December 2nd (XII - 15)
Icon of the Prophet Avvakum, Martyress Myropia, and Monk Cyril Phileotes
Prophet Avvakum (Habbakuk) (VII Century B.C.). Monks Athanasii (Afanasii), Hermit of Pechersk, in Nearer Caves (+ c. 1176), and another Athanasii, Hermit of Pechersk, in Farther Caves (XIII). Martyress Myropia (+ c. 251). Monks John, Herakleimon, Andrew and Theophilos (IV). Monk Ise (Jesse), Bishop of Tsilkan (VI Century, Gruzia). Saint Stefan Urosh, tsar of Serbia (+ 1367, Serbia). Sainted Solomon, Archbishop of Ephesus. Monk Cyril Phileotes (+ 1060). Saint Momeas the Confessor. Monk Onisyphoros.
The Holy Prophet Avvakum (Habbakuk), one of the 12 Minor Prophets, was descended from the Tribe of Simeon, and he prophesied in about the year 650 B.C.
The Prophet Avvakum foresaw the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, the Babylonian Captivity and the later return of the captives to their native-land. During the time of the war with the Babylonians the prophet withdrew to Arabia, where with him there occurred the following miracle. When he was bringing dinner to the reapers, he met with an Angel of the Lord, and instantly by the strength of his spirit he was transported to Babylon, where at the time the Prophet Daniel was languishing in prison. Thus, the food, intended for the reapers, assuaged the hunger of the exhausted Prophet Daniel. After the end of the war with the Babylonians, the Prophet Avvakum returned to his fatherland and died in extreme old age. His relics were found at the time of the holy Constantinople Emperor Theodosius he Younger (408-450).
The Monk Athanasii (or Afanasii), Hermit of Pechersk in the Nearer Caves, was a contemporary of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery archimandrite, the Monk Polikarp (+ 1182, Comm. 24 July).
The Monk Athanasii for a long time was grievously ill. When he died, the brethren prepared him for burial. And on the third day the hegumen came to bury him. But they all beheld, that the dead one was alive, -- he sat there and wept. To all their questions he replied only thus: "Seek salvation, in everything have obedience to the hegumen, repent each hour and pray to our Lord Jesus Christ, to His All-Pure Mother and to the Monks Antonii and Theodosii, so as to end good the life here. Ask ye no more".
After this he lived for 12 years more in solitude in a cave and in all this time he spoke not a word to anyone, he wept day and night, and only every other day did he partake of a little bread and water. Only just before his death, having assembled the brethren, did he repeat his earlier spoken words to them, and then he peacefully expired to the Lord (in about the year 1176).
The monk Vavilii, many a year having suffered illness and a weakness of the legs, was healed at his relics. "One time I did lay there, -- he related to the brethren, -- and I cried out from sharp pain. Suddenly to me there came Blessed Athanasii and said: come to me, and I shalt heal thee. I wanted to ask him, how and when he had come here. But he became invisible. I however was convinced of his appearance and besought, that I should be taken to his relics. And indeed, I have been healed".
The Monk Athanasii was buried in the Antoniev Cave. His memory is celebrated also on 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Monk Athanasii (Afanasii), Hermit of Pechersk in the Farther Caves: His name is mentioned in the 4th ode of the general canon of Monastic Fathers of the Farther Caves. In the "Sayings about the Lives of the Saints, at Repose in the Cave of the Monk Theodosii", it says, that for the Monk Athanasii there was no need of candle in the cave, since an Heavenly brilliance shone for him. To all, who approach him with faith, he grants healing. The memory of the Monk Athanasii is celebrated also on 28 August and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Holy Martyress Myropia was born in the city of Ephesus at the beginning III Century. She early lost her father, and her mother raised her in the Christian faith.
Saint Myropia, frequenting the grave of the Martyress Hermionia (Comm. 4 September), daughter of the holy Apostle Philip, took myrh from her relics and healed the sick. At the time of the persecution by Decius (249-251), Myropia went away with her mother to the island of Chios, where they spent the time in fasting and prayer.
One time, by order of the cruel governor of the island, there was martyred the Soldier Isidor (Comm. 14 May), a man of deep faith and great piety. Saint Myropia secretly took and buried the body of the martyr. The soldiers, who had orders not to allow Christians to the body of Isidor, were sentenced to death. Saint Myropia took pity on the condemned and she herself reported to soldiers and then the governor about her doings. At the trial she confessed herself a Christian. For this they gave her a fierce beating and then threw her in prison. In the prison at midnight there shone a light. Thus appeared Saint Isidor surrounded by Angels, and they took up the soul of Myropia (+ c. 251). The prison was immediately filled with fragrance. The pagan guard, trembling at the vision, told about this to a priest, thereafter accepting Baptism and a martyr's death for the confession of Christ.
The Monk Ise (Jesse), Bishop of Tsilkan, was born at Syrian Antioch in a pious Christian family. While still a lad he felt the pull towards the spiritual life, and with the attainment of mature age, and the blessing of his parents, he set out to one of the Antioch monasteries, where at the time asceticised the Monk John Zedazeni (the account about him is located under 7 May).
The Monk Ise was included amongst the number of the 13 holy Syrian (Cappadocian) Fathers (their general commemoration is 7 May), who were chosen by lot by the Monk John Zedazeni (as commanded him by the Mother of God). The Monk Ise arrived in Gruzia (Georgia) together with them, and with them he taught and instructed the people in the pious life, providing an example of sanctity and healing the sick.
The reports of the deeds of the 13 Syrian Fathers spread about among the people such, that the Katholikos-Archbishop of Gruzia Eulabios (533-544) proposed having a council of bishops meet and choose certain of these ascetics to fill empty cathedra-seats. Because of the difficulty of whom to choose, since all alike were worthy of the dignity of bishop, they proposed to go to the city of Zaden, where the ascetics dwelt, and to choose those who at the time were celebrating the Divine Liturgy. In this manner thus became bishops: the PriestMonk Habib (the account about him is located under 29 November) and the MonkDeacon Ise, appointed to the Tsilkan cathedra-seat. Having arrived in his diocese, Ise was astonished by the rampant pagan rites, customs and superstition. He zealously concerned himself with the restoration of piety, preaching constantly and making frequent Divine-services. His work bore fruit -- in the Tsilkan diocese Orthodox piety was affirmed, and with it also was affirmed the Church of Christ. Continuing also his ascetic efforts, Saint Ise attained to great gifts of prayer and wonderworking. Through his prayer, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ there separated off from the River Xana a stream of water, which -- in following the course that the saint intended, formed the bed of a canal and stretched to the church of the MostHoly Mother of God (near Tsilkan). Having put his diocese in good order, Saint Ise set off preaching to the Ossetians and other mountain peoples of the great Caucasus Mountain range. He made the rounds of he ravines and the rocky crags with the Gospel and cross in hand, everywhere affirming the teaching of God's revelation.
Saint Ise learned about his impending end through a revelation from above. Gathering his flock and clergy, he preached a spiritual instruction, communed the Holy Mysteries, and with hands upraised to Heaven he offered up his soul o the Lord. This transpired at the end VI Century. (The known exact day of the saint's death is 18 August). The venerable relics of Saint Ise, already glorified by healing at the time of his burial, were consigned to earth in the church of the MostHoly Mother of God at Tsilkan, betwixt the altar-table and the table of oblation. The Church subsequently enumerated Saint Ise to the rank of the Saints and set his day of memory as 2 December.
Saint Stefan Urosh, Tsar of Serbia, was son of tsar Dushan Nemany, and was born in the year 1337. In 1346 he was crowned king. Dushan sought the daughter of the French king for his son, but the Roman pope insisted that the princess not change from the Latin confession. Dushan did not want to see a Catholic in his family, and because of this Saint Stefan Urosh entered into marriage with the daughter of Vlad, prince of Valachia.
Upon the death of his father (+ 1355), Saint Stefan Urosh became the independent and actual ruler of Serbia. He was faithful to the Lord, like a father he provided for widows and orphans, he pacified quarrels and maintained peace, he was charitable to the poor, and defended the downtrodden.
In the interests of peace in Serbia and indeed for the preservation of his own life, Saint Stefan was obliged to flee to his kinsman, prince Lazar. Saint Stefan's uncle, Vulkashin, immediately seized the throne, but his fear of rivals gave him no peace. Through his sister, the mother of Saint Stefan, he invited his nephew to come to the city of Skopje, on the ruse of a reconciliation. Greeting him with honour, as tsar, he invited him to go hunting. When Saint Stefan, weary from the hunt, went off with his horse to a well and bent over to take a sip of water, Vulkashin struck him a mortal blow on the head with a mace (+ 1367).
© 2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos