August 18th (VIII - 31)
Icon of the Martyrs Florus and Laurus
Martyrs Florus and Laurus (II). Martyrs Hermas, Serapion and Polienus. PriestMartyr Emilian the Bishop and with him Ilarion, Dionysius and Hermippus (+ c. 300). Sainted John (+ 674) and George (+ 683), Patriarchs of Constantinople. Monk Makarios, Hegumen of Pelikites (IX). Martyress Juliania. Martyr Leo. Monks Barnabas and Sophronios (+ 412). Monk Christopher (+ c. 668). Monk John of Ryl'sk (+ 946) and Saint Luke. Saint Julitta. 4 Ascetics. 300 Martyrs. 1,000 Martyrs (+ c. 300). Hodegetria Icon of Mother of God of Trapizund (I).
The Martyrs Florus and Laurus were brothers by birth not only in flesh but in spirit. They lived in the II Century at Byzantium, and afterwards they settled in Illyria (now Yugoslavia). By occupation they were stone-masons (their teachers in this craft were the christians Proclus and Maximus, from whom also the brothers learned about life pleasing to God). The governor of Illyria Likaion dispatched the brothers to a nearby district for work on the construction of a pagan temple. The saints toiled at the structure, distributing to the poor the money they earned, while themselves keeping strict fast and praying unceasingly. One time the son of the local pagan-priest Mamertin carelessly approached the structure, and a chip of stone hit him in the eye, severely injuring him. Saints Florus and Laurus assured the upset father, that his son would be healed. They brought the youth to consciousness and told him to have faith in Christ. After this, as the youth confessed Jesus Christ as the True God, the brothers prayed for him, and the eye was healed. In view of such a miracle even the father of the youth believed in Christ. When the construction of the temple was completed, the brothers gathered together the Christians, and having gone through the temple, they smashed the idols and in the eastern part of the temple they set up the holy cross. They spent all night in prayer, illumined with heavenly light. Having learned of this, the head of the district condemned to burning the former pagan-priest Mamertin and his son and 300 Christians. The martyrs Florus and Laurus, having been sent back to the governor Likaion, were thrown down an empty well and covered over with ground. After many years the relics of the holy martyrs were uncovered undecayed, and transferred to Constantinople. In the year 1200 the Novgorod pilgrim Antonii saw them; in about the year 1350, Stefan of Novgorod saw the heads of the martyrs in the Almighty monastery.
The Martyrs Hermas, Serapion and Polienus were Romans, and they suffered for Christ in the II Century. They were thrown into prison, and when under interrogation they firmly confessed their faith in Christ and refused to offer sacrifice to idols, the martyrs were dragged through crowds and impassable places. Struck by stones and other material, they died, taking up their heavenly crowns.
The PriestMartyrs Emilian the Bishop, and with him Ilarion, Dionysius and Hermippus were born and lived in Armenia. After the death of their parents, the PriestMartyrs Emilian, Dionysios and Hermippos (they were brothers), and Ilarion (their teacher) left their native land and arrived in Italy, in the city of Spoleto. Saint Emilian began there to preach the Gospel to the pagans. He won the deep respect of the Christian community for his strict and virtuous life, and he was chosen bishop in the city of Trebium (he received hierarchical ordination from the Pope of Rome Marcellinus). Having moved to Trebium, Saint Emilian converted many pagans to Christ, for which he was brought to trial before the emperor Mamimian (284-305). The saint suggested to the emperor to see for himself the power of prayer to Christ. A man was brought, crippled for a long time. However much the pagan-priests tried to heal him by appealing to the idols, they accomplished nothing. Then Saint Emilian, praying to the Lord, in the Name of Jesus Christ commanded the crippled man to rise up, and that one, getting himself up healthy and rejoicing, went his way home. This miracle was so convincing, that the emperor became inclined to an admission of the truth in Christ, but the pagan-priests suggested to him, that the saint had worked magic. He was subjected to fierce tortures, in which the Lord encouraged him, saying: "Fear not, Emilian, I Myself am with thee". They tied him to a wheel, flung him on hot tin, dunked him in a river, put him in a circus for devouring by wild beasts, but he remained unharmed. In view of all these miracles the people began to shout: "Great is the Christian God! Free His servant!" On this day 1,000 men believed in Christ, and all accepted the crown of martyrdom. In a rage the governor gave orders even to kill the beasts for not tearing apart the saint, who was giving thanks to the Lord, -- so that even the wild beasts accepted death for Christ. They locked up Saint Emilian in prison together with his brothers and teacher, and after fierce tortures the Priestmartyrs Ilarion, Dionysius and Hermippus were beheaded with the sword. They executed Saint Emilian outside the city. When the executioner struck the martyr on the neck with a sword, it became soft like wax, and in no way wounded the saint. Soldiers fell on their knees to him, asking forgiveness and confessing Christ as the True God. Upright on his knees, the saint prayed for them and besought the Lord to grant him a martyr's death. His prayer was heard: another executioner cut off the head of the saint. Seeing a milkiness flowing from his wounds, many of the pagans believed in Christ and with honour they buried the body of the martyr (+ c. 300).
Sainted John V was Patriarch of Constantinople from 669-674, and Sainted George I -- from 678-683. They were both during the reign of the emperor Constantine Pogonatos (668-685).
The Monk Makarios was hegumen of the Pelikites monastery. During the time of the Iconoclast heresy he underwent torture and imprisonment for icon veneration. He died about the year 830.
His memory a second time is 1 April.
The Monk John of Ryl'sk -- a great spiritual ascetic of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and Heavenly Protector of the Bulgarian nation, was born in the year 876 in the village of Skrino in the Sredetsk district (ancient Sredets -- is now Sofia). Early on having been left orphaned, the boy became a cowherd in the avoidance of people. One time the rich man beat him for losing a cow with its calf. The boy cried long and he prayed, that God would help him. When he found the cow with the calf, the water at that time flowed high and strong in the River Struma. The young cowherd prayed, he placed on the water his own tattered shirt, made the sign of the cross over it, took up in his arms the calf and went with it, as though on dry land, -- to the other bank of the river where the cow was situated. The rich man, hidden in the forest, was frightened seeing this miracle and, generously having rewarded the youth, sent him away from his home. Having given away his things, the boy left from his native village. Where and when the saint took monastic vows remains unknown. At the very first he pursued asceticism on an high and barren hill, eating but wild plants. His hut was of brushwood. After a short while robbers fell upon him by night and, having beaten him, drove him off from there. Then he found a deep cave and settled in it. There his nephew Saint Luke also soon settled. The place was quite unpopulated, so that the Monk John at first considered the appearance of Luke a devilish trick, but learning that the youth sought after salvation of soul, he lovingly accepted him. Not for long, however, did they happen to live together: the brother of the Monk John found the ascetics and by force took away his son. Along the way home the youth died from the bite of a snake. Having repented, the brother asked forgiveness of the monk. The wanderer went then frequently to the grave of the righteous youth; his beloved place of rest was there. Twelve years the monk spent in the desolate cave, and then he went into the Ryl'sk wilderness and settled into the hollow of a tree. He fasted and prayed much, incessantly wept, and ate only grass. Seeing such endurance, God had beans grow up, which he ate for a long time. This sort of beans and his exploits made him known to people. One time a flock of sheep from sudden fright ran along the hilly steep paths, and did not stop until the place where the monk lived. The shepherds, following after the flock, with astonishment saw the hermit, who amicably greeted them: "Ye arrive here hungry -- pluck yourself my beans and eat". All ate and were satisfied. One gathered many beans in reserve. Along the way home he offered them to his comrades, but in the pilfered pods there remained no beans. The shepherds turned back penitent, and the starets (elder) stood there, saying with a smile: "See, children, these fruits are appointed by God for subsistence in the wilderness". From that time they began to bring to the monk the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, which he healed by prayer. Fleeing celebrity, the monk went from his beloved tree-hollow and settled on an high and difficult of access rock crag, where he dwelt for 7 years under the open sky. Reports about the great ascetic reached even the Bulgarian king Peter (927-969), who wanted to meet with him; but the Monk John, having written a letter, rejected such meeting through humility. Later on the Monk John accepted under him the nourishing of monks, who built a monastery with a church in the cave, where the Monk John formerly lived. He wisely tended his flock and died on 18 August 946 at 70 years of life. 5 years before his end he wrote by his own hand "A Testament to Disciples", one of the finest creation of Old-Bulgarian literature. The holy life of the ascetic and the remarkable mercies of God through his prayers were very fine a preaching of the Christian faith in the newly-baptised Bulgarian land. In the uneasy time of struggle of Bulgaria with Byzantium, under the west-Bulgarian king Samuel (976-1014), the Monk John appeared to his disciples, commanding them to transfer his relics to Sredets (Sofia), where the Bulgarian Patriarch Damian (927-972) was concealed. It is presumed, that the transfer of relics was in the year 980. Somewhat later the right hand of the Monk John of Ryl'sk was transferred to Russia (presumably to the city of Ryl'sk, at which was constructed a church in the name of the Monk John of Ryl'sk with a chapel dedicated to the martyrs Florus and Laurus, on the day of their memory -- 18 August -- on which he died). The name of the Monk John from deep antiquity was known and loved by the Russian people. Particularly in Russian sources (the Menaion for August in the XII Century, in the Mazurinsk Chronicle) is preserved data about the death of the monk. In the year 1183 the Hungarian king Bela II (1174-1196), during the time of a campaign against the Greeks seized with other booty in Sredets the chest with the relics of the Monk John and took it to the city of Esztergom. In the year 1187, having embellished the reliquary, he sent back the holy relics with great honour. On 19 October 1238 the relics of the Monk John were solemnly transferred to the new capital -- Tirnovo, and put in a church in the name of the saint. On 1 July 1469 the holy relics of the Monk John of Ryl'sk were returned to the Ryl'sk monastery, where they repose to the present day, granting graced help to all the believing.
The Monk Barnabas and his nephew Sophronios were Athenians, saved upon Mount Mela near Trapezund in Asia Minor. They died in the year 412.
The Monk Christopher was born in the locale of Gazara, near Trapezund. He was the head of a monastery on Mount Mela in the second half of the VII Century (641?668).
The Hodegetria Icon of the Mother of God, situated in the Mela monastery near Trapezund was written, by tradition, by the Evangelist Luke.
On this day is the memory of 4 Ascetics in the wilderness whose names are unknown. Also Many Saints (300) burnt in a fire for destroying idols.
© 1997 by translator Fr. S. Janos.