July 29th (VIII - 11)
Icon of the Martyr Kallinikos and Martyress Theodota
Martyr Callinikos (III-IV). Martyress Seraphima the Virgin (II). Martyress Theodotia and her Three Children (+ 304). MonkMartyr Michael (IX). Martyrs: Mamant; Basiliskos; UnNamed Spouses with Two Children; Alexander and Theodotia; Benjamin and Birias. Sainted Constantine, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 677). Nobleborn Emperor Theodosius the New (408-450). Martyr Eustathios of Mtskheta (+ 589). Monks Konstantin and Kosma of Kosinsk, Starorussk (XIII). Monk Roman of Kirzhachsk (+ 1392).
The Holy Martyr Callinikos (III-IV), a native of Cilicia, was raised from childhood in the Christian faith. In grief that many misguided people would perish for eternity in their worshipping of idols, he went through the cities and villages to proclaim Jesus Christ and His teachings to the pagans. With the Word of God he converted many to Christianity. In the Galatian city of Ancyra the holy confessor was arrested and brought to trial before a governor named Sacerdonus, a fierce persecutor of Christians. The governor, threatening martyrdom and death, ordered the saint to offer sacrifice to the idols. But the saint fearlessly declared that he was not afraid of martyrdom, since every believer in Christ receives from Him strength in ordeals, and through death inherits an eternal blessed life. They cruelly beat the saint with ox thongs and tore at his body with iron hooks, but he endured everything with patience and calm. This led to a still greater fury in Sacerdonus, and he commanded to shod the saint in sandals with sharp nails within, and that with whips they should drive the martyr to the city of Gangra for burning. The pathway was arduous, and the soldiers who accompanied the condemned man, were weak from thirst. In despair they began to implore the saint, that he beseech the Lord for saving water. The unassuming saint, taking pity on his tormentors, with the help of God drew forth from a stone a miraculous spring of water. The astonished soldiers were pervaded with a sense of sympathy for their rescuer and they wanted even to set him free, but fear of execution compelled them to convey the martyr further. In Gangra Saint Callinikos, with joy having offered up thanks to the Lord, Who had vouchsafed him the crown of martyrdom, went himself into the blazing bonfire and gave up his soul to God. His body, remaining unharmed, was reverently given burial by believers.
The Monks Konstantin and Kosma were monastic students of the Monk Varlaam of Khutynsk (+ 1192, Comm. 6 November) and his successor, the Monk Antonii of Dymsk (+ 1224, Comm. 17 January). In about the year 1220, having left the Khutynsk monastery, they settled upon a wilderness peninsula, situated 3 versts from the city of Staraya Russa, between the Rivers Polista and Smezhnya, and in time they founded there a monastery in the name of Saint Nicholas, headed by the Monk Konstantin until his death (+ c. 1240).
The Monk Kosma continued with the exploits of his mentor. He was buried in the same grave with the Monk Konstantin. Their bodies rest beneathe the vestibule of the Nikolaev church, built in 1820 upon the place of burial of the saints.
The Holy Martyress Seraphima the Virgin, a native of Antioch, lived at Rome during the reign of the emperor Adrian (117-138) with the illustrious Roman Sabina, whom the saint converted to Christianity. During the persecution against Christians begun by order of the emperor, the governor Berillus gave orders to bring Saint Seraphima to trial. Desirous for the crown of martyrdom from the Lord, at the first summons she fearlessly went to the executioner. The devoted Sabina accompanied her. Catching sight of the illustrious lady, Berillus at first set free the maiden, but after several days he again summoned Saint Seraphima and began the trial.
The governor bid the saint honour the pagan gods and offer them sacrifice, but she boldly confessed her faith in the One True God -- Jesus Christ. Then Berillus gave her over to two shameless youths to defile her. The holy martyress besought the Lord to defend her. Suddenly there began an earthquake and the two youths fell crippled to the floor. On the following day the governor learned, that his plan had failed. Thinking, that the saint was an adept at sorcery, Berillus besought her to return the youths to health and the gift of speech, in order that they themselves might report about the miracle. The saint, praying to the Lord, ordered the youths to stand up, and they at once rose up and told the judge, that an Angel of the Lord had shielded the saint, and prohibited them from approaching her. The fierce governor did not believe his servants and he continued to urge Saint Seraphima to offer sacrifice to the idols. But the holy martyress remained unyielding even then, when they scorched at her with burning candles and mercilessly beat her with canes. Harsh punishment overtook the pitiless governor: chips from the sticks, which the saint was beaten with, caught him in the eyes, and after three days the tormentor went blind. Powerless before the unyielding Christian, the judge ordered her beheaded. Sabina with reverence buried the body of her holy teacher.
The Holy Martyress Theodotia and her Three Young Children lived during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). She was a Christian, a native of the city of Nicea Bithynia. Having been widowed, Saint Theodotia led a pious manner of life and raised her sons in the Christian faith. She was in spiritual friendship with Saint Anastasia the Alleviatrix-of-Captives (Comm. 22 December). When the persecution against Christians began, they arrested the holy women. At the trial, the dignitary Leucadius was captivated by the beautiful Theodotia and he decided to take her home with him, intending to marry her. Finding herself with her children in the home of Leucadius, Saint Theodotia kept herself in purity, yielding neither to inducements nor charms, nor threats by the pagan. Angered at the steadfastness of the saint, Leucadius sent her off with her children to Bithynia, to the district governor Niketas. At the interrogation, when the judge began to threaten her with torture, Saint Theodotia's eldest son Evodus said, that Christians fear not tortures, but fear instead being forsaken by God. They cruelly beat the boy before the eyes of his mother, such that he began to flow with blood. Saint Theodotia prayed, that the Lord would strengthen her son in his sufferings, and rejoiced in that he was being vouchsafed a martyr's end for truth. They gave Saint Theodotia over for defilement, but the Lord preserved her. Before the eyes of everyone occurred a miracle: an Angel of the Lord blocked the path for defilement, holding back everyone from approaching the saint. Imputing it to a work of sorcery, the judge sentenced the saint and her children to burning in a bon-fire (+ 304).
The memory of the holy Martyrs Theodotia, the Lad Evodus and her other two small sons is celebrated also under 22 December, together with the memory of Saint Anastasia the Alleviatrix-of-Captives.
The MonkMartyr Michael, a disciple of Saint Theodore of Edessa (Comm. 9 July), was beheaded during the IX Century for his confession of faith in Christ. His memory is celebrated also on 23 May.
The Holy Martyr Eustathios of Mtskheta was descended from a long line of Persian fire-worshipping pagan priests, and prior to Baptism he had the name Bgrobandaves. His father and brothers, serving in the Zoroastrian cult, attempted to make a pagan priest of Bgrobandaves, but in vain. During the reign of the Gruzian (Georgian) emperor Guram Kuropalat (575-600), at age 30 he resettled from the Persian village of Arbuketi (near the city of Gandrakili) to the ancient capital of Gruzia, the city Mtskheta. He earned the means of his livelihood in the sandal trade. Saint Eustathios began often to visit the Mtskheta cathedral, where the Christian Divine-services filled his soul with an inexorable delight. Archdeacon Samuel (the future Katholikos-Archbishop Samuel IV, 582-591), having noticed the spiritual proclivity of the Persian pagan, spoke with him about the Christian teachings. Having then come to believe in Christ, Bgrobandaves accepted to be a catechumen under Archdeacon Samuel, and after a certain while, when Samuel became Katholikos, he accepted Baptism under him with the name Eustathios. Eustathios then married a Christian wife, and led a pious life, abundant in virtue.
Fellow Persians, living also at Mtskheta, were unable to sway Saint Eustathios into a return to fire-worship, and so they persuaded the Persian head of the city to have him sent to Tbilisi to Arvand-Gubnav, satrap (vicar) of the Persian shah Chosroes Nushirvanes. Dispatched to trial under the satrap together with Saint Eustathios were likewise other Persians, who had accepted Christianity: Gubnak, Bagdad, Panaguznas, Perozav, Zarmi and Stephen. Two of these, Bagdad and Panaguznas, under the fear of death, renounced Christ.
Saint Eustathios and the remaining confessors honourably underwent a six-month imprisonment and through the intercession of the Katholikos Samuel IV and a Gruzian notable, they were set free.
The new satrap of Persia, Bezhan-Buzmil (appointed to Tbilisi three years later), at the instigation of the former enemies of Saint Eustathios, gave orders that he appear, and demanded that he renounce the faith in Christ and return to fire-worship. Saint Eustathios gave a dignified reply: "Can one forsake the Creator of all and worship but a creature of His? Never should this be! Neither the sun, the moon or the stars are in essence gods, but rather God did create the sun for brightening the day, and the moon and the stars, that they might shine in the darkness of night... And fire is not the Divinity; wherefore fire is produced by man and by man it is extinguished". By order of the satrap, Saint Eustathios was beheaded on 29 July 589. Before accepting the crown of martyrdom, on bended knee he offered up a prayer, beseeching the Lord, that after death his body be given Christian burial in the city of Mtsketa. The passion-bearer heard the Voice: "With nothing wilt thou be less than the first martyrs, neither with grace nor with healings, wherefore about thine body be not concerned, but it shalt be, as thou hast requested".
The body of Saint Eustathios, cast out by night upon a field, was conveyed by Christians to Mtskheta and with great honour placed by Katholikos Samuel IV beneathe the altar-table of the cathedral of Svetitskhoveli. The Katholikos Samuel IV established the memory to him on 29 July, the day of the glorious death of the holy martyr.
The Monk Roman of Kirzhachsk was a co-ascetic and student of the Monk Sergei, Hegumen of Radonezh (Comm. 25 September and 5 July). The Monks Sergei and Roman in the forests of Vladimir governance at the River Kirzhach built there a church in honour of the Annunciation of the MostHoly Mother of God, and established a new monastery (in 1371). Three years later, with the blessing of Saint Alexei, Metropolitan of Moscow (Comm. 12 February), the Monk Sergei returned to the Troitsky-Trinity monastery, and the Monk Roman remained to head the newly-created wilderness monastery.
Ordained to the priestly dignity by Saint Alexei, the new head of the Annunciation monastery with great zeal fulfilled the precepts of his spiritual father and teacher -- the Monk Sergei. A zealous ascetic, a good and demanding instructor, the Monk Roman was an example for all the brethren.
The saint died on 29 July 1392 and was buried in the Annunciation temple. In the manuscripts of the Saints, the Monk Roman is numbered amongst the Saints and is called a wonderworker.
© 2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos