March 1st (III - 14)
Icon of St. Eudokia and Martyress Domninas
Monastic Martyress Eudocia (+ 160-170). Martyrs: Nestor and Tribimios (+ c. 249-251); Marcellus and Anthony; Sylvester and Sophronius; Nestorian, Cartios, Nicephoros, and Agapios; Antonina (+ c. 305); 1000 Martyrs of Saboreia. Nun Domnina the Syrian (+ c. 450-460). Monk Agapios of Batopedeia (Athos). Monk Martyrii of Zelenetsk (+ 1603).
The Holy Monastic Martyress Eudocia was a Samaritan, a native of the city of Iliopolis in Phoenician Lebanon. Her pagan impiety took her off the good path, and for a long time she led a sinful life. Her soul was deadened and her heart hardened.
One time at midnight Eudocia awoke and heard from beyond the wall in the other half of the house, where there lived a Christian, the singing of a molieben and reading of Holy Scripture, in which it spoke about the eternal bliss prepared for the righteous, and about the punishment awaiting sinners. The grace of God touched the heart of Eudocia, and she realised, that these results of her sin lay grievously upon her soul.
In the morning Eudocia hastened to call on the man, whose rule of prayer she heard by night. This was the elder named Germanos, returning from pilgrimage along the holy places to his own monastery. Eudocia listened for a long time to the guidance of the elder, and her soul as it were came alive and she was filled with joy and love for Christ. She besought the elder Germanos to come to her after several days, during which she secluded herself within the house and gave herself over in repentance to fasting and prayer.
The elder Germanos summoned a presbyter, and after the testing of being a catechumen Eudocia received holy Baptism from the bishop of Iliopolis, Theodotos. Having given away all her wealth to the poor, she withdrew into a monastery and took upon herself very strict acts of penitence. The Lord granted forgiveness to the penitent sinner and endowed her with graced spiritual gifts.
One time, when she was already head of the monastery, the young pagan Philostrates appeared at the monastery. Aflame with impious passion, he under the guise of a monk came into the monastery and began to urge the Nun Eudocia to return to Iliopolis, and begin anew her former life. "May God in revenge stop thee", -- angrily answered Eudocia, and the impostor-monk fell down dead. Fearing that in this she had served as an accomplice to murder, the sisters intensified their prayer and besought the Lord to reveal to them His will.
The Lord Himself appeared to Saint Eudocia in a dream vision and said: "Rise up, Eudocia, and get down on the knees and pray, and thy tempter wilt arise". And through the prayer of Eudocia, Philostrates revived. Having been restored to life, the pagan besought the nun to forgive him. And having accepted holy Baptism, he withdrew into Iliopolis. And from that time he never forgot the mercy of God shown him, and he started onto the way of repentance.
A certain while passed, when another situation occurred. Inhabitants of Iliopolis reported to the governor named Aurelian, that in accepting Christianity Eudocia allegedly had concealed her wealth at the monastery. Aurelian sent a detachment of soldiers to confiscate these supposed treasures. But over the course of three days the soldiers tired in vain to get close to the walls of the monastery: an invisible power of God guarded it. Aurelian again sent soldiers to the monastery, this time under the lead of his own son. But on the very first day of the journey the son of Aurelian badly injured his leg and soon died. Then Philostrates counseled Aurelian to write to the Nun Eudocia, imploring her to revive the youth. And the Lord, by His infinite mercy, and through the prayers of Saint Eudocia, restored the youth to life. Having witnessed this great miracle, Aurelian and his close associates believed in Christ and were baptised.
When persecutions against Christians intensified, they arrested the Nun Eudocia and brought her for torture to the governor Diogenes. The military-commander Diodoros torturing her received news about the sudden death of his wife Firminia. In despair he rushed to Saint Eudocia with a plea to pray for his departed wife. The monastic-martyress, filled with great faith, turned to God with prayer and besought of Him the return of Firminia to life. Becoming convinced as eye-witnesses to the power and grace of the Lord, Diodoros and Diogenes believed in Christ and after a certain while were baptised together with their families. The Nun Eudocia lived for awhile at the house of Diodoros and enlightened the newly-illumined Christians.
One time the only son of a certain widow, working in the garden, was bitten by a snake and died. The mother bitterly bewailed her dead son. Having learned of her grief, Saint Eudocia said to Diodoros: "The time is at hand for thee to show faith in the Almighty God, Who heareth the prayers of penitent sinners and by His mercy doth grant them forgiveness".
Diodoros was distressed, not considering himself worthy of such boldness before the Lord, but he obeyed Saint Eudocia. He prayed and by the Name of Christ he commanded the dead one to rise, and before the eyes of everyone present the youth revived.
The Nun Eudocia returned to her monastery, in which she pursued asceticism for 56 years.
After the death of Diogenes the new governor was Vicentius, a fierce persecutor of Christians. Having learned of the fearless confessor of the Christian faith, he gave orders to execute her. The holy nun-martyress was beheaded on 1 March (c. 160-170).
The Monk Martyrii of Zelenetsk, in the world Mina, hailed form the city of Velikie Luki. His parents, Kozma and Stefanida, died when he was but ten years old. He was raised by his spiritual father, a priest of the city's Annunciation church, and the lad all more and more became attached in soul to God.
Having become a widower, his guardian accepted monasticism with the name Bogolep at the Velikoluksk Trinity-Sergeev monastery. Mina often visited with him at the monastery, and later on he himself accepted monastic vows there taking the name Martyrii. For seven years teacher and student toiled for the Lord unrelentingly in a single cell, encouraging each other in deeds of work and prayer. The Monk Martyrii bore the obediences of "kellarios" (food-cellarer), treasurer, and "ponomar" (or "ponomonarion", -- church-candler and altar-helper).
It was at this time that the Mother of God first shew Her especial solicitude for the Monk Martyrii. At mid-day he dozed off on a bell-tower and beheld on a fiery column an image of the Hodegetria MostHoly Mother of God. The monk with trembling gave kiss to it, still hot from the fiery column, and having awakened, he still sensed this heat on his forehead.
On the spiritual advise of the Monk Martyrii, the grievously ill monk Avramii went in veneration to the wonderworking Tikhvinsk Icon of the Mother of God, and he received healing. The Monk Martyrii was filled with intense faith in the intercession of the Mother of God. He began to pray the Heavenly Queen, that She would show whither he might shelter himself for going through the ascetic feat of complete silence, for which his soul did yearn. The monk secretly withdrew into a desolate place situated 60 versts from Velikie Luki. As the monk himself writes in his jottings, "in this wilderness I received great frights from demons, but I prayed God, and the demons were shamed". In a letter to the starets Bogolep, the monk besought blessing for wilderness life, but the spiritual father advised him to return to the monastic common-life, where he would be of use to the brethren. Not daring to be disobedient and not knowing, how to proceed, Saint Martyrii set out to Smolensk for veneration to the wonderworking Hodegetria (Way-Guide) Icon of the Mother of God and to the Wonderworker Avraamii (Abraham, Comm. 21 August). At Smolensk there appeared to the saint in a dream-vision the Monks Avraami and Ephrem, and they reassured him with the saying, that by the Lord it would be allotted him to live in the wilderness, "where God would bless and the MostHoly Mother of God would guide".
The monk thereupon set out to the Tikhvinsk monastery hoping, that there the Mother of God would resolve his dilemma. And actually, the monk Avramii, who in gratitude to the Mother of God for his healing remained at this monastery, told Saint Martyrii about a secret place, over which for him there was a vision of the radiant Cross of the Lord. Having received this time the blessing of the elder, the Monk Martyrii took with him two small, equally sized icons -- the one of the Life-Originating Trinity and the other of the Tikhvinsk MostHoly Mother of God; he set out to the wilderness place, named Zelena (Green), since it rose up as a beautiful green island amidst a forested swamp.
Harsh and with much sickness was the life of the monk in the wilderness, but neither cold, nor deprivation, nor wild beasts, nor the wiles of the enemy were able to shake his resolve to undergo the temptation to the end. He set up an oratory place for prayer of thanks and glorification of the Lord and the MostHoly Mother of God, in which again he was granted to see in sleep an image of the Mother of God, this time -- sailing on the sea. To the right of the icon appeared the Archangel Gabriel and summoned the monk to kiss the image. After his trembling the Monk Martyrii went into the water, and the icon began to sink in the sea. The monk then cried out, and a wave carried him from the image to shore.
The wilderness was sanctified by the life of the hermit, and at it there began to arrive many, not only for instruction by the word and example of the monk, but also for settling down there together with him. The increased brotherhood of students prompted the monk to build a church in the Name of the Life-Originating Trinity, wherein he set his own prayer icons. In witness to the grace of God resting upon the monastery of the Monk Martyrii, the Monk Gurii was vouchsafed to see over the cross atop the church -- the Cross radiant in the heavens.
Thus occurred the beginning of the Trinity Zelenetsk monastery -- "the Martyriev Green wilderness-monastery". The Lord blessed the labour of the monk, and the grace of God shone visibly upon him himself. There spread afar the fame of his perspicacity and gift of healing. Many eminent people of Novgorod began to send gifts to the monastery. On the means provided by the pious boyar-noble Feodor Syrkov an heated church was built, consecrated in honour of the Annunciation of the MostHoly Mother of God in memory of the first church at Velikie Luki, from whence the lad had begun his path to God.
From the Mother of God the monk continued to receive gracious invigoration. One time in an exquisite dream the Mother of God Herself appeared to him in his cell, at the icon-shelf whereupon stood the icons. "I glanced, not looking away, upon Her holy face, upon the eyes, filled with tears, ready to trickle upon Her all-pure face. I awoke from the dream and was in fright. Lighting a candle from the lampada, so as to look -- did the MostPure Virgin indeed sit at the place, where I saw Her in the dream. I went up to the image of the Hodegetria and was convinced, that in truth the Mother of God in that image appeared to me, as She is depicted on my icon", -- reminisced the monk.
Soon after this (about the year 1570) the Monk Martyrii was ordained priest at Novgorod by the archbishop (Alexander or Leonid). It is known, that in 1582 he was already hegumen.
Later on the Lord granted the Zelena wilderness-monastery still greater charitable bestowal of wealth. In 1595 at Tver' Saint Martyrii healed the dying son of the former Kasimovsk ruler Simeon Bekbulatovich, praying in front of his own icons of the Life?Originating Trinity and the Tikhvinsk Mother of God, and then placing the image of the MostHoly Mother of God upon the chest of the sick one. By way of gratitude from Simeon there was built a church in honour of the Tikhvinsk Icon of the Mother of God and of Sainted John Chrysostom -- the Heavenly patron-saint of the healed ruler's son John.
In 1595 tsar Feodor Ioannovich gave the monastery a grant of endowment, in furtherment of the monastery founded by the monk.
Having reached extreme old age and preparing for death, the Monk Martyrii dug out a grave for himself, set in it a coffin fashioned by his own hands, and there much wept. Sensing his imminent departure, the monk convened the brethren and besought his children in the Lord to have steadfast hope in the MostHoly Life-Originating Trinity and to trust implicitly on the Mother of God, as he himself had always trusted on Her. Having communed the Holy Mysteries of Christ, he gave the brethren blessing with the words: "Peace to all the Orthodox", -- and in spiritual happiness he reposed in the Lord on 1 March 1603.
The monk was buried in the grave dug out by him near the church of the Mother of God, and later on his holy relics rested beneathe a crypt in the church of the MostHoly Trinity, beneathe the under-temple in honour of Saint John the Theologian. A former monk of the Zelenetsk monastery, later on Metropolitan of Kazan and Novgorod Kornilii (+ 1698), compiled a service and wrote down the life of the Monk Martyrii, making use of personal notes and the testament of the monk.
The memory of the Monk Martryrii of Zelenetsk and Velikoluksk is celebrated also on 11 November.
The Holy Martyrs Nestor and Tribimios were native to the Asia Minor district of Pamphylia. During a time of persecution by the impious emperor Decius (249-251) they fearlessly preached about Christ. When the saints were brought before the pagan court, the governor gave orders to lay out afront them all sorts of instruments of torture, to frighten them and impel them to renounce the Christian faith. The saints answered to all the threats, that no one could separate them from Christ. The angered judge gave orders to torture them with the instruments of torture. They scourged the holy martyrs with dried ox thongs, suspended them from a tree and flayed at their bodies, but Saints Nestor and Tribimios did not cease to glorify the Lord and, when they were beheaded, they inherited the Heavenly Kingdom.
The Holy Martyress Antonina suffered at Nicea during a time of persecution under the emperor Maximian (284-305). After fierce tortures, Saint Antonina was thrown into prison. But in no way could Maximian compel the saint to renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to idols. Angels of God appeared to the holy martyress and the executioners took fright. And even when they placed the martyress in Christ on a red-hot cot, Saint Antonina by the power of God remained unharmed. Finally, after long torture they tied the saint into a sack and sunk it in a lake. And soon thereafter she was glorified in the rank of the saints.
The Nun Domnina of Syria was a disciple of Saint Maron (Comm. 14 February). In her mother's garden the nun built herself an hut, covered it with straw, and asceticised in it, taking as food only lentils soaked in water. Each morning and evening the nun went to church, covered in a veil so that no one ever saw her face. The voice of the nun, in the words of her biographer Blessed Theodorit, was "resonant and expressive, and her words always accompanied by tears". The holy ascetic peacefully expired to the Lord in about the years 450-460.
The Monk Agapios, a novice-obedient of an elder of silence at the former Batopedeia skete-monastery Kalitsa, was taken into captivity by Turks that had landed on the shore of Athos, and from there taken him to Magnezia and there he worked in chains for 12 years. But he did not lose hope for freedom and fervently he prayed to the Mother of God. One time the Heavenly Mediatrix manifested Her Mercy to the patient sufferer -- in sleep She ordered him "without fear to go to his elder". It turned out, that in reality he had become free of his bounds. Without hindrance the Monk Agapios departed from his master and returned to Holy Mount Athos. But his demanding guide, testing the humility of the novice, in having been liberated so miraculously, and wanting still more to intensify within him faith in the almighty Providence of God, counseled him to return and serve the Turks until such time, as God Himself would have the master in a state of mind to set free the captive. Saint Agapios returned without complaint into servitude. Struck by such humility in a Christian and by his great faith, the master with joy not only set free the Monk Agapios, but also he himself with two of his sons departed with him to the Holy Mountain, and there he was baptised and accepted monasticism and asceticised until his very end.
© 1998 by translator Fr. S. Janos.