Lives of all saints commemorated on January 23


Hieromartyr Clement the Bishop of Ancyra

The Hieromartyr Clement was born in the Galatian city of Ancyra in the year 258, of a pagan father and a Christian mother. He lost his father when he was an infant, and his mother when he was twelve. She predicted a martyr’s death for him because of his belief in Christ.

A woman named Sophia adopted him and raised him in the fear of God. During a terrible famine in Galatia several pagans turned out their own children, not having the means to feed them. Sophia took in these unfortunates, and fed and clothed them. St Clement assisted her in this. He taught the children and prepared them for Baptism. Many of them died as martyrs for Christ.

St Clement was made a reader, and later a deacon. When he was eighteen he was ordained to the holy priesthood, and at age twenty he was consecrated Bishop of Ancyra. Soon afterwards the persecution against Christians under Diocletian (284-305) broke out.

Bishop Clement was denounced as a Christian and arrested. Dometian, the governor of Galatia, tried to make the saint worship the pagan gods, but St Clement firmly confessed his faith and valiantly withstood all the tortures.

They suspended him on a tree, and raked his body with sharp iron instruments so that his entrails could be seen. They smashed his mouth with stones, and they turned him on a wheel and burned him over a low fire. The Lord preserved His sufferer and healed his lacerated body.

Then Dometian sent the saint to Rome to the emperor Diocletian himself, with a report that Bishop Clement had been fiercely tortured, but had proven unyielding. Diocletian, seeing the martyr completely healthy, did not believe the report and subjected him to even crueler tortures, and then had him locked up in prison.

Many of the pagans, seeing the bravery of the saint and the miraculous healing of his wounds, believed in Christ. People flocked to St Clement in prison for guidance, healing and Baptism, so that the prison was literally transformed into a church. When word of this reached the emperor, many of these new Christians were executed.

Diocletian, struck by the amazing endurance of St Clement, sent him to Nicomedia to his co-emperor Maximian. On the ship, the saint was joined by his disciple Agathangelus, who had avoided being executed with the other confessors, and who now wanted to suffer and die for Christ with Bishop Clement.

The emperor Maximian in turn sent Sts Clement and Agathangelus to the governor Agrippina, who subjected them to such inhuman torments, that even the pagan on-lookers felt pity for the martyrs and they began to pelt the torturers with stones.

Having been set free, the saints healed an inhabitant of the city through the laying on of hands and they baptized and instructed people, thronging to them in multitudes. Arrested again on orders of Maximian, they were sent home to Ancyra, where the ruler Cyrenius had them tortured. Then they were sent to the city of Amasea to the proconsul Dometius, known for his great cruelty.

In Amasea, the martyrs were thrown into hot lime. They spent a whole day in it and remained unharmed. They flayed them, beat them with iron rods, set them on red-hot beds, and poured sulfur on their bodies. All this failed to harm the saints, and they were sent to Tarsus for new tortures. In the wilderness along the way St Clement had a revelation that he would suffer a total of twenty-eight years for Christ. Then having endured a multitude of tortures, the saints were locked up in prison.

St Agathangelus was beheaded with the sword on November 5. The Christians of Ancyra freed St Clement from prison and took him to a cave church. There, after celebrating Liturgy, the saint announced to the faithful the impending end of the persecution and his own martyrdom. On January 23, the holy hierarch was killed by soldiers from the city, who stormed the church. The saint was beheaded as he stood before the altar and offered the Bloodless Sacrifice. Two deacons, Christopher and Chariton, were beheaded with him, but no one else was harmed.


Martyr Agathangelus

Saint Agathangelus was a disciple of St Clement (see below).

Sts Clement and Agathangelus were denounced as Christians and sent to the governor Agrippina, who subjected them to such inhuman torments, that even the pagan on-lookers felt pity for the martyrs and they began to pelt the torturers with stones.

Having been set free, the saints healed an inhabitant of the city through the laying on of hands and they baptized and instructed people, thronging to them in multitudes. Arrested again on orders of Maximian, they were sent home to Ancyra, where the ruler Cyrenius had them tortured. Then they were sent to the city of Amasea to the proconsul Dometius, known for his great cruelty.

In Amasea, the martyrs were thrown into hot lime. They spent a whole day in it and remained unharmed. They flayed them, beat them with iron rods, set them on red-hot beds, and poured sulfur on their bodies. All this failed to harm the saints, and they were sent to Tarsus for new tortures. In the wilderness along the way St Clement had a revelation that he would suffer a total of twenty-eight years for Christ. Then having endured a multitude of tortures, the saints were locked up in prison.

St Agathangelus was beheaded with the sword on November 5. The Christians of Ancyra freed St Clement from prison and took him to a cave church. There, after celebrating Liturgy, the saint announced to the faithful the impending end of the persecution and his own martyrdom. On January 23, the holy hierarch was killed by soldiers from the city, who stormed the church. The saint was beheaded as he stood before the altar and offered the Bloodless Sacrifice. Two deacons, Christopher and Chariton, were beheaded with him, but no one else was harmed.


Venerable Gennadius of Kostroma

Saint Gennadius of Kostroma and Liubimograd, in the world Gregory, was born in the city of Mogilev into a rich family. He early displayed love for the church, and his frequent visits to monasteries evoked the dismay of his parents. Gregory, however, was firmly resolved to devote himself to God, and changing into tattered clothing, he secretly left his parental home and journeyed to Moscow.

He visited the holy places in Moscow, but he did not find it suitable in spirit and so set out to the Novgorod region. The destiny of the future ascetic was decided by an encounter with St Alexander of Svir (August 30). With his blessing, Gregory went to the Vologda forest to St Cornelius of Komel (May 19), and was tonsured by him with the name Gennadius. Together with St Cornelius, Gennadius moved on to the Kostroma forest. Here, on the shores of Lake Sura, in about the year 1529, there emerged the monastery of the Transfiguration of the Lord, afterwards called “the Gennadiev monastery”. Having become igumen, St Gennadius did not slacken his monastic efforts, and together with the brethren he went out to the monastery tasks: he chopped wood, carried firewood, made candles and baked prosphora. He also wore heavy chains. One of his favorite tasks was the painting of icons, with which he adorned his new monastery.

For his holy life St Gennadius received from the Lord the gift of clairvoyance and wonderworking. Journeying to Moscow on monastic affairs, at the house of the nobleman Roman Zakharin, the saint predicted to his daughter Anastasia that she would become Tsaritsa. Indeed, Tsar Ivan the Terrible chose her as his wife.

The Life of St Gennadius was written by his disciple, Iguman Alexis, between the years 1584-1587. In it was inserted his spiritual testament, dictated by St Gennadius himself. In it he commands the monks to observe the monastery Rule, to toil constantly, to be at peace with everyone, and to preserve the books collected at the monastery, while striving to understand their meaning. He said, “Strive towards the light, and shun the darkness.”

St Gennadius died on January 23, 1565, and was glorified by the Church on August 19, 1646.


Translation of the relics of St Theoctistus the Archbishop of Novgorod

The main Feast of St Theoctistus is December 23. He was glorified in 1664, because of the miraculous healings which took place at his relics. In 1786, the relics of the saint were transferred to Yuriev, where Archimandrite Photius built a chapel in his honor at the local cathedral.


Venerable Mausimas the Syrian

Saint Mausimas the Syrian lived in Syria, near the city of Cyrrhus. He voluntarily embraced poverty and devoted his life to the service of his neighbor. The doors of his hut were always open to anyone who had need of him.

In his hut there were two vessels: one with bread, and the other with oil. Anyone in need came to him and received the food from his hand. These vessels never became empty. The saint died at the end of the fourth century.


Venerable Salamanes the Silent of the Euphrates

Saint Salamanes the Silent was a native of the city of Kapersana, near the River Euphrates. Having found a cave near the banks of the river, he lived there as a hermit in silence and asceticism.

Learning of his exalted life, the Bishop of Kapersana wanted to ordain him to the holy priesthood, but the hesychast would not answer him with even a single word. The holy ascetic did not break his silence, conversing with the Lord alone. The Orthodox Church venerates him as the first saint to have taken upon himself the exploit of silence, which he continued to his very end (+ ca. 400).


St Paulinus the Merciful the Bishop of Nola

Saint Paulinus the Merciful, Bishop of Nola, was descended from an aristocratic and wealthy family of Bordeaux (France). By virtue of his extensive education and upbringing, the twenty-year-old youth was chosen to become a Roman senator, later he became consul and finally, governor of the region of Campagna in Italy.

At twenty-five years of age, he and his wife were converted to Christ and were baptized. After this he completely changed his manner of life. He disposed of all his property, and distributed the money to the needy, for which he endured the scorn of his friends and servants.

Not having children of their own, the pious couple adopted poor orphans and raised them in the fear of God. In his searchings for a secluded life, St Paulinus went to the Spanish city of Barcelona.

News of his ascetic life spread about, and in 393 they asked him to be ordained as a priest. Soon he left Spain and went on to the city of Nola in Italy, where he was elected bishop.

When the Vandal barbarians invaded Italy and carried off many people to Africa in captivity, St Paulinus used church funds to ransom the captives. However, he did not have enough money to ransom the son of a certain poor widow from slavery in the household of the Prince of the Vandals. So, he volunteered to take his place. Dressed as a slave, St Paulinus began to serve the Vandal prince as a gardener.

Soon his identity was revealed to the ruler, King Riga, in a dream. Not only did he receive his own freedom, but he also won the release of all the other prisoners from Campania, and returned home with them.

St Paulinus is known both as a builder of churches and as a Christian poet. Among his many virtues, his love for mankind and his compassion for the poor and needy deserve special mention. He died at seventy-eight years of age on June 22, 431. Thirty-two of his poems and fifty-one of his letters survive. They contain various moral discourses filled with deep piety.

His relics are in Rome, in the church of the holy Apostle Bartholomew.


Commemoration of the Holy Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council

The Sixth Ecumenical Council was convened by the emperor Constantine Pogonatos (668-685) at Constantinople in the year 681 to combat the Monothelite heresy. At it 171 holy Fathers were present, who affirmed the doctrine of two wills in Jesus Christ, the divine and the human.

This Council was followed by another Council in the year 691, called the Council of Trullo. This Council addressed certain practical matters, and 102 canons were promulgated.


Synaxis of the Saints of Kostroma

The saints of Kostroma include

St Abramius of Galich, or Chukhloma Lake (July 20)

St Adrian of Monza (May 5)

St Alexander of Galich, abbot of Voche (March 27)

St Barnabas abbot of Verluga (June 11)

St Cyril of New Lake (February 4, November 7)

St Cyril of White Lake (June 9)

St Dionysius, Archbishop of Suzdal (June 26, October 15)

St Gennadius, abbot of Kostroma (August 19)

St Gregory, abbot of Pelshme, wonderworker of Vologda (September 30)

St James of Brileev (April 11)

St James of Galich Monastery (April 4, May 30)

St James of Zheleznoborovsk (April 11, May 5)

St Jonah, Metropolitan of Moscow (March 31, May 27, June 15)

St Macarius, abbot of Zheltovod and Unzha (July 25)

St Macarius of Pisma Monastery (January 10)

St Metrophanes, bishop of Voronezh (August 7, September 4, November 23)

St Pachomius, abbot of Nerekhta (March 21, May 15)

St Paisius, abbot of Galich (May 23)

St Paul of Obnora (January 10, October 7)

St Therapon of Monza (May 27, December 1).


St John

Archimandrite John (Basil Maisuradze in the world) was born in the town of Tskhinvali in Samachablo around 1882. He was raised in a peasant family and taught to perform all kinds of handiwork. Basil was barely in his teens when he helped Fr. Spiridon (Ketiladze), the main priest at Betania Monastery, to restore the monastery between 1894 and 1896.

From his youth Basil was eager to enter the monastic life, and in 1903, according to God’s will, he moved to the Skete of St. John the Theologian at Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos. Among the brothers he was distinguished for his simplicity and obedience. He was tonsured a monk and named John in honor of St. John the Theologian, whom he revered deeply and sought to emulate.

The monk John was soon ordained to the priesthood. Throughout his life the holy father dedicated himself to serving God and his brothers in Christ in hopes that his own life might be fruitful for them.

Fr. John remained on Mt. Athos for seventeen years. Then, due to the increasingly troubling circumstances there, he left the Holy Mountain with the other Georgian monks sometime between 1920 and 1921. He settled at Armazi Monastery outside of Mtskheta, where the Bolsheviks had left just one monk to labor in solitude. Once a band of armed Chekists broke into the monastery, led both Fr. John and the other monk away, and shot them in the back.

Believing them to be dead, they tossed them in a nearby gorge. A group of people later discovered Fr. John’s nearly lifeless body and brought it to Samtavro Monastery in Mtskheta. The other monk suffered only minor injuries and returned to the monastery on his own.

When his health had been restored, Fr. John went to Betania Monastery, where his first spiritual father was still laboring. He was appointed abbot shortly thereafter. Accustomed to hard work from his childhood, he skillfully administered the agricultural labors of the monastery. When visitors came to the monastery seeking advice or solace, Fr. John welcomed them warmly, spreading a festal meal before them. He enjoyed spending time with his guests, especially with children.

It is said that he always had candy or a special treat to give to the little ones. The children loved him so much that on the feast of St. John the Theologian, while he was sprinkling the church with holy water, they skipped around him and tried to tousle his hair. The children’s parents were ashamed, but Fr. John cheerfully assured them that it was fitting to be so joyous on a feast day.

Truly Fr. John was endowed with a deep love for young people, and he was also blessed with the divine gifts of prophecy and wonder-working. Once a certain Irakli Ghudushauri, a student at Moscow Theological Seminary, visited him at the monastery. Fr. John received him with exceptional warmth, blessing him with tears of rejoicing. This student would later become Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II, the beloved shepherd who continues to lead the flock of the Georgian faithful to this very day.

Fr. John disciplined himself severely. He worked hard all day and slept on a single piece of wood. He would spend entire nights praying. Many wondered when he rested and where he had acquired such a seemingly infinite supply of energy.

Occasionally thieves would steal food or domestic animals from the monastery. But the monastery also had many protectors, even within the Soviet government. A group of Christians who worked for the government while secretly practicing their faith supported Fr. John and Fr. George (Mkheidze) (see below), explaining and justifying them to the government as “guardians of a national cultural monument.”

Many of the miracles performed by Fr. John are known to us today, though he was wary of receiving honor for his deeds. Frs. John and George healed the deaf, and many of the terminally ill were brought to them for healing. After spending several days in the monastery, the infirm would miraculously be cleansed of their diseases. Fr. John bore the heaviest workload in the monastery. He sympathized deeply with Fr. George, who was ailing physically and unfit for strenuous labor. But Fr. John departed this life before Fr. George. Fr. John became ill and reposed in 1957, at the age of seventy-five. He was buried at Betania Monastery.

Fr. George (Mkheidze) was born in the village of Skhvava in the Racha region around 1877. He received a military education—a highly esteemed commodity among the Georgian aristocracy—but instead of pursuing a military career in defense of the Russian empire, he dedicated himself to Georgia’s national liberation movement. At one point the pious and learned George worked for St. Ilia the Righteous as his personal secretary. He often met St. Ilia’s spiritual father, the holy hierarch Alexandre (Okropiridze), and the holy hieromartyr Nazar (Lezhava), and he was acquainted with other important spiritual leaders of the time as well.

Desiring to sacrifice his life to God, George was tonsured into monasticism by the holy hieromartyr Nazar. His rare character combined a nobleman’s deportment with a monk’s humble asceticism. Fr. George was ordained a priest and soon after elevated to the rank of archimandrite.

Filled with divine love and patriotic sentiment, the holy father willingly endured the heavy burdens and spiritual tribulations afflicting his country at that time.

In 1924, while Fr. George was laboring at Khirsa Monastery in Kakheti in eastern Georgia, an armed Chekist mob broke into the monastery. The perpetrators beat him, cut off his hair, shaved his beard, and threatened to take his life. He sought refuge with his family, but to no avail—his brothers, who were atheists, shaved off his beard while he was sleeping. (One of Fr. George’s brothers later committed suicide, and the other, together with his wife, was shot to death by the Chekists.) In the same year, Fr. George visited Betania Monastery and was introduced to Fr. John (Maisuradze), with whom he would labor for the remainder of his life.

Fr. George’s health was poor, and he was able to perform only the lightest of tasks around the monastery. He tended the vegetable garden and took responsibility for raising the bees. He was extremely generous. At times he would give all the monastery’s food to the needy, assuring Fr. John that God Himself would provide their daily bread.

Tall, thin, and with an upright posture, Fr. George was strict in both appearance and demeanor. He spoke very little with other people, and children did not play with him as they did with Fr. John. Knowing his character, they tried to please him by reciting prayers and behaving themselves. Fr. George did not like to leave the monastery, but it was often necessary for him to travel to Tbilisi to visit his spiritual children— among whom were many secret Christians who worked for the government.

Fr. George was endowed with the gifts of prophecy and healing, but he was careful to hide them. When constrained to reveal them, he would pass them off as though they were nothing extraordinary. Once a certain pilgrim arrived at the monastery and was surprised to discover that Fr. George knew him by name. Sensing his great amazement, Fr. George told the pilgrim that he had attended his baptism some thirty years earlier, thus concealing his God-given gift. Fr. George knew in advance when his nephew was bringing his sisters, whom he had not seen in forty-eight years, to visit him at the monastery during Great Lent.

Enlightened with this foreknowledge, Fr. George prepared fish and a festal meal in honor of the occasion.

The prayers of Fr. George and Fr. John healed the former’s nephew, who was afflicted by a deadly strain of meningitis. They restored hearing to a deaf child and healed many others of their bodily infirmities.

In 1957, when Fr. John reposed in the Lord, Fr. George was tonsured into the great schema. He was given the name John in honor of his newly departed spiritual brother. Fr. George-John now bore full responsibility for the affairs of the monastery. His health deteriorated further under the weight of this heavy yoke. His spiritual children began to come from the city to care for him.

Once a twenty-year-old girl arrived at the monastery, complaining of incessant headaches. She

had been told that the water from Betania Monastery would heal her. She remained there for one week and was miraculously healed. When she left to return home, Fr. George-John walked five miles to see her off, in spite of his physical frailty.

The Theotokos appeared to Fr. George-John in a vision and relieved his terrible physical pain. The protomartyr Thekla also appeared to him, presenting him with a bunch of grapes. Several days before his repose, the holy father was in the city when an angel appeared to him and announced his imminent repose. The angel told him to return to the monastery to prepare for his departure from this world.

St. George-John (Mkheidze) reposed in 1960. He was buried at Betania Monastery, next to Fr. John (Maisuradze). These venerable fathers were canonized on September 18, 2003, at a council of the Holy Synod under the spiritual leadership of His Holiness Ilia II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia. Frs. John and George-John have been lovingly deemed “one soul in two bodies.”


New Martyrs of Russia

No information available at this time.