March 18th (III - 31)
Icon of St. Cyril of Jerusalem and Monk Martyr Eukarpionos
Sainted Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem (+ 386). Martyrs Trophymos and Eukarpios (+ c. 300) and 10,000 Nicomedian Martyrs. Monks: Aninos the Monastic; Daniel (VI); Kirill of Astrakhan (+ c. 1576).
Saint Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem, was born in Jerusalem in the year 315 and was raised in strict Christian piety. Having reached the age of maturity, he became a monk, and in the year 346 he became a presbyter. In the year 350, upon the death of archbishop Maximos, he succeeded him upon the Jerusalem cathedra-seat.
In the dignity of Patriarch of Jerusalem, Saint Cyril zealously fought against the heresies of Arius and Macedonias. In doing so, he brought upon himself the animosity of the Arianising bishops, who sought to have him deposed and banished from Jerusalem.
In the year 351 at Jerusalem, on the feastday of Pentecost at the 3rd hour of the day, there occurred a miraculous portent: the Holy Cross appeared in the heavens, shining with a radiant light. It stretched forth from Golgotha over the Mount of Olives. Saint Cyril reported about this portent to the Arian emperor Constantius (351-363), hoping to convert him to Orthodoxy.
The heretic Akakios -- deposed by the Council of Sardica, was formerly the metropolitan of Caesarea, and in collaboration with the emperor he resolved to have Saint Cyril removed. An intense famine struck Jerusalem, and Saint Cyril went through all his own wealth on acts of charity. But since the famine did not abate, the saint began to pawn off church items, buying on the money in exchange wheat for the starving. The enemies of the saint mongered about a scandalous rumour, that they had apparently seen a woman in the city dancing around in clergy garb. And taking advantage of this rumour, the heretics by force threw out the saint.
The saint found shelter with bishop Siluan in Tarsus. After this, a Local Council gathered at Seleucia, at which there were about 150 bishops, and among them Saint Cyril. The heretical metropolitan Akakios did not want to allow him to take a seat, but the Council would not consent to this. Akakios thereupon quit the Council and in front of the emperor and the Arian patriarch Eudoxios he denounced both the Council and Saint Cyril. The emperor had the saint imprisoned.
When the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) ascended the throne, seemingly out of piety he repealed all the decrees of Constantius, directed against the Orthodox. Saint Cyril returned to his own flock. But after a certain while, when Julian had become secure upon the throne, he openly apostacised and renounced Christ. He permitted the Jews to start rebuilding the Jerusalem Temple that had been destroyed by the Romans, and he even provided them a portion of the means for the building from state monies. Saint Cyril predicted, that the words of the Saviour about the destruction of the Temple down to its very stones (Lk. 21: 6) would undoubtedly transpire, and the blasphemous intent of Julian would come to naught. And thus one time there occurred such a powerful earthquake, that even the solidly set foundation of the ancient Solomon Temple shifted in its place, and what had been erected anew fell down and shattered in dust. When the Jews nevertheless started construction anew, a fire came down from the heavens and destroyed the tools of the workmen. Great terror seized everyone. And on the following night there appeared on the garb of the Jews the Sign of the Cross, which they by no means could extirpate.
After this Heavenly confirmation of the prediction of Saint Cyril, they banished him again, and the cathedra-seat was occupied by Saint Kyriakos. But Saint Kyriakos soon suffered a martyr's death (+ 363, Comm. 28 October).
After the emperor Julian perished in 363, Saint Cyril returned to his cathedra-seat, but during the reign of the emperor Valens (364-378) he was sent into exile for a third time. It was only under the holy emperor Saint Theodosius the Great (379-395) that he finally returned to his archpastoral activity. In the year 381 Saint Cyril participated in the Second OEcumenical Council, which condemned the heresy of Macedonias and affirmed the Nicea-Constantinople Credal-Symbol of Faith.
Of the works of Saint Cyril, particularly known are 23 Instructions (18 are Catechetical for those preparing to accept Holy Baptism, and 5 are for the newly-baptised) and 2 Discourses on Gospel themes: "About the Paralytic" and "Concerning the Transformation of Water into Wine at Cana".
At the basis of the Catechetical Instructions is a detailed explanation of the Symbol of Faith. The saint suggests that the Christian should inscribe the Symbol of Faith upon "the tablets of the heart". "The articles of the faith, -- teaches Saint Cyril, -- were compiled not through human cleverness, but has therein gathered everything most important from all the entire Scripture, and as such it is compiled into a single teaching of faith. Just as the mustard seed within its small kernel has within it contained all its plethora of branches, thus precisely also does the faith in its several declarations combine all the pious teachings of the Old and the New Testaments".
Saint Cyril died in the year 386.
The Holy Martyrs Trophymos and Eukarpios were soldiers at Nicomedia during the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284?305). They distinguished themselves by their great ferocity in carrying out all the decrees of the emperor. One time, when these soldiers had caught up with some Christians, they suddenly saw a large fiery cloud which had come down from the sky, thickening in form nigh close to them. From out of the cloud came forth the Voice: "Why are ye so zealous in threatening My servants? Be not deluded: no one by their own powers can suppress those believing in Me, but better it is to join unto them and discover yourselves the Heavenly Kingdom". The soldiers in fright fell to the ground, not daring to lift up their eyes, and only said each to the other: "Truly it is the great God, manifest now unto us. We would do well to become His servants". The Lord then spake saying: "Rise up, repent, for unto ye is forgiveness of your sins". Having gotten up, they beheld within the cloud the image of a Radiant Man and a great multitude standing about Him. The astonished soldiers with one voice cried out: "Receive us, for our sins be inexpressibly wicked. No other is there a God besides Thee, the Creator and One True God, and we are not yet conjoined with Thine servants". But just as they spoke this, the cloud receded and rose up to the sky. Spiritually reborn after this miracle, the soldiers released all the incarcerated Christians from the prisons. For this Saints Trophymos and Eukarpios were handed over to terrible torments: they suspended the saints and tore at their bodies with iron hooks. They in prayer gave thanks unto God, in firm belief that the Lord would forgive them their former grievous sins. And when there was lighted up a bon-fire, the holy martyrs went willingly into the fire and there gave up their souls to God.
The Monk Aninos the Monastic was born at Chalcedon into a Christian family. After the death of his parents, he withdrew at age fifteen into a monastery, where he received monastic tonsure. In search of complete quietude he went off into the depths of the wilderness, where the River Euphrates separates Syria from Persia. There he came upon an elder named Maium and settled together with him. Both ascetics led a very strict life. During the whole Forty-Day Great Lent they ate nothing, taking delight and joy instead in spiritual nourishment.
Saint Aninos every day carried drinking water from afar. One time he returned with full water pitchers earlier than usual, since an Angel had filled the vessels with water. the elder Maium realised, that his student had attained to high spiritual accomplishment, and he in turn besought Saint Aninos to become his guide, but that one out of humility refused. Afterwards the elder re-settled into a monastery, and Saint Aninos remained alone in the wilderness.
By constant exertions the saint conquered the passions within himself, and he was granted gifts of healing and perspicacity. Even the wild beasts became docile and served him. Wherever the saint went, two lions followed after him, one of which he had healed of an hurt on the paw. Accounts about the saint spread throughout all the surrounding area, and the sick and those afflicted by evil spirits began to come to him, seeking healing. Several students likewise gathered around the saint. One time, in his seventeenth year as an ascetic, several men had come to the saint and asked for something to quench their thirst. Trusting on the power of God, the monk sent one of his disciples to a dried-up well. By a miracle of God this well filled up to its very top, and this water remained for many days. When the water ended, the monk did not dare to ask a miracle for himself, and by night he himself began to carry water from the Euphrates. The Neocaesarea bishop Patrikios repeatedly visited the monk and ordained him presbyter, although the humble ascetic was resolved not to accept the priestly dignity. And having learned, that the saint himself carried water from afar off, bishop Patrikios twice gave him donkeys, but the monk each time gave them away to the poor and continued to carry the water himself. Then the bishop gave orders to dig out a large well, which from time to time they filled, bringing donkeys from the city.
Saint Aninos discerned the desire of a certain pillar-dweller monk, asceticising afar off from him, to come down off his pillar and make a complaint in court against a robber, who had hurt him with a stone. Saint Aninos wrote a letter to the pillar-dweller, advising him not to carry out his intent. The letter of the monk was conveyed to the pillar-dweller by a trusty lion, and it brought him to his senses.
A certain pious woman, having fallen ill, set out to the Monk Aninos to ask prayers of him. Along the way a robber chanced upon her. Not finding any money on the woman, he decided to commit an act of violence and force her into sin. The woman called on the help of the monk and cried out: "Saint Aninos, help me!" Terror suddenly overcame the robber, and he let go the woman. Having continued on to the monk, the woman told him about everything and received healing. And the robber in repentance likewise came to the monk, accepted Baptism and tonsure as a monk. The spear, which he thrust into the ground, back when he had intended to commit his act of violence, grew up into a mighty oak.
At the extreme old age of 110 the saint foretold the time of his end, and he directed his successor as hegumen to gather the brethren.
Before his death Saint Aninos conversed with the holy Prophets Moses, Aaron and Or [or Hur: vide Ex. 24: 14], and with the words: "Lord, receive my soul", the saint expired to the Lord.
The 10,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia were beheaded after false denunciations against Christians were made at the instigation of the court.\
The Monk Daniel asceticised in Egypt in the VI Century. At the instigation of the devil they accused him of profligacy, and he endured without complaint all the unjust abuse, taking comfort in the words of the Lord: "Blessed are ye, when men shalt revile you... and shalt say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake" (Mt. 5: 11). The saint was the teacher of the Monk Anastasias the Patrician (Comm. 10 March).
The Monk Kirill (Cyril) of Astrakhan was archimandrite of the Trinity monastery in Astrakhan. He had been sent as hegumen to the newly-built monastery in the year 1568. The monk constructed at the monastery temples in honour of the MostHoly Trinity, the Entry of the MostHoly Mother of God into the Temple, and Saint Nicholas. He zealously concerned himself with the enlightening of the Astrakhan region, and by his meekness and piety he gained the respect of even the Mahometans, -- who called him the Kara-Daud (the Black David) in distinction from the holy Prophet King David. The monk died in about the year 1576. The icon of the saint was written in 1676 through a vow of Emel'yan Paphent'ev, whom the Monk Kirill had saved when he was drowning in the Volga. The Vita (Life of the saint was compiled in the year 1790, and a tropar and kondak to him is known. The Church established the feastday in memory of the Monk Kirill under 18 March [probably on the basis of his name-in-common with Saint Cyril of Jerusalem].
© 2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos