Lives of all saints commemorated on February 15


Apostle Onesimus of the Seventy

Saint Onesimus, Apostle of the Seventy in his youth was a servant of Philemon, a Christian of distinguished lineage, living in the city of Colossae, Phrygia. Guilty of an offense against his master and fearing punishment, St Onesimus fled to Rome, but as a runaway slave he wound up in prison. In prison he encountered the Apostle Paul, was enlightened by him, and was baptized.

In prison St Onesimus served the Apostle Paul like a son. St Paul was personally acquainted with Philemon, and wrote him a letter filled with love, asking him to forgive the runaway slave and to accept him like a brother. He sent St Onesimus with this letter to his master, depriving himself of help, of which he was very much in need.

After he received the letter, St Philemon not only forgave Onesimus, but also sent him back to Rome to the apostle. St Philemon was afterwards consecrated bishop of the city of Gaza (January 4, February 19, and November 22).

After the death of the Apostle Paul, St Onesimus served the apostles until their end, and he was made a bishop. After the death of the holy apostles he preached the Gospel in many lands and cities: in Spain, Carpetania, Colossae, Patras. In his old age, St Onesimus occupied the bishop’s throne at Ephesus, after the Apostle Timothy. When they took St Ignatius the God-Bearer (December 20) to Rome for execution, Bishop Onesimus came to meet with him with other Christians, as St Ignatius mentions in his Epistle to the Ephesians.

During the reign of the emperor Trajan (89-117), St Onesimus was arrested and brought to trial before the eparch Tertillus. He held the saint in prison for eighteen days, and then sent him to prison in the city of Puteoli. After a certain while, the eparch sent for the prisoner and, convincing himself that St Onesimus maintained his faith in Christ, had him stoned, after which they beheaded the saint with a sword. A certain illustrious woman took the body of the martyr and placed it in a silver coffin. This took place in the year 109.


Venerable Paphnutius the Recluse of the Kiev Caves

Saint Paphnutius had the gift of tears, which St John of the Ladder says (Step 6:1) is preceded by the remembrance of death. For worldly people, this remembrance may lead to fear and distress, but for St Paphnutius it led to constant prayer and the guarding of his mind.

By remembering the hour of death and God’s judgment, St Paphnutius was able to free himself from worldly distractions and passions through prayer, repentance and fasting. This, in turn, led to tears.


Venerable Paphnutius of Alexandria

The Holy Martyr Paphnutius hailed from Egypt and struggled in the desert. During the persecution against Christians under Diocletian (284-305), the governor Hadrian commanded that St Paphnutius be brought to him. The ascetic, not waiting for those sent to bring him, appeared before the governor, confessed his faith in Christ, and was subjected to torture.

The soldiers involved in his torture, Dionysius and Callimachus, seeing how the power of God preserved the martyr, believed in Christ the Savior themselves, for which they were then beheaded. Cast into prison after the tortures, St Paphnutius converted forty prisoners to the Faith. They were all burned alive.

After a while St Paphnutius was set free, and a Christian named Nestorius gladly took him in. He and all his family, after spiritual guidance, became steadfast in the Faith, and ultimately endured martyrdom. The saint strengthened many other Christians to confess our Lord Jesus Christ, and they all died as martyrs. Some were cut with swords, others were burned. There were 546 men in all.

St Paphnutius himself was thrown by the torturers into a river with a stone about his neck, but he miraculously floated to shore with the stone. Finally, they sent the holy martyr to the emperor Diocletian himself, who commanded him to be crucified on a date tree.

St Paphnutius is also commemorated on September 25.


Venerable Euphrosyne of Alexandria

Saint Euphrosyne of Alexandria was born at the beginning of the fifth century in the city of Alexandria. She was the only child in her family of illustrious and rich parents. Since her mother died early, she was raised by her father, Paphnutius, a deeply believing and pious Christian. He frequented a monastery, the igumen of which was his spiritual guide.

When Euphrosyne turned eighteen, her father wanted her to marry. He went to the monastery to his spiritual guide to receive his blessing for the planned wedding of his daughter. The igumen conversed with the daughter and gave her his blessing, but St Euphrosyne yearned for the monastic life.

She secretly accepted tonsure from a wandering monk, left her father’s house and decided to enter a monastery in order to lead her life in solitude and prayer. She feared, however, that in a women’s monastery her father would find her. Calling herself the eunuch Smaragdos, she went to the very same men’s monastery which she had visited with her father since childhood.

The monks did not recognize Euphrosyne dressed in men’s garb, and so they accepted her into the monastery. Here in a solitary cell, St Euphrosyne spent 38 years in works, fasting and prayer, and attained a high level of spiritual accomplishment.

Her father grieved over the loss of his beloved daughter and more than once, on the advice of the igumen, he conversed with the monk Smaragdos, revealing his grief and receiving spiritual comfort. Before her death, the nun Euphrosyne revealed her secret to her grieving father and asked that no one but he should prepare her body for burial. Having buried his daughter, Paphnutius distributed all his wealth to both the poor and to the monastery, and then he accepted monasticism. For ten years right up to his own death, he labored in the cell of his daughter.

Saint Euphrosyne is also commemorated on September 25.


Venerable Eusebius the Hermit of Syria

Saint Eusebius the Hermit lived in the fourth century and lived in asceticism on a mountain near the village of Asicha in Syria. He led a very strict life under the open sky, patiently enduring the summer heat and winter cold. He wore skins for clothing, and nourished himself on the pods of peas and beans.

Though he was elderly and infirm, he ate only fifteen figs during the Great Forty day Fast. When many people began to flock to St Eusebius, he went to a nearby monastery, built a small enclosure at the monastery walls and lived in it until his death.

St Eusebius died at the age of ninety, sometime after the year 400.


Icon of the Mother of God of Vilnius

This icon is from Vilnius (or Vilna), Lithuania, and depicts the Most Holy Theotokos by Herself with hands crossed over Her breast. She is crowned, and there is a circle of stars around Her head.

The Vilnius Icon is also commemorated on April 14.


Icon of the Mother of God of Dalmatia

The Dalmatian Icon of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos is from the Dormition-Dalmatov Monastery in the Province of Perm.


St Anthimus of Chios

No information available at this time.