Lives of all saints commemorated on June 23


Holy Pentecost

In the Church’s annual liturgical cycle, Pentecost is “the last and great day.” It is the celebration by the Church of the coming of the Holy Spirit as the end—the achievement and fulfillment—of the entire history of salvation. For the same reason, however, it is also the celebration of the beginning: it is the “birthday” of the Church as the presence among us of the Holy Spirit, of the new life in Christ, of grace, knowledge, adoption to God and holiness.

This double meaning and double joy is revealed to us, first of all, in the very name of the feast. Pentecost in Greek means fifty, and in the sacred biblical symbolism of numbers, the number fifty symbolizes both the fulness of time and that which is beyond time: the Kingdom of God itself. It symbolizes the fulness of time by its first component: 49, which is the fulness of seven (7 x 7): the number of time. And, it symbolizes that which is beyond time by its second component: 49 + 1, this one being the new day, the “day without evening” of God’s eternal Kingdom. With the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s disciples, the time of salvation, the Divine work of redemption has been completed, the fulness revealed, all gifts bestowed: it belongs to us now to “appropriate” these gifts, to be that which we have become in Christ: participants and citizens of His Kingdom.

THE VIGIL OF PENTECOST

The all-night Vigil service begins with a solemn invitation:

“Let us celebrate Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit,
The appointed day of promise, and the fulfillment of hope,
The mystery which is as great as it is precious.”

In the coming of the Spirit, the very essence of the Church is revealed:

“The Holy Spirit provides all,
Overflows with prophecy, fulfills the priesthood,
Has taught wisdom to illiterates, has revealed fishermen as theologians,
He brings together the whole council of the Church.”

In the three readings of the Old Testament (Numbers 11:16-17, 24-29; Joel 2:23-32; Ezekiel 36:24-28) we hear the prophecies concerning the Holy Spirit. We are taught that the entire history of mankind was directed towards the day on which God “would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh.” This day has come! All hope, all promises, all expectations have been fulfilled. At the end of the Aposticha hymns, for the first time since Easter, we sing the hymn: “O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth...,” the one with which we inaugurate all our services, all prayers, which is, as it were, the life-breath of the Church, and whose coming to us, whose “descent” upon us in this festal Vigil, is indeed the very experience of the Holy Spirit “coming and abiding in us.”

Having reached its climax, the Vigil continues as an explosion of joy and light for “verily the light of the Comforter has come and illumined the world.” In the Gospel reading (John 20:19-23) the feast is interpreted to us as the feast of the Church, of her divine nature, power and authority. The Lord sends His disciples into the world, as He Himself was sent by His Father. Later, in the antiphons of the Liturgy, we proclaim the universality of the apostles’ preaching, the cosmical significance of the feast, the sanctification of the whole world, the true manifestation of God’s Kingdom.

THE VESPERS OF PENTECOST

The liturgical peculiarity of Pentecost is a very special Vespers of the day itself. Usually this service follows immediately the Divine Liturgy, is “added” to it as its own fulfillment. The service begins as a solemn “summing up” of the entire celebration, as its liturgical synthesis. We hold flowers in our hands symbolizing the joy of the eternal spring, inaugurated by the coming of the Holy Spirit. After the festal Entrance, this joy reaches its climax in the singing of the Great Prokeimenon:

“Who is so great a God as our God?”

Then, having reached this climax, we are invited to kneel. This is our first kneeling since Easter. It signifies that after these fifty days of Paschal joy and fulness, of experiencing the Kingdom of God, the Church now is about to begin her pilgrimage through time and history. It is evening again, and the night approaches, during which temptations and failures await us, when, more than anything else, we need Divine help, that presence and power of the Holy Spirit, who has already revealed to us the joyful End, who now will help us in our effort towards fulfillment and salvation.

All this is revealed in the three prayers which the celebrant reads now as we all kneel and listen to him. In the first prayer, we bring to God our repentance, our increased appeal for forgiveness of sins, the first condition for entering into the Kingdom of God.

In the second prayer, we ask the Holy Spirit to help us, to teach us to pray and to follow the true path in the dark and difficult night of our earthly existence. Finally, in the third prayer, we remember all those who have achieved their earthly journey, but who are united with us in the eternal God of Love.

The joy of Easter has been completed and we again have to wait for the dawn of the Eternal Day. Yet, knowing our weakness, humbling ourselves by kneeling, we also know the joy and the power of the Holy Spirit who has come. We know that God is with us, that in Him is our victory.

Thus is completed the feast of Pentecost and we enter “the ordinary time” of the year. Yet, every Sunday now will be called “after Pentecost”—and this means that it is from the power and light of these fifty days that we shall receive our own power, the Divine help in our daily struggle. At Pentecost we decorate our churches with flowers and green branches—for the Church “never grows old, but is always young.” It is an evergreen, ever-living Tree of grace and life, of joy and comfort. For the Holy Spirit—“the Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life—comes and abides in us, and cleanses us from all impurity,” and fills our life with meaning, love, faith and hope.

Father Alexander Schmemann (1974)


Martyr Agrippina of Rome

The Holy Martyr Agrippina, was by birth a Roman. She did not wish to enter into marriage, and totally dedicated her life to God. During the time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Valerian (253-259) the saint went before the court and bravely confessed her faith in Christ, for which she was given over to torture. They beat the holy virgin with sticks so severely that her bones broke. Afterwards they put St Agrippina in chains, but an angel freed her from her bonds.

The holy confessor died from the tortures she endured. The Christians Bassa, Paula and Agathonike secretly took the body of the holy martyr and transported it to Sicily, where many miracles were worked at her grave. In the eleventh century the relics of the holy Martyr Agrippina were transferred to Constantinople.


Righteous Artemius of Verkola

Holy Righteous Artemius of Verkola was born in the village of Dvina Verkola around the year 1532. The son of pious parents, Artemius was a child who was courageous, meek and diligent for every good deed. On June 23, 1545 the twelve-year-old Artemius and his father were taken by surprise in a field by a thunderstorm. A clap of thunder broke right over their heads, and the child Artemius fell dead. People thought that this was a sign of God’s judgment, therefore they left the body in a pine forest without a funeral, and without burial.

Some years later, the village reader beheld a light over the place where the incorrupt body of the Righteous Artemius lay. Taken to the church of St Nicholas in 1577, the holy relics were shown to be a source of numerous healings. In this village a monastery was later built, called the Verkola. In 1918, the impious Soviets chopped the holy relics into pieces and threw them into a well. The memory of St Artemius is also celebrated on October 20.


Second Translation of the relics of St Herman the Archbishop of Kazan

Today we commemorate the second translation of the relics of Saint Herman, Archbishop of Kazan, in 1714.

St Herman is also commemorated on November 6 (his repose) and on September 25 (transfer of his relics in 1595).


Martyr Eustochius of Ancyra

The Holy Martyrs Eustochius, Gaius, Probius, Lollia and Urban suffered for Christ during the time of a persecution under the emperor Maximian (286-310).

St Eustochius was a pagan priest, but seeing the unyielding courage of the Christian martyrs, and the miracles worked by them, he converted to Christ. He went to Bishop Eudoxius of Antioch, was baptized by him, and was ordained to the priesthood. In the city of Lystra St Eustochius converted his nephew Gaius and all his household, among which included the children Probus, Lollias and Urban. Soldiers of the emperor arrested St Eustochius and took him for trial, but tortures could not turn Eustochius from his faith. They then sent the saint to the governor Agrippinus in the Galatian city of Ancyra. The newly-converted Gaius was also sent with him with his household. All of them, even the women and children, underwent fierce torture, but the martyrs did not deny Christ and so were beheaded.


Martyr Gaius of Ancyra

The Holy Martyrs Gaius, Eustochius, Probius, Lollia and Urban suffered for Christ during the time of a persecution under the emperor Maximian (286-310).

St Eustochius was a pagan priest, but seeing the unyielding courage of the Christian martyrs, and the miracles worked by them, he converted to Christ. He went to Bishop Eudoxius of Antioch, was baptized by him, and was ordained to the priesthood. In the city of Lystra St Eustochius converted his nephew Gaius and all his household, among which included the children Probus, Lollias and Urban. Soldiers of the emperor arrested St Eustochius and took him for trial, but tortures could not turn Eustochius from his faith. They then sent the saint to the governor Agrippinus in the Galatian city of Ancyra. The newly-converted Gaius was also sent with him with his household. All of them, even the women and children, underwent fierce torture, but the martyrs did not deny Christ and so were beheaded.


Martyr Probus of Ancyra

Saint Probus was the son of St Gaius, and suffered for Christ during the persecution under the emperor Maximian (286-310).

St Eustochius was a pagan priest, but seeing the unyielding courage of the Christian martyrs, and the miracles worked by them, he converted to Christ. He went to Bishop Eudoxius of Antioch, was baptized by him, and was ordained to the priesthood. In the city of Lystra St Eustochius converted his nephew Gaius and all his household, among which included the children Probus, Lollias and Urban. Soldiers of the emperor arrested St Eustochius and took him for trial, but tortures could not turn Eustochius from his faith. They then sent the saint to the governor Agrippinus in the Galatian city of Ancyra. The newly-converted Gaius was also sent with him with his household. All of them, even the women and children, underwent fierce torture, but the martyrs did not deny Christ and so were beheaded.


Martyr Lollia of Ancyra

Saint Lollia was the daughter of St Gaius, and suffered for Christ during the persecution under the emperor Maximian (286-310).

Gaius and his children Lollia, Probus, and Urban were converted by his uncle St Eustochius. Soldiers of the emperor arrested St Eustochius and took him for trial, but tortures could not turn Eustochius from his faith. They then sent the saint to the governor Agrippinus in the Galatian city of Ancyra. The newly-converted Gaius was also sent with him with his household. All of them, even the women and children, underwent fierce torture, but the martyrs did not deny Christ and so were beheaded.


Martyr Urban of Ancyra

Saint Urban was the son of St Gaius, and suffered for Christ during the persecution under the emperor Maximian (286-310).

St Eustochius was a pagan priest, but seeing the unyielding courage of the Christian martyrs, and the miracles worked by them, he converted to Christ. He went to Bishop Eudoxius of Antioch, was baptized by him, and was ordained to the priesthood. In the city of Lystra St Eustochius converted his nephew Gaius and all his household, among which included the children Probus, Lollias and Urban. Soldiers of the emperor arrested St Eustochius and took him for trial, but tortures could not turn Eustochius from his faith. They then sent the saint to the governor Agrippinus in the Galatian city of Ancyra. The newly-converted Gaius was also sent with him with his household. All of them, even the women and children, underwent fierce torture, but the martyrs did not deny Christ and so were beheaded.


Synaxis of the Saints of Vladimir

No information available at this time.


Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God in memory of Saving of Moscow from the Invasion of Khan Achmed

Today the church celebrates the miracle of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, which led to the saving of Moscow from the invasion of Khan Achmed in 1480.

The Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is also commemorated on May 21 and August 26.


Icon of the Mother of God “Tenderness” of the Pskov Caves

The “Tenderness” Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God was found in the monastery of the caves in 1521, and was transferred to the city of Pskov by the pious Christians Basil and Theodore. The Icon is particularly renowned for the deliverance of Pskov and the Pskov Caves monastery from the army of Stephen Bathory (1533-1586) in 1581. It is commemorated on May 21, June 23, August 26, October 7, and on the Seventh Sunday of Pascha.

The Tenderness Icon of the Mother of God is of the Eleousa (Umilenie) type, and is regarded as the patroness of the city of Pskov.

The October 7 commemoration was established in thanksgiving for the deliverance of Pskov from the invading army of Napoleon in 1812. The Pskov Caves Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God, named the “Tenderness” (1542), is famous particularly for the defense of Pskov and the Pskov Caves monastery from the army of Stephen Bathory in 1581. Its celebration is also on May 21, August 26 and October 7.

The Tenderness Icon of the Mother of God of the Pskov Lavra of the Caves is of the Eleousa (Umilenie) type.


Martyr Aristocleus the presbyter with his companions, Demetrian the deacon, and Athanasius the reader of Cyprus

No information available at this time.


Martyr Demetrian the deacon with his companions, Aristocleus the presbyter, and Athanasius the reader of Cyprus

No information available at this time.


Martyr Athanasius the reader with his companions, Aristocleus the presbyter, and Demetrian the deacon of Cyprus

No information available at this time.