Lives of all saints commemorated on February 9


Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee Beginning of the Lenten Triodion

The Sunday after the Sunday of Zacchaeus is devoted to the Publican and the Pharisee. At Vespers the night before, the TRIODION (the liturgical book used in the services of Great Lent) begins.

Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee who scrupulously observed the requirements of religion: he prayed, fasted, and contributed money to the Temple. These are very good things, and should be imitated by anyone who loves God. We who may not fulfill these requirements as well as the Pharisee did should not feel entitled to criticize him for being faithful. His sin was in looking down on the Publican and feeling justified because of his external religious observances.

The second man was a Publican, a tax-collector who was despised by the people. He, however, displayed humility, and this humility justified him before God (Luke 18:14).

The lesson to be learned is that we possess neither the Pharisee’s religious piety, nor the Publican’s repentance, through which we can be saved. We are called to see ourselves as we really are in the light of Christ’s teaching, asking Him to be merciful to us, deliver us from sin, and to lead us on the path of salvation.


Leavetaking of the Meeting of our Lord in the Temple

The Leavetaking of the Meeting of the Lord usually falls on February 9, but may be moved if the Feast falls during the period of the Triodion. In that case,

the Typikon must be consulted for information on the Leavetaking.

Usually, the entire office of the Feast is repeated except for the Entrance, festal readings, and Litya at Vespers, and the Polyeleos and festal Gospel at Matins. The festal Antiphons are not sung at Liturgy, and the Epistle and Gospel of the day are read.


Martyr Nicephorus of Antioch, in Syria

The Holy Martyr Nicephorus lived in the city of Syrian Antioch. In this city lived also the presbyter Sapricius, with whom Nicephorus was very friendly, so that they were considered as brothers. They quarreled because of some disagreement, and their former love changed into enmity and hate.

After a certain time Nicephorus came to his senses, repented of his sin and more than once asked Sapricius, through mutual friends, to forgive him. Sapricius, however, did not wish to forgive him. Nicephorus then went to his former friend and fervently asked forgiveness, but Sapricius was adamant.

At this time the emperors Valerian (253-259) and Gallius (260-268) began to persecute Christians, and one of the first brought before the court was the priest Sapricius. He firmly confessed himself a Christian, underwent tortures for his faith and was condemned to death by beheading with a sword. As they led Sapricius to execution, Nicephorus tearfully implored his forgiveness saying, “O martyr of Christ, forgive me if I have sinned against you in any way.”

The priest Sapricius remained stubborn, and even as he approached death he refused to forgive his fellow Christian. Seeing the hardness of his heart, the Lord withdrew His blessing from Sapricius, and would not let him receive the crown of martyrdom. At the last moment, he suddenly became afraid of death and agreed to offer sacrifice to idols. In vain did St Nicephorus urge Sapricius not to lose his reward through apostasy, since he already stood on the threshold of the heavenly Kingdom.

St Nicephorus then said to the executioner, “I am a Christian, and I believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. Execute me in place of Sapricius.” The executioners reported this to the governor. He decided to free Sapricius, and to behead Nicephorus in his place. Thus did St Nicephorus inherit the Kingdom and receive a martyr’s crown.


Uncovering of the relics of St Innocent the Bishop of Irkutsk

In 1764, the body of Saint Innocent of Irkutsk was discovered incorrupt during restoration work on the Ascension monastery’s Tikhvin church. Many miracles occurred not only at Irkutsk, but also in remote places of Siberia, for those who flocked to the saint with prayer. This moved the Most Holy Synod to uncover the relics and to glorify the saint in the year 1800.

In 1804, a feastday was established to celebrate his memory throughout all Russia on November 26, since the Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” is commemorated on the actual day of his repose (November 27). Today we commemorate the uncovering of his relics in 1805.


Venerable Pancratius of the Kiev Caves

The holy hieromonk Pancratius performed the divine services with much grace, and received the gift of working miracles. He shared his gifts with those who asked, healing the sick with fasting, prayer, and by anointing them with holy oil.


Venerable Nicephorus of Vazheozersk

Saint Nicephorus of Vazhe Lake came to St Alexander of Svir (April 17) in the year 1510 and was warmly received by him. In 1518 he made a visit, with the blessing of his mentor, to St Cyril of New Lake (February 4). When Nicephorus approached New Lake, he was fatigued by his long journey and lay down in the darkness and fell asleep.

St Cyril through hastened by boat to row across the lake and awoke him. St Nicephorus spent eight days in spiritual conversation with the saint. Nicephorus then journeyed to Kiev to venerate the relics of the saints of the Caves.

Upon his return, and with the blessing of St Alexander, he settled at Vazhe Lake, where St Gennadius pursued asceticism. St Nicephorus built the Church of the Transfiguration and a monastery, where he lived until his own death.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, in the Zadne-Nikiforov wilderness, a church was built and dedicated to Sts Nicephorus and Gennadius of Vazhe Lake. The relics of the saints were put to rest in a hidden place in the monastery they founded.


Venerable Gennadius of Vazheozersk

Saint Gennadius of Vazhe Lake was the son of rich parents but, giving away everything, he became a disciple of St Alexander of Svir and lived with him in asceticism as a hermit by the river Svira. Afterwards, with blessing of St Alexander, he went to Vazhe Lake, twelve versts from the Svir monastery. And here, having built a cell, he spent his solitary ascetic life with two of his disciples.

Before his death, St Gennadius told his disciple, “Here at this place shall be a church and a monastery.” The holy ascetic reposed on January 8, 1516.


Hieromartyr Marcellus the Bishop of Sicily

The Hieromartyrs Marcellus, Philagrius and Pancratius were disciples of the holy Apostle Peter and were made bishops by him: St Marcellus, of Sicily; Philagrius, of Cyprus, and Pancratius, of Taormina. They were put to death for spreading the faith of Christ among the pagans.


Hieromartyr Philagrius the Bishop of Cyprus

The Hieromartyrs Philagrius, Marcellus and Pancratius were disciples of the holy Apostle Peter and were made bishops by him: St Marcellus, of Sicily; Philagrius, of Cyprus, and Pancratius, of Taormina. They were put to death for spreading the faith of Christ among the pagans.


Hieromartyr Pancratius the Bishop of Taoromina in Sicily

The Hieromartyrs Pancratius, Marcellus and Philagrius were disciples of the holy Apostle Peter and were made bishops by him: St Marcellus, of Sicily; Philagrius, of Cyprus, and Pancratius, of Taormina. They were put to death for spreading the faith of Christ among the pagans.


Venerable Shio Mgvime

Saint Shio was one of the twelve disciples of St John Zedazeni. They were holy Syrian (Cappadocian) ascetics, the founders of Georgian monasticism, who arrived in Georgia from Cappadocia in the mid-sixth century. The holy Thirteen Cappadocian Fathers were actually Georgians, who received their spiritual schooling at the renowned Lavra of St Simeon the Stylite and at other monasteries of Syria and Mesopotamia, intending to return to their native land and assist in its Christian enlightenment.

St Shio is also commemorated on May 9.


Virginmartyr Apollonia

Saint Apollonia was an elderly virgin and deaconess of Alexandria, whose martyrdom was described by St Dionysius of Alexandria (October 5) in one of his letters.

When Decius became emperor in 249, he launched the greatest attack upon Christianity up to that time, becoming the first emperor to call for its total exterminaion. St Dionysius says that the persecution started at Alexandria a year before it began in other places, incited by a certain “prophet and poet of evil,” who stirred up the people against the Christians.

Backed by the power of the government, the pagans massacred Christians, believing that they were serving their false gods by doing so. The “aged and excellent virgin Apollonia” was seized and struck in the face until all her teeth were knocked out. The mob built a fire outside the city and threatened to burn her alive unless she agreed to worship the idols and sacrifice to the emperor’s genius.

St Apollonia asked the pagans to let go of her for a moment so that she could pray. As soon as they did, she leaped into the flames and was consumed, receiving a double crown of martyrdom and virginity. Because of the nature of her torments, she is sometimes depicted with a golden tooth hanging from a necklace, or holding a tooth in a pair of pincers. She is invoked by those suffering from toothache.


St Romanos of Cilicia

No information available at this time.