• Holy Protection of the Theotokos
    Ananias of the 70
    Romanos the Melodist
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    The Holy Protection of the Theotokos

    The Feast of the Protection commemorates the appearance of the most holy Theotokos in the Church of Blachernae in Constantinople in the early sixth century, as recorded in the life of Saint Andrew the Fool for Christ’s sake. While the multitudes of the faithful were gathered in church, Epiphanius, the friend of Saint Andrew, through the Saint’s prayers, beheld the Virgin Mary above the faithful and spreading out her veil over them, signifying her unceasing protection of all Christians. Because of this we keep a yearly feast of gratitude, imploring our Lady never to cease sheltering us in her mighty prayers.

    In the Greek tradition, this feast is celebrated on October 28, while in the Slavic tradition, this feast is celebrated on October 1.

    Apolytikion of Holy Protection of the Theotokos in the First Tone

    O Virgin, we extol the great grace of thy Protection, which thou didst spread out like a bright cloud beyond all understanding; for thou dost invisibly protect thy people from the foe’s every assault. Since we have thee as our shelter and certain help, we cry to thee with our whole soul: Glory to thy great deeds, O most pure Maid. Glory to thy shelter most divine. Glory to thy care and providence for us, O spotless one.

    Kontakion of Holy Protection of the Theotokos in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    Let us the faithful hasten to the Theotokos now and venerate her sacred veil, as we chant unto her, singing hymns to praise and honour her, as is fitting; for she shelt’reth with her shelter and all her faithful flock and preserveth them unharmed from all calamities, as they cry to her: Rejoice, Protection most radiant.

    Ananias, the Holy Apostle of the Seventy

    The_Feast_of_the_Holy_Skepi_of_the_TheotokosHoly Apostle Ananias of the Seventy, whose name means “God is gracious”, was Bishop of Damascus. At the command of God, he baptised Saul, the former persecutor of Christians. Saul became the great preacher and Apostle Paul (Acts 9:10-19, 22:12). St Ananias, despite the danger, boldly and openly confessed Christianity before the Jews and the pagans.

    From Damascus he went to preach at Eleutheropolis, where he healed many of their infirmities. The governor of the city, Lucian, tried to persuade the Holy one to offer sacrifice to idols. Lucian gave orders to torture Ananias, because of his staunch and solid confession of Christ. Harsh torments did not sway the witness of Truth. Then the torturers led him out beyond the city, where they stoned him. The Saint prayed for those who put him to death. His relics were later transferred to Constantinople.

    Dismissal Hymn (Third Tone)

    O Holy Apostle Ananias, intercede with the merciful God that He grant to our souls forgiveness of offences.

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    Our most fervent advocate in intercession who quickly hears those who pray to you, receive our supplication, O Ananias, and implore Christ, Who alone is glorified in the Saints, to have mercy on us.

    Saint Romanos the Melodist


    Saint Romanos flourished during the reign of Anastasius (491-518). He was from Emesa of Syria, and apparently was born of Jewish parents, for a hymn written in his honour in Greek says he was “of Hebrew stock,” and it has furthermore been noted that he uses many Semitic idioms in his writings. He was baptized an Orthodox Christian, and at some time became a deacon in the Church of Beirut. He was the first composer of the kontakia, the foremost of which is that of the feast of Christ’s Nativity, On this day the Virgin …. In composing many of his kontakia. Saint Romanos was inspired by the hymns of Saint Ephraim of Syria.

    Apolytikion of Romanos the Melodist in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    The image of God, was faithfully preserved in you, O Father. For you took up the Cross and followed Christ. By Your actions you taught us to look beyond the flesh for it passes, rather to be concerned about the soul which is immortal. Wherefore, O Holy Romanos, your soul rejoices with the angels.


    Kontakion of Romanos the Melodist in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    As a harmonious harp of lofty wisdom from on high and an expounder of things seen in God-inspired ascents, we extol thee, Father Romanos, and we hymn thee. As a trumpet of the gifts that pass the mind of man, do thou rouse us to divine and saving watchfulness, as we cry to thee: Rejoice, O Father elect of God.

  • Martyrs Cyprian & Justina
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    The Holy Hieromartyr Cyprian and the Virgin Martyr Justina

    Cyprian was a philosopher and renowned sorcerer originating from Carthage who lived in Antioch of Pisidia during the reign of Decius (249-251 AD). Springing from impious parents, in his very childhood he was dedicated by them to the service of the pagan god Apollo. At the age of seven he was given over to magicians for the study of sorcery and demonic wisdom. At the age of ten he was sent by his parents, as a preparation for a sorcerer’s career, to Mount Olympus, which the pagans called the dwelling of the gods. Here there were a numerous multitude of idols, in which demons dwelled.

    On this mountain Cyprian studied all manner of diabolical arts: he mastered various demonic transformations; learned how to change the nature of the air; to bring up winds; produce thunder and rain; disturb the waves of the sea; cause damage to gardens, vineyards, and fields; to send diseases and plagues upon people; and in general he learned a ruinous wisdom and diabolical activity filled with evil. In this place he saw a numberless legion of demons, with the prince of darkness at their head; some stood before him others served him, still others cried out in praise of their prince, and some were sent into the world in order to corrupt people. Here he likewise saw in their forms the pagan gods and goddesses, and also diverse phantoms and spectres, the invocation of which he learned in a strict forty-day fast. he ate only after the setting sun, and not bread or anything else, but only acorns from oak trees.

    When he was fifteen years old he began to receive lessons from seven great sorcerers; from them he learned many demonic secrets. Then he went to the city of Argos, where, having served the goddess Juno for a time, he learned many practices of deception from her priests. He lived also in Taurapolis on the island of Icara in the service of the goddess Diana; and from there he went to Sparta, where he learned how to call forth the dead from the graves and to force them to speak by means of various incantations and spells. At the age of twenty, Cyprian came to Egypt, and in the city of Memphis he learned yet greater charms and incantations. In his thirtieth year he went to the Chaldean, and having learned astrology there, he finished his studies. After this he returned to Antioch, being perfect in all evil-doing. Thus he became a sorcerer, magician, and destroyer of souls, a great friend and faithful slave of the prince of hell, with whom he conversed face-to-face, being vouchsafed to receive from him great honour, as he himself testified.

    “Believe me”, he said, “I have seen the prince of darkness himself, for I propitiated him by sacrifices. I greeted him and spoke with him and his ancients; he liked me, praised my understanding, and before everyone said, ‘Here is a new Jambres, always ready for obedience and worthy of communion with us!’ And he promised to make me a prince after my departure from the body, and for the course of earthy life to help me in everything. And he gave me a legion of demons to serve me. When I departed from him, he addressed me with these words: ‘Take courage, fervent Cyprian; arise and accompany me; let all the demonic ancients marvel at you.’ Consequently, all of his princes also were attentive to me, seeing the honour shown to me. The outward appearance of the prince of darkness was like a flower. His head was crowned by a crown (not an actual, but a phantom one) made of gold and brilliant stones, as a result of which the whole space around him was illuminated; and his clothing was astonishing. When he would turn to one or the other side, that whole place would tremble; a multitude of evil spirits of various degrees stood obediently at his throne. I gave myself over entirely into his service at that time, obeying his every command”. Thus did St Cyprian relate of himself after his conversion.

    From this it is evident what kind of man Cyprian was: as a friend of the demons, he performed all their works, causing evil to people and deceiving them. Living in Antioch, he turned many people away to every kind of lawless deed; he killed many with poisons and magic, and slaughtered young men and maidens as sacrifices to the demons. He instructed many in ruinous sorcery: some he taught to fly in the air, others to sail in boats on the clouds, still others to walk on water. By all the pagans he was revered and glorified as a chief priest and most wise servant of their vile gods. Many turned to him in their needs, and he helped them by means of the demonic power with which he was filled: with some he cooperated in their adulteries, with others in anger, enmity, revenge, jealousy. Already he was entirely in the depths of hell and in the jaws of the devil; he was a son of Gehenna, a partaker of the demonic inheritance and of their eternal perdition. But the Lord, who does not desire the death of a sinner, in His unutterable goodness and His mercy which is not conquered by the sins of men, deigned to seek out this lost man, to draw out of the abyss one who was mired in the filth of the depths of hell, and to save him in order to show to all men His mercy; for there is no sin which can conquer His love of mankind.

    He saved Cyprian from perdition

    There lived at that time in Antioch a certain maiden whose name was Justina. She came from pagan parents; her father was a priest of the idols, Aedesios by name, and her mother was called Cledonia. Once, sitting at the window of her house, this maiden, who had then already reached womanhood, by chance heard the words of salvation out of the mouth of a Deacon who was passing by, whose name was Praylios. He spoke of our Lord Jesus Christ’s becoming man, that He had been born of the Most Pure Virgin, and, having performed many miracles, had deigned to suffer for the sake of our salvation, had risen from the dead with glory, ascended into the heavens, and sits at the right hand of the Father and reigns eternally. This preaching of the Deacon fell on good soil, into the heart of Justina, and began quickly to bring forth fruit, uprooting in her the thorns of unbelief. Justina wished to be instructed in the Faith by this Deacon better and more completely, but she did not dare seek him out, being restrained by a maiden’s modesty. However, she secretly went to the Church of Christ, and often hearing the Word of God, with the Holy Spirit acting in her heart, she came to believe in Christ.

    Soon she convinced her mother of this also, and then brought to the Faith her aged father as well. Seeing the understanding of his daughter and hearing her wise words, Aedesios reflected within himself thus: “The idols are made by the hands of men and have neither soul nor breath, and therefore how can they be gods?” While he was reflecting on this, once at night he saw during his sleep, by divine consent, a wondrous vision: he saw a great multitude of light-bearing Angels, and in their midst was the Saviour of the world, Christ, Who said to him, “Come to Me, and I will give you the Kingdom of Heaven”.

    After rising in the morning, Aedesios went with his wife and daughter to the Christian Bishop, whose name was Optatos, begging him to instruct them in the Faith of Christ and to perform upon them Holy Baptism. At the same time he informed him of the words of his daughter and of the Angelic vision which he had seen himself. Hearing this, the Bishop rejoiced at their conversion, and having instructed them in the Faith of Christ, he baptised aedesios, his wife Cledonia, and their Justina; and then, having given them Communion of the Holy Mysteries, he let them go in peace.

    When Aedesios had become strengthened in the Faith of Christ, the Bishop, seeing his piety, made him a Presbyter (Priest). After this, having lived virtuously and in the fear of God for a year and six months, Aedesios in holy faith came to the end of his life. As for Justina, she valiantly struggled in the keeping of the Lord’s commandments, and having come to love her Bridegroom Christ, she served Him with fervent prayers, in virginity and chastity, in fasting and great abstinence. But the enemy, the hater of the human race, seeing such a life, envied her virtues and began to do harm to her, causing various misfortunes and sorrows.

    At that time there lived in Antioch a certain youth named Aglaias, the son of wealthy and renowned parents. He lived luxuriously, giving himself entirely over to the vanity of this world. Once he saw Justina as she was going to Church, and he was struck by her beauty. The devil instilled shameful intentions into his heart. Being inflamed with lust, Aglaias by all means strove to gain the good disposition and love of Justina and by means of deception to bring the pure lamb of Christ to the defilement which he planned. He observed all the paths by which the maiden would walk, and, meeting her, would speak to her cunning words, praising her beauty and glorifying her; showing his love for her, he strove to draw her into fornication by a cunningly-woven net of deceptions. The maiden, however, turned away from him and fled from him, despising him and not desiring to hear his deceptive and cunning speeches. But the youth did not grow cool in his desire of her beauty, and he asked her to be his wife.

    She, however, replied to him, “My Bridegroom is Christ; Him I serve, and for His sake I preserve my purity. He preserves both my soul and my body from every defilement”.

    Hearing such a reply from the chaste maiden, Aglaias, being instigated by the devil, became yet more inflamed with passion. Not being able to deceive her, he intended to seize her by force. Having gathered to his aid some foolish youths like himself, he waylaid the maiden in the path along which she usually walked to Church for prayer; there he met her, and, seizing her, began dragging her by force to his house. But she began loudly to scream, beat him in the face, and spat on him. The neighbours, hearing her wails, ran out of their houses and took the immaculate lamb, St Justina, from the hands of the impious youth as from the jaws of a wolf. The disorderly youths scattered, and Aglaias returned with shame to his house. Not knowing what more to do, he decided, with the increase of impure lust in him, upon a new evil deed: he went to the great sorcerer and magician Cyprian, the priest of the idols, and having informed him of his sorrow, begged his help, promising to give him much gold and silver. Having heard out Aglaias, Cyprian comforted him, promising to fulfil his desire. “I will so manage”, he said, “that the maiden herself will seek your love and will feel passion for you even stronger than that which you have for her”.

    Having thus consoled the youth, Cyprian let him go, full of hope. Then, taking the books of his secret art, he invoked one of the impious spirits who, he was sure, could inflame the heart of Justina with passion for this youth. The demon willingly promised to fulfil this and proudly said, “This deed is not difficult for me, because many times I have shaken cities, crumbled walls, destroyed houses, caused the shedding of blood and patricide, instilled hatred and great anger between brothers and spouses, and have brought to sin many who have given a vow of virginity. In people who have settled in mountains and were accustomed to strict fasting and have never even thought about the flesh, I have instilled adulterous lust and instructed them to serve fleshly passions; people who have repented and turned away from sin, I have converted back to evil deeds; many chaste people I have thrown into fornication. Will I really be unable to incline this maiden to the love of Aglaias? Indeed, why do I speak? I will swiftly show my powers in very deed. Take this powder” (here he gave him a vessel full of something) “and give it to this youth; let him sprinkle the house of Justina with it, and you will see what I have said will come to pass”.

    Having said this, the demon vanished. Cyprian called Aglaias and sent him to sprinkle the house of Justina secretly with the contents of the demon’s vessel. When this had been done, the demon of fornication entered the house with the flaming arrows of fleshly lust in order to wound the heart of the maiden with fornication, and to ignite her flesh with impure lust.

    Justina had the custom every night to offer up prayers to the Lord. And behold, when, according to custom, she arose at the third hour of the night and was praying to God, she suddenly felt an agitation in her body, a storm of bodily lust and the flame of the fire of Gehenna. In such agitation and inward battle she remained for quite a long time; the youth Aglaias came to her mind, and shameful thoughts arose in her. The maiden marvelled and was ashamed of herself, feeling that her blood was boiling as in a kettle; now she thought about that which she had always despised as vile. But in her good sense Justina understood that this battle had arisen in her from the devil; immediately she turned to the weapon of the sign of the Cross, hastened to God with fervent prayer, and from the depths of her heart cried out to Christ her Bridegroom:

    “O Lord, my God, Jesus Christ! Behold how many enemies have risen up against me and have prepared a net in order to catch me and take away my soul. But I have remembered Thy Name in the night and have rejoiced, and now when they are close about me I hasten to Thee and have hope that mine enemy will not triumph over me. For Thou knowest, O Lord my God, that I, Thy slave, have preserved for Thee the purity of my body and have entrusted my soul to Thee. Preserve Thy sheep, O Good Shepherd; do not give it over to be eaten by the beast who seeks to devour me; grant me victory over the evil desire of my flesh”.

    Having prayed long and fervently, the holy virgin put the enemy to shame. Being conquered by her prayer, he fled from her with shame, and again there came a calm in Justina’s body and heart; the flame of desire was quenched, the battle glorified God and sang a song of victory.

    The demon, on the other hand, returned to Cyprian with the sad news that he had accomplished nothing. Cyprian asked him why he had not been able to conquer the maiden. The demon, even against his will, revealed the truth: “I could not conquer her because I saw on her a certain sign of which I was afraid”.

    Then Cyprian called a yet more malicious demon and sent him to tempt Justina. He went and did much more than the first one, falling upon the maiden with great rage. But she armed herself with fervent prayer and laid upon herself yet a more powerful labour: she clothed herself in a hair shirt and mortified her flesh with abstinence and fasting, eating only bread and water. Having thus tamed the passions of her flesh, Justina conquered the devil and banished him with shame. And he, like the first one, returned to Cyprian without accomplishing anything.

    Then Cyprian called one of the princes of the demons, informed him about the weakness of the demons he had sent, who could not conquer a single maiden, and asked help from him. This prince of demons severely reproached the other demons for their lack of skill in this matter and for their inability to arouse passion in the heart of the maiden. Having given hope to Cyprian and promised to seduce the maiden by other means, he took on the appearance of a woman and went to Justina. And he began to converse piously with her, as if desiring to follow the example of her virtuous life and her chastity. Conversing in this way, he asked the maiden what kind of reward there might be for such a strict life and for the preservation of purity.

    Justina replied that the reward for those who live in chastity is great and beyond words, and that it is very remarkable that people do not in the least concern themselves for such a great treasure as Angelic purity. Then the devil, revealing his shamelessness, began with cunning words to tempt her, saying, “But then how could the world exist? How would people be born? After all, if Eve had preserved her purity, how would the human race have increased? In truth marriage is a good thing, being established by God Himself; the Sacred Scriptures also praise it, saying, Let marriage be had in honour among all, and the bed undefiled. And many Saints of God also – did they not enter into marriage, which God gave them as a consolation, so that they might rejoice in their children and praise God?”

    Hearing these words, Justina recognised the cunning deceiver, the devil and, more skilful than Eve, conquered him. Without continuing this conversation, she immediately fled to the defence of the Cross of the Lord and placed its honourable sign on her forehead; and her heart she turned to Christ her Bridegroom. And the devil immediately vanished with yet greater shame than the first two demons.

    In great disturbance, the proud prince of the demons returned to Cyprian, who, finding out that he had not managed to do anything, said to him, “Can it be that even you, a prince powerful and more skilful than others in such matters, could not conquer the maiden? Who then among you can do anything with this unconquerable maiden’s heart? Tell me by what weapon she battles with you, and how she makes powerless your mighty power?”

    Being conquered by the power of God, the devil unwillingly acknowledged, “We cannot behold the sign of the Cross, but flee from it, because it scorches us like fire and banishes us far away”.

    Cyprian became angry at the devil because he had put him to shame, and reproaching the demon, he said, “Such is your power that even a weak virgin conquers you!”

    Then the devil, desiring to console Cyprian, attempted yet another undertaking: he took on the form of Justina and went to Aglaias with the hope that, having taken him for the real Justina, the youth might satisfy his desire, and thus neither the weakness of the demons be revealed, nor would Cyprian be put to shame. And behold, when the demon went to Aglaias in the form of Justina, the youth leaped up in unspeakable joy, ran to the false maiden, embraced her and began kissing her, saying, “How good it is that you have come to me, fair Justina!”

    But no sooner had the youth pronounced the word “Justina” than the demon immediately disappeared, being unable to bear even the name of Justina. The youth became greatly afraid and, running to Cyprian, told him what had happened. Then Cyprian by his sorcery gave him the form of a bird, and, having enabled him to fly in the air, he sent him to the house of Justina, advising him to fly into her room through the window. Being carried by a demon in the air, Aglaias flew on the roof. Seeing her, the demon left Aglaias and fled. At the same time, the phantom appearance of Aglaias, also vanished, and the youth, falling down, was all but dashed to pieces. He grasped the edge of the roof with his hands and, holding on to it, hung there; and if he had not been let down to the ground by the prayer of St Justina, the impious one would have fallen down and been killed. Thus, having achieved nothing, the youth returned to Cyprian and told him of his woe. Seeing himself put to shame, Cyprian was greatly grieved and thought himself of going to Justina, trusting in the power of his sorcery. He turned himself into a woman and into a bird, but he did not manage to reach as far as the door of the house of Justina before his false appearances disappeared, and he returned with sorrow.

    After this, Cyprian began to gain revenge for his shame, and by his sorcery he brought diverse misfortunes on the house of Justina and on the house of all her relatives, neighbours, and friends, as once the devil had done to Holy Righteous Job. He killed their animals, he struck down their slaves with plagues, and in this way he brought them to extreme grief. Finally, he struck with illness Justina herself, so that she lay in bed and her mother wept over her. Justina, however, comforted her mother with the words of the Holy Prophet-King David: “I shall not die, but live, and I shall tell of the works of the Lord”.

    Not only on Justina and her relatives, but also on the whole city, by God’s allowance, did Cyprian bring misfortune as a result of his untameable rage and his great shame. Plagues appeared in the animals and various diseases among men; and the rumour spread, through the activity of the demons, that the great sorcerer Cyprian was punishing the city for Justina’s opposition to him. Then the most honourable citizens went to Justina and with anger tried to persuade her not to grieve Cyprian any longer, and to become the wife of Aglaias, in order to escape yet greater misfortunes for the whole city because of her. But she calmed them by saying that soon all the misfortunes which had been brought about with the help of Cyprian’s demons would cease. And so it happened. When St Justina prayed fervently to God, immediately all the demonic attacks ceased; all were healed from the plagues and recovered from their diseases. When such a change occurred, the people glorified Christ and mocked Cyprian and his sorcerer’s cunning, so that from shame he could not show himself among men and he avoided meeting even friends.

    Having become convinced that nothing could conquer the power of the sign of the Cross and the Name of Christ, Cyprian came to his senses and said to the devil, “O destroyer and deceiver of all, source of every impurity and defilement! Now I have discovered your infirmity. For if you feel even the shadow of the Cross and tremble at the Name of Christ, then what will you do when Christ Himself comes to you? If you cannot conquer those who sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, then whom will you tear away from the hands of Christ? How I have understood what a non-entity you are; you are not even able to take revenge! Listening to you, I, a wretched one, have been deceived, and I believed your tricks. Depart from me, accursed one, depart! For I must entreat the Christians that they might have mercy on me. I must appeal to pious people, that they might deliver me from perdition and be concerned over my salvation. Depart, depart from me, lawless one, enemy of truth, adversary and hater of every good thing!”

    Having heard this, the devil threw himself on Cyprian in order to kill him; attacking him, he began to beat and strangle him. Finding no defence anywhere, and not knowing how to help himself and be delivered from the fierce hands of the demon, Cyprian, already scarcely alive, remembered the sign of the Cross, by the power of which Justina had opposed all the demons’ power, and he cried out: “O God of Justina, help me!”

    Then, raising his hand, he made the sign of the Cross, and the devil immediately leaped away from him like an arrow shot from a bow. Gaining courage, Cyprian became bolder, and calling on the Name of Christ, he signed himself with the sign of the Cross and stubbornly opposed the demon, cursing and reproaching him. As for the devil, standing far away from him and not daring to draw near to him out of fear of the sign of the Cross and the Name of Christ, he threatened Cyprian in every manner, saying, “Christ will not deliver you out of my hands!” Then, after long and fierce attacks on Cyprian, the demon roared like a lion and went away.

    Cyprian then took all his books of magic and went to the Christian Bishop Anthimos. Falling to the feet of the Bishop, he entreated him to have mercy on him and to give him Holy Baptism. Knowing that Cyprian was a great sorcerer, feared by all, the Bishop thought that he had come to him with some kind of trick, and therefore he refused him, saying, “You do much evil among the pagans; leave the Christians in peace, lest you speedily perish”. Then Cyprian with tears confessed everything to the Bishop and gave him his books to be burned. Seeing his humility, the Bishop instructed him and taught him the Holy Faith, and then commanded him to prepare for Baptism; and his books he burned before all the believing citizens.

    Leaving the Bishop with a contrite heart, Cyprian wept over his sins, sprinkled ashes on his head, and sincerely repented, calling out to the True God for the cleansing of his iniquities. Coming the next day to Church, he heard the Word of God with joyful emotion, standing among the believers. And when the Deacon commanded the catechumens to go out, declaring, “Ye catechumens depart”, and certain ones were already going out, Cyprian did not wish to go out, saying to the Deacon, “I am a slave of Christ; do not chase me out of here”. But the Deacon said to him, “Since you have not yet been given Holy Baptism, you must go out of the Church”.

    To this Cyprian replied, “As Christ my God liveth, Who has delivered me from the devil, Who has preserved the maiden Justina pure, and has had mercy on me – you will not chase me out of Church until I have become a complete Christian”.

    The Deacon related this to the Bishop, and the Bishop, seeing the fervour of Cyprian and his devotion to the Faith of Christ, called him up and immediately baptised him in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

    Finding out about this, St Justina gave thanks to God, distributed much alms to the poor, and made an offering in Church. And Cyprian, on the eighth day after his Baptism, was made a Reader by the Bishop; on the twentieth day he was made Subdeacon, and on the thirtieth day a Deacon; and in a year he was ordained Priest. Cyprian completely changed his life; with every day he increased his struggles, and constantly weeping over his previous evil deeds, he perfected himself and ascended from virtue to virtue. Soon he was made Bishop, and in this rank he led such a holy life that he equalled many great Saints. At the same time he zealously took care of the flock of Christ which had been entrusted to him. St Justina the maiden he made a Deaconess, and then entrusted to her a convent, making her Abbess over other Christian maidens. By his conduct and instruction he converted many pagans and acquired them for the Church of Christ. Thus, idol worship began to die out in that land, and the glory of Christ increased.

    Seeing the strict life of St Cyprian, his concern for the Faith of Christ, and for the salvation of human souls, the devil ground his teeth against him and inspired the pagans to slander him before the governor of the eastern region, saying that he had put the gods to shame, had converted many people away from them, and was glorifying Christ, Who was hostile to their gods. And so, many impious ones came to the governor Eutolmios, who was then governing those regions, and made slanders against Cyprian and Justina, accusing them of being hostile to their gods and to the emperor and to all authorities, saying that they were disturbing the people, deceiving them, and leading them in their footsteps, disposing them to worship the crucified Christ. At the same time they asked the governor to give Cyprian and Justina over to death for this. Having heard their request, Eutolmios commanded that Cyprian and Justina be seized and placed in prison. Then, setting out for Damascus, he took them with him in order to make judgment upon them.

    When they had brought the prisoners of Christ, Cyprian and Justina, to him, he asked Cyprian, “Why have you changed your earlier glorious way of life, when you were a renowned servant of the gods and brought many people to them?”

    St Cyprian related to the governor how he had found out the infirmity and the deception of the demons and come to understand the power of Christ, which the demons feared and before which they trembled, disappearing from before the sign of the precious Cross; and likewise he explained the reason for his conversion to Christ, for Whom he declared his readiness to die. The torturer did not accept the words of Cyprian in his heart but being unable to reply to them, he commanded that the Saint be hung up and his body scraped, and that St Justina be beaten on the mouth and eyes. For the whole time of the long torments they ceaselessly confessed Christ and endured everything with thanksgiving. Then the torturer imprisoned them and strove by kind exhortations to return them to idol worship. When he was unable to convince them, he commanded that they be thrown into a cauldron; but the boiling cauldron did not cause them any harm, and they glorified God as if they were in some cool place. Seeing this, one priest of the idols, by name Athanasios, said, “In the name of the god Aesculapios, I also will throw myself into this fire and put to shame those sorcerers”. But hardly had the fire touched him than he immediately died.

    Seeing this, the torturer became frightened, and not desiring to judge them further, he sent the Martyrs to the governor Claudios in Nicomedia, describing all that had happened to them. This governor condemned them to be beheaded with the sword. When they were brought to the place of execution, Cyprian asked for a little time for prayer, so that Justina might be executed first; he feared that Justina would become frightened at the sight of his death. But she joyfully bent her head under the sword and departed unto her Bridegroom Christ. Seeing the innocent death of these Martyrs, a certain Theoktistos, who was present there, greatly pitied them, and, being inflamed in his heart toward God, he fell down to St Cyprian and, kissing him, declared himself a Christian. Together with Cyprian he also was immediately condemned to be beheaded.

    Thus they gave over their souls into the hands of God; their bodies, however, lay for six days unburied. Certain of the strangers who were there secretly took them and brought them to Rome, where they gave them to a certain virtuous and holy woman whose name was Rufina, a relative of Claudius Caesar. She buried with honour the bodies of the Holy Martyrs of Christ: Cyprian, Justina, and Theoktistos (c. 300 AD). At their graves many healings occurred for those who came to them with faith.

    By the prayers of the Holy Martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoktistos, may the Lord Jesus Christ heal also our afflictions of body and soul. Amen.

    Troparion to Sts Cyprian and Justina (Fourth Tone)

    You have purified yourself by the ways of repentance, and with the streams of your blood, you have drowned the enemy; and now you reside with the Holy Justina in the mansions of Paradise. O Hierarch Cyprian, ever guard your monastery from the wiles of the enemy.

    Kontakion (First Tone)

    When you, O godly-minded one, had been converted from magic art to knowledge of God, you became a most skilful healer for the whole world, O wise Cyprian, granting cures to them that honour you with Justina; with her, pray the man-befriending Master to save us, your servants who sing you praise.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Athenian Martyrs Eleutherios and Roustikos
    Theophilos the Confessor


  • Dionysios the Areopagite
    John the Chozebite, Bishop of Caesaria
    All day

    This Saint was from Athens, a learned man, and a member of the famous judicial court of Mars Hill (in Greek Aeros Pagos, hence the name Areopagite (see Acts 17:19-34). When Saint Paul preached in Athens, he was one of the first there to believe in Christ, and, according to some, became the first bishop of that city. Others say — and this may be more probable–that he was the second Bishop of Athens, after Saint Hierotheus, whom Dionysios calls his friend and teacher “after Paul” (On the Divine Names, 3:2). With Saint Hierotheus he was also present at the Dormition of the most holy Theotokos; the Doxasticon of the Aposticha for the service of the Dormition is partly taken from a passage in Chapter III of On the Divine Names. According to ancient tradition, he received a martyr’s end (according to some, in Athens itself) about the year 96.

    Apolytikion of Dionysios the Areopagite in the Fourth Tone

    Since thou hadst been instructed in uprightness thoroughly and wast vigilant in all things, thou wast clothed with a good conscience as befitteth one holy. Thou didst draw from the Chosen Vessel ineffable mysteries; and having kept the Faith, thou didst finish a like course, O Hieromartyr Dionysios. Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

    Kontakion of Dionysios the Areopagite in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    In spirit, thou dist pass through Heaven’s gates, instructed by the great Apostle who attained to the third Heaven’s heights, and wast made rich in all knowledge of things beyond speech; and then thou, O Dionysios, didst illuminate them that slumbered in the darkness of their ignorance. Hence we all cry out: Rejoice, O universal Father.

  • Hierotheos of Athens
    All day

    According to some, Hierotheos, like Saint Dionysius, was a member of the court of Mars Hill. Having first been instructed in the faith of Christ by Apostle Paul, he became Bishop of Athens. He, in turn, initiated the divine Dionysios more perfectly into the mysteries of Christ; the latter, on his part, elaborated more clearly and distinctly Hierotheos’ concise and summary teachings concerning the Christian faith. He too was brought miraculously by the power of the Holy Spirit to be present at the Dormition of the Theotokos, when, together with the sacred Apostles, he became a leader of the divine hymnody. “He was wholly transported, wholly outside himself and was so deeply absorbed in communion with the sacred things he celebrated in hymnology, that to all who heard him and saw him and knew him, and yet knew him not, he seemed to be inspired of God, a divine hymnographer”, as Dionysios records in his book, “On the Divine Names. Having lived in a manner pleasing to God, he reposed in the Lord”. St Hierotheos died a martyr’s death in the first century.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    Since you have been instructed in uprightness thoroughly and was vigilant in all things, you were clothed with a good conscience as befitting one holy. You draw from the Chosen Vessel ineffable mysteries; and having kept the Faith, you finished a like course, O Hieromartyr Hierotheos. Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

    Kontakion (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

    As Athens’ Hierarch, we acclaim you, since through you we have received instruction in things awesome and ineffable; for you were a God-inspired writer of divine hymns. O Hierotheos all-blessed, pray to God so that we may be redeemed from all calamities, that thus we may cry, “Rejoice, O Father wise in things divine”.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Domnina the Martyr and her daughters
    John the Hermit


  • Martys Charitina and Mameltha
    Methodia of Kimolos
    All day

    St Charitina of Rome was orphaned in childhood and raised like a daughter by the pious Christian Claudios. Charitina was a pretty and young woman who was very sensible, kind and fervent in faith. She imparted to other people her love for Christ, and she converted many to the way of salvation. She contested for Christ during the reign of Diocletian, during 290 AD. She was betrayed as a Christian to Dometian, the Count, before whom she fearlessly confessed Christ. After suffering the most terrible tortures, including the uprooting of her teeth and nails, she gave up her soul into the hands of the Lord during 304 AD.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    O Lord Jesus, to You Your lamb cries with a great voice, “O my Bridegroom, I love You; and seeking You, I now contest, and with Your baptism am crucified and buried. I suffer for Your sake, that I may reign with You; for Your sake I die, that I may live in You; accept me offered out of longing to You as a spotless sacrifice”. Lord, save our souls through her intercessions, since You are great in mercy.

    Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

    Reddened with martyric blood, you were arrayed in Heaven’s beauty splendidly, when you overcame the foe, O Charitina, and you cried out, “You are the joy of the Martyrs, O Christ our God”.

  • Thomas the Apostle
    Newmartyr Makarios
    Martyr Eroteis of Cappadocia
    All day

    St Thomas (1st Century), called Didymus, is remembered as the apostle who refused to believe in the Resurrection unless he actually touched the wounds of the risen Christ (John 20:25-28). There is much uncertainty about his missionary work after Pentecost. The generally accepted tradition placed it in India, where the Syrian Christians of Malabar claim that they were evangelised by St Thomas. He was martyred, by spearing, on the ”Big Hill”, about 14 km from Madras; and was buried at Mylapore, now a suburb of Madras, in 72 AD. An ancient cross of stone marks the place where his body rested before its translation to Edessa in 394. His relics were later taken to the island Chios in the Aegean Sea and from there to Ortona in the Abruzzi.

    Dismissal Hymn (Third Tone)

    O Holy Apostle Thomas, intercede with the merciful God that He grant to our souls forgiveness of offences.

    Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

    Christ”s Apostle, who was filled with God”s divine grace, he who was His genuine and faithful servant in all truth, all-lauded Thomas exclaimed aloud in deep repentance; You are both my God and Lord.

  • Pelagia of Antioch
    All day

    Pelagia the Righteous of Antioch

    This Saint was a prominent actress of the city of Antioch, and a pagan, who lived a life of unrestrained prodigality and led many to perdition. Instructed and baptized by a certain bishop named Nonnus (Saint Nonnus is commemorated Nov. 10), she departed for the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem, where she lived as a recluse, feigning to be a eunuch called Pelagia. She lived in such holiness and repentance that within three or four years she was deemed worthy to repose in an odour of sanctity, in the middle of the fifth century. Her tomb on the Mount of Olives has been a place of pilgrimage ever since.

    Apolytikion of Righteous Pelagia in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    The image of God, was faithfully preserved in you, O Mother. For you took up the Cross and followed Christ. By Your actions you taught us to look beyond the flesh for it passes, rather to be concerned about the soul which is immortal. Wherefore, O Holy Pelagia, your soul rejoices with the angels.

    Kontakion of Righteous Pelagia in the Second Tone

    With fasting didst thou consume thy body utterly; with vigilant prayer didst thou entreat thy Fashioner that complete forgiveness of thy former deeds be granted thee, which, O Mother, thou didst receive. The path of repentance hast thou shown to us.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Taisia the Harlot of Egypt
    Phillip, Bishop of Gortyna

  • Apostle James
    All day

    James the Apostle, son of Alphaeus

    The holy Apostle James was one of the Twelve, and preached Christ to many nations, and finally suffered death by crucifixion.

    Dismissal Hymn (Third Tone)

    O Holy Apostle James, intercede with the merciful God that He grant to our souls forgiveness of offences.

    Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

    The wondrous fisherman that caught in the nations, James, the most venerable of Jesus’ disciples, and the companion of the Apostolic choir, dispenses a great wealth of healing to the world, freeing those who rightly acclaim him from adversities. Therefore, we cry to him with one accord: O blest Apostle, save all of us by your prayers.


    Andronicus & his Wife Athanasia of Egypt

    Saints Andronicus and Athanasia were from Antioch, and finished their lives in asceticism about the year 500.

    Apolytikion of Andronicus and Athanasia in the Plagal of the First Tone

    Ye adorned your divinely-wrought robe of chastity with the sublime varied colours of sacred virtues in God, when with one accord ye strove in the ascetic life. Wherefore, your silence on the earth was received equally with the thrice-holy hymn in heaven; O wise Andronicus, pray God, with Athanasia, that we all be saved.

    Kontakion of Andronicus and Athanasia in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    Let us the faithful crown with laurels of befitting hymns the wise Andronicus, who lived in blameless righteousness, with the godly Athanasia, his spouse in Christ God; who have shown the type of lawful wedlock to the world and became divine examples of monastic life. Let us cry to them: Rejoice, O yoke-mates in holiness.


    The Righteous Patriarch Abraham and his Nephew Lot

    The holy Patriarch Abraham, born a pagan, ten generations after Noah, when the knowledge of God had perished from among men, became the beginning of God’s dispensation for the universal renewal and salvation of man. He was called out of his country–the land of the Chaldees, that is, Mesopotamia–to the land of Canaan, and received the promise that through his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed; through his singular faith in the promises of God, he was justified before the giving of the Law and the coming of Grace; through his willingness to sacrifice Isaac, he portrayed the love wherewith God loved the world in sacrificing His only-begotten Son. The greatness of Abraham, and the trials that he and his righteous nephew Lot underwent, are set forth in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament, chapters twelve through twenty-five. See also the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers, December 11-17.

    Apolytikion of Abraham and Lot in the Plagal of the First Tone

    In the night universal of ignorance towards God, and in that starless, profound gloom bereft of heavenly light, thou, O Abraham, wast kindled in the firmament, burning with bright far-shining faith in the Everlasting Light, Who shone forth to us from thy seed. Do thou entreat Him with fervour, that He enlighten us and save our souls.

    Kontakion of Abraham and Lot in the Second Tone

    The servant wast thou, a mortal fashioned from the earth; thy master was God, creation’s Lord and Fashioner; yet, well-pleased to glorify thy celestial greatness, the Lord of all called Himself the God of Abraham. Procure for us mercies from thy merciful Lord.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Poplia the Confessor of Antioch

  • Martyrs Eulampios & Eulampia
    All day

    Eulampius & Eulampia the Martyrs

    The Martyrs Eulampius and Eulampia were from Nicomedia, and contested for Christ during the reign of Maximian, in the year 296.

    Apolytikion of Martyrs Eulampius & Eulampia in the Fourth Tone

    Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

    Kontakion of Martyrs Eulampius & Eulampia in the Third Tone

    To the wise Eulampius and brave Eulampia with him, to those siblings in the flesh and Martyrs valiant in courage, we now offer praise and honour, for with the power of Him that dies on the Cross, they have shamed and vanquished all the tyrants’ schemes; for they are the Martyrs’ glory and their rejoicing and boast.


    The 14 Holy Elders of Optina Monastery

    On this day we also celebrate the Synaxis of the Righteous Fathers of Optina Hermitage in Russia, who struggled valiantly in the monastic life in prayer, humility, obedience, and love, and whom God deemed worthy of the lofty gifts of discernment, prophecy, clairvoyance, and eldership, that is, the grace to guide souls on the unerring path of salvation. They are Leo (who reposed in 1841), Macarius (1860), Moses (1862), Anthony (1865), Hilarion (1873), Ambrose (1891), Anatolius (1894), Isaacius (1894), Joseph (1911), Barsanuphius (1913), Anatolius (1922), Nectarius (1928), Nicon (1931), and Isaacius (1936).

    Apolytikion of 14 Elders of Optina Monastery in the Plagal of the First Tone

    For your greatness in prayer and humility and love, for your ascetical firmness and Orthodoxy of faith, God hath given His exceeding wondrous gifts to you as unto prophets of His will, as to angels on the earth, and stewards of men’s salvation. Wherefore enlighten us also, O universal lights of Optina.

    Kontakion of 14 Elders of Optina Monastery in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    To Leo, Moses, Anatolius, and Anthony; to Barsanuphius, Macarius, Hilarion: to Isaacius and Nicon, the righteous Martyrs; to Nectarius and Joseph and Isaacius, Anatolius, and Ambrose, who outshineth all, let us cry with joy: Rejoice, O Elders of Optina.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Our Righteous Father Theophilus the Confessor
    The 200 Monk-martyrs of Nicomedia
    Vassianos the Righteous of Constantinople
    Pinytos, Bishop of Knossos

  • The 7th Ecumenical Council
    All day

    The Seventh Ecumenical Council

    “As the Prophets prophesized, as the Apostles taught, as the Church has received, as the teachers have dogmatized, as the Universe has agreed….Let us declare, let us assert, let us preach in like manner Christ our true God, and honour His saints in words, in writing…. in Holy Icons, worshipping Him as God and Lord and honouring them as His true servants….This is the faith of the Apostles, this is the faith of the Fathers, this is the faith of the Orthodox, this is the faith that sustains the Christian oikoumene….”

    In the Orthodox Christian tradition the great feast marking the triumph of the icons is celebrated on the first Sunday of Great Lent and is also known as the Triumph of Orthodoxy. It was on this day, that is, on 11 March 843, the first Sunday in Lent, that the reinstatement of icons was proclaimed in the cathedral of St. Sophia. Not only were all ancient heresies of the first common Christian millennium anathematised, but also the legitimacy of icons was affirmed. For this reason, entering the Lenten period, it would be timely to reflect upon the true meaning of icons in our Tradition.

    The heart of the Christian Gospel is that the infinite and invisible God, who is also uncontained and uncircumscribed – to name only a few of God”s attributes – became visible and containable in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. Insisting on the central Scriptural truth that in the person of the incarnate Logos, the created world has had a vision of the invisible God, icons are nothing less than an affirmation that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” in reality, and that we “have seen his glory… full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). Moreover, following St Paul, who in his second letter to the Corinthians, referred to Jesus Christ as the ”image” or ”icon [eikon]” of God (cf 2Cor 4:4) , the Christian tradition claims that in the humanity of Jesus, the faithful have been granted a vision of God himself – since Christ was the express image of God. Now, since Christ – who was not only the eternal Son of God the Father, but also ”true God from true God” – lived on earth as a real human person with a real body and soul, and was seen by people (cf 1Jn 1:1), he could now be depicted. Therefore, seen from the reality of the incarnation, the use of icons, in the Christian tradtion, is believed to affirm that God really became human, took on human flesh and therefore could be portrayed and circumscribed. Furthermore, as we shall see, icons were also concerned with the attitude of the church towards matter and therefore the salvation of all things created, particularly the human person.

    The theology and meaning of icons was eventually clarified in the eighth century when a tumultuous dispute arose in the church over the use of icons in worship. Known as the ”iconoclastic” controversy – since the word in Greek signifies, ”the smashing of icons” – this violent and heated quarrel gave rise to a council in 787AD, which came to be known as the Seventh Ecumenical Council, taking place in Nicaea. It was this council which came to shed light on the true meaning of icons outlining not only their legitimacy but also the propriety of venerating them. Simply put, the council claimed that, to deny icons inevitably meant a renunciation of the incarnation of the eternal Son of God – reducing this salvific event to a mere fictitious occurrence – thereby also bringing into question the salvation of the human person. One section of the doctrinal statement of the Council in Nicaea read as follows: We declare that we defend free from any innovations all the written and unwritten ecclesiastical traditions that have been entrusted to us. One of these is the production of representational art; this is quite in harmony with the history of the spread of the gospel, as it provides confirmation that the becoming man of the Word of God was real and not just imaginary, and as such it brings us a similar benefit.

    From this passage it is clear that the existence of icons was deeply connected with a concern to preserve a full and proper doctrine of the incarnation upon which the salvation of the human person rested. Furthermore, it was believed that icons were nothing other than graphic expressions of the truth expressed in the Scriptures – the ”Word” in images. Just as the written words of the Scriptures brought the faithful into an immediate encounter with the very Word of God, so too could icons, as graphic images, do the same. Consequently, it becomes clear that the salvific contents of faith could in fact be proclaimed not only in words but also in images. Overall, the doctrinal statement of the council became a triumphant confession of the church”s faith that God had become human so that humanity could enjoy, by grace, all that God is by nature.

    The icon was also seen as ”theological language in colour” highlighting the sacredness of created matter. Following the incarnation of the Son of God, which not only restored human nature, but radically regenerated it by offering a most intimate and personal koinonia with humanity and the material world at large, the entire created cosmos could now be transfigured and saved. Far from any type of dualism, which would want to affirm only the eternal veracity of spiritual realities at the expense of the material, Christianity afforded a place of salvation to God”s entire created world, spiritual as well as material. For this reason, no material element was to be excluded from the plan of God”s redemption. In this way, all material elements – in the case of icons, colour, pigment, wood etc – could act as windows giving the faithful glimpses of eternity – namely, an anticipatory in-sight of the world as it would be in the age to come. In a very instructive way, St John of Damascus, whose writings were afforded doctrinal status in the Seventh Ecumenical Council wrote: I worship the Creator of matter who became matter for my sake; who willed to take His abode in matter; who worked out my salvation through matter… Never will I cease honouring the matter through which my salvation was wrought.

    This was nothing other than a confirmation of the words of St Paul who in his letter to the Romans wrote: “ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made” (Rom 1:20). Accordingly the icon was seen as a joyful testimony of the innate goodness of the material world (cf Gen 1:1-28) and its potential capacity to reflect the divine. And it was for this reason that icons were seen as fitting recipients of Christian respect and veneration insofar as they could lead the faithful into the presence of the divine.

    Now, as windows on eternity , icons are theological ”symbols” not only pointing forward towards future or transcendent realities, but actually directly participating in these as well. That icons serve as windows into eternity is seen from their inverse perspective – namely the elongated facial features and hands, the small mouth or the feather-like sketches of the body, the lines of which approach the viewer– which want to depict a radically transfigured world as it will ultimately be in the kingdom of heaven. Accordingly, icons act as witnesses to God”s pledge of future victory when his joy and salvation will pervade the entire created cosmos. Furthermore, by the use of inverse perspective, the person”s gaze is drawn into the icon establishing, in this way, a direct encounter and a bond of communion with those eternal verities. The council of 787AD claimed that persons and events depicted in icons were mysteriously present and active in the icons, by which a faithful person could consequently really experience the impenetrable glory of, and fellowship with, Christ, together with the communion of saints. Interestingly, the Council fathers could speak in such terms, because they believed that God had really revealed Himself in human history, and totally identified with the human experience. However they also underlined that even though God had become manifest ”in the flesh” in history – thereby justifying the use of icons by the church – the fulfilment of that experience would be complete in the end time when God will be all in all.

    For this reason, it has always underlined that absolute worship and adoration (latreia) can only ever be directed to God alone, whilst reverence and veneration (proskynesis) can be paid to icons. And so, it must be remembered that whilst it is true to affirm that icons open for us a boundless vision of the world as it was before the Fall and as it will be in its eschatological consummation, this is nonetheless a ”real-yet-partial” experience awaiting its fulfilment in the age to come. Making such a distinction, St Theodore the Studite in the ninth century wrote: “We say that Christ is one thing and His image is another thing by nature, although they have an identity in the use of the same name.” It was for this reason that the council also unequivocally affirmed that the honour given to the icon passed over to the prototype. That is to say, a radical difference was acknowledged between what the icon reveals and the One who will be fully revealed in the age to come offering the entire world an eternal koinonia in his communal mode of eternal existence. What can be said with certainty however, is that in a profoundly mysterious way, icons take the gaze of those viewing an icon into the ”beyond” offering them in this way a foretaste of the sweet hope and eternal brightness of the fullness of a life in God and the eternal contemplation to come of his glory in his eschatological kingdom.


    Philip the Apostle of the 70, one of the 7 Deacons

    Saint Philip, who had four daughters that prophesied, was from Caesarea of Palestine. He preached throughout Samaria; it was he also who met the eunuch of Candace, the Queen of the Ethiopians, as the eunuch was reading the Prophet Esaias, and he instructed and baptized him (Acts 8:26-39). He reposed in Tralles of Asia Minor while preaching the Gospel.

    Apolytikion of Philip of the 7 Deacons in the Third Tone

    O Holy Apostle Philip, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.

    Kontakion of Philip of the 7 Deacons in the Fourth Tone

    Since thou wast enlightened by the Holy Spirit, thou enlightenest the earth and all its fullness with the beams of thy wise teachings and miracles, Apostle Philip, thou sacred initiate.


    Theophanes the Confessor, Bishop of Nicaea

    Saint Theophanes, the brother of Saint Theodore the Branded, was a Palestinian by race. Both were monks at the Monastery of Saint Sabbas. They were called “the Branded” because Theophilus, the last of the Iconoclast emperors, had twelve iambic verses branded by hot irons on their foreheads and then sent them into exile, where Theodore died in the year 838. After the death of Theophilus in 842, Theophanes was elected Bishop of Nicaea. Both brothers composed many canons and hymns, thereby adorning the services of the Church.

    Apolytikion of Theophanes the Confessor in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    You are a guide of Orthodoxy, a teacher of piety and modesty, a luminary of the world, the God inspired pride of monastics. O wise Theophanes, you have enlightened everyone by your teachings. You are the harp of the Spirit. Intercede to Christ our God for the salvation of our souls.

    Kontakion of Theophanes the Confessor in the Fourth Tone

    To the Church thou hast appeared like a new daystar, for thou dost enlighten her with all thy doctrines’ brilliant beams, O righteous Father Theophanes, since thou indeed art a true priest of Christ our God.


    Also celebrated today are:

    Nectarius, Arsacuis and Sisinius, Patriarchs of Constantinople
    Holy Martyrs Zenais and Philonilla
    Ethelburga, Abbess of Barking Kenneth

  • Martyr Probus & Companions
    Symeon the New Theologian
    All day

    Probus, Andronicus, & Tarachus, Martyrs of Tarsus

    Holy Martyrs Provos, Tarachos, and Andronicus contested for Christ during the reign of Diocletian, in the year 296 or 304 AD. Tarachos was advanced in years, of Roman birth, and had been a soldier; Provos was from Side in Pamphylia, and Andronicus from Ephesus. They were taken together in Cilicia and subjected to manifold exceedingly cruel tenures. Taracos was beaten on his cheeks and neck with stones, his hands were burned, he was hanged on a post and smoke was put underneath him to choke him; vinegar was forced down his nostrils; after enduring further tortures, he was carved to pieces. Provos was thrashed with whips, his feet were burned with red hot irons, his back and sides were pierced with heated spits; finally he also was cut up with knives, and received the crown of martyrdom. Andronicus suffered similar tortures, and finished his course being cut to pieces, commending his soul into the hands of God.

    Dismissal Hymn (Plagal of Third Tone)

    The heavenly powers were amazed at the triumph of the holy martyrs Provos, Tarachos, and Andronicus. For having fought the good fight with their mortal bodies, they conquered bodiless enemies by the power of the Cross. Now they intercede with the Lord that He may save our souls.

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    The brave warriors of Christ, those Martyrs noble and divine, have shown to us the glory of the Trinity. For brave Provos, Tarachos and Andronicus have convicted all of the tyrants’ ungodliness, for they have contested nobly for the Faith.


    Symeon the New Theologian

    St_Symeon_The_New_Theologian2Saint Symeon became a monk of the Studite Monastery as a young man, under the guidance of the elder Symeon the Pious. Afterwards he struggled at the Monastery of Saint Mamas in Constantinople, of which he became abbot. After enduring many trials and afflictions in his life of piety, he reposed in 1022. Marvelling at the heights of prayer and holiness to which he attained, and the loftiness of the teachings of his life and writings, the church calls him “the New Theologian.” Only to two others, John the Evangelist and Gregory, Patriarch of Constantinople, has the church given the name “Theologian.” Saint Symeon reposed on March 12, but since this always falls in the Great Fast, his feast is kept today.

    Apolytikion of Simeon the New Theologian in the Third Tone

    Since thou hadst received within thy pure soul God’s enlightenment, O righteous Father, thou wast shown to the world as a blazing light which drave away its thick darkness and moved all men to seek the grace of the Spirit which they had lost. O all-holy Father Symeon, intercede with Him to grant great mercy unto us who honour thee.

    Kontakion of Simeon the New Theologian in the Third Tone

    Shining with the Three-Sun Light, thou wast a true theologian of the Holy Trinity, the Lord divinely-transcendent; from on high, thou wast made rich with wisdom of discourse and didst pour forth the divine streams of godly wisdom; whereof having drunk, we cry out: Rejoice, thrice-blessed Symeon, taught from above.


    Also Celebrating Today:

    • Martin the Merciful, Bishop of Tours
    • Domnina the Martyr
    • Wilfrid of York
  • Martyrs Carpos, Papylos, Agathodoros, and Agathoniki of Pergamus
    All day

    St Carpos was Bishop of the Church of Thyatira in Asia Minor and Papylos was his Deacon, whom he had ordained. Seized as Christians and tormented in Thyatira, they were taken to Sardis, whither Agathadoros, their servant, followed them, and also confessed Christ, and was tormented with them. Together with Agathonicki, the sister of St Papylos, they were all beheaded during the reign of Decius, in the year 250 AD.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    Your Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for You received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from You, our immortal God. For since they possessed Your strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ powerless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since You are merciful.

    Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

    To those on earth our Sovereign Master has granted your sacred relics as a most precious treasure and as a fountain pouring forth great streams of cures. For they purge away the ills of the manifold passions and bestow upon our souls grace divine without ceasing. Therefore with one accord we keep your feast with fervent longing, O Carpos, Paphylos, Agathodoro, and Agathoniki.


    Also Celebrated Today:

    • Benjamin the Deacon
    • Chryssi the New Martyr of Greece
    • Florentios the Martyr of Thessaloniki
    • Meletios of Pegas, Patriarch of Alexandria
  • Nazarios, Gervasios, Protasios, & Celsius of Milan
    All day

    Nazarius, Gervasius, Protasius, & Celsus of Milan

    The holy Martyrs all contested for piety’s sake in Milan; after the passage of much time their holy relics were discovered and given honourable burial by Saint Ambrose.

    Apolytikion of Martyrs Nazarius, Gervasius, Protasius, & Celsus in the Fourth Tone

    Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

    Kontakion of Martyrs Nazarius, Gervasius, Protasius, & Celsus in the Second Tone

    In shedding the light of miracles like shining lamps, O Martyrs of God, ye make the whole creation bright, at all times dispelling the deepest night of sickness and maladies and without cease pleading with Christ, the only God, that He grant His mercy to us.


    Cosmas the Hagiopolite

    cosmashymnographerSaint Cosmas was from the Holy City, Jerusalem, and was a contemporary and peer of Saint John of Damascus (Dec. 4), with whom also he was reared when, because of his orphanhood he was adopted by Sergius, Saint John’s father, and with whom he had the same instructor. About the year 743, he was elected Bishop of Maiuma, a coastal city of Palestine, aforetime under the jurisdiction of Gaza, with the name Port Gaza. During the reign of Saint Constantine the Great, it became a separate township and at that time was renamed Constantia, after Constantine, the son of the Emperor (see Sozomen, Eccl. Hist., V:3). Cosmas became an excellent hymnographer, from whence he is called “the Composer and Melodist,” Among his many compositions are the Canon of the Cross (Sept. 14) and the Canon for the Nativity of Christ, “Christ is born, give ye glory.”

    Apolytikion of Cosmas the Hagiopolite in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    You are a guide of Orthodoxy, a teacher of piety and modesty, a luminary of the world, the God inspired pride of monastics. O wise Cosmas , you have enlightened everyone by your teachings. You are the harp of the Spirit. Intercede to Christ our God for the salvation of our souls.

    Kontakion of Cosmas the Hagiopolite in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    Adorned with virtues, O blest Cosmas, and inspired of God, thou didst become a fair adornment of the Church of Christ, and with sacred songs, O Father, didst thou adorn her. Intercede thou with the Lord that He deliver us out of all the devices of the enemy, for we cry to thee: Rejoice, O thrice-blessed Father.


    Righteous Paraskeve of Serbia

    Saint Paraskeve was born in Thrace in the eleventh century. In her youth she went to Constaninople, and thence journeyed to the Holy Land in pursuit of the ascetical life. After struggling for many years in the wilderness of the Jordan, she was moved by God to return to her homeland. She continued her monastic labours there for a few more years, and then reposed in peace.

    Apolytikion of Paraskeve of Serbia in the Fourth Tone

    Thou didst love a silent and solitary life, and didst fervently follow Christ thy Bridegroom. And having taken His easy yoke in thy youth, and having courageously armed thyself with the sign of the Cross against thy spiritual enemies, thou didst extinguish the coals of passions with thy tears, with ascetic labours, fasting, and prayer, O glorious Paraskeve. And now, as thou standest in the heavenly bridal chamber with the wise virgins in the presence of Christ, pray for us who venerate thine honourable memory.

    Kontakion of Paraskeve of Serbia in the Plagal of the Second Tone

    Let us all piously praise most honourable Paraskeve, the holy intercessor for those in affliction. For she gave up her earthly life and received an incorruptible life for ever. Wherefore, she hath won glory and the grace of wonderworking by the command of God.


    Also Celebrating Today:

    • Praised Ignatius, Archbishop of Methymna
    • Justinian the Emperor and his wife Theodora
    • Panteleimon the New Martyr of Asia Minor