July 23rd (VIII - 5)
Icon of Prophet Ezekiel, St. Phocas, and Bishop Vitalios of Italy
Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God. Martyrs Trophymos, Theophilos and 13 Martyrs with them (IV). Martyr Apollonios. Seven Martyrs of Cathagena. PriestMartyr Apollonarius, Bishop of Ravenna (+ c. 75). PriestMartyr Vitalius. Nun Anna of Leukadicea. Icon of the Mother of God, named "Joy of All Sorrowing" ("With Petty Change") (1888).
The Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God is among the most venerable sacred items of the Russian Church. It is reknown throughout all the Slavic world: they venerate it in Russia, in Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria and other places. Christians also of other confessions come for veneration of the wonderworking image of the MostHoly Mother of God, alongside the Orthodox. At the Pochaev Lavra, an ancient rampart of Orthodoxy, the wonderworking icon has resided about 400 years. (The account about the transfer of the icon to the Pochaev monastery is located under 8 September). The miracles, which issued forth from the holy icon, are numerous and are testified to in the monastery books with the inscriptions of the faithful, who with prayer have met with deliverance from unclean spirits, liberation from captivity, and sinners brought to their senses.
The celebration in honour of the Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God on 23 July was established in memory of the deliverance Uspenie-Dormition Lavra monastery from a Turkish siege on 20-23 July 1675.
In the Summer of 1675 during the time of the Zbarazhsk War with the Turks, during the reign of the Polish king Jan Sobesski (1674-1696), regiments composed of Tatars under the command of khan Nurredin via Vishnevets fell upon the Pochaev monastery, surrounding it on three sides. The weak monastery walls, just like some of the stone buildings of the monastery, did not offer much defense against a siege. The hegumen Iosif Dobromirsky urged the brethren and laypeople to turn themselves to Heavenly intercessors: to the MostHoly Mother of God and the Monk Job of Pochaev (Comm. 28 October). The monks and the laypeople prayed fervently, prostrating themselves before the wonderworking image of the Mother of God and the reliquary with the relics of the Monk Job. On the morning of 23 July with the rising of the sun, as the Tatars were holding a final meeting about an assault on the monastery, the hegumen ordered the singing of an akathist to the Mother of God. With the first words, "O Queen of the Heavenly Hosts", suddenly there appeared over the church the MostHoly Mother of God Herself, in "an unfurled gleaming-white omophor", with heavenly angels holding unsheathed swords. The Monk Job was beside the Mother of God, bowing to Her and beseeching the defense of the monastery. The Tatars took the heavenly army for an apparition, and in confusion they began to shoot arrows at the MostHoly Mother of God and the Monk Job, but the arrows fell backwards and wounded those who shot them. Terror seized the enemy. In a flight of panic and without looking, they trampled upon and killed each other. The defenders of the monastery attempted pursuit and took many prisoner. Some of the prisoners afterwards accepted the Christian faith and remained at the monastery thereafter.
In the year 1721 Pochaev was occupied by Uniates. But even in this difficult time for the Lavra, the monastery chronicle notes 539 miracles from the glorified Orthodox sacred image. During the time of the Uniate rule in the 2nd half of the XVIII Century, for example, the Uniate nobleman count Nicholas Pototski became a benefactor of the Pochaev Lavra through the following miraculous circumstance. Having accused his coachman for overturning the carriage with frenzied horses, the count took out a pistol to shoot him. The coachman, turning towards Pochaev Hill, reached his hands upwards and cried out: "Mother of God, manifest in the Pochaev Icon, save me!" Pototski several times tried to shoot the pistol, which had never let him down, but the weapon misfired. The coachman remained alive. Pototski then immediately set off to the wonderworking icon and decided to devote himself and all his property to the building-up of the monastery. From his wealth was built the Uspenie-Dormition cathedral and buildings for the brethren.
The return of Pochaev into the bosom of Orthodoxy in 1832 was marked by the miraculous healing of the blind maiden Anna Akimchukova, who had come on pilgrimage to the holy things together with her 70 year old grandmother, from Kremenets-Podol'sk 200 versts away. In memory of this event, the Volynia archbishop and Lavra archimandrite Innokentii (1832-1840) established weekly on Saturdays the reading of the cathedral akathist before the wonderworking icon. During the time of the rule of the Lavra by archimandrite Agathangel, archbishop of Volynia (1866-1876), there was constructed a separate chapel in the galleries of the Holy Trinity church in memory of the victory over the Tatars, which was dedicated on 23 July 1875.
The Holy Martyrs Trophymos, Theophilos, and Thirteen Holy Martyrs with them, suffered during the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Brought to trial, they bravely confessed themselves Christians and refused to offer sacrifice to idols. After fierce tortures, they threw the holy martyrs with broken legs into a fire. Strengthened by the Lord, they came out of the fire completely unharmed, and still all the moreso did they glorify Christ. Then in despair of breaking the will of the holy confessors, the torturers beheaded them.
The PriestMartyr Apollinarius, Bishop of Ravenna: During the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius (41-54), the holy Apostle Peter came to Rome from Antioch, and he ordained the Antiochene Apollinarius, who had come with him, to be bishop of Ravenna. Arriving in Ravenna as a stranger, Saint Apollinarius asked shelter of a local inhabitant, the soldier Ireneius, and in conversation with him revealed also for what purpose he had come. Ireneius had a blind son, whom Saint Apollinarius healed, having turned to the Lord with prayer. The soldier Ireneius and his family were the first in Ravenna to believe in Christ. The saint stayed at the house of Ireneius and preached about Christ to everyone wanting to hear what he said. One of the miracles of healing, done by Saint Apollinarius, was the healing of the incurably sick wife of the Ravenna tribune, Thecla. After she stood up from her bed completely healthy -- through the prayers of the saint, not only did she believe in Christ, but so also did the tribune. At the house of the tribune Saint Apollinarius constructed a small church, where he made Divine Liturgy. For the newly-baptised people of Ravenna Saint Apollinarius ordained two presbyters -- Aderetus and Calocyrus, and also two deacons.
Saint Apollinarius preached the Gospel at Ravenna for twelve years, and the number of Christians steadily increased. Pagan priests made complaint against the bishop to the governor Saturninus. Saint Apollinarius was brought to trial and subjected to grievous tortures. Thinking that he had died, the torturers took him out of the city to the sea-coast and threw him in. But the saint was alive. A certain pious Christian widow rendered him aid and gave him shelter in her home. Saint Apollinarius stayed at her home for six months and continued secretly to preach about Christ. The whereabouts of the saint became known, when he healed the loss of speech of an illustrious resident of the city named Boniface, at the request of his wife, who besought the help of the saint for her husband. After this miracle many pagans were converted to Christ, and they again brought Saint Apollinarius to trial and tortured him, setting his bared-feet on red-hot coals. They removed him from the city a second time, but the Lord again kept him alive. The saint did not cease preaching until they expelled him from the city. For a certain while Saint Apollinarius found himself elsewhere in Italy, where as before he continued to preach the Gospel. And again having returned to Ravenna to his flock, Saint Apollinarius again went on trial and was sentenced to banishment. In heavy fetters he was put on a ship sailing to Illyrica to the River Dunaj-Danube. Two soldiers were responsible to convey him to his place of exile. Three of the clergy voluntarily followed their bishop into exile. Along the way the vessel suffered shipwreck and all drowned, except for the rescued Saint Apollinarius, his acompanying clergy and the two soldiers. The soldiers, listening to Saint Apollinarius, believed in the Lord and accepted Baptism. Nowhere having found shelter, the travellers came to Mycea, where Saint Apollinarius healed a certain illustrious inhabitant from leprosy, and for which both he and his companions received shelter at his home. In this land Saint Apollinarius likewise preached tirelessly about Christ and he converted many of the pagans to Christianity, for which he was subjected to persecution on the part of unbelievers. They beat up the saint mercilessly, and boarding him on a ship sailing for Italy, they sent him back. After a three year absence, Saint Apollinarius returned to Ravenna and was joyfully received by his flock. The pagans, however, having fallen upon the church where the saint made Divine Liturgy, scattered those at prayer, and dragged the saint to the idolatrous priests in the pagan temple of Apollo, where the idol fell just as they brought in the saint, and it shattered. The pagan priests brought Saint Apollinarius for trial to the new governor of the district, named Taurus. Apollinarius worked here a new miracle -- he healed the son of the governor, who had been blind from birth. In gratitude for the healing of his son, Taurus strove to shelter Saint Apollinarius from the angry crowd. He dispatched him to his own estate outside the city, where the son and wife of Taurus were baptised, but he himself fearing the anger of the emperor did not accept Baptism, but conducted himself with gratitude and love towards his benefactor. Saint Apollinarius lived for five years at the estate of Taurus and preached without hindrance about salvation. During this time pagan priests dispatched letters of denunciation to the emperor Vespasian with a request for a sentence of death or exile of the Christian "sorcerer" Apollinarius. But the emperor answered the pagan priests, that the gods were sufficiently powerful to take revenge for themselves, if they reckoned themselves insulted. All the wrath of the pagans fell upon Saint Apollinarius: they caught hold of him when the saint left the city setting out for a nearby settlement, and they beat him fiercely. Christians found him barely alive and took him to the settlement, where he survived for seven days. During the time of his pre-death illness the saint did not cease to teach his flock and he predicted, that after persecution Christians would enter upon better times, when they could openly and freely confess their faith. Having given those present his archpastoral blessing, the PriestMartyr Apollinarius expired to the Lord. Saint Apollinarius was bishop of Ravenna for 28 years and he died in the year 75.
The Icon of the Mother of God "Joy of All Sorrowing" ("With Petty Change") was glorified in the year 1888 in Peterburg, when during the time of a terrible thunderstorm lightning struck in a chapel, but the icon of the Queen of Heaven situated in it remained unharmed; to it however was melted small metal coins (half-kopeck pieces), laying before the icon. A church was built in 1898 on the spot of the chapel.
© 2000 by translator Fr. S. Janos