December 15th (XII - 28)
Icon of the Holy Martyrs Eleutherius and his mother Anthea
PriestMartyr Eleutherius, his mother Martyress Anthea and Martyr Corivus the Eparch (II). Monk Paul of Latreia (+ 955). Sainted Stephen the Confessor, Archbishop of Surozh (VIII). Monk Tryphon of Pechengsk and Kol'sk (+ 1583). Martyr Eleutherios the Chamberlain (Cubicularius) (IV). Monk Pardus the Hermit (VI). Monk Jona of Pechengsk and Kol'sk (+ 1590). Monk Nektarii of Bitel'sk (XV). Monastic Martyress Susanna the Deaconess (in monasticism Joanna). Martyr Bakkhos (VIII).
The PriestMartyr Eleutherius, his mother the Martyress Anthea and the Martyr Corivus the Eparch: Saint Eleutherius, the son of an illustrious Roman citizen, was raised in Christian piety by his mother. His virtue was such, that already at age 20 he had been elevated to bishop of Illyria. Under the emperor Adrian (II), Saint Eleutherius after torture for his bold preaching about Christ was beheaded at Rome together with his mother Anthea. The eparch Corivus, who had tortured Saint Eleutherius, himself came to believe in Christ and was executed.
The Monk Paul of Latreia was a native of the city of AElen in Pergamum. Early bereft of his father, he was educated at the monastery of Saint Stephen in Phrygia; after the death of his mother, he devoted himself completely to monastic deeds at a monastery on Mount Latra, near Miletos. Wanting to gain yet loftier accomplishment, he secluded himself in a cave. For his ascetic deeds he gained the gifts of perspicacity and wonderworking. The emperor Constantine VII Porphyrigenitos (912-959) often wrote to the monk, asking his prayers and counsel. The Monk Paul twice withdrew to the island of Samos, where he established a laura monastery and restored three monasteries ravaged by the Hagarites (Arabs). Foretelling his end, the monk reposed to God in the year 955.
Sainted Stephen the Confessor, Archbishop of Surozh, was a native of Cappadocia and was educated at Constantinople. Having taken monastic vows, he withdrew into the wilderness, where he passed the time for 30 years in ascetic deeds. Patriarch Germanos, through some particular revelation, ordained him bishop of the city of Surozh (presently the city of Sudak in the Crimea). Under the iconoclast emperor Leo III the Isaurian (716-741), Saint Stephen underwent tortures and imprisonment in Constantinople, from which he emerged after the death of the emperor. Already quite advanced in years, he returned to his flock in Surozh, where he died.
There is preserved an account how, at the beginning of the IX Century during the time of a campaign into the Crimea, and influenced by miracles at the crypt of the saint, the Russian prince Bravlin accepted Baptism.
The Monk Tryphon of Pechengsk and Kol'sk, in the world Mitrophan, was born in the Novgorod governance into the family of a priest. The pious parents raised their son in the fear of God. From his early years Tryphon had resolved to devote his life to apostolic deeds and to go with the preaching of Christ to the pagan Lopar people. He knew of them only threw the accounts of fish-vendors. Once during a time of prayer in the forest he had heard a voice: "Tryphon, an empty and thirsty land awaiteth thee". Forsaking his parental home, the saint went out onto the Kola Peninsula and halted at the banks of the Pechenga River, where dwelt the Lopari. There he began to carry on trade with them. The saint first acquainted himself with the pagan beliefs of the aboriginal people and studied their language, and then began to preach the Christian faith to them. The Lopari greeted the words of the saint with acute mistrust. The holy preacher had occasion to suffer much hardship, to endure hostility and even beatings. But gradually, by his wise and kindly words and mildness many were converted to Christ.
With the blessing of the Novogord Archbishop Makarii, the Monk Tryphon together with Blessed Feodorit (Theodorit) and the priestmonk Ilya built a church for the newly-converted; and for those fervent for monastic life he founded in 1532 the Pechengsk Trinity monastery -- "of the cold sea, on the frontier of Murmansk". Tsar Ivan the Terrible helped him and richly endowed the monastery. The Enlightener of the Lopari died in old age in 1583, having lived at the Pechenga almost 60 years. Local celebration was established soon after the death of the saint. In 1589 the Swedes destroyed the Pechengsk monastery. Later on, by order of tsar Feodor Ioannovich, the monastery was transferred to the Kol'sk Peninsula. On the site of the restored monastery was built a church in the name of the Monk Tryphon, and over the grave of the saint was constructed a church in honour of the Meeting (Sretenie) of the Lord. Saint Tryphon has many a time come to the aid of perishing seamen, who with faith called upon his name.
The Holy Martyr Eleutherios Cubicularius was an illustrious and rich chamberlain ("cubicularius") at the Byzantine court. Amidst all his courtly privileges, Eleutherios was not beguiled by worldly goods and honours; he dwelt constantly in thought about the imperishable and eternal. Having accepted holy Baptism, he began daily to glorify God with psalmody and to bejewel his life with virtuous deeds. But one of his servants through diabolic promptings, informed against his master to the [then still pagan] emperor. The emperor tried to dissuade Eleutherios from his faith in Christ, but after the unsuccessful attempts the emperor gave orders to behead him, and to cast out his body for devouring by dogs and vultures. A certain Christian priest took up the body of the saint and committed it to burial.
A second commemoration of the martyr is under -- 4 August.
The Monk Pardus the Hermit, a Roman, was involved in his youth with the teamster's craft. One time when he set off to Jericho, a boy accidentally fell under the legs of his camels. The camels trampled the boy to death. Shaken by this occurrence, Pardus took monastic vows, and withdrew to Mount Arion. Thinking himself under the condemnation of a murderer, and seeking a punishment of death, the Monk Pardus entered the cave-den of a lion. He poked the wild beast and prodded it with a spear so that the lion would rend him apart, but the creature would not touch the hermit. The Monk Pardus then took off his clothes and lay down upon the path that the lion would take for water. But even here, the lion merely leaped over the hermit. And the elder then perceived, that he had been forgiven by the Lord. Having returned to his mountain, the Monk Pardus dwelt there in fasting and prayer until the end of his days. He died in the VI Century.
The Monk Jona of Pechengsk and Kol'sk was by tradition a priest in the city of Kola. After the death of his daughter and wife he went off to the Pechengsk Trinity monastery, situated in the vicinity of Kola, and became a student of its founder, the Monk Tryphon. After the death of his teacher, he settled in 1583 at the site of what was to become his grave in the neighbouring Uspensk wilderness, and here he was killed by the Swedes in the year 1590.
The Monk Nektarii of Bitel'sk was born in the small town of Bitl' (or Butili) in Bulgaria. In the world he was named Nikolai. Before the occurrence of a Turkish invasion he mother had a vision: the MostHoly Virgin Herself appeared and bid her to flee and go into hiding with her husband and children. Nikolai's father, having taken the boy with him, withdrew to a monastery dedicated to the UnMercenaries, not far from Bitel', where he accepted monasticism with the name Pakhomii. Nikolai, having reach adolescent age, went on to Athos. The perspicacious elder Philothei accepted him and endowed him into the Angelic form with the name Nektarii. The monk suffered for a long time from the envy and spite of one of the novices, but he showed him in return total humility. The monk distinguished himself by his charity: money that he obtained from his handicraft he distributed to the poor. The Monk Nektarii died in the year 1500.
© 1997 by translator Fr. S. Janos.