June 15th (VI - 28)
Icon of Saint Augustine. Prophet Amos, and Saint Jerome
The Holy Prophet Amos (VIII Century B. C.). Sainted Jona, Metropolitan of Moscow and Wonderworker of All Russia (+ 1461). Sainted Michael, First Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus' (+ 992). Monks Gregory and Kassian of Avnezh (+ 1392). Sainted Simeon, ArchBishop of Novogorod (+ 1421). The Disciple Stephen (I). Martyrs: Doulos of Cilicia (+ c. 305-311); Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia the Nursemaid (+ c. 303); Narsos (Nerses); Grausa (an eldress); Theodorites. Monks: Ortesios (+ 380); Doulos the Passion-Bearer, of Egypt; Blessed Jerome of Stridona (+ 420) and Blessed Augustine of Ipponesia (Hippo) (+ 430). Monk Theodore Sikeotes, Bishop of Anasiupolis (Transfer of Relics not later than IX Century). Nobleborn Prince Lazar (Lazarus) of Serbia (+ 1389). Sainted Ephrem, Patriarch of Serbia (+ 1400).
The Holy Prophet Amos, third of the 12 Lesser Prophets, lived during the VIII Century before the Birth of Christ. At this time the Hebrew nation was divided into two kingdoms: the Judean and the Israelite. The Judean king Hosiah ruled in Jerusalem, but the 10 separated Israelite tribes were ruled by Jeroboam II, an idol-worshipper. At Bethel he set up an idol in the form of a golden calf, which they worshipped, having rejected the True God of the Israelites.
The Prophet Amos was a Judean, native to the city of Thekui. Simple and untaught, but strongly fervent of faith and zealous for the glory of the True God -- the shepherd was chosen by the Lord for prophetic service and sent to the Israelite kingdom for the purpose of denouncing the impiety of King Jeroboam, and the Israelites for falling away from God. The prophet predicted for them a great misfortune, which would befall the Israelite kingdom, and the pagan nations surrounding it, for their impiety. Because of his denunciations, the Prophet Amos repeatedly suffered beatings and torture. But he again returned to Bethel, and threatening inevitable misfortunes, he continued to call the Israelites to repentance. The pagan-priest Amasiah of the idolatrous temple in particular hated the prophet. The prophet predicted for him and all his household a speedy destruction and for this he was subjected to a beating. The son of Amasiah, Hosiah, struck the saint on the head with a club and seriously wounded him. The Prophet Amos, still alive, reached his native village and there he died in about the year 787 before the Birth of Christ.
Sainted Jona, Metropolitan of Moscow and Wonderworker of All Russia (+ 31 March 1461) -- the account about him is located under 31 March.
Sainted Michael, First Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus' (+ 15 June 992). The account about him is located under 30 September.
The Monks Gregory and Kassian of Avnezh pursued asceticism at the River Sukhona in the Vologda land. On 15 June 1392 they died as martyrs at Avnezh monastery during an incursion by Tatars. The relics of the monk-martyrs were uncovered in the year 1524. In 1560, with the blessing of Makarii, -- Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia (+ 1564), the hegumen of Makrisch monastery Varlaam composed an account about the sanctity of the monk-martyrs.
About the Holy Disciple Stephen the Holy Apostle Paul recollects in the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 16: 15-18). The Apostle Paul wrote: "I am joyful in the arrival of Stephen, Fortunatus and Achaecus: they have made up for me your deficiencies, wherefore they have set at rest both my spirit and your spirit. Respect such".
The Holy Martyr Doulos was a pious christian from the city of Praetoriada. At the height of a persecution against Christians under Maximian (305-313) they arrested him and sent him to trial under the Cilicia district governor Maximus. Before the beginning of the trial the saint firmly besought the Lord to grant him the power of words for a denunciation of idol-worship.
At the interrogations the holy martyr bravely confessed Christ and forcefully denounced the false religion of the pagans and their gods with their shameful human vices and passions. The governor tried to confute his faith in Christ, but he was not able to resist against the grace-given words of Saint Doulos. The governor flew into a rage, tortured him without pity and after interrogation dispatched him back into prison. At each new interrogation the saint appeared strong in spirit and body, prepared for new torture. At the final interrogation for Saint Doulos, they broke his lower jaw, they broke his knees, and they bound him to the chariot of the governor and dragged him about. In this manner of suffering the holy martyr died, having signed himself with the sign of the cross.
They untied his body from the chariot and threw it into the river. The river current carried the remains of the holy Martyr Doulos to his native city right up to shore. Dogs of shepherds discovered the holy body. One of them sat and guarded the body of the holy martyr from birds, and another brought in its teeth a shepherd's robe and covered up the body of the saint. The shepherds led christians to the body of the holy Martyr Doulos, who then made the burial.
The Holy Martyrs Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia the Nursemaid, suffered for Christ during the reign of emperor Diocletian (284-305). The holy Martyr Vitus was son of an illustrious Sicilian dignitary, the pagan Gelas. While still a young lad, Saint Vitus was enflamed with an ardent love for the Lord Jesus Christ and he prayed incessantly to Him. The Lord gave him the grace of wonderworking. He healed the sick and converted many pagans to Christ. Learning about this, the governor Valerian summoned Gelas and advised him to turn his son away from faith in Christ; and how that were the emperor at some time to issue an edict for the persecution of Christians, not only the lad, but all the household of Gelas would suffer. But Gelas was not able to persuade Saint Vitus and he began to beat the lad. The governor Valerian learned that Saint Vitus had refused to offer sacrifice to the gods, and summoned him to trial before him. The holy lad firmly confessed his faith before the court and unconditionally refused to offer sacrifice to idols. They beat him again. When the governor, giving the signal for increasing the torture, lifted his hand, it immediately withered. The governor received healing through the prayer of the saint and, dissolving the trial, he gave back the holy lad to Gelas, having commanded that he not turn him away from faith in Christ. In order to corrupt his son in fleshly sin, Gelas surrounded him in luxury, and brought pretty girls to him. They filled him with tasty food, arranged banquets and entertainment, but the expected results were not forthcoming. Saint Vitus did not cease to pray, and he asked God's help in temptations. Angels appeared to him and prayed with him. When Gelas went took his son and glanced at the Angels, he immediately went blind. Gelas gave a vow to recant from idols, and Saint Vitus healed him. But, stubborn of heart, Gelas did not keep his vow. Paternal love for his son turned to hatred for him, and he decided to kill him. In order to save the boy, his tutor Saint Modestus and his nurse Saint Crescentia -- who were Christians, secretly took him from his parental home. At the river they saw a boat. An Angel went into the boat together with them and they reached the Italian district of Lucanium, where the saints lived quietly -- hidden away from torturers. The holy lad never ceased to heal the sick and he converted pagans to Christianity. Here also news about him spread about.
Saints Vitus and Modestus went to present themselves before Diocletian. Taken with the fine appearance of the lad, he at first urged him to offer sacrifice to idols. The holy lad denounced senseless idol-worship and he healed a demoniac son of Diocletian. The emperor offered Saint Vitus great honours, fame and riches -- on the condition that he recant from the Christian faith. The lad refused and with his former courage he confessed himself a Christian. They locked him up in prison together with Saint Modestus. When Jesus Christ appeared to the prisoners -- strengthening them in their deed and giving His help, the fetters fell from their hands. Ascribing the miracle to magic, Diocletian gave command to throw Saint Vitus into a cauldron of boiling oil. The saint stood in it, as though in cool water, and remained unharmed. Then a fierce lion was set loose at him. The lad signed himself with the sign of the cross, and the beast peacefully lied down at his feet and began to lick his foot. They hung the holy martyrs on pillars and began to rip at them with iron claws. Saint Crescentia came out of the crowd of spectators, confessed herself a Christian and reproached the emperor for his cruelty. He sentenced her also to torture. Saint Vitus called out to God: "O God, save us by Thy power and deliver us". An earthquake started. Many pagans perished under the collapsed buildings, and Diocletian in fear fled to his chambers. An Angel released the martyrs from the pillars and took them to Lucanium. The holy Martyr Vitus prayed to God, that He would accept their souls in peace and not deprive His benefaction from all, who would keep their memory. From Heaven came a Voice: "Thy prayer is heard". The saints with joy gave up their souls to God. The sufferings of the holy Martyrs Vitus, Modestus and Crescentia occurred in about the year 303. The memory of these saints is celebrated also on 16 May. The relics of Saint Vitus were transferred to Prague (Praha). Holy Nobleborn prince Vyacheslav of the Czechs (Comm. 28 September) constructed a temple in honour of the holy Martyr Vitus, in which he was afterwards buried.
The Monk Ortesios (Orseses) Tabennisiotes (+ 380) was the successor of the Monk Pakhomias the Great (+ 348, Comm. 15 May). While still in his early years he attained to such a degree of spiritual experience, that the Monk Pakhomias entrusted to him the governance of the Khenobossa monastery. Once the Monk Pakhomias, conversing with his students, said about the Monk Ortesios: "I tell you, that Ortesios doth shine in the house of God, like a golden lamp". After the end of the Monk Pakhomias, Saint Ortesios against his will was chosen as head of the Tabennisiotan monks. To such a number did the brethren increase, that the Monk Ortesios appointed as his helper the Monk Theodore, and then gave over to him the complete rule of the monastery, while he himself withdrew to the Khenobossa monastery. Upon the death of Saint Theodore in the year 365, Sainted-bishop Athanasias the Great wrote to the Monk Ortesios and his brethren: "Beloved brethren, weep not for Theodore: he is not dead but asleep. No one should weep, but rather each should imitate him. It is not proper to weep for one, that hath gone over to a place without worries.. and to thee, dear and beloved Ortesios, I write: "since that he hath reposed, take upon thyself this care, replace him for the brethren. While yet he lived, ye were both as one". The Monk Ortesios fulfilled the will of Sainted Athanasias.
Abba Ortesios possessed a profound knowledge of holy Scripture and the gift of inspired words. "The power of his words, -- said a contemporary, -- it seems, grew in him to the solace of the brethren". "Ortesios, a man fully familiar with Holy Scripture, wrote a book, seasoned with spiritual salt, or to say, to explain almost all of the Old and New Testaments in short meditations for the needs of monks. He left it to the fathers together with his bequest before his death". The book was soon translated into the Greek language, and Blessed Jerome translated it into Latin. In the book of the Monk Ortesios there are two theses: a guide for the monastic life (translated into the Russian language in 1859) and a guide concerning six purposeful meditations.
The Monk Doulos the Passion-Bearer ( the time of his life is unknown), was a monk at one of the Egyptian monasteries. He distinguished himself by his meekness, humility and obedience. During the course of 20 years the monk endured the mockery, abuse and contempt of several of the monastic brethren. At first it was difficult for him to bear the deed of forbearance and humbly endure the insult, but continually humbling himself in soul and praying to God, he reached such a degree of passivity, that with all his heart he pitied his detractors and prayed for them.
At the end of his life the monk underwent temptation: a certain monk from among the brethren pilfered church vessels and hid them. When the hegumen and elders of the monastery started to sort out the details of the theft, they suspected Saint Doulos enough to assert that he had done the thievery, since on the day of the misdeed he had not appeared at the vigil service, although before this he had always come to church. Concerning this occurrence, on that day Saint Doulos was ill and not able to come to services. They led Saint Doulos to the elders, to whom he said that he was not guilty of the theft. But his enemies began to slander him, saying that they were witnesses. Convinced that they did not believe his words, the Monk Doulos did not argue but said: "Forgive me, holy fathers, I am a sinner". The hegumen gave orders to strip off the monastic garb and to dress him in worldly clothes. Sobbing bitterly, Saint Doulos prayed: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, because of Thy Holy Name I clothed myself in monastic form, but now, through my sins, it is stripped from me".
They put chains on the Monk Doulos, and the steward was nasty in demanding where were the church vessels hidden, but the innocent passion-bearer only repeated: "Forgive me, I have sinned". They then turned him over for trial to the civil authorities and subjected him to torture, but the saint repeated: "I have neither silver, nor the lost vessels". The city eparch asked the monks what to do with him, having delivered him over to the secular court. They answered: "Do with him as the laws prescribe". The saint was sentenced to have both his hands cut off. Before the execution of the sentence the governor asked the monk: "Tell us where the vessels are and thou shalt be free of execution". The saint answered: "Governor, thou wantest that I tell about myself something that I did not do? I do not want to tell lies about myself, since every lie is from the devil". They took the saint to the place of execution. Then finally, the perpetrator of the theft experienced remorse and went to the hegumen, asking that the execution be stopped.
They took the monk back to the monastery. The monks began to ask forgiveness of the saint, and not only did he not bear them malice, but also he was grateful, that they had given him the opportunity by guiltless suffering to efface transgressions done by him. The saint asked the Lord to pardon his accusers. After three days they found the monk having expired to God while kneeling at prayer. The burial was delayed until the arrival of the hegumen and brethren of a nearby monastery. The body of the saint was locked up under key in the cathedral. When all had gathered and gone into the church, the body of the guiltless passion-bearer was not in the cathedral, and there remained only his clothes and sandals.
Those, who had accused the Monk Doulos of sin, were shewn unworthy to give his body over to burial.
Blessed Jerome of Stridona was born into a Christian family in the city of Stridona (Dalmatia or Pannonia). For the completion of his education his parents sent him to Rome, where he studied the secular sciences. At the beginning of his life in the capital, the youth was captivated by worldly vanities, but soon there matured a decision to change his life to the very core. When the youth was about 20 years old, he accepted holy Baptism. After this he visited in Gaul (France). Here for Saint Jerome there awakened the desire to dedicate himself totally to God and accept monasticism.
In about the year 372 Blessed Jerome returned to his native city, but his parents had already departed from among the living. On him fell the care of raising his younger sisters and brother Paulinian. The taking of vows was put aside for the time. Blessed Jerome began zealously to study Holy Scripture.
Having made the domestic arrangements, he journeyed to the East and for about 5 years he dwelt at one of the Syrian monasteries, combining work on the Holy Scriptures with austere ascetic deeds. Besides this, Saint Jerome studied to perfection the Hebrew and Chaldean languages. During this period there began his correspondence with a numerous persons upon a variety of questions. About 120 letters have been preserved, considered authentically written by Blessed Jerome. During this time there arose a controversy between the proponents of bishops Meletios, Paulinos and Vitalius. The controversy also reached the monastery where Blessed Jerome toiled. In consequence, the disputes caused him to leave the monastery and go to Antioch. Here Bishop Paulinos ordained him to the dignity of presbyter. Afterwards, Blessed Jerome visited Constantinople, conversed with the Sainted-bishops Gregory the Theologian and Gregory of Nyssa, and in the year 381 set off to Rome. At Rome he continued his labour of studies. The holy Pope Damasus I (366-384), also pre-occupied with the study of Holy Scripture, brought him into his proximity. But because the saint denounced the morals of the contemporary Christian society, a whole party of those bearing malice towards the saint came forward. After a three year stay at Rome, Blessed Jerome felt compelled to abandon this city for good. Together with his brother Paulinian and friends, Blessed Jerome visited the Holy Land, and also the monks of the Nitreia wilderness monastery, and in the year 386 he settled into a cave at Bethlehem in the vicinity of the cave of the Nativity of Christ, and there he began a life of quite austere asceticism.
This was the period of blossoming of his creative activity. Attending to the studies of his time, Blessed Jerome left to the Church a rich written legacy: collections of dogmatic-polemic works, moral-ascetic works, works of commentary on Scripture, and historical works. But the most important of his works was the compiling into the Latin language in a new translation the books of the Old and New Testaments. This Latin translation is called the "Vulgate" and it passed into general use throughout the Western Church.
Blessed Jerome with deep sorrow lived through the fall of his beloved city Rome, which was sacked by the Goths in the year 410. And in the year 411 a new ordeal beset the saint, an invasion by wild Bedouin Arabs. Only through the mercy of God was the community of the aged ascetic saved from complete destruction. He finished his life at the cave in Bethlehem. The year of death of Blessed Jerome is reckoned as 420. His relics were transferred from Bethlehem to Rome.
Blessed Augustine was born in Africa, in the city of Tagaste (Thagaste). He was raised by his mother, the pious Christian Monica, and he received his education at Carthage. In the capacity of professor of rhetoric, Augustine arrived at Mediolanum (Milan in Italy) during the period of episcopacy of Sainted Ambrose (+ 397, Comm. 7 December). Under the guidance of Saint Ambrose, Augustine studied the Holy Scriptures. The Word of God produced in his soul a radical crisis -- he accepted holy Baptism, gave all his wealth to the poor and was vowed into the monastic form.
In the year 391 Valerian, bishop of Ipponesia (Hippo), ordained Saint Augustine to the dignity of presbyter; and in 395, -- to the dignity of bishop, appointing him vicar-bishop to the Ipponesia cathedra. After the death of Bishop Valerian, Sainted Augustine took his place.
During his 35 years as bishop, many of the works of Blessed Augustine were devoted to combating the Donatist, Manichaean and Pelagian heresies.
Blessed Augustine wrote many works (in the testimony of his student and biographer Possidias, the number approached 1030). Of his works the best known are: "The City of God" ("De civitate Dei"), "The Confessions", 17 Books against the Pelagians and "Handbook of Christian Knowledge" ("the Enchiridion"). Blessed Augustine was concerned above all else that his compositions be intelligent and edifying. "It is better, -- he said, -- for them to condemn our grammar, than that people do not understand". Blessed Augustine died on 28 August 430.
The Transfer of the Relics of the Monk Theodore Sikeotes, Bishop of Anastasiupolis (+ 22 April 613), was from Galatia to Constantinople, done not earlier than the IX Century. His relics were seen in the year 1200 by the Russian pilgrim Antonii at the monastery of Saint George.
The Holy Nobleborn Prince of Serbia Lazar (Lazarus) lived during the XIV Century -- at a time when the Turks, having conquered neighbouring lands, prepared an invasion of Serbia.
Saint Lazar was raised at the court of the holy king Dushan. He was appointed governor of one of the Serbian districts. In the year 1371 he was chosen king of all Serbia and he toiled much at strengthening the condition of the country. He pacified neighbouring princes, which had wronged or plundered Serbian settlements. And he was concerned for the Christian enlightenment of the nation, he built churches, supported the monasteries and charitable establishments. In 1380 the saint established the monastery at Rovanetz. Saint Lazar petitioned the Constantinople Patriarch for an agreement of recognition of the Archbishop of Serbia by the Patriarch. During the course of the 10years of his rule, Serbia was at peace.
Afterwards there began war with the Turks. At the time of the Kossovo Battle the wounded king was taken prisoner and on orders of Sultan Bayazet was beheaded with a sword on 15 June 1389. The body of the holy king Lazar was buried at a nearby church. In 1391 his undecayed relics were transferred to the Rovanetz monastery. The monastery was destroyed by the Turks in 1683, and the relics of king Lazar were transferred to the monastery of New Rovanetz on Mount Thruzh.
Sainted Ephrem, Patriarch of Serbia, pursued asceticism on Mount Athos, and afterwards became hegumen of the Serbian Ibrovsk monastery. After the death of Patriarch Savva III in 1376, he was chosen to the patriarchal throne. Aspiring to silence, the saint left the throne and for 9 years dwelt at the Archangel Dushanovsk monastery. After the Battle of Kossovo he returned to the throne. He died peacefully at age 88 in the year 1400. The saint was buried in the Patriarchal church.
© 1997 by translator Fr. S. Janos.