December 21st (I - 3)
Icon of the Martyr Juliania and the Martyr Themistokles
The Holy Martyress Juliania, and with her 500 Men and 150 Woman, suffering at Nicomedia (+ 304). Repose of Sainted Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia, Wonderworker (+ 1326). Nobleborn Princess Juliania of Vyazemsk (+ 1406). Repose of Blessed Prokopii, Fool-for-Christ, of Vyatsk (+ 1627). Martyr Themistokles (+ 251). Sainted Theophan, Bishop of Monembaseia.
The Holy Martyress Juliania, daughter of an illustrious pagan named Africanus, was born in the city of Nicomedia. In her adolescent years she was betrothed to a certain Eleusios. Saint Juliania was endowed with a profound intellect and an inclination to goodness of soul, and she saw through the delusion and deception of the pagan faith. She secretly accepted holy Baptism. When the time of the wedding approached, Juliania resolutely refused to be married. Her father began to urge her not to break the long engagement but, not getting his wish, he began to beat her viciously. Then Africanus handed his daughter over to the magistrate of the city, -- which was that very Eleusios, the former fiancee of Juliania. Eleusios heatedly asked Juliania to marry him, promising not to require of her a change of faith. Saint Juliania refused and preferred the torture. They beat the saint both long and harshly, but after each beating she received from God healing and new strength. Her beating was done before a large number of people. Of these, 500 men and 150 women came to confess Christ -- having witnessed the steadfastness and courage of the holy virgin miraculously healed from her wounds. They were beheaded, having been baptised in their own blood. Convinced finally of his own hopeless attempt to tear the holy virgin away from her Heavenly Bridegroom, Eleusios sentenced Juliania to death. She accepted the sentence with joy and glorified the Lord for permitting her to receive a martyr's crown. The execution of the holy Martyress Juliania was done in the year 304.
Sainted Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow, was born in Volhynia of the pious parents Feodor and Evpraksia. Even before the birth of her son, the Lord revealed to Evpraksia the blessed pre-chosenness of her son. At 12 years of age, young Peter entered a monastery. He successfully studied the book sciences of those times and eagerly fulfilled his monastic obediences. The future saint devoted much time to an attentive study of the Holy Scriptures and he learned iconography. The icons, written by the Monk Peter, were distributed to the brethren and to Christians visiting the monastery. Because of his virtuous and ascetic life, the hegumen of the monastery had the Monk Peter ordained to the dignity of priestmonk. After some number of years of ascetic deeds at the monastery, the priestmonk Peter, having gained the blessing of the hegumen, left the monastery in search of a solitary place. At the Rata River he made a cell and began to pursue asceticism in silence. Afterwards at this place of his ascetic exploits was formed a monastery, called the Novodvorsk. A church in the Name of the Saviour was built for the arriving monks. Chosen as hegumen, Saint Peter guided his spiritual children, never becoming angry with a guilty monk, but rather by word and by example he instructed the brethren. The virtuous hegumen and ascetic became known far beyond the bounds of the monastery. The prince of Galich Yuri L'vovich came frequently to the monastery to hear spiritual guidance from the holy ascetic.
One time the Vladimir Metropolitan Maxim visited the monastery, in his travels through the Russian land with words of instruction and edification. Having received the Saint Maxim's blessing, Saint Peter offered him as a gift in return an image written by him of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God -- before which Saint Maxim until the end of his days prayed for the salvation of the Russian land entrusted him by God.
When Metropolitan Maxim died, the Vladimir cathedra-chair remained for a certain time unoccupied. The Greatprince of Vladimir, -- at this time it was Saint Michael of Tver (Comm. 22 November), -- dispatched to the Patriarch of Constantinople his chosen like-minded associate the hegumen Gerontii with a petition that he be elevated to Metropolitan of Russia.
On the suggestion of the Galich prince Yuri, hegumen Peter also set out to the Constantinople Patriarch for consideration to the hierarch cathedra. God chose Saint Peter for the nourishing of the Russian Church. The Mother of God appeared to Gerontii, sailing amidst the Black Sea by night during a storm, and said: "In vain dost thou endeavour, the hierarchical dignity is not allotted thee. That one, who hath written Me [upon icon], the Rata hegumen Peter, shalt be elevated to the throne of the Russian metropolitan". The words of the Mother of God were fulfilled in full: the Patriarch of Constantinople Athanasias (1289-1293) with a council elevated Saint Peter to Russian metropolitan, bestowing upon him the hierarchical vestments, staff and icon, brought by Gerontii. Upon his return to Russia in 1308, Metropolitan Peter after the course of a year arrived at Kiev, and then proceeded on to Vladimir.
The chief hierarch was tested by many trials during his first years of guiding the Russian metropolitanate. In its suffering beneath the Tatar (Mongol) Yoke the Russian land was in turmoil, and Saint Peter was obliged often to change the place of his residence. During this period particularly important were the labours and concerns of the saint to affirm the true faith and morality in the realm. During this time of constant journeying throughout the diocese he incessantly instructed the people and clergy about strict preservation of Christian piety. The quarrelsome princes he summoned to love of peace and unity.
In the year 1312 the saint made a journey to the Horde, where he received from khan Uzbek an edict, guarding the rights of Russian clergy.
In 1325 Metropolitan Peter, at the request of Greatprince Ivan Kalita (1328-1340), transferred the metropolitan cathedra-chair from Vladimir to Moscow. This event had very great significance for all the Russian land. Saint Peter prophetically predicted deliverance from the Tatar Yoke and the future emergence of Moscow as the centre of all Russia.
By his blessing, in August 1326 in the Moscow Kremlin was put down the foundation of the cathedral in honour of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God. This was a profoundly symbolic blessing by the chief-hierarch of the Russian land. On 21 December 1326 Saint Peter expired to God. The holy body of the saint was buried in the Uspensk cathedral in a stone crypt, which he himself had prepared. Many miracles were done through the prayers of the saint. Many healings even were done secretly, which testifies to the deep humility of the saint even after death. The deep veneration of the Chief-hierarch of the Russian Church was affirmed and spread throughout all the Russian land. In 1339, 13 years later under Sainted Theognost (Comm. 14 March), Saint Peter was enumerated to the ranks of the saints. And at the tomb of the saint, princes kissed the cross as a symbol of fidelity to the Greatprince of Moscow. As a particularly venerated protector of Moscow, Saint Peter was called on in witness in the drawing up of government treaties. The Novgorod people, formerly having the right to choose their own bishop of Saint Sophia, after their annexation to Moscow under Ivan III, gave promise with an oath to establish their archbishops only at the grave of Sainted Peter the Wonderworker. And it was at the grave of the saint that Russian chief-hierarchs were named and chosen.
The Russian chronicles make mention about him constantly, and no significant state undertaking was initiated without prayer at the grave of Saint Peter. In 1472 and 1479 was made a transfer of the relics of Saint Peter. In memory of these events feastdays were established for 5 October and 24 August.Nobleborn Juliania, Princess of Vyazemsk and Novotorzh, a daughter of the boyar-noble Maksim Danilov, was glorified by a deep marital prudence. Her spouse, the Vyazemsk prince Simeon Mstislavich, and also the Smolemsk prince Yuri Svyatoslavich, were compelled to flee their native lands, which the Lithuanian prince Vitovt had seized. Then the Moscow prince Vasilii Dimitrovich bestowed the exiled princes the Tver city of Torzhok. Prince Yuri Svyatoslavich became captivated by the beauty of Juliania and tried every which way to persuade her to adultery, but Juliania strictly kept her marital fidelity. One time during a feast, prince Yuri killed the husband of Juliania, in the hope of taking her by force. Saint Juliania resisted the ravisher. The enraged prince Yuri gave orders to cut off her hands and feet, and to throw her body into the Tvertsa River. The martyrdom of Saint Juliania was done in the winter of 1406. From pricks of conscience prince Yuri fled to the Tatars, but even there he did not find peace. He then settled in the Ryazan wilderness (where also he died in 1408). In the spring of 1406 they saw the body of the blessed princess floating in the far current. A certain paralytic heard a voice from above, commanding to bury the body of Saint Juliania at the south gate of the cathedral in Torzhok. A tomb with the body was afterwards built at the Saviour-Transfiguration cathedral, where many received healing from her. In connection with the glorification of Saint Juliania on 2 June 1819 was built a chapel at the right-hand side, dedicated to her name. At the cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Lord, where earlier there was a chapel over the grave of the saint, a church was built and also dedicated to the name of Saint Juliania in 1906.
Blessed Prokopii, Fool-for-Christ, of Vyatsk, was the son of pious peasants. When Prokopii reached age 20, they wanted him to marry, but he secretly went off to the city of Khlyn and took upon himself the feat of foolishness. The fool-for-Christ endured hunger, cold, mocking and insults. The Lord glorified him with the gift of perspicacity. Blessed Prokopii died in his 49th year from birth in the year 1627.
The Holy Martyr Themistokles lived in the city of Lycian Myra during the reign of the persecutor of Christians, Decius (249-251). Themistokles was a shepherd. During the time of persecution he concealed within his home a certain Christian named Dioskorides, while he himself went out to the pursuers. They tortured him cruelly, and he accepted a martyr's crown for Christ in the year 251.
© 1997 by translator Fr. S. Janos.