Lives of all saints commemorated on March 20


Martyred Holy Fathers who were slain at the Monastery of St Sava

Saints John, Sergius, Patrick and others were slain in the Monastery of Saint Sava. During the eighth century the area around Jerusalem was subjected to frequent incursions of the Saracens. The monastery of St Chariton was devastated and fell into ruin. Twice the Saracens tried to plunder the Lavra of St Sava the Sanctified, but God’s Providence protected the monastery. The monks would have been able to escape the barbarians by going to Jerusalem, but they decided not to forsake the place where they had sought salvation for so many years.

On March 13, the Saracens broke into the monastery and demanded all the valuables. The monks told them that there was nothing in the monastery but a meager supply of food and old clothing. Then the Saracens began to shoot arrows at the monks.

Thirteen men were killed and many wounded, and monastery cells were set afire. The Saracens intended also to torch the monastery church, but seeing a throng of people in the distance, they mistook this for an army sent from Jerusalem. The Saracens managed to get away, carrying off the little they were able to plunder. After the enemy fled, Father Thomas, an experienced physician, began to help those who remained alive.

On Great Thursday, March 20, the Saracens again descended upon the Lavra with a larger force and began to beat up the monks. The survivors were driven into the church, where they were tortured in order to force them to reveal where any treasure might be hidden. The monastery was surrounded, so no one could save himself by fleeing. The barbarians seized St John, a young monk, who had cared for vagrants. They beat him fiercely, then they cut the sinews of his hands and feet and dragged him over stones by his feet, which tore the skin from the martyr’s back.

The keeper of the church vessels, St Sergius, hid the church vessels and attempted to flee, but he was captured and beheaded. Several of the monks nevertheless managed to hide themselves outside the monastery in a cave, but they were spotted by a sentry on a hill, and they ordered everyone to come out. Inside the cave St Patrick whispered to the brethren huddled with him, “Fear not, I will go alone and meet my death. Meanwhile, sit and pray.”

The Saracens asked whether there was anyone else in the cave, and Patrick said that he was alone. They led him to the Lavra, where the captives awaited their fate. The Saracens demanded of them a ransom of 4,000 gold pieces and the sacred vessels. The monks were not able to give such a ransom. Then they led them into the cave of St Sava inside the monastery walls. They lit a fire on which they piled up dung in front of the entrance to the cave, hoping to suffocate the monks with the poisonous fumes. Eighteen men perished in the cave, among whom were Sts John and Patrick. The Saracens continued to torture those who were still alive, but got nothing out of them. Finally, they left the monastery.

Later, on the night of Great Friday, the monks hidden in the hills returned to the Lavra, they took up the bodies of the murdered Fathers to the church and buried them there.

The barbarians who plundered the monastery were punished by God. They were stricken with a sudden illness, and they all perished. Their bodies were devoured by wild beasts.

The martyrs of St Sava’s Lavra commemorated on May 16 suffered in the seventh century, during the reign of Heraclius (610-641).


Venerable John, slain at the Monastery of St Sabbas

Saints John, Sergius, Patrick and others were slain in the Monastery of St Sava. During the eighth century the area around Jerusalem was subjected to frequent incursions of the Saracens. The monastery of St Chariton was devastated and fell into ruin. Twice the Saracens tried to plunder the Lavra of St Sava the Sanctified, but God’s Providence protected the monastery. The monks would have been able to escape the barbarians by going to Jerusalem, but they decided not to forsake the place where they had sought salvation for so many years.

On March 13, the Saracens broke into the monastery and demanded all the valuables. The monks told them that there was nothing in the monastery but a meager supply of food and old clothing. Then the Saracens began to shoot arrows at the monks.

Thirteen men were killed and many wounded, and monastery cells were set afire. The Saracens intended also to torch the monastery church, but seeing a throng of people in the distance, they mistook this for an army sent from Jerusalem. The Saracens managed to get away, carrying off the little they were able to plunder. After the enemy fled, Father Thomas, an experienced physician, began to help those who remained alive.

On Great Thursday, March 20, the Saracens again descended upon the Lavra with a larger force and began to beat up the monks. The survivors were driven into the church, where they were tortured in order to force them to reveal where any treasure might be hidden. The monastery was surrounded, so no one could save himself by fleeing. The barbarians seized St John, a young monk, who had cared for vagrants. They beat him fiercely, then they cut the sinews of his hands and feet and dragged him over stones by his feet, which tore the skin from the martyr’s back.

The keeper of the church vessels, St Sergius, hid the church vessels and attempted to flee, but he was captured and beheaded. Several of the monks nevertheless managed to hide themselves outside the monastery in a cave, but they were spotted by a sentry on a hill, and they ordered everyone to come out. Inside the cave St Patrick whispered to the brethren huddled with him, “Fear not, I will go alone and meet my death. Meanwhile, sit and pray.”

The Saracens asked whether there was anyone else in the cave, and Patrick said that he was alone. They led him to the Lavra, where the captives awaited their fate. The Saracens demanded of them a ransom of 4,000 gold pieces and the sacred vessels. The monks were not able to give such a ransom. Then they led them into the cave of St Sava inside the monastery walls. They lit a fire on which they piled up dung in front of the entrance to the cave, hoping to suffocate the monks with the poisonous fumes. Eighteen men perished in the cave, among whom were Sts John and Patrick. The Saracens continued to torture those who were still alive, but got nothing out of them. Finally, they left the monastery.

Later, on the night of Great Friday, the monks hidden in the hills returned to the Lavra, they took up the bodies of the murdered Fathers to the church and buried them there.

The barbarians who plundered the monastery were punished by God. They were stricken with a sudden illness, and they all perished. Their bodies were devoured by wild beasts.


Venerable Sergius, slain at the Monastery of St Sabbas

Saints Sergius, John, Patrick and others were slain in the Monastery of Saint Sava. During the eighth century the area around Jerusalem was subjected to frequent incursions of the Saracens. The monastery of St Chariton was devastated and fell into ruin. Twice the Saracens tried to plunder the Lavra of St Sava the Sanctified, but God’s Providence protected the monastery. The monks would have been able to escape the barbarians by going to Jerusalem, but they decided not to forsake the place where they had sought salvation for so many years.

On March 13, the Saracens broke into the monastery and demanded all the valuables. The monks told them that there was nothing in the monastery but a meager supply of food and old clothing. Then the Saracens began to shoot arrows at the monks.

Thirteen men were killed and many wounded, and monastery cells were set afire. The Saracens intended also to torch the monastery church, but seeing a throng of people in the distance, they mistook this for an army sent from Jerusalem. The Saracens managed to get away, carrying off the little they were able to plunder. After the enemy fled, Father Thomas, an experienced physician, began to help those who remained alive.

On Great Thursday, March 20, the Saracens again descended upon the Lavra with a larger force and began to beat up the monks. The survivors were driven into the church, where they were tortured in order to force them to reveal where any treasure might be hidden. The monastery was surrounded, so no one could save himself by fleeing. The barbarians seized St John, a young monk, who had cared for vagrants. They beat him fiercely, then they cut the sinews of his hands and feet and dragged him over stones by his feet, which tore the skin from the martyr’s back.

The keeper of the church vessels, St Sergius, hid the church vessels and attempted to flee, but he was captured and beheaded. Several of the monks nevertheless managed to hide themselves outside the monastery in a cave, but they were spotted by a sentry on a hill, and they ordered everyone to come out. Inside the cave St Patrick whispered to the brethren huddled with him, “Fear not, I will go alone and meet my death. Meanwhile, sit and pray.”

The Saracens asked whether there was anyone else in the cave, and Patrick said that he was alone. They led him to the Lavra, where the captives awaited their fate. The Saracens demanded of them a ransom of 4,000 gold pieces and the sacred vessels. The monks were not able to give such a ransom. Then they led them into the cave of St Sava inside the monastery walls. They lit a fire on which they piled up dung in front of the entrance to the cave, hoping to suffocate the monks with the poisonous fumes. Eighteen men perished in the cave, among whom were Sts John and Patrick. The Saracens continued to torture those who were still alive, but got nothing out of them. Finally, they left the monastery.

Later, on the night of Great Friday, the monks hidden in the hills returned to the Lavra, they took up the bodies of the murdered Fathers to the church and buried them there.

The barbarians who plundered the monastery were punished by God. They were stricken with a sudden illness, and they all perished. Their bodies were devoured by wild beasts.


Venerable Patrick, slain at the Monastery of St Sabbas

Saints Patrick, John, Sergius, and others slain in the Monastery of Saint Sava: During the eighth century the area around Jerusalem was subjected to frequent incursions of the Saracens. The monastery of St Chariton was devastated and fell into ruin. Twice the Saracens tried to plunder the Lavra of St Sava the Sanctified, but God’s Providence protected the monastery. The monks would have been able to escape the barbarians by going to Jerusalem, but they decided not to forsake the place where they had sought salvation for so many years.

On March 13, the Saracens broke into the monastery and demanded all the valuables. The monks told them that there was nothing in the monastery but a meager supply of food and old clothing. Then the Saracens began to shoot arrows at the monks.

Thirteen men were killed and many wounded, and monastery cells were set afire. The Saracens intended also to torch the monastery church, but seeing a throng of people in the distance, they mistook this for an army sent from Jerusalem. The Saracens managed to get away, carrying off the little they were able to plunder. After the enemy fled, Father Thomas, an experienced physician, began to help those who remained alive.

On Great Thursday, March 20, the Saracens again descended upon the Lavra with a larger force and began to beat up the monks. The survivors were driven into the church, where they were tortured in order to force them to reveal where any treasure might be hidden. The monastery was surrounded, so no one could save himself by fleeing. The barbarians seized St John, a young monk, who had cared for vagrants. They beat him fiercely, then they cut the sinews of his hands and feet and dragged him over stones by his feet, which tore the skin from the martyr’s back.

The keeper of the church vessels, St Sergius, hid the church vessels and attempted to flee, but he was captured and beheaded. Several of the monks nevertheless managed to hide themselves outside the monastery in a cave, but they were spotted by a sentry on a hill, and they ordered everyone to come out. Inside the cave St Patrick whispered to the brethren huddled with him, “Fear not, I will go alone and meet my death. Meanwhile, sit and pray.”

The Saracens asked whether there was anyone else in the cave, and Patrick said that he was alone. They led him to the Lavra, where the captives awaited their fate. The Saracens demanded of them a ransom of 4,000 gold pieces and the sacred vessels. The monks were not able to give such a ransom. Then they led them into the cave of St Sava inside the monastery walls. They lit a fire on which they piled up dung in front of the entrance to the cave, hoping to suffocate the monks with the poisonous fumes. Eighteen men perished in the cave, among whom were Sts John and Patrick. The Saracens continued to torture those who were still alive, but got nothing out of them. Finally, they left the monastery.

Later, on the night of Great Friday, the monks hidden in the hills returned to the Lavra, they took up the bodies of the murdered Fathers to the church and buried them there.

The barbarians who plundered the monastery were punished by God. They were stricken with a sudden illness, and they all perished. Their bodies were devoured by wild beasts.


Monkmartyr Euphrosynus of Blue Jay Lake, Novgorod

Saint Euphrosynus of Blue Jay Lake, in the world Ephraim, was born in Karelia near Lake Ladoga in the second half of the sixteenth century. In his youth he lived near the Valaamo monastery, and later he moved to Novgorod the Great. After he spent some time there, the saint then withdrew to one of the Novgorod outskirts, the Bezhetsk “pentary” [one fifth of the “Pyatiny Novgorodskiya,” comprising five outlying districts of Novgorod the Great].

He became helper at church services in the village of Doloska, twenty versts from the city of Ustiuzhna of Zhelezopolska. He was tonsured at the Tikhvin Dormition monastery. In 1600 he began his wilderness life in the wild marshlands on the shore of Blue Lake. Here the saint set up a cross and dug a cave. The saint lived here for two years, eating only wild vegetation.

Unexpectedly, people from neighboring villages found him, and they began coming to him for guidance, and several remained to live with him. In 1612, when Polish military detachments were laying waste to Russia, many people were saved by hiding at his wilderness monastery.

St Euphrosynus predicted that the Poles would come into this wilderness, and he advised everyone to flee. Many did not believe him. “Why then don’t you leave this place yourself?” they asked. The Elder replied, “I have come here to die for Christ.” Those who obeyed the saint and left the monastery were spared, but all those who stayed died a horrible death.

St Jonah had also been one of the inhabitants of the monastery. Terrified by the prediction of St Euphrosynus, he wanted to flee with the others. But St Euphrosynus held him back, inspiring the monk with zeal for the house of God and a readiness to remain in the monastery until his death.

“Brother Jonah,” said St Euphrosynus, “why this cowardly fear in your soul? When the battle begins, then courage must be shown. We vowed to live and die in the wilderness. We must be faithful to our word, given before the Lord. In such a case, death results in peace. It is another matter for the laity. They are not bound by their word, and they must spare themselves for the sake of their children.”

After this St Euphrosynus dressed himself in the schema, and spent the whole night in prayer. On the following day, March 20, Polish forces fell upon the monastery. Attired as a schemamonk, the saint emerged from his cell and stood with upraised cross. The enemy said to him, “Old man, give us the monastery’s valuables.”

“All my possessions, and those of this monastery, are in the church of the All-Pure Mother of God,” he replied. He was referring to spiritual treasures which cannot be stolen. Not understanding this, the thugs rushed to the church, and one of them drew a sword and struck St Euphrosynus on the neck. His neck was cut half way through, and the holy Elder fell to the ground dead. When the Poles returned, angered that they had found nothing in the church, one of them struck the saint’s head with an axe. St Jonah also perished in the attack.

A certain pious Christian, Ioann Suma, had also stayed at the monastery with the monks. When the Poles burst onto the scene, he was in the saint’s cell. Despite the grievous wounds he received from these ruffians, Ioann remained alive, but unconscious. After the departure of the Poles, he regained his senses and told his son Emilian what had transpired.

The nearby inhabitants learned from them about the destruction of the monastery and the martyric death of St Euphrosynus. The saint’s body was reverently buried on March 28. On this same day they also buried St Jonah and all the others who had perished under the sword.

Thirty-four years after the death of the saint, a new church was built by a certain Moses, and dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity. With the blessing of Metropolitan Macarius of Novgorod, the incorrupt relics of St Euphrosynus were transferred to a new reliquary beneath the belfry on March 25, 1655.

St Euphrosynus was glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church on June 29, 1912.


Martyr Photina (Svetlana), the Samaritan Woman, and Her Sons

The Holy Martyr Photina (Svetlana) the Samaritan Woman, her sons Victor (named Photinus) and Joses; and her sisters Anatola, Phota, Photis, Paraskeva, Kyriake; Nero’s daughter Domnina; and the Martyr Sebastian: The holy Martyr Photina was the Samaritan Woman, with whom the Savior conversed at Jacob’s Well (John. 4:5-42).

During the time of the emperor Nero (54-68), who displayed excessive cruelty against Christians, St Photina lived in Carthage with her younger son Joses and fearlessly preached the Gospel there. Her eldest son Victor fought bravely in the Roman army against barbarians, and was appointed military commander in the city of Attalia (Asia Minor). Later, Nero called him to Italy to arrest and punish Christians.

Sebastian, an official in Italy, said to St Victor, “I know that you, your mother and your brother, are followers of Christ. As a friend I advise you to submit to the will of the emperor. If you inform on any Christians, you will receive their wealth. I shall write to your mother and brother, asking them not to preach Christ in public. Let them practice their faith in secret.”

St Victor replied, “I want to be a preacher of Christianity like my mother and brother.” Sebastian said, “O Victor, we all know what woes await you, your mother and brother.” Then Sebastian suddenly felt a sharp pain in his eyes. He was dumbfounded, and his face was somber.

For three days he lay there blind, without uttering a word. On the fourth day he declared, “The God of the Christians is the only true God.” St Victor asked why Sebastian had suddenly changed his mind. Sebastian replied, “Because Christ is calling me.” Soon he was baptized, and immediately regained his sight. St Sebastian’s servants, after witnessing the miracle, were also baptized.

Reports of this reached Nero, and he commanded that the Christians be brought to him at Rome. Then the Lord Himself appeared to the confessors and said, “Fear not, for I am with you. Nero, and all who serve him, will be vanquished.” The Lord said to St Victor, “From this day forward, your name will be Photinus, because through you, many will be enlightened and will believe in Me.” The Lord then told the Christians to strengthen and encourage St Sebastian to peresevere until the end.

All these things, and even future events, were revealed to St Photina. She left Carthage in the company of several Christians and joined the confessors in Rome.

At Rome the emperor ordered the saints to be brought before him and he asked them whether they truly believed in Christ. All the confessors refused to renounce the Savior. Then the emperor gave orders to smash the martyrs’ finger joints. During the torments, the confessors felt no pain, and their hands remained unharmed.

Nero ordered that Sts Sebastian, Photinus and Joses be blinded and locked up in prison, and St Photina and her five sisters Anatola, Phota, Photis, Paraskeva and Kyriake were sent to the imperial court under the supervision of Nero’s daughter Domnina. St Photina converted both Domnina and all her servants to Christ. She also converted a sorcerer, who had brought her poisoned food to kill her.

Three years passed, and Nero sent to the prison for one of his servants, who had been locked up. The messengers reported to him that Sts Sebastian, Photinus and Joses, who had been blinded, had completely recovered, and that people were visiting them to hear their preaching, and indeed the whole prison had been transformed into a bright and fragrant place where God was glorified.

Nero then gave orders to crucify the saints, and to beat their naked bodies with straps. On the fourth day the emperor sent servants to see whether the martyrs were still alive. But, approaching the place of the tortures, the servants fell blind. An angel of the Lord freed the martyrs from their crosses and healed them. The saints took pity on the blinded servants, and restored their sight by their prayers to the Lord. Those who were healed came to believe in Christ and were soon baptized.

In an impotent rage Nero gave orders to flay the skin from St Photina and to throw the martyr down a well. Sebastian, Photinus and Joses had their legs cut off, and they were thrown to dogs, and then had their skin flayed off. The sisters of St Photina also suffered terrible torments. Nero gave orders to cut off their breasts and then to flay their skin. An expert in cruelty, the emperor readied the fiercest execution for St Photis: they tied her by the feet to the tops of two bent-over trees. When the ropes were cut the trees sprang upright and tore the martyr apart. The emperor ordered the others beheaded. St Photina was removed from the well and locked up in prison for twenty days.

After this Nero had her brought to him and asked if she would now relent and offer sacrifice to the idols. St Photina spit in the face of the emperor, and laughing at him, said, “O most impious of the blind, you profligate and stupid man! Do you think me so deluded that I would consent to renounce my Lord Christ and instead offer sacrifice to idols as blind as you?”

Hearing such words, Nero gave orders to again throw the martyr down the well, where she surrendered her soul to God (+ ca. 66).

On the Greek Calendar, St Photina is commemorated on February 26.


Martyr Victor, son of the Samaritan Woman

St Victor was the eldest son of the Holy Martyr Photina (Svetlana) the Samaritan Woman, with whom the Savior conversed at Jacob’s Well (John. 4:5-42).

During the time of the emperor Nero (54-68), who displayed excessive cruelty against Christians, St Photina lived in Carthage with her younger son Joses and fearlessly preached the Gospel there. Her eldest son Victor fought bravely in the Roman army against barbarians, and was appointed military commander in the city of Attalia (Asia Minor). Later, Nero called him to Italy to arrest and punish Christians.

Sebastian, an official in Italy, said to St Victor, “I know that you, your mother and your brother, are followers of Christ. As a friend I advise you to submit to the will of the emperor. If you inform on any Christians, you will receive their wealth. I shall write to your mother and brother, asking them not to preach Christ in public. Let them practice their faith in secret.”

St Victor replied, “I want to be a preacher of Christianity like my mother and brother.” Sebastian said, “O Victor, we all know what woes await you, your mother and brother.” Then Sebastian suddenly felt a sharp pain in his eyes. He was dumbfounded, and his face was somber.

For three days he lay there blind, without uttering a word. On the fourth day he declared, “The God of the Christians is the only true God.” St Victor asked why Sebastian had suddenly changed his mind. Sebastian replied, “Because Christ is calling me.” Soon he was baptized, and immediately regained his sight. St Sebastian’s servants, after witnessing the miracle, were also baptized.

Reports of this reached Nero, and he commanded that the Christians be brought to him at Rome. Then the Lord Himself appeared to the confessors and said, “Fear not, for I am with you. Nero, and all who serve him, will be vanquished.” The Lord said to St Victor, “From this day forward, your name will be Photinus, because through you, many will be enlightened and will believe in Me.” The Lord then told the Christians to strengthen and encourage St Sebastian to peresevere until the end.

At Rome the emperor ordered the saints to be brought before him and he asked them whether they truly believed in Christ. All the confessors refused to renounce the Savior. Then the emperor ordered that the martyrs’ finger joints to be smashed. During the torments, the confessors felt no pain, and their hands remained unharmed.

Nero ordered that Sts Sebastian, Photinus and Joses be blinded and locked up in prison. Three years passed, and Nero sent to the prison for one of his servants, who had been locked up. The messengers reported to him that Sts Sebastian, Photinus and Joses, who had been blinded, had completely recovered, and that people were visiting them to hear their preaching, and indeed the whole prison had been transformed into a bright and fragrant place where God was glorified.

Nero then had the saints crucified, and beat their naked bodies with straps. On the fourth day the emperor sent servants to see whether the martyrs were still alive. But, approaching the place of the tortures, the servants fell blind. An angel of the Lord freed the martyrs from their crosses and healed them. The saints took pity on the blinded servants, and restored their sight by their prayers to the Lord. Those who were healed came to believe in Christ and were soon baptized.

In an impotent rage Nero ordered that the legs of Sebastian, Photinus and Joses be cut off, and they were thrown to dogs. Then they had their skin flayed off, and their bodies were thrown into an old bathhouse.


Martyr Joses, son of the Samaritan Woman

St Joses was the eldest son of the Holy Martyr Photina (Svetlana) the Samaritan Woman, with whom the Savior conversed at Jacob’s Well (John. 4:5-42).

During the time of the emperor Nero (54-68), who displayed excessive cruelty against Christians, St Photina lived in Carthage with her younger son Joses and fearlessly preached the Gospel there.

St Photina left Carthage with Joses and several Christians, and joined her son Victor (Photinus) in Rome.

At Rome the emperor ordered the saints to be brought before him and he asked them whether they truly believed in Christ. All the confessors refused to renounce the Savior. Then the emperor gave orders to smash the martyrs’ finger joints. During the torments, the confessors felt no pain, and their hands remained unharmed. Then Sts Sebastian, Photinus and Joses were blinded and locked up in prison.

Three years passed, and Nero sent to the prison for one of his servants, who had been locked up. The messengers reported to him that Sts Sebastian, Photinus and Joses, who had been blinded, had completely recovered, and that people were visiting them to hear their preaching, and indeed the whole prison had been transformed into a bright and fragrant place where God was glorified.

Nero then had the saints crucified, and to beat their naked bodies with straps. On the fourth day the emperor sent servants to see whether the martyrs were still alive. But, approaching the place of the tortures, the servants fell blind. An angel of the Lord freed the martyrs from their crosses and healed them. The saints took pity on the blinded servants, and restored their sight by their prayers to the Lord. Those who were healed came to believe in Christ and were soon baptized.

In an impotent rage Nero ordered that the legs of Sebastian, Photinus and Joses be cut off, and they were thrown to dogs. Then they had their skin flayed off, and their bodies were thrown into an old bathhouse.


Virginmartyr Alexandra of Amisus

The Holy Virgin Martyrs Alexandra, Claudia, Euphrasia, Matrona, Juliania, Euphemia and Theodosia were arrested in the city of Amisa (on the coastal region of the Black Sea) during the persecution against Christians under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). Under interrogation they confessed their faith and were subjected to cruel tortures for this. The malefactors scourged and beat them with rods, and cut off their breasts. After this, they were suspended and torn with sharp hooks. Finally, the holy virgins were burned alive in a red-hot oven (+ 310).


Virginmartyr Claudia of Amisus

The Holy Virgin Martyrs Claudia, Alexandra, Euphrasia, Matrona, Juliania, Euphemia and Theodosia were arrested in the city of Amisa (on the coastal region of the Black Sea) during the persecution against Christians under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). Under interrogation they confessed their faith and were subjected to cruel tortures for this. The malefactors scourged and beat them with rods, and cut off their breasts. After this, they were suspended and torn with sharp hooks. Finally, the holy virgins were burned alive in a red-hot oven (+ 310).


Virginmartyr Euphrasia of Amisus

The Holy Virgin Martyrs Euphrasia, Alexandra, Claudia, Matrona, Juliania, Euphemia and Theodosia were arrested in the city of Amisa (on the coast of the Black Sea) during the persecution against Christians under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). Under interrogation they confessed their faith and were subjected to cruel tortures for this. The malefactors scourged and beat them with rods, and cut off their breasts. After this, they were suspended and torn with sharp hooks. Finally, the holy virgins were burned alive in a red-hot oven in 310.


Virginmartyr Matrona of Amisus

The Holy Virgin Martyrs Matrona, Alexandra, Claudia, Euphrasia, Juliania, Euphemia and Theodosia were arrested in the city of Amisa (on the coastal region of the Black Sea) during the persecution against Christians under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). Under interrogation they confessed their faith and were subjected to cruel tortures for this. The malefactors scourged and beat them with rods, and cut off their breasts. After this, they were suspended and torn with sharp hooks. Finally, the holy virgins were burned alive in a red-hot oven (+ 310).


Virginmartyr Juliana of Amisus

The Holy Virgin Martyrs Juliania, Alexandra, Claudia, Euphrasia, Matrona, Euphemia and Theodosia were arrested in the city of Amisa (on the coastal region of the Black Sea) during the persecution against Christians under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). Under interrogation they confessed their faith and were subjected to cruel tortures for this. The malefactors scourged and beat them with rods, and cut off their breasts. After this, they were suspended and torn with sharp hooks. Finally, the holy virgins were burned alive in a red-hot oven (+ 310).


Virginmartyr Euphemia of Amisus

The Holy Virgin Martyrs Euphemia, Alexandra, Claudia, Euphrasia, Matrona, Juliania, and Theodosia were arrested in the city of Amisa (on the coastal region of the Black Sea) during the persecution against Christians under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). Under interrogation they confessed their faith and were subjected to cruel tortures for this. The malefactors scourged and beat them with rods, and cut off their breasts. After this, they were suspended and torn with sharp hooks. Finally, the holy virgins were burned alive in a red-hot oven (+ 310).


Virginmartyr Theodosia of Amisus

The Holy Virgin Martyrs Theodosia, Alexandra, Claudia, Euphrasia, Matrona, Juliania, and Euphemia were arrested in the city of Amisa (on the coastal region of the Black Sea) during the persecution against Christians under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). Under interrogation they confessed their faith and were subjected to cruel tortures for this. The malefactors scourged and beat them with rods, and cut off their breasts. After this, they were suspended and torn with sharp hooks. Finally, the holy virgins were burned alive in a red-hot oven (+ 310).


St Nicetas the Confessor the Archbishop of Apollonias in Bithynia

Saint Nicetas the Confessor, Archbishop of Apollonias in Bithynia, was noted for his profound knowledge of Holy Scripture, and was a pious and kindly man. During the reign of the Iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820), the saint championed the veneration of holy icons, and so was exiled and died in prison.


Martyr Kyriake of Rome

St Kyriake was the sister of the Holy Martyr Photina (Svetlana) the Samaritan Woman, with whom the Savior conversed at Jacob’s Well (John. 4:5-42).

Summoned to appear before Nero, the emperor asked the saints whether they truly believed in Christ. All the confessors refused to renounce the Savior. Then the emperor gave orders to smash the martyrs’ finger joints. During the torments, the confessors felt no pain, and their hands remained unharmed.

St Photina and her five sisters Anatolia, Phota, Photis, Paraskeva and Kyriake were sent to the imperial court under the supervision of Nero’s daughter Domnina. St Photina converted both Domnina and all her servants to Christ. She also converted a sorcerer, who had brought her poisoned food to kill her.

Three years passed, and Nero sent to the prison for one of his servants, who had been locked up. The messengers reported to him that Sts Sebastian, Photinus and Joses, who had been blinded, had completely recovered, and that people were visiting them to hear their preaching, and indeed the whole prison had been transformed into a bright and fragrant place where God was glorified.

Nero then gave orders to crucify the saints, and to beat their naked bodies with straps. On the fourth day the emperor sent servants to see whether the martyrs were still alive. But, approaching the place of the tortures, the servants fell blind. An angel of the Lord freed the martyrs from their crosses and healed them. The saints took pity on the blinded servants, and restored their sight by their prayers to the Lord. Those who were healed came to believe in Christ and were soon baptized.

The sisters of St Photina also suffered terrible torments. Nero gave orders to cut off their breasts and then to flay their skin. An expert in cruelty, the emperor readied the fiercest execution for St Photis: they tied her by the feet to the tops of two bent-over trees. When the ropes were cut the trees sprang upright and tore the martyr apart. The emperor ordered the others beheaded, except for St Photina.


St Cuthbert, wonderworker of Britain

Saint Cuthbert, the wonderworker of Britain, was born in Northumbria around 634. Very little information has come down to us about Cuthbert’s early life, but there is a remarkable story of him when he was eight.

As a child, Cuthbert enjoyed games and playing with other children. He could beat anyone his own age, and even some who were older, at running, jumping, wrestling, and other exercises. One day he and some other boys were amusing themselves by standing on their heads with their feet up in the air. A little boy who was about three years old chided Cuthbert for his inappropriate behavior. “Be sensible,” he said, “and give up these foolish pranks.”

Cuthbert and the others ignored him, but the boy began to weep so piteously that it was impossible to quiet him. When they asked him what the matter was, he shouted, “O holy bishop and priest Cuthbert, these unseemly stunts in order to show off your athletic ability do not become you or the dignity of your office.” Cuthbert immediately stopped what he was doing and attempted to comfort the boy.

On the way home, he pondered the meaning of those strange words. From that time forward, Cuthbert became more thoughtful and serious.This incident reveals St Cuthbert as God’s chosen vessel (2 Tim. 2:20-21), just like Samuel, David, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and others who, from an early age, were destined to serve the Lord.

On another occasion, he was suffering from an injured knee. It was quite swollen and the muscles were so contracted that he limped and could scarcely place his foot on the ground. One day a handsome stranger of noble bearing, dressed in white, rode up on horseback to the place where Cuthbert was sitting in the sun beside the house. The stranger asked courteously if the boy would receive him as a guest. Cuthbert said that if only he were not hampered by his injuries, he would not be slow to offer hospitality to his guest.

The man got down from his horse and examined Cuthbert’s knee, advising him to cook up some wheat flour with milk, and to spread the warm paste on his sore knee. After the stranger had gone, it occurred to him that the man was really an angel who had been sent by God. A few days later, he was completely well. From that time forward, as St Cuthbert revealed in later years to a few trusted friends, he always received help from angels whenever he prayed to God in desperate situations.

In his prose Life of St Cuthbert, St Bede of Jarrow (May 27) reminds skeptics that it is not unknown for an angel to appear on horseback, citing 2 Maccabees 11:6-10 and 4 Maccabees 4:10.

While the saint was still young, he would tend his master’s sheep in the Lammermuir hills south of Edinburgh near the River Leader. One night while he was praying, he had a vision of angels taking the soul of St Aidan (August 31) to heaven in a fiery sphere. Cuthbert awakened the other shepherds and told them what he had seen. He said that this must have been the soul of a holy bishop or some other great person. A few days later they learned that Bishop Aidan of Lindisfarne had reposed at the very hour that Cuthbert had seen his vision.

As an adult, St Cuthbert decided to give up his life in the world and advanced to better things. He entered the monastery at Melrose in the valley of the Tweed, where he was received by the abbot St Boisil (February 23). St Cuthbert was accepted into the community and devoted himself to serving God. His fasting and vigils were so extraordinary that the other monks marveled at him. He often spent entire nights in prayer, and would not eat anything for days at a time.

Who can describe his angelic life, his purity or his virtue? Much of this is known only to God, for St Cuthbert labored in secret in order to avoid the praise of men.

A few years later, St Eata (October 26) chose some monks of Melrose to live at the new monastery at Ripon. Among them was St Cuthbert. Both Eata and Cuthbert were expelled from Ripon and sent back to Melrose in 661 because they (and some other monks) refused to follow the Roman calculation for the date of Pascha. The Celtic Church, which followed a different, older reckoning, resisted Roman practices for a long time. However, in 664 the Synod of Whitby determined that the Roman customs were superior to those of the Celtic Church, and should be adopted by all. St Bede discusses this question in his HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH AND PEOPLE (Book III, 25).

St Cuthbert was chosen to be abbot of Melrose after the death of St Boisil, guiding the brethren by his words and by his example. He made journeys throughout the surrounding area to encourage Christians and to preach the Gospel to those who had never heard it. Sometimes he would be away from the monastery for a month at a time, teaching and preaching. He also worked many miracles, healing the sick and freeing those who were possessed by demons.

In 664, Cuthbert went with St Eata to Lindisfarne, and extended his territory to include the inhabitants of Northumberland and Durham. Soon St Eata appointed Cuthbert as prior of Lindisfarne (Holy Island). At that time both monasteries were under the jurisdiction of St Eata. While at Lindisfarne, St Cuthbert continued his habit of visiting the common people in order to inspire them to seek the Kingdom of Heaven.

Though some of the monks prefered their negligent way of life to the monastic rule, St Cuthbert gradually brought them around to a better state of mind. At first he had to endure many arguments and insults, but eventually he brought them to obedience through his patience and gentle admonition. He had a great thirst for righteousness, and so he did not hesitate to correct those who did wrong. However, his gentleness made him quick to forgive those who repented. When people confessed to him, he often wept in sympathy with their weakness. He also showed them how to make up for their sins by doing their penances himself.

St Cuthbert was a true father to his monks, but his soul longed for complete solitude, so he went to live on a small island (St Cuthbert’s Isle), a short distance from Lindisfarne. After gaining victory over the demons through prayer and fasting, the saint decided to move even farther away from his fellow men. In 676, he retired to Inner Farne, an even more remote location. St Cuthbert built a small cell which could not be seen from the mainland. A few yards away, he built a guest house for visitors from Lindisfarne. Here he remained for nearly nine years.

A synod at Twyford, with the holy Archbishop Theodore (September 19) presiding, elected Cuthbert Bishop of Hexham in 684. Letters and messengers were sent to inform him of the synod’s decision, but he refused to leave his solitude. King Ecgfrith and Bishop Trumwine (February 10) went to him in person, entreating him in Christ’s name to accept. At last, St Cuthbert came forth and went with them to the synod. With great reluctance, he submitted to the will of the synod and accepted the office of bishop. Almost immediately, he exchanged Sees with St Eata, and became Bishop of Lindisfarne while St Eata went to Hexham.

Bishop Cuthbert remained as humble as he had been before his consecration, avoiding finery and dressing in simple clothing. He fulfilled his office with dignity and graciousness, while continuing to live as a monk. His virtue and holiness of life only served to enhance the authority of his position.

His life as Bishop of Lindisfarne was quite similar to what it had been when he was prior of that monastery. He devoted himself to his flock, preaching and visiting people throughout his diocese, casting out demons, and healing all manner of diseases. He served as a bishop for only two years, however.

Once, St Cuthbert was invited to Carlisle to ordain seven deacons to the holy priesthood. The holy priest Hereberht was living in solitude on an island in that vicinity. Hearing that his spiritual friend Cuthbert was staying at Carlisle, he went to see him in order to discuss spiritual matters with him. St Cuthbert told him that he should ask him whatever he needed to ask, for they would not see one another in this life again. When he heard that St Cuthbert would die soon, Hereberht fell at his feet and wept. By God’s dispensation, the two men would die on the very same day.

Though he was only in his early fifties, St Cuthbert felt the time of his death was approaching. He laid aside his archpastoral duties, retiring to the solitude of Inner Farne shortly after the Feast of the Lord’s Nativity in 686 to prepare himself. He was able to receive visitors from Lindisfarne at first, but gradually he weakened and was unable to walk down to the landing stage to greet them.

His last illness came upon him on February 27, 687. The pious priest Herefrith (later the abbot of Lindisfarne) came to visit him that morning. When he was ready to go back, he asked St Cuthbert for his blessing to return. The saint replied, “Do as you intend. Get into your boat and return safely home.”

St Cuthbert also gave Father Herefrith instructions for his burial. He asked to be laid to rest east of the cross that he himself had set up. He told him where to find a stone coffin hidden under the turf. “Put my body in it,” he said, “and wrap it in the cloth you will find there.” The cloth was a gift from Abbess Verca, but St Cuthbert thought it was too fine for him to wear. Out of affection for her, he kept it to be used as his winding sheet.

Father Herefrith wanted to send some of the brethren to look after the dying bishop, but St Cuthbert would not permit this. “Go now, and come back at the proper time.”

When Herefrith asked when that time might be, St Cuthbert replied, “When God wishes. He will show you.”

Herefrith returned to Lindisfarne and told the brethren to pray for the ailing Cuthbert. Storms prevented the brethren from returning to Inner Farne for five days. When they did land there, they found the saint sitting on the beach by the guest house. He told them he had come out so that when they arrived to take care of him they would not have to go to his cell to find him. He had been sitting there for five days and nights, eating nothing but onions. He also revealed that during those five days he had been more severely assailed by demons than ever before.

This time, St Cuthbert consented to have some of the brethren attend him. One of these was his personal servant, the priest Bede. He asked particularly for the monk Walhstod to remain with him to help Bede take care of him. Father Herefrith returned to Lindisfarne and informed the brethren of Cuthbert’s wish to be buried on his island.

Herefrith and the others, however, wanted to bury him in their church with proper honor. Therefore, Herefrith went back to Cuthbert and asked for permission to do this. St Cuthbert said that he wanted to be buried there at the site of his spiritual struggles, and he pointed out that the peace of the brethren would be disturbed by the number of pilgrims who would come to Lindisfarne to venerate his tomb.

Herefrith insisted that they would gladly endure the inconvenience out of love for Cuthbert. Finally, the bishop agreed to be buried in the church on Lindisfarne so the monks would always have him with them, and they would also be able to decide which outsiders would be allowed to visit his tomb.

St Cuthbert grew weaker and weaker, so the monks carried him back into his cell. No one had ever been inside, so they paused at the door and asked that at least one of them be permitted to see to his needs. Cuthbert asked for Wahlstod to come in with him. Now Wahlstod had suffered from dysentery for a long time. Even though he was sick, he agreed to care for Cuthbert. As soon as he touched the holy bishop, his illness left him. Although he was sick and dying, St Cuthbert healed his servant Wahlstod. Remarkably, the holy man’s spiritual power was not impaired by his bodily weakness. About three o’clock in the afternoon Wahlstod came out and announced that the bishop wanted them to come inside.

Father Herefrith asked Cuthbert if he had any final instructions for the monks. He spoke of peace and harmony, warning them to be on guard against those who fostered pride and discord. Although he encouraged them to welcome visitors and offer them hospitality, he also admonished them to have no dealings with heretics or with those who lived evil lives. He told them to learn the teachings of the Fathers and put them into practice, and to adhere to the monastic rule which he had taught them.

After passing the evening in prayer, St Cuthbert sat up and received Holy Communion from Father Herefrith. He surrendered his holy soul to God on March 20, 687at the time appointed for the night office

Eleven years later, St Cuthbert’s tomb was opened and his relics were found to be incorrupt. In the ninth century, the relics were moved to Norham, then back to Lindisfarne. Because of the threat of Viking raids, St Cuthbert’s body was moved from place to place for seven years so that it would not be destroyed by the invaders.

St Cuthbert’s relics were moved to Chester-le-Street in 995. They were moved again because of another Viking invasion, and then brought to Durham for safekeeping. Around 1020 the relics of Sts Bede (May 27), Aidan (August 31), Boisil (February 23), Aebbe (August 25), Eadberht (May 6), Aethilwald (February 12), and other saints associated with St Cuthbert were also brought to Durham.

The tomb was opened again on August 24, 1104, and the incorrupt and fragrant relics were placed in the newly-completed cathedral. Relics of the other saints mentioned above were placed in various places around the church. The head of St Oswald of Northumbria (August 5), however, was left in St Cuthbert’s coffin.

In 1537 three commissioners of King Henry VIII came to plunder the tomb and desecrate the relics. St Cuthbert’s body was still incorrupt, and was later reburied. The tomb was opened again in 1827. A pile of bones was found in the outer casket, probably the relics of the various saints which had been collected seven centuries before, then replaced after the Protestant commissioners had completed their work.

In the inner casket was a skeleton wrapped in a linen shroud and five robes. In the vestments a gold and garnet cross was found, probably St Cuthbert’s pectoral cross. Also found were an ivory comb, a portable wood and silver altar, a stole (epitrachilion), pieces of a carved wooden coffin, and other items. These may be seen today in the Dean and Chapter library of Durham Cathedral. The tomb was opened again in 1899, and a scientific examination determined that the bones were those of a man in his fifties, Cuthbert’s age when he died.

Today St Cuthbert’s relics (and the head of St Oswald) lie beneath a simple stone slab on the site of the original medieval shrine in the Chapel of the Nine Altars, and St Bede’s relics rest at the other end of the cathedral. The relics and the treasures in the Library make Durham an appropriate place for pilgrims to visit.


New Martyr Myron of Crete

No information available at this time.


St Sebastian the Martyr

No information available at this time.