Lives of all saints commemorated on February 17


Greatmartyr Theodore the Tyro (“the Recruit”)

The Holy Great Martyr Theodore the Recruit (Tyro) was a soldier in the city of Alasium of the Pontine district (northeast province of Asia Minor, stretching along the coast of the Euxine, i.e. the Black Sea), under the command of a certain Brincus. They commanded him to offer sacrifice to idols. St Theodore firmly confessed his faith in Christ the Savior in a loud voice. The commander gave him several days to think it over, during which time St Theodore prayed.

They charged him with setting a pagan temple on fire, and threw him into prison to be starved to death. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him there, comforting and encouraging him. Brought to the governor, St Theodore boldly and fearlessly confessed his faith, for which he was subjected to new torments and condemned to burning. The martyr Theodore climbed onto the fire without hesitation, and with prayer and gave up his holy soul to God.

This occurred in about the year 306 under the Roman emperor Galerius (305-311). Unharmed by the fire, the body of St Theodore was buried in the city of Euchaita, not far from Amasium. His relics were afterwards transferred to Constantinople, to a church dedicated to him. His head is in Italy, in the city of Gaeto.

Later on, fifty years after the death of St Theodore, the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363), wanting to commit an outrage upon the Christians, commanded the city-commander of Constantinople during the first week of Great Lent to sprinkle all the food provisions in the marketplaces with the blood offered to idols. St Theodore appeared in a dream to Archbishop Eudoxius, ordering him to inform all the Christians that no one should buy anything at the marketplaces, but rather to eat cooked wheat with honey (kolyva).

In memory of this occurrence, the Orthodox Church annually celebrates the holy Great Martyr Theodore the Recruit on the first Saturday of Great Lent. On Friday evening, at the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts following the prayer at the ambo, the Canon to the holy Great Martyr Theodore, composed by St John of Damascus, is sung. After this, kolyva is blessed and distributed to the faithful. The celebration of the Great Martyr Theodore on the first Saturday of Great Lent was set by the Patriarch Nectarius of Constantinople (381-397).

The Troparion to St Theodore is quite similar to the Troparion for the Prophet Daniel and the Three Holy Youths (December 17, Sunday Before Nativity). The Kontakion to St Theodore, who suffered martyrdom by fire, reminds us that he also had faith as his breastplate (see I Thessalonians 5:8).

We pray to St Theodore for the recovery of stolen articles.


Hieromartyr Hermogenes the Patriarch of Moscow and Wonderworker of All Russia

The Hieromartyr Hermogenes, Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus, was born in Kazan around 1530, and was descended from the Don Cossacks. According to the Patriarch’s own testimony, he served as priest in Kazan in a church dedicated to St Nicholas (December 6 and May 9), near the Kazan bazaar. Soon he became a monk, and from 1582 was archimandrite of the Savior-Transfiguration monastery at Kazan. On May 13, 1589 he was consecrated bishop and became the first Metropolitan of Kazan.

While he was the priest at St Nicholas, the wonderworking Kazan Icon of the Mother of God (July 8) was discovered in Kazan in 1579. With the blessing of Archbishop Jeremiah of Kazan, he carried the newly-appeared icon from the place of its discovery to the Church of St Nicholas. Having remarkable literary talent, the saint in 1594 compiled an account describing the appearance of the wonderworking icon and the miracles accomplished through it. In 1591 the saint gathered newly-baptized Tatars into the cathedral church and for several days he instructed them in the Faith.

The relics of St Germanus, the second archbishop of Kazan (September 25, November 6, and June 23), who died at Moscow on November 6, 1567 during a plague, were transfered and buried in St Nicholas Church in 1592. With the blessing of Patriarch Job (1589-1605), St Hermogenes reburied the relics at the Sviyazhsk Dormition monastery.

On January 9, 1592 St Hermogenes addressed a letter to Patriarch Job, in which he asked for permission to commemorate in his See of Kazan those Orthodox soldiers who gave their lives for the Faith and the nation in a battle against the Tatars. In the past, it was customary to enter into the diptychs the names of all Orthodox warriors who had fallen in battle, and to commemorate them.

At the same time he mentioned three martyrs who had suffered at Kazan for their faith in Christ, one of whom was a Russian named John (January 24) born at Nizhny Novgorod and captured by the Tatars. The other two, Stephen and Peter (March 24), were newly-converted Tatars.

The saint expressed regret that these martyrs were not inserted into the diptychs read on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, and that “Memory Eternal” was not sung for them. In answer to St Hermogenes, the Patriarch issued a decree on February 25, which said: “ to celebrate at Kazan and throughout all the Kazan metropolitanate a panikhida for all the Orthodox soldiers killed at Kazan and the environs of Kazan, on the Saturday following the Feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos (October 1), and to inscribe them in the great Synodikon read on the Sunday of Orthodoxy,” and also ordered that the three Kazan martyrs be inscribed in the Synodikon, leaving it to St Hermogenes to set the day of their memory. St Hermogenes circulated the Patriarchal decree throughout his diocese, and required all the churches and monasteries to serve Liturgies, Panikhidas and Lityas for the three Kazan martyrs on January 24.

St Hermogenes displayed zeal in the faith and firmness in the observance of Church traditions, and he devoted himself to the enlightenment of Kazan Tatars with the faith of Christ.

In 1595, with the active participation of the St Hermogenes, the relics of the Kazan Wonderworkers St Gurias, the first archbishop of Kazan (October 4, December 5, June 20), and St Barsanuphius bishop of Tver (October 4, April 11) were discovered and uncovered. Tsar Theodore Ioannovich (1584-1598) had given orders to erect at the Kazan Savior-Transfiguration monastery a new stone church on the site of the first one, where the saints were buried.

When the graves of the saints were discovered, St Hermogenes came with a gathering of clergy. He commanded the graves to be opened and, when he saw the incorrupt relics and clothing of the saints, he notified the Patriarch and the Tsar. With the blessing of Patriarch Job and by order of the Tsar, the relics of the newly-appeared wonderworkers were placed in the new church. St Hermogenes himself compiled the lives of hierarchs Gurias and Barsanuphius.

Having been found worthy of the patriarchal throne, Metropolitan Hermogenes was elected to the primatial See, and on July 3, 1606 he was installed as Patriarch by the assembly of the holy hierarchs at Moscow’s Dormition cathedral. Metropolitan Isidore handed the Patriarch the staff of the holy hierarch Peter, Moscow Wonderworker (October 5, December 21, August 24), and the Tsar gave as a gift to the new Patriarch a panagia, embellished with precious stones, a white klobuk and staff. In the ancient manner, Patriarch Hermogenes made his entrance riding upon a donkey.

The activity of Patriarch Hermogenes coincided with a difficult period for the Russian state: the appearance of the false Tsarevich Demetrius and the Polish king Sigismund III. The first hierarch devoted all his powers to the service of the Church and the nation.

Patriarch Hermogenes was not alone in this exploit: his self-sacrificing fellow-countrymen followed his example and assisted him. With special inspiration His Holiness the Patriarch stood up against the traitors and enemies of the nation, who wanted to spread Uniatism and Western Catholicism throughout Russia and to wipe out Orthodoxy, while enslaving the Russian nation.

When the imposter arrived at Moscow and settled himself at Tushino, Patriarch Hermogenes sent two letters to the Russian traitors. In one of them he wrote: “...You have forgotten the vows of our Orthodox Faith, in which we are born, baptized, nourished and raised. You have violated your oath and the kissing of the Cross to stand to the death for the house of the Most Holy Theotokos and for the Moscow realm, but have fallen for your false would-be Tsarevich ... My soul aches, my heart is sickened, all within me agonizes, and all my frame shudders; I weep and with sobbing I lament: Have mercy, have mercy, brethren and children, on your own souls and your parents departed and living ... Consider, how our nation is devastated and plundered by foreigners, who offer insult to the holy icons and churches, and how innocent blood is spilled, crying out to God. Think! Against whom do you take up arms: is it not against God, Who has created you? Is it not against your own brothers? Do you not devastate your own country?... I adjure you in the name of God, give up your undertaking, there is yet time, so that you do not perish in the end.” In the second document the saint appeals: “For the sake of God, come to your senses and turn around, gladden your parents, your wives and children; and we stand to pray God for you...”

Soon the righteous judgment of God fell upon the Brigand of Tushino: he was killed by his own close associates on December 11, 1610. But Moscow continued to remain in peril, since the Poles and traitors, loyal to Sigismund III remained in the city. The documents sent by Patriarch Hermogenes throughout the cities and villages, exhorted the Russian nation to liberate Moscow from the enemies and to choose a lawful Russian Tsar.

The Muscovites rose up in rebellion, and the Poles burned the city, shutting themselves up in the Kremlin. Together with Russian traitors they forcefully seized Patriarch Hermogenes from the patriarchal throne and imprisoned him in the Chudov monastery.

On Bright Monday in 1611, the Russian militia approached Moscow and began the seige of the Kremlin, which continued for several months. Besieged within the Kremlin, the Poles often sent messengers to the Patriarch with the demand that he order the Russian militia to leave the city, threatening him with execution if he refused.

The saint firmly replied, “What are your threats to me? I fear only God. If all our enemies leave Moscow, I shall bless the Russian militia to withdraw from Moscow; but if you remain here, I shall bless all to stand against you and to die for the Orthodox Faith.”

While still in prison, the hieromartyr Hermogenes sent a final epistle to the Russian nation, blessing the liberating army to fight the invaders. The Russian commanders could not come to an agreement over a way to take the Kremlin and free the Patriarch. He languished more than nine months in dreadful confinement, and on February 17, 1612 he died a martyr’s death from starvation.

The liberation of Russia, for which St Hermogenes stood with such indestructible valor, was successfully achieved. The body of the hieromartyr Hermogenes was buried in the Chudov monastery, but in 1654 was transferred to the Moscow Dormition cathedral. The glorification of Patriarch Hermogenes as a saint occurred on May 12, 1913.


Venerable Theodore the Silent of the Kiev Caves

Saint Theodore the Silent of the Caves chose the exploit of silence, in order to dwell constantly in remembrance of God, and to safeguard himself from temptation even by a word. He was glorified by the Lord with the gift of wonderworking. His memory is celebrated also on August 28.


St Mariamne the sister of the Apostle Philip

Righteous Mariamne “The Apostolic Virgin” and sister of the holy Apostle Philip (November 14), made a vow of virginity and became the companion of her brother Philip and the holy Apostle Bartholomew (June 11), actively assisting them in their apostolic work.

The Church historian Nicephorus Callistus describes their successful preaching in the Phrygian city of Hieropolis, where they were arrested and locked up in prison. They put the Apostle Philip to death on a cross, but St Mariamne and St Bartholomew were set free. St Bartholomew went to preach the Gospel in India. St Mariamne, after burying the body of St Philip, preached the Gospel at Lykaonia (Asia Minor). She died there in peace.


Uncovering of the relics of the Martyr Menas of Alexandria

The Holy Martyr Menas Kallikelados (Well Speaking), an Athenian, died as a martyr with Sts Hermogenes and Eugraphus in about the year 313 (December 10). During the reign of Emperor Basil the Macedonian (867-886), the military commander Marcian discovered the saint’s relics after St Menas appeared to a certain pious man in a dream to reveal where they were.


Icon of the Mother of God Weeping “Tikhvin” on Mt Athos

The Weeping Tikhvin Icon of Mt. Athos is to be found behind the altar in the Prophet Elias Skete. On February 17, 1877 (Thursday of the Second Week of Lent) seven monks remained in the church after the Hours had been read. They were astonished to see tears flowing from the right eye of the icon, and collecting on the frame. Then a single large tear came from the left eye.

The monks wiped the tears from the icon’s face, then left the church and locked the doors behind them. Three hours later, they returned for Vespers and saw traces of tears on the icon, and a single tear in the left eye. Again they wiped the tears from the icon, but they did not reappear.

Regarding this manifestation of tears as a sign of mercy from the Mother of God, the monks established an annual commemoration of the icon on February 17. The weeping Tikhvin Icon of Mt. Athos is not to be confused with the original wonderworking Tikhvin Icon (June 26).


St Joseph of Dionysiou

Saint Joseph was a monk of Dionysiou Monastery on Mt. Athos, where he shone forth with the virtues of monastic life. He was an iconographer, and he painted the icon of the holy Archangels on the iconostasis of Dionysiou’s main church.

In obedience to the instructions of Igumen Stephen, St Joseph traveled to Constantinople with Eudocimus, who had apostasized from Orthodoxy to become a Moslem. Eudocimus repented, and wished to wipe out his sin through martyrdom.

When faced with torture and death, however, the unfortunate Eudocimus denied Christ again, blaming Joseph for turning him from Islam.

St Joseph was arrested and threatened with death. In spite of many tortures, he refused to convert to Islam. This holy martyr of Christ was hanged on February 17, 1819, and so he obtained an incorruptible crown of glory.

Some sources list his commemoration on February 17, while others list him on September 14 or October 26.


St Auxibius Bishop of Soli, Cyprus

Saint Auxibius was born at Rome in a rich family. He was raised with his brother Tempstagoras, and from an early age he displayed remarkable talents. In the schools of Rome he easily learned the secular sciences. His parents wanted their son to marry. Learning of this, the youth secretly left Rome and journeyed to the East.

Arriving upon the island of Cyprus, he settled in the environs of Limnitis, not far from the city of Soli. By God’s dispensation, he encountered the holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark (September 27, October 30, January 4, April 25), preaching the Word of God at Cyprus. St Mark established Auxibius as bishop in the city of Soli, and himself went to preach at Alexandria.

St Auxibius went toward the western gates of the city and settled near the pagan temple of Zeus. Gradually he converted the local pagan priest and other idol-worshippers to Christianity. Once, St Heraklides (September 17) came to St Auxibius. He had been made a bishop in Cyprus earlier by St Mark, and he consulted with St Auxibius to preach the Gospel of ChriSt

One day, St Auxibius arrived at the marketplace and began to preach to the people about Christ. Many, seeing the miracles and the signs worked by the saint, believed in Christ. Among the converted were many people from the surrounding villages. One man, by the name of Auxinios, remained with St Auxibius and assisted him until the end of his days.

After a certain while Tempstagoras, the brother of St Auxibius, came from Rome. He was baptized with his wife, became a priest, and served in one of the churches. St Auxibius guided his diocese for fifty years and died peacefully in the year 102, leaving his disciple Auxinios upon the cathedra.


New Martyr Theodore

The Holy New Martyr Theodore was born of pious parents in Neochorion near Constantinople in 1774. He worked in the palace of the Sultan, where he converted to Islam.

When a plague broke out in Constantinople, he realized the gravity of his sin and returned to Christianity. He went to Chios and then to Mytilene, where he confessed Christ before the Moslem authorities. He was imprisoned, tortured, then hanged by the Turks in 1795.


St Theodosius the Bulgarian, with his disciple Romanos

Saint Theodosius the Bulgarian and his disciple Romanus. StTheodosius began his exploit in the city of Viddino, at the Nikolaev monastery. After the death of the igumen Job he settled near Trnovo, then the capital city of Bulgaria, at the Holy Mountain monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos in search of a spiritual guide.

He left the Holy Mountain monastery and for a long time went from monastery to monastery. Finally, he learned about the desert monastery called “Concealed” where in pursuit of asceticism St Gregory of Sinai (August 8) had moved from Athos. St Theodosius found in him an experienced guide of the contemplative life. St Gregory taught, “Before death we lay in Hades; whoever does not recognize sincerely that he is a sinner, and that the beasts and cattle are more pure, is more wicked than the demons, having become their obedient slave.”

The wilderness monastery of St Gregory of Sinai suffered often from robbers. The abbot sent St Theodosius to the emperor Alexander with a request to defend the monastery. The pious Bulgarian Tsar, at the request of the ascetic, provided him with the means to surround the monastery with strong walls with towers, and made the monastery secure with land and cattle.

During his final journey to Trnovo on an errand for the abbot to the Tsar, a nobleman asked St Theodosius to take him along to the monastery. The holy ascetic brought him to St Gregory of Sinai. This was Romanus, who became the sincere and beloved disciple of St Theodosius.

After the death of St Gregory of Sinai (November 27, 1347), St Theodosius refused to become head of the monastery, and he left the monastery with his disciple Romanus for solitary struggles. They founded a monastery on a hill near Trnovo, afterwards called Theodosiev.

St Theodosius was famous as a zealous defender of Orthodoxy against many heresies, especially the Bogomils, Judaizers and Messalians. Their false teachings were especially pernicious. The Patriarch and the Tsar rendered great help to St Theodosius in the struggle with the heretics. In addition to this, the holy ascetic translated Greek writings into Slavonic.

In 1360, he became grievously ill. Wishing to see his friend St Callistus once more, he went to him at Constantinople, entrusting the direction of the monastery to his disciple Romanus.

St Theodosius died at Constantinople on February 17, 1362. His disciple St Romanus became head of the monastery.


St Romanus, the Disciple of St Theodosius the Bulgarian

The wilderness monastery of St Gregory of Sinai suffered often from robbers. The abbot sent St Theodosius to the emperor Alexander with a request to defend the monastery. The pious Bulgarian Tsar, at the request of the ascetic, provided him with the means to surround the monastery with strong walls with towers, and made the monastery secure with land and cattle.

During his final journey to Trnovo on an errand for the abbot to the Tsar, a nobleman asked St Theodosius to take him along to the monastery. The holy ascetic brought him to St Gregory of Sinai. This was Romanus, who became the sincere and beloved disciple of St Theodosius.

After the death of St Gregory of Sinai (November 27, 1347), St Theodosius refused to become head of the monastery, and he left the monastery with his disciple Romanus for solitary struggles. They founded a monastery on a hill near Trnovo, afterwards called Theodosiev.

In 1360, St Theodosius became grievously ill. Wishing to see his friend St Callistus once more, he went to him at Constantinople, entrusting the direction of the monastery to his disciple Romanus.


St Nicholas Kandaurov

No information available at this time.


St Finan of Lindisfarne

No information available at this time.


Hieromartyr Theodore of Atchara

Holy Hieromartyr Theodore of Atchara belongs to the glorious multitude of Atcharan faithful who were martyred at the hands of the Ottomans.

St. Theodore was born in the late 18th century. At that time the Ottoman invaders had nearly completed the forced Islamization of the Atcharan region. They had already annihilated those who resisted the conversion and were beginning to evict those who, in spite of their apparent acceptance of Islam, continued to “arouse suspicions.” Some abandoned their native region and fled to foreign lands.

St. Theodore was born to a family that had been forced into exile. From his childhood he watched his fellow countrymen, who had been forcibly converted to Islam, secretly retain their Christian way of life. It is unclear how the saint’s family settled in Trebizond (modern Trabzon). It is known, however, that St. Theodore managed to free himself from Islam, receive Christianity, and find refuge at a Georgian monastery in Smyrna (now Izmir). There he was tonsured a monk and later raised to the rank of proigoumenos (deputy abbot). It is also known that St. Theodore converted his nephew to Christianity during that time.

In 1822 St. Theodore set out on a pilgrimage to Mt. Athos. But at the same time the Ottomans were attempting to crush the Greek independence movement, and the Holy Mountain was surrounded by Ottoman soldiers. They captured the faithful pilgrim and killed him. Then they tossed the holy martyr’s body into the sea.

The Holy Synod of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church canonized Holy Martyr Theodore on October 17, 2002.