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September 15th (IX - 28)

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of Martyr Niketas, St. Visarion, and St. Philotheus

GreatMartyr Nikita (+ c. 372). Sainted Akakios the Confessor, Bishop of Meletineia (Uncovering of Relics, III). Martyrs Maximos, Theodotos, Askliada (Asklipiodota) (+ 305-311). PriestMartyr the Bishop Filius, and many together with him (IV). Martyr Porphyrios (+ 361). Uncovering of the Relics of FirstMartyr Archdeacon Stephen (415). Monk Philotheios the Presbyter, in Asia Minor (X). Sainted Joseph, Bishop of Alaverdi (+ 570, Gruzia). Sainted Bessarion, Archbishop of Larissa (XVI). Monk Gerasimos. Martyr John of Crete (+ 1811). Holy Empress Placilla, Wife of Emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395). Martyr Theklos. Martyr Valerian the Infant. Martyr Leonides. Nun Maria of Egissa (VII). MonkMartyr Makarios of Soluneia (Thessalonika, + 1523). Two Virgin Martyrs. Novonikita Icon of the Mother of God (372).

The Holy GreatMartyr Nikita was a Goth (a Germanic tribe). He was born and lived on the banks of the Danube River, and suffered for Christ in the year 372. The Christian faith was then already widely spread throughout the territory of the Goths. Saint Nikita believed in Christ and accepted Baptism from the Gothic bishop Theophilus, a participant in the First OEcumenical Council. Pagan Goths began to oppose the spread of Christianity, which resulted in internecine strife.

After the victory of Fritigern, -- heading a Christian army and inflicting defeat on the pagan Athanarik, the Christian faith began to spread increasingly among the Goths. Bishop Wulfil, the successor to Bishop Theophilus, created a Gothic alphabet and translated into the Gothic language many priestly books. Saint Nikita worked intensely among his fellow Goths at spreading Christianity. By his personal example and inspired words he brought many pagans to the Christian faith. However, Athanarik after his defeat again contrived to gather his own forces, return to his own country and reestablish his former power. Having remained a pagan, he continued to hate Christians and persecute them. Saint Nikita, having undergone many tortures, was thrown into a fire, where he died in the year 372. The friend of Saint Nikita, a Christian named Marianus, by night retrieved the body of the martyr, -- unharmed by the fire and illumined by a miraculous light, and gave it over to burial in Cilicia. Afterwards it was transferred to Constantinople. Part of the relics of the GreatMartyr Nikita were later transferred to the monastery of Vysokie Dechany in Serbia.

The Holy Presbyter and Wonderworker Philotheios lived in the X Century in the village of Mrauino (or Murav'evo) located in Bythnia in Asia Minor. He was married and had children. Philotheios accepted the dignity of priesthood and from that time he devoted himself to deeds of prayer and fasting, and works of charity. Because of his holy life the Monk Philotheios received from God the gift of wonderworking. The ascetic continually fed the hungry and helped the needy. The Monk Philotheios died peacefully. From his relics flowed myrh.

Sainted Joseph, Bishop of Alaverdi, -- was one of the Thirteen Holy Syrian (Cappadocian) Fathers, the establishers of Georgian Monasticism (the accounts concerning them is located under 7 May). He, as a "blossom of longed-for virginity", from his early years chose the monastic vocation. Having arrived in Gruzia (Georgia) with his teacher Saint John Zedazni (Comm. 7 May), Saint Joseph settled in Kakhetia in the unpopulated and barren Alaverdian steppes. Here he began his ascetic exploits. His spiritual strength was so great that even wild beasts did not touch him, and the steppe deer came to him and nourished him with their milk.

One of the Kakhetian nobles during an hunt found himself on the Alaverdian steppes and was so astonished, seeing Saint Joseph standing at prayer, that he remained with him.

Reports about this personage becoming a monk and about the holy life of the Monk Joseph spread throughout Kakhetia. People fervent for piety and the ascetic life began to throng to the Alaverdian steppe to Saint Joseph. A monastery thus arose, and a church in honour of the GreatMartyr George was built.

Chosen to lead the monastery, Saint Joseph with fatherly love concerned himself about the brethren of the monastery, and about the spiritual enlightenment of Kakhetia. Pagan superstitions were still not eradicated, and Saint Joseph -- with cross in hand, often left the monastic solitude for preaching the Word of God.

Beholding the saintly and immaculate life of the monk Joseph and his sincere desire to serve them, the Kakhetian people willingly and joyfully accepted the Gospel teaching, and abandoned their unbelief and pagan customs.Saint Joseph composed a catechism (lost in the XVI Century) by which he taught the flock entrusted to him. Nearing the end of his life of lofty service, Saint Joseph secluded himself in a tight cell for complete silence.

In the year 570 occurred his peaceful and blessed end. Sainted Joseph was buried in the church of the holy GreatMartyr George in Alaverdi.

In the IX Century in place of the former church was erected the great Alaverdi cathedral in which, on the left side of the Altar at the north wall, -- under a grave-cover rests the body of Sainted Joseph.

The Holy Martyr Porphyrios suffered during the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363). Porphyrios was an actor and on the emperor's birthday he was performing a role at the theater, whereby he was supposed to mock at the mystery of holy Baptism. But when Porphyrios during the course of the play immersed himself in water and uttered: "Baptised is the servant of God Porphyrios, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit", -- then, under the inspiration of Divine grace received by him at these words, he emerged from the water confessing himself a Christian. Julian thereupon ordered him to be tortured and after the torments to be beheaded. This happened in the city of Ephesus in the year 361.

The Holy Martyrs Maximos, Askliada (Asklipiodota), and Theodotos suffered at the beginning of the IV Century under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). Eminent citizens of the city of Marcianopolis, Maximos and Askliada led a pious Christian life. By their example they brought many to faith in Christ and to holy Baptism. During the time of the persecution the governor of Thrace, Tiris, went the rounds of the city subject to him and persecuted those believing in Christ. He summoned before him Maximos and Askliada and demanded they recant from the Christian faith. But seeing the firm faith of the martyrs, he commanded that they be cruelly beaten. Then a certain pious man, by the name of Theodotos, began to reproach the governor for his inhumanity and cruelty. They seized him also, and hanging him on a tree, they subjected him to torture with iron hooks. After this they threw the three martyrs into prison. Tiris traveled further for two weeks more and took the holy martyrs along with him. In the city of Adrianopolis he subjected them to still greater tortures, commanding that their bodies be scorched with white-hot plates. Amidst the agony of suffering was a comforting Voice from Heaven, strengthening them in endurance. After several days of torture they threw the martyrs to wild beasts in the circus for devouring, but the she-bear released upon Saints Maximos and Theodotos instead began to cuddle up to them. They tied Saint Askliada to a bull, but he became as though rooted on the spot, not budging. Tiris in a rage set out farther and, before reaching the city of Philippopolis, in the village of Saltis he again began to urge the martyrs to renounce Christ. Finally, he ordered them to be beheaded. After a while he was punished by the wrath of God: a bolt of lightning struck him when he was sitting upon the judgement seat.

The Uncovering of the Relics of the Holy FirstMartyr Archdeacon Stephen (415): (his memory is 2 August and 27 December).

Sainted Bessarion, Archbishop of Larissa, lived during the XVI Century and founded the Dusika monastery in Thessaly.

The Monk Gerasimos founded a monastery in honour of the Holy Trinity near Makrinitsa in Zagora (Mizia). This monastery received the name Zurvia (Survias).

The NewMartyr John of Crete suffered in the year 1811 under the Turks at New Ephesus.

The Novonikita Icon -- is one of the ancient icons of the Mother of God. It appeared to the holy GreatMartyr Nikita (+ 372). The Martyr Nikita was a former soldier and student of Theophilus, Bishop of the Goths. Prior to accepting Baptism from him, Nikita in a dream saw a Child, holding in hand His Cross. Awakening, he for a long time pondered over the meaning of the vision. A certain Christian girl, by the name of Juliania, on an inspiration from God told the youth that he should turn his glance upon his own chest. To his unspeakable astonishment he discovered there on his own chest an image of the MostHoly Mother of God with the Praeternal Christ-Child, standing on the knees of His Mother and holding in hand the Cross. "This is the same image I saw in the dream", -- cried out Saint Nikita. The appearance of the icon produced such an effect on him, that he quickly took holy Baptism. Soon there began a persecution against Christians, and Saint Nikita accepted the martyr's crown amidst a number of other confessors.

© 1997 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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