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March 26th (IV - 8)

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of Synaxis Archangel Michael and Archangel Gabriel

Leave-taking of Feast of Annunciation of the MostHoly Mother of God. Sobor-Synaxis of Archangel Gabriel. PriestMartyr Eusebius, Bishop of Cibalium (+ c. 257-258). PriestMartyr Ireneius, Bishop of Sirmium (+ 304). Martyrs: Pullius the Reader (+ 304); Codratus and 40 Martyrs. Twenty-six Martyred Goths: Presbyters Bathusius and Vercus, Monk Aprila, and LayPersons: Avius (Avipus), Agnus, Reas, Hegathrax, Hiscoeus, Silas, Sigicius, Sonirilus, Suimulius, Fermus, Fillus (Figlus), Constans, Prince Agathon, and Women-Martyrs: Anna, Alla, Larissa (Varisa), Moiko, Mamika, Wirko (Virko), Animaisa (Animaida), Haatha a Gothic Princess, and Duclida a Gothic Princess (+ c. 375). Monks: Malkhos of Syria (IV); Basil the New (+ c. 944); Stephanos Xulipites (Woodworker). Saint Abraham of Latrium. Meletineia Icon of the Mother of God.

Sobor-Synaxis of Archangel Gabriel: The Archangel Gabriel was chosen by the Lord to make the blest-announcement to the Virgin Mary about the Incarnation of the Son of God from Her, to the great rejoicing of all mankind. Therefore on the day after the feast of the Annunciation -- the day itself on which the All-Pure Virgin Herself is glorified, we give thanks to the Lord and we venerate His messenger Gabriel, who contributed to the mystery of our salvation.

The holy Archistrategos (Leader of the Heavenly Hosts) Gabriel acted in service to the Almighty God. He announced to Old Testament mankind about the future Incarnation of the Son of God; he inspired the Prophet Moses during the writing of the Pentateuch books of the Bible, he announced to the Prophet Daniel about the coming tribulations of the Hebrew People (Dan. 8: 16, 9: 21-24); he appeared to Righteous Anna with the news of the birth from her of the Ever-Blessed Virgin Mary. The holy Archangel Gabriel stayed constantly with the Holy Virgin Mary when She was a child in the Jerusalem Temple and afterwards watched over Her throughout all Her earthly life. He appeared to the Priest Zachariah, foretelling the birth of the Forerunner of the Lord -- John the Baptist. The Lord dispatched him to Saint Joseph the Betrothed: he appeared to him in a dream, to reveal to him the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God from the All-Pure Virgin Mary, and warned him of the wicked intentions of Herod, ordering him to flee into Egypt with the Divine-Infant and the Mother of God. When the Lord before His Passion prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane to the extent of sweating blood, according to Church tradition, to strengthen Him there was sent from Heaven the Archangel Gabriel, whose very name signifies "Strength of God" (Lk. 22: 43).

The Myrh-Bearing Women heard from the Archangel the joyous news about the Resurrection of Christ.

Mindful this day of the manifold appearances of the holy Archangel Gabriel and of his zealous fulfilling of the Divine Will, and confessing his intercession before the Lord for Christians, the Orthodox Church calls upon its children with faith and with fervour to have recourse in prayer to the great Angel.

(The account about the Sobor-Assemblage of the Bodiless Powers is located under 8 November.)

The PriestMartyr Ireneius suffered during the time of persecution against Christians under the Roman emperors Diocletian and Maximian (284-305).

He was a presbyter, and together with his wife he raised his children in Christian piety and gained great respect for his educated mind and strict manner of life.

He was later on made bishop in the city of Sirmium in Pannonia (modern-day Hungary). Because of his fervent preaching of faith in Christ he was arrested, and brought before a city-governor named Probus. Refusing to renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, the saint was handed over for torture. Witnessing his torments were the parents, kinsmen and friends of the saint, who attempted to persuade him to submit, but the martyr remained steadfast. After cruel tortures, the holy confessor was for a long time in prison. Probus tried to sway the will of the martyr, urging him to spare his life for the sake of his sons. But the martyr replied: "My sons believe in God, Who wilt care for them; for me however, nothing will compel me to renounce my Christ". The governor gave orders to throw the saint into a river. They led the martyr on the bridge crossing the River Sava, where he in kneeling then turned in prayer to the Lord for his flock the Sirmium Church. After his prayers they beheaded the PriestMartyr Ireneius, and threw his body into the river.

The Holy Martyrs Presbyters Bathusius and Vercus, the Monk Aprila, and the Layfolk: Avius, Agnus, Reas, Hegathrax, Silas, Sigicius, Sonorilus, Suimulius, Fermus, Fillus, Constans, Prince Agathon and the Women Martyrs: Anna, Alla, Larissa, Moiko, Mamika, Wirko, Animaisa (Animaida), the Gothic Princess Haatha and the Gothic Princess Duclida -- suffered in about the year 375 under king Ungerich, a persecutor of Christians. The king gave orders to burn down a church during the time of Divine-services. In the fiery inferno perished 308 people, of whom only twenty-one are known of by name. The Gothic king's widow Alla together with her daughter Duclida gathered up the remains of the holy martyrs and carried them off to Syria. She later returned to her native land, where after a certain while she was stoned and died a martyr, together with her son Agathon. The relics of the holy martyrs were left to Duclida, who sometime during the reigns of the emperors Valerian I (364-375) and Theodosius the Great (379-395), went to Kyzikos and gave over part of the relics for the founding of a church. The death of Righteous Duclida occurred peacefully.

The Monk Malkhos was the only son of a farmer, living not far from Syrian Antioch. Upon attaining the age of maturity, his parents had prepared to marry him off, but Malkhos secretly left his parental home and accepted monastic tonsure in one of the monasteries, where he underwent obediences over the course of many years. Learning about the death of his father, he decided to visit his widowed mother. The hegumen of the monastery would not bless the intent of the monk, but Malkhos disobeyed him, and joining a group of pilgrims, he set out for his native district. Along the way Saracens fell upon them, and took them all captive to become slaves. The master of Malkhos compelled him to marry one of his slaves. Saint Malkhos, with the mutual consent of his wife, preserved the vow of chastity. And with his spiritual spouse he fled from captivity. The master pursued them, but the fugitives hid in a cave, which proved to be the den of a lioness. The lioness did not touch the fugitives, but tore into the pursuers. Saint Malkhos, fulfilling the request of his wife, sent her off to a women's monastery, while he himself returned to his own monastery. By then he no longer found the hegumen among the living, and nevermore did the Monk Malkhos forsake the walls of the monastery. For the edification of monks he often told about his woes, which came about through disobedience. To the very end of his life the Monk Malkhos humbly asceticised in the monastery, where he peacefully died (IV).

The Monk Basil in youth left the world and asceticised in a desolate place. One time courtfolk of the Byzantine emperor were passing on by and saw him shaggy and in tatters, and they were alarmed by his strange appearance. And suspecting something strange, they captured the ascetic and brought him to the city, where the patrician Samon began an interrogation. To the question, who he was, the saint answered only, that he was a new-comer and stranger in the land. They subjected the monk to terrible tortures, but he endured it in silence, not wishing to relate about his ascetic life. Samon, having lost his patience, asked Saint Basil: "Impious one, how long wilt thou hide, who thou art and whither from?" To this the perspicacious saint replied: "It is moreso mete to call impious those, who like thee lead a life in all manner of impurity". After his public unmasking Samon in a rage gave orders to suspend the saint upside down with his hands and feet tied back. The torments were so very cruel, that those witnessing them began to murmur against Samon. When they took down the holy ascetic from the three-day torture, he proved to be alive and unharmed. Samon attributed this miracle to sorcery and gave Saint Basil for tearing apart by an hungry lion. But the lion did not touch the saint and only lay peacefully at his feet. Samon in his impotence gave orders to drown Blessed Basil the sea, but two dolphins came beneathe the saint and brought him to shore in the Constantinople suburb of Eudoma. The monk went into the city, when near the Golden Gates he met a sick man named John, suffering from fever. Saint Basil healed the sick man in the Name of the Saviour and at John's request remained at his home. Numerous believers came also to the saint for advice and guidance, and also to receive healing from sickness through his prayers. The Monk Basil, endowed with the gift of foresight, unmasked sinners and turned them onto the path of repentance, and foretold events to come. Among those visiting the monk was Gregory, who became his disciple and afterwards wrote a detailed life of his teacher. One time at an inn Gregory found a valuable sash, dropped by the inn-keeper's daughter. He hid it on him, so as to pawn it and give the money to the poor. But on the way home he lost the sash together with other things. In a dream he received an admonition from Saint Basil, showing him a broken pot with the words: "If anyone filches such an useless thing, they wilt be chastised four times over. Thou didst hide away a precious sash and thou wilt be condemned as a thief. Thou ought to return what thou didst find".

When died Saint Theodora, who had attended to the Monk Basil, Gregory very much wanted to learn about her life beyond the grave and often he asked the holy ascetic to reveal this to him. Through the saint's prayers, Gregory saw in a dream Saint Theodora, who told him how her soul underwent tribulations after death and how the power of the prayers of Blessed Basil had helped her (the Commemoration of the Nun Theodora of Tsargrad is 30 December).

The Monk Basil died in about the year 944 at the age of 110.

The Church calls him Basil the New, distinguishing him from other ascetics of the same name living before him.

© 2000 by translator Fr. S. Janos



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