Lives of all saints commemorated on July 18


Martyr Emilian of Silistria in Bulgaria

The Holy Martyr Emilian, who was a Slav, suffered for Christ during the reign of Emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Julian wanted to restore the cult of the pagan gods throughout the Roman Empire, and he issued an edict, according to which all Christians who failed to honor the pagan gods would be subject to death.

St Emilian lived in the Thracian city of Dorostolum on the banks of the River Dunaj (Danube).The imperial edict was read in the city square, but the people of Dorostolum declared that there were no Christians in the city.

St Emilian was a slave of a cruel and fanatical idolater, and was a secret Christian. Some sources state that he was the son of a local officer named Sabbatianus. When the father learned that Emilian believed in Christ, he was so enraged that he insulted him with vulgar words and had him whipped. He pointed out that he could expect even worse things to happen to him if he remained a Christian.

Instead of being intimidated by these threats, St Emilian’s faith in Christ was strengthened. The next day he went into a pagan temple and smashed the statues with a hammer.

An angry crowd started to beat a certain Christian, who was passing by. St Emilian then shouted out loudly that they should not harm that innocent man, since he himself was the one who had damaged the pagan temple.

The saint was seized and brought to Capitolinus the governor for judgment. In spite of further threats, St Emilian would not deny Christ. “He is my Lord, and I will never deny Him,” the martyr exclaimed. The governor ordered that St Emilian be beaten mercilessly, and then to be burned alive. He did not perish when he was thrown into the fire, but instead the flames consumed many of the pagans who were standing about. When the fire had gone out, St Emilian lay down upon the dying embers, and gave up his soul to the Lord. The wife of the pagan ruler was also a secret Christian, and she gathered up the saint’s relics and buried them. Afterward, a church dedicated to the holy Martyr Emilian was built at Constantinople, where his relics were transferred.


Martyr Hyacinthus of Amastris

The Holy Martyr Hyacinthus was born into a pious Christian family in the city of Amastridea (now Amastra in Anatolia). An angel which appeared gave him his name. As a three-year-old boy St Hyacinthus asked God that a dead infant might be resurrected. The Lord hearkened to his childish prayer, and the dead one arose. Both lads afterwards grew up together, and they lived an ascetic life.

St Hyacinthus once noticed how the pagans were worshipping a tree, and so he chopped it down. For this they subjected him to harsh tortures. They smashed out all his teeth, and having bound him with rope, they dragged him along the ground and threw him in prison. It was there that the holy sufferer departed to the Lord.


Venerable John the Long-Suffering of the Kiev Near Caves

St John the Much-Suffering pursued asceticism at the Kiev Caves Lavra, accepting many sorrows for the sake of virginity.

The ascetic recalled that from the time of his youth he had suffered much, tormented by fleshly lust, and nothing could deliver him from it, neither hunger nor thirst nor heavy chains. He then went into the cave where the relics of St Anthony rested, and he fervently prayed to the holy Abba. After a day and a night the much-suffering John heard a voice: “John! It is necessary for you to become a recluse, in order to weaken the vexation by silence and seclusion, and the Lord shall help you by the prayers of His monastic saints.” The saint settled into the cave from that time, and only after thirty years did he conquer the fleshly passions.

Tense and fierce was the struggle upon the thorny way on which the monk went to victory. Sometimes the desire took hold of him to forsake his seclusion, but then he resolved on still greater effort. The holy warrior of Christ dug out a pit and with the onset of Great Lent he climbed into it, and he covered himself up to the shoulders with ground. He spent the whole of Lent in such a position, but the burning of his former passions did not leave him. The enemy of salvation brought terror upon the ascetic, wishing to expel him from the cave: a fearsome serpent, breathing fire and sparks, tried to swallow the saint. For several days these evil doings continued.

On the night of the Resurrection of Christ the serpent seized the head of the monk in its jaws. Then St John cried out from the depths of his heart: “O Lord my God and my Savior! Why have You forsaken me? Have mercy upon me, only Lover of Mankind; deliver me from my foul iniquity, so that I an not trapped in the snares of the Evil one. Deliver me from the mouth of my enemy: send down a flash of lightning and drive it away.” Suddenly a bolt of lightning flashed, and the serpent vanished. A Divine light shone upon the ascetic, and a Voice was heard: “John! Here is help for you. Be attentive from now on, that nothing worse happen to you, and that you do not suffer in the age to come.”

The saint prostrated himself and said: “Lord! Why did You leave me for so long in torment?” “I tried you according to the power of your endurance,” was the answer. “I brought upon you temptation, so that you might be purified like gold. It is to the strong and powerful servants that a master assigns the heavy work, and the easy tasks to the infirm and to the weak. Therefore pray to the one buried here (Moses the Hungarian), he can help you in this struggle, for he did greater deeds than Joseph the Fair” (March 31). The monk died in the year 1160, having acquired grace against profligate passions. His holy relics rest in the Caves of St Anthony.

We pray to St John for deliverance from sexual impurity.


Venerable Pambo the Recluse of the Kiev Far Caves

Hieromonk Pambo, Hermit of the Kiev Caves, was a confessor for the Faith. Captured while on a monastic obedience, he was taken off by Tatars and for many years suffered from them for his refusal to renounce the Christian Faith. The monk was afterwards miraculously transported from captivity and put within his own cell. He died in seclusion in 1241. His relics rest in the Caves of StTheodosius.


Venerable Pambo the Hermit of Egypt

Saint Pambo lived the ascetic life in the Nitrian desert in Egypt. St Anthony the Great (January 17) said, that the Monk Pambo by the fear of God inspired within himself the Holy Spirit. And the Monk Pimen the Great (August 27) said: “We beheld three things in Father Pambo: hunger every day, silence and handcrafts”. The Monk Theodore the Studite termed St Pambo “exalted in deed and in word.”

At the beginning of his monasticism, St Pambo heard the verses from the 38th [39th] Psalm of David: “preserve mine path, that I sin not by my tongue”. These words sank deep into his soul, and he attempted to follow them always. Thus, when they asked him about something, he answered only after long pondering and prayer. He would say, “I must think first, and perhaps I can, in time, give an answer, with God’s help.” St Pambo was a model of a lover of work for his disciples. Each day he worked until exhausted, and by the bread acquired by his own toil.

The disciples of St Pambo became great ascetics: Dioscorus, afterwards Bishop of Hermopolis (this Dioscorus, bishop of Hermopolis, is distinguished from another Dioscorus, an arch-heretic and Patriarch of Constantinople. He lived rather later and was condemned by the Fourth Ecumenical Council), and also Ammonius, Eusebius and Euthymius, mentioned in the life of St John Chrysostom. One time St Melania the Younger (December 31) brought St Pambo a large amount of silver for the needs of the monastery, but he did not leave off from his work nor even glance at the money that was brought. Only after the incessant requests of St Melania did he permit her to give the alms to a certain monastic brother for distribution to the needs of the monastery. St Pambo was distinguished by his humility, but together with this he highly esteemed the vocation of monk and he taught the laypeople to be respectful of monastics, who often converse with God.

It was said that sometimes St Pambo’s face shone like lightning, as did the face of Moses. Yet, speaking to the brethren who stood about his deathbed, St Pambo said: “I go to the Lord as one who has not yet begun to serve Him.” He died at the age of 70.


Grand Duchess Elizabeth

Saint Elizabeth was the older sister of Tsarina Alexandra, and was married to the Grand Duke Sergius, the governor of Moscow. She converted to Orthodoxy from Protestantism of her own free will, and organized women from all levels of society to help the soldiers at the front and in the hospitals.

Grand Duke Sergius was killed by an assassin’s bomb on February 4, 1905, just as St Elizabeth was leaving for her workshops. Remarkably, she visited her husband’s killer in prison and urged him to repent.

After this, she began to withdraw from her former social life. She devoted herself to the Convent of Sts Martha and Mary, a community of nuns which focused on worshiping God and also helping the poor. She moved out of the palace into a building she purchased on Ordinka. Women from the nobility, and also from the common people, were attracted to the convent.

St Elizabeth nursed sick and wounded soldiers in the hospitals and on the battle front. On Pascha of 1918, the Communists ordered her to leave Moscow, and join the royal family near Ekaterinburg. She left with a novice, Sister Barbara, and an escort of Latvian guards.

After arriving in Ekaterinburg, St Elizabeth was denied access to the Tsar’s family. She was placed in a convent, where she was warmly received by the sisters.

At the end of May St Elizabeth was moved to nearby Alopaevsk with the Grand Dukes Sergius, John, and Constantine, and the young Count Vladimir Paley. They were all housed in a schoolhouse on the edge of town. St Elizabeth was under guard, but was permitted to go to church and work in the garden.

On the night of July 5, they were all taken to a place twelve miles from Alopaevsk, and executed. The Grand Duke Sergius was shot, but the others were thrown down a mineshaft, then grenades were tossed after them. St Elizabeth lived for several hours, and could be heard singing hymns.

The bodies of St Elizabeth and St Barbara were taken to Jerusalem in 1920, and buried in the church of St Mary Magdalene.


Nun-martyr Barbara

St Barbara died with St Elizabeth on July 5, 1918, the day after the murder of Tsar Nicholas and his family. The two nuns were thrown into a mineshaft, and grenades were tossed in after them. St Elizabeth remained alive for several hours, and could be heard singing hymns.

The bodies of St Barbara and St Elizabeth were taken to Jerusalem in 1920, and buried in the church of St Mary Magdalene.


Icon of the Mother of God of Tolga

The Tolga Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos appeared on August 8, 1314 to the Rostov hierarch Prochorus (Tryphon in schema). Going about his diocese, the saint visited the environs of White Lake and from there traveled along the banks of the Rivers Sheksna and Volga, to Yaroslavl. Having stopped with the approach of night 7 versts distant from Yaroslavl, at the right bank of the Volga River there flows opposite into it the River Tolga.

At midnight, when everyone was asleep, the saint awoke and saw a bright light illuminating the area. The light proceeded from a fiery column on the other bank of the river, to which there stretched a bridge. Taking up his staff, the saint went across to the other bank, and having approached the fiery column, he beheld on it the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, suspended in the air. Astonished at the miracle, the saint prayed for a long time, and when he went back, he forgot to take his staff.

The next day, after serving Matins, when St Prochorus was preparing to continue his journey by boat, they began to search for his staff, but they were not able to find it anywhere. The saint then remembered that he had forgotten his staff on the other side of the river, where he had gone across on the miraculous bridge. He then revealed what had occurred, and sent servants across on a boat to the other shore. They came back and reported that in the forest they had seen an icon of the Mother of God suspended in the branches of a tree, next to his bishop’s staff.

The saint quickly crossed over with all his retinue to the opposite shore, and he recognized the icon that had appeared to him. Then after fervent prayer before the icon, they cleared the forest at that place, and put down the foundations of a church. When the people of Yaroslavl learned of this, they came out to the indicated spot. By midday the church was already built, and in the evening the saint consecrated it in honor of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos, and having installed the icon there he established a Feast on the day of its appearance. St Prochorus later built the Tolga monastery near this church. St Prochorus died on September 7, 1328.

The Tolga Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is also commemorated on August 8.


Hieromartyr Kozman

Over the centuries the monastic complex founded by St. David of Gareji became a spiritual and cultural center for all of Georgia. Many of the faithful flocked there with a desire to serve Christ.

Among them was the hieromonk Kozman, who would end his earthly life as a martyr.

Few details of the life of Holy Martyr Kozman have been preserved. According to the Georgian catholicos Anton, St. Kozman was a learned and righteous ascetic, well-versed in the canons of the Orthodox Church.

St. Kozman composed a set of “Hymns to the Great-Martyr Queen Ketevan” but his work has not been preserved. According to the 19th-century historian Platon Ioseliani, Hieromonk Kozman was taken captive and tortured to death in the year 1630, when the Dagestanis were carrying out a raid on the Davit-Gareji Wilderness.