Orthodox icon of Saint Agnes, Virgin-martyr of Rome.
Commemorated January 21st.
The holy Virgin Martyr Agnes was born at Rome during the third century.When she refused to enter into marriage with the son of the city official Symphronius, one of his associates revealed to him that Agnes was a Christian. The wicked Eparch ordered that she be stripped and and sent to a brothel. But the Lord would not permit the saint to suffer shame. As soon as she was disrobed, long thick hair grew from her head covering her body. An angel was also appointed to guard her. Standing at the door of the brothel, he shone with a heavenly light which blinded anyone who came near her. The son of the Eparch also came to defile the virgin, but fell down dead before he could touch her. Through the fervent prayer of St Agnes, he was restored to life. After seeing this miracle, 160 men believed in God and were baptized, and then suffered martyrdom. St Agnes was given over to torture. They tried to burn her as a witch, but the saint remained unharmed in the fire, praying to God. After this they killed her by stabbing her in the throat. Through her death at the age of thirteen, St Agnes escaped everlasting death and inherited eternal life. The holy virgin martyr was buried by her parents in a field they owned outside of Rome. Many miracles occurred at the grave of St Agnes. Her holy and grace-filled relics rest in the church built in her honor, along the Via Nomentana.
St. Akrive icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Akrive the Virgin-martyr of Heraclea.
Commemorated September 1st.
St. Alban icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Alban, First-Martyr of England.
Commemorated June 22.
St. Alexander Nevsky icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Alexander Nevsky.
Commemorated November 23rd.
St. Alexander Patriach of Constantinople icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Alexander, Patriarch of Constantinople.
Commemorated August 30.
NOTE: the sizes are approximately.
Saint Alexander clash with the activities of heretics who sought to distort the teachings of the Church. St Alexander (325-340) was a vicar bishop during the time of St Metrophanes (June 4), the first Patriarch of Constantinople. Because of the patriarch's extreme age, Alexander substituted for him at the First Ecumenical Synod at Nicea (325). Upon his death, St Metrophanes left instructions in his will to elect his vicar to the throne of Constantinople. During these times His Holiness Patriarch Alexander had to contend with the Arians and with pagans.
Once, in a dispute with a pagan philosopher the saint said to him, In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ I command you to be quiet! and the pagan suddenly became mute. When he gestured with signs to acknowledge his errors and affirm the correctness of the Christian teaching, then his speech returned to him and he believed in Christ together with many other pagan philosophers. The faithful rejoiced at this, glorifying God Who had given such power to His saint. The heretic Arius was punished through the prayer of St Alexander. Arius had apparantly agreed to enter into communion with the Orthodox.
When the Emperor asked him if he believed as the Fathers of Nicea taught, he placed his hand upon his breast (where he had cunningly concealed beneath his clothes a document with his own false creed written upon it) and said, This is what I believe! St Constantine (May 21), unaware of the deceitful wickedness of Arius, set a day for receiving him into the Church. All night long St Alexander prayed, imploring the Lord not to permit this heretic to be received into communion with the Church. In the morning, Arius set out triumphantly for the church, surrounded by imperial counselors and soldiers, but divine judgment overtook him.
Stopping to take care of a physical necessity, his bowels burst forth and he perished in his own blood and filth, as did Judas (Acts 1:18). His Holiness Patriarch Alexander, having toiled much, died in the year 340 at the age of 98. St Gregory the Theologian (January 25) mentioned him afterwards in an encomium to the people of Constantinople. The Service to St Alexander was printed in Venice in 1771. According to some ancient manuscripts, St Alexander ought to be commemorated on June 2. Today he is remembered together with the holy Patriarchs John the Faster (September 2) and Paul the New (eighth century).
St. Alexander, Patriarch of Alexandria icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Alexander Patriarch of Alexandria, the Confessor.
Commemorated May 29.
Our father among the Saint Alexander of Alexandria was the Pope of Alexandria and leader of the Church of Alexandria during the early part of the fourth century. During his reign he had to deal with major issues that confronted the Church as it gained its freedom from Roman persecutions, including the rise of Arianism and the dating of Pascha. He was a leader of the opposition to the heresy of Arianism at the First Ecumenical Council.
St. Alexandra the Empress icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Alexandra, Wife of Diocletian.
Commemorated April 23.
The Holy Empress Alexandra was the wife of Emperor Diocletian. Her supposed death was described in the Martyrdom of St. George, which was written immediately after his death. The empress, however, received the crown of martyrdom several years later, in 314.
Many events occurred during these years. In 305 Emperor Diocletian resigned the throne and power passed to his co-ruler Maximian Galerius, a fanatic pagan, as well as a coarse and fierce soldier. His wife was St. Valeria, the daughter of the holy Empress Alexandra, whom Diocletian had given in marriage against her will.
St. Alexandra raised her daughter in Christian piety. When Galerius died, Emperor Maximinus sought her hand in marriage. When he was refused, he banished St. Valeria to Syria, where she lived with her mother.
After the death of Maximinus in 311 the mother and daughter arrived in Nicomedia, trusting in the mercy of Emperor Licinius. Together with St. Constantine, Licinius had subscribed to the Edict of Milan, which gave Christians freedom of religion, but he secretly remained their enemy.
Licinius gave orders to execute the holy Empress Alexandra and her daughter, Valeria. They were beheaded, and their bodies thrown into the sea.
St. Alexios, Man of God icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Alexios, man of God.
Commemorated March 17.
Saint Alexios was born at Rome into the family of the pious and poverty-loving Euphemianus and Aglais. The couple was childless for a long time and constantly prayed the Lord to grant them a child. And the Lord consoled the couple with the birth of their son Alexis. At six years of age the child began to read and successfully studied the mundane sciences, but it was with particular diligence that he read Holy Scripture. When he was a young man, he began to imitate his parents: he fasted strictly, distributed alms and beneath his fine clothing he secretly wore a hair shirt. Early on there burned within him the desire to leave the world and serve God.
His parents, however, had arranged for Alexis to marry a beautiful and virtuous bride. On his wedding night, Alexios gave her his ring and his belt (which were very valuable) and said, "Keep these things, Beloved, and may the Lord be with us until His grace provides us with something better." Secretly leaving his home, he boarded a ship sailing for Mesopotamia. Arriving in the city of Edessa, where the Icon of the Lord Not-made-by-Hands (August 16) was preserved, Alexis sold everything that he had, distributed the money to the poor and began to live near the church of the Most Holy Theotokos under a portico.
The saint used a portion of the alms he received to buy bread and water, and he distributed the rest to the aged and infirm. Each Sunday he received the Holy Mysteries. The parents sought the missing Alexis everywhere, but without success. The servants sent by Euphemianus also arrived in Edessa, but they did not recognize the beggar sitting at the portico as their master. His body was withered by fasting, his comeliness vanished, his stature diminished. The saint recognized them and gave thanks to the Lord that he received alms from his own servants. The inconsolable mother of St Alexis confined herself in her room, incessantly praying for her son. His wife also grieved with her in-laws. St Alexios dwelt in Edessa for seventeen years.
Once, the Mother of God spoke to the sacristan of the church where the saint lived: Lead into My church that Man of God, worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven. His prayer rises up to God like fragrant incense, and the Holy Spirit rests upon him. The sacristan began to search for such a man, but was not able to find him for a long time. Then he prayed to the Most Holy Theotokos, beseeching Her to clear up his confusion. Again a voice from the icon proclaimed that the Man of God was the beggar who sat in the church portico. The sacristan found St Alexios and brought him into the church. Many recognized him and began to praise him. The saint secretly boarded a ship bound for Cilicia, intending to visit the church of St Paul in Tarsus.
But God ordained otherwise. A storm took the ship far to the West and it reached the coast of Italy. The saint journeyed to Rome and decided to live in his own house. Unrecognized, he humbly asked his father's permission to settle in some corner of his courtyard. Euphemianus settled Alexis in a specially constructed cell and gave orders to feed him from his table. Living at his parental home, the saint continued to fast and he spent day and night at prayer. He humbly endured insults and jeering from the servants of his father. The cell of Alexis was opposite his wife's windows, and the ascetic suffered grievously when he heard her weeping. Only his immeasurable love for God helped the saint endure this torment. St Alexis dwelt at the house of his parents for seventeen years and the Lord revealed to him the day of his death. Then the saint, taking paper and ink, wrote certain things that only his wife and parents would know. He also asked them to forgive him for the pain he had caused them.
On the day of St Alexios death in 411, Archbishop Innocent (402-417) was serving Liturgy in the presence of the emperor Honorius (395-423). During the services a Voice was heard from the altar: " Come unto Me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Mt.11:28). All those present fell to the ground in terror. The Voice continued: On Friday morning the Man of God comes forth from the body; have him pray for the city, that you may remain untroubled.They began to search throughout Rome, but they did not find the saint. Thursday evening the Pope was serving Vigil in the Church of St Peter.
He asked the Lord to show them where to find the Man of God. After Liturgy the Voice was heard again in the temple: Seek the Man of God in the house of Euphemianus. All hastened there, but the saint was already dead. His face shone like the face of an angel, and his hand clasped the paper, and they were unable to take it. They placed the saint's body on a cot, covered with costly coverings. The Pope and the Emperor bent their knees and turned to the saint, as to one yet alive, asking him to open his hand.
And the saint heard their prayer. When the letter was read, the righteous one's wife and parents tearfully venerated his holy relics. The body of the saint was placed in the center of the city. The emperor and the Pope carried the body of the saint into the church, where it remained for a whole week, and then was placed in a marble crypt. A fragrant myrrh began to flow from the holy relics, bestowing healing upon the sick. The venerable relics of St Alexis, the Man of God, were buried in the church of St Boniface. The relics were uncovered in the year 1216.
Orthodox icon of Saint Anastasia the Deliverer from the Potions, the Great Martyr.
Commemorated on December 22 .
The Great martyr Anastasia the Deliverer from Potions, a Roman by birth, suffered for Christ at the time of Diocletian's persecution of Christians. Her father was a pagan, but her mother was secretly a Christian. St. Anastasia's teacher in her youth was an educated and pious Christian named Chrysogonus. After the death of her mother, her father gave St. Anastasia in marriage to a pagan named Publius, but, feigning illness, she preserved her virginity. Clothing herself in the garb of a beggar, and accompanied by only one servant, she visited the prisons. She fed, doctored and often ransomed captives who were suffering for their faith in Christ. When her servant told Publius, he subjected his wife to a beating and locked her up.
St. Anastasia then began to correspond secretly with Chrysogonus, who told the saint to be patient, to cleave to the Cross of Christ, and to accept the Lordu2019s will. He also foretold the impending death of Publius in the sea. After a certain while, Publius did indeed drown, as he was setting out with a delegation to Persia. After the death of her husband, St. Anastasia began to distribute her property to the poor and suffering. Diocletian was informed that the Christians who filled the prisons of Rome stoically endured tortures. He gave orders to kill them all in a single night, and for Chrysogonus to be sent to him at Aquileia.
St. Anastasia followed her teacher at a distance. The Emperor interrogated Chrysogonus personally, but could not make him renounce his faith. Therefore, he commanded that he be beheaded and thrown into the sea. The body and severed head of the holy martyr were carried to shore by the waves. There by divine Providence, the relics were found by a presbyter named Zoilus who placed them in a coffin, and concealed them in his home. St. Chrysogonus appeared to Zoilus and informed him that martyrdom was at hand for Agape, Chione and Irene, three sisters who lived nearby. He told him to send St. Anastasia to encourage them.
St. Chrysogonus foretold that Zoilus would also die on the same day. Nine days later, the words of St. Chrysogonus were fulfilled. Zoilus fell asleep in the Lord, and St. Anastasia visited the three maidens before they were tortured. When these three martyrs gave up their souls to the Lord, she buried them. Having carried out her teacheru2019s request, the saint went from city to city ministering to Christian prisoners. Proficient in the medical arts of the time, she zealously cared for captives far and wide, healing their wounds and relieving their suffering. Because of her labors, St. Anastasia received the name Deliverer from Potions (Pharmakolytria), since by her intercessions she healed many from the effects of potions, poisons, and other harmful substances. In her journeys, she met a pious young widow, Theodota, finding in her a faithful helper. Theodota was taken for questioning when it was learned that she was a Christian. Meanwhile, St. Anastasia was arrested in Illyricum. This occurred just after all the Christian captives there had been murdered in a single night by order of Diocletian.
St. Anastasia had come to one of the prisons, and finding no one there, began to weep loudly. The jailers realized that she was a Christian and took her to the prefect of the district, who tried to persuade her to deny Christ by threatening her with torture. After his unsuccessful attempts to persuade St. Anastasia to offer sacrifice to idols, he handed her over to the pagan priest Ulpian in Rome. The cunning pagan offered St. Anastasia the choice between luxury and riches or grievous sufferings. He set before her gold, precious stones and fine clothing, and also fearsome instruments of torture. The crafty man was put to shame by the bride of Christ. St. Anastasia refused the riches and chose the tools of torture. But the Lord prolonged the earthly life of the saint, and Ulpian gave her three days to reconsider.
Charmed by Anastasia's beauty, the pagan priest decided to defile her purity. However, when he tried to touch her, he suddenly was struck blind. His head began to ache so severely that he screamed like a madman. He asked to be taken to a pagan temple to appeal to the idols for help, but on the way he fell down and died. St. Anastasia was set free, and she and Theodota again devoted themselves to the care of imprisoned Christians. Before long, St. Theodota and her three sons accepted martyrdom. Her eldest son, Evodus, stood bravely before the judge and endured beatings without protest. After lengthy tortures, they were all thrown into a red-hot oven. St. Anastasia was caught again and condemned to death by starvation. She remained in prison without food for sixty days. St. Theodota appeared to the martyr every night and gave her courage. Seeing that hunger caused St. Anastasia no harm, the judge sentenced her to drowning along with other prisoners.
Among them was Eutychianus, who was condemned for his Christian faith. The prisoners were put into a boat which went out into the open sea. The soldiers bored holes in the boat and got into a galley. St. Theodota appeared to the captives and steered the ship to shore. When they reached dry land, 120 men believed in Christ and were baptized by Sts. Anastasia and Eutychianus. All were captured and received a martyr's crown. St. Anastasia was stretched between four pillars and burned alive. A certain pious woman named Apollinaria buried her body, which was unharmed by the fire, in the garden outside her house. In the fifth century, the relics of St. Anastasia were transferred to Constantinople, where a church was built and dedicated to her. Later, her head and one hand were transferred to the Monastery of St. Anastasia near Mount Athos.
St. Anastasia the Deliverer from the Potions icon (1)
Orthodox icon of Saint Anastasia, Great martyr, the Deliverer from Potions.
Commemorated December 22.
This Saint, who was from Rome, was a most comely, wealthy, and virtuous maiden, the daughter of Praepextatus and Fausta. It was her mother who instructed her in the Faith of Christ. The Saint was joined to a man named Publius Patricius, who was prodigal in life and impious in disposition, but she was widowed after a short time. Henceforth, she went about secretly to the dwellings of the poor and the prisons where the Martyrs of Christ were, and brought them whatever was needed for their daily subsistence.
She washed their wounds and loosed them from their fetters, and consoled them in their anguish. Also, because the Saint, through her intercessions, has healed many from the ill effects of spells, potions, poisons, and other harmful substances, she has received the name "Deliverer from Potions." Since the fame of her deeds had spread about, she was arrested by Diocletian's minions, and after enduring many torments she was put to death by fire in the year 290.