Monday May 03, 2021
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John 20:19-25 (Vespers Gospel)
Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
Matthew 28:1-20 (Cross Procession, 1st Reading)
Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.”
Mark 16:1-8 (Cross Procession, 2nd Reading)
Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away – for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples – and Peter – that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Wisdom of Solomon 5:15-6:3 (Vespers, 1st reading)
But the righteous live for ever, and their reward is with the Lord; the Most High takes care of them. Therefore they will receive a glorious crown and a beautiful diadem from the hand of the Lord, because with his right hand he will cover them, and with his arm he will shield them. The Lord will take his zeal as his whole armor, and will arm all creation to repel his enemies; he will put on righteousness as a breastplate, and wear impartial justice as a helmet; he will take holiness as a invincible shield, and sharpen stern wrath for a sword, and creation will join with him to fight against the madmen. Shafts of lightening will fly with true aim, and will leap to the target as from a well-drawn bow of clouds, and hailstones full of wrath will be hurled as from a catapult; the water of the sea will rage against them, and rivers will relentlessly overwhelm them; a mighty wind will rise against them, and like a tempest it will winnow them away. Lawlessness will lay waste the whole earth, and evil-doing will overturn the thrones of rulers. Listen therefore, O kings, and understand; learn, O judges of the ends of the earth. Give ear, you that rule over multitudes, and boast of many nations. For your dominion was given you from the Lord, and your sovereignty from the Most High, who will search out your works and inquire into your plans.
Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9 (Vespers, 2nd reading)
But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be affliction, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them. In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will reign over them for ever. Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.
Wisdom of Solomon 4:7-15 (Vespers, 3rd reading)
But the righteous man, though he die early, will be at rest. For old age is not honored for length of time, nor measured by number of years; but understanding is gray hair for men, and a blameless life is ripe old age. There was one who pleased God and was loved by him, He was caught up lest evil change his understanding or guile deceive his soul. For the fascination of wickedness obscures what is good, and roving desire perverts the innocent mind. Being perfected in a short time, he fulfilled long years; for his soul was pleasing to the Lord, therefore he took him quickly from the midst of wickedness. Yet the peoples saw and did not understand, nor take such a thing to heart, that God’s grace and mercy are with his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.
Luke 6:17-23 (Matins Gospel)
And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all. Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.
Hebrews 13:7-16 (Epistle, Saint)
Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Matthew 11:27-30 (Gospel, Saint)
All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Acts 1:12-17, 21-26 (Epistle)
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
John 1:18-28 (Gospel)
No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the LORD,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today
On Bright Monday the Church commemorates the Sweet-Kissing (Glykophilousa) Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. Like the Ivḗron Icon (March 31), the Sweet-Kissing Icon was also saved from the iconoclasts by a pious woman in the ninth century. It also traveled miraculously upon the sea, arriving at Mt. Athos, the “Garden of the Theotokos,” where it was honored by the monks. A nobleman named Simeon was an iconoclast who shared the emperor Theophilus’s hatred for the holy icons. Simeon’s wife Victoria, on the other hand, venerated icons, especially a certain icon of the Mother of God before which she prayed each day. Simeon could not tolerate his wife’s piety, so he demanded that she give him the icon so he could burn it. Victoria threw the icon into the sea, hoping that it would be preserved through God’s providence. Years later, the icon appeared on the shores of Mt. Athos near the monastery of Philotheou. The igumen and the brethren of the monastery retrieved the icon and placed it in the church, where it worked many miracles. In 1830 a pilgrim came to the monastery from Adrianopolis. He listened to the history of the icon and the miracles associated with it, but regarded such things as childish fables. The monk who had related all this was surprised and grieved by the pilgrim’s disbelief, fearing that such doubts indicated an unhealthy spiritual state. He did all that he could to remove the pilgrim’s skepticism, but the man stubbornly adhered to his opinion.The Mother of God, in her compassion, finally healed the pilgrim’s soul in a rather dramatic way. On the very day that he had his discussion with the monk, the pilgrim was walking on an upper balcony. Suddenly, he lost his footing and began to fall. In his distress he called out, “Most Holy Theotokos, help me!” The Mother of God heard him, and he landed on the ground completely unharmed. The icon is one of the Eleusa (Tenderness) type. It is unusual in that it shows the Virgin kissing her Child. Christ raises His hand as if to repulse His mother’s caress.Other Sweet-Kissing (Tenderness) icons are:Lubyatov (March 19)Novgorod (July 28)Pskov (May 21, June 23, August 26, October 7)Smolensk (March 19)Sviatogorsk (July 17)Yaroslavl (May 14)
Icon of the Mother of God of Mt. Athos, “Sweet Kissing”
Like the Panagia Portaitissa, the Glykophilousa Icon is one of those which were saved during the iconoclastic period and brought miraculously to Mount Athos. It originally belonged to Victoria, the devout wife of the senator Symeon. Victoria was one who venerated the holy icons, especially that of the Most Holy Theotokos, before which she prayed each day. Her husband was an iconoclast who found her piety offensive, for he, like Emperor Theophilos (r. 829-842), found the veneration of icons distasteful. Symeon told his wife to give him her icon so that he could burn it. In order to save the icon from being destroyed, she threw it into the sea, and it floated away standing upright on the waves. After a few years, the icon appeared on the shores of Mount Athos near the Monastery of Philotheou, where it was received with great honor and rejoicing by the Abbot and Fathers of the Monastery, who had been informed of its impending arrival through a revelation of the Theotokos.A spring of holy water sprouted forth on the very spot where they placed the icon on the shore. Every year on Monday of Bright Week there is a procession and blessing of water. Numerous miracles have occurred.Although there are many miracles of the Glykophilousa Icon, we will mention only a few. In 1713, the Mother of God answered the prayers of the devout Ecclesiarch Ioannikios, who complained about the poverty of the monastery. She assured him that she would provide for the material needs of the monastery.Another miracle took place in 1801. A pilgrim, after seeing the precious offerings having from the icon, planned to steal them. He stayed in the Temple after the Ecclesiarch closed it. Then he stole the offerings and left for the port of Ivḗron Monastery. There he found a boat that was leaving for Ierissos. After a while the ship sailed, but despite the excellent weather, it remained stationary in the sea. When the Ecclesiarch saw what had happened, the abbot sent monks out in various directions. Two went to the port of Ivḗron and when they saw the immobile ship, they realized what happened. The guilty man who committed this fearful sacrilege asked for forgiveness. The monks were magnanimous and did not want the thief to be punished.A pilgrim from Adrianopolis visited Philotheou Monastery in 1830. He listened attentively to a monk tell the story of the holy Icon and the miracles associated with it, but he regarded the account as a fictitious tale which only a child might believe. The monk was grieved at the man’s unbelief, and tried to persuade him that everything he had said was absolutely true. The unfortunate pilgrim remained unconvinced.That very day, as the pilgrim was walking on an upper balcony, he slipped and began to fall. He cried out, “Most Holy Theotokos, help me!” The Mother of God heard him and came to his assistance. The pilgrim landed on the ground completely unharmed.The Glykophilousa Icon belongs to the Eleousa (the Virgin of Tenderness) category of icons, where the Mother accepts the affection shown by the Child Christ. The icon is commemorated by the Church on March 27 and also on Bright Monday. The icon depicts the Theotokos inclining toward Christ, Who embraces her. She seems to be embracing Him more tightly than in other icons, and her expression is more affectionate.The Icon is located on a pillar on the left side of the katholikon (main church).
Martyr Timothy the Reader and his wife, Maura, in Egypt
Saints Timothy and Maura suffered for the faith during the persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Saint Timothy came from the village of Perapa (Egyptian Thebaid), and was the son of a priest named Pikolpossos. He was made a reader among the church clergy, and also a keeper and copyist of divine service books. Saint Timothy was denounced as a keeper of Christian books, which the emperor ordered to be confiscated and burned. They brought Saint Timothy before the governor Arian, who demanded that he hand over the sacred books. They subjected the saint to horrible tortures for his refusal to obey the command. They shoved two red-hot iron rods into his ears, from which the sufferer lost his eyesight and became blind. Saint Timothy bravely endured the pain and he gave thanks to God, for granting him to suffer for Him. The torturers hung the saint head downwards, putting a piece of wood in his mouth, and they tied a heavy stone to his neck. Saint Timothy’s suffering was so extreme, that even those who tortured him implored the governor to ease up on the torture. About this time they informed Arian that Timothy had a young wife named Maura, whom he had married only twenty days before. Arian ordered Maura to be brought, hoping that with her present, they could break Saint Timothy’s will. Saint Timothy urged his wife not to fear the tortures, but to follow his path. Saint Maura answered, “I am prepared to die with you,” and she boldly confessed herself a Christian. Arian commanded that the hair be torn from her head, and to cut the fingers off her hands. Saint Maura underwent the torment with joy and even thanked the governor for the torture, which she endured so that her sins might be forgiven. Then Arian gave orders to throw Saint Maura into a boiling cauldron, but she did not feel any pain, and she remained unharmed. Suspecting that the servants had filled the cauldron with cold water out of sympathy for the martyr, Arian went up and ordered the saint to splash him on the hand with water from the cauldron. When the martyr did this, Arian screamed with pain and drew back his scalded hand. Then, momentarily admitting the power of the miracle, Arian confessed God in Whom Maura believed as the True God, and he ordered her to be released. But the devil still held great power over the governor, and soon he again began to urge Saint Maura to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Having gotten nowhere, Arian was overcome all the more by a satanic rage and he came up with new tortures. Then the people began to murmur and demand a stop to the abuse of this innocent woman. But Saint Maura, turning to the people, said, “Let no one defend me. I have one Defender, God, in Whom I trust.” Finally, after torturing them for a long time, Arian ordered the martyrs to be crucified. For ten days they hung on crosses facing each other. On the tenth day of martyrdom the saints offered up their souls to the Lord. This occurred in the year 286. Later, a solemn celebration of the holy martyrs Timothy and Maura was instituted at Constantinople, and a church was built in their honor.
Venerable Theodosius, Abbot of the Kiev Far Caves Monastery, and Founder of Coenobitic Monasticism in Russia
Saint Theodosius of the Caves, was the Father of monasticism in Russia. He was born at Vasilevo, not far from Kiev. From his youth he felt an irresistible attraction for the ascetic life, and led an ascetic lifestyle while still in his parental home. He disdained childish games and attractions, and constantly went to church. He asked his parents to let him study the holy books, and through his ability and rare zeal, he quickly learned to read the books, so that everyone was amazed at his intellect. When he was fourteen, he lost his father and remained under the supervision of his mother, a strict and domineering woman who loved her son very much. Many times she chastised her son for his yearning for asceticism, but he remained firmly committed to his path. At the age of twenty-four, he secretly left his parents’ home and Saint Anthony at the Kiev Caves monastery blessed him to receive monastic tonsure with the name Theodosius. After four years his mother found him and with tearfully begged him to return home, but the saint persuaded her to remain in Kiev and to become a nun in the monastery of Saint Nicholas at the Askold cemetery. Saint Theodosius toiled at the monastery more than others, and he often took upon himself some of the work of the other brethren. He carried water, chopped wood, ground up the grain, and carried the flour to each monk. On cold nights he uncovered his body and let it serve as food for gnats and mosquitoes. His blood flowed, but the saint occupied himself with handicrafts, and sang Psalms. He came to church before anyone else and, standing in one place, he did not leave it until the end of services. He also listened to the readings with particular attention. In 1054 Saint Theodosius was ordained a hieromonk, and in 1057 he was chosen igumen. The fame of his deeds attracted a number of monks to the monastery, at which he built a new church and cells, and he introduced cenobitic rule of the Studion monastery, a copy of which he commissioned at Constantinople. As igumen, Saint Theodosius continued his arduous duties at the monastery. He usually ate only dry bread and cooked greens without oil, and spent his nights in prayer without sleep. The brethren often noticed this, although the saint tried to conceal his efforts from others. No one saw when Saint Theodosius dozed lightly, and usually he rested while sitting. During Great Lent the saint withdrew into a cave near the monastery, where he struggled unseen by anyone. His attire was a coarse hairshirt worn next to his body. He looked so much like a beggar that it was impossible to recognize in this old man the renowned igumen, deeply respected by all who knew him. Once, Saint Theodosius was returning from visiting the Great Prince Izyaslav. The coachman, not recognizing him, said gruffly, “You, monk, are always on holiday, but I am constantly at work. Take my place, and let me ride in the carriage.” The holy Elder meekly complied and drove the servant. Seeing how nobles along the way bowed to the monk driving the horses, the servant took fright, but the holy ascetic calmed him, and gave him a meal at the monastery. Trusting in God’s help, the saint did not keep a large supply of food at the monastery, and therefore the brethren were in want of their daily bread. Through his prayers, however, unknown benefactors appeared at the monastery and furnished the necessities for the brethren. The Great Princes, especially Izyaslav, loved to listen to the spiritual discourses of Saint Theodosius. The saint was not afraid to denounce the mighty of this world. Those unjustly condemned always found a defender in him, and judges would review matters at the request of the igumen. He was particularly concerned for the destitute. He built a special courtyard for them at the monastery where anyone in need could receive food and drink. Sensing the approach of death, Saint Theodosius peacefully fell asleep in the Lord in the year 1074. He was buried in a cave which he dug, where he secluded himself during fasting periods. The relics of the ascetic were found incorrupt, and he was glorified as a saint in 1108. Of the written works of Saint Theodosius six discourses, two letters to Great Prince Izyaslav, and a prayer for all Christians have survived to our time. The Life of Saint Theodosius was written by Saint Nestor the Chronicler (October 27), a disciple of the great Abba, only thirty years after his repose, and it was always one of the favorite readings of the Russian nation. Saint Theodosius is also commemorated on September 2 and 28.
Saint Peter the Wonderworker, Bishop of Argos
Saint Peter the Wonderworker, Bishop of Argos in the Peloponnesos, lived during the ninth and early tenth centuries, and was raised by pious parents. Saint Peter’s parents, and later his brothers Paul, Dionysius, Platon and Saint Peter himself, all became monks. Saint Peter zealously devoted himself to monastic labors, and he excelled all his fellows. This came to the attention of the Italian bishop Nicholas (who from 895 was Patriarch of Constantinople), who wanted to elevate him to the rank of bishop. Saint Peter declined, accounting himself unworthy of such honor. Bishop Nicholas consecrated Paul, Saint Peter’s brother, as Bishop of Corinth, and Saint Peter went to his brother and lived with him, taking upon himself the spiritual struggle of silence. After a year emissaries came to Bishop Paul from the city of Argos, where the bishop had died, and they asked for Saint Peter as their bishop. After long and intense entreaties, Saint Peter finally gave his consent. As bishop, Saint Peter toiled zealously in guiding his flock. He was extraordinarily compassionate, concerning himself with those in need, especially orphans and widows. The saint fed the hungry in years of crop failure. Through his prayers the food set aside for the hungry never ran out. The saint also ransomed captives, healed the sick and the afflicted, and possessed the gift of insight. The saint predicted the day of his death, and departed to the Lord at the age of seventy. His relics were transferred from Argos to Nauplos in 1421, exuding myrrh, and working miracles and healings.
“Svenskaya” Icon of the Mother of God
The Sven Caves Icon of the Mother of God was painted by Saint Alypius of the Caves (August 17). On the icon the Mother of God is depicted sitting upon a throne, and with the Divine Infant on Her knees. Saint Theodosius is on the right side of the throne, and Saint Anthony of the Caves on the left. Until the year 1288 it was in the Kiev Caves monastery, where it was glorified by miracles. In 1288 it was transferred to the Briansk-Svensk monastery, which is dedicated to the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. Prince Roman of Chernigov, then at Briansk, became blind. Hearing about the miracles worked by the icon of Saint Alypius, the prince sent a courier to the monastery requesting that the icon be sent to him at Briansk. They sent a priest with the icon along the River Desna. After the voyage the boat landed on the right bank of the River Svena. After lodging for the night they went to the boat to pray before the icon, but they did not find it there. They saw it on a hill on the opposite bank, resting in the branches of an oak tree. News of this reached Prince Roman, and they led him to the icon on foot. The prince prayed fervently before the icon and vowed to build a monastery on that spot, donating all the land which could be seen from the hill. After the prayer the prince regained his sight. First he saw the footpath, then nearby objects, and finally all the surroundings. After making a shrine for the icon, the prince had a Molieben served, and then they laid the foundations for a wooden church in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. The tree on which the icon rested was cut up and used as wood for other icons. The Feast day of the Sven Icon of the Mother of God was set for May 3. It is also commemorated on August 17 (the day of the repose of Saint Alypius the Iconographer).The icon was glorified by healings of the blind and of the possessed, and has long been regarded as a protector from enemies.
Translation of the Dormition Icon of the Mother of God from Constantinople to the Kiev Caves, Far Caves
The Kiev Caves Icon of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos is one of the most ancient icons in the Russian Orthodox Church. The Mother of God entrusted it to four Byzantine architects, who in 1073 brought the icon to Saints Anthony and Theodosius of the Caves. The architects arrived at the monks’ cave and asked, “Where do you want to build the church?” The saints answered, “Go, the Lord will point out the place.” “How is it that you, who are about to die, have still not designated the place?” the architects wondered. “And they gave us much gold.” Then the monks summoned all the brethren and they began to question the Greeks, saying, “Tell us the truth. Who sent you, and how did you end up here?” The architects answered, “One day, when each of us was asleep in his own home, handsome youths came to us at sunrise, and said, ‘The Queen summons you to Blachernae.’ We all arrived at the same time and, questioning one another we learned that each of us had heard this command of the Queen, and that the youths had come to each of us. Finally, we beheld the Queen of Heaven with a multitude of warriors. We bowed down to Her, and She said, ‘I want to build Myself a Church in Rus, at Kiev, and so I ask you to do this. Take enough gold for three years.’” “We bowed down and asked, ‘Lady Queen! You are sending us to a foreign land. To whom are we sent?’ She answered, ‘I send you to the monks Anthony and Theodosius.’” “We wondered, ‘Why then, Lady, do You give us gold for three years? Tell us that which concerns us, what we shall eat and what we shall drink, and tell us also what You know about it.’” “The Queen replied, ‘Anthony will merely give the blessing, then depart from this world to eternal repose. The other one, Theodosius, will follow him after two years. Therefore, take enough gold. Moreover, no one can do what I shall do to honor you. I shall give you what eye has not seen, what ear has not heard, and what has not entered into the heart of man (1 Cor.2:9). I, Myself, shall come to look upon the church and I shall dwell within it.’” “She also gave us relics of the holy martyrs Menignus, Polyeuctus, Leontius, Acacius, Arethas, James, and Theodore, saying, ‘Place these within the foundation.’ We took more than enough gold, and She said, ‘Come out and see the resplendent church.’ We went out and saw a church in the air. Coming inside again, we bowed down and said, ‘Lady Queen, what will be the name of the church?’” “She answered, ‘I wish to call it by My own name.’ We did not dare to ask what Her name was, but She said again, ‘It will be the church of the Mother of God.’ After giving us this icon, She said, ‘This will be placed within.’ We bowed down to Her and went to our own homes, taking with us the icon we received from the hands of the Queen.” Having heard this account, all glorified God, and Saint Anthony said, “My children, we never left this place. Those handsome youths summoning you were holy angels, and the Queen in Blachernae was the Most Holy Theotokos. As for those who appeared to be us, and the gold they gave you, the Lord only knows how He deigned to do this with His servants. Blessed be your arrival! You are in good company: the venerable icon of the Lady.” For three days Saint Anthony prayed that the Lord would show him the place for the church. After the first night there was a dew throughout all the land, but it was dry on the holy spot. On the second morning throughout all the land it was dry, but on the holy spot it was wet with dew. On the third morning, they prayed and blessed the place, and measured the width and length of the church with a golden sash. (This sash had been brought long ago by the Varangian Shimon, who had a vision about the building of a church.) A bolt of lightning, falling from heaven by the prayer of Saint Anthony, indicated that this spot was pleasing to God. So the foundation of the church was laid. The icon of the Mother of God was glorified by numerous miracles. Two friends, John and Sergius, sealed their friendship before it. After many years John fell mortally ill. He gave part of his wealth to the the Caves monastery, and he gave Sergius the portion for his five-year-old son for safekeeping. He also entrusted his son Zachariah to his guardianship. When Zachariah turned fifteen, he asked for his inheritance, but Sergius persisted in saying that John had distributed everything to the poor. He even went into the Dormition church and swore before the wonderworking icon that he had taken nothing. When he attempted to kiss the icon, he was not able to come near it. He went to the doors and suddenly shouted, “Saints Anthony and Theodosius! Let me not be struck down for my dishonesty. Entreat the Most Holy Theotokos to drive away the multitude of demons which torment me. Let the gold and silver be taken away. It is sealed up in my granary.” Zachariah gave away all his inheritance to the Caves monastery, where he also himself was tonsured a monk. From that time, no one would take oaths before the wonderworking icon (March 24). More than once the icon defended the land from enemy invasion. In 1677, when the Turks laid siege to Chigirin and danger threatened Kiev, they carried the icon around the city for almost the entire day of August 27. The Mother of God blessed Russian armies going to the Battle of Poltava (1709). In 1812 they carried the icon around Kiev again. The icon is commemorated twice during the year: May 3 and August 15 .
Saint Mamai, Catholicos of Georgia
Saint Mamai served as chief shepherd of the Georgian faithful from 731 to 744.The information we have about his life is scarce, but it is known that Saint Mamai was abbot of Zedazeni Monastery and died a martyr for Christ.Outstanding in his achievements and endowed with profound spiritual wisdom, Saint Mamai was enthroned as Catholicos of Georgia at a time when the catholicos and the Georgian king were frequently the first victims of invading armies.
Saints Michael and Arsenius of Ulompo, Georgia
The biographies of Saints Michael and Arsenius the Georgians have unfortunately not been preserved. It is believed that at some point Arsenius moved from Khandzta Monastery to Palestine and labored there with a certain Macarius of Leteti. Afterward, Saint Arsenius founded a Georgian monastery on Mt. Olympus in Asia Minor. Twenty years later, Venerable Ilarion the Georgian arrived on Mt. Olympus and found three Georgian monks who were almost certainly disciples of Michael and Arsenius.It is known that they were contemporaries of Patriarch Sergius of Jerusalem (843-859). The following entry is recorded in the synodicon of Jerusalem’s Holy Cross Monastery: “Our Holy Fathers Michael and Arsenius, founders of Olympus.” The record indicates that Saints Arsenius and Michael established Georgian monasticism on Mt. Olympus. Located in Bythinia of Asia Minor, southeast of Prousa, Mt. Olympus was an important monastic center from the 5th to the 14th centuries. The monasteries of Olympus came to include the monastic communities on the plain of Prousa. The number of monasteries in the region is numbered at around fifty, their apogee occurring between the 8th and 10th centuries, when Olympus occupied the first place in the list of holy mountains. Monasteries in the region included Atroa, Chenolakkos, Medikion, and Pelekete.According to Paul Ingorokva, a scholar of the Georgian Middle Ages, Arsenius was probably a disciple of Saint Grigol of Khandzta. Ingorokva calls Arsenius “a handsome gentleman, a kind monk full of wisdom, the son of a great nobleman, and a relative of Saint Ephraim, bishop of Atsquri.”
Saint Ecumenius, Wonderworker of Trikala
Icon of the Mother of God of Mount Athos, “Sweet Kissing” – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 1
We praise thy holy Icon as a most honored gift,
and having acquired it, Philotheou Monastery rejoices exceedingly;
for in it we behold thee, O Pure One, kissing Christ as an infant;
and we magnify thy great glory, O Virgin, crying out to thee:
Glory to thy mighty works, O Pure One!
Glory to thy compassion!
Glory to thy care for us, O Spotless One!
Martyr Timothy the Reader and his wife, Maura, in Egypt – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 4
Your holy martyrs Timothy and Maura, O Lord,
through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God.
For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries,
and shattered the powerless boldness of demons.
Through their intercessions, save our souls!
Kontakion — Tone 4
You accepted many humiliations,
and deserved to be crowned by God.
Great and praiseworthy Timothy and Maura,
intercede with the Lord for us
that we may celebrate your most pure memory;
that He may grant peace to our land and people,
for He is a powerful stronghold for the faithful!
Venerable Theodosius, Abbot of the Kiev Far Caves Monastery, and Founder of Coenobitic Monasticism in Russia – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 8
Having been raised on virtue, you loved the monastic life from your youth,
and having valiantly attained your desire, you lived in a cave;
you adorned your life with the radiance of fasting, persevering in prayer as though bodiless.
Like a bright lamp you illumined the Russian lands, Father Theodosius.
Entreat Christ God that our souls may be saved.
Kontakion — Tone 3
Today let us honor a star of Russia,
who shone forth from the East, and came to the West.
The entire world has been enriched by wonders and blessings,
and all of us by grace
and by the establishment of the monastic rule by Blessed Theodosius.
Saint Peter the Wonderworker, Bishop of Argos – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 4
In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith,
an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence;
your humility exalted you;
your poverty enriched you.
Hierarch Father Peter,
entreat Christ our God
that our souls may be saved.
Saint Mamai, Catholicos of Georgia – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 4
In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith,
an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence;
your humility exalted you;
your poverty enriched you.
Hierarch Father Mamai,
entreat Christ our God
that our souls may be saved.
Saints Michael and Arsenius of Ulompo, Georgia – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 8
By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile,
and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance.
By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe!
O our holy fathers Michael and Arsenius, pray to Christ our God to save our souls!
Saint Ecumenius, Wonderworker of Trikala – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 8
O luminary of Orthodoxy, support and teacher of the Church,
adornment of hierarchs, invincible champion of theologians,
O wonderworker Ecumenius,
boast of Trikka, herald of faith,
entreat Christ for us all, that our souls may be saved.
Readings and Feast Day Information provided by The Orthodox Church in America (OCA).
Fasting guidelines provided by The Greek American Orthodox Archdiocese (GOARCH).
Aggregated and Formatted by OrthoBot.
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