November 19th (XII - 2)
Icon of the Prophet Obadiah and Martyr Barlaam of Caesarea
Prophet Obadiah (or Avdi) (IX Cent. B.C.). Martyr Varlaam (+ c. 304). Monks Varlaam and Joasaph, son of the emperor of India, and his father the Emperor Avenir (IV). Monk Varlaam, Hegumen of Pechersk, in the Nearer Caves (+ 1065). Uncovering of Relics of the Monk Adrian of Poshekonsk, Yaroslavsk (1625). Martyr Aza and with him 150 Soldiers and others (+ 284-305). Martyr Heliodoros (+ c. 273). Monk Ilarion the Wonderworker (+ 875, Gruzia). Martyrs Anthymos, Thalaleos, Christophoros and Euthymia and their children with Saint Pancharias (in Nicomedia). Martyr Akyndinos. Saint Neophytes and his companions. Saint Theodore. Martyrs Uziah (Dasios) and Dionysios (IV). Icon of the Mother of God named, "In Afflictions and Sorrows the Comfort" ("V Skorbekh i Pechalekh Uteshenie").
The Holy Prophet Obadiah (or Avdi) was from the 12 Minor Prophets, and he lived during the IX Century B.C. He was a native of the village of Betharam, near Sichem, and he served as house-governor of the impious Israelite king Ahab. In these times the whole of Israel had turned away from the True God and had begun to offer sacrifice to Baal. But Obadiah-Avdi in secret faithfully served the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. When the impious and dissolute Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, set about the exterminating of all the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah-Avdi meanwhile in turn gave them shelter and food (3  Kings 18:3ff). Ahab's successor king Okhoziah (Ahaziah) sent 3 detachments of soldiers to arrest the holy Prophet Elias (Elijah or Ilias, Comm. 20 July). One of these detachments was headed by Saint Obadiah-Avdi. Through the prayer of Saint Elias, two of the detachments were consumed by Heavenly fire, but Saint Obadiah-Avdi and his detachment were spared by the Lord (4  Kings 1). From this moment Saint Obadiah resigned military service and became a follower of the Prophet Elias. Afterwards he himself received the gift of prophecy. The God-inspired work of Saint Obadiah-Avdi -- the Book of Prophecies under his name, is the fourth in order of the Books of the Twelve Minor Prophets in the Bible. It contains predictions about the New Testament Church. The holy Prophet Obadiah-Avdi was buried in Samaria.
The Holy Martyr Varlaam lived in Syrian Antioch. During the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), Saint Varlaam at an advanced age was arrested and brought to trial, where he confessed himself a Christian. The judge, wanting to compel the saint to renounce Christ, gave orders to conduct Saint Varlaam to the pagan altar, pull his right hand over it, and put into the palm of his hand a red-hot censor burning with incense. The torturer reckoned, that a physically weak old man could not hold out and would drop it on the altar, and in such manner would be offering sacrifice to the idol. But the saint held on to the censor, until his fingers were burnt. After this the holy Martyr Varlaam offered up his soul to the Lord (+ 304).
The Monks Varlaam the Wilderness-Dweller, Joasaph the son of the Emperor of India, and his father Avenir: In India, -- once formerly having received the Christian faith through the evangelisation of the holy Apostle Thomas, there ruled the emperor Avenir, an idol-worshipper and fierce persecutor of Christians. For a long time he did not have any children. Finally, a son was born to the emperor, and named oasaph. At the birth of this son the wisest of the emperor's star-gazers predicted, that the emperor's son would accept the Christian faith which was persecuted by his father. The emperor, wanting to ward off the prediction, commanded that there be built for his son a separate palace and he arranged matters such, that his son should never hear a single word about Christ and His teachings.
Reaching a youthful age, Joasaph asked permission of his father to go out beyond the palace, and he saw existing there such things as suffering, sickness, old age and death. This led him into ponderings over the vanity and absurdity of life, and he began to engage in some serious thinking.
At this time in a far-off wilderness there asceticised a wise hermit, the Monk Varlaam. By a Divine insight he learned about the youth agonising in search of truth. Forsaking his wilderness, the Monk Varlaam in the guise of a merchant set out to India, and having arrived in the city where Joasaph's palace was situated, he declared that he had brought with him a precious stone, endowed with wondrous powers to heal sickness. Being brought in to Joasaph, he began to present him the Christian faith in the form of parables, and then also "from the Holy Gospel and the Holy Epistles". From the instructions of the Monk Varlaam the youth reasoned out, that the precious stone is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he believed in Him and desired to accept holy Baptism. Having made the sign of the cross over the youth, the Monk Varlaam bid him to fast and pray, and he went off into the wilderness.
The emperor, learning that his son was become a Christian, fell into a rage and grief. On the advice of one of his counsellors, the emperor arranged for a debate about faith between the Christians and the pagans, at which under the guise of Varlaam there appeared the Magi magician Nakhor. In the debate Nakhor was supposed to acknowledge himself beaten and in such manner turn the imperial youth away from Christianity. Through a vision in a dream, Saint Joasaph learned about the deception and he threatened Nakhor with a fiercesome execution, if beaten in the debate. Nakhor in terror not only beat the pagans, but he himself came to believe in Christ, and he repented and accepted holy Baptism and went off into the wilderness. The emperor tried to turn his son away from Christianity by other methods also, but the youth conquered all the temptations. Then on the advice of his counsellors, Avenir bestowed on his son half the realm. Saint Joasaph, having become an emperor, restored Christianity in his lands, built anew the churches, and finally, he converted his own father the emperor Avenir to Christianity. Soon after Baptism the emperor Avenir died, and Saint Joasaph abdicated his rule and went off into the wilderness in search of his teacher, the elder Varlaam. Over the course of two years he wandered about through the wilderness, suffering dangers and temptations, until he found the cave of the Monk Varlaam, asceticising in silence. The elder and the youth began to asceticise together. When the end for the Monk Varlaam approached, he served out the Divine Liturgy, partook of the Holy Mysteries and communed Saint Joasaph, and with this he expired to the Lord, having lived in the wilderness 70 of his hundred years. Having buried the elder, Saint Joasaph remained at the cave and continued with the wilderness efforts. He dwelt in the wilderness for 35 years, and expired to the Lord at age sixty.
The successor of Saint Joasaph as emperor, Barachias, with the help of a certain hermit, found in the cave the undecayed and fragrant relics of both ascetics, and he conveyed them back to his fatherland and gave them burial in a church, built by the Monk-Emperor Joasaph.
The Monk Varlaam, Hegumen of Pechersk, lived during the XI Century at Kiev, and was the son of an illustrious boyar-noble. From the time of his youthful years he yearned for the monk's life and he went off to the Monk Antonii of Pechersk (+ 1073, Comm. 10 July), who accepted the pious youth so firmly determined to become a monk, and he bid the Monk Nikon (+ 1088, Comm. 23 March) to make monastic tonsure over him.
The father of the Monk Varlaam tried forcefully to return him home, but finally becoming convinced that his son would never return to the world, he gave up. When the number of monks at the Caves began to increase, the Monk Antonii made the Monk Varlaam hegumen, while he himself resettled to another cave and again began to live in solitude.
The Monk Varlaam became the first hegumen of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. In the year 1058, having besought the blessing of the Monk Antonii, the Monk Varlaam built over the cave a wooden church in honour of the Uspenie-Dormition of the MostHoly Mother of God. Afterwards, the Monk Varlaam became hegumen of the newly-formed monastery in honour of the GreatMartyr Demetrios. The Monk Varlaam twice made pilgrimage to the holy places in Jerusalem and Constantinople. Having returned from his second journey, he died in the Vladimir Holy-Mountain monastery at Volynia in 1065 and was buried, in accord with his final wishes, at the Pechersk monastery in the Nearer Caves. His memory is likewise 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Uncovering of the Relics of the MonkMartyr Adrian of Peshekhonsk and Yaroslavsk was on 19 November 1625. On 17 December 1625, under Patriarch Philaret, his incorrupt relics were transferred to the monastery founded by him. The account about the MonkMartyr Adrian is located under the day of his death, 5 March (+ 1550).
The Holy Martyr Aza and with him 150 Soldiers suffered at Isauria, in Asia Minor, under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). For his confession of the Christian faith the saint was arrested and brought to trial before the eparch-governor, Aquilinus. There had been sent 150 soldiers to arrest the saint, but they were converted onto the path of salvation and they accepted holy Baptism with water, that issued forth in a spring through the prayer of Saint Aza. The martyr persuaded them to fulfill the commandment about obedience to authorities, and therefore to bring him before the eparch. The soldiers together with the saint confessed their Christian faith afront Aquilinus, and for this they were all beheaded. And together with them the eparch executed his own wife and daughter, who had come to believe in Christ, seeing the steadfastness of Saint Aza under torture.
The Holy Martyr Heliodoros lived during the reign of the emperor Aurelian (270-275) in the city of Magidum (Pamphylia). The city-governor Aetius subjected the saint to fierce tortures for his faith in Christ and had him beheaded (+ c. 273).
The Monk Ilarion the Wonderworker was born in 816 in Kakhetia (Eastern Gruzia-Georgia). He was descended from a line of Gruzian princes, the Vachnadze (Donauri). In very early childhood he displayed an inclination towards asceticism. At 9 years of age he knew by heart the Gospel, and at 12 years of age he was tonsured into monasticism at a monastery founded by his father. At 16 years of age the youth transferred over to the Davido-Garedzhe wilderness monastery. Here the Monk Ilarion spent 10 years as an hermit. By his unceasing prayer, tears, silence vigil and fasting he became known throughout all Gruzia. But glory-seeking was alien to the monk. Having accepted the dignity of priest, he declined the offer to him of a bishop's-seat in Gruzia at Sagaredzho (in Kakhetia), and he withdrew to the Holy Land, for worship at the Sepulchre of the Lord.
Saint Ilarion spent 17 years in the Jordanian desert, living in a cave of the holy Prophet Elias the Tishbite (Thesvitanin), which once had serve as an habitation also for Saint John the Baptist. Here it was that an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and summoned him to hasten to Gruzia, in order to find his father among the yet-living. Saint Ilarion set off to his native land, where after the death of his father he set up at his parental home a monastery, tonsuring into monasticism both his mother and sister. He remained by this monastery until the death of his mother. Then he gave off half of his inheritance to the Davido-Garezhe monastery, and the other half he distributed amongst impoverished brethren, and then he set off to Constantinople. Having made reverence at the holy places in Tsargrad, Saint Ilarion withdrew to the Mount Olympos in Asia Minor, where in about the year 864 he founded a Gruzian monastery. Here he dwelt for five years. During this period there were reported many healings, worked by the monk through the power of prayer, the sign of the cross and anointing with myrh. Shunning fame, Saint Ilarion set off to Rome to venerate at the graves of the holy First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul. Along the way he visited Constantinople and Thessalonika, and worked several healings (a gardener and a lad, having "withered-up" legs). On his return journey the Monk Ilarion again stopped off at Thessalonika, where he spent three years. A miracle is known of, where a deacon (from the church in name of the GreatMartyr Demetrios of Soluneia/Thessalonika) was taken captive by Skythians but then was freed of his fetters, upon prayerfully calling out to Saint Ilarion for help.
Saint Ilarion knew about his impending death 40 days beforehand, and 3 days before his death he communed the Holy Mysteries, took his leave of the brethren and secluded himself in his cell. He peacefully expired to the Lord on 19 November 875.
His venerable relics were consigned to a stone crypt, and after the passage of 40 days the relics were glorified by healings of those that came in faith. On the orders of the emperor Basil the Macedonian (866-886), the relics of Saint Ilarion were transferred from Thessalonika to Constantinople in the year 882. The emperor intended to situate the relics within the imperial palaces, but Saint Ilarion appeared to him in a dream and directed, that his relics should be placed in the newly-constructed church built in honour of the holy Apostles, near the Thracian Bosphorus. The Gruzian-Georgian Church in the IX Century enumerated the Monk Ilarion to the rank of the Saints and established his memory to be observed under 19 November.
© 2000 by translator Fr. S. Janos