Saint Andrew of Crete Author of the Great Canon
Saint Andrew, although born in Damascus of Asia Minor in 669 AD, and grew up in the city of the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord, yet he is closely associated with the island of the heroes, of Crete. His parents, George and Gregoria, being devout Christians, infused the soul of their son with the commandments of God. His Christian education bestowed Saint Andrew with the required qualities of distinction. He was tonsured a monk at a young age and later distinguished himself as patriarchal notary in Jerusalem.
At the age of 25, he was ordained Deacon by the Patriarch of Constantinople George. Saint Andrew looked upon the city of Jerusalem and upon Constantinople as the beacons of universal education and as sources of theological thought. His presence could not go unnoticed, and his prudence and vigour were soon recognised by the Patriarch of Jerusalem who included him in the delegation to the sixth Ecumenical Synod in Constantinople in 680 AD. That Synod convened in order to examine the issue of Monophysitism – Monothelitism. The works lasted for approximately a year and meetings totalled eighteen. Saint Andrew exhibited strategic qualities in defending Orthodox faith and defeated the cause of the heretics. By the end of the Synod the disparities between the parties had been dissolved.
At the age of 51, Saint Andrew was appointed Archbishop of Crete. As chief administrator on ecclesiastical matters on the island he assumed the responsibility of organising the Church of Crete. During his office he prompted philanthropy, erected churches and charitable institutions. Saint Andrew comforted and encouraged his flock during harsh times. He distinguished himself as an orator and great hymnographer. Today, approximately 100 canons and numerous troparia of the saint are preserved. Being extremely sensitive and receptive to social problems, he would travel to Constantinople to consult with the head of the Church. During one of his trips, the saint passed away on board ship on his way back to Crete. He was buried in the Church of Agia Anastasia on the island of Chios in 740 AD. Our church celebrates his memory on July 4 every year.
It is customary in Crete to praise a person who exhibits valour all his life. The valiant never perish, we believe. They are always contemporary and an inspiration to all those who dare stand up against the enemy to defend our priceless and perennial heritage. It is high time to rally our forces, assume initiative to claim what is rightfully ours. It is our destiny to defend our beliefs and come out victorious, in spite of the fact that we are always outnumbered by the numerous enemies.
Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)
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 Andrew, entreat Christ our God that our souls may be saved.
Kontakion (Second Tone)
You sounded forth divine melodies like a trumpet, and were a bright lamp for the world. You shone with the light of the Trinity, O righteous Andrew. Therefore we cry to you: Ever intercede for us all!
Holy Royal Martyrs of Russia
Tsar Nicholas II was the son of Alexander III, who had reposed in the arms of Saint John of Kronstadt. Having been raised in piety, Tsar Nicholas ever sought to rule in a spirit consonant with the precepts of Orthodoxy and the best traditions of his nation. Tsaritsa Alexandra, a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria of England, and a convert from Lutheranism, was noted for her piety and compassion for the poor and suffering. Their five children were beloved of all for their kindness, modesty, and guilelessness.
Amidst the political turmoil of 1917, Tsar Nicholas selflessly abdicated the throne for what he believed was the good of his country. Although he had abdicated willingly, the revolutionaries put him and his family under house arrest, then sent them under guard to Tobolsk and finally Ekaterinburg. A letter written from Tobolsk by Grand Duchess Olga, the eldest of the children, shows their nobility of soul. She writes, “My father asks that I convey to all those who have remained devoted to him … that they should not take vengeance on his account, because he has forgiven everyone and prays for them all. Nor should they avenge themselves. Rather, they should bear in mind that this evil which is now present in the world will become yet stronger, but that evil will not conquer evil, but only love shall do so.”
After enduring sixteen months of imprisonment, deprivation, and humiliation with a Christian patience which moved even their captors, they and those who were with them gained their crowns of martyrdom when they were shot and stabbed to death in the cellar of the Ipatiev house in Ekaterinburg in 1918.
Together with them are also commemorated those who faithfully served them, and were either slain with them, or on their account: General Elias Tatishchev; Prince Basil Dolgorukov; the physician Eugene Dotkin; the lady-in-waiting Countess Anastasia Hendrikova; the serving-maid Anna Demidova; the cook John Kharitonov; and the sailors Clement Nagorny and John Sednev.
Apolytikion of Royal Martyrs of Russia in the First Tone
Most noble and sublime was your life and death, O Sovereigns; wise Nicholas and blest Alexandra, we praise you, acclaiming your piety, meekness, faith, and humility, whereby ye attained to crowns of glory in Christ God, with your five renowned and godly children of blest fame. O Marytrs decked in purple, intercede for us.
Kontakion of Royal Martyrs of Russia in the Third Tone
Royalty and martyrdom were joined together, O blest ones, in your death for righteousness and right belief, O wise Sovereigns, Nicholas and Alexandra, with your five children. Hence, Christ God hath deemed you worthy of thrones in Heaven; and with twofold crowns of glory, ye reign for ever, adorned with grace divine.
We Also Celebrate Today:
Martha, mother of St. Symeon Stylites the Younger
Asclepias the Wonderworker
Michael Choniates, Metropolitan of Athens