Lives of all saints commemorated on November 3

Martyrs Akepsimas the Bishop, Joseph the Presbyter, and Aithalas the Deacon, of Persia

Martyrs Akepsimas the Bishop, Joseph the Presbyter and Aethalas the Deacon of Persia were leaders of the Christian Church in the Persian city of Naesson. His flock devotedly loved their hierarch for his ascetic life and tireless pastoral work.

The emperor Sapor ordered his men to seek out and kill Christian clergy. Saint Akepsimas also was arrested, even though he was already an eighty-year-old man. They took him to the city of Arbela, where he came before the judge Ardarkh, a pagan priest of the sun god. The holy Elder refused to offer sacrifice to the Persian gods. For this he was fiercely beaten and thrown into prison, where on the following day the seventy-year-old priest Joseph and the deacon Aethalas were severely beaten and thrown into jail with him. For three years the saints were held in confinement, and suffered from hunger and thirst.

Emperor Sapor came to the temple of the god of fire, located not far from Arbela, and wanted to take a look at the three holy martyrs. Exhausted and covered with festering wounds, the saints were brought before the emperor. When he asked them to worship the pagan gods they firmly refused, confessing their faith in Christ instead.

The holy bishop was beheaded, but the presbyter and deacon were taken into the city to be stoned.

The execution of the presbyter Joseph was prolonged for several hours. A guard was placed near the place of execution, so that Christians would not take the body of the holy martyr. On the fourth night a strong windstorm raged near the city, lightning killed the guard, the wind tossed stones about, and the body of Saint Joseph disappeared.

Deacon Aethalas was taken to the village of Patrias, where he was stoned. Christians secretly buried his body. A tree grew on the saint’s grave, and its fruit brought healings.

Dedication of the Church of the Greatmartyr George in Lydia

Pious Christians built a new church in honor of Saint George at Lydda during the reign of Saint Constantine (305-337). When the church was consecrated, the relics of the holy Great Martyr George (April 23) were transferred there, and many miracles took place before them.

Martyrs Atticus, Agapius, Eudoxius, Carterius, Istucarius (Styrax), Pactobius (Tobias), and Nictopolion, at Sebaste

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Venerable Akepsimas the Hermit of Cyrrhus in Syria

Saint Akepsimas, Hermit of Cyrrhus in Syria lived for sixty years in the desert, not far from Cairo. He devoted himself to fasting, silence and prayer. At the command of the patriarch, he came out of solitude and was consecrated a bishop. He died at a venerable old age.

Saint Snandulia of Persia

Saint Snandulia of Persia is mentioned in the account of the martyrdom of Saints Joseph the priest and Aethalas the deacon. The historian Sozomen also describes their sufferings in his CHURCH HISTORY (Book 2, ch. 13).

Snandulia was a devout Christian of the city of Arbela who visited those who suffered in prison for the sake of Christ. When she learned that Saints Joseph and Aethalas were in the prison, she went with her servants by night and bribed the guards with gold. They allowed her to take the saints to her home until daybreak. They were barely alive and unable to speak. She took them home and put them to bed, tending their wounds, and kissing their shattered hands and feet.

Saint Joseph recovered consciousness and saw Snandulia weeping. He told her that the compassion she had shown for him and for Aethalas was pleasing to God, but he thought that her bitter lamentations were contrary to Christian hope.

She replied, “When one is moved by compassion, it is natural to weep.”

“Nevertheless,” Saint Joseph said, “you should not weep for us, for tortures borne for the sake of Christ are followed by eternal joy.”

The two saints were returned to prison the next morning, as promised. After six months their wounds had healed to some extent. They could stand and walk a little, but Aethalas’s hands hung at his side limp and useless.

Zerothus was appointed as a judge, and he entered the city offering sacrifice to the gods in the various temples. Some of the priests told him about Saints Joseph and Aethalas, who had been tortured on the orders of Prince Ardasabor, the head of all the Magi of Persia. They explained to Zerothus that their execution was being delayed until they recovered from their wounds.

When he heard this, Zerothus ordered that the martyrs be brought before him. He used flattery and then threats in an attempt to persuade them to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. When this proved unsuccessful, the judge had them beaten for a long time.

When they were brought before the judge again, Zerothus tried to get the saints to eat food which had been offered to the idols, but they refused. Then the judge had them beaten again, and ordered other Christians to stone them. Soldiers went to the homes of the Christians to force them to come to the judgment hall. They dug a hole and placed Saint Joseph in it, then put stones in the hands of the Christians and compelled them to stone him.

Saint Snandulia was among these Christians, but she refused to throw stones at the aged priest. Then they gave her a lance and told her to kill Saint Joseph. She said that she would rather drive the lance into her own heart than to wound the saint with it.

Saint Joseph was eventually killed by all the stones that were thrown at him, and the holy deacon Aethalas was also stoned in the same way.

Saint Snandulia stretched forth her arms to needful works and opened her hands to the needy (Proverbs 31:19-20), but she refused to lift her hands to do evil against Saint Joseph.

Venerable Pimen the Bulgarian of the Zographou Monastery on Mt. Athos

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Princess Anna Vsevolodna

The Holy Princess Anna Vsevolodna was daughter of the Kievan Great Prince Vsevolod Yaroslavich (1078-1093) whose wife was daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Monomachos. She did not wish to marry, and as a virgin she took monastic tonsure in 1082 at the Andreiev Yanchinov monastery built for her at Kiev, but later destroyed under the Tatar invasion. The nun and princess Anna journeyed to Constantinople, from which she returned in the company of the newly-consecrated Metropolitan John the Eunuch. She died in the year 1112.

Venerable Nicholas, Radiant Star of the Georgians

Saint Nicholas was the author of many church services, but little else about his life is known. He lived in the second half of the 13th century, and the last years of his life coincided with the reign of King Vakhtang III, the son of the holy king Demetre the Devoted.

Saint Nicholas was one of the greatest hymnographers and spiritual figures of his time, but few of his works have been preserved. Catholicos Anton I writes that Nicholas composed numerous canons and services, including a “Canon of Supplication for Rain.” Saint Nicholas enriched the spiritual literature of Georgia with his translations as well. Scholars and historians believe that, as the greatest liturgist of his time, he was probably asked to translate many prayers and services from Greek to Georgian.

Among them, they believe, was the “Canon for the Blessing of Holy Water.”

The famous 19th-century historian Platon Ioseliani writes that other church services belonging to the pen of Saint Nicholas are included among the manuscripts of the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos.

Saint Nicholas reposed peacefully in the year 1308.