February 3rd (II - 16)
Icon of the Righteous Simeon and the Prophetess Anna
Righteous Simeon the God-Receiver and Anna the Prophetess. NobleBorn Prince Roman of Uglich (+ 1285). Equal-to-the-Apostles Nikolai, ArchBishop, Apostle to Japan (+ 1912). Prophet Azariah (X Cent. BC). Martyrs Papias, Diodorus, Claudian (+ 250). Martyrs Adrian and Eubolos (+ c. 308-309). Martyrs Paul and Simon. Sainted Simeon, Bishop of Tver' (+1289). NobleBorn Svyatoslav Prince of Iur'ev (+ 1253), and his son Saint Dimitrii. Martyr Blaise of Caesarea. Monk Claudius.
Righteous Simeon the God-Receiver (Bogopriimets) was, according to the testimony of the holy Evangelist Luke, one of the chosen of God in expectation of the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit dwelt upon him (Lk 2:25). It was announced to him from God, that he would not die until that time, when the Promised Messiah -- Christ the Lord -- would be come into the world.
Ancient historians relate that the Egyptian emperor Ptolemy II Philadelphos (285-247 BC) wished to add to the famous Library at Alexandria with texts of Holy Scripture. He invited scholars from Jerusalem, and the Sanhedrin sent their wise men. Righteous Simeon was also among the 72 scholars in Alexandria for the translation of the Sacred Scriptures into the Greek language. (The work was accomplished and received the title "Translation of the 72 Interpreters". With this also further on in the future, the New Testament was translated into the Slavonic language for the Bulgarian, Serbian and Russian Orthodox Churches.) Righteous Simeon translated a book of the Prophet Isaiah, having read in the original the words: "Behold, a Virgin shalt conceive and give birth to a Son" (Is 7: 14). He decided, that the word "Virgin" was incorrectly used here in place of the word "Woman", and he wanted to correct the text. At that moment an Angel appeared to him and held back his hand saying: "Have faith in the words written down; thou thyself shalt be persuaded that they will be fulfilled, whereof thou shalt not taste of death until thou behold Christ the Lord, Who shall be born of a Pure and Immaculate Virgin".
From this day righteous Simeon began to await the coming of the Promised Messiah.
And here one day righteous Simeon, knowing of it by the Holy Spirit, was come to the Jerusalem Temple. It was on that very same day (the fortieth after the Birth of Christ), when the All-Pure Virgin Mary and Her Betrothed Joseph had come there in order to perform the ritual set down by Jewish Law -- to present before the Lord His Own Divine First-Born and to offer the established sacrifice.
When righteous Simeon beheld their arrival, the Holy Spirit revealed to him that the God-Infant Whom the All-Pure Virgin Mary held, -- was the Promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world. The elder took into his arms the Infant Christ and pronounced his prophetic words: "Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart, O Lord, with peace according to Thy word, wherefore hath mine eyes beheld Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to the enlightening of gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel". He blessed the All-Pure Virgin and Righteous Joseph and, having turned to the Mother of God he said: "Behold, This One is set for the fall and rising up of many in Israel and for the sign spoken against, and for Thee thyself a sword shalt pierce the soul, so that the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed" (Lk 2: 22-35).
The holy Evangelist relates further: "Here also was Anna the Prophetess, daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Aser, having reached extreme old age, having lived with her husband for seven years, she was a widow for eighty-four years, who went not out from the temple, serving God both day and night by fasting and prayer. And she having approached at this time, glorified the Lord and prophesied about Him to all awaiting deliverance at Jerusalem" (Lk 2: 36-38).
About the righteous and holy Simeon the God-Receiver is known that he died in extreme old age. In the VI Century his holy relics were transferred to Constantinople. In the year 1200 his grave was seen by the Russian pilgrim Saint Antonii, future archbishop of Novgorod (1212-1220. +1232, Comm. 8 October).
NobleBorn prince Roman of Uglich, son of the Uglich prince Vladimir and princess Photineia, and nephew of Saint Vasil'ko of Rostov (+ 1238, Comm. 4 March), was born on 1 October 1235. Upon the death of his father (in 1248) and his older brother Andrei (1261), Saint Roman at age 26 took upon himself the governance of Uglich and became a guarding father for his subjects. He established a poor-house and took into it the destitute, coming to him from everywhere. In the principality he raised up 15 more churches. Saint Roman was present every day at Divine-services, and he conversed often with pious monks. After the death of his spouse in 1280 he devoted himself entirely to ascetic exploits of fasting, prayer and deeds of righteousness. He built on the high bank of the Volga the city Romanov (now Tutaev). The holy prince died peacefully on 3 February 1285 and was buried in the Church of the Transfiguration in Uglich.
In 1486 the relics of Saint Roman were found to be undecayed and were transferred into the new cathedral Church of the Transfiguration. In the year 1595 with the blessing of Patriarch Job -- in consequence of the fame concerning miracles -- the relics were witnessed to by the Kazan metropolitan (later Patriarch) Sainted Ermogen (Comm. 17 February), and Saint Roman was enumerated in the ranks of the saints. In 1609 during the time of an invasion by the Poles, the holy relics were burned together with the church.
Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Nikolai, ArchBishop, Apostle to Japan, -- in the world Ivan Dimitrievich Kasatkin, was born on 1 August 1836 in the village of Berezovsk, Bel'sk district, Smolensk diocese, where his father served as deacon. At the age of five he lost his mother. Having completed the Bel'sk religious school, and afterwards the Smolensk religious seminary, in 1857 Ivan Kasatkin entered the Saint-Peterburg spiritual academy. On 24 June 1860, in the academy temple of the Twelve Apostles, bishop Nektarii gave him monastic vows with the chosen name Nikolai. On the day of memory of the first-ranked Apostles Peter and Paul, 29 June, the monk Nikolai was ordained deacon, and on 30 June -- the altar-feastday of the academy temple -- to the dignity of priestmonk. Afterwards through his wish Father Nikolai was assigned to Japan, as head of the consular church in the city of Khakodate.
The preaching of the Gospel in Japan at first seemed completely impossible. In Father Nikolai's own words: "the Japanese of that time looked upon foreigners as beasts, and on Christianity as a villainous church, to which it was possible only for total knaves and charlatans to belong". Eight years passed in this way, in studying the country, the people, their language and manners and customs, amidst which he would have to preach. Up until 1868 the flock of Father Nikolai still numbered about twelve Japanese. At the end of 1869 priestmonk Nikolai made a report to the Synod in Peterburg about the result of his work. This resolution was adopted: "to form for the preaching of the Word of God among the pagan Japanese a special Russian Spiritual Mission". Father Nikolai was elevated to the dignity of archimandrite and assigned as head of this Mission. Having returned to Japan, he transferred the Khakodate flock to priestmonk Anatolii, and himself shifted the centre of the Mission to Tokyo. In 1871 there began in the country a persecution of christians; many were subjected to being chased about (among this number was the first Japanese Orthodox person, the afterwards reknown missionary priest Paul Savabe). Only in the year 1873 did the persecution abate somewhat, and it became possible to freely preach Christianity.
In this year archimandrite Nikolai set about the construction in Tokyo of a church and school for fifty men, and later also a religious school, which in 1878 was transformed into a seminary.
In 1874 there arrived at Tokyo His Grace Paul, Bishop of Kamchatka, to ordain to the priestly dignity candidates from the local population recommended by archimandrite Nikolai. During this time at the Mission in Tokyo there operated four schools -- catechetical, seminary, women's, church readers. And in Khakodate there were two schools: boys and girls. In the second half of 1877 the Mission began regularly to publish the journal "Church Messenger". By the year 1878 there already numbered in Japan 4115 Christians, and there existed a number of christian communities. Divine-services and teaching in the native language, the publication of books of religio-moral content -- these were the means which permitted the Mission to attain in a short while such reknown results.
Archimandrite Nikolai was ordained bishop on 30 March 1880 in the Trinity Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky Lavra. Returning to Japan, he began with still greater fervour to continue his apostolic work: he completed construction on the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Tokyo, he set about the translation of the Divine-service books, and he composed into the Japanese language a special Orthodox theological dictionary.
Great hardship befell the lot of the saint and his flock at the time of the Russo-Japanese War. For his ascetic labour during these difficult years he was deemed worthy of elevation to the dignity of archbishop.
In the year 1911 half a century had passed from the time, when the young priestmonk Nikolai had first tread on Japanese soil. But by this time in 266 communities of the Japanese Orthodox Church there were 33017 Christians, 1 archbishop, 1 bishop, 35 priests, 6 deacons, 14 teachers of singing, and 116 preacher-catechists.
In his 76th year on 3 February 1912, the Enlightener of Japan ArchBishop Nikolai expired peacefully to the Lord. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church passed resolution on 10 April 1970 concerning the glorification of the Sainted-Bishop into the ranks of the "RavnoApostoli" "Equal-to-the-Apostles", since in Japan the saint was long honoured as a great righteous one and prayerful intercessor before the Lord.
Sainted Simeon, Bishop of Tver', was the seventh bishop of Polotsk and the first bishop of the Tver' diocese. He was descended from the lineage of the Polotsk princes. The cathedra of the saint was first at Polotsk, but hostile attacks and conflicts with the Lithuanian princes, and the murder in 1263 of the Polotsk prince his kinsman, compelled him to relocate to Tver'. (The Tver' prince Yaroslav Yaroslavich had at this time become GreatPrince of Russia, and chose Tver' as his ruling city).
Blessed Simeon was well-disposed and kind to the down-trodden and destitute, attentive to the monastic and priests orders, and fearsome to the affront of truth.
The Nikonov Chronicle relates, that this sainted bishop was "knowledgeable about medicine, and well versed in the books of Holy Scripture; he was a teacher, and virtuous, concerned for the needy and orphans widows, defending the down-trodden and delivering the oppressed".
History preserves for us a conversation of saint Simeon with the Polotsk prince Konstantin who, wishing to make a jest about his court, asked the saint at supper: "Where shalt be the courts in that world?" Simeon answered: "The court shalt be there, where likewise shalt be the prince".
The prince did not fancy this, and he said: "A court might judge unjustly, and take bribes, or torture people, and is it I that do the harm?" Vladyka explained to him: "If a prince be good and God-fearing, he is concerned for the people, he loves truth and he appoints on his council -- good and God-fearing men, intelligent and truth-loving, that prince shalt be in paradise and his court with him. If however a prince be without the fear of God, he is not concerned for christians and he does not think of orphans and widows, and he appoints wicked counselors lacking integrity and only to bring him money..., that prince shalt be in hell and his court with him".
Sainted Simeon died on 3 February 1289.
Saint Blaise of Caesarea -- Bukolos -- lived in the III Century. He hailed from Caesarea Cappadocia (Asia Minor) and was a shepherd (in Greek "bukolos").
When began a persecution against christians, Saint Blaise virtuously gave himself over into the hands of the torturers. They subjected him to torture, and beat him with leather thongs, but the Lord healed his wounds. They then threw Blaise into a cauldron of boiling water, but he remained there unharmed. The pagan soldiers, seeing this miracle, came to believe in Christ Jesus.
The governor, wishing to show that the martyr remained unharmed because the water had cooled, jumped into the cauldron and died.
Having brought many to faith in Christ, Saint Blaise peacefully offered up his soul to God. They thrust the shepherd's staff of the saint into the ground, and it grew up into an huge tree, which covered with its branches the altar of a church built over his relics.
Copyright 1997 by translator Fr. S. Janos.