August 30th (IX - 12)
Icon of St. Alexander, Patriarch of Constantinople
SaintedHierarchs Alexander (+ 340), John (+ 595), and Paul the New (+ 784), Patriarchs of Constantinople. Monk Alexander of Svirsk (+ 1533) and his Disciples, the Monks: Ignatii of Ostrovsk (XVI), Leonid of Ostrovsk (XVI), Kornilii of Ostrovsk (XVI), Dionysii of Ostrovsk (XVI), Athanasii (Afanasii) of Ostrovsk (XVI), Theodore (Feodor) of Ostrovsk (XVI), Ferapont of Ostrovsk (XVI). NobleBorn Prince Alexander Nevsky (Transfer of Relics, 1724). NobleBorn Prince Daniel of Moscow (Uncovering of Relics, 1652). Monks: Christopher the Roman (VI), and Fantinus, WonderWorker at Soluneia (IX). Serbian SaintedHierarchs -- Archbishops: Savva I (+ 1237), Arsenii I (+ 1266), Savva II (+ 1269), Evstaphii (+ c. 1285), Jakov (+ 1292), Nikodim (+ 1325), Daniel (+ 1338); -- Patriarchs: Joannikii (+ 1354), Ephrem II (+ after 1395), Spiridon (+ 1388), Makarii (+ 1574), Gavriel (Gabriel) I (+ 1659), and Gregory the Bishop. Monk Sarmatos (+ 357). Nun Briena at Nisiba (+ 318). Martyrs: Felix, Fortunianus, Septiminus, and Januarius. 6 Martyrs at Meletinea. 16 Thebaid Martyrs. Saint Eulalios the Hierarch.
Saints Alexander, John and Paul, Constantinople Patriarchs, lived at different times, but each of them happened to clash with the activities of heretics who sought to distort the teachings of the Church. Saint Alexander (325-340) was a "chor-bishop" (vicar bishop) during the period of the first patriarch of Constantinople, Sainted Mitrophanes (315-325), and because of the patriarch's extreme age substituted for him at the First OEcumenical Council at Nicea against the Arians (325). Upon his death, Saint Mitrophanes had instructed in his will to elect his vicar to the Constantinople throne. During these times His Holiness Patriarch Alexander had to contend with the Arians and with pagans. Once in a dispute with a pagan philosopher the saint said to him: "In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ I command thee to be quiet!", and the pagan suddenly became voiceless. When he gestured with signs of acknowledgement of his errors and affirmation of the correctness of the Christian teaching, then his speech returned to him and he believed in Christ together with many other pagan-philosophers.
The heretic Arius was punished through the prayer of Saint Alexander. The heretic deceitfully agreed to enter into communion with the Orthodox, and the emperor Saint Constantine set a day for receiving Arius. All night long Saint Alexander prayed, imploring the Lord not to permit the heretic to be received into communion with the Church. In the morning, when Arius triumphantly went to the church, surrounded by imperial counselors and soldiers, he was stricken with illness on the Constantine Square, -- his belly exploded and the innards fell out. His Holiness Patriarch Alexander, having toiled much, died in the year 340 at the age of 98. Sainted Gregory the Theologian (or Nazianzen, Comm. 25 January) made mention about him afterwards in words of praise to the people of Constantinople.
Sainted John the Faster (582-595) is in particular remembered by the Church on 2 September (the account about him is located under this heading).
Sainted Paul, by birth a Cypriot, became Patriarch of Constantinople (780-784) during the reign of the Iconoclast-emperor Leo IV the Khazar (775-780), and was a virtuous and pious but timid man. Viewing the martyrdom, which the Orthodox endured for holy icons, the saint concealed his Orthodoxy and associated with the iconoclasts. After the death of the emperor Leo, he wanted to restore icon-veneration but was not able to accomplish since, since the iconoclasts were still quite powerful. The saint realised, that it was not in his powers to guide the flock, and so he left the patriarchal throne and went secretly to the monastery of Saint Florus, where he took the schema. He repented his silence and association with the iconoclasts and talked of the necessity for convening the Eighth OEcumenical Council to condemn the Iconoclast heresy. Upon his advice, there was chosen to the patriarchal throne Saint Tarasios (784-806), at that time a prominent imperial counselor. The saint died a schema-monk in the year 804.
The Monk Alexander of Svirsk was born on 15 July 1448, on the day of memory of the Prophet Amos, and at Baptism was named in honour of him. Dwelling all his life far off from historical events, the Monk Alexander -- a beacon light of monasticism in the deep forests of the Russian North -- worked a different and spiritual history and was bestown extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit.
His parents, Stefan and Vassa (Vasilisa) were peasants of the nigh-close to Lake Ladoga village of Mandera, at the bank of the River Oyata, a tributary of the River Svira. They had two children, who were already grown and lived away from their parents. But Stefan and Vassa wanted still to have another son. They prayed fervently and heard a voice from above: "Rejoice, good wedded, ye shall bear a son, in whose birth God wilt give comfort to His Church".
Amos grew up a special lad. He was always obedient and gentle, he shunned games, jokes and foul-talk, he wore poor clothes and so weakened himself with fasting, that it caused his mother anxiety. Upon coming of age he once met Valaamsk monks who had come to the Oyata for the purchase of necessities and concerning other economic needs. Valaam at this time had already the reputation as a monastery of deep piety and strict ascetic life. Having spoken with them, the youth became interested by their account about the skete (with two or three together) and about the monastic hermit life. Knowing that his parents wanted to marry him off, the youth at age 19 went secretly to Valaam. Under the guise of being a companion, an Angel of God appeared to him, showing the way to the island.
Amos lived for seven years at the monastery as a novice, leading an austere life. He spent his days at work, and his nights -- in vigilance and prayer. Sometimes bare of chest, all covered by mosquitoes and gnats, he prayed in the forest to the morning song of the birds.
In the year 1474 Amos took monastic vows with the name Alexander. After some several years his parents eventually learned from Karelians arriving in Mandera, whither their son had disappeared. Through the example of their son, even the parents soon went to the monastery and took vows with the names Sergei and Varvara (Barbara). After their death the Monk Alexander, with the blessing of the hegumen of the monastery, settled on a solitary monastery island, where in the crevice of a cliff he built a cell and continued his spiritual exploits.
The fame of his exploits spread far. Then in 1485 the Monk Alexander departed from Valaam and, upon a command from above, chose a place in the forest on the shore of a beautiful lake, which afterwards was named Holy (Svyata). Here the monk built himself an hut and in solitude he dwelt for seven years, eating only that which he gathered in the forest (Afterwards at this place, -- Lake Svyata, 36 versts from the future city of Olonets and 6 versts from the River Svira, the Monk Alexander founded the monastery of the Life-Originating Trinity, and 130 sazhen (i.e. 910 feet) off from it, at Lake Roschina, he built himself a "withdrawing place", -- on the spot where the Alexandro-Svirsk monastery later emerged). During this time the saint experienced fierce sufferings from hunger, frost, sickness and demonic temptations. But the Lord continually sustained the spiritual and bodily strength of the righteous one. Once when suffering with terrible infirmities, the monk not only was not able to get up from the ground, but also even was unable to lift his head, he just lay there and sang psalms. And hereupon there appeared to him a glorious man. Placing his hand on the pained spot, he signed the saint with the sign of the cross and healed him.
In 1493 while hunting for deer, the adjoining land-owner Andrei Zavalishin happened to come upon the hut of the monk. Andrei spoke to him about a light, seen earlier at this place, and he entreated the monk to tell him about his life. From that point Andrei started often to visit with the Monk Alexander, and finally through the monk's guidance, he himself departed for Valaam, where he took vows with the name Adrian, founding later on the Ondrusovsk monastery, and glorifying himself with a saintly life (Comm. 26 August and 17 May, + 1549).
Andrei Zavalishin was not able to keep quiet about the ascetic, in spite of the promise given to him. News about the righteous one began to spread widely, and monks started to gather about him. The monk thereupon withdrew himself from all the brethren and built himself a "withdrawing spot" a distance of 130 sazhen from the common dwelling. The he encountered a multitude of temptations. The demons took on beastly shapes, they hissed like snakes, urging the monk to flee. But the prayer of the saint, as it were a fiery flame, scorched and dispersed the devils.
In 1508, the 23th year of the monk's dwelling at this secluded spot, there appeared to him the Life-Originating Trinity. The monk was praying at night at his "withdrawing spot". Suddenly an intense light shone, and the monk beheld approaching him Three Men, robed in radiant white garb. Hallowed by Heavenly Glory, They did shine in a pure brightness greater than the sun. Each of Them held in Their hand a staff. The monk fell down in terror, and having come to his senses, prostrated himself on the ground. Taking him up by the hand, the Men said: "Trust thou, blessed one, and fear not". The monk received orders to construct a church and to build up a monastery. He again fell to his knees, crying out about his own unworthiness, but the Lord raised him up and ordered him to fulfill the commands. The monk asked, in whose name the church ought to be. The Lord thereupon said: "Beloved, as thou beholdest Those speaking with thee in Three Persons, so also construct thou the church in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity One-in-Essence. I leave thee peace and My peace I give thee". And immediately the Monk Alexander beheld the Lord with out-stretched wings, going as though along the ground, and He became invisible. In the history of the Russian Orthodox Church this Divine Descent is acknowledged as unique. After this vision the monk began to think, where to build the church. Once during a time of prayer to God, he heard a voice from above. Having gazed up to the heights, he saw an Angel of God in mantle and klobuk, such as the Monk Pakhomios had seen. The Angel, standing in the air with out stretched wings and up-raised hands, proclaimed: "One is Holy, One is the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Glory of God the Father, Amen". And then he turned to the monk: Alexander, upon this spot construct the church in the Name of the Lord Who hath appeared to thee in Three Persons, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, the Trinity Undivided". And having thrice made the cross over the place, the Angel became invisible.
In that same year was built a wooden church of the Life-Originating Trinity (in 1526 was built here a stone church). And at the same time as the building of the church, the brethren began to urge the monk to accept the priesthood. For a long time he refused, considering himself unworthy. Then the brethren began to implore Saint Serapion, Archbishop of Novgorod (+ 1516, Comm. 16 March), that he convince the monk to accept the dignity. And so in that very year the monk journeyed to Novgorod and received ordination from the holy archbishop. Soon afterwards the brethren also besought the monk to accept being hegumen.
Having become hegumen, the monk became even more humble than before. His clothes were all in tatters, and he slept on the bare ground. He himself prepared food, kneaded dough and baked bread. One time there was not sufficient firewood and the steward asked the hegumen to dispatch after firewood any of the monks that were idle. "I am idle", -- said the monk, and he began to chop firewood. Another time likewise he began to carry water. And by night when all were asleep, the monk was often grinding away with hand-stones for making more bread. By night the monk made the round of the cells and if he heard anywhere vain conversations, he lightly tapped on the door and departed, but in the morning he admonished the brother, imposing a penance on the culprit.
Towards the end of his life the Monk Alexander decided to build a stone church of the Pokrov (Protection) of the MostHoly Mother of God. One time in the evening, after doing an akathist to the MostHoly Mother of God, the monk settled down to rest in the cell and suddenly said to the cell-attendant Afanasii: "Child, be sober and alert, because in this hour will be a wondrous and astounding visit". There followed a voice, like thunder: "Behold cometh the Lord and His Birth-Giver". The monk hastened to the entrance to the cell, and a great light illumined it, spreading over all the monastery brighter than the rays of the sun. Gazing, the monk beheld over the foundation of the Pokrov church sitting at the altar place, as it were an empress upon a throne, the All-Pure Mother of God. She held the Infant-Christ in Her arms, and a multitude of the angelic rank, shining with an indescribable brightness, stood before Her. The monk fell down, unable to bear the great light. The Mother of God said: "Rise up, thou chosen one of My Son and God. For I have come here to visit thee, My dear one, and to look upon the foundation of My church. And for this, I have made entreaty for thy disciples and monastery, from hence all wilt be abundant; not only during thine life, but also upon thy departure persistently from thy monastery will be a granting of all necessities in abundance. Behold and watch carefully, how many monks are gathered into thy flock, which by thee mustneeds be guided on the way of salvation in the Name of the Holy Trinity". The monk rose up and beheld a multitude of monks. Again said the Mother of God: "My dear one, if someone doth bear one brick for the building of My church, in the Name of Jesus Christ, My Son and God, his treasure perisheth not". And She became invisible.
Before his death the monk displayed wondrous humility. He summoned the brethren and bid them: "Bind my sinful body by the legs and drag it to a swampy thicket and, having enclosed it in skins, submerse it by the legs". The brethren answered: "No, father, it is not possible to do this". Then the monk bid that his body not be kept at the monastery, but at a place of withdrawal, the church of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Having lived 85 years, the monk expired to the Lord on 30 August 1533.
The Monk Alexander of Svirsk was glorified by wondrous miracles during his life and upon his death. In 1545 his disciple and successor, Hegumen Irodion, compiled his life. In 1547 was begun the local celebration of the monk and a service compiled to him. In the year 1641, on 17 April, during the rebuilding of the Transfiguration church, the incorrupt relics of the Monk Alexander of Svirsk were uncovered and the universal Church celebration to him was established on two dates: the day of repose -- 30 August, and the day of glorification (Uncovering of Relics) -- 17 April.
The Monk Alexander of Svirsk instructed and raised up a whole multitude of disciples, as the Mother of God had bequeathed him. These are the Sainted-Monks: Ignatii of Ostrovsk (XVI), Leonid of Ostrovsk (XVI), Kornilii of Ostrovsk (XVI), Dionysii of Ostrovsk (XVI), Athanasii (Afanasii) of Ostrovsk (XVI), Theodore (Feodor) of Ostrovsk (XVI), Ferapont of Ostrovsk (XVI). Besides these saints, there are known disciples and those conversing with the Monk Alexander of Svirsk, which have separate days of memory: the Monk Athansii (Afanasii) of Syandemsk (XVI, Comm. 18 January), the Monk Gennadii of Vasheozersk (+ 8 January 1516, Comm. 9 February), the Monk Makarii of Orodezhsk (+ 1532, Comm. 9 August), the Monk Adrian of Ondrosovsk (+ 26 August 1549, Comm. 17 May), the Monk Nikifor of Vasheozersk (+ 1557, Comm. 9 February), the Monk Gennadii of Kostroma and Liubimograd (+ 1565, Comm. 23 January). All these saints (except the Monk Gennadii of Kostroma) are imaged on the Icon of the Monastic Fathers, illumined in the Karelia land (icon from the church at the Spiritual Seminary in the city of Kuopio, Finland). The festal celebration of the Sobor-Assemblage of the Saints Illumined in the Karelian Land is done by the Finnish Orthodox Church on the Saturday falling between 31 October and 6 November.
The Holy NobleBorn Prince Alexander Nevsky (in monastic-schema Alexei) died on the return journey from the Horde at Gorodtsa on the Volga, on 14 November 1263, and on 23 November (under this day is located the account about him) in 1263 he was buried in the Cathedral Church of the Nativity Monastery in the city of Vladimir (there is set up there now a memorial to the holy prince; yet another memorial is set up in the city of Pereslavl'-Zalessk). Veneration of the nobleborn prince started right at his burial, whereof was a remarkable miracle: the saint himself extended his hand for the absolving prayer. Great Prince Ioann Ioannovich (1353-1359) in his spiritual testament written in the year 1356, left to his son Dimitrii (1363-1389), the future victor of the Battle of Kulikovo, "an icon of Saint Alexander". The undecayed relics of the nobleborn prince were opened, on account of a vision, before the Kulikovo Battle -- in the year 1380, and then were set forth for local feast-celebration. For the prayers of the holy prince, glorified by defense of the Fatherland, Russian commanders resorted to in all the following times. On 30 August 1721 Peter I, after a lengthy and exhausting war with the Swedes, concluded the Nishtad Peace. This day was decided upon to hallow by the transfer of the relics of the NobleBorn Prince Alexander Nevsky from Vladimir to the new northern capital, Peterburg, arranged on the banks of the Neva. Withdrawn from Vladimir on 11 August 1723, the holy relics were greeted at Shlissel'burg on 20 September of that year and remained there until 1724, when on 30 August they were placed in the Trinity Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra (Monastery), where now also they rest. By an edict/ukaz on 2 September 1724 there was established a feastday on 30 August (in 1727 the feast was discontinued by reason of non-church matters, and involved clique-struggles at the imperial court. In 1730 the feast was again re-established).
Archimandrite Gavriel Buzhinsky (later Bishop of Riazan, + 27 April 1731) compiled a special service in remembrance of the Nishtad Peace, combining with it a service to Saint Alexander Nevsky.
The name of the Defender of the borders of Russia and the Patron of Soldiers is famous far from the regions of our Native Land. The testimony to this: the numerous temples dedicated to Saint Alexander Nevsky. The most famous of them: the Patriarchal Cathedral at Sofia, the Cathedral church in Talinin, and a church in Tbilisi. These churches are a pledge of friendship of the Russian National-Liberator with brother nations.
NobleBorn Prince Daniel of Moscow, son of the holy nobleborn prince Alexander Nevsky, died on 4 March 1303. On 30 August 1652 his relics were uncovered incorrupt. The account about him is located under 4 March.
The Monk Christopher, a Roman, lived during the VI Century. He was tonsured into monasticism at the monastery of the Monk Theodosios (Comm. 11 January) in Palestine, Near Jerusalem. The accounts of Abba Theodulos about the Monk Christopher are contained in the book "Spiritual Meadows" ("Leimon" or "Limonar'") by John Moskhos and Sophronios.
One time the Monk Christopher went to Jerusalem, to worship at the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord and at the Life-Creating Cross. At the gateway of the church he beheld a monk not moving from the spot. Two ravens flew before his face. The Monk Christopher discerned that these were demons, which held the monk back from entering the church. He asked the brother: "Why standest thou at the gate and enter not in?". -- The brother answered: "Pardon me, father, but within me struggle two thoughts: one says: go and venerate the Venerable Cross, but the other says: go not in, rather first finish thou thine affairs, and another time come and venerate". Then Saint Christopher took the brother by the hand and led him into the church. The ravens immediately disappeared, and the brother made his veneration. The Monk Christopher recounted this in instructing those who were very little diligent in prayer, and who forgot, that first one ought to fulfill spiritual service, and then afterwards the necessary work.
By day the Monk Christopher fulfilled his monastic obedience, and by night he retired to a cave, where at an earlier time had prayed the Monk Theodosios and other fathers. At each of the 18 steps, leading into the cave, he made about 100 poklons and the greater part of the night he spent in prayer, before the pealing calling to morning song. At this exploit he spent 11 years. One time, descending into the cave, he beheld in it a multitude of lamps. Two radiant youths were lighting them. "Why have ye put the lampadi here, such that I be not able to enter in and pray", -- said the monk. "These are the lampadi of the fathers, serving God", -- answered the youths. "Tell me, -- asked the saint, -- does my lampada burn or not?" They answered: "Work, pray, and we shall light it". Then the saint said to himself: "Oi, Christopher, thou oughtest to assume yet greater a burden, that thy lamp might be lighted!" He went from the monastery to Mount Sinai, taking nothing with him. The monk toiled there for 50 years at great exploits. And finally, he heard a voice saying: "Christopher! Go to thine monastery where thou didst asceticise earlier, so that thou mightest repose there with thine fathers".
The Monk Fantinus the Wonderworker was born in Calabria (Italy) of parents George and Vriena. He was given over to a monastery and from childhood he was accustomed to ascetic deeds. In youth he wandered into the wilderness, remaining often without food for 20 days and lacking garb. In suchlike exploits the monk spent 60 years. Before the end of his life, fleeing before pursuing Saracens, he set off with his disciples Vitalius and Nicephorus to the Peleponnesus (Greece). Preaching the way of salvation, the monk visited Corinth, Athens, Larissa and Soluneia (Thessalonika), where he venerated the relics of the GreatMartyr Demetrios (Comm. 26 October). He died peacefully in extreme old age at the end of the IX - beginning X Century.
The Sobor-Assemblage of Serbian Sainted-Hierarchs celebrates arch-pastors of the Serbian Church of the XIII-XIV Centuries. The majority of them, in addition to this general commemoration, have individual days of celebration: Sainted Archbishop Savva I ?- 12 January; Sainted Archbishop Arsenii I -- 28 October; Sainted Archbishop Savva II -- 8 February; Sainted Archbishop Evstaphii I -- 4 January; Sainted Archbishop Nikodom -- 11 May; Sainted Archbishop Daniel -- 20 December; Sainted Patriarch Joannikii II -- 3 September; Sainted Patriarch Ephrem II -- 15 June.
Sainted Spiridon, Patriarch of Serbia (1382-1388), was much concerned about the monastic communities during difficult years of civil and ecclesial unrest. He was consecrated by Sainted Ephrem II, Patriarch of Serbia (1367-1382; + 1388), who then withdrew to the Archangel'sk monastery of the Dushan church. Saint Spiridon termed Church singing "a spiritual flute" -- and evidently he wrote church-song for the Serbian Church. The saint died at almost the same time as Blessed Prince Lazar (+ 1389, Comm. 15 June), who was killed in the battle with the Turks at Kosovo Pole. After the death of Saint Spiridon the guidance of the Serbian Church was again placed upon Saint Ephrem II.
Sainted Makarii, Patriarch of Serbia (1557-1574), toiled in particular for the spread of education in Serbia. Many a church book was printed in his time. The brother of the saint was vizier under the sultan and assisted in the restoration of monasteries and churches -- despoiled by Mohametan fanaticism, and also with the restoration of the patriarch's monastery.
Sainted Gavriel (Gabriel) I, Patriarch of Serbia (by familial lineage Raicha), occupied the cathedra-seat in the mid-XVII Century, a time when the Moslem fanaticism had become intense. In the urgent need for both cathedral and country the saint set off for collecting alms to Walachia, and from there to Moscow.
And in Moscow in 1655 he was present together with the Patriarch of Antioch at a Church Sobor (Council), which sought to correct various aspects of church books in accord with the Greek and Old Slavonic texts. The saint brought as gift to the Russian Church several manuscripts and three liturgies printed in the South. With generous alms for his Church and country the saint returned to Serbia. His cathedra-seat had been given over to another occupant, and moreover, Austrian Jesuits had slandered him with treason before the vizier. The total innocence of the saint was already evidenced from this, that the vizier made pretense to spare his life and bestow a great official position, if the saint would betray his faith in the Saviour. "I am completely innocent of state crimes, -- said Saint Gavriel, -- this you yourself avow. To save my life by betrayal of Christian faith I shall never agree to, while remaining of sound mind. Keep your riches and honours, for me they are unneeded". After torture Saint Gavriel was hanged in October 1659.
In the general service of the Serblyak (collective services to Serbian saints) on 30 August are also remembered: Sainted Archbishop of Serbia Jakov (+ 3 February 1292), Sainted Bishop Gregory (a descendant of the reknown Neemanicha lineage), and also the saints: Archbishop Savva III (1305-1316), and the Patriarchs Kirill, Nikon, John, Maksim.
© 1998 by translator Fr. S. Janos