Lives of all saints commemorated on September 23


Conception of the Honorable Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

The Conception of the Venerable Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John: The holy Prophet Malachi prophesied that before the Messiah’s birth His Forerunner would appear, and would indicate His coming. The Jews therefore in awaiting the Messiah also awaited the appearance of His Forerunner.

In a city of the hills of Judea in the land of Palestine lived the righteous priest St Zachariah and his wife St Elizabeth, zealously observing the commandments of the Lord. The couple, however, had a misfortune: they remained childless in their old age, and they prayed unceasingly to God to grant them a child.

Once, when St Zachariah took his turn as priest at the Temple of Jerusalem, he went into the Sanctuary to offer incense. Going behind the veil of the Sanctuary, he beheld an angel of God standing at the right side of the altar of incense.

St Zachariah was astonished and halted in fear, but the angel said to him, “Fear not, Zachariah, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.” But Zachariah did not believe the words of the heavenly messenger, and then the angel said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you the good news. Behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words....”

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zachariah and they were astonished that he had not come out from the Sanctuary after so long a time. And when he did come out, he was supposed to pronounce a blessing upon the people, but could not do so because he had been struck speechless. When Zachariah explained by gestures that he was unable to speak, the people then understood that he had experienced a vision. The prophecy of the Archangel was fulfilled, and Righteous Elizabeth was delivered from her barrenness, and gave birth to John, the Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord.


St Xanthippe Disciple of the Apostles, who died in Spain

The Monastic Women Xanthippe and Polyxene were sisters by birth and they lived in Spain in the time of the holy Apostles. They were among the first to hear the divine teaching of Christ the Savior from the holy Apostle Paul, when he preached in their land.

St Xanthippe and her husband Probus accepted Christianity, but St Polyxene was still a pagan when a certain man became entranced with her extraordinary beauty and forcibly carried her off to Greece on a ship. The Lord preserved her unharmed. On the voyage, the saint heard the preaching of the holy Apostle Peter and believed in Christ.

When she arrived in Greece, St Polyxene turned to the Christians for protection and defense and they hid her in the city of Patra in Achaia, where she formally accepted Christianity and was baptized by the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called himself.

She became a witness to his miracles, and how he patiently and humbly endured his sufferings and death. She stood at the cross upon which they crucified the holy Apostle Andrew. After his martyric death, St Polyxene returned to Spain, where she and her older sister Xanthippe converted many pagans to Christ. St Polyxene toiled for about forty years preaching the Gospel in Spain. St Xanthippe shared in her sister’s work and preached in the populous city of Toledo.

St Polyxene reposed in about the year 109, having preserved her virginity to the end of her earthly life.


St Polyxene the Disciple of the Apostles, who died in Spain

The Monastic Women Xanthippe and Polyxene were sisters by birth and they lived in Spain in the time of the holy Apostles. They were among the first to hear the divine teaching of Christ the Savior from the holy Apostle Paul, when he preached in their land.

St Xanthippe and her husband Probus accepted Christianity, but St Polyxene was still a pagan when a certain man became entranced with her extraordinary beauty and forcibly carried her off to Greece on a ship. The Lord preserved her unharmed. On the voyage, the saint heard the preaching of the holy Apostle Peter and believed in Christ.

When she arrived in Greece, St Polyxene turned to the Christians for protection and defense and they hid her in the city of Patra in Achaia, where she formally accepted Christianity and was baptized by the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called himself.

She became a witness to his miracles, and how he patiently and humbly endured his sufferings and death. She stood at the cross upon which they crucified the holy Apostle Andrew. After his martyric death, St Polyxene returned to Spain, where she and her older sister Xanthippe converted many pagans to Christ. St Polyxene toiled for about forty years preaching the Gospel in Spain. St Xanthippe shared in her sister’s work and preached in the populous city of Toledo.

St Polyxene reposed in about the year 109, having preserved her virginity to the end of her earthly life.


Virginmartyr Irais (Rhais) of Alexandria

The Holy Martyr Iraida lived at Alexandria. Once, she went to a well to draw water and saw a ship at the shore. On board were a large number of men, women, clergy and monks, all fettered in chains for their confession of the Christian Faith.

Casting aside her water pitcher, the saint voluntarily joined the prisoners for Christ, and fetters were placed on her, too. When the ship arrived in the Egyptian city of Antipolis, St Iraida was the first to undergo fierce torments and was beheaded with the sword. After her, the other martyrs sealed their confession of faith in Christ with their blood.


Martyr Andrew of Syracuse, martyred in Africa

The Holy Martyrs Andrew and John, and John’s Children Peter and Antoninus, suffered in the ninth century in the time of the cruel African ruler Ibrahim. After the capture and destruction of the Sicilian city of Syracuse, Ibrahim captured and brought to Africa St John and his two children, Peter and Antoninus, whom he compelled to study the Arab language and sciences.

When the youths had grown, Prince Ibrahim was so fond of them for their wisdom and virtuous life, that he named Antoninus his kinsman, and he appointed Peter as his chief steward. Once he learned that the youths secretly confessed faith in Christ, however, Ibrahim flew into a furious rage, ordering them to be bound with iron shackles and beaten with knotted rods.

After prolonged scourging, they put St Antoninus on a donkey, tied him on with straps, then drove him through the city, beating and ridiculing him with abuse. The martyr endured all the insults and gave thanks to God. St Peter was thrown into prison after a fierce beating with the rods.

An order was issued to arrest John, the father of the holy martyrs. The brutal Ibrahim grabbed him by the neck with his left hand, and with his right he thrust a knife into his throat. They threw the body of the father together with the bodies of his sons. They then lit a large fire and cast the bodies of the holy martyrs into it.

As for St Andrew, the torturer wore him down with hunger, and then ran him through with a spear in the chest. When the martyr prayerfully began to give thanks to God, Ibrahim ran him through a second time. As he lay dying from loss of blood, they beheaded the righteous martyr with a sword.


Martyr John of Syracuse, Martyred in Africa

The Holy Martyrs Andrew and John, and John’s Children Peter and Antoninus, suffered in the ninth century in the time of the cruel African ruler Ibrahim. After the capture and destruction of the Sicilian city of Syracuse, Ibrahim captured and brought to Africa St John and his two children, Peter and Antoninus, whom he compelled to study the Arab language and sciences.

When the youths had grown, Prince Ibrahim was so fond of them for their wisdom and virtuous life, that he named Antoninus his kinsman, and he appointed Peter as his chief steward. Once he learned that the youths secretly confessed faith in Christ, however, Ibrahim flew into a furious rage, ordering them to be bound with iron shackles and beaten with knotted rods.

After prolonged scourging, they put St Antoninus on a donkey, tied him on with straps, then drove him through the city, beating and ridiculing him with abuse. The martyr endured all the insults and gave thanks to God. St Peter was thrown into prison after a fierce beating with the rods.

An order was issued to arrest John, the father of the holy martyrs. The brutal Ibrahim grabbed him by the neck with his left hand, and with his right he thrust a knife into his throat. They threw the body of the father together with the bodies of his sons. They then lit a large fire and cast the bodies of the holy martyrs into it.

As for St Andrew, the torturer wore him down with hunger, and then ran him through with a spear in the chest. When the martyr prayerfully began to give thanks to God, Ibrahim ran him through a second time. As he lay dying from loss of blood, they beheaded the righteous martyr with a sword.


Martyr Peter of Syracuse with his father John, martyred in Africa

The Holy Martyrs Andrew and John, and John’s Children Peter and Antoninus, suffered in the ninth century in the time of the cruel African ruler Ibrahim. After the capture and destruction of the Sicilian city of Syracuse, Ibrahim captured and brought to Africa St John and his two children, Peter and Antoninus, whom he compelled to study the Arab language and sciences.

When the youths had grown, Prince Ibrahim was so fond of them for their wisdom and virtuous life, that he named Antoninus his kinsman, and he appointed Peter as his chief steward. Once he learned that the youths secretly confessed faith in Christ, however, Ibrahim flew into a furious rage, ordering them to be bound with iron shackles and beaten with knotted rods.

After prolonged scourging, they put St Antoninus on a donkey, tied him on with straps, then drove him through the city, beating and ridiculing him with abuse. The martyr endured all the insults and gave thanks to God. St Peter was thrown into prison after a fierce beating with the rods.

An order was issued to arrest John, the father of the holy martyrs. The brutal Ibrahim grabbed him by the neck with his left hand, and with his right he thrust a knife into his throat. They threw the body of the father together with the bodies of his sons. They then lit a large fire and cast the bodies of the holy martyrs into it.

As for St Andrew, the torturer wore him down with hunger, and then ran him through with a spear in the chest. When the martyr prayerfully began to give thanks to God, Ibrahim ran him through a second time. As he lay dying from loss of blood, they beheaded the righteous martyr with a sword.


Martyr Antoninus of Syracuse with his father John, martyred in Africa

The Holy Martyrs Andrew and John, and John’s Children Peter and Antoninus, suffered in the ninth century in the time of the cruel African ruler Ibrahim. After the capture and destruction of the Sicilian city of Syracuse, Ibrahim captured and brought to Africa St John and his two children, Peter and Antoninus, whom he compelled to study the Arab language and sciences.

When the youths had grown, Prince Ibrahim was so fond of them for their wisdom and virtuous life, that he named Antoninus his kinsman, and he appointed Peter as his chief steward. Once he learned that the youths secretly confessed faith in Christ, however, Ibrahim flew into a furious rage, ordering them to be bound with iron shackles and beaten with knotted rods.

After prolonged scourging, they put St Antoninus on a donkey, tied him on with straps, then drove him through the city, beating and ridiculing him with abuse. The martyr endured all the insults and gave thanks to God. St Peter was thrown into prison after a fierce beating with the rods.

An order was issued to arrest John, the father of the holy martyrs. The brutal Ibrahim grabbed him by the neck with his left hand, and with his right he thrust a knife into his throat. They threw the body of the father together with the bodies of his sons. They then lit a large fire and cast the bodies of the holy martyrs into it.

As for St Andrew, the torturer wore him down with hunger, and then ran him through with a spear in the chest. When the martyr prayerfully began to give thanks to God, Ibrahim ran him through a second time. As he lay dying from loss of blood, they beheaded the righteous martyr with a sword.


Icon of the Mother of God of Slovenka

The Slovenka Icon of the Mother of God manifested itself on September 23, 1635 at the village of Slovenka, Kostroma district. A certain hunter while hunting by chance discovered a small rickety church, overgrown with moss. He went inside and saw that all the church utensils had rotted with time, except for the altar icon of the Mother of God, which was perfectly unharmed. A monastery was afterwards built at this place.