Lives of all saints commemorated on July 9


Hieromartyr Pancratius the Bishop of Taormina in Sicily

The Hieromartyr Pancratius, Bishop of Taormina, was born when our Lord Jesus Christ yet lived upon the earth.

The parents of Pancratius were natives of Antioch. Hearing the good news of Jesus Christ, Pancratius’ father took his young son with him and went to Jerusalem in order to see the great Teacher for himself. The miracles astonished him, and when he heard the divine teaching, he then believed in Christ as the Son of God. He became close with the disciples of the Lord, especially with the holy Apostle Peter. It was during this period that young Pancratius got to know the holy Apostle Peter.

After the Ascension of the Savior, one of the Apostles came to Antioch and baptized the parents of Pancratius together with all their household. When the parents of Pancratius died, he left behind his inherited possessions and went to Pontus and began to live in a cave, spendng his days in prayer and deep spiritual contemplation. The holy Apostle Peter, while passing through those parts, visited Pancratius at Pontus. He took him along to Antioch, and then to Sicily, where the holy Apostle Paul then was. There the holy Apostles Peter and Paul made St Pancratius Bishop of Taormina in Sicily.

St Pancratius toiled zealously for the Christian enlightenment of the people. In a single month he built a church where he celebrated divine services. The number of believers quickly grew, and soon almost all the people of Taormina and the surrounding cities accepted the Christian Faith.

St Pancratius governed his flock peacefully for many years. However, pagans plotted against the saint, and seizing an appropriate moment, they fell upon him and stoned him. Thus, St Pancratius ended his life as a martyr.

The saint’s relics are in the church named for him in Rome. He is also commemorated on February 9.


Hieromartyr Cyril the Bishop of Gortyna in Crete

The Hieromartyr Cyril, Bishop of Gortyna, was bishop at Gortyna on the island of Crete for 50 years. He suffered either under the emperor Decius (249-251), or according to other historical sources, the emperor Maximian (284-305).

Brought to trial before a governor named Lucius, who demanded that he offer sacrifice to idols, the holy Elder steadfastly confessed his faith in Christ and refused to fulfill the soul-destroying command. The governor sentenced St Cyril to burning, but the flames did not touch him. Seeing this miracle, many pagans came to believe in Christ. Lucius himself offered up praise to the Christian God and set the saint free.

St Cyril continued with his preaching and led many pagans to Christ, but also he grieved that he had not been allowed to suffer for the Savior. It was reported to the governor that St Cyril would not cease his preaching, and that he continued to convert people from the darkness of paganism to the light of Christ. Hearing the sentence against him, St Cyril rejoiced that he was to be granted a martyr’s death for Truth, and the 84-year-old Elder willingly placed his head beneath the sword.


Martyr Patermuthius of Egypt

The Hosiomartyrs Patermuthius and Copres, and the Martyr Alexander suffered under the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Patermuthius and his disciple Copres were Egyptian hermits. When the emperor heard about the saints, he ordered them to be brought to him, and he tried to turn them to paganism. He said that he had formerly served Christ, but had learned that only the pagan gods could provide salvation.

Copres was deceived by these words of the emperor and he denied Christ. By the prayers and tears of his Elder he came to understand what a mistake he had made. He repented and again confessed himself a Christian. The emperor became enraged and ordered that Copres be tortured. Patermuthius encouraged his brother monk to be brave and endure. One of the soldiers, whose name was Alexander, saw the terrible sufferings of Copres, and believed in Christ. He was sentenced to be burned alive. Sts Patermuthius and Copres were beheaded by the sword.


Martyr Copres of Egypt

Saint Copres was the disciple of St Patermuthius. These Egyptian hermits suffered during the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363) along with the martyr Alexander. When the emperor heard about the saints, he ordered them to be brought to him, and he tried to turn them to paganism. He said that he had formerly served Christ, but had learned that only the pagan gods could provide salvation.

Copres was deceived by these words of the emperor and he denied Christ. By the prayers and tears of his Elder he came to understand what a mistake he had made. He repented and again confessed himself a Christian. The emperor became enraged and ordered that Copres be tortured. Patermuthius encouraged his brother monk to be brave and endure. One of the soldiers, whose name was Alexander, saw the terrible sufferings of Copres, and believed in Christ. He was sentenced to be burned alive. Sts Patermuthius and Copres were beheaded by the sword.


Martyr Alexander the Soldier of Egypt

Saint Alexander suffered with the hosiomartyrs Patermuthius and Copres, during the reign of the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). He was a soldier who witnessed the torture of St Copres, and believed in Christ. He was burned alive.


St Theodore the Bishop of Edessa

Saint Theodore, Bishop of Edessa, was born in the Syrian city of Edessa. All his life the holy saint was a bright witness of the great deeds of God, glorified in His Saints.

At twelve years of age, after he lost his parents and gave away his inheritance to the poor, he went to Jerusalem, where he was tonsured at the Lavra of the St Sava the Sanctified. After twelve years of fervent monastic obedience and then another twenty-four years of full seclusion and great abstinence, the Lord called the valiant ascetic to be a bishop, so that he might enlighten the world. After the death of the Bishop of Edessa, no worthier successor was found than Theodore, and with the mutual consent of the Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem, and of the clergy and laity, this fine man was chosen bishop.

It was not easy for St Theodore to forsake his solitude, but he submitted himself to the will of God and undertook his pastoral guidance of the Edessa Church. This occurred during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Michael and his mother Theodora (842-855). At the time of St Theodore’s episcopal consecration, there occurred a great miracle. The people beheld a dove, white as snow, flying about beneath the cupola of the church, which then alit upon the head of the newly-made bishop.

St Theodore devoted all his abilities to the governance of his flock. He was a model for the faithful in word, in life, in love. By the good example of his holy ascetic life, he guided the flock entrusted to him by God, onto the path of salvation. Theodore exerted much effort in the struggle with heretics, and with a firm hand he guarded the Church from temptations and false teachings. By his consolation and support for StTheodore, the clairvoyant Elder Theodosius the Stylite also served the spiritual community while laboring in asceticism not far from the city, near the monastery of the holy Great Martyr George.

With the blessing of the Elder, St Theodore journeyed to Baghdad to the caliph Mavi to complain about unjust measures against the Orthodox. Having come to Mavi, the saint found him seriously ill. Calling on the help of the Lord, the holy bishop threw a bit of earth from the Sepulchre of the Lord into a vessel of water and gave it to the caliph to drink, and the sick one was healed. The grateful Mavi, favorably disposed towards the saint, happily heard his teachings. Finally, together with three close associates, he accepted holy Baptism with the name John.

Shortly afterwards for his open confession of faith in Christ before the Moslems, the caliph John was killed with his three associates. Having appeared in a dream simultaneously to St Theodore and to Theodosius the Stylite, he said that he had been granted to suffer for Christ, and was numbered among the ranks of the Martyrs. He promised that soon he would meet them in the Kingdom of Heaven. This was an indication to the saint of God that his own end was approaching. In 848, again in solitude at the Lavra of St Sava the Sanctified, he peacefully departed to the Lord. St Theodore has left Christians his edifying writings. The Life of St Theodore of Edessa was popular reading in Rus during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and was preserved in many manuscripts.


Venerable Patermuthius the Ascetic of Egypt

Saints Patermuthius and Copres: Patermuthius at first was a pagan and also the head of a band of robbers, but then he repented, was baptized and withdrew into the desert. The monk devoted all the rest of his life to attending the sick and burying the dead. For his love of toil and efforts, Patermuthius received from God the gift of wonderworking.

The priest Copres was an eyewitness of the doings of the venerable Patermuthius and recorded his life and miracles. St Copres narrated this Life to the presbyter Rufinus, who in turn transmitted it to Palladius, Bishop of Hellenopolis, who included the account in his book, the Lausiac History.

Once St Copres entered into a debate with the heretic Manicheus, and seeing that he could not prevail against him in dispute, he suggested that a large fire be lit, and that they should go into it together. In this way, the Lord Himself would decide whose was the true Faith. Manicheus refused to go in first, but Copres went into the fire, and standing in the midst of the flames, he remained unharmed. The people glorified the faith of Copres, and they threw the heretic into the fire. He jumped out all scorched and tried to flee, but they caught him and again cast him into the flames. St Copres then calmed the crowd and let Manicheus go.


Venerable Copres the Ascetic of Egypt

The holy priest Copres was an eyewitness of how St Patermuthius tended the sick and buried the dead. He also recorded his life and miracles. St Copres narrated this Life to the presbyter Rufinus, who in turn transmitted it to Palladius, Bishop of Hellenopolis, who included the account in his book, the LAUSIAC HISTORY.

Once St Copres debated with the heretic Manicheus, and seeing that he could not prevail against him in dispute, he suggested that a large fire be lit, and that they should enter it together. In this way, the Lord Himself would decide whose was the true Faith. Manicheus refused to go in first, but St Copres went into the fire, and stood in the midst of the flames, yet remained unharmed. The people glorified the faith of Copres, and they threw the heretic into the fire. He jumped out all scorched and tried to flee, but they caught him and again cast him into the flames. St Copres then calmed the crowd and released Manicheus.


Venerable Dionysius the Orator of St Anne Skete of Mt Athos

Saint Dionysius the Rhetor and his disciple St Metrophanes lived toward the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century, but it is not known where they were born. St Dionysius received the monastic tonsure at the famous Studion Monastery in Constantinople, where he and St Metrophanes lived. Desiring a more intensive life of prayer and solitude, the two saints left the monastery of their repentance and journeyed to the peninsula of Athos, establishing themselves in a cell near Karyes. There they devoted themselves to prayer, fasting, and vigilance.

St Dionysius was distinguished for his virtue and wisdom, which drew many disciples to him. Training others in the monastic life left him with very little time for his own spiritual struggles, and with so many people around him his soul was not at peace. Therefore, St Dionysius and St Metrophanes proceeded into the desert of Mount Athos in search of even greater solitude. Somewhere between St Anne’s and Katounakia, they found a cave and made it their abode. This would be the future site of Little St Anne’s Skete, and they were the first to settle at this place. In that small and humble cave, they lived a godly life which was equal to that of the angels. In their spiritual struggles they fought against the stomach’s need for food, and against the body’s need for sleep. They restricted not only the types of food they ate, but also the amount they consumed at meals. By limiting the amount of time for sleep, they were able to devote themselves more to repentance and prayer.

St Dionysius and St Metrophanes were esteemed as learned men, but they attained even greater wisdom in the true philosophy of monasticism, which has been called “a life according to the Gospel.” They made such progress in the monastic life, excelling in virtue and holiness, that they became teachers of many holy ascetics.

By voluntarily humbling themselves, these saints were exalted by God, acquiring the richest spiritual gifts and the grace of the Holy Spirit. Just as no one lights a candle and then covers it, or puts it under a bed, “but sets it on a candlestick, that those who enter in may see the light” (Luke 8:16), so the Lord did not permit the virtue of these saints to remain hidden. The light of their holy life so shone before men that those who beheld it glorified God (Matt. 5:16). Like all-luminous lamps, the saints shone forth on the Holy Mountain with the radiance of their holiness.

Later, St Metrophanes, with the blessing of the Athonite Fathers and of his Elder St Dionysius, was asked to leave Mount Athos for a time in order to preach the Word of God in the neighboring villages. After he had fulfilled this obedience he returned to the Holy Mountain.

St Dionysius wrote a book called KOUVARAS, which was a guide on how to benefit and train the brethren. The manuscript is preserved in the Skete’s library. St Dionysius taught the art of inner attention and mental prayer, and was himself proficient in them. He rendered many writings of the Holy Fathers into a simpler form of Greek so that ordinary people could understand them. Some of these have been printed in Greek theological publications in modern times. Many of his writings still remain unpublished, however.

According to the ever-memorable Father Gerasimus of Little St Anne’s, the twentieth century hymnographer of the Great Church (Constantinople) who composed more than

2,000 services (including the service in honor of St Dionysius and St Metrophanes), Hieromonk Dionysius fell asleep in the Lord on October 6, 1606, and his disciple St Metrophanes reposed shortly thereafter. At Little St Anne’s, however, both St Dionysius and St Metrophanes are commemorated on July 9. A church was built in 1956 at the site of their cave, and was dedicated to these saints.

According to Tradition, St Dionysius the Rhetor is to be depicted with straight posture, a wide forehead, a large mustache, and a square beard.


Venerable Metrophanes the Disciple of the Venerable Dionysius

St Metrophanes was the disciple and fellow ascetic of St Dionysius the Rhetor. Although the exact time and place of his birth remain unknown, it is likely that he was born toward the end of the sixteenth century.

For a time, he lived with his Elder St Dionysius at the Studion Monastery in Constantinople, but they desired a more intensive life of prayer and solitude. Therefore, they left Constantinople and journeyed to Mount Athos, establishing themselves in a cell near Karyes. There they devoted themselves to prayer, fasting, and vigilance.

Hearing of the wisdom and virtue of St Dionysius, many monks were drawn to him, and asked him to be their Elder. He agreed to this with some reluctance, but found that guiding others in the spiritual life left him little time for his own spiritual struggles. With so many people around him his soul was not at peace. Therefore, St Dionysius and St Metrophanes proceeded into the desert of Mount Athos in search of even greater solitude. Somewhere between St Anne’s and Katounakia, they found a cave and made it their abode. This would be the future site of Little St Anne’s Skete, and they were the first to settle at this place. In that small and humble cave, they lived a godly life which was equal to that of the angels. In their spiritual struggles they fought against the stomach’s need for food, and against the body’s need for sleep. They restricted not only the types of food they ate, but also the amount they consumed at meals. By limiting the amount of time for sleep, they were able to devote themselves more to repentance and prayer.

St Dionysius and St Metrophanes were esteemed as learned men, but they attained even greater wisdom in the true philosophy of monasticism, which has been called “a life according to the Gospel.” They made such progress in the monastic life, excelling in virtue and holiness, that they became teachers of many holy ascetics.

By voluntarily humbling themselves, these saints were exalted by God, acquiring the richest spiritual gifts and the grace of the Holy Spirit. Just as no one lights a candle and then covers it, or puts it under a bed, “but sets it on a candlestick, that those who enter in may see the light” (Luke 8:16), so the Lord did not permit the virtue of these saints to remain hidden. The light of their holy life so shone before men that those who beheld it glorified God (Matt.5:16). Like all-luminous lamps, the saints shone forth on the Holy Mountain with the radiance of their holiness.

Later, St Metrophanes, with the blessing of the Athonite Fathers and of his Elder St Dionysius, was asked to leave Mount Athos for a time in order to preach the Word of God in the neighboring villages. After he had fulfilled this obedience he returned to the Holy Mountain.

According to the ever-memorable Father Gerasimus of Little St Anne’s, the twentieth century hymnographer of the Great Church (Constantinople) who composed more than 2,000 services (including the service in honor of St Dionysius and St Metrophanes), Hieromonk Dionysius fell asleep in the Lord on October 6, 1606, and his disciple St Metrophanes reposed shortly thereafter. At Little St Anne’s, however, both St Dionysius and St Metrophanes are commemorated on July 9. A church was built in 1956 at the site of their cave, and was dedicated to these saints.


Icon of the Mother of God of Koloch

The Koloch Icon of the Mother of God manifested itself in the year 1413 during the reign of Basil I, 15 versts from the city of Mozhaisk, in the vicinity of Koloch in the Smolensk governia. A peasant of this village by the name of Luke found the holy icon and took it to his home. One of his household was paralyzed. The sick one put his forehead to the icon with faith and received complete healing.

This became known through the surrounding area, and many of the suffering began to flock to the wonderworking icon, and they received help from the Mother of God. Luke afterwards took the icon to Mozhaisk, and from there to Moscow. At the capital, Metropolitan Photius, together with a gathering of clergy and a multitude of the people, met the holy icon. As the icon was carried through Moscow many of the sick were healed of their infirmities. Later they returned the icon to Mozhaisk.

At the place where the icon appeared, a church was built in honor of the Mother of God. Here the holy icon was housed.

With the offerings of the peasant Luke and other Orthodox, Prince Andrew Dimitrievich built a monastery on this site called the Kolochsk or Mozhaisk.


Icon of the Mother of God of Cyprus

The Cyprus Icon of the Mother of God belongs to the Panachrana type. In this icon the Mother of God is depicted sitting on a throne with the Divine Infant in Her arms. On either side of Her is an angel.

The prototype of this holy icon manifested itself in the year 392 on the island of Cyprus at the tomb of Righteous Lazarus, the friend of Christ (October 17), and is kept there in a monastery. renowned copies of the Cyprus Icon are at the Moscow’s Dormition Cathedral, and in the Nikolo-Golutvin church in the village of Stromyn, Moscow diocese (Commemorated on the Sunday of Orthodoxy).

During the week of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, the Greek Synaxarion has an account of an icon which is probably the Cyprus Icon. On the island of Cyprus a certain Arab was passing by a church dedicated to the Most Holy Theotokos. In order to display his hatred for Christianity, the man shot an arrow at an icon of the Mother of God which hung by the gate. The arrow struck the Virgin’s knee, from which blood began to flow. Overcome with fear, the Arab spurred his horse and rode for home, but was struck dead before he could get there. In this way, he was punished for his impiety.

Other days commemorating the Cyprus Icon are the Day of the Holy Spirit, and April 20. Some copies of the Cyprus Icon have additional names such as “Cleansing,” “Knife,” and “Hawk.”

The Cyprus Icon called “Hawk” was so named because of the way it was discovered. One day, the Christian ruler of Cyprus was hunting with his trained hawk. The hawk became tangled in a thicket while diving after another bird, and the ruler ordered the thicket to be cut away so that the hawk could be rescued. His servants rescued the hawk and also discovered an icon of the Mother of God in the thicket. The ruler later built a monastery on the site.

The “Cleansing” Cyprus Icon was in another monastery on Cyprus, and was famous for healing many people with diseases of the eyes.

The “Stromyn” Cyprus Icon became famous in 1841. An eighteen-year-old girl from Stromyn, a village not far from Moscow, was close to death from an illness. In a dream she saw the Cyprus Icon standing over the entrance to the church, and a voice came from the icon: “Take me into your home and have the priest serve a Molieben with the Blessing of Water, and you will be cured.”

The sick girl was brought to the church and finally located the icon after a long search. The girl obeyed the command of the Most Holy Theotokos, and after the Molieben she felt strong enough to carry the icon back to the church herself. Shortly thereafter, she was completely healed. The “Stromyn” Cyprus Icon continued to work miracles of healing, which the rector of the church reported to the holy Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow (November 19).