Lives of all saints commemorated on June 25


Postfeast of Pentecost — 3rd Day of the Trinity

Many of the hymns of Pentecost are repeated in the postfestal services of this week, and references to the Holy Spirit, and to fire, abound. In particular, we are reminded of the Unburnt Bush (Exodus 3:2), the zealous Prophet Elias who ascended to Heaven in a chariot of fire, the three youths in the fiery furnace, and the Lord descending on Mt. Sinai in fire (Exodus 19:18).

As we commemorate the Holy Spirit this week, we look forward to the Sunday of All Saints, those righteous men and women of all nations and in every age, who were perfected and sanctified by the same Holy Spirit.


Virginmartyr Febronia of Nisibis

The Virgin Martyr Febronia suffered during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). She was raised at a monastery in the city of Sivapolis (Assyria). The head of the women’s monastery was the abbess Bryaena, the aunt of St Febronia. Being concerned about her niece’s salvation, she assigned her a stricter form of life than the other nuns. According to their monastic rule, on Fridays the sisters put aside their other duties and spent the whole day in prayer and the reading of Holy Scripture. The abbess usually assigned the reading to St Febronia.

News of her pious life spread throughout the city. The illustrious young widow Hieria, a pagan, began to visit her, and under the influence of her guidance and prayer she accepted holy Baptism, bringing her parents and kinsfolk to the Christian Faith.

Diocletian sent a detachment of soldiers to Assyria under the command of Lysimachus, Selinus and Primus for the destruction of Christians. Selenos, the uncle of Lysimachus, was noted for his fierce attitude against Christians, but Lysimachus was of a different frame of mind from him, since his mother had sought to inspire love for the Christian faith in her son, and she had died a Christian. Lysimachus had discussed with his kinsman Primus how it would be possible to deliver Christians from the hands of the torturer. When the detachment of soldiers approached the convent, its inhabitants hid. There remained only the abbess Bryaena, her helper Thomais and St Febronia, who was seriously ill at the time.

It grieved the abbess terribly that her niece might fall into the hands of the torturers, who might defile her. She prayed fervently that the Lord would preserve her and strengthen her in the confession of Christ the Savior. Selinus gave orders to bring him all the nuns of the convent. Primus with the detachment of soldiers found no one, except the two old women and St Febronia. He regretted that they had not hidden, and he suggested to the nuns that they flee. But the nuns decided not to leave the place of their labors and they entrusted themselves to the will of the Lord.

Primus told Lysimachus about the particular beauty of St Febronia and advised him to take her for himself. Lysimachus said that he would not seduce a virgin dedicated to God, and he asked Primus to hide the other nuns somewhere so that they would not fall into the hands of Selinus. One of the soldiers overheard the conversation and told Selinus. They led St Febronia off to the military commander with her hands bound and a chain around her neck. Selinus urged her to deny Christ, promising her honors, rewards, and marriage with Lysimachus. The holy virgin firmly and fearlessly answered that she had an Immortal Bridegroom, and she would not exchange Him for any mortal man. Selinus subjected her to fierce torture. The saint prayed, “My Savior, do not abandon me in this terrible hour!”

They beat the martyr for a long time, and blood flowed from her wounds. In order to intensify the suffering of St Febronia, they tied her to a tree and set a fire under it. The tortures were so inhuman, that the people began to demand an end to the torture, since there was no confession of guilt by the girl. Selinus continued to mock and jeer at the martyr, but St Febronia became silent. Because of weakness she was unable to utter a word. In a rage Selinus gave orders to tear out her tongue, smash her teeth, and finally, to cut off both hands and feet. The people were unable to bear such a horrid spectacle and they left the scene of the torture, cursing Diocletian and his gods.

Among the crowd was the nun Thomais, who afterwards recorded St Febronia’s martyrdom in detail, and also her student Hieria. She came forth out of the crowd and in the hearing of all reproached Selinus for his boundless cruelty. He gave orders to arrest her, but learning that Hieria was of illustrious standing whom he could not readily subject to torture, he said, “By your speech you have brought on Febronia even greater torment.” Finally, they beheaded the holy Martyr Febronia.

Departing the place of execution, Lysimachus wept and withdrew to his quarters. Selinus made ready to eat, but he was not able to take food, and went off to the quiet of his own chambers. Suddenly, he became like one deranged. Looking up to the heavens, he raved and bellowed like a bull, then fell down and struck his head on a marble column and died. When Lysimachus learned of this, he said, “ Great is the God of the Christians, Who has avenged Febronia’s blood, so unrighteously shed!” He prepared a coffin, placed the martyr’s body in it, and took it to the convent.

Abbess Bryaena fell senseless, seeing the mutilated remains of St Febronia. Later, she recovered her senses and gave orders to open the convent gates so that all would be able to come and venerate the holy martyr and glorify God Who had given her such endurance in suffering for Christ. Lysimachus and Primus renounced their idol worship and accepted both Baptism and monasticism. Hieria gave her wealth to the convent and petitioned Abbess Bryaena to accept her at the convent in place of St Febronia.

Every year, on the day of the martyric death of St Febronia, a solemn feast was celebrated at the convent . During the time of the all-night Vigil the nuns always saw St Febronia, at her usual place in church. From the relics of St Febronia occurred numerous miracles and healings. The Life of St Febronia was recorded by the nun Thomais, an eyewitness to her deeds.

In the year 363 the relics of St Febronia were transferred to Constantinople.

Soon after the death of St Febronia, St James the Bishop of Nisibis (January 13) built a church and transferred into it a portion of the of the holy martyr’s relics.


St Peter, Tonsured David, the Wonderworker of Murom

Holy Prince Peter (David in monasticism) and Holy Princess Febronia (Euphrosyne in monasticism), Wonderworkers of Murom. Prince Peter was the second son of the Murom prince Yuri Vladimirovich. He entered upon the throne of Murom in the year 1203. Several years before this St Peter had fallen ill with leprosy, from which no one was able to heal him. In a vision it was revealed to the prince that the daughter of a bee-keeper would be able to heal him: the pious maiden Febronia, a peasant of Laskova village in Ryazan gubernia. St Peter sent his emissaries to this village.

When the prince saw St Febronia, he fell in love with her because of her piety, wisdom and virtue, and vowed to marry her after being healed. St Febronia healed the prince and became his wife. The holy couple loved each other through all their ordeals. The haughty boyars did not wish to have a princess of common origin, and they urged that the prince leave her. St Peter refused, and so they banished the couple. They sailed off on a boat from their native city along the River Oka, and St Febronia continued to console St Peter. Soon the wrath of God fell upon the city of Murom, and the people begged the prince return together with St Febronia.

The holy couple was famous for their piety and charity. They died on the same day and hour, June 25, 1228, having received the monastic tonsure with the names David and Evphrosyne. The bodies of the saints were put in the same grave.

Sts Peter and Febronia showed themselves exemplary models of Christian marriage, and are considered as the patron saints of newly-weds.


St Febronia, Tonsured Euphrosyne, the Wonderworker of Murom

Holy Prince Peter (David in monasticism) and Holy Princess Febronia (Euphrosyne in monasticism), Wonderworkers of Murom. Prince Peter was the second son of the Murom prince Yuri Vladimirovich. He entered upon the throne of Murom in the year 1203. Several years before this St Peter had fallen ill with leprosy, from which no one was able to heal him. In a vision it was revealed to the prince that the daughter of a bee-keeper would be able to heal him: the pious maiden Febronia, a peasant of Laskova village in Ryazan gubernia. St Peter sent his emissaries to this village.

When the prince saw St Febronia, he fell in love with her because of her piety, wisdom and virtue, and vowed to marry her after being healed. St Febronia healed the prince and became his wife. The holy couple loved each other through all their ordeals. The haughty boyars did not wish to have a princess of common origin, and they urged that the prince leave her. St Peter refused, and so they banished the couple. They sailed off on a boat from their native city along the River Oka, and St Febronia continued to console St Peter. Soon the wrath of God fell upon the city of Murom, and the people begged the prince return together with St Febronia.

The holy couple was famous for their piety and charity. They died on the same day and hour, June 25, 1228, having received the monastic tonsure with the names David and Evphrosyne. The bodies of the saints were put in the same grave.

Sts Peter and Febronia showed themselves exemplary models of Christian marriage, and are considered the patron saints of newly-weds.


Venerable Dionysius the Hagiorite

No information available at this time.


Venerable Dometius of Dionysiou

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


Monkmartyr Procopius of the Iveron Monastery on Mt Athos

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


New Martyr Procopius of Varna

No information available at this time.


Venerable Nikon of Optina

Saint Nikon was born on September 26, 1888, the son of Metrophanes and Vera Belyaev, and was named Nicholas at his Baptism. His parents, who were both very devout, belonged to one of Moscow’s merchant families.

The Belyaev family received a visit from St John of Kronstadt when Nicholas was in his first year. He blessed Vera and gave her a signed photograph of himself.

Both Nicholas and his brother John loved going to church and reading the Holy Scriptures and other spiritual books. When John and Nicholas decided to embrace monasticism, they cut up a list of Russia’s monasteries from an old book, and Nicholas was asked to pick one of the strips after praying to God. The strip he selected read, “The Optina Hermitage of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, Kozelsk.” Until that moment, neither of them had ever heard of this monastery.

The brothers traveled to Optina on February 24, 1907 with their mother’s blessing, and were accepted into the monastery on December 9, the commemoration of the “Unexpected Joy” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Nicholas was assigned as secretary to Fr Barsanuphius, the Superior of the Skete, in October 1908. Except for reading and serving in church, this became his chief monastic obedience for the rest of his life. St Barsanuphius (April 1) foresaw that he would become an excellent monk as well as a worthy disciple. Nicholas was devoted to the Elder, and followed his will in all matters. Fr Barsanuphius gave him the benefit of his knowledge and experience, guiding him to ascend the spiritual ladder of virtues.

Nicholas was tonsured into the Lesser Schema on May 24, 1915 with the new name Nikon in honor of the martyr St Nikon (September 28). He was ordained as a deacon on April 30, 1916, and as a priest on November 3, 1917. Fr Nikon could not help but remember the prophecy of Fr Barsanuphius made several years before the Russian Revolution. St Barsanuphius foresaw times of difficulty for monasteries when Christians would be persecuted and suffer martyrdom. He predicted that he himself would be dead before this happened, and that Fr Nikon would live through those terrible times.

Fr Nikon was arrested and jailed on September 18, 1919 without the benefit of a trial, just because he was a monk. He was later released and permitted to return to Optina, where the monks had formed a farming cooperative.

The Soviets closed the cooperative in 1923, and the monastery was turned into a museum. Two monks were allowed to stay and work in the museum, while the others were expelled and told to go wherever they wished. Fr Nikon was blessed by Fr Isaac to serve in the church dedicated to the Kazan Icon and to receive visitors. When people came to him for advice, he always quoted the words of the Optina Elders.

The last church at Optina was closed early in 1924, and Fr Nikon was obliged to leave in June. He went to live at Kozelsk with Father Cyril Zlenko. There he continued to receive visitors and offer spiritual counsel, sharing money and food with those who were too old, or too sick to work. Fr Nikon was a wise spiritual Father, who was able to help people overcome their shame and reveal the sins which had troubled them for a long time. People would leave Fr Nikon feeling cleansed and renewed.

Fr Nikon, Fr Cyril, and Fr Agapitus Taub were arrested and thrown into prison in June of 1927. Fr Nikon and Fr Agapitus were sent to the “Kemperpunkt” camp, where Fr Nikon was assigned the duty of guarding the storehouses.

St Nikon wrote to his spiritual children from the camp with cheerful words of encouragement. Although he accepted his imprisonment as God’s will, it was nevertheless difficult for him to endure. When their prison term ended, the two monks were sent into exile at Archangelsk. Before leaving the camp, Fr Nikon was examined and found to have tuberculosis. The doctors advised him to request that his place of exile be changed to a place with a more suitable climate.

He asked the advice of Fr Agapitus, who told him not to make such a request. At Archangels, Fr Nikon lodged in the home of an elderly woman who gave him little rest or peace. Every week he had to travel three kilometers to present himself before the authorities in the city of Pinyega.

While shoveling snow at the beginning of Great Lent, Fr Nikon’s leg began to hemorrhage, and he developed a high fever. His landlady did not feel any pity for him, but told him that he must leave her house so that the others would not become infected with tuberculosis.

Soon, Fr Nikon was visited by Fr Peter, who had once lived at Optina. He begged Fr Peter to take him in, which he did. Fr Peter cared for the Elder to the best of his ability. For the last two months of his life, Fr Nikon received Holy Communion almost every day, and his sufferings seemed to grow less severe. He often dictated letters to his spiritual children to Fr Peter. One day, Fr Nikon saw St Macarius of Optina (September 7) in a vision and told Sister Irene to pull up a chair for him. She was slow to obey him so he said, “Forgive her, Father, for she is not very experienced.”

On June 25, 1931 Fr Nikon was so weak that he could not speak. Archimandrite Nikita was called to bring him Communion, and to read the Canon for the Departure of the Soul. That night the Elder fell asleep in the Lord at the age of forty-three.

The Moscow Patriarchate authorized local veneration of the Optina Elders on June 13,1996, glorifying them for universal veneration on August 7, 2000.


New Martyr George of Attalia

No Information is available at this time.