Lives of all saints commemorated on April 20


5th Saturday of Great Lent: of the Akathist to the Theotokos

On the Fifth Saturday of Great Lent, the Saturday of the Akathist, we commemorate the “Laudation of the Virgin” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.

In 625, when the emperor Heraclius was fighting the Persians, the Khan sent forces to attack Constantinople by land and by sea. Patriarch Sergius urged the people not to lose heart, but to trust in God.

A procession was made around the city with the Cross of the Lord, the robe of the Virgin, the Icon of the Savior not made by hands, and the Hodigitria Icon of the Mother of God. The Patriarch dipped the Virgin’s robe in the sea, and the city’s defenders beat back the Khan’s sea forces. The sea became very rough, and many boats sank. The invaders retreated, and the people of Constantinople gave thanks to God and to His Most Pure Mother.

On two other occasions, in 655 and 705, the Theotokos protected the city from Saracen invaders. A feastday dedicated to the Laudation of the Virgin was established to commemorate these victories. The Akathist to the Mother of God is believed to originate from this period, and its use has spread from Constantinople to other Orthodox lands.

The icon before which the Akathist was sung was given to the Dionysiou Monastery on Mt. Athos by Emperor Alexius Comnenos. There, it began to flow with myrrh. There were at least three wonderworking copies of this icon in Russia before the Revolution.

This icon shows the Mother of God seated on a throne, and surrounded by Prophets with scrolls.


Venerable Theodore Trichinas “the Hair-Shirt Wearer” and Hermit Near Constantinople

Saint Theodore Trichinas was born in Constantinople, the son of wealthy and pious parents. From childhood St Theodore was inclined toward monasticism, so he left his home, family, and former life in order to enter a monastery in Thrace. There he began his arduous ascetic struggles. He dressed in a hair-shirt, from which he derived the name “Trichinas,” (or Hair-Shirt Wearer”). He even slept on a stone in order avoid bodily comfort, and to prevent himself from sleeping too much.

His life was adorned with miracles, and he had the power to heal the sick. He reposed at the end of the fourth century, or the beginning of the fifth century. A healing myrrh flows from his relics.

The name of St Theodore Trichinas is one of the most revered in the history of Orthodox monasticism. St Joseph the Hymnographer (April 4) has composed a Canon to the saint.


Venerable Alexander the Abbot of Oshevensk

Saint Alexander of Oshevensk (+ 1479) was the founder of the Oshevensk Dormition Monastery, and enlightener of the Kargopol area, and was tonsured in the White Lake Monastery. He appeared to St Diodorus of George Hill (November 27) in the seventeenth century when his Holy Trinity Monastery ran out of supplies, and the brethren complained because there was nowhere to buy food in the wilderness. St Alexander reminded Diodorus of how the Lord had fed the five thousand in the wilderness, and ordered him to go fishing. St Diodorus, fearing that the vision was a demonic delusion, ignored it. When St Alexander appeared a third time, Diodorus, wishing to test him, asked him to say a prayer. St Alexander recited “It is Truly Meet,” and his face shone with a radiant light. The saint revealed himself as Alexander, the igumen of Oshevensk Dormition Monastery, and repeated his order to go fishing. Obeying this command, the monks went out and caught many fish.


Childmartyr Gabriel of Bialystok

Child Martyr Gabriel of Bialystok (+ 1690) was killed in Poland when he was only six years old. One day when his parents were not home, he was lured out of his house by a man named Schutko, and then killed. After thirty years, the martyred child’s body was found to be incorrupt.


Blessed Gregory the Patriarch of Antioch

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Blessed Anastasius the Sinaite and Patriarch of Antioch

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Venerable Anastasius the Abbot of Sinai

Saint Anastasius of Sinai lived in the seventh century, and was one of the great ascetics who flourished on Mt. Sinai.

From his youth, he was raised in great piety and love for God. When he reached manhood, St Anastasius left the world and entered a monastery to take upon himself the yoke of Christ (Mt.11:29). Wishing to perfect himself in virtue, he went to St Catherine’s Monastery on Mt. Sinai, where St John of the Ladder (March 30) was abbot. There he profited from the example of many holy men who were proficient in monasticism.

Because of his humility, St Anastasius received wisdom and spiritual discernment from God. He wrote the Lives of several holy Fathers, as well as other spiritually instructive books. In time, he was found worthy of ordination to the holy priesthood.

Following St John and his brother George, St Anastasius became abbot of Sinai. He was most zealous in his opposition to heresy, exposing it, refuting it, and covering its adherants with shame. He even traveled to Syria, Egypt, and Arabia to uproot heresy and strengthen the Church of Christ.

St Anastasius taught that God gives each Christian an angel to care for him throughout his life. However, we can drive our Guardian Angel away by our sins, just as bees are driven away by smoke. While the demons work to deprive us of the heavenly Kingdom, the holy angels guide us to do good. Therefore, only the most foolish individuals would drive away their Guardian Angel from themselves.

After a long life of faithfully serving God, St Anastasius fell asleep in the Lord in the year 685. He and the other ascetics of Mt. Sinai are also commemorated on Bright Wednesday, the Synaxis of the Monastic Fathers of Sinai.


St Betran the Bishop of Lesser Scythia

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St Theotimus the Bishop of Lesser Scythia

Saint Theotimus the Scythian was Bishop of Tomis in Scythia. He was a native of Dacia Pontica, and was part Roman. He is believed to have been the teacher of St John Cassian (February 29) and St Germanus, because he was once living in the same monastery as they were.

Somewhere between 385-390, St Theotimus succeeded St Germanus as Bishop of Tomis. St Jerome mentions him in his book ON ILLUSTRIUS MEN. He describes St Theotimus as a good pastor, a wise theologian, and a talented writer. He also says that St Theotimus used to write short works in the form of dialogues, which reveal his training in rhetoric and philosophy.

In his writings, St Theotimus speaks of the role of the mind and the heart in prayer. Perhaps because of this he is considered to be the Father of the Romanian PHILOKALIA.

St Theotimus sometimes endured hardships from wandering barbarians, but he impressed them with the holiness of his life and the miracles he performed. He also had close ties with St John Chrysostom, and visited Constantinople at least twice.

Sometime around 410, St Theotimus fell asleep in the Lord. Ancient historians also refer to him as “the Philosopher.”


Translation of the relics of St Nicholas of Zhicha

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St Joseph of Serbia

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Apostle Zacchaeus

Holy Apostle Zacchaeus

The holy Apostle Zacchaeus was a rich publican at Jericho. Since he was short of stature, he climbed a sycamore tree in order to see the Savior passing by. After the Ascension of the Lord, St Zacchaeus accompanied St Peter on his travels. Tradition says he became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, where he died in peace.

The Gospel (Luke 19:1-10) describing Zacchaeus’ encounter with Christ is read on the Sunday before the TRIODION begins.


St Athanasius of Meteora

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