July 31st (VIII - 13)
Icon of Righteous Eudocimos and St. Joseph of Arimathaea
Prefeast of the Procession of the Venerable and Life-Creating Cross of the Lord. Righteous Joseph of Arimathea (I). Righteous Eudokimos the Cappadocian (IX). Martyrs: Julitta (304-305); Gelasios; Anthony and George; 12 Roman Martyrs. Saint John, Exarch of Bulgaria (IX-X). Monk Prince Stephen. Sainted Arsenios, Bishop of Ninotsminda (+ 1082).
Righteous Eudokimos, a native of Cappadocia (Asia Minor), lived during the IX Century during the reign of emperor Theophilos (829-842). He was the son of the pious Christians Basil and Eudokia, an illustrious family and known to the emperor. The righteous life of Saint Eudokimos was totally guided towards pleasing God and service to neighbour. Having given a vow to remain unmarried and chaste, he avoided conversation with women and did not look at them; only with his own mother whom he extremely respected did he carry on edifying conversation. For his virtuous life the emperor appointed Saint Eudokimos as governor of the Kharsian district. Fulfilling his duty as a servant of God, Righteous Eudokimos governed the people justly and with kindness, he concerned himself over the misfortunate, and about orphans and widows, and he was a defender of the common people. His personal Christian exploits which he did in secret, were known only to God.
Eudokimos pleased God by his blameless life, and the Lord called him at age 33. Laying on his death-bed, Saint Eudokimos gave final instructions to place him in the grave in those clothes in which he would meet death. Then he sent everyone out of the room and besought the Lord in prayer, that no one would see his end, just as no one saw his secret efforts during life. His attendants buried him as he had instructed them. Right after the death of Righteous Eudokimos miracles happened at his grave, many sick people were healed, and the news about the miracles of healing spread about.
After 18 months the mother of Saint Eudokimos came to venerate the relics, from Constantinople, whither his parents had settled after the death of the saint. She gave orders to remove the stone, dig up the ground, open the grave, and everyone beheld the face of the saint, bright as though alive, altogether untouched by decay. Great fragrance came from him. They took up the coffin with the relics from the earth, and they changed the saint into new clothes. His mother wanted to take the relics of her son to Constantinople, but the Kharsian people would not clear a path for their holy one. But after a certain while the priest-monk Joseph, having lived and served at the grave of the saint, transported all the relics of Saint Eudokimos to Constantinople. There they were placed in a silver reliquary in the church of the MostHoly Mother of God, built by the parents of the saint.
Righteous Eudokimos is considered in the Russian Church to be one of the special protectors and intercessors before God of the family hearth.
The Holy Martyress Julitta lived at Caesarea Cappadocia during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). A certain pagan pilfered all her property, and when Julitta turned for relief to the courts, her antagonist reported to the judge that she was a Christian. the judge demanded the saint to renounce Christ, for which he promised to restore justice and return to her the unlawfully taken property. Saint Julitta resolutely refused the deceitful conditions, and for this she was burnt in a bon-fire in the year 304 (or 305). Sainted Basil the Great devoted his Praiseworthy Discourse to Saint Julitta 70 years after her death as a martyr.
Righteous Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. As a member of the Sanhedrin he did not participate in the "counsel and deed" of the Jews in passing a death sentence for Jesus Christ. After the Crucifixion and Death of the Saviour he made bold to go to Pilate and demand of him the Body of the Lord, to Which he gave burial with the help of Righteous Nicodemus, who was likewise a secret disciple of the Lord. They took down from the Cross the Body of the Saviour, wrapped it in a winding-cloth or plaschanitsa, and placed it in a new-hewn tomb, in which no one earlier had been buried (this tomb Saint Joseph had prepared previously for himself) -- in the Garden of Gethsemane, in the presence of the Mother of God and the holy Myrh-Bearing Women. Having rolled an heavy stone before the entrance of the tomb, they then departed (Jn. 19: 37-42; Mt. 27: 57-61; Mk. 15: 43-47; Lk. 24: 50-56).
Saint Joseph died peacefully in Anglium (England).
© 2000 by translator Fr. S. Janos