Lives of all saints commemorated on October 24


Martyr Arethas

The Martyr Arethas and with him 4299 Martyrs suffered for the Lord Jesus Christ in the sixth century. Arethas was prefect of the Christian city of Negran in Arabia. The Arabian (or Omirite) king, Dunaan, who was Jewish, decided to eliminate Christianity from the land. He issued an edict that all followers of Christ were to be put to death.

Because the inhabitants of Negran remained faithful to the Lord, Dunaan came with a large army to destroy the city. At the city walls of Negran the king’s heralds announced that Dunaan would only spare those who renounced Christ and referred to His Cross as a “sign of malediction.”

Not daring to assault the Christian city by force, Dunaan resorted to a ruse. Dunaan swore an oath that he would not force the Christians into Judaism, but would merely collect a tribute from Negran. The inhabitants of the city would not heed the advice of St Arethas, and putting their trust in Dunaan, they opened the city gates.

The very next day Dunaan gave orders to light an immense fire and throw all the clergy of the city into it in order to frighten the rest of the Christians. 427 men were burned. He also threw the prefect Arethas and the other chief men into prison. Then the oppressor sent his messengers through the city to convert the Christians to Judaism. Dunaan himself conversed with those inhabitants brought from the prisons, saying, “I do not demand that you should renounce the God of heaven and earth, nor do I want you to worship idols, I want merely that you do not believe in Jesus Christ, since the Crucified One was a man, and not God.”

The holy martyrs replied that Jesus is God the Word, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Who for the salvation of mankind was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. Those suffering said, “We shall not abjure Christ, since He is Life for us. To die for Him is to find Life.”

More than four thousand Christians, men, women, both the aged and children, from the city of Negran and surrounding villages suffered martyrdom for Christ.


4,299 Martyrs with Arethas

The 4299 Martyrs suffered for the Lord Jesus Christ with St Arethas in the sixth century. Arethas was prefect of the Christian city of Negran in Arabia. The Arabian (or Omirite) king, Dunaan, who was Jewish, decided to eliminate Christianity from the land. He issued an edict that all followers of Christ were to be put to death.

Because the inhabitants of Negran remained faithful to the Lord, Dunaan came with a large army to destroy the city. At the city walls of Negran the king’s heralds announced that Dunaan would only spare those who renounced Christ and referred to His Cross as a “sign of malediction.”

Not daring to assault the Christian city by force, Dunaan resorted to a ruse. Dunaan swore an oath that he would not force the Christians into Judaism, but would merely collect a tribute from Negran. The inhabitants of the city would not heed the advice of St Arethas, and putting their trust in Dunaan, they opened the city gates.

The very next day Dunaan gave orders to light an immense fire and throw all the clergy of the city into it in order to frighten the rest of the Christians. 427 men were burned. He also threw the prefect Arethas and the other chief men into prison. Then the oppressor sent his messengers through the city to convert the Christians to Judaism. Dunaan himself conversed with those inhabitants brought from the prisons, saying, “I do not demand that you should renounce the God of heaven and earth, nor do I want you to worship idols, I want merely that you do not believe in Jesus Christ, since the Crucified One was a man, and not God.”

The holy martyrs replied that Jesus is God the Word, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Who for the salvation of mankind was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. Those suffering said, “We shall not abjure Christ, since He is Life for us. To die for Him is to find Life.”

More than four thousand Christians, men, women, both the aged and children, from the city of Negran and surrounding villages suffered martyrdom for Christ.


Venerable Arethus the Recluse of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Arethas (12th century), Sisoes (13th century), and Theophilus (12th-13th century) were hermits of the Near Caves in Kiev. They struggled at the Kiev Caves monastery and were buried in the Near Caves.

St Arethas was from Polotsk. While living at the monastery, he kept many possessions in his cell. One day robbers made off with it. Grieving over his lost riches, St Arethas began to murmur against God, for which he was stricken with a serious illness. Being at the very brink of death, he saw how both angels and devils had come for him and were arguing between them. The devils asserted that he ought to be given over to them because of his avarice and complaints against God. Then the angels said to him, “You hapless man, if you had given thanks to God for the pilfered riches, this would have been accounted as charity for you.”

After this vision, the saint recovered. He spent his final days as a hermit, in distress and repentance over his sins, having renounced all earthly possessions. St Arethas died not later than 1190. In the Iconographic Manuals, the saint is described in this way: “In appearance stooped over, his beard the same length as Kozmina, dressed in monastic garb.”

The general commemoration of all the Fathers of the Near Caves takes place on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Venerable Sisoes the Recluse of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Sisoes (13th century), Arethas (12th century), and Theophilus (12th-13th century) were hermits of the Near Caves in Kiev. They struggled at the Kiev Caves monastery and were buried in the Near Caves.

In the general service for the Fathers of the Kiev Caves, St Sisoes is called “radiant in fasting.”

The general commemoration of all the Fathers of the Near Caves takes place on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Venerable Theophilus the Recluse of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Theophilus (12th-13th century), Arethas (12th century), and Sisoes (13th century), were hermits of the Near Caves in Kiev. They struggled at the Kiev Caves monastery and were buried in the Near Caves.

St Theophilus, in the general service to the Fathers of the Kiev Caves, is called “resplendant in miracles.”

The general commemoration of all the Fathers of the Near Caves takes place on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Blessed Elesbaan the King of Ethiopia

Saint Elesbaan, King of Ethiopia lived when Arabia was ruled by Dunaan, the oppressor of Christians. The pious Elesbaan was unable to look on indifferently as believers in Christ were being massacred. He declared war on Dunaan, but his military campaign was unsuccessful.

Wishing to learn the reason for his defeat, Elesbaan, with prompting from above, turned to a certain hermit. He revealed to the emperor that he had proceeded unrighteously in deciding to take revenge against Dunaan, since the Lord had said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay!” (Heb 10:30).

The hermit counseled St Elesbaan make a vow to devote his final days of life to God, to escape the wrath of God for his self-willed revenge, and then to defeat Dunaan. St Elesbaan made a vow to the Lord, and marching off with his army against the enemy, he defeated, captured and executed him. After the victory the saint resigned as emperor, secluded himself within a monastery and for fifteen years he dwelt in strict fasting and asceticism.


Martyr Syncletica and her two daughters

The Martyr Syncletica and her two daughters suffered under the Arabian king Dunaan. St Syncletica was a descendant of an illustrious family. Left widowed while still quite young, she devoted herself to the Christian upbringing of her daughters, and she herself led a life both chaste and virtuous.

Dunaan in the meantime had begun a persecution, intending to eliminate Christians from his realm. He summoned St Syncletica and her daughters before him, and in urging her to forsake her “folly,” he promised as reward to take her into the retinue of his wife.

“How can you not be afraid, O King, to speak evil of Him Who has given you both royal crown and life?” replied the holy martyr.

Dunaan gave orders to lead St Syncletica and her daughters through the city as though they were criminals. Women, looking on at the disgrace of the saint, started crying, but she told them that this “shame” for her was dearer than any earthly honor.

Again they brought the martyr before Dunaan, and he said, “If you wish to remain alive, you must renounce Christ.”

“If I do, then who will deliver me from eternal death?” the saint asked. In a rage, the tormentor ordered that St Syncletica’s daughters be killed first, and then for the mother to be beheaded with a sword.


Martyred Daughters of Syncletica

The Martyr Syncletica and her two daughters suffered under the Arabian king Dunaan. St Syncletica was a descendant of an illustrious family. Left widowed while still quite young, she devoted herself to the Christian upbringing of her daughters, and she herself led a life both chaste and virtuous.

Dunaan in the meantime had begun a persecution, intending to eliminate Christians from his realm. He summoned St Syncletica and her daughters before him, and in urging her to forsake her “folly,” he promised as reward to take her into the retinue of his wife.

“How can you not be afraid, O King, to speak evil of Him Who has given you both royal crown and life?” replied the holy martyr.

Dunaan gave orders to lead St Syncletica and her daughters through the city as though they were criminals. Women, looking on at the disgrace of the saint, started crying, but she told them that this “shame” for her was dearer than any earthly honor.

Again they brought the martyr before Dunaan, and he said, “If you wish to remain alive, you must renounce Christ.”

“If I do, then who will deliver me from eternal death?” the saint asked. In a rage, the tormentor ordered that St Syncletica’s daughters be killed first, and then for the mother to be beheaded with a sword.


St Athanasius the Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint Athanasius I, Patriarch of Constantinople (1289-1293; 1303-1311), in the world Alexius, was from Adrianopolis. While still in his youth, thriving upon the knowledge of the wisdom of Christ, he left his home and went to Thessalonica, where he was tonsured in one of the monasteries with the name Acacius. He soon withdrew to Mount Athos and entered the brethren of the Esphigmenou monastery, where for three years he served in the trapeza. In his works and his ascetic deeds he acquired the gift of tears, and by his virtuous acts he won the overall goodwill of the brethren.

Shunning praise, Acacius humbly left Mt. Athos at first for the holy places in Jerusalem, and then to Mount Patra, where for a long time he lived ascetically as an hermit. From there the ascetic transferred to the Auxention monastery, and then to Mount Galanteia to the monastery of Blessed Lazarus, where he accepted the great angelic schema with the name Athanasius, was ordained a priest and became ecclesiarch (monk in charge of the sacred relics and vessels in the church). Here the saint was granted a divine revelation: he heard the Voice of the Lord from a crucifix, summoning him to pastoral service.

Wishing to strengthen his spirit still more in silence and prayer, St Athanasius again settled on Mount Athos after ten years. But because of disorders arising there he returned to Mount Galanteia. Here also he was not long to remain in solitude. Many people thronged to him for pastoral guidance, and so he organized a women’s monastery there.

During this time the throne of the Church of Constantinople fell vacant after the disturbances and disorder of the period of the Patriarch John Bekkos. At the suggestion of the pious emperor Andronicus Paleologos, a council of hierarchs and clergy unanimously chose St Athanasius to the Patriarchal throne of the Church in 1289.

Patriarch Athanasius began fervently to fulfill his new obedience and did much for strengthening the Church. His strictness of conviction roused the dissatisfaction of influential clergy, and in 1293 he was compelled to resign the throne and to retire again to his own monastery, where he lived an ascetic life in solitude. In 1303 he was again entrusted with the staff of patriarchal service, which he worthily fulfilled for another seven years. In 1308 St Athanasius established St Peter as Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus (December 21).

Again, because of some sort of dissatisfaction, and not wanting to be the cause of church discord, St Athanasius resigned the governance of the Church in 1311. He departed to his own monastery, devoting himself fully to monastic deeds.

Toward the end of his life, the saint was again found worthy to behold Christ. The Lord reproached him because Athanasius had not carried out his pastoral duty to the end. Weeping, the saint repented of his cowardice and received from the Lord both forgiveness and the gift of wonderworking. St Athanasius died at the age of 100.


Icon of the Mother of God “the Joy of All Who Sorrow”

The wonderworking “Joy of All Who Sorrow” Icon of the Mother of God was glorified in the year 1688. Euphymia, the sister of Patriarch Joachim (1674-1690), lived at Moscow and suffered from an incurable illness for a long time. One morning during a time of prayer she heard a voice say, “Euphymia! Go to the temple of the Transfiguration of My Son; there you will find an icon called the “Joy of All Who Sorrow.” Have the priest celebrate a Molieben with the blessing of water, and you will receive healing from sickness.” Euphymia did as she was directed by the Most Holy Theotokos, and she was healed. This occurred on October 24, 1688.

The icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” (with coins fused to it by a bolt of lightning), was manifested at St Petersburg in 1888. See July 23.


St John the Hermit of Pskov

Saint John, Hermit of Pskov (+1616) lived an ascetic life during a terrible time of military troubles. In 1592 the Swedes besieged the city of Pskov. From 1608, for seven years, Polish forces attacked under the head of Lisovski. It was only in the week before the death of the monk, through the intercession of the Pskov Caves Icon of the Mother of God and the Pskov Saints, that Pskov was delivered from the besieging army of the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus.

St John, as the chronicle relates, “lived within the city walls for 23 years; his fish was rancid and he did not eat bread. He lived within the city as though in a wilderness, in great silence,” and he died on October 24, 1616.