Lives of all saints commemorated on July 13


Fathers of the First Six Councils

The Commemoration of the Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils.

In the Ninth Article of the Nicea-Constantinople Symbol of Faith proclaimed by the holy Fathers of the First and Second Ecumenical Councils, we confess our faith in “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” By virtue of the catholic nature of the Church, an Ecumenical Council is the Church’s supreme authority, and possesses the competence to resolve major questions of church life. An Ecumenical Council is comprised of archpastors and pastors of the Church, and representatives of all the local Churches, from every land of the “oikumene” (i.e. from all the whole inhabited world).

The Orthodox Church acknowledges Seven Holy Ecumenical Councils:

The First Ecumenical Council (Nicea I) (May 29, and also on seventh Sunday after Pascha) was convened in the year 325 against the heresy of Arius, in the city of Nicea in Bithynia under StConstantine the Great, Equal of the Apostles.

The Second Ecumenical Council (Constantinople I) (May 22) was convened in the year 381 against the heresy of Macedonias, by the emperor Theodosius the Great.

The Third Ecumenical Council (Ephesus) (September 9) was convened in the year 431 against the heresy of Nestorius, in the city of Ephesus by the emperor Theodosius the Younger.

The Fourth Ecumenical Council (Chalcedon) (July 16) was convened in the year 451, against the Monophysite heresy, in the city of Chalcedon under the emperor Marcian.

The Fifth Ecumenical Council (Constnatinople II) (July 25) “Concerning the Three Chapters,” was convened in the year 553, under the emperor Justinian the Great.

The Sixth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople III) (January 23) met during the years 680-681, to fight the Monothelite heresy, under the emperor Constantine Pogonatos.

The fact that the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Nicea II) is not commemorated today testifies to the antiquity of today’s celebration. The Seventh Council, commemorated on the Sunday nearest to October 11, was convened at Nicea in the year 787 against the Iconoclast heresy, under the emperor Constantine and his mother Irene.

The Church venerates the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils because Christ has established them as “lights upon the earth,” guiding us to the true Faith. “Adorned with the robe of truth,” the doctrine of the Fathers, based upon the preaching of the Apostles, has established one faith for the Church. The Ecumenical Councils, are the highest authority in the Church. Such Councils, guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and accepted by the Church, are infallible.

The Orthodox Church’s conciliar definitions of dogma have the highest authority, and such definitions always begin with the Apostolic formula: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us...” (Acts 15: 28).

The Ecumenical Councils were always convened for a specific reason: to combat false opinions and heresies, and to clarify the Orthodox Church’s teaching. But the Holy Spirit has thus seen fit, that the dogmas, the truths of faith, immutable in their content and scope, constantly and consequently are revealed by the conciliar mind of the Church, and are given precision by the holy Fathers within theological concepts and terms in exactly such measure as is needed by the Church itself for its economy of salvation. The Church, in expounding its dogmas, is dealing with the concerns of a given historical moment, “not revealing everything in haste and thoughtlessly, nor indeed, ultimately hiding something” (St Gregory the Theologian).

A brief summary of the dogmatic theology of the First Six Ecumenical Councils is formulated and contained in the First Canon of the Council of Trullo (also known as Quinisext), held in the year 692. The 318 Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council are spoken of in this Canon I of Trullo as having: “with unanimity of faith revealed and declared to us the consubstantiality of the three Persons of the Divine nature and, ... instructing the faithful to adore the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with one worship, they cast down and dispelled the false teaching about different degrees of Divinity.”

The 150 Holy Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council left their mark on the theology of the Church concerning the Holy Spirit, “repudiating the teaching of Macedonius, as one who wished to divide the inseparable Unity, so that there might be no perfect mystery of our hope.”

The 200 God-bearing Fathers of the Third Ecumenical Council expounded the teaching that “Christ, the Incarnate Son of God is One.” They also confessed that “she who bore Him without seed was the spotless Ever-Virgin, glorifying her as truly the Mother of God.

The 630 Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council decreed that “the One Christ, the Son of God... must be glorified in two natures.”

The 165 God-bearing Holy Fathers of the Fifth Ecumenical Council “in synod anathematized and repudiated Theodore of Mopsuestia (the teacher of Nestorius), and Origen, and Didymus, and Evagrius, renovators of the Hellenic teaching about the transmigration of souls and the transmutation of bodies and the impieties they raised against the resurrection of the dead.”

The 170 Holy Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council “taught that we ought to confess two natural volitions, or two wills [trans. note: one divine, and the other human], and two natural operations (energies) in Him Who was incarnate for our salvation, Jesus Christ, our true God.”

In decisive moments of Church history, the holy Ecumenical Councils promulgated their dogmatic definitions, as trustworthy delimitations in the spiritual battle for the purity of Orthodoxy, which will last until such time, as “all shall come into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph. 4: 13). In the struggle with new heresies, the Church does not abandon its former dogmatic concepts nor replace them with some sort of new formulations. The dogmatic formulae of the Holy Ecumenical Councils need never be superseded, they remain always contemporary to the living Tradition of the Church. Therefore the Church proclaims:

“The faith of all in the Church of God hath been glorified by men, which were luminaries in the world, cleaving to the Word of Life, so that it be observed firmly, and that it dwell unshakably until the end of the ages, conjointly with their God-bestown writings and dogmas. We reject and we anathematize all whom they have rejected and anathematized, as being enemies of Truth. And if anyone does not cleave to nor admit the aforementioned pious dogmas, and does not teach or preach accordingly, let him be anathema” (Canon I of the Council of Trullo).

In addition to their dogmatic definitions, the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils exerted great efforts towards the strengthening of church discipline. Local Councils promulgated their disciplinary canons according to the circumstances of the time and place, frequently differing among themselves in various particulars.

The universal unity of the Orthodox Church required unity also in canonical practice, i.e. a conciliar deliberation and affirmation of the most important canonical norms by the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils. Thus, according to conciliar judgment, the Church has accepted: 20 Canons from the First, 7 Canons from the Second, 8 Canons from the Third, and 30 Canons from the Fourth Ecumenical Synods. The Fifth and the Sixth Councils concerned themselves only with resolving dogmatic questions, and did not leave behind any disciplinary canons.

The need to establish in codified form the customary practices during the years 451-680, and ultimately to compile a canonical codex for the Orthodox Church, occasioned the convening of a special Council, which was wholly devoted to the general application of churchly rules. This was convened in the year 692. The Council “in the Imperial Palace” or “Under the Arches” (in Greek “en trullo”), came to be called the Council in Trullo. It is also called the “Quinisext” [meaning the “fifth and sixth”], because it is considered to have completed the activities of the Fifth and Sixth Councils, or rather that it was simply a direct continuation of the Sixth Ecumenical Council itself, separated by just a few years.

The Council in Trullo, with its 102 Canons (more than of all the Ecumenical Synods combined), had a tremendous significance in the history of the canonical theology of the Orthodox Church. It might be said that the Fathers of this Council produced a complete compilation of the basic codex from the relevant sources for the Orthodox Church’s canons. Listing through in chronological order, and having been accepted by the Church the Canons of the Holy Apostles, and the Canons of the Holy Ecumenical and the Local Councils and of the holy Fathers, the Trullo Council declared: “Let no one be permitted to alter or to annul the aforementioned canons, nor in place of these put forth, or to accept others, made of spurious inscription” (2nd Canon of the Council in Trullo).

Church canons, sanctified by the authority of the first Six Ecumenical Councils (including the rules of the Seventh Ecumenical Council in 787, and the Constantinople Councils of 861 and 879, which were added later under the holy Patriarch Photius), form the basis of THE RUDDER, or KORMCHAYA KNIGA (a canon law codex known as “Syntagma” or “Nomokanon” in 14 titles). In its repository of grace is expressed a canonical norm, a connection to every era, and a guide for all the local Orthodox Churches in churchly practice.

New historical conditions can lead to the change of some particular external aspect of the life of the Church. This makes creative canonical activity necessary in the conciliar reasoning of the Church, in order to reconcile the external norms of churchly life with historical circumstances. The details of canonical regulation are not fully developed for the various eras of churchly organization at all once. With every push to either forsake the literal meaning of a canon, or to fulfill and develop it, the Church again and again turns for reasoning and guidance to the eternal legacy of the Holy Ecumenical Councils, to the inexhaustable treasury of dogmatic and canonical truths.


Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel

The Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel is celebrated on the day after the Annunciation, and a second time on July 13. It was instituted in the ninth century, perhaps to celebrate the dedication of a church at Constantinople. Originally, the Feast was observed on October 16 (Juan Mateos, LE TYPIKON DE LA GRANDE EGLISE).

An account of the Holy Archangel Gabriel is found under March 26 and November 8.


Venerable Stephen of St Sava Monastery

Saint Stephen of St Sava’s Monastery, the nephew of St John of Damascus (December 4), was born in the year 725. When he was ten years old he entered the Lavra of St Sava the Sanctified (December 5) and was tonsured as a monk. He spent his whole life at this monastery, sometimes going out into the desert to live in solitude and devote himself to spiritual struggles.

St Stephen’s holy life was so pleasing to God that he was given the gifts of

wonderworking and clairvoyance. He also healed the sick, cast out devils, and was able to discern the thoughts of those who came to him for counsel. He fell asleep in the Lord in the year 794, foretelling in advance the day of his death. The Life of St Stephen was compiled by his disciple Leontius.

Today’s saint should not be confused with the other St Stephen of St Sava’s Monastery who is commemorated on October 28.


St Julian the Bishop of Cenomanis (Le Mans) in Gaul

Saint Julian, Bishop of Cenomanis, was elevated to bishop by the Apostle Peter. Some believe that he is the same person as Simon the Leper (Mark 14:3), receiving the name Julian in Baptism.

The Apostle Peter sent St Julian to preach the Gospel in Gaul. He arrived in Cenomanis (the region of the River Po in the north of present day Italy) and settled into a small hut out beyond a city (probably Cremona), and he began to preach among the pagans. The idol-worshippers at first listened to him with distrust, but the preaching of the saint was accompanied by great wonders. By prayer St Julian healed many of the sick. Gradually, a great multitude of people began to flock to him, asking for help. In healing bodily infirmities, St Julian healed also the souls, enlightening those coming to him by the light of faith in Christ.

In order to quench the thirst of his numerous visitors, St Julian, having prayed to the Lord, struck his staff on the ground, and from that dry place there came forth a spring of water. This wonder converted many pagans to Christianity. One time the holy bishop wanted to see the local prince. At the gate of the prince’s dwelling there sat a blind man whom St Julian pitied, and having prayed, gave him his sight. The prince came out towards the holy bishop, and having only just learned that he had worked this miracle, he fell down at the feet of the bishop, requesting Baptism. Having catechized the prince and his family, St Julian imposed on them a three-day fast, and then he baptized them.

On the example of the prince, the majority of his subjects also converted to Christ. The prince donated his own home to the bishop to build a temple in it, and he provided the Church with means. St Julian fervently concerned himself with the spiritual enlightenment of his flock, and he healed the sick as before. Deeply affected by the grief of parents, the holy bishop prayed that God would restore their dead children to life. The holy Bishop Julian remained long on his throne, teaching his flock the way to Heaven. The holy bishop died in extreme old age. To the end of his days he preached about Christ and he completely eradicated idolatry in the land of Cenomanis.


Martyr Serapion

The Holy Martyr Serapion, suffered for Christ before the Emperor Severus (193-211). As a Christian he was brought to judgment before the governor Achilles. The holy martyr firmly proclaimed to the pagans his faith in Christ, and he was subjected to inhuman torments. Afterwards, he was thrown into prison.

Healed by the Lord Jesus Christ, he was brought to the judgment place and he presented himself before the judge completely healthy. The enraged pagans sentenced the saint to be burned alive. In the midst of the flames, he gave up his soul to God (+ ca. 205).


Martyr Marcian of Iconium

The Holy Martyr Marcian, a native of Lyceian Iconium, while still at a youthful age converted many to Christ by his fiery preaching. For his zeal the idol-worshippers subjected the saint to bodily punishment, and then sent him to Cappadocia to the governor Perennias. Now by persuasion, now by threats, he attempted to turn the youth away from the Truth, Christ.

St Marcian fearlessly testified about the truthfulness of the Christian Faith, and he accused Perennias of worshipping inanimate idols. The enraged governor gave orders to subject the saint to severe torments, but in his sufferings the saint remained steadfast in his faithfulness to Christ. They cut off his head while he prayed, giving thanks to God for his fate (+258).


Icon of the Mother of God “It Is Truly Meet”

The “It is Truly Meet” Icon of the Mother of God is in the high place of the altar of the cathedral church of the Karyes monastery on Mount Athos.

One Saturday night an Elder went to Karyes for the all-night Vigil. He left, instructing his disciple to remain behind and read the service in their cell. As it grew dark, the disciple heard a knock on the door. When he opened the door, he saw an unknown monk who called himself Gabriel, and he invited him to come in. They stood before the icon of the Mother of God and read the service together with reverence and compunction.

During the Ninth Ode of the Canon, the disciple began to sing “My soul magnifies the Lord...” with the Irmos of St Cosmas the Hymnographer (October 14), “More honorable than the Cherubim....”

The stranger sang the next verse, “For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden....” Then he chanted something the disciple had never heard before, “It is truly meet to bless Thee, O Theotokos, ever-blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God...” Then he continued with, “More honorable than the Cherubim....”

While the hymn was being sung, the icon of the Theotokos shone with a heavenly light. The disciple was moved by the new version of the familiar hymn, and asked his guest to write the words down for him. When the stranger asked for paper and ink, the disciple said that they did not have any.

The stranger took a roof tile and wrote the words of the hymn on its surface with his finger. The disciple knew then that this was no ordinary monk, but the Archangel Gabriel. The angel said, “Sing in this manner, and all the Orthodox as well.” Then he disappeared, and the icon of the Mother of God continued to radiate light for some time afterward.

The Eleousa Icon of the Mother of God, before which the hymn “It Is Truly Meet” was first sung, was transferred to the katholikon at Karyes. The tile, with the hymn written on it by the Archangel Gabriel, was taken to Constantinople when St Nicholas Chrysoberges (December 16) was Patriarch.

Numerous copies of the “It Is Truly Meet” Icon are revered in Russian churches. At the Galerna Harbor of Peterburg a church with five cupolas was built in honor of the Merciful Mother of God, and into it they put a grace-bearing copy of the “It Is Truly Meet” icon sent from Athos.


St Just, Penwith

No information available at this time.


Virgin Abbess Sarah of Scete in Libya

No information available at this time.