January 12th (I - 25)
Icon of Martyr Tatiana and St. Efthasia
Martyress Tatiana and those suffering with her at Rome (+ 226-235). Sainted Sava, ArchBishop of Serbia (+ 1237). Monk Martinian of Belozersk (+ 1483). Martyr Mertius (+ 284-305). Martyr Peter Abessalomites (Aneiakos) (+ 309-310). Nun Eupraxia of Tabenyssa (+ 393). Monk Galaktion of Belozersk (+1506). Eight Martyrs at Nicea. Saint Sylvanus. Saint Makarios. Icons of the Mother of God named "Akathist", "Mlekopitatel'nitsa" ("Milk-Bearing") and "Popskaya" ("Priestly").
The Holy Martyress Tatiana was born into an illustrious Roman family -- her father was thrice elected consul. He was secretly a christian and raised his daughter devoted to God and the Church. Having reached the age of maturity, Tatiana did not enter into marriage but with all her strength devoted herself to the Church. She was made deaconess in one of the Roman churches and served God, in fasting and prayer tending the sick and helping the needy. By her righteousness Tatiana gained in future to be crowned with the crown of martyrdom.
When Rome came to be ruled by the sixteen year old Alexander Severus (222?235), all power was concentrated in the hands of the evil enemy and persecutor of christians Ulpian. Christian blood flowed like streams. Deaconess Tatiana was also arrested. When they brought her into the temple of Apollo so as to force her to offer sacrifice to the idol, the saint began praying -- and suddenly there occurred an earthquake -- the idol was smashed into pieces, and part of the temple collapsed and fell down on the pagan priests and many pagans. The demon inhabiting the idol ran out with an howl from that place, in front of which all saw it flying through the air like a ghost. They then began to beat the holy virgin about the eyes, but she bravely endured everything, praying for her tormentors that the Lord would open for them their spiritual eyes. And the Lord heard the prayer of His servant. The executioners came to see, that four Angels encircled the saint and fended off from the blows; they heard a Voice from the heavens addressed to the holy martyress. All of them, eight men, believed in Christ and fell on their knees to Saint Tatiana, begging them to forgive them their wrongs against her. For confessing themselves christians they were subjected to tortures and execution, receiving Baptism by blood. Saint Tatiana was again given over to tortures on another day: they uncovered her and beat her, they cut at her body with razors, and from her wounds then there permeated a fragrance in the air. The torturers became exhausted and said, that someone invisible was beating at them with iron staffs, and nine of them fell dead. They then threw the saint in prison, where she prayed all night and with the Angels sang praise to the Lord. A new morning began, and they again took Saint Tatiana to the court. The torturers beheld with astonishment that after such terrible torments she appeared completely healthy and even more radiant and beautiful than before. They began to urge her to offer sacrifice to the goddess Diana. The saint seemed to appear agreeable, and they took her to the heathen temple. Saint Tatiana made the sign of the cross and began to pray -- and suddenly there sounded a crash of deafening thunder, and lightning struck the idol, the sacrificial offerings and the pagan priests. They again fiercely tortured the martyress, and at night they again threw her in prison, and again there appeared Angels and healed her wounds. On the following day they took Saint Tatiana to the circus and let loose at her an hungry lion; the beast did not touch the saint but only lay meekly at her feet. They wanted to pen up the lion back in its cage, and here instead it clawed up one of the torturers. They threw Tatiana into a fire, but the fire did not harm the martyress. The pagans, thinking that she was a sorceress, cut her hair to deprive her of magical powers, and locked her up in the temple of Zeus. But it was impossible to take away the power of God. On the third day pagan priests came with an encircling throng, preparing to offer sacrifice. Opening the temple, they beheld the idol thrown down into the dust and the holy martyress Tatiana joyously invoking the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. All the instruments of torture were worn out, and they carried out a sentence of death: the valiant sufferer was beheaded with a sword. Also executed as a christian together with her was her father, for having shewn her the true faith of Christ.
Sainted Sava, first ArchBishop of Serbia, -- in the world Rostislav (Rastko), was a son of the Serbian autocrat Stefan Nemani and Anna, daughter of the Greek emperor Romanos. From his early years he fervently attended church services and fostered an especial love for icons. At seventeen years of age, having met a Russian monk from Holy Mount Athos, Rostislav secretly left his father's house and set off to the Russian Panteleimonov monastery. (By Divine Providence in the year of the saint's birth -- 1169 -- the ancient monastery of the great-martyr and healer Panteleimon was restored for eternal keeping to Russian monks.) Knowing that his son was on Athos, his father mobilised his retainers headed by a faithful voevoda and wrote to the governor of the district which included Athos, that if his son were not returned to him, he would go to war against the Greeks. Having arrived at the monastery, the voevoda / military-chief was ordered not to take his eyes off Rostislav. During the time of evening Divine-services, when the soldiers were fallen asleep under the influence of wine, Rostislav took monastic vows (the year 1186) and sent to his parents his worldly clothes, his hair and a letter. The monk Sava sought to persuade his powerful parents to accept monasticism. The monk's father (the commemoration of the Monk Stefan, in monasticism Simeon, Tsar of Serbia, is situated under 13 February) together with his son pursued asceticism at the Batopedeia monastery. On Athos they established the Serbian Khilendaria monastery, and this monastery received its name by imperial stauropegia / grant. At Khilendaria monastery, the monk Save was ordained to the deaconate and then presbyter. For his monastic deeds on Mount Athos, the monk was deemed worthy of the dignity of archimandrite at Soluneia / Thessalonika. At Niciea in the year 1219 on the feast of the Dormition / Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God, the OEcumenical Pattriarch Germanos ordained archimandrite Sava to the dignity of ArchBishop of All Serbia. For this the monk petitioned the Greek emperor for permission that the ArchBishop be consecrated by a Sobor of bishops in Serbia -- a very important consideration in this time of frequent wars between eastern and western powers. Having returned to the Holy Mountain from Nicea, the saint made the rounds of all the monasteries for the last time; he made prostration in all the churches and, calling to mind the blessed lives of the wilderness fathers, he made his farewells with the ascetics in deep remorse, "leaving from the Holy Mountain, as though from some Divine paradise". Dejected by his grievous separation from the Holy Mountain, the saint went along the path from Athos just barely moving. Only the words of the MostHoly Mother of God that had come to the saint in a dream -- "having My Patronage to the King of all, My Son and God, about what dost thou still sorrow?" -- these words roused him from despondency, changing sorrow into joy. In memory of this appearance, the saint commissioned at Soluneia large icons of the Saviour and of the Mother of God, and put them in the Church of the Philokalia.
In Serbia, the activity of the Hierarch in organising the work of his native Church was accompanied by numerous signs and miracles. During the time of Liturgy and the all-night vigil, when the saint came to cense over the grave of his father the monk Simeon, the holy relics exuded fragrant myrh.
Being in charge of negotiations with the Hungarian king Vladislav, who had declared war on Serbia, the glorious sainted bishop with heavenly signs not only brought about the desired peace for his country, he also brought the Hungarian monarch to Orthodoxy. Having secured a beginning for the historical existence of the autonomous Serbian Church, Saint Sava contributed also to the strengthening of the Serbian state. In order to insure the independence of the Serbian state, the holy archbishop Sava crowned his powerful brother Stefan as tsar. Upon the death of Stefan -- his eldest son Radislav having been crowned tsar, Saint Sava set off to the Holy Land "with tears to worship at the holy grave of Christ and fearsome Golgotha". Having returned to his native land, the saint gave his blessing and crowned Vladislav as tsar; to further strengthen the Serbian throne, he betrothed him with the daughter of the Bulgarian prince Asan. The holy hierarch made the rounds of all the Serbian land, he reformed monastic rules on the model of the athonites and palestinians, and he established and consecrated many churches, strengthening the Orthodox in their faith. Having finished his work in his native land, the saint appointed as his successor the priestmonk Arsenii, ordaining him bishop and giving his blessing to all. He then set off on a journey of no return, wanting "to end his days as a wanderer in a foreign land". He passed through all of Palestine, through Syria and Persia, Babylon, Egypt and Anatolia, everywhere visiting the holy places, conversing with great ascetics, and gathering up the priestly remains of saints. The saint finished his wanderings at Trnovo in Bulgaria at the home of his kinsman Tsar Asan, where with spiritual joy he offered up his soul to the Lord (+ 1237). At the time of transfer of the holy relics of Sainted Sava to Serbia in 1237 the healings were so numerous, that the Bulgarians began to complain about Asan, "that he had given up such a treasure". In the saint's own native country, his venerable relics were placed in the Church of Mileshevo, bestowing healing on all who approach with faith. The inhabitants of Trnovo continued to receive healing from the remnants of the grave of the saint, which pious Asan ordered to be gathered together and placed in a newly built sarcophagus.
The legacy of Sainted Sava lives on in the orthodox Church traditions of the Slavic nations. With his legacy is linked the first introduction of the Jerusalem Ustav to Slavic Monastic Rules: the Serbian Khilendaria monastery on Athos lives by the Typikon of Saint Sava to the present time. The redactions of the book "The Rudder" belonging to the Sainted Bishop -- with the commentaries of Alexis Aristines, are the most widely disseminated in the Russian Church. In the year 1270 the first copy of "The Rudder" of Saint Sava was sent from Bulgaria to the metropolitan of Kiev Kirill. From this was copied one of the most ancient of the Russian "Rudders" -- the Ryazansk "Rudder" of 1284. It in its turn was the source for a printed "Rudder" -- published in the year 1653 and invariably since that time republished in the Russian Church. Such was the legacy of Sainted Sava to the canonical treasury of Orthodoxy.
The Monk Martinian of Belozersk, in the world Michael, was born in the year 1370 in the village of Berezniko, not far from the Kirillov monastery. At age thirteen he left his parents and went secretly to the Monk Kirill of Belozersk (Comm. 9 June), about whom many had spoken of to him as being a great ascetic. The youthful Martinian began zealously to imitate his teacher, with whom he dwelt in complete obedience. At the monastery he studied reading and writing, and with the blessing of the monk Kirill, he became occupied with the copying of books. In time Martinian was ordained deacon and then priest-monk. After the death of the monk Kirill (+ 1427) blessed Martinian withdrew for silence to a deserted island, situated on Lake Vozha. Several monks gradually gathered around him. The monk Martinian established for them a church of the Transfiguration (Preobrazhenie) of the Lord and introduced a general ustav-rule for the inhabitants. Yielding to the persistent requests of the brethren of Ferapontov monastery, he consented to become hegumen of the monastery and brought it into a brighter condition.
The monk Martinian rendered spiritual support to great prince Vasilii Vasil'evich in the difficulties of his time, when his first-cousin Dimitrii Shemyaka illicitly pretended to the Moscow throne. He was always an advocate of truth and justice. Afterwards, upon the entreaty of the great prince, the monk accepted upon himself the governing of the monastery of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh.
In 1455 the monk Martinian again returned to the Ferapontov monastery. The last years of his life he was grievously ill and not able to walk, and the brethren carried him to church. The monk died at age 85. His relics were uncovered in the year 1514 -- and the commemoration of the uncovering is celebrated on 7 October.
The Martyr Mertius was a soldier. He suffered in Africa for the Name of Christ during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). The emperor demanded him to offer sacrifice to idols and, receiving refusal, gave him over to torture. The saint suffered fierce torments, not uttering even one moan. He was thrown into prison, where he died from hunger and wounds.
The Martyr Peter Abessalomites (Aneiakos) was a native of the village of Aneia in Palestine. During the time of a persecution against christians he was arrested and brought to the governor of Palestine. In vain did the judge and the people urge him to honour the pagan gods to escape torture. "I then truly shalt have mercy on myself, when I neither recant the Gospel nor offer sacrifice to idols", -- answered the saint, and he was burned at the stake.
In some mesyatseslavs / saints-lives his memory is inserted twice: 12 January as the martyr Peter Abessalomites, and 13 January -- as Peter Aneiakos, since it was mistakenly assumed that these were different persons.
The Nun Eupraxia of Tabenyssa (Tabeneia the Older), was the mother of the Nun Eupraxia, maiden of Tabenyssa (Comm. 25 July). She was the spouse of the pious senator Antigones, who was connected by birth with the emperor Theodosius the great (379-395). Becoming widowed, Saint Eupraxia devoted herself completely to the service of the lord. Having made the rounds of many monastic establishments and having left liberal alms, she came to the Tabenyssa monastery, where the hegumeness was the nun Theodoula, known for her strict rule. Deeply moved by the pure way of convent life, Saint Eupraxia came often to this monastery and always brought her daughter with her, who was then eight years old. The virtues and prayers of her parents summoned a particular grace of god upon the maiden, and even from her youthful years she desired to dedicate herself to God. To her mother's great joy, hegumeness Theodoula kept the child Eupraxia at the convent and gave blessing for her to take monastic vows.
The nun Eupraxia carried on works of liberal charity, and increased her fasting and prayer. Hegumeness Theodoula, possessing the gift of perspicacity, told her about her impending end. Knowing about the nearness of her demise, the nun Eupraxia gave thanks to the Lord for His great mercy towards her. She made her farewell with the sisters of the convent and with her daughter, giving her the parting last words: "Love the Lord Jesus with intense reverence; respect the sisters; never dare to think, that they are below thee and should serve thee; be poor in thy thoughts so as to profit by spiritual treasures". After three days the saint offered up her soul to the Lord (+ 393) and was buried at the convent, where her daughter continued her arduous ascetic deeds.
The Monk Galaktion of Belozersk was a student and cell-attendant of the monk Martinian of Belozersk and lived together with his mentor at the Ferapontov monastery.
The monk Galaktion cared with a filial love for the aged Abba Martinian. When his preceptor became completely infirm of body, the monk Galaktion took him to church on his shoulders. Beholding the spiritual maturity of his student, the monk Marinian blessed the monk Galaktion in his spiritual deed of folly. By his secret ascetic deeds blessed Galaktion reached high spiritual perfection, and obtained the grace of perspicacity. He foretold, that Kazan would be conquered by tsar Ivan, who was not yet even born. He foresaw his own end and the end of several of his fellow ascetics, and he also spoke of the fires and other disasters awaiting Ferapontov monastery. Blessed Galaktion died in the year 1506 and was buried at the foot of his teacher, the monk Martinian, at Ferapontov monastery.
The "Akafistnaya / Akathist" Icon of the Mother of God is located in the Khilendaria cathedral iconostasis. It received the designation "Akathist" because, during a fire at the cathedral in 1837 an akathist was read before it, and it remained unharmed -- to the solace of the monks.
The "Mlekopitatel'nitsa" ("Milk-bearing") Icon of the mother of God was at first located at the Lavra of the Monk Sava the Sanctified near Jerusalem. The holy founder of the Lavra at his death foretold that a pilgrim Sava from Serbia would visit the Lavra, and gave orders to pass on to him as a blessing the wonderworking icon. This occurred in the XIII Century. Sainted Sava of Serbia took the icon to Khilendaria on Holy Mount Athos and put it on the right side of the iconostas in the church in front of the Kareia cells, afterwards named Typikarnitsa, since the Ustav of Sainted Sava was preserved there.
The "Popskaya" ("Priestly") Icon of the Mother of God stands in the Khilendaria cathedral by a column of the left kleros. A certain heretic priest, having declared himself orthodox, acted at Khilendaria monastery with evil purpose, but he was punished. At the time of the procession for blessing water he took this icon -- but stumbled, fell into the sea and drowned. Since that time the procession with the cross is always done with this icon, and invariably a priest carries it, from which it was called by the Serbs Popskaya / Priestly.
Copyright 1996 by translator Fr. S. Janos.