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June 21st (VII - 4)

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of the Martyr Julian and the Martyr Nikita

Martyrs Julian of Tarsis and his mother (+ c. 305). PriestMartyr Terence, Bishop of Iconium (I). Monk Julius the Presbyter and Julian the Deacon (V). Martyrs: Archil II, Emperor of Iveria (+ 744); Luarsab II, Emperor of Kartalin (Gruzia) (+ 1622); Nikita of Nyrosa (+ 1732); Aphrodysios of Kimnea; Rufus.

The Holy Martyr Julian of Tarsis was born in the Asia Minor province of Cilicia. He was the son of a pagan senator, but his mother confessed Christianity. After the death of her husband the mother of Saint Julian resettled to Tarsis, where the son was baptised and raised in Christian piety. When Julian reached age 18, a persecution against Christians started under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Among others arrested was also Saint Julian. They brought him before the governor Marcian for trial, where for a long time they urged him to renounce Christ. Neither tortures nor threats, nor promises of gifts and honours could convince the pious youth to offer pagan sacrifice and a denial of Christ. The holy confessor remained steadfast in his firm faith. For a whole year they led the martyr through the cities of Cilicia, in each of them subjecting him to interrogation and tortures, after which they threw him in prison. The mother of Saint Julian followed after her son and prayed, that the Lord would strengthen him yet more in faith and act. In the city of Aegea under the pretext of urging her son to offer sacrifice to idols, she besought the governor to permit her to visit the prison. She spent three days in prison with Saint Julian, beseeching him to be strong to the end.

Saint Julian was again brought to stand before the governor. Thinking, that the mother had persuaded her son to submit to the imperial decree, the governor began to praise her prudence. But suddenly the saint boldly confessed himself a Christian. And the holy Martyr Julian all the more fearlessly and boldly denounced the pagan polytheism. The governor then gave orders to cut off the feet of the mother of Saint Julian, since she had accompanied her son from Tarsis. They tied the Martyr Julian into a sack, filled with sand and poisonous vipers, and threw it into the sea. The body of the sufferer was carried by the waves to the shores of Alexandria, and with reverence was buried by a certain pious Alexandrian Christian. The martyr's death occurred in about the year 305. Afterwards the relics of the holy martyr were transferred to Antioch. Saint John Chrysostom honoured the memory of the holy Martyr Julian with a sermon of laudation.

The PriestMartyr Terence, Bishop of Iconium, accepted a martyr's death for Christ in the I Century. They impaled him on a sharp piece of wood.

The Monks Julius the presbyter and Julian the Deacon, brothers by birth, were natives of Myrmidonia. For his virtuous life Saint Julius was ordained to the priestly dignity, and his brother to the dignity of deacon. Inspired with zeal for the spreading of the Christian faith, the holy brothers received permission for the building of churches and set off preaching to remote sections East and West within the Roman empire, where pagan temples still existed and where offering of sacrifice to idols was still made. Visiting several lands, they converted many pagans to Christianity, persuading them not only by word, but also by numerous miracles. At Constantinople they turned to the pious emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450)with a request to build churches upon the places of pagan temples.

Having received the blessing of the patriarch and the permission of the emperor, the holy brothers built many churches. The people considered it their duty to assist them in this matter. One time some people went on past a church being constructed. Fearing that they would begin to talk them into taking part in this work, they engaged in a deception, so as the quicker to get away. One of them feigned being dead, and when Saint Julius invited them to take part in the work, they begged off saying that they had to drive on by to bury a dead person. The saint asked: "Ye lie not, do you?" The passers-by persisted in the ruse. Thereupon the Monk Julian said to them: "So be it, according to your words". Having continued on some further distance, they discovered, that the one pretending to be dead actually was dead. After this, no one else dared to lie to the holy brothers.

Foreseeing his own impending end, Saint Julius set off in search of a place for building by the count his hundredth church, which also he reckoned would be his last. Reaching Lake Mukoros, he saw amidst it a beautiful island. Because of the huge quantity of snakes on it, no one was able to settle there. The Monk Julius decided to build a church upon this island. Having prayed, he sailed off to the island on his mantle as though on a boat, and erected on it a cross. In the Name of God the holy ascetic ordered all the snakes to gather together for him and leave the island, dedicating it for an house of God and the servants of Christ. All the venomous vipers slithered into the lake and swimming it, they re-established themselves upon Mount Kamunkin.

On the island Saint Julius built a church in honour of the holy Twelve Apostles. At this time his brother, Saint Julian, finished construction on a church nearby the city of Gaudiana and decided to build by the church a crypt for his brother Julius. The Monk Julius paid his brother a visit and advised him to hurry with the construction of the crypt, prophetically foretelling, that he mustneeds lie in it. And indeed, Saint Julian the Deacon soon died and was buried in the crypt built by him. The Monk Julius the Presbyter reverently made burial of his brother and returned to the island, where he himself soon died and was buried in the church of the Twelve Apostles built by him. From his grave many of the sick received healing. The blessed end of the holy brothers occurred after the first half of the V Century.

The Holy Martyr Archil II belonged to the dynasty of the Chosroidoi, and he was a direct descendant of the holy nobleborn emperor Saint Mirian (+ 342).

During the reign of Archil II, Gruzia (Georgia) was subjected to a devastating invasion by Murvana-Kru ("the Wild"), called such by the Georgian people for his inexorable cruelty. The position of the Gruzian people was desperate, and the emperor Archil II, together with his brother Myro, the ruler of Western Gruzia, tearfully implored the intercession of the MostHoly Mother of God, and She shew forth Her mercy.

At a battle by the Rivers Abasha and Tskhenis-Tskhali the Gruzian forces miraculously gained the victory over the significantly superiour forces of Murvana-Kru.

After this victory the emperor Archil II was occupied with the restoral of the Gruzian kingdom. He rebuilt the city of Nukhpatis, restored ruined churches in Mtskheta and furthered the acceptance of Christianity by many of the mountain tribes. But soon Gruzia suffered a new Arab invasion -- with the sudden appearance of Dzhidzhum-Asim (Jijum-Asim). Having accordingly rendered tribute to the Arabs, the nobleborn emperor did not expect this invasion. In order to deliver the land from new devastation and avert the intrusion of Islam upon it, he reckoned it beneficial to go himself to Dzhizhum-Asim, offer formerly independent Gruzia in vassalage and ask for peace. Placing all his hope on the mercy of God and ready to offer up his soul for his holy faith and for his nation, Saint Archil went to the camp of the Arabs. Dzhidzhum-Asim received him hospitably and promised his suzerainty, but insisted on acceptance of Mahometanism. As the "Gruzian Chronicle" relates, the holy emperor Archil calmly answered: "It will not be, that I should forsake Christ, the True God, Who for our salvation took upon Himself human flesh. I know, if I obey thee, then I shalt died a death eternal and shalt suffer eternally; if for my firmness thou do subject me to death, I shalt then rise as did my Lord, and I shalt go to Him".

Hearing these words, Dzhidzhum-Asim gave orders to seize the confessor and take him off to prison. But neither tortures nor urgings nor promises could make the nobleborn emperor Archil apostacise his faith.

On 20 March 744 the holy emperor Archil received a martyr's death by beheading. The body of the martyr was secretly taken by Gruzian Christians to the locale Ertso and buried in Kakhetia, in the Notkor church built by the holy emperor himself.

The Holy Martyr Nobleborn Emperor of Gruzia Luarsab II was born in 1587. He was the son of George X (1600-1603), poisoned by the Persian emperor shah Abbas I (1584-1628). After the death of his father Luarsab remained with his two sisters, Choreshan and Helen. He was still a lad, but distinguished himself by his intellect and piety, and despite his youthful age, he was crowned to the Kartalin kingdom with the name Luarsab II. In 1609 Gruzia suffered invasion by a Turkish army under the leadership of Deli-Mamad-khan. The young emperor gave decisive battle to the Turks near the village of Kvenadkotsi (between Gori and Surami). On the eve of battle the 14 thousand Gruzian host spent all night at incessant prayer, and in the morning after Divine liturgy and the receiving by all of the Holy Mysteries, the Gruzian forces in an heroic battle turned to flight the 60 thousand strong forces of the enemy.

The Persian shah Abbas I, alarmed over this victory by the Georgians, and bearing enmity towards Luarsab II, sought for an opportunity to destroy him. Saint Luarsab was forced, for the saving of Kartli (Central Gruzia) from destruction, to give in marriage to the mahometan shah Abbas his sister Helen, at his demand. But this also did not stop the shah. Several times he entered Gruzia with a large army. Because of the treachery of several feudal lords, the noble emperor Luarsab and the Kakhetian emperor Teimuraz I were compelled at the end of 1615 to withdraw to Imeretia (Western Gruzia) to the Imeretian emperor George III (1605-1639).

Shah Abbas I laid waste to Kakhetia and, threatening Kartli with ruin, he demanded that he should have Luarsab II, promising in the event of his coming, to conclude a peace. The noble emperor Luarsab II, trying to preserve the churches of Kartli from devastation, set out to shah Abbas with the words: "I entrust all my hope upon Christ, and whatever might be the fate that awaiteth me, life or death, blest be the Lord God!"

Shah Abbas I received Saint Luarsab II amicably and, it would seem, was prepared to fulfill his promise. After an hunt together shah Abbas invited him to Mazandaran, but for supper Luarsab II refused to eat fish (since it was Great Lent), despite the threats and demands of the shah. The enraged shah began to insist that the Gruzian emperor accept Mahometanism, for which he promised to let him go with great treasures to Kartli, threatening otherwise death by torture. The noble emperor Luarsab II, having from his youthful years kept strict fast and constantly at prayer, without hesitation refused the demands of the shah. They thereupon seized him and imprisoned him in the impenetrable fortress of Gulab-Kala, near Shiraz. The Mrovel bishop Nicholas relates, that the noble emperor Luarsab spent seven years imprisoned in chains, undergoing cruel torments and frequent beatings to force him into an acceptance of Mahometanism. But the holy confessor remained faithful to the Holy Church of Christ and accepted a martyr's death in the year 1622 at 35 years of age. Together with him were martyred two of his faithful retainers.

In the prison they cast out by night the bodies of the holy martyrs without burial, but on the next day Christians committed them to earth in a common grave.

The Holy Martyr Nikita of Nyrosa, a native of the island Nyrosa near Rhodes, as a lad was converted to Mahometanism. At the age of maturity he renounced Islam and confessed himself a Christian, for which he was beheaded by the Turks on the island of Chios in 1732.

The Holy Martyr Aphrodysios was beheaded with the sword at Cilicia (Asia Minor) for his faith in Christ the Saviour.

The Holy Martyr Rufus accepted a martyr's death at Syracuse in Sicily.

© 1998 by translator Fr. S. Janos.



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