The sixth day of the Afterfeast of Theophany falls on January 12. Divine grace shines forth so that we might be freed from the power of the devil, and cleansed of our sins in Baptism.
The Holy Virgin Martyr Tatiana was born into an illustrious Roman family, and her father was elected consul three times. He was secretly a Christian and raised his daughter to be devoted to God and the Church. When she reached the age of maturity, Tatiana decided to remain a virgin, betrothing herself to Christ. Disdaining earthly riches, she sought instead the imperishable wealth of Heaven. She was made a deaconess in one of the Roman churches and served God in fasting and prayer, tending the sick and helping the needy.
When Rome was ruled by the sixteen-year-old Alexander Severus (222-235), all power was concentrated in the hands of the regent Ulpian, an evil enemy and persecutor of Christians. Christian blood flowed like water. Tatiana was also arrested, and they brought her into the temple of Apollo to force her to offer sacrifice to the idol. The saint began praying, and suddenly there was an earthquake. The idol was smashed into pieces, and part of the temple collapsed and fell down on the pagan priests and many pagans. The demon inhabiting the idol fled screeching from that place. Those present saw its shadow flying through the air.
Then they tore holy virgin’s eyes out with hooks, but she bravely endured everything, praying for her tormentors that the Lord would open their spiritual eyes. And the Lord heard the prayer of His servant. The executioners saw four angels encircle the saint and beat her tormentors. A voice was heard from the heavens speaking to the holy virgin. Eight men believed in Christ and fell on their knees before St Tatiana, begging them to forgive them their sin against her. For confessing themselves Christians they were tortured and executed, receiving Baptism by blood.
The next day St Tatiana was brought before the wicked judge. Seeing her completely healed of all her wounds, they stripped her and beat her, and slashed her body with razors. A wondrous fragrance then filled the air. Then she was stretched out on the ground and beaten for so long that the servants had to be replaced several times. The torturers became exhausted and said that an invisible power was beating them with iron rods. Indeed, the angels warded off the blows directed at her and turned them upon the tormentors, causing nine of them to fall dead. They then threw the saint in prison, where she prayed all night and sang praises to the Lord with the angels.
A new morning began, and they took St Tatiana to the tribunal once more. The torturers beheld with astonishment that after such terrible torments she appeared completely healthy and even more radiant and beautiful than before. They began to urge her to offer sacrifice to the goddess Diana. The saint seemed agreeable, and they took her to the heathen temple. St Tatiana made the Sign of the Cross and began to pray. Suddenly, there was a crash of deafening thunder, and lightning struck the idol, the sacrificial offerings and the pagan priests.
Once again, the martyr was fiercely tortured. She was hung up and scraped with iron claws, and her breasts were cut off. That night, angels appeared to her in prison and healed her wounds as before. On the following day, they took St Tatiana to the circus and loosed a hungry lion on her. The beast did not harm the saint, but meekly licked her feet.
As they were taking the lion back to its cage, it killed one of the torturers. They threw Tatiana into a fire, but the fire did not harm the martyr. The pagans, thinking that she was a sorceress, cut her hair to take away her magical powers, then locked her up in the temple of Zeus.
On the third day, pagan priests came to the temple intending to offer sacrifice to Zeus. They beheld the idol on the floor, shattered to pieces, and the holy martyr Tatiana joyously praising the Lord Jesus Christ. The judge then condemned the valiant sufferer to be beheaded with a sword. Her father was also executed with her, because he had raised her to love Christ.
Saint Sava, First Archbishop of Serbia, in the world Rostislav (Rastko), was a son of the Serbian king Stephen Nemanya and Anna, daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Romanus. From his early years he fervently attended church services and had a special love for icons.
At seventeen years of age, Rostislav met a monk from Mount Athos, secretly left his father’s house and set off for the St Panteleimon monastery. (By divine Providence in 1169, the year of the saint’s birth, the ancient monastery of the Great Martyr and healer Panteleimon was given to Russian monks.)
Knowing that his son was on Athos, his father mobilized his retainers headed by a faithful voevod and wrote to the governor of the district which included Athos, saying that if his son were not returned to him, he would go to war against the Greeks. When they arrived at the monastery, the voevod was ordered not to take his eyes off Rostislav. During the evening services, when the soldiers had fallen asleep under the influence of wine, Rostislav received monastic tonsure (in 1186) and sent to his parents his worldly clothes, his hair and a letter. St Sava sought to persuade his powerful parents to accept monasticism. The monk’s father (in monasticism Simeon. He is commemorated on February 13) and his son pursued asceticism at the Vatopedi monastery. On Athos they established the Serbian Hilandar monastery, and this monastery received its name by imperial grant. At Hilandar monastery, St Sava was ordained to the diaconate and then presbyter. His mother Anna became a nun with the name Anastasia (June 21).
For his holy life and virtuous deeds on Mount Athos, the monk was made an archimandrite at Thessalonica. At Nicea in the year 1219 on the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Ecumenical Patriarch Germanus consecrated Archimandrite Sava as Archbishop of Serbia. The saint petitioned the Byzantine Emperor to grant permission for Serbian bishops to elect their own Archbishop in future. This was a very important consideration in a time of frequent wars between the eastern and western powers.
Having returned to the Holy Mountain from Nicea, the saint visited all the monasteries for the last time. He made prostrations in all the churches and, calling to mind the blessed lives of the wilderness Fathers, he made his farewells to the ascetics with deep remorse, “leaving the Holy Mountain, as if from Paradise.”
Saddened by his separation from the Holy Mountain, the saint went along the path from Athos just barely moving. The Most Holy Theotokos spoke to the saint in a dream, “Having My Patronage, why do you remain sorrowful?” These words roused him from despondency, changing his sorrow into joy. In memory of this appearance, the saint commissioned large icons of the Savior and of the Mother of God at Thessalonica, and put them in a church.
In Serbia, the activity of the Hierarch in organizing the work of his native Church was accompanied by numerous signs and miracles. During the Liturgy and the all-night Vigil, when the saint came to cense the grave of his father the monk Simeon, the holy relics exuded fragrant myrrh.
Being in charge of negotiations with the Hungarian King Vladislav, who had declared war on Serbia, the holy bishop not only brought about the desired peace for his country, but he also brought the Hungarian monarch to Orthodoxy. Thus he facilitated the start of the historical existence of the autonomous Serbian Church, St Sava contributed also to strengthening the Serbian state. In order to insure the independence of the Serbian state, Archbishop Sava crowned his powerful brother Stephen as king. Upon the death of Stephen, his eldest son Radislav was crowned king, and St Sava set off to the Holy Land “to worship at the holy tomb of Christ and fearsome Golgotha.”
When he returned to his native land, the saint blessed and crowned Vladislav as king. To further strengthen the Serbian throne, he betrothed him to the daughter of the Bulgarian prince Asan. The holy hierarch visited churches all across Serbia, he reformed monastic rules on the model of Athos and Palestine, and he established and consecrated many churches, strengthening the Orthodox in their faith. Having finished his work in his native land, the saint appointed the hieromonk Arsenius as his successor, consecrating him bishop and giving his blessing to all.
He then set off on a journey of no return, desiring “to end his days as a wanderer in a foreign land.” He passed through Palestine, Syria and Persia, Babylon, Egypt and Anatolia, everywhere visiting the holy places, conversing with great ascetics, and collecting the holy relics of saints. The saint finished his wanderings at Trnovo in Bulgaria at the home of his kinsman Asan, where with spiritual joy he gave up his soul to the Lord (+ 1237).
At the time of transfer of the holy relics of St Sava to Serbia in 1237, there were so many healings that the Bulgarians began to complain about Asan, “because he had given up such a treasure.” In the saint’s own country, his venerable relics were placed in the Church of Mileshevo, bestowing healing on all who approached with faith. The inhabitants of Trnovo continued to receive healing from the remnants of the saint’s coffin, which Asan ordered to be gathered together and placed in a newly built sarcophagus.
The legacy of St Sava lives on in the Orthodox Church traditions of the Slavic nations. He is associated with the introduction of the Jerusalem Typikon as the basis for Slavic Monastic Rules. The Serbian Hilandar monastery on Mt. Athos lives by the Typikon of St Sava to this day. Editions of The Rudder (a collection of church canons) of St Sava, with commentary by Alexis Aristines, are the most widely disseminated in the Russian Church. In 1270 the first copy of The Rudder of St Sava was sent from Bulgaria to Metropolitan Cyril of Kiev. From this was copied one of the most ancient of the Russian Rudders, the Ryazan Rudder of 1284. It in turn was the source for a printed Rudder published in 1653, and since that time often reprinted by the Russian Church. Such was the legacy of St Sava to the canonical treasury of Orthodoxy.
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.
The Holy Martyr Mertius was a soldier. He suffered for Christ in Africa during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). The emperor demanded that he offer sacrifice to idols, and when he refused, gave him over to torture. The saint suffered fierce torments, not making a sound. He was thrown into prison, where he died from hunger and his wounds.
The Holy Martyr Peter Apselamos was a native of the village of Aneia in Palestine. During the fourth century persecution against Christians he was arrested and brought to Severus, the governor of Palestine. In vain did the judge and the people urge him to escape torture by sacrificing to the pagan gods.
“I will spare myself by remaining faithful to the truth and refusing to offer sacrifice to lifeless idols,” the saint replied. “Whoever offers sacrifice to false gods will perish.”
Severus was enraged, and ordered the holy martyr to be tortured without mercy. Finally, he was crucified during the reign of Maximian, while our Lord Jesus Christ was reigning unto the ages of ages.
In some Lives of the Saints he is listed twice: on January 12 as the martyr Peter Apselamos, and on January 13 as Peter of Aneia, because it was mistakenly assumed that they were different persons.
Saint Eupraxia the Elder was the mother of St Eupraxia, maiden of Tabennisi (July 25). She was the wife of the pious senator Antigonus, who was related to the emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395). Following the birth of their daughter, the couple decided to live from that time forward as brother and sister. They distributed alms to the poor, hoping to inherit the heavenly Kingdom.
After she was widowed, St Eupraxia devoted herself completely to the service of the Lord. After visiting several monastic establishments and bestowing liberal alms, she came to the Tabennisi monastery in Egypt, where the abbess was the nun Theodula, known for her strict rule.
Deeply moved by the pure way of monastic life, St Eupraxia came often to this monastery and always brought her eight-year-old daughter with her. The virtues and prayers of her parents bestowed a particular grace of God upon the child, who desired to dedicate herself to God. To her mother’s great joy, the abbess Theodula kept the younger Eupraxia at the convent and blessed her to receive monastic tonsure.
St Eupraxia the elder continued her works of charity, and increased her fasting and prayer. Abbess Theodula, possessing the gift of clairvoyance, told her of her impending end. Learning of her imminent death, Eupraxia gave thanks to the Lord for His great mercy towards her. She bid farewell to the sisters of the convent and to her daughter. She left her with these parting words: “Love the Lord Jesus Christ, and respect the sisters. Never dare to think that they are below you and should serve you. Be poor in your thoughts in order to profit by spiritual treasures. Also remember your father and me, and pray for the salvation of our souls.” After three days the saint surrendered her soul to the Lord (+ 393) and was buried at the monastery, where her daughter continued her ascetic struggles.
The “Akathist” Icon of the Mother of God is on the iconostasis of the Hilandar monastery’s katholikon. It is known as the “Akathist” Icon because, during a fire at the katholikon in 1837 an Akathist was being read before the icon, and it remained unharmed, to the joy of the monks.
This icon should not be confused with the Zographou Icon “Of the Akathist” (October 10).
The “Milk-Giver” Icon of the Mother of God was originally located at the Lavra of St Sava the Sanctified near Jerusalem. Before his death, the holy founder of the Lavra foretold that a royal pilgrim having the same name as himself would visit the Lavra. St Sava told the brethren to give the wonderworking icon to that pilgrim as a blessing.
In the thirteenth century, St Sava of Serbia visited the Lavra. As he approached the reliquary of St Sava the Sanctified, the saint’s staff fell at his feet. The brethren asked the visitor his name, and he told them he was Archbishop Sava of Serbia. Obeying the instructions of their founder, the monks gave St Sava his staff, the “Milk-Giver” Icon, and the Icon “Of the Three Hands” (June 28 & July 12).
The holy archbishop took the icon to Hilandar on Mount Athos and put it on the right side of the iconostasis in the church of St Sava at the kellion of Karyes, which is attached to Hilandar. The icon was later named Typikonissa, since the Rule (Typikon) of St Sava was preserved there.
The “Priestly” Icon of the Mother of God stands in the katholikon of Hilandar Monastery by a column of the left kliros. A certain heretical priest, having declared himself Orthodox, acted at the Hilandar monastery with evil purpose, but he was punished. During the procession for the blessing of water he took this icon but stumbled, fell into the sea and drowned. Since that time the cross procession is always done with this icon, and invariably a priest carries it, so it was called “Priestly” by the Serbs.