March 24th (IV - 6)
Icon of St. Artemios, Bishop of Seleucia
Pre-Feast of Annunciation to MostHoly Mother of God. Sainted Artemon, Bishop of Seleucia (I-II). Monks Zakharios the Monastic; Martin the Thivean. Sainted Seberos, Bishop of Katania (+ c. 802-811). PriestMartyr Parthenios, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 1657). Monk Zakharii, Faster of Pechersk, in Farther Caves (XIII-XIV). Martyrs Stephen and Peter of Kazan (+ 1552). Icon of the Mother of God, named "the Beclouded Mount"(Tuchnaya Gora).
Sainted Artemon, Bishop of Seleucia, was born and lived in Pisidian Seleucia (Asia Minor). He was pious and virtuous, wherefore the holy Apostle Paul (Comm. 29 June), having come to Seleucia, established Saint Artemon as first bishop of this city, as the one most worthy. Saint Artemon wisely nourished the flock entrusted to him and won glory as a comforter of the poor and oppressed. Saint Artemon died in extreme old age.
(In the ancient Slavonic of the Saints "Seleucian" was written as "Seleoukinian" from which appeared "Seleunian". However, also in several of the Greek memorials the sainted bishop was called Soluneian [ie. of Thessalonika]. Sainted Artemon (or Artemios) appeared in the Mesyatseslov Saint-lists either as Seleucian or Soluneian. In the second half of the XVII Century these two names were mistakenly applied to various persons).
The Monk Zakharios the Monastic for his especial concern about the poor and homeless was entitled "to the outcast". In the printed Menaion his memory is designated as "our monastic father Zakharios" -- from whence there is an erroneous distinction in the Mesyatseslov of Zakarios with the monk Zakharios the Monastic.
The Monk Zakharii the Faster, of Pechersk, pursued asceticism in the Farther Caves in the XIII-XIV Cent. The strictness of his fasting reached such an extent, that he ate nothing baked nor boiled, and he consumed only greens (grasses) -- and this only once a day at the setting of the sun. Demons trembled at the mere mention of the name Zakharii. Often the monk saw Angels, with which he merited life in Heaven. The identification of the monk Zakharii, Faster of Pechersk, with the son of the Kievan inhabitant John -- Zakharii, who had given all his inheritance for the adornment of the Pechersk temple and become a monk at the monastery, -- is unfounded. John before death had transferred his property for maintaining to his friend Sergei. This was during the time when the hegumen was the Monk Nikon (+ 1088, Comm. 23 March). Zakharii at the time was 5 years old. At age 15, that is -- not later than the year 1098, he obtained his inheritance from Sergei, in order to give it to the monastery. However, the monk Zakharii -- Faster of Pechersk, lived approximately 200 years later.
The Holy Martyr Stephen of Kazan was by birth a Tatar. For more than 20 years he suffered a weakness of the legs. After the taking of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible (1552), he believed in Christ and received healing. The saint was baptised by Archpriest Timofei of the Moscow cathedral, who had conveyed a missive of Metropolitan Makarii to the Russian army. After the withdrawal of the Russian army from Kazan, the Tatars -- because of the firmness of his Christian faith, chopped up the martyr Stephen into parts, scattered about his body and plundered his house.
The Holy Martyr Peter of Kazan together with the martyr Stephen suffered from the Kazan Tatars for his conversion to Christianity from Mussulmanism.
After the leaving of the Russian army, the natives seized him by force from his home and addressed him by his former mussulman name, hoping that he would abjure from Christ. But to all the endearment and persuasion Saint Peter answered: "Father for me and mother -- is God glorified in Trinity: Father and Son and Holy Spirit... If ye believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, then ye be kin to me; in holy Baptism the name Peter was given me, and not that, by which ye address me".
Seeing that he would remain steadfast in the faith, his family gave him over to torture, during the time of which until his very death amidst fiercesome torments he did not cease to confess the Name of Christ, uttering: "I am a Christian". The holy martyr was buried in Kazan on the spot, where later was situated an ancient church of the Resurrection of Christ, at the Zhitny-Grain marketplace.
About the holy martyrs Stephen and Peter of Kazan is account: "Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate", 1977, No. 9, p. 79-80.
The PriestMartyr Parthenios III, Patriarch of Constantinople, guided the Church in the years 1656-1657. He was accused of state treason and tortured for his refusal to accept Islam. The saint died on Lazarus Saturday in 1657.
The Icon of the Mother of God "the Beclouded Mount" (Tuchnaya Gora): About 250-300 years ago this icon was situated in one of the men's monasteries of Tver' and was presented by the superiour to Kosma Volchaninov in gratitude for the fine completion of work in the monastery church. This icon as an holy thing was passed on from generation to generation, but a certain impious grandson of Kosma removed it hanging the icon in an attic. His bride endured many insults from her husband and his relatives. In despair over her marriage she resolved to end it by suicide in a deserted bath-house. On the way there a monk appeared to her and said: "Whither goest thou, unhappy one? Return back; go, pray to the Mother of God of the Beclouded Mountain -- and thou wilt live fine and in peace". The agitated young wife, having returned home, told everything, not concealing even her interrupted intention. They started to search for the monk, but they did not find him, and no one besides her had seen him. This took place on the eve of the feast of the Annunciation to the MostHoly Mother of God. They immediately found the icon in the attic, cleaned off the dirt and set it up in the house in a place of veneration. In the evening the parish priest was invited, who made before the icon the all-night vigil, which from that time was done annually in the house on this day. For more than 150 years the icon was situated in the Volchaninov family. Ekatherina, daughter of Vasilii, the last of the Volchaninov line, entered into marriage with Georgii Ivanovich Konyaev, taking with her the icon of the Mother of god as a very dear inheritance. And in the Konyaev house moliebens and all-night vigils were done on 24 March and 7 November (probably, this was the day of the transfer of the icon from the monastery to the house of Kosma Volchaninov).
In 1863 near a cemetery church of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God it was decided to build a chapel in honour of Sainted Tikhon and the Monk Makarii of Kalyazinsk. The then owner of the icon, Georgii Konyaev (+ 1868, at age 97) wanted to bestow the health-bearing image of the Mother of God to the church. He turned to the clergy with a request to build still another chapel for the wonderworking image of the Mother of God of the "Beclouded Mount". Along with this he said: "I feel the very best place for it is the temple of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God, since the place on which the church was built, in olden times was called a Mount, as being the very highest place in the city. On this Mount in former times the inhabitants in time of flood took up their possessions and here saved themselves from ruin. Let the Queen of Heaven -- the BeClouded Mountain -- rest with your blessing upon this mountain and let all here buried be veiled with Her mercy". On 15 July 1866 the icon was transferred into the constructed chapel, which on the following day was consecrated by the Staritsk bishop Antonii.
On the icon the MostHoly Mother of God is depicted standing on an half-circle elevation -- a mountain; upon Her left arm -- the Divine-Infant with blessing right hand. Upon the head of the Mother of God is a crown, and in Her hand a not-large mountain, on which are seen above churches with cupolas and crosses.
© 1997 by translator Fr. S. Janos.