March 21st (IV - 3)
Icon of St. James the Confessor and St. Serapionos
Monk James, Bishop and Confessor (+ post 775). Sainted Cyril, Bishop of Catania (I-II). Sainted Thomas, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 610). Martyrs Philemon and Domninus. Monk Ananios.
The Monk James, Bishop and Confessor, had from his early years yearned towards the ascetic life. Saint James left the world and withdrew to the Studite monastery, where he was monasticised. He led a strict life, full of works, fasting and prayer. Pious as a monk and remarkably learned in Holy Scripture, the Monk James was elevated to the bishop's cathedra-seat of the Church in Catania (Sicily). During the reign of the iconoclast emperor Constantine V Kopronymos (741-775), Saint James was repeatedly urged in vain towards a renunciation of holy icons. They exhausted him in prison, starved him with hunger, and they beat him, but he bravely endured all the suffering. The holy Bishop James died in exile.
Sainted Cyril was born in Antioch. He was a disciple of the Apostle Peter (Comm. 29 June, 16 January), who installed him as bishop in the city of Catania in Sicily. Saint Cyril wisely guided his flock; he was pious, and was granted by the Lord the gift of wonderworking. By his prayer the bitter water in a certain spring was rendered drinkable and lost its bitterness: this miracle converted many pagans to Christianity. Saint Cyril died in old age and was buried in Sicily.
Sainted Thomas, Patriarch of Constantinople, was at first a deacon, and later under the holy Patriarch John IV the Faster (582-595) he was made "sakellarios" (sacristan) in the Great Constantinople church. After the death of holy Patriarch Kyriakos (595-606), Saint Thomas was chosen in 607 to the Constantinople Patriarchal throne. The saint concerned himself in every possible way about the spiritual needs of his flock.
During the time of the patriarchate of Saint Thomas, an ominous portent appeared in the land of Galatia (Asia Minor). The heavy crosses, which they carried during the times of church processions, began to shake, and to strike and chip at each other. To the Patriarch was summoned the noted perspicacious elder, the Monk Theodore Sikeotes (Comm. 22 April), who explained the meaning of this portent. According to his words, discords and disasters awaited the Church, and the state stood on the eve of destruction from barbarian invasion. Hearing this, the saint became terrified and besought the Monk Theodore Sikeotes to pray for him, that God should instead take his soul early, than for the predicted ruinations to occur.
After the death of the holy Patriarch Thomas (+ 610), disorders started in the Church. The successor to Saint Thomas, -- Patriarch Sergios (610-638), fell into the Monothelite heresy. Soon through the sufferance of God and for the extinguishing of the heresy, war started with Persia, which proved grievous for Byzantium. The Greek regions in Asia Minor were completely devastated, Jerusalem fell, and the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord was taken into captivity and carried off to Persia. Thus occurred all the misfortunes, portented by the miracle during the time of the church procession.