Lives of all saints commemorated on September 29


Venerable Cyriacus the Hermit of Palestine

Saint Cyriacus was born at Corinth to the priest John and his wife Eudokia. Bishop Peter of Corinth, who was a relative, seeing that Cyriacus was growing up as a quiet and sensible child, made him a reader in church. Constant reading of the Holy Scriptures awakened in him a love for the Lord and of a yearning for a pure and saintly life.

Once, when the youth was not yet eighteen years old, he was deeply moved during a church service by the words of the Gospel: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Mt.16:24). He believed these words applied to him, so he went right to the harbor without stopping at home, got onto a ship and went to Jerusalem.

After visiting the holy places, Cyriacus dwelt for several months at a monastery not far from Sion in obedience to the igumen Abba Eustorgius. With his blessing, he made his way to the wilderness Lavra of St Euthymius the Great (January 20). St Euthymius, discerning in the youth great gifts of God, tonsured him into the monastic schema and placed him under the guidance of St Gerasimus (March 4), pursuing asceticism at the Jordan in the monastery of St Theoctistus.

St Gerasimus, seeing the youthfulness of Cyriacus, ordered him to live in the community with the brethren. The young monk easily accomplished the monastic obediences: he prayed fervently, he slept little, he ate food only every other day, nourishing himself with bread and water.

During Great Lent it was the custom of St Gerasimus to go into the Rouva wilderness, returning to the monastery only on Palm Sunday. Seeing Cyriacus’ strict abstinence, he decided to take him with him. In complete solitude the ascetics redoubled their efforts. Each Sunday St Gerasimus imparted the Holy Mysteries to his disciple.

After the death of St Gerasimus, the twenty-seven-year-old Cyriacus returned to the Lavra of St Euthymius, but he was no longer among the living. St Cyriacus asked for a solitary cell and there he pursued asceticism in silence, communicating only with the monk Thomas. But soon Thomas was sent to Alexandria where he was consecrated bishop, and St Cyriacus spent ten years in total silence. At 37 years of age he was ordained to the diaconate.

When a split occurred between the monasteries of St Euthymius and St Theoctistus, St Cyriacus withdrew to the Souka monastery of St Chariton (September 28). At this monastery they received even tonsured monks as novices, and so was St Cyriacus received. He toiled humbly at the regular monastic obediences. After several years, St Cyriacus was ordained priest and chosen canonarch and did this obedience for eighteen years. St Cyriacus spent thirty years at the monastery of St Chariton.

Strict fasting and total lack of evil distinguished St Cyriacus even among the ascetics of the Lavra. In his cell each night he read the Psalter, interrupting the reading only to go to church at midnight. The ascetic slept very little. When the monk reached seventy years of age, he went to the Natoufa wilderness taking with him his disciple John.

In the desert the hermits fed themselves only with bitter herbs, which through the prayer of St Cyriacus was rendered edible. After five years one of the inhabitants found out about the ascetics and brought to them his demon-possessed son, and St Cyriacus healed him. From that time many people began to approach the monk with their needs, but he sought complete solitude and fled to the Rouva wilderness, where he dwelt five years more. But the sick and those afflicted by demons came to him in this wilderness, and the saint healed them all with the Sign of the Cross and by anointing them with oil.

At his 80th year of life St Cyriacus fled to the hidden Sousakim wilderness, where two dried up streams passed by. According to Tradition, the holy Prophet David brought Sousakim to attention: “Thou hast dried up the rivers of Etham” (Ps 73/74:15). After seven years, brethren of the Souka monastery came to him, beseeching his spiritual help during a period of debilitating hunger and illness, which God permitted. They implored St Cyriacus to return to the monastery, and he settled in a cave, in which St Chariton had once lived.

St Cyriacus rendered great help to the Church in the struggle with the spreading heresy of the Origenists. By prayer and by word, he brought the wayward back to the true path, and strengthened the Orthodox in their faith. Cyril, the author of the Life of St Cyriacus, and a monk of the Lavra of St Euthymius, was a witness when St Cyriacus predicted the impending death of the chief heretics Nonos and Leontius, and soon the heresy would cease to spread.

The Most Holy Theotokos Herself commanded St Cyriacus to keep to the Orthodox teaching in its purity: Having appeared to him in a dream together with the Sts John the Baptist and John the Theologian, She refused to enter into the cell of the monk because in it was a book with the words of the heretic Nestorius. “In your cell is My enemy,” She said (The appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos to St Cyriacus is commemorated on June 8).

At the age of ninety-nine, St Cyriacus again went off to Susakim and lived there with his disciple John. In the wilderness a huge lion waited on St Cyriacus, protecting him from robbers, but it did not bother wandering brethren and it ate from the monk’s hand.

Once in the heat of summer, all the water in the hollow of a rock dried up, where the ascetics had stored water during the winter, and there was no other source of water. St Cyriacus prayed, and rain fell, filling the pit with water.

For the two years before his death St Cyriacus returned to the monastery and again settled into the cave of St Chariton. Until the end of his life the righteous Elder preserved his courage, and prayed with fervor. He was never idle, either he prayed, or he worked. Before his death St Cyriacus summoned the brethren and blessed them all. He quietly fell asleep in the Lord, having lived 109 years.


Martyr Dada of Persia

The Martyrs Dadas, Gabeddas and Kazdoa accepted death for Christ under the Persian emperor Sapor. Dadas was chief steward under Sapor, and Sts Gabeddas and Kazdoa were the cruel emperor’s own children.

Not knowing that St Dadas was a Christian, the emperor appointed him as governor of one of the Persian districts. When it was discovered, he was stripped of all honors, sent to the court of the cruel torturer Andromelik and was condemned to be burned. Approaching the stake, St Dadas shielded himself with the Sign of the Cross, and the fire went out.

Seeing this miracle, the emperor’s stunned son Gabeddas believed in Christ and in the hearing of all, confessed his faith. The judge reported this to the emperor, and he commanded St Gabeddas to be fiercely tortured. But in all the sufferings divine strength preserved the saint.

An angel of the Lord comforted him, and each time the Lord restored health and strength to him. Beholding the miraculous healing of the holy martyr, many prisoners in the prison with him became Christians, even the sorcerer Gargal, and thus accepted martyrdom. The emperor’s daughter Kazdoa, sister of the Martyr Gabeddas, secretly visited him in prison and brought him water.

Another time Kazdoa saw her brother when the torturers tortured him anew. The holy martyr was hung on a cross, and a volley of arrows shot at him, but the arrows bounced off and struck the archers. Seeing his sister, he prevailed upon her to believe in Christ. St Kazdoa confessed herself a Christian, and by the command of her father the emperor Sapor, she was cruelly beaten and thrown into prison where her brother languished.

Suffering from her wounds, St Kazdoa asked her brother to pray for her. St Gabeddas, having said the prayer, assured his sister that she would suffer no more. On the following day during new tortures St Gabeddas, saw two presbyters Dadias and Abdi, asked them to bring oil and water, since he deeply wanted to receive holy Baptism.

At this moment a cloud overshadowed the martyr, from which poured out water and oil, and a voice was heard: “Servant of God, you have already received Baptism.” The face of the martyr became radiant, and in the air was the fragrance of perfume. The torturer commanded the saint to be pierced with spears, and after several hours he died with prayer on his lips.

His body was cut into three parts, but the priests Dadias, Abdi and the deacon Armazates took the holy relics and buried them reverently. The body of the holy Martyr Dadas, whom they also tortured for a long time and cut in parts, was also secretly buried by Christians.

At midnight the Martyr Gabeddas appeared to the priest Dadias, gave him a vessel with oil and sent him to the martyr Kazdoa to anoint her with oil and give her the Holy Mysteries. The priest did this and, at the very last, said to the holy martyr: “Sleep, sister, until the coming of the Lord,” and St Kazdoa departed to the Lord. The mother of the holy martyr prepared her for burial and with joy buried her with the Martyr Gabeddas.


Martyr Gabdelas of Persia

The Martyrs Dadas, Gabeddas and Kazdoa accepted death for Christ under the Persian emperor Sapor. Dadas was chief steward under Sapor, and Sts Gabeddas and Kazdoa were the cruel emperor’s own children.

Not knowing that St Dadas was a Christian, the emperor appointed him as governor of one of the Persian districts. When it was discovered, he was stripped of all honors, sent to the court of the cruel torturer Andromelik and was condemned to be burned. Approaching the stake, St Dadas shielded himself with the Sign of the Cross, and the fire went out.

Seeing this miracle, the emperor’s stunned son Gabeddas believed in Christ and in the hearing of all, confessed his faith. The judge reported this to the emperor, and he commanded St Gabeddas to be fiercely tortured. But in all the sufferings divine strength preserved the saint.

An angel of the Lord comforted him, and each time the Lord restored health and strength to him. Beholding the miraculous healing of the holy martyr, many prisoners in the prison with him became Christians, even the sorcerer Gargal, and thus accepted martyrdom. The emperor’s daughter Kazdoa, sister of the Martyr Gabeddas, secretly visited him in prison and brought him water.

Another time Kazdoa saw her brother when the torturers tortured him anew. The holy martyr was hung on a cross, and a volley of arrows shot at him, but the arrows bounced off and struck the archers. Seeing his sister, he prevailed upon her to believe in Christ. St Kazdoa confessed herself a Christian, and by the command of her father the emperor Sapor, she was cruelly beaten and thrown into prison where her brother languished.

Suffering from her wounds, St Kazdoa asked her brother to pray for her. St Gabeddas, having said the prayer, assured his sister that she would suffer no more. On the following day during new tortures St Gabeddas, saw two presbyters Dadias and Abdi, asked them to bring oil and water, since he deeply wanted to receive holy Baptism.

At this moment a cloud overshadowed the martyr, from which poured out water and oil, and a voice was heard: “Servant of God, you have already received Baptism.” The face of the martyr became radiant, and in the air was the fragrance of perfume. The torturer commanded the saint to be pierced with spears, and after several hours he died with prayer on his lips.

His body was cut into three parts, but the priests Dadias, Abdi and the deacon Armazates took the holy relics and buried them reverently. The body of the holy Martyr Dadas, whom they also tortured for a long time and cut in parts, was also secretly buried by Christians.

At midnight the Martyr Gabeddas appeared to the priest Dadias, gave him a vessel with oil and sent him to the martyr Kazdoa to anoint her with oil and give her the Holy Mysteries. The priest did this and, at the very last, said to the holy martyr: “Sleep, sister, until the coming of the Lord,” and St Kazdoa departed to the Lord. The mother of the holy martyr prepared her for burial and with joy buried her with the Martyr Gabeddas.


Martyr Kazdoa (Kasdoe) of Persia

The Martyrs Dadas, Gabeddas and Kazdoa accepted death for Christ under the Persian emperor Sapor. Dadas was chief steward under Sapor, and Sts Gabeddas and Kazdoa were the cruel emperor’s own children.

Not knowing that St Dadas was a Christian, the emperor appointed him as governor of one of the Persian districts. When it was discovered, he was stripped of all honors, sent to the court of the cruel torturer Andromelik and was condemned to be burned. Approaching the stake, St Dadas shielded himself with the Sign of the Cross, and the fire went out.

Seeing this miracle, the emperor’s stunned son Gabeddas believed in Christ and in the hearing of all, confessed his faith. The judge reported this to the emperor, and he commanded St Gabeddas to be fiercely tortured. But in all the sufferings divine strength preserved the saint.

An angel of the Lord comforted him, and each time the Lord restored health and strength to him. Beholding the miraculous healing of the holy martyr, many prisoners in the prison with him became Christians, even the sorcerer Gargal, and thus accepted martyrdom. The emperor’s daughter Kazdoa, sister of the Martyr Gabeddas, secretly visited him in prison and brought him water.

Another time Kazdoa saw her brother when the torturers tortured him anew. The holy martyr was hung on a cross, and a volley of arrows shot at him, but the arrows bounced off and struck the archers. Seeing his sister, he prevailed upon her to believe in Christ. St Kazdoa confessed herself a Christian, and by the command of her father the emperor Sapor, she was cruelly beaten and thrown into prison where her brother languished.

Suffering from her wounds, St Kazdoa asked her brother to pray for her. St Gabeddas, having said the prayer, assured his sister that she would suffer no more. On the following day during new tortures St Gabeddas, saw two presbyters Dadias and Abdi, asked them to bring oil and water, since he deeply wanted to receive holy Baptism.

At this moment a cloud overshadowed the martyr, from which poured out water and oil, and a voice was heard: “Servant of God, you have already received Baptism.” The face of the martyr became radiant, and in the air was the fragrance of perfume. The torturer commanded the saint to be pierced with spears, and after several hours he died with prayer on his lips.

His body was cut into three parts, but the priests Dadias, Abdi and the deacon Armazates took the holy relics and buried them reverently. The body of the holy Martyr Dadas, whom they also tortured for a long time and cut in parts, was also secretly buried by Christians.

At midnight the Martyr Gabeddas appeared to the priest Dadias, gave him a vessel with oil and sent him to the martyr Kazdoa to anoint her with oil and give her the Holy Mysteries. The priest did this and, at the very last, said to the holy martyr: “Sleep, sister, until the coming of the Lord,” and St Kazdoa departed to the Lord. The mother of the holy martyr prepared her for burial and with joy buried her with the Martyr Gabeddas.


Venerable Theophanes the Merciful of Gaza

Saint Theophanes the Merciful was an inhabitant of the Syrian city of Gaza. He was very kind and merciful. He took in vagrants, he helped the poor and the sick, and he spent all his substance on help for the needy, while he himself remained in want.

St Theophanes did not grieve at all over the loss of his property, but he lost his health, and sickness caused him great suffering. His body began to swell up, to rot, and to give off a stench. This ordeal the monk also endured in good spirit, giving thanks to God for all things.

A fierce storm raged while he was dying, and his wife grieved that she would not be able to give him proper burial. The saint comforted her: “Weep not, woman, for up to now the trial has lasted, but here comes help from the Merciful God, since in the hour of my death the storm will cease, by the will of God.” So it occurred: just as he gave up his soul to God, calmness prevailed. After death the body of St Theophanes became completely cleansed of wounds and decay and became fragrant, giving forth abundant healing myrrh.


St Onuphrius of the St David Gareji Monastery, Georgia

Saint Onuphrius of Gareji (Otar Machutadze in the world) lived and labored in the 18th century. He was a Kartlian aristocrat famed for his wealth, hospitality, and charity.

Longing for the ascetic life, Otar wore a hair shirt under his distinguished raiment and unceasingly prayed to God for the strength to lead the monastic life. He revealed his will to his wife: “I thirst to turn from this world and draw nearer to Christ,” he said. “Therefore, I beg your forgiveness for all my transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary.”

His faithful wife consented and permitted him to go in peace. Otar traveled with his two eldest sons to Tbilisi, blessed them, and bade them farewell for the last time. Then he set off for the David-Gareji Monastery, which at that time was led by the kindhearted superior Archimandrite Herman.

Archimandrite Herman received Otar with great joy, and after a short time he tonsured him a monk with the name Onuphrius.

Blessed Onuphrius was a peaceful, humble and obedient man and a tireless ascetic. He would keep vigil through the night, and after the morning prayers he would go down to the ravine and continue to chant psalms, shedding tears over his past transgressions. He ate just one meal a day of bread and water, after the hour of Vespers. Once the Dagestanis attacked the David-Gareji Monastery, plundered the church, and took captive several monks including Onuphrius, the priests Maxime and Ioakime, and four deacons. Onuphrius was the oldest among them. The unbelievers planned to stab him to death, but the Lord protected him from their evil scheme.

According to the will of the All-mercifulGod, Onuphrius was freed and returned to the monastery.

The brotherhood was impoverished after the invasion, so Archimandrite Herman sent St. Onuphrius on a mission to solicit alms. It was difficult for St. Onuphrius to depart from the monastery, but he unquestioningly obeyed the will of his superior: the former aristocrat began to walk from door to door, begging for charity. At Tskhinvali in Samachablo St. Onuphrius attracted the attention of a crowd of people leading a young, demon-possessed man. The saint approached them and discovered that they were bringing the young man to a fortuneteller for help.

With love and great boldness St. Onuphrius addressed the crowd, saying, “My children, such behavior is not fitting for Christian believers. Bring the young man to me!”

The young man’s mother fell on her knees before him, begging for help, but St. Onuphrius raised her up and proclaimed: “I have come bearing earth from the grave of St. David of Gareji. This will help your son!” He dissolved a pinch of the earth in water and gave it to the young man to drink, and he was immediately healed.

St. Onuphrius took with him his youngest son, John, and returned to the monastery with a great quantity of provisions.

Once a certain Arab with a wounded eye came to the monastery seeking help. St. Onuphrius washed his eye in water from the holy spring of David-Gareji, and he was immediately healed.

Later St. Onuphrius desired to be tonsured into the great schema. The superior was hesitant, and told Onuphrius to remain for twenty or thirty days at the grave of St. David praying and supplicating God to reveal His will. The saint remained there in prayer, and after thirty days God revealed to the abbot that Fr. Onuphrius was truly worthy of this honor. Then Schemamonk Onuphrius gave a vow of silence and began to sleep on a tattered mat. Under his clothing he wore a heavy chain, and he left his cell only to attend the divine services.

Soon Blessed Onuphrius became so exhausted that he was no longer able to stand. The brothers begged him to lie on a bed and rest his head on a pillow, but the blessed Onuphrius opened his mouth for the first time since taking the vow of silence and said, “I vow to end my days on this mat.”

St. Onuphrius endured his infirmities with thanksgiving and repeated the Jesus Prayer incessantly. When people came to receive his blessing, he would welcome them, saying, “Let me kiss the edge of your garments and wash your feet with my tears!”

Sensing that the end of his days was approaching, St. Onuphrius partook of the Holy Gifts and, eighteen days later, on the Feast of Theophany, fell asleep in the Lord.

St. Onuphrius was buried on the south side of the grave of St. David of Gareji, near the altar window.


St Cyprian of Ustiug

Saint Cyprian of Ustiug was a rich landowner, but turning from the vanities of the world, he received the angelic schema with the name Cyprian at the monastery of the Holy Trinity at Gledeno.

The inhabitants of the newly-established city of Ustiug begged St Cyprian to build a monastery somewhere near the city. St Cyprian, went about the city and observed its layout, then chose a place near shallow lakes at the Ostrozh falls and he started to construct a cell.

By the year 1212, he began to build a monastery in honor of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos, and a church in the name of St Michael, the Chief Commander of the Heavenly Hosts. The inhabitants of Ustiug, seeing the godliness of the holy ascetic, brought him all the necessities for building the monastery, and many began to pursue asceticism together with St Cyprian, who received everyone with joy and with love.

The holy monastery grew, and according to the account in the Ustiug Chronicle, St Cyprian “was chosen head of the holy monastery and pastor of the flock of Christ,” but out of humility he did not accept the priestly office. By his bed, there was a stone, evidence of the monk’s ascetic deeds. During his night prayers, the ascetic held it in his hands so as to maintain vigilance and be constantly at prayer. St Cyprian died on September 29, 1276 and was buried in the monastery he founded. Afterwards, at his tomb, a church was built in honor of the Feast of Mid-Pentecost.