September 2nd (IX -15)
Icon of the Martyr Mamas and St. John the Faster
Martyr Mamant, his father Theodotos and mother Ruphina (III). Sainted John the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 595). Pechersk Monks: Antonii the First-Founder (+ 1073) of Monasticism in Rus', and Theodosii (Feodosii, + 1074) the First-Founder of Common-Life Monasticism in Rus'. Martyrs: 3628 at Nicomedia (III-IV). Martyrs: Diomedes, Julian, Philip, Eutykhian, Isyhkios, Leonides, Eutykhios, Philadelphos, Melanippos, Parthagapa and Theodore. Righteous Eleazar (1515 B.C.). Kaluzhsk Icon of the Mother of God (1771).
The Holy Martyr Mamant was born in Paphlagonia of pious and illustrious parents, the Christians Theodotos and Ruphina. For their open confession of their faith, the parents of the saint were arrested by the pagans and locked up in prison in Caesarea Cappadocia. Knowing his own bodily weaknesses, Theodotos prayed, that the Lord would take him before being martyred. The Lord heard his prayer and he died in prison. Saint Ruphina died also after him, having given birth to a premature son, whom she prayerfully entrusted to God, beseeching that He be the Protector and Defender of the orphaned infant. God hearkened to the death-bed prayer of Saint Ruphina: a rich Christian widow named Ammea reverently buried the bodies of Saints Theodotos and Ruphina, and she took the boy into her own home and surrounded him with motherly care. Saint Mamant grew up in the Christian faith. His foster mother concerned herself with the developing of his natural abilities and early on she sent him off to study his grammar. The boy learned easily and willingly. He was not of an age of mature judgement but distinguished himself by maturity of mind and of heart. By means of prudent conversations and personal example young Mamant converted many of his own peers to Christianity. There was a denunciation about this to the governor, named Democritus, and the youth was arrested and brought to trial. In deference to his illustrious parentage Democritus decided not to subject him to torture, but instead sent him off to the emperor Aurelian (270-275). The emperor tried at first kindly, but then with threats to turn Saint Mamant back to the pagan faith, but all in vain: the saint bravely confessed himself a Christian and pointed out the madness of the pagans in their worship of mindless idols. Infuriated, the emperor subjected the youth to cruel tortures. They eventually wanted to drown the saint, but an Angel of the Lord saved Saint Mamant and bid him live on an high mountain in the wilderness, located not far from Caesarea. Bowing to the will of God, the saint built there a small church and began to lead a life of strict temperance, in exploits of fasting and prayer.
Soon he received a remarkable power over the forces of nature: wild beasts inhabiting the surrounding wilderness gathered at his abode and listened to the reading of the Holy Gospel. Saint Mamant nourished himself on the milk of wild goats and deer.
The saint did not ignore the needs of his neighbours: preparing cheese from this milk, he gave it away freely to the poor. Soon the fame of Saint Mamant's life spread throughout all of Caesarea. The governor in concern sent a detachment of soldiers to arrest him. Coming across Saint Mamant on the mountain, the soldiers did not recognise him, and mistook him for a simple shepherd. The saint then invited them to his dwelling, gave them a drink of milk and then told them his name, knowing that a suffering death for Christ awaited him. In surrendering himself over into the hands of the torturers, Saint Mamant was brought to trial under a deputy governor named Alexander, who subjected him to intensive and prolonged tortures. But they did not break the Christian will of the saint. He was strengthened by the words addressed to him from above: "Be strong and take courage, Mamant". When they gave Saint Mamant over for devouring by wild beasts, these creatures would not touch him. Finally, one of the pagan-priests struck at him with a trident-spear. Mortally wounded, Saint Mamant went out beyond the city limits. There, in a small stone cave, he offered up his spirit to God, Who in the hearing of all summoned the holy Martyr Mamant into the habitation on high (+ 275). He was buried by believers at the place of his death.
Christians soon began to receive from him blessings of help in their afflictions and sorrows. Saint Basil the Great speaks thus about the holy Martyr Mamant in a sermon to the people: "Commemorate ye the holy martyr: those, who saw him in a vision, who from amongst the living here have him as an helper, those whom in calling on his name he hath helped in some matter, those whom he hath guided out of a prodigal life, those whom he hath healed of infirmity, those whose children already dead he hath restored to life, those whose life he hath prolonged -- all of ye, gathered as one, praise ye the martyr".
Saint John IV the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople (582-595), is famed in the Orthodox Church as the compiler of a Penitential nomokanon (i.e. Law-Canon of penances), which has come down to us in several distinct versions. But their foundation is one and the same. This -- is an instruction for priests, how to hear a secret confession of secret sins, be this a sin already committed or constituting merely a sin of intent. Ancient churchly rules address the manner and duration of churchly public penances, established for obvious and evident sinners. But it was necessary to effectively adapt these rules for the secret confession of undetected things being repented of. Saint John the Faster because of this issued his Penitential nomokanon (or "Canonaria"), so that the good-intentioned confession of secret sins, unknown to the world, already testifies to the disposition of the sinner and his conscience in being reconciled to God, and therefore the saint shortened the penances by the ancient fathers by half or more. Yet on the other hand, he set more exactly the character of the penances: severe fasting, daily performing of an established number of prayerful prostrations to the ground, the distribution of alms. The length of penance is determined by the priest. The main purpose of the nomocanon, compiled by the holy Patriarch, consists in establishing penances not simply by the measure of sins, but by the measure of admitting the confessed, and through the appraisement of penitence not by continual punishment, but through the extent of the experience to be confessed, one's spiritual state.
Among the Greeks, and afterwards also in the Russian Church the rules of Saint John the Faster are honoured on a level "with other saintly rules", and the law-canons of his book are accounted "applicable for all the Orthodox Church". The Monk Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain (Nikodim Svyatogorets, Comm. 1 July) included him in the Greek handbook for priests (Exomologitaria), first published in 1796, and in the Greek "Rudder Book" (Pedalion), published by him in 1800.
The first Slavonic translation was done quite possibly by the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Methodios, at the same time as he produced the "Nomocanon in 50 Titles" of the holy Patriarch John Scholastikos, whose successor on the Constantinople cathedra-seat was Saint John the Faster. This ancient translation was preserved in Rus' in the "Ustiug Rudder" (XIII), published in 1902.
From the XVI Century in the Russian Church was circulated the nomocanon of Saint John the Faster in another redaction, compiled by priest-monks and clergy of Holy Mount Athos. In this form it was repeatedly published at the Kievo-Pechersk Lavra (in 1620, 1624, 1629). In Moscow the Penitential Nomokanon was published in the form of a supplement to the Trebnik ("Book of Needs"): under Patriarch Joasaph in 1639, under Patriarch Joseph in 1651, and under Patriarch Nikon in 1658. The last edition since that time invariably is that printed in the Large Trebnik. A scholarly edition of the nomocanon with parallel Greek and Slavonic texts and with detailed historical and canonical commentary was done by A. S. Pavlov (Moscow, 1897).
The 3628 Martyrs in Nicomedia suffered under the co-emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284-305). These were Christians who had come from Alexandria. They had come to believe in Christ following the killing of Saint Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria (Comm. 25 November). Having taken with them their wives and children, they arrived in Nicomedia and voluntarily gave themselves over for martyrdom, exclaiming: "We are Christians". Diocletian at first attempted to plead with them to renounce Christ, but seeing their firmness, he ordered them all to be beheaded, and their bodies to be thrown into a fiery pit. Many years later the relics of the holy martyrs were discovered through various manifestations of grace.
The Appearance of the Kaluzhsk Icon of the Mother of God occurred in 1748 in the village of Tinkova, near Kaluga, at the home of the landowner Vasilii Kondrat'evich Khitrov. Two servants of Khitrov were examining old things in the attic of his home. One of them, Evdokia, noted for her unconstrained temper, was given to rough and even indecorous language. Her companion began to admonish her and while arguing she discovered a large package covered in a grimy sackcloth. Undoing it, the girl saw the picture of a woman in dark garments with a book in her hands. Considering it to be the portrait of a woman monastic and wanting to bring Evdokia to her senses, she accused her of being disrespectful to the hegumeness. Evdokia answered the scolding words of her companion, and becoming increasingly angry, she spit at the picture. Immediately she became convulsed and fell down senseless. Her frightened companion reported about what had happened throughout the household. The next night, The Queen of Heaven appeared to Evdokia's parents and told them, that their daughter had jeered at Her blasphemously and She ordered them to make a molieben before the insulted icon, and to sprinkle the invalid with holy water at the molieben. After the molieben Evdokia recovered, and Khitrov took the wonderworking icon into his own home, where abundantly issued forth healings to those approaching it with faith. Afterwards they conveyed the icon to the parish temple in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God in the village of Kaluzhka. A copy of it was dispatched to Kaluga. At the present time it is situated in the cathedral church of Kaluga.
Through this icon the Mother of God has repeatedly manifest Her protection of the Russian Land during its difficult times. The celebration of the Kaluga Icon on 2 September was established in remembrance of the deliverance from an ulcerous plague in 1771. A second celebration was established 12 October, in memory of the saving of Kaluga from the French invasion of 1812. In 1898 there was established a celebration on 18 July in gratitude to the Mother of God for safe-guarding against cholera. Celebration is made likewise on the 1st Sunday of the Peter fast.
© 2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos