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September 17th (IX - 30)

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of St. Sophia and her 3 daughters, Faith, Hope, Love

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of St. Agathoklias

Holy Martyresses Faith (Vera), Hope (Nadezhda), Love (Liubov') and their mother Wisdom (Sophia) (+ c. 137). Women Martyrs Theodotia (+ c. 230) and Agathoklea. 156 Martyrs: Bishops of Egypt Pelios and Nilos, Presbyter Zinon, Patermuphias, Ilios and Others (+ 310). Saints Lucy the Widow and her son Herminian (+ c. 303). PriestMartyrs Heraclides and Miron, Bishops of Cypriot Tomasum (I-II). Women Martyrs Rhedora and Neophyta. Martyr Solokhonos. The Tsaregradsk (1071), Makar'evsk Hodegetria (1442), and Makar'evsk (XV) Icons of the Mother of God.

The Holy Martyresses Vera (Faith), Nadezhda (Hope) and Liubov' (Love) were born in Italy. Their mother, Saint Sophia (Wisdom), was a pious Christian widow. Having named her daughters with the names of the three Christian virtues, Saint Sophia raised them up in love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Sophia and her daughters did not hide their faith in Christ and they openly confessed it before everyone. The official Antiochus made denunciation about them to the emperor Adrian (117-138), who ordered that they be brought to Rome. Realising that they would be taken before the emperor, the holy virgins prayed fervently to the Lord Jesus Christ, asking that He should send them the strength not to fear impending torture and death. When the holy virgins with their mother came before the emperor, everyone present was amazed at their composture: it seemed that they had been called out to some happy festivity, rather than to torture. Summoning the sisters in turn, Adrian urged them to offer sacrifice to the goddess Artemis. The young girls (Vera was 12, Nadezhda was 10 and Liubov' was 9) remained unyielding. Then the emperor gave orders to fiercely torture them: they burned at the holy virgins over an iron grating, they threw them into a red-hot oven and then into a cauldron with boiling tar, but the Lord by His Unseen Power preserved them. The youngest one, Liubov', they tied to a wheel and beat at her with canes, until her body was covered all over with bloody welts. And undergoing unreported torments, the holy virgins glorified their Heavenly Bridegroom and remained steadfast in the faith. They subjected Saint Sophia to another and grievous torture: the mother was forced to look upon the suffering of her daughters. But she displayed adamant courage and during this whole while she urged the girls to endure the torments in the Name of the Heavenly Bridegroom. All three maidens with joy met their martyr's end. They were beheaded.

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In order to intensify the inner suffering of Saint Sophia, the emperor decided to let her take up the bodies of her daughters. She placed their remains in coffins and reverently conveyed them on a wagon beyond the city and buried them on an high place. Saint Sophia sat there for three days not leaving the graves of her daughters, and finally she gave up her soul to the Lord. Believers buried her body there also. the relics of the holy martyresses since the year 777 rest at El'zasa, in the church of Esho.

The Holy Martyress Theodotia, a native of Cappadocia, suffered in the city of Nicea during the reign of the emperor Alexander Severus (222-235). At this time the governor of Cappadocia was a certain fellow named Symblicius. They reported to him, that a rich woman named Theodotia was confessing Christ. The governor summoned Theodotia and for a long time urged her to recant from the true faith. Seeing the uselessness of his attempts, he gave Theodotia over to torture: they suspended her and began to tear at her with iron hooks, but she as it were did not sense any suffering. Then they put her in chains and led her away to a prison cell. After 8 days, when they led the saint out for new tortures, there remained on her on faint traces of the tortures already endured. The governor was amazed and asked her: "Who art thou?" The saint answered: "Thine mind is darkened, but if thou were sober, thou would then have recognised, that I am Theodotia". Symblicius commanded the martyress to be cast into a red-hot furnace. Flames shot out from the furnace and scorched those standing nearby, while those remaining unharmed shut the furnace and scattered in fright. After a certain while pagan priests came and opened the furnace so as to scatter the ashes of the martyress, but they too were burned by the flames; those remaining unhurt saw Saint Theodotia unharmed: she stood amidst the flames betwixt two youths in white raiment and was glorifying the Lord. This apparition so terrified the pagans, that they fell down as though dead. Later they again returned the saint to prison.

The invincibility of the martyress gave Symblicius no peace. Having made a journey to Byzantium, on the return trip he stopped over at Ancyra and tried to get the better of Theodotia. He gave orders to throw her all at once onto red-hot iron, but again the martyress remained unharmed. Then Symblicius gave orders that the saint be taken to Nicea. There, in a pagan temple he wanted by force to compel her to offer sacrifice to the idols, but through the prayer of the saint the idols fell and were shattered. The governor in a rage gave orders to stretch the martyress and saw her through, but here also the power of God preserved the saint: the saw caused Theodotia no harm, and the servants became exhausted. Finally, they beheaded the saint. The bishop of Nicea Sophronios buried her body.

The Holy Martyress Agathoklea was a servant in the home of a certain Christian named Nicholas. His wife Paulina was a pagan. For eight years Agathoklea underwent abuse from her mistress because of her faith. Paulina fiercely beat the servant, and made her walk barefoot over sharp stones. Once in a fit of nastiness Paulina with a blow from an hammer broke her rib, and then cut out her tongue. Nothing was able to make the saint give in to the demand of her mistress -- to worship idols. Then Paulina locked the martyress in prison and exhausted her with hunger. But Agathoklea did not perish: birds brought her food each day. Finally, in a fit of evil, Paulina went to the prison and murdered the holy martyress.

The Holy Martyrs Pelios and Nilos, Bishops of Egypt, Presbyter Zinon, Patermuphias, Ilios and another 151 Martyrs suffered during the reign of the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). The majority of them were Egyptians, but there were also some Palestinians among them. The governor of Palestine, Firmilian, arrested 156 Christians. They gouged out the eyes of the holy martyrs, cut the tendons of the feet and subjected them to all manner of tortures. They beheaded 100 of the martyrs, and burned the rest.

The Makar'ev "Hodegetria" ("Way-Guide") Icon of the Mother of God appeared during the reign of prince Vasilii Vasil'evich the Dark (1425-1462) to the Monk Makarii the Wonderworker, who asceticised on the desolate shores of the River Unzha.

On 17 September 1442 at about the third hour of the morning, when the Monk Makarii was finishing his usual morning akathist song to the MostHoly Mother of God, his cell was illumined suddenly by an unknown light. The monk became confused in spirit and began fervently to pray. Beyond the cell walls he heard the angelic refrain: "Hail, Thou Full of Grace, O Mother Unwedded!" With fear and astonishment the monk went out from his cell and on the northwest horizon he saw the icon of the Mother of God, surrounded by a luminous radiance. The icon approached towards the cell of the ascetic. With joyful trembling the monk fell to the ground and cried out: "Hail, Mother of God! Hail, Thou Ever-Flowing Fount issuing salvation to all the world and assuring protection and intercession to all the Galich land!" He reverently took up the icon and placed it in his cell, whereby it also came to be named the "Cell-Icon". Afterwards the disciples of the monk gave it the title of "Makar'ev". On the place of the appearance of the holy icon was founded a monastery, likewise named Makar'ev. From the Makar'ev Icon of the Mother of God there were made copies, which became reknown just like the original.

© 2000 by translator Fr. S. Janos



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