Great Martyr St Katherine
St Katherine, as a girl was not a Christian. She lived in the early fourth century Alexandria with her mother, a Christian, who raised her with the finest education.
Katherine’s mother took her to a holy man who began to describe Jesus Christ to her. He told her to pray all night before an icon of the Theotokos and Jesus. When Katherine fell asleep, she saw a vision of the Theotokos and Jesus, but Christ would not look at her, saying that she was unworthy. Jesus told her to return to the elder for instructions, which she did. The elder baptised her and sent her to keep a vigil all night and to fast and pray. She saw the vision again, but Jesus told her she was now worthy to behold. He gave her a ring, which was also on her finger when she awoke, and remains on her finger to this day.
The emperor Maximinus commanded a festival to be held to the gods and many animals were sacrificed. Watching this in sadness, Katherine went to the emperor and told him that his gods were demons of fantasies and illusions. She told him that there was only one God, whose word maintains the world.
Maximinus, fearing that she would embarrass him, assembled 150 orators to debate her. The Archangel Michael appeared and told her that God would add to her wisdom, and that she would save many. She refuted the orators with the words of their poets who proclaimed the gods, and she used the words of their gods who foretold of the times of Jesus Christ. The emperor condemned the 150 to death by fire. Before they died, Katherine made the sign of the Cross over them as she had converted them. They all died, but not even a hair of their heads was singed.
The emperor tried to win Katherine by flattery, to no avail. She was beaten, bloodied, and imprisoned. The emperor’s wife, his military commander, and 200 soldiers visited Katherine in prison, and all became Christians, but were beheaded by the emperor.
The emperor then asked Katherine to be his queen, if only she would worship his idols. When she refused, she went to the place of execution, followed by a crowd who mourned her. She told the unbelievers to mourn their own demise.
She prayed and was beheaded at the age of 18. Milk flowed from her wound. Her fragrant relics are at St Katherine’s monastery at Mount Sinai.
Dismissal Hymn (Plagal of the First Tone)
Let us praise the most auspicious bride of Christ, the divine Katherine, protectress of Sinai, our aid and our help. For, she brilliantly silenced the eloquence of the impious by the sword of the spirit, and now, crowned as a martyr, she asks great mercy for all.
Kontakion (Second Tone)
O friends of martyrs, now divinely raise up a renewed chorus, praising the all-wise Katherine. For, she proclaimed Christ in the arena, trampled on the serpent, and spat upon the knowledge of the orators.
Mercurius the Great Martyr of Caesarea in Cappadocia
Saint Mercurius came from Cappadocia, and was the son of Gordian, a Scythian. A young man, and a soldier of high rank, he refused to offer sacrifice to the idols, and after torments was beheaded during the reign of Valerian (253-260).
Apolytikion of Great Martyr Mercurius in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Kontakion of Great Martyr Mercurius in the Second Tone
O wise one, thou wast initiated solemnly in matters divine, O all-renowned Mercurius, and becamest an acceptable sacrifice when eagerly thou didst drink the cup of Christ God; and now thou dost ceaselessly pray for us all.
Apodosis of the Presentation of the Theotokos into the Temple
Today is the prelude of God’s pleasure and the proclamation of man’s salvation. The Virgin is clearly made manifest in the temple of God and foretells Christ to all. Let us also cry out to her with mighty voice, “Hail, fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation.”
Kontakion of Apodosis of the Entry in the Fourth Tone
Today, the most pure temple of the Savior, the precious bridal chamber and Virgin, the sacred treasure of God, enters the house of the Lord, bringing the grace of the Divine Spirit. The Angels of God praise her. She is the heavenly tabernacle.