September 1st (IX - 14)
Icon of St. Simeon the Stylite, St. Kallistee, Jesus Christ, St. Evanthia, and St. Meletios
Icon of St. Simeon and the Martyrdom of the 40 Virgins
BEGINNING OF THE CHURCH NEW YEAR
Monk Simeon the Stylite (+ 459) and his mother Martha (+ c. 428). Martyr Haifal the Deacon (+ 380). 40 Ascetic Virgin Martyrs and their teacher the Martyr Ammunos the Deacon (IV). Martyrs Callista and her brothers Euodos and Hermogenes (+ 309). Righteous Jesus son of Navin (Joshua) (XVI Century B.C.). Sobor (Assemblage) of MostHoly Mother of God at Miasineia Monastery (in Memory of Finding of Her Icon in 864). Nun Euanthia. Monk Meletios (XI). Martyr Angelis (+ 1680). Icons of the Mother of God of Chernigov-Gethsemane (1869), and of Alexandria named "All-Blessed" (at Kazan).
The Monk Simeon the Stylite was born in the Cappadocian village of Sisan in the Christian family of Susotian and Martha. At 13 years of age he began to tend his father's flock of sheep. To this his first obedience he concerned himself attentively and with love. One time, having heard in church the Gospel commands of the Beatitudes, he was struck by their profundity. Not trusting to his own immature judgement, he turned therefore with his questions to an experienced elder. The elder readily explained to the lad the meaning of what he had heard and it strengthened in him finally the resolve to follow the Gospel path. Instead of heading homewards, Simeon set off to the nearest monastery and, after tears of entreaty, he was accepted after a week into the number of the brethren. When Simeon became age 18, he took monastic vows and devoted himself to feats of the strictest abstinence and of unceasing prayer. His zealousness -- beyond strength for the other monastic brethren -- so alarmed the hegumen (abbot) that he suggested to the monk that he either moderate his ascetic deeds or leave the monastery. The Monk Simeon thereupon withdrew from the monastery and settled himself by day upon a very high column, where he was able to carry out his austere vows unhindered. After some time, Angels appeared in a dream vision to the hegumen, which commanded him to bring back Simeon to the monastery. The monk however did not long remain at the monastery. After a short while he settled into a stony cave, situated not far from the village of Galanissa, and he dwelt there for three years, all the while perfecting himself in monastic feats. One time, he decided to spent the entire Forty-day Great Lent without food and drink. With the help of God, the monk endured this strict fast. From that time he always completely refrained during the entire period of the Great Lent even from bread and water -- twenty days he prayed while standing, and twenty days while sitting -- so as not to permit the corporeal powers to relax. A whole crowd of people began to throng to the place of his efforts, wanting to receive healing from sickness and to hear a word of Christian edification. Shunning worldly glory and striving again to find his lost solitude, the monk chose a yet unknown mode of asceticism. He went up a pillar 4 meters in height and settled upon it in a little cell, devoting himself to intense prayer and fasting. Reports about the Monk Simeon reached the highest church hierarchy and the imperial court. The Antioch Patriarch Domninos II ((441-448) visited the monk, made Divine Liturgy on the pillar and communed the ascetic with the Holy Mysteries. Fathers pursuing asceticism in the wilderness all heard about the Monk Simeon, who had chosen such a difficult form of ascetic striving. Wanting to test the new ascetic and determine whether his extreme ascetic feats were pleasing to God, they dispatched messengers to him, who in the name of these desert fathers were to bid the Monk Simeon to come down from the pillar. In the case of disobedience they were to forcibly drag him to the ground. But if he offered obedience, they were entrusted in the name of the desert fathers to bless his continued ascetic deeds. The monk displayed complete obedience and deep Christian humility.
The Monk Simeon was brought to endure many temptations, and he invariably gained the victory over them -- relying not on his own weak powers, but on the Lord Himself, Who always came to him in help. The monk gradually increased the height of the pillar on which he stood. His final pillar was 40 cubits in height. Around him was raised a double wall, which hindered the unruly crowd of people from coming too close and disturbing his prayerful concentration. Women in general were not permitted beyond the fence. In this the monk did not make an exception even for his own mother, who after long and unsuccessful searchings finally succeeded in finding her lost son. Not having gained a farewell, she thus died, nestled up to the fence encircling the pillar. The monk thereupon asked that her coffin be brought to him; he reverently bid farewell to his dead mother -- and her dead face then brightened up with a blissful smile.
The Monk Simeon spent 80 years in arduous monastic feats -- 47 years of which he stood upon the pillar. God granted him to accomplish in such unusual conditions an indeed apostolic service -- many pagans accepted Baptism, struck by the moral staunchness and bodily toughness which the Lord bestowed upon His servant.
The first one to learn of the end of the monk was his close pupil Anthony. Concerned that his teacher had not appeared to the people over the course of 3 days, he went up upon the pillar and found the dead body stooped over at prayer (+ 459). The Antioch Patriarch Martyrios performed the funeral of the monk before an huge throng of clergy and people. They buried him not far from the pillar. At the place of his ascetic deeds, Anthony established a monastery, upon which rested a special blessing of the Monk Simeon.
The Holy Martyr Haifal the Deacon by order of the Persian emperor Sapor II was killed by stoning in the year 380, for confessing the Name of Christ.
The 40 Holy Virgins and Saint Ammunos the Deacon, who enlightened them with the light of the Christian faith, died as martyrs for Christ under the Roman emperor Licinius at the beginning of the IV Century in the Macedonian city of Adrianopolis. The governor Babdos subjected the holy martyrs to many torments, so as to force them to renounce Christ and worship idols. After cruel tortures they were all sent off to Herakleia to another torturer, before whom also they firmly confessed their faith in Christ and refused to worship idols. By order of the torturer, Saint Ammunos and 8 virgins with him were beheaded, 10 virgins were burnt, six of them died after red-hot iron was put into their mouths, six were stabbed with knives, and the rest were killed with swords.
The Holy Martyrs Callista and her brothers Euodos and Hermogenes, Christians of Nikomedia, were brought to trial before the pagan governor for confessing their faith in Christ. Having refused to offer sacrifice to idols, they were cut down by the sword (+ 309).
Saint Jesus Son of Navin (Joshua) after the death of the Prophet Moses was leader of the Israelite People. He conquered the Promised Land and brought upon it the Hebrew nation. The Lord worked a great miracle through Jesus Navinus. The Jews went across the River Jordan as though on dry land, the Archistratigos [Leader of the Heavenly Hosts] Michael appeared to Jesus Navinus, and the walls of the city Jericho -- besieged by the Israelites -- fell down by themselves after the Ark of the Covenant was carried around the city during the course of seven days. Finally at the time of the battle with the enemy, Jesus Navinus, by the will of God, halted the motion of the sun and prolonged the day until that moment when victory was won. After the end of the war, Jesus Navinus divided the Promised Land among the 12 Tribes of Israel. He died at 110 years of age (XVI Century B.C.), in his last will commanding the nation to preserve the Law of Moses. All these events are recounted in the Book of Jesus Navinus (Joshua) (Chapters 3, 5, 6, 10), which is included within the Holy Bible.
The Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God is a copy from the famed Chernigov-Il'insk Icon of the Mother of God, which was to be found at the Trinity Il'insk monastery near Chernigov on Mount Boldina, and where in the XI Century for a certain while the Monk Antonii of Pechersk pursued asceticism. To the description of the miracles from this icon, beginning with 16-24 April 1662, Sainted Dimitrii of Rostov in his book "The Bedewed Fleece" (Oroshennoe Runo) wrote in conclusion: "The end of the booklet, but not of the miracles of the MostHoly Mother of God, since who is it that can count them". The grace-bearing power of this icon is manifest also in its copies.
The Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God was written in the mid XVIII Century and passed on in 1852 to the Trinity Sergiev Lavra by Alexandra Grigor'evna Philippova, piously having had it for a quarter century. (This icon was passed on to her by the priest Ioann Alekseev, to whom in turn it came from one of the monks of the Trinity Sergiev Lavra.) On the advice of the head of the Lavra, Archimandrite Antonii (+ 1 May 1877), the icon was placed in the newly-consecrated cave church named for the Holy Archistratigos [Leader of the Heavenly Hosts] Michael, which was consecrated on 27 October 1851 by the Metropolitan of Moscow Philaret (+ 19 November 1867), who assumed an active role in the building of the Gethsemane skete-monastery. In such manner, the icon took in the currents of grace of all the history of the Russian Church, -- it acquired the blessing of the Monk Antonii of Pechersk, of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh and of his parents the schema-monastics Kirill and Maria (+ 1337, a votive liturgy for them with the reading of a special prayer is made on 28 September and on Thursday of the Week of the Publican and Pharisee), and finally, of the ascetics of the XIX Century. These spiritual connections providentially come forth through the Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God.
It is remarkable, that the first miracle from this icon was witnessed on the day of the Church New Year -- 1 September 1869, when the 28 year old peasant of Tula governance, Thekla Adrianova, was healed, having been completely crippled constantly for 9 years. Living at the hostel by the caves, and then at the Lavra during the celebration of the Repose of the Monk Sergei (25 September), Thekla recovered completely. Sainted Innocent (Innokentii) the Metropolitan of Moscow (1797-1879, Comm. 23 September and 31 March), learned of the miracle from his daughter the Nun Poliksenia, treasurer of the Borisovsk wilderness monastery. On the feast of the Monk Sergei, he himself met with Thekla and asked her about all the details of the healing. On 26 September 1869 Sainted Innocent arrived at the Gethsemane skete and gave the blessing to make molieben before the glorified icon while he himself prayed with tears.
By 26 September there had occurred already three graced healings and a whole series of miracles in November of that same year. The fame of the icon of the Mother of God spread with unusual swiftness. Exhausted by suffering and sickness, thirsting for bodily and spiritual healing, people from every class of society came with firm faith to the wonderworking icon, and the mercy of God did not forsake them. Towards the beginning of the XX Century more than 100 miracles were witnessed. By its great esteem the icon benefited the ascetics of the Gethsemane skete: the schema-monk Philip (+ 18 May 1868), the founder of the cave-monastery, and his three sons -- the priest-schemamonks Ignatii (+ 1900), Porphyrii (+ 1905 ?) and Vasilii (+ 1 April 1915). They preserved accounts about the deep love, which the priestmonk starets (monastic elder) Isidor (+ 3 February 1908) displayed for the Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon.
The initial celebration of the icon was established on 16 April, on the day when also was the celebration of the Cherigov-Il'insk icon. Afterwards it was transferred to the day of glorification -- 1 September. At the present time at Trinity-Sergiev Lavra there are venerable copies of the Chernigov-Gethsemane icon -- within the temple in honour of the Monk Sergei, in the monastery refectory, and in the portico of the Trinity cathedral, -- written by elders of the Gethsemane skete and the Zosimov wilderness-monastery.
The "All-Blessed" or "Pamakarista" Icon of the Mother of God was sent in 1905 by His Holiness the Patriarch of Constantinople Joakim III in blessing and solace to the city of Kazan. This icon -- an exact copy from a particularly venerated icon of the Mother of God situated in the Constantinople Patriarchal church, which is an uniquely ancient holy thing at Constantinople remaining intact from various plunderings.
© 1997 by translator Fr. S. Janos.