March 17th (III - 30)
Icon of St. Alexis, Man of God
Monk Alexis, Man of God (+ 411). Monk Makarii, Hegumen of Kalyazinsk (+ 1483). Martyr Marin. MonkMartyr Paul (+ c. 767). PriestMartyr Gabriel of Mysira (+ 1802) (Gruzia).
The Monk Alexis was born at Rome into the family of the pious and poverty-loving Eufimian and Aglaida. The spouses were for a long time childless and constantly prayed the Lord for granting them a child. And the Lord consoled the couple with the birth of their son Alexis. At six years of age the lad began to read and successfully studied the mundane sciences, but it was with particular diligence that he read Holy Scripture. Having grown into a young man, he began to imitate his parents: he fasted strictly, distributed alms and beneathe fine clothing he secretly wore an hair-shirt. Early on there burned within him the desire to leave the world and serve the One God. But his parents had prepared for Alexis to marry, and when he attained mature age, they found him a bride.
After the betrothal, having been left alone of an evening with his betrothed, Alexis took a ring from his finger, gave it to her and said: "Keep this, and may the Lord be with us, by His grace providing us new life". And going himself secretly from his home, he got on a ship sailing for Mesopotamia.
Having come to the city of Edessa, -- where the Image of the Lord "Not-made-by-Hand" was preserved, Alexis sold everything that he had, distributed the money to the poor and began to live nearby the church of the MostHoly Mother of God under a portico and survived on alms. The monk ate only bread and water, and the alms that he received he distributed to the aged and infirm. Each Sunday he communed the Holy Mysteries.
The parents sought everywhere for the missing Alexis, but without success. The servants, sent by Eufimian upon the search, arrived also in Edessa, but they did not recognise in the beggar sitting at the portico, -- their master. His body was withered by strict fasting, his comeliness vanished, his stature diminished. The saint recognised them and gave thanks to the Lord that he received alms from his servants.
The unconsolable mother of Saint Alexis confined herself in her room, incessantly praying for her son. And his wife grieved together with her in-laws.
The monk dwelt in Edessa for seventeen years. One time it was revealed about him to the sexton of the church, at which the monk asceticised: the Mother of God through Her holy icon commanded: "Lead into My church that man of God, worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven; his prayer doth ascend to God, like unto fragrant incense, and the Holy Spirit doth rest upon him". The sexton began to search for such a man, but for a long while was not able to find him. Then with prayer he turned to the MostHoly Mother of God, beseeching Her to clear up his confusion. And again there was a voice from the icon proclaiming, that the man of God was that beggar, who sat in the church portico. The sexton found Saint Alexis and took him into the church. Many recognised and began to praise him. The saint, shunning fame, went secretly on a ship, journeying to Cilicia. But the Fore-Knowledge of God destined otherwise: a storm took the ship far off to the West and it arrived at the coast of Italy. The saint journeyed to Rome. Unrecognised, he humbly besought of his father permission to settle in some corner of his courtyard. Eufimian settled Alexis in a specially constructed lodging near the entrance of the house and gave orders to feed him from his table.
Living at his parental home, the saint continued to fast and he spent day and night at prayer. He humbly endured the insults and jeering from the servants of his father. The room of Alexis was situated opposite the windows of his betrothed, and the ascetic suffered grievously, hearing her weeping. Only immeasurable love for God helped the saint endure this torment. Saint Alexis dwelt at the house of his parents for seventeen years and was informed by the Lord about the day of his death. Then the saint, taking parchment, wrote about his life, asking the forgiveness of his parents and betrothed.
On the day of the death of saint Alexis, the Roman Pope Innocentius (402-417) was serving Liturgy in the presence of the emperor Honorius (395-423). During the time of services there was heard from the altar a miraculous Voice: "Come unto Me, all ye who labour and art heavy-burdened, and I wilt grant you respite" (Mt 11: 28). All those present fell to the ground in trembling. The Voice continued: "Find the man of God, departing unto life eternal, and have him pray for the city". They began to search through all of Rome, but they did not find the saint. From Thursday into Friday the Pope, making the all-night vigil, besought the Lord to point out the saint of God. After Liturgy again was heard the Voice in the temple: "Seek the man of God in the house of Eufimian". All hastened thither, but the saint was already dead. His face shown like the face of an Angel, and in his hand was clasped the parchment, which he did not let go of, nor were they able to take it. They placed the body of the saint on a cot, covered with costly coverings. The Pope and the emperor bent their knees and turned to the saint, as to one yet alive, asking to open up his hand. And the saint fulfilled their prayer. When the letter was read, the father and mother and betrothed of the righteous one tearfully venerated his holy remains.
The body of the saint, from which began to be worked healings, was put amidst the square. The emperor and the Pope themselves carried the body of the saint into the church, where it was situated for a whole week, and then was placed in a marble crypt. From the holy relics there began to flow fragrant myrh, bestowing healing unto the sick.
The venerable remains of Saint Alexis, man of God, were buried in the church of Saint Boniface. In the year 1216 the relics were opened.
The Life of the holy monk Alexis, man of God, was one always loved in Rus'.
The Monk Makarii of Kalyazinsk (in the world Matfei) was born in 1400 in the village of Gribkovo (Kozhino), near the city of Kashin, into the family of the boyar Vasilii Kozha. From youth he yearned after monasticism, but at the will of his parents he married. After a year his parents died, and after three years more reposed also his wife Elena. Having nothing that would bind him to his former life, Matfei was vowed a monk at the Nikolaev Klobukovsk monastery. Out of love for solitude he left the city monastery and together with 7 monks he found a place 18 versts from Kashin amidst two lakes near the Volga. Here the monk raised up a cross and founded a solitary wilderness monastery. The boyar Ivan Kolyaga, to whom the nearby lands belonged, began to fear that a monastery would grow up, which would begin to cultivate the wastelands. The enemy of salvation planted in the boyar such spite and enmity, that he decided to kill the saint. But suddenly a grievous illness befell him. Fear of the nearness of death awakened repentance in the boyar. The sick Kolyaga gave orders to carry him to the monk and at his feet told about his evil intent and asked forgiveness. "God forgive thee", -- answered the humble ascetic. Wishing to expiate his sin and striving to help the monk, the boyar gave away his lands to the growing monastery. The monks erected a temple in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity. The talk that spread round about of the conversion of the boyar Kolyaga brought unto the monk many, seeking salvation. It became necessary to choose an hegumen. The monk Makarii was then already no less than 53 years of age, but he considered himself unworthy of this dignity and he asked each of those older coming to him to accept being priest and hegumen. But yielding to the common will, the monk was made hegumen by the Tver' bishop Moisei*. (* The successor of Bishop Moisei upon the cathedra was the brother by birth of the Monk Makarii -- Bishop Gennadii (Kozhin) (1460-1477). Famed for sanctity was also the nephew of the Monk Makarii -- the Monk Paisii of Uglich (+ 1504; Comm. on 8 January and 6 June). At the Kalyazinsk monastery was preserved an anthology of sermons of Sainted Gregory the Theologian, copied by him.).
The new hegumen prepared with long solitary prayer for his first service at the altar of God, and then communed all the brethren with the Holy Mysteries. In the dignity of hegumen, the monk Makarii laboured at guidance with all the brethren. Afterwards there were preserved at the monastery 2 chalices, a paten and 2 scutellae (plates -- bliuda), fashioned by the monk Makarii on a lathe. He guided not only the monks, but also laypeople coming to the monastery, equally dealing with both the knowledgeable and the simple. Despite his origin and position of hegumen, the monk wore scrawny, frayed and patched clothing. In his mannerism and all his way of life the Monk Makarii was so simple, that the haughty heretic, prince-monk Vassian, sneeringly called him the "Kalyazinsk peasant". The monk himself love more to hear mockery about himself than praise. He went often to the solitary places, so as to take delight in the desired aloneness with nature. Wild animals, sensing his gentleness, sometimes took food from him.
The spiritual visage of the Monk Makarii was close to the spiritual visage of the Monk Paphnutii of Borovsk (+ 1 May 1477). Not by chance did the disciple of the Monk Paphnutii -- the Monk Joseph of Volotsk (+ 9 September 1515) -- visit the Monk Makarii in 1478 and write down his account about him: "When I arrived at this place, -- said the monk Makarii of Kalyazinsk, -- there came with me seven elders from the monastery of Klobukovsk. They were so excellent in virtues, fasting and monastic life, that all the brethren came to them to receive instruction and benefit. They enlightened all and taught for their benefit: they affirmed the living in the virtues, and those inclined to misconduct they restrained with censure, and neither did they connive to do their own will". The humble hegumen was however silent about his own efforts. But they were not hid from the insight of the monk Joseph. Perceiving the holiness of the hegumen, he accounted him blessed and told about the life of the monastery: "Such piety and decorum were in that monastery, whereof everything was done in harmony with the patristic and communal traditions, that even the great starets (elder) Mitrophan Byval'tsev was amazed. He had then come from Holy Mount Athos, where he spent 9 years, and said to the brethren: "In vain and without success did I take such a path to the Holy Mountain missing the Kolyazinsk monastery. Indeed it is possible for the living to find salvation in it: here everything is done similar like in the coenobic ("koino-biotic" or communal monasteries) of the Holy Mountain".
From the moment when the monk Makarii settled in the wilderness, he did not take leave of his strict rule through old age. Already during his life the monk repeatedly healed the paralysed and the demon-afflicted. The monk reposed on 17 March 1483. At the time of his death they found on him heavy chains, about which no one knew. The undecayed relics of the monk Makarii were uncovered on 26 May 1521 during the digging of ditches for a new church. A Council of 1547 established his local festal celebration.
Saint Marin, inspired by ardent love for Christ the Saviour, destroyed the altar in an idolous temple on one of the feasts, trampling underfoot the sacrifices and confessed himself a christian in front of everyone. After cruel tortures the saint was beheaded.
Copyright 1997 by translator Fr. S. Janos.