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February 19th (III - 4 {LeapYear III - 3})

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of St. Philothea of Athens

Disciples from the Seventy: Archippos and Philemon and the Equal-to-the-Apostles Martyress Apthea (I). Martyrs Maximos, Theodotos, Hesychios and Martyress Asclepiodota (+ c. 305-311). Monk Eugene (Eugenios) and Makarios the Confessors, Presbyters of Antioch (+ 363). Monk Dositheos (VII), a disciple of the Monk Abba Dorotheos. Monk Rabula (+ c. 530). Monk Konon, Hegumen of Pentuklos Monastery (+ c. 555). Monastic Martyress Philothea of Athens (+ 1589). PriestMartyr Nikita the New (+ 1809).

The Holy Disciples from the Seventy: Archippos, Philemon and Apthea (2nd Comm. 22 November) were students and companions of the holy Apostle Paul. In the Epistle to Philemon, the Apostle Paul names Saint Archippos as his companion.

The Disciple Archippos was bishop of the city of Colossa in Phrygia. The Disciple Philemon was an eminent citizen of this city, and in his home the Christians gathered to celebrate Divine-services. He was likewise ordained to the dignity of bishop by the Apostle Paul and he went about the cities of Phrygia, preaching the Gospel. Later on, he became archpastor of the city of Gaza. Saint Apthea, his spouse, took into her home the sick and vagrants, zealously attending to them. She was indeed a veritable co-worker to her spouse in proclaiming the Word of God.

During the persecution against Christians under the emperor Nero (54-68), the holy Disciples Archippos and Philemon and Equal-to-the-Apostles Apthea were brought to trial by the city-governor Artocles for confessing faith in Christ. The Disciple Archippos was brutally hacked at with knives. After torture, they buried Saints Philemon and Apthea up to the waist in the ground, and stoned them until the holy martyrs died.

The Holy Martyrs Maximos, Theodotos, Hesychios and the Holy Martyress Asclepiodota suffered for the faith in Christ at Adrianopolis, during the persecution under the emperor Maximian (305-311). The holy martyrs underwent many sufferings. At first they tied them to a tree and tore at them with iron hooks. After this, they led them amidst insults from city to city, and then gave them over for devouring by wild beasts. Kept safe by the grace of God, the holy martyrs remained unharmed, and it was only by the hand of the torturers that they received a martyr's death. As for the holy Martyress Asclepiodota, at first they beat her upon the ground, and then they tied her to a tree and cast stones at her, and finally they beheaded her.

The Monastic Confessors Eugene (Eugenios) and Makarios were presbyters of the Antioch Church. During the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363) they were brought to the emperor for trial for their refusal to participate in pagan orgies. The presbyters boldly denounced him for his apostasy and they were given over to fierce tortures, which they underwent with prayer and spiritual rejoicing. After the tortures they sent them off in chains for exile to Oasim, an oasis in the Arabian desert, and they intended to settle there upon an hill. The local people warned the saints, that they should immediately abandon the place, since an enormous snake lived there. The holy martyrs asked them to point out this place, and through their prayer a lightning-bolt struck into the cave, making ashes of the monster. Saints Eugene and Makarios began to asceticise in this cave. The confessors prayed, that they might die together. The Lord heard their prayer, and they died at the same time in the year 363.

The Monk Dositheos, a disciple of the Monk Abba Dorotheos (Comm. 5 June), lived during the VI-VII Centuries, and was raised in a rich and reknown family. Young Dositheos listened to tales about the holy city of Jerusalem from the servants of his grandfather, a military-commander, and this kindled within him the desire to go there. Soon his wish came true. At Gethsemane, he gazed for a long time at the depiction of the Dread Last Judgement. Suddenly he saw beside him a woman, who explained pointing out to him, what was depicted in the image. The youth asked: "How be it possible to avoid the eternal torments?" To this question followed the reply: "Fast, be not given to the fleshly, pray constantly". After this his strange guide suddenly became invisible. Dositheos started to search about in vain, since She conversing with him had been the MostHoly Mother of God Herself. The appearance of the Mother of God produced on the youth a strong impression, and he decided to enter a monastery headed by Abba Serid, and populated by such great ascetics as the monastic-elder Barsonophios (Comm. 6 February) and John (Comm. 19 June). Dositheos, having made fervent entreaty to be accepted amongst the brethren, was sent off as a student to the monastic-elder Dorotheos. The Monk Dositheos bore obedience in the monastery sick-ward, caring for all the infirm. The Monk Dorotheos trained his student in abstinence and fasting, with the gradual lessening of the quantity of daily bread consumed. He also weaned the youth from vexation and anger, by constantly reminding, that every unkind word said to a sick person, is said simultaneously to Christ Jesus Himself. By revealing his thoughts to the elder and by unhesitating obedience the Monk Dositheos liberated his soul from the proclivities of the passions. Spending five years at the ascetic deed of tending the sick and obedience to his monastic elder, the Monk Dositheos himself fell into serious sickness. Patiently enduring his sufferings, he never complained and he prayed constantly. Not long before his death he asked a message be conveyed to the elder Barsonophios: "Father, grant me pardon, I cannot much longer live". That one sent back to him the reply: "Hold on, my son, for the mercy of God be yet not far off". After several days the Monk Dositheos again had conveyed to the elder the message: "My master, I cannot much longer live". Thereupon the Monk Barsonophios blessed him to expire to God, and he himself asked the dying one to pray for all the brethren, when he should stand before the Holy Trinity. The brethren were astonished that the great Abba Barsonophios would ask prayers of a monk, who had lived at the monastery for only all of five years and without any greatest ascetic accomplishment. But after the death of the monk, a certain experienced ascetic was praying that there might be revealed to him the final resting place of the departed fathers of the monastery, and he saw in a dream vision young Dositheos amidst the assemblage of these saints. The Monk Dositheos was vouchsafed great glory in the Kingdom of Heaven for his perfect obedience to the monastic elder and for his full forbearance from his own will.

The Monk Rabula was born in the Syrian city of Samosata and he received an excellent education. While still young, he accepted monasticism and asceticised in the deserts and on the mountains, after the manner of the holy Prophet Elias (Elijah, Comm. 20 July) and Saint John the Baptist of the Lord (Comm. 7 January, 24 February, 25 May, 24 June, 29 August, 23 September, 12 October). Somewhat later Saint Rabula went over to Phoenicia, where for a long while he asceticised and was glorified by graced spiritual gifts. The emperor Xeno gave the Monk Rabula monetary help for building a monastery, erected with the assist of the Beruit bishop John. In the surroundings of the new monastery lived many a pagan, who gradually were all converted to Christianity through the efforts of the monastery inhabitants. Under Xeno's successor Anastasias (491-518), the Monk Rabula came to Constantinople, and again having received financial means from the emperor, he built still several more monasteries in various places. One of them was named after the holy ascetic. The Monk Rabula spent all his life at work, and always he was gentle and kind and well-disposed towards people, together with which he was also a man of great prayer. He lived to be 80 and before death he heard a voice: "Come unto Me all who labour and art heavily burdened" (Mt. 11: 28). After a short illness the Monk Rabula reposed to God, in about the year 530.

The Monk Konon was born in Cilicia. While still at an early age he accepted monasticism at the Pentuklos monastery, nigh to Jordan, where he was ordained presbyter. The Jerusalem archbishop Peter learned about the strict ascetic and sent him people for Baptism. The Monk Konon baptised those that came and anointed them with holy chrism (myrh), but he shunned baptising women. One time there appeared to him the Baptist of the Lord Saint John the Forerunner, promising to help with prayers in the struggle with temptations.

A girl came from Persia for Baptism. She was so pretty, that the Monk Konon could not anoint her with the holy chrism while uncovered. Over the course of two days the newly-baptised girl remained unanointed by the holy chrism. The Monk Konon wanted to find a pious woman to entrust with the chrism-anointing, but to find any such woman was difficult, since the area was desolate without any nearby settlements. The ascetic decided to quit the monastery, but on the way Saint John the Forerunner again appeared to him and said: "Return thou unto thy monastery, for I shalt help thee be free of temptation". The Monk Konon tried to argue the point, saying that when Saint John the Forerunner had appeared before, he had then already promised him help to be free of temptation. Saint John the Baptist thereupon signed the ascetic with the Sign of the Cross and said, that for the struggle with temptations he would receive a reward. Then he commanded him to return to the monastery and have no doubts. The Monk Konon obediently fulfilled the advice of the Baptist of the Lord, and immediately he anointed with chrism the Persian, without even taking note that she was a girl. After this the ascetic dwelt at the monastery for 20 years, and having achieved perfect dispassion, he peacefully expired to God in about the year 555.

The Monastic Martyress Philothea was born in Athens in 1522. Her parents, Siriga and Angel Benizelos, were reknown not only for being eminent and rich, but also deeply pious. Often the kind-hearted Siriga had turned with prayer imploring the MostHoly Mother of God for a child. Her fervent prayers were heard, and the spouses had born to them a daughter, which they named Rigula. The parents raised their daughter in deep piety and right belief, and with her coming of age they gave her off in marriage. Her husband turned out to be a man impious and crude, who often beat and tormented his wife. Rigula patiently endured the abuse and she prayed to God, that He might bring her husband to his senses. After three years Rigula's husband died, and she in her freedom began to asceticise in fasting, vigil and prayer. The saint founded a women's monastery in the name of the Apostle Andrew the First-Called (Comm. 30 November and 30 June). When the well-constructed monastery was completed, the saint was the first of those there to accept monastic tonsure, with the name Philothea. During this time Greece was suffering under the Turkish Yoke. Many of the Athenians had been turned by their Turkish conquerors into slaves. The Nun Philothea utilised all her means for the freeing of her fellow country-women; she saved many, ransoming them from servitude. One time four women fled to the monastery of Saint Philothea, having run away from their Turkish masters, who demanded that they renounce their Christianity. The Turks, having learned where the Greek women had taken asylum, burst into the cell of the nun, and having given her a beating they led her off to the governor of the city, who threw the holy ascetic into prison. In the morning, when a mob of Turks had already gathered, they led her out of the prison. The governor of the city said that if she did not renounce Christ, she would be hacked apart. Just when the Nun Philothea was ready to accept a martyr's crown, Divine Providence gathered a crowd of Christians, who freed the holy ascetic. Having returned to her monastery, the Nun Philothea continued with her efforts of abstinence, prayer and vigil, for which she was vouchsafed a graced gift of wonderworking. In an Athens suburb, Patisia, she founded a new monastery, where she started to asceticise with the sisters. During the time of the feast of Saint Dionysios the Areopagite (Comm. 3 October), the Turks seized hold of the Nun Philothea and for a long time they tortured her, and finally they threw her half-alive down on the ground. The sisters with tears carried away the holy martyress, flowing with blood, to the locale of Kalogreza, where she died on 19 February 1589. Shortly thereafter the relics of the holy Monastic Martyress Philothea were conveyed into the Athens cathedral church.

© 2000 by translator Fr. S. Janos



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