Lives of all saints commemorated on May 3


Martyr Timothy the Reader and his wife in Egypt

Saints Timothy and Maura suffered for the faith during the persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). St Timothy came from the village of Perapa (Egyptian Thebaid), and was the son of a priest named Pikolpossos. He was made a reader among the church clergy, and also a keeper and copyist of divine service books. St Timothy was denounced as a keeper of Christian books, which the emperor ordered to be confiscated and burned. They brought St Timothy before the governor Arian, who demanded that he hand over the sacred books. They subjected the saint to horrible tortures for his refusal to obey the command. They shoved two red-hot iron rods into his ears, from which the sufferer lost his eyesight and became blind.

St Timothy bravely endured the pain and he gave thanks to God, for granting him to suffer for Him. The torturers hung the saint head downwards, putting a piece of wood in his mouth, and they tied a heavy stone to his neck. St Timothy’s suffering was so extreme, that even those who tortured him implored the governor to ease up on the torture.

About this time they informed Arian that Timothy had a young wife named Maura, whom he had married only twenty days before. Arian ordered Maura to be brought, hoping that with her present, they could break St Timothy’s will. St Timothy urged his wife not to fear the tortures, but to follow his path. St Maura answered, “I am prepared to die with you,” and she boldly confessed herself a Christian. Arian commanded that the hair be torn from her head, and to cut the fingers off her hands.

St Maura underwent the torment with joy and even thanked the governor for the torture, which she endured so that her sins might be forgiven. Then Arian gave orders to throw St Maura into a boiling cauldron, but she did not feel any pain, and she remained unharmed. Suspecting that the servants had filled the cauldron with cold water out of sympathy for the martyr, Arian went up and ordered the saint to splash him on the hand with water from the cauldron. When the martyr did this, Arian screamed with pain and drew back his scalded hand. Then, momentarily admitting the power of the miracle, Arian confessed God in Whom Maura believed as the True God, and he ordered her to be released. But the devil still held great power over the governor, and soon he again began to urge St Maura to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Having gotten nowhere, Arian was overcome all the more by a satanic rage and he came up with new tortures. Then the people began to murmur and demand a stop to the abuse of this innocent woman. But St Maura, turning to the people, said, “Let no one defend me. I have one Defender, God, in Whom I trust.”

Finally, after torturing them for a long time, Arian ordered the martyrs to be crucified. For ten days they hung on crosses facing each other.

On the tenth day of martyrdom the saints offered up their souls to the Lord. This occurred in the year 286. Later, a solemn celebration of the holy martyrs Timothy and Maura was instituted at Constantinople, and a church was built in their honor.


Martyr Maura of Antinoe in Egypt

Saint Maura and her husband St Timothy suffered for the faith during the persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-305).

The governor Arian was informed that Timothy had a young wife named Maura, whom he had married only twenty days before. Arian ordered Maura to be brought, hoping that with her present, they could break St Timothy’s will. St Timothy urged his wife not to fear the tortures, but to follow his path. St Maura answered, “I am prepared to die with you,” and she boldly confessed herself a Christian. Arian commanded that the hair be torn from her head, and to cut the fingers off her hands.

St Maura underwent the torment with joy and even thanked the governor for the torture, which she endured so that her sins might be forgiven. Then Arian gave orders to throw St Maura into a boiling cauldron, but she did not feel any pain, and she remained unharmed. Suspecting that the servants had filled the cauldron with cold water out of sympathy for the martyr, Arian went up and ordered the saint to splash him on the hand with water from the cauldron. When the martyr did this, Arian screamed with pain and drew back his scalded hand. Then, momentarily admitting the power of the miracle, Arian confessed God in Whom Maura believed as the True God, and he ordered her to be released. But the devil still held great power over the governor, and soon he again began to urge St Maura to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Having gotten nowhere, Arian was overcome all the more by a satanic rage and he came up with new tortures. Then the people began to murmur and demand a stop to the abuse of this innocent woman. But St Maura, turning to the people, said, “Let no one defend me. I have one Defender, God, in Whom I trust.”

Finally, after torturing them for a long time, Arian ordered the martyrs to be crucified. For ten days they hung on crosses facing each other.

On the tenth day of martyrdom the saints offered up their souls to the Lord. This occurred in the year 286. Later, a solemn celebration of the holy martyrs Timothy and Maura was instituted at Constantinople, and a church was built in their honor.

On the first Sunday of July, we commemorate the discovery of a wonderworking icon of St Maura in the town of Machairado on the island of Zakynthos.


Venerable Theodosius the Abbot of the Kiev Far Caves Monastery, and Founder of Coenobitic Monasticism in Russia

Saint Theodosius of the Caves, was the Father of monasticism in Russia. He was born at Vasilevo, not far from Kiev. From his youth he felt an irresistible attraction for the ascetic life, and led an ascetic lifestyle while still in his parental home. He disdained childish games and attractions, and constantly went to church. He asked his parents to let him study the holy books, and through his ability and rare zeal, he quickly learned to read the books, so that everyone was amazed at his intellect.

When he was fourteen, he lost his father and remained under the supervision of his mother, a strict and domineering woman who loved her son very much. Many times she chastised her son for his yearning for asceticism, but he remained firmly committed to his path.

At the age of twenty-four, he secretly left his parents’ home and St Anthony at the Kiev Caves monastery blessed him to receive monastic tonsure with the name Theodosius. After four years his mother found him and with tearfully begged him to return home, but the saint persuaded her to remain in Kiev and to become a nun in the monastery of St Nicholas at the Askold cemetery.

St Theodosius toiled at the monastery more than others, and he often took upon himself some of the work of the other brethren. He carried water, chopped wood, ground up the grain, and carried the flour to each monk. On cold nights he uncovered his body and let it serve as food for gnats and mosquitoes. His blood flowed, but the saint occupied himself with handicrafts, and sang Psalms. He came to church before anyone else and, standing in one place, he did not leave it until the end of services. He also listened to the readings with particular attention.

In 1054 St Theodosius was ordained a hieromonk, and in 1057 he was chosen igumen. The fame of his deeds attracted a number of monks to the monastery, at which he built a new church and cells, and he introduced cenobitic rule of the Studion monastery, a copy of which he commissioned at Constantinople.

As igumen, St Theodosius continued his arduous duties at the monastery. He usually ate only dry bread and cooked greens without oil, and spent his nights in prayer without sleep. The brethren often noticed this, although the saint tried to conceal his efforts from others.

No one saw when St Theodosius dozed lightly, and usually he rested while sitting. During Great Lent the saint withdrew into a cave near the monastery, where he struggled unseen by anyone. His attire was a coarse hairshirt worn next to his body. He looked so much like a beggar that it was impossible to recognize in this old man the renowned igumen, deeply respected by all who knew him.

Once, St Theodosius was returning from visiting the Great Prince Izyaslav. The coachman, not recognizing him, said gruffly, “You, monk, are always on holiday, but I am constantly at work. Take my place, and let me ride in the carriage.” The holy Elder meekly complied and drove the servant. Seeing how nobles along the way bowed to the monk driving the horses, the servant took fright, but the holy ascetic calmed him, and gave him a meal at the monastery. Trusting in God’s help, the saint did not keep a large supply of food at the monastery, and therefore the brethren were in want of their daily bread. Through his prayers, however, unknown benefactors appeared at the monastery and furnished the necessities for the brethren.

The Great Princes, especially Izyaslav, loved to listen to the spiritual discourses of St Theodosius. The saint was not afraid to denounce the mighty of this world. Those unjustly condemned always found a defender in him, and judges would review matters at the request of the igumen. He was particularly concerned for the destitute. He built a special courtyard for them at the monastery where anyone in need could receive food and drink. Sensing the approach of death, St Theodosius peacefully fell asleep in the Lord in the year 1074. He was buried in a cave which he dug, where he secluded himself during fasting periods.

The relics of the ascetic were found incorrupt in the year 109, and he was glorified as a saint in 1108. Of the written works of St Theodosius six discourses, two letters to Great Prince Izyaslav, and a prayer for all Christians have survived to our time.

The Life of St Theodosius was written by St Nestor the Chronicler (October 27), a disciple of the great Abba, only thirty years after his repose, and it was always one of the favorite readings of the Russian nation. St Theodosius is also commemorated on September 2 and 28.


St Peter the Wonderworker and Bishop of Argos

St Peter the Wonderworker, Bishop of Argos in the Peloponnesos, lived during the ninth and early tenth centuries, and was raised by pious parents. St Peter’s parents, and later his brothers Paul, Dionysius, Platon and St Peter himself, all became monks. St Peter zealously devoted himself to monastic labors, and he excelled all his fellows. This came to the attention of the Italian bishop Nicholas (who from 895 was Patriarch of Constantinople), who wanted to elevate him to the rank of bishop. St Peter declined, accounting himself unworthy of such honor.

Bishop Nicholas consecrated Paul, St Peter’s brother, as Bishop of Corinth, and St Peter went to his brother and lived with him, taking upon himself the spiritual struggle of silence. After a year emissaries came to Bishop Paul from the city of Argos, where the bishop had died, and they asked for St Peter as their bishop. After long and intense entreaties, St Peter finally gave his consent. As bishop, St Peter toiled zealously in guiding his flock. He was extraordinarily compassionate, concerning himself with those in need, especially orphans and widows.

The saint fed the hungry in years of crop failure. Through his prayers the food set aside for the hungry never ran out. The saint also ransomed captives, healed the sick and the afflicted, and possessed the gift of insight. The saint predicted the day of his death, and departed to the Lord at the age of seventy. His relics were transferred from Argos to Nauplos in 1421, exuding myrrh, and working miracles and healings.


Icon of the Mother of God of Sven

The Sven Caves Icon of the Mother of God was painted by St Alypius of the Caves (August 17). On the icon the Mother of God is depicted sitting upon a throne, and with the Divine Infant on Her knees. St Theodosius is on the right side of the throne, and St Anthony of the Caves on the left. Until the year 1288 it was in the Kiev Caves monastery, where it was glorified by miracles. In 1288 it was transferred to the Briansk-Svensk monastery, which is dedicated to the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Prince Roman of Chernigov, then at Briansk, became blind. Hearing about the miracles worked by the icon of St Alypius, the prince sent a courier to the monastery requesting that the icon be sent to him at Briansk. They sent a priest with the icon along the River Desna. After the voyage the boat landed on the right bank of the River Svena. After lodging for the night they went to the boat to pray before the icon, but they did not find it there. They saw it on a hill on the opposite bank, resting in the branches of an oak tree. News of this reached Prince Roman, and they led him to the icon on foot.

The prince prayed fervently before the icon and vowed to build a monastery on that spot, donating all the land which could be seen from the hill. After the prayer the prince regained his sight. First he saw the footpath, then nearby objects, and finally all the surroundings.

After making a shrine for the icon, the prince had a Molieben served, and then they laid the foundations for a wooden church in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. The tree on which the icon rested was cut up and used as wood for other icons. The Feast day of the Sven Icon of the Mother of God was set for May 3. It is also commemorated on August 17 (the day of the repose of St Alypius the Iconographer).

The icon was glorified by healings of the blind and of the possessed, and has long been regarded as a protector from enemies.


Translation of the Dormition Icon of the Mother of God from Constantinople to the Kiev Caves, Far Caves

The Kiev Caves Icon of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos is one of the most ancient icons in the Russian Orthodox Church. The Mother of God entrusted it to four Byzantine architects, who in 1073 brought the icon to Sts Anthony and Theodosius of the Caves. The architects arrived at the monks’ cave and asked, “Where do you want to build the church?” The saints answered, “Go, the Lord will point out the place.”

“How is it that you, who are about to die, have still not designated the place?” the architects wondered. “And they gave us much gold.”

Then the monks summoned all the brethren and they began to question the Greeks, saying, “Tell us the truth. Who sent you, and how did you end up here?”

The architects answered, “One day, when each of us was asleep in his own home, handsome youths came to us at sunrise, and said, ‘The Queen summons you to Blachernae.’ We all arrived at the same time and, questioning one another we learned that each of us had heard this command of the Queen, and that the youths had come to each of us. Finally, we beheld the Queen of Heaven with a multitude of warriors. We bowed down to Her, and She said, ‘I want to build Myself a Church in Rus, at Kiev, and so I ask you to do this. Take enough gold for three years.’”

“We bowed down and asked, ‘Lady Queen! You are sending us to a foreign land. To whom are we sent?’ She answered, ‘I send you to the monks Anthony and Theodosius.’”

“We wondered, ‘Why then, Lady, do You give us gold for three years? Tell us that which concerns us, what we shall eat and what we shall drink, and tell us also what You know about it.’”

“The Queen replied, ‘Anthony will merely give the blessing, then depart from this world to eternal repose. The other one, Theodosius, will follow him after two years. Therefore, take enough gold. Moreover, no one can do what I shall do to honor you. I shall give you what eye has not seen, what ear has not heard, and what has not entered into the heart of man (1 Cor.2:9). I, Myself, shall come to look upon the church and I shall dwell within it.’”

“She also gave us relics of the holy martyrs Menignus, Polyeuctus, Leontius, Acacius, Arethas, James, and Theodore, saying, ‘Place these within the foundation.’ We took more than enough gold, and She said, ‘Come out and see the resplendant church.’ We went out and saw a church in the air. Coming inside again, we bowed down and said, ‘Lady Queen, what will be the name of the church?’”

“She answered, ‘I wish to call it by My own name.’ We did not dare to ask what Her name was, but She said again, ‘It will be the church of the Mother of God.’ After giving us this icon, She said, ‘This will be placed within.’ We bowed down to Her and went to our own homes, taking with us the icon we received from the hands of the Queen.”

Having heard this account, all glorified God, and St Anthony said, “My children, we never left this place. Those handsome youths summoning you were holy angels, and the Queen in Blachernae was the Most Holy Theotokos. As for those who appeared to be us, and the gold they gave you, the Lord only knows how He deigned to do this with His servants. Blessed be your arrival! You are in good company: the venerable icon of the Lady.” For three days St Anthony prayed that the Lord would show him the place for the church.

After the first night there was a dew throughout all the land, but it was dry on the holy spot. On the second morning throughout all the land it was dry, but on the holy spot it was wet with dew. On the third morning, they prayed and blessed the place, and measured the width and length of the church with a golden sash. (This sash had been brought long ago by the Varangian Shimon, who had a vision about the building of a church.) A bolt of lightning, falling from heaven by the prayer of St Anthony, indicated that this spot was pleasing to God. So the foundation of the church was laid.

The icon of the Mother of God was glorified by numerous miracles. Two friends, John and Sergius, sealed their friendship before it. After many years John fell mortally ill. He gave part of his wealth to the the Caves monastery, and he gave Sergius the portion for his five-year-old son for safekeeping. He also entrusted his son Zachariah to his guardianship. When Zachariah turned fifteen, he asked for his inheritance, but Sergius persisted in saying that John had distributed everything to the poor. He even went into the Dormition church and swore before the wonderworking icon that he had taken nothing.

When he attempted to kiss the icon, he was not able to come near it. He went to the doors and suddenly shouted, “Sts Anthony and Theodosius! Let me not be struck down for my dishonesty. Entreat the Most Holy Theotokos to drive away the multitude of demons which torment me. Let the gold and silver be taken away. It is sealed up in my granary.” Zachariah gave away all his inheritance to the Caves monastery, where he also himself was tonsured a monk. From that time, no one would take oaths before the wonderworking icon (March 24).

More than once the icon defended the land from enemy invasion. In 1677, when the Turks laid siege to Chigirin and danger threatened Kiev, they carried the icon around the city for almost the entire day of August 27. The Mother of God blessed Russian armies going to the Battle of Poltava (1709). In 1812 they carried the icon around Kiev again. The icon is commemorated twice during the year: May 3 and August 15 .


St Mamai the Catholicos of Georgia

Saint Mamai served as chief shepherd of the Georgian faithful from 731 to 744.

The information we have about his life is scarce, but it is known that St.Mamai was abbot of Zedazeni Monastery and died a martyr for Christ.

Outstanding in his achievements and endowed with profound spiritual wisdom, St. Mamai was enthroned as Catholicos of Georgia at a time when the catholicos and the Georgian king were frequently the first victims of invading armies.


St Michael of Ulompo, Georgia

The biographies of Sts. Michael and Arsenius the Georgians have unfortunately not been preserved.

It is known that they were contemporaries of Patriarch Sergius of Jerusalem (843-859). The following entry is recorded in the synodicon of Jerusalem’s Holy Cross Monastery: “Our Holy Fathers Michael and Arsenius, founders of Olympus.” The record indicates that Sts. Arsenius and Michael established Georgian monasticism on Mt. Olympus. (located in Bythinia of Asia Minor, southeast of Prousa, was an important monastic center from the 5th to the 14th centuries. The monasteries of Olympus came to include the monastic communities on the plain of Prousa. The number of monasteries in the region is numbered at around fifty, their apogee occurring between the 8th and 10th centuries, when Olympus occupied the first place in the list of holy mountains. Monasteries in the region included Atroa, Chenolakkos, Medikion, and Pelekete.)

According to Paul Ingorokva, a scholar of the Georgian Middle Ages, Arsenius was probably a disciple of St. Grigol of Khandzta. Ingorokva calls Arsenius “a handsome gentleman, a kind monk full of wisdom, the son of a great nobleman, and a relative of St. Ephraim, bishop of Atsquri.”

It is believed that at some point Arsenius moved from Khandzta Monastery to Palestine and labored there with a certain Macarius of Leteti. Afterward, St. Arsenius founded a Georgian monastery on Mt. Olympus in Asia Minor. Twenty years later, Venerable Ilarion the Georgian arrived on Mt. Olympus and found three Georgian monks who were almost certainly disciples of Michael and Arsenius.


St Arsenius of Georgia

The biographies of Sts. Michael and Arsenius the Georgians have unfortunately not been preserved.

It is known that they were contemporaries of Patriarch Sergius of Jerusalem (843-859). The following entry is recorded in the synodicon of Jerusalem’s Holy Cross Monastery: “Our Holy Fathers Michael and Arsenius, founders of Olympus.” The record indicates that Sts. Arsenius and Michael established Georgian monasticism on Mt. Olympus. (located in Bythinia of Asia Minor, southeast of Prousa, was an important monastic center from the 5th to the 14th centuries. The monasteries of Olympus came to include the monastic communities on the plain of Prousa. The number of monasteries in the region is numbered at around fifty, their apogee occurring between the 8th and 10th centuries, when Olympus occupied the first place in the list of holy mountains. Monasteries in the region included Atroa, Chenolakkos, Medikion, and Pelekete.)

According to Paul Ingorokva, a scholar of the Georgian Middle Ages, Arsenius was probably a disciple of St. Grigol of Khandzta. Ingorokva calls Arsenius “a handsome gentleman, a kind monk full of wisdom, the son of a great nobleman, and a relative of St. Ephraim, bishop of Atsquri.”

It is believed that at some point Arsenius moved from Khandzta Monastery to Palestine and labored there with a certain Macarius of Leteti. Afterward, St. Arsenius founded a Georgian monastery on Mt. Olympus in Asia Minor. Twenty years later, Venerable Ilarion the Georgian arrived on Mt. Olympus and found three Georgian monks who were almost certainly disciples of Michael and Arsenius.


St Ecumenius of Trikala, the Wonder-worker

No information available at this time.