The Forefeast of the Nativity of the Theotokos
Apolytikion of Theotokos’ Nativity Forefeast in the Fourth Tone
From the root of Jesse and the loins of David the King, Mariam, the child of God, is born for our sake this day. Hence, all creation exulteth on its renewal. Both Heaven and the earth rejoice together now. Praise her, O ye tribes of nations here below. The righteous Joachim rejoiceth, and Anna keepeth feast, crying out: The barren beareth the Theotokos, the nourisher of our life.
Kontakion of Theotokos’ Nativity Forefeast in the Third Tone
On this day the Virgin and Theotokos Mary, the bridal chamber of the Heavenly Bridegroom, by the will of God is born of a barren woman. Being prepared as the chariot of God the Word, she was pre-ordained for this, since she is the divine gate and the true Mother of Life.
Sozon The Martyr
The Martyr Sozon, a native of Lykaonia, was a shepherd. He read the Holy Scriptures attentively, and he loved to share his knowledge about the One God with other shepherds. He brought many to the faith in Christ and to Baptism.
One night, as he sat under an oak tree, he had a vision foretelling his martyrdom for Christ. He went to the city of Cilician Pompeiopolis, where a festal pagan celebration was being prepared for a golden idol, standing in a pagan temple. Unseen by anyone, St Sozon went into the pagan temple and broke off the idol’s hand and smashed it, gaving the gold to the poor. The missing hand of the idol caused an uproar and commotion in the city. Many were under suspicion, and were subjected to interrogation and torture. Not wanting to be the cause of suffering for other people, St Sozon went to emperor Maximian (284-305 AD) and confessed that he broke the hand of the idol. “I did this”, he said, “so that you might see the lack of power of your god, which offered me no resistance. It is not a god, but a deaf and dumb idol.
I wanted to smash it all into pieces, so that people would no longer worship the work of men’s hands”. The emperor in a fitful rage commanded that St Sozon be tortured mercilessly. They hung him up and struck him with iron claws, and then they put iron boots in which there were nails on his feet and took him through the city. They again suspended him and beat him with iron rods until his bones broke. In these terrible torments, St Sozon gave up his spirit to God. By decree of the emperor, slaves lit a fire to burn the body of the martyr, but suddenly lightning flashed, it thundered loudly, and rain poured down over the fire. Christians took the martyrs body by night and buried it. Many of the sick were healed at his grave and at the place where he had the vision. A church was built in memory of the sufferings of the holy martyr.
Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)
Your Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for You received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from You, our immortal God. For since he possessed Your strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ powerless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since You are merciful.
Kontakion (Second Tone)
As we come together on this day, let us acclaim with a great voice Sozon, the true and God-bearing Martyr, the approved athlete of godliness, the divine initiate of grace, the most bountiful bestower of healings; for he intercedes with God for us all.
Also Celebrated Today:
- Kassiani the Hymnographer
- Euodos and Onesiphoros, Apostles of the 70
- John the Wonderworker of Novgorod
- John and Sergios, Bishops of Lerna