Lives of all saints commemorated on April 17


Great and Holy Thursday

THURSDAY: The Last Supper

Two events shape the liturgy of Great and Holy Thursday: the Last Supper of Christ with His disciples, and the betrayal of Judas. The meaning of both is in love. The Last Supper is the ultimate revelation of God’s redeeming love for man, of love as the very essence of salvation. And the betrayal of Judas reveals that sin, death and self-destruction are also due to love, but to deviated and distorted love, love directed at that which does not deserve love. Here is the mystery of this unique day, and its liturgy, where light and darkness, joy and sorrow are so strangely mixed, challenges us with the choice on which depends the eternal destiny of each one of us. “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come... having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end...” (John 13:1). To understand the meaning of the Last Supper we must see it as the very end of the great movement of Divine Love which began with the creation of the world and is now to be consummated in the death and resurrection of Christ.

God is Love (1 John 4:8). And the first gift of Love was life. The meaning, the content of life was communion. To be alive man was to eat and to drink, to partake of the world. The world was thus Divine love made food, made Body of man. And being alive, i.e. partaking of the world, man was to be in communion with God, to have God as the meaning, the content and the end of his life. Communion with the God-given world was indeed communion with God. Man received his food from God and making it his body and his life, he offered the whole world to God, transformed it into life in God and with God. The love of God gave life to man, the love of man for God transformed this life into communion with God. This was paradise. Life in it was, indeed, eucharistic. Through man and his love for God the whole creation was to be sanctified and transformed into one all-embracing sacrament of Divine Presence and man was the priest of this sacrament.

But in sin man lost this eucharistic life. He lost it because he ceased to see the world as a means of Communion with God and his life as eucharist, as adoration and thanksgiving. . . He love himself and the world for their own sake; he made himself the content and the end of his life. He thought that his hunger and thirst, i.e. his dependence of his life on the world—can be satisfied by the world as such, by food as such. But world and food, once they are deprived of their initial sacramental meaning—as means of communion with God, once they are not received for God’s sake and filled with hunger and thirst for God, once, in other words, God is no longer, their real “content” can give no life, satisfy no hunger, for they have no life in themselves... And thus by putting his love in them, man deviated his love from the only object of all love, of all hunger, of all desires. And he died. For death is the inescapable “decomposition” of life cut from its only source and content. Man thought to find life in the world and in food, but he found death. His life became communion with death, for instead of transforming the world by faith, love, and adoration into communion with God, he submitted himself entirely to the world, he ceased to be its priest and became its slave. And by his sin the whole world was made a cemetery, where people condemned to death partook of death and “sat in the region and shadow of death” (Matt. 4:16).

But if man betrayed, God remained faithful to man. He did not “turn Himself away forever from His creature whom He had made, neither did He forget the works of His hands, but He visited him in diverse manners, through the tender compassion of His mercy” (Liturgy of St Basil). A new Divine work began, that of redemption and salvation. And it was fulfilled in Christ, the Son of God Who in order to restore man to his pristine beauty and to restore life as communion with God, became Man, took upon Himself our nature, with its thirst and hunger, with its desire for and love of, life. And in Him life was revealed, given, accepted and fulfilled as total and perfect Eucharist, as total and perfect communion with God. He rejected the basic human temptation: to live “by bread alone,” He revealed that God and His kingdom are the real food, the real life of man. And this perfect eucharistic Life, filled with God, and, therefore Divine and immortal, He gave to all those who would believe in Him, i,e. find in Him the meaning and the content of their lives. Such is the wonderful meaning of the Last Supper. He offered Himself as the true food of man, because the Life revealed in Him is the true Life. And thus the movement of Divine Love which began in paradise with a Divine “take, eat. ..” (for eating is life for man) comes now “unto the end” with the Divine “take, eat, this is My Body...” (for God is life of man). The Last Supper is the restoration of the paradise of bliss, of life as Eucharist and Communion.

But this hour of ultimate love is also that of the ultimate betrayal. Judas leaves the light of the Upper Room and goes into darkness. “And it was night” (John 13:30). Why does he leave? Because he loves, answers the Gospel, and his fateful love is stressed again and again in the hymns of Holy Thursday. It does not matter indeed, that he loves the “silver.” Money stands here for all the deviated and distorted love which leads man into betraying God. It is, indeed, love stolen from God and Judas, therefore, is the Thief. When he does not love God and in God, man still loves and desires, for he was created to love and love is his nature, but it is then a dark and self-destroying passion and death is at its end. And each year, as we immerse ourselves into the unfathomable light and depth of Holy Thursday, the same decisive question is addressed to each one of us: do I respond to Christ’s love and accept it as my life, do I follow Judas into the darkness of his night?

The liturgy of Holy Thursday includes: a) Matins, b) Vespers and, following Vespers, the Liturgy of St Basil the Great. In the Cathedral Churches the special service of the Washing of Feet takes place after the Liturgy; while the deacon reads the Gospel, the Bishop washes the feet of twelve priests, reminding us that Christ’s love is the foundation of life in the Church and shapes all relations within it. It is also on Holy Thursday that Holy Chrism is consecrated by the primates of autocephalous Churches, and this also means that the new love of Christ is the gift we receive from the Holy Spirit on the day of our entrance into the Church.

At Matins the Troparion sets the theme of the day: the opposition between the love of Christ and the “insatiable desire” of Judas.

“When the glorious disciples were illumined by washing at the Supper,
Then was the impious Judas darkened with the love of silver
And to the unjust judges does he betray Thee, the just Judge.
Consider, 0 Lover of money, him who hanged himself because of it.
Do not follow the insatiable desire which dared this against the Master,
0 Lord, good to all, glory to Thee.”

After the Gospel reading (Luke 12:1-40) we are given the contemplation, the mystical and eternal meaning of the Last Supper in the beautiful canon of St Cosmas. Its last “irmos,” (Ninth Ode) invites us to share in the hospitality of the Lord’s banquet:

“Come, 0 ye faithful
Let us enjoy the hospitality of the Lord and the banquet of immortality
In the upper chamber with minds uplifted....”

At Vespers, the stichira on “Lord, I have cried” stress the spiritual anticlimax of Holy Thursday, the betrayal of Judas:

“Judas the slave and Knave,
The disciple and traitor,
The friend and fiend,
Was proved by his deeds,
For, as he followed the Master,
Within himself he contemplated His betrayal....”

After the Entrance, three lessons from the Old Testament:

1) Exodus 19: 10-19. God’s descent from Mount Sinai to His people as the image of God’s coming in the Eucharist.

2) Job 38:1-23, 42:1-5, God’s conversation with Job and Job’s answer: “who will utter to me what I understand not? Things too great and wonderful for me, which I knew not...”—and these “great and wonderful things” are fulfilled in the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood.

3) Isaiah 50:4-11. The beginning of the prophecies on the suffering servant of God,

The Epistle reading is from I Corinthians 11:23-32: St Paul’s account of the Last Supper and the meaning of communion.

The Gospel reading (the longest of the year is taken from all four Gospels and is the full story of the Last Supper, the betrayal of Judas and Christ’s arrest in the garden.

The Cherubic hymn and the hymn of Communion are replaced by the words of the prayer before Communion:

“Of Thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant,
For I will not speak of Thy Mystery to Thine enemies,
Neither like Judas will I give Thee a kiss;
But like the thief will I confess Thee:
Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom.”

by The Very Rev. Alexander Schmemann, S.T.D.
Professor of Liturgical Theology, St Vladimir’s Seminary


Hieromartyr Simeon the Bishop in Persia, and those with him in Persia

The Hieromartyr Simeon, Bishop of Persia, suffered during a persecution against Christians under the Persian emperor Sapor II (310-381). They accused the saint of collaborating with the Roman Empire and of subversive activities against the Persian emperor.

In the year 344, the emperor issued an edict which imposed a heavy tax upon Christians. When some of them refused to pay it, this was regarded as an act of rebellion, so the emperor began a fierce persecution against Christians.

St Simeon was brought to trial in iron fetters as a supposed enemy of the Persian realm, together with the two hieromartyrs Habdelai and Ananias. The holy bishop would not even bow to the emperor, who asked why he would not show him the proper respect. The saint answered, “Formerly, I bowed because of your rank, but now, when you ask me to renounce my God and abandon my faith, it is not proper for me to bow to you.”

The emperor urged him to worship the sun, and he threatened to eradicate Christianity in his land if he refused. But neither urgings nor threats could shake the steadfast saint, and they led him off to prison. Along the way the eunuch Usphazanes, a counsellor of the emperor, saw the saint. He stood up and bowed to the bishop, but the saint turned away from him because he, a former Christian, out of fear of the emperor, now worshipped the sun.

The eunuch repented with all his heart, he exchanged his fine attire for coarse garb, and sitting at the doors of the court, he cried out bitterly, “Woe to me, when I stand before my God, from Whom I am cut off. Here was Simeon, and he has turned his back on me!”

The emperor Sapor learned about the grief of his beloved tutor and asked him what had happened. He told the emperor that he bitterly regretted his apostasy and would no more worship the sun, but only the one true God. The emperor was surprised at the old man’s sudden decision, and he urged him not to abjure the gods whom their fathers had reverenced. But Usphazanes was unyielding, and they condemned him to death. St Usphazanes asked that the city heralds report that he died not for crimes against the emperor, but for being a Christian. The emperor granted his request.

St Simeon also learned about the death of Usphazanes, and he gave thanks to the Lord. When they brought him before the emperor a second time, St Simeon again refused to worship the pagan gods and confessed his faith in Christ. The enraged emperor gave orders to behead all the Christians in the prison before the saint’s eyes.

Without fear the Christians went to execution, blessed by the holy hierarch, and they bent their heads beneath the sword. St Simeon’s companion, the Priest Habdelai, was also beheaded. When they came to the Priest Ananias, he suddenly trembled. Then one of the dignitaries, St Phusicus, a secret Christian, was afraid that Ananias would renounce Christ, and he cried out, “Do not fear the sword, Elder, and you will see the divine light of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

St Phusicus betrayed himself by this outburst. The emperor gave orders to pluck out his tongue and to flay the skin off him. Along with St Phusicus, his daughter Askitrea was also martyred. St Simeon was the last to go before the executioner, and he placed his head on the chopping-block (April 13, 344). Executions continued all during Bright Week until April 23.

St Azates the Eunuch, a close official to the emperor, also received the crown of martyrdom. The sources indicate that 1,150 Martyrs perished because they refused to accept the Persian religion.


Martyr Abdechalas in Persia

The Hieromartyr Simeon, Bishop of Persia, suffered during a persecution against Christians under the Persian emperor Sapor II (310-381). They accused the saint of collaborating with the Roman Empire and of subversive activities against the Persian emperor.

In the year 344 the emperor issued an edict which imposed a heavy tax upon Christians. When some of them refused to pay it, this was regarded as an act of rebellion, so the emperor began a fierce persecution against Christians.

St Simeon was brought to trial in iron fetters as a supposed enemy of the Persian realm, together with the two hieromartyrs Habdelai and Ananias. The holy bishop would not even bow to the emperor, who asked why he would not show him the proper respect. The saint answered, “Formerly, I bowed because of your rank, but now, when you ask me to renounce my God and abandon my faith, it is not proper for me to bow to you.”

The emperor urged him to worship the sun, and he threatened to eradicate Christianity in his land if he refused. But neither urgings nor threats could shake the steadfast saint, and they led him off to prison. Along the way the eunuch Usphazanes, a counsellor of the emperor, saw the saint. He stood up and bowed to the bishop, but the saint turned away from him because he, a former Christian, out of fear of the emperor, now worshipped the sun.

The eunuch repented with all his heart, he exchanged his fine attire for coarse garb, and sitting at the doors of the court, he cried out bitterly, “Woe to me, when I stand before my God, from Whom I am cut off. Here was Simeon, and he has turned his back on me!”

The emperor Sapor learned about the grief of his beloved tutor and asked him what had happened. He told the emperor that he bitterly regretted his apostasy and would no more worship the sun, but only the one true God. The emperor was surprised at the old man’s sudden decision, and he urged him not to abjure the gods whom their fathers had reverenced. But Usphazanes was unyielding, and they condemned him to death. St Usphazanes asked that the city heralds report that he died not for crimes against the emperor, but for being a Christian. The emperor granted his request.

St Simeon also learned about the death of Usphazanes, and he gave thanks to the Lord. When they brought him before the emperor a second time, St Simeon again refused to worship the pagan gods and confessed his faith in Christ. The enraged emperor gave orders to behead all the Christians in the prison before the saint’s eyes.

Without fear the Christians went to execution, blessed by the holy hierarch, and they bent their heads beneath the sword. St Simeon’s companion, the Priest Habdelai, was also beheaded. When they came to the Priest Ananias, he suddenly trembled. Then one of the dignitaries, St Phusicus, a secret Christian, was afraid that Ananias would renounce Christ, and he cried out, “Do not fear the sword, Elder, and you will see the divine light of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

St Phusicus betrayed himself by this outburst. The emperor gave orders to pluck out his tongue and to flay the skin off him. Along with St Phusicus, his daughter Askitrea was also martyred. St Simeon was the last to go before the executioner, and he placed his head on the chopping-block (April 13, 344). Executions continued all during Bright Week until April 23.

St Azates the Eunuch, a close official to the emperor, also received the crown of martyrdom. The sources indicate that 1,150 Martyrs perished because they refused to accept the Persian religion.


Martyr Ananias the Presbyter in Persia

The Hieromartyr Simeon, Bishop of Persia, suffered during a persecution against Christians under the Persian emperor Sapor II (310-381). They accused the saint of collaborating with the Roman Empire and of subversive activities against the Persian emperor.

In the year 344 the emperor issued an edict which imposed a heavy tax upon Christians. When some of them refused to pay it, this was regarded as an act of rebellion, so the emperor began a fierce persecution against Christians.

St Simeon was brought to trial in iron fetters as a supposed enemy of the Persian realm, together with the two hieromartyrs Habdelai and Ananias. The holy bishop would not even bow to the emperor, who asked why he would not show him the proper respect. The saint answered, “Formerly, I bowed because of your rank, but now, when you ask me to renounce my God and abandon my faith, it is not proper for me to bow to you.”

The emperor urged him to worship the sun, and he threatened to eradicate Christianity in his land if he refused. But neither urgings nor threats could shake the steadfast saint, and they led him off to prison. Along the way the eunuch Usphazanes, a counsellor of the emperor, saw the saint. He stood up and bowed to the bishop, but the saint turned away from him because he, a former Christian, out of fear of the emperor, now worshipped the sun.

The eunuch repented with all his heart, he exchanged his fine attire for coarse garb, and sitting at the doors of the court, he cried out bitterly, “Woe to me, when I stand before my God, from Whom I am cut off. Here was Simeon, and he has turned his back on me!”

The emperor Sapor learned about the grief of his beloved tutor and asked him what had happened. He told the emperor that he bitterly regretted his apostasy and would no more worship the sun, but only the one true God. The emperor was surprised at the old man’s sudden decision, and he urged him not to abjure the gods whom their fathers had reverenced. But Usphazanes was unyielding, and they condemned him to death. St Usphazanes asked that the city heralds report that he died not for crimes against the emperor, but for being a Christian. The emperor granted his request.

St Simeon also learned about the death of Usphazanes, and he gave thanks to the Lord. When they brought him before the emperor a second time, St Simeon again refused to worship the pagan gods and confessed his faith in Christ. The enraged emperor gave orders to behead all the Christians in the prison before the saint’s eyes.

Without fear the Christians went to execution, blessed by the holy hierarch, and they bent their heads beneath the sword. St Simeon’s companion, the Priest Habdelai, was also beheaded. When they came to the Priest Ananias, he suddenly trembled. Then one of the dignitaries, St Phusicus, a secret Christian, was afraid that Ananias would renounce Christ, and he cried out, “Do not fear the sword, Elder, and you will see the divine light of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

St Phusicus betrayed himself by this outburst. The emperor gave orders to pluck out his tongue and to flay the skin off him. Along with St Phusicus, his daughter Askitrea was also martyred. St Simeon was the last to go before the executioner, and he placed his head on the chopping-block (April 13, 344). Executions continued all during Bright Week until April 23.

St Azates the Eunuch, a close official to the emperor, also received the crown of martyrdom. The sources indicate that 1,150 Martyrs perished because they refused to accept the Persian religion.


Martyr Usthazanes in Persia

The Hieromartyr Simeon, Bishop of Persia, suffered during a persecution against Christians under the Persian emperor Sapor II (310-381). They accused the saint of collaborating with the Roman Empire and of subversive activities against the Persian emperor.

In the year 344 the emperor issued an edict which imposed a heavy tax upon Christians. When some of them refused to pay it, this was regarded as an act of rebellion, so the emperor began a fierce persecution against Christians.

St Simeon was brought to trial in iron fetters as a supposed enemy of the Persian realm, together with the two hieromartyrs Habdelai and Ananias. The holy bishop would not even bow to the emperor, who asked why he would not show him the proper respect. The saint answered, “Formerly, I bowed because of your rank, but now, when you ask me to renounce my God and abandon my faith, it is not proper for me to bow to you.”

The emperor urged him to worship the sun, and he threatened to eradicate Christianity in his land if he refused. But neither urgings nor threats could shake the steadfast saint, and they led him off to prison. Along the way the eunuch Usphazanes, a counsellor of the emperor, saw the saint. He stood up and bowed to the bishop, but the saint turned away from him because he, a former Christian, out of fear of the emperor, now worshipped the sun.

The eunuch repented with all his heart, he exchanged his fine attire for coarse garb, and sitting at the doors of the court, he cried out bitterly, “Woe to me, when I stand before my God, from Whom I am cut off. Here was Simeon, and he has turned his back on me!”

The emperor Sapor learned about the grief of his beloved tutor and asked him what had happened. He told the emperor that he bitterly regretted his apostasy and would no more worship the sun, but only the one true God. The emperor was surprised at the old man’s sudden decision, and he urged him not to abjure the gods whom their fathers had reverenced. But Usphazanes was unyielding, and they condemned him to death. St Usphazanes asked that the city heralds report that he died not for crimes against the emperor, but for being a Christian. The emperor granted his request.

St Simeon also learned about the death of Usphazanes, and he gave thanks to the Lord. When they brought him before the emperor a second time, St Simeon again refused to worship the pagan gods and confessed his faith in Christ. The enraged emperor gave orders to behead all the Christians in the prison before the saint’s eyes.

Without fear the Christians went to execution, blessed by the holy hierarch, and they bent their heads beneath the sword. St Simeon’s companion, the Priest Habdelai, was also beheaded. When they came to the Priest Ananias, he suddenly trembled. Then one of the dignitaries, St Phusicus, a secret Christian, was afraid that Ananias would renounce Christ, and he cried out, “Do not fear the sword, Elder, and you will see the divine light of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

St Phusicus betrayed himself by this outburst. The emperor gave orders to pluck out his tongue and to flay the skin off him. Along with St Phusicus, his daughter Askitrea was also martyred. St Simeon was the last to go before the executioner, and he placed his head on the chopping-block (April 13, 344). Executions continued all during Bright Week until April 23.

St Azates the Eunuch, a close official to the emperor, also received the crown of martyrdom. The sources indicate that 1,150 Martyrs perished because they refused to accept the Persian religion.


Martyr Phusicus (Pusicius) in Persia

The Hieromartyr Simeon, Bishop of Persia, suffered during a persecution against Christians under the Persian emperor Sapor II (310-381). They accused the saint of collaborating with the Roman Empire and of subversive activities against the Persian emperor.

In the year 344 the emperor issued an edict which imposed a heavy tax upon Christians. When some of them refused to pay it, this was regarded as an act of rebellion, so the emperor began a fierce persecution against Christians.

St Simeon was brought to trial in iron fetters as a supposed enemy of the Persian realm, together with the two hieromartyrs Habdelai and Ananias. The holy bishop would not even bow to the emperor, who asked why he would not show him the proper respect. The saint answered, “Formerly, I bowed because of your rank, but now, when you ask me to renounce my God and abandon my faith, it is not proper for me to bow to you.”

The emperor urged him to worship the sun, and he threatened to eradicate Christianity in his land if he refused. But neither urgings nor threats could shake the steadfast saint, and they led him off to prison. Along the way the eunuch Usphazanes, a counsellor of the emperor, saw the saint. He stood up and bowed to the bishop, but the saint turned away from him because he, a former Christian, out of fear of the emperor, now worshipped the sun.

The eunuch repented with all his heart, he exchanged his fine attire for coarse garb, and sitting at the doors of the court, he cried out bitterly, “Woe to me, when I stand before my God, from Whom I am cut off. Here was Simeon, and he has turned his back on me!”

The emperor Sapor learned about the grief of his beloved tutor and asked him what had happened. He told the emperor that he bitterly regretted his apostasy and would no more worship the sun, but only the one true God. The emperor was surprised at the old man’s sudden decision, and he urged him not to abjure the gods whom their fathers had reverenced. But Usphazanes was unyielding, and they condemned him to death. St Usphazanes asked that the city heralds report that he died not for crimes against the emperor, but for being a Christian. The emperor granted his request.

St Simeon also learned about the death of Usphazanes, and he gave thanks to the Lord. When they brought him before the emperor a second time, St Simeon again refused to worship the pagan gods and confessed his faith in Christ. The enraged emperor gave orders to behead all the Christians in the prison before the saint’s eyes.

Without fear the Christians went to execution, blessed by the holy hierarch, and they bent their heads beneath the sword. St Simeon’s companion, the Priest Habdelai, was also beheaded. When they came to the Priest Ananias, he suddenly trembled. Then one of the dignitaries, St Phusicus, a secret Christian, was afraid that Ananias would renounce Christ, and he cried out, “Do not fear the sword, Elder, and you will see the divine light of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

St Phusicus betrayed himself by this outburst. The emperor gave orders to pluck out his tongue and to flay the skin off him. Along with St Phusicus, his daughter Askitrea was also martyred. St Simeon was the last to go before the executioner, and he placed his head on the chopping-block (April 13, 344). Executions continued all during Bright Week until April 23.

St Azates the Eunuch, a close official to the emperor, also received the crown of martyrdom. The sources indicate that 1,150 Martyrs perished because they refused to accept the Persian religion.


Martyr Askitrea in Persia

The Hieromartyr Simeon, Bishop of Persia, suffered during a persecution against Christians under the Persian emperor Sapor II (310-381). They accused the saint of collaborating with the Roman Empire and of subversive activities against the Persian emperor.

In the year 344 the emperor issued an edict which imposed a heavy tax upon Christians. When some of them refused to pay it, this was regarded as an act of rebellion, so the emperor began a fierce persecution against Christians.

St Simeon was brought to trial in iron fetters as a supposed enemy of the Persian realm, together with the two hieromartyrs Habdelai and Ananias. The holy bishop would not even bow to the emperor, who asked why he would not show him the proper respect. The saint answered, “Formerly, I bowed because of your rank, but now, when you ask me to renounce my God and abandon my faith, it is not proper for me to bow to you.”

The emperor urged him to worship the sun, and he threatened to eradicate Christianity in his land if he refused. But neither urgings nor threats could shake the steadfast saint, and they led him off to prison. Along the way the eunuch Usphazanes, a counsellor of the emperor, saw the saint. He stood up and bowed to the bishop, but the saint turned away from him because he, a former Christian, out of fear of the emperor, now worshipped the sun.

The eunuch repented with all his heart, he exchanged his fine attire for coarse garb, and sitting at the doors of the court, he cried out bitterly, “Woe to me, when I stand before my God, from Whom I am cut off. Here was Simeon, and he has turned his back on me!”

The emperor Sapor learned about the grief of his beloved tutor and asked him what had happened. He told the emperor that he bitterly regretted his apostasy and would no more worship the sun, but only the one true God. The emperor was surprised at the old man’s sudden decision, and he urged him not to abjure the gods whom their fathers had reverenced. But Usphazanes was unyielding, and they condemned him to death. St Usphazanes asked that the city heralds report that he died not for crimes against the emperor, but for being a Christian. The emperor granted his request.

St Simeon also learned about the death of Usphazanes, and he gave thanks to the Lord. When they brought him before the emperor a second time, St Simeon again refused to worship the pagan gods and confessed his faith in Christ. The enraged emperor gave orders to behead all the Christians in the prison before the saint’s eyes.

Without fear the Christians went to execution, blessed by the holy hierarch, and they bent their heads beneath the sword. St Simeon’s companion, the Priest Habdelai, was also beheaded. When they came to the Priest Ananias, he suddenly trembled. Then one of the dignitaries, St Phusicus, a secret Christian, was afraid that Ananias would renounce Christ, and he cried out, “Do not fear the sword, Elder, and you will see the divine light of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

St Phusicus betrayed himself by this outburst. The emperor gave orders to pluck out his tongue and to flay the skin off him. Along with St Phusicus, his daughter Askitrea was also martyred. St Simeon was the last to go before the executioner, and he placed his head on the chopping-block (April 13, 344). Executions continued all during Bright Week until April 23.

St Azates the Eunuch, a close official to the emperor, also received the crown of martyrdom. The sources indicate that 1,150 Martyrs perished because they refused to accept the Persian religion.


Martyr Azades the Eunuch in Persia

The Hieromartyr Simeon, Bishop of Persia, suffered during a persecution against Christians under the Persian emperor Sapor II (310-381). They accused the saint of collaborating with the Roman Empire and of subversive activities against the Persian emperor.

In the year 344 the emperor issued an edict which imposed a heavy tax upon Christians. When some of them refused to pay it, this was regarded as an act of rebellion, so the emperor began a fierce persecution against Christians.

St Simeon was brought to trial in iron fetters as a supposed enemy of the Persian realm, together with the two hieromartyrs Habdelai and Ananias. The holy bishop would not even bow to the emperor, who asked why he would not show him the proper respect. The saint answered, “Formerly, I bowed because of your rank, but now, when you ask me to renounce my God and abandon my faith, it is not proper for me to bow to you.”

The emperor urged him to worship the sun, and he threatened to eradicate Christianity in his land if he refused. But neither urgings nor threats could shake the steadfast saint, and they led him off to prison. Along the way the eunuch Usphazanes, a counsellor of the emperor, saw the saint. He stood up and bowed to the bishop, but the saint turned away from him because he, a former Christian, out of fear of the emperor, now worshipped the sun.

The eunuch repented with all his heart, he exchanged his fine attire for coarse garb, and sitting at the doors of the court, he cried out bitterly, “Woe to me, when I stand before my God, from Whom I am cut off. Here was Simeon, and he has turned his back on me!”

The emperor Sapor learned about the grief of his beloved tutor and asked him what had happened. He told the emperor that he bitterly regretted his apostasy and would no more worship the sun, but only the one true God. The emperor was surprised at the old man’s sudden decision, and he urged him not to abjure the gods whom their fathers had reverenced. But Usphazanes was unyielding, and they condemned him to death. St Usphazanes asked that the city heralds report that he died not for crimes against the emperor, but for being a Christian. The emperor granted his request.

St Simeon also learned about the death of Usphazanes, and he gave thanks to the Lord. When they brought him before the emperor a second time, St Simeon again refused to worship the pagan gods and confessed his faith in Christ. The enraged emperor gave orders to behead all the Christians in the prison before the saint’s eyes.

Without fear the Christians went to execution, blessed by the holy hierarch, and they bent their heads beneath the sword. St Simeon’s companion, the Priest Habdelai, was also beheaded. When they came to the Priest Ananias, he suddenly trembled. Then one of the dignitaries, St Phusicus, a secret Christian, was afraid that Ananias would renounce Christ, and he cried out, “Do not fear the sword, Elder, and you will see the divine light of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

St Phusicus betrayed himself by this outburst. The emperor gave orders to pluck out his tongue and to flay the skin off him. Along with St Phusicus, his daughter Askitrea was also martyred. St Simeon was the last to go before the executioner, and he placed his head on the chopping-block (April 13, 344). Executions continued all during Bright Week until April 23.

St Azates the Eunuch, a close official to the emperor, also received the crown of martyrdom. The sources indicate that 1,150 Martyrs perished because they refused to accept the Persian religion.


St Acacius the Bishop of Melitene

Saint Acacius, Bishop of Melitene, was born into a pious family in the Armenian city of Melitene. His parents were childless for a long time. They prayed for a son, and vowed to dedicate him to God. Therefore, Acacius was given to Bishop Ostrychius of Melitene (November 7) to serve the Church. St Ostrychius was a firm supporter of Orthodoxy. When the heresy of Macedonius arose, it was St Ostrychius who set forth the Orthodox teaching about the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Holy Trinity One in Essence and Undivided at the Second Ecumenical Council (381).

The holy hierarch raised Acacius with love, made him a reader, and then ordained him a deacon and then to the holy priesthood. St Acacius devoutly served the Church. He instructed both adults and children in the Holy Scripture, and in the Orthodox Confession of faith.

Among his disciples was St Euthymius the Great (January 20).

After the death of St Ostrychius, St Acacius was elevated to the bishop’s throne of Melitene by general acclamation. He wisely governed his diocese. By his firm faith, humility and deeds, the saint acquired the gift of wonderworking. Once, during a dry summer, the saint celebrated Liturgy in an open field, suddenly the wine in the Holy Chalice was mixed by the falling rain, which fell throughout the land.

He prayed during a flood, and the advancing river turned away and did not rise higher than the stone which he had placed at the riverbank. On one of the islands of the River Azar, despite the opposition of the pagans, the saint built a temple in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos. The builders of the church either through carelessness or through malice, were not careful in building the dome. During the Liturgy the dome was ready to collapse. The people rushed out of the church in terror. But the saint halted their flight saying, “The Lord is the defender of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 26/27:1). The dome remained suspended in the air. Only when the services were ended, and the saint was the last one to emerge from the church, did the dome collapse, causing harm to no one. After this, the church was rebuilt.

St Acacius participated in the Third Ecumenical Council (431) and he defended the Orthodox teaching of the Two Natures (Divine and Human) of the Savior, and of His seedless Birth from the Most Holy Virgin Mother of God.

St Acacius peacefully fell asleep in the Lord around the year 435. He should not be confused with St Acacius the Confessor (March 31), who was also a bishop of Melitene.


Venerable Zosimas the Abbot of Solovki

Saint Zosimas, Igumen of Solovki a great luminary of the Russian North, was the founder of cenobitic monasticism on Solovki Island. He was born in Novgorod diocese, in the village of Tolvui near Lake Onega. From his early years he was raised in piety, and after the death of his parents Gabriel and Barbara, he gave away his possessions and received monastic tonsure.

In search of a solitary place, he journeyed to the shores of the White Sea, and at the mouth of the Suma he met St Herman (July 30), who told him of a desolate sea island, where he had spent six years with St Sabbatius (September 27).

Around the year 1436, the hermits crossed the sea and landed at the Solovki islands. There St Zosimas had a vision of a beautiful church in the sky. With their own hands the monks built cells and an enclosure, and they began to cultivate and sow the land.

Once, in late autumn, St Herman went to the mainland for provisions. Because of the autumn weather he was not able to return. St Zosimas remained alone on the island all winter. He suffered many temptations in struggles with the demons. Death by starvation threatened him, but miraculously two strangers appeared and left him a supply of bread, flour and oil. In spring St Herman returned to Solovki with the fisherman Mark, and he brought supplies of food and rigging for fishing nets.

When several hermits had gathered on the island, St Zosimas constructed a small wooden church in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord, and a trapeza. At the request of St Zosimas, an igumen was sent from Novgorod to the newly-formed monastery with an antimension for the church. Thus the renowned Solovki monastery had its start. In the severe conditions of the remote island the monks knew how to economize. But the igumens sent from Novgorod to Solovki could not stand life in such harsh conditions, and so the brethren chose St Zosimas as igumen.

St Zosimas occupied himself with building up the inner life of the monastery, and he introduced a strict cenobitic life. In 1465 he transferred the relics of St Sabbatius to Solovki from the River Vyg. The monastery suffered from the Novgorod nobles, who confiscated catches of fish from the monks. The saint was obliged to go to Novgorod and seek the protection of the archbishop.

On the advice of the archbishop, he visited the homes of the nobles and asked them not to permit the ruin of the monastery. The influential and rich Martha Boretskaya impiously gave orders to throw St Zosimas out, but then repented and invited him to a meal. At this meal he suddenly saw that six of the illustrious nobles sat without their heads. St Zosimas told about this vision to his disciple Daniel and predicted an immanent death for the nobles. The prediction was fulfilled in the year 1478, when the boyars were executed during the capture of Novgorod by Ivan III (1462-1505).

Shortly before death, the saint prepared his own grave, in which he was buried beyond the altar of the Transfiguration church (+ April 17, 1478). Later on, a chapel was built over his relics. His relics and the relics of St Sabbatius were transferred to the chapel dedicated to them at the Transfiguration cathedral on August 8, 1566.

Many miracles took place when St Zosimas and St Sabbatius appeared to fishermen who were perishing in the depths of the sea. St Zosimas is also a patron of bee-keeping and preserver of beehives, and he is even called “Bee-keeper.”

Those who are sick hasten to St Zosimas, asking to be healed. The many hospital churches dedicated to him attest to the curative


Uncovering of the relics of the Venerable Alexander the Abbot of Svir

Saint Alexander of Svir died on August 30, 1533. His incorrupt relics were uncovered in 1641 during the reconstruction of the Transfiguration cathedral.

The incorrupt relics of the saint were removed from the Svir Monastery by the Bolsheviks on December 20, 1918 after several unsuccessful attempts to confiscate them. There was an infamous campaign to liquidate the relics of the saints which continued from 1919 to 1922. Many relics of Russsian saints were stolen and subjected to “scientific examination” or displayed in antireligious museums. Some were completely destroyed.

Hoping to prove that the relics were fakes, the Soviets conducted many tests. However, the tests only confirmed that the relics were genuine. Finally, the holy relics were sent to Petrograd’s Military Medical Academy. There they remained for nearly eighty years.

A second uncovering of St Alexander’s relics took place in December 1997.

The relics were found to be incorrupt, just as they were when they were confiscated. The saint’s appearance matched the description in the records from 1641. Once it was determined that these were in fact the relics of St Alexander, Metropolitan Vladimir of St Petersburg permitted them to be taken to the church of St Sophia and her three daughters Faith, Hope, and Love (September 17) for four months before their return to the Svir Monastery. As people venerated St Alexander’s relics they noticed a fragrant myrrh flowing from them.

The holy relics were taken to the St Alexander of Svir Monastery in November 1998, and miraculous healings continue to take place before them.

See August 30 for the Life of St Alexander.


Martyr Adrian of Corinth

The Holy Martyr Adrian suffered during the time of the reign of the emperor Decius (249-251). Like many other Christians at that time, St Adrian was locked up in prison. During a pagan festival they brought out all the Christian prisoners to offer sacrifice to the idols. They ordered St Adrian to throw some incense on the coals, but the holy martyr scattered the fire and wrecked the sacrifice. The pagans fell upon him in a rage, beating him with sticks and iron rods, and striking him with stones. Finally, they threw him into a fire, and he won the crown of martyrdom.


St Agapitus the Pope of Rome

Saint Agapitus, Bishop of Rome, was a zealous adherent of Orthodoxy. By his pious life he won the general esteem and was elevated to the See of Rome in the year 535.

The Gothic king Theodoric the Great sent Agapitus to Constantinople for peace negotiations. Along the way, St Agapitus encountered a man who was lame and mute. He healed him of his lameness, and after receiving the Holy Mysteries the mute one spoke. After arriving in Constantinople, the saint healed a blind beggar.

At that time, a local Council was convened in Constantinople. St Agapitus participated in it and zealously defended the Orthodox teaching against the heretic Severus, who taught that the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ was subject to decay similar to every man’s body.

St Agapitus died at Constantinople in the year 536.


Venerable Macarius of Corinth

No information available at this time.