August 1st (VIII - 14)
Icon of the Dormition Fast, Procession of the Holy Cross, and 7 Maccabean Martyrs.
Icon of the Holy Martyrs of Perge
Procession (Carrying-forth) of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord. Feast to the All-Merciful Saviour and the MostHoly Mother of God. Seven Maccabean Martyrs: Habim, Antonin, Guriah, Eleazar, Eusebon, Halim (Hadim) and Marcellus, their mother Solomonia and their teacher Eleazar (+ 166 B.C.). Martyrs in Pamphlygonian Pergium: Leontios, Attios, Alexander, Cyndeos, Minsytheas, Kyriakos, Mineon, Catunos and Eukleos (III). Martyrs: Papas the New, Eleazar, Kyrikos, Theodore, Polyeuktos. Sainted Timothy, Wonderworker and Bishop of Proconessum. Monastic Martyress Elesa on Island of Kytheria (+ 375). Commemoration of the Baptism of Rus' (988). Beginning of Dormition (Uspenie) Fast.
The Procession (Carrying-forth) of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord: In the Greek Chasoslov (Orologion) of 1897 is explained thus the derivation of this feast: "By reason of the sicknesses, often everywhere occurring in August, from of old customarily it was done at Constantinople to carry out the Venerable Wood of the Cross along the roads and streets for the sanctifying of places and for the driving away of sicknesses. On the eve (31 July), carrying it out from the imperial treasury, they placed it upon the holy table of the Great Church (in honour of Saint Sophia -- the Wisdom of God). From this feastday up to the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, making litia throughout all the city, they then placed it forth for all the people to venerate. This also is the Issuing-forth of the Venerable Cross".
In the Russian Church this feast is combined also with a remembrance of the Baptism of Rus', on 1 August 988. In the "Account about the making of services in the holy catholic and apostolic great church of the Uspenie-Dormition", compiled in 1627 by order of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus' Philaret, there is provided suchlike an explanation of the feast: "And on the day of the procession of the Venerable Cross there occurs a church-procession for the sanctification of water and for the enlightenment of the people, throughout all the towns and places".
Knowledge of the day of the actual Baptism of Rus' was preserved in the Chronicles of the XVI Century: "The Baptism of Great-prince Vladimir of Kiev and all Rus' was on August 1".
In the practice now of the Russian Church, the service of the Lesser Sanctification of Water on 1 August is done either before or after Liturgy. Together with the Blessing of Waters, there is made a Blessing of Honey (i.e. first-honey for the Saviour: "Saviour of the Water", "Saviour Moisture" [apparently in place of the vinegar and gall offered Him on the Cross?]). And from this day the newly harvested honey is blessed and tasted.
The Feast to the All-Merciful Saviour and the MostHoly Mother of God was established on the occasion of portents from icons of the Saviour, the MostHoly Mother of God and the Venerable Cross during the time of a battle of holy Prince Andrei Bogoliubsky (1157-1174) with the Volga Bulgars in 1164.
This is the first of three feastdays of the All-Merciful Saviour, celebrated in August. The second -- is the Transfiguration (Preobrazhenie, Metamorphosis) of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ (Comm. 6 August). The third -- is the Transfer from Edessa to Constantinople of the Not-Wrought-by-Hand Image of the Lord Jesus Christ (Comm. 16 August, during the Afterfeast of the Dormition of the MostHoly Mother of God). These three feasts, as it were, connect together the Dormition-Uspenie Fast.
The Seven Holy Maccabean Martyrs: Habim, Antonin, Guriah, Eleazar, Eusebon, Hadim (Halim) and Marcellus, their mother Solomonia and their teacher Eleazar suffered in the year 166 before the Birth of Christ under the impious Syrian emperor Antiochos Epiphanos. Adhering to an Hellenistic cult, Antiochos Epiphanos introduced pagan customs at Jerusalem and throughout all Judea. He desecrated the Temple of the Lord, putting there in a statue of the pagan god Zeus, and forcing the Jews to worship it. Many of them then fell away from the True God. But there were also those, who were deeply sorrowed by the downfall of the people of God and who continued to believe in the coming arrival of the Saviour. A ninety year old elder -- the law-teacher Eleazar, was brought to trial for his adherence to the Mosaic Law, and he steadfastly underwent tortures and died at Jerusalem. Bravery was likewise shown by the disciples of Saint Eleazar -- the Seven Maccabean Brothers and their mother Solomonia. They were brought to trial in Antioch by the emperor Antiochos Epiphanos. They fearlessly acknowledged themselves as followers of the True God, and refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. The eldest of the lads, having been first to answer the emperor in the name of all seven brothers, was given over to fierce tortures in sight of his remaining brothers and their mother. The next five brothers one after the other underwent these tortures. There remained the seventh brother, the very youngest. Antiochos suggested to Saint Solomonia to urge the lad into renunciation, so that at least this final son would remain for her. But the brave mother encouraged him also in the confession of the True God. The lad resolutely ignored the entreaty of the emperor and likewise firmly underwent the tortures, just like his older brothers. After the death of all her seven children, Saint Solomonia, standing over their bodies, raised up her hands in prayer to God and died. The Martyrs Act of the holy Seven Maccabean Brothers inspired Judas Maccabee, and he led the revolt against Antiochos Epiphanos with the help of God gaining the victory, and then purifying the Jerusalem Temple of idols. All these events are related in the Book of Second Maccabees, which is included within the Bible. Sermons of laudation to the holy Maccabean Martyrs were offered by various fathers of the Church -- Sainted Cyprian of Carthage, Sainted Ambrose of Mediolanum (Milan), Sainted Gregory Nazianzus and Sainted John Chrysostomos.
The Martyrs Leontios, Attios, Alexander, Cyndeos, Minsythias, Kyriakos, Mineon, Catunos and Eukleos lived in the Pamphlygonian city of Pergium during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). All of them were baptised in childhood. Saint Mineon was a carpenter, and the rest -- farmers. During the time of the fierce persecution against Christians, the saints with one accord sought to undertake the deed of martyrdom for Christ. They destroyed a temple of the pagan god Artemis. For this they were given over for harsh torture and then thrown in the circus for devouring by wild beasts. But, tamed down by the prayer of the martyrs, the beasts would not touch them. The onlookers grew tumultuous and began loudly to shout: "Great is the God of the Christians". A terrible thunderstorm ensued. Upon the earth simultaneously fell both hail and fire. From heaven was heard a voice, summoning the martyrs to the Heavenly Kingdom. Upon hearing this voice the martyrs came forth with great joy, and laying their necks beneathe the sword, they received the crowns of martyrdom.
© 1999 by translator Fr S Janos