Lives of all saints commemorated on May 26


Sunday of the Paralytic

On this day the Church remembers the man who lay by the Sheep’s Pool in Jerusalem for thirty-eight years, waiting for someone to put him into the pool. The first one to enter the pool after an angel troubled the water would be healed of his infirmities, but someone always entered the pool before him.

Seeing the man, the Lord felt compassion for him and healed him.

The Kontakion for this Fourth Sunday of Pascha asks Christ to raise up our souls, “paralyzed by sins and thoughtless acts.”


Apostle Carpus of the Seventy

Saint Carpus was one of the Seventy Apostles chosen and sent forth to preach by Christ (Luke 10:1). He was bishop of Verria in Macedonia.


Apostle Alphaeus of the Seventy

The Holy Apostle Alphaeus of the Seventy came from the Galilean city of Capernaum and was the father of the Apostles James and Matthew.


Greatmartyr George the New at Sofia, Bulgaria

The Holy Martyr George the New was born into an illustrious Bulgarian family, living in the capital city of Bulgaria, Sredets (now the city of Sofia). St George’s childless parents, John and Mary, in their declining years entreated the Lord to send them a child. Their prayer was answered, and they baptized the infant with the name of the holy Great Martyr George (April 23).

Young George received a fine upbringing, he attentively studied the Holy Scriptures, and he was pious and chaste. His parents died when George was twenty-five. At that time Bulgaria found itself under the rule of the Turks, who forcibly converted Christians to Islam.

Once, several Moslems tried to convert George. They put a fez on the saint’s head. This is a red circular hat which Moslems wear to enter their house of prayer. But George threw the fez on the ground. The Turks brought the martyr to their governor with beatings and abuse.

The governor was impressed with St George’s appearance and bearing, and he urged him to accept Islam, promising honors and wealth from Sultan Selim (1512-1520). The saint boldly and steadfastly confessed his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and reproached the errors of Islam. The governor in a rage gave orders to beat St George with rods, but the saint persevered in his confession of faith in Christ.

The governor ordered the tortures to be increased. The passion-bearer bore all his sufferings, calling on the Lord Jesus Christ for help. Then they led the martyr through the city to the beat of a drum and shouts: “Do not insult Mohammed nor abase the Moslem faith”.

Finally, a large fire was lit in the city, to burn St George. Weakened by his wounds, the saint fell to the ground. They threw him into the fire still alive, and they threw corpses of dogs on top of him so that Christians would not be able to find the relics of the martyr.

Suddenly, a heavy rain fell and extinguished the fire. With the onset of darkness, the place where the body of the martyr was thrown was illumined with a bright light. They gave permission to a certain Christian priest to take the venerable relics of the martyr for burial. Informed about the occurrence, Metropolitan Jeremiah and his clergy went to the place of execution. In the ashes of the fire they located the body of the holy Martyr George and carried it to the church of St George the Great Martyr in the city of Sredets.


Uncovering of the relics of the Venerable Macarius the Abbot of Kalyazin

The Uncovering of the Relics of St Macarius of Kalyazin occurred on May 26, 1521. A merchant from the city of Dmitrov, Michael Voronkov, offered the means for the construction of a stone church to replace the decaying wooden one at the Kalyazin monastery.

The igumen of the monastery, Joasaph, set up a cross at the spot designated for the altar, and gave a blessing to dig the trench for the foundation. During the work a grave was discovered, exuding an ineffable fragrance. Igumen Joasaph immediately recognized the grave of the monastery’s founder, St Macarius, who reposed in the year 1483.

The brethren of the monastery and a crowd of people sang a Panikhida during the transfer of the coffin to the church. From that day the incorrupt relics of the saint began to work healings. A report about this was made to Metropolitan Daniel of Moscow (1522-1539), who convened a Council at Moscow. After examining testimony about the sanctity of Macarius, he established a Feast day for the newly-appeared saint. The relics were solemnly transferred to the church of the Holy Trinity.

Theodosius of Tver composed the service for the Uncovering of the Relics. Until 1547, St Macarius was venerated only at this monastery. During the Moscow Council of 1547 under Metropolitan Macarius (1543-1564), St Macarius of Kalyazin was numbered among the saints, and his name added to the calendar of other Russian saints to be celebrated throughout all of Russia.

The Life of St Macarius of Kalyazin is found under March 17, the day of his blessed repose.


Martyr Abercius the son of the Apostle Alphaeus

According to Tradition, the Holy Martyrs Abercius and Helen were children of the holy Apostle Alphaeus. For confessing faith in Christ, St Abercius was tied naked to a beehive and died from the bees’ sting.


Martyr Helen the Daughter of the Apostle Alphaeus

According to Tradition, the Holy Martyrs Helen and Abercius, were children of the holy Apostle Alphaeus. For confessing faith in Christ, St Helen, was pelted with stones.


St John Psichaita the Confessor, of Constantinople

Saint John Psichaita the Confessor lived during the end of the eighth or the beginning of the ninth century. In his youth he left the secular world and became a monk in the Psichaita Lavra (in the suburbs of Constantinople).

Because of his holy life and deeds, he received from God the gift to cast out demons and to heal the sick. During this time the heresy of the iconoclasts was raging, and those venerating holy icons were subjected to persecution.

St John was led away for interrogation, and they tried to force him to sign a document renouncing the veneration of holy icons. Instead of renouncing the holy icons, the saint denounced his persecutors, calling the emperor Leo the Isaurian (717-741) a heretic. Therefore, they sent St John into exile. He died, having suffered much from the iconoclasts.


St Augustine of Canterbury, Evangelizer of England

Saint Augustine was from Italy, and a disciple of St Felix, Bishop of Messana. St Gregory Dialogus (March12) chose him to lead a mission of forty monks to evangelize the people of Britain. They arrived at Ebbsfleet (on the isle of Thanet) in Kent in 597.

King Ethelbert, whose Frankish wife Bertha was a Christian, welcomed them. They were allowed to base their mission at the ancient church of St Martin in Canterbury, which was restored for their use. This church had been built during the Roman occupation of Britain, and the queen often went there to pray. At first, the king was reluctant to give up his pagan beliefs, but he promised not to harm them, and to supply them with whatever they needed. He also promised that he would not prevent them from preaching Christianity. St Augustine later converted the king to Christianity, along with thousands of his subjects. The holy right-believing King Ethelbert is commemorated on February 25.

Bede says that St Augustine was consecrated as Archbishop of Britain by Archbishop Etherius of Arles (others say that it was his successor St Virgilius of Arles [March 5] who consecrated St Augustine). Returning to Britain, he threw himself into the work of evangelizing the country with renewed zeal. St Augustine built Christ Church, predecessor of the present cathedral at Canterbury, and consecrated it on June 9, 603 (according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle). He also founded the monastery of Sts Peter and Paul east of the city. Here St Augustine, the Archbishops of Canterbury, and the Kings of Kent were buried. The monastery, now in ruins, was later known as St Augustine’s Monastery.

The saint was instrumental in founding the dioceses of Rochester and London. In 604 he consecrated St Justus (November 10) and St Mellitus (April 24) as bishops for those Sees. St Augustine also helped the king draft the earliest Anglo-Saxon laws, and founded a school in Canterbury.

Saint Augustine was not completely successful in all his efforts, however. He was not able to achieve unity with the already existing Christian communities who followed Celtic practices. He met with some of their bishops to urge them to abandon their Celtic traditions and to accept the Roman practices. He invited them to cooperate with him in evangelizing the country, but they refused to give up their ancient traditions. . Before meeting with St Augustine in 603, the Celtic bishops asked a holy hermit whether or not to accept Augustine as their leader. The hermit replied, “If he rises to greet you, then accept him. If he remains seated, then he is arrogant and unfit to be your leader, and you should reject him.” Unfortunately, St Augustine did not rise to greet them. Perhaps St Augustine was, to some degree, a bit tactless and too insistent on conformity to Roman customs. On the other hand, Celtic resentment against Roman authority also contributed to the stormy relationship.

Known in his lifetime as a wonderworker, St Augustine fell asleep in the Lord on May 26, 604. He was laid to rest at the entrance of the unfinished church of Sts Peter and Paul. When the church was dedicated in 613, his holy relics were placed inside. An epitaph was composed for his tomb. In part, it reads: “Here lies the Lord Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, sent here by blessed Gregory, bishop of the city of Rome, who with the help of God, and aided by miracles, guided King Ethelbert and his people from the worship of idols to the Faith of Christ.”

St Bede (May 27) gives detailed information about St Augustine’s mission to Britain in his HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH AND PEOPLE (Book I, 23-33. Book II, 1-3).