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February 21st (III - 6 {LEAP YEAR III - 5})

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of St. Timothy of Symbola and St. Efstathius of Antioch

Monk Timothy at Symboleia (+ 795). Sainted Eustathios, Archbishop of Antioch (+ 337). Sainted George, Bishop of Amastridea (+ 802-811). Sainted John Scholastikos, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 577). Sainted Zakharios, Patriarch of Jerusalem (+ 633). Holy Soldiers of Rome. Kozel'schansk Icon of the Mother of God (1881).

The Monk Timothy the Wilderness-Dweller, an Italian by descent, from youth asceticised at a monastery, called "Symboleia", in Asia Minor near Mount Olympos. The archimandrite of the monastery was the Monk Theoktistos. Saint Timothy was his disciple and co-student of the Monk Platon, a Studite Confessor (+ 814, Comm. 5 April). Attaining an high degree of spiritual perfection, he received from God the gift of healing the sick and casting out unclean spirits. The monk spent many years as an hermit, roaming the wilderness, the mountains and forests, both day and night offering up prayer to the Lord God. He died in extreme old age, in the year 795.

Sainted Eustathios, Archbishop of Antioch (323-331) was born in Pamphylian Sidon in the second half of the III Century. He was bishop of Beria (Beroea), and enjoyed the love and esteem of the people, and at the request of his flock he was elevated by the fathers of the First OEcumenical Council (325) to the Antioch cathedra-chair.

Sainted Eustathios was profoundly learned as a theologian, and was likewise distinguished by his broad knowledge in the mundane sciences. When in the East there began spreading about the heresy of Arius, which denied the Consubstantiality of the Son of God together with the Father, Saint Eustathios struggled zealously -- in both word of mouth and in writing -- for the purity of the Orthodox faith. The First OEcumenical Council was convened in the year 325 by the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine the Great (306-337). The first to preside over this Council was Saint Eustathios. The Council condemned the heretical teachings of Arius and expounded the Orthodox confession into the Symbol of Faith (i.e. the Nicene Creed). But the mad Arius, as Saint Eustathios called him, who refused to renounce his errors, together with those of like mind with him, were deprived of dignity and excommunicated from the Church by the Council. Though among the bishops, who put their signature to the Nicene Symbol of Faith, were also those sympathising with the heresy of Arius yet signing the Acts of the Council not through conviction, but through fear of excommunication. After the Council, intrigues started against Saint Eustathios. With great cunning they gained his consent for the convening at Antioch of a Local Council. Having bribed a certain profligate woman, they persuaded her to appear at the Council with an infant at her breast, and falsely declare that the father of the infant was Saint Eustathios. Violating the Apostolic Rule concerning this, that accusations against clergy-servers need to be vouched to by two witnesses, the Arians declared Saint Eustathios deposed. Without a trial he was sent off into exile to Thrace. But the lie to the accusation was soon unmasked: having fallen grievously ill after the slandering, the woman repented, summoned the clergy and in the presence of many people she confessed her sin. But in this same time period Saint Constantine the Great had died, and onto the throne entered his son Constantius (337-361), who shared the heretical views of Arius and patronised the Arianising bishops. Even in exile Saint Eustathios struggled with all his same zeal for Orthodoxy. He died in exile, in the city of Philippi or Trajanopolis, in the year 337.

Convened in the year 381 at Constaninople, the Second OEcumenical Council confirmed the Orthodox Symbol of Faith, which Saint Eustathios had so assiduously defended. The Arian false-teaching was once again anthematised as heretical.

In the year 482 the relics of Saint Eustathios were reverently transferred from Philippi to Antioch, to the great joy of the Antioch people, who had not ceased to honour and love their confessor-patriarch.

Saint Eustathios was esteemed by the great hierarchs of the IV Century -- Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Athanasias of Alexandria, Epiphanios of Cyprus, Anastasias of Sinai and Jerome of Stridonia. The reknown church historian Bishop Theodorit of Cyr calls Saint Eustathios a pillar of the Church and a man of piety, of an equal footing with Saint Athanasias of Alexandria and the other bishops at the forefront in the struggle for Orthodoxy.

Sainted George, Bishop of Amastridea, was from the city of Kromna, nearby the city of Amastridea close to the Black Sea. His pious and illustrious parents Theodore and Migethusa gave him a fine education, both spiritual and secular. Saint George withdrew to a mountain in Syria, where he accepted monasticism and began to lead a strict ascetic life under the guidance of an hermit. After the death of the elder, Saint George resettled at a monastery in Bonissa, and there continued with his efforts. After the death of the bishop of the city of Amastridea, Saint George was chosen bishop by the clergy and the people, and he was ordained at Constantinople by Archbishop Tarasios (784-806, Comm. 25 February). Arriving in Amastridea, Saint George incessantly instructed his flock, he concerned himself about the embellishment of churches, was a defender of widows and orphans, fed the poor, and in everything he gave example of a God-pleasing life. By the power of his prayer he repulsed from the city of Amastridea Saracens that were ravaging the surroundings. He likewise delivered from death Amastridean merchants wrongfully condemned in the city of Trapezund. Saint George died peacefully amidst his flock, -- on 3 March -- during the reign of the emperor Nicephorus I (802-811).

Sainted John Scholastikos, Patriarch of Constantinople, was educated as a jurist. He accepted the dignity of presbyter, and later he was elevated to the patriarch throne, where he spent the years 565 to 577. While still a presbyter, he compiled a collection of Church Rules in 50 Chapters, and later during his time as patriarch he made a Codex of civil directives, relating to the Church. From these collections was compiled the Nomocanon (i.e. "Law-canon"), used in church administration. Saint John was also the author of the two Church hymns -- the "Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim", and the "At Thy Mystical Supper".

The Monk Zakharios, Patriarch of Jerusalem, lived from the end of the VI to the early VII Centuries. In the year 614 the Persian emperor Chosroes fell upon Jerusalem, looted it, and led into captivity many a Christian, including also Saint Zakharios. Together with his captives, Chosroes seized also the Life-Creating Cross of Christ. During the time of the invasion as many as 90,000 Christians perished. Afterwards Chosroes was compelled to sue for peace with the Byzantine emperor Heraclius (610-641). The Cross of the Lord was returned to Jerusalem. The Christian captives that yet remained alive also were returned, among them Patriarch Zakharios, who died peacefully in the year 633.

The Kozel'schansk Icon of the Mother of God belongs amongst the icons most recently glorified, and is amongst those most venerated. This icon is of Italian origin and was brought to Russia by one of the courtiers of the empress Elizaveta Petrovna (1741?1761). The owner of the icon married a records-clerk of the Zaporozhsky-Cossack army, Siromakh. Therefore down to the Ukraine went the icon. During the XIX Century it belonged to the Kapnist family among their sacred possessions. The icon was situated in the village of Kozel'schina, Poltava governance. During Cheesefare Week in the year 1880, the daughter of V. I. Kapnist, Maria, fell grievously ill. The local doctor diagnosed an insignificant problem of the foot, from an improper swaying towards the side, and he prescribed a plaster cast. A certain while later they brought her to a Khar'kov surgeon. He likewise diagnosed the same problem. To lessen the problem with the foot during walking, a special shoe was made with steel springs, set with bracings for the foot above the knee, and the use of warm compresses was also prescribed. Lent passed, but the sick girl did not sense any relief.

After Pascha, Maria sensed a terrible weakness in her other foot, which became distended like the first. V. I. Kapnist again turned to the doctor, who found in the left foot a dislocation, and he likewise put on this foot steel springs, advising him to take his daughter immediately to the Caucasus for the curative mineral waters and mountain air. The journey to the Caucasus and the curative-treatments caused even greater affliction. The powers of the daughter failed, she lost all feeling in her hands and feet and did not even feel pinchings. Under observation, besides the former problems, there were found dislocations even in her shoulder joints, in her left hip and extreme sensitivity in the spinal column along its whole extent.

With such an advanced degree of the illness, and ignorance as to its cause, they were compelled to return home.

In the month of October the father journeyed with his sick daughter to Moscow. Here he had recourse to the most reknown doctors, who declared that the sickness was beyond their powers.

The parents and the sick girl began already to despair. But unexpectedly the opportunity presented itself to turn for help to a foreign professor. Since it would be a prolonged while before his arrival in Moscow, the sick girl asked to return home. The father sent her off to the village, having the promise of his wife to bring their sick daughter back to Moscow, at such time when he received news of the arrival of the professor. On 21 February 1881, they received a telegram, that the professor had arrived in Moscow. Such news alarmed the sick girl: would he, like the others, turn out to be powerless to help?

The mother, having decided to go on the following day, and pointing to the family image of the Mother of God, said to her daughter: "Masha [a diminutive for "Maria"], tomorrow we go to Moscow, take the image of the Mother of God, let us clean its cover and pray harder before our Mediatrix. Ask, that we make a good trip and that thy illness be cured". The sick girl herself, having lost hope in worldly physicians, placed all her hope in God and entrusted her fate to Heavenly help. This icon had long before been known as wonderworking. According to tradition, it particularly aided young women, who recoursed to it in prayer to have an happy family. And with this too was the custom, to clean the cover of the icon, and the one praying would wipe it with cotton or linen. Pressing the holy icon to her bosom, the sick girl, with the help of her mother, rubbed at it and poured out all the burden of her infirmity, and sorrow and despair of soul before the countenance of the Mother of God. And the ardent and intense prayer of the sick girl was heard. She at once felt the strength in her hands and her feet and she cried out loudly: "Mama! Mama! I feel my feet! Mama, I feel my hands!" She tore off the metal braces and bandages and began freely to walk about the room, all the while continuing to hold on reverently to the image of the Mother of God in her hands. The parish priest was summoned at once and a molieben of thanksgiving was made before the image of the Mother of God. The joyous event quickly became known throughout all the surrounding villages. The mother set off to Moscow with her now healthy daughter and took with them the holy image of the Mother of God. News of the healing quickly spread about Moscow and people began to throng in numbers to the hotel at first, and then to the church, where they had transported the icon. From the icon occurred yet several more healings. When the family returned home to Kozel'schina, all the surrounding areas had already learned about the healings from the Kozel'schansk icon of the Mother of God done at Moscow, and many gathered to venerate the icon. To keep the icon at home at longer was impossible, and with the decision of His Grace Ioann, Archbishop of Poltava, on 23 April 1881 the icon was transferred to specially constructed temporary chapel. Every day from early morning there was never a silent moment before the image, with the singing of moliebens and reading of akathists.

In 1882 a church was built, and by the confirmation of the Most-Holy Synod of 1 March 1885 a women's monastery was established -- on 17 February 1891 transformed into the women's monastery in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God.

At the present time the Kozel'schansk Icon of the Mother of God is located in the Krasnogorsk Pokrov (Protection) women's monastery (Kiev diocese). And for the Kozel'schansk Icon of the Mother of God there has been compiled a Service (on 21 February) and an akathist.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos



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