Lives of all saints commemorated on August 2


Translation of the relics of the Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen from Jerusalem to Constantinople

The Transfer of the Relics of the Holy Protomartyr Stephen from Jerusalem to Constantinople took place about the year 428.

After the holy Protomartyr Archdeacon Stephen was stoned by the Jews, they left his holy body unburied to be devoured by the beasts and birds. After a day and a night the renowned Jewish teacher of the Law, Gamaliel sent people to take up the body of the Protomartyr. Gamaliel buried him on his own property, in his own tomb, not far from Jerusalem.

When Lord’s secret disciple Nicodemus died, Gamaliel also buried him near the grave of St Stephen. Afterwards Gamaliel himself, who had been baptized with his son Abibas, was buried near the grave of the Protomartyr Stephen and St Nicodemus.

In the year 415 the relics of the saint were uncovered in a miraculous manner and solemnly transferred to Jerusalem by Bishop John and the bishops Eutonius of Sebaste and Eleutherius of Jericho. From that time healings took place from the relics.

Afterwards, during the reign of holy Emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450), the relics of the holy Protomartyr Stephen were transferred from Jerusalem to Constantinople and placed in the church of the holy deacon Laurence (August 10). When a church dedicated to the Protomartyr Stephen was built, the relics were transferred there on August 2. St Stephen’s right hand is preserved in the Serapionov chamber of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra.


Finding of the relics of the Righteous St Nicodemus

Saint Nicodemus was a prominent Pharisee who believed in Christ. The Savior explained to him how man is regenerated through Baptism, but he did not understand how a man could be born again. When the Lord reproved him for his ignorance, he accepted it with humility (John 3:1-21).

Nicodemus came back to Christ from time to time, defended Him to the Pharisees (John 7:50-52), and brought spices to anoint His body (John 19:39). After being cast out of the synagogue for his belief in Christ, St Nicodemus went to live with St Gamaliel at his country house, remaining there until his death.

The relics of Sts Stephen, Gamaliel, Abibas, and Nicodemus were transferred from Jerusalem to Constantinople in 428 and placed in the church of the holy deacon Laurence (August 10).


Finding of the relics of the Righteous St Gamaliel

St Gamaliel was a Pharisee, a doctor of the Law (Acts 5:34), and the teacher of St Paul (Acts 22:3).

In the year 415, St Gamaliel appeared to a priest named Lucian. He was a tall, venerable man with a long white beard. He was dressed in white clothing which was edged with gold and marked with crosses, and held a gold wand in his hand.

Gamaliel called Fr Lucian by name three times, then told him to go to Jerusalem and inform Bishop John to open the tomb where his relics and those of other saints were resting. The priest asked the stranger who he was.

“I am Gamaliel, who instructed the apostle Paul in the Law,” he replied. Then he told the priest where to find the relics of St Stephen. He also revealed that he had taken St Stephen’s body and laid it in his own tomb after it had been lying exposed for a day and a night.

St Gamaliel also mentioned that St Nicodemus was buried at the same spot. “I received him into my house in the country,” he said, “and maintained him there until the end of his life. After his death, I buried him honorably near Stephen.”

St Gamaliel informed the priest that he and his twenty-year-old son Abibas were also buried there. Fr Lucian was afraid to believe this vision right away, lest it be a temptation from the Evil One. However, when St Gamaliel appeared again and commanded him to obey his instructions, he did so.

A monk named Migetius also had a vision of St Gamaliel and told Fr Lucian to search for the relics in a place called Debatalia. When the relics were uncovered, an ineffable fragrance was noticed.

The relics of Sts Stephen, Gamaliel, Abibas, and Nicodemus were transferred from Jerusalem to Constantinople in 428 and placed in the church of the holy deacon Laurence (August 10).


Finding of the relics of the Righteous St Abibas

St Abibas was the twenty-year-old son of St Gamaliel, who died before his father. His relics were uncovered along with those of Sts Stephen, Gamaliel, and Nicodemus in 415.

The relics of Sts Stephen, Gamaliel, Abibas, and Nicodemus were transferred from Jerusalem to Constantinople in 428 and placed in the church of the holy deacon Laurence (August 10).


Blessed Basil of Moscow the Fool-For-Christ

Saint Basil the Blessed, Wonderworker of Moscow, was born in December 1468 on the portico of the Elokhov church in honor of the Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos outside Moscow. His parents were commoners and sent their son to be trained as a cobbler.

During Basil’s apprenticeship, the master happened to witness a remarkable occurrence, which showed him that his student was no ordinary man. A certain merchant had brought grain to Moscow on a barge and then went to order boots, specifying that they be made in a particular way, since he would not pick them up for a year. Blessed Basil wept and said, “I wish you would cancel the order, since you will never wear them.”

When the perplexed master questioned his apprentice he explained that the man would not wear the boots, for he would soon die. After several days the prediction came true.

When he was sixteen, the saint arrived in Moscow and began the difficult exploit of foolishness for Christ. In the burning summer heat and in the winter’s harsh frost, he walked about barefoot through the streets of Moscow. His actions were strange: here he would upset a stand with kalachi, and there he would spill a jug with kvas. Angry merchants throttled the blessed one, but he endured the beatings with joy and he thanked God for them. Then it was discovered that the kalachi were poorly cooked, and the kvas was badly prepared. The reputation of St Basil quickly grew, and people saw him as a holy fool, a man of God, and a denouncer of wrong.

A certain merchant wanted to build a stone church on Pokrovna in Moscow, but its arches collapsed three times. The merchant turned to the saint for advice, and he pointed him toward Kiev. “Find there John the Cripple,” he said. “He will advise you how to construct the church.”

Traveling to Kiev, the merchant sought out John, who sat in a poor hut and rocked an empty cradle. “Whom do you rock?” asked the merchant. “I weep for my beloved mother, who was made poor by my birth and upbringing.” Only then did the merchant remember his own mother, whom he had thrown out of the house. Then it became clear to him why he was not able to build the church. Returning to Moscow, he brought his mother home, begged her forgiveness, and built the church.

Preaching mercy, the blessed one helped those who were ashamed to ask for alms, but who were more in need of help than others. Once, he gave away a rich imperial present to a foreign merchant who was left without anything at all. Although the man had eaten nothing for three days, he was not able to beg for food, since he wore fine clothing.

The saint harshly condemned those who gave alms for selfish reasons, not out of compassion for the poor and destitute, but hoping for an easy way to attract God’s blessings upon their affairs. Once, the saint saw a devil in the guise of a beggar. He sat at the gates of the All-Pure Virgin’s church, and he gave speedy help in their affairs to everyone who gave alms. The saint exposed the wicked trick and drove the devil away.

For the salvation of his neighbor, St Basil also visited the taverns, where he tried to see a grain of goodness, even in people very much gone to ruin, and to strengthen and encourage them by kindness. Many observed that when the saint passed by a house in which they made merry and drank, he wept and clutched the corners of that house. They inquired of the fool what this meant, and he answered: “Angels stand in sorrow at the house and are distressed by the sins of the people, but I entreat them with tears to pray to the Lord for the conversion of sinners.”

Purified by great deeds and by the prayer of his soul, the saint was also given the gift of foreseeing the future. In 1547 he predicted the great fire of Moscow; through prayer he extinguished a fire at Novgorod; and once he reproached Tsar Ivan the Terrible, because during the divine services he was preoccupied with thoughts of building a palace on the Vorobiev hills.

St Basil died on August 2, 1557. St Macarius, Metropolitan of Moscow served the saint’s funeral with many clergy . His body was buried in the cemetery of Trinity church, where in 1554, the Protection cathedral was built in memory of the conquest of Kazan. His Holiness Patriarch Job glorified St Basil the Blessed at a Council on August 2, 1588.

In an early icon, St Basil is portrayed as old, with white hair curling at the ears, and a short, curly white beard. He is completely naked, and holds a handkerchief in his hand. The veneration of St Basil the Blessed was always so strong that the Trinity temple and the attached Protection church were renamed for him [the famous St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow].

The saint’s chains are preserved at the Moscow Spiritual Academy.


Blessed Basil of Kubensk

The blessed Basil of Kamen lived during the fifteenth century, was a monk at the Savior-Kamen monastery, on an island of Lake Kuben (not far from Vologda). At the shrine of his relics, built afterwards in a church in honor of St Basil of Moscow, is a full-length icon of St Basil of Kamen, with heavy iron chains and a cap of iron strips.


Hieromartyr Stephen the Pope of Rome

The Hieromartyr Stephen, Pope of Rome, suffered in the year 257 during the reign of the emperor Valerian (253-259). St Stephen, occupying the throne (253-257) of the holy First Bishop of Rome, zealously contended against the heresy of Novatus, which taught that it is not proper to receive back those returning from heresy.

While hiding during a persecution against Christians, St Stephen baptized many pagans, including the military tribune Nemesius. He converted to Christ after the saint healed his daughter Lucilla. Nemesius, who was ordained as a deacon, was beheaded along with his daughter.

Their steward Symphronius was brought by the tribune Olympius into the temple of Mars for torture. His prayer shattered the golden idol, after which the tribune with his wife Exuperia and his son Theodolus believed and were baptized. They were all burned alive, and their remains were buried by holy Pope Stephen.

Then twelve of his clergy were beheaded: Bonus, Faustus, Maurus, Primitivus, Calumniosus, John, Exuperantus, Cyril, Theodore, Basil, Castelus, Honoratus and Tertullinus, all converted by St Stephen. Finally, St Stephen himself was led before the emperor Valerian (253-259) , who condemned him to beheading with a sword in the temple of Mars.

By the prayers of the saint, a large part of the pagan temple was destroyed, and the soldiers fled. The saint concealed himself in the catacombs (the resting place of Saint Lucina or Lucy), where he was later killed by soldiers while he was teaching Christians.


Martyrs with Stephen the Pope of Rome

These martyrs suffered during the reign of Valerian (253-259).

While hiding during a persecution against Christians, St Stephen baptized many pagans, including the military tribune Nemesius. He converted to Christ after the saint healed his daughter Lucilla. Nemesius, who was ordained as a deacon, was beheaded along with his daughter.