Lives of all saints commemorated on September 14


The Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

The Elevation of the Venerable and Life-Creating Cross of the Lord: The pagan Roman emperors tried to completely eradicate from human memory the holy places where our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and was resurrected for mankind. The Emperor Hadrian (117-138) gave orders to cover over the ground of Golgotha and the Sepulchre of the Lord, and to build a temple of the pagan goddess Venus and a statue of Jupiter.

Pagans gathered at this place and offered sacrifice to idols there. Eventually after 300 years, by Divine Providence, the great Christian sacred remains, the Sepulchre of the Lord and the Life-Creating Cross were again discovered and opened for veneration. This took place under the Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337) after his victory in the year 312 over Maxentius, ruler of the Western part of the Roman empire, and over Licinius, ruler of its Eastern part. In the year 323 Constantine became the sole ruler of the vast Roman Empire.

In 313 he had issued the Edict of Milan, by which the Christian religion was legalized and the persecutions against Christians in the Western half of the empire were stopped. The ruler Licinius, although he had signed the Edict of Milan to oblige Constantine, still fanatically continued the persecutions against Christians. Only after his conclusive defeat did the 313 Edict of toleration extend also to the Eastern part of the empire. The Holy Equal of the Apostles Emperor Constantine, having gained victory over his enemies in three wars with God’s assistance, had seen in the heavens the Sign of the Cross, and written beneath: “By this you shall conquer.”

Ardently desiring to find the Cross on which our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, St Constantine sent his mother, the pious Empress Helen (May 21), to Jerusalem, providing her with a letter to St Macarius, Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Although the holy empress Helen was already in her declining years, she set about completing the task with enthusiasm. The empress gave orders to destroy the pagan temple and the statues in Jerusalem. Searching for the Life-Creating Cross, she made inquiry of Christians and Jews, but for a long time her search remained unsuccessful.

Finally, they directed her to a certain elderly Hebrew by the name of Jude who stated that the Cross was buried where the temple of Venus stood. They demolished the pagan temple and, after praying, they began to excavate the ground. Soon the Tomb of the Lord was uncovered. Not far from it were three crosses, a board with the inscription ordered by Pilate, and four nails which had pierced the Lord’s Body (March 6).

In order to discern on which of the three crosses the Savior was crucified, Patriarch Macarius alternately touched the crosses to a corpse. When the Cross of the Lord touched the dead one, he came to life. Having beheld the raising of the dead man, everyone was convinced that the Life-Creating Cross was found.

Christians came in a huge throng to venerate the Holy Cross, beseeching St Macarius to elevate the Cross, so that even those far off might reverently contemplate it. Then the Patriarch and other spiritual leaders raised up the Holy Cross, and the people, saying “Lord have mercy,” reverently prostrated before the Venerable Wood. This solemn event occurred in the year 326.

During the discovery of the Life-Creating Cross another miracle took place: a grievously sick woman, beneath the shadow of the Holy Cross, was healed instantly. The elder Jude and other Jews there believed in Christ and accepted Holy Baptism. Jude received the name Cyriacus and afterwards was consecrated Bishop of Jerusalem.

During the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363) he accepted a martyr’s death for Christ (see October 28). The holy empress Helen journeyed to the holy places connected with the earthly life of the Savior, building more than 80 churches, at Bethlehem the birthplace of Christ, and on the Mount of Olives where the Lord ascended to Heaven, and at Gethsemane where the Savior prayed before His sufferings and where the Mother of God was buried after her death.

St Helen took part of the Life-Creating Wood and nails with her to Constantinople. The holy emperor Constantine gave orders to build at Jerusalem a majestic and spacious church in honor of the Resurrection of Christ, also including under its roof the Life-Giving Tomb of the Lord and Golgotha. The temple was constructed in about ten years. St Helen did not survive until the dedication of the temple, she died in the year 327. The church was consecrated on September 13, 335. On the following day, September 14, the festal celebration of the Exaltation of the Venerable and Life-Creating Cross was established.

Another event connected to the Cross of the Lord is remembered also on this day: its return to Jerusalem from Persia after a fourteen year captivity. During the reign of the Byzantine emperor Phocas (602-610) the Persian emperor Khozroes II in a war against the Greeks defeated the Greek army, plundered Jerusalem and captured both the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord and the Holy Patriarch Zachariah (609-633).

The Cross remained in Persia for fourteen years and only under the emperor Heraclius (610-641), who with the help of God defeated Khozroes and concluded peace with his successor and son Syroes, was the Cross of the Lord returned to the Christians.

With great solemnity the Life-creating Cross was transferred to Jerusalem. Emperor Heraclius in imperial crown and royal purple carried the Cross of Christ into the temple of the Resurrection. With the emperor went Patriarch Zacharios. At the gates by which they ascended Golgotha, the emperor suddenly stopped and was not able to proceed farther. The holy Patriarch explained to the emperor that an angel of the Lord was blocking his way. The emperor was told to remove his royal trappings and to walk barefoot, since He Who bore the Cross for the salvation of the world from sin had made His way to Golgotha in all humility. Then Heraclius donned plain garb, and without further hindrance, carried the Cross of Christ into the church.

In a sermon on the Exaltation of the Cross, St Andrew of Crete (July 4) says: “The Cross is exalted, and everything true gathers together, the Cross is exalted, and the city makes solemn, and the people celebrate the feast”.


Repose of St John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople

Saint John Chrysostom died on September 14, 407, but because of the feast of the Exaltation of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord, the commemoration of the saint was transferred to November 13. On January 27 we commemorate the transfer of the holy relics of St John Chrysostom from Comana to Constantinople, and on January 30, the Synaxis of the Three Hierarchs.


Monkmartyr Macarius of Dionysiou on Mt Athos

No information available at this time.


Monkmartyr Joseph of Dionysiou on Mt Athos

Saint Joseph was a monk of Dionysiou Monastery on Mt. Athos, where he shone forth with the virtues of monastic life. He was an iconographer, and he painted the icon of the holy Archangels on the iconostasis of Dionysiou’s main church.

In obedience to the instructions of Igumen Stephen, St Joseph traveled to Constantinople with Eudocimus, who had apostasized from Orthodoxy to become a Moslem. Eudocimus repented, and wished to wipe out his sin through martyrdom.

When faced with torture and death, however, the unfortunate Eudocimus denied Christ again, blaming Joseph for turning him from Islam.

St Joseph was arrested and threatened with death. In spite of many tortures, he refused to convert to Islam. This holy martyr of Christ was hanged on February 17, 1819, and so he obtained an incorruptible crown of glory.

Some sources list his commemoration on February 17, while others list him on September 14 or October 26.


Icon of the Mother of God of Lesna

The Lesna Icon of the Mother of God was discovered on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross of the Lord in 1683 by a shepherd on the branches of a pear tree, and taken to a nearby Orthodox church of the village of Bukovich, not far from the town of Lesna.

When news of the miraculously appearing icon circulated throughout all the surrounding area, the Catholic priests then decided to use the icon for spreading Catholicism. They took away the icon by force from the inhabitants of Bukovich in 1686 and put it in the Roman church at Lesna.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, monks of a Catholic order founded a large Roman church and monastery at Lesna, in which was the wonderworking icon. In 1863 the monks of the order took part in the Polish revolt, and, by decree of the Russian government, the monastery was closed and converted into an Orthodox women’s monastery. Many miracles were worked by the icon. The celebration of the Lesna Icon of the Mother of God is celebrated also on September 8 and on the Day of the Holy Trinity.


Repose of St. Anthimus, Bishop of Georgia

Saint Anthimus of Iberia was one of the most highly educated people of his time. He was fluent in many languages, including Greek, Romanian, Old Slavonic, Arabic, and Turkish and well-versed in theology, literature, and the natural sciences. He was unusually gifted in the fine arts—in painting, engraving, and sculpture in particular. He was famed for his beautiful calligraphy. Finally, St. Anthimus was a great writer, a renowned orator, and a reformer of the written Romanian language.

Little is known about the youth of St. Anthimus. He was a native of the Samtskhe region in southern Georgia. His parents, John and Mariam, gave him the name Andria at Baptism. He accompanied King Archil to Russia and helped him to found a Georgian print shop there, but after he returned he was captured by Dagestani robbers and sold into slavery. Through the efforts of Patriarch Dositheus of Jerusalem, Anthimus was finally set free, but he remained in the patriarch’s service in order to further his spiritual education.

Already famed for his paintings, engravings, and calligraphy, Anthimus was asked by Prince Constantine Brincoveanu (1688-1714) of Wallachia (present-day Romania) to travel to his kingdom around the year 1691. After he had arrived inWallachia, he began to manage a local print shop. The printing industry in that country advanced tremendously at that time, and the chief inspiration and driving force behind the great advances was the Georgian master Anthimus. He succeeded in making Wallachia a center of Christianity and a major publisher of books for all the East.

In 1694 Anthimus was enthroned as abbot of Snagov Monastery (in present-day Romania), where he soon founded a print shop. In the same year his new print shop published Guidelines for the Divine Services on May 21, All Saints’ Day. The book was signed by Subdeacon Michael Ishtvanovich, future founder of the first Georgian print shop.

In 1705 Anthimus, “the chosen among chosen abbots of Wallachia,” was consecrated bishop of Rimnicu Vilcea, and in 1708 he was appointed metropolitan of Hungro-Wallachia. The whole country celebrated his elevation. As one abbot proclaimed: “The divine Anthimus, a great man and son of the wise Iberian nation, has come to Wallachia and enlightened our land. God has granted him an inexhaustible source of wisdom, entrusted him to accomplish great endeavors, and helped to advance our nation by establishing for us a great printing industry.”

Under the direct leadership of St. Anthimus, more than twenty churches and monasteries were erected in Wallachia. Of particular significance is All Saints’ Monastery, located in the center of Bucharest. The main gates of this monastery were made of oak and carved with traditional Georgian motifs by St. Anthimus himself. The metropolitan also established rules for the monastery and declared its independence from the Church of Constantinople.

From the day of his consecration, Metropolitan Anthimus fought tirelessly for the liberation of Wallachia from foreign oppressors. On the day he was ordained he addressed his flock: “You have defended the Christian Faith in purity and without fault. Nevertheless, you are surrounded and tightly bound by the violence of other nations. You endure countless deprivations and tribulations from those who dominate this world.... Though I am unworthy and am indeed younger than many of you—like David, I am the youngest among my brothers— the Lord God has anointed me to be your shepherd. Thus I will share in your future trials and griefs and partake in the lot that God has appointed for you.”

His words were prophetic: In 1714 the Turks executed the Wallachian prince Constantine Brincoveanu, and in 1716 they executed Stefan Cantacuzino (1714-1716), the last prince of Wallachia.

In his place they appointed the Phanariote (a member of one of the principal Greek families of the Phanar, the Greek quarter of Constantinople, who, as administrators in the civil bureaucracy, exercised great influence in the Ottoman Empire after the Turkish conquest.) Nicholas Mavrokordatos, who concerned himself only with the interests of the Ottoman Empire.

During this difficult time, Anthimus of Iberia gathered around him a group of loyal boyar patriots determined to liberate their country from Turkish and Phanariote domination. But Nicholas Mavrokordatos became suspicious, and he ordered Anthimus to resign as metropolitan. When Anthimus failed to do so, he filed a complaint with Patriarch Jeremiah of Constantinople.

Then a council of bishops, which did not include a single Romanian clergyman, condemned the “conspirator and instigator of revolutionary activity” to anathema and excommunication and declared him unworthy to be called a monk. But Nicholas Mavrokordatos was still unsatisfied and claimed that to deny Anthimus the title of Metropolitan of Hungro-Wallachia was insufficient punishment. He ordered Anthimus to be exiled far from Wallachia, to St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mt. Sinai. Metropolitan Anthimus, beloved of the Romanian people, was escorted out of the city at night since the conspirators feared the reaction of the people.

But Metropolitan Anthimus never reached Mt. Sinai. On September 14, 1716, a band of Turkish soldiers stabbed St. Anthimus to death on the bank of the Tundzha (Tunca) River where it flows through Adrianople, not far from Gallipoli, and cast his butchered remains into the river.

Thus ended the earthly life of one more Georgian saint—a man who had dedicated all of his strength, talent, and knowledge to the revival of Christian culture and the strengthening of the Wallachian people in the Orthodox Faith.

In 1992 the Romanian Church canonized Anthimus of Iberia and proclaimed his commemoration day to be September 14, the day of his repose. The Georgian Church commemorates him on June 13.