February 12th (II - 25)
Icon of St. Meletius of Antioch
Iversk Icon of Mother of God. Sainted Meletios, Archbishop of Antioch (+ 381). Sainted Alexei, Metropolitan of Moscow and of All Russia, Wonderworker (+ 1378). Nun Maria, named Marinos, and her father Eugene (VI). Sainted Anthony, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 895). Monk Vassian of Uglich (+ 1509). Holy Martyrs Satornilus and Plutinus. Martyr Christos (+ 1748). PriestMartyr Urban, Pope of Rome (+ c. 223-230).
The Iversk Icon of the Mother of God (which at present is preserved on Athos) was in the IX Century situated with a certain pious widow, living near Nicea. During the time of the emperor Theophilos (82-842), the Iconoclasts in their attempts to abolish the veneration of holy icons, came to the house of this Christian, and one of the soldiers struck the image of the Mother of God with a spear. Where it was struck, there immediately flowed out blood. The widow, fearing its destruction, promised the imperial soldiers money and implored them not to touch the icon until morning. When the soldiers departed, the woman together with her son (later to be an Athos monk), sent the holy icon away upon the sea to preserve it. The icon, standing upon the water, floated off to Athos. The Athos monks, having for several days seen a fiery pillar rising up to the heavens upon the sea, came down to the shore and found there the holy image, standing upon the waters. After a molieben of thanksgiving for the monastery having been granted the holy image that thus had appeared, a pious monk of the Iveria monastery -- Saint Gabriel the Gruzian (Georgian, Comm. 12 July) -- had a sleep vision in which the Mother of God appeared to him and gave him orders, and so he went to the water and taking up the holy icon he placed it in the church. On the following day, however, the icon was found not within the church, but on the gates of the monastery. This was repeated several times, until the MostHoly Mother of God revealed to Saint Gabriel Her will, saying, that She did not want the icon as something protected by the monks, but rather She intended to be their Protectress. After this, the image was installed atop the monastery gates. And therefore this icon came to be called "Portal--Keeper" or "Gate-Keeper" (An account about this icon is located also under 13 October).
Saint Meletios, Archbishop of Antioch, was at first a bishop of Sebasteia in Armenia (c.357), and afterwards he was summoned by the emperor Constantius to Antioch to help defend against the Arian heresy, and received there the cathedra-seat.
Saint Meletios struggled quite zealously against the Arian error, but through the intrigues of the heretics he was thrice deposed from his cathedra-seat; Constantius had become surrounded by the Arians and had been swayed over to their position. In all this Saint Meletios was distinguished by an extraordinary gentleness, and he constantly led along his flock by the example of his own virtue and kindly disposition, presupposing that upon suchlike a soil sprouts more readily the seeds of the true teaching of the faith.
Saint Meletios was the one who ordained as deacon the future hierarch Saint Basil the Great. And Saint Meletios also baptised and encouraged the growth under him of another of the greatest luminaries of Orthodoxy -- Saint John Chrysostom, who afterwards wrote an eulogy to his former archpastor.After Constantius, the throne was occupied by Julian the Apostate, and the saint again was expelled, having to hide himself away in secret places for his safety. But again returning under the emperor Jovian in the year 363, Saint Meletios wrote his theological tract, "Exposition of the Faith", which facilitated the conversion to Orthodoxy of many of the Arians.
In the year 381, under the emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395), the Second OEcumenical Council was convened. Already in the year 380 the saint had set off on his way to the Second OEcumenical Council at Constantinople, and came to preside over it. Before the start of the Council, Saint Meletios raised up his hand displaying three fingers, and then conjoining together two fingers and bending the one he blessed the people, proclaiming: "We apprehend three hypostatic-persons, and we speak about one self-same nature," -- and with this declaration of the saint there flashed the fire of a lightning-bolt. During the time of the Council Saint Meletios expired to the Lord. Saint Gregory of Nyssa honoured the memory of the deceased with an eulogistic word.
There are preserved discourses of Saint Meletios concerning the One-in-Essence nature of the Son of God with God the Father, and also his letter to the emperor Jovian about the confessing of the Holy Trinity. The relics of Saint Meletios were transferred from Constantinople to Antioch.
Sainted Alexei, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia the Wonderworker, (in the world Elevtherii), was born in the year 1292 (or by another source 1304) at Moscow into the family of the boyar-noble Theodore (Feodor) Byakont, a descendant of the Chernigov princely line.
The Lord early on revealed to the future saint his lofty destiny. At twelve years of age Elevtherii ha set a snare for the netting of birds, and imperceptibly he dozed off and suddenly he heard quite distinctly a voice: "Alexei! Why toilest thou in vain? Thou art to be a netter of people".From this day on the lad tended towards seclusion, he frequently visited church, and at age fifteen he decided to become a monk. In 1320 he entered the Moscow Theophany monastery, where he spent more than twelve years at strict monastic efforts. As guides for him and his companions there were the reknown ascetics of the monastery, the startsi-elders Gerontii and Stefan, brother of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh. Metropolitan Theognist then bade the future saint to leave the monastery and manage the juridical affairs of the Church. The saint fulfilled this office for 12 years as vicar of the metropolitan. Towards the end of 1350 Vladyka Theognist had Alexei ordained as bishop of Vladimir; upon the death of the metropolitan he became his successor in the year 1354. During this period the Russian Church was torn amidst great rifts and quarrels, in part because of the pretensions of the metropolitan of Lithuania and Volynia, Roman. In 1356, in order to put an end to the troubles and disturbances, the saint set off to Constantinople to the OEcumenical Patriarch. Patriarch Kallistos gave Saint Alexei the right to both be called and to consider himself Archbishop of Kiev and Great Russia with the title, "All-Venerable Metropolitan and Exarch". On the return journey during the time of a storm at sea the ship was in danger of shipwreck. Saint Alexei prayed and gave a vow to build a temple to the saint of that day, when the ship should come to shore. The storm subsided, and the ship arrived on 16 August. Moscow delightedly came out to meet the saint.
In spite of problems on every side, Saint Alexei concerned himself everywhere over his flock: he sent forth bishops, he established life-in-common monasteries (on the model of the Trinity Lavra, founded by the Monk Sergei), and he brought order to relations with the khans of the Horde. The saint himself occasioned more than once to journey to the Golden Horde. In 1357 the khan demanded of the greatprince, that the saint should come to him and heal the blindness of Taidul, his spouse. "The request and the matter is beyond my powers, -- said Saint Alexei, -- but I do believe in Him That gaveth the blind man to see, and that He shalt not disdain my prayers of faith". And actually, through his prayer, and being sprinkled with holy water, the wife of the khan was healed.
When Greatprince Ioann died, his young son Dimitrii (the future Donskoy), still in age a minor, was taken under the saint's guardianship. The holy vladyka had much toil in reconciling and appeasing princes obstinate against accepting the authority of Moscow. Nor did the metropolitan neglect the work of organising new monasteries. In 1361 he founded the Saviour Image Not-Wrought-by-Hand monastery at the Yauza in Moscow (the disciple of the Monk Sergei -- Andronikov by name -- was the first hegumen of the monastery), from the vow he had given back on his return journey from Constantinople, when the ship had suffered woe. There was also the Chudov monastery -- in the Moscow Kremlin; likewise, ancient monasteries were restored: the Annunciation monastery at Nizhni-Novgorod, and the Konstantino-Eleninsk [Constantine and Helen] at Vladimir. And in 1361 there was built a women's life-in-common monastery after his name (the Alekseev).
Saint Alexei reached the advanced age of 78, having spent 24 years upon the metropolitan cathedra-seat. He reposed on 12 February 1378 and was buried in accord with his last-wishes at the Chudov monastery. His relics were uncovered in a miraculous manner 50 years later, after which there began the veneration of the memory of the great Sainted-Hierarch and Man of Prayer for the Russian Land.
The Nun Maria (Marinos)and her father the Monk Eugene (Eugenios) lived at the beginning of the VI Century in Bithynia (northwest district of Asia Minor). Bereaved of his wife, Eugene decided to withdraw to a monastery, but his daughter did not want to be separated from him, and so she accompanied him, dressed as a man. Together they entered a monastery not far from Alexandria, and the daughter received the name Marinos.
"Brother" Marinos became much accomplished in virtue, and distinguished in humility and obedience. After several years, when the father of Saint Marinos died, she all the more intensified her ascetic efforts and received from the Lord the gift to heal those afflicted by unclean spirits.
One time the "Monk" Marinos was sent with other monks to the monastery gardens, and along the way they had to spend the night at an inn. The inn-keeper's daughter, having sinned with one of the lodgers, denounced the "Monk" Marinos and accused "him" as the culprit of her downfall. Her father complained to the hegumen of the monastery, who expelled the "sinful brother". The nun said not a word in her defense and began to live at the monastery wall. When the hapless girl gave birth to a boy, the inn-keeper brought it to Marinos, and without a word he abandoned his grandson and withdrew. The saint took the infant and began to raise it.
After the passing of three years the brethren besought the hegumen to take back the "Monk Marinos" into the monastery. The hegumen, who very reluctantly gave in to the requests, began to assign "brother Marinos" very burdensome obediences, which the nun fulfilled with the greatest of zeal, while attending to the raising of her foster-child.
Three years later the saint peacefully expired to the Lord in her cell. The brethren arriving saw the deceased "monk" and the boy crying over "him". When they began to dress the saint for burial, her secret was revealed. The hegumen of the monastery tearfully besought forgiveness of the departed, and the inn-keeper too followed his example. The body of Saint Maria was reverently buried in the monastery. The daughter of the inn-keeper came to the grave of the saint and openly confessed her sin, in connection with which she was healed from a demonic illness. The boy whom the saint was raising afterwards became a monk.
The relics of the saint were transferred to Constantinople, and from there in 1113 were carried off to Venice.
Sainted Anthony, Patriarch of Constantinople, was a native of Asia, but all his years from youth to his end were spent at Constantinople. He was born in about the year 829 of rich and pious parents. After the death of his mother, at age 12 he entered a monastery, where in copying the example of the hegumen, he spent his nights at prayer and led a strict monastic life. With the passage of time, and against his wish, he was ordained to the dignity of presbyter, and then on the bidding of the Patriarch he was made an hegumen. Serving in this dignity, he tonsured into monasticism his own father. Saint Anthony was distinguished by his mercy, by his love and concern for the destitute, and he distributed to them generous help.
Elevated to the Patriarchal throne at Constantinople in 893, Saint Anthony all the more intensified his care for the destitute and especial for the spiritual condition of the poor. With an assist on the part of the emperor Leo the Wise, Patriarch Anthony did much good for the Church. He concerned himself over the encouraging of piety in the people, and despite having become stooped over with the infirmities of age, he went around all the churches of his patriarchate, fulfilling the command of the Saviour -- to be the servant to all the brethren.
In the year 895, advanced in age, Saint Anthony peacefully expired to the Lord.
The Monk Vassian of Uglich was a disciple of the Monk Paisii of Uglich (+ 6 June 1504, Vide account about him under 6 June). He was born in the village of Rozhalov, situated in the Kesovsk district of the city of Bezhetsk Verkha. He was descended from the Shestikhin line of princes (their ancestor was the prince Saint Theodore (Feodor) of Smolensk, + 1299; the account about him is under 19 September).The Monk Vassian came to the Pokrov monastery when he was 33 years of age, and was soon tonsured by the Monk Paisii. He made his obediences without complaint and lived in great abstinence. In 1482 the Monk Vassian discovered the Pokrov Icon of the MostHoly Mother of God. Having spent 20 years at the monastery of the Monk Paisii, the Monk Vassian then asked blessing for the life of silence. His teacher gave him blessing, saying: "Go my child, guided by Christ with the blest yoke of the Lord as it pleaseth the Lord. Soon thou thyself shalt form thine own monastery and gather a monastic flock to the glory of the Name of the MostHoly Trinity".
In 1492 the Monk Vassian left the monastery and, having spent a certain while at the Nikolo-Uleimsk monastery, he went on to a remote place 30 versts to the south of Uglich and began to asceticise as an hermit. But soon people learned of his solitary habitation and began to come for advice and guidance. On a gift of land the monk established in 1492 a wooden church in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity, and soon there gathered those wishing monastic tonsure. The Monk Vassian did not cease his relationship with his teacher until the latter's end, at which he was present together with other disciples. Having dwelt for 17 years at the Trinity monastery, the Monk Vassian died on 12 February 1509. Three years later a certain fellow named Gerasim received at his grave healing from unclean spirits, and another fellow named Valerian -- healing from palsy. In 1548 the Monk Vassian was glorified at the uncovering of his incorrupt relics, over which was built a stone crypt. The memory of the Monk Vassian is made twice yearly: on the day of his repose, 12 February, and on 6 June in conjunction with his spiritual teacher the Monk Paisii of Uglich.
© 2000 by translator Fr. S. Janos