June 10th (VI - 23)
Icon of the Martyrs Alexander, Antonina, and Saint Pansemna
PriestMartyr Timothy, Bishop of Prussa (+ c. 361-363). Monk Siluan, Pechersk SchemaMonk, in the Farther Caves (XIII-XIV). Sainted Vasilii (Basil), Bishop of Ryazan (Uncovering of Relics, 1609). Sainted John, Metropolitan of Tobol'sk (+ 1715). Martyrs Alexander and Antonina the Virgin (+ c. 313). Martyr Neaniskos. Monk Theophanes of Antioch and Saint Pansemna (+ 369). Sainted Vassian, Bishop of Laudia (+ 409). Monk Canides of Cappadocia (+ post 460). Monk Apollos the Bishop and Sainted Alexis, Bishop of Bithynia. Saint Nikon.
The PriestMartyr Timothy, Bishop of Prussa (Bithynia), received from the Lord the gift of wonderworking because of his purity and sanctity of life. At Prussa he converted many pagans to the faith in Christ. The emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363), upon hearing about Saint Timothy had him locked up in prison, but even there also the saint continued to preach the Gospel. Julian forbade him to anymore teach about the Name of Jesus Christ, but the saint continued to spread about the Christian faith. Finally, the emperor gave orders to behead the saint. The holy relics of the saint were afterwards transferred to Constantinople.
The Monk Siluan, Kievo-Pechersk SchemaMonk, asceticised in the Farther Caves during the XIII-XIV Centuries. One time, by the power of his prayer, he held fast to the spot robbers, who had come into the monastery garden, and for three days they were not able to move. When they repented, the monk then freed them. The memory of the Monk Siluan is celebrated also on 28 August and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Uncovering and Transfer of the Holy Relics of Sainted Vasilii (Basil), Bishop of Ryazan (Comm. 3 July), was done by the Ryazan archbishop Theodorit (1605-1617). It pleased Divine Providence during the Time of Troubles to glorify Saint Vasilii: on 10 July 1609 occurred the uncovering of his relics and their transfer into the Uspenie-Dormition (afterwards Nativity) church in the Kremlin of Ryazan-Pereslavl', which from the time of the Ryazan bishop Jona II (1522-1547) had been the cathedral church. The relics of Saint Vasilii were placed beneathe a reliquary at the left kleros-choir, alongside the iconostas. A tropar and kondak were then compiled. From that time the name of Sainted Vasilii was "commemorated throughout all the churches of the Ryazan diocese". They recoursed to him as to "their constant intercessor, an helper in sorrow and peril". Under archbishop Moisei (1638-1651), a stone crypt in 1638 was built over the relics of Saint Vasilii, and over it was put the Murom Image of the MostHoly Mother of God -- "the Supplication of Vasilii". It is known that during this period moliebens to Saint Vasilii were made in the Ryazan churches. On 10 June 1645 under archbishop Moisei was the first solemn celebration of the transfer of the relics of the saint. Especially fervent in veneration of the Ryazan sainted-hierarch was archbishop Misail (1651-1655). By his command in 1653 was made a superscription upon a large silver water-consecrating cup: "This cup be of Ryazan Pereslav, in the cathedral church of the Uspenie and the holy Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb, and our father among the saints Vasilii, Bishop of Ryazan, Wonderworker".
In 1655 Sainted Vasilii was depicted upon a silver cross together with Saint John the Forerunner and Sainted Jona, Metropolitan of Moscow. In 1712 during the time of the metropolitan Stefan Yavorsky, there was constructed over the place of the original burial of Saint Vasilii, -- at the Borisoglebsk church, a chapel in stone, through the zeal of the clerk-copyist Nikita Altukhov. In the years 1722-1723 under emperor Peter I there was conducted a formal investigation about the saint, after which Saint Vasilii was imaged upon an icon together with other Russian saints. The Novgorod metropolitan Dimitrii (Sechenov) during a stayover as bishop of Ryazan (1752-1757) compiled the service to Saint Vasilii: "having first of all in mind the writing of the tropar, kondak and kanon". And indeed through his efforts was made over the relics of Saint Vasilii a new crypt in the likeness of a reliquary with an icon of the saint. In 1782 the reliquary over the relics of Saint Vasilii was elegantly adorned by the archbishop of Ryazan of Zaraisk, Simon (Lagova) (1778-1804). In 1810 under the Ryazan and Zaraisk archbishop Theophylakt (Rusanov), there was promulgated an ukaz-decree of the Holy Synod about the celebrating of Sainted Vasilii on the Sunday of All Saints. On 4 October 1836 a new memorial was unveiled at the spot of the uncovering of the relics of Saint Vasilii, having been erected through the zeal of the churchwarden of the Borisoglebsk church, Simeon Panov. In 1871 archbishop Alexei (Rzhanitsky, 1867-1876) for his first time served the Divine Liturgy at the Borisoglebsk church on the feastday of Saint Vasilii, 3 July. Under archbishop Palladii (Raev, 1876-1882) by ukaz-decree of the Holy Synod in 1881 were declared the days for commemoration of Saint Vasilii to be: 3 July -- the day of his blessed repose, and 10 June -- the day of the transfer of his holy relics. Even at present Saint Vasilii is especially venerated in the Ryazan lands. In each temple of the Ryazan diocese there is his icon, and in the majority of the churches, moreover -- a wall-mural depiction of the saint, sailing along on the water on his mantle with the Murom Icon of the Mother of God in hand. In the cathedral church each Wednesday evening there is made the singing of an akathist to him.
Sainted John, Metropolitan of Tobol'sk and All Siberia, the Wonderwonder, in the world was named Ioann Maksimovich, and he was born in the city of Nezhino in 1651. His father Maksim Vasil'evich and mother Evphrosynia had a total of seven sons, of which John was the eldest. Upon his completion of the Kievo-Mogilyansk College (afterwards transformed into the Kiev Spiritual Academy), the future hierarch emerged from it as a teacher of the Latin language. Thereafter, in 1680, he accepted monasticism at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery and became absorbed in the deed of inner activity. With the general consent of the brethren, the young monk was entrusted the responsible obedience of preaching. From this period of time there was revealed in him an exceptional talent of eloquence and graced abilities. He attached an especial significance to inward religious self-knowledge. The chief theme of his life can be defined at a stroke as: "How ought man to conform his will with the will of God?" He developed this theme both in his preachings, and in his subsequent missionary service. In answer to it appeared the work, published towards the end of his long ascetic life, and entitled: "Iliotropion " (the "Heliotropion" or "Sun-Flower" -- a sun-turning plant), or the Conforming of the Human Will with the Divine Will". Of the great many works from the holy fathers of the Orthodox Church, this work gives most fully an answer to this great question of Christian soteriology.
In 1658 they dispatched him on a mission to Moscow. There he was appointed by Patriarch Joakim (1674-1690) as vicar of the Bryansk Svensk monastery, which was then under the Kievo-Pechersk Lavra.
Sainted Theodosii, Archbishop of Chernigov, in 1695 shortly before his own end (+ 1696, Comm. 5 February) appointed Priest-monk John as archimandrite of the Chernigov Eletsk monastery, and designated him as his successor for the cathedra-seat. (Saint John revered the memory of Saint Theodosii, believing in the power of his prayerful intercession before the Lord, and through his faith he received a graced healing from serious illness through the prayers of Saint Theodosii. At the very height of the sickness, Saint Theodosii appeared to him and said: "Serve thou tomorrow -- thou wilt be well". On the following day Saint John, completely well and to the amazement of everyone, served out the Divine Liturgy. And this miracle of the healing of Saint John marked the beginning of the veneration of Saint Theodosii as a grace-bearing saint of God.)
On 10 January 1697 the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus Adrian (1690-1700) with a sobor of bishops ordained Archimandrite John as Bishop of Chernigov, in the great Uspensky-Dormition cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin.
Upon entering into the guidance of the diocese, Bishop John created nearby the archbishop's cathedral a Collegium, similar to the Kiev Academy, which the saint intended should serve as an "Athens at Chernigov" -- a school of pious enlightenment.
In view of its high level of theological education and training, the school of Saint John received wide reknown. And in essence, this was the first seminary in Russia, on the model of which there began opening spiritual seminaries in other dioceses of the Russian Church.
The saint also later opened a printing press, at which he and his successors published many works of spiritual-moral content.
The life of Saint John was illumined by lofty virtues, and especially humility. It is reflected also in his works: "The Moral -Didactic Reflector" (Chernigov, 1703 and 1707); "The Alphabet, with Rhymes Added" (1705); "The Virgin Mother of God" (1707); "The Theatron-Theatre, or Moral-Didactic Disgrace" (1708); "Excursus on Psalm 50" (Chernigov, 1708); "Excursus on the "Our Father" and "The Eight Gospel Beatitudes" (1709); "The Royal Way of the Cross" (Chernigov, 1709); "Thoughts on God to the Benefit of Right-Belief" (1710 and 1711); "Synaxarion Commemoration on the Victory of Poltava" (1710); "The Pilgrim" (in manuscript); "Spiritual Thoughts" (Moscow, 1782).
At Chernigov in 1714 the saint also first published his chief work, written in the Latin language. (A peculiarity of the graduates of the Kiev school was this, -- that they wrote their works in classical Latin. Professor I. A. Maksimovich in 1888 translated the "Iliotropion" into the modern Russian language and published it at first in parts in the "Chernigov Diocesan Newsletter", and later on in a separate book -- Kiev, 1896). With his name is connected also "The Latin-Greek-Russian Lexicon".
Saint John was known to have connections with Holy Mount Athos. He had an especially warm interest in the fate of Russian inhabitants on the Holy Mountain, and rendered them substantial material aid during these difficult years. His archbishopal grammota-document to the Russian Panteleimonov monastery has been preserved, and it testifies to his concern for those on Holy Mount Athos.
On 14 August 1711, after his elevation to the dignity of metropolitan, Saint John arrived at the cathedra-seat of Tobol'sk and All Siberia. The saint concerned himself constantly with the enlightening of his diocese. And there also he continued with his work, started at Chernigov: he improved the school, which had been opened by his predecessor, the reknown missionary metropolitan Philothei (Leschinsky, + 1727), and he continued the apostolic preaching among the pagans of Siberia, converting many thousands to Christ. In 1714 Saint John set off to Peking in heading a mission with archimandrite Ilarion (Lezhaisky). At Tobol'sk he again undertook publishing activity, using the printing press set up by him at Chernigov. To this time period belongs also the publishing by Metropolitan John of the "Iliotropion" in the Slavonic-Russian language (1714), so that the Siberians likewise should understand it.
About the life of the saint in Siberia the chronicler reports: "He was quiet and unpretentious, graciously considerate, sympathetic to the poor, and merciful". He often helped people. Secretly, and sometimes in the garb of a simple monk, he would bring to the home of the needy generous alms with the words: "Accept this in the Name of Jesus Christ". His home at Tobol'sk was always open for all those in need of help or word of comfort. Even on the day he died, 10 June 1715, after Divine Liturgy -- as was his custom even earlier, Saint John had set up at his home a dining-hall for the clergy and the impoverished, and he himself served at table. Later on, having taken his leave of everyone, the saint withdrew to his chambers and at the time of the church-bells for Vespers he died at prayer, on his knees. The saint was buried in the chapel of Saint John Chrysostom at the Tobol'sk Uspenie-Sophia cathedral.
Saint John has long been venerated in Siberia. In light of numerous miracles and the longstanding local veneration of the memory of Saint John, in the year 1916 the Church established the all-Russian celebration for the day of repose of the saint to God -- 10 June.
The memory of Saint John is fervently kept by Siberians and by all the believing Russian people. He at present rests in the Tobol'sk cathedral of the Pokrov-Protection of the Mother of God. The service to him was republished, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Alexei, by metropolitan Vartholomei (Gorodtsov) in 1947 at the city of Novosibirsk.
The Holy Martyrs Alexander and Antonina the Virgin: Saint Antonina hailed from the city of Krodamna (Asia Minor). For being a Christian they brought her before the governor named Fistus, who urged her to worship the pagan gods, promising to bestow upon her the esteemed title of priestess of the goddess Artemis. But the saint bravely confessed Christ and she urged the governor to renounce the worship of demons in the form of idols. Fistus gave orders to strike the saint on the face and lock her up in prison. The martyress spent all her time at prayer, she ate and drank nothing, but then she heard the voice of God: "Antonina, fortify thineself with food and be brave. For I am with thee". When they again led her before the governor, the martyress continued firmly to stand up for the Christian faith and to denounce the pagans. The governor decided to give the holy virgin over for defilement by soldiers, but the Lord inspired one of them, Saint Alexander by name, to save the martyress. He sought permission to go in to the virgin, on the pretense that he might sway her to fulfill the will of the governor. Saint Alexander then suggested that the martyress don his military attire and flee. Saint Antonina was afraid, but the Lord ordered her to agree. Having put on the garb of a soldier, and recognised by no one, she emerged from her imprisonment. The soldiers sent by Fistus found Saint Alexander alone. To the questions of the governor he answered not a word, and he was given over for torture and mercilessly beaten. Through the inspiration of the Lord Jesus Christ, Saint Antonina also came to stand before Fistus. For the both of them they cut off their hands, they then smeared them with pitch and threw them into a pit, where a fire was burning. When the fire went out, they threw snakes into the pit, so that Christians should not be able to gather up the bones of the martyrs. Returning homewards, Fistus became numb, and was able neither to eat nor to drink, and after seven days of terrible torments he died. The holy Martyrs Alexander and Antonina died on 3 May 313. But in the Prologue their memory is placed under 10 June. The relics of the saints were transferred to Constantinople and placed in the Maximov monastery.
The Monk Theophanes of Antioch was the son of pagans. At a youthful age he entered into marriage, but after three years his wife died. Saint Theophanes then came to believe in Christ, he accepted Baptism, he gave up everything and began to live out beyond the city in the manner of the Gospel self-denial. He zealously taught the keeping of the commandments of God to everyone that came to him, he exhorted in particular about leading a life pure and chaste, and he denounced the debauchery of the people of Antioch. When the Monk Theophanes learned about a certain profligate woman, Pansemna by name, very much caught up in the snares of the devil, he very much wanted to save her. Knowing how difficult it would be to fulfill such an ascetic deed, and conscious of his own infirmity, the Monk Theophanes long prayed and he besought the Lord, that the Lord might send unto him His help to save the sinful woman. Finally, the saint dressed himself up in fine clothing, from his father he took along much gold and then went forth to Pansemna. The monk gave her the gold and he besought her to forsake the dissolute life and leave it to marry him. Pansemna happily consented and gave him her word to become his wife. The sole condition, which the Monk Theophanes set for Pansemna, was that she should accept Baptism. Because of the attractive marriage offer, Pansemna consented. In preparing her for the acceptance of Baptism, Saint Theophanes instructed her in the Christian faith, and he explained, that the truth of God does not tolerate sin and corruption, but that the love of God is gracious to those that repent. Having accepted Baptism, Saint Pansemna by the grace of God was completely reborn as a person. She distributed on God-pleasing matters everything, that she had acquired through profligacy, and she settled into an hut alongside the cell of the monk and began to live the life of an ascetic. And after 22 months she died on the very same day as the monk (+ 369).
Sainted Vassian, Bishop of Laudia, was a friend of Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Mediolanum-Milan (+ 397, Comm. 7 December). The father of Saint Vassian governed the Syracuse region (in Sicily) and he prepared his son to follow in his footsteps. He sent him to Rome to receive his education. While still in his childhood Saint Vassian had heard about the Christians and he wanted to know more about them and become familiar with the Christian faith. Presbyter Gordian taught him the essentials of the Christian faith, and the youth was filled with the desire to accept Baptism. At the time of the performing of the sacrament Saint Vassian beheld an Angel in the Baptismal font, holding the garb, in which the newly-baptised would be clothed. The saint made bold to ask, who he was and from where. The Angel replied, that he was sent from afar to help him fulfill his holy intent to know Christ, and then he became invisible.
Saint Vassian began to lead a strict life, he partook little of food, and nights he spent at prayer. His servants were astonished at such temperance, and they surmised, that he had accepted Christianity. They reported about this to the father of Saint Vassian, who then ordered him to return to Syracuse. Praying in the church of Saint John the Theologian, the saint received from the apostle the command to leave from Rome. And so Saint Vassian distributed all his substance to the poor and together with his faithful Christian servant he set off to Ravenna to his kinsman, bishop Ursus.
Bishop Ursus set him up at a solitary place outside the city near the church in honour of the PriestMartyr Apollinarius. Saint Vassian quite quickly advanced spiritually, and soon he was glorified by miracles. During this time a judge had been falsely accused and was sentenced to death by execution. Along the way to execution he prayerfully called out for help to Saint Vassian. When the executioner was already holding the sword up over his head, the sword suddenly was knocked from the grip of his hands and flew off to the side. This occurred three times. And the same thing happened with another executioner. When they reported about this to the emperor, the emperor set free the judge, who then told how he had been saved through the intercession of Saint Vassian.
The people of the city, believing that the prayer of Saint Vassian was powerful before God, besought bishop Ursus to ordain him to the dignity of presbyter. Upon the death of the bishop of the city of Lodium (Laudia, in Liguria, Northern Italy), a presbyter of the cathedral church by the name of Clement had a revelation -- that Saint Vassian would be chosen bishop of Lodium. Both Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Mediolanum-Milan, and bishop Ursus officiated at the laying on of hands at the ordination.
Saint Vassian taught the people not only by word, but also by deed, providing his flock example of a virtuous life. At Lodium he built up a beautiful church in the name of the holy Apostles. Saint Vassian often exchanged letters with Saint Ambrose, and he was present at the blessed end of the saint and gave burial to his body.
Saint Vassian died peacefully in the year 430, having served in the dignity of archbishop for 35 years.
© 2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos