Orthodox icon of Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo.
Commemorated June 15.
Saint Augustine was born in the city of Thagaste in northern Africa. He was raised by his mother, St Monica (May 4), and he received his education at Carthage. In the capacity of professor of rhetoric, Augustine arrived at Milan, Italy where St Ambrose (December 7) was bishop. Under the guidance of St Ambrose, Augustine studied the Holy Scriptures.
The Word of God produced in his soul a radical crisis; he accepted holy Baptism, gave all his wealth to the poor and was tonsured as a monk. In the year 391 Valerian, Bishop of Hippo, ordained Saint Augustine a priest, and in 395, appointed him vicar bishop of the see of Hippo. After the death of Bishop Valerian, St Augustine took his place. During his 35 years as bishop, St Augustine wrote many works devoted to combating the Donatist, Manichaean and Pelagian heresies.
St Augustine wrote many works (according to his student and biographer Possidias, the number approached 1030). Of his works the best known are: The City of God (De civitate Dei), The Confessions, 17 Books against the Pelagians and Handbook of Christian Knowledge (The Enchiridion). St Augustine was concerned above all else that his writings be intelligent and edifying. It is better, he said, for them to condemn our grammar, than for people not to understand. St Augustine died on August 28, 430.
Orthodox icon of Saint Barbara , the Great Martyr at Heliopolis in Syria.
Commemorated December 4th.
Protector Saint of : Pregnant Women
Holy Great Martyr Barbara lived and suffered during the reign of the emperor Maximian (305-311). Her father, the pagan Dioscorus, was a rich and illustrious man in the Syrian city of Heliopolis. After the death of his wife, he devoted himself to his only daughter. Seeing Barbara's extraordinary beauty, Dioscorus built a tower for Barbara, where only her pagan teachers were allowed to see her. The fame of her beauty spread throughout the city, and many sought her hand in marriage. But despite the entreaties of her father, she refused all of them.
During this time a luxurious bathhouse was being built at the house of Dioscorus. By his orders the workers prepared to put two windows on the south side. But Barbara, taking advantage of her father's absence, asked them to make a third window, thereby forming a Trinity of light. On one of the walls of the bath-house Barbara traced a cross with her finger. The cross was deeply etched into the marble, as if by an iron instrument. Later, her footprints were imprinted on the stone steps of the bathhouse. The water of the bathhouse had great healing power.
When Dioscorus returned and expressed dissatisfaction about the change in his building plans, his daughter told him about how she had come to know the Triune God, about the saving power of the Son of God, and about the futility of worshipping idols. Dioscorus went into a rage, grabbed a sword and was on the point of striking her with it. The holy virgin fled from her father, and he rushed after her in pursuit. His way became blocked by a hill, which opened up and concealed the saint in a crevice.
On the other side of the crevice was an entrance leading upwards. St Barbara managed then to conceal herself in a cave on the opposite slope of the hill. After a long and fruitless search for his daughter, he caught and handed her over to the prefect of the city, named Martianus. In the crowd where the martyr was tortured was the virtuous Christian woman Juliana, an inhabitant of Heliopolis. Juliana also wanted to suffer for Christ. She began to denounce the torturers in a loud voice, and they seized her. Both martyrs were tortured for a long time.
Dioscorus himself executed St Barbara. The wrath of God was not slow to punish both torturers, Martianus and Dioscorus. They were killed after being struck by lightning. Many pious Orthodox Christians are in the habit of chanting the Troparion of St Barbara each day, recalling the Savior's promise to her that those who remembered her and her sufferings would be preserved from a sudden, unexpected death, and would not depart this life without benefit of the Holy Mysteries of Christ.
St. Barnabas the Apostle icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Barnabas, the Apostle.
Commemorated June 11th.
Holy Apostle Barnabas of the Seventy was born on the island of Cyprus into the family of the tribe of Levi, and he was named Joseph. He received his education at Jerusalem, being raised with his friend and fellow student Saul (the future Apostle Paul) under the renowned teacher of the Law, Gamaliel. Joseph was pious, he frequented the Temple, he strictly observed the fasts and avoided youthful distractions. During this time period our Lord Jesus Christ began His public ministry. Seeing the Lord and hearing His Divine Words, Joseph believed in Him as the Messiah. Filled with ardent love for the Savior, he followed Him.
The Lord chose him to be one of His Seventy Apostles. The other Apostles called him Barnabas, which means son of consolation. After the Ascension of the Lord to Heaven, Barnabas sold land belonging to him near Jerusalem and he brought the money to the feet of the Apostles, leaving nothing for himself (Acts 4:36-37). When Saul arrived in Jerusalem after his conversion and sought to join the followers of Christ, everyone there was afraid of him since he had persecuted the Church only a short while before. Barnabas, however, came with him to the Apostles and reported how the Lord had appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:26-28).
Saint Barnabas went to Antioch to encourage the believers, Having come and having seen the grace of God, he rejoiced and he urged all to cleave to the Lord with sincerity of heart (Acts 11:23). Then he went to Tarsus, and brought the Apostle Paul to Antioch, where for about a year they taught the people. It was here that the disciples first began to be called Christians (Acts 11:26). With the onset of famine, and taking along generous alms, Paul and Barnabas returned to Jerusalem.
When King Herod killed St James the son of Zebedee, and had the Apostle Peter put under guard in prison to please the Jews, Sts Barnabas and Paul and Peter were led out of the prison by an angel of the Lord. They hid out at the house of Barnabas aunt Maria. Later, when the persecution had quieted down, they returned to Antioch, taking with them Maria's son John, surnamed Mark. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the prophets and teachers there imposed hands upon Barnabas and Paul, and sent them off to do the work to which the Lord had called them (Acts 13:2-3).
Arriving in Seleucia, they sailed off to Cyprus and in the city of Salamis they preached the Word of God in the Jewish synagogues. On Paphos they came across a sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was close with the proconsul Sergius. Wishing to hear the Word of God, the proconsul invited the saints to come to him. The sorcerer attempted to sway the proconsul from the Faith, but the Apostle Paul denounced the sorcerer, who through his words suddenly fell blind. The proconsul believed in Christ (Acts 13:6-12).
From Paphos Barnabas and Paul set sail for Pergamum of Pamphylia, and then they preached to the Jews and the Gentiles at Pisidian Antioch and throughout all that region. The Jews rioted and expelled Paul and Barnabas. The saints arrived in Iconium, but learning that the Jews wanted to stone them, they withdrew to Lystra and Derben. There the Apostle Paul healed a man, crippled in the legs from birth. The people assumed them to be the gods Zeus and Hermes and wanted to offer them sacrifice. The saints just barely persuaded them not to do this (Acts 14:8-18). When the question arose whether those converted from the Gentiles should accept circumcision, Barnabas and Paul went to Jerusalem.
There they were warmly received by the Apostles and elders. The preachers related what God had wrought with them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 14:27). After long deliberations the Apostles collectively resolved not to impose any sort of burden upon Gentile Christians except what was necessary: to refrain from the pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood (Acts 15:19-20). Letters were sent with Barnabas and Paul, and they again preached at Antioch, and after a certain while they decided to visit the other cities where they had visited earlier.
St Barnabas wanted to take Mark along with him, but St Paul did not want to, since earlier he had left them. A quarrel arose, and they separated. Paul took Silas with him and went to Syria and Cilicia, while Barnabas took Mark with him to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-41). Having multiplied the number of believers, St Barnabas traveled to Rome, where he was perhaps the first to preach Christ. St Barnabas founded the episcopal see at Mediolanum (now Milan), and upon his return to Cyprus he continued to preach about Christ the Savior. Then the enraged Jews incited the pagans against Barnabas, and they led him out beyond the city and stoned him, and then built a fire to burn the body.
Later on, having come upon this spot, Mark took up the unharmed body of St Barnabas and buried it in a cave, placing upon the saint's bosom, in accord with his final wishes, the Gospel of Matthew which he had copied in his own hand. St Barnabas died in about the year 62, at age seventy-six. In time, the burial spot was forgotten, but numerous signs took place at this spot. In the year 448, during the time of the emperor Zeno, St Barnabas appeared three times in a dream to Archbishop Anthimus of Cyprus and indicated the place where his relics were buried.
Starting to dig at the indicated spot, Christians found the incorrupt body of the saint, and upon his chest was the Holy Gospel. It was during this time that the Church of Cyprus began to be regarded as Apostolic in origin, and received the right of choosing its head. Thus St Barnabas defended Cyprus against the pretensions of the opponent of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, the heretic surnamed Knapheios, who had usurped the patriarchal throne at Antioch and tried to gain dominion over the Church of Cyprus.
St. Bartholomew or Nathaniel the Apostle icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Bartholomew or Nathaniel the Apostle. Icon of 16 cent. Moscow.
Commemorated June 11.
Saint Bartholomew or Nathaniel, was one of the Twelve Apostles, and was from Galilee.He traveled preaching the Gospel in Arabia and Persia, and especially in India. He also is believed to have traveled to Armenia. According to some, Saint Bartholomew ended his life by being crucified, or by being flayed alive, in Albanopolis (Urbanopolis) of Armenia.
St. Basil the Great icon (1)
Orthodox icon of Saint Basil, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia (1).
Commemorated January 1.
Saint Basil the Great was born about the end of the year 329 in Caesarea of Cappadocia, to a family renowned for their learning and holiness. His parents' names were Basil and Emily. His mother Emily (commemorated July 19) and his grandmother Macrina (Jan. 14) are Saints of the Church, together with all his brothers and sisters: Macrina, his elder sister (July 19), Gregory of Nyssa (Jan. to), Peter of Sebastia (Jan. 9), and Naucratius. Basil studied in Constantinople under the sophist Libanius, then in Athens, where also he formed a friendship with the young Gregory, a fellow Cappadocian, later called "the Theologian."
Through the good influence of his sister Macrina (see July 19), he chose to embrace the ascetically life, abandoning his worldly career. He visited the monks in Egypt, in Palestine, in Syria, and in Mesopotamia, and upon returning to Caesarea, he departed to a hermitage on the Iris River in Pontus, not far from Annesi, where his mother and his sister Macrina were already treading the path of the ascetically life; here he also wrote his ascetically homilies.
About the year 370, when the bishop of his country reposed, he was elected to succeed to his throne and was entrusted with the Church of Christ, which he tended for eight years, living in voluntary poverty and strict asceticism, having no other care than to defend holy Orthodoxy as a worthy successor of the Apostles. The Emperor Valens, and Modestus, the Eparch of the East, who were of one mind with the Arians, tried with threats of exile and of torments to bend the Saint to their own confession, because he was the bastion of Orthodoxy in all Cappadocia, and preserved it from heresy when Arianism was at its strongest.
But he set all their malice at nought, and in his willingness to give himself up to every suffering for the sake of the Faith, showed himself to be a martyr by volition. Modestus, amazed at Basil's fearlessness in his presence, said that no one had ever so spoken to him. "Perhaps," answered the Saint, "you have never met a bishop before." The Emperor Valens himself was almost won over by Basil's dignity and wisdom. When Valens' son fell gravely sick, he asked Saint Basil to pray for him. The Saint promised that his son would be restated if Valens agreed to have him baptized by the Orthodox; Valens agreed, Basil prayed, and the son was restored.
But afterwards the Emperor had him baptized by Arians, and the child died soon after. Later, Valens, persuaded by his counsellors, decided to send the Saint into exile because he would not accept the Arians into communion; but his pen broke when he was signing the edict of banishment. He tried a second time and a third, but the same thing happened, so that the Emperor was filled with dread, and tore up the document, and Basil was not banished.
The truly great Basil, spent with extreme ascetical practices and continual labors, at the helm of the church, departed to the Lord on the 1st of January, in 379. at the age of forty-nine. His writings are replete with wisdom and erudition, and rich are these gifts he set forth the doctrines concerning the mysteries both of the creation (see his Hexaemeron) and of the Holy Trinity (see On the Holy Spirit). Because of the majesty and keenness of his eloquence, he is honored as "the revealer of heavenly things" and "the Great." Saint Basil is also celebrated on January 30th with Saint Gregory the Theologian and Saint John Chrysostom.
St. Basil the Great icon (2)
Orthodox icon of Saint Basil the Great.
Commemorated January 1st.
St. Beatrice the Martyr icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Beatrice or Beatrix the Martyr.
Commemorated July 29.
Saint Beatrice lived around 303 A.D.
St. Benedict of Nursia icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Benedict, Benedictus of Nursia. Contemporary icon
Commemorated March 14.
Saint Benedict, founder of monasticism in the West, was born in the Italian city of Nursia in the year 480. When he was fourteen years of age, the saint’s parents sent him to Rome to study. Unsettled by the immorality around him, he decided to devote himself to a different sort of life.
At first Saint Benedict settled near the church of the holy Apostle Peter in the village of Effedum, but news of his ascetic life compelled him to go farther into the mountains. There he encountered the hermit Romanus, who tonsured him into monasticism and directed him to live in a remote cave at Subiaco. From time to time, the hermit would bring him food.
For three years the saint waged a harsh struggle with temptations and conquered them. People soon began to gather to him, thirsting to live under his guidance. The number of disciples grew so much, that the saint divided them into twelve communities. Each community was comprised of twelve monks and was a separate skete. The saint gave each skete an igumen from among his experienced disciples, and only the novice monks remained with Saint Benedict for instruction.
The strict monastic Rule Saint Benedict established for the monks was not accepted by everyone, and more than once he was criticized and abused by dissenters.
Finally he settled in Campagna and on Mount Cassino he founded the Monte Cassino monastery, which for a long time was a center of theological education for the Western Church. The monastery possessed a remarkable library. Saint Benedict wrote his Rule, based on the experience of life of the Eastern desert-dwellers and the precepts of Saint John Cassian the Roman (February 29).
The Rule of Saint Benedict dominated Western monasticism for centuries (by the year 1595 it had appeared in more than 100 editions). The Rule prescribed the renunciation of personal possessions, as well as unconditional obedience, and constant work. It was considered the duty of older monks to teach the younger and to copy ancient manuscripts. This helped to preserve many memorable writings from the first centuries of Christianity.
Every new monk was required to live as a novice for a year, to learn the monastic Rule and to become acclimated to monastic life. Every deed required a blessing. The head of this cenobitic monastery is the igumen. He discerns, teaches, and explains. The igumen solicits the advice of the older, experienced brethren, but he makes the final decisions. Keeping the monastic Rule was strictly binding for everyone and was regarded as an important step on the way to perfection.
Saint Benedict was granted by the Lord the gift of foresight and wonderworking. He healed many by his prayers. The monk foretold the day of his death in 547. The main source for his Life is the second Dialogue of Saint Gregory.
Saint Benedict’s sister, Saint Scholastica (February 10), also became famous for her strict ascetic life and was numbered among the saints.
St. Blaise icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Blaise, Blasius, Bishop of Sebaste.
Commemorated February 11.
Protector Saint of :Throat diseases
This is the Orthodox icon of the Hieromartyr Blaise who was consecrated Bishop of Sebaste during the reign of the Roman emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Licinius (307-324), fierce persecutors of Christians. St Blaise encouraged his flock, visited the imprisoned, and gave support to the martyrs.Many hid themselves from the persecutors by going off to desolate and solitary places. St Blaise also hid himself away on Mount Argeos, where he lived in a cave. Wild beasts came up to him and meekly waited until the saint finished his prayer and blessed them.
The saint also healed sick animals by laying his hands upon them. The refuge of the saint was discovered by servants of the governor Agrilaus who reported to their master that Christians were hiding on the mountain, and he sent soldiers to arrest them. St Blaise followed the soldiers. Along the way the saint healed the sick and worked other miracles. They subjected the saint to tortures. When they led him back to the prison, seven women followed behind and gathered up the drops of blood.
They arrested them and tried to compel them to worship the idols. The women pretended to consent to this and said that first they needed to wash the idols in the waters of a lake. They took the idols and threw them in a very deep part of the lake, and after this the Christians were fiercely tortured. The seven holy women were beheaded. The governor ordered that the martyr be thrown into a lake. The saint, going down to the water, signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, and he walked on it as though on dry land.
Addressing the pagans standing about on shore, he challenged them to come to him while calling on the help of their gods. Sixty-eight men of the governor's retinue entered the water, and immediately drowned. The saint, however, heeding the angel who had appeared to him, returned to shore. Agrilaus was in a rage over losing his finest servants, and he gave orders to behead St Blaise, and the two boys entrusted to him, the sons of the martyr. Before his death, the martyr prayed for the whole world, and especially for those honoring his memory. This occurred in about the year 316. We pray to St Blaise for the health of domestic animals, and for protection from wild beasts.
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. Brendan icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Brendan, the Navigator or Voyager.
Commemorated May 16th.
St. Bridget icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Bridget, Brigit, Bridget of Kildare Ireland.