Lives of all saints commemorated on March 6


42 Martyrs of Ammoria in Phrygia

The Holy 42 Martyrs of Ammoria: Constantine, Aetius (Aetitus), Theophilus, Theodore, Melissenus, Callistus, Basoes and the others with them. During a war between the Byzantine Emperor Theophilus (829-842) and the Saracens, the Saracens managed to besiege the city of Ammoria (in Galicia in Asia Minor). As a result of treason on the part of the military commander Baditses, Ammoria fell, and forty-two of its generals were taken captive and sent off to Syria.

During the seven years of their imprisonment they tried in vain to persuade the captives to renounce Christianity and accept Islam. The captives stubbornly resisted all their seductive offers and bravely held out against terrible threats. After many torments that failed to break the spirit of the Christian soldiers, they condemned them to death, hoping to shake the determination of the saints before executing them. The martyrs remained steadfast, saying that the Old Testament Prophets bore witness to Christ, while Mohammed called himself a prophet without any other witnesses to support his claim.

They said to the soldier Theodore, “We know that you forsook the priestly office, became a soldier and shed blood in battle. You can have no hope in Christ, Whom you abandoned voluntarily, so accept Mohammed.” But the martyr replied, “You do not speak truthfully when you say that I abandoned Christ. Moreover, I left the priesthood because of my own unworthiness. Therefore, I must shed my blood for the sake of Christ, so that He might forgive the sins that I have committed against Him.”

The executioners took each one separately and led him off to be beheaded, then threw the bodies into the River Euphrates. In the service to them, these holy passion-bearers are glorified as: the “All-Blessed” Theodore, the “Unconquered” Callistus, the “Valliant” Constantine, the “Wondrous” Theophilus and “the Most Strong” Basoes.

The betrayer Baditses did not escape his shameful fate. The enemy knew that it is impossible to trust a traitor, and so they killed him.


Martyr Constantine of Ammoria in Phrygia

Saint Constantine was one of the 42 Christians martyred for Christ at Ammoria in Asia Minor around 845. St Constantine is described as “valiant” in the service composed for them.


Martyr Aetitus of Ammoria in Phrygia

Saint Aetius (Aetitus), was one of the 42 Christians martyred for Christ at Ammoria in Asia Minor around 845.


Martyr Theophilus of Ammoria in Phrygia

Saint Theophilus was one of the 42 Christians martyred for Christ at Ammoria in Asia Minor around 845. St Theophilus is described as “wondrous” in the service composed for them.


Martyr Theodore of Ammoria in Phrygia

Saint Theodore was one of the 42 Christians martyred for Christ at Ammoria in Asia Minor around 845. In the service to these martyrs, he is described as the “all-blessed Theodore.”

The Syrians said to the soldier Theodore, “We know that you forsook the priestly office, became a soldier and shed blood in battle. You can have no hope in Christ, Whom you abandoned voluntarily, so accept Mohammed.” But the martyr replied, “You do not speak truthfully when you say that I abandoned Christ. Moreover, I left the priesthood because of my own unworthiness. Therefore, I must shed my blood for the sake of Christ, so that He might forgive the sins that I have committed against Him.”


Martyr Melissenus of Ammoria in Phrygia

Saint Melissenus was one of the 42 Christians martyred for Christ at Ammoria in Asia Minor around 845.


Martyr Callistus of Ammoria in Phrygia

Saint Callistus was one of the 42 Christians martyred for Christ at Ammoria in Asia Minor around 845.


Martyr Basoes of Ammoria in Phrygia

Saint Basoes was one of the 42 Christians martyred for Christ at Ammoria in Asia Minor around 845. In the service to these martyrs, he is described as the “most strong” Basoes.


Uncovering of the Precious Cross and the Precious Nails by the Empress St Helen in Jerusalem

The Holy Empress Helen uncovered the Precious Cross and Nails of the Lord at Jerusalem in 326.

At the beginning of the reign of St Constantine the Great (306-337), the first Roman emperor to recognize Christianity, he and his pious mother St Helen decided to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. They also planned to build a church on the site of the Lord’s suffering and Resurrection, in order to reconsecrate and purify the places connected with the Savior’s death and Resurrection from the foul taint of paganism.

The empress Helen journeyed to Jerusalem with a large quantity of gold. St Constantine wrote a letter to Patriarch Macarius I (313-323), requesting him to assist her in every possible way with her task of the restoring the Christian holy places.

After her arrival in Jerusalem, the holy empress Helen began to destroy all the pagan temples and reconsecrate the places which had been defiled by the pagans.

In her quest for the Life-Creating Cross, she questioned several Christians and Jews, but for a long time her search remained unsuccessful. Finally, an elderly Hebrew named Jude told her that the Cross was buried beneath the temple of Venus. St Helen ordered that the pagan temple be demolished, and for the site to be excavated. Soon they found Golgotha and the Lord’s Sepulchre. Not far from the spot were three crosses, a board with the inscription written by Pilate (John 19:19), and four nails which had pierced the Lord’s Body.

Now the task was to determine on which of the three crosses the Savior had been crucified. Patriarch Macarius saw a dead person being carried to his grave, then he ordered that the dead man be placed upon each cross in turn. When the corpse was placed on the Cross of Christ, he was immediately restored to life. After seeing the raising of the dead man, everyone was convinced that the Life-Creating Cross had been found. With great joy the empress Helen and Patriarch Macarius lifted the Life-Creating Cross and displayed it to all the people standing about.


Monkmartyr Conon and his son of Iconium

The Holy Hieromartyr Conon lived in Iconium (Asia Minor). After he became a widower, he went to a monastery with his son. Because of his devout life the saint was granted help from above. He cast out devils, he healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and preached Christ among the pagans, converting many.

Reports of him reached the governor Dometian, a persecutor of Christians. St Conon was brought to trial and they ordered him to offer sacrifice to idols, but since he would not, he was handed over for torture. The seventeen-year-old son of the martyr, Deacon Conon, was also brought to trial.

After persuasion failed to make him renounce the True Faith, both father and son were subjected to cruel tortures. They were stripped and laid on a red-hot cot, they were drenched with hot oil, they were thrown into a cauldron with boiling tin, sulfur and tar, they were suspended upside down and scorched with a choking smoke. Preserved by God, the martyrs remained unharmed.

The irate torturers then resorted to a horrible way to destroy the preachers: sawing them in two with a wooden saw. Learning of this sentence, the saints asked time to pray and they cried out to the Lord, “We give thanks to You, O Lord, for permitting us to suffer for Your Name! We beseech You to grant peace to Your Church, put its persecutors to shame, strengthen and increase those who believe in You, grant us to come to You, and give peace unto our souls.”

The Voice of God was heard from above, calling the holy sufferers. Having signed themselves with the Sign of the Cross, the holy martyrs gave up their souls to the Lord. At once, there was an earthquake, and all the pagan temples in the city collapsed.

Monks secretly buried the bodies of the martyrs at the monastery where the saints had labored in asceticism during life. This occurred during the reign of Aurelian in the years 270-275. The relics of the holy martyrs were later transferred to Italy, to the city of Acerno (Campania).


Martyr Conon with his father of Iconium

The Holy Hieromartyr Conon lived in Iconium (Asia Minor). After he became a widower, he went to a monastery with his son. Because of his devout life the saint was granted help from above. He cast out devils, he healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and preached Christ among the pagans, converting many.

Reports of him reached the governor Dometian, a persecutor of Christians. St Conon was brought to trial and they ordered him to offer sacrifice to idols, but since he would not, he was handed over for torture. The seventeen-year-old son of the martyr, Deacon Conon, was also brought to trial.

After persuasion failed to make him renounce the True Faith, both father and son were subjected to cruel tortures. They were stripped and laid on a red-hot cot, they were drenched with hot oil, they were thrown into a cauldron with boiling tin, sulfur and tar, they were suspended upside down and scorched with a choking smoke. Preserved by God, the martyrs remained unharmed.

The irate torturers then resorted to a horrible way to destroy the preachers: sawing them in two with a wooden saw. Learning of this sentence, the saints asked time to pray and they cried out to the Lord, “We give thanks to You, O Lord, for permitting us to suffer for Your Name! We beseech You to grant peace to Your Church, put its persecutors to shame, strengthen and increase those who believe in You, grant us to come to You, and give peace unto our souls.”

The Voice of God was heard from above, calling the holy sufferers. Having signed themselves with the Sign of the Cross, the holy martyrs gave up their souls to the Lord. At once, there was an earthquake, and all the pagan temples in the city collapsed.

Monks secretly buried the bodies of the martyrs at the monastery where the saints had labored in asceticism during life. This occurred during the reign of Aurelian in the years 270-275. The relics of the holy martyrs were later transferred to Italy, to the city of Acerno (Campania).


Venerable Arcadius of Cyprus

Saint Arcadius from his youth devoted himself to monastic efforts. The saint struggled on the island of Cyprus during the time of the emperor Constantine the Great (306-337). He was the teacher of the holy Martyrs Julian the Physician and Eubolos, executed under Julian the Apostate (361-363). Bewailing the martyric death of his disciples and having consigned their bodies to the earth, St Arcadius soon departed to the Lord.


Icon of the Mother of God “the Blessed Heaven”

The “Blessed Heaven” Icon of the Mother of God is on the iconostasis of the Moscow Archangel cathedral in the Kremlin. Previously, this icon was at Smolensk and brought to Moscow by Sophia, daughter of the Lithuanian prince Vitovt, when she became the wife of Prince Basil of Moscow (1389-1425).

On the icon, the Mother of God is depicted in full stature, with a scepter in Her right hand. On Her left arm is the Divine Infant, and both of them are crowned. Certain people call also this icon of the Mother of God “What Shall we call Thee?”

This icon is also commemorated on the Sunday of All Saints.


Icon of the Mother of God “Czestochowa”

The wonderworking Czestochowa Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is to be found in a Roman Catholic monastery at Yasna Gora near the city of Czestochowa, Petrov Province. It is believed to be one of the seventy icons painted by the holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke (October 18). Tradition says that the icon was taken from Jerusalem when the Romans conquered the city in the year 66, and was hidden in a cave near Pella. The icon was given to St Helen (May 21) when she visited the Holy Land in 326, and she brought it back to Constantinople with her.

Starting in the eighth century the icon traveled to various places, including Galicia, Bavaria, and Moravia. Prince Leo, who founded the city of Lvov, brought the icon to Russia and placed it in the fortress of Belz. There many miracles took place before the holy icon.

Prince Vladislav of Opolsk acquired the icon when the Poles captured southwestern Russia. At the time that Vladislav ruled in Poland, the Tatars invaded Russia and soon appeared before the gates of the fortress of Belz. The prince ordered the icon to be placed atop the city walls as the Tatars began their siege of the fortress. Blood began dripping from the icon where it had been struck by an arrow or some other projectile. Those who witnessed it were fearfully amazed at the sight. The Tatars began to retreat when a dark haze covered them, and many of them died.

Following this miraculous deliverance, Prince Vladislav planned to take the icon to Siesia and to place it in his castle at Opolsk. As preparations for the transfer were being made, Vladislav was overcome with an inexplicable fear. He began to pray before the holy icon, and that night he was told in a vision to take the icon to Yasna Gora near Czestochowa. Vladislav built a monastery at Yasna Gora in 1382 and gave the icon to an order of Roman Catholic monks.

Many years later, followers of John Hus attacked Czestochowa and plundered the monastery. When they attempted to carry the Czestochowa Icon away in a cart, the horses refused to move from the spot, held back by some invisible power. One of the Hussites became angry and threw the icon onto the ground, while another stabbed the face of the Virgin with his sword. The first man was struck dead, and the hand of the second man shriveled up.

The other invaders also suffered punishment from God. Some of them died on the spot, while others became blind. Although many of the monastery’s treasures were stolen by the Hussites, the wonderworking Czestochowa Icon was left behind.

King Carl X Gustav of Sweden occupied most of Poland in the seventeenth century, and his forces remained virtually undefeated until they fought a battle near Yasna Gora and the monastery where the icon was kept. With the help of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Poles were able to overcome the Swedes and end the war in 1656. At Lvov, King Jan Casimir officially decreed that Mother of God was the Queen of Poland, and that the nation was under her protection.

Many miracles have been worked by the Czestochowa Icon, and are recorded in a book which is kept at the Czestochowa monastery. Copies of the icon are found in many Orthodox and Roman Catholic monasteries. Some of these copies are venerated in the village of Pisarevkain in the Volhynia Province (June 29 and September 8), at Verhnaya Syrovatka in the Kharkov Province, at Tyvrov in the Vinits Province (Holy Spirit day), in the Kazan Cathedral at St Petersburg, and in several other places.