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June 18th (VII - 1)

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of the Martyrs Leontius, Ipatius and Theodolus

Bogoliubsk Icon of the Mother of God (1157). Martyrs: Leontius, Ipatius and Theodolus (+ c. 70-79); Etherios (+ c. 305). Monks: Leontii, Kanonarch of Pechersk, in the Farther Caves (XIV); Leontios the Perspicacious, of Athos (+ 1605); Leontios; Erasmus. Venerable Copies of the Bogoliubsk Icon of the Mother of God: Moscow (1157), Uglich (1654), Zimarovsk (XIII), Iur'evsk (1771), Tul'sk (1771), Kozlovsk (1771), Elatemsk (1771), Usmansk (1831), Tarussk (1848 and 1870).

The holy Martyrs Leontius, Ipatius and Theodolus were Roman soldiers. The holy Martyr Leontius, a Greek by origin, during the reign of Vespasian (70-79) served as a military-chief in the imperial army in the Phoenician city of Tripoli. The Christian Leontius was distinguished for his bravery and good sense, and the people of Tripoli held him in deep regard for his virtue.

The emperor appointed the Roman senator Adrian as governor of the Phoenician district, with full powers to hunt out Christians, and in case of their refusal to offer sacrifice to the Roman gods, to give them over to torture and death. And on his way to Phoenicia Adrian received a report, that Saint Leontius had turned many away from worshipping the pagan gods. The governor sent the tribune Ipatius with a detachment of soldiers to Tripoli, so as to find and arrest the Christian Leontius. Along the way the tribune Ipatius fell seriously ill, and being near death, he saw in a dream an Angel, which said: "If thou wishest to be healed, invoke thrice with thine soldiers: "God of Leontius, help me". Opening his eyes Ipatius beheld the Angel and said: "I was sent to arrest Leontius, how is it that I should appeal to his God?" At this moment the Angel became invisible. Ipatius told about his dream to the soldiers, among whose number was also his friend Theodolus, and all of them together thrice called on the help of the God, Whose Name it was that Saint Leontius confessed. Ipatius was immediately healed to the great joy of his soldiers, but only Theodolus sat aside, pondering the miracle. His soul was filled with love for God, and he told Ipatius to proceed twice as quickly to the city in search of Saint Leontius.

Upon their arrival in the city, a stranger met them and invited them to his house, where he lavishly hosted the travellers. Learning that their hospitable host was Saint Leontius, they fell on their knees and asked him to enlighten them with faith in the True God. They were baptised here, and when Saint Leontius pronounced over them the prayer calling on the Name of the MostHoly Trinity, a luminous cloud overshadowed the newly-baptised and shed a graced rain. The remaining soldiers in search of their commander arrived in Tripoli, where also had arrived the governor Adrian. Learning about what had happened, he gave orders to bring him Saints Leontius, Ipatius and Theodolus, and having threatened them with torture and death, he demanded that they renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the Roman gods. All the martyrs firmly confessed their faith in Christ. Saint Ipatius was put under a column and struck at with iron claws, and Saint Theodolus was mercilessly beaten with rods. Seeing the steadfastness of the saints, they beheaded these two. And after torture, they sent Saint Leontius off to prison. In the morning he came before the governor. Adrian tried to entice the holy martyr with honours and rewards, and accomplishing nothing, he gave him over to new tortures: the holy martyr was suspended head downwards from a pillar with an heavy stone about his neck, but nothing was able to make him renounce Christ. The governor gave orders to beat at the sufferer with rods until such time as he died. They then threw the body of the holy Martyr Leontius out beyond the city, but Christians reverently gave it burial near Tripoli. The death of the holy martyrs occurred in about the years 70-79.

The accusation against Saint Leontios, and his sufferings and death are recorded on tin tablets prepared by the court scribe (commentarisius). These tablets were placed at the grave of the holy martyr.

The Holy Martyr Etherios was beheaded in about the year 305 for his confession of faith in Christ during the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305).

The Monk Leontii, Kanonarch of Pechersk, in his early years entered the Kievo-Pechersk monastery, where he received tonsure. He was endowed with a fine voice, and when he learned his letters, he fulfilled the obedience of kanonarch (arrangement of church song). The Monk Leontii died rather young during the XIV Century, and for his selfless deeds of salvation he was glorified by the Lord with the grace-bearing gift of wonderworking. The relics of the holy ascetic are situated in the Farther Caves, and his memory is also made on 28 August -- the Sobor/Assemblage of the Kievo-Pechersk Saints.

The Monk Leontios the Perspicacious, of Athos, was born in Peloponnesian Argos. He asceticised on Mount Athos for a long time at the monastery of Saint Dionysios. He spent 60 years at the monastery, and not once did the holy ascetic leave the monastery. For his deep faith and deeds he was granted by God the gift of perspicacity and prophecy. On 16 March 1605 at age 85 the Monk Leontios expired to the Lord. The holy relics of the saint of God were glorified by a flow of curative myrh.

The Bogoliubsk Icon of the Mother of God, one of the most ancient wonderworking icons of Russia, was written in the XII Century at the request of holy Prince Andrei Bogoliubsky (Comm. 4 July), in memory of an appearance to him by the Mother of God.

In the year 1155 holy Prince Andrei, having resettled from Vyshgorod to the Suzdal' lands, brought with him a wonderworking image of the Mother of God, written by the Evangelist Luke (this afterwards was called the Vladimir Icon). At seven versts distance from Vladimir by horse, the carrying cart with the wonderworking Icon stopped and was not able to be moved from the place. Holy Prince Andrei besought the priest Nikolai, who accompanied him, to make a molieben before the Icon of the Mother of God, and for a long time he prayed with tears in front of the venerable image. Later he went into his travelling quarters, but ceasing not in his fervent prayer. The MostHoly Mother of God during this point appeared to him with a small scroll in Her hand and commanded the pious prince, that Her image brought from Vyshgorod should remain at Vladimir, and that on the location of Her miraculous appearance there should be built a church and holy monastery. She then prayerfully pointed Her hand to Heaven, and having received blessing from Christ the Saviour, Who appeared at this time over the earth, and with His blessing to Her the vision ended.

In fulfilling the command, holy Prince Andrei built upon the indicated place a stone church in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God, and also a monastery formed there. And afterwards the holy prince commissioned talented iconographers and asked that the Mother of God be depicted such as he had seen Her in the vision: in full stature and with the scroll in Her right hand, and Her face turned towards the Saviour. When the construction of the church was completed, the image was installed in it and a yearly celebration in honour of the appearance of the Mother of God was established under 18 June, which then came into useage in the Russian Church. The monastery, and the city which formed around the monastery, was named Bogoliubov by Saint Andrei, because in his own words, "the Mother of God loves this place", and the prince himself came to be called Bogoliubsky or "God-lover". The wonderworking image of the Mother of God, brought from Vyshgorod, was afterwards transferred from the Bogoliubovsk monastery to Vladimir into the Uspenie-Dormition cathedral, but the icon of the Appearance remained at Bogoliubov and was called the Bogoliubsk (at the present time of 1978 the icon is in the Vladimir-Suzdal' Museum collection).

The image of the Bogoliubsk Mother of God was glorified by innumerable miracles, and over the space of many centuries manifest its grace-bearing help to the believing amongst the Russian nation. The fame of the miracles and signs wrought by the icon impelled believers of many places in Russia to avail themselves of copies of the venerable image, widely distributed and graced in power.

The Icon of the Mother of God of Bogoliubsk-Moscow was written in the year 1157 and in earlier times was situated in Moscow at the Solyana Square, over the Varvarsk Gates of the Chinese Quarter. The wonderworking image was glorified by healings during the time of a fierce plague in 1771. From this time the icon became especially venerated by believers, and a molieben was done yearly before the wonderworking image on 18 June. On the vigil of the feast for three days the icon was taken down from the wall and transferred to a special pavilion, whither thronged numerous people for prayerful veneration of the image of the Mother of God. After the course of three days the icon was again put up over the gates, where it remained until the following year on18 June.

Unique to this icon is that there is imaged upon it, besides the Saviour and the Mother of God, also these saints: Sainted-hierarchs Peter, Alexei, Jona and Philip -- Metropolitans of Moscow, Blessed Vasilii and Maksim, the Nun Paraskeva, Saint Basil the Great, the Apostle Peter, Alexei "the man of God", the Disciple Simeon -- kinsman of the Lord, the Martyress Paraskeva and the Nun-Martyr Evdokia.

The Icon of the Mother of God of Bogoliubsk-Uglich was glorified by the miraculous ending of a pestilential plague in the year 1654. At the time of the deadly epidemic, the Uglich tradesman Aphanasii Kustov went along the city ramparts and arrived at the church in honour of Blessed Prince Dimitrii of Uglich. He saw there three lads, which he assumed were the children of the city voevoda-commander, living not far from the church. One of these however ordered Aphansii to announce in the city square that the inhabitants of the city should pray to the Lord God and His All-Pure Mother and invoke also the help of the holy wonderworkers Tsarevich Dimitrii and Roman of Uglich. The inhabitants of the city quickly gathered together in the church of Blessed Dimitrii the Tsarevich, they sang a molieben before the Bogoliubsk Icon of the Mother of God, and the terrible plague immediately stopped.

The Icon of the Mother of God of Bogoliubsk-Zimarovsk according to ancient tradition stood on the gates of the city of Pronsk, and during the time of an invasion of Tatars (XIII Century) it was taken down and broken in pieces, but of itself it miraculously came back together, though one half of it remained higher than the other.

In the latter XVIII Century this icon was situated in the house of the landowner Lopukhin, living at Moscow. Because of the antiquity of the icon they kept it among a number of things in a storeroom. At the time of a fierce plague in 1771 one of the afflicted inhabitants of Moscow was commanded in a dream vision to make a molieben before the icon, located in the house of Lopukhin. They located the icon and gave it to the sick person, who after making the molieben was healed, returning the wonderworking image. Other similar healings were done by the icon.

Before his death (about 1780) the owner of the icon made a bequest to send it to its own native region, to the village of Zimarovo in Ryazan gubernia, situated 18 versts from the city of Ranenburg.

In 1848 an outbreak of cholera raged in this city. The inhabitants quickly set off to the venerable image in the village of Zimarovo, and when the ancient wonderworking icon of the Bogoliubsk Mother of God was brought to the city, the threat of the danger of disease stopped.

The Icon of the Mother of God of Bogoliubsk-Iur'evsk was given by the emperor Peter I to the dignitary Boris Mironovich Baturin. In the second half of the XVIII Century it belonged to the landowner Zagryazhsky, and in 1771 through prayers to the wonderworking image a fierce plague was averted. By way of inheritance, in 1838 the icon came to the parish church of the village of Iur'ev, Borovsk district, Kaluga gubernia, and it received the title Iur'evsk.

Through the intervention of the Mother of God, in 1848 the Iur'ev parishioners were saved from cholera, and in the years 1848-1853 through prayers before the wonderworking image, the cholera stopped at Maloyaroslavl' and Borovsk. During the time of this dread disease, a certain woman had died, but through the grief-stricken prayers of her spouse before the Bogoliubsk Icon, she revived. In commemoration of the miraculous help of the Mother of God at Borovsk and at Maloyaroslavl', an annual church-procession is made with the wonderworking Iur'evsk icon.

There are known also other copies of the wonderworking Bogoliubsk Icon of the Mother of God, made famous in earlier times through the mercy of the Heavenly Queen. Among the venerable copies of particular importance are the Tul'sk (1771), Kozlovsk (1771), Tarussk (1848 and 1870), and Elatemsk (1771). It is significant, that just as with the original of the Bogoliubsk Mother of God, so also its copies are glorified by healings in times of terrible sickness, in particular plague and Cholera.

Two Cypriot Martyrs: On this day also is made the memory of two holy martyrs, who suffered on Cyprus.

© 2000 by translator Fr. S. Janos



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