December 16th (XII - 29)
Icon of the Prophet Haggai, Empress Theophania, and the Martyr Marinus
Prophet Aggei (Haggai) (500 B.C.). Martyr Marinus (III). Martyrs Ambrose and Hosia. Sainted Memnon, Archbishop of Ephesus (V). Blessed Empress Theophania (+ c. 893-894). Sainted Nicholas Chrysoberges, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 995). Nun Sophia, in the world Solomonia (+ 1542). Sainted Simeon, Archbishop of Antioch (+ 903).
The Holy Prophet Aggei (Haggai) -- was the 10th of the Twelve Minor Prophets. He was of the Tribe of Levi and he prophesied during the times of the Persian emperor Darius Hystaspis (prior to 500 B.C.). Upon the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity, he persuaded the people to build the Second Jerusalem Temple and he proclaimed, that in this Temple was to "appear the Word Without-Beginning in the finality of times".
The Martyr Marinus suffered in Rome in about the year 283 (other sources suggest the years 217-218). Refusing to offer sacrifice to idols, Saint Marinus was beheaded after cruel tortures.
The Blessed Empress Theophania (Theophano) was the first spouse of the emperor Leo VI the Wise (886-911). She was slandered as having lived together with a man, being with him even after ascending the throne, and she was locked away in prison for three years. Receiving her freedom, she spent her life in prayer and fasting. Her gentleness, charity and heartfelt contrition for sins glorified her name among her contemporaries. Theophania died in either the year 893 or 894.
The Nun Sophia, in the world Solomonia, a great-princess, was the daughter of the boyar-noble Yurii Konstantinovich Saburov. In the year 1505 she was chosen as bride by the heir to the throne, the future great-prince Vasilii Ioannovich. Their marriage was unhappy, because Solomonia remained childless. In order to have an heir, great-prince Vasilii Ioannovich decided to wed a second time (to Elena Glinsky) and on 25 November 1525 he ordered Solomonia to be tonsured a nun. Forcibly monasticised with the name Sophia, Solomonia was sent under guard to the Suzdal' Pokrov-Protection convent, where by ascetic deeds she banished from her heart worldly thoughts, and totally dedicated herself to God. Prince Kurbsky calls the blessed princess "a Nun Martyress". In the manuscripts of the Saints she is termed as "the holy Righteous Princess Sophia the Monastic, for she did dwell at the Pokrov monastery convent, a wonderworker". Under tsar Feodor Ioannovich they esteemed her as a saint. Tsaritsa Irina Feodorovna sent to Suzdal', "to Great-Princess Solomonida, in other regards Sophia, a velvet veil with depiction of the Saviour and other saints". Patriarch Joseph wrote to the Suzdal' archbishop Serapion about the singing over Sophia of panikhidas and moliebens. The Nun Sophia reposed to God in the year 1542. In the descriptions by the Suzdal' sacristan Ananii there occur several instances of miraculous healings at the grave of the Nun Sophia.