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August 3rd (VIII - 16)

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of the Martyr Isaac, Faustus of Constantinople and St. Theoklestous

Monks Isaac, Dalmatius and Faustus (IV-V). Monk Anthony the Roman, Novgorod Wonderworker (+ 1147). Martyr Razhdenes the Persian (+ 457) (Gruzia). Monk Kosma the Hermit (VI). Monk John the Confessor, Hegumen of Patalarea. The Holy Myrh-Bearing Woman Salome (I).

The Monks Isaac, Dalmatius and Faustus were hegumens of a Dalmatian monastery. The Monk Dalmatius had served in the army of the holy nobleborn emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395) and gained his notice. Having left the world somewhere between the years 381-383, the Monk Dalmatius together with his son Faustus went to the monastery of the Monk Isaac near Constantinople. The Monk Isaac vowed father and son into monasticism, and they both began to lead a strict ascetic life. Once during Great Lent the Monk Dalmatius did not partake of food during the course of 40 days, and later having regained his strength, he was vouchsafed worthy of a Divine vision. Having drawn near the end of his earthly life, the Monk Isaac put in his place as monastery head the Monk Dalmatius, through whose name the monastery became known as the Dalmatian.

The Monk Dalmatius showed himself a zealous proponent of the Orthodox faith at the III OEcumenical Council at Ephesus (431), which censured the heresy of Nestorius.

After the Council the holy fathers elevated the Monk Dalmatius to the dignity of archimandrite of the Dalmatian monastery, at which he died at age ninety (after year 446).

About the Monk Faustus is known that he, like his father, was a great ascetic and in monastic deeds he particularly excelled at fasting. After the death of his father, Faustus became hegumen of the monastery.

The Monk Anthony the Roman was born at Rome in the year 1067 of rich parents, keeping to the Orthodox confession of faith, and he was raised by them in piety. As an orphan having lost his parents at age 17, he took up the study of the fathers in the Greek language. Afterwards he distributed part of his inheritance to the poor, and the other portion he put into a wooden box and threw it into the sea. And then he took monastic vows at one of the wilderness skete-monasteries, where he lived for 20 years. A persecution of the Latins against the Orthodox forced the brethren to separate. The Monk Anthony wandered about, going from place to place, until he came upon a large rock upon the solitary shore of the sea, where he lived for a whole year in fasting and prayer. A terrible storm, happening on 5 September 1105, tore away the stone on which the Monk Anthony was situated, and threw him into the sea. On the Feast of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God the stone halted 3 versts from Novgorod on the banks of the River Volkhov near the village of Volkhovsk. This event is testified to in the Novgorod Chronicles. At this place the monk, with the blessing of Sainted Nikita the Hermit (+ 1109, Comm. 14 May), founded a monastery in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God. In another year fishermen fished out the box with the inheritance of the Monk Anthony, cast into the sea many years before. Having declared what was in the box, the monk took the box and bought land for the monastery. Spiritual asceticism was combined at the monastery with intense physical work.

The Monk Anthony was concerned, that from the monastery income help should be rendered for the needy, and for orphans and widows. In the year 1117 the monk began construction with stone at the monastery. Up until our own day there has been preserved a cathedral in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God -- built during the lifetime of the monk in the years 1117-1119 by the reknown Novgorod architect Peter, and with wall-frescoes in the year 1125. In the year 1131 Sainted Niphont of Novgorod made the Monk Anthony hegumen of the monastery. He died on 3 August 1147 and was buried by Sainted Niphont.

The Monk Anthony was glorified in the year 1597. His memory is noted likewise (in honour of the uncovering of the relics) on the first Friday after the feastday of the First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul (29 June), and on 17 January -- on the same name?day when the memory of the Monk Anthony the Great is celebrated. The first life of the Monk Anthony the Roman was written soon after his death by his student and successor as hegumen -- the priestmonk Andrei. A collected life, with an account about the uncovering of the relics and praiseworthy discourse, was done by a novice of the Antoniev monastery, the monk Niphont, in the year 1598.

The Martyr Razhdenes, a Persian and worshipper of the Zoroastrian religion, was descended from an illustrious family. He was the tutor of the Persian princess Balendykhta (daughter of the Persian emperor Ormizd), who entered into marriage with the pious Gruzian [Georgian] emperor Vakhtang the Great (446-449). Together with her, Razhdenes resettled in Gruzia. Out of consideration for his high parentage, the emperor heaped his wife's tutor with favours and made him his adviser. The simple and good-natured foreigner was soon beloved by all the court and the people. When he learned about Christianity and had accepted Baptism, he then began frequently to converse with Archbishop Michael and to visit church. The heart of the saint burned with an inexpressible love for Christ. He strove to comprehend the wisdom of God, he conversed much with the pastors of the Church and with eagerness he listened to the accounts and teachings about the deeds of Christian martyrs. The desire to be united with Christ irresistibly attracted him to accept suffering for the Saviour.

A bloody war between Persia and Greece spilled over into Orthodox Gruzia. The new Persian emperor Firuz (from year 456) urged Gruzia to dissolve its union with the same-faithed Greece. Having received refusal, he marched an army against Gruzia, and began a bitter war. In the words of the chronicler, the women were given over to brazen outrages, and the men -- to cruel torments and tortures. Looking upon this, Christians remained firm in the faith and, hoping on the help of God, they gave resistance to the enemy. During this time Saint Razhdenes had accepted the command over the army at the capital and its surrounding fortifications. For four months he led a stubborn struggle against the enemies of Christianity and repulsed them from the capital. The Persians decided to take revenge, having captured the zealous leader alive. All together all at once they attacked the Gruzian detachment of the fortress of Armaz and Saint Razhdenes was treacherously handed over by those to whom he had bestown high rank. They immediately took the captive to the emperor Firuz. Informed about everything, the emperor questioned Saint Razhdenes about his parentage and the reasons for renouncing his former faith and people. The martyr answered: "It is certainly true, emperor, that I once left my own nation and its gods, which serve man and are an adornment of the universe, but I now serve the One True and Living God, Who made Heaven and earth and everything that exists, Who alone possesses immortality and dwelleth in the Light imperishable, Whom no one hath ever beheld or seeth. This is the One True God, Whom I know in Three Persons in One Existence. And one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity, the Word and Son of the Father, in the fulness of time and for our salvation, came down upon the earth, was incarnated of the Holy Virgin Mary, lived upon the earth, suffered, was nailed to the Cross, died, and on the third day after death He arose, and after forty days He ascended up to Heaven and doth sit at the right side of the Father. At the end of the world This One -- the Son of God, Jesus Christ, will come again upon the earth in glory, so as to judge the living and the dead, and then the righteous wilt shine like the sun, but the impious and those disobedient to Him He wilt bind together with the devil in eternal torment".

Knowing the courage of the saint, the emperor Firuz decided to make him worship the sun and fire not by torture, but with words of flattery. "Let it be known to thee, emperor, -- answered the martyr, -- that I shalt not renounce my Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath created me, and I wilt not worship thy gods. Keep to thyself thy promises to me of riches and glory, which are for me neither necessary nor wanted, and for them I shalt not abandon my God, Who called me to the Light of His Son, and I shalt not exchange the eternal life promised us of Christ, for life temporal and transitory. Wherefore do not promise nor advise me, for thou wilt not force me to recant from Christ my God; I reject thy offers of honours and riches and I shalt no more listen to thee, rather than my Lord". When they took hold of the martyr so as to begin the tortures, he again turned to the emperor: "Thou sayest, that thou shalt give me over to tortures, and dost thou think that these torments would be more terrible than eternal agonies, knowing, that for me Christ and death -- are to my advantage". The fire-worshippers began the terrible tortures, and then locked up the martyr in prison. After some time the emperor Firuz on the advice of serveral perfidious Gruzinian dignitaries sent Saint Razhdenes to Mtskheta, where his family lived. The emperor sent him safely, knowing, that the martyr would keep his given word to return to the Persians. His family entreated him to spare himself and those near him, but Saint Razhdenes answered firmly: "Nothing shall turn me away from love for my Lord Jesus Christ". He returned to the Persians, and emperor Firuz sent him off to the governor of Upper Kartalinia, living in the town of Tsrom. They again began with their deluded exhortations and fierce tortures. Then they cast the mutilated martyr into a fetid prison. By night the Saviour Himself appeared to him and healed his wounds. The astonished Persians then decided that it was time to execute the sentence of the emperor -- to crucify the martyr on a cross.

"Rejoice, Life-Creating Wood, by which was slain the serpent of old and to which are nailed my sins, -- cried out the martyr, seeing the instrument of his death by execution. -- And I through thee shall ascend to my Lord Jesus Christ, Who shalt grant me the help and the strength to bear to the end the lot prepared for me. Wherefore I have witnessed to truth before His enemies and like Him I shall be nailed to thee". They stripped the holy martyr and nailed him to the cross amidst four criminals, crucified in a row. Wanting to increase his suffering, the Persians requested archers from the governor. Struck by poisoned arrows like the Martyr Sebastian, Saint Razhdenes died on the cross in the year 457. All the ground under him was covered by his holy blood. Portents appeared in the heavens: the sun was hid and there began a long eclipse, and during the night there arose a terrible storm, such that nothing could be seen right in front of oneself. Only the body of the martyr shone with an Heavenly light. The guards were seized with terror at the vicious act committed, and they fled to their quarters. Christians, concealed not far away, took down the martyr from the cross and buried him with honour, near the place where he had been crucified.

The saint's place of burial remained unknown for a long time, until the martyr himself commanded the priest who had buried him to reveal this to Vakhtang the Great. With great solemnity the relics of the Martyr Razhdenes were transferred to a Nikozeia church (near the city of Tsinvali).

The name Razhdenes signifies "shining faith". The First-Martyr of the Gruzian Church -- by his death, accompanied by the appearance of the Saviour and Heavenly portents, gives firm hope for the General Resurrection at the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Monk Kosma the Hermit lived during the VI Century in the Tharan wilderness in Palestine. An account of the Bikaneia presbyter Abba Basil about the Monk Kosma is located in the book "Spiritual Meadow" compiled by the Monk John Moskhos. He was strict of fasting, a firm defender of the Orthodox faith and Church dogmas, and profoundly knowledgeable in Holy Scripture and the works of the Church fathers. The Monk Kosma particularly revered the works of Sainted Athanasias the Great and told those to whom he spoke: "If thou comest across a word of Saint Atanasias and hast not paper, write it down upon thy clothing". He had the habit to stand at prayer all night Saturday through Sunday. Having once come to Antioch, he died there. The patriarch buried his body at his monastery. Abba Basil relates, that when he came to venerate at the grave of Saint Kosma, he found there a beggar, who told him: "It is a great elder, which ye have buried here!", and he explained that he lay as a cripple for 12 years and received healing through the prayers of Saint Kosma.

© 1997 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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