Lives of all saints commemorated on October 7


Martyr Sergius in Syria

The Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus in Syria were appointed to high positions in the army by the emperor Maximian (284-305), who did not know that they were Christians. Envious people informed Maximian that his two trusted counsellors did not honor the pagan gods. This was considered to be a crime against the state.

The emperor, wanting to convince himself of the truth of the accusation, ordered Sergius and Bacchus to offer sacrifice to the idols, but they replied that they honored the One God and worshiped only Him.

Maximian commanded that the martyrs be stripped of the insignia of military rank (their belts, gold pendants, and rings), and then dressed them in feminine clothing. They were led through the city with an iron chains around their necks, and the people mocked them. Then he summoned Sergius and Bacchus to him again and in a friendly manner advised them not to be swayed by Christian fables, but to return to the Roman gods. The saints refuted the emperor’s words, and demonstrated the folly of worshiping the pagan gods.

The emperor commanded that they be sent to the governor of the eastern part of Syria, Antiochus, a fierce hater of Christians. Antiochus had received his position with the help of Sergius and Bacchus. “My fathers and benefactors!” he said. “Have pity on yourselves, and also on me. I do not want to condemn my benefactors to cruel tortures.” The holy martyrs replied, “For us life is Christ, and to die is gain.” The enraged Antiochus ordered Bacchus to be mercilessly beaten, and the holy martyr surrendered his soul to the Lord. They shod Sergius with iron sandals with nails in their soles and sent him to another city, where he was beheaded with the sword.


Martyr Bacchus in Syria

The Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus in Syria were appointed to high positions in the army by the emperor Maximian (284-305), who did not know that they were Christians. Envious people informed Maximian that his two trusted counsellors did not honor the pagan gods. This was considered to be a crime against the state.

The emperor, wanting to convince himself of the truth of the accusation, ordered Sergius and Bacchus to offer sacrifice to the idols, but they replied that they honored the One God and worshiped only Him.

Maximian commanded that the martyrs be stripped of the insignia of military rank (their belts, gold pendants, and rings), and then dressed them in feminine clothing. They were led through the city with an iron chains around their necks, and the people mocked them. Then he summoned Sergius and Bacchus to him again and in a friendly manner advised them not to be swayed by Christian fables, but to return to the Roman gods. The saints refuted the emperor’s words, and demonstrated the folly of worshiping the pagan gods.

The emperor commanded that they be sent to the governor of the eastern part of Syria, Antiochus, a fierce hater of Christians. Antiochus had received his position with the help of Sergius and Bacchus. “My fathers and benefactors!” he said. “Have pity on yourselves, and also on me. I do not want to condemn my benefactors to cruel tortures.” The holy martyrs replied, “For us life is Christ, and to die is gain.” The enraged Antiochus ordered Bacchus to be mercilessly beaten, and the holy martyr surrendered his soul to the Lord. They shod Sergius with iron sandals with nails in their soles and sent him to another city, where he was beheaded with the sword.


Venerable Sergius the Obedient of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Sergius the Obedient of the Kiev Caves, Near Caves, was a Greek who began his monastic life on Mount Athos. Later, he came to Russia and settled in the monastery of the Life-Giving Trinity under the guidance of St Sergius of Radonezh (July 5) and (September 25). After several years, with the blessing of the igumen, St Sergius went into the Vologda forests and settled at the bank of the River Nurma. There he set up a cross and built a chapel with a cell, in which he lived an ascetical life in deep silence, “going forth in angelic life,” and patiently enduring temptation from demons and malevolent people.

It pleased the Lord to summon the saint from his solitude, so that in his wisdom and spiritual experience he should serve for the salvation of others. From various places forty men gathered around him, thirsting for the spiritual life. By their common efforts, the brethren built a large church in honor of the Procession of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord (August 1). The monastic cells were built around the church.

St Paul of Obnora (January 10) led an ascetical life about three miles from the Nurma monastery, and St Sergius often visited him for soul-profiting conversation. When it was time for St Sergius to go back to his monastery, St Paul would accompany him for two-thirds of the way. Later, a chapel was built to mark the place where they parted. St Sergius died on October 7, 1412. Since 1546, the Church has venerated him for his saintly life.


Venerable Sergius the Abbot of Nurma and Disciple of the Venerable Sergius of Radonezh, Vologda

Saint Sergius of Nurma was originally from Greece, and traveled from Mt. Athos in order to converse with St Sergius of Radonezh (September 25)

and to ask his advice on spiritual matters, even though he himself was already an experienced Elder.

After spending some time with the great man, St Sergius went to the Vologda region near the river Nurma, a tributary of the river Obnora in order to live in solitude. Soon, monks and laymen came to join him, attracted by the holiness of his life. In time, about forty ascetics joined St Sergius in the wilderness. He established a monastery and built a church dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Lord.

One day, St Sergius encountered St Paul of Obnora (January 10) near his monastery, feeding birds from his hands. All creatures obeyed St Paul, just as they obeyed Adam in Paradise.

The two saints became very close and counseled one another in their spiritual endeavors. St Paul had St Sergius, who had been ordained to the holy priesthood on Mt. Athos, as his spiritual Father. St Paul would confess his thoughts to Sergius, and also received Holy Communion from him. When St Sergius would leave for his own home three miles away, St Paul walked with him two thirds of the way. A chapel was later built on the spot where the two saints parted.

St Paul told St Sergius that he heard church bells ringing one night while he was in the forest by the river Nurma, and that he had also seen a bright light. St Sergius predicted that a monastery would be founded there one day. He urged St Paul to build a church dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

St Sergius was twice attacked by bands of thieves. The first time they almost beat him to death. The second time they were driven off by the power of his prayers.

St Sergius fell asleep in the Lord on October 7, 1412 at an advanced age.


Uncovering of the relics of the Venerable Martinian the Abbot of Byeloezersk

Saint Martinian of White Lake, in the world Michael, was born in the year 1370 in the village of Berezniko, not far from the Cyrilov monastery. At age thirteen he left his parents and went secretly to St Cyril of White Lake (June 9), whom many described as a great ascetic.

The young Martinian began zealously to imitate his teacher, with whom he dwelt in complete obedience. At the monastery he studied reading and writing, and with the blessing of St Cyril, he occupied himself with the copying of books. In time Martinian was ordained deacon and then hieromonk.

After the death of St Cyril (+ 1427), Martinian withdrew to a deserted island on Lake Vozha. Several monks gradually gathered around him. St Martinian established for them the church of the Transfiguration of the Lord and introduced a general Rule for the inhabitants. Yielding to the persistent requests of the brethren of Therapon monastery, he consented to become igumen of the monastery and brought it into an improved condition.

St Martinian gave spiritual support to Great Prince Basil in the difficulties of his time, when his first-cousin Demetrius Shemyaka illicitly sought the Moscow throne. He was always an advocate of truth and justice. Afterwards, upon the entreaty of the Great Prince, the saint accepted the governance of the monastery of St Sergius of Radonezh.

In 1455, St Martinian returned to the Therapon monastery. In his last years he was grievously ill and not able to walk, so the brethren carried him to church. He died at age 85. His relics were uncovered in the year 1514, and this event is celebrated on October 7.


Martyr Julian the Presbyter at Terracina

The Martyr Julian the Presbyter suffered martyrdom for Christ with St Caesarius the Deacon at Terracina, Italy in the first century.

StCaesarius was thrown into prison for insulting the pagan gods. They later took him in bonds to the temple of Apollo, but before they got him near the pagan temple it collapsed, killing the pagan priests and many of the people.

About the same time the idolators arrested the Christian priest Julian. At the empreor’s orders, the holy martyrs were cast into the sea, but their bodies floated to the surface, and Christians buried the sufferers.

The relics of St Caesarius are kept in Rome.


Martyr Caesarius the Deacon at Terracina

The Martyr Caesarius the Deacon suffered martyrdom for Christ with St Julian the Presbyter at Terracina, Italy in the first century.

StCaesarius was thrown into prison for insulting the pagan gods. They later took him in bonds to the temple of Apollo, but before they got him near the pagan temple it collapsed, killing the pagan priests and many of the people.

About the same time the idolators arrested the Christian priest Julian. At the empreor’s orders, the holy martyrs were cast into the sea, but their bodies floated to the surface, and Christians buried the sufferers.

The relics of St Caesarius are kept in Rome.


Martyr Pelagia of Tarsus

Saint Pelagia of Tarsus in Cilicia (southeastern Asia Minor) lived in the third century, during the reign of Diocletian (284-305), and was the daughter of illustrious pagans. When she heard about Jesus Christ from her Christian friends, she believed in Him and desired to preserve her virginity, dedicating her whole life to the Lord.

Emperor Diocletian’s heir (a boy he adopted), saw the maiden Pelagia, was captivated by her beauty and wanted her to be his wife. The holy virgin told the youth that she was betrothed to Christ the Immortal Bridegroom, and had renounced earthly marriage.

Pelagia’s reply greatly angered the young man, but he decided to leave her in peace for awhile, hoping that she would change her mind. At the same time, Pelagia convinced her mother to let her visit the nurse who had raised her in childhood. She secretly hoped to find Bishop Linus of Tarsus, who had fled to a mountain during a persecution against Christians, and to be baptized by him. She had seen the face of Bishop Linus in a dream, which made a profound impression upon her. The holy bishop told her to be baptized. St Pelagia traveled in a chariot to visit her nurse, dressed in rich clothes and accompanied by a whole retinue of servants, as her mother wished.

Along the way St Pelagia, by the grace of God, met Bishop Linus. Pelagia immediately recognized the bishop who had appeared to her in the dream. She fell at his feet, requesting Baptism. At the bishop’s prayer a spring of water flowed from the ground.

Bishop Linus made the Sign of the Cross over St Pelagia, and during the Mystery of Baptism, angels appeared and covered the chosen one of God with a bright mantle. After giving the pious virgin Holy Communion, Bishop Linus offered a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord with her, and then sent her to continue her journey. She then exchanged her expensive clothing for a simple white garment, and distributed her possessions to the poor. Returning to her servants, St Pelagia told them about Christ, and many of them were converted and believed.

She tried to convert her own mother to Christ, but the obdurate woman sent a message to Diocletian’s son that Pelagia was a Christian and did not wish to be his wife. The youth realized that Pelagia was lost to him, and he fell upon his sword in his despair. Pelagia’s mother feared the emperor’s wrath, so she tied her daughter up and led her to Diocletian’s court as a Christian who was also responsible for the death of the heir to the throne. The emperor was captivated by the unusual beauty of the virgin and tried to turn her from her faith in Christ, promising her every earthly blessing if she would become his wife.

The holy virgin refused the emperor’s offer with contempt and said, “You are insane, Emperor, saying such things to me. I will not do your bidding, and I loathe your vile marriage, since I have Christ, the King of Heaven, as my Bridegroom. I do not desire your worldly crowns which last only a short while. The Lord in His heavenly Kingdom has prepared three imperishable crowns for me. The first is for faith, since I have believed in the true God with all my heart; the second is for purity, because I have dedicated my virginity to Him; the third is for martyrdom, since I want to accept every suffering for Him and offer up my soul because of my love for Him.”

Diocletian sentenced Pelagia to be burned in a red-hot bronze bull. Not permitting the executioners to touch her body, the holy martyr signed herself with the Sign of the Cross, and went into the brazen bull and her flesh melted like myrrh, filling the whole city with fragrance. St Pelagia’s bones remained unharmed and were removed by the pagans to a place outside the city. Four lions then came out of the wilderness and sat around the bones letting neither bird nor wild beast get at them. The lions protected the relics of the saint until Bishop Linus came to that place. He gathered them up and buried them with honor. Later, a church was built over her holy relics.

The Service to the holy Virgin Martyr Pelagia of Tarsus says that she was “deemed worthy of most strange and divine visions.” She is also commemorated on May 4.


Martyr Polychronius the Presbyter

The Martyr Polychronius the Presbyter was the son of a landowner, raised with a love for work and in Christian piety. Reaching maturity, Polychronius left his parents’ home for Constantinople and began to work for one of the rich vineyard owners.

The vineyard owner was amazed at the youth’s love for toil and the ascetic life. For his fine work the saint received much money, with which he built a church. Soon he was ordained to the priesthood. According to Tradition, St Polychronius participated in the First Ecumenical Council. He was martyred by Arian heretics at the altar of the church (4th Century).


99 Martyred Fathers of Crete

These 99 martyrs were from Crete. The most prominent among them was called John, and he was known as a wonderworker. He knelt so much in prayer that he was not able to walk, and had to move about on his knees.

One day a woodsman saw him going about in this way. Thinking that it was some wild animal, he shot the saint with an arrow. It is said that the other ninety-eight Fathers also died on that same day.

It is not known when these holy ascetics lived.


Icon of the Mother of God “Tenderness” of the Pskov Caves

The October 7 Feast of the “Tenderness” Icon (May 21) was established in memory of the deliverance of Pskov from the invasion of Napoleon in 1812.


Venerable Joseph the Elder and Wonderworker of Khevi, Georgia

Little is known about the life of St. Joseph of Khevi. The Church is certain only that he was a native of Khevi (in northern Georgia) and served as a priest in that village. In addition to being great warriors, the people of Khevi have throughout history been remarkably steadfast in the Christian Faith. The churches and monasteries in Khevi are extraordinary in both beauty and inaccessibility. They were deliberately built in mountainous places, as if reaching them should demand the greatest of zeal.

The most important ornament and symbol of Khevi is the ice that perpetually caps the peak of Mt. Kazbegi. On the slope of this mountain stands Trinity Monastery, where at one time St. Nino’s cross was preserved (it is presently kept in Tbilisi, in the northern section of the iconostasis at Sioni Cathedral).

Located above Trinity Monastery, on the ice-covered, vertical cliff of Mt. Kazbegi, is a cave hermitage at 13,450 feet, known as the Bethlehem Cave. It is possible to reach this hermitage only by climbing chains let down from its height. According to the chronicle Life of Kartli, this cave has throughout history been used to store sacred objects and treasures of the Church.

The historian David Batonishvili records that St. Joseph was especially known for his love of holy objects, for keeping the strictest of fasts, and for his outstanding virtues. He climbed to the Bethlehem Hermitage and returned with a piece of the tent of the patriarch Abraham, (Georgian tradition relates that both the tent of the Patriarch Abraham and the manger of Christ were kept in the Bethlehem Cave for many centuries.) which he presented to King Erekle. Having attained the heights of clairvoyance and miracle-working, St. Joseph reposed peacefully in the year 1763.