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June 23rd (VII - 6)

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of the Martyrs Gaius, Agrippina, and Eustochius

Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God (1480). Martyrs: Agrippina (+ c. 253-260); Eustochius, Gaius, Probius, Lollius, Urban and others (IV). Sainted German, ArchBishop of Kazan (1567). Righteous Artemii of Verkol'sk (1545). Monks: Joseph of Zaonikievsk (+ 1612), Antonii and Ionannikii. Saint Vassa. Icon of Pskovo-Pechersk Mother of God, named "Umilenie" ("Tenderness") (1524) and Zaonikievsk (1588).

The Feast of the Mother of God in honour of Her Holy Vladimir Icon is celebrated in thanksgiving for the deliverance of Moscow from an invasion of khan Akhmat. In 1480 during the time of GreatPrince Ivan III Vasil'evich (1462-1505), khan Akhmat of the Golden Horde approached with a vast host up to the River Ugra, which those guarding the Moscow domain called "the Belt (Poyas) of the Mother of God". For an entire day the army of the khan and that of the Moscow prince stood opposite each other, not making the decision to act -- "the standing at the Ugra". All Moscow prayed to its Patroness the MostHoly Mother of God for the safety of the Orthodox capital. Metropolitan Gerontii (1473-1489) and the father-confessor of the prince, Archbishop Vassion of Rostov, praying, strengthened the Russian army with blessing and counsel. The metropolitan wrote the prince a cathedral missive, in which he called on him to stand bravely against the enemy, trusting on the help of the Mother of God.

The MostHoly Mother of God interceded for the Russian land. The prince commanded his army to fall back from the Ugra, hoping to await the passing over of the Tatars; the enemy decided, however, that the Russians were luring them into a trap, and they thus began to fall back, at first slowly, but by night they fled, driven by fear. In thanksgiving for the deliverance of Russia from the Tatars, this feast was established in honour of the Mother of God. (The account about the Vladimir Icon is located under 26 August).

The Holy Martyress Agrippina, was by birth a Roman. She did not wish to enter into marriage, and totally dedicated her life to God. During the time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Valerian (253-259) the saint went before the court and bravely confessed her faith in Christ, for which she was given over to torture. They beat the holy virgin with sticks so much, that her bones broke. Afterwards they put Saint Agrippina in chains, but an Angel freed her from her bonds. The holy confessor died from the tortures she endured. The Christians Vassa, Paula and Agathonica secretly took the body of the holy martyress and transported it to Cilicia, where at her grave were worked many miracles. In about the XI Century the relics of the holy Martyress Agrippina were transferred to Constantinople.

The Holy Martyrs Eustochius, Gaius, Probius, Lollius and Urban suffered for Christ during the time of a persecution under the emperor Maximian (286-310).

Saint Eustochius was a pagan priest, but seeing the unyielding courage of the Christian martyrs, and the miracles worked by them, he converted to Christ. He went to the bishop of Antioch, Eudoxos, received from him holy Baptism and was ordained to the dignity of presbyter. In the city of Listra Saint Eustochius converted to the path of salvation his nephew Gaius and all his household, among which included the lads Probius, Lollius and Urban. Soldiers of the emperor arrested Saint Eustochius and took him for trial. Tortures did not sway the faith of Eustochius. They then sent the saint to the governor Agrippinus in the Galatian city of Ancyra. With him also was sent the newly-converted Gaius with his household. All of them -- not excluding even the women and children, underwent fierce torture, but the martyrs did not recant from Christ and so were beheaded.

Sainted German, Archbishop of Kazan: the account about him is located under 6 November.

Holy Righteous Artemii of Verkol'sk was born in the village of Dvina Verkol around the year 1532. The son of pious parents, Artemii was a lad with fortitude, mildness and diligent for every good deed. On 23 June 1545 the thirteen year old Artemii and his father were taken by surprise in a field by a thunderstorm. Under one of the strokes of lightning the lad Artemii fell dead. People thought that this was a sign of judgement from God, and therefore they left the body unburied in a pine forest. After 28 days the village clergyman beheld a light over the place, where the undecayed body of Righteous Artemii lay. Taken to church, the holy relics were shewn a source of numerous healings. In this village there was later built a monastery, called the Verkol'sk. The memory of Righteous Artemii is also celebrated on 20 October.

The Monk Joseph of Zaonikievsk (+ 21 September 1612). The account about him is located under 21 September.

The Monks Antonii and Ioannikii pursued an ascetic life at the monastery of the Monk Joseph of Zaonikievsk.

The Zaonikievsk Icon of the Mother of God was found in the year 1588 by the Vologda peasant Ilarion -- the future Monk Joseph of Zaonikievsk. After long prayers for the restoration of his lost health, there appeared to Ilarion the Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian, and they promised him healing. Having gone to the place bidden to him by the saints, Ilarion suddenly saw amidst an extraordinary light an icon of the Mother of God. Bowing down before it, he was healed, then accepted monasticism with the name Joseph and founded on this spot the Zaonikievsk monastery. The icon was glorified by numerous healings.

© 1997 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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