July 14th (VII - 27)
Icon of St. Nikodimos, St. Aquila (Disciple from the 70) and Martyr Eoustou.
Disciple from the 70: Aquila (I). Martyrs Justus (I); Achilles and Hilarios (Hilary); Heraklios. PriestMartyr Peter, Bishop of Crete. Saint Theodore. Monk Stefan (Stephen) of Makhrisch (+ 1406). Monks: Hellios the Monastic (IV); Onisymos the Wonderworker at Magnesium (IV).
Saint Aquila, Disciple from the 70: It is possible, that he was a disciple of the Apostle Paul, a native of Pontus and a Jew, living in the city of Rome with his wife Priscilla (Comm. 13 February). During the reign of the emperor Claudius (41-54) all the Jews were banished from Rome. Saint Aquilla and his wife were compelled to leave. They settled in Corinth. A short while afterwards the holy Apostle Paul arrived there from Athens preaching the Gospel. Having made the acquaintance of Aquila, he began to live at his house and laboured together with him over the making of tents.
Having accepted Baptism from the Apostle Paul, Aquila and Priscilla bacame his devoted and zealous disciples. They accompanied the apostle to Ephesus. The Apostle Paul instructed them to continue the preaching of the Gospel at Ephesus, and he himself set off to Jerusalem, in order to be present there for the feast of Pentecost. At Ephesus Aquila and Priscilla heard the bold preaching of a new-comer from Alexandria, the Jew Apollos, who had been instructed in the fundamentals of the faith, but knew only the baptism of John the ForeRunner [i.e. John the Baptist]. They called him over to themselves and explained more precisely about the way of the Lord.
After the death of the emperor Claudius, Jews were permitted to return to Italy, and Aquila and Priscilla then returned to Rome. The Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans recollects about his faithful disciples: "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus, who put forth their heads for my soul, whom I do not alone thank, but also all the Church of the Gentiles and the church of their household" (Rom. 16: 3-4). Saint Aquila did not long dwell in Rome: the Apostle Paul made him a bishop in Asia. Saint Aquila zealously laboured at preaching the Gospel in Asia, Achaeia and Herakleia: he converted pagans to Christ, he confirmed in the faith newly-converted Christians, he established presbyters and destroyed idols. Saint Priscilla constantly assisted him in the apostolic work. Saint Aquila finished his life a martyr: pagans murdered him. According to the tradition of the Church, Saint Priscilla was killed together with him.
The Monk Stefan of Makhrisch was a native of Kiev. He accepted monasticism at the Pechersk monastery, where he spent several years in deeds of obedience and prayer. The oppressions by the Papists compelled him to journey on to Moscow, where GreatPrince Ivan II (1353-1359) graciously received him, permitting him to settle in the locale of Makhrisch not far from Gorodisch, 35 versts from the Sergeev wilderness-monastery.
Having built himself a cell and spending his life at ascetic labours, and esteeming silence, he did not accept those wishing to join him. But then he yielded to the requests, and by such manner, in 1358 he founded a monastery, in which he was established as hegumen.
Living near his monastery were the Yurkov brothers, fearing that the land which they ruled might be given over to the monastery, and they threatened to kill the holy ascetic. The admonitions of the monk did not help. Saint Stefan then moved to a different place. Sixty versts north of Vologda, at the River Avnezha, he founded with his disciple Grigory a wilderness-monastery in the Name of the Holy Trinity. GreatPrince Dimitrii Ioannovich sent books and other liturgical items to the Avnezhsk wilderness, but the Monk Stefan sent them in turn to the Makhrisch monastery. Having returned to his monastery, Saint Stefan ordered life in it according to a "life in common" ustav (rule).
When the Monk Sergei of radonezh moved form his monastery, in order to find a place for his ascetic deeds, the Monk Stefan then received him, and gave the great ascetic Sergei his own disciple Simon, who knew the surrounding area quite well. The Monk Sergei settled together with Simon on the island of Kirzhach, where he founded a monastery.
Saint Stefan was strict with himself and indulgent towards others, he it was that worked for the monastery the hardest of all, he zealously guided the brethren to the ways of salvation with gentle and quiet talks, and he wore clothing very old and coarse.
The monk lived to extreme old age, became a schema-monk and died in 1406 on 14 July. In 1550 during the construction of a new stone church in the Name of the Holy Trinity, his holy remains were uncovered undecayed. They were glorified by blessings of help in various sicknesses and misfortunes for all calling on the name of the saint.
The Holy Martyr Justus was a Roman pagan-soldier. The Life-Creating Cross of the Lord appeared to him in a vision. Justus believed in Christ and gave away his possessions to the poor. By decree of the official of Magnesia, Justus as a Christian was taken to trial. After various tortures the holy martyr was thrown into a bon-fire and therein gave up his soul to God, but the flames did not harm his body (I).
The Monk Hellios lived and died in the IV Century. Given over at childhood to a monastery, he was raised in piety, temperance and chastity.
Having grown up, he set out into the Egyptian wilderness, where by incessant ascetic deeds he attained deep ability in the spiritual life: he was endowed with the gift of perspicacity, he knew all the thoughts and disposition of the monks conversing with him. Great faith, simplicity of soul and deep humility allowed Saint Hellios to command wild animals. One time, when the monk carried an heavy load to the wilderness monastery and had become very tired, and having prayed, he called a wild donkey to himself and placed on it his burden. The donkey meekly carried the load to the place and was set free to return to the wilderness. Another time, when the Monk Hellios needed to cross over a river and there was no boat, he called forth from the water a crocodile and, standing on its back, he happily crossed to the opposite shore.
One of the young novices of the monastery, whom Saint Hellios visited with, besought him to take him along into the deep wilderness. The Monk Hellios warned the youth about the great work, exploits and temptations, which inevitably beset all the hermits, but since the novice continued fervently to ask, he took him along. On the first night the novice, frightened by terrible visions, in trembling ran to the cave to the Monk Hellios. The monk comforted and calmed him down and ordered him to return. Having secured the cave with the sign of the cross, the monk said that the young hermit should not fear, since these apparitions would appear no more. Trusting the word of the saint, the novice decided to remain in solitude and afterwards attained such perfection, that he was granted, like his preceptor Hellios, to receive at the necessary time food from an Angel.
In extreme old age the Monk Hellios peacefully settled into the Heavenly mansions.
© 1997 by translator Fr. S. Janos.