Lives of all saints commemorated on April 8


Apostle Herodion of the Seventy, and those with Him

Saints Herodion (Rodion), Agabus, Asyncritus, Rufus, Phlegon and Hermes are among the Seventy Apostles, chosen by Christ and sent out by Him to preach (Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles: January 4).

The holy Apostle Herodion was a relative of St Paul, and his companion on many journeys. When Christianity had spread to the Balkan Peninsula, the Apostles Peter and Paul established St Herodion as Bishop of Patara. St Herodion zealously preached the Word of God and converted many of the Greek pagans and Jews to Christianity.

Enraged by the preaching of the disciple, the idol-worshippers and Jews with one accord fell upon St Herodion, and they began to beat him with sticks and pelt him with stones. One of the mob struck him with a knife, and the saint fell down. But when the murderers were gone, the Lord restored him to health unharmed.

After this, St Herodion continued to accompany the Apostle Paul for years afterward. When the holy Apostle Peter was crucified (+ c. 67), St Herodion and St Olympos were beheaded by the sword at the same time.

The holy Apostle Agabus was endowed with the gift of prophecy. He predicted (Acts 11:27-28) the famine during the reign of the emperor Claudius (41-52), and foretold the suffering of the Apostle Paul at Jerusalem (Acts 21:11). St Agabus preached in many lands, and converted many pagans to Christ.

St Rufus, whom the holy Apostle Paul mentions in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 16:11-15), was bishop of the Greek city of Thebes. St Asyncritus (Rom. 16:14) was bishop in Hyrcania (Asia Minor). St Phlegon was bishop in the city of Marathon (Thrace). St Hermes was bishop in Dalmatia (there is another Apostle of the Seventy by the name of Hermas, who was bishop in the Thracian city of Philippopolis).

All these disciples for their intrepid service to Christ underwent fierce sufferings and were found worthy of a martyr’s crown.


Apostle Agabus and those with him

Saint Agabus was one of the Seventy Apostles chosen by Christ and sent out by Him to preach (Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles: January 4).

The holy Apostle Agabus was endowed with the gift of prophecy. He predicted (Acts 11:27-28) the famine during the reign of the emperor Claudius (41-52), and foretold the suffering of the Apostle Paul at Jerusalem (Acts 21:11). St Agabus preached in many lands, and converted many pagans to Christ.


Apostle Asyncritus, of the Seventy and those with him

Saint Asyncritus was one of the Seventy Apostles chosen by Christ and sent out by Him to preach (Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles: January 4).

St Asyncritus (Rom. 16:14) was bishop in Hyrcania (Asia Minor).


Apostle Rufus of the Seventy and those with him

Saint Rufus was one of the Seventy Apostles chosen by Christ and sent out by Him to preach.

St Rufus, whom the holy Apostle Paul mentions in the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:11-15), was bishop of the Greek city of Thebes.

St Rufus is also commemorated on January 4 (The Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles).


Apostle Phlegon of the Seventy and those with him

Saint Phlegon was one of the Seventy Apostles, chosen by Christ and sent out by Him to preach (Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles: January 4). St Phlegon was bishop in the city of Marathon (Thrace).


Apostle Hermes of the Seventy, and those with him

Saint Hermes was one of the Seventy Apostles chosen by Christ and sent out by Him to preach (Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles: January 4).

St Hermes was bishop in Dalmatia (there is another Apostle of the Seventy by the name of Hermas, who was bishop in the Thracian city of Philippopolis).

All these disciples for their intrepid service to Christ underwent fierce sufferings and were found worthy of a martyr’s crown.


St Niphon the Bishop of Novgorod

Saint Niphon was a monk of the Kiev Caves Monastry, where he struggled in asceticism. In imitation of the Holy Fathers, he uprooted the passions through fasting, vigil, and prayer, and adorned himself with every virtue. He was chosen as Bishop of Novgorod when Bishop John retired to a monastery after twenty-five years of episcopal service. St Niphon was consecrated bishop in Kiev by Metropolitan Michael and other hierarchs.

St Niphon embraced his archpastoral duties with great zeal, strengthening his flock in the Orthodox Faith, and striving to prevent them from becoming separated from the Church, which is the same as being separated from Christ Himself.

The saint was also zealous in building and repairing churches. He built a new stone church in the center of Novgorod, dedicating it to the Most Holy Theotokos. He repaired the roof of the church of Holy Wisdom (Christ, the Wisdom of God), and adorned the interior with icons.

When war broke out between Novgorod and Kiev, St Niphon showed himself to be a peacemaker. Meeting with the leaders of both sides, he was able to pacify them and avert the war. In the same way, he always tried to settle arguments and to reconcile those who were at enmity.

He instructed his flock in the law of God, preaching to them, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting them patiently and with sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:2) so that they might obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory (2 Timothy 2:10).

When the people of Novgorod drove away their prince, Vsevolod, they invited Prince Svyatslav to govern them. The new prince wanted to enter into a marriage which was against the Church canons. Not only did St Niphon refuse to perform the ceremony, he also told his clergy to regard this betrothal as unlawful. Prince Svyatoslav brought priests in from elsewhere to perform the wedding, and the holy hierarch was not afraid to denounce his behavior.

After the death of Metropolitan Michael of Kiev, the Great Prince Isaiaslav wished to have the schemamonk Clement succeed him. However, he wanted to have Clement consecrated without the blessing of the Patriarch of Constantinople.

At a council of bishops, St Niphon declared that he would not approve the consecration without the permission of the Patriarch of Constantinople. He reminded the other bishops that this was contrary to the tradition of the Russian Church, for Russia had received the Orthodox Faith from Constantinople. Starting in 1448, however, the Russian Church began to elect its own primate without seeking confirmation from Constantinople.

The uncanonical consecration took place despite the objections of St Niphon. Metropolitan Clement tried to force the saint to serve the Divine Liturgy with him, but he refused. He called Clement a wolf rather than a shepherd, for he had unjustly assumed an office which he did not deserve. St Niphon refused to serve with Clement, or to commemorate him during the services.

In his fury, Clement would not permit St Niphon to return to Novgorod. Instead, he had the saint held under house arrest at the Kiev Caves Monastery. When Isaiaslav was defeated by Prince George, St Niphon returned to Novgorod, where the people welcomed him with great joy.

The Patriarch of Constantinople sent a letter praising St Niphon for his steadfast defense of church teachings. He also sent Metropolitan Constantine to Rus in order to depose Metropolitan Clement, and to assume the see of Kiev himself. St Niphon prepared to journey to Kiev to meet Metropolitan Clement.

St Niphon again took up residence in the Kiev Caves Monastery, where he became ill. Thirteen days before his death, he revealed to the brethren that he had had a wondrous dream. St Theodosius (May 3) appeared to him and announced his imminet departure from this world.

St Niphon reposed in peace on April 8, 1156. Now he stands before the throne of God, interceding for us before the All-Holy Trinity, to Whom be all glory, honor, and worship forever.


Venerable Rufus the Obedient of the Kiev Far Caves

Saint Rufus the Obedient, Hermit of the Caves, lived at the Kiev Caves monastery during the fourteenth century. He was distinguished for his obedience and glorified as a lover of labor and fasting. He was buried in the Far Caves. He is celebrated a second time on August 28, the Synaxis of the Fathers of the Far Caves.


Martyr Pausilippus of Heraclea in Thrace

The Holy Martyr Pausilippus suffered under the emperor Hadrian (117-138). Denunced by the pagans, he was brought to trial before the emperor and staunchly declared himself a Christian.

They beat him with iron rods and handed over to the governor named Precius, who for a long time attempted to make the martyr offer sacrifice to idols. The martyr remained steadfast, and finally the governor gave orders to fetter him and execute him.

Along the way, St Pausilippus prayed fervently that the Lord would spare him from the hand of the executioner and grant him a quick death. The Lord heard him. The martyr, beaten up and weak, was suddenly filled with such strength that he shattered the iron fetters and freed himself. Tossing them aside, St Pausilippus thought to escape, but he died as he fled. Christians buried the body of the martyr with reverence.


St Celestine the Pope of Rome

Saint Celestine, Pope of Rome (422-432), a zealous champion of Orthodoxy, lived during the reign of the holy Emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450). He received an excellent education, and he knew philosophy well, but most of all he studied the Holy Scripture and pondered over theological questions.

The virtuous life of the saint and his authority as a theologian won him the general esteem and love of the clergy and people. After the death of St Boniface (418-422), St Celestine was chosen to be the Bishop of Rome.

During this time, the heresy of Nestorius emerged. At a local Council in Rome in 430, St Celestine denounced this heresy and condemned Nestorius as a heretic. After the Council, St Celestine wrote a letter to St Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria (January 18), stating that if Nestorius did not renounce his false teachings after ten days, then he should be deposed and excommunicated.

St Celestine also sent a series of letters to other churches, Constantinople and Antioch, in which he unmasked and denounced the Nestorian heresy.

For two years after the Council, St Celestine proclaimed the true teaching about Christ the God-Man, and he died in peace on April 6, 432.


Icon of the Mother of God “Spanish”

The Spanish Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, which is one of the Panachranta type, depicts the Mother of God seated upon a throne.