St Martyrius, Archbishop of Novgorod

Saint Martyrius, Archbishop of Novgorod, was born in Stara Rus. On the northeast side of the city, near the right bank of the Polista River he founded in the year 1192 the Transfiguration men’s monastery.

At the Novgorod cathedral, St Martyrius was chosen by lot after the death of St Gregory (May 24). On December 10, 1193 in Kiev, he was elevated to the rank of archbishop. St Martyrius became famous as an indefatigable builder of churches. In May 1195 he contracted for a church in the name of the Mother of God at the city gates, on September 13, 1196 he consecrated a church in honor of the Resurrection of Christ in a new women’s monastery at Lake Myachina.

In January 1197 the saint consecrated a church in honor of St Cyril of Alexandria at the men’s monastery of the same name 3 versts from Novgorod. In the year 1197, he contracted in the carpenter’s quarter of Novgorod for a women’s monastery in the name of the holy Great Martyr Euphemia, built by devout young women of the city.

In January 1197 St Martyrius consecrated at the Transfiguration monastery in Stara Rus a temple dedicated to St Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople. In May 1198, he began to build a stone church in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord, and on August 15 of the same year he consecrated it.

In that same year Princess Elena, wife of Prince Yaroslav Vladimirovich, built on the merchants’ side at Molotkova a church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos at the monastery, founded by St Martyrius. The church was built in memory of the following miracle. A certain devout man of Novgorod went to church each day. Once he returned home, and became tired, fell asleep, and dropped a prosphora stamped with the image of the Theotokos. The dogs, smelling bread, ran up to the prosphora but jumped away, driven off by an invisible power.

Great Prince Vsevolod became disaffected with the people of Novgorod. In 1199 St Martyrius went to Vladimir with representatives of the townspeople. Along the way, on the shore of Lake Seliger, he died on August 24, 1199. His body was taken to Novgorod to the Martyriev Portico of the Sophia Cathedral, so named because it was built by St Martyrius. His icon is in the altar of the Novgorod Sophia Cathedral.