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July 24th (VIII - 6)

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of the Martyress Christina

Martyress Christina (+ c. 300). Martyrs: Theophilos of Chios (+ 1603); Athanasias of Ikeia (+ 1660); Kapiton; Imeneios; Hermogenes. Martyrs the Nobleborn Princes Boris and Gleb, in Holy Baptism -- Roman and David (+ 1015). Monks: Polykarp, Archimandrite of Pechersk (+ 1182); Child SchemaMonk Bogolep of Chernoyarsk (+ 1667). Saints: Anatolios; Phantinos the Wonderworker; Papas; Hilarion of Tvalaeli (XI) (Gruzia). Blessed Izmaragdos.

The Martyress Christina lived during the III Century. She was born into a rich family, and her father was governor of Tyre. By the age of 11 the girl was exceptionally beautiful, and many wanted to be married to her. Christina's father, however, envisioned that his daughter should become a pagan-priestess. To this end he situated her in a special dwelling, where he had set up many gold and silver idols, and he commanded his daughter to burn incense before them. Two servants attended to Christina.

In her solitude Christina began to ponder over the thought, -- who had created this beautiful world? From her room she was delighted by the stars of the heavens and she constantly came back to the thought about the One Maker of all the world. She was convinced, that the voiceless and soul-less idols standing in her room could not create anything, since they themselves were created by human hands. She began to pray to the One God with tears, beseeching Him to reveal Himself. Her soul blazed with love for the Unknown God, and she intensified her prayer all the more, and combining with it fasting.

One time Christina had the visitation of an Angel, which instructed her in the true faith in Christ, the Saviour of the world. The Angel called her a bride of Christ and announced to her about her future act of suffering. The holy virgin smashed all the idols standing in her room and cast them out the window. In visiting his daughter Christina's father, Urban, asked her where all the idols had disappeared. Christina was silent. Then, having summoned the servants, Urban learned the truth from them. In a rage the father began to slap his daughter on the face. The holy virgin at first remained quiet, but then she revealed to her father about her faith in the One True God, and that by her own hands she had destroyed the idols. Urban then gave orders to kill all the servants in attendance upon his daughter, and he gave Christina a fierce beating and threw her in prison. Having learned about what had happened, the mother of Saint Christina came in tears, imploring her to renounce Christ and to return to her ancestral beliefs. But Christina remained unyielding. On another day Urban brought his daughter to trial and urged her to offer worship to the gods, to ask forgiveness for her misdeeds, but he saw instead her firm and steadfast confession of faith in Christ.

The torturers tied her to an iron wheel, beneathe which they set a fire. The body of the martyress, turning round on the wheel, was scorched from all sides. They then threw her in prison.

An Angel of God appeared at night, healing her from her wounds and strengthening her with food. Her father, in the morning seeing her unharmed, gave orders to drown her in the sea. But an Angel sustained the saint while the stone sank down, and Christina miraculously came out from the water and re-appeared before her father. In terror, the torturer imputed this to the doings of sorcery and he decided to execute her in the morning. But by night he himself suddenly died. Another governor, Dion, was sent in his place. He summoned the holy martyress and likewise tried to persuade her to renounce Christ, but seeing her unyielding firmness, he again subjected her to cruel tortures. The holy martyress was for a long while in prison. People began to throng to her, and she converted them to the true faith in Christ. Thus about 300 were converted.

In place of Dion, a new governor Julian arrived and anew set about the torture of the saint. After various tortures, Julian gave orders to throw her into a red-hot furnace and lock her in it. After five days they opened the furnace and found the martyress alive and unharmed. Seeing this miracle take place, many believed in Christ the Saviour, and the torturers executed Saint Christina with a sword.

The Holy Martyrs Nobleborn Princes Boris and Gleb, in Holy Baptism -- Roman and David (+ 1015): The account about them is located under 2 May.

The Child SchemaMonk Bogolep was the son of a Moscow nobleman Yakov Lukich Umakov and his wife Ekatarina. He was born in 1660 at Moscow. During Baptism they gave the new-born the name Boris, in honour of the holy nobleborn Prince PassionBearer ("Strastoterpets") Boris (Comm. 24 July).

Umakov was appointed voevoda (military-commander) in the city of Chernyi Yar, situated 250 versts from Astrakhan. He was known for his integrity. Boris from infancy displayed unusual traits. On Wednesdays and Fridays he would not suckle the milk from his mother's breasts; when the bells pealed at the church, he began to cry and at once became quiet, when they brought him into the church. When they did not take the infant to church, he cried all day and ate nothing.

In 1662 a deadly pestilence spread about in Russia. The child fell ill -- the pestilence afflicted him in the legs. He became lame, but continued to walk to church. The parents prayed about the health of their son and they tried everything in their power, that he would be healed. But no sooner had the one illness gone, than upon his face there appeared another, called scales.

One time during his illness the child saw a wandering monk, who visited at their home. The angelic garb so impressed the child, that he began to implore his parents to dew him suchlike garb and permit him to take monastic tonsure. Amidst this the holy lad proclaimed: "Lo, ye wilt see for yourselves, when ye tonsure and grant me the angelic garb, I shall be well". The parents consented. The child was invested in the schema with the name Bogolep (the Russian version of the Greek name Theoprepios, meaning -- "in the semblance of God"). On the next day the holy schema-monk was completely healthy, his face was clear and there remained not a trace of the illness. But on the third day there was a new illness, he was feverish, and it mortally struck down the lad. He died on 1 August 1667 and was buried at the left wall of the wooden Chernoyarsk church in honour of the Resurrection of Christ. (This church was erected, following a great conflagration in Chernyi Yar, in the year 1652 on 24 July, the day of memory of Saint Boris). Over the grave of the lad was built a chapel.

Numerous miracles of healing through the prayers of the holy SchemaMonk Bogolep appear to be the basis of establishing the feastday to him on his name-day in common ("tezoimenitstvo") with the holy nobleborn Prince Boris -- 24 July.

The life of the holy SchemaMonk Bogolep was compiled under a vow by the Chernoyarsk merchant Savva Tatarinov during the years 1731-1732.

Icons of the saint, with the tropar and kondak to him, were widely dispersed throughout the Astrakhan region.

In 1750 on the place of the wooden church was built a stone church with a side altar in honour of the holy Martyr John the Warrior. The grave of the holy schema monk was enclosed in this side-altar. The bank of the river, at which the church of the Resurrection of Christ was situated, was constantly eroding. By the mid XIX Century the structure of the church was threatened, and they removed all the holy things from it. But for a long time the Chernoyarsk people did not remove the chief holy thing -- the grave of the holy schema-monk. Finally, in 1851 when the water had already approached 2 arshin [4 ft. 8 in.], the people recoursed to the MostHoly Synod with a request to transfer the holy remains of the Schema-Monk Bogolep, and they received permission for this. The small child's coffin was laid bare, but just when the city head took it into his hands, it slid out from his hands and together with the crumbled earth it disappeared into the waters of the Volga.

This disappearance just at the opening of the grave was accepted as happening at the Will of God, since the holy lad had repeatedly appeared to many either in sleep, or awake while walking along the river bank or coming down the hill. Amidst this he gave the consolation, that spiritually he would be present with believers.

The simple life, but full of the mysteries of God, of the holy Schema-Monk Bogolep manifests the power of the words of the Saviour concerning children: "Let the children come unto Me and hinder them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God. Truly I tell ye: whoso cometh not to the Kingdom of God as a little child, shalt not enter therein. And, having hugged them, He raised His hands over them and He blessed them" (Mk. 10: 14?16).

© 1999 by translator Fr S Janos



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