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October 29th (XI - 11)

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of the Monk Abraham and Blessed Maria, his niece and Martyr Anastasia the Roman

Monk Avramii (Abraham), Archimandrite of Rostov (1073-1077). MonasticMartyress Anastasia the Roman (III). Monk Abraham and Blessed Maria, his niece (+ c. 360). Monk Avramii (Abraham), Hermit of Pechersk, in Nearer Caves (XII-XIII). Martyrs Claudius, Asterias, Neones and Theonilla (+ 285). Nun Anna (+ 826). Monk Timothy of Esthygmena, Athos (+ 1820). Monk Serapion Zarzmeli (Gruzia, + 900). Martyrs Cyril, Mina, Mineus. Martyress Meletina. MonkMartyr Anastasias (+ 1653).

The Monk Avramii (Abraham), Archimandrite of Rostov, in the world Averkii, in his youth left from his parental home and entered upon the path of Christian asceticism. Having assumed the monastic form, Avramii settled at Rostov on the shore of Lake Nero. In the Rostov lands there were then yet many pagans, and the monk worked intensely at spreading the true faith. Not far off from the cell of the Saint there was a pagan temple, where the pagans worshipped a stone idol of Veles (Volos), which caused fright among the inhabitants of Rostov. In a miraculous vision the Apostle John the Theologian came to stand before Avramii, and gave him a staff crowned with a cross atop, with which the monk destroyed the idol. At the place of the pagan temple, Saint Avramii founded a monastery in honour of the Theophany and became its head. And in memory of the miraculous appearance, the monk erected a church in the name of the Apostle John the Theologian. Many of the pagans were persuaded and baptised by Saint Avramii. Particularly great was his influence with the children: he taught them reading and writing, he instructed them in the law of God, and tonsured monastics from amongst them. Everyone coming to the monastery of the saint was lovingly accepted. His life was a constant work of prayer and toil for the benefit of the brethren: he chopped firewood for the oven, he laundered the monks clothing and carried water for the kitchen. The monk reposed in old age and was buried in the church of the Theophany (+ XI Century). His holy relics were uncovered during the time of Greatprince Vsevolod (1176-1212). In the year 1551 tsar Ivan the Terrible, before his campaign against Kazan, made the rounds of holy places. At the Theophany-Avramiev monastery the showed him that staff, with which the Monk Avramii had destroyed the idol of Veles. The tsar took the staff with him on the campaign, but the cross remained at the monastery. And returning again after the subjugation of the Kazan khanate, Ivan the Terrible gave orders to build at the Avramiev monastery a new stone church in honour of the Theophany, with four chapels, and he sent there books and icons.

The MonasticMartyress Anastasia the Roman in infancy lost her parents, and she was then taken under the care of the head of a women's monastery, named Sophia. The hegumeness raised Anastasia in fervent faith, in the fear of God and obedience. During these times there began the persecution against Christians by the emperor Decius (249-251). The city administrator, Probus, on the orders of the emperor commanded that Anastasia be brought to him. Having been blessed by her eldress-mentor for the deed of suffering for the Name of Christ, the young Martyress Anastasia humbly came out to meet the armed soldiers. Seeing her youth and beauty, Probus at first attempted by false flattery to tempt her and lead her into a renunciation of faith in Christ: "Why waste thine years, deprived of pleasure? What is there to gain in giving thyself over to tortures and death for the Crucified? Worship our gods, get thyself some handsome husband, and live in glory and honour". The saint steadfastly replied: "My Bridegroom, my riches, my life and my happiness -- is my Lord Jesus Christ, and with the threat of torments thou canst not part me from the Lord!" Fiercesome tortures were then begun. The holy martyress bravely endured them, glorifying and praising the Lord. In anger the torturers cut out her tongue. The people, seeing the inhuman and disgusting treatment of the saint, became indignant, and the governor of the city was compelled to bring the torture to a close, by beheading the martyress. The body of Saint Anastasia was thrown out beyond the city for devouring by wild animals, but the Lord did not permit that a mockery should be made with the holy remains. Learning of this through the Lord, the hegumeness Sophia found the torn body of the martyress, and with the help of two Christians she consigned it to earth.

The Monk Abraham the Hermit and Blessed Maria, his niece, asceticised in the village of Chidan, near the city of Edessa. They were contemporaries and of the same country together with the Monk Ephrem the Syrian (Comm. 28 January), who afterwards wrote about their life. The Monk Abraham began his difficult exploit of the solitary life in the prime of youth. He left his parental home and settled in a desolate wilderness place, far off from worldly enticements, and he spent his days in unceasing prayer. After the death of his parents, the saint refused his inheritance and requested his kinsmen to give it away to the poor. By his strict ascetic life, fasting and love for mankind, Abraham attracted to him many, seeking after spiritual light, prayer and blessing. Soon his faith was put to a serious test: he was appointed presbyter in one of the pagan villages of Mesopotamia. For three years, and sparing no efforts, the monk toiled over the enlightenment of the pagans. He tore down a pagan temple and built up a temple of God. Humbly enduring derision and even beating from obstinate idol-worshippers, in prayer he beseeched the Lord: "Look down, O Master, upon Thine servant, hearken unto my prayer, strengthen me and set free Thy servants from diabolical snares and grant them to know Thee, the One True God". The zealous pastor was granted the happiness to see the culmination of his righteous efforts: the pagans came to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the monk himself baptised them. Having fulfilled his priestly duty, Abraham again withdrew into his wilderness, where he continued to glorify God, and doing His holy will. The devil, put to shame by the deeds of the monk, tried to entrap him with proud thoughts. One time at midnight, when Saint Abraham was at prayer in his cell, suddenly there shone a light and a voice was heard: "Blessed art thou, blessed as is no one amongst mankind!" Confuting the wiles of the enemy, the saint said: "I -- am a sinful man, but I trust on the help and grace of my God and I fear thee not". Another time the devil appeared before the saint in the form of a youth, lighted a candle and began to sing the Psalm: "Blessed is the undefiled on the way that walketh in the law of the Lord". Perceiving, that this also was a demonic temptation, the elder crossed himself and asked: "If thou knowest, what be the undefiled blessed, then why troublest thou them?" The temptor answered: "I provoke them in order to conquer them and turn them away from every good deed". To this the saint replied: "Thou gainest victory over those fallen away from God through their will, but for those loving God thou dost vanish, like smoke in the wind". After these words the devil vanished. And thus did Saint Abraham defeat the enemy, strengthened by Divine grace. After fifty years of ascetic life he peacefully expired to the Lord (+ c. 360).

Saint Abraham's Niece, the Nun Maria, grew up being edified by his spiritual instruction. But the enemy of the race of man tried to turn her from the true path. At twenty-seven years of age she left her cell, went to another city and began to live dissolutely. Learning of this, the Monk Abraham donned himself in soldier's garb, so that he should not be recognised, and he set off to the city. He sought out his niece and brought her to repentance. The Nun Maria returned to her cell and spent all the rest of her days in prayer and tears of repentance. The Lord vouchsafed her the gift of healing the sick. She died five years after the Monk Abraham.

The Holy Martyrs Claudius, Asterias, Neones and Theonilla suffered for Christ in the year 285 in Cilicia, during the reign of the emperor Diocletian. After their father's death, the step-mother, not wanting to give the inheritance over to the children, betrayed them to the persecutors of Christians. The governor of Cilicia named Lysias at length urged the martyrs to renounce Christ and instead worship idols, and employing various means of torture. They crucified the unyielding brothers, and the sister after torture was thrown into the sea.

The Nun Anna asceticised under the name Euphymian. The account about her is located under 13 June.

© 2000 by translator Fr. S. Janos



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