June 6th (VI - 19)
Icon of the Monk Bessarion and Martyr Gelasius
Monks: Bessarion, Wonderworker of Egypt (IV-V); Ilarion (Hilary) the New (+ 845). Sainted Jona, Bishop of Velikoperm (Great Perm) (+ 1470). Monk Paisii of Uglich (+ 1504). Monk Jona of Klimetsk (+ 1534). Monastic Martyresses the Virgins Archelia, Thecla and Susanna (+ 293). Martyr Gelasius. Monks: Attalus the Wonderworker; Photios; George.
The Monk Ilarion (Hilary) the New was born of pious parents, Peter and Theodosia, who raised him in the virtues and instructed him in Holy Scripture. At twelve years of age Saint Ilarion was tonsured into monasticism at the Isykhia monastery near Byzantium, and from there he transferred to the Dalmatia monastery, where he took on the great schema and became a disciple of the Monk Gregory Dekapolites (Comm. 20 November). The monk deeply venerated his God-bearing patronal-name saint -- the Monk Ilarion the Great (Comm. 21 October), and he strove to imitate his life, whereby he came to be called Ilarion the New. At the Dalmatia monastery they ordained him presbyter. After the death of the hegumen the brethren wanted to elect Saint Ilarion to this position, but learning of this, he secretly withdrew away to Byzantium.
Then the monks of Dalmatia monastery sent off a petition to Sainted Patriarch Nikephoros, asking that the Monk Ilarion be assigned as hegumen. The Patriarch summoned the saint and persuaded him to give his assent. The Monk Ilarion submitted out of holy obedience. Over the course of eight years he peacefully guided the monastery. But in the year 813 the iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820) occupied the imperial throne. The monk refused to blaspheme holy icons and he boldly accused the emperor of heresy, for which he endured many torments. They locked him up in prison for awhile, and vexed him with hunger and thirst. The impious patriarch Theodotos, having replaced the exiled Patriarch Nikephoros, caused the monk much suffering in demanding a rejection of Orthodoxy. The monks of the Dalmatia monastery went to the emperor and besought him to release the saint, promising to submit to the imperial will. But having returned to the monastery, the Monk Ilarion and all the monks continued to venerate holy icons. The enraged emperor again locked up the monk in prison. With all the powers at his disposal to demand a renunciation, he gave the saint over to torture and confined him in prison.
But the wrath of God overtook the wicked emperor: he was cut down by his own soldiers in church at that very spot, where once before he had thrown down an holy icon. The new emperor Michael II the Stammerer (820-829) set free the Monk Ilarion from his imprisonment, and the saint settled into a solitary cell. Upon the death of the Monk Theodore the Studite (Comm. 11 November) -- who likewise had suffered for holy icons, the Monk Ilarion was vouchsafed to behold holy Angels lifting up to Heaven the holy soul of Saint Theodore.
Under the iconoclast emperor Theophilos (829-842), the Monk Ilarion was again put under guard, and beaten terribly, and they confined him on the island of Athysia.
After the death of Theophilos, the holy empress Saint Theodora (842-855) gave orders to restore the confessors from exile. The Monk Ilarion returned to the Dalmatia monastery, again accepting to be hegumen at it, and he peacefully died in the year 845.
The Monk Bessarion, Wonderworker of Egypt, by descent an Egyptian, was baptised while still in his youth and he led a strict life, striving to preserve the grace given him during Baptism. Seeking to become more closely acquainted with the monastic life, he undertook a journey to the holy places, -- he was in Jerusalem, he visited the Monk Gerasimos (Comm. 4 March) in the Jordanian wilderness, he viewed other monastic wilderness-monasteries, and assimilated all the rules of monastic life. Upon his return, he accepted monastic tonsure and became a disciple of the Monk Isidor Pelusiotes (Comm. 4 February). Saint Bessarion took upon himself a vow of silence, he partook of food only once a week, and sometimes he remained without food or drink for 40 days. There was an instance when the monk, immersed in prayer, stood motionless for 40 days and 40 nights without food or sleep.
The Monk Bessarion received from God the gift of wonderworking: when on a journey his disciple was strongly beset by thirst, he sweetened bitter water; by his prayer the Lord sent rain upon the earth, and he could as though on dry land cross a river; with but a single word he cast out devils, but he did this privately to avoid glory. His humility was so great, that when one time a priest ordered someone from the skete settlement to leave church for having fallen into sin, together with him went also the monk with the words: "I too am a sinner". The Monk Bessarion slept only standing or sitting. A large portion of the life of the saint was spent under the open sky in prayerful solitude. He peacefully expired to the Lord, having reached old age.
Sainted Jona, Bishop of Velikoperm (Great Perm), was successor to Sainted Pitirim, Bishop of Perm (Comm. 19 August), who was murdered by the Vogulani in the year 1455. In the year 1462 Saint Jona converted to Christ the inhabitants of Great Perm. To spread and consolidate the Christian faith, he constantly journeyed throughout his extensive diocese. The saint reposed to God on 6 June 1470 and was buried at Ust'-Vym at the Annunciation cathedral.
The Monk Jona of Klimetsk, in the world John, accepted monasticism and founded the Klimetsk Trinity monastery in accordance with a vow.
In the year 1490 he had been caught by a storm on Lake Onega. When however there was no hope for survival, John cried out to the Lord, beseeching Him to preserve him alive for repentance and service to God. The boat was thrown by the waves onto a coastal sandbar. There he heard the voice of the Lord, commanding him to form a monastery in the Name of the Life-Creating Trinity, and on a juniper tree he miraculously discovered Its holy icon. The monk fulfilled the will of the Lord and built a monastery with two temples -- one in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity and the other in honour of Saint Nicholas, protector of those sailing and those journeying. Having refused the dignity of hegumen, the Monk Jona remained at the monastery a simple monk. The monk died on 6 June 1534. Over his relics afterwards was built a church in honour of Saints Zachariah and Elizabeth.
The Holy Monastic Martyresses Archelia, Thecla and Susanna sought salvation in a small monastery near Rome. During the time of the persecution by Diocletian (284-305), the holy virgins attired themselves in men's clothing, cut their hair and set off to the Italian province of Campagna. settling in a remote area, they continued to pursue asceticism in fasting and prayer. And having received from God the gift of healing, they doctored the local inhabitants, converting many pagans to Christ. But learning of them, the governor of the district gave orders to bring them to the city of Salerno. He threatened Saint Archelia with handing her over for abuse and a sentence of death, if she did not offer sacrifice to idols. With firm hope on the help of the Lord, the saint refused to submit to the command, and she denounced the folly of worshipping soulless statues. Then the governor gave orders to hand over the saint to be torn apart by hungry lions, but the beasts meekly did lay at her feet. In a rage the governor gave orders to kill the lions, and to lock up the holy virgins in prison.
In the morning, having suspended Saint Archelia, the torturers began to cut at her with iron utensils and pour hot tar on the wounds. The saint prayer all the more loudly, and suddenly over her shone a radiance and a voice was heard: "Fear not, for I am with thee". The power of God defended the saint: when they wanted to crush her with an immense stone, an Angel pushed it to the other side, and it crushed the torturers instead. A judge ordered soldiers to behead the holy virgins, but the soldiers did not dare to put their hands upon the saints. Thereupon Saints Archelia, Thecla and Susanna said to the soldiers: "If ye fulfill not the command, ye shalt have no respect from us". The holy martyresses were beheaded (+ 293).
The Monk Paisii of Uglich was hegumen of the Pokrov monastery, near Uglich. He was born in the Tver district nearby the city of Kashin, and he was a nephew of the Monk Makarii of Kalyazinsk (Comm. 17 March). Upon the death of his parents, and being still but an 11 year old lad, Saint Paisii went to the monastery of his uncle, who clothed him in monastic garb. Under his uncle's guidance, Saint Paisii led a monastic life in deeds of obedience, fasting and prayer, and he occupied himself with the copying of soul-saving books. "A man wondrous and of spirit, famed preceptor of holiness and most astounding wonderworker, he founded (in 1464) at the wish of prince Andrei Vasil'evich the common-life Pokrov monastery 3 versts from Uglich, wherein he was chosen hegumen". The Monk Paisii was also "founder and organiser of the holy Nikol'sky Grekhozaruchnya monastery" in 1489. Asceticising at the Pokrov monastery, the Monk Paisii lived into old age and died on 6 June 1504. His relics, glorified by miracles, rest beneathe a crypt in the Pokrov monastery.
© 1999 by translator Fr. S Janos