April 24th (V - 7)
Icon of St. Elizabeth the Wonderworker and Martyr Valentine
Martyr Sava Stratilates and with him Seventy Soldiers (+ 272). Martyrs Pasicratus and Valentine (+ 228). Martyrs: Eusebios, Neon, Leontios, Longin, and 40 Others (+ 303); Luke, Tailor of Mytilene (+ 1564); Nicholas of Magnezia (+ 1776). Holy Martyrs at Chalcedon. Saint Innocent and those with him. Saint Chronictius. Monk Thomas Fool-for-Christ (+ c. 546-560). Nun Elizabeth the Wonderworker (VI-VIII). Monk Savva the Wonderworker, of Pechersk in the Nearer Caves (XIII). Monk Alexei, Hermit of Pechersk, in Nearer Caves (XIII). Molchensk Icon of the Mother of God (1405).
The Martyr Sava came from a Gothic tribe. For his bravery he attained the high rank of military-commander or "stratilates", and he served under the Roman emperor Aurelian (270-275).
From the time of his youth Sava was a Christian and he fervently followed the commands of Christ, -- he helped the needy and visited Christians locked up in prison. For his pure and virtuous life the saint received from the Lord the gift of wonderworking and in the Name of Christ he healed the sick and cast out demons.
When the emperor learned that Saint Sava was a Christian, he demanded that he apostacise. The martyr threw down his military sash and declared, that he would not forsake his faith. They beat him, burnt at him with torches, threw him in a cauldron with tar, but the martyr remained unharmed.
Looking on at his torments, 70 Soldiers came to believe in Christ, who then were beheaded by the sword. Saint Sava they threw in prison. At midnight during the time of prayer, Christ appeared to the martyr and shone on him the Light of His Glory. The Saviour bid him not to fear, but rather stand firm. Encouraged, the Martyr Sava underwent new torture in the morning and was drownded in a river (+ 272).
The Monk Thomas the Fool-for-Christ was a monk in one of the monasteries in Caesarea Cappadocia (Asia Minor). He bore obedience in the collecting of alms for the monastery. When the Monk Thomas arrived in the city of Syrian Antioch, he then took upon himself the exploit of folly.
The steward of one of the churches, a certain Anastasias, became annoyed with the implorings of the Monk Thomas, and struck him on the cheek. Those present reproached Anastasias for rudely inappropriate a manner of dealing with the fool, but the Monk Thomas quieted them, saying: "From this moment I shalt accept nothing further from Anastasias, nor wilt Anastasias be able to give me anything further". These words proved prophetic. On the very next day Anastasias died, and the monk likewise died along the roadside to his monastery, at a church of Saint Euthymios in the suburb of Daphna. They buried him at a place set aside for the burial of strangers.
After a certain while they buried another stranger over the grave of the monk. After four hours the ground on the grave of the stranger was thrown aside. They again covered the grave, but in the morning the ground on the grave again lay open. They then reburied the stranger in another place.
But this was repeated when they buried two women nearby. All then realised, that the Monk Thomas did not wish to have a woman buried over him. The occurrence was reported to the Antioch patriarch Domnos (546-560). At his command the relics of the Monk Thomas were transferred to Antioch and placed in a graveyard, where rested the relics of many holy martyrs. Over these relics, from which many healings occurred, they built a small church.
Through the prayers of the Monk Thomas a deadly plague ceased at Antioch. And from that time the inhabitants began annually to honour the memory of the Monk Thomas.
The Nun Elizabeth the Wonderworker was chosen to the service of God while still at birth. It was revealed to her mother, that the girl would be a chosen vessel of the Holy Spirit.
In childhood the parents gave off their daughter to a monastery. She grew up in fasting and works and received the gift to heal infirmities not only of body, but also of soul.
The sisters chose the nun to be hegumeness. The nun wore the attire of a coarse hairshirt. Her body withered, but her spirit blazed with the flame of Divine Love.
The abstinence of the saint was immeasurable: for many years she ate only grass and vegetables without bread, and wine and oil she did not partake of. Many a time the Nun Elizabeth passed the whole of the Forty-Day Great Lent, partaking of nothing at all. Imitating the Publican in humility, for three years she did not lift up her eyes to the heavens, but with her spiritual eyes she looked constantly to God. At the midnight prayers the nun was alight and illuminated by Heavenly Light.
Many miracles were done by the nun: a vicious viper was killed by her prayer, she healed a woman with issue of blood who had been for many a year sick, and she cast out unclean spirits from people. Upon her death the grave of the Nun Elizabeth likewise gave forth healings from illness. Even the very dust, taken from over her relics, gave the blind to see.
The Monk Savva of Pechersk asceticised in the Nearer Caves of the Kievo Pechersk monastery during the XIII Century. In the manuscripts of the Saints, in the "Book about the Saints", and in the Canon of Services to the Kievo-Pechersk Monks, he is called a wonderworker. His memory is celebrated 24 April because of his name-in-common (tezoimenstvo) with the holy Martyr Sava Stratilates. The memory of the Monk Savva is also celebrated together with the Sobor-Assemblage of the Monastic Fathers of the Nearer Caves (28 September), and in the Sobor-Assemblage of all the Kievo-Pechersk Wonderworkers (Second Sunday of Great Lent).
The Monk Alexei, Hermit of Pechersk, asceticised in the Nearer Caves of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery during the XIII Century. His relics were uncovered after the year 1675. The memory of the Monk Alexei is celebrated on 24 April, because his relics rest alongside the relics of the Monk Savva of Pechersk. His memory is likewise with the Sobor-Assemblage of the Monastic Fathers of the Nearer Caves (28 September) and with the Sobor-Assemblage of all the Kievo-Pechersk Wonderworkers (Second Sunday of Great Lent).
The Martyrs Pasicratus and Valentine came from the Myzean city of Dorostolum and were soldiers under the governor Absolanus. Pasicratus was 22 years of age, and Valentine -- age 30.
When a persecution against Christians started, the Martyrs Pasicratus and Valentine openly confessed their faith in Christ. At the trial the Martyr Pasicratus spit at the idol of Apollo, in his refusing to offer sacrifice.
The brother of Saint Pasicratus wept and urged him to offer sacrifice to the idols just for the appearance of doing do. But the martyr placed his hand on the sacrifice in the fire and said: "The body is mortal and burns in the fire, the soul however is immortal and contemns all visible torments". The Martyr Valentine likewise showed his readiness to suffer for Christ.
When they led the martyrs to execution, after them also followed the mother of Saint Pasicratus and she exhorted her son not to fear death for Christ. Both martyrs were beheaded by the sword (+ 288).
The Martyrs Eusebios, Neon, Leontios, Longin and 40 Others were present at the sufferings of the GreatMartyr George (+ 303, Comm. 23 April), through which they came to believe in Christ. They were then locked up in prison. After the execution of the GreatMartyr George, the emperor Diocletian (284-305) issued an edict, that all the prisoners were to offer sacrifice to the idols. The martyrs refused. They beat them with iron rods, almost laying bare their insides, and then their heads were chopped off with the sword (+ 303).
The Molchensk Icon of the Mother of God appeared on 18 September 1405 in the Molcha swampland not far from Putivl'. At first it was situated in the Molchensk Sophroniev wilderness monastery, but in 1605, specifically on 24 April, it was transferred to the Putivl'sk monastery.
© 2000 by translator Fr. S. Janos