Orthodox icon of Theophilus, Theophilos, Theofilos the Myrrhgusher of Macedonia icon
Commemorated July 8th.
Saint Theophilus was from Ziki in Macedonia, and lived during the sixteenth century. He had a very good education, but more importantly he dedicated himself to God, purifying himself from every soul-destroying passion, and acquiring every virtue which filled him with the grace of the All-Holy Spirit.
He travelled to Alexandria, at the request of Patriarch Niphon of Constantinople, in order to determine whether the stories about Patriarch Joachim being able to move mountains and to drink poison with no ill effects were true or not. After looking into the matter, he was able to verify that these stories were true.
After completing this work, Saint Theophilus went to struggle on the Holy Mountain, living first at Vatopedi, then at Iveron before settling at Saint Basil’s cell near Karyes. Although he did not seek the praise of men, the fame of the holy ascetic became known on Mount Athos, and in other places as well. His holy life and spiritual gifts could not be hidden, but were revealed by the Lord.
When the Archbishop of Thessalonica reposed, Saint Theophilus was nominated for this office. Out of humility, however, he declined to accept the position.
In 1548, as he felt the approach of death, Saint Theophilus told his disciple Isaac not to give him an honorable burial, but to tie a cord around his feet and drag him out of the monastery, and then to throw his body into a nearby stream.
When the saint fell asleep in the Lord on July 8, 1548, Isaac carried out the instructions of his Elder. Although he was reluctant to do this, he obeyed the saint just as he had always done when Saint Theophilus was alive.
By God’s will, the holy relics of Saint Theophilus were later found and brought to his cell. Then a fragrant myrrh began to flow from the saint’s incorrupt body, which was later enshrined at the Pantokrator Monastery.
Orthodox icon of Saint Nicholas, Nikolai Velimirovic, Bishop of Zhicha, Serbia
Commemorated March 18th.
Saint Nikolai of Zhicha, “the Serbian Chrysostom,” was born in Lelich in western Serbia on January 4, 1881 (December 23, 1880 O.S.). His parents were Dragomir and Katherine Velimirovich, who lived on a farm where they raised a large family. His pious mother was a major influence on his spiritual development, teaching him by word and especially by example. As a small child, Nikolai often walked three miles to the Chelije Monastery with his mother to attend services there.
Sickly as a child, Nikolai was not physically strong as an adult. He failed his physical requirements when he applied to the military academy, but his excellent academic qualifications allowed him to enter the Saint Sava Seminary in Belgrade, even before he finished preparatory school.
After graduating from the seminary in 1905, he earned doctoral degrees from the University of Berne in 1908, and from King’s College, Oxford in 1909. When he returned home, he fell ill with dysentery. Vowing to serve God for the rest of his life if he recovered, he was tonsured at the Rakovica Monastery on December 20, 1909 and was also ordained to the holy priesthood.
In 1910 he went to study in Russia to prepare himself for a teaching position at the seminary in Belgrade. At the Theological Academy in Saint Petersburg, the Provost asked him why he had come. He replied, “I wanted to be a shepherd. As a child, I tended my father’s sheep. Now that I am a man, I wish to tend the rational flock of my heavenly Father. I believe that is the way that has been shown to me.” The Provost smiled, pleased by this response, then showed the young man to his quarters.
After completing his studies, he returned to Belgrade and taught philosophy, logic, history, and foreign languages at the seminary. He spoke seven languages, and this ability proved very useful to him throughout his life.
Saint Nikolai was renowned for his sermons, which never lasted more than twenty minutes, and focused on just three main points. He taught people the theology of the Church in a language they could understand, and inspired them to repentance.
At the start of World War I, Archimandrite Nikolai was sent to England on a diplomatic mission to seek help in the struggle of the Serbs against Austria. His doctorate from Oxford gained him an invitation to speak at Westminster Abbey. He remained in England for three short months, but Saint Nikolai left a lasting impression on those who heard him. His writings “The Lord’s Commandments,” and “Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer” impressed many in the Church of England.
Archimandrite Nikolai left England and went to America, where he proved to be a good ambassador for his nation and his Church.
The future saint returned to Serbia in 1919, where he was consecrated as Bishop of Zhicha, and was later transferred to Ochrid. The new hierarch assisted those who were suffering from the ravages of war by establishing orphanages and helping the poor.
Bishop Nikolai took over as leader of Bogomljcki Pokret, a popular movement for spiritual revival which encouraged people to pray and read the Bible. Under the bishop’s direction, it also contributed to a renewal of monasticism. Monasteries were restored and reopened, and this in turn revitalized the spiritual life of the Serbian people.
In 1921, Bishop Nikolai was invited to visit America again and spent two years as a missionary bishop. He gave more than a hundred talks in less than six months, raising funds for his orphanages. Over the next twenty years, he lectured in various churches and universities.
When Germany invaded Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941, Bishop Nikolai, a fearless critic of the Nazis, was arrested and confined in Ljubostir Vojlovici Monastery. In 1944, he and Patriarch Gavrilo were sent to the death camp at Dachau. There he witnessed many atrocities and was tortured himself. When American troops liberated the prisoners in May 1945, the patriarch returned to Yugoslavia, but Bishop Nikolai went to England.
The Communist leader Tito was just coming to power in Yugoslavia, where he persecuted the Church and crushed those who opposed him. Therefore, Bishop Nikolai believed he could serve the Serbian people more effectively by remaining abroad. He went to America in 1946, following a hectic schedule in spite of his health problems which were exacerbated by his time in Dachau. He taught for three years at Saint Sava’s Seminary in Libertyville, IL before he settled at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery in South Canaan, PA in 1951.
He taught at Saint Tikhon’s and also served as the seminary’s Dean and Rector. He was also a guest lecturer at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary in NY, and at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY.
On Saturday March 17, 1956 Bishop Nikolai served his last Liturgy. After the service he went to the trapeza and gave a short talk. As he was leaving, he bowed low and said, “Forgive me, brothers.” This was something unusual which he had not done before.
On March 18, 1956 Saint Nikolai fell asleep in the Lord Whom he had served throughout his life. He was found in his room kneeling in an attitude of prayer. Though he was buried at Saint Sava’s Monastery in Libertyville, IL, he had always expressed a desire to be buried in his homeland. In April of 1991 his relics were transferred to the Chetinje Monastery in Lelich. There he was buried next to his friend and disciple Father Justin Popovich (+ 1979).
English readers are familiar with Saint Nikolai’s PROLOGUE FROM OCHRID, THE LIFE OF ST SAVA, A TREASURY OF SERBIAN SPIRITUALITY, and other writings which are of great benefit for the whole Church. He thought of his writings as silent sermons addressed to people who would never hear him preach. In his life and writings, the grace of the Holy Spirit shone forth for all to see, but in his humility he considered himself the least of men.
Though he was a native of Serbia, Saint Nikolai has a universal significance for Orthodox Christians in all countries. He was like a candle set upon a candlestick giving light to all (MT 5:15). A spiritual guide and teacher with a magnetic personality, he attracted many people to himself. He also loved them, seeing the image of God in each person he met. He had a special love for children, who hastened to receive his blessing whenever they saw him in the street.
He was a man of compunctionate prayer, and possessesed the gift of tears which purify the soul (Saint John Climacus, LADDER, Step 7). He was a true pastor to his flock protecting them from spiritual wolves, and guiding them on the path to salvation. He has left behind many soul-profiting writings which proclaim the truth of Christ to modern man. In them he exhorts people to love God, and to live a life of virtue and holiness. May we also be found worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven through the prayers of Saint Nikolai, and by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever. Amen.
Orthodox icon of Saint Myron, Bishop of Heraklion Crete
Commemorated August 8th.
Saint Myron, Bishop of Crete, a wonderworker, in his youth was a family man, and worked as a farmer. He was known for his goodness, and he assisted everyone who turned to him for help. Once, thieves burst in upon his threshing floor, and Saint Myron himself helped them lift a sack of grain upon their shoulders. By his generosity the saint so shamed the thieves, that in future they began to lead honorable lives.
Out of profound respect for the saint, the Cretan people urged him to accept ordination to the priesthood in his native city of Raucia, and afterwards they chose him Bishop of Crete.
Wisely ruling his flock, Saint Myron received from the Lord the gift of wonderworking. At the time of a flood on the River Triton, the saint stopped its flow and went upon it as upon dry land, and then he sent a man back to the river with his staff to command the river to resume its course. Saint Myron fell asleep in the Lord at the age of 100, around the year 350.
Orthodox icon of Saint Polychronios, Polychronis the Priest- Martyr
Commemorated October 7th
The Holy Martyr Polychronios the Presbyter – was the son of a landowner. He was raised with a love for work and in Christian piety. Reaching maturity, Polychronios left his parental home for Constantinople and began to work for one of the rich vineyard owners. The vineyard owner was amazed at the love for toil and the ascetic life of the youth. For his fine work the saint received much money, with which he built a church. Soon he was ordained to the dignity of presbyter. According to tradition, Saint Polychronios participated in the acts of the First OEcumenical Council. He was murdered by heretics (Arians) at the altar of the church (IV Century).
Orthodox icon of the Prayer of our Savior Jesus Christ in Gethsemane.
"Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch[a]with me.”And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on.[ See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” (Matthew 26: 36-56)
St.Leontius, Patriarch of Jerusalem icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Leontius, Leondios, Leontios, Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Commemorated May 14th.
Saint Leontius was Patriarch of Jerusalem from 1223-1261, according to Saint Gregory Palamas (Nov. 14) and Theodore, a monk of Constantinople. His life was similarly described by Theodore, a monk of Constantinople.
This Life was translated from Greek into the Russian language in an abridged form. It was translated a second time more fully by Saint Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain (July 14), who says the death of the Patriarch actually occured in 1175.
Orthodox contemporary icon of Saint Mary of Clopas- Cleopas, the Myrrh-bearer.
Commemorated April 23.
The name of the store in the icon is a watermark. Your icon will NOT have it
St. Mary was one of the “three Marys” who followed our Lord, stood at the foot of the Cross when he died, and were the first to hear the good news of His Resurrection at the side of His tomb. She was the wife of St. Cleophas, and mother of St. Simon, St. James the Less, St. Jude, and St. Salome (the mother of St. James and St. John).
In 47, St. Mary, along with others, was placed on a boat without sails or oars and pushed out into the open sea. The boat miraculously landed in France, and a church was established there known as “Holy Mary of the Sea.”
She also traveled to Spain as a missionary, and died at Ciudad Rodrigo.
Orthodox icon of the Appearance of our Lord on the road to Emmaus. Contemporary icon.
Note: the name of the store in the icon is a watermark
St. Boniface Enlightener of Germany icon
Orthodox icon Saint Boniface, Apostle to the Germans. Contemporary icon.
Commemorated June 5.
NOTE: the name of the store in the icon is just a watermark.
The life of St. Boniface is not one of miracles or visions or doctrinal disputes but rather of the slow, hard work of evangelizing among those who have not heard the Gospel of Christ.
Born around the year 675 into a Christian Anglo-Saxon peasant family, Boniface was given the name Winfrid by his parents. When he was a young boy, the family was visited by several missionary monks, and the conversations about their work inspired the boy to a desire to devote himself to such work. Soon he was sent to a monastery to be educated and to begin his service to the Church. Winfrid excelled in academics and became a monastic teacher of some renown (a grammar which he wrote for his students still exists).
At the age of 30, he was ordained a priest, but his early desire to be a missionary persisted, and in 716, he left England for Friscia (modern Netherlands) where Ss. Wilfrid and Willibrord had begun the conversion of the native people. However, the political situation in Friscia had deteriorated so much that missionary work was impossible at this time, so Winfrid returned home to his monastery. When he was elected abbot, he refused the office and instead went to Rome to see if the Patriarch (Pope Gregory II) could direct his missionary aspirations. It was at this time that the monk took the name Boniface (for the Latin, bonifatus, fortunate). Gregory sent him to Hesse and Bavaria, but on the way there, Boniface discovered that the political climate in Friscia had improved, so he first spent three years there, assisting the aging Willibrord. Then, after three years in Hesse, Boniface was made a bishop with the responsibility for organizing the newly-emerging church in this expanding area.
Through Boniface’s hard work and patient teaching, the conversion of the Germanic pagan people began to take hold. Part of his success was due to the common links between his native Anglo-Saxon tongue and the dialects of the Teutonic tribes. Boniface constantly sought the advice of other bishops (particularly Bishop Daniel of Winchester). He was also wise in requesting the help of English monastics who came willingly to this land and established monasteries as centers of Christianity and learning.
Boniface’s evangelistic work was primarily for the conversion of pagans to the Christian faith, but he often encountered those who had at some time in the past been baptized but who had slipped back into the practices and beliefs of their pagan past. A famous story is told of Boniface’s dramatic methods of putting an end to pagan beliefs: he called a public assembly and with axes, he and his fellow missionaries cut down a sacred oak tree, dedicated to the god of Thunder, Thor. When the terrified people saw that nothing happened to those who had done this unthinkable thing, they held the missionaries in higher esteem, and when the oak wood was used for the building of a church on that same spot, many became Christians.
Boniface was eventually made a metropolitan (archbishop) and he expanded his organizing and reforming activities to the church in Gaul. His efforts were always more successful when he had the support and cooperation of the political leaders and they were often thwarted by the interference of civil authorities.
In 754, when he was nearly 80 years of age, Boniface desired to return to the place of his first mission work, Friscia. There, as he and a number of other monks were waiting on a river bank preparing for the baptism of some converts, they were suddenly attacked by a band of pagan warriors and Boniface and fifty others were killed. It is said that St. Boniface forbade the monks to shield him, willingly accepting martyrdom, and that he held up the Gospel book he was reading to protect it. The body of the missionary, along with the damaged book, were taken to the monastery he had founded in Fulda, where the relics still reside.
St. Boniface has come to be known as the “Apostle to the Germans”. He has provided us with a remarkable example of zeal for the spreading of the gospel to those who have never heard it and the renewing of the faith in those who have fallen away. His example is one of untiring work in hostile and dangerous environments, patience in waiting for circumstances to become more favorable for evangelization, and wisdom in seeking t
St. Syncletike of Alexandria icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Syncletike (Sngletike, Syncletica) of Alexandria. Contemporary icon.
Commemorated: January 5th
Saint Syncletike was from Alexandria in Egypt. She lived eighty-three years in virginity and asceticism, and became the leader and teacher of many nuns. What Saint Anthony the Great was to men, she became to women: a model of mortification of the flesh, of patience in afflictions, and of wise instruction; for this, she is known a "Amma," a title corresponding to "Abba." Towards the end of her long life, she was stricken with an exceedingly painful disease, which she endured with faith and magnanimity. She reposed in the middle of the fourth century. It is said of Saint Syncletike that she was the virgin who hid Saint Athanasius from the Arians for more than a year in the environs of Alexandria, and it is to Saint Athanasius that her life is ascribed (PG 18:1488-1557).
St.Ia of Cornwall icon
Orthodox icon Saint Ia of Cornwall. Contemporary icon.
Commemorated February 3..
St. Ia or Hya was an Irish virgin of noble birth, who introduced Christianity to this area in the fifth century. She was among the followers of St. Barricius, who was a disciple of St. Patrick.
One day, St. Ia went to the seashore to depart for Cornwall from her native Ireland along with other Sts. Fingar and Piala. Finding that they had gone without her, and fearing that she was too young for such a hazardous journey, she was grief stricken and began to pray.
As she prayed, she noticed a leaf floating on the water and touched it with a rod to see if it would sink. As she looked, the leaf grew bigger and bigger. She realized that God had sent it to her and, trusting Him, she embarked upon the leaf and was carried across the Channel, reaching her destination before the others.
When the King of Cornwall learned that these blessed persons were preaching the Gospel of Christ, he had them put to death by the sword on the same day.