November 15th (XI - 28)
Icon of Saints Gourias, Abibus, and Samonas
Martyrs and Confessors Gurias, Samon (+ 299-306) and Habib (+ 322). Martyrs Elpidias, Marcellus and Evstochius (IV). Martyr Demetrius (+ c. 307). Monk Philip of Rabangsk (+ 1457). Monk Kyntion. Sainted Thomas the New, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 669). Icons of the Mother of God of Kupyatitsk (1180) and of "Fragrant Flower".
The Holy Martyrs and Confessors Gurias, Samon and Habib: During the time of persecution against Christians under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (305-311), two friends were arrested in the city of Edessa, the Christians Gurias and Samon, preachers of the Word of God. At the demand to offer sacrifice to the gods the saints answered with a decisive refusal and confessed their faith in Christ. For this they were subjected to cruel tortures: they beat them, hung them up by their hands, tied heavy weights to their feet, and cast them into a stifling prison. The martyrs endured everything with firmness and a prayer to the Lord, which one of the witnesses to the martyrs wrote down: "O Lord my God, without Whose will not a single sparrow falleth into the snare. Thou it was, Who wast diffused in the heart of David in sorrow, Who proved the Prophet David stronger than lions, and granted for a child of Abraham to be victor over torture and flames. Now also Thou knowest, O Lord, the infirmity of our nature, Thou beholdest the struggle set afront us. For the enemy striveth to tear away from Thee the work of Thy right-hand and to deprive (us) from the essence of Thine Glory. But do Thou, with Thine compassionate eye watching over us, preserve in us the inextinguishable light of Thy Commandments. By Thine light guide our steps, and grant us to delight in Thine bliss, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages". By night they took the martyrs out beyond the city and beheaded them (+ 299-306). Christians buried their holy bodies.
After some years the last pagan emperor Licinius (311-324) began a persecution against Christians. A deacon of the Edessa Church by the name of Habib, whom the emperor ordered to be arrested for his zealous spreading of the true faith, presented himself before the executioners, since he did not want other Christians to suffer because of the search for him. The saint confessed his faith in Christ and was sentenced to burning. The martyr went willingly into the fire and with prayer gave up his soul to the Lord (+ 322). When the fire went out, the mother and kinsmen of the saint found his body unharmed. They buried the martyr next to Saints Gurias and Samon.
After the death of the saints, numerous miracles were wrought by them for those who with faith and love entreated their help. Thus, one time a certain Gothic-soldier, sent for service at Edessa, took as his spouse the pious maiden Euphymia. Before this he vowed to her mother Sophia at the graves of the Martyrs Gurias, Samon and Habib, -- that he would do his spouse no harm, and would never insult her, but would always love and cherish her. At the completion of his service in Edessa, he took Euphymia with him back to his native land. Afterwards it turned out, that he had deceived her: in his native-land he already had a wife, and Euphymia became her slave. Euphymia had to suffer much abuse and humiliation. When she gave birth to a son, the jealous Goth woman then poisoned him. Euphymia turned with prayer to the holy Martyrs Gurias, Samon and Habib -- witnesses to the oath of the deceiver, and the Lord delivered Euphymia from her suffering and miraculously returned her to Edessa, where she was welcomed by her mother. After a certain while the Gothic oath-breaker was again sent for service to Edessa. All the city learned about his misdeeds after his denunciation by Sophia, and by order of the governor of the city the Goth was executed.
Glorifying the holy martyrs in an akathist, Holy Church addresses them: "Hail, Gurias, Samon and Habib, Heavenly Patrons of honourable marriage".
The Holy Martyrs Elpidias, Marcellus and Evstochius suffered under the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Saint Elpidias was an important dignitary at the imperial court. They tried him on charges of being a Christian, afront the imperial judge. The martyrs endured many terrible torments and they died, thrown into a fire. At the place where Christians buried the remains of the saints occurred a miraculous appearance of Christ with an host of Angels, and the Lord resurrected Elpidias. Then the emperor again gave orders to arrest the holy martyr. During the time of torture, idols standing not afar off crumbled into dust through the prayer of the saint. More than six thousand pagans, having witnessed this miracle, were converted to Christ. Saint Elpidias was burned again.
The Monk Philip of Rabangsk was the founder of the Saviour-Transfiguration monastery, situated near Kadnikov to the northeast of Vologda. He spent the beginning of his monastic life in the monastery of the Monk Dionysii of Glushitsk (Comm. 1 June) and was one of his closest disciples.
Upon the death of his teacher and spiritual father, Saint Philip left the Glushitsk monastery and settled in a sparsely populated area at the confluence of the Sukhona and Rabanga Rivers. The saint wanted to lead his life in complete solitude. The local inhabitants learned about him, and wanting his graced guidance to become monks, they began to come to him in the wilderness. Having accepted this as a mandate from above, the Monk Philip journeyed to Rostov to Archbishop Ephrem and asked of the saint a blessing for the founding of a monastery and construction of a church in honour of the Transfiguration of the Lord (the temple was built in 1447). Tradition relates, that the holy founder of the Saviour-Transfiguration monastery was extremely strict towards himself and lenient towards the infirmities of others. The Monk Philip died on 15 November 1457 and was buried in the monastery founded by him.
The Kupyatitsk Icon of the Mother of God appeared in the year 1180 nearby the village of Kupyatich in the area of the former Pinsk district of the Minsk governance. The icon was found in the forest on a tree by the peasant maiden Anna, a cattle herder. The image -- in the form of a cross -- shone with an unusual light. On the spot of the miraculous appearance of the icon, peasants built a church in the name of the MostHoly Mother of God, and placed the discovered icon within it. After some years Tatars burned the church. The icon was found a second time after many years by a chance traveller named Joachim. Peasants transferred the cruciform-icon to the village church. Joachim remained at the church as church-attendant, by God's will. At the beginning of the XVII Century next to the church was built the Kupyatitsk monastery, which at the end of the century the Catholics seized control of, and later on -- Uniate monks. Orthodox monks in abandoning the monastery took with them the holy icon of the Kupyatitsk Mother of God. They transferred the wonderworking icon to the Kiev Sophia cathedral.
The Kupyatitsk Icon presents itself as a not-large copper cross. On one side of the cross is depicted the Mother of God with the Praeternal Infant, and on the other side -- the Crucifixion.
© 1998 by translator Fr. S. Janos