August 9th (VIII - 22)
Icon of the Apostle Matthias
Apostle Matthias (+ c. 63). Martyr Anthony of Alexandria. Monk Psoe of Egypt (IV). Martyrs Julian, Marcian, John, James, Alexis, Demetrios, Photios, Peter, Leontios, Maria the Patrician, Gregory the Protospatharion ("Sword-Captain") and others suffering for the Icon of Christ (+ 730). Holy Nobleborn Empress Irene (+ 803). Saint Samuel, Edessa Presbyter (V-VI). Monk Makarii of Oredezhsk (+ 1532).
The Holy Apostle Matthias was born at Bethlehem, and was a descendent of the Tribe of Judah. From his early childhood he studied the Law of God in accord with the Books of Scripture under the guidance of Saint Simeon the God-Receiver. When the Lord Jesus Christ revealed Himself to the world, Saint Matthias believed in Him as the Messiah, followed constantly after Him and was numbered amongst the Seventy Disciples, whom the Lord "did send by twos before His face" (Lk. 10: 1). After the Ascension of the Saviour, Saint Matthias was chosen by lot to replace amongst the 12 Apostles the fallen-away Judas Iscariot (Acts 1: 15-26). After the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Matthias preached the Gospel at Jerusalem and in Judea together with the other Apostles (Acts 6: 2, 8: 14). From Jerusalem he went with the Apostles Peter and Andrew to Syrian Antioch, and was in the Cappadocian city of Tianum and Sinope. Here the Apostle Matthias was locked into prison, from which he was miraculously freed by the Apostle Andrew the First-Called. The Apostle Matthias journeyed after this to Amasia, a city on the shore of the sea. During a 3 year journey of the Apostle Andrew, Saint Matthias was with him at Edessa and Sebasteia. According to Church tradition, he was preaching at Pontine AEthiopia (presently Western Gruzia / Georgia) and Macedonia. He was frequently subjected to deadly peril, but the Lord preserved him alive to further preach the Gospel. One time pagans forced the apostle to drink a poison potion. The apostle drank it and not only did he himself remain unharmed, but he also healed other prisoners which had been blinded by the potion. When Saint Matthias left the prison, the pagans searched for him in vain -- since he had become invisible to them. Another time, when the pagans had become enraged intending to kill the apostle, the earth opened up and engulfed them. The Apostle Matthias returned to Judea and did not cease with the enlightening of his countrymen with the light of Christ's teachings. He worked great miracles in the Name of the Lord Jesus and he converted a great many to faith in Christ. The Jewish High-Priest Ananias hated Christ and earlier had commanded the Apostle James, Brother of the Lord, to be flung down from the heights of the Temple, and now he ordered that the Apostle Matthias be arrested and brought for judgement before the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem. The impious Ananias uttered a speech in which he blasphemously slandered the Lord. By way of answer, the Apostle Matthias pointed out in the prophesies of the New Testament, that Jesus Christ -- is the True God, the Messiah promised Israel by God, the Son of God, Consubstantial and Co-Eternal with God the Father. After these words the Apostle Matthias was sentenced to death by the Sanhedrin and stoned. When Saint Matthias was already dead, the Jews, to hide their malefaction, cut off his head as being an enemy of Caesar. (According to several historians, the Apostle Matthias was crucified on a cross, and indicate that he instead died at Colchis). The Apostle Matthias received the martyr's crown of death for Christ in about the year 63.
The Martyr Anthony, a native of the city of Alexandria, was a Christian. For his confession of faith they tied him to a tree and tore at his body with iron, and then sentenced him to burning. Standing already amidst the bon-fire, he calmly exhorted those standing about to toil not for body for soul in aspiring towards God. After the bon-fire flared up, the body of the saint remained unharmed. The time of his end is unknown.
The Monk Psoe was a disciple of the Monk Pakhomios the Great (Comm. 15 May) and lived during the IV Century in the Egyptian wilderness.
The Martyrs Julian, Marcian, John, James, Alexis, Demetrios, Photios, Peter, Leontios, Maria the Patrician, the Protospatharion ("Sword-Captain") Gregory and Others suffered for holy icons in the year 730 under the Iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian (717-741). The emperor deposed the holy Patriarch Germanos (715-730) from the patriarchal throne and sent him off to prison, raising up onto the patriarchal throne the iconoclast Athanasias (730-753). By decree of the emperor, all icons were to be confiscated from homes and churches and then destroyed. At Constantinople from the time of the holy nobleborn emperor Constantine the Great (324-337) there was over the so-called "Copper Gates" a wonderworking icon of the Saviour, wrought from copper. The emperor and heretic-patriarch Anastasias gave orders to seize this icon. The gathered crowd became outraged at this sacrilege. And in the crowd was the Patrician Maria, a woman of illustrious family, who with many others rushed to the ladder and pulled it from the wall to keep the soldier from touching the icon. The ladder came down, and the soldier standing on it fell to his death. This occurred on 19 January 730. The Protospatherion ("Sword-Captain") Gregorios and the Martyr-Nun Theodosia (Comm. 29 May) also took part in the defense of the icon. Learning of this, the emperor gave over to death a multitude of the faithful -- the names and number of which are known only to the Lord. The Protospatherion Gregory also received a martyr's death. But there are known some of the Orthodox among those -- Julian, Marcian, John, James, Alexis, Demetrios, Leontios, Photios and Peter -- who were locked up in prison and kept there for about 8 months, each day being beaten with 500 blows; in these torments they remained alive by the power of Christ and bravely endured their sufferings. By order of the emperor were burnt with red-hot iron and their heads cut off. Saint Maria the Patrician, who had not been locked up in prison, learning about the approaching executions, voluntarily accepted a martyr's death. The bodies of the martyrs were buried in a pelagic (seashore) area near the church of the holy Mary Theodore and were uncovered unperished 139 years later.
The Monk Makarii of Oredezhsk was a student of the Monk Alexander of Svirsk (+ 30 August 1533). He pursued asceticism at the River Oredezha at Lake Ladoga, where he founded a monastery. He died in the year 1532.
The Restoration of the Temple of the 40 Martyrs is celebrated on this day. At Tsar'grad two churches were built to them: one, by the emperor Anastasias I (491-518), and the other, by the emperor Tiberius (578-582). For this feastday is known a service in the Greek Meneion of the XIII Century.
© 1998 by translator Fr. S. Janos