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August 19th (IX - 1)

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of the Martyr Andrew Stratelates and the Martyr Theophanis of Macedonia

Martyr Andrew (Andreios) Stratelates and 2593 Martyrs together with him (+ c. 284-305). Sainted Pitirim, Bishop of GreatPerm (+ 1456). Martyrs Timothy, Agapios and Thekla (+ c. 304). Monk Theophanes the New, of Athos (XV). Saint Kallistratos. Donskoi Icon of the Mother of God (1591).

The Martyr Andrew (Andreios) Stratelates was a military commander in the Roman armies during the reign of the emperor Maximian (284-305). They loved him in the Roman armies because of his bravery, invincibility and sense of fairness. When a large Persian army invaded the Syrian territories, the governor Antiochus entrusted Saint Andrew with the command of the Roman army, giving him the title of "Stratelates" ("Commander-General"). Saint Andrew chose for himself a not large detachment of brave soldiers and proceeded against the adversary. His soldiers were pagans. Saint Andrew himself had still not accepted Baptism, but he believed in Jesus Christ. Before the conflict he persuaded the soldiers, that the pagan gods -- were demons and unable to render help in battle. He proclaimed to them Jesus Christ, the omnipotent God of Heaven and earth, giving help to all believing in Him. The soldiers went into battle, calling on the help of the Saviour. The not large detachment set to flight the numerous host of the Persians. Saint Andrew returned from the campaign in glory, having gained a total victory. But the jealous reported on him to the governor Antiochus, that he -- was a Christian, converting to his faith the soldiers under his command. Saint Andrew was summoned to trial, and there he declared his faith in Christ. For this they subjected him to torture. He reclined himself upon a bed of white-hot copper, but as soon as he recoursed to help from the Lord, the bed became cool. They crucified his soldiers on trees, but not one of them renounced Christ. Having locked the saints away in prison, Antiochus dispatched the report of charges on to the emperor, being undecided on whether to impose the death sentence upon the acclaimed victor. The emperor knew, how the army loved Saint Andrew, and fearing a mutiny, he gave orders to free the martyrs, and secretly he ordered that each under some pretext be executed separately.

Having been set free, Saint Andrew together with his fellow soldiers went on to the city of Tarsus. There the local bishop Peter and bishop Nonos of Beroeia baptised them. Then the soldiers proceeded on to the vicinity of Taxanata. Antiochus wrote a letter to the governor of the Cilicia region Seleukos, that under the excuse of deserting their military standards he should overtake the company of Saint Andrew and kill them. Seleukos came upon the martyrs in the passes of Mount Tauros, where they were evidently soon to suffer. Saint Andrew, calling the soldiers his brothers and children, urged them not to fear death. He prayed for all who would honour their memory, and besought the Lord to send a curative spring on the place where their blood would be shed. At the time of this prayer the steadfast martyrs were beheaded with swords (+ c. 302). During this time a spring of water issued forth from the ground. Bishops Peter and Nonos, with their clergy secretly following the company of Saint Andrew, buried their bodies. One of the clergy, suffering for a long time from an evil spirit, drank from the spring of water and at once he was healed. Reports about this spread amongst the local people and they started to come to the spring, and through the prayers of Saint Andrew and the 2593 Martyrs suffering with him, they received gracious help from God.

Sainted Pitirim, Bishop of Velikoperm (GreatPerm), was chosen and consecrated to the Perm cathedra-seat after the suffering and death of Sainted Gerasim of Perm (+ post 1441, Comm. 24 January). Before becoming bishop, Saint Pitirim in the dignity of archimandrite was head of the Chudov monastery. He later became known as compiler of the Canon to Sainted Alexei, Metropolitan of Moscow (Comm. 12 February), and he gathered the account of his vita-life. As bishop, Saint Pitirim first of all occupied himself with establishing friendly relations between the Zyryani and Voguli peoples. He circulated admonitory letters and messages, seeking to defend the Zyryani from pillage. The Voguli leader Asyka however, taking advantage of princely dissentions and the remoteness of the bishop from the capital, plundered Christian settlements and killed defenseless people. Novgorod landowners held lands at the Rivers Vyg and Dvina, suffering death with the constant pillaging, and in the year 1445 they marched out against the Voguli and took Asyka captive. The crafty pagan swore friendship in relation to Perm and vowed to harass Christians no longer. Set free, Asyka waited for a convenient moment to attack Ust'-Vym with the aim of killing Saint Pitirim, to whom he attributed his defeat by the Novgorodians. During this time Saint Pitirim was twice in Moscow: in 1447 for the compiling of a circular missive to prince Dimitrii Shemyaka, having broken a treaty oath (they presuppose, that the compiler of the grammota was Saint Pitirim), and again in the year 1448 for the consecration of Saint Jona, Metropolitan of Moscow (Comm. 31 March). Taking advantage of Saint Pitirim's absence, Asyka again made an attack on a Zyryani settlement near the Pechora, robbing and killing the inhabitants. Not only the Zyryani, but also the Voguli living their nomadic life near the Pechora tributary, had become convinced of the truth of the preachings of Saint Pitirim, and they had begun to accept Baptism. Embittered by this, Asyka committed a new crime. On 19 August 1456 he murdered Saint Pitirim, when he was out blessing the waters at the point of land formed by the confluence of the Rivers Vaga and Vychegda. The body of the saint remained for 40 days in a grave at the place of death (since they awaited an answer to the sad news of his death), and in spite of it being an hot period, decay did not touch him. The saint was buried in the Ust'-Vym cathedral church of the Annunciation next to his predecessor Saint Gerasim. The memory of his repose was entered into an ustav already in the year 1522. And in the year 1607 there was established the memory in common (29 January) of the three GreatPerm Sainted-Hierarchs: Gerasim, Pitirim and Jona, having succeeded one another at the Ust'-Vym cathedral.

The Martyrs Timothy, Agapios and Thekla suffered martyrdom in the year 304. The Martyr Timothy was a native of the city of Caesarea Palestine. He studied the Holy Scripture, and having received a special gift of eloquence, he became a teacher of the Christian faith. During the time of persecution against Christians under the co-emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284-305), the martyr was brought to trial by the governor Urban. Saint Timothy fearlessly declared himself a Christian and uttered an account about the love of the Lord Jesus Christ for mankind and about His coming into the world for their salvation. The martyr was subjected to cruel torture, and when they saw that he remained down, they killed him.

And in this same town and year suffered the Martyrs Agapios and Thekla -- they were thrown to wild beasts for devouring and in such suffering they received their heavenly crowns.

The Monk Theophanes the New, a native of the city of Ianina, lived during the XV Century. He accepted monastic tonsure in early youth on Holy Mount Athos at the Dokhiar monastery. He was afterwards chosen hegumen of this monastery because of his lofty virtuousness. In saving his own nephew from the Turks, who by force had taken Constantinople and there established the Moslem religion, Saint Theophanes with the help of God set free the youth, hid him in his own monastery and gave him blessing for monastic tonsure. The brethren, fearing revenge on the part of the Turks, began grumbling against the saint, and he, not wanting to be the cause of discord and dissensions, he humbly withdrew with his nephew from the Dokhiar monastery, quit the Holy Mountain and went off to Beroeia. There, in the skete monastery of Saint John the Forerunner, Saint Theophanes built a church in honour of the MostHoly Mother of God. And as monks began to gather, he gave them a common-life monastic rule. When the monastery flourished, the saint withdrew to a new place at Nausa, where he made a church in honour of the holy Archangels and founded there also a monastery. To the very end of his days Saint Theophanes did not forsake guiding the monks of both monasteries, both regarding him as their father in common. In a revelation foreseeing his own end and giving his flock a final farewell, the saint died in extreme old age at the Beroeia monastery. Even during life the Lord had glorified his humble saint: saving people from destruction, he quelled a tempest by prayer, and converted sea water into drinking water. And the saint even after death never has forsaken people with his graced help.

The Donskoi Icon of the Mother of God was written by Theophan the Greek. On the day of the Kulikovo Battle (8 September 1380, the Feast of the Birth of the MostHoly Mother of God), the Icon was amidst the Russian army, giving it help, but after the victory it was passed on by the Don Cossacks as a gift to their commander, Greatprince Dimitrii Donskoy (1363-1389), who then transferred it to Moscow. The Icon at first came to be at the Kremlin Uspensky Sobor (Dormition Cathedral), and later at the Blagoveschenie-Annuniciation Cathedral (the Icon is now in the Tretyakov State Gallery). In commemoration of the victory on the banks of the River Don it was given the name of the Donskoi Icon.

In the year 1591 the Crimean khan Nuradin and his brother Murat-Girei invaded Russia with a numerous army, and advancing on Moscow, they positioned themselves on the Vorob'ev hills. For the guarding from enemies, around Moscow there was made a church procession with the Donskoi Icon of the MostHoly Mother of God. On the day of battle it was situated in the military chapel amidst the soldiers ranks and set the Tatars to flight. In thanksgiving to the MostHoly Mother of God for Her mercy, manifest through the Donskoi Icon, in 1592 at the very place where it stood amidst the soldiers was founded the Donskoi monastery, into which was put the wonderworking icon and feastday established under 19 August. By established custom, in the small cathedral in honour of the Donskoi Icon of the Mother of God, once every four years His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia performs the rite of the boiling of holy chrism.

© 2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos



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