Lives of all saints commemorated on February 21


Venerable Timothy of Symbola in Bithynia

Saint Timothy of Symbola, was of Italian descent. He became a monk at a young age and pursued asceticism at a monastery called “Symbola,” in Asia Minor near Mount Olympus. At that time Theoctistus was the archimandrite of the monastery. St Timothy was the disciple of Theoctistus and also of St Platon of the Studion Monastery (April 5).

Attaining a high degree of spiritual perfection, he received from God the gift of healing the sick and casting out unclean spirits. He spent many years as a hermit, roaming the wilderness, the mountains and forests, both day and night offering up prayer to the Lord God. He died at a great old age, in the year 795.


St Eustathius the Archbishop of Antioch

Saint Eustathius, Archbishop of Antioch (323-331) was born in Side, Pamphylia in 324. He was Bishop of Beroea (modern Aleppo), and enjoyed the love and esteem of the people, and at the request of his flock he was elevated by the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council (325) to the See of Antioch.

St Eustathius was a learned theologian, and was also distinguished by his broad knowledge in secular sciences. When the heresy of Arius began to spread in the East (Arianism denied the consubstantiality of the Son of God with the Father), St Eustathius struggled zealously for the purity of the Orthodox Faith through his words and his writings.

The First Ecumenical Council was convened in the year 325 by the holy God-crowned Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337). The first to preside over this Council was St Eustathius. The Council condemned the heretical teachings of Arius and incorporated the Orthodox confession into the Symbol of Faith (the Nicene Creed).

But the mad Arius, as St Eustathius called him, refused to renounce his errors. He and those who shared his opinion were excommunicated from the Church by the Council. Among the bishops who signed the Nicene Symbol of Faith were some who sympathized with the heresy of Arius, but signed the Acts of the Council through fear of excommunication.

After the Council, his enemies plotted against St Eustathius. With great cunning they gained his consent to convene a local Council at Antioch. Having bribed a certain profligate woman, they persuaded her to appear at the Council with an infant at her breast, and falsely declare that St Eustathius was the father of the infant.

The Arians declared St Eustathius deposed, violating the Apostolic Rule that accusations against the clergy must be substantiated by two witnesses. Without a trial he was sent off into exile in Thrace. But the lie was soon unmasked: the woman repented after falling grievously ill. She summoned the clergy, and in the presence of many people, she confessed her sin.

St Constantine the Great died around this time, and his son Constantius (337-361), who shared the heretical views of Arius and favored the Arian bishops, succeeded his father on the throne. Even in exile, St Eustathius struggled for Orthodoxy with the same zeal. He died in exile, in the city of Philippi or Trajanopolis, in the year 337.

Convened in the year 381 at Constaninople, the Second Ecumenical Council confirmed the Orthodox Symbol of Faith, which St Eustathius had so vigorously defended. The Arian heresy was once again anthematized.

In the year 482 the relics of St Eustathius were reverently transferred from Philippi to Antioch, to the great joy of the Antioch people, who had not ceased to honor and love their patriarch.

St Eustathius was esteemed by the great hierarchs of the fourth century, Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Athanasius of Alexandria, Epiphanius of Cyprus, Anastasius of Sinai, and Jerome of Stridonia. The renowned church historian Bishop Theodoret of Cyrrhus calls St Eustathius a pillar of the Church and a man of piety, of equal stature with St Athanasius of Alexandria and the other bishops at the forefront of the struggle for Orthodoxy.


St George the Bishop of Amastris on the Black Sea

Saint George, Bishop of Amastris, was from the city of Kromna, near the city of Amastris close to the Black Sea. His pious and illustrious parents Theodore and Migethusa gave him a fine spiritual and secular education. St George withdrew to the mountains of Syriki in Asia Minor, where he embraced monasticism and began to lead a strict ascetic life under the guidance of a hermit.

After the death of his Elder, St George moved to a monastery in Bonissa, and there continued with his efforts. After the death of the bishop of the city of Amastris, St George was chosen bishop by the clergy and the people, and he was consecrated at Constantinople by Patriarch Tarasius (February 25). Arriving in Amastris, St George instructed his flock, he adorned several churches, was a defender of widows and orphans, fed the poor, and in everything he gave example of a God-pleasing life.

By the power of his prayer he repelled the Saracens who were ravaging the countryside from the city of Amastris. He also delivered from death Amastrian merchants wrongfully condemned in the city of Trebizon.

St George died peacefully in the midst of his flock on March 3, 805 during the reign of the emperor Nicephorus I (802-811).


Icon of the Mother of God “Kozelshchansk”

The Kozelshchansk Icon of the Mother of God was glorified in the late nineteenth century, though it is older than that. This icon is of Italian origin and was brought to Russia by one of Empress Elizabeth’s (1741-1761) maids of honor, who was Italian. The owner of the icon married a records clerk of the Zaporozhsky-Cossack army, Siromakh. So, the icon went to the Ukraine with them.

During the nineteenth century it belonged to the family of Count Vladimir Kapnist, and was one of their sacred possessions. The icon was in the village of Kozelschina, Poltava governance. During Cheesefare Week in the year 1880, Maria, the daughter of V. I. Kapnist, dislocated some bones in her foot. The local doctor said the problem was not serious. Dr. Grube, a noted surgeon in Kharkov, agreed with the diagnosis, and he applied a plaster cast to Maria’s foot. He also prescribed hot baths and iron supplements. To lessen the discomfort of the foot while walking, a special shoe was made with metal bands that went around the girl’s leg. Lent passed, but the girl did not feel any relief.

After Pascha, Maria’s other foot became twisted. Then both shoulders and her left hip became dislocated, and she developed pain in her spine. The doctor advised Count Kapnist to take his daughter immediately to the Caucasus for the curative mineral waters and mountain air. The journey to the Caucasus and the curative treatments caused even greater affliction. The girl lost all feeling in her hands and feet, and did not even feel pinches.

Because of the advanced degree of the illness, and since therapy was not helping, they were compelled to return home.

In the month of October, the father journeyed with his sick daughter to Moscow. Here he consulted specialists, who declared that they could do nothing for Maria.

The parents and the sick girl began to despair. However, an unexpected opportunity for help from a foreign professor presented itself. Since it would be some while before his arrival in Moscow, the sick girl asked to return home. The Count sent her back to the village, and his wife promised to bring their daughter back to Moscow when he received news of the the professor’s arrival. On February 21, 1881, they received a telegram saying that the professor had arrived in Moscow.

On the day before the appointment, Maria’s mother suggested that she pray before the family icon of the Mother of God. She said to her daughter, “Masha [a diminutive form of Maria], tomorrow we go to Moscow. Take the icon, let us clean its cover and pray to the Most Holy Theotokos that your infirmity be cured.”

The girl, who had no confidence in earthly physicians, placed all her hope in God. This icon had long been known as wonderworking. According to Tradition, young women would pray before it to have a happy family. It was also the custom to clean the cover of the icon, and the one praying would wipe it with cotton or linen.

Pressing the holy icon to her bosom, the sick girl, with the help of her mother, cleaned it and poured out all her sorrow and despair of soul to the Mother of God. All at once, she felt the strength return to her body and she cried out loudly, “Mama! Mama! I can feel my legs! I can feel my hands!” She tore off the metal braces and bandages and began to walk about the room, while continuing to hold the icon of the Mother of God in her hands.

The parish priest was summoned at once and celebrated a service of Thanksgiving before the icon. The joyous event quickly became known throughout all the surrounding villages. The Countess and Maria went to Moscow and took with them the holy icon of the Mother of God. News of the healing quickly spread about Moscow and people began to throng to the hotel, and then to the church, where they had brought the icon.

The icon continued to work several more healings. When the family returned home to Kozelschina, people had already heard about the miracles of the Kozelschansk icon of the Mother of God in Moscow, and many came to venerate the icon. It was no longer possible to keep the icon at home, so by the order of Archbishop John of Poltava, the icon was transferred to a temporary chapel on April 23, 1881. Every day from early morning, services of Thanksgiving and Akathists were served before the icon.

In 1882 a chapel was built on the grounds of the estate, and then a church. decision of the Holy Synod on March 1, 1885 a women’s monastery was established, and on February 17, 1891 it was dedicated to the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos.

At present, the Kozelschansk Icon is in the Krasnogorsk Protection women’s monastery (Kiev diocese). In the lower left corner of the icon is a table with a cup and a spoon. It is believed that this symbolizes the Mother of God as a “bowl for mixing the wine of joy” (Akathist, Ikos 11). A Service and an Akathist have been composed for the Kozelschansk Icon.


St John “Scholasticus”, Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint John Scholasticus, Patriarch of Constantinople, was born in Sirimion near Antioch, and studied law. He was ordained a priest because of his great holiness and piety. Later he was elevated to the patriarchal throne, where he spent the years 565 to 577.

While still a presbyter, he compiled a collection of Church Rules in Fifty Chapters, and later during his time as patriarch he made a Codex of civil laws relating to the Church. From these collections was compiled the Nomocanon (i.e. “Law-canon”), used in church administration. St John also composed the “Cherubic Hymn”, and “Of Thy Mystical Supper.”


St Zachariah, Patriarch of Jerusalem

Saint Zacharias, Patriarch of Jerusalem, lived from the end of the sixth to the early seventh centuries. He became Patriarch of Jerusalem in 609. In the year 614 the Persian emperor Chosroes fell upon Jerusalem, looted it, and led many Christians into captivity, including St Zacharias.

Chosroes also captured the Life-Creating Cross of Christ. During the invasion, as many as 90,000 Christians perished. Afterwards Chosroes was compelled to sue for peace with the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius (610-641). The Cross of the Lord was returned to Jerusalem. The Christian captives who remained alive also were returned, among them Patriarch Zacharias, who died peacefully in the year 633.