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March 28th (IV -10)

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of St. Hilarion and Herodion the Apostle of the 70

Monk Ilarion (Hilary) the New, Hegumen of Pelikition (+ c. 754). Monk Stephen the Wonderworker, Hegumen of Trigleion (+ c. 815). MonkMartyr Evstratii of Pechersk, in Nearer Caves (+ 1097). Monk Ilarion of Pskovoezersk and Gdovsk (+ 1476). Martyrs: Jonah and Barachis, and with them Zanypha (Zanyphanes), Lazaros, Marupha (Maruphanes), Narses (Narsynes), Ilias, Maros (Marinos), Habib, Sibeithos (Sybeiphines) and Sava of Persia (+ c. 330). Martyr Boyan, Prince of Bulgaria (+ c. 830). Monk Jona of Klimetsk and Olonetsk (+ 1534). Sainted Basil. Sainted John, Bishop of Maglia (+ 1751, Gruzia). Saint Spyridon. Saint Basilissa.

The Monk Ilarion (Hilary) the New, Hegumen of Pelikition Monastery, from the time of his youth devoted himself to the service of God and spent many years as an hermit. Because of his holy and immaculate life he was at first granted the dignity of presbyter, and later on he was made hegumen of the Pelikition monastery (nearby the Dardanelles Straits). The Monk Ilarion was granted of the Lord gifts of perspicacity and wonderworking. By the graced power of prayer he brought down rain during a time of drought, and like the Prophet Elisei (Elijah) he separated the waters of a river, he rid harmful beasts from the fields, he filled the nets of fishermen during a time of luckless fishing, and he did many other miracles. Besides which, he was glorified by the gift of healing the sick and casting out demons. The monk suffered in the year 754 on Great Thursday of Holy Week, when the military-commnander Lakhanodrakon -- in pursuit of icon-venerators, suddenly descended upon the Pelikition monastery, boldly forcing his way into the church during the time of Divine-services, disrupting the service and throwing the Holy Gifts upon the ground. Forty-two monks were arrested, slapped into chains, dispatched to the Edessa district and murdered. The remaining monks were dealt horrible mutilations, they beat them, they scorched their beards with fire, they smeared their faces with tar and cut off the noses of certain of the confessors. During the time of this tormenting persecution the Monk Ilarion died for the veneration of icons.

The Monk Ilarion left behind spiritual works, in which are contained profound moral directives about spiritual asceticism. The Monk Joseph of Volotsk (Comm. 9 September and 18 October) was well acquainted with the work of the Monk Ilarion, and in his own theological works he likewise expounded the significance of monastic effort.

The Monk Stephen the Confessor, Hegumen of Trigleion Monastery, suffered under the iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820). From the time of his youth the holy ascetic dedicated his life to God and accepted monastic tonsure. He later became head of the Trigleion monastery near Constantinople. When persecution again began against holy icons, the saintly hegumen was summoned to an interrogation, where they tried to force him to sign to a rejection of icon-veneration. The Monk Stephen steadfastly refused to betray Orthodoxy and he boldly denounced the emperor for impiety. They subjected the saint to cruel torments, after which they sent him off into imprisonment in the year 815. Weakened and sick, the holy Confessor Stephen soon died in prison from his sufferings.

The MonkMartyr Evstratii of Pechersk was born in the XI Century at Kiev into a wealthy family. At maturity he accepted monastic tonsure at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery, having given away all his substance to the poor. The Monk Evstratii humbly underwent obediences at the monastery, strictly fulfilling the rule of prayer and passing his days in fasting and vigilance.

In 1096 the Polovetsians fell upon Kiev and ravaged the Pechersk monastery, doing away with many of the monks, but the Monk Evstratii was taken into captivity, and with thirty monastic labourers and twenty Kievan people he was sold into slavery to a certain Jew, living in the city of Korsun. The impious Jew began to urge the captives to renounce Christ, threatening to kill those that refused by starving them in their very shackles. But the brave Monk Evstratii prayerfully encouraged and exhorted his brother Christians with spiritual guidance: "Brothers! Whoso of us that is baptised and believeth in Christ, let him not betray the vow, given during Baptism. Christ hath made us reborn by water and the Spirit, He hath freed us from the curse of the law by His Blood, and He hath made us heirs of His Kingdom. If we live -- we shalt live for the Lord; if we die -- we die in the Lord and at the time of death we shall find eternal life". Inspired by the words of the monk, the captives preferred rather to perish from lack of food and drink, than to renounce Christ, Who is the food and drink of Life Eternal. Exhausted by hunger and thirst, all fifty captives after some days perished. Only the Monk Evstratii remained alive, since from his youthful years he was accustomed to fasting. Languishing with hunger, he still during the course of fourteen days did not touch food nor water. The impious Jew, seeing that because of the black-garbed monk his money paid out for the captives had been lost, decided to take revenge on the holy monk.

The Radiant Resurrection of Christ drew nigh, and the Jewish slave-owner at the time of celebrating the Jewish Passover and having gathered together his companions, then crucified the Monk Evstratii on a cross. The cruel tormentors gathered around the crucified saint, and mocking the passion-bearer offered him to taste of their Passover. To this the MonkMartyr answered: "The Lord hath now bestown upon me a great grace. He hath granted me the mercy to suffer for His Name on a cross after the manner of His Suffering...".

Hearing this, the enraged Jew grabbed a spear and struck with it at the MonkMartyr Evstratii nailed to the cross. The holy body of the sufferer, having been taken down from the cross, was thrown into the sea. Christian believers long searched for the holy relics of the martyr, but were not able to find them. But through the Providence of God the incorrupt relics were found in a cave and worked many miracles. Later on they were transferred to the Nearer Caves of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery.

The prediction of the holy Martyr Evstratii, that his blood would be avenged, was fulfilled immediately after his death. On that day was promulgated a decree of the Greek emperor to expel from Korsun all the Jews, depriving them of their property, and to put to death their elders for the torture of Christians. The Jew, who crucified the MonkMartyr Evstratii, was hung on a tree, having received just recompense for his wickedness.

The Monk Ilarion of Gdovsk and Pskovoezersk ("Pskov-Lake"), was a disciple of the Monk Evphrosyn of Pskov (Comm. 15 May). In 1460 on the banks of the River Zhelcha, not far from Gdov, he founded the Ozersk (Lake) Pokrov (Protection of the Mother of God) monastery. The monastery was situated on the boundary with the Livonian Knights order, and the monks constantly suffered the incursions of the military order. Despite the harsh conditions and insufficiency of means, the Monk Ilarion maintained an high degree of reverence at the monastery, and made great efforts to adorn and build up the monastery.

The Monk Ilarion reposed on 28 March 1476 and was buried at the north doors of the iconostas in the church of the Protection of the MostHoly Mother of God, in the monastery founded by him. Afterwards at the monastery was built a temple in honour of the Nativity of Christ, the left chapel of which was dedicated in the name of the founder of the Gdovsk monastery. The commemoration of the Monk Ilarion of Gdov is made also on 21 October, on the day of saint-name in common.

The Holy Martyrs Jonah and Barachis and the Others with them: The brothers Jonah and Barachis were Christians. They lived in the village of Yasa in Persia during the time of the emperor Sapor (310-331), a fierce persecutor of Christians. Having learned, that Christians were being tortured in the city of Baravokh, they set out thence, and found there in prison the Martyrs Zanyphanes, Lazaros, Maruphanes, Narsynes, Ilias, Marinos, Habib, Sybeiphines and Sava, -- and they encouraged them to hold on firmly to the Christian faith to the very end. The holy brothers were arrested and brought to trial before the Persian princes Masdrath, Siroth and Marmis, who began to urge them to bow down in worship to the sun, and to fire and water. The holy martyrs firmly confessed their faith in Christ in front of them and refused to fulfill the demands of the pagans, for which reason they were subjected to fierce torments.

Saint Jonah suffered first. They tied the martyr to a tree and for a long time they beat him, and then they dragged him along the ice of a frozen lake, they cut off his fingers and toes, they cut out his tongue, they peeled the skin from his head, and finally they sawed his body in half and threw it in a ditch.

For the holy Martyr Barachis they put red-hot shackles on his wrists, they poured molten tin in his nose, ears and moth, and they tore at him, having tied him to a turning wheel. The holy martyr gave up his spirit to God after they poured boiling tar in his mouth. The bodies of the holy martyrs Jonah, Barachis and the other brave passion-bearers were buried by a pious Christian by the name of Habdisotes.

The Holy Martyr Boyan, Prince of Bulgaria, suffered for the faith in Christ in about the year 830. When his pagan brother Malomir (Vladimir) entered upon the Bulgarian throne, noble prince Boyan turned to him with a request to set free from imprisonment the Christian Kinnamon (Kinam), who for a long time was in prison for refusing to participate in pagan offering of sacrifice under prince Obrit (Krutogon), the predecessor of prince Malomir.

The wish of noble prince Boyan was fulfilled and he, seeing the extreme exhaustion of Kinnamon, asked him what it was that he had so much suffered. In a lengthy conversation the enlightened Christian explained to the pagan prince Boyan the mistakenness of paganism and the need of the Christian faith for salvation. At the end of the amicable talk he told the prince: "Without Jesus Christ there is no light for the mind, nor life for the soul. He alone is Teacher of mankind and our Saviour, having reconciled fallen mankind with the true righteousness of God by His death. If thou wish not to perish -- believe in the Lord Jesus". Prince Boyan accepted holy Baptism with joy. The newly-converted prince, having come to Christian piety, was imbued with sincere love for prayer, fasting and meditation about God. Malomir, having learned about the conversion of his brother to Christianity, demanded of him a renunciation of the Christian faith and his return to paganism. Instead, the holy Prince Boyan answered: "I despise the pagan idols and I revere Christ, the True God, and no one can sway me from love for Christ". Malomir, hearing the answer of his brother, sentenced him to death by execution. Before his martyr's death the holy confessor-prince prophetically declared: "The faith for which I now die will spread throughout all the Bulgarian land. In vain do they hope to stop it by my death. Temples to the True God wilt be raised up, and the services to Him will not cease, but the idols and their foul sacrifices will vanish". And with a final prophetic word he turned to his brother Malomir: "From thy harshness thou will receive no benefit, and soon death wilt overtake thee".

The predictions of the holy martyr, killed by the sword, were first of all fulfilled over his brother. Malomir soon died, and since he had no heir, his elder brother Presiyan (836-852) succeeded to the throne. The son of prince Presiyan, -- the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Boris, in holy Baptism Michael (Comm. 2 May), afterwards baptsied the Bulgarian nation. Thus was fulfilled the prophesy of the holy Martyr Prince Boyan.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos



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