agapius, who rushed to the pulpit and cried out, 'Brethren, remember how often we have praised and extolled the Three Young Men who, when they were thrown into the Babylonian furnace, called on the whole of Creation to sing the glory of God, and how the All-Creating Word then came down in bodily appearance, to assist them and to render them invulnerable by surrounding them with a moist whistling wind. The time has now come for us to imitate them. Let us offer ourselves to a temporary death for love of our Master, in order to reign everlastingly with Him!' The whole congregation with one voice then answered Maximian's criers, 'We believe in Christ God and we will give up our lives for Him!'
"As the soldiers began to set fire to the piles of wood outside, Saint Anthimus [bishop of the city, commemorated September 3] told his deacons to assemble those who were still catechumens, and he baptized and anointed them with the holy Myron. He then served the divine Liturgy, at which all present communicated in the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Armed with divine strength and closely united in a single body by Christ who dwelt in them, the holy Martyrs felt no fear as they saw the flames leap up everywhere and thick smoke begin to fill the church. With gladness they sang in unison the Song of the Three Young Men: Bless the Lord, all works of the Lord, sing praise to Him and highly exalt Him for ever (Dan. 3 LXX) until the last among them suffocated and gave up his soul.
"The conflagration lasted for five days. Those who then ventured into the smouldering ruins anticipating the odour of charred flesh, found instead a heavenly scent pervading the air and the place surrounded by a brilliant light. The Saints who were glorified at this time are said to have numbered twenty thousand. Saint Anthimus himself miraculously escaped death, and so was able by his teaching to lead a large number of souls to salvation and to the new birth of holy Baptism before, in his turn, fulfilling his union with Christ by martyrdom." (Synaxarion)
Our Holy Father Simon the Outpourer of Myrrh, Founder of Simonopetra Monastery, Mt Athos (1287)
He lived during the years when Constantinople was held in captivity by the Crusaders, adn the Imperial government was in exile in Nicaea. Simon fled the world at a young age and travelled to the Holy Mountain, where he submitted himself to a strict but wise Elder for many years. In time, seeking greater seclusion, he moved to a small cave on the western side of Mt Athos, near a cliff that towered a thousand feet above the sea. One night, a few days before the Feast of the Nativity, he saw a star move across the sky and come to rest above the cliff near his cave. Taking this as a demonic delusion, he ignored it; but on the Eve of Nativity, the star once again took its place above the cliff, and Simon heard a voice from heaaven saying 'Be in no doubt, Simon, faithful servant of my Son! See this sign, and do not leave this spot in search of greater solitude as you have in mind, for it is here that I want you to establish your monastery, for the salvation of many souls.' Soon afterward, three young monks from wealthy Macedonian families, who had heard of the Saint's holiness, came and laid their wealth at his feet, asking that he accept them as disciples. Simon sent for builders and ordered them to construct a monastery on the very edge of the precipitous cliff. The builders at first refused, saying the work was much too dangerous; but, persuaded by a miracle worked through the Saint's prayers, they were convinced. As soon as the building was finished, the monastic community began to grow rapidly.
In his own lifetime St Simon was the source of many miracles, prophecies and healings. Once the monastery was attacked by Saracen pirates. Simon went to meet them with gifts, hoping to dissuade them from attacking. When the pirates attacked him, they were blinded, and the arm of one of them was paralyzed when he attempted to strike the Saint. All of them were healed when the holy man prayed for them, and at this wonder they all repented, received Baptism and became monks.
Saint Simon reposed in peace. A fragrant, healing balm afterwards flowed from his tomb in great quantities, so that he came to be called Myroblytis, 'Myrrh-gusher' or 'Outpourer of Myrrh.' In subsequent years, the monastery was destroyed an rebuilt more than once, and no trace now remains of the tomb.
The Holy 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia: At the beginning of the IV Century the emperor Maximian (284-305) gave orders to destroy Christian churches, to burn Divine-service books, and to deprive all Christians of rights and offices of citizenship. At this time the bishop of the city of Nicomedia was Saint Cyril, who by his preaching and life contributed to the spread of the Christian faith, such that many of the dignitaries of the emperor were themselves secretly Christian.
At the Nicomedia court of the emperor lived the pagan-priestess, Domna. In the absence of Maximian she read through the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of the Apostle Paul. Her heart burned with the desire to become acquainted with the Christian teaching. With the help of some young Christian, Domna went secretly to the bishop, Cyril, in the company of a faithful servant, the eunuch Indysos. Saint Cyril catechised them, and afterwards both received holy Baptism. Domna began to help the poor: she distributed her valuables with the assistance of Indysos, and she distributed also food from the imperial kitchen. Having learned about the unusual manner of life of Domna and Indysos, the head of the eunuchs -- who was in charge of the imperial table, locked up both of them to exhaust them with hunger, but they received support from an Angel and did not suffer. In order to no longer live amidst the pagans, Saint Domna feigned insanity. Then she and Indysos managed to leave the court, and she went to the women's monastery of the hegumeness Agathia. The hegumeness quickly dressed her in men's clothing, cut her hair and sent her off from the monastery.
During this time the emperor happened to return and gave orders to seek out everywhere for the former pagan-priestess Domna. The soldiers dispatched for this purpose found the monastery and destroyed it. The sisters were thrown into prison, subjected to torture and abuse, but not one of them suffered violation. Sent off to an house of iniquity, Saint Theophila with the help of an Angel of the Lord there also preserved her virginity: the Angel removed her from the profligacy.
At this time the emperor set up in the city square an offering of sacrifice to the pagan gods. When they began sprinkling the crowd with the blood of the sacrificial animals, Christians started to leave the square. Seeing this, the emperor became enraged, but he did not give vent to his anger, since suddenly the earth quaked. A certain while later Maximian having located the church entered it and demanded a renunciation of Christ from all; for refusal he promised to burn the church and kill its Christians. The Christian presbyter Glykerios answered him, that Christians never renounce their faith, even under the threat of torture. Hiding his anger, the emperor exited the church, and after a certain while commanded the presbyter Glykerios be arrested for trial. The executioners tortured the martyr, who ceased not to pray and to call on the Name of the Lord. Not being able to wring a renunciation of Christ out of Saint Glykerios, Maximian ordered him to be burned to death.
On the feastday of the Nativity of Christ in the year 302, when about 20,000 Christians had assembled at the Nicomedia cathedral church, the emperor sent into the church an herald -- who proclaimed the emperor's command to exit the church and offer sacrifice to idols; otherwise, he threatened to burn the church together with those praying in it. But all those present refused to worship idols. While the tormentors prepared to set fire to the church, Bishop Anthymos (Comm. 3 September; a related account is under this day), having completed Divine-services, baptised all the catechumens and communed all with the Holy Mysteries. All 20,000 of those praying died in the fire. Among them were the hegumeness Agathia and Saint Theophila who had been saved by a miracle from the den of iniquity. Bishop Anthymos however managed to escape the fire.
Maximian reckoned that he had finished off all the Christians of Nicomedia. But he soon learned that there were many more, and that they all as before would confess their faith and were prepared to die for Christ. The emperor pondered over how to deal with them. By his command they arrested the regimental-commander Zinon, who openly before the people was criticising the emperor for impiety and cruelty. Zinon was fiercely beaten and finally beheaded. They locked up in prison the eunuch Indysos, formerly a priest to idols, for his refusal to participate in a pagan feastday.
Amidst all this, Saint Domna concealed herself within a cave and nourished herself eating plants. The persecution against Christians continued. In the locale elsewhere, in Italy, there were thrown into prison Dorotheus, Mardonius, Migdonius the Deacon and some dignitaries. Bishop Anthymos encouraged them, sending epistles to them. One of the messengers, the deacon Theophilos, was captured. Interrogating him about the bishop, they subjected him to torture, but the holy martyr endured all the tortures, revealing nothing. Then together with him they executed those, whom the bishop had addressed in his letter.
When Saint Domna returned to the city, she cried for a long time at the burnt-out ruins, regretting that she was not found worthy to die with her sisters. Then she went along the sea shore. At that moment fishermen pulled out of the water with their nets the bodies of the martyrs Indysos, Gorgonios and Peter. Saint Domna was still dressed in men's clothing, and she helped the fishermen to draw in their nets. They left her the bodies of the martyrs. With reverence she looked after the holy remains; in particular, she was gladdened that she saw the body of her spiritual friend -- the Martyr Indysos. After the burial, she did not depart these graves so dear to her heart, but daily made incensing before them. When the emperor was told about an unknown youth who paid respects at the graves of executed Christians, he gave orders to behead the youth. Together with Domna was executed also the Martyr Euthymios.
The Monk Ignatii of Lomsk and Yaroslavsk: The circumstances of his life while still in the world are unknown. He started his ascetic path at the Saviour Prilutsk monastery at Vologda, and he took monastic vows at the Kirillo-Beloezersk monastery. The Monk Ignatii then departed to the environs of the city of Lom and there founded a wilderness monastery, which gradually attracted disciples, after which he withdrew to a forested skete and there pursued asceticism in quietude. He earned his livelihood (just like the Monk Joakim, who lived three versts from him) by the plaiting of bast-shoes, which he left along the roadside. Passers-by took the bast-shoes in exchange for bread. In this locale the Monk Ignatii constructed a temple in honour of the Pokrov (Protection) of the MostHoly Mother of God, alongside which was founded the Vadoissk Mother of God wilderness monastery. In the XVIII Century it became deserted, and there remained only the church of the Saviour at Lom, in which rested the relics of the Monk Ignatii, glorified by wonderworking. The holy ascetic died in 1591.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. The Twenty Thousand Holy Martyrs of Nicomedia
During the reign of the wicked Emperor Maximian Hercules, the Christian Faith flourished in Nicomedia and increased day by day. At one time the emperor, staying in this city, learned of the large number of Christians and the progress of the Christian Church, and he became greatly embittered and conceived a plan of how to kill them all. The Feast of the Nativity of Christ approached, and the emperor, knowing that all the Christians gathered in the church for this feast, ordered that on that day the church be surrounded by soldiers and set afire. When all the Christians had gathered in the church after midnight and began the solemn celebration, the soldiers surrounded the church and would not permit anyone to leave. The emperor's envoy entered the church and announced to the Christians the emperor's command that they immediately offer sacrifices to the idols or be burned alive. Then the archdeacon, a heroic soldier of Christ, inflamed with divine zeal began to encourage the people, reminding the faithful of the Three Children in the furnace in Babylon. "Behold, brethren," he said, "the table of oblation in the sanctuary of the Lord, and understand that our true Lord and God was just now sacrificed for us on it; should we not then lay down our lives for Him in this holy place?" The people were filled with zeal to die for Christ, and all the catechumens were baptized and chrismated. The soldiers then set fire to the church on all sides, and the Christians, twenty thousand of them in number, were burned in the flames while singing praises to God. The church burned for five days; and smoke with an intoxicating and wonderful fragrance rose from it. A certain marvelous, golden-rayed light manifested itself over this place. Thus, numerous men, women and children gloriously died and received the wreath of eternal glory in the Kingdom of Christ. They suffered and were glorified in the year 302.
2. The Venerable Simon, the Myrrh-gusher
Simon was the founder of the Simonospetra Monastery on the Holy Mountain. He was glorified because of his asceticism, visions and miracles. He entered peacefully into rest and went to Christ in the year 1257.
3. The Holy Martyr Domna
Domna was a virgin and priestess of the foul idols at the court of Emperor Maximian. Reading the Acts of the Apostles, which she had obtained from somewhere, she came to believe in Christ and was baptized by Bishop Cyril in Nicomedia, together with the eunuch Indes. St. Cyril directed her to a convent, where Blessed Agatha was the abbess. When the emperor began to search for her, Agatha dressed her in men's clothing and sent her to a men's monastery. This was at the time when twenty thousand Christians were burned in the church by Emperor Maximian. Immediately after this, by the emperor's command, Saints Indes, Gorgonius and Peter were thrown into the sea with millstones around their necks; Commander Zeno, who had openly denounced the emperor for his idolatry, was beheaded; St. Theophilus, the deacon of Bishop Anthimus, was slain by stoning and by arrows; Abbess Agatha, the nun Theophila and the nobles Dorotheus, Mardonius, Migdonius and Euthymius were also slain for the sake of Christ. One night, Domna was walking along the seashore and saw fishermen casting their nets into the sea. At that time she was especially grieving for St. Indes. Called by the fishermen to help them, she assisted them and by God's providence drew out three human bodies in the net. Domna recognized in them Saints Indes, Gorgonius and Peter, and she took their bodies and reverently buried them. When the emperor learned that a young man was caring for and censing the graves of the Christian martyrs, he ordered that the young man be beheaded. Thus, St. Domna was seized and beheaded, and she was crowned with the wreath of glory in the Heavenly Kingdom with the other martyrs.
HYMN OF PRAISE
The Twenty Thousand Holy Martyrs of Nicomedia
Holy Martyrs, your sufferings have passed,
Your tears wiped away, your wounds healed.
But more suffering still comes, it has not all arrived
Upon God's Church and upon her faithful.
Holy Martyrs, to you we pray:
By your prayers, watch over the Church.
Holy Martyrs, wonderful conquerors,
Against you have risen all the diabolical legions.
As great soldiers, you were without fear;
Your adversaries fell into the abyss.
You now clearly behold the Holy Trinity;
In His light you rejoice.
Holy Martyrs, we praise you for your wounds,
And for your tears and for your pure blood.
You became a fortress of defense for the Church.
Pray for us to the Savior Christ,
To make us worthy to call you brothers,
O honorable knights, children of grace!
A story of the Divine Christ-child: When the Most-holy Virgin, with her Divine Child and the righteous Joseph, drew near to the city of Hermopolis [Cairo], they saw a tree before the gate of the city. The travelers from afar were weary from their journey and approached this tree to rest a while, even though the tree was very tall and did not offer adequate shade. The Egyptians called this tree "Persea" and worshiped it as a god, for they believed that some divinity was hidden in the tree. In reality, an evil spirit dwelt in this tree. As the holy family approached the tree, the tree shook fiercely, and the evil spirit, terrified by the approaching Christ-child, fled. Then the tree bent its top down to the ground and worshiped its Creator like a rational creature. Thus the bent tree cast a great shadow, under which the weary travelers rested. From that day, the tree received miraculous healing powers from Christ the Lord to heal every infirmity of men. Afterward, the holy sojourners went to the village of Matarea. Near the village they saw a fig tree, and, while Joseph went into the village on business, the Most-holy Virgin took refuge under the fig tree with the Lord. And, oh, what a miracle: the tree lowered its crown down to the ground to create a shadow for the travelers, and its lower half split open in such a way that the Mother with the Child could enter and rest. And what is even more miraculous: a living spring of water suddenly opened up near the fig tree. Joseph found a hut in the vicinity, where they settled. There they lived and drank water from that miraculous spring. This was the only spring of living water to be found in Egypt, for all the other water in Egypt comes from the Nile River, which branches off into innumerable canals. And thus, like brought forth like: the Lord Jesus, the Immortal and Heavenly Spring of living water, by His presence called forth this spring of living water from the earth.
Contemplate the assembly of Christ's holy martyrs:
1. How they endured sufferings and did not deny Christ;
2. How, out of love for Christ the Lord, they went to their sufferings and death as if to a feast;
3. How they now rejoice in the Kingdom of Christ and help us by their prayers.
on the Most-holy Virgin, the Theotokos
His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it (John 2:5).
Here is joy for all the faithful: she who is closest to Christ the Savior in heaven, as she had been on earth, cares for the faithful, appears to them, helps them and advises them, Whatsoever He, my Son and my God, saith unto you, do it. Thus, she advised the servants at the marriage in Cana, and the servants obeyed her and saw a miracle. From those few words of the Most-holy Virgin, God's Bride, recorded in the Gospel, we receive a precious instruction, truly the one and only Gospel instruction that she gave to mankind during her life on earth. Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it! As though she wanted to say: "He knows all; He can do all; He loves you all; therefore, you should look neither here nor there, but hear Him and obey Him." She comprehended the responsibility in this world of living for Him and directing others to Him as the Source of life, and she voluntarily continues carrying out this responsibility even from heaven. Throughout the Church's entire history, she has taught the faithful to do whatsoever He said. And even today, from her heavenly glory, she mystically descends among the faithful to counsel them to do that which He has commanded. That is her Gospel-the Gospel of the Most-holy Virgin, the Theotokos. It consists not of the Four Gospels but of four words: Do whatsoever He saith. O my brethren, let us obey her! Let us obey her as a mother and more than our mother, for she desires the greatest good for us-to reign in the Eternal Kingdom of her Son.
O Most-holy Virgin, help us to fulfill His words.
To Thee and to Him be glory and praise forever. Amen.