Lives of all saints commemorated on May 11


Bright Saturday

The artos, which was blessed after the Liturgy of Pascha, is cut and distributed after Liturgy on Bright Saturday. The prayer read today speaks of Christ as the Bread of Life.


Commemoration of the Founding of Constantinople

In 324 the holy Emperor Constantine (May 21) decided that the imperial capital had to be closer to the Eastern provinces, and yet have direct communication with the West. The city of Byzantium fulfilled these requirements, and on November 8, 324 the site of the new capital was consecrated.

Tradition tells us that the Emperor was tracing the boundaries of the city with a spear, when his courtiers became astonished by the magnitude of the new dimensions of the capital. “Lord,” they asked, “how long will you keep going?”

Constantine replied, “I shall keep going until the one who walks ahead of me stops.”

Then they understood that the emperor was being guided by some divine power. There is an iconographic sketch by Rallis Kopsides showing an angel of the Lord going before St Constantine as he traces the new boundaries of the city.

Construction of the main buildings was begun in 325, and pagan monuments from Rome, Athens, and other cities were used to beautify the new capital. The need for the new city is partially explained by the changing requirements of government, the Germanic invasion of the West, and commercial benefits, but the new city was also to be a Christian capital. For this, a new foundation was required.

In 330, the work had progressed to the point where it was possible for Constantine to dedicate the new capital. The dedication took place on May 11, followed by forty days of joyous celebration. Christian Constantinople was placed under the protection of the Most Holy Theotokos, and overshadowed pagan Byzantium. St Constantine was the first Emperor to submit voluntarily to Christ, and Constantinople became the symbol of a Christian Empire which lasted for a thousand years.


Hieromartyr Mocius the Presbyter of Amphipolis in Macedonia

Saint Mocius was a presbyter in Macedonia in the city of Amphipolis. During a persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), St Mocius exhorted the pagans who had assembled for the pagan festival of Dionysus (Bacchus), to abandon iniquity and the vile customs which accompanied this celebration. He urged them to repent and be converted to the Lord Jesus Christ, and be cleansed through holy Baptism.

The saint was brought to trial before the governor of Laodicea. When threatened with torture, he replied, “My death for Christ is a great accomplishment for me.” St Mocius was subjected to torture, which he bore with marvelous endurance, and did not cease to denounce the idol-worshippers.

Taken to the pagan temple of Dionysus, the saint shattered the idols when he called upon Jesus Christ. After this he was put into a red-hot oven, where he remained unharmed, but the flames coming out of the oven scorched the governor.

Again the commander subjected St Mocius to fierce torture, which he endured with the help of God. He was given to wild beasts to be eaten, but they did not touch him. The lions lay down at his feet. The people, seeing such miracles, urged that the saint be set free. The governor ordered the saint to be sent to the city of Perinth, and from there to Byzantium, where St Mocius was executed.

Before his death he gave thanks to the Lord for giving him the strength to persevere to the very end. His last words were, “Lord, receive my spirit in peace.” Then he was beheaded. St Mocius died about the year 295. Later, the emperor Constantine built a church in honor of the hieromartyr Mocius and transferred his holy passion-bearing relics into it.


Equal of the Apostles and Teacher of the Slavs, Cyril

Saints Cyril and Methodius, Equals of the Apostles, and Enlighteners of the Slavs came from an illustrious and pious family living in the Greek city of Thessalonica. St Methodius was the oldest of seven brothers, St Constantine [Cyril was his monastic name] was the youngest. At first St Methodius was in the military and was governor in one of the Slavic principalities dependent on the Byzantine Empire, probably Bulgaria, which made it possible for him to learn the Slavic language. After living there for about ten years, St Methodius later received monastic tonsure at one of the monasteries on Mount Olympus (Asia Minor).

St Constantine distinguished himself by his great aptitude, and he studied with the emperor Michael under the finest teachers in Constantinople, including St Photius, the future Patriarch of Constantinople (February 6).

St Constantine studied all the sciences of his time, and also knew several languages. He also studied the works of St Gregory the Theologian. Because of his keen mind and penetrating intellect, St Constantine was called “Philosopher” (wise). Upon the completion of his education, St Constantine was ordained to the holy priesthood and was appointed curator of the patriarchal library at the church of Hagia Sophia. He soon left the capital and went secretly to a monastery.

Discovered there, he returned to Constantinople, where he was appointed as instructor in philosophy. The young Constantine’s wisdom and faith were so great that he won a debate with Ananias, the leader of the heretical iconclasts . After this victory Constantine was sent by the emperor to discuss the Holy Trinity with the Saracens, and again he gained the victory. When he returned, St Constantine went to his brother St Methodius on Olympus, spending his time in unceasing prayer and reading the works of the holy Fathers.

The emperor soon summoned both of the holy brothers from the monastery and sent them to preach the Gospel to the Khazars. Along the way they stayed in the city of Korsun, making preparations for their missionary activity. There the holy brothers miraculously discovered the relics of the hieromartyr Clement, Pope of Rome (November 25).

There in Korsun St Constantine found a Gospel and Psalter written in Russian letters [i.e. Slavonic], and a man speaking the Slavic tongue, and he learned from this man how to read and speak this language. After this, the holy brothers went to the Khazars, where they won a debate with Jews and Moslems by preaching the Gospel. On the way home, the brothers again visited Korsun and, taking up the relics of St Clement, they returned to Constantinople. St Constantine remained in the capital, but St Methodius was made igumen of the small Polychronion monastery near Mount Olympus, where he lived a life of asceticism as before.

Soon messengers came to the emperor from the Moravian prince Rostislav, who was under pressure from German bishops, with a request to send teachers to Moravia who would be able to preach in the Slavic tongue. The emperor summoned St Constantine and said to him, “You must go there, but it would be better if no one knows about this.”

St Constantine prepared for the new task with fasting and prayer. With the help of his brother St Methodius and the disciples Gorazd, Clement, Sava, Naum and Angelyar, he devised a Slavonic alphabet and translated the books which were necessary for the celebration of the divine services: the Gospel, Epistles, Psalter, and collected services, into the Slavic tongue. This occurred in the year 863.

After completing the translation, the holy brothers went to Moravia, where they were received with great honor, and they began to teach the services in the Slavic language. This aroused the malice of the German bishops, who celebrated divine services in the Moravian churches in Latin. They rose up against the holy brothers, convinced that divine services must be done in one of three languages: Hebrew, Greek or Latin.

St Constantine said, “You only recognize three languages in which God may be glorified. But David sang, ‘Praise the Lord, all nations, praise the Lord all peoples (Ps 116/117:1).’ And the Gospel of St Matthew (28:18) says, ‘Go and teach all nations....’” The German bishops were humiliated, but they became bitter and complained to Rome.

The holy brothers were summoned to Rome for a decision on this matter. Taking with them the relics of St Clement, Sts Constantine and Methodius set off to Rome. Knowing that the holy brothers were bringing these relics with them, Pope Adrian met them along the way with his clergy. The holy brothers were greeted with honor, the Pope gave permission to have divine services in the Slavonic language, and he ordered the books translated by the brothers to be placed in the Latin churches, and to serve the Liturgy in the Slavonic language.

At Rome St Constantine fell ill, and the Lord revealed to him his approaching death. He was tonsured into the monastic schema with the name of Cyril. On February 14, 869, fifty days after receiving the schema, St Cyril died at the age of forty-two.

St Cyril commanded his brother St Methodius to continue with their task of enlightening the Slavic peoples with the light of the true Faith. St Methodius entreated the Pope to send the body of his brother for burial in their native land, but the Pope ordered the relics of St Cyril to be placed in the church of St Clement, where miracles began to occur from them.

After the death of St Cyril, the Pope sent St Methodius to Pannonia, after consecrating him as Archbishop of Moravia and Pannonia, on the ancient throne of St Andronicus (July 30). In Pannonia St Methodius and his disciples continued to distribute services books written in the Slavonic language. This again aroused the wrath of the German bishops. They arrested and tried St Methodius, who was sent in chains to Swabia, where he endured many sufferings for two and a half years.

After being set free by order of Pope John VIII of Rome, and restored to his archdiocese, St Methodius continued to preach the Gospel among the Slavs. He baptized the Czech prince Borivoi and his wife Ludmilla (September 16), and also one of the Polish princes. The German bishops began to persecute the saint for a third time, because he did not accept the erroneous teaching about the procession of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son. St Methodius was summoned to Rome, but he justified himself before the Pope, and preserved the Orthodox teaching in its purity, and was sent again to the capital of Moravia, Velehrad.

Here in the remaining years of his life St Methodius, assisted by two of his former pupils, translated the entire Old Testament into Slavonic, except for the Book of Maccabbees, and even the Nomocanon (Rule of the holy Fathers) and Paterikon (book of the holy Fathers).

Sensing the nearness of death, St Methodius designated one of his students, Gorazd, as a worthy successor to himself. The holy bishop predicted the day of his death and died on April 6, 885 when he was about sixty years old. The saint’s burial service was chanted in three languages, Slavonic, Greek, and Latin. He was buried in the cathedral church of Velehrad.


Equal of the Apostles and Teacher of the Slavs, Methodius

Saint Methodius, Equal of the Apostles, and Enlightener of the Slavs, came from an illustrious and pious family living in the Greek city of Thessalonica. St Methodius was the oldest of seven brothers, St Constantine [Cyril was his monastic name] was the youngest. At first St Methodius was in the military and was governor in one of the Slavic principalities dependent on the Byzantine Empire, probably Bulgaria, which made it possible for him to learn the Slavic language. After living there for about ten years, St Methodius later received monastic tonsure at one of the monasteries on Mount Olympus (Asia Minor).

St Constantine eventually joined his brother St Methodius on Olympus, spending his time in unceasing prayer and reading the works of the holy Fathers.

The emperor soon summoned both of the holy brothers from the monastery and sent them to preach the Gospel to the Khazars. Along the way they stayed in the city of Korsun, making preparations for their missionary activity. There the holy brothers miraculously discovered the relics of the hieromartyr Clement, Pope of Rome (November 25).

There in Korsun St Constantine found a Gospel and Psalter written in Russian letters [i.e. Slavonic], and a man speaking the Slavic tongue, and he learned from this man how to read and speak this language. After this, the holy brothers went to the Khazars, where they won a debate with Jews and Moslems by preaching the Gospel. On the way home, the brothers again visited Korsun, then returned to Constantinople with the relics of St Clement.

St Constantine remained in the capital, but St Methodius was made igumen of the small Polychronion monastery near Mount Olympus, where he lived a life of asceticism as before.

Soon messengers came to the emperor from the Moravian prince Rostislav, who was under pressure from German bishops, requesting him to send teachers to Moravia who could preach in the Slavic tongue. The emperor summoned St Constantine and said to him, “You must go there, but it would be better if no one knows about this.”

St Constantine prepared for the new task with fasting and prayer. With the help of his brother St Methodius and the disciples Gorazd, Clement, Sava, Naum and Angelyar, he devised a Slavonic alphabet and translated the books which were necessary for the celebration of the divine services: the Gospel, Epistles, Psalter, and collected services, into the Slavic tongue. This occurred in the year 863.

After completing the translation, the holy brothers went to Moravia, where they were received with great honor, and they began to teach the services in the Slavic language. This aroused the malice of the German bishops, who celebrated divine services in the Moravian churches in Latin. They rose up against the holy brothers, convinced that divine services must be done in one of three languages: Hebrew, Greek or Latin.

St Constantine said, “You only recognize three languages in which God may be glorified. But David sang, ‘Praise the Lord, all nations, praise the Lord all peoples (Ps 116/117:1).’ And the Gospel of St Matthew (28:18) says, ‘Go and teach all nations....’” The German bishops were humiliated, but they became bitter and complained to Rome.

The holy brothers were summoned to Rome for a decision on this matter. Taking with them the relics of St Clement, Sts Constantine and Methodius set off to Rome. Knowing that the holy brothers were bringing these relics with them, Pope Adrian met them along the way with his clergy. The holy brothers were greeted with honor, the Pope gave permission to have divine services in the Slavonic language, and he ordered the books translated by the brothers to be placed in the Latin churches, and to serve the Liturgy in the Slavonic language.

At Rome St Constantine fell ill, and the Lord revealed to him his approaching death. He was tonsured into the monastic schema with the name of Cyril. On February 14, 869, fifty days after receiving the schema, St Cyril died at the age of forty-two.

St Cyril commanded his brother St Methodius to continue with their task of enlightening the Slavic peoples with the light of the true Faith. St Methodius entreated the Pope to send the body of his brother for burial in their native land, but the Pope ordered the relics of St Cyril to be placed in the church of St Clement, where miracles began to occur from them.

After the death of St Cyril, the Pope sent St Methodius to Pannonia, after consecrating him as Archbishop of Moravia and Pannonia, on the ancient throne of St Andronicus (July 30). In Pannonia St Methodius and his disciples continued to distribute services books written in the Slavonic language. This again aroused the wrath of the German bishops. They arrested and tried St Methodius, who was sent in chains to Swabia, where he endured many sufferings for two and a half years.

After being set free by order of Pope John VIII of Rome, and restored to his archdiocese, St Methodius continued to preach the Gospel among the Slavs. He baptized the Czech prince Borivoi and his wife Ludmilla (September 16), and also one of the Polish princes. The German bishops began to persecute the saint for a third time, because he did not accept the erroneous teaching about the procession of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son. St Methodius was summoned to Rome, but he justified himself before the Pope, and preserved the Orthodox teaching in its purity, and was sent again to the capital of Moravia, Velehrad.

Here in the remaining years of his life St Methodius, assisted by two of his former pupils, translated the entire Old Testament into Slavonic, except for the Book of Maccabbees, and even the Nomocanon (Rule of the holy Fathers) and Paterikon (book of the holy Fathers).

Sensing the nearness of death, St Methodius designated one of his students, Gorazd, as a worthy successor to himself. The holy bishop predicted the day of his death and died on April 6, 885 when he was about sixty years old. The saint’s burial service was chanted in three languages, Slavonic, Greek, and Latin. He was buried in the cathedral church of Velehrad.


Venerable Sophronius the Recluse of the Kiev Far Caves

The Relics of Saint Sophronius were buried in the Far Caves of the Kiev Caves monastery. In the Canon to the monks of the Far Caves the saint’s solitary ascetical struggles are mentioned. He was deemed worthy to hear angels singing. The memory of St Sophronius is also celebrated on March 11.


St Joseph the Metropolitan of Astrakhan

The Hieromartyr Joseph, First Metropolitan of Astrakhan, was born at Astrakhan in 1579. After becoming a monk, St Joseph was made Archimandrite of the Astrakhan Trinity monastery at the age of fifty-two.

In 1656 he was at Moscow, after which he was chosen to be Metropolitan of Astrakhan. On May 11,1672, during an uprising of the townspeople, St Joseph suffered martyrdom at Astrakhan. This sad event was recorded in detail by two eyewitnesses, priests of the Astrakhan cathedral, Cyril and Peter.

The priests took the body of the martyr, dressed it in bishop’s vestments, and placed it in a prepared grave. On the following day, after serving a Panikhida, the saint’s body was taken to a chapel, and it remained unburied for nine days. The relics of the holy hierarch were placed into the grave, and were soon glorified by miracles.

St Joseph was glorified at the Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in April 1918.


St Nicodemus the Archbishop of Serbia

Saint Nicodemus, Archbishop of Serbia, was Igumen of the Hilandar monastery on Mount Athos, and was consecrated bishop in the year 1316. In 1319 he translated the TYPIKON of St Sava the Sanctified of Jerusalem into the Slavonic language, and ordered it to be used in Serbia.

St Nicodemus died in the year 1325.


St Rostislav the Prince of Great Moravia

No information on the life of this saint is available at this time.


New Martyr Dioscorus

No information available at this time.


New Martyr Argyrus

No information available at this time.


Blessed Christopher, called Christesia

Blessed Christesia’s family was from Egrisi in western Georgia. From his youth Christesia longed for the divine services and the solitary life, but he was forced by his master to marry, and by this marriage he begot a son. Later, when both his wife and son had died, his master insisted that he

marry again, but the pious Christesia would not heed his master’s order.

Instead he related the order to his spiritual father, who advised him to depart from the world and journey to the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. Deeply inspired by his spiritual father’s counsel, Christesia abandoned his possessions and his life in the world and withdrew to the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in the Davit-Gareji Wilderness.

The holy father spent many years in humble service to the Lord. He was assigned to gather firewood and bring water for the monastery, and he performed these tasks obediently and in perfect meekness. Every day he walked over four miles to fill a pitcher with water and then carried it to a small hut nearby. He hung the pitcher at the entrance to make it visible from a distance, and travelers who passed by would come to quench their thirst.

He also kept a small vegetable garden to feed the passers-by. Every Saturday he prepared kolio (a dish of wheat and honey traditionally offered to commemorate the departed) and divided it in three parts: one part commemorated the family and loved ones of those who had donated the wheat and honey; the second, the deceased fathers of the monastery; and the last, all departed Orthodox Christians.

It always disturbed St. Christesia to see his brothers and sisters at odds with one another, so when he heard that two people were quarreling, he would go and reconcile them. “My children!” he would say, “If you do not heed my words, I will leave in sorrow, and the devil, who is always resistant to peace, will rejoice and send more tribulations upon you. I came to you hungry, and I will depart hungry!” His words warmed the hearts of those whom he counseled and helped them to be reconciled with one another.

One hot evening after Vespers, St. Christesia set off on foot for a certain village. He left during twilight, and when night fell the sky was without a moon and extraordinarily dark. Before long it became difficult to walk any farther, so St. Christesia stopped to pray, and a bright light appeared before him to light the way. The divine light guided him all through the night, until he reached the village of Sartichala.

St. Christesia’s cell was poor and cramped. He slept on a bed of wooden planks that he covered in sheepskin, and instead of a pillow he rested his head on a stone. The pious ascetic wore a sheepskin coat and sandals made of bark. Whatever he received he gave to the poor. Having placed complete trust in God, he would not permit himself to worry about the morrow, nor did he bother to store up food or supplies for the harsh winter months.

Father Christesia was already advanced in age when he was tonsured a monk and given the new name Christopher. He reposed peacefully in 1771, at the age of eighty.