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August 22nd (IX - 4)

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of the Holy Mother of God, Theotokos

Martyrs Agathonikes, Zotikos, Theoprepios (Slavonic: Bogolep), Akyndinos, Severian, Zinon and others (+ c. 305-311). PriestMartyr Athanasias, Bishop of Cilician Tarsus (+ c. 270-275). Nun Anthysa (+ c. 298) and her servants: the Martyrs Charisimos and Neophytes (+ c. 270-275). Virgin Martyr Eulalia (+ c. 303). Martyrs: Ireneios, Horos and Horopses. Saint Theodora at Xerocyra. Nobleborn Empress Ariadne (IV-V). Monk Bogolep of Uglich (XVI). Martyr Felix (+ c. 303). Gruzinian (Georgian) Icon of the Mother of God (1650).

The Martyrs Agathonikes, Zotikos, Theoprepios (in Slavonic: Bogolep), Akyndinos, Severian, Zinon and others accepted death for Christ during the reign of the emperor Maximian (284-305). The Martyr Agathonikes was descended from the illustrious lineage of the Hypasians, and he lived at Nicomedia. Having become well versed in Holy Scripture, he converted many pagans to Christ, in which number was also the most eminent member of the Senate (its "princeps" or leader). Comitus Evtolmius was sent to the Pontine (lower Black Sea) region, where he crucified the followers of the Christian Zotikos, all who had refused to offer sacrifice to idols, but Zotikos himself he took with him. In Nicomedia Evtolmius arrested the Martyr Agathonikes (together with the princeps), and also Theoprepios, Akyndinos and Severian. After tortures, Evtolmius ordered that the martyrs be taken to Thrace for trial by the emperor. But along the way, in the vicinity of Potama, he put to death the Martyrs Zotikos, Theoprepios and Akyndinos - who were unable to proceed further behind the chariot of the governor because of wounds received during the time of torture. The Martyr Severian was put to death at Chalcedon, and the Martyr Agathonikes together with others was beheaded with the sword by order of the emperor, in Selymbria.

The relics of the Martyr Agathonikes within a church named for him was seen at Constantinople in the year 1200 by the Russian pilgrim Antonii. And in the XIV Century Philotheos, the archbishop of Selymbria, devoted a discourse of laudation to the Martyr Agathonikes.

The PriestMartyr Athanasias, bishop of the Cilician city of Tarsus, who baptised the Nun Anthysa, was beheaded by the sword under the emperor Aurelian (270-275). The Nun Anthysa, a native of the city of Seleucia (in Syria), was the daughter of illustrious pagans. Learning of the teachings of Christ, she under pretense of visiting her benefactress instead journeyed off to Tarsus to Saint Athanasias and received Baptism from him. Her parents were enraged at their daughter for becoming a Christian. But she then -- having received monastic tonsure from Saint Athanasias -- settled in the wilderness, where she spent 23 years at ascetic deeds and died at the end of the III Century. The Martyrs Charisimos and Neophytes, who had been baptised together with the Nun Anthysa, were her servants and they too accepted death for Christ.

The Martyress Eulalia lived in Spain, near the city of Barcionum (at present now -- Barcelona), and she was raised by her parents in piety and the Christian faith. Already at 14 years of age the maiden spent a solitary life in the parental home, occupied with several of her own age in prayer, the reading of Holy Scripture, and handicrafts. During the time of a persecution against Christians, -- that under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284-305), there arrived in the city of Barcionum the governor Dacian to rid it of Christians. Hearing about this, the maiden by night secretly left her home and by morning had made her way into the city. Pushing her way through the throng of people, the girl made a bold denunciation of the judge, for forcing people to renounce the True God to instead offer sacrifice to devils. Dacian gave orders to viciously beat the girl with canes, but she steadfastly endured the torment and told the judge, that the Lord would deliver her from the feelings of pain. They suspended the martyress from a tree and tore at her skin with iron claws, and they then burnt at her wounds with torches. During the time of torment Dacian asked the saint: "Where then is thy God, Whom thou hast called upon?" She answered, that the Lord was alongside her, but that Dacian in his impurity would not be able to see Him. During the time of the saint's prayer: "Behold, God wilt help me, and the Lord be defender of my soul" (Ps. 53 [54]: 4) -- the flames of the torches turned back upon the torturers, who fell to the ground. The Martyress Eulalia began to pray, that the Lord would take her to Heaven to Himself, and with this prayer she died. People beheld a white dove, flying up from her mouth to Heaven. The body of the saint was buried by night by Christians. The parents of the martyress, having come upon her during her sufferings, wept but were also gladdened, that their daughter would be numbered amidst the ranks of the saints. When they took Saint Eulalia from the tree, one of the Christians, by the name of Felix, said with tears of joy: "Lady Eulalia, thou art the first of us to win the martyr's crown!" The Martyr Felix himself soon accepted death for Christ (his memory is also on this day, 22 August).

The Monk Bogolep was a disciple of the Monk Paisii of Uglich (+ 1504, Comm. 6 June). In the world Saint Bogolep was a baker of bread, and then too in the monastery he bore this as his obedience. A wonderworking icon of the Protection ("Pokrov") of the MostHoly Mother of God appeared to him, when the monk went early in the morning for water to the Volga. He beheld the icon -- from whence it came unknown -- which stood at the riverbank and gleamed with an Heavenly Light. Forgetting about the water, the Monk Bogolep quickly ran back to the monastery and told everything to the Monk Paisii. The Monks Adrian, Vassian, Bogolep and Paisii in company with all the monastery brethren carried the icon to the monastery. The Monk Bogolep had the dignity of priest-monk. Before death he became a schema-monk. His memory is made on 22 August, the day of memory of the same-named Martyr Theoprepios (which in Russian translation is "Bogolep" meaning "God-worthy").

The Gruzinian (Georgian) Icon of the mother of God: In 1622 the Persian shah Abbas conquered Gruzia. Many Christian holy things were plundered and many such were sold to the Russian merchants that were in Persia. Thus, the Gruzinian Icon of the Mother of God came the way of a certain merchant named Stefan, who piously kept it. During this time in Yaroslavl' the merchant Georgii Lytkin -- on whose trade-business Stefan was in Persia -- received in a dream a revelation about the holy article found by Stefan, and he was commanded to send it off to the Chernogorsk monastery in the Arkhangelsk diocese, founded in 1603. When Stefan returned home in 1629 and showed the icon to Georgii Lytkin, who remembered about his vision and he set off to the Dvina outskirts to the Chernogorsk monastery (called such since it was built on an hilly and somber place, and from of old had been named "Black Mount" ("Chernaya Gora"), but afterwards the monastery was changed in name to "Pretty Hill" ("Krasnaya Gora"). The icon was glorified there by miracles. In 1654 during the time of a pestilential plague the icon was transferred to Moscow, and those praying before it escaped the deadly plague. The many copies of the icon testifies to its deep veneration. In 1658, with the blessing of Patriarch Nikon, there was established an annual feastday of the Gruzinian Icon of the Mother of God. The service was compiled in 1698 under the supervision of Feodor Polikarpov of the Moscow printing-office.

© 1999 by translator Fr S Janos

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