May 3rd (V -16)
Icon of Saints Ecoumene, Trikis, and Evias and the Martyrs Timothy and Maura
Martyrs Timothy and Maura (+ c. 286). Monk Theodosii (Feodisii), Hegumen of Kievo-Pechersk (+ 1074). Monk Peter the Wonderworker, Bishop of Argos (X). Martyr Paul of Vilensk (XVII). Icons of the Mother of God: the Kievo-Pechersk, Brought from Tsar'grad (1073); the Pechersk Not-Wrought-by-Hand (1085); the Pechersk (with Saints Antonii and Theodosii) (1085); the Svensk-Pechersk (1288); the Yaskinsk-Pechersk (682).
Saints Timothy and Maura suffered for the faith during the time of persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Saint Timothy came from the village of Perapa (Egyptian Thebaid), and was the son of a priest by the name of Pikolpossos. He was made a reader among the church clergy and likewise a keeper and copyist of Divine-service books. Saint Timothy came under denunciation that he was a keeper of Christian books, which by order of the emperor were to be confiscated and burned. They brought Saint Timothy before the governor Arian, who demanded him to hand over the clergy books. For his refusal to obey the command, they subjected the saint to horrible tortures. They shoved into his ears two red-hot iron rods, from which the sufferer lost his eyesight and became blind. Saint Timothy bravely endured the pain and he gave thanks to God, for granting him to suffer for Him. The torturers hung up the saint head downwards, putting in his mouth a piece of wood, and they tied an heavy stone to his neck. The suffering of Saint Timothy was so extreme, that the very ones executing the torment began to implore the governor to ease up on the torture. And about this time they informed Arian, that Timothy had a young wife by the name of Maura, whom he had married a mere 20 days before. Arian gave orders to bring Maura, hoping, that with her present they could break the will of the martyr. At the request of Maura, they removed the piece of wood from the mouth of the martyr, so that he could speak. Saint Timothy urged his wife not to be afraid of the tortures and to go the path with him. Saint Maura answered: "I am prepared to die with thee", -- and boldly she confessed herself a Christian. Arian gave orders to tear out the hair from her head and to cut off the fingers from her hands. Saint Maura with joy underwent the torment and even thanked the governor for the torture, suffered in the redemption of sins. Then Arian gave orders to throw Saint Maura into a boiling cauldron, but she did not sense any pain and she remained unharmed. Suspecting that the servants out of sympathy for the martyress had filled the cauldron with cold water, Arian went up and ordered the saint to splash him on the hand with water from the cauldron. When the martyr did this, Arian screamed with pain and drew back his scaulded hand. Then, momentarily admitting the power of the miracle, Arian confessed God in Whom Maura believed as the True God, and he gave orders to release the saint. But the devil still held great power over the governor, and soon he again began to urge Saint Maura to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Having gotten nowhere, Arian was overcome all the more by a satanic rage and he began to come up with new tortures. Then the people began to murmur and demand a stop to the abuse of this innocent woman. But Saint Maura, turning to the people, said: "Let no one defend me, I have one Defender -- God, on Whom I trust".
Finally, after long torments Arian gave orders to crucify the martyrs. Over the course of ten days they hung on crosses face to face with each other.
On the tenth day of martyrdom the saints offered up their souls to the Lord. This occurred in the year 286. Afterwards at Constantinople there began solemn celebration of the memory of the holy Martyrs Timothy and Maura, and a church was built in their honour.
The Monk Theodosii (Feodosii) of Pechersk, was the initiator of a life-in-common ustav (rule) and a father of monasticism in the Russian land. He was born at Vasilevo, not far from Kiev. From his youthful years he felt an irresistible attraction for the ascetic life, and led an ascetic lifestyle while still in his parental home. He disdained childish games and attractions, and constantly went to church. He himself asked his parents to let him go to study reading of the holy books, and through his evident abilities and rare zeal, he quickly learned the reading of the books, such that everyone was amazed at the intellect of the lad. At 14 years of age he lost his father and remained under the supervision of his mother -- a woman strict and domineering, but very much loving her son. She many a time chastised her son for his yearning after asceticism, but he remained firmly committed to his path. At 24 years of age he secretly left his parental home and took monastic vows, with the blessing of the Monk Antonii (Anthony), at the Kievo?Pechersk monastery with the name Theodosii. After four years his mother found him and with tears besought him to return home, but the saint himself persuaded her to remain in Kiev and accept monasticism in the monastery of Saint Nicholas at the Askol'd cemetery.
The Monk Theodosii toiled at the monastery more than others and not seldom he took upon himself part of the work of the other brethren: he carried water, chopped wood, ground up the rye-grain and carried the flour to each monk. On cold nights he uncovered his body and let it be food for gnats and mosquitoes, the blood flowed on him, but the saint patiently occupied himself with handicrafts and sang psalms. In church he appeared before others and, standing at a place, he did not leave it until the finish of Divine-services; the readings he listened to with particular attention.
In 1054 the Monk Theodosii was ordained to the dignity of priest-monk, and in 1057 he was chosen hegumen. The fame of his deeds attracted a number of monks to the monastery, at which he built a new church and cells, and he introduced the Studite common-life monastic-rule (ustav), a copy of which was made by his commissioning at Constantinople. In the dignity of hegumen the Monk Theodosii continued to fulfill very difficult duties at the monastery. The monk usually partook of only dry bread and cooked greens without oil. The nights passed for him without sleep in prayer, such that the brethren often took notice of this, although the chosen one of God also tried to conceal his efforts from others. No one was to see when the Monk Theodosii dozed lightly, and usually he rested sitting. During the period of Great Lent the saint withdrew into a cave situated not far from the monastery, where he asceticised with no one seeing. His attire was a coarse hair-shirt worn straight over his body, such that in this old man looking like a beggar it was impossible to recognise the reknown hegumen, deeply respected by all that knew him.
One time the Monk Theodosii was returning from GreatPrince Izyaslav. The coachman, not recognising whom he was, said gruffly: :Thou, monk, art always on holiday, but I constantly am at work. Get up on my place, and let me ride in the carriage". The holy elder meekly complied and drove the servant. Seeing how boyar nobles along the way bowed to the monk driving the horses, the servant took fright, but the holy ascetic calmed him, and upon their arrival gave him a meal at the monastery. Trusting on the help of God, the monk did not keep a large supply of food at the monastery, and therefore the brethren were in want of their daily bread. Through his prayers, however, unknown benefactors appeared at the monastery and furnished the necessities for the brethren. The great princes, and especially Izyaslav, loved to listen to the spiritual discourse of the Monk Theodosii. The saint was not afraid to denounce the mighty ones of this world. The unjustly condemned always found in him a defender, and judges would review matters at the request of the hegumen revered by all. The monk was particularly concerned about the destitute: he built for them at the monastery a special courtyard where anyone in need could receive food and drink. Having sensed beforehand his own end, the Monk Theodosii peacefully expired to the Lord in the year 1074. He was buried in a cave dug out by him, into which he secluded himself during lenten periods. The relics of the ascetic were found uncorrupt in the year 1091. The Monk Theodosii was enumerated to the ranks of the saints in 1108. From the written works of the Monk Theodosii there have survived to our time: 6 discourses, 2 missives to GreatPrince Izyaslav, and a prayer for all Christians. The Vita (Life) of the Monk Theodosii was compiled by the Monk Nestor the Chronicler, a student of the great abba, a mere 30 years after his repose, and it was always one of the favourite readings of the Russian nation. An account about the Monk Theodosii also is located under 28 September.
The Monk Peter the Wonderworker, Bishop of Argos, lived during the IX and early X Centuries, and was raised by pious parents. The parents of Saint Peter, and later on his brothers Paul, Dionysios, Platon and Saint Peter himself all became monastics. Saint Peter zealously devoted himself to monastic deeds, such that he excelled beyond all his fellows. This came to the attention of the Italian bishop Nicholas (who from 895 was Patriarch of Constantinople), who wanted to elevate him to the dignity of bishop, but Saint Peter declined, accounting himself unworthy of such honour. Bishop Nicholas ordained Paul, Saint Peter's brother, as bishop of Corinth, and Saint Peter went to his bishop-brother and lived with him, having taken upon himself the deed of silence. After a year emissaries came to Bishop Paul from the city of Argos, where the bishop had died, and they petitioned to make Saint Peter their bishop. After long and intense entreaties, Saint Peter finally gave his consent. Having become bishop, Saint Peter toiled zealously in guiding his flock, he was extraordinarily compassionate, he concerned himself about those in need, especially orphans and widows; in years of crop-failure the saint fed the hungry. Through the prayers of the saint the food, set aside for the hungry, never ran out. The saint likewise ransomed captives, healed the sick and the afflicted, and possessed the gift of insight. The saint long before predicted the day of his death and expired in peace to the Lord at age 70. His relics were transferred in 1421 from Argos to Nauplia, exuding myrh, and working miracles and healings.
The Kievo-Pechersk Icon of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God -- is one of the most anciently appeared icons in the Russian Orthodox Church. The MostHoly Mother of God entrusted it to 4 Byzantine architects, who in 1073 brought the icon to the Monks Antonii and Theodosii of Pechersk. The architects arrived at the cave of the monks and asked: "Where do ye want to begin the church?" The saints answered: "Go, the Lord will point out the place". "How is it that ye, anticipating impending death, have still not designated the place? -- wondered the architects -- And still they have given us so much gold". Then the monks called together all the brethren and they began to question the Greeks, saying: "Tell us the truth, who sent you and how did ye wind up hereabouts?". The architects started by saying: "One time, when each of us was asleep in our own homes, early -- at sunrise, handsome youths came to us and said: "The Queen doth summon you to Blakhernae". We all arrived at the same time and, in questioning one another we learned, that each of us had heard this command of the Queen and that those sent out had come to all of us. Finally, we beheld the Queen of Heaven with a multitude of warriors. We bowed down to Her, and She said: "I want to build Myself a Church in Rus', at Kiev, and herewith I do bid ye to do this. Take sufficient gold for 3 years". We however, having bowed ourselves down, asked: "Lady Queen! Thou dost send us to a foreign land, -- to whom there art we to go?" -- She answered: "I send you to these here, to Antonii and Theodosii". -- We wondered: "Why then, Lady, dost Thou give us gold for 3 years? With it bid also what concerns us, what we shalt eat and what we shalt drink, and provide us also with what Thou knowest about it". The Queen replied: "This one, Antonii, wilt give only but the blessing and expire from this world into eternal repose. And the other one, Theodosii, wilt follow him after 2 years. Wherefore, take gold abundantly sufficing. And moreover, to esteem you, know that no one is able to do this such as I shall. I shalt give ye, what neither ear hath heard, nor what eye hath seen nor what in heart hath been in ascent for man. I Myself shalt come to look upon the Church and I shalt dwell within it". -- She likewise gave us relics of the Holy Martyrs: Artemios, Polyeuktos, Leontios, Akakios, Aretha, James, Theodore, and said: "This place ye within the foundation". -- We took gold more than enough, and She said: "Come out the doorway, and behold the resplendid Church". -- We went out and beheld a Church in the air. Having come in again to the Queen, we bowed down and said: "Lady Queen, what wilt be the name of the Church?" -- She answered: "I wish to call it by Mine Own Name". -- We did not dare to ask, what Her Name was, but She Herself again said: "It wilt be the Church of the Mother of God". -- And, having given us this icon, She said: "This wilt be put within it". We bowed down to Her and went to our own homes, taking with us the icon, received from the hands of the Queen".
Having heard this account, all glorified God, and the Monk Antonii said: "My children, we never ventured out of this place. Those handsome youths summoning you were holy angels, and the Queen in Blakhernae -- was the MostHoly Mother of God Herself. And what regards our image and the gold given as through us, that the Lord only knoweth, how He deigned to do this with His servants. Blest be your arrival, ye have good accompaniment, the venerable icon of the Lady". For three days the Monk Antonii prayed, that the Lord Himself would show him the place for the church. After the first night there was a dew throughout all the land, but dry on the holy spot. On the second morning throughout all the land it was dry, but on the holy spot it was with dew. And on the third morning, having prayed, they blessed the place and measured out with a golden sash the width and length of the church. (This sash had long before been brought by the Varangian Shimon, who had a vision about the building of a church). A firebolt, falling from heaven through the prayer of the Monk Antonii, indicated that what was designated was pleasing to God. Thus was placed the foundation of the Divine Church.
The icon of the Mother of God was glorified by numerous miracles. Two friends, John and Sergei, sealed their friendship before it. After many years John fell mortally ill. He gave part of his wealth to the Pechersk monastery, and the portion for his 5 year old son he gave over for safekeeping to Sergei; he gave over to him also his son Zakharii under his guardianship. When Zakharii turned age 15, he wanted to receive the inheritance belonging to him, but Sergei persisted in saying, that John had distributed off everything to the poor. He persisted to such an extent, that he went into the Uspensk church and vowed before the wonderworking icon, that he had taken nothing. When he made attempt to kiss the icon, he was not able to come near it; he went to the doors and suddenly shouted out: "Holy Antonii and Theodosii! Let me not be struck down for this dishonesty, pray ye the MostHoly Mother of God, that She drive away from me this multitude of demons, to which I am given over. Let the gold and silver be taken away: it is sealed away in my granary". Zakharii gave off all his inheritance to the Pechersk monastery, where he also himself took monastic vows. And from that time no one would take oaths at the wonderworking icon.
The icon more than once defended the land from invasion of enemies. In 1677, when the Turks laid siege to Chigirin and danger threatened Kiev, they carried the icon around the city for almost the entire course of the day of 27 August. The Mother of God blessed Russian armies going to the Battle of Poltava (1709). In 1812 they again carried the icon around Kiev. The celebration of the icon is set twice within the year: 3 May and 15 August.
The Pechersk Not-Wrought-by-Hand Icon of the Mother of God appeared in the Great church of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery in the year 1085.
The Pechersk Icon of the Mother of God with the Monks Antonii and Theodosii depicts the Mother of God sitting upon a throne with a crown upon Her head. Her hands She places upon the Monks Antonii and Theodosii upon bent knee. Upon the knees of the Mother of God -- is the God-Infant, blessing with both hands. Along the sides of the throne are bowing Angels.
The Svensk-Pechersk Icon of the Mother of God was written by the Monk Alypii of Pechersk (+ c. 1114, Comm. 17 August, under which see the account about him). On the icon is depicted the Mother of God, sitting upon a throne, and upon Her knees is the God-Infant. At the right side of the throne stands the Monk Theodosii, and on the left -- the Monk Antonii of Pechersk. Until the year 1288 it was situated at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery, where it was glorified by miracles, and in 1288 it was transferred to the Bryansk Svensk monastery, named in honour of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God, in accord with the image. The Chernigov prince Roman Mikhailovich, then at Bryansk, fell blind. Hearing about the miracles worked by the icon of the Monk Alypii, the prince sent to the monastery a courier with a request to send him at Bryansk the icon for his healing. They dispatched the icon together with a priest along the River Desna. During the time of sailing the boat came in to land at the right bank of the River Svena. After lodging for the night they went to the boat to make prayers before the icon, but they did not find it there, and they saw it upon an hill opposite the River Svena. The icon stood on an oak amidst the branches. News of this reached prince Roman, and they led him to the icon on foot. The prince prayed fervently before the icon and vowed to build on that spot a monastery, bestowing on it all the land which could be seen from the hill. After the prayer the prince regained his sight. At first he saw the footpath, then nearby objects, and finally all the surroundings. Having made an enclosure for the icon, the prince had a molieben served, and then all that were gathered made the foundations for a wooden church in honour of the Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God. The tree, on which the icon set, they cut up and used as wood for other icons. And then was established a feastday of the Svensk Icon of the Mother of God on 3 May.
The icon was glorified by healings of the blind, demoniacs, and was a protector from enemies.
The Yasninsk-Pechersk Icon of the Mother of God appeared on 3 May 682 at Constantinople, and afterwards was transferred to the Kievo-Pechersk Lavra, where likewise it was glorified by numerous miracles.
© 1998 by translator Fr. S. Janos.