June 24th (VII - 7)
Icon of the Nativity of the Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John
Nativity of the Venerable Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John. Monk Antonii (Anthony) of Dymsk (+ c. 1224). Righteous Lads James (Iakov) and John of Meniuzsk (+ c. 1566-1569). Martyred Seven Brothers: Orentios, Pharnax, Heros, Phirmos, Phirmenes, Kyriakos and Longinos (IV). Panagiotes of Caesarea (+ 1765). Sainted Nikita, Bishop of Remesianum (+ c. 420).
The Nativity of the Holy Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John: The Gospel (Lk. 1: 57-80) relates that the righteous parents of Saint John the Baptist -- the Priest Zachariah and Elizabeth, lived in the ancient city of Hebron, and reached old age being childless, since Elizabeth was barren. One time, Saint Zachariah was making Divine services at the Jerusalem Temple and saw the Archangel Gabriel, standing on the right side of the incense offertory. He predicted, that Saint Zachariah would father a son, who would announce the Saviour -- the Messiah, awaited by the Old Testament Church. Zachariah was troubled, and fear fell upon him. He had doubts that in old age it was possible to have a son, and he asked for a sign. And it was given to him -- it appeared at the same time as a chastisement for his unbelief: Zachariah was struck speechless until the time of the fulfillment of the archangel's words.
Saint Elizabeth came to be with child, and fearing derision over the lateness of her pregnancy, she kept it secret for five months, until there came visiting her distant relative the All-Blessed Virgin Mary, to share with her Her own joy. Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, was the first to greet the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God. And together with her Saint John also -- in the womb of his mother Righteous Elizabeth -- did greet "with leaps as in song" the MostHoly Virgin Mary and the Son of God incarnated within Her.
It became time, and Saint Elizabeth gave birth to a son, and all the relatives and acquaintances rejoiced together with her. On the eighth day, in accord with the law of Moses, was made the circumcision. His mother named him John. Everyone was amazed, since no one in their family had been named such. When they asked Saint Zachariah about this, he motioned for a tablet and wrote on it: "John is his name" -- and immediately the binding of his tongue at the prediction of the archangel was unbound, and Saint Zachariah, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, glorified God and pronounced the words of prophecy about the Advent-Coming into the world of the Messiah, and about his own son John -- the Forerunner of the Lord.
After the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ and the worship of the shepherds and the Magi, wicked king Herod gave orders to kill all the infants. Hearing about this, Saint Elizabeth fled into the wilderness and hid in a cave. Saint Zachariah as a priest was at Jerusalem and was doing his priestly service in the Temple. Herod sent soldiers to him to find out the abode of the infant John and his mother. Zachariah answered, that their whereabouts were unknown to him, and he was killed right there in the Temple. Righteous Elizabeth continued to live in the wilderness with her son and she died there. The lad John, protected by an Angel, dwelt in the wilderness until such time, when he came preaching about repentance and was himself vouchsafed worthy to baptise the Lord Who was come into the world.
The Holy Martyred Seven Brothers -- Orentios, Pharnax, Heros, Phirmos, Phirmenes, Kyriakos and Longinos -- were Roman soldiers. During the reign of Maximian (284-305) the Skyths fell upon the Greeks. To fight a duel against the Skythian champion Maroth -- distinguished for his especial strength of body -- there was commanded to go against him Saint Orentios, also a strong and brave warrior. Orentios was a Christian, as were his six brothers, who were also serving in the imperial army. Calling on the Lord for help, Saint Orentios defeated Maroth and in such manner stopped the invasion of the Skyths. The emperor intended to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods for this victory and he invited the victor -- Saint Orentios -- to participate. The saint refused, and explained that he himself was a Christian and said, that he vanquished the enemy by the power of the True God the Lord Jesus Christ. Neither the promise of honours or riches, nor threats were able to sway the saint to renounce Christ. The fierce and ungrateful emperor gave orders to banish to the Caucasus both the saint and his six brothers -- Saints Pharnax, Heros, Phirmos, Phirmenes, Kyriakos and Longinos. During the time of the journey all seven brothers died. The first was the death of Saint Heros on 22 June at Parembol; after him as a martyr died Saint Orentios: they cast him into the sea, having a stone bound about his neck. The Archangel of the Lord Raphael took him from the water to dry land at Riza, on the south shore of the Black Sea, where the holy martyr died. Saint Pharnax died on 3 July at Kordila; Saints Phirmos and Phirmenes -- on 7 July at Aspara, on the eastern shore of the Black Sea; Saint Kyriakos -- at Ziganeia on 14 July, and Saint Longinos died on the ship on 28 July. Battered by a storm the ship came aground at Pitindeia (Pitsunda), where the body of the holy martyr was buried.
The Holy Martyr Panagiotes of Caesarea suffered under the Turks at Constantinople in the year 1765. He was buried at the cemetery "the Life-Bearing Fount".
Sainted Nikita, a native and afterwards bishop of the city of Remesianum (Remeshek, now Nirot), was born a Slav. All his life was devoted to the spread of Christianity among the Slavic tribes. He died peacefully in about the year 420.
The Monk Antonii (Anthony) of Dymsk -- the account about him is located under 17 January.
The Righteous Lads James (Iakov) and John of Meniuzsk were brothers by birth -- children of the pious couple Isidor and Barbara. James at three years of age, and John at five years of age -- were killed by miscreants. Between the years 1682-1689 their relics were found undecayed and placed in a reliquary at the Trinity church in Meniuzh village -- Novgorod diocese, at the locale of the former Trinity monastery there.